I recently made a most remarkable discovery. Sherlock Holmes, had he been with me, would have been proud. If I had told Miss Marple about it later over a cup of tea, she would have patted me on the knee and said, ‘Well done dear.’ Heck, even Horatio Caine, might have taken me aside, raised his glasses squinting into the Florida sun and said, ‘We need people like you on our team,’ before running off to shoot a drug smuggler in the arse.
I’m doing a copywriting contract with a bonkers French company in a dingy 60s office block in west London. The ladies on our floor has one sink, one large blue plastic flower in a dusty vase, one stall and is decorated with shiny blue tiles. Every day last week, as I sat availing myself of the facilities, I stared at two very strange sets of hand prints on the wall in front of me. The sunlight streams in through the window behind me, lighting up the tiles and these smudges can be seen clearly.
For some reason, someone has repeatedly pressed both hands on the wall. They are small hand prints and as this is the ladies, I think it is safe to assume they belong to a woman. Could she have stood up quickly, felt faint and leant on the wall for a moment? But why then would there be a series of hand prints? Or was she slapping the wall over and over in despair? After working there for two weeks I can see that this is not outside the bounds of reality. Each time I leave, wash my hands and return to my desk, amid the shrieks of zut alor! and shouts of ecoute moi! I forget about them.
One evening the Norwegian and I watched Ray Mears and a bunch of San Bushmen following a rhino’s trail through the dusty African bush. They found it helped if they imagined they were the rhino. The next day as I sat, I had a moment of absolute clarity. I imagined I was leaning against the wall. The prints glinting in the dull sunlight, suddenly came to life and I knew exactly how they had got there.
Never mind Usher and his romatic call to make love in de club. The owner of these prints and a willing friend had made love* in the office loos. Nice.