It’s been one of those weeks when there have been things to do and people to see. While things have been done and people seen I feel that I haven’t done all that I wanted to do – especially finish the novel. . .
I’m not going to comment on the news, depressing though it is. It’s not that I don’t think my opinion is unimportant it’s more that I have no solutions. I can’t see how we’re going to get out of the Brexit mess since any sensible solution requires people to be sensible, honest and prepared to change their minds and none of that seems likely. The madness of Trump only gets worse – will anyone ever trust the USA again? Meanwhile climate change continues, protesters protest and get denigrated, while those in authority do nothing, or sometimes the opposite of what is required. I am currently reading the Hugo award winner, Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal which includes a speeded up climate emergency caused by a meteorite. Despite the desperate situation, Kowal, shows people still reacting in a short term, “I’m alright Jack (now)”, manner.
One thing that did get me hot under the colour was a report of people protesting about new guidelines for schools dealing with trans kids. The guidelines suggest that the children be integrated i.e. not forced to use separate loos, changing rooms, etc. The protesters go on about the right of the majority to not feel uncomfortable or threatened by the presence of the trans-children. It struck me that if the references to trans in the protesters’ piece was replaced by “gay” or “autistic” or “people of colour”, (feeling uncomfortable about all those is not unknown), then the transphobia becomes obvious. How to get through to these people that one or two trans kids in a school are not a threat? They will be nervous, self-conscious, afraid of being singled out, aware that they are different, and most definitely, not out to abuse other children.
I had two writers’ group meetings this week. I wrote a story for the first but it is quite long. Also I was fairly proud of it and may use it elsewhere; I may even enter a competition! The topic for my weekly group was “Moral Judgement”. Now there was a daunting title. I had an idea based on an article in New Scientist about the evolutionary origin of moral behaviour e.g. caring for other people not obviously necessary for survival of the species. But I did not have time to write it, yet. Instead I was writing an article on the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry which was announced on Wednesday. This year it was a highly relevant piece of research that was rewarded – the development of lithium-ion batteries. The problem is determining the three people most responsible for the breakthrough and delivery of the batteries for commercial use. I think the Nobel committee have made a good choice and you can read my article on the HarperCollins Freedomtoteach blogspot here. How much does your life depend on lithium-ion batteries?
In lieu of a new story here’s something I wrote earlier, actually so long ago I can’t remember when. It is a somewhat exaggerated version of a repeated childhood experience, perhaps one that we all have.
It was warm snuggled under the bedclothes but Michael shivered and hugged his threadbare teddy. Something had disturbed him and now he was wide awake. He kept his eyes shut tight, pulled the sheets and blankets over his head and curled up as small as he could in the large bed. He lay still and listened.
Were those footsteps? He held his breath and waited for the sounds again. A click and scrubbing against the carpet, a pause then the same small noise again. It was footsteps, but not Mummy’s or Daddy’s familiar tread. The steps were beside his bed. He wanted to call out but his throat froze and no words would come. He squeezed teddy to his chest and very, very slowly tugged at the sheets. The edge reached the tip of his ear, a bit further and now the fleecy cotton was on his cheek. If he opened his eyes he’d be able to see the edge of the bed. Would someone be standing there?
He peered through the narrow gap between half-shut eyelids. It was dark but there was just enough light to see – nothing. The door to his bedroom was closed and there was no-one between his bed and the wall. Carefully Michael rolled on to his back holding teddy firmly. At the bottom of his bed the wardrobe loomed wide and tall and black as black could be. It grew larger as he stared at it and he looked into an endless tunnel. It was a great dark mouth which was swallowing him up. He trembled and shook his head but still no sound could find its way through his lips pressed firmly together. His eyes were trapped by the enveloping darkness. He was about to fall.
He turned his head away. Now he was facing the other side of his room. In the darkness he could just see the solid dark cone of the lamp on his bedside table and the wall beyond it, the patterns of the wallpaper indistinct. To the left was the outline of the chair beneath the window. His eyes followed the vertical parallel lines of the chair back up to the window sill, hidden behind the folds of curtains. Woven from thick fibres the unlined cloth allowed moonlight to enter the room in myriads of dim sparkles with the window frame forming a dark cross. To the right of the central spar there was a silhouette. Michael strained his eyes to make out the shape not wanting to be sure but yes, there were two legs, a body, and a head. Someone was standing on the window ledge.
Michael stared, his heart thumping rapidly in his chest, the blood roaring in his ears. How did they get up to his window? What would they do now? He waited for the crash of disintegrating glass; the curtains to billow out as the body came falling through the window to land on him, the breath and the life to be crushed out of him. Still no scream would come.
He watched and waited. The shape made no movement.
He watched and waited.