Wildly the frore wind blew the fallen leaves backwards, upwards, back towards the bare branches where they once lived , around circularly in tiny spirals across the street. Sourly small green apples lay upon the pavement, mush-turning, wounded here and there by the playful angry feet that walked through and back across the appled patch. The sky swam, swaddled snugly in shivering swarming clouds, soft white-grey of ashes, flux and rippled, richly blank. Winter’s first day had crept under night’s star-embroidered cloak into what had been a warm autumn, yesterday’s gentle heat was swept away suddenly and totally. Although rain had, as of yet, left the grey paving undappled it seemed that this was a temporary munificence; the darkling day promised to crack and wet all London soakingly. People cornered shelter in bus stops avoiding the freezing gusts, ruffled their coats and hid their faces from the sharp chill, resolved meekly trembling to dress as fading fall solicited. Radiators still coolly dozing from their long summer lie were rattled back to service, blankets shaken out mantled beds once more, window were shut more tightly, frames woodenly winced against the weather’s spiteful compensatiating turn. Pigeons skipped the battering winds, and, landmoored, stumbled on their rough-skinned mutilated feet, aimed their toothlessly chattering beaks at the floor, searching for elusive edible crumbs and specks that comprised their pitiable diet. In short, ambushed by the overabundance of algid air that rushes in to fill the void left when mercury shrivels in the cold, the people vastly and in general hid inside. Beyond this sudden windswept scene, behind a dirt streaked windowpane, its fitting rattling as the hoary heavens breathe in and out, lay two figures on two sofas, roughly at right angles, snug in Sunday’s languid lassitude and a mottled sheet of blankets. Beside the first is a small but growing ruin of depleted lager cans, a falter of hollow towers. Beside the second is a gravely wounded bottle of wine, green with red dregs of liquor, enough to half fill again the half full glass that stands beside it. The heatlessly flickering television commands their combined attentions in hearth-lieu, a film, white-and-black, Raging Bull is half-way-through. Now in fair Stoke Newington where we lay our scene, two gentlemen, both alike in dignity, meagre though the truth be, have hazed into this reasonable afternoon in a drowsy attitude fuelled halfly by the echoing debauch of the prior evening and completed by a breakfast of menacing oleaginousness accompanied by a brace of pick-me-ups.
A, for that is the first or christian name, given in full gaze of the Almighty, to he who reclines aside the moribund wine, by his parents in the holy sacrament of baptism some twenty-five Earth years past, sits upright, bolt, and eyes the aforementioned bottle for a second before tipping its meagre contents into his halffullempty receptacle. Replacing the bottle where it was he lifts the cool wine to his lips and deeply drinks it, draining perhaps two thirds (roughly) of the rich red fluid, pride of nowhere, bargain at twice the price, economic, acrid and (in all probability, all things being equal, though the truth remains obscured) anti-freeze-proofed. Grimacing from the latest tart-watery blow to his palette (though their antecedents have surely enblunted it previously) A removes a cigarette from it’s cardboard sett and, one end quickly brought to flames, tugs smoke through its length and into him, heading billowly from mouth to lungs. This too, it seems, displeases him: he watches the malevolent smoke balefully before exhaling a diffusing column towards the distant ceiling and taking a second puff. On screen the colourless drama familiarly unfolds; black blood bursts from faces split, drips darkly from the ring’s ropes, LaMotta’s self destruction greyly staggers on, through the punchdrunk Daedulus warren, the matadors of excess. Appetite tickled perhaps by the images dancing afront him, B rustles searchingly through the clearsummerblue plastic bag that carried of late provisions from local shop, inferiormarket, and locates a packet of crisps. Foil sealed for freshness pro the (unknown) consumer’s satisfaction pro a better world; a testament to the seeming generosity of human industry (albeit generated by avarice over benevolence) in stark comparison to Mother Nature’s brumal parsimony, and if not to capitalism’s evergreen fruits then surely to the ease of ostensible luxury unavailable to our recent ancestors. The pack retrieved and rent a hand is forced inside and soon removed it elevates a pincered sheaf of dried fried potato slivers to mouthheight whence its charge is placed upon the pink tongue recumbent there. A watches B reduce the splintering vittles, closemouthed stuffed, to unseen pulp, hears the sharp crunch liquefy and soften.
On screen Jake LaMotta’s television wont work: unhappily we know that this precipitates violence toward both wife and brother. Outside the darkness thickens; distressingly there is no more wine in the house. Nothing good will come of deprivation at this integral point of the weekend, muses A to himself, the clock’s sleight of hand continues apace, the minutes stole away. The unshiftable certainty of work is rising in the East, its shadow darkens Sunday PM. He looks at the petty drop in his glass, calculates the coinage in his coat; the spirit of the Sabbath incarnate he decides he cannot begrudge himself just one final weekend pleasure; swiftly drained and with such libations eke out the smiles before Monday’s awful godless sunrise. Such a decision self-benevolently reached A shifts from his soft-wrapped attitude and unshod feet upon the planked floor he asks his opposite (who adjacently currently is) whether any items are required from without those harried walls. The offer is declined; B’s foresight has ensured his stock of Crest is adequate for the present. The film is suspended immobile and, having donned his coat and hat A quits his living room pausing to look unenthusiastically into the night, leaving the door ajar too long in B’s honest and unprejudiced opinion. He communicates this audiencelessly with a resigned head shake and muttered curse, slumps back into his coat piled repose.