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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.

    Wed, Mar 9th - 9:48AM

    The Dad who Defended Bolan



      In the summer of 1972, public school drop-out Anthony Saint was launched by his father 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 school 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 at the Judokan 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.
       There were swimming lessons at the local pool, where he fell hard for a beautiful elfin girl with a close crop hairstyle which made her look a little like a skinhead girl. She beckoned to him once to come and be with her, but he just stood there as if frozen to the spot. His heart wasn't in the swimming though, and this soon became clear to one of the teachers, who once told him with devastating frankness:
       “I don’t know why you bother even turning up.”
       Music did interest him though, and although he was an idle slacker, he was yet successfully initiated into the basics of the Rock guitar solo by a shy and sweet-natured guitar teacher of about 45 by the name of Gerry Firth. Gerry gave lessons from a tiny little abode down an alley in Walton-on-Thames, a London suburb which conjoined Anthony’s own small home town, and he lived there in apparent content with a much younger wife and golden-haired infant daughter.
        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. He wore his grey 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. In other words, he was every inch the typical British seventies dad…that is, on the surface of things. The truth was infinitely different.
       On one occasion, Anthony 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?”
        Anthony was baffled by his argument, because despite his own preference for Rock, he had no great belief in its artistic merits.
       Another thing that bewildered him about Gerry Firth was his admiration for British teen idol Marc Bolan of seminal Glam Rock band T. Rex, a man he’d always contemned as much for his girlish appearance as his simplistic three-chord Pop music. As to Glam Rock, while it was a genre that veered wildly between Pop chart stompers by Bolan et al, and the more sophisticated decadence of major  musical talents such as David Bowie and Todd Rundgren, it was yet to make any kind of impression on the neanderthal Anthony. He still favoured the bearded and moustachio’d macho men of the Heavy Rock movement.
       “Don’t you find him effeminate?” Anthony once asked him disgustedly 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 Anthony, 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, Anthony had come around to Gerry’s view of Marc Bolan and become a massive fan himself, although not just of the Bopping Elf, but of all the leading Glam icons of ’73, 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. Not that Anthony Saint is any longer a fan.
       He became a born again Christian in 1993, and on the virtual eve of doing so, was enjoying a near-ecstatic experience thanks to Bolan and another of his musical heroes, fellow Rock poet Jim Morrison, for whose work the English bard had the greatest respect.
       He was playing their music in swift rotation on the afternoon following a massive nocturnal binge. But it was that very day that his health caved in on him after years of alcohol abuse…and he went through a lengthy season in Hell during which time he could have sworn he had an intimation of the fate that awaited him were he to lose consciousness and collapse.
       The experience could be said to have cured him of his addiction to both Morrison and Bolan, who were so similar, and in so many ways, and not just in terms of their looks. Both were primarily poets, with androgynous Shelleyan faces topped by a head of cherubic curls. Both had begun as darlings of the late ‘60s underground, only to find themselves in the position of being Pop star pin-ups thanks to a single hit record. Both struggled for years with substance abuse issues, only to die young while in the midst of attempting to bring some order back into their chaotic Rock and Roll lives.
        It was this very romantic fatality that Saint had once so adored about them, but after becoming a Christian, he decided to distance himself from those darker and more intense elements within Rock Music, and so to divest himself of much of his musical collection, including albums by both T. Rex and Jim Morrison’s band, the Doors. Occasionally though, he still allowed himself a listen to his erstwhile favourites, even if they entirely failed to produce the sense of transcendent defiance of every known law they once did within him. It was as if he was listening to them as another person altogether, which in effect he was.
       But he continued to be charmed by Morrison’s beautiful voice, so crooner-like that an infuriated Frank Sinatra once accused the Florida boy of emulating him; and revisiting Bolan in 2010 thanks to the miracle of the Spotify web site, he was struck by how extraordinarily witty his lyrics were. As to his music, while simple even by Rock standards, he found it strangely infectious, perhaps even alarmingly so. After all, he must have had something to have so delighted Gerry Firth all those years ago, 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. But Saint forgave him, because arguably more than anyone, Gerry Firth was responsible for providing him with the building blocks of the music he once defended with such impassioned fervour.
      Very minor edit: 7/3/13.


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    Wed, Mar 9th - 9:29AM

    The Revenge of the Feral Dogs



    Introduction

    Another name for a feral dog is a pariah dog, although the term tends to be applied exclusively with respect to a handful of countries, notably India, when in fact feral dogs are to be found all throughout the world. They are widely believed to be the descendants of discarded domestic dogs, although unlike the latter, they are hostile to humans, which is understandable, given their history of abandonment. If one is to believe the news, attacks on humans by such animals are more common today than ever, although the truth is they have always existed, as the following tale attests.
     It was based on actual incidents that took place, and I know this to be a fact because the character of Sean is based on myself, while all the other characters
    also existed, although their names have been changed to protect their privacy. That said, what follows is a somewhat sanitised version of the events as I remember them, and I do so thanks largely to a short story I based on them in about 1977 and which forms the foundation of what follows.

    The Revenge of the Feral Dogs

    It was a city-port on the Atlantic Coast of France, in the summer of 1975, a time very similar to our own in a vast variety of ways, and yet a million galaxies away.
     Then, as today, the youth of the West ran wild to an electronic Rock soundtrack…and even though the Rock and Roll era is now over half a century old where it was yet in its adolescence  in ’75, the hedonistic lifestyle it fostered has differed little since then.
     In other ways though, it was altogether a different age. There were no cell phones back then, nor personal computers, nor iPods, and if you wanted to hear the latest album by your favourite act or artist, you had to save up for it and march to your latest record store to procure it on vinyl or cassette.
     Subsequently, most people only ever heard a fraction of the music that was available, unlike today, when you can hear any song, any album, ever recorded in whatever era you choose through the simple click of a mouse.
     It was about 8.30pm, and a quartet of young British naval ratings, hailing from HMS Royal, a minesweeper attached to the shore-based London Division of the Royal Naval Reserve, were enjoying their “run” ashore, which is to say a short period of leave coming in the midst of an exercise at sea. At one point, they decided to split into a pair of duos with one of these returning to the Royal, and the other, setting out into the night in search of whatever delights their temporal city had to offer them.
     They were an unlikely pair. 27 year old Kevin was a genial-looking salt of the earth Londoner, while Sean, was an angelically handsome youth of just 19 from a privileged upbringing in Surrey, although not from Surrey per se so much as a little blue collar village that had been swallowed up by London’s urban sprawl, and that was only nominally part of Britain’s wealthiest county.
     Yet, they were also unusually akin by dint of their gentle easy-going ways, and all-round nice guy naivety. Things happened to them rather than the other way around…and that was especially true of Sean. With his blond hair and baby blue eyes, he was the antithesis of the domineering macho male, and yet a magnet for attention nonetheless…although not all of it positive.
     “Oh, what a pretty sailor,” a flame-haired woman of a certain age proclaimed as she passed him by in the busy, bustling streets.
     “And you, madame,” he replied, with typical obsequious gallantry.
     “How comes you speak French so well, then Sean?”, said Kevin, “ain’t you German?”
     But before Sean had a chance to properly answer his friend, three youths, dressed in battered blue jeans, and sporting long greasy hair, approached the two sailors. One was white, a second black, and a third North African. Their eyes were suspicious, but Sean’s potent pretty boy charm caused them to look kindly upon the sailors
     “Hey there, sailor boys,” said the white youth, who was extraordinarily handsome, with long dark eyelashes, and a dazzling smile that revealed broken and discoloured teeth. The single gold earring he wore in his left ear lent him the air of a beautiful romany boy.
     “All right?” Sean replied.
     “Are you French?”
     “No, I’m English,” said Sean.
     "Hey, how’s it going with the girls, huh, is everything OK with the ladies?”
     “Sure,” said Sean nonchalantly.
     “They’re all insane, insane, insane”, said the angel-faced romany, dismissing the entire female race with a drunken wave of his hand, before being borne away by his cohorts, much to Kevin’s evident relief, as he’d already started to distance himself from the trio, despite their friendly intentions.
     In time, the two sailors had attained the town’s central square, where a bedraggled sextet of Jazz musicians were blowing Dixie as if their lives depended on it for the benefit of tourists dining on sea food. Many of them looked up from their fishy repasts as Sean passed by. In time, they found themselves in a tavern which had been taken over by a large gang of rowdy revellers, presided over by a strolling guitar player, and a young expatriate Welshman with the burly body of a prop forward.
     Needless to say, the sailors were singularly conspicuous by dint of their uniforms, and at one stage, Sean’s cap was removed from his head and passed around the tavern to be gawped at by the assembled clientele like some imperialist curio. It may have been this mortifying incident that provoked the minstrel’s sympathy for Sean, and his subsequent efforts at befriending him.
     He was a strikingly handsome man, probably of Spanish extraction, as his name turned out to be Javier, of about 28 years old, at least in appearance. In fact he was 40.
     “Give me your address,” he said to Sean, taking his hand in his, “I believe in true comradeship, real friendship…we will be friends.”
     “OK,” Sean agreed, whereupon Javier disappeared.
     Just then, Sean noticed that he was being intently observed by a beautiful girl of the gamine kind with short lemon yellow hair and distant, pale-blue eyes wearing a strange, melancholy smile, who presently seated herself behind him. She turned out to be Javier’s girl friend, Catherine.
     “Bonjour,” she said, “I’m Catherine.”
     “Hello, “ said Sean, in his usual shyly charming way, “isn’t Javier a great guy?”
     “Oh yes,” Catherine replied, “I’ve been with many men, but this is the first time I’ve been with a real man.”
     “Is he really forty?” Sean asked her.
     “Yes, forty years old, but he’ll always be young, he’s not aged along with the rest of his generation. We travel together, we’re very much in love.”
     Soon Javier returned to engage in further praise of his new found friend:
     “Sean is our friend, “ he enthused, “he is our true friend.”
     “Oh yes,” Catherine agreed, “he’s really sweet isn’t he, and cute, and nice, you’re our friend, Sean”.
     “Thank you,” Sean replied, overwhelmed by their effusiveness.
     “You’re going to give us your address before you go, OK?” said Javier.
     “Sure,” Sean replied, before getting up to check on Kevin, who was engaged in an intense conversation with the Welshman, Gryff. Realising that interrupting them was not in his best interests, he sat back down and starting sipping from someone else’s wine glass.
     Before long, the entire tavern had erupted, and people started dancing around the tables, with some electing to actually dance on the tables. Sean thought it best to leave at this point, and went to say his goodbyes to Catherine, who took hold of one of his hands, while smiling warmly and gazing directly into his eyes.
     “Oh,” said Sean distractedly, “I must give my address to Javier.”
     He walked over to Javier, but no sooner had he done so, than he was grabbed by the arm, and virtually thrown into the back of a rickety grey fiat being driven by Gryff, which then leaped and screeched through the city’s dingy back streets for a few brief terrifying moments before alighting within a short distance of a discotheque. As soon as Sean was out of the car, he noticed a bewildered looking Kevin among the disco party, of which Gryff had taken charge:
     “How are we going to get the sailors in?” he asked out aloud, “they’re not allowed here.”
     “Smuggle them in,” someone suggested, “take their hats and jackets off, and sneak them in.”
     Gryff set about divesting the tars of much of their attire, with the result that they soon found themselves among the city’s beautiful people, including young heavily made up belles, several executing the most complex and obscure of dance manoeuvres in small groups, and tall, thin young men who punctuated their terpsichorean histrionics with high-pitched squeals.
     After a time, it occurred to Sean that unless they set off soon, they’d never get back to their ship, and this time, Kevin was in accord, and so they set about retrieving their clothing. Then, Catherine walked over to them to see them off.
     “You should take care,” she told Sean, “I mean…your uniforms, your hats, your symbols don’t mean a thing here. I mean none of it means anything here.”
     Sean smiled weakly without answering, and she went on.
     “But you’re so cute, you know”, she said, stroking Sean’s cheek.
     “Good bye”, said Sean.
     “Good bye”, Catherine replied, visibly upset.
     Soon, the young sailors were groping their way in the dark towards the city’s main port, with only the crunching of their navy issue boots to break the menacing silence.
     “It’s late isn’t it, Kev,” said Sean, as the lights of the disco faded into the distance.
     “I don’t care,” Kevin replied, “I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”
     “What if we can’t find the ship?”
     Within an hour, they reached their destination, although neither knew exactly where their ship was located, and each thin strip of dusty road resembled the last.
     Just when they’d turned down yet another one, a feral dog emerged from out of a decaying chalky dwelling, baring its salmon-pink gums and emitting falsetto squeals which attracted a second vicious, fearless canine, this one resembling an Alsatian cross-breed. Sean panicked and picked up a stone, before threatening his aggressors, then running first from them, then towards them, screaming at them, shrinking from them, but nothing he did served to deter them.
     Kevin preferred the role of pack leader and with index finger pointing directly at the dogs, started to command them in tones of masterly severity, but they refused to accept him as alpha male, and continued to circle him as if they’d earmarked him for an early morning feast. And the dogs squealed, and slavered, and snarled, and the more they sensed the sailors’ fear, the more hysterical they became.
     The sailors’ fate seemed sealed. They’d surely pay a high price for separating from their companions in order to seek out stimulation in the depths of a city in which their status as strangers rendered them deeply vulnerable. Kevin was easily the more streetwise, while Sean was to all intents and purposes…prey on legs; and it was only a matter of time before this truth became evident to him. Yet, nothing would have stopped him stepping out of his comfort zone that night, as millions of his kind have done since, and continue to do.
     “You should take care,” Catherine had said, almost prophetically as it turned out, “I mean…your uniforms, your hats, your symbols don’t mean a thing here. I mean none of it means anything here.”

    Epilogue:

    Some time towards the end of the old or the beginning of the new millennium, possibly around 1996, a middle aged-man received a phone call straight out of the blue from an old friend.
     He was still youthful looking and his acting career hadn’t yet been entirely forsaken, while much of his music career lay in the future. In other words, there was still some chance he’d amount to something in a worldly sense.
     He’d converted to Christianity some years previously in 1993, following many years during which his consumption of alcohol was at lethal levels, and he was barely to drink again thereafter, notwithstanding a long series of relapses, most as insignificant as they were incapacitating.
     His friend spoke of many things, but while most of these were to elude his memory as the years proceeded, one especially remained. This was the time they found themselves cornered on some dusty street in a city-port on the Atlantic coast of France by wild dogs; but he never mentioned how they managed to extricate themselves.
     Some fifteen years after the call took place, he reflected on his luck that night and wondered if the reason he emerged unscathed was that God had better plans for him other than to become food for a couple of feral canids. And this provided him with a goodly amount of consolation for the teeming multitude of failures and follies, mistakes and losses that had blighted his life ever since.
     However, it’s significant that the vast majority of these took place prior to his acceptance of Christ as his Personal Saviour, and that while his life had been far from perfect since ‘93, which is not surprising under the circumstances, God had restored to him the years that the swarming locust had eaten. 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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