The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I began this weblog just under six years ago on the explicit advice of the psychotherapist I was seeing at the time as a part of the Kobler-Ross five-stage bereavement programme. An element of the latter involves looking at or listening to things, artefacts, which the bereaved shared with their departed partner, to remind the bereaved of what was so valuable and good about their time together. Since I could find no useful way to listen to music in late 2001 - there were plenty of useful ways but it was dark and I could not find them - I used this model as a means of tentatively mastering the difficult and frequently painful task of re-learning how to listen to music, much in the same way as a major trauma victim has to learn to read, write and/or walk from scratch.

By learning this it was my principal intention at the time I began CoM to create a memorial to Laura, my late first wife; the parallels with Stanley Spencer were fully drawn in the first post I made to the blog. But as one cannot live any useful or hopeful life by firmly looking at the past until one becomes mummified and not "alive," it was also a means of trying to rediscover and find what had been lost, or taken away from me, in August 2001; not seeking a duplicate or a replacement, but something - and, ultimately, someone - new who could restore the old magic but in a different way which would guide me back into the future (and by "the future" I mean reasons to continue living).

The story is fully documented, both here and elsewhere; frequently traumatic, self-destructive and littered with false dawns and dead ends. It has not been the easiest of lightless tunnels to traverse. I was under no illusion that the journey would be long and that the above emotional debris would accumulate.

Typically, when the answer revealed itself it not only took a very long and patient time to become apparent, but also became cumulatively startling because of the parallels. A long-distance epistolary friendship conducted between two different countries but by two people with uncanny amounts of beliefs, loves and passions in common, which took the best part of three years to come to full fruition; it is not difficult to draw conclusions from this incorporating words like "parallel" and "second chance."

And it has led to now, today, the last piece of writing which needs to appear on The Church Of Me but also the first entry which I have contributed as a married man. Lena and I wed yesterday, in Toronto, from whence I am composing this; there is a new home in London to prepare upon my return (for Lena's hopefully imminent arrival) and I seem to have not exactly stumbled back but perhaps walked with less than direct aplomb to what more or less constitutes the type of life I lived, as one half of a devoted couple, in a different decade, a separate but connected century.

The tunnel is now behind us - and I emphasise that "us" - its blackness receding into gratifying invisibility; there are plans to make, bits of business to sort out, and the music can be written about in The Blue In The Air which serves only to mark the beginning of my writing about music as an ecstatically happy and thoroughly content married man and might give you some idea of the type of writing I might have posted to a blog in, say, 1982 or 1992 or perhaps even 1967. The pain barrier has been transgressed and found to dissolve almost instantaneously; so all that remains is for me to thank all of the readers who have habitually browsed through these words (and their blog relatives elsewhere) over the last six years, and most of the readers who have communicated with me about the writing in one way or another. Why write a public blog if you do not want your words to venture out into the world and perhaps react with a light dimly glowing a long way away? And eight thousand miles away, in what was indeed another country, or perhaps simply a reflection of my old country, these words of mine struck and touched someone else, someone whom I would never have met or known had I not followed the advice of that West Norwood psychotherapist or indeed not heeded the default safety valve which always switches on in my mind in times of crisis, and a few hundred words led to a few dozen more, and the accumulation was steady and gratifying, and you've read the story enough times now; we are now together, the purpose of this weblog has been realised, and so the ultimate and most infinite thank you must go to the reader who stretched out her graceful hand and dared to insert it into the morass of my 2003 life with a view to rescuing me from it, even if it took two more years for me to see that hand clearly. But I cannot conclude with the thought of a mere salvage operation; we have to look after each other, see each other through (rather than see through each other, as too many other people have attempted to do) - it is a partnership in the truest and most equal sense. That was all I wanted to do with this blog - not just to restore my life, but also to give me back the capacity and ability to reach out and help restore another's life. To learn to be a human being again. To paraphrase one aside on an early Mike Westbrook record: Lena, I think I've got it now.

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