In Current reading, Irish Mist, Local projects, Music, Revision on November 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

Not a nasty person by any stretch of the imagination. Kind-hearted, in fact. But when I evoked the plight of a local family whose appeal for refugee status has been turned down, her immediate reaction was: “I have relatives in the Pas-de-Calais. The illegals are robbing them blind. Life is becoming untenable for them.” (“Them” referring to her relatives.)

I can’t blame her. First responder instinct: protect yourself, your relatives and your friends. Beyond the concept, lies the nitty-gritty fact illegal immigrants with no resources and no recourses need to eat drink and find shelter. This is harder to grasp in a graceful manner when the eating, drinking etc is done at your own expense.


A young boy. Severe distress. Family investigation by social services: ongoing. Severe distress: also ongoing.

During his melt-down yesterday, I was struck yet again by the way a person in the throes of “losing it” always has some part of his psyche acting as onlooker.  A kind of inner audience, something like the omniscient narrator? Or the observer in a dream. While the boy thrashed and hollered, his onlooker was aware of the other boy’s presence, and of his voice saying “you’re being ridiculous”. When I moved out of his line of sight, his eyes flickered out of the tantrum to spot where I was and what I was doing. And so on.

But the emotional flood was too violent for his onlooker to step in and wrest the show away. Even knowing the cost of his tantrum, he couldn’t stop until another authority figure stepped in. A man. One who doesn’t slug children, but he could. When they’ve had enough, isn’t that what grown men do to small boys?


Of course, there were better moments too. And once the phone calls and the meetings and the small islands of writing time were used up, I gloried in what? In Tom Joad’s masterful handling of the oil pan to replace the broken con-rod bearing on the Wilsons’ Dodge in The Grapes of Wrath. Damn good work – as in: damn good writing. But then, there’s not much I sneeze at in Steinbeck. (How’s that for modesty?)


The next bit in my revision still bothers me. I’ll take it one word at a time.


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