I once spent a brief period of time living in a house calledThe Reading Rooms in the picturesque Norfolk village of Brooke. I was there for two years living with my Father and his then ‘wife to be’. The Reading Rooms are haunted by a reasonably harmless phantom that likes to periodically move small items of furniture around and knock things off shelves to draw attention to itself.
I returned to the Reading Rooms in the gap between the end of Saturday and beginning of Sunday. I was surprised to find that my old home was almost as I remembered it seventeen years ago. It was also a surprise to find my Father and estranged wife still in there, but then, I believe they both privately haunt their former house, mulling over happier times before their divorce. I believe a part of them never left; perhaps they are the new ghosts of the Reading Rooms.
In the front garden I noticed a tin of blue paint, the label said ‘Flying Emulsion’. So I popped the lid open, slid my hands into the contents and then smeared the paint over a piece of wood that happened to be lying nearby. Sure enough, as my fingers spread and worked the paint into the rough old bit of timber, the more coated it became, the more resistance it offered to the forces of gravity. In a short time I had to use both hands to suspend my body from the now fully floating piece of timber. As the paint dried, my feet left the ground and I was airborne. I know you can imagine how this felt, you need only draw upon childhood memories of swooping around on an old rope swing to get a close approximation of how I felt…you just have to un-imagine the rope.
I swooped and whooped my way over local roofs and treetops, circling my old house and feeling the thrills so reminiscent of my boyhood. I spotted my father’s ex-wife walking out of the house and it seemed that my attention to her walking below me became an opposing force to the flying paint covered wood. A brief moment later I was back in the front garden and the wood fell back on the ground with a dull clud.
I haven’t spoken to K- in years, so conversation with her seemed a little awkward and polite. In retrospect, I would have been more at peace with things if it had remained that way. Unfortunately, she decided to throw me a metaphoric ‘curve ball’ by bringing up the matter of my first P.C. Her tone was frosty and she mentioned that she was annoyed because bailiffs had come round to collect some outstanding sum remaining from the original credit agreement. I was utterly vexed by this, how many years had it been since I’d paid them back for the computer? I pointed this reasoning out to her with an additional comment along the lines of “ I gave you all the money back that I owed you, if you chose not to pay the store back the money for the computer, that’s hardly my problem.” Which was a fair point.
She didn’t like this and decided to verbally explode on me. This is how I remember her in parts, perhaps the reason I lost the inclination to remain in touch. My ability to be shocked by other people’s inability to control their tempers is no longer inside me. I stood unmoved by her tirade against me and found myself coldly observing the woman in front of me. I then picked up the tin of flying paint in one hand, magically snatched an old rustic broomstick out of thin air with the other hand and said “Here! You might as well paint this and get on it , it will fucking suit you!”
I remained a little tense as the entire scene including the Reading Rooms, the can of flying paint and my angry would’ve-been step-mother zoomed off to the left in a blur of shifting reality and a new scene came barging in to replace it.
I now stood before the stage of an outdoor theatre. My hand was no longer clutching a broomstick in an aggressive manner, instead I was holding a theatre programme which quickly brought me up to speed with my new environment. I was about to watch a performance from the “Travelling Zombie Theatre Group” and their rendition of ‘Dawn of the Living’. This would be interesting…
Here’s what I recall about the general plot details; everyone in the world was a Zombie. Everybody had been Zombies for so long, it was practically de rigueur mortis. Zombies went about their plodding daily routines, filling the streets, moaning and groaning, running around and scaring rodents, just doing the things that Zombies do. Then I recall a scene where a moaning, mumbling, middle-aged man Zombie paused in his slouch and raised his head to look at the sluggish, teenage boy Zombie staggering towards him. The middle aged Zombie had a glimmer of recognition in its eye and he murmured “Sonnnnn ?!” the teenage zombie boy slowly looked up and replied “Daaaaaad?!” Then in a stinky, rotting, slushy moment that even a dead Spielberg would be proud of, the two Zombies collapsed into each other’s arms in a putrid warm embrace.
I was so absorbed by this unfolding melodrama; I completely forgot that I was an audience member. How terrifying for the Zombies though! A viral infection of humanity and compassion spreading from corpse to corpse, bringing everybody to life!
Shifts occur out of the blue during my travels in places, I generally have no warning that one is coming and I’m an adaptable personality type so I tend to just ‘go with the flow’ of anything that happens next. Sometimes a shift will bring me into the peripheral edge of another place or plane of existence, for reasons that are never completely clear to me, I can be somewhere and simultaneously NOT be somewhere at the same time. To illustrate this more clearly to you, you need to imagine yourself as a ghost in your own life. Imagine being completely immersed in your world but incapable of fully interacting with your environment, you cannot communicate, you cannot influence any aspects of a scene … not really a great deal of difference to say, ‘watching the telly’.
After the Zombie theatre group’s rousing play, I briefly became a disembodied observer in a bank somewhere in a future world. I saw a couple of business women dressed in ugly crisp suits walk into their personal bank vaults that resembled mini-van sized, steel hazel nuts with heavy circular doors marking their entrances. Because I was there but not there, I really felt no resonance with this brief scene. I suspect that this alone was my reason for quickly shifting again and finding my next port of call, the familiar and seemingly predictable world of our own space time continuum.