dark clouds

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Today, I overheard two statements that made me think.

Pause.

And worry, more than a little.

Of course, that’s what I do.  I worry.

The first was something along the lines “he admitted he was morally guilty…” but “denied he had committed any crime”.

The second, in an interview discussing the looming British election “the idea of voting with your heart and hoping for some change…”

Two overheard snatches of discussion, though seemingly unrelated, seemed suddenly, and terribly, connected.

The power, responsibility and role of the individual in the great sweep of history and world events. When most people are simply worried about making ends meet and what they may, or may not, watch on TV tonight.

The feeling of helplessness that so many experience when considering where to place their cross on the ballot paper.

Will it make any difference? Does anyone care? Why bother?

Well, of course, the answer is yes, it does matter.

It matters an enormous amount.

As indeed does the trial of the former guard at Auschwitz who admitted to “moral guilt” but not to committing a “crime”.

It made me think where moral guilt starts.

And ends.

And, where committing a crime starts and ends. And what is moral guilt?

If we don’t vote, and the government that takes power goes on to commit atrocities, where do our responsibilities begin and end?

And, in collecting the money, yet asking for a transfer to other duties, how guilty is that guard.  Really.

And what would any of us do?

When we stand in judgement, do we stand in the shoes of all those ordinary people who allowed it to happen, looked the other way, felt powerless, or intimidated, or abused, or afraid. I wonder?

And crucially, at what point would we realise that our actions, or inactions, form part of a continuum that enables atrocities to take place.

Something worth thinking about before placing that cross on a slip of paper?

I think so.

(For the last two weeks I have been attempting to learn how to write better. I’ve been taking part in Writing 101, an online course hosted by Michelle W from the WordPress Blogging U.

Today’s prompt was “take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction.” Each prompt comes with a twist. Today’s twist was to ‘include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.”

(for wordpress writing 101 – day twelve)

size matters (in sentences)

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Size matters.

Well, maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t.

Either way, we seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time wondering about whether it does, or it doesn’t, and why it matters, especially when we are twelve.

What I do remember is that, size or not. Ratios mattered. And I mean gear ratios.

My first “real” bicycle only had three.

Gears.

It was a beautiful blue bicycle, and it had three gears.

But, they were Sturmey Archer, and so not Derailleur.

And, at the age of 12, all I wanted was Derailleur.

Not Sturmey Archer.

So, when, after much pleading and yearning and moaning and whining, my trusty blue Raleigh was upgraded by a slick and shiny Puch.

It was Austrian, not from Birmingham.

Imagine, my excitement, yellow and green frame, white taped curving handlebars, not blue not boring, a racing machine.

My heart beating fast, I ran my fingers over those white taped bars.

My heart stopped.

What was this.

The familiar feel of a three geared machine.

So, to compensate for my lack of size, or in this case, ratios, I learned how to use my flying machine and how to swerve and stop in a flurry of dust and flying stones.

All to show the one with the blue eyes and blonde hair that, really, it’s not the size or the ratios that matter.

It’s what you can do with it.

That matters.

(For the last two weeks I have been attempting to learn how to write better. I’ve been taking part in Writing 101, an online course hosted by Michelle W from the WordPress Blogging U.

Today’s prompt was “where did you live when you were 12 years old?”. Each prompt comes with a twist. Today’s twist was ‘pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I didn’t want to write about where I lived when I was 12, and one day I may write about why, although back then, I think I lived in the saddle.  Of that bicycle.)

(for wordpress writing 101 – day eleven)

happy (?)

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The thing was.

To focus on the plate.

That, was the thing.

The smell, the shapes, the promise of that hot food.

The escape it represented.

Two sausages.

A pile of fresh cooked chips.

The tang of (too much) salt and vinegar.

The splash of (toxic) red tomato sauce.

Slicing into a salt, sauce and vinegar soaked sausage.

Then, it didn’t matter.

The cold wind, the salty sea breeze.

The acrid smell of the Pirelli factory.

The smell of fear.

That didn’t matter.

The scary thoughts and bad dreams.

That didn’t matter.

What mattered was not wanting the plate to be empty.

To place the knife and fork on the plate.

And to walk again back outside.

With them.

That’s what mattered.

(for wordpress writing 101 – day ten)

point of view

redknit

Her fingers were gnarled, sore and stiff. Shoulders hunched against the cold wind that embraced her. A wind that cared for nothing, no one.

Glasses balanced on her nose, the red of the small sweater filled her field of view.

She continued to knit.

As she always did.

She wondered who might one day buy this tiny knitted thing. It seemed that no one bought anything anymore. They walked on by, they looked, or looked away, they shot their photos, and, embarrassed, walked away.

She was nothing to them. These people that walked on by.

She remembered that day, so long ago, when the wind was not a wind, but a warming breeze. That day, she had sat on the bench. In that park.

And yes, she had been working away on the tiny red sweater even then.

Intent on her work she had not seen them approach. But she knew.

He, the tall man with those cold blue eyes, felt her slim fingers tighten in his palm, the nails drawing blood in thin lines. Those delicate fingers he knew so well, that even in the heat of that late summer afternoon, felt cold, brittle.

And, he knew why.

He heard, felt, her catch her breath. He looked at her. Light hair blowing in that gentle breeze, and he saw her turn and look at the bench.

He knew who she would see, even before his eyes joined hers.

It was her. Again.

That feeling came back to him, some long buried sense of duty, fear, emptiness. He could not quite place it. It was just there, it always was.

She felt him recoil slightly as with her fingers she tightened her grip on his hand, that big hand, the hand she both wanted and feared. She felt the wind in her hair as she sensed him turn to look at her. Her eyes were fixed on the woman on the bench.

That same sense of longing filled her. If only he could feel what she felt.

For now, she felt the wind in her hair.

He could not look again at the woman on the bench. Not again.

She paused, her fingers gripping his, she turned to the woman on the bench. She bent lower, with her free hand she brushed her hair away from her eyes.

She knew what she wanted to say.

As she remembered this, the look in the woman’s eyes as she brushed away the hair from her face, she paused in her knitting. Shivered against the cold. And against it all.

The words she wanted to speak would not come, despite the warm summer wind, she shivered, as if a cold wind had swept across the park. She looked at the woman, their eyes met. They both knew then, that nothing would ever be the same. But, that it would always be. Nothing more.

He saw this, turned away, gazed across the park to the river. he knew that it was over.

She sighed, and continued to knit.

As she always did.

(for wordpress writing 101 – day nine)

death to adverbs

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It was hot, under a dry and searing sun which burned with unexpected intensity.

She walked with firm purpose across the bridge.

Her feet clad in flat soled shoes, head bowed, brow furrowed, looking down at the floor, perhaps avoiding the bright afternoon sun.

Or, perhaps, avoiding something else.

In her right hand, she held her smartphone, with a strong grip. She held it close to her body. So close, it suggested something.

Her expression implied worry, fear, a mind distracted and expectant.

The wires trailed from her ears. The message she heard from the voices in those small speakers creating a feeling of dissonance.

The world she knew. Not the world she listened to with a sense of longing mixed with fear.

In her left hand, she held those important things, the things she had spent all morning searching for.

The papers that might make all the difference.

Her eyes seemed dark and tired.

As if, she held a secret.

That they must never know.

The papers would tell her story.

Perhaps.

(for wordpress writing 101 – day eight)

give and take

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an unusually hot day, sirens scored the air, people jostled, pushed

“hey, look i told you, leave me be”

looking away, he grasped the bag tighter

“we can’t lose it this time”

looking down, intent, focused, aching, needing to void the pain

“yeah, right, tell me, or bloody don’t, what do you care”

“more than you imagine, this may be the last chance we have”

again, hunched over, looking down

“it’s no better, god, i think it’s got worse”

looking away, walking away

“told you it would end like this, you never bloody cared and now look at you, in a public place…”

not able to focus, too intent on the now, the need, the ache

“look, i can’t cope, i can’t wait, give me a break”

the handles of the plastic bag cut deep into his palm

“i can’t do this any more”

shrugging his shoulders, the metal screen, inviting

“that’s a bloody relief”

(for wordpress writing 101 – day seven)

poetry 101 rehab: no

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no

nothing

nothing is

nothing is worth

nothing is worth this pain

nothing is worth this pain this

nothing is worth this pain this time

nothing is worth this pain this

nothing is worth this pain

nothing is worth

nothing is

nothing

no

(running man, mariemontkaai, molenbeek)

(for mara eastern’s poetry 101 rehab – no)

*shot with olympus om10, zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens and ilford delta 3200 black and white film, feel his pain in the grain*