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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Driving in your car: Part 4



Clear blue light

Blue light driving is a skill you need to be trained in, mentored in, allowed to mature in. It’s not “natural” driving it’s nor about driving from A to B quickly, it’s about delivering a fragile package on time through hostile traffic when under duress. My eyes are closed but I can see, I can see the ambulance roof, I can pick out the fabric design on the roof lining, cables and conduits, lights and flashes at the corners of my eyes, even though they are closed. It seems I have two sets of eyelids, working with and against my conscious mind. I am the blinded man who sees through the veil of sleep. I see the truth and the roof.

Dead men in ambulances, live men resting in hearses, smoking cigarettes, eating rolls containing flat sausage and brown sauce, blowing smoke rings shaped like skulls, secure and insecure and badly described. They are queuing up to take away my remains. Those in the wider world are desperate to perform a commemorative ceremony, they want to “say a few words” and write some meaningless drivel on cards they bought from a witless supermarket. They may make a donation to some charity connected remotely with the circumstances of my death, a big help to me now. Most of all they want my day of saying farewell to be over so they can get on. I don’t want a bunch of petrol station flowers attached to a fence post with tie wrap near the point where my car left the road. This is not a special or holy spot. It’s just somewhere between the road and the fields and there is a hard boundary there that I have now crossed.

When I joined the Army Cadets I really thought I could have a career in the army. I’d avoid the basic training and join as a junior at the ripe old age of fifteen and a half. I’d sign on for nine years for the extra pay and that would be that. I’d drink bottles of Piper Export, smoke, eat pies and fried eggs and do what I was told. There would be fear on my part, I’d be insecure, my naivety would be exploited but ultimately I’d come good. I may end up in Germany or Singapore. Perhaps if, despite my attempts not to shine, I did shine, I would be recognised and singled out, I’d be promoted eventually and get even more Piper Export.

I fight the white light that makes no sense. I throw down the cross of Jesus that I have refused to carry any more, I touch the silver chain that is around my neck, the one I have worn for eleven years. Everywhere in the universe there is magnetism, electricity and cosmic dust. I return to supp on the sap of the universe. I overhear static electrical celestial phone calls. Words, numbers and mathematical formulas flash before me as if to offer an explanation. A deep cut is made to sever the spiritual from the physical and I duck to avoid the final haymaker punch. Death is like being pricked by a drawing pin or sleeping in for an appointment or dozing after a heavy meal, falling asleep in the cinema, buffeted of a roller coaster, flying from the pillion of a fast moving motorcycle. Sitting at the bottom at the deep end. Hearing a conversation tail of without ever having really been part of it. Drinking two bottles of red wine. Hanging up the phone. Pressing the delete key over and over and over again.

Ah! the sweet smell of a pig farm. Peter O’Toole.

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