This means that if the human brain were a digital TV recorder it would hold about 3 million hours of TV shows."
So don't ask me why you drove away from the Chinese with a bag of hot take-aways on the roof. :-)
This song was originally written as part of a campaign to stop above ground nuclear testing, which was putting strontium-90 in the air, where it was washed down by the rain, got into the soil and thence to the grass, which was eaten by cows. When children drank the cows milk the strontium-90, chemically similar to calcium but radioactive, was deposited in their bones. Mothers saved their childres baby teeth and sent them to be tested by scientists who indeed found elevated levels of strontium-90 in their teeth. A year after this song was written; President Kennedy signed the treaty against above ground testing...
the grass lifts its head to the heavenly sound
just a little rain, just a little rain
what have they done to the rain
Just a little boy standing in the rain
the gentle rain that falls for years
and the grass is gone
the boy disappears
and the rain keeps falling like helpless tears
and what have they done to the rain?
just a little breeze out of the sky
the leaves pat their hands as the breeze blows by
just a little breeze with some smoke in its eye
what have they done to the rain
just a little boy standing in the rain
the gentle rain that falls for years
and the grass is gone
the boy disappears
and the rain keeps falling like helpless tears
and what have they done to the rain?
You could see the clouds from afar. Not big angry towers like at home; they sat low over the mountains, a brooding mass. As your eye followed the line of the hills, their outline blurred and disappeared under the rain.
A flash or two, caught out of the corner of your eye, then wham! A brilliant white streak ripped the clouds apart and a slightly less brilliant one bounced back.
Huge spots fell, sounding tinny on the roof of the car and leaving oases in the dust-covered bonnet. Then it eased, only to restart with millions of tiny droplets.
Cars blocked the town centre as everyone made a run from the beach. No-one could move - trapped in a metal box, pounded by the waters of heaven.
Overnight, another storm - safe in bed this time, with the room illuminated as though by a strobe.
Apparently rain is a blessing here. If so, we've been well and truly blessed.
Betty Edwards, a much-respected teacher of drawing and painting in the USA published a book in the 1970’s which was considered revolutionary at the time. She put forward the argument that the left side of the brain is verbal and analytic, whereas the right side of the brain is more visual and perceptual. She has taught thousands of non-drawers to draw using simple techniques which halt the left side critic and allow the creative right side to emerge. It was inspiring then and now.
I think writers put similar techniques into practice when the ideas flow and we lose track of time, when the connections seem effortless and the words sit right - that’s when we are accessing the creative side.
The switch over from ‘I’m hopeless’ to ‘I’m writing’ is a subtle one, though, and it has a great deal to do with time. Of course, we need both sides of our brains to function well as humans, but the left side is full of excuses, of deadlines, of reasons why we might as well watch TV or have another glass of wine or do the washing, rather than get the pen out and alter the balance of power.
So, how do we do it? I think it’s silence we need. The silence that feeds the creative brain. The decision to spend our precious free time writing, rather than doing anything else, that makes the difference. So hard when we are at the beck and call of the world.
But if we really want to write (and I do, I really do) then we have to make that time and keep it for ourselves. Shut the door, turn off radio 4 and give ourselves time for something to come through. Walking on your own is also a good way, letting your imagination roam under the big sky.
Well, that was a nice little left side of the brain diversion. Turning off the radio now.
Edwards, Betty. The New Drawing on The Right Side of the Brain. Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-87477-424-1.
Then this bitch comes over, the girl opposite me begins moving her stuff and she shouts 'No, she can move her bag. Why is she taking up two seats?' I said 'I'd be happy to move the suitcase but you could be polite.' She replies 'Why are you taking up two seats? Move your bag!' (note that I actually had my suitcase tucked under my legs so as not to annoy anyone as the luggage rack was full).
Annoyed by her attitude I said 'These two women asked politely and are therefore seated. You, on other hand, are being a bitch.' She says 'I'm not being a bitch. Move your bag!' After a little more of this exchange she huffed at me and said 'Well, some people are selfish with train seats.'
I said 'Behave like a bitch and you get treated like one. Now fuck off and sit somewhere else.' She huffed around reading her paper standing next to me then went and sat down after the next stop.
Moral of the story: Don't fucking piss me off by being rude.
Last week he went on his first walk and now has three to four walks every day- mainly back and forth to the school as that is largely what my day consists of.
He's a fairly clever pup; in the first week- age just 2 months he learned to 'sit', and give his 'paw'. He now knows 'beg' and will 'lie down' if I give him a treat. He refuses to 'lie down' without a treat though.
He knows 'get in your bed' and will readily get in his bed whenever he's been in the garden. He also knows 'Din-dins' and 'walkies'.
He has a poo after every meal- in the garden where he should do it and he's even dry in the morning when we get up.
So...I believe that the dog is not a total moron, which pleases me.
What I can't understand though is the second he steps foot onto a carpeted surface he pees himself.
I have forgiven most things;
breaking out of the kitchen, racing upstairs and seeking out and devouring one very beautiful and more importantly comfortable silver sandal. He's ripped several items of clothing, totally destroyed the cat's scratching post, ripped blinds, chewed drawer handles, eaten plants, killed the honeysuckle, flattened the reeds around the pond....
All of it is forgiven because he's a baby wolf and he's just doing what baby wolfs would do- if they lived in houses.
What I can't get over is his preference for carpet over grass when seeking out a suitable toilet.
He's now banned from the living room- poor soul. He has the run of the back lobby, kitchen and of course garden, but I no longer let him into the rest of the house. During the day I'm either in the kitchen or garden anyway and at night time he tends to take himself off to bed when the kids go up. So this hasn't been much of a problem.
I do think it's a shame though. It would be nice to see him curled up at the end of the sofa.
And you must have a blog.
But it's a slow tedious business trawling through them as many tweets and Facebook comments bore the pants of me. How their writers find the time to dump so much rubbish is beyond me.
But anyway, here's my latest offering which I hope fits none of the above.
I hope you find it interesting and, in the hope of gaining more followers, sign up the my newsletter.
Day trip -
Northern Belle Simplon Orient Express
The clouds were few and far between on this glorious but chilly sunny morning as we all waited on the station platform for the grand old lady herself - The Northern Belle.
Excitedly I took out my Flip handy camcorder and switched it on as the announcer crackled over the loudspeakers that she was about to pull into the platform.
I pushed the red button on my Flip to begin recording and I counted the carriages, 'engine, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 - there must be nine or more, I can't see the rest around the bend' I declared laughing and smiling with joyous anticipation.
It was 2nd March 2012 and once again the group were preparing to embark on an exciting day trip on not just 'a train' but the Northern Belle.
It's not my first trip on the Northern Belle with her luxurious carriages and stewards who are worth their wait in gold it is my third. This makes me all the more excited because I know what to expect and I know we will all have a wonderful time.
Bellini’s all round while the train pulls out of the station and we await the first course of our breakfasts. Plus, as all our birthdays are within a couple of weeks of each other we each take a turn to buy presents. This trip was Jan’s turn. Helen and I were presented with cuddly little bears called 'Blue Nose'.
I named mine 'Boffle' while Helen named hers 'Jeremina'. (This is how daft we are when we are out, bearing in mind, I drink very little alcohol, so I have no excuse for my behaviour, it's just how I am! :o))
Today we were off to St David’s in West Wales. I've always fancied a visit and as it is one of Northern Belles shorter day trips (2.5hours each way) I thought I should be ok.
As the train pulled out of the station the first course arrived, a large dish of freshly cut up fruit allowed to soak in their own juices.
Next came the main course. Crumpet topped with scrambled egg wrapped in fresh salmon topped with caviars (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about but I don't know how to spell it. hahaha - fish eggs), and surrounded on the plate by flakes of crab, herbs and decorated with a squiggle of source. Very delicious… This was followed by the last course for breakfast which was a variety of bite size pastries - delicious - then as many cups of tea or coffee you feel you need / want or would like. MMM!
During the course of our highly merry conversations a thought suddenly struck me. This is the most relaxed I've been in such a long time. I can be exactly who I am when I'm out with my friends. I hadn't realised until then how reserved I usual am when I'm out somewhere with my family, (sister & husband, brother & wife). So I made the most of every moment. :o)
As the train pulled into Fishguard station we all boarded the buses that waited in line to take us to St David’s.
Being early March there was a nip in the air but with such a glorious sun in a cloudless sky, you couldn't want for a better scene when we looked down the hill to the Cathedral.
Once again, out came my camera and my Flip Camcorder and I began taking photos and lots of footage.
'Do you want to take the mini bus down the hill or do you want to attempt the steps?' Helen and Jan asked me. Feeling so full of energy and a real need to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing, I opted for the very long and steep walk down the steps to the cathedral.
Boy was I glad to get to the bottom...
Inside the Cathedral a service was about to begin for St David's Day, so we sat and listened to the choir as they sung.
An hour and more we sat, I would like to say I enjoyed it from beginning to end but as good as the choir were, I'm afraid I have to confess the lead vocalist warbled a little too much for me.
I became quite uncomfortable as the time ticked away and was praying the service would soon end. But alas it went on, and on , and on. So being sensitive to energies and spirit etc I opened myself up safely and looked around to see, sense and feel what was available.
My visions showed me lit torches high up on the pillars, men in robes walking behind flag bearers and a heavy scent of Frankincense hung visibly in the air. I'd expected to pick up a lot more, but the few other bits I picked up, I choose not to share as they disappointed me.
Finally, 1 hour and 20 mins later it finished. I was aching to get outside as the sunshine had warmed up the day and it had been perishing cold inside.
We visited the gift shops and wandered around the grounds taking care where we placed our feet before eventually making our way slowly, very slowly back up the hill. (I paid for the excessive activity the following week before recovering but it was soooo worth it).
The one thing that got me up the hill – was as the thought of the chocolate shop waiting for me at the top. It didn't disappoint. As there was still half an hour for the coach we all decided to sit in the garden at the top and enjoy some local made ice cream.
Boarding the train for the return trip a familiar face appeared. Weren't we the ones to be surprised when Joe the Steward remembered us, mainly Helen. 'I always remember the wacky ones,' he replied warmly. And for the rest of the trip as Joe had to pass us for his kitchen trips to and from his carriage, he and Helen teased one another at every opportunity.
One thing that stitched me, they laughed at a joke between them regarding each others face, (?) Helen replied quick-witted as ever but I'd missed it, I did however catch Joe's response which was 'I'll have to pull the bulldog clips tighter next time'.
The food for the trip home began with a glass of champagne. During the meal we were allowed 2 bottles of house wine between the 3 of us.
I've forgotten to take a photo of the starters and have forgotten what it was. But next came a tasty mushroom soup with a spoonful of cream draped over the top. This was followed by the main meal of Lamb veg’ and gravy, it had a posh word but I don't remember. Hahaha!. Next came crackers and biscuits and some very inventive styles and types of cheese including one soaked in cider. This was then followed by the most delicious delectable, taste bud satisfying chocolate desert topped with a gold foil sat on a plate that had been gently drizzled with an orange cream source.
At the end of the meal, it was time to visit the shop. Alas, 5 carriages away. That's an awful long way to walk for me, more especially after the day out. But walk it I did.
Exhausted I eventually climbed into bed, smiling with memories of such a perfect day.
The man on the train can’t know how he’s making you feel, but it doesn’t stop you being afraid. You tell yourself he’s just another passenger; it’s coincidence, but he’s making you uncomfortable. He’s making you uncomfortable by sitting there, by wearing a green t-shirt; by eating and licking his fingers. He does it every time he puts food in his mouth, and it’s starting to annoy you.
You could move now the train is emptier, but its very emptiness makes it harder for you to move because your action will be obvious. When you sat down he was just one of many, now it’s just him it feels like he’s sitting opposite you. As the people around you left, you had the illusion he was moving closer, like when the train next to yours pulls out and you feel you’re moving, not it. Now it’s just you and him it feels like every time you look up he’s staring at you. You hope this is an illusion too.
It’s just because you’re on edge, it’s just because of what happened, it’s nothing to do with him, this is all you. This is what you’ve got to face, not what happened but its legacy, the fear of banality. Once you’d have barely given him a second look, weeks ago you’d have read the free paper, written in your notebook or played with your phone scarcely seeing him. You’d have sauntered from the station, hands in pockets, relaxed, walking without thinking, walking like a boy. You’d have wandered home with twilight gathering behind you like the folds of a cloak, without glancing left or right.
Now your lover must wait at the station for you. Condemned to a compassionate curfew, you’re only allowed out under licence. You must apply for permission to walk home, providing a password to unlock your passage. Text when you’re at the station, text as you get on the train, text three stops before home.
‘I am on the train. I am ok. I am three stops from home.’
You know your lover doesn’t mind; you know they want to do it. They want to help, to show they’re on your side, to show they would do anything in the world to make you feel safe. It’s not that you don’t want your lover to meet you, to care about you; it’s their guilt you can’t stand. The guilt that they weren’t there when it happened, that the one thing they can never do is be at the station the night it happened.
It’s as if they’d watched you catch the wrong train, and they’d waved and shouted but it was too late, it has taken you somewhere they can’t follow. The doors have closed.
You know it’s stupid, you’ve said so over and over again; there was nothing they could have done, it was just one of those things, but it’s no good. You can see how much your lover has been hurt and sometimes that hurt seems bigger than your own.
The man on the train watches you send the message. You could have told your lover that there’s a man on the train making you feel uncomfortable, but what good would it do? The train is taking you home; your lover is waiting on the platform. They’ll be worried, they’re always worried; why make it worse?
This is what you’ve started to do. You haven’t started to feel confident; you’ve started hiding your anxiety. You’re not sure if it’s you who doesn’t want sex, or them. Sometimes you’d really like to have sex. You’d like to feel innocent hands on your body and to lie in a mess of communal bedclothes and talk and laugh and be in that warm, soft space together. But you’re frightened that you’ll have sex and you won’t be alone, it won’t be just the two of you. All the time you’ll be wondering if they’re wondering how you feel, if you’re okay, each simple gesture loaded with a meaning it’s too small to carry. You’re frightened that it will be your lover who has the problem touching you.
So for now, it’s safer to lie on either side of the bed, both of you watching and pretending you aren’t, both of you waiting for the other to find the courage for simple intimacy; the courage to be lovers again.
One stop to go, the man on the train looks at you. Suddenly you’re angry, not with him; no, you are angry with him, because you’re angry with all of them. You’re angry at the police officer that listened sympathetically; angry that you could see the effort he made to be sensitive, angry that the effort had to be made. You’re angry at the book of faces you thumbed through, each looking at you with the same dead eyed stare. You’re angry that there was a book, that there even needs to be a book; angry that there were pages and pages of dead eyed stares and none were his, none of them belonged to the man that made you sit in that busy, bright, impersonal office and look for him.
You’re angry because as you looked at the faces in the book, you looked for every one you’ve ever known and wondered what you would do if you saw them. You are angry that he has made everyone guilty.
You’re angry because the only time you saw his stare is when you closed your eyes.
You look back at the man on the train. You’re sure your heart will explode from your chest with the audacity of your gaze. You’re sure your skin is burning, singing like a canary. You want to scream ‘look at me then, go on, look at me!’
He doesn’t flinch; he just licks his fingers and smiles at you. You feel hot tears stabbing at the back of your eyes because it’s just a smile. It’s just a smile from a stranger who wishes you no ill, who doesn’t want to treat you as if you were nothing more that a handrail. It’s just a smile and it burns you, it makes you swell and beat and fear, makes your palms tingle and your feet sweat, all because of what happened.
What happened has denied you even the casual intimacy of a smile.
You won’t let it. This is a war you never asked to be part of, but you’re in it now and you refuse to be its victim.
You meet the gaze of the man on the train and you smile.
The train enters your station, the name on the sign like the winning post sliding into view. You gather up your free paper and get up. Your hand is shaking as you hold onto the back of the seat, as you press the door release button and read what is written there.
Open doors close.
You read, and you look back at the man on the train. The man’s not looking at you; he’s forgotten you already.
Open doors close, even the ones you never wanted to open.
You step onto the platform and your lover smiles at you, relieved. You embrace, and when they moved to let go you don’t let them. You hold onto them and make them hold you, and press your mouths together as if you needed them to breath, as if they needed you to breath. As if you’ve come home from the war at last.
‘Are you all right?’ They ask as they touch your face, stroking the flush from your skin.
‘Yes,’ you kiss them again. ‘I’ll be fine.’
* * * * * * *
This is the second piece I have come up with in response to the image above, which is for a competition I'm entering, as part of my 'paying off the mercenary' survial plan.
I am going to come out and admit that it is partialy autobiographical, but I have chosen the second person POV to try and make the impact more universal. I have also deliberately tried to keep the gender of the MC and the lover ambiguous, trying to show that this is not about gender as such - this is more about how crime/assault invades not just the person but the people around them, how it changes you in ways not always obvious. It's also about how what can seem so casual, watching someone on a train, can take on huge significance as none of us ever truly know what's going through the minds of those around us.
I guess it's a response to that cry of 'cheer up love, it might mever happen,' which I've had in the past. Sometimes, it already has.