Monday, 1 January 2018
The Boss and meets Q his spiritual director once again
- Hi Q.
- Hi Boss.
There was a short silence as the Boss relaxed somewhat into the familiar and comfortable ambience provided by Q who waited patiently and alert. The Boss sighed, Q raised an eyebrow but remained silent.
- The thing is….The thing is, I am still troubled by those close to me having dreadful illnesses – dementia, Parkinson’s, a death by brain cancer and more.
- Yes and, as you know, it troubles me that this happens in our world created by God.
The Boss shifts uncomfortably in his seat.
- I know, I know, you theologians don’t talk that way anymore… but for an ordinary member of the congregation it is all God’s creation… And it feels so unfair.
- Q stop ‘hmming’ me!
- OK… I guess you are wanting a response?
- I am!
- To be honest I don’t know.
- Oh for goodness sake!.... Next you will be telling me how mysterious God ways are.
- True but that is b- all use to me!
- I’ll resist the urge to suggest that being useful to you is one of the meanings of scripture.
- You better had!
- OK let’s breath a bit….I now this is very painful for you (The Boss nods.) and for many others…. Can I tell you how I see it?
- Yes please do.
- A logical, rational reading of the scriptures and other holy texts only gets us so far. The idea that God has a hidden purpose in somebody’s suffering does not help much as far as I am concerned. I do, however, think that responding to others’ suffering can be valuable to us, as can reflecting on our own suffering. But this does not make sense to me as an explanation of suffering. What does makes sense (At this point the Boss leans forward in anticipation.) is that in moments of deep contemplation these issues do resolve for me; I am then at peace. However, when I return to ordinary consciousness I can’t find the words, the thoughts, the ideas. It’s like water slipping through my fingers. I can’t hold it. All I have is the memory of things making sense.
- Oh, sighed the Boss.
- Oh indeed. But perhaps we can invite that level of experiencing, of deep contemplation to happen to us… I know it is hard when we are suffering. Maybe pray for it if you like and then give ourselves some possible opportunities. Whatever seems to work for us.
- Hmm…. Worth a try.
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Paul was tired; weary; so tired he was beyond sleep; travelling on a slow delayed cross country train back to Manchester. It was dark but at least the Pet Shop Boys were on his I-phone. His trip to Cambridge had been mostly a waste of time but not completely as it had eliminated one area of inquiry relating to Frankie and had also opened up a new one. But so what? The gloomy song Suburbia seemed just right to resonate with Paul’s mood.
Travelling to Cambridge the night before he’d been hopeful. And even the hotel – recommended by Frankie – had not been bad at all. Neither had the restaurant with its camp style and food, and retro feel which added to his enjoyment. As did its name. I mean who in 2020 calls a restaurant Battleship Potemkin?
But the next morning his meeting with James had at first seemed like a right waste of time.
- James, I’m glad you agreed to meet me.
- And to talk to me about him.
- I’m only doing this for him …
- What can you tell me about his relationship with Julia?
- She was a right case … a real money grabbing bitch …She pushed him and pushed him … wanted him to get promoted and promoted, when all Frankie wanted was to teach his students. But that’s not where the real money lies. (The last words were almost spat out with – anger, resentment?)
- So you first got to know him when his marriage was on the rocks?
- He was so beaten down, sad to see it really.
- Was that when?
- When he got busted?
- Whose fault was it?
- At first I thought it was her.
- His wife?
- But no it can’t have been.
- Then who?
- Can’t tell you.
- Can’t or wont?
- More than my life’s worth …Look I am sorry … and Frankie is a great guy but …
- You know he got thumped last week?
- Sure, that’s why I am even talking to you.
- Is there nothing you can tell me?
- OK... Look all I am going to say is this… Check out the Sons of Gideon.
Friday, 15 September 2017
Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie was playing in the T Hive where Paul was settling down over a mug of mocha. It took him back to his childhood and his father’s love of Bowie. Music was one place where he and his dad met up. ‘Haven’t heard this song in years and it makes me feel a bit misty and spaced out inside listening to it again,’ said Paul to himself. And memories of being out with his dad in a rowing boat on the River Severn flooded through him. These moments of contact with his dad were precious to Paul – few and far between. Most of the time his dad was kind of absent – lost in some unhealed traumas relating to his army service in Northern Ireland during The Troubles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
His father had died in 2001 unresolved about his time in the Army despite the relative success of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. And it was as if he had passed on these issues to Paul to figure out. Paul’s own service in the police force had not helped. But somehow working now as a private detective seem to. Sometimes, indeed often, things could be resolved to some extent; not always how his customers wanted it to be but a resolution none the less.
And with regard to his friend Frankie and his recent beating, the question remained: was Frankie in the wrong place at the wrong time or was he a victim of a deliberate hit and if so by who and for what?
- Did you get a good sight of who attacked you?Frankie shook his head,
- It was all over so quick… and it was dark… all I remember is that one of them had a sniffle.
- Broken nose?
- Oh… just remembered one of them had a Welsh accent.
- Yeah and not the sniffler. It was the way he said “Isn’t it?” at the end of a sentence, typical Welsh!
Thursday, 17 August 2017
It wasn’t like Frankie to be late. He was usually so reliable that he was someone you could set your watch or even mobile phone by. Indeed, why not text or phone call? Paul felt a deep sense of unease as the minutes ticked by as he sat in the T Hive nursing a large cappuccino and gazing wistfully at the luscious cakes at the serving counter. But it was only 10.30 in the morning no time for a cake; maybe an almond croissant …. But where on earth was Frankie?
The door lurched open and a dishevelled Frankie staggered in and sat down clumsily and heavily in the chair next to Paul.
- Frankie?Frankie looked at Paul from a bruised and swollen face.
- What the fuck happened to you?
- I dunno (He shrugged his shoulders and winced)… Well yeah I got the shit beaten out of me last night…. Or rather early morning …. In the town centre… Northern Quarter… near Al Faisal…
- Who did this to you?
- It was too quick to get a good look at them.
- Them. There were two of them… A very professional job… Not enough to leave much damage – a couple of cracked ribs and a pain in the testicles.
Paul winced in empathy.
- It does sound professional.
- But why?
- Why Indeed!
Thursday, 9 March 2017
The train takes me to BristolMy heart is travelling further
To be with you
But my mind says No
I wish they would pull together.
I have followed my noseSo many times
And ended up here and there
Collapsing in the stream of life.
And now I live in exileAnd wonder where the time has gone
And who this old fool is
Who looks back at me
In the mirror of life
One day I must swap places with him
Until then I keep travelling on.
Sunday, 5 March 2017
“Tomorrow” she said. But that was always what she said to put me off; to deflect me; to shut me up. I glared at her but remained silent. What was the point of speaking? But God how I schemed and plotted inside. I had my plan perfected to a T. But would I carry it out? ‘Tomorrow’ was like a heart beat or the ring of a bell. And this time I would!
I threw a few clothes in a knapsack and raided my money box for a pile of coins and a few notes. Then I waited until she went next door for a neighbourly cup of tea and I was off. ‘Tomorrow Fuck that for a game of billiards’.
A bus ride into town then a short walk to the main road that led to the motorway. I stuck out my thumb and ten minutes later a red mini car pulled over.“Where you’re going?”
I climbed in and we were off. ‘Tomorrow’ – bollocks it was today and I was free; free at last.
Friday, 24 February 2017
Went to the regular 4th Thursday afternoon creative writing class at Elizabeth Gaskell House yesterday. The tutor was prevented from attending by storm Doris. So we managed well enough without him!
Here's a piece that I wrote for the class and read out:
I don’t know what I was meant to do. All I knew was that I had to escape my family and the small town I grew up in. I needed a job and computing seemed to be the coming thing in the late 60s.
Looking back I realised that I found out who I was retrospectively by looking back at what I did. But I never knew what I would stick at. I always wanted to be able to say ‘I am a whatever – medic, teacher, carpenter, builder, father, grandfather, husband’.
So I guess that I have gifts but I was never brought up or taught how to recognise them. First one in the family to go to university – it’s a cliché but no-one told me you can never go back.
So I moved on losing friends with no care in the world. Every new step forward was the loss of the old life, like shedding a skin or sometimes becoming a butterfly.
And now another transformation is in progress. It is simple to say ‘I am retired’ but it is not a state it’s a process and I am not sure what is emerging from the chrysalis.