Rodent Spirit

I saw something last week and it has stayed with me.

The image was that of a dead rat, laid out near the Grand Union canal, limbs spread, claws raised and torso twisted…the moment of death had been perfectly captured and temporarily preserved.

Its body was ravaged but its eyes were wide open and bulging, jaw clenched, with its head turning to its right, bearing its teeth in a last-gasp attempt at self-defence.

The rat was surely never more alive than in its last moments. Death and life were equally there, with the exact crossover point on display. This was a warrior posture, pure yoga-unity.

The predator

I presumed it was the prey of the urban fox that has been sniffing around the canal side, ripping apart black bags and other foxy things. I’d seen a big rat scuttling by the kerbside a few days prior, the fox sniffing the same path shortly after.

Death comes to all creatures, but the rat’s fighting spirit was striking. I stopped and admired it. I have seen death come to people’s spirits long before their physical demise. The dead eyes of the addict in Ladbrokes, not so different to the eyes of the politician at the press conference justifying dropping white phosphorous on children.

But the natural death of the rat is not mirrored in our unnatural environment. Our number one predator is not a stronger creature, but the very economic system we live in. Stripping lives of their meaning, atomising people, herded with officespeak, corporate mediaspeak, propaganda, consumerism, the housing crisis and more. Lives are directed to acts of malice, avarice and injustice.

We all know people born in the wrong place at the wrong time, ill equipped for the assault that can come; not given time, let alone guidance. Then blamed as they suffer. From individual despair and loneliness to North Kensington suffering the slow puncture of jadedness. It’s not the chem trails, it’s the system that deadens the soul.

The end

Seeing the deceased rat, I took out my phone to take a photo, already knowing I would write about the morbid scene. But the grisly sight would not have portrayed the inner disturbance. My eyes took in the image, my mind furnished it with the nightmarish detail. An inverse of Proust’s madeleine, the dead rat took me into the future, right to my very end…

The one inevitability for all of us, but how will I go out? Quietly content with how I lived? Happy with what I did? Did I challenge injustice? Did I look after my offspring with benevolence and wisdom?

How will I live? In fear – clinging on to a wage and a hope for a better future? At what point will I fight? And when will I let go and accept?

Alive

What was truly alive was the rodent’s spirit; its desire to stay alive was the equivalent of the human whose eyes flicker with love and openheartedness, who can’t be beaten down by the trials and hardships they face.

Horror and death captured perfectly until an environmental health employee shovelled it up. We all face that fate, however we dress it up. How will I live? Playing the game to get b(u)y? Or honouring my aliveness and humanity? If those are the alternatives, I choose the rodent spirit.

 

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

RBKC Bites Back @ Canalside House & the Community

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The council of Kensington and Chelsea has revived its plan to get rid of North Kensington community asset Canalside House and replace it with flats. The resurrection of the plan will be viewed by many as signalling the explicit return of the council’s long-standing policy of asset-stripping North Kensington. Will it be third time lucky for the council? 

What is Canalside House and Why Does it Matter?

Opened in 1929, Canalside House is an integral and much-loved part of the North Kensington community, serving many hundreds of local people each year, including hundreds of children, the disabled and other vulnerable groups. It is ideally located at the north end of Ladbroke Grove, with excellent transport links. It continues to play a vital role for people in West London, including with its role as a hub for Grenfell recovery and support.

Background Continue reading

Autumn Nights

Staring through the flames

of my inner fire

smoke filling the dark echo chamber of my soul

where whispered words

emerge as a desperate scream

 

What is truth?

This eerie place

without birdsong or dew

what is truth?

 

Slowly the heavens open

like a giant peach bursting

exposing a new dimension

torn apart like a repentant saint

rending his garments

frustrated in defeat to God’s grace

 

This pitiful last stand

of self-righteousness

vanquished, destroyed

Falsehood – like dross

burnt into a fine powder

blown away

by that eternal whirlwind

of revolving dust

 

A sandstorm to the masses

blinding what little vision they possess

deluded – beyond hope

For they did not reach in or reach out

to the almighty creator

who will cut my silk thread

where I will float above the trees

like a lost child’s baloon

looking down upon my body

Finally free – finally home…

 

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M.C. Bolton, September 2018

Grayson Perry – Descent of Man Review

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Picture from Penguin Books

 

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry is not a forensic study of its subject and so doesn’t lend itself to a particularly academic review. However, it introduces a couple of phrases to the lexicon that are well worth contemplation.

The book is premised on the notion that ‘upgrading’ men to improve their ‘adaptability’ to the modern world would be of huge benefit to men, women and the planet. Grayson Perry’s premise is well understood, and his opinions which fill the book are intelligent and apt.

Ample ink is spent pointing out male domination of various aspects of human affairs, something of a stream of consciousness, sprinkled with empathy for the position of men in 2018 and heavy dollops of ridicule of boorish male behaviour. Perry is knowledgeable without going the extra mile, and as a result The Descent of Man is as valid a review of masculinity as any well-intentioned and considered opinion on the subject. Continue reading

Part Two

Dark Stars

I fly into the dark star

at the edge of the Universe

falling into my constant dreams

matter cascading over the edge

like a forgotten run bath

 

Taps gushing light – energy

Just bending my mind

stretching my thoughts

beyond the sun…

 

spinning internally

a prisoner to the law of time

Dimension’s diamonds pushing me to the limit

of comprehension, of understanding

 

My soul, my spirit

fizzing like a treacle stick grenade

exploding my conscience into being

to what? for what?

a purpose? a reason?

 

I know nothing

I mean nothing

Just a fading mist

upon a hill of beans….

 

Poem ©M.C. Bolton, June 2018

Drawing ©Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

Simple and Deep

When a moment of knowing cuts through the mental chatter of depression, emotional pain or a turbulent time, it is a relief.

At that moment I receive a reminder of a place already known to me and I’m taken home again, where it’s warm, where there is always good company because when I am home – emotionally, mentally, spiritually – I am good company. 

There’s sense and order – everything is in flow; the material world is abundant and interesting directions open up.

What takes me from one state (heavy, Tamas) to another (light, Sattwa)?

Usually something simple and deep. Meditation; exercise; a realization – simple acts. Deep too, because each contains so much personal history, work and thought. It is the culminating moment containing many more moments within it. They’ve merged and manifested something rich – a temporary state of satisfaction that propels me forward, energised.

But while this knowledge accrues, satisfaction dwindles eventually. Boredom, agitation, anger, pain…the ego dog is on guard.

But the way back home will present itself again soon enough and it will be simple and deep – just like us.

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles