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Open Tue 12 – 6pm, Wed – Sun 12 – 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday 12 noon - 6 pm, Wednesday to Sunday 12 noon – 8 pm
The man stands by his pick-up
truck and whirrs the automatic
windlass into life. Bob, Bob’s
wife and Bob’s wife’s niece watch.
When he arrived, he eyed Bob’s car,
scratched his baseball-cap, said the ad
had had him understand it wasn’t quite
so… But he’d take it. For parts.
Bob has been busy: he’s jettisoned
the other contents of the corrugated iron
garage. Only two prehistoric oil-cans –
‘good for ten years yet’ – get saved.
The cable tautens, and Bob’s car –
insofar as it can still be called
a car – ploughs into daylight. No tyres.
No engine. Chassis on the gravel.
The man operates the controls
with one thumb. ‘Can we help at all?’
‘No, it’s OK.’ Bob’s wife’s niece’s small
son’s playing with a bucketful of stones.
The pick-up humps up the unmade lane.
Bob’s car rides piggyback, bumping side
to side. They turn onto the main road
at the top, and everybody goes inside.
We keep the tortoise in the fridge through the winter.
We buy our shopping from the corner shop on the way
home from work, as and when we need it. We dry our
washing on radiators. We pick chillies from the medusa chilli
plant on the kitchen windowsill. We listen to the same CD
over and over for days, weeks at a time. We eat chilli most
nights. We take it in turns to wash up. We talk a fair bit
with the curtains closed. We talk about your ex lovers.
We talk about chelonian hibernation and substrates.
We sometimes talk about sphagnum moss. We check the
tortoise, although we don’t really know what it is we are
checking. You put an extra blanket on our bed. We sleep.