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The Futher Sermons of Father McKenzie


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Dream  Fragments Redrawn

Sock Man & Invisible Monkey  (Superheroes)

The Day
of the Stupids

Attachment, Separation
& Loss
(part 493)

Run!  Zombies!  Run!

Portrait in Halls
with Tall Bare Walls

A Reluctant Gardener

We Laughed
All The Time



A Seduction of….


A Carthorse Chasing After a Gazelle


The Further Sermons of Father McKenzie

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The Further Sermons of Father McKenzie 08 Portrait in Halls with Tall Bare Walls.mp3

Composer:   Ed Hooke
Date of Composition:   April 2017
Date of Recording/Copyright:    April 2017

Commentary/Notes   This song was written for Nilay.

1. (a) epileptic fits (b) fitting in socially.

2. Anticonvulsant medication doing its job.

3. Not fitting in socially.

4. In university halls of residence, sharing a bedroom with 3 less than friendly others.

5. As part of studying Linguistics, this sort of sentence has to be analysed to explain its semantic & grammatical ambiguities.  In one version, “licks” is a verb & “like” is a preposition; in the other,“licks” is a noun & “like” is a verb.  However, the 2nd version requires an apostrophe at the end of “Linguistics” while the first version doesn’t, so I had to put the apostrophe in brackets.  Also in the 2nd version, “licks” as a noun is a clumsy use of a slang word meaning something like “tasters/samples of”.  The phrase ‘fruit flies’ is also a reference to the following pair of sentences:- “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

6. From (a) a play on the way the 3 syllables of “syntactic” sound, to (b) a Linguistics test question, perhaps!  ‘syn’ becomes ‘sin’; ‘tac’ becomes ‘attack’; ‘tic’ becomes ‘ticked’.  In Linguistic analysis, you may have to analyse (attack) ticked (marked) grammatical (syntactic) errors (sins).

7. Sometimes not attending classes in order to work & earn money to be able to pay to attend classes…

8. Isn’t alliteration fun?

9. The imagery refers not only to the imposing physical nature of a university & its halls of residence, but also to a transitional (but at the time encapsulating) stage of life where the complexities of childhood are yet to be unravelled & fully understood while the future can seem to be a dauntingly blank canvas.  The sense of waiting resembles the concept of purgatory, of being trapped…

10. Although this song was written about someone in Turkey in April 2017, this of course does NOT refer to any specific referendum (such as the one in Turkey on 16 April 2017).

Portrait in Halls with Tall Bare Walls

She fits in one way but not another.[1].

Prudently pilled some storms are stilled inside her head.[2]

Outside though she remains the outsider.[3]

Precious peer pressures pile up around her bed.[4]

Linguistics(’) licks like fruit flies.[5]

Attack ticked syntactic sins.[6]

She edits her education
to take time to tend to tender money tins.

No-one said it would be easy
but no-one said it would be this tough.
No-one stopped to state out straight
that a student’s study state stays stressed & stuffed with stuff.

She waits in halls with tall bare walls
paned with pained unpainted paintings and denied a door.

Shelved unwritten books eluding allied looks
Tales which can’t be told, folds won’t unfold, not ever...

Let’s have a referendum[10]

to see how people do not think.[11]
Established state strength so stuck more sternly
- stifling strong the stench with which they stink.

Where is the happy medium?[12]
- the clairvoyant optimist?
Some things she can’t control.
For those she can, she’ll make a list.

She waits in halls with tall bare walls
paned with pained unpainted paintings

and denied a door.

Shelved unwritten books eluding allied looks
Tales which can’t be told,

folds won’t unfold, not ever...[9]

But she will climb one step at a time
and step by step she will find her way to be.
She will need patience because it’s going to be in the future tense
when this acorn will be reborn as an oak tree.

No.  Life is not so easy.
Yes.  It can be unfair and tough.
No-one says it but still she will learn
She’s so much more than just simply good enough.

And she will depart from halls with tall bare walls
She’ll paint those panes of painful paintings then design a door.
She will write those books, learn enlightened looks.
Let her tales be told, let folds unfold forevermore.

(Güle güle!)[19]

and she will sing...[20]

“A scorcher”

- Lyndon


- Nilay

16. Patience is needed.  The transformation is not going to happen overnight; it’s going to take years.  This emphasises again the importance of recognising small steps in the right direction. An acorn is the small-ish nut from which an oak tree grows.  Oak trees have a reputation for strength.

17. Although I’m saying it now…

18. The transformation, somewhat like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.  In a physical sense it could be linked to leaving university - in itself an important period of change in life.  However, it also refers to the more gradual (i.e. slower) underlying emotional & psychological processes of learning to understand & love oneself more.

19. Turkish for ‘Farewell’- literally “Go with a smile!”

20. Singing, like painting paintings or writing autobiographical books, is an expression of the ‘soul’, the self, the heart & all that sort of thing, as well as being something which the subject of the portrait both enjoys doing & doesn’t feel as confident about as she should. The future holds such possibilities..

11. This has at least 2 possible interpretations:-
(i) a sinister intent to misrepresent people’s views;
(ii) while people may use critical evaluation (‘think’) when making decisions, sometimes they base voting upon more basic, animal instincts & prejudiced opinions; (iii) both; (iv) other.

12. Written at a time of politically extreme “populist” views rising around the world.

13. This is in part a joke, a play on the words ‘happy medium’.  As well as meaning ‘middle ground’, the word ‘medium’ can refer to a person who experiences things that normal people can’t, a bit like a clairvoyant. (For a medium, it’s communication with the dead; for a clairvoyant, it’s seeing the future.) Someone who is happy might be described as an optimist.  However, the latter part of the song could be said to be an optimistic prediction for the future so maybe there is a clairvoyant optimist after all...

14. A lot of people spend a lot of time (sometimes even their whole lives) worrying about things over which they have no control.  It can be a significant factor in depression.  It’s more healthy & productive to focus instead on addressing the things which we can control or influence.

15. The clairvoyant optimist has arrived, with judgements based on a knowledge of the personality & abilities of the subject. The ‘step by step’ nature of making improvements is an important one. The Taoist, Lao Tzu, reputedly said “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. It’s also important to try to recognise & value positive steps even if they’re small. Some of them can be planned. Others just happen. “Her way to be” will be living in a way that she herself feels happy with, hopefully on her own terms.