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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com Welcome Guest
    CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com
          You've come to the right place for the writings, including stories and essays of Carl Halling, born London, currently residing in suburbia, keen to develop as a writer. Please feel free to stay awhile, read, comment, but above all...enjoy.

    Sat, Apr 7th - 2:48AM

    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Two


      Soon after returning from Spain in the summer of 1972, David Cristiansen was launched by his dad on an intensive programme of self-improvement.
      Through home study and with the help of local private tutors, he set about making up for the fact that he'd left formal education at 16 with only two General Certificate of Education passes to his name, where a respectable amount would be no less than five.
      He took Karate classes in Hammersmith, and among his fellow students were hard-looking young men - some of them flaunting classic '70s feather cuts - who may have been led to the dojo by the prevailing fashion for all things Eastern, such as the films of Bruce Lee, and the "Kung Fu" television series.
      And while he enjoyed them for a time, in fact, far more than the swimming classes he attended weekly in Walton on Thames close by to his own little suburban village of West Molesey, they were destined to be short-lived.
      This possibly due in part to his growing fascination with an androgynous way of life inspired by Glam Rock, which was yet quiescent in late 1972. While Classic Rock was still foremost in his affections if the earliest long players of his nascent record collection were anything to go by.
      And he was successfully initiated into the basics of the Rock guitar solo by a shy and sweet-natured man of about 45 by the name of Gerry Firth, who gave lessons from a tiny little abode in an alley on the edge of Walton. For it was there that he lived in apparent content with his wife and golden-haired infant daughter.
      While his profound love for the rebel music of Rock and Roll was wholly belied by an appearance which was almost militantly square, even by the standards of middle-aged men in those days. For he wore his salt and pepper hair in a severe short back and sides style, which he supplemented with shirt and tie and sleeveless sweater, and great baggy grey flannel trousers.
      Was every inch the typical British seventies dad in other words; that is, on the surface of things, for the truth was infinitely different.
      And on one memorable occasion, David tried to persuade him of the superior merit of Classical music on the basis that it's "well-played", which Gerry countered with:
      "Well, isn't Rock Music well played?"
      David was baffled by his argument, because despite his own preference for Rock, he (clearly) had no great belief in its artistic merits.
      Another thing that bewildered him about Gerry Firth was his admiration for Marc Bolan of seminal Glam Rock band T. Rex, a man he'd always derided as much for his pretty-boy appearance as his simplistic three-chord Pop.
      As to Glam, while it was a genre that veered wildly between Pop chart stompers by Bolan, and the more sophisticated decadence of major talents such as David Bowie and Todd Rundgren, it was yet to make any kind of impression on David. For he still favoured the hirsute macho men of the Heavy Rock movement.
      "Don't you find him effeminate?" David once asked him of Bolan, fully expecting Gerry to express due horror at the thought of Bolan's startling choirboy looks, while continuing to enjoy his catchy tunes. But Gerry trumped him with an answer that caused his adolescent jaw to drop:
      "Not as excitingly so as Mike Jagger!"
      "Mick Jagger," said David, correcting the older man as if in a trance.
      "Mick Jagger," Gerry conceded, still with the same stubborn fixed smile on his face.
      By the following year, he'd become a massive Bolan fan himself. But at the time he was aghast at what he saw as the older man's defence of what was still to him the indefensible.
      Sadly, Bolan died in a car accident close to his home in Barnes, West London at just 29 years old. Yet, following his premature quietus, he underwent something a transformation both in terms of his persona and his music, both attaining classic status where they remain to this day.
      For after all, Bolan must have had something to have so delighted Gerry Firth to the extent of making a sixteen year old look square for detesting everything he stood for. Quite a blow struck on behalf of the old hipster guard in the generation wars that were still being fought back then.
      Late in the summer, David signed up for five years service with the Thames Division of the Royal Naval Reserve based on HMS Ministry on the Embankment near Temple station. And not long afterwards, it became clear to him that he was attracting some attention by virtue of his budding pretty boy looks. But far from being offended by this development, he found it strangely flattering, as if a seed of vanity had been implanted within a boy who'd spent the last few years as a swaggering lout.
      To a degree then, it was a case of an ugly duckling suddenly finding themselves to be a swan, and enjoying the resultant notoriety, such as that latterly conferred on the young Spaniard of the Bar Castilla.
      Not that he'd ever been ugly, in fact, several of his mothers female friends had already commented on his looks; but he'd never seen himself as any kind of Adonis with his twitching head, greasy lank hair, bony round shoulders and splayfooted walk.
      Having said that, though, he had nurtured a sentimental streak throughout his teens that placed him somewhat at odds with his peers.
      It also made him susceptible to such notorious tearjerkers as Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific", whose movie version, which he saw at the flicks with his mother at about 15 years old, had a life-changing effect on him.
      And the same applies to John Schlesinger's stunning screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd", which may have initiated a lifelong love affair on his part with hopeless love and high romantic tragedy.
      Yet, the softening process that took place in the closing months of 1972 was unprecedented in its sheer intensity, and can be at least partly attributed to the spirit of the times. For popular culture was changing, and hirsute Rock and Roll stars in scruffy denim flares were no longer the last word in cool. While the cinema was producing a new breed of film idol who was a far cry from the he-man of old.
      It received a further boost when, towards the new year, he saw former Bubblegum band the Sweet on an afternoon Pop programme called "Lift Off With Ayesha".
      The Sweet had once incarnated all he opposed in terms of commercial chart Pop, yet, watching them prance around in high heels and make up, pouting and preening like a quartet of hysterical transvestites, he underwent what was little short of an epiphany.
      Then, several months later, veteran hopeful Rock star David Bowie appeared on the chat show "Russell Harty Plus" with his eyebrows shaved and a glittering chandelier earring dangling from his left ear, and so David's devotion to Glam became total.
      Even David's mother was charmed by Bowie, when, towards the end of the interview, after Harty had made a joke about his dainty strap-on platform shoes, he referred to the chat show host as "silly", before flashing an impossibly innocent smile:
      "Aww, he's sweet," the former Miss Ann Watt might have said; and she was also enchanted by the wit of Elton John when he appeared on Harty's show a short while later. But when she caught sight of the cover of the first New York Dolls album, which David had latterly ordered by post through his usual outlet, she told him that apart from the hardest hard core pornography, she couldn't imagine anything quite so repulsive to the eye, or something to that effect.
      Yet, Bowie's sphinx-like charisma was so potent that even some of the most unreconstructed of macho men were drawn, irresistibly, to his art, which combined the most seductive melodies with complex, deeply literate lyrics.
      For the cult of androgyny was a powerful force in Britain in 1973, having been earlier incubated by both Mod and Hippie culture, and musical acts as diverse as the Stones, the Kinks, Alice Cooper, the Stooges and T. Rex.
      Furthermore, it was reinforced in the cinema by several movies featuring angelically beautiful men.
      And yet, you still put yourself in danger if you chose to parade around like a Glam Rock star in the mean streets of London or any other major British city in the early 1970s; and therefore few did.
      But David fantasised about fame and adulation as never before throughout the Glam era, and he built an image based on his idol Bowie, spiking his hair like him, and even peroxiding it at some point.
      And there will surely be those students of human psychology who will wonder precisely what effect the gender revolution exerted on young men such as David who came to manhood at a time some of the foremost male heroes of the culture resembled beautiful women.
      And they did so of course in direct defiance of strict Biblical commands concerning sexual appearance.
      Yet David had initially resisted the seductions of Glam, until its leading exquisites came to represent something quite deliciously taboo to him. And he sought to emulate them, resenting his adolescent stubble, which he smothered with concealer along with unsightly acne spots, and which he would soon enhance with subtle application of rouge.
      And quite understandably perhaps, he didn't entirely fit in in his blue collar surroundings, unlike his brother who wasted little time in becoming part of a local youth scene centred mainly around football, traditional sport of the British working classes.
      As to David, he came into his own in La Ribera, and it was towards the end of the summer of '73 that he finally started being noticed in a big way by the local youth, most of whom were from either Murcia or Madrid. He'd croon for crowds of La Riberan boys and girls, who'd make requests for their favourites along the lines of:
      "Oye, David, canta la de Gilbert O'Sulliban!"
      "Conoces Cat Estebens?"
      "Canta como Sinatra!"
      An ever-evolving group forged an incredible closeness that summer that lasted for a full four years, and oh what magical summers they were for both Dany and David. They'd never forget them, nor be able to fully recapture the purity of the joy they knew in the still so innocent Spain of the final years of the Franco regime.

      Even later in '73, the minesweeper HMS Thamesis set out for Bordeaux in Gironde in the south west of France. It was David's first voyage as an Ordinary Deckhand with the RNR, and he was just seventeen years old.
      He struck up a friendship with the most unlikely pair of bosom buddies he ever came across in the RNR or anywhere else.
      One half was Mickey, aged about 23, and rumoured to be a permanent yearlong resident of HMS Thamesis. The other was just as much of a lad as Mick even though he boasted the patrician manner of a City of London stockbroker or merchant banker.
      Mick took David under his wing with a certain intimidating affection:
      "We'll make a ruffy tuffy sailor of you yet," he once promised him, even though both men knew he'd never be anything other than the most useless mariner in the civilised world. And there was one occasion when, during some kind of conference being held below deck, he was asked by an officer what he thought of minesweeping, and he replied:
      "It's a gas!"
      On another, after the ship had been prepared for a major manoeuvre, such as a jackstay transfer, and every hand was in their respective allotted position, he was found wandering about on deck in a daze, and when asked what he thought he was doing, casually told them:
      "Just taking a stroll..."
      And it was incidents like these that made him the object of much good-humoured banter onboard the Thamesis, where he served as a kind of latter-day Billy Budd. Although without a tithe of the young foretopman's seamanship.
      Its crew spent its final night in a club in the southern port of Portsmouth, though it might just as easily have been Plymouth.
      The main event was a hyperactive drag artiste who tried desperately to keep them entertained with cabaret style numbers sung in a high woman's voice, and bawdy jokes told in a deep manly baritone, but he was way out of his depth and the Thamesis salts subjected him to a savage barrage of heckling for his pains.
      At one point - perhaps in the hope of seeing a friendly face - he turned towards David, and excitedly trilled:
      "Ooh...you look pretty, what's your name?"
      "Skin!" the sailors bellowed back, as in "a nice bit of skin", which may have referred to David's cherubic appearance.
      A little while later, the tar with the beard who'd been seated next to David all night asked him to hold the mike for him while he performed Rossini's "William Tell Overture" on his facial cheeks. And he ended up passing out on the table in front of him after having collapsed face down with an almighty CRASH! But he wasn't the only one to suffer such an undignified fate that bacchanalian night.
      And speaking of bacchanals...as soon as he was back onshore, David resumed his growing passion for all that was louche, bizarre and decadent in music, art and culture.
      However, increasingly from '74 onwards, he turned away from what he now saw as the old hat tackiness of Glam Rock, convinced that Modernist outrage had nowhere left to go. Instead, his devotion started to centre on the more refined corruption of the golden age of Modernism of ca. 1890-1930, and especially its leading cities, in terms of their being beacons of revolutionary art, and of luxury and dissolution. They included the London of the Yellow Decade, Belle Époque Paris, Jazz Age New York, and most of all, Weimar Republic Berlin.
      At some point in '74, he started using hair oil or brilliantine to slick his hair back in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, sometimes parting it in the centre just as his idol had done. And to build up a new retro-style wardrobe.
      This went on to include a Gatsby style tab collar, which he wore either with striped collegiate tie, or cravat or neck scarf. Over this, he might wear a short-sleeved Fair Isle sweater, a navy blue blazer from Meakers, and a belted fawn raincoat straight out of a forties film noir. His grey flannel trousers from Simpsons of Piccadilly typically yielded to a pair of two-tone correspondent shoes.
      There were those artists in the Rock and Roll vanguard around 1974-'75 who appeared to share his love affair with the languid Café and Cabaret culture of the continent's immediate past. Among these were established acts, such as David Bowie and Roxy Music, and newer ones such as Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel; and Ron and Russell Mael from L.A band Sparks. Some of Roxy's followers even went so far as to sport the kind of nostalgic apparel favoured by Ferry himself, but they were rare creatures indeed in mid-seventies London.
      As for David, he wore his bizarre outdated costumes in arrogant defiance of the continuing ubiquity of shoulder-length hair and flared denim jeans. And in the summer of '75, he would even go so far as to attend a concert at West London's Queen's Park football stadium in striped boating blazer and white trousers like some refugee from a Cambridge punting party.
      While all the while he was surrounded by hirsute Rock fiends, including his professorial friend Jim, who felt moved to enquire of him:
      "You're just taking the mickey, aren't you"
      But he was deadly serious. And even though the headliners were his one-time favourites Yes, whose "Relayer" album he'd bought the previous year, his passion for Progressive Rock was a thing of the past.
      And he'd moved on since '71, towards a far deeper love of darkness and loss of innocence.
      But there was nothing even remotely dark about the time he fell in love with Dutch beauty Marianna, while sitting his Spanish "O" level in June 1974 in Gower Street, Central London. Although she didn't look Dutch; in fact, with her tanned complexion and long dark brown hair, she was Mediterranean in appearance.
      It was probably she who approached David, because he'd have never made the first move, and in all the time he knew her, he didn't have the guts to tell her how he felt. So, once they'd completed their final paper, he allowed her to walk away from him forever with a casual "I might see you around," or some other cliché of that kind.
      For about a week, he took the train into London and spent the days wandering around the city centre in the truly desperate hope of bumping into her. One time he could have sworn he saw her staring coolly back at him from an underground train, possibly at South Kensington or Notting Hill Gate, just as the doors were closing. But he was powerless to act, and simply stood there as the train drew away from the station.
      In time, his infatuation faded, but certain songs - such as "I Just Don't Want to be Lonely" by The Main Ingredient, and "Natural High" by Bloodstone - would continue to recall for him those few weeks in the summer of '74 which he spent in hopeless pursuit of a woman of whom he knew quite literally nothing.
      It wouldn't be long before he'd forsaken his twenties style image; nor started to wonder whether Marianna had been slightly repelled by the vast expanse of white forehead that had been revealed by his slicked back hair, slicked back with hair oil or brilliantine.
      Once he stopped styling his hair like Valentino, his romantic appeal started to swell by degrees...but this didn't return Marianna to him. She was lost to him forever, and whether he ever fully recovered from her loss is open to debate. The chances are he never did.

      In July, David's father decided that a week-long yachting course in the little village of Lymington on the south coast of England might help him develop some sorely needed moral fibre.
      He was to reside for this period in a guest house owned by the gracious Mrs Edith Drummond-Smith, whom David came to see as belonging to a type of quintessentially English upper class widow native to the sailing-besotted villages and hamlets of England's south coast. To him, they were all charming if slightly aloof, immaculately spoken, kind, calm and considerate, and distinguished by the most beautiful manners imaginable; although for all David knew about them, Mrs Drummond-Smith may have been the only one to be so blessed.
      For he knew little of the arcane secrets of heartland or rural England, his father and mother having originated from the commonwealth nations of Australia and Canada respectively, while his earliest months were spent in a tiny little workman's cottage in London's Notting Hill. His veins could boast English, Scottish and Scots Irish, and possibly also Danish and Irish blood. Yet, he dressed as a perfect English gentleman, or rather how such an individual might have dressed several decades theretofore, which rendered him an unusual figure in a Britain still dominated by long hair and flared trousers.
      Also resident with Mrs Drummond-Smith were Gilles, a Belgian boy of about twenty, and Mr Watts and his teenage son Dylan, and while all were on the same course as David, they had different sailing instructors.
      For example, David had been allotted the course director, Captain Peter St Aubyn, which was propitious, as he was an alumnus of his own alma mater of Welbourne College, a private school of military stripe situated in the wealthy county of Berkshire near London.
      All four became firm friends, David and Gilles becoming especially close. As to Dylan, he liked to listen to David's theories on music and fashion, and was fascinated by his use of brilliantine, even going so far as to dab some in his own hair on one occasion. He did so in the hope it would make him resemble the man who was for him, an icon of "smoothness", a synonym for cool in those days. This being singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry who was also a favourite of David's; in fact, David's twenties-inspired wardrobe was remarkably similar to Ferry's.
      On the first day of the course, David discovered who would be sailing with him for the duration of the week; namely Corin, a cool, tall, dark young man of 28 with a full moustache; and typically sporting fashionably heavy spectacles; Tom, a sweetly genial man of about sixty or seventy; and Simon and Peg, a deeply pleasant young married couple. To say nothing of the skipper, a charismatic presence whose wryly solemn countenance concealed a warm heart and "pythonesque" sense of humour.
      That evening, David dined in what may have been the clubhouse of that bastion of Englishness and English privilege and English exclusivity, the Yacht Club...perhaps even the Royal Lymington Yacht Club itself.
      He did so in the company of Corin, who informed him of his humble origins and the fact that through natural resourcefulness and sheer hard graft, he'd ascended to a managerial position within his chosen profession. They'd become good friends despite David's bizarre affectations, and Corin's suspicion thereof, but Corin couldn't help but warm to the kid despite himself.
      But uncompromisingly masculine men such as Corin were always a little perturbed by David, as Hemingway had been of his friend and fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom he met in Paris in 1925. And in the essay collection "A Movable Feast", he describes Fitz as having "a delicate long-lipped Irish mouth that, on a girl, would have been the mouth of a beauty."
      David loved to play the clown for those who both liked and despaired of him; and Corin certainly fell into this category, but then so did Captain Peter St Aubyn, as he was to discover once they'd finally set sail.
      "Take the helm, David, steer 350," he ordered, and David duly did as he was told, before settling himself comfortably at the helm as the yacht meandered peacefully through Hampshire waters under a balmy midsummer sun.
      "Mmm," he cooed, perhaps a little like the youthful Kenneth Williams, "this is nice..."
      "Oooh, you thing," said the skipper, causing David to lash out with a sneaker-shod foot, much to the good captain's amusement.
      And then there was the time Corin goaded him for having wrongly plotted a course, and he snapped like a petulant schoolboy.
      "Oh shut up," he hissed, "let's see you do better!"
      And once again, the skipper came up with his catchphrase, but with even more glee than the first time:
      "Ooh, you thing!"
      On the second or perhaps third evening of the course, there was a large informal get-together at the clubhouse which included David, Corin, Gilles, Dylan and four or five other yachtsmen, the course's acknowledged wunderkind Daryl among them.
      "He comes alive in the evening, this boy," Corin told the assembled yachtsmen, clearly referring to David's propensity for getting tight each night, and the shenanigans that inevitably ensued.
      "I'm not an alcoholic," said David.
      "You drink three pints to my one," Corin countered, "so you've certainly got potential."
      At this point, David decided for reasons best known to himself to have a dig at easy-going course whiz-kid Daryl:
      "Daryl," he said, "how long have you had long hair?"
      "What...long hair?" said Daryl, "what's that got to do with anything...is my hair long...I don't know anything about that."
      "Do you realise that twenty years ago with your hair as it is, even though it's only a little below your ears, you would have been hounded, persecuted, beaten, for being a deviant, a freak, are you trying to ignore that?"
      "And you would have been accepted?" said Daryl.
      "Oh yes," David replied, looking over his attire, "knife edge pressed flannels, blue blazer, white V neck pullover, open neck shirt and cravat, a bit sporty, I suppose, but utterly acceptable."
      "How safe!" scoffed Daryl.
      "Safe?" said David incredulously, "that's something I never am, safe."
      "Well, quite frankly, I think you look ridiculous!"
      Following this last statement of Daryl's, David could no longer contain his hilarity, but his laughter was like no other his new friends had ever heard, nor would hear again. For it assaulted the soft-carpeted clubhouses quiet and respectable clientele as if it had proceeded from the depths of Hell themselves.
      Daryl, struggling gamely to control his own mirth, had gone a redder shade of tomato, while Corin, quivering with glee, hid his face in an attitude of mock-mortification.
      "I disown him," he gibbered, "he's insane, insane."
      Gradually the hysteria subsided, and Corin decided it was time David had a taste of his own medicine.
      "How do you get those bracelets on your wrist?" he queried, referring to the four or five bangles David liked to wear on one wrist in those days:
      "Easily," David languorously replied, displaying his remarkably slender wrists, "I have very graceful wrists."
      "Let me see," said Corin, almost in a whisper, and David duly handed him one of his bangles, before it was passed around the entire group, each member attempting, with considerable difficulty, to put it on his own wrist. Presently, it was back in David's possession, but rather than express his relief, he cried out in his distress, having discovered it had been cruelly mutilated by one or another member of his party.
      "My bracelet," he hollered, "look what you've done to it...I entrusted it to you and you've gone and twisted and bent it."
      The group stared as one at David, not knowing whether to look sincerely sorry for what they'd done, or merely laugh at his distress, and so settled for a nervous cross between the two. After several uncomfortable moments, Gilles broke the silence by requesting to see the injured bracelet.
      "Let me see eet," he said, "I weel try to feex eet."
      Everyone was hushed as the Belgian contemplated the bangle, touched it, turned it round and rattled it, and finally, with considerable calm, placed it on the floor. He scratched his head, as if trying to settle on a decision, and ended up extricating one of his shoes.
      David looked a little concerned at this turn of events, but in a desperate attempt to preserve his cool, lit a cigarette, which promptly fell from his slim white hand when a terrible crack like a tree hit by a sudden flash of lightning echoed throughout the clubhouse.
      Gilles was attempting to persuade the bracelet to revert to its original shape by raising his shoe, profuse with studs, before repeatedly bringing it down on the trinket with all the strength he could muster.
      "Oh come on, it's not funny," David protested, reaching out to retrieve his precious bauble, which a grinning Gilles now held out for him, but which, far from being shattered beyond repair, was barely altered from its original slightly misshapen state.
      "Ees all right, David," Gilles chuckled, "I was eeteen' zee floor wiz my shoe, not your brezlet."
      David looked at Gilles, then he looked at the other lads, then his eyes began to sparkle, his throat to gurgle, before it all came out at once, that terrible infernal laugh:
      "Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi..."
      "I'm not with him!" cried Corin
      "We'll get thrown out!" said Daryl.
      "He's insane...in-sane!"
      "Come on, drink up, lads," David barked suddenly, having made a rapid recovery from his latest paroxysm, "let's go where the action is, let's go and find a party or something!"
      "No, it's not worth it," said Daryl, "we're having a good time here. You're a real laugh, David, just so long as you don't go too far. We might as well stay."
      "Not me," David announced, "I'm getting out of here. I need a change of atmosphere. Who's coming?"
      "Yeah, might as well," Corin volunteered
      "Yah, me too," the boy from Belgium followed suit.
      So, the trio left the clubhouse, and before long, they were heading along a main road, although to precisely where they hadn't the slightest notion. David performed his manic laugh to each passing car, sometimes even going so far as to stand in the road as he did so, before fleeing at the final second. After a time, though, he tired of this lethal activity and took to chatting to Gilles, with whom he felt such a strong rapport.
      "That Belgian girl in your group is nice, isn't she?" he said.
      "Oh yes," said Gilles, "eef only 'er farzer wuren't weez 'er all zee time."
      After a time alone, they found themselves being trailed by two pretty teenage blondes; and perhaps urged by Corin or Gilles, David turned around to confront them with an unlit cigarette in his hand.
      "Can I have a light, please?" he said, looking intently at one, then the other of the two young women, one of whom was slim and petite, the other, far taller, and yet with the same long blonde hair. After he'd succeeded in getting his cigarette lit, he made an effort at conversation.
      "So, what shall I do, stay here with you, or go back to my friends?"
      "Stay 'ere," one of the girls mumbled, almost inaudibly, in a strong London accent.
      "Pardon?" said David, and both girls answered him by smiling, so David bid them goodbye, and the trio then continued on its way, with the two girls in hot pursuit.
      "Why don't you turn around?" Corin suddenly said.
      "Why?" said David.
      "They like you," Corin announced.
      "Course they do. If you can't see that, you're more short-sighted than I thought you were."
      So David returned to his admirers.
      "What are your names?" he asked them.
      "My name's Julie," said the smaller of the two, "and this here's Sue...what's yours, baby?"
      "Why do you call me baby?" asked David.
      "Because you look like one," said Julie.
      "I happen to be all of eighteen years old," said David, feigning indignation.
      "We thought you was abaht twen'y," said Sue.
      "Really? Well I'm eighteen and my name's David."
      "Wha's your name?" said Julie, gesturing towards Gilles.
      "My nem eez Gilles, he replied.
      "Where are you from?" Sue asked David.
      "London. Why?"
      "You sahnd Ameri'an or somefing."
      "Well, I am half-Canadian."
      "Oh, that would explain it," Julie resolved.
      "Why," David went on, "where do you girls come from?"
      "We come from London an all," said Sue, "sarf London."
      "What are you doing down here?"
      "We're spendin' a few days on 'er dad's boat," Sue went on, pointing at Julie.
      "Has your dad got a boat?" David asked, as if amazed these two cockney waifs should be associated with the super-posh world of yachting.
      "A yacht!" cried Julie, "not just a boat. Don' come from any old family, I don'."
      For reasons best known to themselves, the three young men set on their way once again, and once again, they were followed by the girls, who took to kicking a stray tin can around to make their point.
      "I weesh Coreen were not 'ere," Gilles whispered into Shane's ear.
      "Why?" said David.
      "Eez prezence eez deesconcertin" zem."
      As if to confirm what Gilles had just said, the girls suddenly turned a corner and left their half-hearted suitors to their own devices.
      "See ya, then!" they cried.
      "Bye, girls!" said David.
      "Bye, David darlin'!"
      And with that, they disappeared, doubtless feeling, quite reasonably, that they'd given David and Gilles every opportunity to demonstrate their romantic interest in them.
      "I wonder where zey went?" Gilles wistfully enquired.
      "I shouldn't worry about it," said David, "you've got your Belgian girl, haven't you?"
      "'Ave I?" the forlorn Walloon replied.
      Perhaps he couldn't understand why David had behaved in such a cavalier fashion towards two girls who'd clearly been besotted with him on sight. But then was he not a normal young man, devoid of the loser gene that causes those such as David to waste and squander every good gift that comes their way.
      It's as if they don't have enough to fight against, or fight for perhaps, a little like WASP prince Hubbell Gardiner, as played by Robert Redford in the romantic movie masterpiece "The Way We Were". For at the beginning of the film, a short story of Gardiner's, "An American Smile" is read out in class by his college professor in which he describes himself as "in a way like the country he lived in; everything came too easily to him."

      The Isle of Wight is separated from the mainland by a strait of the English Channel known as the Solent, and on David's penultimate day, a trip to this island county lying to the south of Hampshire took place, and the entire course was involved.
      Lunch was in a public house in the port of Yarmouth to the east of the island, where tall, slender English gentlemen of the old school, clad in double-breasted reefer jackets and flannels or white duck trousers, were apt to take a tincture or two between sails. Some sported bow ties, and others, magnificent handlebar moustaches which appeared to betoken a former membership of the Royal Air Force. Their wives favoured large navy-blue pullovers, silk scarves and slacks, although by nightfall they'd be in full evening dress.
      Back in Lymington for tea, David happened to bump into Sally, a fresh-faced young sailing ace, possibly in her early 20s, who typically scorned the use of beautifying products, but for whom David had a soft spot nonetheless.
      "Hello," he said, "where are you going?"
      "Back to my room, " Sally replied.
      "Oh", he went on, "hey, apparently there's a get-together of all the crews on the course tonight, you know, a few drinks, a bit of dancing, a lot of laughs, are you going?"
      "I don't know, I..."
      "Oh, go on, " he urged, "I'm going. "
      "Well...okay," she said, "I suppose I'll go...uh...this is where I turn off."
      "Oh. Well..."
      "See you tonight then."
      "Yes, bye...hey wait! Do you know my name?"
      "Yes, of course I do, David, bye!"
      "Bye, Sally!"
      Back at the guest house, the clock struck five to find David dressed to the nines as was his wont, and taking tea with Mrs Drummond-Smith, who'd have been scandalised had anyone suggested he was anything other than a deeply likeable young man with a single, glaring fault: forgetfulness.
      She had a duty to charge her guests for the packed lunch she made for each of them every day, even if they forgot to take it, but never did in David's case, despite the fact he was the only one of her guests to routinely leave his lunch behind.
      She seemed to have something of a soft spot for him, for he may have reminded her of the bachelor dandies of her youth.
      A little later, David, Corin and Gilles set out together for the dance, briefly stopping off at a pub for some much needed Dutch courage, although David's was the greatest need by a hectare or three.
      "Half of bitter, please," Corin ordered.
      "Half a shandy, pleez," came Gilles' modest request.
      "Double scotch for me please," said David...and a mere ten minutes later, he was ordering a second one, while Corin wisely passed, and Gilles ordered his usual half of shandy. Some ten minutes after this, David started up on the pints.
      "Come on, David," said an exasperated Corin, "let's go."
      "We mus' go," Gilles agreed.
      "Drink up!" Corin went on, "we don't want you in a disordered state before the dance, now, do we?"
      David swallowed his pint and the three departed the pub. Shortly afterwards, they arrived at the site of the evening's festivities which was a large hall filled with tables and chairs with a space left for dancing. But David's first concern was locating Sally.
      He saw her sitting next to a slim, smart, casually dressed young man with fashionable light blond collar length hair and a neatly trimmed beard, and approached the apparently happy couple, perhaps half-expecting she'd quit her date just to be with him.
      "Hello, Sally," he said.
      "Hello," she replied.
      "Do you want a drink?" he asked.
      "Er, no thanks," she said, "but I will have one later on."
      "Okay then," he agreed, before making his way to the bar.
      "Double scotch!" he ordered, and then some ten minutes later, he ordered a second one, soon after which, things went a bit hazy for him. However, one thing is certain, the evening ended with his jumping fully-clothed into the filthy waters of Lymington harbour.
      What happened is that Corin and Gilles had spent some time wrestling with him, pretending they were about to throw him in, and then, as if exhausted by their efforts, they relented. At which point, to their amazement, David launched himself in by his own volition, before spending some time in his soaking wet clothes discussing music with a coterie of hippies encamped nearby listening to "The End" by the Doors.
      The final day of the course was a melancholy one for David. For someone had told him it was possible to catch a deadly disease from swimming in the waters of Lymington harbour.
      Around lunchtime, Dylan's father Mr Watts found him gazing into the very part of the harbour into which he'd elected to project himself the previous evening, and set about reassuring him that in all probability he'd escape from his injudicious dip unscathed.
      Soon afterwards, David set off for the final time for Mrs Drummond-Smiths elegant domicile in order to pack in anticipation of his fathers arrival, expected later in the day. On the way there, he had a chance meeting with Captain Peter St Aubyn, who urged him to mend his ways in a spirit of paternal concern:
      "David," he said, "stop the drinking and the chasing of the birds, it's a hard world out there."
      While he was touched by the skipper's words, he might as well have told him to stop breathing. He was only 18 after all.
      That's not to say, however, that the vast majority of young people at any given time aren't equipped for success, because they are. It's just that the David Cristiansens of this world are never among them. For them, the party never ends, until it's forcibly closed down forever.
      Soon after reaching the guest house that had been his home for the past fortnight, David discovered that his dad had already arrived. In fact, he was getting on famously with Mrs Drummond-Smith, with whom he was engaged in an animated discussion, whose central topic was: David himself.
      "He is a little eccentric," he told her at one point, which caused the gracious lady to almost cry out in protest, as if it had been a mortal insult.
      "Eccentric?" she exclaimed, "oh, anything but, but he does have one fault, I'm afraid to say, he is rather forgetful."
      She then went on to tell David that Gilles had been looking for him earlier on in the day, and was sorry to have missed him. Of course, were this today, the two young men would have already exchanged e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers. But in those days, precious friendships and romances forged over extended periods of time were all too often discarded overnight to be lost forever. The reason being that the only way to stay in contact was via telephone or snail mail, which required a certain amount of dedication, and not everyone had the patience for it.
      The words of singer-songwriter Carole King's "So Far Away", from her classic "Tapestry" album from 1970, "So far away, doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore?", could be said to be an apt description of social life in the mid 1970s for some people. You could say goodbye to a person you loved on any day of the week, in any month of any year, and never see them again as long as you lived.
      Indeed, after the summer of '74, David never saw Gilles, or Corin, or Dylan, or Daryl, or Sally, or Captain St Aubyn, or Mrs Drummond-Smith, or the two blonde teenagers who'd tried so hard to elicit his romantic interest ever again. But he never forgot them, nor the events of that faraway summer of so long ago.

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    Fri, Apr 6th - 6:33PM

    Epic and Autobiographical (A Versified Finale) 2.

    2012Early 2012Early 2012?2012
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

    Some months after appearing
    In the "Scottish Play" at the Lost Theatre
    In the one-time working class
    West London suburb of Fulham,
    I wrote the piece featured below,
    "Such a Short Space of Time".

    But in the first instance
    It was part of an unfinished short story,
    Not a poem at all.
    My parents were on vacation
    During the period which inspired it,
    Which is to say early in the summer of 1999.

    Hence, I spent a lot of time at their house
    Performing various tasks,
    Such as watering my mother's flowers.
    As well as this, I took sneaky advantage
    Of their absence to transfer
    Some of my old LPs onto cassette.

    It was something my own music system
    Was incapable of doing, unlike theirs.
    And it was a profoundly unsettling experience,
    To listen to songs that, perhaps in the cases
    Of some of them, I'd not heard
    For twenty years, or even twenty five, or more.

    With a heartrending intensity,
    Doing so had the effect
    Of evoking a time
    When I was filled to the brim
    With sheer youthful joy of life
    And undiluted hope for the future.

    Yet as I did so, it seemed to me
    That it was only very recently
    That I'd heard them for the first time,
    Despite the colossal changes
    Brought about not just in my own life,
    But the lives of all those of my generation.

    Hence, I was confronted at once
    With the devastating transience
    Of human life,
    And the cataclysmic effect
    The passage of time exerts on all human life,
    And it was a profoundly unsettling experience.

    Such a Short Space of Time

    I love not just those
    I knew back then,
    But those who were young
    Back then,
    But who've since
    Come to grief, who,
    Having soared so high,
    Found the consequent descent
    Too dreadful to bear.

    With my past itself,
    Which was only yesterday,
    No, even less time,
    A moment ago,
    And when I play
    Records from 1975, Soul records,
    Glam records, Progressive records,
    Twenty years melt away
    Into nothingness.

    What is a twenty-year period?
    Little more than
    A blink of an eye.
    How could
    Such a short space of time
    Cause such devastation?
    I love not just those
    I knew back then,
    But those who were young back then.

    An Autobiographical Narrative: 2000s

    In the summer of 2003,
    I wrote about an hour's worth
    Of Rock songs in response
    To a request from my dad
    For songs for a possible collaboration
    With the son of a close friend.
    They were as far from Hard Rock
    As it's possible to be,
    Being influenced by such relatively
    Benign and melodic genres
    As Folk, Pop and Soul.

    The songs, some new,
    Some upgrades of old tunes,
    Were recorded on a Sony
    CFS-B21L cassette-corder,
    Which I think has been discontinued,
    And were generally well-received.
    Most have already been featured
    In this collection of writings;
    While all exist as MP3s,
    Except "I Think the World of She"
    And "Love, You've Left Me Once Again".

    So Lovelorn in London Town

    From morn to friendless night
    He tramps the streets
    Just in case he might
    Come across her he's a tragic sight
    But he don't care
    Love gives him might
    He haunts the cafés and the discos
    And the bars so lovelorn

    He knows that he won't find her
    But he's got to keep on trying
    It gives some meaning to his life
    It gives some substance to his time
    It is his motive and his project
    And his plan so lovelorn

    He only met her once
    But it changed his life
    And it changed his type
    And it changed his mind

    They say he once was
    A successful man
    But he threw it all up
    As if he'd gone insane
    And he took to the streets
    And another man was born

    They say love comes but once
    For some but when it does
    It's like a mighty
    Atom bomb inside
    A disease that seizes
    A gentle soul
    And when it comes for him
    He'd better try to hide

    From morn to friendless night
    He tramps the streets
    Just in case he might
    Come across her he's a tragic sight
    But he don't care
    Love gives him might
    He haunts the cafés and the discos
    And the bars so lovelorn.

    O Lover Mine, Where are you Going?

    O lover mine, where are you going?
    O lover mine, where are you going?
    Look, see the signs of summer coming,
    You can't leave me at this time.

    O lover mine, did I not please you?
    O lover mine, did I not please you?
    I tried so hard, tried hard to reach you,
    Hoped that we were doing fine.

    O Lover mine, I'll always love you,
    O lover mine, I'll always love you,
    No matter where, how far you're roaming,
    I'll be here when you return,
    I'll be here when you return,
    I'll be here...I'll be here...I'll be here.

    I Think the World (of She)

    She's precious as can be,
    She means so much to me.
    She spells generosity,
    and she's always
    been a friend in need.

    Been so many years
    Since we met in our heyday,
    So young and so free,
    Sun-soaked days,
    No tears, no cares,
    Back in our heady heyday,
    what I'm trying to say is,
    I think the world of she.

    She's tender as can be,
    Her kindness is for real,
    So real for me,
    She sends warmth to me,
    Like gentle poetry I can feel.

    The thought of her makes me happy,
    Because of all she's done for me,
    I guess you'd say that I've been lucky,
    She's one in a million, can't you see.

    Been so many years
    Since we met in our heyday,
    so young and so free,
    Sun-soaked days,
    No tears, no cares,
    Back in our heady heyday,
    What I'm trying to say is,
    I think the world of she.

    I'm That Kind of Guy

    If you're looking for a guy who will honour you,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    If you're looking for a guy who'll be moral too,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    I believe in what's right,
    and should I take you out day or night,
    You can be sure,
    Should I come to your door,
    You are safe with me.

    I believe in pre-marital chastity,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    I believe in old-fashioned chivalry,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    and in the midst of romance,
    Should I take you out to a dance,
    You can depend, I will defend,
    Our honour to the end.

    So, come on, angel, take a chance on me,
    A man who'll uphold your purity,
    Ain't no kind of bad boy,
    Some might see me as a sad boy,
    But there's more to love than just you and me.

    I believe in courtship purity,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    I believe in the sanctity of matrimony,
    I'm that kind of guy,
    And in the midst of romance,
    Should I take you out to a dance,
    You can depend, I will defend,
    Your honour to the end,
    I'm that kind of guy, I'm that kind of guy.

    Love, You've Left Me Once Again

    Love, you've left me once again,
    Gone to catch an early plane,
    Where you gonna fly this time,
    In search of the perfect clime?

    I am the one you leave behind,
    Worried out of my tiny mind,
    I was the one who saw you through,
    I need your care and loving too.

    Love, you've left the happy home,
    You've pledged your solemn word you'll phone,
    But I would rather you were here,
    You've no conception of my fear.

    Halfway across a crazy world,
    Is no place for such an unknowing child,
    If only you could see me cry,
    Then maybe you'd stop to wonder why.

    An Autobiographical Narrative: 2000s

    "Ancestry Culture Nationhood (All of Them)"
    Is the only full piece to be lifted
    (And subsequently doctored)
    From "At the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road",
    which has as yet only been published
    as an eBook. And which will
    Almost certainly cease to exist
    In its present form in the very near future.
    Its origins lying in the concluding passages
    Of "Spawn of the Swinging Sixties",
    An early version of the memoir,
    "Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child",
    Both it and "Spawn" also being part of "Tail End".

    Ancestry Culture Nationhood (All of Them)


    As a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

    I was a peacock, swathed in decorative gallant dandyism,

    of which I was an acolyte.

    I've learned to love and honour inner masculinity at its purest...leadership, strength of will and purpose, protectiveness, compassion for the weak, courage and chivalry...Thanks to God.

    I feel nothing but gratitude towards all the components which have gone into to making me unique in terms of my gender

    ...ancestry...culture... nationhood...all of them...


    There are those who might look at me and see an individual who treated some of the most precious gifts a person can be blessed with during the prime of their young life with a nonchalance so utterly cavalier as amount to blatant contempt.

    In terms of natural endowment, these would include the kind of intelligence that produced an articulate speaker at just two years old, as well as health so robust that all serious childhood sicknesses were kept at bay until I was 13,

    when I caught meningitis following a spell as a foreign exchange student in St Malo off the Brittany coast.

    By my early twenties anyone who knew me then would be forgiven for believing that if anyone was destined for ultimate celebrity it was me, "le futur célèbre", as I was described in a letter in late '77 by a former friend from France,

    or something similar.

    These theoretical critics of mine might make mention of the fact that for all my lavish good fortune, I've finished up a lost soul haunted by the past, and tormented in the present by unfathomable regret.

    That is far, far from the way I view my situation.

    Some people in this city don't even have a roof over their head.

    As for my being a lost soul, nothing could be further from the truth.

    While I won't deny that I'm inclined to the occasional remorseful mood, the fact remains my soul has been salvaged not lost, which means that one day all my tears will be wiped away...for all eternity.

    At least, that is my hope.

    I'm not the most social of beings I'll admit, and yet paradoxically perhaps, I love to wander among crowds of people, gaining great comfort from doing so.

    The truth is for one reason or another, I'm relatively incapable of pretending to be anyone other than myself in a social setting.

    This in marked contrast to the myself of thirty years ago...a gifted social enchanter...

    ...as a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

    That said, I consider myself to be a person of far greater integrity today by the Grace of God.

    At the same time, I've never been more aware of the necessity of my reliance on God, nor that He'll never leave me nor forsake me.

    When all's said and done, I'm a deeply blessed man for all my superficial so-called woes, because my heart's desire has been fulfilled.

    As for my supposed melancholia, this particular thorn in the flesh has been afflicting Christians for centuries.

    To cite some examples for the sceptical...Martin Luther suffered for much of his life from a tendency towards dejection of spirits which he attributed to a variety of causes including spiritual oppression in the realm of the mind,

    founder of the Quaker movement George Fox was by his own admission "a man of sorrows" in the early days of his walk with God,

    poet and hymnodist William Cowper was a lifelong depressive who endlessly doubted his own eternal salvation,

    Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon was prone to inexplicable anguish accompanied by lengthy bouts of solitary weeping, and so on and so on.

    What though are the tears and trials of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy that awaits the true Believer in Heaven?

    3. (A Definitive Finale)

    If I've given the impression over the course of this piece that I no longer see myself as an artist, then I've done so purely by accident.

    What I resolutely don't do however, is subscribe to the theory of the automatically tormented nature of the creative artist.

    Could God, the Creator of the universe, possibly condone such a role, which has legendarily entailed a variety of tragic conditions deemed to be characteristic of the "tortured artist" including addiction, depression, mental instability?

    Perish the thought.

    God wants artists to work for Him, the supreme Artist, to seek refuge in His love and care, where the sensitivity that is so often their undoing can be a blessing rather than a blight to them.

    I can't deny I'm still deeply drawn to the creative genius of artists, but not in the way I used to be, which is to say from the position of one who worshipped them at their most turbulent and self-destructive, and thence sought passionately to emulate them...

    ...as a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

    ...but from a distance, still appreciating them, but having a heart for them at the same time.

    I especially feel for those artists whose sufferings have resulted in their lives being wrecked by alcohol, my own one-time near-nemesis.

    I'd like to think that there were those, whether artists or not, who in consequence of reading my writings, come to the realisation that escape from alcohol addiction is possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I'm not saying I haven't paid for my past in a worldly sense...

    As a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

    What though are the woes of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy that awaits the true Believer in Heaven?

    What though are the wonders of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy that awaits the true Believer in Heaven?

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    Fri, Apr 6th - 6:22PM

    Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale

    One thing is certain. Paul Runacles had not been born into a typically privileged upper middle class family, and so by the time he arrived at his college, he was bereft of a frame of reference; unlike the majority of his fellow pupils, weaned on the gilded sports of the British social elite.
     And he escaped from his college once, like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...just the once it was...around 1971 or '72 to avoid being punished for something stupid he did.
     It was an utterly pointless exercise as it was the last day of term, but he just panicked and bolted, and kept on running...until he ended up wandering through some muddy field in the heart of the English countryside before simply giving up and sitting by the side of the road. 
     But he never did it again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to his education, and not least the four years he spent at his college.
     Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams to good account.
     And looking back on all he'd lost in late middle age, he'd often weep silently to himself at night, at the end of yet another day spent doing really very little when he thought about it.
     And there'd be times when certain pieces of quintessentially English pastoral music still had the power to evoke his strange and sudden flight, or rush of blood to the head, of over four decades ago. Such as Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending", which bespeaks a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic. And the same could be said for the opening sections of Mike Oldfield's "Hergest Ridge", which tended to convey to him a deep mournfulness silently existent beneath the picture perfect image of English privilege.
     Any argument in favour of such a tragic element would be powerfully reinforced in his eyes by playing the music of the much-loved singer-songwriter Nick Drake, who was not so much handsome as beautiful in what could be called a classically English, soft, wistful, romantic, Shelleyan fashion, with seemingly perfect skin, full lips and a head of cascading curls.
     And in some of his many photos, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the former Doors front man Jim Morrison; and like Morrison, he was a poet as much as a musician. But the likeness ends there, for while Morrison was able to conquer his natural shyness and become a wildly charismatic showman, Drake never mastered the art of Rock performance.
     However, blessed with a precocious musical genius, he secured a recording contract with the Island label while still only twenty years old and at Cambridge University.
     On the surface of things, he was destined for a long and happy life, but unlike his near-double, was unable to translate his enormous gifts into commercial success. And he became very seriously depressed as a result, dying mysteriously at the age of just 26, after having released only three albums in his lifetime.
     Looking back from the vantage point of the early 2010s, Runacles couldn't help thinking that in any era other than that ushered in by the Rock revolution, Drake would have pursued a career more suited to his background and temperament. As opposed to one which, while ensuring his immortality, clearly caused him an inestimable amount of pain.
     And he came to maturity in a Britain whose young were in active rebellion against the Judeo-Christian value system on which the nation had been founded. So was perforce affected by the spiritual chaos of the times, which propelled him towards the endless night of worldly philosophy, deadly for a mind as litmus-paper sensitive as his.
     And listening in late middle age to such perfectly English examples of pastoral music as Drake's "River Man", which bespeaks a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic, Runacles became suddenly cognizant of a colossal compassion within himself.
     But not just for the youthful Runacles...who ran away from his college once like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...so much as for the privileged classes as a whole...those traditionally educated at public schools.
     A somewhat unusual receptacle for the milk of human kindness, some might say. But the privileged among us are surely no less in need of consideration than any other social class. 
     For despite the fact that the vast majority of those who pass through the British public school system go on to lead full and successful lives entirely free from melancholy, social advantage can clearly be a heavy burden to bear for some. Such as Nick Drake who sang so devastatingly of "falling so far on a silver spoon" in the dark pastorale, "Parasite".
     As to Runacles, he'd not been born into a typically privileged upper middle class family, and so by the time he arrived at his public school, he was bereft of a frame of reference, unlike the majority of his fellow pupils, weaned on the gilded sports of the British social elite.
     Yet, a close connection existed in the shape of his paternal grandmother, born into what was once known as the lower gentry, in as much as her father was independently wealthy, and so had no need to work.
     Yet, she left her first husband to live in Australia with a man she'd met in Ceylon while working on a tea plantation, a Danish citizen who'd allegedly once been a successful businessman, until a reversal of fortune reduced him to penury. The outcome was she was cast out into a kind of social exile, exacerbated by the Dane's slow decline and death from multiple sclerosis. At least, that's how Runacles saw it.
     His mother, on the other hand, was the product of working class immigrants to British Canada from Ulster, Ireland and Lowland Scotland. And it amused him to think there was a good chance distant relatives of his continued to live in these regions.
     But that was not the reason he had trouble adapting to public school life, for his brother positively thrived within it.
     No, there was something intrinsically askew about Runacles himself. For after all, who thinks of running away on the last day of term without any purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?
     The truth is while public schools have long served as the traditional places of learning for future members of the British governing and professional classes, they have never done so in the capacity of pampering wet nurses.
     And so not every child who finds themselves within the bosom of such institutions is able to develop along extraverted lines. For during Runacles' time at his own college, there were boys who responded to the intensely hierarchical nature of public school life with varying degrees of self-effacement.  And not just initially, for most new boys are inclined to quail when confronted with this ancient way of life for the first time, but afterwards too. So that they remained relatively quiescent even while succeeding within the system.
     Yet he himself was not among them, for while he could hardly be said to have thrived, he was yet happy in his own way, and enormously popular. What they used to call a character. So this strange flight of his was totally out of character, especially seeing as he was famous for his resilience, having been one of the most intensely disciplined pupils of his generation.
     But he never ran away again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to his education, and not least the four years he spent at public school.
     Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again, leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams into good account.
     Now, souls in thrall to the psychological persuasion might assert that failure in life is but the consummation of an underachieving childhood.
     But the Runacles of the early 2010s had no time for theories of this kind, since pupils historically written off by their teachers via the medium of the school report have included the greatest Englishman of them all. No, not Runacles...Churchill.
     While many might dispute this fact, and goodness knows Churchill has his detractors, few would go so far as to label him an underachiever.
    And Runacles himself was offered multiple opportunities to turn his life around; so why didn't he do it...simply in order to prove to the world that while a failure on the surface, he'd been a success all along?
     There's no sure way of knowing why other than to have recourse to a theory earlier expressed in this piece, that there was something intrinsically askew about Runacles himself. For after all, who thinks of running away on the last day of term without any purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?

    And who knows how long he'd have sat there, had it not been for the fact that as he did so, his Divinity teacher happened to spy him while driving by before offering him a lift back to college.
     And as might be expected, by the time he arrived, there was hardly anyone left; yet, he was summoned by his housemaster, who assured him he'd not be punished, for after all, it was the last day of term, and school was over for a month or so, and he was therefore free to do as he wished within the limits of the law.
     But there was no one to take him home, as his mother had earlier departed without him, as no one was able to tell her where he was. So he contacted his father, who then set about the hour-long journey from London to Berkshire to pick him up.
     And he later heard from his friends about just how frantic with worry his mother been when, after innocently turning up to take her son home, she was informed he was nowhere to be found. One can only imagine what she went through. And looking back at this terrible afternoon from the vantage point of late middle age, it pained him deeply to think of her suffering.
     But he never ran away again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble, such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to his education, and not least the four years he spent at public school.
     Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again...leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams to good account.
     From the time he was about seventeen, he was desperate to succeed as actor, musician or writer, yet the evidence suggests that despite an enchanting and extrovert personality he was under-equipped for the task he'd set himself.
     For instance, he refused to apply himself to developing as a musician, even when being taught by a true virtuoso, as was the case towards the end of the '70s...when a future member of a supergroup struggled manfully to motivate him. And he was incapable of finishing a single cohesive piece of writing due to his tendency to allow his teeming imagination to take him from one unending digression to another.
     As to his professional life, if you can call it that, it was marked by a similar desultory quality. And in the summer of '77, he worked briefly for a sailing school on the Costa Brava, but lost his job after a matter of weeks; and ended up drifting along the sea front and elsewhere in all his Disco Punk finery.
     And later that year, he spent a short period of time at Merchant Navy School, before serving as a salesman in a long-vanished jewellery store in suburban Kingston, and after calling in sick while working as a filing clerk early in '78, lost that job too. Still...he'd made a good friend on his day off in the shape of a pretty young Punk covered in safety pins who'd spied him wandering aimlessly around Kingston with spiky blond hair like his doppelganger Billy Idol.
     But by this time, he'd been accepted as a student at a prestigious drama school in the centre of London. Although when it came to his actual studies, he failed to convince the authorities he had what it took to succeed as a professional, so departed in the summer of '79.
     What a hopeless case...but then what kind of person decamps on the last day of term without purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?
     For that it was he did; and he never forgot it, for those four years he spent at boarding school were his rosebud years, when everything was heightened in terms of its effects on his temperament which was at once happy go lucky and high strung, an unusual combination perhaps.
     And one that saw him at once almost universally popular, and yet beset by tics and twitches. Such as the head-shaking habit he thought he'd never kick. But which vanished soon after he quit college at the early age of 16, at which point he which he mutated by degrees from a round-shouldered youth with a Chaplin-esque walk into a full-blown narcissus. But what an inefficient Adonis he was...he couldn't even cut it at acting school.
     Although the '80s were a time of relative stability for him, and he worked as an actor for a time, before completing a degree in French and Drama.
     But then he resumed his maundering ways. And perhaps it's significant that one of his favourite songs while at college had been "Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin, a band revered by many of contemporaries. But then the vast majority of these wasted little time in settling into conventional occupations. So why not Runacles?
     Why did he ramble on way beyond his college days despite the philosophy of stability the latter afforded him? It's impossible to say for certain of course, but it may be that like self-styled poor boy and rover Nick Drake, he'd been blessed - or cursed - with the sensitivity of litmus paper. The upshot being that the messages being relayed by the Counterculture penetrated more profoundly into his psyche than those of most of his contemporaries.
     But that's not to say he was alone in this respect, and when all's said and done, he got off lightly.
     But among those messages was a clear exhortation to drift, to wander, to rove, to ramble, which was one of the great leitmotifs of Rock from the outset. But, there being nothing new under the sun, its origins lay deep in the history of the avant-garde, which produced wanderers from life and art alike from the outset.
     And its first stirrings could be said to have reached an apogee in the shape of the Byronic hero, who went on to exert such a powerful influence on French Romanticism. Which while the last, was surely the most powerful of the three great waves of Romanticism, for it was the true forefather of the avant-garde.
     And Runacles became an acolyte of the latter from his late teens, falling in love with one of its icons after the other...Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Cocteau, Genet; and in time, he developed a taste for avant-garde nihilism, and its repudiation of all of the so-called bourgeois values, including sanity and health, even life itself.
     He came to adore the idea of early death, and to resign himself to dying young himself, in fact not so much resign as commit himself. And it may be this refusal to settle into any kind of conventional existence was rooted in a desire to be one of Jack Kerouac's "mad ones", and so to "burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the sky."
     And by the time he quit university in 1985, he'd been a devotee of this dark ethos for several years, so that his art was more important to him than his life; and he welcomed every experience, no matter how ruinous to his health, if it could serve as fuel to his creativity. And the art that fascinated him most was literature, and he longed to be a published writer, but most of what he'd attempted to write since his late teens remained unfinished
     But at university he'd evolved into a magnetically intense stage actor, and he inspired many with his performances, as well as his larger than life personality, so he was likened by one friend to Hesse's Goldmund, by another to Don Juan... while still another suggested he read Buchner's Lenz.
     And one of his tutors informed him he had the makings of a heroic figure, if not as actor, then as academic...and even writer. 
     But Runacles would not have been true to himself had he not failed to justify their faith in him, and so following his eventual departure, he sought work as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. But not for the money, which was excellent, so much as for the sheer joy of showing off, which points to something awry at the base of his soul.
     And by the time he did, he was well on the way to developing an alcohol problem, which in later years he'd at least partly blame on what he termed a negative identity. Which is not to say he was negative in his attitude to others, for contrary to what may be believed given the evidence so far, the effect he exerted on others was almost overwhelmingly positive.
     Yet he deliberately chose such an identity as a means of making himself more interesting than he would otherwise have been; to shock, in other words. And his motives in doing so weren't entirely frivolous, for his attraction to the avant-garde was authentic, and rooted in a deep-rooted raging intelligence that also fuelled his constant, frenetic defiance of respectable society.
     And looking back from the vantage point of late middle age, he'd muse that having foisted this nihilism onto himself for as long as he had, his litmus-paper mind had finally started to turn on him by the middle of the '80s.
     To begin with, his empathetic powers started to recede, which caused him enormous distress, because he'd always found great comfort in his compassionate and affectionate nature.
     And he started to drink as a means of restoring them. But what right did he have to them, when his negative identity included a corrosive cynicism of the type he so admired in his avant-garde idols? It's as if he wanted it both ways; to be loved for his personal sweetness...and yet reserve the right to rage like Rimbaud whenever he felt like it.

    Yet, his inner turmoil proved an asset when it came to his acting career, and he provided some extraordinary performances in the second half of the '80s.
     The first of these took place at the University of Cambridge, where he studied for a term in the winter of '86 as part of their teacher training unit, before typically taking off in the early part of the new year. While the second was at Notting Hill's famous Gate Theatre, where he received some fair reviews for his acting from various periodicals including the London Times.
     But no sooner had he done so than our boy was on the drift again, taking a job as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in one of several TEFL schools situated on London's teeming Oxford Street. But to be fair, he needed the work, for the acting profession provides little by way of remuneration for all but a small minority.
     And by the time he did, his drinking was under control, but long-term tendencies had developed into full-blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so that his day was marked by an endless series of rituals:
     He'd part his hair so that it went from his crown to a specific point above one of his eyebrows, and carry a tiny mirror on his person for the purpose of checking on it throughout the day...iron his shirts inside out with the seams inclining to the right, and touch every item of clothing including his belt with said iron...arrange the items in his jacket pockets so that they went from left to right in terms of importance...constantly wipe the insides of his boots before dousing them with water...and hold an intimate part of his anatomy for a set number of beats...
     But if the physical rituals were tormenting, the mental ones were even more so. And every time he met someone, he became beset by a need to compare them to someone else, so that some kind of card index set to work in his mind, proffering faces until to his horror it stopped at one resembling the person in question. And he'd not rest until he'd calculated the significance of their names.
     It was as if his mind had assumed a life all of its own and started producing thoughts independently of his will. But he came to view it with a certain morbid fascination; and if he drank enough at night, he was able to sedate it. It was a wonderful feeling.
     And yet for all the turmoil of his existence, he remained almost manically elated by life, so that on Saturday mornings, he'd often be seized by a sense of joy so intense it verged on the ecstatic.
     For all that, though, he was at all times aware of a need to keep depression at bay, for on those rare occasions he succumbed to the blues, they were so violent he could be moved to minor acts of self-harm, such as punching himself, or striking his head against any available wall. 
     But they were usually short-lived, and once they'd moved on, the elation returned. It was a wonderful feeling.
     Yet, there may have come a time when the latter started being produced not so much endogenously, as through alcohol. For although he didn't drink on a daily basis, the effects of his nocturnal binges persisted throughout the day in the shape of a euphoria which he supplemented with endless cups of coffee.
     But as might be expected, as a result of poor attendance and other issues, he lost his beloved job early in the 1990s.
     And having found a degree of fulfilment in his post as an Oxford Street English teacher almost unmatched by any other means by which he'd attempted to make a living, he tried desperately to regain it. But his efforts were unavailing.
     So by the summer he'd made a return to the stage, and despite the fact that his work was once more the object of justifiable acclaim, it was a short one. And by the end of the year, he'd embarked on another teacher training course, quitting this one before the end of the term. At which point, he set himself up once again as a peripatetic deliverer of novelty telegrams.
     But the following winter saw him roving anew, ending up in Hastings, an English coastal town with a large London overspill population, a distinction it shares with several dozen towns throughout the UK, some new, some older towns like Hastings, expanded to accommodate the newcomers.
     And once there, he set about taking a course intended to net him a TEFL certificate, entitling him to teach English as a foreign language on an international basis. Because, he still hankered after his days as an English teacher of foreign nationals, having effectively fallen in love with this vocation.
     But if he thought he was going to pass the course, he had another thing coming, because although he was well-liked at Hastings, there were few who knew him there who'd not be of the opinion that something was troubling Paul Runacles.
     Precisely what, they'd be at loss to say...but one things was certain...his mind had become such a chaos he was losing his ability to communicate normally with his fellow man. But he still only drank at night, and to such an extent there were times he lapsed into incoherency. It was a wonderful feeling.
     Soon after returning to London with nothing to show for a fortnight's hard graft and a fairly hefty sum of money, Runacles' drinking assumed a lethal quality from early '91, although in truth it had done so almost a decade earlier. But there was a new recklessness to it in that it became diurnal as well as nocturnal. And perforce, in later years, he'd have little recollection of the rest of '91, and much of '92 to boot, and so struggle hard to recall precisely how he spent his time.
     Looking back from the vantage point of the early 2010s, he recalled quite regular work as a television walk-on. And among the parts he fulfilled as such was that of a crime scene photographer for a long-running British police series.
     He also saw a lot of a close friend from East London, performing with him for a few years from about 1990 as half of a musical duo in various clubs, pubs and restaurants, and even busking on one memorable occasion, which saw the two musicians being showered with cigarettes from an appreciative member of Leicester Square's homeless community.
     And at some point in what may have been '91...or '92, he resumed his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams for a third time.
     While all throughout this period, he wrote...constantly...in a bizarre style replete with archaisms culled from various sources, some being ancient dictionaries, while one was a cheap facsimile of an ancient edition of Roget's Thesaurus.
     In the summer of '92, he made one final attempt at passing the TEFLA certificate, but the strain proved too much for him, and he left before the course had finished.
     While towards the end of the year, he was praised for his portrayal of Stefano in a production of "The Tempest" at Conway Hall in London's Red Lion Square. This despite the fact he was intoxicated from his very first rehearsal to the second he quit the stage after the final curtain call.
     While a little later, he accepted a small part in a play based on the life of James Joyce's beautiful troubled daughter Lucia to be performed at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith. By which time, he'd embarked on yet another teaching training course; and resumed his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams for the fourth and final time.
     And while his life was hectic, he lived it as if in a dream, which is to say in a state of near-constant elation occasioned by vast quantities of alcohol.
     It's difficult to explain the appeal of alcohol taken in the kind of quantities characteristic of Runacles' intake towards the end of 1992 to all who are not nor have ever been alcoholic.  But there is a theory held by several authorities on alcoholism that in certain alcoholics, alcohol comes in time to exert a morphine-like effect. Although how true it is its impossible to say.
     While another proposes that in common with other drugs, alcohol can ultimately tamper with the body's ability to produce the naturally occurring pleasure-inducing substances known as endorphins, such as serotonin and dopamine.
     Certainly there came a time in Runacles' life when the thought of an existence without his beloved elixir filled him with the utmost horror, for what would he be without it, other than the most hopelessly dull and timorous individual? Which would not have been the case for the Runacles of about '82, who was the most incandescent individual even when sober...a natural extrovert whose warmth, while verging at times on the fulsome, was viewed with almost universal appreciation.
     And while much of this warmth remained in late '92, it was being sustained by booze, in fact his entire existence was being held together by ethyl alcohol. So that when he finally did collapse under the strain of his responsibilities, it was a messy crash indeed, provoked first by alcohol alone, then by alcohol in cahoots with prescription medicine. And a few weeks after that, he suffered another crisis involving a potentially deadly combination of prescription medicines.
     But by this time, he'd undergone a Damascus-style conversion to born again Christianity; so that his life from early '93 onwards was as tranquil as it had once been frantic. Not that it ground to a halt, but it certainly slowed down to a snail's pace.

    Early in January 1993, while still attending meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, he received a call from a man who told him he was from an organisation by the name of Contact for Christ based near Croydon in Surrey.
     He'd got in touch with Runacles as a result of a card he'd filled in on a British Rail train some months previously. He tried to put him off, before he knew it, he was at his door, a neat, dapper man with a large salt and pepper moustache and gently penetrating deep brown eyes.
     He wanted to pray with Runacles, who promptly ushered him into his bedroom, where they prayed together at length.
     Later, he found himself a guest at his house deep in the south western suburbs where Runacles was asked to make a list of sins past requiring deep repentance. And once he'd done this, the two men spent a few hours praying over each and every one of these sins Runacles had made a note of.
     The man was a Pentecostal of long standing, and therefore convinced that the more supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit such as Tongues and Prophecy are still available to Believers.
     In this capacity, he opened Runacles' eyes to many facts of the Pentecostal world, including the magazine "Prophecy Today", then edited by the Reverend Clifford Hill, and the works of the late New Zealand Evangelist and writer Barry R Smith.
     And to think there was a time Runacles viewed theories concerning the End Times, or Last Days prior to the Second Coming of Christ with rabid contempt. But he was changing on every level. In fact he was barely recognisable in the early nineties to the man of only a year or two previously, having become calm and sober, even sedate in manner.
     But he'd not entirely lost his taste for underachievement, for in late '94, he failed his third and final attempt at qualifying as a teacher. Only to go on to secure a personal rave review from the London Time Out for his acting in a little-known play on the Fringe, which is the London equivalent of Off-Broadway.
     And his acting triumphs persisted throughout the '90s, a decade throughout which it could be said Runacles survived on the minute amount of energy he had left over after his collapse. But it was hard for him; and in terms of impetus, he was running on empty.
     And it may be his experiences with alcohol and prescription medicine, and the health crisis these produced, had left him at the mercy of some kind of depressive condition. But if this was indeed the case, it was one which while debilitating was yet relatively mild.
     For he still had a great capacity for joy. But a joy born of the peace that comes from the promise of eternal life, which is infinitely purer and more profound form than any earthly joy born of a love affair with the fleeting pleasures of the world. But which doesn't necessarily preclude great suffering, for from the time of his conversion, he was engaged in a terrible struggle with what some Christians called the "old man".
     And there had always been a dark aspect to Paul Runacles, but not in a romantic, Byronic sense, although this appeal was something he'd always coveted. So much as one that was in terrible conflict with his warmer, more affectionate side, which was no less seismically intense than the other.
     It had once made him a ferocious critic of what he saw as the follies of humankind, while threatening to turn his once tender heart to stone.
     But as a Christian, he no longer sought to condemn people, so much as seek their eternal salvation. So this aspect was something to be confronted and tamed, rather than fuelled by corrosively cynical writings, and then partially controlled by lavish quantities of alcohol.
     And from the mid '90s onwards, he went to war against it, little knowing he had the most colossal fight of his life on his hands. For having been sidelined, it's as if it had assumed a terrifying new force, and was determined to win. And it manifested itself not just as depression, but intrusive thoughts that seemed to have a life and power all of their own, in so far as they had an ability to alter his mood and countenance for extended periods of time, which made him petrified of them, and so at all times inclined to permanent social seclusion.
     The first phase came in '95 when Runacles made contact with a former pastor who ran his own ministry from a tiny little village in the south of England after reading an article he'd contributed to "Prophecy Today". And some time later, he travelled down to meet him where he laid hands on him in his capacity of what is known as Deliverance Minister. But this was just the first of several experiences of this kind, one of which saw Runacles being ministered to by a vicar in his ancient village church.
     But nothing could cure Runacles of his restlessness, and, unable to settle in a single fellowship for any great length of time, he encountered a vast variety of churches throughout the '90s...affiliated to the Word of Faith; Vineyard, Baptist and Elim Pentecostal movements among others.
     And in each one, he hoped to find a lasting solution to his shadow side, the darker Runacles who tormented him. And which he saw as a throwback to his pre-Christian self, incubated over the years through immersion in a decadent culture he now uncompromisingly rejected.
     And as he did, he acted more or less consistently, notwithstanding a fairly lengthy period of office work, which stretched from about 1997 to 2000, by which time he'd performed in his final play for a long time.
     He then made an attempt at launching a modest career as a session singer. And as such recorded a vocal in the style of chanson master Charles Trenet, which received some praise for its closeness to the original. In fact, so much so he was asked to record a second one in imitation of one of his favourite song stylists, Nat King Cole, which was rejected.
     But while his session career floundered, his singing career was still in full swing, and he served as front man for a Jazz band for two years between 2000 and 2002. And yet when the latter folded, it was as if Runacles himself himself in a social sense.
     But there was still some fight left in him. And in '03, he started taking himself seriously as a songwriter for the first time, before attempting to place some recently demoed songs with a music publishing company. But none were interested. So he turned to creative writing in early 2006. While at the same time, he set about recording a CD of popular standards, which finally saw the light of day in 2007. And while it received a rave review in the Musicians Union magazine the following year, it sold in pitifully small quantities.
     But he'd achieved a degree of artistic stability nonetheless; and this was reflected in his church life, for towards the end of the 2010s, he tired of church hopping, and permanently settled in a Church of England fellowship in the south western suburbs of London.
     And being both Evangelical and Charismatic, it was highly sought after, with up to four services taking place each Sunday...which meant Runacles could conceal himself within the congregation if he so chose.
     And so it seemed he was definitively quieted; a bizarre state of affairs for one who'd once been among the most frenetically extrovert of souls. But if he found himself all run out, as had been the case all those years ago, when he collapsed by that muddy field in the Arcadian heart of England...well, it was only a temporary situation in his mind, and one day he'd be in a position to quit the wilderness after so many years of languishment.
     And yet there'd be times when, looking back on his youth he'd often weep silently to himself in the dead of night at the end of yet another day spent doing really very little when he thought about it.
     But he was being typically harsh with himself. For hermitic as he was, he was far from worthless. For instance, in his eyes, he'd seen many results from a powerful prayer ministry. And he continued to grow as a musician, planning a future for himself as a singer-songwriter despite being in the midst of late middle age. While he was able to make a modest living as a writer after more than five years of trying to set the world wide web on fire with his pen...and failing.
     And there'd be times when certain pieces of quintessentially English pastoral music still had the power to evoke his strange and sudden flight, or rush of blood to the head, of over four decades ago. Such as Gerald Finzi's "A Severn Rhapsody", which bespeaks a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic. And the same could be said for Elgar's "Elegy" which tended to convey to him a deep mournfulness silently existent beneath the picture perfect image of English privilege.
     When he ran away from his college...like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...just the once it was...to avoid being punished for something stupid he did. And it had been an utterly pointless exercise as it was the last day of term, but he just panicked and bolted, and kept on running...
     And then there was a point he stopped, because he realised to his horror that he'd arrived back at his college. And he saw his mother's car. And it pained him to think what she'd been going through while he ran around the English countryside like some kind of demented faun, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the Arcadian heart of England.
     And having become newly mired, he despaired of ever being fully free again. But he searched for solutions on a constant basis. And he comforted himself with the thought that even if he failed to effect an escape, God was beside him, while four decades previously he had no faith to speak of, other than in the pre-eminence of might. For after all, is Gods Grace not sufficient?
     And he took courage from that fact, while continuing to plan for the time he'd find the strength to make good on the faith that had been placed in him by so many for so long. So when he looked back at memories of his youth, such as the time he ran away from his college on the last day of term without purpose or aim, it would be in peace not pain. And he might even return to the scene of his flight as if in atonement, and commune with the soul of his beloved England with a passion verging on the ecstatic, and then along with so many others, put the memory to rest for all time.

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    Fri, Apr 6th - 6:11PM

    Epic and Autobiographical (A Versified Finale) 1.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

      "Born on the Goldhawk Road"
      Provides a fitting preface
      To a long autobiographical piece,
      Consisting almost entirely
      Of versified prose, and linear in nature,
      Which is to say,
      Beginning with my birth,
      And leading all the way
      To the early 2000s.
      Whilst dealing with my earliest years,
      It was fashioned only recently.
      Although "An Autobiographical Narrative"
      Has been composed not solely of
      Stray pieces of prose
      That failed to make the first team.
      For it includes
      Further versified phenomena,
      Such as refugees from the memoir,
      "Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child".
      The piece itself is a versified version
      Of one much reproduced
      In various forms throughout my writings,
      Although it bears little resemblance
      To its original, which first glimpsed
      The light of day in around 2002,
      As a meagre and mediocre slice of prose,
      And while it can still be read
      On the World Wide Web,
      It's undergone much modification since then,
      Including the alteration
      Of all names of people and places
      For the solemn purpose of privacy.
      Although it was first published
      In a form resembling that found below
      At the Blogster website,
      On the 1st of February 2006.

      Born on the Goldhawk Road

      I was born at the tail end of the Goldhawk Road
      Which runs through Shepherds Bush
      Like an artery,
      And in the mid 1960s,
      Served as one of the great centres
      Of the London Mod movement,
      But I was raised in relative gentility
      In a ward of nearby South Acton
      Whose vast council estate
      Is surely the most formidable
      Of the whole of West London.
      Although my little suburb
      Has since become
      One of its most exclusive neighbourhoods.

      My first school was a kind of nursery
      Held locally on a daily basis
      At the private residence
      Of one Miss Henrietta Pearson,
      And then aged 4 years old,
      I joined the exclusive
      Lycée du Kensington du Sud,
      Where I was soon to become bilingual
      And almost every race and nationality
      Under the sun was to be found
      At the Lycée in those days...
      And among those who went on to be good pals mine
      Were kids of English, French, Jewish, American,
      Yugoslavian and Middle Eastern origin.

      While my first closest pals were Esther,
      The vivacious daughter
      Of a Norwegian character actor
      And a beautiful Israeli dancer,
      And Craig, an English kid like myself,
      With whom I remain in contact to this day.
      For a time, we formed an unlikely trio:
      "Hi kiddy," was Esther's sacred greeting
      To her blood brother, who'd respond in kind.
      But at some stage, I became a problem child,
      A disruptive influence in the class,
      And a trouble maker in the streets,
      An eccentric loon full of madcap fun
      And half-deranged imaginativeness.

      And my unusual physical appearance
      Was enhanced by a striking thinness,
      And enormous long-lashed blue eyes.
      Less charmingly, I was also the kind of
      Deliberately malicious little hooligan
      Who'd remove some periodical
      From a neighbour's letter-box
      And then mutilate it before reposting it.
      The sixties' famed social and sexual revolution
      Was well under way, and yet for all that,
      Seminal Pop groups such as the Searchers
      And the Dave Clark Five;
      Even the Fab Four themselves,
      Were quaintly wholesome figures.

      And in comparison to what was to come,
      They surely fitted in well
      In a long vanished England
      Of Norman Wisdom pictures;
      And the well-spoken presenters
      Of the BBC Home Service,
      Light Service and World Service,
      Of coppers and tanners
      And ten bob notes;
      And jolly shopkeepers
      And window cleaners.
      At least that's how I see it,
      Looking back at it all
      From almost half a century later.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

      In its most primordial form,
      "Snapshots" knew life as spidery writings
      Filling four and a half pages
      Of a school notebook
      In what is likely to have been 1977.

      And these were edited in 2006,
      Before being tendered a new title,
      Subjected to alterations in punctuation,
      And then finally published at Blogster
      On the 10th of March of that year.

      Some grammatical corrections took place,
      Which were suitably mild
      So as not to excessively alter the original work,
      From which certain sentences were composed
      By fusing two or more sections together.

      Ultimately, parts of it were incorporated
      Into the memoir, "Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child",
      And thence into the first chapter
      Of the definitive autobiographical piece,
      "Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life".

      But recently, it was newly versified,
      With a fresh set of minor corrections,
      Although as ever with these memoir-based writings
      The majority of names have been changed,
      And they are faithful to the truth to the best of my ability.

      Snapshots from a Child's West London

      I remember the 20th Chiswick Wolf Cub pack,
      How I loved those Wednesday evenings,
      The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,
      The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair
      During the mass meetings,
      The solemnity of my enrolment,
      Being helped up a tree by an older boy,
      Baloo, or Kim, or someone,
      To win my Athletics badge,
      Winning my first star, my two year badge,
      And my swimming badge
      With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.

      I remember a child's West London

      One Saturday afternoon, after a football match
      During which I dirtied my boots
      By standing around as a sub in the mud,
      And my elbow by tripping over a loose shoelace,
      An older boy offered to take me home.
      We walked along streets,
      Through subways crammed with rowdies,
      White or West Indian, in black gym shoes.
      "Shuddup!" my friend would cheerfully yell,
      And they did.
      "We go' a ge' yer 'oame, ain' we mite, ay?"
      "Yes. Where exactly are you taking me?" I asked.

      "The bus stop at Chiswick 'Oigh Stree'
      Is the best plice, oi reck'n."
      "Yes, but not on Chiswick High Street,"
      I said, starting to sniff.
      "You be oroight theah, me lil' mite."
      I was not convinced.
      The uncertainty of my ever getting home
      Caused me to start to bawl,
      And I was still hollering
      As we mounted the bus.
      I remember the sudden turning of heads.
      It must have been quite astonishing

      For a peaceful busload of passengers
      To have their everyday lives
      Suddenly intruded upon
      By a group of distressed looking Wolf Cubs,
      One of whom, the smallest,
      Was howling red-faced with anguish
      For some undetermined reason.
      After some moments, my friend,
      His brow furrowed with regret,
      As if he had done me some wrong, said:
      "I'm gonna drop you off
      Where your dad put you on."

      Within seconds, the clouds dispersed,
      And my damp cheeks beamed.
      Then, I spied a street I recognised
      From the bus window, and got up,
      Grinning with all my might:
      "This'll do," I said.
      "Wai', Carl," cried my friend,
      Are you shoa vis is 'oroigh'?"
      "Yup!" I said. I was still grinning
      As I spied my friend's anxious face
      In the glinting window of the bus
      As it moved down the street.

      I remember a child's West London

      One Wednesday evening,
      When the Pops was being broadcast
      Instead of on Thursday,
      I was rather reluctant to go to Cubs,
      And was more than usually uncooperative
      With my father as he tried
      To help me find my cap,
      Which had disappeared.
      Frustrated, he put on his coat
      And quietly opened the door.
      I stepped outside into the icy atmosphere
      Wearing only a pair of underpants,

      And to my horror, he got into his black Citroen
      And drove off. I darted down Esmond Road
      Crying and shouting.
      My tearful howling was heard by Margaret,
      19 year old daughter of Mrs Helena Jacobs,
      Whom my mother used to help
      With the care and entertainment
      Of Thalidomide children.
      Helena Jacobs expended so much energy
      On feeling for others
      That when my mother tried to get in touch
      In the mid '70s, she seemed exhausted,

      And quite understandably,
      For Mrs O'Keefe, her cleaning lady
      And friend for the main part
      Of her married life
      Had recently been killed in a road accident.
      I remember that kind
      And beautiful Irish lady,
      Her charm, happiness and sweetness,
      She was the salt of the earth.
      She threatened to ca-rrown me
      When I went away to school...
      If I wrote her not.

      Margaret picked me up
      And carried me back to my house.
      I immediately put on my uniform
      As soon as she had gone home,
      Left a note for my Pa,
      And went myself to Cubs.
      When Pa arrived to pick me up,
      The whole ridiculous story
      Was told to Akela,
      Baloo and Kim,
      Much, much, much to my shame.

      I remember a child's West London

      The year was 1963, the year of the Beatles,
      Of singing yeah, yeah in the car,
      Of twisting in the playground,
      Of "I'm a Beatlemaniac, are you?"
      That year, I was very prejudiced
      Against an American boy, Robert,
      Who later became my friend.
      I used to attack him for no reason,
      Like a dog, just to assert my superiority.
      One day, he gave me a rabbit punch in the stomach
      And I made such a fuss that my little girlfriend, Nina,
      Wanted to escort me to the safety of our teacher,

      Hugging me, and kissing me intermittently
      On my forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks.
      She forced me to see her:
      "Carl didn't do a thing," said Nina,
      "And Robert came up and gave him
      Four rabbit punches in the stomach."
      Robert was not penalized,
      For Mademoiselle knew
      What a little demon I was,
      No matter how hurt
      And innocent I looked,
      Tearful, with my tail between my legs.

      I remember a child's West London

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

      In September 1968,
      While still only 12 years old,
      I became a Naval Cadet
      at the Nautical College,
      Situated then as now
      In the Royal County
      Of Berkshire.
      Which may have made me
      The youngest and unlikeliest
      Serving officer
      In the entire Royal Navy,
      If only for a very, very short time.

      The Four Precious Years (I Spent at Welbourne)

      My third and final school
      Was the former Nautical College, Welbourne,
      Where at still only twelve years old
      I became the youngest kid in the college,
      And an official serving officer
      In Britain's Royal Naval Reserve.
      Founded at the height of the British Empire,
      Welbourne still possessed her original title in '68,
      while her headmaster,
      A serving officer in the Royal Navy
      For some quarter of a century,
      Wore his uniform at all times.
      However, in '69,
      She was given the name Welbourne College.

      While the boys retained their officer status,
      And naval discipline continued to be enforced,
      With Welbourne serving both
      As a military college
      And traditional English boarding school.
      The Welbourne I knew
      Had strong links to the Church of England,
      And so was marked by regular
      If not daily classes
      In what was known as Divinity,
      Morning parade ground prayers,
      Evening prayers,
      And compulsory chapel
      On Sunday morning.

      Later in life, I felt grateful to her
      For the values she'd instilled in me
      If only unconsciously, even though,
      By the time I joined Welbourne,
      These were under siege as never before
      By the so-called Counterculture.
      And in the early 2010s,
      I'd insist if I possessed
      A single quality that might be termed noble,
      Such as patience, or self-mastery
      Or consideration of the needs of other people,
      Then I'm at least partially indebted
      For such a wonderful blessing
      To the four precious years I spent at Welbourne.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

      "For all the Beatniks of SF" consists of
      Edited and versified extracts
      From one of my earliest
      Existent pieces of fictional writing.
      Dating at an estimate from about 1970,
      It reflects the spirit of the times,
      Even though its been sanitised
      For online publication.
      In the years immediately following
      The revolutionary events of '68
      I was deeply in sympathy
      With the West's prevailing
      Adversary Culture
      Or Alternative Society
      Which is very much not the case today.
      And my attitude is dictated
      Not by increasing maturity,
      But by my Christian beliefs,
      Without which I might
      Be an ageing hipster by now,
      Blithely festooned
      With ostentatious symbols of revolt.

      For all the Beatniks of San Francisco

      Shirley Brown was a very beautiful girl,
      And her brunette hair
      Hung down her back
      And as the wind blew thru the window,
      It waved around. It waved around.
      She was making sandwiches,
      And was packing them with fruit,
      And two massive bars of fruit
      And nut chocolate.
      She lit a cigarette, picked up the basket,
      And with a nod of her head,
      Waved her hair backwards
      And walked out the back door
      Into the alley where,
      Propped up against a fence
      Was a blue mini-moped.
      She mounted the bike
      And with a little trouble, started it.
      And the rider made a sudden jump
      As a horn blew behind her,
      And a leather jacketed youth
      Sped by on a butterfly motor-cycle.

      People turned away
      And the music blared on
      And the youths talked on.
      Then, a park keeper came
      But the youths took no notice.
      "What are you kids doing,
      The keeper shouted,
      I've had complaints from all over,
      Clear off, wilya,
      This is a park
      Not a meeting place
      For all the Beatniks in San Francisco."

      John Hemmings started dancing:
      "Cool it, grandpa, get on,
      Get going, don't bug me!"
      The kids had gone too far
      And they knew it.
      Some of them turned away,
      As the radio blared even louder,
      Litter was scattered everywhere.
      "I ain't chicken of dying,
      John Hemmings then said,
      We've got to go on,
      ALL RIGHT! Who are the crumbs
      Who want to chicken out at this point,
      Just take your bikes and go.
      We're free people now.
      Nothing can stop us,
      We'll rule the streets,
      The young people will triumph."
      He was perspiring wildly
      And his black hair
      Hung down his back.
      It waved around. It waved around.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

      This jackadandy's original title was
      "An Essay Written by a Guy
      Who Was Too Lazy to Finish It"
      And it dates from
      My college days, ca. 1971,
      At a time I was yet enamoured
      With the hedonistic
      Hippie way of life.
      It's been reproduced more or less
      Verbatim, notwithstanding
      Some minor editing,
      And versification.
      And I don't think it's necessary
      To add there is no such cologne
      As Monsieur de Gauviché.
      As the first title implies,
      It was never finished,
      But I've taken the liberty
      Of belatedly turning the protagonist
      Into a dandified danger man
      Somewhat in the mould
      Of Peter Wyngarde's
      Stylishly overdressed secret agent
      From the classic television series,
      "Department S" and "Jason King".

      Englishman, Jackadandy, Spy

      He made no move at all
      As the alarm clock went off.
      But ten minutes later,
      It was obvious he was awake.
      He lifted himself out of bed
      And went towards the bathroom.
      He shaved himself
      With a Gillette Techmatic
      After having sploshed himself
      With a double handful
      Of icy cold water.
      He washed again, dried his face,
      Put on some Monsieur de Gauviché
      And got dressed.
      He wore a Brutus shirt,
      A Tonik suit and a pair of
      Shiny brown boots.
      He was six foot two,
      And he smoked sixty Players
      Medium Navy Cut cigarettes
      A day, and he lit each one
      With a Ronson lighter.
      His name was Titus Hardin,
      And he had the biggest
      Wardrobe in London.

      He was a fair-haired man
      And very good-looking.
      He was thirty two years old
      And a bachelor,
      And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
      He was immaculate,
      Wore long sideboards
      And a long moustache,
      And his hair was shortish
      And well-combed.
      His shirt was light blue,
      And he wore a dark blue tie.
      He wore two rings on each hand.
      He washed himself
      After his usual breakfast
      Of toast, black coffee and health pills.
      He cleaned his teeth thoroughly,
      Put some more cologne on,
      And then went to do
      His isometrics.
      His name was Titus Hardin,
      And he had the biggest
      Wardrobe in London.

      He was born in London in 1940.
      He went to Eton and Oxford,
      Had taught at Oxford for eight years
      But was sacked.
      He had been an Oxford Rowing Blue,
      And got a degree in English, Art and History.
      His father was Lord Alfred Hardin, M.P.
      Titus loved teaching,
      And not many people know the reason
      For his dismissal at the age of thirty one.
      He was nearly expelled from Eton
      For smoking, drinking,
      And being head of a secret society
      With secret oaths, but he was
      Too promising a sportsman,
      And all the boys respected him
      As a prefect.
      He was a fair-haired man
      And very good-looking.
      He was thirty two years old
      And a bachelor,
      And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
      His flat was beautifully furnished.
      His name was Titus Hardin,
      And he had the biggest wardrobe in London.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

      "To See You at Every Time of Day"
      Is a song lyric, penned in 2003,
      But heavily based on one composed
      Almost certainly in 1974,
      And which I originally sang
      In a voice I stole from Bryan Ferry,
      Who'd begun his career
      As a conventional Glam Rock icon,
      But who by '74,
      Had reinvented himself as an old-style
      Crooner cum matinee idol,
      And it was his eccentric version of
      "These Foolish Things"
      That was the direct inspiration
      For the lyric in question
      Indeed the song as a whole.

      To See You Every Time of Day

      To see you in the morning
      Be with you in the evening
      To see you here
      At every time of day
      Such a simple prayer
      To see you at every time of day

      To hold you when you're laughing
      Console you when you're crying
      Take care of you
      At every time of day
      Such a simple prayer
      To see you at every time of day

      So tell me why you push me away
      When I've sworn to be forever true
      When I've pledged
      My pure and simple heart to you?
      How can you be so cruel?

      To see you in the morning
      Be with you in the evening
      To see you here
      At every time of day
      Such a simple prayer
      To see you at every time of day.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

      "The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate"
      Was based largely on writings
      Created possibly as early as 1976.
      And as such, it's been reproduced
      More or less word for word,
      Despite having been recently edited
      And subject to basic versification.
      And in its original form,
      It constituted some kind of
      Unfinished fantastical novel
      Centred on the titular
      Athlete, Poet and Reprobate,
      An absurdly self-exalting
      Version of the original.
      For within less than two decades
      Of penning these self-same words,
      I'd come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

      As to novels reflecting the luxurious lifestyle
      Of a bygone age,
      None had been even remotely completed
      By the time of writing,
      And unless I'm grossly mistaken,
      I was several years shy of becoming an actor.
      That said, the timidity described
      Is at least partially accurate,
      And I did feel the need to provide
      An outward show of my significance
      Through a peacock display of dandyism,
      Which included
      Some wildly idiosyncratic behaviour,
      As well as the subtle deployment of cosmetics.

      The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate

      "I can't decide," she said,
      "Whether you're an aesthete
      Or an athlete
      A poet or a reprobate."

      "Even when I'm a lout,
      I'm an aesthete," he answered,
      "I lure, rather than seek."

      "So why do you
      Need to dress up?"

      "Like Ronald Firbank,
      I suffer from a need
      To give an outward show
      Of my significance.

      His lifestyle is an uncanny
      To my own young manhood

      I alienated people
      Through a crippling shyness
      Which I disguised
      With my violently idiosyncratic

      Behaviour, wore cosmetics
      And wrote novels
      That reflected the luxurious
      Lifestyle of a bygone age.

      The sensation
      Of never quite belonging
      Lingered about me always
      That's why
      I became an actor.

      Through heavy experiences
      I have built up
      A stoned wall
      Against arrogance and aloofness

      I am a sophisticated cynic
      With a kind heart
      And a tendency towards regret."

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      The origins of "An Actor Arrives"
      Lie in the barest elements
      Of a story started but never finished
      In early 1980,
      While I was working at the Bristol Old Vic
      Playing the minute part
      Of Mustardseed the Fairy
      In a much praised production
      Of Shakespeare's celebrated
      "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

      It was originally rescued in 2006,
      From a battered notebook in which I habitually scribbled
      During spare moments offstage
      While clad in my costume
      And covered in blue body make-up
      And silvery glitter. And while doing so,
      Some of the glitter was transferred from the pages
      With which the were stained
      More than a quarter of a century previously
      Onto my hands...an eerie experience indeed.

      An Actor Arrives (at the Bristol Old Vic)

      I remember the grey slithers of rain,
      The jocular driver
      As I boarded the bus
      At Temple Meads,
      And the friendly lady who told me
      When we had arrived at the city centre.
      I remember the little pub on King Street,
      With its quiet maritime atmosphere.

      I remember tramping
      Along Park Street,
      Whiteladies Road and Blackboy Hill,
      My arms and hands aching from my bags,
      To the little cottage where I had decided to stay
      And relax between rehearsals,
      Reading, writing, listening to music.
      I remember my landlady, tall, timid and beautiful.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      "Nineteen Eighty Tell Me"
      Has been reproduced more or less
      As it was originally scrawled
      In a red Silvine memo book
      In the very summer of 1980,

      Almost certainly as I was waiting
      To go on as Mustardseed the Fairy
      During the London run of a much-praised
      Bristol Old Vic production
      Of "A Midsummer Nights Dream".

      Nineteen Eighty Tell Me

      Nineteen Eighty, tell me,
      Where are you?
      What are you trying to be?
      This week, you're 1963
      And there's even
      Talk of a rebirth of '67
      But that's next week.
      Nineteen Eighty, tell me,

      When will you be mine?
      A little bit '59,
      I'll not share you with a Beatnik
      Take a rest after the exertions,
      Punk revolutions,
      Before our old friend,
      Sweet nostalgia,
      Goes round the bend.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s


      Thanks to the large quantity
      Of notes I committed to paper
      While at Leftfield College, London,
      My beloved college can live again
      Through sundry writings
      Painstakingly forged out of them,
      Such as the poetic pieces that follow,
      Which is to say, "Some Sad Dark Secret",
      "Sabrina's Solar Plexus",
      "She Dear One that Followed Me"
      And "I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces".
      And as in the case of all
      My memoir-based writings,
      The names of people and institutions
      Have been changed
      In the solemn name of privacy.


      "Some Sad Dark Secret" was inspired
      By words once spoken to me
      By a former tutor and mentor
      Of mine at Leftfield in around 1982 or '83.
      And which then ended up
      As informal diary notes
      On a piece of scrap paper,
      Consisting of both
      The words themselves,
      And my own perhaps
      Partly fantastical
      Reflections on them.
      Some quarter of a century later,
      They were edited and versified,
      And then the process was repeated
      A half decade or so after that.


      "I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces"
      Was recently conceived
      From thoughts confided to a notebook
      Sometime between 1981 and '83
      While I was a student
      At the University of London.

      As I see it, they betoken
      An undiagnosed depressive condition
      Which ultimately led to my contracting
      A serious drinking problem,
      And ultimately some kind of crack-up,
      From which I emerged while not unscathed

      Another man entirely,
      And while I'm still the victim
      Of a depressive condition, it's not as it was,
      Which is to say, one alleviated
      By spells of great elation,
      And yet fundamentally rooted in desperation.

      Today, it's seen by its sufferer as long term
      Yet temporal, to be dispelled,
      Once he comes into a new glorious body,
      Which is his hope and his prayer,
      So all the sicknesses of the old,
      Will be a thing of the past, never to return again.

      Some Sad Dark Secret

      "Temper your enthusiasm,"
      She said,
      "The extremes of your reactions;
      You should have
      A more conventional frame
      On which to hang
      Your unconventionality."
      "Don't push people,"
      She said,
      "You make yourself vulnerable."

      She told me not to rhapsodise,
      That it would be difficult,
      Impossible, perhaps,
      For me to harness my dynamism.
      The tone of my work,
      She said,
      Is often a little dubious.
      She said
      She thought
      That there was something wrong.

      That I'm hiding
      Some sad
      Dark secret from the world.
      "Temper your enthusiasm,"
      She said,
      "The extremes of your reactions;
      You should have
      A more conventional frame
      On which to hang
      Your unconventionality."

      Sabrina's Solar Plexus

      "You were frightening, sinister,
      You put everything into it
      I took a step back
      You get better every time
      How good can you get?"

      People are scared of fish eyes
      They confuse, stun, fascinate
      Coldly indifferent
      Fish eyes
      Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

      Sabrina was unselfish,
      Devoted, unabashed,
      A purring lioness:
      "Yes," she said,
      "I can imagine people
      Wanting to possess you."

      People are scared of fish eyes;
      They confuse, stun, fascinate;
      Coldly indifferent
      Fish eyes;
      Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

      Sabrina said: "I'm sorry;
      I'm just possessive
      I'm frightened of my feelings
      You'll miss me a little,
      Won't you?
      You should read Lenz.
      I'm sure you'd
      With the main character."

      People are scared of fish eyes;
      They confuse, stun, fascinate;
      Coldly indifferent
      Fish eyes;
      Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

      Have I written about the
      When I came home
      And I just couldn't
      For latent tears.
      But am I so repelled
      By intimacy?
      When will someone
      Get me there (the solar
      Plexus) as Sabrina said.

      People are scared of fish eyes;
      They confuse, stun, fascinate;
      Coldly indifferent
      Fish eyes;
      Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

      "You look beautiful;
      I wish you didn't,
      Flim Flam Man."
      "I like it when you really feel
      But then it's so rare."

      People are scared of fish eyes;
      They confuse, stun, fascinate;
      Coldly indifferent
      Fish eyes;
      Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

      She Dear One Who Followed Me

      It was she, bless her,
      who followed me...
      she'd been crying...
      she's too good for me,
      that's for sure...
      "Your friends
      are too good to you...
      it makes me sick
      to see them...
      you don't really give...
      you indulge in conversation,
      but your mind
      is always elsewhere,
      ticking over.
      You could hurt me,
      you know...
      You are a Don Juan,
      so much.
      Like him, you have
      no desires...
      I think you have
      deep fears...
      There's something so...so...
      in your look.
      It's not that
      you're empty...
      but that there is
      an omnipresent sadness
      about you, a fatality..."

      I Hate Those Long Long Spaces

      I hate those long, long spaces
      Between meals and drinks
      Specifically the afternoon
      And after midnight.

      I hate mornings too
      Until I can smell the bacon
      And coffee. I cheer up
      Towards the end of the afternoon,

      But my euphoria stops short
      Of my final cup of tea.
      I sink into another state of gloom
      Until my second favourite time of the day.

      My favourite is that of my
      First drink and cigarette.
      I hate those long, long spaces,
      Specifically the afternoon and after midnight

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      "Verses for Tragic Lovers
      Adolphe and Ellénore"
      Is based on an essay I wrote
      Around 1983
      For a former mentor at university,
      Who sadly died in 2008,
      And who features
      As Dr Elizabeth Lang
      In various autobiographical
      Writings of mine.

      It concerns the protagonist
      Of French writer Benjamin Constant's
      1816 novel "Adolphe",
      (Which its author emphatically insisted
      Was not autobiographical;
      Nor a roman à clef),
      Who is a prototypal victim
      Of what has been termed
      Le Mal du Siècle,
      Or the sickness of the century...

      Which, born in the wake of the Revolution,
      And arising from a variety of causes,
      Political, social, and spiritual,
      Depending on the sufferer in question,
      Produced such qualities as
      Melancholy and acedia,
      And a perpetual sense of exile,
      Of alienation,
      That found special favour within
      The great Romantic movement in the arts.

      Although as a phenomenon,
      World Pain was hardly a novel one,
      For after all, does the Word of God not say
      That there is nothing new
      Under the sun?
      But it was possibly unprecedented
      In terms of pervasiveness and intensity
      At the height of Romanticism
      And I'd have no hesitation
      In labelling it tragic as a result.

      In terms of my own pre-Christian self,
      It was almost overwhelmingly powerful,
      And so believer that I am, I feel compelled
      To expose it as potentially ruinous,
      For after all, is it not still with us
      In one way or another,
      Having been passed on by the Romantics
      To kindred movements coming in their wake,
      From the Spirit of Decadence
      To the Rock Revolution?

      And could it not also be said
      That the peculiar notion
      Fostered by Romanticism
      Of the artist as a spirit
      Set apart for some special purpose,
      Of which pain is so often an essential part
      Is also still among us?
      Of course it could,
      And I'd have no hesitation
      In labelling it tragic as a result.

      This Mal du Siècle
      Is surely especially melancholy
      In the case of tragic lovers,
      Adolphe and Ellénore,
      For it results in Adolphe effectively
      Drifting into a romance
      With another man's mistress,
      A young mother, Ellénore,
      Who sacrifices everything for him
      Only to discover he no longer loves her.

      For "Adolphe" is in some respects
      A work within the tradition
      Of the libertine novel
      Of the Age of Enlightenment,
      And yet at the same time,
      By no means an endorsement of libertinage.
      Is rather perhaps, in many respects,
      A powerful indictment of this tendency,
      And thence as much a reproach
      To the tradition; as a late addition to it.

      And the forlorn figure of Adolphe
      Was ultimately to prove influential,
      Notably in Mother Russia,
      Where he allegedly served in part
      As model to Pushkin's fatal dandy,
      The Byronic Eugene Onegin,
      And if Tolstoy's Count Vronsky
      Was also partially based on Adolphe,
      Then there is of course a marked kinship
      Between Ellénore and Anna Karenina.

      In the end, though, one can only weep,
      At the tragedy these eminently romantic
      And sympathetic figures
      Made of their lives. And I speak as one
      Who was once in thrall to the tragic worldview,
      But who came to view life
      As something infinitely valuable,
      To be lived fully under the guidance of God,
      And not sacrificed like some beautiful bauble
      For the bitter-sweet pleasures of the world.

      Verses for Tragic Lovers Adolphe and Ellénore

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      We know little of the physical appearance
      Of Adolphe, but in all probability
      He possesses the youthfully seductive charm
      Of Romantic heroes,
      Werther, René and Julien Sorel.

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      Adolphe is preoccupied with himself
      In the classic manner
      Of the contemplative, melancholy,
      Faintly yearning, hypersensitive,
      Isolated, perceptive Romantic hero.

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      Perhaps he is somebody who believes
      That self-interest is the foundation
      Of all morality, but then, he announces:
      "While I was only interested in myself,
      I was but feebly interested for all that."

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      There is much genuine goodness
      In Adolphe,
      But much of it is subconscious,
      Surfacing only
      At the sight of obvious grief.

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      The cause of this inability to feel
      Spontaneously, is very probably the result
      Of the complex interaction
      Between a hypersensitive nature
      And a brilliant if indecisive mind.

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      By reflecting on his surroundings
      To an exaggerated degree,
      Adolphe feels a sort of numbness,
      A premature world-weariness
      Lucid thoughts and intense emotions confused.

      Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
      But after a great deal of persuasion,
      Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
      And soon falls in love.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      Thanks to the large quantity
      Of notes I committed
      To paper while at Leftfield,
      My beloved college can live again
      Through writings
      Painstakingly forged out of them,
      Such as the poetic piece below,
      Based on several conversations
      I had with my good friend Jez,
      A tough but tender Scouser
      With slicked back rockabilly hair,
      Who'd played guitar in a band
      At Liverpool's legendary Eric's
      Back in the early eighties,
      When Liverpool post-Punk
      Was enjoying a golden age.
      These took place at Scorpio's,
      A Greek restaurant situated in
      North West London
      Following a performance at college
      Of Lorca's "Blood Wedding"
      In which I'd played the bridegroom.

      One of the Greats Who Never Was

      "I think you should be
      One of the greats,
      But you've given up
      And that's sad.

      You drink too much,
      You think, ____ it
      And you go out and get _____,
      When I'm 27 I'd be happy
      To be like you.

      In your writing,
      Make sure you've got
      Something really
      Then say...'Here, you _______!'

      You've got the spark of genius
      At sixteen, you knew
      You were a genius,
      At nineteen, you thought
      What's a genius anyway?"

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      In the autumn of 1983,
      I took residence
      In a room on the grounds
      Of a Technical Lycée
      In Brétigny-sur-Orge,
      A commune in the southern
      Suburbs of Paris
      Some sixteen miles
      South of the city centre.
      And for those first few months,
      I was happy, blissfully happy
      to be a flâneur in the city
      which had inspired
      so many great poets
      to write classics
      of the art of urban idling,
      And the following versified
      Refugee from
      "At the Tail End
      Of the Goldhawk Road"
      Briefly touches on this phase.

      Paris What a
      City (as Juliette Once Wrote Me)

      ...my paris begins with those early days as as a conscious flâneur i recall the couple seated opposite me on the métro when i was still innocent of its labyrinthine complexity slim pretty white girl clad head to toe in denim smiling wistfully while her muscular black beau stared through me with fathomless orbs and one of them spoke almost in a whisper qu'est-ce-que t'en pense and it dawned on me yes the slender young parisienne with the distant desirous eyes was no less male than me dismal movies in the forum des halles and beyond being screamed at in pigalle and then howled at again by some kind of madman or derelict who told me to go to the bois de boulogne to meet what he saw as my destiny menaced by a sinister skinhead for trying on tessa's wide-brimmed hat getting soused in les halles with sara who'd just seen dillon as rusty james and was walking in a daze sara again with jade at the caveau de la huchette jazz cellar the café de flore with milan who asked for a menu for me and then disappeared back to brétigny cash squandered on a gold tootbrush two tone shoes from close by to the place d'italie portrait sketched at the place de tertre paperback books by symbolist poets such as villiers de l'isle adam but second hand volumes by trakl and delève
      and a leather jacket from the marché aux puces porte de clignancourt losing rory's address scrawled on a page of musset's confession walking the length and breadth of the rue st denis what a city (as juliette once wrote me)...

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      "A Cambridge Lamentation"
      Centres on my brief stay at Coverton,
      A teaching training college
      Contained within the University of Cambridge,
      With its campus at Hills Road
      Just outside the city centre.
      A fusion of previously published pieces,
      It was primarily adapted
      From an unfinished and unsent letter
      Penned just before Christmas 1986,
      And conveys some of the fatal restlessness
      Which ultimately resulted
      In my quitting Coverton early in 1987.
      In its initial form, it had been forged
      By extracting selected sentences
      From the original script,
      And then melding them together
      In a newly edited and versified state,
      Before publishing them at the Blogster weblog
      On the 10th of June 2006.

      A Cambridge Lamentation

      This place is always a little lonely
      At the weekends...no noise and life,
      I like solitude,
      But not in places
      Where's there's recently been
      A lot of people.

      Reclusiveness protects you
      From nostalgia,
      And you can be as nostalgic
      In relation to what happened
      Half an hour ago
      As half a century ago, in fact more so.

      I went to the Xmas party.
      I danced,
      And generally lived it up.
      I went to bed sad though.
      Discos exacerbate
      my sense of solitude.

      My capacity for social warmth,
      Excessive social dependence
      And romantic zeal
      Can be practically deranging;
      It's no wonder I feel the need
      To escape...

      Escape from my own
      Drastic social emotivity
      And devastating capacity
      For loneliness.
      I feel trapped here,
      There's no
      Outlet for my talents.

      In such a state as this
      I could fall in love with anyone.
      The night before last
      I went to the ball
      Couples filing out
      I wanted to be half of every one

      But I didn't want to lose her.
      I'll get over how I feel now,
      And very soon.
      Gradually I'll freeze again,
      Even assuming an extra layer of snow.
      I have to get out of here.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      Both "The Destructive Disease of the Soul"
      And "The Compensatory Man Par Excellence"
      Possess as their starting points
      A novel written at an estimate around 1987,
      With one Francis Phoenix as chief protagonist.

      Its fate remains a mystery,
      But it may well be it was completed,
      Only to be purged soon after
      I became a born again Christian in 1993,
      With only a handful of scraps remaining.

      The versified pieces below
      Were forged out of these scraps
      In September 2011, although initially,
      They'd taken shape as prose pieces,
      Only to be edited and versified at a later date.

      The Destructive Disease of the Soul

      No amount of thought
      Could negate
      Suffering in the mind
      Of Francis Phoenix.

      That much he had always believed,
      That humanity is a sad, lost
      And suffering race.
      Sometimes he felt it so strongly
      That the worship of a Saviour seemed
      To be the only sane act on earth,
      And then it passed.

      It was not increasing callousness,
      But an increase in the number of moments
      He felt quite intoxicated with compassion
      That had soured Frank's outlook.

      During those moments, he wept
      For all those he'd ever been cruel to.
      He could be so hard on people,
      So terribly hard.
      To whom could he ask forgiveness?

      It was his sensitivity
      That bred those moments of Christlike love,
      When he cared so little for himself,
      For his body, even for his soul
      When it was the soul of his father,
      The soul of his mother,
      The souls of his friends and relatives
      And everyone he'd ever known
      That he cared about.

      That was truth, that was reality,
      That was the purpose of all human life,
      That love, that benevolence,
      That absolute forgiveness.
      Otherworldly love is painful,
      But it is the only true freedom known to Man.
      Too much thought eventually produces the conviction
      That nothing is worth doing.
      Thought is a destructive disease of the soul.

      The Compensatory Man Par Excellence

      I seldom indulge in letter writing
      Because I consider it
      To be a cold and illusory
      Means of communication.
      I will only send someone a letter
      If I'm certain it's going to serve
      A definite functional purpose,
      Such as that which I'm
      Scrupulously concocting at present
      Indisputably does.
      It's not that I incline
      Towards excessive premeditation;
      Its rather that I have to subject
      My thoughts and emotions
      To quasi-military discipline,
      As pandemonium is the sole alternative.
      I'm the compensatory man par excellence.

      Deliberation, in my case,
      Is a means to an end,
      But scarcely by any means,
      An end in itself.
      This letter possesses not one,
      But two, designs.
      On one hand, its aim is edification.
      Besides that, I plan to include it
      In the literary project upon which
      I'm presently engaged,
      With your permission of course.
      Contrary to what you have suspected
      In the past,
      I never intend to trivialise intimacy
      By distilling it into art.
      On the contrary, I seek
      To apotheosise the same.

      You see...I lack the necessary
      Emotional vitality to do justice
      To people and events
      That are precious to me;
      I am forced, therefore,
      To at a later date call
      On emotive reserves
      Contained within my unconscious
      In order to transform
      The aforesaid into literary monuments.
      You once said that my feelings
      Had been interred under six feet
      Of lifeless abstractions;
      As true as this might be,
      The abstractions in question
      Come from without
      Rather than within me:

      My youthful spontaneity
      Many mistrustfully identified
      With self-satisfied inconsiderateness
      (A standard case of fallacious reasoning),
      And I was consequently
      The frequent victim
      Of somewhat draconic cerebrations.
      I tremble now
      In the face of hyperconsciousness.
      I've manufactured a mentality,
      Riddled with deliberation,
      Cankerous with irony;
      Still, in its fragility,
      Not to say, artificiality,
      It can, with supreme facility,
      Be wrenched aside to expose
      The touch-paper tenderness within.

      With characteristic extremism,
      I've taken ratiocination
      To its very limits,
      But I've acquainted myself with,
      Nay, embraced my antagonist
      Only in order to more effectively throttle him.
      Being a survivor of the protracted passage
      Through the morass of nihilism,
      Found deep within
      "The hell of my inner being,"
      I am more than qualified to say this:
      There is no way out
      Of the prison of ceaseless sophistry.
      There many things I have left to say,
      But I shall only have begun to exist in earnest
      When these are far behind me,
      In fact, so far as to be all but imperceptible.

      I long for the time
      When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
      I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
      Everything I ever dreaded being, I've become
      Everything I ever desired to be, I've become.
      I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
      Fears and fantasies,
      Both wish-fulfillment
      And dread-consummation incarnate.
      I long for the time
      When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
      I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
      I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
      Fears and fantasies,
      Both wish-fulfillment
      And dread-consummation incarnate.
      I'm the compensatory man par excellence.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      "An Aphoristic Self-Portrait"
      Was expeditiously versified
      In September 2011,
      Using a series of teeming
      Informal diary entries
      Made in various
      Receptacles in the late 1980s.
      And as such may provide
      Some kind of indication
      As to my psychological
      And spiritual condition
      Some half a dozen
      Or so years prior to my
      Damascene conversion.

      An Aphoristic Self-Portrait

      As a writer, people are my vocation.
      As for humanity, men, women
      And other abstractions,
      Their interests constitute little more
      Than my hobby; I can only deal in people.
      As soon as I start dealing in sects
      And sections, I am either an insider
      Or an outsider, and I feel lost as either
      And as soon as I feel lost,
      I make no attempt to find myself,
      But simply retrace my steps
      And return to the people.
      You can call me detached if you like,
      But you see, the only way
      I can remain sane as a person
      With such an all-consuming instinct
      For attachment, is to be detached
      The world of subjectivity
      Holds no sway over me,
      Because it is paradoxically impersonal,
      Being affiliated to partisanship,
      Sentimental causes and other such abstractions.
      I couldn't possibly belong
      To a school of orthodox thought
      That accepted me as a member.
      I don't believe in myself
      Other than as a crystal clear container
      For the freshest cream of human individualism.
      When I was younger,
      I ached to be famous for the sake of it,
      But now it occurs to me
      That anyone can be famous
      Provided they are sufficiently audacious
      And thick-skinned, and I desire fame
      Not so much for the vain satisfaction
      Of being seen and known and heard,
      But in order to guide others
      Towards a happier way of being,
      The only precept for celebrity,
      Indeed for being in general, as far as I can see.
      Adversity seems to be my fate,
      As well as fortune.
      The meek ones gravitate to me.
      I'm the prince of the hurt ones,
      The damaged ones.
      I resent all success and authority.
      I'm so affectionate one moment,
      So icy and evasive the next.
      I'm in love with many people at present.
      I over accentuate my individuality,
      Because sometimes I look at myself
      In the mirror and I say:
      "Who's that pathetic wreck?"
      The more complex you are,
      The less you like yourself,
      Because you frighten yourself.
      The more I find myself liking someone,
      The more I doubt us both.
      Liking someone negates them for me.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

      "Strange Coldness Perplexing" was forged
      Using notes scrawled
      Onto seven sides of an ancient
      Now coverless notebook,
      Possibly late at night
      Following an evenings carousal
      And in a state of serene intoxication.

      The original notes were based
      On experiences I underwent
      While serving as a teacher
      In a highly successful
      Central London school of English,
      Which I did between the spring,
      Or summer, of '88 and the summer of 1990.

      It gives some indication
      Of my emotional condition at the time,
      Including a tendency, as I see it,
      To wildly veer between
      The conscious effusive affectionateness
      I aspired to, and sudden irrational
      Involuntary lapses of affect.

      It also bespeaks the intense devotion
      I manifested towards my favourite students
      And which was reciprocated by them with interest.
      All punctuation was removed around 2007,
      And extracts tacked together,
      Not randomly as in the so-called cut up technique
      But selectively and all but sequentially.

      Strange Coldness Perplexing

      the catholic nurse
      all sensitive
      caring noticing
      what can she think
      of my hot/cold torment

      always near blowing it
      living in the fast lane
      so friendly kind
      the girls
      dewy eyed
      wanda abandoned me
      bolton is in my hands

      and yet my coldness
      the more emotional
      they stay
      trying to find a reason
      for my ice-like suspicion
      fish eyes
      coldly indifferent eyes
      suspect everything that moves

      socialising just to be loud
      compensate for cold
      lack of essential trust
      i love them
      despite myself
      my desire to love
      is unconscious and gigantesque

      i never know
      when i'm going to miss someone
      strange coldness perplexing
      i've got to work to get devotion
      but once i get it
      i really get people on my side
      there are carl people
      who can survive
      my shark-like coldness
      and there are those
      who want something
      more personal
      i can be very devoted to those
      who can stay the course

      my soul is aching
      for an impartial love of people
      i'm at war with myself

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

      In the early part of autumn 1990,
      I began a course known as the PGCE
      Or Post Graduate Certificate in Education
      At a school of higher education
      In the pleasant outer suburb of Twickenham,
      Becoming resident in nearby Isleworth.
      I began quite promisingly as I saw it
      Even though my heart
      Was not really in the course
      But I genuinely saw the benefits
      Of successfully completing it,
      And as might be expected,
      Excelled in drama and physical education.
      I rarely drank during the day,
      But at night I was sometimes so drunk
      I was incoherent.
      The following versified piece
      Serves a testimony to this sad truth.
      Its original was a letter
      Typed to a close friend in about 1990,
      Some three years or so
      Prior to my coming to saving faith
      In the Lord Jesus Christ.
      And concerning a series of accidents
      I'd recently suffered.
      However, it was never finished, nor sent.
      When it was recovered,
      It was as a piece of scrap paper,
      A remnant from a long lost past.
      It was subsequently edited and reassembled,
      Before being subject
      To some kind of versification in 2006.
      And then some half decade later,
      Further work was performed on it,
      But it was still pretty threadbare for all that.

      Incident in St. Christopher's Place

      Dear, I haven't been in touch
      for a long time.
      The last time I saw you
      Was in St. Christopher's Place.
      It was a lovely evening...
      when I knocked that chair over.
      I am sorry.
      Since then,
      I've had not a few accidents
      Of that kind.

      Just three days ago,
      I slipped out in a garden
      At a friend's house...
      And keeled over, not once,
      Not twice, but three times,
      Like a log...clonking my nut
      So violently that people heard me
      In the sitting room.
      What's more,
      I can't remember a single sentence
      Spoken all evening. The problem is...

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

      The following oddity, recently versified,
      And even more recently
      Afforded a fresh new title,
      Is one of only a handful of works of mine
      exhibiting the absurd
      and affected writing style
      I briefly adopted in the very early 1990s,
      And which was typified
      By an obsessive use of
      such archaisms as "tristful" and "pheere",
      although how much of it's
      been based on something
      I concocted more than two decades ago,
      and how much of
      more recent origin
      I'm afraid I'm unable to say for certain.

      Who Had He Not Sought Such Fatal Lethe

      The playwright was most effective
      As the dramatic illuminator
      Of his own tristful destiny
      As well as those of his kinfolk.
      And of the two plays that treat
      Of the tragic Tyrones
      One features James,
      His wistful pheere Mary,
      And his two troubled offspring

      A quartette of characters
      Based respectively
      Upon O'Neill's father James,
      His mother Ella,
      O'Neill himself,
      And his elder brother, Jamie
      Who had he not sought
      Such fatal Lethe
      Might have evolved into
      A great actor like his father,
      Or a writer like his brother,
      Such was the luminous
      Brilliance of his early promise.

      How richly blessed he'd been
      At birth with charm and intellect.
      While part of the
      Minim Department
      Of Notre Dame University,
      He was a favoured prince
      Destined for a future
      As a Catholic gentleman
      Of exquisite breeding
      And learning; and then
      A prize-winning scholar
      At Fordham, from which
      He came to be expelled
      For a foolish indiscretion.

      While the other is an account
      Of poor Jim Tyrone's
      Last attempt at securing
      Some kind of earthly felicity,
      Through his love for a
      Hoyden with a heart as vast
      As his implausible life,
      "A Moon for the Misbegotten".

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

      "The Loonie's Last Reckoning",
      Based largely on events that took place
      On the 16th of January 1993,
      Was initially an adaptation
      Of an autobiographical fragment
      Possibly penned around 1996,
      Which was then edited, reassembled
      And versified for publication
      As "Remnants from Writings Destroyed 1"
      At the Blogster website
      On the 10th of March 2006.
      While in time, it was incorporated
      Into an early version of the memoir,
      "Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child"
      Known as "Spawn of the Swinging Sixties".
      Only to be unearthed in late 2011,
      And wedded to a versified translation
      Of notes made probably around 1992,
      Shortly before the events
      In question took place,
      And then awarded a striking new title.

      The Loonie's Last Reckoning

      It was late in the afternoon
      Of The 16th of January 1993
      That my whole
      Intoxicated universe
      Finally exploded

      Drink me one day = 10 vodkas
      7 1/2 pints 14 wines
      1 bottle of wine + 6 gins + 4 pints
      Or 2 bottles of wine + halfs then 4 pints
      Or bottle of wine + 5 pints +
      Cans and shorts.
      Saw myself as a loonie
      Of the Lunatic Underground

      It was late in the afternoon
      Of The 16th of January 1993
      That my whole
      Intoxicated universe
      Finally exploded

      Five + Two = Seven Units By 11.30
      12.30 = Six Units 1.30 = 5+2 = Five
      6.30 = Four Units 7.30 = 3+2 = Five
      8.30 = 4+1 = Five
      12.30 = Free
      Saw myself as a loonie
      Of the Lunatic Underground

      It was late in the afternoon
      Of The 16th of January 1993
      That my whole
      Intoxicated universe
      Finally exploded

      Broken at last
      With etiolated face
      Tremulous hands
      After so many years
      Of semi-Icaran hubris

      It was late in the afternoon
      Of The 16th of January 1993
      That my whole
      Intoxicated universe
      Finally exploded.

      An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

      "Oblivion in Recession"
      First existed
      As a series of rough notes
      Scrawled on a piece
      Of scrap paper
      In the dying days of January 1993.

      Oblivion in Recession

      The legs started going,
      In my head.
      Thought I'd go
      Kept awake with water,
      Arrogantly telling myself
      I'd stay straight.
      Drank gin and wine,
      Went out,
      Tried to buy more,
      Filthy white shorts,
      Lost, rolling on lawn,
      Somehow got home.
      Monday, waiting for offie,
      Looked like death,
      Fear in eyes
      Of passers-by,
      Waiting for drink,
      Drink relieved me.
      Drank all day,
      Collapsed wept
      "Don't Die on Me".
      Next day,
      Double brandy
      Just about settled me,
      Drank some more,
      Thought constantly
      I'd collapse
      Then what?
      Fit? Coronary?
      Insanity? Worse?
      Took a Heminevrin,
      Paced the house
      All night,
      Pain in chest,
      Weak legs,
      Lack of feeling
      In extremities,
      Visions of darkness.
      Drank water
      To keep the
      Life functions going,
      Played devotional music,
      Dedicated my life
      To God,
      Prayed constantly,
      Renounced evil.
      Next day,
      Two Valiums
      Helped me sleep.
      By eve,
      I started to feel better.
      All is clearer,
      Taste, sounds,
      I feel human again.
      I made my choice,
      And oblivion has receded,
      And shall disappear.
      Very minor edit: 7/3/13

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    About Me

    Name: Carl Halling
    ChristiansUnite ID: carlhalling
    Member Since: 2008-07-01
    Location: London, United Kingdom
    Denomination: Born Again Christian
    About Me: Born Again Bible Believing Christian Writer, Actor, Singer, Songwriter. Born London. Born Again 1993.

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