“What I have done on my holidays.” by Sparks, aged 30 ¾.
While my upcoming blog post is still in the works, this Nouvelle Vague piece will fill the deadly space between.
“What I have done on my holidays.” by Sparks, aged 30 ¾.
While my upcoming blog post is still in the works, this Nouvelle Vague piece will fill the deadly space between.
The worrying thing about change, I find, is that it’s always the same. Unrelenting; unwavering; unsentimental. When you find the moment you are happy to see out your days with…this too shall pass. Such a loss is many degrees worse than some of the most harrowing events I’ve witnessed or been party to; I’ve always learnt from harrowing events. How to be stronger; how to be more patient; to consider consequences. What have I ever learnt from a moment of happiness? Synonyms. Some were more ‘joyous’, others would be better described as ‘thrilling’. Few others, ‘bliss’.I fear less the darkness that blinds than the light that burns. One quickly extinguished, the other lingers. But what for?
This was as far as my asinine thoughts had pondered until I was distracted. There was a child, apparated next to where I was sat. A boy. Young, no older than four. Five at a push. Despite barely reaching the desk at his fullest stretch had his nose peering into my notebook.
“Hello.” In the same sort of way I would address a strange cat in the kitchen, I had an opening gambit.
No answer. His hands remained buried in his blue dungarees as he haunched over my writing. A self appointed editor-in-chief. With no parent in sight, I moved to ‘cat in kitchen’ line two:
“Are you lost?”
“Are you lost?” He echoed.
“I’m where I’m supposed to be. You’re not though are you?”
He turned to look at me and cocked his head. He was laughing guiltily as though he and I were sharing a secret. One I, perhaps, didn’t understand.
“What are you writing about?”
Amidst all else curiosity and wonderment had won out.
I stared both inwardly and onto the paper in front of me.
“It’s just what I am thinking. It feels important.”
Only silence in reply.
“…just to me. No one needs to see it. It’s cathartic. I want to feel like I’m doing something positive.”
More silence. Dead air I felt compelled to fill.
“I want the world to be different, better maybe.”
“Like Batman?” The energy of those two words obliterated the soundlessness from before.
“No. I don’t want to save the world; sometimes, I would quite like to believe it is worth saving.”
I wanted to tell him of complexities of adulthood; checks, balances; moral relativism; ideology; but I just felt foolish. When I was young, there was what was right and there was what was wrong. I had always considered that the world had seen its edges frayed, but, in keeping, it was more complicated than that.
I stopped and looked over the child properly for the first time. He didn’t meet my gaze, not avoiding it just…never fully acknowledging it. Distracted by everything around him all at once. He was somewhere where everything was new and exciting. Even as jealous as I was, I felt less of a man for considering taking that away from him.
“So is it? Worth saving, I mean..?” I asked. I’m not so certain why; the wisdom between the ages, maybe, started to shine through even just a little.
“Oh, yes,” the lone reply, tinged with auspicious excitement, “…there are dinosaurs.” With that he turned away with the grace (and accompanying roars) of a T. Rex and vanished as swiftly as he had come.
I now had my answer. I caught the knowing look in my reflection from my desk mirror. I replied with a curt nod before my eyes returned to marking time across the page once more.
Is today the day I get everything sorted, or is it Thursday?
I have tried to edit another chapter to put up on here, and wasn’t going to post until then. However, I was sworn in as Chairman of the Bored today. Massive news. Full of joy, fun and sarcasm. It was a unanimous decision; 100% of votes cast in favour. All considered me as the person best placed to tackle; raise awareness; promote; respond to the boredom crisis that has now reached peak levels.
Three things in particular helped my case for election.
There had to be a recount after Jeff Lynn of ELO was initially declared the winner. Ironically, this was the injection of excitement that this Marie Celeste of a day truly needed.
Today is one of those days for Iggy Pop-ping along; perhaps required after spending evenings Alabama Song-ing along instead. It is all about finding a balance.
I always like to include some sort of song/video I’ve found that has made me smile, or at least pause for thought. After some lovely words given after my last entry, I have instead put another example of my guitar work. I am in love with it again today, so three minutes respite below:
I’ve been laid up in bed under the weather for the last few months. For the most part, if I haven’t been able to reach something from my bed, I have just, simply, had to do without it.
One thing I have had access to is my guitar, so I’ve playing about with that for a good while (much to the chagrin of my neighbours). I wanted to play ever since I was a child. I was gifted my guitar as a teenager, and I’ve been playing ever since. No lessons, and it shows, but I’ve been practising whenever I can, and enjoy it. The days I no longer love the guitar are very sad ones indeed.
I saw this quote by the more talkative half of Penn & Teller; it describes my relationship with my guitar to a tee:
With that in mind, something I did while being fairly immobile, and without completely steady hands (*excuses etc). Its both up tempo, but rather sad. The mix amuses me:
Having been ill for so long, and facing the prospect of being so for the foreseeable, my first thought was to consider that I needed to develop a relationship with it, as I, simply, had been ignoring it. My second thought was that – obviously, perhaps – I already had one:
I lived with someone many years ago who I absolutely despised. Not simply dis-like, I truly despised this man. It wasn’t one sided. He hated me just as much, perhaps more – I never cared to find out. From the many encounters of a wide array of people I’ve met during my life, some of whom – incredibly annoying; only two have been so beyond the pale; both former close friends, ironically perhaps – or very comic book villain. This was one of them. If, on pain of death I had to say something kind about him…I would still consider it long and hard before declining.
We lived together in one house. We weren’t always there at the same time, but each time we were we would do anything not to be in the same room as one another, often staying in our own space, safely away from the other. When the other was absent we would have free reign and our kingdom was larger; it would shrink to such an unsustainable size otherwise.
There were three occasions, only three, during a twelve-month period where our paths crossed. It was almost as though both of us acknowledged a mistake had been made, but defiant that the error was at the hand of the other. I use the word ‘ acknowledged ’, an exchange of a death-stare upon stopping whatever activity we had been doing is a loose definition of the word ‘acknowledged’.
He wasn’t always there, but it was my house. He was in my house. That’s where I go to be safe; calm; somewhere you can make your own. Even when he wasn’t there, he could be again soon. As much as it would pain and annoy me to admit – he would, quite accurately, say the same.
To add to the woe of this, people would confuse us because apparently we looked similar. Even people who knew us both, occasionally, got our names confused…or upon hearing about us both, would assume we were the other. I think I developed a twitch as a result of the number of eye-rolls I had to do in such a short space of time.
I write\vent all that for the simple reason because that is the exact relationship I have with my illness. Like for like. He had a small box room because I had chosen the master bedroom and was unwavering and not in a compromising mood. We lived in this fashion for twelve months. I imagine had it have gone on longer there would have been some sort of coup and I would have been turfed out and consigned to the Harry Potter cupboard. I have been under-the-weather for some time longer than twelve months, and am trying to make my new home under the stairs as comfortable as possible…
This is the second part of something I wrote 2½ years ago. It was something I enjoyed at the time, and always meant to go back to. The first part is here, please read that first if you would like – and if you enjoy, read this one after.
I have taken to sharing something that has caught my eye during this time, somewhat related, perhaps, to what I’ve written. The below video shows the differences between labels and people – and what values we attach to both.
I have had only my notebook and whiskey for company this week, so to see the fruits of a rapidly unravelling mind, perhaps, please enjoy the below:
“My favourite thing about you, was always your ability to surprise me”, he was outwardly unmoved except for a wry smile. A neutral observer would even see a hint of regret, perhaps a degree of disappointment, a man who had played all his cards being dealt out the next round. Yet there were no neutral observers, there were none. Only one pair of eyes across the table; they knew his cards were yet to be revealed.
He had no anger nor could it be described as surprise. It wasn’t excitement; desire; aggression; there was no panic in his mind or his manner. For the smallest degree of an infinite amount of time, he felt nothing. As she held his hands, he was without her; he was on a solo journey on his train of thought.
Every moment in life is a Choose Your Own Adventure. Go left? Go right? Should we speak or be silent? Should we lie? For the first time in his adult life, he didn’t know which page to turn to. What would someone else do? What would anyone do? Could he pick a page at random, and see how it played out? You can’t turn it back once you’ve moved along. Faced with an internal disunion, suddenly the gravity of every decision he’d ever made (and will ever make henceforth) became painfully clear.
The thought of throwing a pause into the story and keeping the moment, averting his next step, was an appealing one. Although, if he had that power, there were plenty of other, more alluring, times he would have done so. Action and inaction are not opposites. They are virtual synonyms; they are both responses to an event and have consequences. The two choices are exactly that. Choices. So what is the opposite? He did not want to choose. He did not want…consequence.
He, simply, did not know what to say. In a continuous spectrum of emotion, words were rather inadequate. One phrase could turn a tide; create joy; forge sorrow. He would have no control over the events once a word tumbled out. If a wrong one slipped into her ear, it would poison her mind. They were starting their trek out of their purgatory, their limbo; but it was a hazard-ridden path for the both of them.
In no time at all, his locomotive brain was running in circles; with each lap the right stop became difficult to spot as it went past.
He no longer knew the rules to the game they were playing.
As she looked at him, she saw every encounter they had ever had; everything that had brought them to this point. For all of its contrariety, here they both were. There was no word one could use other than ‘inevitable’. In a world of infinite possibilities, they had found each other. Their lives had one way or another, become ineffably intertwined. She was momentarily disquieted by this idea of determinism, but instead found comfort in the peace it had brought her.
Her silence was different. He was lost, she was held tightly; enrapt by it. He had spoken last, but still she waited. She was holding a fragment of empathy in her hands. It was fragile; not like a baby, nor like a china doll. This was a time-bomb counting down. Before she could say her piece, she needed to be sure it would fit, or else risk detonation…damnation.
Her mind was still; despite its surrealness, this really was a perfect moment. She added it to the ethereal album she kept of his face. Despite his gaze not meeting hers, she kept this to treasure in the future.
She no longer knew the rules to the game they were playing.
They would both have to make it up as they went along.
Once upon a time in a much happier tale, they had understood one another, but perhaps they could again. He shook his head to himself, before nodding; smiling at his own resolve he found the strength to meet her eye.
“There’s only one thing left to do then.”
“It’s all just….a little too late, don’t you think?”
As his answer, he stood and took a step towards her. He gambled on it being the closest they had been. He outstretched his palm; looked down at her face watching his, and spoke his three most heartfelt words:
“We could run.”
This is getting closer to the story I want to write. It still isn’t that. Writing this has helped move that ahead, so that one day, when I finally get what I want written down it may have some proper substance.
I think its important to get what you want written done, even if it is not perfect the first time. It can only improve over time, even if the second, third, fourth are not much better.
The below is the first part of something that will be much longer, that I’d quite like to finish if it turns out to be any good. I thought about holding off posting it until it was all done, but considered that this might mean it would never get read at all, and I do think its better than what is sitting in my reject pile (even if only slightly…)
I’ve been watching many sci-fi/dystopian/thriller type movies of late; I find them fascinating. Some are disturbingly relatable. Many so happen to focus on identity.
Then someone showed me this cartoon, which – absolutely bizarrely – I saw similar ideas in, or perhaps I’m seeing them everywhere (although this one managed it whilst being quite sweet and enjoyable):
Now Part One of my own short. As I say, I hope Part Two follows soon.
“Oh that’s just fantastic. Another one? That’s twelve now! How much more of this is there?”
The elevator doors had opened revealing a pensive pair of eyes. There was a face; hair; knees; nose; and all the other usual accompaniments too, but none of the room’s other occupants were really looking at those. They were all indistinguishable from their own. No one has ever seen their own face directly. Not once. The only way we see ourselves is from a photograph or at a glance into a mirror. As bizarre and unexplained the unfolding scenario was, none of the men seemed to acknowledge its gravity. The new addition drew little more attention, even when the feet edged gingerly into the room.
“We’ll call this one ‘Baker’?”, the man closest stepped forward and pointed to the new arrival, but he addressed the room instead. The Patriarch. He had identified ‘Baker’ as the youngest, the naïve one. That person whom people spoke about in front of, knowing they wouldn’t understand. He didn’t.
“Why Baker?” From behind, a pencil had stopped taking notes.
Patriarch continued, “He is the twelfth. The Baker’s dozen. Baker.”
There was a furious crossing out across the page, but the words were calm. “A baker’s dozen is thirteen.”
For just a beat, Patriarch was silent. He had been caught out. He turned to the one who challenged him and drew out his his index finger towards him, as though it were magnetised to the man’s face. “He’s Baker. Write that one down.” Writer recorded as such.
“My name is not Baker”, Baker said.
Everyone ignored him.
He took a moment to survey the room. An open plan office space, not too expansive. It held all the men in the room quite comfortably, but was probably at capacity. Fully furnished; computers; phones; a printer. All powered down. The strip lighting overhead, all off. The daylight seeping in from the windows from three sides gave just enough to see, even if the details were slightly obscured. Outside there was only sky, save for the speckled clouds and, of course, the sun.
Far in the distance, the sun was fast approaching the horizon. The watercolours surrounding it were splashing a rouged tangelo from the west. This sight was almost hidden due to the piercing glow. The shade provided blessed relief from its gaze. It was becoming ever apparent that this was not a problem to be contended with for long; the rank of shadows grew ever stronger.
Then there was that ‘thing’ with all the doors. There were none. The single egress was the elevator door, which was sealed shut. Like everything else, it was now powered down. This isolated world was a stage set far away from anything that could be considered knowable. A lifetime’s accumulation of experience was irrelevant.
Patriarch had been talking. He was spilling rhetoric as a drunk does his ninth drink of the night. Perhaps half of the room had been paying attention, although none were rapt. Everyone was grateful when the printer started humming into life; indeed, the looks on the faces across the room: Gratefulness first, then surprise. After that, doubt.
“One of your number is not what they seem.” Until now, this one had been silent, but as the printed sheet fed out, he was the only one to move and pick it up. Reader continued: “Find the werewolf. Eliminate him before he hunts you all. He will take one per night.” He looked up, at no one in particular and continued solemnly, “Night will come soon.”
“A werewolf?” Doubt turned to panic, “What crazy place is this? I’m trapped here with all of… you; and now, a werewolf is going to kill me?!?” Panic had found his shrill voice. The Peace and Reason that was self contained in the space was now fraught with holes; the amount of damage a piece of paper held in one’s hand can do has always far outweighed that of anything sharp or semi-automatic.
“It’s a metaphor.” Writer had stopped his note-taking once more, and contributed instead. His effort was wasted, as no one paid him any attention. He added this fact to his black book, keeping his future epiphanies to himself.
“Rubbish.” Patriarch replied, reaching out and snatching the paper from Reader’s hands. “No such thing as werewolves. This is ridiculous.” He scrunched up the paper and made to throw it but Panic held him.
“This whole place is ‘ridiculous’.” Panic took back what had been taken and did his best to flatten it out. He folded it once and, reverently, put it in his pocket. “This is our only way to make sense of what is going on here.”
“What sense is there in chasing werewolves and fairy tales?!”
“What option do we have? What would you have us do!?” The two men were nose-to-nose at this point, the distance between them shrinking as their voices raised. None of the others interjected.
“This…”, he continued, pointing frenetically between each of them, emphasising the “…Impossible.”
So it was.
As the final syllable faded, the word remained. One man; twelve men. Trapped in a place which, simply, could not exist. Speaking the word had exposed just how much it was smeared across the environment. Not one desk; no window; there was not a single face untouched by it. If they had not already, it would not take long for the men to realise it themselves. Everything that had once had a veneer of truth started to tarnish, underlining the layers of absurdity beneath. All with the exception, perhaps, of the word itself. It all appeared just plain wrong.
The sun faltered and was, finally, lost beneath the horizon.
There started the night.
I was given a written prompt, and it reminded me of something I’d been trying to write for a long time that I never pursued. This still isn’t that, but its something on its way. That, in turn, reminded me of something else entirely.
The prompt was:
“Everyone Assumes They Get a Guardian Angel; They Don’t Realise That Demons Can Be Guardians Too.”
The angels in my life do not have wings, and the demons certainly do not have horns; so I’ve taken this rather askew compared to what I’ve read in a lot of other pieces. I am not sure how I’ve taken it, to be honest (or even if I’ve gone completely astray…). I pinched parts of one line from somewhere else, which is what the rest is borne out of (in case anyone notices that…).
This reminded me of something called The Stanley Parable. It is designed as a game, but is far more of an existential exploration, I suppose. I really recommend you explore it, otherwise I have a YouTube video here that holds a very similar value. It is well worth 8 minutes of your time, in my opinion, even if you skip any further text I have written.
From that couture piece of fiction, to something – perhaps – less refined.
“The Great Library of Alexandria, a monument to the near infinite wealth of the Ancient Egyptians. Everything that had ever been known was held within its walls. Hundreds of people spent their whole lives transcribing knowledge so it could be stored and held safely in one place. Marked as one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World; all thoughts and ideas brought together to stand the test of time. Burned to the ground in 48 B.C. Generations of discovery lost.”
“Is that where we are now?”
“…is there somewhere you would rather be?”
“No…I’m just….surprised, is all.” A cautious glance around the shadows, “Where are all the scribes you were just talking about?”
“We do not need them, you and I. Everything you need, you talk to me.”
“You’re the librarian?”
“We are in a library. I am the librarian. If this were a shop I would be your cashier; were it a museum, I would be your guide…”
“I would feel a lot more comfortable if I could see you. I don’t know where you are.”
“Comfort is not what I am here for. I am here to tell you what you should hear. Besides, there is no comfort to be gained by seeing my face.”
“What is it that I should hear? Why should I listen?”
“Who else is there here that you can trust? There will be nothing you can learn without my guidance here. Of course, you may search beyond, I cannot stop you; but it is…purposeless. You will see for yourself. I will be here still. I am the voice between the voices; I am the one who moves this story along when it loses its way. I will not be silenced for long…”
There was anger behind the disembodied voice, the echoes ricocheted off the hall’s unseen corners. The mood had turned; the visitor had, perhaps, said the wrong thing. The wooden floors were rough and uneven; unloved. One would think no human soul had entered but for one. The dust layered upon it was broken by a chain of footprints, a continued trail leading into the gloom. The only disturbance in an otherwise untouched world. The library was, at best, unwelcoming. Without any direction, it would become a labyrinth.
With no voice to smother the surroundings, the grandiose hall came into focus. The few shelves visible were bare. The library was quite barren; all at least, that existed outside the darkness. The dim light, source of which unknown, stretched no further than a couple of arm’s lengths. For all the mention of untold understanding, there was nothing.
“Let. There. Be. Light.”
The silence was broken by the words accompanied by the reluctant grind of heavy machinery. A lever forced its way into effect, the weight of which set the world into motion. Sunlight wept inside from windows surrounding high above. The boundaries of the interior world were now confirmed; for a hall containing the world’s wealth, the atmosphere could only be described as claustrophobic. All that was outside was an infinity away.
“I care not for your tricks. If there is to be light, let it fall upon us instead!”
“Are you not impressed? Let’s shift our focus, then. Choice is your freedom as much as any other illusion. It is what’s on the inside that counts, after all…”
Another heavy lever echoed high above. The light of the world outside was extinguished. In an instant a bright spotlight revealed how close to an infinite measure the hall maintained as a zone became illuminated. There were endless levels climbing ever higher, spiralling towards the apex. There was an atrium starkly revealed becoming ever thinner as the surrounding walls reached a blinding point. None of the light reached the ground, from where he gazed upon. It reached down little further than a few floors above him, clawing the outer walls.
It was there, where the light lost its battle with the dark, leaning ponderously upon a railed balcony, he saw the man for the first time.
It was a face that was all too familiar, but belonged to a man he, truly, did not know. The eyes were tired and disguised a thinly veiled anger; one hand steadying himself on the balcony railing, the other held a stranglehold on a lever. His unsteady grasp on power was power all the same; he had dominion here and could turn on the night.
That was the moment the power in the room shifted. Everything prior had been implicit; manipulated; symbolised. Only then had he became broken.
“I am trapped down here and can’t see a way out. There is nothing down here, save for myself, all this knowledge is elsewhere; I want to step outside. You have been where I am standing; you know how I can escape. I’m afraid that I will not be able to leave. I need you to help me.”
A pause. A breath. A decree.
“Then allow me. I can stare between the fretwork. There is no one out there coming for us, but I will be the one who will go to them. I can see the broken world and will do this for us both. You have given me my own voice. Can you now see how it is to have mine? I will save you from this.
In one swift flourish his hand reached down, closing the distance, even so slightly between himself and the floors below. His facade of implied unsteadiness had faded. At first it looked as though he was reaching out to his compatriot; this was not a warm embrace. Not yet. The hand held a match; as both men stared, without even the most subtlest of movements, the head ignited and began to glow.
Both men were silent for a moment. Encapsulated temporarily by its vibrancy and allusiveness in equal measure. Finally the voice from above spoken again.
“Do you know why they burned the Great Library? Perhaps there were no treasures within after all? Or, in fact, there was a conspiracy to make the world think all the knowledge had been lost…..but it was all SAVED.” The final sentence elicited first a smile before an excited grin, finally breaking into a tired, throaty laugh, near indistinguishable from a deep and persistent cough.
“But…”, he continued, as the laughter quickly faded, “…this is not the case. It is so sad, and would have made a wonderful story. One of determination; bravery; honour; of justice.”
No words in response. The spotlight began to fade from view as the match burned brighter without even a flicker.
“This is not some fairy-tale told to children; it is not an heroic myth fondly shared. It is a footnote, in an altogether different story, one that continued long after the Library’s demise. Do you think you deserve an ending? Are you owed a neat resolution all tied up with a bow? The story will continue either way. Yours is not a story; it is a fragment. Come! Step into the light. Get your fingers burnt. It is time.”
Only silence in reply. The match was aloft, over the chasm between the two men. Its stillness was quite hypnotic. The flame was not dancing, it was prone; waiting patiently for the right tune.
“Since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fear: let us move along; stop singing these songs; we have been performing all these years. Tear down the Hall.”
The dance started. The pirouette was beautiful.