I would love to say, simply, I have taken a sabbatical from writing to enable me to refresh and regroup my thoughts on all that I commit to my published columns and blog but alas, this is not true. The real reason is because I have simply nothing to say, no real thoughts or musings to convert to electronic ink. Further, I am distracted by the conversations on the twitter with bloggers and columnists, writers and TV script jockeys I have been fortunate enough to get to know. Talented all, in fact so talented I feel, at times, totally overwhelmed by them.
I fell through the gaps of no hoper's and the ‘Not worth picking ups’ a long, long time ago. At the tender fresh faced wondrous age of five I was already dodging the splintered cane from ageing nuns for not being able to speak correctly or for not remembering ‘The Capital In Front Of The Words.’
At home aged five, I was often punished for not being able to spell or pronounce correctly. In fact, my little sister and I walked up and down the living room hand in hand towards my mum and if words like butter were not said properly a slap was dispensed and we were sent back to the end of the room and made to walk towards the inevitable. Fear took care of the great pronunciation fairy interjecting and putting the right way to do things into my still growing empty little cranium. Today I say butter like any good cockney should. Sorry mum.
The fully stocked small library at my junior school was always shut, the pride of the school, the nuns showing it off only to the visiting whoevers. I recall vividly a storm brought everyone in from the playground. Colder than the usual deep mid-winter they threw us out in, normally without our coats. Amazingly this ‘holy’ library was opened to the children it was designed for that day. I was then seven and I picked up the first book that didn’t have Janet and John or the holy cross on the front cover. The book was about astronomy by my lifelong hero Sir Patrick Moore. The photos were beautiful. My true indescribable heart jumping euphoria that these swirling galaxies, colourful gaseous expanses and very detailed pictures of the moon were even real and indeed even existed beyond the Roman Catholic bibliotheca was truly a shock to the little me.
I managed to steal that book. I took it for the knowledge that was denied to me. I treasured my illicit gains. I may search for that book again one day and put it on a shelf, maybe put it near the front.
I was encouraged to read the bible for readings in church, in front of mum, BEFORE church and in class at school as part of daily lessons up to the age of eleven. I’ve not looked at a bible since, I won’t even pretend to mouth the words at weddings or funerals like we all do. Not interested in a revaluation of it, or a discussion that merits or demerits it. I am truly not interested. I refuse to be characterised as an atheist, a gnostic, or some other form of dissentious label. I have knowledge of spirituality and being that is still forming the real me. An on-going process through life, as it should be.
I have dipped my toe in all belief systems. Cherry picking wisdom I can drag around with me on my journey through the mud of life and I habitually discard so much other people faithfully believe in. I am presently now enjoying my journey as a Kabbalist. I cherry pick nothing. Everything makes sense. No religious dogma. No preaching, just gentle explanations about my life and the world. For me it is peaceful and thought provoking reading and meditation.
My kabbalah interests stemmed wholly from a book given to me by a friend when not surviving my bowel cancer was a distinct reality. She is a surviving Babylonian Jew. She and her whole family, of some I have known since a child, are a miracle of survival and it was her absolute certainty that this book would heal me, her sincere unwavering belief and the look of ‘help me to help you’ moved me like never before. The healing part for me was the absolute certainty it gave ME that I would survive, my only reading material was this pre-religion fountain of knowledge, a knowledge that has been plagiarised by some of the greatest thinkers, philosophers and scientists that have ever lived.
The local authority cane and the matriarchal punch combined to make me rebel against any form of learning, so I actively did not learn a thing for the duration of my short secondary school education. Hormones and girls, running away from home, living rough in Soho and getting a job at fourteen took care of any chance of a teacher trying, albeit usually badly to educate me. I was married at nineteen, having two beautiful girl babies along the way, life took over and was the only wage earner for the next eleven years and that exhausted me.
Living alone near London Bridge, newly divorced, missing my children and my little sisters death still fresh and raw, I had rare time on my hands to read my first ever book fully. I was thirty, it was a Steven King something or other, dead pleased with myself I even finished reading a WHOLE book. I then read at the rate of one book every two days or so, everything he ever wrote, I then ploughed through his contemporaries. Then I stopped. I did not read another book for pleasure for the next eighteen years.
I don’t know why.
I follow some pretty cool people on the twitter, there is in fact a core of thinkers and commentators on some if not all of life’s curmudgeoness I am proud say I have gotten to know and indeed some I have even met. They have introduced me to music, books, and fresh thinking. I say ‘fresh’ because there will be not a cliché used between them, original words from original thinkers.
On watching a conversation between two authors on the twitter, they mentioned the American author and poet Charles Bukowski sufficiently to garner my interest. I read Ham on Rye by Bukowski in one sitting and quickly clicked on the big shop in the cloud and bought EVERYTHING this all round son of a bitch of a genius has ever written. Read them all, back to back, I sucked in the very breath of the man. I know how he smelt and he stinks trust me. It is incredible that you can read a man’s literary work in a little over a week. His life’s work in fact. A life, a WHOLE LIFE in a week. Think about that.
Learning as a child brought associations of pain and regret and even dare I say torture. I have a mind trained not to absorb too much superfluousness. I read newspapers very rarely. I recall the Steven King books and those from his contemporaries, dozens and dozens of them. I cannot remember a single word or phrase from them. Still even now illogically certain that my time was wasted, even though I think I enjoyed them at the time, maybe.
In my past, I have been a disappointment to most of the people I have touched, sensing my bright mind they somehow always expected better of me. I have not been a good husband, father or lover, selfish in most of my endeavours. I am terribly flawed much to the chagrin of many.
I have yet to write anything of worth, but this one thing drives me on. It is the certainty in knowing that I will. I may lie, steal and deceive to get your attention on paper and in life just as I did on a grand small scale when I was seven in the oft-locked school library and if I am ever invited into your home and one of your books goes missing, I may have stolen it. Be satisfied what you have already read and absorbed is about to teach me something.
You will never get it back.