madness frozen out

bones interred together        warmed

peace       buds in waiting

Early morning view from my sitting room window: the clock tower of the once notorious Victorian "lunatic asylum" at Menston, now luxury flats. Over 2,000 bodies of former inmates are buried close by

Early morning view from my sitting room window: the clock tower – about 1/2 mile away – of the once notorious Victorian “lunatic asylum” at Menston, now luxury flats. Over 2,000 bodies of former inmates are buried, together, close by


A deep thought minute

click     to     click                   is time enough

the wind raged sea             calmed

I haven’t published a haiku, I haven’t written a haiku, for some time.

What I have found is that, for me, composing a haiku requires a certain state of mind, a calm which has been missing from the recent hustle and bussle in my life, mainly catching up on some work projects which had slipped. But there has also been the attempt to get back into film photography, some of the hassles and frustrations of which I’ve been documenting on my other blog, grumpytykepix. And then there are some aspects of everyday life in the present-day UK.

The work catch-up is almost complete. I have finally accepted that getting back into film is not going to be a easy as I thought. And the irritation of so many things imposed upon us, mainly by politicians and the mass media, is being resolved by writing about them (even though my promised ‘grump’ on this blog is, as yet, only in draft).

I’ve been fascinated by a picture published some time ago on one of my favourite photo blogs, ‘Shimmering Grains’. It showed what seemed to be a calm, almost ethereal, scene of the sea. In fact, it was taken during a gale but the sea has been calmed by a long time exposure. A perfect illustration of the oft mis-voiced ‘quote’ – “As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure”, Chaucer; or “Time is the healer of all necessary evils”, Menander.

The picture above is a screen grab; the original picture is at:

But if you find beautiful photographs of things natural therapeutic, I’d recommend following this Swedish photographer’s blog.

Picture showing minimal geometry of the National War Museum, Manchester

Imperial War Museum, Manchester

I decided not to post this on my photo blog (grumpytykepix) as this was taken on my Lumix GF1 as I was attending a seminar at the museum for work, so carried digital. I’m endeavouring to reserve the other blog for film and classic cameras.

I usually prefer to photograph the natural environment but the built environment here is quite astounding and well worth a day. It made me determined to go back some day with film.

I’ve tried to minimise the effect here, but originally this picture showed up the distortion in the Lumix 14-42mm ‘X’ lens but I guess if anything was going to this is it.

The writer

Lenutsa’s right hand moved smoothly in a small arc, its shadow – pale and indistinct in the light of a solitary oil lamp – gliding over the surface of the dark, ugly thing grasped lightly in her other hand. She sighed, laid the object on the cloth which covered the small table at which she was sitting and, turning to the eastern corner of the room, with thumb and first two fingers of her right hand together, touched them to her forehead, then her lower breast, then her right shoulder, then her left. She repeated the movements twice more.

She had written the final line. It was perfect.

Turning to the table again, she gently took the wart-covered thing between finger and thumb and placed it carefully in a small cup, half full with a potion, black, evil-looking, emanating an acrid, nauseating smell. Plucking a small stick from the table, she turned the object in the liquid, carefully pushing it down as she turned.

Again and again she plunged the object into the murky depths, till the object itself, covered in raised lines like old scars left by the razor of a precise maniac, was completely black.

Grasping it lightly between thumb and forefinger, she lifted the thing from the black liquid, lightly wiped it with a stained piece of cloth and placed it on a small clay tile on the table. She dried her thumb and finger with the same cloth and looked with distaste at the stains left there.

Never mind, she was almost done.

The first rays of dawn were creeping through the window. She blew out the lamp and a golden ray from the rising sun lit on the dark thing, now becoming a dull black as the evil liquid evaporated.

Lenutsa looked at the thing through drooping eyelids. Should she complete her task now, or sleep a little? She had just time for a short nap before the ducks began their morning gabble crying for food. If she completed her task she would not be able to sleep until all the daily chores demanded by her small piece of land and its few living creatures were completed.

She’d finish the thing.

She lit the oil lamp again. Reaching out her left hand, she took up the thing and, while holding it way above the flame of the lamp, took again the old rag in her right hand and began gently to wipe the black scars, now warm from the flame.

A red slash, bright as newly drawn blood, spilled out of the black where the rag had touched. The scars dissolved in the wake of the caressing rag. Another stroke, and golden yellow leapt out to reflect the increasingly strong rays of the sun. Another red slash, another burst of yellow; as the rag swept over the thing’s surface the colours began to coalesce into recognisable forms.

A diamond, a triangle, a star, a cross. Each delineated by a fine, shiny line, black or white. Each formed with sweeping, precise curves on the surface of the fragile creation.

Lenutsa absorbed the beauty with pride, crossed herself again and placed it at the end of a row of similar things on the nearby dresser.

She’d feed the ducks who had given her the beginning of each of those wonderful things now standing proudly in line. Then she’d walk to the local monastery, carefully carrying her creations in a plastic bag.

If she was lucky, today the tourists would come. The dozen duck egg shells she had written would each translate into one Euro, maybe more. And she would have money for the sugar, the coffee and the other things that her small plot could not provide and, of course, for the beeswax she would buy from her neighbour to write more eggs, and the chemical dyes which came from across the border, from the Ukraine.

Lenutsa crossed herself again as her lips moved silently to thank God. And then she smiled.


This is my first attempt to write more than the few words of a haiku or a limerick as I’ve posted before. I’d welcome any feedback from all you more experienced writers out there, or from those who simply read. (A word of explanation, the egg decorators of the Bucovina in northern Romania say they ‘write’ the eggs, not ‘decorate’ or ‘paint’ them).

imagine     differ

climb out of the commonplace

halt     think free     proceed

Browsing around looking for inspiration I came across a site which, weekly, gives three words as a prompt to write something. This week’s three words were ‘imagine’, ‘differ’ and ‘halt’. The site is

I thought I’d see if the words would prompt a haiku. They did.

In my previous post I said I liked the discipline of the 5-7-5 haiku. I also like the discipline of having to include a given three words, just from time to time.

I haven’t given up on the picture haiku, marrying up a photograph and a haiku, or just creating a ‘haiku’ from 17 pictures, as I did in my first effort – I find it very appealing and my efforts seemed to prompt quite a few ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, so I will persevere.

I find Romania inspiring so I’m hoping to find some haiku inspiring pictures there in August. There’s a little place called Sadova near which, several years ago, I experienced the greatest feeling of peace ever. I hope to go there and maybe recapture that. Just the thought of it has given me an idea for a short story – which will be my first ever if I can complete it (in fact it will not be my first; I’ve been told I wrote a lot of stories as a child. Somewhere along the way I lost that).

Another idea I’ve picked up from another blog, and I’m very sorry I cannot find it again to give a credit, was to assign a day of the week to each of various subjects. For me this might be a great idea as although some people seem to run a multiplicity of blogs, each for one of their interests, I cannot imagine being able to do that. One is hard enough. It might also help with keeping up with a post a day. I’m working on it. I guess it might help followers who find one of my topics interesting but not others.

I haven’t yet signed up to threewordwednesday but maybe I’ll work out how to do the link and make it.

one destination

straight     curious meander

we wonder and wait

This is the last of my existing pictures which immediately prompted a haiku. The exercise has had an interesting result: now I’m looking for the picture and the haiku at the same time. I’ve not yet had time to indulge that.

Since I got into this I’ve read a bit more about haiku; it seems there are all sorts of combinations which are considered to be ‘haiku’ – even a single word. 

That doesn’t do for me. I like the discipline of trying to marshal my thoughts into the 17 syllable, 5-7-5, formation. Though I was glad to learn about the use of space as a kind of punctuation – as above.

Perhaps liking the discipline comes from learning, as a journalist, to make a ‘story’ fit into pretty much an exact number of words, or a similar discipline as an advertising copy writer – in general with far fewer words to play with.

In just the same way, I like to marshal my photographic thoughts with the discipline of using film. However, I’m quite happy to use the ‘indiscipline’ of digital photography for other projects, and I’m looking forward to having the creative inspiration to compose many more words in a single piece of imaginative writing – if it ever happens. But I won’t tag it as haiku.

Take inspiration.

Visit the God particle

On a pedal bike

Writing about inspiration in my post of 5th July, I mentioned food, photography, people with a disability, words and writers.

I forgot about science. Yet possible confirmation of the existence of the ‘God particle’, the Higgs boson, had been announced only the day before. Will this inspire me to venture into more creative writing than the couple of haiku I’ve had a go at so far? Well it might.

One recurring piece of advice to creative writers from those ‘doing it’ seems to be to write about something you know. I wouldn’t claim to know much about the Higgs boson but, oddly enough, I do have the basis to investigate more about it.

Photograph: inside the Large Hadron Collider with a man on a bike

Inside the Large Hadron Collider, one of the series of superb photographs (CERN copyright) published in ‘The Atlantic’ –

Way back in the ’50s I was a student apprentice in the central research laboratories of one of the UK’s leading heavy engineering companies at that time, British Thomson Houston. And in 1957 I was working, in a very junior way, on components for ‘Zeta’, the British attempt to utilise the power of nuclear fusion in a beneficial way (rather than the destruction of the hydrogen bomb).

Those were the days of real apprenticeships – five years with four days a week in ‘work’ and one day, three evenings a week for a Higher National in applied physics at college (the Rugby College of Advanced Technology, now Coventry University). I remember very well that my wage in the first year was £2 11s 6d a week, of which £2 10s went for board at the apprentice hostel. But I digress …

After finishing the apprenticeship I chose to go down a different path, starting over again by doing a few hours a week on a couple of weekly local newspapers, from where I went to writing about science and technology, then the management and marketing of it. Even in this field I could indulge my love of words and wordsmithing. And, in a roundabout way, it took me too into teaching English, which allowed me to pass a little of that love onto my students.

Although I chose to go in a rather different direction, I’ve never regretted those five years in BTH. If I do find the inspiration from the Higgs boson ‘discovery’, and the incongruity of the photo I’ve chosen to insert in this post might tip the balance, I’ll have even more reason to celebrate that half a decade in Rugby.

PS. The four greatest influences on my life: my paternal grandmother Lucy Livesey, who introduced me to the piano (including Eileen Joyce live), Beethoven and Delius (with Sir Thomas Beecham), opera (Carmen when I was 7 and The Ring shortly after), books, walking, love of food and the advantages of telling the truth; John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath – which I read when in Rugby and the basis of my bloody-mindedness ever since); the British Thomson Houston apprenticeship; my first two full-time editors, Mike Hide, then (1962 – 1966?) editor of Chemical Age, and Fred Roberts MBE, then (1967-1970) editor of Engineering, come a close joint fourth.

PPS: Romania

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