Hluhluwe Umfolozi, feeding lions and a rather intangible abstract notion.

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©PaulWhite

I was asked recently, by Francis de Aguilar, a writer friend, what first caused me to “Become interested in African wildlife.

 

A simple question.

I told him it was after visiting South Africa, particularly the time I spent in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. 

However, Francis’s question stayed in my mind; although I answered him, it left a nagging doubt in my mind I was wrong.

I was wrong.

After pondering for a few days, the truth unravelled itself. I now knew the correct answer.

My interest in Africa and its diverse multitude of wildlife was first stoked by reading the novels of Wilbur Smith.

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©PaulWhite

Back in the early seventies, I picked up a rather dog-eared and worn copy of ‘When the Lion Feeds’, which I devoured within two days. I followed that book by purchasing ‘The Dark of the Sun’, again read within a few days.

I was about sixteen years old and, for the first time, ‘hooked’ on a particular author.

I read all of Wilbur Smith’s books up to the 1991 publication of ‘Elephant Song’. My favourite book, (excluding any of the ‘Courtney or Ballantyne Novels’) must be ‘Eagle in the Sky’…or ‘Cry Wolf’…or ‘A Sparrow Falls’….or…

But I digress.

 

The real answer to the question posed to me by Francis is; it was reading these books when I was a young man that stimulated my imagination, made me think about the heat, the vastness, the veld, the bush and, of course, the animals of Africa.

For years, I carried my imaginings of the world Wilbur Smith planted in my head with his words, until one day I had the opportunity to visit Africa myself.

I was not disappointed.

The continent is mind-bogglingly vast. The scenery, the smell, the sun, the animals, the people, everything exceeded my expectations, bettered those imaginings I held onto for so long.

This I find is something rare; very few places ever exceed our own imaginative conceptions.

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©PaulWhite

I have returned to Africa many times, to different areas, different countries within this vast dark continent.

You may have heard it said, “Africa captures, not only your heart but soul and once you have been, you can never really leave.”

These are some of the most honest words ever spoken.

I am here now, but part of me will forever remain in Africa.

Now, being a writer, I cannot leave an article like this with just one conclusion when I know there are always several stories to be told about everything.

Therefore, I would like you to also consider this, from Wilbur Smith’s point of view, or maybe, it is just my own interpretation of what I think his view may, or could, be.

Who knows? But I’ll write my thoughts out anyway.

I wonder if dear old Wilbur thought of me when he wrote his first novel?

I don’t mean me as an individual, as a single person but as a conceptual being. I wonder if Wilbur thought he may influence some young man, somewhere in the world, to fall in love with Africa as he typed out his very first paragraph of ‘When the Lion Feeds’ way back in the early 1960’s. (The book was first published in 1964).

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©PaulWhite

Then, my thoughts ask the very same question of myself.

Do I have an image, a conceptual ‘personage’ in my mind who may, one day, be influenced by my own work, by my writings, by the tiny little black shapes, these strange runes of ink I scattered across countless pages?

The answer is yes, I do have such a notion, albeit a rather intangible abstract.

Which leaves you to ask yourself the same, do you?

Think about it carefully, do you?

If you would like to take part in making my rather intangible abstract notion a reality, then please start by reading ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’ a collection of thought-provoking stories which are not quite as you may think they may be…

Just click the cover image.  WtIPV1small

Thank you, Paul.  

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Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who do not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to alight.

In the waiting room a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

That is how I remember railway stations. Or at least that is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not old enough to have had such an experience. I was not born into that era. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend the truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as the rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say that these were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of traveling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with those few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world that will captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know that is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’ when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream. Most places were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many have not said goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is a fact that stations are a place we all hold dear, because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within that simple wistful yearning for a time and place that we have never been.

Thank you for reading this rambling. I hope that these few randomly scribbled words have given you food for thought, stimulated your muse or even simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.

 


To read more of my work please feel free to visit A Little more Fiction http://wp.me/5od8T

or Further Ramblings http://wp.me/5njAU

If you enjoy a great book why not check out Sneak Peek where you can browse and read excerpts from a plethora of books from fantastic authors  http://wp.me/5sgTb

Naked thoughts in New York City

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Restless.

I throw back the white cotton sheet.

Laying naked, letting the air circulate over my skin hoping for coolness.

No relief.

Padding barefoot I cross the room.

Sliding the glass doors open, stepping onto the balcony.

The slight breeze a welcome freshness.

Looking down, way down below,

I see the cars snaking through the city,

Yellow cars.

All cars are taxis at night, cabs running to and fro,

Making frivolous journeys for inconsequential people.

I see dots, little dots moving irregularly.

They are humans, tiny individuals,

Way below.

A fire truck passes, lights flashing,

Multiple glints against the glass buildings.

The deep honk of the fire trucks horn billows,

Suffocating all other sounds for that instant.

I look out, around me.

Towers.

Reflections, light and glass.

I see inside lighted rooms, empty offices, lounges, bedrooms.

Nobody has curtains, nobody draws their blinds.

Seduced by the height, blinded by reflection,

They think they are obscured from vision.

But I can see them, all of them.

I am standing in darkness, hidden in the shadows, looking out.

One pair of a thousand eyes, from a thousand dark places,

Windows, balconies, rooftops, all staring at the city,

Watching it move, pulsate, vibrate, gyrate.

Who, I wonder, is watching me as I stand here naked,

Breathing in the night air, cooling my skin.

I do not care.

Look all you want, feast your eyes,

Fantasise, ogle, masturbate if you wish, I do not know you, nor you me.

Even if you are there, in one of those thousand windows,

Or upon one of a thousand rooftops, if you exist anywhere but in my imagination,

I still do not care.

Another siren, echoes reverberating up the sides of the towers,

Lights flashing, reflected, refracted, distorted in the mirror glass.

I turn around and pad barefoot back to the bed.

The faint light falls on her skin, she sleeping with one leg out,

Twisted in the sheet I discarded, the other splayed wide and her arms akimbo.

Hair pouring over the pillows, a delta of soft threads.

There is no room for me now.

I do not want to wake her, or disturb her slumber.

I am not tired, I have no desire to sleep.

I grab a drink from the kitchen and go back onto the balcony,

This time I sit, open my laptop and light a cigarette.

I write this, my random thoughts of dark recesses, prying eyes,

Mirrored glass walls, and yellow taxis,

I write of my sleepless night in New York City.

END

© Paul White 2014

FFCO‎0911‎2014

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