Desperately Seeking Something…

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As more and more people seek the exit door of divorce to solve their marital disappointments, it seems that they are able to hold all the advantages. People have stopped getting old. Fifty is the new thirty and sixty is as well if one so desires. An awful lot of those not-so-oldies have more disposable income. They have realised hidden capital from previous assets like houses. Kids have grown up, sprouted wings and flown the nest. All in all, it sounds like a win-win situation. So, why do we know so many older singles who are desperately seeking someone?

Rebecca is a middle-aged woman who is recently divorced. She and her husband were married for 25 years when he told her he wanted a divorcebecause he is in love with someone else. For the past few years, Rebecca was unhappy in her marriage, but she never thought that they would divorce. She became accustomed to her life and it’s routine. Rebecca had no idea that her husband was cheating on her and so his revelation came as a total surprise.

She is now living alone and wondering what will become of her life. Her family and friends are there for her, with her married children living close by. Rebecca continues to work part-time at the same job she’s held for seven years. Financially, she is okay, but not as monetarily “comfortable” as when she was married.

Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D.

Emotional Nourishment

My wife and I have been married for almost twenty-one years and we have been married to each other all of that time. It’s not always been plain-sailing. My mental health issues have sometimes made life very difficult for the both of us. There were point when we could have given up. I always tell her that she could still get a very good-looking and financially endowed partner, but she tells me to stop talking such nonsense. The bottom line is that we have stuck together and hopefully will continue to do so.

Some of our friends have not done the same. They have taken the exit door when the whole performance became a little too much or too little. Unfortunately the next big act seems to refuse to appear.

Two of our divorcee friends have spent the time since their previous relationship trying to discover the one that is meant for them. It ought to be easy in this world of instant digital-dating. Indeed, the act of getting a date does not appear to be the difficult part. What is difficult is finding another fish in the sea that has not been damaged over-harvesting or just constantly harbouring the need to be wanted for any time between five minutes and an hour.

Sex is easy, but talking to the other person before, during and after the main event seems beyond many. The end result is a whole tranche of middle-aged singletons who are going to spend the rest of their lives living alone, but with the addition of occasional sex.

Another friend of mine (male) has accepted that his lot is to satisfy his own libido and the libido of other transient sexual encounters. He doesn’t desperately go searching for anything other than the instant gratification of skin on skin.

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He seems to be happy enough…

Adam And Eve It…?

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The very first impression I gained from Read After Burnout Adventures in Everyday Madness is that it is a very professionally written and highly competently constructed book. It is most certainly necessary to have such qualities since it presents itself in what are the popular Kindle categories of memoir.

The style has prowess and clarity, and the superb narrative technique engages the reader immediately. It is notoriously difficult to write such a personal and all-encompassing book about one’s life, particularly the darker aspects, and make it entertaining as well as stimulating for readers. But you achieve this without any difficulty and this fact alone places the book head and shoulders above others of the same type.

But the book as a whole has a great deal to recommend it, not least the carefully considered and generally well executed content which I found to be very suitable for the target demographic. The references to your time in the Met, your teaching career, and struggles with mental health, allow the reader to see a very rounded and honest snapshot of your life.  Furthermore, the eclectic mix of literature, poetry, and films which are peppered throughout the text, coalesce to make this book so much more than a memoir. Overall, this is undoubtedly one of the best books of its type that I have read for some time.

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Words from a prospective publisher.

 

He Has Risen…

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It’s been an interesting Easter. No, not my Jesus complex again, just a number of coincidences that play with my newfound belief that nothing it foretold and that fate is a fallacy for fools.

The first thing that happened was an email from a very old friend who I haven’t seen in many years. This seems to be happening more and more lately suggesting that life does have a sense of order; the older one becomes, and the further away one moves from the starting point, the more likely that that starting point becomes apparent once again. This email related to one that he sent me at Christmas in which he told me a number of things with one being that his wife had cancer. He used the term Stage 4 and I accepted it without thinking because he then said that she was in remission. It wasn’t until a month later that I reread the message and realised just how very serious it was. That was when I sent a reply explaining my inexplicable original non-response. In return, he did not respond until a few months later. The outlook was desperate, but he and his wife were battling on. Surely my sense of injustice would be pricked by another life’s little practical jokes, surely my belief in reason would be destroyed forever, surely this last little trick was there to convince me that life was an absurdist play written by nothing for nothing. No. For some reason, I felt more clarity. This game called life could not be any simpler; full of rules and no rules, it was just a thing that required participation until it ended.

 “A man is successful if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”

Bob Dylan

It makes sense to not try to make sense of it all. As far as I know, my friend and his wife have lived a wonderful life together. They haven’t sired any offspring (out of choice) but have shared a good life. Whatever ending is waiting for any of us, a good life is what matters. That was how the tragic news freed me.

I am now sitting in a classroom, in Mallorca. Outside a cockerel is doing its cockerel thing. The classroom is stuffed full of boxes of books and students’ work. It’s all in the same place as it was when the previous teacher departed so suddenly before the Easter break. She’s now gone back to Blighty and I am here.

The holidays have been a blur. One night at about 10pm, I got an email from the head teacher of this school asking me if I would consider taking a short contract to help them out of a not so pretty situation. Their English department had gone AWOL and they were struggling to provide a service. I was back to where I was last year. But not quite as I was here instead of thinking that I might be here. Action is the work of magic; it turns the imagined into reality. It conquers doubt and sets new paths in motion.

Her and now; there is sun pouring into my classroom. I am sitting at my desk so very far away from the East Yorkshire coast. My journey to work took about ten minutes on bike rather than fifty minutes by car. The children are as I remembered them, suntanned and carefree. These were the children of the moderately well to do, children who have never suffered financial hardships, children who come to school properly clothed and fed. And there’s the rub; I feel that I have abandoned the ones back in England and I am right in that feeling. But the new metells me that I have got to do this as part of my progress through this thing.

I have been taking photographs of the view from my room window. Each morning, I look out on an unreal bay of blue sea contained within a perfect semi-circle of golden sand. It’s wonderful and bollocks at the same time. In the morning, with everybody still sleeping, many sleeping off the night before, it is peaceful. It brings me a calmness that prompts me to capture the scene. It’s not tourist season yet but the first of the pathfinders can be heard yelling at the night. My hotel is filled with OAPs so there is no sound from other rooms apart from the slow rumble of snoring or the occasional languid passing of wind. Most of them seem to move between breakfast and evening meal, disappearing during the intervening period and the establishing themselves in the hotel bar to play an eternity of bingo.

Just down the road, Magaluf awaits with all its tawdry Britishness. Trust me to get a puncture whilst returning from work and trust me to take a wrong turn and end up in both Sodom and Gomorrah. Half past four and people were already pissed. Newly burnt flesh was being displayed, tattoos wandered aimlessly and the definite aroma of holiday sex was waiting in the wings. Why do we Brits do this to ourselves? I thought a holiday was a way of getting away from the norm, fleeing the mundane, glimpsing something different. Call me a Shirley Valentine, but getting shit-faced, swearing within earshot of young families, flashing the skin and stumbling around to pathetic music is not a holiday; it’s a helliday.

I walked with my head down and my opinions to myself until I reached a flight of steps, very steep ones at that, which led the way from the beach-front and towards normality. I carried my puncture bike up through the levels of the inferno and finally reached safety. My relief at reaching the hotel was palpable. I wanted to hug the first OAP that I met but restrained myself for fear of being arrested. Instead, I headed for my room and collapsed on the bed. After a short time, I went to the window just to check if I had been followed.

After the reassurance of not seeing hordes of obnoxious holiday-breakers, I decided to fix the puncture.

I don’t know of any cyclist who enjoys mending punctures. They are the bane of the two-wheeled world causing a good ride to turn into a laborious slog. I think I was good a dealing with the let-down of punctures when I was a child but as an adult, I am in need of some serious puncture guidance. It’s telling that my new goals in life are so meagre. After trying and failing, I enquired about the possibility of finding a bike shop and was given directions towards a shop that may have the possibility of having what I needed.

It was a nice evening and I was in Palmanova, not Magaluf, so I set off. The information I had been given was incorrect. My hopes had risen and now they were dashed. Where’s a bloody Halfords when you need one? Fortunately, my little Spanish helped me gain another set of directions and here I found the inner-tube of my dreams. I didn’t fit it that night but waited until the following morning when my mind would be ready for the greatest of challenges.

 

I went to bed and slept like the dead. Upon waking, I assumed that the night was still firmly in place and that I had a number of hours yet to sleep. My shock, when I checked the clock, unsettled me a little. The bike still needed fixing. It was only a replacement inner-tube but in the past I have managed to cock-up even this little trick. There is a knack to it; as is the case with everything. The knack, I believed I’d grown to understand. I had watched a friendly bike shop owner show me how to properly replace the said tube last year and I had paid attention.   The one thing that was holding me back was the fact that my next door neighbours, those of the strangely interconnecting door, a nice couple from somewhere up north, may possibly find the noise created from pumping up rather disconcerting. Nevertheless, needs must and my needs needed fixing. Pumping action, noise or not, but only after I had carefully followed the guidance of my now distant mentor.

I pumped cautiously away aware that these were indeed rather suggested something less acceptable. Once done, and checked, and rechecked, and blessed, and prayed over, I went down for some breakfast, taking a seat to watch the rain begin to throw itself against the windows that had previously only projected perfectly blue and sunny skies.

My journey into work was both wet and cold. I had lights on my bike which I decided to use as I didn’t trust Mallorcan drivers to completely pay attention to a lone cyclist in the unusual grey of the morning. I rode carefully so that fate would not be tempted to place anything sharp beneath my tyres. And I arrived at a school that showed not one sign of life. Nobody, absolutely nobody was apparent as I wheeled the bicycle along the corridors and down into the basement area, where it is usually stored. Today, there were no lights on, lending it a slightly Hotel Overlook resonance. A door slammed behind me but nobody had slammed it. The wind was playing tricks but the trick had worked so I put my bike against the wall and scarpered. I was in Mallorca and it was raining. I was teaching, doing something that I had sworn not to do again, and I was enjoying it. Things had conspired to bring me to this point in my life and I was fighting back. Mallorca is not the answer, but taking the time to spend some time with myself, and the emptiness of the moment, was important.

There is no panacea, no magical cure for this modern malaise, only time and space. When you reach that point in your life when nothing makes sense and when sense seems insane, it is good to stop. Breathe deeply, take account of the world, and get angry. The anger dissipates with or without the drugs. Indifference replaces anger but that’s not the cure. All those things that you once believed in had let you down. But you need to believe in something because without that you are likely to merely float in the gravity-free darkness of empty existence. My moments have my belief. They provide me with incontrovertible proof that life is special and should be prized. In the flotsam and jetsam of modern life, we lose our way and forget who we should have been.

 

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy!

Yes, back to the Overlook again. Talking to dead people and pretending to write. How ironic it is that I believe in nothing that suggests fate or divine intervention. How oddly apt it is that I should be following the lines of some of my favourite authors.

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Could it be that it is they who have written the scripts for my life to follow?

 

 

 

The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man…

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Little blue books are becoming a thing with me. It could be a newly-found addiction. Next week I will try something that is already read.

I read this book a while ago. No, that’s not quite right. I started reading this book a while ago and finished it sometime later. My book reading is strange and  I can often put a book down for years whilst in mid-read and come back to finish it off much later. This book was not like that, but it did take some will-power to see me over the rump of its initial appeal.

I happened upon the novel by way of my neighbour and former cycling companion. He had started reading my blog and was interested in some of the stuff that I had been reading. He never gave me any feedback on my own writing, but I expected as much (or as little). The Hundred-Year-Old Man came as part of a bilateral book exchange. He got Graham Swift’s Waterland and I got this. At first, I thought he had the best out of the deal. On second thoughts, I think he got the best of the deal.

This little blue book is knowingly amusing. It plays with the genre of the ageless protagonist not only living through world-shaping events, but also playing an unwittingly major role in those seismic changes. It is amusing and annoying in turns in the same way that Forest Gump was. It does, however, keep its true soul to the end when the author speaks, Jonas Jonasson, and this left me with a rather enjoyable bitter-sweet aftertaste.

It’s not something that will live in my memory for all time, even now it is fading, but it was worth the read. I am, however, looking forward to getting Waterland back and must build a bridge to reestablish contact after a number of very quiet months during this endless winter.

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Now, to work…

Molly Bloom And Her Dirty Tongue…

 

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I heard myself talking today. I was discussing the gratuitous sex in the early Game of Thrones series.

Being one or its original converts, I have recently felt a little aggrieved that the wagon that I was travelling on, with but a few, has now become a bandwagon. Every Wight Walker in the Seven Kingdoms is now a Game of Thrones fan.

Well, here is one man of the north who says,

“Tis mine and my like’s. The final season is coming!”

So back to a conversation that I was having about the ridiculous nature of modern day culture that confuses television with actual culture. The conversation started with an outpouring of sadness for a television presenter who just happened to crash into a car with a three year old girl inside. The line of the narrative went, “I think the public really feel sorry for him.”

My line was different.

Anyway, back to Game of Thrones which is not television but a documentary of immense importance. I was bemoaning the fact that the documentary makers had included earlier scenes of such a robust sexual nature that they existed merely as titbits for an audience incapable of following an epic narrative; fisting has no place in fact-based fiction.

And then I got to thinking about Molly Bloom and her monologue at the end of Joyce’s Ulysses (his little blue book).

“…when hes like that  he cant keep a thing back I know every turn in him ill tighten my bottom well and let out a few smutty words smellrump or lick my shit…”

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This was high art in my day and I loved it.

The years have censored me.