November reverieNov 15th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
A colleague tells of a man who is controlled by voices that are broadcast to him by radio signals; the signals reach him all over the city, but are strongest in the streets close to the Royal Canal.
Perhaps he is right, perhaps there is a spell cast on those who walk those streets.
Walking down the middle of the street as seventy thousand people began to disperse after a rugby international, there was a sense of absurdity. What had it all been about?
The autumn darkness suddenly filled with rain; not a soft Irish drizzle, but great big drops that drenched the shuffling homegoers. Hawkers tried to shift unsold wares. A man selling scarves embroidered with the date looked disconsolately at the tide of people that swept past him; who would now buy scarves for 15th November 2009?
Perhaps the radio signals were strong, but even a squelching sensation in the right shoe did not dissipate a sense of reverie; a sense of time being slow, if not actually stopped. Lines from Samuel Beckett’s The Expelled describe a moment of reverie of a man thrown out of a house:
The fall was therefore not serious. Even as I fell I heard the door slam, which brought me a little comfort, in the midst of my fall. For that meant they were not pursuing me down into the street, with a stick, to beat me in full view of the passers-by. For if that had been their intention they would not have shut the door, but left it open, so that the persons assembled in the vestibule might enjoy my chastisement and be edified. So, for once, they had confined themselves to throwing me out and no more about it. I had time, before coming to rest in the gutter, to conclude this piece of reasoning.
Under these circumstances nothing compelled me to get up immediately. I rested my elbow on the sidewalk, funny the things you remember, settled my ear in the cup of my hand and began to reflect on my situation, notwithstanding its familiarity. But the sound, fainter but unmistakable, of the door slammed again, roused me from my reverie, in which already a whole landscape was taking form, charming with hawthorn and wild roses, most dreamlike, and made me look up in alarm, my hands flat on the sidewalk and my legs braced for flight. But it was merely my hat sailing towards me through the air, rotating as it came. I caught it and put it on. They were most correct, according to their god. They could have kept this hat, but it was not theirs, it was mine, so they gave it back to me. But the spell was broken.
Reaching the Five Lamps and turning south towards Amiens Street, the rain stopped. It became an Irish November evening. Walking along a muddy pavement while a line of buses and taxis crawled northwards, there was a desire to be at home with dry socks. The momentary spell, in which even the rain could not dilute a sense of good humour, was gone. All that was lacking was a hat to wear.