* Title of one of Jacques Prévert's books
Today is like a wet rag, soaked through. The air is saturated. You could imagine wringing it out. Then it changed, turned into proper rain, that drummed on my umbrella as I walked through the fields, along the old railway line, briefly, beside the main road before turning off, going through the angel gates and up a long avenue, dark with wide armed yew trees, slightly desolate.
|The angel gates in the rain|
That was after I’d spent the morning at my desk. Wet days are good for stoking the imagination as if it was a lethargic furnace – stoke, stoke, sparks spread and – hop! it’s warm, warm, hot even ….
This is part of the story I’m working on -
Pavel and I were standing in the street outside the hostel, talking. It was dusk, only half dark, but clear enough to see Vasili in the garden. He seemed to be clearing rubbish from this overgrown grassy area that had thick wooden logs for seats, an old wagon with some of its wheels removed and leaning against it, and a path that starts out paved and turns into a thin and dusty trackway through the undergrowth. He was picking things up anyway, rustling about. Then he came out of the gate and walked past us. I said hallo and he responded, but without looking at me, and walked on, with his slightly leaning-forward gait, baseball cap on his head, the brim jutting forward, as if he used it, like a ship’s prow, to cleave a passageway through a world that was unknown and could turn inimical at any moment. He cut his way down the street, defended and prepared for anything that might attempt to stand in his way.
|the garden, with old wagon|
It was hot and sunny by the time the train pulled into Sofia station. I’d been cold during the night, the window in my compartment wouldn’t close and a chill draught kept waking me from light sleep. But Sofia was warm, and I spied Pavel on the platform, there to meet me. We walked from the station to the hostel, and I was entranced – by the unusual designs in the station, by the marquee-like cover outside (which is empty Pavel explained because only after it was erected it was found to be unsafe and so, cannot be used), by the streets that rose up in little mounds where tree roots had swelled beneath the flagstones, by the dust that has gathered on the pavements, by the shady trees, the lion bridge – everything appeared in a numinous golden light.
....... The walls of my room were painted pale blue, hung with a Van Gogh reproduction - of his room in Arles. The window was open and a cool breeze circulated. The young man disappeared, I dropped off my rucksack, and Pavel and I then walked all the way up Rakovski, walked past the golden domed Aleksander Nevsky church and had a coffee on a grassy area outside a large building. I was a little giddy with excitement and lack of sleep. Pavel then went off to work, we arranged to meet later in the afternoon, and I wandered slowly back down Rakovski to the hostel, buying byrek for breakfast on the way. I unpacked, had a shower and lay down in this pale blue room, with squint rectangles of sunlight falling on the floor. The slats of the shutters in front of the open window stirred slightly in the breeze, making a soft clacking sound.