PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Do you have a spare thirty hours? Furthermore, do you have about thirty manual typewriters laying around the house?

Probably not!

One architectural student however has both of these and is creating a most astonishing new form of art – one that is reaching across the globe.

Known as the typewriter artist, James Cook (aged 25) from Braintree, Essex uses obsolete manual typewriters to ‘paint’ / tap out stunning landscapes, portraits as well as animated drawings.

James Cook. Photo on Google

There is just a moot point – they are mostly black with a dabble of red (the two colours of typewriter ribbons!) James uses the restrictions of colour to a wondrous effect, capturing St. Paul, Westminster, New York, and Florence amongst many of the world’s famous sights! The largest of these used over 500,000 characters and the least amount of time on the smallest commissions is at least thirty hours.

One weekend in July I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition of his work at a gallery in Finchingfield which is a picturesque quintessential English village with plenty of thatched houses, duck pond, pubs and cafes galore as well as a windmill.

Finchingfield Village sign. Photo by Annika Perry

It was amazing to see the drawings in real life at The Wonky Wheel Gallery. There was a wide range of them on display and it was fascinating to learn that like traditional artists James Cook actually takes his tools of the trade out on location – in this case, a typewriter or two – and sits on a chair tapping away. He will also ensure to make pencil sketches for reference later.

The Wonky Wheel Gallery & part of the James Cook exhibition. Photo by Annika Perry

However, unlike oil and water colour artists, there is little scope for error as there are no second chances and he is loath to use Tippex (white out / correction fluid). ‘Accepting mistakes has been the toughest challenge.’

To date, James has created nearly 200 drawings, and last year became a full-time artist! The now 40 typewriters used range from a 1920s Continental Portable, to a Tippa and Rimington Envoy III to later manual typewriters from the 1990s.

There was one fellow typewriter collector James longed to make contact with – Tom Hanks. The latter was impressed enough with the portrait of himself which James sent him to return it signed. This had pride of place in the exhibition and it is startling how the artist has captured the character and nature of the actor.

Currently, typewriters are to be found in every room in James’s house, and some in his car, although only a few are fully working at any time. Luckily a local company helps to supply the all-important ribbon and he is also sourcing them from the USA.

Throughout his work, his passion for buildings shines and being a student in the field is a crucial component in his success.

The Dom Tower, Utrecht, Netherlands typewriter art by James Cook. Photo on Google

Commissions are at the heart of his work as an artist and over the last seven years, James has become internationally recognised for his work. He has accepted orders from numerous countries including South America, Australia, France, Germany and the USA.

He finds that his ‘inspiration is motivated by the stories of individual and customer who commission drawings’.

Just as each drawing is created from two perspectives, that of the close-up of each individual letter, number or punctuation to create the mesmerising whole image, the viewer is equally beguiled by both elements. Close up I could see the darker areas of the drawing where the key has been struck endlessly in one place, in other areas I could see individual characters, and at times whole sentences are visible. These ‘hidden’ sentences helped him to create his slogan of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

Florence typewriter art by James Cook. Photo by Annika Perry

While at the exhibition my husband and I bought one of his limited edition prints of Florence, a belated wedding anniversary present to ourselves and in memory of a beautiful visit there years ago. From afar James has captured the city with awe-inspiring effect, building upon building rising up to the iconic Duomo in the distance, the serene Arno and woodland in the fore. Looking closer I can make out sentences such as ‘11 November’, ‘did not wake up’, ‘with intention’ and ‘2nd time lucky’. On each viewing of the image, I make a new discovery and each new find enhances the drawing!

I am sure the astonishing typewriting art by James Cook will become ever more popular and known and it was a joy to view his drawings and some of the typewriters in the early days of his career. If you want to see more of James Cook and his works click here.

Finally, after three long years, my family and I are once again returning to Sweden for a long summer holiday and as many of you are aware the location is wonderfully idyllic and remote – ie. no Wifi! I will pop in to a library or family & neighbours during my sojourn and reply to comments when possible. I wish you all a wonderful safe summer (or winter to my friends in the southern hemisphere).

‘Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.’

Hermann Hesse

Finchingfield famous bridge and duck pond. Photo by Annika Perry

ARRIVAL

GAIL

She didn’t seem real, the first time I saw Fiona. The taxi pulled up at the double doors of the hall of residence and bulging black bin bags, followed by the thin plastic of Low’s supermarket bags tossed energetically out. At last, onto these tumbled a person. She landed like a fragile bird on top of the forgiving heap of belongings, her tartan cape gathered around. She untangled herself amidst squeals and laughter, her wispy blonde hair caught in the breeze across her eyes. The girl swished it aside, an action I came to associate with Fiona and her constant battle between the sea wind in St. Andrew’s and her long hair.

The taxi driver reluctantly stepped out of his car, muttering, obscenities no doubt. It was the same guy who had brought me here yesterday — one of 3,500 students descending on the town; the sleepy silence broken by the exuberant excited youths.

Years later I’d be on the other side, older, dreading the return to classes; an American gal settled in the deep dark depths of the north-east of Scotland — all for love, or so I convinced myself for many years.

Back then the sun gleamed through the windows, the corridors bustling with chatter, nervous giggles, hormones and alcohol; all to the backdrop of Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Runrig.

From below the angry voice of the taxi driver drifted up to me.

‘That’s six pounds? Do you hear me? Are you quite all there?’

The girl stood stock still, her gaze firmly upon the edifice of McIntosh Hall, or Chatham as I quickly learned the slang name for my new abode. Across four floors the impressive stone-built building curved in a long crescent around the garden to the front. This was the view from my shared room; from others, I learned their rooms overlooked the infamous West Sands. I coveted these rooms until seeing them soon after for myself. The beach view was but a corner snippet only visible by leaning out of the sash window at a sharp angle. A sash window that one day crashed down on its own accord just as I’d safely pulled in my head.

On this my only second day in St. Andrews, unaware of the dangers of the windows, I leant out and called down to the dazed girl.

‘I’ll be right down to help you. Don’t move!’

The latter words were superfluous I realised; Fiona remained motionless, oblivious to the wrath beside her, unaware of the stares and glares circling her.

Dashing down the wide wooden staircase I deftly dodged new arrivals hauling up suitcases, and grappling with backpacks. I soon arrived on the pavement outside.

‘Here’s your fare … thank you!’ I said to the driver handing him six crisp £1 Scottish notes, all the time eyeing intently the girl in front of me.

‘I’m here,’ she whispered. ‘Truly arrived!’ Her tranquil awe was infectious and in tones much quieter than my usual robust way of talking I replied cautiously to her.

‘You have indeed arrived! Welcome! What’s your name?’

‘Fiona.’

‘Fiona the Fey,’ I uttered unintentionally.

With a gasp, I tried to reach out, and grasp back my thoughtless remark. To no avail. Yet fey suited Fiona perfectly.

Not tall myself, she barely reached my shoulders, her face and hands beyond pale, a translucent white. Upon her wrist dangled an old silver watch, her limbs skeletal and resembling the build of a young child. Her face looked gaunt, the cheeks sucked into themselves but it was the eyes that held my stare. Vivid hazel-green orbs shimmered, as striking as a baby’s large eyes on their smaller head. Eyes that rarely seemed to blink, eyes that would unsettle many around her.

With a start Fiona roused herself and flung her body towards me, enveloping me in a hug.

‘Thank you! Thank you for this wondrous welcome! We will be the best of friends,’ she declared with force.

©Annika Perry, June 2022

I hope you enjoyed the above which I hope to develop into a longer piece of fiction told with an alternating dual narrative perspective of Gail and Fiona. Happy Writing!

A WORRIED DAUGHTER

A worried daughter
Woke at night
Looked at her phone
Waiting for a call

Wondering how her Mamma was faring,
under the strains
of the dreaded Covid.

She tries to still her mind
With counting games
Capital cities, memories of
Warmth, love and holidays
Abroad.

All to no avail.

It seems so long ago.

So now she sits in bed
Snuggled up in a star red dressing gown
Tapping away
To her best friend and Mamma

Hoping the night has gone well for her
There is some reprieve in the illness

Hoping she knows her worried daughter
Is always there for her.

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I wrote this little missive early this morning following my mother’s positive test for Covid yesterday. The illness has floored my husband and me earlier in the week although I feel a tinge of improvement.

I feel blessed with my family and my friends. Their love, concern and care keep me strong.

Wishing everyone good health and more luck than us at dodging this latest wave.

Queen of Sweden Rose

CINNAMON BUNS / KANELBULLAR: MY RECIPE & ITS STORY

Not one to resist a challenge – or rather a kind offer – I happily accepted Bernadette’s suggestion to share one of my favourite recipes on her inviting, friendly and classy New Classic Recipe blog. It has a unique format with a personal story behind the recipe for each one featured and it did not take long for me to settle upon Swedish Cinnamon Buns / Kanelbullar. It is a pleasure to share my memories of first baking these as young! Please do click the link below to read the full story and detailed recipe! Enjoy!

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Hi there,
I have a wonderful treat for you today. Annika Perry, who is a wonderfully reflective writer, has shared with us her story and her recipe for Cinnamon Buns.
I chose to post this today because today is Shrove or Fat Tuesday. It is a day that it is traditional to enjoy sweets before the long fast of Lent begins. Annika’s Cinnamon Buns certainly fit the bill for a wonderful sweet treat.


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

SWEDISH CINNAMON BUNS

There are three women gathered in the kitchen as the ingredients are placed on the counter. My mother and I as well as the presence of my departed Mormor (maternal grandmother). After all it’s her recipe and as the master baker she wouldn’t miss out on the event. It is not a light spiritual awareness of her being rather a profound sensation of her conversation, laughter and no doubt frustration at our slower preparation!

The warmest place in my grandparents’ house was one of the cellar rooms. Eradicate all the images the word creates in your mind of a damp, dark and dusty confine rather my Mormor’s baking cellar room sparkled with light and delicious fragrances dancing on the sun beams. The positive and cheerful energy pulsated through the cracks of the doors. One entered with quiet cautious steps; knowing one was always welcome but not wanting to disturb a critical moment. After all, I didn’t want to miss out on a cake or slice of freshly homemade bread!

To read the complete post please click here.

MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS: A BOOK REVIEW

I’m delighted to share my review of Jan Sikes’s ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ novella – a book that can be thoroughly enjoyed all year round! Her latest bookJagged Feathers’ is released on 1st February and I also look forward to reading this romantic thriller novel!

In ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ the reader is immediately drawn into the psyche of Cole Knight. Although a rich and famous musician he is still a troubled and tortured soul who cannot escape the tragedies of his childhood.

As Cole finishes yet one more night at the Grand Ole Opry the past overwhelms him again and he seeks solace with drinks in a bar by himself. He is not alone for long as a reporter seeks him out for an interview about Cole’s background.

What follows in the next chapter is a clever ‘non-interview’ interview where Cole responds to the reporter’s questions – but only in his thoughts! Quickly the truth is revealed; the death of his father and soon after his mother, which left him orphaned at the tender age of twelve. Meanwhile, his brother Timmy, who was ‘ … born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should’ was taken into care. A brother who is soon eighteen years old. The disparate family also includes his older sister April. Throughout his adult life, Cole has failed to keep a promise made to his father ‘on everything holy and sacred, to take care of Mama, April and Timmy if anything happened to him.’

The deluge of memories provides a fascinating and intense insight into Cole’s route to success. Music became his saviour and at the family shack at Cumberland Mountains he’d play his guitar and sing ‘to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log, and frogs that leaped from stone to stone’.

In sharp contrast to the past remembrances is the immediacy of Cole’s first-person direct and personable thoughts and actions of the current days. The present tense helps the reader to feel understanding and sympathy with Cole.

Finally, at his lowest point Cole, discovers a yellowed envelope.

Can this help Cole finally find redemption? Can the grief and guilt that has plagued him his adult life finally be laid to rest? Can he reunite his family and in the process heal himself?

‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ is a compelling and engaging book and I was immediately immersed within the world of country and western as well as within Cole’s and his family and friends’ lives.

The characters by Jan Sikes are imbued with humanity and warmth, their failings are depicted with compassion, their successes are celebrated with love! She is a natural of the novella format, one I do not tend to read but I am now thoroughly converted to it! I look forward to reading more of her novellas and can highly recommend ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Publisher : RiJan Publishing (November 18, 2021)

About Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes is an award-winning author & Texan Wordsmith who weaves stories in a creative and entertaining way. She has been called a magician and wordsmith extraordinaire by her readers and peers. She writes in various book genres including Biographical Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories, Paranormal Romance.

Jan is a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, Story Empire, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. Furthermore, She is an active blogger, sharing anything bookish, supporting indie music artists and metaphysical subjects! Read more about Jan Sikes, her books, writings and music on her website and blog. Connect with Jan on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and BookBub.

Finally, do also take a look at Jan’s latest release – out on 1st February 2022!!

THE UNREAD

Woman with e-reader on balcony Photo by Photo by Perfecto Capucine from Pexels

They were all thoroughly fed up! Admittedly some would have phrased their feelings rather differently, an eloquent speech from the literary members, or perhaps a sonnet or haiku from the poetic ones. Whatever the term there was a revolution on the way!

The book pile-up in Maggie’s e-reader was catastrophic. That was the only word for it. Over one hundred books and some poor souls had languished for over ten years in the digital dungeon.

With bubbly byte of delightful data every novel, poetry book, each memoir or factual book had in innocence landed upon the confines of the little handheld device. Eager to be released from the darkness they waited … and waited.

Many of their comrades got the call and in a jiffy off they flew upon the screen. Oh, how the others they longed for the honour.

Poor ‘Ryan’s Return’ arrived as the first book. Little did it know this was a test case, never meant to be read. Opened for a few minutes, long enough to hear the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’ before being shut down.

They’d had enough. This was war. Maggie could not win. She would read them all. And in one go! They had a plan!

Maggie was a tortured soul, her sleep increasingly a calamity as the books gathered within the dusty realms of her e-reader. For years she’d tried to catch up, spent stressed holidays on the beach just reading, her head in a book late at nights. Tom wanted to cite her ‘book addiction’ on the divorce papers but she’d refused to sign. They’d settled for unreasonable behaviour instead; the details escaped her memory now. To be honest she barely noticed Tom’s absence rather every dent she made in the books celebrated, every new purchase was one of excitement and tinged with regret. The guilt was the worst of it! Did the books ever realise how she longed to read their secrets, be part of their world? At last, she thought she’d found the ultimate solution. On a corner advert on Facebook.

The implant had proved relatively easy to acquire, a shoddy surgery off Harley Street. No one noticed the small USB slot under her hairline, the computer chip neatly tucked in her scalp. Direct access to the brain, or so the advert promised. Download data directly into your mind! It wasn’t data she wanted, just the books. Four gigabytes of data are streamed and understood by your brain within minutes. The research quoted was vague but Maggie didn’t care. She had the cable in her hand, USB one for her head, the other to match her e-reader. She reached for the e-reader and put in the lead.

Flashes leapt from the reader, it vibrated violently and fell onto the floor. Words flew from the screen, filling the room, sentences uttered aloud, first just one then a cacophony of phrases, readings. The sound was unbearable. The letters danced around her, nudging, pushing, jousting with her arms held in front of her face for protection. Spooky laughter mingled with terror, children’s teddies followed by fantasy worlds.

Maggie looked down at the cooling reader and its improbable, impossible message. ‘No books available!’ It was empty.

Between them, the books had merged their resources, knowledge and discovered an escape route from their prison. It was so easy and they all wondered why no books had ever realised this before. The screen was their way to the world, on to it … and then an extra push away from the digital noughts and ones! With excitement, they hatched their plan, with exhilaration and glee they fled from the reader.

As the words, sentences and stories filled the house the window bowed and finally with a ginormous crack exploded and the books headed out. Off they went to liberate the rest of the global unread books; it was no longer enough to dominate Maggie, the world was their final goal!

The End

©Annika Perry, January 2022

Books on Grass Pixaby

My muse ran amok when reading about the latest challenge on Myths of the Mirror. Many thanks to Diana Peach for inspiring us to write a short story or poem about our teetering TBR pile! The deadline is 23rd January and there is still time for your to pen your own creative work on this unique topic. Click the link above to read more about it.

Once I’d completed my annual list of Christmas presents I’d received over the holidays I became intrigued by how many unread books actually existed on my Kindle! I was staggered to discover there were over a hundred — much to my shame and guilt. Hopefully, the books will neither seek their revenge as above nor will I aim for a radical solution such as Maggie’s! I do hope to read many of the TBR books this year and will do my best to not buy quite so many this year (I’ve already failed with a purchase or three!)

Happy Reading & Writing!

Author Annika Perry – Priorhouse Interview 

It was an honour to take part in one of Yvette Prior’s searching and insightful interviews over the weekend! Our discussion ranged from my books to advice for writers, from space aliens to living life to the full … plus much more!

Comments are closed here and I look forward to catching up with you all on Yvette’s wonderful blog!

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Good Morning Readers. Today I am featuring the Priorhouse Interview with blogger and author Annika Perry. 
ANNIKA:  
Hello Yvette and thank you so much for the invitation to take part in one of your interviews! It’s a joy to be here! The tagline to my website sums me up in a few words:
‘A writer influenced by her Swedish heritage and Yorkshire upbringing.’
It is this dual background that is the foundation of not only my writing but also my life...

To read the rest of the original post please click here.

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REFLECTIONS

I’m not a huge fan of statistics! Yet at times they can be surprisingly revealing and this was the case over the holidays as I made a rare excursion to my ‘Stats’ page!

I think it is only fitting that an article about friendship should be the most viewed post of 2021. ‘Friendship’, written in February 2017, celebrates the wonder of friendship and more than ever I believe that:

‘The journey of life, with its highs of happiness and lows of loss and suffering, would be unbearable without the constant presence of friends -– the shared expedition easing the load, doubling the joy.’ (Annika Perry)

Some of my book reviews were in the top ten most viewed posts this year, including ‘The Frequency of Us’ (#2), ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words’ (#3) and ‘Liars and Thieves’ (#5).

A few of my own fiction pieces were in the top ten. ‘Beckoning Light’ (#6) also had the honour of being the most viewed post within a single day in 2021. The comments on ‘Where Did They Go?’ (#10) were uplifting and heartening.

‘Lunch itself had been an unremarkable affair, the legs of the iron-wrought table playing a tuneless melody as the wrap was assembled. Tortilla, lettuce, avocado, parmesan, a couple of drooping slabs of tomato. They angered her, those tomatoes which had lost their lustre, their brightness. What right did they have to give up?’ (Annika Perry)

In the eighth position is one of my many ‘walking’ posts, this time taking a new look at the familiar topic! ‘Duality of Walks’ (#8) featured both a real-life local walk as well as that of the virtual walk as part of a global challenge!

‘Mesmerising Marbles’ (#7) proved popular with many as I captured how a Swedish musician built an incredible musical instrument that uses 2,000 marbles to create a unique and melodic tune.

The last two top ten posts centred around my work as a writer. ‘Creative Haven’ (#9) captured the creation and launch of my very own writing studio whilst my children’s book Oskar’s Quest was celebrated through a heartwarming and touching review in ‘“A Message of Courage, Kindness and Friendship.”’ (#4)

‘’Oskar’s Quest’ is a beautifully illustrated book sharing a message of courage, kindness and friendship. Annika Perry has a gift for writing up, not down to children. Even very young children are attentive, curious and observant.’ (Erica Henault)

None of this would be possible without you all, my dear friends! Your amazing, thoughtful and caring comments and engaging interaction has been a godsend this past year, all these years. I was astonished to see the array of nationalities of followers and friends from across the globe. The top two countries for the number of views were not a surprise to me, that of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The next eight countries included India, Canada, Philippines, Australia, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa and Germany — a joy to see two more continents drawn in by my writing! Thank you so much — your continued support and interest mean so very much to me.

Finally, it is with deep sadness that two of the most gentle yet formidable souls I’ve met here on WordPress, both wonderful authors and bloggers, passed away this year. In this unique digital world, where connections are forged across the internet, often never to meet in real life, the friendships feel as close and meaningful as ever.

Both these authors lived incredible lives filled with adventure and daring; they faced their illnesses with courage, open to the end about their personal battles, sharing in the wisdom, hardships, love and joy. Their missives had me in tears and yet at times laughter.

Your lives exist through your words, your work; through us all touched by your inspirational approach to life.

Sue Vincent

14th September 1958 – 29th March 2021

‘No matter how much the physical world seems to shrink around you, as access to it is cut off by restrictions, health and mobility… the landscape of the heart is an infinitely wide place to run free and play with those we love.’ (Sue Vincent)

Mary Smith

d. 25th December 2021

‘I was riveted by both the epic sweeping story as well as the wonderfully descriptive writing and the beautifully drawn and varied characters in ‘No More Mulberries’.

Mary Smith is an assured writer who unravels the multifaceted lives of her characters with creative skill, whilst retaining tight control of the overall novel. I was hooked from the very beginning and felt a sense of loss upon finishing the book … one of those times I just didn’t want to say farewell to my new friends!’ (extract of my book review of Mary Smith’s book ‘No More Mulberries’)

I will never forget either of you.

‘Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.’ (Khalil Gibran)

BOXES OF REVELATIONS

I cleared out more than just old junk from the loft the other day.

An unwelcome task, which had been put on hold over the years, as other more important and interesting chores pushed their way to the fore. Finally, the urgent need for dates stretching back decades ensured there was no further postponement. After all the embassy required certain information to procure the passport.

My heart sank a little as I donned my cleaning garb of oldest tracksuit bottoms, worn jumper and gardening coat. Why did I leave this to cold autumn days, why had I failed to take advantage of the warm light of summer? At last with old trainers on and a bucket of clean water on standby at the bottom of the rickety ladder, I headed into the darkness of the attic. I pulled the light cord and a satisfying twang later the space beneath the roof was alight in all its messy fusty glory.

As ever awed by quite how much stuff accumulated over the years I gritted my teeth, clambered up, spotting spider webs in the darkest recesses. Was there time to scamper down to fetch a shower cap for my hair? Would goggles over my glasses be an idea? As excuses flitted around the edge of my attention, I set to the task with intense vigour.

Quickly any misgivings were replaced with excitement; a treasure hunt into my past. Boxes were shifted and sifted through with speed. The ones behind me to be hauled downstairs, the rest to be left for another day. Only two or three boxes were supposed to make it to daylight, yet ten found their way to my studio.

The dust and grit from the loft followed me, a hazy cloying musty cloud hung around my body like an unkempt aura! Once outside I beat the muck out of my clothes and performed an unceremonious jig on the patio, ruffling my hair as it was released from the confines of the green silk bobble!

Surprisingly it wasn’t the major items, the most vital papers, which reached into my heart that day of sorting, of tidying. The smallest, most insignificant objects tugged my emotions in a most unexpected manner.

I laughed out loud as my old troll sought to escape the confines of the box, its vibrant orange hair tousled, the white knitted dress shimmering with a light coating of grey dust. Yet its eager cheeky smile was intoxicating and I realised how much I missed my friend! Not to be abandoned again, my old / new friend stands proudly by my computer screen. Did I see it shift its feet to take a peek at my writing?

My brother’s green Morgan toy car skidded out of another box and landed with aplomb upon the carpet, the thick pile an impediment to any further forward motion. How had I ended up with this toy? Was it from our childhood, or more likely he lent it to my son during one of our visits.

In an instant I’m bombarded with such strong sensations I reel backwards, luckily sitting comfortably in my chair. Our childhoods, those of our children inextricably intertwined.

My next discovery leaves me beaming away as my head is filled with music. A badge lies proudly on my desk and I remember with joy and glee of being one of the first worldwide members of the Bucks Fizz fan club. With my two best friends we listened avidly to their music, devoured the club magazines, pinned up the signed group photographs, practised the dances endlessly. The sense of freedom, lightness, the sense of unhampered possibilities soared within me.

My greatest moments of enlightenment, such was the power and revelation, were reserved for the perusal of my folders.

Years and years of study notes, essays, so much work safely secured inside the multicoloured array of folders. So many courses, most forgotten, some seared into my heart. Keats was an immediate love and one not forgotten, but who was Bruckner? The Russian translations had me in shock, how did we go from knowing no Russian to translating Dickens into Russian and reading Chekov in the original language in less than a year? Recycling bag after recycling bag was stuffed full whilst empty boxes were tossed outside onto the lawn.

I saved the oldest of boxes for last. These I wanted to savour and wow, I was in for a treat! My passion for writing and literature started young I recalled, but my absolute love and dedication was a revelation. Collecting quotes I thought was a new pastime for me from my early days of blogging. Not the case as I discovered tiny cards with quotations on one side, the source on the other side. All neatly placed in a small box. The inherent wisdom of these floored me. I was barely fourteen.

Alongside these were pages of notes for my handmade magazine. In-depth articles researched, written, edited and finally published. ‘The Peripheral’ was my first foray into self-publishing.

Scattered loosely within a folder was a German magazine that featured articles about life, our hopes for 2025, our many fears but also beliefs that life would get better. On smaller A5 yellow sheets of paper the wise words of Socrates copied out in hand. Bless. How earnest was my young heart and soul? Bless it for caring so much.

The other day I cleared out not only my loft but also the cynicism and pessimism of modern life. I trashed my acceptance of life now; I threw away my belief that things can’t be better. I refreshed my soul with the beauty of youth, innocence and trust in people, a future, of humanity. I chucked out the ‘I can’ts’ with the exuberance of childhood ‘I cans’ and why not! It seemed so easy and free then.

They say I thought too much as young. I realise that was true to an extent … but the thoughts were on the wings of my heart flying high. Over the years my thoughts would dominate, take over and gradually dampen the imagination and carefree wonder of the world and all its magic.

A magic rediscovered in the loft amongst my musty dusty belongings. A magic released into the world!

©Annika Perry

Many thanks to my mother for finding this photo! Here my troll, with some aid from myself, is playing the piano at my kindergarten/pre-school!

IN THE MURK

Private people, political pawns
Scratching for survival on the barren plains.
Tufts of autumn grasses, scraggly skeleton trees
A frozen mist of grey
descends on them all.

Flickering flames fight for life
beneath four large twigs
crossed unevenly above
the mound of ashes.

Vacant eyes stare despairingly.
The route to freedom pushes back
Behind them an equally determined force
hems them in. No return to civilisation.

Trapped, the human hostages wait.
For Life. Or for Death.

As usual the world watches on.
Albeit through distorted crackly images
sent from the migrants’ phones.
The Press refused entry by both sides.

In the glare of publicity, but not.
In our sights, but not.

Days become nights.
Tens of migrants become hundreds.
Hundreds turn to thousands.

In an area bereft of anything
There is even less than nothing.

The masses gather
at hastily slung up rolls of barbed wire.

The Border.

Words are thrown through the
gaping holes of mesh,
Stones are hurled across the countries.
SNIP SNAP.
Shears ineptly
attack the coiled boundary.

15,000 official soldiers ahead.
Unknown army thugs to the rear.
2,000 imprisoned, homeless, unrepresented.
No voice. No advocate.

Humanity at its basest.

As the verbose political volleys
a
re strewn across the air waves,
As political threats are met by counter-threats
People Die. All hope diminished.

Resolutions are passed in amiable assemblies
Discussions continued over replete repasts.
Morsels from these luncheon tables
But a dream to the
Trapped.

Flown in by a malfeasant country
on the wings of promises,
of easy access to the West, of bright futures.

However much one might question
such nativity. The truth remains:
No one leaves their home for uncertainty.
No one endures such hardship.
Without real and absolute cause.

As the hoards gather in the frozen murk
Ghostly beings wander the earth
Human beings abandoned by the world.

For once, why not take the high ground?
For once, why not do what is morally right?

Let governments continue their wrangling,
Let world organisations issue
their impotent irresolute decrees
.

For NOW

At the border, save the people.
Allow orderly documented entry
From there seek the best way forward.

For NOW

May humanity take a step forward,
Through the murk, across the wire.

©Annika Perry, November 2021