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Chapter 7 – The Idiot

I call this photograph “the idiot”.  No – I know I don’t look like an idiot.  that isn’t the idea.  matter of fact, I can tell you the exact words I was saying when this one was taken.  Want to know what they were?  That there was Max, my – well, I suppose you’d call him a boyfriend, though it was a relationship more honoured in the breach, as they say.  Anyway, you can’t help noticing the coat, right?  And the hands in pockets, I know.  So, Max (that wasn’t his real name which was something German.  It was a bit like during the war.  I think he just thought Max was more mysterious, somehow) – anyway, it was he who had given me the coat.  I’m not sure why.  People used to give me things in those days.  I guess they felt sorry for me.  So I think this was the first time I’d worn it and just at this moment I’m saying:

– Some are born with fur coats, some achieve fur coats…”

I don’t think I got to finish the joke.  I think he finished it for me.  He found me amusing – a lot of men did, back then.  I’m afraid it was a weariness to me.  I know it sounds arrogant, but I needed someone – well, more intelligent.

Yes, fur. I know.  All I can say is, I wouldn’t do it now.  And it was second-hand.  Musquash.  Yes.  Well, it became a great deal more moth-eaten before I’d finished with it, I assure you.  But there I am, dressed to kill, exercising my negative capability, balancing on my tightrope.  That’s where I’ve been since I was eight.

I’ll explain.  I don’t have a photo of this, so close your eyes.  I am four years old, standing in a field, ribbons in my hair.  In front of me a grid of white lines stretches into the distance: I have no idea why.  somewhere in my daydream a whistle blows: I pay it no heed.  When I come to, I notice that the other children are running off into the distance.  All of a sudden it comes over me that I am supposed to run too.  I am supposed to run between the tramlines to the tape at the end.  No, I guess I wasn’t brave enough to see what happened if I didn’t run.  Instead I ran clumsily to the end where the tape lay abandoned on the ground, tried to get the attention of my teachers; failed.  Back in the classroom the others have all been given prized – red and blue balls, which they do not share with me.

Why am I laughing?  Don’t you think it’s funny?  This is the story of my life – and I don’t have a picture of it.  This is the story of my life – and I didn’t even know there was a race.  That’s funny, right?

I know I said eight.  When I was eight we moved house.  Look!  Look at the car there.  No, it wasn’t ours: it belonged to a churchwarden or something.  Oh!  No – I didn’t explain.  OK.

Look at this one.  See the way the church spire cuts a dark slice out of the lawn?  That was our life.  You would move the deckchair further and further as the dark shadow approached, marking the afternoon, putting off the moment of shivering.  That was our life back then; my father flitting bat-like between house and vestry (for some reason he always put his cassock on at home and surplice in the vestry) and the thing that happened when I was eight was that we moved.  At least, that was the start of the thing that happened.  We moved clear across London, from one vicarage to another.  This is us, my father and me (I had begged to be allowed to visit the house before we moved in) and the churchwarden whose car it was, getting ready to negotiate the infamous North Circular road.  I was told I’d be sick and so perversely remained well in spite of the car fumes (even in 1965 there were traffic jams on the North Circular).  Here’s my father talking to the churchwarden:

– There’s our friend again.

– Oh, yes!  That’s the third time.

I pipe up:

– Oh!  Do you know him?

They laugh.

– No, says my father, we just keep overtaking each other.

I mark this as a moment of realisation.   That the word is full of adults and that not all of them know each other.

When we get there the house is cold and dusty with strange attics and a tree stump in the garden which I made my own.  Look, there I am, while they’re taking tea.  I don’t know what I drank.  Yes, I guess I was quite excited by the move.  Things always revolve around you at that age, don’t they?  I had no idea right then of what was going to happen.

None.

Dislocation and other nightmares…

Woke up in the night feeling utterly dislocated – I didn’t know who or where I was.  I had to reconstruct my life mentally.  This seemed to take a while but may only have been seconds.  This kind of thing is happening more and more and is very disturbing, although potentially I suppose quit liberating, as in those moments you can examine a sense of possibility, reconstruct yourself in a different way.  I guess that is what’s going on.  I am aware of the two halves of myself engaged in a war, and of my parent-consciousness despairingly wishing they’d just find a way to get on.

Gemini

My twins fight

like dog and cat

I cannot right

this ship of state

(then I was going to go on and explore putting more and more endings on words ie cat/state/statement etc.  But didn’t get very far with it.)

Still a sense of being very pent-up and unrealised.  I couldn’t remember a thing about yesterday, then when I did, the memories seemed very formalised and alienated, like photographs of an occasion you can’t recall.  It’s as if you weren’t there but have been edited in afterwards.  That’s how I feel about some aspects of my life – that I’ve been edited in.  And really, I’d just prefer to fade out.  Interestingly, I always used to hate taking part in group photographs, group activities, anything in a group, really.  I have had to teach myself this because it has become necessary in order to progress.  Besides, I think it was rather childish on my part, like not wanting to go back to school because 35 years ago I shook the dust from my heels.

Incidentally, going back to school was an object-lesson in the vanities of ego.  People did remember me, but not at all in the way I remember myself.

Mmm.  Not sure what to make of that.  Except that it is pointless to try to make an impression on someone.

Psychotic nightmares

These are fading now.  The latest is a rather vague fantasy about being sent a couple of tickets with back-stage passes.  I imagine Mark and I there, trying desperately not to look awkward and out-of-place, trying hard not to look at *****.  I am very bad at handling these situations – I lack the grace to know my place.  My anger at not being recognised as a genius (which is at least partly my own fault) contends with my desire to make the most of the situation, and I don’t know how to handle it at all.  It comes down to the dislike of being one in a crowd.  Ego again.

Still having one or two episodes where I feel I’m communicating with *****, but in the main, I’m back to earth, though not back to where I was.  I’ll never be back where I was.  And that is a good thing – because I was really stuck.

I have a clearer sense now of life continuing after death, and of people playing roles in your life, and you in theirs.  I think it’s in the Gita but it may be the Bible – something about our enemies not being flesh and blood.  Mark would know.  Anyway, I only ever had one person whom I regarded as an enemy.  Even when  they were out of my life, still the very thought of them and how they had behaved, drove me nearly crazy – and in the end I decided to adopt the Buddhist idea that you never can tell who is a realised soul.  I regarded this person as a realised soul, and said to myself “You are behaving like this in order to teach us all something.”  Then I was at peace, at least in this area.

Have been thinking of late that maybe I need a guru to help me with all this stuff.  So often I feel really out of my depth.  But I don’t think I can cope with a guru in the traditional sense – someone more at a distance, something a bit more democratic, perhaps.  As they say in yoga,

“When the student is ready, the guru appears.”

I expect like me you’re fed up with watching this space so I won’t say that.

Feeling very tired at the moment.  Mark says it’s the time of year.  I think it’s the time of mind.

Have a good day.