Saturday, 2 November 2013

As a man grows older

It’s unseasonably warm, no? Yesterday we were sitting at one of the café’s outside tables for around an hour and a half, talking, in the early evening. There were noticeably more holes in the talk than I seem to remember there used to be – little holes where the names of people should have been, or the titles of books or films, but they’d slipped from my mind. So this itself for a while became the subject, and I wanted to use that word that relates to the condition towards which all things tend, oh, you know that word, I know it, but – no, not erosion, not degeneration. Not decrepitude. Not unravelling. We talked about thesauruses. X said she preferred a physical book because there’s always another word, in the next column or on the opposite page, that distracts her, and she likes that distraction, to the point where she may forget what word she was looking for in the first place. I use an an online thesaurus. We drifted onto online things and I began telling about the occasion last year on which I was talking to Y and Z approached us, and it was clear that he was expecting me to introduce him to Y but I couldn’t because, though I know Y, I’d forgotten his name, so I smiled at Z but carried on talking with Y – which Z, justifiably, considered rude, and told me so later in an online message. And as I began this story I suddenly realised that not only did I still not remember Y’s name, but now I’d also forgotten Z’s name, which I certainly did know at the time of which I was speaking. Again, that word – begins with e, I said; e, n, d – ‘Entropy!’ said X. God, the relief. The photo above is of Italo Svevo, author of As a Man Grows Older. For a number of years he lived in Charlton, south-east London.

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