I met an old and dear friend for dinner this week, someone who is – outside of family – my longest-known-and-still-in-contact-with person. We’ve known each other 40 years, but have lived quite distinct lives for the last 35 – catching up sometimes rarely, but in that glorious “it’s as though the intervening time hasn’t happened” way.
And yet it has. Sitting, post-prandial, by the log fire in a wonderful rural inn, we spoke about various Stuff that’s happened over recent years, and there was a sudden lull. A joint pondering. He said, “man, but there’s been so much…”
So much Life, is what he meant. Between ‘us then’ and ‘us now’, we have each lived full grown-up lives and despite the natural familiarity are, in fact, largely strangers.
Which got me thinking – good, positive pondering, like a visit from the Muse – about this friendship, and others, spanning years and yet to all intents fixed on a small space of actuality: a tiny fraction of Time Known, where there was a tight connection, with the intervening years enhanced by that strong sense of recognition – a tie, a bond, a lasting connection – which is actually a memory, a perception, and no longer a reality.
My dinner companion was a hugely important part of my life 35 years ago, and the essence of that remains. I’ve spotted him, occasionally, in other men, in other decades. The glimpse always draws me. It’s that memory of something… perhaps it’s unfinished business from a previous life. Perhaps it’s a quest on behalf of an alternative self in a parallel world. Perhaps it’s just a hunger.
Ah, but it was a gentle and welcome Muse. It resulted in a poem:
Whilst the world lunged forth into 2019, Fate’s divination zapped me back to the seventies and I haven’t yet managed to find my way out. Funny, but I’m happy lingering here, somewhere in the mid-late 70s, when summers were summery and life was simpler.
I saw a news article a day or so before the rest of you left 2018 – a mere glimpse as I scrolled, the corner of one eye just capturing the name ‘Karen Carpenter’ – and from that momentary input came an ear worm firmly planted:
Every sha-la-la-la-la, every wo-oh-wo-oh…
Twenty four hours of that and I had to listen to the song in the hope it’d go away.
It didn’t go away. It intensified. It was the unexpected portal to a past from which I’ve yet to emerge… primarily because I’m loving it here.
What a beautiful voice she had. My parents had the album and I’d listen to it – I’d sing along – with others that remain fixed in my mind from that time: the Bee Gees, Simon & Garfunkle, Barbara Streisand… many songs from whom have survived the test of time and are still enjoyable now. I’d lie on the living room floor when my parents were out, the record crackling in circles on the player, getting up periodically to turn it over (yeah, remember that?!), carefully place the stylus, and play the other side.
Delayed gratification of a type we no longer recognise.
With the ear worm refusing to budge, and the memories of a simpler time beguiling and not something I wanted to cast out, I downloaded the Carpenters’ greatest hits album on Apple music and listened to the lot. Songs like Goodbye to Love and Solitaire still make my heart ache, but I’m not entirely sure they’ve stood the test of time – I think my kids would find them very much of a bygone epoch. Though the sentiments are entirely current.
No surprise, I guess, as there are a limited number of plots for human experience… some say 6, some say 36 – either way, we’ve been singing the same songs of love won and love lost since we first sat round a cave pit fire, banged a few rocks, grunted in unison, and found we had rhythm. Prior to that how did we feel? Who knows. Perhaps we were less inclined to acknowledge hurts. Perhaps we just went out and bludgeoned a few edible critters. Got over ourselves.
Now… well, we reflect. We feel pain. We actually enjoy sadness to a point… and then it gets too much. There’s a fine line between melancholy and pain. Sometimes I wish I could just go out and bludgeon a few edible critters. Superstar, up next:
Play that sad guitar.
So, Yesterday Once More… beautiful and I reckon it’s stood the test of time. Goodbye to Love, not so much alas and yet that guitar riff towards the end is blissfully relevant. Solitaire… well… I find it hauntingly beautiful, and apt for our times, but I guess it’s now dated even if the context is relevant – moreso in our world of social media.
The song which has least stood the test of time is the one referred to in the title of this post: Please Mr Postman… which probably made me the most nostalgic. Do you remember getting letters???? It was wonderful! Letters, postcards – more glorious delayed gratification – and long-winded phone calls, tied to a fixed point, sitting on the carpet somewhere for hours because phones had wires that would only stretch so far, and that was that, we knew nothing else.
I’m not ready to join you all in 2019 just yet. I need to just listen a bit longer… but Happy New Year to those of you who’ve arrived. I’ll see you there later.
So You got hackedand now my phone is deadfrom following anemail linkwhich came latewhen i was wearyand trustingYou
and iforgot to rememberYou’re a virusleaving me unable to communicatewith those whodon’t followlate night links sentfrom idiots whoseidea of funis tying up timein online bondagetime that could havebeen spentcommuningwith me...You’re a digital virusrendering me muteYou should havecalled instead. sandie zand, 01:17 3rd Feb 2018
“If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.” George Orwell, 1984
Was looking through some old diaries – 1980 through to 1990 – “what was I doing on this day in…” being the question idly to mind.
In 1984, my old banger of a car was in and out of the garage throughout April (a Mini van, with a number of bus parts on it, as my then boyfriend worked for his family’s coachbuilding company – recall having had a bus reverse honk fitted to my indicators, in fact… amusingly noisy for a small car). Anyway, clearly that month my little car needed work, and the following was the bill:
Wow. Can’t even contemplate what that bill would come out at in today’s money. (That said, £80 spent on my car in one week in 1984 would have felt slightly painful! Probably hence the diligent entry of the figures).
The three diaries in the picture represent 1984, 1985 and 1986. (apologies for blurring out my hugely interesting entries… protection of the innocent, and all that jazz 😏). Party years – my God but each week is filled with events. What blissful freedom exists when one is 20-22 yrs old.
My Diaries of the Past are in no way literary works of art (not journals, merely a litany of “places I need to be/was”), and I’ve often regretted never keeping a proper journal, but it’s still heartwarming to glance back through these things and I’m glad I kept them, scrappy little throw-away items that they are. They reside in my Little Box of Special Things, along with a few treasured letters, some photos, tickets and invites… I maybe look at them once a decade. It makes me smile.
I keep a more dedicated, expansive journal now – and have done for the past two years – a little late to the game, and no idea whether that will induce the same smiles when I’m 92 (should I ever reach that age!!). Think perhaps not – there’s no innocence, no blithe freedom, in my entries as ‘responsible adult’.
Though am sure there’s one or two bits in them that’ll make me smile, one day… 😉
Stumbled across this poem quite accidentally and loved it… not quite as appropriate in today’s stifling heat as it may have been in yesterday’s early morning rain, but still – perhaps it’ll help folk cool down.
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
so often? Is it
that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me
something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out
of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
with a decent happiness.
Robert Creeley, “The Rain” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley.
Sex scenes, that is. I cannot be the only writer who finds them torturous.
Please tell me I’m not.
I’ve just finished – bar the tweaking – the one and only sex scene in my book. It was a difficult process. I cannot describe body parts. I cannot move, on the page, through the bumps and grinds of the physical act itself. I just cannot write these things.
Fortunately I’m well-acquainted with the glorious twins Obtuseness and Metaphor, whose help I have called upon (in spades!) over the last 36 hours. Thank you, girls, you’ve saved my blushes.
I can’t work out whether the reluctance to write sex scenes is solely down to a fear of the reader’s perception and judgement (she must do it like this!) or whether it’s a general dislike of sexual acts written out as processes – or, perhaps, the combination of both.
But there’s no guarantee Obtuseness and Metaphor get it right either. In fact I think I may have been irrevocably damaged by Ian McEwan’s fantasy-killing Sex in the Library scene in Atonement, wherein he extended a mountaineering metaphor well beyond its natural boundaries and made me cringe and shake my head at the very point I probably should have been hyperventilating.
It. Was. Not. Good.
There is no easy route. And yet we persist. What exactly are we trying to capture? What exactly are we trying to conjure in our readers’ minds? These are the questions I asked myself and, in answering them, my scene revealed itself as one (thankfully) requiring those Glorious Twins – and not a biology lesson or an attempt at textual wank-fodder.
I recently saw a Facebook writer friend post the distinction between erotica and porn. It went something like tickle with a feather, it’s erotica – use the whole chicken, it’s porn (though I have to say much of the erotica I’ve read on Authonomy does seem to cluck).
I reckon we need another definition, for a sex scene in reluctant hands – wherein we allude to the feather and its usage, esp. the areas it may touch, with the help of those Glorious Twins.
I’m not going to do it… I’ve worked Obtuseness and Metaphor enough today. But the best suggestion posted below will win a (virtual) prize… go on, you know you want it.