Saturday, 26 May 2007

My Great-grandfather was a poet, sort of

As if I don't hate myself enough already
My father taunts me with the arrogance of my youth
And calls his taunting "love";
Pointing out how I have failed to achieve
Even as much as the school teachers I used to make fun of.

He reads The times every day
but mostly keeps his political opinions to himself
apart from inflicting them venemously on me
like as though I am personally responsible
for the hand-over of palestine to israeli jews,
like as though I ordered
the Deir Yassin massacre
or that the world's failure to resolve the middle-east conflict
between palestinian arabs and israeli jews
which currently threatens to engulf the world
in a nightmare of terrorism,
political correctness,
loss of civil liberties,
and a resurgence of medieval religions which were on their way to becoming past cultural riches,
the endless carnage of wars in iraq and afghanistan and across africa


His response to the prevalence of knife and gun crime amongst black youths
is repatriation
I tell him I think he is only slightly less evil
than George Bush and Tony Blair
I say it with a wink and he smiles

I mean - I love him, obviously ... he is my father

Later on he finds a pile of old papers and clothe
which he lays out over the desk in his study
heaping on my head the weight of the past

My father's father's father, Jim, it turns out, was a calvalry seargant,
who fought in the Boer war.
Here is a letter he wrote home sending love to his "darling sweetheart" (my great-grandmother)
it is written by hand in pencil on wafer thin paper
which has crossed lines like the old math's exercise books on it

The letter makes me cry when I read it, although I manage to hide that from my father

My father's father's mother ("great granny" we called her)
her life crossed with mine by about a year before she died
She held me in her arms when I was newly born, or there abouts,
I remember seeing the cine film my grand-father took

Great-grandfather is writing home from the front,
Describing borderline starvation level rations
Although I guess everyone lived closer to the starvation line then
The pile of papers my father keeps
Include clippings from newspapers of the time with headline's like "Today's Battle"
Make's me laugh considering it's noncholance
Like "Today's Weather" or something
And the clothe map of the country they were fighting in that he carried with him

And here is a poem he wrote and sent home to her
Three verses each of four lines, written in well-scanning rhyming couplets
Was he the author, or did he just write it out from memory?
Dwell deep! it is called
A referrence to some passage from the bible I think
(maybe ECCLESIASTICUS xxiv. 30)
which makes the meaning of the phrase move in the direction of
"dwell in eternity".

Whoso will hear the wisdom of the Father must dwell deep, and abide at home, and be at unity with himself. Three things hinder us from hearing the everlasting Word. The first is fleshliness, the second is distraction, the third is the illusion of time. If a man could get free of these, he would dwell in eternity, and in the spirit, and in solitude, and in the desert, and there would hear the everlasting Word.

He was a methodist or baptist convert or something
My father's mother's father was too - a follower of Spurgeon
According to my father - that was where his life all started to go wrong
Although he married my father's mother's mother after that
And managed to produce (help produce) my father's mother

Before being knocked down in the street by a horse and carriage,
having a second stroke and dying
He met his wife because she worked in his butchery business
A point my father does not emphasise
Because he likes all the evidence to fit his conclusion that
Running your own business never does anyone any good

Father shows me the framed photographs he has hung round the walls
of what used to be my sisters bedroom
although they are long gone

gone off to procreate another generation
six of them so far

His mother's father (the butcher - father says "he sold meat")
His father's father (the calvalry seargant)
His mother's father's parents
His great-granny marrying great-granddad - their wedding photograph

Father heaps on my head the weight of the past
When I was young he always used to say "Sub Specie Aeternitatis!"
- "From the stand-point of eternity!"
But really he doesn't believe it.
He is "Sub Specie 1000 years".
Or Sub Specie 2000 years.
He is at most Sub Specie 5-10 thousand years.
He is not Sub Specie Aeternitatis.
If he was he would love me the childless way I am.

I tell him "Love first, family second"
... Love first, culture second"
And I wonder what the cavalry man who was promoted to being a seargant
and survived the boer war
(and went on to have 2 sons one of which was my grandfather, Fred)

would have had to say about that...

Dwell deep?

Monday, 7 May 2007

You stink, therefore you spam

You stink therefore you spam

.... Spam etc.