Friday, May 29, 2015

First Word: Roger Higgins: Lilac

Today we are showcasing guest writer Roger Higgins. Roger lives in Australia, and drops by once a year (or so) to share a Thursday session and some fine words!

In the seven-colour scientific spectrum, lilac doesn’t actually exist. So let’s assume, for the sake of an assumption, that lilac is the collaborative offspring of a honey bee and interior designer of the late Paleolithic era. After all, lilac has been around for quite a while, as a flower and a colour, even though it is not on the colour spectrum officially.
            Lilac appears as highlights on the roof and walls of Chauvet caves in France, where the first evidence of abstract creative art is to be found. The honey bee we can quickly dispense with – a bee is a bee is a bee. It is the interior designer who is really interesting. I suspect he (gotta be a “he”) was not too expert at hunting mammoths or wild cats, as was assigned other tasks as a young man. I believe his name was Gavin.
             Gavin’s job was to manage colour – from the deep red of uncooked mammoth steaks, to the incandescent orange of the fire, the tawny brown of the loin cloths, the blue reflected in small waterholes, all the way to lilac, which he learned not to over-do – just a few streaks around the fingers of the ochre hand print on the wall, and around the eyes of the two-dimensional ox that he drew in the sleeping alcove. Gavin liked lilac, which he saw in the lupines and the delicate namesake flower which grew at the base of the scree slops of the hills that sheltered the encampment.  But the tribe has no use for cut flowers in the cave. Lilac became Gavin’s signature, mixed from some deep purple and white clays in the stream bed to create the colour of the flowers, and to unburden the somber, smoke-stained interiors.  And so interior design theme colours were born, and in some studios in NYC and Paris, there is a style that is immediately recognized by professional designers – it is called the Gavinesque.

(Roger has recently released a new book of Poetry - Surf Sounds.  Surf Sounds is available from lulu and amazon.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Lilac

Lilac, “lila” in Spanish, sounds the same as my mother’s name, “Leila” with an “ei” and definitely not lilac, which is a colour you associate with Miss Marple or lilac-coiffed seniors in Florida wearing sweat pants and sneakers not playing golf. It´s too cool to be a tropical colour, more akin to desert skies or sunsets on mountaintops. So my mother is “Leyla” with a “y” in Chile, conjuring seductive belly-dancer Mata-Hari --calibre images, and she changes personality to suit… . What’s in a name?

            Do people live up or down to their names? Would my children be different had I named them Winston or Cassiopeia, names weighted with expectations? Or the lightness of Sunshine and Ebony? Today’s fashion is for cities of significance to their parents, Chelsea, Sienna, Madison… where does it lead their children? My surname was a weight to carry at school, it made me my father’s daughter and separated me from the herd. I couldn’t wait to change it when I got married. Just my luck to marry in a country where women keep their surnames! I used to doodle at different surnames according to my latest crush to see how they combined with my own Christian name. 
            There was one boy I did like particularly, my cousin’s friend, who used to wait for me under the house on his bike at 12.15 pm precisely (meaning he barely scrambled his own lunch) to catch a glimpse of me as I came down to ride off back to school after lunch, the pretext being that he’d come to accompany my cousin. My heart thumping, I’d put my nose in the air and ride off because it was against the rules to talk to boys while in uniform. I was about 12 or 13 and he was about three or four years older. By the time our secret romance had progressed to marathon telephone calls that jammed the line for hours at a time, he got shipped off to the family’s ancestral state of the Punjab when he turned 18. When I turned 17, I was flown out to London to study Economics. We met again seven years later when we both returned home. By then, we were worlds apart. All because of my name.

Monday, May 25, 2015

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Lilac

Tessa's scarf today is lilac.  And soft green.
            Round dots - polkaspots.
            Tessa adores scarves. I also cherish. Beyond this shared greed for silk and soft, I have absolutely no common ground with lilac. It's a flower totally non-indigenous to anywhere I've lived.  A soft pastel-ish anemic sort of flower - drawn to funerals, scented soap and mid-Victorian heroines who swoon draped over sofas and simper at the small slights. Blame a society that sees 35 pounds and seven layers of clothing as under-dressed, or blame lilac-tinted characters and predisposition to the vapors.            I've never vaporized an emotion into a swoon in my life.  I wear deep purples, turquoise blues, reds that blare in trumpet shouts, latitudes whose colors whoop and rage, stamp their feet and if they weep they pour their grief onto tin roofs until the people below bellow to be heard and cannot think. Sunsets are neon there, and soft lilacs are buried beneath greens that grasp and grow mile-high each night. Lilac sinks gently, missishly, into the leaf mould.  It moulders, weeps its way into insignificance, straight out of the story, unnoticed, unmourned and unmissed.            Tessa's scarf lies warm across her shoulders, wrapping, as to sweetly gather in and tenderly protect, smelling of vapors, closed-tight drawers - and soap

Friday, May 22, 2015

First Word: Ellen Hawkins: Lilac

The scent of lilac is soft and intimate; it lingers without being intrusive.  Its colour, too, insists on being fragile, suggesting weakness or subtlety. Lilac doesn’t wish to call attention to itself; it must be invited to take its place on a lady’s bonnet in an earlier century.
            Today the notion of shy retiring females has retired altogether. Bring on bold pinks, helmets with bling, women’s rugby.  Before the advent of medical imaging, pregnant women were careful to purchase one set of baby clothes in a neutral colour; something that would do to get the infant home from the hospital.  Colour mattered: pink was for girls, blue for boys.  The idea was that the child could be identified in its pram without neighbors and strangers having to say, “Oh, what a pretty…? What it is?” Or the much worse, “What did you have?”
            Does this still happen? Not likely. Modern babies are born with their names.
            “Welcome to the world, Jane,” cries the midwife. “You look like a pale cabbage but no matter, a good wash and you’ll be ready for your public.”
            Jane scowls.  She’s known her name for the past six months.  She knows an intruder when she hears one.  This person has the wrong voice, the wrong hands, the wrong smell. Jane opens her mouth and howls.
            I have a suspicion she’ll hate lilac.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday Prompt: Susan Siddeley: Heat


The butter bothers me; melted and oily,
and morning bedclothes mounded my side.
Seeing the kittens flaked out
plants drooping and the
oh-so-slow swish of horse-tails.

Monday, May 18, 2015

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Maybe

Millicent and Mabel mused and mulled, unable to make up their minds. “Maybe” was all they could mouth, mystified by morose mice, managing masticating mammoths. Millicent and Mabel were in the middle, neither here nor there, on the fence, mired down in a muddy mangle of indecision. Maybe mounds of money might motivate them momentarily. Or –  might not.  Mistakes make for monstrous messes, meaning miles of melting mud pies and molding, mildewed muffins.
            “Just make up your minds,” moaned mealy, milk toast Muppets.
            “Maybe,” murmured Mabel and Millicent, “we’re missing some of our marbles, which has us in a muddle. Give us a moment or a minute or a millipede. With no marbles, mind you, no masterful meanings or mystifications, just mere muffled monkey business, meaningless matters.” Millicent and Mabel motioned to the mystical masterminds of all things: the mongoose, the mule, the mouse and the mole. 
            “Can you help us make up our minds? Or does it matter?” 
            “Weeelll”, they mumbled… “Maybe. Mostly it’s a matter of “may we” or “mayn’t we.  It all depends.” 
            “Depends on what?” 
            “On your mood at the moment….or maybe upon the import of the matter. May we inquire as to the nature of the matter?” 
            “What matter?” 
            “The matter on your minds.” 
            “Our missing marbles?” 
            “My, My!” said the malodorous mongoose. “M-m-missing marbles? They might c-c-cause multifarious mefuddlebent and misinterpretations. The misplaced m-m-marbles must be colated-located before making up your m-m-minds.” 
            “Masterful! Our thinking all along. “Maybe” is the most mellifluous maneuver for the matter on our minds,” mewed Mabel and Millicent. 
            “Besides, what does it matter?”

Friday, May 15, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: The Mic-Mac Song

Thoughts on The Mic Mac Song

(this week we listened to a piece of music.  When it was over, we had to write a piece expressing the way the music had made us feel.)

The exuberant tone of the song is evident – perhaps the community is celebrating its braves home triumphant from the hunt with enough capture to survive the long winter.
            Tribes speak the same language, sing the same song with others who know and understand, with all the richness of historical context.
            My tribe is scattered worldwide, as are many peoples’ nowadays, and it becomes more of an effort as time passes to keep the connections going. It´s like the ageing process when the body decides it’s done this one long enough or the synapses get  worn down. My mother commented that in her day there was never any of the modern searching for genetic inheritance or investigating the source of one’s traits – a bit like the famous sites around you that you never get around to visiting because they are right there: if your tribe is all around you, there is no need to encapsulate the obvious. It is when you feel the danger of being assimilated that you hang on to your distinctiveness. I recognise that my need for knowing where certain traits in my generations come from stems from my alarm bells that want to stamp out any tendencies towards wanderlust, irresponsibility, defying the established status quo, disrespect for differences and all the other non-social skills that lead to anarchy and that come from being orphaned from your tribe too young. I was once told that a Jesuit education bred leaders as opposed to the British public school model which churned out establishment clones. This battle between individualism/borderline Narcissism and social justice and equality for all is the age-old one. I see it in my children, I see it in the thunderclouds of paradigm-shift -  in the Middle East, in the social media revolutions… When you lose your tribe, your identity has no anchor until you can replace the one with another.