Haz bean

August 16, 2017 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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My counsellor wants to demonstrate what we’re doing.

She fetches a cup, a plate, and a jar of coffee beans.

‘Smell these! Wonderful, isn’t it?’

It is.

She puts the plate on a low table.

And the cup on the plate.

‘This is the child’s mind.’

She pours beans into the cup.

‘When trauma occurs, the young mind can’t take it all in.’

Beans spill onto the plate.

‘When the brain is full, additional information is forced to go elsewhere.’

Beans skitter across the table.

Bounce onto the floor.

‘Each of these beans is a part of the child’s mind. Split off, but containing valuable information. Our task is to bring these back to the main brain.’

I get it.

I go home.

My wife asks how I went.

I want to show her.

We have no coffee beans, so I cast around for a substitute.

Corks.

I need a bigger cup and a bigger plate.

I’m faintly surprised I have more than enough corks with which to demonstrate.

I pour them and tell the tale.

They’re a lot bouncier than beans.

One launches off the kitchen bench.

It’s immediately snatched by our Jack Russell terrier, who capers off with it down the hall.

My wife gets the idea.

Next time, I tell the counsellor what happened.

She tries to stifle her laughter.

I assure her it’s OK.

All my medicos laugh.

When she regains her composure, she says that a dog running off with a cork is actually an excellent metaphor for a dissociated part.

I say I’m glad,

and that I greatly look forward to getting all my bits back.

We return to our work.

 

Pic by Roger Karlsson.


To keep me in coffee, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll toast your health.


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Steele-eyed span

June 24, 2017 at 10:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Year 5 or 6, there occurred one of the most corrosive incidents of my life.

I was in an experimental ‘open area’ – far removed from standard school rooms.

Several classes occupied a common ‘free-range’ space and we were given phenomenal liberty to learn as we pleased.

One day, a group of teaching students came to marvel at our set-up.

They wandered among knots of kids who were very much doing their own thing.

My thing at the time was cubits: small plastic cubes that connected in a kind of low-tech fischertecknic/LEGO way.

I could play with them alone for hours – and even took them home.

Yet I didn’t realise their educative value.

An earnest student teacher quizzed me about my model making, then offered to show me how the cubes could be used to grasp mathematics.

I wasn’t keen, but onlookers had gathered, so the student teacher went ahead.

He explained that 1 cube could be joined to 9 others to make a line of 10. He then joined 10 lines of 10 to make a plane of 100. For 3 x bonus points, he then showed how 10 planes could be assembled to make a cube of 1000.

Unfortunately, he had lost me at 5.

It wasn’t his fault. Looking back, I certainly wouldn’t have tried to engage a twitchy loner with autism.

After considerable effort, his enthusiasm finally waned as he realised I just wasn’t going to get it.

By this time, I was completely overstimulated by the exercise and freaked out by the observers.

I stumbled away muttering, ‘One times ten times ten times one times ten times … etc.’

That could have been the end of it, but Mrs Steele stepped in.

Having watched the botched interaction, she was livid I’d disrespected our guest.

She pursued me, span me round, knelt down and hissed at my face:

‘Paul Hassing:- You. Are. Miserable!!!’

I looked at her cold eyes, iron hair and lined (now frighteningly compressed) lips.

Her words shot straight into my heart.

Where they remain to this day.

When her fingers finally unclenched from my arm, I tottered off in a different direction, this time muttering, ‘I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable.’

And, after several 100 repetitions,

I believed it.

At my session last week, a new counsellor suggested a link between this experience and my childhood sexual abuse.

No-one has posited this before, but the years roughly match.

The counsellor said abused children often act up in class, drawing teacher ire.

And while I don’t think I was misbehaving per se, I feel her theory could have

merit.

It’ll be fascinating to see if EMDR therapy can finally draw this sword from my soul.

Thank you for reading.

Here is some suitably sad music to play us out.


To keep this tale fresh and strong, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll be filled with thanks.


 

 

 

 

 

Kebub

January 15, 2017 at 7:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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This is my first memory (so far) so feel free to skip it.

I’m lying on my back in a small bedroom in suburban Melbourne.

Beneath me the white, relatively rough toweling of a many-times-washed nappy.

Not one of today’s supermarket disposables.

An old, analogue version.

The type that began square and was somehow folded to approximate an infant’s pelvis.

With wrapping done, there remained the task of fastening.

For this there were enormous (to me) ‘safety’ pins – likely made in England.

Long, strong and sharp: to penetrate the many folds.

The ‘safety’ bit was a (baby blue) metal cap that slid over the workings once each pin was in place.

I don’t recall this device malfunctioning, but I feared it doing so.

I do recall strong fingers simultaneously holding a stacked fabric corner and striving to penetrate all layers without ‘overshooting’.

I remember worrying that it may be tricky to arrest a pin’s progress into my flesh should it pass through warp and weft with unexpected alacrity or ease.

I also recall two types of strong fingers wielding these fasteners.

This may be a manufactured memory.

Nor, of course, did I possess any descriptors.

The first type of strength was my mother’s.

Skilled. Determined. Busy. Efficient.

The second type was my father’s.

Coarse. Hurried. Annoyed. Not to be bested.

I feared both kinds of force – lest I be pinned to the bed.

But the first kind, less so.

I was thus much relieved when the ultimate pin withdrew,

freeing me for new

(though not always exciting)

experiences.

Bee spoke

December 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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When I was a kid, I sang Silent Night differently to most.

I thought the line was:

Sleep in, heavenly bees.

(Note the early regard for punctuation.)

Bees are a paragon of industry.

Naturally (I figured) there’d have to be at least one etherial species.

And after a year’s hard work, it seemed reasonable that they’d get to rest on xmas day.

Indeed, who needs honey with so much other food laid on by front-end loader?

My faux lyric made arguably more sense than ‘yon virgin mother’.

And so I rolled with it for several seasons.

The repeated line, especially, seemed positively soporific.

Sleee-eeep in, hea-ven-leeey, beeeeeesszzzzzz.

Try it next time you’re at carols by candlelight.

I promise no-one will notice.

You might just get a warm fuzzy.

Or even

catch

a

buzz.

Bench pressed

October 9, 2016 at 9:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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acd8f5bf5f5fa2b13618aee40f4fb26d

I was very, very, very sad.

I bought some beer and resolved to reflect quietly on life, in a park of my youth, near the home of my family, who are now all dead.

It was twilight.

I approached the park carefully,  so as not to startle anyone else who might be reflecting.

I ended up startling two people.

The first was myself.

I wasn’t alone.

The second person was a young man doing severe-looking, crunch-type sit-ups on the park’s bench.

I immediately apologised, thinking his six-pack was as far from mine as one could possibly get.

The man – way less than half my age – said nothing.

I said, ‘Sorry, Mate; I was here 40 years ago. And I was just … coming back.’

As if that meant anything.

As if it would help.

He continued to say nothing, and gave no indication that my need for the bench transcended his.

I retreated (as is my way) and stumbled into the gloom – apologising all the while.

In the process, I dropped my glasses.

They say you can never go back.

I can tell you it’s true.

Metaphorically and physically.

The only way is

forward.

The trick is

to find the right

path.

Further listening: https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pe0D49kOW3?play=true

Pic by unknown but extremely keen to give credit.


If you found this post interesting or useful, you may wish to:

Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


Killing time

September 26, 2016 at 10:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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park-of-death_0001

Are you sitting comfortably?

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, child’s play was a serious matter.

At our disposal were instruments of death that required bravery and mastery.

Herewith a quick guide.

Pictured above is The Board: a device comprising a heavy wooden beam, bolted onto industrial piping, and covered in thick black grease.

For the uninitiated, it swung gently to and fro.

But for the seasoned practitioner, it could slice a careless cranium clean through.

park-of-death_0002

Warming up. (Victim cropped from right to retain G rating.)

The trick was to build momentum. Then keep going.

With practice, The Board could be swung high enough to smash into the supporting crossbar such that the entire apparatus shook and bellowed in a terrifyingly satisfying manner.

But before mounting this Jagganatha, kids had to be progressively desensitised to its destructive force.

park-of-death_0005

Farewell to arms.

Phase One comprised The Slide.

Having ascended to a height exceeding that attainable around the home, a (usually male) candidate was required to write his will, then cast it to the four winds to show contempt for Fate.

He was then at liberty to brave the mud, puddles, gravel, baked earth, broken glass, dog poo, dust or nails – depending upon the season and the perversions of other park users.

Not for us the sanctuary of chip bark or the soft, reconstituted rubber landings of today’s helicoptered offspring.

Life was elemental. Its lessons elementary.

park-of-death_0006

Descent to the unknown.

With caution spurned and Death scorned, the candidate embraced the road to ruin.

Those who survived their test progressed to Phase Two.

park-of-death_0003

A tentative beginning …

Moving from a passive to an active device understandably startled many.

In one’s hands, rugged chains of iron.

At one’s feet, enough heavy metal to brain a bison.

These, combined with speed, left candidates in no doubt as to where they were headed.

Like The Board, The Swing had lethal potential.

Progressive goals were to:

  1. Swing.
  2. Swing and jump off.
  3. Swing higher and jump off.
  4. Swing to the apogee.
  5. Swing to the apogee and jump off.

The Swing also had an ultimate goal which, in hindsight, was inherently Sisyphean.

This goal was to swing so high that the pilot described a full circle and returned to Earth – with chains shortened by the circumference of the device’s crossbar.

Contemplating the dispatch of his first victim, the candidate’s demeanour hardens with devoted application.

I never achieved The Swing’s ultimate goal.

Nor did I see it done.

But at every park, someone knew someone who knew someone who’d done it.

And it was never achieved without multiple broken bones.

Happily, despite my incomplete preparation, I graduated to The Board.

Only to find that, a few years later, all Boards disappeared.

At first, their empty frames stood in mute protest at an approaching age of innocence.

Next, they were converted to wholly unsatisfying monkey bars – replete with safety mats.

Then they disappeared completely, along with heavy hardwood see-saws and the always-rare three-storey iron rocket ship (with its improbable steering wheel at the top).

Instead, brightly coloured rocking animals sprang from the ground.

And The Swing?

Replaced by aerated rubber seats, so soft they couldn’t crack an egg.

Or worse, inverted car tires.

Or even worse, bespoke baby seats – with safety belts.

It’s scant wonder to me that today’s coddled, aseptic parks attract few children.

They’re all at home – playing violent games in cyberspace and learning nothing of the real world just outside.

I suppose one could argue that they’re safer.

For now.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

News FLASH! (Ah-ahhh, saviour of the universe.)

One of my oldest and dearest friends just submitted the following words and images:

Hi Paul. Reading your last post about children’s play equipment and your reference to a 3 storey rocket inspired me to share these pictures from Benalla that my two boys have had the joy to climb on a number of occasions.  Keep on writing. Very best regards, David.

benalla-rocket-20130410-00111

The dream lives! And is that a steering wheel I spy?

benalla-rocket-tom

On inspection, the rocket could be said to have four stages, not three. I shall consult Elon Musk.

Thank you, David, for your wonderful, colourful bookend. I think it’s bulk ace in the extreme!

Kindest regards, as always,

P.


If you found this content useful or entertaining, you may wish to:

Even a buck or three will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.


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Dog gone

September 18, 2016 at 9:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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slide-001-young-paul-with-basil-dog-by-alder-tree

In harm’s way.

 

In remembering my dead father, one incident continues to trouble me daily.

I hope that writing it down will free me from it.

Note that I use the lower-case ‘dad’ to try to take the sting out.

Basil was our first (and last) dog.

dad described Basil as a ‘Heinz’ (i.e. a mongrel comprising 57 varieties).

I seem to recall Basil was a stray who simply hung around long enough to be admitted to our yard.

I have few memories of Basil other than this:

dad was proud of his garden and lawn.

He didn’t want holes in either.

Basil, being a dog, had other ideas.

But no idea of Dutch discipline.

When Basil dug his third hole, dad became suddenly apoplectic.

He strode to the tool shed and returned with a three-foot (90 cm) length of two-inch (52 mm) orange plastic pipe.

It was so thick, it barely bent.

dad then grabbed Basil by the ears, hoisted him aloft and beat the shit out of him.

I sat aghast near the Alder tree (pictured in the slide).

Basil’s screams still resound, half a century on.

The scene, dark against the summer sun, burnt into my brain.

I felt terror, then.

As did Basil.

I believe he left us soon after.

Hopefully of his own volition.

And under his own steam.

Henceforth, dad had only to look at me to strike fear and avert wrongdoing.

Mum summed up his behaviour several times over the decades as,

‘He gets wild sometimes … ‘

Being passive aggressive myself, I know about bottling things till they explode.

But I used to vent on ‘inanimates’.

Or myself.

And I’ve sought a lot of help.

Sometimes, I find myself praying to no-one in particular

that mum’s blood flows stronger

and I am not

my father’s

son.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

 

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Dollies wax

June 26, 2016 at 8:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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193709NN DAVY Barbara Playing with dolls

Once upon a

time,

In 1937,

A young teen played with

dolls.

And none of them were

bratz.

 

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Footy legend

May 2, 2016 at 7:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Footy002

That empty feeling.

In 1971, when I was six, my parents went on holiday to Fiji.

Apparently, our church had a network of families that looked after each other’s children (I assume, in time of crisis).

I was thus deposited for two weeks, in a strange house, with a clan I’d never met.

They were nice enough people, but I wasn’t a happy camper.

It was an Australian Rules Football family.

The boys were early teens – a chronic chasm between us.

They were interested in nothing but footy.

My research suggests they went on to do very large things in the code.

The intense irony, however, is that my father despised footy.

Each time a team took the field, he loudly articulated his fervent wish that all players would sustain excruciating injuries and die.

I’d had years of this indoctrination.

Now, on my dad’s whim, I was accompanying future AFL premier players to endless practice sessions on cold, windswept ovals.

As I’d been bookish from the start, this was not a great match.

Each morning, Mrs Footy would impress on me her cure-all: a large mug of boiling water.

Meanwhile, Radio 3XY played Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool over and over – fixing this tale in time.

I was so unhappy, I couldn’t sleep.

I stood in the hall, which featured garish green arboreal wallpaper.

I wept for my absent parents, home, possessions and bed.

After some time, Mrs Footy heard me and rose to see what was wrong.

We were not confidantes.

And my behaviour was as un-footy as one could get.

So despite her efforts, I remained upset in the gloom.

The fortnight dragged. The house, to my best recollection, was book free.

Fourteen hot waters and 56 Eagle Rocks later, my parents collected me.

On arriving home, my mother gave me a Fiji T-shirt and a horse of woven straw.

She also gave me a book.

Even better, it was part of the Enid Blyton series I’d been avidly collecting.

The Folk of the Faraway Tree.

I was stunned. Books were BIG gifts, reserved for very special occasions.

Why then, already in receipt of Pacific largesse, would I also be given a book?

It turned out that my dear mother, foreseeing a poor degree of fit with the host family, had given Mrs Footy not one book, but two – replete with maternal messages of love and support.

These were intended to comfort me at trying times – such as crying at night, among strangers, in a distant, forest-themed scene.

Mrs Footy, in the immense excitement of footy, hot water and Eagle Rock, had forgotten all about these precious (possibly unfamiliar) items until my parents returned.

I got the second book, Adventures of the Wishing-Chair, on my next very special occasion.

(My crisis over, Mum reverted to her customary thrift.)

The Footy family’s name echoes in our media to this day.

And while I’m not completely sure that’s who I stayed with,

the stats back me up.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

Blood brother

April 25, 2016 at 4:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Andy Birth

I had two half brothers – the children of my mother and her first husband, Len.

Apparently, Mum had been deeply in love and extraordinarily happy with Len.

Photo albums, which have only just come to light, attest to this.

Way too early, Len got cancer of the everything and died, leaving Mum bereft and in dire financial straits.

When Mum remarried, Len was almost never mentioned – for fear of offending her second husband, Wim.

So this account is not reliable.

I used to tell people that, ‘two half brothers make a whole one’.

I don’t know why; I was probably trying to sound clever.

Brother David was a troubled and terrifying figure.

Brother Andrew, the elder, less so.

I idolised them both and would sneak into their bedroom at night and lie on the thin floor rug.

Just to occupy the same space.

When Andrew was old enough to be in a band, he had a bass guitar.

I recall this due to the fat strings and four large tuning keys – one of which I was soon to be intimately acquainted with.

One Saturday morning, Andrew had spent much time tuning the guitar.

Wishing to  have a shower, he warned me in explicit terms not to touch the instrument in his absence.

As soon as I heard the water running, I ran my hands over the glossy red surface and plucked at the strings.

Then I experimented with the effect of the tuning keys upon them.

By the time I was finished, I had no hope of returning the guitar to its former state.

At this moment, Andrew re-entered the room.

He was so enraged at my disobedience that he picked up the guitar and hit me on the head with it – tuning keys first.

The result surprised us both. One of the keys must have severed a particularly vascular part of my scalp, as blood began gushing freely.

Against my snow-white hair, the effect was dramatic to say the least.

I didn’t feel much pain, but I do remember Andrew’s blind panic.

Our mother and my father were due to return to the family home soon.

As I was something of a ‘golden child’, Andrew knew that Wim’s wrath would be swift and complete.

So he tried to cut a deal with me.

First, he stemmed the blood with Bandaids.

Next he ‘dinked’ me on his bike around the block.

Then he gave me 20 cents. A week’s pocket money in those days.

Finally, he implored me at length not to ‘dob’ on him.

I agreed.

Yet when my parents arrived home, the very first thing I said was, ‘Andrew hit me with his guitar’.

45 years later, I still don’t know why I dropped him in the shit.

I think, perhaps, that I was a little shit.

The guitar went on to a varied yet tepid career at my primary school.

Andrew spent four years dying agonisingly of motor neurone disease before reaching 60.

This is the first time I’ve written about him.

As it’s currently 4:35 am, I don’t think it’ll be the last.


If you found this content useful or entertaining, you may wish to:

Even a buck or three will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.


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