Monday, April 24, 2006

R. I. P. Muriel Spark (1918-2006)

From "The Portobello Road," collected in The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark
I must explain that I departed this life nearly five years ago. But I did not altogether depart this world. There were those odd things still to be done which one’s executors can never do properly. Papers to be looked over, even after the executors have torn them up. . . . Sometimes as occasion arises on a Saturday morning, my friend Kathleen, who is a Catholic, has a Mass said for my soul, and then I am in attendance, as it were, at the church. But most Saturdays I take my delight among the solemn crowds with their aimless purposes, their eternal life not far away, who push past the counters and stalls, who handle, buy, steal, touch, desire and ogle the merchandise. I hear the tinkling tills, I hear the jangle of loose change and tongues and children wanting to hold and have.

That is how I came to be in the Portobello Road that Saturday morning when I saw George and Kathleen. I would not have spoken had I not been inspired to it. Indeed it’s one of the things I can’t do now—to speak out, unless inspired. And most extraordinary, on that morning as I spoke, a degree of visibility set in. I suppose from poor George’s point of view it was like seeing a ghost when he saw me standing by the fruit barrow repeating in so friendly a manner, “Hallo, George!”

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