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Friday, 26 October 2012

Jean Allen thinks we BUY TOO MUCH!

We’ve long ago lost the forty hour week our forebears worked so hard to get. Back then weekends free of work gave families time to do things together; time for sport and recreation; time to rest and recover.

Now we work every day. Both parents work. We pay non-family workers to take care of our children so that we can work. And this is called progress? Why have wages altered our living so much that some people have to work seven days a week or they cannot fund a home – give their children an education – or afford to have them taught a hobby. We don’t have time to relax, recover and restart anymore.

We live in an age of machines and the microchip and somehow the big bosses have begun to think their workers are machines as well. Antibiotics, anti-depressants and vaccinations keep us working even when we’re not well. It’s the money age. It’s the age of possessions. We’ve been manipulated and brain washed by advertising. The millionaires and the billionaires pay the Advertising Merchants to suck us into - ‘Buy this! Buy a bigger this! Buy a better this!’

They’ve taken us over and we can’t see it. We work to their will, buy to their persuasions and build bigger than required houses with bigger than we can afford mortgages – monuments to our own egos!  We’ve been brain washed, downgraded and deprived of our rights and we don’t even know it.

The old religions are out. The new religion has been surreptitiously well established. We now spend our lives doing whatever the new Religion tells us to do. It’s the frenetic compulsion – no time to think – no time to recover - Shopaholic Religion. Hail to the Mighty Dollar!

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping you are enjoying  a new opinion today.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Barbara Algie with a new golfing poem

‘Hi this is Big Al here and they’ve let me ‘out’ for a spell and so I’m taking the opportunity of keeping my promise, made earlier this year, to give you a spot of poetry.

When it comes to poetry I guess you’d say (seeing I am definitely in the ‘older bracket’) that I like my poems to rhyme and to tell a story so I suppose they should be called Ballads.
I consider that if it’s good enough for the noted poets of old to express their thoughts in this fashion then do we really have to pretend we enjoy the modern type of poems which don’t have much, if any, rhyme to them and sometimes where one has to have the mind of a cryptic crossword addict to fathom out their meaning?  Perhaps they have conned us into thinking that this is the new age and we’d better shape up or ship out.   
Before I began to have a go at writing short stories etc. I was a golfer – and previous to that, in my giddy youth, a table tennis player and so, not unnaturally, my thoughts linger on these ‘body no longer able to cope with’ activities.

So here we are – about to make a start on a book which I hope will be enjoyed by my former golfclub buddies in a club which is to celebrate its 100th Anniversary next year – and if I ever get round to starting  it this will be the first one:-



Why must we play this dreaded game with hopes forever high?

Why do we score a hundred (then tell a bare-faced lie)?

We live in hopes this game of golf which taxes every nerve

makes us more stronger-minded than we actually deserve

but if we shoot a wondrous score it clearly should be known

this usually only happens when we’re playing on our own

First let’s take the graceful bit – the casual practice swing

it’s poetry in motion a smooth delightful thing

we visualise a screamer – the ball in perfect flight

but muscles seize we choke and freeze it’s not a pretty sight

Instruction books have wise advice refer to Chapter One

‘Keep your eye upon the ball relax and have some fun’

May I suggest more prudently when playing in a match

your eye should be upon your foe to keep him up to scratch


Most courses fraught with hazards like bunkers rough and lakes

take some negotiation (not to mention lucky breaks)

insist on going by yourself – to search – then with a shout

make sure that no one’s looking when you throw the damned thing out

grab a tuft of grass and wipe some mud from off your lip

as you emerge like ’Tiger’ and proceed to sink the chip


Ephemeral?  Yes just like a dream the reason we persist

The Holy Grail – the Hole in One – that thrill not to be missed

no doubt about the exercise it’s of the healthy kind

will take you long into your life (but may destroy the mind)

You’ll play that round again in bed remembering that winner

the day you sank a six foot putt to win the final skinner’


And now I hear them knocking on the door to take me back ‘inside’ so I’ll say good luck (if you’re a golfer) and tough bickies if you haven’t had the opportunity (or the money) to play it.   The old saying ‘Why is it that one never loses an old ball’ is quite true and they’re rather expensive these days!


See you next year – maybe.

Big Al’


Friday, 12 October 2012

Words: Glorious Words

This week's post brought to you by Vicky Adin

…I was spellbound. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around you like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
I read these few sentences in a novel recently and was captivated. This is exactly what an author seeks to achieve: to create a collection of words that speak louder than any other collection of words.
In this case, the character was speaking about the written words of another character – a novelist. So it was a double whammy really: the words of this fictional author described by the words of the character and her reactions to those words.

Some words are informative, some are instructional, others educational. All words are important and shouldn’t be wasted, but words that are emotive are the most valuable. Emotions are what drive us mere humans. If an author can put together a collection of words that draws the reader into the story to the exclusion of all else, a wonderful thing has happened.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
Is it the story line, the characters, or the setting?

Have you ever thought about it enough to know the answers?
Could it be the way the words are manipulated that appeals to you the most?

Do those words, so carefully crafted by the author, make you laugh or cry, get the adrenalin pumping or carry you away to another time and place?
For me it is being carried away to another place that matters. I like to ‘live’ in the characters skin for a while, see what ‘she’ sees (and it is usually a she for me), feel what she feels and taste what she can taste. If I can’t find ‘my place’ within the author’s words I don’t follow that path and leave it for someone else to find their place within those words. For me empathy is the most important aspect.

The best authors achieve empathy with many readers because their voice sounds real, something the reader can share in and understand. There are those who write for women and those who target men. Some books cross the genders, but not always and, for me, not often. There are few books that cross the age range. Yet there are classics one remembers reading as a child that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Do you ever read them again? Or are you scared that with adult eyes you may shatter the memory you have?
Whatever you feel and think about the books you read, remember it is the author who has spent hours, months and sometimes years crafting that collection of words that reached out and hit you right where you wanted it to at the time.

So next time you meet an author, say thank you.  They gave you the gift of words.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Erin McKechnie finds inspiration from the professionals.

It’s my turn to do the blog, but I am devoid of ideas let alone inspiration. Writing a blog is much harder than a novel I have decided. I turned for help to some of the masters. These authors, far better writers than I, have made the following remarks on why or how they write.
Anais Nin gives exquisite advice on why emotional excess is essential to writing and creativity:

               ‘...You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. Emotion comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.'
        ‘...Don’t feel that each time you write a story you give away one of your dreams and you are poorer for it. You have not thought how this dream is planted in others, others begin to live it too, it is shared, it is the beginning of friendship and love.’
                ‘...You move in a world of mysteries. It must be ruled by faith.’
George Orwell wrote on the motive for writing:
                ‘All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a window pane.  I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed.  And looking back through my work I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.’
It interested me that both writers comment in all seriousness on the mysteriousness of the writer’s world. There wouldn’t be many of us who don’t know the excitement when we sit down to write – of wondering what is going to trip from the ends of our fingers. But George Orwell seemed a little too serious for me.  I prefer the attitude of Ray Bradbury:
                ‘Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say "Oh my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ... ," you know? No, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else. ‘
How do you feel about the writing process? Is it a dark unstoppable force, an urge to create art, or a desire to tell a story? Do you write for yourself or an audience? Let us know how you feel.