Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Temporary Inconvenience

My wife is gazing into the distance. 'You can see our house from here!' I stop reading. 'Oh, really?' As we are sitting in the living room of our home I'm not surprised. I pretend to admire the view. At such moments - when my energy is weak - I believe people and things I love are out of reach, untouchable. To travel towards them, to reach them, seems impossible. A black hole of doubt opens up and I fall in. It is a temporary inconvenience. Sometimes, it lasts for weeks. I soon escape, retake my place in the queue, careful to stand close to the 'Anxiety' end of the line, as far from the 'Confidence' sign, as possible.

In winter I miss warm summer nights. I can't stand the cold wind; I sense the feeling is mutual. Outside it's five below zero. Today my wife is wearing a heavily armoured terracotta tank top. I believe the gun turret is directed at me. I can only say, that more often than not, I'm thankful when it's time for bed. I'm sitting surrounded by flame throwers, napalm, a blowpipe, and a wealth of root vegetables. This playacting has enriched our lives. Indeed, the expense outweighs the boredom that can wither a marriage.

I can't deny that when she smiles her face is still that of a young woman. Her smile, somehow, dispels the onset of age. I think: 'What a long way my wife and I have come, in life, I mean. Yet ... I desperately seek something else, something that burns with curiosity and a sense of panic, something that doesn't involve wasting time.' What it is I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm the wrong person to ask. Few people know how to be old until it is too late. Today I visited a friend who died three months ago. He didn't look well. I'm sure the visit seemed unreal to him.

The present 'Financial Recession' is proving difficult for some people. It's time to adjust finances and gain the upper hand once more. Despairing of debt I currently undertake five jobs. I recently acquired a job as a night-watchman that involves working during the day time. For some reason I still have to carry a torch and wear night vision glasses. I go through the motions to get paid. I don't ask questions. Another job seems popular with audiences. I am one of a trio of performing canines named: 'The Absurd Equivocal Alastair Campbell Dancing Dog Show'. I'm inundated with requests for autographs after each show. People enquire if I still hang out with Tony Blair and George W. Bush and play war games. Some individuals request to brush my coat. It's made of camel hair and has two humps on its back, just like me.

Reflections: I believe the scales of justice are not, and never will be, evenly balanced in this world. I try not to watch or listen to the news locally, nationally, internationally, or worldwide. Sometimes I do, and, most times, it weakens my spirit.

Most evil prospers in clear view of indifference and ignorance.This world, however, is not without beauty. I'm grateful that 'love' is one of the greatest virtues one can experience in life. And I'm thankful there are human beings who unselfishly help others, and have a strong desire to make the world a better place for humankind to live, enjoy, prosper, and raise children.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Matter & Living in the Present

Last evening, in bed, while abseiling down my wife's back, I was suddenly struck by a childhood memory. I remember my family had cocktails before dinner. The table would be set, the lights dimmed. We would wait an eternity for dinner to be served. However, we never had a bite to eat. Sitting at the table was a charade. Subsequently, my father and mother would feign tiredness, yawn, and say, 'Time for bed.'

Back then, I was afraid of everything: barnacles, ear wax, rumbling stomachs, parking places, fluttering butterfly wings, and that the universe was comprised of 80% black matter. At nightfall, all animals on earth descended on our home. And it wasn't for food. My innocent body trembled. I endured sleepless nights. The slightest cough could elicit strange odours. Alas, it is history, now.

A writer, with a new book to promote, is talking on the radio. I listen with a serious face; my ears are outside playing on the garden swing. My first reaction is confusion. The writer espouses: 'Time passes more quickly, now', 'The past is all around us, now' and 'That's a good question. Can I give two answers, now?' It confirms my view that one should never talk about one's writing, or, on any account, recite a short passage unless one has read it first. It is embarrassing to the listener, and has a tendency to induce a wretched fever, even in those fortunate not to hear the ghastly broadcast. I have forgotten the author's name. I wonder if she resides in black matter? One can only guess. Perhaps, she always did, and will?

The only real kind of happiness is youth. After that, well, you must adapt, or run the risk of being laughed at behind your back. I remember being told by my paternal grandfather (in a soft, almost mournful voice) that 'the past, or the future, do not exist for any living creature, only the present.'

'You haven't changed a bit,' a soft voice whispered in my ear. 'Do you remember Rula?'

I half closed my eyes.

'She was killed. The shutters on her shop dropped on her head. She was still so beautiful. Time certainly touched her with a gentle hand.'

I stayed silent and entered a grieving period. The night grew thicker, darker. I wept with all the simplicities that surround silence. All I could picture was Rula not breathing. Yet, she was fresh air, itself; warmth, beauty. Why had she stopped breathing?

'It was a stormy evening,' she went on. 'Poor creature ...' Her words suffocated me. 'Poor little Rula ...'

She spoke without emotion or tears. Her departure left a bitter taste. I cursed the beginning of love which draws you into its erotic-mystical river only to leave you stranded on a muddy river bank. A prisoner of the present, not the past. I remembered the soft, almost crying voice, that sprayed saliva as it spoke, 'The past, or the future, do not exist for any living creature, only the present.'

Reflections: This week my wife lost two pounds in weight just by cutting her nose hair and toe nails. I believe she could lose another two pounds by trimming her small hairy feet (which scare the hell out of children at the local swimming pool) and removing six of her teeth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Solitude and The Metaphysical Nose

Today I feel like a bare bulb on a ceiling. My wife (her name escapes me, and runs downstairs) gives me a hate-filled stare, and throws the cat's crutches at me. I speak without saying a word. Her old fire is not there. Though I must say the reduction on heating costs are gratifying. Our relationship is at its most precarious. Who will suffocate whom first? Our bedroom has the icy coldness of an Alpine peak. And one does tire of skiing aficionados who use our sleeping habitat as a favorite ski spot. We attract the odd jet skier and the noise is horrendous.

I rarely talk or write about my personal life because none of it is true. Lately I've been getting up at 8 o'clock each morning. After I bath, shave, and have breakfast, I'm usually back in bed ten minutes later. Before lunch I take a long walk around my bed with the dog. Then we both start drinking heavily. I believe this is why I think and write at a quarter of the speed I used to which was close to half speed. For some strange reason I'm starting to weep a lot. At least it stops me from crying which would be disastrous for a man in my position; prostrate on the floor.

I hated turning fifty years old, just as I hate suddenly turning direction in a crowded street, or turning the pages of a newspaper belonging to a person sitting beside me on public transport. I really should buy a paper of my own. However, I detest darting to the front of a queue to purchase one.  All I seem to attract are savage faces and angry voices. At such moments I seem to arouse the banalities and absurdities of the human condition best not talked about.  No one is shielded from the world, even when drunk, making love, or taking out the garbage.

Lately, I've been gripped by suffocating despair and anguish. I've been working on the draft of my first book Solitude and The Metaphysical Nose for over thirty years. (A romantic story based on an ugly adolescent who discovers a small turned-up nose under her bed, and suddenly she becomes a beautiful, intelligent seductress). Yesterday I flew to Moscow and got the first plane home. I only intended to get a jar of gherkins from the local store. To make matters worse I keep having absurd, horrible dreams: snatches of conversation, people, faces ... Faces I do not care to see, minds I do not trust. The worse dream involves being in love with my wife again. I use to fear death, now I fear sleep.
Reflections: We are all vulnerable behind our public facade. Questioning our actions and motives continually. There is no cure for disenchantment except to yield to our vulnerabilities, lost illusions, our loves and daily life. While one's energy prevails one must struggle with equal ferocity against hate and violence without reserve.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Consquences of Living Life the Wrong Way

On my way home this morning I feel enriched by the beautiful colours and sounds. The dancing chilly breeze, chirping birds, and rustling leaves join me on my dawn stroll. Shades and tones which reflect autumn cast their spell. The exhilarating experience invites me to slow down, relax, and reflect on the light and shade of nature.

I encounter people walking briskly with grim faces, obviously in disharmony with the natural environment, reality and reason. No time to breathe due to their rigorous lifestyle. While they may work extremely hard, have they forgotten how to live their own life? Their eyes are dulled by habit, and as a consequence everything looks bland. The essence of their lives is dictated by uniforms, words, gestures, orders, verbosity, vague promises and rewards, and rituals, which only serve to fill their minds with confusion, compliance, manipulation, stress and despair.

A friend of mine, Quentin Bogdanovich - who has just returned from searching for wood in a forest near our town, to no avail - approaches me. Quentin disguises himself as a famous fish restaurant and smells like a grilled perch. Unfortunately, a passion for yoga has left him permanently in the 'frontal split' position. He gets around by balancing on a 'Wilton Cake Turntable' pulled by his friend, Simone Elmocake. 'The sun is quite loud this morning,' he says to me gently, while spinning. 'Can you hear it? It is so far away, yet we take its brightness for granted. Its glorious, warm body gives off a wondrous sound. If only people would listen ...'

Reflections:  I am seduced by the sound and smell of the fire. As I watch the orange and yellow flames dance, and listen to the wood crackling, I realise Quentin has a valid point. Salvation may lie in the natural world. One can read too many books, watch too many films, talk too much about ideas, society, people, and fill one's head with nonsense.

Quentin's outlook on life is haunting in its simplicity. Simply discovering more about oneself, rather than searching the shadows and depths of the world, may bring one more comfort and insight, and closer to the warm light which is the soul.   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Prefer the Sound of Laughter to Tears

I've just returned from a hot, humid and crowded Paris. After breakfast each morning Cecilia and I walked the beautiful streets and squares - some loud, some flowing with serenity - and we sat down when our bodies told us it was time. Usually it was in one of the wondrous gardens: Luxembourg or the Place des Vosges.

When we were hungry we stood on the sidewalk and looked at the tables where people were eating to see if the food suited our taste and pocket. We mainly drank white wine with our meals to match our light-heartiness. This usually enriched our conversations with residents or visitors who sat near our table. The girls were young, pretty and stylish and the women were attractive, tanned and walked in a relaxed, unworried manner to parade their pretty legs. Pleasure shone on their faces as if they alone had a secret they would not share with anyone. Paris filled my heart and mind with magic. A magic only Paris can summon while you reside in its bosom.

Two days ago I finished composing the closing movement of my "Concerto for Microwaveable Cauliflower Cheese." I used Swiss cheese hence the quaint gaps in the work. The premiere, held last night inside a constipated cactus bent over a deceased housekeeper, was a success. A success due to the absence of an audience or mice, and the sweeping power and delicacy of the microwave which breathed new sounds, new life into a nocturnal sky. The intimate novelty of hearing the work moved me more than I anticipated. Art should be fresh - esp. when food products are used - it should awaken the mind, the heart, the soul, and keep you in unstinting luxury until you are unmasked as a fake. 

Some days it is hard to think of a captivating title for a short story or a novel. I take the John Cage approach. The title of my next novel (also, my first novel) will be 72,846 - the exact number of words contained in the work. I'm presently working on  83,218 and only have 18 words to go. In fact, by the time you read this post I may have typed them. It is hard to gauge how long it will take when one is seized with the horrible fear of failure and internal tremors. I nearly forgot. The words in either novel are not in order, and require to be chanted by a yellow rubber duck inside a carafe of oakey and intense Tempranillo wine while slapping the last people on earth with a dead fish.

Reflections:  Neither the dark, the black streets, or windswept pigeon droppings, can conceal that a once sensual, glowing and moody face has descended to one that is sour, brooding and overweight. The face of my wife? my girlfriend? my dog?  No, mine.

Sometimes my new-old face is a blessing. I can now obtain a seat on public transport, a bicycle, a toilet, and be served drink and food promptly in a restaurant and sit with my 'one true friend' for companya manila folder. A manila folder that drinks too much, lies and tells stupid jokes in amusing voices. Unbelievably it is more interesting than most people I have met and pays its half of the restaurant bill. It knows when I do not want to talk and when I am deep in thought. It knows I prefer the sound of laughter to tears.   

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Bikini Wax & Upstaging the Bride

This morning a neighbour, Randy Camelus, was killed while out galloping with some companions over nearby hills. As Randy was on foot police are treating his death as suspicious. Poor devil. He had a weakness for bobbing canoes, earthenware products and impersonating a tram at rush-hour. In fact, he was arrested twice for carrying too many passengers. Randy always preferred the countryside to his home; less mud, manure, cows, nettles and flies. To be honest he got on my nerves. He felt the need to upstage people wherever and whenever possible. Once he pretended to be a hard boiled egg and turned up in my lunchbox. At his niece's wedding - held in the middle of a desert - he arrived as a camel wearing a straw hat. Most guests agreed he outshone the bride.

I remember Randy had trouble with his wisdom teeth. He had seven: three on top, two on the bottom, and one that worked and lived in Germany and never sent money home. However, it was as a salesperson that Randy excelled. Besides selling crystal balls to fortune tellers his most profitable venture involved selling bilingual individuals two of each product they wished to purchase, and had the audacity to make them pay twice. One of his greatest sales involved getting a bald-headed man to purchase and undergo a bikini wax. The man was last seen travelling eastwards across the desert with a bikini on his head shouting, 'Help! Help! I'm not what you think I am! . . . I'm not Lady Gaga?! . . . Am I? . . . I'm Madonna . . . Where am I? . . . . Boy, do I miss the stairs in my house!'

Randy maintained that the creation of prose, poetry, music, painting, sculpture, etc., is easy. This divided his world from mine. I wasn't surprised by his statement. In fact, it made me sad. I told Randy on one occasion, gently: 'All things seem easy that are created without talent.'  He didn't answer. His face became serious, pale, suddenly frail. His teeth left before him. As they scuttled across the street they collided with a car. The air was sharp, biting cold. How coincidental.  The only sound? Randy's silent tears as he lifted his shattered teeth. He looked at me, then began to soothe his teeth with the softness of his hand. I watched as he made for his home in a remote village inside an old shed behind a house close to a river in the middle of nowhere - a village called 'H'.

Randy's fate reminds me that "everything" and "everyone" go through phases of uncertainty, silent acceptance, indifference, economy of words, half-light, darkness, silence, oblivion. While he is no longer here occasionally I see his teeth pass my house on the way to the dentist. Sometimes they smile at me through the window.

Reflections: At the moment my attempts at writing lack focus and an elementary grasp of grammar. I've been aware of this for some time; since childhood, in fact. I spend 24 hours a day figuring out which project to work on and let my thoughts run wild. Finding them again, however, can present a problem. Once they texted me from Amsterdam. A problem with their passport; something to do with photographic ID?! Anyway, I must learn to "adjust my lens," so to speak.