Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Yum! Jesus!"

‘Daddy, how do you make your body move?’

‘Your brain sends a signal to your body, like “move your arm”’.

I moved my arm as an illustration.

‘And when you walk, your brain tells your arms and legs to move and it tells your eyes to watch where you’re going.’

'OK Dad.'

Aurora and I marched on the spot for a minute. Jocasta came and joined us – but opted to skip.

My eldest daughter is going through a very inquisitive phase – needing to know how everything works.

‘What about people who walk without moving their arms Daddy?’

‘If they are not technically disabled darling, they are not to be trusted and are best avoided.'

‘OK Dad’.

Aurora resumed her marching on the spot. I saluted her and, sensing a break in her line of enquiry, made to ‘about turn’.

‘Daddy. What about the people at church?'

I raised an eyebrow and waited for my daughter to elaborate.

'Well, you know the way Jocasta puts her arms up and runs around screaming when you take the croissants out of the oven. Her brain says "Yum! Put your arms up!'''.


'Well What about the people at church who raise their arms and close their eyes while they are singing?’

This question did not entirely surprise me. I had seen Aurora scanning the congregation during services.

‘No arms yet Daddy,’ she’d whisper. Aurora has inherited her mother’s ‘stage whisper’ and can usually be heard by all present.

‘That’s a slightly different thing, sweetness. The people who raise their arms at church are having a special spiritual moment and they are trying to get closer to Jesus.’

‘So they are, like, saying "Yum! Jesus!' They’ll not actually reach him though Daddy, will they? I mean, you’re tall, but I don’t think you’d be able to actually reach Jesus.’

‘No darling – I didn’t mean that they are actually trying to touch Jesus. They are being moved by Jesus and raising their hands in his general direction.'

‘A-ha!’. Aurora’s face showed great revelation.

‘So their brains aren’t moving their bodies. It’s Jesus’s brain and he’s really messing about.’

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The book what I wrote

I once worked for a ‘literature development agency’. The agency developed literature with a select bunch of favourite writers and rarely allowed any words in that had been written by a stranger. I used to take the calls to manage the disappointment of outsiders. A typical call would go something like this:
‘I’ve wrote a book.’
Never an auspicious start.
‘Well hello, nice to hear from you.’
I would begin in this way to sugar-coat the news coming later in the conversation that the caller – or ‘writer’  as they preferred to be described – couldn’t actually write ‘fuck’ on a dusty blind.
Other calls would come from disgruntled writers who had received a small commission or some crumbs of writing workshop work in the past - but had fallen out of favour. One such call from a poet who called himself ‘The Strolling Geordie’ began in a regrettable fashion.
I resisted the urge to ask why, in that case, he had taken the time out to call one. He had clearly been drinking and had succumbed to high emotion when he probably would have been better served by going out and ‘strolling’ for a while in the fresh air.
Another aspiring writer took time out from preaching about Jesus at the foot of Grey’s Monument to recite his poetry at me in the office.
The organisation was housed in a theatre. Our small office had been created in what had once been the gents’ toilets. In Health & Safety terms the space would legally accommodate 2 people, 2 desks and a filing cabinet. In truth it was home to 2 regular staff, a portly Labrador, a sofa, a louche public school boy theatre director and a hot desk for various unkempt actors and indolent ‘Project Managers’.
Being in a theatre meant that we were surrounded by creative people who had a whimsical approach to security.  Actors and writers needed to be in and out at all hours – as their various muses took them. They were also inclined to sleep in the building if they were entrusted with a key. The Fire Door, therefore, was always ‘on the snib’. Once a street poet knew how to get in, the territory was his. Especially if the street poet was a former Gulf war soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and an instinct for invasion.
‘I hope you don’t mind, but this is my new poem.’
Peter  would just appear in the room. He had very clear blue eyes and a piercing stare. He was a little volatile, so I was in the habit of making him a coffee and listening intently.