According to Adam Rogers, writing on www.wired.com, humans are fated to see the same world differently:
There is a world that exists . . . [then] there is the world that we perceive — a hallucination generated by a pound and a half of electrified meat encased by our skulls. Connecting the two, or conveying accurately our own personal hallucination to someone else, is the central problem of being human.
With their Faces painted and voices loud, they hushed the forest songs as they trampled down the shadows. There was violence — a stick jabbing hard and fast — and before the forest knew what had happened, feathers and blood and a small broken body lying dead on the ground.
I CAN’T EXPLAIN WHY I did it. Often, it is as if a part of me has its own impulsive life beyond my control. I am astounded at the mess it causes. And occasionally at the good that comes of it regardless. But, whichever way, it is always my conscious self that has to deal with the consequences. Good or bad.
Like turning your hand over, things could go either way with the weather. Six a.m. and the bay is turbulent and green, but at that hour of the morning anything can happen. Standing at the window, just listening, the whole house is a heartbeat. Looking at the bay, the water, the clouds, I think I can hear the busy clink and chatter of the rigging on the boats parked on the hard at the bay, but that can’t be right, it’s too far away. Oh, you can hear anything, see anything on a morning like this, it’s the day of the wedding. Our son’s getting married.
There is a stirring in the back rooms; there is so much to do, I will never get done, it’s crazy this, but the wedding’s to be here, not at her place but mine. I am speaking now of the bride’s mother and myself. Well, it’s a long story, how the wedding comes to be here instead of there, but that’s the way it is. She’s bringing the food later in the morning, and there’ll be crayfish and scallops like nobody ever had at a wedding before, and mussels of course. They are mussel farmers from the Sounds. They. Well, I mean the bride’s parents.
I love our daughter-in-law to be, I really do. You might think I don’t mean that, mothers-in-law rarely do, but it’s true. Our son’s on a win. I want to see him married.
Perhaps they know that. There are times when I think they haven’t been so keen. Perhaps they think she could have done better. I don’t know. It hasn’t been easy, getting this wedding together. But, if you knew him, our son, you’d know she wouldn’t settle for anyone else. Anyone less. Now there’s a mother talking, but I’ve fallen for it, that same old charm of his, and I’ll go on forever, I guess. He puts his arms around me and says, ‘Love ya, Ma’ and I’ll forgive him anything. It’s true. He brings out a softness in me. That and rage. But the anger never lasts for long.
My father built the house on Langely Lake for my mother, in the town she grew up in. It was a hundred miles from the glassy skyscrapers my father built in the city, and a world away from the Calloway family name and money and penthouse on the Upper East Side.
The house on Langely Lake looked unlike any of the other houses in town, with their graying vinyl siding and slouching carports. No, the house on Langely Lake wasn’t a house at all. It was a fortress three stories tall, built of stone, with a thick fence and impenetrable hedges all the way around.
When I was a little girl, we spent our summers in that fortress. I remember slumber parties in a tent on the back lawn and afternoons spent sunning on the raft just off shore. I remember tall glasses of lemonade sweating on the patio and the sundresses my mother wore and her wide brimmed hats.
Once I thought my father had built that house to keep everyone else out, but then my uncle Hank found the photographs. They were in a shoe box, hidden under a loose floorboard in my parents’ bedroom. They were taken that summer, 2007, a few weeks before my mother disappeared. I saw the photographs and I realized I had been wrong about everything.
Because my father hadn’t built the house on Langely Lake to keep everyone else out. He’d built it to keep us in.
It's gutting how much can change in just four weeks. One moment I’m Hero Whistle-blower; the next, State Enemy Number One. The pressure rises day on day, and Mikey senses we’re not telling him what’s going on. It’s true, but he’s already bad enough: confused, clingy and sobbing in his sleep. He’s throwing major tantrums at the slightest thing.
Let us begin with what might be considered a paradigmatic example of a bullshit job. Kurt works for a subcontractor for the German military. Or . . . actually, he is employed by a subcontractor of a subcontractor of a subcontractor for the German military. Here is how he describes his work:
The German military has a subcontractor that does their IT work. The IT firm has a subcontractor that does their logistics.The logistics firm has a subcontractor that does their personnel management, and I work for that company. Let’s say soldier A moves to an office two rooms farther down the hall. Instead of just carrying his computer over there, he has to fill out a form.The IT subcontractor will get the form, people will read it and approve it, and forward it to the logistics firm.The logistics firm will then have to approve the moving down the hall and will request personnel from us. The office people in my company will then do whatever they do, and now I come in. I get an email: “Be at barracks B at time C.” Usually these barracks are one hundred to five hundred kilometers [62–310 miles] away from my home, so I will get a rental car. I take the rental car, drive to the barracks, let dispatch know that I arrived, fill out a form, unhook the computer, load the computer into a box, seal the box, have a guy from the logistics firm carry the box to the next room, where I unseal the box, fill out another form, hook up the computer, call dispatch to tell them how long I took, get a couple of signatures, take my rental car back home, send dispatch a letter with all of the paperwork and then get paid. So instead of the soldier carrying his computer for five meters, two people drive for a combined six to ten hours, fill out around fifteen pages of paperwork, and waste a good four hundred euros of taxpayers’ money.
If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my last. Whenever a bad memory crept into my brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope with it a bit better.
There were other memories, though, of which I wanted to remember every last detail. They gave me something to hold onto. Because one day soon, I knew, I might not wake up.
I had my first panic attack on a quiet sunny morning in Berlin. It was mid-summer. The city was drowsing, baking, in the grip of a heatwave. The massive chestnut trees were heavy with leaves, the grass on the sides of Karl-Marx-Allee grew dusty and long. Bats flickered like quicksilver through the sultry evenings. Every day I sat working with my feet in a bucket of cold water.
On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. Individual hospitals would’ve thought nothing of it. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.
On the second day they frowned, confused, at another twenty-four hours of blue.
The September days are shorter and cooler now. Autumn is here, and the purple heather flowers have nearly finished blooming.
My little brother Niall and his friends are playing Soldiers while we wait on the wharf. They march up and down and pretend to fire rifles. Niall wears the red woollen vest our Grandma Coira knitted. He says it makes him look like a real army man.
At the airport, Kerry noticed a sign warning visitors to allow more time for their journeys on New Zealand roads. The sign included a picture of said roads, apparently drawn by a person with a partiality for Scalextric tracks made entirely from the curved parts.
‘A blatant exaggeration’ had been Kerry’s thought then. Two days later, on the hill heading over to Gabriel’s Bay, his thought was ‘What the infernal hell?’
Let’s be honest, not many people come to Wellington for the weather. But anyone who lives here, or braves the all too often bumpy ﬂight into our little city, is rewarded with an incredibly vibrant café and bar scene. Our city seems to draw creative people who have small budgets and clever ideas. It then nurtures them with a culture that loves to embrace the ‘new’. It’s a city of hidden gems, bursting with its own quirky kind of cool.
A prime number is divisible only by itself and by one. If I were a prime number, I’d want to be a five. Five is also a Catalan number, which is another sequence of numbers that can be used to solve certain counting problems. Being a Catalan number is perfect, because I like the idea of being part of a solution, but also because that’s my surname.
When I looked up ‘five’ on the net, I learned it was also the first safe prime, the third Sophie Germain prime, and the third Mersenne prime exponent. If I said that out loud at school most people would call me a nerd or try to trip me up or something. But I like the way numbers can have secret superpowers.
From Tatapouri, we made our way into Gisborne and slowly adapted to things like traffic lights and – well – traffic! We headed into the centre of town and parked the car. It was a hot day and plenty of brave (or crazy) young guys were jumping off bridges into the river nearby. Two rivers flow through Gisborne – the Taruheru and the Waimata – then join together to create the Tūranganui River, which spills into the Pacific Ocean at Poverty Bay. At just under a kilometre long, this is the shortest river in the southern hemisphere.
So, what are many of the methods out there that promise parents that their defiant children will become accommodating and do as they are told, thus reducing conflict in the house? Common punitive behaviour-orientated methods (such as the use of time-outs, naughty steps and star charts implemented by the parent) tend to involve:
CHAPTER 1 -
A man named Curly
His name was Raymond Stirling, but to his family and friends he was known as ‘Curly’. Although our paths had crossed when I was a child, I have only a very vague memory of him. He was a butcher, and I can recall when I was about four visiting his shop and the nice man in the stripy apron handing me one of those bright red sausages. I could never have known back then that Curly would one day change my life.
I hadn’t heard from Maya for two and a half weeks.
She wasn’t answering her phone or posting online, and when I rang the London office of the publisher where she worked, I was told she’d taken some leave. I thought the tone of the call was strange; the woman cut me off, although I could have been imagining it. I asked to speak to Gene Jacobs, but she said he’d left to work for another company.
None of Maya’s Auckland friends knew where she was, and I didn’t have any contacts for her in London.
It was unusual. My girl had always kept in touch.