A quote from “We All Die in the End”

And I felt a lurch in my stomach as I spoke. People always think they feel things in their hearts, but they don’t – it’s all in the stomach. On Valentine’s Day there should be big red stomachs hanging up in shops, and the cards should say – you are my sweet-stomach, my stomach is all yours, and stuff like that.

Three Haikus

  1. Child of my child, I

scoop you up and hug you, breathe

you in and keep you.

2. Daffodils today;

chuir siad gliondar ar mo chroí,**

glowing, golden bright.

3. A rose, heart-stopping

red, intoxicating scent,

irony of thorns.

** Irish for “they bring joy to my heart”.

“1984” an excerpt . . .

From my dear, old, battered, often read copy of 1984. Read and ponder this paragraph. Can we imagine such a world? No words, no books, no conversation. Dante could have included this scenario in his Inferno! My youngest child was born in 1984 – I didn’t call him Winston.

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Insoc is Newspeak . . . Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”

A Nod to the Master: from Great Expectations.

“Mr Wopsle’s great-aunt, besides keeping this Educational Institution, kept in the same room – a little general shop. She had no idea what stock she had, or what the price of anything in it was; but there was a little greasy memorandum-book kept in a drawer, which served as a Catalogue of Prices, and by this oracle Biddy arranged all the shop transactions. Biddy was Mr Wopsle’s great-aunt’s granddaughter; I confess myself quite unequal to the working out of the problem, what relation she was to Mr Wopsle. She was an orphan like myself; like me, too, had been brought up by hand. She was most noticeable, I thought, in respect of her extremities; for her hair always wanted brushing, her hands always wanted washing, and her shoes always wanted mending and pulling up at heel. This description must be received with a week-day limitation. On Sundays she went to church elaborated.”

Isn’t that mighty? Thank you Mr Dickens!

The loving-est story I ever read.

“The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeves carefully worked down inside Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own shirt, the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one. He pressed his face into the fabric and breathed in slowly through his mouth and nose, hoping for the faintest smoke and mountain sage and salty sweet stink of Jack but there was no real scent, only the memory of it, the imagined power of Brokeback Mountain of which nothing was left but what he held in his hands.”

And:

“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

The most loving story I ever read; I made family and friends read it too – years before the movie, which I also enjoyed.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN by Annie Proulx

From Scene 19: Eugene Curran “We All Die in the End”

The fire is nearly out and I’m getting cold. Drinking this brandy is doing me no good now; I could drink two bottles of it and still be sober. It’s Sunday night again – a whole week since I went to bed in peace. I don’t like Sundays – dead days I call them.

            I remember I nearly fell that night when I was taking off my trousers but I managed to get myself undressed. The curtains were shut tight and I pulled them open – like sleeping in a godamn tomb with them closed like that. I`ve told her and told her. Sometimes I think she does it on purpose.

            It was a calm, quiet night with a bit of a moon and not a sinner about in the street. I stood there looking out the window with not a worry in my head and then I turned to the bed. She was well buried in it and I knew I’d had a bit too much to drink, but a man has to have his bits and pieces and I was going to have my rights anyway.

            I footered about with the rubber for a minute and when it was on I wheaked up her night-dress and laid into her. She was holding her breath with her face turned away, holding herself tight and still. I laid in good and heavy and when I was finished I rolled off and gave her a good push. She deserved it, I thought, lying there like that as if I was a stranger. I should have clocked her one but that’s not the way I work. She spun over onto her side and her knees came up and her head went down. She was like a spider, rolling itself up when you touch it and not a sound out of her – waiting for me to go asleep; my eyes were heavy all right. I pushed her a bit more and she curled up even tighter.

            “What ails you?” I growled at her.

            The bit of a moon was shining in and she was white as a ghost in the bed. I could see she was shaking.

            “Sshhh …the child,” she whispered, pointing to the wall.

            Child, my arse. A big lump of a fifteen year old sleeping his bloody head off. She was more worried about the neighbours, don’t I know what she’s like? All sweet and good morning, missus. She’d die if they heard anything. However I was too tired to go on with it so I lay down again.

            I didn’t feel too bad the next morning, considering . . . There wasn’t much light in the room and the windows were streaming with rain. I thought I’d heard the lifeboat in the middle of the night but maybe I’d only dreamt that.

            There she was, moving about quietly, stooped over as usual. She always stoops – she sort of drops at the knees and pokes her head forward like a hen. It’s because she’s taller than me. I hoped she wasn’t sulking. Sometimes she gets in a huff over the drink and there’s no breakfast until I raise my voice.

            When she left the room I stretched myself and had a good scratch and went to the bathroom. What has she to complain about? Hasn’t she the biggest house in the whole county and only young Pat to look after besides myself? She says he’s getting stroppy but sure the lad is a teenager; a fine lad too, handsome, and broad for his age. He’ll be like myself one of these days, a brave, fine-looking man. Of course I’m getting a bit heavier now about the neck and shoulders but I can carry that. She’ll have to learn to cope with him and not be whinging to me.

            I was moving stuff around in the cabinet, looking for a new blade, when I came across a packet of hair-dye. I took it out and shook it. Notions, I thought. At her age! I nearly laughed, and then I sniffed the air, hoping for rashers.

            Pat was down before me with a plateful in front of him, eyes glued to his phone as usual.

            “That’s the boy,” I said. “Plenty of grub.”

            He flicked his eyes at me, not a word out of him. My breakfast landed on the table and I rubbed my hands together.

            “Yum, yum,” I said, just to see the reaction.

            She moved away sharpish and didn’t speak. She was eating toast at the work top, her shoulders hunched and the spikes of hair sticking up. I took a gander at the head on her; I suppose you could say she was blonde now. Nobody was going to speak only myself by the looks of it. Well, feck the pair of them. It was a good breakfast, best thing after a feed of drink, a good Ulster fry in the morning.

The first page of Catch 22 by Joseph heller, to remind everyone how wonderful it was, and still is, with the best first line ever!

It was love at first sight.

The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice. The doctors were puzzled by the fact that it wasn’t quite jaundice. If it became jaundice they could treat it. If it didn’t become jaundice and went away they could discharge him. But this just being short of jaundice all the time confused them.

Each morning they came around, three brisk and serious men with efficient mouths and inefficient eyes, accompanied by brisk and serious Nurse Duckett, one of the ward nurses who didn’t like Yossarian. They read the chart at the foot of the bed and asked impatiently about the pain. They seemed irritated when he told them it was exactly the same.

“Still no movement? the full colonel demanded.

The doctors exchanged a look when he shook his head.

“Give him another pill.”

Nurse Duckett made a note to give Yossarian another pill, and the four of them moved along to the next bed.

Well, you would just have to keep reading wouldn’t you?

Excerpt from “Life for Sale” by Yukio Mishima

“Reiko would become a happy, loving wife. They would have one child together . . .

The comfortable tomb would be replaced by a new family home, and the tea room refurbished. The thick bushes around the house would be cut back, and the south-facing entrance cleared of most of the vegetation to allow in plenty of sunshine. One Thousand and One Nights would be swapped for a manual on childcare. Hanio would commute to a normal job in a company like he used to . . .

Hanio listened with a growing sense of horror to these vignettes of an imagined life that Reiko was sketching. This was nothing other than a cockroach existence! It was the embodiment of all those bugs scurrying around on a sheet of newspaper. Hadn’t he opted for suicide precisely to avoid ending up like this?”

#CoDownWriter