Author Archives: eliasdbradshaw

Day 28

Day 27 – Rejecting the Rabbit

I am exhausted and writing to you today is difficult. I need to be open and honest with you about that. There is something I’d like to show you. It is something I wrote last year and deals with the  feelings of displacement.

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“You’re not from around here are you?” they say. We know the phrase from television and film. It has become a catch all idiom which becomes the small town, village, or allotment. I hear it a lot and I will go into that later. What does it say about me? Or rather what does it say about them? “You’re not from around here?” implies a paradigm, a character of “Here”. What is “Here”? What does it represent…”Here”? They have an idea of “Here” which is not you. You do not fit. Ask them what it is to be from “Here” and they will be hard pressed to give you an answer, but they can tell you what it is not. It is not punks or poofs, posh boys or waifs, independent thought and revolutionary ideas, don’t stand out from the crowd and keep in line. Is it as bad as this? No, it is so much simpler; “Here” is known, safe. To be inquisitive of strangers is the most guttural expression of humanity; the great survival of the fittest. “Is he friend or foe?”. “Let’s find out” they collectively breathe. This is us at our most human and at our worst.

In times gone by a small group, village or family would defend their land or die, because land meant food. “But that is defensible. Why shouldn’t you protect your land and food and fight to survive?” To that I answer, What happens when you have more food than you need? Do you give it away? Doubtful. Do you sell it or trade? Most likely. And this is how we got ourselves into the mess we are in now. Commerce. The have’s and the have not’s, men shackled to industry, poverty and privilege. It all start here. “Here” is my bit of land.

And what of me? Am I from Here? No, never have been. “Here” is a place you are tied to by family or geography, by choice or opportunity, or lack of thereof, perhaps. I do not know the “Here” that they speak of. They are not part of me as much as i am part of them. This has been written of many times and repeated often by those of us also not from “Here”. To know no boundary whether by race, religion, sex or denomination, by country, creed, politic or philosophy. I have no land to defend, and what I have I share freely. “I” ideologically, he smirks…”Not that, that’s mine!” Human you see. All too human.

Day 25

Day 25 – Chasing yourself down a rabbit hole

Rabbit

 If I was to venture down the rabbit hole I could probably venture that the incident with my father did have significant consequences. I know that I did not feel loved as a child and wonder if something didn’t start there. Shunning physical contact with my parents for fear of reprisals left me feeling emotionally distant, unloved and betrayed. I can remember a few years later that my dad had asked me to go to the shops with him. I don’t remember feeling that this was unusual at the time but thinking about it now it was unusual as my mum did the shopping. When we got to the end of the street there was a car parked and a bloke shouted out “Want a lift?”, I didn’t recognise the man but my Dad introduced him and they appeared to be friends. My dad  said yes to the lift and told me to get in the back of the car and opened the door for me. I remember I was very scared to get in the car and stood statue still. I thought that the lift might be a ruse and that my father had plotted with the man to get rid of me, send me back to the orphanage or to another family. I wonder now why I was not thrilled to be adopted by another family or even find shelter in an orphanage away from a father and mother who didn’t love me? Because I still loved them. I am crying as I write this, but not for myself but for that little boy.

Day 24

Day 24 – A Kiss Goodnight

BabyBoozing.jpgIf I was to get on the psychoanalysts couch I would have to begin with one of my earliest memories that I do think has changed my life considerably. I was six or seven or maybe even younger and I would kiss both my parents goodnight before going ‘up the wooden hill’. I was sometimes carried to bed if I had fallen asleep and sometimes used to pretend to be asleep just to get carried to bed – which felt like a treat. One evening I kissed my mother goodnight and then went to kiss my dad goodnight but he pushed me away – “You’re too old for that now!” he said. I remember not quite understanding: what had happened between yesterday and today?, it hadn’t been my birthday, I wondered if I had done something wrong, I felt ashamed of showing affection…. I never hugged or kissed my mother or my father after that. You may wonder why I stopped kissing my mum goodnight for she had done nothing wrong – I did not want to be bitten twice.

On Being a Telepath

telepathy

Day 11

 On contemplating what I have told you and what I will tell you, I felt that I had to, at some point, reveal something which is quite fantastical but nevertheless true, and of which I do not even understand myself and never will.

When I was at school aged eleven or twelve, a teacher was off work ill and the class was sent to the library to read books. A teacher, who I imagine picked the short straw in the staff room, was allocated to monitoring us and probably busied himself marking papers or picking out the winner of the 2:20 at the Chepstow Races. I was sat with Richard Jones. I didn’t have a watch and repeatedly kept asking RJ what the time was like a nagging child on a car journey “Are we there yet?”. Of course children are less patient with other children and Richard Jones asked me what time I thought it was and to the minute – these were the days of digital watches. It wasn’t difficult to guess with a good chance of getting it right. I guess correctly and Richard Jones added a little sheepishly “and how many seconds?”. I paused, picked a number and was correct. We had invented a game to play amid the boredom of the moment. “Do it again!?” I asked excitedly. I got it correct again. Richard Jones, who must have now thought it was easy had a go and got it wrong so it was my turn again. I got it right again. Richard Jones tried again and failed. “You’re counting!” he said, recognising that I could be using some kind of trick. He was now out to ‘get me’. We went on and on and I never got one wrong. We were both astonished at what was happening. The class finished and it was lunchtime. A gang of us would go to a local chip van that was parked outside the school, buy some chips and hang out aside a nearby Social Club that would occasionally sell hot pasties and where I was once felt up by a gang of girls who were a few years older than me. Richard Jones couldn’t wait to tell everyone. As you can imagine the claim was met with disdain, disbelief and exclamations of “Bullcrap!”. Seeing is believing so after we had finished out chips it was to be put to the test. What at first was fun was now a trial. I had to edge my bets and organise this in my favour. The answer came quickly – one in sixty was hard but one in twenty was easier. The group would decide on a number between on and twenty and I was to read their collective minds; we had formulated and negotiated a method of testing the hypothesis. The guys huddled together and decided on a number. When they had decided they would tell me they were ready, concentrate on that number and I would read their minds and guess the number. I guessed correctly. There were shouts of cheating taking place and that somebody in the group was flashing me the number secretly, so we did it again but everyone had to put their hands in the middle of the huddled group to show that no-one was cheating. They concentrated, I concentrated. I got it right again. This continued several more times and each time I guessed correctly…until the last time…this time I could not think of the number. I could up until this point hone in on a number but this time the numbers were fading in and out and I couldn’t get a lock on one. Eric and Ernie and Bigbird kept popping into my head and I couldn’t shake them. I was taking much longer than usual in coming forward with an answer and the taunts were already appearing “C’mon, were waiting”, “Shammer!” [A ‘Shammer’ is someone who shams, tricks, lies]. I told them that all I could think of was Sesame Street. I said this to hoots of laughter and ridicule. It was strange how quickly they were to dismiss the events that led up until that point as luck, a trick, and that I was now a phony. Over the next few days the rumour spread, not in a big way but there was talk of the incident and kids who weren’t there would come up to me and ask me to guess the number they were thinking of to which I would reply “I don’t do that anymore”. It had become a little tiresome and not continuing would ensure that I would avoid failing again.

In my early twenties I was approached in a pub by an old school friend who I hadn’t seen for years and maybe not since leaving school at fifteen. He reminded me of this story which I had forgotten all about. As he told the story I slowly remembered it. He asked me if I remembered guessing Sesame Street at the end. I said yes and he told me that he had been concentrating on The Muppets just to mess with me. He revealed that he did not admit this for fear that the ridicule would pass from me to him so he kept quiet about it. He told me that he had always wanted to tell me about it but hadn’t for one reason or another. I didn’t hold this against him. At the end of the conversation we both just looked at each other and just said “Weird”.

Many years later there was a programme on television which involved mutants with superpowers. I was chatting with my then wife about which superpowers we would like. She chose mind reading. I once again remembered the story which you have just heard and I retold the story to her to repeated exclamations of  “Really!?”. At the end she knitted her eyebrows together and asked “What number am I thinking of?”, “Eighteen” I answered even before she had finished the sentence. She almost fell off her seat. I have done it since with varying success – they weren’t concentrating hard enough or were thinking about The Muppets no doubt – and I once mind read a girl counting “one, two, three” as she searched for a number; she was on four when I interrupted her.

You may be suspicious and cynical unless you are of the disposition of one who believes in such things and are now possibly searching for a rational explanation which would reveal how this could occur. I would doubt the credulity of this story too if it did not happen to me. I cannot explain it….unless.

Day 18

AlastairSimDay 18 – You Absolute Rotter

When I was a boy growing up and parents or teachers would ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would respond with the usual “I dunno” and I still don’t know. However, that isn’t true, I wanted to be a gentleman. What I mean by ‘gentleman’ is a man that gads about town, has independent wealth and gets into all manner of japes and scrapes pursuing the latest infatuation or some mad cap idea that seems jolly good fun.

I grew up watching Ian Carmichael, Terry Thomas and Dirk Bogarde to name but a few and these were my role models and something I aspired to. I grew up on a council estate and my sister tells me that I didn’t speak like everyone else and spoke a little ‘posher’ than other people. I can’t remember this and am certain that I didn’t put on an accent and I certainly wasn’t romping around our terraced house wearing a monocle and top hat chirping “What, what, what”. I think it may have just rubbed off if it occurred at all. My accent is far from posh, and I pronounce ‘Bath’ with a hard A rather than a soft A, as in “Barth”, and ‘Butter’ as “Bu’er”, like a cockney would.

I think it is far to say that I lacked a male role model in my life, apart from my Grandfather who died when I was eleven. To all intents and purposes I grew up with an absent father. He lived with us and my parents never divorced but he was absent all the same. This was not his fault; many families in my town and in other town and cities have similar fathers and mothers and this is especially true of those on shift work: six till two, two till ten, ten till six…not including overtime which was taken when available. If my father was on two till ten then I wouldn’t see him all week. In later teenage years when I was allowed to stay up beyond 10 o’clock his tea would be put on the stove, which he would eat as soon as he came in and by that time it was nearing bedtime. I can’t really remember him ever being around.

At his point I feel I need to clarify a few points and depending on what class you are from then ‘dinner’ and ‘tea’ have different meanings. For us ‘dinner-time’ was a meal in the afternoon, and ‘tea-time’ was an evening meal.  Having your dinner or tea put on the stove meant having a plate of food that was prepared earlier put on a saucepan filled with water which is boiled on the hob…the top of the saucepan is put over the top of the food to stop it drying out.

On the weekend he would watch football (which I had no interest in) which was interrupted with trips to the bookies where he would lose track of time and I was sometimes sent to collect him from. I hope the picture you have painted in your mind is not a terrible one as it wasn’t; it was what it was and was not unusual for a lot of lower class families or at least I knew no different. ‘Lower Class’? Surely I mean ‘Working Class’? No, I mean Lower Class. Upper, Middle, Lower! We may argue about their definitions and who is what but these are the three broad categories and excludes the underclass. So where does the term ‘Working Class’ come from you may ask. It was coined by Friedrich Engels, if you haven’t heard of him he was a mate of Karl Marx and wrote about the empowerment of the Lower Classes or as he called them the ‘Arbeitenden’ …there is an irony in the fact that the phrase ‘Working Class’ is now something people find pride in; pride in their lowly position. “I work for a living and am proud of it too!” Oh yeah? Say that again and replace the phrase ‘working class’ with ‘lower class’. It was not Engel or Marx’s intention but this is perhaps the biggest political dupe of the 20th Century and I have no doubt that it was unknowingly introduced to the lower class by the trade unions and the labour movement. It was and still is a powerful device in keeping the “working classes” in their place. I remember when I was growing up that if you were caught reading a book the question “What are you reading that for?” was often followed by “You think you’re better than us do you?”. I certainly wanted to be.

Yes I have always wanted to be a gentleman. When I was seventeen I had ‘a look’ that I called ‘the old man look’ which comprised of a grey brushed tweed two button suit, mustard waistcoat, maroon tie, tie pin, fob watch, flat cap and fake national health glasses…yes I went to the opticians and asked them to put clear lenses in a pair of old fashioned national health glasses. I even went so far as to bleach my stubble white. Yes, these were the moderate lengths I went to complete ‘the old man look’. It gets worse. Worse? Yes worse. During this period I suffered from an incident of twisted testicles, or testicular torsion to give it its medical term, and was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night. I had been doing nothing untoward if that’s what you’re thinking. What happens is that the two cords that connect your testicles get twisted and cuts off the blood supply to your balls. The pain is excruciating. If you were to try and imagine the pain imagine being repeatedly kicked in the balls or of you are a woman, giving birth. We cannot know each others pain. My nutsack was cut open and the cords untwisted and stitched down to ensure that it never happened again; my balls were saved. Some people are not that lucky and if the cords are not untwisted in time you lose them as they die from lack of oxygen. As you can imagine after the operation there was swelling and my balls were the size of a grapefruit, painful, and I could hardly walk. I walked with a hobble and was in need of a walking stick. Yes, the ‘old man look’ was complete…a gentleman owns a cane does he not? Yes, I have always wanted to be a gentleman.

Day 15

ChimpWithaGun

Day 15 – Chimp with a Gun

My apology, if an apology is required, is for letting the genie out of the bottle. My moral standpoint on the apology is that to say you are sorry means – Given the choice, and if you could do it again, you would do or say things differently. Only this is a true apology. If you were to add “I would do the same again” it is not an apology at all, and in fact this is worse as you now know that your actions or words will cause offence. An apology, a real apology, has regret. The process is complicated by the fact that I do not trust another people’s recollection of events. The odd times that I can remember certain events, and I have been asked to apologise for them, I remember them differently and stand by my actions. This is my conceit. No, if I have to apologise for anything it is for giving the gun to the chimp in the first place. I know that when I decide to drink that mayhem will possibly ensue. The only way I can truly apologise to anyone or everyone I have ever drunkenly upset is to never drink again. My apology is that I regret getting drunk to a state where brutal honesty, mischief making, and a devil may care attitude is possible. That, if I had my time again I would choose not to drink rather than upset the people I have. As I write these words and as they are unfolding in front of me I am thinking of what that means…my heart is racing and my hands are trembling. The terrifying conclusion is that the only apology I can make is to never drink again….Never.

My intention of writing this book was to kill Him off; that this book would exorcise any demons I may have and be rid of Him. I fear that I cannot kill Him off sufficiently. Perhaps that is my panic, my anxiety. My hope was that at the end of this journey I would come out the other end “normal” or at least “normalish”. If I don’t then Never it will have to be.

“Oh God, let me understand myself”

Attempted Murder Charges

Day 1 – Attempted Murder Charges

London has always been a myth where the disenfranchised go to find solace, understanding, and in some cases a self that they never knew existed.

Shoreditch was this myth made manifest and magnified. Scoundrels and chancers, artists and vagabonds alike tread well worn paves of gold to this bohemian and most modern day Shangri-La.