RESURRECTION by Barrie Purnell

RESURRECTION by Barrie Purnell

 When I fell in love with her beauty

We were young, naïve and free

We were so close there was no air between us

I was her and she became me

It was for her that I had been waiting

It was for her that my body yearned

But she told me she gave away nothing

Any favours would have to be earned

 

But she quickly overcame my defenses

She had developed love to an art

Before I knew it she had me surrounded

And had slipped past the guards to my heart

She carried me away with her dancing

To a place where I’d never been

She transported me with her love songs

To places I’d never seen

 

Expecting nothing from all our devotions

Caring not for who it was on the cross

We weren’t looking out for a saviour

To the priest we were already lost

We were drowning in oceans of kisses

Bathing in lakes of freshly shed tears

The smell of her skin stupefied me

Her arms held the noose tight on my fears

 

I surfed on the waves of her ardour

I was helpless she gave me no choice

She beguiled me and hypnotized me

With the tilt of her nose and the lilt in her voice

We thought that we’d be together forever

But at the bank of love our balance was low

We knew you have to give back what you’ve taken

You have to pay all the debts that you owe

 

Yes real life intruded into our passion

There were decisions which had to be made

We’d exhausted our credit with Eros

The piper had to be paid

She said she’d become a jet setting model

On the catwalks of Rome and Berlin

And I would be an industrial chemist

Making drugs that kept models thin

 

 Our affair never overcame separation

Our passion soon cooled and was spent

Addresses were lost or forgotten

The promised letters never were sent

We lost touch and found other lovers

Then by chance our paths crossed again

It was at a charity event that I saw her

Surrounded by urbane looking men

 

I wondered if she would remember

Or act as if we’d never met

I’d be hurt if she had forgotten

Was I that easy for her to forget?

I slid into the sphere of her vision

Did she find fortune and fame?

With relief I saw her smile at me

It was a sad smile just the same

 

We talked of our past infatuation

And the journeys we’d taken since then

But we were now both different people

That love was something we’d never regain

We breathed the same air at that moment

But we were no longer as one

Even when her arms were around me

The closeness we had once was gone

 

When I saw that the party was ending

I couldn’t let that be the end of the line

I offered to deputise for her taxi

To be with her for just one last time

She lived in a posh part of Cheshire

At number six Montgomery Drive

As we approached I could see that the houses

Were designed to impress those who arrive

 

I stopped at her gates and turning to me

She said I’ll e-mail you sometime next week

We’ll arrange to have lunch together

Her lips brushed a kiss on my cheek

But I knew that this wouldn’t happen

Our worlds had moved too far apart

I could see that despite her affection

There was no room for me in her heart

 

She may not have become a model

But achieved the lifestyle just as well

Sashaying up her catwalk of a driveway

In her little black dress by Chanel

I watched as she disappeared through her doorway

I hoped she’d turn round for my pride

But she went in without glancing backward

The gates closed with me still outside

 

Did I see her steal a look out the window?

In my mind I’ll pretend that she did

But in my mind I know that it’s over

In love’s gamble I had been outbid

I pushed her into the recess of remembrance

Where she’d lived for decades before

Her ghost had been finally exorcised

I didn’t need her love in my life anymore

 

But I hope sometimes she thinks of me fondly

Of promises made when we were young

And when she’s lonely and searching for someone

It will be my name on the tip of her tongue

She’ll never know how much I missed her embraces

How she hid in my heart all this time

How I remembered the way that she loved me

Because she will never be reading this rhyme

 

Your first love may always be special

But remember looking back it’s always the same

You only remember the good times

Forgetting all of the hurt and the pain

To avoid rejection and aching disappointment

Just remember your first love with affection

Don’t try breathing life into dead lovers

You will very rarely achieve resurrection

AGE by Barrie Purnell

                       AGE by Barrie Purnell

 When I was young I was immortal and invincible

                                       The whole world was mine

The future a blank canvas on which all my

                             Dreams could be defined

I ran laughing through the storms the raindrops

                     Sparkled like diamonds on my jeans

The sun was hot, the winds were warm and snow was fun

                                                         When I was in my teens

New paths were there to walk along when I was young

 

Life was carefree and school just an annoying interlude

                                                         Between long holidays

I was forming lifelong friendships before we all went

                                                         Our separate ways

It was the fifties, teddy boys and rock and roll with the

                                                     Emergence of the teens

I wore a jay blue drape coat and crepe soled shoes, my hair

                                                               Coiffed with brilliantine

Beat poets were on my tongue when I was young

 

Riding my Triumph Thunderbird down country lanes

                                                         Risking life and limb

A leather jacketed Gene Vincent look alike just

                                                  Wishing I was him

My first real love affair was with Patsy I carved her

                                                         Name into a tree

She was the village beauty and I felt so good when she

                                        Walked hand in hand with me

There were love songs to be sung when I was young

 

In my youth I listened to those protest songs about

                                             Race and power and war

I was full of idealistic notions of how they had

                                             Got it wrong before

In my naivety I thought that maybe we could

                                 Change the world at large

Not realizing we could not reach the faceless

                                                      Men in charge

Tears were shed and hands were wrung when I was young

 

Student life was a great time for me just parties

                                             Interrupted by exams

And trying to understand thermodynamics and its

                                                         Baffling diagrams

This was a time for love a time for dreams it was

                                                     Youth’s curtain call

Ambition had yet to show its ugly face inside our

                                               Cloistered college halls

Life was just so much fun when I as young

 

Now I am old the future is uncertain and my time

                                           Remaining has decreased

My dreams are now of past adventures my personal

                                                       Inertia has increased

Now the sun’s too hot the wind’s too strong snows just

                                           Another cross that’s to be born

And storms just get me wet and means a raincoat

                                     And gumboots must be worn

I am always too hot or much too cold now I am old

 

Now I am old time is passing much more quickly than

                                                    It did when I was young

Those lifelong friendships are now sadly ending with

                                                       Requiems being sung

I look back on all those youthful dreams I had that

                                                        Remain unfulfilled

And look around my empty house into which my whole

                                                           Life has been distilled

I remember all those principles I sold now I am old

 

I return to the village of my youth to see Patsy’s’

                                               Name still on the tree

But try as I might I can’t recall her face and that

                                             Somehow saddens me

That canvas on which my dreams were painted is now

                                                         Just in shades of grey

When young I never thought I would ever be as old

                                                                   As I am today

That is how it is I’m told when you are old

 

With age has come perspective on the idealism

                                                               Of my youth

Replaced with scepticism of those beliefs peddled

                                                             To me as truth

I realise power and money come out the winner

                                                 In life’s murky game

And looking back in history we see it has

                               Always been the same

I see world problems just get retold now I am old

 

Now I have time to think about all the things that

                                                   I have said and done

All the battles that I have lost and all the races

                                                     That I have won

All those greasy career ladders I tried so very

                                                       Hard to climb

I see were of no consequence at all viewed through

                                                 The telescope of time

I have so few of life’s pages to unfold now I am old

                       

On Wood Street by Kevin Murphy (Edit after comments)

Here is an update of a story I put up for comment a couple of months ago (Scroll down to see it). Thank you for comments, both here and in the workshop. Based on the comments, I have edited it:

  • I have added more context – particularly the opening paragraphs.

  • I have got rid of the more intrusive (brackets) to improve flow

  • I have not changed the Accented speech

  • I hope the improvements make it more of a stand alone short story

On Wood Street by Kevin Murphy
I took a final look back across the cemetery to the monastery where I had spent the most momentous year of my life so far. The golden stone, glowed as the sun shot under the deep navy storm clouds gathering over it. I was to turn and walk away into the sun. I hoped that would be a portent for good.
Three months previously I had given up a life I loved, for a love-life. I had divested the habit of Brother Bernard, Franciscan Friar, and at nineteen years old, I was going to test whether choosing a life as a celibate eight years previously, was an informed choice. I was leaving my old school friend in the arms of Saint Francis, but under that cloud, freshly and happily professed as Brother Nicholas.
I had returned to my home and family those three months prior, and that was a ‘climatisation’ period. I got a job at the tax office – now as an adult after several stints there as ‘holiday job’. My Dad took me drinking at the Liberal Club. My sisters and their friends had taken me to several clubs, pubs, discos and bars. I had registered at the ‘Tech’ to do my ‘A’ Levels.
The ‘decompression chamber’ of this acclimatisation was ‘The Rowing Club’, the old wooden one, now a Disco coining money to pay for the new brick one. This was a shack, done-out with fishing net and lit only by ultra-violet and the light from the bar – very cosy. I went three times a week for three months. I sat. I watched. I only got up off my seat to get to the bar and move to a different vantage point.
What I was trying to figure out, was what I later christened “The Courting Code”. My sisters had assiduously coached me at length how to ‘get off with girls’, and what to do with them when I did, but it seemed to me that the code was beyond describing with words. A ‘code’ is obviously a language, but it soon became apparent that, like ‘body language’, there was a lot more than words and movement in “The Courting Code”. When one sister was trying to tell me an aspect, another would cut across and give it a different flavour … ingredient … spice. How had they learnt it? I was the eldest of us, and I just knew that what they were telling me was little more than playground lore. So where had I stopped learning it?
At eleven years old, on holiday at my Grandma’s in Bury, and in the grounds of the Methodist Church on Wood Street, I was the expert, teaching Jean how to do it.
“My Uncle ‘Bombed’ that Gasometer on his first leave from National Service”
“He never did – it’s still there!”
“No, Jean, I don’t mean really! He brought home some ‘Thunder-flashes’ from the Army – they’re great big bangers they use for pretending hand-grenades. He let one off over there at three in the morning, and all the old biddies were running out of their houses and having heart attacks and things. The police and fire brigade came and there was terrible trouble – in the Bury Times and everything.”
“What did they do to him – you can be hanged for treason, can’t you Kevin?”
“Don’t be daft…”
“You can tek yer ‘ands off me if your going to shout!”
I jumped back, put my hands in prayer and put on my best injured-puppy look. “Sorry Honey!”
This was in the Summer of ‘59 – TV was in its American B movies phase. Our whole family was reaching the end of my Dad’s first exasperation with television. Exasperated, because my mum, my sisters and me, we could not resist the novelty of the box. He had only once found the money to take us to the Flicks – to see Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid”. It was like going to another City. Up Headington Hill from Oxford to see it at the Moulin Rouge – what would now pass as an Art House, but was then the area’s cheapest flea-pit.
But my Grandma had a Telly!
Every afternoon they showed B movies on the Telly. These were real B Movies, remember, the crap ones you had to sit through at the Flicks before you could watch what you actually paid to see! War and Cowboys – I loved all the bombing and hiding.
Jean and I were hiding from the bombs.
In the churchyard on Wood Street.
I had to keep leaving her on a railway platform and doing that screen kiss. I showed her: “I put my right arm round your neck,” (She let me!) “and you put yours round mine.” (She did.) “Now I put my left arm round your waist and you put yours round mine and we kiss” (Straight in!!!).
Now I hope your heart’s pounding, because mine is and this was fifty years ago – my first adult kiss – I was eleven, …and anyone who doesn’t believe me… It was real love. I felt the same passion – weak knees, aching heart, sweaty palms – as I did for any of my later loves – much later because Jean was my last love for half a lifetime.
“Mmw … hold on, Jean, now we’ve got to do like the films – I’m so tall…” and we fall apart, laughing.
“You, yer lickle squirt. I only love you ‘cos yer lickle”
She loves me! I know! I stagger about and fall and do one of those deaths the same stunt-man does in “Boots and Saddles” every week – last week he was an Indian; the week before a Cowboy – anyone can die – well not everyone – but he’s the specialist, probably gets a bit of bonus! Here’s what you do: from your haunches, you break cover – stupid ‘cos you’re bound to get shot, but you’re mad at “them Injuns”, or “them Palefaces”, or “dem Gringos”, or “low-down-bums”. You stand up ‘n shoot the varmints, but they get you. You throw your arms up and away with your Winchester/ Bow/ Bluntline Special, (that’s so’s you don’t fall on it during the next bit) …then you do a Roly-poly down a hill, or roof, or hay-stack. But the Methodists’ didn’t have much call for haystacks, so I dived in the Elderberry Bush.
“Are you alright, Kevin?
You can’t flamin’ cry when yer with yer gal. “Aah! A stick got me right in the eye!”
“Ohhh. Let mi luke” (My mother’s accent!) – she holds my head; she can’t see my eyes for the hand that’s over them – the other’s on my side where I really hurt myself. She wraps her arms round my head and clasps me to her bosom – that she hasn’t got yet – but it was as real as any woman who did.
She kisses my head: “It were a lovely dive!”
“Were it… was it? Was it as good as Boots ‘n’ Saddles?”
“Eeh, I don’t know – that’s bye’s stuff”
I shove her up, wounds healed, and charge out of the gate and turn, arms out, Dam-Buster style, and fly back right up to her, nose-to-nose and freeze.
That smell – I’ll never forget it – well I don’t think I have – I went in a Children’s Home once and thought of her – no, not piddle – a sort of unscented cleanliness. Was it Lifebouy, and Tide or Omo? I wouldn’t know – we always had Palmolive and Persil – no carpets, like!
I could have stayed forever, and so could she – we were as one.
“OK, we put our arms….”
“Shush! There’s Nigel!”
Nigel! What a name for the Cock o’t’Walk. But he was! He beat me for Jean. I had asked her to be my girlfriend – it was the dead straight hair with perfect auburn fringe that did it. She had nice teeth, too. Now I know there was a lot more, too -maybe genetically programmed code. She had accepted, but her alleged boyfriend hadn’t. (He alleged  – she sort of shrugged, embarrassed. Looking back – she had to live there – I was probably only a holiday romance.)
For the duel of fisticuffs we had agreed a time – two hours later; a place – The Mucklows, across the hedge from the tryst at the heart of this story; and a referee – a fat, spotty, but mature thirteen year-old.
Rubbing my hands on my T-shirt I took a look around and had had time to realise that we were standing just about where my Grandpa had had his Cobbler’s Cabin, in the years before I was seven and he’d died. Then Nigel grabbed my shirt and it was pulling, puffing and pushing each other for an hour or so it seemed – not a punch, not even a slap. Then he grabbed me round the neck and pushed my forehead into the ground and it was all over in a second – well two seconds.
“Give up?” he asked after an eternity.
I was quiet – choking back a tear from the stone piercing my forehead. I couldn’t move.
“Are y’ givin’ up?”
“Yeah!” I whimpered and he let me go and leapt up. The Ref held his arm aloft – the champion.
I accepted the decision in good faith. My Dad had taught me about the Queensbury rules, but even though Nigel broke them and cheated, I stuck by the Ref’s Decision. I gave Jean up for him and skulked away rubbing my forehead.
Jean mustn’t have been as feudal as me – she wasn’t having lads ‘feighting ower ‘er’. I wished she had said that before he ground my forehead into the grit. But maybe she wouldn’t have had me – a Southern Stranger and the smaller pugilist – if I hadn’t shown the desire to fight for her!
She swished her pony-tail “yewer a dirty cheat Nigel Hemshore. Push off up Back-Charles Street y’ugly mug.” This was very nasty – all the streets had a Back-Street, but this hinted at living down the back out where the Night-Shit-Shifters came – even though her mum’s and my Grandma’s had proper WCs for years by then!
He went in some shame and, strangely, the small audience shuffled off with him.
“He’s gone – carry on” and she just looked at me eyeball to eyeball. What a look – you know what I mean. If you don’t, put this down now, and go and fix a drain!
Firstly just a kiss – eyes closed, and lips too of course, forever. Then a breath -it’s a wonder we didn’t spifflicate.
Relax there’s no pressure. That was just the whole of my life rushing before my eyes – my love life, so far, that is – she’s right with me. I’m just back from bombing the Ruhr.
In the churchyard.
Beside Mucklows.
Next to the Gasometer.
On Wood Street.
In love.
“OK. We kiss, with our arms round each other, but then there’s the special bit they always do in the flicks – while we’re kissing, you have to reach up to me, the camera moves down from our lips, you move onto tip-toe and lift one leg … and freeze!” Delicious.
The love I felt for Jean … I wonder at my kids getting to 18 and not having had a heartbreak.
I loved Josephine Maloney at 5, Vivian Welsh at 8/9 (Unrequited) and Sonia Hartman at 10.
I loved Jean, really loved her, but I loved Jesus and the poor more. I gave her up on 31st August 1960. I cried myself to sleep on 30th. It was the night before returning home, when, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I cried out to the Father to take this cup from me – but only as he wished, not as I did. I was to forsake the love of a good woman for the love of all who asked in Christ’s name, in the life of a Friar.
The next day I set off for London and a life of celibacy. I stuck to it willingly all through puberty. It was such a conscious choice that at 18, when I took the Franciscan habit, I became Brother Bernard, taking the Saint of that name as my Patron, because the choice was hard for him too. Bernard – What a lad! He had founded the strictest Order in the Church – The silent Cistercians – St Bernard of Clairvaux – just the right patron for a man in my position – choosing to give up the love of a good woman. In the 1960s.
On his 31st of August, Bernard was riding beside a lake when he saw a beautiful girl.
“Phwoar” is the modern idiom for what he may have thought. Then he remembered he was supposed to be giving up such sentiments. He gingerly clambered up onto the saddle of his horse, and dived into the lake to calm his ardour. I needed a patron with such sense of humour!
My Romance had to last me. It did last me eight years. But it finished just two weeks after the fight.
And eight years later I was Brother Bernard.
There aren’t any lakes on Wood Street, and the inky Irwell in the fifties would have killed me in minutes.
Outside the Rowing Club, many a night before leaving for home, I stood alone, looking at the moon glittering on the Isis. I was not about to jump in to calm my ardour, but I was desperately seeking inspiration on cracking the Courting Code.

Please leave comments, either on this story as it now stands, or on the improvement to the original. K