Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

The Monitor's Mission

Writers Talkback One Word Challenge - "Scarlet"

Akram is jostled in the crowd, struggling to push his head up between the knees and elbows that are digging into his small body. He is almost deafened by the sounds of angry voices chanting and car horns signalling their discontent. He grasps the hand of his older brother, desperately clinging on. He knows he must not let go.
The crowd surges and Akram's five year old feet are lifted off the ground as they move forward, nearer to the group with the white peaked caps.
Akram's brother will be in deep trouble with Mama if she finds out he is here. In the past few months since the troubles got worse she has forbidden them to go to Friday prayers at the Ummayad Mosque in the city and they  have stayed indoors much more than usual. But she won't find out - not yet.

Tricolours of scarlet, whiter and black with two green stars in the centre, wave above the heads of the people as shots are fired. Akram's limp, now lifeless body is lifted bleeding onto the bonnet of a car of the Arab League observers,Another innocent, martyred in the  name of united democracy.

196 words

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Post

Watched The Grumpy Guide to Christmas last night - amusing, if not predictable.
All those so called celebs telling us how much they hate Christmas, but obviously revelling in the revenue that moaning about it brings by talking about it on TV. As Ozzy Osbourne said "When I was a practising alcoholic it was the best time of the year, but when you don't drink it's just another day".
They also talked about sending (or not sending) cards at Christmas and how you always get one from someone who you have never heard of. Me, cynical as ever, thought - that never really happens, it's just you have forgotten or something.
But, another one of those coincidences that aren't  really coincidences happened this morning.
I received a Christmas card through the post this morning... from someone I've never heard of. 
                                                                   Or maybe forgotten. 
I don't recognise the handwriting and I have scrutinised the postmark, which only tells me that it has gone through the Sheffield Mail Centre, yesterday.
So, to whoever sent the card, thankyou for thinking of me. I wish you best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, too. And I haven't really forgotten you, just your details are awaiting process somewhere in my memory.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Poetry 'n Motion

In case anyone missed it on Tuesday 29th November via almost every social networking site available  -
I  won a competition.
At risk of being repeatetive, the competition involved Vintage Inns, Sir Andrew Motion as judge, and one line of poetry.
I have graciously accepted and enjoyed the dining out part of the prize (at the Boat Inn, Sprotbrough) and am now waiting for the other parts - a framed copy of the poem and a signed copy of Andrew Motion's latest collection of poems "The Cinder Path".

Now, I have to admit that apart from knowing he was poet laureate at some time in the past, that was about all I knew of Andrew Motion. My main studying time of poetry was, of  course, before the days of Google at the sweep of a thumb and the click of a button. That's my excuse anyway, but I did feel obliged to read up a bit about the man responsible for my latest 'literary prize'. As coincidence/luck/fate or whatever would have it, a few days after the competition I came across Andrew Motion's 'In the Blood - A memoir of my childhood', in Poundland. Always one to splash out, I bought it without hesitation ... and am glad I did. The story is a detailed and beautifully written account of his family and the countryside he grew up in and a tribute to his mother.
And so I am inspired yet again to record my own musings and memories. If I make it to the shelves of the pound shop, I will be in eminent company and more than pleased.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Best Christmas

It did cross my mind not to write a blog about Christmas - before, during or after the event. Which ever way I talk about it I know that I will appear either 'holier than thou' or scrooge- like. I will certainly seem hypocritical. 
However, I have buckled under the weight of my thoughts - which apparently are not so dis-similar to those of many others at this time. 
There's nothing new in feeling a bit pressured at this time of year. Most of us want our family and friends to have the best possible...  everything. 
Best tree. best decorations, best lights, best food and drink, best time together and most of all best presents. Whether this 'best' is  for ourselves or for what others think of us is something that's a bit too uncomfortable to think of. I hold my hands up here - I reckon I'm a pretty good contender for the top prize in this game.

I want my family and friends to have THE BEST, be it mince pie, cracker or party, while talking about peace and harmony and good will to all. I think I have sorted out the difference between wants and needs and believe that I need them to have the best. 

But really what I know would be the best would be to spend time with people who mean something to me (and me to them) without the pressure of "is everyone happy?" when obviously what makes them happy is for me to be happy.

Not difficult is it ? It's not even a case of beliefs or tradition. We can all manipulate those terms to suit our mood, if we want to.
So ...
may your Christmas be merry, happy, joyful, peaceful, or whatever adjective you wish to put with it. 
I will try to make mine "the best" for all concerned.