Monday, August 13, 2007

I am going to tell you a story

Once upon a time...


I met and began to date a man very desirable, who was arrested and went to prison very shortly after the relationship started. I used to visit him on Saturday and Sunday mornings, having to wake up early after a night out on the piss, the drunkenness still in me. I remember the humiliation and the reverse pride of having to leave my bag in a safe, of walking through a metal detector with my shoes in my hand, of waiting in the visitors' room with the other visitors. I remember the visits themselves, sitting opposite each other, separated by glass not all that high - we could easily have touched each other over it, but there were guards keeping an eye at every row of tables. Once, without warning, he tossed me his necklace, strung with a collection of amulettes, over the glass. I doubt it was the common direction of smuggling. Another time, when I was leaving and already walking across the prison grounds, he had made it back into his cell quickly enough to shout and wave to me from the little window. It wasn't the window in my picture, but one just like it, and I know which one it was.

I came to my senses after a few months and stopped going to see him. When he was released, he called me for a while and was once waiting for me outside my house. I kept the necklace for years, unable to throw it out or return it, but I think I finally binned it in the big clear-out before moving to the tropics. He was in for multiple rape.

The prison was in the heart of old Helsinki. Since then, it has been closed down and the building converted into a - hotel. The other day, I went and sat outside on the terrace of the hotel bar, drank a glass of white wine, and thought of the various stories of my life. They only play Elvis Presley in the bar. I had a necrophiliac love for him when I was ten and he was just dead. I know every one of his songs intimately.

53 comments:

trousers said...

...and what a story it is. So many possible questions - like, at what point did you know the offence he had been charged with?

But I don't want to pry too deeply since I think the telling of the story is enough in itself. The last paragraph is particularly good. Evocative stuff - thanks anna x

Anna MR said...

Hei housut - thank you. It's a funny old life, you know? Or as I view mine - many funny old lives. Glad you enjoyed this bedtime tale.

x

Kahless said...

Noswaith dda,
I understand that Elvis' anniversary is this week?

I, like trousers, will not pry though there are questions that I would ask otherwise.

But I will ask about the tropics. You seem well travelled. What countries have you lived in ?

NMJ said...

hey honey, i am not going to ask you any questions, you came to your senses, i am just glad of that. quite an image of him tossing the necklace over. i just can't help thinking that this is too nice to be a prison building, i guess the window bars have gone since it became a hotel.

x

Reading the Signs said...

If I didn't "know" you and this was just a story, then I would certainly be prying - for the story's sake, because it's a good one and raises questions and opens a chink into dark places where we cannot help but want to look. Having said this, stories sometimes withold information for good reasons and to be left with questions can sometimes be more satisfying than having everything answered and summed up.

But Why? said...

One of the things I love about this blog is never knowing what I'll find when I visit - whether it'll be poetic, ponderous, provokative, pictorial, perceptive, or the downright unfathomably puzzling. Or all of the above, which I feel applies to this post.

I think I can feel my brain melting...

Anna MR said...

Dr Why?, Tri Miksi? - you have just bought yourself out of the pickle your thoughtlessness (for awarding me with not only an award but also with praise) has got you. No more rehab, Butkins Mutta (yes, I know - I'm allowing your rich praise here to buy you a getaway card from the corrective action your rich praise there got you. That's because I can, you see, this being my bloggy. It's really very straightforward, you'll agree), you're a free blogger again.

That was a really nice thing to say. I think I'll have to have some teccie wizard (young NMJ, are you available?) to turn that quote into a wallpaper I'll paper my house with. And not just my bloggy house, either. No.

Thank you, Tohtori M.M?. Kiitos.

x

Anna MR said...

Signsikins - I love stories that don't tell all, at all. I do have one line that I might want to say here, in the comments, since there's been a few people not prying and I can consequently tell it freely without anyone feeling squirmy about having pried (pryed? Both look wrong. No matter). You can then tell me whether it ruins the story, or adds to it:

I knew all along. But at first, I didn't believe for a while, and then, didn't want to believe. For a while.

I look forward to your comment on this, my dear. Commas and full stops can be moved around, the sentiment is more complete here than its punctuated outer garment, so to speak.

mwah

x

trousers said...

"stories sometimes withold information for good reasons and to be left with questions can sometimes be more satisfying than having everything answered and summed up"

Reading The Signs - thank you, that's exactly what I wanted to convey but couldn't find the words with which to do so :)

Merkin said...

TugBoatAnnie, liked it on a number of levels.

Anna MR said...

Hei NMJ my pet - if you click on my signature here, you'll see another image I took the other day - no, two images. Neither are strictly speaking of the prison/hotel itself - but you'll see the old walls and a new view out. There weren't any bars in the windows then either, it was a low-security sort of place - in fact one of those where people who haven't been sentenced yet were kept (what in God's name are they called now? Remand prisoners? Fucked if I can remember).

I had a quick nose around inside as well, only in the downstairs restaurant. Maybe I should eat there once, what do you think?

xx

Anna MR said...

Kahless, fy ffrind, noswaith dda i ti also (this peeves me, I used to know what also is). How very cool of you to remember that Elvis has an anniversary coming up (so do I, but that's an entirely different matter). So it'll be thirty years since my first serious love affair without any hope. Interesting, indeed. I feel a blog post coming up. Oh dear. We'll need to warn Dr Why?, maybe.

I am not actually that well travelled, really - but since you asked, these are my places of abode, in order of appearance ( so to speak):

Helsinki, Finland
a small island off the Southern coast of Finland, quarter of a year every year for years
Athens, Greece
London, England, UK
three obscure villages in Pembrokeshire, Dyfed, Carmarthenshire, and South-West Wales (Gorllewin Dde Cymru), UK
Helsinki, Finland (repeating myself, what a bore)
Hilo, Hawai'i, USA
Helsinki, Finland (oh yawn, she really should try and get a life)

There a bit oddy, particularly as a collection, I'll freely admit.

x

Anna MR said...

(Oh bollocks - the "and" there is in the wrong place. It should read "...three obscure villages in Pembrokeshire, Dyfed, and Carmarthenshire, South-West Wales (Gorllewin Dde Cymru), UK". What a dork. Apologies.)
x

Anna MR said...

trousers, Merkin - you lads snuck in whilst I was writing... Hei and hello, and trousers, sorry but I think I might have ruined it all the very instant you were posting your comment praising Signs (the Praiseworthy). Um, yes. Sorry about that.

Merkin - I am glad you liked it. And I am doing a brilliant job of not letting show what I really think of being titled TugBoatAnnie. Aren't I clever now?

xx one each, boys

Reading the Signs said...

Am up much to late, just having a nose around. Am thinking on it, dearie, and will come back, commas and all.
Mwahhh and dxgmuu

Reading the Signs said...

Actually, I agree with Trousers that the telling of the story is enough, and about the lovely last para too.

Having been working on my own deathless (and rather deadly boring today) prose, I am almost mwahed out - but there's always one for you.

x

Anna MR said...

Signs my lovely - thank you, seriously, for taking out time and headspace to think about my sentence. I didn't want to put it in, it's not even in the original handwritten copy of this, if memory serves (I sometimes do this), because - as I said - I like it when stories don't tell all. Hmmm. Maybe I ought now to delete that comment where I do disclose more information.

Incidentally, I refuse to believe that any text flowing from the Quill of Signs is boring (let alone deadly boring - that's just laughable). Many mwah's coming your way now...

xx

NMJ said...

yes, of course, you should eat there once! you could have a pikkupulla or hillo or ohukaiset.

x.

zola a social thing said...

Hemingway used the same technique of keeping the iceberg hidden and showing only the wee top through text.
Nice story Anna Mr especially when so many womenfolk ( about 25% at least) get badly beaten and abused by Finnish men.
But forgive me Merkin and tugboat Anne and just take it as a "SISU" thing.
If Anna Mr falls then Finland will fall.

Anna MR said...

Oh my, Zola a Sweet Thing, hello. "If Anna Mr falls then Finland will fall...". So no pressure, eh.

But seriously. I'm not entirely sure whether you are directly comparing me to Hemingway, but because it is my blog and I do the interpretations around here, I would say you are indeed doing so, and rather favourably at that, if I may add. This brings me swiftly to the Hemingway story of six words, but no end of depth of emotion and storyline, which I can here repeat in full:

"For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."

Now my feelings about Hemingway have always been a bit two-fold - he's good, but then again - but this story always has me gasping - to be able to do that, me oh my. I am way way way too wordy. But I am, seriously, pleased you liked my story, Zola. And yes, there's a sisu issue there somewhere, although I don't know how much of it is needed for beating up one's woman.

x

Anna MR said...

NMJ, dearest, I had envisioned also possibilities like kylmäsavustettua kirjolohta or kuhaa kanttarellikastikkeessa. But leipäjuusto with lakkahillo would certainly be a tasty pudding.

xx

Kahless said...

I think you are fairly well travelled Anna.

I am not an Elvis fan myself, though I do remember as a teenager lying on the sofa on a saturday afternoon and watching some of his movies (because their wasn't much else on.)

I look forward to your next post.

fluttertongue said...

A new friend and a whole other life to learn about. I look forward to it. Stories aren't always as straight forward as they seem huh?

That's so pants said...

Hi Anna

Gob-smacking. I like the way you casually toss in that he was in for multiple rape, also that it's completely free of judgement. Something very Camus about it.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

I've done time myself. It's an unusual situation; virtual reality. Visits are real life. But of course when you leave the place you don't need them anymore.

Anna MR said...

Kahless, noswaith dda i ti, dere i mewn (should it be der? ) from the stormy weather our beautiful Indian summer is turning itself into. It's all relative, isn't it now (travelledness, etc)? In my opinion, I've lived in an unlikely string of locations, but am not well travelled - I've never even been to Italy, France, Spain, and so on - you know, I haven't even visited. But shhh. People will find my scope limited if they know.

Today, Kahless, was the big day - the 30 year anniversary. I am still planning a post to commemorate this occasion of hot love first bursting forth in a ten-year-old FinnChild, but it's not coming out today. I am glad you look forward to what comes up here next (and a wee bit pressurised, now, to be totally honest - what if it's complete shite?). I myself have no idea of what it'll be - it may be the Elvis post, but then again, it may not.

May I also point out that I cannot bear Elvis these days. And that his films are so terrible they are almost good.

x

Anna MR said...

Hei Fluttertongue, truly lovely to see you here at my house, you are very heartily welcome. You are absolutely right in a very succinct way about straightforwardness. I will tell you (privately, everybody else put their fingers in their ears (well, eyes, I suppose) and say la-la-la whilst I talk to Flutters, k?) that this man had a laughter and a wildness that I found really appealing. I would never have thought, ever. But there you have it - I am ruining my story further by telling all down here. No matter.

I hope to see a good deal more of you in the times to come, Fluttery One, and will come and have a proper readthrough of yours as well. So far, have only managed two little looklets - have liked what I've seen, a lot, and intend a proper perusal sometime soon.

x

trousers said...

Bloody hell, that six-word story is quite something isn't it. Oof.

On a tangent (bear with me) it made me think of something I read, apparently (but not verifiably) written by a schoolchild:

The silence roared
I stepped back
And watched my varnished ego crack

Merkin said...

'May I also point out that I cannot bear Elvis these days. And that his films are so terrible they are almost good.'
Cummon,the films are 'tacky' good, no?
PS one of my sons is named Elvis.

Anna MR said...

Ms Pants - thank you. I am gob-smacked by the praise you bring.

Which does by necessity make this reply to your treasured comment rather short, but my thanks are truly heartfelt nevertheless.

xxx

(Anna MR thinks: "First Hemingway, now Camus. Christ. I'll never dare write another post, lest everyone find out this one was just a complete fluke.")

Anna MR said...

RH - I cannot really begin to imagine what it is like on the other side of the visiting table. It was weird enough where I was sitting. This particular story of mine is one I haven't visited much over the years, but I feel it might have more writing potential.

Anna MR said...

Hei housut, that is a fine tangent. Where did you come across that, I wonder?

Merkin - yes, tacky for sure, and the music written for them...hm. Remember the one called "Girls Girls Girls", and the song "Yoga"?

"Yoga is what yoga does, there's no in between.."

I mean really - how The Mighty fell.

(I am hazarding a guess that Elvis P. has played a part in your life, too. This may have something to do with the name of (one of) your sons. I am so sensitive and perceptive.)

Merkin said...

My son in Eastern Europe is named Elvis because :

When mother of the child asked me to agree upon a name at 6 months pregnant, I said no - that it was bad luck in my family to choose so early.
She said in her culture it had to be done and her parents notified ASAP.

So, I suggested a lot of names which I knew would be unacceptable.
Alphonse (it's pimp in Polish slang)
Adolph (definitely not)
and some other less than fashionable names such as Elvis.

She said 'what if it is a girl'?
I said Elvissa, Elvira etc.
So, I managed to duck the question.

Baby was born and the first visitor said 'Doesn't Baby Elvis look like his daddy'

It stuck and, even though his 'actual' first name is same as mine, he is still gonna be Elvis for ever.

Kahless said...

Noswaith dda Anna, diolch. I think your spelling is good.

I am sure your next post will be bendigedig and I hope I do not put pressure on you fy ffrind.

xx.

Anna MR said...

A fine story, Merkin. I hope your son received no bad luck pre-naming him would grant him in your family traditions.

Kahless - oh my God, the pressure is on (I went and looked up bendigedig - a brilliant word both in itself and in meaning - but not before spending at least 45 seconds trying to figure out what it was anagrammatic/spelled-like-a-spastic-on-purpose of (I thought it was referring to the previous sentence about the spelling). See the convoluted state my mind is in?

Right - off I go to see if something will materialise around this Elvis post. Don't hold your breath. I may be some time.

Kahless said...

:o)

lavenderblue said...

That,Anna MR is a terrifyingly good story........
And another hell for you.........I have read it several times now, and still it chills me ......love to you xx

Anna MR said...

Hei sweet LavenderBlue, thank you both for your comment and your empathy. It was a pretty shitey episode (and period of my life all round), to tell you the truth. But, do you know, albeit life is (oftentimes) shitey, I am devising a motto for myself in the style of Sammy Beckett ("When you're up to your neck in shit, the only thing to do is to sing" - can't remember absolutely exact wording of what comes after the comma, but this is pretty close. If anyone else does, incidentally, do tell), the motto being "Although life is undeniably shite, it can teach you to dance". With which, LavvyBee, I mean to say I intend to try and learn to appreciate all I've had of it, before I die.

Love to you too. It's nice to see you again.

xx

Merkin said...

Go for it Proud Annie.
(See, i am very polite and never mentioned zilch about Tugs, Boats or Big Wheels)
Oh, such an Angel (Me, that is)

boldscot said...

Ooooooh, I am in love.

Anna MR said...

Oh me oh my, an angelic and polite Merkin. What has the world come to? But hey, may I introduce you to another guest - meet boldscot, he's in love. As you're both such soft and caring types, I'm sure you will get on like a house on fire. Sorted.

Merkin said...

'If I was chocolate, I would eat myself' is a Glasgow idiom I gave to my students, ProudAnnie.
I fear I may be infected.
Waddya say?

zola a social thing said...

Never fear for me Merkin cus Zola is here agin.
Tell me Anna Mr : what is so bad about Finland?
Tell me, tell me.........

I saw Janis today being chased by Varis at 05.00 hours UK time.

Ok Secret Service(s) in Finland today suffers from the Polish complex of religious capitalism and all that.

"Get a life" you say.
Ah that reminds me of Nobel Prize winner Sillanpää. The grass is always greener ....... ?

Finnish vet throws imself under tank. Suicide or accident? Ah but the civil war was ok and......

Kanerva is a wonderful Foreign Minister ( condoms-Liisa says ok).

The State paid Sibi-boy to stop playing and composing music.

OK you get me going but PLEEZE I live in Nukia land after..aa..all.
Tampare 10 Pikku K ? Posti?

Sori that was a bit under the belt I guess.
I blame the Merkin.

Merkin said...

Ooooops, downhill all the way now.

Anna MR said...

Right, all - not only is it downhill and below the belt, it's a-turning a mite obscure around here too. Not to worry, though. Let's just sing (as we are up to our necks in shite, after all). All together now, yksi, kaksi, kolme:

"Finland, Finland, Finland,
dö kantri veer I kvait vant tu bii..."


If I was chocolate, I'd probably want to eat myself too. Is this the correct response?

zola a social thing said...

" Is this the correct response?"

NO.
At least send Foreign Minister Kaneva an e-mail.
So there.....

Anna MR said...

What-what, Zola a Suggestive Thing - send Foreign Minister Kanerva the Old Letch an email?! No way. He's already pestering me with text messages, I have no wish to encourage him further. But shush, never breathe a word about this, if the yellow press get whiff of it, I'll never have a moment's peace.

Merkin said...

Zola a Social Disease teasing Proud Mary again?
Tut Tut

zola a social thing said...

Only giving what is asked for.
Anna Mr ( gimme Man )had Trousers ( sori HOUSUT ) in creases.
But in all seriousness the Finnish Foreign Minister does not deserve all he gets.
That was a joke No??

I'm off towards appropriate behaviour.

zola a social thing said...

" The prison was in the old heart of Helstinki".
Did I get that right?

zola a social thing said...

50 plus now.
Soon you will join those 50 plus males that ...... or try that .... or defy that....
Middle Age?
Damn it we were there already as teenagers!!!!

Anna MR said...

Confusion rules supreme. I don't mind being teased, you two, but being a mere girl (check my profile, it does say "Finnish woman"), I cannot follow your thought processes when they get this involved (=convoluted). Not enough anyway to add anything of value.

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