Friday 28 April 2017

A House

(This house isn't mine; it's one of Seven Answers).

The house which was most important to me as a child is the house I still live in.  It is ramshackle and not well built, but it is my one and only real home. I am the fourth generation of my family to live here.  The bungalow was featured in the Ideal Home exhibition of 1927.  However, recently a surveyor suggested that the best thing to do with it was to knock it down!

I didn't knock it down but instead replaced the roof, windows and doors and covered the attic with insulation.  Soon I will paint the walls inside and out and give it anything else it needs.

On a warm summer's evening I walk through the wildflower lawn in my garden towards my house and think of the beginning of the film Howard's End.  Of course I should mention the book first, but it is the image of the actress which I recall, walking around her house, her long dress sweeping the grass.  Both the character and actress's names escape me and don't seem very relevant since I become the character when I was the sequence.  Her feelings for Howard's End are my feelings for my house.

Thursday 27 April 2017

A House

My aunt and uncle's house was a great place to visit when I was a boy.  For a start it was three storey, and with a loft conversion too - it felt like a maze.  Loads of stairs to run up and down and rooms to explore.  It was always warm and full of people and animals and the smell of cookery, and noise.  My uncle collected jukeboxes, slot machines, BorgWarner cars and flintlock pistols.  There were big black and white 1950s posters and old adverts and rockabilly paraphernalia.  If I asked for a whisky and lemonade at the age of twelve I got a pint.  They had a black cat called Martha and a revolving line-up of other cats who would stay for a couple of years, sleeping on the old towels on top of the boiler, before moving on.  Chaotic, but in a loving sort of way.  I thought it was great.

An Experience

I lost my lovely auburn hair when I was 33 years old.  Most of it fell out when I was out shopping with my young daughter.  This made me feel inferior to other women, which led to self-loathing.  36 years later I still have these feelings.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

A Dream

am leading a group of sixty or so people across a grassy plain.  I don't recognise any one of them, but seem to know them nonetheless, like one knows neighbours or people living in the same part of town.  It's spring and there's a mighty wind blowing and everybody is in a festive mood.  We are carrying a sort of maypole, a tall, slender tree-trunk adorned with little flags of different colours, to the crest of a low hill.  There we proceed to plant the pole, some people pushing and holding up the trunk, others pulling on ropes tied around its tips.  I am in the latter group, and we are chanting as the pole goes up.  When it does, there is great cheer and I wake with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Monday 24 April 2017

A Crime

[...] School playground friendship had developed into post-school pub friendship and weekend warehouse and club-night outings.  A particular friend I'd become close to had, with another [person] I didn't know so well, decided to capitalise on the weekend environments and [begun] to deal drugs, mainly ecstasy pills and cannabis.  I had no moral problem with this, everybody seemed to be taking drugs at the time and I had a cheap supply myself.

We travelled around as three a lot, most weekends driving into London to a regular club-night or an impromptu warehouse party, the location of which was communicated by verbal social networks.  On occasions we went to a club which was located next to a dual carriageway between London and Southend.  It was a somewhat mythical place of me in as much as I could never sight the building during daylight, whenever I drove along the route, which I did from time to time.

One particular night in this particular club I was again with my two friends who throughout the evening were going about their business.  I had not [got] - nor really wanted to [get] involved, though I was envious of the month-long holiday in Barbados they had coming up.  [...]

It was whilst in the throws of my hedonism that one of my friends announced a problem he had.  Choosing to wear sweat pants that evening - a fashion of the period I'm proud to say I didn't engage with- he lamented that he had no pocket in which to hold his bag of stock.

'No problem,' I said and offered myself as custodian of the drug sack.

My task was to dispense the merchandise to my friend at point of sale.  Events were going to plan when through the mass of bodies I was confronted by two men [...] 15 to 20 years [...] older than those in the club; they didn't fit.  One with a light beard looked me in the eyes and held out his hand, palm upwards, meaning for me to give him something.  I froze, my mind made computations faster than a silicon chip processor - police - undercover drug squad - me carrying Class A drugs in vast quantities - big crack-down and example sentencing - 20 years imprisonment - I'd ruin my life.

His cold expression broke into a smile, he patted me on the shoulder.  'Have a good night,' he said as he walked by me.

I don't remember much more after that.  The relief, the effects of the pills I'd taken.  I did pass the stock back to my friend, who I don't think even witnessed the event or if he did did not share my experience, maybe he knew the two.

I slowed down after that, things were getting out of control with my friends' activities - threats were being made via go-betweens and an incident involving a gun at another warehouse party told me it was time to distance myself from them a little.  The period of this culture was ending for me anyway. It had become dull and repetitive.  I longed for evenings back in town pubs where you could have conversations.

It still scares me, that memory of a few seconds.

Friday 21 April 2017

A Memory

(This isn't my memory; it's one of Seven Answers).

I have a very strong memory of being five or six, at Christmas time.  We lived in a big, old townhouse, three floors high with massive staircases and creaky wood everywhere.  At Christmas we'd have a huge Christmas tree in the hall, covered in multicoloured lights, little carriages (like old fashioned horse carriages) with lights inside.  In the morning, when it was still dark, Dad and I would creep downstairs, crawl under the tree and turn the lights on.  I don't know why it was the two of us, as we have a big family, but in all the excitement and clamour of Christmas it seemed a really precious, almost sacred time, just the two of us in the cold, dark winter morning.

Thursday 13 April 2017

A Fear

Deepest fear, and it's a frequent one, is losing someone close to me.  I think it all stems from when my father died when I was 14 - we first heard about it over the phone.  I was at home with my sister (Mum was away with her lover) and the phone rang.  I remember it was dark so it must have been early evening.  My sister said, 'If it's Dad, don't tell him I'm here.'  But it wasn't Dad.  It was his lady friend to tell us the news that she'd found him.  I had answered the phone to her but she wouldn't tell me why she was ringing - she just asked if Mum was there but as she wasn't she asked to speak to my sister, who then became hysterical.  I imagined the worst, which was of course confirmed.

Now the phone ringing sometimes brings on that heavy-hearted feeling, almost like it's ringing with urgency to bring bad news.  It's worse if it's at a strange time, like late in the evening or very early.  I have to tell myself it's irrational and not to be such a pessimist.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

An Encounter

There was a girl I liked, but I wasn't sure if she liked me.  We'd seen each other a few times, but I wasn't quite sure what was going on - I was never very good at reading signals.  One thing we'd talked about was my aversion to fruit skin, and hairy fruit skins, like peaches and apricots, in particular - to such a degree that I cannot touch them (or even think about them) without the hairs on my arms standing on end.  One evening she knocked on the door of my apartment.  I opened it, and she was standing there with a peach.  She'd brought it so that she could peel it for me, so that I could eat a peach.  As I recall, the peach itself was not very good, but the message conveyed by it was.

Monday 10 April 2017

A House

An old orchard at the end of the garden.  A lumpy lawn where we set up tents in the summer, stayed up all night too scared to sleep and watching the stars creep across the black sky.  The silhouette of the house crouched behind us.  The back door; peeling paint.  The fly-strip hanging over the kitchen counter.  The buzz of bluebottles.  The frying pan always on the stove, encrusted with grease.  The brown teapot, always in use.  The uncarpeted stairs.  The oilcloth on the table.  The rack of pipes on the mantelpiece.  The collected works of Winston Churchill.

Thursday 6 April 2017

An Experience

(This isn't my experience: like all my other recent posts it's one of Seven Answers).

Just recently I was talking to a lady who works with autistic adults and the more we talked the more I realised that my experience mirrored a lot of things she was saying about autistic behaviour.  Since that day I have been thinking about autism a lot (a little obsessively) and been researching it on the Internet and talking to people.  I was scared but I told my mum about it and she said that it was hard to work me out because as a child I was so closed off.  I am in the middle of a pivotal experience at the moment because things are falling into place.  I make sense to myself a bit more.  Friends that I have tentatively told have not laughed or told me I am being dramatic or a hypochondriac, as I feared they might, but have also had moments of clarity about me.  I am learning to forgive myself a little for certain behaviour.  Am able to know that when I check with people, 'Is this all right?' 'Do I look OK?' it is not out of low self-esteem but that I just don't know.  I am still learning the rules.  I'm also in awe of those people who still love me in spite of my 'little ways' and can be at peace with those who just couldn't get me.  Someone who I was very fond of and who did like me recently parted ways with me, their final words to me were, 'If you were a man you would be just weird.'  I think I know what he means and that is his choice but my heart is absolutely filled with love for this who can overlook a person's shabby, dark and broken bits and see the spark inside that brings the excitement and joy out of another person.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

A Dream

am on Champix (trying to give up smoking) and it makes dreams all the more vivid.  I've also just split up with my partner of six years so I'm in emotional turmoil.  My dreams at the moment are mad - it's like entering a multimedia experience zone with images and ideas flashing in stroboscope fashion at me all the time.

Last night was a case in point.  I'm at home (or rather the sinks about which I'm talking are).  Don't know why I'm there.  The sink in my bathroom is filling up with dark brown (very dirty water), it passes the brim and it keeps filling, stacking itself up freely above the sink (it's not pouring over the edge).  It's about to reach the level of my bathroom mirror and I'm panicking - I've yellow rubber gloves on.  I stretch over the tower of water and plunge my hands in it - down to the plug hole.  The water seeps inside my gloves.  I pull the plug and the water goes down leaving dirt and debris all over my arms and my sink.

Then I'm in the kitchen - not a porcelain sink - it's stainless steel.  The same happens.

And then, for some reason - I've picked up a pint glass in the kitchen and filled it with water to drink. I drink it but it tastes weird.  I look back at the glass I filled with water and it's full of very dirty baby new potatoes floating in the water.

A Crime

Shop-lifting, dangerous driving, drug taking - you name it!

Monday 3 April 2017

A Memory

(This isn't my memory; it's one of Seven Answers).

I am being held on my mother's hip while we wave goodbye to some friends of theirs.  We are standing outside our house watching as they get into their car within the walled courtyard.  The sun is shining and we are smiling and waving but I know that beyond the wall to the left as you walk along towards the chickens in the farmyard the path dips down and there it is always cold and feels wrong.  The dog doesn't like walking past and always hesitates before running through and up the slope beyond.  When my mother carries me that way I can feel her unease as we pass through and relief as we move beyond.  The awareness of this is there as I wave in the sunshine and the security of my mother's arms.

A Fear

It's not so much a deep fear as a strangling sensation that clamps at something in me at odd moments.  It's almost trite in its universality, but when it does strike it envelopes me fully, icily.  The creepiness, the tingling from the base of my neck to a place I can only describe as my soul, is enough to paralyse me for an eternally dreadful second.  It's different to everyday fear, the fight or flight response, for it has only an obvious relationship to death.  Death is of course part of it, but it's something more.  More profound, infinitely more disturbing: the existential awareness that I will one day cease to exist.