In Search Of Improvement


Those friendships we enjoyed, so casually, in a life, not overburdened with demands, allowed us room to celebrate with ease, a freedom we now find embalmed in photographs, and  some remaining artefacts. Me grinning with a new caught fish, the harbour as it once was, when fishing was the only industry, and tourists, rare beings indeed, who wandered past, and viewed us as if we were actors in a play

Now, these same tourists are the staple of the town and the fleet which was its heartbeat is replaced with pleasure craft:  those huts where skilled men sat and mended nets, became cafe’s laid out to catch your eye, and tease a coin or two for absent-minded snacks.

Time and change have no sentiment, allowing man to alter, as he sees fit, the rituals and ways which, in the past, were thought to be the bed-rock of a character.  In old men sitting by the harbour, I see a commentary on change: a certain melancholy not entirely wrought by age, and wonder, as I watch them, how much we understand, as we lay their rituals gradually to rest, obsessed as we are by the desire to improve.

With growing urgency we seek the new, and dream of a life free of germs and doubt, but these men who ploughed the oceans for their food knew back at home Eden was underfoot, long before we, who followed them, trampled over their Paradise in search for some new Camelot

Posted in character, creative writing, Environment, Fiction, Life, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Perfect Flaw


You would love her if she wished, but not for an eternity. Anger was her closest friend, and nothing bored her more, she cried, than “Weak kneed praise from slack jawed men.” Unstable at the best of times, she could act a thousand roles as long as, she always said, “The curtain falls before I’m bored.”

Love in all its travesties riled her to breaking point; cursed with more than average looks, and that allure which chaos brings, she chose to mock at ordered lives, and “Try and spice things up a bit.”  Swept through events with spendthrift haste, guzzling at experience. “Bills are not my thing” she said, ” But you can pay them if you wish. ”

She understood stability, and the fantasies of sober men, and teased them with coquettish skill; tugged their hearts with reckless angst. Eased them from their marriage beds, then laughed at their stupidity. Your attention was all she sought but only as a passing whim.  “Loyalty is the gift of fools” her glib remark to some poor man, finessed by her perceptive guile into paying for a holiday, “Unaccompanied if you please. Talent needs its solitude” and so the poor chump slid away, muttering about “The greater good,” only to find, when she returned that some new guy with polished teeth, who had the keys to Hollywood, was taking her beyond his reach, but kindly in her awkward way, she did not leave without a thought, but sent back a signed photograph, “Taken by a man of note.”

You may love her if you wish, but do not make a point of it. Already bored in infancy, she sought for nothing you could give. Diversion was her sanctuary and leaving you her one true gift.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A Matter Of Philosophy


I want to know what everything is, and nothing is; the beauty of a note and the silence which surrounds it. I like to know and understand myself, and those whom I meet, or nearly meet. I am conscious that I will not always be conscious: that my curiosity is unlimited but my time is finite, and I cannot waste a moment of it in acquiring things which will not make me richer in a way I value. 

The amusing thing is many would consider me as living in la la land, where poetry is a secret form of currency, and music a mode of transport which might carry me to lands and vistas invisible to the naked eye: to where angels might dwell and we begin to forgive and truly understand the love which passes all understanding. I can live with the opinions of the “many”, but I cannot live without my imagination.”

One of the great temptations of life is to lose sight of the beauty of the whole, or the mystery of an instant amidst the mass of worries, jealousies and insecurities which crowd in on the average day, including mine, but while I have a breath to draw I will, whatever my circumstances, raise my eyes in wonder to the horizon and marvel at the miracle of consciousness.

Posted in creative writing, faith, Fiction, Humanity, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

The Day Of Reckoning


You know that expression, “Live one day at a time:” well there comes a day for some of us, when we are living “One breath at a time”. That’s where Molly was at this moment; not all bad mind you: the bed was nicely made, and the sheets had been ironed to a high standard shortly before use. Appearances, some say, matter, even in the most extreme situations. Molly was sucking in God’s good clean air with some difficulty and praying that she lived long enough to say goodbye to her daughter, from whom she had been long-since estranged, and who was now on her way from the airport to say a poignant farewell.

At last, and after a difficult and exhausting morning struggling for breath and gripping the sheets as waves of nausea and pain travelled across her stomach, her daughter’s face, not seen by her for thirty years, appeared above her: greyer, more lined and weary, but clearly her daughter.

She leaned over Molly’s face and in a clear voice, which was heard by the attending nurse, said, “You’re a Slut and a Liar”. With that she turned on her heel and exited our story leaving Molly in a wave of confusion shortly overtaken by death.

For those of you not acquainted with the procedure, there is a short period after death, when you can look around you, and gaze fondly at the flowers left for you by saddened relatives: in Molly’s case none. After a suitable pause you appear at a crossroads where an attendant angel, complete with clipboard, sends you to the appropriate gate earned by your life history.

She arrived at said gate after a short walk and there was St Peter, sitting in quite a comfortable chair and eating a nice plateful of cheese and crackers: his favourite between-meal snack. “Ah Molly” he said. “How are we? Oh yes, dead. Still, never mind that. No doubt you’re a bit unsettled by your daughter’s parting words”. Molly nodded silently.

“Let’s face it “said St Peter, surprisingly cheery despite the nature of the conversation, and possibly as a result of the excellent cheese. (For those of you with any anxiety on the matter, food in paradise is of a good quality). “Sleeping with your son-in-law while your daughter was out at her job is viewed by some as straying outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour. I have no wish to be judgemental,” he continued “But it’s my job,” said through a mouthful of crackers. “On the bright side, serving soup to the homeless for thirty years in penance has now earned you the right to step through these gates and settle on the third cloud from the left. Well done you”

“Will I ever be forgiven” asks Molly, still at a loss from the bruising encounter. “No” said St Peter, “But you will very soon be forgotten, and that is not a bad result for someone with your character.” Molly was to learn that some people had done enough to enter Paradise, but not enough to prevent others from commenting on their conduct. In her case silence really would be golden!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Maria


A lifetime ago, when I was still at school I met Maria, bookish like me, and awkward, and in her company I found a companionship I had not known before and in the end, under a tree in the local park, as dictated by custom, we shared our first kiss: we were sixteen at the time.

There was an understanding that we would go no further and even holding hands was not discussed because both of us were private about feelings, and much else besides, but I’m sure the way we sought each other out and left the school gates together was duly noticed by those who take an interest in such things.

As time progressed we became more open and love was mentioned more than once and there was a sense we would share each other’s lives. All was wonderful until her father, who served in the Royal Airforce got posted abroad and naturally took Maria with him. In those days there were no mobile phones or emails so letters were exchanged and then with decreasing frequency until contact was lost: I believe she went to university in the States.

Life moves on, there is no other way, and I explored it awkwardly until at university I found other people as odd as me and made friends with them. Through one of them I met Emma, who was a nice girl and tolerant of awkwardness and generally at ease with things. She seemed to like me and one day she goaded me into proposing to her: it was Valentine ’s Day and I think she thought of me as reliable, something her father was not apparently. I admit I had slept with her and in those days that signalled an understanding I could not walk away from: at least she seemed to love me.

That singing feeling, the warmth and the simple pleasure of watching someone you love go about their day was not present but she was comfortable and seemed very happy to live a conventional life: in time we had two children

I cannot say I am an unhappy man, or happy for that matter but I live an ordered life, leaning on the compensations brought by a solid home, shared memories and the excitement I get from collecting rare books and so it might have continued until!

No 24, the house across the road, which had been for sale but now was taken and, you’ve guessed it, there she was, older of course and slightly thinner with greying hair and something in her walk which spoke of hard times but definitely Maria.

I went inside, panic mixed with curiosity but I was a man who was known for being boring, who hated uncertainty, so reliable and predictable must continue: that’s what I told myself!

I managed to avoid her, never leaving without checking all was clear and lived on tenterhooks but was otherwise alright. Alright that is until on the Saturday morning my wife, who always reaches out to people, walked in with Maria by her side saying “This is Maria, our new neighbour” and I said “How lovely” and shook her by the hand and looked as if I did not know her but Maria could always read me and I nodded awkwardly. Things passed off without incident, discounting raised blood pressure; Maria got the picture and played along with me.

After she left, my wife looked at me curiously and said “Are you all right, you look a bit flustered” and I said, I’m fine, but I was going out and now feel off-track.” She shook her head and said “Don’t be so boring” but she was smiling as she said it because boring is what she loves about me after a childhood filled with trauma.

Because I had to, I left the house, first checking the road was clear, and set off briskly towards the shops and a coffee house where I sometimes went to relax. As I turned a corner and neared my destination I felt a tap on my shoulder and turning round saw Maria, eyes filled with emotion, and before I could stop her she reached up and kissed me with the passion I remember from my youth. I stood there frozen as she said “I’ve never stopped loving you,” and before I could collect myself the door to my heart opened and chaos flooded in.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Voyage Of Life


Some rower sets off from his childhood to cross the Atlantic of life as the crowds gather to applaud his courage and the adventures he is yet to discover. He is moved by the numbers of people who are  there and pulls strongly on his oars and, as he approaches the harbour entrance, they are lined with well wishers: an astonishing and uplifting sight. 

As he rows the harbour slips slowly behind him, but although close friends and family follow him in little power boats the crowd is left behind.   Slowly as the shore line  recedes , the friends  turn back towards their harbour as his emotions well up: he so wishes he could go with them, but what a fool he’d look if he did, so on he rows, watching their  figures move slowly out of sight. The training and the will power kick in as he pulls on his oars with nothing but the sound of passing water and the waves to keep him company. One thing he knows for sure: there is no turning back.

In life sometimes, or perhaps more often, we move because we have to. That harbour we called a haven is no longer there and we are forced to carry on, destination unknown, to some uncharted location. We have no crowds to cheer us, though friends comment on our situation and commiserate with us for our bad luck. Always the blame seems to lie elsewhere but in the silence of our minds we are uncertain. Is the blame  not partly ours ?  The doubts within us eat at the will to battle on.

Now we find ourselves in mid-ocean, rowing away as hard as we can, or possibly flagging,  then giving up for a time and letting the currents take us where they will: they cannot hear the cheers now. Those who know them are  somewhere else, busy with another life. Will their next choice be as bad as their last? Did he aim too high or too low? Why me? The questions come and go but the problems still remain.

Sometimes you row because you must: you’ve nothing else  to do. Sometimes the beauty of your surroundings can be lost in the effort of surviving them. . But look around you: there is no shelter here so go on you must. Whatever frenzy fired you at the start is gone leaving us to face  the repetition of  days.  

To be without doubt is a symptom of madness but to live without faith is impossible. However much your arms ache believing in yourself is the first step to finding your destination: this is what I tell myself. Doubts are normal but faith is essential and helping each other have more of it is one of our greatest gifts.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Impossible Dreams


Ever since I have been old enough to want more than go fishing, play football or become a musician of note, I have had a “Star from Afar:” some inexpressibly mysterious beauty whose progress across the silver screen captured my imagination and heart.

Ingrid Bergman was the first, viewed when I was twenty- four and unaware that she was older than me by several decades. On the screen she was only twenty-seven, and still within reach of my imagination, if not my wallet or reality, but then my recognition of practical difficulties has never been a strong point.

Over the years the list of stars I admired has grown to infinite length, each woman loved without any sense of my being unfaithful to the last or the physical lady of the hour, if one applied for that vacancy. My most obscure addition to the list was Samantha Wheatley, somewhere near my age, who enjoyed a career under the radar, filling in small roles in a number of well-received films although that “Breakthrough moment” never graced her career. Finally she vanished from the screen, and even the internet neglected her life story, so that what happened to her, or where she was, remained a taunting mystery.

Most fetching were her eyes, full of gentle modesty and a voice which soothed away my fears: with her alone, I dreamt I might discover myself and open up the door to life beyond the commonplace. I was an attic man, living in unremarkable isolation and freed from social expectation by a lack of means; but in my dreams I still walked the planet, head held high, and talked with souls whose heightened awareness brought beauty to my world.

What did I care about hardship when her radiance shone in every part she played and I longed for that moment when I might open a door for her or share a glance across the street. I had a dream where she walked across a room, entered by accident, and said with discrete simplicity, “You are my chosen man,” before kissing me softly on the lips.

So it may have remained until one day, by request, I attended the launch of a painter’s career, not known to me but her father was a friend. I walked through the gallery, admiring one work and then the next until a lady asked me if I had the time. I turned to speak to her and saw those eyes again, so full of acceptance and still with a beauty most of us forget, and heard a voice I recognised, but in real life.

Before I could stop myself I said, “Samantha Wheatley” and captured the moment of surprise which moved across her face. “I did not mean to startle you” I said, “But I have been a fan of yours since long before I can remember” and she just smiled. Older than me, but still with that quality of nervous courage, and reaching out to awareness so many creative people have, she filled me with an awe for her sympathy and bravery. “Beauty of many kinds can light up life at any time, and you are full of it,” I said. She must have been slightly over sixty by that time, and might have thought me strange, but all she did was smile, and thank me for my courtesy.

Most of life is a mystery, mine is anyway, wasted on anxieties, or drowned by prosaic demands leaving wonder to another time, but suddenly, when she appeared, wonder seemed to be everywhere and without knowing anything about her I knew I could not let her go. “Come and lunch with me, somewhere safe where you cannot worry about being with a stranger and we can talk.” All she said was “Yes.”

“Yes” is what she said, and I cannot tell you why, but later we talked about our lives and the price of experience. She, like me, was lost and no stranger to catastrophe: we had both sought the ‘Promised Land’ without any sense of geography.

I learnt through her that life is never without the promise of wonder or recognition and somehow, I do not know how, she brought me home: she said the same of me. We are a married now, these six years, and her health is not what it might be, but we share our moment, and, side by side, find peace. I do not want to be safe, life must be more than that surely, but in her arms and by her side I live adventure without anxiety: my star came home.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Reflecting On Circumstances


Do you know how often you were loved? I do; once, though not by my own mother, As children, and as a family, we lived in a sea of wreckage, trying to make sense of our own experiences, and at a loss for feelings or words. Love was not on the menu, but in time, under her direction, I left my childhood home.

Later, during one of those brief periods when I enjoyed something like perspective, a girl’s eyes fell on me, polite, shy in the company of strangers, yet gradually filling with interest, then warmth ,and finally love, as she saw in me all that a girl could wish for in a man or so she thought. I married her, because not to do so would  have been unkind or so I thought: I was wrong!

As what I called “Awareness” returned to me, I looked at what I thought of as being her prosaic ambitions; including a home, children, and an address of suitable anonymity and I became restless until I said, “Life must offer more than this: more than suburban correctitude, church attendance, politeness to neighbours and a sublimation of all desire for adventure,”and so I left her, fuelled by desperation and a determination to tread the unexplored, whatever the cost, because in my youth my brothers in arms were Leonardo de Vinci, Shackleton and John Steinbeck, and to settle for average seemed a despairing comment on the possibilities of life!

Now, after some decades, I have discovered the cost of the vanity which drove me to that action. I have discovered that life really can be both prosaic and beautiful;  wonderful and challenging in a single breath, but now I have no one left with which to share that message.

 I have discovered the price of being “An attendant lord” in the ante-chamber of a hundred noble lives, but I am not yet ready to accept the average day. I will “Rage against the dying of the light,” and refuse to sit on a park bench smiling at the antics of some infant child as if they were endearing.

I will walk on into the darkness seeking an observation worthy of the pain spent in living honestly.  I will not go softly, maturely or with dignity towards my demise. My life has been wild, drunken, joyous, alien and powerfully present, and until I fall into a grave, I hope I can say, “I lived, and happiness or composure, or the correct dress of the hour were never my concern. Somewhere out in this fog bound wilderness we called “Experience,”  is a space named “Profundity” and I am determined to connect with it, though I have yet to do so.”

Emotion is not polite, life is not polite, but, regardless of the cost, I won’t be bound by the conventional. I have become that man, either drunken or mad, who staggers up to you in the Mall, unshaven and possibly un-showered, and says, “Is this it?” and you back away from me because, of course, you are still living a  “Real life,” an ordered life which is something I have failed to maintain for some decades!  I will remain, unless I find myself at last, that most disregarded of individuals: the missed opportunity: a child of the alternative universe, a Sphinx in the corner of your imagination.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Philosophical Discussions


“Life, to the interested, will always be interesting, regardless of your circumstances,” I tell myself as I work on the forecourt of my local petrol station, guiding customers to a fuelling booth or parking bay, depending on their purpose. Are they going to fill their car with gas or wander into the shop and play themselves a symphony by Simoné de Calorie, before buying a “Slimmer’s choice” chicken curry in readiness for a cosy evening for one in front of the television?

Of course, some people buy food for more than one, demonstrating a life full of emotional richness and a family who dote and live on their every word and glance but others, like me, exist alone, apart from television and a close friend called “Microwave.” Each day I yearn for a smile from the lady I work with, who manages till number four, and whose sense of life and tragedy seem to mirror my own. I’m simple yet complicated, defined and yet confused; a muddle in search of the perfect note but most of all I’m lost.

What can I offer her; with my lack of wealth and a sub-standard career apart from those insights into the experience of living which interest no one apart from those bored by the commonplace. She is beauty in my eyes, and her expression rich in that tragic awareness which speaks of a profound understanding. Can I risk telling her I want to know her, or should I do what I always do: smile politely at her as if she is a character in a film while keeping my hunger to myself?

Each life is a single brushstroke on the canvas of experience, lost within the body of the painting we call history, yet some of us, myself included, long to be seen as that touch, a contrasting insight, which  helps to define human experience. 

I have created a largely hopeless existence, apart from conversations with artists and philosophers of note, so that when I worked as a ticket collector at a provincial railway station I said to Descartes, “I think therefore I am, but I smile because I know” and nodded at him as if I’d added an extra cadence to his words, seeing if he understood my addition to his wisdom or just continued to sip his coffee at the Café Eternité without acknowledging my existence: perhaps he did or perhaps he didn’t, but we’ve no way of knowing either way.

Be that as it may, the object of my affections, to put it discreetly, was in a pub one Saturday lunchtime when I came upon her, me being somewhat the worse for wear, and ignoring the presence of her friends said, “If I were braver, and capable of time-travel I would whisk you away from this place to a café where Descartes, Monet and Gaudí were sitting discussing the importance of landscape, or the way the peripheral can become urgent depending on your circumstances, and introduce you to them as the defining beauty of our age.

She, as you may understand, just looked embarrassed, and explained to her companions that I was that odd man who worked on the forecourt at her garage. I smiled at them as if I had been joking, which is amusing given it was one of the few times in my life when I have been sincere.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Post-Life Reflections


I lived in the age of social engagement where we chatted on Blogs and even smiled at dentists before they drilled holes in our teeth: a celebration of biological generosity which involved spreading our DNA to the four corners of the surgery.  “Being open and friendly,” was MEE.  It’s what I was, regardless of how many teeth I had left. It defined me. It regulated me. It… … Oh well you get the picture.

I believed in “Making it real,” not letting us become prisoners of our  cultural norms and formalities.”  That is before Oblivion visited Earth in the shape of an impressively large meteorite.  I learnt all this in the waiting room outside the “Infinite Experience” facility otherwise known as Purgatory, before our final destination was revealed to us!  

 This tale concerns me. Did you hear that. Me ME MEEEE. ( Oh God this is fun ) and what I felt about life and that troubling pain I got in my wrist every time I tried to use the can-opener; which, to me, was the device making the difference between starvation and putting on a decent amount of weight while watching Television: the defining advance in life-style engineering enjoyed by the final generation.

By the way, this rambling post is brought to you courtesy of the “Random-Experience-Process Facilitator ” which I was introduced to at birth. Let me give you an example. I spent a large part of my early employment as a traffic warden, posting tickets on the windscreens of upscale cars: a profession I chose on the basis of material envy, mean-spiritedness and lack of career satisfaction, but which meant I could blight the lives of the successful, until a freak incident catapulted me to national stardom.

During a general election, when politicians were pretending to be nice, and not gloating over their status and fame at the “Your Vice Is Safe With Me Sir” nightclub for decadent Notables,  Sir Reginald Worthless, leader of the “Honest Laundry Party” came across me as I was ticketing his Bentley Continental:  he was being followed by TV cameras.

In order to make his point, he waved his arm towards me and said, “Should I be elected as  your next Prime Minister, this finely groomed gentleman will become my Minister of Transport. I turned towards the camera, and smiled in a way which said, “I am too modest to reveal everything I understand about life but it’s quite a lot you know,” and somehow I grabbed the public imagination as an example of an extraordinary talent trapped in an ordinary job, house, marriage and salary.

The rest is history, or embarrassment, depending on your point of view.  Suffice it to say, after a brief period of notoriety as a minister in Her Majesty’s government, I was sacked for telling the visiting President of the  United States that his car was parked illegally outside a small hot-dog stand in the West End of London where he was engaged in buying a snack with  currency supplied to him before he left 10 Downing Street. 

My last words to you before I am moved to my final meeting with Dr Oblivion are, “Just because it is in the brochure, does not make it real”  I was invited to experience a world beyond my station and lived, or died, depending on your perspective,  while trying to understand the consequences.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments