Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alain Robbe-Grillet reads Richard Scarry to his child bride.

Of the town, it is possible to see five buildings. Although some of them are attached directly to each other, they have the appearance of separate structures. Dominating the view is a building labeled Town Hall. It is the highest structure, although there is a smaller building that appears to be nearly as high but just because it is situated further up a small hill. A trick of perspective.

The Town Hall is a red-ish color that may be the result of paint, though it will seem later that it is probably some sort of stucco. On the left side it is seen to be a clock tower. Entrance to the tower is through a blue door recessed into the building at the top of four steps. Surrounding the doorway is a white border with a decorative lintel at the top. This border continues along the base of the clock tower but is absent from the rest of the building. To the right of the door is a small, narrow window with an arched top that is divided into six panes vertically and two horizontally.

Up the right side of the tower run 33 white stones, arranged so that they form a pattern. There are no doubt the same number on the left side but at the base it is obscured by a tree. On the right, starting from the bottom, there is first one stone that extends some distance into the red paint or stucco-like material, then one that extends half as much as the one below it, then another that mimics the first and so on. Probably the stones that extend less far onto the face of the tower that is visible extend further onto the side of the tower that is not visible, and the stones that extend more on the face extend less on the side, thus forming an alternating pattern that runs down the corners of the tower and unites its sides. Of the 33 white stones, 17 (starting at the bottom) extend more leftwards onto the face of the tower and 16 apparently extend more onto the invisible right side of the tower. Because these stones seem to be set in a pattern similar to what might be seen in brickwork, it is provisionally assumed that the clock tower is, in fact, made of stone.

One third of the way up the tower is a large single paned window that reveals what is presumably the mayor's office. Certainly the formal hat on the hat rack, visible behind the desk that dominates the interior as seen from this angle, is suggestive of some ceremonial function. The hat is emblazoned with an image of a sun. There are only a few papers on the desk and no chair is visible.

Further up the tower is a large sign that says Town Hall and above that a half timbered cupola. The front of the cupola is divided into three sections by a clock that sits at the center, jutting out slightly from the body of the tower and from the cupola. On the left and on the right of the clock, the cupola has two horizontal wooden bands and three vertical ones. The vertical ones form what looks like a V with a line down its center, or possibly an M if one was to include the corners of the cupola.

The clock's face and its surround are green. It has an inner and outer ring within which the numerals sit, and on both sides its hands extend an almost equal distance from the center. In fact, they appear to form an x, an effect which is only somewhat marred by the arrows which are used to indicate the precise position of the hands. The hour hand has a large arrow that is between the numeral 7 and the numeral 8 on the clock's face. It appears that this arrow would only sightly extend over the numerals themselves when it has moved on another twenty minutes or so, but it might be enough to obscure the very top of the six or the seven. It is unlikely that it would make any of the numerals unreadable, and even if it did slightly obscure the six or the seven, it would be clear from the position of the arrow itself what time was meant to be indicated.

The minute hand by contrast extends well into the ring of numerals and its tip, which could be a smaller arrow but could also be some other shape (it is not easy to tell), will clearly obscure any of the numerals it indicates. At the moment it is between the four and the five – slightly closer to the four, but not by very much. When it reaches the five, it will not be possible to read which number it is indicating, but the fact that it is obscuring the numeral between four and six is no doubt considered to be sufficient to suggest that it is pointing to the five. Likewise, it is possible to imagine that recently, when it was pointing directly at the four and thus making it unrecognizable as a numeral, an observer would automatically correct for this by noting the numeral three above it and the numeral five below.

Below the clock is a decorative, triangular structure that may be made of wood or stone – it is difficult to tell. Above, the clock is topped by its own wooden triangular roof that extends from the front of the cupola, the interior of which is colored the same red as the body of the tower. Here, however, rather than the suspicion of a stucco-like material, a wooden construction is suggested by the adjacent cupola roof and the half timbered construction of the cupola itself.

The cupola is toppled by a peaked wooden roof from which is flying a small red flag decorated with an image of the sun. Interestingly, visible just to the right of this tower, though behind it on a side street, is a building with a sign saying Hotel Sun. It has an ornate metal sign jutting out over the street that contains a sign very similar to the one on the flag flown above the clock tower. TShis hotel also flies a flag, but it is blue and contains only an image of an acorn.

The clock tower sits at an intersection between a main artery and a small, one way street. It appears to be one way because the small car sitting at the intersection fills the entire roadway, and because there is a sign that is a red circle with a horizontal white bar in it facing out on to the main road. The car that is waiting at the intersection is actually sitting under a small archway that allows the smaller street to pass through part of the Town Hall.

This small narrow building connects two towers – the clock tower and a smaller one to its right. The archway through it is not situated at its center but at its extreme left, hard up against the walls of the clock tower. To the right of the archway is room for a small news stand whose canopy juts out from the building and provides some small bit of cover from the rain for the vendor but not, to judge from appearances, for any customers who might stop at it on their way from one tower to the other. Above the news stand, again not centered but slightly to the left of center, is a small circular window divided into four wedge shaped panes of glass.

Since the archway in this small building (the one through which a car is at this moment driving) extends nearly to its roof, it is hard to imagine that there is a passageway that runs through it and connects the two towers so that one could move between them without the need for exiting onto the street and passing by the news stand. From all indications, this small structure, that looks more like a covered bridge than anything else, is also too narrow to contain much in the way of usable space. Perhaps this is why the news stand canopy juts out into the street as it does.

While the clock tower has vertical sides, the other tower it is connected to has sides that are wider at the base and narrower at the top, culminating in a circular room topped by a cone shaped wooden cupola. Though smaller than the clock tower, this one contains two large windows – a square one in the tower itself and a rectangular one in the circular room at its top. The square window is symmetrically placed directly over the doorway at the tower's base, but the rectangular one is offset slightly to the left, giving any occupants of the room a better view of the small street that runs through the connecting building and also of the news stand. The door at the base of this tower is not inset as is the one in the clock tower but it does have the same decorative lintel. The sides of the tower are not decorated in any way and the entire structure is the same brick-red stucco color of the town hall.

There is a small blue globe mounted over the door in this second tower with the word police clearly visible in black letters. Oddly, the lettering faces out directly into the street where it might be expected that fewer people would be able to see it, rather than facing on to the sidewalk as an aid to pedestrians. In any case, the size of the lettering makes it clear that the word police can only occur once on the globe. This globe is suspended from a curved metal bracket that extends out from the wall of the building directly over the doorway's decorative lintel.

Directly above this globe, and as high above the bracket as the bracket is above the lintel, is a rectangular sign that says Detective Agency. This sign sits just below the large window, through which one can glimpse a table on which sits a microscope and what appears to be the imprint of a shoe on a piece of paper. To the right of the window, exactly half way up it is a sign in the form of a large magnifying glass with an eye in the center of the lens. This eye gives the impression of looking up the street past the news stand, the small side street, and the clock tower.

Above this sign is another, not directly above but slightly to the left – a large pocket watch suspended from a hook jutting out from the circular room at the top of the tower. Both this watch and the magnifying glass are of a yellow color that suggests a metallic composition, but it is equally probable, or in fact more likely, that they are made of wood painted to look like metal. At the level of this large, possibly wooden watch, the words Watch Repairs are painted directly on to the circular room at the top of the tower.

Through the window at the top of this smaller tower it is possible to see part of a table on which are scattered what must be, under the circumstances, watch parts. Certainly there are two watches hanging on the wall behind the table. These two watches appear to have no faces, but it is not possible to tell if that is because they are being fixed or merely because the distance from which the watches are seen is too great to distinguish any markings that would indicate a watch face or hands.

Atop this smaller tower is a pennant, blue, with a crescent moon in yellow. At the base of the tower, on the sidewalk, is a motorcycle which is probably connected with the police station – it has two shoes hanging from the radio aerial at its back.

Written directly on the page, clearly not intended to be mistaken for a sign on any of the buildings visible on the page, just below the level of the clock tower's flag, are the words

This is Busytown.
My, what a nice town!

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