Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A215 Assignment no 1.

So, the scores are finally in and i achieved a 74% pass mark for the following piece of writing. (That's about a B for those of you unused to the Open University scoring system). I hope you like it and please feel free to comment.

Jenny's Christmas Wish

  Jenny stood looking out of the window. Christmas was coming and she wondered how on earth she was going to afford it this year. They had only just paid off last year’s credit card and she wasn’t sure that she could go through that experience again. The children had already given her their present lists, 15 year old Jack wanted a laptop and his 13 year old sister Poppy wanted and Xbox 360 with Kinect and all the dance games to go with it. Jenny sighed, neither child believed in Santa anymore, both of them knew money was tight and yet, how could she not get them what they wanted? It would ruin their Christmas and two sulky teenagers around the dining table was not a pleasant thought. She turned around to survey the lounge. The patterned carpet was starting to look faded where the sunlight falling through the window landed and why did they choose a light coloured suite? It looked so grubby now. They usually threw a big party on Christmas Eve but it was going to be so embarrassing for her friends to see the house like this. Maybe they could all go down with flu the day before and then they wouldn’t have to fulfil the obligation.
  ‘Silly idea,’ she said shaking her head as she sank down into the battered sofa. It never used to be like this she thought. In the quiet of the early winter afternoon, Jenny found herself wandering down memory lane, the Christmases of her youth when her parents used to do the big Christmas shop. The highlight of the shopping trolley being the big bag of chestnuts that were later roasted on the coal shovel over the slowing embers of an open fire. She remembered her mum trying to stop them from burning by turning them over, but she never succeeded. There was always one burnt side. Then, that magical moment when Jenny was allowed to eat one,
  ‘Be careful,’ said her mum, ‘it’s hot!’
Understatement of the year Jenny remembered as she suddenly felt again the ‘ouch’ as she picked one off the shovel and the rapid juggling act that followed as she tossed it from hand to hand to cool it down again. Then, trying to break open the shell to get to the prized flesh inside until, finally she could pop that succulent nut into her salivating mouth. She always remembered too late that she didn’t really like chestnuts; it was the tradition of them that counted.
  Then another memory assailed Jenny. After the chestnuts were eaten and before the fire died their dad would throw another log onto the fire sending a whoosh of sparks up the chimney. He then took their hand written lists and held them to the top of the chimney, and let go. Letting the angels whisk them away to Santa and tell him that she and her sister had been good girls that year. It was years before she realised that those sparks were from the wood, not real angels, but she still loved him for it. Wasn’t that where the magic was? The innocence of childhood before mass commercialism took over and mince pies went on sale in September. The days when a Barbie doll and a chocolate selection box in her pillowcase version of today’s handmade personalised sack that could never be filled because the toys they want today are so tiny. She has tried to carry on the traditions, but how could you send a letter up the chimney to Santa when you have gas central heating?
  Jenny looked up at the aging photograph of her parents on the mantelpiece. She wished they were here to give her some advice but they had passed away many years before. The hotline to heaven wasn’t working today so there would be no words of wisdom coming from that direction.
  Just then a sliver of winter sunlight came through the window and alighted on the photo. As Jenny watched the clouds chase the brightness away again she realised that she did know the answer. Families were what mattered most, not laptops or games machines or parties. They would survive a lean Christmas, the children were old enough to understand and their friends were all in similar positions and would probably be relieved at her decision.
  With a smile Jenny stood and walked towards the kitchen,
  ‘I’ll make a big chocolate cake for after school,’ she said to herself, ‘just like mum used to make.’

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Musing on writing.

I have always felt that writing is the one place where i can be myself, am at home and can succeed. I remember when i first acquired a home computer, a loaned one from the Open University for T102-introduction to science, and i sat at the dining table, tenderly touching the keyboard with my splayed fingertips. 'This is my destiny' i thought, but at the time i was unable to take it any further. When, 2 months later, i had to pull out of that course due to time and family commitments i remember feeling bereft as i packaged it away.
  I don't really understand why the computer was such a symbol of my writing need, i could always use a pen and paper, but on reflection i realise it went much deeper than that.
  A few years later i finally managed to get on the computer owning ladder through pleas and arguments with my then husband about how necessary it was for the boys to have access to the net for their schoolwork. I never once told him it was so that i could write. Following our divorce, and the decision to obtain a degree the writing again took a back seat as i told myself that Health and Social Care courses were much more important, more acceptable to others and therefore the right thing to do.
  Years of words flowed by me. Fifteen years and the attainment of a Bsc Hons have not fulfilled the void in my life that i now recognise as the need to write. I still can't understand why people find it so difficult to understand that 'writer' can be just as acceptable a job description as 'nurse,' 'policeman' or 'shop assistant'. Why, when asked what their occupation is, a writer feels obliged to justify their reasons for having the jumped up audacity to call themselves such. Why they are made to feel embarrassed because of their choice of career. I know that what has held me back is the fear of people laughing at my attempts at prose, i couldn't write on paper because someone might find my notebook and read my words, the same for any writing on my computer. The need to protect my fragile inner self esteem from the jeers of those that really can do no better themselves-or are frightened that i may achieve something that secretly, they long to do themselves.
  So what is the change? Myself, i have changed. I am finally allowing myself to write and i am finally allowing others into this inner sanctum that is my writing. The journey is scary, one of the most exhilerating roller coasters i have ever ridden. Every time somebody is reading my work i wait anxiously as the chain slowly bites and drags my cart up to the summit. The stomach lurching point where the reader lifts their head and prepares to give their verdict. I wonder in that heart stopping moment if i will get a mad rush of pleasure or a debilitating crash landing. So far, i have enjoyed the ride.
  Thankyou to those who believe in me.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Weekly writing challenge No 4

I did it!! After missing out last weeks i have completed this weeks challenge so i am definately feeling a halo moment coming on.
  Our task was to write a piece (poetry, prose or fiction) inspired by the photo below. I hope you all like it.

The Perfect Marriage

Pete mooched slowly down the tree lined avenue, the misty rain landing silently on his open umbrella. He was the only person in view and he wondered just what he was doing here.
  Of course, he should have been at work. If this were a normal day he would be sat in his cubicle of an office, computer whirring and screen flashing, his fingers whizzing over the keyboard as if his life depended on it, which it did. His position as a computer analyst was all that mattered. He would leave the house in the early hours after his wife had made him breakfast and make sure he was in his office before anyone else. He loved that solitary time, when he was alone with his freshly brewed coffee and before the telephone started its incessant ringing, peace and quiet in which to organise and plan the day ahead. 
  Then the fun would start, people would gradually drift in, some ready for the day ahead, others still bleary eyed from too much socializing the night before. They would come in with tales of their home lives, how difficult it was to live with their partners, their screaming kids and stroppy teenagers. Pete had always nodded and agreed with them but he knew that he had it cracked. Francesca kept the house and the children immaculately; clean house, willing wife and quiet kids. He certainly knew how to be in control and live life his way.
  At 12.30 he would break for lunch and telephone Fran in order to tell her what he would like for dinner that evening. He would be home at 8pm as always, the children were to be in bed and asleep and his meal waiting for him, perfectly cooked. He would also tell Francesca what he wanted her to be wearing, he couldn’t abide those women who refused to make an effort for their husbands, it was the least they could do.
  He’d done that yesterday and Francesca had answered the phone in the bright and cheery way he loved to hear. He had told her to cook a nice T bone steak (rare), boiled potatoes (just soft but not going to mash) petits pois peas, julienne carrots and asparagus tips. For pudding he fancied some of her homemade chocolate devil cake with hot chocolate sauce and clotted cream. He had asked her to wear that slinky red dress with the plunging neckline and the long split up the side. Her hair was to be up as he enjoyed undoing the clasp and watching it cascade around her shoulders later.  Her laughter had tinkled down the phone as she said she would have it all ready for him.
  The rest of the day had passed without incident. The ringing of the phones, the banter with his colleagues, the cocktail bar after work to relax and while away a couple of hours while Francesca put the children to bed and prepared everything for his arrival. Life was good.
  When he got home last night the curtains were drawn correctly but Pete was surprised to find the door locked. A flash of anger ran through him; Francesca was supposed to open it for him and welcome him in with a loving kiss. She was so disrespectful. After fumbling in his pocket for his keys he eventually managed to get inside, only to find silence. There should have been classical music playing softly in the background and Fran should have been helping him to remove his coat. He had checked his watch, 8pm on the dot, as he always was. She really should know better than this. He had called her name, softly at first so as not to wake those annoying kids and then louder and louder as his anger intensified. There was still no reply as he marched into the kitchen and beheld the scene before him. The kitchen table had been set for one person just as he liked it. The serviette was folded into a precision fan and the candles were ready to light. It was the worktop that caught most of his attention though. Spread out along it were all of the ingredients for tonight’s meal along with a note explaining how to cook each stage. At the bottom of the page Francesca had written ‘Please enjoy your meal.’
  This was preposterous, how dare she not cook his meal, let alone expect him to cook his own. Now incandescent with rage he tore through the house eventually arriving in the bedroom. The red dress was lying on the bed with a pair of scissors lying amongst the tatters that were all that was left of it. Another note lay on the pillow along with her mobile phone.
  Today, as he walked slowly along the avenue in the rain he pulled the missive out of his pocket and read it again.
  “You’ve used me as your punch bag and your whore for the last time. We are history to you now.’
  As Pete crumpled the paper into his fist and let it slowly drift to the floor, he wondered miserably just what he had done so wrong.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

An Interlude

Ok, so i missed the week 3 writing challenge. I was supposed to re write a fairy tale from a different point of view but life as usual got in the way. Therefore, while i am working on week 4 (which is almost done) i have decided to post a poem i wrote a little while ago. On noticing that i mostly wrote dark, angst ridden stuff i decided to try something slightly more upbeat and this was the result. I hope you like.

Hidden Beauty

There’s a fairy at the bottom of my garden.
Come close, I’ll take you to see.
But you must promise to whisper
‘Cos she frightens so easily.

There’s a fairy at the bottom of my garden.
Crouch down, one step at a time.
Mind that twig! The loud noise will scare her,
Follow me, that’s right, you’re fine.

There’s a fairy at the bottom of my garden.
Peek gently through these bushy leaves
And glimpse for the first time the beauty
Of a world in which no-one believes.

There’s a fairy at the bottom of my garden.
Can you see her dance and twirl?
Her shimmering skirt flowing round her
Whilst the ferny grass fronds unfurl.

There’s a fairy at the bottom of my garden.
Just listen, do you hear that?
She’s dancing in time to the music
Of the garden in which we are sat.

There’s a fairy at the bottom of your garden.
Take the time, be quiet and you’ll see,
The beauty of all that surrounds you.
That’s yours. A gift, from me.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Weekly writing challenge week 2 - A vignette.

  Don't go.

I open my eyes, willing you to open yours, but you are gone. You have abandoned me. I close them again, shaking my head in disbelief, you cannot be gone, you cannot be gone, you cannot be gone. This is all a bad dream, a nightmare of the most momentous proportions. I will open my eyes again; I will prove that I am wrong. But I am not. In the cold reality of this incongrously sunny morning I see your body, but you are gone. Where just a moment before there was the faintest rise and fall of your chest denoting your, oh so shallow breathing. Now there is nothing.

  I held your hand like i have so many times before. I told you i loved you-did i tell you enough? Did you hear me? Did you believe me? I watched and I listened as you struggled to take each painful breath. I begged you not to leave.
  "You cannot be gone'" my breaking heart cries. "How can I survive without you? Come back. Please oh please come back. My son. My child. My life."

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Writing challenge No 1. Brutality

On the 20th March 2011 my Mum lost her 5 year battle with cancer. She was aged just 65 and died 2 weeks before her 66th birthday.
  In her final weeks i found myself compelled to go to a place where i have always felt safe and secure. My thinking place. My bolthole for when i am feeling sad and need to be alone.
  This place is the Cornwall Colisseum at Carlyon Bay, St Austell. Originally built as a 'sports complex on the beach' by request of Prince Edward on one of his visits to The Carlyon Bay Hotel with Wallace Simpson, the Cornish Riviera was gradually turned into one of the biggest entertainment and leisure complexes in the South West. All the major bands fought to play in the concert arena, Tears for Fears, Blondie, Saxon, Ultravox, The Mission, Alice Cooper (that was such an amazing gig-but i digress).......the list just goes on and on. In the year 2000 the men in suits closed it down and decided they would turn it into a luxury resort with apartments right on the beach. The building was made derelict and work stopped when they found out they hadn't done their homework properly. Today, the building still stands as it was left 10 years ago.
  Initially, while i sat in the car park surveying what is left and remembering it as it was i was compelled to write an essay. With the writing challenge entitled 'Brutality' this has morphed into the following poem. It is still in quite a raw state, i have a suspicion that i am too close to the subject to view it objectively, therefore constructive criticism will be appreciated.

How the Mighty Fall

The waves crash on the deserted beach
The buildings broken windows continue their eyeless stare,
Laughing; mocking the audacity
Of the fledgeling waves bravado.
Rearing to their highest peak
So much better than those who crested before
"We are young,
We know the answers,
They were nowt who matter no more."

The seagulls perch on broken rafters
of dereliction made by mans own hand.
The walls which rang of music and laughter
Now stand, abandoned, haunted by ghosts of yesterday.
A decade has passed since the architects came
Laid waste the vast Colisseum,
"This is old,
It's had its day.
Knock it down, we'll build so much better.'

As my mother lies dying in her hospital bed,
I return to the bolthole of my youth.
As the waves crash and the seagulls chatter,
Memories, bereft of time, seek to flood my mind.
A once magnificent complex, the vision of a Prince of England,
Torn down, destroyed, left to the ravages of Mother Nature.
Caused by a new generation
full of education and ideals.
The ones who really should know better.

The Cornwall Coliseum as it stands, March 2011.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Here it is.........

So, i have started a blog. I can guarantee it will not be a daily musing from the deepest depths of darkest Cornwall but it a weekly glimpse into life as i view it.

It will also be a place to display the writing challenges from my upcoming course, A215, Creative Writing with the Open University.

So watch this space guys and gals. Hopefully you will enjoy, if not.......please be nice. :0)