Tag Archives: The Old Gypsy

MJ Usetobe, The Art of Crisis

It is with deep regret that I must inform you that due to the recent demise of MJ Usetobe, there will be no “Interview with Self: Part 2″. Although completed drafts were at the final edit stage the author, in extremis, made the surprising decision to halt final publication before obtaining permission [from a family source] to print certain contentious, and potentially litiginous, statements. Whilst successful in obtaining a full and corroborative response, its arrival was, sadly, dilatory. It was the decision, therefore, of this editor, with the agreement of the author’s executors, that the piece be withheld.

Almost without exception Usetobe’s offerings were visceral and ardent attacks upon those who sought to undermine his “judgement, autonomy and sanity”; he once mockingly described a draft copy to me as “imperfect and rough-hewn offerings, freshly calved from the black ice of my father’s heart”. That there were was a fault line, the demarcation of which deeply and indelibly scored his position relative to the main protagonists featured in many of his posts, that it grew with grinding, tectonic, inevitability to form a final unbridgeable divide, is an incontestable fact. However, despite the bitterness – palpable to the last – his final years in exile from those hostile to him were among the happiest and most peaceful of his life. He ‘fell asleep’ closely attended by his wife and children – always his happiest place.

In accordance with the author’s final wishes John McCrae’s short poem “In Flanders Fields” will close this body of work. A memorial service, attended by close family members and friends, was held in October this year.


In Flanders fields the poppies grow*
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, 1915
*[original pre-published]


SOTC, Nov. 2013

It is difficult to tell from our distant observations whether or not Fecklessa contrives to show her abject indifference with regard to AJ or that she is simply deluded as to the pain her imprudence imparts. As life ebbs from her mother she continues to abstract herself from reality by tending her garden. We hear too that, just as Schopenhauer took refuge from rejection in his beloved poodles, Fecklessa has found some solace in the ubiquitous affections of a local cur.

AJ’s plaintive speculations as to why she is unworthy of an audience too oft give way to bouts of weeping that leave us with no answer except that of empty consolations. Though the bulletins of horticultural updates and canine misdemeanours are of an almost daily frequency, they fall like so many ‘buttons and Irish pennies’ into the collection box of the forlorn; a cheap and malignant form of altruism serving only to bolster the conscience of this most disaffected of benefactors.

As ye sow, as shall ye reap Fecklessa; though your garden is green and plentiful it cannot be beyond your vapid realization to perceive before you that the true nature of your meadow is as empty and forlorn as a desert and that nothing but drought dost brazenly menace its horizon. You must repent of your ill-doing with all haste before the plants, old and new, are cast forever to the dust. You must break your allegiance with the foul sisterhood you have nurtured, denounce the coven and in so doing cast out Sister Dunlop and The Old Gypsy that they may find their own way among the good of this world or else enter back into the mire whence they came. Harder though the task, you must further be unfaltering in your quest to break free from the shackles in which Sorebones has held you in bondage for so long. You must act, you must repent, you must set yourself apart forever from the evil that you have for so long found refuge within. Only in this way will you find your way back to the true lush green grass of love in its most pure and simple form.

I am advised that I should apply ‘benefit of the doubt’. I point out however, the extremes of their entrenchment; add to that Sorebones’ incendiary-like reactions and this I think turns the argument. Of course, there is irony in this situation. No longer able to shout and dictate admonishment they have instead imposed a ‘punishment’ of silence upon me. It does make one wonder if there isn’t any ‘in-between’ ground! The silence though, makes me happier, and I am told this is important. The supply of information is all but halted. Fecklessa continues to probe of course, but her new conduit, frail and fallible, is easily misdirected. Duplicitous tactics beget only more by return; tenacity I inherited in great abundance.

Sister Dunlop and The Old Gypsy continue to ply their trade but I am  yet hopeful that there insidiousness will lead to disaffection and ultimate rejection by those of mine on whom they prey. If not by my hand, they will be exposed.

I have spent the last year learning so much of my past. More than this I must not say except that I have discovered the quintessence of so many hitherto mysteries. I have also learned that all things have a fixed root, some of which grow so deep and secure as to never be pulled from the ground. I will be content with excavating only those that have bound me so tightly.

I once failed (August 12th, 1981) to return securely the lid to a jar of peanut butter. Fecklessa called me a ‘slovenly pig’ for this crime against humanity; I know now that her roots were already firm.

Benefit of the doubt? No.

My Blog Stat’s indicate that Sister Dunlop has cast her furtive, vengeful eyes over these scribblings; more than a few times it would seem. Of course ‘welcome’ is not a word that springs to mind but I do applaud any time she can spare from her despicable plots – however fleeting. More than this however, her trusted co-conspirator, The Old Gypsy and her usual acolytes have all, it seems, dropped in of late.

In a recent communication, Fecklessa insisted to me that she would  “not want to upset Sister Dunlop” with my insistent and most urgent denouncements. Such touching sentiment. I would bet my bottom dollar however, she has by now ‘spilled’.

“…And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn’d;
Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”

So I will continue to watch you watching me watching you and this fractured-family Mandelbrot will begin a new cycle, downward and inward, drawn irresistibly to its great vortical finale.



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