Wednesday 19 October 2011

Note to Self

I realise I’m procrastinating when I find myself wiping down my keyboard with a cotton bud.
Don’t try it at home. It just spreads dust from one key to the other.
When I set myself an amount of words to write, I get those words written. If I don’t set myself a deadline, no one else will.
I’m fifty words away from completing my target but I’ve stopped to play with a cotton bud.
It’s because I’m feeling hypersensitive about a comment I received on my blog.
The reader wrote that he didn’t agree with my recent views and that I was getting sloppy.
It’s good that people have different opinions and express them. In fact I wish the author of the comment would get a blog going so I could read what he has to say more fully.
Alas, not everyone has time to write a blog. You’d be surprised how many hours they take.
Which is why it’s irritating when a reader only comments when they don’t like the post.
Criticism doesn’t succeed in its aims without encouragement.
My writers group (who meet monthly) is ruthless with their feedback but when I leave, though I may want to temporarily burn my manuscript, I feel good because I know and they know it’s because I can do better.
To help me get through my novel, I began the ‘Enough is Enough Writing Group’ with a fellow writer, who was fed up of procrastinating. It consists literally in the two of us getting together every two weeks and reading through each other’s chapters.
The energy that our meetings produce and the motivation we feel afterwards is enough for us to power through to the next stage.
I really recommend to anyone struggling through a project, whatever it may be, to join forces with someone like-minded.
But choose wisely.
If you find yourself coming away from a session with them, feeling as flat as road kill in the middle of the motorway, then they are not the right people for you.
Find someone who’ll make you fight for what you want, not someone who’ll leave you pondering the efficacy of a cotton bud.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Occupy London - Day 1

Photo by Elizabeth Hacker
‘There are none so hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free’ - Goethe

Saturday marked the beginning of Occupy London.
My cousin and I sat alongside thousands of other people in front of St Paul’s Cathedral.
A People’s Assembly was set in motion.
These assemblies have been taking place in Spain and Greece since spring.
They discuss the reasons why we are there and the practicalities of occupying the space.
With only a weak loudspeaker, it was difficult to hear so people echoed the speaker and passed the words through the crowd.
Why were we all there?
For some people the catalyst was the bail-out of the banks, others have been feeling uneasy about the system for much longer.
What unite the protesters are the questions and answers they are waking up to.
Is our democracy a real democracy?
Does our government work for us or for financial corporations?
We’re told that cuts need to be made to our public services because of massive national debt and yet there’s no law in place to stop an estimated 18 billion pounds being lost in tax havens ever year.
The Assembly suggested splitting into different groups: Shelter, Toilet, Food and Drink, Internal Affairs, External Affairs, Media, Legal Advice and Liaison.
“This movement is about empowering each one of us,” a girl said, in our group.
On one level, the message is simple. We need to take care of each other.
“People over Profits!” the protesters chanted in America.
Across the world people from of all walks of life came out to protest.
‘This is the Ethical revolution,’ a sign said.
My cousin and I didn’t camp out at St Paul’s. We were ill-equipped and went to leave at 6 o’clock.
Three lines of police refused to let us go home, though there were only a handful of us in the alley way.
“It’s not kettling,” one snapped at us. “It’s containment.”
It looked more like a power trip to us.
We waited patiently, knowing that if we were calm, they would have nothing to react against.
“Why did you come here?” one said to us. “You know protests all end up with you all getting kettled.”
“Contained,” his colleague corrected.
My cousin quickly reminded him that, without protests, we wouldn’t have the rights we have today. She reminded him women may not have got the vote.
“Women got the vote but they still can’t drive,” the second policeman scoffed.
“It was new back then,” the first policeman said, referring to demonstrations. “Now it’s old hat.”
“I just don’t know why you came,” the first one said.
His statement summed up what he thought a protester was; a scruffy, aggressive, negative, trouble maker whose actions were uncalled for.
In the demonstrations in Barcelona, I saw a sign that read, ‘You don’t have to have dreadlocks to join this revolution.’
This is a global movement. It is open to and for all humanity and no one should feel intimidated if they choose to show their solidarity.
Frankly, I hope standing up for what you believe in never becomes old hat.

Demonstrations around the World on 15th October:

SPAIN - Madrid


USA - New York

Friday 7 October 2011

Death of a Sales Mouse

We found him under the floorboards, without a head.
At the time we were decorating the rooms above our shop. Alfie was laying new floor and I was painting walls.
He might have been there since the 30’s when there were still trams running through Tower Bridge Road.
He wouldn’t say. He was a vain mouse and he didn’t want to admit his age.
He looked at me, with his tail, and sighed.
“Don’t look at me like I’m the odd one. You’re entire world has lost its head.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“Money,” he said. “You’ve lost it all. The banks are empty and they want it back.”
Alfie didn’t have time for a talking mouse skeleton and put him back under the floorboards.
But perhaps the mouse knew something.
Yesterday the prime minister came close to telling us we should all pay off our credit card debts.
At the last moment he was warned that such absurd advice was a threat to the country’s economy and he must reword his speech at once.
The economy depends on growth and to grow we must spend money, even if we don’t have it.
It doesn’t want us to fear debt.
The economy would like us to hunger for possessions so that we’ll use our credit cards and pay five times the value of the item in interest.
The advice Cameron was supposed to give was: Be greedy, go out and buy like you’ve never bought before.
If you worry, if you can’t sleep at night because of nightmares full of machete wielding credit cards, then you should be happy that at least you’re helping the economy.
“Beware! It is a trap.” From beneath the floorboards I heard the Sales Mouse whisper. “Who is benefitting from this system? If you don’t ask questions you could lose your head!”
“What?” I cried, as my paintbrush dribbled duck egg blue onto my jeans. “Tell me the answer!”
But he did not reply. He was quite dead.
It was up to me to seek it out.