Sunday, May 17, 2009

I am washing the dishes

"She excelled at packing a suitcase. She told herself 'I'm good at packing a suitcase', forming these words in her mind to keep other words, other thoughts, from crowding in. The three days of St Philumena's were bleating to high heaven for formulation, but she kept them at bay as she muttered, 'Shoes there. Books here. The comb-bag in that corner. Blouses flat on the bed. Fold the arms. Like that. Then fold again. This way, that way. Hot-water bottle. Nothing rattling. Crucifix wedged in cotton wool. Catholic Truth Society pamphlet to read on the train. I am doing what I am doing'.

In this way, she subjugated St Philomena's for half and hour. She had devised the technique in the British Museum Reading Room almost a year ago, at a time when her brain was like a Guy Fawkes night, ideas cracking off in all directions, dark idiot-figures jumping round a fiery junk-heap in the centre."

- Muriel Spark, from "The Comforters"