Ticket To Ride, Book2, Chapter 21: I suppose it’s easy to get stuck that way…

Hands of time1Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?

– The Beatles

 

Journal entry

Trudy I’ve gone to my mum and she’s, well, she’s going to be all right. All right I suppose and getting back on with things. She somehow got stuck with this idea that her life was so much better with dad. I suppose it’s easy to get stuck that way. Mum’s past forty now and looks close to sixty. Life’s taken it’s toll on her. Dad put some away for her and she’s helping out in a dress shop in the main square. Funny, sometimes I think it’s funny that I write these things to you. If there is a heaven and you’re up there, and somehow I know you are, then it’s silly of me to tell of these things. You know don’t you? I suppose it’s my way of talking to you, always has been. Oh Blackfriar’s Bridge Trudy. It’s come to pass in many ways, the things I thought back then. Somehow there’s still a bit of something missing. I’ve seen a lot, done a lot. Bloody hell, I’m published in the New Yorker. What else could I want? At any rate love, I miss you dearly and please keep a special eye on mum. What’s it like in heaven love? I know that’s where you are. All sun, and treacle, and Shepherd’s Pie for you, you rolly little thing. I’m sorry love, you never were quite fat were you, it’s just fun to think of you glowing and smiling and chubby from too much treacle. Sweets for my sweety.

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Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 20: Hold the best of him and don’t be false…

East Finchley SignTwenty

Livy’s mind slipped back to that December day in 1967. She and Trudy were back from Blackfriar’s Bridge and her mother had put together a small surprise party for her birthday.

“Happy Birthday love,” she says.

“Oh thank you so much mum, Livy replies, “is this all for me?”

There’s a birthday cake with waxy numbers in the shape of 10. Beside it is a box the size of a typewriter and a smaller box the size of a pencil  or pen holder.

“I can guess what those are, “ says Livy as her father walks into the room noticeably drunk.

“A fools paradise is all that bloody is. You’re just a stupid little girl.”

Livy looks to her mother for redemption or at least a kind word in her defense. Say something mum, she thinks.

“And you the bloody blind leading the blind, you daft cow.”

Her mother says nothing. Can’t say anything. The repercussions would be more than she could bear. She’s broken, and can’t be mended.

Oh mum, Livy thinks, if only he weren’t here, how wonderful it could have been.

“What about Trudy?”

“Forget it Livy,” her father says and takes the typewriter to the rubbish bin.

 

10218780_1Present Day (1979)

East Finchley, council flat, mum. Brick, grey skies, orange flowered, threadbare couch and that God awful painting of the toreador. Three years and I’m back.

“Livy I miss your father,” said Livy’s mother.

“He was a bastard  mum.”

“Please don’t say that Liv.”

“He was.”

“Drop your sulky teenage attitude for a minute.”

“There you go mum, let me have it.”

“Hmm?”

You’re sticking up for yourself.”

“Oh, I guess I am.”

“I’m so much more grown up when I’m not here.”

“Try to be that for me now.”

“I’m sorry mum, it’s just that I don’t have much good that I remember. He was a drunk and so damn angry all the time.”

“I wish you knew how wonderful he could be. It’s just that he got old too young. And well, when you came, he didn’t know how to be a father and felt inept. He wasn’t good at little girls.”

“Are you saying if I was a boy…”

“I’m not saying anything of the sort. It’s just that he’d closed himself off to me and you represented a challenge he couldn’t face. Your grown now and I want you to know that neither of us would have had you any other way, but he was closed. He tried but he was closed.”

“But you went away with him.”

“Livy I…”

“Let me speak this time mum. The valium, the naps, the wine, you let him take you with him and I was alone most of the time.”

“I remember you loved books.”

“Books were all I had, and Trudy.”

“But whether you remember or not, your father spent a lot of time reading to you when you were a child. He gave you that love.”

“I wanted love not books.”

“Don’t be disrespectful.”

“Children want love mum. Little girls want to love their daddies as much as their mommies. I’ve stayed away from men because he was what I thought they were.”

Livy’s mother began to cry.

“I’m sorry love,” she said to Livy.

“It’s ok mum. I’m ok. I just don’t want you to slip into some phony soft reverie of him. He hit you mum.”

“That’s enough now Livy.”

She began to cry harder and moved toward Livy and they hugged. Livy became the mother.

“I love you mum and I don’t want you to cry,” Livy said.

“So stop now lovey.”

“Just be ok without him mum. Hold the best of him and don’t be false.”

Livy reached into her pocket and pulled out a poem.

“Here mum. I just wrote this. It’s nothing, but maybe something.”

 

80

when I’m 80

I may,

God willing,

forget,

all the ages I’ve been and all the things I’ve done

and be spared the pain of

wishing to return to places I can’t go back to

and being with people who are not who they once were or,

are dead.

when I’m 80

I will,

God willing,

remember,

all the ages I’ve been and all the things I’ve done

and feel the joy of a life lived.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 19: Further south Liv…

deadly ringer 2 depot 3Nineteen

“Further south Liv,” Ramie said.

“I’ve just gone to bloody Land’s End.”

“Boss just got a tip on a new surf mecca.”

“Very cool.”

“Yeah.”

“Where?”

“Central America, Costa Rica.”

“More please.”

“Empty, cheap, warm.”

“What’s the story?”

“He’s gonna hook you up with more surfers.”

“Right on.”

“Right on?”

“Sorry Rame hippyspeak, the guys were saying it all the way through Mexico.”

“Stay in San Diego. You’re gonna fly into the capital then go by truck to the coast and a place called Witches Rock.”

“How’s he like the Baja story.”

“He’s sending you to Costa Rica.”

“Yeah.”

“So it’s Saturday Liv. You leave Monday d’ya need anything?”

“Spanish lessons.”

“They’ll be an interpreter.”

“Any messages?”

“Your Mom. She sounded sad.”

“I better go there first.”

“But Liv.”

“It’s been too long Rame. Costa Rica can wait.”

“But the boss.”

“I’ll make it quick. I’ll call in a few days.” (click)

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 2: Just Another Day

pxdxaDisco08Book 2, Just Another Day 

Livy Tinsley, 1975

Every day she takes a morning bath, she wets her hair, wraps a towel around her as she headed for the bedroom chair, It’s just another day. – Paul McCartney, Wings

 

8 years later,  the 70s drug culture had made it’s way into the mainstream and Livy, having bided her time in the normal workings of school, and life as a teenager and, having tapped the strength her mother never had, she’d avoided most of the traps of adolescence, promiscuous sex, drugs, smoking, drinking. Her mother never did any of these things, she just kept quiet, not strong, just abstinent, shivering. Livy’d avoided it all consciously, making choices, but she’d not defused the bomb. ‘Just another day’ she’d think remembering the song by the same name from her, now mythical, Paul. A few more days and I’ll be gone, gone from here. The here that will never be anywhere except here. The here that crushes but never produces diamonds, just the pressure to leave, to squeeze me out of the way, in time to avoid the speeding Lorry with my name on it.

She’d not closed herself so much to not enjoy platonic intimacy, mind to mind, eye burning into eye. Make love to me with your mind she’d think. Reach above your crotch and make love to me, make love to me with your soul. I want to know it.

Physical intimacy hadn’t happened. Not because girls her age weren’t doing it, but because she saw men as weak, lecherous and sometimes vulturous and didn’t want to need them. To other girls in her world they were just the other, north and south, magnets, easily defined as not female, male, the other half in the equation, the equation that makes 1+1 equal 2. Clear, Concise, Pithy to them, not her.

Her father was a weak alcoholic who condescended regularly to her mother and would write her off with a creative compound profanity. She never witnessed respectful intimacy between her parents and only knew them to be intimate when dad was drunk. Mum didn’t seem to like this.

Her application for college would be her ticket out:

“Thank you for this Livy,” Mrs Brompton said.

“No, thank you Mrs Brompton. If you hadn’t alerted me to this, I would’ve never known what was possible.”

“I’m just an English teacher Livy. I know when someone has potential in my subject.”

“It’s more than that Mrs Brompton. In my world things don’t happen like this.”

“The world’s changing sweetie,” she replied, “and I believe fate will smile on you. I’ve alerted Professor Thornton to your arrival. Now just follow his lead.”

“I wish you could come with me.”

“This is as far as I can go at this point. The rest is up to you. Oxford is waiting”

Hours later, upon entering their street, Trudy declared:

“Let’s celebrate Livy!”

“Celebrate how?”

“We’ll go to the Tower!”

“All right love, but we’ll keep it short and we’ll keep it cool.”

Livy worried for Trudy. Trudy liked the Tower in a different way than she. The Tower was “it” to Trudy; to Livy it was a place to blow off a little steam and then get back to things. The night life could swallow you.

The Tower Disco, throbbing. The throb of it. The bass and the lights, speakers to the ceilings, speakers like their own futuristic city, alternately blowing you away, then sucking you back in, with some Captain Fantastic DJ with the fucked up Elton John-esque sequined son of Liberace thing happening like Saturday-Night-Fever-in-training, screaming things like “Oh Baby” and “Swing that thing.”

Livy and Trudy had come here a couple of times. Doormen didn’t care about age. “The more birds the better, gives the lads summat to stay for” the bartender from Blackpool would tell them.

Post-modern lautrecean moulin rouge Livy thought. City life on coke.

“You birds up for a toot,” some guy who looked like Barry Gibb shouted in the faces of the girls.

“A toot?” Trudy yelled back.

“Come on little girl, cocaine, a bit of the white stuff.”

“Not me thanks.” Trudy said.

The ticking stopped in Livy and there was a pause, “I’m in.” she yelled to Barry.

“Right then, let’s go love.”

And he pulled her toward the “gents.” Livy didn’t flinch and flew behind him through the door and past the faces of the rooms’ inhabitants, some clamoring to fix themselves and others just smiling like henchmen. Trudy protested all the way to the door until Livy turned to her and said, “Sod it Trudy. I’m in for it. Don’t make a meal of it lovey. You coming or not?”

Trudy grabbed her hand and the three went through the door together. Inside they found an empty stall and “Barry” chopped the white rock into small even lines. The girls watched as if witnessing a master potter. The room was red. The stalls were black. The smell of all of the piss that hadn’t made it into the toilets mixed with cheap cologne and cigarettes was everywhere and in their noses but the girls had had a couple of drinks and their sense of smell and other things were dim. That was initially to be all, two drinks, but here they were mesmerized by the razor blade craftsman chopping rock. He rolled a pound note and handed it to Livy.

“Here you go love.”

“What do I do?”

“Like a straw love,” he said, motioning to put it to her nose.

The light flickered and Livy and Trudy both looked to the ceiling.

“Here’s to it,” she said and snorted one of three, feeling it burn high in her nose and then begin to cool and drip into her throat. She felt like a rabbit and wiggled her nose, “Blimey!,”  she said and handed the rolled note to Trudy. Trudy followed suit and smiled.

“Oh my,” she said, “that’s delightful.”

Barry smiled and looked both the girls up and down and then pulled a joint from his pocket and lit it. The smell of it was foreign and drowned out the smell of the piss for a moment. Trudy felt sick but curious and extremely enthusiastic.

“This’ll take the edge off of that girls,” he said handing the joint to Livy.

Livy put her lips to it and the smoke got in her eyes as she sucked on it and breathed it in. Her lungs burned and she began coughing as her eyes started to water.

“Good one love,” Barry said, taking it away from her and handing it to Trudy. Trudy drew on it deeply and didn’t cough. She held it in like he had, then let it out slowly. She still felt queasy but the coke and the pot were beginning to mask it. She felt like doing some more. Barry chopped some more and they cleaned it off the back of the W.C. Barry started to think he might be getting some rumpy tonight.

“Let’s dance,” Trudy exclaimed, in an exaggerated and high-pitched falsetto. The three exited the stall and headed back to the dance floor.

Three songs had played when Livy first opened her eyes. Ball spinning overhead like a fly’s eye refracting beams of light shot from behind the DJ. The constant thump, better, the throb, pounding into and through her body, she was lost, drunk, high, swirling like a dervish and gone. People around her disappeared as themselves and became a sort of extension of the storm that she was the eye of. They were moving slowly away from her center becoming less what they were and more like ghosts, apparitions, and poltergeists. She opened her eyes as the music slowed to the end of the song. Their faces stared back at her, hollowed out, gaping mouths, dark and toothless. She couldn’t see Trudy nor Barry until she heard a familiar giggleshreek that made her turn toward the wall wherefrom people were emerging through passages of yellow light. Trudy was smiling on her way into the loo with Barry. She looked more beautiful at that moment than Livy ever remembered seeing her. Another song started. Livy started to dance unaccompanied, trying to break back into the space she’d been in a minute before but her storm was played out and she felt tired. Better get Trudy and go.

She slalomed across the floor, suddenly very weary of the place, and the faces. As she reached the door she felt the pressure of a hand across her chest. Looking down no one was there. Stopkeepmoving she thought. She took a few more steps like one might if walking on broken glass, wanting to get past it but almost paralyzed by thought of slipping in it. From one of the stalls came the sound of Barry’s voice, “bluh-dee hell” as he tried to catch Trudy on her way down to the floor. Her head hit the side of the stall, her body twisted and slid down until her head found its way free and hit the floor like a pumpkin, shattering her cheekbone. Her eyes were closed tightly in a grimace, then they loosened. She lay still. Barry reached down as best he could, around the side of the toilet. Livy covered the last ten feet in what seemed like one great stride and she was on the floor and pulling at Trudy, trying to get her into an open space on the floor. Air she needs air. She pulled Trudy’s head into her lap. “Trudy love, wake up lovey!” Her voice began to break as a knowing came over her, immediately followed by a disbelieving. The two went to war; the knowing could see it was over but the disbelief had to try. She screamed for help and started doing her best to give CPR. Trudy’s nose had flattened against her face, the bridge having given way, and she was like a limp kitten in Livy’s arms. Barry’s voice saying that someone had given them powdered bleach made her want to kill him.

“She’s dead,” the girl next to her said in her ear, removing her hand from Trudy’s heart.

“Oh God no. Not my Trudy… not my Trudy… oh my lovey… my little girl,” Livy said, rocking back and forth, holding on to her until one of the big doormen came in and made her let go.

“The paramedics’ll be here in a minute love. You’ve got to let her go now.”

“You can’t have her. I won’t let you… that’s my girl… that’s my Trudy.”

The Tower had gone silent except for the rain beating on the windowsill at the far end of the bathroom.

Ticket To Ride, Book Two, Chapter 1: To lead a better life, I need my love to be here…

thames2Just Another Day

Livy Tinsley’s Story

“To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.”

– from “Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles

 

As the sun was setting over the Pacific Islands, casting it’s multi-color, thousand shaded dance on the faces of people she would never know, if only through the stories of a future, decade away lover, Olivia Tinsley (Livy) was waking to the new day. North London, having yet shed its coal-smoke past, greeted the morning like a stepmother embracing an unwanted child. But Livy’s spirit was above this, stepmother or not, she was connected to the morning. Her world was never just East Finchley. Hers was all that the equator bisected and all that lay between the poles. And while only a young girl, she knew she would bring them all to see this.

This particular morning, Saturday, December 17, 1967, was Livy’s birthday. She was turning ten today, double-digits, the first step toward young womanhood and the springtime of Psyche.

Trudy would be waiting. And the two friends, connected by a vision that stretched beyond the High street and market day, would walk above what others saw. Today their trek would take them to the Thames, a river which, in both their minds, led to the all of the oceans of the world.

They met at the corner as they did on so many other mornings, liberated from the utilitarian drabness of their council-flat homes. (This drabness should be seen as only the narrator’s point of view because neither girl could be “bothered” with pigeonholing themselves as being poor.) Poverty was something they saw in their parents’ eyes. It scared them, like the [Boogie Man], and solidified in them, a desire to not be poor, at least in spirit, and dreams. Dreams were what they had, a warm cloak against the morning air and their protection against their mother’s insistent urging to dress more warmly. The only warmth Livy needed today was what she saw in the floppy-haired eyes of Paul McCartney. The Beatles were in full force and she saw in them, especially in Paul, the promise of the world outside; a world full of Europe, America and the power of words to make change.

They walked along the High street, peering in the windows of the shops that had yet to open, not to appraise the wares laid out for sale in the way their mothers saw them, as objects to be possessed and kept, but as objects of discovery and promise, things that told tales of the people that created them and the lands from which they had come. In the window of the Tea shop sat boxes and tins bearing English names but the brands were so much less important than the places they had come from. Ceylon, Bombay, Jakarta and the like were names that conjured in them, fantasies and dreams of sweet-smelling air and fragrant fields of tea, places where their supposed poverty was alternatively noble, and lives built around the cultivation of these crops were simple and pleasurable and fraught with tradition, ritual, and beauty.

At Finchley Road they turned, and walked the long stretch from the here to there. A long walk for you and I, but just here to there for Livy and Trudy. Just here to there. The “there” being the banks of the Thames, and a bridge. And it was on this bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, looking East along the river that their conversation began. With the warm lands in their minds, their Saturday dreams took flight and Livy would often pose a question. “What would this have been if it wasn’t for Norsemen and Saxons? If we two had had a say in the building up of this island?”

Instead of answering, Trudy would turn inward, subconsciously erasing feudalism and Burgundian kings. She would instead picture a world where Joans’ of Arc would ride in on silver steeds and carry a message of peace. Or Emile Guillame’s, La Deliverance, an actual female nude statue standing in the middle of Finchley, holding a sword in the Battle of Marne, projecting power and grace and a vision of something other, other than the usual outcome of war, and other than a temporary half-conjured promise, but a promise of finally broaching that next world, that world where definitions are based on how well all is defined and not on the appearance of things. And while the barges and steamships of commerce rolled by she would picture a river full of music and romance, and a body of water that carried instead promise, and intangibles like adventure and freedom. These commodities would, in most cases be, under the cold eyes of the economist, trade goods, but to Trudy they weren’t simply traded goods, but an exchange of the wealth of kingdoms, kingdoms borne of diplomacy, goodwill and temperance.

“Didja know Trudy… an early, maybe the first, Briton and his wife, Hwll and Akun came through here in the summer some seventy-five hundred years before Christ, on their way to Salisbury? They came down here to find a new home, somewhere warmer as the last ice age was ending. This place was full of trees but they didn’t stop. Something drove him further south. London was a forest and the Thames ran freely, wide, and big. * Trudy there was nothing here. No off-licenses, no Minis, no Austin Healeys, no Ty-phoo or Tetley, no London Times or BBC… just trees and the river. How must that’ve been?”

Livy had  broached this before, several times thought Trudy, but Trudy never tired of the speculation. She loved that Livy would ask it. That’s where Trudy wanted to go, away from the council flat, away from the sinking feeling that permeated it. She felt this more deeply than Livy. She could feel it creeping up around her ankles, threatening to choke her, and she, unlike Livy, felt powerless to fight it. Her only escape was through Livy’s words, and her questions, and her spirit, and her eyes, blue as nothing she’d seen. Livy was like a happy little female Buddha, smiling lovingly and defiantly at the world. It couldn’t touch her. She was wholly Psyche; nothing of Aphrodite and her sometimes steamrolling quality were present. She was fun, and hope, and promise, “cheeky” and detached.

“I’m ten Trudy, a decade old, ten years, double-digits. I mean, what will I mean? I’m sorry but, bloody hell, what is this councilflat-eastfinchley-povertyshite. I’m biding my time Trudy. I’m not long for here. I’m just ten but there’s work to do…

St. Paul’s. What do you think of St. Paul’s? Trudy? What do you think of St. Paul’s?”

Trudy had drifted off. She felt Livy pushing, moving, couldn’t be there  for her anymore. Livy wanted too much. Trudy wanted just to talk. Livy spoke her dreams and Trudy rode on them, but Trudy couldn’t see it for herself. Livy, livy, livy, she thought. She’ll leave me here.

“I think my mum got me new ballet slippers. God knows why, I’ve only done one thing right in four years. Stopped the whole class to show them I was so excited. But mum still thinks I’m going to make the Royal Ballet.”

“But you’re going to be a writer Livy.”

“Mum’s dream.”

“Which?”

“The ballet… girls don’t write, not supposed to… not girls from East Finchley.”

Trudy sort of nodded in agreement and disbelief at the same time then pulled something from her coat pocket.

“I wrote this for you,” handing a folded sheet of paper to Livy, “You’re a much better writer than me, but well, here it is. Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks Trudy, I suppose they’ll be more coming out of East Finchley than just ink.” **

She stopped to read.

 

“Silken voice,

silken smile

whistles on wind

all the while

sweet songs of seashells, seabirds & sandy crabs.

Transplanted manner

wide-eyed sigh

walks in whispers

under white light sky

through pretty poetry of

mustard greens and autumn sun

Lancashire castles

reproduced in sand

lyrics and verse

composed in her small hand

conversation adrift that she can’t understand

she sleeps quietly with Nana

in Nana’s new land.”

 

“Thank you so much lovey. You are a love…”

Livy put her arm around Trudy.

“I love the look of St. Paul’s from here. It looks… well… it looks like someone cared…. but, at the same time… the constructs of it.” she continued.

“Construction…” Trudy added.

“I hate construction…” said Livy.

Trudy frowned, “Exactly.”

They looked at each other and Trudy smiled through Livy, then both turned back toward the Thames and at a passenger ship heading downriver to Dover, the Channel and everywhere else.

“Nana’s new land Livy! You can see it too.”

“You’re going to leave someday,” Trudy finished.

They were quiet again until Livy had to speak.

“My dad drank a lot again last night.”

“Ditto.”

The two of them hugged one another.

“I love you sweetie,” Livy said.

“I love you too,” replied Trudy.

“Best friends forever.”

“Best friends forever.”

It ended like this most every time.

 

* gleaned from Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd

** In 1874, Henry Charles Stephens, son of the Inventor of modern ink and also known as “Inky” Stephens came to live here and to establish a laboratory.

Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon

Ticket to Ride

Prologue

Just Another Day – Livy Tinsley

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.

– from “Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles

As the sun was setting over the Pacific Islands, casting it’s multi-color, thousand shaded dance on the faces of people she would never know, if only through the stories of a future, decade away lover, Olivia Tinsley (Livy) was waking to the new day. North London, having yet shed its coal-smoke past, greeted the morning like a stepmother embracing an unwanted child. But Livy’s spirit was above this, stepmother or not, she was connected to the morning. Her world was never just East Finchley. Hers was all that the equator bisected and all that lay between the poles. And while only a young girl, she knew she would bring them all to see this.

This particular morning, Saturday, December 17, 1967, was Livy’s birthday. She was turning ten today, double-digits, the first step toward young womanhood and the springtime of Psyche.

Trudy would be waiting. And the two friends, connected by a vision that stretched beyond the High street and market day, would walk above what others saw. Today their trek would take them to the Thames, a river which, in both their minds, led to the all of the oceans of the world.

They met at the corner as they did on so many other mornings, liberated from the utilitarian drabness of their council-flat homes. (This drabness should be seen as only the narrator’s point of view because neither girl could be “bothered” with pigeonholing themselves as being poor.) Poverty was something they saw in their parents’ eyes. It scared them, like the [Boogie Man], and solidified in them, a desire to not be poor, at least in spirit, and dreams. Dreams were what they had, a warm cloak against the morning air and their protection against their mother’s insistent urging to dress more warmly. The only warmth Livy needed today was what she saw in the floppy-haired eyes of Paul McCartney. The Beatles were in full force and she saw in them, especially in Paul, the promise of the world outside; a world full of Europe, America and the power of words to make change. Continue reading “Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon”