In Search of A/The Point of Life

INTERMISSION: RUNNING AWAY FROM NONDON FOR A DAY OR TWO. WHERE TO?

Hair 6 June 2010, split till Kaidie's end (uncut 12.12.2009 - 09.09.2012, after Tehching Hsieh)

In Life 1.0, Kaidie lives in Nondon. Yet, as we know, any peripetetic runner must deny herself allegiances, and must attach herself to the ethos of non-attachment. Instead, she traverses multiple terrains at the same time, double-triple-crossing, happily crisscrossing her eyes, splitending her hair and curling her toes while dipping curly fries in pig’s cheeks at the same time. So, while Kaidie always insists that she loves Nondon (and that Nondon loves her?), every so often, she must run away from her, to an other place in Life 1.0 that is non-Nondon, non-non-London. We love the city, but the task of the trans-dimensional runner is to resist liking any one place or thing too much. Also, it is Summer just now. Kaidie and her all-consuming love affair with Nondon could do with a little break.

Hence, our Dear Reader, where can Kaidie run away to, for just a day trip, this Summer? Somewhere nearby, but somewhere that looks/sounds/smells/feels different enough from our lovely Nondon. A different terrain to run, with a different scenary, that would give Kaidie a different gait and different rhythm of breathing, and to urge – ever so gently – that stubborn flu of 3 weeks to please leave her system, if not for good, for a little while.

Kaidie recalls a particularly invigorating Summer in a previous life, during which she spent a month in Suomenlinna, in Helsinki, Finland. The weather was extremely crisp, dry and sunny, the flat splendidly spacious and bright (Kaidie was retrospectively told that that was an especially brilliant Nordic Summer). Upon arrival, she was filled with a dread, assuming at once that as a lifelong urban denizen across many lifespans, the fortress island would be unbearable and boring. What arrogance. For, within a couple of days, Kaidie began a month-long routine of walking along the coasts for hours at length, as well as exploring the many tunnels. Although a tiny island, the place opened up the more Kaidie walked it, as if an endless Escher print full of surprising rabbit holes. She would return to the studio to type some notes with no particular intention. In the heady mixture of liqourice ice-cream, squeaky cheese, canons facing generations of enemies, picnics at sloping hills, dipping into the sea, rocking in ferries, blond hair, blue eyes, green eyes, blue-green eyes, and midnight suns, the seeds of Kaidie’s current life, and life story, and task, were planted.

This, of course, was before Kaidie became ‘Kaidie’.

Foam with (foamy) memory. What does it recall? What does it forget? What does it selectively memorise?

Travelling to Stockholm from Helsinki on the trashy Viking Line that Summer, Kaidie recalled Ingmar Bergman’s Summer With Monika (1953). (Kaidie’s favourite work of the great auteur, however, is the shattering Wild Strawberries). This summer, one of Kaidie’s virtual running buddies, James Odling-Smee, tells Kaidie about another Summer with Monika, by Roger McGough (Liverpool, 1967). That summer, Kaidie’s hair was slightly longer than it is now. After she left Suomenlinna, to return home, or ‘home’, she had much of it cut.

In the spirit of summer, with Monika, Monikas, in Stockholm, Suomenlinna, Liverpool, London, Non-London, Nondon, Non-Nondon, Non-non-London, 1953, 1967, 2006, 2010, we reprint McGough’s poem here.

Summer With Monika

They say the sun shone now and again
but it was probably cloudy with far too much rain.
They say the greatest train robbery in history took place,
probably students,
who else wants to steal a train.
They say cabinet ministers and osteopaths
were particularly vulgar about this time,
they say babies were born,
married couples made love,
often with each other
and people died, sometimes violently.
They say it was an average, ordinary, moderate,
run-of-the-mill, common-or-garden summer,
but it wasn’t.
For I locked a yellow door
and I threw away the key
and I spent summer with Monica
and Monica spent summer with me.
Unlike everybody else we made friends with the weather,
most days the sun called and sprawled all over the place,
or the wind blew in as breezily as ever
and ran its fingers through our hair.
But usually it was the moon that kept us company.
Some days we thought about the sea-side
and built sandcastles on the blankets
and paddled in the pillows
or swam in the sink,
and played with the shoals of dishes.
Other days we went for long walks around the table
And picnicked on the banks of the settee.
Or just sun-bathed lazily in front of the fire
Until the shilling set on the horizon.
We danced a lot that summer
bosa nova-ed by the bookcase,
or Madisoned instead,
Hulli-gullied by the oven,
or did the twist in bed.
At first we kept birds in a transistor box to sing for us,
but sadly they died,
we being too embraced in each other to feed them.
But it didn’t really matter
because we made love songs with our bodies.
I became the words and she put me to music.
They say it was just like any other summer,
but it wasn’t.
For we had love and each other and the moon for company,
when I spent summer with Monica
and Monica spent summer with me.

Ten milk bottles standing in the hall,
ten milk bottles up against the wall,
next door neighbour thinks we’re dead,
hasn’t heard a sound he said,
doesn’t know we’ve been in bed,
the ten whole days since we were wed.
No one knows and no one sees
we lovers doing as we please
but people stop and point at these
ten milk bottles a-turning into cheese.
Ten milk bottles standing day and night,
ten different thicknesses and different shades of white.
Persistent carol singers without a note to utter
silent carol singers,
a-turning into butter.
Now she’s run out of passion
and there’s not much left in me
so maybe we’ll get up and make a cup of tea.
then people can stop wondering what they’re waiting for
those ten milk bottles a queuing at our door.

I have lately learned to swim
and feel more at home in the ebb and flow
of your slim rhythmic tide
than in the fully dressed,
couldn’t care less
restless world outside.
You squeeze my hand and cry a little
You cannot comprehend the raggle taggle of living
and think it unfair that death
should be the only one
who knows what he’s doing.
You are afraid of the big bad dark
which loiters in our room
the night it prowls about the yard
the wind howls in distress
The Tom-moon peeps through the window
waiting for the table to undress.
It will soon be tomorrow
there’s nothing to fear
You whisper,
‘ever leave me?’
and put your tongue in my ear.
Sssshhhhh…….
don’t open it,
it can only be
the enemy.
____________

Said I trusted you, spoke too soon
heard of your affair with the man in the moon,
You say that it’s all over, then if you’re right
why does he call at the house every night.

Once I paid the piper and called the tune,
but one afternoon returning home early from the office
I found you in bed with the piper.
You call the last waltz
and now I dance sadly out of your life.

Monica who’s been eating my porridge
while I’ve been away?
My Quaker oats are nearly gone, what have you got to say?
Someone’s been at the whisky,
taken the jaguar keys
and Monica another thing
who’s trousers are these.
I love and trust you darling
can’t really believe you’d flirt
but there’s a strange man under the table
wearing only a shirt.
There’s someone in the bathroom,
someone behind the door,
the house is full of sexy men,
Monica,
Don’t you love me anymore?

You are a woman of many faces
and the one that suits you best I fear
is the one you wear when I’m not here,
for when you wear your marriage face
boredom lounges round the place

Your finger sadly has a familiar ring about it.

Last night was your night out
and just before you went
you put your scowls in a tumbler
half filled with Sterodent
so they’d keep nice and fresh for me.

Monica,
the tea things are taking over,
the cups are as big as bubble cars
they throttle round the room,
the tin-openers skate on the greasy plates
by the light of the silvery moon.
The biscuits are having a party
they’re necking in our bread bin,
that’s jazz you hear in the salt cellars
but they don’t let non-members in.
The egg spoons had our eggs for breakfast,
the sauce bottle’s asleep in our bed,
I overheard the knives and forks
it won’t be long, they said
it won’t be long, they said,
and it wasn’t.

It all started yesterday evening
as I was helping the potatoes off with their jackets
I heard you making a date with the kettle,
I distinctly heard you making a date with the kettle,
my kettle.
Then at midnight,
In the half light,
When I was polishing the blue speckles in a famous soap powder,
I saw you fondling the frying-pan,
I distinctly saw you fondling the frying-pan,
My frying-pan.
Finally at mid-dawn,
In the half light
While waiting in the cool shadows beneath the sink,
I saw you making love with the gas cooker,
I distinctly saw you making love with the gas cooker,
My gas cooker.
My mistake was to leap upon you crying,
Monica, spare the saucers.
For now I’m alone,
you having left me for someone with a bigger kitchen.

In, October, when winter the lodger the sod,
came a-knocking at our door,
I set in a store of biscuits and whisky
you filled the hot-water bottle with tears
and we went to bed until spring.
In April we arose,
warm and smelling of morning,
we kissed the sleep from each others eyes,
and went out into the world,
and now summers here again regular as the rent man,
but our lives are now more ordered, more arranged.
The kissing, wily, carefree times are changed.
We no longer stroll along the beaches of the bed,
or snuggle in the long grass of the carpets,
the room no longer a world for make believing in
but a ceiling and four walls that are for living in.
We no longer eat our dinner holding hands
or neck in the back stalls of the television
the room no longer a place for hide and seeking in
but a container that we use for eat and sleeping in.
Our love has become as comfortable
as the jeans you lounge about in
as my old green coat
as necessary as the change you get from the milkman
for a ten bob note.
Our love has become as nice as a cup of tea in bed,
as simple as something the baby said.
Monica, the sky is blue, the leaves are green,
The birds are singing, the bells are ringing,
For me and my gal.
The suns as big as an ice cream factory,
the corns as high as an elephants eye
could go on for hours about the lovely weather
we are having,
but Monica,
they don’t make summers like they used to.
– Roger McGough

** Do continue to watch and vote for CLAUDIA TOMAZ‘s film, Kaidie and The Meaning of Life 3.0, Episode 1. Episode 2 coming up. **

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4 Responses Subscribe to comments


  1. Majei

    Hi Kaidie,

    That’s a very affecting poem. I recognise the wistful and melancholic voice of a poet from a port.

    Majei

    Jul 23, 2010 @ 12:33


  2. cloud9

    dear Kaidie! I am trying to escape too! escape London, the computer, the back pain, the disappointment of things that don’t happen… yes, where to go? I landed on planet London 3 years ago and for one reason or the other never went around the UK. And I want so much to do it! I want to know where I am. I want to meet people in the countryside. I want to see the fields and be on the road! I miss particularly the sea, the ocean, the blue! and the green too! But where to go? I’ve been asking people the same question! Bournemouth beach and New forest were some names that pop out… not too far from London. I would love to go on a van. have a mobile house which is both home and transportation so you can just be on the road and go with the flow! Maybe show or make films on the way, a ‘Travelogue’ in Great Britain! But maybe I can only afford a cheap mega-bus and put a tent on the beach. Good luck, hope you find the place that suits you!

    I also have beautiful memories from a sweet midnight-sun summer in the north of Finland once!

    cloud 9

    Jul 23, 2010 @ 12:42


  3. 3rdlifekaidie

    Dear Cloud 9!
    Thank you for your words – I share your exact pain – plus your additional pain of having to edit the films about Kaidie, with that boring woman in black yakking on and on and on... Bournemouth beach and New Forest sound splendid indeed! There have been other suggestions from our Dear Readers – I hope now you have a list to chose from!
    Making a travelogue while travelling in a caravan all over Britain sounds like a fabulous idea!! It sounds like a journey of discovery. I did that for 3 years of a previous life, during which I created a work called ISLANDHOPPING (2002-2005 Japan) while travelling around the archipelago. There was so much I learnt from the people I met and the places I visited, which is the whole idea of why one hits the road, is it not! 🙂 I recall too at this point Andrew Kotting’s cute Gallivant (1996) that I had watched ages ago, in which he travels with his old grandmother and young daughter with learning difficulties, along the coast of England. What a beautiful starting point and point of departure alike.
    In the light of summer, beautiful memories of sweet midnight suns, and more trips-of-our-lifetimes-to-come, I wish you more happy days ahead as we run alongside each other, and run into each other!
    xoxo
    Kaidie

    Jul 27, 2010 @ 19:48


  4. 3rdlifekaidie

    Hello Majei
    Indeed – there is bitterness in the nostalgia as there is so much humour! I did not know McGough, so this is the first time I am reading him, but the more I read it the more I find it hilarious yet poignant. I love the banalities of details (Sterodent) , allusions (nursery rhymes) and wordplay (my favourite is “Your finger sadly has a familiar ring about it”). This was more than a decade after Bergman’s Monika, and both Monikas are very similar (intense, passionate, carefree, but ultimately moving on and leaving others behind), so I am guessing that McGough’s was an homage to the film also. I think there is a Monika in all of us, but these two are as ideal as they get!
    Have a brilliant Summer, Majei!
    Warmest regards
    Kaidie

    Jul 27, 2010 @ 20:06

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