Creative writing on Monday mornings
Creative Writing has produced lots of goodies this term, and we thought we’d share some of them here. We get the writing going with ideas and exercises, but we never know where they’re going to take us. The course continues in January, and newcomers are welcome, beginners and more experienced writers. We’re hoping to publish a pamphlet at the end of term.
Maxine Linnell (WEA tutor)
To register for the new course starting on Monday12 January 2015, 10 am to 12 noon, call 0116 255 6614 or call into 101 Hinckley Road, Leicester LE3 0TD or Contact US.
Haiku poems contain three lines of a set amount of syllables. The first line has five syllables, the second seven syllables and the third again contains five syllables.
People on a ship
Dancing, eating, playing games
E – ven – tu – ally.
People on a train
Each looking out of windows
Till their journey’s end.
Sitting on this bus
I don’t know where I’m going
Neither does that child.
Life was too busy.
So I left it behind me.
Upside down I went.
On her swing she played
Ever higher, and higher,
Feet above her head.
It sticks in the ground,
Revolving around its bed
A spider lives there.
Valerie E Dayman
I wouldn’t like to live in a world without coffee shops, or if you like, teashops or cafes. I don’t mind what type of place it is. It could be one of a chain like McCafe, or set in a supermarket or Garden Centre.
But the very best cafes are the little independent ones in the villages, round corners or down alleys in towns, like the one we eventually found at the end of a long alley in Market Harborough. It had three tables downstairs and three upstairs and a strange system of service. Drinks went upstairs from downstairs and food came downstairs from upstairs. It must make sense somehow to someone.
Then there are those in places you least expect them like the one half way up Snowdon. As I struggle up the Llanberis pass, it sits there with its welcome mug of tea and cake. There! I’ve mentioned the ‘c’ word. Cafes are awash with those tempting morsels. Well, not morsels always, great chunks of things, chocolate, coffee and walnut, Victoria, cup cakes with lashings of butter icing, the try not to eat more than one a month, if not less, type of thing. I try not to look in the cabinet too hard but if I do I feel saintly when I resist. I can always promise myself something next time without having committed myself to actually having any. Better to people watch.
I find people with laptops or tablets talking earnestly. They use cafes as work places, cheaper than offices so money saving for someone! Then three women, very well dressed huddled over notebooks, chatting, note taking. They are not at work. They look too old. They must be retired like me, plenty of time to sit and enjoy life. But I would like to know what they are doing!
One time a woman cried over her coffee, why? It didn’t taste that bad! I saw that couple glaring at each other, not speaking, just drinking their tea and getting up to leave at the same time without any communication! Why was the waitress tearful after thanking that man for bringing a small child to see her? Most people are happy, chatting, laughing. And today in a town cafe, girls, scantily clad and wearing sashes with ‘Miss’ somewhere or other on them, Miss Swansea, Miss Glasgow, Miss Belfast, Miss Portsmouth and many more…
I could ask for answers but maybe they wouldn’t want to say and anyway it wouldn’t be a mystery any more. Then a story couldn’t be woven around them. And why does ‘why are you happy?’ sound like an accusation, when ‘why are you sad?’ sounds like sympathy and concern even an invitation to share their story.
But do I go to a coffee shop to know the stories? No! Just to watch and fantasise!!
I come from
I come from abuse and violence but still I manage to shine
I come from not having money and still have little to call mine
I come from a mixed-up family of both the good and bad
A mother still very dear to me but a god-forsaken dad
I come from books and reading; from what I learnt and how
I come from countless influences that make me as I am now
I come from all the past, but it’s my future that I seek
For where I go to is also vital in keeping me unique.
Pigeons and trust
He was jealous of the pigeons. Was that ridiculous or sad? The window of his room offered a view of rooftops and their ventilation shafts, which the birds seemed to like. Perhaps they enjoyed the warmth from them, it was probably quite cold outside by now, not that he knew of course, he’d not been allowed outside for a month now. The pigeons were lucky, they could leave; they weren’t trapped in a small room with unbreakable windows, a broken sink and, worst of all, a commode. The door wasn’t actually locked but there was nowhere to go if he did get out, no chance of slipping out unnoticed – the panoptic arrangement of the building made sure of that, even if the doors hadn’t been locked.
Trust: apparently he had to trust them if this was going to work. There was one big problem with that idea; it begged the question ‘Do I have to trust all of them?’ If so they were all wasting their time; he couldn’t, there were too many people and too many mistakes. And it hurt that he was most certainly not trusted, he hadn’t even been allowed out of his room without supervision. What the hell did they think he’d do – run amok with one of the teaspoons from the kitchen? The knives and forks were kept somewhere secure and just about everything else fastened down or soft and harmless, which wasn’t such a bad idea, given the circumstances. Early on, still naively trusting, there’d been a mistake with medication and he’d been expected to swallow someone else’s pills. Tablet taking was a crucial ritual and no-one escaped it easily; evasion needed practice and, at that time, he’d had none. His continued refusal alarmed the person giving out the pills and she left, clutching them and mumbling something about fetching help. So two people came to insist; since he continued to refuse they finally left and, shaking with rage, so did he. In the corridor he yanked a picture off the wall, hurled it as far as he could and marched off towards the door, forgetting that it would, of course, be locked. On reaching it he rested his head against the cool glass and then turned round, and what he saw he kept as a treasured memory ever after. Three very bulky blokes were coming to ‘control’ him, each one of them twice as heavy as he was. Possibly he’d made his point? Got lots of attention anyway, the ‘meek bloke in room 10’ apparently wasn’t always so meek. Yes, given the right conditions, ever he could run amok.
On reflection, it was neither ridiculous nor sad to be envious of the pigeons – his jealousy was a perfectly sane reaction to the insane situation in which he found himself.
Towards the end
What a strange word ‘eternity’ is! The dictionary definition is so unremarkable, lacking in any impact with just two simple words – unending time.
I have no concept of this state, if indeed it is a state, apart from equating it with a boring lecture at university or an unusually long, one-sided telephone conversation with Jacki, Ann’s friend from childhood.
Alongside eternity is its close companion ‘oblivion’ which is also very difficult for me to imagine except on the odd occasion when I’ve drunk too much or dropped off into a deep sleep aided by medication.
These words have never figured largely in my life. I much prefer to push them to the back of my mind or block them out entirely.
But the inevitable will happen sometime whether I think about it or not, and the Buddhist philosophy is to consider all eventualities before they happen. I saw the film MASH many years ago, but the words from the musical score always stuck in my mind:
“The game of life is hard to play
I’m going to lose it anyway.”
Unfortunately I don’t have any faith, no religious beliefs in life after death, no expectation of a heaven where we’ll all meet again. Can faith come to anyone late in life? My scientific training mitigates against a gradual conversion; it would take a spectacular event defying logic, which is very unlikely.
So the only course of action to take is to make sure that every moment of life remaining is lived to its full potential, and that there are as few regrets as possible. It is imperative not to waste any time, and to select what is important and what is not. To follow a path that is rewarding, pleasurable, fulfilling but not too hedonistic seems to be the only solution. Spend as much time as you can with family and friends, and grit your teeth when the time comes.
Tristan waited until his father had left for the office before leaving his bedroom and heading down for breakfast. The previous evening had been a nightmare with his father laying down the law about applying for places in a law firm now he had completed his degree. Tristan was proud of himself as he had achieved much more success at university than he thought he would, it had not been his choice to study law. Had his father congratulated him? No! It was just push, push, push. Next level! Achieve more! Earn more. This was not what Tristan wanted but even at twenty-one years old he had not worked out how to make a stand and tell his father he didn’t want to follow in his footsteps and go into law. His passion was architecture and he knew he would never be happy doing anything else. He also wanted to have a year out and travel and feel his feet, gain his independence. Even worse he wanted to travel with Sharon, a girl he had met at university who came from a very working-class background.
Sharon, who had come to Chester to visit him, was staying with another university friend, Julie, and he was on his way to collect them to take them to Starbucks to meet his band mates. His parents knew nothing about Sharon or that he played in a band with ‘the local yobs’ as they called them. Sharon and Julie connected easily with the lads, they came from similar backgrounds. Tristan on the other hand had a very comfortable middle-class upbringing. Sitting with his hands behind his head, his chair balanced on only two legs, he was contemplating the easy banter going on around the table when a smartly dressed, attractive woman eased behind him, catching the back of his seat with the strap of her bag and sending him sprawling onto the floor.
“Stupid boy!” she spat at him. Embarrassed and apologetic, he looked to his friends for support. Finding none he got to his feet and hurried out. No-one followed. He wandered around the High Street, peering aimlessly into the shop windows until he gradually regained his composure, and found himself smiling at the gay profusion of colour and styles of wonderful ladies’ hats. He had never seen anything like it. Lost for a moment in this fantastical world, he was jolted back to reality by a voice behind him.
“I am so very sorry for my unforgivable rudeness!” He turned blushing, not knowing how to respond. As a young man who had lived a rather sheltered life and fresh from the security of university, he was still very much struggling with his lack of self-confidence. She flashed an apologetic smile.
“Please forgive me. I have so much on my plate right now, but I had no right taking it out on you.” He smiled shyly. She was certainly attractive, middle thirties he guessed, with a slight air of flamboyance.
“I’ll survive.” He found his voice as he attempted to squeeze past her in the cramped doorway.
“No, you must come inside, I owe you a coffee at the very least!”
“You work here?” he asked, surprised.
“Yes, this is my place, my passion.” She smiled again and Tristan found himself being steered in through the shop door, past the array of hats and up a tiny staircase at the rear of the shop. Five minutes later, coffee in hand, Tristan was being regaled with Genevieve’s heart-wrenching tales of her life to date.
“I got married to Jimmy at eighteen,” she sighed. “I thought I was so sophisticated. He was very good looking and every girl in the district had a crush on him and he wanted me. I could not believe it. He told me he earned more than enough to keep us both, so I gave up my job and settled down to be the best wife I could be. That, though was only the beginning. He was super controlling and belittled me every chance he got. My self-worth dropped lower and lower. One day when I tried to challenge him on something, he hit me across my face and gave me a black eye.”
“Whatever did you do then?” He was mortified for her.
“I ran. I didn’t stop to gather my coat or bag, I just fled and I never looked back. My parents were horrified. They vowed I would never have to see him again, and told me I must report the incident to the police and start divorce proceedings. My dad collected my belongings, and I’m not sure he didn’t give him a taste of his own medicine. Anyway, I found a course in millinery, absolutely loved it and know this is my niche in life.”
“And these wonderful hats are your creation. They are amazing.” He was genuinely awestruck by her talent.
“Yes, but the bank wouldn’t give me a loan so I managed to secure one from a business friend of my father’s. The only problem is, now I have accepted it he seems to feel it entitles him to sleep with me whenever he wishes. I have held him at bay so far, but this week I have a meeting with him where I have to make sure he understands this is a business deal only. I’m not at all sure how he will take that.”
Tristan grew more sympathetic. “My goodness, I can see how you could feel overwhelmed.”
“Well, it has had the added effect of making me feel rather old, and I’m becoming very aware of my biological clock ticking away. What I desire more than anything is a child of my own, and before you say it I would not want James Nolan as anything other than a business partner.” Suddenly Genevieve realized she was pouring her heart out to a young man she had only just met. She stopped, a crimson blush staining her face and neck and apologized once more.
“You’re very easy to talk to, sorry.” Lost for words Tristan smiled back weakly, but a tenuous friendship was born. On his second visit, Genevieve asked him about his life.
“My passion is architecture, but my father’s a lawyer. He just assumes I’ll follow in his footsteps.”
“What does your mother think?”
“I’m not sure my mother even knows how to think for herself anymore, she has been downtrodden for so long. I also thought I would take a year out and go travelling with Sharon, one of the girls who was with me at Starbucks, but I haven’t heard from her since that day. I’d still like to go, but on my own. I get a huge sense of excitement when I think about it. Then I could come home and take a course in architecture, but I have no idea at all how to broach this with my father.” They sat in companionable silence sipping their coffees.
Genevieve broke the silence. “I had to grow up really quickly after my divorce, so I’m pretty good at negotiating with people. How about we talk through how you can speak to your father and exactly what to do if he is still unmoving in his stance. You are after all twenty-one and well able to make decisions about your future for yourself and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.” They met a couple of times a week for the next three months and with Genevieve’s help Tristan stood firm in his decision to make his own mind up on his plans for his life. He even thought he saw a faint hint of a sparkle in his mother’s eyes as she witnessed their conversation.
This was not the only thing Genevieve taught this young man. She was more than happy to teach him the pleasures of being a man in a woman’s company. His final visit to the shop was in April when he called to see her, back-pack ready, and wished her a fond farewell. As she waved him goodbye, she tenderly laid her other hand on her slightly swelling belly and thought of the joy that lay ahead.
I come from
I come from the wilderness of Love and the Life force
I come from the land of the never-ending support where the oceans are full of endless Hydration
I come from JOY, PEACE, SURROUNDING GLORY and resounding beauty given freely
I come from the land of my Creator with whom I am one and all that I am
I come from a place far beyond time, us and foolishness where all possibilities exit
I come from never ending JOY, Playful Sunshine and plentiful comforts!!!
I come from highs, lows, depths and valleys of familiarity where I am one with it all!!!
I come from that which is given to me freely in the absence of all manmade interferences (away from this – the here and now )
I come from Space, Elements and Atoms – all of which reside in unison within me!!!!
I come from that which is obvious to me – clearly given
I come from the place beyond the Universal Cosmos
I come from the Source from whence I was formed/born.
I come from the LIGHT and the SOUND of LOVE
I come from the LIBERATION of MY SOUL
I come from TOTAL GROWTH WITHIN.
I come from the TRUTH KNOWLEDGE that knows no bounds and only expansion
I come from ever lasting LIGHT and MY TRUE SELF EMANATING LOVE
I come from all that is, all that can be and all that has been!!!
I come from the Creator manifested in every cell of my being
I come from the magic that is that, the magic that is me and the magic that is everyone
I come from THIS AND MUCH MORE … THANKU SOURCE.