Mountains.

Are they immortal? Do they feel their movements? Shaped in time, carved by ice, snow and rain, to name but a few of nature’s shaping tools. Winds blow over them, sometimes finding ways deep into the soul of the mass, but often unmoving little more than loose ground.

Rains, earthquakes, feet passing over, whether herd or bird, a plethora of life creeping and digging into it. What does a mountain sense? Does it see the land and valleys below? Can it feel the altitude changes of plants like we feel the differences between socks, shorts and a woolen jumper?

From the lowlands to the tips, diversity grows and taints every inch with colour and variety. Crags, crevices, crests, cracks, boulders, rocks, ledges and all spectacle of materials decorate the mountain. Waterfalls and streams bathe the light that shines brightly down between the gaps in the clouds.

Flowers give the wings of bees and butterflies places to compete for beauty. The banks of trees stretch from thicket to wood to forest. Some ancient. Some not. Insects occupy every level and avoid the preying spiders that jump, spin webs and roan the floor. Chasms of rock beneath overhanging shelves house fluttering sounds within. The darkness of the mountain’s belly home to frightful delightful shapes and shadows. Oh, majestic mountain, what is it that you know?

Penned, when trekking, during a break at Muse village, Nepal, 11th January, 2017.

TESMC 六: Hexa-Sense

How do!

Writers use language resources as a key to organize texts, very much as I am doing now, albeit very amateurish in style, so that you, like the students as readers have a sense of what shall follow. When reading, a reader must orientate to a subject. For most who have experience reading in their native tongue, experience plays an advantage in determining the subject. For English as a Second Language (ESL) students, that experience may be lacking. For many of us, we may be able to pre-read and digest a news article, magazine piece or a book blurb just from experience. Our pre-formed ideas and exposure to templates could settle our mind on a track to read with ease. The imagination and interpretation of a seasoned-mind will draw out bold titles, enhance key points, find text captions, and articulate the who, when, what, why and how etc.

Achieving a proper semantic level via syntax isn’t a bad starting point. How many of us can clearly and quickly distinguish a cohesive conjunction from a rhetorical conjunction? How do we view phrases rather than look at individual words? Do we see the Lego castle or the loose blocks? Do those phrases serve as roles in conjunctions? Students face multiple texts, in differing formats, in varied lengths across countless textbooks, journals, magazines, booklets, instruction books, and so on. Students must use a range of complex resources and processes to make sense of the materials.

foreground/ˈfɔːɡraʊnd/ verbgerund or present participle: foregrounding

  1. make (something) the most prominent or important feature.

Knowing that a strap-line sits over or under a title, elaborating briefly on a subject is useful. The headline or title will grab the attention of a reader. There may be a byline with a writer and their expertise. So, before, even reading a sentence or paragraph, the reader could be parachuted into the story beyond, just by a few simple well-positioned words. From the introduction, a piece of writing will be elaborated on. There will be interpretation within the text and then quotes. Just to make things interesting, some publications make their ordering flexible, bullet-pointed, short and sharp, whereas others pad the hell out of the article. Rather like the teaching cycle, a reader must learn that things can be flexible. This learning cycle is subject to change, like all else in life. Orders change.

Some aspects can be skipped if students demonstrate they can satisfy the earlier stage of the cycle. It is advisable to set a clear context, to create a model, deconstruct it all, make a joint construction and then set independent construction.

Teachers must be sensitive when we go through books or texts. We read for meaning across the text. We read for context. The use of five different skills to comprehend the meaning will be decisive in thorough interpretation of text.

  • Pronouns refer back (and sometimes forwards) to content within the text.
  • Vocabulary is part of grammatical English. Grammar teaching requires cohesive conjunctions. Words like when, while, although, in other words, in the case of this, and so on are often new to students. Creating a list or glossary to assist will be useful.
  • Rhetorical conjunctions
  • Foregrounding at the whole text level.

By unravelling these pieces, peace in reading should follow. The purpose, schematic structures and language choice are all connected. Foregrounding is essential when it comes to almost all forms of texts. If a student is expected to look at and understand an article, then giving them the bigger picture and idea about reading the whole article is a must. Students from ESL backgrounds may be unfamiliar with conjunction forms and how linking words are used to tie together unknown vocabularies into their related sentences. Conjunctions should be provided to students, whether by heading, indexing or other means. Examples must be given for each and every one whether provided steadily or as a block. Familiarity takes time, and with gentle nurturing a student can be supported in focusing on reading text to know exactly which keywords of an introduction paragraph to look for. How do those words lead into the following paragraph and so on…

Cohesive conjunctions:

Conjunctions and connectives are cohesive devices that work to improve the flow of the writing.

Conjunctions operate within sentences and connectives relate to meaning between sentences.

Different types of conjunctions are used to express different types of relationships between ideas.

Ta’ra!

R Kid – Little Big Sister

Happy birthday to Astrid!

I know being in lockdown isn’t ideal and staying at my Mum’s for the best park of a year isn’t so independent, but at least our kid is safe and sound.

Astrid has the unfortunate month of birth that falls in the shadow of Christmas and just after the January sales dry up, usually. This year has been testing and it seems the future is also difficult. I know my sister is strong and she’ll do her best to keep herself busy and relaxed. Copious amounts of Beyonce and other vocalists will probably be heard. YouTube will be in good company with our kid playing tune after tune.

Our kid has always been wonderful to me, sharing her Hotel Chocolat chocolates, buying me snazzy and fragrant soaps from Lush or simply watching movies with me and our brother Paul. Astrid has always and will always be my friend and sister. I can’t wait to catch her when I’m in the U.K. next. We’ll have a good natter and a party later. Until then, all my love and best wishes for? this special day.

Peace and love to Our Kid, Big Bro x

Doubt.

Cutting into me, it twists like a knife. Confidence hasn’t been in my hand for too long. This companionship I hold drains me. An awful lonely feeling of dread and dreams that have disappeared.

Will I be disappointed? Will it all go wrong? What should I do now? WHAT SHOULD I DO? My soul screams at me. Echoes ping around my head like a thousand pinballs on a pinball board. Each ball finds a hole but no points join the scoreboard.

Silence hasn’t visited me in weeks. I’m trying. Oh, how I’m trying! Trying and crying. Solace? Where are you? I’m sensitive to you but you haven’t called for me in so long. Remember peace? I don’t recall it’s calm. My millpond is full of rippling waves. A cask of broken rocks plummets here and there. A plethora of circles expand ever outwards. This is my universe’s big bang.

A street that has no name is where my feet fall. I’m lost. I’m a shadow without a being. Am I a ghost without life? I want you to understand that I’m not looking for sympathy. You’ll forget me, as soon as you look at me. My skin is supposed to be thicker but every whisperer who whispers makes me want to shrivel away into nothingness. I’m not really here.

Religion and words won’t relate to me. Poems and stories won’t leap from the page. Songs won’t pull me together. I’m sure that I’ll see you again. Whatever you are. Whoever you were. We’re far apart. We’re not really here. Like the face of an invisible man. We’re not really here. We’re not. We are not. We’re not really here.

Oh doubt, you cut through me like fear. You tear me apart. You give me indecision. I’m in Dante’s inferno dancing without feet. My eyes are red-raw bleeding tears of sorrow and my lips are dry. Where did it all go wrong? Sometimes, no, all the time, I wonder why. Why does my soul wander? Why does it choose to wander hand-in-hand, side-by-side with you, doubt?

The unwanted alarm clock.

THUD! THUD! THUD! Clattering tapping, scraping, raking of metal on concrete, tapping to no discernible rhythm, whooshing of liquids of pressure too high to be useful (surely) and horns of an arriving concrete mixer. Jangling metal lifted by crane slams to the floor of an unfinished level. Thank you my neighbouring alarm clock that forever remains unwanted.

A yapping dog, barking, growling and filling the air with its territorial call of power. I imagine it’s been disturbed by the building site. The dull humming of pumped up storey after storey probably haunts the ears of that canine. Either that or the dog is angry that it is confined to an exposed balcony. Howling away without shame. Poor thing. Wouldn’t you be? Balconies should be silent, not living, breathing, wolf like alarm clocks.

The pressure is too much. It hurts. I’m going to burst. Can I sleep through this? No. Just no. I must get up. The call of my bladder has rang. Get up! Get up! Get on up! I stretch on wearying legs, reach up, straighten and with legs like Bambi, I strut awkward motion toward the bathroom. Here I greet the porcelain telephone and deliver my undesirable alarm clock’s stream away.

I settle back into bed. The din of the building site. The dog yapping. Wet hands from washing them after my body refused me a minute more of closed eyes. Vrrrrrrrrrr. The whirring of a power drill in the apartment overhead. It wakes a baby. Screams echo around the walls in a room somewhere adjacent to the drill hall above. Twinkle twinkle… What’s that? A piano thunders into life. Repeated notes, some off, some tuneless ditty from the apartment below. The nonessential alarm clock is an orchestra today.

A scream for good measure echoes down the corridor by my apartment. The immediate neighbour’s daughter is in a singing mood. Their cockerel on the balcony let’s out a few sounds. Little does it know that it’s on the menu tonight. Their washing machine had finished. I can hear it beeping. The treble electronic bleeps come every minute, and have been doing so for at least this last hour. I hear as the grandparents of the family rip up large packaging boxes and slam plastic bottles together before compression by foot and body. They sing a song, gently, no doubt, but to my alert morning ears, it is at karaoke level. My neighbours are a reliable alarm clock. But please… not today.

De trop. Redundant. Rejected. Unsought. Unwelcome. Unsolicited. These alarm clocks aren’t of my choosing. I close my eyes. Trucks and cars honk on a nearby road. An ambulance siren is piercing the air, screaming at traffic to move aside. Judging by the duration, the selfish traffic is refusing to assist. Blackballed the ambulance shrieks a lonely sound of hope to narrow-minded folk going about their day, unaware of an emergency vehicle probably on the way to something more important than my desire to snooze a little more. These alarms are not in the picture of my plan to doze.

The body clock, programmed by weeks of morning necessity has won. The Monday to Friday alarm clock of my mind has triggered. Saturday is now a school day too. I wonder if Sunday will be any different.

Blast notes.

Swirling swirls swirl around, swirly and softly to the ground. Drops drip and drop beyond. Down, falling high and low without sound. A roar of wind breezes through, pushing all air aside, drawing every room’s breath outwards. A vacuum for a split second, all life freezes. The rip of heat singes and severs flesh from bone. Dust from stone fragments, as waves upon wave of pressure jump and ripple in circles ever outwards. Heat rises. Metal buckles. Fragrance ceases to exist. The particles refuse to cooperate. Iron tastes flutter but refuse to reach the tongue. Rainbows of orange, red, gold and yellows in every known shade flicker, flash and flurry. A crack of sound, as if the sky itself had collapsed. And. In one brilliant flash. It was all over. Gone. Blank and no longer.

Feeling the music.

Help I’m alive. It’s the end of the world as we know it. Comfortably numb. Fall. Still feeling blue. Boulevard of broken dreams. Everybody hurts. I’m so lonesome I could cry. If you’re reading this. More than a feeling. I’m so lonely I could cry. Nothing compares 2 U. While my guitar gently weeps. Apologize. Mad world. Is there life out there? I just wanna dance with somebody (who loves me). You don’t even know who I am. Creep. All by myself. Hurt. Life is a lemon and I want my money back. O my heart. Left outside alone. Act naturally. Only the lonely. No hard feelings. Don’t let me be lonely tonight. Here comes that rainy day feeling. If you’re happy and you know it (clap your hands). Smile to keep from crying. Say something. Peaceful easy feeling. Into you. I feel the earth move. Dancing with myself. Hooked on a feeling. I feel fine. I can feel a hot one. Electric feel. I got the sweetest feeling. I got you. The way you make me feel. I will rise. Cum on feel the noize. Make you feel my love. I feel free. Feels like the first time.

Feel Good Inc.

Spun.

Twisting and turning, weaving and looping, over and over again, the thread winds and binds itself together, securing passage, places to capture and sending signals far beyond the centre. Each radiating line sends ripples outwards and inwards. A prang here. A twang there. Waves of delight or despair depending on your view. As wings flutter, powerless to escape, out I step, ready to drink the juices of life. The sun beats above, or it doesn’t, I’m ever present. Ever ready. Ready to feast. All on the web of life, that I spun.

Midnight at the last and found.

Hello, hello, we are the City boys… 你好

Sat in the passenger seat across from my Dad, the warm fans blasted heat into my legs and the windows were wound down. The cool Lancashire air drifted in. We were returning from Morecambe to Manchester. It was probably a Sunday night. Dad had been playing heavy metal from Iron Maiden, the early stuff with drums plentiful.

“You see you’re losing, yet you still try The game just a’watches your life go by You’re playin’ well, Oh you’re playin’ the game.” – Meat Loaf’s song Razor’s Edge

Now, in he popped a new cassette, and on played Meat Loaf. The smooth tracks mixed with electric and melodic blues rock took me beyond the car journey. I’d suddenly been transported beyond my pre-teenage self into a world of words sang at just the right tempo to catch my ear. Razor’s Edge is my favourite track on the often-ridiculed album. It has a frantic feel but is such a short song in terms of lyrical content. That’s considering it’s just over 4 minutes long.

“I can tell by the look in your tear-filled eyes;
You need somebody you can hold onto; If you really want to, I’d love to hold you;
If you really want to, then I’d love to be the body that you hold onto.” – Meat Loaf’s song If You Really Want To

I still remember looking at my Dad at the wheel. As a small kid, I looked up to my Dad. He was a colossus of a man with shoulders like bridges and arms like tree trunks. His chest stuck out like a rugby forward. His hands were like two shovels. He smoked casually at the wheel, eyes forward into the traffic and we talked a little. City this. City that. I gained my passion for Manchester City from my Dad. Stories of the ballet on ice, Kippax crowds, Uncle George and Grandad at the games. King Colin Bell, the floral named Summerbee, Franny One-Pen (took me years to understand that name), Tony Book, Trevor Francis, John Bond, Asa Hartford, Paul Powers, Gerry Gow and so on. Many other names were mentioned but times eroding effect on a kid’s memories can be harsh.

We talked lego, steam trains and finally Dad introduced me to Meat Loaf. With the finale of the Midnight at The Lost and Found album, Dad ejected the cassette and popped in Bat Out of Hell. The first Meat Loaf album I’d heard had been like a warm up act. Now I was spellbound by the range of vocals, the ferocity and energy, the theatrical length of several tracks and the tracks within tracks. The lyrics of Jim Steinman were sensational and to this day are poetry in musical form. A few weekends later Dad played me Dead Ringer on vinyl. Fond memories. I can’t wait to talk with my Dad again on a video call soon. If only the VPN would work with Messenger, Skype or something to make it. easy. Here’s hoping. Until then writing helps homesickness.

Goodnight from China. 晚安