Dr. Hurley’s Digest, Week 37

Our second guest-edited week, courtesy of JA Mortram, brought us fiction from John McIntyre, photography from Mortram and many of his photographic friends, and the next in Will Henderson’s Humpty Dumpty series.




And the results of our sonnet contest will be coming up this afternoon. We promise! Stay tuned to find out if you won!

Exposure № 047: Small Town Inertia

Photographer JA Mortram is our guest editor this week, bringing us some fantastic fellow photographers as well as fiction from author John McIntyre.

These pieces are from Small town inertia : Electric tears and all their portent, a documentary about schizoid obsessiveness, addiction, creativity, family and how certain geographical locations are seemingly inescapable.

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JA Mortram is naturally drawn to people, circumstances and situations that inspire him to discover more about them and to give a voice to the seldom noticed or heard. For the last 18 months, together with people on or far beyond the outskirts of his local community, he has been recording a series of environmental portraits, interviews and straight documentary shoots of people’s lives, stories and memories. Recently he has been volunteering with local Mental Health projects, teaching photography in his spare time, and it has been amazingly rewarding.

His other contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Exposure № 016: Eugene and David

had met Eugene in the street the Summer before. Her style standing out. Looking like every woman I remember as a child in the 1970’s.

We would stop and talk whenever our paths crossed in town until late last summer Eugene disapeared.

For months I would ask the few people I thought might know if all was well. No one knew a thing. No news. No news. Then one afternoon during a casual chat I asked again if anyone had sight or sound of Eugene and was told her son had been involved in a accident and was blinded as a result of the trauma.

I was more than shocked. The little I had learned of Eugene had never included the topic of children and to learn that she was indeed a Mother and now involved in this awful tragedy, at 86 dismayed me terribly.

Weeks later I saw her coming towards me in town, behind her, holding the belt of her winter coat was a tall man, both braced against the wind. I realised it was Eugene and her son. We spoke and as I learned more I only then realised that her son, David was a figure I had seen around town since I was 12 or 13 and never realised was Eugene’s son and suddenly these two were then thrown together in my mind, two seemingly separate figures now placed together.

David had been very active. Walking, cycling. My memories of him were his always cycling past me as I would walk into town. Last summer the bag he was wearing over his shoulder had come loose, entangled in the front wheel of his bicycle and he had been thrown over the handlebars, face first to the road breaking his upper jaw and neck in two places.

“I was choking on the blood” he told me. “In the ambulance they got a bucket and it poured out of my mouth… so much blood!… I could still see then… right up until I fell into a coma”.

David was taken to hospital, bones mended, wounds healed but the obstruction of a feeding and air tube in his mouth prevented his being able to alert to nurses or Doctors that his sight had vanished for almost a week after awaking from the coma he had slipped into.

Now David relies on Eugene for everything, she has become his eyes.

“One of the strangest things,” he told me, “Is waking up from a dream. In dreams I can still see. I can see everything. I wake… and feel I can still see for a time then the black seeps in and I realise I am awake and in darkness again, where the reality used to be filled with sight, now my dreams are. Where sleep was without light now thats my waking life. Everything is upside down. Now being awake is like the dream. My awake nightmare”

Living in the dark, a life in the dark. Its hard to even know the time of day or night. We rely on sight for so many things, the morning sun, the twilight, the black of night. Waking at 2 A.M. and not knowing if it’s light or dark. 10 A.M.? 2 P.M.? I bought David a talking watch so at least he can hear the news of the time when he wakes from the dreams where he can still see.

Exposure № 014: Jimmy and the Jacks

immy was and is a local legend. Always cycling in the center of town, his two Jack Russell dogs Susie and Rosie in the front basket.

He’d hold audience with anyone that stopped to listen, rolling out tales in a thick Irish brogue.

Always on my periphery, little by little our street talks blossomed into long conversations back at Jimmy’s home. Tales of life in Ireland as a boy and young man, a Father that absconded leaving 13 children, hard times. Tales of life in London during the 1960’s, no blacks, no dogs, no Irish in pub windows. Hard times.

Now alone aside from his dogs the last year has been one filled with cruelty and chaos for Jimmy. During the last Summer he was involved in a hit and run, leaving him crippled with arthritis after the wounds and breaks knitted and stitched together. A year ago he could have been 50, now he’s feeling all of his 75 years, though his mind is still sharp enough to cut.

Susie died leaving Rosie and Jimmy alone but together.

The local Doctors where Jimmy would get his wounds dressed was ultimately a place of mixed fortune for him. Though the visits there have been painful he was approached by a family recognizing him as the owner of Jack Russells and they asked him to watch over a pair of Jacks for a few weeks. The family never returned to reclaim the dogs so they have become part of Jimmy’s family and a part of the cycle of everyday that keeps him going.

Jimmys hands, legs and shoulders are permanently in pain and it’s taking longer to do everything, opening jars, bottles and the walk to the local shop that would take 5 minutes, now takes 40 but the Jacks are there by his side, there at 4 A.M. when he wakes from the aches within, there when people are not.