Animation Test for coastal waters project





by Andrew Wallace 2017


My father showed me a crumpled picture of him on a beach with his daughter, Ruth. The only time I saw her was in this photograph, well snap really, on a beach, at the seaside, somewhere or other. If she hadn't died as a child she may have been like me, like Autolycus perhaps as a friend of mine calls me, "a snapper up of insignificant trifles'.

In James Joyce's Ulysses Bloom has lost forever his son Rudy; he wanders the city streets; at times musing, perhaps with Rudy who we only glimpse. On Monday August the sixteenth 1976 I wandered the city streets on a hot day. I had begun a different kind of wondering; a futile attempt to forget.

A betrayal can sometimes unravel time as it does in Jean Cocteau's film Orphée. Voices come from a car radio repeating odd phrases; trapped in a small space Eurydice seems, like Schrödinger's cat, to be dead and alive at the same time; that's because she is and her husband has fallen in love with death's beauty.

Peter Greenaway helped me begin to see my maps and sometimes those of others. In one of his early films I too found myself walking through 'H' and began to understand my father's map book. To be truly visual I had to recall the time when, as a child I learned to see before I learned to be a speaker. Being a 'Speaker' as Mr Greenaway shows us in a later film may sometimes be an act of unseen consequence.

At the seaside one thing stops and another begins; in 1976 I/Ruth began a new life of coastal drifting, collecting water and sand as I travelled; sometimes gravel, a few pebbles even. As I slowly became less bewildered I realised this was nothing new, pain and foolishness belong to us all.

In classrooms children still spread iron filings onto paper then move a magnet beneath to see the pattern. Patterns are not always regular, repetitious or fair; at times they may be violent, then again they may leave behind a beautiful calm. My dead sister Ruthie and her imaginary friend Ado might like this fragment from 'Seeing through Pattern' by Jane Graves ".......It is like looking at an empty beach when the tide has rolled out, and seeing the imprint of every wave in the sand........"

Coastal Waters feature in many human lives; watching waves and sand helps me recall with my dead sister's memory as well as my own. Ruth and Ado muddle up their socks and sometimes get the wrong shoe on the wrong foot but leave no footprints in the sand because there isn't any.

Andrew Wallace 2017




Self Burial by Keith Arnott

Photo - © Keith Arnatt Estate





Ado left the key in the lock for me to find then arranged all the drawings I had managed to complete into my dad's map book. As I turn the pages now I have no notion of how or why she had arranged them into that order. The binding looked to be solid the pages though, well some of them, were loose also my dad had torn many out leaving the interior unkempt and fragile. Dad's maps didn't appear to be routes or places to go but memories of places be had been. Ado seemed to have got the hang of it and once said "don't just work backwards or forwards" that made me think umm; I have to admit that I say umm quite a lot but sometimes it's just to myself and others can't hear me.

Near the end of dad's book was a spot with eight page stubs then a map that looked like a place on the open ground where a hole had been filled in but this was a photograph really and at the front of the book it said 'MAPS'; umm. Once he had joked "if you want a job doing you better do it yourself" he then fell about laughing and said he might have to bury himself to lighten the load of the funeral cost and made sure himself somehow or other he really was dead and not be worried about the space he'd take up or waking up back on Earth and not in Heaven having a wee chat with the deity.

Dad liked to play quite a lot but sometimes told me scary things in his stories watching to see where I was. He told me to call my friend 'Ado' and that she might have to leave me when I was a little older. I didn't believe him until it happened and when she did leave it was after lots of wandering around; I always thought she would come back anyway and explain the way she had stuck things into the map book. Ado had said, "Be prepared for things that will never happen". Later in a way she hadn't really left after all, she was waiting for me to realize that for most of our time together I'd been dead.




Girl in the street





Walking, captured by sound when you had no money after your tuppence had gone on a bun and glass of milk. "Dicky Birds ice cream, lovely cream", a fragment of street cry for passing tourists. Nearby for a penny Jolly Jack would become Sinbad, the Laughing Sailor. From the outside of the crowd "I'm ninety four this morning......." could be heard, lots could be heard for nothing because I was small and no one looked down much in those days; more used to looking up for aero planes I imagine.

Other sounds unremembered make me think of them like looking through a train window. They pass; then station themselves onto a landmark to leave you wondering and forgetful against these rhythmic cries are private overheards "I wanted it so much that snake skin bag the one she clutched underneath her pale blue jacket made from leather she told me did you know she kept the ace of spades in there in her bag up the stairs with her shoes kicked off what the blazes she might as well she told me who cares about him when there's a full moon he's always bad why did I have to go and marry him", "Oh."

This might as well have been last night's bedtime storey from my dad because I was a slow-slow learner and listening was as hard as could be because just a few words led to picturing and not the next sentence. Even at school I dreamed through the window because looking down to my scrawly thoughts surrounded by the red pen made me feel alone. My dad though had given me Ado who often sat with me tucked up inside our self same dress.

Older I might have become the same as then when hiding from school I spent my time alone in town where views are free and you can buy your own red pen if you have some money. Shop windows led to dark glass wondering, why is the reflection bigger than the glass itself. I thought perhaps I could be inside the shop and outside at the same time and there in my dads map book was his plan of how to do just that.

'Make up a friend and give her a name' he had written after much a do so I chose Ado as I was just about beginning to spot his tricks and games with words also I changed the emphases to make it sound ADOW and not A DO. He went on 'Now stand looking at each other through the glass and wave' then 'If you throw a ball towards the window at the same time as her sometimes it'll bounce back and others pass right through so you can catch each others' so that's what we did and then there she was with me, my sweet friend, my dear one, my Ado.





Dicky Birds advertising hoarding




Faire Isle

A hot Monday with my summer dress sticky, fear adding another layer. Walking beside the beach all day in heat till Ado suddenly remembered 'ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that, if not more, thought through my eyes'. Then reminded me "The days are passing by; lock me in your room where there are no windows. You'll only see yourself if you look with me" with Ado at twenty-two I had seen our teen years vanish. She lost all her words as they fell from her mouth because she could only speak through mine and I was at the very beginning of learning to look.

Looking at the beach we walked was the same as looking in the rectangle when I first began to draw; Ado told me over and over to respond to what we saw and nothing more, to be nothing more than a recorder of duality.

The difference between red and yellow, what could it be; begin with colours that mean nothing as words then try to turn a whole sentence into a picture like a colour so it's seen first.

Oh Ado my friend, my father's gift before he died and I began to grow old for him. My father may be a ghost but my dad is me transubstantiate. Ado dear let's change nothing because we can change nothing even if we never find out what nothing is. We are no longer visual because the pictures all around us are in queues; all waiting to be translated into a duality most of us have forgotten. Our dignity is mixed into the colours even though we treat them like adjectives they are meanings, both changing and fading in sunlight they are our emotional language before they reach our intellect.




Surfing Ruthie





Reading, "How's the body?" made me wonder if I had one; I might just as well have had no body. On an Islay beach I remember my dad picked up pebbles; with his anger wrapped tightly round us he had tossed them underarm into the sea. Why am I here now longing for some one to see me as I was then; is my dress empty? The bottle is, empty bottle on the beach; but am I empty too?

I'm maybe looking for the ghost of my dad inside his map book; over the years on the empty pages I had added drawn notes and written fragment. 'What was tiny - where did that bark come from - a telescope – my father is dead – buy milk – a self portrait - myself as a shadow' - 'Open now' - 'Open my bloody front door now'.

Come on Ruthie remember who you are now as well as then. At home I pour milk into the wrong jug, then another, scold the pot and made tea, eat bread and butter with honey and begin more notes. 'Died out there - through the window – died, cutting grass -so - some cut – some left - all growing –- now – now, my father is dead - both dead- "Am I dead too?" Begin to cry, begin to cry; shout it "Begin to cry"; she knew she had to work, that art was the thinnest of threads that might save her'
I wonder what would happen to me if the map book were ever lost

The knock on the door was a surprise "We're your neighbours, we only met you once, years ago, oh my, oh my, you lived for drawing your dad told us about you at the college, oh yes I remember you, your dad said it was a Royal College I remember your mum and your dad from years ago, oh yes and then your dad here on his own after the terrible accident the accident with the electric mower and your poor dad, struggling on alone oh so sad. Are you going to stay here now?"

At last I have a notion of what I might do next; unravel the weave, set off with my fathers map book. I've got to be quick, my body might grow again if I stay; I'll miss the mirror on the dressing table.




Walking on grass




Irish Sea

Trams are gone now as I remember an old lady with her basket and the conductor helping her down and that it might be me one day umm yes trams had rattled backwards and forwards like trains with drivers who could work at both ends.

After they had gone they became memory film unlike the old lady who couldn't even be in a museum and when I'm gone so shall she well the fragment of her I know knowing and not knowing is difficult because we remember and forget.

Ado who knew more about not knowing and knowing said "read this book" so I did then she said "now stop" so I did then she said "if lots of people all read the same book and I said stop and they did then they all swapped and carried on where another had left off without changing places they'd all be muddled" then she said "knowing and not knowing is not like seeing a book as an object with everything in it and not knowing the part you haven't read yet…or being muddled because someone else has finished and you haven't so don't know" then she paused like she was thinking and said "there's a song with the line 'come up and see me dead or alive … umm and 'I'm gonna hang your body up and set your spirit free …' well something like that" she looked a bit muddled now which was unusual for her and she gave me one of her looks we began to laugh and laugh till we couldn't look at each other.


Ado moved to a different place where only through our looking glass could I hear her lament that we had to stay together all the time and not just when I was feeling alone. I threw and threw balls at the mirror that travelled along ever path to get to her so the whole mirror was like a field with balls popping into and of our reality. Maybe it just didn't make any difference which side of the mirror you were on as long as we knew we were as one.

Also staying with dad's routes would be almost impossible as he had stuck his maps in at random and they had no titles or numbers even so finding a way to be him would be tricky. Being with Ado all the time helped me to see dad trying to leave a trail; he knew, at least I think he knew, that there was no knowing that once the seed was released who it would turn into and if it wasn't yours anyway he might not be part of me not even half. Ado was certainty as we walked through the mirror Ruth might not even remember Ruth because her emotional half was crushed every time it looked towards a possibility of prolonged love


Ruth would change Ado from friend to lover for just a short time. "Most of this stuff is not worth bothering with" one of them told the other "We seemed more content to live in fake time without all this pain on the lino" a brutality of love grew and they watched it through the window as they travelled.




Tram Photo





I'd been waiting for you, I didn't just appear when you looked in the mirror with that rubber ball in your hand, I'd been there all through time. Time is there all the time if you see what I mean and so far no one has worked out what it is or even might be. Just because you look old one time and young another might not mean that you are heading in a particular direction even if it feels like that you could be all there all at the same time if you take how you feel out of the equation. You have to remember you are spinning, circling and expanding, never ever in a place.

It's interesting that you seemed to want to be with me so much, dying for you has become a cruel thing. Your dad didn't mind at all because maybe he thought he could be with your mum without her being cruel because together they would find out more things and get nearer to themselves. I could have told your mother that cruelty could move from one person into another and that's not all, oh yes other things can move too so when you love someone, you want the love to travel, to reflect as well as absorb. Shoes can be for a short time, rubber boots even less time. If only you'd known all that at 'Skara Brae' you'd have been able to tell your dad not to let mum mow our grass.




Map of the River Thames





Office or not I was bemused by the quiet with everyone focused onto a screen because it was strange …


How did he know they were working, separate but the same in his office; yet he told Ado he was happy with the day and everyone working so hard, even if you couldn't see a change in anything. I showed him the map book while Ado sat on a sofa by the reception flicking her key ring as she read pages from her latest copy of Vogue. "I quite like your dad's atlas ... is it ... yees ... and some of the things you've done too ... um ... Yees" flick flick flick."If you cut some out and got them mounted maybe ... perhaps ... Yees". Then "No, sorry I don't like them enough" and it was over so I walked out but as I did Ado walked past me in the seat where I'd been sitting. All the glass reflecting things made it look as if there were three of him talking to Ado and they seemed to be getting on better than I had with him nodding in triplicate.
The receptionist offers me a single glass of water, I stare at Ado the receptionist offers me a single glass of water I don't notice twice. I knew I was becoming to old for Ado and she knew it too sometimes she said she couldn't see me.


We went home and helped to whack the rugs. With the wicker beaters we swung and whacked, swung and whacked watching the dust float off and disappear or perhaps the dust had stayed there and we flew off.




Ecsher by Richard Sercombe

Photo - © Richard Sercombe





My dad met a friend of mine's dad coming home from work and changed his mind about what I could do as a job from working as a hairdresser to the same as my friend's older sister. It was somewhere inland and later after I'd changed everything because I went to an art school my dad got upset with me. Someone else had told me to go to art school and even later I began to wonder if I had ever chosen anything for myself; maybe that's because men often think that they know best but I think like my dad that I'm insubstantial or wobbly as he used to say.

Anyway here's something from a letter I wrote soon after I'd left school about my new job but I'm not sure who I wrote it to or if it was me trying to write to some one and this was a copy because when I wrote letters it took ages because I had to write them lots of times to get my writing and spelling the best that I could manage and had to find ways of pretending I'd done it in a flash.

Please excuse the bad writing I'm in a hurry. Dad went to stay with some people I'd never met and then when he came home he told me there was a new job on the other side and so off I went only to discover that I was going to learn all about photography and there would be no stopping me if I turned out to be talented and he gave me a nice tam o'shanter to look smart in for my first day but I kept getting lost because I didn't know one side of the street from the other then all the different things beginning with the camera and that you had to learn to put it on and take it off as it were and how to look after the plates and what I had to find out there in the far away places where no one could ever go and I hoped I would learn quickly and Mrs Cepheid might help but her moons, oops I mean moods, were variable but catch her when she was bright and she'd tell you how far to go and I got to be quite good at it and found lots and lots which pleased Mrs Cepheid and I had over a thousand plates in my special cupboard and you have to be ever so careful with the key because Mr Pickaring was even fussier than Mrs Cepheid but he seemed to be quite pleased with my work and gave me a few private lessons with his camera so I took my very first photograph of me and Ado by playing with two mirrors only it's easy to make mistakes so she's upside down.
TTFN Ruthie

Sometimes I live in a complete dream world so I have to admit that I'd cheated a little because I read about this other very ordinary woman at a dentist's surgery. She was called Henrietta and was the first person to teach me in a different way from school learning. What's far and near are equal and more about the thinking part of looking, if you miss this you might not learn the next step. Some artists have stopped 'eye looking' and representing visually and begun a wave of abstract looking. This can be quite wonderful but is hard to keep in touch with; if you try 'near' then 'far' ... umm like a child ... well it's a sort of beginning.

Lots of Love Ruthie… oops no I've already written the letter and maybe posted it too and this is a copy or imitation of the letter I wish that I had written to my dad so he wouldn't worry so very much about me being wobbly or wanting to be on my own so much.




Henrietta photo





Around the rotunda were books; six rows in symmetry, arching from window and door, from door and window. I sat with Ado hidden inside me, both listening; the ghost of my father reading.

We almost, though not quite, knew that neither of us would understand his ramblings; stared across to the place where the map book lay closed on his card table. The books he read from were taken from the shelves after brief finger pointing along the shelf till ah ... here, then another shelf as he whirled from one place to another; sat and read aloud. "The boat was new Ruthie, the proud captain wanted all to know it was his. He sailed his ketch up and round Eilean Dà Bhàrr, Davaar Island.

He read from one book after another but the text was always the same "The boat was new Ruthie, the proud captain wanted all to know it was his. He sailed his ketch up and round Eilean Dà Bhàrr, Davaar Island.

Earlier no a little Later

... as he read from a book he had in his pocket, Mr Pinter's Betrayal, "Were you ever unfaithful to me?" she asked and he, "Were you ever unfaithful to me?" apparently never my father added apart from their wives and husbands and that when she the wife arrived at the hotel in New York he the lover had bought her lots of red roses and that somewhere else there was a room for fucking or as the nearly finished 'Legend of the Rose de Lorris' has it "Two lovers sat on a park bench their fingers touching ..." no that's from somewhere else.

"Still" dad went on "Which way you sail is like the flip of a coin there may also be a twist after you've landed" ... then, " So, lf you do get the chance to flip a coin hopefully no one will ever know" ... I'd never seen my dad look so sad, so uncomfortable.

"Ask him which way did he sail round the island" from Ado made me think that she wasn't paying proper attention and wanted to leave but I made us stay with dad for longer, sat on his knee and hugged him.




Stockholm Library - Mono





We were still moving around the coastline, saying the names of the places makes me realise Ado was showing me dad's atlas. 'The mile of line' page was like a rectangle round the whole country and as the lines crossed coastal places we went there making the order seem haphazard. The atom page had electrons flashing lights as they changed shells and sharing to make molecules. This page was almost three-dimensional, no it was three-dimensional; I just had to remember that all these disparate things stemmed from an almost empty book my father owned for years then suddenly near the very end of his life started to draw things into. Making mistakes and ripping out pages is a bad way to leave a trail like taking things apart is easier than putting them back together, well maybe it is.

Processes collide in drawing because you get most frustrated with not knowing at the start of the drawing when you see the least. I can imagine my dad ripping pages out, wanting the fresh start to be more accomplished than he had learned so far; umm we're all a bit like that, what we need to remember is to try and stay close to being wrong all down the line. A painting can make you gasp but perhaps not every time you look at it so 'art' might need to be like an electron and you only get the 'flash' if you happen to be there when it changes shells.

Storybooks where you read each page and you sometimes weep or laugh, hold your breath even all because the words have what we call meaning and sometimes when thoughtful they stop you in your tracks to make you dwell upon the meaning or with more of an emotional tweak you might sit up with a start. My dad's map book made me do that but was probably a special case because, well, he was my dad.

Words are so tricky because of the ways we say them and actors are wonderful people who have found ways to make us react to them in all sorts of differing ways. I think sometimes I like the theatre most because looking and listening are married but then I see something or read something and think they're best too. My dad was right I'm wobbly




Drawing of a Flea





I was so hungry, well thirsty really as I wandered the harbour streets; just couldn't find the courage to go in and ask till Ado took my hand.

After I'd finished my main course the waiter asked if I wouldn't mind sharing my table, he couldn't see Ado who was on my inside.

"Fine and I'll have warmed rice pudding"

"Thank you, umm, may I ask what you had? I'm Ado by the by"

"Liver and bacon both delicious, Oh, How Did you manage that, I thought I'd got you hidden "

"Manners manners remember our game" ... "I see you have a map book"

"Yes it was my fathers, he died of a broken heart after my mother was electrocuted by accident while cutting the grass; she was a careless woman had bare feet and well, you can imagine"

"I'm sorry to hear that, is that a man singing in the other room?"

"Yes it's from the opera Martha 'She appeared to me purest of love ... ' it's lovely don't you think and the pianist has a nice touch"

" Quite, quite lovely; May I ask where you're going next?"

"I can't make up my mind but I have to go inland to Culloden Moor at some time or other to bury my fathers finger ring."


We loved this game of pretending then wearing our gloves we travelled through mirrors, reflecting, passing a stranger with a backpack carrying glass to where the bird sings with its fingers. We dug the earth then pushed the ring into the soil of the moor. Ruth walked away then saw the jar, dirty but empty; not far to the beach through the mirror; she stooped to collect another memory, some salt water, few grains of sand and three pebbles.




Rogano's Menu





This would be a momentous day, a fulcrum, from this day the past and the future would balance because she began to know.

Ruthie remembered her third Beckett drama for voices one evening after that future

"Little body little block
Two pale blue
Over backwards issueless"

She could hear the voices in her memory and when her friend Ado asked her what they meant Ruthie replied 'I don't have the answer you want to hear; maybe it's best to listen to them looking through glass; better still, while travelling'

"Scattered ruins same grey as the sand ash grey true refuge. Four square all light sheer white blank planes all gone from mind. Never was but grey air timeless no sound figment the passing light. No sound no stir ash grey sky mirrored earth mirrored sky. Never but this changelessness dream the passing hour"

Ruthie knew that she was dying; her day on the sand with her dad was over he knew she was dying too, she could still hear

"One step in the ruins in the sand on his back in theendlessness he will make it. Never but dream the days and nights made of dreams of other nights betterdays"

Ruthie died in her daddy's arms, she was four years old nearly five.




Eva Hesse - Painting

Photo - © Eva Hesse





"What's the time on your gold watch and chain?"

"Half past four o'clock and it's silver" ... "Oh and it's stopped" but it might as well have been half past perhaps then all over or in the middle perhaps of all that fuss, pain and pleasure like fireworks at the beginning until delight turns to scrimmage poor Ruthie was just beginning to notice to find out what no one really talks about apart from a few hints and muffled dishonesty it was all so tricky because you knew that your mum was dead and that your dad might know but it was too embarrassing to ask him before he died and even more to ask a stranger why the mores of one time or another could be so very different indeed because they had seemed as one and did you have to wait until you were older how could you know you can't ever know all you can do is trust and wish that magnets were different when they are turned the other way round.


Mr Deacy had told them "Like poles attract, unlike poles repel".

"If you spread your iron filings into the shoe box lids I've given you all and tap the bottom till they spread out evenly over the whole surface, now hold the magnets in the middle of the lid but underneath and draw the patterns you see into your books"

"Now take your magnet away turn it round the other way like this and replace it, see the pattern stays the same"

Mr Deacy went on and on but we never really knew at the end what attraction was or even might be or what a thought in your head might be like the exclusion principal though he would tell you it was principle and make you write it out ... it was the curious questions they seemed to fear; well not just him but all of us.




Gold Watch





'Skara Brae' thought Ruth, she would hold the picture of the 'sideboard' in her thoughts the most but later realising it was the bed she remembered and that maybe the sideboard was the forerunner of her mother's dressing table. Dad had loved his box bed but that was after the grass had been cut and unlike the Brae and the 'shock' no use snuggling up to be comfy; he kept mum's dressing table but because she never sat there now it was a reminder rather than a place to prepare. At her college Ruth researched the Egyptian raising of sleep to just above the floor and wondered about the sharing, about the covers and the inside.

Were beds then for sex or sleeping she wondered; she had seen pictures of the mattress rise and fall and liked the high ones best thinking the space above was wasted so best kept underneath. Beds and sex, beds for sex round and round she went and thought it all such a funny peculiar game for rhythmic bodies and hushed language. There were two kinds of sex she began to think, in bed sex and on bed sex both very different she had also noticed that one kind might come first and you had to be careful when it changed into the other.


"I think that I'll like kissing most" she told but no one was there so she told no one.




Skara Brae





An Atlas might be useful with some "Where are we..." moments whereas my fathers 'Map Book' wasn't useful in that way at all. He had drawn out plans on some pages that explained the maps on others but only if you understood the code, his code seemed exclusive. A "Where are we..." moment in a car might mean the person sitting next to the driver has to pinpoint a place in an atlas that helps the driver looking through the windscreen.
Experienced navigators 'read' their maps and tell the drivers a best direction with precise instruction as to future manoeuvres.

Sometimes I've been in cars where drivers get frustrated with late instruction, cross even and once felt really uncomfortable when a married couple left me in the back seat while they walked off in opposite directions to cool off; I suppose they returned but by then I'd left too.

Some maps have a relation with the landscape quite separate from their "Where are we..." function that's fascinating. My father's map drawing addressed other meanings; issues even like travel itself or which way to go once you're through the looking glass. As I looked again and again I began to find out which way the pages went, well a little at least, with things like adding page numbers if they were in colour harmony together then going on to the addition rather than the next page only sometimes it was backwards too.

What's happening as we travel seems to me to be rather abstract especially at sea when charts replace maps and we had to learn about stars for long journeys and keep fingers crossed during the day. You could also hug the coastline unless you had found out about magnets always pointing the same way.

A magnet has a field around it that's attractive to some things but not others but having no consciousness it doesn't know why. Some of us who have consciousness don't know how or why magnets work but we know that they do. Magnets are easy to use yet difficult to understand whereas maps seem simpler than they really are. Maybe my dad knew about Wolfgang Pauli and the exclusion principal but sharing electrons and refusing them is tricky. I was only little when I knew him so we didn't chat about things like that; both of us probably doubting what the other knew or was interested in. We were both alive then but now we are both dead so there might be a moment when we are both at the same time. Ado knows all that and quantum states because she's on both sides of our mirror but I live in fear of her disappearing or not being able to move freely from one side to the other.

What I now know is dad had wanted his Map Book to be beautiful so among other things spent lots of time thinking about the edges of the page and the edge of the map. One of his maps was a line zigzagging back and forth inside a rectangle; underneath he had written 'A Mile of Line'; my father had a sole of wit that made him very popular at funerals.




Faradays Law Diagram





She looked at the few books her father really owned, eleven, gosh she thought only eleven books. She was reading the opening of Kafka's Castle and liked the walk with Barnabas, she read it more than once. She fell forwards onto her bed and began to sob; she had done this more than once. Sometimes she lay or sat staring at a wall or a ceiling for whole days. It didn't really matter that no one would ever know about these days because they would always be in her future and never ever in her past.


She ate a sort of meatloaf avoiding the limp salad without dressing, "You always have that" the waiter teased; naïve thoughts of her fake friend Ado mused as she munched.

"Under my thumb The girl who once had me down
Under my thumb
The girl who once pushed me around
It's down to me
The difference in the clothes she wears

All those years at the College what a waste no one ever looked no one ever ever looked at the clothes she wore.




Stacked Books





Ruthie thought about walking through the glass for one last time perhaps wondering no looking at the differences from the first side Ruthie saw from the beach. This side ticks the clock with the slowest growth from young to old but once through to your own reflection there isn't any tick at all you stay the same as Ado. Ado is the dream Ruthie has of herself and sometimes in thought as that striking looking woman over there. Then suddenly Ado's wearing black and Ruthie falls in love completely with the beauty of her death.
Somewhere long ago someone told her from the time side of the looking glass that she had a death wish. With a sigh death wrapped herself around little Ruthie's heart and told her lie after lie. Do you not know that I am your friend; pretending like that to be alone, you are with me now I am the seller of sheets of glass ready for the silver sheen of decoration where you look to see yourself.

Two homes to walk between; then, where shall we go to, have we enough for a taxi, sooner or later we'll take one, take us to thirty nine Gerrard Street, did they rest down here, where's that music coming from, do we need refreshments, do you love me, don't you love the saxophone, that stately plump young player switches with ease between both sides, lets call him Tubby shall we. Look now look again there's a man who plays the bagpipes tell him where to buy his reeds look my lover he's changing as we watch, how much do you love me, oh such a little if at all I have never felt like this before I long for my Ado to be with me now.


"It's time to squeeze me tighter till I've no breath left"









"How's the body?"
I remember I used to wonder if I had a body and yes I had one for a little while, at least until death's visit from the reflection.

"What's it like being dead?"
Well it can be quite cold but not the kind of cold to do with temperature it's cold on your own before you get used to it before you like it then prefer it.

"There's more to it than that"
All the things that you think you know when you are old have happened to you already so there's less chance of anything more than trying to tidy so you sometimes begin to watch children in a different way. Children know all the things that are going to happen to them including their own death; being grown up is mostly about forgetting.

"Does that mean that age is about Far and Near?"
I think the first thing you know for certain is that there's a limit to what you can see. There has to be a sphere with you in the very centre and it's the same distance in any direction even when there are things in the way blocking your view and when you have learned how to see through these obstacles far is the same in all directions. Near is harder at first well harder than far but that's because it's not quite the same distance because of the mirrors you have to pass through to get your imagination ticking over to see near; near's like a sneeze.

"A sneeze? Near?"
You have to be dead to understand near because in a way we are dead all the time well most of it and not being there or rather here is like that and that's a bit like seeing through all the blockages till you know as well as realize there is a sphere only it's backwards. Things leaving help us to see near so when our lives end we get to be near, near is always waiting for you to be dead so you can see it.

"Alive … while you are reacting?"
Well you might think that and it's true well true for you if you get to be old but you have to remember that I'm just a little girl so haven't forgotten all the things you can't remember.

"I've always loved you Ruthie, I'm Jinbad your Jailer, I'm Tinbad your Taylor, I'm Finbad your Failer, I'm Winbad your wailer, I'm Sinbad your Sailor, I'm Ado your Ailer and I am your death, I didn't mind waiting while you played on the beach for a little while but I'm in a hurry now"





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Andrew Wallace 2017



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