Origins and daydreams, a short story by Richard A. Ridley. Date added: 2010-10-29. Times viewed: 1441.
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- Intro: There's a lot of autobiographical truth in this, which is highly unusual for me. Wait Until You Die, my first novel, is a modern Gothic romcom set in the eighties. The ebook is available on Kindle. Yjere are some samples here on SF and more info on my MySpace page.
To be honest, when I look back at the past, I find a lot of events I'd rather forget. Although there were quite a few good events I don't mind remembering. I mean it doesn't bother me to remember them, but generally, the early years of my life were fairly pathetic. I don't really want to write about pathos. I don't want to write pathetically. I don't want to make you feel sad. Why should I? You've done nothing to me.
Well anyway, my family was fairly poor, financially speaking, but I wouldn't have minded that, if that was all that was wrong. Basically, the most memorable period can be summed -up like this; step-mother versus kids. The kids in question were my big sister and me, and the step-mother in question was, well, our step-mother. You can imagine it can't you? I mean it's almost like an imagist poem; ‘Stepmother versus kids’. If some imagist poet like Ezra pound had written it, it would look something like this:
My Early Teens, 13/14/15
That's it. Finished; they were very brief were those imagists.. You can flesh it out yourself. Imagine it how you like, but make it depressing, lonely, and above all, a battle you'd rather not have at 13/14/15 years old.Use what you like for inspiration, pantomime, 18th century restoration comedy, Dracula films, The Daleks even. Anyway, like I said, I don't mind remembering some of the happier times. The times before I was thirteen and the battle began. Life was as good as I could have expected, from the circumstances I was in when I was, say, eleven. At that time, my parents had been divorced for seven years, so I suppose I must have been over it by then. I never really thought about my mother. Maybe I thought she was dead. Maybe somebody told me she was. That's the thing with life, if your mother is not around for a long period of time, there will always be somebody around who will tell you she's dead.
She stopped visiting us when I was about five years old. My Dad's mother, my grandmother, was as good as any mother could be, and if she had survived for longer, things would certainly have turned out differently. But when I look back, I mean when I really look back, at those days when I was twelve or younger, I find them tainted by my analeptic knowledge. I mean, I know what was coming later and it clouds the pleasure of the earlier moment. Even the good memories are contaminated. Destroyed. It's hardly worth looking back on, is it? When it's like that.
I know some people who think I'm a bit of a cold bastard, but I'm not. Not really. Not deep down. But some adversities make you react in a certain way. You can't help it. You might appear disconnected, disaffected, disenchanted. Maybe I am all of those. I don't know, I mean I'm not a psychoanalyst or anything. I'm not messed up enough to be a psychoanalyst. Not yet, anyway. But I definitely have social problems.
Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses can't wait to get away from me. I can see the horror in their eyes when I tell them that I don't regard the Bible as the word of God. I don’t regard any book as the word of God. That usually cuts the conversation short. They stare at me intensely, as if at any moment I might take on another form. A hobgoblin for example, or a snake.And they never want to talk about the books I want to talk about. In fact they don't give a damn what I want to talk about. They want to talk about this book, the Bible.
They've got one book and that's it. And all they want to do is talk about it. I look at them, with their neat suits, matching ties, clean-cut haircuts, and I wonder what it's like in their houses. Think of it, their entire bookshelves filled with the same edition of the same book. I find that thought rather depressing. I really do. They're a bit like Robinson Crusoe on his island of despair, only with three books and every one of them a bible.
Although the ones I've met aren't too bad.
Think of it though, say I wanted to discuss Jane Eyre. Imagine if I knocked on your door at seven fifteen in the evening' perhaps while you're grilling bacon, or smoking a joint, or, you know, the 'all-time number one'. And you open the door, and I say, "Hi! I was in the area, and I wondered if you'd considered the deep and supreme message contained within the novel Jane Eyre." And I smile broadly and my eyes begin to glaze over as I think of the sheer joy of reading Jane Eyre. You look at me blankly and say "Well, not really, I was just grilling some bacon." I mean, you're not going to admit to one of the other two, even if you were doing one of them.
Then then I say, "Well, when Jane says 'The sufferings of this mortal state will leave me with the heavy flesh that now encumbers my soul' don't you think that there is a message there for us all?". And I look at you with this big, eyes-glazed-over, cheesy grin. And you say "Well I've never really thought about it", as you stare blankly at your feet and start to shuffle them nervously. And then I stare at you with abject horror, because I'm beginning to think you've never even read the damn book.
Now if I did that, I mean knocked on your door at seven fifteen in the evening and all that, and questioned you about the plot of Jane Eyre and everything, do you think that would stand any chance of turning you into a great big passionate fan of Charlotte Bronte? I doubt it. So what kind of reaction do those Jehovah’s Witnesses think they are going to inspire in me about God? Think about it for a few seconds, I mean really, what kind of outcome would you expect from that sort of encounter?
Anyway, if I was to start writing about my childhood, I think I'd be opening up a gigantic can of worms. An industrial-sized can. I mean the size of can you would open up if you were on a desolate and isolated mountain and you had five thousand people to feed and you were going to feed them worms.
To tell you the truth, I spent a lot of my childhood daydreaming. I suppose it was a retreat into fantasy. There used to be a phrase called 'arrested developement' and I wouldn't be all that surprised if thet term had been applied to me. Anyway, one of my most frequent dreams was about this huge limousine pulling up outside our council house. One of those long, black, shiny millionaire-plaything type cars with whitewall tyres and a glass screen to isolate the driver from the passengers. The sort of vehicle that when it goes past you in the street, if it's travelling slowly enough, you can catch a glimpse of your reflection in the gloss of the paintwork. Your own image stares back at you, reflected like a mirror in the gleaming enamel coachwork, and the reflection shows you exactly how destitute you are.
Well I used to imagine one of those chrome-plated fat-cat taxis turning up , and some sanguine, slim, grey-haired old gentleman, wearing evening dress and a big gold watch, maybe with a top hat and a silver-topped cane, and any number of other comic-book clichés, getting out and knocking at our door. My dad answers the door and this top-hatted toff tells my dad that there's been a terrible mistake, that there was some kind of administrative error at the hospital when i was born and that I'm not really part of this family and that I'm really the Lord of this, or the Earl of that, and if my dad will only inspect the paperwork the case will easily be proved, and can he take his Lordship home immediately to his rightful country seat in Hertfordshire?
Like I said, I used to daydream about that scenario an awful lot. I really used to enjoy indulging in that daydream. I don't know why. I mean, I hate the aristocracy. Really, I mean it. I hate their smarmy guts.
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