Sunday, 11 February 2018

Timaru Avenue

Work afternoon tea for a significant birthday

Essay club - could also be called cake fruit cheese club

I think this might be the street in Brunswick that I like best. Look at it. It's got everything.

Today on my way home I rode past this corner and just glanced down the street like I always do, and I thought how good it all seems to be, what with the palm tree, the 90s 'traditional style' townhouses, and the termination in a cul-de-sac sort of fashion where the streets on either side end by opening onto a laneway. Then a hundred metres down the street I turned and went back and took this picture. That would be the first time I've stopped and thought about it, but I've noticed the street often.

I was reminded of a bit in Lucky Jim where Jim thinks of an image that comes into his mind's eye when he's feeling particularly trapped. It's a very ordinary evening scene in a quiet part of a big city looking across tiled rooftops, seen from an upstairs window. He thinks of it more than once, if I remember rightly (golly, does this mean I am forgetting what happens in Lucky Jim? I used to be able to quote it, just reel off huge swathes, as if it was a Monty Python movie and I was one of those people. Concerning) He's not sure where the image came from because he doesn't think it's a place he's been. It's saturated with meaning for him, though; he's got a strong feeling that someone else is in the room with him and (she?) is just about to speak.  For the novel, a lot is riding on that one incident. Without it there's no indication that Jim's increasingly frantic desire to get out of the hole he's dug himself into is anything more than distaste for his provincial surroundings. But just for a moment this scene shifts the focus from his energetic hating and resisting of the awfulness around him, to what he wants when he allows himself to think about it. He doesn't just want to go to where the cool people are; he wants connection.

I am very familiar with how it feels to project my longings into unknown rooms glimpsed through lighted windows, especially in the early evening before blinds are drawn. I imagine you are too. It's something that comes up in stories and songs: it's imagining yourself living another life. In this street, there is something about the disposition of buildings, plants, sky and light that triggers this sort of imagining in me - before I'm even aware I'm looking at it - every time I pass.

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