Cold Fishes

Today I started reading Conversations with Friends (Sally Rooney) – it’s like the polar opposite of Dolly Alderton’s book. I am fully aware of the sort of image I am projecting of myself here, but to be honest, I’m catching up somewhat reluctantly on these books that have been so ferociously hyped by middle class white girls online. I only purchased them when real life friends, whose opinions I respected, told me I just HAD to read both books. So here we are.

Rooney’s main character, Frances, is something of a cold fish so far, I have decided, at 35% progress according to my kindle. This is odd compared to yesterday’s reading, because Alderton’s book is thronged with emotion that is completely explained and rationalised. By contrast, Rooney seems to write about a sort of numbness, whilst the characters do and say things that betray hints of stronger feeling. Her characters aren’t terribly likeable (yet?), though the narrator’s observations feel uncannily familiar. To read Sally Rooney’s writing is to be in a perpetual state of deja vu, although perhaps that’s just a symptom of my Irish heritage and childhood experiences.

Since I decided to get into the habit of writing like this, thoughts are coming to me more easily and naturally when I’m out and about. Unfortunately for today’s post, that means an extract from my Google Keep notes made whilst drunk on Strongbow, in the back of an Uber through Herne Hill and East Dulwich. I think I was on the edge of weeping, self-pitying maniac that I am, though I’m unsure how sympathetically that is hinted at here. The whole sorry, self-indulgent tale is below.

I feel fuzzy and drunk, since I’ve had one can at the rehearsal studio. I am sat in the back of an Uber from one end of South London to the other. I am hyper-aware of what I can hear, including the driver’s hard boiled sweet clinking against his teeth.

I have put my kindle down to look out the window because I have noticed how prettily the sunset is lighting up the tops of shop arcades and the tower blocks; one block sits right in the middle of a park that is ringed by neat Victorian houses, looking like it’s just landed from space and settled in this spot. We are driving through Herne Hill and I catch a glimpse of someone who, from behind, looks a tiny bit like someone I am missing. I have a sudden, irrational urge to cry, and simultaneously feel dramatically pathetic.

One of the people I’ve been playing music with is someone I once fantasised about having at least a fling with, or some sort of physical contact. I am acutely aware of how impervious I have been to that fantasy this afternoon, now that my head is filled with someone else. It’s difficult to feel rational in any way, because although I’ve tried to mourn the whole situation, it feels disloyal to be attracted to anyone else, or even try to be.

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