Saturday, 19 April 2008

"Another Battle Lost & Won..."

The pain was already, in the truest sense of the word, extraordinary.  Like a coiled serpent, cramped and waking from it's slumber, it slowly swelled and pushed, birthing to life inside his skull.  It always woke foul tempered and hot breathed, straining and complaining as it surfaced from it's sleep.

He knew the pattern; the play of the battle that lay ahead.  Where it would deploy it's first wave of pain, how it would first push forward from behind his right eye; the nearest opening.  When this failed, it would try and take him by surprise, sliding and sliming around the right side of his head; spreading it's advance over twenty to forty minutes, as it snaked, pushing and burrowing round and down, into the base of his skull.  His body's instinctive response was equally predictable.  Sensing it's enemy's moves, it stretched; pulling his head to the left and down, as if in a vain attempt to pacify the enemy within, by offering it more room in which to stretch... never enough; the pain always stomping back, louder and harder as his head inevitably returned right and up, creaking, relenting, throbbing.

Sensing no real opposition, the poisonous beast swelled and breathed, flexing and waving it's long, bruising muscle as it rained hard, blunt pain down on every receptor that was slow and trusting enough to receive the new faith.  It pushed again, surfing past the base of his thundering skull and gushing with cruel euphoria as it galloped into and through the unguarded valley of his neck and charging, screaming out into the abandoned expanse of his shoulders.  Staking their claims as the fired through, arrows and thunderbolts of agony now fired randomly, wreaking havoc, wailing in victorious ecstasy as they stampeded, like satanic stallions over every aching centimeter of pounding, pounded, conquered flesh...

By this point in the battle, word had reached the body's council where they hid in some small quarter of the brain.  They were yet to be discovered by enemy spies, but this seemed a wasted advantage, as no brilliant or simple plan of resistance had yet been devised.  Or had ever been devised.  It was as if once the enemy had sunk back, bored with victory, fat on euphoria, fully pleasured on the pain it wrought; all memories of it's attack simply melted away.  As if something so terrible, so painful, so giant, could never happen again.  There was nothing to forgive, so there was nothing to learn.  There was nothing to remember, so there was nothing to forget... And so, each time, a new terror returns...

Unsure how to hurt or slow the enemy advances, the council decides on what it thinks the next best course to survive the attack. Torch the land. Kill the kingdom. Spread the pain. Share the pain. If we can't defuse, then we shall dissolve the pain.  Word is sent and scouts are employed to distract and lead the enemy in various tactical directions.  One band will jeer from the crest of the right shoulder blade and lead the enemy down into the spine.  The spine will crack and bow in writhing frustration; unable to defuse the pain, but instead, distracting and disseminating it.  Dividing like suicidal squads of seraphim, they split, leading the enemy along the ridges of the ribs, tearing, burning fields of muscle with enemy fire as they go; diving, hiding, waiting in dark crevasses in the stomach's lining.  Wave after wave of enemy chemical signals pour and swell after them.  The walls start to quake and buckle...

Elsewhere in the painverse, similar battles are being fought.  The hands twist and wring, feet buckle and hurt, marrow tickles and aches, as the black syrup of slow, thick, dragging, knifing, clumsy pain drags and sucks it's way, lazy giant suckerpunch after lazy giant suckerpunch, pounding and screaming through the suffering fleshscape...

And every time, the battle ends the same inevitable way.  The council, aching with frustration, complacent under the boredom of total, constant bombardment, desperate for a shift - any shift - in the game, sends it's last remaining scouts out, with The Final Message.

Like whispers in any army, waves of nausea, rumours of rumblings, hints of hurling have circused the various battlefields for eons in advance.  We'll push the enemy out. With one, massive, Almighty (yep, we've checked & he's on board with the plan), violent effluence, we'll turn this battered world inside out, hurling all unsuspecting invaders into the void that is Exterior...

The unifying command is executed with swift and damning efficiency.  Stomach and ribs are strained, sacrificed and bruised in the final, decisive pushes of battle.  Eyes glaze over and water out the last hiding agents still lurking in the skull.  Finally, the serpent and all it's writhing agents are gone...

The fleshscape shudders and sighs, shaking, exhausted into a slumber; allowing vital repairs healing and soothing to be undertaken...

Monday, 14 April 2008

"Requires Gentle & Sensible Treatment..."

Well, here she is.  

Meet The Voigtlander Bessamatic, born in West Germany, sometime between 1958-63.  

To me, she instinctively and simply became 'Bessie', when we were finally reunited, after many, many years apart on Saturday afternoon. And I know. The name. Guitars aside - i don't generally name inanimate objects, but she has been a part of my life for as long as i can remember. Her tough leather coat has a warm, familiar smell.  She has captured me as a naked baby, bathing in a kitchen sink.  Witnessed me as a frowning toddler, frozen in back & white, peering up over the horizon on a day out at the park, peered down at me in the pram, immortalised my childish pout; recording moments from my birth to mid-teens.

Bessie belonged to my late father, who was considerably older than my mother, and had travelled the world to an impressive, adventurous degree by the time they met. (From the little I know, that's whole other, cinematic story.)  Unfortunately, I know very little about his life, as he & my mother weren't together long before i was born and he passed away only a year or so later.

My mum lent Bessie to my cousin, about 15 years ago, after she had expressed an interest in photography, so I'd not seen (or heard) the camera for a very long time.  I did, however, remember the unforgettable sounds of the shutter and the warm, mechanical snap-back of the rapid winding lever.  They are not easily forgotten.  Maybe I'm over-romanticising the matter.  Maybe because they are such beautiful, warm, distinctive sounds that i've known and recognised since my earliest days; maybe that's why they feel safe and true.

My mum & I don't often talk of my father.  I think, on many occasions, we have avoided talking about him because it - naturally - would upset us to see each other upset.  I remember (now, with a laugh), how one Sunday afternoon maybe 15 years ago, my mother, stepdad, my then girlfriend and i were sitting around the kitchen table after enjoying Sunday lunch together.  Somehow, my father made a rare appearance in conversation - doubly so, as his name very rarely popped up in 'company'. (Not through shame or embarrassment, but simply because his absence touched so deeply.)  Anyway, for whatever reason, his name came up that Sunday, and my mum started telling one of her few stories about him.  My emotions soon showed, which upset my my girlfriend, who also started crying, followed shortly by my mum.  So my girlfriend was crying, trying to comfort me; i was crying, trying to comfort my mum; and my stepdad - who saw the funny side of the situation immediately - wondered what on earth was going on with this weird wailing family!

This camera means so much to me not simply because it belonged to my father.  Of course that's a big part of it.  But because it's one of the very few personal items of his that have found their way to me; now that i'm old enough to value, appreciate, love and use them the way he once did.  I know he loved photography.  I know he used this camera; hell, he even pointed it at me a few times, apparently.  When i hold it to my face, i smell the same warm, leathered air he smelt.  As I peer through the viewfinder, it's the slow, gentle undulations of the same lightmeter needle that he watched all those lost years ago, that i watched today...

Bessie & I managed one or two shots in the sun (and torrential) rain today.  I felt very self-conscious raising the big old friend to my face in public, but it felt so right that any awkwardness was soon forgotten.  (In fact, any self-consciousness was more to do with knowing that my dad was probably watching me as my nervous fingers - suddenly one and a half yrs old again - gently, clumsily, learned their way around Bessie's warm, worn, worldly curves.)  

I am so grateful for being given the privilege of spending some time with as beautiful and graceful a machine as Bessie, and I am all too aware, than I do not 'own' her; but that it's simply my turn to look after her while our paths run together for as long as that may be...

The way her needle bounced as we found the right light.  The way she snapped shut - closing her eye on the world, with that characteristic sound, as if to say "yep, got it"; almost winking at me, as i peered inside her secret mind. It all feels right.  Feels like home...

PS: and can you believe it - i was lucky enough to find a scanned pdf documents (2 parts) of the original manual for Bessie online. Here are the links, if you're at all interested...  part 1 is and part 2 can be found here

Thursday, 10 April 2008

"When You Smiled"

When you came

You seemed to step from leftfield shadows

You seemed to smile away all of my troubles

When you came

When you smiled

I felt my shoulders ease and sigh

I felt a weight disappear, denied

When you smiled

When we laughed

it was a gentle, easy thing

It was as friends waiting to begin

When we laughed

When we kissed

Not a planet crashed or slid

No one else knew what we did

When we kissed...

And now you're gone

There's nothing left here but the song

And the smile you gave me, it's still worn

Though now you're gone

(written 21:28 Thursday 10th April 2008, London.)

Something - a look, a smile - took me back 10 years on the way home tonight.  Took me back there; and back then.  We think we lose memories, forget tastes, smells, moments; and fear their loss; often at the cost of enjoying the moment itself.  But the slightest, most random things can bring them flooding back - brighter, clearer, sharper than ever - to be relived all over again.  The trick is, i think, we rarely know what the key is (what unlocks those memories?); or even that those memories are eternal.  I think they are. So maybe we never really 'lose' anyone or anything. Just my opinion, but i might be wrong...

btw - the photo seemed fitting.  I saw this disposable mask lying discarded at the bus stop earlier in the week.  I knew it'd been put there for a reason. Now I know. Thanks.

Thanks for stopping by & sharing.

Be happy.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

When The Moon Takes Over

I miss you most
When the Moon takes over,
The sky turns black
And the stars roll in...
I loved you first
When you slept on my shoulder;
The arch of your back,
The touch of your skin...
(extract from an untitled poem from the yellow notebook. written 1.24am, 1st April 1998. London, SW1.)