trails of thought

Fictional Us / Decency’s Place

I mentioned the idea that I have a wonderful skillset: to keep tons of data in stasis over a long period of time, until it settles logically into a pleasing or useful arrangement:

I have special skills, this I realise now: a dear person close to me lightly described them recently as being akin to a kind of Sherlock Holmes mind: I curiously maintain in stasis so many apparently disparate pieces of data – sometimes for months – until they suddenly settle into a puzzle-resolving pattern that resolves this puzzle thus laid out.




I’m not saying I am as good as Sherlock Holmes in any way at all – Holmes was after all an invention of fiction, and I find it difficult to conceive I am a fictional character (except where the things I do are influenced and nudged by the events around me: in that sense of character, we are all being bent out of shape; we are all fictional beings to a greater or lesser extent …).

But I do do similar things.  And it’s exhausting.

And I’d like it to be less exhausting.  Which is why I need the release of physical love and affection: the joy, the friendship, the amiableness even.  Just at simple, day-to-day levels.




Can you all understand that?

And in that, like Sherlock Holmes I am not – although I do have a brother much wiser than me with a very particular name; and who may indeed do stuff I have no idea about.  Weird tangential relationships with women have flitted through my life too: again, these mysterious beings have remained mysterious to me.  And in the round, and overall, my life is full of puzzles: the only thing I’ve never done, nor ever wanted to do, is drugs – where not prescribed, you understand – which I get the feeling Holmes found necessary in the absence of an appropriate affective and intimate relationship with anything more than data.

But a final point I’d still like to deal with today, before I finish.

That word “stasis” is defined by my Google (at least) as:

a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.
“long periods of stasis”

But also in quite a dramatically opposite sense:

civil strife.

How on earth can this be so?  How on earth has a language come to describe within the same space such diametrically opposed concepts?

Does civil strife – not just societal but also marital – come from long periods of inactivity?  Is that what we are learning here?

How the absence of change changes us for the worse.

And if it is the case, what can I do?  Do I need to impose – is that fair or kind?  Or should I continue to run the risks of falling ill again in the presence of sad jealousy caused by childhood trauma?

I want to help, but when you reach out to help and here you are also rejected, where on earth can a decent solution be found?  Where is decency’s place in this whole damn mix?


short short story

stuff she did + stuff she doesn’t [+ dispersed crude oil and water]

She’d wasted a whole year, a whole year’s full of cash and doubt and crass hesitation, pretending to her SO that she was important when she wasn’t.  And the things she did were foolishly imaginary things; the stuff she imagined was foolishly incoherent madness; the men and women she met were wildly outside her scope – out of the scope of her way of looking at the world, which in itself was rarefiedly stratospheric in the thinness of air, that right up there she’d been breathing so idiotically.

The problem wasn’t even her past.  The problem was how the behaviours of the past weighed so heavily on the soul she would be; on the being and ways of doing which her humanity not only had exhibited but might one day in the future.

And sometimes she wondered if it was her inhumanity too.

And she’d wanted so much to be loved in a way that didn’t mean she would fall ill in the first place.  And she really couldn’t understand why her SO loved to touch her hand when other people were present, but not when they were alone.

Was she that fearful a person in her character and manner?

Was that the problem right there?


So that was when she finally vowed it was time to be kind even to people she knew made her feel all toxic and cruel.

For these kind of people had their own story to tell – and if they were refusing to tell their stories, maybe their stories were even heavier than hers.  She didn’t know any more; she wouldn’t – shouldn’t – say.

And she guessed she simply had to stop talking to people; simply limitedly revert to the writer she’d been for so long; simply accept that when two good people are toxic together, that maybe like dispersed crude oil and water, the mix can never be undone.

If only he’d got into the good habit of letting her undo a button or two; whisper nothings in his ear; give him the pleasure he was obviously unable to receive …

If only that were possible …

If only that were real …

short short story

“Hermit or dragon-slayer – which shall it be?”

She’d always rather fancied the idea of being a hermit, though without delving deeper was rather uncertain as to whether “hermit” – the word, she meant – applied only to men.

Perhaps women weren’t afforded by linguistics the right, obligation or freedom to be an officially solitary soul.  Women did the solitary thing all on their lonesomes: they married into solitude, they brought up their children in solitude, they grew to old age in solitude, they looked to spend their final days quite alone.

Maybe not all women.

In her case, for sure.

And now she had a choice: a difficult choice.  She could either become the hermit her husband demanded she be – or slay the dragon he’d become.

“Hermit or dragon-slayer – which shall it be?”

Maybe just invisible zero.

Maybe that was her fate.

Or maybe, even at this very late stage, there was still time to square circles she’d long looked to square.

In a sense, she already knew this was pretty damn impossible.  But even so, quite foolishly she still held out hope.  Hope had been a terrible guiding light in her life: the oncoming train, etc etc.  She wished she was a hopeless person, in the sense not of being useless but of being without hope.

It’d be so much easier, it really would.  So much easier to be without hope.

And how could she achieve her goal?  That’s what she really couldn’t see.  She had very few means; none at all really.  Everything was morally, and rightly so, in the hands of her dragon-husband.  It was all his property; she, meanwhile, was just about disabled (though not so you could exactly tell); and if not hopeless, and in the absence of any job certainties at all, then bordering on the fairly and unhappily useless already.

She guessed where it was all going to.

She could see what would happen.

Like so many women of her middle age, love would be subtracted from her daily existence; joy would be a minus on the balance sheet of emotions; and pretence (ie our marriage is just about perfect, my dear; our holidays, oh you can’t believe the emotion) would become a pretty clear fixture in the mix that was life, for just about all the rest of her life.

Hermit, then?  She imagined it would be so.

A life of contemplation.

A contemplation of lonely soul.

And there was nothing to escape the sadness of her fate.

Nothing at all.

No one left to save her.

Unable, even, to save herself.

short short story, trails of thought

Stale-mate (not as in chesssss – as in food you’d never touch!)

He’d realised a long time ago that life wasn’t like chesssss.  They often said it was, but it wasn’t.

Chesssss was a game, where the rules were clear, limited and defined.  Life, on the other hand, had far more rules – even as the permutations were severely reduced compared to the former.  That was the curious thing about life: it could be done in millions of different ways but, weirdly enough, the outcomes were just three:

  1. birth
  2. life
  3. death

Within each, of course, there were sub-stages which reminded one of a PowerPoint when outlined in similar ways:

  1. birth
    1. happy and beloved
    2. sad and deprived
  2. life
    1. happy and beloved
    2. sad and deprived
  3. death
    1. happy, beloved and well remembered
    2. sad, sordid and poorly recalled

Compare and contrast that with chesssss, though.

He refused, of course, to even contemplate the process any more.

He realised, too, that the mate who was stale in the equation wasn’t his significant other: she seemed perfectly happy as she was: sometimes despairing of his inability to gain any kind of employment, but otherwise toddling along quite nicely it would seem.


It wasn’t her.  The problem was clearly him.  He was the stalest mate a woman could ever (not) hope for.  And in his stale and ageing condition as was, he refused to grow old with the grace she was able to summon up.

His destiny was clearly to be lonely cups of breakfast coffees, and chat about the latest news, and discussions on the subject of house-hunting and food programmes, and stuff like that, and stuff he didn’t give a shit about.  And that was his problem: he was far too demanding.  He wanted to enjoy life, after all; wanted to stretch himself; wanted to wake up not knowing what’d happen or be achieved that day.

Yet inertia imposed, and failure defined, and life’s juggernaut of casual insignificance rode its merry way.

And so he ended up with neither the gumption to change matters significantly nor the bravery to end it all by ultimately resigning himself totally to a diet of comments on Jamie Oliver’s haircut.

In such a limbo did he discover his destiny.

And there was nothing he was now able to do about it.

poetry, trails of thought

Wot / Hau / Wai [from the home that did you so much harm]

The Scream.jpg
By Edvard Munch – WebMuseum at ibiblio
Image URL:, Public Domain,


So OK, you say, you’ve said all along:

they were right and I was wrong, and so many

wrongs you never righted lie unrighted

like ship, already mentioned,

under levels of grave water: muddy as hell.

And the bell rings out like a soulless creature

I never forgot by the bedside I hid from

as child in thatched cottage of anciently

fearful time, with big white mooning face

over my face: and my whole damn childhood

is a scream, you know: not a scream of lovable

moments of joy but a scream, like the scream

you see in the art of the galleries which

display the terror of the mind you and I never

shared completely, nor even tried to.

And all I strive now to know is wot happened

to you as child.  What happened to

me is irrelevant any more: I once loved

another, and although I did badly, and still I

do badly to still love her much more than

anyone else I ever will touch, I can’t

help myself, she’s a white angel of

love who made me feel good and bad

about life and sex and stuff, and you didn’t

do that, but your fear and wot and stuff

escaped my temporary detection, and all I

know now is your wot and your hau

will end up destroying what little we have

left, unless you or someone can say some sort

of wai you found it so hard to enjoy physical

affection, even before I shrugged you off for

the love of my life.


And I wonder if it was me, or you – or us both.

And I wonder this big wai we could give love so

gorgeous to the children we brought up as we

did (admittedly, in rather curious and solitary privacy);

and who love us so finely, and who’ll achieve in their

love and passion and endeavours the exceptionally

fabulous drama of personal grandeur.

And that independence I so begged from you

we’ve given to our children – stepping-stone by

stepping-stone by stepping-stone by


Frog-leapt people who croak not to die but to

sigh and rise to higher climes

than you and I

will ever reach now.


And whilst I know the wot: a life where you found

yourself incapable of loving me with the touch

of your hand in joyful communion, in pleasure

and life … and whilst I know the hau: this existence

of cold steely fearsome “correctitude” on my part

as I resisted the instinct inexpertly to demand,

and as I find myself naturally unable to beg any more

you coercive collaboration in the pleasure

I yearn for, the simple pleasure of skin against

skin was all I asked for … and so I am

led to my final straw: I can no

longer continue: the wai of your life is quite beyond

me at last.  And all I can say and all I can do is admit

we have nothing we can do or can say.

For I asked you if you think my problem is work

and by answering affirmatively, you affirm that

your love is no longer – if ever – a matter for

negotiation.  And though nothing for the moment

shall happen at all with

your wot,

your hau,

your wai,

all so bewildering … I still do find myself asking the

final questions: wot, hau and wai in your

upbringing or background did hurt you so much that

a human being like myself should be considered

by the world, in the company of your presence,

not a gentle soul of lovable instincts but, rather,

a violently mistaken paranoid schizophrenic?


For if my condition is considered to be final and cut

by the drying tick-boxes of psychiatric manual,

and my problem in life is because I don’t have a job,

and my reality and my two-facedness that

you suggest is my being has nothing at all

to do with your leaving me solo, without your

easily given touch (if at all you had wanted to)

during decades of life together, then all I can say


what could have happened if we had been lovers

in much the same way as lovers of grand


Would I really have fallen ill?

Do you really think I would have done?

And is the spell which I’ve really fallen under

the gorgeous four days of love with my lover

that time we never discuss now,

or the weirdest thirty years that have driven

me to madness; to sadness; to badness; to

baldness; to mistrusting people I easily find


Is the siren my dear K – or has it been

you all along?

And did you really not speak to the man in

the white coat – or was something

slyly indicated to break any chance I had

of escaping a diagnosis that destroyed my

whole life as you drew me back home for

such terrible reasons wai

which I only imagine might have

hurt you so badly that the real paranoid

soul is not the man you see before you but the


you now see –

as I do more clearly –

behind and about the mother and wife I never understand once more?


And ultimately I do need to find out that wai:

and ultimately you know this, I know:

and ultimately you refuse to find out that wai:

and ultimately I’m sad in my love of your being –

and fearful, as you surely are, of what

may be dis-

covered from the past you run so fiercely away from:

from the home that did you so much harm.

short story

A weekness is a long time in the politics of love

She’d just about realised she had basically two options: a) she could wait weakly – weekly even; daily perhaps! – for her white knight to appear with horsepower but perhaps no horse (it was, after all, the Western 21st century we were talking about here); or b) she could gather all her courage together, as if forming a baleful bale of yellow wheat of anciently harvested times – and then become the white knight herself (along with Fiat 500 … not so much a horse as a tiny little pony of delicately designed and elegantly framed features).

So then she had that hugely challenging decision to make.

And the alternatives showed the weakness of her position.

To stay where she was she felt quite impractical to contemplate: to stay with a husband who spent his days saying no to every suggestion and occurrence she made for herself, demanding pointedly – as he did – that she imagine on his behalf, and doubleguess, his every need and whim – that was him, how he was, and he worked his socks off no doubt; she couldn’t criticise him in that respect; she had no desire to do so; to do so would’ve been about as rankly unfair as any spouse could have been in this measuring world of quantitative likings and unlikings: all those secretive beens and gones …

But what she really asked of him – so that maybe one day she could feel positive enough about herself to shine in job interviews, and then prove to him her value as an economic unit of productive addition for the family he was currently breadwinning quite alone for – was the love and affection, the physical cherishing, the bantering bodies of lovers still enamoured after almost three decades of the battered existences that life throws at us all … she needed this bantering, this being able to touch him when she wanted, to not have barriers placed between her and him … and she was clearly starved now of all kinds of affection, she was clearly in a place of deeply dark emotions, she was clearly  – all too apparently, even to friends and family – the subject of some kind of oppressively normalised, naturalised existence.

To the outside world still, to many she knew, she was the frigidly cold and confusing half of the couple.  But it really wasn’t her – she responded so well to love: to smiles and saucy glances; to cheeky retorts; to the kind of casual stroke on the shoulder that momentarily pets you into a different world, and makes you wonder: “With this person, what would it be like?”  And it wasn’t that she was of a promiscuous bent: it’s just that she was so hungry for some kind of physical contact.  And the man she really had a right to expect such affectionate contact from – even in today’s politically informed times, even in curiously cold and correctly distanced way – slept in the bed she slept in every night, and he didn’t even like for her to doze on his side of the bed, and they had all sorts of arguments about messy eiderdowns and corners not square and clothes left draped over the edges of a bed which should’ve been there for passionate embrace.

And if he had wanted to touch her body, just occasionally, just at weekends, maybe once a month, maybe every quarter, she’d have felt the most powerful, beloved and positive creature in the universe.

But the reality of the matter was that he neither wanted her to touch him in private nor allow her to consider anything which wasn’t a safe (for him, she presumed) display of public normality: a tap on the forearm perhaps – or a linking of hands as shop window pursued shop window and he bought up the city with the pretty excuse that his job made them money.

And so she struggled to realise, to identify, when it went wrong.

And they’d loved each other the day they’d got married: of that she was sure; of that she had no doubt.  And their children were gorgeous, gorgeous creatures of a love exemplified and held out, through grand anticipation and selfless sacrifice – and a simple delight in the pleasures and treasures of seeing their offspring spring off into wonderful sectors of endeavour.

But what never worked right, and right from the beginning perhaps, she begins to see at least, at least she begins now to see, was the fiery necessity she had to be physically cherished and the simultaneous fear he manifested more and more – always slyly (she now realised) covered up and hidden below a cloaking set of wisdoms, intellect and argument; and this was something she’d pretended not to notice for a while; and this was something that she knew now would never change.

And she loved him so dearly, and cherished his soul, and if the soul of a person was the sole thing we needed, she had what she needed in the soul she obviously cherished.  But then she was quite unable to become that productive economic unit he threw in her face, quite rightly time and time again when she failed once more to put her best foot forward: and the reason she was unable to put her best foot forward was because his crushing lack of physical affection meant her best foot forward no longer existed: his crushing lack of physical affection now acting as a mental diabetes on her heart and soul, on the muscles of her mind, on the sinews of her ability to perform: and so the courage she could’ve expressed now wound down into a crummy simulacrum: and no one was ever now going to be convinced by her daily weeknesses.

So she began to realise the universe was right: her strong desire, her finest wish, to resolve the squaring of these circles by becoming that productive unit which meant the family would finally breadwin together … it simply wasn’t going to happen.  He had refused for so long to cherish her physically; and maybe even at the beginning he’d done it with fear.  And this recent thought had arrived literally to taunt her, and make her think she was worth even less than she’d once thought she was worth, a very long time ago now; too long ago for her to forget.

And she so wanted to save all the good things that had been.

And she so wanted to square the circles of their lives.

And there was nothing she would’ve liked better than to say to him: “Love me as you can, whilst I love another.”

But if she went and said that to the proud man he was … well … what on earth might happen to the woman she still – even then – managed to continue considering herself?

What on earth could happen?  What on earth really wouldn’t?

If truth be told, she was terrified not of change but of leaving behind her the relic and wreck of a person who without her would suffer as she had never done.

She wasn’t terrified of being happy at all – quite the opposite.

She was terrified, rather, of the degree and level to which his sadness might fall in her ultimate absence: once her absence were communicated: once her absence were consummated.

Failure and betrayal were the words that came to mind: and nothing, nothing in any true way, would ever be able to usefully repair his soul.

“Is this how a war veteran feels when they return?” she asked herself.  “Guilty about survival; morbid about the prospect of recovery; tied to the past and to companions who will never return; fighting the future and better times that can never be shared … so is that what a veteran really feels?  And am I a veteran in some terribly similar way?  A veteran without bullets … but even so, with daggers to the heart?”

short short story

Falling out with love

“It’s a weird sensation,” she said all of a sudden, as she tried to get comfortable – her back squirming and squealing slightly on the leather couch.

“What is?” he asked, in his theatrically psychiatric voice.

“Well.  Ever since we’ve begun to talk again, both of us we’ve gone and fallen out with love.”

“How do you mean?”  His voice expressed real interest.

“I dunno.  I mean I’m not sure about him, he never was one for love in the round – but certainly in my case it’s pretty much something I no longer think about.  We’re becoming like sister and brother, if you know what I mean.”

“Hmm.  Go on.”  He was clearly paying attention now, in ways he often obviously would not.

“As I said, it’s really strange.  I just don’t miss it.  It’s as if, after struggling so hard and long to get what I thought I needed, really after all this time there seems no point in struggling any more.  Almost like a kind of trance I’ve fallen into.  Almost as if Zen was my motorbike.”

He smiled.  He frequently did.  She had a turn of phrase that quite regularly made him think he should be paying her.

“So do you feel there’s any downside to this … peace?” he asked.

“Well.”  She thought for a moment.  “I guess so.  I mean I used to have tons of ideas in my head, and wanted to conquer the world and be someone different.”

“And now?”

“No ideas, any more.  They just don’t flow.  So no desire to conquer either.  And being different?  We’re all different and then again none of us are: and since all of us are, or not, I guess that makes us all the same, right?”

He smiled again.  “I suppose yes, you’re right.  So what now?  What do you plan to do?”

“Nothing.  Be sister to his brother, and wait for life to muddle through.  What do you suggest?”

The buzzer buzzed gently.

He paused for a few moments; waved his hand slightly.  She was already up from the couch.  She knew what the buzzer meant.

“Here’s the bill,” he said gently.  “You can pay on the way out today … the machine’s been sorted.”