The Reluctantly Hospitable Adventure

Bantams Spank“Turn ye face away, I’ve no wish to endure the dim-witted gaze of ye mooncalf features.” Under me fierce scowls the thick-cheeked passenger sulkily turned his face back to the sea. Very soon he’d be filling the belly of one of the excitable sea beasts which presently cavorted in the bloody lumps that used to be his companions. Wesley was his name, Wesley of Oingham, a lord of minor repute with acres of land – a  worthless commodity to the ocean and its folk. Within an hour of boarding he was exhibiting all the traits of one born with silver forks up his arse by chundering copiously about the decks and demanding the feathers of a baby swan to swab his sticky chin. Ye will likely sympathise with me immediate instinct to set the fellow a-fire. “Zero tolerance for boorish landlubbers”: that’s me newest motto and we’d be executing the notion, and the lord, at ten bells.

Ye see, after a difficult few months while we lingered in the economic doldrums (for piracy and even honest tax fraud may be challenged when no one’s got gold for thieving), No Hands Mick had proposed that we draw in ye tourist shillings by offering passage on The Grim Bastard, or rather on The Bantam’s Spank as we’d renamed her so as to appeal to the soft-witted and gentrified land algae. By the second Thursday of offerin’ a boating service we’d ferried endless elderly matrons across the river and filled our books with those keen for seaborne adventure and the thrill of seeing a fishy in its proper place.

Coddling’s not the way to deal with pirates, for they takes every inch ye offer and are then reluctant to cling to the mast in a storm. However, we found that the lard-swaddled lord and lady had different expectations of their “cruise”. The shit-seats at the stern disturbed ’em and they were noisily resentful about bunking with the mates in the Stenchhole. Don’t get me wrong, tis a vile and villainous deck on which I’d not set me foot without first dousing it (the deck, not me foot) with alcohol and fire, but this Wesley lad was furious and bellowed fit to affright an amorous walrus. Even his lady-wife expressed alarmed by the shade of scarlet his cheeks achieved. For the sake of peace from his wobble-chinned rage we emptied out the little cupboard by the powder room, kicked a bed into it and rammed the pair into their executive suite. Gimpy, the powder monkey was a mite put out but since he could fit neatly into a drawer beneath the galley’s clam drainer, everyone was equally unhappy.

Half a week later in the middle of a fine dessert of neck custard and knee biscuit, in spite of our sightings of a dead dolphin, a killer squid and just two minor sea battles, the ham-faced lord slammed down his fist in protest. In doing so he propelled a knife across the table and into the remaining eye of poor Gimpy (t’other was lost to a fuse error) who stood by the table, bearing a lamp so as to light our meal. Justly, for cutlery belongs to the table not the face, Gimpy ran off screaming. Knives in the eyes will do that to a young lad. We were plunged into darkness and surprise. Uncommon laughter spilled out of Lord Wesley’s mouth and he slapped his breeches with glee. Less than a second later he was flat on his back with Mick’s cutting hand pressed to his throbbing throat. No Hands Mick’s a touch protective of the young ones: he mourns them all, crab-eaten, gull-snatched, accidentally made into yoghurt – they all have his prayers.

Now I must confess myself torn: I likes a spot of slapstick and the be-flung blade had the hallmarks of the circus. And yet but our passengers had been naught but grief since they’d boarded, and they had just blinded me powder lad. Of course he might have some use yet as bait, or decoy. Me mind was made up when planking and caulk fell upon us from all directions and a vast boom rocked The Bantam’s Spank. Poor Gimpy had fled to his old comforting nook but in his blindness had bumbled into the powder room with his lantern a-dangle.

Quelling the Lord’s moans with me fist and a light touch of peg to rib, I stomped off to assess the damage. Twas not good. We debated our options, in accordance with honest piratical practice. Realising that we’d already taken Lord Wesley’s payment was a moment o’ brilliant revelation for me. So in short order we tossed his servants overboard and perched him on the diving board and jammed his wife in the jacuzzi for later ransom (we’d made a number of alterations for cruise comfort). That’ll teach him for being rude about me ship. Oh and the eyeball thing. And the explosion. Bloody passengers.

Slightly Broken: New Year; New Me

It’s been quite a long time since my last post. I am still alive, in case you were wondering. Before Christmas I felt that I had reached some critical point in my counselling and understanding of myself in relation both to the abuse that I was the victim of and the convolutions of emotional distress that resulted from it. It was like turning a page to the next chapter in a book, the lightening of the sky at dawn, the opening of a box of chocolates… I don’t know. Similes fail me. I felt different, untroubled by the past, or at least untroubled by this specific aspect of the past. I knew that I’d be having a three week break from counselling. So that was a test of sorts, while my sleeping tablet prescription ran out I had two weeks of holiday over Christmas, in which I’d be with the Lady M and really very few other people. An excellent test of whether the stress of my past had simply been overtaken and displaced by the various stresses of work (fucking crazy leading up to Christmas) and whether it would resurrect itself in my mind, some hideous Lazarus monster reawakened and wreaking havoc.
Perhaps inevitably I slept very strangely over Christmas – lacking both the routine (hey, it’s Christmas) and the reassurance of drugs. That was okay though; I was prepared for that, and mostly it really didn’t matter. I can deal without sleep, I just forget that I can. I was delighted / didn’t really notice that my mind was mostly clear. I wasn’t troubled with thoughts of Ric and all that shit. On the rare occasions that something drifted up to the surface I found it easy to bob along to other matters. I don’t really know why. I put myself through a lot before Christmas. I suppose I was ready to do so, and I knew what I wanted to force myself to do. It seems to have worked.
My mind is… different. I feel like a different person; one unbound by the past. I can conceive of the future – I don’t know what is in it, or what I’m supposed to do with it, but it doesn’t feel impossible. I could be in it. I have to decide how. I’m already looking forwards to shows, and writing and activities. It doesn’t fill me with horror to fill a date in my diary.
I was supposed to see my counsellor on the fourteenth of January, but it was delayed a week by the snow. That was a slightly tense week as I waited for the awfulness to rise once more, and worse still as I anticipated the session: I feared that having to talk about abuse and things would bring back the feelings. My hope was for one session, maybe two to assure myself that I was on the right path and that Christmas was alright and so might the future be. We met on the twenty-first and it was fine. I had been fine. There was no reason that I ought not continue to be fine. So that was our last session.
I can go back if I want to, if I need to, if that submarine terror rises again. I don’t know whether it will or not. I hope it doesn’t. But if it does I know that I have all the material I need to make it go away again. The experience of counselling has been fascinating; as my counsellor pointed out – I have painstakingly retained all of the items (diaries, letters, photographs) I could need to revisit, relearn and comprehend what my mind had misplaced, forgotten and misunderstood. I don’t know what I would have done without that ghastly archive. I was looking after myself all along by retaining them, wrapping them and hiding them from my prying, forgetful eye. Our minds care for themselves? I’m not sure.
Whatever sorting and sifting I needed to do has been done. Now I just have the ordinary worries and concerns; I suspect I am still shielding myself from some of them. I have not fully grasped the concept of future. I feel the tension of work, and of working and socialising with people I don’t trust or like in a different way. They aren’t cloaked in the shadow of abuse; that’s not my overriding paradigm anymore. I don’t know how to deal with those problems, but as I said and felt with my counsellor, those aren’t the problems that I needed help to resolve – those are ordinary, standard problems; sexual abuse and the destruction of self are rather different. So I’ve freed my counsellor – an excellent and wonderful person – to go and help someone else, someone who needs what I needed. I’m free.