“knock hard, life is deaf”

When I first began to write annalog,

stomp box – perfect!

I asked what would happen to past pieces  and was told they would stay on the internet.  I thought that was odd, untidy almost –  though probably better value than a tombstone.   So there’s a decade of annalog including odd excuses for technical problems and holiday breaks.  And Jiz.  Except the words aren’t there.  Any banging on the door of wordpress will be much appreciated. 

Jiz was a wonderfully generous friend who pulled me gently back into standing position after the knockout of divorce. She was wracked with cerebral lupus (a variable syndrome, hers was punitive) and eventually she departed this life, leaving me to remember her and the above – a quote from a French Canadian surrealist called Mimi Parent.

I thought of it about 4.00 this morning, an hour with which I have become all too well acquainted lately.

The man who asked the questions for the survey at the Office of National Statistics (far too much expensive printed paper for a take up of one in three) asked what my father did.   “Director of Physical Education for the boys in the North Riding.”   I explained Yorkshire is the biggest county,

used to be four ridings -north, south, etc.  and he oversaw maintenance of playing fields, equipment, made suggestions, haggling to provide plimsolls that could be borrowed so that boys, whose parents couldn’t afford them, could take part in  gym and sports.     “Did your mother work ?”  Her title was Deputy Superintendent, Further Education for Women, in Middlesborough, organising classes on a wide range of subjects, making the schedules, finding the spaces and keeping the peace, eventually in her last years teaching English and Arithmetic to student nurses. Then he gave me a date.  “What were you doing then ?”    “Working for IPC Magazines.”   So was he, as a production manager. In all the millions, we met on the telephone.   

So knock hard doesn’t only suggest noise to me, it suggests sticking to things, endurance, memory. Names may change, ideas vary, things fall out of use (those long mellifluous titles my parents had, for one) but you are still trying to get a handle on life, so you can deal with the bad bits and enjoy the rest.   Knock hard means there are people who won’t understand why

– why Van Gogh painted as he did, why Stravinsky composed his music, why it takes humans until they have nearly wiped something out and ruined it before they realise and begin to look after it better – see Paul Whitehouse’s programme on British waterways.   

Knock hard suggests not being afraid to be heard and having to account for the noise.  Knock hard  suggests life is tough, nothing sweet or soft or furry except in passing.   The knockout World Nature Photography Awards 2022 includes a wonderful picture of a leopard climbing.  Oh that rump – velvet eat your heart out.  But sweet ?   Not a leopard.  

Many animal lovers contribute to a language problem with this.  There are those who think that we must be soppy to animals so that animals will be soppy back, forgetting that when God made animals, he didn’t make them soppy. He made them worthy of respect which is a rather different ballgame. 

I think life is often deaf because the knocking is cacophonous, we bang and hassle and it’s not coherent – the opposite of the clarity of persistent knocking, which is.  There is so much noise in the world that we can’t hear the question.    So it’s a kind of circle.  We should knock  – because life is deaf – in order to hear more clearly but often all we do is add to the noise and obscure any chance of understanding.   The BBC’s current ructions are a perfect example.  I’m sure you have an opinion though all we now know is a perfect example of half the story. And I am waiting for respected colleagues to make it clearer to us – without the paranoia that woke me at 4.00 am.   Because I am stuck with remembering of  “systematic delusions of a persecutory nature” (paranoia): just because you think they are after you, doesn’t mean they’re not.     

A Paranoid World by Richard Bentall 

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