A Song for Tony

by Michael Skywood Clifford

My ex wife had emotional diarrhoea. Her sense of empathy was extreme. When a racehorse on TV jumped a fence she would go over with it ending up behind our sofa. We married because she was a vicar's daughter yet we divorced because she was an atheist. She was a woman who instantly attuned to her own and other people's emotions. Me, I have always had emotional constipation. An emotional fist smacks my male psyche and eons pass before I fully feel the punch.

Have you ever heard crying that is real crying? I first heard it (and I haven't heard it many times) when my teenage sister, Tish, took a phone call; her friend was on the line. Tish was told that her boyfriend had committed suicide. Tish broke down as she took the call. I have never heard sadness like it. It was the wail of the bottomless pit. The lamenting went on and on, unstoppable. It was terrible and it creates a throb in my throat to recall it as I write. It should be make illegal to ever feel that sad…

I do respond with a physical reaction to emotional pain sometimes. I cried myself to sleep when the same sister, Tish, was dying. Tish was diagnosed with incurable cancer, had only weeks to live and was immediately moved to a hospice. Imagine how that must feel. She was only 35. I now get all knotted up trying to imagine her trying to UNDERSTAND she had only weeks to live and there was nothing anyone could do. As I write, I feel the emotions that I tried to repress then.

About six months later I remember waking up one morning, lying in bed. I found I was in no hurry to get up. Suddenly I was lacklustre, depressed, I had no desire. What was the point of doing anything when a young person like my sister – who had everything to live for – can be suddenly removed from the face of the Earth? It seemed so unjust. My mother never got over the death of her youngest. Parents never expect to see their children go before themselves. As we go along, we learn about life's contract yet we forget when we actually signed it.

Women are usually much more attuned to what is actually happening NOW. Emotions are allowed in instantly. It is my suspicion that men are suspicious of emotions and only allow these wooden horses to enter their psychological city slowly. When my father was found dead at the bottom of the stairs, a few hours after a family wedding, my wife and my sister were screaming, trying to be sick, crying, wailing. At the time, my older sister even had her face smacked by one of the police women because she was so hysterical. But it was me who found my father, the only one who actually saw him dead. It was me who called the police, called my brother in law, was accused by the police of murdering my father by pushing him down the stairs, me who went to the hospital, witnessed him in the mortuary. Yet that day I never said much nor did I shed a tear. In fact I didn't cry about my father that day, nor any day that ever followed. I did love him if there is any doubt.

Perhaps men are emotionally repressed, suffer a degree of autism – stoicism certainly – because of their natural tendency to be warrior like.

This article is sounding like a self revealing psychotherapy. Fine,  but that is actually not the point of it. Surprisingly it's point is celebratory; to celebrate the fun, joy and pleasure of a man who is no longer alive. That is what inspired this blog this morning. I started thinking about a man today and – typical of me – it is two years since he died and suddenly I miss him very much.

His name was Tony. He was my complete opposite in many ways. A salesman, a Tory, an atheist (not entirely), a brilliant engineering technician. We shared an experience of 1950s Catholic education and a long 70s musical history of playing in bands (not the same ones). And we both talked too much. He seems to be talking to me now – not in voices – but in an intuitive way.  I like that. Life is mystical, the secular society have completely forgotten that. Past generations really understood the mystical nature of humanity within its environs and apparent limitations.

Tony could always be found at early doors in the Constitutional Club. Between 5.30 and 7.30. He was an early doors bar-fly, chatting with his long term girlfriend Dina.

Tony could talk for England. Full of brilliant anecdotes, knowledge, intelligence and conversation. I used to confront him. He used to love rising to the bait. His roots were Irish Catholic. Mahon. He could talk the hind legs off a donkey. I would do anything to put his brakes on. Great fun.

He used to really hate me when I beat him at pool, which I did often. He was fantastically funny.

We enjoyed each others surrealism so much that we used to have weird phone calls.

I discovered that I could send multi-media messages on my mobile, so often I would send him an odd photograph with a voice message spoken in a Mickey Mouse voice. These messages were totally nuts but it used to make us both laugh! He got his own back but pronouncing on all his text messages the sound 'like' as 'loak'. This really caught on to a ludicrous degree. It ended up with this ludicrous text message:

This article was never completed. See below.

This article never completed. Why? Because I somehow felt I never could say what I wanted to say about Tony. Too much to say. Too many anecdotes. So MANY anecdotes!

He was one of the angels that I have been lucky enough to have met in my life. What a HEART he had. A fantastic chap.

The reason why I publish this now is because Tony came up tonight in a chat with Nigel. He was surprised and pleased to know I had attempted to write about Tony. The reason why I have never finished this aricle is because I felt I did not have the tools or ability to describe how much I loved and respected Tony. However Nigel made me realise that despite my poor tools the attempt was still worthwhile.

So I have decided to publish this unfinished and incomplete piece. For those who knew Tony forgive my incomplete piece.

Thanks Tony.






Culture, style and the arts, Modern life, Religious and philosophical

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