Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 10 April 2016


Drowning Women

Why did you bring him with you?

He is not welcome.

My feelings were clear.

Stop struggling: you're clouding the water.

Please stop.


Please stop.

Do you know what you've done?

23 March 1989

In March 1989 my life was filled with women. There was F. and B. and a veritable alphabet of others. It was, in some respects, a wonderful time. The Drowning Man was, however, rising to the surface:

Almost without exception, a dead body lying on the bottom of a river or lake will come to the surface again. This is due to gas formed in the body tissues as decay occurs. When enough gas has formed to inflate the tissues and distend the skin, the body becomes lighter than water and rises to the surface – The Biology of Drowning

There’s a common expression: muddying the water. It’s what I found myself doing. Instead of looking to F. to satisfy my emotional needs—this was never about sex—I found that there were others who could give The Drowning Man something to hang on to; in some cases literally. He started to spoil perfectly good friendships. Once everything had been clear, we all knew where we stood; now we didn’t.

The layout is deliberate. Each line in a separate stanza. The poem is supposed to be read with a pause in between every line/stanza and what was going through my head was the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where Dave Bowman is turning the computer, HAL9000, off. Remember the machine pleading at the end?

Stop, Dave. I'm afraid, Dave. Please . . . stop.

It’s not in the original script. They must’ve improvised that bit.


Gwil W said...

A bridge over the Danube was built in the 1970's but nobody thought to check the pylons under the water between then and now because they couldn't see them anyway and because (they said) the water was too turbulent and muddy. I think they've now had look and found some rust or something. It's not at all clear. They say the bridge is quite safe but they will fix it anyway. That's how it is these days Jim. Muddy water every place you look.

ps- I just discovered the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. It's a religious charity (registered in UK and other countries) that the reformed crusader (he of the mega hit George and Tony Show) wants people to donate to. Now Tony has all the answers to the world's problems. Well, he always did.

Here's sand in your eye,

Jim Murdoch said...

People always talk about moments of clarity, haven’t you noticed that, Gwilym? It’s never hours or days of clarity from which we can deduce that clarity is not life’s norm; the waters have—and always will be—muddy. As far as the Tony Blair Faith Foundation goes my dad told me a long time ago that religion and politics don’t mix and yet, oddly, didn’t see the perversity in the fact he believed in a theocracy.

Jonathan Chant said...

Neat poem Jim. Sinister, that stuff about bodies.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Jonathan, and, yes, it is. Of course I never did any research before writing this poem. It was 1989 and there was no Internet for the likes of you and me. I was faffing around with an old ZX Spectrum at the time. Christ I feel old!

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