Pretty Black & White

Alex is a perfectionist. Always searching for that dream shot that will grace the cover of a magazine like National Geographic and secure her place with the best in the business. It’s going to be today as she sets out with all the gear she needs. Just a few essentials in a day pack and maybe one or two tricks in the side pockets.

The adrenalin and the mountain air make here feel a little light headed. She has worked out the perfect spot and she’s closing in on it. It is taking longer than she expected though and she’s beginning to wish she had brought more food. Maybe a bigger water bottle. That would have just made her pack heavier, surely.

The wind is picking up and the temperature is starting to drop a little. She’d read that that can happen here but it is only Autumn so she should be fine. The slow swirling  cloud and low sun provide just the drama she is looking for and she’s happy with the results. At last.

As she starts to head back down, that low sun starts to rapidly disappear behind the mountains. It is cold now and her rain jacket provides little protection against the biting wind. The rocks on the way down seem harder to navigate than on the way up, especially with the wrong footwear. She slips more than once and starts to panic when she rolls her ankle on a tree root.

What she would give right now to be able to walk in a straight line without wincing every time she plants her foot on the ground. Tears come amid spots of rain as she thumps herself down on a grass bank.

Was it worth it she muses ? Unlike her shots she is seriously over exposed and if she needs rescuing it will come with a good telling off. Rescue ? She’s not told anyone she’s here and her phone has no connection. She considers the worst.

Alex is 7 and wants to be a photographer, like her Dad. He never goes unprepared, she thinks to herself. Alex smiles as she turns away from the Ansel Adams in the hallway.

©   Ash Cheyne 2017

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Exposed

 

 

 

Surf Angel

I am standing in knee high water, between the flags, talking to Adam. He points out to me that the sea bed not far from where we stand, falls sharply like a cliff. Despite Adam being a marine biologist, I am sceptical so I point my toe out to test his assertion.

Suddenly Adam is very small and the beach seems miles away. I swim a little and get dragged out by the rip a bit more. My mouth fills with salty water and my breathing gets harder. I wave my arms desperately but that only serves to drag me under.

I didn’t think it would be like this. Without warning and on my birthday too. The others will be upset and the party will probably be cancelled. I feel strangely guilty about that but decide I should depart with dignity.

I float for a bit and it feels oddly relaxing; my last couple of minutes. Then as if to disturb my peace a surfer with blonde dreadlocks parks up next to me and asks if I need a ride. I hang on to his board and we wait for a big wave to push us in to shore.

As we face each other in the shallows, he tells me that I shouldn’t have panicked as that is what could have killed me. We shake hands like a couple of gents and he takes off. I don’t even think to ask his name.

Back on dry land I’m a little cold with the shock and release an extraordinary amount of warm salty sea water from my nose. I dont tell the others what happened. They probably wont believe me if I tell them God wears a wet suit sometimes.

©Ash Cheyne 2017

 

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Panicked

The Old Man’s Beard

We all got a letter from the Council. Vicious, uncaring pigs, I thought.

He had to go, apparently. He was a nuisance and a danger to all around him they said. He could be moved on but that would be temporary at this time of year. He’d come back stronger next time and more of a problem.

Quite why his beard was the root of the problem, was beyond me. No mention of the smell or of his supermarket trolley and the ubiquitous cans of Super lager. Just the beard.

Didn’t he have any family ? Yes he does, I discovered. The Buttercups, although he was often referred to by others as the travellers joy. He’s not from round here, you see. Well, that’s often a problem in these strange days. Europe perhaps or maybe south west Asia.

In actual fact he smells of jasmine and strong lemon. He climbs very well and every day and he is tolerant of cold, wind, damp and salt.

He has to go though – Clematis vitalba. Lovely name but our bio security folks aren’t fooled by that. Whilst some other countries are stocking their arsenals and testing their weapons of mass deception, we here in New Zealand are looking after our plant life. So sorry Clematis, you can’t come around here killing our native seedlings. We’re having none of that.

©Ash Cheyne 2017

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – None

 

Diamond Geezer

It had been a long day for Mel. It was dark when he arrived at the bank and as he drove home the sun was disappearing faster than his enthusiasm. He wasn’t sure if he could keep this security lark up for much longer.

It used to be stimulating work but he was a bright guy and he’d got used to it quickly. His colleagues seemed less able than him yet he suspected they took home more than he did at the end of the day. He’d thought about leaving but it wasn’t as simple as that. He didn’t even have a resumé as such.

Wouldn’t make for very attractive reading in the recruitment stakes anyway. He’d done some big jobs all right, but he was unlikely to get a nice reference from anyone.

The boss now, well he was a piece of work. Old school attitude with a finger in every pie and not averse to breaking a few. He’d done his time inside and out and he liked Mel. Or so he said. Like the son he never had, although he did have two. Disappointment was a word he used a lot.

Mel glanced over to the passenger seat at his tools of the trade. Just a laptop and a phone. Next to them was a small box with someone’s family jewels in it. As the lights flashed in his rear view mirror, the siren grew louder.

Pulling off the motorway at high speed he switched off the lights. The dashboard darkened. No more control. He shut his eyes and thought of his bright future.

 

©AshCheyne 2017

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Control

Kingdom of Twisted Yarn

What on Earth

is a yarn

in a British accent ?

 

Hugh Grant perhaps

but you can’t be entirely serious

if you think he sounds

like he’d hang around

with Billy Connolly

By the way

 

Now Ewan McGregor

with that Perthshire lilt

Lovely in a kilt

but he ain’t no geezer

Chopped up in the freezer

by some Essex boys

Init Guvnor ?

 

Maybe talk a little Welsh

like a slow Indian

 

Or even a Hebridean

all up in the Skye

 

Not least

and at last

nasal Belfast

 

So a kingdom we are

not united

in speech

Even though

its English

the BBC teach

 

Whey aye man.

 

© Ash Cheyne 2017

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Yarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Run

I can remember watching the TV show Roots in 1977. Apart from Kunta Kinte, whom the story is essentially about, the only (slave) character I can recall is Chicken George, a philanderer with expensive taste and a liking for alcohol. He made being born into slavery seem not that bad and a fine distraction from my homework.

Many years later I visited the Grand Canyon. A visually stunning delight and an experience bordering on mystical. So much so I was able to block out the chatter of hordes of Japanese tourists pouring off their coaches. In the souvenir shop I came across a book called The Indian Givers [Jack Weatherford – 1988] in which he describes the contribution of the peoples of the Americas and how the early Europeans learned to deal with excess. One large mountain, for example, contained 85% of all the silver found  (taken) in the Americas. For most of the descendants of those peoples there is little left to scrape.

So for centuries we took people from their homes or  visited their homes and took anything worth taking. Fast forward to the 1980’s and Norman Tebbit, a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet,  famously urges the great unwashed  to “get on their bikes,” and go find work. For many it was to be  a one way ride, leaving behind their roots and everything they knew. “Home” was to become an almost redundant word to many.

Bit gloomy so far huh ? Don’t worry.Tourism will save us all. Yes, go to any city centre in the developed world and amongst the fountains and shopping meccas and shiney high rise hotels you’ll easily find an authentic local restaurant or two. Just don’t go too far out of town unless you’re a photo journalist with a taste for black and white pseudo industrial landscapes.

Maybe go to Palencia in northern Spain and gorge yourself on mediaeval churches. Actually don’t. By all accounts that’s pretty much all that’s there as many of the people have seemingly got on their bikes and left to find work. Whatever did they used to do for a living ? Tourism might help them but it would surely take their souls in exchange.

We’re close to forming a circle. We continue to plunder and destroy our natural resources and if their is any resistance, we start a war about it. Nationalism is making a comeback. You can come visit us, but you can’t stay. Even if your stay has been 50 years or more. Make sure you spend up large with your silver before you go though.

Chicken George was a distraction from the real issue. Superior beings are probably watching us destroy ourselves by not working together. They’ll step in at the end and polish everything up to make planet Earth a top tourism destination or a place to ride your bike to and make a better life.

A fine distraction.

 

© Ash Cheyne 2017

Photo Credit – Brazilian native by Joedson Alves

Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Roots

 

 

On reflection

I look at him

with those blue green eyes

nestling in a sea of brown

splashed with grey

 

The lonely colour

Not cool black

like a young Elvis

or pure white

like when a canvas

suffers from a lack of imagination

 

He looks back

with wisdom

Age

Grey matter

lost a little

in the fog of dreams

 

I surrender my eyes

to the darkness

and he is gone

momentarily

 

Till new thoughts

come with the light

and realisation

 

That we see ourselves

as others do

 

© Ash Cheyne – 2017

WordPress Daily Word Prompt – Gray

Harmony in the Hospital

Back in the 70’s the Bay City Rollers sang Shang a Lang. Their hairdos were augmented I’m sure with all manner of products including Harmony hair spray. According to the advert it lasted 24 hours and brushed out easily.

Long before that there was Yin and Yang and the idea that opposing forces like night and day can achieve harmony when they are in balance.

Our world needs holding together. Not by products but by the acceptance that, as the Prophet Muhammed said, all creatures are one family dependent on God.

Some years ago I had occasion to be in a hospital corridor late at night. I saw a figure in the distance whom I presumed was female as she was wearing a black niqab.  It had been an emotionally charged day and as she came closer, I felt a strange feeling of resentment. Why was she covered from head to foot like that ?

Covered that is except the eyes which, despite whatever reason she was in that corridor, radiated a smile at me. Nothing else; just two beautiful, kind eyes. I smiled back at the other human and thought of everything we must have had in common in that place of healing.

Harmony – for at least 24 hours and not easily brushed away.

© Ash Cheyne 2017

WordPress Daily Word Prompt – Harmony

 

 

Waiting

Beep

An ever lasting line

like his greatest sense

Humour

 

We wait

for the delivery

that never comes

That last hilarious punchline

 

Our hearts race

Guilt

Love

Relief

Waiting

for a sudden spike

 

We’ll always have them

Memories

of polished shoes

crisp shirts

poker face

razor sharp wit

 

Beep

© Ash Cheyne 2017

Daily Post Word Challenge – Spike