too many Brussel sprouts I think…
I sit here, my fountain pen poised above the notebook that I write my ideas… and yet for once, that’s where the pen stays. Normally, within seconds it rests upon the lined paper and the ink then flows to keep my idea for as long as I hold onto that notebook. But today then ink remains in the pen. If I had a quill pen, where the ink is drawn up into the nib from dipping it into the inkwell, I’m sure that it would have started to drip by now, or would at least start to dry such that when I do start to write the first action will be to push hard on the nib to break the dried ink. But today, my mind is blank – except for ideas that I am pretty sure I’ve already written about – or if not, started then discarded. I’m quite fortunate that generally I can remember the stories about graves being dug, swinging axes, hot sands, ghost trains, mistaken identities, hot air balloons – enough to remember when they became a short story, or part of a much longer story.
I think about putting the pen down, but that’s admitting defeat – or worse, inviting the outside world to enter into my study, present itself and remind me that the grass needs cutting, the clothes need ironing or that I had promised to get that job done by last weekend. No, this is my creative time and I need to be creative.
So I look up – look out through the window to the world at large. That world that has provided inspiration of rains coming across the plains, of men and women trudging along dirt tracks to the local village, of highwaymen – but today everything is a uniform grey colour, the rain and clouds obscuring the hill in the distance upon which my magical castle has stood for millennia… in my mind at least. Even outside is uninspired to do something interesting – the grey reflected in the blank sheet of lined paper, waiting for my ideas.
With nothing in the distance to inspire, I turn to my other creative source: my desk. Although there is a small part that is clear for writing, or typing if I’ve got my computer set up, it is surrounded with trinkets and nicknacks that have provided ideas that I can use. I look at the compass that inspired “The Navigation Watch” or the little figure of a robot in cowboy garb – and then I see that block of wood, given to me by a well-meaning friend.
I pick up the block. It’s about four inches cubed, made from a dark, old wood – the patterning from the rings clearly visible as almost black lines that traverse four of the six sides. There’s a warmth to the wood even though it’s not heated. I turn it absent mindedly in my fingers, feeling the warm wood against my fingers and palms. I raise the block up to my nose and inhale. There’s a faint smell, not a strong one, but I can smell the wood – I can smell the forest. I can smell the sun as it warms the leaves on the branches, and see the dappled sunlight that now dances across my desk. My eyes sense a movement, and my head snaps to the right and I see a deer, alert, it sees me and I watch it as it runs off further into the wood. I can hear the birds as they mark their territory by song. But wait, there’s something else – there’s someone else. There, over by that bush… it’s a boy, he’s crouched down, waiting for something for someone. Behind me I can hear the sound of hooves – there’s an approaching rider. I have to move to the side as the horse rushes past – the rider, seated in chain mail is pushing on urgently. As he passes, the boy stands up, levels his bow, draws and…
The cat pushes her face into mine. She’s hungry and the real world has come into my study.
“Okay”, I say, “Let me get you something. Come on.”
I put my wooden block down on my notepad. The letters, carved carefully and neatly into that four inch cube, taunt me.
“The Writer’s Block”, it says.
A little while back I bought a huge amount of “glass” bricks from the Pick-A-Brick wall (OK, huge for me – I don’t tend to buy more than about a pint glass of lego from the wall in any one go). I think I’ve said before that I love the way that the light refracts through the plastic – so I started to build a couple of things without any particular plan.
Although the one one the right is more ordered – and would probably work well with a well positioned light inside – a job for another time perhaps – I prefer the more windy nature of the one on the left.
Since I took these pictures (at the beginning of April )I bought a couple of LED lights, and am already thinking about unbuilding these to try another organic growth, with lights inside. Next job!
Over the next day further heats took part until finally it was time for the quarter finals. Gavin and JayJay had competed well – Gavin even managed to beat Sir Florence in a heat by one point; he tried to apologise to the knight but Sir Florence remained firm.
“No, young Knight you beat me fairly and I am pleased to have been bested this time by you. Just watch yourself at the jousting if we meet again there – I’m much better at that.”
Gavin and JayJay looked at the lists for the Quarter Finals. There were just four in each round.
“Oh no” said JayJay, “We’re against each other!”
“Well it had to happen at some point” replied Gavin. “Look, in our round there are three Junior Knights, plus Tom the Tinker’s boy.”
“Oh well, I guess you’re right. Good Luck, Gavin.”
“And you also JayJay”
The Quarter finals would be the last round that everyone would fire at the same time. Everyone lined up and nobody spoke – this was now beyond a light-hearted competition and now very serious.
Sir Gawain raised his sword.
“On my command you will begin” he said. “Loose Your Arrows!”
All four carefully laid their arrows and set them up. Almost as one they drew back on the string as they raised them up to their chins and within a blink of an eye the first volley of arrows loosed. Gavin watched his arrow as it struck the target, just to the right of the bull. There was no time to see where everyone else was just yet, tactical shooting would start to come in after the fifth arrow, and quickly the next volley hit the target. Soon, all ten arrows were in the target.
Sir Gawain strode up to the target and carefully pulled out the closest five arrows.
“Five points Sir Gavin; four point JayJay, three points Tom, Two points JayJay, and One point Sir Gavin.”
Gavin and JayJay looked at each other. “Three points Tom?” mouthed JayJay. Gavin shrugged – he was unsure how the boy had hit the target. All the competitors gathered their arrows and walked back. Tom had almost run up to the target to get his arrow, almost treading on all the other arrows on the ground. As he pulled it out, Gavin thought there was something unusual, but couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
After six rounds, the third Junior Knight had still to score, with all the points going to JayJay, Gavin and Tom. Confusingly, Tom was winning by nine points! Gavin started to think that something was not right, and so rather than fire at the same time as everyone, he decided on the seventh round to watch Tom before firing himself.
Tom loaded his bow, drew back and released the arrow. Gavin’s eyes immediately went to start tracking the arrow – but it vanished! There was no arrow flying through the air – but as Gavin’s eye’s followed the empty path, suddenly another arrow came in from the side and landed in the centre of the target! Gavin loosed his arrow and it hit the target – just on the edge. He stopped and pretended to look at his bow, whilst secretly watching Tom prepare his next arrow. Tom drew the bow back – this time, Gavin’s eyes remained on Tom. When Tom went to release the arrow, Gavin noticed that Tom hung on to the arrow – it remained on the bow. Within moments though, there was a ‘thud’ against the target; ‘Tom’s’ arrow had landed.