Forgetting by Adrienne Ayers
Forgetting to remember is a strategy
It helped me through my infant years
It’s a thing I really rate.
Why not forget the fear?
Of the dark, or being alone? Forget Fear! Why be afraid of being on my own?
I never considered forgetting could be a mistake!
Forgetting to remember is a strategy I’ll take.
Forget the feeling of not fitting in.
Forget what other kids say.
Forget the sense you’re different in some subtle way.
Forget how great it feels to run, light fires & climb trees?
Accept the rule to dress ‘this way’, sit still, smile & cross your knees?
Forgetting to remember is a strategy I took.
Remember the Enid Blyton book that offered us George & Timmy the dog?
A precious image that hinted there was another me, and there was!
But forgetting to remember was like living in a fog.
Forgetting to remember was a strategy I chose.
Forgetting how great it was to wear ‘tomboy’ clothes.
Becoming a feminist could cover all those bases; dungarees & doc marten boots and
women only spaces!
Could you forget the way you felt when your best friend hugged you close?
The feel of her breasts against your chest? A feeling you loved the most?
Forgetting to remember meant living like a ghost, almost there but not quite alive! A
suppressed body like a post!
Forgetting to remember is a habit I developed over years. It’s one I thought I’d
recommend to help you with multiple fears.
However, forgetting was wrong for me I admit it & I say remember, remember,
remember in every possible way.
A VISION IN THE WOODS
I won’t ever smile again. I’ll never know joy as we used to know it. How it used to be. That knowing look, that tacit wink and then our heads thrown back roaring with laughter at our shared moment of observational humour. The madness of that laughter which bubbled up slowly and then consumed us, turning us into helpless crumpled, floppy beings, gasping for breath, snotty, teary and snorting between each laughter-convulsion that repeatedly burst from us ever stronger and growing louder and louder until both exhausted, breathless and lacking oxygen, we could laugh no more in complete self abandonment. That’s when we reached out in blissful burnout and held each other in the sheer joy of being alive and in sharing our humorous moment together.
I will just have to pretend. If someone says something “funny”, I’ll have to laugh falsely and fervently hope they believed in my “amusement”. I WILL go on for her because I promised her I would. This is the ONLY reason. I so nearly gave in to my desire to join her in the cold, cold earth. I really don’t want to wait here and go on and pretend that I “feel” anything because I don’t feel anything, I am numb. I am sinking into a deep, dark abyss.
So I’ve seen my G.P. following pressure from my friends. My G.P. referred me to a bereavement counsellor. It’s week 6 and I still feel numb. Marion, my counsellor, asks what I like to do? I stare at her blankly.
“What do you mean?” I ask. “Well, what activities have you really enjoyed doing in your leisure time in the past”? She asked. After an agonising period of very long, strained silence, I replied, that I liked walking, particularly in woodland. “Well, find some lovely woods and go for a walk and take in your surroundings and fill your senses with the sounds of the birds and wildlife and twigs and branches and the leaves crunching under your feet and come back next week and tell me what you FELT when you were walking in the woods. I am very sure that you will feel something”.
I nodded glumly, I agreed that I’d find some woods and walk there, just to get out of the room and to escape from her making me think. – For I don’t want to think! I want to be empty and comfortably numb. I want to be left alone!
It was a beautiful day by anyone’s standards. The bright yellow sun was splitting the sky. I felt drawn to drive from Kent where I live now, to my old home town, Brentwood, in Essex. There’s some really beautiful woodland around Brentwood, it forms part of London’s Green Belt.
When I was a child right up to being in my twenties, I used to go for lovely, really long woodland walks with my Grandmother, in Thorndon Woods near where she lived with my Grandfather. I adored my dear Grandparents – I truly couldn’t of had a closer relationship with them. They were such kind, wise, but fun, second parents to me and I count my blessings for having had them in my life every day. Gran and I used to pack a picnic and set off for the woods and so for nostalgia’s sake, I decided to drive to Thorndon Woods and follow one of our old walks, because there are many paths through the woods from which to choose. I hadn’t packed a picnic for myself though. I just didn’t think to do so. Gran and I had our very favourite walk, which was to walk past Lord Peter’s House on the very edge of the woods and follow the adjacent path which took us eventually after about 5 miles of walking into the very deepest heart of the woods.
Lord Peter’s House, is still owned by the descendants of Lord Peter, the many acres of surrounding woodland was sold to Brentwood District Council about 150 years or so previously and re-named “Thorndon Woods” another part of the grounds was sold for use as a beautiful private golf course with a purpose built club house. Walking past, Lord Peter’s House brought a flood of memories back. My Gran had told me on a walk we had together there one day, that her mother-in-law was born there. Apparently, she was the daughter of a footman and the ladies’ maid. It was certainly a very grand place of residence to have had on her birth certificate!
I walked on, retracing the steps of so many previous walks with my Gran and Julie my darling, recently deceased partner and lover. But this time, I did not feel the warm sun on my skin, nor notice timid rabbits peeping out from the under growth or the quickness of a squirrel dashing across my path coming down from one tree to run up another. No instead, I felt heavy and slow, wearing a mantle of grief and my thoughts and feelings were consumed with overwhelming loss.
Eventually, I felt that I could walk no more every step felt leaden. Then I found the old oak tree log that I’d so happily climbed on as a child and which Gran and I had sat on for many a picnic. Despite the warm sun, I shivered and started to quietly weep, my grief completely enveloped me. Then, I heard someone approaching from behind and I started as a hand was laid upon my shoulder. I spun round, very quickly to defend myself. To my utter astonishment, I saw a very small young woman of about 3.5 feet in height, dressed completely from head to toe, in many different shades of green, she even had green pointy-toed ankle boots and had leaves of every shape and hue of green, woven into her hair. She was extraordinary! My mouth inadvertently dropped open and she stood looking at me with an expression of deep compassion on her most unusual but at the same time, strikingly beautiful face. Her voice was like a little soft bell and she said,
“Don’t cry Janet, there’s really no need”.
I started at the mention of my name!
“But who are you and how do you know my name?” I asked. She replied,
“I am Goda the spirit of these woods. I know you, I have always known you since before you were even born to this Earth. I have been sent by your Grandmother and Julie, to tell you that they are safe and that they are both watching over you and that they will be reunited with you when the time is right. But now, you must pursue your life to the full and enjoy your surroundings and the interests you have always had and you must go and live your life and become the best person that you can possibly be. And then, in the fullness of time, you and the other beloved members of your family and friends, will all be together in happiness and peace”.
I was truly, absolutely astonished at first, but then a great feeling of tranquility overwhelmed me and I can’t honestly explain it, but it seemed like it was the most natural encounter of my life. Goda then produced from behind a tree a picnic hamper filled with the most delicious food and drink. It was just as my Gran lovingly used to make and served us both in these woods all of those years ago.
After we had finished eating, Goda gently kissed me goodbye and took her leave. It was the most wonderful encounter with another being, that I’ve ever experienced. We communicated instinctively, often without the need to utter a single word. Afterwards, all my senses were filled with the woods with every noise, every smell, with the beauty of the wild flowers, the trees and the different patterns on their trunks, of the beauty in the ferns and the fungi and the shades of colour in the grasses and joy of seeing rabbits, and squirrels and then from a distance I clearly saw a magnificently handsome stag, who stared at me long and hard over one shoulder from the path where he was standing. Eventually, he was led away by a thin almost imperceptible thread which was held by Goda, who flashed me a radiant, farewell smile.
I returned to my car in a state of absolute euphoria. I knew that this had really happened, but instinctively, I also knew that if I ever told anyone at all, at best, they’d think I’d fallen asleep on that old picnic log, and at worst, they’d think I’d succumbed to my grief-induced madness!
The next week I went to see my Counsellor Marion again. “Wow! You seem so very much brighter Janet,” she said. Dare I say it, you even seem happy?”
“I am”! I explained, “You were completely right, Marion! I did see and experience wondrous things on my healing journey, through the woods. It truly was, a life-changing and visionary experience!
Marion seemed very pleased, but at the same time she gave me a quizzical look!
I charge a lot. I have to. The ‘Romany’ caravan I rent from the owners of the pier on which it is sited costs me an absolute fortune every season but it is a prime location and they know it. In high season there are queues of mostly hen nights, sometimes stag do’s and gaggles of the DFL – ‘down from London’s’ who mostly take the piss. I don’t care. They cross my palm with silver – or more accurately, tap my contactless card reader, and they get their reading. I pay my rent and make a living, they have a story to tell about holiday adventures. It works for all of us.
I have a gift, passed down through the maternal line. I prefer the cards but I can do the ball if people want it. To be honest, it’s not rocket science. I can’t always tell whether it is the gift or just plain old perception. I wonder if I would earn more as a psychologist because reading people is incredibly easy if you are tuned in.
I leave my outfit in the caravan overnight so sometimes it is a bit damp. The van is made of wood and came from a play being put on at Glynde. The nearest it has been to a Romany is when it was used for the set of Carmen but I have tarted it up a bit – cushions, a bit of incense, a few crystals here and there. I got my robe from a charity shop – it is a Japanese kimono and not remotely mystical but when I put it together with the waist-length black wig I picked up cheap in a costume shop in Benidorm I look the part.
It was the second time she had been in. When I first saw her, I thought she was a young boy and that Kath at the Feral Kats art studio had taken an apprentice or summer helper. There was a rain shower and she was covering the art works on display with sheets of plastic. I pass the studio on my way to the pier. I grab a coffee and doughnut from the stall next to the arches most days. Kath’s studio sits in a row alongside others and seems to be the busiest. Kath is a nice woman. The next time I saw the helper, her dungarees were daubed so I guessed she was an artist.
The first time she came to the van I realised she was older than she looked. One of those cute boyish women who always look about thirteen, well into their forties. She seemed nervous and opted for the cards. I gave her a reading – something about being creative, about opportunities and new horizons but to be honest, I am not sure she heard a word I said. I remember her DM’s were hand painted but her feet were tiny. It’s funny what you notice. She must have liked my tarot cards because she came back. So when she came back that second time I had to take a different tack because turnover is so fast in the holiday trade it is fairly much a regular script which she had already heard. I suggested the ball rather than the cards and she was happy with that. I held her hands, cupped under mine, on the ball and told her to focus. Her hands were warm but rough and callused. Interesting hands full of character. I was glad she had agreed to go with the crystal ball. I guessed she was probably a sculptor rather than painter. Images of female forms came into my head, so I said something about my visions of female power and women rising up. It seemed to fit the bill.
But then she came back again! I was pouring down so I had barely done any readings all day. People don’t stop at the van when it rains – they just want to get into the warmth of the amusements but then she appeared in the doorway. The week before as I was on my way to work I ran into her outside the studio. She paid for my coffee and doughnut at the stall. We laughed a lot, mostly about my black wig. I said it was horribly itchy. She liked my real hair better, she said.
The thing is, tourist money is part of the pier experience. She was a working nearby neighbor, also trying to earn her living in a difficult business so I had to be straight with her. And… she was kinda nice. I told her that whilst I certainly did have a gift, my little van was just a tourist attraction really. I said I had the number of a really good clairvoyant I could recommend.
And then she told that since she had first laid eyes on me, that time I saw her covering the art with the plastic sheet, she had been madly, crazily in love with me.
I certainly had not seen that coming.
I love rainbows.
The colours are distinct, bright and appealing.
The significance of the rainbow for LBGTQ?
Solidarity, Individuality and Diversity to name a few.
For me they represent the same but more.
No individual is the same, physically or emotionally.
Our daily challenges are not the same.
Our choice of identity is not the same.
A rainbow presents itself as raindrops catch sunlight.
When we may feel sad, scared, tearful
and there suddenly appears that ray of hope.
If you were to choose a rainbow colour what would it be?
Do particular colours signify anything specific for you?
I wonder why we are drawn to certain things; certain people.
Just like colours.
Red, for example, represents danger. Yet a ‘red’ sky is a wonderful sight
and signifies a sunny day to come.
It is the colour of romance.
Are romance and danger so similar?
Colours represent many things and can inspire and even depress.
Next time you see a rainbow visualise what each colour represents to you.
Red was my late mum’s favourite colour. It signifies warmth.
Yellow has got to be the sun and hope.
The rest – if you know me take a guess……..
New red wellies
and a paradise of puddles.
Watching the water drop like shiny glass beads,
as vivid as time lapse.
My dog meeting me from school
cosying into her kennel
Smelling of straw and warm puppies.
a couple of old doors
leaning against the back of the shed.
but of course the secret
was only in my soul.
Playing in the pain cold stream,
The flash of an eel,
a caddis fly in her clever little house,
made of a hundred colourful stones.
Such brief visions
but I can hear,
smell, touch and feel them today
as clearly and magically as I did then.
Dolfach, Mid Wales
She had a vision
she could see
she mentioned the pink singers
“never heard of ’em”
She gave me books
Virago lessie stories
I read The well of loneliness
hers were livelier
Photos for the funeral
“is that your dad?”
reveal cigar smoking
was that how she saw herself?
Now I chuck away
her draft novel
her radio play,
the “I hate you letter”
the novel ruined
by demented vision
the radio play rejected
I have kept the illustrated “last of the jellytums”
we all liked that
one day maybe
I will look at the diaries
and really see her
I thought it was the We
I could see,
underneath our overcoats of ordinary.
We stared at each other,
skirting around our dresses,
hoping for a morsel of close,
some free-will, blown by the wind.
But the glasses we each wore were different –
Mine, mostly made for reading,
a matronly angle across my nose –
Yours, a humble, horn-rimmed set,
belied the hatred behind the glare of glass.
A non-love, not of me, but of your own, beguiling self.
My vision could not pierce this.
No infra-red roar
no laser love
no x-ray specs for me.
I squinted at you sideways.
Vision from the Bandstand at 4 0’ Clock!
“Lucky Kim”! That’s what they call her!
And “Slim Kim” and “Trim Kim” too!
She is fleet of foot and fit for her age
and her heart is good, and true.
But will she be “Lucky Kim” today,
on the day she most needs good luck?
For Lolita has told her to meet her
by the Bandstand at 4 0′ Clock!
Kim’s head has been completely turned, …
by this vigorous, voluptuous, Venus
At 80, she’s like a nervous youth, terrified of being spurned!
Kim has brought flowers for Lolita and even written her verse,
but what will Sue have brought her?
The worry of this, makes Kim curse!
Here is the poem Kim wrote her, surely, she cannot resist? ….
“Lolita darling, walk with me a while
making memories while we smile
from the moment we first met
to the Bandstand, where our love was set.
Through our consuming ecstasy
through unbridled honesty
through the rapture in our souls
know it is your love, that makes me whole”.
By Kim. ♥️XXXXX
Then, from a distance she saw them, Lolita was with Sue,
Kim’s heart nearly stopped when she saw them kiss, and then saw Susan go..
Raging she wanted to kill her, – Kim needed Susan gone!
But what could she do? – Kim felt so foolish, and so low.
Lolita waved and turned giving Kim a lovely smile,
Her heart quickly melted and Kim hurried towards her “gal”.
Upon reaching her she said, “Darling, I have to know,
will it be me or Susan whom you choose to be your beau?”
She suggested they walk towards the shore and kicked off her shoes to paddle,
Up on a rock she read Kim’s verse, and her immersed feet did waggle!
She loved Kim’s romance, she loved Kim’s verse
she so admired Kim’s flowers,
Then at last she said, “I know who I want”! ….
Kim held her breath, while she held Kim, in her powers. ”
It’s been hard”, she said as Susan has a lovely car,
and she’s useful, good at D.I.Y.
We planned to travel,
both near and afar …
But Kim she said, it’s you I want, because you’re such a good lover,
And thinking about your romancing, ahhhh! … has made me see no other!
by Jenny King
You came all the way from America
to the wild west of Wales in winter
reckless you braved our snow line,
got lost on the dinosaur boned Cambrians
to take an outdoor bath with me.
will we ever forget
any of those implausibly large flakes
melting in the menopausal heat
of our flaming faces
as we boil ourselves
into sister soup,
laughing so loud.
other women bring us tea
4 hours in minus 7 degrees,
snow covering the grey in our hair
with something debonair
the furnace of this friendship
roars so many times
that we must undip
rush naked across a white lawn
to turn on the cold tap.
still babbling like brooks about
old lady camouflage and
flying beneath the radar of despair,
curating recipes for world rescue
of hopes and kids and dreams
of every happy end
that started sharing a bath
with a favourite friend.
Jane Campbell aged 55 based in rural West Wales UK