Sunday, 8 March 2009

Error Correction

In this lower spoke of the Northern Line it is not often time to buy one of those green desk lamps which TV lawyers have; there isn't enough fusty grandeur flung out by the colonnades (if there are any colonnades) to suggest the purchase in the first place. But the thought suddenly struck me and wouldn't be shaken away. I don't recall it crossing my mind that I'd have nowhere to put it. It's true, partially true, at least, in that while I did in theory have the space, I didn't have the right kind of desk (I still don't have a desk at all), or the right kind of room; and those things are a good degree more crucial. We play to these eddies, anyway, little local short-lived narrative whorls which are worthwhile, worthwhile because even a transitory spring in your step is a spring in your step, and is good and vital. And, despite being by now on the escalator and so doing no actual stepping, I had one of these, having made my mind up. It would have a brassy base, and a green shade. The switch preferably black.

Buying it, even trying to buy it, in the end, was something I fell before leaving the station into deciding against. Not for reasons of space (which as I mentioned before were really not reasons at all), nor either for the vague aesthetic problem of how to situate it somewhere suitable in my room (I didn't at the time even have a room); it wasn't even that it occurred to me (which it ought to have done) that I hadn't the first idea where to search for this lamp. It would have been around the time I pulled my travelcard out of the barrier. I strode, bashed through the plastic saloon-bar gates, enthusiastically, purposefully now, accompanied in my head by conical-bore brass instruments, timpani, that kind of thing, as well as for some reason the sensation of wearing brogues (I wasn't), and a brief desire to buy a newspaper and hold it under my arm the way a businessman would, and walk down the high street in that angular way, full of compact intent and pinstriped vigour. Thinking about it now, with the benefit of so much hindsight (and a red anglepoise), it's probably that I realised, in this case, that not even trying might, for once, in the end, be less hurtful than actually succeeding, and needing thereafter to confront something like consequences, and, most likely, their having been misjudged.

A fortnight later I was overcome with a similar momentary pang involving a leather-bound appointments diary like the one my piano teacher used to have. I gathered myself to deliberate, somewhere airy and crisp in West London, and bought one, and sat down with a coffee to write my name and address in the front with an equally new pen, a real treat of a moment, but haven't used it since, almost certainly because I never have anything to be on time for. I'll not throw it away, perhaps because it was relatively expensive, but I've let it slip to the bottom of a pile somewhere and will let it stay there. Having been right about the lamp is on the back-burner as something to admit later (if it turns out to be the case).