Monday, September 25, 2017


Some days I feel like I cannot cope. I am dealing with too much. Other days I feel like I am coping with nothing at all and my life has stopped dead in its tracks.

Grief is the feeling of sadness you have for things you cannot change. When someone dies, you feel grief because the end of their life takes away every moment they and you might have shared. A colour is taken off the palette of your life.

I am grieving for so much it is sometimes nearly unbearable. I am grieving for the beautiful woman I loved but was a creation entirely of my own desire. Sometimes I am like my dad, denying she is really dead, but she is. She is gone like dust on the wind. All there is left is a hard woman who doesn't know me, doesn't want to know me.

I grieve for my children, for Miggins whom I will probably never be permitted to father, whom I ache for, whom I can barely think about for the pain it brings me. And that grief is made so much worse by Ally's desire to hurt me, to pile pain on me.

And I do ask whether I deserved it. I can't think I did. It is not my fault that she didn't care about me, that she only cared about what money I represented, the good times I could give her, satisfying her needs and when I needed something back, well, that isn't what she signed up for.

I grieve for my other children. Not just for the people they are, barely part of my life, but for the people they will be, ever more distant from me.

But I grieve more for myself, for what paltry dreams I had, for a boy who had hopes, however unformed, for the possible lives I have not lived. Sometimes when someone dies, they say to you, I don't understand why she had to die. That is the hardest part. I do not understand why I had to be lonely. It doesn't have a reason. You can say that when someone is dead. There is no reason. It just is.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Time past

BC and AD seem at first glance confusing, because there's no "Year Zero", you go from AD1 from 1BC without stopping anywhere that's neither. But there is a Point Zero and it's the only one in history as we reckon it. Or is it?

Two things we need to be clear on to begin with. First, what does a clock tell you? What is 3pm? 3pm is "three hours after midday". So 3:00 is the end of the third hour. Because it begins with a 3, it would be easy to confuse it for the first moment of the fourth hour. But it isn't. It's the end of the third.

The other is that Jesus can be thought of as having an "official birthday". The queen of England was actually born on 21 April at some hour in that day. But she has an official birthday, on which we are bid to celebrate her, on usually the second Saturday in June.

And we all understand the concept that our birthdays begin at some point around 00:00:01 (I'll come back to that) on the anniversary of our day of birth, regardless when we were actually born. I was born at 9:30pm but like everybody, I start to be a year older after midnight on 11 October.

So Jesus was born a few years BC, according to the story. But his "official birthday" is Point Zero.

Now, think about my birthday. When does it actually begin? It cannot be midnight because that belongs to October 10. It cannot be 00:01 because it has already existed for a minute. It can't be 00:00:01 because it has already existed for a second.

So when we reckon the beginning of my birthday we enter a Zeno's paradox. No matter how close we approach the beginning it has still already begun. We can get as close as the Planck length to midnight and we still haven't quite reached its beginning.

So in fact the start of my birthday, and yours, and the queen's, and in fact Jesus', must be considered an abstract that is neither within yesterday nor within today. It is the very moment the clock ticks past midnight but that moment does not have any physical reality.

AD and BC work in exactly the same way.

AD1 is the year after Jesus was "born". 1BC is the year before. There cannot be an actual 0BC or AD0 because the Zero is entirely abstract. So BC becomes AD in exactly the same way that yesterday becomes today.

But why isn't AD1 AD0? After all, no years have passed, right? It should match a clock, where the time it tells is how much is passed. Or 0BC?

Well, it would be rational, of course. But we don't measure years in that way and never have. We label which year it is, not which year it has been, whereas we label which hour has passed. You can consider it "illogical" that the two systems don't work the same way but it isn't. Both are perfectly logical. They're just different. You put yourself in the position of arguing that English is correct and French is wrong, which is understandable to believe, but of course nonsensical.

So in fact, today is the 23rd day of the ninth month in the 2017th year after the official birthday of Jesus. But the time now is 11 hours have past and 21 minutes. But if we measured it in the same way we do years, we should say it is 11:22 or 12:22 or...

Friday, September 22, 2017

A dog's life

In the middle of next month, I go for mediation over my child Miggins. Ally has refused to discuss her, saying leave it to the mediation. It's obvious why. She knows I will be anxious and unhappy at the idea of a public rehearsal of our woes and she expects me to get frustrated and give her an excuse to "storm out" (it's on the phone so storming out is going to be hard) in tears. I wish it wasn't like that but that's who she is.

Why do I say that? How come I can think the woman I loved (and love) so much could be so cynical? I spend a lot of time telling people who think it's really obvious that she's just a bad actor that I don't believe it, but when it comes down to it, I think I have to. Here's a reason.

I'm fond of animals. And particularly dogs. They just do everything right. One way Ally stoked anger at Fatboy was to talk about how he'd hit one of their dogs, let's call him B. He'd beaten the dog to a whimper. And I'm old school. I think if you hurt a dog, you'll hurt a kid.

So B kept escaping from Fatboy's yard, so we took him. He was a character, a bit soft in the head, not housetrained, and he'd bark at "ghosts" all day. But I loved him. Ally also took E, their other dog, who had begun escaping from the yard. We feared for his wellbeing.

It greatly upset her estranged daughter and Fatboy tried to tie E into the court case that we settled with him. He said give back E or I won't bring C to counselling. As it turns out, in the time I was with Ally, he didn't bring her to counselling regardless what he promised. Anyway, Ally kept E.

She didn't do much to look after them. When she was pregnant she couldn't. I walked them. I cleared up the dogs hit they left in the yard -- a lot, because they wouldn't drop one on a walk.

When the time came for Ally to run off to the circu-- oh I mean, dump me and leave me so encumbered with debt and sickness that it was impossible for me to even live in Australia, she had to do something about the dogs. Most rentals in Australia won't let you keep pets.

So what you're thinking is that we had a sitdown as a family and discussed the dogs, perhaps she asked a family member to take them. Right?

Wrong. Even though I looked after the dogs, they were her dogs. I didn't get to be any part of the decisions about them. She decided B's "possible brain tumour" was a death sentence and had him killed. She handed E back to Fatboy. Her desire to punish him was satisfied. She had a new man to punish and a new weapon to use. She couldn't hand them to a family member. She's estranged everybody in her family and everyone she's ever had a relationship with. At least I still talk to my sisters!

So I know what Ally has done. Tiggy is her daughter. She doesn't see any reason to ask my opinion about her and the problem for her is how she can manoeuvre the world into agreeing with her. When I reflect on our life together, that's how she was in everything. This won't be any different.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Semicolonic irrigation

A question often posed by writers is “When should I use semicolons?” The short answer is, Never. Semicolons are most commonly used, wrongly, to introduce lists, definitions and explanations, where the writer should have used a colon. For example:

There are two exceptions to the rule never to use a semicolon: one you must use and one you ought often to avoid if you can.

The first use is simple enough but often abused. In lists, we use a semicolon to separate elements that include commas. You usually use a comma to separate the elements in a list: fish, chips, peas and ketchup (add a comma before the “and” if you are American). But in more complex lists, only a semicolon will do: fish, chips, peas and ketchup; curry and rice; and bananas, apples and carrots. Here, using only commas would create a nightmare of ambiguity, and we don’t want that. However, two things you should avoid: don’t use semicolons when you can just use commas, that is, when the items are not complex; don’t use them when you write your list in bullets or numbered. The latter is common but these days we don’t bother with punctuation in lists because it’s ugly.

The second use puts you in peril of one of writing’s worst crimes: the comma splice. So take care. It’s to divide clauses in a sentence where a comma would be too light. I used one in a sentence in the previous paragraph, where the two clauses form a sort of list, but usually a semicolon separates ideas that are in contrast or complement:

They go high; we go low.
I like her; she hates me.

Now these are at best borderline in today’s English. Close to a comma splice, which is where independent clauses are mistakenly joined with a comma, where you should have used a full stop. For example:

I ran down the road, he saw me and waved.


Remember though that you can join clauses with a comma when the first depends on the second. So this is fine:

When I ran down the road, he saw me and waved.

If you want to get technical, you use a comma because you fronted an adverbial phrase. We’ll talk more about fronting phrases when we look at commas.

Don’t use a semicolon in that instance. People do and it’s always wrong to. Don’t get confused with something like this, which is perfectly fine:

He saw me three times: when I ran down the road; when I swam in the river; when I jumped off the cliff.

You can add an “and” into the last element if you like; in fact, this is one of the few instances when even someone who eschews the Oxford comma might prefer to retain the semicolon. It’s not ambiguous if you take the semicolon out and add “and” but it’s what you might call a “stumble point”. You don’t want a reader to have to look twice at your writing. They should always be able to read through without stumbling over your words (unless they lack vocabulary or you have written something genuinely difficult technically).

Friday, September 01, 2017

Broken lives

M was a beautiful boy, a cheeky smile on legs. I remember picking him up from school when he shit his pants. I helped him get through that. I always had a cuddle for him. I loved him.

I did my best for M and for L, his brother, even though L was a difficult boy. They needed a dad because their dad wasn't in the picture and their mum was, if we're fair, crackers. This is a woman who once ran into my car and said she did it because she was "too mad to steer".

I loved those boys. They felt like mine. I have not seen them for years.

G was a beautiful girl. a cheeky smile on legs. I remember helping her when a bigger boy at school bullied her. I went to his mum and sorted it out. She was clumsy and upset the other kids when she carried on but I talked to them and made them see she was a good kid. I loved her and I also loved T, her sister, a quiet girl who ran deep. They needed a dad they weren't scared of and I was that guy. Their mum was under pressure and would sometimes find them hard to handle but she was never too far out of line but once or twice.

I loved those girls. They felt like mine. I have not seen them for months.

A is a beautiful girl. I don't really know what she is like. I remember holding her and she barely knew whether she should smile or cry. I remember when I did know her well I could delight her with a smile or a silly noise but kids grow out of that. She needs a dad and I'm him.

I love that girl. I can only fight for one. The worst thing about this age is you make relationships with women but also with their kids. You grow to love them and then their mothers break your life apart and they never seem to care about the kids.

You think I don't fucking care? Seriously? I think all the time about you and do you ever think of me at all and how it might feel?

These women. They have friends to tell them how great they are but I'm not a monster. I didn't hurt anybody. I did my best. I loved M's mum and tried to help her. I loved T's mum and tried to carry her. I didn't do a thing to them that I feel ashamed of. I didn't do a thing that I don't feel I could answer for.

And when they answer for it, they have to lie. I don't. I never will have to. Cold comfort. But when I end up on the phone to a Brisbane judge, I won't have to lie. And A will know, one way or another, she did have the dad that the others lacked. She had him right here.

Abandon all hope

I cannot help crying when I watch the Time Traveler's Wife because first I think, why can't I have that? and then I think, well maybe I did, and then I think, the way things are, am I only fooling myself? What if she really is what she seems to be? Won't a time come when you'll have to pay what she's asking? And I'm like, how can I ever become someone who gives up on love? I am here, completely alone, so lonely and abandoned and sad, all I have is I believe in love.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

All in red

You could hardly walk, you stumbled and we laughed, in your beautiful fuck-me heels, you were so lovely, all in red, you had chosen it with Nathan and I was gauche and ugly in all black and I loved you then so much so much I could almost forget that morning your eldest girl left you and didn't come back.

God I loved you you expect that to vanish? I don't even know why you hate me, maybe just because I'm the kind of guy who hurts you enough and still doesn't know he hurt you enough, maybe just because you are wired that way and do you know I would do anything I could for you? Do you know that and do you know I fear you do and you just don't feel there's anything I can do?

Baby don't hurt us any more, I want to tell you, I have been hurt so badly and will you now make it worse? I wish I could get through to you and let you know the last thing I want is to make things worse for you, yet they're going to, they're going to and you will hate me even more and I will still love you. I am doomed to love you. I am cursed to love you.

Copy this and show it to the judge, show it to any judge, copy it and let him know I am crazy about you and I don't understand why we have to fight, copy it and let him know I would do anything else I could.

I got broken I know it you didn't want broken, you didn't want a useless man you had to carry but I only needed carrying a brief while and piece by piece I become again the man I was, for better or worse, the man I was on the day we married and I still love you Alison just the same I don't know how to stop don't make it worth nothing but fuel for hatred don't make the day we danced and sang in a field and made the child that said I love you and you love me the cause of everything wrong about us.

Reach out to me and touch my hand. Reach out, beloved, and touch me. Reach out and whisper, whisper, whisper. I didn't vanish. We didn't end. Don't let it be true that we did.