A circle in the room. No introductions. Nodding of the head, yes, yes, I am listening. A circle in the snow. The reminder of long acquaintance in passing. Reluctance to speak until the moment when it was possible to speak of children, of absence and the longing to return. Trying to balance; but perhaps a matter of depth and surface, of trying to keep the head above water. A blue shirt, but casually worn; the serious, the earnest and confident discussion, surprising dropped. An insouciant alacrity to dance, but this is later. The long explanation of a simple and ugly thing. A moment of account. A neat suit, a sweater, a charming smile, one responding to everything, with constant note taking. The air of paying attention. A late arrival; immediate reaction. Another late arrival. A third arrival. Forgetting where we are; being reminded of where we are. Beautiful stockings, embroidered boots, laying down words and gestures as material things. One story among others. Thinking on the spot. A stone in the hand. A stone on the floor. A stone in my hand, which does not rest there. The ability to appear as one that is performed, until there is little or no difference. A straight back, a careful and particular style, including fabulous boots. Imagining common ground. Refusing common ground. The desire for common ground. Finding common ground; the relief. Waiting to speak. Not speaking. Listening. Pretending to listen but checking email instead. Checking email while listening, yes, yes, I hear you. The identification of an accent or a certain tone of voice, yes, yes, I hear you and in hearing you, I recognise something about you. Black lace-up shoes, and quite a formal jacket; the assuming of a critical position as a matter of position. Making a point forcefully. The problem of making a forceful point, the insistence on participation; forgetting at times to leave space for nothing to happen. Introductions at last. No more than names. Too late for naming: what do you do? A sudden lack of vocabulary. Obscure or irrelevant or inappropriate examples (on my part, anyway). Sending a script as though it mattered, expecting its enacting. Reluctance with good humour. Voices raised obligingly; two refusals, one covert but unengaged, one declared in the seizure of mastery. The formation of small groups, consciously or unconsciously, despite the democratic round table, the sharing of hospitality. The importance of lunch. Premature indulgence. Looking forward to supper. Waiting for a friendly move. Reading aloud. The outside. The inside. An extravagant sweater. The invitation to touch one’s own hand as though it might belong to another. A story that provoked interest and anger. Positions taken up, but as an undercurrent. Standing in the snow looking at the mountains, which are almost impossible to see. The nervous plucking at the skirt of a dress. Pretending we do not know each other, or at least, not under the circumstances we did. Glances exchanged and eyebrows raised: an unexpected complicity. Duration, endurance. The inability to leave the room. The impossibility or remaining. Day-dreaming. Making a sign in the air. Making an internal sign, Thinking of being elsewhere. Returning to the present. Passivity disguised as participation. Aggression disguised as dialogue. Active production. Obliged production. The rejection of collective work. Communication but not transmission. The noise of sharing. Exposure, in a practiced way. Greedy reflexes. Opening holes. Closing gaps. The occasional moment of an exchange always ruptured. Pretending to have a headache. Having a headache. Not being asked a single question. The porosity of spaces. Clearing up as though we had not been there. Meeting in the street. Arriving on time. Putting in the hours. Early departures (why?). Leaving in time. The bitter end, of course; sticking it out to the end. We must. We do. We will. Slipping away quietly.
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