So another semester when | am supposed to witter on about how and why I write and what I have divined from my lectures and reading.
Today I’ve not written anything but I have been thinking a lot. Mostly it’s been about the piece I dreamed up in 3007′s class and how to ‘peg’ it. I think, to make it relevant is to relate it to the proclaimed policy of making MDX a s much as a virtual uni as possible. The piece could have quotes from the business strategy document and a picture of the LRC rather than the library. I could also contrast that with how I and others feel about learning that way and if I think it will catch on. Do you want to pay £9000 to sit at home in front of your computer?
Looking for an angle on the essay/journal conflict really does crop up. Apart from the stresses of feeling alone in a crowd, the price of stuff, the powerlessness one feels trying to change the rules it seems I am a grumpy old man ranting about it all. Perhaps I should just call it Grumpy London
Last writing practice of the year complete. I now have some serious work to produce. I have a critical essay to write about the film script I have written. That’s all well and good, but I don’t think the script hits the sort of targets that show the learning I have done so far this year. The essay will have to say how it missed its mark. The same thing is true of the critical essays for Genre and Creative Writing. These essays will say essentially the same thing since they will both have to examine the techniques used by myself and other authors in the work we’ve looked at this term. A lot of stuff has bled through from one to the other and it’s getting me confused. Writing the City is entirely on the back burner. I have too many ideas for a final piece and feel isolated in my class. I’m hoping a tutorial will help, but I have to wait a week or so before I can have one. And I still have a 1000 word creative piece to do before I can write the CMW essay. The romance I wrote is still not a romance, the horror story is only in an outline and the the script that I spent a month on no one understands.
Still I have a party to go to this evening for the first time I can remember and another nights “sleep” to survive. Happy new year
Pay close attention, get as near as you dare, use a magnifying glass if you can and watch the usual become fascinating.
I just blew out a match, one of the long cook’s matches. They give a really firm satisfying strike, always seem to work first time and have enough phosphorus to really flare up and sustain a flame. The trouble is if you use one to light a single candle you have an awful lot of unburnt wood to play around with. So I played. I paid close attention. I knew I was looking at chemistry, a reaction of substances after applying heat is really all the striking of a match is, but up close it is magic. The examination began after the candle lighting. I had a tea light in a glass, the flame waving and dancing in the micro-climate of turbulence the flame was creating, the tiny imperfections on the glass punctuating the reflection of the flame within it, the fingerprinted smears on the outside of the glass blurring the dance, the smudge of soot near the rim irritating my sense of wonder because the scene would otherwise be light and sparkle. An artist might argue for the smudge as a counterpoint to light and sparkle. All I knew was that my eye was always drawn to it. I still held the match and examined that instead. It was 3” long, half burnt, the dome of burnt phosphorus gone somewhere on the kitchen lino floor as I blew the match out. What remained was a story of the reaction. I could read it from left to right as my eye followed from the jagged point of charcoal where the phosphorus flame had been the source of intense heat. The jags in the structure of the charcoal were regular, as if someone had taken the carbon molecules away brick by brick. It was also slightly twisted, like perhaps the tree that it had come from originally, only this twisting was caused by the violent evaporation of the moisture in the wood fibres rather than the sculpting of wind and rain on a canopy of leaves and branches. Evidence of the oily moisture was still evident as my eye moved along from the graduated blackness to wooden-ness. Another smudge. It was as distracting as the soot on the glass. Instead of seeing the smooth transitional change of colour, black through dark brown to light scorched brown to creamy wood, there was this tiny oily smear. Wood molecules heated to breaking point, pyrolized to moisture and unburnt. A tiny vignette of story in the larger tale.
It was time to move the story on again. I moved the match to the glass where the tea light was gyrating. Carefully, without putting it in the flame, I dipped the unburnt end of the match in the molten wax. I held it close to my eye and watched the wax both absorb into the wood fibres and then coalesce to a white sheen on the wood’s surface. As soon as I brought it to the flame it bubble for the briefest of moments and then flared into a flame that engulfed almost half of the match. I had to move my thumb away for fear of getting singed. The flame had the lovely blues and purples near the fuel, and the large bright orange, almost yellow aura. Right at the edges the faintest hint of a black outline faded in and out as the combustion fluctuated. I stared at it a moment longer and blew. The match had barely disintegrated. It was glowing a coal-like red deep within its structure. The glow was diminishing as I watched; more structure appeared as the glowing dimmed till it looked like the view through a powerful telescope at a miniature stellar nursery that was obscured gradually by a cloudy night sky. The moment the last pinprick of red disappeared, smoke bloomed into air, twisting like a dervish and evaporating like mist in the sunshine.
I don’t normally spend a moments thought on this sort of thing. However I was minded today of a story I heard about an Amazon tribe that after talking to explorers gathered at the river’s edge to watch their boat plane land to collect the visitors. They did not seem overly impressed as the noisy machine cut its engine and drifted on its own momentum to the bank. The explorers asked the tribesman what they thought of the mechanical bird. They replied,”Well of course you can fly, you have fire in your pocket.”
The whole station was evacuating as we arrived.
Between us we were lugging a large red box filled with rams and blocks.
It was difficult trying to make our way against the flow of people and not banging our shins on the metal strengthened edges of it.
We sweated in our fire fighting uniforms.
At the top of the staircase down to the platform we smelt the cooked shit and our noses wrinkled
We caught our breath at the bottom and listened to the tranquillity of what was otherwise a normal scene. A tube train with the doors open but no one about.
The smell was quite bad as we walked to the front of the train where our commander and a couple of the others were waiting for us.
“He’s definitely dead -” he said
We looked back under the bogey lit by his torch; we couldn’t see much except for a red plaid shirt.
“ – the off-side wheel is parked on his head.”
A stretcher and a few plastic sheets arrived, with more of our crew with the ambulance crew bringing up the rear.
“You’re not going to need too many of your skills here fellas” he said to them.” Best we just get the bits we can before they get a new driver to take the train out. It’s pointless jacking this thing up the state he’s in.”
He motioned to Andy and I to get into the suicide pit with a few plastic sheets. The light from our torches, fastened on the chest of our tunics, danced around in the gloom under the train as we made our way underneath it.
Andy and I saw the half head cleaved by the wheel at the same time. It was unreal, as if mocked up for a movie, but we looked at each other and knew we were not about to pick it up with our hands, even with our plastic gloves on.
Andy climbed out of the pit by the station wall and squeezed down the side of the carriage.
I took a plastic sheet and knelt in the pit near the wheel.
Andy placed his boot behind the half head and kicked it towards me
I looked away and felt a heavy slap as it landed in the sheet.
Still not looking I covered the head with the overlapping edges and made my way to the platform with the package.
I was numb
“Well done Woody” said the commander quietly.