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Archives

Monthly Archives: July 2014

History Homework

Friday, July 25, 2014

Having tried a story in seven tweets once, I quite liked the challenge. So here’s another for your delectation and delight.

 

1

The Captain was finishing a coloured picture of a new species of fly. His ship rocked gently under a hot sun.

2

As he added the last brush stroke there was a little pop. He was gone. Just like that. It was as if he had never been.

3

A time and a half later a girl called Xanxy was doing some homework with a history hook and line. She twitched it.

4

“Stop that at once,“ said her mother. “That’s your Father’s. It’s not a toy. You can cause all sorts of time knots at your age.”

5

She looked inside Xanxy’s collection tank as a bewildered man in a uniform appeared, carrying easel, brush and inks.

6

“Have I done it right, Mama? It says, Research and illustrate the shipping terms Captain and Shanghaied and present them  to class”

7

“Don’t ask me,” said her Mother. “Just make sure the poor creature goes back where he came from, once you’ve shown him in the lesson.”

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A Tale in 7 Tweets

Monday, July 21, 2014

I was struck by the notion of David Mitchell’s (not the comedian) attempt to create a seven tweet story. Each tweet the usual 140 characters or less, including spaces. Below is my own foray into the form, the Twitter version of a haiku-like constraint.

 

1.

“Rainin’ in my heart”: The song bounced off the bone inside his skull in time to the trolley’s squeaking. The drug made it symphonic.

2.

Blurry masked faces. Transparent tubes and steel. A whistling dive into darkness and the grim recall of a somersault into a sycamore’s trunk.

3.

Observing from the ceiling. Heart out.  New heart in. The surgeon’s reddening gloves. The robot’s precise blade.

4.

His body welcoming the flesh and blood prosthesis. A sense of his memories being torn and fluttering.

5.

Wife, children, house, dog, job, university, school, childhood, babyhood are shreds in a storm. New images emerging.

6.

The delight of soil, beetles, worms, fermenting fruit. A leather muzzle. The sweet seduction of truffles.

7.

Whistling back to consciousness. Identity returning.  But something else – an overwhelming craving to root his nose deep into damp earth.

 

 

 

 

 

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Unkind cutting

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I haven’t written a blog for some time and with this one I am breaking my flow of childhood reminiscences.

I was talking on Skype to my son in Japan. I said that once you hit seventy you have a prevailing picture of the Grim Reaper, scythe glittering in the sunshine, walking down a long hill towards you. If you are feeling particularly good in yourself, he recedes up the track to become a dot on the horizon whereas if you feel under the weather in some way he becomes increasingly magnified. The fact of the matter is that, at seventy, you are in his stalking territory for this is the killing field of the Hooded One. Around you friends and acquaintances of approximately your own age are dying with terrible regularity. Cancer and heart attacks. There is a harsh imbalance to it all. Why can’t we all go together in one merry swipe of the blade? Instead we have this haphazard genocide and as much unpredictability as can be squeezed out of what is, of course, the most predictable of our seven ages. It is true, too, as I mentioned in a recent tweet, that you age, usually become somewhat wiser but have less and less time and energy to employ your hard earned wisdom. This vicious irony is further exaggerated by the brain’s consistency changing from mature cheddar to Emmental so that sagacity deconstructs into quicksilver, sliding away from attempts to focus upon it long enough to communicate it to those around you.

Anyway, I went for knee replacement surgery here in France. The events of that carving and remodelling of some of my body parts are now a surreal dream of lumpy mattresses, debilitating pain, morphine-induced visions, a mad woman screaming through the night, padding nurses carrying hypodermics and pills to thrust into my quivering body at all hours and feats of endurance to get to the toilet and somehow evacuate my bowels as a consequence of the plates piled with food that reduce your appetite from minimal to non-existent. And finally the kinés, the physiotherapists with their softly growling machines-diaboliques, into which your leg is strapped and which bend the resisting, swollen joints into something  vaguely resembling their original L shape, regardless of the pain.

The operation itself was a miracle of modern surgery conducted by a gentle and humane man. Everything now seems straight and true. I now have my own machine on loan at home and am a masochist working my way back to happiness.

Better still, the cowled character on my landscape has retreated far into the mists of my blue-remembered hills.

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