Documenting your life

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It may seem a strange title for a post, but it is one which reflects much of what our modern society is about.

With the event of digital photography and smart phones, far more of our daily lives are recorded, most often in a haphazard fashion. A jumble of images stored on SD cards, memory sticks and in a long scrolling stream of incoherent, often unconnected messages.

Many vanish when we upgrade our phones or computers, memory cards are lost, external hard drives become corrupt or obsolete. Some files may be stored ‘in the cloud’ or ‘on social media’ at least for now, for the time being, until it all changes once again.

Nothing is secure from loss, deletion, corruption or becoming obsolete. Such is the way of modern technology, such is modern life. A simple power outage can render even the most expensive, cutting edge technological gadget useless, in less than a Nano second.

Books, on the other hand, tend to outlast anything else when it comes to keeping their content safe. Libraries, universities, country estate houses and museums, all hold venerable tomes from hundreds of years past. Volumes of information and knowledge that do not need an external, or rechargeable, power source.

This is why you need TOAD Publishing in your life. oie_transparent (5)

TOAD is a specialist publisher, who concentrate their efforts on glossy hardcover books, generally known as ‘Coffee Table’ books.

What is a Coffee Table Book?

 

In theory, you can put any book you like on your coffee table, but not all books inspire conversation. A Coffee Table book is usually an oversized hardcover book. It is designed to be displayed somewhere prominent, often on a sideboard, a visible bookshelf, or maybe a Coffee Table!

These books help to entertain friends, family and guests. They stimulate conversation, allow people to see what the interests of the owner, such as the arts, photography, fashion, style, travel, and family.

They are statement pieces, works of art, decorative and entertaining.

Now TOAD have taken the coffee table book one step further, one step beyond ubiquitous perception.

Enter the Heirloom Book.

 

TOAD create personal, unique books chronicling major events in your life, the moments you like to keep as a memento, to share with family and friends, or preserve as an heirloom.

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They will turn your photos into a glossy wedding album, or a chronicle your pregnancy, childbirth and beyond, to a child’s first birthday. They will document a life project, a holiday and more.

In the past, TOAD have created a record of theatre production, from foundation to the first night performance and city art students, as they created a street mural for the council arts project.

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These books are not about recording the past, they are about recording your life now, on the present moment, which will soon be the past, a too easily and too often, lost past.

When it comes to documeting your life, do not leave it to the haphazardness of chance, keep your memories safe, keep them in a Heirloom Book from TOAD.

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Heirloom Books, work for businesses too. Document special projects, feature successes stories and special events, like the annual conferences, share them with your suppliers, customers, or staff, in this wonderfully unique way.

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TOAD Heirloom Books enhance the perception of esteem to reception areas, hotel lobbies, waiting rooms, guest rooms, private libraries and, of course, on your coffee table.

Heirloom Books are full colour, unless otherwise specified, glossy, perfect bound, photographic and/or illustrated, hardcover publications. The interior layout and covers are designed by our in-house studio, PeeJay Designs and printed by our partners in the Netherlands, from where the books are distributed worldwide.

Put a TOAD on your coffee table?

Ask us to create yours at,  goo.gl/9SzH5O   

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TOAD Publishing, in association with CQ International Publishing.

NOTE: all images shown are for illustration purposes only. 

 

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The existential existence of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Once again it has been too long since I wrote a meaningful post for these Ramblings; but life has that way of knocking you off course when you least expect it.

Although we should really anticipate that to happen, because that is what life is; a series of random, arbitrary events one after another.

Some of those events affect us instantaneously, shock us into immediate reaction. Others slowly reveal themselves through a string of smaller incidents which accumulate, gradually pushing us to a point where we are forced to take notice, to take action.

Yet the most disturbing are those which only reveal themselves after the event. The sly, stealthy spone2little beggars that inexorable invade our lives, like fine plant roots microscopically threading their way through solid concrete, destabilising and destroying it progressively yet unnoticed, until it shatters or crumbles.

This is where many of my thoughts have been over the past few weeks.

You see, even though I have been busy publishing, designing, writing and doing all sorts of whatnots, my mind, or some sections of it, have been chewing over and considering the world, life, the universe and the deeper meaning of SpongeBob SquarePants existential existence.

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All of which brings me to this:

So, there I was one morning, standing in the bathroom and looking into the mirror. This was not a vanity thing; (I was considering if I could get away another day without shaving!) when I looked at myself directly.

Now, let me explain what I mean about the term ‘directly’.

spone4Generally, when we look in the mirror we are not looking at ourselves, we are looking at and for parts of ourselves. We are looking for stray hairs, grey hairs, wrinkles, blemishes, spots, pimples, dark patches and crow’s feet and so on. It is not often that we take that step back, at least in the mental perspective, to look at ourselves as a whole.

 

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Once more, we are too distracted by our ever expanding waistline, or drooping…(jowls?), the slight hunching of our shoulders or offset bend of our neck. Our eyes are taken from our whole. We fail to see ourselves in our entirety.

But that is what I did that morning. For the first time in an absolute age I saw myself. I knew the reflection was me, I accepted that.

Yet I had difficulty in recognising the fact.

You see life’s events have caught up with me. Those sly, stealthy little beggars, the ones that inexorable invade our lives, like fine plant roots microscopically threading their way through solid concrete, had worked their threadlike tendrils into every conceivable part of my body, with perhaps, the exclusion of my eyes.

Yes, it is natural. It is what life does. It is called aging and it will/is happening to us all.

But that is NOT where I am going with this Rambling.

I am going here…

Looking in that mirror was a point of reference for my personal diary. A mark placed upon my life’s calendar. It was a recognition point.

My life, and I suspect yours, are full of these reference points; the moments when you realise that one stage, one phase of your life is over and another begun.

I can think back and recall many such stages. Most like this one, unrealised until after the change has occurred.

I can do much the same with my writing. In fact, they have often gone hand in hand with a weird synchronicity. But then again that is, on consideration, not so strange.

You see, I am not the type of writer who focuses solely on one genre; I write more from the foundation of heart, of feeling, of whatever may be blowing my frock up just now. Which is probably why I have so many works in progress at any given time.

DovesHard3tttAs an example I have published works ranging from a fictional novel about C&Vfront1abduction and love, to books of emotive and disturbing poetry, through to short stories of crime and non-fictional historic chronicles.

I love writing fiction as much as I do non-fiction, such as this Rambling. But I can still trace the changes in tempo, in cadence and style of each period of time, each phase of my life in which they were written.

My writings and words reflect the beat of my heart, the pulse of my soul and my temperament. They have changed and aged over time as has my body.

Which brings me to a question.

How is my mind?

Is that as clear and agile as it once was, or are the threads of invasive destruction even now winding their unseen fibres within?

I wonder.

I know that, at least until the next time I look at myself in the mirror, I shall continue to write, to leave a trail of my existence behind, a legacy of my being.

I am, for now, ready for any event life may wish to throw my way, just as I am in my continued ponderance behind the theory of SpongeBob’s existence.

Feel free to check out my website 

It’s been a long walk home.

Many of you will be aware that I am (almost) at the publishing stage for a book I have been working on for a little over three years. The book is titled ‘Life in the Warzone’ it is about the effects that living in an area of conflict has on people, be they combatants or innocent civilians, even children.

During my research and interviews (from Sarajevo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, and the Ukraine) I often come across essays, poems and other forms of accounts which expresses personal trauma.

Here is one such piece I would like to share with you.

This is not my work. I take no credit for these words.

 


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It’s been a long walk home.

(Author unknown)

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It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

I’m right back there again,

lost in that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years,

When will it end?

Every night it’s that same damn firefight,

We lost Sam and Bill,

Tag’em and bag’em,

we were told,

we’d never seen em again.

But every night, it’s their faces that I see,

and I ask myself why wasn’t it me,

my name should be etched in that cold black wall of stone,

It’s been a long walk home,

I’m almost there.

.

But I hear that chopper so near,

Raining tracers down,

Can’t they see us here?

Marine down, corpsman up,

But silence is all I hear.

Why am I the only one left,

Screaming GOD get me outta here?

It’s been forty years,

I still see that day,

We were almost there.

.

The edge of the jungle,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

Tag’em n bag’em the list goes on,

To many to remember,

It was their last firefight.

I’m the only one left,

Lost and running looking for my way out.

It’s been a long walk home.

.

My family, don’t understand

When I say that this can’t be real

Just let me wake up one time and this not be,

But it’s that same damn firefight every night,

I wake up shaking like a leaf in the wind,

Tell’n my wife that it was just a chill,

Not that rage to kill,

But she sees it in my eyes,

That same damn firefight,

It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there.

.

I was telling her good-bye,

When she realized I didn’t fear death anymore,

It was my life I was about to take,

She cried out for me to come out of that jungle, out into the daylight,

Think of the kids and what this would do,

She took me by the hand helping me make that first step,

Coming out of that jungle into the daylight,

It’s been a long walk home.

.

Forty years and I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

but this time it’s a younger brother yelling out,

trying to find his way out into the daylight,

Out of that smoky fog of that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years for me,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

It’s their pain that I feel,

Knowing that this damn firefight is not real,

I’m here to help lead my younger brothers out,

Not to walk forty years as I,

Lost in that same damn firefight of PTSD!


If you would like to know more about my forthcoming book ‘Life in the Warzone’ please visit my website and look on the ‘works in progress’ page. http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Thank you, Paul.

The ‘Dirtiest’ word of them all.

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It may come as a bit of a surprise, (to those of you who know that I have written the most explicit adult erotic book ever, ‘Red Satin’), that I think the dirtiest word is one which has absolutely nothing to do with sex, sexuality, licentiousness, or swearing.

For those who are more familiar with my mainstream Novels the shock will not be quite so great, I am sure.

That said I am certain that I shall have to explain why I have chosen the word ‘Conventional‘ as the worst word in the English language.

I will start by saying that we all, or at least a great many of us, like to think that we are unique individuals, a bit off beat, a little crazy, even wacky at times, but the truth the majority of people, and that most probably includes you, are not.

I agree that we all have moments where we do things that we, or our friends, may consider stupid, out of character, or down right idiotic.

Sometimes we embarrass ourselves in public, sometimes we regret certain acts that we perform, but this is not unique, crazy or out of the ordinary. Far from it in fact, it is ‘normal‘ behaviour, behaviour that is accepted as pretty much standard in our modern society and therefor it is conventional.

Some of you, I am sure, are already rebelling at my last statement, how dare I call you, of even begin to describe your last act of stupidity, as conventional?

I am glad you are thinking like that, because this is one of the reasons I dislike this word, just as you are now beginning to do now.

That said, I have just scratched the surface of my reasons, so I shall continue with my explanation while you muse over the quandary of being, or not, a conventional conformist.

conventional

kənˈvɛnʃ(ə)n(ə)l/ Submit adjective

  1. based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.

“a conventional morality had dictated behaviour” synonyms: normal, standard, regular, ordinary, usual, traditional, typical.

The next point I will examine is why, if you are so bloody special, do you then conform to societies conventional practices?

   When you had your last job interview how wild and wacky were you then?

I bet you presented yourself as a very straight laced conventional human being in that instance, am I right?

When did you last go to eat in a restaurant wearing only underwear belonging to the opposite sex?article-0-039D8C95000005DC-403_468x586

My bet is never………………my point, well my point is that to have done either of those things is considered, by current convention, wrong.

You would not have got the position you wanted if the interviewers did not consider your mental state within conventionally accepted boundaries.

Chances are you would not have been allowed entry into the restaurant, maybe even been arrested for indecent exposure in a public place!

My point has two distinct facets, one is that of financial gain/loss.

Having control over our personal income is one way we are conditioned to accept convention. The government, banking and financial institutions use fiscal policy to keep the general public, including you, under control and help to ensure that we work within the conventional framework they have engineered.

That is why you acted so meekly at that interview.

The second facet is peer pressure.

As those about us, including family, friends, colleagues and associates have been conditioned by the state, and the media, to accept what they wish us to believe is ‘normal‘ or ‘regular‘ behaviour, the threat of losing our status among our peers is often greater than the loss itself.

image  This social pressure is also present in the second of the scenarios outlined. Loosing friends, or their respect, just because you wanted to eat sushi while dancing naked in the civic fountain may be appealing for your inner wish to be free, but under the domination of conventional social interactivity it is a no no!

The Law, be it enforced by local authorities, state or county police, is just another control over our freedoms and liberties that give the majority of us no option but to follow the demands of this infectious and deliberating virus termed convention.

Are you beginning now to see why I think this word is bad, or to be honest, why this words definition is dirty?

   So what of those / us who defy convention?

Hobo’s, dropouts, weirdo’s, perverts, hippies, off their rockers, crazies, are all names I have heard people, and that means you too, call those that have raised two fingers to convention. You know, the people who acted the way you wished you had the courage to act.

OK, so sometimes one of these names may be correctly applied to a certain individual, but then that individual is not one of the ones I am referring to here.

Here I am speaking about intelligent civilised human beings who by conscious effort, situation or downright fortune, (good or bad), have elected to disassociate themselves as much from conventional life as is possible. I say possible because even those who withdraw far away from society are still, inevitably, affected by the modern world in some degree, at some point.

However the majority of those /us who choose alternative lifestyles are not looking to turn our backs on everyday life, and not looking to hide away from social contact.

While we seek to live our lives in association with others with the same, or similar mind-set. We will blend in with the ordinary ‘vanilla’ folks on the street, we act and intermingle with you, and yet hold a key to a world where riches and dreams are the freedoms and expressions of the mind, body, soul, and spirit.

It is a world which when found, few wish to leave. This is true uniqueness, true individuality of character, (and not just occasionally singing out of key during a drunken stumble home on a wet and rainy night).

Conventional means living under the will of those that control society, this is why I think that conventional is a dirty and disgusting word.

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Thank you for reading.

To find out more about me visit my website 🙂

http://fluffybunnypj.wix.com/paul-white