Posts Tagged ‘friday flash’

cherries

It is sunny and warm. We all note how that is worth noting, with a sigh. But brush off our English thoughts of climate injustice and act like its just another gorgeous day in the capital. My friend appears in cut-off jeans and a white blouse her face would light up the dingiest gloom  she has what is technically known as:  ‘a sunny disposition’. She sits down opposite me and I see her Jackie-O sunglasses close-up.

We are sat outside Cafe Oto, a hang-out for cool cats that hosts experimental jazz in the evenings. I’m drinking mint tea made with the actual leaves still in the mug. My friend dumps a brown paper bag on the table bursting with ripe cherries. She got them at the market round the corner, we speculate where they’re from – Turkey or Spain or somewhere? ‘Dalston Cherries ‘ doesn’t quite scan despite today’s mediterranean backdrop. Trees of any kind are lacking in this part of town it’s all construction sites, poundshops, hipster bars, dust and bikes. I like to visit but I wouldn’t swap my leafy suburb for all the cherries in the world.

Do you feel – my friend begins, spitting out a cherry stone in between words – ground down by it? She’s referring to my ‘situation’, the one that seems to have been going on forever and still has forever to go.  It is a weird mixture of kafkaesque bureaucracy and earthy pain and, well, that could describe most human phenomena couldn’t it. I’m nothing special. Just another cog in the wheel. Another cherry in the bag. But yes I reply, it’s horrible not being able to say or write what I want. I hesitate, searching for the right word. I suppose there’s some kind of poetry in not knowing how to describe the feeling of not being allowed to describe the feeling of… so it goes on.

The conversation turns to other things: her children, our plans for the summer, the way that I admit my suburban idyll is accompanied by the constant low hum of the North Circular Road nearby. That I’d miss that if I moved. My friend goes over to her bike that she deliberately sprayed with shitty gold-coloured paint to make it look cheap and un-stealable. I watch her dive into the traffic, the remains of the cherries squashing a dark stain into the inside of her panniers.

It’s one of those rare, illuminous life-giving days when I think, no matter how bad things may seem, everything is going to be all right.

I’m always wrong.

I am in the feotal position on my bed, at least I think it is my bed, I am not quite sure the world is spinning somewhat. He is standing over me packing his bag, an army type kit bag he would always cart around when we were an ‘item’. He is telling me that he is a ‘misogynist’ and that he would like to gather an army of ‘misogynists’ against me. I am presuming he means to finish the job. It was less than an hour ago that he stood outside my front door and said ‘I’m going to kill you’ and then he got past the door effortlessly - I know, I am one of those women who doesn’t totally lock herself into her own home, what a slut- and stormed upstairs to drag me around. and grab my throat, and kick me in the back – all those cliches that as far as I’m concerned have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the animal in us all. I’d have done the same given half a chance, given a different viewpoint from my own pathetic masochism. so anyway he said he had this army of misogynists or he wished he did and then when he’d finished packing his kit bag he told me we could play ‘courtroom’. and I knew what he meant, because before, when it was all intellectual conversations and that Nirvana Live at MTV cd he gave me and when he fucked me on the pavement on new years eve down an alley way that I am still worried might have been for an old people’s home. he’d given me that book. Games people play by eric berne. and one of the games was courtroom. games perverts play. and we played courtoom later. nobody won of course. this is courtroom:

Thesis. Descriptively this belongs to the class of games which find their most florid expressions in law, and which includes “Wooden Leg” (the plea of insanity) and “Debtor” (the civil suit). Clinically it is most often seen in marital counseling and marital psychotherapy groups. Indeed, some marital counseling and marital groups consist of a perpetual game of “Courtroom” in which nothing is resolved, since the game is never broken up. In such cases it becomes evident that the counselor or therapist is heavily involved in the game without being aware of it.

Courtroom” can be played by any number, but is essentially three-handed, with a plaintiff, a defendant and a judge, represented by a husband, a wife and the therapist. If it is played in a therapy group or over the radio or TV, die other members of the audience are cast as the jury. The husband begins plaintively, “Let me tell you what (wife’s name) did yesterday. She took the . . .” etc., etc. The wife then responds defensively, “Here is the way it really was . . . and besides just before that he was . . . and anyway at die time we were both . . .” etc. The husband adds gallantly, “Well, I’m glad you people have a chance to hear both sides of the story, I only want to be fair.” At this point the counselor says judiciously, “It seems to me that if we consider . . .” etc., etc. If there is an audience, the therapist may throw it to them with: “Well, let’s hear what the others have to say.” Or, if the group is already trained, they will play the jury without any instruction from him.

Antithesis. The therapist says to the husband, “You’re absolutely right!” If the husband relaxes complacently or triumphantly, the therapist asks: “How do you feel about my saying that?” The husband replies: “Fine.” Then the therapist says, “Actually, I feel you’re in the wrong.” If the husband is honest, he will say: “I knew that all along.” If be is not honest, he will show ‘some reaction that makes it clear a game is in progress. Then it becomes possible to go into the matter further. The game element lies in the fact that while the plaintiff’ is overtly clamoring for victory, fundamentally he believes that he is wrong.

After sufficient clinical material has been gathered to clarify the situation, the game can be interdicted by a maneuver which is one of the most elegant in the whole art of antithetics. The therapist makes a rule prohibiting the use of the (grammatical) third person in the group. Thenceforward the members can only address each other directly as “you” or talk about themselves as “I,” but they cannot say, “Let me tell you about him” or “Let me tell you about her. “At this point the couple stop playing games in the group altogether, or shift into “Sweetheart,” which is some improvement, or take up “Furthermore,” which is no help at all. “Sweetheart” is described in another section (page 107). In “Furthermore” the plaintiff makes one accusation after the other. The defendant replies to each, “I can explain.” The plaintiff pays no attention to the explanation, but as soon as the defendant pauses, he launches into his next indictment with another “furthermore,” which is followed by another explanation—a typical Parent-Child interchange.

“Furthermore” is played most intensively by paranoid defendants. Because of their literalness, it is particularly easy for them to frustrate accusers who express themselves in humorous or metaphorical terms. In general, metaphors are the most obvious traps to avoid in a game of “Furthermore.”

In its everyday form, “Courtroom” is easily observed in children as a three-handed game between two siblings and a parent. “Mommy, she took my candy away” “Yes, but he took my doll, and before that he was hitting me, and anyway we both promised to share our candy.”

ANALYSIS

Thesis: They’ve got to say I’m right. Aim: Reassurance.

Roles: Plaintiff, Defendant, Judge (and/or Jury). Dynamics: Sibling rivalry.

Examples: (1) Children quarreling, parent intervenes. (2) Married couple, seek “help.” Social Paradigm: Adult-Adult.

Adult: “This is what she did to me.” Adult: “The real facts are these.”

Psychological Paradigm: Child-Parent. Child: “Tell me I’m right.”

Parent: “This one is right.” Or: “You’re both right.”

Moves: (1) Complaint filed—Defense filed. (2) Plaintiff files rebuttal, concession, or good-will gesture. (3) Decision of judge or instructions to jury. (4) Final decision filed.

Advantages; (1) Internal Psychological—projection of guilt. (2) External Psychological—excused from guilt. (3) Internal Social—”Sweetheart,” “Furthermore,” “Uproar” and others. (4) External Social—”Courtroom.” (5) Biological—stroking from judge and jury. (6) Existential-depressive position, I’m always wrong.

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extract ‘courtroom’ taken from Games People Play by Eric Berne: http://files.myopera.com/eketab3/blog/The%20Games%20People%20Play.pdf?1355075575

You are my secret coat. You’re never dry.
You wear the weight and stink of black canals.

I don’t feel the cold. Marching through the park my padded jacket keeps out the world. My crimes are not visible, but hidden under layers of quilt. This is how I deal with guilt, wrap it up, keep it covered, just walk.

But you don’t talk, historical bespoke.
You must be worn, be intimate as skin,
And though I never lived what you invoke,
At birth I was already buttoned in.

Cousin coat can hold many secrets. I have mastered the art of picking up pain, putting it inside, zipping it up. It’s just that after a certain number of years, the weight of my sins my unspoken desires the things I wanted to say but didn’t my mother crippled in the residential home that place in the pit of my stomach where the earth opens up and I have to hold my breath to stop myself from falling in has grown unbearable. This coat drags me down into the dark water. It reeks of regret.

And what you are is what I tried to shed
In libraries with Donne and Henry James.
You’re here to bear a message from the dead
Whose history’s dishonoured with their names.

Whenever I enter the university library, to keep warm mainly, and hoping youth’s brazen face might rub against mine, I think of my stepfather. Our house of books that’s become his mausoleum. Raymond Williams, Walt Whitman, Jake Arnott, Paul Scott, Madhur Jaffrey, Elizabeth David, Alice Oswald, Stuart Hall. A year after he died my sister received a letter from his university library, requesting  his overdue books. The letter informed my dead stepfather that he would not be allowed on the premises, until he returned them.  Which made us laugh with hollow gallows humour. But now it’s just the sadness and the feeling of all the shelves of books that I grew up surrounded by, falling on my head, burying me alive.  

Be with me when they cauterise the facts.
Be with me to the bottom of the page,
Insisting on what history exacts.
Be memory, be conscience, will and rage,

I keep walking. The paths criss cross over each other and I sometimes abandon them and stride over the grass sinking into the mud into my past that keeps accosting me in the dark.  One of these days I will take off this coat and everything I collected in every crevice all the bits of tissue I shoved in my pockets with my grief and dust that accumulated the piles of lust and anger and the words that were always forming on the tip of my tongue but fell silently into the folds of the garment before they were uttered will escape.  This coat has not let me forget anything. I flinch at the thought of what will be unleashed when the stories are no longer kept in. I know it will happen soon. I don’t stop.

And keep me cold and honest, cousin coat,
So if I lie, I’ll know you’re at my throat.

Cousin coat by Sean O’brien:http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=1715
Picture from this collection of vintage mug shots of women: http://xaxor.com/bizarre/32978-vintage-mug-shots-of-women.html