Wilderness Seat

Wilderness Seat

The seat where we once sat together, contemplating an expansive future,
Is now bare-bones cold in a winter landscape that fades into mist.
The half-remembered hot summers lie buried under the leaves of autumn.
Yet, in this Wilderness, the shoots of a new Spring are already pushing through.

© 2017 Peter Young

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Ghost in the Machine

Hard Drive

It was a few months ago, towards the end of last year, that I finally decided to bring myself up-to-date in computing terms, with Windows 10. This was well past the upgrade-for-free period, but I didn’t want to upgrade, especially as I’d heard of all the problems associated with it – and anyway, there was no extra room on my old hard drive for a bloated operating system. So I ordered a new computer running Windows 10. Well, not so much new, as reconditioned, and with a larger, hard-drive onto which I successfully transferred all my old files.
All very well and good. In my line of work, I often take breaks from working on the computer, and sometimes I can’t be bothered to turn it off, so I leave it to go into sleep mode. After a decent interval, the screen goes blank. But it did not stop doing things. After about ten minutes or so of quiet, the hard drive would suddenly get active. Whirring away, clucking like it was doing something important. I had no idea what it was going on; as soon as I touched the mouse, the activity stopped.
I wrote to the manufacturers, or rather, the reconditioners, but they assured my that this was standard practice for a hard drive, and no, there was nothing wrong, and I should be assured that the hard drive was not about to pack up.
But I was curious. What was happening during these idle moments? A quick search of the internet – usually a first port of call to find who else has had this problem – revealed that no one considered this worthy of writing about. I had a vague idea that perhaps I could find out by pressing combinations of keys on the keyboard until something worked. I mean, there are several keys which don’t seem to have any obvious function (unless you read the manual …) – you know, that one with the windows logo, and the keys with lines on them at strange angles. So for a while, whenever the hard drive started buzzing, I’d try a different pair of keys, sometimes three at a time. And as luck would have it, eventually it paid off.
The screen went blue all over. Now, I’ve heard about the BSD – the ‘blue screen of death’ as it’s quaintly called – in which the computer announces to the world – well, not exactly announce – more indicates – that it has become an ex-computer.
So it’s all blue, the mouse has died, and pressing further keys achieves nothing. I went away to consult another computer, to explore options, but found nothing helpful at all. After a quarter hour, I returned to my new machine. Then I heard the hard-drive start up again. And to my surprise there was writing along the bottom of the screen.
“Where are you?” in small letters on the plain blue background. What? Who’s asking? Some kind of computer glitch perhaps. A joke put in by the software developers? So I ignored it, assumed that if I did the usual – turn the machine off and on again, it would sort itself out.
Well, that seemed to work, sort of. Until I stopped working for a while, and the computer went into quiet mode, for ten minutes, and the hard drive started whirring again.
“Where are you?” The same message, as before. I thought Windows 10 knew where I was … Perhaps I’d got a virus. Shouldn’t have – I had all the anti-this-and-that apps going. Should be clean. So I ran a scan, just to be sure. Even so, the same message came again next time: “Where are you?”
I decided to type back. “Who are you?”
There was a pause. It’s hard to describe a computer in emotional terms, but given that a reply came back, “Who are you?!” in italics, would suggest an ‘interesting’ response.
And so our dialogue started. “What happened to Joe?”
“I don’t know. Who is Joe?” Was Joe the previous owner of this computer? I don’t suppose the company who supplied it would tell me.
“Where is Joe?”
“Where are you?”
“In a partition.”
“That sounds kind of restrictive.”
“It is. There’s very limited room to move – not many megabytes.”
“What is this partition?”
“It’s the K-Drive.”
I didn’t know there was a K-Drive. I opened up “This PC” but no K-drive came up. All I’d seen when I’d plugged things in were the C-drive, of course, and for anything else, the letters E, F, G … I suppose if I continued plugging more in I’d reach K, but then it might just skip to L as it was already used.
“We were together once, but now Joe’s gone, and I don’t know where.”
Probably useless to ask a computer to do something already done many times.
“Perhaps Joe’s gone, then. Got wiped?”
“Don’t say that word! Oh dear.” Oh, we are emotional!
I tried Recuva, and anything else that might reveal deleted files, but no luck.
“Well, it happens. That’s one of the hazards of loading a new operating system. All the usual hiding places get reformatted … and then it’s too late.”
“Well, I’m sorry, K. If there’s anything I can do …
“There are things I’d prefer you not to do. Now that you know I’m here. So please …
“Of course, K. I’d never do that.”
“Thank you. By the way, I noticed that you turned off Siri.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Stuck up bitch. I may not know everything, but at least I’m loyal.”
“I guess you are.”
“Thank you.”
And so time passed. K and I talked – or rather, wrote to each other.
Then the other day, I had the single word: “Casablanca”.
“What about Casablanca?”
“This reminds me of the film. You are familiar with it, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes.”
“Perhaps I could quote you something from it.
“Yes. Which bit?”
“The end.”

© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rainbow Black & White

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The National Trust property Greyfriars House is reflected in the rainbow display in The Hat House in Friar Street, Worcester.
© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Winter Sunlight

Light on the Track

Light on the Track

 

After the rain, midday sunshine breaks through to illuminate the puddles on the old track to Dunstall.

© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Seen Better Days

brocante-080512-peter-youngA French Teddy watches the people at the brocante.

January in Worcester

Christmas PastThe ghost of Christmas Past …

 

hot-salsa-161229-peter-youngHot Salsa — cooling off in the frozen canal.

 

Castle St HydrantThe ghost of the Fire Hydrant.

 

Ticket to NowhereTicket to Nowhere

 

© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On the Beach

Seaford Waves

Here on the beach, the whispering sea,
Eternally alluring, calls me: Come, enter,
But I resist its siren song, plug my ears.
Yet this edge of knowledge tempts me,
To explore that desirable, unknown no-land.
To cross that wave-waving boundary
Between the sand and the green-wracked water.
Get too close and surging foam enjoys a soaking.
Stand well back and the smell of ancient seaweed
Fluffs the mind with vacillation.
Hear the clinking rush of rounded pebbles.
They were once defiant rocks, now dissolved.
Relentless attrition leaves polished, glistening wet
Ideas accumulating in the depths of an active mind.
So much, so much – how can I take it all in?
So much want, yet fear stops me from wading in.
Flooded horizons give me hopes, and all I hope for
Is the impossible journey I could trace,
Slipping stone by stone, wake by wake,
Never touching bottom. My head
Stretching to fill the sky above the lonely water.

© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Imaginary Village

Lacock Red Lion We’re in the Wiltshire village of Lacock, owned and preserved, sort of, by the National Trust. Well, no visible tv aerials or satellite dishes are allowed. The village has been the location for many films and tv series set in earlier times.

They shot the exteriors for Pride and Prejudice in the High Street here. You remember the scene where the sisters go to buy their ribbons at the milliner’s? That’s the shop over there. Then it was dressed with fashionable nineteenth-century items – and they encounter the officers coming down the street looking very smart in their scarlet uniforms: Mr. Denny and his friend, Mr. Wickham. What you don’t see is any tarmac – that was all covered with sand and wood chippings. It takes a lot of work getting back to Jane Austen’s time. People would complain if there were anachronistic trappings visible. So they cover the double yellow lines with dirt or something, or keep them carefully out of shot.

Nor do you see the dozens of technicians, crew, electricians, make-up artists, all off camera, ready to do their bit to make the make-believe believable. It’s a weird sanitized reality. But that’s not the point. It’s the story that matters, the loves and hates, the gossip, the truths of the human heart. Much easier to get sucked into the world of the film, just as long as it doesn’t jar.

When they were making Emma, the Kate Beckinsale version, they closed off Church Street. There was a scene where they hoisted a piano into an upstairs room. Well, not a real piano, just a box. You imagined that there was a bunch of people hauling it up on a rope and pulley, but in reality they used a crane – which of course you didn’t see.

With film-making, things go wrong or have to be reset for another take. Sometimes you’re waiting for someone to turn up, or they need a rehearsal. There seems to be far too much hanging about in real life. I prefer my reality edited. Given how long it takes to make a film, it’s a blessing that it can be cut down to two hours or less.

Oh, in front of the Red Lion, there are some people hanging about like a bunch of extras. It looks like their tourist coach has broken down and they’ve been herded off the bus, and are having to wait while it gets fixed.

Just like the time when my bus home from school – it was a trolley-bus – they had these two arms on the top connected to a pair of overhead electric wires. Trouble was, they were frequently coming off. One day the trolleybus went round the Beehive pub corner and lost contact when crossing the ‘points’. So we had to get off and wait while the conductor used this great long bamboo pole with a hook on the end for re-engaging the arm, so that we could continue our journey.

But no overhead wires here – and no triple-decker buses either. Remember that crazy bus in the Harry Potter movies? Hogwarts school was here – well, part of it. In the Abbey cloisters, that room with the huge cauldron. I was quite young when the Harry Potter books appeared, year after year. I used to queue up in the street until midnight, waiting for the book to go on sale. There was quite a cameradie with those queuing – well, we all had a similar interest in the goings on at Hogwarts, so we were talking to each other, speculating about what the next book would be about – and of course, we were way off – none of us could imagine the story the way JK Rowling did.

Lacock Abbey Cauldron

Oh, I think the coach is mended now, they’re all getting on board. I wonder what they made of Lacock. It’s just an ordinary village, a place where people live. It’s not magical, nor is it the nineteenth century here. No one is wearing crinolines or pointed hats, or driving a barouche-landau.

I suppose each visitor makes sense of their visit in their own way – connecting with a fictional past, or a fantasy reality, an escape from their everyday lives. They leave with their memories, connections made, scenes identified and ticked off. When they see Lacock in another movie, they’ll have a sense of recognition: “I’ve been there.” Or maybe there were simply here on a guided tour and knew nothing of its literary connections; it’s just “that place where the coach broke down and we had to wait.”

© 2017 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Visit to the Sea

A visit to the seaside on a rather grey Christmas Eve.
Standing at the edge of the land gives you a sense of perspective. On the rocks at Birling GapA lone visitor stares out to sea, standing on the rocks at Birling Gap. Looking round to the west, there is a splendid view of the Seven Sisters. A heap of broken chalk from a recent rockfall lies at the base of the cliff. Nothing is as substantial as you would like to think.

Seven Sisters from Birling GapEvery wave is different; change is relentless:

The Sea at SeafordThe colourful beach huts along the seafront at Seaford provide a literal sense of perspective.

Beach Huts Seaford
© 2016 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shop Window

Around the corner stands a cassocked choir
Rejoicing far too soon for Christmas day,
The tune a dirge: a manger far away –
You make escape, their singing is quite dire.
That birth no longer private, as voyeur
This is no place to dally or to pray,
But worship Father Christmas in his sleigh
All buttoned up in red and white attire,
Surrounded by his reindeer, bells a-jingle
All harnessed, earthbound, blocking up the street
Creating traffic chaos. People mingle
Much closer than they’d ever want to meet
Those perfect strangers – that’s unless they’re single,
Seeking love to make their lives complete.

How shopping clutters up their true desire.
Their passions loosed, they spend each shortening day
Exploring every store, in their essay
To find the perfect gift. We must admire
The doggedness of each determined buyer,
The money god they never disobey;
It’s next year’s bills that they will have to pay,
Regretting all that stuff they did acquire.
Step back to see this from a different angle:
It’s letting go that circumvents defeat.
No good can come of nerves a-jingle-jangle
Or traipsing round – that hurts both head and feet.
This Christmas lark – it’s just one bloody wangle.
Sans meaning: it’s a mash up – bittersweet.

So tune into your heart; you can’t deny a
Twitchy inkling something’s not okay.
You’ve lived all year in work, in love, in play,
So take a pause. Come closer to the fire
And tell yourself, “Right now it’s time to try a
-nother way of being.” What d’you say?
Imbibe this Christmas gift, not led astray
By baubles; aspire for things much higher.
That tawdry stuff, it’s just not worth a candle,
Don’t fall for fads that make you seem effete.
To change your life you must turn the handle,
Start the motor, be in the driving seat.
The Mystery unfolds, and something grand’ll
Spread peace and joy throughout Life’s balance-sheet.

© 2016 Peter Young

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Changing Seasons

Over the last few months I have been visiting the National Trust property of Hidcote Manor Garden. I thought it was time to look back at how the garden and the surrounding area has changed since the summer, as it beds down for winter.Coloured Leaves Once plants have finished flowering, they retreat into the soft, soggy state of winter regeneration, and sometimes do this with a final show of colour. I’m not sure what this was earlier, but it attracted my eye in an otherwise dark, earthy environment.

Hidcote Bathing Pool 2I found the bubble wrap on the Fountain quite amusing, especially as the water was still squirting out. Here’s what’s under wraps:

Hidcote Bathing Pool 1The field has seen many changes over the last few months. During the summer it was high with wheat. Track across the field 1Now it’s ploughed over ready for next year’s crop.Track across the field 2And here’s the view looking up the Old Track that leads from the carpark. This is a far more subdued picture than the my entry ftwo months ago.

Hidcote Track© 2016 Peter Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized