the no normal

The Margate Void

Perhaps it is true that it is only ever fear of death which propels us to do anything. Margate became a mustness for me, but not a mustness in the way in which most people use the term. Most people do not deal in mustnesses but in musts – they are compelled to do specific things and are concerned in a very fundamental way with the thing in itself. I must, they say to themselves, go to Marrakech; I must marry Tom; I must buy and move in to that house. If I had those trousers, they say, I’d be happy. If I had that –

I however only ever have chaoses which I move towards, or rather, which I cannot any longer prevent myself from moving towards. I have broad and nebulous energies. I must be away, I say; I must love; I must find a room of my own. Each of which disguise the fuller truths: I must not be here; I must not hate; I can no longer stand the invasion.

Change happens not because I begin to pursue, but because I cease to fight.

I have not met many people in Margate but through my work, I have met some. These people often ask me why I came.

Uh, I say.

They ask how it is.

Uh, I say.

The wind whips around the corner when I leave the flat and I look at the shelter, long and thin as the cane handle of an umbrella, as the jaunty step of a dandy, staid and sober as a headmaster’s tie. On Margate Sands, he wrote, I can connect nothing with nothing. At night, Emin’s flamingo pink message. I never stopped loving you.

               Eliot and Emin, at either end of the bay.

After they ask why I came, they say, So many cool women move alone to Margate!

               I feel good that they think I’m a cool woman. But I’m not sure that I am. And I’m not sure they comprehend just how very alone I wish to be.

               There is zero, and there is absolute zero.

What do you do, they ask – of course they do.

               I don’t know, is what I think.

               No: does it count, is what I think.

               Uh, is what I say.

People expect you to know so many things. All of these things add up to form one great vat of knowing. I don’t know what it is people expect you to know.

Is writing an answer to any of their questions? Does writing count? I don’t know if writing counts. Writing is more like food and water; writing is heart and lungs and liver; writing is necessary to life but it is not life; writing is not the life, it is the living.

I don’t suppose I’ve really answered the question have I? Ah, I sigh – giving in – You know: the sea, the sand, reasons of money, the exciting art scene. None of these are not true.