Dear Elsie, I need to tell you why I wanted to live. As 1951 surrenders to the first breath of 1952, these are the only words Albert Burton can summon. He sits hunched at his kitchen table, spelling truths for his wife with a near-invisible hand. How he is able to grip the pen, to touch it to the paper, he does not understand ... Because Albert has been dead for exactly seven days.
At the edge of a ploughed field sits a burned-out Smart car. Its squat dimensions make it appear as if compacted in a Thames Estuary wrecker’s yard, prior to being set alight. The carcinogenic hulk against a pastoral backdrop is a particularly Essexian sight, as is the detritus scattered around it: a chalky, transparent baggie and a discarded Durex packet — Es and sex.
Why did I want a child? I just did. My cells did. Like the writer Maggie Nelson says, “the muteness of the desire stood in inverse proportion to its size”. For all my concern about bringing another carbon footprint into the world, I couldn’t hush the yearning. It was my sehnsucht, as the Germans would say, my life-longing.
In this age of paradox around disability, how do disabled people juggle their internal desires for love, affection and yes, even sex, with external perceptions of desirability that actively ignore their existence and have remained unchanged for decades?
November 29th Pulse: frenetic Hair: resolutely static Unclear how body is capable of sustaining both states. Suspect insidious damage. Nevertheless, symptoms frustratingly slight and socially invisible. A has a story that she tells about heartbreak. It’s not a story, actually.
When she saw him, her heart did all the things a heart must do: it swelled, it leapt, it skipped a beat. She crossed without looking left or right and stopped directly under the ladder – because, of course, it had already happened to them both. The terrible luck.
Mind Old Ginger the gamekeeper. Myths abound where he’s concerned. Famous through the Borderlands, was Old Ginger; a legend to some, a purpling, heather-lurking menace to many more. Pheasants and pleasant folk stopping in their weekend homes feared him equally, as well they should have. For the wee man wasn’t entirely right.
In the spring of 1980, when I was three years old, my father took me to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Our family would be moving to Canada later that year, and my dad wanted my first baseball game to be a Cubs game in Chicago at Wrigley, not a Blue Jays game in Toronto at Exhibition Stadium.