Posts Tagged ‘life’

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Parliamo Glasgow

December 17, 2008

Got an email from my brother in Alburquerque today about being Scottish.  I’m guessing it’s unlikely he’ll be hearing anything like this in New Mexico.

Learn the ‘patter’ in Stanley Baxter’s Parliamo Glasgow.  Genius.

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Darkness Visible

July 3, 2008

A few weeks ago I was in the library searching for something or other and in my travels came across this wee gem of a book which I’d recommend to anyone interested in mental illness, especially depression.

In the eighty four pages of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron describes his descent into depression through reflection on melancholia, despair, physical ailments, social phobia, alcohol, therapy, hospitalisation and eventual recovery. He gives an extremely moving account of his preparation for suicide, feeling like an observer to an oncoming disaster in an almost theatrical fashion. His attempts to write a farewell note seemed too ridiculous for they sounded either pompous or comical so he tore up all his efforts and resolved to “go out in silence”.

“Late one bitterly cold night, when I knew that I could not possibly get myself through the following day, I sat in the living room of the house bundled up against the chill; something happened to the furnace. My wife had gone to bed and I have forced myself to watch the tape of a movie in which a young actress, who had been in a play of mine, was cast in a small part. At one point in the film … the characters moved down the hallway of a music conservatory, beyond the walls of which, from unseen musicians, came a contralto voice, a sudden soaring passage from the Brahms Alto Rapsody.

This sound which, like all music – indeed, like all pleasure – I had been numbly unresponsive to for months, pierced my heart like a dagger, and in a flood of swift recollection I thought of all the joys the house had known: the children who had rushed through its rooms, the festivals, the love and work, the honestly earned slumber, the voices and the nimble commotion, the perennial tribe of cats and dogs and birds … all this I realised was more than I could ever abandon, even as what had set out so deliberately to do was more than I could inflict on those memories and upon those, so close to me, with whom the memories were bound. And just as powerfully I realised I could not commit this desecration on myself. I drew upon some last gleam of sanity … “

Eloquent and straightforward. Enjoy.

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Fragile

May 13, 2008

Expressive smiley eyes are a family trait and there’s a likeness amongst us. So they say.

She had smiley eyes … the prettiest girl in the class who loved to dance. Inside, her story was very different and I only ever caught a glimpse of her reality. But that was then. A lifetime ago.

She’s in hospital. Organ failure they say.

I stop at the nurses’ station asking where to find her. From a distance I don’t recognise her but she smiles as I enter the room and her eyes give her away. She’s pleased I’ve come.

It’s easy to reminisce and before long we’re remembering the silly things: our shared jealousy because her brother always got Nana’s treacle toffees; her highland dancing days until the kilt didn’t fit anymore and there was no money for a new one; the big radiogram; her obsession with The Bay City Rollers and tartan things; Saturday night skating when I was allowed; our fashion disasters and bad hair cuts yet she still looked good! At that moment we were able to find a place where she could forget the bad things, the hurt and the pain.

I recognise in her now the vulnerability and fragility of her life and try to understand the reasons for the choices she’s made along the way.

She holds my hand and tells me she thinks she will die.

The funeral is on Tuesday they say.

Today was Tuesday. She was 47.

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discussing broccoli

March 14, 2008

“I’m not really that interested in broccoli” says Jack, age 5. 

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Gershwin’s Summertime

March 12, 2008

I’ve had the house to myself these last two days and actually managed to be fairly productive during that time. Research is going well for my latest essay and I’ve managed to write quite a bit. Not only that but THE HOUSE IS TIDY!!!!!

By eight o’clock last night I was ready to sit with my feet up. What I really wanted was a chilled glass of Chardonnay, what I got was a glass of Irn Bru and a packet of crisps!  I should’ve been more organised.

Anyway! What I’m trying to get round to is that I ended up watching Michael Parkinson’s last show (again) when he put together his best interviews since the 70s. Some are smart, some funny, some beautiful, some gifted beyond measure and some oozing so much charisma that you’re left speechless.

Here’s Larry Adler and Itzhak Perlman performing Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. It’s perfection.

Enjoy!

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Tales of Passion

February 28, 2008

Novelist Isabel Allende talks about writing, women, passion, feminism. She tells the stories of powerful women she has known, some larger-than-life (listen for a beauty tip from Sophia Loren), and some simply living with grace, dignity and ingenuity in a world that, in too many ways, still treats women unjustly.

Listen and be inspired!

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to be human

February 28, 2008

‘Perspectives on the Human Experience through the Arts’ is my chosen options module this semester and it’s a challenging one. This module is based on the belief that for health professionals to learn what it is to be human they need compassion and appreciation of the uniqueness of individuals. Studying the arts and humanities helps us do just that and though it may sound like the easy option in an otherwise heavy academic year or ‘time out’ to some, it isn’t. Seriously.

By exploring a range of materials, including individual pieces of work created by survivors, we are encouraged to enter into their world and by doing so recognise the things that make us human: vulnerability, individuality, personality, imagination, passion, spirit, breath …

We explore the many different experiences found in childhood through adolescence to old age and end of life issues and discuss the difficulties people face and the reasons why they do what they do in a world that has become too harsh for them to bear.

Reality shocks and not for the first time my awareness is heightened. Most of the material isn’t an easy read and with or without the compassionate heart, one cannot help but be affected.

This poem is from The Memory Bird (1996) Edited by Caroline Malone, Linda Farthing and Lorraine Marce. Published by Virago.

Bleeding
As I watch blood ooze from my vein
Slowly the droplets anaesthetise my brain
The screaming in my head gently subsides
Calmed and sedated, almost mesmerised.

I am losing the struggle to survive
I have to bleed to know I’m alive
The tramlines of war scar my skin
The only sign of battle within.

My life drips on to the barren floor
Tears flow in rivulets under the door
Numbness spreads right through my core
Where is my energy to fight for more?

But these are not for death but life
Do not be alarmed at the way I strive
Marks on my body are a small price to pay
For freedom from Hell and a new dawning each day.