John Walker's Electronic House

by on Nov.12, 2004, under The Rest

My impressively grumpy mood impedes me from posting witty thoughts on underwear juggling or similar. So instead, here’s another chunk from my ‘idea’. Comments welcome. Although I will tell you that you’re stupid and wrong:

I think this worth mentioning at this point. I quickly departed from writing this introduction to visit our friend the toilet, which, like some tired cliché, meant the landline rang. The landline rarely rings, so this almost inevitably means it’s a pre-recorded cold call, shouting at me in a robotic American accent, “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO BE FIRED FROM A CANON INTO THE SEA! ALL YOU NEED DO IS” [click]. But also, it could be Chrissy, as she is probably the only person who knows the number, having lived here herself. I wipe and run, grab the phone, and hear a serious, grave voice:

“Is Tim Andrews there?”
“No,” I reply, “I think you must have the wrong number.”
A pause.
“Is this the ministry of defence?”
“No!” I say, delighted. “But good work!”

I’m not sure what I meant by “But good work”. I think I had decided, in those seconds, that he was a spy. It would explain the grave, late-40s voice, serious but with a hint of dangerous excitement. He apologised and hung up.

This story serves to prove the point I was about to write. Thank you providence.

Memories are best-guess stories. They are not honest. Conversations are never remembered, and thus must always be invented, and hence fictionalised. Being based in truth is irrelevant. All conversation in fiction is based in truth, not matter how loosely. To recall memories is to enter a process of fictionalisation, creating a story to link yourself to your past. And that’s ok. It’s not lying – it’s not a deliberate attempt to deceive or rip off. It’s the best that can be done under the circumstances of being alive.

For instance, that phone call. To start with, it was yesterday morning now. Twenty four hours have passed since that paragraph was started, and I return now, the next day, 12.34pm. But also, I don’t remember if the name asked for was Andrews. I know it was Tim, because the person before and after Chrissy who lived in my room in this flat was called Tim, Tim Edwards, and I remember connecting the two. But Andrews is my best guess. I cannot tell the story without a surname, it would be weird. And Andrews sounds like something the spy man might have said. And of course, about his spy voice: It was grave, certainly, but the rest of the description: poetic imagery to conjure my emotional response to the situation, as mild as it was. I wanted to share with you the thoughts that ran through my head, and what better way than to attribute a tone of ‘mischievous spy’ to his voice. It’s fiction. But based in truth.

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