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Thursday, August 4, 2011

From "Cold Hillside" by Martin Cooper

Cold HillsideSimon visits his brother's house a few days after his death...

I don’t know what I expected. Some speaking sense of his personality. But there was nothing. Shirts ironed in the wardrobe, socks rolled in pairs in a top drawer. On one wall several groups of Victorian great-grandparents waited stiffly for the photographer to release them. The bookshelves were full of his favourites, old editions some of them, probably valuable.

His reading glasses were lying on the bedside table. I picked them up and sat on the edge of the bed. He had chosen them because they made him look harmless - I remembered how he used to blink over the gold framed half-lenses. He loved to mislead.

Finally, in great, helpless, breathless gulps, the tears came.

Fairly late, I went downstairs and turned on the stereo. There was a CD already in the drive and it started automatically, filling the living room with the drone of a concertina, very soft. Then the fiddle. Then the girl’s voice, phrases fading, lost in the shadows:

Too many battles, too many loads,

Old wounds carried down too many roads

To a bed on a cold hillside.

Giles had gone to his death with my song in his ears.

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