A Storm on the Moon

I thought I would give a break to the Musical Memories blogs and re-commence them within the New Year. I wanted to start this one dear Reader by saying I am happy. Do you know why? Well, about two weeks ago now (blimey where does the time go?…) my second book of poetry was published. Seeing my name in print and on Kindle still hasn’t sunk in yet but I am incredibly happy all the same. This is the second book of a 13 book series (pah to superstition!) and with it comes the comfort of knowing that people are reading my ramblings and also, with the release of two books a year, I am at least going to be busy for the foreseeable. By the way, this isn’t a self-deprecating entry nor one of me bemoaning the process. On the contrary, I am writing this blog from a moment of peace and calm which I have not had for several months now. I have moved house, increased workloads from all angles of my life and other shenanigans and now I find myself at rest. Christmas time is going to provide me with a period of reflection and recreation; which I am looking forward to immensely. I just wanted to share that moment with you all.

This time of year always makes me think back to my childhood and the best Christmas memories I have (being fair all years were good years because my family were there…) However, this particular one was gold and it stands out in my mind every single year and I am glad it does.

The year is 1989 people and I am a young whipper-snapper of 4 years….it is Christmas Day and also exactly 19 days until my fifth birthday (more on that in January’s blog). During the early hours of the morning my brother had unceremoniously jumped onto my bed in order to inform me that “He” had been and that I just have to get up – which I did with all the excitement that someone my age would have. “He” had been and yet I hadn’t heard a thing! Damn that man and his wizardry….I had wanted to stay up and try to see him but my Dad always convinced me that he wouldn’t be able deliver presents if he knew someone was awake….trickery indeed! Soon toys littered the floor of the living room, as I received dollies, colouring books and Polly Pocket paraphernalia – which I loved!! (if you’re nosy and interested in what exact PP toy I got then look no further…….polly pocket

That’s right, my parents bought me the school-house Polly Pocket! I loved school so much I wanted to play at home too…

But that year Reader, I received the ultimate gift….one which saw me in good stead throughout my early years. He was there during my poorly days, he was there whilst I pretended I ran a Post Office – (he was assistant and first customer). Up until my older years, he was always there and this was the Christmas I got him…

lucky

This is Lucky, and he was the softest, cuddliest and best doll I had. He was from the Rainbow Brite series and I loved him. His face was cute, he had shaggy soft fur and his legs were multi-coloured…what couldn’t you like? Every year I think of him and the cuddles that I used to have. Its one of my favourite memories. Let me know what your favourite memory of Christmas is below.

I shall now leave you with one of my favourite Christmas songs and see you in the New Year! x

 

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Musical Memories – Me, my mum and the Bears 

The year is 1992 people and I am seven years old. I, unfortunately had a serious case of the snuffly-wufflies and so was withheld from attending school. A serious situation indeed, and not one I took happily! But Mama always made the right decision and after a while, I liked being at home with her. Just me and mum, always a happy memory.
This particular day however, sticks in my mind because during the afternoon I had taken to laying on the sofa, due to a fever and a headache. Mum had just given me some water when she put the the television on for me to watch. Just in time for an old cartoon to start….


This cartoon, has stayed in my memory since that afternoon. The song, still plays in my head whenever I am feeling unwell-even now at 30 years of age! Those bears made me feel better, the song, the story and most importantly the dance which consisted of bumping bums. I am laughing on the sofa, looking over at my mum to make sure she’s watching it too, to see her laughing.

“Look, sweely them bears are tapping their bums together” she says to me whilst laughing. I don’t remember feeling unwell that day anymore. I remember waiting for my siblings to come home in order to tell them. Then, waiting for my dad later that night to share with him what I saw. Once better, I used to do the bump with mum, my dad…..anybody who was around.

Finding this video on YouTube has been fantastic, I’ve already watched it about 8 times whilst writing this. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I have (and still do). Have a great week!

Poets and their inspiration

I currently have a poetry collection out now on Amazon called The Fractured Shards (ooo get me!) and whilst I have been promoting my first dabble at publishing, I have been asked on occasion where my inspiration comes from. This has been from fellow poets, colleagues, readers and friends. They’ve asked things like;

“What is that poem such and such really about?” ….”Is such and such about someone you know?”

And whilst I have wracked my brains, predominantly because I don’t have a poem called Such and Such ( 😉 baa dum tusssh) all I can do is skilfully dodge this question. Fundamentally because I get my inspiration from everywhere. Being a confessional poet, each one of my stanzas is linked to me. The inspiration has either been an experience or memory of mine or of someone close to me; which has in turn affected me. So yes, all of my poems are about someone I know. My mind is permenantly turned on and listening.

I have been socialising with friends, just about to fall asleep, or sitting on a train when suddenly words have formed. They can come from nowhere, or from a few words of an overheard conversation. A smell, or a song can evoke a multitude of memories and before I know it BOOM! My notebook page is full. 

How do I convey this? I want to answer as I have above, or simply say “I get my inspiration from everything” but that’s not specific enough for them, but it’s as specific as I can be.

I decided to revisit some of my favourite poets and see whether they had this same issue. 

Emily Dickinson (although not exclusively) found the notion of death and immortality a vast well of inspiration. I too must admit that because of her, I have found the exact same topic just as alluring.

Edgar Allen Poe found inspiration in the macabre. His gothic poetry dealt with imagery which was rich and diverse, death and decomposition. Reanimation of the dead and the horrors in every day life. He was more than that, of course, his works were also steeped in mystery and intrigue.

Sylvia Plath sought inspiration in the psyche. The psychology of life. It was through her poetry that she made the concept of mental pain almost tactile. 

These are just a handful of my favourite poets and the persons with whom ignited a desire to write myself. Although, I must say, reading this all back it is clear that I too have an interest in death and the macabre considering that these are my favourites! So, I shall say to people who ask me again, that whilst my poetry has many themes my inspiration is sought from anything that could happen to a person, at any one time. Generically specific, but mysterious too…..and what poet wouldn’t want that? 😊

 

Musical Memories – Me, my Dad and Dire Straits

In 1990 my Dad took my two siblings and I to a fete being held at the school we attended. It was a Saturday and the weather, I remember was warm and pleasant so it must have been their Summer one. It wasn’t a scorcher of a day, but I remember that any breeze which occurred was well needed and welcomed by everyone due to the humidity. I don’t actually remember a lot about the day itself; I only remember how I felt. I know I was very happy and giddy. I spent a whole day with my Dad and we did nothing but fun things. I do recall attempting to Hook-A-Duck with Dad helping to steady my hand, and also my brother doing some activity where he had to climb a wall. But all that and more is overshadowed by our last stall stop and the walk home. 

Dad bought us all an ice cream (if you’re interested, my choice was a mint Feast) for the walk home and as we were exiting the gates Dad spotted a stall where you had to throw beanbags and knock some things off a shelf to win a prize. Dad hadn’t actually partaken in any activities that day, so it seemed fitting that he should try his hand at the last one before we left. Again, all I can remember is feeling happy and thinking that Dad must have fired the beanbag out of some type of gun because the way it sped towards the items and blasted them to the floor. My five year old eyes couldn’t believe how quickly it happened. The throw was rewarded as my Dad was given the ultimate prize (well, I thought so!)…he was given a coconut.

As we began to walk home, my legs got tired and so Dad placed me on his shoulders. Whenever he used to pick me up I felt like I was being raised to the top of a gigantic plinth. Sitting on his shoulders, I felt like I could touch the streetlights and see the birds in the sky more close-up. Everything was tiny when I was up there, and Dad used to muck around by pretending to trip up whilst moving me about. Dad let me hold the coconut too and I don’t think I’d ever actually held one before that day. I remember not being able to understand how this hard brown thing, translated into the white flakes that Mum used to put on top of her Victoria Sponges!. Not only that, but when I shook it, I could hear swooshing of liquid inside. Dad said that people could drink the coconut milk and that we could try some, just as soon as he bashed it with a hammer when we got home. My Dad has a wonderful way with words!

I couldn’t wait to get home! For me it was another perfect day. I’d been to a Fete, Dad had won a coconut, I got to hold the coconut and also, I got to fly on Dad’s shoulders again. When we got home, Dad did indeed do what he promised and on the kitchen table lay cracked shards of the shell for us to try. I do remember that I didn’t like it! This did not taste like Mum’s cakes!

Later that evening, Dad played this song, he had the album on a tape. Whenever, I hear this song I am instantly returned to that Summer Day I spent with Dad….

Musical Memories – Me, My Mum and Kenny Rogers

This second instalment of Musical Memories takes me back to 1989. I have downloaded this song (well the whole album actually) due to my love of this music which is entirely borne out due to my mother’s influence. So, whenever I hear this particular song I am transported back to the living room of an old house of ours in Colchester. I was four years old and my dad would take my older siblings to their clubs or shopping etc. which would leave me some precious alone time with my mum.

It was during these snatched moments that mum would put her cassette tape on. It was either Kenny Rogers or Dr Hook – who I equally like too due to dear mum! – for those who don’t know Dr Hook, I have included a popular song of theirs too!).

It is so vivid in my mind that either one of these songs actually causes me to feel like I’m standing in the doorway watching myself and mum dance. She used to lift me up and I would cling to her hip as we waved my dad and my siblings goodbye. Then mum would put the tape on and we would move the coffee table out of the way. I remember the coffee table being a heavy, thick-legged thing which I could never move on my own. Mum would be wearing a long flowing skirt which went down to the floor. I loved those skirts, I used to enjoy sitting on the floor and pretend to hide behind the colourful swathes of cloth as it enveloped me whilst mum was vacuuming.

Anyway, back to 1989….I would hold my mum’s hands and we would move around the living room. Mum would sing along and I would try to keep up. I never knew all the words but some would stick out enough for me to feel like I was singing it with them. On this particular day I am wearing a white vest and short set which is covered in dark blue polka dots. Mum is wearing a gold coloured skirt and a black top. We would dance until the tape ended than sit together in the sofa until it was my bath time. I would be constantly chattering away at my mum asking her about everything and anything. Asking why, when, how and what; mum would answer everything with the patience of a saint.

I would then be bathed (in case you’re wondering it was Matey Bubble Bath all the way in my household and if I could get away with it now I would still use it!). After the usual bath time activities, which would entail me asking mum even more questions which would involve asking what water was, what’s in Matey? why do we have sponges, what’s a flannel etc. etc. I would then be placed in my favourite nightdress which had a bunny rabbit on it. Downstairs we would go, mum would brush and plait my hair ready for bed, but before than….Side B of Kenny Rogers would be played.

Musical Memories – The Story of me, my Brother and the Nemesis

I have always been interested in the importance of words and music. We have all experienced a moment where we have heard a long forgotten song and it has brought back even more forgotten memories. When that happens I find myself wondering how I could have possibly allowed myself to forget the memory. Its that feeling; that split-second emotion which intrigues me. Sometimes nostalgia moments have left me laughing in a supermarket aisle because a particular song has come on the loud speaker. Even the unhappy memories are equally welcomed because they form part of who we are and what we have become.

During the next blog posts I shall be sharing these moments and the songs which inspired those memories to come to the forefront of my mind. So, first up is an early memory and the song is by Chicane called No Ordinary Morning (I have attached a link to the song below should you be interested. It was played in the car of a friend as we were driving through some back roads in Epping and I was immediately sent back to my old family home. The year, dear Reader was 1998 and I was 13 years old.

It was a Saturday and during the summer months. I was off from school for the holidays and enjoying a leisurely sleep in bed instead of getting up early. I was awoken by sunlight, warmth from my window and this song playing through the walls from my brothers bedroom. Most weekends I would be awoken this way, my brother would wake up and immediately play on his games console whilst listening to his music. He was 16 years old and I considered him to be the coolest person I knew. All the girls loved him at school, he had good friends and every now and again he would allow me some type of involvement in his life – even though I was his annoying little sister. This song reminds me of this one particular day because it was quite eventful. My elder sister was awaiting the start of her first university term. Hearing the music, and therefore knowing he was next door, I quickly got up and barged into his room (did I tell you I was an annoying little sister?). He was sitting cross legged on his bed playing Resident Evil. Now, I loved these games but I would never play them because, quite frankly, they scared me a little. But, I enjoyed watching him play and I used to help him with the puzzles and warning him about attacks. Sitting next to him, they were no longer scary, he used to pull off an elaborate shot and say to me “Boom!, no head Jen!” and make me laugh. He would also sometimes play as a special character, so on some levels, he would be a six foot tall, squeaky shoed piece of Tofu carrying a knife!

Anyway, after an hour or two of watching him play, my brother was called downstairs on an errand leaving me with strict instructions to not touch any of his stuff. So, naturally, as soon as I knew he was downstairs I made sure I touched everything I could get my hands on. I rearranged stuff, I pocketed a few things of his that I wanted and generally nosed about. I then returned to my seat on his bed and attempted to put the best innocent look on my face as I could muster. Only my brother didn’t return as quickly as I thought. I started to get bored, I mean, I’d already looked at everything in his room, there was nothing else for me to do! Then I noticed the controller. The game was paused and I had watched my brother on numerous occasions play, surely I wouldn’t be that scared anymore and who knows? I might actually get to really help him by getting further in the game. So I picked up the controller and un-paused it ready to move Jill Valentine into victory.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was! All this time I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I could dodge and shoot and I didn’t take any damage during the first few seconds. This was brilliant!…I was on a cloud of pride and happiness….and that’s when the music began. There is a character in the game called Nemesis and he randomly pops up. You know when he’s coming because this dreaded music signals his imminent arrival. Well, my brother doesn’t fight this character because he doesn’t seem to take damage, all he does is try and move onto the next screen because once that loads, the Nemesis encounter ends. So, I was in an alleyway, and I could see that if I attempted to use this ladder, it would cause the screen to load and I would be safe and free. “Job Done!” I would exclaim to myself, satisfied that I could do everything that my brother could. So, I run over to the ladder and initiate the action to indicate that I wish to use the ladder and move into a different section. Safe and sound thought I!, only I was wrong. Unlike how I had watched my brother numerous times, this time the music didn’t stop. The music continued and instead of being alone in the next part of the building, I was confronted by Nemesis running towards me! I let out an almighty scream and threw the controller at the wall and run out of the room. My brother had returned during this time and proceeded to laugh at me. I never played that game alone again – even now at age 30!. So, oddly enough, this song makes me feel reminiscent of my childhood….and then scared – I’m screaming at the television in my brothers room again and he is laughing at me….something’s never change. If you would like to hear the song or indeed experience the fight with the Nemesis (like I did!) then I have included the links below

A Menagerie of Letters

Tomorrow my poetry collection; A Menagerie of Letters is going to launch into publication on Channillo.com This site will host a whole variety of writers each doing what they do best; and that is expressing their artistic talent. There is going to be all types of genres and style from Poetry to Flash Fiction, Journals to serialised Novels. You can subscribe to as many author channels as you like and the first fifty days of the subscription is free. This is a wonderful opportunity for writers from all over the world to come together and share their talent with a whole new audience who get to control their channel with the types of literature that they enjoy. I am going to be updating my series every week! 

The premise of my work is the concept of being able to communicate with all parts of your self. It’s the whole idea that if you could sit round a table with your Heart, Soul, Mind and Death. What would you say, and more importantly;what would they say to you? It is a collection of conversations, pleas, arguments and confessions. I think that everyone is made up like puzzle pieces; we are  sum of all parts. Certain personalities are defined dependant on whether we allow all parts to speak; or we ignore certain elements. Therefore; what if we could separate all those pieces out and have a conversation with them.
To say that I am excited is a complete understatement! This will be the first time that my poetry is going to have such open access. There is some trepidation when I allow myself to think about the strange eyes that will befall my poems. But equally I am using this nervous energy to spur me on and continue with it all. My friends and family have been thoroughly supportive which has made this transition more comfortable-and for that I am grateful! 
I am going to be posting updates here on the whole process and also provide snippets of what’s about to be published. I hope you take a look; and I hope to see you on there as a subscriber!

I took a deep breath, and listened to the old bray of my heart

Hello! Come in, come in, take a seat. So, where were we? Well since the last time we spoke things haven’t eased off in terms of inspiration. Which is a wonderful thing. However, what I am now finding is that I am bereft of time. The ticking of the clock on the wall is not a friend, but I have come to find the noise comforting. It means I’m still here-moving forward and everything I have spent years working towards is now coming to fruition. The poetry and WIP addendum’s are ever increasing, I have now six books full of poetry. Two of which have been filled since 2015 began which I believe is a record even by my standards.

Now that I have finally got my running order ready for book one of my poetry; work has now progressed on to preparations for book two. This book is dedicated to the Heart. Any damage which the Soul takes remains invisible to all but the person afflicted. However, the Heart is physical and any attack or elation it experiences is written like calligraphy all over a persons face. The eyes are the windows to the Soul; but the face is the dartboard for the heart. For me, the Heart is stronger than most give it credit for-it just all depends on the individuals tolerance threshold. This book has been easier to devise because I already had a full list of contestants lined up so I was ahead of the project. Which is (I am embarrassed to say) completely against my character. Organisation is not my middle name (it’s Ann actually, if you’re interested) and so it was a new experience to have things easy for once. This weeks blog is therefore dedicated to the Heart, and below is today’s poem. Enjoy!

I’ve walked down along this street tonight
And I don’t know what’s left for me.
It’s darkness here, but still too bright
I have my eyes but cannot see.

The cloud covers up a soulless sky
I’m walking to my only beat.
The trees emit a collective sigh
To turn the cards, it’s Fate I’ll cheat.

I have tried to keep my distance
And have embraced this world alone.
But, here now walks a soul of substance
Time and happiness have just flown.

How many nights will I now regret,
Not showing up, or turning left?
Days are costly and I’m in debt,
My heart is calling but he is deaf.

The soul is known for it’s actions

This week has seen a complete splurge in my poetry writing, this roll of inspiration seems to be here for the long haul! In some primitive sense of sacrifice, that has meant that work on book three has become stunted as I continue to empty my head of these words. I think I’ve just about got all my collections of poetry in some sort of order, when BOOM! A new player enters the game and throws all my preparation into doubt. Four books are now filled with words. Words which are segregated into loose “themes”. All I need to do is read the first line and I’m instantly transported back to the very day, place, time when I wrote it. I get to re-enact all manner of emotions in a matter of minutes as I’m trawling through my books. This creates a catharsis situation which leaves me feeling like I’ve just dis-embarked from a roller coaster.

The first book of my poetry all relates to the Soul. For me, the soul is the principle of life, feeling, thought. Regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body. It is the spiritual part of us; regarded in its moral aspect, and can transcend time, space and is immune to death. However, the Soul is entirely separate from all manner of materialism and religion. It is what makes us “feel”, it is what evokes all manner of emotions and physical reactions. The Soul is the strongest part of us, if it is allowed to be. The idea of the Soul has always intrigued me, and when I started my degree many moons ago I became interested in Philosophy as well as Literature. The two make perfect companions and the more I read and learnt, the more I wanted to know.

So, I shall continue and see how long it’ll take before my brain is tipped out and empty. I must be careful what I wish for, I asked the moon for inspiration and he came along in abundance! Below is, (as promised) the first of my poems. I hope you enjoy, and see you in a fortnight

I stare out of our window
With emotions I cannot quell,
I knew I could never be happy.
All I could hear was a bell

I’ve searched every inch of my future
Just longing for a comfortable space,
I knew I should never be happy.
Your eyes refuse to look at my face

The sun provides nothing but sadness
I can only hide my tears in the rain,
I knew I would never be happy.
Back on the edge once again

His eyes lure me into the cliff face
Different body; but the soul is the same,
Oh Lord, I do long to be happy and,
loved by he who holds onto my flame

Hope is the thing with feathers….

It’s officially 2015! A New Year brings new possibilities and hope for change. It doesn’t have to be massive, it doesn’t even have to create any impact on anyone but yourself. However, should it be strived for, and subsequently achieved, it could work wonders for your wellbeing. I’m not talking about those resolutions which have now almost become stereotypes. I’m talking about change (not resolution), improvement (not quick fix) which won’t only affect this year, but will continue over all of your years. Re-connecting with your true self, creating happiness and achieving an environment of friendship, love and trust. These changes will then infect all aspects of your life, aspects of your friend’s life and then bleed into your families. You’ll become contagious to all those around you. These changes don’t care whether your single or married, slim or overweight, introvert or extrovert. All it needs to work is you, and there’s nothing better than simply being you.

I’ve written my New Year’s letter to myself again this year, and instead of things I hope to achieve in 2015, I’ve put little monthly objectives which, if completed will lead to the goal. A proactive list of what to do rather than a list of hopes with no direction (although I must admit, there is still a couple of cheeky wishes in there too!) In March my first book of poems is going to be published. The first part of this menagerie is dedicated to the Soul. The most powerful part of our being and the one which defines us as individuals. We may all share a common interest but all our souls are unique. To balance this, it’s the soul which takes the most damage, absorbs the hurt, but equally gives the most to all of us and so should be treasured.

Now, I shall leave you with one of my favourite poems. Have a wonderful new year and I’ll see you in a fortnight.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

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