14. Betwixt and Between

Walking through a woodWednesday 29th August 2020. Just back from Wales.

It is the woods you know, the woods and the ferns and the river that feel most like home, not the house. The way the trees cling to the hillside, their roots grabbing at the toppling rocks, the lichen coating their arms with a silver skin. They shout so deeply it can’t be heard but it turns my insides. They talk and talk, muttering secrets. The first fit I can remember having was in a woods in Wales like this, maybe that is why its ghosts are so powerful.

I crouch in the mud and hang on to the trees trying to stop myself from falling completely, the dogs hover round me nervously. A rush of adrenalin, I breath in as deeply as I can as if to breath in the wood. Vast moments containing too much of everything enclose me, un-managable stuff, colour, sound, light, texture, smell, too much to cope with. My face hangs just above the mud, reflections in the water dazzle my eyes, memories surround me, mismatched, not making sense, I taste the air, I would not miss this experience for all the money in the world!

Of course I gave up believing in witches, fairies and trolls in the woods years ago, as one is supposed to, but i know here there is something big, something powerful, something that breaths and contains all breath.

When I can stand again we follow the river through the woods to the beach. And then there is the sea. I cry when we reach the sea, as i always do, something in me is not strong enough.

I want to make things that are like the woods, things/situations that are magic. A threshold, betwixt and between, somewhere where the self is lost into the moment.

So here I am now, back in London, trying to straighten out crimped thoughts, drowning in cheap wine, watching strange insects crawl across my keyboard. I am homesick for the trees and keeping myself busy.

Busy doing what exactly?

Explaining that I am a Twilighter, as is Steve. ‘Twilighter’ is the official tittle given to us, first by the arts council, then by everyone as we started to become invisible.

I live in a basement flat on Talgarth Road. It was once a council property back when there were council properties. Officially now I am a squatter, but no one will go to the effort of trying to get me out. There are a lot of us here on Talgarth road. The properties are in bad condition, the road is slowly collapsing into the cellars beneath it, there is no money in buying them up and developing, best just to pretend they are not here. So the buildings became invisible and gathered invisible people, Twilighters, those with problems, illnesses, things that can’t be cured easily, those society would rather not have around.

Now Elsie is definitely not a Twilighter, a very respectable lady indeed these days. She lives in a very respectible flat off the main road, just round the corner from Barons Court. We used to be good friends,  but it seems that has changed.

It was when she realised she couldn’t find Abel that I first noticed the change in her. She searched down the tunnels for him, she was determined, I got worried about her wondering along the tracks of the Piccadilly line in the dark. Then one day I saw her and she looked an absolute state, ill and dirty, coughing and wretching. I asked her what had happened but she wouldn’t tell me. After that she seemed to get very career minded, stopped mentioning Abel so much, stopped talking to me much at all, I started becoming as invisible to her as I am to most respectable citizens.

Or perhaps it was my talking to shouting trees that has freaked her out. Still being invisible has its advantages.

Previous:

13. The Alter

12. Malformed and Obscene

11. Her Pet Project

A Secret, an Old Story and a Whispering Maggot

Tulip growing from bulbThe story is about a friend called Lucy I knew at school, but it is also a very very old story, told thousands of times, probably as old as history.

Lucy was obviously very clever, she had been dumped in the Special Units at school because of her troublesome behaviour and managed to get out of them a term or two before  I did. Lucy lived with her mum in a tiny flat on a council estate. Her Mum was an alcoholic with mental health issues, there was no Dad. Lucy was a superb shoplifter, who whenever caught would deliberately breath so hard and fast she’d give herself a seizure. If she did this at school I was always the one the teacher chose to sit with her, I don’t know why, my epilepsy wasn’t diagnosed till much later.

Lucy was tall, dark haired, creamy skinned, high cheekboned and beautiful, which is what caught Richard’s eye.

Richard was very In with the In crowd. He was cool, fashionable, good looking, good at sport, not all that bright but then being too bright would have spoilt the image. Richard was in the middle band at school, being a very middle kind of chap, and it was his class Lucy managed to move up in to from the Special Units, and where I followed later.

I remember the biology class with maggots. The screams as they were thrown across the room, boys trying to stick them down girls shirts. I remember Lucy being cornered by Richard and a maggot, her squealing, him with the maggot between his thumb and forefinger and a sneer on his lips. This may have been where the romance started, I don’t know.

Lucy asked me into the girls changing room for an important talk. “I’m going out with Richard!” she said in an excited whisper “but you mustn’t tell anyone, it’s a secret”. I knew why it was a secret, she was a Special, like me. If you came from the Units you were a Special and there was nothing you could do to change that. A fashionable boy like Richard could not be known to be dating a Special.

Lucy was crazy about Richard. In love. They slept together. For 15 she was very sexually confident, I remember her once brashly informing the biology teacher, as he tried to demonstrate how girls walk,  that girls and boys were different not because of the way they walk but because “he has a penis and she has a pussy”. She  of course told me the details of her and Richard’s love life, as teenage girls do tell their friends. She was so happy how could she resist telling me? And Sasha, also from the Units, and a few other friends that could perhaps keep a secret.

The relationship went on for over a year. Lucy arranged it so she had lookouts, so her and Richard could have a snog behind the bike sheds without anyone finding out. Richard didn’t mind Lucy’s friends from the Units knowing, as we didn’t count. The secrecy excited her obviously, but still she longed to be accepted as equal. In class Richard became increasingly cold and cruel towards her, she’d often be in tears after School.

Eventually of course, as maggots munch and school girls gossip, the secret slid out. Fashionable people were sniggering at Richard in the corridors, whispering about him in the Gym. To think that he was seeing her!

What could he do but create a scene? Demonstrate publicly his contempt for her.

It was Friday afternoon break time, a hot summers day. Lucy, Sasha and I had dumped our bags on the grass in a pile outside the music huts and were lounging on the grass a few feet away.

A football is kicked over on to the bags, Richard comes running after it, but instead of retrieving the football he kicks Lucy’s bag into the air.

“Richard, that’s my bag!”  Lucy giggles, hoping that Richard is going to pay her some attention.

Richard carries on kicking it.

“Stop it Richard”

“Why?” he says, “it’s just cheap crap like you”.

“Richard?”

Lucy runs forward to try and grab the bag, by now a crowd has started gathering round and cheering Richard on as he dribbles the bag between his feet. Lucy reaches forward and grabs Richard’s arm, he pushes her off, she tries again, he knocks her to the ground. She’s lying there crying looking up at him with big puppy dog eyes. He kicks the bag into her stomach hard and spits on her.

“Fucking slapper!” he shouts “get back to the Units you stupid dirty whore!”.

Laughing and cheers come from the audience as Richard struts off.

Lucy stays lying on the floor, her head buried in her arms, panting. I try to calm her down, get her to stand up. The audience disperse, not wanting to be seen as responsible for what’s happening. She can’t get up but roles over into a crouching position. I sit there next to her, not a lot I can do now. Snot and tears and saliva merge into a constant trickle flowing from her chin, she is shaking, swaying, gulping and choking, turning every colour and eventually blacking out. I just sit there. I know it will pass, as all things do.

I knew also that there were planted little maggots in our heads munching on brain matter for the rest of our lives, and the maggots whisper  “No one can love you, because you’re just a stupid dirty whore from the Units.”

Texting from the Death Bed

There I am, knickers torn apart*, lying on the table with a tall dark stranger pressing down hard on my groin. For 15 minutes. It hurts.

We discuss tea and the weather.

He offers to show me revealing pictures of my brain, but then the camera screen stops working. He starts looking at another screen, a computerised 3d image of a skull from various angels. Impressive.

“Is that me?” I ask

“No” he says, “that’s another patient”

And I feel jealous. How dare my surgeon be considering someone else whilst he’s still finishing my operation!

Now days you can use mobile phones in hospitals**. How odd this is. There I am forbidden from moving my body but I’m still able to answer my phone. I have a fancy phone now so I can also use email, Facebook, camera, as if nothing was wrong. Good in some ways as 5hours of being very awake and only able to move your arms is difficult. Bad because the temptation to  Facebook/Twitter/ text the world to death with a running commentary is overwhelming. Think I may facebook/skybe my next operation, sneek the phone into the operating room, even skype my own death!

In the shower this morning I looked down at my body and thought “wow, a tiny tube is put in an artery in my right leg and is fed through all the way up to my brain. That is amazing!” But this time it hurts more than last and I wonder how many more tubes my body can take.

After all I am basically fine.

*Luckily these are not my own knickers, they are one-use-only disposable knickers provided by the hospital. I don’t understand the purpose of them, they’re flimsy and see through.

**http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2146.aspx?categoryid=68&subcategoryid=162

Brain Porn 2 -The Grand Plan

Miss Roberts in a wedding dress and crownSo finally, after tearing my hair out over it for a whole year, I was brave and said yes to the operations to have the Alien removed from my brain (Brain Porn- Notes to Self) I was terribly pleased with myself for getting up the courage to do that. Then the hospital tell me if they start the operations but find they can only make the Alien smaller, not get rid of it all, then it may be more dangerous than if they’d just left it alone. Oh.

So I may just be left to rot.

Good news is it is unlikely to be causing dementia, bad news is it is likely to be cutting the link between my brain and my words.

But brains can adapt can’t they? I’m sure someone told me that black cab drivers brains actually physically enlarge when they do the knowledge (though that could have been my uncle John boasting). A doctor once told me that I was probably meant to be right handed but because the left side of the brain was damaged it decided to swap over and use the other side. So if I can do that with my dexterity I’m sure I could do it with words. If I just write and write and write, and read and read, and perform, and just keep going it’ll find a way to adapt, surely.  (It is compulsory that you agree with me here, the alternative is me screaming AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  which may never end )

So there is a plan. There must always be a plan. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous having a plan is to my circumstances, no matter what the chances of completing it, it has to be there and it has to be grand. And capable of being rehashed and re-presented as and when required.

The plan is to produce an album/Sci-fi detective novel. I had previously been planning to do a solo album on RIM Records, and a musical with the Rude Mechanicals. Then when I thought I was going in for the operations it was an album come novel in 8 parts linked to the operations. Now it is floating. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going to start it. Had a chat with the mysterious Erreth Sondabeng, borrowed some equipment and am going round recording sounds. I need sounds from underground, tunnels, underground water.

I think I want a rhythm tapped out on a table, that gets repeated at various points, on various different objects. Altered, distorted, transformed, lost, and brought back again. And the sounds of those objects should be tasted. In any single note there seems to be many many sounds so I ‘d like to explore the different sounds without worrying so much about key. Though I imagine its like colour and the possibilities are endless so you have to pin it down to a readymade system in the end, but I’m going to start with found noises and the tapping of objects and see where it takes me.

And it is still vaguely based on The Time Machine.

Note To the gentleman who read the  first Brain Porn blog and accused me of washing my undies in public:
Too right I am! Waving them in your face I am! Dirty no good private brain porn. Why? Why not? Because it doesn’t fit well into polite conversation, and if I write it here you don’t have to read it.

Derek – The End

Today has been a bad head day, and my brain is now all over the place making connexions where their are no connexions. The temptation on these days is to talk about it. I try to avoid having  much to do with people on these days, try to stay in and out of trouble, but sometimes the connexions seem so important its difficult. I just must make contact with…

Today I did some gardening and the plants knew me. Their electric greens and blues crawled inside me. They had a beat to them like a heart. They knew I couldn’t separate myself. I was weak and they were everything. My head clings on to hundreds of half remembered stories, something very very important, but what?

So maybe now is a good time to end the Derek Story, for Derek is very real in many ways and he knows me as the plants did today. I dream of sharing that with another human, but so far, although I have imagined friends have understood,  Derek is the only one who I can be sure really knows.

Have you ever been convinced of something even though you know it will sound like madness to others? Have you ever tried to cling on to your sanity whilst doing some serious tango with the alternative? Knowing for certain that there is something there that is vital to you? People ask me about Derek when they hear the song or the poem, they ask me what he symbolizes. He symbolises nothing. He is Derek. And I have a cunning plan for if he should ever venture down from the loft.

I’ll sit him in front of the TV and feed him on oranges and custard creams, on semilena pudding and rice crispies, on cucumbers and baked beans and mashed potatoes and monster munch and ice cream and apple pie and yogurt and more yogurt and more custard and cheese. I’ll feed him up till he is big and fat and huge. I’ll feed him until he is enormous! Then I’ll squeeze him into the tiny gap underneath my bed, so I can hear him SQUEAL whenever I go to bed at night.

THE END.

Cheshire Cat from Alice in WonderlandPostscript…

Derek part 3. Above the Bath

Eye looking through a peek hole
An eye looking through the hole above the bath

After that I noticed lots of tiny little holes in my ceiling. Whoever or whatever was up there was obviously spying on me. Watching me eat, watching me sleep , watching me get dressed, watching me…

One evening I was lying in the bath and noticed a hole in the ceiling directly above me. I was sure I could see an eye staring down. I tried to get out of the bath but couldn’t move. I was paralyzed, naked, lying there in the bath.

For just a moment it was fascinating, everything suddenly made sense. The bath water and I had a deep, intense love for each other as we swapped atoms, and everything was going to be wonderful.

Then snap – the sound of the radio playing in the next room. I didn’t have the radio on. No it wasn’t the radio, it was people in my flat talking about me, I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Suddenly the walls came alive and were walking towards me. The ceiling started collapsing,  crumbling into the bath. Then the part with the eye came to float just above my head. I was staring directly into the eye. It was reading my mind. It knew my  guilt.

The walls were laughing at me now, almost deafening laughs, the people’s voices had turned into a huge black raven, swirling around in the sky above.

“Remember me remember me remember me” came the voices

White white white bathroom walls, holes and cracks and yellow stains, breathing, everything breathing, all seeing, all knowing, remembering everything ever.

Not me, I’m , I am,  I, I, i, i. NO!

Nothing.

“Drown drown drown drown”

To be continued…

Part 4.

“And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all”

12ft x 8ft Oil Painting 1999
12ft x 8ft oil painting - I was going through a very weird phase! 1999

The other day there was someone banging at my door and ringing the door bell all night long, but the battery in the door bell is dead and when I peered through the blinds there was no one there.

I’ve increased the amount of Lamotrigine I’m taking – the number of hallucinations and seizures was getting ridiculous.

Now my heart keeps having moments of awkwardness where it forgets what its supposed to be doing and then remembers and starts again in a hurry. Are heart jolts a side effect of Lamotrigine? I dare not look at the information leaflet as I’m likely to pass out just from reading it. I feel faint in supermarkets if I read the effects of vitamin tablets!

As well as being an anti-convulsive, Lamotrigine is used as a mood stabiliser. Yet when I was last on a heavy dose I got really aggressive, even started a fight in the street for no reason!

Its curious how ones mood can be controlled by drugs. Even more curious when you require drugs to stay sane. Reality is such an awkward thing, can slip through the fingers. The senses take in so much stuff, so much information, its a constant struggle trying to work it all out, what is relevant and how this should be interpreted. A tablet that makes that easier, slows it all down to a reasonable pace, can only be a good thing, right? So why do I feel uncomfortable when I take lots of them?

Have I seemed different? More aggressive to anyone over the last couple of weeks? Have my blogs been extra violent?

I’ve  felt a compulsive need to watch the comedy Green Wing, and am now seriously worried that I may bare a striking character resemblance to Sue White, the lunatic staff liaison officer.

I’ve failed to panic over the imminent deadline for the Library sculpture, which is worrying.

Didn’t mention the ghost dog to the lady from Battersea Dogs Home. She disapproved of my garden (too overgrown) but warmed to me once she saw the Icon pictures on my wall. She thought this meant I was a Christian, which I imagine she is. I didn’t correct her. Like the ghost dog I don’t think the visions would have gone down well, and everybody feels the need to convert an Agnostic. My dad saw the Icon pictures and was very worried that I might have joined the Church. The very best way to rebel against my parents would be to become a practicing Christian, or even better a Born Again.

Well just so its clear, I’m not a Christian, though fascinated by the subject of faith, and I’m not a lunatic. My brain just has wayward tendencies. It has visions (and since they are more real than anything else I experience they cannot be ignored!) and it likes to make connections that aren’t there. So if there is a fan going it will hear it as voices, if there is a repetitive noise for a while it will keep hearing it even once the noise is silenced, if there are dog bones and doggy people about it will create a dog ghost. So I’m probably saner than the rest of you put together, but reality is an awkward thing.

Funny how blogs lend themselves to mentioning nonsense, “bollocks” as my sisters would say. Most of the time I do everything I can to hide it. I’ve taught classes in colour theory whilst thumb sized beetles roamed across my body. Despite my need to drink endless cups of tea no one noticed anything unusual.