Saturday, June 28, 2008

Regeneration

I’ve been thinking about the ‘intimate other’ that you build a relationship with when writing regularly in notebooks, as one frequently does if one is a writing person, even if one has no clear idea about the what or the why of putting down words on paper. Sometimes I imagine my intimate other as a ghostly version of me, but at other times it is I who am the ghost and she is the one imagining me, living the life.

Increasingly, I have become aware of this brooding presence at other times also – alongside me as I crank up each morning, trying to earth myself into my physical body, make a cup of coffee, filling the metal espresso-maker just level with black grounds, slice open a Kiwi fruit, eat a thin oat and apple biscuit; with me as I put my foot down hard on the accelerator on the road to Brighton, trying to get to my Shrink early enough to have five minutes before it’s time to ring the bell, in the car, underneath the huge oak tree where the brown bird hops on the grass and looks at me with one keen eye (it is my bird now, I’ve seen it three times, my tree also, I park under its shade); close by me when I walk into the large, white room where the chairs are always, but never quite, in the same position and I say, It’s like a stage set, the sense that invisible hands have been in between this time and the last and moved the furniture slightly, and he says, yes, the stage is set, and then there is silence. Sometimes I picture her crawling underneath the sofa with the Moroccan scatter cushions and looking at me and him in the white armchairs. Or we switch and it’s me there, and she is the one in the big chair talking or banging the arm of the chair and pulling at her hair while I sit waiting for her to finish whatever it is she has to do so we can go on to the next place, the next activity, which may be to go home and sleep and sleep, or it may be to take the white pills that put two hours of bliss into her muscles so they don’t hurt and then she can walk around a supermarket, buy meat and vegetables, shave the peel from a carrot and finely chop herbs; and she listens out for where I might be, her intimate other who says nothing at all, is quiet as the small brown bird who stands on a thin leg and watches. I am afraid, she says, that I do not have much time left. And then, I feel hopeful
(you are hoping, he says, against hope).
I can, she says, still salvage something. She is saying these things for my benefit, but really I don’t mind the life that we already live. It feels like a life to me; but then, I was never born and living with the fact of death as she is, as one is.

Unless you are The Doctor. Sorry to change tack so suddenly, but I have just resumed this post having watched today’s episode. Is this synchronicity, or what? The Doctor is dying, but even in the throes of death he is regenerating. I think he and I have a lot in common. I’m sorry, but I really do. And so does my intimate other who, at this particular moment, is keeping remarkably quiet.

24 comments:

Kahless said...

I was absolutely gobsmacked myself; didn't see that coming.

Ah, here's to regeneration!(And roll-on next week)

Reading the Signs said...

Yes - I feel I should have been told, though.

nmj said...

I love the idea of the waiting room being a stage set.

Why why why can I not get into Dr Who? - I have not really cared about it since the Daleks and sea devils...

In my head, the Doctor is still Jon Pertwee.

My friends asked me over to watch it last night and I declined.

Am I missing out?

nmj said...

ps. signs - you are in a different time zone, i have lost an hour since coming here!

Reading the Signs said...

NMJ - you see, you see? Mysterious forces at work. Or could it be that I need to do some adjusting in the Blogger Tardis?

Are you missing out? Well on the one hand yes, because for those geeks of us who love it unreservedly it delivers moments of pure pleasure. But on the other hand (and putting on my distance glasses here) there are some episodes that fall well short of the standards we all expect and hope for. Thing is, if you're a fan you don't even mind when it's a bit rubbish. Like being a devoted football supporter, I imagine: my team, win or lose.

Anna MR said...

Hei and hello, everyone, and in particular, Time Lordette Signs (it being your house and all). As I cannot view the latest Dr series, I grind my teeth and sulk and shall talk about the other issues in your post...

I recognise a few things from your shrink thing there - the way the tree and the bird have become yours, for instance, and the desire to have those five minutes before you ring the bell, just for yourself. And what you say to him and, in particular, what happes after his (standard? Do you have this exchange regularly?) reply - the silence. I used to not say stuff to my shrink (or, as a dear friend dubbed people of this profession, my trick cyclist) and would lie down silently and look at her glass cabinet book case thing and sulk and in the end she would say, Long pauses, and it used to infuriate me so badly that, in fact, when I started writing the "Imagined Conversations" thing recently (inspired by you, my hero), she still says "long pauses" which infuriates me possibly even more because now that she's a figment of my own imagination, she should bloody well say what I want her to say, yet she doesn't.

Phew. I shall not apologise for harping on about my own stuff, because we've been to the Land of Sorry and we both know what happens when I alight there. But, you know, to return to what you said, there in your (most thought-provoking) post, the fear and the lack of time and the hoping against hope... I hope you're doing okay Signs, okay? Okay.

That's as eloquent as I can get, really, so hopefully you're feeling touched by grace and stuff. I shall go now and do some kitchen-cleaning, but not before I tell you gnebdrrb is the sound of an avid Dr fan, deprived of the latest series, grinding her teeth.

Mwah and mwoh in your general direction. With a mweh thrown in, for old times' sake.

Reading the Signs said...

Anna of gnebdrrb, if you cannot get the latest Doctor episodes then I will never be able to come and live in Finland, and that's that. Ok, I hadn't been planning to but if I had, that would have put an end to it. But never mind, you and I can still talk:

Fascinating to share Shrink experiences. Well he doesn't say the same thing every time, what he does is kind of provide an echo for whatever it is that I first say. And I never let the silences go on for too long, but if I did I think I'd insist on something more than "long pauses", and I think you should too, even if the conversations are now going on in your head. Go on Anna, have it out with her - being a figment of your imagination is no excuse, she should still be made to deliver.

I am ok as it happens, (mwah for asking) and feel kind of lucky to be going through this process, but one does, you know, go through it. So I imagine there will be a few more Shrink posts before lights out.

More own stuff please, thank you.

trousers said...

This looks to be a fascinating post. When I say it looks to be: I've read it, but my head is a little too distracted by other specific stuff at the moment, alas - but I shall be back to digest it more fully.

trousers said...

Oh, and a word to nmj: one of my very earliest memories - I must have been 2 or 3 years old - is that of being at a great-aunt's house, and watching (Pertwee's) Dr Who. An episode in which, at the close, the Sea-Devils were walking slowly and menacingly out of the sea and on to the beach - and then the music and the credits kicked in.

Where was I? Behind the settee, where else. The current Dr Who? It's not the same, but then it never could be, it seems to me. Not a criticism though, I don't see how they could have made it much better. Sans tv though, I only get to see it once in a while - so I'm surprised/perturbed/excited to hear of the regeneration scenario.

Reading the Signs said...

Trousers, you are most welcome to come back and ingest, digest or just nibble at the edges. And then perhaps you can tell me what I'm talking about because I'm blowed if I myself know but sometimes just saying how things are is good. Well I enjoy myself, at any rate.

I can see I will have to report back after next Saturday's episode so that you and NMJ are kept up to date.

Collin said...

Of course, the regeneration is a red herring, since we know Tennant not's leaving yet. Unless they've somehow tricked us all. It was an amazing episode nevertheless.

witnessing am i said...

The word is sort of cumbersome (and any with a "re" prefix is sort of suspect to begin with), but I do so like "regeneration."

I am not sure I have an "intimate other." Maybe that is my problem. I need to embraced this version of me, but first I have to find him. You are always teaching me so much, Signs, thank you.

cusp said...

Sometime I fantasise that I have a doppelganger who is roaming about still doing my old job, travelling about, running workshops, making art..... I think it's wish fulfillment but maybe there is another Cusp out there who took the other fork in the road and lives on.

As for the Doctor, I'm afraid I'm with NMJ. Friends and the children love it and encourage me to watch but I just cannot sustain interest and since Catherine Tate has been in it ---- though I love her comedy show ---- I cannot take it seriously. I've realised that she cannot really act as such because she has a variety of stock 'voices' and expressions all used in her comedy show and now paraded in Dr Who. I keep expecting her Dr Who character to suddenly break out and tell the Daleks they'ev got a 'f***ing liberty' or ask them if she looks bovvered ;0)

Reading the Signs said...

Collin,, I hope you are right. We'll discover all on Saturday I suppose, but that was a helluva cliffhanger to leave a poor sign-reader with.

David, it does have a nice roll to it. But, thinking about it, I reckon I do like words with the 're' prefix. It make new, no?

I am surprised to hear you say you don't think you have an intimate other - because of how you write, I suppose. Perhaps you do, but you haven't spied him yet. Sometimes they are close, very close indeed, almost part of us. But still, other.

Cusp, the doppelganger: yes, I certainly have one of those. I think mine might be in some parallel universe (some Who-ism going on here perhaps, or could it be a Phillip Pullman influence?).

Why did you say that about Catherine Tate, why? For I suspect there may be a horrible truth to what you say and actually (I whisper this) she does get on my nerves something rotten, but I brush it aside and think of Billie Piper who is perfect for the role and should never have left. But Donna's (Catherine's) grandpa (George Cole) is an absolute star and kind of justifies her presence. Is what I will keep saying to myself. But what you need to understand about this condition is that all normal critical faculties are suspended.

trousers said...

I'm back, but still not ready to ingest: it's not your writing (far from it, I should add), it's just a mental block due to some (non-blogged) issues which are floating around in whatever it is that constitutes my consciousness.

I shall continue to return to this, and am indeed seeing it (maybe) as a bowler sees the batsman and the wicket: something to be tested in respect of different angles and approaches....you get the idea - and I shall get there in the end (I hope).

Minx said...

Please take note that the Dr Who series is just a subversive attempt by the government to keep the masses under control at 7pm on a Saturday night. Not all of us are hiding behind the sofa, you know.

(Robert Carlyle is tipped to take over as the Doc, btw)

Reading the Signs said...

Trouers, I was totally with you until you brought in the cricket terminology. Not that I don't rather like the image of you bowling a comment into my box, but I have even less relationship to cricket than I do to football. Though actually, come to think of it, now that you've brought it to my consciousness in this way I may in future be a touch more interested next time I see a bowler getting ready to throw one. Hope your issues are small ones or good ones.

Minx, you've had me a-googling with this bit of news. Apparently Robert denies it! But well, he would, wouldn't he? It's enough to make one crawl behind the sofa - except there wouldn't be room behind mine.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Changing the subject slightly - I've tagged you to write a short story in six words. The origin of the Meme is Hemingway's famous answer:

For sale, baby shoes, never worn.


xxx


Pants

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Changing the subject slightly - I've tagged you to write a short story in six words. The origin of the Meme is Hemingway's famous answer:

For sale, baby shoes, never worn.


xxx


Pants

Reading the Signs said...

Pants, you doing a meme - whassup? Ok, but these short things are a bugger. I suppose "The cat sat on the mat" isn't much of a tale? Tail, geddit? Har!

cusp said...

Hang on, hang on.

I thought Donna's Grandpa was Bernard Cribbins --- a lovely, lovely man and he of The Wombles and Eric Sykes films and 'Hole in the Ground' and 'Right Said Fred' and 'Gossip Calypso'.... yakka yak yak.

Now you really have confused me. Can the Donna's Grandfather character also morph into other people like e.g. George Cole or Lita Rosa, Alma Cogan or Arthur Haynes. You'll be telling me next that the new Doctor and partner will be Bootsy and Snudge.

Shall I go now ? Have I let on too much about my age and knowledge of obscure light entertainment/comedy from the
1950s and 60s ?

;0)) x

Reading the Signs said...

Ach scheisse, you are right - it is Bernard Cribbins. It was Poesie muttering in my ear distracting me that got me confused. She gets bored with The Doctor because there aren't any monkeys in it.

cusp said...

No it's true...she does have a limited attention span when it comes to things 'non-monkey'.

Mind you did I ever tell you about when she had a small part in a UK 60s B Movie 'Return of the Alien Killer Monkeys' I don't know that much (she can tell you more) but I DO know that she had a small bit part as an Alien Scribe for the Lord of the Aliens. had to wear ridiculous blue point ears and was one of the Lord's love interests whcih involved wearing a very chic, very short metallic green toga affair --- oh and it was all shot on Hampstead Heath and in Balham High Street.

Funny old world isn't it ?

Reading the Signs said...

Cusp, I think perhaps I ought to be cashing in on her obvious potential - could be a nice little earner for me in my old age. Not that I'd want to exploit her but, you know, if you've got it may as well use it. And she's a head-turner, let's not beat about the bush.