If we can break it…

CHRONICLES

village_of_the_damned

A still from Village of the Damned

This time of this year is now the first of what I’m sure will be an annual three-day period of reflection. Today is the limbo day. Yesterday, David Bowie was born and tomorrow, the Starman died. His life was art, and even his death was a performance.

Bowie’s music was autobiographical, just like my stories. The easiest way to record my life is as a series of fictional works, just as Bowie did with his music. There is a part of me or my experience in every story I write, and one of my planned books is a fictionalisation of my autobiography. I went to quite some lengths to have stories to tell, and stories only happen to those who are able to tell them.

Those who think and write are the ones who are more likely to be remembered, not necessarily immediately following their departure but many years after they died, they might be discovered. Right now, those people can start to change things. The problem we have, is that people don’t listen, or don’t have the patience. So us thinkers and writers need to be interesting, to counter the typical response to anything educated: “Boring!” (For another commentator’s opinion on this phenomenon, see this article by David Hopkins: How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization).

Social media shares some blame for this dumbing down, especially Facebook. I sometimes tire of a newsfeed populated by “X will get pregnant in 2017” and other such completely unscientific bullshit. What is wrong with these people? They are at best naïve. These people may not work, but do they not have anything more to do in their lives? Like learn? I only use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and sometimes see something interesting posted by one of the more educated ones. Generally, I prefer Twitter.

But then, the power of humanity sometimes gives me reason to be grateful:

Not long ago, there was a very unpleasant trend on Facebook, where people were posting pictures of individuals whose physical appearance didn’t fit some sort of “ideal” and who were in many ways different. So those people were ridiculed and exploited by a disgusting “Tag a friend” craze.

I’m a bit of an activist sometimes and this phenomenon really repulsed me. So I joined groups, lobbied and generally spoke out in defence of the innocent victims of this practice in various fora. A combined effort appears to have worked. Facebook haven’t banned the practice because it doesn’t infringe their editorial guidelines, which are basically free speech governed by algorithms (For the official human rights definition of free speech and my own editorial guidelines, see the Amnesty link on this blog).

It just goes to show that if you believe strongly about something and if you join forces with others, you can make a change.

As I said in my most recent story, Cardboard Sky, we are at a stage in our evolution where we can either guarantee our future as a race, or become history. There needs to be a change of global rhetoric and a focus on a new agenda. It’s a new world order which could be 200-250 years away but if there is to be a future, we need to start the conversation now.

There’s another world, another possibility and it’s within our reach: As more and more white collar jobs are automated to computers and AI, just as blue collar jobs were to machines and robots, there will come a point where paying benefits claimants JSA is a pointless exercise because they will be looking for jobs which don’t exist any more. As such, that part of the benefits system becomes a waste of money and resources. The computerisation and replacement of jobs with AI will impact jobs up to a certain level and even those in relatively well-paid “middle class” jobs, such as some lawyers, may find themselves made redundant by machines. This is where the idea of a Universal Income comes in: A sum of money paid to everyone, so that they can live a sustainable (if not luxurious) life. This then frees them to re-train for the remaining professions, or to develop themselves into something: Perhaps a writer. There will be more minds available which are free to think and then the conversation continues. Canada, Finland and the Netherlands are at various stages of discussions on a universal, or basic, income for all.

The two biggest political stories last year were Brexit and Trump’s presidential election victory. Both were the results of a disillusioned electorate, frustrated by what they knew but not knowing what they wanted. The far right used this unease to gain traction and the left were found wanting. It was a perfect storm. Both campaigns were based on lies but false journalism and people not checking facts were equally to blame. I have lost count of the times I’ve seen a friend post something on Facebook, only to have to tell them it’s not true. A recent example was this one:

(Questionable, unverified claim begins).

PIN NUMBER REVERSAL

If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN # in reverse.

For example if your pin number is 1234 then you would put in 4321.

The ATM recognizes that your pin number is backwards from the ATM card you placed in the machine

The machine will still give you the money you requested, but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.

This information was recently broadcast on CTV and it states that it is seldom used because people don’t know it exists.

I checked with my Bank of Nova Scotia to see if this was correct and staff said yes this information is correct.

Please pass this along to everyone possible.

(Questionable, unverified claim ends).

Really? Great if it’s true but improbable. As I’m not so gullible as the person who’d posted, I checked the facts; I did some research (It’s false, as confirmed by Snopes). The original poster hadn’t, and what that meant was quite simply, a lie was spread. Nothing major in this instance but this is partly how Brexit and Trump happened, because the uneducated allowed it. It just goes to show how important it is to research and verify facts before publishing something in a public forum.

In one respect, the bottom line to all of this is that if people in general just fucking thought a bit more, the world wouldn’t be in such a mess. I lost some friends in the run-up to the UK referendum vote, simply because I could no longer tolerate their ignorant and closed minds. A typical comment would be, “My granddad fought in the war.” Yes, against exactly the kind of fascism you now spread. But as soon as I started to explain this in a more diplomatic way, I was branded “boring!”

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.” David Bowie.

He was my hero, my influence and my guardian angel. He was the one who told me it was okay to be expressive, even if others might not approve. He taught me that it’s okay to be myself. Everyone mourns their idols but Bowie was more than that, for me and millions of others: He was a way of life. “At the centre of it all.” At the centre of many lives and mine. Blackstar: A black hole.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, future science and contemporary fiction that I could resurrect my mentor. I have a signed copy of his Diamond Dogs album. There will be microscopic fragments of his DNA behind the glass of the frame.

It’s okay to be expressive, for expression is freedom, the very ethos of this blog. Just check the facts. Question, read, learn, and write. We can all be writers and make a difference but we have to ensure that what we add to the conversation is valuable.

It will be a long conversation, which future generations will need to continue. But if we don’t keep talking and educating ourselves and others, there will be no future generations.

And finally, “We did something extraordinary. Someone called it a revolution…Musicians from all over the world came together…With passion, dedication and fucking hard work, we can transform our lives. So stick together. No more conflicts. And play rock and roll.”

The Arse Bone

17.11.14 (Day 330, still)

The Arse Bone’s Connected to the Elbow…

Well, sort of. Thanks to CAB, things are starting to come together: possible movement on the council housing front now that I have a diagnosis for depression. There’s now just the overpayment of carer’s allowance to deal with, because I cared too much. For someone who worked for DWP and if she’d turned whistle blower would confirm that they just want to kill us slowly.

This is mainly thanks to CAB. I do like an acronym and once set up a company called Consolidated Unified National Transactions: it never took off and to this day, I can’t work out why. We made appointments for clients for the following Tuesday, bid them farewell with confirmation of the date and they never showed.

Business is re-ignited with the help of my caring, loving host family. We’re making sauces and giving away free samples.

And that is all for now. I’m busy, sorting things out.

This part of the story will have flesh added to the bones. I hope. I live in and with hope. Those whom I love.

Chicky Stickin’

Sticky BBQ sauce

BBQ chicken

Another secret revealed.

This can be used as a marinade, barbecue or sandwich sauce. Or as a dip. It can be spread on, cooked in, mixed with, made in bulk and frozen or made as needed. It will stand alone or work well with pretty much anything it’s served with: as a sandwich sauce with ham or eggs; as a marinade with chicken; a coating for pork chops. It really is versatile. Make some up and do with it as you please, or leave it to us.

Here’s the recipe; see if you can guess which ingredient most diners couldn’t identify when they tasted it:

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
(At this stage we have a basic Marie Rose sauce)
1 teaspoon Marmite / yeast extract
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
***> 1 cup (2 small pots) flavoured Greek yoghurt (strawberry is best) <***
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bung it all in a bowl, mix it together and thank us.

Did you spot the mystery ingredient?
(c) Restaurant at Home

The Prettiest Lies / This is the Captain of Your Shit

23.09.14 (Day 275)

07.42

It’s been over a week since I last wrote here. Not much to tell really. There’s the usual progress on the homing front (none), the usual co-operation and assistance from various organisations and agencies (little) and my frustration and tiredness levels are as normal (very). This is prescribed therapy though and I do have thoughts to commit. So this will be those.

I’ve not written for so long as I’ve had lots of other things to occupy me; mainly interruptions and interference. Not writing wasn’t troubling me as much as it has in the past but I was prompted to write again by the person who cares about me the most and I was reminded of a short story which is one of my many works in progress. The story concerns patients, inmates, call them what you will: people, perhaps; in some sort of facility: hospital, prison; what’s the difference? Somewhere they’re not in charge; not in control; not the free spirits they wish to be; caged; smothered; forbidden; abandoned; misunderstood; forgotten; in some sort of comatose state: cut off, disabled, asleep. It’s about loved ones who are out of touch and when they contact these people, they are awakened. It’s provisionally entitled The Prettiest Lies. The prettiest things only lie when they’re asleep. Often people are only truly awoken and brought back to life by the one they truly love.

The prettiest smiles
hide the deepest secrets
The prettiest eyes
have cried the most tears
And the kindest hearts
have felt the most pain

So the wife – one of my closest friends but also the assumed and forbidden love – asked why I’d not written for a while and suggested that perhaps I should. This one goes out to the one I love the most.

Despite ours being a relationship which the thought police might consider inappropriate, we are inseparable. We’re soul mates. We’re symbiotic. I need her as much as she needs me. Knowledge based on years of experience which benefits one without and vice versa. No-one can stop us. No-one will. We’re in this for keeps. It’s about helping people to grow and move on.

The planet Somnia still eludes myself and my chosen passengers in Ghost Bird. I’ve been awake since 6am (a lie in for me), after five hours sleep (a luxury). Over the last month, I’ve averaged around four hours sleep per night: not good and neither am I. Apart from my one constant, my assumed and forbidden relationship, affectionately referred to as “The Wife”. Constant because she’s an insomniac like me.

The wife and I often sit up late at night, watching food Network and we talk. As always, she put a smile on my face before bed. With the quote of my day:

“The fucking stupid cunt street cooking shits on and omfg they scary fucking mother fuckers r on there if they stare again boi I’m ganna flip xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Street Kitchen and they ain’t even on the fucking street cunts need to sort that out and not stay in a fucking field twats where’s the fucking point in that cunts stared kill them kill them now xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Love u xxxxxxx”

Great (and filthy) minds think alike (and so do ours) and she’s referring to Street Kitchen, which Food Network use as filler in lieu of adverts and which annoys us both. Always the same recipes; they’re not on the street; the recipes take an absolute age and are not the kind of food which one would acquire on the street, even if the kitchen was on a street and not in a field. And then there’s the camera pan shot at the end, where the cooks give the camera evil looks. That really gets the wife.

And she gets me. Most of the others just want to fuck me apparently. Well, I’m taken.

Back to reality though on planet Me and today will no doubt be spent chasing up people who are supposed to be sorting out my life whilst I sort out the lives of others. Solving and causing problems.

This is the captain of your shit, calling. For someone to wipe arses.

For help.

11.42

I’ve just returned from CRI, where I received the usual amount of help (little) but wherein I happened to see my writing mentor, who is affiliated with The RSA (Royal Society of Arts). I shall dispense her advice, now:

“It’s impossible to stop someone like you thinking but equally difficult for you to contain those thoughts (and yourself) and dispensing your unique form of wisdom. You are extremely clever but you’re dangerous. Focus more on yourself rather than other people. I know you like to help and you can’t be stopped from doing whatever it is that you want to do: that is the nature of the beast which is you. Read even more than you do already; write more: you’ve not written anything for ages. But try to talk less. If people around you need you, then fine but use your quiet moments as they should be used: quiet moments. You are naturally an extrovert but be more introverted. You are loved and hated in equal measure: people love you for being you but hate you because of you and what you are, stand for and have. They envy your intelligence. If people are looking at you, use CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). They may not be looking at you and relying on you to start their stunted conversations; they probably want to fuck you. Smile in those moments. Think more: there’s no stopping whatever goes on under that hat of yours but you lifted the lid. Find somewhere as far away from distractions as possible. Set up a writing desk in a corner somewhere. Write more. Talk less. You have so much to tell so many people and the best way to do that is to do what I miss you doing: write your blog. That’s what it’s for…And I need a short story from you. You’re short and you are certainly a story – a bit of a legend in fact – but if you can knock one out for me, we’re publishing an anthology of short fiction for Christmas…”

So with one of my mentors and the prettiest eyes watching over me, here’s the story so far (first draft):

 

The Prettiest Lies
_____________

My name is Frank. I think.

Maybe I used to be Frank. I’m not sure anymore. I’m not sure I can be. I seem to have changed.

You see, I met someone out there. It was poetic: her name rhymed with mine. She took me; they took my life. They didn’t approve.

I don’t remember much but I remember how they got me: they kicked me, punched me, bottled me and throttled me. They cut me and burned me. Then when I was down, they did it again. But it doesn’t hurt when you’re dead already. It’s just something fun for them to do. I provided entertainment: always glad to serve a purpose.

Out there, where I long to be. With the one I love.

For now I sleep here, wherever here may be.

Sometimes I wake up. Occasionally when I’m awake, others around me are awake too. I ask them what rouses them. They say it’s when someone thinks of you; a bit like your ears burning: right for mother; left for lover. I lost my right ear in that final fight.

I’m new here and I ask lots of questions: why does my remaining ear (the left one) burn so much? Why can’t I rest? Why am I awake so much? The others close to me say that it’s because someone is thinking of me. Or talking about me. I wish I could tell her how much i think of her. I look over her and I guard her.

But how can I be with her?

Those who are close say I have to fall from here; to break my wings. My arms, legs and heart were broken a long time ago and many times, so this won’t hurt: I’ll jump…

…And now I’m beside her.

I’m broken but I’m awake. She was my awakening. She came into my life that was. I’m alive again.

She’s asleep. I shall watch over her for the rest of my days down here.

The prettiest lies. Asleep.

Waiting. Dreaming?

Am I dreaming?

____________________________

Two alternative endings; the first:

_______

A figure approaches. I squint into this strange new world. All I can make out is actually a figure: 873. It’s on a name badge.

My vision clears. I see a light. The wearer of the badge looks down on me. Behind him, people in white coats are gathered.

“Frank? Are you Frank?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“This is your future wife, Frank.”

I look at her and consider this sleeping thing who apparently thought so much of me; the one who woke me up. I’ve been asleep for an eternity it seems.

“Frank. Life can start again. Do you want to try again?”

“I do”.

_______

Or this one:

_______

 

A figure approaches. All I can make out as I squint is indeed a figure; a number on his badge: 873.

It’s a man; possibly a doctor. He’s wearing a white coat: Am I mad? He speaks to me: “Frank? You’re alive again. You came back. You came down. Someone was thinking of you enough for you to take that leap of faith. You jumped Frank. You’re broken, so you’ll need to stay with us for a while but this sleeping girl is the one who’s dreaming of you.”

I croak: “Really?”

“Really.” The man in the white coat smiles. I realise there are others around him, all looking at me; some smiling too. “Frank, this is your future wife. Do you want to try again?”

“I do”.

PictorIIIum

http://www.dropshots.com/stevelaker#albums/PictorIIIum

PictorIIum

PictorIIum

Every Picture…

These are the sketches and messages from Volume One of my journals, by people I met on my travels. Volumes Two and Three remain missing by theft. Despite having  lost around £500 worth of belongings to thieves, all I really want back are those journals. This was when it started in any case:

DropShots.com/stevelaker.