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They make me take off my wedding ring. It’s the magnets, they say. I lie down. Be still, they say.
Still. I close my eyes and picture the word – STILL – Palatino Linotype on gun metal grey. Still.
Think of something still. The machine is clanking. Remember. You are not your brain. Keep still…Still life. Nature Morte the French say. No, not today. Not morte.
Sing a happy song mum would say. I’m Still Standing. Elton bloody John and his dozy boater. Watford and the Cup Final and New Year’s Eve at the hockey club disco. 1984. Jon got pissed on Pernod. Woke up in a ditch and walked home with only one shoe while I waited for him with a bottle of Bells full of half ps. At midnight they stopped being legal tender and we’d planned to get smashed with them. 200 of them for a pint. He could have frozen to death.
Better still. Still Ill, The Smiths. I’m feeling very sick and ill today, indeed. Indeed. All three of us in Fin’s Renault 5. Double yellows outside FL Moore’s as we piled in for that first album. All three of us. That film still cover of a headless torso in Aston Villa monochrome. A ladder of ripples on his stomach. Our imaginations young. That question mark already in my brain.
Still and all. Still Crazy After All These Years. Paul Simon. Dad’s old tape recorder, the cover all sepia and floppy collars. They’d sit me in the middle of the room that summer they thought I was deaf and play tapes while the neighbourhood mums would meet for mugs of tea and Delia cakes. I traced the purple paisley whirls of the carpet while reading Shoot or Whizzer and Chips. I wasn’t deaf but I didn’t tell them. I was just nosy. I’d distil their talk of hysterectomies and cousins who had stolen Mike Yarwood’s Roller for a bank job. Front page of the Express that one. Crazy didn’t sound crazy when Paul Simon sang about it. Then again he wasn’t in a magnetic coffin…
Still. No. Still no U2. Not even with the Reaper at my elbow.
Still, I remember mum would take me to Mass. 4, 5 years old something like that. We’d sit close in the pews and she’d put her finger under every word of the service, instilling the ritual, and I’d track it, in awe of old angry Father Pascal. He could remember every word. Mum and I would sing the hymns together, neither of us were singers but each comfortable with the other’s cracked voice. She’d explain them on the way home. We loved Dear Lord and Father of Mankind – a big hymn you could get lost in. It had a great drama, you could tell that the organist loved it too. You had to remember the bits that were sung in a whisper. I remember her explaining that final verse. She said I should remember and understand that God wasn’t in the wind, nor in the earthquake and he wasn’t in the fire. He was the still small voice of calm.
That still small voice of calm…that’s what I’m waiting for. Still.