Monday, 15 October 2012

English Studies with Creative Writing: Second Year

Transformative Writing - Week 1
Source: Oppa Gangnam Style - Virginia University Flash-Mob 

Challenge: Imagine you are one of the dancers participating in the flash-mob. Write about the experience.

Thirty-five seconds. I’ve been listening to Gangnam style repeatedly for days, ensuring I have perfected his bizarre horse-riding dance move. Thirty seconds. Why on Earth did I agree to go first? Twenty-five seconds. Oh shit, I think that’s Lucy; please let it be Sophie or Abigail or anyone in the world but Lucy. Twenty seconds. There’s no way I’m doing it. If Mr. Gangnam Style himself was here, I wouldn’t. Ten seconds. When the music starts, I’m just going to casually walk away. Five seconds. I could say that I’ve forgotten how to ride an imaginary horse. Three seconds. She’s looking; oh shit she’s looking. Two seconds. That’s it, I’m going; I’m definitely going. One second. Oh Lucy will have to get over herself - it’s Gangnam Style!

Transformative Writing – Week 2: Vanitas Art

-      Objects: A compass or pocket watch; a crown; a globe; a skull with a missing jaw and missing teeth; red ribbon; magnifying glass; a page of writing (possibly a map); flowers; a table; a scarf; bubbles; a candle holder; holly leaves.

Skull – crowned death
Crown – bejewelled
Globe – glowing
Table – burdened 
Ribbon – twisted
Bubbles – light/free
Map/page – worn
Book - colossal

Challenge: Transform the source.  

There was so much darkness in the room, an eeriness that seeped in beneath my skin. The air inside was bound to the thick dust and completely starved of oxygen. I received the letter a week before, that fateful page that determined my coming here. 

The table was cluttered with the remnants of a life that had long since escaped this world. A jaw-less skull wearing a crown of hay sat in the centre, its front teeth biting into the book below it that resembled an encyclopaedia. Was this symbolic of his appetite for knowledge, an appetite so profound it existed even in death? Or did it represent how when one seeks absolute knowledge, he must fall? As my gaze brushed across the items I thought of an ordinary man that should have been a king; a pioneering force that thrived on nature, never satisfied until he had explored all that was explorable. I imagined him meandering in unmarked territory with only a compass as a companion; his veins brimming with wanderlust, his ink spilling from his pen. 

Maybe he was a man who saw through the falsehood of precious items like jewels and gold, how the men who wore them never deserved the power they entitled. Perhaps his treasure was bubbles. Maybe he admired their perfection, present in their fragility and their temporary existence. Or was he the treasure-hunter? The only item that inclined me to believe such a thing was the holly leaves; it was something about the sharpness of their edges. Who stole his jaw, and what did it mean to them? Was he so villainous that someone removed it while he was breathing, living, talking? Despite the scent of morbidity emanating from the skull, the left side seemed full, spirited; meaningful. The right side – cold, metallic and fragrant-less. Which was his life or was it all his? 

I didn't know. All I knew was whoever's life it was withered to a handful of items before me. I obeyed the words from the letter and painted my snapshot of this mystery-man, falling in and out of love with the several possible lives I coloured. 

My Vanitas

This ill-thought out assembly of a horde of my personals pretty much sums up my life. The funny thing is that when I came to create this, I realised that I didn’t have all that I wanted at hand. For instance, I couldn’t find my Paul Simon CD, my Jimi Hendrix T-Shirt is in the wash, there wasn’t enough room for friends and family on the blanket and Flint Lockwood was far too busy to bring his animated self to sit in for the picture. What was more surprising was what I did find and I didn’t think about. What you see before you is a snapshot of nostalgia for the most part, that begins with a poem from an ex-boyfriend, which is partially veiled by a scrap-book. The scrap-book, I discovered this afternoon in a forgotten drawer. The picture on the left is of my Year 4 class at Primary School, attached to a card from my teacher who was leaving. At the side of the photo, he has drawn a cartoon picture of himself holding a sign saying “I’ll Miss You”, which I can only assume is what triggered my response below:

Even as a bairn, my affection was won very easily. As you can see, there is some serious underlining going on. I’m not at all sure of its purpose; I only hope I can forgive my eight year-old self in spelling whole as hole. And as you can see by the beginning of this sentence, old habits never die. It’s not clear in the Vanitas image, but I’ve even written an annotation at the side of the photo stating, “This is Thomas and I fansy him”, which amused me. I wonder who I was pointing him out to. Perhaps I was writing it down just in case I forgot for a second. Either way, the whole thing cracked me up, particularly given that it was one of just three entries into a very exciting scrap-book. The following page contained a “Worker of the Week”, award from my next teacher because I had worked so terribly hard. The next page, I regret to say, is rather cringe-worthy and I shall refrain from uttering a single word about it. But, I couldn’t resist uploading the picture.                                                                                                       


I did have a comrade in this memorable moment of womanhood, but I didn't want to publicly humiliate her in an expose. It's not my most glamorous of moments. But hey, if you can make a thong work as a hair-band too, you’re just saving money really.

The next item that was a surprise was a piece of writing I did in year 11, where my teacher (who loathed me entirely mostly due to my voice and it's relentlessness, only on topics that weren't anything to do with English), told me that I had written such a serious piece for such a lively girl. "Write a book- you could do it!" How I wish I'd believed him at the time. It was really nice stumbling across this today, despite the fact that the piece I had written was kinda tosh. I was so glad to find it, because it's something I have always remembered and really meant something. So that earned a place on the bunny-rabbit blanket (a childhood treasure). 

Now I will take you over to the tennis racket laid on the left. That belongs to my Federer-loving, ace-serving pappi who has adored tennis forever and always. The comedy value is coming home to find him standing in the back room practising his serve over and over. Unfortunately, he has a bad knee due to being Mr. Sport himself and can't really play any more - apart from when he sporadically decides to wear-out my nephews on the court. But when he played, he had this spark about him just over the eyes. He lives for sport and every moment of watching him you could see it. I love that my dad loves tennis, and that means I love tennis and I will never understand why Andy Murray looks permanently miserable or Venus Williams grunts like a psychopath. 

Towards the back there is a photo of my brother Daniel and I on holiday in Italy. It was an enjoyably chaotic holiday, for we got to spend a handful of days in Milan, Bologna, Florence AND Verona; an absolutely dreamy two weeks that I wish I remembered better, or wrote about at the time, or something. I remember lots of "Ciao Bella" shouts, which would probably be much less frequent if I were to go there now. I remember swimming in the 'pool' at the front of the hotel, wondering why it was at the front of the hotel and not out the back, not contemplating that it might in fact be a water-feature that was pretty much a pool pretending to be a water-feature. The ice-cold water and blue-skin proved otherwise. It's a brilliant memory of having all the family together bonding over gilatto's and jelly-fish stings, that certain brother's offered to piss on (when in fact, you can just get some cream from the lifeguard on the beach. Needless to say, I got the cream).

The boots that are sitting at the back have been invaluable to me and kind of extraordinary. You see, I bought these boots about four years ago and they are still standing! Still standing despite the mountain climbs, trekking in the pouring rain and hail, despite walking over fire and liquid-lava. The last might not be true, but they be some good boots! And I love to walk everywhere, so the boots are not just a pair of boots but a record of all the places I have been in the last four years.

The guitar is a rather new purchase, but an instant love and addiction! But I regret to say I've done that thing us novices do, which is learned about ten chords and started making up my own songs. So long as I stick with them, I'll be dandy with a production of about five songs all containing various combinations of the same sounds. I'm not going to do that, I'm going to learn, learn and conquer the music scene (probably not), but at least add to it, maybe..? At least not take anything away from it. 

The tickets are from concerts. The train tickets are from visiting my friend Charlottie in Leeds when she went to University there. The gel seat is representative of cycling (I love cycling). The Princess Bride is my favourite film because who could be cooler than Inigo Montoya? Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the most wonderful book I have ever read and was a major inspiration to my writing. There's also a beer-mat signed by Dylan Moran who I completely idolise, because for all the nonsense he speaks, he makes more sense than most. Oh, and because he is fudging hilarious. The Easter Funnies poster is actually for a sketch-show I didn't participate in (I know, how terrible, taking credit for something I wasn't even involved in!) but I didn't have a copy of the poster from the show I did participate in. There is a broken violin bow from when I used to play, and might still had it not been broken (I swear it was my nephew). My lovely ma took me to violin lessons and stayed with me every time because the man had a high creep-factor, heck of a good teacher though! Aside from that, there is a leavers book, a small wooden chest with photos in and the first notebook I wrote in as an adult. This is my life - not completely, though by the length of this piece, you would think it was more! I wonder how you interpreted it. 

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Apple

For Craig Cass...a most ardent hater of apples. 

Apple…the big apple…how do you like those apples? You know, you really are the apple of my eye. Does anyone object to this glorification of possibly the least exciting of fruits? Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady’s, they’re all just red and green sphere’s right? I mean, it was fairly abstract that of all things, an apple fell on Newton’s head. And whoever wrote the Bible and Snow White was clearly apple-deprived during their upbringing. It would be the same if someone was deprived of climbing trees; for we all know that’s how Tarzan happened. And if a child wanted to really impress a teacher, I think it would be more suitable to present them with an excerpt from Hamlet, or spell onomatopoeia, or shut the hell up and do work in class, than to present them with an apple. Surely, a pineapple is more exciting than an apple? It still includes the word apple, and though it’s a little harder to sink your teeth into, the citric euphoria is worth the struggle. It’s the quintessential object for the metaphor “don’t judge a book by its cover”, and other things. Yeah you could say the same for an apple, but my point is: it’s an apple. The creative genius Steve Jobs made an apple the symbol of his entire life’s work. Why? Because after working for some time in an apple orchard and indulging in a fruitarian diet, Jobs decided that it was worthy. And there was some truth to his justification. He said “An apple is not intimidating”, until you make it the metaphor for places like New York; “An apple is fun”, much like the red and green traffic lights battling against each other. And “apples are…spirited”, much like I’m sure, the object of your affection is. And is it a coincidence that one of the greatest bands of all time founded Apple Records? I don’t know. People just love apples. And as I’m writing this, it’s becoming more and more obvious why they do. Apples are simple, surprising – particularly when worms worm their way into them – and they remind us of the importance of simplicity. They represent the first letter in the alphabet, and if you think about it, that’s the first thing that children usually learn. Simplicity. The foundations. The basics. And you look at the apple long enough; it begins to resemble the world.


Monday, 25 June 2012

Some kind of diary-shaped thing.

So, I've had a revelation today and clearly, that is more worthy and contented than a blank-post might be. That's not necessarily true, but here are some words and stuff about some stuff I've been thinking. I have always been obsessed with music, strums, beats, whistles, noise - real sounds have always succeeded in arousing the hairs on my neck to the extent that they almost pull my skin off. But it is only recently that I have thought, "Hey, maybe I could do this". Stupid really, to be completely absorbed by something but never partake in it. But as it is always the present, I tend not to look at the previous present and resign in a sigh because I didn't use that present for this purpose. And I'll pretend I'm not worried about lost present's because the present is never invalid, never late and never negated. this present, I am calling guitar Teachers in the local area to see if they will be able to interpret the sounds formed by my scarred larynx (after screaming along to Californiacation last night, positively dying as Flea walked across the stage on his hands) and will my musical education. Those I have spoken to thus far clearly assume correctly that I have been to a concert and am thus instantly determined to achieve rock-star status; that fame and talent is merely a guitar lesson away. "Naive twat", screamed all of their thoughts in unison. This is regrettably a little accurate, save for the rock-star status desires. I don't want to be musical to be famous (though last night I did think, "Fuck I want to make music"), I want to play and sing for the sake of playing and singing. Over the past few years I have written songs, but songs without music are a tricky one, and usually an unlikely victory. The concern is that you may be singing your words to fit the instrumental of an existing artist's song. But I couldn't do nothing. And since I need to write more than anything and didn't have ten years worth of instrument-perfecting on my side, it was my only option. So I have words but no music. But I'm hoping that is going to rapidly change. Hoping, hoping and more importantly, dreaming that I'm better than say if you asked a hyena to play the cello. I'm being discriminatory there and not taking into consideration their possible potential with a cello. How the hell would I know if a hyena could play a cello or not? Maybe it's a hypothesis that should be tested. But yeah, next stop, guitar. And I sincerely hope it's the last stop I make.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sun Days

I’ve always understood the judgement call of a snow day, particularly when I was benefitting from such an indulgence. In circumstances where it is close to impossible for children to surmount the sea of snow obstructing both their escape from their houses (except for sledging marathons) and the entrance to school, I completely understand the decision to call it off. But today, I appear to have stumbled across a new convention, some invigorating secret that I was not made privy to during my school years. I discovered the manifestation of a Sun Day. Like me prior to today, you might be a little perplexed as to what a Sun Day is, excluding the latter day of a weekend. A Sun Day, entitled due to its nature, is apparently an occasion when the sun is just that bit too alluring and deterring for children to withdraw their sungasming eyes from it and carry themselves to school. And as a vital alternative, they gather and dissipate on the beach. The difference is obvious between these two scenarios - one involves obstruction, the other, distraction. But in Whitby, both qualify as reasons to avert a day of schooling.

Of the two, I must say if one had to go, I would vote for snow days to go. I mean consider the Sun Day, particularly today and particularly in Whitby. I would have been incredulously pissed if I was within range of viewing the sea, but restricted by an opaque glass barrier and teacher-shaped dictator who prevented me running into it, in that way we all humanly have the impulse to do. You know it, I know it, and we all pretend that what’s going to happen is not going to happen. We walk along the beach, we remove our substance-less flip-flops which we all know are excessive for the sporadic flicker of sunlight that grazes the North. We proceed in walking swiftly towards the breakers and we begin to run. We run faster, running to something larger than our miserably insignificant bodies, running straight into what makes up most of the world, something unconquerable and untameable. And when we get there, when we are just on the verge of the end of the beach, our feet carrying part of it with them, we encounter something entirely familiar, yet entirely surprising. Waves, crashing into us, salting and reviving our bodies. And electrically, we throw ourselves backwards and giddily run away from the toppling crystal waters. And then we turn and repeat the running motion, yearning for the icy collision, and unfailingly gasp in astonishment when the waves repeat the same ritual as we repeat ours. We love it. We cannot help it. And we want more of it. But there is never enough of it. And we do it for as long as we can, always absorbing this fresh taste of nostalgia, this sea-salted gesture that allays every scattered thought and revitalises every dream we hold. And we long to stay there, expecting the waves to one day surprise us and shy away. But they won’t, and we love them for never disappointing. Imagine attending a school that stood opposite such an enrapturing landscape, gazing on such a human simplicity that we cannot help but adore, with no ability to indulge in it.

So, my postulation is that upon unanimous request, they invented Sun Days. Either that or all the teachers in the Whitby area couldn’t be arsed showing up today. If so, they were probably wave chasing too. 

Monday, 30 April 2012


It was dark and she was light…much lighter than the dark air pressing on his shoulders. He had always spoken with such conviction, until he heard her voice. Hers shattered his. His words broke before they fled his mouth. But she caught them in her ears and they rested there a while, before swimming through to her mind. It wasn’t the sounds of the words that made them particularly all-consuming. She had heard the words before, spoken them, but it was the look that delivered the words…that irresistible thought-stilling look.

It almost didn’t happen. It was like juggling, only with words. What he was supposed to say, and what would have been conventionally appropriate to say was “Congratulations” or “Kudos” or any other token of praise. He didn’t need to say anything at all. And yet he was compelled to say something, and for reasons unknown to him, it had to be the right something. He had to have the right words. And what he did say...he almost need not have said.

“Though I am not…somehow…in your presence…I am.”

Puzzling words - extensively ambiguous words, words completely absent of, and yet completely electrified with meaning. And she held his stare for some time, more out of paralysis than anything else. He had heard her singing, that alchemy that dazzled and enraptured him. So…what else could there be? He had listened and she had sung straight from her soul, so what was he looking for? Did he need a visual? Could her eyes ever convey it?

And suddenly, for less than a nanosecond, less than was possible to qualify as time…he saw it. And as he saw it, she felt his, their whole lives in motion though they were standing perfectly still. The magic he had longed for…the impossible she believed did not exist. They had it…

…But that’s the tragedy - the life-breaking reality. It was over before it had begun, for that was it, that one moment, the break in the circuit. That was that moment you have all been warned about and conditioned to avoid. That was the moment when two people of our human breed felt too much.

They felt so much…that they both burst into flames. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

If I had a pet alpaca...

I want a pet alpaca. I would call it Meeko and Meeko and I would be buddies. We would compare stories and lives, my loves and her conquests. Meeko would be irresistibly funny; a humour that need not upset the feelings of others to shake my whole being and separate continents as an earthquake would. Meeko would say "mmm" and I would instantly realise that she was saying "I had a pet human once, but then humans developed brains. And my human pet beat me in an enunciation contest, saying ‘mmmmm’ - wait a minute, ‘mmm’, just one moment.” She would clear her throat at this moment. “It was simply the letter ‘mmm’, you see, this is how she won". 

Meeko and I would meander until the dark gathered up all the light and put it in his pocket. Darkness is usually the most fearsome thing, but it wouldn't be if Meeko was by my side. I would tell Meeko what her name means: that she has great strength and is very wise, according to Babynology website. To which she would respond “mm mm m mm?” which would mean “what is a website?” which would have been more convincing if she didn’t  then collapse on the floor, emitting a series of hysterical “mmm’s” asserting that EVERYBODY - even alpaca’s - know about the internet. That would be Meeko. I would tell her about prime ministers and that she is 1000% smarter and better looking than them. She would “mm mm mm, mm mm mm”, meaning “you’re too much, really too much”. I would then tell her that they are more pompous than the word pompous intended, but if that weren’t the case, then I might watch the news, because then at least the news would be news. If it is only ever what you expect (excluding exceptional, unfathomably possible events) then by definition, Meeko, it is not called news.  

I would then point out the stars and tell her that every single one of them was burning for her, because she was smiling so kindly. I would then explain that if she were to stop, the stars would die away and there would be nothing to separate me from the darkness. She wouldn’t like that idea, so she would promise that she would always smile as long as I was smiling. We would wander, and drink the finest eye-wrenching tequila, and hum along to the ukulele. We would seek out climbable trees and I would climb them and throw a rope down for her so that I could pull her up to the tallest branch. And we would see all of nature communicating, complimenting each other. We would follow the ivy with our eyes as it made its way up trees. We would watch daisies being altruistic, shedding their hair to enable the happiness of children. “He loves me, he loves me not – ohhhhhhh”, and just in that moment, the daisy would grab the spare hair they had been concealing in their stem, while the child wasn’t watching of course. Then the daisy would clear their throat. “What’s that? Wait a second…Oh! He DOES love me!” We would sit there and I would offer Meeko the hay I had brought along for her. This would be the hay I usually filled my rabbit hutch with, but Bernie wouldn’t mind sharing, especially with Meeko. He would love Meeko more than he loved hay. 

And Meeko and I would have adventures that were true, and full of feeling and life. And if I fell down, or lost my way, Meeko would protect me, because Meeko would be strong…and Meeko would be wise. I wish I were like Meeko, the entirely hypothetical, imaginary wonder. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Shadows and Quadrilaterals

Creative Writing Workshop Exercise: To walk around the room impossibly slowly and write what we saw, our thoughts and triggered memories. 

Everything. It’s staggered. A ticking clock. It is every rooms dictator. When the room is fruitful of life. The stadium sits open in the distance. The green drowning in drizzle. A light smothers my face. An air vent is nestled in the wall. So small, that no human breed could crawl through. Not if under attack. His shadow paints the board. But shadows change. Shadows are replaced by the shadows of others. Even replaced by shadows of inanimate things. Imagine that. Locomotion enabled shadow theft.

A plug hangs directly below a vacant plug socket. Teamwork is rejected I guess. Or maybe electricity has told them where to go.
I’ve borrowed the sky to clothe my legs today. Only, I didn’t say please. That could be the reason it is raining. Someone has abandoned their phone. The Mayan Apocalypse must be imminent. Pieces of paper rustle as they are indented by caffeinated pens. Changing them. Possibly forever.

The desire to be comfortable. Maybe seated. With a cherry-flavoured slush puppy. All of those disconnected buildings. All alone, mocked by the taller ones. Isn’t it odd how taller buildings become egotistical? There’s paper supporting a table. It doesn’t make sense. My eyes are drawn to trust. Open bags exposing money bound in leather and expensive music-playing technology.

It has stopped raining.

There are but two bottles of water in the room. The rest are caffeinated and E-numbered. I really like the colour of burgundy. But it really doesn’t suit that house. The camera is watching us, wondering about us. What are we doing?

Is the clock dictating us now? Or is it not?

The screen is now blue. It also must have borrowed from the sky. That would explain why it is now raining again.

Everything is a quadrilateral. Tables. Chairs. Wall panels. Window panes. Blinds. We exist within a cube. It’s how we trap space. We make cubes. Triangles lack the capability of space-stealing.

A man crosses the road on his mobile phone. He does not look left and right. Police sat in their quadrilateral van are doing nothing but enjoying their space.

Smoke is diffused defacing building upon arrogant building. Excretions from Corus are forming new clouds, or rather, transforming existing clouds. Giving them new faces. I am thrown back into childhood, into Fern Gully. The monster whose name I momentarily forget. I watched Fern Gully on a quadrilateral screen.

We’re still staggering, barely moving, but barely still. A body that yearns to move forward, to move faster, to change shape and angle, is denied. A body that’s prohibited. Right now anyway. At least we are protected, in our cube. The mediator between me and the sky who I didn’t give an I.O.U. to. Poor sky. But come on. There’s too much sky and too little time to dress to worry about manners.  

Monday, 9 April 2012


Sometimes it feels like more than it is - an all-pervasive sweeping breeze of nostalgia that refuses to alter its course. Sometimes it’s a song, often and surprisingly one you haven’t heard before, or even associated with anything enough for it to be imprinted on your mind. It’s this human thing, something we all cannot shake, a surge of liquid ecstasy drifting around in our bodies. Nostalgia, everywhere, always, a feeling of “Was it better then?” or “Did I even exist then?”

I’m frequently engaged in nostalgia, for it shadows me like a cloud shadows the sun. Maybe it’s innate, maybe it has a hypersensitive sensor that simply cannot withstand an entire 3 minutes of John Denver’s senses being filled up without making my eyes secrete water like a flooded sponge. It’s "Run around Sue", and "Walk of Life", and every Jimi Hendrix song that I didn’t see live. It’s a whole collection of jigsawed words that when strung together and strummed inspire every cell of my being to make music.

A wander in the country

Thoughts give us company – they are always pining for our attention.“I’m significant! Listen to me! Stop drooling over the countryside”. Invading our liberty, “You do realise that you are sat, in the country, on a rock, alone, and its getting dark and your phone is in your car. I’m just trying to make you aware of that. Go back to ignoring me now”. And you feel like you have to because your priority lies not with safety but with experience. Because you feel that this is real, that this means everything more than everything else. And you don’t want to return to the constraints, though insulation is a beneficial one, which your very chilly back would agree with. This is you and the Earth with no middle-man or obstacle. And the strangest thing is that talking to yourself through thought makes it feel as though your brain and body are separate entities. What a strange and unfathomably wonderful thought, assuring that though walking alone, you are never lonely. 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Oh how I love the moon.

Often, I become obsessed with the moon. It usually happens when it’s been overeating glow-paint and cheese. How are you so colossal, yet when I cover you with my index you disappear? I jog to tire my body, to lose excess energy for the hope of sleeping tonight, and my sight is stolen, every time. I cannot look anywhere else for it is pupil dilating, to the extent that my irises outrank the moon in size and luminosity. The oddest thing about this habitual engagement, me and the moon sharing a staring contest, is that I feel like I am running towards it. Every spring fuelled step is a jump that pushes me higher and higher in to the sky, closer to my unblinking friend. But I don’t get closer, and that’s the funny old thing. I hate that I never get closer, but I always try to, knowing that I’m not going to. But it floods me with this feeling of security and wonder. Though the dimness that paves the evening offers only the reassurance that it’s possible something bad might happen, the moon is always there to catch your eye, and remind you that it’s unblinking and overprotective in its invariable moony way.

Just another play-thing.

There once was a girl who thirsted to make her own music. It was her first day of school when it first spoke to her and consumed her thoughts. She was but 5 years old when initially drawn to the violin, an instrument that was most vividly imprinted on her mind so that she would think of it by day and by dream. Dancing through the corridors of the school twirling into euphoric dizziness and every so often tugging on her mothers arm, the girl was guided around the place she would occupy for the next 6 years of her life. She believed that Mrs Lily, the teacher leading them was made entirely out of plums. It was the only way to explain the sweet aroma of plums that followed Mrs Lily in every direction she moved. 

The little girl was excited, boundlessly in fact. Everything was so BIG. So colourfully perfect. They strolled by Mrs Kingly’s classroom, wealthy of a thousand pairs of eyes all gazing up at the storyteller sporting the wizard hat. They passed the ceramic fountain, the girl’s eyes temporarily taken from her by the angel spurting water from her mouth. The girl detached herself from her mothers arm and ran over behind the figure to mimic the angel’s pert lips, so that it appeared the water was coming from the little girl’s mouth. Her mother laughed lovingly before joining hands with her and pulling her along. Walking across the courtyard, they entered the arts and crafts department, decorated solely by the children with monsters of every variation adorning the walls. There were giant frogs with ice blasting guns and laser vision, dinosaurs with triple-heads and the power of fire and computers that had legs and arms and consciousness.

The little girl was inspired, though she felt she would have gone about designing these monsters with a bit of practicality. For instance she would have given the frog a coat because he was frequently going to be surrounded by ice. And given the dinosaur three tails so that they could each express how they were feeling individually. And she wouldn’t ever conceive the possibility of a computer having consciousness. That would be ridiculous. While walking through this tunnel of artwork, her impatient eyes were drawn to the room on the left, the door of the music room slightly ajar, bordering a perfect, glistening blue violin.

In this moment, her thoughts were solely replaced with music, music of every form and flavour. She suddenly stopped dancing and became fixated on this wooden piece of art. I mean trees are art in themselves, but to transform them in such a way that music can flow through them? Her mother dragged her along. For the second that she had watched, she had noticed the 4 strings veiling the spine and neck, the twirls of wood at the peak, the gleam bouncing off the neck rest at the bottom. But now she was moving swiftly through the Science corridor and even the familiar giant frog with freeze power creating cold fusion on the walls wasn’t a sufficient stimulant for her attention.

There was no way around it, the inevitable. There were 3 years 7 months and 23 days to endure before she was able to put paint to her dream. 3 Years, 7 months and 23 days of longing gazes, of watching other children’s fingers running riot all over the treasure. Some of them would thud their grubby stubs onto the neck and slap their talent-less hands all over the body, which the little girl constantly complained to the teachers about. But of course, they did nothing. They were nonchalant, and why shouldn’t they be, they couldn’t understand. Each time she walked by the music room she would sigh, squint her eyes at the poor child attempting to use the violin as a tambourine, remind herself of the bigger picture and walk on.

And today was the day of all days. The ground split in two beneath her mother at the sight of the little girl who was not only awake before 5ambut also smiling like a Cheshire cat, jumping constantly for a solid half an hour before she appeared to require a breath. It was her 9th birthday and what promise it held! It was the day she had been waiting for, the holy grail of birthdays- it was audition day. They were holding try outs at break time, which she immediately disagreed with, believing it was much more important than the morning Math’s lesson. But she bit her tongue and maintained composure, if you call spinning on her chair for 2 hours (almost certainly entering different dimensions during this spin-athon) composed.

And the bell rang and she leapt off the chair mid-spin. However rapidly she sprinted to the assembly hall, she somehow made it last through the door. She watched with patience, as the music teacher explained the audition process. What this lady required was for each student to sing a scale effectively (I’m not sure how this tested their ability to play) and following the success of producing a scale that didn’t shatter glass, they would proceed on to the next stage. The lady approached the first girl. "Could you sing me a scale please?" The girl obeyed and sang beautifully."Thank you. Now, show me your hands." The little girl didn’t expect her quizzical brow to crop up that day, but what do you know, there it was, almost surpassing her forehead. Show me your hands? What on earth was she looking for? The girl held out her hands. "Excellent, you can play the violin." Determining who could play the violin based on the posture of their hands? What kind of a jip is that? "That’s…different. But it must be essential otherwise they wouldn’t test people in this way", thought the little girl.

The lady moved onto the next candidate. "Hello, could you sing me a scale please?" This girl’s voice seemed to somehow jam drumsticks into the ears of all others present in the room, most of all, the girl with the '9 Today' badge on. With trepidation, the music teacher said "Hands?" The girl held out her hands. "Fantastic! Wonderful! You can play the violin." The birthday girl shuddered. But now it was her turn. The lady moved across, very slowly and stopped in front of her. "Wow that certainly is a beautiful badge. Is it your birthday today honey?" In all her anxiety, the little girl thought this part of the test or that the teacher was questioning her age. "Yes, of course. I have my birth certificate at home if you want proof." The music teacher looked puzzled, "Oh no darling, I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday." The little girl’s cheeks flushed. "Oh…th-thank you." "Could you sing a scale for me please?" And here it was, her time to shine.

She sang and it had a few pitches she hadn’t hoped for, but the teacher smiled at her none-the-less, through those huge spectacles of hers. 'Thank you, and can I see your hands?' She held them out for the teacher. And the teacher’s eyes grew 7 times larger through those unflattering glasses.

Gasping, she let out a shriek of horror. "Oh good heavens! What on earth are those? Those insults to the human form, those loathsome paws of mutant origin – they are crooked, crooked fingers. Ghastly! Unnatural! I’m sorry, very sorry, to tell you this, but-" and the teacher couldn’t finish her sentence before running to the bathroom to be sick. Pale faced, she returned and made her apologies. "I’m sorry, so sorry to do this on your birthday, but it is my regret to tell you that you cannot – and will not- ever be able to play the violin."

The girl’s bottom lip was now vibrating. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with her hands, but obviously if her teacher said there was, there must have been. She was older, wiser, better, taller; the little girl was merely 9 years old and realised in that moment, the teacher with the big hair and unflattering glasses had ruined her life (or rather the whole of the next hour, if we are speaking in literal terms).

Distraught; the girl left the hall where the auditions had been held, a lump present in her throat for the whole next lesson, a grief she had never felt before this day. And before she knew it, the final bell bellowed, but that wasn’t a sanctuary as she was a frequenter of the after school club. It might be necessary to mention that at this particular club, the little girl didn’t have one friend in the world and that this particular club was supervised by the same lady who had hours before ruined her life, but what may be more important to mention at this point, is that this particular club was held in a room that was 3 doors down from the music room, which on this particular day, as she was walking by she would discover; was unlocked.

With the smile of the Cheshire cat returning and growing, the girl swiftly threw her eyes left and right, aware that the only noise in the building was coming from the after-school room which happened to have its door closed. Virtually undetectable, she slipped like a piece of paper might through a small gap in between two tables into the music room.

Dozens of instruments bordered the room, as well as pictures of great musicians of whom she had no idea about. The names Niccolo Paginini and Sebastian Bach had not starred in any of the animated programmes she had been watching. But the messages written below them were revolutionary to her. "There is a violinist within us all". "I am what all of you have the power to be". "Believe and it will be so".  The paintings had faded to the point of dullness but the message was bolder than anything.  

"I could be great, like them. Stupid teacher, stupid stupid lady with her big hair and thick unflattering glasses. There is nothing crooked or sickening about my hands."

To the left, below a fountain of light flowing through the window in the roof, stood the violin. She traversed the room, fixated on the instrument, the curves it fell into, the velvet shadow it created. Those swirling slits that showed a dark mysteriousness inside where music was magically formed before swimming through the gaps. She clasped the neck, gently and admired for a while.

There was a long pause, nothing in existence but her and this violin. She lifted her right hand, not too quickly, and released her fingers. And something horrible ensued. They began plucking the strings- incessantly, which naturally instilled pain in her ears. Shuddering, she thought maybe the lady with the big hair and unflattering glasses was right. 'My hands are crooked'. She let out a wail so great, it could break your heart upon hearing it. Wiping the water of her tears away, she glanced up at a picture of one of the musicians and noticed he was not plucking the violin in order to make music. This man, had a special “tool” that glided across the strings to inspirit melody.

But where was it? All she could see was ruddy maraccas, enough to supply an entire mariachi band. Suddenly she started dizzying herself around the room, her grabbing hands pulling away slightly bigger violins with more strings from the sides, books full of squiggly symbols, microphones and long tubes with holes along them. She searched a good seven minutes before retiring in a heap exhausted. Where could she possibly have missed? She sighed, sitting on a chair that quadrupled her frame and rested her head against the backbone so that her head tilted upwards, in the most convenient fashion. She noticed a box atop a shelf, placed high up on the right wall. Her sighing spirit evaporated and she was back in the game. Springing up without conscious effort she began arranging amplifiers to build a ladder, after quickly considering and rejecting the idea of building a ladder out of maraccas. And so she began arranging, using three of the larger ones for the base, but realising there was only one that was slightly smaller than the bases size and the others were dramatically smaller. So with care and logic, she placed the one medium sized amplifier in the middle, alongside one that was about an eigth of it’s size. After doing this effectively, she placed the last one at the peak and prayed to God that she would make it through this alive. 

She steadied herself and raised her foot to the first step, holding out her arms for balance. She wobbled nervously, but with composure and mental willpower, ascended to the next level leading with her left foot. Her left knee was now slightly shaking, a parallel with her teeth. Once she had found comfort in her stance, slowly, she ascended to the last level and maintained good balance. Following a mental victory dance, gulping, she stretched higher than Everest. As high as her fingers would permit without detaching from her body, so close that it was about to crawl into her grasp. She skimmed the lining of the box before the explosion of the momentum she had built up caused her whole body to fall forward and lunge into a crouching position with her hands clinging on to the rims of the top amp. This was now looser than the snow on all the mountains was after that girl had butchered the scale.

Now a lip-wobbling wreck and a human tremor, she tried again and this time, increased the gap between her feet to find balance. "Physics!", she thought. And she lifted her arms, legs, fingers and toes as far as she could, when suddenly, glancing down at her elevated feet so close to the front of the amp, a red alert screaming "Physics!" appeared before her as she fell the 3 flights of ladder facefirst onto the floor. "Thank God for the pile of maraccas", she thought. She reassembled her ladder and focused on staying closest to the centre. Reaching the top, she reached and reached then retreated for a second. Her arms flailed and they pounced, then she retreated some more. Just before exhaustion, she resumed a standing position. "I can DO this!" She lifted her hands as far as she could skimming the top shelf, higher still and "JACKPOT!" Grabbing the thin lining and coaxing it towards the edge, she wrapped it in the other hand and safely stole if from the shelf.“Hoorah! I’ve got it!” She jumped from the amp tower, straight into a moonwalk, complimented by an arm swinging marathon and a time warp rendition before heel clicking several times in the air to finish.

Remembering what the whole exercise was for, she dived on the floor and with a minor pause, she delicately opened the box, revealing the lining of green velvet, an indented outline of a violin on the bottom and two straps safely harnessing the 'tool' she had so desired in the top half. She explored the item, twisting the end which seemed to tighten the strands of blonde hair that were fastened to the thin piece of wood.

Once tightened, the girl lifted the tool, rose and walked across the room to the violin. Collecting it in her left hand, she placed it carefully under her chin, like the pictures encouraged her to do. Her eyelashes joined, her right arm raised lifting with it the missing link and delicately, she stroked the strings, pressing her left fingers down at the same time.

She…no longer…was in the room, or in her own body for that matter. All thoughts were  absent, the Universe- irrelevant. For her 'loathesome paws of mutant origin', found every, single, note. Dancing along the spine, pirouetting through the clouds and slipping into diagonal motions across the full gerth of the middle, the music was all that existed. Through listening to the notes, she was able to reproduce symphonies from the ages, tranqulent classical pieces she had heard in adverts and old movies. Her eyelashes could not unjoin if she asked them to. Tchaikovsky and Beethoven fled from her fingertips, a plethora of sounds encircling her so that she was immersed within them. A scene from Swan Lake. Enigmatically beautiful, the girl had become so absorbed that she had not noticed the river of children and teachers who had entered the room during her playing. With a flawless finale of 'Adagio for Strings', after an extended last stroke, her eyelashes unjoined, her lids opening to reveal a hundred (well actually, thirteen) marvelling faces.

What was interesting is that all the faces were different – startled, bemused, petrified! All seemingly a result of her disobedience in playing the violin. She suddenly realised the outcome of her misbehaviour and dropped her eyes to the floor.

"I’m so sorry. Loathesome, crooked, mutant-like, I heard it all. Here…take it", said the little girl holding out the violin to the lady with the big hair and unflattering glasses.

Bemused by the gesture with tears in her eyes, the lady took a few moments to gather everything that she needed to say. She refused the gesture of the violin, while saying the words "Hush, hush now child. I cannot begin to tell you what you absolutely need to hear right now. Now, do not mistake me, for I am very aware of the beauty of language in all it’s marvellousness. The invention has transformed the world in so many powerful and wonderful ways. But no words have they formed, or if there were words available, could I place them together to ever fully describe what you have just done in here. The bow in your hands is not just a thin piece of wood with horse hair attached." (So that’s what it’s called.) "You are the wizard to the wand, the sorceror to the stone – you turn music into magic child. The violin is yours, I must implore you to share your gift with the world, for you are one with it."

The little girl placed the violin back on its stand and sighed."Yeah, I’m kind of bored of it now, how about I be one with the Maraccas instead?"

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A memorable trip to the Dentist's.

Declining backwards, I opened my jaw and felt the icy metal penetrate.


“Pardon me?”

“Sorry, that appears to be my body’s natural reaction to sharp metal objects dancing around in my mouth”.

“Oh right, oh bravo! Well really this will only take a second, try not to worry. And remember, let me know at any point if it hurts and I will stop.”

Writhing back and forth, back and forth, tugging and slicing into my gum, the nerve endings erupted with pain. Through the obstacles shoved in my mouth, I let out, “Igh urst”. The yanking persisted. “Igh gurst”.

“Almost there now, almost”-

“Igh ursthl!”

“And there we go, managed to get the little fellow”. Disdain and a quivering jaw met the dentist’s elated eyes.

“I’m sorry, I realise you were saying something there but I almost had it so I thought it best to keep going. How are you feeling?”

“Blike anh kice skathe has rode acrossth my bare gum?” The dentist chuckled, the sadistic bastard.

“Oh you are a witty character aren’t you?”

Cheek inflated by what must have been a gobstopper, I declined the invitation to join him in merriment.

“Right then, that’s you all done. Could you hand these documents to the receptionist on your departure please? Oh and before I forget, there’s an anonymous questionnaire to complete as well”.

Dr Perish failed to recognise my indignation as I snatched the forms from his grasp. This was possibly a side effect of constantly being surrounded with morphine, though I somehow didn’t get a look in. Typical. 

And closing the door of his torture chamber, I pensively confirmed the reason I had postponed visiting the dentist for two years. A brief scan of the waiting room was enough justification for toothless, baby food-consuming adults everywhere.

There they were…the countless, cretinous, screaming, brow-furrowing things, each hanging from chandelier and coffee table. I tried to count them but the constancy of their shrieking tackled every thought as soon as it formed. Some of the things had 3 other things hanging off them. It was some sort of junglegym, only instead of wood or plastic it was woven with humans and drool. There wasn't an adult in sight, and in my panic I think I might have carelessly ticked "Strongly Agree", on the questionnaire, stating that Dr. You Will Perish "exceeded my expectations". I suppose you could argue that he did, I mean I wasn't expecting to bleed quite so much, to cry quite so loudly and to lose 40 pounds from failure to consume any solids for 5 weeks. And I suppose I do feel like I "gained heightened awareness", from the experience. In the future I will brush my teeth at least 5 times a day, ALWAYS floss and never ever book an appointment with someone whose name suggests demise. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A couple of pieces from my poetry journal...

My first attempt at a Villanelle.

I hit replay

I hit replay
and that boy with ebony eyes
walks over only to walk away.

With logic at bay,
sedated by wine
I hit replay.

A figure that breaks
through static time
walks over only to walk away.

His voice that baits
shadows mine,
as I hit replay.

Two lives did fray
so were inclined
to walk over only to walk away.

Yet the moments of fey
waltz in my mind
as I hit replay,
as if we had not walked away.

An experimental pantoum...


Bound in frost the heather wakes,
And grass glazed peppered with dew,
Stretches to where the clouds quake,
Urging the sun to climb through,

Gently dancing upon the lake,
Softly bending rivers blue,
The slicing fin, the water breaks,
A beauty of unbridled truth,

Suddenly all is awake,
Enraptured in the days hue,
Velvet blends of nature shake,
And sprout spheres of orange fruit. 

And time escapes in colours blue,
Replaced by natures tragic fate,
A tempest that steals all that was new,
But bound in frost the heather stays.

A 'proper' pantoum...


Silken flakes of white,
They fall and dress each face,
And every strand of hair they splice,
Shines through iced lace,

They fall and dress each face,
And every thread of life,
Shines through iced lace,
In an ashen cloudless night,

And every thread of life,
They stand as still as clay,
In an ashen cloudless night,
They stay,

They stand as still as clay,
Urging mother nature’s might,
They stay,
And watch her paint with light,

Urging mother nature’s might,
With temperature at bay,
They watch her paint with light,
For from the sky she sprays,

With temperature at bay,
They glisten like starlight,
For from the sky she sprays,
Silken flakes of white. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

How I stumbled pen-first into writing.

It all began with an unprecedented cruising adventure...

It was February 2011 when Charlotte emailed what can only be described as the most enthusiasm-fuelled email that has ever escaped ones 'Drafts' box. I imagined her panting fingers typing "Half-price, they're HALF-PRICE. Let's go on THREE consecutive cruises! Let's conquer the WORLD! I'll bet some of the ships even go to SPACE!" My recall might be a little unreliable on that front, but I reciprocated with the excitement by calling her while in the middle of reading the first sentence (while tigger-ing around the room). That was all that was required, rendering her efforts in writing a 75 page long email (explaining how this cruise was essential to her life's continuence) as rather pointless. But I do believe my answer was "Yabba-dabba-Chappa!!!!" or something to that effect, which she seemed fairly pleased about.

At the time of this proposition, I was working full-time in an office environment and reeling in the predictably insufficient wages one would imagine. But boy, freeloading sure can pay off (I kid, my parent's robbed me BLIND). And Charlotte was an impeccably organised and capable student. Thus it was possible, and possible was all we needed. I have forever thirsted to explore Europe and Charlotte likewise, so naturally, we booked it immediately. Unfortunately, I was naive as to how exciting the two months leading up to the trip would truly be. I was not aware for instance, that if you are to meander through Middlesbrough with seven dimensions of excitement dancing in your pupils, that you should "expect to get arrested". I say that in jest, it would be highly amusing though surely. Even if there had been multiple arrests I would have forgiven all after spending eight interminable nights in Europe.

The day of departure arrived sooner than it felt possible. Preparations were tiresome, as they are when preparing for a journey of eight nights which requires no less clothing than is necessary for an entire lifetime of cocktail-sipping and sun-consuming. We were boarding at Tilbury, which required waking at an obscenely early hour in order to arrive before the ship departed. Though Charlotte's exhaust over-exerted itself in its suicide mission, we were able to salvage it with some of Asda's finest wire, preventing it sparking and blowing us up. Though we arrived with our limbs in a different composition, we made it to Tilbury surprisingly early.

As we climbed aboard, the level of excitement was apparent all over our stupidly delighted faces, right up until we remembered that we hadn’t labelled our luggage, just after we placed it in the custody of the attendants.

 “Noooooo”, we grieved in unison.

Fortunately, they were Superattendants and all was waiting for us when we entered our cabin. A wave of relief washed over us. After a quick fire-drill, we pottered across to the deck, sipping in the breath-freezing Southern air awaiting our departure. Thoughts of the following eight nights were like marble art for the brain.
With me, I had brought a note-pad; with the intention of writing a travel journal. The truth that time my writing was in a deep, irrevocable state of 'being on hiatus' after I had convinced myself in college that it wouldn’t take me anywhere. But the truth is I didn't know where I wanted to go at that time. The aura of uncertainty that manifested in my early departure from college continued to loom making life a daily struggle of ungratified self-enquiry. "What am I to do with my life? I can do plenty of things well, but what will I do? Will I do anything that extends the hairs on my neck?" This was a grave worry that clashed with my sunny demeanour.

I sat back and allowed my focus to be stolen by the emptiness of the pool, an enclosure perfectly designed to harness water for (my guess was), swimming in. An empty pool was but a ditch in the boat and this confused me. Maybe there was an abundance of skateboarders on board who insisted on it, some mid-70’s wild cards with flame-coated wheels and backwards caps that asserted their inner youth. The surrounding blue of the above and below seemingly had no separation. I was completely absorbed. And it was within this moment that I began writing, writing everything that surrounded me, writing everything that occurred within me. What was most significant for me was that I was writing...