Thursday, 25 February 2016

Creators - Short Story no.2

Ariana lay back in the mid-morning sunshine, gazing at the bright, blue sky.
               “You should be careful,” said Ruben, beside her, “you’ll hurt your eyes.”
               “It doesn’t bother me,” she replied.
               “What doesn’t?”
               “The light. And anyway, the sun is so beautiful.”
               “Nah, it’s just a burning mass of helium, and one day it’ll go out, but I intend to make the most of its heat while it’s still there.”
               Ariana didn’t say anything. After a while Ruben rolled on to his side to look at her. He stroked her arm softly, but she continued to stare into the sky.
               “What you thinking?” Asked Ruben.
               “About stars going out. They last a long time, but like everything else they are destroyed and then remade as something else. Like those new stars.” She lifted a long arm and pointed to the sky.
               Ruben looked up. “What new stars, you can’t see stars in the day time, and even at night you need a telescope to see nebulas.”
               “You do,” said Ariana.
               “And you don’t, I suppose. You can see all the stars and watch them dying and being born.”
               “It’s all part of being a creator.”
               “I don’t understand you, sometimes,” said Ruben shaking his head and lying back down.
               “No, and that’s all right. You don’t have to understand everything you know. Not knowing is wonderful too. It means you can still be filled with wonder.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Thoughts on being an EFL groupie

This week at PGL I have been a group leader for 63 Italians and their teachers. As with all groups it’s much easier when they listen, do what you ask and are generally polite, which this group was, but this week has extra fun. Even though I couldn’t get to know the young people really well because of the language barrier we have had some great moments playing games, singing (indoor campfire - it was too cold outside apparently), dancing (disco went on a long time), teaching them some English words and trying to learn some Italian. In the end I think my list of words stretches to:
     Tavolo (Table)
     Sedia (Chair)
and an Italian tongue twister that a couple of girls taught me, which goes like this:
     Supra la panca la capra campa
     Sutto la panca la capra crepa
which, translated into English, is something about goats and benches (I think like all tongue twisters it's nonsense, but they were struggling to explain it to me).

The strangest thing to get my head around is that they're basically the same as any other English group. They listen to the same music, wear similar clothes, play table tennis and table football, lose stuff on buses (like mobile phones and passports - we got them back) and laugh at you when you mispronounce their names. It's just that conversation is limited to a few words (they did get better over the week) and many hand gestures. Still I'll miss them, for a little while at least. 


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Creators - Short Story no.1

James was running hard, his shoes slapping against the pavement erratically. He turned around corners and disappeared up dark streets, silent in the late hour. Every now and then he would hear other feet and shouts and occasionally a siren would whirr, but he kept running. His heart beat fast with the exertion and fear.
               Suddenly a figure leapt from the shadows and grabbed his jacket. “Gotcha, stand still, this is the police,” the man said from behind.
               James instinctively shot out his left arm, directing it towards the feet of the man. Immediately green shoots burst from the ground, wrapping around his feet and legs, tying him to the spot. James wriggled free from the policeman’s grasp and leaving him there he ran on again.
               Streetlights cast their orange glow on the tarmac and James dodged each one as best he could, warier than ever. More footsteps sounded behind him and he glanced over his shoulder to see two policemen chasing at a distance. Again James stretched out his arm and the ground came to life as long tendrils rose up, tripping the men and pulling them to the ground. James didn’t stop to watch.
               Further on he dived into a darkened doorway to catch his breath and consider his options. He needed to cross the river, but the bridge was risky. It was open and bright. Still, he couldn’t wait any longer. He darted out again, hugging the buildings for as long as he could. When he drew level with the bridge he ran out, ducking low and sprinting as fast as he could. The water rippled dully below him but James kept his eyes dead ahead. The end of the bridge drew nearer and then he was off it, turning left and running along the embankment. The road was narrow with a low wall on the river side and tall buildings on the other. Then ahead of him, hidden by shadows James saw a line of policemen, blocking his path. Immediately two police cars pulled out behind him, preventing retreat. James reached out both arms and charged. The ground literally writhed with plants growing up around the police line, then tuning he directed his attention at the two cars out of which more officers had arrived. They, too, quickly found themselves rooted to the spot.
               “Stop,” shouted a clear voice.
               James turned to see someone stepping from the line of policemen. He fired out his hand and shoots rose up, but this time they withered and fell back. Again James reached out but again the plants barely brushed the legs of this newcomer before falling away. James looked up to see the person remove her hat and long golden hair spill out around her shoulders.
               “No, not you,” he said breathlessly. Then darting forward, he grabbed the woman by the neck and pinned her to the wall.
               “Let her go,” called another voice, even higher and clearer than the woman’s.
               James looked around to see a girl, no more than twelve push through the line of policemen, still held fast to the ground. James stretched his hand towards her but once more the green shoots rose up and withered.
               “How is that possible,” James whispered.
               The girl pulled back her hood. She too had long golden hair and bright eyes that shone even in the dim light. James relaxed his grip on the woman and stared at the girl. The girl started back and James saw that her eyes were not the same as the woman’s but more closely resembled another’s he knew well.
               “Natasha,” he said, softly.
               The girl blinked and glanced at the woman who had collapsed to the ground. “Mother,” she said, her voice trembling slightly, how does he know my name?”
               “Because,” said James, stepping towards Natasha, who instinctively stepped away, “I know your mother and-”
               “No you don’t,” snarled the woman from the ground.
               James looked round as she pushed herself up and then ran at him catching his arm and pulling it back. He grimaced and looked around. His plants were beginning to relax and the police were fighting to free themselves.
               “The police are going to take you, James,” said the woman, still gripping his arm tightly.
               “Then they’ll be taking the wrong man,” he replied through gritted teeth.
               “It’s over, James,” she said, ignoring him and pushing him further back towards the river until his legs touched the stone wall. Over her shoulder he saw the first policeman break free and run towards him.
               “It’s never over,” he said, and suddenly wrapping his free arm around the woman he fell backwards over the wall, pulling her with him.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Italian Invasion

The Italians are back on centre, although sadly they haven't brought Mediterranean weather with them (the rain never stops, there's mud everywhere).
     It's funny noticing the differences between them and English kids. They're much more relaxed, in a typically continental kind of way, and instructions are definitely considered as guidelines, even when they can actually understand what they're being told to do. However, they are also very similar. They are as cheeky and arrogant as young people anywhere, but happily they make the same frightened noises when you send them on the zip wire.