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.

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.

Dripping.

What are tears? Are they escaping emotions from deep inside us? Is it fear, worry and strife jumping overboard? Does each tear represent the birth of hope? Each emerging drop must mean something. What do my tears mean?

I’m homesick. I’m alone. I’m lost. I’m without you. Terrifying panic as you’re lost in an Altrincham shopping mall? The day after a school day full of bullies pushing you around with hateful words. Thoughts of a day hidden under a bridge, unable to attend a funeral of a grandparent. Pup. The wonder dog. No longer by your side. No longer. It all means something, surely?

As momentum builds with each rolling droplet, your cheeks redden. Lips dry. Inside your mouth a new taste emerges. Raw. The taste of your own cheeks. Holding your hands to your face. Imagination flashes back to memories and forwards to dreams, good and bad. Sniffles break out. A stuffy nose hides all smells. You try to gain composure. Did it work? No. A tidal wave of locked away emotions surge out like a river bursting its banks. What does it all mean?

Friends fall. Time ages you. They remain unaged. Gone. Not forgotten. Far from home? Where is home? Why am I here? Why am I not there? Working hard. Working. Work keeps many busy. The lucky busy ones. Others don’t work. They can’t. They don’t. There is no work. We lucky busy workers. Some sleep early. Some late. Some nap. Snooze. Wake up. Lucky. Busy. Workers. Lucky. Where is this meaning that we all work for?

Interpretation. Judgement. Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you see my eyes red and tearful, judge me kindly. It doesn’t have to be this way. Or does it? The tears recede. Breathing slows down. The calm after the storm. Feelings. Feel. You feel. We feel. I feel. I felt something more. I felt again. I felt it rush back. Tears mean something more. Has hope been born again?

A.C. v Me

The air conditioner light is on. It’s seventeen above zero and the power still feeds it. I should stand up and disconnect it. I should. But I don’t. I’m worried if I stand up that the machine will win. Tomorrow it could be warmer. Then I plug it back in like a faithful servant. It shouldn’t be warmer tomorrow. The machine knows better.

That air conditioning unit of mine has seen much. It’s wise. It’s witnessed heat and coped with far worse than I can handle. Storms. Lashing winds. Torrential rainfall. Zipping daggers of lightning. Hailstones as big as marbles. It’s felt me hitting it as I pursue a bloodsucker of a mosquito. It’s been deadened by lightning and my operatic singing. It still clings the wall resolutely.

I say clings. It perches. No. It hugs. Hugs tightly like a giant curved fat bat with huge jaws. It just watches and waits, lifeless and cold. It’s heat setting is hidden away, unneeded. It knows that I don’t like warmth and I like the air to move. It waits for my moment of weakness. Patience is key. It’ll get me. It senses my needs.

But, after all that thought, I change my mind. Out pops the plug. Socket empty. It’ll be hot tomorrow. Just you see. It knows. Oh, how it knows. See you tomorrow.

TESMC ה: Hiraeth Strikes Back

It has started. We are too close to the door to close it now. The wind is too strong now to wind the sail. Anthony Horowitz gave empowerment to five. Enid Blyton made the number famous. Swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote a book about five rings. The Olympic games use five rings representing inhabited continents. Five-a-side football isn’t a bad game. In rugby a try gets you five points. “Give me five”, praises someone as you high five. Quintessence is essential to water, earth, fire and air. The five-second rule used to be applicable but then COVID-19 came along. UK pop band 5ive are best forgotten, just like the notes taken from the fifth TESMC module.

Words like dynamic and dynasty be so mellifluous. Pleasing to the ears. They make me all aquiver when tied to descriptive texts, like the bombinating of a bumblebee briskly buzzing by. Sometimes the words themselves are so ineffable that no words do them justice. These moments can appear ethereal like the petrichor (the sometimes pleasant fragrance of earth that follows rain). Try laying supine, facing the sky, closing your eyes and listening to the things around you. What sounds pleased? Which make a horrendous hum? Yesterday was the memorial day of the Nanjing massacre in China and at some stage a sonorous sound shrieked out from a siren. On the quieter side, there has been bird song and on opening my eyes, spheres danced in my vision, the phosphenes from the rubbing of my eyes.

Hiraeth [hiːrai̯θ] is here. A longing for home. The home of yesterday has changed. The world has changed. I cannot go back as easily as before. It’s a Welsh word. Pure beauty in meaning, a pining for nostalgia. A desire for home and an epoch gone by. I find myself as a somnambulist. I miss second-hand bookshops too. The kind of bookshop which is so full that it had to refuse more refuse. That vellichor. The fragrance and strangeness of so many gathered histories. The insurance has long been invalid for the invalid books.

A teacher must know words. Words are friends. Words need sharing. Words need to be entrusted and explained. How can we intimate this to our most intimate student friends? Students from ESL (English as a Second Language) backgrounds need new words. New words can help develop a love for language. Without these tiptoe steps into a world thesaurus and dictionary, what will a student learn? Are we sometimes guilty of assuming students can’t pick up new words? What are the ramifications of low expectations? Surely, if a student has been set low standards or an activity without a challenge then they will wither and fade like an autumn flower as winter arrives. Speaking of word play, congratulations to my mate Gerry on his third marathon finish. If he was a drummer, he could paint a bass fish on the head of the bass drum. Wordplay.

Ongoing and meaningful preparations are a must. You can’t make Christmas cards easily without card, colouring pencils or pens, and materials to stick onto the card. You may have the words to write ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ but they’re null and void without a place to affix them. Now, you have prepared well, and now it is time for explicit and timely support – by teachers and their assistants. These key tools of learning are essential to educating ESL students. Think omnipresence. Even at a later stage a teacher should be guiding through support and reassurance, or corrective guidance, when and where appropriate. Give an ESL student supportive confidence and they’ll fly. No more wilting flowers.

Practice alone won’t hone writing as a skill. It needs companionship. Reading, a variety of examples, experimentation and bravery aren’t bad starting points. Encouragement and explicit guidance by all teachers will go far. Repetition may help an ESL student with handwriting or to spell a few words but it won’t do much more without a careful eye and a hand on the shoulder. Teachers are the Jedi masters of the classroom. They must be open-minded, flexible and experimental in teaching strategies to encourage students to adopt the same mindset. Practice is important, however, to get better a structured and reflective approach, of a clear nature is of greater benefit. What a teacher wants from a class should be discussed and explained clearly. The teacher has the task of progressively conveying their expectations in ways that don’t confuse or blur the outcome. Every opportunity for a student to write should be a chance to seek clarification and guidance. Perhaps like now, it is Christmas and the task is to write Christmas cards. Careful wording helps build a basic familiarity. If not worded correctly your Christmas card workshop class could easily become a paper aeroplane and origami showroom. In my classroom, anything is possible. Perhaps, they’d create a Picasso-style masterpiece then rip it up. Upon seeing the tears in their painting I would shed a tear or two.

Writing processes must be clear, with the genre of the task apparent from the off. The specificities of the genre will make the register of the writing task transparent and relevant. Joint construction, modelling, then independent construction each have different demands on both the student and the teacher. Here the right language choices can be made. They offer the chance to have a running dialogue between the teacher and the student. The activity of writing is integral to learning in many educational contexts. It is not simply to show what has been learned. Far from it! One piece of text could be construed by one reader as a different thing to another reader. The writer interacts with their audience via the text. Various semiotic systems make this possible. They could be multimodal, interactive and often they have meanings or interpretations that change over time or from culture to culture or from prior knowledge or even contextual factors. Society and culture changes. Technology changes. Word meanings evolve or fade away. Who knows what literacy skills we’ll need for the next century?!

Pariseetomol sounds like paracetamol. Whilst one is headache-reducing, the former could be headache inducing. Part of the text is below. Is it a hybrid of Dr Seuss or Roald Dahl, or JRR Tolkien or Lewis Caroll? Perhaps Shakespeare has made a comeback tour like all good big-haired 80s artists do (1580s, obviously). Anyway for more on the below, look at it first and then I’ll share something just after the below text:

“Pariseetomol ossildates the senses, demanding to be looged, hoshed, plessed, misted and spolt. From plooking along the Seine to scarbarsters on merse-sized canvases to the pick-an-ism dupers in cafes parlandering on the mis of garlic or the perster kolecks of Jerry Lewis, Pariseetomol is the embiffers of all things French. Morzel simplurously at its brousal boulevards, pressim monuments, highstopper works of art and larly lippers. Savour its gourmet stoop of premble, jasmerse, dorsims and marebits. Feel the rosset in your doppel as you glerglack through Bastille, or a wergle of frompt and plossule atop the Eiffel Toppletipper.– Is this gibberish? See below.

Google and other search engines can ruin a mystery, as can Ben Greuter, ace TESMC instructor. Without giving anything away, here’s a link to explain the above Lonely Planet piece. In the classroom we were asked to answer some questions. Again, see below.

1. What does Pariseetomol do to the senses?

2. How is one advised to morzel?

3. When are you likely to feel the rosset in your doppel?

4. Why might you have felt a wergle of frompt and plossule atop the Eiffel Toppletipper?

5. What is the writer’s view of Pariseetomol?

Now, where and how do you begin to answer that. The bandage was wound around the wound. That’s where I’d begin. Much of what we read in English is about context and prior knowledge. Many authors can skip the obvious in a series of novels, but pick up the latest Jack Reacher novel and you may need a few back-publications to fully follow the brutal ex-military officer created by Lee Child. His mind was used to produce produce. He polished his character with the odd Polish trip. I’m sure one novel has the main character deciding to desert his dessert in the desert. And, Jack Reacher definitely took aim at a dove which dove into the bushes, which he could lead others to do if he would get the lead out.

On returning from lunch I see there is no time like the present. Someone thought it was time to present the Christmas present. I do not object to this secret object. Now, who sent it? I shall subject the mysterious subject to a series of tests. I have a package with neat folds, level taping and handwriting that appears feminine. The colour scheme is light and cheery. After, “Hey John” there is “~” which is quite common to signify affection or warmth. The contents will remain secret until Friday when I open it at the staff gathering. I guess from the feel that it is a pin badge, a keyring or earrings. I shall pontificate in my best Sherlock Holmes fashion without sweat. Maybe i could watch a documentary about an Australian marsupial, let’s say the wombat. It eats roots, shoots, and leaves. I’ll get my coat…

WOFORO DUA PA A – “When you climb a good tree” – support, cooperation [from Adinkra, the language of west Africa]