Watch “Fellow Prisoners by John Berger” on YouTube

Advertisements

Nature is cruel 2

It was strange enough that I had been thinking about how indifferent we seem to suffering and the chick presented.

I was genuinely wondering how odd the mechanism is that we can go about our business and deliberately ignore the destitute and yet be a superbly generous body of people when it comes to tv charity appeals like, “children in need”. What is it that we put on such a harsh exterior but reach for the wallet in the privacy of our homes.

Of course, this is social engineering not a reflection of our true nature. As John Berger said, “They have us believing that we must all work for our personal exemption from the common fate.”

After the chick, I knew the universe hadn’t finished with the lesson.

The next was a few days later in York. I had pulled into a quiet side street but unbeknownst to me, on a conspicuous corner. A police car drove past slowly and I got the feeling I had chosen a wrong spot.

As I was about to start up and move on, a fox streaked across toward a gap in the hedge. It looked at me and I was wondering what was in its mouth. Our eyes met and it dropped the object that I now saw was an adult tortoise shell cat, limp.

I was shocked at the site and at the fact that on meeting my eye, the fox dropped it like a thief caught in the act and sloped away.

Three days ago, I was in Sheffield. It was late and I pulled into a side road by the hospital to do a u-turn.

My headlights immediately lit up another tragic drama. Another fox. This time ragging a rat fiercely from side to side. Caught in the glare, the fox dropped its meal and, like the gaunt relative I’d seen in York, shoes away like a startled burglar.

It was so hungry though that it couldn’t bring itself to run for cover. It simply stalked, looking at the prey and me as if to say “if you don’t want it, do you mind if I?”

The worst was watching the face of the rat, gasping it’s last. Maybe I’m projecting or maybe it’s a mammalian feature but the rat had an air of innocence. I’ve seen this before when my pet gerbils died. No matter how knavish in life, at the end, peace. A peace that makes you want to shout, “No!!! Wait! Stop!”

Nature is cruel

One thing I can definitely say about being on the road is that it opens your eyes to the cruelty of nature.

I was walking down the high street of Bridlington, an easterly seaside town. I was contemplating my lot and thinking how oddly they seem to twist society, almost maniacally away from compassion, when a baby starling suddenly landed at my feet.

I looked at the poor helpless creature, obviously having fell from the nest prematurely, unable to fly. I thought I must help it, then what, what could I do? Surely any second now a parent would bundle it back to safety.

It took three maybe four seconds to decide and to walk by. I stopped and thought, no, I have to do something! I turned back just as a seagull swooped down from nowhere and attacked the sqawking desperate mite. It grabbed at the neck and began thrashing. 

I shouted, mortified and feeling poweless and guilty and it took off with the chick in its beak only to have two other seagulls meet it in mid air and begin to tear the carcass.

To compound the utter miserable desperation of the situation, an adult starling, I thought the parent, landed where the chick had been seconds earlier. It searched frantically a few seconds then took off for the nest that was dug into a crevice in the brickwork. 

That’s how quickly it can all be over. I looked around, arms lifted up to the heavens but hardly anyone had noticed. It cut me to the quick, that in future, if you have any opportunity to do good, any, then do it now, immediately. 

But then, we move tramps on from doorways these days because and I quote a councillor, “they’re not aesthetically pleasing and bad for business.”

interested in ufos?

The following is taken from “A Celtic Miscellany” and was said to have been written in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, by an unknown Irish author. It’s not long, but see what you make of it:

The Air Ship

“One day the monks of Clonmacnoise were holding a meeting on the floor of the church, and as they were at their deliberations there they saw a ship sailing over them in the air, going as if it were on the sea. When the crew of the ship saw the meeting and the inhabited place below them, they dropped anchor, and the anchor came right down on to the floor of the church, and the priests seized it. A man came down out of the ship after the anchor, and he was swimming as if he were in the water, till he reached the anchor; and they were dragging him down then. ‘For God’s sake let me go!’ said he, ‘for you are drowning me.’ Then he left them, swimming in the air as before, taking his anchor with him.”

Was the author recounting a dream? Or reporting a local story passed on? Seems an odd concept for the time, unless…

It ain’t like on the tele

If you sleep in your car, be aware that your lower legs may well start to swell! It’s to do with gravity stopping the blood from flowing properly back to the heart.

Anyhoo, so I’m in town trying to secure an extension to my bank loan and as I leave the building I feel a sharp pain in the chest and the life goes out from me. Mm, perhaps my swollen legs aren’t a sign of gravitational forces, or my MS playing up? Could it be the ticker?

So, now I’m in A&E and taken through for an x-ray. It looks fine. However, to rule out the possibility of a blood clot, they perform tests and keep me in overnight for a CT scan the next day. (The feel of a bed again, ah!)

Next day, scan is duly undertaken. A few hours later, up walks a doctor and says, there’s good news and bad news. I thought, “I didn’t know they did comedy on the NHS.” I fix a suitably concerned look.

Dr: “The good news is, you don’t have a blood clot.”

Smile from me and some comment of relief. Pause.

Dr: “The bad news is, you have a lesion on your lung and they want to take a further look at it before they decide what to do.

Ah.

As punchlines go, I thought it was quite poor. But the denouement was priceless. Before I could muster a response he blurts, “Now, when we mention cancer a lot of people panic…” Bless him, I was probably his first.

A place was logged for me to receive a follow-up phone call the next week and off I went. (I know, I was shocked too, it’s not like that on Casualty. I was hoping they’d be pushing people out the way as they bundled me onto a trolley and down for emergency surgery by the worlds best, who happened to be playing golf in the area that day and received the call and magnanimously declared, “No, my birdie can wait, there’s a man with a lump, and I’m not talking trousers here!” Of course, on the way to me, he’d also deliver a baby at roadside, pull a drowning kid from a river and give a heart attack victim vital cpr and stick a pen in their airway to help them breathe, like Quincy used to do.)

A cheering treat was in store. I’m living in a car, diseased like a biblical leper and now with a new pernicious lodger. “I’ll have a slap up meal, buy some beer, find a quiet locale and get slaughtered.” That’s what I reckoned and the slaughtering very nearly happened but not in a dreamy alcoholic way, more of a, literally getting slain type slaughtered way.

I chose a seafood establishment of the famous chain variety thinking, tried and tested, can’t go wrong. Well, as it turns out, this particular branch didn’t seem to be aware of the need to change the chip fat once in a while. It was a soggy, stench filled bland mush. Never mind, can’t go wrong with a few beers and a good nights kip?

As it happens, if you park up in a country lane near Harrogate, it can go wrong.

Looks idyllic doesn’t it?

I parked in a lay-by out of sight so as not to cause alarm.

I cracked open a tin, reclined the driver’s seat and settled down to sup with a bit of Bob for company:

 

About five minutes and a few sips in, at approximately 11.45 pm, a white car came screeching round the corner and skidded to a stop a foot in front of my bumper.ย  It was dark but I could make out that it was some souped up Clio-sized car. It flashed its headlights, twice!

I froze. “Oh God, Doggers! Don’t move! They might take it as a sign your interested!” (Top tip: if you are going to live in your car, best familiarise yourself with the protocols involved in one of man’s more repugnant hobbies, lest you mistakenly give a come on. As it was, here and now, all I knew was they flash their lights.)

Heart racing. They flashed again and still I remained rigid. It lurched forward to pull parallel to the driver’s door. There was some bald-headed grizzly type glaring, and checking with his passenger who appeared as a sinister silhouette to me. I wound down the window.

“South Yorkshire Police! We’ve had reports of burglaries in the area, get out of your car!”

I knew they weren’t Police but another terrifying thought gripped me. My car won’t start unless the seat belt is plugged in. I needed to stall for time as I pulled down the belt as slyly as possible.

“Certainly, Officer. Can I see your identification please?”

“Don’t mess us about, get out of the car and stand at the back! Now!”

“Yes, of course, just give me a second.”

Click, at last, the seat belt found home. I slammed my foot on the brake, started the ignition! At the same time, a look of rage transformed the grizzled face into fury. As I rammed my foot on the accelerator, so did he and we shot off in opposite directions. I was skidding on the loose screed in the lay-by, throwing stones in all directions.

Was he going to U-turn and chase me down? I couldn’t think straight because the nearest Police Station was back in the direction they headed. “I’ll have to double back? Don’t be an idiot, drive to Wetherby! It’s about four miles!”

My imagination was racing faster than the car. Scenarios playing; of course, they’d have to chase me down, I saw his face! They’d ram me into a ditch, slit my throat, leave me for dead! I kept glancing feverishly in the rear-view mirror expecting to see the tell-tale lights of the hunter, stalking its prey.

It felt like the longest drive of my life, like being chased in a nightmare but your legs can’t move, stuck in quicksand!

I careered into the Police Station car park but, to my horror, there didn’t seem to be any lights on. Quick, dial 999!

I got through to the switchboard, blurting and trying to swallow the panic. She reassured, Officers would be with me shortly and to stay with the car. Stay with it, I was practically melted to it! Again, time deliberatly dragged it’s feet, each second a clunking echo.

Five minutes later, I’m eyeing the entrance wondering what the hell’s happened and knowing that any minute now a white Clio will come slowly rolling by and close the net on my impending sacrifice. A tap on the passenger’s window almost killed me with fright.

“Oh, for f…!” As I jumped so hard I thumped my head in the cushioned roof.

“Police, you okay, sir? Come on, follow me.” At least this time, he had a uniform and ID.

Inside looked like a dilapidated security cabin. This is Britain in the age of austerity, while the leeches dine at the finest restaurants and laugh at the plight of the paupers, the Guardians, the one’s charged with keeping us all safe, languish in under-equipped, forgotten and rotten little hovels.

But it now took on a new excitement. Safe as I finally was, or so I thought, it then became a bone fide mystery. Police work ensued. First thing they did was contact North Yorkshire Police as the incident had strictly taken place on their side of the border. Crackling radio responses assured that no further incidents had been reported and none of their Officers were in the area.

Then a brief message to hold, while they contacted South Yorkshire Police. The news came back, South Yorkshire had no one in the area either. A look passed, “See, I told you so, they were criminals!”

“Looks like you had a lucky escape there.”

I waited a few seconds but, no, it didn’t happen. Surely, this was the point in Starsky and Hutch where we all piled into the red Gran Torino with the go-faster white stripe and went “a-huntin'” for the bad guys? Or a radio would gasp to life again as some traffic cop, nearing retirement had used his years of gained wisdom to give chase to a vehicle fitting the description and was now cornering the “perps” in an abandoned warehouse. Back-up would then arrive and grizzled perp would appear on the roof, brandishing a weapon shouting, “You’ll never take me alive you dirty coppa’s!” because he would also have mysteriously morphed into James Cagney. A volley of SWAT team shots would ring out and he’d teeter, briefly, before falling, dead-weight to the ground! The accomplice would then emerge from the shadows, hands raised, “Don’t shoot, he made me do it, I swears to ya mister, he made me.”

And then he’d go straight, having learned his lesson and we’d all sleep safer in our beds.

No, the Officer sniffed and said:

“We’ll keep a look out for them but chances are they’re long gone by now. Pity you didn’t manage to get a number plate.”

“Yes”, I thought, “real pity but I was kinda pissing my pants at the time, trying not to get murdered!” At least they could have launched a drone or two. He then looked at me, grinned and said, “You do know it’s illegal to drink alcohol in the front of your car?”

“I wasn’t driving? The engine was off? I was in my sleeping bag?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s against the law, even if the engine’s off and the key’s out the ignition.”

To round off my wonderful day, I was then arrested, slammed in a cell overnight and brutally sodomised by both Officers.

I made that last bit up because that’s what would have happened in the movies, or something like that, probably. And besides, I thought your attention might be waning. ๐Ÿ™‚

What actually happened was, he knew I hadn’t consumed enough alcohol to be over the limit (and did say the stuff about drinking in the car, so another free top tip there), so advised that I could pull round into a local doctors surgery car park for the night and that I’d be safe there.

It was all very bonhomie as I left and I felt like part of the gang again. One of the lads, back under the wing of righteous protection.

I drove through the town, struck by the luminescent sleepiness that befalls a market town at night. The light, like a warm blanket, holds the breath of the place until the hustle and bustle is ready for the off again. The odd fox, nervously skits toward the shadows from an upturned bin. And a car, a lone car, parked right across the entrance to the doctor’s car park. Parked in such a way to block the entrance!

A white car! And the entrance was such that the only way out was to reverse. I stopped.

The driver’s door opened and a man got out. A grizzled-faced bald man, holding a shot-gun, with a look of pure evil, revenge.

My stomach quivered. I was trapped. I looked in the rear-view mirror and there was salvation, the Police had followed me round to see that I was safe. I flashed a look of triumph at the grizzled perp but he didn’t flinch. A psycho! Hell bent on taking us all out. As my face sank, a tap at the passenger window almost destroyed what was left of my fracturing mind. It was the Policeman! He slowly signalled me to wind down the window. He smiled and said:

“We don’t take kindly to hobo’s in these parts, now, get out, of the fucking car!”

Oh gosh, I’ve done it again. Everything up to the white car at the doctors bit was true, but I made the last bit up. Exciting though wasn’t it ๐Ÿ™‚

There was a car blocking the entrance. But it had a young man at the wheel who gave me one of those, “I’m so tough, what the ‘f’ are you looking at, looks.” He started his engine and moved off. It did strike me as odd again, because the only thing he could have been looking at from the place he was angled, was the back of the local supermarket, where the delivery bay is. However, now that I was almost as good as a fully fledged cop, I took the number plate and rang it in!

Never heard anything else about it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I suppose the moral of the story is, crime is rife. Or maybe, “cheer up when things look glum, there’s worse to come.”

I’m due to have a repeat scan on the 12th Aug. If the lodgers spread his wing’s they’ll take it from there. Wish me luck ๐Ÿ™‚

(all rights are reserved to this story and I’d be glad to negotiate a fab knockout deal if anyone wants to make a film out of it ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

 

 

 

In the back of beyond.

So a brief update: the day before yesterday the charity that provides me with a car telephoned to say that it was not company policy to allow their customers to live in their cars.

I explained that I have no other option as I couldn’t afford to put my belongings into storage. It didn’t seem to matter so I am left anxiously waiting for their decision as to what to do.

Then, having found a quiet secluded library car park to use for the last week, I was awoken at 4 this morning by a security guard wanting to know what was happening. I said I’d been in the library til late and felt unable to drive which he bought and said “get your head down for the night.” Which is English for, go back to sleep.

Today, I showered at the local swimming pool, drove over to where I used to live to pick up the ton of mail that had accrued, only to discover several parking tickets for staying in places I shouldn’t. Obviously, all done in innocence by me.

Isn’t it telling that as western culture is being eviscerated before our very eyes, they still find time to screw the last dregs from us with pernicious hidden cameras and privateering that would make Long John Silver blush.

The day rounded off with a visit to the urologist. More advice to self-catheterise and a swift inspection of the prostate. No dear reader, I had not been wined and dined prior to this gross violation. She hadn’t even asked if I might like to take in a movie, just trousers down, legs up and in she dove.

These episodes all make me wonder about the nature of life. How is it that when you undertake such an adventure as mine, the universe seems to know and begin stalking. Enormous piles of poo come wading in on cosmic waves. You’d think a kinder gentler entity would cut you some slack.

Mm.

I find Mr Sheldrake theories on Morphic Resonance to be interesting. It does seem that if you do things out of the ordinary, it seems to notice. Unless you have unlimited finances of course, in which case it will continue to wipe your arse for you.

Not all those who wander are lost.

 

Almost a year ago now, I moved into my dream house. It had a through floor lift, widened doors for my wheelchair, level access bathroom and shower, a garden with pathway so I could spend the evenings in the summer sun. The council had also kindly installed a driveway so I could park safely and close to the door.

I have Multiple Sclerosis https://www.google.co.uk/url?s, diabetes and one or two other quirks for good measure.

The property is semi-detached and on the kind of street that looks every bit the English country idyll; gardens neatly trimmed, cars regularly washed, smiles suitably smeared on and language, viciously bland. Alas, it also harboured festering animosities that all good suburban horror stories exploit.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) does not respond well to stress. The usual relapse rate for a person with MS is two or three a year. Since last August, I’ve had ten visits to the hospital. My crime? Moving into the house.

The property is semi-detached and immediately the neighbours took umbrage to the noise of furniture being moved and nails knocked in to hang paintings. It didn’t occur to me that this would be an issue and I was oblivious for the first few days. Finally, as I was attaching the back of a bookcase with nail tacks, and the exact number of strikes was answered by the reciprocal number in bangs on the wall from next door, I realised there was a problem.

MS being what it is, the initial shock of this sent my body reeling. It sounds peculiar and is hard to explain because, intellectually you can be reasonable, but the bodies autonomic system gets out of whack and you end up in pieces. So, I was subdued; walking with crutch, wheeling, crawling but always on eggshells (whichever mode of transport I could utilise but always the eggshells, damn those eggshells.)

Rather than being too disheartened I thought to make some enquiries as, for all I knew, the neighbour might have had health issues of their own and be strung out by the slightest provocation. Medications can elicit this kind of response.

Now, I’m going to cut nearly a years worth of story short, to save you from having to make a hot drink to get to the end of the thing.

Suffice to say, the neighbours didn’t quit with the banging, and once they found it got to me, did it even more. The elderly couple I thought were friendly, who lived opposite turned out to be cold religious extremists who delighted in furnishing me with tons of “end times” literature. The neighbours on the other side turned out to be locals with kids who decided it was ok to spit gum on my driveway, make lots of alpha male posturing to reinforce the stake claim to being king of the castle… I noticed that no one else on the street seemed to have anything to do with this Bermuda Triangle of Dickensian doom.

The council failed miserably in offering the support they should have provided. I requested recording equipment, which was promised since last October but did not materialise. My Neurologist, GP, Social Worker, Neuro-Social Worker all wrote in support of finding a new home as the stress was killing me. Finally, the council agreed to allow me to start bidding again on properties… that’s the method by which all who apply for social housing in the UK have to proceed.

The final straw was, I came home late from another few days in hospital, was in the house for the typically peaceful first ten minutes and the banging recommenced. I sighed, thought, I’ll either to crazy, commit a vile act, or die. So, I packed a bag of clothes and washing accoutrements, lobbed in a few books, carted out the sleeping bag and drove away.

The adventure began.

This blog is and will be an update platform, room to share my ideas, hopefully a place to connect with human beings and have a bit of fun too. Peace!

It wasn’t as bad as anticipated and the next morning…