Monday, 18 August 2008

Childhood Fears

On my way to work today I passed a small black crow just standing on the path staring into space. As I passed it the bird didn’t move. Wow what a tame bird I thought. Hey wait a minute…. I inspected closer and the bugger was dead! Just standing there lifeless but in pristine condition, like a drive by taxidermy. I always used to have a random fear of being close to animals when I was a kid, I grew up with two budgies and I barely laid a finger on them, as I prodded the dead crow with a stick I felt a strange sense of pride that I never would have done that when I was seven. When I think about it, all my childhood fears were fairly ridiculous, show me an exploding head I wouldn’t flinch but these other things… well many a sleepless night was had. Such mad nuggets include:

Being in the sea and stepping on a crab

The bit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Christopher Lloyd’s eyes bug out.

I used to run out of the room when Bill Bixby changed into the Incredible Hulk. My uncle’s resemblance to him scared me even more and I once refused a piece of Battenburg from him out of pure fear.

People finding out I couldn’t tie my shoelaces when in fact I could, just in an odd way.

The Channel 4 sign was always a recurring nightmare for me, there was always something about it I found oddly menacing and a typical nightmare would consist of me trying to run away from it and it would shape shift through any obstacle in it’s path, whenever it caught me I would always wake up before it could attack. How it would’ve attacked me I don’t know but something in my daft head was scared shitless of it and I just had to time my Channel 4 viewing like turning on The Crystal Maze late so I’d miss that ominous logo.

Poking that crow didn’t get rid of my demons, growing up and realizing how dumb they were did, but it reminded me of how much I’ve changed, yet next time I’m in the sea that bastard crab will no doubt be waiting...

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Saluting Harvey Keitel

Here are a collection of my favourite Harvey Keitel scenes. Not from his best films by any means, but they perfectly capture the great man's range.

When Harvey Keitel is in love, there's only one way he can express it.

I do this when I listen to Liverpool games.

If you ever wondered what Harvey Keitel impersonating Elvis looking like Johnny Cash dressed as Elvis....

Friday, 1 August 2008


Start this video and then scroll down to read, the video is nothing special but I want you to listen to the music as you go on. Unless you like the idea of hearing it over what looks like a deleted scene from Tron.

If you have been following this blog you may recall me writing briefly about spirituality and faith last time round. I'm not suddenly a preacher or even religious, but this week has shown me a thing or two. My Aunt was many things to many people, A nan for my brothers, A mum for my stepmother and a wife for my uncle. My family is quite large and complex, but she was an integral part and it has only begun to sink in just how much we'll all miss her. She was deeply religious and a strong Christian.

Tuesday after a long morning travelling I was alone with the boys for an afternoon. It was the first time they'd been without their parents and it was daunting to think of how I could look after them without mum and dad. But they were angelic and the time flew, it was tiring but I changed the nappies and raced imaginary motorbikes without problems. When they returned from church you could swim in the relief that I hadn't cocked up at all. They went to bed late and dad and I had to get bits from Tesco. We set off at half eleven groggy and tired. My stepmother started tidying...

Joe had been talking all day of a certain toy he wanted; an EVE from WALL-E. So in Tesco we had a good look for it and after turning over the WALL-E stand they had every toy but that one. Dad considered an alternate but in a sudden outburst of stubbornness I was adamant that it had to be that one. I checked the time on my phone, it was 11:58. I was walking away from the toys until I stopped. I turned and went back and with no real effort I just plucked the toy he wanted from the least likely place hidden away. I thought nothing of it and I just cracked a joke with Dad and bunged it the trolley. Meanwhile back at the house....

My step-mum is loading the dishwasher and she looks up at the clock; 11:58pm. This was the time Briar passed away it turned out. She stopped cleaning and went to sit in the lounge. The hallway door had swung wide open with no breeze or open window. As she watched it just slowly closed itself, quietly and discreetly so as not to make a sound. When her brother Matthew returned from my Uncle's we shared our experiences and he shrugged it off. Not dismissively but with a 'oh she's been interfering all the time'. He went on to list a string of ridiculous coincidences and twists of fate, all minor things but a clear sign that Briar in some way was still around. The way the cookbook fell on her Welsh cake recipe, the two button suit he bought subconsciously despite his hatred of them (she was fond of them); the way the cakes tasted just like hers even though his girlfriend had never made them before; the font for the order of service changing on an unused computer. He went on for ages. When he mentioned her full name to us all a warm breeze permeated the room. He looked to the door again and reopened it, it felt to us like she was eavesdropping. Once the conversation moved elsewhere it cooled and she seemed absent. Weird eh?

Wednesday was the funeral and although I wanted to go I was the only one who could look after Joe and Billy so it was a long afternoon entertaining a six year old and a two year old at the same time. Parenting is tough, but in a way those two days proved I was more capable than I thought. I was to have my own time at the cemetery the next day and I considered that to be my time to say goodbye. We got dinner at the Llanelli Domino's and it's amazing how, well, Welsh it is. English is the second language and perhaps my fake accent was all that stopped our pizza getting laced with butane.

Thursday, of all the days was her birthday. We commemorated it in the way she had planned. We went to the beach, in the cold lashing rain and harsh wind so Joe could fly his kite. At first it just flopped to the sand and dragged along but with perseverance and a sudden gust it soared up into the sky. It was a beautiful moment, Joe and Billy racing along the beach shouting happy birthday into the clouds. My step mum was inconsolable; so proud of her boys. The weather forced us off the beach and before leaving the clouds parted and in that little pocket of sunshine we parked overlooking the horizon and played Clair de Lune, one of Briar's favourite pieces of music. We all sat silently for those five minutes but after so long being a strong shoulder I caved in. I couldn't bear to look at anything I just bowed my head and fought the tears. I'd lost a lot lately and it was my moment to let it go. That song will always remind me of that, It still loops in my head and it will for a while. It's the most delicate piece of music I've ever heard. Matt took me to the cemetery and the rain had not been kind to the plot, I felt sad but realized my moment was at the beach earlier, I paid my respects and left quickly, Matt was feeling uncomfortable around it and I did too. I had a quick joke and nostalgic talk with my uncle before saying goodbye. Of everyone in my family I feel the most sadness for him. It's hard to see what he has left in his life but I see in him a desire to pursue causes Briar would have been proud of and I hope to help where I can and be around for him a bit more. He also owes me a pint, add that to the two my dad owes me maybe I can work towards a pub lunch.

Now I'm back home and still pretty jaded but a part of me is better off from my time away, my family bonds feel closer than ever and it's sad that the last time I felt that was after my Grandma died. The irony is that funerals always brings a family together but there'll always be one missing. Something even in my glass half empty brain tells me that Briar is around somewhere though.