SUGGESTED LISTENING DURING (and before and after) READING.
Let’s see if I can reconstruct a clear and plausible reason why I’m now sitting on the couch, surrounded by what remains of daylight, watching a gramophone in my livingroom. With a phone receiver in my hand. A Gramophone! Big, too big for such a small house. But beautiful, so beautiful.
Well, I can explain, as usual. It was a common Sunday. It was… today. I worked in the morning. I love working on Sunday morning. London is so exquisitely atheist, that I’ve never felt alien, like I used to feel in Ireland for not devoting Sunday to any god.
Still trying to ‘add emotions’ to a romance without emotions. Everytime I start or re-start working at it I have to keep my golden high heels shoes close to me, to remember the effect this novel had on me the first time I read it. So boring and empty that I had to do something else to golden up my day. But that’s work. Nothing personal.
Then my artist-friend Clara came at my place. Unannounced, as usual.
– Come on, she said. Dress up (no golden high heels, please), and let’s go out. I know a place you’ll like.
– Why what? Why going out or why you’ll like that place?
– Well, both.
– I’ll give you three reasons – she said whilst opening all the windows, causing a series of compulsive shivers in my ritualized body. – First of all because there are sales all around. Secondly because it’s Sunday afternoon and i have nothing to do. Then, you’ll like this place because of the good wine and because of the jazz-radical chic-deadly boring music they play inside.
Even if I wanted to decline that irrational proposal, she already spoiled the rest of my homely Sunday afternoon with her noisy chatter, with the freezing January air Clara let inside my cozy livingroom and the TV she switched on.
After a quick shower I jumped into my drawer and got out dressed up in a red skirt and somthing ballerinas down one side and a red winter coat looking good on my dress who came over me… ‘by chance’
Outside it was cold, but actually the place where she took me was really cool. In Soho, a jazz pub furnished with random objects, arranged without any sense. Among them, a red phone, old-fashioned, an Italian bicycle hanging on a wall, old farm tools and … a gramophone. Beautiful.
I was staring at it while Ella was singing Misty from somewhere in the air.
– Do you like it? Nice, isn’t it? – the blonde (and cute) barman asked me.
– Sure. I don’t know much about them. But it looks nice.
– Wait. – he told me. And disappeared behind a curtain. (A terribly kitsch curtain).
The music stopped. He appeared again, with an old 45rpm. He put it on that alien vintage object. And Ella sang again. With a scratched voice, and with a scratched ancient sound. I felt… muffled. As if nothing could happen in that moment. Because I was soaked in a Smoky- and misty – past.
– Now, tell me – the (cool) barman said – isn’t it amazing?
– It is.
Clara called me as she came out of the toilet.
-Hi, I’m Charles.
-Hello, I’m Jasmine. Or Melanie. But Jasmine today for you.
He stared at me confused. Suely, he was thinking about my insanity, or that I was kidding him. But I was misty, so I was Jasmine. And as Jasmine I went and sat with Clara.
– Isn’t he cool? – Clara said.
– He is.
– Well, he is mine! Haha. I’ve been coming here for weeks, surely not for the jazz music.
– Oh, well done.
I winked at her, longing for my glass of wine. And, yes, some food eventually, but not necessarily.
The barmen didn’t stop the gramophone to give space to the common CD music with a real and clear sound.
Before we left I wanted to say goodbye to him, but I went out and smoke remebering Clara would have preferred to say goodbye to him, alone. Maybe.
Then I finished my cigarette, and since I was freezing but didn’t want to interrupt their conversation, I entered again and I kept on staring at the gramophone… since this was my only idea of what to do in that moment.
– Does one of these things cost a lot?
– This ‘thing’s’ worth a lot. But I only paid it 70 pounds. A lucky situation…
– 70 pounds for something that worths a lot… definitely lucky.
Clara and I went towards the exit. I think Clara finally had his phone number. One second before I opened the door to go out, a girl who had just listened to our conversation said ‘Oh, nice. Did you really pay so little?’
I turned around. I came back with speed pace.
– How much do you want for it? I want it.
-Yes, now. Right now. I want to buy it.
– Because… it’s misty. And I like it. How Much?
– How much do you have with you, today?
– Not enought for today, I’m afraid.
– How much do you have?
– 80 pounds.
– It’s 85. Not a penny less.
– You’re an asshole.
– No, I’m making a deal. Give me 80 pounds and take it with you. You’re coming back here tomorrow to give me the other 5 pounds.
And he gave me his hand to shake on it.
As we arrived with the cab at my place, with the alien gramophone in my arms, I asked Clara to stay, but she had something to do. It’s a shame, I wish we could have opened my bottle of red Italian wine, to celebrate and to forget I had just bought another useless thing. But there was no sense opening it just for me, alone
So, now I’m watching a beautiful alien. I don’t even know how to make it play. I’m suddenly distracted by the phone ringing.
– Hallo, Melanie? John’s talking. Do you feel like going to Scotland?
Oh, fuck! I totally forgot the Scottish writer! He told me he would cal me back. Does he think an editor works on one book at a time?
– Ehm, well… no actually. Or, better, I’m so sorry but after I started reading again, yesterday, I fell asleep.
– Really? (disappointed voice)
– Well, yes. But it’s not just because I was tired I think. Or… not, maybe not. The truth is that the first time I read it as an editor. And so my attention was the one of someone who’s working. The second… I was just a reader. And I fell asleep. That’s it.
– Oh. What page? do you remember?
– I think I didn’t go further than page 50.
– Listen, I can write you down some suggestions. Then you decide what to do.
– Or we can meet.
– Are you in London?
– No, I’m in Scotland.
– We’ll meet in Scotland when you’ll make me feel like visiting it. So, I suggest you to follow my advice.
I’m quite proud of my reply.
– Well, you won. I’ll wait for your mail.
– Good boy. Hope I didn’t upset or offended you.
– Well, no. It’s your job. And, in the end, my aim is not inviting people to my country, but having as many readers as possible.
– That’s my job too. I’ll write you right away.
– Well, you can wait till Tomorrow, it’s Sunday evening. You’ll be busy in… having fun.
– Presently I’m looking at an old gramophone and I don’t even know how to make it work.
– Oh, cute occupations you have in London. I have one, too.
– Yes. I can tell you how to ‘make it work’.
– Well, I don’t even have a record actually…
– Well… ehm… in this case there’s just one thing I can do.
His voice disappears behind some clanks, steps, wooden sounds. A noise of small wheels… then the music.
A scratched voice, through the receiver. It’s Ella, it’s misty.
Too misty to think about coincidences, I’m just listening to her voice, coming from a house who-knows-where in Scotland, whilst looking at my very own gramophone, in my small living room, in the midst of what remains of daylight.