The x-ray glasses

Shane and Lisa were out walking, this time to try out some new glasses that they had found in a second-hand shop that seemed to be X-ray glasses. They had decided to go to the countryside to try them out.

Reaching a semi-wooded landscape Shane put them on first and looked so startled that he stepped back and almost fell over a fallen branch.

What is it, asked Lisa? He didn’t know how to tell her about what he had seen. Here you put them on and see for yourself. She did so. There in the wild shrubbery and buddleias, she saw something man-like, only he was oily black all over with streaks of rainbow colouring. He had an anvil and a forge and there was a strange fire, and he was hammering something, making something. She took off the glasses her eyes could not see him, she put them on and he was there at work. I’m frightened said Lisa, let’s get out of here. They slowly backed away, turned and ran.

Next episode: The children discover that his name is Adam and that he is making a weapon to fight against his enemies.

The Rent Office

Jimmy was a good friend, he was warm and unassuming and I got on well with him.
I bumped into him in the street, it was an overcast day and a bit dark.
He was going down to pay his rent he said. So we parted and I carried on until for some abstract reason I thought I should accompany him. I would have to catch him up. He was gone.

So I walked down to the rent office to find him. The rent office is a huge building. It is 16 stories high and covers a large area dominating an old high street of a long-forgotten town that had been absorbed into the asteroid belt of the big city.

I walked into the building from the rear. There in a glass foyer area was a reception desk with 3 desks but only one receptionist. A queue of people stood impatiently in line to see him. He was obviously irritable with everybody so I decided not to ask for directions.

I walked through a dirty old door and came to the loading bay area, there were no Lorries and no warehousemen so I carried on along the platform to the opposite side and went through the door flaps.

Now I was in a long corridor with a zigzag bend in the middle of it, locked doors all the way down the sides and a sense of disuse. I walked down, passed the zigzag, hoping the next half of the corridor would be different, it was not. I had a feeling of wasted time and energy and wanted to get out of there. At the end, through another door was a concrete stairwell that seemed to rise up into a vanishing point. I walked up the squared rising stairwell to the next level and opened a door.

A short passageway opened out into a huge high ceilinged waiting area. It was gloomy due to the weather. A few people sat in the rows of plastic chairs. A receptionist sat at a computer alone. I asked for the rent office. He didn’t look up, he was too preoccupied, he didn’t want to talk.

I crossed the large open hall and had to choose between two sets of doors leading into two corridors. I went to the right. It led to a lift with two lift doors and lights going on and off and strange crunching noises. I looked at the placarded list of floors. It was old with flaked paint. Nothing, no rent office. This was one of the older council rent offices where things were written on bits of paper and stuck on the wall, still no rent office.

I left the lift area and descended back down a stairwell to the floor beneath. A large grimy industrial area opened up full of crates and benches full of old tools and machinery covered over in filthy canvas sheets. A menacing man looked at me as if I wasn’t supposed to be there so I hurried on with the feeling I was being followed by a monstrous enemy until I came to a little door covered in grime and went through.
There was a big empty courtyard with walls all around it, I felt trapped, fearful. I searched for a way back into the building.

I came upon an old door that led to an old lift shaft, the sort that had cages all around it. I tried to call the lift, nothing happened. I walked up a narrowing unlit forgotten staircase like those in the towers of medieval castles to the next floor and saw a double set of doors onto a waiting room area. This was the council enquiry room. Two or three dozen worried people were crammed into the room. Sitting on plastic chairs or standing in a huddle by the door. It was a ticketed system and a red-backlit number said 665. My friend was nowhere to be found.

I left and found another stairwell and I made the bad choice of climbing all the way to the top. On the top floor was a large open plan office space with desks set up in rows. Women were engaged in making calculations on their computers. I had the feeling of walking into an off-limits part of the building and that I was unwelcome. I did a quick about-face and went down the stairs to the floor below.
Just as I was about to leave the stairwell I happened to look out of the window. Way down below I saw an ambulance and someone was being carried into it.

The door into the blue sky

There were many hands thrust through the bars, fanned out fingers on stiff wrists on pale white stalk arms.
Pleading to be free to the man inside
The cat man, the prayer man, the singer of sons
The man in captivity.
The volcano had hurled out iron bars like spears that landed like wickerwork supports around him and were hammered home into the round slots in the base of the iron basket
Outside the window, the skies burned red.
A tall giant of a man with a club herded the worshippers passed the iron cage like hysterical mourners filtering passed a monarchs coffin.

Blue skies opened their doors.
She was in the bath.
The bathroom was filled with scent and bubbles and soft pink towels.
In a kind of trance, she opened the window of her council house and flew out. Feathers began to cover her nakedness; she looked down at the council estate
At the lengthening shadows, at the sun melting down.
In a scrapheap, in a caravan, in a manger
She saw a baby crying.
On a garbage dump in a prison in a prison cell
Pidgeon’s had flocked hard and close in the shadowy interior.
She rose higher into where day melted into the night.
Just as the last second ticked away the door into the blue sky closed and a door into night opened

The cricket jumped through the jungle without any sense of where he was going, freedom was built into his hind legs
Freedom sang as they catapulted the little green body skywards
But then he came upon some thick impenetrable overgrowth that covered a standing stone. He landed and stared hard. He could just make out a figure carved into the surface.
It was a man in strange clothing with staring eyes.
The cricket began to think, here was a representation of what all living creatures could be, it showed him that he could be like this carving of this man standing stone.
Now he was a cricket that could be transformed into much more, he could think of himself as an extraordinary being that had come back to life to the amazement of all around him. He could be half cricket, half-god; he could rise up to be amongst the stars.

The nurse walked orderly down the hospital corridor and into the changing room.
She sat down on a plastic chair and listened to the drumbeat of her racing heart.
The drumbeat grew louder, deafeningly loud.
She lost consciousness and fell to the floor.
Then she escaped along a pathway made of hearts and into a long-abandoned market.
It was ominously dark there, plums and grapes were piled high upon the tables blocking out the light.
She felt she was being squeezed. She felt she was changing into someone else, she looked into a pool of fresh rainwater and she could see a purple shape with black wings, she was being lifted off her feet by something with strange black wings and was taken back down the hospital corridor and into the ward.

The plasticine man was sober and asleep.
He lay on the bench outside the government building
He had superhuman hearing and he could hear the politicians in the inner chamber of the building debating the new bill.
The plasticine man began to gain weight.
Then his legs began to stretch. Then his arms were stretched out like string along the street and over Westminster Bridge.
He felt no pain; he enjoyed the changes that sleep brought over him. He looked forward to waking up to find out what new thing he had become.
Would he be sitting in the Commons? Would he be a politician?
Would he be beneath a tree splattered like a fallen egg from a nest?
Would he be swept up like litter by the street cleaner?
Suddenly he felt a stab of pain, and then he heard a hammering on a door and a loud voice.
“No” he cried, No, stop, stop”

There was a storm brewing. The clouds were darkening but one cloud was darkening more than the others.
It was developing thoughts, it tried to control them but it could not.
It had a belly full of lightning.
It was becoming psychotic.
Black horse’s legs grew beneath it.
A face appeared in its thunderous mass.
Soon it was out of control, roaring across the land screaming and cursing.
The other storm clouds become white with shock; all of their energy was taken away from them by the psychotic black cloud.
As the psychotic black cloud reached the ocean it exploded.
Thoughts turned into rain and anger turned into blood and it rained down upon the ocean.
Then there was silence.

A Criticism of the Suit

The wearing of a suit usually means you are not allowed to express yourself. You are part of a group managed by a higher authority. You are given your orders and expected to follow them. What do I mean by self-expression? I think it means being able to discuss all things, argue all things and question all things that have put you into a suit. The drawbacks of wearing a suit are that those who require it have put themselves above you and are able to control you. The school uniform means that all children are there to obey the rules, so to the office suit, the military uniform etc. If you discover something new, of benefit to others or a mistake in the thinking of those over you will you be listened to? Will they engage with you in smoothing out and trying to understand your insight your question, your point of view? Sometimes it can seem that only if you wear a suit will you be listened to, so it seems to be the opposite of the uniform thinking, and yet this will isolate outsiders, even to the point of causing harm.
The history of the suit – it seems to have begun with Victorian fashion with a mind to make people fit in with a certain class way of thinking. If you wanted to mix with a certain kind of people you have to dress like them. The Sunday best of the poor people who went to church was more of a way of fitting in than the worship of God. There was a time with ancient Greeks for instance when fashion was limited to how you folded your gown around you, with new folding techniques sweeping across society, while modern clothing is very varied and self-expressive so why are authorities still mildly afraid or critical of people who do now dress like them? Presenters on TV in their suits all the time, come what may. Still, the Sunday best suit prevails in religious communities. Still the uniform, the toe the line and be in order. It makes things easy for those who want to be in command, good or bad, to turn their staff, pupils, etc. into a papier-mache society.
If a person cannot express themselves to those in charge of them what do you end up with? Everything goes flat and a kind of lifelessness enters our existence and w cannot live our lives with any meaning except that which is imposed upon us.

The sayings of John Ruskin

There is no wealth but life.

Make your young hearers resolve to be honest in their work in this life – Heaven will take care of them for the other.

The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility, I don’t mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do.

The first condition of education is being able to put someone to wholesome and meaningful work.

The power, whether of painter or poet, to describe rightly what he calls an ideal thing, depends upon its being to him not an ideal but a real thing. No man ever did or ever will work well, but either from actual sight, or sight of faith.

In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it

The majesty of nature depends upon the force of the human spirit.

That which is required in order to the attainment of accurate conclusions respecting the essence of the Beautiful is nothing more than earnest, loving, and unselfish attention to our impressions of it.

You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil.

It is not how much one makes but to what purpose one spends.

Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.

The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.

Education is the leading of human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them.

A thing is worth what it can do for you, not what you choose to pay for it.

Do not think of your faults, still less of other’s faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.

Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know in life.

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.

To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education.

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies for instance.

But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them.

Modern travelling is not travelling at all; it is merely being sent to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility.

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.

That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings.

People are perpetually afraid of doing wrong; but unless they are doing its reverse energetically, they do it all day long, and the degree does not matter.

To watch the corn grow, or the blossoms set; to draw hard breath over the plough or spade; to read, to think, to love, to pray, are the things that make men happy.

What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light.

Better the rudest work that tells a story or records a fact, than the richest without meaning.

A great thing can only be done by a great person, and they do it without effort.

Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back,

People are eternally divided into two classes, the believer, builder, and praiser, and the unbeliever, destroyer and critic.

To speak and act truth with constancy and precision is nearly as difficult, and perhaps as meritorious, as to speak it under intimidation or penalty.

Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty.

It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close.

You will find that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help other people, will, in the quickest and most delicate ways, improve yourself.

The entire object of true education, is to make people not merely do the right thing, but to enjoy right things; not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love knowledge.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

The principle of all successful effort is to try to do not what is absolutely the best, but what is easily within our power, and suited for our temperament and condition.

A book worth reading is worth buying.

Every great person is always being helped by everybody; for their gift is to get good out of all things and all persons.

Tell me what you like and I’ll tell you what you are

Gunter’s Strange Story

Bagshaw and Wood discovered him. – Bagshaw and Wood? Yes sir, the Solicitors. He was hiding in their sculpture garden … at the back of their office. Well, the secretary really, she was out there emptying the tea-pot down the drain because the electricity had been cut off when she accidentally disturbed a hidden wasps nest, she was stung several times before she got back inside to safety. She looked out through the cellar window to see this red-headed boy screaming for help as the wasps were all over him. The flower seller next door knew about these things, he turned his hose on them and they all fled leaving him writhing on the ground. I looked at him; he was the orphan boy who had gone missing last year from the convent in Wapping. Even now he wasn’t about to be so easily captured, gritting his teeth he jumped over the fence into old UFO’S garden. UFO? Yes sir, so-called because he had a run-in with a UFO one dark morning flying above Commercial Road. He was walking back from his night job in Shoreditch and it following him, early one morning. A bright red ball, he stopped and looked around and there it was behind him against the western sky, late one morning. It came nearer to him as he stood there. I woke up in my bed above the office, disturbed by something and I looked out of the window and there they were: bright red UFO and our man. Then I saw it vanish, quick as the click of a camera. Yea, this part of Commercial Road you know, strange things have happened, you know sir, yes sir. Once a gypsy came selling lavender sprigs down the road and around the back, he was hungry sir. No one would buy anything from him. The next night Gerry hit round the back with a parcel of bombs. The old pub was saved that’s all I care about. The secret police came after the word got out, that is, about the UFO. Proper interrogation, tied to a chair, they concluded me and ’im was barmy. Now, this red-headed boy appears in the garden again, next night he was seen in a neighbour’s garden late at night, then another neighbour and another, police were called. Nobody could catch him. Then he seemed to be in two gardens at once, then the whole side of our street saw him, then … one strange night he appeared in everybody’s garden at once, staring at everyone staring back, then all of ‘em vanished as quick as the click of a camera.
The local reporter came round at least, but he wasn’t the real one. He questioned me. Ere who are you? I asked him. He winked at me, I was gone, and I left ‘im in the street. He disturbed me no end, this impersonator. Then Bagshaw of Bagshaw and Wood had a strange dream about me, sir, that I was an impersonator and that I was not who I said I was. But sir, honestly I am who I am. – I got sacked the next morning, they couldn’t take the chance of me not being me …

2020