Table Apple Penny

posted Friday, 14 November 2008

Table Apple Penny – the three words were written carefully on three luggage-type labels, one fixed to a table, the second with some pecariousness to a green apple, the other with a hole in it surrounding an old penny. The rest of the objects in the room were presumably unlabelled, but it never goes without saying. The penny was on the labelled table with a label separate from the table’s own label that was poked in turn between two of its extendable wooden leaves. The apple was on the man’s head – balanced without obvious fixing other than the careful balance itself, the apple’s label sellotaped to the side – if anything like an apple has sides at all on which to sellotape anything. The unlabelled man sat in an unlabelled armchair on an unlabelled carpet that in its own terms was supported by the supposedly wooden floor beneath it. The TV was unlabelled – except, just at this moment, it was broadcasting a televised picture of a label that read ‘label’ and there was an unlabelled woman on the floor in front of it watching as if enthralled by an interesting programme, perhaps expecting a video of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues to replace the label of a label. “Johnny’s in the basement…” The man had suddenly spoken or sung, the apple falling from his head with a dump to the carpet as he moved his head. The tableau of the room and occupants was frozen or fixed in time, as if history had come to a halt at the precise moment of the apple’s falling. An oil painting on the wall depicting a man in an armchair and woman squatting on the floor in front of a TV suddenly crashed to the floor, bouncing off the skirting-board. With each word a label of itself, History had begun again. A war had outbroken somewhere else for no particular obvious reason other than perhaps politics and greed. A rhinoceros floated past the room’s window – on a scooter? Or skates? More as if on an antique penny-farthing judging by the rhinocerine height. No possible label or labels to explain the symbolism. Everything needed a pungent mystery. If one looks back to the top of this very unlabelled tract, one will notice that it was not necessary that the table’s label said ‘table’, not necessary that the penny’s said ‘penny, or that the apple’s said ‘apple’. They had possibly been mixed up. And the woman, lost in a labelless or mis-labelled world, broke her teeth as she crunched down hard on the edge of the table. If one looked carefully at the top of the inside back of her frock, she was labelled Eve. The Eve of Destruction.



written as a speed-writing exercise last night at the Clacton Writers Group.


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