Monday, 16 July 2012

People Watching (Part 1; first draft)

This is another story for the collection I mentioned last time - it's probably going to have a second part, but I don't know if they'll come together to make one story or if they'll be companion pieces.  It's based, I guess obviously, just on the idea of people watching, and of the weird voyeurism of it, which I guess is similar to any reading experience - you're completely separate from someone, but you still watch them and come to know them and care about them.  It's set on a loose reconstruction (from memory!) of Ballycastle Beach, hence the picture

It's very much a rough-and-ready first draft, so apologies for typos, repetition and just plain rubbishness.  And as ever, opinions and comments very welcome.

It’s sort of snowing, but it’s not quite cold enough, so it’s more like sleet.  It doesn’t lie on the ground in a nice white sheet, but instead clumps in semi-melted puddles which semi-blur into a very shallow semi-lake in the carpark.

If you turn your gaze out to sea (which isn’t pleasant, as there’s a stiff coastal breeze), you’re rewarded with a view which is subtly greyer than the one they put on the postcard.  The sea is stormy, but not as wildly as you might expect, and the waves wash up harmlessly on the long sandy beach which curls away from you to the right, it’s smooth curve broken only by the solitary large rock, which locals will tell you was thrown there in days gone by in a battle of the giants, where the local hero had defeated his rival from behind the headland.  Behind the headland they have a similar but slightly different story, involving a baby cow.

The headland ought to be in sight, but the weather is such that it isn’t even a shadow, as the beach eventually fades into an eerie mist.  It looks completely deserted, but if you look a little closer you’ll see that just beyond the rock there is a figure, swimming in the sea.  He’s too far away to make out clearly, he surely must be youngster to be doing something so ridiculous, or perhaps an old man, who has swam on the beach every day for fifty years, and no winter chill’s stopped him then and it won’t now neither.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Short story number two: Elysium (draft)

(This first draft of the second story I've written for a collection that will hopefully be out at the end of Summer.  It's a bit scrappy, but I like putting stuff up as a marker that I've gotten the first draft out of the way.  If you have any feedback feel free to let me know in the comments!)

“Are you alright, Jack?”

Jack glanced up, surprised to be called by name, until a second later he re-noticed the large badge on his chest.  It was the girl who had been sat in front of him for the tutorial.  Jess, he gleaned from staring (not for too long) at her chest.

“Ah I’m fine.  I miss them, you know, but so does everyone else.”

She nodded, smiling a mouth-closed smile.  “Well I do.  I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one though.  People are so good at soldiering on, aren’t they?”

“You’d be surprised.”  The gruff voice came from over Jess’s shoulder; neither of them had seen their tutor approach as his students departed.  Paul.  He would have been old before to Jack’s eyes, middle-aged to a more generous observer, but now in this reshaped society he was positively ancient.  Neither of the youths spoke, flustered that they had been overheard, wondering if they had transgressed.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Taming of the Shrew at Reading School

Lucia McAnespie (Katherine), David Davies (Petruchio) and Tom Kay (Hortensio)

What could be better than watching Shakespeare performed on the picturesque playing fields of Reading School, with the evening sun gently warming your back and a glass of wine in your hand?  Well, that was a moot point tonight, as the evening began with a desperate plea for the huddled audience to lower their umbrellas, at which point more than one bedraggled spectator decided they had already had enough.

It is thus to the enormous credit of the GB Theatre Company that they managed to perform at all, let alone that they put on such a good show.  On multiple occasions actors slipped, slid and fell on the soaking stage, but each time they managed to see the funny side, as indeed they did with the whole play.  It goes without saying that humour is indispensable in comedy, but where some adaptations of Shakespeare rely on their audience to simply ‘get the jokes’, this production ran the comic gamut from start to finish, from well-staged wordplay to nudging innuendo to those clearly unplanned slapstick falls.