Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mystic Detective(21)

It was cold, so cold that the usual gauntlet of smokers sat out on stools in the doorway of Fuel had vanished. Inside it was steamy hot and George was serving behind the counter and freely offered to bring over Paul's cappuccino to his table.
- Things are looking up, muttered Paul under his breath as George came over
- Whaat?
- Oh nothing
Paul smiled but George looked back at him blankly. It was obviously too early, if ever for such a conversation.

Paul remembered how last night his daughter had been singing in her school choir at the carol service. Paul didn't stick out like the sore thumb he expected to but conversation with his fellow parents was a bit stilted despite mulled wine and hot mince pies.

However, singing carols usually lifted his spirits - especially when he could hit the right key and more or less the right note. He could feel the music inside him in his guts which was fairly usual but also in his chest, unusual. Being given a lighted candle added to the mood and then a reading from the start of the gospel of St John set him off over the edge into weeping and a deep sense of inter connectedness with everything and an understanding of a truer meaning of being born again of the spirit and not of the flesh. Time to be uniquely himself in a wondrous created universe while his time lasted.

A very young baby cried out and brought Paul back into the present, into Fuel, in a good way. Apple came into Fuel at that moment
- Hi App
- N'mystic
Paul raised a quizzical eyebrow having already succumbed to Apple's monosyllabic form of communication - maybe this was parallel to texting or perhaps a consequence of too much of it.
Apple shrugged his shoulders in response to Paul's unspoken question
_ Nothing? queried Paul.
Apple almost imperceptibly shock his head and loped off.

Monday, 20 December 2010

My ancestors travel with me

My ancestors travel with me

As the buildings collapse
Into rubble
Part of my history
Part of me
So much of my past is vanishing
Like water through my fingers
And I can't hang on to it.

You move into
Ever widening life
Not knowing
You carry some of my past
As my ancestors travel with me.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Boss meets Q again

The Boss, perhaps my alter ego, once more consults Q my imaginary spiritual director
- Hi Q
- Hi Boss, long time no see
- True…
- So what bring you here at this festive time?
- I’m still struggling with death… and life
- Right
- It feels as if my sense of my mortality is dropping lower inside me, inside my consciousness, affecting me on deeper and deeper levels…
- Hmmm
- Sometimes I feel a bit flat, even depressed with it… like what is the point?
- What is the point?
- Yes! But I don’t want to turn and face the wall… and I can live more in the moment knowing that my future is finite in physical terms at least…
- Hmm
- A lot of what I do, a lot of what I spend my time doing is pretty futile when faced with death… Only the quality of human contact and of my contact with creation seems to matter. I feel that if there is any immortality then it is in that.
- In that quality of contact?
- Yes. Everything else will fade away for sure. I don’t especially want to leave money and stuff behind me as I die, well just a bit for my family - I certainly want to travel lighter now - … I just want to be remembered with fondness … I guess that is where I have come to. It doesn’t answer the big questions but it gives me a place to live from for now.
- Hmm
- Q this has been absolutely brilliant!
- But I have hardly said a word
- Exactly you have not got in the way of the unfolding that I needed to have happen and couldn’t seem to do on my own. So thanks.
Q nodded in appreciation of the Boss’s words and they descended into a deep silence in which as ever everything made sense to the Boss, even the tears of gratitude that ran down his face.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Rush Hour choir performs

Last night the Rush Hour choir at the University which I joined in October had its end of term concert (first gig!)and we performed 5 songs and 3 carols (with audience participation) in front of about 40 family and friends and colleagues. No big deal you might say and I was surprisingly calm and in a slightly altered performance state of mind. Nathan joined the choir for the first time and sang in a rich deep voice and somehow my voice straightened against his and my whole body seemed involved. Like I was singing with all my heart at least some of the time. My grandfather West sang in the church choir and in the pub, and my wife said she was thinking of my mum and how pleased she would have been. I am made up about this thinking about it now. Regular followers of my blog will know of my pain and struggle around music. I feel like I have arrived at last. It is not the end of something, more of a beginning. I can now get on with being part of this choir and seeing where my singing can take me. Oh Boy.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Mystic detective(20)

Paul was restless he couldn’t settle to anything. His breakfast at Fuel that morning was not settling well inside him, he felt distinctly queasy. A frosty bike ride to visit Frankie had not improved his spirits like it usually did and neither did his time with his friend. Frankie had at least improved from his suicidal state to something resembling his ordinary state of misery. So perhaps Paul was feeling redundant now that Frankie no longer needed him and his own troubles crowded in. His evening of food and dancing and the subsequent night with Martha had been sweet. But their farewells had a bitter undercurrent unexpressed in words but communicated in the look she gave him – anguish? imploring? needing? – whatever it was he did not want to see it and certainly not speak of it.
Of course his vicar friend Keith would probably refer to this experience as ‘Your time on the cross’ or ‘Your dark night of the soul’. ‘Yeah thanks Keith… for nothing’ thought Paul, ‘Bloody clever, I don’t think’. Actually this was not the way his friend Keith would respond to whatever was up with Paul and Paul knew that. He was just angry.
After 30 years of relative quietness the students were revolting again, marching in their thousands against the proposed tripling of university fees and cuts in education spending. There was something about the quality of their anger which spoke to something in Paul. He knew that this good be a dangerous impulse, that he needed his cold analytic wits about him to tackle OM but it was a hotter anger that he felt. He was ready fro a fight. He was ready to fight for Percy, Abdullah, Frankie, Claudia and above all for himself.
Justice was a harsh mistress never truly satisfied always demanding more. Sometimes Paul wanted to turn his back on her and run away, hide, or play but again and again she called him back to her and he could not resist. He was the mystic detective after all and his trip to California could not longer be put off. ‘California here I come’ so online to book his flight and Santa Barbara hotel.

Paul was dreaming of Abdullah, moving through a hot sandy Turkish landscape. Abdullah was desperate to contact him but every time they nearly got to meet Abdullah was whisked away by some strange force. At first this not quite meeting almost seemed like fun, a kind of weird sort of dance but then it got more and more serious, more and more darker and at the last time of nearly meeting their fingertips brushed, there was a look of real terror on Abdullah’s face and pain surged up Paul’s arms causing him to cry and wake up yelling out Abdullah’s name.
The phone was ringing
- Paul?
- Whaa
- Paul it’s Mickey
- Yeah
- Yeah. I’ve just had a call from Kings Cross, yer mate Abdullah
- Whaat? (Paul came wide awake)
- He’s been beaten up, expertly, cracked ribs, broken, nose, broken cheekbone, lots of bruises.
- Oh fuck
- Yeah, he’ll live but he is mess
- Shit … I’m off to California the day after tomorrow but I can stop off in London and visit him first… what hospital?
- King’s Cross, near the station. I’ll fax through the Santa Barbara details
- And Paul?
- Yes?
- Take care
- I will you know me.
Paul was calm now. He had a job to do. Too many people were suffering, time to bring things to a head.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

There is a whole world there for me

Piano lesson with Rebbecca last night and recognising that I respond to the music I play bar by bar sometimes note by note. By learning to play a piece slowly note by note I catch hold of the feelings in the music. And Rebbecca validates the feelings that this particular piece is said to be whatever. This is in the music and its in me and I never really knew it could be like this. Classic music audience are so still but I guess for some of them it is all going on inside. The right kind of music has always moved me to dance or the right lyrics to feelings. But this is a bit different. For example I have always thought Greensleeves was a bit naif but when I play it it moves me immensely. A real sadness/melancholia and a bit of hopefulness, it tells me something about the human condition. I feel like a new secret world is there and Rebbecca tells me about playing in an orchestra with tears streaming down her face in response to the music she is playing. There is a whole world there for me that I have been mostly shut out of for so long. I could have been there earlier in my life but I am truly glad to be there how

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Mystic detective(119)

Paul was tired. His head was hurting and he didn’t have the satisfactory explanations that it hurt because someone had hit him or that he had a hangover from drinking too much. No, it was just hurting. He couldn’t thinks straight about OM; he was still worried about Frankie and Claudia; he wasn’t sure how to proceed with rescuing Percy and his daughter Catherine was away on a school trip to Brittany.
Time to see Martha again. Paul was never quiet sure where he was with Martha or how to describe her. Lover sounds a bit naïf, significant other even worse and he was not that sure how ‘significant’ she was to him or he to her. At the times when he thought they might really get together, maybe even move in together she seemed not that bothered and vice versa. It was no longer an apparent tension between them – they weren’t an ‘item’ and they weren’t ‘just good friends’. When they met up they didn’t always end up in bed together but sometimes they did. It was convenient, comfortable, a bit like a marriage without passing through the getting married bit and without the living together bit. It suited them both – for now.
- Hi Martha
- Hi mystic
- Fancy a drink?
- And how
- Lead Station or?
- Lead’ll do
The Lead Station was a bar cum restaurant in the increasingly fashionable Beech Road n the increasing fashionable Chorlton. In recent years Chorlton had suffered that familiar blight of a relatively cheap mixed neighbourhood – think Irish, student, bohemian, alternative, organic, young professionals –t hat becomes so fashionable and popular that he kind of people who made it so interesting can no longer afford to move or live there.
Martha was nursing a Corona at the bar when Paul arrived. They shared a brief kiss.
- Hi mystic
- Hi Martha, you early or
- Yeah, you know me.
Martha was always, always early and Paul usually about punctual.
- Nother drink?
- Na, I’m ready to eat
Paul signalled the barman for a Corona and then made their way into the restaurant area
- How are you Paul, you look bushed
- If not only (They both laughed) I am… and I’m worried about Frankie
- Me too, he’s still off work thank goodness…. That Claudia is a minx
- You reckon? (Paul was surprised at Martha’s unusual forthright judgement of Claudia but there again she did work for Frankie was very fond of him and protective of him in the way that secretary’s can often be)
- I reckon… Frankie was fine until she turned up
- Yes but-
- No buts… He was level headed enough
- Frankie… level headed?
- - OK maybe not (They both laughed) but after he split up with his wife and came out things did get better for him
- True
- And now…
- And now?
- And now we must all do what we can
- Sure
They both paused to drink a slug of their Coronas.
- Anyway what’s with you?
- With me?
- Yes you
There was another brief pause whilst their waiter took their food order.
- Well I guess it is all getting a bit much fro me… Clients is one thing, friends another… With clients I have a professional role and can look after myself… but Frankie and Claudia …well it does me in
- Hmm
- Yeah
- I heard you were there for 36 hours at his bedside
- Yes
- Perhaps you better come to mine tonight?
- Yes I’d like that
They clinked their beer bottles to acknowledge this agreement.

Before heading off to Martha’s place they decided to go dancing at battleship Potemkin a new nitespot that had opened up in the student area of Withington. It had massive photos of Russian sailors and ships plastered on its walls and did a regular 80s retro night on Wednesdays. Paul loved to dance to the music of his childhood and adolescence – Pet Shops Boys, OMD, Culture Club etc. Dancing for Paul was sometimes akin to a mystical experience, even without drugs or alcohol. He wasn’t always good to watch, indeed at first he would be dancing out his tensions but later as his body relaxed his dancing became more fluid and graceful. He would then feel like he could dance all night without effort which he sometimes did. Many was the time that eh had danced until a club had closed at 2, 4 or 6 am.
It was not easy to be Paul’s dance partner but Martha was used to him and music had a somewhat similar meaning to her, if less intense. And dancing was part of what they did together. And they sparked each other’s energy and movements. After such dancing it was natural to end up in bed together. Indeed this was how their relationship had begun.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Mystic detective (18)

Mickey was waiting for Paul in Fuel, nursing a coffee and a black eye. Not a recent one, it was a lovely shade of yellow and purple. So presumably he had not had a run in with Samantha who was serving behind the counter that day. Unlike most of the Fuel staff Samantha was well spoken and pleasant without much obvious attitude. However, Paul had witnessed her dealing very effectively with a rather overly familiar male visitor.
- Hi Mickey, been in the wars?
- No, not a domestic, just some drunken idiot at Piccadilly gardens last Saturday night. And I wasn’t even on duty at the time!
Samantha brought Paul’s cappuccino and veggie breakfast over and served him with a smile. Her smile lit up her face and made Paul feel good inside. Mickey waited until she left
- She smiled!
- Must be my charm and charisma!
- Charisma my arse!
They laughed and Paul began eating with relish.
- So mystic what can I do for you?
- What’s the word on the street about OM?
- Thieving load of buggers – pardon my French –worse than Man U and that’s saying something
- Any evidence?
- Nothing that will stand up just yet
- Ah so you are after them
Mickey glanced around the room checking whether they could possibly be overheard,
- We do have them under surveillance
- Oh
- Yeah for immigration fraud for starters
- I don’t want to queer your pitch but I have a client to find whose gone missing
- OK but keep me posted and stay out of harm’s way
- I am thinking of visiting them in California
- OM in California? (Paul nodded) If you do go speak to me again before you do and I’ll put you in touch with our opposite numbers – FBI – over there in Santa Barbara.

Soon after Mickey left Apple Mac came into Fuel. Apple Mac – real name Thomas Macintyre was probably the geekiest of the cyber regulars who hang out at Fuel – hence his nickname. He was tall and pretty thin and pretty too in a rather rough and ready way. He was wearing his habitual uniform of black jeans, black T shirt and a black leather jacket all of which had seen better days. He had black curly rather lank hair and black Buddy Holly style glasses although he wouldn’t have known it.
Paul had texted Apple to dig out what eh could find on OM by ‘fair means and foul’ and had arranged to meet him at Fuel that morning
- Hi Apple
- N’ Paul
- What have you got for me?
Apple passed over some printed sheets – a mixture of web pages and plain text.
- Headlines?
Paul noticed once again how with Apple his own conversation style became rather brief and monosyllabic and he wondered if Apple had this same effect on everyone he encountered.
- They are a scam (Paul nodded). They move people around… take a cut from their earnings… they supply their false documents… keep a hold on them permanently
- Anything else?
- Money laundering…. Maybe drug dealing… but small scale mostly Chinese
- Drugs or people?
- Both
- Spying?
- Anything for money
- Whose behind them?
- Not sure
- Guess?
- Triads… mafia
- Thanks
- Be very careful… website had a cyber lock and booby traps… it would be hard not to be detected
- You weren’t?
Apple shrugged his shoulders contemptuously.
- Of course… What do I owe you?
- The usual… plus
- Plus?
- Full veggie breakfast.
Paul smiled and signalled over to Samantha. Apple was already keying into his notepad. Paul paid Samantha, smiled and left.
Apple’s information matched Mickey’s and more and it fitted Paul’s growing sense of what OM was about. There were still too many unanswered questions and Paul was not that sure he wanted to get hat involved. Frankie was on the mend, Claudia was safe in rehab for the moment and only Percy Hampton, the husband of his client, remained in OM’s clutches.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Mystic detective(17)

It was snowing, a rare sight in the centre of Manchester. It was coming down heavily and sticking. It meant business or rather chaos for business, schools, everyday life. Paul loved the snow, for not only did it give him chance to have a snowball fight with Catherine and a chance to relive his childhood but also he kind of enjoyed the dislocation it caused. Neighbours actually spoke to one another, helped one another, pushed each other’s cars and shopped for the old people. Strangers spoke to one another on the streets. Paul fantasised about the government creating such a crisis once in a while merely to foster community spirit, cohesion and development.
Now that Frankie was out of danger Paul was determined to get to the bottom of mystery that was OM and in so doing hopefully find out the whereabouts of the missing person Percy Hampton. But first he had to call on Claudia. Claudia was in rehab.
It was rather a drab looking large detached house from the outside, set back from the main road in a not quite fashionable part of South Manchester. The garden lawn was rather bald and forlorn but inside the house was warm and cheerful run by young cheerful staff. Claudia’s bedsit room on the first floor was neat if rather bare.
Claudia sat huddled, in an old armchair, in an almost foetal position with her hands clasped around her knees. She looked tired and drawn, thinner than Paul remembered and her hair seemed lifeless and certainly in need of a wash. The left hand lens of her glasses was cracked. She asked Paul for a fag but he shook his head
- Don’t smoke
- Oh
There was a pause.
- How’s Frankie?
- Not so bad
- He wont let me visit him
- I know
- I know I messed him about… OM and stuff…but I do love him, I do care for him
- Yeah?
- Yes. He’s such a good man
Claudia began sobbing. Paul felt a bit awkward and made no move and said no words to comfort her.
- I’ve stopped
- Yeah
- Yeah, ever since Frankie… (She swallowed hard) … ever since (Paul nodded) It’s been hell… but I deserved it
- What will you do?
- Stay here fro a while… they are great … don’t know after that… might go back to college… want to stay around here… want to make up with Frankie
- Give him time
- Yeah, well I‘ve got plenty of that
There was a pause.
- Can you tell me anything about OM?
Claudia tensed up,
- What do you want to know?
- How do they do it?
- How?
- Yes how?
- Drugs…. Chinese herbs… They kind of make you hypnotised (Paul nodded)… that’s the secret of Level One.
- So what for?
- Oh money… it’s all a big scam
- Is that all?
- Well there’s a rumour that they sell secrets tot eh yanks or the Chinese or both but who knows… who knows what happens on the other levels.
- Hmm
- What will you do?
Paul was reluctant to reveal his plans to Claudia
- Not sure yet
- Oh
- I need to head off…. You got everything you need?
- Sure, I’m a survivor, believe it or not
- So’s Frankie, it’s all that Welsh and Italian blood
- Mine as well!
- Of course
Paul put a twenty pound note on the bed side table
- Just in case… say it’s money for background information on OM
- Thanks
Paul nodded.
- Give my love to Frankie
- Will do
Paul left, breathed a sigh of relief was it? And set of for Fuel for a late brunch and hoping to meet Mickey.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Mystic detective(16)

Paul stared out of the window. He stars were out and the planet Jupiter was bright in the Eastern sky on an early wintry evening. As a boy Paul had been keen on Astronomy, had wanted to become an Astronomer when he grew up, curiously not an Astronaut but an Astronomer. Life was simpler as a boy, days seemed endless and school holidays lasted a lifetime. His father had taught him to spot the stars, to find his way across the night sky, to feel a sense of awe at such wondrous creation and Paul felt it to this day. It was one brief area in which he and his dad had been able to meet.
But these memories of his childhood and of his dad made it even harder to accept the bruised body of his good friend Frankie that lay before him. Despite the best efforts of Keith the vicar Frankie had reached rock bottom and had thrown himself under a train. It was an awful way to go ‘Why Frankie why?’
Claudia was beside herself with grief and her doctor had given her a large dose of tranquillisers to calm her down and she sat staring at the wall, out of the window, anything to avoid looking at Frankie’s body.
Frankie was not in fact dead, or at least not yet. He was in a coma and on life support, tubes everywhere and fresh bruises from where the tubes had been inserted alongside the slightly older bruises from his encounter with the train. The next 48 hours would be critical. Either he turned a corner and became the long hard slog back to some kind of health or…
If prayers could work he would certainly pull through. His maternal Welsh chapel goers were on his case and were his paternal Italian catholic relatives. And Keith’s prayer group were already on the case too.
Paul felt useless sat at his friend’s bedside, holding his hand, being with him, not praying as such or certainly not actively but deeply being with him. He could do no other. Time past as did endless cups of rather tasteless hospital canteen or machine coffee. Night came and went. Paul was determined to see his vigil through – one way or another.
It was early morning 36 hours on, with Paul half asleep in a light doze, when Frankie’s eyes flickered and opened.
- Paul
- Paul
- Oh Frankie….why?
- Why
- Why?
- All too much… all too much … feel like hell … really sorry
Frankie groaned and closed his eyes. Paul wept.