Welcome to my Blog

This blog contains a mixture of creative writing and a few declarative statements. I hope you enjoy reading these. Grown up comments are welcome.

All Text Copyright © 2011-2017 Philip Wilson
http://returntothemarketplace.blogspot.com/. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Just a brief post to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

I'm still writing, busy working on a piece featuring Mephistopheles (sorry, no spoilers!); you'll have to wait for 'Volume 2: Red' from Cafe Three Zero to find out more.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

I'm e-published!

Since finishing a short creative writing course with the Open University I've kept in touch with several e-friends that I met on the forums. Throughout the course we provided mutual encouragement, reading and criticising each others efforts, and I found this strangely intimate interaction to be the most valuable part of the course. Thirty of us have kept in touch and formed an e-publishing group, Cafe Three Zero. Last week our first collaboration, a collection of 23 short stories was published. It's called 'Tales From the Cafe: Vol 1' and is available on Amazon's Kindle store and at Smashwords.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006584WHS

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/103508

Of course the moment you release something you can see loads of things you wish you'd done better. I suppose that is an inevitable, and a refreshingly welcome part of the creative process; evolution in action.

To find out more go to http://cafethreezero.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Johnny Boy Would Love This

Anyone who loved John Martyn and his music will love this tribute album.
John Martyn Tribute: Johnny Boy Would Love This Album Cover
Just saying.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Wounds

This is a piece of work that I did for my OU Course (A174-11E)

‘Just speak clearly into this.’
‘What, this?’
TAP, TAP
‘Yes. Just speak clearly.’
‘What would you like me to say?’
‘Just tell me what you remember. Tell me about the war.’
#
The steady drone of the Dakota’s engines combined with the high-pitched rush of its slipstream to make conversation in the glider difficult. Members of the British 6th Airborne Division sat facing each other either side of the Horsa’s fuselage. Some of them had seen action in Normandy and some were facing action for the first time; all were deep in thought, imagining how it would be. When the towline was cut and the drone flew away, for a few moments it was almost quiet as the glider lined up for landing. Then the antiaircraft fire began.
Harry turned to Charlie; he was scared.
‘Am I going to die, Charlie?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Will you look after me, Charlie?’
‘I’ll try to, Harry.’
Benny laughed; he was the youngest member of the division, and was huddled in a ball on the other side of Charlie. His laugh was frantic, born of fear and bravado; he had yet to face action. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ Benny said. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re brave or not, or good or bad, of clever or stupid. When the fighting starts you just keep going. If you’re hit or not it doesn’t matter.’
‘It matters to me,’ said Charlie.
Benny didn’t say anything else. He just stared at his feet. His arms shook.
Then the Brigadier turned to his men. ‘OK chaps, we’re going in. Link arms. Feet up.’
Their stomachs lurched as the flaps lowered and the glider dropped. When it hit the ground it scraped forward over grass and fields until the landing gear snagged on some barbed wire and the glider swung around sharply to the left and lurched to a standstill. The men could hear machine gun fire and muffled explosions outside. The village and the enemy were near.
‘Right. Let’s get going men. Last one out buys the beers.’
#
‘And what happened next, Charlie?’
‘I remember smoke and haze. The village and surrounding area had been heavily bombed the week leading up to our drop. Most of it was reduced to rubble. It was hard to imagine how anyone could be left alive. But Gerry was everywhere . . . we had to cross this market square to take out their heavy gun positions. Harry caught one in the leg, but he carried on fighting. What else could he do? Anyone who slowed down or stayed still was an easy target and ended up dead.’
‘Was Harry OK?’
‘He was fine. We managed to find cover and we carried on to take out the enemy guns.’
‘And Benny. What happened to Benny?’
SILENCE.
‘Was Benny OK?’
LONG SILENCE.
‘Charlie?’
‘Can I have a glass of water. Please?’
#
Taking the village had cost them dear. Now the fighting was over and bodies were left in the streets and around the market square. Medics and stretcher-bearers had arrived and were sorting the living from the dead. Charlie just sat down in the road. A medic approached him.
‘Smoke?’
No answer.
‘Would you like a cigarette?’
‘Oh . . . OK. Yes, thanks.’ Charlie accepted the cigarette and the light, and then he inhaled deeply.
‘Are you OK?’
Charlie didn’t reply.
‘How do you feel?’
For a long while Charlie just stared at the ground. Then he coughed and looked up at the medic. ‘I’m OK. I’m not in any pain.’
Charlie adjusted his position, leaning back against the curb and stretching out his leg. ‘All this . . . ‘ He waved his arm around in a broad sweep. ‘All this . . .’ Charlie’s voice quietly imploded. The medic sat down beside Charlie and put his arm on Charlie’s shoulder.
Charlie pointed to a mess of burnt flesh across the road. ‘See that boy over there? I look at him and I feel nothing. I know I should, but I don’t.’
‘Were you hit?’
‘No. But my pal Benny was. He caught it in his guts, and they spilled out and he screamed.’
‘Were you close?’
‘Benny was right in front of me. If he hadn’t been it would have been me lying there dead.’
‘Had you known him long?’
‘He was ripped apart, right there in front of me, and I didn’t care.’
Charlie’s eyes were wide open and his face was strained, as if he were trying to force tears out. But they didn’t come. The end of Charlie’s cigarette had reach his fingers but he didn’t notice.
#
‘He was only a boy.’
FWOP, FWOP, FWOP.
‘Hold on Charlie. I need to turn the tape over.’
KER-CLUNK . . . . CLINK, CLICK . . . . . TAP, TAP.
‘OK Charlie, you can carry on now.’
SILENCE.
‘Charlie?  . . . You OK Charlie?’
‘He was just a boy.’
#
A combat clearing station had been set up in and around an old manor house that was still more or less standing at the far edge of town and relatively safe beyond the range of enemy artillery. As transportation was still limited, and the nearest military hospital was the other side of the Rhine, the clearing station had to start treating those who needed it. All around the wounded waited; nurses moved between them, tending those they could and identifying those they could not. In the basement there were makeshift operating theatres, where surgeons worked without rest in the hot, dusty space. On the ground floor soldiers who had been treated and were now stable were left to recover. Despite being full it was a relatively quiet place. Everyone was too exhausted to moan let alone talk.
All around the house were gardens and beyond them fields and a wood. A few recent shell-holes marred the lawns. If you ignored these and looked away from the house and across the lawn and into the trees, and if you could ignore the distant sounds of explosions and gunfire, you could almost forget the war. Charlie was sitting on a bench at the back of the house. He stared into the distance and didn’t say much to anyone. A tall man on crutches approached him.
‘Hello Charlie.’ It was Harry. At first Charlie didn’t notice him. Harry sat down beside Charlie. ‘How are you?’
Charlie slowly turned his head. He continued to stare over Harry’s shoulder, still looking at nothing in particular in the far distance. ‘I can’t find my rifle,’ Charlie said. ‘I don’t know where it is.’
‘It doesn’t matter Charlie. You don’t need it now.’
Charlie didn’t react.
‘I wanted to thank you Charlie. You looked after me. You saved my life.’
‘I did?’ he said. Charlie looked directly at Harry for the first time, and his eyes focused on Harry’s face. ‘Harry?’ he said.
‘Yes, Charlie. And you saved my life.’
Charlie was confused. ‘Did I? How did I do that?’
‘Don’t you remember? I got shot in the leg trying to get across that market square.’ Harry gently tapped the brown stained bandages that covered his left thigh. ‘I tried, but I couldn’t go on. That bastard on the roof had me in his sights. There was no cover and I was sure I was finished. Then you came back. You could have left me but you came back. You threw me over your shoulder and you ran with me to reach cover at the far side of the market square.’
Charlie slowly nodded.
‘Then you and Benny and a couple of other chaps worked your way forward and you lobbed grenades at the big machine gunners and you took them out. And then you came back and picked me up again. It was then that Benny bought it. As he ran toward us. Right there in front of us. Oh God. Don’t you remember?’
Charlie had resumed his position looking straight ahead into the trees in the distance. He was very quiet. He didn’t sob. He didn’t blink. But tears ran freely down his face.
#
‘I’m tired. Can we stop now?’
‘Are you sure you wouldn’t like to carry on just a little while. This is really important.’
‘No. I’m tired. I’d like to stop now.’
‘We could take a break. Have some tea.’
‘No. I’d like to stop.’
‘OK Charlie; you’re the boss. After all, it’s your story.’
CLICK.


Friday, 29 July 2011

Ancestors

I have a rubber duck radio with it's tail permanently tuned to Radio 4 that I listen to in the bath. Recently, as I lay among the bubbles I heard part of a programme from Africa selected for 'Pick of the Week'. I got out, towelled myself dry, and wrote this as part of my OU Start Writing Fiction coursework.  

Every time I hear the drums I start to sweat and get stomach cramps. I hear my ancestors calling me. Our tradition requires a representative from each generation to become a Sangoma, a spiritual healer. Now I feel it is my obligation. My ancestors want me to take the place my mother refused. I feel my past clawing at me. But I do not want this. My name is Normazo, which means struggle in Zulu, and I am true to my name.
‘Mother,” I asked, just before she died. ‘Why did you not become a healer?’
‘Take care daughter,’ she said. ‘Some dreams are not true dreams. If the spirit that gives you your dreams is a roaming spirit, and not a family spirit, that spirit can lead you astray. Healing is not for me. I refuse.’
Who can help me now? Who can I turn to? Perhaps only another Sangoma will have the answers.
So today I’ve come to see Makosi Gugu, our village’s chief healer. She is full of energy. She has big breasts and wears beads and unspeakable things to braid her hair. These jingle every time she moves her head.
‘I help you,’ she says, all loud and confident. ‘We ask the ancestors. They will tell us. They will show us.’
As we approach Makosi Gugui’s sacred healing hut there is drumming and singing from her followers. These rhythms help summon the ancestors; their song is about the bad luck you bring on yourself if you do not accept them. The drums have a strong affect on me. I feel sick and sweaty. Makosi Gugu’s granddaughter joins us; she is training to become a Sangoma. She stares at me with cold eyes as if we are starting a race that she wants to win.
Inside, the hut is hot and dark, and I taste power. The Makosi sits on a large chair with her granddaughter on the floor beside her.  I sit on a stool in front of them. As my eyes adjust to the dark I see lined up behind them many bottles containing medicinal Muti; herbs, seeds, oats, soil, pieces of bone, and the feet of chickens. The air is dry and smells of earth. I feel faint.
Makosi Gugu talks loudly to her granddaughter but I can barely hear her.
‘She’s not herself,’ I hear her say. ‘It’s the ancestors coming to her. Somebody in her family, her mother, or grandmother, or somebody, is supposed to take this job. Now she has to take the ancestors, but she don’t let them in.’
Then I pass out and don’t remember anything until I wake up being cradled by Makosi Gugu in the bright daylight outside the hut.
‘What happened,’ I ask.
‘The spirits,’ she says. ‘Your ancestors came. They give you a good hiding. This is no joke Normazo. You become healer or you get sick like your mother.’
I hear the drums and feel their rhythm. I feel my ancestors winning.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Canada

I'm just back from two weeks visiting family and friends in Ontario. I've returned with a tan and some peeling skin, and a dead camera containing water from Hailstorm Creek at Lake Ogeongo, and minus a credit card, a debit card and an iPhone 4 (32GB) and some C$. The subtractions follow a theft of my property from the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, and I won't be going there again - ever. Fortunately the positive side more than balances the negatives.

It was great to meet up with our extended family again (last visit 2008). We stayed in Sharon, near Newmarket. We were part of an 84th birthday celebration. We drove around in a hired Lincoln MKS. We spent a few restful days at the Fairy Bay Guest House near Huntsville. We went canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park. We saw the musical Camelot in Stratford. We visited the McMichael Collection at Kleinberg, where we were introduced to the work of Marc-Aurèle Fortin for the first time. We visited the Art Gallery of Ontario and saw some wonderful work of William Kurelek (among others). We had dinner at the Lobster Trap in Toronto. We were in Toronto on its hotest day on record (37.9c) and we kept our cool on an open-top double-decker bus tour and a ferry ride on Lake Ontario.

Back home our 17 year old cat remains miffed that we dared to go off without him, but I think he will forgive us in time.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Way

This weekend I saw Emilio Estevez's movie The Way. It's a sweet film, running a little over 2 hours, about a father's journey along the Camino de Santiago carrying the ashes his estranged son (who was killed in an accident at the start of the Camino) and walking along with three companions that attached themselves to him en route. The film was written and directed with the love of a son (Estervez) for his father (Martin Sheen) and this quality shines through. It's a smart, restrained film. It is shot using the simple TV dimensions of widescreen rather than going for full cinemascope, allowing he camera to focus on the human details rather than the landscape. When we first meet the companions they come across as irritating (especially James Nesbitt's character, Jack) but the four subtly develop the transient but intense friendships that pilgrims so often share. I read somewhere that Estervez had the Wizard of Oz in mind when he wrote the screenplay, and this fits well with what we get (thankfully no Munchkins or Wicked Witches or dogs). The Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy, the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City are all there to an extent.

The music suffers slightly from being so popular and familiar (I don't need to buy the soundtrack album as most of the songs are already on my iPod) and the selections are just a tad corny given their context. Perhaps this was intended, juxtaposing American and European sensibilities.

The ending was perfect. I found the film thoughtful and moving, and I warmly recommend it.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tuesday evenings can be so dull (you've got to start somewhere)

So look. Here I am trying to get some information on who was present at the opening of Tutankharmun's tomb for a story I'm working on when I come across this blog that's well written and hosted by the google family, and, having a google ID, and being the sort of person who is ever so easy to distract, I find I can easily create my own blogspot. So I have.

This might be a good idea or it might be rubbish.