“Is it not love that knows how to make smooth things rough and rough things smooth?”
“What is the difference between my life and my love? One gets me low, the other lets me go.”
“Music, such music, is a sufficient gift. Why ask for happiness; why hope not to grieve? It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music-not too much, or the soul could not sustain it-from time to time.”
“But I was her first love, as she was mine. Nor have I ever been in love since. But then I have never fallen out of love with her – with her, I suppose, as she then was, or as I grew afterwards to realize or imagine she had been. What is she now, who is she now? Am I with such inane fidelity fixated on someone who could have utterly changed (but could she have? could she really have changed so much?), who could have grown to hate me for leaving her, who could have forgotten me or learned deliberately to expunge me from her mind. How many seconds or weeks after seeing me…did I survive her thoughts?”
“In a clear brook
With joyful haste
The whimsical trout
Shot past me like an arrow
I play the line of the song, I play the leaps and plunges of the right hand of the piano, I am the trout, the angler, the brook, the observer.”
“In the painting I saw, in the books I read, I recalled her, for she her had in many ways been the making of me.”
“Strange to be a man and never grow big with child. To feel a part of you opening, and a part of you leaving, and howling as if it were not a part of you.”
“The past is the past, and he can't make amends, only hope that the gain will outlast the damage.”
“Let the smoky Käll sustain himself on Mars, and Yuko lay rue on Beethoven’s grave. Let the lord of the manor of Rochdale clap his coffin into a canoe and disport himself on the waters. Let Zsa-Zsa sleep on a pillow of haddock in Maria’s cello case. Let Mrs Wessen live to see her thousandth moon. Let Ysobel unknit her forehead. Let not poor Virginie weep. Let all and no things come to pass, for how will I pass these days?”
“Well, what do you think? Avanti?"
"Avanti," cries everyone, and, after a few quick re-tunings of our instruments, and re-initialisings of our hearts, we enter the slow theme-and-variations movement.
How good it is to pay this quintet, to play it, not to work at it - to play for our own joy, with no need to convey anything to anyone outside our ring of recreation, with no expectation of a future stage, of the too-immediate sop of applause. The quintet exists without us yet cannot exist without us. It sings to us, we sing into it, and somehow, through these little black and white insects clustering along five thin lines, the man who deafly transfigured what he so many years earlier had hearingly composed speaks into us across land and water and ten generations, and fills us here with sadness, here with amazed delight.”
“I walk across the park to her flat. It is over-heated and there is a great deal of pink. This used not to unnerve me. Now when I step into the bathroom I recoil.
Pink bath, pink basin, pink toilet, pink bidet, pink tiles, pink wallpaper, pink rug. Brushes, soap, tooth brush, silk flowers, toilet paper: all pink. Even the little foot-operated waste-bin is pale pink. I know this little waste-bin well. Every time I sleep here I wonder what I am doing with my time and hers. She is sixteen years younger than I am. She is not the woman with whom I want to share my life. But, having begun, what we have continues. She wants it to, and I go along with it, through lust and loneliness, I suppose; and laziness, and lack of focus.”
“IN ARCHITECTURAL ECHO of service pyramid theory, the Shorn block had rented out its bottom two levels to a series of shopping and eating units that collectively went under the name Basecamp. According to the Shorn promotional literature that Chris had read, Basecamp provided employment for more than six hundred people and, together with the Shorn-owned vehicle repair shops in the basement, was a working embodiment of the virtues of trickledown wealth creation. Prosperity spread out from the foundations of the Shorn block like vegetation from an aquifer, said the literature warmly, though the metaphor that occurred to Chris was water leaking from the cracked base of an old clay flowerpot. Wealth, in his experience, was not something the people who had it were at all keen to see trickling anywhere.”
“Hey, Jamie,' said Seb. 'Want a lift?'
'Hey, Seb,' Jamie responded without missing a beat 'Drop dead.”
“Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course. Piracy, for example, is a tradition that has been carried on for hundreds of years, but that doesn't mean we should all attack ships and steal their gold.”
“Lyndon Johnson knew how to make the most of such enthusiasm and how to play on it and intensify it. He wanted his audience to become involved. He wanted their hands up in the air. And having been a schoolteacher he knew how to get their hands up. He began, in his speeches, to ask questions.”
“On Wednesday, for variety, he accosted Andrew as Andrew went out to check the state of the garden walls and presented a further cardboard box containing ten kilos of tomatoes and a squash like a deformed head of a baby.”
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