At the Office by Jessica Vickerage & George Ttoouli on The Prose Perspective
At the Office
UNDERNEATH THE CUPBOARDS it looks like snow after driving forward from your fortnightly shop (that’s how many times I have my hair done) the floor is left straightly dried – this is where we bury the bones Mr Policeman Sir. Think of a diagram of a skeletogram (he doesn’t take his clothes off) and you see the bricked up part of the machine – “there will be no charge for this service” and “I don’t have the Latin”: this is what you want, to carry the load, higher a little – “it has been over a year now”: radio waves.
Peeling fingers from the clam ledger and trace up to 100 with breathy remembrance – “Officers! (chairs rolled up) The fan and whir next time (Betty) Thank-you Betty.” And (oh) I have the dandruff back (after a bottle of pills) – whole shoulder blades – thinking back, deposit, wriggling fingers through the batter to find the cod, back to the undersides and bellies to the previous kitchen cupboards gummed and sealed from the rain and robbers now – they hold the crystal, dum dum da dah, and the crock(ery).
Half the world draws a pension whilst the other presses a ribbing hand against the hipbone of this outfit and you just squeeze until the money runs damp dough. “We used to have a shelf above the fire to store the teapots, Betty,” singing as my hobnail boots tap the rhythm of the dales, Granny stop stuffing the sofa with your dosh. I see Japanese girls dressed as red brides in the park and I have three pencil pots and not a scrap of lace to rub together whilst they ballerina into a two up to down with the one.
From the look of your lineage (unbalanced) you’ve been thinking about jumping for a while now (stepping from the television to violins), did you swim to this ledge? (hand on wet shoulder – comforting like). Quite bad with their minting this high up – “it’s been a year now,” I remember last week repeated over and over, but, “you can’t really can you?”
To the Sunday spread now, they’ve stamped my house one and house two: spokes (tick), pinecone fresh (tick), sprung (tick); line us up will you, but the gold bars stop us from being accidentally cooked (the paper said fried) in the microwave – now there is a thought – a jam(med) door would stop those dribberly fingers from sticking to the forms – “ah, but they leave no trace (Betty)”.
I felt the kick on my shin upwards stairwards, I went up with the tobacco and the fumigation – (PLEASE READ WITH A BLOCKED NOSE) – “I’ll calculate your time remaining, a matter of tabulation, oh, estimates for the better, but will we find the mean, I think, sticking with the average size of an electric pylon, a suicide to tip the scales and repetition along the rail – “Now I’ll be Beachy Head and Bedlam for a while and you do the sums.” DEFINE ME ELEPHANTINE LETTERS YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS I ASK. The Priest is mine for a day; no matter just strap it to the coffin in the final bolt forward.
“Please do pass the bank I need more money for cream.”
The Prose Perspective
One of the benefits of working in a creative writing institution is the ability to mould the minds of the next generation of readers. But not writers; no matter how much leverage one applies to another person's style of writing, they'll always return to their own way of doing things, after a few unsatisfying imitations.
Luckily, Jessica Vickerage turned up at the WWP's doors possessed by the ghost of Gertrude Stein, and towing a seven-inch eyeball on a leash. I made some of that up, but the point is, everyone is steeped in the baggage of alternative reading histories, even if they prefer Wayne Rooney's autobiography to Tender Buttons. Those few who have succeeded in overcoming mainstream sandblasting to find their way into a small, safe cave of obscure delight are the kind of writers, and readers, Polarity is interested in. Better still if they've done it before formally engaging with these immersions in an institution, where good habits will be mutated, possibly damaged, by over-analysis and self-consciousness.
I should qualify 'interested in' with 'exploiting their work in return for early publication.' The Warwick Alumni in Polarity (in alphabetical order: Scott Anthony, Ivan Juritz, Siavash Pournouri, Jessica Vickerage, not to mention the yoked co-editors), are already part of a community which the magazine is a sub-division of. And the magazine is secondary to the community.
There are examples, path-forgers, for us to follow. Some writers, like Frank Key, have dug their way deep into the network of tunnels under Mount Parnassus. (Prose writers are content with the dark underbelly of language, while poets are sun-worshippers, playing mostly with the superficial level of text and leaving meaning to chance.) One recent delight was tripping over a copy of a magazine founded by Chris Cutler in 1985, Re-Quarterly, in which Frank Key featured alongside artwork by Peter Blegvad. People who've been merrily complicit in their own financial exploitation for decades, yet also supported by community, cult fanbases, people who offer grateful boot-kissers like us the patronage of a few fleeting typo-free stories and images, and the hope of survival.
This isn’t so much an aesthetic explanation, as a pointer to the aesthetic tradition’s recent practitioners. But I suppose the key aesthetic explanation for what I’m looking for in the prose is ‘delight’, the 'enchantment' of Nabokov's declaration. That's what's missing from most of the stuff I read these days, include in a lot of leftfield experiments.