Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How I met my Jeannie

I had had a late night out, drinking you might ask, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. Anyhow I was dead beat, dead drunk probably and fell asleep half undressed and just too tired to even pull the cover over me. And I dreamed.
Did I dream? Well not for long that is for sure. It seems as though I had hardly put my head to pillow when there was a loud knocking at the door. I just couldn’t get up, I just ignored it. The rapping kept beating away at my head. I had to do something about it. Well I did. I fell out of bed onto the floor. How much did I have to drink last night? I painfully got up, made my way to the door and peeked out through the window. Yes, there was somebody there. I gingerly opened the door all bleary eyed and tried to focus on my late night caller. Now I must tell you this I don’t normally exaggerate but she was a stunner and she knew it. “Help me please.” She said “Just let me in for a minute. I am in danger.”
A host of negative signals flashed through my brain, and with her looks, I ignored them totally. I opened the door, she burst in, I closed it. “I’ll make it worth your while“. She said. Not in my present state I thought. It was almost as though she read my mind. She beamed at me seductively. She seemed not to notice my state of undress, the stubble on my face and my foul breath. Her eyes said it all. She said no more words but in their absence she was most persuasive. I heard my voice saying “How can I help?” “You already have” she replied. “Now go back to bed”
I didn’t argue but had enough sense to say “Use the spare room and make yourself a cup of tea” pointing to the kitchen. Her eyes sparkled with laughter. “You are a funny man” she said. I nodded feebly hardly able to stand. The next thing I knew I was back in bed dozing off again oblivious to the world.
The early morning sun shone through the blinds at the window waking me. What happened last night? I must have been out of my mind. I let a complete stranger into the house then went back to bed! I put on my robe and looked around the house. All was quiet. I checked the kitchen then the lounge, everything as normal. Not a soul about. It must have been a dream.
I went into the bathroom, stripped off and got under the shower with the water streaming out of the shower head and comforting me in its warmth. It was a sensual experience just like being wrapped in the arms of a passionate lover! I opened my eyes and there in the shower with me was the girl from last night.
She was in my arms, soft, sensuous, mine! “I told you I would make it worth your while” she said. “I didn’t think you wanted gold or money, but riches of a more lasting kind.” Now who would argue with that?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Nearly there

Oh death damn your scythe,
I can’t keep jumping up and down,
putting off that fateful day when you will catch me unawares.
To wind up my days on earth and dream no more of all those aspirations nearly fulfilled,
what a joke!
Why must we aspire to be more than just ourselves;
to love and laugh without a care,
but seek to be that hero or even knave that gets some notoriety?
Can I cross that bourne from which no traveller returns
without regrets for that which I did not do?
Surely as I pay that ferryman I can be satisfied
that what I made of my life was sufficient without yearning for yet more?
Yet that is not in our nature, is it?
I want to live again, laugh again and not keep crying in my soup. As I write these words I want not praise or acclamation
but just to watch one more sunrise,
wonder at a cloudless sky, ponder over a starlit night,
talk back to the birds as they chatter to me
and look at, talk to and touch with loving hands
all those who have meant so much to me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Chasing a story

You could say I have a split personality, but that is not it. I have been a ditherer for some time, in two minds, even a dual personality you could say. That is not true. It is as though I am frightened of making a mistake, again. I have done that a lot. I hate it. I wasn’t always like this. I was confident once. I could stand up in front of a crowd and make a little speech, throw in a few jokes, get everyone laughing. I could see that others admired my confidence. That is gone now. I am someone else. I am my identical twin. That confident one has gone, left town, skedaddled and just left Mr. Bumble
No, I never had a twin brother; there’s just me. But where have I really gone? I was critically wounded on the battlefield. No, don’t get all patriotic. I didn’t do my time; didn’t do service; didn’t fight baddies; didn’t save the world. All I did was to be in the wrong place at the right time. Or is that the right place at the wrong time. Yes, I think that it is it. I meant to be in Hindley Street. OK so it was 4.00 in the morning. No, I hadn’t been to a nightclub or drinking at one of those 24 hour bars that fill you up until you can’t walk then turn you out because it’s against the law to serve liquor to a drunk in this State.
But I needed to be there to do my job. Yes, do my job. I’m a writer and I needed some material so I wanted to get a feel of the atmosphere of the sleazy world. I must have been mad. I’m I writer couldn’t I cheat a bit, lie, make it up? People will believe anything. If you write it down and they can read it, it must be true, mustn’t it?
So I walked by myself drinking it all in, everything except the booze that is; making mental notes. I wrote it all down in my mind, the crowds, the drunks spreading out across the street, walking through the traffic of curb crawling cars, of young girls in skimpy dresses made up to look like tarts, with the working ladies looking as ugly as sin and as hard as nails trying to drum up some custom. And then there were the pushers and pimps and the minders and the cops. It was like one great whirlpool of filth, of shouting and screaming and laughing and music and even some tears too as a girl who looked about 15 vomited in the gutter.
And then it happened...a volley of shots. The scene changed from the carousel of movement that seemed to have some order, and there was panic and people ran every which way. Away from what ever happened, wherever it was. And what of me you ask? I fell to the ground and kept still. My last real sane thought was that if I act dead they won’t shoot me twice. They hadn’t even shot me once but they didn’t know that did they? Whoever they were or wherever they were. When it was quiet again, I slid away down a side street and made my way back home. I was scared, I had wet my pants.
The next day I could hardly string two words together. It’s as though I have a split personality. Oh yes, that is where I started wasn’t it?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Freedom is a curse

Never ever free me from these memories.
Do you remember your first love?
I fell in love for the first time many times!
There was the girl that held my hand when we were singing in class, I had short trousers then.
Then there was Fay in the springtime, who accepted a trinket of my love but was gone by summer.
I always walked Jeannie to the bus after school and loved her freckled nose and the secret kiss by the swings.
Now my real first love was Irene who laughed at my impudence but scorned my affection and left me heartbroken.
Kathleen was the one that took me home and showed me to her parents and gave me tea and cakes and sat me in the front room and walked in the woods with me and then gave me up for one she really loved and broke my heart...again.
Dare I tell you about Enid the beautiful muse who was a friend but I couldn’t see she was the one that loved me until we parted when I fell into an abyss of despair and like Orpheus I searched everywhere for her and would even have followed her through the gates of hell if I had known where that was!
But fickle I was as man and youth and my heart had an enormous capacity to love. All these loves and more came into my life and each one was set free by me or by their own wisdom.
Even you my love who loved me constantly from youth to manhood through adventure and pain, through sadness and joy, through babies and children and grandchildren you left me too.
You left me, never to be free of all these loving memories and I would wish it no other way.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Old Man Dreaming

Old men dream dreams of what they did, of what they could have done and perhaps what they still could do. I too dream in such a way. There is not much on the list that I still can do except to tell you about the past.
I cannot right the wrongs or “cancel half a line” as Fitzgerald flamboyantly translated the Arabic in The Rubbaiyat of Omar Khayyam but I can tell you of summer breezes and the “season of mellow fruitfulness”.
Was it like that for you? I loved life, I loved the world and I loved you. I shouldn’t have but when I first saw you I was entranced, smitten, besotted and in love again. I wanted to touch you to bury my head between your breasts and hear you say my name, tenderly, with love, with longing.
When I touched you, you too would run your fingers on my cheeks, through my hair and murmur sweet nothings. Then as I tickled you gently with kisses in secret places you sighed with desire and fulfilment.
Wait, did that happen? Was that true? Is this but an old man’s dream of something that almost happened but never did? Where are you now? Can you tell me or do you dream of other things; of your life fulfilled with the joys and sadness of true loves and babies and of children growing up and a husband who was not me.
Do you remember me? Why do I remember you so well? You are in my heart always. Is there just a little piece of me in yours to remember or are your dreams of more fortunate men?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Big Brad

We were like Laurel and Hardy. I was Stan Laurel, thin and dour. Big Brad was Oliver Hardy all over. He was big and rambunctious, so big in fact that you felt cooler in his shade in summer. We were pals many years ago when I was working in South Australia’s mid north. After work we would arrange to meet in a pub, one of four in the town. Big Brad lived in the town but I took a room in the one of the hotels.
I also saw him in the morning before work. I would get up early and have a run around the town and found him one day on the local sports ground. He ran too but that was just to limber up, he was in fact a shot putter, one of the best in the state.
Because it was so hot in summer you tended to do things according to the weather so you exercised in the cool of the morning and you drowned your sorrows with beer at night. The bars then were still men only. Ladies went in the Ladies lounge and men were not permitted unless accompanied by a female companion!
I often changed my allegiance with the hostelries there. Either I would fall out with them or they with me. I used to have a room in a hotel for the week I was away from home. That was it, a room. The communal bathroom and toilets were at the end of the corridor. One landlord of a pub I stayed at said I could move on after a week or so as I didn’t drink enough at the bar!
Big Brad loved his food. One pub had a steak night for some ridiculously cheap price. So we went. I ordered mine and he ordered two! While I was still getting mine down, he looked up from his plate which was all but empty and said “Aren’t you going to eat that?” pointed his knife at the fat and gristle I had cut off of mine. I shook my head and immediately it left my plate and was down his throat in a flash. “It’s a crime to waste food”. He admonished me.
His appetite for beer was also great but not his capacity to hold it. After one night out when we left the pub, seeing that he was a bit unsteady on his feet I offered him a lift home which was only a few streets away. He nodded in agreement, went round to the passenger seat and instead of getting in slowly buckled to his knees and leaned against the car. It took me what seemed like twenty minutes and with considerable effort on my part to manoeuvre him away, open the door and somehow get him into the car.
As I write this piece, with my back playing up again. I wonder whether that all started so many years ago getting Big Brad into my car.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The long and short of it

I want to tell you about Mona. That wasn’t her real name. She came from Maori stock and her given name was Moana, pronounced Mo-ah-na. It meant ocean and already when I met her she had fulfilled her names promise by crossing the ocean and was a student at an Art College in England when I studied. She had given up explaining how to pronounce her name and just went along with what others called her. I was studying Architecture at nights there and I have no idea what she was studying, it could have been Fine Art, Pottery or she could have worked in the office, who knows?
I met her at the end of year dance and get together of students at the pub next door to the college. I don’t dance well but on a crowded dance floor, the pressure is off and who cares when all you can do is jiggle about a bit.
Moana was tiny, not five foot tall. Some might call her dainty but that is poor description as she was bursting with life and exuberance. When she looked at me with her hauntingly beautiful eyes I melted. I felt like a puddle at her feet lapping at her pretty toes. I have no idea how I came to dance with her, but my guess is that she asked me. More likely she pulled me away from my Architectural mates and took charge. As we squeezed on to the crowded dance floor and swayed and bumped to the music all thoughts of Chloe my current girlfriend took flight.
As Moana smiled tantalizing at me her smile turned into a broad grin and she pulled me down to her height. I was six foot two inches then so face to face conversation was not possible. She put her mouth near my ears and shouted, “You are so tall, they will all think you are dancing on your own”
You must remember this was 55 years ago. In those days no one danced on their own. I merely smiled down at her and removed my hand from her waist and touched her bare arm. It was a warm brown arm that for those few seconds was mine alone.
The music stopped we moved off the dance floor and returned to our friends. Later on I tried to find out which subjects she was studying but no-one knew who or where she was. So she went out of my life as quickly as she entered it.
Now all these years later I still think of her, sadly, yearning for that little bit more. But like so many meetings we were as ships that pass in the night. For that short time she was my ocean, my Moana.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Raw meat

I look in the freezer; it is well stocked with frozen lumps of stuff I cannot eat. Look here are a few bits of Chinese leftovers. Spring Rolls. Why didn’t we throw them out? They would happier in the bin by the back shed to come alive again, squirming with life until the bin man comes to take the stinking mess away to start a new life somewhere else but not with me.

What is this? I try to work out what the meat is. I finally guess the answer. It is a rack of lamb. I think it should go in the oven and be roasted for a bit and then cut up into little choplets, all succulent, tender, oozing with fat and eaten with roast potatoes and to counteract all that fat, some steamed vegetables. But I can’t contemplate all this raw meat anymore. It sickens me. I am not hungry. I close the freezer door and let it all mourn for you in a cold sadness. While I mourn for you in sadness too, neither cold nor hot, but numb. You could even say that I am raw too. Tender or tough? I haven’t made up my mind on that one.

You were tender; soft as a ripe plum, oozing with love that was all for me alone. Now you have gone. I don’t know where you have gone but wherever it is, are you laughing now? Laughing at me as I wonder what to do with all this raw meat?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Lucy and me

Did I ever mention Lucy? I have been living with her for so long now and we don’t get along. I have given her up at least four times but somehow I am still here with her. I am weak of course but she is weaker and that weakness is her power.

I have just got up, I have showered and am sitting on the settee wondering where all this is going. Looking back it has been a continuous cycle of rows, usually silent, stand offs, reconciliation and explosive making up in bed. That is my weakness.

We are like a match and matchbox one needing to rub the other the right way to explode into flame. Here she comes now, I fidget with the strewn papers on the settee as though I am tidying up and she is prattling along in her usual way about whether we should meet for lunch. I try not to look at her because what I said yesterday was so final. “Lucy, this is not working” I said, and she cried as she normally does. I tried to be strong but I am not like that, I am weak. And who wants to sleep on the floor when there is perfectly good double bed waiting for you.

I need my sleep so I say to myself. That is a lie of course because I know that as soon I get into bed I will find she is not wearing a stitch and she will wrap me up in hers arms and I will have lost again.

I lie a lot. We do have another bed in the apartment. It is my bed. It is never used. Even the first day that she invited me to stay over several months after her husband Jack had died I never used it then. The family thought I was there to look after her. Was I looking after her!
Jack was my older brother. I loved Lucy the first time Jack brought her home to show her off to the family. I didn’t realise it then but when she looked at me all those years ago she must have thought “Oops! I have chosen the wrong brother”. But then just as now she was weak and couldn’t reverse the tide.

She is standing close to me now, she has bare legs and her pretty feet are so close I could eat them up. She knows that, she knows me well, we have that affinity, we love each other but we shouldn’t or should we?

When I say to her “It is not working” that is not true it is working very well indeed. We just have to wait for an appropriate time to break it to everyone. Everyone may already have guessed. It is just that when Jack said to me at the wedding all that time ago “If anything happens to me you will look after Lucy won’t you? I didn’t reply “Nothing is going to happen to you”. Instead I said with perhaps too much eagerness “Of course I will”.