Shut up and deal

JUNE 15 03 – I should have stayed in bed. But the siren-call of poker was too strong. If it's any consolation, I took Hogan down with me. At one point the table was tipping into my lap under the weight of the chips I had amassed. The others just could not fail to give me their money. The caraway seeds still fresh between my teeth from the ryebread sandwiches, it turned, I was 'on tilt'. Bastard poker. Like glasses rolling down the table on a sinking ship, I threw good money after bad, seemingly compelled to give it all away.

I developed a stomach ache, asked Hogan:

'You got any indigestion tablets?'

'I've got brandy…'

Who can resist a twisting squeaky cork, it sounds so perfect every time.

I don't remember anything else.


I remember the moon was full walking home. And today has been a lacklustre day. Full of nothing, yet a sense that this day I should note particularly, as if it may be the day a death occurs. When this feeling overwhelmed me, I walked like a ghost through the house. Where the sun had just set a plane made an 'X' against the vapour trail of an earlier plane. I stood leaning against the sink by the open kitchen door watching a large moth flutter out of the darkness of the corridor past me out the open door, attracted by a lit kitchen window next door. I watched its lurching drunken flight, not touching anything, seeming to know where to go and getting there slowly. It dawdled a little outside before blending into the dark and away.

I consulted the Yijing in the darkness but still enough light to read and got an oracle with the word 'si' in it, 'death':

Coming suddenly: burning up, dying, left behind. (Hexagram 30/4)

I never realised this is the other one of only two hexagrams with the character 'si' in them (the other is 16/5). I had consulted specifically to see if I would get a hexagram that contained a death omen, such as hexagram 28, which I wrote about in connection with the death of my father.

If it happens today, well I will have sensed it. Some days reveal their meaning slowly, some days are infinitely forgettable, or so it seems while experiencing them, but then something happens and you can never forget this day as long as you live. It may be nothing, it may be a calm before a storm. I do not know whether I am mistaken, and if I am right I do not know what kind of devastation to expect. All day I have noticed things but took no notice, my head full of cotton-wool, only now do I find myself holding within me a kaleidoscope that evidently wishes me to view its pattern.

A man, earlier, passed my window in the street and spewed up outside, walking on as if nothing had occurred. I thought little of it. Early this morning, a rusty bulldozer in the fields behind my garden caught my attention. At twilight I heard a bird I have never heard before. I saw a plane with unusual tail-fins. All of this, observed and yet not really consciously considered. A black man in the street this morning wearing a grey bowler hat, reminded me of Papa Legba, he was annoyed some children had not been picked up for a wedding. This afternoon, a most horrendous argument in Arabic between a man and a woman in a car, which then sped off at speed. Unimportant incidental parts of a day.

But then, an intimation that death was in the air, that death would touch me. The impressions, I can't make sense of. A crossroads. It may be nothing, but I find myself alert now, awakened to the possibility. It seemed important to realise yesterday was the full moon. I remember now. I saw it first behind clouds, it looked like a demon's face, as a candle illuminates the inside of a hollowed-out Halloween pumpkin face. I was drunk, of mild interest only. As I walked down the long straight road home, the moon broke free of the clouds into open night sky, it was full.

It interests me, this sudden retake on a lacklustre day.