The Oslers, I’ve noticed, are keen joggers – usually setting out around seven p.m. and returning an hour or so later. Steven, invariably, starts the stronger, but is trailing by the time they return – on reflection, this seems fairly typical of the man.
Spent the morning reading some of Anne-Marie’s poems. They seem very accomplished – sensitive without being cloyingly so and illuminated by flashes of insight. In ‘Mission Statement’, for example, a cat sits on the window ledge, staring back at the narrator with an expression of ‘insolence and regret’. This, I assume, is a metaphor for friendships lost and opportunities squandered. Later, in the same poem, she follows ‘a shadowed path, leaving parts of myself in its puddles.’ Is this, I wonder, the path that led to Steven?
Tonight’s book group was at Christine’s. A pointless and rancorous exchange about Celine’s ‘Death on Credit’ – my suggested novel – which nobody else had bothered to finish. Pauline, in fact, confessed – apparently without embarrassment – that she hadn’t even started, an admission I thought should have invalidated her presence at the meeting. The evening might have been wasted were it not for Izzie’s revelation that she went to school with Anne-Marie Osler. “We weren’t particular friends, but she was nice,” she said. “Jessica keeps up with her – she writes poetry…”
My new neighbours have finally moved into Number 12 – the Oslers: Anne-Marie seems agreeable but I was less fussed about Steven who appeared five minutes into our conversation and, on being introduced, demanded, “So what do you do?” As I offered a precis of my employment history, he stared at me with a strange expression that might have indicated belligerence or incredulity – before I could finish, he turned to Anne-Marie, grimaced and disappeared into the kitchen. I think that he was trying to be humorous in the genially blunt manner adopted by boors and numbskulls, though it occurred to me later that he might have incurred an injury in the process of moving – solvent exposure, for example, or a blow to the head.