Category Archives: Writing

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing 101 Two, A Cafe With a View

Take me to Pushkar, drop me down in the sunset café. You already did? Ahh yes, here I am, the sky is still bright and very pink. Inside people, locals and travellers begin to gather, for the nightly spectacle that is sunset over the lake. Neat rows of Formica tables are placed so that as many diners as possible get a good view. The best seats are right on the patio, and I’ve got one, under the curved and ornately painted arches, slightly raised from the pavement. I sink into a rattan bucket seat with a cushion made from recycled saris, red, orange and pink to match the sky. Babu comes to take my order, a mint lassi while I’m waiting for a masala omelette, ‘but that is breakfast madam’ he says giving me that look he gives to crazy English women, a sort of half grin as if he feels sorry for me. I add an ice cold cobra beer, Pushkar is so dry and so is my throat.

The smell of spice is suddenly challenged when two young women arrive, laden with backpacks big enough for their tiny frames to climb into, and with grubby salwar kameez. I don’t like myself for saying it, but I’m glad there wasn’t space for them. In contrast the musicians rock up, clothes gleaming as white as the Persil ads, and making a racket like the dustbin men at 7am. Now I realise why these seats were empty. Two drummers, a sitar player and another with an instrument that looks like a sack, a hosepipe and some bits of rope, sit crossed legged beside me.

The drumming begins, starting slowly and with little tune. It’s only when I look around and see people swaying that I realise I’m doing the same thing. For too long the drums continue, my lassi and omelette are both consumed and I’m on my second bottle of Cobra. They’re twice the size of the bottles at home and a few nights ago Muggan, our driver was horrified and amazed that I could contain one, never mind two.

The drumming is hypnotic and I’ve lost some time, pulling myself together, I put the music to the back of my mind and focus instead on the sky. Taking a photo wasn’t working, heads kept bobbing up and down between me and the view. Stay in the now G, stay in the now and imprint it on your soul. It is every bit as magical as promised. Every warm, glowing colour, that nature can create, is up there in the heavens. There might be sound but all I can hear is the noise of the universe, not even a sound, but a vibration, a distant echo that began light years ago. I’m standing now, we all are. With fairy lights around our heads, we watch as the sun slowly falls on the horizon behind the temple.

I am changed by India.

 

Writing 101 One, Stream of Consciousness

I’m doing the WordPress Writing 101 as from today and the first project is stream of consciousness. I won’t be posting the 101 stuff every day, more likely I’ll write every day and post bits from time to time.

This is what sprang out earlier.

Twenty minutes, that’s how long they were standing there. Whispering. What about? Or maybe who about, could it be me? Is it my turn? How long have I had this paranoia? Perhaps since playground days. They were always at it, at the back of class when Miss wasn’t looking, hiding behind their hands, staring at me, sneaky, laughing eyes. When they saw me look back they would look away quickly and giggle in their throats, keeping their mouths shut tight.

Strange, I can’t remember who they were. I remember the nice girls, Linda White, Lesley Morton and Jane Shelton, even one lad, Andrew Philips. He was always competing with me, he was top boy in every test, and I was top girl. I wonder why they separated us into girl/boy, would that happen now? Anyway we were well matched, he would score one point higher one week, the next it would be me. Most often we’d get the exact same mark, with our matching IQ’s. I bet he isn’t poor now, probably heading up some massive organisation (should have married him) unlike me, I wasted my grammar school years. My friends and I were too damn rebellious for our own good. Not that we had much to rebel against, if only that energy had been put to good use, but we were girls, still are of course. Nothing much was expected of us, despite Grammar School. We could be secretaries or nurses, a few dedicated ones could be teachers if they had the right background. I didn’t. We could work in a shop, become machinists in the bra factory or be hairdressers. I worked in a shop on Saturdays when I was still at school and walked out of the first one, they wanted me to wrap meat in cling film! Thinking about it, no-one suggested the bra factory until much later, I could sew well so that might have worked. Churning out fifty ‘Super Bras’ a day . . . perhaps not.

Hairdressing, that was never going to happen. I liked make up and beauty products like every other teenage girl, but no hairdresser in my part of England, would have taken on an apprentice with hair like mine. Looking the part would have been compulsory, back then who would want their hair styled by someone with head of frizz? Nope, hardly a black or mixed race woman to be seen, never mind one who styled hair.

I didn’t work out the answer from the beginning of this twenty minute stream of consciousness write, but hey, that’s the point. Maybe tomorrows Writing 101 will bring me back here.

 

One of Those little dilemmas

This morning as I walked up the road towards work, I noticed a lady ahead of me who I know by sight, as someone who heads the same way each day. She walks slower than I, so I quickly caught up with her. She was wearing a mid calf length, floral summer dress, of rather limp fabric. It had a split up the centre back.

You’ve guessed haven’t you? The split was not the discreet vent to knee that allows for movement. Nope, it was a full on unravelled seam that went right up to her btm. Still behind her I thought quickly, was this how it was meant to be? no way, did she know and if so was she unconcerned, surely not? She is middle aged and how shall I put it? a substantial lady.

What to do, what to do? I’ve never spoken to her before, but if the tables were turned I’d hope someone would point it out to me, there was no-one else around.  I reached her side.

‘Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I think the seam of your dress has come apart at the back.’

‘Oh, how far up? ‘she asked, reaching around to feel for herself.

‘Sorry’, I said ‘If it was me I’d rather know!’

‘Yes, okay uh thanks uh It will just have to do for today’ she replied.

I wanted the pavement to swallow me up. I KNOW she lives somewhere around the corner from me, no more than five minutes walk, but she had no intention of turning back to deal with it. I scurried ahead. Five minutes later I looked back and she was indeed continuing on her way to work, wherever that is.

Now, the dress she was wearing was so flimsy, that the slightest waft of breeze would have lifted it, and there is no way on God’s earth that she could lean her body more than an inch, without showing everyone what she had for breakfast. I’m still cringing twelve hours later and I think I will every time I see her again.

Was I wrong to tell her? surely not, at least it gave her the option of popping back home to sort it. I’m mystified, what do you think, would you have said anything or left her to it?

Farewell Christine my Dear Friend

Each day this year I have been tearing off a page of my calendar and writing a few words to go in a gratitude jar. On June 9th I wrote that I was grateful for spending two wonderful days with Christine and Stuart. Today, through my tears, I wrote that I was grateful to have walked beside this beautiful lady.
I’ve known Christine for three years and in that time she has been the loveliest, most supportive blogging sister I could wish for. At the end of last year she emailed me to say that she was planning to be in Paris this summer and would I be available if she and Stuart made the trip across the channel. Would I? Too right I would, it was a dream come true and I wrote back happily saying so.
In the week leading up to their arrival I lost quite a bit of sleep as, like a child at Christmas, I was so excited. Where could I take them? Would Christine actually like me once we met? Even little things like would they be comfortable enough squeezed into my tiny car. And then the day arrived. We met at a pub car park just outside Exeter and she was amused by its name, the George and Dragon. I was amused by her accent, not as Aussie as I’d expected, instead her voice was like an English lady with a touch of Australian, apparently from her grandfather.
I whisked them off for lunch at a riverside café where Stuart drew the garden where we ate, laughed and shared stories. They both loved the food and the stroll along the quayside, it was wonderful to have such appreciative visitors! Next a promised trip to Dartmoor, with Christine taking photos through the car window. We stopped at Chagford and explored the ancient church with its rood screen before driving high up the narrow winding lanes to Scorhill.
I chose Scorhill because I knew she would love both the stone circle and the hole stone in the North Teign river with its links to the feminine spirit. She was so at home in the big sky landscape where sheep and lambs nibbled at the sparse moorland grass, and oh how the sun shone for us as we walked. I dropped them back to their car, tired and happy – they had after all climbed Glastonbury Tor before reaching me that morning, with a plan to collect them bright and early on Sunday.
Stuart had half planned to do his own thing, so I was touched that he had enjoyed our day so much that he decided not to, despite it being partly day of garden visits! Our first stop was especially for him, to satisfy his passion for sustainable agriculture, we went to Riverford Farm where he was able to chat to someone and learn how Devon does it. We stopped to buy some local chilli chocolate which she was still eating a week later! Next, a quick stop at Dartington hall to see one of my favourite gardens,

At Dartington Hall garden
At Dartington Hall garden

 

and then a nice lunch in Totnes, with local food and cider.
A drive through the South Hams led us to Coleton Fishacre and the rain, never mind there was the house to explore and then tea and cake. By the time we’d devoured it the showers had passed so we strolled through the garden where they both found plants and trees native to Australia as well as many surprises that were new to them.

Christine and Stuart at Coleton Fishacre
Christine and Stuart at Coleton Fishacre

Not wanting the day to end I drove the scenic way home along the coast. Stuart was hilarious when we reached Torquay, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually at Torquay, he said before launching into a Fawlty Towers sketch. These special places of mine are even more precious now, a wonderful layer of memories have been added. When I left them at their B&B that evening I cried. ‘Now you must come to Australia’ they said, ‘you’re welcome any time’.
This is from an email I received soon after,
‘We had such an amazing time with you, it was really special, and just meeting was so wonderful … I feel we are heart sisters dear one!’

I do indeed feel like I’ve lost a heart sister, I am overwhelmed with sadness. Who would have imagined that less than a month later I would be writing this? My thoughts and prayers are with Stuart and their children and grandchildren at this time, I know I’m not alone.
We have lost a very special lady, an intuitive healer, a wise and loving soul. Christine sweet planet walker, you will be missed by so many, travel well.