Trains of Thought
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XIV. 23/04-29/04/17; grooves

A policeman with hipster beard drinks red bull standing by the door. He gazes out of the window. The view is blocked by sound barriers. What is he looking at? A woman arrives and sits down next to me. She begins reading CVs. She has a cup of cheap coffee with her bought from Yorma, a chain of train-station convenience stores. She eventually settles into reading her company’s strategy paper. She works for easyCredit, TeamBank AG. The strategy centres around platitudes about customer focus and team-work. There is a section on leveraging new networks born out of the technological, digitised revolution. The positive economic conditions have led to an increase in consumer credit, it says. She underlines a section of text about how customers transfer expectations from other industries to the banking industry.

The traditional inn has a comforting, analogue goodness. You have to let the needle of your attention move through the polished grooves of character. The shy friendliness of a waiter, the decor, the pairings of food and beer have all evolved and are locked into a steady equilibrium. “Das gute Zirndorfer Kellerbier,” heraldic shields on a wooden wall. Fuzzy memories of a conversation with the proprietor two years ago about the history of the place. Musical instruments line the wall, a big tuba hangs from a cross-beam. The floor is made from 10cm wide wooden planks.

The weather has turned cold and the inside seat by the train’s radiator is uncomfortably hot again. The iPad of the man next to me is cellotaped at one end. He was watching “House of Cards” on it when I arrived. Now he is playing scrabble against the processing power of the iPad set to beginner level. He puts in “Loans” from “Livid” and the computer adds “gy” to “pig”. The score is 168 to 95 for the human.

Tourists at Notting Hill station, Spanish mostly. The parallel lines of the tube station: the platform itself, the yellow lines, the tracks and third rail. East and west: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern debate, the simple rules that orient our lives while the laws of probability render us, draw us into so many absurd situations, ceaselessly flowing from the future into our memory banks, vaulted until released in dreams and moments of flowing inspiration. So many universes in the carriage of a tube, every faced orb contains its own reference points.

The reason unicorns are fascinating is because they represent an improbable natural limit: the horn is a two-sided limit of symmetry.

An elderly American tourist stands on the tube with his wife, the back of his baseball cap says: “Zero Defects”, in cursive writing.

A man with a white mustache who looks like a Mexican landowner and a woman with red dyed hair in a turquoise dress speak Spanish outside South Kensington station, they have a Jehovah’s witnesses stand, all in Spanish. They are wearing their Sunday best.

The Scholium Project’s Sauvignon Blanc — Severita di Bruno — has a hazelnut scent and it’s a bit musky. Diluted orange marmalade on toast. It fills the back of the mouth after you swallow it, like an oily cling film. The Pouilly Fumé is brighter, sharper, like fresh apple. Avignonesi Rosso Di Montepulciano: the last bits of the bottle, rusty, slightly bitter. A man comes in looking for a 40£ Burgundy. What country or style does he like, asks the attendant. “I don’t mind,” he says. But he prefers forest floor to fruit. France then, says the attendant. He licks a stem of his sunglasses, he wears trainers and a sleeveless sport jacket. The attendant is blonde-haired and tattooed on her arms. Her accent his French. “Can it be a bit oak?” She asks. Yes, a bit of oak is fine. Now he says he likes Pommard. She gives him options: fruity but no too sweet or more tannic and austere, but that’s the style. “How about a bit of age?” he asks pointing at a bottle. “To be honest I wouldn’t recommend it, we opened one recently and we didn’t like it so much.” Perhaps she is trying to protect the bottle from an ill-considered purchase. “What are you going to eat with it,” she asks. “Duck, so I should probably get a fruitier one, right?” “Well, how are you going to cook it,” she asks. He doesn’t know yet, he says, licking his sunglasses again. They settle on the fruity but not too sweet option.

At the Portrait Gallery: Derek Jarman (“seer”) by Michael Clark painted at Maison Bertaux: “enjoy the luscious landscape of my wound… but hurry! …Time meets us and we are destroyed.” Thomas Chaloner with scales. Constable’s fine, aquiline nose.

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