Daily Archives: August 12, 2015

I Write Like Shakespeare?

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I got back to my blog today after a few days in a technological no-man’s land, to find quite a few messages, including at least one from a blogger called Marge, who has a lovely smile and whose site is well worth a visit. When I went over there I found a fun link to a tool which analyses writing, telling us what famous author our style approximates!

I duly clicked on the link and followed the instructions. All I had to do was to copy and paste something I had written, so I chose this:

No longer Human

you’ve not hurt me today so you take your chance
and you step through the door with a flickering glance
and you’re stirring the air with historic deceits
dragging bags of tatters and tooth-rotting treats
you drop and spill your dirt over the floor
the pills the needles syringes and more
and I hope that you’re in a cognitive mood
at the first chance I get I will offer you food
because if you don’t want it I know I’m in trouble
and all that you want is to burst my bubble
you always look like you think you are right
as you shout in my face and you try for a fight
and you always know how best to succeed
and all you want is to make my brain bleed
so you shout and you scream accusations at me
and I can’t be heard as I enter my plea
of innocent with proof in the shape of my heart
as your screams increase as soon as I start
and I pull out all of my tools of prevention
to persuade you to cease this game of contention
but there’s no comprehension and no suspension
from this seemingly endless inane invention
your angry anarchic attack on convention
and I know that there’s no mis-apprehension
as you play dangerous games with my heart-rate
with your nickel-plate nonsense you love to mis-state
the truth of each story with lies that inflate
as you warm at the sight of the damage to date
your success in the bid to bring me this low
then I finally manage to tell you to go
and I see the delight writ clear on your face
and you step up the mind-numbing torture a pace
to force me to push you out of the door
because I can’t take it for one second more.

Some of you may remember it as my first concrete poem, looking like this.

The tool works almost as soon as you click “Analyse”, and it came back with the claim that I write like William Shakespeare. There’s a badge that I could have taken away, except that it didn’t work for me

Now, if I was really good, I could paraphrase this poem in Shakespearian lingo.

I’m not even going to try.

But for all of you people who want to be immortal, I’m thinking of taking commissions for bespoke poetry. See, Old Will wrote several poems to particular women, claiming that his words gave them immortality. To put it in his words (these are the last six lines of his sonnet, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

If you don’t get what he’s talking about, and haven’t already seen my paraphrasing of this poem, this is what he means:

I don’t reckon you’ll ever get old.
or ugly
an’ you’re not goin’ to die
‘cos, like, I’ve written this poem about you
as long as there are people about
They’ll read this poem, so you’ll be, like, alive still.

As you see, I have held fast to the style of the Immortal Bard, but changed a few words to make it clearer.

So that’s about it really. You sling me a few thousand quid and I make you immortal.

Oh, come on, be fair. The Devil’s price is your soul, and then he tricks you out of whatever he promised you. Would I do that?

I reckon it’s a bargain.

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Special Introductory Offer!!!
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2 immortalities for the price of 1!!!
Would Normally Cost
£10,000 sterling for One!!!
But
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Only £10,000 sterling for 2!!!
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2!!!
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*Immortality guarantee is non-transferable. It expires if you die.

Finally, I found another fun tool myself. It quickly finds anagrams for your name. I also has a load of anagrams on the William Shakespeare theme.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Her mother’s daughter

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Option A:

I look around at my colleagues with envy.

“Are you ok,?” Shirley asks, stopping her filing for a moment and looking straight at me.

I nod my head. Blink a tear away. Force a smile. Shirley starts filing again. How can I tell her? How can I find the words to say how I really feel?

I suddenly feel irritated. She would be unlikely to believe me anyway. Her life is so simple. Nothing like this could never happen to clean Shirley, with her squeeky clean Christian parents, her clean shaven, clean living fiance and her sickeningly clean life.

Then there’s Kazza, sitting at the desk which she apologetically insisted upon pushing up against the wall on her first day here, because she thought she was taking up too much space. She’s such a mouse, always trying to make herself invisible, stooping slightly because she’s so embarrassed about her height, constantly apologising for her existence. She should try living with my problems for a while.

I hear Kazza’s chair scrape as she stands, her whispering footsteps, and now she is behind me, a hand on my shoulder, lips close to my ear as she bends her tall, willowy frame. I can feel kindly concern emanating from her in waves, and I guiltily curse myself for having such uncharitable thoughts. What is happening to me?

“You’re finding it tough, aren’t you Sophie? You know you can talk to me any time. It’ll take a while for you to come to terms with what’s happened, but I’ll be here for you if you need me.”

Kazza knows all about my mum. It happened just over a month ago. She launched a viscious physical attack on another inmate at the prison. The woman had somehow managed to fashion a sharp knife, which she drove into my mother’s jugular vein. They told me that my mum died quickly. At first my only feeling was one of relief that it was finally over. She had her retribution.

The following day was Friday, and I went to work as usual. I was able to start making telephoned  arrangements for the funeral; after all, it wasn’t as if I had any interest  in selecting a quality coffin or sitting in the undertakers office discussing special arrangements while tearfully dabbing at my eyes with a wad of soggy tissues.

I explained to Kazza and Shirley that my estranged mother had died, so they wouldn’t wonder what was behind the unusual phone calls. At lunchtime Kazza and I went to the little kitchen where we eat our lunch. Shirley didn’t join us because she was leaving early to travel to a family wedding somewhere in Scotland. Kazza had suggested that although I didn’t realise it, I may be in shock.

I was looking out of the window, feeling strangely blank and distanced from reality, as she told me about how she switched off when she heard about the death of her abusive father, and the grief and shame she felt when it hit her. She was apologising for him; explaining that he hadn’t always been that way – it was only when she hit puberty. He couldn’t help the way he felt and maybe her skirts had been too short, maybe she did inadvertently egg him on…

As she was talking, I saw Shirley walk past the window with her parents. They had come to pick her up in their car, so that they could all travel together. Mr. Clean, the boyfriend, was with her. I suppose what triggered my reaction was a combination of what Kazza was saying and the sight of that carefree family knot outside; suddenly all of the grief and pain and anger and horrible, horrible childhood fear and loneliness exploded through my eyes, nose and mouth.

Through tears and bubbling snot I ranted and screamed. Spittle was flying from my lips, but I didn’t care.

“You can forgive your bastard father if you wish, but I will never forgive my mother. I was there when she raised the butcher’s knife in her left hand. I saw my father’s look of terror as his arms jerked in an effort to protect himself.” I shouted. “I saw the blade sink into my father’s bare chest and the blood that escaped from the hole it left when she pulled it out to stab again. I saw the blood and heard that last gurgle as his life leaked into the carpet. I heard her gleeful laugh as I ran for the door and escaped.”

And now I lay my hand over hers. I lean towards her. I tell her the half-truth that she expects.

“Yes, it has been a shock. I thought my mother could never hurt me again, but she has, and it doesn’t go away.”

I don’t tell her about the phantom night-time visits from my mother when I am trying to sleep, or the way she conjures up the spectre of my gentle father for her grisly theatre. He’s bare chested as he was on that hot summer day, accidentally knocking over a vase of plastic flowers on the table, apologising, apologising, apologising – even though no harm was done, nothing was broken, dirtied or damaged – inciting the rage that caused her to stab him to death. I don’t tell her how I have to hear him apologising over and over, and I can’t stop it. I can’t stop the thing that happens next.

I also omit to mention the blind rages that fly up from nowhere, or of coming out of them in a different place than I was when I became angry. Each time it happens I seem to be gone for longer. I tend to take walks late at night, to put off the time when I must go to bed. Although my mother’s ghost doesn’t visit me every night, there’s no knowing when it will happen, and I dread it. I was out after midnight last night. The streets were empty apart from a drunk, who was lurching along. When he got alongside me he staggered and stumbled against me. He immediately started slurring his apologies, trying to brush my coat down, and saying “There, see? No harm done,” before saying sorry again. I became angry at his constant repetition. Everything else is a blank until the moment when I found myself standing in my bathroom with both taps running, rinsing something off my cuff. I was distressed to discover, later, that I had somehow lost my coat.

I sit in that small room with Kazza. I cut up an apple with a sharp kitchen knife as I talk instead about my memories of my mother during those times when she was well.

Our lunch-hour is over. I pick up the dirty plates and the kitchen knife, and take them to the sink to wash them up. Kazza brings her cup over. She didn’t drink all of her tea, and it’s gone cold. There’s something slippery on the floor, and it causes her to lose her balance for a moment. The liquid flies across the room, splashing my closed handbag. It’s plastic, so it won’t stain. She grabs a cloth, and starts wiping at it, repeatedly telling me how sorry she is, how clumsy. There’s nothing to apologise about, and yet she’s apologising again. I’m beginning to feel angry. It’s all just pointless, maddening noise.

It feels just like that time way back, before they locked me up, when my irritating husband wouldn’t shut up. He just kept on and on about those stupid plastic flowers, while he tried to arrange them properly in the vase, and apologising because he couldn’t make them look the way they did before. I had to kill him. It was the only way to get some peace.

I feel young and rejuvinated. The strength has returned to my fingers. I switch the knife to my left hand, and grip it tighter, and turn towards the tall babbling woman who is wiping at a spotless bag on the floor. It’s good to be back. It will be better still once I’ve silenced her.

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This is my response to this weeks challenge from Esther Newton.

Esther says:

This week I’m going to give you two choices:

Option A: I’ll give you a story opening and the challenge is to continue the story from that point.

Option B: For this choice, I have a story ending for you and your challenge is to write story up to the ending. 

Here is your opening and your ending:

Option A:

I look around at my colleagues with envy.

“Are you ok,?” Shirley asks, stopping her filing for a moment and looking straight at me.

I nod my head. Blink a tear away. Force a smile. Shirley starts filing again. How can I tell her? How can I find the words to say how I really feel?

Option B:

I was wrong. I thought finding a ghost would be exciting and fun. At the very least I thought it would be scary. But it was more than that. So much more.

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I was inspired by Option B, so I used the idea, but I started the story with Option A.

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©Jane Paterson Basil