WALLS AND BRAMBLES

This is a beautiful world, where ugliness creeps in and tries to dominate. As a child, surrounded by fields and trees, protected by a loving family, I was happily unaware of anything more evil than the boggy area I got stuck in one day as I walked by the stream.

However, in school I felt alienated from those around me, because I came from a different culture than them. While I was as British as my contemporaries, this was a small village school in a rural location, and all of the children came from families who had lived there for generations; probably forever. My mother was a Scotswoman; a ballet dancer, and my father had been a professional photographer with a successful studio in London. When he hit forty, he decided to change his life, and gave up his business to move himself, his pregnant wife and his three sons to North Devon, where he became a farm labourer. I was the bump in my mother’s belly.

Although I was born in the area, I was never accepted as a local. My accent was different, and so was my background. I was heavily influenced by my father’s eccentricities, and was considered strange.  ‘Ers a bit mazed een the aid’ (translation: she is a bit mad in the head) was the way the locals voiced it.

I am grateful to my parents for encouraging individuality, but as a child, proud though I was of my heritage, it made interaction with those around me difficult. When climbing trees, turning cartwheels and running through fields I was confident and complete, but I shied away from most company.

I discovered the magic of books as soon as I learned to read; the way the heart would beat faster as I held a new volume in my hand, the feather tickle in my chest and stomach as I opened it, caressing the flyleaf while I held myself in suspense, putting my nose to it and inhaling the fragrance of paper. What secrets would this book contain? Only after that ritual would I open it, suddenly exhaling, and taking another gulp of air as my brain registered that I had been holding my breath.

My teacher had told me that there were twenty-six letters in the alphabet. I had counted them and she was right. And there they all were, between the pages of the book. Twenty six letters that can be arranged in finite ways to make words, and then those words can be arranged to make sentences – so many sentences saying so many different things, or the same things in different ways.  It was so exciting, and I wanted to do it. I found I could do it, and everyone told me I did it well, better than anyone else in the school, and better than anyone else in the other two schools I went to afterwards.

I could have a glittering future as a writer! Well, how could I refuse to make a living out of the thing I was most passionate about? So I took the obvious course. I left school as soon as I had the chance, without gaining any qualifications, and got a job in a factory.

Yes, truly, that is what I did. I loved writing but I hated school.

I had fun. It was easy in those days to step out of a job on a Friday, and into a new one the following Monday. Over the years I worked in several factories, a few hotels, I spent a year in Art College, nine months as a student nurse, I was an ecclesiastical embroideress  for a while and I owned and ran a retail business for almost twenty years. During that time I married a good man, had two children, foolishly divorced him, had two more children with a partner and sensibly left him to move into a place which was loosely termed a commune; where I managed their huge permaculture garden.

Since then I have worked as a cleaner at a holiday resort and been warden of a woodland holiday campsite, living in a tent with no electricity on site, which was the most enjoyable and rewarding job I have ever done. I’m supposed to be going there for the next summer season, but have decided not to, because I would it would make it impossible to carry on with this blog, or to do any writing to speak of, as I use a word processor now, and can’t seem to go back to the old way.

As you can see, I have spent my life jumping over walls into brambles, but I have never stopped writing, because sometimes when I write I feel connected to something powerful and loving, and I no longer feel alone, and sometimes when I read what I have written I am moved to tears by the words, those twenty-six different shapes on a bit of paper, arranged in a different order every time, and saying so many things so beautifully.

And I often wonder, where did they come from? They seem to have a life of their own.

I write short stories, and occasionally poems, taking inspiration from the way people respond to both advantage and adversity in life. I try to keep my stories short, because I think it makes more people likely to read them, and because the messages are often very simple, not really requiring embellishment. I like to write stories of less than 100 words sometimes, because it feels somehow like painting.

I started writing this blog because I have come to believe that I have something to say, and that  my words can move people. This blog was intended to be a first tentative step to see if anyone out there liked what I do, and if so, to try to get published. After only a week I’m no longer sure whether that is the direction in which  am aiming.

For financial reasons, it would be practical for me to make a living from my writing, but at this moment what really matters to me is that I may be able reach out and do something which will benefit others. I have seen and experienced some terrible things in my life, and often found myself unable to move forward until the right words appear before me in written form. Only a few days ago I was in despair until I found a lovely poem from an amazing person on a WordPress blog. I read her words and immediately knew what I action I needed to take.

So in a year’s time, I hope I have a good following of people who will benefit in some way from my words. I hope that I will have made contact with parents and partners and children of addicts, because we can help each other. I hope that I will be part of a supportive community of people with shared interests. I hope I have figured out more substantial way in which my writing can be of use to others.

And I hope it will be an adventure.

© Jane Paterson Basil

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24 thoughts on “WALLS AND BRAMBLES

    1. Thank you so much. I hoped that it would be a gift, rather than a trial. I’m really enjoying writing it. Apart from it being a welcome distraction, it was what I wanted to do. Jane xxx

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    1. Thank you for taking such an interest in my story. It was hard for me to write – usually when I write about myself I do it in the third person, because it helps me to hide the things I don’t want to expose.

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  1. How many of us have been rescued by the magic of books! Writing too, opens the world, shows us where we’re tied down, offers us a good look at the brambles. Lot of nettles around too. They are edible and blackberries are a delight. So is your writing.

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  2. Well hello again Jane! I think you are courageous and beautiful. Thank you so much for your words. You are concise and swing a mean limerick and other poetry styles too. I wish we could meet one day for a garden play date, when we build our new garden at the new place. I have to wait for snow to melt and move and build a new garden. Life’s technicalities. I’m glad you will continue to blog.

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    1. Such generous words… Thank you. While I never know how to respond, I am always grateful for them. They give me the confidence to keep moving in
      the right direction.
      As for courage, I Don’t know whether or not I am brave. I just believe that I can make a positive difference, so it is my duty to try.

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  3. Your love of words, your introduction to your love of books is wonderful. It takes me me back to receiving my favourite of all Christmas gifts as a young child. ‘ A Book of a Thousand Poems,’ gave me the same joys you describe so well.
    i will follow… Thankyou! 🌻

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    1. Thank you!
      A thousand poems! How wonderful. When I was a child, my mum recited poetry (and sang) with a look of rapture on her face, as she did the housework. Words are so beautiful when carefully arranged, and I have never lost that feeling of wonder that they give me.

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    1. Thank you. I never learnt the trick of concealing my heart, and these days I actively try to be as honest and open as I can. I offer my shame to the world, and the world exorcises it. I encourage others to do the same. Many suffer because they are ashamed of their secrets,but nobody expects or even wants us to be perfect, and often sharing the terrible things not only heals us, but also helps others.
      I love Esther Newton’s challenges. They give me an excuse to play with fiction and humour.

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      1. It takes a lot of courage to be so open and honest. I try to be too to an extent but I probably hold a little piece of me back. I would like to have a go at Esther’s challenges particularly after meeting her at the Bloggers Bash in London this August, she’s a lovely lady.

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  4. Oh, great. I had to stumble across this blog, didn’t I… Now I’m going to have to “like” it, and all that other internet-ty stuff you do when you want to keep track of what somebody else writes. Not fair! I blame you, Jane!

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    1. I know what you mean. I’d never had anything to do with blogging when I joined WordPress. No-one told me it was a community. I just thought “Yeah, I’ll get one of those blog things an’ people will read my stuff an’ I’ll get famous an’ the publishers will be fighting to their hands on my manuscripts an’ I’ll get rich and famous an’ I won’t have time to do my blog an’ everybody who used to read it will cry an’ cry an’ then they’ll have to buy my books too. Or something like that. Then I got involved, and it takes up a lot of time when I promised myself I would be writing.
      I love it!

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