Monday 24 March 2008

And his shed might inherit everything....

Howdy. Madness is often pretty beautiful, really, as far as I can tell. I love watching the seemingly illogical mental leaps that spazzoids can make without effort. It excites me. I love the sparks that can crackle and fly as their minds go full tilt, untrammelled by social or moral restraints, relentlessly battering against the imprisoning cage of reason. 

And creative genius, whilst by no means solely reliant on madness to thrive and flourish, will often be on nodding terms with at least some aspects of supposed insanity. They will have met at a party, perhaps, this genius and this madness. They will have exchanged numbers and longing glances and will know that either one of them can now call at any given time to frolic and rut and hurt the very hell out of each other. The possibility is there, in any event, and this is often more than enough.

So that's good.

Madness can also be grindingly mundane and depressing, though, idly contaminating and disfiguring the lives of those who come into contact with it. Not just the window-lickers themselves, please, but the (notionally sane) people left sweeping up the debris as the storm pirouettes straight into the arms of a no-nonsense hospital orderly. 

My uncle went drably mad the other week there. It’s not his first time as a certified maddo, right enough, and the issue is massively complicated by his life-long conversations with God and his thundering biblical denunciations of everyone but himself. And yet, whilst he had Jesus on board, this was tolerated as a fairly harmless, if charmless, nuisance. In fact, he had a group of willing cohorts in his fiercely unforgiving "church" in the north-east of Scotland. (Very kindly, and at the request of my uncle, they recently organised my grandmother's funeral. Less kindly, perhaps, their chosen minister glowered over the coffin and shouted at me and my sisters and our horribly sinning mum about the perils of not attending church. This, he hinted darkly, whilst looking down at our super quiet nonagenarian ex-granny, was quite probably of our doing. Wowser. That’s one mighty fine church you’ve got going there, Mr Preacher – where do I sign up?) I digress.

Anyhoo, lately he has started to fume quite luridly about Satan, as opposed to Jesus, and he no longer seems able to do his tax returns or the dishes. Nightmare. So, whilst he is strapped down in a secure unit, chuntering into the darkness about the road to hell and the shortness of women’s skirts, other people are required to go through his house and life to try to regain some order - lest he should ever feel able to return to either one of them.

He's been hoarding again. Doorways are blocked with wild mountains of stuff and paint is peeling off the damp walls. A tiny catastrophe has happened here. Every box, every labelled spoon, every dismantled radio; every little thing points towards a bewildered and frightened descent. Threatening letters to God and The Jews, a steak on the lawn and three mis-matching shoes. A tiny, tiny catastrophe. Hidden, sad, inelegant, banal, messy with a naked despair. And all of it, each last hopeless detail, so horribly, painfully small.

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