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You know there is a nagging sad paranoia related with the way I have and continue to live my life.

And despite the astral logic of the feared outcome, it still occasionally slivers up my spine like an icy sea serpent, still wet from the frozen lake that might have spawned it.

I recall a distant time when I was about 21, I had moved to Folkestone and inhabited one of the tall, picturesque blocks of townhouses that crouch high on the cliff, staring down blindly onto the beach and fairground far below through a hundred net curtained window eyes.

I lived in a room with no carpet, no furniture, an abundance of nocturnal rodents and a tiny window, that looked out onto an overgrown graveyard that backed onto the block, and the town beyond that. It was right at the top of the house and often felt like living a measly Dickensian existence in a crows nest, with the world far, far below me.

 

In reality, below me lived a strange little man called Mr Ebbs. A man who looked the spitting image of one of the characters from The Riddlers kids TV show, but with a wild shock of iron grey hair and a chin always covered in white stubble. Given that we spoke only really, in passing, it still surprises me that he still intrigues me and has affected my writing ever since.

We used to meet in the kitchen where I might be cooking stolen corned beef and sliced potatoes, while he would always be cooking thick wads of bacon for sandwiches that dripped tomato sauce onto the only plate he seemed to possess, with its quaint pattern of blue willows and tiny oriental figures.

I once caught a glimpse of his room, which was merely a bare narrow space, with just enough room for a single bed, and box after box of magazines and books.

I imagined him as an old intellectual, a retired academic fortune-hunter, living his elder days surrounded by the words that had brought him such joy throughout his younger years.

I still wonder what happened to him after we were forced to leave after our landlord died in the arms of his mistress in the ground floor flat. But the fear I had, and that I have for myself, is that he died alone, in a room, his passing only being discovered due to the smell of his corpse, or the attentions of a friendly neighbour.

Who sent word that he had passed away, if there was anyone? How could that sad discovery lead to those that might have meant something to the old man, being informed of his death, or was it just written off as another lonely death? (Top be honest, on recollection, I doubt he died lonely. There was a quiet confidence about Mr Ebbs. Something that made me think he was never alone really.)

I often wonder if that might be my fate, to be found alone, rotten and cold, surrounded by the remnants of life that had so fulfilled, inspired and entertained me.

This is the risk of living alone without regular contact with others, as I seem to have chosen for myself. Oh, I have friends and loved ones, but they are not here. I could have a heart attack and no one would be there to help me or call for help. In the past this has been a poignant situation when I have taken ill, and I became acutely aware that I was all I had. Such isolation and independence is admirable, but has a fearful legacy attached to it like a dark greedy remora.

The irony is that I will not be there to care.

It is the living that worry about such things.

How you imagine others might see your death, whether or not is was with grace or dignity. We want our loved ones to know, though this does strike me as selfish. Why should others suffer as a result of the circumstances of our own deaths? What is the difference between dying in a car crash or from some ghastly disease, when compared to some lonely passing, bereft of someone to mourn us at that moment.

In the end you’re dead.

You have moved on, leaving that present reality far behind you, a fleeting memory, so invested in at the time, yet so easy to forgotten once the gates of beyond have opened and you take that fearless first step on the road before you.

In the end, there is no profound truth beyond this.

You should only ever be concerned with living with dignity, because there is no dignity in death.

The soul doesn’t give a rat’s arse about how it finally became free to move on, or what others thought about this end. It only knows that it is at last…..free.

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