memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for the ‘therapy’ Category

Between you, me and the gatepost, dear

You might not believe this but I have little better to do after lunch than to come up here to my atélier that I’ve made for myself in the book-museum, which is situated (open-plan) directly above and separated from/by a waist-high parapet to/from the entrance and reception area.

So I’m obliged to concentrate a fraction of my attention in ignoring the mind-bogglingly uninteresting and unwanted information and opinions often expressed in ringing/rasping tones beneath me (gobby cows).

Another smallish part of my brain is occupied with a new sketch/painting;

A while ago I gave up searching for a new style – this isn’t an Art Course after all; so I curve the curves and colour the colours in my usual self-indulgent fashion.

STAGE 1

There was a teacher, I remember, in the school in Lisbon all those years ago, middle-aged, pleasant and with the forceful delivery of a person born and bred in Dublin.

If she had a fault it was that she was frankly a bit of gossip; she would lure one into a corner of the staffroom and start in a loud whisper with the words: between you, me and the gate-post, dear …

STAGE 2

Tomorrow is the 8th birthday of the Home so the Bishop and other nobs are visiting us plebs for lunch (different food, mind you – reminds me irresistibly of the prefects and masters troughing away at The High Table, raised up on a dais in the Refectory at school).

Eight years, eh – between you, me and the gate-post, dear it looks and feels like rather more …

STAGE 3

Between you, me and the gate-post, dear, I sometimes get sick of living in an Old People’s Home and wish I lived in a Young People’s Home instead.

What a commotion down there!

Mouthy mares!

STAGE 4

Back in my room now and I’m watching the dénoument of Amanda’s trial in Italy – what a result!

I think I’ll name the painting after her.

AMANDA ACQUITTED – PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

Karma and painting

How to restore order out of mental chaos and paint a meaningless picture at the same time.

I have a theory that painting symmetrical shapes randomly is both soothing and therapeutic.

First you take a piece of gummed A3 paper and a pencil and then (staying firmly inside your comfort-zone) you play around for about an hour and come up with this:

STAGE 1

The next day you start to colour it in. you are unsure about the colours but are vaguely thinking yellow and green. You use a water-colour wash and by the end of the hour your uncertainty is showing.

STAGE 2

On the following day you decide to deploy the acrilics.

STAGE 3

STAGE 3

And finally after doing the fine brush work and just generally fiddling around with it and tidying it up you consciously decide to stop before you spoil it any further.

You sign it and then pause to give it a name – Asymmetry.

ASYMMETRY / PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

The Municipal Goddess

Starting the day with a swim is highly recommended.

So I enrolled at my local Municipal Baths at Feira. These were modern, strategically located facilities with a 25-metre pool (half-Olympic size) and a circular shallow heated pool for children and for hydro-therapy for the physically-disadvantaged (such as I am now).

I opted for the free regime three times a week during the dead middle-of-the-week morning and started building it into my routine.

I must confess at this point that I am not a very good swimmer.

I was simply never taught how.

When I was at my Prep school the sadistic gym-teacher would herd us 9 year-old, white and shivering boys down to the deep-end of the pool and, one by one, we had to jump in … sauve qui peut … in a water-gulping splashing panic most of us managed make it to the side of the pool which we gripped, gasping for air. (One poor little wretch, doubtless assuming that all was up with him, refused to move his limbs and sank like a stone to bottom of the pool, so that the gym-master had to spoil his fancy track-suit by diving in and fishing him out).

I never learned how to breathe correctly, for example, so I ended up with a limited repertoire of only two strokes – the breast-stroke and the back-stroke. Nevertheless I read somewhere that swimming exercised more muscles of the body then any sport.

So I would slowly churn (or ripple) my solitary furrow along the watery lane towards the future.

Sometimes there was a swimming class for a group of middle-aged women who used to cluster at one end of the pool and exercise the only part of their bodies that didn’t really need it – their mouths.

From time to time a white-skinned girl, a Municipal Goddess, with the wide shoulders and streamlined hips of the professional swimmer would dive in and cover 20 lengths of the pool in an unbelievably short time, cutting through the water efficiently with her lazy powerful strokes and her flashy racing turns. Then she would unhurriedly climb of the pool and stalk gracefully from the hall (leaving us, the doggy-paddle brigade, feeling somewhat rueful and chastened).

THE MUNICIPAL GODDESS

Yes, there’s nothing better than a good swim to start the day.

The Lonely Swimmer

Starting the day with a swim is highly recommended.

So I enrolled at my local Municipal Baths.

These were modern, strategically located facilities with a 25-metre pool (half-Olympic size) and a circular shallow heated pool for children and for hydro-therapy for the physically-disadvantaged (such as I am now).

I opted for the free regime three times a week during the dead middle-of-the-week morning and started to build it into my routine.

I must confess at this point that I am not a very good swimmer.

I was simply never taught how.

When I was at my Prep school the sadistic gym-teacher would herd us 9-year-old white and shivering boys, down to the deep-end of the pool where, one by one, we had to jump in … sauve qui peut … in a water-gulping splashing panic most of us managed make it to the side of the pool which we gripped, gasping for air.

(One poor little wretch, doubtless assuming that all was up with him, refused to move his limbs and sank like a stone to bottom of the pool, so that the gym-master had to spoil his fancy track-suit by diving in and fishing him out).

I never learned how to breathe correctly, for example, so I ended up with a limited repertoire of only two strokes – the breast-stroke and the back-stroke.

Nevertheless I read somewhere that swimming exercised more muscles of the body then any other sport.

THE SWIMMER – PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

So I would slowly churn (or ripple) my solitary furrow along the watery lane towards the future.

Sometimes there was a swimming class for a group of middle-aged women who used to cluster at one end of the pool and exercise the only part of their bodies that didn’t really need it – their mouths.

From time to time a white-skinned girl, a Municipal Goddess, with the wide shoulders and streamlined hips of the professional swimmer would dive in and cover 20 lengths of the pool in an unbelievably short time, cutting through the water efficiently with her lazy powerful strokes and her flashy racing turns.

Then she would unhurriedly climb of the pool and stalk gracefully from the hall (leaving us, the doggy-paddle brigade, feeling somewhat rueful and chastened).

Yes, there’s nothing better than a good swim to start the day.

Asymmetry

How to restore order out of mental chaos and paint a meaningless picture at the same time.

I have a theory that painting symmetrical shapes randomly is both soothing and therapeutic.

First you take a piece of gummed A3 paper and a pencil and then (sticking firmly inside your comfort-zone) you play around for about an hour and come up with this:

STAGE 1

The next day you start to colour it in. you are unsure about the colours but are vaguely thinking yellow and green. You use a water-colour wash and by the end of the hour your uncertainty is showing.

STAGE 2

On the following day you decide to deploy the acrilics.

STAGE 3

STAGE 3

And finally after doing the fine brush work and just generally fiddling around with it and tidying it up you consciously decide to stop before you spoil it any further.

You sign it and then pause to give it a name –  asymmetry

ASYMMETRY – PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

Invisible Paintings

AN INVISIBLE EXHIBITION - by THOMAS MILNER

Since last Thursday there has been a little show of my paintings up in the entrance hall.

So far, not only has no one commented on them, but I don’t believe that anyone has even noticed them, which certainly puts me in my place, doesn’t it?

I do believe that I’ve discovered the formula for producing an invisible painting.

What you do is the following:

First you contrive your life in such a way as to end up in an Old People’s Home full of nice, but culturally innocent, inmates.

Then you take a sheet specially treated A4-size gummed paper and with a pencil in your right hand (because you’re experiencing slight tremors/twitches/tremblings/spasms/shakes etc.on the right side of your body because your tumor was on the left side of your brain) and sketch vague lines and shapes in the hope that eventually they get to resemble something or other (anything will do) so that you can later impute an intention or purpose.

Next, with your paint-brush in your right hand, you apply various coloured tinctures, water colours (acrilics only to be deployed in an emergency) onto the prepared surface to see how it turns out and with any luck you’ll produce a painting.

Repeat this periodically over several months and then, and this is the tricky part, get someone to group them together and display them on a large stand in the entrance hall.

Et voilá, there you have it – invisible paintings (painted by The Incredible Shrinking Man).

ANOTHER INVISIBLE EXHIBITION - by THOMAS MILNER

Please allow me to introduce myself

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste … thus the opening words of a famous song from my youth – Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones.

Not particularly wealthy and of uncertain taste, I am an Englishman in late middle-age who, over the last eight years, has endured three brain operations to remove benign but aggressive brain tumours. For reasons, which will in time become clear, I have somehow managed to end up in an Old People’s Home in the north of Portugal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

I didn’t survive unscathed however; after the second procedure (six years ago) I was left with what the surgeons rather euphemistically described as a slight deficit in my right side.

I couldn’t even sign my own name! Part of my rehabilitation therapy was to draw and paint for about an hour each day.

I also had lapses of memory and after a long while in a very dark place I pulled myself together – It’s sauve qui peut in this place (pardon my French), I thought – and began to tap out with one finger my memories in order to fix them in my mind.

So here, in this slightly strange and surreal place, I produced and (self)published my book THE WAITING ROOM.

What therapy! What catharsis! I can’t recommend it enough for fellow victims – your memories will lead you into rich meadows in which you may graze at will …

COURAGE

(Pardon my French)

S.JORGE - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

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