Can Even Mushroom Clouds Have Silver Linings?

Writing

Can even mushroom clouds have silver linings? Can we find positives among the negatives that have arisen due to the global spread of the life-threatening virus – ‘coronavirus’?

 

This is not an attempt to turn my head away from  the serious consequences that the contagious virus has had on our lives, the mortality, the employment uncertainties, the upheaval of ‘normality’. 

It is with these in mind, I question, can a light really be seen at the end of the tunnel – this time. 

 

All of us have experienced first-handedly the strains of a life succumbed to staring somberly as the sun rises and sets on a cyclical whim. Knowing full-well that we will spend another day living an existence of exhausting every episode of ‘Friends’ known to man. Irony oozes through our veins as we scoff at the mere memory of ‘socialising’. The sobering reality of the closest thing we have to a friend these days being  that of an internet connection and a little-known phenomenon known as ‘Skype’.

 

But before I make my way to the pity party too hastily, I want to pause for a moment and reflect. Surely amongst the sadness and severity of this situation, one must question, are we truly damned? Instead, can we ask – what can we learn from this? And furthermore, are there any positives in particular to learn from?

 

I think so.

 

Perhaps you agree with some of the below:

 

Lockdown –  Gave Me A Chance To Reconnect With Old Friends

 

Regretfully, I had fallen out of touch with some of my friends in the last year or so. It’s an excuse to say this, but general day-to-day life can be full of distractions. Until ofcourse a situation like this arises, where all of those little tasks and problems now seem eclipsed by another much more forceful phenomenon

 

. With more time on my hands to reflect, I thought about the people I had lost contact with and took the courage to reach out to them. It was a little awkward at first, but I can honestly say, it was a decision well-made. 

 

Videochat – Gave Me A Chance To Form Stronger Connections

 

Before our current situation, there were friends of mine who I only communicated with via text. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees at how advantaged I was in having a laptop I could have used to videocall them long before now.

 

So, in quite a strange way lockdown has actually brought me closer to some friends. Personally, I find communication via videochat, where we can see eachother’s faces, creates a much better connection than solely messaging on social media.  

 

Online – Created The Opportunity To Make New Friends

 

I swear, the way this post is going, it makes it seems like I’ve been more sociable bound to the 4 walls of my own home than when I had a whole city to socialise in! The irony!

 

Facing pure moments of paranoia, as I woke up soaked in sweat at night, fearful of loneliness. I took it upon myself at the very beginning of lockdown, before I had the epiphany to reach out to people I actually knew. To trawl the internet for what looked like a somewhat normal friend-making exchange site. 

 

And actually, to my amazement, I have made a few friends who I’m actually quite fond of. Thankfully, up to this point, I have not been catfished, extorted for money, or stalked. So a round of applause to the world wide web for forming friendships amongst many many other things, which I won’t go down the rabbit hole of divulging…..

 

Lockdown – Gave Me Time To Reflect

 

If you are frequently left in a silent room, you have two options: chew your arm off out of insanity or answer those burning questions you’ve pushed to the back of your mind all these years. 

 

We all do it, because confronting our deepest of questions in the hinterland of  our minds, normally means we will have to confront the cumbersome cousin of ‘intrinsic questioning’  better known as – ‘uncomfortability’.  

 

We can all admit to it, we use procrastination as a way to avoid the uncomfortable. Which is why we find ourselves ordering Amazon’s Top 20 self-help book picks before sunrise on a Sunday. Our sad attempt to pacify the self-doubter within us. Trying to prevent another episode of ill-emotion, instead of focusing on finding a cure.

 

The cure may just be in the form that we all fear –  confronting our internal concerns with courage. Sitting in a room with a pen and paper (not the internet) may be a good start. Atleast this is what I have experienced in the last few months.

 

From career goals, to relationships, personal well-being to living more in the present. I have questioned many elements that make up this crazy ‘thing’ we call ‘life’. 

 

And will continue to make a habit of doing so (Scout’s honour), perhaps you could try it too? 

 

Probably the most neglected friend you have is you. And yet every man, before he can be a true friend to the world, must first become a friend to himself.”    

  1. Ron Hubbard

Perhaps by ill-humoured fate, gifted to us from nature, this tragic experience can show us the true fragility of life and with this in mind, allow elements to reveal themselves which  hold the realest value within it: not money, but meaningful relationships and self-care. 

 

These are just a few positives I have miraculously unearthed from the rubbles of devastation this pandemic has caused. But as the Phoenix rises from the ashes, so can all of us, with the help of a positive attitude. 

 

Homesickness & Appreciation

Writing

Am I the only person who gained a newfound appreciation for my home country only once moving away from it?

I think the saying is true, we don’t really know how much we miss something until we no longer have it. And this point couldn’t have revealed itself to be more true than during my recent trip back to visit my parents in Northern Ireland.

I use to think that the little town I grew up in had nothing going for it. But actually it has quite the opposite, it holds my most cherished childhood memories, from my first day at primary school to the day I left for university, it was the place I was a child, the place where I was brought into this world. And I will always be thankful for that. Northern Ireland, in such a contrasting way to my parent’s experience due to The Troubles, gave me an overall safe childhood, filled with an eclectic range of memories, from my 12 year old self racing snails on makeshift race tracks I caught in the local park to my awkward yet endearing coming of age self throwing the bizarrest of shapes at school prom nights in cold Decembers.

I used to think I was from a quite a quiet place but with time my perception has changed, I’ve came from quite a peaceful place. That the smell of manure infiltrated my lungs making me wish I didn’t have a nose at some stages, yet now, I see it as a welcome home sign, a pleasant change from more polluted places.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I detest city life, if that were the case I wouldn’t be living in a city. Infact I like living in a city because it makes me appreciate the places I visit when I’m not in the city even more if that makes any sense!

Do you have an appreciation for your country of birth?

 

Male Suicide

Writing

‘Death of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller

The Young Vic’s adaptation of the 1949 play was simply faultless. So well executed was the storyline that I went home overcome by an aura of melancholy, unshakeable even by watching the funniest of comedies on Netflix.

If you are unfamiliar with the play, it happens to be one of Miller’s most telling and rawest of pieces. Focusing on a working class family, in particular, the patriarchal dynamic of that of an American salesman’s.

From loss of finances to a loss of respect from his two adult sons, the man becomes broken, his internal antagony is played out publicly to the audience. From his affairs to combat his loneliness despite sharing his home with a loving wife, to his power struggles in asking his boss for a raise. All too similar is the narrative of this fictional character’s life to that of so many individuals today. This relatability made for an engaging reenactment of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

With the final moments of the performance crescendoing to catastrophic events leading to the fatality of the father, I asked myself the question – ‘how many men in this audience’ relate to his actions?

This led me to think back to another event I had attended at the Young Vic merely a few months prior. The event focussed on masculinity.

The event was an open Q +A style discussion among an audience on the topic of masculinity. The evening was incredibly insightful, with one question in particular demanding my attention:

“Does society’s limitations on men to open up and visibly share their emotions explain the suicide rates among men?”

In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women. This ratio is similar internationally also. The BBC reported that women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, yet it is men who use more violent methods to commit suicide meaning there is a higher chance of completion before intervention.

These statistics should not go ignored. With a society becoming more and more tolerable and understanding of topics which decades ago would have been shunned and looked down upon such as: race, religion and sexual identity. There is still an elephant in the room, which the world just seems to ignore – the stereotype of masculinity.

The outdated inaccurate views that being masculine directly equates to being macho, to hiding your emotions, that crying is a sign of weakness, that men have to be the breadwinners.

Personally as a woman I do feel like the pressures that women face are much more ‘common knowledge’ because as women is seems to be that you’re allowed to ‘talk ‘ about them more openly, and listened to more readily. But for men this is unfairly not the case even still today. Some cultures may be more progressive and ‘open’  than others but I still feel that overall, the role men feel they need to fill has a substantial impact on their mental health.

Noting some of the comments people at the event on masculinity gave below as I feel they are both honest and genuinely food for thought, raising points which I believe all of us should take onboard:

  • A man (18 – 24) – What Role Does Society Want Me To Play?

“I believe suicide rates are increasing among men because of the ‘disenfranchisement’ of the traditional male. Society nowadays wants you to be more ‘open-minded’ yet still be the ‘provider’ for the family. Men are getting more mixed signals from society today than it did before, now there is more pressure.

  • A woman (18 – 24) – Male Suicide  Female Suicide Comparison

“Women  may attempt more suicides, yet it is men who do so in a more violent manner (slitting wrists, use of firearms) and have higher rates of completion than women.”

  • A man (25 – 35) – Violence

“Violence was used as a way to vent out those emotions society wouldn’t allow me to.”

  • A Woman (25 – 35) in response to the man (25 – 35)

“Isn’t violence a tool to someone committing suicide rather than a way to vent emotions?”

With mental health starting to be gain the attention it needs, shouldn’t an extension of this mean we have a duty of care to address the potential factors leading to the mental health of all genders and sexual identities? And not to simply take a generalised approach to mental health?

Whether you are reading this from within the UK or from outside of the UK, ff you feel like you need support for your mental well-being contact your local health service. It is not a sign of weakness, being proactive is a sign of strength.

Some UK based organisation that I know of:

The Samaritans Call 116 123

Mind  call 020 8519 2122

NHS Mental Health Services

Does Equality Really Exist?

Writing

I ask myself this question as I’m swiftly ushered out of my own workplace by rather hench looking security guards an hour earlier than I should be, because an A-list celeb is coming in shortly to do a quick Q+A session on the release of their new album and no stragglers must be lurking round corners trying to get a quick pic with the megastar.

 

Not that I’m complaining about leaving work early, as if! But instead, I’m questioning the value placed on me – the staff member as oppose to the visitor – a temporary guest. Am I not worthy of seeing them in the flesh? Am I not worthy of breathing the same air as them? I know we’d like to believe that it’s actually because we they don’t want some psycho stalker maniac fan getting too close so they filter the Q+A audience to avoid this, but a part of me struggles to believe the reason is solely this. Am I simply not valued as highly as the celebrity? How can you say we’re equal if they’ve flown in on private jet, have been chauffeured around all day and now have most of the workplace exiting for the evening?

 

I have no issue with the celeb by the way, they’re just doing their thing, but moreso with society on how we value one person more than another. This sadly is truth. We live in a world where we want to believe that everyone has an equal shot at success, were everyone has manners and respect, treating everyone equally and fairly. Not to be a Debbie downer but I don’t think this is 100% the case, infact I would go as far to say that it’s not even 50%.

 

I think the ugly truth of the matter is that it comes down to what qualities do we truly value in people? Intelligence, good looks, athleticism, wealth…..? Atleast this seems to be the case in the society I live in. But what about morals and altruism? Are they characteristics of the weak, the overly sensitive? Why are they overlooked?

 

From rags to riches, to cultural classes, throughout our lives we are categorised in terms of our quality/value. As we are individuals, can it therefore be said that each of us have different qualities or even further, different levels of quality? Is a murderer, in your eyes, equal to a doctor, the Queen equal to the commoner, woman equal to man? Civil partnership equal to marriage?

 

If we are so similar in our qualities are we so similar in our flaws? Is killing one person not as bad as killing several? Is killing an animal lesser than that of a human? Are animals equal to humans? 

 

There are so many questions surrounding this idea of ‘equality’, afterall it is just an idea. Because if we were all treated as equal, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post an hour early.

 

Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Do you think equality exists?

Poem: Climate Change

Writing

 

My limbs gnarl, sap suffocates my lungs as I gasp for another breath of the smog.

I’m losing my fight for life.

For centuries I have supplied oxygen to your veins, now you remove it from mine?

In times before you uprooted me, and spoiled the very soil I laid upon.

Now you turn to decapitation,

Intoxication.

Of the very  air I rely upon.

 

You think only of the immediacy and  not of the future.

Thinking only of your own benefit, and not even that of your own mother’s.

Why are you blinded to what you are doing to this planet?

You wouldn’t walk into your own house and quite simply trash it?

Would you?

 

You think it’s cushy, that to try and save the environment is some sort of tree huggers eulogy?

That in their last breath they begged for an epiphany from humanity.

With irony, perhaps that really is what life is all about.

Death.

Why bother carrying on the life of your genes,

By having children when you leave,

Them a planet which will just get weak week after week?

You teach them your petty practices of pumping out pollution and pompously wasting.

For what? So they can have instant electricity to cook their microwave meals while watching TV.

 

You don’t see the problem, because you purposely don’t look for it.

You don’t see the wood for the trees.

For you basically cleared most of it.

You only care about the you and the now.

 

When you are laying 6ft under and the soil around you is toxic.

When your toxic thoughts have played out in the lives of others just for profit.

I guess then the state of the planet means nothing to you.

Just make sure instead of one child, you double up and have two.

For mortality rates will likely rise,

As the planet gets sicker too.

So yes, be as selfish as they come,

Isn’t that what life means to you?

The Psychology of Value – Culture

Writing

Carrying on from yesterday’s post, I noted how this concept of value stems from our childhoods. How we internally form an attachment to particular items we deem as ‘ours’  from a young age.

Yet when comparing this globally, there are certain cultures where regardless of age, this trend does not appear. For example in a study conducted by scientists at Yale University , researchers ran a study on the Hadza people of Northern Tanzania to determine whether the Endowment effect took place within the community or not. When conducted it was found that of the Hadza people who lived closer to the towns or villages which exhibited markets and were therefore exposed to a society where money was exchanged for goods, 25% of them were willing to trade their original gifted item for a new one i.e. trade the lighter they were given for a biscuit or vice versa.

Comparing this to the Hadza people that lived further away from the villages and towns, in a more isolated community, a greater proportion – 53% in the group were more willing to trade. So why is this so? The people in the more ‘isolated’ environment, the hunter-gatherer population, they lived in an egalitarian society and so the movement of goods is much more open and shared more evenly between group members.

Looking at this one example, it can be said that emphasis on the society we grow up in, the environment we grow up in are key factors to how we value the things in our lives.

In relation to this, if we return to the initial point of ‘monetary’ value, socio-economic factors can be linked to certain types of culture, for example gang culture. With this I ask the question:
What does the word ‘value’ mean in an impoverished community?

Peanuts To A Monkey

Writing

They say religion is used to control the masses when really the truth is that it’s money.

We give value to pieces of paper and metal, to invisible numbers forever changing in our online accounts. As humans, as a society, we have given value to something which if you really think about it is valueless. You might as well pick up a leaf next and start paying your taxes with it.

Money – evolved as a means of bartering and trading now as a status of power and segregation of class by wealth. I wonder to myself, what would the world be like if we didn’t have money? Not just you or I, but all of us. With no monetary value placed on materialistic items would capitalistic attitudes and habits of consumerism simply dissipate? Would we instead put value into the relationships we form, into the experiences we have? Would we see people for who they are, not what they have? Or is this Utopian dream merely deemed a damnation, a falsehood which would never truly grow wings?

It saddens me that society decides the value of a person not by their own morals or merits, but  by the numbers in their bank account. I ask myself where did this all start, how did it all begin? And for this we must look at the psychology behind what it means to place value on something.

The psychology behind value – post up tomorrow.

beauty judge attractiveness

Can you really judge a book by its cover?

Writing

When your mother use to tell you to put on your ‘Sunday best’, was that really for God or for the fellow church dwellers?

Time and time again I have been proven wrong, I look at someone thinking ‘oh they’ll be friendly’ and instead I’m met with a look as if they’ve been sucking lemons all morning. Whereas you run a mile from the local hooligan and perhaps they may be the ones to call an ambulance as you trip over the pavement on your escape from them. My point being, whether we like it or not we all judge a book by its cover. Biology has meant we don’t read between the lines, atleast not initially, and here’s why:

Biology study

Blame our ancestors for all the sudden judgment and stereotyping. Putting it this way – with neurons devoted to visual processing taking up 30% of the cortex as oppose to 3% for hearing and 8% for touch. We really get a ‘feel’ for someone through our ‘eyes’.

But maybe don’t blame your judgmental self too quickly, for as ‘bad’ as it is to stereotype, it actually is a ‘good’ thing. Humans have to be quick in sussing out other humans out with immediacy – are they a threat or non-threat?

Some pre-conceived judgments we make

  • A trustworthy face – Studies have shown that humans make a judgement on the level of trust they would have in another person just based on their face alone.

 

  • The halo effect – We view ‘more physically attractive’ people as being ‘higher achievers’ across the board than people deemed ‘less physically attractive’. So if you’re hot then the world pretty much thinks you’re the next Einstein.

 

  • The voice effect on leadership – higher pitched, slower speaking voices deemed to lack leadership qualities that a person of a lower-pitched and faster pace of speech would have. (When voices were the only thing to base judgement off of.)

 

  •  The uglier the criminal the harsher the prison sentence – the judgment bias on attractiveness when sentencing.

 

I love posts which make me feel all self-conscious about myself. I guess the moral of the story is blame science for our judgmental stereotyping selves! And know that beauty and ability are really internal qualities of ourselves.

Career Switch Like These 7 Celebrities

Writing

One trick ponies aren’t present in the stables today judging by the 7 celebrities below:

Donald Trump – whether you love him or loathe him you can’t deny he’s had the career jump worthy of a pat on the back so big it partially exorcises his demonic spirit from his body (only temporarily though). Not that he was doing that badly before as a multi-millionaire businessman but obviously the title of President of the United States has a better ring to it.

Drake – Who would’ve thought this cute Canadian teen who made squeaky clean TV would become one of the biggest music artists of the charts. Too sweet to be a hardcore gang banger, yet can still crack out multiple expletives with such finesse. Drizzy Drake take a bow.

Martha Stewart – Stewart hasn’t had a bad run of career options in her life, modelling for fashion houses such as Chanel in her early 20’s and as one would naturally do, she jumped right into the world stock brokerage aged 25 at some little known named location – Wall Street. And because making lots of money from money can become lack lustre, Martha re-invented how we watch TV by offering a smorgasbord of her television personalities in various shapeshifting forms ranging from food to gardening.

Christopher Walkin – Lion tamer turned Hollywood actor. Not bad for the resume. Describing one lion affectionately named Sheba as ‘very sweet, like a dog.’ What kind of dogs has he been around? Inbetween his circus life, Walkin trained as a dancer before moving on to Broadway and film.

Ellen DeGeneres – Having experienced a range of roles before stand up comedy took her to stardom, including waitressing at TGI Fridays, paralegal clerical duties and oyster shucking. It’s therefore safe to say she’s done it all (except make me laugh(kidding))!

Pope Francis – Bouncer turned preacher. Any shape throwing sinners would have surely felt his wrath on the backdoor’s of the bouncing Buenos Aires clubs in his early days.

Whoopi Goldberg – Funeral makeup artist. How can you go from powder puffer on the face of a corpse to singing nun in Sister Act? The Pope needs to have words with you Whoopi! (Whoopi’s getting an ass whoopin’ (sorry bit far)) Did I mentioned she was also a garbage collector before turning to stand – up comedy and acting? Her transition into the world of entertainment has definitely been an interesting one.

Book Review - Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Book Review – Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Writing

Book Review – Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Having read this book, I now understand why it has sold over 9 million copies. This tribute to hope against adversity should be testament to the human mind’s astonishing capabilities.

Unlike alot of wishy washy self-help books, Frankl’s psychological account provides reason in the most brutal and honest of ways. Re-telling his own harrowing experiences of live as a concentration camp prisoner, and the mechanisms he personally put into practice with his mind which ultimately spared him his mental freedom.

This book has left me stunned and in a state of reflection. If Frankl could remain hopeful in such dire circumstances then really what circumstances can any of us say we can’t survive through?

A truly exceptional read.

A selection of some of the most powerful quotes from the book:

pg 74 – “Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors – be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature?”

“…..that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings?”

“Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?”

In this section, Frankl questions whether man has a choice of action in any given situation. With specific reference to other prisoners, he questions whether man is, put simply,  a product of his own environment or if he can rise above the situation his environment has put him in – the concentration camp. With uncertainty over his freedom,  over his life, will the prisoner give in and ultimately give up? Or will he mentally make the choice of seeing the positive on even the bleakest of days. Will he use past memories and future hopes to will away his temptation to fade into a type non-existence in an attempt to escape the torturous reality of camp life?

Frankl answers his own question with the eloquent statement below:

Pg 75 – “And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”

 Pg 84 – “Nietzche’s words “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”.”

Pg 51 – “Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, “How beautiful the world could be!”.”

When your environment comes to be what is only contained within the four fences of a concentration camp, positivity must be sought after in the most simplest of forms. Frankl remarks on how a newfound appreciation for nature would act as a crutch to the dying man. How the beauty of the sunrise and sunset would offer a temporary moment of escape to the prisoners of war.

Pg 85 – “We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

Viktor Frankl discusses openly of the frequent suicide attempts by fellow prisoners, he exclaims how camp rules made it strictly forbidden to help save a man attempting to end his own life, you could not for example cut him down. He states how those men who felt suicidal felt like they had nothing more to expect from life. Frankl’s response is that life is still expecting something from them. Perhaps not today but someday in future. Perhaps they will be a father or a husband. A future child or wife will need them.

 

Man’s search for meaning is by no means an easy read, as much as it made me think about methodologies and attitudes, it made me honestly feel deeply emotional at points, as I was so immersed in the experiences Frankl unfolded. Lessons learned from his work can be taken into many areas of our lives, this book, although focusing on the most brutal and evil parts of human history has managed in the process to give liberation to both Frankl and the reader. We have been given a chance to learn from Frankl’s horrific experiences, and so the question is, as one of the book’s main highlights – will we make that choice?

Alternative London #1

Writing

Leake Street, Waterloo/ Lambeth

This quirky creepy tunnel encloses all kinds of goodies under it’s archways. From the hard to miss graffiti to the more tucked away eateries offering all kind of delicacies. Such as Banh Bao Brothers , Rat Bar and Draughts.

And let’s not forget to mention The Vaults! If you don’t know of it, your life has been boring af! Bit harsh, if you haven’t heard of it, definitely check them out if you’re into interactive theatre and altogether electric eccentricity.

The Vaults at Leake Street Arches, Waterloo, London.. Graffiti on the exterior, interactive theatre experience inside.

And now, onto the graffiti!

Here are some of my favourite pieces within the 300 metre long tunnel, I think art constantly gets replaced with new art so I think it;s good to get a snapshot of time of the art of the moment:

Graffiti, street art, London, Banksy, Waterloo, Lambeth, tunnel , City

Wide shot of the tunnel, sorry for the car!

Celebrity spotting! Anthony Hopkins and Tilda Swinton.

Mind blowing artwork exhibited within the archways at The Rat Bar.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece - The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci at The Rat Bar, London.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece – The Mona Lisa by Leonardi Da Vinci at Rat Bar, London.

Model, Posing on the stairwell of an exit/entrance to Leake St, Waterloo, London. City Street Art UK

You Know I had to do it, Nike call me!

Word 'Boyish' and alien image visible. Boyish Graffiti in Leake St, London. City street art.

Disturbingly Beautiful.

Graffiti of Pac-Man, Leake St, Waterloo, London

“Computer games don’t affect kids. If Pac-Man affected us as kids we would all be messing about in darkened places munching………”

We Are All Mad / Follow Your Heart

The wonderful pieces above  are just the tip of the iceberg, I’d highly recommend paying the archways a visit if you come to London. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Photographs taken by @claudiarosemoore

The Poetry of War

Writing

Below are two poems I have written which I may enter into an upcoming competition The competition challenges the writer to explore the concept of national identity, by responding to how it is portrayed in the works of WWII Poets.

I chose Timothy Corsellis’ poem – News Reel of Embarkation 

The antagonism between fighting for one’s country and fighting for one’s own life. You’re walking into battle without a care in the world, Corsellis relays the all too knowing realities of war, his wisdom – a bid to wipe the smiles off the young soldiers naive faces.

Timothy Corsellis’ poem questions how you can be so giddy heading off to war – pre-war feelings

My two poems in response to his, focus on post-war feelings – how you can be struck with trauma (post traumatic stress disorder), a loss of self-identity, a loss of home.

P(lay) T(oy) S(oldiers) D(addy)

I fought for my country,

I fought for my life.

I’m now at home in my country.

But I’m not at home in my mind.

 

I’m lost back out at battle,

I’m battling my inner demons everyday.

The war may be over to the outward eye,

Yet within me it never ends.

What is unfamiliar to you is home for me,

Hearing the tear of flesh,

As you wash your sheets.

Feeling the last breath of a friend on my cheek,

As your mouth feeds.

You can never see what I had to see.

All for a piece of metal, for a so-called identity.

 

The title itself reflects the innocence of a child, a child who looks up to their father for support and leadership, meanwhile the parent is suffering from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hiding his pain from his child. From the world as best he can. 

 

VETERAN HOMELESSNESS

I HAVE A HOME,

IT’S 53 BELVEDERE RD,

IT HAS A BIG TREE OAK,

AND A BIG CHIMNEY THAT SMOKES.

 

MY CHILDREN, THEY PLAY IN THE GARDEN,

BEANEATH THE BIG OAK TREE,

MY WIFE, IS SUNBATHING EFFORTLESSLY,

AND IT IS THERE SHE WAITS FOR ME.

 

I DO ONEDAY, HOPE THAT I RETURN,

TO THE FAMILY I  LEFT BEHIND.

TO HAVE MET MY FATE AT THE END OF A BARREL,

MAY HAVE BEEN MY ONLY WAY TO FIND,

PEACE.

 

ATLEAST THAT WAS HOW I USE TO THINK,

WHEN I USE TO THINK AND FEEL.

NOW ALL I FEEL IS THE WET COLD GROUND,

AND THE CHALKY TASTE OF PILLS.

IT’S WEIRD HOW I FOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE,

BUT YOU DON’T EVEN NOTICE MINE.

YOU WALK PASSED ME ON THE SIDE OF THE STREET.

MAYBE YOU JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME.

 

So many of our veterans are suffering. The Mirror has reported that atleast 13,000 soldiers are left homeless after serving. Shouldn’t government funding go towards getting them off the street than on painting parks and leaf blowing?

The fact that the poem has no set rhythm between verses emphasises the disillusionment the war veteran is experiencing, lost flow reflects his sense of losing his family, his home and himself (his identity).

Poem order: normality – he had a home a sense of place, he went to war and lost himself, scarred by the trauma, on return he struggled to cope, he became a recluse, thought it better to end his life by overdose, but now doesn’t even have the effort for that. He is numb to any emotion. He sits on our street corners, we walk by not batting an eye for a man/woman who has in actual fact saved our lives. They’ve lost their identity, but haven’t we lost part of our own? Haven’t we as a society lost our morals?  

 

An image of St Paul's Cathedral in London, UK.

7 Interesting St Paul’s Cathedral Facts, London

Writing
  1. Standing Tall – The cathedral stood as the tallest building between 1710 – 1965. Now The Shard bloody eclipses everything!!
  2. 35 years – The length of time it took Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild St Pauls’ cathedral after old St Paul’s was destroyed in the Great Fire of London 1666.
  3. Secrets held within – A notable feature of this London treasure is ‘The whispering gallery’. A whisper against the wall can be clearly heard at the other side, 112 feet away!St Paul's Cathedral taken from the side closest to the River Thames. Summer 2018, London, England, UK.
  4. Sir Christopher Wren  – The St Paul’s Cathedral designer was the first person to be laid to rest in its grounds.
  5. War – The cathedral was hit by several German bombs during the Blitz in World War 2. One was removed before it exploded; had it not been, St Paul’s would’ve been demolished.

St Paul's Cathedral photographed  from the Southbank side of the River Thames in Summer 2018. London, UK.6. Life And Death – Funeral services for several famous people have been held at St Paul’s, including Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson. The wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was also held there.                                                                                                7. The Greats – The two largest bells in St Paul’s are named Great Tom and Great Paul. Great Paul has not rung in several years due to a broken chiming mechanism. Great Tom is sounded for the death of a member of the royal family, the Bishop of London, or the Lord Mayor of London. Don’t ask me where they got their names, atleast it’s not Big Ben!