Thursday, 15 March 2012

Silverhip (part two)

I learnt a lot from Silverhip, good stuff began to sink in slowly and to rub off on me. I smiled more, talked and listened more. I learnt to forgive; to let go of some of the hurt, the anger, the bitterness. He taught me how to see my parents from a new perspective. I saw for the first time who they had been and who they had become, with their own wounds. The cruelty and violence of their childhoods. The desperate hopeless hope of loving each other without knowing love. The disappointments and failings. I understood how and why it had all happened. I suppose I started to love them or at least feel for them. He assured me another way was possible.

I tried, failed, then pretended I'd read the Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy and other books that he and his friends had read, analysed and deemed worthy. I couldn't get past the second page of most of them. I swear I tried. I remember reading the same line over and over. The same names over and over. Stupid names . . . They meant nothing to me. How come they meant so much to them.

I hadn't the foggiest idea who I was, but I was sure if ever I did find out it wouldn't be someone like them. I didn't dislike them, I wouldn't go that far . . . I just didn't connect with them, or anyone else really. I could only think, at the time, that it had to do with intelligence . . . They were well spoken, I wasn't. They'd been to Uni, I hadn't. They read . . . But I just didn't get it. I knew I wasn't stupid. At least that's what exam results showed. Why did I not feel as good as these people.

These people being Silverhip's friends. I'd never seen a true friendship close up let alone experienced one. I was fascinated, it was like studying another species. Ok they drank some, usually of the homemade ale or elderberry dishwater wine variety, they smoked spliff and chilums but they managed to be wholesome throughout. Wholefoods were their thing. Brown rice. Brown bread. Brown stone storage jars. It was all a bit too healthy for me. I had, of course, absolutely nothing to say to them. And when I did "test" an opinion a comment (I didn't own an opinion) it sounded so wrong to me. Imagine how it sounded to them. What the fuck was wrong with me? I was baffled by them and their opinions of everything . . . Yes everything. They knew so much, I presumed they were right. As far as I was concerned the fact that they had an opinion meant they were right . . . where had they learnt to do this? What was it called?

Politics?? . . . Now you might not believe me here . . . then again you might . . . I had no idea that a government "ran" the country until I was 16 . . . I'd never heard of politics.
Art? . . . what art? . . . did they draw I wondered. No, no, Art . . . you know . . . yes of course you do, theatre, museums, literature. Well I didn't know. What I did know for sure is that I was "less than" them and it was obvious to me that they knew this too. Weirdo.

After improving a few bedsits and flats we ended up renting a quarter of a huge country mansion about ten miles from the city. It was freezing cold, we had way too many rooms and could barely heat one. A bedside drink would freeze over in the night. Silverhip bloody loved it there; he possibly fantasised that he was Lord of the Manor. We drove to the city every day in a Cossack dnepr 650, a Russian ex-military bike with side-car . . . on the wrong side, so I was in the middle of the road. He was eccentric but not mad and eccentric. It was the madness I missed. He might have started "reading" The Guardian around this time . . . I noticed he didn't tackle the crossword in that one.
We shared roughly the same taste in music. I can't say I enjoyed The Alan Parsons Project but I probably pretended I did. We went to real ale festivals, classic bike rallies, live music events . . . I worked in the nearby city training in accounts, played bodrhan and added vocals in "No Strings attached" and showed signs of progression. I was almost civilised. All was well . . . So well we planned to marry. . . On the fifth day of May.

When I say all was well, I mean almost all. All except my infidelities. Although I was honest and he was forgiving almost to the point of turning a blind eye, I had a feeling this was wrong; it shouldn't be happening. I tried and failed to change my behaviour. I couldn't stop it so I had to stop the relationship instead. I couldn't stop it because as much as I liked Silverhip, he didn't really do it for me . . . O no, he was far too normal and nice for that. The problem was that none of my "indiscretions" did it for me either. I'd made a promise not to contact Higgins and I kept it for three years.

We moved into separate flats back in the city to see how things went. I'll tell you how things went . . . I was on the phone to Higgins the next day. Any feelings of concern I had about contacting him after three years were bowled off course by feelings of a different nature when I heard his voice. O that voice. Yes of course he could come over . . . When? . . . Tonight? Yes tonight is fine . . . Perfect. Of course tonight, yes. Good Lord . . . Yes!
Three years had passed . . . It was mid-afternoon, only three more hours to go. I hadn't been this excited in years. Chain smoking my B&H . . . Smiling like a Cheshire cat. It was Spring 1982.


Photos to be added as soon as I've found them . . . I promise. There are a lot to go through.


  1. You write like a dream. I am horrified that you thought you were 'lesser' than anyone. But totally understanding. I was in my thirties before I realised I was not stupid. Not very anyway.
    It seems to be a common thing for so many of us - it is much easier to believe a bad thing about ourselves (regardless of who said it, or even if it was said at all) than it is to accept a compliment.

    1. Thanks EC I always look forward to your comments.
      I wonder why it takes us so long to get a bit of self-belief . . . Well, some of us.
      I hope my kids grow up feeling good about themselves. I wonder how much is nature, how much nurture.
      Ooo I think I better have my second coffee before I dwell on that one ;-)
      The sun is breaking through, the bag of grass seed is beckoning.

    2. It sounds to me that they played off your ignorance - loving that you thought they were all that. I'm glad for your sake that you broke away - as much as they may have helped you in some respects, you would have still felt like less than they were.

    3. Hey Jeannie I lost you in the replies. I don't think Silverhip played off me in any way . . he was far too kind. His friends just kind of tolerated me for his benefit. But yes I definitely needed to move on . . . and on . .

  2. No knowing who we are... I'm still guilty of that - or at least playing the being what we think others think we ought to be... I'm definitely still guilty on that charge. I did a post on the things people regret when they die there is a book I'm not sure really I want to read but am intrigued... anyway there at number 1 (TOTP music and Jimmy Saville impersonation at the ready) "Yes folks still at numero ono it is - I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." Holy Crap! Not only am I not unique in thinking this it is (from the research behind this anyway) the thing most people regret! Still I don't learn!

    fantastic recollections btw - I struggle to remember last Tuesday let alone the 80s and there is a very very large chunk of the late 90s that appear to have never really happened to me at all!

    1. I'm not sure when I stopped trying to be something else . . . I'm sure I'll find out as I carry on writing my story.
      Yes, the memories from back then are clear as day . . . They may become a bit murky when I reach 2000. Some recent stuff is clear, a bit too clear for comfort . . . but other things the kids remind me of I really can't remember :-/
      I will try and update today as I've been struggling a bit. No, I haven't gone back to the gear but it has taken up way too much head space in the last few days. I've had to fight it and that worries me incase one day I don't have much "fight" in me.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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    3. Screwed up...

      OK excuse AA speak but "no defence against the first drink" however you get finally to a habit where you get that obsession out of your head.

      It took me about 9 months. I was writing a daily gratitude list on the advice of another AA - he suggested at the top I always write "Haven't had a drink today" then carry on with other things however big or small I was grateful that day...

      So this day about 9 months in I write that at the top and go on down then I think - "Hold on"... I went back crossed that out and wrote... "Haven't thought about wanting a drink today" I underlined it until the paper was tearing. That was a major moment for me. I can't and won't say ever minute of every hour of every day has been like that since then but it has got less and less and less- these days the thoughts about taking a drink are very rare and often a bit alien and odd and I let them drift out my head I don't have to tackle and battle the obsession like I did in those early days.

    4. Thanks for your reply. I might try that gratitude list. I would try NA but the nearest one is in the city and I have no transport. I suppose I could try it on my own. It's always good to hear from people like you who are so far down the line. Thanks

  3. I can't wait for the next installment. You should really put this in book form...there's a budding author in you dying to get out (so you might as well get paid to do it!).

    1. Hi . . . I wish! I've probably got enough material but I think I'd need to polish up my grammar. It's like drawing, some days it flows other days I sit and stare at the keyboard/paper.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm enjoying your blog. Take care.

  4. Hiya,
    Great post, excellent writing, very honest & straight from the heart.
    I think that to an extent we are all guilty of playing up to the ideas that we think other people have about us, it goes something like this, " I am, who I think, you think I am " or you can turn it around " You are, who you think, I think you are " ha LOL
    This theory even has a name which is escaping me at the moment, I thought I'd throw it in because you said you weren't up to thinking much today,(I think way too much for my own good)There must be a cruel streak in me somewhere.

    I'm loving your recollections & am so pleased you are doing so well.
    Love & Respect.....xKarl

    1. Hi Karl. Hamper G has my laptop, so I'm on my son's and somehow I've reduced the size of everything and have no idea how to get it back. I can barely see what I'm writing so scuse mistakes. I think now I've almost got to 50 I've earned the right to be me . . just me. Not even who I think I am, just who I am. I'm glad you're liking the archives. Thanks Bugerlugs x

  5. There is no accounting for the things we do when young. I don't know anyone who thought they were "alright" or even "OK" when they were young.

    I love you could see your parents as the products of their own childhoods and problems. All the parent bashing on the blogs makes me crazy, although I do admit to my own occasionally:(

    The guy seems nice...too nice. You too would not have been happy, I think, over the long haul.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Hi Lou, Yes down with the parent bashing I say!
      He was a nice guy, is a nice guy. He used to come to me in France for holidays with his wife. She is far more functional that I could ever have been (and middle class ;-)
      I wasn't ready to settle . . . as I go on with the story I might find I was never ready to settle. Until I was alone.
      Thanks for reading and commenting Lou. I'm so happy for Andrew.

  6. What a spectacular story teller you are. You know just where to leave us hanging so that we can't wait for the next chapter!

  7. Ahhh, crazy youth. I don't think that I thought about much except women when I was a teenager--well, I did study. But then there were the fantasies. It's just part of the stages in life. We go through some crazy times. Great story.