I’ve been playing around with the life of a toy, this is the start of a short story about Silly Sam, Cat and Dragon. Would love to know what you think?
Silly Sam shook her head, once then twice. The overwhelming scent of lavender had kept her half asleep for about 3 months. She had been standing in a cloth bag surrounded by lavender. A smell she loved and was beginning to loathe.
She sat on top of her bookcase looking around the room. She approved of the green on the walls, it took her back to the wonderful trees in the ground of Kenilworth which she had admired for so long. As she sat on her perch, she spied Cat and Dragon opposite, peeking out of the bookshelves.
‘Psst, are you awake?’ she whispered, ‘what’s the view like from that side of the room?’
‘Nice,’ purred Cat. ‘I have a bird’s eye view of the floor, so I can spot any pesky spiders who dare to dash out.’
‘I like the view too,’ said Dragon, ‘but I am a little afraid of the height of this shelf. What if I drop and fall and bash my wings?’
‘Oh piffle,’ replied Cat. ‘You are such a ninny! Your wings are meant to be unfurled and to fly on the breeze. Think more Cat. We have nine lives you know, able to jump over any obstacle and at any height.’
Cat prepared herself to launch into the air. ‘Be careful Cat,’ warned Silly Sam, ‘It is quite high.’
I cut out and kept this list of questions written by Matt Haig in January 2016.
I came across this today and thought that they were a useful prompt for me as I develop my new writing habit.
How many times have I checked my phone today when I didn’t need to? Too many times. This phone is going out of my study tomorrow.
Have I learned something new today? Yes, my lovely boy showed me a wonderful video all about Casper David Friedrich. A 19th -century German Romantic landscape painter.
Have I helped someone? Yes, I took my sister to work today which saved her a trip on the train.
Have I eaten something that’s given me pleasure? Absolutely, I ate a piece of Love cake, which melted in my mouth, with memories of making it for my mum.
Am I getting the right amount of sleep and if not, is it affecting my mood? I woke early today sadly with a nightmare. Hoping to have better dreams tonight.
Have I spent longer facing a screen than outdoors with my loved ones? I have been outdoors quite a bit today, visiting a friend and walking the dog. I have spent time in front of a screen but with my family whilst watching a favourite family programme.
How much time have I spent procrastinating or doing pointless work, and how can I avoid doing it tomorrow? I did the piece of work I set out to do today. But it did take me a lot longer than necessary. Tomorrow, my forest app will be put into action. Maybe I can plant a tree or two?
As I walked, I had to step around the bodies. Standing still, faces bathed in a golden glow. Cameras out pointing to the sky. I glanced up, the clouds high, puffy and white against a deep blue sky. That blue sky that I love so much accompanied me on my journey.
I walked on a little further, crossing the busy junction continuing to dodge the statue bodies all looking up. Men, women, teenagers, workers and shoppers on one of the busiest junctions in London at Oxford Street yesterday the 6th October late afternoon.
As I crossed the road I stopped in the middle and turned and looked to my right.
I too was then transfixed by the wonder in the sky. My fellow humans had been sending me messages that I for a short time had ignored. ‘Sam, stop, pause and lookup.’
They were drawn to the energy from the evening sun as it lit like a beacon, low in the sky. We were all taking part in a collective moment of awe and wonder. The sunlight lit the busyness of the street, bouncing off the tops of buses and the bonnets of the cars and taxis. Each person knew that this was something special.
As I took in the view, felt the sun on my face, I too pulled out my camera to capture the glory of that moment. Then put away my phone and stood #savouring the moment.
Drinking it in, I could feel the sunshine warming my bones, topping up my energy. I had a moment when I wanted to talk to someone near me, but not wanting to break into the reverie they were experiencing, I stood still and shared the joy that they were feeling. There was a palpable sense of joy all around me.
As I crossed over and continued on my way, there was a lightness in my step and a smile on my face and the faces of others who had savoured the beauty that evening.
This moment fitted so beautifully into my week as on Tuesday I had led my late summer/early autumn masterclass which was all about savouring. The power of savouring that I experienced yesterday was pretty special.
So join me and use this hashtag and share moments of #savouring this autumn. I would love to share those moments with you.
I am interested in finding out how you are savouring life right now.
I joined a wonderful Kitchen table creative writing group last week. We had 3 prompts and had to write to a time limit of about 12 minutes.
This first piece was prompted by a recording of a leaf blower. I enjoyed writing this. I promise I am not a noisy neighbour!
“ Pete, this is it! You have used that leaf blower so many times this week. There cannot possibly be any leaves left in your garden to blow!
What is it with the blower, can’t you use a rake or a brush?
Yesterday, my book club friends came around and we had just fired up the BBQ and you started.
The day before we were all trying to enjoy the paddling pool and the waterslide and you started.
Sunday, when we were having a late night drinks party to watch the perseid meteor shower you started.
What exactly is going on?” screamed Sam over the hedge.
“Don’t stop there Sam, what about Saturday, when you had a mini sports day in your garden to celebrate the Olympics?
Or Friday when your teens had their very own rave till 3a.m.
Or maybe last Monday when your whole extended family came out to celebrate ‘freedom day’. There’s plenty more I could go on.” retorted Pete.
“What the heck”, Sam replied. “Are you trying to tell me that I make too much noise, that I’m the one who is at fault? That my social engagements are too much for you?” shouted Sam who had turned a lovely shade of puce.
“Yes, they are,” replied Pete.
And just too bloody noisy!”
That was it, Sam turned on her heel and stomped indoors. Her blood boiled just a little bit more as Pete switched on his leaf blower.
12 minutes, written on the prompt of anger and to the noise of a leaf blower.
I like the practice of writing non stop for a period of time. It allows my brain and body to get into sync and let the ideas flow.
This piece was written whilst I sat in the National Portrait Gallery in February 2017. I pulled this one out as I remember the day very well. It was cold out but warm inside. The art attendants were almost snoozing in the heat of the building. There a few people in the gallery, out of tourist season (when there was a tourist season) a couple trailed around giving a cursory glance at the paintings. I sat quietly, put pen to paper and let the thoughts flow onto the paper.
Here’s my wandering thoughts captured in time that day ending with a short poem.
Dark, grim, determined and resolute. Sure of what they know, what they do and what they have done.
Averted eyes, cast down make me think that they are scared to look the artist squarely in the eye as they are afraid that the artist will see into their deepest desires.
Was this the fashion of the time to avert our gaze? Is looking straight forward a challenge, a risk too far? By looking ahead you could be caught off guard, hit from behind by a glancing blow, a push or a shove.
This is how it feels now in this world. The feeling around makes you want to hunker down, hid away from the darkness which is rising in the west and is setting in the east. By looking down away from the challenges you do not see what changes you can make?
Who are these people before me/ The political thinkers of their time quickly forgotten except for the oil paintings which hang in this gallery for all to see.
Aahh, now I read the labels and see that they are not politicians but poets and philosophers.
Algernon Charles Swinbourne 1837 – 1909 Friend of rossetti and poet, a young man in the portrait with red curls and a piercing stare into the future, holding his head up and looking out. As a poet who wants to see the world and be ahead of the game.
John Stuart Mill – Philosopher 1817 – 1904 Looking down, an old man with thinning hair. His eyes almost black and downward looking. His mouth in a set determined line.
What did he think about when he died? What were the first thoughts that came to his head? When did he realise that the world was a bigger place than his family? did he just sit and think, learn and read or did he work in another way to earn his keep? What seasons did he prefer and why? Did he ever learn to swim. What would he make of the world today? Would he want to follow another path? Who knows, there are no right answers for time has taken both poet and philosopher to a different place. Poet and Philosopher together placed near but not near in thoughts and ideas, wealth and power, age, youth and fitness of thoughts, deeds and works.
My first published poem on the online platform Words for the Wild
I have very clear memories of writing this poem. I was sitting in the classroom we used for our writing group. I could hear the pens of the other writers in the room as they scribbled their own poems and prose around the theme of trees.
I took my mind to a set of oaks that had captured my heart the first time I set my eyes on them. Standing tall in the grounds of the school where I was the Headteacher. These trees were a huge part of the reason why I wanted to work in the school. At least 250 years old, they towered over the playgrounds and the field surrounding the school. I loved them, the children loved them, the staff loved them.
When a child would have a tricky time, they would often escape to the field. The oaks would always provide a natural distraction from that heightened emotion and help them self-regulate to a safer space. Trees are pretty amazing.