Sideways Mother Marie


There are many times during the day, the week, the month, the year, when one remembers/recalls the death of their Mother…..I don’t think I am alone in writing thus..

Marie, my Mother, is often with me, in some form or other, than my own self.  Images on walls, pieces of paper I have kept, an iPhone with a few select smiling shots of the girl from Maitland.  The Lipstick, the frocks, the beads, the dignity, all these things attracted the first born of two sons…the first in the 40’s, the second, in the 50’s…

Whenever I write about her, the woman who said I was too much like her, it is always a tribute to her, she was a far more strict teacher than I ever was, compassion with a hard surface, not uncomfortable..

It was in a lonely suburban street in Mulgrave Victoria on a cold June night that she let go, her remaining sisters, my father, my brother, and a special Uncle, Graham, who gathered..It was nearing the end of the six months that the surgeon had allowed, almost eerily and scientifically accurate….there was some familial High Drama to follow but the worst was yet to come..

They came, put a gurney under her dead, 66 year old, wasted body, wrapped it in some kind of fabric and then turned it Sideways so they could remove her from the bedroom, through the hallway, to the front door, and ultimately to the vehicle that comes to take the dead bodies…that night I will never forget…IMG_0365

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I Never Sang For My Father


It was the 40’s, I was the first born, my father was a Lieutenant in the Australian Army, my mother a young girl 4 years his junior, who grew up in Maitland.  My father was from a middle class family in Glen Iris.  Already geographical distance and difficulty.  I was 10 months old when he first saw his first born child.  I found out years later he never lifted me up into his arms upon our meeting.  This may be myth but accords with what was a cold relationship with him for most of my life.  Not unusual for the homosexual son and his ex service man father in the 1940’s.

As we both aged we often talked politics.  He had voted Liberal but in his latter years became staunchly Labor due to the policies of Paul Keating.  We found some commonality.  On a day when South Australia votes and in my home city of Melbourne there is the Batman Vote.  I miss being able to discuss the ramifications of such a day.

Those times when we engaged in a fragile form of intimacy are those which remain with me some thirteen years after his death.  We made peace with one another before he became ill.  My mother had predeceased him some sixteen years.  Their relationship was complex.  They did their best in raising my brother and I.

I often heard my father sing.  One of these times sticks in my head.  Bob was on a ladder painting the side of the house in Murrumbeena on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  He was singing ‘Blue Moon’ then there was an almighty crash and a loud “Jesus Christ!”  He had fallen from the ladder.

Robert  Lloyd Blakeley   1919 – 2005

 

Domus


We are in the same room

He supine, and myself seated avec desk, monitor and mini mac, late Thursday Night..The Televizual Audio in the other room…

The Streetscape, now screened by linen blind…Intimacy

It did not rest easy for me for decades, and now, the Domus, the Domesticity, this has been my gift from Sammy and for it I am grateful

I am not easy to live with…

Kop Khun Maak Na Krub Samran

Kindness….Is it still relevant?


A rather foolish question to begin with, as we already know the answer….a qualifier, some of us know and practise, others exclude it, do not entertain it, I know it has a Dalai Lama ring to it, but it is not exclusive to Buddhism, surely…

As a young boy, it was the gentleness of older people that impacted, they exuded kindness without a moment of reflection….my grandparents quickly come to mind, the three whom I knew.  I felt no aggression as as grandchild, more talcum powder and the soft smell of petals…and endless adoration, being the first Paternally.

I am not too sure nor do I really need to enter some forensic analysis as to why I value the concept of ‘kindness’….My initial surge is always to the Elderly, the vulnerable, those who do not stand with the same firmness that others of us are able to do…The taken for granted Mobility Mantra….Many of us have unsure steps across our physical and psychological landscape, a couple of Grams of Kindness are always appreciated, not that it needs measurement in any way…

Both my grandmothers were a tsunami of Kindness, it was overwhelming at times, but it was always relevant…,.

There are many times I have not been kind, there are many times I have not been relevant….

Does not have to be a continuum, I walk the village streets and see the Panorama…I find it a natural response in the Community to show a little Kindness…

VOWS….NOT WOWS…


The creative juices, ooze from many septuagenerian writers, artists, performers…I acknowledge and admire however for this post benjamin law, tom bollard, joel creasy poof, the effort of the ooze is immense..

At 16 I think I knew the game plan with the Congregation of The Most Holy Redeemer had a finite , in terms of Vows and Ordination, but it was 1963…..The rolling hills of Galong in rural New South Wales were one of the most spiritual landscapes that now 54 years on have an impact….The Galong Castle, the Ryans’ the Redemptorists…the earth and soil I felt nurtured by…the City boy who feels a calling to become a Priest….a Missionary, but for me it seemed a real path to Sanctity, what an extraordinary concept for a 14 year old youth from Murrumbeena to hold in his heart….Never really got it clearly, lots of interesting interaction with the world ….

So there is a Postulancy, look it up, before a Noviciate which for me began in 1964 at St Clements Retreat House , Galong, N.S.W…….My class from the Junior Seminary had graduated and some of us chose to continue our vocation, others left ….

The Ecclesial Officialdom was the taking of Temporary Vows, this was a ceremony where we prostrated ourselves and took the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience…had one become ordained there was a further Vow made by members of The Redemptorist Order which included the rejection of any Ecclesiastical Benefices which translated you could not become a Bishop which like many things Catholic, is weird , as the Founder of The Order became a Bishop…..I took those Temporary Vows as a 20 year old. bespectacled youth in a a black religious habit with the dream of becoming a Redemptorist Priest..

Some of my dear class mates are still decent Redemptorist Priests, others are just decent men whom I continue to love, they are an extradinory group of men who I am fortunate to still be Family//

I Came Out in 1970…


I have just watched a wonderful film entitled ‘The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin’ on Netflix.  We share a close number of summers, a once off Twitter exchange, and fathers who did not see us in the first 10 months of our lives…..I have always admired his writing.  Today the film reminded me of my coming out to my mother and father.  The film told of Maupin’s coming out and also that of Sir Ian McKellen, moving stuff.

For me in the Winter of 1970 it was in a beige living/dining room in the outer suburb of Mulgrave, Victoria…I was ‘spending time’ with an older Jewish man, and it was at his apartment that night, in Balaclava, that I rang my mother to tell her all that she had intimated for many years was true, yes I was homosexual.

‘Do you want me to drive over now?’ “Yes , she said”

I asked my friend if I could borrow his car after telling him of the mother son telephone conversation.  He was happy to offer a small sedan which I drove across the South East Suburbs to the second family home I had experienced.  It was a new display home and mum and dad had bought it after our two bedroom brick home in Murrumbeena became to small for the four of us.  It had gold taps, fake, marble basins, fake, colonial windows, fake, I think you get the picture…

Mother was always enthroned, on a green velvet lounge chair…she was not yet 50 years of age, but elegant, coifed, scarved, and with a distinctive bearing.  She was alone, which was somewhat odd at that time of night as my father would usually be home at this time.  The air was filled with the tension of a tight rope.  I was 25 years old, a teacher, and had been living a homosexual life for the past 4 years.  There was only ever innuendo from my mother, not a word from my father, an officer and a gentleman, yet distant and cold.

Words fell from both our mouths, muddled and murky.  ‘Your father is not home yet’ Her response to our face to face coming out was along the lines of ‘ I think I am having a heart attack’.  But it gets better….  My father finally comes through the back door of the three bedroom pseudo colonial Mulgrave house on a small block of land opposite The Village Green Hotel.  ‘Sorry hon, you have got no idea the problem I have had with the car” as he lurched into the kitchen with his two bottles of beer wrapped in the Evening copy of The Herald.  My mother, as was her won’t, responded promptly “You have had a problem with your car, your son has just come home to tell us he is homosexual!’

Most of what ensued is a blur, I don’t recall if I stayed the night in my old room, or where was my 10 years younger brother, or did I drive home to the older man who had kindly offered me his car for this significant Tearto Della Famiglia evening…..

I remember it with a touch of humour, sadness, confusion, maturation, the whole enchilada I guess……My thanks to a writer whom I greatly admire for your film, your books, your life, all of which have prompted me to continue writing……it is where I am happy, and exhausted at the same time

In Memento Mori : Bob Blakeley and Marie Blakeley

 

Non Self


Night…


It comes with the pulse of the cardiac, regular, beep

Light now for me is preferred …Night. One Night in Bangkok and his name was Samran….

We now share the Night, together, till the morning, when we walk in different directions…the comfort of the Night to hold, one another…..a gift acknowledged..

So often the Teacher becomes the Student, I think it has been a large part of our journey..

Tribute to Writers


I am fortunate to know writers, men and wimmin,  who carve words into the most beautiful forms of prose…there are other writers, men and wimmin, whom I do not know…the Australian Literary Landscape is peppered with these people…as a septuagenerian it is far more accessible for me to name  our Elders…There is a Litany, that for me dates back to the 970’s….I never caught the Frank Morehouse, the David Marr, the David Malouf, the Pat White, and even more recently, the Benny Law, Zeitgeist Wunder Kid, Ominbus…

There is this consistent mantra of writing is private , a solitary pursuit, a self indulgent ooze that calms the troubled cerebellum of all of those creativity crazies who inflict their words upon us, the digital and the non digital…Fuck you, words are not print nor are they digital, they are limited expressions that come not from ink, but from the cardio vessels connected to the outrageous injustice that we see daily…

So glad I was able to cough that emotional/psycholgical/literal/ words/existentiadotcom

UP..

FRONDZZ…YA GOTTA HAVE FRONDZZ TO MAKE THE MORNING LAST..