April 2013 archive

Crash, bang and bingle.

Most times when I set off in my car
I contemplate the possibility of an accident.  It’s standard for me, a typical thought – today might be
the day on which I crash. 
In the thirty years plus that I
have been driving I have endured a number of bingles.  And yesterday’s was no exception, a bingle and worst of all it
was my fault. 
I took a short cut through a few
narrow streets around the corner from my house as I routinely do, my thoughts
ahead of myself.  I did not notice
the car on my right as I turned left. 
The damage to both cars was minimal
but enough to make an insurance claim, on my policy of course.  It was my fault.  The fellow into whose car I had
collided established that fast.  No
sooner was he out of his car than he asked a woman standing nearby to be his
witness. 
My hands shook as I filled out the
details on a sheet of paper he provided. 
He was unshaken it seemed to me and when I asked if he had insurance he
said yes, but did not know with whom. 
‘The wife takes care of that
stuff.’ 
Perhaps that’s why he was
unshaken.  The wife might be the
one to get annoyed about the damage to the car.  The wife might be annoyed that some stupid woman wasn’t
looking where she was going and the wife might then have to deal with the
inconvenience of getting the car fixed.  
At least she won’t have to pay.  Small consolation. 
Am I trying to shift the blame here
by noticing this? 
I’ve been in both positions,
bingles that have been my fault and bingles that were not.  In any case the worst of it, besides
paying the excess and watching my annual premiums go up, is the inconvenience
of having to get the car off for repairs and doing without a car for however
many days it takes.  
The worst of it for me is the sheer
humiliation.  The sense of being a
dunderhead, an uncoordinated klutz. 
‘No self recriminations,’ my
husband said to me, kindly I thought. He who rarely has such accidents.  ‘There’s no point in going
over it.  That’s why you have
insurance’.  And as the insurance person said when I phoned to make a claim, ‘At
least no one was hurt.’ 
All this rationalisation helps of
course but it does not take away from my sense of humiliation, and the ripple
of anxiety that still runs through me after the event.  The memory of that loud crash, still
ringing in my head. 

My chopped-off penis

At the back of the East Camberwell
railway station there is a track that runs through a concrete grey underpass
out onto the edge of a cliff that overlooks the railway tracks.  This path begins its journey at
Canterbury Road, cuts through the slope of the park, down past the electricity
output station and then onto a narrower path that runs all the way to the Camberwell
shopping centre and Burke Road. 
I have not been on this track since
I was a child but I reckon it’s still there and I have it in my mind that I
must re-walk this track soon. 
I was with my sister and two of my
brothers on our way to the shops when the thought occurred to me, the thought
more of a question: what must it be like to have a penis? 
And no sooner had this question
troubled me than I imagined my imaginary penis being cut off.  Just like that.  Blood everywhere in great spurts and no
one to clean it up except me in my imagination.  What a relief it was then to be a girl with no excess bits
to cut off. 
I had not yet encountered Freud or
his notions of penis envy but when I did read about this concept I wondered if
my childhood fantasy could indeed point to my own penis envy or was it
something else?
In those days I cannot remember
even knowing the name for penis, or for vagina or for anything else down
there.  We did not talk of such
things in my family.  So I write
about this memory now looking back with the authority of an adult.  Back then notions of body and body
parts both terrified and enthralled me.
One of my daughters has recently
pointed out this thing called ‘crip’ theory.  I had not heard of it before.  The notion that we are all disabled in one way or another by
virtue of being human and that it is necessary therefore to acknowledge this in
some way. 
In the past the pressure has always
been on us, especially those who write essays at school, at university and the
like, to seek the perfect and complete product. 
Crip theory argues in favour of
uncertainly and incompleteness.  It
argues for the messy realities of our lives, for the fact that we can only know
things in incomplete ways and a realisation that it’s okay to include our
uncertainties in our writing without feeling the pressure to be conclusive in
our work. 
Needless to say I enjoy this
notion.  It gives me permission to
continue on my messy way, throwing up ideas that come to me seemingly from
nowhere like my fantasy of my soon to be chopped off penis and I do not need to
fit it into any category beyond the memory that it once was.  

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