These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

My mother and the Queen

This is a story of similarities and differences.  My mother was born in 1926, the same year as Queen Elizabeth II. If my mother had lived longer than her 49 years I wonder what she would have been doing this year, the year that Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Diamond Jubilee of her reign.

These two people were born in the same year but many miles apart in different countries. Even when my mother migrated to England in the late 1950s their lives were already starkly different, despite the fact that they had been born just 3 months apart. At the time of travelling my mother, Doris Morgan, was already mother to my elder siblings – there were six small people who looked at this woman (the original DM) as the queen of their world. The other three of us would be born within five years. We would join our other brothers and sister in lifelong adoration of this magnificent woman.

Whilst my mother was settling into her position of mother and wife in the harsh English countryside, the Queen was settling into her first decade as the reigning monarch of the country and Commonwealth. The Queen was then mother to two children. They were raised differently to my family. Although mummy knew lots about the Queen, I’m almost certain that the Queen knew nothing about my mum. That doesn’t matter right now because the people who relied on mummy knew enough about her to feel safe in her protection. In a way we became like citizens of the kingdom of Doris Morgan: we were safe in her care. Her reach of benevolence did not end when her life ended, it has continued to this very day. Mummy’s love deserves celebrating and although she will never celebrate any diamond anniversary herself I am holding my own remembrance celebration for her this year.


I admire the Queen because she has stayed in the same ‘job’ for 60 years – that takes commitment to duty. My mother was so committed to her duty as a parent that she extended her roles to include working three jobs at the same time, raising her children – almost single-handed – and looking after a house and husband that was not always the most gentle man in the world. Despite these pressures Mummy still had desire to shepherd us all in the right and narrow way. She taught us to love each other despite our differences, she taught us to follow our dreams and be independent, and she taught us that it’s wonderful to tend roses when the rest of the garden is purely functional: you see, the roses showed me that it’s necessary to have spots of beauty in your life that bring you pleasure. I still do this and I will continue to make and enjoy these moments as long as I can. Additionally Mummy showed me that when times are hard you can make a way through it if you are focussed enough on your dream. This is a legacy I will remember, forever.

As I think of the days when I hugged my mother on return from school and wondered why she was wearing an anorak in the house, and why it crunched, I will remember that she smiled as she told me that wearing layers of newspaper under your clothes helped to keep you warm and it was a good thing to do. I don’t think the Queen ever had to do that. Mummy made even the seemingly bad things into a positive learning experience: that took courage and insight.

They say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, my mother – out of necessity – made my young life simple and happy. She didn’t have to do that, but that is the enduring legacy that I carry with me today as I celebrate the year the queen of my life was born and the diamond legacy she has left for me all these years later.

I will always remember that there is a hierarchy to everything – even life. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Untitled 4 - Poetry by Marjorie H Morgan


the thought of your frame
traps my voice
between my throat and heart
post-haste horses drawing carts
rays glistening feeling moist
involuntarily forming your name

lost control and endless cravings
emotions now unhooked
the crypt of loneliness is vacant
love returns a stranger truant
future friendship firmly booked
pleasure full – no longer shavings

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Untitled 3 - Poetry by Marjorie H Morgan


When I miss you near
I go to that place
inside of my heart
that you made so dear
with your touch of grace
then we’re no longer apart

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Is an idea ...? - Thoughts by Marjorie H Morgan


Is an idea
ever
the birth of
an innocent thought?

Is the formation
of ‘fact’
simply
the repetitive ordering of occurrences?

Is the creation
of a disaster
only
the unplanned disorganisation
of multiple situations
or
is it all
the precise concise invention
of imagination?

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dreaming - Poetry by Marjorie H Morgan


Dreaming

Where do you go to
when you eyes
are open
but closed to all around?

Where do you go to
when it’s busy
about you
but you hear not a sound?

Where do you go to
when the pressure is heavy
or the pleasure is full?

Where,
oh where,
do you go to
that you have to go alone?

I go, my dear, to my dreams –
my dreams are places
you cannot go,
things I dare or cannot show,
my dreams are long forgotten faces,
my dreams are big, full, small, empty
spaces.

I go, my dear, to my dreams.

I go to my place of safety
when I’ve gone
without leaving.

I go, my dear, to my dreams.

(1995)

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Compare and contrast


It’s currently examination time in so many places around the world and this form of statement (compare and contrast) often arises at the end of set questions.

I will do the same here. I will set out a scenario and then ask you to compare and contrast the information given. The conclusions that you reach may not give you a certificate with any local examination board but it will give you enlightenment about an important issue that is facing current society.

Imagine the following scene:

DM and I are sitting in the main service at our church – called Divine Service. We left feeling no divine sense whatsoever, but I’ll continue and you will see for yourself why I have started off this scene with such a seemingly negative positional statement.

As we sit there, the hymns are sung, prayers are shared and then the main speaker – a visiting lay preacher – begins to share his message of ‘divine’ inspiration. It did not take long for me to realise where he was heading.

Within moments he had set out his stall. He was waving a flag of no compromise. Bad was bad and good was good. His opinion on people and things that he disagreed with was as clear as crystal. Some people use complicated metaphors and similes to disguise their meanings, not so with this man: he went straight for the throat. He spoke without apology and listed all the people he thought –nay, knew – in his opinion, to be damned.

He gave his reasons as he went on.

The list included Goths, fashion designers, gays, women who wore trousers, men who wore tight clothing (designed by ‘those effeminate fashion designers’), jewellery wearers, gospel musicians and many, many more.

Just remembering the sermon makes me sad. But I digress. I should hold my opinions on this ‘man of God’ and let you decide. The question that I am asking is, “Are churches and Christians that attend them guilty of false advertising?” What message are they sending out to the world?  How are they influencing society?

Churches and Christians (insert a building type and religious creed of your choice here: e.g. Mosque and Muslims or Synagogue and Jews – you get the picture I’m sure ...) promote a doctrine of love and welcome to all. If there was an advertising campaign what would it say? (For extra bonus points in this question you may produce a promotional flyer for the church that you know best.)

Back to the main scenario. The preacher caught my attention when he first started to lay in to Goths because of their clothing and musical choices. He was not, however, discriminatory in his musical annihilation – gospel musicians also came under fire for the way he deemed their music not to be sacred enough. There were murmurs of appreciation from the congregation as he continued his tirade. As the people warmed to him his voice rose and dropped as he carried them along with him on his crusade. Everybody was paying rapt attention. There were comfortable smiles on many faces as they nodded in agreement. The majority of people were cooperating with this man as he spoke.

Later DM said to me, “It’s strange, but I listen more intently to the bad sermons than I do to the good ones.” A few days later DM also noted that “That preacher was full of hatred, where was the love? He said you and me are going to be damned to hell because we don’t fit in with him.” That was sad to hear.

My worst problem was that I had chosen to take DM to that place. I had chosen to stay once the hateful vitriol had started. I had chosen not to say anything to him afterwards. I had chosen to walk away with my mind full and my mouth empty. This was because my heart had again been broken because of my expectations of going to church. In the Bible the church is known as a gathering of people who have a relationship with God and who share that relationship of love between others who also have a similar relationship and then they, in turn, share their connection with others who do not yet have a relationship with God. At least, that’s the theory.

I knew that there wasn’t much love in many churches for a few select groups but in this instance I felt the preacher was extending the gamut of his hatred to a wider section of society: in fact, he said it himself, “I’m preaching to the converted.” He was not preaching to me. He was preaching against me, in so many ways.
DM said she was hurt for me. She was hurt for herself as well.

There were many other young (and older) minds that were being fed this information as ‘truth’ that day. How will they react to these people (to me) when they meet them (me) again?

As I drove the short distance home I concluded that that type of hatred would not be permitted in many businesses within the country. There are laws against such discriminatory behaviour. The example of Abu Hamza al-Masri came quickly to mind: currently awaiting deportation for several crimes including Public Order offences for inciting hatred with his speeches.

When I spoke with my partner after leaving church, she said that “Fundamentalist views can incite hatred towards marginalised groups and there are, of course, consequences. There is a fine line between freedom of speech and inciting hatred towards particular groups.”

This part of your examination question is do you agree or disagree with this statement? Would this be viewed any differently if the terms were racial?

This whole question carries the maximum of 100% towards your examination mark.

Please answer as briefly or in as much detail as you would like. Use the box below to submit your answers.

I will return your marks to you in the usual manner.

Now, turn over your papers and begin.

You have the rest of your life to assimilate the answers. Thank you for participating.






Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Elastic Alphabet - Poetry by Marjorie H Morgan


Elastic Alphabet

A   b   c
letters mean so much to me
spoken, written – any way
they always have something to say

personal constructs from your mind
stretched and shapen until they find
me to catch them in my head
and replay, replay, replay
each word you said

b to a to c to a
twisted sentences – mind affray
conclusions missing
but still I seek
to know how one conversation
can dominate a week

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Monday, 16 April 2012

The path of grief ...


The path of grief

... is long and winding. Or short and straight. Or both. Or neither.

My road of grief took me back to where my parents are buried. I don’t go there too often because it seems to hurt even more than when I am away with my thoughts and deep sadness. You see, although I have bundles of happiness in my days my life is still lined with grief. For over 36 years I have been almost insane with grief. There are times when the pain is searing like a slab of raw meat thrown onto hot coals.

In my family of many I know we all experienced a major loss – especially when our mother died. I know now that the grief united us and separated us from each other. I became very angry in those initial days, months and years. Anger, self-pity and spite was an integral part of my external expression of grief. I was still a child and I didn’t care much that my way of communication hurt me as much as it hurt other people. I just let it go. Or I held it in. Or I did both. Or I did neither.

Why am I talking about grief again? Does it ever go away?

I have just enjoyed a wonderful couple of weeks with my most favourite people in the world, my child and my partner. They never made me sad at all but they may have witnessed moments of my uncovered sorrow when I visited my parents’ resting place.

My child told me that I was almost unrecognisable as I stayed at the foot of the grave alone. The sadness was unzipped and covered me like a heavy blanket.

I remember some of it. I felt like a small child. I howled with uncontrollable emotion each time I went to that special spot where I last said goodbye. I sat on my haunches and rocked back and forth as the tears splashed all around me.

I felt like a discarded piece of yarn. I knew I was unravelling. I know things unravel in times of grieving.

Will I ever stop feeling this great loss? I doubt it. Some people suggest it’s time to move on after this long mourning period. Is there ever a time to move on?

It’s time to move on when you feel it’s time, not when the calendar says so.                              

My path of grief is part of my path through life. So is my path of joy, my path of happiness, my path of love. They all exist together but sometimes, just occasionally, one of them is just a bit more prominent than the other. And that’s OK.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Short Story - Cocktail by Marjorie H Morgan


Cocktail



I am a text: read me.

The writing of my life and current existence started a long time ago. Before my parents and their parents, but I will not assail you with genetics and genealogies instead I will give you the text of me in a few easy stages.

You have the power to activate and decipher me. Now. I hand you the power baton in my race through these words.

This journey to my past and present started with a thought: ‘I wonder…’ and it has not yet ended. Does wonder transcend time?
I have wondered about the past and the future. I wonder about the present, about now, this moment as you are reading yourself into my life. How does it feel to have a part of me, to own this part of me and breathe in the words I have breathed out? We are now sharing the same thread of life. You and I are connected.
What impression will these words have on your future and how can they rewrite your past understanding of yourself?
Connected.
Will we remain linked? Is attachment direct and unending?

As she mentally planned the lazy evening before her Jasmine Griffiths realised she had forgotten to get the custard for the steamed sponge pudding that she had in the freezer at home. She turned back through the doors into the supermarket and went again towards the long freezer cabinets. The smile that she created on her face was one of delightful anticipation. She had loved custard and puddings ever since she was at boarding school 15 years earlier. They were special treats then and today Jasmine needed to do something distinctive for herself. It was the last Friday in the month, and therefore monitoring day at the office supplies company where she worked, it had been an unusually busy day with only enough time for two quick cigarettes and no lunch. The apple she had taken from home in the morning had to suffice her hunger pangs throughout the day. The multiple cups of tea were the only other thing to staunch her building appetite.
But now, at 8.37pm on Friday 26th April she cheerfully strode up to the cabinet and picked up two cartons of double cream ready-to-serve custard and walked briskly to a checkout queue. Jasmine held her carrier bag loosely in her left hand but had her brown leather shoulder bag firmly pressed against her body with the zips on the inside. She had lived in the city for too long to forget about those chance pickpockets who had already relieved her of two purses and many credit cards. It was second nature to Jasmine to be cautious. She was casually observant of her immediate surroundings even when so jaded from looking at columns of figures all day. They had balanced in the end. They always did. Jasmine was good at her job and enjoyed the freedom that running the office gave her. She did, however, take her responsibility seriously. Each day ended with things in place. Order was important.

It was important what university she attended; what friends she associated with near the family home; what clubs she belonged to; what area she bought her flat in. All the finite aspects of order and correct behaviour for her family and therefore also for her. Her paternal grand-mother was a stickler for order. Tea at 4.30pm without fail every day. Whether she was alone or had company. It was always the same. Even after Grandfather Griffiths died she had carried on the tradition. Even on Sundays. The routine was passed down.
Father is a bit more flexible, Jasmine thought to herself, but he still likes to have a regime. It turns out that it is mother who has become uncompromising in her behaviour. It’s as if her life and social standing depends on the right clothes, the right theatre, and the right hairdresser. In a way it does. Jasmine smiled to herself at the thought of her mother looking through her wardrobe and choosing the right evening dress for Verdi’s Aida at the Royal Opera House the previous Saturday evening. And mother has nothing else to occupy her days but rounds of charity talks, and functions, and the afternoon bridge games, especially now that her tennis days are past. Jasmine relishes in the comfort of their familiarity as she sits waiting for the bus to transport her to her haven.

At the same time on that Friday evening, three streets away in Bond Road, Tony cursed under his breath as the future approached him in the form of a tall, blond-hair man, wearing a Walkman turned up to a level loud enough to irritate passers-by. Immediately the man appeared the whole corner of Bond Road, where it joined with Gladstone Street West was filled with the tinny screeching sound that cloaked him a violent aura. It focused its main attention on Tony’s eardrums going right into his central cortex. It was an attack of noise; like becoming someone who suffered from tinnitus. That anonymous man ran past Tony and was swallowed up by the cavernous depths of the earth. But as he passed the blond shock of hair fell into his eyes and he didn’t notice Tony stepping slowly from the shadows. The collision happened in seconds. Tony gasped as his hand flew upwards to catch his hope but instead his last bit of spliff, knocked from his hand, fell into the dank mess that hovered around the uncleaned drains. He had been trying to savour the last puff like you would save a final piece of a roast potato or slither of succulent beef and gravy on your plate towards the end of a delicious meal; the whole experience of pleasure savoured in that last mouthful. The taste to be remembered. It was the sensation he had planned to keep with him until he managed to hook up with Fat Tam at the club in two hours. Until then he had intended to ride the tubes to keep warm. There was no point in going home as he had nothing there to think about apart from the fact that Sammy had left him.
‘Damn idiot! Why you don’t look where you going?’ he shouted after the man who had not even noticed that he had collided with such desperation. Tony’s face was so contorted as he raised his fist in invisible anger that an immediate space grew around him. He received the wide berth from people he had sought for years and it felt good.
Respect received.
The anger felt by his sudden, body encompassing rage, had been dispatched via his antenna eyes. Fear is transmitted. Fear of himself. Fear is reflected from the hordes of faces around him. But Tony translates it differently. His mind tricks him. He sees only respect. Yes, nods Tony as he remounts the steps, yes.
Respect received.

Tony decided to keep that feeling as he turned back up to the road to a different, closer darkness and walked straight ahead. His special moment was gone. He had to find another.
As he mumbled to himself about the lost high of his weed and Sammy leaving him, and his squash teacher at school purposefully hitting the ball into his legs to teach him a lesson for being too quick, he felt a purple pressure sit on his neck. He did not like it.

The brightly lit signs marketing everything in one shop from clothes pegs to Greek feta cheese combined with green olives, those signs blocked his mind with the code of madness. The signs sang red songs to him. They sang of Richard Fortland, the macabre squash teacher, they sang of the blackbird he had injured with a slingshot, they sang, most loudly, of Sammy.
With hardly any discernible effort Tony walked faster than all the traffic: human and mechanical. There were people of all sizes, colours and moods suspended in bright metal boxes. Any colour as long as it’s not black. Black is not good. That is what he had always been taught. Tony threw his legs in front of him and sprang forward. Fuelled by anger. This was more than the loss of his spliff. This was his life.
The voices then started to return to their nest. To the space behind his eyes. But the purple rage only showed as red in his eyes.
8:38pm flashed from the suspended window display and slithered into his clouded mind. Too long to wait. Too long. He knew that the voices would win if he waited. Time to act quickly and quieten them. Blast the blond hair running man. He is to blame for writing this change.

With one smooth movement Tony threw off his chain-mail skin and discarded his lifelong Danaides reticulations. His mind solidified. His endless treadmill stopped the moment the spliff dropped into the lattice of drains. He shivered involuntarily as he realised.

He was free.
From his life-death.

He stepped radically to his future.


It was a feeling that made Jasmine turn and look over her right shoulder. She knew it was not the bus coming but she had the sense of red; red anger bearing down on her. There was no sound.
She felt suffocated and for the moment as she twisted her head she had to remember how to breathe. Nothing was automatic anymore. Her time closed in around her.
She made the mistake of looking at the red man twice. His eyes drew her in. They were scarlet. His clothes seemed deep burgundy but it was his scarlet eyes that mesmerised her.  This aberration did not fit in to her world of regulation and order. Not even in the margins; not on the edge of her consciousness within the cabinet labelled ‘miscellaneous’. Therefore she looked again.

There was uncertainty paralleled with admiration in her eyes. Jasmine felt herself floating between reality and illusion. Was this vision before her real? Reason told her no but wonder told her the truth was approaching her to dock in her heart. Incredulously Jasmine thought of all her pleasures and total pains combined. She longed for the touch and recoiled with horror at her desires and feelings towards this unknown entity before her.
She knew that she was ignorant. This form approaching her was not familiar, but yet it was; he was beautiful like nothing she had previously encountered. He took her breath away with his oppression and suspended her in a new identity beyond herself. Time was lost to her. She knew there was no reconciliation to the former things. They were passed away.

Jasmine told him, in the last minute of her life, that she was not ready. It was premature. This exit was not in her script and she had not given him, this strange man with blood-shot eyes and dreadlocks, she had not given him the blood to write her life story with. She tried to hold on to her breath; she tried to keep him, the red-eyed one, from taking away her expected pleasure of custard and sponge pudding in front of the rented movie, that was already 2 nights overdue. Strangely, as Jasmine saw her time slipping down on to the pavement, she thought of her library books and the petty cash key that was in her purse. Who would open the office on Monday while she was in hospital? But she didn’t stay in hospital until Monday. Her parents had moved her to the chapel of rest by Sunday evening. They had to change the locks on her flat as she never gave them keys. The police gave them the keys they retrieved from her discarded bag, but it didn’t feel right to her parents, to be going in Jasmine’s flat with her keys, the ones that she had touched each day, with the picture fob of her boyfriend Steve attached to the three lonely lumps of radiant metal that gave silent access to a recent past.

Stuart and Maria Griffiths read a difference in their daughter as they gathered fragments of Jasmine’s life as the woman who was no longer their only child. From 8:52 on that Friday evening they were no longer parents. After 29 years they had no child. They did not know this fact until 11:17 that night. They had retired to bed and the door was brutally knocked. The way a police officer with bad news always calls you to immediate attention. Three fast raps on the metal iron claw. Mrs Bailey cleaned the lion’s claw every Tuesday. Except for the next four. Every Tuesday for 7 years. Brass polish applied with a soft yellow duster then buffed to a high shine with a clean smooth cloth: a new one every week.

All routines were disturbed for weeks. For some people they were altered forever. Nothing was old again. It had all crumbled. Everything was new.
Memories changed and took on different significance. Future plans were more important or less vital depending on whether the Earl Grey tea was served at the right strength in the morning.
They had served the two police officers with tea that night. Before they went to the hospital. It was tea and biscuits all round. Although Maria Griffiths never took a sip of her tea. It sat in the Royal Albert bone china cup and went cold. The tea was still, completely motionless in the cup, but to Maria it took on the same characteristics as the continual churning in her stomach. The centrifugal force that made Jasmine look over her right shoulder now appeared to her mother in the chalice of blood before her; it drained her very colour away from the surface of her skin, parallel to Jasmine’s reactions hours before. Maria felt the chill. Stuart saw his lineage cease in the heavy mechanically rehearsed sentences of the young police officer. A liberal man became a fascist with the sound of the words ‘I’m afraid to tell you sir, your daughter is dead.’
Good people should not die. Innocent people should live long and peaceful lives. The wicked should cease to breathe early, and by any means necessary. Thus thought Stuart as he walked away from the cold white room where a transparent form of his daughter lay.
He had not cried in public since he saw his wife walking down the aisle to meet him 33 years earlier. Now the tears formed of their own accord. He would not stop them. He could not stop them if he had thought about it. They needed to wash away the red fire that had boiled up inside his heart. He was ready to kill. He was torn between rage, sorrow and love.

Maria did not need to talk for 3 months after that night. She had to learn again.
Life held nothing more for her. The social position held no power over her days. She had no child to benefit from her work. Maria stopped having tea at 4.30pm daily.

Steve was away for a rugby weekend. An away game in Bath. He had been looking forward to it. I never understood the rules, but I knew that he loved the thrill of the strong physical contact. I watched the highlights on the update programmes late at night, but just so I could show an interest. It was one of his loves. I was another.

It was the one weekend in four that he always went away with his mates. He never forgave himself though. He had left his phone in the hotel, but he could not have done anything even if he had the phone with him. By the time they went through my contacts, I was getting cold.
He really knew when he returned to his house on Sunday.  He didn’t want to know. He tried to stop them from telling him. But they spoke nonetheless.
He was due to come and spend the night with me on Sunday. But I had no more Sundays to spend. I had gone by then.
We had met at university and came together afterwards, to the mutual delight of our parents. His father was in the armed forces and my father liked the public school that Steve attended.
‘Turns out decent chaps,’ he remarked after their first meeting. I had thought no one would meet his approval, but the old ties proved me wrong. He was satisfied and left us to grow together. Mother was not convinced, but she grew to appreciate Steve’s charm over the following four years. We were comfortable with each other. That was us set for life. Reproducing our parents with a modern touch.

I have been obedient and controlled for too long. I saw the malicious thoughts in the walk of the red-eyed man as he furrowed the streets. I invited him to change my life.
The invasion was immediate. The contract made by the connecting second glance that I threw to him. I saw him pause, halfway through a step to somewhere unknown to him or me, then he turned, swivelled on his heel in mid-air and came directly at me. Smooth and fluid. His movements washed people away.  I remained sitting on the high rock peninsular that was once the no. 36 bus stop.
We were alone. Together. And still I didn’t know his name even though we had seen inside of each other. I pulled the malignancy out of him. His face stopped a finger’s width from my fixed eyes and he smiled with his tearaway teeth. I froze.
Then I smiled back. Nervously.
The next memory I have is starting to cry while releasing my tight hold on my Italian shoulder bag. I had bought it in Corso Porta Corsari, near the Lion of St Mark in Verona. It was a gift to myself to match the shoes I had just purchased. They reminded me of casual Italian beauty and style. That was my first holiday with Steve. That was two summers ago.

‘Is you I want,’ he spat poisonously, ‘is you!’
The bag lay at my right foot with the strap folded across my sensible and smart work shoe - another choice for comfort and elegance. He kicked the bag away and put his heavy light hand on my chest. He pushed me into myself. I became a stranger to myself in a moment. I was split between hatred and adoration. His power and belief invaded me. He could do anything. I wanted him to do it.
And he did. He took me out of myself and suspended me between my rational response and my prevalent existence on that water surrounded rock.
I was stripped bare, so was he. There was no external control available to either of us. We were a unit. Nothing outside of us was powerful or significant any more. There was no haste.

I wanted to journey with him. You cannot be dispassionate about passion.

My body is a palimpsest of pains, symptoms, and deep impulses, and he reads each pulse fully. I open up to him. I am activated by him; I am deciphered by him. Here. The red-eyed man has used his skills to negotiate my depths. I know it is over. The cocktail is fixed.

As I entered the unknown ritual with the red-eyed man I knew that Proust was correct. I became more substantial that in any other veiled identity as we blended beyond the conflict and I accepted my destiny.
I decided to participate in my future.

‘Jasmine,’ I whispered.
That halted his advance.
‘Don’t need to know you,’ he responded to himself inside me. He returned quickly to his astonishing assault on my heart.

‘What are you doing for the rest of your life?’ he questioned aggressively.
‘Dying,’ I concluded.

Tony blinked. He had soap in his eyes. He knew he would always remember that wild woman Jasmine even though the moment they first met was a shock. It was a moment of electric connection and eternal change for both of them. Forever.
Jasmine’s forever was only 3 minutes and 29 seconds after their lives intersected at the bus stop. Tony’s forever lasted until he was shanked in the shower at HMP Pulingdon 6 years 11 months and 23 days later. He refused to move from his spot because he was tired of running and because Jasmine never stopped looking at him from the pavement where he dropped her. Her eyes constantly asking him who gave him the power to scribe her life.

Buffer Davis told him to move.
Tony looked and did not see or hear the command as the water cascaded over his heavy hair and heart.
‘Did you ever really know anyone?’ Tony enquired suddenly in a quiet tone. ‘I mean really know someone?’ He persisted with his thoughts. They had formulated over many long moments with her heart in his hands. His eyes fixed on Buffer and there was an abrupt shuffling behind him.
‘What the …! You crazy bastard. Just move.’ Buffer took another step forwards. He was not acquainted with the art of reasoning.
Tony had served his time in relative silence. He rarely spoke to any other inmates or to the officers. He just alternately read and cried in his cell and religiously avoided association. But this moment he wanted to talk about everything he had known in those 3 minutes and 29 seconds.
‘She had peace. She was ordered. She knew and wanted my uncertainty. Why? Why did she want to change? Why did she look at me. Why did I have to know her?’
Tony was no longer sure if it was the water from the shower-head or the tears from his eyes that ran down his face. He knew that he was less naked now than when she looked at him at the bus stop. For minutes he had been walking along Bloomfield Avenue and no one had seen him. It was the way he liked it and expected it since the sound enveloped him. The people glanced at him curiously but when they locked into his aura they immediately resisted and forced their eyes above or below his. No enduring contact. They passed him by with a breath of profound relief.
He knew the truth, and they knew the truth: people usually avoid all connections, but she looked. Twice. She looked and seemed to know.
Sammy was the last one that knew what he was like and she left him. It was not a risk that he could take again. Tony glazed and although he could hear Buffer Davis and his henchmen getting closer to his head he could not let them into this knowledge. He didn’t like them. In fact he didn’t know them. He didn’t want to. It would lead to the red zone again.
‘What are you doing for the rest of your life?’ Davis questioned when Tony did not flinch.
‘Dying.’ As he dropped to the floor of the cubicle he added ‘She never cried you know. Didn’t beg for mercy. Nothing. Just said her name was Jasmine. I can’t betray her.’

He was free. From his death-life. He slipped calmly backward into his future.


Would it matter any more or less to you if their names were Jasbhir Patel and Philip Cuthbert? Would the relationship change in your mind I wonder? The next stage may decide the answer.

I am curious to know if Jasmine would be back at Total Office Solutions on the following Monday if her parents had not sent her to boarding school in Surrey where she developed the penchant for custard and sticky puddings. Would I be altered too?

Tony Hines smoked to forget the snatched opportunities of his youth; the long searching fingers of the jealous ones who misunderstood his gift.
His father visited him once when Tony was thirteen. They were always to be strangers.
Tony embodied a part of this man who he remained apart from.
Before birth and beyond, they all moulded him when they touched him: the shadows of his life.
The past and future extraordinarily imprinted on fragile flesh.


How is connection made? Are all our associations similar to the link a murderer has with a victim. No one else can be in between them. There is no advocate in that relationship. It is direct and unending.
Man is the measure of all things.


So, who am I in this text? I am Jasmine’s son. Here in her womb.

Has my history been a fiction?

I am a text: remember me.

(2003)

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The ring ...


I have worn jewellery before. There were always reasons why I wore it. Then just as valid reasons why I stopped wearing it.

I think the first ring I ever wore was an eternity ring given to me by my teenage love. He was such a kind sweetheart, I tried to feel the same way about him as he obviously did about me, but not even wearing the ring he’d worked so hard to buy changed my deepest feelings.

Then I had my own jewellery of rebellion.

My father and my church objected to it. I objected to them. I chose my gold chain and my ring with care. However, I soon discarded them as well.

The heaviest ring I wore was an engagement ring that I accepted from a man who was convinced that I was the one for him. I wore it as I tried to convince myself that this was the right thing to do. Luckily, not even the diamonds carefully placed in the band of gold could make me comfortable in that situation. It ended.

When I had a civil ceremony with my now ex-partner she bought us both bands of gold. They, like that relationship, never sat well with me for a long time. In an attempt to make things more acceptable I wore my new band with a gold band I had inherited – my brother told me it was our mother’s wedding ring. The two gold bands sat together on my hand for a short while but they never seemed to rest well: I fiddled with them constantly. They were always on the move ... and soon so was I.

I still have those rings – in separate boxes – as a reminder of my mother and another bad union.

This chronology of jewellery wearing is almost at an end. There have been some beautiful gifts that I still like to wear on the odd occasion, ones that bring back pleasant memories and wonderful times, ones that fit me well for a time before I feel the need to remove them again and replace them in covered boxes.

But on the whole I remain ring and bracelet free.

I remained unused to jewellery for decades. It wasn’t for me, not really.

This changed recently.

In a moment of deep connection I was gifted a ring. It was gently slipped onto my finger. At first it felt uncomfortable because I was unused to it. It was an unexpected act but it brought with it a sense of easy calm. At first I thought I would not be able to wear it – knowing my personal history with rings and the like, but a few hours later as the warmth of the loving gift settled in my being I realised that it was the most comfortable piece of jewellery that I had ever worn – it was already a part of my identity.

Suddenly I re-recognised that everything that had happened was now crowned with the ring of truth. It is right there – on my hand, speaking about who I really am.  It’s true. The ring said so.

Now I don’t ever want to be parted from the ring or the woman who gave it to me.

Fragile Change


Change can be fragile if it is based on one person – you need a group to secure long term change. Is this true? I heard this phrase in a film the other day when a woman was talking about the barriers that had been set up to prevent women from worshipping in the same space as men within some mosques. There were physical barriers but also mental and social barriers that had been erected.

The religion of Islam does, I believe, view women as spiritual equals. The changes that have occurred over time in many mosques are reflected within society as a whole.

Women are viewed as fragile beings, but as a section of society we are still viewed with awe and fear because of the apparent power that we have. A supposed egalitarian society will do all it can to disempower, subjugate, and segregate women from main society. This is achieved with language, space and general economics: women are usually not counted in global economics.

Marilyn Waring said, “Economics is the tool of the people in power.” This is because economics is about language as well as maths – it decides what is included and excluded. Economics is similar – in that respect – to the physical barriers that have been erected in many mosques and public spaces throughout the world.

When societies continue to act like this it leads to the degeneration of that society. Poverty is the result of this systematically negative action: poverty of all people.


Searching for a change in the structure if society is like searching for the lost ark ... it goes on for decades without getting any closer to finding the missing piece.

How do we get to a position where change is possible and sustainable? I believe that all changes in society start within one person. When that one person changes their heart and life it is like the ripple effect, it just keeps spreading.

Gandhi was one such person, Mother Theresa another, Martin Luther King yet another example. I could name scores of people who have made tremendous changes in society because they believed in something different. People such as Malcolm X, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Billie Holliday, Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela.

I could add myself to that list. I could add you to that list.

We can all make a change in society by acting on the beliefs that are in our heart. We are the change that we are waiting to happen.


When the heart changes the condition of the people changes.

 Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” Quran 
13:11

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Short Story - Home Front by Marjorie H Morgan


Home Front
by Marjorie H Morgan


It was quiet. As quiet as you can get at 2.30 am on the first official day of spring. Everything was at once old and new. The wildness of the change came first as silence. Sara pressed the tuner to find a local station as she was passing Oxford. An blast of sound surrounded her. It was music, well that’s what they defined as music nowadays. Anything was better than the spoken word just now. That was her usual listening mode. Words. But tonight everything was different. She needed things to feel different, to be different, because she was on a journey away from her past. The beat from the tuner was fast, the DJ spoke fast, everything about the station’s output was contrasting her mood. The sound was the Lancelot to her discomfort. The loud silence retreated.

Sara accepted the tiredness that sat tightly on her shoulders and neck. She had spent all day in a busy house. She knew that she needed to be alone for a while, then, and only then, could she make sense of the detachment that she had experienced for the past ten hours. The drive was the way to achieve this. The new road made the journey shorter. And for the first time Sara wished that the roadwork’s had not yet been completed. She was driving from one home to another. And neither of them offered her comfort at the moment.

Three months ago she had received a call to ask for her help in organising a dinner. It was not going to be a surprise event because the caller, her younger sister, was the one who would be the guest of honour at the meal. Sara was the fixer in the family. She positioned herself  into bridge-form to breach old arguments and soothe aged tensions. This time it took eight of those preceding weeks to even get a ‘maybe’ response from any of the siblings. She faced this challenge with determination.

‘Is Phil going to be there?’ John questioned.
‘I don’t know,’ Sara sighed quietly to herself, ‘he hasn’t replied to my messages yet. But I’m glad that I’ve got hold of you at last. Did you get the other messages that I left on your phone?’
‘Yep. Just been a bit busy you know…’
‘Yeah, I guessed as much that’s why I called again. Anyhow,’ it was difficult for her to keep her frustration under control but she called on the memories of previous occasions when her spoken words were required to be emollient to the hearer; the game players took up their positions for the usual prologue, ‘anyhow, it’s changed venue again, I left the details on your phone. Are you coming?’
‘I’m still not sure. You know how difficult it is for me.’
‘Yes. I do. That’s why I thought I’d ring you on the mobile instead of on the landline. This is costing me a bomb you know.’
‘Sorry Sara, but you know how it is.’
‘OK. Just let me know as soon as you do. I need to confirm the places at the restaurant before next week. They’re always busy there.’
‘Alright. Don’t pressure me.’
‘I’m not pressuring you! Come on. Give me a break. She’s your sister too. And she wants you there. I’m just asking for numbers, that’s all. It’s her big day I’m only trying to help that’s all.’
‘It’s just logistics. Timing and everything you know.’
‘OK John, you give me a call by Sunday to let me know. You sort your end out and let me know the numbers. OK? I’ve gotta go now. Got more calls to make. Speak to you later.’

It was a similar but different conversation with each of them. Apart from Joan. She didn’t bother to reply to any of Sara’s messages. Because Sara had recently failed to be compliant with an issue to do with the main family home so she was temporarily excommunicated. But having no choice she went on checking who was going to be there, who was going with them. Just family she was told. Just family.

But her family was not allowed. It was unspoken but clear.

It was Claire’s 30th birthday. The last time the sisters and brothers all came together was when their mother had died. Eighteen months ago. They were still all raw with emotion. Sealed in their own silences.

‘It will give us something to celebrate,’ Claire suggested, ‘something to be happy about. After all, I’m officially an adult now!’ she laughed at her own joke. The youngest yet seriously scarred in most emotional matters Claire stopped sharing confidences with her siblings. She acted the role of family baby to feed her desire for knowledge. But the siblings never told the real secrets of their hearts.

Unspoken rule number 53: all the real emotions had to be kept to yourself.
Each person had their own mountains to climb and no passengers were allowed in this family. Struggle alone. But let outsiders think they were unshakeably close. So it went.

It was only at times of deep distress that the real feelings were slightly uncovered and harshly demonstrated. The code followed prescribed patterns:
‘You have no idea what I have been going through.’
‘No. I don’t, you’re right, so please tell me. Maybe I could help.’
‘I can’t talk about it. It’s too painful.’
‘I think I have an idea of the pain you are in because…’
‘No! You could never understand this, after all you don’t have children.’

It was true. Sara was childless. It was a choice. She could have had many children. All the offers she received to be bedded and wedded were rejected. Sara still managed to obtain children by proximity. And the time when she was practically raped, the only hope that she had then was that there would be a child that she could love and call her own. And then maybe get over the fact that the child’s father was a bastard. But all she got the following month was just blood. She wanted to die then. As she had wanted to die so many times before and since, but like so many other women, and unlike wounded animals, she bled regularly and still failed to die. Sara thought that her given family worked well to reject her and annihilate her being. She was spiritually alone from the age of three, but her mother, their mother, the last connecting element in the family, she alone had shown some consistency towards Sara. No matter what any of them did, Shirley always had significant more love to show towards them. A mother and her cubs. They were all safer then.

But children never were the only expression of love. As Ruth showed.
This new kind of loneliness that Sara bore was heavy. She sat cross-legged in a circle of sadness completed since her mother had gone. Sara had not shared her truths with her mother, not until she was lying sick in the nursing home after the third stroke. Then Sara would sit and hold her mother’s hand while she spoke of her own fragile happiness.

‘You always knew didn’t you Mummy? I know that you always knew.’
There was never any response from her mother’s lips, but the memory of the gentle squeeze on Sara’s hand was reassurance for her in the bleak times between her visits to the bedside.
‘I just couldn’t say it before, but I know that you guessed. I saw the way you looked at me. And I saw the smiles. I know you are happy that I’m happy. Aren’t you Mummy? Aren’t you?’
The one way conversations were standard on the visits. Sara convinced herself that the flickering eyelids and the slight movements from the left side of her mother’s ravaged body were the signs of approval and assent at her own happiness.

The sudden darkness of the road made Sara become more alert. She had been visiting a far-off present while she sat there in her metal box as the movement and shadows flew around her. As she passed the scattering of villages she saw the steady orange glow of street lights hovering on the distant horizon. Nearly home. Nearly there.
‘I hope I made the right decision coming back tonight,’ she thought.
Strangely, she didn’t feel the tiredness that she had expected after such an exhausting day. Refreshed by that thought she leaned across the passenger seat and took a bag of mints from the glove compartment. The clear roads meant that the slight swerve that she made did not cause any loud objections from other road users. In fact, in the past hour, she reflected to herself, she only remembered being temporarily blinded by headlights a few times. Released momentarily from her consuming thoughts Sara realised she was not fully conscious of any other traffic although she knew that she had not been alone on the road. She was struck awake; away from her mind’s separate journey. As she left the profound solitude of her thinking that had taken her to mute mountain paths Sara fixed her eyes on the white lines that slithered along the darkened grass verge and determined to stay attentive for the rest of her passage. The road yawned ahead and disappeared. She turned the radio off. Too much noise in her present.
The stillness around her was the first observation. It was a falsely quiet night. The change of season when all things became new. All the clocks jumping forward and everyone losing an hour of their lives at the decree of distant shadowy figures veiled in the mystery of government. Yet still the people were obedient. Sara put her left arm through the spokes of the steering wheel and adjusted the clock. A moment and an hour had gone. Never to be recaptured. How easy it was to lose time. 02:47, press a button, 03:47.

The sky was cloudless and the stars made a pattern in the firmaments. Sara acknowledged the altering beauty above her but she did not understand it. The  Chaldeans would look at the sky and know what to do next. She, however, continued to drive between her unknown past and future.

Half a day ago she had been on the same road, going in the opposite direction. Going to her given family nest.
It had been hard to stir herself that morning. She blamed her period which had come earlier than expected. But for once she was pleased. It was not as painful as usual, but they weren’t to know that. For a few hours, as she pusillanimously lay in front of the TV she had pondered how to make that call to say that the pain was so bad that she couldn’t travel. And not to say that if she could have bought her chosen family with her then it would not have been a problem or even a consideration. But Sara remained silent on the sofa. The phone didn’t ring and she didn’t dial. She suddenly wished that she had perfected the art of lying. Now that she needed its help she realised how inept she was. They would know, of course, so she had a leisurely bath, wishing pain on herself, and slowly dressed. She knew she was OK to travel. To drive herself those hours across the country. Yet she yearned to stay at home. The pull of traditional obedience to the family rules won the day.
Four hours after getting out of bed Sara got into her car and drove off leaving her heart and life behind her. Duty won the day. But it was a hard assignment.

Driving was a time of freedom from the stress at both ends of the day’s journey. Sara now drove purposefully through the darkness. Speed was not essential at this moment. Thought was the only necessity. Clear thought. About how to progress. The stationary cars and quiet houses were disguised in darkness and seemed to lean back into the fields as she weaved her way through the grid of the countryside.

Only an hour after arriving in the bosom of her family that afternoon Sara had borrowed her oldest sister’s car keys and gone on an errand to get petrol. The truth was Sara was suffocating in the layers of false gaiety that assailed her every movement through the house. It was hard for her to pretend today as she was too disturbed to take on her usual role of clown and bridge. It took nearly 90 minutes of driving through vaguely familiar streets to find the strength to return to the house and by that time more people had arrived. Nephews, nieces, cousins and their families. Happy units slotting into the big picture. Sara bounced off them like a jigsaw piece placed in the wrong box. Air kisses were exchanged and light hugs passed around the group.  It was the children that saved Sara. She was drawn to them for their innocence and unfettered acceptance. For the next two hours she read stories and played games with the under 10s; always careful to be in the sight of another adult in case of more misunderstandings.

The wait was painfully long. Sara’s mind was over a hundred miles away. She played the role of ‘Auntie’ to perfection. But all she really wanted was her own family, her chosen family, the one’s who defined her positively, not these people who were surrounding her, these people who were related by birth and had no other connection. Sara wanted to feel comfortable and loved. Shivering, she gazed into the past few hours and wished she had had the courage to stay in her real home. The link to her reality seemed to snap and disappear as she sat curled up on the carpet with a book and three young eager sets of eyes peering at her. A nervous smile made its way to her lips while tears started to burn at the corners of her eyes.
‘This is the last time,’ she thought to herself, ‘I can’t afford to do this any longer.’
‘Now, where did we get to?’ she asked turning to a bright page filled with dancing pixies.

The meal was delayed because John had set out even later than everyone else. Nobody told Sara. Claire rang the restaurant because she wanted everyone there at the same time. In the meantime the remnants of the lavish lunch she had prepared sat waiting for the tardy arrivals. To pass the time, after the usual enquiries had faded, the latest holiday photos were passed around amid polite laughter. John had eventually decided to bring one daughter with him, Denise, she was the only one who did not object to his new partner Felicity. Sara noticed that the ‘siblings-only’ rule and the ‘just-family’ command were ignored yet again as Felicity was embraced and made welcomed. Sara felt her pain being gorged open anew.
Phil, the eldest brother, never did make it although he rang with his apologies and rearranged a special date for him and Claire to meet up and celebrate a ‘together-not-on-a birthday’ day.

The restaurant was busy and lively. There was laughter around the table as old stories were shared. Ends of conversations were heard in triplicate as happiness simmered in the atmosphere. Then someone suggested that the bills be separated according to family sub-groups and Sara had no present group to belong to. She had her bill alone. The stark reality was waiting for her at each turn. She was not invited to be part of anyone else’s group and she didn’t ask. She was not about to ignore the truth. She was sure this would never happen again. That unnerving shiver passed through her body afresh and left over her shoulders. She looked around to see if the door was opened, but she knew it was inside her that was unsettled. Suddenly, after ordering a substantial meal, her appetite was gone. Food would no longer satisfy her or appease that feeling of emptiness.
‘Period pains,’ she stated with an appropriate grimace in response to queries about the wasted food. Two pineapple juices and a few pompadoms later she was ready to go. It was a tortuous time. Sara had started looking at her watch from the moment the order was taken. Three hours later they were the only party left in the restaurant.
‘It’s the last time,’ she chanted quietly to herself, ‘enjoy their company while you can. It’s the last time.’ But Sara was not enjoying anything about that evening. She sensed a mistake had been made.

The goodnights were rapid.
‘No point in settling down as I have a long drive ahead of me,’ Sara insisted when they returned to Claire’s home.
‘But you always have Tony’s bed. You have to stay. It won’t be the same without you.’
‘No,’ thought Sara, ‘No, it won’t. There will be nobody to rush around after you all in the morning. Nobody to tidy up the kitchen after the meals.’
‘No.’ Quietly but firmly Sara said goodbye to everybody and went out to her car. The noise of her siblings and their children and partners stormed her ears as she closed the door behind her. No greetings were given to her to take away.
It was quiet in the car. Just what she needed. A weary sigh crept from her lips as she strapped herself in.
Looking back at the darkening house she saw her eight year old nephew Tony waving happily from the bedroom window. He would miss her more than most. She always had time for him.
Sara looked at the illuminated dials in front of her.
‘Damn,’ she uttered as she moved off down the road. In her rush to escape them earlier that day she had forgotten to refill her own car with fuel so she visited the petrol station once more before leaving the city. On her way out she slowed down as she passed the nursing home where her mother had spent her last days.
‘Bye Mummy,’ she breathed, ‘Bye all of you.’

Two or three hours later she parked her car. The street was quiet. Only the student houses were still alight. Clutching her keys Sara glanced along the road. As she opened the front door she felt herself shiver. The house was cold.
The small lamp was on expectantly in the lounge but tonight it looked stark. Only clocks ticking and deep breathing could be heard around her. Her heart struck her chest in time with every second jump of the gold-edged clock by the kitchen door. Sara drank a glass of water. Too quickly. She spluttered and coughed, then paused in case she heard footsteps. Nobody stirred.
Slowly walking upstairs, to avoid the creaking on the fourth and ninth steps, Sara put her emergency overnight bag in the spare room. She had not used it or even told her family that she had been half prepared to stay. Again she paused and listened. As she continued to move around there was a sense of difference in the air. The house felt empty.

When she eventually settled down and crawled into bed, the sleeping form beside her was breathing deeply but Sara felt the warmth was missing. Unconsciousness did not come to her rapidly that night. The day was showing again in her mind.

The choice had been made many times that day. Sara had moved, but in the wrong direction. The call had been false. The chack from her family had suffocated the whisper from her side. She lay still and cried quietly. The bed was devoid of love. The bed was cold. Her sudden sweat was one of fear and loss. She turned to face the wall as she acknowledged that throughout the past five years she had slowly murdered her only hope. She heard, too late, that she was not the only one to feel.


(1993)

© Marjorie H Morgan 2012 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Placing ourselves


Whatever we do is a way of ‘placing’ ourselves in our world. Our literal and physical placements are an important way to map our psychological selves. How we view ourselves, our place, in our world is a way of saying “This is where I am, and this is how I feel about it, right now.” Place gives us a deep and specific sense of connection to both physical and mental realities.

Creative people ‘place’ themselves in positions that elicit powerful and emotional feelings – this is why they are able to create ... beautiful music, prose, visual art, sculptures, and poems.

When we choose to be in specific places we are creating possibilities for wonderful memories. I was on a train a few days ago, and one leg of the journey was quiet and peaceful whilst the other was fully of noisy and disruptive football supporters. However, both journeys were still filled with joy because of the place that I was going to and then returning from – seeing my love. I believe the calm and joy that surrounded me was transmitted to those within the train carriage because when I asked for a small consideration – for the singing crowd not to use my seat back as a drum – it was accepted in good grace and complied with without escalating tension. When I changed trains to get a different connection I thanked the young men for their thoughtfulness and they responded with smiles, waves and wishes for me to enjoy the rest of my journey.
I will remember that train journey as a wonderful place even though the carriage was filled with chanting, drinking and occasional shouting, because I somehow managed to make a peaceful connection with the few people around me, and retain peace within myself.

I know that my mental place influenced how I interacted with my physical place. The same is often true in reverse.

It is currently the Easter holidays for schools in parts of the UK and over the next two weeks I plan to visit several places with Gabe to create more wonderful memories together. I’m sure each space and place will bring us untold adventures. You see, already today we have been to visit parts of an ancient castle and church here in Northampton and enjoyed those places together.

For more place connections in my world, watch this space ...






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