Category Archives: Weekly Trail

Expiry Date

It doesn’t creep

in the middle of the night.

It’s not that cold shiver

you experience as the

first golden leaves fall

at the end of summer.

It’s not the cold ache

biting into your skin

in the middle of winter,

or the silence that slips in

behind the laughter.

Our fallibility falls like dust motes,

coating one and all equally

in the inevitable: our expiration.

Copyright held by Eloise De Sousa (2021)

Cover Reveal

It is such a pleasure to share the book cover of Cecily Lalloo’s new book, which is counting down its its debut as I write this. Cecily has worked tirelessly over the last year to perfect her book on employing positivity and I look forward sharing her work with you over the coming weeks.

cecilyswritings.wordpress.com/2021/10/05/cover-reveal-book-1/

Trudging Through Treacle

After a month of sickness where I watched each member of my family fall under the evil grasp of ‘Rona, I am happy to say that we have all survived and are now on the road to recovery. With anosmia taking away the taste of victory for a few of the family members, and the hubble’s residual chest infection sounding like sludgy blocked pipes every time he coughs, it still feels incredible to say that we survived her visit and lived to tell the tale.

The scales were weighed against us from the onset of this crazy year and a half since the news broke about a new, more deadly virus sweeping across the world. As people panicked and tossed toilet rolls into their trollies, the hubble and I made a plan to shield for as long as possible, setting up cleaning stations for the children on their return from school and berating the older two when they dared go out into the invisible dangers that threatened our lives. The year swept by with the same speed and violence as the virus and 2021 brought opportunities to vaccinate ourselves against the deadly disease. I was called up for my first vaccination in March. It wasn’t a pleasant experience as the side effects knocked me down for a few days, making me regret my decision. Before I had a chance to recover my wits, the hubble was hit with a massive heart attack. I watched helplessly as they wheeled him to the ambulance and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to go with him to the hospital. He was alone. There are no words to describe the gut-wrenching moment you realise your life partner might never return and this would be your final good-bye. His last words before the doors closed were of him begging the paramedics to give him the vaccine before taking him to the hospital. We were terrified at the prospect of him going into a place riddled with the virus as we had heard horror stories of patients catching Covid and dying once they entered the hospital.

He survived. A surprise phone call two hours later reassured me that our world had not completely imploded and that the super heroes working the wards at the hospitals were still fighting fearlessly to keep everyone alive. Over the next few months we moved forward as a family, making sure the hubble’s recovery went smoothly. All was well and he received his vaccinations making us both double vaxxed and supposedly safe. That is, until the virus decided to catch a ride on one of our older children and arrived home at the beginning of July. It didn’t take long for ‘Rona to make herself feel at home, nestling in the folds of the family, sucking the breath and life out of each member as they fell under her spell. The older two were the first to fall, followed by my youngest. I nursed them, watching them turn and twist with the fever, cry out at the blinding headaches and cough up phlegm and what sounded like lung into mountains of tissues. My hands turned crusty from the amount of bleach and disinfectant used in the battle to keep the virus to their rooms, but she was clever. She hitched a ride on me. Just as the first lot finished their isolation, she attacked the next, knocking down the hubble and my middle child within a day. By this time I had fallen to her wily ways too and lost a weekend to delirium.

Weak, washed out and weary, we struggled to hold each other up during what felt like endless days of illness. Work had to continue and each family member limped on, trying their best to keep some semblance of order after a sudden reshuffle of life cards. I think the worst part was the fear – the fear of watching the children burn up day and night without respite. The fear of hearing their airways close as they struggled to talk and slowly lost their sense of smell and taste. Stress over the hubble’s weak heart created palpitations in my own ticker. Would he be removed from our lives again? Would the children have to watch him disappear into the back of an ambulance, never to return? ‘Rona had us all in her tight grasp and refused to let go.

There are those among us who don’t believe that the vaccines work or protect us. I, myself, had my doubts whilst fighting through the riptide of ‘Rona’s wrath. All I can say is that my worst fears were not realised. Were were not hospitalized and for that, I am grateful to the vaccines for what little or immense support they gave our bodies in fighting off the virus. As I sit here now, I still have a cough and a very husky voice that will rival a heavy smoker. The hubble is sitting across from me working at his desk, suffering coughing attacks every few minutes and continuously blowing his nose. If this is the price we have to pay for tussling with the b*tch from hell, then I am okay with that. When I think of all those friends and family who have lost loved ones in this battle to survive, I count our blessings and breath a shaky sigh of relief. We are probably not completely out of the woods yet as ‘Rona has a way of paying her respects to her victims in the form of long Covid. That’s a fear that we will just have to live with.

We all have different experiences and opinions about this virus. Some are educated and others less informed. The media does not help with the scare tactics and misinformation, which is spreading fear and segregation as fast as the virus is killing us off. She doesn’t need help, yet here we are giving her an extra hand. I’m sharing my experience with you not to sway you towards a certain opinion or to share the gross facts of the side effects of what awaits those who fall under ‘Rona’s spell. No. Instead, this is me acknowledging just how awful the past few months have been for us as a family and realising that the virus itself was bad, but the fear of it was far worse. Yes, I will be that person wearing a mask when you come near me and I will take a few steps to bridge a gap between us because I know just how much of a toll this virus has taken on myself and my family. I am going to do my level best to make sure she doesn’t get a return visit.

Cancelling Enid Blyton and Chimamanda’s “It Is Obscene” essay – is it possible to have a balanced discussion?

I have been searching for a well balanced written piece that discusses history and literature without spurting vitriol which we seem to face at every social turn these days. To sit on the fence makes you a sitting duck ready for target practice.
I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

Vaseem Khan

This week saw two incidents that exploded into the literary firmament, the shock wave propagating out into the public domain and inciting worldwide comment and debate. At the risk of stepping into a political minefield and having my metaphorical legs blown off, I present here my own take on matters.

Firstly, English Heritage updated its online entry for Enid Blyton, a recipient of the organisation’s blue plaque honour. For those not familiar with the scheme, blue plaques are awarded in England to figures of historical significance. You can see them dotted around the country on the walls of buildings where the recipients once lived.

English Heritage’s revised description of Blyton notes that her work was criticised –during her lifetime and after – “for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit”. Such updates are being made, according to English Heritage, “to provide a fuller…

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What is art?

A short essay on art by Vaughan De Sousa

What makes truly great work is often not the work itself but the premise it stands on. To subvert reality is to create art which stands a level beyond ‘good’ or ‘impressive’ and has the ability to move people.
Is the purpose of art to move a person? Who knows. Art is already not a fully understood entity, and the purpose of an endeavour as intense as creating a piece of art one is proud of has deep psychological influence on the creator, even if this doesn’t reach the audience.

The Picture of Dorian Gray sees an artist put a piece of his soul into the painting he has created. An object of moral degradation used by its commissioner, but a creation of desire and connection. How art is used is somewhat meaningless once it passes from the artist to the surveyor. Try as we might, artists do not have the power to force their viewers into seeing their own vision. We will never see things the same way as another.
Sight, like every sense is built upon by experience. We are what we have been through, even if behind that we are the same. With our differing experiences we interact with the world, creating new visions every second. Does this invalidate the creator’s vision? Maybe. One could say that the value of an artist resides in their ability to create works which follow their intention, which transcribe the world from the brain of the madman to the eyes of the sane.

So then, could we argue that art is a language? Language is a method by which people relate their experiences with one another through a common understanding. We can never truly communicate our own world to another without a medium understood by both. This is because, as previously mentioned, there is no way for two minds to interact. Speech, signals, even expression define ways in which the living are able to relate their experiences. So too, in this way, does art describe an experience. We understand that which exists through the veil of that which is universally understood. Yet, art is able to provide an experience which is understood only by the creator.

Then does art not dictate reality? Maybe. Because what is reality other than what we define it to be. Let me explain; for us, the viewers, a piece of art may display nothing but an amalgamation of ideas, an expression on paper or a blur of half concepts. Yet to the artist this is a truth, a fundamental of their reality put into the universal world. A form of linguistic expression. The reality of this piece of work gains and loses substance depending on the surveyor, yet it exists! It is real, an expression placed into the observable reality. Meaning and value are nothing as art breaks the barrier of the mental ‘real’ and the physical ‘real’.

So then, what makes a piece of art great? I can only speak from personal perspective now; however, we have already seen that this does not invalidate my approach. Rather, this work that I put forwards is my own art. It is my expression of idea, understood by some and rejected by others but nevertheless a piece of my soul etched on paper.
I believe to move myself art must first break expectation. Whether that be in the initial glance, or scene or second, or at the end when a perspective shift changes everything. To create art which shatters the illusion of safety allows the individual to begin to ‘feel’. Before this we are simply running through the motions of experience. Everything changes us, but we are often not aware of it. Jarring processes allow introspection and a hasty desire of the brain to catch up to the new perspective, this provides a gap for art to flourish.

Think about art like waging a battle. Everything is connected of course, one could say: think about battle like performing a dance, or performing a dance like painting a picture. Everything is connected.
To win a battle at the highest level it is not enough to be perfect. Imagine two chess players of excellent ability coming to a head. To play perfectly allows the chance of winning so long as the other player makes a mistake. But these are human players. One can only think ahead so long. What if one were to play an unexpected and jarring move. The response can be a number of things: hasty, direct, winning, losing, cautious, optimistic… a previously perfect game is thrown into disarray with the introduction of a subversion from the norm. In art, there is no winning or losing, there is only the break from reality, and the chink the defences of our mind.

The surveyor is your dance partner, your enemy at war, your chess opponent and your audience. To slip past the defences created by a mind is to find the opening whereby a life can be forever altered. Sometimes this is easy. The surveyor has had a hard day, they have lost a family member, or they are ready to quit their jobs/lives. The armour is in tatters, the audience has come to the show begging for change, at this point to change one’s life is simple. We can relate an armour-less surveyor to a child. Experience weathers us, it creates layers or expectation which prevents art, and all other experience from changing who we are. Or better yet think of it like a river, causing erosion on a smooth surface. A rush of water down this surface will not change much regarding its path, as the path is already set in the ground. It may widen or deepen it, but there is no new course to be made.
The mind of a child is a pile of sand, and you the artist hold a bucket of water. You can shape this mind however you wish with the notches, grooves and streams that you may pour atop this pile of sand. And as the sand mixes with dirt and clay, the grooves you have created solidify. I hate to say with time, but that is what happens. Once the grooves are made they remain, slowly gaining in intricacy as other sources of water pour, and more sediment hardens the earth.

Everything is connected. You understand where I am going with this, I am sure. The ability for art to create or add to a stream is clearly there, but what is the joy in adding to a groove in the dirt. You want to make your own. Perhaps art is a forceful thing, the artist a dominant figure. I write this piece expecting a change in your mental state, you will change after reading this regardless of who you are or what you have experienced, if only through the fact that you will have read something. But as the creator I have changed you, moulded a tiny piece of your mind forever.
But what if I were to change this work here. And completely destroy your expectations. I am not a great artist, I do not know what I could do to do this, but imagine I place beneath this wall of text an image which shatters your illusion. A picture that shocks you to your core, making you rethink all you have read thus far.

This would be your chink in your armour. Following this shock I could place a few simple words. You may go away from this with a desire to make something new, or a fear of art and it’s grips on your soul. ‘Soul’. Mind.
With this new experience you will rework your mind, you will solidify what you have seen and heard around your personality. It will become a new groove in your earth. And you will continue on, with a line drawn into your life by me. The artist.

I believe that art, when great, stands on a premise and shatters it. I believe this allows the artist free reign of your mind. I believe that a truly great artist uses this moment to reshape you, like a clay doll being altered before being placed into a kiln.
Because death is the final point of hardening, you will not gain any experience (known by us) from then on. You are the finished piece of art upon your deathbed.

Art is not just a painting on a canvas or a clip of a movie scene. Art is the the experience, from the creator to the created. We shape ourselves and others when we form art. Art is a language, and is also every language. But then you may ask, what is the difference between art and ANYTHING ELSE.

Everything is connected.

Shh… It’s Our Secret!

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of featuring a fantastic author who has the ability to create worlds that readers of all genres can sit back and enjoy. I am happy to announce that Lizzie Chantree is back to tell us more about her latest title, Shh… It’s Our Secret.

Welcome back, Lizzie. I’m so excited to hear more about your latest book.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog today and for the amazing support of the launch of my latest book.

There are lots of ways to boost your mental health and wellbeing and having people around that you love and trust can help. In my latest book, Shh… It’s Our Secret, Violet struggles with self-confidence and self-worth.

Violet doesn’t want her friends and her sister to view her as a failure. The customers in the rundown café bar that she works in have become her confidants, including two eccentric pensioners, who feel like they have to act as her unofficial bodyguards when her secret ‘escapes’ into public knowledge. Violet will have to find out who has betrayed her and to step out of the shadows and find her voice.

If you could summarise the dramatic action, how would you capture it in a few words?

Violet has a secret that could change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works. After losing her parents at a young age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them.

Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.

When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidently discovers her closely guarded secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain undiscovered?

Thanks for sharing your new title with us, Lizzie.

Shh… It’s Our Secret by Lizzie Chantree is available in audio, ebook and paperback format.

If you missed Lizzie’s previous feature on this site, click on the pic below to find out more about her highly entertaining title, The little Ice Cream Shop by the Sea.

About the author:

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Visit her website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.

Two pigeons

France & Vincent

balls 014

I remember going to see Les Deux Pigeons many years ago, a ballet re-choreographed by the great Frederick Ashton. As with all Ashton’s work, the choreography is beautiful and delicate, and the young dancers captured the movement of the birds perfectly. The tale draws on La Fontaine’s fable and tells a story of young lovers. The fable itself was inspired perhaps by Horace in his Epistles, and the fact that pigeons and doves mate for life:

And we nod in agreement like old familiar doves.
You guard the nest: I praise the streams and woods
And the mossy rocks of a beautiful countryside.

Driving home from my son’s today I saw the saddest of sights. High on the top of a street lamp were two pigeons… ring doves… playing out a tragedy equal to any written.

One was, quite obviously, dead; the lifeless form unmoving on the top of…

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Saddle Up Saloon; Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 3

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Happy April! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. As a guest of the Saddle Up Saloon, every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we will explore a different theme or image to inspire our poetry. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have an entire month to write your poem. No blog? Don’t worry. Add your poem in the comments below.

Check out the poems from last monthHERE

The wordEnneadmeans nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are…

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My First Children’s Book and Cover Reveal

The Showers of Blessings

I’m excited to announce that my debut children’s book Tina Lost in a Crowd will be published on April 15 and is available for preorder. The paperback will also be available. I’ll share with you the making of the book during the book release.

On Amazon, the eBook is $1.99 from preorder to the end of April. The paperback will be $6.95 from April 15th to the end of April.

The Hardcover and eBook will be available on Barns & Noble later.

I’m grateful for Bette A. Stevens, Pete Springer, Robbie Cheadle, and Denise Finn who were tremendously helpful in the process. They generously gave me detailed feedback and suggestions beyond my expectations.

The Book Release Tour will be from Monday, April 19 to Sunday, April 25. I’m thankful for the friends who will help to host the tour. I will post their links and invite…

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Legacy…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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“Well, my friends, for a time the road ends here.

I must away to dismantle Sue’s ‘temple home’.

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If you are still craving her words of wisdom,

then we have been running a selective retrospective of her work

over on the France & Vincent website.

If you follow that blog then the updates will be delivered automatically.

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Alternatively, you could check out some of Sue’s published works.

All the books listed below are available via Amazon

and most of them are available as Kindle Editions.

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Books by Sue Vincent

Mythology

The Osiriad: Myths of Ancient Egypt

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Esoteric Fantasy

Swords of Destiny

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Guided Meditations

Petals of the Rose

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Poetry and humour

Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two

Laughter Lines: Life from the Tail End

Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog

Pass the Turkey!: Christmas with the Small Dog

Life Lines: Poems…

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