flav playing

flav playing

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

time tugs at us, in tireless waves...

I'm sitting in my classroom, listening to Victor Jara's 'Padre Nuestro', brought in by a pupil. It comes as an echo from distant times and places, from a different world... I was playing that song in 1972 in Venezuela, in the local rallies of the M.A.S. hippie, new age socialist party in Caracas. I really believed that the world could be changed for the better, and that we could help bring that about and that we didn't need to die. But he sings 'now and in the hour of our death, amen'. And that came about so soon afterwards, in such a horrible way, Jara having had his hands cut off alive, in front of a crowd, by the defenders of Western Christian Civilisation....

Thirty five years on, Chile is a different place which I still have not visited. The scars from the hideous past seem to have healed, although the things that were at the origin of those terrible acts probably have not. I am no longer young, and yet I live as if I was, just the continuation of the life I've lived seemingly forever, whilst in those old days my father could chide me remarking that 'I was older than he was'. And yet, 'I didn't know shit'. And it was true, I didn't. I didn't have a clue of how the world worked, how my fellow humans or myself functioned, how we respond to stimuli and pressure and how we behave in groups and societies and these interact with us. I was coming from the hippie ethos, the old Woodstock chanting mantras, : 'maybe if we think really hard we can stop the rain'. Today I hear a class of kids sing in a classroom far away. It may be the school choir, they're actually singing in tune. Somebody plucks a guitar nearby, hammering out a pop song. The past is long dead, but it can still give me heart-ache, a longing for what was and perhaps even more for what failed to be, both for me, for my family, my country, my continent...

Thirty five years. It is very difficult to take that in. Thirty five years ago I was of the age of some of the people I hang out with today. Spider is that age, Hemma nearly is. A bitter ex-girlfriend was saying to me that it was impossible to have true friendships with people in those age groups. that had such different backgrounds and frames of reference, because of the age gap, but of course that was also the case for me with her, because not of an age gap but an equally vast existential chasm between what she'd lived and me; there are always chasms between our make up and experience of the world, and I do have true friends in those groups. But at the same time, they cannot share that longing for something that I lived almost only by proxy but they not at all, not even as an echo of something large and tragic taking place far, far away. And now also so, so very long ago.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

stone steps

More stone steps, leading to the right. There another door awaits, an old wooden door with peeling paint, more concrete steps and two doors. I start opening one of them but the light is blinding -it  does lead out but I cannot open it, the light is too bright and it blinds me. I take the other door.. there are more concrete steps, more peeling paint on the walls, a small long room with bare, grey broken concrete floor.

I know this to be my house, my old house in Catia, but it is nothing like I remembered, this labyrinth of steps and closed doors, these dilapidated walls, this maze of doors closed suggesting worlds beyond...

Monday, May 07, 2007

daydream time threads

Sunday; May 6, 2007 4:21 PM

the afternoon lingers and becomes more and more heavy while my pupil plays her version of Lauro's Petronila and I drift into a curious mental state in which I seem to occupy several places in the past at the same time. I'm on the top floor of my primary school looking over the roofs of the neighbouring houses. I'm on the flat roof terrace of another house, that of my friend Eglis Diaz, he who was the conqueror of girls while I was the ugly sidekick, slightly envious and strangely proud that someone like that would choose me as their friend. And always falling in love with the beautiful girls who were never going to pay any attention to me. Or maybe I'm in Rutny's living room, ruminating on what my sister had said ("she fancies you, she fancies a fling with you") and not knowing what to do about it, and the opportunity was lost forever to liaise with the most beautiful girl I ever was near when I was young, as beautiful and interesting as the one I was so stupidly, obsessively, unrequitedly in love with at that horrible secondary school I studied in, the 'liceo Luis Ezpelosin'. It doesn't matter now, they have, like me, grown old and grey and have a string of children and even grandchildren and I am almost the same kid even if I too have become old whilst still living my immature adolescent life with the tribes of London.

Or I could be wandering down the streets round the back of Perez Bonalde in the blazing afternoon sun, without any real purpose although my sister was in Rutny's house and I was supposed to pick Isaura up or something. Instead I wandered about, not really thinking of anything but letting everything around -the sun rays, the green leaves of the plants in the front gardens, the colours of the houses, of the sky) soak and marvel me at the mystery of existence, although I probably wouldn't have used those words but the sentiment, or rather the feeling, was that.

I still find remarkable that up to a very late age (mid-teens at least) I had no real idea of how the world worked. I didn't really know the mechanisms of society that enabled my dad to bring food to the table or drive us to Arrecife (that one ugly coastal town in the Caribbean where we went every week-end, nine months in the year) or to keep us dressed and in education. I think I was of the Woodstock fest stop the rain school of thought: 'if you close your eyes and think really hard you will stop bad things from happening'.. in spite of the repeated disappointments I still believed in this, deep inside, and still do, which is a constant, every day battle against the belief in 'fate' and that the universe resonates along with you and will work in harmony with you. I would literally close my eyes at night and wish for that girl to love me. No real idea of how to go about it in the real world, just wish it hard and it might happen. Or for the dysfunctional situation in my family to get sorted out. Well, I wouldn't have used such a word then, but I clearly knew that my family was not like any of my friends' family.

My pupil's lesson is coming to an end and I am forced back to the present reality, so many years after, so very far away. I still find myself to be, though, that shy, socially inept boy, wishing the world different but not quite knowing how to make it happen, sceptical and yet superstitious. Wake up from the daydream for now, things to do, people to see. And yet the stream of those stories keeps running underneath inside my soul.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Sunday; March 4, 2007 6:53 PM

I woke up in the middle of the night, but didn't stir and pretended I was asleep. My dad and my grandad (my mother's father) were rummaging in my wardrobe. I knew what they were after. I had found it in my grandad's storage room. It was a very old, nineteen forties calendar with a sepia, very much retouched photograph of a naked blonde woman. I don't know how old I was, perhaps eleven or twelve, much younger than that in many ways. I nicked the calendar and showed it to my friend Eglis, who sneered "she hasn't got a pussy, they've airbrushed her bits out". And they had. But that made the image purer and closer to the world of the mind, or something. My sister's dolls, who together with my soldiers and action figures inhabited a world populated by characters and personalities that we had assigned to them, were like that, without 'bits'. I don't think that was in the mind of my grandad, surely irate that I should have nicked the calendar, or my dad's, angry that my grandad should keep such filth in the house. I was too young yet to think of that image in terms of filth. Give me a year or two...

The earliest I remember falling in love.. well, it wasn't falling in love at all, it could have been around the same times as the calendar episode. I can't remember her name or what she looked like, which is typical as I suspect I always tended to fall in love not with a person, but with an idea of a person, a construct lacking any real connection with the person who was supposedly the object of that love. She was I think in the next year up, which would have made her hopelessly much older than me, a whole year. And I was invisible, a situation which I much liked as it meant fewer fights on the way out of school, fewer conflicts of all sorts and even less attention from the teachers, which I did not relish. So that was fine by me, except that now there was somebody whose attention I wanted to grab. Pity that my own attention span wasn't that great and I would from one moment to the next go from swooning over this girl whose name I perhaps knew then but certainly cannot evoke now, to poring over picture books with dinosaurs -Stegosaurus, I liked that one a lot. And forget about the girl, at least until next time...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

parallel lives of flavio

It only takes very little to rekindle illusion. One word or one gesture, one glance or one night of sex or one walk through a cobble-stoned street at dusk. then you forget how hard it all really is, how many times you've been Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill, or the minnow trying to hide from the sharks, or the bird of prey condemned to die because he has discovered compassion, or empathy, things out of the natural world that he inhabits...

i always knew I wasn't made for this world. when I was a child I had this fantasy, that I had been sent here as a kind of observer by the powers of that place or entity I had come from, for which, being six or seven years of age,, I had no better name than 'Imaginary City'. But I was convinced (I 'knew') that it wasn't something I had imagined, that it had a real, objective existence outside of my child's mind.

as the days wear on, so the glow of that magic moment -the night of sex with someone you love, or the walk through the woods- begins to fade and reality, with all its crushing infinite obtuseness, regains its place. again you stare at yourself while tiredly shaving in the morning wondering what it all is about. Life doesn't necessarily have a purpose and doesn't have to have one, we hew one out of the rock but it sometimes is such, such hard work...