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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Gerd & Henri’s Goose

Gerd is front of house. A taught and wired transvestite with an acrobatic mouth, there is something Scandinavian about her but you couldn’t say what. She is wearing a pinstripe suit with tiny two-tone black and white patent shoes. Swiss cotton shirt with a slim tie knotted Windsor style.

Henri has cooked a goose and we are two of an invited party of eight, seated around a white pine table which Gerd has brought over from her Grandmother’s estate in Finland. A hundred-and-twenty years ago the surface of the table was sealed with cream. Every few years since it has been washed with soap. It glows with warmth.

We don’t know each other, the guests, though I recognise Jane Austen, the author who is sitting opposite me. And the young woman seated next to me points out Michael, giving him three syllables in hushed tones, Míchaël.

He doesn’t speak all evening. He has a gaze which usually encompasses us all. From time to time, though, he focusses on us as individuals. I become aware he has fixed on me when I taste a hint of port in a morsel of Henri’s goose-skin. I don’t chew. I don’t move. The buzz of conversation around the table retreats. I can see their mouths working away, telling their stories, but I am cocooned in silence.

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