one

text to my sister’s email…

we went home to mum and dad’s house. Poured stiff g and t or two and felt relieved.

sounds terrible but the stress of all those years and anger and sadness for all the loss of contact for the family took their toll.

you’d cried the day before at his hospital bed.  It was the day I arrived from Vancouver and we went to see him.  You broke down and talked about the lost years and how unnecessary all the suffering was for everyone.

I think you were also relieved I was there and you could relax a bit…

…pub the day he died?

we continued there and ate dinner. Maybe it was fish and chips?

We did talk about taking mum out of the care home but I think you’d already decided and it was more of a discussion about how difficult this might be.

 

you were going to try as you always promised you would bring her home.

 

she was often asking you how long and saying don’t forget me and don’t leave me here. 

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Alone by Akash Gandhi, Claud Debussy’s Clair de Lune performed by Caela Harrison, Pink Flamenco by Doug Maxwell, Auld Lang Syne performed by E’s Jammy Jams, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by Tchaikovsky, uncredited, all tracks bar Clair de Lune courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties

 

this is not the official Mavericks video for the track mentioned in the road trip with my daughter… 

…but it’s shot in Cuba and the dancing’s terrific, and the novel I was driving south to work on was a cuban story…so I thought you might like to hear the actual track…

..especially given that I approached the Mavericks for permission to use the song in the podcast and got no reply…twice, but hey, no hard feelings…

France and Phil’s region  of languedoc rousillion in glorious colour…never too hard to make the south of France look rather wonderful, and the man himself, angle grinding something vital whilst I stand by and take photos…when I was supposed to be helping out…

an early idea for the front cover of the book I was in France to re-write, again…a boy’s own story based on real events and set during the Cuban revolution of 1958. The illustration is by the rather marvellous Jeremy Jones, click on the image to see his fine art at Saatchi’s 

 two

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Miles Beyond by Quincas Moreira, Boom de Boom by Aaron Lieberman, Drops of Earth by Aakash Gandhi all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties

farmhouse terrace
the soulmates table
the local swimming hole

three 

 

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Yonder Hill and Dale by Aaron Kenny, Wind Marching for Rain by Puddle of Infinity, Clair de Lune performed by Caela Harrison and written by Claud Debussy—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated

 

 

 

this letter was written  in 2012 or 2013, I can’t recall now, but it stands as some testament to the years of bitter dispute between us

it’s rather hard reading, and I recall the absolute sense of despair behind the words

though it would take me another few years to finally cut off contact altogether, an action that shocks and embarrasses me to this day, reading this also reminds me just how long things had been bad

 

sad, but there it is

I’ve had the opportunity whilst here to mull things over and wasted much time and effort looking for solutions to a problem that seems to me now, insoluble.

With this in mind, I have to tell you that I regard our relationship as father and son, however fraught and unsatisfactory it may have been for more than a quarter of a century, to be beyond recovery.

Naturally, I still want to have regular contact with my mother and indeed to see her as often as practicable.

I suggest therefore, you enable her to call me weekly by helping her to dial the number if necessary, and then leaving her alone to speak freely.

As often as I can, I will come up to take her out for the day or for lunch as appropriate, in order that Mum is well cared for and entertained, and in order that you and I have as little to do with one another as possible.

Should circumstances allow, we would also be happy for her to stay with us overnight, though you have always gone out of your way to make this impossible in the past.

You have effectively isolated yourself and your wife from all family and friends by your vicious outbursts against others, your consistent bullying of my mother, your mood swings and depressions leading to long periods in bed, your philandering with other women over many years, and more recently, your drinking, which apparently leads you to conveniently forget the terrible things you’ve done and said to other people.

All of this might be forgivable at some level if you had the slightest understanding that you are the author of your own ills. Had you taken the repeated opportunities you’ve been offered to address your mental state, in particular the anxiety and stress which causes these behaviours, a brighter future might have been possible and we could all get along.

I am probably amongst the last to give up on the hope for some change in you, and many have thought me stupid to have stayed with that hope for so long. I see now that they were right all along, and I was wrong to keep faith with you.

This summer, I came away with the fervent desire, much against the odds I know, that you would see the counsellor I’d found for you, the last in a long line, and face up to the reality that you have a serious problem. You got angry instead, which is what you always do when the truth is close at hand.

I cannot express my utter despair at this outcome. Not just for your sake because you must, in the end do as you see fit. But for my mother, I am heartbroken. 

For over fifty years, she has loved you faithfully, wholly and unconditionally. And how have you repaid her?

When I found her in hospital, alone, confused and depressed beyond belief, it was clear from what she said that it was your actions that were destroying her, especially the knowledge of your internet affair and your absolute failure to support her in any meaningful way through the loss of her mother.

The back injury that is still causing her so much pain and discomfort was caused by you in the course of her fall in the doorway. For ten days afterwards, you did nothing to get her to a doctor, nor did she receive any treatment until I insisted you act. Why?

And now you want to sue the hospital and blame them. Your world is fantasy, and dangerous fantasy at that. I frankly fear for her future in your care.

But it’s always been your way.

Somebody else is at fault if you feel bad or bad things happen; somebody’s perfume, somebody’s shopping, the business, Parkinson’s, your big toe, your little finger, my uncle, my grandmother when she was alive, your son, the doctor…the list goes on and on with you inventing more scapegoats in order to match whatever pain is going on in your own head.

We’ve all had years of listening to you whine and attack, complain and accuse. Enough. As far as I’m concerned, as far as most family and friends are concerned, enough.

Instead, acknowledge your own part in your troubles and start trying to cure them. That way, some chance at salvation lies.

But whatever else you do, for God’s sake, be kind to my mother. For as long as I can remember, you have been tolerated for her sake and her sake alone and for reasons I will never comprehend, she loves you still, more than you have any right to expect.

She is a remarkable woman and when she is gone, you will miss her more than you can possibly understand. Make the most of the time you have left together.

Above all, ask her forgiveness.

 four

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Waterfall by Aakash Gandhi, Jazz Piano Bar by Doug Maxwell, courtesy of Media Right Productions, Where Am I by Text Me Records, Gymnopedie No 3 performed by Wahneta Maxwell and written by Eric Satie, Cuban Sandwich, Doug Maxwell and Media Right Productions, also Pink Flamenco by Doug, Mysterious Sorrows, the wonderful Aakash Gandhi, and Miles Beyond, an old favourite by Quincas Moreira—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated

 

 

 

I thought it only right to provide a link to the quoted work of doctor Earl Nauman…I should also say he is an expert in marketing and business…other titles by the good doctor include Customer Satisfaction Measurement…the equivalent, I’m guessing, to that perennial lovers question, ‘how was it for you?’

  • Nearly two thirds of the US population believes in love at first sight.
  • Of the believers, more than half have experienced it.
  • Fifty-five percent of those who experienced it married the object of their affection.
  • Three quarters of these married couples stayed married.
an article, backed by apparently kosher scientific referencing, about falling for someone who resembles a parent...the science says birds do it, fish do it...how does the song go?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_Tree

there are modern examples of the eyes averted pose…Modigliani’s Female Nude 1916 for example, a favourite painting… there’s a link above where you can see the painting as part of the model’s wiki page…meet the remarkable Iris Tree, English poet, bohemian, adventuress, wit…ironically given the pose, her life epitomises independence and utter freedom from convention or stereotyping…

Iris Tree apppeared as herself in Fellini's Dolce Vita, click on the photo to buy ManRay's similarly posed portrait of her
La Scapigliata, by Da Vinci, painted in 1508, click through for more details on Wikimedia Commons
Andy Williams sings of boys who watch girls and it looks like it can have a detrimental effect if the facial expressions of these two fine artists are anything to go by...Salvador Dali and Man Ray pictured in 1934 by photographer Carl Van Vechten, 1880-1964, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

I can’t use Bob Willoughby’s photo of Audrey Hepburn, nor indeed Genie’s photo of herself, because one would be an infringement of copyright and the other an intrusion of privacy…

but you can find Bob’s photo here…if you look hard enough https://www.pinterest.co.uk/susiejorik/audrey-hepburn-1953/?lp=true

and meanwhile, here’s a selection of Audrey from Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, (remember the missing arm scene?), and Sabrina with William Holden mixed with mum in various guises…

enjoy, compare and contrast…fond son syndrome?

 five

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Temptation March by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)Artist: http://audionautix.com/ Our French Café by Jimmy Fontanez and Media Right Productions, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, uncredited, Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 by Franz Liszt, uncredited …all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties

 

Ambrotype of Fanny Brawne, lover of John Keats, taken circa 1850 (photograph on glass).

Keats’ financial situation precluded marriage to Fanny. Ironically, Keats had an inheritance due to him that he was never to know about, an inheritance that would have allowed him to marry her, lost in arcane paperwork and overlooked. A life changed utterly by an administrative error.

his last request was reportedly that his gravestone should be inscribed, “Here lies one who’s name was writ in water,” and make no reference to his given name. The words—intentionally or not—echo this line from Catullus, “Sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti / in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua” (What a woman says to a passionate lover / should be written in the wind and the running water). But Catullus did not reckon with a woman like Fanny who was to prove constant, even after death. She was in mourning for six years and only married twelve years after Keats’ had passed away. She went on to have three children and to outlive the poet by forty years.

in passing, it’s worth noting that TB—the cancer of its day—was sometimes known as ‘the romantic disease’. This is from Wiki: “Major artistic figures such as the poets John KeatsPercy Bysshe Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe, the composer Frederic Chopin, the novelists Charlotte BrontëFyodor DostoevskyThomas MannW. Somerset Maugham,  and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the artists…Edvard MunchAubrey Beardsley and Amedeo Modigliani either had the disease themselves or were surrounded by people who did. A widespread belief was that tuberculosis assisted artistic talent, as witness the number of great artists who were affected. Physical mechanisms proposed for this effect included the slight fever and the toxaemia, (blood poisoning), caused by the disease, which allegedly helped them to see life more clearly and to act decisively.

life mask of John Keats by Benjamin Robert Haydon (1816) and next door, a rather spooky video manipulation of a portrait of Keats reading the letter to Fanny

 six

I was indeed prodigal in lying to my mother about her husband's passing, shame on me

still from the American western film The Prodigal Liar (1919) with William Desmond and Betty Compson

we could each of us take our pick of celebs with relationships that raise more questions than they answer, or come to that, relations and friends in couples whose behaviour one to another is hard to fathom and sometimes hard to sanction or witness…but how do we judge right from wrong and how do we respond when the lovers choose to go on and to repeat the same old, again and again…and is it love, or something altogether other?

…but look, love doesn’t have to be a trap, there must be fifty ways and many of us choose one because the strains are too much. Indeed, there’s an argument that with longer lives, staying together is just not possible for many, if not most of us, despite the fall out for families…which is why dating sites are seldom a ‘once only’ option…check out the latest figures by clicking on the smart graphic of 2012 figures…to find divorces are actually going down, though the reasons are not clear and may relate to finances (it’s expensive) or even to the demise of marriage as an institution…the only exception is same sex couples, where the rate is rising, but given same sex marriage is so new (2014)

Beneath Egon Schiele's 1911 pen drawing, 'Couple Embracing', lies an article that purrports, (wait for it, the joke comes at the end...) to throw some light on the matter of what love really is...which is laudable, if ambitious...one wonders what songwriters, poets and novelists, film makers and all old romantics will do once the cat is out of the bag (yep, not really worth the wait I guess...)

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Clouds by Huma Huma, Marching for Rain by Puddle of Infinity, Solo Cello Passion by Doug Maxwell and Media Right Productions, Peace by Hovatoff, Getz me to Brazil, another Doug Maxwell creation (how can we thank him enough?) Dinner for Two by SYBS—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated

 

 

 

home
sweet
home

seven

plenty of fish, and though the catch is on ice as season one concludes…there is hope. 

this photo was taken in Guadeloupe on holiday with my ex-girlfriend, she of the displaced son, the year, 2010…which makes me nostalgic for all things past, though with as little regret as I can muster, because, as my dear nan was wont to say,

 “tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse, et tout se remplace (Everything passes, everything wearies, everything breaks and everything is replaced)

Dante sees Beatrice for only the second time in his life, at age nineteen, though he looks older in Henry Holiday’s 1883 oil painting of the encounter on the ponte Santa Trinita, with the river Arno and the ponte Vecchio in the background, a scene recognisable even today. Boys watching girls and girls watching boys has been about forever I guess, though courtly love may be less obviously the guiding principle of dating websites, we all live and hope

 

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Tango de la Noche by Wayne Jones, Symphony No 5 by Beethoven, uncredited, Chopin’s Funeral March is also uncredited, the marvellous 7th Floor Tango is by Silent Partner, Lord of the Land by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400022Artist: http://incompetech.com/ and the haunting Desert Caravan is by another favourite collaborator, Aaron Kelly, the last track is by Leah, an original piece written and performed by the author’s daughter —all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated

 

 

 

season two

waits for you