VE Day

Like many people in the UK, the residents of our little cul-de-sac consisting of two houses and four bungalows have bonded over these past few weeks since lockdown began. Without doubt, each week our camaraderie goes from strength to strength.

 

The VE celebrations on Friday, May 8th once again brought us out into the street to celebrate. We have been out clapping and cheering the NHS and all support workers every Thursday at 8 pm since this brilliant idea was put forward. I believe that this was the seed that began bringing people together. From this grew our Sunday afternoon quiz on the street, with my husband taking on the role of quiz master.

 

On VE day the quiz was bought forward to Friday which once again was a glorious British day with the sun shining and the sky azure blue. We dressed in our forties clothes, played 78-speed records on our record player outside and enjoyed afternoon tea. One of the residents provided us with Prosecco in memory of her father who died in the war. We toasted our oldest resident who turned eighty the previous day and to the health of the world.

 

These are difficult times we are living through and people should be kept safe and healthy so although we celebrated at distance with a whole road between us, we were not deterred from celebrating this day which marks the day towards the end of World War Two when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe.

 

 

Apocalypse now.

When fleeing from China at the end of January 2020, these were my observations. Since then, the Covid – 19 virus has followed us and the rest of the world.

Putting into words my feelings helps to make sence of the world.

The world will fight back.

 

 

Apocalypse now.

Anguished eyes snake-like peer above the charcoal and fibre

Wild adrenaline races the roads of blood

Alerting every sense in her tense body.

Hot breath above the mask, droplets of liquid from over expanded lungs

Rise towards the optical glass.

 

Clenching two small hands she races to the gate.

Fear, jaws clenched beneath their pseudo party mask.

Two tiny hearts beat wildly, they see the flying bird.

Escape in reach, twelve hours away, brings sorrow and pain.

 

Friends and colleagues left behind to watch and wait

Microscopic organisms infiltrate and spread.

Shedding, spreading virus unpredictable wild and free.

Surreal, cinematic apocalypse now.

Nature will respond, the world will fight back

Somehow!

Our planet is sick.

 

 

Our planet is sick and the mighty force of nature is fighting back. This has become painfully apparent in recent months. However, we were warned by eminent experts that Climate change will bring about extreme weather events. Unfortunately, this is happening sooner than anticipated.

The problems the world is facing as a result of the climate crisis is escalating, resulting in the chronic disease of our planet. Pollution, wildlife extinction and global warming are but the tip of the iceberg that is melting.

Symptoms of this global disease are clear to see. The European heatwave that swept Europe in 2019, droughts and floods in Tasmania. Arctic wildfires and cyclones in Mozambique.

In 2019 wildfires burned 2.5 million acres of Alaska. In some places like Australia and California wildfires is a year-round risk.

On the opposite spectrum is flooding. Close to home here in the UK, we have experienced severe flooding causing untold loss and damage to property.

All of these environmental issues need urgent attention and the coming together of nations to prevent the continuing destruction of our world.

The sickness of our planet does not affect environmental health alone. Now we are faced with a huge Public Health issue. Coronavirus also known as COVID-19 is now an imminent threat to our civilisation. At the beginning of the outbreak when I was in China very little was known about the virus and despite the death rate increasing daily, it appears that very little progress has been made.

 

Apocalypse now.

Anguished eyes snake-like peer above the charcoal and fibre

Wild adrenaline races the roads of blood

Alerting every sense in her tense body.

Hot breath above the mask, droplets of liquid from over expanded lungs

Rise towards the optical glass.

 

Clenching two small hands she races to the gate.

Fear, jaws clenched beneath their pseudo party mask.

Two tiny hearts beat wildly, they see the flying bird.

Escape in reach, twelve hours away, brings sorrow and pain.

 

Friends and colleagues left behind to watch and wait

Microscopic organisms infiltrate and spread.

Shedding, spreading virus unpredictable wild and free.

Surreal, cinematic apocalypse now.

Nature will respond, the world will fight back

Somehow!

 

 

 

Shanghai Adventure

      Shanghai Adventure

No sooner were our Christmas decorations away, when my husband and I began packing for our Chinese adventure. Three days in Shanghai city and 2 full weeks with my daughter and family who live 2 hours’ drive away close to the city of Ningbo.

We took the opportunity in Shanghai to visit the famous Nanjing Road, where to my delight I came across a huge bookshop which stocked a variety of books, including many English titles.

Unable to resist, I entered the shop and introduced myself to the manager, leaving my business card in the process. Fingers crossed. Maybe one day my books may be on the shelves of this much-esteemed shop.

We enjoyed the amazing sights, visited lots of famous landmarks, including the Oriental Pearl Tower and the magnificent Shanghai tower.  Our hotel on the Bund riverside area overlooked the Huangpu River. At night this was lit up to display its true splendour.

Sadly our adventure was cut short due to the rising number of cases of corona-virus. No sooner had we arrived at my daughter’s apartment when a lockdown procedure was put in place. Wearing a mask, my daughter, met us at the taxi, gave us a mask each and whisked us off to be isolated in her apartment, until she had arranged return flights for us all the following day.

Thank goodness we pre-empted the drastically changing situation. There was talk of the roads to the airport being closed and flights cancelled. Flying out to Heathrow from Pudong airport we continued to wear our masks for a further twelve hours. Not an easy task for adults never mind a three-year-old and seven-year-old.

At the time of writing this article, we are in self-imposed quarantine for fourteen days. Today is our sixth day. Thankfully we are all well and looking forward to day fourteen when we can emerge from our confinement.

ELIZABETH IS MISSING

Elizabeth is missing.

After watching the TV Drama adapted by Andrea Gibb, I was compelled to read the book. Usually, for me, it is the opposite way around. Having watched the drama twice, one would think that I had no need to read this fantastic novel written so touchingly by Emma Healy. It is hard to believe this was her debut novel. I am in awe of her skills.
I felt that she truly got into the characters of both Maud the protagonist and her daughter Helen. In some ways, this novel covers a social problem, much like the ones I have written but in addition, the writer has cleverly created a suspense thriller as well.

When Maud’s best friend Elizabeth appears to be missing, it has a severe psychological effect on Maud, who is suffering from dementia. Her muddled memory overlaps the present supposed disappearance of her friend Elizabeth with the disappearance of her much-loved sister Sukey who vanished under mysterious circumstances shortly after world war two. Written in the first-person narrative the reader gets into the muddled mind of Maud and me for one, felt her frustration.

 

The TV drama was equally as brilliant, hence me watching it twice. Directed by Aisling Walsh and adapted by Andrea Gibb this TV production was a real eye opener.

Glenda Jackson was magnificent in the role of the protagonist Maud portraying the effects of worsening dementia with great skill.

The story of Elizabeth is missing will remain with me for a long time.

 

Memories are made of this.

Happy New year to my followers and welcome to all newcomers even if you happen to have come across my website by chance.

Here we are in a new decade. The past behind us and a whole lot of new memories to make in our future. Memories that you may not realise you are making.

As Winnie-the-Pooh said.’ You don’t know you are making memories, you just know you are having fun.’

Have you ever considered your most important childhood memories?  I guess that I am talking here of good childhood memories, as I don’t wish to take any of you back to a dark place. That is not my intention.

Allow me to give you my own examples: Family holidays, playing with friends, building dens and having picnics. Visual and other sensory memories such as new and familiar smells play an important role in memory.

How I loved school. It was 1958 when I attended primary school and yet I still remember those wonderful familiar smells. The polished desks, the smell of new textbooks, pencils and wax crayons.

A first glimpse of the sea as we drove to the coast for our annual one week holiday on the East coast of England. The smell of salt in the air, the sound of gulls and the absolute joy of seeing our caravan home. I clearly remember the smell of the gas lights inside the caravan and the cooking burners on the stove.

As I am writing this I can honestly tell you that another memory has popped into my conscience. The taste and smell of golden wonder crisps. It was such a treat to have a bag of crisps with my cheese spread sandwiches. I had a little plastic water bottle on a strap which I carried with pride. How times have changed. Now I would be carrying the plastic bottle with an element of shame, linked to the environmental issues.

In this new decade let us embrace the role of memory architect in the landscapes of our lives. Every year there are days that pass us by without leaving any long-lasting memories. Keeping a memory journal can help to address those ordinary days that pass without leaving any meaningful sensory information.

Conversely, there are some days that we will remember forever.

 

 

 

Little Women

Little women written by Louisa May Alcott is such a timeless piece of literature that it is hard to believe that the author was born in 1832.

I have always loved and admired the main character, Jo March for her love of writing and her fierce desire for independence.

This story is still relevant today, encouraging women to value virtue over wealth and to be true to oneself.

The author writes with such depth and honesty and truly captures the coming of age of the four March sisters. Each have their own strengths and weakness which is skilfully wove into this incredible story.

Therefore the moment the 2019 film hit the screen, I was in the Que at my local cinema, full of anticipation.

I was not disappointed.  It was the most amazing production so far. Written and directed by Greta Gerwig this coming-of-age period drama covers aspects of ambition, true love and gender constraints that are as applicable today as ever.

With a star-filled cast of well-known actors and a number of nominations already in place. This is a literary film not to be missed.

 

Recently I find myself reflecting on my accomplishments as a writer and have come to the conclusion that although I am but an amoeba in the pool of writers and poets, perhaps my contribution to the arts is not wasted.

If my words have helped or inspired others, then my work has not been in vain.  In addition to poetry and two works of contemporary fiction, I have been busy this past twenty months, producing a monthly article for a column in our local news journal.

Titled ‘Mansfield Bookshelf ‘I review and recommend books for local readers and occasionally talk about local literary events.

I must confess that I rather enjoy going to Inspire Library events and to the many local book and poetry festivals. One day in the not too distant future I plan to attend some of the larger and more famous literary festivals. Who knows I may meet some of my followers there. So if you happen to see me at any events, big or small, please come and say hello.

 

 

 

Inspiration

Inspiration.

 I totally love the word. It conjures up many wonderful images in my mind. We read and hear so many amazing stories on a global scale about inspirational people who have achieved great things often against all odds.

Did you know the word inspiration meaning ‘to breathe into’ predates its literal meaning of ‘an unconscious burst of creativity in an artistic endeavour?

Take for example Stephen Hawking who even after being almost paralysed continued with his extraordinary work in the field of physics. He devoted his life to a single theory that describes our existence in the universe. I would guess that he inspired many people to have courage and conviction even when life may be unfavourable.

There are many examples of twenty-first-century women who have become icons of inspiration. Malala Yousafzai who at the age of 11, started writing blogs for BBC on the conditions of girl’s education in Pakistan, for which she constantly received life threats and was later shot by a Taliban gunman.

Being inspirational is also about leading by example and encouraging others to feel there is something worthwhile to do and to become.

This can be achieved by being true to yourself, to be enthusiastic and determined.

To never forget about caring for others and helping them to achieve their best.

Each time I begin to write a short story, novel or poem, I am seeking inspiration to bring the words alive, to add depth and meaning.

As I continue with this quest I try to keep in mind those people who have provided me with their life stories, their joy their struggles and their determination.