The Winding Path

To the top of the hill leads to my little house. Along the way is the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher and the fishmonger. Every Friday the library man wheels his trolley all the way up, so we old folk don’t have to carry our books.

It gets very blowy up here in winter, but never mind, the views of the river running towards the sea and the town with it’s church spires are beautiful. In summer lots of visitors come for the day. They puff and pant, and many of them give up along the way. I don’t mind when they knock on the door to ask for water, because I can always sell them a bag of my special hill town fudge. The cobbler does well, he hires out sensible shoes for the day, He has a sign saying ‘Ladies, rent my shoes or break your ankles’. City women can be so foolish, how do they think pointy heels will fare on the cobbles?

When the snows comes at Christmas, hundreds come and pay a shilling a time to toboggan down. We decorate with lights and holly, the whole place looks magical. Old Wilf dresses up as Santa and there’s mince pies and mulled wine for the grown ups.

Maybe you’ll come to visit one day? We’ll make you very welcome, as long as you spend lots of money and go away again. But be warned, villains and scrooges will be fed to the wolves in the forest.

Paula has a Thursday Special photo challenge and this week the theme is ‘Winding’. My head is scrambled after a manic week, so I thought I’d share my madness with you.

 

Paula said she would like to visit and asked for directions, so here they are.

Get off the train at Exeter St Davids, next cross to platform 5 for the Tarka line. After an hour and 3769 seconds get ready to jump from the train. Don’t be frightened of the crone in the hedge, and whichever way she directs you choose the opposite. After a nod and 3 blinks you will see a white gate, it’s easy from there as long as you sprinkle coins!

Desemparats

They’ve gone, my husband and my son. In my mind’s eye, I can still see them waving in the distance, as the boat drifted further and further towards the horizon. And then they were no more.

 My baby and I are alone, and we wait to hear that they have arrived but I’ve lost count of the weeks, and the crossing should have taken just days. I’ve heard of boats not arriving, but that couldn’t happen to my Miran and Sami, could it? They have Allah’s protection. I pray, and they pray, five times a day and we lead good lives, remembering the Pillars of Islam, so we must wait patiently. For how long? another week, another month?

He left me with 100 euros, I can’t spend it, no one will change it for me, they think it’s fake money. We are hungry, this girl child will starve soon. The camp is full of rats and the grain has bugs in it. The toilets are a poisonous death waiting to happen. I have to walk three miles a day to get to a clean place, but then the heat bears down on me. My clothes are rags now, the girl is hungry and was crying all the time, but now today she has stopped.  That’s not a good thing, she’s giving up, missing her father and brother. I miss my men and feel frightened all the time. The men that wait for boats look me up and down, desperate to see if I have money. If they find my euros they will take them.

I have a wound on my leg that festers and this morning I scraped a worm from it. I am worried now, but must hold on to my husband’s smile and promise to send for me, as soon as they find work and save enough for us to join them in Europe. Italy, Greece? Anywhere will do if there is food and shelter over our heads. We need medicine as well. I bleed all the time and have no protection just grimy rags, my child has shit running down her legs. 

We must keep safe, I must keep the girl safe. If the aid workers see us, they may try to take the girl or lock us away and send us home to Syria. Ah, if only we didn’t have to leave Syria, but we would have been dead already if we’d stayed. I watched them kill my brothers and my Miran’s father. We had to leave.

There are thousands of people here, all hungry, all frightened and desperate. The boat price goes up every day and still people find the money and go. If I was a bad woman it would be easier, I could sell my body and make lots of money to get us to Europe. But it’s too late, even if I was a bad woman, no one would buy my body now, it’s full of insects and sickness. I must sleep, perhaps tomorrow I will hear from Miran that they are safe. Suppose they got separated, what would become of my son on his own in a strange land with nothing but a few words of English?  They wanted to pick grapes, work in farms or factories, anything, all hours if they could get it. They will get it, Allah is with them, we are good people and this pain will end, Insha’Allah.

This writing was inspired by a Picasso painting ‘The Desemparats, (the abandoned) displayed in the Musee Picasso, Barcelona.

A little brown girl tale

‘Run Gill’ Linda and Delamie shouted in harmony.

I bent to tie my shoe lace and then dawdling, stood again, turned in the direction that all the noise was coming from, hand to my brow to shade the early evening sun from my vision. Then a stillness settled and that strange crescendo rose from the silence just like it does before a storm is brewing. I watched as if outside myself. The biggest boy picked up a stone, weighed it in his hand.

‘BLACKIEEE’, he shouted. There was just him and me, at least that’s how it felt. That’s how it felt, him, me and the missile, cruising, impossibly slowly towards my third eye.

‘Come on, it’s going to hit you’ Linda Wright’s voice pierced my stasis, and in a split second the target became my brow bone instead of my eye. But it couldn’t have hit me, he was too far away. The red rain told a different story as it rippled through my lashes. In disbelief I placed my index finger to my head, saw the trickle of blood, and finally started running blindly, away from the building site, where we shouldn’t have been.

 So very close to blinded.

A pale blue and cream police panda car took me to hospital, to three stitches and a scar I still bear. I don’t suppose the racist bully remembers. No-one punished him, a little brown girl didn’t matter much in 1967.

 

 

Awards, poetry and Blogging Addiction

Yesterday I received a nomination for the Leibster Award, from my dear blogging sister Meg. It’s my first award for some time, and I remember in Lucid Gypsy’s early days, seeing awards flying back and forth and wondering if I’d ever receive one. One they began, they came thick and fast. Flattered, I accepted and shared the love, until I realised that I was spending way too much time on them and decided I wouldn’t take part anymore. Awards seemed to peter out a little anyway.

The Leibster was one of the first that I received, but when I saw Meg’s post I decided that I would take part, simply because it was Meg! Then, I remembered that I haven’t posted for three days, have lots of photos and things I want to share as it is, how on earth could I fit anything else in?

Time. My nemesis and many other peoples. Of the 168 hours in a week, I spend 43 walking to work, being there and walking home again. I spend 56 attempting to sleep (and usually achieving about 42). Probably 26 hours are taken up with cooking, housework, grocery shopping, and self-care. I might watch TV for 3 hours a week, 5 hours a week might be social times, 10 if I have a day out! That still seems to leave 4 hours a day to be too exhausted to move uh, have fun, be creative, walk the dogs.

Write. That’s the one. That’s the reason I began blogging, at the end of a three-year period of study, that was undertaken to improve my creative writing skills.  Twice a month I go to my writing group and sometimes share some work, but I actually write very little these days. I’m one of those people who is too interested in too many things. I want to learn everything, read everything, experience everything, from block printing to training ants, and talk to everyone I encounter.

My writing blog isn’t, it’s a photography blog.  Lured in by the Weekly Photo Challenge and similar, I get to indulge another of my passions. Sharing photos is far quicker and easier than writing and I’m kind of cataloguing some of my life, that’s how I justify it to myself. But the reality is, like Meg, I’m addicted to blogging, both posting and visiting my blogging friends around the world. Some of you are very special, you know who you are and you’re the other half of what fuels my addiction.

I’d like to be able to say I’m going to change, that this will become a writing blog, but I’d be kidding myself. So dear Meg, thank you for choosing me for the award, but I’m declining. Instead I’m going to schedule my weekly events and of course I’m going to write, perhaps, maybe, sometime. Meanwhile, I went hunting for my Leibster Award and instead I found this poem from 2011, and thought I’d share again.

By Train Through Somerset

Country gulls flushed by the 10.53

arrow  from fields with frosty periphery

like yuletide tinsel under threadbare trees

 

lamb filled ewes  felted and jacketed

join blanketed ponies to nibble on nothing

awaiting a ride or a jar of mint sauce

 

depart the Levels undulating uphill

where railway huts stand derelict lonesome

the sizzle of pylons shoot towards ozone

 

old man’s beard helplessly clings to dense hide

of hedge where Roe stags lurk in dank

acres furrowed and ready  for spring

 

spires crack the  mist near burst  banks

where Saturday shoals of angling young men

stand fishing

and wishing

 

Encounters with youth

Recently I was walking home from work and gang of young lads were coming towards me, rowdy and fooling around. They were daft, squawking and pushing each other, but I knew there was nothing bad happening because they were wearing the uniforms of the public school over the road. Interestingly, I made a spot judgement based on their appearance that there was no risk to either the puniest one of them, or to myself. Rather sad really, but if a gang of lads from the Academy half a mile away were heading towards me I’d feel rather different, possibly a tiny bit anxious if I had to pass them. They would probably be pushing at the uniform boundaries with hoodies and trainers, this bunch had polished black shoes and crisply pressed shirts.

All these thoughts passed through my mind as they got closer. They were giggling and jeering and I had the distinct feeling that some of it was at my expense, I sucked my cheeks in to stop myself laughing. Next, the tallest and probably sweet sixteen year old, detached himself from the rest and followed with his hands behind his back. The giggles of four pre-pubertal boys, with unbroken voices, got louder as they drew level with me, and then I was eye to eye with Mr Sixteenish.

‘Excuse me’, he said ‘would you like a flower?’ He held out his hand to offer me a freshly picked sprig of blossom. I took it with a smile and a thank you. Meanwhile, of course, he’d trotted to catch up with the younger boys, who were convulsed with laughter, at his accepting what was so obviously a dare. I called after them that they should ‘learn from their handsome friend, he will be a success with the ladies.’ More laughter.

A young boy was brought into my office for a work experience day. He spent some time with someone in the opposite team and then was given to me for the afternoon. I welcomed him and asked him why he had chosen this particular experience, in a busy finance department, he muttered something that sounded like ‘It’s what I want to do’, ‘really?’ I said ‘what school year are you in, have you chosen your GCSE subjects?’  Another mutter.

He didn’t listen, so he made small mistakes, the same one several times, so to help his learning, I got him to correct them. I found out later that he had been in another finance department for four days, somewhere a lot more sober and serious than mine, with rather more senior staff. I have no idea how he survived. I was gentle and kind to him the whole time, trying my best to bring him out, and I rarely fail, but oh he was hard work. It turns out he was just 14, imagine knowing that you want to be an accountant at that age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was middle aged! I hope he succeeds in his chosen path, but I can’t help feeling that he was just too young for the situation, he was cocky, bright, but not as clever as he thought.

Driving home across the city, close to the University campus, dark apart from the street lights, I saw the silhouette of someone in the road twenty metres ahead. I instinctively slowed down and the car in front of me swerved sharply as the man reverse staggered back to the curb. I could tell it was a guy, late teens in jeans, tee-shirt and a beanie hat. Several vehicles came towards me but as I crept very slowly, they were leaving a 20 mph area and speeding up, unaware that he was about to dash and wobble on to the road again. Horns sounded, he nearly fell but just saved himself. My mind was flying through the options, stopping with hazard lights in the hope that he would cross safely and away from the traffic, shouting at him, I really thought he was going to be run over. Where are the police cars when you need one? This lad was desperately drunk, alone and vulnerable. Then there was a pause in the traffic and he reached the opposite path and sat down. With my eye on the rear view mirror I eased slowly away, and as I moved I saw him up and still swaying around. I still hoped to see a police car as I got closer to the city centre, and hoped even more that I wouldn’t hear anything nasty on the news in the morning.

Seven young boys, 36 hours.

A Golden Age

If you had to live forever, what age would you choose, childhood, adolescence or adulthood, and why? This is the question posed by the Daily Post today.

I’ll start by saying why I wouldn’t want to be an eternal child. I had plenty of fun as a child, simple fun, where I could play for hours sitting in a den under a table, covered in a chenille cloth or eating raw sausage meat when my grandmother made sausage rolls. A wooden box full of buttons was perfect to let my imagination run wild, as I conjured up the garments they had fallen from.

But I also had strange and difficult times as I struggled to know where I belonged. No, belonged is the wrong word, it was more that I was trying to work out how I fitted in, an answer that I didn’t get until I was middle aged.

My teenage years were worse, expected to and indeed wanting to go out and meet the world, I was often fearful and I most definitely did not fit.

But that’s the past. Now my skin fits. It won’t fit for many more years though, in stead it will become looser, as the subcutaneous fat redistributes itself, and I take on the guise of the crone.

So I want to stay where I am right now. I want to keep the strength I have, keep the ailments that come with age at bay. No arthritis, hypertension, high cholesterol, thyroid problems or dementia, because I need time.

I didn’t begin travelling until I was in my forties, I’d always wanted to but hardly dared to dream. I got my hit of exotic destinations watching Michael Palin, everywhere he went, I wanted to go. It wasn’t until I began to break free, that some of those places became reality.

But oh, there are so many places I need to see. Ethiopia, Mali, Uzbekistan, Namibia, Chile, Libya, Israel, Jordan, Greece. There are places that I couldn’t go to at the moment, even if I had the time and money. Pakistan, I’ve always wanted to visit, but I’ve just this evening watched a documentary, about it’s incredible history and culture.

I dream of being able to walk safely around the cities of Nigeria, to travel Ibgo country freely, meeting more of my family there and really understanding the culture. As things stand, it’s doubtful that this could happen in my lifetime. Who knows, give it fifty years and some miracles then, perhaps, it could be possible. So, I need to live forever as I am now, with the wisdom, confidence and experience that I have, and the brakes on the physical deterioration. This is my Golden Age!

I’m adding this comment I found on Facebook this morning. It’s from my lovely extra son, my daughter’s partner Steven, who has hidden talents that I hope he will use one day. Thanks Steve xx

This is a tough question. On first thought it seems easy, however who would truly want to live forever? The fact that we have such a brief sneeze of time to enjoy this crazy, heart aching, beautiful thing called life is what makes it so truly special. We live each day never truly knowing if it is our last, so we grab hold of it, squeeze it for every little drop and savour every morsel. If we live forever then surely part of that essence fades, knowing that we have forever to do the things we want. We lose the sense of urgency, the need, the desire to do today all the things we fear to delay until  tomorrow. The fear of tomorrow makes us live today.

But then I realise that I could spend forever with my beautiful family, watching my daughters play and grow. If only….

Kalash Tribal, Fat Chance and Congo

I wish I could re-blog directly from BlogSpot, but as this isn’t possible, I’m sharing this important link with you. I first came across American Tribal Style dance two years ago when Kalash Tribal were performing at the Mid Devon Show. I was mesmerised by them and sent them a couple of photos I’d taken on the day. Since then I’ve seen them again and followed their activities on Facebook.
Kelley Beeston teaches the troop, as well as performing. But there is so much more to this lady than her dance. I noticed that she travelled to Congo to do voluntary work with women, that’s CONGO, an article in the Guardian a few years ago described it as the worst place in the world to be a woman. So Kelley has fundraised for a fishing net, contraceptives and sewing machines, to help them to help themselves climb out of poverty.These are women who have survived torture and rape, they deserve all the help they can get to change their future. With her husband Kelley has started a Community Interest Company, luminosity.org
These are Kelley’s words from her Facebook page.

Tonight I cried. I cried because a woman who is so very important to me revealed her vulnerable side publicly. I cried because she recognises the need of so many other vulnerable women. I cried because she wrote an appeal – please help if you are able

She included a link to Fat Chance belly Dance blog page where Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman has appealed for help for this important cause.
http://fcbdblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/sister-to-sister-project.html

If you can help in any little way please do. If you can't help financially – I know that times are hard, please spread the word, re-blog, post about it, create a post sharing Carolena's blog, tweet and share on Facebook.
Thank you for reading.

The Nereids Zodiac Sign

My brand new zodiac sign would be Nereids, sea goddesses ruled by the tides and moon, therefore a mix of air and water elements. There is to be a full moon around my birthday, and I share the sign with others born three days either side of June 2nd. Nereids like myself have been known to howl at the moon and gather like minded daughters and sisters, crones and virgins to join in the lunar celebrations at the seashore, and the liminal space of the estuary. Nereids are volatile spirits, benign, warm and generous with a bountiful love of human, animal and faerie folk. Harm an innocent though and we will fight tooth, feather and scales to defend the broken ones, often suffering ourselves as a result. Beware triggering our rage.

Physically we are fleet as shoals of little silver fish, swirling in the shallows , where the sunlight shimmers. Because of our love of water and air, we can be prone to weakness of our feet, and they need much attention to keep them healthy. Both our hands and eyes are very expressive and full of emotion.

At times we become too grounded for our nature and that is when we become greedy, often devouring great quantities of things that are unsuitable and over processed. This slows us down, makes us sluggish and confuses our airways, causing asthma like symptoms . We can be opinionated, overbearing, and frequently become grumpy old women, with a flip side that never grows up.

Could you possibly be a Nereid? If this sounds like you, there is a fair chance that someone got your birthdate wrong. Maybe you could describe your own custom zodiac sign?

 

I created this post in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Custom Zodiac

The Dark Panny

I was walking through the panny in  the tunnel under the road, it was a rite of passage. Girls didn’t usually go there, except me and Linda Wright. It was okay until we reached the bend under Heavitree bridge, then the darkness wrapped itself around us, like a coffin  slamming shut.

There were rats of course, occasionally one would scuttle over our plimsoles. Even scarier were the eels, they slithered in noisy gangs with their ugly whiskers. We didn’t dare confess that the green stains on our clothes came from slipping on the algae covered pebbles. As I rose in the dark these memories came rushing back again.

100wcgu-7Julia’s prompt for week 151 is . . . as I rose in the dark,  and my piece isn’t fiction!

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week151/

 

Writing 101, Serially Lost

Michelle W says,

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series

Violet Elizabeth was just sitting there when they crashed into her on the road. It was noon on one of those late winter days when you wake up and find the ground white with snow. We can’t drive on snow here in the UK, I confess it applies to me as well it happens so rarely in the south west of England. An inch of white stuff and I have this awful dilemma in my head. If I drive and the snow gets heavier I could be stranded somewhere. There could be an accident. If I walk I could fall on hidden ice and break a leg. I think perhaps I had a bad fall as a child that has affected me, or seen someone else fall. My grandmother had a fear of slipping on ice and hurting herself, it could be that causing my irrational fear.

On the March morning, there was an accident. The snow had fallen in the early hours, it must have thawed slightly before freezing again making the road treacherous, especially on the bend outside where violet was waiting.

My neighbour witnessed it from her window, and thinking it was a hit and run, she rushed out. Violet was ten years old.