Archive for the ‘feelings’ Category
I’m checking into hospital on Monday 11th Feb for another bout of neurosurgery (round 4) so all my psychic energy will be focussed on that.
And if you were to ask how I felt about this, I would reply:
Vexed, displeased, irked and gutted
Fed-up and put-upon,
Hemmed in by events,
Squeezed by fate
A bit like this picture in fact
When I was young I greatly admired the poem When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats, the middle verse of which I quote:
How many loved your glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
Now I’m getting to be quite old myself and well, it has more meaning for me and I still like it.
Polly is five, like me. I’m five too.
Polly is my friend.
We’re playing on the beach
A game with little stones and shells in the sand
Drawing a house for us to live in when we’re big.
Sometimes a wave comes in and takes the house away.
So we build it again: the shells are the roof and walls and the stones are the windows and the door.
Another wave comes up over the wet sand and drags our little house back down with it.
I kiss Polly.
Later as mum is putting me to bed she reads me a story … and the prince and princess got married and lived happily ever after.
And I’m going to marry Polly I whisper as I drift into warm sleep.
She stood at the kitchen sink, staring out at the back garden with unseeing eyes; she automatically folded and refolded the damp cloth before eventually hanging it up in its usual place on the oven-rail. Angie, her friend and neighbour, was sitting at the kitchen table, smoking nervously and biting her nails. Neither women spoke. The situation was just too sad, too tragic – the only thing one could say about the accident was that Robbie hadn’t suffered much and people did say that after the funeral, clasping the cliché and hoping that it would comfort her. Angie broke the silence:
– How are the children bearing up, Pol? Here, sit down and have a glass of wine; they’ve all gone now and your sister-in-law is with the two kids. You’ve got to slow down, you haven’t stopped all day … don’t beat yourself up about all this, it’s not your fault you know.
– Chloe is being very adult about it all but poor little Josh doesn’t really understand what’s going on. I should be feeling grief or anger or something but I don’t feel anything, just numb. You do realize that we were going to separate, don’t you? The papers didn’t mention that, did they? Only the Other Woman.
Polly closed her eyes; most of the papers had run the story, the broad-sheets with a discreet paragraph on page two: PROMINENT MERCHANT BANKER IN CAR CRASH or SIR ROBERT MACKENSIE IN FATAL ACCIDENT, but the tabloids went to town on the front page WHO WAS BANKER’S BIRD or CRASH MYSTERY WOMAN!
– Look Pol the funeral’s over, the guests have all gone and you’ve given Immaculada and Magda the rest of the weekend off. Everything went as well as could be expected and now you’ve just got to try and relax …
(The front door bell goes).
– I wonder who that is; I thought all the Press had gone, oh of course Magda’s not here, I’ll go.
I hadn’t exactly forgotten Polly, far from it but we’d drifted apart in our teens. Her family moved away to a more expensive part of the city and she went to a posh boarding-school while I slogged on at the local comprehensive, and so we never saw each other again.
I heard about her from to time to time. After university she drifted from job to job before writing a best-selling cook-book, so I couldn’t avoid seeing her glamorous face on the cover – in fact I bought a copy in Waterstones.
(The recipes were not really to my taste, being a fussy reworking of traditional dishes in the Nouvelle Cuisine style).
Marriage to a highly successful business man put her completely out of my reach. The years went by and I pursued rather unenthusiastically my career as a teacher, eventually becoming the assistant headmaster of a school in the suburbs. I married another teacher but it didn’t work out and after about a year we parted, amicably enough.
There was no passion in my life.
I was loveless, childless and middle-aged.
Thus it was until last week when I read in the newspapers all about the death in a car crash of Polly’s husband. The effect on me was surprising. I was inordinately stirred and moved with empathy for my childhood friend. After brooding about it for several days, I decided to travel by the underground to her Chelsea address which was splashed all over the papers. The imposing house was in a discreet street just off the King’s Road. I loitered outside her door, dithering and wondering if she was there and what on earth I would say to her. I noticed some press photographers on the side of the road and beat a retreat with beating heart and eventually returned crestfallen to my home in south London. That was yesterday.
Now today I’ve come back again and plucking my courage, I climb up the steps and firmly press the bell. I hear steps crossing the hall (probably a maid, I think, or one her children) and the door swings open – it’s her. A neat stylish woman (but with the story of the last months written across her beautiful face) is standing there looking at me enquiringly:
– Please excuse this intrusion on your grief, Lady Mackensie. I’m sure that you don’t recognize me but we used play together when we were children living in Hastings …
– I’m sorry I can’t quite place you … oh yes of course I remember, we used to play on the beach together?
– Yes, I’m glad you’ve remembered; it makes it less embarrassing for me.
– Won’t you come in for drink, we’re in the kitchen.
– No, I won’t bother you any further now, but maybe we could go out some time next week or something?
– Yes OK, I’d like that.
Polly returns to the kitchen.
– Who on earth was that?
– Oh just a ghost from the past; we used to build sand-castles together when we were kids. We agreed to go out for a drink, sometime next week.
– Surely you’re not going!
– Why not. It’ll take my mind off all documents I’ve got to sign; besides he looked rather attractive in a pathetic helpless sort of way. There’s only one problem, though.
– What’s that?
– I can’t remember his name!
I fell in love with my own language
When I was in my mid-thirties
You know how it is
First I noticed it
Then I felt drawn to it
Lastly I fell for it
Hook, line and sinker.
Those old tribesmen
Round their fires at night
Little dreamt that their
Mode of communication
Would journey to the stars
English is on a roll
Sibilant and sinuous
Fed by the dual rivers of
Romance and Germanic
Lyrical fused with bluntness
Softness with violence
Probes the four quarters
Of the spinning world
And as a bonus
It’s the idiom of rock and roll
Yes, English really rocks
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
There are lots of odd and surreal things about this place which lead me to think I have already arrived in that twilight zone between dream and reality.
Take the case of people tapping their head significantly (but medically dismissively) and jerking their chins towards some of the poor souls who get up from their places while a meal is still in progress and start to meander in slow motion between the tables as though exploring a maze to which they have forgotten the way out.
Logically we are facing a scenario whereby one half of the oldsters are tapping their heads significantly and jerking their chins towards the other half.
(Ironically there is only person here about whom they could validly tap their heads significantly and that person is me, with my recurring brain tumours, the fourth of which I’m about to have surgically removed any time now).
Tap tap they should go
We are all just
Minnows in the shallows
I wish I had a Silvia Plath
Mournfully sings Ryan Adams
On his best-selling album Gold.
I know exactly how he feels.
I too wish I had a Silvia Plath
We too would drink Martinis
Very dry – three parts gin
And drink them
In front of a portrait of
Antonio Benedetto Carpano
The inventor of vermouth
And discuss her art and sullen craft
And how she became a legend
Into triumphant and terrible words
And why she described Ariel
As a blood-jet.
And I’m sure she would agree
To me paying tribute to her
With her last prescient
And perfect poem:
The woman is perfected.
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.
Breaks my concentration
My brush jerks
Sour clashing colours
Stab into the heart
Staggering loops down
Smear the clouds
Obscuring my notions
I slump at the margin
Of the brown river
Swirling and turgid
Tethered to scruples
I gaze back up-stream
Whence I came
Blue clear waters
Sparkling in the sun
I contemplate the spoiled image
That’s not what I meant
Not what I meant at all
That’s for the bin
That damned shout
And yet after that
the sunset taken from the terrace
that very evening