Yes, it’s come to this, poetry, of a sort. I wrote “Statue” back in nineteen seventy something, I was an angst ridden teenager trying to come up with a theory, no, a working model of the universe, how it worked, where I fitted in, why I must fit in, why girls didn’t like me. Did girls like me? They never said as much; angst, angst, angst. I don’t think I’d like to be a teenager again, not even if I could know then what I do know now.
The only thing I miss about being a teenager is acne, acne and the ability to still believe in the future. Now that I am living in the future, from the perspective of my teenage years, it all seems so ordinary, so pedestrian… what happened? No, that’s a bit unfair; I still have faith in the future, in my future but it is somewhat tempered by the things that I do know now and an appreciation of my capabilities and limitations.
Back to the future.
Anyway, back to the present – and the past; as I said, I wrote this when I was 16 or 17, I can’t remember exactly but I did write quite a bit back then, I wrote with a fountain pen and I had, though I say so myself, quite good handwriting. Years of using a computer keyboard have kyboshed my handwriting; I can still write beautifully with a fountain pen but it takes a lot of concentration, back then it just flowed, or so I seem to remember.
With a glimpse of that awful eternity I beheld the look in your eyes.
Empty, cold, white, quite statue like.
Dry and motionless, breathless and alone.
Hold my hand, stone, reach out to me. Hold my hand.
Timeless, breathless, release your selfless.
Look at me, as I look at you.
Wondering who you’ve remained here all these long years through just to say hello to.
Say hello to me, hold my hand, reach out to me.
Ageless, tireless, pure and blameless.
Look through me, as I look to you,
Wondering who you would say hello to. How to say hello. Just say hello to me.
Reach out, hold my hand stone. Say hello.
Hold my hand, stone, quite statue like.
Dry and motionless, empty, cold, white.
With a glimpse of the look in your eyes, I embraced that awful eternity.
Tricky thing, memory, sometimes.
I remember long sunny days, the smell of cellulose dope; I dabbled in aeronautical engineering, well, balsawood and tissue. I designed and built two balsawood and tissue gliders. I used an aerofoil silhouette from a plan in a copy of Aeromodeller but the rest was all mine. The first one flew! It flew very well in fact. Spurred-on by this success I built another, slightly larger one. The wing span of the first one, which I grandiosely named “Gaia” was about three feet, the second one had a wing span of around four feet, this one was named “Uranus” but something in my design had changed and Uranus never really flew as well as Gaia. They are both still with me, up in the loft. Both of the fuselages anyway and one of the wing assemblies as I recall.
I had Airfix kits on the go, I still have some, unmade, in my “projects cupboard”. They aren’t mine from the seventies, someone’s, but not mine. I bought them a few years back, trying to re-live childhood memories, a return to childhood. Hmm, that would seem to contradict what I said earlier about not wanting to be a teenager again. No, I would not want to be a teenager again but I do fondly remember some of the feelings, the experiences of teenage years, maybe those were what I was trying to regain.
In the cupboard.
Unbuilt kits in cupboards, waiting for the day when they will be painted and assembled, waiting to be complete, but in that completion they become obsolete, kits no longer.
Are we like that? Waiting to become? Older? Wiser? Grown up? Accomplished? Fulfilled? Ratified? Vilified? Vindicated? Assembled? Do we ever, become? Are we at the moment of realisation, obsolete?
Look at that, I’ve gone all philosophical now; let’s get back to the past. Airfix kits, unbuilt, in a cupboard, waiting.
R.M.S. Mauretania, 1:600 scale. I built that kit when I was seven or eight years old; it was one of my favourite kits, one of my favourite ships. Yes, it’s a boy thing I suppose, having a favourite ship. I had several in fact but Mauritania sticks in my mind as a particular favourite. And making a kit like that brings you close to the subject of your affection.
I had seen photographs of the actual ship in books; some had strange, almost surreal perspectives, looking up from the bottom of a dry dock, the prow of the ship towering over the photographer. I held the partly completed hull in my hands and squinted up at the bow trying to recreate that viewpoint and I understood what it was that I was looking at in the photograph. I held that hull, I ran my fingers along it, I knew the curves and shapes. I understood it better.
When I saw the kit again a few years back, second-hand but unmade and in original box I just had to buy it, it was a tangible link to my childhood. When I got it home I opened the box and looked through all the parts still on their sprue. I was a child again. Then the box was put into the “projects cupboard”.
Don’t you have a “projects cupboard”? I do. It’s somewhere to store-up things for the future. Maybe you do have a “projects cupboard” but not a physical thing on a wall, maybe you, like me, store intentions for future perusal. I have a list in my head of course, things that I would like to do, things that I tell myself that I must do but I also have this little cupboard with some projects in it. It’s a comforting feeling to know that come the appropriate “rainy day” I have a little project to dabble in. R.M.S. Mauretania, 1:600 scale is one of those projects.
Now I come to think of it, Gaia and Uranus are also in the “projects cupboard”, not physically, they wouldn’t fit but in some sort of intangible, ethereal extension of the cupboard, waiting for repair, waiting for the smell of cellulose dope once more to permeate the house.
So there you are: Statue, by me and a few odd perspectives, by me. And who knows, I may in due course share with you some of my other scribblings from way back in the seventies. I may even build that kit of the Mauretania, Gaia and Uranus may fly again.