There’s a starman…

I, like millions of my, and next generations, was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David Bowie. I heard the news in an email from my big sister, fitting really, as it was she who loved him first, back in the 70’s. A love I inherited.

I was travelling on that Monday, and not connected to social media most of the day, but in my own way wanted to write something. So I did, whilst on a ferry. On the same morning I’d seen my writing prompt for this week, which seemed oddly connected.

When I did get to see the outpouring on twitter etc., it was testament to the creative genius of the man how everyone seemed to have chosen a different track to remember him by. Music spanning genres and decades, electric and acoustic, but all crafted from the beautiful mind of David Bowie.

And to think, just two days before, my wife and I were marvelling as we listened to the Blackstar album, remarking on its utter brilliance.

Blackstar_album_cover

…Waiting in the sky (A short fiction)

Our protagonist sits alone in his dressing room, staring into himself. With one finger he delicately lowers an eyelid and holds it still. With the other hand he applies the black pencil. He is the best man for the job. He is the best woman for the job. Whereas other men would be clueless and afraid of such a task, he is confident, skilled, and comfortable. And he is fearless.

Continue reading “There’s a starman…”

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I am…

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Lauren can put her leg behind her head. She can only do this because she does it many times a week – many times a month – many times a year. And she has done this for many years. She does not truly know why she does this; it has never become an easy thing to do. She followed her guru’s instructions, though he spoke no English. She followed his directions, though at times he seems disinterested in her. She follows him still, though he is no longer of flesh. She still hears him in her head.

Some days her body is simple – her mind is complex. Some days her body is complex – her mind is simple. This is her journey. Every day she swims, sometimes with the tide, sometimes against the tide. This is her life. Her practice has become her gauge.

Lauren does not like the dark. She cannot see in the dark as those big-eyed fish in the deep oceans do. Sometimes Lauren is in the dark. She does not like the dark. Lauren can put her leg behind her head. It helps her escape the dark. Her Guru says life is simple – said; life is simple. Lauren had, has her doubts. Guru laughs, freely, like a child. Life was never simple, life is never simple, but she heads towards the light, and on some days she too laughs, though not as freely as her Guru.

Lauren can hold her breath, her breath in, and her breath out. Holding her breath in, or her breath out, brings stillness into her mind, calming the waves. It brings stillness to every single cell of her body. Life can be simple, and sometimes, even beautiful.

Lauren has been learning Greek. Her favourite verb is εἰμαι. Εἰμαι translates as ‘I am.’ Her favourite Sanskrit mantra is ‘So ham.’ It can be said to mean ‘I am that.’ She breathes out with the sound of ‘soooo’ in her mind, and she breathes in with the sound ‘hummm,’ also in her mind. These are also the natural sounds of the breath. When reversed, the mantra becomes ‘Ham sa,’ it is said to mean, ‘that I am.’ This is a helpful mantra for Lauren.

Even when she is in the darkest ocean, where only the fish with big eyes can see, she knows that light is sure to follow. She just has to be patient, put her leg behind her head, and breathe.

I originally posted this on the ‘Visual Verse’ website. I have edited it slightly from that version.

Giving Thanks

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This is the practice. Sitting quietly with my breath, alone, with my thoughts. Having a special moment to give thanks – to my guides, gurus, parents, and teachers. To thank those who have helped me reach this day. Today (December 4 2015) as I practiced, I thought of some of those people, who, maybe unknowingly, have made such an impression, and helped shape my path in some small way. And I was thinking particularly of those who I encountered earlier in my life, musicians and songwriters, those creative, fearless people, brave enough to cast their souls into this, at times, unforgiving world. So, I decided to write a piece on this theme, and to give me some kind of structure, I’ve decided to work alphabetically. Otherwise, I may veer off into no mans land. I may anyway, so I apologise in advance. And to help limit me, I will include only people whom I have physically encountered and worked with, however tenuous that link may have been. I may have known them for six months, a year, or fifteen minutes, or just witnessed them from a distance, but with all, an impression of some sort was left behind. This will be a memoir of sorts, with a few anecdotes, and hopefully musical interludes inserted along the way. I’m sure that a few yogis and teachers of some form will pop into the list as well. Thank you if you’re still with me. And if it becomes a little too much for you, you can always close the window and move on. You have a choice, you know.

History: Lets start in 1982. I am 16 years of age. I have left school, (well, I kind of left 2 years before, but that’s another story) and have absolutely no idea what I want to do with the life ahead of me. My brother-in-law has told me of a job opportunity in a recording studio. Currently his own brother does the job, but he wants to leave to train as a chef. I like music. (punk & reggae) I don’t like cleaning. But that, (cleaning) and tea making are the two main requirements of the post, in fact, that’s basically it. Clean, and make tea – big stainless steel urns of tea, enough to satiate a full 90-piece orchestra on a 15-minute break. I go for an interview. They offer me the job. I take it. The hours are early morning until early afternoon. I have to take the train before six in the morning and had to have cleaned control rooms, and studios, and toilets, and corridors – all long before the first session of the day. I am part of a team of two, me and a grey-haired Irish lady, Monica, who is a very kind lady, but woe betide anyone stepping on her freshly waxed floor in dirty shoes! This is Olympic Studios, once graced by such musical heavyweights as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie, just a few amongst numerous others to have recorded there. But now it’s a little weary, trading on memories, and catering mainly for recording film and TV scores, or jingles for adverts, (it has a couple of 35mm film projectors.)

This is where it began.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks”

Whatever Happened To The Laughing Gnome?

Here’s a very short piece of prompted Flash Fiction that first appeared here: Zero Flash

It never won, but if you are of a certain age and musical persuasion it may appeal.

By the way, the visual prompt was of a stone dragon gorging on a gnome, and here’s the musical reference: The Laughing Gnome

Whatever Happened To The Laughing Gnome?

We had a whale of a time living in Bromley. It was Mrs Jones that took me in, but her boy David that took a shine to me. He thought me an oddity cool enough to duet with him on one of his songs – he didn’t even know we gnomes could sing!

And laugh! I nearly cracked my side when we recorded our song for real. ‘We’re going to be stars!’ he said.

David let me invite my family over to stay. Fred, my brother was a bit suspicious of him, ‘something in the eyes,’ he said. But I ignored him. He’d given me my big break after all, and it was such a thrill when our song came on the radio.

But the tune never hit.

In fact it bombed.

In fact, it was universally mocked!

It seemed we were not going to be famous after all.

Fred said he’d met this dragon in Soho who said I was the best thing about the record, and a huge star in the making. He said that if I formed my own group he’d launch our careers. I didn’t much like to let David down, although he’d embarked on a direction I sensed would not include me. Then the day all these longhaired spiders from Mars arrived at the house, I knew we were through, so packed my bags and left.

Fred phoned the dragon, and arranged a meeting. I know I should have been a bit suspicious he wanted to meet in some alley behind Berwick Street, even more so of the powdery tasting champagne he greeted us with. But hey, hindsight and all that.

So alas, within seconds we’re as stiff as boards, our bodies can’t move, but our eyes continue to work, and poor old Fred is first on the menu.

Yoga! For men!

‘Yoga! For men! No, no way,’ he says.

Incredulous doesn’t cover it. I think his head’s gonna fall off the way he’s shaking it. Steve’s from up north, he did tell me exactly where, but it meant nothing to me, though he looked at me like it should. He’s ex-army, one tour, no action, ‘God it were like oven out there,’ he says. He’s sticking with the buzz cut and soup strainer, in solid silver. He coaches the under 12’s when he’s not fixing stuff, engines, boilers – ‘I’m good with me hands me,’ he says. His lad’s gonna be a pro for Man U, his wife loves Peter Kay, thinks he’s brilliant. He’s on his second bottle and I’ve only met him 5 minutes. I told him my name and that I teach yoga, and it’s been one-way traffic since. Maybe if I do an arm balance that’d shut him up. Just maybe.

Bones

Kings House was on land where once stood a church. Out back, each family had a small plot of earth.

Johnny liked to dig holes.

With a seaside bucket and spade he’d make mud-castles.

Sometimes he’d dig up bones, sniff at them suspiciously; show them to father.

‘That looks like cat to me,’ father would say.

Johnny would shiver.

And if the bones were bigger, ‘dog, definitely dog.’

Johnny would quiver.

The routine:

1 – check neighbours weren’t nosing out windows.

2 – toss the bone behind the posh lady’s shed.

3 – wash hands – with soap.

4 – show them to mother.

To father, the bones were nothing but Sunday roasted chickens he’d fed the soil with.

‘Stop doing that, you’ll scare the life out of the lad,’ mother would shout.

‘Bah, I’m just messing,’ father would reply.

Until the day Johnny unearthed the skull, that is.

Just

I entered this story for a competition at Tethered By Letters last year. And although it wasn’t a winner, it was deemed to have potential, and the editors there offered (without charge) to help me polish it to a standard so that it could (maybe) be published. I am so grateful to have benefitted from these guys. They suggested areas I could tighten up and improve the story, and of course a few grammatical things (after all I did fail my English ‘O’ Level many moons ago.)

Their programme is such a gift to new and emerging writers, and for sure they’ve  helped me improve. They recently made their kickstarter goal so this programme can thankfully continue, and they also publish ‘Friction,’ a wonderful literary journal – well, the first one certainly is.

So, here’s the result, three drafts from the first one sent. Three times better.

http://tetheredbyletters.com/just/

The journey of O

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GOD is GOOD without the O she borrowed to make LOVE

And travelled on to find itself in JOY

and then in HOPE

HATE without the E is a funny HAT to wear

and RAGE a RAG

to dry away

a tear.

ANGER is  an ANGEL that in a moment lost its way

turning Right instead of Left but not to say

she can’t turn back or change her path or start again

from here

With one tiny change FEAR is banished FAR away

And with that little E

WRATH becomes a WREATH …

something to consider…

And DEATH is not so far from EARTH, in which all flowers grow

coming HoME

coming HoME

One Year On

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How has it been over a year since my last post? I don’t really know. Summer is easy to account for, as this gentle little island is suddenly alive with seekers of sun, sea, peace, and quiet. Faces both old and new come and join in with yoga classes, or take a massage between swims.

Whenever possible I have been writing short stories. I even had two published last year in web publications. Rather pleased, I must say. Many more of course are/were returned to sender, but I (try to) find it equally rewarding when I receive an honest rejection critique from the publication. When writing one gets so inside the minutia of the piece that it’s difficult to read or listen to it objectively, as when you read other’s work for the first time. I think the advice to put it away for a few months before a final edit is great advice that I should act on, but not so practical in the short story world of comps and deadlines, of which there are so many opportunities and openings, it’s all too exciting to wait. There’s lots of great new writing available on-line to read as well! (Birds Thumb, longstoryshort, Red Line, Storgy to name but a few)

So, to strive onwards…and up.

I’m going to share some of my pieces here on the blog, starting today.

If you have time, have a gander. Let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Lee

The photo is one of Bibi’s, walking in early Spring.

 

Nightporter (a short story)

Multiple black and white screens discreetly line the bureau in the hotel foyer that has been my home from home for these past five years. I work a twelve-hour shift, six nights a week. There’s a mandatory two weeks off each summer, a holiday that I neither want or need, as I end up doing diddly-squat – except gain a couple of pounds and watch too much daytime TV. So I’m first volunteer to work Christmas, and all the other designated times of joy and frivolity, if only to spare me from a similar fate.

It’s 2 a.m., and glancing down at the register, the little drunk guy that’s stumbling into the elevator suggests the possibility that I may have a quiet night ahead of me. I’ll watch him safely to his room. He’s mumbling away to himself, or he could be singing. He jabs a thumb into the button for the fourth floor, turns around, and spies himself in the reflective aluminium that covers the back wall. He looks surprised, and somewhat shocked by what looks back at him, he’s frantically trying to make sense of his bedraggled appearance. He licks his fingers a few times till moist, and runs them through his thinning hair, gluing it to the side, probably just like he fixed it earlier. His necktie has become loose over the evening to the point of just about hanging in there, and both his shirt and suit display the crumpled evidence of a good night out. They get a perfunctory brushing down from his stubby hands, but I think he’s given up on the tie, maybe even on himself. The elevator stops and he makes good his escape. He’s still chuntering away, and given the way his legs seem uncooperative of his want, I’m amazed that he navigates his way safely into his room without a stumble. I’m left pondering as to whether he’ll hit the minibar for a nightcap, or if he’ll even bother getting the suit off before he hits the sack, and if he’ll be smiling, or crying himself to sleep. But knowing he’s safely inside, and out of view, I turn away from the screens. A double check on the register confirms that by my reckoning, all of the guests are now present and correct. But I never expect it to be so easy, and it rarely is.

I usually get a little shut-eye between the quieter hours of 3 and 6, out back, in the storage room. There’s an ugly old armchair in there, it’s shabby, has a faded green cloth that’s been impregnated over the years with flicked ash and spilt whisky. It’s probably a relic from the 70’s, but a couple of cushions and a wool blanket make it nice enough, even for all of my six-feet-two. I have to let my legs hang over the side for it to work, but it’s a welcome relief from the awkward office chair out front. I’m kinda tall, like I said, I suppose that’s the first thing you’d notice about me, and then if you look close enough, it would be my eyes, they’re blue, azure, but a translucent blue, so you can see right through them like the way oceans used to be. They’re not so strange where I come from, but I can tell people’s fascination in them by the way they sneak a furtive look at me when not wanting to. None of us can help it, even though we know for sure that they know, so when I meet their gaze, some people fire off some pleasantry or other, though most people just crack a sheepish smile, and feeling a rushing surge of guilt, avert their gaze quickly away from mine.

For work I wear a cocoa coloured uniform over my cocoa coloured skin. I blend in as seamlessly with the wood-stain of the lobby floorboards as I do with the antique style chairs of the foyer, as I do with the ornate Georgian walnut cabinet that sits right behind me. It’s a huge cabinet, beautifully crafted, in whose pigeonholes live the 66 room-keys, ringed on the finest of calf-leather fobs and embossed with the hotel’s proud Black Cat logo – 66 keys, that will forever come, and go, and come back again. There’s all kind of mundanity put in there for guests to collect, and then there’s the secret things – the twice folded hand scrawled notes, the medicines, both the legal and il- varieties, the stapled jiffy bags bulging with who-knows-what. I’m pretty sure that one time I handed over something heavy and shaped like a handgun to a tattooed Japanese guy who had a finger missing. I never ask, not me, I figure it safer just to turn a blind eye.

Continue reading “One Year On”

Path Number 4

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If this is progress

I prefer to sit still, if you don’t mind.

 

From here, only do I see

all is take take take,

all is grasping, all is greed,

and the everything is me, me, me.

 

A truly happy man sits around a table, with simple food, wine and laughter,

sharing,

giving,

loving.

 

The other has no time for this

or that

only for some other.

At what price?

For the trinkets that show off a new found wealth, the wanton destruction of beautiful Earth,

Lives of man and beast an acceptable cost to those that only want to gloat

over what they will have and over what they have got.

And to show themselves great as they toke, and quaff.

 

Walk in nature.

Breathe.

Please.

 

If this is progress

I prefer to sit still.

If you don’t mind.