Obedience and Revolt:
Mysterious roots of half a life
By Daniel O’Beeve
Edited and published by Dr Jim Byrne - Copyright (c) The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne,
Near the end of Chapter 10 of his (30-chapter) autobiographical novel, Daniel O’Beeve
writes these lines, about the beginning of his military service, at the age of nineteen years. He has just been pulled
off a bus by a sadistic sergeant, and he is now kneeling on the tarmac-coated parade-square, knees bleeding through his pearl-grey,
“As I knelt there on the hard tarmac, trying to recover
myself, I looked back in the direction in which the bus had come. The exit was at least a mile away; guarded by armed
men. Outside, there were three or four miles of rough, country roads back to Low Pittington, and then a further five
miles to Durham. But the truth is I was not planning to make a run for it. This place was well known to me. I
was symbolically back at the bottom of the stairs, laid over the piss-pot, winded, on my second birthday. Or was I,
once more, laid at the bottom of the kitchen steps, with concussion, at the age of seven; where my father had knocked me down?
Or perhaps I was laid across a desk in Mr O’Bombula’s class, at the age of ten years, and Mr McMurphy was lashing
my arse with his cane. I was back in my childhood, at the mercy of sadistic parents and teachers, and peers. If
I had heard of Freud’s concept of ‘repetition compulsion’ at that time, I would have recognized immediately
that that was where I was: repeating my childhood humiliation and abuse, just because humans are creatures of habit!”
Today (26th July 2015),
I (Jim Byrne) got this email from Daniel:
If I had more time and
energy, I might ask for a few more refinements of the final text; but overall, I am very happy with the way you have edited
and re-written it, and the way you have rearranged the running order of the content.
I am happy to see it in print in this as the final form!
I (Jim) was very pleased, as it has taken longer to get to the final edit than I had expected.
It has taken hundreds of hours.
Anyway, the next step is to send the final
draft to our proof-readers for a final check of the grammar and spelling.
can therefore confidently expect that it will be available at Amazon very soon!
I can’t wait.
Best wishes to all our readers,
Dr Jim Byrne, Editor and publisher of Daniel’s book
By Dr Jim Byrne
14th July 2015
Daniel O'Beeve's autobiographical novel, psychological thriller and analysis of a culture...
"Thanks for the advance copy. As I began to dip into its pages, at random, I had a real
sense that this is Kurt Vonnegue meeting Ursula Le Guin and Flan O'Brien, so they can collectively rewrite a case study drawn
up by Sigmund Freud, John Bowlby and Melanie Klein. But then I went back to the beginning and realized, all of this
has been written by one man. The man who lived through these amazing, bizzare experiences".
J.P., Wolverhampton, Novel Lover!
The final draft of this exciting new book has now been received by the editor, and we are working through the final
editing process as quickly as possible:
"I enjoyed the draft
copy enormously. It was like a cross between a Hercule Poirot mystery, a Graham Green thriller, and a Jungian analytical
psychology paper on dream analysis and the exploration of tensions between various archetypes: the little white goat; the
little blue bear; the little blue professor; the timid sheep; the tall lady; and others."
A.S., Manchester, Miner of Metaphors...
Watch this space…
Our publishing sensation of the decade:
The most complete psychological analysis of a family and its core tragedies; and the story of one man's struggle
to come into existence!
Revolt: The mysterious roots of half a life
Edited and published by Dr Jim Byrne
This book contains the most detailed and intricate psychoanalytic case
study of the twenty-first century: set in the form of an autobiographical novel.
It’s the story of one man’s life, from birth to the age of about 39 years: and it involves a couple
of dark and deep mysteries which need to be resolved.
his dysfunctional relationship with his mother;
- his schooling
(which is alternately vicious and hilarious!);
- his cultural
trans-migrations, which are painful, brave and dramatic;
his attempts to figure out how to relate to girls; to find love; to understand and master his sexuality;
- his relationships in general; his political ambitions; his career;
- and, initially, the family secret that shaped his childhood suffering;
- and, ultimately, the mysterious secret which has been the driving force of his family history
from the beginning: The Big Secret; the Tap Root of his life; and how it is resolved!
All of this is backed up with some background pre-history of his family and
tribe, and references to relevant psychological insights.
Also illustrated are:
the impact of family history on the attachment style, and the relationship possibilities, of individual children;
# the way physical and psychological cruelty runs down
the generations, within families and communities and schools;
and the way the potential of an individual is somehow miraculously conserved, through cruel years of environmental distortion,
waiting for the day when it can find a suitable environment in which to flower and flourish.
This book is a mystery story, with an unpredictable ending. It blends
memoir, science fiction, history, psychology, philosophy and a selection of classical literary allusions and references, all
rolled into one big, heroic journey which is destined to become a classic in its own right.
It should appeal to readers
who are interested in mystery dramas; clever detective work; psychological thrillers; family therapy and family history; heroic
journeys; cross-cultural travel; love relationships; adult sex-love difficulties and resolutions; great and small political
struggles; Irish mythology; cultural history of 1950s Ireland; cultural history of the UK in the 1960s-‘80s; (social)
science-fiction; an expose of basic military training in the UK; sanity and insanity; forgiveness and love; as well as the
tension between obedience and revolt.
Apart from the general
readers who will be drawn to many of these topics, this book should also appeal to counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists,
psychoanalysts, childhood development experts, moral philosophers and political theorists.
Nothing so intricate
and detailed as Daniel's story could ever be culled from the diaries or journals of a single individual. Indeed, it
did involve Daniel in four major writing challenges. He began by writing two stories:
Firstly: The memoir of the first eighteen years of his life; which is a 'true
fiction'; or, at least, 'a fictional truth'.
secondly: A biography of his life from the age of eighteen years to thirty-nine years: which is a heart-felt story. A 'valid
He then wove those two strands of story together, based upon clues and
hints and insights from some helpful elements of the best of British, American, French, Russian and general European literature,
from Cervantes to Donna Tartt, via Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Ursula Le Guin.
He then identified the gaps in his jig-saw story, and filled those holes with mainstream and cutting-edge
psychological theories and insights; plus fictionalized elements that are compatible with the overall shape and depth and
truth of the basic stories.
What emerges is a story –
an autobiographical novel – a psychological thriller - which entertains and instructs, informs and inspires, and illustrates
the power of narrative therapy: both written and read. It also charts the ‘learning by doing’ adventures
of a young man who has a defective map of the social world; and illustrates his indomitable spirit! His unwillingness
to give up. His determination to live more than half a life.
emotional punch of some sections of this book were so powerful they bowled me over; they brought tears to my eyes; while other
elements caused me moments of such intense elevation that I felt I was living at ten times my normal intensity.
This is a very enjoyable, instructive, social document of immense importance
for our futures – for all of us on this planet!
manuscript as a whole is still in the editing process; but we expect it to appear on Amazon in the summer of 2015.
This book will be available for
sale from this web page in just a few weeks.
Chapter 30 has
already been through preliminary editing. The entire manuscript is now being edited/polished for final publication.
Watch this space.
Dr Jim Byrne – 14th July 2015
Editor and publisher of Daniel’s work.
All of the material displayed on this page is subject to Copyright Law. No
part of this material may be used in any way without the explicit written permission of the copyright holders: Dr Jim Byrne
and the Institute for CENT.
"I was amazed by the richness of the story. The many strands of reality that have been woven together.
I loved Professor Valises . I wept for the little blue bear. And I could not
believe the tension involved in the Saravey Priests hauling the little white goat and the curious boy out into the desert
to sacrifice them to the God, Namti. My head is still spinning".
D.L., Bradford. Psychology fan.
are grateful to our readers for their feedback on this book. Please leave your comments in the box that follows:
Foreword - by Dr Jim Byrne
- Copyright (c) The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne
“Is life really just ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing’, as suggested by Shakespeare, in one of his darker moments? Or is it a glorious opportunity
to walk the bloody way of personal growth; to haul your burden towards the borders of sanity; and then to emerge in a golden
dawn of personal triumph, when you have finally faced down your last adversity?”
Willi-Sean Maguire. Irish Magus…
Daniel O’Beeve is a dramatically honest and brave man, as you will see when you
begin to read his life story. He has the extraordinary courage to tell the story of his highly dysfunctional life, without
hiding his weaknesses, his failings, his unattractive features – his foolishness, his ignorance, and his apparent lack
of courage. (It takes a lot of courage to admit to lack of courage!) It is a tribute to his generosity of spirit that
I found myself laughing heartily, or smiling happily, as often as I found myself racked by empathic concern for his suffering.
And I find his work at least as illuminating as it is affecting.
how he arrived in the small town of Alton Cross, in the High Peaks, in Derbyshire, during the heavy snowstorms of January
1979. He was just thirty-three years old; but he was totally burned out. Exhausted from fifteen years of stumbling
from one emotional crisis to another.
His six-year marriage was over;
his two-year affair was over; his overseas-career was over; he had lost the chance to be a father to twin girls. He
had spent the past two years using drugs to get him through his daily difficulties. And then there was the earlier seven
years of isolated loneliness and confusion to factor in.
Alton Cross was the
remote town where he would finally encounter his devils. This would be his final chance to face them down, before despair
He hated Alton Cross from the moment he arrived. He wrote
a song about it, and played it on his guitar:
valley is empty now. Nothing moves on the streets…”.
This is one of the strangest, most intimate, most moving and delightful autobiographical
novels I have ever read. It is a wonderful piece of psychological detective work: the resolution of at least one major
mystery. It is somewhat fictionalized, so it counts as a semi-autobiographical novel – but it feels as if the person
who wrote it lived every pain and joy on these pages.
I am proud to introduce
the writing of Daniel O’Beeve to the world, and convinced that this will become one of the great stories of post-post-modern
literature. Each time I read it, I see and hear it on the Hollywood screen that I carry in my head for that purpose!
I was delighted, some four years ago, to be chosen by Daniel O’Beeve to edit and publish
the story of his fascinating, difficult, challenging life. In particular, I was very happy that Daniel had been influenced
by some of my writings about my own childhood. This, he writes, encouraged him to take the bull by the horns, and to
face up to the highly dysfunctional family history which had distorted most of his life.
It has taken a long time to get the book to this stage.
Daniel was a product of inadequate parenting, in a culture which was deeply wounded by colonial
exploitation. By writing the story of his life, he hoped to dispel some of his demons; and also to help others to come to
terms with some quite common human problems and difficulties – especially problems to do with relationships and love;
and especially sex-love. In the process, he also reveals some highly comical and ludicrous elements of his family life,
his school experiences, and his wider experiences of the world.
The main reason
I admire Daniel so much is this: What he has written has such a raw honesty that it touches me deeply. And I know how
much courage it must have taken for him to admit some of these stories; to accept them as part of himself; even to acknowledge
them, in the privacy of his own mind. But because of his openness and honesty, he has also recorded a good number of
lighter moments, which are touching.
With every chapter that I have read, I
felt I had become a little wiser than before; a little more compassionate; a little more human.
Because this expanded story has more geographical locations and
institutions which could potentially help curious minds to guess Daniel’s identity, we agreed that I would rewrite some
of this expanded autobiographical novel, especially replacing the locations in which Daniel lived, and substituting some in
which I lived. I have also changed some of the ages and genders of some of his siblings to correspond to the pattern
in my own family. And some of his peer relationships have also been modified. This should ensure that Daniel’s
siblings and former colleagues will never be able to guess that they are reading the life of someone they know or knew very
well. And my own peers and relatives will know that none of this applies to them, because the overall shape of the story
is so different from what they know of their own lives.
I hope this book proves to be interesting and helpful for any individual who wonders about how their own childhood
experiences might have affected the shape of their adult personality and life circumstances; as well as professionals who
work with childhood trauma and psychological development. I also hope it serves as a model for others who want to follow
in Daniel’s brave footsteps in writing their own life story.
I hope it
teaches something about love; the trials and tribulations of learning how to love; and finding a compatible sex-love mate.
My final hope is that this book will help the world to understand the power of cognitive
emotive narrative therapy – the newest therapy which pioneers the digging up of childhood memories; acknowledging them
as our interpretive attempts to reconstruct what may or may not have happened to us in our journey towards autonomy and the
capacity to love; and then to let them go - like the returning of wild birds to the woods from which they were lovingly coaxed.
To let everything go back into the silent void from which we all, originally emerged.
To wrestle for a time with the war of words which is human culture, and then to let it go, totally!
To step into the eternal present like a flaming torch! Cleansed by fire; and love.
Dr Jim Byrne, Hebden Bridge, 23rd May 2015
Copyright (c) 2015, The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne
We are grateful to our readers for their feedback on this book. Please leave your comments
in the box that follows:
Chapter 1 - by Daniel O'Beeve...
Copyright (c) 2015, The Institute for CENT and Dr
By Daniel O’Beeve
Our lives begin in the womb; and our social
lives begin in the crib. No matter what our social class, race, gender or wider culture – we all begin as babies.
And in our early years, we are all vulnerable; at the mercy of others for care and protection; for love and attention.
“The brain of the foetus, the brain of the baby, are like putty in the hands of its surrounding environment:
highly impressionable. The brain of the new-born baby can be permanently or semi-permanently harmed by malnutrition,
stressful noise, lack of love and affection, too much handling, too little handling, rough handling, neglect, as well as other
forms of impoverishment and lack of nurturing. Early developmental deficits can take decades to correct; and sometimes
they are uncorrectable!”
Roots of all Suffering…
Because we all begin in the same condition of vulnerability, we should work hard to improve
the way in which every baby is raised and cared for. We must cherish every baby equally. And, just as we have
spent a few decades trying to correct some of the worst burdens afflicting girls and women, we should now turn some of our
attention to the dire condition of men on Earth.
The context of male liberation
In the beginning was the blank
page, suspended between us.
And the blank page called to me to act; to
speak; to make some kind of connection with you, the reader.
For the blankness
itself acts as a vacuum, which pulls adjacent ideas out of its surroundings and onto itself. The times in which we live
set the agenda for what must be said, and what must be written.
And so it came
to pass that I wrote down the story of half of my life, to offer to you, in the hope that it might make sense of some undigested
parts of your own life.
story looks at the life of one boy, who grows into a kind of hollow man. A lost soul. He wakes up to find he is totally
lost on his journey through life. That he’s going ‘nowhere’. That he does not have an adequate map
of the social world.
The journey from boyhood to manhood shows up as a long
stretch; a protracted, lonely march; a painful marathon of developmental challenges; and many males fail to make it to the
finishing line. (Too many quit through suicide before the age of thirty! And far too may merely exist.) They simply
don’t become completely human. They never fully learn to inhabit the potential of their masculine identity as
potent, dignified men – equal in dignity and power to the women in their lives – their mothers, sisters, girlfriends,
wives, friends and peers. And, consequently, many never prove equal to the challenge of teaching their own sons how
to be good men.
When the span of the developmental canyon is too great, and
the individual’s bridge-building materials are insufficient or inadequate, the poorly developed male traveller ends
up floundering in the swamp at the end of the gorge: lost and drowning.
the map of the route to manhood, inherited from parents, grandparents, neighbours, teachers and the wider culture, is false
or misleading, the boy is lost to the world. He cannot complete his developmental journey.
When I first opened the pages of the ‘Meditations’ of Marcus Aurelius, I was
pained by the numerous, warm, positive statements Marcus was able to make about the wonderful qualities he got (inherited)
from his father, his mother, his grandfathers, his adoptive father, and so on. It seemed to me that I had been short-changed.
I felt as if all I’d got from my parents was a lot of painful disciplining, to be a ‘good boy’. Plus lots
of poverty and deprivation. Lots of unhappiness and maladjustment. A father who lacked emotional intelligence and personal
power. A mother who was strongly anti-male. And from my (absent) grandparents I seemed to have got nothing at
all. (How wrong I was about that latter point, as I would find out when reconstructing the story of my life.)
But who would care about the story of
my life anyway – or yours for that matter? After all, aren’t they just stories?
It has been said that when we realize that our life is just a story; that the storyteller is just
a story; and the world described by the storyteller is just a story; then all we have left to do is to have a
But if Alfred Korzybski, the creator of the discipline known
as General Semantics was present, he would highlight some of those statements, before pulling them apart. Here
are some of the highlights he would pull out:
… Our life is
just a story…
… The storyteller is just a story…
… The world described by the storyteller is just a story.
Korzybski would point out that my life, as I understand it, ‘seems
to be’ a story aboutsomething – specifically, about my life’s experiences!
He would object to the use of the word, ‘is’. My life does not equal a story
– therefore it cannot be said that it ‘is’ a story! It may, however, ‘seem
to be’ a story – to somebody: (you, me, or somebody else). A story occurs in the realm of language, but
my life goes on at the level of physical and psychologicalexperience, including social-psychological
experience, involving other witnesses; other actors in the same play.
would also argue that ‘me’, as a storyteller, ‘seems to be’ a real
human being. (That is to say, I seem, to people who observe me, to be a real, three-dimensional, physical
human; and not merely an element of a linguistic story).
Korzybski would maintain that ‘the world’ described by the storyteller ‘seems
(to most observers) to be’ a real source of real human experiences!
This is my story. It involves detective work, psychoanalysis, suffering and personal
growth. It involves the investigation of a deep mystery. It is a story of some real experiences, which have been
fictionalized; and some fictional experiences which are ‘true’!
her 2015 story about Hercule Poirot’s investigation of a triple murder, Sophie Hannah has one of her characters, a Nancy
Ducane, make this statement: “It is the job of art to replace unhappy true stories with happier inventions”.
That may be some artists’ idea of the goal of their work, but it is not
mine. It is also very different from the function of psychotherapy. It is the job of psychotherapy to help the
suffering individual to process their unhappy true stories, so that they can disappear! Most human disturbance
is caused, it seems, by the attempt to escape from experiencing our unhappy true stories!
That is one of the functions of this present book; both for me and for you. To face up to
some facts of life!
When I was a little boy, I loved detective stories.
I think, at that time, I probably thought they were intrinsically interesting and an obvious choice for anybody
to read. But that was not the whole story. In fact, I now believe that I loved detective stories because, at some non-conscious
level of mind, I knew that I was going to have to learn how to be a pretty damn good detective if I was ever going to resolve
the mystery of my life.
At that time, when I was ten to twelve years
old, I didn’t know (consciously) that there was a mystery. At that time, I did not know that most of my soul was
frozen; and that most of my life-potential had been stolen.
I was like the
victim of a hit-and-run ‘accident’, who is lying, maimed, on the side of a dark and deserted road; who, in his
delirium, begins to fantasize about growing up and becoming a traffic cop; a cop who goes around putting up CCTV cameras on
every inch of the public highway, so that, if anybody is ever run over by a drunk driver, they (the victim) will be easy to
find; and thus the drunk driver can be identified and brought to justice.
reading detective stories, I was beginning to learn how to be a good psychoanalyst - by studying Charlie Chan and Hercule
Poirot! A good detective wants to know where the body is buried; and a good psychoanalyst wants to know where the truth is
In psychotherapy it is said that only the wounded physician can heal. And it may be
that in the world of literature, it is only the traumatized individuals who become wholly creative. This idea was suggested
to me by Tanya Lee Markul, like this:
Creative individuals have "…
experienced trauma — and have grown from it. Or are sincerely trying (to grow). Most creative people have been through
something traumatic to varying degrees. These experiences bring new breath, perspectives and a fuel for their life’s
work. They’re often uninhibited, in some way, to allow their painful experiences to be felt clearly and consciously
so that they can transform pain and hurt into expressions of art."
That’s sort of why I’m here: to allow my painful experiences to
be felt clearly and consciously; but also so I can help you to think and feel more deeply and clearly about your own life.
Permission to speak
Listen a while. Lend me your ear.
a message for you:
I would not waste a second of your precious time here on
Earth with pointless words, devoid of relevance and value for you. I would not wish to detain you on your weary journey
through a troubled life.
I write these words to you because I want to wake you
up; to show you an exemplar of a life of struggle, resolved and refined, and completed. I want to show you an example
of how to turn your own life into a successful journey through your own challenges and difficulties.
I know you were scarred in your family of origin. I know you were crucified in the name of ‘education’.
I know your life has not been easy.
Today, I bring you the hot coals of redemption
– the open road of discovery of who you might become. I have walked the lonely roads of misdirection, through wilderness
years, with salty tears uncried! I have heard the howls of the mythical Irish banshee in the dead of night, and wondered
what had become of God and the promise of salvation.
To know yourself; to be
a good person; to understand your journey; to complete your experience of your life’s suffering: those are the gates
to the kingdom of bliss on earth.
Let me show you!
I want to tell you who I am, and where I’ve
been – but for your benefit. However, first I want to say this:
average human being, at birth, my friends, is like a thousand shards of broken glass, scattered across the night sky.
This fragmented mess – this biochemical soup – is an uncoordinated cacophony of non-conscious feelings: Good and
bad; physical and mental; pain and pleasure; love and hate; terror and rage. It takes at least two decades, and sometimes
more, to fashion that loose association of electro-chemical elements into a relatively well-functioning committee of sub-personalities;
or what we normally call ‘a person’.
The first requirement
for success in integrating those myriad elements is to learn a coherent map of life from emotionally intelligent, moral, loving
Because the environmental factors are often inadequate, it frequently
proves to be the case that the individual fails to develop even a small fraction of their full potential for loving and living
and creative work.
My psychological development was retarded to dangerous levels of enstupidization by an entire
culture of damaged individuals; helped along by a religion of monumental inaccuracy, autistic sex-phobia, and general emotional
dysfunction; and an ‘edjumacation’ designed to fit me for a lifetime of servitude to any parasite who wanted to
exploit me economically.
I reached my teens, my Japanese judo teachers tried to teach me a philosophy of life that could save me. It helped a little.
But I was already on the wrong track, and heading in the wrong direction. My map of life was written on the back of a crumpled
postage stamp, stuck to the sole of my uncomfortable right shoe.
“If we do not teach our children
about love and why it’s so much healthier than hatred, what will become of them? If we do not teach them about
their journey towards healthy sex-love relationships, in maturity, who will teach them? And if we do not know enough
about love and sex, and relationships, and how to manage our hatred and rage, what hope is there for any of us?”
Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…
1. The journey begins here…
Strictly speaking, I should begin this book with these words: My name is Daniel O’Beeve, and this book
represents the story of half of my life.
That would accord this
text a certain kind of credibility as a straightforward autobiography.
is not a straightforward autobiography. It is, instead, an autobiographical novel; and so it requires a different
kind of beginning. Like this:
The mystery really began with the arrival
of the email – if you can call it an email. I’d been working hard all day, and right into the evening.
I was trying to write up a dream sequence – or was it a daydream sequence – involving some strange men in a strange
At last, in total exhaustion, I switched off the computer and began
to ‘palm’ my eyes. I kept my eyes open, and cupped my hands over them – fingers close together - so
I could stare into total darkness. That was a blessed relief. My eyes were tired and sore.
Suddenly there was a bright flash, which shone through my hands: revealing my black bones, surrounded by pink muscle
and flesh. I was so startled that my hands fell away my eyes. And there, on the computer screen, was a strange
email. The text was like flickering, blue gas flames; and the background was a kind of mucky cream smog. Despite
the poor contrast between them, I could easily read the message, which said:
You have completed your mission admirably; and so, I thought, had I. However, I now realize that if you do not write
the story of how you did it, my mission will also have failed. So I must strongly request that you get down to writing
up where you have been, and what you have experienced, so we can both rest easy knowing we have completed our historic missions.
What follows is a single sentence summary of the abstract of my report to the Intergalactic
+We-an hipotiste Daniel’s
mirt skurpt anstrazhan toll Daniel valay rasoltav ohum rurlattah ugg gir andluttay im oan positatay oneroot cun higga uppanparon
oan dazt vurlt dit zoon moedhuur haast lowershowalzan wur mit gut wan sexoullarm dilch irhaan Faltaar.+
Oh, sorry. I should have realized… I will have to translate that for you.
When you get down to writing your story, I will send you a full transcript of my report, translated into English. That may
help you to fill in some of the blanks.
The problem with this message, of course, was that the computer was switched off!
So I switched it back on and was relieved to find that the piece
I had been working on was still intact. This is what it said:
know if this was a dream, proper, or a daydream. But I could see the two drab men walking around the mounds of ash and
rubbish. There were three mounds. The men always walked alone. Sometimes one would walk a figure of eight around
the two rubbish mounds on the left; while the other man walked round and round the mound on the right. Then they would
change over. Every so often they would, inevitably, meet, at the front of the site, in my field of vision. Then they
would speak briefly to each other in monotone voices. They had no news for each other: good or bad. They bemoaned
the nature of existence!
Away to the left, the director of the piece
sat all alone on a three-legged stool. He had a face like a crumpled page of newsprint. He seemed happy, or satisfied,
with the general depressive tone of the scene.
Between me and the
mounds of rubbish stood a little boy in short trousers with tousled hair and a short sleeved shirt. His feet were bare.
He scratched his head constantly. After a while he spoke to the little white goat, who stood quietly beside him.
“What is the significance of this grim routine?” asked the curious boy.
The goat, of course, made no reply.
has the director made the scene so barren?” he persisted. “And how has this illusion been perpetrated?”
From the right of the scene, a very tall, dark woman, with long black
hair, tied back with a black ribbon, stepped into the frame.
has taken away the work that would bind them to sanity!” she tells the curious boy.
“Ah!” said the boy. “Loss of meaning!”
“Yes”, said the tall woman. “Meaning and structure, both! But
not just the meaning that is derived from work; but also the purpose that is derived from family relationships”.
“Yes”, said the boy. “I see. No partners.
“And how could the audience understand what
these men are up to unless the director includes something about their childhood?” asks the tall woman, rhetorically.
“Their childhood is that important?”
asked the boy.
“Their childhood defines who
they are!” said the tall woman.
Where do these ideas come from? I am plagued by random thoughts and strange visitations!
Sometimes, when I’m dreaming, I become aware that the feeling
of my feet walking along a solid surface is a reality, and that I am walking through a concrete reality and a dreamscape at
the same time. And sometimes, when I am wide awake, and walking through a perfectly normal scene, I realize that I am
also progressing through a dream sequence in my mind.
Professor Valises wants me to write the story of my life; and the tall woman wants me to be aware that my childhood
defines who I am. Who am I to disappoint them?!
Because I’m obviously a male writer, you might expect that I am now going to write about things, and stuff,
and systems and patterns. That there won’t be any emotions, feelings, relationships, tensions, plots and resolutions.
But you’re quite wrong. Although I begin my life in quite an autistic, male brain state, I end this story in a
really quite vivid state of emotional rawness and sensitivity!
“If you are trapped in the disturbing vines of childhood
abuse, search for the words to describe it. Get it out; write it down; express it! But do it in places where you
feel safe and supported. Do not expose yourself to more abuse!”
Noreen Jameson, Recovery from Childhood Abuse…
2. Easy memories…
Teenage memories are easy. I have no difficulty remembering that I escaped from the most oppressive school
imaginable at the age of fourteen years; that it was less than two weeks before I began my apprenticeship in metal jewellery
manufacturing; and two weeks later I joined an amazing judo club in centre of Dublin city.
My memories of the trainers who came from Japan to teach us are still as clear as an old movie. Slow-moving,
graceful men, with sallow skin, and jet-black, oily hair. Lithe men who acted like peaceful but lethal panthers, smiled like
reclusive monks, and taught us their strange culture. Not just judo and karate; but also aikido (fighting with hands
and wrists); kendo (fighting with sticks and/or swords); meditation; tea ceremony; and their philosophy of life.
Their philosophy was simple:
Translated by an assistant as: Do not be aggressive. Do not attack your opponent. Use his or her strength
and aggression against them.
“No anger”. Do not allow
your emotions to intrude into your judo play. This is a game of skill; of consciousness; of alertness.
“No pride”. Do not be prideful. Do not inflate your ego.
Be modest. The world is for everybody. All are equal. Do not assume more than your fair share of the space; the
air; the action.
“No look for trouble”. Do not fight
outside of your club, in your daily life. Do not seek trouble or conflict. If confronted by an attacker in the
street, choose to run away, as fast as you can, if you can. If you cannot run away; or they pursue you and attack you;
then, without any emotion, disable them; render them powerless to harm you – swiftly and without ceremony. Then
walk away, with no more agitation than if you have just brushed some autumn leaves from your garden path.
On special occasions we all sat in silence
– twenty or so young men aged fourteen to forty - while our Japanese teachers whisked hot, green tea for us, until it
was frothy on top. Then we all sat, crossed legged, with tiny little cups, sipping the tea in silence, and meditated
on ‘Big Mind’. It was stranger than being observed leaving my mother’s uterus by two strange looking
aliens, who peered at me through a steerable wormhole in the fabric of intergalactic space-time, and looked so sad about the
way I arrived!
of early childhood…
I want to tell you my story, in full, as quickly
and economically as I can.
While stories of the teenage years are easy to recall,
stories of infancy are much more difficult: to recall; to reconstruct; to validate.
it’s not just a problem of memory.
Many great stories remain untold, because
the potential author has no voice; no words for the things they have seen and felt. Some potential stories are stillborn
because the potential storyteller gives up on life and quits completely: dying into drugs, alcohol, gambling, ‘business
success’, sex addiction, warmongering or ‘gradual suicide’.
stories emerge later in the day because a tired and weary wanderer accidentally stumbles across the secret vault in which
the truth has been dumped, and locked away, in the ordinary course of a timid, half-lived life. Such is the source of
this story: my story.
so little of our infancy. Sometimes nothing. Sometimes little snatches of sound or feeling, or snippets of imagery.
I don’t know how often my mother sang songs when I was a babe in arms, but one such
song did stick in my mind. This is how it begins:
“It was early, early in the spring
The small birds whistled and sweet did sing,
And changing their notes
tree to tree
The song they sang was
Old Ireland Free”.
It was a sad song. I didn’t know what
the words meant – did not know what “Ireland” was; or what “Free” could be. I may have
had some vague idea what a “bird” was; and a “tree”, perhaps.
But it was a sound of deep, mournful grief, the way she sang it. Even despair. It bored its way into my heart,
like a sick worm, looking for somewhere comfortable to die!
What else did I absorb from my mother’s culture? Perhaps everything!
So if you are to understand my personal story you need to know something of the culture from
which my mother emerged – for I almost certainly inherited whatever she had inherited.
This is a modification of the understanding of what the tall woman told the curious boy, above. It is not just
that our childhood defines who we become; but that our family history, our racial history, shapes what is possible for our
4. A legend of old
Therefore, before I can tell you anything about me and my childhood,
I need to give you a broader context. So, to begin with, let me tell you a legend of old Ireland:
Long, long ago, about 64 generations back – in the season of the Crow – about two full moons before the
Festival of Aine (the Moon Goddess) - Doneal McFlynn was walking on the hillside outside the village of Crumble-Baan.
He was wearing a plain green kilt and a sheepskin vest. His long grey hair was tied in a knot on top of his long, slender
head; and his feet were bare.
Evening was closing in, and darkness was
Looking down on the village, he could just see the outline
of the three concentric circles of round houses in which the entire population lived their communal life.
Though the light was poor, he could still make out the modest campfire of the two boys who
were keeping the Night Watch on the opposite hillside. Suddenly, without warning, a great flare of flame arose in his
field of vision, right next to the boys’ campfire. In his entire lifetime he had never seen this vision, though
he had spent decades expecting to see it one day. The alarm signal. Invaders have been spotted approaching
As quickly as he could, Doneal made his way down to the village, where
the men and boys had congregated in the open space at the centre of the inner circle of roundhouses. They had a huge
assortment of wooden clubs, wooden shields, whips, big stones and slingshots, a few axes, and bronze bars with which to beat
their opponents. The two watching boys had arrived sweating and shouting. They had seen the signal from the next
village, at the top of the valley. So the enemy must be coming from the sea, as they had always expected they would.
Tor Sorgas was the leader of the raiding
party. He stood at the front of the bigger of the two wooden ships, in metal helmet with nose shield; wearing woollen
shirt and trousers, covered by a leather jerkin. He has ordered the crew on the oars to head for the bay. They
had left their home in the frozen north of Europa three weeks earlier, intent upon plundering a few communities in Scotia
and Britannia, but they had been rebuffed at ever attempt. They also failed two landings on the Welsh coast, and now
were bound for the east coast of Hibernia.
Tor could not imagine any
kind of life other than plundering the wealth of others, especially the mineral wealth of the Britons. But the livestock
and crops of Hibernia would have to do this time.
They had run out of dried
fish earlier today, and so they had to succeed with this landing. To ensure that there was no turning back, they burned
their boats on the beach where they landed, and began the trek inland to find some undefended community to plunder.
Doneal McFlynn, as the village elder,
took charge of the massed men and boys, and told them that the gods were on their side. Nobody had the right to invade
their community and disrupt the peace. Right is mighty, he told them, and then commanded them to follow him into battle.
It was not known in advance how long it would take to locate the enemy, but
in the event it involved a two hour march eastwards.
The warriors of Crumble-Baan
met the invading army on the fields of Larkow, halfway between the village and the coast. The men and boys of Crumble-Baan
did their war dance, screaming and roaring their anger at the invaders. This was the tradition of Lenster-Beag, to demonstrate
superior moral right by every means available to larynx and arms and body movements.
Tor Sorgas had trained his warriors to ignore the behaviour of the enemy, and to look within for the superior claim
of the people of Scantavia to the wealth of the world. The god of war was on their side, and they would prove to be
The men and boys of Crumble-Baan ran down the hillside towards the
invaders, stamping their feet, shouting curses, screaming for them to withdraw and go away. They were convinced that,
at any moment, the invaders would understand that the people of Crumble-Baan had the superior moral stand, and then they would
simply run away.
However, the warriors of Tor Sorgas did not flinch until the
Hibernians were in close, and then they ripped them apart with their swords, knives, spiked flails and spears.
Only two of the younger boys lived to run away, and report back to the village.
The women of Crumble-Baan were heartbroken
at the news of the death of their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. They were beside themselves with grief.
All through the night they cried, beating their chests with their fists; and
wailing to Aine for relief from their pain. And then, about two hours before dawn, a tall woman with long, black hair,
tied back with a black ribbon, steps forward. Her name is Banba Ni Flynn, and she is the physically strongest of the
women. Taking command, she appointed two young women to take the children and babies, and the infirm elders, into the
woods to hide. She then took the group of forty women and older girls out into the fields where they undressed and covered
themselves with mud, from forehead to ankles. Throughout this process they chanted a mesmerizing prayer to Aine.
They then slaughtered a goat and smeared its blood and guts over their hair and chests.
This was accompanied with screams of ‘vengeance’.
Then they each
broke two tree branches for themselves; one to serve as a club, and the other to strap to their left forearms, with reeds,
as a shielding beam, to protect themselves from direct blows by their enemy’s weapons.
Then they knelt on the cold, damp ground, and prayed to Aine, the Moon Goddess, to help them settle the score with
And finally, they set off at a brisk pace on the long walk to
the battleground, which they expected would take at least two hours.
Tor Sorgas celebrated his victory in his brief battle with the Hibernians by roasting several
of the bigger, more muscular, fallen men over open fires, and eating them. Then he and his warriors sang lots of victory
songs, and slept well in a large mound of tree branches which they cut down and assembled for protection and warmth.
At dawn, Sorgas awoke and noticed how quiet it was. It was a kind of
sub-zero quietness which roared in his ears, like the distant sound of the sea in a seashell. Pushing the tree branches
back, he stepped out into the morning light.
Looking up at the hillside ahead
of him, he saw forty strange animals, like apes, standing perfectly still. Each one carried a big tree branch like a
It was a truly chilling sight, but Tor began to laugh, and called to his
men to get up and come look at this strange sight.
The other fifty-five Norsemen
emerged from their sleeping shelter and joined in the laughter.
Then the women
of Crumble-Baan began to slowly walk down the hillside. The laughter from the Norsemen continued, with some moments
of silence, some giggles; some attempts to intensify the laughter; some faltering; some increasing disquiet.
The women of Crumble-Baan walked slower and slower, now slightly crouching down, with a chilling
intensity: clubs at the ready. The Norsemen took up their positions. Tor gave the order to prepare their weapons.
As the strange creatures came closer, they began to keen; to express their
grief at their great loss, as they picked their way between the fallen bodies of their kinsmen on the open field.
Closer still and the Norsemen began to smell the great stench of stomach bile and the iron
and flint of the goat’s blood.
Then the women stopped, and Banba, in a
strange tongue, told her sisters that you cannot hope to win your battles by relying upon your moral message affecting your
enemies. You had to be as remorseless as they were. You had to harden your heart; to forget everything you had
learned from the Moon Goddess.
Then Banba uttered a great shriek of ‘Revenge!’
and the women and girls of Crumble-Baan set about the Norsemen and did not rest their clubs until there was no longer an intact
skull to be seen.
Six women lay dead on the field, alongside fifty-six Norsemen.
The women and girls stayed on the battle
field for two days and two nights. At first they bathed themselves in the blood of the killers of their menfolk.
Then, with their bare hands and some sticks, they dug holes to bury their dead men and boys. They lay on the graves,
keening and crying.
At the end of this period, Banba called them together and
spoke to them:
“From this day forward, let there be no more charity”,
she ordered. “No more compassion; no more kindness; and no more forgiveness. Let you heart be like flint,
and your face like a locked door”.
Finally, they collected up the weapons
and shields of the fallen Norsemen, and then they walked slowly homewards to their man-less households.
Over time, the women of Crumble-Baan found new men to join their
community, from the surrounding district; but they retained control.
raised their children to be merciless fighters.
The people of Crumble-Baan
became an indomitable people, because of their harshness, until – 9 generations later - the Anglo-Normans came and broke
their spirits. In a matter of days they went from being a matriarchal communist community to the flogged serfs of the Anglo-Norman
warlord, the self-styled nobleman, Ralf, The Earl of Swafford – a murderous psychopath with a ‘king’s warrant’
- which means ‘permission to plunder’.
He kidnapped one out of
every ten men, women and children in the village, and kept them in the woods above the river, guarded by his most murderous
men; and threatened to gouge out the eyes, and roast alive, one man, woman and child for every act of rebellion or insurrection
that was undertaken by any member of the village community. (His great grandfather had developed this strategy, one
hundred years earlier, in the subjugation of the Britons of Swafford region. On his deathbed, the old man asked for forgiveness
for the torture, murder, rape and general abuse of thousands of ordinary Britons).
in total defeat, the people of Crumble-Baan were harsh and broken. Bitter and unforgiving. And they passed that
down to their offspring.
“The cruellest thing that can be said of the people of Crumble Baan is this:
They enslaved themselves! They enslaved themselves by putting the survival of 10% ahead of the dignity of 100%.
Very bad arithmetic! Of course, they were outwitted by the evil terrorism of the Earl of Swafford – but it took
them at least eight hundred years to build up the courage for twelve brave men to occupy the General Post Office in Dublin,
which brought the British military occupation to its knees within five years”. (Page 102).
Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…
5. Subsequent history…
In 1798, inspired by the American and French revolutions, the people of Crumble-Baan, now
renamed Crumble village, joined the United Irishmen’s revolt, only to be crushed once more by the English army of occupation.
(The English army of occupation, of course, being an agent of the English ruling class, and not an expression of the will
of the English people, which had been just a cruelly crushed by the Normans, one hundred years before the Irish).
In 1845, half the population of Crumble
either died of famine, or left for America: many dying at sea.
In 1848, following the wave of revolutions across Europe, the Pope of Rome, who had been
the titular head of feudal Europe for centuries, identified this year as the crucial point in history to attempt to roll back
the march of Protestant capitalism, and to restore Catholic feudalism across the continent of Europe. His plan was to
unite the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish peoples against the English, Dutch, and East Prussians; and the Protestant
cantons of Switzerland. For this purpose, a large body of well-educated priests was sent to Ireland, to take control
of the mind of the Irish people and to fashion it into a weapon to use in the attack on England.
Those priests were guilt-ridden about sex. Some of them naively believed it was possible to repress the human
sex urge and to live a celibate life, without any consequences. Some others were innocent, repressed homosexuals,
who were denied any kind of social life, because they did not wish to marry and reproduce.
They all soon found out that nature is so much more powerful than human will! And their repressed sexuality
came out in all kinds of distorted ways.
Nuns and priests turned to each other
for heterosexual and homosexual pleasures. Many priests took advantage of their most vulnerable parishioners, including children.
(Of course, some of those priests – and bishops - had been evil paedophiles all along, who signed up for mission
because they wanted to locate themselves in roles where they could prey upon children.)
These priests, and nuns, and bishops, and teaching brothers, each with their own (guilt-driven) reason to deny human
sexuality, spread their (official, public) dread of sex among the people of Crumble, along with
the crazy story of Redemption by Christ’s Crucifixion!
And in denying
the legitimacy of sex between men and women, they inevitably denied the value or importance of love
between men and women. Men and women were to be kept far apart from each other. Catholic churches had a male and female
section, to prevent the emergence of lust during the mass!
The people of Crumble-Baan were my ancestors! Forged in the fires of insecurity, feudal conflict,
and intense grief; the violence of colonial warfare, oppression, lawless victimization, degradation, starvation, and casual
death. And finally, used in a cynical political war of the worlds, in which primitive fear of sex would be one of the
main building blocks! In the process, love was crushed out of them. ‘Love’ became the dirtiest of dirty
words! It was so dirty, it was never uttered.
Irish Catholicism – as far as I could tell, from my childhood experience - was about
hatred and bile! And as a child, I was bathed in that hatred and bile. The most visible signs being violent parents;
violent sister; violent teachers; and violent school peers. It was in the air that I breathed.
Of course, hatred and violence and bile produce, as their inevitable corollaries, fear and loathing; and unprincipled
It was not until I arrived in England, at the age of eighteen years,
that I heard the expression: “God is Love!”
I think I laughed at
that idea, when first I heard it. At the very least I would have been mystified by this bizarre oxymoron.
I had grown up with the God of Retribution; the God of Hell Fire; the God of Anger.
I had the Fear of God beaten into me, at home and in school.
God, for me, was
like Attila the Hun: with magic powers, and nuclear weapons; and a bad temper.
 Sophie Hanna (2015) The Monogram Murders – The new Hercule Poirot Mystery. London: Harper. Page
We are grateful to our readers for their feedback on this book. Please leave your comments
in the box that follows:
Copyright (c), 2015: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne...
Extract from Chapter 2: by Daniel O'Beeve
"In most of the families we followed, for more than two decades, there was
a constant mystery related to these three central questions: Why did their heroes not come from their own social class, or
their own clan or region? How were they persuaded to worship such alien ghosts from amongst their oppressors and exploiters?
And why were they so insensitive to the emotional needs of their own children?"
Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…
1. Starting in the middle…
I have now presented you with the ‘prequel’ to my life – the context
suggested by the battle of Crumble-Baan. I then thought of ‘starting at the beginning’ - like the King advised
the White Rabbit, in Alice in Wonderland – with the story of my infancy – but I know that most adults
have great difficulty identifying with infants and their suffering. So, instead I followed the lead of Karen Joy Fowler,
in her book about the loss of her ‘chimp sister’, titled We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The
approach of her main character, Rosemary, to the writing of her own autobiography - which she achieved during her second year
at the University of California, Davis - was this: “By then I’d figured out the way to talk about my family.
Nothing simpler really. Start in the middle”.
The middle of my life,
roughly, was the year in which I turned thirty-two years of age. And I want to begin there, because I want you to be
able to identify with the kind of adult I became, before I present you with my dreadful childhood.
I promise, in Chapter 3, to go right back to my earliest childhood memories, and to let you have the undiluted truth.
So let me then begin with the trappings of my life when I was thirty-two years old (back
in the summer of 1978): My UN consultancy work; and my work for the Royal Thai government, at Thammasat University; my apartment
in Soi Pradiphat, round the back of Praddipat Road, near Saphan Kwhai, Bangkok. Plus my illicit affair with Juliet Peterson;
and the screaming roar in my head that could only be quieted by tranquillizers and Thai grass.
This starting point helps a lot, because, by this stage, it looked as if I not only didn’t have any family,
but that I had never had one! That I had fallen from the skies fully formed. A perfect ‘organizational man’,
with a fabricated CV that any robot would be proud of.
In the process of ‘amputating’
my ‘unacceptable family’, I had somehow chained my heart to a frozen vacuum of fabricated identity.
I was a self-constructed-self with no core.
the ‘international development role’, which I had at this time, is a perfect illustration of how lost I am.
I was trying to fix the world – but I didn’t even know I was broken into tiny fragments.
What a fake, unreal ‘person’ I’d become. What a failed life I was leading – despite
the visual illusion of my “professional success”.
2. A waking nightmare…
"The Brothers of Christ produced ten generations of boys and men who could neither think nor feel. They
were crippled leftovers from the failed feudal revolt against British capitalism".
Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…
The beeping alarm dragged me out
of a strange black and silver landscape of caves and hills, in which I was haunted by memories of something I’d lost.
I was frantically searching for something precious. But I could not begin to find it until I knew what it was.
And I could not remember what it had been.
Beep, beep, beep…..
I awake; slam the beeping alarm off; and swing my legs out of bed. It hasn’t
rained for weeks, and the temperature, in the run-up to ‘Christmas’ is above eighty-five degrees by lunchtime.
It’s already over seventy degrees, and it’s barely seven o’clock in the morning. Yellow light streams
in through the windows of my three room apartment.
Although it was almost Christmas
‘back home’ (wherever that was: the UK? or Ireland?) there seemed to be endless Chinese celebrations going on
all over Bangkok. We were still in the year of the Horse; and the year of the Goat would not begin until early February
1979. I’d consulted a traditional Chinese healer in Bangkok, and he’d told me that the year of the Goat would
be a major turning point in my life. He said my world would crack and fall asunder; only to be rebuilt in a better form.
And the symbol for the moment of change would be the arrival of the Goat. I can’t wait!
At the moment it’s Chinese Thanksgiving, which is the Thais’ winter solstice celebration, involving ancestor
worship at its core, but lots of eating of spicy foods seemed to be the main evidence that the celebrations are in full flow.
3. Minor health problems…
I look down
at the red hives on my legs and arms. Fucking bedbugs. I cross the bedroom and pick up the big black
Bakelite phone, tap the internal call button repeatedly, and speak to the apartment block manager, telling him the new mattress
is no better than the previous one – ‘I’m still covered in bedbug bites’ – and ask that he get
me a new mattress by the end of today.
Then I open the fridge and look in.
Nothing appeals to me, so I remove by tee-shirt and put on a pair of swimming trunks and flip-flops; cross to the entrance
hall; and out onto the patio, where I am struck by the glaring sun and the roar of the traffic from Tunun Praddipat, a couple
of hundred yards away. I turn right and walk down to the swimming pool.
are already two Thai families – two mothers and fathers and four children - and the fat American from apartment number
four - in the shallow end of the pool, chatting amiably. I walk to the deep end, where the blinding yellow sparkles
of sunlight bounce off the rippled surface of the pale blue chlorinated water. I climb down the steps, and, clinging
to the ladder rail, float out on my back. This is one way to cool down; one way to wake up; and one way to try to soothe
my burning hives. I can’t swim, but I have learned how to float on my back.
My head is thumping, as usual, and my neck and shoulders are cold and stiff.
It’s a lot cooler at the moment than it was in June, when I arrived in this exotic city, with plans to make
a reputation and perhaps a small fortune at the same time. I was trading on my creative ability to suggest timely economic
and technological innovations for rural development. The Royal Thai government was urgently investing in anything that would
wean the poor peasant farmers of the Northeast Region from the Lao and Cambodian communists who repeatedly infiltrated the
militarized Land Settlement Projects. (The paradox, of course, was that I probably hated the American Empire more than did
the Cambodians. Laos or Vietnamese! Because I knew the mercenary reasons the American state, on behalf of American
corporations, had gone into Vietnam with tons of bombs and burning napalm, and killed thousands and thousands of innocent
In the past couple of days, the humidity has dropped to about 60%
which, for the Thais is very comfortable; but when it’s combined with such high temperatures, it does not suit the pale,
European skin, and it’s very much outside of our comfort zone. My pale and sensitive skin is particularly uncomfortable
in such hot and sweaty conditions.
4. The cultural context…
As I lie in the pool, trying to clear my head, and cool my hives, I can smell the riot of
odours of Thai cooking from the countless cooking stalls in the streets that surround Blue Lotus Apartments – the gated
community where I’ve lived for the past two months. Overall the aroma of Thai food is pleasant and rich, though
at its core is that rotten, fermented fishy smell of Pla ra. I could also pick out the diluted stink of Pad
sa Tor (which I had often tried as a hangover remedy); though it was pretty heavily covered by the whole gamut of sweet
and spicy herbs that Thais love so much. But at least those food odours tended to mask the clouds of car exhaust fumes
that drifted in from Praddipat Road, as the early morning traffic roar, which would last all day, began to howl in earnest.
Out of the pool, I walk to the shower at the end, wash the chlorine off with some local soap;
walk back to my apartment, bowing to the Thais in the pool, and to the spirit house in the small plot in front of my door.
Back inside, I get dressed.
Today is the big day for feedback on my presentation
to the Director of the Department of Public Works, on my Northeast Village Technology and Rural Economy proposal. For
this purpose, I don my bitter chocolate, linen safari suit with the pale beige stripe: short sleeved, open-necked, waisted,
and with flared trousers. I have had my long hair cut back to collar length, and my beard trimmed. I want to wear
sandals, to keep my body temperature down, but that would not be acceptable attire for a government office in Bangkok. So
I reluctantly put on a pair of Barrett’s two-tone shoes, dark tan and beige, that matched the business suit.
5. A breakfast of two parts…
the street, outside my apartment compound, there are three tuk-tuks (or sam lor - motorized rickshaws – the big brothers
of the Indian baby-taxi) waiting for customers to come along. I catch the eye of one driver who’s driven me before,
and beckon him over. He turns his sam lor and drives over. Meanwhile, the aroma of the nearest food stall has stimulated
my appetite, so I ask my driver to wait while I have a bowl of Kuai-tiao nam soup with noodles and pork-balls, from
one of my favourite street-sellers. It takes me just three minutes to eat it, and then I get into the sam lor, and the driver
takes me up to the Dorchester Hotel, near Saphan Kwai, where I order breakfast.
had lived in the Dorchester for about two months, until I ran out of money, about eight or nine weeks back. Although
I am an accredited consultant with the UN, I am on a payment by results contract; which means that, until I bring in some
project funding, I cannot claim my consultancy fees. It’s very expensive living in Bangkok, and also funding my
own field trips and consultancy reports.
Before I lived in the Dorchester,
I’d lived in a low-rent apartment that was subsidized by Christian Aid, for use by missionaries and Christian Aid field
workers. I was evicted when some neighbours complained of the sounds coming from my room every time Juliet came to visit,
during my first few weeks in Bangkok. It was unfortunate that the floor was a kind of hard, glossy resinous concrete,
which squealed and screeched when the iron-frame bed was forced down hard on its bare metal legs. I suppose it took
the other residents a few weeks to figure out what was going on, and they then decided that making love in the afternoon was
Now I was back in the basement restaurant of the Dorchester, in search
of the second part of my breakfast, and also to meet Juliet to plan and prepare for our visit to the Department of Public
Works. The purpose of this visit, as I said, was to get feedback on our presentation, made last month, to the Director,
the Minister, and the senior funding teams from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development
Program (UNDP), and the Dutch government development agency (DDC).
It was always
dark and cool in the Yim Huai Heng restaurant, because it was below ground level and therefore had no windows.
The lighting was old French wall lamps; the décor was dark; and the carpet was so dark it was hard to discern the maroon
background that would be visible in broad daylight.
I sat at my usual table
near the door and looked at the menu. It contained no concessions to the English language, apart from the Romanization
of the Thai words. I had learned to stick to the Khao phat, for breakfast and lunch: which in most good restaurants
contained fried rice topped with nam pla phrik (which is chillies in fish sauce). The other ingredients
tended to vary, but often included lime or lemon, cucumber or coconut, and, more often than not, spring onions. (Nobody
in Bangkok ate or supplied bacon and eggs; or toast and marmalade. And it was almost impossible to get good quality
coffee, since iced tea [‘cha yen’] was the drink of choice in that city. Such cultural deprivation!)
My Khao phat arrived, with a strong smell of lemon grass and ginger; along with
a big jug of freshly brewed, strong iced tea – like masala tea with coconut milk, crushed ice and tons of sugar.
I got stuck into the rice, with a fork in my right hand, while pouring the iced tea with my left. The tea, when well
made, in reputable establishments, was almost as strong as coffee, and I slurped a couple of mouthfuls back, in an effort
to wake myself up fully. But the cognitive boost was less than half that of a good American coffee.
6. Juliet arrives…
The cha yen was not all for me,
as Juliet was due to arrive soon. She normally had black coffee in the morning, at home, (and on Mondays, Wednesdays
and some Fridays, I joined her there for coffee and toast). But today she was due to meet me here at 8.15, so we could prepare
for our meeting at 9.00am at the Department of Public Works. The iced tea was a poor compensation for the lack of her
preferred home-percolated American coffee.
I heard her three-inch stilettos
hit the marble floor in the entrance hall above, and checked my watch. Bang on time.
I heard her march steadily down the stairs: click, clack, click. I was filled with sadness and gladness, in
a mixture acidic enough to burn right through my heart.
She was dressed in a
tight, black, Thai silk suit: jacket and pencil line skirt, with a long slit up the right thigh. Her long blond hair
was tied back in a big gold hair slide; and she was wearing her big, red-framed specs. She was dressed to kill for a
crucial business meeting.
She looked around the restaurant, saw no expats were
present, apart from me, and kissed me on the lips. She whispered “Sugar lips!” as she pulled away. Sitting
down, she pushed her cup towards me for some cha yen, while pulling some documents from her briefcase.
Placing the papers on the table in front of her, she stared at me, examining my eyes.
“Morning, honey?” she said, interrogatively, looking at me questioningly. She could see that I was still
low; hung over; depressed and deflated.
Fishing in her bag she found
the little silver box of speed pills (ephedrine and caffeine), and pulled two out for me. I washed them down with a
mouthful of the tea. Hopefully, within a few minutes, they would neutralize the tranquillizers that I took last night,
and the Thai grass that I smoked at bedtime.
“What’s the running
order?” I ask her.
She looks at the documents from the DPW. “Kun
Wicheet will speak for the Department. The USAID representative will respond. We will be asked to accept or reject
“Is that all?” I asked.
“No detail on what the offer is
likely to be?”
We had made a pitch for half a million US dollars over a two year period, to set up a pilot project in Ubon Ratchatani.
That would then be reviewed, and a decision made about the future years.
do you expect?” I asked her then.
“This is a standard format”,
she said. “It could mean a funding offer; or it could be an offer to review additional proposals; or to submit
additional argumentation or supporting evidence, etc. Impossible to say if they’ve found any funds for us, at
down to work…
In the air-conditioned taxi on the way to the DPW directorate,
I am at last able to cool down. The soreness of my hives is receding slowly. The restaurant had been too warm, and the
street outside, as we came out, was so hot and humid, that my armpits were wet by the time we were locked inside the icy-cool
interior of the cab. Of course, some of my sweating could have been due to the tension I felt about another rejection
of our project proposal, and another few weeks of brainstorming, researching, writing and making presentations.
The taxi whizzed through the crowded streets between Saphan Kwai and Rama VI Road, where
most of the main government offices were located. This journey always struck me as a mad conflation of rush-hour traffic
in Manhattan and a congregation of exotic peacocks strutting and pushing along the pavements.
The taxi arrived ten minutes early, and we paid ‘waiting time’ to stay in the cool interior until we
had just four minutes in hand, and then we headed into the DWP building at number 218.
We were both quite tense as we marched up the stairs and into the director’s office.
Kun Wicheet, the director - a pleasantly fat Chinese-looking Thai
- was seated regally behind his eight-foot desk. In front of him, seated on a semi-circle of comfortable, well-upholstered
chairs, were Len Hogan, the USAID representative for the Northeast; Sjoerd Leenstra, from UNDP; and Bernhard Hendriks, from
the Dutch DDC.
The director stood up and shook our hands, and indicated where
He then made a statement about the excellence of our economic and technological
development proposal. Len Hogan explained how they had evaluated our proposal in the field, back in their office, and
also in Washington, and that they were pleased to recommend to Congress the disbursement of 500,000 US dollars per year for
the next three years to make this project a success.
Leenstra was also
full of praise, and said they would pick up the cost of local support services; and Hendriks said the Dutch government would
be pleased to pay all salaries involved.
This was six times what we’d
asked for, and then some!
Juliet thanked them for their feedback, and steered
the conversation in the direction of when and where the funds would be disbursed. The short answer was that a decision
on start dates would be made in Washington, and it was likely to be early in the New Year; possibly late January or early
The room was aglow with a celebratory mood.
Everybody expected this to be a great breakthrough for the people of the Northeast; and to help keep the commies
We all shook hands and dispersed.
Celebrations in the context of defeat…
Juliet and I walked briskly back
down the stairs to the sound of her clicking heels, and the squeak of my soft soles; out into the hot street; and into the
first air-conditioned cab we could find.
Once inside, she screamed with pleasure
at our victory. I laughed and cheered. After six months of hard work, we had been vindicated; we had succeeded;
we had made it. Once the money was through, I could submit my bill for forty thousand pounds of consultancy fees for
the developmental phase.
We asked the driver to take us to the Dorchester Hotel.
It would be safer to use the hot-sheet floor – the third floor was exclusively bookable by the hour – instead
of risking being seen entering my apartment at Blue Lotus Apartments (or Red Rose Court, where Juliet lived with her husband,
Bart) for a celebratory roll in the hay.
Juliet, who was sitting on my left,
took my left hand, clamped my index and middle fingers together, stuck them in her mouth and moistened them; then pushed my
hand up her skirt, which had a deep, accommodating side split, inside her panties, and into her warm, wet vagina.
This was a strange, new bonobo-like celebration ritual that was unknown to me. Ten
years earlier, I would have been deliriously happy to be so wanted by a woman: so passionately desired. Two years ago
I was ecstatic about being wanted by this woman. But that was then and this was now.
In that moment of double victory, I realized my total defeat.
“Adultery, like all other forms of evil, begins with a sense
that ‘this is a great idea’; a great advantage; pure benefit; total pleasure. But as it progresses, the
messy and painful bits mount up. In the end, the dominant sense is that ‘this is a rotten situation’; a
great disadvantage; pure loss; total pain. The devil seems to have all the best tunes, but they quickly rot down into
intolerable tones of suffering”.
Rambini, Metaphysical Thoughts…
Rewind six or eight weeks. Juliet and I run along the platform with light luggage,
and board the overnight train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Ubon Ratchatani, near the borders with
both Laos and Cambodia; leaving at 8.00pm and arriving at 10.00am the next day.
have a sleeping compartment, which means we can have our evening meal in our private room, and get to bed by 9.00pm.
By 10.00pm we’ve made love, and I’ve left the lower berth, and moved to my place
on the top berth. I can hear her crying softly below. She wants me to stay in her berth with her. I cannot
do that, which might seem strange given how strongly I am drawn to her, physically and emotionally. To understand my
behaviour, you need to know some background.
End of Extract... Copyright material. Must not be copied or used in any way without
the wirtten permission of the copyright owners: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne
daniel get into this mess? And how can he get out? How does this adulterous relationship relate back to the end of his
own marriage? Can he ever get beyond acting out his parents' rotten marriage?
Watch out for the appearance of this amazing autobiographical novel. Make sure you don't miss it.
Copyright (c) 2015: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne...
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to our readers for their feedback on this book. Please leave your comments in the box that follows:
Extract from Chapter 3… By Daniel O’Beeve…
Copyright (c) 2015: Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT
Darkness is where the demons dwell…
The Cullen Boys, as they are known, are in the middle of the bar room (in The Haymakers
Arms pub) – two big, strapping farmhands. They see that the barkeeper is sidling towards the left end of
the bar, as the clock ticks up to eleven o’clock - and they know what will happen next. In unison, they drain
their porter glasses, pull the peaks of their flat caps down in their eyes, tap their pipes into the ash trays on the bar,
and push the empty pipes into the top pockets of their worn coats. Then they stand up and swivel towards the door. As
they do so, the barkeeper picks up a small leather mallet and strikes the bar once. As the Cullen boys turn to leave
the bar, the remaining men drain their glasses, grunt or burp, turn like toy soldiers and follow the Cullen boys out into
The Cullen boys have left their big black bicycles outside the
front of the pub, on top of the others, for a quick escape. They had already removed their bicycle clips when they arrived,
because the hill home is too steep to cycle. As they wheel their bicycles away, now, they hear two or three men behind
them grunt farewells, or say goodnight.
It’s only forty yards to the end of the street – five small houses and a small
Catholic chapel - where the boys, no longer deserving of the name, as they are in their late ‘thirties, turn sharp right
and enter onto the steep hill homewards. At this point they both switch on their bicycle lamps. They are not cowards,
but they believe that it could be dangerous to walk up this hill in the total darkness because there are big, waterlogged
ditches on both sides of the road, and at least one or two drunks have drowned in them over the decades.
They also believe in demons and the devil, and they know that darkness is where they dwell. This is the point
at which they normally begin to whistle – token whistling; little incomplete attempts at a tune; which is not so much
an expression of culture as it is of panic.
Here, on the dark road home, the
devil runs the show. When dawn comes, the freshly washed priests and vicars will emerge from their hiding places; the
devil will withdraw, and god will reclaim the day.
The boys have a few miles
to walk before they get to the Cullen farm, where they will collapse into bed together, in a bed shared with two younger brothers,
and out of which they will be hauled by Old Man Cullen about four o’clock in the morning, to prepare to milk the herd
– the Cullens’ being one of the few cattle farms in the area.
they trudge off up the hill, side by side, pushing their heavy bicycles in silence. The moon emerges to illuminate their
journey for a couple of minutes, and then is obscured again by cloud cover; only to emerge again two minutes later.
As they turned the gentle bend between Dennehey’s turkey farm and the Flynn’s
run-down homestead, where the gradient of the hill steepens significantly, a cloud passed over the moon, and they were plunged
into deeper darkness. Immediately after this point, they were stopped in their tracks by a loud scream. They looked
at each other in terror. Could this be it? The demonic confrontation they had long expected?
They recovered their composure and walked on, gasping
as they pushed their great black bicycles up the steep incline.
As they got
closer to the gate of Flynn’s farm they heard it again – this time louder – and this time it was clearly
a woman in distress. She was shouting and screaming now; wailing and protesting.
As they reached the gate, they wondered what it could mean. By the gate, they could remember the spot where
Old Man Flynn’s Model-T Ford had stood, on the side of the road, inches from the ditch. This was the car in which
he died, after weeks of using it as his home, in the coldest winter they had known, locked into a mound of snow. They
had no idea why Old Man Flynn had taken to living in his car. There were rumours of ‘interfering with’ children;
but they had no idea what that actually meant. The phrase, ‘interfering with’, was like a blow to the guts,
a painful grasping at the heart, a fear of falling into a big black pit. It had no images attached to it, and no descriptors.
It was one of the night terrors of Catholic childhood.
Because of this confusion
about why Old Man Flynn had died the way he did, they did not consider stopping to see if anybody needed their help.
It was none of their business. They were not citizens of a Grecian democracy. They were pawns in a plot that had
not been explained to them!
They walked on!
7. A difficult birth…
Inside the Flynn’s farmhouse all was not well. Neeve, the twenty year old daughter, had come home to
her mother’s place to give birth to her second child. The girls who slept in the big bedroom to the right of the
front door had been sent to stay with various aunties, and Neeve had the room to herself. Birth was a secret process,
and the less the children knew about it the better! Neeve had arrived the day before she was due to give birth, and
lounged around, waiting. She was not expecting to be detained for very long, because her first child, Caitlin, had ‘slipped
out like an oiled pea’ after thirty minutes of labour.
before lunchtime yesterday, and her waters finally broke during breakfast today; and she was hurried off to the side room
by the midwife in attendance. But now, tonight, she has been in labour for sixteen hours – and she is in a state
of exhaustion and despair. The midwife, Mrs Meehan, had to send for Old Nurse Sweeny, because she was at her wits end.
She had tried everything she knew to get this girl to deliver her second baby, but nothing worked. Although she ordered
her to push, to shove, to breathe, to squat on the bed and bear down, nothing worked. And now the girl had become hysterical,
thinking this unbearable pain could never be dislodged from her unmentionable parts.
The girl’s mother, Old Mrs Flynn - as distinct from the younger Mrs Flynns who were married to her older boys
- was agitated, as she went from room to room trying to distract herself from the screams and curses of her daughter.
Several of Neeve’s older brothers and sisters, along with a couple of aunts, sat
around the big room to the left of the front door, waiting for the event to be over, so they could get on with their lives.
All the younger children were upstairs, under orders to go to sleep – but how could they with such a racket going on
Nurse Sweeny had prepared a concoction of herbs, and forced the
girl to drink it. This was followed by wild evacuations of the bowels, for which no advanced planning had been made,
and then by much urination, but the head of the baby remained intractably, if visibly, lodged in the poor girl’s dilated
Old Nurse Sweeny went to the next room and talked to Old Mrs
Flynn, and tried to persuade her that a doctor would have to be called, as they had exhausted all their know-how, and were
at their wit’s end. It looked like Neeve and the baby might die, if a doctor was not called urgently. But
Old Mrs Flynn shook her head and pushed the nurse away, insisting, regrettably, that she definitely could not, under any circumstance,
afford to pay a doctor.
An innocent goat…
The next few hours were a nightmare for everybody.
All the children who were in bed upstairs were distressed by the wild screaming. The girl’s husband, Owen, was
in shock, sitting by the fire staring into ash and embers.
Now Neeve just
wailed, weakly, from time to time, like a dying animal; and then fell into brief unconsciousness. Wailed and cried.
Sobbed. Temporary silence. Then she would rouse up and bash her head against the headboard and shout, Jazis,
Jazis, Jazis Christ! Will somebody kill me, please!
Somewhere after two
o’clock in the morning, the goat, tied up in the barn, next to the delivery room, began to respond to Neeve’s
screams with its own bleats.
The goat-bleating was unnerving everybody, and
Old Mrs Flynn paced up and down, brushing the tangle of fuzzy grey hair out of her eyes. She was not a woman who knew
much about self-restraint.
“Mother of God”, she intoned, after
the goat had bleated more than a dozen times, in tandem with Neeve’s screams. “I’ll kill that goat
if it doesn’t stop!” Her wrinkled face, like an ancient Native American who had been dehydrated for a decade,
was more tense and angry than normal, which was saying something.
goat was nowhere near finished, and continued to bleat and blah, every time the girl cried out.
Finally, Old Mrs Flynn lost control, picked up a big, thick stick from the pile of firewood by the open fire; went
out, slamming the door behind her; yanked open the creaking barn door and obviously struck the goat a heavy blow. Instead
of quieting the beast, this had the effect of producing a wild shriek, following which Neeve began to cry, “Oh God help
me! God help me! God help me!”
The goat screamed; the stick
thudded again and again; the girl cried out; the goat screamed; the stick thudded, over and over and over.
Finally, silence reigned, inside and outside the house. An uncomfortable silence of a type
the children of this family knew in their bones.
Old Mrs Flynn re-entered
the house and chased some children off the stairs - children who had been attracted by the commotion and come down to see
what the unholy row was about. She followed them upstairs and screamed at the kids who were talking loudly among themselves
about what was going on. The big stick whacked the mattress through the blankets, rags and coats which covered them.
Unlike the unfortunate goat, however, the kids knew to deliver immediate obedience and silence. They did not wish to
die. One strike on the bedclothes and silence reigned.
peace descended upon the house, broken only by Neeve’s occasional returns to consciousness, during which she cried and
screamed, and pleaded for a merciful death!
9. The god of small mercies…
At precisely four o’clock,
in the dead of night - according to Old Nurse Sweeny, who had been sleeping on and off by the delivery bed - an angel of the
lord arrived and pulled the child effortlessly from the woman’s womb, sliding it gently onto the bloody, wet, and soiled
sheets of the bed.
It was a miracle, they all agreed, as the more
energetic ones who had stayed up spilled into the room. What a big head, they all agreed. Nobody had
ever seen such a big head on a new-born baby, and especially a baby with such a small, skinny body.
The midwives washed and dried the distraught Neeve, as she sobbed and moaned. Then
they washed the baby, and wrapped it in a new towel. Slowly they approached the exhausted mother, and Old Nurse Sweeny
began to move the baby towards her, for Neeve to take. Suddenly, without warning, Neeve’s left arm began to arc
upwards from her chest, and her big flat hand assumed the slapping position, as she took aim at the baby’s little body.
Nurse Sweeny pulled the baby back in the nick of time, and Neeve’s big flat hand arced downwards and hit the floorboards
with a thud.
“Take that animal away from me!” Neeve bellowed;
a look of black hatred on her contorted face. “Get it out! Get rid of it! Kill it! Get it out of this
Having exhausted herself with this demonstration of rejection
and disgust, Neeve fell back on the pillows, closed her tearful eyes, and rubbed the wet hair off her face as she fell into
a deep sleep.
Old Nurse Sweeny took the baby out of the room, and sent for
a wet nurse to provide it with some breast milk.
As a result, I escaped certain
death, in those first few moments of my life on earth!
Let me give you
a rest break here. That was a difficult birth; and as I’ve said before, I am not a sadist; and I do not wish to
overload you with distress.
So let us take a break by noting that, just as
the Cullen boys decided it was none of their business, and moved on up the hill, a strange swishing noise announced the arrival
of a ring of white cloud, about four feet in diameter, which inserted itself through the wall of the right hand room, like
a periscope seeking information from beyond.
It is said that there was some
UFO activity around the cottage that night, and that this had been going on for some time. Some have even suggested
that aliens were observing the Flynn farm.
“How likely is that?”
scoffed old Sam Oliver. “There must be more interesting parts of the cosmos that need investigating than old Mrs
Flynn’s rundown farm”.
His small crowd of cronies laughed heartily.
10. A strange visitation…
A circle of wispy cloud, about four feet across, had inserted itself through the wall
of the right-hand room, hours before the birth occurred.
aliens are peering into the room at the various goings on.
doesn’t look very hopeful”, says the big yellow one – identified as Inspector Sappakawa. His face
looks like a cross between a dog and a frog. His body is more humanoid; six feet tall, and about 150 pounds from webbed
hands to webbed feet.
“They certainly don’t behave like
advanced life-forms, right enough”, says Kapatain Suttee Mala.
Suttee Mala is a little, blue, furry creature, with three fingers on each hand, three eyes, including one in the
middle of his forehead, and a little ball of orange, frizzy hair in the middle of his head, about the size of a tennis ball.
He’s Sappakawa’s research assistant, and not a particularly helpful one.
“That’s not really the problem”, says Sappakawa. “They don’t have to be advanced.
They just have to provide us with a way into understanding them, and I’m not sure we have enough to go on here”.
“So that’s the end of our mission then”, says Suttee Mala.
“Why would you say that?” asks the inspector.
“Well. We got nowhere in the place south of Berlin, after observing the
Baumgärtner family for four trimastruls. We got nowhere in the place west of Paris. We flopped in the village north of Madrid; and in the hamlet east
of London. And here we are, south of Dublin, and it’s not looking good, as you say!”
Sappakawa rolled his eyes in despair. At least Suttee Mala has kept him company
for the past four years – as they sit, day after day, in a spaceship in the outer Balaffian asteroid belt, staring at
an invasive viewing screen. From Berlin to Wicklow, Suttee Mala has kept him company; though the quality of that company
leaves much to be desired.
“Get professor Valises on the turling
portette”, said Sappakawa, crossly.
Suttee Mala walks across
the room and sits in front of the big komputa screen, and connects some plugs and sockets on a control panel. Then he
turns some knobs, and pulls a couple of levers. The screen hums and buzzes, and an older blue, furry face appears on the screen.
“Valises”, says this older man, with long white hair like a judge’s
“Professoré!” says Suttee Mala. “Inspector
Sappakawa wishes to confer with you”.
says the professor.
The screen flickers and splits in two.
The yellow dog-frog face of Inspector Sappakawa appears alongside the little blue professor with the three piercing eyes.
“Hail, professor”, says the inspector.
“Hail”, says the professor. “What news?”
“It’s almost as bad as London, but not quite!”
“So tell me the good news”, says the professor.
baby boy has just been born into a very violent family. The mother tried to knock him from the midwife’s arms,
and she has totally rejected him. He’s been given to a wet nurse to take care of him, and it’s not clear
if his mother will ever accept him.”
the good news?!” says the professor, shocked.
here’s my thinking”, says Sappakawa. “If he is rejected he may live or die. If he dies, our
mission here is over. I will feel obliged to quit. But if he lives, we have two possibilities. One: He may
be adopted by the wet nurse, or somebody else, in which case we can follow him to monitor whether his rejection at birth is
registered; and if it is registered, did it function as a lifetime script, such as ‘Do not exist!’, or ‘Self-destruct:
you are not wanted!’.”
“And the second possibility?”
asks the impatient professor.
“Secondly: His mother relents
and takes him back, and raises him. If this happens, does she inflict the family violence upon him, and how does this
affect his psychological journey? Does she add to the script (to not exist) any life script injunctions
which we can monitor”.
“This is not good, Inspector Sappakawa”,
says the professor. “It’s beginning to look as if I will be retiring as a total failure who has spent more than
one hundred earth years discovering absolutely nothing about any psychological principle whatsoever!”
“I’m so sorry, Professoré”, says Sappakawa. “I will
redouble my efforts. I will do my best for you. I promise!”
The screen goes blank. The professor has pulled a cable out of a socket on his own desk. He is feeling
dejected and annoyed by the ongoing frustrations, and the apparent failure of his mission.
11. One year later…
Inspector Sappakawa continues to monitor the situation with the O’Beeve family. He sends regular reports
to Professor Valises, in which he tries to sound as positive and hopeful as he can. He reports on these developments:
Neeve, Owen and Caitlin return to their farm and get on with their lives as before.
They leave Daniel with Neeve’s sister, Tara. Tara is married to Terry O’Leary, the blacksmith in Crumble,
and Neeve intends for Daniel to be kept by Tara and Terry.
months later, Neeve experiences a deep, postnatal depression, and the doctor tells her it’s probably grief at the loss
of her son. After several days struggling with this idea, Neeve decides she wants Daniel back; goes to her sister Tara
with this news; there’s a big fight, and Neeve has to snatch Daniel and run with him to the pony and trap in which Owen
is waiting, and Owen has to wrestle with Tara to get her away from grabbing Daniel out of Neeve’s hands.
Owen loses the farm; has to work for a mad landlord who bullwhips him. He then finds
work in the city as a gardener; and so, when Daniel is nine months old, the family moves to Cocklestown, on the fringes of
When Daniel is twelve months old, Inspector Sappakawa spots something
really interesting; reports it to Professor Valises; and professor Valises writes a new research proposal.
Just when Professor Valises thinks his
career is over - depressingly, disappointingly - he gets the call that tells him his project on Planet 3EX771 (or Earth) has
been approved. Quite suddenly, he’s got a credible research plan; and a reasonable chance of making a significant
contribution to the Intergalactic Federation’s understanding of human psychology:
Professor Nuveen Valises rubs his little blue face with his multidextrous, three-fingered hands, and stares at the
folder on his little desk. He’s coming to the end of a one-hundred hour shift, and he’s feeling tired but
excited. Outside the window of his intergalactic exploration starship, two smaller ships are approaching. These
will be the two psychologists who had been assigned to his new project.
presses the button on his chest which reverses his wheels, and then turned the knob which swivels him around to face the komputa
screen behind him. He does not think of himself as being wheelchair bound, because his wheels had been fitted as prostheses
when he had his unfortunate accident during the final year of his doctoral research on the neuronal structures of the Koblar
people from the planet Abalasina. (He hadn’t realized that the gas they were pumping was highly explosive, and he created
a spark by striking two rocks together!)
For most of his career,
he’s been researching the brain structures of all of the different sub-species of homo sapiens, homo pulvexis, pove
ligarto and cabasis ovinus. These were the only kinds of sentient beings with enlarged brains in the known universe –
until recently. And the only paltry thing that he had ever been able to demonstrate, in his entire post-doctoral research
career, is that all of the advanced sentient beings in the known universe can be divided into two types: those whose whole
life is dictated by their genes, hormones, and other chemicals, which cannot be altered by environmental factors; and those
whose whole life is dictated by the culture into which they are born, which cannot be predicted from their genes, hormones
and electro-chemical analysis.
But now, in his one hundred and fiftieth
year, just at the point where he was due to retire, a disappointed member of the Klimmantz race, he was suddenly back in business.
His chief research assistant, Kalata, had been experimenting with a directable wormhole technology, and she had accidentally
focussed in upon a strange blue-green planet in the Nove quadrant of the Palatine galaxy. She referred some of her observations,
of life on Planet 3EX771, to Professor Valises, who quickly concluded that something very strange was happening on this planet.
Against all expectations, it seemed that the environment was shaping the genes of the subjects they observed. That genes
and environment interacted in completely unpredictable ways.
discovery led Professor Valises to write a research proposal, which resulted in Inspector Sappakawa and his assistant, Suttee
Mala, being sent to planet 3EX771 (Earth), to try to firm up a research proposal, which would be directed by the Professoré.
two approaching spaceships have now disappeared from his view, and the professor can hear the great hisses of gas discharged
by the docking process, fifteen stories above his head. He is so excited it feels as if the seven-chamber pump in his
chest will burst with glee.
…End of extract.
All of the material is copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne and
the Institute for CENT.
part of this material may be used in any way, recorded, stored or transmitted or communicated, without the explicit written
permission of Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT.
 An Intergalactic Federation ‘trimastrul’ is roughly equal to 3.25 Earth months; so four trimastruls is equal
to 13 months; and 13 months is the standard accounting period for research projects.
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Copyright (c) 2015
– The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne
from Chapter 9 – by Daniel O’Beeve
“This idea of innate goodness and
badness is reminiscent of the Christian concept of ‘original sin’ (or the innate tendency towards evil) and ‘the
state of grace’ (which, it was said, we could achieve, with the help of God). However, the CENT theory does not
rely upon God or the Devil, but rather on innate tendencies towards pro- and anti-social behaviours on the part of the normal
human child. Sigmund Freud had a similar distinction – the distinction between the Life urge (or Eros) and the
Death urge (or Thanatos), which he believed were fundamental drivers of human behaviour.”
Dr Jim Byrne, CENT Paper No.25
1. Stories of leaving home (3)…
Between Don Quixote motivations and Stephen Daedalus’s posturing, there is a vast
range of reasons for leaving home, and, since mine does not reside at either extreme, it must be somewhere in the middle.
But what was it?
The image that comes to mind is one of an uncomfortable mole,
half blind and half asleep, who feels increasing discomfort with his burrow. And so he finds it in himself to shuffle
away to a new spot where perhaps a more comfortable burrow might be found. I do not think it was any clearer, or nobler,
or more energetic than that; and certainly lacked any of the (declared) nobility of Stephen Daedalus’s motivation.
Nor was it as ridiculous or laughable or insane as Don Quixote’s.
given that I was half-asleep at the time, perhaps I knew nothing of my true motives for weighing anchor, and taking to the
Irish Sea on a cattle boat, in the warm summer of 1964.
2. Involved with Belinda
It was wonderful having a relationship with
Belinda – though I did not think of it as ‘a relationship’ at that time. I did not think of it as
anything. I only had feelings: emotions. Like happiness; joy; ecstasy! (Doubt and fear, and worse,
would come later).
Every morning I left her bed, went back to my own place,
next door, got cleaned up, had breakfast in the dining room, and went to work.
evening, after my main meal, I left my boarding house and went to see Belinda, and we spent the evening watching TV, smoking
cigarettes, talking, having supper, going to bed, making love. The making love bit was the briefest, but most enjoyable
bit of the evening for me.
Then, after about six weeks, Belinda told me she
had been transferred from day shift to evening shift at the hotel bar where she worked. I was very upset. She
said I could have a key, and I could come around and watch TV until she got home, and then we could have supper and go to
Now my evenings were very lonely. I would sit in Belinda’s
flat all evening and wonder what she was doing in work; who she was serving; and what she said to them.
Several evenings I got so jealous that I walked down the front and stood opposite her hotel. I could see in
through the windows of the bar, but I could not see very much of what was going on. I was afraid to go in, just in case
she was angry with me for checking up on her. But my mood was black, and I was very unhappy.
“This is a very bad sign”, said Professor Valises.
“Because he’s so jealous?”, asked the kolonel.
“No”, said the professor. “Because he senses that the end is nigh.”
“How can you say that?” asked Dr Kala. “How can you know the end is nigh?”
“Because Belinda works evenings to get away from Daniel”, answered the professor.
“She’s already bored with the relationship. That’s what my experience of watching humans tells me”.
“But surely Daniel would notice if she was bored; and do something about it,”
says Dr Kala
“I don’t think we’re talking about the
same ‘Daniel’ here”, smiles the professor. “Daniel is passive and largely non-conscious.
He has no idea what is happening. He is having insecure feelings because his situation IS insecure! But he does
not know how to process the feelings, or to track them back to any thoughts he might have about the relationship.”
“But what can be done?” asks the kolonel.
“There is nothing to do,” said the professor, “but to watch this tragedy unfold!”
3. My life begins to unravel…
One Saturday morning, the air compressor failed at the dental manufacturing company, and
my team was sent home early, because you cannot test pneumatic drills in the absence of compressed air.
I took the bus back into Blackpool, intending to surprise Belinda. But it was me who was surprised. I
got off the bus on the prom and walked back to Beaufort Avenue. As I turned into the street, I saw an Australian friend
of Tandy’s – called Karl – coming down the steps of Belinda’s building. When he saw me he smiled
awkwardly, looked away, and crossed the street.
I went up the steps and let
myself in to the building; up the stairs and opened the flat door. Belinda was lying on the sofa. When she saw
me she swung her feet onto the floor.
“What are you doing here so early?”
she asked, looking flustered.
“I was sent home early”, I said.
“But what was Karl doing here?”
“Oh, he was looking for Tandy,
and couldn’t remember his address. So he called here, and we talked for a while. Then he left to see if
Tandy was in the Blue Light bar”.
I was sulking; feeling very bad, in
my guts and my heart. I was suspicious, and it spoiled the atmosphere between us.
“You see?” asked the professor. “Daniel
has no words to express his feelings. He’s just like his father, Owen. He feels bad, but he says nothing.
He thinks nothing. He’s a feeling machine with no map of the territory in which he is stuck”.
“But he could learn to think; couldn’t he?” asks the kolonel.
“He could”, said the professor. “But probably not in time to save this
“People who engage in physical and emotional abuse of others
try to hide from the truth; but their victims need to unearth the truth and to confront it. The victims have to find
ways to assert their truth, against the reluctance and denial of their society. It can take a long time for the truth
to get out, but in the end it normally does. It may be delayed for a generation or more, but in the end it will come
out; indeed it has to come out to protect the children of the future from the passing on of historic damage!”
Paddy-Brennan-ji, The Roots of all Suffering…
A few days later, Belinda told me that a very rich man at the Royal Hotel, where she worked,
had offered her a hundred pounds to go away with him for the weekend. I was appalled. I was speechless.
She felt the chill from me, and said: “I told him ‘no’, of course”.
And that was the end of that.
I feel sick in
my stomach, increasingly so.
The winds of change…
One night, Belinda was late getting back from the
Royal Hotel, and so I went to bed on my own. This was about the third or fourth time she was particularly late coming
home. I was in emotional turmoil.
We had been together about eight weeks.
During the first four, we made love every night. Then we had about two weeks of twice a week. Then for the past
ten days or more, she had been quite distant, preoccupied, and cool.
I slept for a while, then I heard her come in. She did not switch the light on. She got undressed quickly, in
the dark, and was scrambling across me, to get to her side of the bed, which was up against a wall, when I switched on the
bedside lamp. Looking up at her, I could see a big, dark patch on the left side of her neck.
I sat up, as she got herself between the sheets.
that mark on your neck?” I asked her.
“Oh, a customer leaned over
the bar and bit my neck”, she told me.
I got out of bed and got dressed.
Meanwhile she turned her face to the wall, and looked as if she intended to sleep. I collected my things from around
the flat: a couple of shirts; a spare toothbrush and some shampoo. Some underwear and socks. A towel. I
wrapped everything in the towel and sat in the armchair by the window.
I sat there, a waterfall of feelings coursed through my body and mind, like an avalanche of razor blades, cutting to shreds
every positive feeling I have ever had.
I think I dozed from time to time, but
mostly I was awake that night, feeling very sick in my body and my mind.
the sun came up, and I stood up. I felt as if I’d been kicked around a football pitch all night.
I dropped her flat key on her coffee table, and left the flat very quietly.
whose mother and father do not actively love them is likely to conclude that they should never have been born; that they are
just a trial to others. They notice how much they irritate their fathers and mothers; how much they disappoint or frustrate
their teachers; how they are not liked by their peers. The child who is not loved does not feel real, solid, genuine
or worthwhile. Their lives are cold and dead, like an ice cube in the heart!”
Paddy-Brennan-ji, The Roots of all Suffering…
5. Thinking back…
Today, in 2015, as I read back through that section of my story, I am shocked by the lack
of ‘soundtrack’. It’s like watching a silent movie, in a theatre in which the piano player has gone
for a coffee break, and all we see are black and white images, about which we have to wildly guess their meanings and implications.
The lack of description of the effect that the ‘love bite’ had upon my thoughts and feelings is a huge deficit.
This is clearly a result of my cultural deprivation; my lack of familiarity with literature; with the language of love and
In fact, it was not until I began to read Helen Macdonald’s
biography – H is for Hawk - about how she coped with the death of her father, that I began to acquire a little
of the language that is needed to put back the soundtrack of that part of my life.
Helen’s mother phoned her to say her father had died, “a kind of madness drifted in”, for Helen. And
something like that happened for me. A kind of madness seized my heart and my mind, and tugged me into a pit of despair
– a pit in which I had long dwelled as an infant, and as a young child. Like Helen, my madness wasn’t ‘mad
madness’, it was a close cousin; a kind of madness designed to keep me sane. To defer the processing of reality
because to let it into my consciousness would rip my mind to shreds and leave me a babbling fool, kneeling in the gutter pleading
for my mother to come and rescue me.
As Helen writes: “Time didn’t
run forwards any more. It was a solid thing you could press yourself against and feel it push back…”
This is equivalent to there being no time anymore. Just this frozen moment of horror. A frozen instant in which
the oncoming train has hit my fragile body, but I have not been reduced to a splash of red and gore on the tracks –
I was locked inside this timeless/spaceless madness of despair; of sudden,
unmistakable, irredeemable grief at the hugest loss imaginable. Only a piercing scream the size of Blackpool, aimed
at God, which went on forever, could possibly express what I could (but would not) feel!
Of course there was an image, inside my mind, which the reader could not see. A little flower that had sprung
up in the barren desert of my heart had been cruelly crushed – extinguished – destroyed. But in its death
agony it scalded and seared every avenue that led to my five senses. I was bereft. Naked before a storm of pain.
It was so intense my mind shut down – down into a kind of mild madness – a madness of dissociation.
The little blue bear fell to his knees
in the middle of Belinda’s bedsitting room. His mouth fell open. His eyes were popped wide. He could
not believe what he was seeing. He reached inside his chest and held his heart, to stop it jumping out of his body.
His hand was trembling. He thought he had seen and felt all the worst pains that the world could throw at him, in the
secret chambers of his mind. But this was the worst!
End of extract…
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This is the
end of the free extracts from ‘Obedience and Revolt’, by Daniel O'Beeve
There is a total of 30chapters
to be experienced and digested.
How will the curious boy escape? What will become of the little white goat? And the little blue bear?
And will Daniel ever get beyond re-living his dysfunctional childhood in his painful adult relationships?
Will Professor Valises’
research project come to a sticky end?
Buy the book to find out.
Watch this space!
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