After a couple of very frenetic days, I came to the conlcusion that there were two things that I really had to to in order to save my ‘honour’.
First of all, I had to give other 5 pounds to Charles, the guy who sold me my gramophone, and I had to buy at least a stupid record to justify my purchase.
I hardly remembered how to arrive to that pub, and I was even feeling a little guilty for not calling Clara and ask her to come with me. In the end, I was going to see ‘her’ guy. Well, at least it was the guy she liked, and our female code implies you must not be flirty in any possibile way with the guy of a sister. That’s it. But I knew she was working, and that I didn’t want to wait other days before doing my duty and…. and and and.
I just had to give 5 pounds to someone.
Well, when Clara called me that morning I told her I was going to the supermarket. I lied. And that I was not supposed to come home right away. Second lie. But actually I didn’t mean to go to the pub and stay there for more than 5 minutes. If she came with me I would spend there at least one hour and find something else to stare at while she was talking to Charles.
‘I’ll go, I’ll give him the money, I’ll leave’. That was my manthra.
So, I went, I gave him the money. And I smiled at him (well, he smiled me first). And he said something like ‘how are you’ or so. And I just answered to one question he made.
– Are you enjoyinyour gramophone adequately? You know, it’s a shame if you don’t use it.
– Well, I don’t have adequate resourses, presently, to allow the object to make the work that it was meant to – my way to look around was adequately ridicoulous – BUT, there are good possibilities that the present use of this gramophone can be the one of a very good estetic exposure till…
– Jasmine, sorry, I don’t get it…
– Well, I don’t have records, ok? Not yet..
He laughed. A lot. Noisily.
– I can lend you some of them.
– No, you cannot. Oh, I mean, no need to. I’m just going to buy some. Right now. So, bye bye.
I turned around to leave. He stopped me.
– Where are you going to buy it?
– Oh, well… any suggestions? – I love me so much when I act like the foolest of fools!!
– If you wait half an hour we can go together.
– Oh, no, please. I feel like… walking, alone. Do you just have some suggestions?
– Well, yes. – He looked quite surrendered right now. I was glad of it.
– There is a small shop in Holland St. There you can find good prices and records of so many artists. The old man who works there is an expert. You can ask him no matter what and he’ll find it. Then there’s Camden, Notting Hill… and e-Bay.
– I’ll go right now. In Holland I mean. Thank you, really. Bye.
I did nothing. There’s nothing wrong in the fact that I just said ‘bye’ and he answered ‘bye’. The fact that he added a kiss to his bye is not my fault. No, it’s not.
Well, it was not a kiss, but it was a lip-to lip contact. Just this.
I tried not to think about what happened, since it wasn’t but an unwilled lip to lip contact. I could pretend not to think about it till I arrived to Holland street. There, it was like if I felt Charle’s smell. It’s like if he had a kind of bakelite parfum on him.
‘I have to take a couple of Jazz record and go away. It can take no more than 5 minutes’. I thought.
And in fact, after 4 min and 20 secs I was about to pay, but an old lady talked to me. Well, it was not immeditely clear she was talking to me… since she called me Lizzy.
– Lizzy, hey Lizzy.
I looked around and behind me. No girls and she was looking at me. I just… smiled and looked for the rest of my money in my wallet.
– Lizzy, you should not have your hair cut. You cut your hair. You should not.
I have no choice but answering, since she came closer and still looked at me.
– Oh, lady, I’m afraid you’re wrong. I’m not Lizzy.
– Sure you are.
The man of the shop intervened.
– Mary, she’s not Lizzy. Have you heard her? She is – he looks at me
– Malanie. – I said.
-She’s Melanie – said he to her, as it was an obvious thing.
So, I understood she was and old acquaintance in that shop.
– You know, Lizzy – Lady Mary added – if you cut your hair, how can anyone hide some poems in it?
I paid. And left. And, since it’s proved I’m insane and senseless, I followed Mary.
– Mary! – I called.
– Yes Lizzy.
– I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude… It’s just…
– Yes Lizzy?
– It’s just I’m not Lizzy. I’m Melanie. But… I hope someone will write a poem about my hair. – I smiled and looked for some money to give to the old crazy lady.
– No, Lizzy, not write. Hide. Someone will hide poems in your hair.
– Oh, sure.
I gave her 5 pounds or so. She took it.
– But… I really think it will take long, so long, before someone will hide poems in your hair.
She left, tilting on her way. Singing
White his shroud as the mountain snow,
Larded with sweet flowers,
Which bewept to the grave did go
With true-love showers.
She left me a bit disappointed. I’m quite sure no one will ever write poems about me, nor ‘hide poems in my hair’, but if the crazy man/woman of the street tells you something, foresees something without even knowing you and refusing to accept your name, the most of times what they say it’s true.
Upset, I don’t feel like going home. I’m close to the Tate Gallery. I wish I was closer to the National Gallery. I haven’t been there for a while. Three weeks maybe. I can’t stay for so long without a brownie, without a glass of white wine and without a visit to the National. But… I’m close to the Tate now, it’s a piece of desires I can substitute.
And there I re-discover something the fascination of the Tate Gallery. I last came here at least five years ago, the very first time I came to London.
I was quite sure I haven’t seen the prèraphaelites the other time. Or I simply ignored them. Or they weren’t here then. But I spent something like one hour just watching and getting lost in some of their portaits. Why the hell were those paintings so interesting to me?- Self celebration? – Someone said, as if it was an undesired answer to an unasked question.
I turned around and saw a big (very big) black woman. She had the uniform, she was a guardian.
– If you like those pictures so much, this should be an kind of self celebration. – she rectified. – You see, you definitely look like Elizabeth Siddal, the woman portraited in so many of those pictures. Have you noticed you really look like her?
Oh, God, she was right. The long (very long) red haired woman in Rossetti’s portraits such as ‘La Ghirlandata’, and even the singing-and-sinking Ophelia of Millais… looked like me.
– Oh, well, thank you. I think I don’t look so… Mediaval but it’s a very nice compliment.
– They portraited Elizabeth as mediavel, because that kind of damsel in distress, delicate and epic was what they loved and wanted to see. But she was not like that. Look at her, look good. She was so strong, look at her eyes and strong features.
– Was she strong?
– Well, yes, modern I’d say. Brave. She was a poor model, who was able to wait many years so persuade her beloved to finally marry her. Even if they lived together. She needed marriage. It was a social matter. Like today. But he was a rich asshole. And when he finally decided to get married with her, the woman he loved, she was already sick and had already gone trough several breakdown. And she soon died.
– Poor her – said I looking at her fierce eyes. – Who was the asshole?
– The painter. Dante Gabriele Rossetti. Talent is not enough to make a true man. And he was a poor asshole, in love and loved by a woman who was too much for him. When she died he was desperate. And put poems in her hair, in the coffin.
– What? – I was astonished.
– He did. And went and take the poems back after some year, when he was becoming blind, to have them published. The friend who was with him said she was still beautyful, as if she was alive. And that her hair were longer, still growing.
– Really? How is it possibile?
– Well, his friend was a famous mentor. But the most beautiful fairytales were born by a lie.
– He buried poems with her. In her hair? I can’t believe it…
– Oh, come on miss, is it the first romantic story you hear? Have you ever heard about Romeo and Juliet? Enjoy miss.
And she left, ignoring the true reason why I was so astonished.
And left me so puzzled.
I looked to ‘Lizzy’ Siddal for another little while, then I went home thinking about the old crazy lady.
She told me I must not cut my hair, to have some poem left inside it. But when someone will do it, this means I’ll be dead. Or that I’ll die for someone.
I put a record on.
I started reading. Or working. Back to (this amazing) real life, for that day I tried to stopo thinking about what an amazing fairytale can be born by a lie. One of mine, also. The social and historical importance of a lie. Interesting. I’ll write a novel about it one day.