Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rock Concert (and Other Animals)

The inside of Signs Cottage is about to have a white lick of paint. Not so much a facelift as a cheap, damage-limitation makeover.  For this reason, and others which I am not yet at liberty to disclose, serious de-cluttering is happening here.  Or not.  Because how do you throw out a perfectly good stone with a cluster of smaller stones glued onto it that someone once called a Rock Concert and gave you as a present, and it sat on the window ledge above the kitchen sink of wherever you were living for forty years or so?  It is has neither use nor beauty, but the stones have eyes that look at you and remind you of the person you once were and still (in a sense) are, even if you have forgotten the name of the person who gave it to you (I think she was called Lindy, and she moved to Australia). 

And what to do with the toy dog your son brought back from some local fairground, where he either won it at a stall or was given it as a consolation prize?  Such a cheap, synthetic apology of a thing, it ought never to have been brought into existence in the first place.  But exist it does, with a kind of transcendent optimism in its bearing and expression that declares its complete freedom from all pragmatic considerations or aesthetic sensibilities – and it too has eyes and looks at me.  It is hard to throw away anything with eyes. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easier to lose people than these inanimate Things.  With people you can do it casually, haphazardly, gradually.  You don’t have to put them into a black plastic bin bag, (and if that is what you do with people then obviously you are not the kind of person I want to have dealings with).  You can say, I’ll call you, let’s meet up some time, and then just let it not happen.  You can even say, I don’t love you any more, and know that whoever it is will still be out there somewhere, living their lives.  If I throw these things away they will simply cease to be because they depend on me for their existence. 

I know what you are thinking:  they are just things, and as such have no feelings.  In which case, you have never read The Velveteen Rabbit, who was made real by virtue of human love. It’s a children’s story, but no less true for that.  Perhaps it would be overstating things to say that I love these two things, but we are (it seems) in relationship.  And this complicates things.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Stormy Weather

We are probably in deep trouble.  Things have been happening.  I have noticed this before and kept quiet, but now everyone can see: many parts of Albion are under water, we are storm-wrecked and even respectable politicians are speaking about climate change and how when the dice are loaded it is time to acknowledge that “something is going on.”  It has been suggested to me (by someone I happen to hold in high regard) that if I were to begin blogging again it might in some way help to forestall the worst-case end-of scenario.  So that’s why I’m back here, doing my bit to save the world.  I can’t make any promises, but we’ll see how things shape up.

Blogging is like sex.  I can say this with some authority, having been away from it (the blog, I mean) for some months.  The more you do, the more you want to, and if you stop doing it you begin to lose the urge to the point where blog-celibacy becomes the new normal and if there isn’t a pressing reason to do it then why bother?  When I began this lark there was no Facebook or Twitter on which to fritter one’s time and attention.  There was just this talking into mysterious cyberspace where people may or may not be looking and listening and there was the sense that one was doing something a bit weird because one’s friends and familiars didn’t do it and the general thinking seemed to be that only perverts and very important people did it.  Then suddenly everyone did and now if you send a poem somewhere they automatically assume you have a website.  We are all promiscuous now. 

I never did come thinking I had anything particular to say – that was for people who wanted to write essays or the big Novel. But I was happy to go with the John Cage method of having nothing to say and saying it.  These days I do have things to say, but I am not saying them because a) there are people who might keel me if I did and b) I have discovered that it is possible to leave things unexpressed and still exist with a kind of equanimity.  Someone very dear to me, a writer whose name I can’t mention even though he is dead now because I might be keeled if I did, came to the end of everything he had to say and stopped writing.  It was the beginning of a long, dark, annihilating end for him, and when I’m on my way out that’s not how I want it to be.  I’m still doing poems and working on the novel, albeit so slowly that no-one would know, but I’m hanging on by the skin. 

I still have M.E. and until they find a cure or a way of addressing the symptoms, dealing with this is a large part of my life’s work and there are many days when all I can reasonably expect of myself is cloud-and-sky-watching from the bed or the adjustable chair in the living room.  It sounds quite nice when set down like this in black and white, but really it isn’t – not when one wants to be doing and writing, and also it isn’t necessarily sky-watching as the Normals might think of it, because one feels very ill.  FYI that is what we call those of you who live without chronic illness: Normals.  Makes us sound a bit special, perhaps, like those in the Harry Potter books who are possessed of magical abilities, as opposed to the Muggles who are just ordinary.  And I suppose we do develop certain faculties.  But we’d trade them in a breath to be a Muggle sans M.E. 

Am I back?  For this moment, it looks that way.  And the storms have died down.