I couldn’t afford a therapist so I started writing about my man hang-ups – by imagining I am woman.
Put Clive La Pensée – into Amazon. Look for Goddesses for some free pages.
There was a trip I had been promising myself – to the Südgelände. I knew that once the age of steam was done, there were vast areas of redundant railway sidings. Most were built on. Some survive, still.
One such area occurred because of a political spat. The Soviet Russian government wanted to break allied resolve to maintain the status of West Berlin, so they shut the railway line through the GDR, hindering essential supplies to the city. At the end of the line, in West Berlin was 18 hectares of sidings, and no train was allowed to enter – for 40 years.
What would that leave? The answer is to be found in the middle of Berlin, on the so called Südgelände. I cycled along the Sachsen Damm, took the ramp up to the Südbahnhof, but turned southward, away from the railway station. I rode alongside a long thin strip of land covered in railway track and jungle. Once I had found the entrance, I had to abandon bike. There is nowhere to cycle on the Südgelände.
Alongside this strip of land, maybe only 100m wide, the modern high-speed trains thunder through, brakes squealing in order to stop at the adjacent Südbahnhof and a few minutes later at the main station. More sedate is the noise from the other side of the park, of the local trains chuntering at low speed towards the city centre.
Forget them both! You can see neither the silver bullets nor the red suburbans. They are screened by wild bursting greenery. Follow the walkway laid out for visitors. You have no choice – the jungle has won. Without the walkway there is no progress. Observe with delight the turntable, once capable of swinging a locomotive weighing 250 tons through 270o. Now it couldn’t turn 1o for the profusion of elderflowers pouring from all gaps. There are tunnels – not for the trains, but for people to get through the dense growth. And the silver birches – those ubiquitous trees, which are always first to colonise sandy soil. They have unceremoniously shoved the sleepers to one side and now block the path once used by thousands of horse power.
The clever art work comes in two forms. The stuff that artists have been encouraged to scatter round the park, much of which one can climb on, and that which nature has turned into art. The once proud points-controller, now sticks its round bulbous black and white lever in the air, but the points can no longer be set. Bunches of grass have long since jammed the movement of the rails.
An art piece, (looking as though Tate Modern has lost an exhibit) provides a climbing frame for wild plants. Technology eat your heart out. You are no match for nature’s primeval forces. Huge barrels and bizarre shapes lay next to the sheds. Someone once had a design for those steel structures. Now they look daftly at the sky wondering if the world will ever want them and how long before they disappear beneath the green sea. Rust is the colour if you are not a plant!
There are several entrances to the Südgelände. The best to take is the one next to the S-Bahn station Priesterweg. Then you will walk through an underpass, beneath the railway lines and will see the graffiti on the bridge pillars. It is brilliant! I thought, ‘There must be a book to be written that needs that picture on the cover.’ OK – I know. Most writers produce a story and then seek an image for the cover. I saw the image and sat down to write Goddesses. It’s finished and is about a woman who uses the lives of pagan goddesses to release herself from her repressed sexuality.
I saw the Goddess on the pillar, while I was reading 50 Shades. No whips or millionaires with clichéd helicopter pads and a choice of 50 cars, in that graffiti or in my story. Just carnal force and nature taking control, and it is not all green.
I’m a bloke! Why write about female repressed sexuality? Isn’t there enough to be said about my own gender?
Of course there is, but Gods and men think they are in control. If they haven’t a problem, they make themselves some. Gods and blokes have a self-destruct button and hence, never get to the point. That’s why I often write using a woman’s POV!
But to answer the question, I found it easier to project my own hang-ups, this way.
Gods were never repressed – they did the repressing until they made fools of themselves. Lilith is my first Goddess, except she wasn’t a goddess. She was Adam’s first missus, but we don’t talk about her, because she gave Adam some lip, when he insisted on always going on top. She paid Adam back by seducing an angel and was consequently written out of theology. History reduced her to a screech owl (and Frasier’s wife of course). She has hung on in the bible. She is there, in Genesis, but presumably that is an oversight. She is alive and well on the concrete pillar to the entrance to the Südgelände. S-Bahnhof Priesterweg.
A woman wielding a knife! It took years before I looked beyond her eyes, to see the knife.
Once you start making the effort to ‘wake yourself up,’ – that is, be mindful of your daily activities – you appreciate your life more.