The Black Notebook
And when we got back to town we knew that, as Paul remarked, our holiday had not done us much good. Only one person had maintained any sort of self-discipline and that was Willi, who worked steadily a good part of every day with his grammars. Though even he had succumbed a little — to Maryrose. It had been agreed that we should all go back to Mashopi. We went, I think, about two weekends later. This was different from the general holiday — the hotel was empty save for ourselves, the Lattimores and their dog and the Boothbys. We were greeted by the Boothbys with much civility. It was clear that we had been discussed, that our proprietary ways with the hotel were much disapproved of, but that we spent too much money to be discouraged. I don’t remember much of that week-end, or the four or five week-ends which succeeded it — at intervals of some weeks. We did not go down every week-end.
It must have been about six or eight months after our first visit that the crisis, if it can be called a crisis, occurred. It was the last time we went to Mashopi. We were the same people as before: George and Willi and Maryrose and myself; Ted, Paul and Jimmy. Stanley Lett and Johnnie were now part of another group with Mrs Lattimore and her dog and the farmer’s wife. Sometimes Ted joined them, and sat silent, very much out of it, to return shortly afterwards to us, where he sat equally silent, smiling to himself. It was a new smile for him, wry, bitter, and self-judging. Sitting under the gum-trees we would hear Mrs Lattimore’s lazy musical voice from the verandah: ‘Stan-boy, get me a drink? What about a cigarette for me, Stan-boy? Son, come here and talk to me.’ And he called her Mrs Lattimore, but sometimes, forgetting, Myra, at which she would droop her black Irish eyelashes at him. He was about twenty-two or twenty-three; there were twenty years between them, and they very much enjoyed publicly playing the mother-and-son roles, with the sexuality so strong between them that we would look around apprehensively when Mrs Lattimore came near.
Looking back at those week-ends they seem like beads on a string, two big glittering ones to start with, then a succession of small unimportant ones, then another brilliant one to end. But that is just the lazy memory, because as soon as I start to think about the last week-end, I realize that there must have been incidents during the intervening week-ends that led up to it. But I can’t remember, it’s all gone. And I get exasperated, trying to remember — it’s like wrestling with an obstinate other-self who insists on its own kind of privacy. Yet it’s all there in my brain if only I could get at it. I am appalled at how much I didn’t notice, living inside the subjective highly-coloured mist. How do I know that what I ‘remember’ was what was important? What I remember was chosen by Anna, of twenty years ago. I don’t know what this Anna of now would choose. Because the experience with Mother Sugar and the experiments with the notebooks have sharpened my objectivity to the point where — but this kind of observation belongs to the blue notebook, not this one. At any rate, although it seems now that the final week-end exploded into all kinds of dramas without any previous warning, of course this is not possible.