Olaudah's in the Rain  Edward Mc Whinney



Watching the drizzly rain, strumming my guitar, music from another generation, equally as happy, equally as messed up, words like flies in the small room, the buzz that captures the silliness of it all, a gammy finger on trigger hand slowing me down to snail's pace, tiring easily, three or four hours walking around town, painful shins in the dampness, grit gets under the skin, the brain loses power. I drank soup for lunch in Olaudah's in Mutton Lane. I read some poems without getting the meaning. Four girls came giggling around me, distributing leaflets, crackling with energy. I smiled and placed the leaflets under the soup bowl. I don't know what they were about but they were nice girls anyway. I ran back over sentences in the poems. What do they mean? Olaudah made a joke to the men in boiler suits at his counter. They all laughed. The laughter drifted out into the rain in the lane. The not so young man from New York played the clarinet. Olaudah will call him in and give him soup. How much you make to-day man? And they talk about little things. Olaudah says to him, man, you should play some tunes with Andy there, he good guitar player. The clarinet player knows me all right. He nods my way. How's the finger man? We'll wait till that heals, then we'll play together. I said that would be really good. Cool, says New York. Behind Olaudah is the picture of a beautiful Moon hanging over an exotic bay. It's the kind of moon that makes you hope the dawn will never come. I go to bed later these days, hoping that the dawn will come quicker. I hate the dark. We rarely get beautiful Moons in Shandon Street. Now they were talking about a film because the clarinet player said to Olaudah, that is the greatest movie ever made, that is the Finnegan's Wake of movies and Olaudah says cool man, but not too enthusiastically, and New York continues saying that the backstage scenes and the hotel room scenes and the scenes on the tour bus take away the glamour you might have in your ideas from the album covers and the music. The film reveals the highly complex nature of the human mind which cannot be described in linear narratives as satisfyingly as in the more concrete narrative. Isn't there always so much to learn from the good movies, Olaudah says. Why you keep playing in the rain man, says Olaudah? To satisfy my vanity, says New York. If you think it's good, then that's all right, says Olaudah. They talk about the merits of living in a house or an apartment as New York calls a flat. He says that Woody Allen hates living in a house because he's petrified of someone breaking in and bludgeoning him to death in his bed at night. He felt secure in his apartment, protected by the doorman and the building. Then he goes back into the rain to his perch under the awning to Pizza Empire and he plays Summertime. Next to the picture of the full moon over that bay is a poster with these words as a caption – Equality is a Pretty Word, under a picture of a large bloody fist coming down hard on something I can't make out. A group of glamorous ladies near the window are all laughing loudly at one who has just described how she lost nine years of her life to this Frenchman, four years married to him and five years trying to get a divorce. They are dripping in jewelry and are heavily smothered in cosmetics. Faces that pass along the lane reveal much more, tensions between lovers, loneliness, stupidity, even cruelty. Everybody sees a different story or a different take on the story, the angles of the narrative spoken by that through-lane to the English Market are sometimes sensational, here are some very powerful lives going about it. Sometimes I get a close-up as when a man plants a snarling, pale face up against the glass, a moribund gleam in the eyes, the face pallid and urgent under the dripping brim of a Stetson, revealing madness or genius, until I realise that he is only trying to find some shelter to light a cigarette. Out on Patrick St. people are more inclined to meander, but along the lane it's a straight line, cutting through different angles on the oldest stories. The mysteries of life are not as linear as the lane. Invisible threads just about hold up the familiar settings and feelings. The divorced woman suddenly screams with laughter. She jangles a heavy bracelet in the air and shouts that he said he never gives a straight answer because there are no straight answers and I said to him, I said, well honey I'll give you one if only you ask me.