Thursday, 2 June 2016


There was a burst of gunfire. The male presenter looked in the direction of the mountains and the camera followed. “Do not worry, it's the shepherds,” explained the Greek host with a nonchalant expression, “in Crete we like our guns.” And as evening came on more rounds were fired.
That televised scene, that exchange imprinted itself without me realising it. Yes, I'd been a little surprised, not thinking the Greek were so gun-toting or so enamoured of them, but not enough, so I thought, for it to become lodged. My brain obviously thought otherwise, took a greater interest in that fact than I had acknowledged, so that I recalled it months later. Long before my recounting of it here.
What was the reason for this recall, the original recollection?
My brain detonated. As if a bullet had ripped a hole, and I, the waitress couldn't keep the soup in the soup bowl. It liberally and indiscriminately spilled its contents. But you have to understand I hadn't been shot from the outside, by someone waving a revolver; the shot had come from inside and if there had been a demonic figure in there brandishing a gun I'd be the last to know. It does seem unlikely that this could be so, but also that I wouldn't know or that I'd be the last to discover the fact, especially if other people had their suspicions, though the brain (as I admit now) would be the ideal place to hide.
Maybe it wasn't a pistol at all, but a rifle or a crudely made bomb. Again I have no first-hand experience of such weaponry or such items sold for gang warfare of the type you pull out whenever you feel threatened. I'm English; guns make me nervous, even if it's the police carrying them, which means I can only compare with what I've seen and heard through a screen, whose effects might be further neutered or exaggerated by my interpretation of how that might sound or how it might feel to be hit. However, it's sufficient to say that whatever fired the shot or exploded that day I was the prime target. Perhaps on any other day I would have been too, unless there was a trigger: something outside of myself that sabotaged the normal firing of information in my brain and effectively pulled the pin out.
All meticulous and miscellaneous filing suddenly stopped; the system blown to pieces. My eyes momentarily blinded by a bright flash so that I was only aware of my terrified heart, then my ears begun to ring deafening the thudding and my head began its strange hypnotic song; a song that months later is still playing on a constant loop, just fainter and fainter, and yet will not be sent packing. My doctor has diagnosed it as tinnitus but I'm not so sure, it's unlike any tinnitus I've had before; this has a tune like something my grandmother used to sing and soothes and annoys in equal measure, plus it seems to come from inside my head, not my ears, and yet my doctor declares her diagnosis can't be wrong: heads don't whistle.
Why should you be concerned about that, the damage done and the long road to recovery, when it's the moment of detonation that always grabs people's interest? What you really want me to do is continue my description of what being in the thick of it was like.
It was nothing like you're imagining. There was no billowing smoke, no burning flames, no tumbling bodies, no oozing blood that trickled then streamed; aside from the loud crack of the blast, which it appeared only I seemed to hear, I appeared uninjured, but struck dumb according to eyewitness accounts.
Not so, as inwardly I was fully thinking, feeling and present, in awe of what I was bearing witness to. My eyes, by now adjusted to the dark, were mesmerised by a shower of coloured sparks which would dart away if followed, and all that remained of the intestines of my brain (whole, the brain looks like compacted guts) was a debris of bolts, screws, and broken glass - basically everything I ever thought and every stored useful or useless nugget of information was in that rubble.
In one fell swoop the world as I'd conceived it had been razed to its ground level, to that of a child.

Picture Credit: Exploding Raphaelesque Head, 1951, Salvador Dali
'If intelligence does not exist at birth, it will not exist at all.' - Dali -