Portrait

March 17, 2017

Innocence is bendy and translucent. It has long hair and fragile skin.

Innocence is quite a bit slimmer and it smiles rather less like a schoolteacher.

Innocence has lost its schoolteacher, almost completely, at least until it regains its strength.

A small imp, feeling less like – “A walking tank of liquid shit” this evening, compiles a list of the cakes that Sainsburys bake to an acceptable quality.

Shadowed wit, growing like the filaments of a wild forest fungus, skipping – “quick and light”, is slowly creeping, holding the banisters, with care for the form it carries – that carries it.

Teddy and Donny

March 17, 2017

In the waiting room were two women, not actually at the same time but they were together. Both about 5′ 4″ tall, probably around the age of 70, with collar length hair, hairdresser set with coloured blonde patches. Each wore slacks and puffer jackets, one black, one brown and slightly flamboyantly decorated glasses. They spoke in short bursts with black country accents in a gruffness that comes from manual labour and smoking and as I was the only other person waiting, they cast their search for complimentary and reassuring smiles at me.

The first woman was in the waiting room with a rather shaggy fat white poodle called Donny, while her friend was in the other room seeing the vet, she waited. She and Donny were moderately relaxed.

Soon she swapped places with her friend, who was dragged from the wide flung door of the consulting room on a taught lead, by a less fat white poodle, whose coat had been recently clipped. His name was Teddy.

Teddy’s owner had a shorter perm than Donny’s owner and the couple were not so good at waiting, they paced about the room, the woman making exasperated huffs, and soon Teddy joined in, barking with increasing sharpness and volume until his barks were earsplitting.

Donny and his woman eventually emerged and an exchange took place where it became obvious that although the dogs’ official names as given to the vet, were the longer version, in ordinary life the dogs passed as: “Ted” and “Don”.

This raised the question for me of whether the two dogs were actually replacements for the dead husbands of the women.

They all left the surgery car park together in a fairly new, silver Volvo hatchback.

Library

March 15, 2017

Looking at the spire against the cloudless blue of the first day of heat in March,

at the strange broken memorial urn with yellow sunlight streaked around its circles.

Looking for something authentically from my own motivation…

Does such a thing exist for me? Can I separate authentic motivations from motivations involved with or inspired by other people?

If I isolated these images in a film, would I be able to separate my own motivations in choosing, from connections I have with other people?

Does anyone have motivations that are isolated from the influence of other people, or is motivation intrinsically a social process? A process of intersubjective transactions?

Am I suffering from somebody else’s abusive interpretations about me being inauthentic and their association of this with my lack of creativity?

She spoke across the table: “Have you been to London?”

“Yes, we’ve been a few times, have you? Have you been to London?”

She answered: “Only the once when a policeman lifted me up, to see the Trooping of the Colour! But I’ve never been back, not all my life. It’s too expensive!”

Just as I thought about the spire, she came along the graveyard path with her enormous plaid bag, and spoke to me: “It’s a beautiful day!” I nodded yes.

Negative

March 8, 2017

The minutes pass, and through the wind I board the bus and pass the points again, carried behind a woman with a cough.

Slowly through traffic queues – the fading afternoon…

By the time I have the dog in the fields, an hour and a half have passed, and I am making a film in the dusk in negative, making the sky orange and heavy, still thinking about my own faulty actions.

The bare oak trees are white like x-rays of lungs, the dog has her black and white patches reversed and looks not much different except for her tail tip being a black flag instead of a white one.

I make a different sort of  film pointing forwards instead of down, like some white shadowed planet.

Nearly two hours have passed, as I raise the camera up to the branches of the oak, they sing a resounding note, that flux clangs in my brain, my chest and ears;

The film is lost;

And in a moment my fears and punishments echo … as death reverses!

And the oak branches, are black again.

The Ungrown

February 27, 2017

The solid room, solid of my life,
the building home of my belief,
larger and longer
stronger and standing
times four and a quarter my duration.

My fears and my boredoms are kept inside it,
the objects that pass, stay and mount up
things of the world of objects
to which ideas, recollections and misinterpretations attach.

Stone in blocks, Georgian looking west.
A house built by a physician, wealthy
with children and servants.
A lost circular carriageway.
A long ridge house divided into four,
the wealthy end destroyed by its recent owners.

I entered it in someone’s arms,
a baby saw that filthy woodwork
and bare broken plaster, blackened cobwebs
signified a fearful underworld of despair,
I sensed, ragged starving children,
a life where all colours were sooted.

Raining in, caught on the sideboard, bucket.
Later years of roof repairs, damp-proofing,
Hand-made wooden windows – double glazing.
Rebuild of kitchen and the second veranda,
stained glass additions, a false renovation.

Now the water runs under it, the handyman is dead.
The floor that he remade needs remaking again.
The roof he rebuilt sags and cracks run the length of the brick Victorian extension where he downstairs and his father-in-law upstairs, competed in fire blazing, bulging the wall.

The structural engineer said:
“It is built on the rock, it has stood for over 200 years and it’s not going to fall down, though brick onto stone is not surprisingly the cause of the cracks.
If it had been too cracked we could compulsorily purchase.
There is some burden of responsibility for the home owner to support the highways.”

This and an opening up of the ground, down to the foundations, to the lead pipes and the seized Victorian stopcock, deep in the highway.
The moving channel where fast multiples of people follow the same topography, around the narrow bend south to north, north to south, fifty-six years of people in cars and lorries, on foot, pushing prams and pushchairs, black bicycles with baskets and panniers, peddled very slowly by ancient tweed gentlemen and skirted ladies. Upright, smart, red-faced drinkers strut the evening, chapel goers on Sunday, pony gigs, horse carts, scrap, rag and bone, coal, dust carts, vegetable carts, electric milk floats, tip-up trucks carrying stone and sand from the quarries and Roy Wood of Wizard in his black “Rave” Rover, engine and music one jangling fairground lurch, roaring distance, rubber tracks and a Doppler effect echo.

Now there are cars more homogeneous, most are silver and driven by teachers or white van double glazing traders or cable media and prescription drug deliverers.

This traffic will stop tomorrow, when the digging begins, to the root and to the flimsy woman who is my mother skimming and hovering over the bulk of this enormous stone sickening burial mound.

Suspension

February 26, 2017

I am listening,

I listened.

A voice said

The shelves have broken!

I thought it was your voice but it didn’t sound

anything like you.

It was high pitched, sharp and urgent.

I was the most happy

when I was eight.

Every time we saw each other, we automatically

put our near side arms over each other’s shoulders

and joined our outside hands

to make a tank

or didn’t bother with the hands,

just the arms around the shoulders.

In a dream two nights ago,

It was you, not her, who automatically

joined me,

you leant against me,

far too exhausted to speak,

and I carried you everywhere with me.

Shopping Script

February 18, 2017

 

For me each week looks the same, alone with the time that has no humour and gives back no value. A mountain of fabrication, humanity not quite desperate, but near to the end of function. The choreography of saving and losing of money, isles of holding back and of dull passing – and isles of letting go – to hunger or small hope. Somewhere between egg boxes, washing powder and rows of frozen food cabinets, I loose this mammoth acropolis of false light and dim grubbing, inside a greater city with the power to bring forth voices of the dead with epiphany – and the loved, with tears of un-lived life.. I pull myself back to push and lean the miles unmarked, this pathway, this tank of brief optimisms and mounting fear, as anxiety overpowers the weary last drops of spending… stemmed – slammed shut – aborted! The checkouts ahead – this throbbing worst moment, voices can’t help lift, pack or pay, I alone, sometimes heart racing, head swimming, the fear that I may never pass through.

Pattern

February 13, 2017

At 4.30 am my alarm sounded and immediately I went to the phone to wake him up, downstairs, I made him tea and put the packed lunch that she had made for him on the counter top. I phoned him again at 4.45 but no answer, at 4.50 he arrived with two bags of washing. He drank the tea. At 4.55 the phone rang, a pre- recorded female voice said: “Your taxi is outside”. He tipped instant coffee into his travel mug and poured in water from the kettle and milk from the fridge. At 5.00 he picked up his rucksack and gave me a one-armed hug. I bid him a nice day then he left the house. I closed the door and wanted to close the thick curtain across it but feared he may come back if something was wrong or missing so I looked through the blind to see the taxi leave then I closed the curtain, put off the light and went back to bed.

At 8.00 am I heard the phone ringing, I got up and listened to a voice message which was him saying someone needed to research his new phone as it is not working. I arranged for her to do it, leaving the handset by her half sleeping body. I went back to bed. I woke later not knowing the time. I put my jeans on over the trousers I was wearing in bed, two pairs of socks, then enclosed myself in a large hoodie that had once belonged to my eldest son when he was 14, this over the tee shirt and two jumpers I had been wearing for several days without taking them off at all. I also stuffed my feet into my trainers and descended the stairs amidst the two circling cats who wanted their breakfast.

Entering the kitchen, I guessed it might be 11.30 am but the wall clock looked alarmingly like 4 pm, which turned out to be 1.20 pm. Either way, it was much too late but the sun was bright.

Two Playgrounds

January 23, 2017

Two playgrounds, no not the joy of freedom, or of choice. Yes, you could get out, you could climb the limestone wall behind the un-climbable trees and drop six feet into the alley – but what would you do when you landed? Run on your slapped feet, down the road of bare, square, between-the-wars, council houses, following a ball? Then return via the surveilled wooden door in the wall?

When I arrived at the school into the top class of the infants, the Victorian red brick building had two distinct asphalt playgrounds, divided in the middle by a one-storey block of “Lavatories” – “The toilets” (and once my friend had taught me the word) – “The bogs!”. They too were red brick with dark blue rounded capping bricks on the top of the L-shaped entrance walls. Rows of toilet cubicles each with a liver colour painted wooden door, a ten-inch gap along the top and the bottom to let in the light, (and let out the smell). Nevertheless closing the door revealed a dark place of eerie incomprehension in the company of the silent white vitrified porcelain object, and the ghosts of thousands of toilet visits beyond lifetimes of children. Rusty chains hung from a (usually dislocated) iron arm in the top cistern, which one knew was supposed to be pulled, pulled very hard and suddenly, to make it flush following the action of innumerable unknown fading spirit hands. These sort of toilets not only made a terrifying noise with which no child would want to be trapped in the dark – but also released a ghoul or a witch or worse, that would certainly grab you and pull you back down the toilet, so only a mad person or an adult, would risk a fate worse than death, for a flush!
The toilets smelled a lot, a kind of broken down, oddly desiccated atmosphere, where broken handles and iron latches were stuck fast, thick with paint and rust. Some of the toilet pedestals were miniature for very small children, a perverse variation, similar to the feeling of coffins for babies. Those toilet seats that still remained, weren’t shiny plastic, no, they were a sort of black composition where verdigris and eighty years of grime had fused with whatever the original compound had been to make something new, organic, heavy and dull sounding because it’s texture was almost furry, something that had itself begun to cross the river into the dark land of death!

However, the lavatories were very soon demolished, this must have been in the first summer holidays of my time there.
New unisex toilets were fitted for the Infants in their original indoor cloakroom, similarly the Junior Girls (of which I was newly one) had a cloakroom also fitted with half a dozen toilet cubicles – Formica stalls, which carried forward the idea of a gap at the top and at the bottom, to the whole structure! So low were these stalls that even the shortest girl could by standing on the toilet seat, easily lean over into the next cubicle to annoy or leer at it’s occupant, and sometimes a face would appear under the door!
The Junior Boys, received an entirely new build, in a remote part of the school near to the Headmaster’s Office and the part of the playground used as the teachers’ car park where the maroon coloured World War II van that delivered the aluminium containers of School Dinners, would park.
The demolition of the Victorian lavatories meant that the playground was no longer divided between on one side, Girls and Infants and on the other – Boys. This was incredibly dangerous!
To be specific, the Boys’ playground was dangerous and now it was free to spill out across the place where the toilets once stood and damage the other children! Especially me!
My young self, was the sort of person who liked to think and dream, often alone. My reverie consisted of something of a song, a story, a set of amorphous aims, wishes and a strolling sort of dance. My song involved musing about being alone, being happy in the sadness of it with crescendos of a few skips, turns, jumps and attempts to fly. I also engaged in a sort of accompanying semi-conscious study of the interlocking diamond shapes of the towering rusty meshing above the bottom brick wall on the council estate side, meant to catch the balls so they didn’t make off down the hill to the bottom of the valley.
The loss of the lavatory barrier meant that as I looked up at the meshing and through to the flat grey sky beyond, periodically my eyes would be showered with rust by the blast of one of the boys’ footballs as it struck the net above my head.
Furthermore, boys marshalled the stupidity of the teachers and dinner ladies, who believed that wherever a ball might strike was probably an accident and never required a telling off. The rule was that if you got hit by a ball it was because you were in the wrong place. Yes, they knew that when boys squeezed snow until it became ice packed around a piece of school coke, then threw it at somebody’s head, that this act had to be stamped out! But the same boys were legitimate in kicking a wet gravelly football at the head of a smaller non-participating child.
It was not the poorest boys who played football, though there were many poor wiry boys who were very grateful to be included in a game and I am sure on reflection, that they experienced joy and great enthusiasm from running, kicking and boy directed team sport. However, the owners of the balls were the more affluent ones, some ruddy and overfed, with weight enough to really cause harm. I never realised at the time but being a teacher’s child probably made me a target, and being alone made it easy to pick me off.
On my wanderings at the periphery of the playground I sometimes met other lone travelers also in a sort of reverie, the poorest boys from the family who never changed their clothes and only met water in the rain or in the penultimate year when once a week their class went to the swimming baths. They didn’t ever have anything to say: their reverie was different to mine.

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