Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The weekly scribbles

My writers group sets homework. This feels irritating at times but does drive the brain down interesting unexpected holes. Here I past 500 word-ish pieces from the last two weeks. I seek to get down to 400 words which is an easy paced three minutes reading, beyond which listeners have difficulty, but it's hard when ideas flow.

The first item here then is an attempt to be inside the mind of a person with some dementia, the black hole many of us are to be sucked into, but out from which we don't get news. This is perhaps the beginning of a longer story to be written.

The second item, below, is about moments in life, arguing that there are no momentous moments which do not alter space.

The assignment: to create a character using name of school friend and name of place where the school was; story to include “if he can find her in enemy territory”.
I’m not good at boys’ own adventures. My work is introspective. This comes solely from my mind. Third person didn’t work, I have tried second person.

The difficulty is remembering your name. Cover that with an air of disdain. Unfriendly; but don’t let them think you’re demented.

They asked about your early life but that was private, not for strangers. You look back to childhood and remember no names, too many schools.

But there was a girl back in Queensland, in the place where we sat on a kindergarten bench in blue shirts and shorts – and short skirt – and bare legs and feet and wrote on slates with slate pencils at a shared desk. How did that end, was it just that you left? You remember mood and warmth. And she seems the only person back there now. She seems to be Greek, her skin olive. Was her name Mary... Mary Borough. No, that was where we were. Would she still be there?

After that time, way back, the years after that, later in schools, one, two, at least three of them, there seem mainly a sense of bitterness and distances from people.

Is ‘remembering’ what you’re to do now? Is that what life was anyway?

“Where are my shoes? Did I take those tablets? Am I hungry? I want my kitchen.” Hang on cobber, you’re talking to yourself, and watch it, they’ll see you laughing...

Had you thought of being a spy? Maybe you hadn’t. But this tunnel of existence is a bit spy-like: hidden in enemy territory, tongue locked from saying who you are.
Yesterday they asked you who the prime minister was. You smiled sardonically. If they didn’t know who the bastard was they had no hope. Why should you tell them?

Yesterday they said to each other that you were ‘disinhibited’. They needn’t feel threatened: scrawny scratching shrink and miserable nurse. On the other hand that person who takes you to the shower and is just a tiny bit indecent with you...

OK! Retreat to remembered sensation. Keep your news to yourself. 

News, news! Hello, here comes an afternoon edition... The Dutch art student. Also with exceptional skin but she was fair. Funny to think how she and you ran out of words then and in this enemy territory they say you have no words now. You might not have a lot of time ahead; this is not a territory for having time ahead. Instead, better, now in this tiny news moment conjure up time past, exceptional-skin past, moments-innocent past. You were both so innocent, but so much intense feeling from such tiny moments. Can you resume conversations you didn’t know how to have so long ago... if you can find her now in this enemy territory. 


"Write about your moods and emotions from a memory of a moment of your life." But I did something a little different. This is a personal reminiscence, of many moments. As with the previous short essay, this is written in a form to be spoken, read aloud. Which requires cadence and rhythm, and turns and angles to keep the audience alive.

I went away last time thinking of momentous moments, times when sudden events shifted space.

Such as picking up brain MRI scans for my wife in 2000, opening the envelope straight away and seeing the impossible, the size of a peach, in a frontal lobe. Bigger than any other moment in life. Whereas I thought I’d had an equal relationship, suddenly the biology sneered at us.

I drove out of the carpark next moment, to head home. I realised I was in a strange state when I saw a woman looking at me with an expression of horror as I went by. I can still see her face now.

Or ... when long ago I put a friend on a plane in Rome after a couple of days wandering the city, he going on to his first overseas posting in Nigeria... then to get a call from Mac in the High Commission in London asking did he get on the plane, did he get the plane... because it landed a kilometre too early at Lagos. The call was the moment, the plane departure was just... plane.

Intense conversations, so many kinds, pressures in head, all moments remembered or hidden: with close people and people you really need to convince... shifting your world in some way. Later remembering mainly moments of being stupid.

The milliseconds that last a very long time when you crash a car.

The strange sensation of knowing that you are about to be dead when you roll sideways through 600 degrees on a tractor. Then to watch it continue downhill, while lying on the ground after it throws you safely away into the largest and driest scotch thistle in eastern Australia. I can still hear it roar with anger at me. And feel my own anger and annoyance at my stupidity, plus shame: a childish expectation of getting into trouble.

I suspect that the biggest, most-remembered moments that alter our worlds are the negatives. The ones ‘for the good’ more often creep up... unless you have serendipitous eye-locking wonder-moments. More often we guard against nice surprises.


That's a three-letter paragraph wanting not to be just four letters.

In between the sex and the other jolts, so many interminable moments, long drawn out phases of physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional homelessness. We may wish they were over in a moment. With what drug do we try to shorten them?

In physics, moment is what swinging objects have, weights heading for hitting something. There is no comprehended time-moment that does not connect with space; that does not hit.

Captain Oates dramatically, gangrenously, septically and with dysentery said to hapless Captain Scott of the Antarctic that he was just going outside for a moment.

We say: “I won’t be a moment” and that’s a lot more honest than “I’ll just be a moment” when you walk out the door. Through how many moments have we wished we could just walk out, alter the planet, alter life, start afresh. 

What moments, in the physics sense, hold us back? We cling to pendulums. 

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