BBC Feedback

I suppose I should sleep, since tomorrow means work and waking and expectation, but the TV has stopped blaring for a moment and there is quiet. Quiet, but not peace, quiet, but not darkness. The colour is blue and the face is familiar. Quiet, but not comfort; the silence is unnerving, awkward. This is a programme for me, congratulations to the BBC.

An unlikely courtship, two broken individuals saying little and meaning little but that is okay – silence means familiarity. I really should sleep, but their faces are keeping me conscious; one flat and cute, framed by a rounded crop, the other pointed and dependable, split by an aquiline beak. Their faces and their bodies and their silence transfix me. The blue and the night reach out from a frame of electric creams and yellows to hold me in.

And then it is late. Too late to go to bed, too late to prepare for tomorrow, too late to organize and so I close my eyes upon chocolate leather. Eyes open to blue and to night. The wind says gale and the clock says eight and it is too late to eat breakfast.

I shouldn’t carry so much, my shoulders and spine complain, but I almost fall down the twilight street without pavements or lamps. Eventually I reach civilisation – pavement and lamp – and I breathe a sigh of solace. But bags are not the only things weighing down my shoulder and the whites of my eyes catch a hand resting thereon. I spin so fast I almost catch him with my umbrella, almost trample his pristine black shoe, or perhaps boot. It is unclear beneath the sharp hem of a grey trouser-leg, folded in front and round the back unlike my unironed throw-ons, uncrinkled at the knee unlike mine. A dark belt is just visible between two halves of an identically stone-grey blazer, fastened at the waist by one button, not two, and rising over shoulders that need no padding to be square. A crisp, white shirt and a striped tie, diagonal with royal-blood blue and common-blood red, trussed neatly around a thick neck, tanned slightly, and with no blemish but an overstated adam’s apple. A perfect shave to rival my wispy half-shadow, unshaven but not really needing attention. A firm chin, jutting as if descended from a Jute, following definite lines to a conclusive jaw. But that nose. This eagle’s beak I have seen before, recently but always, as if in a dream.

As if in apology for interruption, “I believe you watched my programme last night.”

Time passes, eyes open and close to, “Yes, I did.”

“What did you make of it?”

More time, “The BBC has certainly become more aggressive in gathering feedback.”

Remnants of a smirk escaping the edge of a mouth, lips closed but amused. This man is not his character.

“I liked it, I suppose. I was unsure at the start, the silence put me off, but then it drew me in. I began underwhelmed and left dumbfounded, as if struck by the back of an iron hand.”

“I’m pleased.”

“Only, why does it always have to be so sad?”

Silence. His eyes are not searching for an answer. It is late now. Too late to go to work, too late to back out. I take a seat on the pavement, soft from mulched autumn leaves and he follows suit. We relish the silence.

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