Saturday, 7 June 2008

Washing up the World

The boiling water-fall is turned
On. It cascades down the
Plates in torrents.
Sweeping bits of pasta
And mince along for the ride.
A shower of fairy is added
Bringing a million bubbles.
The water-fall ends and
Thick white cloth descends.
Quickly banishing both pasta and mince
To the murky yellow depths
Of my washing up bowl.
A voice on high sighs, saying “one job done.”

Ragnarok - The End of All things

The earth is overcome with frost,
The winds blow harsh ice over the fields
And fire seems no longer good at keeping the wolves at bay.
The Storm Giants are becoming bold and brave.

The sky is dark with chaos, it churns
The high shadows of clouds.
Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir can be seen
And heard as lightening whips and
Snaps the shrouded mountain tops.

Both Sun and Moon are dead, eaten
By Skoli and Hati, two giant wolves
That has ever chased those bright
Heavenly orbs. The darkness seems
More cold without their light.

The sounds of angry battles can
Be heard above the thunder
As Odin and the Glorious Dead
March to finish their eternal war.

Even the seas twist and rage
As if battling the land yet
It is from it’s depths that Loki
And Hel’s horde of Unworthy
Dead shall rise.

Slaughter and Madness now
Reigns in each and every town.
Man battles man in a
Vicious and bloody war. Nothing
Is safe or sacred anymore.

Even Bitfrost, that mighty rainbow bridge
Will crack and crumble. Unable to
Withstand the strength and numbers as
The Fire Giants of the south join
The Godly fray.

When Gods have slain Giants and
Giants killed Gods. Fire will purge the
Earth and water wash it clean.

A new dawn will rise, Balder, god of Light
Will help the remaining sons of Odin
And sons of Thor create new life on the
Green earth and clear seashore.

Facing Reality

I see you standing there
Before me, you take
My hand, stroke my hair.

We walk alone, in flowered fields
Of red, white and blue.
Just me and you.

Your lips meet mine
By the river our bodies entwine.
The sun is warm and soft.
Grass tickles my ears.
You sprinkle petals in my hair,
Of white, blue and red.

I open my eyes.
Reality claims you from me once more.
Another dream is dead.

Valentine Ball

A white flower drops.
The calm blue lake surface stirs.
Hands save the flower.

To his love he shows.
Her lips as red as the rose.
Her eyes crystal blue.

She holds it softly.
Her eyes shine love as his do.
She pulls him nearer.

Along the lake side.
Hand in hand the lovers walk.
The moon and stars watch.

They reach the castle.
Laughter and mirth can be heard.
The pair walk on in.

They share a chalice.
Only drinking each other.
Music starts to play.

Hand in hand they dance.
In a crowd yet all alone.
Love is plain to see.


Odin All-father created the universe
From the slain body of Ymir the Giant.
With the help of his brothers Vili and Ve.
When the world was free from sin and curse.

In the centre he made Midgard
He carved it from Ymir’s flesh.
The blood was to be river and sea –
Around the new earth these waters will etch.

Ymir’s teeth became rocks and stones.
Hills and mountains erected from his bones.
All grass and trees formed from his plucked hair.
And Ymir’s brains turned to clouds floating in the air.

To create the sky Odin lifted Ymir’s skull up high.
They hired four dwarves to hold it till they die.

To guard the world Ymir’s eyebrows were used.
To protect both mortal and God if evil pursued.

Odin finally plucked two sparks from the land of fire and light.
These became Sun and Moon, to mark the day and the night.

Still the new world was peaceful yet silent.
The Gods then came across two logs of wood.
From the ash they created man and the elm woman.
Before the three Gods woman and man stood.

Ve offered understanding, youth and the five senses,
Odin gave to both souls and minds,
And Vili shared the power of speech.
These were the greatest gifts received by each.

Before the Gods left Odin finally declared.
“You are called Ask.” He told the man.
“You are called Embla.” He told the woman.
“From this day forth man and woman will always be paired.”


Can you remember the joy of
Sweeping and sailing down
The slide in summer?

Have you forgotten what you felt
When mixing mud into a mess
With your mischievous fingers?

The time when you learnt to ride
Your red bike. Experiencing wind
Rushing through your hair as you
Raced the turning world?

Or when you tried building a sandcastle.
Your hand picked flag with
Pink dots fluttering in
The fresh sea breeze?

Those were the days of your
Childhood. Never let those memories
Die for they will keep you smiling
Through the good times and bad.

Secret Garden

The sun was warm on my back
The day we met.
I can still remember the cool rush
As I stroked your running waters.
Your perfume was unique, a delicate
Fragrance man could never imitate.
Your skin of bark was firm yet soft
To hold, I often tried to wrap my
Arms around you.
And your velvet green grass
Woven about you, it is one of
Nature’s finest fabrics.

I see you no more, as old adulthood
Intervenes, putting barbed wire between us.
But they will never steal you from my
Mind. Each time I close my eyes I’m there.

Sitting in the arms of sister willow.
Listening as brother river plays
A tune for us both between the banks.
And admiring the dainty vine
Flowers as they charm a
Hundred bees.

Summer reigns forever with you.
You’re my secret garden of dreams.

Heartbreak is the Death of a Pheonix:

Heartbreak is the death of a phoenix.
Such a glorious and most beautiful bird deserves such a death as fire.
You are led to believe that all is well, and the world is in harmony with your happiness and pleasure.
Yet no one warns you of the storm and hurricane that approaches your back.
It twists and turns you, sending you in vicious spirals down to the ground. No faster ride have you ridden before.
You plummet to the earth in a ball of fire and crumple into nothing but ash.
Somehow though, a small fragment of you remains, deep within the cinder and soot.
It clings to life as the sea does to the shore. Its desire to live again becomes so strong and needy. The power and hunger for life brings you back.
So as the phoenix, your heart is reborn.

Dangers of Drinking: Tale from a child of an Alcoholic (true story - my own)

‘Drinking too much damages you and destroys your family.’

Twenty. To many it is just a number but to me it is much more. To me the number twenty means the official end of my teenage childhood. It mean’s I can no longer use the age old excuse of being a teenager to watch kid shows or act childishly. When I turn twenty this year people will expect me to be grown up. To act responsibly, with respect and consideration. To stop rolling down grassy fields filled with daisies. To stop day dreaming about far away places and adventures. To no longer drink lilt through a curly pink straw, or milkshakes for that matter. Maybe even horror of horrors, to start paying rent monthly to mum and dad!
I could do all that, fulfil what society expects of me but I won’t. I can not. I will not. If there is one thing I have learnt so far during the past two decades of my life, is that life is so much more fun and exciting when you stay true to you. Be the way you are, not because somebody told you to act so. I have always been a big kid. Even when I was sixteen my Dad would regularly tut at me when he caught me watching W.I.T.C.H on CITV. I didn’t care.
Dad to me is the epitome of everything grumpy and old. He has wrinkly skin, wispy grey beard, smokes a pipe and always has something bad to say about the world in general. I always find it hard to imagine my Dad as a child. Playing around the farm with his brother, my Uncle John. I can imagine him playing with dogs. He has always been a great lover of dogs, of all kinds, shapes and sizes. He probably can’t remember how many dogs he has had in his life but he would always remember the one, Kimmy.
Kimmy was a standard poodle and apparently from Dad a great hunting dog. Dad told me the rather entertaining story of how Kimmy came into his life, and for a short while into mine.
The dog Dad had known before Kimmy was a big black Labrador by the name of Bruce. A big playing machine always loved playing with children and was absolutely worshipped by my Dad’s mum, my Grandma. Sadly Bruce went blind at the age of four yet that didn’t stop him. Dad told me how Bruce would go about his usual rounds around the village where he lived, stopping at each house for a treat. How when it came to crossing the road Bruce would sit down and tilt his head left, then right then left again and cross when the road was clear. Bruce lived to the ripe old age of twelve and not once did he get run over.
If you were to ever listen as Dad tells this story you can detect a small glimmer of happiness, laughter, perhaps even a sense of fun behind his weary eyes. A sight as rare as humans proving the moon is really made of cheese.
However after Bruce died, Dad’s parents were getting old and unable to handle any more dogs as Dad and Uncle John lived away from home. Dad on the other hand wanted a dog badly. He once told me the home farm without a dog barking in the yard is as empty as the sky without a sun. So one day he devised a rather cunning plan.
You see, my oldest cousin Terry, Uncle John’s son, was another of Grandma’s idols in those days. So Dad and John convinced Terry to come with them to a local farm who was giving away some poodle puppies. They picked out Kimmy and gave it to Terry to give to Grandma. Dad said they walked into the house with Kimmy in Terry’s arms and Terry announced “Look Grandma, look what I have bought for you.” Grandma’s apparent response was “What are we meant to do with that?” Yet as the past has shown it didn’t take long for Grandma and Granddad to fall in love with Kimmy.
Kimmy proved to be Dad’s best friend and loyal companion. This turned out to be very valuable qualities indeed when Grandma died and Granddad took in a new woman into his life, whom Dad never seemed to agree with. Kimmy became Dad’s one true friend and source of support. That of course made Dad all the more broken when Kimmy had to be put down when I was just coming out of my toddler years.
When I was born, not many years after Mum and Dad married, Kimmy saw me as an intruder and didn’t like me much. Not in a nasty way, he just didn’t want anything to do with me. My sister Charlotte even now though continuously rubs it in that Kimmy liked her more yet she always seems to forget she wasn’t even walking when Kimmy died.
Apparently Kimmy had suffered several bouts of illnesses, from chest infections to weak back legs and eventually Dad made the painful decision to have him put down.
I think it was from that day that Dad started to become such a cynic about life. I only became truly aware of how gloomy my Dad was when I was teenager, around the age of fifteen. They say you do become awakened to more things when you turn a teenager, and I don’t necessarily mean puberty, sex and all that. I mean the true way’s of the world. What life is truly like and how everything isn’t always as cheery as the cartoons on TV.
At the time the rest of my family and I were all aware my Dad liked a drink after a hard day at work as a taxi driver outside Malton train station. His favourite drink in those days was Newcastle Brown Ale. There would always be a crate of twelve in the kitchen and it would always be empty after the five working days but with another always ready in its place.
Those were the days when Dad was just starting to become distant towards us all. We were still allowed to go wake him up about noon on Sundays, he’s day off. All three of us, Charlotte, Nicholas and me would crawl under his duvet from the bottom up slowly crowding him with good morning cuddles. Informing him dinner will be ready soon. After dinner he would position himself in his claimed chair before the TV and watch the Grand Prix with beer bottle upon table beside his ash try and smoking pipe. Things were relatively happy in those days, when I had just turned thirteen; but as the years passed Dad clearly but slowly changed.
His taste for beer changed to red wine and he would start coming home with four to five bottles in a bag. My Mum believes this change occurred after Foot and Mouth disease hit the region, ceasing much if not all tourism. Turning his jobs to Flamingo Land Theme Park and Castle Howard to just local jobs covering no more than twenty miles at max, on a rare occasion. All of us knew Dad hated his job despite being self employed. He was once a good Gardner at a big house but due to his back problems getting worse he had to end it. Even the big vegetable patch in the garden that once grew gorgeous new potatoes had to be rooted out and turfed over. We still have a small patch growing gooseberries and asparagus but that’s all that remains.
Back then I didn’t know Dad’s work affected him so much and I didn’t really think how his lack of good jobs would impact the finances. Mum was still doing a good child care business of her own at home. Many of the children in the area have at some point been looked after by my Mum after school, until their parents came to pick them up after work.
It seemed though that Dad was in great turmoil about the dip in his business and extremely anxious about keeping the family income going. It took quite a few years for business to even get near what it was like before and it is still recovering. Unfortunately Dad never recovered in the same way. He became drained of all optimism in life; he lost the once playful streak that I and my siblings adored. The first signs the wine was destroying his spirit.
When work got bad the amount he drank went up and continued to do so over the changing years. He no longer went to bed early in order to get up early. He would start work at half nine not half eight as before. The same would happen at the end of the day. He used to return just after six, now he would come back at the same time we finished school. He would sit before the TV until perhaps midnight or beyond on many occasions. Dad no longer interacted with my siblings and I. He would ask how school had gone but that was about it. He made no effort to be close with us again.
Mum eventually finished with the child care business and looked for a job else where. She applied for a job of dinner lady at a local primary school which was accepted. So good was her work with the children there she was offered the position of teaching assistant with the few disabled children or those who had learning difficulties. Mum flourished there.
I think Dad though became privately jealous of her success at something new and so his gloom and depression deepened into many wine bottles. Dad was nine years older than Mum and with a bad back did not see himself able to learn something new or even capable of doing so. Dad saw the whole world turning against him despite the many things he could now do in today’s age.
Things only got worse between Dad and my family. We all began to learn to keep a physical distance around him in the evening. One small remark or foot wrong after he has had a few glasses would always ignite the bomb of anger that sat in his black heart. So we turned to my poor Mum more and more, and before we knew it she became more or less the single parent in a marriage that was starting to show cracks.
We had all tried on countless opportunities to try and rekindle a love for life within Dad and warn him how much drink was taking a hold in his life. Over the past eight years he has spent more time with a bottle of wine and the TV then with any of us children or his wife who loves him despite her suffering. I wrote him numerous letters telling him how I truly felt when he starts drinking each and every night and how I fear for his health each time he trips when staggering up the stairs to bed. I have lost count of the times he has fallen out of his bad or falling over the simplest obstruction in his bedroom. Which most of the time could have been avoided if he wasn’t drunk and walked with more control.
I would like to say he changed, it’s my one desire in life these days but my tale is a sad one. In 2005 he got charged by the police for drink driving, banned for two years and given community service hours. He did a course to get his license back this April but because his drinking continued and got worse he has been signed off by the doctor from any work for another year. Nowadays he clings to every chair, wall or table he can reach to help him walk in even a straight line. In this spring he fell over a small table in his bedroom which was against a wall and badly damaged several ribs which was the main reason he was signed off work again. The amount he has been drinking has impacted his back and health badly. Only when he tried Detox in hospital, in the Christmas of 2006, for twelve days was the first time he ate three meals a day in many years. However that failed badly as soon as he was let out and he is back to drinking half the day away and only surviving on tea and the occasional lunch.
For the first time he hit rock bottom this Easter Sunday and spent the whole day complaining of feeling crap but did nothing but sleep and drink. My entire family has lost all trust and respect for him. My mum has already demanded he move out but Uncle John or any other relative has not offered us or him any support. He knows he has no where to go and so refuses to leave, even to his brothers for a weekend. Mum won’t leave because no one else would take care of our two golden Labrador puppies Gem and Bailey. Another scheme we hoped would encourage dad to change and give him something to focus on after our black Labrador Fern died suddenly from unseen health problems in March 2006. So this year we have made plans to visit relatives in Pool for the first time without Dad; because he won’t change no matter how many reasons we give him. In truth we are all ashamed of his behaviour in general. He says we don’t support him but how can we support him when he refuses to seek help other than his councillor once a week? His drinking lives no longer in the evenings but afternoons and early hours of the morning.
That is why I believe that the ‘Smoking Kills’ advert on cigarettes should be spread onto all kinds of alcohol. It should say ‘Drinking too much damages you and destroys your family.’

First Year, First Nightmare: Uni newspaper first piece

First Year, First Nightmare:

Lost. I’m lost. Those were the troubling words which haunted Sarah’s mind. Each thought sending shock waves of panic down to her racing heart.
The huge buildings felt like giants around her as she took turn after turn, went down so many different corridors, up several sets of stairs. Each room she passed had numbers on them but none matched those on her timetable; which was gripped tightly in her trembling hands.
She wasn’t alone in this vast complex but the fact didn’t do much to calm her down. She ran past various numbers of people but none of them registered her presence amongst them or heard her calls for help nor see the panic and fear in her eyes.
So she continued to run, in every direction, going round in circles. Constantly consulting her timetable in the vain hope she had read the number wrong but it was always the same. In simple, black, bold lettering. Lecture room number XG/12. She had no idea where a block could be that began with the letter X. That was when she realised it must be part of another building. A building she had no knowledge of.
Eventually she cracked, the panic freezing her heart with fear and sending her mind in a spiral of confusion. She charged into the Students Union, struggling to hold back the tears until she had locked herself inside the girl’s toilets. She crumbled to the floor in despair and cried. Cried for getting lost, cried for being alone and cried for her fear of asking for help.
Somewhere at the back of her mind a clock alarm began to beep.

“Morning Sarah.” Dave greeted her as they met in their communal kitchen at seven that morning.
“Morning.” She mumbled, not hiding her weariness in her voice.
“Late night was it?”
She paused in reply. “Something like that.” She looked up at Dave and fixed him with a pleading gaze. “Are you going into Uni this morning?”
“Nope. Got most of the morning off. First seminar isn’t till about three.”
“What are you doing awake at this time then? You could have a lie in.”
“I know but I might go into town just before lunch and have a wander to find out where everything is.”
A shiver went down Sarah’s spine, she didn’t reply, just turned all her attention quickly to her cereal, blocking out last nights nightmare.

The half eight bus had a long que to take on board being the first official day of term. Sarah was stuck in the middle of the que, alone. Her timetable in her pocket ready to check if needs be.
Once the bus had set off away from Storthes Hall Sarah gazed out the window, trying not to think about the dream and praying she will have the courage to ask for help. It was just as her mind began to drift off that a conversation behind her caught her attention and brought her back to the present.
“I have no idea where it could be. You will have to ask someone.” A girl replied behind her. Sarah stole a quick glance behind and saw two girls, one had her timetable out and the other was looking at it curiously.
“XG/12. I don’t think it is in my English block, it’s called the West Building so all the numbers begin with a W.”
Sarah took a deep breath and said a quick prayer in her mind that she wouldn’t look too foolish for interrupting them.
“XG/12 did you say?” They both immediately fixed her with a cautious glance.
“Yeah do you know where it is?”
“No I’m afraid but I am also looking for that room. I’m Sarah by the way.”
“Oh hi, I’m Emily and this is my flat mate Hannah. Are you doing an English course too?”
Sarah nodded hello to Hannah who gave her a friendly smile. “Yeah, English Studies.”
“Cool same here.”
“I have been wondering where that room was all weekend. I’m pleased I have found someone else as lost as me.”
“Same, I guess we will have to ask someone.” Emily answered; there was a certain warmth in her voice that Sarah liked. Her fears immediately began to fade.
The rest of the journey the trio of girls talked about their flats, flat mates, the nights out at the D-bar and any other matter they found in common. Before they knew it they were at the university.

“So where do we start? We know it isn’t in our block.” Sarah asked, needlessly fiddling with her timetable by folding it in various ways as they looked around the English block entrance.
“First we must find someone who we think knows their way around here and then ask them to tell us where to go. We have fifteen minutes so unless no one helps us I think we should make the lecture.” Emily explained sounding very confident and making Sarah feel a bit better. “Look we will ask him.” She pointed out the large windows across to the small round about at the University entrance; where a guy in a bright orange t-shirt saying Student Helper stood talking to others who had gathered around him. She quickly led the way across just as the guy waved off another small group of girls towards the library.
He immediately looked at both Sarah and Emily’s approach with a smile.
“Hi there, are you two ladies needing some help?”
“Yes please. We’re trying to find lecture room….XG/12?” Emily asked simply. Sarah merely smiled sheepishly.
“Right your in luck as that room is in my block, the science block. You see the building which makes the bridge connected to the West Building?” Pointing at the set of glass windows bridging over to the side of the building in question. They both nodded. “Good, you follow the path on that side, round that corner on the right, go through the doors with the sign Courtyard Café on, follow the corridor down to your left and take the first set of stairs on your left. Once up them head right and you will find that room shortly round another corner. As long as you get to that floor you should be ok and just follow the room numbers round to the one you’re after. Ok?”
“Yeah thanks!” Emily answered graciously before turning on her heels and leading Sarah whom happily followed behind her.
Within five minutes they were outside XG/12, waiting with a growing number of other nervous students.
“You wouldn’t believe how scared I was of getting lost trying to find this place.” Sarah admitted to Emily.
“Well you shouldn’t be. There are always people around you can ask for help. Everyone who has ever come here would have felt helpless at some point so they would have had to ask. That’s what I like about Huddersfield, everyone is so helpful. Never be afraid to ask.” With that lesson in mind they went into their first lecture of the year. After the first few weeks, Sarah began to memorise her way around campus didn’t have anymore nightmares.

Univerisity Life (an amended version)

University Life

Shadows slump in chairs and lay across the desks.
Sunlight and moonshine scribble on the walls.
Silence and emptiness sleep in the tutor’s office,
Around drained coffee cups and cold computers.

No noise ventures down the corridor.
The drinks machine oasis is now a desert.
Only memories of time past, flickering ghosts
Live in this barren place.

For summer dawns across the lands.
The usual mix of sunshine and rain.
September turns up and not too late
As nature finally reaches a balanced state.

Tutors arrive laden with papers and files.
Students come with nerves and excitement.
Staff return from normality prepared for the masses.
And people in orange T-shirts pop out of no where.

Shadows are banished by the electric bulb.
Silence is corrupted with voices old and new.
Emptiness becomes full, no space left bare.
The coffee machine is put to work once more.

So the cycle continues and the circle turns.
As one end dies and fades another is born, fresh and new.
The old aid the young with all they have to learn.
The passing of knowledge, as old as time itself.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The First End, The Second Beginning: end of year student short story

She glanced at the clock. 10 minutes left. 10 minutes consisting of 600 seconds. 600 seconds before it as all over. 600 seconds before her hand would stop aching in her great struggle to drain her knowledge through pen and ink onto the cold white exam paper that has been fixed before her eyes for the past 110 minutes or 1 hour and 50 minutes to be exact. Anticipation of the finish was already swelling inside her like an underwater current, waiting to erupt over the brain in a great sense of relief, joy, happiness and the thought of long summer days ahead.
Sarah had come such a long way since those first nervous days and terrified nights and shy hours spent at the D-bar. Her flat mates all turned out to be good enough friends even though the flat above her seemed like a circus come Friday night with music throbbing through her ceiling and the impression that they had a small herd of baby elephants herding from one room to the next up and down the corridor. But that’s to be expected when you live in a block of rebellious, live-for-the-moment, drink-as-much-as-you-can-in-an-hour students. All this would be a distant memory soon.
Since that first fearful conversation with Emily and Hannah on the Storthes Bus that autumn morning they have been great friends ever since which had proven to be worthwhile when it came to April when they decided to start revision sessions together outside of class. With the odd set of pizzas and litre bottles of pop to help speed things along. Sarah doubted she would be as this prepared for her exam without their support, encouragement and help. She smiled to herself in the pleasing knowledge of still having this support next year.
Not long into January Emily suggested they try organising a house to rent for themselves next year. Hannah was all up for it but Sarah was a bit unsure. She didn’t know much about student housing within the town centre and was worried about the cost of it all. Having spoken to her parents about it the following night her Mum persuaded her to seek advice and information from Student Services at the Union. The following morning she called upon her courage again to ask the questions and express her fears, concerns and worries about living in a house in the town. The women there were very understanding and gave her lots of helpful tips, advice, leaflets and suggestions about what to do if she decides to go along with Emily. Armed with so much information and surprisingly a sense of real excitement regarding the very idea of living in town Sarah grabbed Emily and Hannah and had a good long discussion about the idea. In the end of course Sarah agreed which delighted Hannah and Emily all the more. As all three friends lived in opposite directions to each other which would mean seeing each other over the summer would be difficult.
The very next week the three girls registered themselves with the Student Pad website which was supported by the Students Union and began their very first house search. The following week they had three separate viewings and by the next they had already chosen their house which was located just up the road behind Uni in the pleasant area of Newsome. When it came to signing the contract Sarah followed her advice and took a copy of it to the Student Services to go through and check through that all the small print and details were acceptable. The next few days Emily and Hannah went to their rental agencies office to put down their deposit and pay the contract. Sarah did the same the day after having to wait for the post to come through which contained the deposit money gladly donated by her parents.
It all seemed so long ago now to her as she scribbled the last sentences onto the page put her pen down and stretched her arms up into the air. Once the exams were over she would start scouting for a local job preferably in New Look or Waterstones, she’d had enough of selling supermarket goods during her gap year previously. In a months time she would be packing her things and move into the new house with her friends. Then on days off they would spend time shopping, partying, having barbeques in the sunshine or making trips to Blackpool beach and eat ice-cream or candyfloss as they paddled in the waves.
A woman’s voice broke through her visions of the future announcing the exam time limit is over and can all students put their pens down and remain silent as the papers were collected. There was a great collective sigh from all involved with the process. Sarah leaned back in her chair and smiled. This is the life, she thought, the student life. If only it could last forever without the exams of course and perhaps a bigger more regular supply of money.

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