Posted by: okathleen | January 11, 2009

Is it a murder?

I don’t think so, how about an unkindness, or perhaps a cruelty.

No those labels are for crows and ravens.

Rooks can be a clamour or a building, but not the rooks here, swaying idiotically in the whoosh. Swaying on the highest branches in the tallest trees.These rooks are a storytelling.

A storytelling of rooks.

Endless narration of kaaakaaaa kaaaaa. Incessant chatter and angry sighs.

Concentrate, come back, leave links and rooks alone, what happened this week….?

On Friday I met Clive and I felt 0.00001% better about what I am doing and what I should be doing. An essay looms, a proper, academic study. Not ranting writing about stuff and objects. But measured and analytical judgements. It feels like I’ve been practising for the hurdles, and now suddenly I have to switch discipline to javelin. Different muscle groups needed.

I also popped my head around the door of Eric’s office. The office of Clive and the office of Eric are at opposite ends of the spectrum of orderliness. One is a haven of cataloguing and filing, books stacked with precision and boxes of papers kindly positioned one on top of another. A place for everything and everything in its place. The other office is a chaotic scrummage of papers and texts, pictures and sculptures. An exploding filing cabinets spills handouts onto the carpet below, well it might be carpet, layers of academic detritus obscure just what it might be. I am very uncomfortable in either place. Both offices make me twitch. I aspire to the good housekeeping of the one, but know it will never happen, and I deny the bombsite of the other knowing it is home from home.

Eric tries to placate my panic. I feel out of control. Directionless. What am I doing? We chat briefly about the psychology behind collecting. Motivation. What are we doing when we select one object above another?

The following day saw some magnificent object selection. I took Florence to her DofE Charity workplace. The ladies looked pleased to see her, and ordered her a hot chocolate and toast from the cafe next door. I left her to it and set off into the quiet streets in search of what? It was achingly cold. My ears burnt inside from the Arctic drift descending through the town. I headed for the indoor market. At my favourite stall, the owner was chewing the cud with some elderly clients. They were horrified about the collapse of Wedgwood/Waterford and Royal Doulton.

All doom and gloom. He said. Happy New Year. He said. What’s Happy about it. He said.

I caught his eye and asked him to pass me a glass jug from the shelf behind him.

Quality. He said.


And it was a lovely piece, heavy lead, cut and engraved, probably late Victorian, possibly not. The engraving is a delicate vine, which made me question his premise that this was a water jug. It was signed on the bottom. Walsh England.

We discussed the price, and then discussed it a little more.

And now it is sitting on the desk in front of me filled with garish yellow tulips. A threshold between in and out. Past and future, why, what for? A yearning for tradition, and time that has ticked off the clock. Am I trying to recapture something or someone. A snapshot of a happy time. Clinging on by a finger tip to what? Looking back it is easy to forget bad times. We only remember the niceties, happy days. The present too sore to consider. Best to look back. Do you remember when…. best not to look forward…

Giddens, Reith Lecture, 1999:

“As the influence of tradition and custom shrink on a world-wide level, the very basis of our self-identity – our sense of self – changes. In more traditional situations, a sense of self is sustained largely through the stability of the social positions of individuals in the community. Where tradition lapses, and life-style choice prevails, the self isn’t exempt. Self-identity has to be created and recreated on a more active basis than before. This explains why therapy and counselling of all kinds have become so popular in Western countries. When he initiated modern psychotherapy, Freud thought he was establishing a scientific treatment for neurosis. What he was in effect doing was constructing a method for the renewal of self-identity, in the early stages of a detraditionalising culture.

After all, what happens in psychotherapy is that the individual revisits his or her past in order to create more autonomy for the future. Much the same is true in the self-help groups that have become so common in Western societies. At alcoholics anonymous meetings, for instance, individuals recount their life histories, and receive support from others present in stating their desire to change. They recover from their addiction essentially through rewriting the story-line of their lives. ”

So by revisiting my past, or a past, I can construct a future. Is that so?

The stuff and objects are anchors or markers, a reminder or a prompt. Clues through the maze of creating and re-creating. Re-tell it. Re-new it. Who I am … is the what was I before I revised it.

Watch out rooks. A storytelling of Kathleens is on the prowl.


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