Battle stars

June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If I seem a tad maudlin, it’s because I’m recording unpleasant vignettes with a view to putting them in their place via EMDR treatment, which starts next week.

The ultimate object of this game is to ‘normalise’ childhood sexual abuse memories. But let’s start with something a little lighter …

I was so taken with Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield that I bought the 12-inch single.

On hearing me play it in the lounge room, dad informed me that:

  1. Love was not a battlefield (indeed, far from it).
  2. The lyrics were therefore stupid.
  3. The song thus had no merit.

I was disappointed at this assessment.

I had enthusiastically embraced his music collection.

From Bach, Oompah and Zorba to Nina Mouskouri, the Red Army Choir and Scottish Pipes, I thought I might have been a colleague. But I was merely an acolyte.

On reflection, dad’s perspective made sense.

When mum’s first husband died, dad rescued her (and her two boys) from a 1960s social and fiscal scrapheap.

She was thus forever in his debt.

He used to boast that, despite their long marriage, they’d never had an argument.

This was also likely true, as Mum never dared to say boo to him.

It took her ten years of faint, nuanced suggestion to replace our frayed carpet.

And almost as long to add a humble Vergola to our crumbling terrace.

Not really battlefield stuff.

In contrast, Mum said she quite liked Love Action by The Human League.

This was handy, as I played it until the groove nearly went through to the other side.

After her death, dad announced that he’d, ‘Loved mum but never been in love with her’.

I excused myself to punch out one of the five slatted window panes which, for almost half a century, had sat high in our toilet wall.

It was difficult to eat after that.

 

Advertisements

Bench pressed

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

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.


Dog gone

September 18, 2016 at 9:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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.

 

Save

My father’s war

April 25, 2015 at 8:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Not my dad. See Chris' comment below.

Not my dad. See Chris’ comment below.

In 1939, my dad was a kid in The Netherlands, just a few clicks west of the German border.

World War II had a profound effect on his  life – and mine.

Unlike many combatants, dad related his war stories often.

Probably better out than in.

At the start, dad chatted to Axis soldiers invading.

At the end, his house hosted Allied soldiers liberating.

One of them accidentally fired his rifle through an upstairs bed containing three of my young (lucky) uncles.

In between, dad saw a Lancaster bomber flying low – ablaze from nose to tail.

A Messerschmidt fighter out of fuel – gliding, gliding, gliding – only to crash in a local quarry.

During an air raid, a German solider snatched dad to the safety of a slit trench.

A shrapnel fragment sliced the head off a neighbour’s prize rooster.

Ravenous from rationing, dad once approached a group of soldiers boiling something in a cauldron.

On their invitation, he peered in … to see a cow’s head leering up at him.

Such stories, and more.

At war’s end, dad’s country was shattered; his prospects very poor.

He wanted to escape to Canada, but Australia was offered instead.

He arrived, built a new life, and helped give me mine.

Boat people.

Our house was full of books about Hitler and the war.

Dad seemed obsessed with the subject, and it rubbed off on me.

I once asked why he read and watched so many things about such a dreadful time.

He said he was still trying to understand how and why it all happened.

Now I’ve read every book and watched every film and documentary too.

And I don’t get it either.

Save

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.