Monday, 27 October 2014

My house ― part two

Hermann Hesse -The Glass Bead Game
Most of my stay in Oklahoma City was a later extension of my work at Pearl Cross, a west-end London antique shop specializing in jewellery, silver and clocks. I identified the family silver which was mostly the usual sorts of things, save for a little  waiter by Peter, Ann, and William Bateman of about 1800 which Mrs. Dolese allowed me to display in my bedroom. We went to an antique auction with one of the official restorers licensed to repair any damages to the porcelain swans given by Nixon to Mao Zedong. The man was amazing: he spotted a replaced arm on one porcelain figurine, the fact of which was hotly disputed by the auctioneer who dragged over an ultraviolet light to prove his point. Red-faced, he then dragged it away again when it justified the restorer's claim. I spotted a clock by Napoleon's clockmaker and advised bidding on it, but it was in a plain wooden case and my advice was ignored. It went for twenty dollars. I grumbled.

We went to a trade show in north Dallas, but there was a mix-up with my room reservation at the motel near the show (and no vacancies available anywhere nearby, either) so I had to "rough it" for one night in a sumptuous room at the Fairmont Hotel downtown. The room had a foyer displaying a huge bouquet of cut flowers. I had arranged to meet up with a musician acquaintance at a now-defunct club in Dallas called "Paul Revere's Spirit of '76". I think I made some joke about "the British are coming". Francis played the mellotron, and with the drummer on the kettle-drums, that night, the two of them did the theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was indistinguishable from the original. I think Francis had gone into serious debt to purchase that instrument. Earlier, in 1969, I was visiting a friend's place in the Hollywood Hills and he took me to his friend Paul Beaver's sound studio in LA to see the Moog and other equipment. The mellotron left all of that behind in the dust. I've known a lot of musicians, but I don't play anything, myself. I don't even sing (I tell people that is my gift to the world of music).

Among other memorable events in Oklahoma City, was meeting the part-time cleaning lady at the Dolese Mansion. She was a very old African-American woman, who walked with canes and had pure white hair. She had once been tossed around by a tornado and lived to tell about it. I think I recall the family saying that she had claimed to be seventy-five for as long as anyone could remember. Her mother had been a slave. She took no guff, but called me "Massa John" whenever she kicked me out my room to clean. I mentioned to people that I had never seen a tornado but would like to. They looked at me as if I was crazy. One night I got to hear a tornado go by. It had taken off the roof of a church two blocks away. They really do sound like a very loud freight train. I had opened my windows a crack, but I could still hear the glass straining against being pulled outward. I revised my opinions of tornadoes!

Some time before Christmas, the wife of a prominent and elderly lawyer was in the shop. To call her a "trophy wife" would be an understatement. She had eyes you could get lost in. I was showing her a Beswick tiger. She gazed into my own eyes and said "I like lean, hungry, things". I think I had to grab the counter for support. Some time later, I took the young kids of the family for a bike ride to the zoo. She happened to be there and walked over to say hello. Her husband, with his obviously-dyed black hair rushed over to join us as fast as his rickety legs could carry him. Young Patrick mimicked the attitude of some horned-creature, and it met his challenge by butting the fence. It was a fun day.

Having an English accent, I was quite a novelty down there and girls were always telling me to "say something". I went on a date one night, and the girl told me she had to stop somewhere before we went to dinner, and would I mind? I said "No problem". It was an evening service at her church. Now, if you are, or have ever been a twenty-three year old heterosexual male, you can imagine the sort of rethinking that went on in my head at that point. There was a jewellery store owner who spoke of hiring me. I told him that I thought it would be difficult for me to move down there. He said that his lawyers could take care of all of that for me and he spoke about getting me a house and a maid.

But I had been living an abandoned phase of my life and was starting to become sullen. After I had returned, in 1969, to Calgary from LA where I was being trained as a counsellor, a friend and I had spoken some words into Peter Lougheed's ear about the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. He had known nothing of it. We later spoke with his research assistant after Peter had invited us to Edmonton. He set to work, and it was repealed in the very same year I had left for Oklahoma City. I don't much like politicians, but Peter Lougheed is a glowing exception, and for many more reasons than just that one. Huge settlements were given and the province apologized to the victims. Incidentally, and many years later, one of its victims who knew me offered Carrie and I the job of ghost-writing her biography. She had a lot of money, but did not want to pay us. I gave her one of my looks and declined. UNESCO was founded with the belief in eugenics and a single world government. I don't much like UNESCO, and for many more reasons than just those. People can turn a blind eye to that which, otherwise, serves their personal interests. I don't much like cowards, either.

G. my good friend Monte's mother, phoned me at the house. "Are you ready to come home?", she said, as soon as I had picked up the phone. I arrived back in Calgary, checked into the Wales Hotel where Monte and his sister were also staying and then followed all manner of adventures for many years, some of which I cannot speak. At one point, I read Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game and something clicked in my unconscious. It was as if the secrets of the universe were open to me for a split second, but not long enough for me to understand. Later, I acquired another mentor and good friend, Bill Blackburn, a Yale graduate Ph.D., and he introduced me to the works of Joseph Campbell and to Colin Wilson's Outsider. Later, I found C. G. Jung, and it was after that when the first house dream occurred. We will get into those dreams, tomorrow.

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