I have assembled 100 words and encourage you to assemble a comment in the box below.
“And this is the famous aqueduct,” the guide announced. He flourished a proud hand and stood back to allow the small group to take pictures.
One visitor, an elderly, refined woman, stood silent, apart, imagining the aqueduct in less austere, better maintained days. She recalled her grandmother’s diary, the entry relating the local legend that any child conceived over this stream would live a life governed by water.
Her hand gripped the Olympic swimming gold in her cardigan pocket. At last she had seen the place where her mother’s glorious life had begun. And where it had so tragically ended.
874 miles from Little Rock brought Meagan within two miles of her destination city. She waited for the driver to stop before she ported out. She was a bit unsteady from being cooped up in the back of the cab for so long.
I got paid today, so I went shopping. Not for anything dramatic, just groceries, but being the one day of the month when I have any money I tend to do a big shop. I top up on things I have run low on or out of, and I usually let myself have a little treat. If I’ve been extra good then the treat is a box of Viennese Whirls, a cake I find so irresistible that when I buy a box of six, the only thing left when the car pulls up at home is the box.
So I was in a good mood, what with having been paid, and also because I was going shopping, my favourite household task. I was enjoying the browse round Sainsburys, picking up what I needed, comparing prices, spotting bargains, and I was just deciding between a strawberry or a mint Viennetta, both half-price this week, when there was a customer announcement for the owner of my car to go to the front desk. My first thought was I had left my lights on, but it was still daytime and I knew I hadn’t. Then I thought that maybe they had come on by themselves – the electrics are playing up, and while I was parking the radio had refused to switch off – and how much was it going to cost me to sort THAT, and would that mean my weekend in France in August would be cancelled?
I was pretty nervous when I got to the desk, and ready to go into full dark mood depression meltdown over whatever it was. There had been an incident with my car, they said (oh shit, someone has hit-and-runned me, the car is a wreck, I haven’t got the money for a new one etc etc), the guy who drives the trolley retrieval truck had crashed into my bumper and ripped it off. Well that didn’t sound too bad, I thought, and even if it is, it will be on their insurance not mine.
The trolley guy apologised, I said it was fine, accidents happen and i went out to the car with the manager. He was right, the bumper was hanging by one screw. He must have been going at quite a speed. We took a few pics, exchanged numbers, he took the bumper off, helped me put it in the car and that was essentially that. Now comes the getting of quotes, the sorting out of repairs etc etc and hopefully I will also get to drive some fancy courtesy car for a day or two when the work is being done.
I was completely polite and calm, and throughout the whole thing, I was able to talk myself out of whatever worst case scenario my inner voice was cooking up for me. The manager thanked me for being so reasonable, if only all customers were like me, and I said again that accidents happen. The trolley guy was new, he hadn’t done it on purpose, noone had got hurt. I was saying this to myself as much as anything else, telling my darker self that I wasn’t going to be dragged down.
If this has happened a year ago I would have been in tears, or shouting at the staff, or both. Which would have helped nobody. And the low would have lasted for days, destroyed my confidence, made me not want to leave the house, not want to ever drive my car again, not want to go to the shops again. But today there was no low. I was fine. So you may be reading this and thinking this whole thing is a non-story. Well maybe it is. But you see, that is sort of the point.
Oh and by the time I got back to my shopping, the Vienneta shelf in the freezer was empty. They WERE on offer after all. And I would only have eaten it. So I’m counting that as a bonus too.
Something a bit different and quieter this week after the noisy thump thump thump of late. Emiliana is an Icelandic / Italian singersongwriter who has never had the big success she deserves. I love the animation in this video but it’s the quiet guitar and delicate softness of her voice that makes this a
I am reviewing and editing at the moment and thought you might like a peek at this excerpt from Chapter eight. I won’t tell you what caused the disagreement as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for when you buy the hardback.
Rick felt the burst of energy, the coursing of adrenalin as his fist powered once, hard, into Michael’s face. Michael staggered back into the bar, releasing his grip on Rick’s arm and covering his face in an instinctive act of self-defence against further blows. The first drips of blood were already beginning to seep through his fingers as he held his hand against his nose. But Rick’s anger had begun to subside, the one outlay of rage and violence had been sufficient to quell his mood for now, and without waiting to ask after Michael’s health, he walked, no he stamped, off towards the quiz machine.
He only managed a few steps though, before he felt a tug on his arm. With his right hand clenching again in readiness to lash out, Rick turned. But before he had time to raise his fist, Michael’s retaliatory punch slammed into his ear, the word ‘wanker’ barely audible through the ringing. A second blow caught Rick’s stomach and as he doubled over, struggling for breath, a third caught his chin. The sound of shouts filled the pub as the two grabbed hold of each other, pulling and tugging, and those surrounding them shouted encouragement or implored them to leave it. No real punches were being thrown now as the pair, bouncing and thudding from table to table, clattering and tumbling from chair to chair, from quiz machine to bar, tried to gain an upper hand.
A loud metallic clanging sounded clear above the muffled exclamations coming from the pair as Helen rushed to the far end of the bar and rang the bell frantically. A wooden chair gave way as they toppled onto it, and the two, still clutching at each others’ clothing and occasionally flailing an arm in a wild and inaccurate punch, thudded to the floor, still rolling and rucking. As some of the other drinkers, mostly employees of Palmer Carlton, made attempted lunges towards the brawling pair to grab hold of them and pull them apart, Malcolm the landlord, summoned by Helen’s panicked campanology, burst through the staff entrance next to the bar.
‘WHAT THE FUCK,’ he bellowed in a gravelly Cockney voice, deepened by years of cigars and encouraging shouts to various footballers, horses, dogs and occasionally even cockerels and foxes, ‘IS GOING ON IN MY PUB?’
Instantly, the group surrounding the maul separated as Malcolm strode towards them, and grabbing one shirt collar in each ham-like fist, he dragged the combatants from the ground and from each other. In a fluid movement, and without another word, his strides continued across the bar to the door, which he pushed open, using the two as a pair of battering rams. Their feet stumbled and tripped as they tried to regain their balance and keep up with Malcolm’s pace. He dragged the pair through the car park at the front of the pub, and to the alley at the side of the building where the large yellow and green commercial wheelie bins were kept. He threw the pair of them against the bins, dusted down his shirt with his hands, and then raised a reproachful finger with which he punctuated the sentence he handed down.
‘Fuck off out of it,’ he said, his voice and manner menacingly calm, ‘and if either of you so much as Googles my pub during the next two weeks, I will personally pull your fucking arses off.’ His finger and his threat hovered in the air for a few more underlining seconds, his glare oscillating between Rick and Michael, before he turned and walked casually back into the pub.
NOTE that this post isn’t me moaning and being all self-pitying, it isn’t a plea for someone to understand me or to reassure me or to support me. I’m just doing a bit of mental tidying up and thinking aloud. Feel free not to read it.
The reason I started blogging was to sort out all the stuff that goes through my head; all the confusion, all the self-doubt, all the self-criticism. And over the last year and a bit, being able to put all this in writing has helped my head to settle to the extent that I don’t feel the need to blog about my emotions any more. And this process has also meant that I understand better how my head works. Whereas before I would have to ride out the doubts and the downs as best I could until they went away, now I can recognise what is happening and even if I can’t always beat it, the ride is smoother. It’s like being on a plane and hitting turbulence. If you are just being battered and shaken it can be terrifying, but if you look out the window and see that it is because you are descending through the cloud layer then suddenly it isn’t so scary. That’s not to say the plane is bouncing around any less but the fear of the unknown is gone.
So now when my head is buffeting me, I can look out of the mental window and see that a particular event has caused it. Or if I can’t I can tell myself that it will pass, I will soon be into clearer air. Okay, I’ll stop using the aeroplane metaphor now.
At Christmas I even managed, in a moment of clarity when listening to a radio programme on the subject, to self-diagnose the cause of my emotional upheaval. I read into it a bit, found that everything I read was consistent with my experience and decided I was right.
This is all lovely and uplifting, but what am I achieving? I haven’t done anything about getting myself officially diagnosed (what difference would it make if I was?), I haven’t taken any steps towards preventing the dark moods that afflict me, I am not proactive when it comes to overcoming my lack of confidence. Recognising what is happening to me and realising that it will pass is all very well, but what I should be doing is then acting on this recognition to prevent it. But I don’t.
The fact that I no longer need to splurge my emotions all over the net is evidence that in a much better place than I was a year ago, and it must be a relief to those who don’t want to read my self-regarding navelgazery, but where could I be, who could I be if I really tried?
I saw this last week – Working gun made with 3D printer – and it made me think.
Let me say first that I’m not going to get into the debate of whether it is right or wrong to be able to make a gun on a 3-D printer, and whether the blueprints should go on the internet or not. That’s a debate for other people to have, and as you know I try to avoid talking politics on this blog.
But what does intrigue me is the possibilities that the 3-D printer leads us to. The technology is only in its very early stages, however advanced it may appear to us today, and at the moment they can “only” build using plastics. Guns have been made, as have working engines and machines, so although the material is limited at present, the design capabilities are not. It’s a bit like mobile phones – ten years or so ago receiving a text seemed like an incredible leap forward, but it was in effect the transmission and receipt of a stream of one and zeros. Fast forward to today, we have smart phones that allow us to watch films, write emails, tap into the billions of pages of human knowledge on the internet, blog … and this is still the transmission and receipt of ones and zeros, albeit on a larger and quicker scale.
The future of 3-D printers will be one of sending solid goods from one place to another as simply as sending an email or downloading a film. Need a new tyre for your car? A new motor for your washing machine? A replacement kitchen stool for the one your child spilled paint all over? Ping! It’s been sent to your printer which can now create products using a variety of materials.
To anyone who lived as little as a hundred years ago, this is no different from a sorcerer magically making a solid object appear in a different place without touching or moving it. And that is how we see a scene in a sci-fi film where someone or something is teleported. Ok, sending a product to a 3-D printer isn’t teleporting per se as you are sending a copy, but look at it this way – if you write and send an email to another person’s inbox but don’t keep it in your sent items, then you have created something which you have then made disappear only to magically reappear somewhere else. That’s teleport right?
Stem cell research (and again I’m not getting into the politics or ethics) is advancing daily, and were are always hearing how scientists have created organs or body parts using them. A vision for you: One day in the (maybe not too distant) future, a store of our own stem cells is kept in order that if a heart or lung fails, or an accident leaves us needing a skin graft, it can be produced. But what if the store is in one country and we fall ill in another? The ones and zeros of the DNA make-up of that stem cell can be sent to a 3-D “printer” in the hospital where we are being treated, and an organ created.
A human body is more than the sum of its parts though, there is no chemical makeup, as far as we know, for the consciousness or the soul, or for thought or dreams. But if science is correct, then these are electronic pulses and impulses within the brain. A television is a collection of electrical components which themselves hold no pictures or sound, but plug in an aerial and switch it on and we can watch Buffy or the SuperBowl. The brain itself is an incredibly complex computer, but rather than being an argument that it is too complex to be replicated, this to me is definite proof that one day it WILL be replicated. We can build computers, just not one that clever. Not yet. And if we can create a brain then we can recreate – and logically therefore we can capture and store – its contents, its consciousness. If this does happen, if one or more organs could one day be zapped across the planet and a human consciousness, as in the case of Dave Bowman in Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, can one day converted to a series of ones and zeros, is it such a leap that an entire human being can be sent? Don’t save the person in the sent items and you’ve teleported a person from Earth to the bridge of the Enterprise.
Is this a distant but logical, inevitable step? A step far along a road which began with a computer program on magnetic tape, and passed through email and 3-D printers? If today we can print a gun, will we one day be able to print a gnu? Or am I getting carried away after watching the new Star Trek film?