There was a man who was arrested for impersonating a phone box.
The prison warden released him early on the condition that he delivered a cup of tea to an old man who lived on the other side of the mountains. The journey was long and he had to walk very slowly and carefully to ensure the hot tea would not slop out over the sides of the mug.
With uncertain footsteps he crossed marshland, waded across a small stream, scrambled up slopes covered in scree and back down again, lost his mind and seemed to pop briefly into another medium – stop-motion animation perhaps – and back out again, came to his senses, climbed through the forest and strolled into the village to find the old man’s house.
The old man was grateful for his cup of tea and offered to make him one in return before he started his long walk home. Inside the old man’s house, all the furniture was crumpled against one another as if there had been a traffic collision between the bed and the chest of drawers and everything else had piled up behind them. It was impossible to see through the windows, which were just slabs of coloured plastic. One window was blue, the other green. One yellow, one red.
When he finally got home, his wife asked what he’d been up to.
“Oh… nothing much.” He was taking his shoes off.
She stared at him for a moment, shaking her head. Then she busied herself, muttering under her breath, “don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect… some sensible answer… an explanation of where you’ve been.”
He was busy thinking about his expedition to take the cup of tea to the other side of the mountain, about the difficulties he had faced, each step a balancing act. He had a feeling that completing the task had proved he had repented the error of his ways – and that he was worthy of ongoing existence.
he asked what I’d like to do for my birthday & I said well the weather looks alright so we could maybe go out & have a long walk & take our cameras & shoot & chat & he said sounds good, I’ll swing round after lunch & we can head out & I said good fine cool & he said see you then then
he turned up just about when he said he would & we set off into the day, which was nice & open with a good big wide open sky & perfect light for shooting all things though our favourite was to shoot the old & broken down greenhouses that were full of plants & trees & ferns & brambles all desperate to get out, all overgrown & pushing to be back in the outside world, like a soft slow green explosion which we found endlessly fascinating
we usually shot from the outside, taking photographs of the creaking greenhouse timbers & the flaking paint & the overgrowth pushing out & through the broken of the glass, but sometimes he persuaded me to join him in breaking (it was never difficult – the greenhouses had already fallen apart) & entering so that we could shoot from the inside & then it was like being in a different little world, quiet & forgotten
we would shoot & shoot & fill up our cameras, or at least the film within – my camera was a clunky old SLR that I had owned for twenty years & bought second hand, it having had a previous life with the police (& I liked to imagine the stake-outs it had been on & the evidence it had shot) & was tough as old boots, as evidenced by the fact I had once dropped it on the floor of a car ferry & it had barely put a dent in it, & I loved its weight & its mechanical processes & actually the results I got out of it were immaterial, the pleasure was in the act of carrying it around & using it & I didn’t really care what we achieved that afternoon
all I wanted was to spend a pleasant day out & about with my friend, exploring greenhouses & the time in which we lived, which was unique, the present being the only time in which we could possibly exist, & what I found interesting was the fact that these greenhouses were in this exact state now & only now & never again – there had been the boom time & the bust & they might come back again or they might fall further into ruin, crumpling & sinking into the ground like fossils, but they would never be exactly this again & I was thinking this as we both focussed our lenses on the broken glass & the dense thickets
& I thought about the fact that I might say all this when we stopped at a pub for a drink, maybe sitting outside on a bench in the slightly chilly sunshine on my birthday, the only day like it, the only moment at that exact point in time as we continued on and on, crumpling & falling through time & tumbling down again, vibrating in the light, the perfect light of the universe