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

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 6. Fear

Heads of Derek
The Derek heads I made to place under my bed.

I imagine you who have followed this Derek story think it to be just a story, a made up piece of slightly odd fiction. It’s not though. It is all true. Or at least was at the time to me. To the left is a photo of the Derek heads I made, out of old bed sheets, pillow foam and strands of my own hair. They were made to protect me from the real Derek in the loft. Fifteen of them in all.

I am a coward. I pretend to be brave. I do all sorts of stupid and humiliating things to pretend to myself and others that I’m brave, but I’m not.

I don’t have my brain operated on, not because I’m brave and can live with the alien, but because I’m absolutely terrified of some bloke rummaging around inside my head with a glue gun.

I deal with things by turning them into stories, jokes, games, things not to be taken seriously. I couldn’t tell anyone I was really afraid there was a man living in my loft, they’d think I was mad. So I turned Derek into an odd poem, which I performed on stage whilst wearing a large blonde wig. I then turned it into a silly song I recorded on an old children’s Fisher Price tape recorder. The guitarist from the Rude Mechanicals  created a riff for it and it became the song that the band now play. All to deal with Derek.

No one knew how really scared I was of him.

So the Derek story had to have an ending where I somehow dominated Derek, turned him from the large dark presence watching me from the loft, to a silly lovable character I could deal with.

To be continued… Part 7.

Derek part 5. Pink and Naked

Derek crouched painfully in my loft

Derek is a big man, he must be he’d been making such a lot of noise up there in my loft. I could picture him as I lay naked and shivering under my duvet, still drying off from the bath. I could picture him naked like me, and vulnerable, a big man crouched painfully in the tiny corners of my loft.

What did he eat? How could he survive up in my loft with nothing to eat? Well he eats the dust and bugs to survive of course, and drinks the water from the hot water tank. I breath in deeply remembering the smell of sweat in the loft, that was the smell of Derek. I imagine his pink bulky body filling that dark space above my head.

But then I think to myself, what if Derek were to come down from my loft to live with me in my flat? What then?

To be continued… Part 6.

Derek part 4. Truth

Derek
Derek - the man in my loft

Truth is an awkward thing don’t you think?

When I started telling you this story I said it would be the truth about Derek, and I am trying very hard to tell you the full truth. But it’s slippery. My memory has wobbly parts. I remember when I came round I didn’t know who I was, I had to piece myself back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Remembering what a bath was, remembering how to get out of it, remembering that there was a world on the other side of the bathroom door. So much stimuli hitting me, using me as a punch bag. Such a strenuous and desperate process fitting each piece into the correct space, and knowing which pieces to ignore because they’re part of a different jigsaw altogether.

How long did I lay in the bath? How much water did I cough up? How long did it take me to open the bathroom door? Truth is supposed to be “in accordance with fact” as it says in my computer dictionary here. Me on my own alone in my flat, entirely dependent on subjective experience percieved through my own battered senses, ordered in my error riddled brain, how can I ever be in accordance with fact? How can I alone ever tell the full truth?

It is just as well then that I was not alone that night, for the fact is I had a man in my loft.

I decided to call him Derek.

To be continued

Part 5.

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.