Odlomak 16

(Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano)

He had not played one, and Hugh could play almost any kind of guitar, for four or five years, and his numerous instruments declined with his books in basements or attics in London or Paris, in Wardour Street night clubs or behind the bar of the Marquis of Granby or the old Astoria in Greek Street, long since become a convent and his bill still unpaid there, in pawnshops in Tithebarn Street or the Tottenham Court Road, where he imagined them as waiting for a time with all their sounds and echoes for his heavy step, and then, little by little, as they gathered dust, and each successive string broke, giving up hope, each string a hawser to the fading memory of their friend, snapping off, the highest pitched string always first, snapping with sharp gun- like reports, or curious agonised whines, or provocative nocturnal meows, like a nightmare in the soul of George Frederic Watts, till there was nothing but the blank untumultuous face of the songless lyre itself, soundless cave for spiders and steamflies, and delicate fretted neck, just as each breaking string had severed Hugh himself pang by pang from his youth, while the past remained, a tortured shape, dark and palpable and accusing. Or the guitars would have been stolen many times by now, or resold, repawned— inherited by some other master perhaps, as if each were some great thought or doctrine. These sentiments, he was almost diverted to think, were possibly more suited to some exiled dying Segovia than to a mere ex- hot- guitarist. But Hugh, if he could not play quite like Django Reinhardt or Eddie Lang on the one hand or, God help him, Frank Crumit on the other, could not help remembering either that he had once enjoyed the reputation of a tremendous talent. It was in an odd sense spurious, this reputation, like so much else about him, his greatest hits having been made with a tenor guitar tuned as a ukelele and played virtually as a percussion instrument. Yet that in this bizarre manner he had become the magician of commotions mistakable for anything from the Scotch Express to elephants trampling in moonlight, an old Parlophone rhythm classic (entitled, tersely, Juggernaut) testified to this day. At all events, he thought, his guitar had probably been the least fake thing about him. And fake or not one had certainly been behind most of the major decisions of his life. For it was due to a guitar he’d become a journalist, it was due to a guitar he had become a song- writer, it was largely owing to a guitar even— and Hugh felt himself suffused by a slow burning flush of shame— that he had first gone to sea.

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