Saturday, 30 August 2014

Oh For The Wings Of A Gull

On a more cheerful note, latest poem...

Oh For The Wings of A Gull

Synonymous with the sea
You’ll find them in smart white, grey and yellow livery
Surfing the wind above the waves
Patrolling every seashore, cliff and cave
Counting the trawlers in
The ferries out
Combing the beaches
Before other scavengers are out
Then gliding inland to urban dominion
Ruling the rooftops over small town bird civilian
Fish and chip suppers on the fly
They sign summer across the sky
Wheeling and dealing
Squealing and reeling
Gulleted gulls so graceful in flight
But not above a squabble and fight
Over a split bin bag outside the takeaway
Beating the refuse collectors at the dawn of day
Then there’s the Waterloo Street gull who’s friends with a cat
Fancy that.
They emit their soundtrack to the sea
You can even buy it on CD
The council wants to cull the gull
But is happy to use their image to promote its city and CD, no royalties

©LK  King 2014

Monday, 25 August 2014

Robin Williams - a curious end

In the wake of the complete shock of Robin Williams' suicide being announced, part of me also felt anger. How could he? He who starred in just about every film about human triumph and redemption against the odds? It felt like a betrayal of his fans. It was only after watching his last interview that I saw for myself how genuinely ill and haunted he looked. Mind you, it was a bizarre interview with the interviewer seemingly firing random questions at him including ironically one about whether he thought communication with the dead was possible.

Nevertheless certain things have been haunting me about the manner of his death, despite his unquestionably depressed state;

Sleeping in separate bedrooms alone is of course no indication that his 3rd marriage had hit the rocks, but the fact that his wife Susan Schneider seemingly didn't even check on her severely depressed film star husband, having not seen him for over 12 hours, before going out the following morning is very odd. Had they had an argument the previous night which pushed him over the edge? 

Then there was her almost immediate statement on his death a few hours later: 'This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one if its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin's death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.' 

Pretty slick for a woman so shockingly widowed only hours earlier but look again at the last line - she doesn't want us to 'focus' on Robin's death. 

The following day we now learn, she had somehow persuaded the coroner's office to release his body for a hasty cremation  only 24hrs after he had been discovered and before most of us had even had a chance to get our heads around the tragic death of a legend many of us grew up with (and before the toxicology results were through). How and why did she do this? While perhaps understandable to desire a private funeral, surely she would have struggled to get the whole family there in time, never mind if the coroner had wanted to conduct further tests on the body. And then there's how suspicious such a hasty fanfare-free funeral was going to look...

It would take days or even weeks for the body of a suicide or one deemed to have died of unnatural causes to be released  for funeral in Britain as foul play and other possibilities need to be ruled out. All this takes time. In addition sometimes the body is needed for further examination which obviously cannot happen if it has been cremated.

Not that I am suggesting foul play in this case. I completely believe Robin was severely depressed and  thus, emotionally vulnerable. However if Robin was his wife's 'best friend' as she stated in her tribute to him, where was she in his hour of need? How come his publicist was the one to find him some 12 hours after his death? I don't doubt it's no picnic being married to a severely depressed man, but if his wife couldn't cope alone, where were the hired psychiatric nurses to help her? Why didn't she get him sectioned if he was that depressed?

So what was Robin depressed about?
Well his comeback TV series 'The Crazy Ones' had been cancelled the previous year which he was known to be upset over.
He reportedly had financial issues, though the nature and scale of these have not yet been revealed. However if they were genuinely off the scale, did his insurance cover suicide? (some suicides have been known to take this course of action if their cover does and they are in dire financial straits and want to ensure their family is looked after.)
Robin was apparently in the early stages of Parkinsons (according to a statement released by his widow at roughly the same time she was getting him cremated, though at the time of writing we have yet to see medical corroboration of this).

Speculatively he could also have been depressed about the following:
Was he facing the end of his third marriage after only three years? This doesn't seem unlikely in view of his wife's odd behaviour and indecent haste to get his death and funeral over as quickly as possible.
Did he feel that his career was all washed up? (though even if he had Parkinsons, he could have continued to do lucrative voiceovers for some time to come, if not act as well).

Then there was the manner of his suicide. Here was a man who was a self-confessed ex junkie and ex alcoholic. Why then would he painfully saw away at his wrists with a knife before rather bizarrely managing to yank himself sideways from a chair to asphyxiate himself? Wouldn't anyone else just get the drugs and opt for a quick and painless overdose as their first choice? Ok so perhaps his dealer was no longer on speed dial in his attempts to get clean, but this highly intelligent man would have still known how to get hold of drugs and fast. In addition he surely had enough legitimate prescription anti-depressant drugs in the house to kill an elephant so why not use those?

For all his irreverent humour and zaniness Robin was a practising Christian or 'Catholic Lite' as he joked about Episcopalians. In fact one of his wry observations as a stand-up was; 'Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.'

As I said before I am not suggesting that it was not possible for Robin Williams to have taken his own life, just that there seem to be more unanswered questions than there are answered ones. It hasn't even been established if he left a note yet. Why?

Marilyn Monroe was known to have made several suicide attempts during her life, yet 51 years after her death, it is still being hotly debated whether she died accidentally, by her own hand or was helped along the way.

For all his flaws, Robin Williams was an admirably honest star. The least he deserves is the whole truth to come out. It can't possibly be more sad and sordid than it already appears. In fact his widow would be doing herself a public favour to share everything she knows as she hasn't exactly covered herself in glory as far as Robins' fans are concerned. And better if she turns out to have been on the verge of leaving him rather than suspected of worse. That said, some internet conspiracy theorists think his death is an Iluminati hit, though I don't see it myself.

Either way it's an ironic end for a man who brought hope and happiness to millions through his work. I am sure I am not the only one who grew up with him lighting up the screens. RIP Robin Williams. So long and thanks for all the laughter.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Strange Correspondents

It's some while since the tail lights of my twenties disappeared from view. Yet life is good at providing strange reminders of former times.

The other day I received an email out of the blue from a former (married) colleague who asked if I could possibly do him a little favour and send a message to his former married lover to say how much he missed her and ask if she was happy. Oh and by the way, she had a restraining order out against him. Naturally I declined. Most people would accept a restraining order as proof that an ex doesn't want to see them. Worse still, whilst I didn't know the lady in question, I had once known her husband quite well through my then-work and he was a really nice guy. S knew this, so how could he possibly think that I would have contributed to hurting the husband, let alone get myself into trouble on S's behalf by interfering with a restraining order? I was forced to conclude my former colleague S must be having some sort of breakdown. In fact I told him so and encouraged him to seek help. I haven't heard from him since. I did find myself quite shaken by how my former respect for him was eroded by this episode though. He was quite a formative figure in my twenties.

Another correspondent who puzzles me is the ex (think echoes of the late Mike Smith) who emails me every so often with 'How are you?' and then if I don't reply for a few hours sends quite a frantic 'How are you? Are you alright? Please email me back as soon as you can', yet when I reply he goes completely silent for another few months, with maybe one or two cryptic lines about how he is/how am I? at Christmas. I've even suggested we meet for a coffee, he with his partner, me with mine, since he lives almost in the next town and it's nigh on 20 years since we dated, but he seldom replies, except to agree, and then goes silent when I email date and venue suggestions. Yet when I moved to Brighton, I had this impassioned email about how he had struggled to make friends on the South Coast and couldn't wait until I was in the area. Whilst a highly intelligent chap with an engineering degree and law degree which he has now combined into his own business doing something rather worthwhile, I know he's always been insecure about his literary prowess. But it's not as if I ever asked for Shakespeare from him. Just a tad of consistency would be nice. I remember when he ended it, sobbing down the phone line to him in the public call box outside my grandmother's house; 'But I'm not ready for it to end!' (we had only dated for a couple of months). In retrospect I can see he did me a favour. I would have been a basket case by now to have ended up with someone so flaky and uncommunicative. Probably we didn't have that much in common either. Nevertheless, it's nice to know what became of him. We Brits are sentimental souls.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Pennies From Heaven

Either the angels love me or the denizens of Brighton are particularly careless with their small change. I currently have £2.13 of coins in my mid-purse compartment, or 'angel money' as its commonly known, despite raiding it for the odd penny of small change.

My partner often teases me about my ability to spot a glinting, or even slightly muddy, coin on the ground from at least ten paces in any light. People often give me funny looks when I pick it up as if I must be a particular tight wad. They just don't understand! It's ANGEL money, I tell you!

'See a penny. Pick it up. Then all day you'll have good luck.'

My partner's mother is an exceptional woman. She always leaves the coins for a child to find and delight in picking up. She is a much nicer person than me.

My partner often complains that he never finds money in the street. Then one day last week, walking along the seafront, he trumped me by finding a tenner! Let's hope that's the next 1000 days of good luck sorted for him.

I have often been tempted to pass on some angel coins to a street person down on their luck to give them luck. But I fear their disgusted expression too much. Most people just don't understand...