The Weight

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the-weight

I have been divorced for 15 years and have lived alone for the majority of them. Some 9 years ago the most bizarre thing (or things) happened to me. I started work at a new facility. My partner was and is the most attractive, intelligent, compassionate and humorous person that I have ever met. Until that point I did not believe in love at first sight. I do now. We formed a  very close bond very quickly. I’m not the type at all but I wanted to seduce her as well. It was both mental and physical….and there is a factor that we  can’t explain.

I sensed it was a two way street. She soon confirmed this by telling me how she felt about me. I told her I felt that way too. She was both surprised and delighted but they were stuck between a rock and a hard place re. her being married. It took us all of their strength to keep tour hands off each other. We talked about it all the time. We couldn’t explain how it happened. We couldn’t believe the strength of the bond. It almost hurt. Only humour saved us.

I got transferred to a higher position 11 months later….but it was in a different town. We were devastated. In the car park after my last shift, we broke down. We broke down then embraced for an eternity, none of us caring if anyone saw us or not.

For the next 8 years we emailed each other daily. From her emails I wasn’t 100% sure if she was still in love with me. My fear of rejection prevented me from asking her. Our emails were both deep and humorous with definite romantic undertones. Just recently I sensed that she wasn’t travelling well. I emailed her and  asked. I got no reply. I sent 3 emails a day for 3 days then figured, ‘Maybe she needs some space.’ I was right. Having said this I sure felt like I was carrying a weight.

2 days later I received an email from her apologising for not writing back sooner but all of the hustle and bustle of  Xmas and New Year got on top of her. I wrote back a reassuring and encouraging letter. Instantly we were back to our daily emails. By  the end of the month….and I think it was brought on by my recent concern for her….I decided to tell her that I still felt the same way about her.

I didn’t jump straight in. I warned her. I started by saying that I wanted to say something to her but I’m scared….and I was. Petrified. I was carrying a heavy weight. The build-up took 8 emails each over 8 days. When I came to writing the email it was 11.55am. I was my normal humorous self but spoke of our bond. I said everything except, “I love you.” I spent the rest of the day pacing the house, smoking heavily, going on Facebook and trying to write.  An hour passed. No email. 2 hours passed. The same. I kid you not, dear reader, it was the longest 4 hours of my life

It came to just after 4pm and it arrived. She had been at work. I was a nervous wreck as I opened it. I read it, mentally hearing her voice. Her sentiments echoed mine and she referred back to our time at work, the strength of our bond and how we still couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t contain myself but I couldn’t write back immediately as I was shaking so much. I had 3 cigarettes instead and went and laid down, reflecting on her response and working out my next letter. 3 hours flew past. I got  up and it was just after 7pm.

I wrote my letter diplomatically except on 2 occasions I wrote, “I LOVE YOU!!!” She wrote back and did everything except say that she loved me. She spoke in past tense. I wrote back this morning around 8.30am it is now just after 4pm. She may be at work.

We have communicated in public on Facebook today but she hasn’t opened my reminder inbox letters re. my email. (We always alert each other to emails that way). She is also able to quickly zip onto Facebook at work. I have my suspicions that she’s trying to word her next email. Again, I am pacing, smoking and going onto Facebook. Again, it’s a weight.

She has recently started work 3 minutes from my house. She promised me that she will visit after work for a coffee and a chat….and obviously hysterical laughter. She said once I had settled her down post Xmas that it was in the bucket list. That day can’t come soon enough. She has her own life to live. All I’ve been dealing with is missing her presence for 8 years.

I think that this only serves to make the weight heavier. Cross you fingers for me, dear reader. I have never felt like this before.

Warehouse Love

warehouse

Harry Thompson had low level bipolar disorder. He was divorced and worked as night-shift worker with  one other person at a small warehouse. One night he arrived he had a new partner. Her name was Di Harrison. Their eyes instantly locked. Harry couldn’t stop staring  at her. She was gorgeous in a classy way. Di was also married.

They did a ’round’ every hour. In between times they’d go to the office and mess about on the computers. Harry and Di began chatting and within weeks they were telling each other things that the had told nobody else, not even Harry’s ex wife or Dis’husband.

One night as they were their final round, just 10 minutes before morning staff came on, they turned in opposite directions and were nose to nose. Without saying a word they embraced and kissed passionately for quite some time. They left work without saying a word to each other.

None of them slept well that day. The next night after the workers had gone Harry said, “That was an interesting interlude this morning.” Di replied, “I’ve been thinking about it for ages Harry.” Harry sheepishly said, “So  have I.” Thus began a workplace romance, which only served to strengthen their bond.

Harry told his Psychiatrist who was stunned. “You obviously don’t know me as well as you thought.” The Psychiatrist replied, “Obviously not. I can’t tell you how to run your life but  how does it make you feel?” Harry replied, “Fantastic but I know it’s going no further.” His Psychiatrist was pleased to hear this.

One night in the office, Di said to Harry, “My husband’s going away to a conference this weekend. You should come visit.” She was constantly raising her eyebrows as she spoke. Harry knew what she meant. He leaned towards her and said, “It can’t happen Di.” Di asked, “Why not?” Harry replied, “Logic. We’d eventually get caught, it would ruin the best friendship that I’ve had and everybody would lose.” Di stared pensively for some time then eventually said, “You’re right. Things are lovely as they are….bu it’d be fun though.” Harry said, “Oh, I know it would be fun. I’ve thought about it many a time.” Di said, “Me too.” Neither of them were embarrassed, so close was their bond.

One night Harry  had a different partner. Apparently Di was off on stress leave. She was also working a second job. Harry put it down to that but was still worried. After sending 6 emails he decided to let her reply in her own time. This proved wise. 2 days later she explained that she was basically run down. He told her that in future he was to tell him if she was feeling run down and he would organise recreation leave before getting into such a state. She emailed back almost immediately and said that he was right and that she would.

Their romance continued for 23 years when they retired at the age of 60.  They both cried throughout their final shift. They emailed each other at least once daily. The jokes and innuendos didn’t let up.

2 years later Harry got a phone call from Di. She was crying. Her husband, Tom had suffered an unexpected and fatal heart attack. Harry consoled her. It took 4 hours. For several months the emails were sombre until he received one that threw him a curve. Di was straight to the point. She said she was lonely and would it be feasible for her to move in with him. Harry went through the roof. “Of course you can!” He exclaimed.

Harry and Di saw their days out in the same manner that they started.With humour and innuendo, without fear of being caught having an affair. They were now a couple.

The cards eventually fell the way that they should.

 

Tainted Painter

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memory

By the age of 25 Mick Rafferty was a highly successful and sought after artist. By the time he was 30 he had his own agent to manage his affairs such as hangings, orders, exhibitions and so forth. He was the talk of the town and attended countless meetings statewide. He got by on 3-4 hours sleep a night. Mick was basically running on adrenaline.

When he was 35 his world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She passed away 6  weeks later. It all happened so quickly that Mick was in a spin.  When he first went home he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know where to sit. He kept  turning to talk to his wife and making two coffees. Painting wasn’t an option.

His agent was very understanding. He would check on Mick every few days, telling him to forget about painting until the time is right. “It’s the least of your worries, Mick.” As days became weeks, both Mick and his agent became worried about Micks mental state. It was deteriorating. They both noticed that Mick was becoming shakier. His agent notice mumble something, he assumed to his late wife, under his breath.

One afternoon Mick began to sweat profusely. His legs went to jelly, his head started spinning and he was nauseous. He thought he was going mad. Once the feeling passed  he had to go and buy cigarettes. He got half way  to the shop and the sensation began again. Mick quickly pulled the car over at the side of the road for half an hour. Eventually  he bought 10 packets of cigarettes to minimise his driving. He lived on delivered pizza.

After about 6  of these episodes Mick made an appointment with his GP. Mick told him his symptoms as the GP sat there looking disinterested until Mick mentioned the driving. The GP instantly pulled out his prescription pad. He wrote Mick a prescription for 25mg Valium twice a day if required. The highest prescribable dose. “You’re having very severe anxiety attacks, Mr Rafferty, which is perfectly understandable.” He advised Mick to take them only when needed as they were highly

3 days later Mick felt an attack coming on. He took the prescribed dose straight away. Just as Mick thought things were getting worse, he began to calm down. Soon he was calm. Not stoned. Just calm. If given to someone who is not suffering extremely high anxiety, this dose would knock them out. Mick went to the bathroom to splash his face with cold water. He looked in the mirror and noticed that his eyes were almost glowing red. He didn’t care. He felt calm.

Knowing that he had relief at hand for anxiety attacks saw him starting to paint again but he became a recluse. A total recluse. He told his agent who said that this was no problem.

Mick started  getting lonely. He began to post out invitations to his house to friends. He began doing it every 2-3 weeks. All of his friends smoked cannabis. Mick had no problem with this. The conversations were eclectic and everyone was open to each others opinions. Not once did Mick suffer an anxiety attack during these meetings or the days leading up to them.

As he didn’t smoke cannabis, after the gatherings Mick would roll the cannabis butts up in toilet paper  and flush them down the toilet. He would then scrub out the ash trays with hot water and detergent and soak them in disinfectant. He had a separate ash tray that he kept in his bedroom for his cigarettes. He would rinse his cigarette butts under water and bin them but would rarely wash the ash tray. Between gatherings his ash tray would sit on his coffee table. The sterile ash trays were stored in a cupboard.

One Friday his agent came to visit. He looked rather sheepish. Mick made him a coffee and they had a cigarette. Mick couldn’t take it and said, “Okay. Out with it. What’s up?” His agent told  him that the manager of the local art gallery wanted Mick to speak in front of 400 people at the Civic Centre about 5 works of his choice. Micks pulse started racing. His agent said, “They’re offering $2,000 for an hour. He wants you to pick the pieces this week.” Mick started sweating so dashed through and took 25mg Valium. His agent dropped his head. He knew what Mick was doing and it was him that had triggered it.

“Can you wait here for half an hour?” asked Mick.  “Of course,” said his agent. After a while Mick was calm. He agreed to do it on one condition….that he be given 20 front row tickets free (these were for his friends). “No problem,” said his agent. The following week his  agent came to pick him up to select the 5 pieces. Mick was dressed as he did when his late wife was alive, an all black suit, black shirt and black winklepicker bootsHis agent knew Mick would be on Valium. The Ray Ban sunglasses were a bit of a giveaway too.

When they arrived at the gallery the owner minced up to them with his purple beret and scarf. He looked at Mick and said, “How lovely to see you, darling after so long. I was so sorry to hear of your loss.” Mick shook his hand and said nothing. The owner led the pair to Micks area. Mick slowly walked around with  thee other 2 behind him. Mick simply ‘s pointed at the pieces he wanted. “Lovely, darling,” said the owner. “I’ll see you in 2 weeks. It’s sold out already.”

Mick had several anxiety attacks leading up to the event but remembered to post the tickets to his friends.

On the night of the event, Micks agent picked him up an hour before he was due on stage. Mick was wearing his usual attire except for his sunglasses. He was wearing his normal glasses.

Backstage, just before he went on he was putting a cigarette into his short holder when a young, short man said, “You can’t smoke in here.” Mick continued and lit up then dryly said, “Arrest me.” The young man then said, “I’ll call security.” Mick said, “Do you want me to do this? I can just walk out.” The young man darted off, never to be seen again.

When Mick walked onto the stage he got a standing ovation. He looked at his works lined up at the back of the stage. He turned around and walked to the front of the stage. He was blinded by  the lighting. He turned around, took off his glasses put them in his trouser pocket and grabbed his sunglasses from his jacket pocket. After putting them on he walked back to the front of the stage and said the crowd, “It’s a bit bright from this side.” The crowd laughed. He looked down at his friends and acknowledged them by raising hiis eyebrows and laughing.

As Mick was going through his works he notice. He noticed 2 uniformed police officers side stage glaring at him. ‘What are they glaring at me for?’ he thought. It didn’t throw him off, it more puzzled him.

After Mick was finished he received another standing ovation with camera flashes going everywhere. He walked off stage and was followed by the police officers down the stairs to the backstage area. Mick turned around. One of the officers said, “Mr. Michael Rafferty we have reason to believe that you are under the influence of cannabis and are in possession of cannabis in your home. We have a warrant drug test you and to search your home. Do you agree to a police interview?” Mick wasn’t phased. “Sure,” he said.

What did phase Mick was when he was handcuffed and led up the side isle in front of everyone. Of course there were 2 press photographers there. The next days headline read “Artist Arrested Under  Mysterious Circumstances.”

The police bundled Mick into their car and took him down to the station. As they switched their camera on they asked Mick to take his sunglasses off. He did so and swapped them for his normal glasses.  When he did so, both officers leaned back in their chairs, looked at each other and smirked. “You’re stoned, aren’t you Sir?” Mick explained about  the Valium and how they would find his prescription at his house and that a drug test will show that he didn’t smoke cannabis. This wiped the smile from the officers face and they began to fumble for questions.

Mick was then taken home where he led the officers  straight to his prescription. They didn’t look happy and threw it back in the direction of where Mick stored it. They then proceeded to spend 2 hours going through every inch of Micks house. Mick sat in the lounge chain smoking. He could feel an anxiety attack coming on. He asked the officers if he could take his Valium. In unison they said, “No!” Mick replied, “If you prevent me from following the Drs instructions on this box and I have an anxiety attack, I will lodge a formal complaint. I’m inches from doing it now. Your conduct has been disgraceful.”

The officers looked sheepishly at each other and nodded at Mick. Interestingly, as Mick took his Valium,they stopped their search. They then took him to the hospital and handed a nurse a form. It was a blood request to test for blood. After an hour a nurse came and took Micks blood. 2 hours later she came back with 2 documents and handed an officer one of them. The officers looked dejected again. The result was obviously negative.

The police dropped Mick back at his home. One of them sternly said, “We’ll be in touch.”

Mick thought, ‘What for?’

Changes

heart

Bob Fielding was divorced with 2 young children. He began as a night-shift Registered Nurse in April. The first carer that he worked with was Di Langdon. Di was married with 2 older children. Initially Bob couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was stunning. Little did he know at the time was that she was the same.

As their first shift progressed their humour emerged. It was identical. Having said this they remained professional…..but only when they had to be.

By the end of their first month together they knew everything about each other. Bob used to mark the nights that he worked with Di to give himself something to look forward to as he tended to drink too much. Di was very supportive in this area too.

After only a few shifts they both detected a romantic undertone between them. The following week they broached the subject and spoke openly about it. It was then that Di said her marriage was on the rocks. Bob was as supportive as he could be.

Two months later Di told Bob that at thee end of the year, their children were moving out and that was when she was getting a divorce and she was going to move to the same town as Bob and work at the hospital there.  Bob asked her why she was moving town. He almost fell off his chair when she came right out and said, “I want to be close to you.”

The next few months flew by but Bobs drinking was becoming problematic to the point where he wasn’t turning up to shifts. He was also missing his children but would spend these ‘missing days’ drinking. In October, he resigned as he knew he was heading towards being sacked. He went on a drinking binge. The only person to maintain contact was Di. This meant the world to Bob.

Di rang Bob one day and told him that the divorce papers were filed and she was moving house that week. Bob had to sober up. It was difficult and he suffered a seizure but he sobered up within a week.

Di found a house 5 minutes away from Bobs and where she planned to work within a fortnight. For the first month Di visited Bob daily. All day. They had a ball and a romance soon ensued.

Di found work at the hospital 5 weeks later so they didn’t see each other as much. Di would always visit before an afternoon shift and after a morning shift. Bob eventually bought a double bed….after much hinting….and Di would stay there during her days off. Bob and Di missed each other very much when they weren’t together. It distracted Bob from his writing and distract Di from her work. None of them adjusted to this. They would both clock-watch for when Dis’ shifts started and ended.

They didn’t go out often. They were too engrossed in each others company.

Di and Bob maintained this lifestyle until Di retired Di had her pension and Bob was still collecting royalties from his books.. The pair then then traveled the country for 5 years before returning home and, just as always, living a life being overwhelmed by each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without You

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nilsson

He was a recording artist who had been divorced for 7 years and lived in a 2 bedroom apartment from where his ex wife and 2 children lived. He was on a pension due to low grade bipolar. The only medication he required was Lithium and Valpro which  are mood stabilisers. He had been stable for about 5 years.

His ex wife was a shift worker and his children would stay with him when she was at work. When they weren’t there, despite his medication,  he drank….a lot. 2 bottles of vodka a day. He could drink then not drink like flicking a switch. He never mixed alcohol and recording.

He missed his ex wife but as time progressed, the way he missed her changed. He didn’t cry. Never did. He reached a stage where he would have moments of missing her but wouldn’t live with her again.  Very much a case of mixed emotions. His heavy heart would soon lift.

One morning whilst drinking he found an old CD. It included “Without You” by Harry Nilsson. His musical ear window and he broke down. He went on and put the song on ‘repeat’ and began analysing it as a musician. He then  considered recording it. He had never done a cover but this song blew him away. It was in his head all night and even through the night.

By 2pm the next day and more drinking, he began recording the song. Everything  had to be perfect,  right down to the twin vocals sprinkled throughout the song. He recorded tracks in his usual order. Luckily he lived in an isolated area as he didn’t start the vocals until midnight. He finished at 4am, exhausted.

When he awoke he was actually reluctant about how the difficult vocals would sound. He was blown away by what he heard. It was even better than what he had in his mind. he had a few more drinks and spent the next 6 hours mixing the track. When he was satisfied with it he transferred it to his computer and converted it to mp3. He played it through his stereo and went to bed with his version in his head.

When he woke the next morning he went straight to the stereo and put his version of the song on. He noticed that it no longer  made him cry. He had become too close to the song on a technical level. He then decided to email it as an mp3 to a dozen friends. By the end of the day  every single friend had replied to him, raving about the song.

Now that he play the song whenever he wanted, particularly when he was drinking, without  crying he played it relentlessly.

Several months later he and several friends went out to a restaurant. His friends noticed that he had been drinking. Not a lot but it was noticeable to them at least. Approximately half an hour passed when he heard the opening piano notes to “Without You.” He got up and almost sprinted to the door. A friend followed him. He had found an alleyway and was hunched over, vomiting profusely, holding his false teeth in his right hand with tears streaming directly from his eyes to the ground.

His friend put his hand on back. “I have to go hoe. I can’t go back in there like this.” He was shaking profusely and sweating heavily. His friend ordered him a taxi. He dropped into a  bottle shop and bought a bottle of vodka. On arriving home he began swigging the vodka and relaxing. He put on his version of the song. Then he got up, grabbed the CD and snapped it in half before throwing it in the bin. He went on to delete the song from his computer.

He has not had a drink since.

As the years passed, every now and again he would stumble across the song on Youtube…..and promptly bypass. Then he decided to listen to it….as a musician. He came to realise what a masterpiece the song was, sober. He realised that every aspect of it was perfect. His Psychiatrist told him that he was seeking the same perfection in his life and alcohol made him feel this way. They were right. It all made sense.

From thhat moment on, whenever he had a sad moment regarding his ex wife, he would put the song on Youtube and have a cigarette. By the time the song and cigarette were finished so was his sadness.

 

 

Peace And Violence

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yin

As the only  19 year-old male student nurse amidst a group of female students, one tends to get singled out when we’d go out for the night. It was ALWAYS by males and they were ALWAYS drunk. This story happened many times.

They would start half-drunk and try to friend me up. They’d sit at our table and proceed to get plastered. By this time they were giving me the evil eye and making smart remarks. The girls weren’t impressed so we’d leave. The drunk would then physically target  me. As they were drunk they would take a round-arm swing. I would move my head back, giving me a clean aim….which I took. Inevitably they would fall over and we’d move on. Occasionally they’d try to get up so I’d kick them in the ribs until they couldn’t.

What an effort on my part. Had the man in question came to our table and behaved, things would  have been much easier.

Peace is easy. Especially when you read the scenarios above. They’re the only personal encounters with violence that I’ve had so can’t speak with any great authority on violence….but I know enough to write about it.

Violence is hard work. Kicking someone. Punching someone. They take effort. What effort does a handshake or a smile take? None. They make you feel  better too. Generally speaking, violence makes you feel worse….unless you’re dealing with a criminal.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for violence. Paedophiles. Crimes against the elderly. Crimes against women. Crimes against children. I’m talking interfering with or murdering.

There are guys out there who hurt people who need hurting. These guys don’t charge money. Karma is why these guys do it. They get compensated by knowing that they’ve seriously injured a  criminal and  that the police will also be notified anonymously. This is not hard work for these guys. It’s a part-time cashless business and you never know who they are

Maybe I do.

 

Factory Girl

factory

Melody Fenton was 16. She had a part-time job at a local factory outside of school. Her parents were divorced and lived at opposite sides  of  the city. The factory was right in the middle. Melody lived with her Mum. Her Mum was a Registered Nurse and her Dad was a writer.

As she didn’t have a drivers license she relied on her parents for transport. Her parents balanced transport duties pretty well. Obviously her Mum couldn’t transport her if she was at work so her Dad stepped in. Her Dad took medication so couldn’t drive after 9pm. If her Mum was working late, either of her parents would give her money to catch a taxi.

During the week, Melodys’ shifts were either 4pm until either 8pm or 11pm. She preferred to work weekends as other kids didn’t want to. She would generally work long shifts, up to 8 hours which obviously meant more money. The pay rates were poor and workers were paid no penalties except for public holidays.

Melody commenced her lengthy Cert.2 in retail shortly after beginning at the factory. She told her parents that she wasn’t going to do her Cert.3. When asked why she said, “I don’t want to be stuck in that factory forever.”

She commences college next year. Maybe she has something planned. She hasn’t said. She never does until the last minute. If she has something planned, what is it?

Only time will tell us that.

Pharmacy Love

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Lynne Fielding was an extremely attractive 52 year old pharmacists assistant. Neil Harris as a good looking 49 year old award winning poet. Early every Monday he would pick up the same prescription and be served by Lynne. He didn’t want to be recognised by people. Neil had eyes for Lynne. Little did he know that Lynne also had eyes for Neil. None of them let on.

None of them let on until Neils watch started running slow and he would arrive at the pharmacy early. There was Lynne waiting by the door for Larry, the Head Pharmacist (and boss) to arrive. He always worked Mondays. This happened foe quite a few weeks and Lynne and Neil began to chat more than normal. One morning Neil jokingly said to Lynne, “We”ll have to stop meeting like this. He was taken aback when Lynne said, “Let them talk. We’re both single, after all,” and smirked at him. Neil didn’t know that Lynne was single. His heart started racing from every Monday onwards.

A few months later, Neil took his prescription down to Lynnes counter to pay for it. Her counter was at the far end of the shop, out of sight and earshot. One morning Lynne was looking rather serious. As Neil paid for his prescription, Lynne came out from behind her counter and took Neil by the arm to  a quiet corner of the shop. She looked around to make the coast was clear. Lynne began to look embarrassed. She reluctantly said to Neil, “I’ve ran it past Neil and he says it would be okay.”  Neil said, “What would be okay?” Lynne now looked really embarrassed. She took a deep breath and said, “I’ll just come out and say it….(pause)….It’s the work dinner on Friday week  and I have nobody to go with. I was wondering if you would accompany me?” Neil took a step back and said, “Me?….accompany you?” Lynne looked disappointed. Neil could barely contain himself and said, “I’d be delighted to Lynne.” Lynne was so overcome that she moved and put her arms around Neil. They organised the place and time  and that they’d meet in the car park.

Neil and Lynne were on cloud 9 all week. The staff at the pharmacy could tell that Lynne had a partner for the dinner. She was exuberant. They were so curious to find out who it was. Even though Lynne could actually tell them she wanted to keep it as a surprise while the staff fired friendly, well-meaning questions. Lynne didn’t even tell her mother with whom she lived.

The following Monday, Neil and Lynne met as usual early outside  of the pharmacy. When Neil was leaving, Larry called out his name and loudly whispered, “See you Friday,” and winked. Neil did a mock whisper signaled his finger over his lips.

When Friday arrived, the pair arrived at exactly the  same time. On the way into the venue, Lynne took Neils hand. Neil felt 10 ft. tall.They walked in and the work table felt silent as staff heads turned around and jaws dropped. As the pair sat down, the assistants (all of whom were young females) leaned over or got up and began talking to Neil. Lynne smirked and opened her first bottle of wine. Neil was surprised that ones so young were up on his award-winning, ‘Words To Ponder’ and even more surprised at those who were up on his book of beat poetry, ‘Ten Fingers.’

The 3 pharmacists and their partners sat at the top end of the table. It was very quiet up there. As one moved down the table, the louder it got as the wine flowed. Neil saw that the head of the table didn’t drink. He rapidly deduced that they were devout Christians and that heads would roll on Monday

After about 2 hours, the assistants were as drunk as the pharmacists were sober. The assistants began to leave. Lynne and Neil saw this as their chance to leave without making a fuss. They sat at the table and a Lynne, who was by now more than tipsy, said, “This is boring. Let’s go.” Neil said, “Where?” Lynne said, “Could we go to your place for a coffee?” Neil said, “Sure….but I’m driving.”

On arriving at Neils, he asked Lynne if it was okay if he smoked. “Thank goodness. You smoke,” said Lynne as she pulled out a packet of cigarettes. She also pulled out and swiftly uncorked a bottle of wine  using her key-ring. “You smoke?” said Neil. “Well excuse me,” laughed Lynne.

They both sat on the couch, Lynne sipping her wine and  getting more drunkish while Neil sat and stared at her. “What? What are  you looking at me like that for, Neil?” Neil simply replied, “You’re beautiful.” Lynne went bright red and laid back on the couch. “Stop it.” she said. “I’m getting embarrassed.” Neil said, “….but you are..” Lynne leaned forward and said to Neil, “You’re  a fine looking man yourself.” Neil didn’t get embarrassed. He leaned forward and said, “I’ve heard that before but I can’t see it. I’ve looked in the mirror and pulled all sorts of expressions and just can’t see it.”

By this stage Lynne was sliding down across the couch. Neil went and got a blanket and a pillow. By this time it was only 11pm. Neil got up about 8am. Lynne was still out cold….until Neil lit a cigarette and Lynne sat bolt upright and reached for her own  cigarettes. She said she felt fine but she looked like Alice Cooper. Her speech and behaviour were perfectly normal. She thanked Neil for the previous evening. Neil said how much he enjoyed himself. Lynne went on to thank Neil for not trying to take advantage of her. Neil said, “You’d had a few drinks. I was sober. It wouldn’t be right, would it?” Lynne replied, “You really are a gentleman. Just like I thought.” Now it was Neils turn to look embarrassed. Lynne noticed this.

Lynne stayed until mid-day before Neil took Lynne to her car in the car park. They talked about all sorts off things. Then Neil asked Lynne about poetry. Lynne said that she had all of Neils works and had  read them many times. She said that she thought he may not want to talk about it. Neil said, “I’ll talk about anything with you, Lynne.” Lynne blushed. She then said, “Well there are actually a few off your poems that I wouldn’t mind going through with you.” Neil said, “Now you know where I live, come up any time. I mean ANY time,” with a smile.

ANY-time wasn’t going to be too soon.

The following Monday Lynne and Neil waited for Larry and chatted  as usual, except chirpier. Neil was wearing his sunglasses. When Larry arrived he opened  the door without acknowledging the two. Neil removed his sunglasses. As he completed Neils prescription he said to Neil, “I’d like to see you and Lynn please.” Neil put his sunglasses back on and followed him down. Larry started, “About Friday night. You two….” at that Neil raised his hand and said, “Lynne asked you. You said ‘Yes,’ What we do in our own time is our business and it  WAS our time. Conversation over.”

With that Neil went to Lynnes counter. She was clearly shaken. “He’s going to  make it Hell with his ‘holier than thou’ rubbish.” Neil replied, “Oh. One of those. That explains it all.” Neil noticed that Lynne was shaking and it was getting worse. Before Neil  could ask if she was okay, Lynne was having tremors. She collapsed. Neil ran behind the counter. She was having a seizure. “Call an ambulance!” he yelled. Larry was about to run down. Neil yelled again, “Call an ambulance!” Other staff arrived a few moments by which time Lynne  had been incontinent. Neil called for 2 towels. One for behind her head and one to cover where she had been incontinent.

When the ambulance arrived Neil accompanied Lynne. to the hospital. She was given IV Valium and the seizure stopped a short time later. The Dr. wrote on her Medical Form that her seizure was stress induced. ‘Yes!’ thought Neil. He was provided with a photocopy. Neil was given 10 Valium. If any signs of a seizure appear he was to give Lynne 2. He told the hospital staff that they had no transport home so an ambulance was organised. Staff told Neil that Lynne would probably sleep for a few hours and be disorientated for a few hours after that.

After being home for 2 hours, Lynne hadn’t moved. Neil wanted to see Larry with that all-important piece of paper. The chemist was less than 10 minutes away. He called a taxi and raced into the chemist. Larry went straight to him. “How’s Lynne?” he urgently asked. The normally placid Neil yelled, “Fine, no thanks to you!” He handed Larry the Medical Form. You could see the blood drain  from his face. Neil picked his car up and rushed home, knowing  that  the rest of  the staff wouldn’t wear any religious wrath.

The court case was over in minutes. All of the staff who weren’t on duty attended and sat on the prosecution side. Larry Sat alone. He chose not to have a lawyer as he had no defence. He looked small, pale and scared. Once the Prosecution evidence was handed down Larry had, as said, no defence. The judge was swift with his deliberation. Larry was not to practise alone as a pharmacist for 12 months  and as a direct result of Lynnes incident, he was never to work as a  Head Pharmacist or be in  charge of staff again. The courtroom cheered. Larry looked at the staff with an apologetic look. Neil figured that by the looks of them, it was not before time.

Goodness knows what they had been putting up with. No more.

 

 

Morning Fear

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This is a brief but very difficult blog to write. It should become apparent as the entry progresses.

waking

Every morning for a long time I woke up, exactly at 6am, in terror. The thing is, I don’t know what I’m in fear of. I don’t have nightmares. My  mind races with two second thoughts whizzing through my mind one after the other. The thoughts themselves aren’t frightening. It’s the speed of them.

I wonder what I have to do for the day. Will I get it done? What might go wrong?

Between my GP and Psychiatrist, over a couple of months, I was tried on more pills than The Rolling Stones. All of them did nothing. Not even a side-effect.

I scoured the net and was bombarded with yoga, green tea, deep breathing and so forth. Sorry hippies. None of them work. Either that or your symptoms are not as severe as mine or you’re being conned (or are conning yourself).

My morning anxiety vanished by a ‘glitch’ in thinking the night before. Just before falling asleep I started thinking that everything was going to be okay tomorrow. I can’t consciously remember thinking negative thoughts prior to this night. I can remember vividly laying in bed, looking at the ceiling and actually remember looking at the ceiling and ‘knowing’ that everything would  be alright tomorrow. I didn’t consciously do this. It just happened.

The following morning I awoke and looked at my clock. It was the usual  6am. It took me a good couple of minutes before I realised that I wasn’t in fear. Not only  was I not in fear, I ‘knew’ the day was going to be alright. The day turned out fine.

That night I went to bed without the previous nights feeling but woke up peacefully and optimistically the next day at 6am.

From this horrific 6 month period on, nothing like it has happened. I do have a slight, non-troublesome tremor which I put down to coffee and cigarettes as I spend moost oof my days writing.

Have you experienced such an episode?

Wandering With Intent

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hobo

Phil Norris finished college with straight ‘A’ results. His parents were all set for him to start university to become a Psychology teacher. Phil had different plans and his parents didn’t like  them. He told them that he wanted to go to the city for a year then go to  university. What Phil really had in mind was to travel the country earning money with his guitar and orating until he had enough money to pay his own way into university. His parents eventually and reluctantly agreed to  the ‘plan’ that he had fed them.

Phils parents waved him goodbye at the station. Clean cut, rucksack with 2 changes of clothes, toiletries and his trusty guitar in a hardback case. Instead of getting off at the next major city, Phil got off at the next town just 100 miles away. He walked the streets and looked for the busiest one. He got out his guitar and began playing his beautiful classical style music. People walked past with  their noses in the air and basically ignored Phil. Phil was disheartened and didn’t even bother orating. ‘If it’s this snobby here, imagine what the cities will be like,’ thought Phil. That night, Phil slept up a cold side alley contemplating the $1.20 that he had made.

The next morning Phil went to the next small town. His response was the same. As the months passed, Phils appearance became more derelict with a hobo look. He found that he was now earning enough money for one decent meal a day. Then it hit him. His Psychology training taught him that people would give to the poor (which is what he looked) and not to the more well off (which is how he used to look). Phil discarded his toiletries. People in these smaller towns still weren’t interested in his oration so he put it on hold for the cities.

The following night Phil was contemplating his plans. He could make enough money for a meal whilst playing guitar and looking like a hobo, surely he could make more in the cities with their larger population and there might be people interested in his oration. The next day Phil caught the 2 day train to New York.

When he arrived Phil was overwhelmed by the size of everything. Phil had pre-planned to find the biggest street and use it as his base but every street was big. He could take his pick. People paid him handsomely, many stopped and many listened to his oration. All the while Phil was getting paid….and paid handsomely. Every week he would take his loose money and put it in the bank for his university fees. Ever so slowly the amount rose. Cent by cent. He began to email his parents about New York. Their replies were all the same. ‘Come home and start University. The money’s here.’ Phil would email back that he was doing fine. They would die if they knew what he looked like.

After several weeks people would stop and talk to him and get to know him by name. The next day, some would bring a friend or two to hear him speak, play or both. Phil enjoyed New York that he stayed. He was now 29. His hair and beard were going grey from living on the streets.

The Winters were harsh but worked in Phils favour. He would find a sheltered spot and play or orate. The public would seek shelter there too so he had a captive audience and made more money. He was now almost a household name.

One day whilst playing a short, stout man listened to Phil playing briefly. He leaned over, handed him a card then kept walking. Phil stopped and read the card. It read Allan Ashby A&R. Phil stopped and read the card. ‘A&R?’ he thought. ‘That’s Artist and Recording. I wonder if they want to record me?’

The next day Phil went to the laundry and tidied himself up. He rang the number on the card and spoke to Allan Ashby. Ashby wanted to see Phil ASAP. Phil said he could be there that afternoon. The meeting was brief. Ashby wanted an album from Phil. Could he start next week? He would earn $3,00 plus royalties. “That’s where the money is. Royalties,” said Ashby. There was no time limit. Phil could barely contain himself.

So proficient was Phil that the only hold-up was the orchestra. The album was recorded in just over 2 weeks.

Phil, now tidy, returned home and told his parents all about his travels, including the album. Phil applied and was accepted at the local university within a month. He was going to be a Psychology teacher.

For the following 4 years Phil found that he didn’t have to study too much. He discovered that he learned more about the human condition whilst on the streets in New York. He passed with Honours.

Phil was lucky enough to be assigned a position at his old college. Due to his laid back manner, he found that the students contributed more to their own learning than he ever could. Irrespective, his first week was spent talking about his own life.

One Monday, Phil was mobbed by students wielding CDs. They were music students with his CD. It had been released on Saturday and they wanted autographs. Phil rushed to the class and told his students to talk amongst themselves for a while. He then returned and signed the CD and had selfies taken. His class was over by the time he had finished. His students walked past, smirking at him and making comedic “star” comments.

That Phil was speaking. Suddenly he felt an excruciating, crushing pain in his chest. He grabbed his chest and collapsed. He was whiter than white and his lips were blue. Nobody said anything. One of the students with medical training had  called an ambulance before Phil hit the ground.

Phil was taken away by the ambulance. The class sat and talked about how cool he was and what a life he had led. “Maybe that’s what caused it?” someone said. “Maybe it’s genetics,” said another. Someone else said, “I just hope he’s okay.” They all turned to the student who made the call. They said nothing. They looked at the ground twidling their phone.

20 minutes later the head of the school came in. He looked somber  as he began to speak in a quivering voice, “It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Mr.Norris suffered a….erm….a massive heart attack in the ambulance and couldn’t be revived. Mr Norris was declared Dead On Arrival at the local hospital. (Pause). Thank you.” The head walked awkwardly out leaving the class silent but half-knowing the outcome.

Phil Norris was 35 years old. He is survived by his parents John and Lydia. As he would often say, “I’m living the life.” This was  engraved on his headstone.

Jesus Got Drunk

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jesus

Jesus woke up one morning after having a dream where someone kept telling him, “They’r gonna crucify me.” 30 minutes later his dream became a reality. There was a gentle knock on the door and a Roman walked in. He politely said to Jesus, “You’re being crucified today. We head off in an hour” The Roman was polite.

As Jesus and a few others headed off to be crucified he asked for a mug of water A Roman offered him a mug of water He promptly turned it into wine and drank the lot. With this ability and about to be crucified, who wouldn’t. He would then ask ask for a mug every 10 yards. The Romans were sympathetic to those about to  be crucified, even though they were ‘supposed’ to  hate them there was the occasional sympathetic Roman.

Pretty soon, Jesus had to relieve himself. He would  ask a kindly Roman if he could use a side street to urinate in. After a while….and several mugs of wine, Jesus gave up on the idea of side streets and would just wet himself in public. “Look at that,” said one onlooker. They’ve reduced our Saviour to wetting himself in the street. It’s a disgrace.” The crowd began to chant, “Go Saviour! Go Saviour! Go Saviour.” One man up the back yelled, “You show ’em Christey!” A man next to him cuffed him around the back of the head and said, “Don’t call  him that. He’s out Saviour. Show some respect, homey.” The man apologised and said that he just got caught up in the moment.

As those on their way to be crucified were nearing the end of their journey, Jesus was beginning to buckle at the knees. A Roman took his crucifix down and told him to  have a rest. The truth was that Jesus was nearly paralytic and could barely stand up. The crucifix wasn’t the issue here. It was made of balsa wood and only  weighed 4kg.

When they finally made the crucifixion site, they were hauled up one by one. By this stage Jesus was feeling no pain while the others screamed as the nails were hammered in. When Jesus was hauled up he said, “What a brilliant view! I can see everything from up here….and I can see two of it. Jesus was so drunk that he was seeing double.

The rest of those being crucified, understandably, weren’t so cheery. Jesus decided to cheer them up by singing sea shantys. This had a limited effect. After 30 minutes the others had died of the repetition and boredom.

After 5 days the head Roman came up to the site and said, “What can we do about this Jesus dude? We can’t spear him, stab him or feed him to the lions. That wouldn’t sit well in the Bible. Not a good look.” A young Roman piped up, “Why don’t we put him in a pitch black cave and kill him from sensory deprivation? Works a treat I hear.”

The Romans found a nearby cave and threw Jesus in. Thee found a boulder to seal it off.  The boulder was the exact same shape as the Easter Bunny. So THAT, dear reader, is where the Easter  Bunny comes from. Not from your supermarket. Little did the Romans know that the boulder was also made of chocolate. Jesus loved chocolate and sniffed out the chocolate ‘door’ in no time.. He seat about eating his way out of the cave and in doing so doubled his body weight to 60kg. (Jesus was a small man).

As the Romans assumed Jesus’ death was a done deal, they didn’t bother guarding the cave. Jesus began walking. He soon found himself on Highway 61. He had been there before. It was somewhere he had revisited. After walking for 3 years he found a cup by the side of  the  road. “Brilliant!” he yelled. “Now all I need is water.” He scoured each side as he continued on his way eventually finding a small stream that ran in parallel by Highway 61. Jesus proceeded to turn the water into wine and the inevitable happened but what happened next totally sideswiped him.

As he was filling his cup, he heard a voice coming from the revisited highway. He looked up to see a slight figure dressed in black and wearing sunglasses. He ran back up to the road and gleefully introduced himself. “Hi. I’m Jesus!” The small man introduced himself as Bob Dylan. Jesus asked Dylan where he was going. Dylan said, “Bleeker Street, New York but I don’t have to be there until 1966.” Jesus said, “That’s ages away. What do you do for a living, Bob?” Dylan said, “I’m a songwriter.” Jesus excitedly asked Dylan if he would do a son for him. “Sure,” said Dylan and mumbled his way through ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man.’ The song made no sense to Jesus so he asked Dylan to explain it for him. The explanation took 9 days, copious amounts of wine and it still made no sense.

Dylan pulled out a piece of paper and filled it with a green, plant-like substance. “What’s that?” asked Jesus. “Cannabis,” replied Dylan. “Have a puff. I’ll show you. Dylan had a puff and handed it to Jesus who had an awkward puff. Jesus levitated and everything made sense. Dylan continued to smoke cannabis every hour or so. Their conversations became very cerebral and lateral. “What are  those you’re wearing?” said Jesus pointing at Dylans eyes. “Sunglasses. Cannabis gives you red eyes and the sunglasses cover them. It’s illegal in 1966.

Since discovering cannabis, Jesus gave up drinking. He was sick of wetting himself at random and being inaproppriately cheerful. He preferred the more cerebral conversations that cannabis offered.

As predicted by Dylan, the pair arrived on Bleeker Street in 1966.  Dylan took Jesus to a coffee shop called the Black Jug. The Black Jug was a ‘hip’ place to be seen at by all of the famous poets. On entering the venue, Dylan was greeted by Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure and Jack Kerouac. Dylan introduced Jesus to the three then quickly took him to a shop to buy sunglasses as his eyes were blazing red.

Jesus kept them entertained for a week then figured that he should go look for work. Thinking on his feet, Jesus asked the barman if there was any work. The barman said, “Can you pour wine?” Jesus replied, “Pour wine? I can make the stuff.” The barman replied, “That’s right. You’re Jesus. Silly me. Come and show me.” Jesus leapt over the bar and poured a glass of water which promptly turned into wine. The barman said, “”You’re hired.”

As part of the  deal, Jesus was provided with a single room upstairs and permitted a 30 minute break every 2 hours. During this break, Jesus would smoke some cannabis and chat with  the customers.

As Dylan, Ginsberg, McClure and Kerouac moved on from  the Black Jug, Jesus spent more and more time with the customers. It was costing the owner nothing after all. By the 1970s the Black Jug was re-named to reflect the popularity of the conversations of Jesus. It was re-named The Jesus Inn.

Had Bob Dylan not put Jesus onto cannabis, none of this would have happened.

Godless

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god

Greetings dear reader and thank you for dropping by.

Were God to walk into my living room, the first thing that I would do would be to get him to stop blocking my view of the television. I image he would apologise and say, “I  have stopped all wars, suicide bombers, hideous terminal diseases and famine.” I would ask him to prove it. Being God, he would have control over the TV and would show me footage of his claims. Even at this, I would be reticent.

Let’s be honest, folks. This isn’t going to happen.

I rarely discuss religion but when I do I go for the throat. Having read the Bible 3 times, my religious conversations generally end up with the other person resorting to that old chestnut, “Ah, but God works in mysterious ways.” They’re now on the ropes as they busily search through their little Bible looking for a poignant quote, not knowing my knowledge of the Bible.

Why are foreign countries interfering in the wars of other countries if they are no threat to us? Easy. Money. John Lennon said in the 1960s that “war  is big business.” His words still ring true today. Several years ago, America was selling arms to Pakistan so that the Pakistan army could fight AMERICA! Go figure.

Then there’s disease. To quote Stephen Fry, “What sort of God would put a tumour into the brain of a 4 year old child?” One can’t disagree with that.

Why is there cancer? We all know that tobacco is a major cause yet  it is still legal. Couldn’t God step in? Were he to make it illegal tomorrow I  would stop but the tobacco industry and health industry would stand to lose trillions of dollars.

Famine could be thwarted if ALL of the money raised went to where it is meant to go. Not 90% in administration fees.As for suicide bombers, I think Keith Richards might be onto something. Hold a suicide bombers convention in a huge baseball park and let them all blow each other to pieces.

So if you are able to force me into a religious conversation, for your own mental safety’t for goodness sake  don’t say, “God works in mysterious ways.” I’ll rip your lungs out, Jim.” (Figuratively speaking of course).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my wee blog entry. 🙂

 

Alcoholism

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alcohol

Alcoholism is a medically  diagnosable disease. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a character flaw, lack of willpower or a weakness. It has also been well established in several medical journals that someone born to an alcoholic parent has a 40% chance of being an alcoholic themselves. This may not sound like much but if you picture a table of 10 people, 4 of them are alcoholics.

In the early stages of alcoholism, the alcoholic  isn’t the one shouting, stagger, starting arguments or throwing punches. They’re usually minding their own business. Not sober and not drunk. In ‘the twilight zone.’ In time it takes more alcohol to reach this level as their tolerance begins to increase.

The alcoholic then begins to become less inhibited as their tolerance raises. Alcoholism is a very insidious disease and usually goes unnoticed for many years.

It usually becomes noticed in the workplace where the alcoholic begins to turn up late for work on a regular basis. Then their work performance drops. This is followed by a gradual increase in days off work. The alcoholic is fired. This is followed by an increase in alcohol and tolerance. As the alcoholic becomes more reliant on the substance, it becomes more central to their lives. The alcoholic goes from job to job until they become unemployable.

If the alcoholic is married, divorce is not uncommon. The alcoholic, typically, moves into a place by themselves. They often take out loans (that they can’t repay) to finance their drinking. The alcoholic becomes for ringing friends whilst drunk late at night. It is not uncommon for the alcoholic to lose their license for drink driving, forcing them to catch buses or walk to do  their shopping. The alcoholic is now drinking heavily alone. This is a big red flag. Their now disheveled look now sees former fork colleagues and friends shun them.

At some point they  decide that it’s time to quit. This is a very dangerous move and should be done under close medical supervision. If one has consumed large quantities of alcohol over a long time then stops suddenly. there  is a 48-72 hour window post intake where a life-threatening alcohol seizure or series off seizures may take place.  The patient should be put on an anti-convulsant such as Epilim.

Once the patient has been medically stabilised they should be referred to a rehabilitation  clinic, ideally for 6 or 12 months. Rehab combines one on one counselling, group therapy and a degree of structure and regimentation in order to prepare them for the rear world again. A sober world with coping mechanisms should a craving arise

The Two Journalists

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interview

All of his way through university studying English Literature, Daniel Jackson was working on a novel, ‘The American Pentangle’ in his spare time. It was a book of beat poetry. He was hoping to have it finished by the end of university but still had quite a bit to go.

He took an unorthodox road after finishing university. He packed his rucksack and laptop and headed for Chicago. He secured accommodation at a mens shelter. In the mornings he would stand on the busiest street corner and read chronologically from his book. He started to build quite a following. One man in particular would listen to him for about half an hour. The short, portly man approached Daniel one day and asked, “Is that your own work?” Daniel replied, “It is, Sir. It’s from my unfinished novel. I’m looking for a publisher. The mans eyes lit up. He handed him a business card and told Daniel to drop in at his earliest convenience.

Daniel dropped into the building the next day and met with the man. “Give me 10 minutes,” he said. I’ll run copies off for our proof reader and continuity readers and give you one to take back with you.” Daniel was over the moon. “Thank you, Sir.” The man said, “Please, call me Andy.”

Daniels afternoon routine was more hectic. He would  go to the library to gain internet access in order to research for his book and write like a man possessed. Whilst doing so, Daniel thought that even if his book was published, it would be a long time before it hit the bookshelves and the odds of it selling well were slim. He decided to become a freelance journalist. He learned at university that you could pick your own hours, subject matter and each article submitted was worth more money than that of a conventional journalist.

Six months passed and Daniel still hadn’t heard from Andy.  He decided to take on a 6 month temporary position with a local newspaper, more to see they operated than anything else. He was paired up with Margaret Simpson. They shared the same office. Straight away they hit it off. There was humour with a hint of romantic innuendo involved even though Margaret was married. On the way to assignments they would have to arrive 10 minutes early in order to compose themselves after a journey filled with hilarity. They were both as good a journalist as each other.

When Daniels stay at the newspaper was up, as he got to the front door, something made him turn around. He walked straight back to his office and there was Margaret crying her eyes out. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “You,” said Margaret. “I’ve met nobody like you.” Daniel handed her his email address and Margaret did likewise. From that day on they emailed each other daily. It was usually comedic but now and again there was that romantic touch. Daniel began to wonder if her marriage was on the rocks.

3 months into his second novel and waiting to hear from Andy Daniel received a knock on the door. It was Margaret. He was briefly excited to see her then noticed that she had been crying. Tears and make-up were running down her face. He invited her in and asked, “What’s wrong?” Margaret said, “He’s left me.” Daniel threw his arms around her. She did likewise. They held each other for several minutes. Daniel whispered in her ear, “I’m so sorry.. I don’t know  what to say.” He offered Margaret a seat. As they let go of each other Daniel could smell alcohol. Before he had time to offer Margaret a coffee she pulled a bottle for gin from he handbag, part of which had been consumed.

Daniel sat on the couch next to Margaret and said, “What happened?” Margaret opened the bottle of gin and took a hefty swig. She then produced a piece of paper. “I found this on the table when I got home from work yesterday. Daniel looked at it. It read: ‘I’m leaving you. I have been having an affair for 6 months. You won’t see or hear from me again. I’m interstate. You can’t contact me. The house is yours. I’ve sorted it with the lawyer.’

Margaret had spent all night and the next morning walking around the empty  house, confused. “I had to get out Daniel. I thought I was going nuts. You were the first person I thought of. I haven’t told another soul.” Daniel was now thinking on his feet. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll drive you to your house, you’ll pick up what you need and you’ll stay in the spare room for as long as you need to.” Margaret was ever so grateful. Daniel added, “I have 3 rules.” Margaret looked serious. Daniel said, “I smoke cigarettes and I swear.” (She already knew this. Daniel added, “I don’t have illicit drugs in my house and while you’re here, my house is your house so make yourself at home.” Margaret began crying again. “Come on,” Daniel said. “Let’s go and pick your gear up.”

On the way back to Daniels house, Margaret wanted another bottle of gin. Daniel agreed and bought himself a bottle of whiskey. He figured he wouldn’t be writing that night so thought he’s have a drink with Margaret. Daniel never drank when he was writing so he put his journalistic work on hold for the night.

As the evening progressed the pair got progressively more drunk. Margaret was drinking twice as much as Daniel but they were equally as drunk. All of a sudden Margaret, Margaret said, “I’ve got a couple of plans.  I’ll sell the house, downsize, move closer to here and go freelance as a journalist.” It hit Daniel like a hurricane but as he had a few puffs of his  cigarette, Margarets plan made perfect sense. “What if the house takes a while to sell?” she said  to Daniel who replied, “Then stay here until it sells. Easy.” They gave  each other a drunken embrace.

Margarets house sold in 6 weeks and she moved to a smaller house 5km from Daniels.  She then approached her boss and told him that she was going freelance. The boss was disappointed but wished her all the best and wrote her a glowing reference. A further month later, Daniel received a letter in the mail. Margaret was busy working on a story. “They’re going to publish me! They’re going to publish me!”Margaret got up and cuddled him. “Well done,” she said.

The letter went on to say that the book would be placed in every major bookshop in America and would also be available online. “That’s where your money is,” said Margaret. “Online. It gives you an instant global reach.”

Within 6 months, his book was flying off the bookshelf. The publishing company were having trouble keeping up. It was soon in the Top 10 Best Sellers. A few weeks after this Daniel received a letter telling him that his book had been nominated for a National Literary Award. The event was in 2 weeks. Daniel obviously asked Margaret to accompany him. He took her shopping for a dress now that he could well and truly afford it.

When the evening arrived Daniel was a bundle of nerves. Half way to the event he realised he had forgotten his glasses. All he had were his prescription Ray Ban sunglasses. “Oh, no,” he said. “Don’t worry about it,” said Margaret. They look fine.”

When they arrived on the red carpet, amidst other nominees were a flock of journalists from all over the world. Daniel placed himself between Margaret and the press but she knew what she was up to. She pushed him towards the press. Daniel was glad that he wore his Ray Bans as the camera globes flashed constantly and he was bombarded by questions. He simply smiled, waved and moved along the red carpet that felt like it was 5km long.

When they took their seats, Daniel would become uncomfortable when large TV cameras would focus in on him.. Finally it was time to announce the winner of Daniels category. When the winner was announced Daniel was distracted, playing with his fingers. As the winner was announced,  the crowd stood cheered. Daniel looked up. He saw Margaret standing, cheering and looking at him. He couldn’t hear her but lip read her saying “You’ve won.” Daniel looked surprised and made his way to the stage. There were 2 hostesses. He  didn’t know which one presented the award until one stepped forward and handed Daniel the award. Daniel moved up to the microphone and said to the other hostess, “…and what do you do?” The crowd laughed.

Still distracted by the large cameras moving in front of him, Daniel awkwardly began, “I won’t take much of your time. I don’t have many people to  thank. I’d like to thank my parents and of course my publisher for showing faith in me. Las but not  least I  would like to thank my best friend in the world, Margaret Simpson.” Margaret began to cry. Daniel concluded, “That’s about it from me.” He then turned, not knowing which way to  go. The second hostess led him to the backstage area. “Ah! So that’s what you do.”

During the TV break Margaret was led to the backstage area. On spotting her, Daniel rushed up to her and said, “Get me out of her….and quick. They asked a waiter to call them a taxi. On the way home Daniel said, “I thought they were going to break my back with all  the back slapping and break my shoulder with all the handshaking. “Look at it this way, Daniel. You’re a millionaire now….if not more. Daniel casually replied, “Yeah. I guess. There is that.”

As Daniel painstakingly made his way through his novel, Margaret was struggling for ideas. So was Daniel. What started as an espionage story was becoming a love story. He said to Margaret, “Why don’t you try childrens books?” Maargaret thought that this would be too easy. Daniel pointed out that childrens novels were 90% imagination, You’ve certainly got that,” he said. He added, “What I do is 90% research. Einstein once said that intelligence will get you from A to B whereas imagination will take you everywhere.” That was it sorted. Margaret.

Their books were released in the same year and made the Top Ten Best Seller List. The only problem was that they couldn’t go out the way they used to. They were too famous.

They continued writing books whilst living in their humble abodes. They saw no need for opulence. The only socialising that they did was when they would invite friend to  Daniels house for parties. Even this was a rare occurrence. They were invite only affairs and the press were kept well away.

The Poet And The Journalist

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university

Bill Fielding and Georgina Simplot met at college in 1953. Not  only did they hit it off in every way but they  were in all of the same classes, all English-based subjects. Georgina wanted to be a journalist. Bill pretended that he didn’t know what he wanted to be. All the while, at night after his studies, Bill spent as many hours as he could writing a book of beat poetry.

When they finished college, Bill and Georgina went their separate ways, not knowing where the other was. Bills parents were bohemians so when he told them that he didn’t want to go to university, they were cool with it. “It’s too restrictive,” Bill said….and I’m not going to learn anything new on the beat poetry front. Not in 1953″ He was right

beat-poets.

Bill wanted to go to New York where the beat movement was starting to happen. He packed his rucksack with 2 sets of black clothes (beat artists generally wore black) and his typewriter  in its hard case. His parents gave Bill the money that they had saved for university. Bill made his way to New York and found a one bedroom apartment. For 3 months Bill barely left his apartment until he completed his first book. Bill decided to call it “Words To Ponder.”

He spent the next 3 weeks approaching publishers that focused on beat poetry with no luck. He kept persevering as he began to write another book of beat poetry. He began to visit venues that had open mic facilities. Bill had no intention of reciting poetry, he just wanted to get fresh angles on the beat scene. He had no luck. The poetry was rubbish. “Why haven’t I been published?” he asked himself.

His dream was to become a reality some 18 months later.

One afternoon the phone rang. It  was Georgina! Bill was over the moon, as was Georgina. They  spoke for almost 2 hours. Bill gave her directions and she  visited the next day. Bill told her about his publishing woes. Georgina told him that she had  been working in New York for the last 18 months and had made some high profile contacts. She asked Bill if he had a manuscript spare. He did. “Give me a copy and I’ll get  back to you in 3 days,” she said. Bill was confused.

3 days later Georgina returned with the manuscript, threw in on the table and said, “Bookmans Press have had 3 journalists read your book and they’re going to publish you .” Bill thought she was joking until he saw the look on Georginas face. He was ecstatic. He jumped up, embraced her then backed off as if embarrassed…..which he momentarily was. Georgina rather enjoyed it but she was much less reserved than Bill.

book-publisher

When “Words To Ponder” was published it sold better than expected. By now it was 1954, beat poetry was becoming mainstream and was now being enjoyed by not only the beat poets and bohemians but also the middle and upper classes. Bill was asked by a small newspaper if they could interview him. Bill  agreed. Throughout the interview, Bill had a bad feeling. The wrong questions were being asked and the journalist didn’t seem particularly interested. Sure enough, Bill read the interview. It was terrible  and he was even misquoted 4 times.

Georgina read the interview and was furious. “He hasn’t even read the entire book. The misquotes are only misquotes because they’re in the wrong place. It’s obvious he’s not a literary journalist,” she said. As Georgina turned to leave she said, “Leave it with me, Bill. I’ll fix this….big time. It may  take some time but I’ll  get something sorted.” Again, Bill was confused.

Three weeks late Georgina visited Bill. She said, “I have a proposal.” Bill jokingly replied, “I accept.” Georgina blushed. She went on to say that they could have a house party at her place to officially launch his book. “With my contacts,” she said, “I can get authors, lawyers, Doctors, Councillors and so forth. All high profile people. It would be great publicity.” With Bills bad press experience he was reluctant but Georgina talked  him around. “Give me a week to get it organised,” said Georgina. Over the following week, Bill had mixed emotions.

house-party

The following week, Georgina rang Bill  full of beans. “The official launch of “Words To Ponder” is a goer,” she sprouted. “Everyone who’s anyone will be there. It will be the BEST piece of promotion that you’ll get.” Bill was thankful. The event was to be held  at Georginas house. Bill didn’t know where she lived so she went to Bills and Bill followed her to her house. It was a mansion. Georgina really had hit the big time in journalism.

Bill skulked in the back door but Georgina grabbed Bill by the arm and introduced him to everyone. Bill was pleased to see beat poets mixing with bohemians, middle class and upper class. There were no class distinctions here. By 1955, Beat poetry was almost mainstream. He was also pleasantly  that everyone had a copy of his book and wanted it signed. In addition, unlike his first interview, the crowd all asked relevant questions. Suddenly the journalist who interview Bill cheerfully approached him and asked if he could interview him.  Bill rather sternly said, “I’d rather not.” Georgina jumped in and said, “Bill has an interview booked with me.” The journalist skulked off like a do with its tail between its legs. Bill said, with a smirk, “So when are you going to interview me?” Georgina said, “Well we’ve met and talked to everyone here. It’s only 2pm. How about now?” Bill said “Sure.”

interview

On the way  back to Bills place, George stopped in at a bottle shop and grabbed a bottle of whiskey. They sat on the couch and opened the bottle of whiskey. Georgina started the tape running straight away and mumbled, “Now I can get inside your head.” Bill said, “Inside my head? I doubt it.” Alcohol aside, this interview felt different. More comfortable.  Just as she left Georgina almost forgot to take a photograph. As they sat there talking, off-tape, Georgina said, “If I didn’t know any better, Bill Fielding, I’d say you’re trying to chat me up.” Bill replied, “If I didn’t know any better, Georgina Simplot, I’d say you’re letting me.” Georgina blushed and coyly said “Maybe.” Bill replied, “No ‘maybe’ about it.” Georgina asked how Bill knew that she liked him. “I’ve known since college,” he said. Georgina said, “That long? Why didn’t you say anything?” Bill said, “Shy.”

Georgina then asked Bill if he would like to go  out with her. Bill said, “Of course I would….but you’re too good for the likes of me.” Georgina said, “Don’t be silly. You live in a different world. A world that I  want to know about. A world that doesn’t have the constraints of conventional  journalism.

Georgina took her tape recorder and told Bill she’d be back in a week. A week later Georgina arrived wielding a newspaper. It was a ‘rush’ from a copy of her interview with Bill. Bill read it and was ecstatic. “You’ve even read the book,” Bill said. It shows. Georgina said “3 times.” There was better to come. The newspaper was The Tribune, New Yorks  primary paper for featuring beat poetry. Georgina had not only  landed him an interview with The Tribune but it was a full-page spread in the arts section. Georgina said, “Between your house party and this story, you’re the talk of the town.

Bill wasn’t so keen on being the talk of the town as he was recognised everywhere he went. Despite  this he always remained polite. With Bill and Georgina now going out together, between Georginas contacts and Bills fame they were stopped and questioned everywhere. Geoorgina didn’t mind but bill felt awkward. They would go to art  displays, photographic display, pottery exhibitions and so forth. Georgina soaked it all up.She used to take a pen and paper as she had decided to write a book of beat poetry herself. She had enough money to quit her job and work on her book. Bill was thrilled for her.

Despite his shyness, Bill would always make a point of talking to the artist and discuss one or two of their pieces. He always offered constructive criticism. Bill gauged an artist by their response to his constructive criticism. No matter how the artist reacted, Bill could always tell if the artist didn’t like being criticised. A sure sign of a bad artist.

Bill and Georgina didn’t live together but saw each other ever day and were out 2-3 times a week. Bill released his second book in 1956 and it sold like wildfire. Georgina hadartd-display another house party to celebrate it. It was a huge afternoon. He went out to the porch for a cigarette  and spotted 2 young girls, about 16, looking very shy. As he moved towards them they moved back, Bill hurried towards them and said, “What are you ladies doing here?” One of them said that they bought his book last year and wanted him to sign it, dedicate it to us and maybe get a photo. Bill said, “Last year? Goodness me. Why didn’t you look me up in the phone book and pop around?” One of the girls said, “We didn’t want to intrude.”

Bill signed and dedicated the books to them. He then grabbed Georgina, walked around the girls, put  his arms around them and had a photo taken. The girls were thrilled….but there was more. Bill was enthralled at how much the girls knew. “Do you write?” he asked. They both said they did but  college English was a bit restrictive. Bill asked if they had any of their own work. They both said, “Yes.” Bill then said, “How about you bring your own material around at 2pm tomorrow and I’ll have a look?” The girls were awestruck.

When the girls arrived, Georgina had already left a photo each for them with Bill. Bill made them a coffee and lit a cigarette. “You don’t smoke, do you?” They said “No.” Bill replied,  “Good. Filthy habit.” Bill read their documents seriously as the girls sat nervously. He sat the last document down. “Well, ladies. I’ve just read the next generation of beat poetry. You should be proud of yourselves. When you  get enough for a book, bring it to me. I have a friend who can help.” He added, “If you need help or just want a coffee, drop on by. I’m here 99% of the time,” and laughed.

In 1957 Georginas book was published. It went down a storm and unlike the shy Bill, she jumped at the opportunity to have a poetry recital. She began with a book signing followed by a 60 minute recital taken from her book. Bill could never do this.

As Bill and Georgina continued writing beat poetry, it was on the decline. In 1970 the 2 young girls presented at Bills with manuscripts for his perusal. He read them and two things stood out. The girls were moving with the commercial times of poetry and it was obvious that they were attending university, where the poetic form was restricted. He showed Georgina the scripts. She thought the same us Bill. She did, however, say, “These will sell like hotcakes.

True enough both girls works were picked up by a publisher. They flew off the bookshelves. Bill told the girls what he thought. They appeared awkward but Bill said, “Don’t worry about it. You’re moving with  the times.” The girls were heartened by this. Over the next 3 years thee girls writing became more and more conventional. By 1960 both girls were millionaires.

Bill and Georgina continued to work on their beat poetry. Sales dropped but Bill wasn’t in it for that and Georgina had plenty of money behind her. Their books were reduced to  being available in small bookshops for sale while the others were to be found in coffee shops, airport lounges and hairdressers for light reading.

The important thing was that they were together and happy. They would also have royalties coming in for their books….

….and they helped keep beat poetry alive.

Opinions and Perspective.

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opinion

One of the major things that I like about WordPress is that you can talk about whatever you want. The diversity is immense.

My entries tend to be predominantly about behavioural psychology or humour…..usually at my own expense. I don’t take myself too seriously

Subjects I don’t discuss are politics, religion and war. Politics and religion don’t affect my life and I know so little about them, were I to address them it would be hilarious….again, at my own expense. I don’t talk about war. A friend of mine, Michael Blacklow  nailed war when he called it legalised murder. Thesee poor soldiers who have become so numbed to death by what they’ve seen, their own death seems less important….as they suffer in silence until it’s too late.

I also  don’t address any other form of violence or terrorism.  I can blankly watch stories about the matters fly by on the TV until the cows come home….that’s if the cows haven’t  been slaughtered or blown up by the aforementioned parties.

As mentioned, I enjoy the diversity offered by WordPress. I like reading works of different genres. I like to get a different angle. I like to learn. Comments are overwhelmingly friendly and constructive. They serve to give me a different angle on my own work.

My only criticism of WordPress is the constant offers of paid upgrades. I don’t need plugins and so forth. I believe my words stand up well on their own without any fancy add-ons. My words are my pound of flesh. They’ve got that. They’re not getting a cent out of me.

People seem to like what I write. That’s more than enough to keep me happy.

A Pony Tale

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pony

Gary and Margaret Swan lived in a smallholding on the outskirts of town. They had only recently  been married.

All of her life, Margaret wanted a pony. She began to leave Gary hints, like DVD documentaries and book about ponies sitting on the living room table and making remarks like, “I’d really like a pony.” Very subtle.

The following Xmas Gary bought Margaret a pony. She was ecstatic. She called the pony Bolt. After they had tamed Bolt Margaret told Gary that she would like to ride him. Gary had no problem with this. The following day Margaret was straight into town. She bought herself a pair of white cowboy boots, flared cowboy trousers, a red sparkly cowboy shirt with tassles and a great big huge white cowboy hat to match her boots. Margaret wasn’t one for half-measures.

When Gary arrived home from work, Margaret was all dressed up, ready to ride Bolt. It took Gary all of his strength not to laugh. Margaret approached Bolt. She didn’t have to climb up on the pony, she merely stepped across, what with Bolt being somewhat short in the height department. When Bolt began to walk, Margaret grinned even though her boots were dragging on the ground. She spent the rest of the day riding around the holding yard.

Margaret began watching country and western movies and getting funny ideas. One night she said to Gary, “I’d like to jump a fence on Bolt.” That weekend they had a miniature fence. When the fence was erected, Margaret took Bolt to one end of the yard. She then ran towards the small fence and jumped over it, making it appear higher than it was so that Bolt would get the message. She walked back up to Bolt and stepped across him. A few seconds later Bolt took off towards the fence. He cleared it with ease….but Margaret didn’t. Her boots got caught in the top rail, leaving her flailing face first on the ground.. After untangling her feet she deemed it a success and reminded herself to lift her feet the next time they jumped. It worked and it kept Margaret occupied for months.

As  time progressed and Margaret continued to watch country and western films she decided that she wanted a gun. Two guns. She had to join a gun club to get a license so she did. She was hopeless. She went and bought herself two cowboy style pistols. Although still hopeless at the gun club, when Margaret had spare time, she would dress in her cowboy gear, stand in front of a mirror, draw from her holster and say, “Stick ’em up.” She got quite good at it.

Then Margaret saw a movie where a cowboy was riding around twirling a pistol in each hand. ‘That’s for me,’ she thought. She practised in front of the mirror and started badly. The pistols would fly from her hands, breaking photo frame, lampshades and even breaking a window. Margaret was determined and finally mastered it.

That afternoon when Gary arrived home from work she was so keen to show him her new skill that she ran downstairs, forgetting to unload the pistols. She rode around the yard twirling the pistols and yelling, “Yee, Ha!” Suddenly a passing car backfired. Bolt took off leaving Margaret to fall sideways. One of the pistols went off. It fatally injured a goat on their neighbours property. Gary panicked. “What are we going to do?” Margaret calmly replied, “Simple. Drag the dead goat over here, call the mobile butcher and freeze it.” It was sorted within 2 hours.

That night Margaret scoured her cookery books for got recipes until she found one. “I’ve never had goat before,” said Gary. Margaret said, “It’ll be fine.” She served up the meal and they had a mouthful each. Luckily their house had 2 toilets. They raced for a toilet each and were there for an hour. They decided to thaw out the meat from the freezer and take it to their watering hole, home of their man-eating crocodile, Hercules. Hercules spat it out and began to vomit as well.

20 years later, Bolt was 22. Margaret went to see him one day. He was laying in his stable motionless. Margaret knew the inevitable and called for Gary. They both stood there. Bolt moved his lips, closed his eyes and. “Did you hear that?” said Margaret. Gary said, “Hear what?” Margaret said, “He said goodbye.” Gary rolled his eyes and pretended he had heard, “Oh that? Of course I did.”

From that moment on, on a full moon, Margaret would be awoken by the clipety-clopety sound that horses make. She would look outside and see Bolt. By the time she had made it to the yard, he had gone. Gary didn’t hear or see a thing….but he went along with it.

Every Single Day.

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sunrise

A few months ago I went through a brief phase of mentally bemoaning the fact that I was doing the same thing every single day. For some reason my mindset had become clouded.

Of course we all do the same things every day….not the exact same thing but I’ll start with the things that are the same.

I wake up each day at 6am. I don’t need an alarm. Every day, it’s 6am. I then have a shower,  shave and cigarette. Then I check my emails. This can take anything from 10 minutes to an hour. At around 8am I go and visit my parents who live just up the road. As an author and recording artist I don’t watch much TV so I get the news from my parents.

I then return home and start writing. Irrespective of whether I’m on a roll or am stuck for ideas, writing makes the day fly past. On a usual day I only stop for lunch and cigarettes. That’s me until tea time, then it’s back to writing or recording and cigarettes. I  generally go to bed at 9pm or 10pm.

Boring, huh?

That’s what I thought too for a while. Then I realised that there’s nothing boring about recording ones own music or writing. Both are brilliant for the imagination and keep the mind fresh. I guess it’s because I’ve been doing them for so long that they have become second nature to me….but never have I become bored with them or found them mundane.

Now for the flip-side….

There are some days when I want a break from writing or recording. On these days, I’ll usually visit my younger brother. This is generally hilarious and I imagine that people would think that we are nutso. I can always go and visit my parents again. They’re always good entertainment. I particularly enjoy stories of their childhood in Scotland. Things were so much more innocent back then. The work was harder but so was the laughter. There wasn’t the violence or drugs that we have in todays society.

I occasionally go and visit former nursing colleagues but have found that over the years, the conversations have become somewhat stale and inevitably turn to politics, religion or gossip. I like none of these topics, especially gossip. It always ends up getting nasty. Not my thing at all.

Then there are days when my kids visit. My 19 year old son will pop in for a while on his motorbike while my 15 year old daughter visits and will stay for the night. These visits are always a highlight. 🙂

So every single day isn’t the same old thing after all. As mentioned, it was just a phase that I was going through. I was tricked by my own mindset.

Xmas Shopping

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xmas-shopping

Greetings dear reader. Thank you for dropping by. I don’t mean to detract from your festive season but I am going to address my own experiences with Xmas shopping…and it’s not pretty.Being on a limited budget, I have to start saving for Xmas in September. This leaves me in the unenviable position of shopping at the last minute.

I always have trouble knowing what to buy people.  By the time I get into town, particular presents that I have planned for people are out of stock leaving me having  to do a last minute and panicked re-think.

Going from shop to shop is a nightmare. There are people everywhere, all rushing and pushing you out of the way to grab what they’re after. I find this behaviour thoughtless and rude. Not in keeping with the Xmas spirit at all.

As I progress through my list, I am collecting bag after bag, often having to stop and pick one up that I’ve dropped, hoping that I haven’t broken any of the contents and making it more difficult to get through crowds. Add to this the fact that it’s Summer here in Tasmania. II’m covered in sweat by this stage.

When I get home I begin to wrap and label the presents, ready to hide them. I’m the first to admit that I’m hopeless at wrapping presents. I end up with more sticky tape stuck to myself than the actual present. Luckily nobody else is there as, in my frustration, my language becomes rather coarse. The presents look like they’ve been wrapped by a goat.

I hope that you’re Xmas shopping experiences are better than mine and that you have a FANTASTIC Xmas. 🙂

The Story Of Doken Dorey.

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child

Doken Doreys parents were killed in a car accident when he was 2 years old. He went from foster home to foster home, none of which displayed a great deal interest in him or compassion to him.

Doken was an extremely intelligent boy with a great love of reading and writing poetry. He had pages and pages of his own that he took with him to each new home. When he was 8 years old, one set of foster parents bought him a banjo for Xmas. He practised it relentlessly and had the instrument mastered in no time.

One day at school, when he was 12 years old, the students in his class had to recite a piece of poetry. Doken was the only one to recite his own work. The teacher held him back after class and asked about his poetry. They wanted him to take an IQ test. Doken took the test and scored  152. He was a genius.

His teachers knew that Doken was a bright boy as he excelled in all classes. It was in English, however, that he really shone. His high school teacher noticed it straight away. She knew that she had a genius on her hands. His poetry was second to none ass were his interpretations of it after reading a piece. He had no reservations but wasn’t over-confident  with it.

When he reached college, a whole new world opened up for Doken. It felt more like ‘his’ world. Freedom of speech, opinion and thought abounded. He took all English based subjects with the exception of British History. He continued to devour book after book. He was rather disappointed with English Literature as they focused on the well-known writers. Shelley, Keats, Lord Byron, Bacon and Shakespeare. He had a great dislike of Shakespeare as he plagiarised much of his work. Doken had read so much of his work that he knew what was genuine and what wasn’t….and to Dokens mind, Shakespeares work wasn’t that good.

shakespeare

As Dokens opinions flew in the face of mainstream, he was often a good starting point for group discussions. He opened peoples minds up and wasn’t adverse to opinions that conflicted with his  own. He found it stimulating and only served to fuel his love of literature. People would get up and recite their own work. Doken found most of it shallow but this didn’t stop him from the occasional positive contribution. If Doken interpreted another students work, this was viewed by the class as a higher accolade than receiving a positive remark from any teacher. The teachers knew that he was  brighter than they so they let him run with it. He completed college with straight A+s.

Now that  he was 18, he was no longer in foster care. He was on his own. Doken quickly formulated a plan. He wanted to go to university but couldn’t afford to. Not yet. What resources did he have that could make him some money? His banjo. He could busk. His poetry. He could recite it on the streets. He knew that it would take a while but he had his heart set on university.

banjo

Doken went to his last foster parents house, packed his rucksack with one change of clothes and a pen and paper and grabbed his banjo. On his way out the door he said to his foster parents, “I’ll be seeing you  then.” They never responded, let alone come to wave him goodbye. Doken wasn’t fussed.

He hitch-hiked for four days, stopping in at little villages and playing his banjo for money. He figured these places wouldn’t be interested in poetry. He made enough money to afford one decent meal a day. This would become the norm.

After four days he reached the outskirts of Chicago on nightfall.”This is for me,” he thought as he gazed at the city lights. That night he slept under a bush. The following morning, he hitch-hiked into the centre of the city. He found a busy street corner, laid his hat down and began to busk. After four hours his hands were sore so he stopped playing. He counted his money. He had made $20. Doken was ecstatic. He figured that  he could save $10 and feed himself with the remainder. He went to open a bank account. Luckily he was greeted by a sympathetic teller. Normally you need 3 pieces of ID. Doken only had one. His college Diploma.

alley

Doken spent the rest of the day looking for a suitable place to sleep. He found an alleyway with a blazing barrel surrounded by hobbos. It was known as Beacon Way. Doken cautiously approached them. “Any room for me?” he shyly asked. One of the hobbos said, “We’ve got room for anybody….as long as they’re peaceful.” Doken stood next to the barrel as the night air was beginning to become chilly. With his good nature, Doken struck up conversations with most of the hobbos. When they found out that he was a poet, they asked to hear some of his work. They clapped after every piece. Doken was surprised when some of them gave a critique of his work. It turned out that this alleyway was renowned for academics who had hit hard times. There were  alcoholics, heroin addicts, speed freaks, crack heads and some who were just given a raw deal. Doken asked if he could sleep in the alleyway. One coloured man, obviously drunk, said, “If you can find a mattress, it’s yours my friend.” Doken found a mattress and settled down for the night.,

For the next 2 years Doken busked and recited poetry on the streets of Chicago. He wasn’t far off having enough money to enroll in university. By this stage his clothes were tatty, his hair was a mess and he had a beard. He really did  look like a hobbo. I guess he was, really.

One day after reciting poetry he walked past a small restaurant. It had a sign that read, ‘Open Mic. 24/7.’ Doken thought that he’d go in for a listen. He found the last small round table in there. At the far end of the venue was a small platform with a microphone on it. People were allowed one spot of 5 minutes. After about 30 minutes a pretty girl came and sat next  to Doken. “Hi. I’m Ann,” she said. Doken introduced himself. Ann said, “What do you think of what you’ve heard?” In a straightforward voice Doken said, “I don’t.” Ann said, “It’s pretty ordinary, huh?” Doken said, “It is….so why do you come here?”Ann said, “It’s either here or those hoyty toyty gigs….and I’m not good enough to be invited.” Doken said, “Give me 4 years and I’ll get you into one.” Ann looked puzzled. Doken said, “Just trust me. You’ll see.”

open-mic

Doken and Ann began to meet regularly until Ann suggested that they meet at her place. Doken said, “Thank God for that. Another day in there would have killed me. It was so amateurish.” He then asked if he could hear any of Anns work. She pulled out a large manila folder. Doken studied it intensely then said, “This is good. Really good.” Ann replied, “It should be. I have a PhD in English Literature.” Doken replied, “English Literature is the best of a bad lot.” Ann replied, “You’re not wrong there. It hasn’t landed me a job.”

Ann then asked Doken all about  himself. Doken finished by saying that he had lived on the streets for a while and save to go to university the following year. “Good for you,” said Ann. “You’ve really lived a life.” Doken said, “I guess so.” Ann invited Doken to stay at her place, on the couch, until he moved into the university dormitory. He graciously accepted.

Doken was accepted into university and moved out of Anns into the dormitory. He would still visit Ann 2-3 times a week. He watched her writing go to strength to strength.

During lectures, students were asked to get ‘underneath’ a particular piece of a particular poet. Doken was constantly biting his lip to stop himself from laughing at some of the responses. They were miles off base. Inevitably the lecturer would ask Doken. Doken would get right to the core of a poem in  seconds flat. “THAT!”….said the lecturers, “….is exactly what the poem is all about.”

As Doken still had very little money he still looked like a hobbo and his fanaticism saw him being viewed as a bit of an eccentric….which he was in a way. Doken and society didn’t exactly see eye to eye. Society was too uptight, regimented and constipated for his type. This didn’t stop fellow students from stopping him in the corridor and asking for his opinion on this poem or that poem.

uni-students

He was also a standout to the lecturers and after receiving a PhD in English Literature he was invited to recite a poem at the university poetry night. He wrote back saying that he would on the grounds that his friend Ann could recite a piece of her work. A week later he received a letter with two invitations to speak. He turned up at Anns with a cheeky smirk then produced her invitation to speak. She  threw her arms around him. “I told you I’d do it,” said Doken. Ann couldn’t thank him enough. The event was 2 weeks away. Doken hired a suit for the occasion and would  accompany Ann.

Leading up to the event began to experience brief episodes of tightness in his chest and dizziness. He paid no attention.

When it came the night of the event, Doken and Ann mingled with the  arty types. Doken couldn’t be bothered with them but he played the game. Ann presented her piece and like  all the other speakers received a polite round of applause. Doken was the last speaker. His poem was met by a near riot. He awkwardly bowed and walked off  stage. The stage manager signaled for him to go back on so he did and was again met with thunderous applause.

crowd

Doken now had his eye on publishing a poetry book. He could do it at the local library. In the meantime he went back to busking and reciting on the streets whilst sleeping in Beacon Way.

With his book progressing well, Doken began experience an increase in the severity and frequency of his chest tightness. He decided to see a Doctor. His Potassium was sky high, indicating kidney disease. Potassium also regulates the electrical impulses to the heart. The Doctor prescribed him Potassium reducing medication. Doken couldn’t afford it. He was a heart attack waiting to happen.

5 months later, Ann hadn’t seen Doken much. Knowing that he slept in Beacon Way she  went there first to see if anybody had seen him. The alleyway was empty except for one person sleeping under a rug. She gently pulled the rug back. It was Doken. He was dead.He must have died of a heart attack in his sleep.

Ann went on and finished his poetry book on Dokens behalf. He was 26 years old.