Figure XVI

July 11, 2006

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Laura changes trains at Victoria amid the brooding grey suits and pastel flashes of summer cotton; onwards, north up to Notting Hill Gate. Jo has already opened up when she arrives, the metal grills removed from the windows and taken inside to display the ramshackle stock of bric-a-brac and retro fashion. Nothing Happens. She has worked here for a month now, but has never questioned Jo on what the name means. Steve suggested that it was a reference to Samuel Beckett. Laura is not so sure. Jo does not seem given to literary allusions, instead she imagines that the name is literal, a comment on the slow trade that the shop appears to cling to. People rarely seem to need a 1940s cocktail dress, or record player cased in fake crocodile skin first thing on a Thursday morning. Steve thinks that the shop is in the wrong place; that it would do much better if it was in with the other antique and second-hand shops around the market. But Nothing Happens is in the wrong part of Notting Hill.

Orange Pekoe in the morning, suffuses the shop with a dim glow of reason; sitting bright as marigolds in the steel leaf-strainer, then red as blood against the cups’ delicate white. Putting her bag down, Laura sits aside Jo at the Formica table salvaged from a motorway service station outside Stevenage, one staring into the cup as if it were some spy-glass to another world, the other glancing first to the window at the blotchy grey sky, and then across to her friend, awaiting a response. Neither of them speak, but there is something in this act of sharing tea, the simple stillness of their being that suggests unity, agreement, something understood; but nothing happens.

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3 Responses to “Figure XVI”

  1. bloglily said

    Marvelous! I liked Nothing Happens — and the orange pekoe, reasonable tea, and the description of it, the record player in fake crocodile, the salvaged formica table, the spyglass to another world.

    Thank you.

    BL

  2. I personally love retro anything including retro fashion. Thanks for the post.

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