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

Shared Story by Eileen and Ray

 

Eileen and Ray, Shared Story

 

So, there I was, hanging off this cliff. Not exactly part of the day I’d planned. Thank goodness the strap of my binoculars had held. For some reason, a line from Dad’s Army hit my brain whilst I was dangling.

“They make very good binoculars, them Germans!” Only now the strap was slipping, slowly, slowly, through the piece that adjusts the length. No point in shouting, I would never be heard above the gulls.

“Kittiwake! Kittiwake! Kittiwake!” I calculated that I had about 18 centimetres to live, not inches, these were German binoculars after all. My fingers were desperately searching for a hold on the millstone grit but the sea had worn it smooth. If only  I had listened to my mother! I don’t know what she said, I never listened. 16 centimetres to go now. I couldn’t get hold of the strap at all to slow it down.

My feet scrabbled against the cliff face, or rather my boots did. My feet were playing cowardy-cowardy-custard and hiding inside the boots. I could hear loose stones and shale bouncing off the rocks below and my heart pounded with the rhythm of the sea. I felt my fingers loosen and I fell down, down.

The strap had given up its last 15 centimetres in one short, fast “Zzzzzzzzp.” I didn’t feel I could fly, I only had time to think “!” before I hit the water, cold and salty, then went under. I know now how difficult it is to breathe water and it’s not that I am a swimmer of any note but I was then and I reached the surface, I saw the stars.

Most of them were round my head, like a bad cartoon but some shone in the sky above.

My saviour had a name, written on every part of their body, the name, difficult to pronounce, was Rnli! Rnli had saved me, Rnli had protected me, Rnli had rescued me. I felt like shouting their name.

RNLI! RNLI RNLI

Rnli was my guardian angel, granted, there were no wings and not a sniff or a sign of a golden aura but angels come in  many shapes and sizes and if it happened to be an overweight man with a boozer’s nose and a hook – he was an angel!

 

© Eileen Earnshaw & Ray Stearn 1st July 2021

 

Maureen and Jo, Shared Story

I feel as if I’m in limbo.  Normally I operate from the ‘here and now’, but everyone is being told, indeed being commanded, to live as in the future.  Far ahead, decades ahead, or else!  Or else what?

 

The people in the square shuddered as the person on the platform thundered his instructions.  They had been subjected to these rantings many times.  They were all dressed identically – black trousers, black hoods – indeed the only colour to be seen was black.  Was this the future then?  No colour, no light, no life as they had known it.  I look around.  Was there only me who could see?

 

I tried to speak to the man standing alongside of me, I tried twice but he did not respond at all.  I shouted but it was hopeless.  My words were falling on deaf ears.  I turned to the person on the other side of me.  She stared straight through me. I raised my voice and she slowly turned away.  By now panic was setting in.  These people were being hypnotised and only I realised it!

 

Why was I still left alone?  I felt under nobody’s spell, like these people.  I had been lucky enough to have escaped the brainwashing which had been going on from the stage.  Should I escape now while I had the chance?

I ran to my left.  People closed in around me, and the threat was intense.

 

Maureen and Jo – shared story.

 

© 1st July 2021 Maureen Harrison & Jo Femia

 

Psychiatrist -v- Patient (or is it?) by Maureen Harrison

Psychiatrist -v- Patient (or is it?)

 

As John related his story to the psychiatrist a feeling of unease pervaded the room.

 

John described the moment he felt he had lost it –  the driving rain hammering against the windscreen accompanied by a howling gale when he had no idea where he was.   Ghostly shapes gathered around but he quickly realised these were trees but what were the lights shining in the distance?

 

He glanced at the rear window of the car and felt for sure somebody was watching him.   He accelerated but quickly realised his mistake as the car tyres slithered across a slurry of mud.    Heart pounding he attempted to get out of the vehicle but fear made him hesitate.   Luckily the car had righted itself and he was able to resume his journey.

 

To the psychiatrist it became apparent he knew this scenario.   As John continued to talk he let his mind wander to a similar experience.   He knew what came next!   But how?   He didn’t think he knew John so how could he know this story?

 

John went on with his tale.   He drove a little further and saw a white shape ahead.   What was it?

 

I know this thought the psychiatrist.   Go on with your story but I already know the ending.  If your story is my story what are you doing here talking to me about it?

 

The vision became only too clear.   The white shape materialised and a gunshot rang out.  John slumped in the driving seat.  The psychiatrist looked at the patient, then down at himself.   John was dead!   The psychiatrist closed his eyes.

 

His receptionist found him later that day.   Blood was pouring from his chest but what on earth had transpired?   The room, apart from the dead psychiatrist, was empty.   She checked around the room satisfying herself all was clear.   She dialled 999 and said “there has been a terrible accident.”  Only she knew what had transpired and she was saying absolutely nothing !!!

 

She heard the sirens and readied herself …………..

 

© Maureen Harrison/Touchstones Writing Group/1/7/2021