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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017



I've been gnawing on the bones of the past for years.
I dig them up every now and then
but it's comforting just to know they're there.

It's an unmarked grave, the past,
but I know where it is.

6 April 1991
I’m a cat person. I don’t hate dogs and I’ll pet anything that’ll let me but I don’t get dogs. Loyal and obedient they may well be but there’s an underlying stupidity there I allow to annoy me. At least it comes across as stupidity. I think the main problem is dogs are so unabashedly enthusiastic they never think anything through; they plunge through life. And yet we have the simile: like a dog with a bone. I’ve seen dogs with bones. Not many but enough to get the point. Cats can be every bit as territorial. Hell my tiny cockatiel will face up to me if I try to interfere with a cardboard box he’s busy chewing holes in. “My box! Mine!”
I’m not sure when nostalgia befell me but it crept up on me in my fifties. One day I found myself looking up, needing to look up people online I’d not thought about in over thirty years. I’d had Internet access since 1996 but it took me until, say, 2010 to think to do this. I’d never been one for looking back not even to watch the bridges burn. As I said in Living with the Truth: “Nostalgia—sounds like an ailment, a sickness of the soul perhaps.” And later in Left: “I’m not prone to bouts of nostalgia or even retrospection, not normally (I’m making an exception for you here); introspection, yes, I like being inside my own head, I’m comfortable in my own skin…”
These poems I’ve been posting for the last while are bones I’ve buried. I know where they are, on the bottom shelf behind me in the office. They used to all fit in one big red binder but now they’re in two and ‘Bones’ is in the Garfield binder. I treat them like reference books. Christ knows the last time I sat down and just read any of them for my own enjoyment. I don’t need to read them. But I do need to have them.


Kass said...

Jim - I'll comment on this post in a minute, but I needed to hurry and respond to the package I just got in the mail. Thank you so much! I loved reading this in draft form and I'm very grateful for the mention of my name in the Acknowledgements. I don't get notifications anymore, for some reason, when a comment has been responded to on Blogspot. I guess I need to click on something. I made a number of comments on some of your poems when I got a minute to catch up, but I don't know how to see if you responded, short of scrolling through your whole blog again.

I enjoy the thought of having bones, but not needing to dig them up.

Someone has said, "...nostalgia is a seductive liar." And I agree with you, it DOES sound like an ailment. I guess I enjoy certain maladies.

Thank you ever so much for your generous gift!

Jim Murdoch said...

As and when you have time, Kass. I always appreciate your comments but we’re all busy and sometimes it’s hard to think of what to say. I’m glad you’ve got the book. You were a great help and deserve your namecheck at the end. It’s different holding it in your hand, isn’t it? It was no less of a book when I sent you the file but it feels more like a book now. Jessica Bell posted a photo on Facebook when she got her copy and for some reason seeing someone hold the thing in her hand pleased me no end. It’s out there now.

As far as nostalgia goes I do have to agree with George Ball (Newsweek, 1971 in case you wondered) but I wish I could rid myself of it. I’m well aware I’m looking at the past through rose-tinted lenses and it wouldn’t be so bad if I got any comfort from it. It’s not like pulling down an album and only playing your favourite tracks. Nostalgia never makes me feel better. Not for a minute.

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