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.

Coming Around

And the rain falls down, the thunder roars, and the clouds roll on by,

It’s just another day and I’m stuck inside, a model of the evil

eye sits and stares, taking it’s time whilst I while away mine…

.

It’s another day, it is another day, and I think you’ve just gone away,

Perhaps just a brief holiday, but that idea holds no sway as I know

that you have gone away on indefinite leave, it’s a kick in the face

as I’m left all over the place…

.

The rain falls down and it’s bringing me down too, as I know I won’t see your

face again, but the heart is filled with love, even as I spread my arms and wish it all

away, knowing that this isn’t how it is meant to be, life left rotting like a broken

tree knowing that I’ll never feel free…

.

and I’ll still miss you.

2nd Time Around

Grab those words that have flown out of your mouth and stuff them back in.  Crunch and munch on them, bite them in two and swallow.  Let the invisible numbers, those 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, mix with the consonants, similes and metaphors in an unholy mash of grunts and grumbles.  Words let lose don’t mean anything when there is nothing to say, nothing that cannot be communicated by a knowing smile or a gentle touch.  Let the tears run free, the doe-eyed grin show.  A kiss upon the hips denotes nothing but a kiss upon the lips, no words are misconstrued or thoughts thrown astray.  It just is.

Imagined Conversations Vol. 1

…”You know my feelings on our family, I’m sick of being treated as a small child – I am adult!

“You need to relax, you know you are in a very lucky position being able to live at home still, sure dad may stick his oar in where it sometimes doesn’t require, but just put up with it for the minute”.

“Fine….”

…..”How beautiful is this lanscape, this beach and the rolloing waves?”

“It’s cold, I’m cold! Can we go home now?”

“Just a bit further, a bit longer….”

…”I’ve hit the bottom, I know I have.  I’m sick of this job, sick of not doing anything each weekend, I need to escape, I need something to hang on to”.

“The job is fine, everyone is in the same position you know, you should count yourself lucky that you can do what you do.  Have you though about writing any more or trying to meet new people?”

“Well I have tried, a bit, but it’s tough and then….”

…”Your grandfather used to work on the ships you know, in the merchant navy.  Went around the world, spending weeks and months at sea, only to have a few days of shore leave at the end of it.  A different story today of course, where shore leave is ever more compacted, don’t have the fun that you used have!”

“Dad, shut up!  Tell me more about grandad and his adventures on the high seas…”

The old thought was on my mind as I took this picture.  What are you doing, where are you going?

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Invisible Strings

In this aged body that wonders to and fro, how it surprises me still that it can make decisions that challenge me so.  That even as I trot and roll, tumble and fall, I know not always where I shall lay either by night or by day.

In so short a time, as one drink did follow another, I chose a path that led to nowhere and satisfied nothing, but one that was taken and one that shall never be retaken or retraced.

The waves lap against my feet, sit and I stir, squirm and I fear.

The step on the train, to stay on or to get off, to work one more day in a mind numbing environment or to take that step and explore anew.

As ever my mind wanders far ahead of my body, far over green fields and glazed mountains, gliding through the fresh grass, flying through the earthly smell of animal shit.

The invisible chain is rankled only by the illusionary option of choice that lies behind the intoxicant drink but lo, no it was no dream, no it was no freedom call nor lions roar.  It was squalor to make me think that I still feel, that I still have voice or a choice.

Do I hold it dear or throw it off, should I still remain flightless but forever moving – do I dream anew or do I scream forever more?  Chained as I am to nothing new or old, nothing solid, nothing to anything or anything to nothing.

What is this fear that controls me, that so taunts and bids me do by invisible strings?  Why can’t I shake my hide and begone, begrown anew as one should do.  Do I think or feel too much or not enough, emotions barely stirring beneath the shaggy mess of adipose filth.  Or am I contained by knowing I shall never be strapped to a bed for so long as compared to when I was young, leg tied down and healing ever so slowly one day at a time.

Is it my body that is restless or is it my mind never being satisfied, my curiosity never being quite sated.  Routine, damn routine, though I hold it dear, I try to forget it’s power and forgive its fear.

Another day, yes another day then.  Give me that morning light, give me that chance.

 

Dispatches From The Coast: A Cold Morning Kiss

The water lapped over my feet as I sat in the shallow surf, the sand acting as a welcoming cold blanket to hold the heavy weight of my sodden body.  I was focused on watching the summer sun shimmer over the watery horizon, ascending to spend a day in the big blue eternal.

I happened to be only a stone’s throw from the rest of the gang back behind me, who were content rummaging in the post-apocalyptic coliseum-like landscape of an old concrete water tank.  It was half demolished, half drained and half open to the elements but it still contained a small pool of still water, resting peacefully in the centre.  It provided ample dry space to camp in overnight as we burnt wooden flotsam and jetsam to keep warm.  We would watch entranced as the flames licked dry the wood, as they curled high into the air, as pieces of free floating ember drifted out over the water.   Occasionally the concrete couldn’t handle the heat and a bit of rock or ‘crete would crack and shoot off like an errant lost firework.  It was peaceful and it was beautiful.

We were cut off from the rest of the town by a train hill, had to enter this ruined landscape by a long concrete tunnel bored right through.  It was a visual rite of passage as we lugged our crates of beer through it and pocketed the bags of mary for later use, all the while watching out for puddles or malformed bricks to trip us up.

Only by sitting in the shell of the constructed past could we engage with our present, stars twinkling in their heavenly domain above, resplendent in their peaceful beauty.  I am pretty sure that anyone who saw us would not think the same, of our matted hair and corduroy.  Throwbacks to the 90’s.  We completed the scene with empty cans and deep laughs, of guitars and harmonicas played deep into the night.

They say now that the ground is leveled, cleaned and scraped back.  Houses to be built by their dozen, a luxurious bolt hole for the wealthy.  The landscape of a decomposing industrial wasteland has been deconstructed and reconfigured to fit the needs of an expanding people.  Water tanks turned inside out and re-shod with wood and tiles, distorted bricks re-cast for the foundations.  The sofas we used to burn now litter the beach in their full splendor.

But still, when the wind blows right, the scent of mary and the sea can still be smelt, a reminder of a time long past.

Misty Monday Moan

Sometimes it is hard not to feel like you are not drowning

In a sea of distemper, of ill fitting ease.

But for once I wish I could put my head above the waves,

Break out and escape, from this rolling broil of imagined toil.

Maybe I am stuck in a rut that has been years deep,

Engulfing me I am sure in its clothing of sameness.

Year in and year out with only short breaks to fracture

The great dull profundity of daily life.

Still it is not great when you come to hate,

That daily mash of circular friends who espouse hate because of difference,

Of shame, and long buried castaway hopes melting in the pot of indifference.

Not me, please, not me I seem to shout.

Pluck me from this life and give me my dreams.

The Swimmers Paradise

You may have gathered from a previous post that I love swimming (or even just floating) in bodies of water, in both seas and lakes and man-made pools; that I love the feeling of being immersed so completely that you forget what it is like being tied to the land for life.  I am a lucky person as I live near the sea but, unfortunately, I haven’t swam in it for nearly 8 months now.  I remember the last time as if it were yesterday: the last rays of a summer sun that shimmered on the golden empty sands, of the waves that towered over my friend and me, those same waves that crashed onto our bodies and carried us along on the surf towards the shore, of being able to stare into the empty sky from a free floating position further out at sea, away from the swells and broils of the surf.  It was a fantastic experience and one well worth the arduous mini-trek down to the front.  I cannot wait until I am in the sea again, ensconced in that liquid love of two parts hydrogen covalently bonding with one part oxygen, and I hope against hope that it will be soon.

I see ships coming into the hometown port all the time, the cable layers and dredgers, along with the bigger container ships and oil tankers lining up to enter the bigger port that lies to the south of my town.  Often I spy the dredgers that go between the two, keeping the sea lanes free of silt.  I’d love to hop on an ocean going vessel again, to be taken away to see the world from the vantage point of a porthole.  Although the ships rarely spend long at port these days, the days of having wild nights in port cities long gone having been shunted aside by the necessity of the commercial world of shipping, I’d still get to float on the beautiful body of water that surrounds our ground bound forms.  I dream every night of being a part of a crew that rides the waves of the ocean, drifting between continents and between lives, not walking but gliding gracefully through the water.

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A sea shot of a dredging ship, altered with some basic colour mixing via media player. Taken by me with a Pentax S1a on cheap colour film, please use CC if reproduced.

Chains

I mean don’t get me wrong, I am deeply thankful for where I am but I have to say my life could be so much better, I was laying in bed last night unable to sleep and this thought just popped into my head and I had to say that well, yeah it could be.

Are you sure?

Well I think so, I believe so, I guess I hope so because that way I can still live my life the way I want to live it, if I have a hope of being able to be a better person, right?

Hmm, I am not entirely convinced of that argument.

Well lets put it like this: if I didn’t think I could change then that would send me into a spiral that would end up with me facing the black dog face first, but if I believe I could be living a better life then there is still hope that I could, I can still change if necessary.  It’s kind of like I am running a marathon but the only other competitor is myself, next to me.  Sometimes I am running head of him, other times (okay, most of the time) he is running ahead of me.  But we are intricately linked, we are one and the same.  What is me is him and what is him is me, we are one, right?

But aren’t you just holding back then?  Unwilling to change because you have the illusion of escape?

Not quite, I disagree with you there.

Perfectly welcome too.

I should hope so.

But still, you must see that that way of thinking leads nowhere.

Not to me, it gives me form, function and an imagination to escape and, most importantly, the hope that I can change if I deemed it necessary.

No, I am still not quite getting you.  If you are unhappy in your life then surely you need to identify where and why and then start to change it into something that you want in your life rather then thinking you are getting it somewhere else.

Ah but no, you fundamentally misunderstand me.

So it is the option that you could change, if you really wanted to, but you don’t want to because your life runs parallel to this imagined other self that is living a life that you do not?

Hmm not quite but you are getting closer.

Well what is there to understand?  If your other self is running parallel to yourself, the physical and mental self I see before me now, then why would you live in his shadow as it where, why would you continue knowing that you will never be as fulfilled as the imagined self?

Ah no, you are getting further from what I feel.

Right… So is your life validated by the fact that you measure yourself to an imagined standard of a life not led?

You are getting closer!

Ha, well at least we are getting somewhere.

I should hope so, this isn’t cheap.

Oh ignore the clock, it runs only to itself.

Glad to hear it.

You should be.

Say, what are your plans for Christmas?

Now, now, you know that this is not about me, not about my family and what we are going to do (you know, the typical family get together, meal and present-swapping and no doubt we’ll play some parlour games, catch up with the older senile relatives…) wait, wait, this is not about me.  What are YOU planning to do in the festive period?

Oh I don’t know, I may make the journey home.  6 hours on the interstate you know, it is a long journey but, well it would be good to go back, to see the old place, the old bars where we used to drink and laugh.

Are you sure that is a good idea?

I think so, otherwise I’d just be staying here, waiting around for nothing in particular.  At least back home I could pay my respects to my Ma and Pa, give the stones a quick rub, make sure they are clean and looked after.  Could even drop by on my sister and see how her and her family are doing.

Now now, we know that really isn’t an option is it?  Remember what they said.  She needs time.

Oh I know, I guess I just thought I’d be ready.

Anyway, tell me more about your parallel life.

I’ve already mentioned it enough, do we have to go back over that?

No I guess not, I think I have the idea in my head now.

Good, lets talk about something else.

Okay, tell me about your friends.

Well my friends are good, got a tight group you know.  We see each other often, hang out, have a few beers and so on.

And?

Well, I guess I feel that they sometimes make decisions for me, that they think are decisions that are the best for me, but they do not consult me, they don’t even tell me half the time, I find out by accident, or they’ll think I can’t do something because of my addiction and I’m just not consulted.  It’s like I’m a ghost that is talked about, I’m peripheral.

Hmm, well tell me more…

I will, I will.

A Portrait of Friends

I’m still trying out my new film camera, an early 1960’s Pentax S1a model, trying to figure out what settings I should use for what types of shot and how to compose scenes.  It would be fair to see I’ve got a while to go yet before I get to where I want to be, to create the type of photographs that I want.  One thing however that probably won’t change is my using film rolls instead of digital cameras.

I just love the look of the film photographs once they have been developed; to my untrained eyes the photographs they produce look hyper-realistic.  I’ve still got around 6 rolls that are resting in my draw that are waiting to be developed at my nearest supermarket, so I’m hoping some shots that I’ve taken will come out well.  There is also the odd roll that does not develop, some probable light leakage going-on in certain photographs and the inevitable re-winding problems, but it is these accidents that make me love film more if I am honest – that there is always the chance for a mistake to improve the actual picture.

There is also the nervous wait to hold the pictures, to see if a photograph you have taken comes out as well as you have hoped.  There is no room to look again at the picture once you have taken it, like there is on the screen of the digital camera, you just have to hope for the best when you take the shot!  It is also the very realistic looking nature of the photographs that film produces, in comparison say to the smooth and often photo-shopped products from digital cameras, that truly captures my imagination and that alone makes me want to get better at it, although it will always remain a hobby.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  The photographs below are pictures of some of my friends that have been taken over the past few weeks since having the bought the camera and experimented a bit.  Enjoy!

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‘Backseat driver’.  A quick photo of my friend Jamie.

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‘One man and his beard’.

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‘A pensive moment’.  A taunt call on the phone.

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‘Back to back’, two good friends out in the sun.

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‘A quiet chuckle’.

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‘Watching the world’.  Two friends sit and watch the world go by.

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‘Run rabbit, run’.  A friend escapes.

All photographs taken with a Pentax S1a with black and white film or colour film.  Please use Creative Commons licence if shared or replicated.