BBC – Radio 4 – Afternoon Reading

The Mural At Frau Krausers by James Hopkin, read by Tom Goodman-Hill.

The narrator stares at the green mural at Frau Krausers – a seedy tavern under an iron railway bridge in Berlin. He knows he should leave, but one beer leads to another.

Producer Rosalynd Ward.

I was listening to this on the way home from C & P’s. It was brilliantly written and wonderfully read. The narrative had an almost poetic feel to it, with phrases like the description of the man at the bar with “… a grey beard thatching the place between his longing and his loneliness.” While the narrative sounded natural and free-flowing, I suspect that every phrase was worked on for wording, rhythm, descriptive power, and naturalness. The whole story was dripping with brilliantly engineered prose.

A Bit of a Ramble

Got coffee and a fag (I know, I know) and I’m ready to rumble. Not that I know what I’m writing about, coz I don’t. I just thought I’d go through a ramble of today’s thoughts and stuff.

Counselling last week and yesterday was interesting, to say the least. All sorts of stuff came up about what I would have wanted from my parents and didn’t get. I felt really quite sad at the end of yesterday’s session and didn’t want it to finish. It was quite touching how my counsellor stood at the door and watched me leave. Almost as though she had felt my sadness. I must remember to feed that back to her next week.

The upshot of the 2 sessions I’ve had is that I feel less depressed. I was going to focus on getting me back to work yesterday but felt like I rambled through past stuff instead, but it seems to be working. I’m feeling more like going back to work. Perhaps the focus is on ‘parenting’ in relation to work. I feel there are things I’m not getting from my managers that I would like to get.

In the news lately is much about baby P. While the case itself is horrific I’m rather alarmed by the media focus on Haringey Social Services. What about the rest of them? There were numerous agencies involved and they are all accountable. This child was seen 60-odd times in his short, pathetic life by hospitals, doctors, the Police. That amounts to almost once a week, presuming he was seen from birth. If he wasn’t seen by anyone for some months after he was born then he was seen by somebody more than once a week. If there were failings on the part of one agency it should have been picked up by another and acted upon. There are ways of forcing the hand and the fact that that hand was not forced is inexcusable.

Lord Laming’s inquiry into the Victoria Climbie tragedy highlighted the need for better coordination of services. He also said that there should never be an excuse for this happening again and that those responsible for any further instances such as this would all be held to account. There is now better coordination of services but the services themselves don’t seem to apply it. A public enquiry is surely the next step to take. The public have a right to know what went wrong and why.

I’ve just been listening to a ‘comedy’ on Radio 4. I’m not sure what happened to the old school of comedians but I think it’s closed down. Most modern comedies are a load of crap and contain childish remarks and phrases that are supposed to pass as funny. I can only presume the audience are paid to laugh at the right moment. Short bursts of sound that come and go at the right moment. They certainly don’t sound like they’re particularly enjoying it. Talk about canned laughter. It resembles laughter but could be something engineered in a phonics workshop. Needless to say I turned it off.

I’m running out of steam already. It’s late and I’m tired. Why do I usually feel like writing late at night? I wanted to write yesterday but nothing inspiring would come to me. Maybe because I felt like writing about the counselling but was still a bit raw from the session and wasn’t sure about approaching it all again. I went for the keyboard a few times and then put it off.

Hiram B. Redfern

Hiram B. Redfern was a brave man until he dropped down dead.” So wrote the man’s wife in a reporters notebook as his body was carried from the auditorium on a stretcher.

There are few dreams that stick in the mind but this was one of them. The name ‘Hiram B. Redfern‘ seemed so real to me after the dream that I was convinced he existed. For some reason it had a profound effect on me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind for weeks. I can’t even say what the effect was. It felt as though there was a deeper, almost hidden meaning that I could not quite grasp. Although the dream must have taken place over 20 years ago I still expect to come across the name one day!

We were gathered in a large hall with a curved roof that may have been domed but may not have been. I got the impression the structure was temporary. There were a large amount of people present, perhaps 500, and they all seemed to be reporters or scientists observing an area of grey rocky landscape on a huge screen at the front. The landscape was dark and pools of light dotted the barren ground like spotlights from some unseen gantry.

On the surface of the moon a small group of astronauts were bouncing in and out of the pools of light in the slo-mo manner of low gravity. It was obvious that the pools of light were sun spots and this was a scientific gathering to observe the phenomena. While I know what sun spots are, in the dream these were sun spots.

Hiram dropped dead somewhere in the middle of this event. The strange thing was, his wife was more concentrated on writing about him dying than she was about him dying. There was no indication, either, of what Hiram had done that was brave or why he had died.

And what Mrs. Redfern was doing there in the first place is unclear.

A Station Masters Son or a Mid-Life Crisis?

Just after I moved into the house I live in now, I sat quietly one day to see what would come to me. Emptying myself and opening myself up to be receptive has worked before. It’s amazing what you can find out and what you can find out you already know! It didn’t take long before I had the distinct impression of a boy of about 11 or 12, whose father had something to do with a railway station. He was wearing shorts that reached to his knees and a sleeveless jumper over a shirt. There was a definite connection with this house but I can’t say for certain whether he actually lived here. The nearest railway stations to here, in their day, would have been either Maldon or Tollesbury or Tiptree. The last of these, Maldon to Witham, closed in 1963 with the Beeching cuts so it must have been before that. The feeling I got from the boy was a period around 1930’s – 1940’s.

I looked on the internet to see what I could find out about the houses and any past inhabitants. The coastguards who lived here are listed on a website ( but I haven’t been able to find anything about railway stations or stationmasters. I happened to mention this to Grant next door one day and he said it rang a faint bell. The hairs on my neck stood on end. He couldn’t place what it was but recommended some reading. Again, I looked the books up on the internet but no mention of railways or stations.

Chris suggested a trip to Essex Record Office. She wants to do some research and Doris wants to go along as well. I could do some research of my own. I’ll need to sign up to ERO to start the process but that’s no problem … it’s free. I think there is certain information I’ll need in order to have access to any documents.

I seem to be concentrating on the past a lot lately. I’ve signed up to Harringayonline and delved into my long-forgotten memories and I’m fascinated by the history of the house I live in now. I think the latter is quite normal for the resident of an old house but overall, the 2 taken together and my recent state of mind make me think there’s more to this than meets the eye. I’m 53yrs old – nearly 54 – I’ve just split with my partner and he’s moved out, I’m off work with stress or depression (I’m not sure what it is sometimes), and I’ve had time to evaluate some of my life. Not that I’ve done much evaluating. My brain seems to have frozen over most of the time lately.

“If only hindsight weren’t so retrospective.”

Am I looking back along the road to see where I’ve come from?

By what route did I get here?

Will it give me any clues as to where I’m going?

So many questions, so few answers. What, after all, am I expecting by peering into the distance behind me when the way forward is, well …. forward. I’ve learnt in the past that acceptance is often more enlightening than trying to understand.

That’s not to say I’ve got nothing out of this searching. I’ve brought to the fore memories I thought had gone forever about where I lived from the age of about 1 to 10. It all seemed inaccessible or forgotten to me. Like I’d blanked that part of my life out. Part of the reason could be that the move was such a wrench at that age that I blanked my past in order to survive the present. I had no contact with any of my old friends from Harringay after we moved so there was nothing to refresh what memories I might have had. Moving from the city out to the country was such a contrast in life style too, that I guess there was little room for remembering. I’ve always been good at shutting things out – forgetting places and people – ignoring, or disassociating from, situations, events, relationships.

Dad was now commuting to London every day and didn’t get home til late. I can remember waiting at the stile by the railway line waiting for dad’s train to pass. He would be leaning out of the window as the train slowed for Witham station, waving at us. We’d often cycle furiously down the road and wait by the little footbridge over the river for him to appear down the hill from the station.

Three years after we moved, my parents split up and dad moved out. This was to have a profound effect on me, one that echoes still today!

Dad moved to Braintree and we were on our own. And it really felt like that even though there was me, my mum and my brother. I guess that being children we looked to mum now that dad had gone and she had relied on dad until then. There was a lot of bitterness splashing around and most of it came from mum. There were some pretty awful times.

All the more reason to shut things out. My imagination flowered and I found places to go in my head that were better than where I was in life. I was able to still my mind and feel that the ‘stilling’ itself was balanced on a pin head. As long as I kept it balanced I was able to maintain the stillness. With it came a sense of being large and inflated and tiny all at once. I was large and I was small depending on how I thought of it at time (Quantum meditation?). I also had ‘lives’ in my head that I ‘lived’ throughout the day, whether at home or at school. I often wondered what my school mates thought of me.

Was it riding above the storm or escaping from it? You tell me. Perhaps some of each. Probably some of each, actually.

Once I went into the RAF I really lost touch with dad. He moved in with an antique dealer in Brighton, wrote to me a couple of times and I didn’t reply. I think the last letter I had from him was about Grandma dying. I found that difficult enough without the blame I put on him for things that had happened and I shut him out too. When he died a few years later I put that behind me rather rapidly too. What did it mean to me anyway? He was dead and gone now and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I’ve learnt over the years that these things come back and bite you on the arse from time to time. I think I’ve just been bitten again!

Paralympics vs Olympics

Why do we have Paralympians (if that’s the right word)? Surely, they are all Olympians? The tag immediately sets them aside as different.

TV coverage was different as well. First we had the Olympics and then we had the Paralympics. Only the latter didn’t seem to get as much coverage as the former. Surely that’s a form of discrimination.

I realise there will be some differences in the equipment used but I’m sure everybody, regardless of ability, could be integrated in to the Olympic Games. No difference, no separate games.

Somewhere I have the email address of the Paralympic Association, the Olympic Association and the BBC. I keep meaning to ask some questions of all of them.


I’ve just emailed the BBC and the British Paralympic Association. Responses will be interesting.