Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
The latest book is called ...a fleeting glimpse... published June 2014. It is available on Amazon.com and iTunes.
When I started writing it 20 years ago i was reading a lot of self-help books and came up with the idea of what would happen if I wrote one as a joke. Shortly after, the film 'Pulp Fiction' came out and I loved the idea of the circular style of the narrative. I sort of combined the two and went from there.
I wrote my first poem at age 7 and as a teenager started writing lyrics. I knew I wanted to be a writer after reading 'Ulysses'.
Oh, great! I got started at a very young age as well.
Do you have any favorite authors?
Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Pynchon, Patrick White, Peter Carey.
Normally on the train going to and from work.
Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?
Don't give up, don't write for money or any particular audience. Writing is not a marketing exercise.
Readers, here is the blurb for ....a fleeting glimpse...
...a fleeting glimpse... depicts the inner most thoughts of Terence 'Teddy' Thorpe, a struggling writer, deconstructing the way in which his mind perceives reality. Disillusioned with life, Teddy, records his thoughts and dreams in a journal that is originally intended to be a parody of a self-help book. Along the journey he develops the idea of the journal becoming a tool to deconstruct and re-build the separation between the observer and external reality. Through the process of writing his journal, Teddy recounts many experiences, including a whole chapter on his childhood. Many of these childhood images are re-lived and edited to soothe emotionally charged moments of the present and past.
Teddy's journal takes aim at money, politics and religion, as he sees them as the pillars of western decay. Teddy creates a character in his journal based on a childhood friend who died tragically. Through this character, Teddy exorcises not only the pain and suffering felt through losing a childhood friend but also the pain experienced living in an indifferent Universe. Teddy is despondent with his life, restless and frustrated for not having any work published, so his parody of a self-help book is a means to demonize the shallow and unrealistic offerings of self-help authors and as a way of making a quick buck.
Teddy meets Nikki Preston, a corporate career woman. Their relationship enables them to see the world through each other's eyes. Nikki, in her own way, is also at a crossroads. Disenchanted with her increasing workload and her tyrannical money orientated bosses, she starts to question her own motives and needs. They share a bizarre ESP or incident that draws them in together. They embark on a love affair which changes them both.
As Teddy continues his research he starts to think more deeply about the themes of modern life, in particular, money, politics and religion and begins to write his musings down. Soon his self-obsessed and narcissistic personality comes to the fore and he writes and writes in a cathartic but also deconstructive manner, taking apart the very foundations of thought, until he is left with only the sound of the intergalactic wind as his only solace. This becomes the metaphor for which he judges reality, for Teddy discovers that the only inescapable truth is - that which is without human perception.
The tone of the novel is tongue in cheek, and at times 'black' in humor. There are references to other literary works, music and art. In some respects my intention was to pay homage to works like 'The Tree of Man', 'Illywhacker' and 'Ulysses' but to also write an anti-novel - or antithesis - of a modern novel while at the same time paying tribute to the literary masters I have grown up with and love. Although there are dark elements to the novel ultimately the final message is of hope and renewal. The final stylistic element that epitomizes the cyclic nature of the Universe is the last line of the novel flowing into the first line...
Here is an excerpt.
His suitcase was jammed packed with books. He sat on his bunk watching the mountains get closer and closer. He had his journal alongside him with a few notes scribbled in the margin. Teddy hoped the train journey to Howth Cove would inspire his characters to conquer the creative plateau he had set up.
He was stuck. How do you resolve the Universe without human perception or involvement? Teddy had lost the whatever-it-takes attitude that had bridged his previous creative lapses.
Maybe I haven’t accepted his death in the way I should have. Teddy doodled in his journal as he thought about the days ahead.
or at never towards the Sun
lettering at will inwards at yourself
sitting at wall and blowing a trumpet.
Never at Saturday belonging on Mars
psyching your day for easter water
filling the crisis with colours of old
Exploding a fragment now it is
forever ice cream in a yellow
vacuums are nice and temperature
Rising a volume of seventy mountain
training a week to eat like coat
yesterday unanswered within the beat
Never unveiling the door in a secret
saying your likes as if sweet
putting on bikes under the house
In the plight with your nice
asking about stalking at night
confused at night below altitude.
Teddy knew he would have to appear on top of things for the duration of the visit. There would be relatives to handle, the funeral to endure and the wake to organize.
The surfacing of the drinks trolley made for a timely distraction to his draining ruminations. Teddy watched the afternoon slide into semi-darkness with a collection of miniature Jameson whiskey bottles lined up on his cabin table. The shrill of the dinner bell reminded Teddy of Swann appearing at the gate for afternoon tea. Teddy approached the dining car with trepidation and entered with a stranger’s compulsion.
‘I don’t understand why we must all sit together.’
Teddy was seated, under much protest, at a table set for four people - I would, and suspect they would too, be much happier dining alone.
A menu was placed on the table with no comment. He tried to contain a potentially nasty scene of obsessive behavior. A mixture of claustrophobia, anger and depression was on the verge of parachuting out and over the dining car.
After taking his order of roast chicken, spiced couscous and baked vegetables, the attendant invited an elderly couple to join Teddy at the table. Teddy relented his static attitude and issued a forced smile.
He asked for his Toby jug to be refilled with water for the whiskey. Three sets of eyes focused on the place mats. Each one had a different railway journey of the world printed on them. Teddy stared at the Ottawa to Anchorage route while the elderly man and woman contemplated Cape Town to Mozambique and Ho Chi Minh City to Rangoon.
Teddy thought he heard the woman say something to the man but when he looked up they were both staring in different directions. The attendant arrived with their cutlery and the jug of water. Teddy couldn’t remember the couple ordering. He stared out the window while placing his copy of ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ on the windowsill.
Teddy started tapping the melody to King of Pain with his fingers. In the reflection of the window Teddy saw the man pointing to his book while whispering something to the woman. I’ve got a whole speech ready for them, thought Teddy.
He continued to watch the passing countryside. The shadows were getting longer as the train neared the mountains. Teddy estimated they would reach Clarendon after dinner, then it would take most of the night to zig-zag up Mt. St. Thomas before reaching Howth Cove early tomorrow morning.
Another attendant arrived with their meals. To Teddy’s surprise all three meals were identical even down to the shape and number of potatoes. They look like twins, Teddy thought as he took the opportunity to catch a closer look at the couple.
Teddy smeared some baked pumpkin over a slice of chicken. Out of the corner of his eye, in the reflection of the window, to his horror the couple had done exactly the same thing. They stared back at him with eyes that stung with menace.
‘Those books won’t do you any good, you know,’ the old man’s voice was dry and croaky. ‘Not in the long run.’
Teddy looked again in the window to see the man’s face enlarged only inches away from his. His breath smelt like wet ashes. His eyes were bloodshot and a single strand of chicken meat dangled between his front teeth.
Teddy sought refuge by turning to face them. He saw the two of them quietly eating their meals as if nothing had happened. Teddy closed his eyes and tried to remember an affirmation. The old man’s voice intruded again.
‘It would serve you better to take responsibility for your own life instead of reading about other people’s experiences.’
Teddy looked at the book on the windowsill. He was shocked to see a small crimson volume instead of Kirosaki’s book. On the cover was printed,
‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!
…the struggle never gets easier...
Teddy was now beyond panic. All his fears had amalgamated to form a new beast with as yet no name. The image of a wizard stirring molten lead entered his mind. A tray fell from the grasp of an attendant who let out a high pitched scream which flung Teddy hard up against the back of the booth.
Teddy opened his eyes to find himself sitting alone. An attendant arrived at the next table with a plate of roast chicken, spiced couscous and baked vegetables. Teddy looked down at his half eaten meal of cured ocean trout and steamed Chinese vegetables.
‘Excuse me,’ asked Teddy rather sheepishly. ‘Did you happen to see an elderly couple sitting here before?’
‘No I didn’t.’
The young woman looked up and down the aisle. She placed a jug of water on the table and held a tray to her chest. The attendant looked puzzled but as Teddy had resumed eating his meal she turned around and walked back to the kitchen. As she opened the swinging doors she felt a breeze flow past her and with it the sensual aroma of fresh limes and mangoes. She blushed as a soft warm erotic wave washed over her.
At the same time Teddy was daydreaming watching the landscape transform into a lush tropical lagoon. He was standing with Nikki under a waterfall washing each other with handfuls of fresh limes and mangoes.
Later in his berth, before going to sleep, Teddy scribbled down some notes. Money had become his obsession. Teddy was now convinced that abolishing money was the answer to eradicating every problem humans faced.
‘True freedom rests in pursuing the most direct course of action. As soon as you let an accountant onto the dance floor all creativity and a sense of adventure vanishes. Making money to make money. Wealth should be a self-development issue not an economic one. Roster the public utilities. Drive around in a Porsche while drinking Belgian beer and listening to Bud Powell.’
In the morning, terracotta pots filled with azaleas, geraniums and dwarfed citrus trees awaited his arrival on the platform. Nobody collected his ticket at the gate so he threw the stub into the bin. That was a waste of money, Teddy thought as he walked out of the station.
In front of him stood ‘The Gate’, a curved archway that welcomed visitors to the ‘Esplanade’, the focal point of Howth Cove in the summer time. The seaside township of Howth Cove was a haven for those from the industrialized south wanting to escape the drudgery of medium density villa estates. A place where children could buy quaint colored glass jars filled with all day suckers; fruit jubes and Howth Cove’s speciality, rainbow colored musk sticks.
Teddy waited, as per his instructions, near the village bus stop where brightly coloured Leyland coaches departed every hour to places like Westland Marsh, Usher Inlet, Ormonde Quays and Ashwin Hall.
Teddy's stomach was in dire need of something else other than his breakfast of Dutch Speculas and diet cola. An image of the Brazen Head hotel’s ploughman’s lunch entered his mind. A long warm caraway seed loaf, lashings of cold roast beef, creamed goat’s cheese, large green olives marinated in garlic, fried Spanish onions, bell peppers, Parma ham, braised backstrap of lamb, thin strips of venison, hot mustard pickles, a tablespoon of quince jelly, corn and asparagus relish all washed down with a pint or two of Speare’s Regal dark ale, a preservative free brew concocted on the premises with an alcohol volume of 9.2% with a heavy lingering after taste of three-spice, cashew and molasses.
As Teddy salivated over brunch, he spotted the ‘old bomb’ entering the car park. He was glad to see the old Humber still in action, but was soon puzzled regarding the identity of the driver. Teddy shielded his eyes as the black saloon lumbered up the incline towards the station. He noticed the driver wearing a silver cloth cap.
‘I’m going to have some fun,’ Teddy said as he approached the stationary vehicle, ‘Hi there.’ The driver looked up in surprise.
‘Nice car you’ve got there,’ Teddy announced.
‘Sure is,’ came the casual reply, ‘They don’t make them like this anymore.’
‘That’s funny, that’s exactly what my father said when we bought it.’ Teddy didn’t have to wait long for the penny to drop.
‘Hello Mister Thorpe,’ his voice quivered slightly, ‘I wasn’t expecting the train for at least another half hour.’
Teddy cut in with. ‘Is that so?’
‘Your mother wasn’t well enough to drive.’
Teddy walked towards the rear of the vehicle and waited for the boot to be unlocked.
‘She hired me to…’
He scrambled out of the car fumbling his keys and dropping a tobacco pouch which had been concealed on his lap. Teddy studied the features of the stranger’s face while handing over his bags. He wasn’t sure what annoyed him more; that he had been unable to prolong the situation to his advantage or that the suspense of having to meet his mother had been further delayed.
‘You mentioned that she wasn’t well?’
The driver placed a gloved hand on the massive black boot.
‘That’s right, she is still very distraught over your father. May I offer my sincere condolences? From all accounts he was a very well respected man.’
‘Still is,’ answered Teddy as he entered the spacious cabin soaked in leather and walnut trim. As the car merged slowly into the traffic, Teddy was unable to separate his feelings of frustration, resentment and anxiety and so formed a new hybrid that remained nameless.
Teddy knew the road to Howth Cove well and was amazed to see the extent of the development in the area. For at least twenty minutes not a word was spoken in the car. Teddy viewed the idea of his mother having a driver as pure theatre.
A highly distasteful vaudevillian stunt to further enhance her dying swan routine, he thought.
At the driveway to ‘Seascape Towers’, Teddy looked to the heavens to watch the clouds pass over the building as if it were teetering on the brink.
‘I’ll bring the bags up sir,’ said the driver.
‘That won’t be necessary.’ answered Teddy.
Edgar and Sheila had purchased a top floor apartment with the proceeds of the farm. Teddy had unsuccessfully tried to dissuade them from purchasing in this playground-of-mediocrity.
As he entered the foyer a sense of dread enveloped him. He passed the gym, sauna and café near the pool and made his way to the elevators. On the seventh floor the lift doors opened to reveal a white marbled floor with a long table under a mirror on the opposing wall. Teddy walked to the door of his parent’s apartment and pressed the buzzer.
‘Is that you Terence?’ His mother’s voice sounded distant almost foreign via the intercom.
‘No it’s the archangel Gabriel,’ he said.
The door opened, Teddy picked up his bags and walked in past two ceramic elephants onto a giant rug where he contemplated, for a moment, taking off his shoes. Sitting on a cane lounge overlooking a table covered with photos was an old woman who vaguely resembled his mother. She looked up with a half-baked smile.
‘There you are my darling. I’ve waited so long for you to arrive.’
Teddy saw a silver tea service filled with scones, Madeira cake, jam, butter, sandwiches and pots of tea. It looks too staged for my liking.
Teddy’s flesh crawled at the sight of his mother sitting alone surrounded by food in some macabre ‘Miss Havisham’ tea ceremony for the dead.
Maybe it was her that died and Edgar is trapped in a cupboard.
With unsteady hands she held aloft a single porcelain teacup with no saucer. Teddy retreated as his mother prattled on.
‘Oh my God Terence,’ Sheila’s voice was wet with phlegm, ‘What will become of us?’
Teddy held back, not knowing whether to kneel down before her or offer a handkerchief. Teddy edged closer half expecting to see the pale ashen face of Proust’s grandmother.
Another round of sobs and sniffling with her head dramatically cradled in her hands. Teddy entertained the possibility that he had entered a scene from the cutting room floor of 2001, A Space Odyssey.
His voice left him and the words never came back. Colors dripped aglow with the clarity of blood, life and death. She looked up expecting him to be on the other side. She rose from the chair, her frail frame hunched over; affecting him more than any tear. His mother walked towards him. Her eyes held no color. The room faded to grey. She held him by the forearms and raised her lips to his cheek. He thought he could smell something old and acidic. A smell he could never imagine associating with his mother. She repulsed him as nothing had ever done before. She smelt like she hadn’t washed for days and all of a sudden she became death.
‘Sit down, you’ll tire yourself out. I had no idea you were in such a state. I didn’t know what had happened when you weren’t there to pick me up. That driver, who is he?’ he said.
The light returned to Sheila’s eyes.
‘Thomas has been such a savior to me. He’s been wonderful. Your father would have liked him,’ Sheila’s voice pitched and rolled with no helmsman on board. Teddy refrained from pursuing the matter any further.
‘I miss him too but I never thought you would be like this,’ his voice stabbed at her wound. Tears streamed down her face.
‘How can you talk to me like that? I loved your father for over forty years. I slaved and worshipped him. He was your father for God’s sake.’
Teddy was stunned, like a Dali sparrow wondering why all the clocks were melting. He felt tired and removed from his emotions. Then as if on cue, a familiar ally arrived. Like a returning exile, his anger launched at his protagonist like Lord Larry’s Othello.
‘You spent your life belittling and ridiculing him. His life was a misery. When he did raise the courage to confront you he was met with either silence or was crushed by sarcastic condescension. He died a lonely old man who’d had the love driven out of him by your callous indifference.’
Teddy walked to the balcony and looked out towards the ocean. He was dripping with sweat and shaking with adrenaline.
‘You ungrateful arrogant little man!’
How quickly the Universe realigns itself, Teddy thought.
‘You never saw what I lived through. You never appreciated the life I had to live. I gave up everything to follow your father to the back of beyond. Both of you, always the same. You’ll never amount to much, you and your stupid writing. Your stupid dreams and your stupid games. That’s right. I know. I’m not as stupid as you think I am. I wish I’d never had you or met your father. His family were all the same, worthless inbreds with no use for anyone, now get out of here. I never want to see you again and don’t think for a minute you will ever see one penny from me.’
Teddy turned to walk away but something gnawed at him. She’s fired her best shot and I’m still standing. She peaked too early. Teddy was about to deliver return fire, when the emotional tide he’d been riding came up against an internal protective wall. Wave after wave of suppressed energy poured over him and dissipated. Years of psychological warfare began to pack up camp and move on. They stood staring at each other, both exhausted and neither any closer to victory.
‘It’s a relief to finally hear your true feelings,’ Teddy said. ‘You can’t blame anyone else for the choices you made. You made yours as did I and now we’re stuck with the consequences. At least I’m trying to face my demons. Dad never had a fighting chance. I’ll admit he could be a ‘goofball’, he had no common sense, he wasn’t smart, he wasn’t even that likeable half the time, but you know what? He loved me. He would tell me when I was little. Christ! He even defended you when you went ballistic. He would grab me by the hand and take me down to the river to try and explain your raging torrents. He would lie to me, saying everything was going to be okay, when we both knew it wasn’t. He told me stories about old Dublin, the butterflies in Phoenix Park, the docks where his father had worked. He told me you were sick and that you couldn’t remember the beatings you gave me. You are sick, but you know what? You infected yourself…’
Teddy’s voice trailed off. He was approaching critical mass. Had he gone too far? Any impact was now lost on his imploding mother. Without any clear direction in mind, Teddy left the apartment without any anger or excitement. Instead a heavy cloak of resignation descended over him. Physical action seemed a necessary requirement while his thoughts weighed up the options.
The apartment towers were on the northern edge of the Marina. A section of the main road had been closed off to create a mall, which included a ‘Galleria’ of shops, restaurants and small businesses.
Teddy looked for an exit as well as the ultimate solution. He traced a path with his eyes along the foreshore as a steady stream of holidaymakers negotiated the chicanes and paved pedestrian crossings along the promenade.
He walked past an enclosed children’s recreational facility, which looked more like an SAS training compound, towards a small grassed area where children were feeding pelicans.
His thoughts landed with a full under carriage. He climbed a small steel fence and headed for the beach. His boots ground out a squeaky trail on the fine white sand. Head down he mapped out a plan. The sand flayed to each side of his boots, trudging into soft piles.
‘A view of the Universe without human involvement may still be just a perception and not the whole thing itself. Maybe the Universe only looks like it’s expanding. What if our observations are only as accurate as our perception allows them to be? So far the debate has concentrated on whether God created the Universe or whether a Big Bang occurred. Maybe there are other scenarios we aren’t aware of yet?
The question whether God created anything is largely irrelevant. Religion would have us believe that the Big Bang theory has been mistaken for the word of God. How would a tribe five thousand years ago know more than we would today? How convenient is it that the creationist stories were written at a time when religious power struggles started?
Our knowledge of the Universe undermines the assumption that a supreme being must have created everything at a point in time which places limits on that power to occupy a place in time, or in other words, where did God stand to create the Universe?
We don’t know, may never know how the Universe was created, but do we need to know? The Big Bang may have been just one in a series of Big Bangs. When finite and infinite mean the same thing, maybe a singularity is only a perception of what we can see. Remember the shadow of an aeroplane analogy. Maybe the Universe will continue to expand forever or maybe it just looks that way.
With a different perception the Big Bang may look like something else. The expanding Universe postulate has no bearing on the idea that the Universe was created by God. God or no God, it doesn’t matter. The fact that the Universe is expanding doesn’t prove anything one way or the other. The reason God exists has more to do with religions controlling information back when it was scary looking up at the night sky not knowing what the hell was going on.
Teddy walked along the curved line where the sand digested the water. A miniature geodesic that carried him around the concave side of the lagoon.
‘No more money. Nothing to cloud the issue of living. No more regulated systems. No more logos, no more airlines, no more advertising, no more brand names, no more profiteering, no more mini-hamburgers, no more twenty kinds of strawberry ice-cream, no more guns, no more drugs, no more hunger, no more over-population, no need for corporations, private hospitals or taxes. All the symptoms of profit would disappear. People to be shown that life is worthwhile without the almighty dollar.
Next mission would be to re-distribute the world’s resources to the hundreds of millions that don’t have a fighting chance. Global health care on a scale never dreamed of. Remember nobody wins unless everyone wins. You can’t possible enjoy that lobster mornay after seeing a nine month old girl die of starvation in her mother’s arms. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault, just makes the taste of victory all that more bitter sweet.
Massive re-education for all that believe that a square mile of dirt is worth fighting for. Borders only exist in the mind not on the Earth. React not with violence but with the charm and concern for illuminating the path for all. The fact that we all die renders us all equal. Hording millions of dollars while children die is not a real victory no matter who lit the first fire.
The next person’s happiness is not dependent on our own, but nobody is more important. Get rid of royalty and privilege and share the spoils. What’s the use of a palace if it only accommodates a dozen people? What use is a ruby encrusted sceptre when people are dying of hunger?’
Teddy knew he had to go back at some stage. Reality hung over him like a vulture. The carcass of his life lay rotting with decay in the heat.
‘How easy to end it all. The payoff to end the torture. An act of violence to pass over into that supposed afterworld. When anguish overcomes the threat of physical pain. In full flight with the celestial winds howling above, how would I do it? A gun? A knife? Pills? With the sky blue indent of a silent way and the silky soft sand with tantamount seashells in vibrant distress of harmonic disposition, I ready myself for the ultimate apocalyptic resolution. Bang! Then it’s done, but wait suicide is only a symptom of a transitory ailment. How many deeds have been done without the foresight of psychological R&R. Very romantic, but cowardly to a tee. A stupendous drive off the seventeenth but the championship isn’t won until the last putt of the next hole.’
Everything that entered his sphere of perception irritated like a loose pebble in a sandal. As Teddy looked over the deserted beach he actualized the remoteness of his life. The disconnection from events that people built lives around. Then it hit him. Like a re-occurring dream.
‘It’s okay to live with impurity. Perfection is an illusion. Nothing is as driven as the pure snow. For what is the alternative? To kill oneself because of mediocrity? Where do you draw the line? Who possesses the magic formula? All questions are an illusion, as they promise so much yet deliver so little. What if agoraphobia was a reaction to being exposed to the mediocrity outside? What if I’m comforted by checking the hotplates ten times a night? Why is it wrong to be distressed by the plight of thirty thousand children dying of starvation each day? Can I not scream into my pillow every night? Who cares if I’m terrified of drowning? What if depression was a reaction against the politeness of pretending that anything mattered?’
With his back to humanity Teddy took in the great expanse of water in front of him. To purge himself of his own inadequacy he breathed in the desire and commitment to accept who he was and where he was without judgement, excuses or unforgiveness. Without abdicating his responsibilities he permitted himself to live through everything his mind conjured. For it was through the extremes and depth of his caprice that kept him interested in exploring his cynosure. The words came to him on a platter of raw unadulterated honesty.
‘I’m not as smart as I’d like to think I am.’
To the people walking along the promenade, Teddy looked like anyone else on holiday. The only aspect that might have distinguished him from the crowd was his state of complete rest.
He stood as motionless as Chia Siew Pang beginning Yang form. He hid from view a mental state of great inner turmoil. His view of the world was being held up for examination. Accountability had not been high on the agenda. He stood up to be investigated and discovered there was only the inconsequentiality of his thoughts.
‘I have a long way to go to be content with who I am. The further I travel the further away my destination seems. I know it’s the journey that is important, but I just can’t stop wishing I’d get there sooner.’
‘The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.’
Teddy knew as soon as he thought, truth would evaporate. Teddy felt the reality of it but not just an intellectual understanding of the cyclic and illusory nature of all things. Truth is what actually happens, not what we perceive it to be.
Teddy headed back to the apartment. I don’t have to love her and I certainly don’t have to pretend to like her but I must accept her right to live as she pleases. I must continue to write and not blame her for my life. My journey is mine. She can’t take the blame for my choices. The Universe is as much hers as it is mine.
At the moment those words entered Teddy’s mind, an overwhelming depression thundered across his internal landscape. Edgar’s face transmuted into a single picture of death. His father’s life had come and gone without any acknowledgment from the Universe. Without even a hiccup from the framework of time, Teddy had to accept his parents had lived a life separate to his. His arrival merely changed the dynamic between them. He would have to accept his mother’s grief was real.
The elevator opened to reveal the same darkened foyer and cold marble floor. Other furnishings came to his attention, including many pieces from the farm he hadn’t recognized before. Teddy found it difficult to accept his father had lived here at all.
‘Terence is that you?’ Sheila’s voice filled the apartment.
‘Come here where I can see you.’ After considering his options, Teddy walked confidently into the study.
‘Look here, I haven’t come all this way to ruin Dad’s funeral, but if you want to create another scene, then fine, but I’m warning you, I’m not prepared to back down without a fight.’
‘Stop behaving like a child Terence and hand me that address book, there on the bureau. We have far too much to do. Tonight I want you to ring your Aunt Marjorie. She can’t stay here, so you’ll have to find her a place. Not near the marina, I can’t afford those exorbitant prices. She can stay in the village or out on the highway, near the cemetery.’
Teddy was spoken to according to how Sheila saw fit. Her voice skipped down through the years back to when he was a child.
‘You’ll have to sleep in here because the spare room is full of your father’s belongings.’
‘What belongings?’ Teddy asked.
‘I had to clean and separate everything for the Salvation Army.’ Teddy couldn’t believe his ears.
‘You’re not getting rid of anything until I take a look first.’
Being in the presence of his mother, Teddy couldn’t isolate the appropriate tone, so he ended up sounding persecuted and petulant.
‘You don’t expect me to live with all that junk, do you?’ Sheila remonstrated.
Teddy stood up shaking his head. ‘You just don’t get it, do you?’
With the apartment now kept purposely dark, the home she had made was now a shrine to the past. A mausoleum with none of the character of the farm. This was a home for people to view life as a perception of an idea that had never occurred.
That their lives would have been so much better if they hadn’t met each other, was of course pure folly on Teddy’s part. They had met, and even if found guilty of forcing a square peg into a round hole, Edgar’s death had released all three of them from the pantomime.
‘Why don’t you go upstairs and calm down?’ Her voice was too close for comfort. Teddy held his breath and waited for his blood to settle. You’re only tiring yourself out,’ she added.
Teddy watched the day he saw his father buried with a reluctant detachment. On the way to the cemetery he sat in the back of the Humber next to Sheila.
By evening he would be on a train home not knowing when he may return. The previous night he had stood in the spare bedroom surrounded by his father’s possessions, studying the remnants of a life that had eluded him. The man who had been so near created little impact save for the impassive melancholy people sometimes attribute to the wane of the moon, or the ebb of a tide. Teddy looked out the car window at the racecourse which sat between the lake and the cemetery.
‘Dad would have liked this. Having a bet while the Hudson‘38’s tacked their way across ‘Packard’s Lament.’ I can see him in the betting ring watching the bookie’s frame their markets.’
As they turned off the main road Teddy read the sign at the entrance to the racecourse, June 16 Grand Oaks Day. As they drove up the hill on a narrow lane, Golden Ash trees lined their passage. The cemetery looked as happy as a postcard with its closely cropped lawns, white gravel borders and the organised rows of gravestones. A tarpaulin of green canvas bowed slightly in the breeze as the convoy of three cars approached. A dozen or so people awaited them.
Teddy played with extremes. Immense sadness interplayed with a reserved stony wall of silence. The priest stood to deliver the solace that only the tradition of a thousand years of stupidity can deliver. Teddy fixated on the open grave. He reached out to touch the casket in a Daliesque embrace of suspended grace. Sheila wailed crocodile tears while being comforted by relatives Teddy hardly knew or recognized. Red roses are scattered on the coffin lid. Assistants place a green carpet across the perforated seam of earth.
…so undignified, lashed to the mast, the horror of past voyages tempting man’s greed for discovery; of what? New lands or himself. The tainted call of a whoric fantasy dressed in the drapes of Athena, a convoluted severance of distinction. An orifice of deliverance impatient with occluded obstipation...
‘The ineluctable modality of the invisible, wrote Joyce.’
Teddy held one or two private thoughts, as Edgar Thorpe was lowered via two wide synthetic belts cradled by two cold reflective disinterested chrome support beams. Teddy viewed his father’s last journey.
‘Remarkable how death anoints those who remain with grandeur not forthcoming whilst the scenarios of life are played out.’
The lush hillside was in stark contrast to the absence of life below the ground. Teddy watched the rest of the day his father left the world slip away. For a long time he remained, unattached to his nostalgic dreamscapes where all sorts of grief retarded emblems, memories and images surfaced.
…walking the dogs and kicking a West Ham ball with the names of Brooking, Day and Bonds green smudged. The black and white hexagons, victims of a thousand kicks. Sitting on the edge of a two sided coin waiting for a decision. The life that I want versus the life that I have. No apologies for the scant regard. Wrestling with the disconnected view of a reality with no human involvement. Movements like an upturned whale after the Christmas adrenaline rush had subsided. Listening to Catalani. Color TV and current affairs. Watching the washing dry. Gentle surges. Learning to drive the Morris 1100 in the driveway. Grandma raising four children on the farm after her first husband’s stroke left him in the old lounge chair out the back near the dead Indian motorbike. The sacrifices. Living on a pound a month. Having no other clothes than those she made. The pain and the glory evoked over the smallest of life’s oscillations. A hand made Easter card. A new goose chick, a tank full of rain. How similar now, those traits of ridicule, making her seem inconsequential with bouts of silence over a fifth of gin. Aunts and cousins watching and waiting from afar...
‘Nobody will ever know what I went through.’ Sheila rested her head on the shoulder of aunt Marjorie, a plump and evil looking woman, whom to Teddy’s surprise had over the years been one of his admirers. Later on she cornered him in the kitchen while she constructed a corned silverside and cabbage sandwich.
‘Your uncle Herbert was a writer.’ Her large duck shaped face crept around her skull with eyebrows twitching and her upper lip quivering.
‘He had a large collection of leather bound books, all with gold embroidery. The Masterpiece Collection, I think it was called. His favorite was that skinny little Englishman, you know, the one with the beady eyes.’
Teddy tried to remember names of skinny little English writers with beady eyes. He looked at her hands squeezing the block of pink grey meat in between two crusts. She dipped her knife so far into the mustard relish that a piece of cauliflower escaped over the rim of the recycled coffee jar.
Goodbyes were short and sweet that night. There was no mention of inheritance or any proposed relocation from Sheila. As the train pulled away, Teddy sensed it would be a long time, if ever, before he returned.
On the journey home he read The Guermantes Way. He had lost count of the times he had held the Moncrieff volume. Teddy had spent years approaching it from different angles, reading passages over and over for days, a single sentence, wondering what it would be like in the original French.
At times he had become so obsessed that his world had been immersed in all things French. Pernod the drink of the day, a Burgundy would accompany dinner, followed by a Bunuel or Cocteau film then later on a dream of Deneuve bathing with Beart listening to Debussy or Boulez.
Teddy could only bask in the magnificence of Proust’s achievement. He wallowed in its audacious and mind-numbing dense prose. The heartbreaker for Teddy was that Proust never saw his creation published in full. Teddy feels a kinship with Proust regarding the memories of childhood abandonment.
Teddy decides to awaken from his slumber of self-pity to live a life at all costs no matter what the price, so that, What if it Happens? becomes a journey for Teddy, not a destination.
Miles impressed a primary school teacher with a poem titled 'Snow' and then in his late teens won a school poetry competition. When the band Talking Heads released 'Remain In Light', Miles became obsessed with writing lyrics. After reading Joyce's 'Ulysses', Miles knew he wanted to become an author.
Miles is the proud father of Alexandra and Tristan. Miles other interests are music, sport and going to the beach. He quite often pretends to know a lot about wine. Miles and the children like going on holidays, especially the South Coast of NSW. Miles ranks making Spike Milligan laugh at an ABC shop book signing as one of his greatest personal moments.
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Miles-Rothwell/e/B00JFKRVJ4/