I Remember by Stephen Brockbank

(I remeber) south…

(I remember) In the final days and weeks before  he dropped out of (my)sight and left for Aus….  Clive seemed understandably both more  absent and preoccupied than usual. We imagined that this was because of his imminent departure.  During the last evening we spent together, eating dinner at my home in F.Central,  I would say something to him and he wouldn’t or couldn’t answer, seemingly distracted by staring at the bookshelves, or leaning close to the stereo to hear the gentle sound of the speakers humming,  or else, it was as if we  had interrupted his line of thought and he would visably react and ask the speaker to repeat themselves.

On the last day before he left I travelled into town with him to accompany him to the station, we stopped off at the room in a boutique hotel on Wardour street, which he stayed in whenever he worked in London. He had originally slept in the studio which was two or three hundred metres away, but had moved to the hotel as he had become economically more successful, or alternatively perhaps it was really because his wife had wanted to retreat further and further into the country, as far away from human beings as was possible in the UK. Now to comply with her desire they were about to fall round the circumference of the earth traveling eastwards until the west reappeared, vanishing from sight. Perhaps it was more that he needed the human contact the hotel and the bed, granted him.

His face became stiller and I could sense that he wanted to say something to me. Finally then at almost the  last possible moment he wanted to speak, but with such reticence that his words and phrases collided and became to densely packed to be properly understood, it was as if he could hardly express himself in English anymore, worse even than when he had returned from America when all sense had been obscured by the slowly fading ideology he’d adopted whilst there. Disentangling the non-semiotic from the semiotic, I understood that he had been to the Greek consulate to get a copy if his birth certificate and some other documents he needed for his migration south.  There had been a disturbing confusion, the Greek department in Athens had sent documents relating to another Clive … and this one had recently disappeared from a yacht in Portugal.

I imagine he phoned them from the studio to get more information on the homonym. It was much later, when I was going though a notebook that I was given by the hotel, that I found the following sentences written in his clear handwriting, in pale green ink, as if they had been spoken to him over the phone. — Clive I. born in Athens on the 19th of September 1949, arrested in Rome on the 12th of May 1980, held in prison in Rome until 1982 without trial, escaped from custody. Died in Portugal in 1987. That day as we sat in the hotel bar and sipped espresso and water, he did not know who he was any longer. Clive told me that he had come to accept that he needed to escape from this person he no longer recognized, that he intuited that he needed to escape from this representation he has kept hidden from himself. A brother, a comrade or another had vanished in his place, and he needed to absorb this implausible other. Does he, so far vanished over the event horizon think of us or has he merged with the dead ?