Compassion

Giant: illustration by Arthur Rackham
Giant: illustration by Arthur Rackham

When Mick was little he thought of big Gus as Shouty Man.

All he could think of while growing up was being big enough to give Gus a taste of his own medicine.

Only now, as a six footer, with Gus shrunk to a little wizened man, Mick realised what being Big truly meant.

· ( • ) ·

· Flash Fiction Fifty Five, a short story of only 55 words (including title)
More on giants in this review here

SPAM #1 → MAPS #1

Zenrinji

map

Maps for transforming nonsense spam

Original
Genuinely when someone doesn’t be aware of afterward its up to other users that they will assist,
so here it takes place.

Nonsense → Sense

Genuinely, when someone doesn’t?
Be aware of afterward!
It’s up to other users that they will assist so.
Here it takes place.

Acknowledgement: Lizze Ross for competition submission

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We Heart Libraries … or whatever

heart-libraries
We ♥ Libraries: one of many visual library memes available online

People who love books love libraries.

That’s a sort of given, isn’t it? Those of a certain age usually see it as a place of hushed reverence, a temple of learning where obeisance is paid to the written word, from where you might even extract some small portion of the hallowed manna to enjoy privately for an extended period of time.

But if, traditionally, the library has been viewed as a “repository of resources” then today that paradigm has changed, evolved, morphed into the concept of the building as a place to support the entire community. The library is no more: the buzz phrase now is community hub. This is a place for the community to link to a global community via Wi-Fi; a venue for groups to meet, socialise or conduct business; a centre for education and training; a site for additional services and other agencies to share. This rebranding foresees a near future when all libraries are to be regarded as facilitators instead of deliverers.

Continue reading “We Heart Libraries … or whatever”

Message in a bottle

Entries invited for my first (and only) spam poetry competition:

Zenrinji

footprints footprints

No matter
if some one searches
for his essential thing,

thus he/she wishes to be
available

that in detail,
so that thing is maintained
over here.

A recent, recycled entry in my ongoing spam poetry competition
Do you have a favourite bit of spoetry you think qualifies? Post it as a comment below; please note, it will only be considered if it ends up in my spam folder.

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Cryptic inscriptions

The Catamanus Stone, Anglesey (Wikipedia Commons)
Detail from the Catamanus Stone, Llangadwaladr, Anglesey (Wikipedia Commons)

Living in Wales means living in a landscape where the past is never too far away — eloquent place names, ancient monuments, local legends and folklore. A particular class of monuments are those so-called Dark Age memorial stones inscribed with words, runes, pictograms and abstract patterns that litter the countryside, not just here in Wales but around the north and west of Britain. This repost of a review (it first appeared online in May 2014) looks at one man’s interpretation of what some of these enigmatic inscriptions might mean.

Charles Thomas
Christian Celts: Messages & Images
Tempus Publishing 1998

This is a book that is worth persevering with. Despite its often complex arguments it is shot through with Thomas’ dry wit and apposite asides, and — coming as it does from an acknowledged expert in the field of church history and archaeology — it is also worth taking seriously. He introduces the historical, educative and commemorative contexts that post-Roman inscriptions fitted into; he discusses the insular background in the Celtic-speaking regions of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall; and he also delves into the religious implications of some of the texts. But he does more than just give an overview of these enigmatic messages.

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Wonder women

dragon
Lifesize (?) dragon sculpture outside a bedroom window, Miskin Manor, Cardiff

Jessica Yates editor
Dragons and Warrior Daughters:
fantasy stories by women writers

Lions Tracks 1989

This is a pleasing collection of eight short stories by seven female fantasy writers, featuring pieces which mostly appeared in the 70s and 80s with the earliest first published in the 1930s. Here are big names such as Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee and Robin McKinley, with a couple of doyennes like Vera Chapman and C L Moore, plus one author I know really well — Diana Wynne Jones — and another whom I’d not previously come across — Pat McIntosh. The title gives an inkling of what’s in store: yes, there are dragons (three tales with these), and there are female warriors (three in total), but the collection ranges a little more widely than is implied. Most have settings which feel medieval, but a couple are less constrained, either deliberately located in some parallel universe or involving a descent into nightmare and horror.

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A dream of death

An exercise I wrote a term or two ago for a creative writing class, I forget on what theme.

Zenrinji

mushroom_cloud

He’d never been close to death until then.

Yes, he’d seen dead bodies – his grandma, his father, a body in a road. True, this was death, but death as it had happened to others, deaths already tainted by premonitions of their passing or tinged with the innocent curiosity that characterises the young. This was not imminent death as it might apply to him: a moment of reckoning, a brief interval pointlessly proffered to put his house in order.

For those who’ve lived through it, even if memories have faded, the Cold War was a time of surviving on a precipice. Sometimes its edge visibly crumbled at one’s feet, as it did during the Cuba crisis. Sometimes there was just a feeling of vertiginous malaise watching grainy news footage of CND marchers, whether or not they were really cranks or communist stooges.

But one day death really came knocking at his…

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