War

‘They say war is coming, that they want it so it’ll happen . . .  Just like that! It doesn’t matter if you are the son of the mayor or of the dustbin man, it doesn’t matter what you think or what you feel.  As soon as you join up, they’ll ship you out.  Give you a rifle, a round, help you point it and let you start shooting.  It doesn’t matter that you are scared or do not want to kill, it doesn’t matter if you miss the birthdays of your nearest and dearest.  This is war!  War does not stop for the dead, and it doesn’t stop for the living!  It will continue regardless of what you think, so they say.  Join up and get in the fight, prove yourself, prove that you are a man!’

Here, at this junction, he takes a rest and leans against the pillow before starting again.

‘I’ve heard it before and I’ll hear it again.  Our lives are not so short that we won’t live through war, a war, any war.  Just think about it boy, there must be a hundred wars going on right now – all across the globe people are fighting for this or that, spilling blood for the power of belief.  Killing is justified, they say, it is justified because it helps to prove that what you say, what you believe, is right, is the only way.  We must fight to take back our land!  We must fight to stop them!  We must fight to prove ourselves!  We must fight because this fat bastard insulted me!’

Another rest before he carries on more lucidly.

‘Wars are funny things my son, they are odd things . . .  They are both natural and unnatural.  Nature telling us that we are too numerous and too many, that we need to thin the population somewhat, create a bottleneck so we can survive.  Wars are the outcome of the idle rich, of those that seek power and revenge.  War ain’t nothing good, but we’re used to it.  Society accepts the causes and the outcomes, realizes that there is always a price to pay.’

War is war, the living are the living and the dead are the dead, I wanted to add.

‘There is nothing to see here son but history, the ashes of a thousand dreams . . .’

‘Dad?  Can you hear me dad, I’m right here . . . Just give me your hand dad, you’ll be okay.  I love you.  I’ll be back soon, okay?’

The nurse shepherds the son out, who is caught briefly off-guard by the single tear running down the older man’s left cheek.  This speech wasn’t anything knew, but I knew that the son had to try and talk to his father, to try and establish reality once more.

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Still Life: Bedroom Scene

The guitar leans silently against the wall.  Both the pint glass and the cup are empty, the plate too is bereft of what was once resting upon it.  He is sated, fed and watered, content to watch videos streaming on the computer laid out in front of him.  There was no conversation taking place here, no exchange of ideas or of intimacies, no special spark between a bond shared.  It was as it was pictured.

That the walls once rang out with the thrill of love and the laughter of friendship was not deniable, that this would occur once again a known truth.  For the moment though this was a simple moment to relax, to enjoy the stillness present at this known time of deep changes.  For the walls did not move but the foundations surely did shake in their silent scream of protest.

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Photograph by the author using a Pentax Super ME camera and lomography colour film (if I remember rightly), please attribute if used elsewhere.

The Sea is My Sister

When I think of home I think of the sea, of the waves breaking against the rocks and the frothing remainder meeting the land in a head-on rush to embrace it.  I remember the time as a child when I was caught on a sandbar between the incoming tide and a deepening pool of seawater between the beach and I, making the pool a barricade that I had nearly lost the will, resolve and confidence to overcome.  I was scared of the things that could be lurking in the water, of the large flat jellyfish waiting with their tentacles outstretched and the crabs poised with their claws open, ready to snap at a moment’s hesitation on my part.

My feet were lost to the cold depths at this point and I could feel only the rush of water around my torso even though the bright intense sun hovered overhead, warming each body laid out on the beach in front of me, as if to mock my situation and to suggest that life went on no matter what happened to me.  With my cries of worry and my arms waving feebly I was eventually noticed and saved by an older brother who guided me by hand across the treacherous water that had so frightened and paralysed me.

I’d wanted the safety of the land, of something solid under my feet where I could look to the sea unmolested by creatures of the deep.  I’d become trapped because I was not paying attention to what was happening around me as I was too busy splashing in the water, resting on the sandbar and admiring the view of family and friends relaxing by the sea.

The journey to get to that beach had felt like a holiday in itself, not a fifteen minute drive from my family home.  Packed in the car, almost as tightly as sardines, we would be wearing our swimming trunks clasping plastic spades and buckets.  Sometimes a store box, packed with frozen ice packs, accompanied us and was filled full of cool and refreshing snacks that we’d eat after an hour or two of heating up in the fresh salt tinged air.  The North Sea would sometimes bring winds that had rallied and rolled across the water coming from as far away as Holland or Denmark, maybe even Norway at a push, or so I had hoped.  It was naive to think such things perhaps but I liked the thought of being connected with the countries that we had visited on holidays in the past.

After our little swim and exploration of the sand the two families would trudge back to the parked car, heading through a sandy beach that morphed into a half-hearted shingle before giving way once more to sand dunes, where shark sticks of dried grass would prick your feet and legs as you hobbled over them.  It was customary to then shake our clothes free of sand, shaking our bodies in union as we did so, and then push on to purchase an ice cream in a cone and try to all fit into the car once again.  We’d had a day at the beach and the sun had tired us out, we needed food and drink to replenish the physical and mental energy that we had lost exploring for shells, oddly shaped stones, the dried out remains of crabs and the dodging of the rubbish that protruded through the sand itself.

I had thought about these summer family trips to the beach years later as I relaxed in the back garden of my university house during my undergraduate years of study.  I had gotten lucky with this house so close to the university campus and the local parade of shops – French doors, from my room, led directly into our fairly big back garden where, during the summer, autumn and spring seasons, my house mates and I could relax unencumbered by walls.  We read in the sun, drank beer and burnt meat during numerous BBQ’s, we solidified our relationships here too.  It was the ideal relaxation area late on a Friday after a week full of lectures, research and writing, where we could gather with a few of our friends and get a mild buzz from drinking beers in the evening sun.  Music accompanied those gatherings, music that hung in the cooling air and permeated our bodies to slowly drift off out into the night once we had taken our fill.

The grass under my feet and the fact that I often took off my T-shirt as I lay on the grass meant that I felt truly rooted to the ground and I could stare at the sky freely, my eyes wandering from cloud to cloud or bird to bird as they popped into view.  It felt good being partially clothed, to feel the heat of the sun on my own skin or the coldness of the northern breeze against my chest.  It was different from sitting in a cool lecture theatre absorbing the information like a sponge, making notes on what I wanted to research and to write about for the next essay or presentation that popped up regularly, like ships on the horizon that appear in a pleasingly timely manner.  I wouldn’t admit it to myself, but I enjoyed the peace and the quiet away from the others that came with being down in the back garden by myself.  It had a timeless quality, that it felt like I could be a student forever and never truly grow up.

But still, I missed the sea.  The waves that broke, that swelled, that seemed to bore ceaselessly on against the land that I called home.

Lips To Kiss

A half finished painting that sits in my room, ready to be completed some day soon.  I am an amateur artist at best, rarely dedicating time to painting and thus rarely improving.  I do however enjoy the freedom to partake in it when I feel that urge to the push paint across canvas, to see what shapes appear and what ideas formulate before me.  This painting sprang forth one day in the garden whilst I was absently scraped paint and, using a brush, picked out the lines of the lips.  Lips seem, to me, so human in the variety of the ways that we use them.  That simple delicate touch of a kiss, which can be intimate and playful or formal and curt.  That these lips also represent another pair found on the human body is, of course, pure chance but they fit within the theme of love and all of the lust, romance and passion that this involves and entails across a life well lived.

Whatever you are doing today and whatever you are up to tonight, know that you are loved in some way by some one in this beautiful and harsh world of ours.

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Acrylic on canvas, painted by the author. Lips are meant for kissing and for loving. If the photograph is shared please attribute as appropriate.

On Health and Safety: Part 2

Q.2. A fire has broken out in the building that you currently work in, endangering the staff present and the building itself.  What should your first course of action be?

Please select one of the answers below

a. The fire has broken out just at the right time as it is currently your break period.  Cracking open your little used locker you locate the marshmallows that have sat in the locker for the past 8 months and, using a fork no-one has cleaned within the past month, you head over to where the fire is and toast the marshmallows.  You laugh hysterically as your colleagues vacate the building whilst you sate your belly.

b. The fire is close to your desk, however you notice that Gill, on secondment from the Lancaster office, is trying to leave before you do so you accidentally trip her up and run over the top of her to get out of the office.  The cause of the fire, it is later ascertained, was your specially ordered fan from HR, even though you ordered it in November and the office air conditioning was to blame for the high temperature.   

c. Fire excites you!  It strengthens you!  You have become disillusioned with office life and believe that, just like the dragon queen from telly, you too can become tougher and more leader-like if you throw yourself into a fire and survive its red hot embers.  Your remains are later found cramped into a fetal position.  Nobody mentions the embarrassing porn magazine found in your smoldering locker to your mother at the work service. 

d. You locate the nearest fire alarm and push the trigger, indicate the nearest fire escape and help colleagues through before closing each set of doors as you exit the building and wait for the fire brigade to turn up.

The Ocean

The rock of the land meets the cold waters of the ocean.  Grass sits silent on top of the coastline, drinking in the golden sunlight.  The cliffs in the background are out of focus, the sharpness of the waves breaking on the jagged rocks has been lost.  Clarity has been forsaken for impressionism.  Broad brushstrokes paint the solid bedrock of the picture, where it is the little details that matter and not the great hulking monolith that the scene captures.  The foreground mimics the background.  There is no meaning imbued in the photograph, no central image to focus the eye, nor no human actor to engage the viewer.  There is nothing but the silence and the stillness of the scene, of the grass that will never grow taller, of the sand that will never be blown away by invisible winds.

This is a landscape in miniature, where a thousand footprints have already been left and a thousand more wait to be made.

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If reproduced, please credit the author of this blog as the photographer.

Captured Once, Captured Twice

Once again I’ve recently been putting some of the photographs I’ve taken with my old Pentax S1a film camera into frames, and I think a few of them work rather well.  This is one of my friends, caught we as we were out taking photographs one day around town.  I have to say that, even though I used cheap colour film, I love the way that this photograph has turned out.  There is something in the crispness and texture of film photographs that I just cannot seem to see or feel in examples of digital photography.  Of course the flip side of this is the fact that I used a cheap digital camera to take a picture of the photograph in the frame to enable me to post it here!

The Pentax S1a was made in the early 1960’s and still works like a dream, no batteries needed.  The digital camera?  Broke tonight after only a few years use.  Typical right?

A photograph of my friend taking a photography.  I think with this frame, a nice deep black frame, it really helps to bring the little scene out of it self, as fixed on a wall or a shelf the thick frame gives it a nice depth.  Taken with my Pentax S1a on colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

A photograph of my friend taking a photography.  I think that with this frame, a deep black frame, it really helps to bring the little scene out of it self, as fixed on a wall or a shelf the thick frame gives the photograph a nice depth.  Taken with my Pentax S1a on colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

Here is another quick photograph of the sea, how I love the sea.  Again I have put it into a cheap frame but I think the white/cream highlights the colours within the photograph itself.  Also this one has turned out much better than expected.  I expected it to be slightly scuzzy and not really crisp or clear at all, but it has pleasantly surprised me.

Here you go:

How my heart longs to be near the sea, within the sea and deep under the sea.  The fresh salty air is a balm to the roughest of days and always ensures a good nights sleep.  You know that the sea will break you down until you cannot be broken any more, it will not lie to you or try to comfort you.  it is nature at her harshest, at her most beautiful.  Taken by me with a S1a Pentax camera with colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

How my heart longs to be near the sea, within the sea and deep under the sea.  The fresh salty air is a balm to the roughest of days and always ensures a good nights sleep.  You know that the sea will break you down until you cannot be broken any more, it will not lie to you or try to comfort you.  It is nature at her harshest, at her most beautiful. Taken by me with a S1a Pentax camera with colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

I’ve also got a few more photographs in frames but as I said the camera has broken so I unfortunately cannot upload them here at the moment.  I also think it is worth putting your own photographs in frames as it is a nice personal touch and evokes happy memories, and it makes you remember that being creative and spontaneous can lead to some lovely pieces of home art.

Framed

Here a few photographs taken with my Pentax S1a, using black and white film, framed.  I think they look pretty good in the relatively inexpensive frames, it certainly adds a certain subtle element of calmness to the photographs and slightly lifts them as well.

Okay the digital photograph was taken in a bit of a rush and there is a bit of smudge but here you go:

photographs in frames

I’ve got a few photographs that look pretty good in the frames, but the ones above highlight a quick peaceful scene of a teddy relaxing on the couch at home and the bottom photography represents some destruction near the house but it’s still a relatively peaceful scene.  I especially like the the detail of the trees and leaves that the film has managed to capture, although I perhaps have the camera set on too high a exposure as evidenced by the lack of detail on the left hand side brick post.

I’ve also been scouring the charity shops in the region to see what sort of photograph frames I can and I can happily report it is well worth the hunt!  Got some beautiful frames for photographs that I have given away as presents to family and friends.  It is always worth checking out charity shops as they have continually rolling stock and you never quite know what you are going to find!

I always think that there is no other feeling quite like when you are being creative and then, once you have finished either editing, painting or developing, standing back and scrutinizing the work that you have produced.  A lot of the paintings I’ve painted or photographs I’ve taken are often given away to family and friends for free.  I did once try to sell some artwork online but it just wasn’t happening, I felt almost curtailed by the fact that selling the artwork was forcing me to be creative instead of actually producing art just for it’s own creative sake (not that anyone ever actually bought anything, thank god!).  I feel the same way for any medium, whether it is writing here or my other more serious blog, or by doing anything creative.  I do it because I want to, I have the time to (when I can) and because I love just adding to the world in my own little way.

Who truly knows why we do what we do, or why we create what we create, whether it is some integral internal urge to express or whether it’s just to play, to feel truly at one with this planet and everything that lives, sometimes it is just daft, for fun, for shits and giggles, other times you just feel an urgent need to connect.  Ultimately of course that is what this blog is, it is a creative connection.  Not to anyone in particular, as I say in the about section its for no-one in particular but for everyone.  Just head out and create!