This Charming Man


“Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate”
(Morrissey and Marr)

Salford in the late 1950’s formed a landscape of entrapment. Back to back houses confined back to back people to a life filmed in black and white. There were no intermediate shades. One either was good or bad, right or wrong, a working class hero or a self-aggrandising snob.

Geoff pushed his ailing bicycle down the hillside. Flatter than Jo’s bosoms, its front tyre flopped against the rough terrain. It was nearly 5 miles home and Jo would be waiting for him to cook dinner. “Bugger me,” he swore under his breath. He was hungry and anticipating the long walk home made him feel even more dreadful than the inevitable and unenviable task he faced, mending his punctured bike.
Making his way to the road, Geoff stumbled over a stone and landed on the ground with an embarrassing thud, his bike crashed on top of his skinny legs. “Ouch.” Geoff pushed aside the bike and clung to his right knee. Oblivious to the figure who sauntered behind him, he imagined blood seeping from the wound beneath his trousers and felt quite faint.
“Poor boy, you look quite ruffled down there,” Said the stranger. Surprised to see the elegantly dressed older man peering at him, Geoff looked down at his feet and screeched,
“And I’ve scuffed me Italian Casuals.”
“Let me help you up,” Said the man. His strong arms reached out to Geoff and he gripped his shoulders. The man’s masculinity merged with his own fragile form, their muscles straining in unison to secure Geoff’s safe ascent.
“Thanks ever so much,” Said Geoff, now erect. He looked up at the stranger’s handsome face and felt his cheeks flush.
“Can I offer you a lift…anywhere?” The man’s offer was tempting. “I am staying at a nearby hotel. I could take you there and tend your wounds.” Geoff could hear his heart beat inside his ears. The beats reminded him that not only was he alive, but that he was free to do what he chose. He briefly thought of Jo and the dinner he had offered to cook for her.
“That would be lovely,” He replied.
The man, who claimed to be named, Rex supported Geoff to walk to his car, which was parked nearby. Once again, Geoff felt giddy. He had never ridden in a Jaguar before. Rex opened the passenger door and Geoff crumpled inside. The seats were made of mahogany coloured leather. His fingers caressed them, eager to experience sensuous pleasure.
The hotel was situated only a few minutes away. It was the one where all the swanky people stayed. When Geoff walked in he looked at the floor, afraid of suspicious stares. Rex, however, seemed unrepentant, gaily abandoning any fear of others’ disapproval he might have possessed. Rex’s room was suitably grand and his bed as appealing as the silk pyjamas that were folded beneath his pillow.
“Would you like a drink, Geoffrey…a little something to calm your nerves?” Before Geoff could answer, Rex picked-up the phone and requested a bottle of champagne. Geoff had never tasted champagne before…but there was a first time for everything.
Whilst they were waiting for the drink to be delivered, Rex offered Geoff a cigarette. He did not smoke, but failed to inform Rex. Gauloise were very sophisticated and now that he was on the threshold of sophistication, Geoff felt that he should prove himself a man.
“Thank you ever so,” He spluttered to his companion.
When the champagne had been delivered, Rex poured 2 drinks and sat on the bed. “Why don’t you come and sit with me, my boy. You look awfully lonely over there.” Geoff summoned every ounce of courage he possessed and sat beside his new friend. They both drank quickly. Rex looked at Geoff in a way no one had ever looked at him before and said, “Take your trousers off. It’s time to tend your wounds.”
2 hours later Geoff arrived home in a large red Jaguar car. Jo had tired of waiting for him and eaten over an hour earlier. “Where have you been?” She asked, as he entered the house carrying a shiny new bicycle.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” He replied. Though his body hurt inside, his spirit felt feather light, for his nature had finally, transformed him from nervous boy into a man, who would one day have charm on his side

A poet reborn or…just pretending?


I do not purport to be a great poet, or even a good one. I aim to capture the unpredictable ebb and flow of thought as it intersects with text on my laptop screen. For writing not only reflects the consciousness of the writer, but her soul. Thus, when someone reads my poetry, they access part of me that is forbidden to the eye.

In my new poetry collection, I have stripped myself bare. Like discarded garments, my outer layers reveal the surface of my intent. Beneath, I am as vulnerable as a child. I shiver in the presence of pedagogues, those who truly understand the poetic form and fear that my amateurism will be exposed.

After 20 years of writing poetry, I am still a virgin; not penetrated by the sharp pen of scholastic formalism,
I am merely myself.

Truth is pretence.

A Life Reborn by Louise M. Hart is available from amazon, barnes and noble and most respected retailers.

For updates, please follow me on twitter. @shunterthompson

Consciously Poetic


A few days ago I finished editing my first poetry collection. This somewhat daunting experience has prompted me to evaluate my relationship with the form.
For many years my mental health and writing were interconnected; my moods and states of mind dictating the nature of the poems I produced. Frequently, distressing thoughts would drive me to lift a pen and pour onto paper the contents of my tormented psyche. I wrote for myself, as a means of expression and never contemplated sharing my pain. Thus, the content of my poems was paramount and form as irrelevant, to my world, as the pursuit of happiness.
Years later, I summoned the courage to submit a poem to a poetry competition. Having studied poetry at degree level and for my own pleasure, I was only too aware of my own literary ineptitude. My submission, however, seemed worthy in its employment of alliteration and metaphor and existed as a signifier of my state of being, at that time. Although I did not win the competition, my poem was published in an anthology and I was to see my name in print for the first time.
At that time, my poems acceptance for publication affirmed that I had some form of literary ability; maybe I was not the mental elf that my lack of self-confidence had betrayed me into believing.
When editing my poetry collection, I once again experienced nags of self-doubt. I can write…but…so what…half the world believe themselves potential writers or celebrities. The world is deluded, am I? A publisher had accepted my collection for publication. Nevertheless, publishers make mistakes!
Now that my poetry exists beyond the confines of my laptop, I can tell myself, with a reasonable level of conviction, that reactions to literature are subjective. Undoubtedly, some readers will dislike and criticise my work. However, there will be others for whom it is meaningful. Like the individual, a poem can be pulled apart, but will always remain a unity in-itself.

Plotting: The Resumption of Meaning


I have finally resumed writing my new novel. Days spent without ink are days of inner torment. I am driven by an urge to create and a contradictory urge to be idle. However, when idle, the writer within nags and scolds me between my ears, like a voice echoing its distaste for a piece of human waste who simply cannot be bovvered. Today, I have not been idle and my insides are smiling, again. Sometimes, one simply has to hit the keys and move on.
Writing is not as easy as some people think; it requires not only a seed of inspiration, but a mind-set of discipline, which few can master. Why sit inside behind the mask of a laptop, when there is a world outside, populated by people consuming one another’s subjectivity, like flesh cream cake? Why? Because I have to. If I did not write, I would be in bed making love to my disease. Writing keeps me alive; it fulfils my dreams.

Was Virginia Woolf a Feminist?


In the year 2013, a hundred years after her birth, Virginia Woolf remains one of the most misunderstood and influential writers in the British canonical tradition. Generations have deconstructed her essays and novels, in an attempt to better understand her feminist aesthetics and many have questioned the ambiguity of the ideology encoded in her work.
For me, her feminist credentials are not explicit in her texts, but are affirmed in the recorded details of her life. Her involvement in the suffrage movement, estrangement from the traditional heterosexual archetype and frequent retreats into mental distress, highlight her rejection of patriarchal authority. One could argue, however, that more interesting than her endorsement of feminist ideas is an exploration of the extent to which her feminism was a conscious political decision to challenge the prevailing social (patriarchal) order. Was her feminism really given to textual primacy of her aestheticism? Arguably, it is the aesthetics of her texts which live on, but Woolf’s feminism which makes her seem more real.

New Poems!


DETRImental

The pulse of your touch upon my wrist
Spelled two years of delusion
In which an image resided
Like a flame in darkness
And became you

I hesitated to ask you
How you felt about your life
Or if you desired a wife
For you were an ideal
And I, an impression of a beholder
Who beheld only you

My thoughts were cloudy with your Omni-presence
Yours willing the arrival of 5.30
You never saw through
I fell
But you did not catch me
You were looking at your watch
It was 5.30

HOPE

I would go out-
If I had somewhere to go.
I would be a good friend-
If I had any.
Until then
I shall smile knowingly
And pretend.

I Am…Louise


Inspiration has left me, I am a shell of my former nut. Lost for topics I would like to discuss, I have decided to write about the only subject in which I profess to be an expert, myself!
Born in 1968, a year in which chaos threatened to enter the love shack of 1960’s ideology, I was always a problem; a problem to my Mother who, has always loved me with the ferocity of a lioness, a problem to the world, which seeks to compartmentalise even those, like me, who resist and defy labelling but mostly, a problem to myself. I survived my acute shyness and intangible fear of life and grew-up to be a student of philosophy, English and mental flight. My world of fear was replaced by a voice which rang out loud and clear. However, after two years of studying for a degree, my voice broke.
I spent the next twenty years of my life as a patient, a user of services, a label without a name. I was mad and secretly blamed myself for my inability to survive life and retreat into psychosis. During this time, my consultant psychiatrist whom, I was subsequently to perceive as my sworn enemy and the embodiment of evil(!), made a statement which has always remained in my memory. He said, “You will always be Louise.” To many, this statement might seem trite but anyone who has been unfortunate enough to be affected by mental health issues and the savage fists of the mental health system, will understand its meaningful intent.
Silenced and sentenced to the periphery of life, I have, finally, found my voice. It speaks in the truths that I write. I wrote my first novel, not only as therapy but because I had always wanted to be a published writer, I wrote to affirm my identity and re-claim my life. I know that The General Paralysis of Sanity will make me neither rich nor famous but it has begun a process, writing is now my life. I am…Louise and welcome you all to join me in my discoveries.

Stream of a Conscience


There is a fear which haunts all writers and that fear is loss of inspiration. We all experience dry periods in which words, ideas and the construction of plots elude us; our waking hours punctuated by non-productivity and night time by the sweat of non-fulfilment. Over the last few days, I been firing blanks of concepts, refusing to build into a seed of a form embracing a composition, deserving to be heard. I am tired. However, I need to write. Please forgive my stream of consciousness style.
Two days ago I returned from my holiday in Malta. When abroad, I would like to have experienced a touch of the culture of the country I have visited. Unfortunately, on this holiday I learned more about British culture than that of Malta. Initially, piqued by the attitude and demeanour of the non-British staff at hotel where we stayed, as the week evolved I realised that they had been stereotyping us based on their experience of other British holiday makers. I felt embarrassed by the behaviour of my fellow Brits and doubly embarrassed by my own embarrassment. These were people, similar in social and economic background to many of the people who had populated by younger life. I felt not comradeship for these, my working class brothers and sisters but, frustration. Uncomfortable in my own skin, I had behaved exactly as the hotel staff had towards the other British holiday makers, I had stereotyped them. In this instance, as the kind of working class people who would stand not with defiant fists clenched at the boundaries of a picket line but, would push aside honourable strikers and lay with management. When I heard voices raised, from the “English style,” pub next to the hotel, in a chorus of, “There’ll always be an England,” I knew not whether to smile or frown. Stereotyping is reductive and objectionable. We all do it.

Maltese Delight


I think I deserve a holiday so…I am having one! Tomorrow, we head off for a week in the sunny Mediterranean. The last few months have delivered a seed of potential for a new life, my novella The General Paralysis of Sanity was finally published and I have learned how to centralise self. Not at the expense of others, but purely for the sake of my own mental health. I have always found it difficult to say, “No,” but I am learning.
My experience of writing has heightened my empathy for other writers. In the past I have been too dismissive of genre fiction, perceiving it as inferior to more literary type writing. Writing can be bloody hard and earning one’s living as a writer almost impossible. Thus, I send loving vibes to all you struggling writers, out there! For, although writing should not be about money, book sales keep writers alive.
To readers who are reluctant to venture into the age of the e-book, why not put aside your prejudices and download a book by an indie or self-published writer. Available for your critical indulgence are many great books bypassed by publishers not because they are badly written, but for all sorts of reasons, including the difficulties of marketability and commercialism.
In case I am unable to blog for the next week, I beseech you all to contact me via twitter etc. I am beginning to build a very interesting “following” and my twitter door is open to all, especially other writers/wannabe writers. Until next time, keep reading…and writing.

Knots: The Poetry of R. D. Laing


In the pre-psychotic realm of my youth, I discovered the works of Scottish (anti) psychiatrist R. D. Laing. His seminal offering, The Divided Self (1960), became for a time, my Bible, offering me reassurance that my deeply held fear of madness was proof of my sanity. A few years later, I remember, during my chaotic career as an undergraduate, sitting at a table of my university refectory, smoking and drinking an innumerable coffee. Poised on a wave of my own sense of urgency, I knew not whether to retreat from or entreat with words the grizzled middle-aged, presence who reclined in the seat opposite me. Soon, my dilemma was resolved; the presence spoke. Complete with perfectly crumbled Scottish vowels and the scrag-end of a roll-up, he introduced himself and told me that he lectured in psychology. Immediately interested, I began to converse and confessed to him my fascination with all things Laingian. To my great delight, he claimed that he had worked with Laing and eyes twinkling, rasped, “The trouble with Ronny was…like many of us, he couldn’t resist a pretty girl.” I never spoke to the man again, confining him to the annals of lecherous old devilment. However, whenever I ruminate about my first and only hero of psychiatry, I smile at the memory of meeting someone who had known him, smug in the knowledge that we all are only one handshake away from greatness.
Whilst, R. D. Laing’s (1927-1989) most widely read writings are books detailing psychological analyses of psychosis. He, also, intruded upon the sacred soil of poetry. His 1970 volume, Knots, operates most successfully as an encoding of his ideas in the loosely defined form of poetry. The text is divided into five sections which can be read as individual dialogues or mini play-lets. Ultimately, a deconstruction of relationships, the “knots” of the title connote impasses; the conflicting passage of the Western interpersonal being. For in our relationships with others, subjectivity is both defined and denied.
Stylistically dense to the point of being terse, on first reading Knots may appear irritatingly abrupt and lacking in the artifice of rhythmic mellifluousness and beauteous language. However, the circuitous dialogue merely reinforces Laing’s notion that relationships are constricted by the production of thoughts, which lead to neurotic beliefs, which, eventually become interpreted in our behaviour and ensuing relationships. Although, the book is not entirely successful as a work of poetry, it offers many insights into the psychology of relationships. As someone who has been profoundly affected by Laing’s theories about the, “family nexus,” whereby family life was deemed accountable for the presence and sustenance of psychosis,
I particularly enjoyed the first part of the book. For, here, his views about the injunctions of the family are most fully transcribed.