Jun 25th

Renaming, Removing, Rewriting History

By Squidge

I'll apologise up front - I'm not usually controversial, but this one has got me thinking and wondering; 


Wondering what other cloudies think? 

I'm in a bit of a quandary about it; I loved the books as a child. I always accepted that they were historic and of their time, and that how they were written was how the people who lived back then viewed the world and the people in it. Especially people who weren't like them. I knew - even as a child - that it shouldn't be like that. 

By doing things like taking an author's name off an award simply because their writing doesn't fit what we know is right and acceptable in this moment in time, are we in danger of removing too much of 'what life was like back then'? I can totally understand that for eg, the way Native Americans are portrayed is not complimentary. And there are probably hundreds - thousands - of books in which the author expresses a view about 'other' people that would have been considered acceptable at the time of writing, but is considered inappropriate now. There's been something recently about Einstein (I think it was him) writing a travel journal and he is most uncomplimentary about people of other races. Do we now ignore the theory of relativity because of that?

Do we retain these books, these writings, these author's names to remind us never to go back to that place? Or remove them - like we're removing statues and portraits of those judged wanting by today's society's 'norms' - and try to forget these awful things ever happened? 


Which way is better? And where do we draw the line about what we keep and what we hide from sight? 

Not sure I know...but I think I would lean more towards having examples that we can point to and say 'that was wrong' than wiping stuff away and kidding ourselves we've always done the right thing. 

Jun 24th

a cultural hub

By mike

      Mat mentioned that Wren building!


      If you come to north London and wish to visit ‘The Tate Modern’ on the southbank of the Thames, it is best to head for St Paul’s Cathedral.   The cathedral and the southbank are linked by a footbridge.  This footbridge is called the Millennium Bridge but it is still known as the Wobbly Bridge.

       If a Londoner proposes ‘Let’s meet at the Southbank,” he might mean ‘The Southbank Centre’ rather than the southbank of the river. This centre originated in the ‘Festival of Britain of 1951 and ‘The Festival Hall’ is still there. 

     The southbank, as a cultural hub, now stretches from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge and slightly further.  You can walk to Rotherhithe along the ‘Thames Path’ but the buildings soon become residential.

    The stretch of the southbank from London Bridge to the Tate Modern is known as Bankside and this is where the reconstructed Globe is situated.  I can remember a time when the site of the Globe was a carpark for the local council; Sam Wanamaker was denied permission to build there.   The Globe was reconstructed about twenty years ago.

    My interest arose when I photographed what was called ‘The Pool of London’ and is now called ‘London Bridge City.’ I had been standing midpoint on London Bridge and, using a wide angle lens, recorded the scene with Tower Bridge at the midpoint of the photograph.

   It had been a foggy, misty morning and I showed the photograph to some work colleagues. The comments were one the lines of ‘How Dickensian!   i could see the point, but in the foreground was a jetty built recently for the ferry service.  I did some research and,if Dickens now stood on London Bridge and looked downriver, there are only two or three buildings he would recognise but the view is still Dickensian.


   I am reading a biography of E.S.Nesbit.  This was written in the 1930’s and revised in 1960.  I notice a new biography will be published this year.  Episodes of Nesbit’s life are often included in biographies and histories of the period as she was one of the first members of ‘The Fabian Society’ 

    Nesbit returned to Halstead all her life to revisit the countryside of  her childhood.  

    Yesterday,  I met a walker on a local footpath and she told me some sad news.  Land around Knockholt  Station  -band Halstead - has been designated for housing projects.

    The biographer also notes of Nesbit: ‘ ...she must, I suppose, be regarded as one of the pioneers of public smoking for women..’  I wonder if the new biography will mention this.


      A breath of fresh air.


      i have often walked along the footpaths in Kent and the views are quite different from those seen from a car or train window.

      ‘Leaves Green’ is little more than a village sign.  It is also a bus stop on the A233 out of London.  A few days ago I alighted at this bus stop and crossed the village green where I parted the leaves in search of a footpath.  My brain froze.

        In the distance, a small white aeroplane lay half submerged in what seemed to be a field of rape.  The small portholes were at an angle and it seemed as though the plane was sinking in a sea of green. Such are the effects of perspective!   

    Sanity returned.  A few bus stops along the A233 is Biggin Hill which is now a civilian airport.  


Jun 19th

A green and pleasant land

By mike

  Knockholt and Chelsfield are two stations on the commuter line linking London to Sevenoaks in Kent.  Knockholt Station should have been called Halstead but the name Knockholt was chosen to avoid confusion with another Halstead in Essex.

     Knockholt parish is centered on Knockholt Pound.  Knockholt Pound is few miles from Knockholt Station and both are a few miles from Knockholt village.   This is confusing!

     Is there any reason for anyone - apart from weary commuters - to alight at these stations?   Is there any reason to walk across the railway bridge at Chelsfield? Is there any reason to look down the railway cut towards Knockholt?   Is there any reason to wave at passing trains? 

   This is the railway cut that inspired ‘The Railway Children‘ 

    E.S.Nesbit spent the happiest years of her childhood in Halstead and it is recalled that she walked across the fields or paths to Knockholt or Chelmsfield and the newly built railway line.   The area had its own painter, Samuel Palmer, who lived at Shoreham. He might well have walked the few miles to Chelsfield.

    I have been exploring this area by foot and the local buses.  I live near a station on the same commuter line - though further towards London.   

    Chelsfield Village is separated from Chelsfield Station by the Orpington bypass and they seem separate entities.   The village is surrounded by farmland. 

   Chelsfield Village had been a childhood home of  the author, Miss Read.  Does anybody remember Miss Read?

   In the 1970 film of ‘The Railway Children’, the location had been the Yorkshire moors of the Brontes.  The  Keighley and Worth Valley Railway was chosen for its vintage stations and railway stock.

    Sadly, there might have been a suitable Kent line which could have been used as a  location for the film. This line was axed by Beeching  

    Most of the ‘Westerham Flyer’ was demolished by 1967.  This line ran from Westerham to Dunton Green where it joined the main line to London.  The two intermediate stations were Chevening and Brasted.  There were five miles of track.

      Brasted is one of the villages on the A25 from Westerham to Sevenoaks..  A path at the rear of the church leads to a noisy road where the path ceases to be.     

   Brasted Station is under the concrete of the M2 motorway!


Jun 9th

Writing Blind for Those Who Can See

By TheWeyMan

As a colour-blind person, the nature of colour has never been something of particular importance to me, unless it serves a challenge – unfortunately, as with other conditions, the challenges are imperceptible to those around you. I’m not saying that I am comparable to a paraplegic or those completely without sight, but there are certain things that are ever so slightly tainted as a direct result.

My nan and her sister (and parents) were all talented artists in their own way. Granny, as she prefers to be known, would tell me how she and her sister would argue over the name of a shade of purple for example. ‘No, it’s mauve.’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it’s lilac.’ This baffled me as a child who had never - and still hasn’t - witnessed the colour purple in it’s true form.

I have ‘deuteranopia’ or by it’s common name ‘red-green colour-blindness’. I’ve never been completely sure whether colour-blindness is a spectrum or a ‘you have it or you don’t’ kind of condition. I suppose this is hard to tell when you have unreliable participants for studies. How can you compare perception? Either way, mine is significant enough that when I show people what I can see, there is an immediate sympathetic response. It’s not what I’m after, I’m just helping them to understand. (See picture – if I’m allowed to post it).

The first real challenge this (disability?) gave me was drawing. One particular event has stuck with me since it happened. I was probably five or six. We were learning about the Victorians at school and part of our lesson consisted of us drawing what we thought the Victorians looked like. I wasn’t bad at the sketching part, though I doubt it would have made it onto the fridge! It was the colouring that tested me, so I sought help. I asked my best friend, Dan, to pass me the pencils I needed. Blue for the sky – I drew the strip of blue for the sky, leaving the middle white, of course. Why would there be sky behind people? Then I asked for brown for their clothes. I coloured in their rags, complete with holes to show their hard, poverty-stricken lives. A bit of green for the grass.

Then he started laughing.

‘What?’ I asked, but he didn’t tell me.

More laughs from a few others. What was it? Their hands weren’t particularly well formed, but they definitely weren’t the worst effort in the class.

‘Why do you think they all wore green?’ asked my teacher. ‘And why is the sky purple?’

I just shrugged.

Red and green are not the only colours affected, though they do play an important part. I can’t tell the difference between blue and purple due to the red element, brown and green are the same depending on tone, orange and yellow, red and brown, pink and grey (which can be odd sometimes – I once thought I saw a pink poodle but was swiftly corrected).

People ask me how I know when to stop for traffic lights and I joke that I know the red light’s at the top and the green’s at the bottom. This isn’t the case. Bright tones such as these I can tell the difference between. Murky tones are the hardest to distinguish and this becomes easier as they get brighter, traffic lights are no problem at all.

And this brings me to writing – sorry it took so long…

I’ve not been writing for a long time, less than two years, but one of the things that challenges me the most is description of colour. I can have a vivid picture in my mind of what I would see, but not what the majority of my readers would see. How do I know if I’m describing the colours, the tones correctly? I find myself searching my memory for words used in other books or on TV or by Granny. If they’ve said it, it must be right. But I want to make it my own, so I twist and change the colours to fit in with my imagination, and of what I think colours should look like if it weren’t for my useless retinal cones. I hope others see what I want them to see, not a poor translation of my dulled version of reality.

I’ve come to realise, recently, that it doesn’t matter too much. Perhaps, in fact, I should think of it as a novelty for my readers and, in my second WIP, I’ve even woven it into my main character, who happens to be colour-blind. I’ve described it as a different way of seeing the world (which it is) and one that assists in the story (via some embellishment).

I’m sure most people wouldn’t even realise they were reading the work of a colour-blind writer. No matter how descriptive one’s work, the reader will always have their own perception of how it looks, feels and even smells (maybe tastes if they’re extra creative).

Colour is just another aspect that can be filled in by imagination and I’ve decided not to let it concern me.

I can always seek council, though probably not from Dan! (we are still in touch, and I’ll never let him forget).


Picture 1 - Matt vision = deuteranopia

Image result for colour blind photo


Picture 2 - All of these look exactly the same to me other than darkening tone from left to right.

Image result for colour blind photo balloon

Jun 3rd

What Squidge-style drafting looks like

By Squidge

I'm in the middle of a new project, and caught myself editing as I go along, rather thn doing completely separate edit versions. I thought it would be a helpful reminder to myself to 'capture' some of the naff quality stuff in the drafting phase to remind myself of just how bad I can write before it gets polished up into something worthy of publication.

So I blogged about what drafting a novel REALLY looks like, and you can read it HERE on the Scribbles, if you're interested. 

Course - even version 3 isn't the finished thing. There'll be at least another edit or two before it goes off to the publisher, and there'll be at least two edits again...but they're more fine-tuning than hacket jobs! 




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