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peter.howden Posted Today, 07:59am
  Jim stepped down from the train( 2)

Jim stood motionless, puzzled, more bloody annoyed, for his sloppiness was totally unprofessional, then, instantly recouping, where, and what his prime objective was on this mission. His army and mercenary discipline, void of emotion, took command of mental chaos, ready to move as a die-hard assassin…and strike. Within the packed maukit surroundings, distant thunderous shockwaves savagely infested the air, as deadly indiscriminate 120 army siege mortars, fired repetitively, exploding bedlam forcing everyone else, in a futile attempt for safety, crouched down behind any kind of primitive protection, or just down on the ground….in fetal position.

A quick glance allowed Jim to advance to complete his ordered target. An abundance of confusion, coupled with hollering from the mob, but apparently, they had been aware of the whole situation for months, if not for years, though the conflict had not touched them personally, in all that time. Unlike Jim, who had lost everyone he had known from the very beginning, when being such a novice at brutality, mourned each one of his kind who fell. He became untouchable in feelings or reason. Now just a robotic creature with a given purpose

Again, without mercy or concern, a barrage of explosions fell in such a small crowded area. ‘ The sphere of war is always the same fate!’, seeped through Jim’s mind; “bored out their skulls for donkeys, with brief moments of madness, leaving trembling survivors scared out of wits, peeing themselves uncontrollably, with hope to survive as luck blows their minds away’. War has nought to do with right or wrong, just plain bloody endurance. Jim couldn’t remember when he lost his last comrade, or indeed his name. What was he thinking “Lost,” as if he put someone down, somewhere, misplacing where? was he going mad at last, and who would observe, in this theatre of lunacy?

The ruckus around interrupted his private thoughts, hearing hysterical screams from people who had obviously been hit. Cowards and the brave have the same reaction, then nervous reticence follows.
Marching through the rubble, Jim almost stumbles over, what appears to be remains of some kind of wretched animal across his path. Leaning down to toss the limp body out of touch, a stunned realization was jagged loose tissues of human skin, amongst the carnage.

This stunned Jim into the fatal mistake of looking down. Out of all the gory carnage, here was a child, according to the size, and tatty fragments of rags… what age, boy or girl, would be a guess, Jim did not want to make. These cold lifeless dirty limbs struck a blow into him, so unexpected, left no time to prepare a shield against it. The hint of blond hair, half sediments of a eye hanging out its socket, reached him… plunging deep into his empty hardened psyche. At that moment he questioned himself; ‘how long could he go on existing like this?’…and what of death?

He did not care, for it would be a release praying for an excruciating nightmare out of this abyss, save him from this endless dread.

Jim, unintentionally turned around, walked back to the unknown, from where he came
peter.howden Posted 18th Jan 2020, 05:55pm
  Jim stepped down from the train(two parts; No 1)

Jim stepped down from the train, into just another inhospitable township, possessing a haunting silence, blocking any sensible conclusions was the wind, like a ice knife-edge, slashing in and out, cutting into his flesh, chilling his every bone, which no earthly fire could thaw or be rid of. Hordes of frozen people, seemingly oblivious to ear-piercing whistles, shrieking at every other moment… and one particular above all others, penetrate his psyche,

Before disembarking the coach, Jim checked he had everything, before leaving the compartment. For one thing this journey taught him, survival depended on this being done methodically, for any equipment could save your life in these foreign parts. He naively expected a warm welcome from them, or some of the town’s main inhabitants, exhibiting just a hint of relief and appreciation, for they knew he was coming. But then again, he had been unforeseeable delayed, at least twice to Jim’s calculations.

The platform was packed with bodies, unable to move, as the inhaled free artic air all, dressed the same, but obviously by their decorum, held different status, professions within their society, but alas gone all in the echoes of the past. The crowd had been herded into, and out of trains, forced to travel through the intensity of the day, though, if the whispers were right, this was first class, compared to third, or last class from a couple of weeks back. The poor captive travellers, paid way over the odds for their tickets, only allowed one suitcase…with no choice of their destination.

Jim started to walk briskly, almost marching out of the main transport building, heading to what was obvious the main street of this tumbled down deprived roadside. He had seen more than a dozen hamlets, villages and small towns, over the last two weeks and each were exactly the same…damp drafty daurk accommodation, added with the miss- trust of the locals. What made matters worse, was the absolute bloody tedium, attached to these places, or indeed anywhere Jim had been lately.

Keeping his eyes open, checking for potholes which cause more injury than the job at hand, no matter whose fault they are there. The chances of medics, or indeed the almighty luxury comfort of a black-market ambulance, was beyond the likes of his means or rank. Scurrying from one to another, each street, if you could call them so, was exactly the same as the next, though just for some wandering moments, Jim was lost like a wee boy
peter.howden Posted 16th Jan 2020, 10:17am
  Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

‘I disapprove what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’, is supposedly a quote from the late; ‘Voltaire’, whom despised martyrdom, still, this may be a burden his memory will have to endure. It is now claimed, these words were not uttered by him, but a liberty taken, by one of his many biographers, Evelyn Beatrice Hall. So proves history is more than unjustly nothing but a tableau of crimes, misfortunes, and untrue misquotes. The following lines are as near the truth as Benn can recall

Gay Bob was the nickname of an employee working in one purpose built building, housing swimming pools, hot baths, Turkish suite and the famous ‘Steamies’ in the 1980s. Almost all these mighty establishments were built in the working class manufacturing communities, in the towns and cities of Scotland. He was a helpful fella, though his lack of personal hygiene was second only to his far stretched stories. Gay Bob always had tackled whatever was being talked about…. or one better. Not only achieved, but with the highest distinguish beyond approach.

The mystery why he did so was simply to be accepted by others, yet, prone to exaggerate his physical daredevil feats was legendary, among the rest of the team, for any of his inputs became totally unbelievable, because of his excessive overweight for a pond attendant. Over 23 odd stone, some may say rather cruelly, how he could be used as emergency plunger for emptying of the public pool, by just dropping him from the upstairs changing area balcony.

An attendant dubbed Captain Kirk; (going where no man had gone before) was talking about doing a parachute jump for charity, and the usual wise cracks were being spun around, plus perchance, some admiration was oozing from his comrades. It may be conceivably be the reason which turned Gay Bob’s mind, to introduce his supposed experience on the subject. His primer was Hand gliding, which excited the very pours, creating the wonderful feeling of freedom gained by this much misunderstood sport. Being the porky size, did not alter his creative outline of the trills of silent flight. It had escaped his attention perhaps his size may bar him from such a physical and elite endeavour. He truly believed we all believed every word he uttered, however, he certainly knew all too well about sweating and pours, due to his proportion and aroma.

He continued to relate this fantastic tale by adding he spotted his father’s car, in private parking, lodged at the edge of these activities. Catching Gay Bob’s eye was not the colour, or indeed the model, but he had managed to read the licence plate, while soaring over the hills and fields. Another illustrious feature of this family car was installed, an aeroplane’s Rolls Royce engine under its tattered bonnet. He further claimed they never used the full throttle, or released the engine’s true potential, in fear they could not control the outcome.

Scarcely giving time for fresh air gulp, he soared into his adventure, leaping into the unknown, for charity. It was not from a plane but from a balloon. They needed breathing apparatus long before they jumped, due to the fantastic height this silent glider achieved. The length or timing for the decent, Gay Bob could not relate but he knew it was close to a world record. Precisely where or when this marvellous feat took place, was also unclear, but you can certainly rest on my word….so Gay Bob quoted.

Was he just a fibber, or could he not control himself, taking great joy in telling his tale. ‘Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities, have the power to make you commit injustices’; is a genuine quote from famous French philosopher; ‘Voltaire’, so just maybe this tale, is an injustice on Gay Bob.

Shangri la can be possible……if you believe
carmella Posted 14th Jan 2020, 02:13pm
  Peter, I know good writing when I see it. I am a non-fiction Writer, apart from other things taking up my time these days. I have taken a break from writing currently.

Assured of my perusals of your written words even although I don’t always leave a comment.

Reading this is a pleasure, thank you.
peter.howden Posted 14th Jan 2020, 09:27am
  Carmella..thank so very much...I'm pure chuffed...
carmella Posted 14th Jan 2020, 07:53am
  Interesting read catching up with your writings Peter.

On the last chapter, I am not an atheist, but I am a republican, and recent events have further assured me I am right. Time will tell!

Every once in a while I enjoy reading, or catching up with your chapters.

Totally enjoyable!
peter.howden Posted 13th Jan 2020, 10:59am

If you enter our town in any direction, an instant numbness catches your breath while you take steps further into the circle which represents the heart of this community. Without even trying, it becomes obvious, something terribly wrong about the house on the right, situated in the middle of a quiet row just at the far end, unable to be hidden, due to the bright yellow door, and the eye-splitting red painted windows, It had been the horrendous scene of absolute madness man-made hell, beyond endurance of any decent society.

Somewhere in the murky past, yet not all that long ago, were two young people, who only fell deeply in love, setting up home together, craving deeply to live entwined, behind their personally decorated buttery door, but… the supposed pious neighbourhood were horrified at any such behaviour …just could not let it be. The young blameless couple’s cardinal sin was not only to openly dare treasure the forbidden passion; ‘The love we dare not speak its name’; but also born to be of mixed race and religion.

Almost instantly, without warning, groups of protesting cliques stood at the doorway of the home, jeeringly chanting religious verses and cursing the frightened couple. In such a short space of time, the factions formed an ugly hypocritical mob, set on destroying any trace of this abomination. The police department of the town managed half-heartedly hold the hordes back. The law enforcement superintendents, along with the shifty council, specified it was a holy affair. Fearing this situation was now uncontrollable, called for the pillars of each separate spiritual factions, to deal with this bedlam

They nervously came with feeble attempts trying to appease the now hostile throng, with no success… then each in turn quoted chosen verses from their Bible; Koran; Torah; Tripitaka and ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ to no avail for all theoretical ears and minds set on this outrage claimed the couple were against mans and divinity laws. The mob grew and grew hysterical.

What happened during that appalling night, no words can explain, for once daylight broke, the utter shame instinctively befell the authors these atrocious actions. No supposed half decent human being alive would dare tell of their involvement but would remain a personal infamy nightmare amongst those who devilishly took part. The horror is an immovable ignominy on the city’s history.

Will it happen again….is it in this dimension, or another in a million galaxy's, the plain answer is…no!
I personally have no reason, or justification to ask…. as I’m an atheist, without faith in a deity…. I threw the first stone.
peter.howden Posted 8th Jan 2020, 12:57pm
  Art for Art sake

The furtive Aillig Ranulf works, aren’t instantly known throughout the professional cultured world, nonetheless… reputed to be, in some quarters, thee absolutely greatest sculptor of today and countless yesteryears, using precious knowledge and talent with mallet and various chisels, to create from a basic Maquette… a fantasy living body of stunning success. Certain critics, who say they are in the know, state, searching for his almost sacred works, is equal to finding the holy grail. Also, highly praising his muscular pieces way, above such celebrated works from Rodin’s “Thinker” or Michelangelo’s super “David” or alluring genius beyond the “Venus de Milo”. Yet he manages to surpass the unpretentious modern realism of Bruno Catalano’s “Les Voyageurs”, displaying in the Rue’s, Avenues and parks of Marseille’s, or the massive “Kelpies’ recently unveiled in Falkirk canal.

Highest lauds indeed, with many more having been heaped on one completely enigmatic artist, with the meaning of the existence within his fingertips. Aillig inspired gifts, seemingly brought dry stone to life, as if realism is transferred into his masonry masterpieces. Scarcity of such wished sculptures… fashioned an artistic phenomenal craze. All who say having been fortunate to witness his veiled conceptions, protest being the privileged few, seeing so genuine living statues, moulded to perfection, by fascinating magical hands, they could almost mistakenly hold a desire to touch them, communicate with a unknown essence, yet… almost all his works are hidden away in his studio…where he holds a terrible secret.

It is rumoured, one artist critic, of the Richard Dorment cast, paid a surprised visit to the startlingly youngish artist at his closely guarded studio … away from prying eyes, deep in the heart of the clandestine Scottish countryside. At first glance on approach, it looked a dour primitive building, dark and gloomy, however, once within its walls…. they projected poignant vibrations of excruciatingly torturous undertakings having just taken place. There was no sign of an expected workplace, or the usual strewn apparatus, or crayons and paper for research sketches…just a huge fire in a massive stone hearth’s, releasing fiery aromatic objects, which masked the burning smell of inescapable…human skin.

Through immense timber doors, Aillig Ranulf made his entrance. He held a daunting illusion of “Will-o'-the-wisp”; making the visitor nervously dubious of his surroundings… however, the worldly censor instantly fell under some sort of bizarre compelling spell. The sculptor held an intangible power, glowing from within his merge body, as he limped closer to his unsuspecting prey. Unable to move in any form, the critic heard every uttered syllable, by the so described genius, as he prepared his fiendish plan. ‘I am not a sculpture in the true meaning of the word’, the artist confessed, then continued,’ but I believe I’m ahead of my time…. isn’t science absolute?’, was his chilling claim.

The inspired lunatic led his willing quarry to a large coffin shaped machine, punched in a code on the controls, generating a laser which penetrated electromagnetic radiation, hardening every atom, molecules and all living tissues became invisibly frozen. The whole experiment, lasting just a millionth of a second…. hideously then the victim ceased to exist as a person, but now a living as… timeless corpse. Another piece of equipment automatically penetrated with a liquefied substance. Owing to the straightforward fact, human skin is transparent, the illusion was simply a solid statue…. with emotions… whatever the controller desired…. instantaneously.

The visiting art critic of some standing…was never seen again…. Alive?
peter.howden Posted 6th Jan 2020, 08:06pm
  My Chronicles 06/01/2020;

Nothing could revive any festive mood within, until, while filling the bird feed as dawn approached, becoming a spectacular Christmas morning, the realization struck, just how fortunate we both are, reaching this point in time, learning to adapt, to suit changing circumstances, having a very close family, my twa de la Chine, real guid friends, plus acquaintances…and the ability to enjoy them , though one thought hung on the edge… Will we see any better with 20/20 vision?

Aunt Becky is very fragile, precariously prone to falling now, unaware where she is, lost in an endless day, though through habits of a lifetime, walks everywhere as if having a purpose to arrive. She has a habit of midnight wakening, darting off for somewhere, is causing more than a concern. Becky, like all the residents, are intimately supervised by caring staff, and unable to leave ‘Rose’ dormitory perimeter. Aunt Becky is seemingly content, memorised by mysteries within her head… So, we cross our fingers, for Becky… for this coming year.

Michael, brother-in-law from Saint Heliers, Jersey, was our first foot…but forgot the coal, customs at the airport, I guess?... He is always a surprise, even when he tells you he is coming, but he has an uncrushable desire to please, that’s just the way he has always been…Michael…Bon voyage de retour.

Benghazi Mice main man Dominic (wee Dom), has been fighting Dementia, plus Parkinson’s disease, now facing undetectable seizures, cruel thrusting spasms ride rough shot over his body. He was taken to hospital some weeks before Christmas, expected to not recover, however he did, but in a sad state. His wife Janet is herself knackered but insists looking after him, with some questionable help from the council, who have brought in agents whose training and procedures is doubtful, if not deplorable. Dom’s main memory is serving generous Lauren and Hardy, in Central Station hotel 1954…#in the blue ridge mountains of Virginia#.... Keep dreaming old friend.

Hogmanay and Ne’erday, was quietly no reflexion on past years way back, when door to door, any door was openly welcome, as long as the knocker had a bottle, black bun and a piece of coal. The bells of Ne’erday are gone, leaving an unwanted reality. My lifetime knack, or ability to debate, discuss, argue black is white, with the family around the old kitchen table on a Saturday, is slowly dwindling, along with my powers of instant switching deduction. Talking around corners; ‘She who must be obeyed’ insist I do…now alas reaching, if not …right out the window…well nearly.

Yet occasionally…a glimpse in the mirror, once in a while reflex’s… scrub up not too bad…for an old wobbling bugger …
peter.howden Posted 2nd Jan 2020, 12:03pm
  Not Yesterday

Now I’m in my later years, the top-drawer keeping knickknacks and hints of my precious past, is unable to close, without exertion. The other day, like many unachieved times before, the keen decision to weed out unnecessary items took place, by emptying everything on the bed, for clear viewing. A glimpse of these near forgotten items, miraculously bring almost live memories, spinning around a wondrous awareness of bygone loves, aromas, and kind words, held hidden, yet bound so close, weathering the storms of rapidly passing time. Such was an almost unrecognizable photo of a Gorbals wally close, inviting nostalgia to open my mind’s light.

We stayed above the Clydesdale bank (the actual bank is rather vague, but a bank it was) around the very early 50s in; 8 Gorbals Street, overlooking the River Clyde, with a flashing neon advert for Dewat’s whisky. My brother John studied within Glasgow University, for a PhD in Physics, plus among other things, the Russian language. Sharing a bedroom, he was a soft-spoken kind fellow, and though I must be biased, being somewhat around nine years old, I believe most people found him this way. He was 11 years older, I was not unwanted, but a very late edition to the family.

Mother was a bit more than strict, not uncommon for that era, close to work, study, pray and one does their duty. At the time, I had no idea the hardships she had endured, for all was visible respectability and a reasonable comfortable life, apart from ‘Brasso’ and shoes night, when it was my obligation to rub masses of ornaments but certainly, no magic lamp. Here And Now, such reminiscences, dust down imaginary cobwebs. Mother was fiercely opposed to alcohol, only publicly sipped a very small sherry on Hogmanay to see the bells in. however, each night of the year, retiring to her bedroom, a very generous glass of Johnny Walker black label, and a piece of preferably Dundee Cake, was at hand… all for medicinal reasons I was told by her much later on.

Then, I had not a tear for the suffering she endured, or an incline of her private behaviour till years later. She was very severe on John, did not tolerate any stray from her house rules which now I can appreciate, but then, it was a buck to buck. Nor all that often, he did come in sailing close to the wind, urgently trying to imitate a sober person. On those occasions, being much closer to me in our shared double bed, his breath, though strange, was comforting to me.

Sadly, I do not have a photo of an elaborate Crystal set, which he built from spare parts, with appearance of an army mobile phone unit, delivering the exciting Radio Luxembourg, with its wild music of the time, but for me… Dan Dare; Pilot of the future. We listened, with headphones, in secret, as mother thought it was illegal or something.

My Sister Margaret, who live in Vancouver Canada, sent me one specific Crystal set, which was a small rocket, with a screw antenna, and a small clip to be attached to the water pipe of the radiators. Unlike today, no batteries needed. That year for Christmas she also sent, a fabulous very light blue fleeced lined jerkin, not seen in dull grey Britain. I wore that jerkin with chuffed pride, when allowed, as my mother thought it was only suitable for certain events. My recollection says… I had the precious jacket, until I was fourteen/fifteen, where it was lost or misplaced.

Funny where a snap can take you…is it not?

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