Dust To Dust

When I gaze at the stars I realise how significant I am. A well-known comedian’s banter, perhaps, but, nonetheless all too true. It is the small things which have the most impact. It’s amazing how fast hard skin forms on feet. Out of the many useless projects undertaken by scientists the most endearing was one in which they discovered that human feet tastes like limburger cheese. I live in hope that pasta lovers suddenly convert from parmesan to limburger. With my limitless supply I’ll be quids in.

There are other things on the carpet apart from several piles of foot shavings. And not only on the bathroom floor. On tables, shelves, the computer monitor, the keyboard. The accumulation of dust proceeds at a pace that is in inverse proportion to one’s inclination to wipe it away. The shelf I spent half an hour (well, fifteen minutes, actually, oh alright five minutes) dusting, washing and polishing just two days ago is now under a completely smooth veneer of dull dust. You never see it happening. Despite best efforts to cut it off at source by hoovering carpets, curtains and under sofa cushions, this silent, marauding army of nomadic molecules descends, from nowhere, onto all horizontal surfaces like a population of microscopic travelling tinkers.

Dust is mostly the remnants of human skin. But don’t worry. All that dust is not just from you and your family. Some of it belongs to strangers who once lived and, possibly, died in your house. A lot of it just wanders in through the cracks around your windows, so you are sharing your house with a lot of squatters, dead and alive. Although you wouldn’t know it, your house could be home to some celebrated remains.

That’s why I never wipe Frank Zappa off my guitar. He was one type of star who made me feel insignificant, yet enriched by the boundless virtuosity of his musicianship and lyric writing. When asked, in an interview, how he would like to be remembered, he gave the completely characteristic and awe-inspiring reply, ‘I don’t give a fuck if I’m remembered or not.’

Such scorn in the face of mortality is unnerving. And you realise how close you are with the knowledge that you carry death with you wherever you go. The top layer of your skin, your hair, your nails, corns and bunions have actually shuffled off their mortal coils. One begins to see even more meaning in Leonard Cohen’s song “Dress Rehearsal Rag” in which he describes the experience of a bleary-eyed shave: ‘That’s a funeral in the mirror and it’s stopping at your face.’ Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

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5 Responses

  1. Cool bananas. Sorry about all the dust in here too, Poetman’s cleaner made off with someone’s bag and we haven’t seen him since. Standup night at the Orchid Room with music, ‘microscopic travelling tinkers’ cool,

  2. Euwww… feet cheese. The Frank Zappa though – how that made my mind whirl into a different place with different thoughts. Thank you. A perfect musing whilst I sip my gin.

  3. Stranger dust, wonderful……..this piece pops right off the page, hi by the way.

  4. Thangyew, thangyew, thangyew! This promises to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

    I shall blogroll Orchid Room right away.

    Hello to you all.

  5. Frank Who…Great post…Deal with the dust…its part of nature…unless I should resurrect Tiny and dress him in an apron…welcome…You can use anybodies stuff but don’t go in my dressing room…I am saving something in there…

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