Sunday, October 5, 2014

How Susan met Rose E. Pole


Meanwhile, Aunt Alberta had seen the corpse of Jill, and gone to it, since she had been a close friend to Eustace those last years, especially that last year. She was not alone, there was a man with a girl, probably his daughter, since she reminded of him. They also reminded her of Jill Pole.

"Relatives of Jill, I presume? You must be the uncle and cousin, Paul Edward and Rose Ellen, I presume? My condoleances!"

"And you are," said Paul Edward, "the mother of Eustace, Alberta?"

"Indeed."

"Condoleances."

And Alberta insisted on inviting them to a treat, then and there, nearest tea room, an ice cream and soda for Rose and tea with cake for herself and Paul. THey simply had "to take a pause from the grieving" as she put it. Strictly vegetarian and the tea room chosen as very certainly not a pub were they served any strong drink. You know her principles, and keeping low calory intake was not one of her strictest. As she was asked where Harold was, she explained there was some chance she was staying in Sevenoaks for the night, so he had been sent to arrange with the hotel - including for Susan.

Paul Edward was the divorced father of one daughter, he had also been lodging Jill and giving her an English as opposed to exotic education, while her parents were digging for bones somewhere all over the world, whereever there was a good dig to be made. Later they were among the veteran staff of Mary Leakey when she was a widow. This arrangement, while Experiment House was still open, lasted during holidays - hols as they said back then - but after it closed during terms too.

Jill had taken archery lessons for Susan, as said, but Rose - even now only thirteen - had been deemed too young to do so. Rose Ellen was silent, thought of her dead cousin Jill, thought of her mother, divorced and in asylum, and did not know which hurt most.

She liked the ice cream, but as you can imagine did not fully enjoy it. Now and then she cried.

That is where they were when the Spivvinses had invited Susan to the same place. And that is where Rose Ellen Pole and Susan Pevensie first met and made friends.

After Alberta did the introductions (not meaning Rose got the fact that Susan's last name was Pevensie, as shall be explained), Susan sat down at their table next to Rose and turned to her. The Spivvinses understood and paid her tea and sandwich. Themselves getting some at another table. And Su and Rose sat and talked at one end, while Alberta and Paul - soon joined by Harold - talked at the other end.

The first question Rose asked was:

"How was Jill as an archery pupil."

"The kind of archer that if there had been a shooting of arrows, she would have survived better than a train crash - even if her opponents were good warriors."

And this for the first time brightened up the face of Rose since she had heard the bad news same morning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nathan Coon and Spivvins


Nathan had prepared his little speech pretty carefully. And especially all the gestures. The tone. He had not reckoned on Lucy practically converting everyone of hers among the now deceased, just in the nick of time, nor on it showing thanks to rosaries and scapulars. She had not reckoned on the smile of her face giving Susan the comfort she really needed. He had not reckoned in Susan feeling guilt for having betrayed Lucy to him.

If psychologists get away with treating people, it is partly because anyone complaining seriously can usually be shut up and rendered thereby less credible and often enough even more uncomfortable than under his therapy.

It is also because their patients see them as the strong person. So that when reliance in such a one fails, it is at least not replaced by a stronger confidence in the patient himself or in what he stands for.

This they regularly reckon on. When they are wrong about a peaceful and modest person, they often refuse to see the evidence. Their superiority over their patient as to mental strength is so much a religion to them that if there is evidence for the contrary, they block it out. This was actually Nathan Coon's religion even more than his involvement in the Lodge of Tash. To him, they were simply his therapists, odd as that may seem to someone retaining his sanity more than therapists do.

And if the person they were treating as a patient is not peaceful and modest, if there is a quarrel, if they see evidence of something having gone wrong, they have a real swiftness in reinterpreting that new evidence as evidence of the patient "compensating" (for a real and really felt inferiority) in unrealistic and untenable ways. And as long as many people living ordinary lives and many people occasionally bossing over such support them, the therapists are often lucky enough to become right in such a supposition, even if they were not to start with, when the conflict broke out.

Nathan Coon arrived at Sevenoaks. He soon was at the scene of the trainwreck. He bit his lips when seeing some bodies were smashed. With some relief he spotted Susan as she was talking with the Spivvinses.

He made a sign to her as she sighted him. "Oh both!" she sighed. She imagined he was going to offer some comfort she very clearly did not need from him.

She had this agreement with him. Probably nearly everyone going to a therapist had it back then. Except those often locked up or closely wateched over by others. You see, according to the deal she had no need to acknowledge she was going to therapy to people not aware of that. Back then such an admission would have felt much more shameful than now. These days films are nearly supposed to include a therapist, but back then that was not done in comedy or adventure, more like, if at all, in heavy films and even there hardly for the hero. So, to hide her not quite genial situation she had no need to tell strangers about him.

She had once or twice suspected him of not keeping his - unspoken - part of the bargain but of instead telling strangers about her behind her back. One or two new acquaintances suddenly just had dropped her - suspiciously enough in conditions that she might have been making a good impression on them by the first meeting, but they may have dropped out because of learning precisely such a thing. However, she was submitting herself to therapy and this had not stopped her from drowing these thoughts in a gush of confidence for him. Now, beside her sister's body, there was no such gush. Just an "oh bother" - even without such suspicions.

Then there was a short feeling of triumph as she recalled she had a choice. She could either go to him and pretend he was some other kind of acquaintance - or turn away the head and thus signal him it was absolutely not the right moment. She choose the latter alternative and turned her head back to the Spivvinses, the young Spivvins and the taxi driver from yesternight.

"So you were saying?" she said (and she had genuinely lost track of it while seeing Nathan Coon) with a most radiant smile. Like the one she had used when speaking to her best friend "George" to get rid of a bothersome but fortunately shy admirer.

Unfortunately for her, Nathan Coon was not a shy admirer. He bumped in from behind, touched her shoulder ever so gently, told her calmly and gently: "Susan, we would need to talk one of these days - it's quite alright if it isn't now, but ideally before the funeral ..."

Tom Spivvins, fortunately for her, seemed to grasp her discomfort with this person, especially when she also ever so gently got her shoulder away from under his hand (with a shudder and feeling of relief as he was forcved to let her go in order not to make a scene). He stepped forth to more or less protect her integrity, a bit like his uncle had done to protect her against the cruel war hero last night.

"Sir, I do not know who you are in general or who you are to her, but she seems to mind your company."

Nathan had a routine for situations like this one. Susan knew it partly from when Peter had tried to protect Lucy - and when he had failed, mainly due to her. But this time he varied it.

"I am her uncle."

As this did not duly impress young Spivvins, as his uncle stepped forth and added "you don't look like it ..." he quickly got himself out of that question by adding:

"Her uncle by marriage. She is the niece of my late wife. We had been looking after her since the day when ... well, frankly, she had a nervous breakdown."

Susan was angry but too flabberghasted by the dishonesty. Was he going to tell the story of Lucy, which was dishonest even about her? She tried to open her mouth, couldn't when he just continued:

"We had to consult a psychiatrist. No, no, it's not that bad she is not going to therapy," he said with a dishonesty blatant to her. "She was locked up for a week." (Hey, yes, that was what happened to Lu! What an infamous ...) "and afterwards we were told not to worry. She was only a bit mentally frail, but she needed our attention. By now, it is two weeks we haven't heard from her, we are getting worried."

He didn't tell "we" happened to sound better than "I" in such contexts, besides being ironically true when compared to the lodge being involved. But he had been clumsy on a detail.

"We? I thought you were a widower!"

"Me and my new wife. Look here, you are really strangers to her, and to us, this is really none of your business. But fact remains, I remarried."

"In that case, she might not be getting along properly with her step aunt. Leace her alone."

The two Spivvinses, to the amazement of Susan, stepped closer to Nathan and made him take a step back. And the rest of their family were also stepping in behind them.

Nathan thus stepped back, but trying to wrench a victory from defeat, he turned to Susan and said: "Tomorrow by 1 p.m.? Will that be fine?"

"No." Susan couldn't believe she was getting out of his grasp so cheaply, and she enjoyed every moment of it.

"I didn't hear that. I'll be waiting at the office tomorrow ..."

"No."

The two Spivvinses were getting irritable:

"You heard she said no," said the uncle.

"A no is a no," said the Tom. Both were uncovering the arms and showing the fists by now.

And Nathan knew he had lost with them at hand. When he went off, she wondered what his next move would be, especially as he had told her while briskly walking away "... I see you have met some irresponsible people."

She knew that that might mean he was going to speak to some responsible people ... about her. And yet, she was too relieved to be afraid.

"If there had been a God" (she said in her mind) "it is almost as if He had heard the prayers of Lucy."

She told the Spivvinses cordially: "thank you" and ...

... she added to herself in her mind: "that means she would have had to forgive me for this to happen." And she recalled where Edmund had had that particular smile : on the Splendor Hyaline when leaving Tashbaan.