Monday, January 03, 2011
Writing Down the Dirt
I am more attached to him than I am to her. Beatrice is very uptight in that way that never lets down, no matter how hard you try or how funny you are. There is a fragility about Lawrence. Far too much for a man of seventy plus years. An uncertainty, an odd clumsiness, a shyness around his writing and his painting.
I have an enormous advantage being a (fairly) newbie here. I perceive the longtimers without their attendant history and baggage. Newborn babes in a way to me. And I to them of course.
Lawrence (never Larry) was a school teacher back in the day. And I'm a story-sponge as anyone who reads me here knows. I just soak up the tales from anywhere and everywhere.
Here is a sampling of what I've been told about Lawrence:
"A right old bastard, he beat the s*** out of me when I was a lad."
"A poncy boy, always was, always will be."
"A great teacher, taught us the whole history of Newfoundland and made it so interesting, I never forgot it."
"He and his wife? Well he's old enough to be her father but they adopted four children that no one else wanted so there's a lot of good there."
"A pillar of the church, always helping the priests out."
Here's what Lawrence has told me:
He gets terrible depressions. He was the only son among daughters and his father would beat the tar out of him to make him more 'manly'. He was abused as a young boy by the local priest and has never told anyone except me and his wife.
He is terrified of putting the real history of his family in writing as he has convinced himself that no one, including his children, would ever talk to him again.
He told me his grandmother's story one afternoon and I was riveted, I encouraged him to write all of it down, it is so fascinating. But when he did and handed it to me to read he had left out her many interesting human foibles and wrote only about her saintliness.
I said to him: Lawrence, write down the dirt. People want the dirt. They pay for the dirt. There's dirt in everyone. It re-assures us when we read of it in others!
But he's a man who won't use his real name on Facebook.
So how can he sign his name to the shenanigans of his own grandmother?
And he won't even consider a nom de plume.
He was extremely depressed when the second to last parish priest was transferred out of the parish and sent off somewhere, who knows where.
Out walking a few months ago, I asked him was he very attached to the previous priest, was that what was getting him so down?
He looked at me askance, and shook his head.
Ah, sez he, you wouldn't believe the half of it.
And no more would he say.
And last night my buddy George and I were talking over a cup of coffee and he sez:
I was glad to see the back of that Father Herbert!
Oh why, sez I.
Ah, didn't you know, sez he, he was having a massive carry-on with Beatrice, Lawrence's wife?
Go on b'y! sez I.
Along with having the brass to finance the affair out of the collection baskets!
And of course, he adds, that old idiot Lawrence wouldn't have a clue! (George is one of the pupils that Lawrence punished excessively in school).
I kept my mouth shut. I always do.