Friday, 13 November 2015

In which I have a try at automatic writing

My mother left several books about paranormal phenomena; I leafed through them and spotted a chapter in one about automatic writing - just completely letting go, switching off the conscious part of the brain, and letting the subconscious just write, write.

I've closed my eyes, and am typing whatever flows into my mind. You've got to focus and let go at the same time... focus... let go. Concentrate yet relax. Pay attention, yet don't. At the same time. You got to let the words come to you, be honest, stay open, stay aware... a wave of... a flood of feeling is washing over me... still waiting for a signal... still waiting for the conduit to open... here it is...

...It's the late 1940s in England; a pale-green Ford Prefect stands outside the wooden gate and privet hedge, cream coloured gate, sound of the latch opening; concrete pebble-dashed path leads to a cream coloured door, bobbled glass in the door, chromium-plated numbers screwed to the door, a large brass knocker, a buzzer... ringing, dull ringing... the garden looks pretty and yet neglected, hydrangeas, algae on the damp stone. To the left, a drive to the garage, It's Ealing, but sixty years ago, or more... late February, mid-morning, damp...

Inside, an arm in a knitted cardigan reaches to reposition an ornament on cream-painted wooden shelving...a polished parquet floor, looking back at that front door with a circular, stained-glass window and two smaller windows each side; smell of floor polish, stale kitchen odour, Oxo and butter, manilla envelopes on the window sill; a cough, footsteps on the staircase, a resigned air of loss; coal scuttle, a smile as I look over familiar titles on the bookshelf. Maroon bound tomes. Wireless? R101. Telegram. Memory of a Mediterranean holiday, long ago.

Another smile. Bus to the Broadway. Farnham Common. Staying over with friends during the Blitz. Tape across the windows. Yes, I remember. Ten and six, hire purchase. Empty house today, just me. Sea shells, gathered in my happy childhood. Hmm... Sand Between The Toes – A.A. Milne. Damp pages. Memories, shared with others, common memories, ivy on the vicarage wall, fondness – did I? Another smile.

Another manilla envelope lands on the raffia-work door mat. Indian Civil Service – yes, I know, the old joke, people still out there. Strong people. Ha! Good friends of my parents. Yes, I remember them, playing with their children; sandcastles, Cornwall, Great Western from Paddington, packing cases, tea-chests, holidaying with the others. (Strong, pleasant, familiar feelings). Yes. Others - others who walk these same pavements as me. To the public library, borrow books; yes, and there's three and six pence. Let me see – how much is left? Hmm... more than I thought, but not enough to feel comfortable with. I remember that guest house in Oxford. Some people have telephones you know. Certainly, vernacular. “Can I 'phone Jeremy from here?” “Please – be my guest”. I won't ask how much you pay the Post Office. No, it's about the loss. Too much time spent gazing out of windows, wondering, worrying...

Pot of tea. For one. Look out into the back garden. Crocuses already! How lovely, Mabel. Botanical Gardens – haven't been down to Kew for a while. Maybe I should. Maybe I'll meet – no, silly idea. It's just started to rain again. Will do the garden good; but I wanted a walk. Been in the house alone too long. Galoshes! Yes! And (wicked thought) grand-mama's umbrella! Then a more sober reflection; what good is it now but for what it is - to keep one dry!

But look – the sky's clearing, it is you know; from upstairs I can see shafts of sunlight playing on the steeple of St Stephen's church. Three and six in my purse. Not bad. Can have a fine day out on three and six. Take the 65A down to Kew? I feel better now; there's a plan, there's hope. I stroke my hand, look at my watch. Did I wind it up this morning? Is it time? Buttercups – another memory – staring intently at a single buttercup – the colour, the leathery texture of the shiny yellow petals. Three thirty; yes, it is, it's time. My purse... a florin, a shilling, a thrupenny bit, two pennies, two ha'pennies. House keys. It's difficult, coping with it all, you know...

Mr Parks has just driven off in his car. I've politely suggested to him time and time again that he doesn't leave it overnight outside my house. He has his own garage. He's just being lazy. Barley wine? Don't mind if I do! Should I eat first? Or go out now? And pop into Lyons? Or go to Kew tomorrow? Let's go to Kew tomorrow and spend the afternoon looking through the Illustrated London News. I'm still not feeling right. Still feel there's a lot missing. Not happy, like I was as a child. Yes, I was happy then. Did the sun always shine on my childhood? TEN AND SIX! Two crowns and another florin in the lining of my raincoat.

Mrs Cale suggests that I take up amateur dramatics at Questor's. Tin of paint and do something about the gate at last? Tin of paint out in the garage? Don't go in there often these days. But the larder, mind - garden peas, two tins. Peaches, Ambrosia rice pudding, corned beef. Tins. Jars. Mustard. Pickled onions. Mind racing – clouds scudding across the sky, wind in the chimney, photographs on the mantelpiece. Time to do something. What's on at the pictures? Nothing of note this week, it must be said. Yell. I want to yell at everything! It's so lonely here. No. No must not be ... must not show signs of... hang on, hang on, it's Tuesday, Sunday's a long way away. O God our help in ages past! What to do? The sun shines through the clouds again. I hear a motorcycle in the street outside. Go for a walk? Not raining any more. Is there a rainbow, I wonder. Galoshes, the ground's wet.

Ten and six. Buy some lamb chops - I've got the coupons - greens, potatoes; it's not so cold outdoors, see?.

Michael – you're not reading me correctly. There's too much self-pity in your portrayal of me. I really can be quite bright, and witty, should I choose to be. You visited me on a bad day. Now, that's enough.

This time two years ago:
Free wi-fi in every room?

This time three years ago:
An advanced plan to escape the Hammer of Darkness

This time four years ago:
Poppies and pride

This time five years ago:
Setting sun in the mountains

This time six years ago:
That learning moment

This time seven years ago:
Along the Polish-Czech border

This time eight years ago:
Ul. Poleczki - remember it this way?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...


Michael,

one day in the future, when time is not pressing on us and the fated weather is neutral, let us sit down over a pint of Golden Ale at the Jerusalem Tavern and I can tell you about the automatic writing that dominates my literary output. It is the most powerful pathway that I have been lucky to walk..

Frater Sleep came not near my couch

KrakowJosh said...

Exceptionally vivid word painting - magnificent!

Anonymous said...

Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Very evocative writing.

Korngold