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Writings

White Rabbit

My waking day is topsy-turvy. By this time, 6.27 am precisely, I’ve been up for over five and half hours. This isn’t a bragging thing, I’m not trying to impress, just explain. That being so by the afternoon I am dog-tired. So having a booking at work for 5.30 floors me. It is all wrong. My body, my soul does not want to go out of that door. I do it. It is my living. But it sends me awry. Supper is later and I am in bed way after my usual time and then I lie there, like I did last night, wide-awake and staring. I woke again at 10.30 had a pee and tried to get back to sleep. It took what seemed like hours. Just enjoy lying in the warmth, I told myself, sleep isn’t important. But I want to go. Too much going on my head. Too much.

It wasn’t a victory. It isn’t. I derive no pleasure or exultation from forcing the issue. What now? Will we speak again?

I knew I slept for I remember fragments of dream. I had found what I thought was a mouse in a food cupboard. I wanted to just leave it, couldn’t face it but I persevered telling myself that I could put it in the food recycling box. However, when I came to pull it out it was in fact a white rabbit (it was it’s nose that I’d seen). A white rabbit in a white paper bag. I yanked it from the bag. It was enormous. A great, fat, plush, pink-eared rabbit. And perfectly healthy. Then I remembered that I’d known about it all along. But what about it’s food? I hadn’t been feeding it. But it was well, and searching through the cupboard I found lots of food for it. A cat jumped out too. Another fat, well-preserved animal. Yet, it seemed that I already had a cat and it spoke to me on the arrival of these two newcomers. Aw, it said, looking up at me with disdain, what about me? Then a gang of people started to flood into my flat and I worried about leaving the animals to their own devices. Will they eat each other? I was carried along and out with the crowd of people, forgetting my keys and phone in the process. Did I lock up? What of the animals? Then I was in an underground car park trying to call him without a phone. The rest is lost.

The online dream dictionaries all regard white rabbits as good omens, symbols of luck. I’m due some. Yes please. And this moon apparently is a Virgo moon. Nice one.

She is a beauty. She lit my way this morning. Almost full. Full tomorrow I think. The end of chapter apparently. Yes, it is.

I wish her love. Always.

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Writings

Turtle neck

He was a big man and nervous. My buddy told me to wear a turtle neck, he said, thinking it would make me look more academic. His discomfort and nerves were palpable. Can you do something silly for me? he asked afterwards. Of course, I said. Take a picture of me so that I can send it to my buddy. They were hard on him. I felt for him. There is no generosity in Academia, it seems.

Waiting for his piece, I heard a feature on the so-called Syrian ceasefire. It comprised an audio, probably from a phone of a Syrian man in his flat recording the sounds around him. The flat echoed from emptiness, a baby or young child was crying and against his voice, edgy and staccato in this his non-mother tongue played out a salvo of gunfire and bombing. How do they live? I cannot leave my apartment, he was saying, I have nothing in the flat, nothing to feed my daughter. I wanted to reach through the air waves and comfort him, give him some sort of relief. His voice was harrowing to listen to. I cannot imagine such a way of life. He has not asked for it. He is caught up in it. A victim, a man trying to live. It stopped me. It stilled me. How can I make sense of it? How can the knowledge of it make me live better, kinder? I wanted to stop listening yet also to know, to stand in his shoes, for a moment.

How do they live?

It was a beautiful walk this morning. No one was about. There was no wind, no resistance, just a cold calm. The sea lapped and the moon grew full. There are many tangled masses of roots on the beach, great logs of dead trees washed up by the tide. They lie there in the semi-gloom of night like beached whales. Heavy, lumbering sculptures, lying ossified on the sand, too heavy to move.

I walked past a plumbers van caught by an image of a rubber duck and the strapline: bath valves and beautiful bathrooms. Later I passed a waiting taxi, with an ‘x’ missing from it’s lit-up, roof-top sign. A few kids hung around outside the Why Not? Others could be heard shouting and kicking at bins along Bridge Street. Lip Lickin’ Chicken was open but no one was queuing outside. The Perygyl was calm, lit by the moon. No fishing boats illuminated the harbour. All was quiet, all was still.

I wish you peace and quiet, Syrian man. May there be an end to it soon. May your daughter be fed and stillness reign. You have moved me. Your voice in my head will stay.

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Writings

Happiness

We sat on a street bench in sun looking at the empty bowling green, hearing some kids playing tennis on the club courts and talking about happiness. Is it an age thing? He thinks it is. He is content. Happy with the small things. I can see it. It is manifestly true. You make me happy, he says. And shows it in every thing he does. Isn’t that enough? Yes, it should be. And on a certain level it is. I like to serve. And I know that I make his life smooth and rich. I know this. But one a deeper level I recognise that some of my spirit has gone. What is that spirit? It made me sad to talk of it to him. I don’t want to cancel out his contentment, his pleasure by articulating my disease. And yet, I want to get to the bottom of it, to know it. Why? So that I gain something, possibly? Is it to gain a mastery of it? I know I am bleaker than I was. Is it disappointment? I talked about having a smaller outer life, and this is undoubtedly true, and yet, is it? I am still doing so much. And my inner life, my working, my writing and artistic life is more open, richer and deeper than it ever was. It is just the spoils that are not there. It feeds me inside not out. Is that not good, better than before? Is this just about growing up? Accepting what is and what is not possible?

You don’t want to be like her, he says. You’re too intelligent. She is so delighted with the small things. Yes, she is. But I don’t see this as unintelligent. She lives. She is vibrant, full of life. This is good. I like to be around her. Now. Everything delights her. Why not?

Is this just a lack of serotonin? A purely chemical dis-ease. Or the menopause, or SAD or just me being morbid, melancholic? Who knows. Perhaps I should stop fighting it. Accept the greys, the grey tones as part of my spectrum of experience. And let it be. Just be.

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Writings

North Wind

I could hardly hear her when we spoke on Friday. She must’ve been holding the phone too close to her chin for her voice was muffled. I strained to hear her words. It happens often, yet I don’t like to interrupt her, she is so easily spooked, thrown. It appeared that she was still in bed. Not good, I thought, she is an early riser, a morning walker like me. What about Bonnie? I asked, have you been out with her? No, her daughter was home because of half-term and she’d walked her. Good, I said, I’m glad that you are not alone. She went on to explain her symptoms. It sounded like she had pus in her throat. All this infection. She tries to play it down but I could tell she was low. I asked if she was eating. Yes, her daughter had made her something. But I only eat it because there is someone there, she said, adding, if you know what I mean. I do. I do know what you mean, I said. She eats to please her daughter, to ease her worry. The two of them, so closely interwoven. Both clinging, though I suspect it is the daughter that clings tighter. Was it she who suggested she apply for telephone befriending? I want to do something. To make her well. What is it about? A festering. An eating away. Is she unhappy? I would’ve said that what I know of her she is capable of contentment with little. She doesn’t want travel, they have a home, they keep to themselves, she has a few friends, kindly neighbours, but she is scared, low. I’m taking some herbal remedies, she said. No antibiotics. I understand her reluctance. They seem such a crude cure. What can I say? Thank you for phoning, she says, it’s nice to have a chat.

What does it do? What do I do? It’s like the residency, I cannot make a material difference, I can only sit and bear witness. Is it enough?

The moon was yellow this morning. Over half now, it is growing. I watched it sink into the sea. A great cheese. It cast little light, just a spilling of yellow on the water. No lit fishing boats this morning. Just a smattering of students in various stages of undress. Room lights were on around the town. A figure stood at a top flat window looking down on me before closing the window against the night. In the basement flat on Llanbadarn Road three students lounged on the black leather sofa staring at the TV. The gritter lorry sped past a fine, constant spray of salt spilling from its rear.

A simple day. Sewing, sit in the sun, Telegraph crossword then sleep. It will do, for now, for today.

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Writings

Fizzing

I felt something like joy yesterday. It’s been a long time. The greyness, I have to confess has assailed me. Even the usually blessed Aurum has made no difference. It was but a short interval, however, for my back is as rigid as ever today. Thoughts. Just thoughts. Tiny things, inconsequential things that enter my head and take root. At least I know them now. They are familiar. My familiars. So joy. Yes. Yesterday. What was it? Should I deconstruct what it was? Will that help to secure it again?

We went out for the day, well half a day. Once I’d done my chores, written and done yoga, it was the mid-morning. But that was OK. And it was, for the sun shone. The hills were made hazy by it. Look at the hills, he kept saying as we undulated towards them. Softened, they took on tones of pinks and pale oranges. So hopeful. So promising. It’s on it’s way, he said.

When we got there the lounge was empty. Our favourite lounge. The adult only lounge. Someone had finished the jigsaw and had left it, no doubt proud as punch, for everyone to see. The adjoining lounge was busier for they have the sun in there. We were happy for our quiet and ordered tea. A big pot, he stipulated. A gigantic pot. No stinting, this has to last.

I had too much. It fills my tummy and raises my spirits. Tea is the new cocaine. Lapsang Souchong. Oh, you want milk, said the waiter. Where you from, I can’t place the accent? he asked of him. I’ve spent a lot of time in Dudley, he replied, smiling, warming to us and itching to linger. It gets stronger when I meet people from the Midlands, he said. Yes. He had a small beard and a pager clipped to his belt.

The tea made me fizz. Not sure you want it, the waiter had said earlier, coming to us with the box of teabags prior to making it. It says smoky, he said putting on his glasses and reading the box. Yes, I said, I want it. It is a rare taste, better with real leaves. They used to do real leaves but clearly tea bags are simpler. The pots are still metal though. Small mercies, eh? I love the taste, the smoke, though a slight nausea can come on. Too much but I was feeling better and wanted it to last. And the joy? Well, it was sitting out.

I’m not going out there, he said, it’s freezing. In the end he suggested it. Ten minutes, he said. It was glorious. The sun on my face. Joy. Joy is the sun on my face. A man came to near where we were sitting and lit up. Let’s go, he said. I don’t want other people. His partner joined him but they soon left. Was it his scowls? So delightfully anti-social.

I walked behind a man carrying a plastic carrier bag at 3.10 am. He had no coat, just a white shirt and his ankles were bare. He walked sharply. He must’ve been cold, it was minus 3 at least. The air hurt my face. Nearing the bandstand he threw something in the bin and then, walking up to one of the handrails that lead down to the beach hooked the bag onto it. Then he just walked off. What was in the bag? Why had he left it and for whom? I continued to follow him. He walked up to one of the bouncers at the Pier Pressure nightclub. What time does it close? he asked. Everyone out in twenty minutes, he replied.

The festive lights hanging from the ceiling in the breakfast room of the Shoreline B&B were flashing, red, yellow, green and orange. An impromptu disco in that cold dark air. Down by the harbour the large fishing boats were back, lit white and stark. And the Samways truck too, its engine cold. From port to plate in 24 hours.

The moon was a half when I woke. The mornings grown lighter. It’s coming, he said. It’s coming.

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Writings

Generators

They are renovating the building where his Dad used to work. They’ve been doing it for a year or so now. Yesterday I noticed that the scaffolding had been taken down. There was a long pick-up truck parked outside with some of the scaffolding poles piled up inside. It’s engine was running. There was no one inside. It was 3.00 am. Then further down the Prom there was a car, its windows steamed up and engine running too. This morning, it was a van, down by the harbour. And walking past the Old College, the Old Col as he calls it, I heard the generator outside. It’s a kind of chugging hum. A thrumming, a throbbing. The fishing boat in the harbour, lit up and ready to sail, had a different kind of engine noise. I love it. It makes me feel safe. I tried to understand why as I walked past it. It’s a low hum, slightly irregular, like a relaxed heartbeat. It’s a waiting sound, a patient, no-hurry, kind of rumble. Lovely. Just lovely. A truck waited for the catch, but it’s generator was off. I also love the sound of my feet on the wooden slats of the Perygyl. We call it that, it’s really a jetty. Perygyl means danger in Welsh. There is a sign at the start of it warning of slipping. When wet it is slippy, the bruise on my hip testified to that. I am cautious now. I don’t walk it when it rains. The sound is also warm, homely. The wood gives a little under my feet. Soft, yielding. A gentle echo of a noise, the water lapping underneath. No wind this morning. No pushing into a force.

I need to let go of it now. I’ve had enough. I am at a loss what to do. She is rigid, immovable. So be it. I will wait till wisdom or a way forward comes. Meanwhile I shall just click delete.

We are off to Aberdovey for the morning. A cup of tea, a crossword and a sit and stare. It’s been too much.

Yes. There is power in non-action. As there is in forgiveness. And I can forgive her. And I will, in time.

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Writings

Tables

Yet more dreams of tables. A round one this time, in a restaurant and encircled with strangers, men and women in suits. They do not smile at my arrival. Do I say something? Do I whisper my reluctance to join them? For join them I must. Young women in business attire. My cousin is sitting next to me. He is playing some sort of golf game. I ask about his son, is he really living in Barbados now? Then I begin to play the same game. It involves pushing this tiny pea-size ball through gaps and holes while keeping it in a 2D frame. Rather like a hand-held pin-ball machine. I become absolutely entranced by it. I am doing it better than my cousin. I am calm, in control.

Did I say that I looked up dream meanings and that tables were supposed to be about conferences and family discussions?

I have had enough of thinking about it. Having those conversations with her in my head. She is a good person, I know this. But we are so different. I do not understand her, try as I might. Is it important to understand? Is compassion, a willingness to stand in her shoes, bear witness to her life, enough? I cannot know. I flail. I have flailed about. My vanity got in the way. I thought I could bring reason, sense, calmness to the table. I could not. I couldn’t even get to the table. I wanted to make it all right for every body. But mostly for myself. I want to be at peace with them all, the way that I wasn’t with her. Could never be, for she wasn’t a peaceful person. She didn’t engender peace. But it is gone. A different country.

Everything gets shaken up. I am rattled by it. It impacts my work, my way of seeing things. It sucks the little joy that there is these days.

I stood on the shelf and stuck my head out of the skylight. That was joy, for that moment, I smelt freedom, like a dog’s first nose-full of air after a night of being kennel-cooped. Delicious. Morning air with the sun on my face. Yes. Joy. I can still feel it. I closed my eyes and let the sun seep through my skin. And then later, he’d said yes, we went to our seat, in front of the sea and in the sun. The first time this year. I was still agitated, a back full of her. But I closed my eyes and let the sun soak through me. Fifteen minutes of sitting, the cars rolling by and him beside me.

When I woke this morning the flat had still remembered the sun’s warmth.

I will write today. I want to sew but balls need to be kept moving. All of them. And I want to complete my book this year. The first draft at least. It’s unfinished-ness weighs on me. I want to know that I can do it. Form it, hone it. I am trawling through, trying to instil some sort of order. Order the chaos. Is that not what I try to do all the time? An impossible task.

Flickering lights. The one in the hallway across from us, the bulb downstairs as we come in the front door and a neighbours tree wrapped round with Xmas lights. All flickering. Not clear. About to go black. To go out. I often dream my torch doesn’t come on. What am I not seeing? Show me how to be kind, to weigh my words, to know what I am really saying. She knew.

I’ll play, the student was shouting, his words slurring, his gestures loose. I’ll play. I’ll play ball.

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Writings

Yielding (105)

It was a kind of warm-up exercise. I think they got us to try and do it during my teacher training, or it could’ve been as far back as my the Theatre Design degree. I cannot remember. Anyway, it involved letting oneself fall. Letting oneself go limp and dropping knowing that someone would catch you. Essentially it was about falling backwards, not rigidly, but softly, in the belief that you would be caught. Trusting. Trusting that you would be caught. I found it supremely difficult. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself go and trust that someone would be there. And yet, I longed to do it. To soften, to trust, to yield. I love it when someone takes my head in their hands during a massage. I love the feel of hands around my skull and letting my neck let go of all that burden of thought. So heavy.

Yielding. It’s so simple. Just let go. Just let it happen. Stop trying to make it happen, to influence, to bully life into going your way. Simple. Just stop. Let be what will be. Let be. So wise, so simple and so impossible. We are encouraged to go for it, to take charge of our lives, be warriors. And I am sick of it. My knowing is small. My knowing is nothing. I know nothing. I KNOW NOTHING. Not a thing. How can I know what is right? What if there isn’t a right? Or a wrong? Just being. Just being. And letting be. Ah, yes, of course there are all those arguments about war, about self-defence, about protecting the weak, the vulnerable, the innocent. Of course. But essentially isn’t it about promoting peace? Inside. Inside first. To let go is a potent decision. It may not appear to be, but it is. It is charged. Alive. Just to stop. To stop all this pushing.

So much fear. I listened to her talk on the radio about the ancient Greeks going off to consult the Delphic Oracle. What should we do? What should we be? What is going to happen? Give us hope. Hope is what they wanted, needed. To be saved. To be saved from the not knowing. And yet, we don’t know. We know nothing. All is guesswork. She had her tarot cards read. The Justice card came up, and she seemed pleased. I like the tarot. I like the symbolism, the magic of them. But I have stopped reading them. It is enough. They seem to churn up more fear rather than lessen it. We are not meant to know. Our state is to be in the dark. To act from within that darkness. Deep within it at times. To engender a peace within that then manifests without. And to trust. That is all we can do. Oracles, tarots cannot decide our way. For life will come regardless. Life will come with its shocks and changes.

What do I want from her? I want to reach her. To find a warmth between us. I want us to be at peace with each other. I do not understand her. We are so different. In my head I accuse her of bullying, and yet, am I any different? I send out a prayer to let me reach her. If it is to be. Then so be it.

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Writings

Sewing Machine

I offered to help. I wanted to help, to do something practical. To give my time. I like the notion of mending, of making do. Is it the puritan in me, my prudent self? I struggle with excess, I always have, and yet I do love beautiful things, elegant things, the best that life has to offer. A conundrum.

She’s too long for her age. Model-material. Too long for her 0-3 months baby grows, her toes reach to the end. So I offered to see what I could do. Add an insert to lengthen them perhaps or cut off the feet. I wanted to help. I wanted to do something for her. And then he brought home a packet of five. I was only expecting three at the most. Where would I find the time? It made me anxious. My breath coming quicker, as it is doing now thinking of it. And they were so tiny to manage, to manipulate. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? But I had promised, though I wasn’t sure, never am, whether she wanted to me to do it or not. Nevertheless, I set to it, stressed that it would be taking me away from my work. My real work. But isn’t this work? he asked. What is work? It’s important, he said. It’s for her, for both of them. I managed two and sent them off. She sent a message a couple of days later. She liked them, seemed to appreciate the gesture. Especially the blue, she wrote, she’s going to love them. And then I worrit over whether I should’ve bought some special ribbon. I just wanted to solve the problem, the colours were secondary. Is it good enough? Will it ever be good enough?

The other stress point is that I decided it would be quicker to use my sewing machine. I hadn’t used in years, not since making the paper work. I used to have an old 1950s Bernina, a great lumpen thing but perfect for tiny stitches. We knew each other well enough. But it went and repairing it was not worth it, I was told. So this is a new one. You know, white plastic and not so sturdy. But it does. And I had it serviced recently with the idea that I might start making my own clothes? When, exactly? And bake scones. Nice idea, he says, but when exactly? Back to the machine. So I got it out. Would I remember how to thread it, how to fill the spool? Panic. But I did it. I did it. It worked fine. I relaxed. He came in half way through. That’s nice, he said. It’s so nice to see you at your machine again. Like the old days. What is that about? Seeing me at work. It’s more than that. It’s the sewing thing, the fixed-thing (pronouncing the ed – that ever fix-ed mark) steady, calm, making. It is therapeutic. It is part of our life together, him watching me work. Hearing me work. And I’m glad.

I heard them before I saw them. A group of kids chanting at 3.15 am just down from North Road. The were ahead of me up the hill towards Consti. Four or was it five of them? Five, six, seven, eight, they were singing, then one, two, three, four. One of the lads was waving a plastic bag in the air while he chanted. The girls, of which there were two, wore shorts and sweat tops around their hips. They stopped halfway up the hill and I walked past. One of the girls had a t-shirt on with the words ‘get naked’ written on the back. ‘Scuse me, she called out to me, have you got a lighter? She had a slight burr of a Scottish accent. Sorry, I said. No worries, said one of the boys. There were more kids outside the Why Not? club, younger than usual. One girl, a large, big-hipped girl had on a short ra-ra skirt and a t-shirt with a picture of a gremlin on the front and the word ‘STITCH’ above it.

The light was strange as I walked out. It wasn’t the usual pitch. It was yellowy like smog. The air was damp, misty. I didn’t use my torch, I didn’t need to. From the sea line an oystercatcher called out, a piping, high call.

I woke from a dream in which I was showing a stranger round my mother’s house. There were lots of different levels, and the rooms were dark and all of them were filled with tables. Empty tables that took up all the space. This is where we eat our lunch, and this is where we eat our dinner, I heard myself saying. Then we went up to the top of the house and out into the garden. I had to crawl on my belly across sticky, man-made gooey stuff to get to the grass and out into the sunlight.

Shall I apply? I can not judge what is best these days. My instincts are awry. I took a remedy this morning. It promises gold and calm. I wait.

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Writings

Casse-pieds

It’s one of his. A top, a black top with casse pieds written on it in white that he bought from agnes b. in Oxford years ago. He would have it. As he would have the black leather coat we saw in that market in Amsterdam. He hasn’t worn it for ages so I thought I might. I’ve washed it in readiness but I don’t know now, not now I know what casse pieds means. It should be hyphenated. Casse-pieds. Something to do with feet, that much I did know. French always sounds and indeed looks beautiful. What did I think it meant? Something positive, up beat. No. Casse means broken. Broken feet. Put them together and it means boring, a drag, a pain in the ass. Will I still wear it? Possibly.

No rain again this morning. Still so pitch black though. Driving North yesterday morning towards Ruthin we watched the morning come. I love that blue sky. A mellow, yet deep blue that slowly lightens as dawn breaks. The world is still in shadow but there is life, a promise of light. Not that dulled, coating of black that is the early, early hours. I came upon a couple talking in the street. He was standing at her front door. Had they just met? Was this a date? He stood on the pavement, she was in her doorway. I observed his body language. He stood some way away, his hands in his pockets. She was talking. She was animated, And it took like…., she was saying. I walked past the 24 hour garage and saw the smoking woman with the plastic bag coming out. This is clearly where she does her shopping but at 3.30 am? Her bag was full and there was the usual light cigarette between her fingers. Earlier, down by the harbour I’d walked down the ramp, shining my torch to light my path and had come up a figure emerging from the gloom. It gave me a start. My torch caught a glint of a row of buttons. An old army coat, headphones and long, lank hair. Was it a man or woman? I couldn’t tell. The house on St David’s Road where the woman who comes into work to do paper reviews lives was lit up. At least the front porch was. The door glass is stained and bejewelled, it’s window orange in the blackness. A police van drove up to the Pier Pressure night club and deposited an officer on the ground. He was wearing a short sleeved shirt and smiled as he jumped down. Trouble? Behind Alexandra Halls a male student got out of a taxi and a girl got out after him. He took her hand and they walked a little down the hill to his door. He opened it and stood aside ushering her in. A gallant gesture that seemed old-fashioned, a little overblown. Is this a first date? Are they first-time lovers. She walked awkwardly in her cheap shoes with their cumbersome, clumping heels. They weren’t beautiful, weren’t special but to each other perhaps they are.

Its the white page, or in this case screen that scares me. Trying to find something out of nothing. A nothing. And to make it alive, potent, worthwhile. The gallery was busy. Two big men in fleeced jackets wandered around. It was a while till I realised who they were. Guards. They were there to guard the silver. I liked the work. It is quiet, peaceful and simple, un-egotistical.

I think about it all the time. The rage of her grief, how am I to manage it? I have enough trouble regulating my own. But I do believe in talking, in ironing out through talk. It has to be done. Let me be kind. Let me be wise. Let it resolve itself for the best. The best for all.