A Birth in Gaza

To those unknowing of my childhood my enigmatic and disconnected behaviour must have seemed odd and possibly uncivilised. In youth I could not see beyond getting by and surviving day by day; ‘learning’ was another country where less damaged people lived. I was busy trying to fly that alien craft I was to discover was myself. Sometime after youth I became aware I was a bruise, and every touch hurt me: intimacy, my most desired wish remained my deepest fear. In time, looking around me I saw that everyone has their bruises, and understood like me, that to a greater or lesser extent our limping and imperfect journey to a fog-bound destination was marked by the need for self-protection. Those marks, invisible to the naked eye, were our unspoken history, not recorded in those smiling photographs taken on the beach, sitting beside the man who abused you when the lights went out, or worked his cruelty deep into your soul. The mother who neglected you, so lost was she in her search for “thought perfection.”

When I was young, I grew the emotions which controlled my later life to protect what was left of my capacity to love and wonder; I had no sense of why they ruled me, or the powerful fears which gave them birth. I was secretive, enigmatic and obtuse; politely non-committal and clinging to my secret knowledge that danger has a presence everywhere. I wandered round bewildered and uncomprehending in a private landscape, armed only with a map written in secret code, trying to reach that place I called “The Other Side.” The “Other Side” was nowhere but a dream: a place or person who might offer me sanctuary and the space and peace to discover who I was.

Now in the knowledge of what such childhoods yield in later years, I look in bewildered incomprehension on that landscape of inhumanity which is the modern Gaza and wonder how the children sitting in that place, in bombed out UN shelters, might grow to adulthood and shape their lives. What maps their young minds might be drawing as I write this, to use in later years from which to navigate their future. Horror begets horror, we all know, and hatred breed hatred year on year. We dehumanise our enemies, war after war, until triumphant Hatred rises gloriously from the ruins to shout out his brave re-emergence in this, our modern landscape.

We, with our knowledge of conflict and human history; of the consequences of trauma in our lives, watch these children cry, and wonder how, out of sight of some new skyscraper, now the tallest building in the planet, we manage with every generation, to construct a new hell on earth.

I ask myself this question. “In the eyes of these still uncomprehending children, searching for a parent or some food, is some new chapter of vengeance stirring, the birth-right of hatred waiting to show itself in our still unwritten future,: a primitive anger without regard for life or love of people in cultures different to our own ?”

Posted in character, childhood, community, Environment, faith, Middle East, Peter Wells, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Old Posts re-aired starting with “The Engagement”

He loved her but it didn’t show. Gave her protection from a distance: understanding without a sense of intimacy. Just some guy in a cubicle crunching numbers through the working day. It wasn’t climbing Everest but it paid the bills.

“Hey Bill” she’d call, asking for advice. Given, always, without a comment. Some years before, and in another place, he had been king of the track and a centre of influence but that was then. Wheel- chair bound after some horrific accident he kept his glories to himself, and ambitions safely packed at home. The evenings were never short. Unfilled hours, stacked upon themselves, bought no relief from his reflective solitude.

Pride is the last refuge of the unfortunate. Spectators of the happy story. A background presence on the road to glory. Inhabitants of your peripheral vision. He loved her but it wouldn’t show.

Now the day had come. Her smiling lit-up face telling all the news. The diamond on her finger. The crowds of workers circling her desk . Asking for the details behind the grin. Without access, his chair was poor in crowds, he worked as if no news could touch him. The numbers queued up on the page, commanding attention. Patient, ordered, logical.

Desire was the door to pain. Wanting left you in a desert. Silence was his dearest friend. Why should he embarrass what he most respected. Some awkward guy, buckled in his chariot, quick of mind but lacking feet. Young but long without his youth.

“Hey Bill” she said. Moving over and standing by his chair, fingers extended in that glowing way. Sadness surfaced briefly in his eyes, saying what she never knew. His heart was like an orphanage for dreams. “I’m very pleased for you Sarah”. He spoke in monotone. Caught off-guard she stared into his depths, but now restored to ordered symmetry. “I wish you joy.”

Not all we feel is for consumption. Not all mountains can be climbed. For some, he thought, love must always be impersonal.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, fitness, Health, Life, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

300 Posts and Counting

Three hundred Blog posts seems an astonishing number would have seemed a fanciful number to me when I began Blogging over three years ago  and in many ways my life, outlook and the readership of my Blog have changed beyond recognition in that time. In short, around 180,000 words have spilled out of my strangely tuned imagination and littered the lives of a number of people, some of whom are lurching dangerously towards that small circle where  my friends are treasured.

One of the things which gives me pause for thought,  as I often write little stories, vignettes or whatever else you might call them is how, like dragon-flies, these whimsical productions buzz around brightly for a short while and then vanish into that un-light world we call ” Forgotten Posts”  along with yesterday’s newspapers, come fish and chip wrappers, fire-work displays and other examples of ephemeral wonder.

To those forgotten tales I say, thank you for being a step in the path which has got me to where I am, and helped me to learn the craft of writing, and in the process meet some fine people.

Let us therefore raise our coffee cups, sandwiches or biscuits and make a toast to forgotten postings. “You help us find out who we are.”

Posted in blog, character, community, creative writing, Environment, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Relationships, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Gathering Political Unease

I love Blogging, always have, and hopefully will continue to do so, and I talk about a lot of stuff, mostly personally based, and make up stories because that is my pleasure, but very recently as events have unfolded in Gaza and Ukraine, I have asked myself if trilling on about sandwiches or the extraordinary behaviour of some bank clerk is a proper use of my imagination.

Because I am who I am, I tend to research topics with an almost unhealthy thoroughness, and try and get behind the key characters involved. We remember don’t we, in a sense, what the movement was like towards the beginning of the First World War, and how the character of those in positions of power was regarded as significant. How the Kaiser strutted and British King, largely powerless within his own country, raised his eyebrows at the uncouth behaviour of his cousin. How the Russian Czar fell under the influence of possibly malignant individuals and the Austrian Emperor struggled to retain his threatened Empire,  but the causes of that war run much deeper  as we know.

There was a growling of political and social tectonic plates as powerful forces for change affected the landscape, and these figures in power had an influence, certainly, but there was a larger story of which they were not so aware, lost as they were in the vanities of their own situation.

Today as leaders of countries intimately involved in the troubled world I see around me, posture and make guarded speeches about what other parties and countries should be doing, while largely retaining a distance of approach so as to “not raise the international temperature” I nod sadly as the sound of those tectonic plates growls ever louder.

“Love is the answer, and you know that for sure” John Lennon sang in the sixties, but it is a lesson which we forget or continue to ignore, as hundreds of deaths in Gaza demonstrate. At the same time firing large numbers of rockets into Israel without effect , Thank God, does nothing but undermine the Palestinian case which would be made more powerful if some Ghandi like figure appeared to emphasise the humanitarian tragedy we see in the middle east.

The fight in Ukraine may be depicted as caused by the wounded pride of Putin, whose nose was put out by the drift of that country towards Europe, considered by him  as the last straw, and further evidence of the European Union and the United States interfering in the Russian sphere of influence. but also has deeper causes found in the changing social and political landscape of his own and the surrounding countries.

In both cases it is the families grieving lost loved ones and the sense of personal and private loss and bewilderment in the face of such events,  which distress me most. Long after these current events fade from the news to be replaced by a gripping story about the personal conduct of someone in power,  families will continue mourning, and live with the loss of people without national power but who were central to their own precious lives. Unless their grief gives us pause for thought, new and more horrific events may dwarf the horrors from which I am recoiling.

All in all, the ‘key’ figures may or may not have an influence on events and, for various reasons rooted in national and strategic interests, numbers of them have been surprisingly silent on both issues, but in terms of religions and national identities there is a level of conflict, endurance and hatred in the world today which would have shocked John Lennon if he were still alive.

I will not write of this again, but I told myself, I cannot have a pen and a Blog and say nothing  and still respect myself. Normal service will be resumed in my next post.

Posted in character, community, creative writing, faith, Life, Middle East, Peter Wells, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

No Parties Please at Bramley Home for the Elderly

My name is Stanley Castle, which is the name I prefer, although the familiar, “We’re all friends now” people insist on calling me “Stan.” I am a man who relishes order and formalities and excessive familiarity unsettles me: it has always done so. I live at the Bramley Home for the Elderly ,by-line,  “We Bring Compassion to Understanding” where the levels of absent-minded neglect, and even cruelty, remind me of my childhood. Life may indeed go full circle, and so, emotionally, I am back where I started as a burden too far for staff whose minds are on other things and who wish to be in other places. Thus it is that the cruellest among the nurses are baffled that I smile at their conduct, which brings back fond memories of my mother, a haughty, fastidious lady who aspired to an aristocratic heritage founded on some baseless rumour later laid to rest; as I shall be in due course.

I sit now, silent among a circle of feces, watching or staring at the television and discover the clock to be the most animated presence in the room. Sometimes there is a flurry of activity and some relative comes in to visit someone else and says something like “ How’s it going Gran?” as if all  the residents are having fun, and  have just finished a meal of oysters and  champagne. No one comes to party here in the Waiting Room for Death but that truth remains unspoken ” We don’t want to cause too much emotion among these fading souls.” The lunch recently served under the title “Shepherd’s pie with peas” may have contained  nutrients, but flavour had been exiled to make way for them.

Do I sound bitter? Who cares, bitterness is free, and I won’t last long enough to suffer the consequences of the emotion so I make a point of glaring at anyone lucky enough to have a visitor and make them feel as uncomfortable as possible. It has not made me friends, but it has given me the energy that anger brings, and that is something I will treasure until I cease to breath and they can fold me up and put me out of harm’s way until the disposal van removes me from their sight. It was not always so.

Posted in character, community, creative writing, humour, Life, Love, old age, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

A Dating Club for ‘Losers’

Rick Slider, whose boast to his mother was that he was always behaved honourably if there was no alternative, and that the only thing which made an act ‘appalling in the face of nature’ was it’s discovery by others, was travelling on the London underground when he ended up sitting next to some fat badly dressed guy of indeterminate middle age who appeared to be reading the dating column of a national newspaper.

Being the man he was, Rick peered over his shoulder at the article where this poor gentleman was seeking some relief from a life  marked by “Bedsitter Blues” and a meals of baked beans eaten while watching TV shows about the ‘Festival of the Silent Choir’ and other obscure documentaries,

“Stunningly sexy women who loves exotic holidays, over-achievement and men who leave an irresponsible carbon footprint seeks “ripped” younger man for a life of hedonism and carefree excess. An appetite for unnecessary shopping would be an advantage”  Slider looked up from the paper to the face of the man seated beside him; puffy, bean-fatted and lost, and wondered why he would waste his time reading such advertisements.

Suddenly the idea of a “Losers Dating Club” came to mind. Candidates must be in excess of forty-five and preferably with at least one marriage behind them not ended by anything noble like widowhood. Loss of hair and a chronic weight problem would be preferable and a reasonable degree of anxiety and job insecurity would be considered as a distinct advantage.

The idea was callous, shallow and disturbingly prejudiced and thus had all the hallmarks of an enterprise bound for success in the new “Stuff you I’m having fun” urban world.  Those unfocussed drifting folk, without clear agenda or ambition, who failed to get the attention of the gym-hardened holiday-equipped modern ‘carbon-burner’ sent in their profiles. Soon, our warm-hearted entrepreneur was toasting another commercial success on a Caribbean island with some soft lovely who was trying to take him for all he was worth, while he indulged in obtaining a thorough biological inventory of her assets and inclinations without regard to her future welfare. The gods wished them well, and there were signs that the two of them could have found happiness together, if they either of them had known what it was.

Leaving them to their sun-burn and shallowness we will visit Limpet on Sea where Nathanial Sogg was swaping stories of his unfocused life with Sandra Full. Not forced to pretend they were  more competent  than they really were, or indicate a fulfilment they never experienced,  both parties relaxed and experienced one of those rare periods of enjoyment with a member of the opposite sex, unrelated to catering or the process of reproduction.

Date followed date and soon she was burning his dinner while he played his guitar without regard to talent or musicality. He crunched his way through her onion soup, ( left too long on the cooker while she was looking for a photo she wanted to share ) and out of nowhere proposals were offered and accepted.

Yes, they really did live happily ever after in a pleasingly undistinguished dwelling far removed from the world of fashion or contemporary architecture. It just goes to show that even the most callous of people can bring happiness to others by accident, if not design.



Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The Sportalist

Geoff Dunkin put down his drink long enough to say, “He should have moved to the right, tucked his left elbow in and then swung the racket through the ball. That would have put a spin on it and he’d of won the point.” Now that his advice was “out there” for the world , and all those with him in his house at 16 Doncaster Road, namely his wife and their cat Mollie, to acknowledge and admire, he felt free to raise his hand again with a slight swinging action involving an extention of his elbow towards the window so he could take another slurp  of soothing ale.

With a figure modelled on the concept of a peanut with small legs, his advice on tennis court strategy was not the most sought after in his district or, to be honest, his own home where, as in many  established domestic households, he employed the tactic of ‘speaking aloud in case anyone was listening.’

Before we reach out across the page and internet to console our heroic sports strategist I must tell you that this was a sublime period in his life when both the Wimbledon tennis championship and World Cup were on at the same time. Better than that, three of his mates were coming over later to watch the football and tuck into Majorie’s famous sausage rolls.

Now they were all crammed into the small collection of ill-chosen chairs and one of them said of Marjorie’s snacks, “She makes the sausages herself,”  “The Queen of detail” says another, and Majorie can feel both put upon and admired at one and the same time along with a million domestic underdogs. “She slammed that flavour right in the back of the net and dunked ketchup on it” said a third, and Geoff smiles at the implied compliment to his team selection in the home department.

In the kitchen Marjorie was getting through her chores, or hiding from the conversation, depending on your viewpoint, and didn’t hear the praise heaped on her. In truth, her mind was on other matters just now, as her lover would be back in town in two days, and she was wondering what excuse she could come up with to go and spend some time with him. He had no interest in sport, or cycling or anything apart from her when he was with her, and his presence in her life made the complacent observations of her husband just about bearable. Her only wish was that “Barry” could earn enough to get her out of this life and into a place where she was loved and noticed.

Geoff, basking in the admiration of his mates regarding his astute observations and the quality of his wife’s cooking glanced over at her photograph on the table by the TV. “If anyone knew how to keep a women happy it was him” he thought. Perhaps he ought to write a book about it?

Posted in character, community, cooking, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments