Thursday, 1 March 2012

You're there but you're not

I used to wait for the divorce. I used to ache for it; for the day when you finally left. I reasoned then, that without you here we could finally get to know one another. The logic seemed irrational to everyone else. But they didn't see what I did; they didn't feel what I felt.

Most days that was nothing.

When my friend's parents got divorced, they went on outings to the park and the circus and all the other kinds of places that kids go to have fun; all the other clich├ęs. They had hour long phone calls every night and enquiries of their days at school and a genuine interest in who they were as people, a concern for who they were going to be. And even though it wasn't perfect, I wanted all of that too. 

Perfection's a myth anyway.

No one understood my longing. Everyone thought we had it all. From the outside we looked the picture of happiness, whatever that is. Just like the couple along the road; the way they held hands walking up the hill and kissed each other goodbye at the front porch. They looked so happy and content and their love was one to aim for. No one knew that he would pummel fists into her flesh where none could see. No one knew that she would drink a bottle of vodka before he returned home. We never knew what went on behind their closed doors until he flung her through them, along with a suitcase of clothes; until their problems lay bleeding in the street, surrounded by shards of glass and splintered wood and clothes fluttering in the breeze with the distant wail of sirens.

Behind our doors, you were there; sitting in your chair. You always sit in the chair; the one with the groove of your backside and two elbow-sized dents in each armrest. There's an extra cut of carpet under foot because you've worn away the underneath with your shoes. Everyone else leaves theirs at the door. But not you. You stomp and tread your rebellion into every soft surface until it's harden from the repeated knocks.

It used to annoy me, watching you sit there, within my reach, engulfed by an unwavering silence of expectation. I'm still waiting for the things you'll never say and the stuff you'll never do; the moments we'll never have. At least I know where to find you. That's what they say. That's the bright side; the silver lining of this ominous lingering cloud. But there's always an unpleasantness waiting for a storm to break; a tight coil of tension unbearable and uncomfortable the longer we wait for release.

Some days I've never wished for rain so much.

But for the most part, I'm used to it now; that thick tense drought that hangs like a weight around my neck, slowing my responses and my movements and my ability to truly care. As stifling as it seems I don't think I'd know how to breathe without it. 

Not that you would know that. You should, because you're there; in your chair. You always have been. The divorce never came and you never left and we never did get to know one another.

And it still amazes me after all these years that proximity and closeness are two very different things. I always assumed that you can't have one without the other. But we are the exception, you and me. We may coexist in the same space, in the same house, we may breathe the same air, but our time-lines never meet, our paths never cross. Sometimes I might approach that line, I might waver along it but the wall is built too strong, too high. Just like some rocks aren't supposed to be moved, some walls aren't built to be broken.

So I understand. I get it; you're there. You always have been. But I still don't know how I feel about that.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

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Dearest reader,

Sorry, we are currently experiencing a fault. Do not adjust your screen resolution, normal blogging service will resume once inspiration and the time to write has been programmed correctly.

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Big Fat Metaphorical Leaf

Reader, it is 2012. I can't help the twinge of disappointment; I thought we'd all be driving flying cars by now, living with androids or wearing self-lacing trainers. (Obviously I learned a lot about the future from Steven Spielberg, but that is what happens when you're born in the 1980s.)

Regardless of my shattered illusions, it's still a brand new year. There is something about this new phase on the cosmic chart that encourages us to wipe away the webs and shake out the dust. It's a yearly ritual full of hope for improvement, achievement and potential. It's a chance to start afresh, turn over a new leaf; make resolutions.

But I've never been one for resolutions. Never. I still remember the first time I learned about them during an assembly at primary school. Lines of children sitting crossed legged on the cold hard floor, we stared intently, puzzled, as our Headteacher asked us what we going to do differently that year; what did we want to change about ourselves? I was five. I didn't know myself. I only knew my love for playing  Barbie and watching Button Moon. 

Twenty-two years later, not much has changed. Barbie rests in a dust covered box in the loft and Button Moon lost its allure and magic long ago. And though I know more about myself now, making a New Year's resolution to change something makes me feel uncomfortable. It's not that I don't have things that could warrant a change; it's the fact that it only seems normal to do it at the start of the year. 

It still surprises me that an arbitrary date on the calendar can hold so much influence over the way we approach self-improvement. The strength and power to evolve is a source we carry at all times and we can tap into its supply whenever we choose. If you want to stop smoking, do it now. If you want to lose weight, don't start tomorrow. 

I think where people fail is that they see the New Year as this pinnacle thing that has the power to tackle all their bad habits and behaviours at once. But human nature is such that motivation fades and willpower falters and at some point down the line, come February or March, resolutions can (and will) be broken. After such focus and determination and hope, the failure only serves to heighten our human frailties and make us feel worse. Do we really need that feeling

But if we wipe away the webs and shake out the dust each day, it makes doing the task the following day a little easier to accomplish until, eventually, it becomes a habit. A good one. Filling our days and months, our whole lives, with little goals and commitments and changes, makes them easier to achieve and far more sustainable. Think of it as a new New Year's resolution, if you will: Don't make any. An amazingly novel idea, don't you think reader?

What say you? 

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

I had high hopes for this final post of 2011. Full of insightful wit and charm; something that pushed my readers into the realm of wonder and thoughts and dreams.

But I'm going away for New Year and, consequently, I am surrounded by un-ironed clothes and mismatched shoes, tired thoughts and a mind wired in lists of things to do and to be and at this point, Hamlet always resurfaces in my memory and I am not sure if it is entirely possible to string a plausible sentence in this state.

So I shall leave you with this; this pithy thing that has played through my mind, dashing and delving between the lists and the inappropriate thoughts of Shakespearean soliloquies:

As a little bud with shallow roots
You filled me with wonder
Found in every shard of sand
Handful of dirt,
Speck of dust.
Clouds were friends
Stars were dreams
The sky was my future...

In this dawning of a shiny new year, untarnished and unwrapped, let's look at the world with childlike eyes again. Let's see its potential.

Happy New Year, dearest Readers. Here's to a good one...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

There is still no cure for the common birthday

On Wednesday I began my 27th year crying. Midnight arrived as I sat at my computer. My fingers hovered above the keyboard, my eyes narrowed on a date that used to give me such butterflies as a child. I remember the sleepless night before; the fluttering of hope and excitement for a brand new age. Eight was always better than seven-and-a-half, ten was better than nine-and-three-quarters, and every birthday was welcomed with such unmitigated joy.

As a child you know nothing of responsibilities and the difficulties that adults face daily. Life is a playground and there is so much time left to explore it that you never questioned its passing; the increasing age. You welcomed it with as much excitement as the scores of presents and cards and candles on cake.

But it is different now. The older you get the more a birthday sheds its skin and shine until it is just another day in a week, month and year. Presents are nice and cards are appreciated but the age? The increasing number is no longer something I greet so readily. There are a number of reasons for this: I am not where I want to be in my life, or doing what I always dreamed. I don't currently have someone special to share my day. Imagination and reality are conflicting. I feel so damn stuck. And while it seems like everyone around me is doing the job of their dreams, getting married and having babies, going off on world adventures, I am here. And it is not where I want to be and I am not who I want to be. Now another year has flown by too swiftly and I did not think to reach out, to grab it and go along for the ride. 

I feel engulfed by quicksand and though I've been in the pit for a while now, just the fact that it was my birthday seemed all the more resonant.

At 12.01am the thought of this was like a sharp pinch to soft flesh, a heavy punch to my gut; it knocked the breath from my chest. The thoughts - so many rambling thoughts - bubbled up and tumbled down my cheeks. The realisation of all these things that I had considered fleetingly over the past year; vague moments and wonderings, sporadic feelings of failure, suddenly aligned like the sun and my zodiac. Before me they sat; accumulated like a line of bitter pills I had to swallow. It was not pleasant

By 12.10am the sniffling had decreased and I actually managed to settle down for some sleep. In the morning, when the light was white and my head was clear, I opened cards and presents and felt okay. Later there was cocktails and laughter, dinner and a trip to the theatre to see Driving Miss Daisy. And though we sat up in the heavens with the realisation that my long distance vision had declined (damn you, age!), I thought about how James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, was treading the boards below me with an expertise that amazed and 'well, this isn't so bad'. Not at all.

At the end of my birthday I dropped tired into bed and thought more about the play I had just seen; about Daisy and Hoke and how old they were when they realised they were best friends. Once again the thought struck me; I might not be where or who I want to be but I am only 27. I've still got plenty of time to figure that out; to explore the playground. And even if I am still waiting until my nineties for all these things I have stacked with such importance, surely the journey there will be worthwhile. 

I sometimes wonder why I worry at all. But isn't reflection the very nature of birthdays? Reader, what say you? 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Get cape. Wear cape. Fly?

I was six when my mum found me rifling through the airing cupboard in my room. We kept towels and bed linen on the slatted racks, despite the musty smell that lingered inside. Balanced precariously on my desk chair I stretched upwards, tiny hands lost within soft folds of clean laundry. The floor beneath me was littered with duvet covers, Christmas themed table clothes and doilies. I'd finally found what I was searching for - just one last stretch - when the floorboards groaned behind. 

'Louise, what do you think you're doing?'

Uh oh. Trouble. There was always a little edge to the way she said my name; an extra emphasis on the L. I spun around with a push and twist of glee. That old chair provided me with hours of room-spinning fun.

'Looking for a pillowcase.' I said, as if it was the kind of thing I did every day. It wasn't.

'Are you going to make your bed?'

Me make beds? I assumed some kind of bed fairy did that while I was at school. I explained the complexity of my problem; a pillowcase was needed to complete my very special outfit. With a glance at the carefully ironed table cloths now in disarray on the floor, mum reached above my head and pulled from one of the stacks without any dislodge. Mums really could do everything. Or maybe not.

'No, no, no!' I said, head shaking. 'I don't want a white one.'

'But brides wear white on their wedding day. Don't you want a white veil?'

I may have married off Barbie with Ken a few times (and Ken with Sindy once the divorced had been finalised) but I never wanted to be a bride. Boys were stupid. Did she not know me at all? She stared at me with an increasingly crinkled brow. 

'I need a red one for my cape. You can't fly without a cape!'

At this moment she noticed the rest of my very special outfit on my bed. A bright blue Minnie Mouse t.shirt that I had turned inside out and a pair of red cycling shorts. Beside it a hand-drawn S that I had coloured in, badly, with yellow felt-tip and cut out with kid-friendly scissors that always tore paper rather than cut it. Briefly, mum considered me and flipped through a pile of sheets beyond my grasp. She shook out one of my sister's red bedsheets. I imagined it fluttering in the wind behind me as I soared through the sky and bounced off the clouds. I snatched it from her hands.

With a roll of her eyes, she left me; my behaviour nothing new. I always had a vivid imagination. When I wasn't shouting at my dolls in my makeshift 'classroom', I was entertaining the Queen or pretending to fly on Falkor the luckdragon from The NeverEnding Story. 

My very special outfit now complete, I got dressed with a sense of accomplishment. I secured the yellow S to my chest with a couple of strips of Sellotape and sank my feet into red Wellington boots outgrown the previous winter. As my sister tied the sheet around my neck in a double knot, I was so overwhelmed by the excitement that I forgot the pinch of my toes and the skin growing raw at the backs of my heels. 

It was cold when I stepped outside. At the top of the garden steps I felt the score of goosebumps, the tug of my cape as it toyed with the wind. Hands on hips, I focused on the large tree by the end fence. That was where my mission would begin.

I dragged a rusty paint-splattered step ladder down to the grass leaving a two line trail of flattened green blades behind me. My hands scrapped the roughened tree bark as I wedged the ladder against the trunk. The trail of ants usually would have stopped me from climbing but I had my cape now; I had to finish this. I had one muddy boot on the step when my mum called from the top of the garden. She was watering potted plants. 

'Louise, what do you think you're doing?'

'Climbing the tree.' 

I pushed off from the grass and the ladder wobbled. A few trailing ants didn't survive my sudden grasp for the solid trunk and I wiped their corpses down my top. They looked like dirt. 

'Why are you climbing the tree?'

'Because birds fly from trees.' 

'You're not a bird, Louise. You can't fly.'

'I know I'm not a bird.' I continued to climb.

'Well, you're not Supergirl either.'

'I know that! I'm Superman.'

At the top of the ladder I stretched upwards to a low hanging branch but something tugged and I toppled and tumbled to the ground. Laughter tinkled from every direction and when I opened eyes my sister appeared, all five versions of her head shaking. 

'You're no Superman,' she said. 'He wouldn't have got his cape caught in the bottom of the ladder!'

Well. There was always next time.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Remember, Remember

Every year on November 5th the British skies are lit with colours and sparks, and gardens warmed by the amber glows of firelight. The ground is usually muddy wet and littered with autumnal leaves and there is always a fine mist grazing the milk of a half moon. The air is filled with the cold scent of winter approaching and the lingering dust of burning wood and smoke. It's the kind of night which makes you avoid dark alleys and abandoned streets to seek the comfort and familiarity of tradition.

We learned of the tradition at school. Pencils in hand we'd chant: 'Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.' There were brief mentions of a man called Guy Fawkes but any embellishments of his story were cut short by the excitement the night would bring. Colourful fireworks, explosions and sparklers were all a kid could wish for. 

When I was little we could rarely afford the fireworks but we always had a permanent supply of wood that my Dad built into a large nest at the bottom of the garden. Our friends would arrive with their own Guy Fawkes; a set of old clothes stuffed with newspaper and a plastic mask attached as the head. We'd sit him on top of the bonfire and slowly watch him crackle and flame. 

The night was meant to be a celebration of victory over a plot against our country's King but, in spite of this, I often remember feeling deflated. The slow melting of the plastic mask on the Guy, the drip and droop of his smiley face in the heat made me sad and wistful for something. The way my sparkler never lasted long enough to write my full name and the singe and spit as I threw its heated stick into a bucket of cold water. The way the fireworks died just as soon as the colour hit the black night sky. Watching the dying embers of the fire; the charred remains and soft drifts of grey smoke as if something was gone forever but never knowing what that something was. 

Our supply of wood died sometime during my early teenage years and with it, the childish excitement. The older I got the less significant this tradition became until it evolved into another November night, with only the loud bangs in the distance to serve as a reminder.

But due to my sister's recent desire to make new traditions, on Saturday I found myself dragged along to the Bonfire Night celebrations at Leeds Castle in Kent. Dressed like my younger self all those years before; coat, scarf and gloves, I trailed my Wellington boots through a field of mud, lugging a camping chair on one shoulder and a desire to be indoors on the other.

We set up our chairs beside the lake before buying bags of roasted chestnuts and cups of hot chocolate. There were thousands of people around us; some stood eating candy floss and hot dogs, others sat on picnic blankets on the grass. As the night darkened and the crowds built further, I blew steam from my cup, legs stretched ahead, waiting. I thought it would be like all the other times; pointless. 

But there was no bonfire this time. No newspaper-stuffed Guy Fawkes or melting mask, no dying sparklers. The music started and the fireworks exploded in the sky and around me kids waved flashing lightsabers that made their faces glow red and blue. For just 40 minutes everyone put their lives on pause to watch the spark and fade in the sky above, illuminating the castle behind and the water below.

And I didn't feel sad or deflated or wistful for something I didn't know. I felt the spark of something new, something long forgotten and suddenly I realised I had come full circle. I wondered why it took me twenty-six years to finally embrace what I should have done as a child; the excitement of tradition. The idea that you grasp fistfuls of these brief celebratory moments (as minor as sitting in a camping chair in the freezing cold with your family) and enjoy it while you can because, honestly, the experience is so fleeting.

And there is one thing that I'll remember now that I never did as a child; soon we can do it all over again. There is always next year. Perhaps because I'm older now, it doesn't feel like a lifetime away. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Little Things

Two years ago my Nan was a blanket of shrivelled skin; wiry tufts of white hair spilled over the edges of starched sheets. Her eyes were the bluest I'd ever seen; as if she'd stolen all the pigment from ocean and sky. I don't remember how we came to be sitting there in hospital. All I remember was the rough grip of her hand, the feel of her bones as we connected. The watery glaze of her eyes joined with mine as she told me I was beautiful. It was the first and last time.

Sometimes it's the little things...

At 21, I was consumed by a plague of tiredness and endless tears, where the days ran into months and my mood never changed. I don't remember what led me to the kitchen at 2am, how the bottle of bleach came to be in my hands, or why I was so focused on the warning sticker above the barcode. All I remember was the guilty inner debate and the explicit realisation that I truly didn't want my life to end. The dance of hope in my chest was like the first glimpse of sun after a long cold winter. I shall never forget one thought; I wanted the chance for an afterwards.

It's the little things that give you faith...

When I was nine and it was my Granddad's birthday party, I was most excited to see my Great Uncle Tom for the first time in months. I don't remember all the fuss or why he had to leave half way through the day. I remember the stiffening of his slight frame as I hugged him, the fleeting wince of pain across his haggard face. It was the last time I saw him. I never said goodbye.

It's the little things that make you cry...

I was eight years old when I woke early that Christmas Day. At the end of my bed an old pillowcase spilled colourful presents like dominoes. I attacked them with fevered hands and widened eyes. I don't remember exactly how it happened. All I remember was thinking it strange how Father Christmas had the same wrapping paper as my mum. It was the slow dawning of that revelation throughout the day; something else I once believed in was not what I thought. I felt the loss of something I could not put a name to.

It's the little things that you regret...

Three years ago we visited Prague to celebrate my Dad's retirement. On our first day the weather clothed us like a second skin, the air was heavy but the sky was clear. I don't remember how or why we ended up drinking beer under a gazebo in Old Town Square. All I remember was the sudden torrent of rain that engulfed us and the clamour of twenty waiters holding up the gazebo with broomsticks as it threatened to fall. Soaked and shivering, I remember we were the only ones to laugh at the sudden change in weather. Sometimes, being British isn't all that bad.

It's the little things that make you smile...and thus the big things seem worthwhile.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

There is no place like home

Home is where the porch door warps on a hot day and refuses to close. It's where the TV plays to ghost audiences once the living have left the room, while the cat sharpens claws on the carpeted stairs. The bottom step has felt the wrath like no other.

Here, the walls were once my canvas and diary. Beneath the scores of wallpaper lies a hidden wealth of drawings and childish ramblings; forgotten secrets only unearthed by some far away future tenant. Somewhere in the box room, the wall was kissed with pink-painted lips to see the effect of my mother's stolen lipstick. In the kitchen by the door, two sets of heights compete in efficient pencil scrawl. Eventually, mine won.

Home is where the cups and plates never match and the best china is only used on Christmas Day, much like the dining table. The rooms are always littered with forgotten activities; cups linger beside a cold kettle, the ironing board is only there to hold laundry and stub toes, and the vacuum cleaner remains at the end of the living room, plugged in waiting. It often waits for a long time.

Here, we keep useless things; rusty keys, books with lost pages and ceramic figurines with missing heads and feet, just in case. There is not just one messy drawer in this dust glazed place. They all are. The yellow papery entrails of encyclopaedia's, history books and the archive of Reader's Digest dating from 1972, spill out from bowed shelves on bookcases. And there's more upstairs.

Home is where I can trace the length and curves of the garden path with eyes closed and still feel it necessary to repeat the hundreds of cartwheels I did as a child. It's where the swing seat is always the hub for chats over cups of tea or glasses of wine as the sun sets and the breeze rises. Whilst mum bemoans the state of the neighbour's fence, we sit underneath the umbrella at the garden table enjoying barbecued meats, despite the rain trickling down our uncovered backs. 

Here, hugs are offered without question and a shoulder sought is given freely. Laughter is first on the agenda and there is always music, whether filtering through the garage wall or tinkering down the stairs. There must always be music. 

Home is where I feel free even with the doors locked and the windows closed. It's the one place where you only ever know its scent once you leave and just the reminder of it makes you long for its comfort with a smile. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Top Ten: Things I can't live without

I know that I can't live without food or water because, well, I'd be dead. But this isn't that kind of list. This is more of an 'I could live without them but I wouldn't want to' list. Indulge me for a moment and read on...

1) Sleep:
As evident from previous posts, readers will know I have lived without sleep for days, many times. The results? Not pretty. Hallucinations, holes in memory and angry tirades directed at innocent family members. If you value friends and sanity, make sure you get your 8 hours while I try to get mine. 

2) Music:
Music is my best friend. She's there when I'm happy or sad. She's at the gym, urging me on for just five more minutes. Within the same breath, she can inspire and move me to tears. She drowns out the silence on long car journeys and is as much a memory as the memory itself. I can't see her but I'd be lost.

3) Books:
Learning to read opened the door to my imagination. All the stories - the hundreds of world's I've visited without having to move - has enriched my life and the way I see the things. As long as I have a book - I don't care what it is - I'm content. 

4) Memories:
Memories make us who we are on good days and fuel us on the bad. Idle insignificant moments of my life where I am lost in banality, stress or sadness, can be altered by the recall of a distant memory. The smile, the happiness evoked, flicks the switch. Without memories, life would be very poor. Just ask patient H.M

5) Pen/Pencil:
We might live in a technological age where handwriting is that swirly thing kids learned in primary school (and left there) but I would hate the inability to write things down. I don't even need paper -  the skin on my arm is sufficient. I might not be Shakespeare and his quill but I have the right to try, damn it!

6) News:
Reading it, watching it - I'm not fussy. Good or bad, I'll take both. The thought of going a couple of days without access to the news gives me palpitations. Not knowing what's happening in the world? Excuse me while I go get my Sky News on. It's for the good of my health...

7) Internet:
How else can one watch TV, book a holiday, buy a new wardrobe and read a list of the most unusual deaths (and anything else weird) without leaving your desk? Impossible!

8) Passport:
I might not like the picture inside but my little burgundy book represents a wealth of opportunity. The instant access to hundreds of destinations provides untold possibilities. All I need is my passport. Money helps too, of course, but that's another matter. 

9) Laughter:
Handing out smiles makes me feel like a decent human being. Nothing else will remedy a bad day (or an awkward situation) that laughter. My mum taught me to laugh, particularly at myself, no matter what the occasion. So I do. A lot. Most people laugh at me too but I can deal with that; as long as they're happy. 

10) Writing:
I suppose I could have put this with number 5 but writing is so much more than the physical act of using a pen. It's a whole process; thoughts, creativity, imagination. I can't bear to think of a life without the time or opportunity to write. It's a fun, sometimes cathartic, activity that prevents my brain from exploding. Needs must and all that...

So reader, what things can't you live without? 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Voice of the Unheard?

When Mark Duggan was killed in a Police shooting last Friday, the news barely scraped my consciousness. I did not know him. He was yet another face to match another front page headline. As awful as it sounds, though I fleetingly thought of his family, I went about my day like any other. 

And when the riots started in Tottenham, seemingly in protest to Duggan's death, the same happened. I'd seen this before: the student riots were not that long ago. I didn't fully understand their motives and I had a head full of questions (and a mouth full of rude words) but it did not affect me. I was unconnected. 

But then Monday came. It was 8.30pm. There was a chorus of sirens - Police, Ambulance, Fire - and they were edging closer. In the distance a helicopter hovered above a thick stream of white grey smoke. The air was acrid and heavy and it wasn't the weather. For the first time in my life I decided to stay indoors for fear of what might happen outside. Instead, I watched the news. 

Businesses and homes were looted and vandalised. Hooded youths of all age ran amok with the kind of adrenaline only a riot could provide. Antagonised Police tried to contain the problem with their meagre hands of power but it was never going to be enough. 

Within minutes, a furniture shop built through generations of one family was nothing more than charcoal. Children carried by their parents, cried, as their homes and belongings drifted up to the sky in a flurry of black ash. Everything earned during a lifetime of hard work vanished in seconds.

What started as a problem elsewhere slowly crept in to my vicinity. In an instant I was connected. It makes me ashamed to admit such superficiality. Initially uncaring, I shrugged at the issue as if it were trivial.  It was beyond my realm of comprehension because it was way over there in someone else's street. It wasn't in mine. I had no experience.

But as the evening darkened and the sirens grew increasingly frequent, I felt it; the fear of the community, the wonder if it would ever end. There was one image in the newspaper that really struck me; a shopkeeper had posted a note in his window: 'Due to imminent societal collapse, I regret to inform you we'll be closing at 6pm'. The words made me laugh but in the seconds it took to process, I wondered. Could society collapse? Was this just the beginning? Disaster has to start somewhere.

Martin Luther King once said 'riots are the voice of the unheard'. People riot when they have exhausted all other means of communication. If I was to examine the riots across the UK recently, I wonder if I could put them in this context. If these riots were about unemployment, budget cuts, or a real desire to truly know what happened to Mark Duggan at the hands of the Police, this context would be true. Sadly, it appears the real motive behind the riots has dissolved. In all I have seen and experienced, it seems to be nothing more than an excuse to steal, vandalise and have a good time fighting for fighting's sake. And that's even more frightening.

Reader, what say you?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Restless

It's 3.30am. The heat of the previous day has yet to fade and I am restless hot and sweat. In the dim yellow light of my bedside lamp, the artex pattern on the ceiling mocks me. One swirl has joined with another to form what looks like a boot. It jumps out to strike against my head. A dull thud settles at my temple. 

The light flickers to distract. I put my hand up to the bulb, so close that my hand glows red. My fingers; they're almost see-through, as much as skin can be, except for the threads of blue veins. I feel the heat - the slow burn of flesh - and yet, I can't snatch my hand away. I am compelled to leave it there a while,  watch it glow. I feel like E.T.

The sheet, which I tucked in tightly at the end of the bed, suddenly feels like lead. Within the coffin confinement I wonder how it would feel to be buried alive. I imagine the earth, chalky thick and brown, crumbling as it tumbles around me, clogging my eyes, sapping me of air as it fills my throat. I inhale deeply to make sure I can still breathe. I watch the rise and fall, rise and fall of my chest. I think of my veins knitted through my fingers, the job they do. It's all okay. I am alive. 

My legs are heavy with unease and fight with the sheet above. Air licks my feet and toes wriggle with delight in their freedom. My body has a fidget fit and for what seems like an age, I turn and turn and tangle within the sheets. The pillow is not a friend and I punch it with fists until a stream of white feathers graze the air in a soft dance. For a while, all is still. 

But then, the door moves within its latch - a slight hitch back and forth sounds as loud as thunder in the morning silence. There must be a breeze, though surely it's a sinister kind never to grace my flushed skin. I throw my leg over the edge of the bed. It's there all of three seconds before the creep creep of unease; the loss of protection, the feeling that something will snatch and bite and I'd be legless and not in a good way. It doesn't matter how old you are; deep down, a person will always wonder what exists beneath their bed.

I curl into myself with the knowledge that insanity is a real possibility.