Through a Glass, Oddly

An imprisonment of no walls,

And of no escape.

Darkness, seeming constant.

 

Yet still some light comes,

And still I will see

The edges of his ways.

 

Oh God, darkness visible.

Thunder, perfect mind.

And bless this new existence of mine.

A Thunderstorm over Rome

As suddenly as I was woken by the first a second crack, thud and thump went racing through the still, night atmosphere. It was as though the night sky were being savoured in two by a gigantic whip. The thrill that raced through my veins, penetrating every corner of my sleepy body, filled me with immense excitement.

Every time my body was about to surrender to its sleepy endorphins, thunderclaps catapulted it back into reality. Once conscious again it seemed as though I had known the clap was coming. It was as though time began to move like a pendulum, swinging between various states of consciousness.

This continued for what seemed an eternity, while outside rain began to pour ferociously, calming the anguished clouds. Eventually all that could be heard was the monotonous patter of rain on soggy ground and my consciousness escaped again and curled itself into a fetal position until it awoke to a sunny morning.

Between 25 and 950 – A short and painful alternative to the Friday night fish and chips.

Last night. 25 pounds ticket.
‘Madam Butterfly’.
Stuck in the car on the motorway.
Friday night on M5, well dressed, prepared to enjoy passion, love, a bit of cultural post modernism wrapped up in intellectual conversations and wine.
As Lucie said… ‘ready to expand my horizons.’
I promise myself I am not going to comment on the huge plastic glass that came from the bar with semi-red wine, or the toilets at the Roses Theatre without paper, the concert hall decorated with green carpets, red chairs and blue walls.
George said I shouldn’t have followed the London Fashion Week.
Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra.
On the stage: Coke, labelled whiskey, photocamera, Clarks, TV, cigarettes without smoke.
Not a show for children, Freddie.
Cio-Cio San struggling to take her clothes off on her wedding night.
A chewing gum Pinkerton.
Spectators falling asleep behind me.
On my left, somebody crying at the end, wiping her eye with the theatre’s toilet paper.
Finally, everybody happy to go home.
Went to bed with a sourly taste in my mouth, from the wine I suppose.
Spent half a night watching online videos with Maria Callas and Angela Gheorghiu.
I need to start saving for that 950 pounds ticket ‘La Traviata’ at Covent Garden.
The pianist’s long fingers saved the show! For me.

A North Wind over the Bay

They come down here every morning early, just after sunrise, and judge the mood of the sea; generous, hostile, selfish, placid, forgiving, it could be any of these.  When skies are cloudless and a pink glow rests along the eastern horizon, as the darkness shrinks away and the light grows to fill the arc of the bay, then the promise is made.  A sharp north wind nips the noses and freezes the feet but the sea still smiles and invites them in.  A fine day, it whispers, cloudless, sun soaked, yet white horses are already galloping across the surface of the sea and the promise has lost its gilt edge.  Instead, a rough ride is promised to anyone daring to step on board.  Nets are lying on the quay.  Pots are being loaded, chains unfastened and ropes unfurled.  Engines splutter and, choked with fumes, cough and leap into life as the white foam edges the tide.  Cats prowl along the quay tempted by the fishy aroma, content to settle and wait for the return of the boats.  At the end of a cloudless day, when the wind has turned to a stiff breeze, the fleet returns and pulls up on the shore, letting go of its slippery, shining catch.  Then the circling gulls swoop while the cats still wait patiently.

Then the holiday makers come, licking ice cream cones, braving the chill in summer vests and sandals, goose bumps popping up on their naked limbs.  The fruits of the sea add a pungency to the sickly sweetness of rum and raisin and eyes squint seawards, as the queues grow for the evening trip around the bay.  Sea shore smells of seaweed, fish offal, diesel and suntan cream mix with the aroma of frying chips and spilt beer, all adding their contribution to the atmosphere of this once peaceful haven.  Still the sun shines and still the wind blows.  The wary wrap robes around frozen shoulders and stand in the lea of the wind, grasping hungrily the welcome heat of the dying sun.  The pink glow on the western horizon flushes the white walled houses, as the last gleam sips into the sea and azure turns to navy.  Lights lie along the harbour wall and music streams from a dozen bar room doors.

On Dunkery Beacon

The wind whips the heather heads, turning them from a glorious purple to a barren bleakness in preparation for winter.  The sky scuds above the whaleback of the beacon, diminishing the scale of the landscape by its immensity.  Clouds rush across the blue arc, blotting out the sun and staining the land with splashes of darkness, when the wind rushes the weather onwards in the teeth of the late lost hurricane. This is Welsh weather, grey misted, the land hovering above the sea is still shrouded in the remnants of last night’s storm.  The trees bend to the east, broken branches littering the ground.  The journey becomes hazardous, yet exhilarating.

The land is laid out as a patchwork, a tapestry of sea and sky, the hills and valleys a folded cloth of contours, layer upon later stretching out before me, beside me, behind me.  On this beacon spot, where long ago fires were lit as a warning when strangers threatened the security of its territory, the fortress now stands solid against the gale which ripples its heather blanket, and the lights and shades of late summer draw contours around its hidden history.  A text book is laid out before me, a story book, to be read and enjoyed.  Here a human life shrinks to that of an ant, pursuing its destiny, anxiously energetic, ignorant of the stories which are written here in geological time.

Beaches

Last Tuesday we did an exercise. Rick suggested (I think) we write about taking a walk, perhaps along a beach, and change from one mood to another. This is the result, although I have modified it somewhat from the rougher original.

Perranporth, Polzeath, all the beaches of Cornwall: people gather there en masse on sunny days in summer. It is as if an oil tanker had struck a rock somewhere and smothered the sand with animate, bubbling, oil. The hedonism, the laughter, the flash and buzz of excited children, as lovely as it is, can overwhelm. I need to walk away. I need to climb the hill to get above it all, to throw my desperation into the void between sea and sun.

I walk without shoes. I need to feel the stones, the broken shells and sharp grass, under my pampered feet. I need to feel lungs pumping heavily, a rapid exchange of gases, salt air replacing anger and frustration, the vast sky displacing claustrophobia. I need to feel the dizzying fear of the vertical when it is close enough to touch. I need them all. I need them to wipe the world’s slate clean. I need emptiness.

When I reach the highest point, it is all but gone. It is like an agitated child that has finally given in to exhaustion and coiled in gentle sleep. I pull across his blanket, stroke his hair and lower myself onto a tussock. I sit and stare. I watch the wave-sets, sneaking in to shore as if under a carpet, coming to the end of the journey upon which the storm had set them days ago. I see them throw themselves onto the sand and rocks, exhausted, spent. Far out I see the gulls; I see them gliding, without effort, like paper, caught in the breeze. I watch the horizon, looking for the curvature of the Earth. I get up and continue on.

When I am able, I descend to another beach, where I am alone. There are no attractions. There is no food, no drink, no cheap plastic toys. This is too far to walk for families and their facsimiles of home. There is nothing for them here. There is only wet sand, soft like marzipan. It is a cool poultice for my feet. The waves rush in and greet me with kisses. I kneel and baptise myself to ward off the hot sun.

A lone kite-surfer hops and skips his board at the edge of the breakers. He is a hunter. His kite is a great bird that he has caught and is now trying to wrestle out of the sky. He leaps and it carries him high, high above the waves, high above the spray, high above the floating gulls. As he crosses the sun I think of Icarus, but he lowers gently onto the glittering water, and keeps moving. At this moment, I know I am ready to return.

New Gospel Fragment Discovered

And it came to pass that Jesus enter the town of Bethsaida.

Immediately a crowd gathered around Jesus wanting to know news about fashions currently popular in Jerusalem (filthy robes), as well as the latest scandals involving King Herod (horse concubines).

Then someone asked Jesus, ‘Rabbi, what is the correct way to live rightously and worship God?’

And Jesus said, ‘listen to this parable and learn its lesson.’

A man got his wife a present for her birthday. He placed it in a large box, wrapped it in brightly coloured paper and gave it to her. 

Delighted, she opened it and looked inside: in there was a pile of washing up her husband wanted her to do. 

When she appeared ungrateful towards the gift and had steadfastly refused to do the aforementioned washing up, the husband emptied the contents of a wastepaper basket over her head.

He then made her wear the same wastepaper basket on her head for the next 30 years.

‘This is like God and his relationship to you’, Jesus said. ‘He gives you the gift of life and asks you to obey his laws: thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, etc. When you do not obey him, such as not doing his washing up, he will punish you by making you wear a wastepaper basket on your head for an extended period of time.’

 ‘Or sometimes he’ll punish you in other ways, like making you eat wood shavings, or having only ants as friends.’

‘God can do these things because He Loves You.

Jesus then rose and left the area, striding triumphantly into the sunset like a young Richard Burton.

However, the effect was spoiled when he fell into a deep hole after just ten yards.

And the people could not get him out that night, so they lowered an ass into the hole to keep Jesus company.

And the people strapped to the beast various games for Jesus to play, lest he became bored with the ass’s general conversation.

But by the next morning and their time of rescue, Jesus and the ass had forged a special friendship that lasted until the ass found someone more interesting to talk to.