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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

5

I've never written directly about my friend, who died on this day five years ago, but I have mentioned him on several posts, as he has inspired work and thoughts so regularly with me. This is because I am thinking about him and our conversations we shared on a fairly continual basis.

So, this is about Thomas, this is a remembrance of him.

I met Thomas in 2005 in Lampeter. Something that feels so very long ago, but also feels immediate and personal. If our connection with an event; our concerns, our care, our ongoing relationship with a time help keep it present and in a sense contemporary then a great deal about my time at Lampeter and especially time shared with Thomas is still current to me.

Thomas was a disarmingly friendly and honest person.

Now that it comes to it, I'm not sure I want to share everything about the history of my friendship with Thomas in detail. That's not really the point and, indeed, I'll end up only romanticising it. Making it into a story, rather than the truth and this must be about the truth.

So, let's start again. What made me write this?

I still feel sad for those who never met him, I don't mean the majority of the planet earth's population, but for my own friends, many who have known me for a long time, without ever knowing or meeting Thomas.

I think my original thought in writing this, was for them, to describe why this person, this stranger to them, has had such a huge impact upon my life. In many ways, his life and subsequent death has utterly altered me, but perhaps they cannot see this. After a while we see our friends in a perpetual image that we have shaped for them and it would take something drastic to change our minds about this perspective.

I mean, I'm not totally different, I still identify in much the same manner I did before. I'm still mostly sad, often angry, and always flippant. (You might think I'm a calm person, but if you do, you don't really know me very well.)

Perhaps I'd hoped people would be able to tell that I carried this trauma automatically and treat me with all the appropriate solemnity and respect, but that's never the case, I've experienced this more times than I care to remember.

We cannot read each other's minds, even those we care so much about. It's perhaps because we're all such good liars, and I'm a tremendous liar. It isn't a boast, indeed, I'm ashamed about it. This is why Thomas was so important to me. He was hopeless at concealing his emotions, mainly because he didn't really try to and I don't want you to think he was saintly in his behaviour. He had plenty to feel angry and depressed about and although he coped with that better than anyone I've ever met, still he got sad and angry about things. Mainly other people's inability to see reason.

Also, I cannot describe Thomas himself, only my impressions of what he meant to me, but then that's my point here and I think Thomas would laugh at me for describing him so, and one should laugh (you cannot curse the darkness away), but this is my melodrama and I can cry if I want to.

You would cry too if it happened to you... (with thanks to Leslie Gore)

Anyway, what else could I or should I tell? Ah, yes.

Perhaps it's unsurprising to hear that my first reaction to Thomas' death was anger.

Anger at the world, for being a world wherein this can happen, where the good do indeed die young and the corrupt live long ignorant lives, where the whole thing keeps on moving, when what I wanted was for everything to just stop, because for me, everything did stop at that moment when his wife, now widow, told me that he had died.

Then anger at myself for being overcome by paralyzing emotion, for not being able to help those that needed help... more than me. This has become something too, guilt at my continuing grief, guilt that I still feel this so strongly five years later, because I'm not the widow, I'm not the parent, I'm not the life-long friend. I'm just someone who knew him for a while and I know this self-destructive thought is just that. That, in actuality, I knew Thomas at a pivotal period in his life and that I helped play a part in that, but that doesn't stop my feelings of guilt, of being a fraud, because I've never managed to live as openly as he did. Although I try.

I've been told, by philosophers no less, that I take things too seriously. Although admittedly they were analytic philosophers. Obviously I consider this to be incorrect, but I have deliberated upon it and thought about what I would be like if I were less affected emotionally by things. Not me, is a simple enough answer, which is appealing in a sense.

Life, after all, goes on. For a time. It has a habit of doing so. There are plenty of minor things to occupy one's mind so that you'd never need think about this ever again, so why do you you persist in doing so? Is it just a love of suffering?

It is because, although it does sometimes make me deeply upset, it is also something that gives me hope, makes me feel human, and quite often makes me feel incredibly happy and lucky to have known such people as Thomas.

So, I think I've said everything I can say presently and I'm aware I still really haven't said that much, perhaps there's nothing I can really say to fully convey what it meant to me to lose someone like Thomas. It seems to get harder as time passes because memories fade and isn't that really all I've got left of him now? In a sense perhaps, but I also feel the time we spent as friends influenced and changed me and I feel that I carry part of that with me, for as long as I remain me. That's the part that's hard to say, I can show it, because it's me, but the stories I could tell you are only that. They can't capture the 'what it was', they are only giving my romanticised perspective of events. So, I persevere carrying this frozen fragment of a friend, when what is always wanted is the existence that is no more. The time that has passed and can never be again.




Tuesday, 10 January 2017

21

Dear Dad,

You died twenty one years ago today, at about this time, although I wasn't there, I was on a bus coming to see you.

I was 17 then and not nearly a man. Perhaps that is why you withheld so much from me, you thought I wasn't old enough to have those talks with, but when were you going to do it? It's well past too fucking late now, isn't it?

So, yeah, I'm angry. I'm still fucking angry, 21 years later. Not that you died, but with you. I'm angry with you dad.

I never knew you. I'll never know you. I'll never know why you didn't talk to me. Not when I was a child, but when it mattered, when I was a teenager, when I was a young man.

It's that you didn't try that really bothers me, or perhaps you did but some internal conflict or doubt stopped you. For me, all I'm left with is; wasn't I good enough or worthwhile enough, wasn't I considered articulate or intelligent enough?

You've left an imprint of your personality upon me; the miserableness, the sarcasm, the love of solitude, respect for nature, but most of all, the short temper and the boiling pit of anger.

You were an angry man too, weren't you dad?

I remember you smashing things, or storming away and denying with delight the possibility of a calm resolution to whatever small thing had upset you.

What made you angry dad? Was it your father? The fact that he never fucking spoke to you? Imagine that. Imagine just being left, with no help, no advice, no kind words, fucking nothing. No wonder you were angry.

I was sick of being you. Trying to do the things I think you'd want for me. Indeed, I did stop. I stopped years ago, when I was 25. I remember realising that I had nothing to prove and no way to fucking prove it to you anyway. I started thinking for myself properly. I often think that you're the reason I decided to study philosophy. To consider the 'good death'.

You didn't die well did you? If we're given the time to 'put our house in order' before we die, and many people don't get that chance, you should take it. I don't think you did, but perhaps I just wasn't included. Were you protecting me? Or were you just protecting yourself from having to actually talk about your own death to a young man? Or was it talking about your life that was the problem?

Will I do any better, could I be a different father? Hopefully, I'll get to answer those questions, but the potential of failure fills me with fear. Is that what stopped you, dad? Fear?


Dear reader,
Perhaps this all sounds unfair to you. After all he was there; he wasn't earlier deceased, or in prison, or runaway, or on drugs, or abusive, or violent. He did teach me to respect nature and naturalness, to appreciate art and music, to regard working hard at something you value, and probably many other things too. Perhaps it is unfair, perhaps this is just based in my anger, perhaps someday soon I'll learn to live with it or work past it.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

New Year - New Direction (sort of)

Firstly, a very happy new year to you all. I hope it is a happy, creative, and fulfilling year.

So, I'm not announcing a major change in my blog, there will still be most of the same things, but I also want to focus on one area and draw away from another.

Moving towards: As I've mentioned previously, I have been creating a fantasy world inspired by the work of a dear departed friend and others. This has not stopped, although I have not blogged about it. Whether this is merely a personal project, or serves as the basis for a game (a co-operative story) with friends, or the basis for a story or series of stories (the unlikeliest chance I would start and finish a novel, even one based in my own flights of fancy), remains to be seen. I would like, however, to 'finalise' some of my thoughts and ideas about the 'world' and its history, the occupants and their histories as species, the description of the societies, the mythos of the world, and so on. Some of these are, just like the previous list, descriptive historical fiction (as it were) but some of my other ideas are specific to how it would work as a game. I often think about game creation, when I was little I would invent card games that only I would play and I wish I'd written down some of the rules. You get bored of solitaire as an only child...

Anyway, expect many more posts about this un-named world and the un-named game in a project that I've loosely titled "LeCraft" after Ursula Le Guin and H.P. Lovecraft, the two biggest influences on my creation after my friend. I'm pleased to say that this temporary working title has already been described as "shit" by JJ. So, it stays. Ha!

Moving away-from: I spent a great deal of time, if not completing posts concerning politics, society, and the myriad of problems related, then just worrying about them. Last year was and, I have no doubt, will prove to have been a turning point in World history. I can perceive a great many problems arising; here in the UK, in Europe, in the USA, and elsewhere across the globe. Therefore, I could spend this year as I ended the last trying to remain a voice of reason, to argue against injustice, to hold untruth to account and various other self-inflating bombastic nonsense descriptions. All this thinking accomplished for me was a very deep depression, which (I believe) led to a very real and very unpleasant illness that lasted the entirety of December and bloody ruined Christmas and Hogmanay.

At one point last year, I began taking to answering people's comments on public posts on Facebook. Although sometimes I felt this accomplished something, mostly it did not. I even started 'helping' friends by telling them what to do with their lives. I started correcting blog-colleagues in their personal essays. Now, perhaps sometimes it was a 'correct' argument that I made, but was it necessary, what it helpful or worthwhile? For me, ultimately the answer was a definite NO. It made my concerns grow, not shrink, it made my interfering attitude more strident, basically it made me more of a person that I would never want to be.

Therefore, expect a great deal less of personal political essays. Some perhaps in response to the ongoing disaster that is UK society or World relations or the belief in truth. However, I'd really like to keep sane, so this will NOT be a focus for me this year!

I’m not going to bury my head under the sand and witter on about my fantasy creations to the exclusion of reality. This is not my point in creating such a world. All good fantasy, and it’ll be a bloody miracle if mine is any good, should highlight the flaws and strengths of the writer’s contemporary society and if not directly then through a hope for something better. Something positive that we could be. A thought experiment for a society that had power thrust upon them and they still chose to be good.

Well, let’s see how it goes.

All the best to you all
C