Pen To Print

Thursday Connectors: Falling Into Fall

by Farzana Hakim

Hi, all. It’s Farzana here, your host for ‘Thursday Connectors’.

The skies have turned greyer since the last time we met and heavy drops of rain are falling on us more regularly. Like our friends across the continent would say: ‘We’re falling into fall…’ The warm sunshine-filled days of yellows, sky blues and pinks have been replaced by Autumnal colours of orange, brown and grey; yet the Coronavirus still lingers?

Although our schools and workplaces are open for business, nothing is nowhere near normal. The country is still in a partial lockdown. We are following so many rules and regulations in order to fight the virus but it still seems to be the most dominant force and reality of 2020. How long can we persevere like this?

As the daily cases are reaching worrying peaks, I’m sure you are all just as anxious and weary of this invisible enemy as I am. And thus, our first connector today is Mabel Joshua-Amadi, who has written a poem called Time, which I think is so apt for now.

Hi, Mabel. Let’s connect:

Lockdown: Time

A time to stay at home and rest
Avoid deadly disease and death
From viruses and carrier pest
That now plagues nations here on earth

A time to visit new frontier
Of knowledge, hobbies and gain skill
From reading, learning striving here
Within my log cabin and still
Try out old things in novel ways
Like washing, cleaning and cooking
Baking to meet a need that sways
The hungry tired from waiting

A time of testing and trials
Of patience, rage and power play
In homes between duds and rivals
Divas and menials everyday

A time to meditate anew
Refresh the mind and renew soul
In solitude and wish adieu
To stress and turmoil gain control
Of attitude once thought sublime
Grow in virtue, patience and grace
To face routines and chores when time
Has dealt with virus with a mace

A time to think and plan ahead
And chart fresh routes to fulfilment
Through reflection weave cords and thread
To contentment every moment

© Mabel Joshua-Amadi, 2020

*****

I hope we can learn something from your poem, Mabel. It’s so important to remain positive and on top of things isn’t it? Let’s hope our coping mechanisms, our minds and our bodies can remain strong.

Our next connector is also about the pandemic and connects with health youth workers, Heather and Grace, who work for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. They tell us how they are remaining positive and adapting to the new way of doing things to provide their services.

Hi, Heather and Grace. Let’s connect:

 

COVID-19 ‘The Zoom Lament’: Heather and Grace Health Youth Workers LBBD

The country is in the grip of a Pandemic and we are in the grip of fear!
What has brought this anxiety on? The dreaded Zoom sessions.
Everyone who knows us, knows we are IT dinosaurs.

We are the kiss of death for anything electrical. We can crash the entire system just by looking at it!
We are breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.
This needs to be done as there is no other way to see our young people.
First, we need to download the app and then set up a session… So far so good 😊
Now, we face ‘What can go wrong will go wrong’ syndrome, as we cannot get the time right… HELP!

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, sadly.
OK, now we have the session set… Phew! Breathe out, what can go wrong?!

D-Day… First session. All links sent out, session plan at our side, no problem just a quick test between us for sound, and guess what, oh dear we cannot hear one another. DISASTER – we have fallen at the first hurdle!

We do not have an ear trumpet between us, BUT we do both have mobile phones with speakers, so problem solved for today!

One by one, familiar faces appear on our screen, and we check in to see how everyone is coping. The young people seem excited to see one another and Grace and I are relieved that we can now keep in touch besides WhatsApp.

Challenges we face along the way are yet to come, but we are ever-resourceful.

The sound issue is resolved, but we can hear a lot of background noise as young people argue with their siblings, so a familiar refrain is:  “Put your microphone on mute now!”

Then there are the ghosts on the call… one minute there and gone the next! This would never happen in a session, so PLEASE message us to say you are going and stop the ghosting!

We need to make this fun, so we start with the challenges of learning sign language letters and numbers, young people leading sessions, cooking and sharing recipes, and engaging with lots of people who can help us with courses and information: Studio 3 Arts and Barking Carnival, to name but a few.

Then we discover the wonderful Lisa and Lena from Dagenham Library and Pen to Print. Suddenly, our cookbook has legs and the recipes go viral through Plate to Print. What could be better?!

We are like birds ZOOMING all over the place. Who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? 😊 So now we just need to tackle TEAMS!

Grace & Heather – Flipside and Peer Support Groups 2020

Please get in touch if you would like to join our groups: Grace.Kihu@lbbd.gov.uk 07875993500,  heather.mckelvey@lbbd.gov.uk, 07968511930

We’d love to meet you! 😊

*****

Thank you, Heather and Grace, for such an insightful and fun introduction to your group.

And now for our next Connector, Patsy Middleton. This Pen to Printer recently submitted some short stories within a hundred-word limit. I chose the following for this week’s ‘Connectors’ because they all use weather as a tool to give a feel of the story. I think weather is  one of the greatest tools for setting a scene in writing. And Patsy definitely knows how to use weather imagery to send chills down our spines or make our foreheads sweat. Read on for some great examples.

Hi, Patsy. Let’s connect:

The Vagrant

On a cold windy night, bundled in his coat, he prepares for sleep on a bench outside Charing Cross Station. His arms hug his body, woolly hat pulled down. I glance at him wondering what happened. What raw deal did life slip him? Irresistible compulsion burns me. He’s a person, not a ‘thing’ to be despised. With closed eyes, he ignores me. I move closer. “Here, take this.” He opens his eyes. I hold out my hand. A gloved hand reaches out, warily clasping what I give. Suspicious eyes look at it. “Thank you, Darlin’,’’ he says, as his hand disappears.

Fog In The Fifties

Fog swathes Springfield Gardens in pale dull grey, obscuring everything, even the hand before my face. I leave the pavement and walk into the park, a magic land of non-existence, a centre of enchantment. Sometimes in fog, you see the sun–a hazy hint of fuzziness floating far away. Not today. Only a suggestion of light penetrates the milky mist, too feeble to recognise the path. I’m lost! I turn full circle and see nothing to guide me. Suspended in timelessness, enchantment fades to fear. My mother’s words echo in my mind. ‘Come straight home and don’t go through the park.’

Silence In A Hot Garden

The sun sears my parched lawn. No breeze rustles leaves. I sit filling little bags with lavender. Aware of a difference, I pause. Stillness spreads a cloth of peace. Profound silence engulfs me I close my eyes and dare not breathe, fearful of breaking the miracle. The brief yet endless moment passes. Bees buzz in the lavender bush. Birds sing. A light breeze sets leaves sighing. An aeroplane drones in the cloudless sky. Children chatter in a neighbour’s garden. Dogs bark in the distance. A pigeon coos. As normal noises sound again still the silence lingers in me. Stored in my memory.

The ‘Good Old Days’

The moon shone down on rain-soaked pavements under the glow of street lights. Shadows fell beneath shivering trees as breezes caressed the branches, whispering like lovers. We would venture out at night and into pubs where pop songs droned from jukeboxes. Booze dribbled into glasses. Smoke rose from ashtrays. Oh, for those half-remembered days before they banned smoking in public. When pubs dotted our streets and we socialised in a haze and you went home stinking of smoke. Fewer and fewer pubs exist now. When we’re old and tell our grandkids of past times, will they be appalled?  

When It’s All Nonsense

You may see a flying pig or a horned horse dance a jig. There’ll be hens’ teeth and white crows. Snow in August? Who knows! While you wait for a blue moon, you can get blood from a stone. See the sunrise in the West catch the wind in a net. On that day, you’ll get red snow and, on your palm, hairs will grow. Roosters’ eggs and hairy frogs, mules that foal and talking dogs. You might see a fish that sneezes when hell’s cold then it freezes. London bridge will fall down. And Big Ben’s bell won’t sound.

*****

Excellent writing, Patsy. Why don’t we all try writing some shorts, as Patsy has done? It could be a great writing exercise to get our creative juices flowing.

That’s it for today. I hope to see you again soon for some more connectors. In the meantime, stay safe and remain positive!

Click here to read Issue 5 of Write On! Magazine.

Our First Line Generator Competition Is Now Open. The best two ‘first lines’ submitted will win a copy of The Organised Writer, by Antony Johnston.

The skies have turned greyer since the last time we met and heavy drops of rain are falling on us more regularly.