Sunday, May 13, 2012
I stood by for a good while in the empty lobby, and wandered through the public rooms, which were completely deserted even at the height of the season - if one can speak of a season in Lowestoft - before I happened upon a startled young woman, who after hunting pointlessly through the register on the reception desk, handed me a huge room key attached to a wooden pear. I noticed that she was dressed in the style of the Thirties and that she avoided eye contact; either her gaze remained fixed on the floor or she stared right through me as if I were not there. That evening, I was the sole guest in the huge dining room, and it was the same startled person who took my order and shortly afterwards brought me a fish that had doubtless lain emtombed in the deep-freeze for years. The breadcrumb armor-plating of the fish had been partly singed by the grill, and the prongs of my fork bent on it. Indeed it was so difficult to penetrate what eventually proved to be nothing but an empty shell that my plate was a hideous mess once the operation was over. The tartare sauce that I had to squeeze out of a plastic sachet was turned grey by the sooty breadcrumbs, and the fish itself, or what feigned to be fish, lay a sorry wreck among the grass-green peas and the remains of soggy chips that gleamed with fat. I no longer recall how long I sat in that dining room with its gaudy wallpaper before the nervous young woman, who evidently did all the work in the establishment single-handed, scurried out from the thickening shadows in the background to clear the table. Sebald, Rings of Saturn [for thickening shadows cf. “luminous congelation of shadow" in Proust]