HOME

The street was the same as I remembered it. And the birds swooped as if to herald my return. So it was true, I hadn’t dreamed it. For a moment I stood and took in the beautiful cacophony of noise that I’d never fully appreciated before in all its ugly glory. The sun came out to shine on cue and its warmth informed me that I had now entered a safety zone for lost boys.

How can you know a place so well and yet feel that you are seeing it for the first time? If this is a dream and I awaken now I will be angry all day. Maybe all days.

I continue moving on further into it until I reach the gate no one ever closes, and the narrow cement path  leading to the apartment block steps I once knew so well I could climb them in the dark, and under the influence of too much life. This time there seems to be a lesson learnt in each step and greater effort needed to conceal the weariness of the outsider.

Halfway up I enter the glow from the first storey window that conspires to shine God-like behind the statue of Buddha as if even the universe is welcoming my return.

More steps and more weary remembrances of lessons learned and I am at the front door, knocking in a drum pattern of whimsy and familiarity.

After an eternity of seconds the door is opened and I see your smiling face as I remembered it from a long ago carefree time. Bright, loving and kind. I can now die in my footsteps and not be lost to wander and wonder.

I enter and am surrounded by the comfort of the greatest books and music ever written. Each word and note a friend of mine. And I sit at the empty table. Alone no more. Everything and nothing has changed as I take my place amongst it.

You ask me how I am. But there are no words to convey the miracle of ordained destiny.

For in that sheltered moment, I am home.

 

(C) Frank Howson 2017

Advertisements

ALL I KNOW IS THIS.

All I know is this. Politicians, mostly, stand for one thing, and one thing only – being elected.  Those who genuinely dare to make a difference and can’t be bought – are in danger of their lives. And will either be killed by a bullet or a smear campaign.

 

All I know is this. Jesus, whether he was the Messiah, the Son of God, a gifted rabbi, or just another madman in the wilderness, preached a message of love and forgiveness – regardless of the translations, the interpretations or the Chinese whispers – his message, and the price he paid for it, are worthy of my respect, and love.

 

All I know is this. Shakespeare has the perfect quote to describe any condition of human nature. So does Bob Dylan.

 

All I know is this. They no longer make films for mature audiences.

 

All I know is this. It is alright to love something – but you are damned if you love that thing too much.

 

All I know is this. Today we have at our fingertips on the internet more easily accessed information than any previous generation that inhabited this planet. And yet the ignorance level has never been higher.  Who the hell is Paul McCartney?  Go fuck yourself.

 

All I know is this. Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t shoot J.F.K and the men who did got away with it.

 

All I know is this. None of us have any real idea what’s happening in the world at the moment. We have been purposely misinformed for many years now because the only way to keep the public in line is to have them in a constant state of confusion and chaos. Oh, and hopefully, on drugs.

 

All I know is this. The War on Terrorism is as calculatingly and cynically futile and convenient as the War on Drugs.

 

All I know is this. Two of Hollywood’s greatest geniuses, or genii, Charles Chaplin and Orson Welles, were both run out of town. Does that tell you something?

 

All I know is this. Children’s theatre and pantomimes were the first introduction of many kids like me to the magical world of theatre. And once hooked on it we continued to go back in search of other magical nights. It built a whole future audience for stage shows. Sadly, what we knew as children’s theatre is now as dead as the Wicked Witch. Ding dong.

 

All I know is this. We owe more than we know to The Beatles. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

All I know is this. The more you see of Life, the less you think you know.

 

All I know is this. Humility is the open road to God.

 

All I know is this. More lives had been lost or damaged through manmade religions than all the wars since the beginning of time. God is great. But his organized fan clubs are run by the ignorant and the flawed.

 

All I know is this. You can’t judge somebody by the colour of their skin, their gender, the size of their wallet, or their religion.  We can only truly be judged on the fabric of our spirit.

 

All I know is this. You can’t make somebody love you.

 

All I know is this. Success comes to those who persist. If you lean against a closed door long enough eventually it flies open.

 

All I know is this.  Some of the old clichés have become clichés because they hold the truth. Everything in moderation. If you eat, drink, do, or take too much of anything it will harm you.

 

All I know is this. Anthony Newley was a genius that the world has largely forgotten now.

 

All I know is this. Everything you learn you learn in the first five years of your life. Then it may take a lifetime to overcome that.

 

All I know is this. Any battle is hard won.

 

All I know is this. Much more is achieved by a smile than a threat.

 

All I know is this. Every mistake we make is an opportunity to learn something. Those of us who don’t learn are destined to repeat it over and over again. Some, sadly, are stuck in Groundhog Day all their lives.

 

All I know is this. You never lose a friend. They live on in your heart forever.

 

All I know is this. We’re not here for long, so be kind to each other.

 

 

 

(c) Frank Howson 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBER

Remember the days before ipods and iphones when we actually took the time to talk to each other? Really talk.

Remember when you could go out to lunch as an escape from the pressures of work and for an hour could unwind and enjoy a meal without being interrupted by a phone call about something that could obviously wait an hour?

Remember when love was something magical and special and people didn’t take each other for granted? Or for a ride. We all rejoiced when there was suddenly free love. Trouble is, like most things, people don’t value things that come too easily.

Remember when music was on vinyl and an album was big and had a beautiful cover that actually looked like a work of art and we carried those albums around with us to friends’ houses as a badge of pride? They had cover notes. They listed what musicians played on what track. What studio each track was recorded at? Who engineered? What time of day or night had it been recorded. Who had written each song? Who arranged it? Who mixed it? The lyrics. It was important to us to know all these things and to respect those who had participated on our beloved recording. It was difficult to skip tracks so it made you listen to every song and appreciate an album as a whole. Now, music has gotten smaller in so many ways. People download things in inferior sound quality and don’t give a damn about who played on it and who else contributed. Now it’s all about beats.

Remember when people used to know their neighbours? And actually care about them?

Remember when a dog was a child’s best friend and there were so many hills to climb and games to play in the open air? It taught us to use our imaginations. Without a computer screen, we could imagine we were Zorro, Davy Crockett, Robin Hood or Geronimo and play in parks for hours having the time of our life. And were safe.

Remember when the smallest gesture was appreciated and treasured?

Remember when we believed that our vote counted for something? This was in the days before the Whitlam sacking (a Prime Minister elected by the public and dismissed by one man), and Kevin Rudd (another man elected by the public but dismissed by his own party).

Remember when our innocence was lost from three bullets fired in Dallas? A reminder that the world was not a safe place for those who dreamed big dreams.

Remember when your parents took the time to read you bedtime stories?

Remember when an ice cream and a trip to the movies made you feel like the richest kid in town?

Remember when Christmas was spent with all those long gone family members and we laughed as if there would be no tomorrow?

Remember when the days seemed so long that you could easily fit into each one everything you had to do?

Remember the first time you heard the Beatles and they sounded like nothing you’d ever heard before? It’s hard for younger people to appreciate their full impact on the way things were. Music, hair, clothing, and attitudes changed overnight. Or so it seemed.

Remember when you were small and played with children with different coloured skin and didn’t even notice?

Remember the excitement of each birthday party shared with your friends?

Remember the smell of your mum’s cooking? It seemed like she was some kind of magician. She always knew what you wanted.

Remember when each day was your friend and another chance for an adventure? Where did we lose that enthusiasm for life? I lost it for a whole decade but have worked hard to regain it. Be thankful for each day no matter what you are going through. Each day is a gift. If you treat it as such it will be.

Remember when radio stations played any and every style of music as long as they thought it was a hit? It was such a weird and exciting mix of Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Louis Armstrong, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Anthony Newley, The Shadows, Bob Dylan, The Seekers, Bobby Darin, Paul Mauriat, The Kinks, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey,  Janis Joplin, etc., etc., etc.

Remember when people read books and writers became celebrities?

Remember when Bing Crosby was the voice of Christmas?

Remember romance?

Remember Muhammad Ali in his prime when he glided like a proud eagle in flight?

Remember reading the Old Testament and being scared because God seemed so pissed off all the time? In the New Testament He had, like us all, mellowed by time.

Remember crying over the loss of your first love?

Remember when people took the time to write and post Christmas cards?

Remember Noddy in Toyland?

Remember when the circus came to town?

Remember watching man set foot on the moon and knowing nothing would be the same again? It was scary and exciting all at the same time. In the words of Bob Dylan, “Man has invented his doom, first step was touching the moon…”

Remember when it wasn’t painful to remember?

 

(c) Frank Howson 2014

NOTE TO A SON

1. Make sure you brush your hair.

2. Smile at old people, it may be the only smile they get all day.

3. Learn everything you can, then forget it and follow your instincts.

4. Play Bob Dylan really loud.

5. Respect the past, but don’t live there.

6. Never take no for an answer, even the experts can be wrong.

7. Be kind to children, the one thing everybody deserves is a nice childhood.

8. Watch movies that make you feel something.

9. Believe it or not, your parents were once your age and went through all the same stuff. Sometimes you just need to remind them of that.

10. Make sure you acknowledge the homeless people on the street. There but for the grace of God go us all. And you may be the only person who looks into their eyes all day.

11. The world is a scary place. The world is a friendly place. It awaits your choice.

12. A lot can be achieved with a smile. It’s more powerful than a gun as long as it’s sincere.

13. At least once a day stop and give thanks for what you have.

14. If you succumb to self-pity, count your friends and you’ll realise how fortunate you are.

15. Be bold and mighty forces join you. Nobody ever achieved anything without risk.

16. Make time to occasionally watch the dawn of a new day. It’s in that silence that we can hear God’s breath.

17. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday.

18. Hug those you love. It would be a shame if they never realised how much you appreciated them.

19. Make sure you fall in love with a person and not a concept.

20. Don’t try and change those you love. Love them for who they are. And ask the same in return.

21. It’s true that you have to pass through hell to fully appreciate heaven.

22. Treat every day as a gift. That’s why they call it the present.

23. Remember your wise words to your dad once when he was passing though hell, “Don’t worry dad, it’ll be alright when you grow up to be a child”. I’ve never forgotten that advice. Don’t you ever forget it either.

24. How good a friend you are defines who you are.

25. It’s only money. Don’t worship false Gods.

26. Love your mother.

27. Try to get a good night’s sleep when you can. You’ll need it.

28. Whatever happens happens for a reason. Try and learn a lesson from it so you don’t have to go through it again.

29. Treat everyone as family until they prove different.

30. Don’t trust anything that comes too easy.

31. Create, don’t destroy.

32. Don’t be cruel.

33. Don’t be mean-spirited.

34. Don’t be envious.

35. Love this moment. It will not come again.

36. Don’t be afraid to occasionally be silly. It’s good for you.

37. Learn to laugh at yourself. It saves others doing it.

38. Be humble but never forget who you are. Everyone deserves to be respected. Remind the less courteous if they forget that.

39. Don’t allow people filled with darkness into your life. Some will delight in bringing you down.

40. Always tell the truth. A lie is a timebomb that will eventually explode in your face.

41. Be respectful to women. They have it tough enough.

42. At the heart of everything is the truth. And people will always respond to it.

43. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Or directions.

44. Don’t become a slave to anything.

45. Don’t surrender your pride, you may never get it back.

46. Stand up for what is right. Even if it’s an unpopular thing to do.

47. Don’t let someone else’s trip become yours.

48. Appreciate every act of kindness done for you. And try and pay it forward.

49. Walk in the park occasionally and observe everything.

50. Angels sometimes bring us messages – make sure you don’t dismiss them.

51. Love sees no colour. Love knows no age. You fall in love with someone for who they are, not the colour of their skin or the number of their years.

52. Never make a promise you can’t keep. Your word is your bond and a handshake should be the tightest contract in the world.

53. A lot of people will be your friend as long as you’re doing what they want. If, the moment it becomes about you, you lose them – they were never your friends to begin with.

54. Never ever forget, for one second, how much you’re loved. You were made from love, you are love, now share that love.

(c) Frank Howson 2014

JACK AND ME

The sun would come sneaking to my little bed
And I would arise after rubbing my head
To go fetch my Crockett, I must’ve been three
But I still remember the days, Jack and me

Was more than a father, much more than I knew
When the years took their time and the summer was new
When we lived to stay young and thought we were free
Now you must remember us two, Jack and me?

We’d walk the long seashore and clean up the beach
When I was a child that no schoolroom could teach
But he would understand, so wise he could see
That we’d stay together for good, Jack and me

And now he has left me though stands by my side
He now knows the peace that the heavens could hide
But we’ll be together like it used to be
And again they’ll all say…
There goes Jack and me

(c) Frank Howson 1973

I REMEMBER GRANDMA

I was going to be named Peter. Well, that’s the name my parents had selected for me. That is, until my grandmother arrived at our house to view the new arrival. She was carrying a brand new baby’s bath. My parents, who were struggling to make ends meet with two children let alone three, were most appreciative of this expensive gift.

“His name’s Frank, y’know!” declared Nana.

“No, it’s Peter”, stated my equally determined mother.

“I just read a book and the hero in it was Frank, and he was such a lovely person.”

But my mother held her ground.

“Anyway, it would make me very happy if you named him Frank after your poor dead brother who’s no longer with us.” Ah, Nana played her trump card!

But no, I was still to be Peter.

That’s when Nana ran into the street, followed by the rest of the family, except me who waited patiently in the front room oblivious of the power struggle I had unintentionally caused. Outside, I was later told, my Nana held the baby bath as high as she could lift it above her head, threatening to throw it into the gutter and smash it into a thousand pieces unless she had her way.

That’s how I came to be known as Frank.

Later, we got a dog. He became Peter.

Probably the earliest memory I still retain is sitting on my Nana’s knee in our little kitchen and having her read Noddy books to me. She was a wonderfully spirited, stubborn Irish woman who possessed a wicked sense of humor. Right up until the end of her life she still spoke with a strong accent. She was the only living grandparent I had. For a time.

According to my mother, Nana and I would fight over the children’s books and which ones were going to be read. I’d inherited some of her fire.

I wish I could remember more about her than the handful of memories I have. Although one’s memory may fade with the years it seems the heart does not. To this day a special bond exists and I still have a framed photograph of her in my room. From all accounts, I was the apple of her eye. A hero named Frank. A lost son returned. I was too young to realize the heavy responsibility that had been placed on my small shoulders.

The last time I saw her alive, we had been on a family outing. When she exited the car in front of her house I cried and refused to let her go. My mother later said it was as if I knew I’d never see her alive again. Nana had to come back to the car three times to try and pacify me. Finally she said she couldn’t come back anymore and, with a smile and a wave, was gone.

I still remember the screaming at our front door that evening. Ken Redman, who boarded at my Nana’s house, was hysterical. “It’s the old lady! I think she’s dead!”

Everyone ran into the street and followed Ken. They forgot about me but I ran too until someone scooped me up into their arms.

I still remember toddling down that dark corridor towards the room full of crying, screaming and moaning. How could you forget that? I nervously peeked in and saw my Nana on her bed. Uncle Alf was soaping her fingers to get her rings off. No one else knew what to do except scream. The room was filled with grown-ups and regret. Didn’t they realize she was only sleeping?

I knew that.

I was two years old.

We later found out that she’d arrived home to get her son Bill’s dinner but he’d told her he was going out and not to bother. Disappointed at the thought of being on her own that night, she wearily took her hat off and told him to have fun.

It was several hours later Ken came home from the pub and found her.

The doctor said she’d had a beautiful death – whatever that means. The cut on her face had indicated that she’d died before she hit the floor otherwise she’d have put her hands out to break the fall.

****************************************************

(c) Frank Howson 2014

SPEECH FROM “THE FINAL STAGE.”

It was a familiar smell. In a familiar world. Trees. Streams. Fresh air. Green hills. Always something cooking. And the eight thirty-two day in, day out. Clever Daddy. But Mummy always won. Whispers down the hall. Sssh! Don’t wake the children. Tick tock, tick tock…Slipping away. Daddy goes to Paraguay and doesn’t come back. Terminal grief. Expulsion. No more readings from The Happy Prince. Don’t worry Mummy. I’ll be strong. I’ve got big dreams to keep us warm. Hold on, Mummy. I won’t disappoint you. I have burning ambition in my veins. Just like Daddy. And we shall rage on. Death shall have no dominion. Otherwise it’s all been for…nothing…

(c) Frank Howson 2007