Peter Reiling

Expressions of a Gastronomist, Relinquishing His Knives

Meanwhile, Mile End café tea coats the buttery vein of my Danish. In the rear frantic frying pans jangle across the worn out surface of my mind; boiling bitumen stroking the cortex. I'm thinking of Aldo, an old Italian restaurateur I used to work for, he had the ability to slowly de-personalise himself with each new glass of taciturn red wine. And me constantly looking for a place where one can stand still yet keep moving; contemplative motion. Somewhere near the furthest pitches of my chord I fall for another Aphrodite, inhale the remnants of regressional temptation and begin to write.
Yes, there were Christian melodies promoting faith in Mile End. Men of the street dancing airs of knowing equivocation; pose ambiguous. All encompassing, abject cloaks of toil donning the shoulders of young and old alike. Desperate Proles hand in stolid hand longing for the contents of your old coffee jars, on the corner between Chicken and Chips and the Man Playing Ball With A Child. Sixty to sixty-five, eyes worn and ragged, prescient with fear. Now the truth will out. Fabricated relationships, methods of endearment. Irrepressible biology fusing with the black lines of letters I can't see anymore.
Eeked from the throne of the Shah Jehan, this Kohinoor diamond, lit bright with the omnipresent light of a thousand lugubrious green poles, astraddle oily slumps of de-enamelled denture. Ah, to become the lapidarian sculptor of mine own brain, mine own; and all the rest prospect alone.
I awake in the early Summer morning when all the pricks are sore, the light of a thousand Vestal Virgins assimilating my body and mind in to the hearts of their oversized clitori. Base, Baroque, Ambrosia lined apple seeds torn from Eros' soul. Paranoid pigs somersault thickly in pitch of greedy awe; lateral spirals.
The phone rings!
As I rush head long toward the sound I trip over the old soiled bean pan and bruise my foot again. Traces of last weeks half cooked vermicelli still visible in the rat shit.
"Chomping bally snapping arse!" I curse. The phone stops ringing as my elbow severs the receiver. Blatant hornet horns, discombobulated, non-plussed, thrown up in to the air reverie. Old Bulbous Eyes rolls over in front of me, splaying his broiled guts on the chips.
A single, edifying glimmer of light; the diamond ring. Views to live for and cliffs to die from. Crack the spine, bend it back and hear the papyrus folds, an ardent voice in every blot, a universe contained in the space between nib and paper. There was a certain piquancy to the tea that day, and the usual disinterested looks of eyes as I walked through.

I move on to shoes chewing gum and concrete down by Aldgate East where Big Issue Ted gets one rejection too many. Hordes of melancholy buried deep in books designed for children; homogenous soups of evolutionary rancour. Honey roast pork and carnivalesque masks on my mind. Wild, ill timed gaits, thick souls, red hair and the clangy sound of fake jewellery. Pit boiled bellies peeking out through wet, golden yellow sou'-westers. Some times, if you look at them, green coats, black hats, brown boots and staring eyes, focused cap Jacks falling under the wheels of the FT 100, Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Epsilons and lower, bums with attitude and lushes with apathy, sweaty skin, chi-wow-wa fur, hairy legs and shiny heads, woolly scarves, checked pants, orange stripy jumpers, English, Danes, Canadians and Waynes, heroes, fakes, the real men of the world, grimy hands and manicured palms, stroking the limp cocks of Imperial folly, well. . .. . .. . .
Fervent chemistry riling for position amongst an international frisson of hyper-activity.
I spot a small service bell upon the well cultured surface of Pellici's cheese counter, the chime enlightened my palette. People were talking at the coffee tables.

"Theatre!? I should say not old man"
"Well, yes, I must say, I had considered the possibility, but . . . Well, you know . . ."

Before me I see the vibrant outline of orange painted chairs, suspended in space and all the legs creating a vortex of movement. Blue, laddered stockings massaging white heel curves to the mechanistic click of a clipper flick. Brass candelabras, broken white plates, ostentatious Rococo curves; consumed by the substance, it exhausts me.
An hour later I'm in Covent Garden, the prosaic tunes of a weathered busker echoing through the stone corridor and mingling with an Opera Duet below me. Their voices rise to impossible decibel. Above me the whirring metal blades of helicopters amplify the sound of air. French teenagers speak with impetuous tone whilst across the piazza, screams applaud the acrobatic jester. Red faced Aryans salivate with pleasure their boiled sweets, taught strings on violins play. . . .
"Hey, Hey, Hey Ushanka!!!!"
Indiscernible voices and laughs mingle with visceral aura. I try to disseminate the sounds.
A Moroccan sounding woman sings painfully through the loud speaker and Portuguese girls blabber incomprehensible sounds behind me.
"Ci ci, com-en-eh-ye call-a-ye qua ti-siesto."
"I,I,I talk about that . . ." Rolls the Irish, relaxing with his pipe.
Now the tempo picks up, Tangiers maybe, in a bar, sipping strong coffee and smoking hukkas. Light bouncing from rubies forced in to dancing belly buttons, in the back of my head rattles the metallic sound of pewter garments. Black smoke billows from the effluent pipes of the 137, coffee machines and motorbikes stir the silt of my mind. Bang, bang, in to the bin falls the residue of another energy giving, energy sapping, semi-skimmed half mocca, with cinnamon not chocolate, decaffeinated, turn around, upside down, any which way you fuckin want it, Latte.
Amongst this harmonious melody, the rhythm of pneumatic drills and the dulcet tones of black people singing songs, I came across Maximilius. He said gooday to me almost like there's a sir straight after it. He was in to product design. Came from Munich. Seemed like a good guy, you know, like a good guy. Savvy too; knocked a couple of rollies off me then came out with some line about not spending too much money on tobacco! Max pulled out of his pocket one of those mobile phone ear pieces that all the business folk and over fifties cab drivers wear these days. I told him I really dislike those things. He said something about seeing them as useable art. Whatever that means? Product design speak. We spoke superficially about superficialities, people being placed in categories, clothes, money, cars, jobs. He told me I looked like an artist. I had had enough of Max.

Leaving the product design speak behind me I walked to the National. Sweat runs pure and salty from the horse's brow as bodies faint in terror. Regressional eyes of youth reveal Seraphic female gazes. Already I'm beginning to read the bloody blurbs again, only to immediately regret that there even there. Stay away from those things I say, it's the curse of the blurb, far too spectacular.
Ruined by Romulus I stroll towards the 19th century to see a 'Man at his Bath' by the French painter Gustave Caillebotte. I Like Caillebotte, he makes me laugh and think.
'I will paint a man drying his body after a bath' I can almost hear his joyous bellow resonating in defiance to the classicists, raising his glass in every cafe in Montmartre.
"Sacre coeur!" They will shout.
It's a rather ugly figure and the waiting boots are a little ragged, yet nonchalant, like relaxing leather. Newly wet footprints stain the floor as if a snapshot of banality, extrapolated from the everyday. This is no 'Gentleman'; such a plain metal bath, such an austere room, such vigour enervate the fate of a walking mans gait.
and on. . .. . .. . .

To Soho. MODEL;
yellow light, black letters.
Man with trilby or hat by other name, smaller I presume, in its sense of connotation, sitting pertly on top that well shaven head and round the corner from Ronnie Scott's place with bebop, hard-bop jazz and seeping essence of improvisation pouring from warm red cushioned walls.
"Are you ok there?"
"Yeah, I think so."
All that smoke filling up my lungs with mucus, good looking Asian thighs and leather boots tapping Old Compton black asphalt beat. Muscle bound hip-hop stars all gaudy coloured basket ball shirts and swinging red ribbons on pumped up training shoes.
Free love, money love, men kissing in the streets of this era. Hip young cats, black leather metal studded punk belts on red BMX and all in black blonde under Capital News canopy, texting with love on her mind. Eskimo Ice rolls on by those worn out men of workers world with wood and plaster round 12 hour a day frayed trouser leg.
Fake snow and cute penguins rolling playfully in first floor window above Patisserie Valerie where all those gelatinous red pastries, strawberry cream pies, folded chocolate slabs of Epicurean delight, waiting for live white curves. Possibly the worst painting I ever saw just floating by; anonymous street vendor arms. Rolling metal cages clang by the forty something with red, gold lined photo album, like the ones Gran keeps all her memories in, and crutches, along the path of fading winter light. Green tweed country jackets adorn aristocratic nose of rural dirt and Polish real estate. Work songs, spirituals, call and response. Seething eyes running down barmaids cross improvised haze bop.

The froth blows in to the wind but it's six minutes for the Charing + and seeing some lady perched tight on the edge of my bench makes me feel more inclined to position my rear firmly across the wooden slats, back hard against the wall. There's just no time, room or proclivity for sitting pertly on the edge; back straight with confident intention oozing through my buttocks, actually making the seat more comfortable.
Feeling ready to take it on today I think of Orwell and head for the north. On to the National Express for eight hours, through grey Birmingham with small silver circles I saw in a magazine one time masquerading as futuristic architecture. Wigan with memories of Orwell, looking for the Wigan Pier that's not a pier at all, just a sign by the side of a barge canal of what once was. 'THIS IS THE SITE OF WIGAN PIER'. Remembering lines of stoic pride and the back breaking posture of women scrubbing clothes. Straight lines of terraced houses, bleak lines to the roof, Jim Morrison in my ears.
Forced through the tunnel wind begins to flicker the pages of my book as I rue the discomfort of my seat; longing for black tunnel silence. Feel a presence of asphyxia, I can endure for only a short while. Each new link in the chain brings with it the anticipation of a new face, soon to be ignored by the capricious fancies of my uncontrollable pen.
The man standing at the front of my coach shakes his leg rapidly as I catch the eyes of a forty-something Japanese-American female woman; a green-blue milky haze. I can see myself watching her. I start to merge with the scene of which I am recording, creating, playing unawares.
I get to thinking about how much work is actually created in these moments, caught in flux and feeling the reverberations of influence and improvisation. Letting yourself be, for a moment, only to become aware again of that recurring , looming space which exists at the bottom of every page. Lines become increasingly incoherent, words slipping upon the ink stained callous of old worn paper. Lost in a frenzy of glazed eyes and nervous abandon.
People on a seat nearby recite anecdotes; a Father diagnosed with multiple brain tumours.
"Never had a day off sick in his life!"
The conversation moves dully on to fate; I went to sleep at this point.

As the nakedness of daylight reveals itself to my sullied feet, I mistake the rejected shape of an old oil rag for a dead fox. Why do I think of dead foxes before six a.m? Tis the predatory nature of the Polis eye. I find comfort in the recurring pattern of my letters, in reverse. When the new born energy of early mornings endless possibility seems already dampened, repressed somehow, by futile human complexities. I sense the ease of detachment, working its way loose from the grip of carnal talons.
I'm tucked up tight in the corner of this cafe. Through the window my eyes dance to the pedestrian melody of rogue plastic sheets, PVC and leather. The frame of my world is currently 4feet tall and 1 foot wide. With one table and two seats directly in front of me, but on the street, the other side of my window. People seem reluctant to sit there, I presume because I'll be looking directly at them. Just as I think this a lady comes along with a bag full of newly bought shirts, for her husband I presume. One white with blue stripes, one red with yellow checks and a third which I cannot remember the colour of because she only stopped for about thirty seconds and I only used about ten of them to observe the shirts. I think the third one may have been a pale shade of blue.
Below the menu board which frames the right hand edge of my world today there lies a small gap, between the top of the window ledge and the bottom of the board. Through this gap of approximately ten centimeters I jot the rhythmic shins of men, women, children and the like. Try to work out from a short flash of colour, twitch of a calf or the roll of a small shopping trolley wheel. Even the occasional stamp of an anonymous gentlemans walking stick. A picture. I do rather enjoy being a manikin in a shop window.