window is a blog Maria Amidu started writing in January 2015. It is a repository for her random musings on significant and insignificant things…

Toast

Who could have foreseen the trajectory from watching a charismatic, Jamaican gentleman talking about important things on the television as a teenager to sitting opposite him as an adult at his kitchen table, really, actually talking to him?

When you only know some things about art, politics, and culture then get the opportunity to work with a man who knows everything about everything how on earth are you going to contribute to the conversation? The first time I worked with Stuart (on the developments of Rivington Place) my hands were shaking. I suffer from performance anxiety, and this made it impossible for me to write coherently. I think it was the word emeritus that I stumbled over. God only knows what Stuart was thinking… But his generosity, sensitivity and humour soon put me at ease, and over time to my surprise and delight we became great friends. We had many a conversation: Rivington Place (of course), art, politics, culture, life, health, soup and other meals; and a favourite – our love of toast and our unwitting roles as the family toast burners! Which always made us laugh.

My Thursdays between 2003 and 2007 had an exquisite rhythm and syncopation: the train from Dalston to West Hampstead, my footsteps up West End Lane, the Ulysses Road doorbell, Stuart’s footsteps across the hallway, our greeting, our footsteps to Stuart’s study, the computer waking up, Stuart’s cadence, our laughter. He left for dialysis at 12.30pm. I stayed until 3.30pm finishing paperwork, pausing now and then to gaze out at the London skyline. I always felt some disappointment and sorrow – that our working day could not be longer, and that he had to go through his regular treatment.

Stuart taught me so much about so much; made me feel a sense of place. He genuinely cared. Once, in 2012 when I went to visit him, he gave me an exceptional and impromptu ‘lecture’ on “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” and rescued me from defeat at a very troubling period in my life.

Every year on the 10th February I make two slices of toast. Each year I have unwittingly burnt them. This has made me cry, and then smile.

I miss him.

Once Upon a Time (spontaneous writing)

I have zoned in on the o in Once and the o in Upon because Imogen mentioned it, and circles, and Tracie mentioned that momentousness is upon us, and now I can’t stop noticing the circles in all the words I have just written, which brings me to the my love of and the power of language, how I’m always collecting words and how they do not always suffice, how we need to embody life sometimes rather than just talk about it, or are we always embodying it anyways even if we are jabbering on and on? or maybe it’s just me doing the jabbering on and on! I need words either way, they sometimes formulate and organise themselves of their own accord and give me the essence of feelings I have been trying to articulate, I think I might prefer writing to speaking, the look of words are as important as the pronunciation, the hearing is less powerful sometimes than the scribing, I’m rereading Love in the Time of Cholera after a recent exchange brought it to my attention again and I’m astounded by Gabriela Garcia Marquez’s skill in joining words together to make the most beautiful, strange and heart breaking images, who would be without books, not just books, also the writers of the books; books raised me and raise me still, I’ve stopped writing and glanced out the window to the rooftops but I could just as easily be in the harbour that has just been described in the last paragraph of the book (see above) and I’m amazed, not for the first time this week, about the power of the present, disintegrating every other moment so that I am… (for the first time I ran out of time!)

my stuff (spontaneous writing)

Dustman, Michael Rosen, I love this poem, the noises of the morning, the emotional, social and moral dilemmas of a week day, the pragmatism of having a system to shed the stuff of human endeavour, the conversations that randomly happen in the street between two strangers, the way that a fleeting relationship builds, forms and then disintegrates. It’s comforting. We need this stuff to keep us present, solid ground to walk on when there is a sea of turmoil, waking up to the same scene day in day out matters because in all the confusion we know that what we see is true even if it isn’t what we want, without this truth we would stumble and fall, disappearing into an unstructured space, swirling with the cacophony of everything, bashing into us and sending us spinning, I like the certainty of these day to day things – sunrise, seagulls shouting, dust trucks beeping, my alarm of songbirds going off

word collecting

Yusef Bakkali and our conversation about Stuart: coalesce rupture colossal

word collecting

Basel the Uber driver: 4am, the seagulls are shouting

Lovely senior ladies on the train: …it was dead by the time Mrs Gower came to pick it up

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