Monthly Archives: September 2012

Weekly writing challenge: Stylish imitation

I thought I’d join the writing challenge this week, because I have been reading a lot of Jacqueline Wilson books to my son lately. She predominantly writes from the perspective of a child or young person, often with illustrations and “handwritten” diary entries. I have been trying to write some of my own life scenarios, but I often become stuck, frustrated, or bored when trying to describe them from my own viewpoint. Instead, I took a little snippet of an evening, and imagined it from my son’s perspective – obviously changing names to protect the not-so-innocent 🙂

*****

Dear Diary. Guess what Mum bought me? Yep. One of those Onesie lounge suits. It’s just like the ones babies wear, but they’ve got them for 11 year olds now. It’s dead warm and soft and even has feet. I’ve been wanting one since Sadie got a bright Pink one. I didn’t think a pink one would really suit me, so I never got one then. But Mum said they’ve started selling them again in Frescos. She got one for her with stars on it. Mine looks like a Union Jack and I would live in it if I could. It’s really comfy for gaming, although it’s a bit of a pain when I want a wee cos I have to take it all off.  Charlie’s gonna laugh his head off when he sees it.

*****

“Oh, for goodness sake, Ben!” Mum yelled as she snatched up my empty dinner plate off my bed.

“Sorry,” I said, as I did a 360 jump off the tower and fired a perfect head shot as I went. Yessss!

Mum made this weird, strangley type squeal and launched down towards the carpet at the end of my bed. She held up a scrunched up tissue and a plastic straw wrapper in her fist and shook it in my face.

“Rubbish!” she yelled, “On the floor!”

“Sorry,” I said, trying to sound more like I meant it this time. I crouched down and crept into the airport waiting room. Boom! Ten-kill streak! I’m on fire!

“You think I was put on this Earth to pick up after you?” Mum snapped.

I didn’t know if I was supposed to answer or not. Sometimes when I answer questions when Mum’s mad, it makes her madder. But while I was still thinking about it, she moved round to the side of my bed and leaned over.

“Oh look,” she said, sounding a bit calmer. “Fancy finding your clothes …. In a heap …. On the floor.”

Then she held up my trackies and T-shirt between her thumb and finger and just stood there, looking at me. I thought she looked a bit like I’m a Little Teapot, but I didn’t say it.

“Sorry,” I said.

Mum puffed out a loud sigh as she walked out and dumped my clothes in the washing basket on the landing. I planted a Claiborne on my way out to the plane sitting outside the terminal. Scallywag6 ran passed me and crouched down behind the luggage trolley, while I snuck up the steps onto the plane.

Mum stomped down the stairs to the kitchen. “Same old nonsense … every night.”

An enemy soldier made me jump as he came out of the aeroplane exit. We almost bumped into each other, but I was quick and whipped out my Bowie knife. Zip! Another one down.

Mum was still talking to herself. “Thanks, Mum. You’re the greatest! Oh, that’s OK, darling, don’t mind me. Just you carry on playing your very important game while I cater to your every need!”

The shadow in the cockpit was another enemy soldier. I could tell, because the writing over his head was red not green. Steady, Ben. Take your time. I crawled along the aisle until I had a good shot at him. He was picking up a care package, but I put a stop to that. Bam! Another head shot! Twelve-kill streak! Just one more for the Helicopter, and then it’s game over.

Mum came back in the room and leant over me. She spoke quietly now and kissed me on the head. “I’m going to bed now. Don’t stay up all night.” She looked at me laying on top of the bed in my Union Jack lounge suit. “Don’t you want to get under the covers?”

“No, my onesie’s really warm.”

“Well. I’ll see you in the morning then.”

“I love you, Mum.”

“I love you too, babe.”

She crossed the landing and shut her bedroom door behind her. I ran down the front steps of the plane onto the tarmac. Aaarghhh! Shot in the back! The Kill-cam showed my assassin was some wimp who’d been camping out in the control tower. This means War!

*****

“Ben! Charlie’s here!” Mum yelled from the bottom of the stairs.

I kind of heard her, but her voice drifted off back into my dream and I fell back to sleep.

“Ben!”

This time, Mum was in the room. I know she pulled the curtains open, because the colour behind my eyelids turned from black to light brown. I scrunched up my eyes and looked out. Mum was standing over me.

“Come on, Ben. Charlie’s here. It’s halfway through the afternoon already.”

Charlie stood behind my Mum, grinning. He waited until Mum went back downstairs.

“Nice pyjamas, mate,” he said.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

They DO exist! Wee beasties #61 – Grasshopper

I have not seen a Grasshopper for years! Their absence has been noted on more than one occasion around my local area, and to be honest, I haven’t seen one since I was a child. They used to be seemingly everywhere when I was young – often heard before they were seen – and something to chase through the field until disappearing into a bunch of stinging nettles. (I can still feel the blisters as I think about it).

I have memories of them being a common sight when I was a younger girl. Granted, I haven’t spent a lot of time in England during my adulthood, but I have been around for the last ten years, and I haven’t spotted a single one. Is it a Yorkshire thing? Or are they dwindling in numbers in other areas too? I’ve actually wondered, more than once, if they were becoming extinct.

Until today! I just stumbled across this rather crusty looking character while I was on blackberry-picking expedition. He’s not the sleek green version I remember from days of yore, and he looks like he’s had a pretty tough paper round . . .

but a Grasshopper is a Grasshopper.

At last!

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Bug-a-day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

You never know ….

(Picture borrowed from http://www.theminimalists.com/helping/)

Most people of a certain age in England will remember having to study J.B. Priestley’s play “An Inspector Calls” in English class.

In short, the play is a three-act drama that focuses on a well-to-do Victorian family, and their response to a visit from a Police Inspector during the course of a single night. The Inspector is investigating the suicide of a young, working-class woman after she drank strong disinfectant. Over the course of the play, it becomes apparent that each and every member of the family had some experience with the young woman. The Inspector’s interrogation leads the audience to believe she had been fired from jobs without reason, she had been used as a mistress and rejected when she became pregnant, and she had been turned away when she had asked for help.  Each of these interactions in isolation could have been managed, but instead, each negative experience increased her feelings of rejection, humiliation, and ostracism, and caused her to eventually take her own life.

Today, as I learned only a few hours ago, is World Suicide Prevention Day , co-sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.

An extract from the IASP website notes: . . . approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. Suicide attempts and suicidal ideation are far more common; for example, the number of suicide attempts may be up to 20 times the number of deaths by suicide. It is estimated that about 5% of persons attempt suicide at least once in their life . . .

Some of you will know that I’ve been on the brink myself (I wrote about it here and here . . . oh, and I felt a bit like it here too).  Some of you will also know that I have undergone struggles with my mental health. But don’t be fooled into thinking that people with recognised mental health difficulties have the monopoly on suicidal ideation. Stressors are everywhere, and they can affect anyone of any age in any country. How we respond to those stressors and our ability to cope in stressful situations plays a large part in whether the stresses of life will eventually get the better of us.

Speaking only for myself, on the days when I have been closest to the brink, there has generally been a series of events that led to my eventual meltdown. Granted, there was probably some underlying, seemingly massive issue – financial problems and relationship struggles mainly. But it was the little, poxy, throwaway incidents that sent me over the edge . . . The “friend” who needed to “catch the [24-hour!] supermarket before it closes” for a loaf of bread, when I started to tell her how I was feeling; the cashier who wouldn’t look up at me when he handed me my change; the woman on the bus who put her bag on the seat next to her to stop me from sitting there; the mental health worker who would have been happy to talk to me, but she was on a lunch break; the shopper who grabbed all four reduced-price pizzas as I reached for one of them; and the bus driver who drove off without me, despite me banging on the door as he pulled away.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that any one of those people would have been directly responsible for my death had I subsequently succeeded in achieving it later that day. But I am suggesting that any one of them could have acted more kindly and, in the process, I may have been able to waylay the build-up of angst that was slowly spiralling out of control.

Today, I made a point of saying hello to anyone who met my gaze. It took a couple of seconds at most, and very little effort, but it was worth it to seeing the softening of an elderly lady’s face when she gave me a rather surprised smile in the cloudy dampness of the morning rush hour.

Priestley’s play brings to light the fact that each individual family member is partially responsibly for the young woman’s suicide, and the family as a collective is completely responsible for her death. And while Priestley’s primary intent was to espouse socialist objections to the inequalities of the British social class system, his message, as relayed by the Inspector is universal: “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”

So when you are out and about, consider your actions towards others:

Offer a smile, lend a helping hand, give up five minutes of your time, ask the unusually quiet person if they are OK, and take a moment to listen to their answer.

Be responsible.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

WPC: Near and far

Finding pictures for this challenge was not as easy as I initially thought it would be. For the most part, when incoporating two elements on different planes, the tendency is for one to be in focus and the other to be a bit blurry.

Like the first of these:

But I did find a couple or three that do fit the bill a bit more closely.

All of them, I might add, were taken on the rockpooly, sandy beaches around Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland – a most excellent place to visit.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post: Reflection

Jake’s set another challenge for the week.

This time it’s about Reflections.

As it happens, I took a lot of pictures in that disused building that was featured in the “Urban” challenge. The building was an old two storey factory (I think) from the days when this village, and those around us, had a thriving coal-mining industry. However, the roof has collapsed in many areas -although the obvious structural dangers don’t seem to deter the local artists from entering and leaving their mark on the place.

We have had a LOT of rain in the North of England this “Summer” (cough!), and standing water is a common feature in most areas, including this building. And with water comes reflections …

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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