I was on Palace Pier for the starling murmuration just before sunset and there are a few more of the retro postcard-style stage sets you can stand behind and put your head in for a photo.
Have so many people been stuck and unable to get out again? I stood and tried to replay the scenario and came up with ears.
The classic sign is the one that tells you not to throw stones at the sign. Yes, it does exist. It exists in a poem by the brilliant Matthew Sweeney, but it also exists in reality, in Donegal, which is probably where he got it from. It is a sign invented for meditation, a koan to prove that logic isn't enough in life.
One of the best signs, or notices I've seen, was on a lamppost along Queen's Park Road a couple of years ago. Under a poster for the circus, featuring a tiger, was an A4 sheet asking for sightings of a missing cat. I was on my way to a meeting and I wondered if the person who'd put it there had hoped everyone who passed by would see the joke, or at least, remember it enough to look at home in sheds or cellars, in case a cat had sneaked in out of the rain and cold.
I always meant to go back and take a photo but didn't and eventually both posters disappeared and now exist only in my mind. But I saw another one pasted on top of a poster.
|Missing cat, Lewes Road|
Muafangejo died at just 43 in 1987 from a heart attack. He'd suffered from depression but after his breakdown got a degree and taught art in South Africa.
I hadn't planned to remember this man or his work. I saw it first the year he died in London when a friend was working at the South Bank Centre. He's particularly known for his piece, Hope and Optimism in spite of the present difficulties - an understated title if ever there was one, given the context he was working in at the time. Some of his work, too, resonates in the work Risenga did when he was studying - there is the same simplicity, power, reminders of another way of life.
And his role as a documenter of contemporary life reminds me too, of the family story told on a gravestone in one of the cemeteries behind me.
Helen at five years old
Thomas Frances seven years later at 18 years old
William Burdett seven years later at 19 years old
Frank George three years after that at 18 years old
Charles Henry six years later at 19 years old.
Which in itself, brings me back to the apocryphal small ad quoted by Ernest Hemingway and devotees of flash fiction about unworn baby shoes.
Sometimes a story needs a lot of words, sometimes very few.
Or sometimes those words aren't telling a story, but pointing to a way into one you will make up and navigate for as long as you need or want.