Saturday, 31 October 2009

A Canine Conversation.

The following is an interview that I had with our beloved family member, Penny, the Jack Russell cross. A few years back, we got a Jack Russell cross. Now that is not a very good idea. Darn thing kept nipping at my ankles.
"Hello Penny. Thank you for kindly allowing me to interview you. Anything you would like to mention before I ask you a few questions?" Penny responds: "Hello, yes my name is 'Penny' and I am a Jack Russell. When I say 'Jack Russell', I mean a breed of dog and not to be confused with a certain former England cricketer."
"Thanks Penny. As you are aware, you are a bit of an 'internet star'. Do you enjoy this fame?" Penny replies: "Not 'arf'! But heck, I'm used to fame. I recall, when I was a very young dog, that I was constantly 'hounded' by the 'puppyarazzi'....and those pesky autograph hunters. The number of times they expected me to 'paws', just so I could give them an autograph!"
"Thank you Penny. Now Penny, I would like to try a word association game with you. If I say, 'vacuum cleaner'...Penny? Penny? Whoops, sorry, I forgot you are not exactly best friends with the vacuum. Come on, get out from behind the couch."
"That's a good girl, Penny. You sit there on this couch and we shall continue this interview. Penny, I've noticed that you do not like this time of the year. I get the distinct impression that Halloween and Bonfire Night are not fun times. Seems to me, fireworks equals wet carpet." Penny answers: "I get really scared during this time of year. All those loud bangs and bright flashes make me think that something terrible is going to happen. Why do all those people have to set off those fireworks out in the street? Why can't they go to a controlled display somewhere? It would be much safer, and most likely, much cheaper for them. I wish these people would understand how much it scares a lot of us animals." "Penny, I think you have made some valid points. Thanks for sharing that."
"Penny, I've got just a couple more questions. Would please tell me what's your opinion on cats? Penny responds: "Oh, don't get me started on cats!" Like I mentioned to you before; if the house caught on fire and the smoke alarm wasn't working, I would warn you, whilst 'kitty' would 'eff off' out the catflap. I'm glad we don't have a cat living here. I'd tell it a thing or two."
"Okay Penny. Here is the final question. What do you think would make this world a better place?" Penny says: "We show humans loyalty, love and trust. We pass no judgement. If man could be more like us; this world would be a better place."
"Now I have one question to ask you Gary." "What's that Penny?" "Gary, will I be getting paid for this interview?" "Sure thing Penny. I will give you a 'canine coin'. Here, have a 'dog pound'."

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Well, Here I Am.

Well, here I am. The picture on the left is me as a 'lil' dude'. Yes it's a dude. The centre picture is a fresh-faced me of seventeen, in my high school graduation photograph. The above right picture shows me at the age of fifty-five. I took that picture. The reason I took it, was because I could not get anyone to take my photograph. So apologies for getting a clear view up me old nostrils. I'm really quite shy and would not dare ask a stranger to kindly take a snap of yours truly. Unlike, for example, the smiling Japanese tourists who ask me if I would take a a photo of their happy entourage. No problem there, as I gladly oblige and proceed to run off with their state-of-the-art, all-singing, all-dancing camera. Yes, I'm only joking.
'Lil' dude', that sweet child of innocence, could never have envisioned that his future would be clouded with uncertainty and an overwhelming sense of being stupid. Stupid was ingrained in my mind and thus stupid dominated my thinking process. So, as a fresh-faced teenager, friendly, outgoing and caring; I used my bravado to hide the torment of a tortured soul. I was a young man, consumed with stifling fears of revealing the true magnitude of his stupidity. Thus I took the easy route and underachieved.
Oh, I had goals, dreams, aspirations. When I was ten years old, I wrote a play and sent if off to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I never received a reply but it didn't matter that much to me. I wrote stories. I dreamt that one day I would be a writer. When I was little, the passion to write burnt strongly within me. I thought that when I grew up I would be this really famous author. Ah, I visualised the adoring fans lined up at my numerous book signing sessions. Then my other reality kicked in. Don't waste your time with writing. You are stupid. You've been told this enough times; so I gave in to my 'inner critic' and the relentless voice in my head that screamed, 'don't bother with your goals, your dreams, your aspirations, take the easy way out, underachieve and hide under the duvet.'
Now I am fifty-six. Still scared of revealing to you just how stupid I feel. Yet, despite this, there is another voice in my head that sings, 'challenge yourself, do not allow those who undermined you, to dominate your life. You are better than that.'
Yes, I am mostly a recluse. Yes, I am mostly alone and isolated. The duvet or doorway dilemma is a constant battle. The good news is that I am determined to get out there and be an integral part of that wonderful world that beckons me.
Well, here I am. I am 'lil' dude', I am that fresh-faced teen, I am that fifty-six year old man. What happens next? Well I know this much. I am becoming stronger and more determined to embrace a positive life. Who knows? Maybe, someday, I will have the confidence to submit my writing to a publisher.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Fall For The Fairy Princess.

I watched as the leaves floated down in gentle whirls. Autumn, glorious autumn. A magical time in my magical garden.
The 'wee folks' were at play; frolicking amongst the fallen leaves. With childlike curiosity, I heard them sing, I watched them dance. The beautiful fairy princess and the garden gnome, at peace in the tranquil haven.
Leaf after splendid leaf, fell like splashes of golden flakes. The breeze gently sighed through the waving branches. The remaining birds sang a haunting tune that echoed all around. A tune in perfect melody with the wind chimes and the the cheerful singing of the wee folks. Sweet sounds, sweet music, sweet vision. A celebration of contentment, happiness and harmony. All was right in their world. The world in my magical garden.
We dream, we pray and we hope. We wish for our world to be a happy place. A world where no man passes judgement on his fellow man. A world, where like the world of the wee folks; a garden gnome can fall for the fairy princess and a fairy princess can fall for the garden gnome.

Friday, 16 October 2009

'Method' Writing.

When I write, I become the story. I call it 'method' writing. My thoughts transport me to a place of many and varying themes and emotions. Sadness, laughter, comedy, inspiration, loneliness, isolation and pain. A feeling becomes a story. When I think of sad times; the tears run down my cheeks. When I think of good times; the joy flows, and my fingers type a merry dance upon the keyboard.
Within this man beats the passion of someone who writes for therapy, who writes to make sense of it all, who writes to inspire himself and others. I am but one man, a man who has discovered the power of the written word.
Now, I will immerse myself, take on the sensations that are lingering in the depths of my soul. I sit here and sense my pain. I am sad , I am scared, I am lonely. The bravado I convey to the outside world is nearly shattered. The reality of my isolation comes so very close to battering away the force that is my positive spirit.
I sit here and I cry. I think of a love lost, shattered dreams and ambitions that died a slow and painful death. Why did it have to be this way? Why did I hurt those I care so very much about? The complexities and the self-destructive nature of my past actions have left be bewildered, confused and aching to make things right.
So, I work through what I'm experiencing; as I continue to type away. I know that the tears will subside. I will be cleansed. The healing process, my recovery, remains undaunted by the verbalisation of this moment. For this moment shall pass. I have written this for you and for me to read. I am feeling better.
Today was a lovely day. Autumn is here with its resplendent blaze of coloured leaves. A final splash of glorious colour before the plants and the trees go to sleep for the winter.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Waiting To 'Catch Me Out'?

It is indeed a sad reflection that some people are so cynical that they can interpret kindness as being some part of a devious 'hidden agenda'. 'Why is he being so nice?' 'What's in it for him?'
I have encountered this attitude on numerous occasions. It seems to stem from a trust issue. These people trust nobody. Everybody and everything is treated with suspicion. They have been let down and disrespected. So, to them, all people are waiting for the right time to inflict them with further pain and misery.
Caution is one thing, being constantly bitter, anxious, waiting for the 'dark side' to reveal itself, is another. They wait for that negative inevitability that confirms that they were right. Right, that even the person who is kind, compassionate and caring, has a 'master plan' to take advantage of their vulnerability. So they perceive that even genuine, well-meaning people are just planning to reveal their betrayal at a later time. Genuine, well-meaning people are perceived as being just like the rest.
Yes, I have been disillusioned, betrayed and disrespected. But does that mean I assume that all folks are out to get me? Of course not. For, if all I ever did was keep searching for the bad in people and dismissed the good; then I would find myself trapped in a world of suspicion, bitterness, anger and resentment. The end result? A life overwhelmed with negative speculation.
So they are waiting to 'catch me out'. My kindness treated with suspicion. I believe there is much good in our world. I celebrate, I embrace the spirit of those, who through the test of time, have been there for me, and I, in turn, have been there for them. I do not wait for a hidden agenda. I do not wait to catch them out. For to do so, would destroy the foundations of the trust and faith I have in them.
I have no hidden agenda. I haven't got time to be plotting the demise of others. I'm too busy trying to live my life as best I can. I try to display kindness, caring, compassion and empathy. What's in it for me? To realise that my demeanour has impacted someone in a positive way. If I make them feel good about themselves; then I feel good about myself. If this has been read from a cynical point of view; all I can say is that anger, bitterness and resentment destroys the pure heart that beats within. Look for the good. Seek and yee shall find.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Bringing The Colour Back.

My son has lived with me since he was twelve. My son, 'my little boy', is almost twenty-one. As a single dad challenging his mental health concerns and trying to be a good father; it has not always been easy. Yet, the responsibilities of raising my child has been very much the catalyst that enabled me to be strong for him, be strong for me.
Like any other parent, it has not always been a happy and blissful relationship. During those times I could have really used the input of a partner to back me up. No doubt, during our times of conflict, my son would have benefited from the opinion of a third party. Still, eventually, we work it out and our differences are resolved. Ah, the life of a single dad and his little boy who is now a young man. I have tried to instil in him that he should always try to maintain an air of dignity and use diplomatic assertiveness in his encounters with the outside world. I told him that when he signed on for benefits that he must realise that those in the Job Centre have more than likely had their fair share of unruly, unreasonable customers. "Son", I said, "if you go there with a calm, pleasant demeanour, you should notice a more positive outcome."
After much hassle, he finally got his benefits. What this entailed was for him to travel in on the bus every two weeks to sign on. One morning, about a month ago, he left the house in plenty of time to go on the bus and sign on. Unfortunately, due to road works, the bus got to his destination late. When he went to sign on, he was ten minutes late. Instead of making allowances for this, the people at the Job Centre told him, in an apparently dismissive manner, that he would have to come back several hours later that day. So instead of hanging around for several hours, wandering the streets of Stoke on Trent, he came home. Upon his repeat trip on the bus, when he arrived, to finally sign on, he was handed a written warning for being late that morning. The situation that occurred is hardly conducive to creating a positive environment. My son, already struggling with the fact he had lost his job, did not deserve this. Indeed, nobody deserves this type of treatment.
Yes, these have indeed been some tough, challenging times. For quite some time, his bedroom has been in need of a fresh coat of paint. The room had become dull and lifeless. Perhaps a fresh, bright coat of paint would do the trick.
I managed to persuade him to come with me to the 'DIY' shop and purchase some tins of paint. At last, a positive focus.
I will now conclude this posting on a very positive note. His friends have realised that there bubbly, lively mate had been down for quite some time. So his friends, his true friends, friends who have been there for each other, through the good times and the bad times; rallied round and came over to help him paint his bedroom. How heart warming, how inspirational. Heck, even his dog, Penny, wanted to be a part of the action.
So by bringing the colour back to a dull and dreary room, may just be of some help. Help to move on from the dark and gloomy times that have surrounded his life.
To my son, my 'little boy', my young man, Tristan; "You're going to be okay. Your dad loves you and the power of positive thinking will find a way."