There was a poster advertising courses at The London School of Journalism. To apply, one had to write a thousand words describing why this was interesting. I thought, Ē Iíll do thatĒ, and
filed it away in my mind under, íLaterí. It still hasnít been written. I have no idea of whether the LSJ, as it may have been called, was a credible school, or if it actually existed. Journalism was what
I was interested in then. I am still interested today. Now, thirty five years later I find myself waiting to hear if my university application has been successful.
She had always thought that she was daring. Ideas of what she would like to experience occurred to her daily. Things that she longed to have done to her mind and body. Mainly her body. Lately though, a stream
of images were coming to her where she was the actor. The giver, or controller of pleasure given. From this she took her of pleasure, to the extent that she now kept an extra pair of underwear in her bag. Sheís see a
man on her bus journey, and fantasise of him looking up at her, sweat on his brow, gasping.
- How would you like to have your tongue thrusting down my throat?, she had asked.
- She has been drinking, he thought. Girls, in his experience, werenít usually this forward.
Not seeing a way out, he let it slide. Maybe it wouldnít come up again. She was his friend. A nice girl. Not that that mattered.
The conversation was likely long forgotten. By her, at least. This kind off singular conversational snippet stayed with him. Perhaps only for the drama they momentarily created within him. Perhaps because
of the sense of shame about not addressing them at the time.
The constant burning in the muscles around the hip had worsened. It had been there for some time. Years in fact. His initial internet investigations had pinned it down to probably being bursitis. Maybe even
definitely. After a period of regularly exercising and/or resting the hip with no noticeable improvement, he saw a doctor, was referred to a physiotherapist, did some more exercises. There was no improvement. Time passed.
Another doctor, X-rays and scans and finally another doctor who said, - They could see no problem structurally. Just keep doing the exercises.
This is how grumpy, old men are created.
There have been times in my life where my head has been filled with the lyrics of bands I adored. Songs still stir me emotionally when I hear them, even more so if the band that created them has reformed
and performs live. Today, I read the lyrics of, Wasted Life. A song by SLF from 1979 about a young boy being cajoled to join various paramilitary organisations as well as the (possibly two) army of his nation. For some, a
life spent following orders and killing for the benefit of others might be fulfilling. For others, not so much.
The song made me wonder about my own life and to what extent it had been wasted. Purpose and direction have sometimes been lacking, often for long stretches.of time. I have drifted without a plan and without
being a functioning part of a greater society or movement. There has always been employment, friends and family. My children are happy and well cared for. There has been and still is much love in my life. Still though, a sense
of emptiness and being disconnected prevails. To combat this, I usually seek further education and so a sense of direction. Still learning.
Pamela had been taught by nuns at a Catholic all girls school. For her and her friends it had been an mundane period. Much as it had been for her mother and her friends before her.
People were poor in her country. Not all of them. Some lived in opulence. 20% of the population still lived in poverty, however. Things were getting better, on paper, at least.
Cam-work was something that Pamela had drifted into, A friend told her that the money was good and it was work. Now she sat in front of her phone daily in her underwear.
Some of the men were nice, respectful. There were only men, she believed. They were all just made up names really. She was sure that the more offensive and stupid types were requests and messages were from
silly, little boys - horny, little boys. She hoped that they would grow out of it. They didnít know her and there was very little chance that she would ever meet any of them but she sometimes feared for other women closer
to them. At the back of her mind was a small worry that someone she knew would one day see her.
Mice can be tiny creatures. Much smaller than of what one usually thinks of as a mouse. A neighbourís cat was playing with one that was less that the size of a golf ball. In the apparently cruel way
that catís have, sheíd run it down until it froze in terror, casually walk away only to run the mouse down again when it made to escape. I moved quickly towards the cat so that it had to run. I was glad that it
chose not to fight for its prey. The mouse scampered away. The cat and I faced off.
Poor Jack. Iím not sure that he ever grew up. When all your friends become more distant as they go take care of their own workadaddy family lives, you feel lonesome.
Iím coming to realise that life is as fantastic as its lovers say. Even in this unmotivated, directionless state, there is so much to be grateful for, so much to be, so much to see,
and so much to love!
My girl is more beautiful than I can describe. This is not helpful to you, of course. Factually then, she is 156cm tall; both my daughters, who are 12 and 15, have recently outgrown her.
Her skin is an exotic, caramel. She has long, dark brown hair, which she is thinking of cutting short. A little bud of a nose above a warm smiling mouth. Eyes that are shimmering pools of brown love in a fine, smooth skinned
face. Her voice tinkles and her laugh is warming. It warms me.
I think you know what I am trying to say.
What to write about? is a question that I seldom have to ask myself any more. Even when my mind is blank, I start and see what comes up. Consciously, I would like to opine sensibly on the
state of the world and offer reasoning around occurrences, politics, and loons who have made questionable statements. There are careless gaps in my own thinking or writing, however that give me cause for doubt. I may have
an immediate, well argued response in my head to something I have read or seen but then omit sections of the argument in the execution.
The first time I remember my erection failing was with a Danish au pair in London. I would only have been 21. Her, something similar. Weíd met in a bar and were both very drunk. My
disgruntled friend had left for a night-bus whilst the girl and I kissed.
We were in Soho, getting more passionate in an entry way. Some guys looked in. One asked, Is he shagging her?
We moved on.
In Trafalgar Square, shielded by my long, black coat, I had worked her jeans and underwear down and she mine, to find that I was totally flaccid.
All those people. All those lives. Looking for intimacy. Looking for fun. Some looking for love. Hopes and dreams conveyed in two or three sentences. And a photo.
It is shallow, yes. But itís also somewhere to begin. It is essential to begin and this makes beginning easy.
Searching through the people. Dismiss. Dismiss. Dismiss. Something about the person makes one stop, look closer and sometime read what has been written. Dismiss.
People dismissed that easily. Does it make us feel easy because we are are summarily binning someone based on how they look or because it raises further questions.
The interview went well. Itís hard to say what the interviewers thought. They were professional, of course. Interested and friendly too. Par for the course. Unusually, there were four
of them. There was a plan and a structure intending to walk me through the information they wanted me to have and the questions they wanted to ask. The questions caused me no trouble at all. I had ready responses though I
felt that I perhaps focused on too few areas of my experience. What causes me doubt is how I was experienced myself.
A man once told me about the final thesis that for his physics degree. He and some colleagues had sailed about the Scottish coast, putting in occasionally to measure gravity en route.
This freaked me out. Gravity is constant on Earth, surely? Objects fall at a net rate of 10m/s. He explained that gravityís force was increased by the density of whatever was below
where it was measured.
I imagine that the results must be so minimal that it doesnít actually have any effect.
Otherwise, I would have been taught this in school. Or, he was just making it up.
Mulching is such a good word. I hadnít heard it previously. On buying a new lawnmower, however, I had to learn what the accompanying mulching attachment was for. Basically, it feeds
grass clippings back onto the blades of the machine so that minimal clippings can be spread back onto the lawn being mowed. Grass clippings are 95% water. They break down very quickly and fertilise the grass of which they
were once at one with. No collection required. I wish that I known about this earlier when the summer was at its hottest. For the time-being, our lawn looks lush.
This year, a few days ago, I turned 55. It feels similar to every other year, which is to say that nothing has changed. My body though, can do less and has more pain than I remember it having previously. Iím using myself up, or perhaps wearing myself out. I remain moderately active, and usually in a manner of low impact. Still, my joints and spine ache in various places. I am lying now watching the trees change
colour. The symphony of Autumn, it has no doubt been called. Reds, oranges, yellows and beige. It is beautiful† I feel wiser.
I watch my daughter blowing bubbles with my girlfriendís granddaughter. Itís pleasing to have these relationships within relationships and know that you belong to something
bigger. I have always enjoyed being with the families of my girlfriends (intermittently sequential). That sense of family is something I havenít really had with my own, which consisted of my brother and my mother. Our
grandparents and cousins lived far away so we didnít see much of them. My mother worked and we were left to roam as latch-key kids. I enjoyed my childhood, at the time.
You canít miss what youíve never had.
With a few years of work experience and a little education, finding a job should be easy. What makes it more difficult is identifying a role in which one would thrive, as well as enjoy.
IT has been good to me. Very little work for a relatively large reward. To tell the truth though, Iím not much of a worker. What I have always loved is writing coherent and well structured essays and stories. I'd like
to get paid to do this. I do not write often, however, which suggests that I donít love this as much as I say.
She Filed away the letter on returning Home, Inserting it with the others at the back of her underwear drawer. She stared out of the window and over the Layout of the garden. She flicked
though her memories of the letterís writer. All those shared points of Reference mapping out over most of their lives. Their Mailing back and forth over years, or not at all. Occasionally, she would take out the letters
to Review the warm feeling their contents instilled in her. She looked out at the View and saw a small bird spread its wings to take flight.
Iíve been irascible. Irascible as fuck, as my mother would say (she wouldnít). Alone, I am happy and content. Other people (my family) then turn up and I go from feeling
serenely at one with the world to ready to explode for the smallest perceived infringement on my space. Itís been so for a few months, apparently.
I forget things too.
My girlfriend talked to me about it. She is very wise and knowledgeable. I have been tetchy with my kids for no reason. With her, I have been irritable and argumentative without reason.
Best have a look at myself.
The woman at the end of the bar smiled at me. Not trusting my face, I nodded back at her.
She returned to her conversation, requesting a taxi via the barman.
My friends had their own talks going on. They were beginning to get a little loud. Weíd been drinking since lunch time and it was now dark outside. Being a cowering and timid beastie
,I was surprised to find myself beside the woman at the bar saying that I liked her cheekbones. I remember nothing of what was said later but we had a drink.
A taxi driver arrived.
Would you like to see me home?, she asked. I looked at her and probably said that I would.
As we were leaving, a friend caught my eye with an exaggerated concerned, possibly surprised look on his face but said nothing. In the back of the cab, we chatted away as we travelled
from North to South London. I paid and followed her to a first floor flat. Inside, she made me a cup of tea and we talked more. Standing , she told me that she liked domination, and something else, which I cannot now remember.
Odd, I thought
She undressed down to stockings and black underwear while telling me more about what she liked. I felt uneasy then finally understood.
I asked for more tea.
When I heard her filling the kettle, I stood up, went quickly to the door and let myself out. I took the key, locked the door from the outside, and ran as quickly I could away from the
house. Out in the quiet street, I checked road signs and realised that I was close to a girlfriendís flat. Shaken, I walked to her and confessed that I had gone home with a man.
Again, my motherís mind is fading.
Not really her mind. Her memories.
I wonder how that is.
Her most recent memories, even those from three minutes ago, fade to a gossamer grey allowing once far distant experiences, to be once again revealed in their full colour. She tells
my daughters, presumably by text, when she recalls something from her early years. They like hearing how she once lived. The events she has lived through.
There are a lot of grim stories from that time.
She remembers years of the second world war as, ďa really exciting time to be aliveĒ.
Mornings. The young girls now look after themselves. I check in and make sure that they are on track. They are busy with their own thoughts now. Occasionally though , there are moments
of connection between us. Regardless of my morning moods, it is in these moments that I am reminded how much I love them. Quotidian love can easily become wallpaper. Itís beauty is always there but the lack of its observation
causes it to fade into the background.
The girls tell me that they love me every time we speak. An ingrained habit I hope Iím responsible for.
The fat at the back of my neck is loosened and squeezed upwards when I tilt my head back. At the front, there doesnít seem to be much doubling going on at all. I decide that I
am not obese. That part of me is not obese, at least. Itís not something that I dwell upon. Apart from my mid-section, which confronts me whenever I sit down or pass by a mirror. What can you do? - Eat less and move
more is the ready response.
It is actually that simple, until itís too late. Thereafter, itís a life-long struggle.
There are only a couple of people that I have known all my life. These are family members.
I still have friends who I have known since I was eight or nine years old. The early years before then are difficult, however, to fill with names. Those people have disappeared, from
my life, at least. Theyíre probably not coming back.
I am now in my mid-fifties. People will soon start disappearing from this end of my life. This worried me for a spell but it eased off with time.
Hopefully, Iíll be around to miss them. Or theyíll miss me.
September went by quickly this year. I was aware that it was, historically, at least, the last of the summer months. Maybe I was busy trying to squeeze that dog day juice out of those
final weeks. Itís been another good summer. Probably due to the global warming phenomenon that will bring the inevitable death of humankind, as well as lots of other kinds. Autumn is now here in all itís beauty.
Sometimes, it lasts a few months. Othertimes, winter drops like a brutal, or occasionally delicate, curtain of ice. We will just keep going. Spring will come.