The Scar by Kevin Murphy

The Scar

Sitting in our autumn holiday cottage, I said to my grandson, ‘Look at the light on that hillside, Isaac. It’s strange and misty, but there is no mist.’

It was a tiny window in the converted seventeenth century barn. We were warm and cosy, but outside, days of rain drenched the countryside but not our spirits. The sun had come up at the other side of the escarpment, but slight haze caused the light to skim across the very heavy dew – the grass was grey.

Suddenly all changed. Had a cloud moved away? The hillside was a gleaming emerald in a golden frame of storm tossed leaves.

‘Look at that tree, Grandpops, it’s got two trunks.

We leant into the frame for a better look. The row of trees running to the horizon did look as if it was tipped with the mature skeleton of a doubled-trunked oak, fully exposed, all its leaves already stripped.

It was a good observation by the lad. It had me bemused for a minute. ‘Ah, I see now. That’s a pair of trees, Isaac, standing beside each other, but from here they are almost in line, one behind the other.’

Later, after embalming ourselves with a swim in the heated pool, we took a walk out along Brackendale Lane towards Carsington in the hope of catching the early sunset over that great expanse of water. The lane is supposed to follow Brackendale Brook, but today we couldn’t tell which was which. Isaac had the wellies on so could ford the many streams the lane passed through – so he did.

Towards the top end of the lane, the land on both sides levelled out in a plateau. I reflected how that skinny brook was today doing what it had patiently been doing for perhaps millions of years – scratching the deep scar out of the plateau, carrying silt down towards the river Dove and onwards to the oceans.

The scar it has left, like a beauty spot, is what has attracted Isaac and all my family to gaze upon – this weather changing face of Derbyshire.

A Very Special Houseplant – By Andrew Bell

Some months ago, I took over the care of an anthurium or flamingo flower, an exotic house plant which is a native of the tropical climates of South America. It came as a gift to my wife, but very soon, I took a liking to it.
I love its generous display of shiny, waxlike pointy leaves and the flowers, which consist of beautiful salmon pink bracts or blooms; and, sitting on top, a vertical spike of tiny flowers that begin with a whitish colour, but then slowly change to a pleasing limey green.

I also keep a small family of spider plants that all came from the very first plant we had which, for many years, held pride of place on a small table in the hall, by the front door. Spider plants are much less needy but, with just a little TLC are just as pleasing to the eye as the more exotic plants.

Right now, this flamingo flower has no companions. Trying to discover how to give it the care it needs: maintaining the right balance of warmth, moisture, feed and light is still a bit of a challenge, but I know from experience with the spider plants, that, in time, this knowledge will arise by simply taking a few moments to give the plant my undivided attention.

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On Journaling and Word Rambling – Kerry Swarbrick

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Personal narratives are something we all construct, even if we choose not to share them. We invent them. Weave them. Like making up reasons for what we did after it’s already happened; as if there were some considered rationale or deliberate reasoning before it was done. Which there probably wasn’t. But we can be very persuasive after the fact. To ourselves, at least. Narratives are hooks. Necessary hooks on which to hang strings of causality, reason and meanings with no real meaning at all. Tissue-thin paper chains blowing about in the wildly unreasonable landscape of absurdity. Continue reading

The Knife Killers by David Graham

Rapacious assaults on the innocents

Throughout human history the vast majority of the peoples who have and do inhabit the continents and island of this planet; regardless of their cultures, races or creeds, have and still do simply want to live out their lives in a peace that allows for them to grow and prosper. Throughout that same history those same peaceful peoples have and still do come up against that rapacious minority of peoples who have sought and still seek to deny the innocents the peace they have needed and still need in which to survive. Continue reading

Danger! – a cautionary tale for writers, by Kevin Murphy

When I set out to become primarily a writer it was because I wanted to write about the major issues that concern me.

In exploring issue based writing as my ‘genre’, one of the first things I received was a warning: ‘Don’t!’

The writer was implying that if you choose to write about issues that concern you, you block yourself off from open-minded plot and character development. I seemed to have fallen at the very first hurdle. However, I soon found that I could not agree. My main aim was not to be a rich and famous author, but a writer respected for both my views and my writing skills. Continue reading

Web by Rachel Hilton

I don’t often write about me. But the word web brought back a cascade of memories.

When I was a teenager, a canary flew into our garage. It was a bright yellow pretty little bird. My Dad managed to catch it, and we put it in a cage. I don’t remember where the cage came from but that’s not important. We did all the usual responsible stuff, placing cards in all the local shops saying “Found: yellow canary” where and when etc, all the usual actions people took before social media. We had no response so it lived in the cage in the dining room of the house. My brother Simon, who is several years younger than me, named it Freedom.  Continue reading

Star by Margaret Moreton

Star
by
Margaret Moreton

Once upon a time there were two, early teenage girls. They lived miles apart and never knew each other, though they had much in common. For them both, there was a stable family and equally they respected their elders. They were at that age which saw their awakening sexuality; involuntary blushes were not uncommon. They both accepted their school days and the lessons they absorbed there, though with varying degrees of interest or success. Naturally they longed for approbation.

For Kathy, this came one glorious summer day. She was called from her class and lauded as a master of her craft – she had written a verse or two about the wonder of the sky at night: the ethereal beauty of a new rising moon; the glorious clarity of a dark, cloudless sky, giving a backdrop to a whole galaxy of stars. Her teacher was impressed. He told her that her work had earned her a star. That star, a gold beauty, was fixed to her work. Star of wonder! It glistened; it reflected her exhilaration – approbation in deed. That star was the half-open door to a possible literary career. She returned to her seat on cloud nine. Her future suddenly seemed bright.

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Her contemporary, Katarina, was awarded a star – a bright gold emblem. She too had a star which defined her future. Her star was awarded in the company of her family and friends, not because of any excellence in her work, simply because of who she was. It was emblazoned on the lapel of her coat, for all the world to see. He who demanded that it be there intended just that.

An aching train journey followed this award, which took her far into the country, away from what she knew and loved – all because of her star. Journey over, she stood with her family, and that reassured her somewhat. Soon, though, she had to leave her dad and her brothers and go with her mum for a shower. She was filthy and smelly after her long, long journey, so to her mind, that had to be good.

That was the last she knew – the Zyclon B did its work and so did the ovens. Her star had truly defined her future. Her Dad, focussing on the giant belching chimney, saw in fatherhood’s mind’s eye, her star taking its place among nature’s galaxies, that would shine there forever.

Once upon a time, no fairy tale this, all this happened: two stars; two messages; two outcomes.

What means a star?

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