Archive for » October, 2012 «

Halloween: the good, the bad and the ugly

Yes folks, it’s halloween today. The one major holiday in the UK I don’t really celibrate. Now don’t get me wrong, I like an excuse to eat chocolate but this celebration just doesn’t sit right with me.

The good

There are some good things that come from people celebrating Halloween so I thought I would start with those. Firstly, there’s the giving of chocolate and other sweets. I think this is pretty cool. It’s one of those times of year people are actually willing to open their doors to potential strangers and give them something nice.

Secondly, it encourages people to get to know their neighbours a bit. Kids go around, often accompanied by their parents, and knock on the doors down their streets. In a day and age where people keep more and more to themselves it’s quite nice to see people talking, even if only for a moment.

The Bad

This event is actually based on the All Hallow’s Eve celebration. Basically a night of the year when all the demons, ghosts and other nasty spiritual things are supposedly getting a last evening to get vengeance on anyone they wish before All Saints day when they get moved on from this earth to wherever they are actually meant to be. If that’s not something you believe in then I can see that not being a problem for you, but if you do have some belief in the more spiritual side of things, is it really wise to be celebrating this?

Also Halloween has moved on from this to other things. It’s become tradition to watch horror films, tell ghost stories and generally try and make people feel scared. I’m all for people understanding death and the consequences of it but I think horror movies and the like take that too far.

I also think the trick aspect of halloween can go too far, especially if teenagers are involved. People’s houses get egged and sometimes people themselves and that’s considered one of the more minor tricks. Admittedly this only seems to happen in certain places.

The Ugly

My final dislike of Halloween is the costumes. It’s normal for people to dress up as some pretty nasty things, from goblins, ghosts and other monsters plus things like witches and wizards, the uglier the better. Originally people wore masks on Halloween to hide themselves from the things lurking to possibly get vengeance on them, not to pretend to be the ones getting vengeance!

Essentially it’s an evening that appears to reward kids, with sweets, for pretending to be evil and I just don’t like that as a concept.

I much prefer the idea I heard of a few years ago of kids having a superhero party. Instead of dressing up as something unpleasant, all the kids dressed up as their favourite characters from films and books. The guys that keep us safe from evil. Not only does it fit better with the original idea of the evening, it’s a much lighter way for people to have fun.

 

Ice Age 4: A Review

Ice age 4: Continental drift is the next one in the series. Not that there is really that much ice left but science isn’t really the strong point of this series anyway.

The third one of the set was my favourite so far and unfortunately I didn’t think this one was quite as good. Now don’t get me wrong. I laughed my head off at various points, especially when those little creatures you see riding on manny’s back appeared. They were pure awesomeness.

I also really liked the cast. They had the actor who plays both Tyrion Lannister in game of thrones and Trumpkin in Prince Caspian as Captain Gut, Peter Dinklage, and he’s fast becoming a favourite actor of mine.

On top of that there is Wanda sykes, who also plays they skunk in over the hedge. She’s Sid’s granny in this and does a perfect job. And I can’t forget Nick Frost, J Lo and Seann William Scott.

The plot was frankly ridiculous and one more step far fetched than even ice age 3 was but it didn’t seem to matter. It was funny and funny was what they were aiming for.

I have absolutely no idea how they would follow it up with another film but I thought the same thing after the second and third so I’m not going to say it’s impossible. The film will definitely be added to my to buy list and if they do somehow make a fifth I’ll be going to see it at the cinema for sure.

Artistic creativity vs logical creativity

This is one of those subjects I’ve debated several times in person and one that was struck up by some friends recently on twitter. I chose not to really get involved on twitter as I hate debating on such a limited social network but I am not great at leaving this topic of conversation alone.

From what I can gather the rough comment that sparked the debate was – Logical people can be creative, but it’s creativity within logic. Creatives can be creative outside this.

I mostly agree with this statement although the outside this is a little ambiguous and does imply a lesser creativity is harnessed by logic to the creativity harnessed by artistic means. That part I don’t agree with. Both are important and needed in life.

Let’s start with the fundamanetal of what a person does whether aristic or logical, making a song or writing code. Both types of people are taking a blank canvas of some kind and are filling it. They are taking nothing and turning it into something, therefore on the basic level something has definitely been created!

The biggest difference is why they are doing so. A logical person probably has some kind of job (or is studying for one) that involves taking a problem, like how to stop all the harmful gas in a mine being leaked into the air or how can we make a more efficient car that runs more cheaply for an average family. There is a problem and solving it provides some kind of gain to our way of life, preserving the planet, saving us money, saving lives etc.

An artistic person can create for a much wider set of reasons (not necessarily more or less important). They might feel hurt and wish to create something that comforts others in similar situations, they might feel it necessary to challenge a particular worldview or opinion to ensure humanity doesn’t go down a dark path. They might not even know why they are creating but feel the need to do so anyway and express what’s inside them in the hope to gain clarity.

Notice in the logical examples it is some kind of physical need, in the artisitc examples it is all centered around feelings, emotions and morals.¬† This is what is drawn on to create our new thing, whatever it is. An artist often draws on the emotional side of things to create, often creating their best work when they have freely explored that emotion, often in a very unlogical way (the brain often just dredges up all the associated experiences they’ve ever had that relate in no logical order).

A logical person sometimes has a brief of what their project has to do and they set about thinking through how that is going to be solved. Often the process going on in their brain is as subconscious as the process going on in an artistically creative’s brain. They are trying to come up with the best solution to the problem but often their emotions are unengaged. My husband frequently tells me that he can’t code and think about coding while angry or even happy. He has to focus on something that is neither of those and similar to the process of solving a sudoku he goes through a bunch of logical steps (drawing on previous knowledge and understanding often subconsciously) to solve the task.

Then comes the editing side of things, A coder checks for bugs and might tweak code to make it more simplistic – the aim is an elegant coding that solves every part of the initial problem. Again another rather logical process. It’s not a fun stage of things. It requires being critical and deliberately looking for flaws.

A songwriter tweaks odd words, and checks for jarring notes – the aim is a graceful piece of music and lyrics that conveys the message it’s meant to. It can seem more logical. It is when all the technique and knowledge is applied but it’s still done from an emotional position. If a word can be changed because the new word conveys more of the emotion intended it is. Words have meaning which goes beyond face value. They drudge up memories, thoughts and associations that the artistically creative draw upon. The same with colours, textures and visual effects. This can often be a painful process for the artistic. They are looking at the creation that has often come from a very vulnerable emotional part of them and they are examining it critically for flaws.

The wonderful part is both logical creativity and aristic creativity brings satisfaction to the creator once it is complete. Both have strived for beauty and elegance in what they have created and both get the same sense of achievement when they manage it, they have simply done so by drawing on different states of mind. One the logical need to solve a problem, the other the emotional need to solve what is also considered a problem of some sort. The problems are just set by different things physical needs or emotional/moral needs.

It also comes intuitively. Neither task requires the problem solver to tell their brain which method of creativity to use. I’ve never had to sit down with a sudoku and tell my brain to turn off it’s emotions and just apply the logical things it’s learnt. It knows to do that. Likewise I never have to sit down to write a poem and tell my brain to focus on the relevant emotion. It knows to do that.

Most of the time we find ourselves better at one of these processes than the other, either drawing on our emotions or the logical knowledge we’ve picked up during our life. They both come with their stereotypes. The mad scientist who forgets everything but the speed of light and spends hours studying light’s properties but ten seconds putting their clothes on and the artistic person who doesn’t care if they’ve eaten as long as they’ve made the world think about the importance of love.

Different but both important and, in their own ways, both beautiful.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 28

Sherdan sat in his chair at the command centre. He thought everything was going well, if a little slower than he’d like. He watched the screens at the end of the room as he usually did. It didn’t give anyway near as much information as he wanted but for now it was the best they had.

As the guards were busy, Sherdan didn’t want to interrupt and slow them down. He tapped his fingers impatiently and let his thoughts drift to Anya. She’d repeatedly requested his company then hardly said more than a sentence to him at a time.

He drifted in and out of his thoughts while watching over the developments of the day. Several times Graham interrupted his daydreams just as they were drifting to his imaginings of getting Anya into his bed. She was an attractive young woman and occasionally he really could not help thinking of her like that.

His command room wasn’t the best place to be thinking those thoughts, however, so he made more of an effort to steer his mind back to his work when he had been interrupted for the third time. He thought of all the weird things that had happened since she arrived instead, and what it might mean.

The first time anything weird had happened in his life was back when he’d known Sandy and Professor Carmichael. Then he had put it down to science that was yet unexplained but now he found himself wondering if he had been too closed to possibilities. So many more weird things had happened since Anya had arrived that he wondered if he had to rethink his earlier interpretation of those two as well.

Graham soon interrupted his brain’s meanderings on that score too. There was work to monitor and, even though Sherdan was doing very little, his opinion was needed on most of the decisions.

The day was long but Sherdan went home satisfied. Everyone who needed to had left. The three students who hadn’t been in their house when the evacuation had started had turned up at about three in the afternoon.

Sherdan had managed to have them moved into the area as another family were leaving. Interestingly all three of them had requested to join the program rather than be kicked out. They were studying graphic design at Bristol’s second university: the University of the West of England.

It made Sherdan stop and think for a bit before he gave an answer. They reminded him of Anya, especially when they said they were studying something artistic. As the after-effect every thought of Anya had, he found himself feeling more compassionate and he eventually said yes to their request.

When he got home it was almost four in the morning. He was glad that none of the new residents were arriving until the following afternoon. He checked in on Anya on his way to his room. She didn’t look peaceful at all.

Her face poured with sweat and she was curled up on her side with her knees drawn up against her chest. She gritted her teeth, evidently in pain. Sherdan rushed over to her to wake her up.

“Anya, you’re having a nightmare.”

She sat up with a jump, disorientated. He perched on the edge of the bed as she started crying into her hands. She didn’t look at him or even acknowledge he was there. After a moment’s hesitation he sat beside her, put his arms around her and pulled her into a hug.

“It was just a bad dream, you’re safe now,” he whispered. She sobbed against his chest as he stroked her hair. He waited for her to stop and calm down while he enjoyed having her so close to him, although the reason behind it pained him greatly. He’d never felt anything so bitter-sweet.

As her crying ceased she pulled away. She seemed ashamed to be seen and neatened her hair with her hands.

“Is it more nightmares about what happened?” he asked. She nodded. “It won’t ever happen again, I promise. You really are safe now.”

Sherdan tried to look her in the eyes to reassure her but she wouldn’t meet his gaze. He knew she didn’t really believe him.

“I wouldn’t have allowed it had I known you like I do now. Had I known how important you are.”

“I’m only important to you because of Hitchin and I don’t believe he’s right. I definitely don’t like the way he talks about me.” Sherdan looked away. He didn’t want yet another argument. “I’m sorry, I just don’t believe you, but thank you for waking me and checking I was okay.”

“You’re welcome. I don’t like to see you upset. I mean that.”

“I don’t hate you for what happened but I’m not sure I belong here.”

“I’ve told you that you’re free to go.”

“Would I be free to go if I wasn’t able to walk out without you stopping me?” she asked. He paused and looked away, seriously considering his answer.

“If I knew you weren’t happy here then, yes, I think you would, even if it made me sad doing so.” He looked deep into her eyes as he replied, hoping she would believe him. She smiled but looked away.

“There’s no way to know for sure now.”

“I’ll let you rest,” he replied and got up. The divide between them was so large sometimes he doubted even Hitchin could be right. He made a mental note to run the vision by Hitchin again and check that he had interpreted it right.

When Sherdan’s alarm went off at seven, he immediately turned it off and rolled over, falling fast asleep again. Less than three hours sleep was just not enough. Anya woke him at nine, her concerned face was the first thing to come into focus properly.

“You overslept,” she said as if it explained why she was in his bedroom with nothing but some flimsy pyjamas on. He smiled at her.

“I’m not sure I mind if you’re what I wake up to.” She blushed and went to leave. “How did you sleep after I left you?”

“Well… Thank you.” Anya left but before he could follow Graham called for his attention on the radio. He didn’t sound happy. Sherdan assumed he had called several times and it had woken Anya too.

“I’ll be right there. Give me a few more minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” came the relieved reply. Sherdan sighed. He had so much work and all he really wanted to do was spend time with Anya before it was too late and she left.

He said goodbye to his distant companion and walked out of his house. Breakfast would have to wait.

A few last minutes preparations were needed before he could go meet the new arrivals. The new recruits were joining today, despite government warnings to stay away, and threats of arrest for anyone seen with Sherdan. Therefore, he felt it necessary to go meet them all and escort them personally into their new country.

His commander fidgeted while Sherdan ran through some of the day’s plans. Sherdan was intending to leave him in charge of the country while he was gone and he had already expressed concern over it.

“Are you sure this is wise?” Graham asked half an hour later.

“Of course. It shall be fine.”

“Last time was a close thing sir. I’d hate for you to get caught.”

“I won’t. I’ll have a team with me.” Sherdan left the command room before Graham could say anything else.

He went straight back to his house and into his car. His chauffeur drove him through his usual tunnel and out into what was now a separate country. The driver travelled all the way to Bath and dropped Sherdan off at the Bath Pavilion.

On entering the building he was snuck behind the scenes before any of the people milling about noticed him. There weren’t many there yet but there would be. They’d all been invited elsewhere and were being brought here by his own people to make sure the British Government didn’t know anything about it.

Sherdan stood on the other side of the curtain, watching the people gather. It took almost half an hour and everyone was served drinks while they waited. There weren’t quite as many as had been invited but that was to be expected. The way things had gone the last few weeks he understood that the Prime Ministers ramblings would have put some of them off.

He had to wait for almost an hour until one of his team came up and said everyone who intended to come had arrived. Sherdan allowed everyone a few minutes longer to come through to find seats and drinks.

When he stepped through the curtain silence immediately fell and every eye fixed on him. He smiled and walked right to the centre. Every little fidget and awkward cough could be heard by Sherdan as well as every one of his deliberate footfalls.

“Good afternoon everyone. I sincerely thank you all for travelling here, many of you a very long way. It means a lot to me and my residents that you all wish to join us, despite the slander and lies being spread.” Sherdan smiled and paused as he looked around at all the eager faces. They trusted him to give them a better life than one the current government had given them. They wanted change; something different. His heart swelled. He could give it to them.

“As you are aware, it is currently not very easy to access your new home, Utopia. We’ll all be leaving here very shortly to head there. You will all need to move quickly and efficiently and go where you’re asked. Of course, for anyone still unsure about joining, now is the time to say so. It is quite possibly a one way trip.”

Sherdan smiled again and jumped down from the front of the stage as the first wave of applause broke out. People soon began to come up to talk to him but he simply encouraged them to follow.

He walked to the front door with a wave of people like he was a prophet leading his followers, and got into the stretch limo which pulled up outside. The few people right behind hesitated before the chauffeur waved them into the car. The first seven followed Sherdan and sat down around him.

The second the car started he struck up a conversation with his fellow passengers. First impressions were so important. He was treated as a celebrity at first. All of his companions were shy and nervous but he soon put them at ease.

They were understandingly apprehensive about the journey and what would happen to them, but Sherdan did everything he could to reassure them that they would be okay. There was safety in numbers and they were adding significant numbers that day. Over one thousand.

Sherdan put all their fears to rest in the hour journey that ensued. They had all been driven north to a small, private, disused railway station. Today, however, the station was very much active and used. A magnificent steam train stood puffing a great plume of smoke into the otherwise quiet air.

There were murmurings amongst the arrivals as they saw the train. Many long, luxurious carriages had been attached to the steamer. Each carriage had wine and nibbles aboard as well as very comfortable seats.

The passengers soon came flowing aboard and Sherdan alighted in no particular hurry. It would take a few moments for all the cars to arrive and everyone to be seated.

A hostess service was already on board, passing people drinks and encouraging them to be seated until the train started moving.

As each carriage filled up, Sherdan moved through, greeting people, shaking hands and making small talk. Many of them had relaxed, finally feeling safe and taken care of. Sherdan was thanked repeatedly for being there despite the risk of capture.

He smiled as the train started moving and their journey to Utopia began. There was a railway station in Bristol which had a back entrance leading into Utopia. The army checked each train carriage as well as the people exiting the front of the station but they couldn’t get past the platform to the rear entrance thanks to Sherdan’s emitters.

With the train being a privately owned vehicle, and only registered to pause there for a moment to let another train go past, no one would even expect people to be arriving on the train.

Sherdan had only moved a third of the way through the people when the train began to move. From that point people got out of their seats and started milling around. He soon found himself surrounded.

“What’s it like, running a country?” a bright-eyed young woman asked him.

“Difficult. There are lots of rules, and people to keep happy, but it’s rewarding. Every day I get to see my decisions making a positive difference to my citizens.” Sherdan smiled. It was just the kind of question he’d been hoping someone would ask.

“You actually think it makes a difference?” a man in his fifties piped up.

“Of course. I can see the difference in my residents already. They’re happier now they have a greater sense of purpose, coupled with the security I can provide.

“This security, you’ve obviously got some fancy new technology. What is it?”

“It’s true we do possess some equipment the rest of the world doesn’t own yet. I probably shouldn’t go into too many details right now as it will be covered in your information seminars tomorrow.”

Several looks of awe spread over the faces of the people listening at this latest answer. He thought he’d get a reaction from this but it was even better than he had hoped.

“Without giving too much away, it was developed right here in the heart of my little country by a man not too dissimilar from yourself, Mr Jameson. A man who thought the best of life had passed him by.”

Mr Jameson smiled and shook Sherdan’s hand. Everyone murmured amongst themselves as Sherdan moved on down the carriage to some fresh faces and new questions.

He could hardly wait until he was back in his country with all the new residents. They would have quite an impact on the United Nations in persuading them to recognise Utopia as a new country.

On top of all the immediate benefits, there were also all the new abilities the people would gain. The smiling, excited people around him would soon become eager workers and helpers, making his country stronger and taking them closer to the end target.

The train journey flew by as Sherdan talked with all the people around him. Many were similar ages to him. People who’d had jobs their whole lives and got no where in life. He’d given them so much hope and they were grateful for it.

Eminent Domain: A Review

This is the next book in the series by Traci Hilton and follows on from Foreclosed which I reviewed a while back.

It follows on pretty much where the previous left off and follows Mitzy in her life as a real estate agent and what happens to the house she had acquired at the end of the last one, as well as the man.

I really liked the first book and thought it couldn’t get much better but somehow it did and I like this one even more. Mitzy was perfect and her fella, Alonso was pretty awesome too. The chemistry between them was great and there were some really funny moments with spoons. Often it’s the simple things that are great.

Unfortunately there was no direct mention of the puppy from the first book and what had happened to it, although I know it was only borrowed. It was one of my favourite characters, however.

The plot was good and actually kept me guessing this time although I wanted to tell Mitzy off at a couple of points when she wasn’t paying attention to what I thought were obvious clues and issues.

All in all I really think people should check out this series and I’ve already picked up the third to review soon.

Balancing Mercy and Justice

This has been brought up a lot recently in my life and it has made me think a lot about whether I am any good at getting this balance right.

Unfortunately I really don’t think I am. I often find myself saying that justice is important and we should all face the consequences of our actions but when it comes to situations where I have been wronged I’m actually most likely to say, ‘that’s okay, it happens, don’t worry about it’ etc. Sometimes though, it’s not okay and it shouldn’t happen. I am often far too merciful because I think it’s the nice thing to do.

I also think I get mercy and forgiveness confused sometimes. I think I’m being forgiving when I just let go of a screw up and don’t get angry or anything but actually, you can forgive someone yet still not trust them in the same area again and allow the lack of trust in that area to be noticed.

Nelson Mandella said the most merciful thing that happened to him was being put in prison, yet we often think that’s not merciful at all. Sometimes when I’ve screwed up it’s the consequences of that screw up, a lost friendship or a lost privelidge etc that helped me to realise how important it was that I didn’t do that thing again. If I hadn’t been made to live through the consequences I’m not sure I’d have learnt that lesson and I’d still be making those mistakes now. In short, if people had just been ‘nice’ and not sought some kind of justice then I’d never have received the mercy of learning and becoming a better person and getting second chances that I am much less likely to muck up.

Mercy and Justice don’t just stop there, however but I’d like to focus on Justice for now (I think we’re already fairly good at being merciful). Justice isn’t a passive word, just like mercy isn’t. Trying to fight for justice is an act. When we see unjust things happening around us, from small things like seeing someone shoplift to the huge things like modern day slavery we are meant to do something about it. If you see someone stealing, at the very least, you should tell a store worker. Doing nothing makes you just as bad as the thief.

All it takes for evil to triumpth, is for good men to do nothing – First film adaptation of ‘War and Peace’

Justice requires us to act when we see something unjust happen or know that it’s happening. We all have a voice in one form or another and should be using it even when we feel that there’s little we can do against such a large injustice we have to act. Changing the world starts with small acts just like I mentioned in my earlier blog here

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: A Review

I got to see this at the cinema, yay! (I much prefer seeing films at the cinema even if it is far too expensive without Orange Wednesdays)

Ignoring the horrible green wall colour in the background here are the amazingly stunning cast of this film. It’s based on a book by the same guy who wrote and directed the film. That’s right people, he wrote a book and about ten years later managed to get it made into a film after he, himself, had written the script. I was already well disposed to like this film from that fact alone. I love these kinds of people.

I’d not read the book but watched the trailor the day before the film just to make sure I had some idea of what the film was about. Mostly the trailor implied teenage right of passage style stuff about a guy who really wasn’t good at making friends. There was no hint at the real sadness and deepness to what actually happened in the film. This film touched on some really deep issues and did a very good job of showing the after effects of shildhood trauma.

There were some great comedic moments and although this was more of a teenage film I still felt young and crazy enough to really get into the mindset of the main characters. They lived life for every special moment and I still try to do that. My favourite line from the film is ‘Let’s go be psychos together’.

I think the film was a little too understated on what had gone wrong in Charlie’s life before meeting his new friends as it never even came out right and said what had happened to Charlie when he was young, although it hinted at it a heck of a lot. I almost wish it had come out and said it. I think it would have had more dramatic effect on the audience but either way this film really tugged the emotions in many different directions. At times I was laughing my head off and other times fighting back tears.

I really hope I can add this film to my collection.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 27

Nathan was just the right man to head the first few hours of the day’s plans. He had joined the security teams on the ground as soon as he’d finished another night shift at the main house. He was tired but knew Sherdan had entrusted him with an important mission. People would need to be kept calm and the guards would need to be as polite as possible.

Nathan had an advantage none of the others had. He could tell what people were thinking. He could also project his own thoughts into someone else’s head as if he had said something to them. The first of these two abilities was perfect for pre-empting peoples reactions to being asked to leave.

As soon as his usual guard shift was over he reported to the guard house nearest the strike area. There a team waited for him.

“Right men, we need to be polite but efficient. We’re representing this country on one of its first diplomatic missions and we want to give a good impression.” Nathan smiled at his men. Everyone filed out to do their duty.

Eight men had backpacks on. The army wouldn’t realise they carried emitters for the shields and barriers in them. The soldiers would be pushed back as the guards advanced.

The eight fanned out along the perimeter side that was being expanded and began walking towards the edge. Nathan kept everyone else close behind.

They were careful to miss the housing, walking between them so the emitters didn’t reach any further than the brick walls of each house, so they would just push back the army. They wanted the people within their houses to continue sleeping.

A few rows of houses near the compound had already been evacuated by the army when they had first arrived. This only made Nathan’s job easier. They would be readily available for any new residents.

In the cover of night, the guards advanced on the resting soldiers. They soon shrunk back, feeling the affects of the moving barriers. The retreat was a shambles as the men rushed to get away from the unseen advancing walls.

Nathan smiled as his team took over the British barricade and abandoned defences. Everything was running smoothly and only the odd barking of a dog in the distance showed their progress had been noticed by anything other than the army.

Sherdan urged Nathan on from the command bunker, evidently excited. He in turn encouraged his own men forward.

After an hour had passed the entire targeted area was under their control. Each guard with a backpack was stationed to form a new perimeter, keeping all the soon-to-be refugees within the area and the army out.

As soon as everything was secure and just how he wished it Nathan led his security team to the first few houses. He split the groups into four and had them knock on the nearest doors. He waited and watched from a central location.

He concentrated hard on listening to each conversation as the doors were opened. The first was a little girl who had beaten her parents out of bed. She ran to fetch them, evidently a little scared.

The second door revealed an older mother. She had two teenage sons. The pair of men at her door launched into their rehearsed speech about who they were and why they were here. She started crying which finally attracted the attention of her children.

Nathan projected instructions to the guards on how to handle the situation, reminding them to stay calm and as non-threatening as possible. They asked the worried mother if she had anyone the family could go and stay with, until her insurance paid out. She nodded, brightening at the thought of insurance covering the financial side of things.

There was a possibility the evacuee’s insurance wouldn’t cover the house against being taken like this but that wasn’t a problem Nathan could address. He just had to get them all to leave as quickly as they could.

The third people to answer were equally amicable. They had been expecting to be moved from their houses anyway and were already partly packed. The three University girls went to sort their remaining possessions and phone their already worried parents to let them know they’d be coming home very soon.

Nathan had the groups that were done move on to the next houses. So far so good.

“Two houses packing. Only two hundred or so to go,” he said into his radio, reporting to Sherdan.

“Thank you Nathan. We’ll need to pick up the pace to get them all out by nightfall,” came the reply.

“Yes sir. I suggest sending in the extra men. We’ll need some help. There’s quite a few young children.” Nathan waited, listening to the parents at the first door. The father was trying to argue with the guards.

“They’re on their way. Give me a report in half an hour.” Sherdan’s voice commanded.

“Yes sir,” Nathan replied, only half listening.

“Tell them they have until midnight tonight to be packed and ready to go or they’ll be removed without their possessions, with force if necessary,” he sent into the head of the guard. He soon heard the guard repeat it to the irate father. The soldiers walked away to the next door before any more could be said.

The father contemplated following but his wife tugged on his arm and instead they retreated inside. Nathan sighed with relief. He wanted this to go well.

As the sky grew lighter, and each successive door was knocked on, Nathan grew more and more tired. Each new house presented a fresh reaction and with the extra security there were eight to concentrate on at a time. The remaining guards did useful things, like taking the people crates to pack into.

The single mother even made use of one of the male guards to help her load her car with the packed boxes as they were done with.

An argument soon broke out when an old lady, living alone, tried to go around to a friends house and tell her what was happening instead of packing her own things. Nathan sent a more mature female guard over to explain to the resident why she had to go back to her own house.

He lingered nearby as he listened to their conversation. The poor old woman had been very intimidated by the men and their uniform. Sending another woman to deal with the situation did the trick and she soon allowed herself to be walked back to her house.

“Make sure Annie hears it from you and not one of these big oafs. She’s a nervous one. They’ll scare her,” the old woman added. Nathan smiled when his guard assured her that her request would be granted.

“Well done,” he whispered into the guards head before switching his focus elsewhere.

Three hours later, just over a third of the residents had been informed and other than one house everyone was packing and sorting through their possessions. The army had tried to get into the area a couple of times but hadn’t succeeded. Nathan had a headache and knew he couldn’t keep using his ability much longer.

“Stay another hour if you can manage it. Use your power sparingly,” Sherdan requested. Nathan did as he was told, hoping the hour would pass without mishap. He only had to make it to half ten and he would be relieved from duty.

The occupants of the house currently troubling them did not seem to be there. Nathan’s men knocked on the hour three times before he gave the order to knock the door down. No one was inside but the house look lived in.

“Sherdan, we’ve got a house with no occupant. If the fridge and laundry is anything to go by there should be,” Nathan radioed.

“What number is it?”

“Thirty-seven.”

“Okay, we’ll check the address. Leave it alone for now.”

Nathan sighed. This job wasn’t easy and his headache only got worse as the hour progressed.

The first person to lash out at a guard did so with only ten minutes of the hour to go. Nathan rushed over to the scene as did a few other guards.

The man had punched the soldier when he’d been informed of the ultimatum. Thankfully the guards soon had him restrained and sat down. Other than the blood flowing from the guard’s nose there was no harm done.

Nathan had the two men separated, just in case tempers flared, removing the guard from duty to get himself checked out. He thought it better to be careful where this kind of thing was concerned.

“I’m sorry that today’s news has upset you.”

“Too right it has. You’ve got no right ter take our houses,” the middle aged man replied.

“Sherdan warned the British government that he would do this if they attacked.”

“That don’t make it right!”

“No, but it’s our only way of retaliating without risking civilian deaths. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

“We’re gettin’ hurt though. You’re takin’ our houses.”

“We wouldn’t be doing it if we could think of a better option.” The man hung his head. The fight had gone out of him. Nathan felt sorry for the man but he had a job to do. “You should find somewhere to go for the meantime and then enquire about your insurance if you own the house.”

He received a nod in response but that was it. He had the guards let the guy go and everyone backed off to give him time to think.

Nathan, very thankfully, finished his shift. Sherdan sent another guard to take over from him and he didn’t waste time, leaving to turn towards his own home. He lived in a small house not too far from Sherdan’s, in case he was needed.

The walk back didn’t take long and he was soon climbing the stairs to his room. He removed his uniform and climbed into bed. It was gone one in the afternoon so he would have less than five hours before he would need to be up for guard duty in Sherdan’s house. Before he settled down to sleep he reached into the top drawer of his bedside cabinet and pulled out his Bible.

Talented: A Review

I picked this book up on goodreads free in exchange for a review. This is a sci-fi/ fantasy book with a bit of mystery/thriller thrown in for good measure by Sophie Davis.

I really liked the main character of this book, Talia. She was a tough chick and perfectly kick-ass. I also thought the plot was great and was sucked into the book from the beginning, making it very hard to put the book down. The author really knew her characters and did a good job of getting them across.

I’d have said¬† it was a perfect adventure story if it wasn’t for the need of a seriously good proof read. The amount of missing words in sentences and odd places where words like ‘that’ and ‘it’s’ appeared where they shouldn’t be often making a sentence entirely nonsensical was a great put off. On top of that there would often be words with the wrong tense ending or an s missed off for a plural, coupled with my pet peeve the s’s at the end of a possesive name that normally ends in s when it should have been s’ at the end instead. When people say Jess’s house for example it should actually be Jess’ house. Because there is an s before the apostrophe it doesn’t need one after.

Unfortunately it meant I just couldn’t get fully absorbed into the story.

Read all about it: The song that stopped me working.

Emeli Sande sang this song at the olympic closing ceremony and until then I’d never heard it but one day when I was about to get into writing I decided to play the song and have a listen. I was looking for a bit of inspiration to write. Unfortunately it actually had the opposite effect.

Here’s a link to the song on youtube and the lyrics:

You’ve got the words to change a nation
but you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?
So come, on come on
Come on, come on
You’ve got a heart as loud as lions
So why let your voice be tamed?
Baby we’re a little different
there’s no need to be ashamed
You’ve got the light to fight the shadows
so stop hiding it away
Come on, Come on

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream till the words dry out
so put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
they can read all about it
read all about it oh

At night we’re waking up the neighbours
while we sing away the blues
making sure that we remember yeah
cause we all matter too
if the truth has been forbidden
then we’re breaking all the rules
so come on, come on
come on, come on,
lets get the tv and the radio
to play our tune again
its ’bout time we got some airplay of our version of events
there’s no need to be afraid
I will sing with you my friend
Come on, come on

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream till the words dry out
so put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
they can read all about it
read all about it oh

Yeah we’re all wonderful, wonderful people
so when did we all get so fearful?
Now we’re finally finding our voices
so take a chance, come help me sing this
Yeah we’re all wonderful, wonderful people
so when did we all get so fearful?
and now we’re finally finding our voices
so take a chance, come help me sing this

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream till the words dry out
so put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
they can read all about it
read all about it oh

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream till the words dry out
so put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
they can read all about it
read all about it oh.

It’s rare I hear a song and wish I’d written the lyrics but this is one of those. It sums up a lot of how I feel and have felt over the last year or so. I’m an ambitious person, I always have been. Mostly it’s come from knowing I was a miracle child, I’ve always felt I must be here for a good reason but I also love inspiring other people. In short, I want to change the world, and that’s no small task.

The written word is something I’ve always loved, but when it comes to seeing the difference it makes to peoples lives it’s the hardest to judge. With live performances and art galleries you are there to see people’s reactions to your work, but with a book or a poem, unless they tell you what they thought, you can’t see the impact it’s had.

It’s days like this I feel torn between the arts. I want to know I’m making a difference and singing and films move me just as much as, if not more than, books do. I guess I really want to do all three but it takes a long time to build a career in one let alone all of them so I feel like I have to choose.

Either way I guess I’m not going to get much work done today.