Monday, September 26, 2005


"You want to trust the Doctors, their procedure is the best
But the last try was a failure and the intern was a mess
And they did the same to Matthew, and he bled 'til Sunday night
They're saying 'Don't be frightened', but you're weakened by the sight of it

It's funny. That track has never really meant anything to me. It's always just been 'The One with the Simple Synth Part', positioned between two great songs on one of my favourtie records. That's not to say I never liked the track, it just didn't get under my skin in the way, say, Falls to Climb has. However, the above lyrics pretty much sum up the events of the last week or so. In short, I've been presented with situations to which there are no real solutions. There's no chance of either reconciliation, or the current situation getting any better. Why should I be so arrogant as to assume I could make any form of difference, I hear you ask dear reader? Well, in my family I've always been the go-between, the mediator if you like, who listens to all of the different arguments and then helps people decide what the most amicable solution is for all involved. I suppose it's no wonder as to why I did a journalism degree; I was simply playing to my strengths.

Yet, when you're faced with problems concerning mental illness there is no solution, no matter how great you're hope in medical science is. You're simply presented with a situation where the person involved is just going to get worse, and gradually they'll fade in to their own world until they finally sleep. What makes it a lot worse, and adds to the feeling of helplessness, is seeing the person involved as a shadow their former self. In this instance, it refers to my grandfather: a veteran of the Second World War, a man who stood up and fought for what was right, and a proud man who wouldn't suffer fools. Just don't let him watch any repeats of old Python shows, that's all. What was moving about visiting him though was the way in which my Gran held herself around him. It was wrenching to watch her as, whilst she knew that he wouldn't be getting any better, she still treated him as though everything was OK, and still offered him the same affection she always has. It was a display of dignity that really got to me.

This is especially the case when you view it in the context of my sister, who has just walked out of her (very new) marriage after thirteen months for someone else. I'm not sure whether she got bored, but when asked why she simply spouted some sub-Cosmopolitan, sub-feminist nonsense that involved the phrase 'skin crawl' and that, it seems, is that. Endgame. Another government statistic in the making. However, as with most things with my sister, it's only when you scratch the surface that you get a more rounded sense of what's going on, and that's a whole different can of worms.

So as a result, hope is short in relation to my family, and that's a shame as it's a concept I value greatly. Just one look at some of my favourite media reflects this: from the lyrics disclosed above, to the attention-grabbing title of iDLEWiLD's debut record (Hope is Important), to the title of one of my favourite bands (Hope of the States), it's always there. Hell, look at the end of Shawshank! The reason the conclusion is so euphoric, and moving, is due to the hope it offers. Now by hope, I don't mean the futile, religous-based definition of the word (i.e. I hope that God exists),. Instead I am referring to the kind of hope that is devoid of notions of 'belief': hope that things will get better, hope for a brighter tomorrow, and that good things happen to good people. The only problem is that when faced with the knowledge that things have to get worse before they can get better, its not always easy to keep that hope.

The above lyrics come from a track called Hope on R.E.M.'s sublime record, Up. If you ever get the opportunity, it's well worth a listen.

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