I'm reading the diaries and letters of Mikhail Bulgavok "Manuscript’s Don’t Burn" at the moment and as ever with such biographical material find myself strangely more interested in the peripheral rather than the central character. Bulgavok is egocentric certainly, almost a monster, but even he feels remorse about the way he treated his first wife, Tatyana Nikolayevna. I feel I want to know more about her than him.
Little is told about her story except that Bulgakov divorced her after their move to Moscow as it 'just suited him' to be able to say he was a bachelor. He told her that nothing would change, but this turned out to be less than true. Despite continuing to live together immediately following the divorce within a year he had abandoned her to fend for herself while he moved in with his second wife who was more in keeping with his new theatrical and literary friends. He eventually suffered such a guilty conscience that just before his death he tried to find her to ask forgiveness, only to discover she was uncontactable somewhere in Siberia.
In her photograph, (her resemblance to Amanda Peet is quite marked) she is looking off camera in a clearly posed portrait, yet there is something very still and calm about the composition. Her eyes are limpid and she is almost but not quite half smiling. I wonder when the picture was taken and what she was thinking, what became of her, did she even survive . . .
In the end I didn't do any tidying up at all this weekend but instead (predictably) lay on the sofa most of Saturday and indulged in 6½ solid bout of Halo. I met some of the kids for drinks at 7.30 and was very very jumpy. Sudden noises or movement in my peripheral vision kept startling me. Later we ate Japanese at Yoisho on Goodge Street and had some more late late drinks at a hotel bar in Fitzrovia. I spent slightly over £100. Shit.