All posts by Ray Stearn

Val J. Chapman, It Flickered and Shone

 

James Nash was with us for our August Workshop, the writers were asked to write a piece then go back to it in the workshop and edit it. I have included both drafts from our talented secretary, Val so you may see how work can develop.

Ray Stearn, Chair, TCWG

 

‘It Flickered and Shone’

 

(First Draft)

It lit up my life, as I read by its light

Under the covers, in the darkness I lay

Until the noise was gone

Only then did I switch it on.

 

It lit up the pages, the print of the ages

The torch in my young hand

My guilty pleasure.

 

And then I heard a footstep land

And my Mum say “Val, are you asleep?”

“Yes, Mum”, I said, and shook my head.

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

(Second Draft)

I lay there in the darkness until the noise was gone.

Only then did I switch it on.

It lit up my life, as I read by its light.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.

 

It lit up the pages, the print of the ages.

The torch in my hand, until I heard a footstep land.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.

 

Under the covers, in darkness I lay

Until I heard my Mum say

“Val, are you asleep?”

“Yes, Mum”, I said, and shook my head.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.

 

© August 2021                                                                                                  Val J Chapman

September Workshop with Seamus Kelly

Our September workshop will be held at Touchstones on Thursday 2nd September between two and four

 

Seamus is calling the workshop

 

The Vanity of  Small Differences

 

and it is based around the Grayson Perry exhibition currently at Touchstones.

you are all welcome to attend in person and we will also be Zooming the workshop at the same time. Secretary Val will send details of the Zoom log in later this week to all members. If you are not a member of TCWG but would like to join us via Zoom send me a message here

Ray Stearn, Chair, Touchstones Creative Writing Group

Response to Painting by Kathleen Proctor

 

 Response to Painting

Interior in Standgarde : Sunlght on the Floor by Vilhelm Hammershoi

 I sit at my desk, about to begin writing the letter that I know will affect my life.            The sun streams in through the window but its warmth cannot touch me.                        My heart is cold and I know that what I am about to do is unforgivable. Yet it has to be, it is inevitable now, I cannot turn back, cannot do the right thing.                                 So, I close my mind to the consequences of my actions, to all the hurt I am about to unleash on someone who deserves better, better than me, someone who can feel sympathy, not this empty vessel that I have become.                                                            Guilt is my permanent companion but this is my choice, my decision, my doing.                                         I pick up the pen and begin to write.

 Response to  Painting “Six Tailors” by  Lubaina Hamid

It was booked as a Creative Craft session, the first in the Rehabilitation Programme devised by the powers that be to make sure that all the government boxes were ticked and signed off.It was only open to those with a record of good behaviour or in reality those who were astute enough to give the illusion of being amenable, and ready to embrace change, of which I was one I was adept at subterfuge, knew the right noises  to make, said all the right things, toed their line.                                                       Actually it was popular only because it afforded us an hour out of our cell, we had nothing to lose. We were resentful when we saw the task, we were completely unused to this activity This was  not Man’s work!                                                                                  We expected to saw or hammer or use our strength, not this mindless waste of our strength or abilities. We were clumsy, useless, unable to follow simple instructions, could not cut out a simple shape or thread a needle, we were not made for delicate tasks.

We were hard, powerful men, now reduced to sheer incompetence, being unable even to thread a simple needle.                                                                                                             I fail every time. I do not like it. My fingers itch.                                                                 The scissors tempt me; they are sharp, lethal and well within my reach.

 Response to Painting “The Jungle” by  Wilfredo Lam.

The Faces stare at me. I try to look away but I am mesmerised, forced to watch.

They are mocking me, laughing, I cannot bear the raucous sound they are making, taunting and deriding me.                                                                                                            I close my eyes but the imprint is etched on my brain, menacing, grimacing, contorted.

They move closer in unison, threatening, hostile, weapons clenched, waiting to be unleased on to my defenceless feeble body.

The outlines merge, become fused, a congealed mass of vicious intent.

I can no longer function, I am annihilated. Obliterated, reduced to nothing.

I close my mind and await the end.

©Kathleen Proctor 13th August 2021

 

 

 

Ray Stearn I have found a black briefcase and it’s ticking

 

“I have found a black briefcase and it’s ticking!” I sang to Dave, the next tenor along from me. We were in mid performance at the Town Hall, all the great and the good were there.

Ten bars later, after I’d repeated the message several times he sang back, all along to the Alleluia chorus we were in the middle of, so as not to cause a riot,

“Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick, kick kick, kick kick it if it’s ticking!”

Nine bars later I heard the sopranos pick up on the concern,

“Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!” “Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!”

Eight bars on and the altos, ever thoughtful, sang.

“It could, it could just be, just be,  a metronome-ome-ome, A me-he-he-he-tronome?

A metronome it could just be, could be could……be!”

Seven bars passed and the basses suggested.

“Are there any wires showing through the leather, black,black,black? Any wires, any wires showing?”

After six bars the altos, still very concerned sang.

“Don’t try to cut them, or dash them like a potter’s vessel, cut them, cut, cut, cut them.”

Five bars on and the Mezzo Soprano soloist was trying to help.

“I have some nail scissors here in my handbag, with a blade of iron, a blade of iron. Shall I pass them through the shadow of the valley of the string section, then you may safely snip.”

Four bars of this and the basses encouraged me,

“Be bold! Bold be! Dash the briefcase like a potter’s vessel, you should dash it, like a potter’s vessel.”

Three bars later Dave had managed  a look inside the briefcase, after considering for what seemed like eternity but was only

Two bars he sang

“It is a metronome, the trumpet shall sound, oh metronome, oh metronome!”

And in one bar, when we all realised the panic was over, we all sang

“Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.

Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.”

Well, that’s how I remember the evening anyway. Funny thing is no-one in the audience for that performance of Handel’s Messiah seemed to notice the difference. Well, that’s charity do’s for you, all champagne and arias, all metronomes and alleluias.

© Ray Stearn 1st July 2021