For the past few weeks, my Wednesday evenings have become a source of newfound inspiration, an outlet for my creativity (and an overdrive for my sweat glands). I decided to attend a short creative writing course in my bid to actually learn about something I have enjoyed doing for so long but have sidelined a little bit. It has been such an enjoying and yet terrifying journey so far and I’m not looking forward to it being over.
For this week’s assignment, our “teacher” tasked us to write about love. This was my most difficult endeavour so far. How do you write about something so personal and so uniquely felt and at the same time so written and spoken of without using a million of cliches? I gave this a go and it went down alright in class I guess. My fellow course mates liked the idea of the Ball so I thought I’d share it on my blog.
If you love South Bank as much as I do, have walked its path this summer and are even a tiny bit observant, you will surely have noticed a structure that appears to look like a boat perched on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall rooftop.
The said boat can’t actually navigate down the Thames but it instead welcomes Londoners every night and for one night only in its one-bedroom comfort. Called A Room for London, the riverboat is an architectural installation open to the public through a competitive ballot and (one must add) by contributing a considerably hefty fee. The brainchild of Artangel and Living Architecture, it was originally developed as part of the London 2012 Festival but it proved so popular that it has remained open all through 2013. According to the collaborators, David Kohn Architects designed it in collaboration with artist Fiona Banner, taking inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness and Roi de Belges (the boat he captained in the Congo in 1890).
In case you were wondering, not every Londoner has pitched a tent outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital. Or Buckingham Palace for that matter – where the press has been waiting for so long that journalists are turning into (LEGO) bricks. It would be easy to assume so since the Internet world seems to have been taken over by #royalbaby hysteria and perhaps in the eyes of non-Brits, London has become some sort of giant waiting room with people waiting to light up cigars and pop open the champers. (As for the real world, well, then that’s a whole different case.)
The Crossed Cow blog sees the conversations emerging from the baby mania and the focus on the future world that the child will grow up in as a positive outcome. Edie Greaves writes that it ‘encourages us to think more deeply about society, even if we are not parents’. That could be one way to look at how businesses, journalists, parents, grandparents and almost everyone is jumping on the royal baby bandwagon trying to fit their story in and just grab some of the attention that surrounds the birth of a single child.
I could just be bitter about all this because I drew Chardonnay in our office royal baby name sweepstake. Which is kind of fitting as Chardonnay will be my drink of choice once the pot is handed over to the lucky bugger that drew Alexandra. Yes, I’m betting it’s a girl.
It’s great to be part of a small community of storytellers; you can see the spark in people’s eyes when they have brought something they feel proud to have created. You can tell how much they value the responses to their work – whether positive or not so much – because of their eagerness to polish that piece of text, to make it into something that others won’t skim through but will stop and examine and consider for themselves. Our conversations take us places we might not have thought of when we set out to write and read, be it imaginary or concrete.
Last week’s project involved perspectives. We set out to find other characters in our previous stories and let them take over the narration. My pheromones ball story was the one I felt had the most potential. Since I shared that one with you, here is how I imagined it told by the other main character (with a few changes, inspired by my comrades’ comments):
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to watch the Rolling Stones in concert, performing live after 44 years in Hyde Park. Certain articles and blogs made me consider that maybe I should be feeling guilty that I allowed myself to enjoy this gig – because it was all too expensive, too middle class and too sponsored. Nevertheless, I not only loved the concert but also the overall mood and shared experience. Which at times could only be described as hilarious and/or weird. For example…
Today I spent some time updating this blog. I changed the theme, added to the “About me” section and made sure that all my posts now have featured images (because I decided that I can’t deal with the absence of a visual element to my scribblings). While I went back to my old posts, I recognised a pattern… This blog started almost at the same time that I started to experience and love London. It was called Sticky Notes as I aspired to keep coming back to it with different topics and different tones – which to an extent happened. But let’s be honest, most of my notes should have been called London Sticky Notes to begin with (and maybe I should have asked VisitLondon to incorporate them to their promotional material seeing that it seems that I only seem to be inspired by the good stuff). Continue reading A little bit of London loving→
About a a year ago, during a rather dull layover back to London from Athens, a bored Dutch border control employee asked me what the purpose of my visit to London was.
I must have been taken aback by the unexpected exchange that constituted something more than ‘Hello!’, ‘hello’, ‘thanks’ and a nod to proceed. I replied the first thing that came to my head:
While she checked my passport, I quickly pulled my thoughts together. Concentrate, what the hell did you just say? I tried to think fast how I could remediate what I had just uttered. It’s not that it wasn’t true but it felt like an incomplete statement.
I live there.
I left the border control with a sense of disappointment, my own instinctive responses surprised me.
I remembered that day tonight while coming back from a work trip in Switzerland. A clear sky awaited our descent into City airport and as I watched the lights twinkle and the city so beautiful and vibrant, I thought to myself, I’m glad I’m coming home.
What other word gets bandied about for whatever purpose people choose to use it – negative and positive depending how you choose to utter it. Feared and longed for. ‘You’ve changed’/’I really need a change’.
A little girl in a tutu eats a biscuit sitting on her father’s shoulders.
A man walks down Percy Street holding two pineapples, one in each hand – a pack of mint in his shirt pocket.
A woman waits for the bus. In one hand a headless lamp, in the other one a huge empty bottle of champagne.
A man tucks in his box of discounted chicken outside Sainsbury’s in Camden.
A girl on the tube holds three teddy bears with floral hats on – the fabric getting caught in her red fingernails.
An old man carries his old radio around playing God only knows dragging an empty carrier bag, looking in his pockets for God only knows what and talking to himself.
A guy in a yellow shirt with planes jives in a liquor store, his dame wears a yellow flower in her hair.
Most days I’m there to take the frame and yet manage to stay out of it. Then some days the objects of my observations turn around to communicate with me; maybe our one common identity – that of the Londoner – is what brings us together for a moment.
Like the lady sitting next to me at Starbuck’s in Waterloo station quietly reading her copies of free magazines while I was sipping my coffee watching people come in and out. She passed the first copy on to me and when she left, she handed me the rest and smiled as if she had done a good deed.
And the old gentleman who was walking his dogs around Camden Square and guessed by my excitement when I played with his pug and labrador that I must have had pets at some point and loved them very much. Who also guessed as he said that I must have studied law – and lo and behold, he was right about all of the above.
There’s a secret code sometimes between us. Something that makes people turn around in the direction of a fellow Londoner’s gaze when he’s stopped in the middle of Russel Square looking at something and smiling a full blown smile. And it’s a dog crazily chasing after a remote control car in circles making everyone giggle.