I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Friday, 28 January 2011

"As I Live and Breathe" and "Childish Things: Prologue" (a.k.a. Meaningful Thinking and Shameless Eccentricity)

Hullo all!

It's me again. I'm in a rather chipper mood today and, what is more, I'm massively inspired. Inspired to show-off, that is.
The two pieces of writing that I'll be displaying today are quite an odd pair, but they share a unanimous focus on brooding about the state of society. Now I know that most of my work has a focus on brooding about the state of society but these two are special - one's a rhythmic feat (that's 'feat', not 'feet' as in 'iambic feet', for you metre maniacs out there) and one's an example of just how disturbingly odd I can be.

The first, as you may have guessed from my elaboration, is a poem entitled "As I Live and Breathe". This is technically the first proper poem I have written in 2011 (I know! WOWSERS!) and it's one of the few I'd happily put into my 'serious poetry' portfolio. It may be free-verse but I think it's suitably self-contained and, I hope, articulate. I'm afraid I have a tendency to write very 'garbled logic' poetry at times, but this is definitely one of the few in my steadily-growing poetry collection that is both neat and clear. However that is for you to judge and for me to sit quietly and hope for the best about.
Also, interestingly, this poem will be appearing on another upcoming website for the Sheffield Speakeasy Open Mic Night. I don't know exactly when it'll be up but be sure to check it out.

The second is a prose piece that I have been writing as part of a module to do with novel-writing. I knew that if I was going to write a novel it'd have to be about something that could sustain my interest and patience for long enough and this (touch wood) most certainly will. I envision it as a rehashing of a short text I wrote and uploaded on here before (see here) but with a bit more organisation of ideas and concepts. Hopefully you'll see this novel come into fruition in weeks to come. Until that time here is the prologue, half-written on my phone memo on the walk back from uni and half-written in my daybook after dinner. I wasn't quite certain of the voice (to be honest, I'm still not a 100%) but I think I've narrowed it down to a sinister-sounding gutter-dwelling cockney character. I don't know what kind of toy he could be yet though. Oh, didn't you know that this is about toys? Well, think about it is a sort of a mixture between the "Toy Story" trilogy and "Small Soldiers" but add in a lot more heavy shading. My aim is for you to never see your Attic in the same light again. Do tell me if it works.

Anyway, that's quite enough rambling out of me. Here are the goodies. Try not to scoff it all at once though; they're very rich...


AS I LIVE AND BREATHE

As I live and breathe
the days shake off
hours shake off
minutes, till the present
is a shading.

As I live and breathe
I thumb edges,
thumb the corners
of eras, grow fonder
of their dust.

As I breathe and live
years taller than
ever, taller than
never, stand the lines
ahead of us.

As I breathe and live
I slip into
slip into dusk,
and drink my dreams dry till
the last wink.


CHILDISH THINGS: PROLOGUE

There is an order to everything, even the Attic.
            It is a place where things are put away and forgotten about. It is a place of discarded junk. We’re all junk up here.
            On the surface of it, the Attic is a wasteland; a burial ground for useless trinkets and broken toys. Take a look.There is so little here. Take another look. There is so much here.
            Ask black-eyed Jack. He’ll tell you stories that’ll drain the juice from your batteries. Then he’ll steal them and pass on your body. Jack may live in a box, but he has contacts everywhere.
            Like old Straw-tail. He’ll make a nice ornament out of your plastic shell and display it on his shelf of pretty things. He has an artistic eye and a snout for the real thing, or so he says. He’d snap you up. Provided he can get his hooves around you, that is.
            Or Captain Spark. You hear that humming noise? Feel a bit warm when you’re near the far west corner? That’s the microwave. Somehow he’s got it out of the box and working. They pay him to melt down plastic for passing on. They say he keeps some of it aside for himself, for improvements. All I know is that he enjoys it; watching the gradual drip-drip-dripping, the big final splat.
            Then there’s Mother Hold-Me-Tight. You’ll be lucky to get her. She’s a den-mother of sorts, takes all the special ones in; the ones who don’t need batteries, the ones with some use left in them; and tucks them away in one of her boxes. Nice and neat.
            Of course, she doesn’t work alone. With all the specials she’s accumulated over the years, she needs a lot of help. We call them the Keepers and the Catchers. They betray their own for a very tidy fee. After all, we wouldn’t want all the specials slipping away and spoiling it for the rest of us now, do we?
            Mother has a favourite too. Private. No, that’s actually his name. He hasn’t been here long but he’s proving himself to be a very valuable asset. He’s a bit of a sad sack though, not to mention quiet. I don’t think he quite realises what’s going on, bless him. Ah well, no-one said that you have to be smart to be a good Catcher.
            But we’ll see what happens with him, eh? He’s not alone. Most of us up here can barely keep ourselves from screaming and running back downstairs. It’s just the way of things. Most of us learn to control our little panic attacks. You’re either strong or scared; and the scared ones always end up doing the stupid thing. It’s all about will up here in the Attic. Will and order. Like I said, everything has to have an order. It just has to.
            Now, piss off. I’m serious; I’ve got things to do. Run away. Oh, wait. Yeah. You can’t.


And that's about it for now. Oh, and I'll take this opportunity to advertise a friend of mine and relative newcomer to the blog-writing biz - Laura l'√©crivain. In fact, I'll go one better here's a link to her blog. When you get a mo, go over say hi.
But, when you're over there enjoying all the delightful poetry, do try not to forget about little ol' me. I get quite lonesome when you're not around...

Thanks for reading,

Mr. Pondersome

Sunday, 16 January 2011

"Going from St Ives" and "[FORGET ME]" (a.k.a. Messing with Riddles and Personal Experience)

Hullo all!

So, it's officially 2011. While most of you have had your minds and bodies reverted back to the daily grind, I've been enjoying a slightly extended Christmas break. Well, extended by two weeks actually.
But before I relinquish myself to the burning gazes and glared daggers, I have actually been doing something productive amidst all the general dossing around.
I have been working on and perfecting a pair of short stories to be exact, which, as any writer with sufficient experience in the genre will tell you, is no easy task.
The first - "Going from St Ives" - began with a rather well-known nursery rhyme riddle. As the title suggests I am referring to "As I was Going to St Ives" riddle. If you haven't seen it or even heard of it, here it is:

'As I was going to St Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
And every wife had seven sacks,
And every sack had seven cats,
And every cat had seven kits.


Kits, cats, sacks, wives,
How many were going to St Ives?'

Out of respect for both the sheer cleverness of the riddle and of course your own discriminating intelligence, I will not give away the answer. In fact the answer had nothing to do with the short story I wrote. Having read it again recently during a brain-teasing binge, I found my mind latching onto the set-up. The main question I had was 'Who is this mysterious man with seven wives?'. Having pondered that for a while I moved onto 'How common was it in the past for a man to have seven wives?' and 'Why would he have so many sacks filled with cats and kits?'. And then the story began to unravel.
Playing on an extract of the opening line, "Going from St Ives" is a tale of the man who met the traveller and what he did afterwards and, to an extent, what he did before. I shall reveal no more about what I did with this little endeavour other than saying that I answered some of the unspoken questions whilst even raising a few more.

"[FORGET ME]" is much more personal. At the risk of revealing a rather unappealing aspect of my personality, I will admit to you that I am a bit of a naive fool when it comes to achieving true romance. It seems that when the prospect of love comes along I catch it and force it into the constraints of internet communication. Let's just say that this hasn't worked out well for me in the past.
This is a short story about just how badly a romantic encounter over the computer can go wrong. Thankfully though, this is not all me in this tale; I have borrowed and (shamefully) nicked a few other examples I have heard about whilst also exaggerating a few of my own more memorable experiences. Also, for all my fellow tech-minded social networking enthusiasts out there, I have dropped in a few web colloquialisms. See if YOU can find them all!!!
Anyway, enough of the back-story, time to move ahead with the short stories themselves. I think I'm getting quite adept at the short story artform. I hope you agree. Either way I think I'll just keep pumping them out until something else comes up. I may keep making more even then, just for the hell of it. I'll shut up now...


GOING FROM ST IVES

The stranger took some time climbing the hill. Guy waited, watching the young fellow's back closely. Do not turn. Just over the hill now. Just a little further. No need to turn.
            "May we leave now?" Drusilla enquired exasperatedly.
            "Yes, dear, may we?" Anna lent in, raising one of her sacks. "The strays are starting to nip, little blighters."
            "And the sun is starting to fall." Christine chimed in.
            The gaggle of haggard women resounded their agreement.
            Marie rested a hand on her husband's arm, her fingers brushing his torn sleeve. "The job is done, my love. You said it was our time to leave."
            Guy raised a hand. Silence. Over the hill and gone. Splendid.
            He was a traveller, the stranger. A brave young lad destined for a distant town. The only things within his possession were the food in his satchel, the clothes on his back and eyes for the horizon. His words.
            The boy had nothing. Not a thing of worth. Their conversation had been short.
            He was simple in the head as well. He did not think to ask why they had no horses or a cart, why they were leaving with such haste. When one of the women (Drusilla, no doubt) mentioned the kits and how they were tearing up the sackcloth, the lad barely even batted an eyelid. His only interest was in how many each sack contained. Gormless child. If only those bloodthirsty fiends in St Ives had been half as naive.
            They had caught on immediately. Having discovered the state of the clerk and the spotless vaults, they knew that Guy was the man responsible. In all the ruckus he had barely enough time to gather the strays and mark out a safe path through the woods. The threats and the fire were very distracting, even for a man of his talent. Still, they had escaped and were making good time. At least that was until the stranger had stopped them with his inane conversation.
            And now this traveller was headed there; his fresh young face to be blasted with the ensuing pandemonium. Poor simple cretin. His stay would most certainly be short and uncomfortable, to say the least.
            "Guy, beloved?"
            He turned to Isabel. My name? How dare she be so impertinent!
            "Shall we go now?"
            "You did say that we should leave." Beatrice proclaimed.
            "My fingers are sore, dear husband." Emily muttered. One of her sacks was slipping through her fingers. The heaviest sack. The money sack.
            Guy glimpsed the horizon. The humble speck of a man was whistling away.
            "Yes." He spoke, "Yes, we are done here. We will be remembered."
            Snatching the sack from Emily, Guy strode on. The next town was a good long walk away but not far.


[FORGET ME]


NED says:

            Well, I guess that means it's over. Message received. Received loud and clear. Crystal clear. Understood. Except it isn't, is it?
            Yes, it is. Well, technically. She certainly gave it to me straight in that last email. I probably did something to annoy her.
            Probably? Just probably? My God man, you've been hounding her for months! I just wonder what it was: the straw that broke the camel's back. Not that she looks even vaguely like a camel, of course. She's not a stupid ugly animal. Well, maybe she is...
            No, she isn't! She's perfectly entitled to her own opinion. Her strong opinion. Her strong, rather blunt opinion. Her strong, rather blunt opinion that still kind of hurts.
            But why should it hurt? She has apologised. In a way. She's just getting stuff off her chest. That's what Mel does. That's what drew me to her in the first place. Anyway it's not like she's told me to piss off for good.
            Or maybe she has. 'I'd appreciate it if you deleted my phone number as well.' But we rarely communicated away from the computer!
            Hang on a minute, just hang on. Maybe it's not all that bad. I'll just check.

...

            Seems like she's blocked me. Her email account's gone, she's locked me out of her profile on all the main networking sites. That seems a little odd, doesn't it? I knew about the email thing but I never knew she could do that with the sites.
            Every trace of her is completely gone. I didn't know Melissa knew about that stuff.  Why would she even do it? I don't remember an argument. What did I say?
            I don't think I said anything particularly horrible. Surely she just has me mistaken. Mel has a tendency to get a bit over-defensive at times; she even admits it herself. If I've said anything it's probably somewhere in our Wall conversation archive. Let's check. Nope, that's gone too. Completely gone.

...

            How long has she been planning this? It all seems a little too orchestrated for my liking. And what's this? 'This whole thing has felt incredibly forced'? I never realised I was so unlikeable.
            Cow. Sneaky, conniving cow. A lying bitch too! 'Forced'? If it was so bad then why did you bother? Why did you think that lying and grinning and bearing everything was doing me a justice? I may be short and a little bit slow on the uptake but I will not be pitied!
            'Forced'. I thought I deserved better than pity. I am NOT a fucking lame dog! I'm a man!
            And a 'lecherous' man, according to madam. 'Lecherous' - what does that even mean? It's probably that webcam incident she's getting at. I apologised! It was late and I was horny, and she knows how lonely I can get. Besides, it's not as if she saw anything she hasn't seen before. Tart.
            Yes, she's had ALL the boys has our dear sweet Melissa. A virgin, she most certainly ain't. I'd have probably been another notch on her well-battered bedpost had we actually ever met up as I suggested. But no, the price was raised for me, too rich for me! Cold-hearted slag queen.
            She only ever graced me with her presence the one time. One time! That Tuesday in the city centre. That was all. Just her and me walking through the streets, not even holding hands. There was a breeze that drove a gap between us. She kept her distance. She stuck close to the shop windows. I remember how I almost lost her outside that big clothes outlet store near the end of the high street. She was ogling that dress. That long blue dress with the sequins running down the side in spirals. I remember thinking she'd look good in that dress.
            In fact, I think I told her. Didn't I? Probably. Yes. She smiled and laughed and smiled again. It might have been the same smile. Maybe. Normally they drain away quite quickly.
            Damn that smile. It made me a fool. It made me hopeful of a future with her. But it was all bollocks, wasn't it? She didn't really care. She only pretended.
            She had me going there for a long time though. Talk about endurance. It must have been a real pain in the arse. I hate her. I hate myself.

...

            It was me, wasn't it? Nudging and poking her all the time. If I hadn't been so eager she'd have probably forgotten me. I really didn't know how stupid I was being. And I was stupid.
            She barely knew me. The internet was...is my comfort zone and I guess I was too comfortable. She barely knew me and I kept on pushing her. When I push, the ugly stuff tends to seep out. I guess I'm just a difficult person at times.

...
           
            I have to face up to it. I'm a coward. That's why I'm on those sites every night, that's why I rarely ever go out. I'm a coward. A fucking wussy wimpy coward. The world scares me. I never really thought about it before but it actually scares me. It's the other people; all the work you have to put in to get anywhere with them. I need to grow up. I will grow up. I swear I will.
            But will I? Easier said than done, mate. I need time to recover, to get over this. I'm not quite right. I'm not quite me. I guess I still hurt a little.

...

            That damn bitchy whore. She's probably right. She probably knew from the start. I hate her, I really do. I don't want to be the deluded bastard in all this. I've always thought I was the mild-mannered good guy who's just waiting. Looks like I'm not though. No better than that tosser boyfriend of her's.
             Maybe I should do something. I still have her number AND her email address. I could do something! I could tell her, teach her that I'm not who she thinks I am. That I'm better than her. Make her feel bad. Bad about everything.
            No...No. Definitely not. Time to shut down the computer, turn away from the screen. I don't want to look at this...thing anymore. Not for a while, anyway.

MELISSA says:

            Thank God that's over with. John'll be happy now. I'm fucking ecstatic.
            Hopefully he'll get the message. So long, Ned. I've had enough of the crazy.
            I wonder how he'll react? He'll be okay, won't he?
            Meh. He'll get over it.
            I wonder if mum's done with the phone yet.


And there you have it. This is what I've been working on over the past week. Well, that and getting 100% on one of my Xbox 360 games (NOTE FOR GAMERS: Don't get excited. It's only "Destroy All Humans!: Path of a Furon"). Either way I feel that it's been pretty productive. Just think; when I'm officially back at uni, I'll be probably be knocking out this sort of stuff on a regular daily basis. Probably. Well, maybe.

Thanks for reading,

:) Owen :)