Thursday, August 16, 2007

Story: A Little Bit of Culture

John looked through the open door to see another room of cabinets. "It's boring here," he said. "Do we have to stay?" But Jane was already heading towards the first display.

"It's interesting," she murmered.

"It's a pile of old pot shards, that's what it is." He stared accusingly at a neat display of battered clay fragments, each with a tiny number pinned to the wood next to it. Around him, the room was hushed, only the slightest hint of noise venturing through the great shuttered windows high in the whitewashed walls. Ceiling fans spun slowly, whispering the lazy air through the room. Even the air was bored, thought John.

"We could be down on the beach," he said.

Jane looked up at him. "We've spent two days on the beach with Sue and the boys. We've spent another two by the pool – or at least I have. You spent two days perched on a stool by the pool bar. We wasted a day on that island tour with that awful Rep whose only interest was pointing out where all the nightclubs were. Oh, yes, and where to buy the best handbags and jewellery. You agreed we'd look around the town today!"

"I thought it would just be an hour or so. I didn't expect to be dragged round every poxy museum we came across!"

Jane screwed her eyes into That Look: "You're here now. Why don't you soak up some culture to go alongside the rum and cokes you've been throwing down your throat all week."

"How can I soak up culture? They don't even tell you what your looking at?"

"You're looking at pots, John. Pots made three thousand years ago and buried in graves. It makes me wonder about how people did funerals differently in those days. You don't need labels, John. You need a bit of wonder and imagination."

"But you can't even touch things here! Why can't you do this back home, visit a museum or something?"

"John Stewey, if you continue to make a fuss, then I promise you you'll be wearing that cabinet up your arse for the rest of the week! Every day on this holiday I've done what you've wanted to do; now it's my turn. Pretend you're enjoying yourself now, and in a couple of hours you can be back on your bar stool and we'll both be happy, okay?"

John sighed as Jane turned back to look at some arrow heads. He glanced again at the crockery lined up in their shattered ranks, as broken and bored as he felt. At least he could walk out of the door; these bits of clay were here for the duration. Perhaps the ghosts of their owners turned up at night to look at them – now there was a thought.

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