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Sport 1: Spring 1988

from The Book of Snow and Fiction

page 57

from The Book of Snow and Fiction

Boy on a Bicycle

I am thinking of one of those photographs you see: a pan shot, a boy on a bicycle. The world is a brush stroke movement, a set rolled by to indicate the speed of another who passes on wheels. It is time passing on paper. The boy, although the viewer knows his feet are furious with motion, is absolutely stilled. He is in a moment of intense relaxation. It reads like grace. And this grace bleeds 'now' with 'before' and 'after'; denies the isolation of the moment, insists on continuity.

You can no longer make the separation between stillness and movement in the boy. Understand that motion is this grace, this point of eternal departure that is the boy.

So much knowledge is required to move those wheels, those limbs. Yet it is all granted to the boy. It is inside his body. This small movement is precipitated by this body of knowledge. And death entrances through this knowledge-motion, this boy. And there are no stops no freeze frames in death. Death itself is precipitation.

page 58

Wedding Xerox: Prince Andrew and Sarah Fergusson

This could be a banquet hall, it is so large. The wedding couple have been centred exactly, as if to deflect the desire of the eye to travel skirting boards nearly half man-size off the page.

This hall of state is a deserted house wandered into. Emptied of comings and goings it has become ingrown. You smile here to remember your 'I'.

This chamber, the brilliant dress unfolding itself down stairs, are trappings to enhance size. Yet Fergie and Andrew are diminished. That dress might as well be headless, a ghost dress of Windsor with reinforced cups. Or Fergie is the phantom, a guest appearance hosted by the dress. She is an image nervous of someone out there about to switch channels. Press a button and she will flicker out. So she smiles to remind us of an 'I' that we all share. But we are also the human-vacuum that she smiles at in fear.

This xerox is over-cooked. Skin tone has melted into the black of the curtain. What particulars are left, the smiles, the awesome wedding dress, suffice. The message is all here in silver-white shorthand.

Yet sunburn and royalty are incongruous. Perhaps these are Americans; buying up the props of English dynasty, romping through the trappings of Windsor, made benign by too many vitamins.

page 59


In Tintin's Himalayas an avalanche may be triggered by the sound of a human voice.

     It is the fear
          not the romance of the snow
          that makes you want to whisper.

So much depends upon the sunshine-loose or the hard-packed snow of the piste, the cranked up motion of a cartoon voice, the sneeze of Tintil1 on a mountain.

Tintin outruns an avalanche, even several, at least once a day. He never looks back in case he is buried in total knowledge of what is behind him. At his side hurtles a white dog. He is called Snowy; a spit in the face of any avalanche.

Tintin, Snowy and Prince Charles outrun an avalanche. Prince Charles steps off the Gotschnawang ski slope, off the world news and into the bloody, massive, pumping heart of fiction. He is the reconstituted beef of the civilised conscience.