I’m reading Sally Rooney’s, Conversations with Friends and wishing I could have more of them myself. Not more friends – although one can never have too many – but more conversations. I’m having plenty of on the phone, and via facetime, zoom and the rest, but I want the meandering type, the interruptions that come with someone sitting a foot or two away, the closeness of being able to read another person’s body language, nudge them in the ribs, reach across the table and eat that piece of brownie they’re not going to finish. As it is, I wander around the flat having conversations with myself. Mine is not the Karen Carpenter type of ‘talking to myself and feeling old’ that she does on her rainy days and Mondays. My inner chatter is lighter than that and I can as easily talk to myself on a Wednesday when the sun is shining. There’s a touch of Gar from Philadelphia, Here I Come! in me. Remember Gar with the two sides to his character, private and public, where his thoughts and tone of voice changed according to whichever version of himself he had slipped into? Then again, maybe I shouldn’t compare myself to Gar; he was a fairly well-rounded emotional mess!
Dialogue featured in one of my online writing classes at the weekend. I read my piece into the screen and it was mistaken by one of my classmates to be an inner dialogue with myself. I felt a little piqued by the suggestion, then reflected that he was actually right, for I do have bouncing arguments inside my head all the time. Contrary to what Oscar Wilde maintained – “I like to do all the talking myself, it saves time and prevents arguments” – I bicker aloud constantly as I rattle around the flat alone.
This city is degenerating, it’s like something out of a Cormac McCarthy dystopian novel.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, as far as I can see it’s re-generating: more birds, less pollution.
Open your eyes! Fly-tipping, feral teenagers bush drinking, drug addicts staggering down Princes Street at eleven in the morning! The fabric of society is disintegrating.
But those things have always been with…
No, it’s worse now, much worse. It’s brought out everyone’s selfish streak. People are fighting over bags of flour. Flour is the new toilet roll.
Flour? But how you possibly clean your…
I mean it figuratively. Flour is the new lockdown object of desire.
Well, isn’t that nice? More home baking.
They’re not baking, you idiot, they’re stockpiling because food shortages are on the way.
Says nobody, out loud. The fact is being hidden. But you mark my words. They’re coming. Along with the infestation of rats.
I’ve not seen any.
That’s cause you’re too busy looking the sky, and the birds and the budding trees. Too caught up in bloody nature to get with reality.
Isn’t reality grounded in nature? Come on and we’ll go for a walk, there’s a magnolia tree I want to show you. Amazing blooms. And the cherry blossom; going to be a great year for all of it.
I don’t always argue, though, often my chats are perfectly amicable, forgettable, indecipherable. Oh, he did know a thing or two about talking to himself, did Oscar Wilde. Here’s another gem. “I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that I sometimes don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” I know the feeling!