Tuesday, 28 July 2015

On not belonging

On Not belonging: David Copper wrote (in ‘Death of the family’?) in favour of a ‘doubt that alternatively freezes and boils the marrow’. I have a long history of being on the edge and doubting. It is a natural place for a counsellor and maybe researcher and maybe academic. I have not quite belonged to the person-centred tradition, transpersonal, Church of England, counselling psychology, School of Education, Labour Party, Marxist and Communist groups, etc. Oh and my birth family, that’s probably where it started. I am now on the edge of Quakers and wondering what next. Also now on the edge of (academic) work and wondering what next. This is where I stand and G*D forgive me to probably misquote Martin Luther. But this liminal place (there’s a word eh?) has its moments. I can look around and sniff, join in the dance as and when it suits knowing the Truth is bigger which is why we can only discuss and fight over our limited ‘truths’ like blind people feeling an elephant. ‘One eye open wide/one eye closed/and between the two/the picture gets composed’ (TW3 theme tune).

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Q again

The Boss visits Q once more.
- Hi Boss
- Hi Q…. I am glad to see you again…. There’s so much change kin the air for me that I get scared
- Hmm
- Yeah really scared. I lose sense of my life having meaning and purpose and… and I get afraid that I will be stuck at home staring at the walls or even worse staring at the TV or computer screen!
The Boss chuckles.
- Hey that’s not funny!
- Oh… sorry
- Not matter. Actually it is a bit funny you know. I am not one to be bored for very long. Life does not work that way or not so far….. But I am scared of being old and useless and unwanted.
- Yeah?
- Yeah! It does happen!
- And you have no choice?
- Not if I get ill and lose my marbles.
- You would still be a delightful soul and people would still respond to that.
- Oh!
- Yes what do you think people are responding to in you in any case?
The Boss thinks.
- My enthusiasm firstly.
Q nods.
- Interesting word enthusiasm – ‘full of God’
- Ah…. When my God mother lost it and no longer recognised me she was still a wonderful person. So maybe I can be like her if I lose it. Meanwhile I just need a focus or two or three for my enthusiasm.
Q smiled.

Monday, 18 May 2015

The big city

When I was a young teenager I was desperate to leave home and escape the small town I had grown up in in which everyone knew everyone’s business or so it seemed. I was restless and politically radical – ahead of my school mates, already reading The Guardian every day at 13 (My dad read the Daily Telegraph) and wanting to join CND. Getting good results in the school exams to spite my father (No I don’t think he was using reverse psychology on me) I realised that university was possible. So instead of running away to join the merchant navy – my Plan B, I bided my time and worked hard for 4 years, especially on my A levels to get the grades to go to Manchester.

Why Manchester? Well firstly, I also wanted a city based university about 100 miles or more from my home town! Secondly I had peaked in Maths at 17 (and so had to work at it!) and I saw computers as a good career move – that would certainly get me out of home. So it was Cambridge or Manchester as the only universities running Computer courses at that time. I couldn’t be doing doing with the class system at Cambridge - even if I could have got in - but the clincher was waiting an extra year for an entrance exam to go there so Manchester it was.

It was not totally easy for me in Manchester especially that first year (My memory is of never seeing the sun for 6 months until the Spring!) but I threw myself into various things like the Uni hiking club, socialist society, anarchist groups – uni and city – gypsy liaison group (we blocked evictions and signed them into the student union as guests for showers etc) and the Community Research and Action Group based in Chorlton etc.

Several of my new friends in my second year came out as lesbians and so I soon find myself regularly mixing with gays and lesbians. It soon became clear to me after the odd experiment that I was straight but it opened my eyes to what being a man could mean. So that more sensitive tender part of me got some encouragement. In a sense I have never looked back except I do still wrestle with that part of me (not the only part that I wrestle with it is true – my grumpy side, my nasty side all have their moments). So I am saying the gay men (and the gay women) I met in 1969 left a lasting impact on me. It gave me a different idea of what a man could be.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Boss consults Q once more

The Boss consults Q his spiritual director once again

- Hi Boss, how goes?
- Ah Q it’s been a difficult time.
Q nods and waits patiently.
- You know that I have a close family friend with dementia?
- Yes.
- Well it’s really difficult and I am not handling it that well!
- Oh!
- I have been trying to make sense of it in my early morning contemplation but I am getting nowhere fast…. It helps me to think of old age and death as like flowers that gradually wither away, I find that a pleasing image, but dementia is different.
- Hmm.
- It just strips so much away, frightens people, deprives them of their humanity and causes others to mostly treat them badly… And I have to ask myself… have to say…. I believe we are created but how can God let this happen? I know that there are some things we bring on ourselves but this seems mostly not true with dementia and it feels so unfair.
- I understand.
- You do?
- Yes.
- Well explain it to me!
- I’ll try but I am not at all sure that it will satisfy you!
The Boss groaned and bowed his head into his hands, too weary to even get angry with Q.
- You know that you have those moments when it all makes sense?
- Yes! (The Boss leaned forward all eager.)
- In those moments you are not thinking?
- True, I am beyond thought… out of my mind.
- At that moment everything is reconciled? (The Boss nodded)… Even dementia?
- Oh….Even dementia! .... But how can I hold that thought?
- You can’t! What you can do it to remember the experience and trust in it.
- I like that but what if I forget it?
- You might.
- Will you remind me of it?
- Of course if I am here?
- You are not about to go away? (The Boss was a bit panicked.)
- No…. not just yet.
- Oh! (The Boss sighed.)
- Sufficient for the moment?
- Sufficient for now.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Crutch story(1)

Crutch stories: Yesterday travelled for the first time on a train to Chester for a meeting. Peter G dropped me off at the Uni café there whilst he parked his car. I picked up a sandwich, yoghurt and capacino and the woman behind the counter carried my tray for me! Lovely. On the way home got n a busy metro tram and everyone ignored my crutch and so I clung on to a pole using my recovering broken elbow for one step then grabbed an empty seat. I could have made my needs met but being English...

Friday, 30 January 2015

The Boss once more consults Q his spiritual director

The Boss hobbles into Q’s study on a crutch and settles down in the comfy armchair. He sighs and then says:
- But Q why did this happen to me…How did God let this happen… And why now… And what have I done to deserve this?
- It could have been worse!
- Whaat! The Boss was outraged.
- Well, God – if he did cause it – could have handed you an even worse accident!
- Even worse?
- Yes, brain injury for example.
- Oh.
The Boss was silent.
- Ok but the timing was awful… I was about to travel to Kenya to work there for a week.
- Hmm… but suppose it had happened closer to Christmas?
- That would have been unbearable… But are you saying that I should be thankful for small mercies… to count my blessings as my Grandmother to say?
- Cold do worse Boss.
- But really Q… why did this happen to me?
- You know! You served on your bike to avoid a pedestrian and-
- Don’t be supercilious with me Q. You know what I am asking!
- How this accident fits into the overall shape of things in God’s plan if you like?
- Yes.
- Well what happened to you in hospital and afterwards?
- I got bored a lot. Had to let people care for me even when I didn’t want them to. I was vulnerable, weak and needy which I hated. I was pathetically grateful when people did unexpected kind things for me. The male nurse who made me coffee and toast at 11pm when I was first admitted to hospital. The chatty volunteer who wheeled me in a wheel chair for communion that first Sunday.
- Hmm… a different experience of life for a while?
- Yes, and it continues. The crutch brings out the best and sometimes the worst in people, usually the best.
- Sounds like you are having a life changing experience.
- True.
- That strikes me overall as a good thing, whatever part God played or didn’t play in it.
- True and it was for me another opportunity to find out what really and truly matters to me.
- Well!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hospital cycle poem

Hospital cycle poem

‘I’ll need a commode soon’
She nods
The feeling becomes urgent
‘I am going to shit myself’
The words are forced out of me
She moves quickly
And arrives back
Just in time
It was a close one.

It was blind Colin
Blundering out of bed
Setting his alarm off
That woke Samuel
Who immediately began to
Climb out of his bed
Eric was asking for a nurse
In his quiet well-bred voice
It’s 4am and where am I?
Oh Yes, trauma ward in the hospital.

We settle down and then
Out of the frame
Rachel kicks off
‘Get out of here’
‘Get out of here’
She screams
And nurses get hit.

I don’t belong here
Well it’s true
I crashed off my bike
But these other guys
Have much longer back stories.

She wheels me to the chapel
For a moment of rest
And reflection
Bathed in the colours of the stained glass
And I’m weeping
Glad to be alive
And out of my head on morphine.

I feel a fraud
Just in for a quick bit of bone setting
And seeing how stressed
And over worked the nurses are
And how other people’s needs
Are legion
Compared with mine
But

It’s 9pm
And I’m wide awake
And the nurses don’t need me
I need them
But they are far away
It takes an eternity for them to
Respond to my buzzer
Or so it seems
And it’s soon over
And they vanish into the dark again
Or so it seems
It’s easier if you have
Simple physical doable needs
Or so it seems
Feeling lonely and
Needing a bit of company
Is different
Or so it seems.