Saturday, 30 October 2010

Harold's worries

It’s the end of October 2010.

So much of the life of the village is connected to the parish church, and yet Harold can’t bring himself to believe the central tenet of Christianity, so he is not a believer or a member of the congregation. A bell-ringer, yes – but not for religious reasons.

Harold is feeling very unsettled. For a while he has had a general sense of unease and a feeling that he can’t do the things he needs to do. This has been brought to a head by a few things coming together: publishing his last pamphlet – which has kind of freed up some time and “mental capacity” and led to a serious resolve to try at last to tidy up & clear out the spare room (and in preparation for that task he picked up a book called something like “Organising for the creative person” – which brought him to a temporary standstill by calling on its readers to look at their goals and priorities, whereas Harold had, he feels, only managed to keep on going by not looking at his true goals and priorities. He felt that he had abandoned any deeply held principles many years ago and had since then gradually let drop, one by one or sometimes in clusters, any aspirations he might once have held dear); by an article by the lady Curate in the parish magazine that exhorts the parishioners, again, to resist what she calls “busyness” when it stops us following “our heart’s priorities” such as learning the piano – exactly one of Harold’s long-lost, though not in his mind totally abandoned, intentions.

And the world appears to be going to the dogs in several major and fairly spectacular ways – climate change; the bankers apparently getting away with having brought to a head the financial crisis (is this the death-throes of capitalism?); the whole constellation of concerns about western people’s mental and physical deterioration – rampant obesity, an apparent almost total lack of cultural awareness among the population at large, acceptance , by the young especially, that sitting on one’s backside & living on “benefits” is an acceptable way of life, street violence accepted as normal, the daily deaths in Afghanistan that have not yet persuaded us or the United States to withdraw our troops and admit that war does not solve religious/political impasses…

Harold didn’t read a daily newspaper. He had begun to watch the six o’clock television news but was conscious that this was only a very partial (in both senses) way of maintaining broad awareness of outside events. And yet he had never got round to “trying out” the major papers – Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, he supposed – to see if any seemed to be written at the right level for him. He feared that they might in fact be far too “in depth” for him to cope with. As it was, on the occasions when he did buy a Saturday or Sunday paper, he was swamped by the sheer volume of the thing and took two or three days to wade through the various sections that took his interest. The others – Mail, Express – whatever political colour of their bias, seemed, from what he had seen, to be almost as superficial as the derided Mirror and Sun. And yet he felt ill-informed.

Spending a major part of his time on his poetry magazine, on drumming and bell-ringing, and with his non-scientific and vaguely literary background, he though of himself as a creative person, and yet he was intrigued by some scientific questions – for years he had wondered about such things as the nature of acidity, for instance, but had failed to grasp the answers that various scientific acquaintances had offered over the years, nor had textbooks seemed able to explain in any real way that he could grasp. And now he was intrigued by what little he knew of the Periodic Table, but didn’t know how to advance that knowledge.

And there was his daughter, and the way he was thickening around the waist from not taking enough exercise. Not to mention clearing up the garden.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Thing: a life through pistols – part the first

‘To actually possess the shiny little red pistol had seemed important, but now that he had got it, the other, bigger, heavy-looking pistol he’d seen in the window of the strange closed shop in the arcade began to feel like a symbol, rather – so maybe he didn’t need to actually purchase that, too. Maybe it was enough just to have seen it, to know it was there, just to be able to think about it (and it was nearly £100 – a sum he could spare, just, but all the same…); plus the fact that he would have to be lucky or very cunning in finding an excuse to go out and get back to the arcade before they left for home later this morning, and the shop might not take debit card payment, so he’d need to find a hole-in-the-wall, too. It began to seem impossible, anyway…so he decided to go back to bed (it was only a quarter to seven, and they both needed more sleep) and try to treat it as an idea to be exorcised, rather than a thing he had to have. After all, he did now have four pistols.’

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Harold on Angie

Harold was surprised to find himself annoyed that Angie seemed to have developed a self-protective aura. Maybe it had always been there and he had simply been too self-absorbed to notice it before, wrapped up as he had been in his own urgent needs. With her history, and with the two girls to look after, it would hardly be surprising if she had needed to grow this kind of reverse magnetic field round the three of them to repel predatory male attentions and keep them all safe. Not that the lummock of a son deserved to partake of the same protection, Harold thought. He supposed he should be glad that the universe was taking care of Angie in this way.

What irritated him was that it made him begin to question the innocence of his own motives. He had thought he simply needed to find a little warmth and shelter, to check that with the girls away Angie was coping on her own, and to remind her of his existence and continuing friendship. And she was not exactly wary of him, just gave the impression that he was not making any real contact. That if he had silently disappeared, she would not even have missed him an any way or been curious as to where he had gone, might well have no memory that he had been here. And yet she smiled and talked to him as she did her nails and put clothes away.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Still very raw, this

[Harold] On the life of the streets & envy

Green, everywhere green and, oh,
I don’t know the name of it.
Not the colour that hurts your eyes
but a wall of sound everywhere I turn
the colour of that big grasshopper all those years ago.
Life abundant doing its sappy thing.

Envious I am – the dream told me
when I woke from being first in a forties
black-and-white thing of sitting somewhere
talking about some kind of poster that could have been
for a movie or a new apartment block
a stone’s throw from Battery Park.

We’d wandered then, George and I
with some third party like the ghost
of that woman I was jealous of
and ashamed of it. Had I brought my guidebook?
- I had not, and I was made to feel I should’ve.
George led us on and up to what I knew somehow

was a walk-up, a diner, above the street
with its breeze-block storefronts and sound
and the smells. Men in hats, off-duty cops,
men in bow-ties, all sat at the long counters
minding their own lunches, and I, I felt an outsider,
uncouth, unversed in their ways, offending.

I woke then, realizing what I miss
now I’ve buried my life out here in the country -
the life of the streets, that fitting right in
in a place that doesn’t care who you are,
where you’re from, what you do just so long
as you don’t get in the way.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Harold Thing’s long Sunday & the abduction dream.

Harold just woke up at 3 AM from what he thinks of as the Abduction Dream. It felt familiar, as if he's dreamed a version of it before (and within the dream they talked about the fact that the abduction experience was one he’d been subjected to before.

Harold is reading How to Become a Buddha in Five Weeks, by Giulio Cesare Giacobbe (He thinks you’ll enjoy that fact and the flavour of the author’s name).

I think I may have read a little of it, and of Restoration London by Liza Picard, when I woke early yesterday morning before making the early morning cup of tea for me & Roz. Then I went back to bed & dozed on and off for some time, desultorily reading some more. Roz’s son Tony & his wife were due to pay us a morning visit, so we knew we couldn’t lie in bed too late – they usually arrive at about eleven or so when they call on a Sunday.

I also at some point in the early hours finished inking in a star & circle design on the skin of my big djembe drum. The Macinneses arrived as I was topping of the seed & peanuts in our back garden bird feeders. The four of us sat and chatted over cups of tea for probably a couple of hours - about garden birds, television programmes, the village Quiz and the dearth of honeybees.

When they left we prepared and the lunch joint and vegetables, having another cup of coffee and a glass if sherry while the meal cooked, Then I got engrossed in the first section of an extended History Channel programme about the development and testing of the American atom and hydrogen bombs, narrated in a completely chillingly matter-of-fact tone by the actor who played Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series. His name eludes me. We ate lunch in the kitchen, me occasionally getting up to keep an eye on the programme still running in the sitting room, and getting quite depressed by it.

By the time the programme finished Roz was dozing and I went to the bathroom and gave my beard the trim I knew it needed, then I sat and wrote replies to half a dozen poetry magazine submissions, until at about four thirty I put the kettle on for another cup of tea. I was due to open the bell tower at Pylle church at five thirty for our normal ringing at the monthly service there. After tea and a couple of fairly stale scones I went off to do my duty.

We watched more television and I started the washing-up, managing to cut my right forefinger quite deeply on the carving knife and retiring with it wrapped in kitchen towel, leaving Roz to complete the chore. We sat through a succession of programmes, me with my afflicted limb held up in the air to stop the bleeding – the Time Team exploring one of Henty VIII’s lost palaces, a documentary about the development of fruit-growing, a bit of Lost, and a silly but funnish Fringe episode with an alien monster to be tracked down and overcome. Then to bed.

The dream began with me picking up shiny copper coins planted by a couple of “agents” of a kind of vaguely devilish cult to lure me into their clutches. It worked, and I was soon seated in a kind of cubicle room undergoing their attempts to brainwash me. As I said, I was half-aware that this ordeal was something I had been through before. The inventiveness of my dreaming mind in the range of characters the “organisation” produced to persuade me to fall in with their initiation was very impressive. Difficult to recall or describe exactly what was happening, but each new face managed to imply a different kind of vague threat of unpleasantness if I didn’t continue to sit there and submit to their suggestions. Eventually we reached the point in the “script” (I made it clear to them that I had been picked up and subjected to this ordeal before and that we were all just wasting our time going through it again) when I would be required to go to Montana for the next phase, when I woke up – comfortable in bed and relieved that it had all been “only a dream” and that my bandaged finger had not started to bleed again.

It seemed important to try to record the dream and my busy day before I went back to sleep and forgot it.

You'll notice that Harold and "I" have become, er, conflated. You know what? - I don't care (and neither, I suspect, does Harold.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Losing it

Harold was having a think while he sat and watched Mrs Thing have an egg sandwich at Costa. Harold was thinking retirement lets you attend to your soul. The phrase “I had something as a child that I lost” came into his head – a quote from a book called “Finding one’s way with clay” by Paulus Berensohn that Harold had come across when he was a librarian a few decades ago.

Since he had become seriously interested in Tarot reading, Harold had been thinking about the nature of randomness. Which cards ‘came up’ in a Tarot reading seemed completely random – but we don’t seem to know what that means. Harold recalled (vaguely) reading a book about chance and the tossing of coins that had convinced him that chance is a very different thing than we normally take it to be, but he had forgotten the details. Actually reading a meaning in the cards in a Tarot spread was also a sort of random operation (like seeing pictures in a fire, or Leonardo’s thing about seeing pictures in an old flaking wall). Harold had been worried by a criticism he’d found somewhere on the internet, of a well-respected Tarot writer, for advocating “cold reading” techniques as part of her Tarot practice – picking up clues from body-language for instance, about a person’s state of mind, in order to “improve” the relevance of a card reading.

Randomness came into the use of sandboxes by psychiatrists, too, and the way a shaman would see a message in the seemingly accidental pattern of cast bones or shells he used for divining, but also in Rorschak inkblots and in the similar but different child psychologists' use of a toybox to bring out a story from a child too young to talk, maybe.

“Mommy, don’t make me burn my toys”

Harold thought about the way he felt he had given up reason and logic: at school he had been encouraged to be logical. As a slightly older child he had seen what he would now call “the occult” as so much mumbo-jumbo: now he was buying and studying Tarot cards as a way to grasp something non-logical. He could afford the luxury of buying Tarot cards and books, within reason, for “self-discovery” or “self-development”. He had done his duty by his Dad and his schoolteachers and the world - getting a qualification, having a career, supporting a wife and child – and now he was entitled to a bit of self indulgence and to try to make sense of Life, The Universe and Everything, the best way he could.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

here are some of the forthcoming entries that are in Harold's mind

Harold Thing goes to the university

Harold Thing & Joe Whatsit

Harold’s bike

Harold Thing’s flame

Harold recycles

Harold in the belfry

Harold with the drummers

Harold among the astrologers

The Things’ day out

Harold Thing’s recipes

Harold Thing, poet

Harold on the phone with Millicent

Harold’s reading list

The history of Harold (Thing)

The Things’ garden