|GOD ONLY KNOWS by Tee Chandler|
Around the dark red velvet curtains, a border of light is just about visible. I guess the time is - um, about 5.30am. I stretch out my hand and pick up my phone. The room is bathed in a fresh white light as it bursts into life. I focus on the screen - it is 5.19am. I think, yep, let's get up or maybe read a while or lie in bed and listen to some music. I decide to get up because I want to have a swim as the sun rises but also I have remembered that I had received some photographs I want to write about - these photographs. This is what this project has given me - not only a reason to get up in the morning but an excitement, an anticipation, an involvement in the lives of others. I dress quickly and creep downstairs and pick up my towel and place this in my bag with my swim shoes. They have large holes in each toe but they will last out the summer. As the front door clicks shut, I feel the chill of the morning breeze around my bare legs. I press play on my ipod shuffle. Noel Gallagher's gorgeous, driving guitar sets the beat for my walk down to the sea which looks flat from a distance. A few early commuters are hurrying along the pavements. No good mornings - we are all in our separate little worlds. As I come closer to the beach I think back to my swim yesterday with my friend Joan and hope the water is as calm and clear. It is. I slide down the pebbles and return the wave of a fisherman who I chatted briefly to a few weeks ago and who is standing on the other side of the apron in front of the brick pier where I swim. I undress but, in deference to my companion, I keep my pants on and wade in. It is cold, clear and wonderful. I push out with my pathetic breast stroke but it is my breast stroke. I twist, I turn, I float on my back and look up at the pale outline of the fading crescent moon. I take a breath and push forward with my head under the surface and I see white bubbles stream against the green of the water. Enough. I turn towards the shore and, as I leave the growing swell, I look up to see the fisherman wave goodbye. I dry my tingling body with my towel and take off my wet pants and stand there naked for a few seconds and face the sea. I think I am in love with it. I dress and trudge up to the road which takes me straight home. I grab a bowl of cereal and I sit down at the computer with Paul McCartney thumping his bass guitar in my ears. A flawed genius. We are all flawed but there are not many geniuses.
I stare at the screen and I think "Tee". I look at the photographs she had sent a few days ago. The photographs that had hit me for six. When I was swimming in that pool and she was photographing me, I had no idea that the resultant images would be like this. A magnificent swirl of grey smudges of light and liquid, of dark lines of eyebrow and thinning whisps of hair, of distorted bubbled boldness. Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" is on now, his urgent insistent voice moves my fingers across the keyboard as I look again at these crazy pictures and think how much they speak of the criss cross quiz of life. The calm, the passion, the buzziness, the somnolence, the glow and the flash of light. Fast. Slow. Mad. Sane.
Which one will I choose? I look at my arms outstretched as I glide forwards. Then I turn to me playing dead with my hands clinging on to - nothing. Then this mugshot. I put this up as I write these words and a new song rings in my ears. I may not always love you but as long as there are stars above you. You don't need to doubt it. I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you. Ooooh. Brian Wilson. Certainly a genius. His melodies and arrangements are like this photograph. A mass of contrasting shapes and sounds woven together to produce something life affirming which moves me to write words which do not go anywhere near to explaining what this means to me. God only knows.