Are We There Yet?

mutters toss and turn under rumpled sighs
seagulls come swooping without warning
finally the kings and queens of little empires
colliding and meeting but never seeing
grasping stupidly at clouds in empty time
hushed whispers fill our heads, our hearts
the cycle the cycle we must not break
we are lost, suspended in a single sunbeam
smiling through the bottomless free fall
the fall it feels like flying, soaring, roaming
it feels so because we imagine it to be
but when imagination slips into the void
no longer do we care if it is to come home
what a childish thing to want, we’ll think
childish thoughts for shallow childish lives
plummeting like devils towards the centre
dreary nights become just like the last
no midnight pondering of other milky spirals
just cling film and wine and autumn gutters
sit down and shut up we’ll say (but shout)
focused, judgemental like we were taught
stars and skies and humans are only dust
ground underfoot, glinting, shattered legacies
we’re made, not living, just standing still
guardians of the summer before we forgot
the night with the rainbow, the saucepan
friends: you can’t remember me can you?
lonely hands in clean kitchens and gardens
how many years will we waste and carry
twist the knot tighter and hurl into bins
sit upright unsmiling to keep our faces
blink each sunny spell and hurricane away
pass our faults along to kids who’ll say
how sad we’ll be when we are grown

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

‘I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up- many people feel small, cause their small and the universe is big. But I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.’

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

A WEEK ON THE OTHER SIDE

I don’t know if the teenage population of the rest of the world have to suffer this, but here in Britain, most 15-year-olds are required to complete a week of work experience. My particular school required me to find my own placement through a series of poorly penned emails and husky phone calls. My first call was to a well know book retailer that kept asking for my age and hung up on me after 54 seconds. It was lunchtime, they were busy and I was a kid trying to emulate Lord Alan Sugar’s tone of voice as to sound more professional.

21 phone calls later, I was rewarded with a pending case of tonsillitis and the knowledge that if you choked on your spit during a phone call, they would just put you on hold until you died and then move onto the next person.

For a few months, all efforts to confirm a placement jumped out the window with clipped wings and waited to become fossil fuels. My classmates had gotten placements at the vets, law firms and the House of Commons. They were destined to become well accomplished members of society with secure bank accounts and a glass of wine with cheese of Friday nights. On the other hand, I had a new mole on my middle finger and earned myself a detention when I showed it to my teacher.

So of course I ended up in a primary school.

My mum took me shopping the weekend before I was due to start my placement at the primary school door. I brought a new shirt in my least favourite colour and another blue pinstriped shirt with an odd silky texture as well as some black slacks. My mum didn’t seem too concerned, I mean, how badly could I mess up in a school? I was yet to be kicked out of my own.

Monday rolled around and I dragged my scuffed shoes off the bus and towards the bright scarlet entrance of the school. I ducked into the building and quietly informed the receptionist that I was Miss White’s work experience placement.

The school had no Miss White.

After 10 minutes of my insisting adamantly that the email I received from them clearly stated ‘your will be placed in Miss White’s classroom,’ the receptionist asked for me to take a seat and wait for the staff meeting to end. Annoyed, I slid my phone out of my pocket and tapped on the email.

‘you will be placed in Miss West’s classroom,’

Following my red faced apology to the receptionist, I greeted my temporary boss by calling her Miss White again and followed her into her classroom, which made me feel like the BFG’s freakishly gargantuan sister. Clearly having no idea what to do with her bright pink helper, Miss West asked for me to open her blinds and we stayed in stony silence for twenty minutes as I eventually began wipe the water stains off her windows with my spit.

Then, oh gosh the children came tumbling in like a wild eyed, sticky hurricane that smelt like soap and old trainers. I felt my entire being seize up as they seated themselves and Miss West asked for me to come up to the front. 38 pairs of ten-year-old eyes fixed into me and immediately regretted my choice of bright pink attire, they could charge at anytime.

‘This is our lovely helper for the week, her name is Vivien.’ Miss West said, a boy at the front squinted at me with a frog-like expression. Did he need to be burped?

‘Let’s make her feel welcome, okay?’ Miss West continued and then proceeded to hug me.

Now HOLD UP lady, I have no warranted you access to my bingo wings, back off or at least buy me sushi first.

Three hours later, I’d broken the school printer, sprayed coffee all over the new classroom display and argued with a child that 7 squared was 42. In the staff room, I was offered juice by a tall teaching assistant who must have pitied me, declined his offer and anxiously stood there gulping down glass after glass of ice cold water, until I choked and puked in my mouth.

By day three, I got so bored of doing nothing and still cocking up that I emptied a pack of cashew nuts into my trouser pockets for something to do whilst I stood at the back of the class, leaning against the top of a drawer. (I hadn’t been offered a chair and was too shifty to ask for one.)

I was trying to stay awake whilst a observing a Powerpoint presentation on Sir Richard Branson with far too many slide transitions, when I was tapped on the shoulder by Miss West and presented with four A4 sheets. She wanted each of her 38 students to have one of each and would I please go to the office and photocopy them all in time for the activity that she wanted to start in 5 minutes.

Sure, except I had no idea how to work a bloody photocopier.

The first time round, I accidently printed off 80 copies of an A3 sheet on individual A4 sheets and stood there helplessly as the copier spat out sheet after scorching sheet.

Eventually, I managed to get it right and stood there sweating vigorously as the office staff glared at the huge mound of paper in the recycling bin. I relayed each individual sheet as they came out of the copier to Miss West to make up for the amount of time I’d spent in the office and I could tell she was seriously considering asking me to please leave before I broke something else.

That lunchtime, Miss West told me I was free to go to the staffroom for lunch, clearly relieved to be free of me for an hour. Upon entering the staff room, I realised that I’d walked into a meeting where the same nurse that had taught me how to use a tampon five years ago, was informing the teachers on how to answer their student’s questions about sex.

After returning to the classroom and informing Miss West of the meeting that was taking place, I was horrified when she told me to go on in anyway. So I was left stranded in the corridor, hungry and unsure what do to. The only solution, it seemed, was to eat my bagel in the surprisingly clean bathroom and peek out the door until I saw the meeting end.

On my final day, I got tired of standing up and sat on the drawer I’d leant against for the whole week whilst everyone else was outside and yes, it broke.

That really was the mouldy cherry on the asparagus flavoured cake.

Dear school, I promise to try harder in Maths class so long as you never send me back there.

(please note that all names mentioned in this post, excluding my own, have been changed to respect the owner’s privacy)

INSANITY DREAMS

I have dreams that would make great screenplays and should probably be illegal. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have enough for intensive therapy, please just stop at ‘illegal.’ I consider myself to be doing you a favour here, okay? These ideas I’m sharing with you are free for you to use at anytime what so ever. Aspiring screenwriters with no inspiration – I’m talking to you.

Somewhere around the last week of my 2014 summer holiday, I woke up brimming with adrenaline and sweating from all outlets. My dream: a modern day Hunger Games that took place right in my school building, wherein all pupils who failed the half term maths exam were put into the reaping. I spent an exhilarating few hours bounding over toilet cubicles like some kind of mutant werewolf and inexplicably ended up in a sterile white basement with a life sized marble statue of Buddha who had a scented candle melted to his forehead. At some point I was shot in the hand by the girl who scored 3% more than me and my goodness did it hurt. I’m sure there’s some kind of psychological reason for why I dreamt that I wound a dozen rolls of Andrex around myself and pasted myself to the art room wall with PVA, but that would make great entertainment.

My next venture into the hidden depths of my subconscious revealed the adrenaline junkie side of my. I went skydiving above Paris with a faceless friend and landed in a fountain in a town square. Unknown to me, the fountain was sacred and my dear friend had decided to empty the contents of his bladder into the clear pool of blue (I know him to be male, because I’ve never seen a girl pee so comfortably whilst standing upright, and also he didn’t wash his hands, so come on.) We were promptly arrested by the French authorities and interrogated by the FBI which was all very puzzling because I only scraped an A in my MFL language test last year and once told my French teacher that the holiday resort gave me three pigeons to make mushroom sausages with. Earnestly, I told the French police that I went with my mother and sister to the cinema yesterday and I liked the movie, but the popcorn was dry and bad. Needless to say, they were unimpressed and had just danced an Irish jig around the table before I woke up and realised I’d forgotten to complete my chemistry homework.

I’ve saved the best from last and all you cartoon fans out there may want to resist the urge to read on.

When I was about 6 or 7 I had this recurring dream that would one day become the root cause of my phobia of wheelie bins. I must have dreamt this same dream 10 or 15 times and I think it deserves a mention. It starts with a crumpet at my child-minder’s house, there I was enjoying my crumpet and thinking about the next three when the doorbell rang. It was Goofy, but not the lovable bubbly Goofy you and I are accustomed to, but his Goofy had a uni-foot, two oversized feet that merged into one huge foot, attached to a single oversized thigh. Now I have no idea what the hell was wrong with me, but when this monstrous Goofy said: ‘I’m here for Vivien.’ I obligingly went along with him. He would carry me down the street and throw me in one of three wheelie bins, leave me there until it was dark, and then take me back to the child-minder’s where my parents were waiting.

I make Stephen King look like a candyfloss unicorn, I know. God forbid my kids refuse to eat their asparagus, Goofy’ll come knocking. I’m joking, I hate asparagus.

If any of you reading this are psychologists or analyse dreams or whatnot, let me know if I’m insane in the comments below and for any screenwriters who become famous for their unique story line about Buddha’s adventures in creepy Goofy land, you’re welcome.

OFF THE SHELF: CATCH 22

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STATUS: READ
RATING: 10/10

REVIEWS:

‘Never has a book been laughed and wept over so many times.’
GUARDIAN

‘The greatest satirical work in the English language.’
OBSERVER

‘Written with brilliance, echoes with mad laughter.’
TIME

PERSONAL REVIEW:
I’ve always been a fan of novels based in wartime. Catch 22 is a compelling and humorous read – so damn funny. It definitely makes it into my list of favourite novels, and I’m very grateful that Joseph Heller wrote such a timeless masterpiece for the world to enjoy. Catch 22 is a book everyone should read at least once in their life. Not because you ‘should’ read it, but because nobody deserves to miss out on this genius piece of literature.