Tuesday, 30 September 2014

First Dance

Two pairs of shoes meet on a polished floor. One pair dark, the other almost hidden but gleaming softly. They twitch nervously and smile, then they are still.

Other shoes gather around the edge of the floor and watch in quiet awe as the two pairs begin to tap with small steps, growing in confidence. Above them knees bend, hands meet and shoulders sway, but the shoes are doing the talking now.

The music swells and the shoes leap into new found life, twisting and shaking with joy, bringing a cheer from the onlookers. Then they meet again in the middle and it's like no one else is there.

The shoes keep time and seem to know each other so well. To the others they are almost a blur and it's hard to tell if there are two pairs or one crossing the floor.

Dance away and dance away, and those shoes will bring you home with joy in the morning.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Student 37

We never met Student 37. He did exist, we heard him, but we never saw him, or at least not properly. We also never learnt his real name and so we referred to him by his room number. Steve says he nearly saw him one night as he came back from the kitchen but it was almost completely dark and Student 37 had his hood up. As soon as he heard Steve coming he dashed back into his room.
            We met his parents one day when they came to visit. We said hello and I was about to add ‘How’s Student 37?’ but caught myself in time, and anyway they left quickly.
            We knocked on his door and left him notes, sliding them through the gap, but there was never any reply. When we were bored we’d draw out pictures of what we thought he might look like.  Sometimes we decided he looked basically human but other times he was drawn as some kind of freakish monster with two heads or a tail.
            Steve had a girlfriend, but when we told her about Student 37 she wouldn’t come round any more because she was afraid he was spying on her. Occasionally we got other mates to visit but either they didn’t believe us or just felt freaked out and wouldn’t come back, so generally our flat was very quiet, which I guess is how Student 37 liked it.

The first few days we just thought he was incredibly shy and then we wondered if there wasn’t anyone in there at all, but after a while we were certain we’d heard noises. We came up with almost every possibility: he was a criminal, he was an undercover detective and one of us was a criminal, he was a spy, he was doing some complex scientific experiment, he was part of a scientific experiment but had escaped.
            The best idea we thought up was that he had a serious form of ME.
            ‘What’s that?’ Pete asked.
            ‘Err… oh what does it stand for?’ said Steve, who had suggested it.
            ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,’ I said.
            ‘Eh?’ replied Pete, ‘how do you get ‘ME’ out of that?’
            ‘No, CFS is just the general term, I can’t remember what ME stands for either, something long and complex no doubt.’
            ‘So, tiredness basically,’ said Pete.
            ‘Yeah, but an extreme version,’ I said, ‘no strength to move, pain, headaches and just the constant need to sleep, but without it ever refreshing you.’
            ‘I think I’ve got that,’ said Pete.
            ‘No Pete,’ said Steve, ‘you play rugby three nights a week, you definitely don’t have ME.’

At the end of the year he left, late one night. We were all around but still none of us saw him. He left his door unlocked so we went in. The room was clean and bare apart from the furniture. We hunted round for any clues that might tell us something about him but what we found instead was a note he’d left for us.
Sorry I never saw you, but thanks for putting up with me. You were right, I am a spy.

Pete laughed, ‘he’s joking right?
            I shrugged, ‘who knows?’

Monday, 22 September 2014


63 light years from Earth there's a planet where it rains glass sideways, in 7000km/h winds.
This is an unbelievable piece of human knowledge (of course it could be made up, I personally have no way of knowing, although I found out through QI and they generally know their stuff). Anyway, taking it as true, to know this fact blows my mind. How can we possibly know that?!
     As far as I can tell it is a useless fact, except possibly pointing to a creator of this vast universe, but it also suggests to me that the human race is now struggling to come up with anything remotely helpful. To be fair we have discovered and invented just about everything we need to live healthy, happy lives, it's a pity though, that such a small percentage of the world has access to such discoveries and inventions.
If all the world's gold was divided equally among the population, we'd each get £589's worth.
There's another fact for you, although this one was true a few months ago and the world's population has increased since then. It makes no odds (obviously) but I wouldn't want the gold anyway, it is as useless to me as the fact. This world isn't run on gold any more, despite what our bank notes still say.
     Some people still try to run their own lives on money, but I prefer to run mine on friends, on the people I talk to. They do a better job of keeping me alive.
By the way, did you know that in 2007, 170 Swiss troops accidentally invaded Liechtenstein after getting lost on a training exercise. Honestly, humans, we're astounding.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lines From Literature

I am currently reading The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, a classic novel set mostly on board a small yacht off the coast of Germany, and I came across this wonderful sentence:

"After much shaking of scaly hands, we sculled back to the Dulcibella, where she slept in a bed of tremulous stars."

This set me thinking about other such beautiful and fantastic lines that I have come across. So I have compiled a few of my favourites for you to enjoy!

There are the superb opening paragraphs of Dickens' novels, the best of which, I believe belongs to Great Expectations:

"My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip."

Then there are those that carry the essence of a whole book, such as that in Catch 22 by Joseph Heller:

"Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. "That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

Or in simpler terms:

"He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt."
There are wise words, such as this line from Tolstoy's War and Peace:
"We can know only that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom"
And then there are those when I just stop reading to delight in the beauty of the language.
John Steinbeck opens The Grapes of Wrath with:
"To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth."
But my favourite comes from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A summer of cricket

Sunlit days

 And floodlit nights 

Testing conditions

And dramatic delights.

Samit batting

And bowling

And the fresh, clean whites.

 New sites

And beautiful sights,

That's it for another year.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Something to live for

This is something of a cheat post, because I am pointing you in the direction of a different article, but I thought it was worth posting.

The title is "Isil's Western converts are not motivated by Islam. They are motivated by boredom." The article points out that many people joining Isil are not necessarily the ones you would expect and that often they are doing it because the western way of life no longer offers them something to live for, or indeed to die for.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Character Study

A writing challenge I set myself. Enjoy!

My name is Jasper Curic. Beside me right now are Rowan Moritz, his twin sister, Rose, and Erin Loven. We have decided to write our story and after much deliberation it has been agreed that we will take it in turns to tell it from our own perspectives.
     To begin with, though, we will tell you about ourselves, but to make it more interesting each of us will write about one of the others. So here is my description of Rose Moritz:
     When I first met Rose she was in the process of winning an argument (or so she claimed) with her Dad. This involved her slamming the front  door and marching past me as I was walking up the garden path. She has long strides for someone who is not particularly tall, and she runs fast, although not gracefully. “Hi, you must be Jasper,” she said loudly as she passed. This, I have discovered, sums Rose up quite well. She is bold and brave (most of the time) and is not afraid of standing up for herself, which probably comes from having a twin brother and a mother who ran off with some guy who was in the army when Rose was only five. Sometimes she can be a bit rash but, once I got to know her, I discovered that she cares very much for all her friends and I would trust her with my life.

*          *          *

Hi. I’m Erin. I’ve had to leave the others and come and sit on the windowsill to write this. They were distracting me. I will tell you about Rowan.
     Rowan Moritz is the kind of person who within five minutes you feel as though you’ve known for years. He seems to be friends with everyone he meets and I guess this has something to do with the way he always has time for you and always listens to what you have to say. He has dark hair, like Rose, and dark eyes that sparkle when he laughs, which happens regularly. I guess he’s quite outgoing, although sometimes he tries to duck out of things and he can also be a bit forgetful. Going fishing on his Dad’s boat is one of his favourite things to do, despite nearly drowning when he was nine.

*          *          *

This is Rose. I’ll keep this brief cause I’m sure you’d much rather read about the story. Having said that, Erin, who I’m about to introduce, is amazing.
     Erin Loven is definitely the most sweet and lovely person I know. She has this wonderful, trusting nature and she likes to think about everything. She learnt to dance when she was younger and now she seems to sort of float everywhere in her long, beautiful skirts. She’s about the same size as me, but with light brown hair and soft eyes, which make all the boys melt, although genuinely I don’t think she’s even aware it half the time.

*          *          *

And I’m Rowan. I’m afraid this won’t be so well written, I never have been as good with words. Mostly I leave that to J, and now I have to write about him.
     Jasper Curic is an interesting guy. He likes exploring and finding out about things and doesn’t really mind what anyone else thinks about him. Some people might say he’s ‘well educated’ and I suppose he is knowledgeable and he always seems to have the right words, but that hasn’t stopped him getting in to trouble at times. In fact our story starts at the moment J arrived in Winmouth, and really it’s him we have to thank for having a story at all.