I loved my little brother.
He had a speech impediment. Hammy av hfeef po-wum hammy ham-hay heff.
My parents eventually took him to speech therapy lessons when he was old enough, but before then I would translate. Sammy has a speech problem Sammy can't say 's'.
When I was six or seven and Sam was four or five, Dad took us to stay for a week in a caravan in west Wales at broadhaven beach.
It was the summer holidays. The Photo
Dad was an art teacher and spent most of the holiday with a camera around his neck. The visual image is something I was trained to respect since an early age. I held a pencil before I held a spoon.
Walking along a bracken fern and bramble lined path between the beach and the caravan site, dad told us to wait still for a minute so he could take our picture. Sam and I were both wearing our new knitted jumpers that nan, my Dads mother, had made for us especially for the holiday. It is Wales, its cold here even in the middle of summer. Especially near the coast. I don't know for certain but I suspect that it was my paternal grandparents who had paid for the rent on the caravan so that we could have a holiday this year. The jumpers were identical apart from mine was slightly bigger and the color was slightly different, Nan had used a different yellow wool for the beach and sailboat but the sky blue was the same. People still ask us if we are twins.
Just as my dad was focusing one of the several lenses he used for his camera to get different types of shot, from zoom to widescreen, I decided to show the world how much I loved my brother. I put my arm around him and kissed his cheek. A lot can happen in the split fraction of a second that it takes for a camera to take a picture. While the Iris is Open
I had never before known malice, much less been the target of it. In the exact moment that I kissed Sams cheek and Dad took the fateful photo, I was struck. It was not physical although the attack put me into a state of shock. I was overwhelmed by bitterness
"Thank you, boys."
said Dad, beaming with pride.
Sam ran off up the path while I stood in shock, trying to analyze what had just happened and watching my dad and my brother walk away."Come on, slowcoach!"
said Dad. "He how hoah"
What had just happened? It was so horrible!
I am empathic. The way that I translated Sams speech was not only through audio but through feeling. My heart told me what message he was feeling and trying to say. My mind would translate the shape of the feeling into words for Sam. I would use his speech pattern as a guide to my translation. Thats how it works. I couldn't ever have explained that at the time because I had no idea that I was even doing it, much less words for these concepts and ability to communicate with adults about it. It just seemed natural to me, like breathing and drinking and following your own way as you go.
I was overwhelmed by a shock of nasty. The hatred, filthy loathing, was something deeper and more toxic than anything I could ever have imagined. The smell of burning circuit-boards is how t feels, sick and wrong and shouldn't be. Every cell of my being and every mote of my soul rejects and feels polluted by it. When I read Lord of the Rings for the first time I saw only a pale reference there to this terrifying darkness that left me deeply affected. I was utterly alone and afraid. I have been this way ever since.
The translation in my mind of the poison feeling leaping through my heart was that my brother hated me with abject venom, my father was a bad terrible man, and I was worthless, utterly pathetic, pointless, my existence was less than shit, I was an abberation that should not be. Shadow
I can explain now, that this darkness did not originate from within me, it passed through me. But I absorbed it as it went. It was so fast! Faster than anything I had ever known. It appeared to the limit of my senses to have come from Sam, although I know now that it only appeared to do that, and that probably it passed through him the same way that it passed through me. It was gone in a flash. All this happened in the instant during which Dad took that photo. But I was left with a sick, twisted feeling that has lasted a lifetime. An emptiness that sucks in all hope.
So painful was the experience of loss; of my brothers love, of my trust in my father, knowing now how much he loathed me, and the awareness that such a dark thing could exist in a world I had known only to be beautiful, even in its cold and wet and rain and wind; damaged me for life. As I write, age 33 years, I am still not recovered from it. It was many years before I could even cast my mind back to remember this scene at all. I was shocked, and frightened. I could not look at the photograph for many years after without feeling an overwhelming sickness.
I read a lot of books. My reading ability was advanced for my age. School did tests. I was gcse level (16) by age 12 and off the top of the chart by 13. I read Ursula Le Guins amazing A Wizard of Earthsea. It was real. The shadow that Ged summons; I knew. Because I had experienced it myself, that day at the beach. I cannot explain it any better. Like Ged I had to travel beyond death, to confront and to assimilate the Shadow. It is very Jungian. I am only ready to do so now, so many years later. After having been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. I am believing that the writing of this healing story to be a part of my therapy. Whatever happened that day at the beach cast a long shadow that has left me deeply affected, deeply disaffected; scarred. And as time and events played out, as I was able to remember and digest the information I experienced, I began to learn the story of what had happened.Hourglass Eyes
I was living like Raistlin from Dragonlance in my nocturnal tower; insomniac, cannabis addicted, incapable of socializing, even of going outdoors. One reason for this is because every time I did, something very out of the ordinary and usually very bleak would happen to me. For example being beaten shitless by baseball cap and hoody tracksuit wearing gangs of teenage 'blads'. Thats what its like living in Zooport, especially if you have dreadlocks. It doesn't matter, its only me and I don't deserve to be here polluting the planet and wasting resources. My guilt over this was atrocious. I was disfunctional.
On rare occasions that I did go out it was often to get involved in humanitarian socialist projects. I was handing out flyers protesting against animal cruelty. SHAC is a grass roots anti-animal abuse organisation dedicated to closing down Huntingdon Life Sciences. If you had seen the videos made secretly inside there, of beagles and monkeys being tortured and beaten, experimented on in grotesque ways... which is still happening now even as you read this, despite animal cruelty laws made by the same uk government that are funding the organisation ...then you would feel as I do; that handing out flyers as part of an underground information campaign is precious little against the tyranny protecting abuse.
Part of the problem the protestors face is that the policY enforcers and uk government consider animal rights liberators to be terrorists. They did blow up a car of a financier of HLS although nobody was hurt, and they regularly make telephone threats to the abusers payed by HLS to do these experiments. SHAC (Stop Huntingon Animal Cruelty) campaigners are notorious not only for targetting the HLS workers but also their families. The hate runs deep. The founders are all behind bars themselves now. For the record, all I ever did was hand out flyers and sign the protest.
My relationship with Dad has always been problematic ever since that day at the beach where I saw that he would rather be with Sam than myself, that I am irrelevant to him, more of a problem than anything, his inferior son, his regret. He pushed me hard against my will to follow in his footsteps and suppressed my own instinctive drive to be myself and go my own way.
There was a huge 'fox hunting' issue advertised by the tv and newspapers as we were growing up and into my teenage years, especially during the political elections. Dad keeps chickens and foxes are a problem. The animal liberation warriors are trying to have fox hunting banned because it is a cruel sport. It is; after traumatizing the poor animal for up to several hours by hunting it, the pack of hounds tears the fox to death. Ripped to shreds. My dad and I could not see eye to eye about this issue, he vented anger like a viking berserker. I couldn't ever understand why he got so enraged over the issue. The man has shot more foxes than anyone I ever met. Surely he would agree that a single bullet is quick, and is enough to protect 'the countryside', and most importantly is so much more preferable to the agonizing death of being torn apart alive by hounds after being chased by a mob of hooligans, most of who live in the city and whose horses cause damage to the countryside they are protecting by churning it up and smashing hedges. It's a passionate issue with an obvious answer, that was used to create a class war and hatred in the people, animosity between police and proletariat and to flush out the 'terrorists' before the two factions could unite against a common enemy, the uk government and their policY state, in terms of common lawful rebellion which is happening now a decade later. But Dad didn't like my opinion nor my smart-arse foresight. Dad didn't like a lot of things about me, for example my cannabis addiction. Sins of the Fathers
'Sins of the Fathers' is a line from Beowulf, perhaps the most famous Norse epic from the sea-faring people called the Vikings. It has stuck in my mind like a puzzle ever since I first heard it. Grandpa was a sailor, during world war two he was posted on an aircraft carrier. All through my life he was into boats, he had a nineteen foot yacht parked up on his driveway when it wasn't at the marina. His dad was blown up in the trenches and taken POW in world war one with shrapnel in his leg. The German army medics fixed it enough that he could escape, limp to the coast, steal a boat and sail it all the way back to the harbor in the little fishing village he grew up in on the east coast of england. So sailing is in the blood; we are of Norse descent paternally. The image of a boat on the wooly jumpers of two little boys with white sunbleached hair, knitted by their Nan, resonates through many layers of meaning, as symbols do.
After the war Grandpa got a job as a bank manager. The very last time I saw him he told me that he had been HLS bank manager. I stopped talking with him after that. I didn't see much of him throughout my life since he lived so far away; in Huntingdon as it happens. I asked him about the animal rights protesters; he laughed and called them irrelevant troublemakers. He said he never saw any signs of animal abuse when he visited HLS. I told him I had seen the video's. He asked me if I was stoned when I watched them. He didn't much like that I smoked cannabis either. Frozen Moment
It was after that I began to remember and assimilate childhood trauma's. The shape of the connection between Dads wrath at animal rights and the victimization of families of HLS workers; activated something in my own memory system. For one, why I had got beaten up by a gang of animal rights protesters on one occasion, just to make a change from the blads doing it.
I remembered back to the day at the beach. There had been something, lurking in the bracken. I occasionally felt it but it was so silent a hunter that it had remained hidden in my blind spot, for all these years. Creeping alongside us through the shadows of the undergrowth, until such moment that our guard was down.
A simple kiss. A moment of giving, of sharing, adoration and Love. A gate moment. A moment frozen in time for all to see.
Dad was so proud of the photo of us boys, they all were. He made a frame for it and gave it to Grandpa and Nan as a gift, a thank you for hiring a caravan for our holiday. It hung in pride of place in their kitchen on the wall opposite the front door for many years. First thing you see. I suppose that it was Dad who took it down after they both died. Nan died of Alzheimer's disease. She went crazy, and bit and scratched and swore and cussed like a wild thing. "I lived with her for sixty years and I didn't even know she knew that sort of language"
Grandpa had said about her while she was ill. He loved her so much he didn't want to see her go into a care home, but he needed the break and was finally persuaded. He stayed with her until the end.
We have now discovered that tetra-hydro-cannibal, THC, found naturally occurring in cannabis is a preventive and cure for Alzheimer's. The 'essential tests' done on animals that will 'medically help humanity' have still not proven anything of the like. The uk government have outlawed cannabis and they fund unnecessary animal testing. Black Light
As time went on I remembered more of that moment.
I had seen it!
I had seen the shadow.
It was very fast and moved like a black lightning, a streak. And its form, its shape...
It leaped off of us, in the same instant that the aperture of the camera was open it attacked and leaped and it streaked directly into the camera. That is what I saw, when my mind was sharp and fast as a childs is, in admiration of something that could exist at such a high frequency, and with frozen fear that something so evil could exist. It was too much for a childs mind and I had blanked it for so many years.
Its shape was that of a monkey. The Gaze and the Gate
Its funny, that I could never bring myself to look at that photo on the wall in my Grandparents house. It subdued me. I wondered, I could feel how much of their time the old folks had spent staring into it through the years, filled with pride at their grandchildren.
And every time they looked at it, the energy of the angry monkey spirit that had latched onto Grandpa when he visited HLS, that had followed my father and us boys, had stalked us, biding its time, waiting, seething, loathing, until the time was right that it could make its strike. Did you ever see David Attenborough nature documentaries about monkeys in the wild, cautiously hunting their prey? It waited until its targets were embraced in a peaceful, loving moment of distraction, a compassion that it had never itself known, having been torn from its mothers love and grown up fast in a cage in a laboratory where the atmosphere of torture and abject cruelty, and the pain, is all it knew. It waited with vengeance as a spirit monkey and transferred itself into the camera, onto the film, into the picture. As it did, catching myself and Sam and Dad up in its spite, the bitterness that it had felt in life perverted our family unit. My childhood innocence was lost there and then in that moment as I experienced in a single split second, all the emotions and sensations of a terrified torture victim, polluted to death by microwave radiation chemical tests. I felt the tests being done to me, smelled the smell. There is a very similar Matthew Broderick film that made me cry for weeks because it was so real.
Slowly over years, as people who had gained from the financial exploitation of the poor simian were absorbed in feelings of love and family invoked by a photograph of cute sweetness; it fed. In exchange, because all energy is in a constant process of exchange; its dirt, the negativity, the crazy fear of an animal being hurt, understanding what is happening but not why; its hatred affected the people living beneath the photo's gaze. It seeped into them, slowly, to make sure. After
I phoned Dad tonight to ask him what had become of the photo, because I am writing about it. He says I can have it. He even offered to post it to me with or without the frame.