Friday, January 25, 2008

I've lost my marbles part ii - let us speak of many things

My shrink wants me to write, in a very particular way. Whatever I feel in that instant, my thoughts, feelings, intuitions, hopes and fears, whatever comes into my head. I am supposed to keep a daily journal of this ‘stream of consciousness’. I’m struggling with this. Am I so structured, strictured, why do I find this so damned hard.

Of course at present I have the concentration span of a mayfly, but this is the opposite of concentration, it is intended to be free flow….a release, the putting down of mental burdens on paper to release them from the prison of my mind. But I can’t, I’m second guessing myself all of the time….

Instead my mind wanders back again to a time line. I need to know what happened and when, where I’ve been (in my head), in fact how long it’s been because this blurred and jumbled tapestry of time is killing me. I feel nauseated by it.

I think, only think mind, that the last time I was in the office was December the 20th. I have a recollection of going home and returning with the dogs and resigning and weeping and driving home with some vague intention to pack and leave for god knows where.

In the weeks before that I remember being admitted into hospital twice, once with my heart and them with pneumonia, a revolting surgery under local anaesthetic and an accident on the motor way, in the replacement Bongo (I’d had it for six whole weeks). I remember the latter because it was dramatic, turning round and round before smashing into the central reservation, I remember Charlie floating past, across the windscreen and looking at me quizzically en route. Thankfully the dogs were both shocked but uninjured.

After that is chaos. I have not the least idea what happened for the first week, I think that I must of slept mostly which balances the equation neatly considering the sleep that I can not find now.

Christmas and New Year were, well, just days in bed, not significant land marks on the featureless terrain of my calendar. I don’t remember shopping, although I did, of visiting the doctor, but I must have to renew my prescription, of changing the bed, doing the washing, eating…..but there’s evidence of all of these, clues cast around the kitchen and bedroom. Perhaps the shoe elves paid a visit? I wonder if I ventured into the living room this past month.

I mentioned that doors are unlocking on memories I don’t necessarily want. I’m not sure I’m happy with this version of me, what nerves this damned psychiatrist is exposing. Well there are other by product too.

We walk, a lot.

There is a path through the park lined with venerable sycamore so closely packed that they touch and tangle overhead and with their neighbours. We are on the 10pm shift, the pre snore potty run that the dogs have grown used to. It’s dark and we are alone.

And I am seeing ghosts.

It’s not as if I believe them but I can’t deny what my eyes reveal to me. Here comes an ethereal glimmer figure on a bicycle.

Imagine a pool or pond under a glabrous moon and the plop of a tossed pebble, the ripples, not seen, but inferred by silver and dark shadow. These were the wheels on the bicycle. The figure was made from similar stuff, transparent, a waif defined by haze and shimmer.

He rode past and gaily waived, I waved back.

A dog, a canine wraith, ran around and around the bole of a dark sycamore, its stardust tail tick tocking.

And from a round open litter bin clouds of pitch billow, far darker than the night, like bin bags, shards of midnight ripped and gathered in a fierce wind.

I’m unmoved, the dogs race amongst the trees and puddles and there’s nothing here to convince me that I should even quicken my step.

Whatever this twilight world is, whoever occupies it, means me no harm.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I've lost my marbles part i - sweet dreams

The bed has begun to breathe again. Rhythmically. In out, in out, it ripples in and out under my bum and back. I can hear it too, over and above the light breaths of the person by my side. Even though I’m alone, I’m not afraid, neither the bed nor the stranger are threatening, only there.

I lie with my eyes open, I think (I shall check in a moment) and watch the blinking red light on the ceiling. It swirls into the shadows and vibrates briefly in the corner of the dark bedroom before returning to the centre as I focus.

My eyes close, I think, and I wait to need the toilet again.

If I relax my grip on my thoughts and allow my subconscious to be the keeper of my night soul then anything can happen, unbidden thoughts will run riot. So I try to keep a measure of control, waking dreams.

A single daisy sandal sits atop the privet hedge by the gate of 56 Poplars avenue.

A few doors further down an elderly man stares incredulously at the bright red child’s sweater hanging from his guttering.

In the gutter by the pavement outside his garden is the child’s arm that once occupied it.

All down the street clothes and limbs litter the roadway, gardens and roofs as people emerge from their houses to stand aghast or sink to their knees and weep.

Poplars Avenue runs parallel to Canal Street, 3 roads down. Even so the terrific, terrible blast had dislodged roof slates and shattered windows. As they sat inside on a sunny Saturday afternoon the huge explosion had come as a complete surprise and most wandered outside in semi shock to confirm that they were indeed survivors.

The 6th of June, the day of the Ryland summer children’s fete There may be a war on but it will not dissuade the altruistic owner of Rylands from throwing the regular annual party for employee’s children and other less fortunate children of the borough.

There were games and sandwiches, fizzy pop and jelly and hats, and all of the children in their Sunday best.

Two days earlier the German pilot had dropped his half ton mine 2 miles further up Manchester Ship Canal. A waste in terms of his mission, it was intended for the harbour of Liverpool, to wait in the gloomy, turgid waters for a passing supply ship or perhaps an inbound troop ship from the USA. He may have been put off by the flack, or it may have been a mechanical failure, but he dropped it eventually on his return journey.

Canal’s do have slow currents, prompted by the opening and closing of locks downstream - and slowly but surely the mine made it’s way with the flow towards the centre of Warrington so far spared the worst of the blitz.

The mine made contact with the metal hull of a barge offloading at the pier of Rylands, only 50 yards from the seated children, and 20 yards from the finish line of the ongoing egg and spoon race, the egg and spoon race.

And 500 lbs of high explosive went about it’s ghastly business with ruthless efficiency.

Across the canal for 7 streets down people watched or found clothes and miniature human detritus flutter down out of a dumbfound smoke blacked sky.

I don’t want to but I glance at the clock. 4 am.

No worries, I may sleep yet.

But I shan’t so I try to take stock once again because even these black dreams are better than the bizarre offerings my other unconscious selves have to offer.

I think about the morning when I will get up and try to brush my teeth, and vomit because my gag reflex is accentuated. I don’t mind, oddly it settles my stomach for a little while, long enough to force down a little cereal, a few spoonfulls…’s just that I regret that my dental hygiene is going to pot.

It normally takes around 4 visits to the toilet in the morning before I feel confident enough to rush the dogs out of the house for our regular walk in the park.

Momentarily I am confused and try to concentrate, it suddenly seems important to remember whether yesterday was Christmas day, or is it today, and I eventually decide it is tomorrow. Why am I relieved? Because I have not missed it? I laugh to myself which disturbs the no one next to me who sits and gets out of the bed and leaves the room - and although I am not scared I hope I will not have to use the toilet for a little while after all.

I try to concentrate on the morning ritual, on the 8 pills I will take and the order I will take them in.

And listen to the music, to the back beat of my life, the rhythmic base playing in my pillow. At least this was an accomplishment and not another mystery. I had worked this out. At around 3 am the previous night I had become enraged that my neighbours were still playing reggae so loudly that I could hear/feel it in my pillow. Eventually plucking up the nerve and the need and had slipped into track suit bottoms and gone downstairs to complain. Only to find out that it stopped. 3 times I did this, with the same result. And 3 times when I got back into bed the beat remained in my pillow.

I lay there for a very long time before I understood that the beat was in my head. The beat of my heart, the pulse, the rushing of blood through the veins and arteries in my neck. I was hearing myself live.

If, only if, say, I give up on any notion of sleep (and why not, even though my eyes are full of grit I have not slept these previous 3 maybe 4 days or nights), I may get up briefly and call for the dogs. After all if it is Christmas day tomorrow we could wake up and greet the dawn together, it’s the only treat I have for them.

I close my eyes for a moment as the bed takes a deep breath, and I see a tiny white shirt floating down from the sky.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

through a glass darkly

I’m beginning to understand that memory is like a Russian doll, leastways memory that has been suppressed.

So much of what I (we?) remember seems to belong to someone else, as if I were reading about an alternate me in a novel. The memories are woolly, vague, assumed almost. So imagine my surprise when my psychiatrist began to unlock doors for me, onto whole dark vaults of specific memory.

Some are good, more are not - I’m sure I’m supposed to feel grateful but I feel rather as though I’ve been handed a box of spiders, and a key.

Apparently this is the way to deal with suppressed memory, suppressed grief, slowly but surely unlock it.

To be honest I’m not so sure.

I think I was happier mad.