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Layers

This has been a fantastic Christmas; 10 dogs, two cats, various chooks and horses... there is a comforting smell to stable yards even in the rain, and the wind wuthered convincingly last night as it began to blow the old year into ashes and clouds. Christmas night saw us with friends, family, a mahoosive telescope and a ring around the moon. Yesterday I received a daunting if glorious present - a v posh camera, complete with half day learning sesh on how to use it, telephoto lens, software, books, camera bag etc... I love it but am terrified! Here's hoping I learn how to use it before Africa. The trick would be to connect the camera to the telescope and get some decent sky pics. We shall see.

But that's not going to be the point of this post. It's about a connection of two tiny non-events that have stayed with me. The first was watching the film, 'Life of Pi.'

It started well enough, and it was stunningly pretty, but the moment Pi needed to tame the tiger I just thought, 'Oh Feck Off.' I am so bored with stories about the human need for mastery,and animals being used to represent things/forces that must be conquered. Pi's travels in the boat could be seen as a real adventure with animals, or it could be seen as an allegory for Man's relationship with God, or it could be seen as a tale in which the beasts are direct metaphors for characters. To add another layer, the trainer of the famous tiger in the film has just been accused of - and apparently photographed - demonstrating immense cruelty towards young tigers. He likes whipping them, it seems, beating them in the face*. Doubtless there will be other ramifications, ripples of the story of Pi that others see, unknown to me and probably more positive; I have gone as far as I want to with it, dream and reality. But I accept that where I stop is not where a story ends. It may even spread out in non-linear fashion, in directions unmeasured.

On Christmas night, I read out a poem to Bro; I had dedicated it to Dad.

It was written before his death, but I decided to call it 'Dad's Song,' afterwards, because it is about the whole Scottish/Irish thing, diaspora and dreams and wanderings by unknown seas, associations with my heritage through Dad, rather than the man himself. And Dad loved stories.

Bro looked distasteful. 'Yes, yes,' he said, 'All very Yeats/Man who dreamed of fairyland/Celtic Twilight. But you do him far too much honour.' He had turned away when I recited it. What could I say? We have always both detested this idea that you hate someone all their life and then suddenly discover your keening voice when they die. It sounds hypocritical, attention-seeking. You can hate or you can mourn, you can't do both. Or can you?

It wasn't as though I turned Dad into Cuchulain or something. Dad's story is extraordinary. He doesn't need mythologising by me because the facts are too crazy for fiction: Golden Boy, Rich Man, Psychopath, Town Drunk... In my accounts of his life I have not lied about him, nor have I glossed anything over as far as I can recall. Doubtless I could have written the poem without being of Scottish/Irish descent - after all, it mentions Grendel. Dad enjoyed legends and fairy tales. He never wanted me to stop believing in them, as opposed to Mum, who found such things childish and grotesque.

Dad's encouragement is not what led me to love such things, but it lead me to read them, and my own inclination did the rest. The poem is not a tribute to a bad man, I don't know what it is. I named it for him on the spur of the moment, and that's how it will stay.

Layers to every story, Pi's, Bro's, Dad's, Mum's, Mine. What I have gained is the knowledge that if I look long enough, I will see and understand more of any story. Whether or not that's useful is another matter.

Meantime, we played with mini-drones, ate, drank, talked, travelled, were happy, had a very merry Christmas. I sit here with a fine whisky, a crackling fire, and my cats surrounding me, and though the Tigers of Pi mean no true peace, there is happiness here, with my love, in my home.

*At present I cannot chase this story to source, too horrible. But I will watch out for facts on the matter.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
nyarbaggytep
Dec. 26th, 2015 07:28 pm (UTC)
I specifically have avoided watching Life of Pi, because I read another book by the same author and had a very big "oh do just fuck off" response to it. Cruelty to tigers is absolutely horrible too though. What an awful man.
smokingboot
Dec. 26th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, it just made me roll my eyes tbh, and all the beautiful photography in the world didnt rescue it for me.

Re the horrible trainer, there is video/photographic footage apparently - but it seems that the report originates from PETA who don't have the strongest record for adherence to facts, so I keep hoping it is not as it seems. It is difficult because if it is true I would want to know what action is being taken and donate, but right now, I am actively worried about seeing pictures that make me lose my mind in rage.
spiraltower
Dec. 26th, 2015 11:42 pm (UTC)
"the wind wuthered convincingly last night as it began to blow the old year into ashes and clouds."

I know I've said it before, but I truly adore the way you write about winter weather.
smokingboot
Dec. 27th, 2015 11:06 pm (UTC)
Repetition...
is very welcome when it's so pleasant! Thank you :-)

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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