Tuesday, August 18, 2009


There are a number of evil words in the language. Well - in and of themselves, mere words can't be evil. What the words stand for can be. And it's generally concepts with no consciousness behind them that tend to be evil.

Take, for instance, prejudice, segregation, anti-semitism anti-black anti-white anti-brown anti-Asian anti-muslim anti-wicca anti-aging etc. Concepts that absolutely do not stand up to the rigour of a sound questioning. Thoughtless, baseless concepts.

So, what does that have to do with the innocent word in my title line? Closure. When we have a relationship break-up, we want closure. When we experience the death of someone close to us, we want closure. When our 32 year old son rails at us, telling us we're dick-heads and that what happened ten or fifteen years ago was evil, just evil, we want closure.

Well, no. The entire concept of closure is indicative of our culture of demanding immediate gratification. I have hopes that the recession has taught us a thing or twelve about the costs of instant gratification, but I'm not holding my breath. We want it, and we want it now. We've lost a girlfriend or boyfriend, and it hurts. Want hurt to stop now, Mummy. Make pain go away. Want "closure". So we go and sleep with Kevin or Juliet and blot out the pain with a Margerita or Rum Collins or too much Elephant beer and go and borrow some money and take two weeks off in Tahiti or Fiji, for shame, and we have closure. We've blotted out the learning experience of pain with alcohol and instant hollow pleasure.

We actively learn to not grow, to find ways of stunting growth. We curl our lip at growth and aging, and want everything to stop hurting and make me feel good now.

We want closure, and we're turning into emotional dwarves by seeking it.

It isn't a major evil, but in twenty years time we're going to start wondering why we're making the same mistakes. Over and over and over.

Actually, I agree with what my son had to say. And when I really examined what he had to say (and this was the work of a giant, let me tell you it wasn't easy) it hurt. But I learnt from it. I love my sons. One of them is aware of it.

READING: "Rats", by Allan Mathews. It's my novelisation of my play "Officers & Rats" and I'm putting a few glossy touches to it. Actually, it's not bad. Totally different to "For The Love of Henry", which regular readers of this blog will know all about.

LISTENING TO: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, "No Quarter". Those gents still have it.

WORD OF THE DAY: Closure. Try leaving the fucking door open, instead of looking for "closure". It's artificial, and it doesn't exist, too.


Actually, to say Mary wore her Necklace every day is an exaggeration. There was a three-month period when she’d been uncertain of her Henry, and had thrown it into a bottom drawer in a fit of pique.
And then she took it out again, prepared a canvas, made five exquisite brush strokes, and delivered it to Henry’s small bed-sit in Wellington.
She took it off for her wedding, and now only wears it on her birthday, anniversary, and well, whenever she feels like it, actually. Henry has only ever given Mary three pieces of jewelry: the Necklace, which always had a capital letter; her engagement ring; and her wedding ring. She treasured the necklace most of all, for it had made her a promise that has kept her happy ever since.
Except for the three months when Henry and Hazel were, well, you know.
The Necklace is now as much a part of the lore and legend of Henry and Mary as the painting is, and the try their son Adam scored against the Southridge High School. It was a try that saved the match, and the day, for the good folk North of the Northsouth Bridge.
The game is an annual fixture, and the trophy played for is the Ugglesworth Shield, which has the point of the self-same bayonet that killed Arthur Ugglesworth mounted on it, over a carved representation of Arthur’s moko. It must be said that honours for the Shield cup usually go down-river, to Southridge. An odd fact about the Shield is this: whenever there’s been a Talbot in the Northridge team, then that team has won the day. There have been eight separate occasions: this was to be the ninth, but the result hung on a knife-edge for most of the game.
This annual fixture is celebrated as one of the great games of schoolboy rugby on the calendar. It’s been played since 1893, and has occasionally been televised. This year, however, the cameras were absent. A pity, for this game was to be one of the classics. The Southridge team’s scrummaging pack outweighed the Northridge team’s by nearly 70 kilograms: it was like having an extra player in the pack. It had been a beautifully sunny Saturday in August, and for nearly 75 minutes the two teams had battled and foraged and run and kicked and rucked and scrummaged and bled and wept and scored on the field, under a winter sun that polished the sky a pale metallic blue.
The game had been evenly poised all the way through: while Southridge dominated in the forwards, the Northridge High’s backs’ adventurous forays onto enemy turf had kept them in touch. But right now Southridge were winning, 21-19, and they were desperate to finally put the Talbot curse to bed. For five minutes they had been camped on the Northridge team’s five-metre line, battering and hammering away with set-piece after ruck after maul and scrum after line-out. The Northridge team’s desperate, scrambling, bloody defence had been beyond heroic, the Southridge team’s attack a battering, scrambling, heaving, thumping and bloody marvel to all who saw it. It was a raging North Atlantic hurricane battering at Holland’s dykes, it was Napoleon’s formidable artillery hammering at Wellington’s regiments of scum at Waterloo, it was Xerxes’ glittering thousands hurling themselves upon the spears of Sparta’s bronzed 300 at Thermopylae, and the Northridge team held, and sweated and wept and brayed their war-cry, and grunted as the young heroes from Southridge cut and sawed and pecked and hammered at them in desperation, muscles shrieking, tears running, eyes blazing, the ball going from hand to ground to toe to hand and bodies were wrestled to the ground and the smack and clamour of hard young bodies thumping into one another, the odd grunt of pain, the growls of victory, the bitter snarl of defeat denied, and then it happened.
Adam was dazed, his shirt torn his vision red with strain and sweat and exhaustion and despair when a minor mountain wearing Southridge’s red and yellow, ball tucked under its arm, screaming triumphantly hurtled toward him, and Adam ducked and spun and turned and reached and talon-fingers grabbed and gripped and stripped the ball from his opponent, and then he ran.

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