Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a novel of hope. Hope plucked from the depths of tragedy and horror. 

Its innovative use of language, genius work on sociocultural discord, and cultural integration, engages the reader with the hope of global peace.

The story unfolds on an ancient Greek Island. Its beauty bespoilt by the terrifying events of an unfolding war. Love and death entwined; hearts and bodies broken; lives and hopes kindled... 

The novel is written in the third and the first person narrative, which helps challenge the readers’ point of view and immerse them in the novel. 

I found myself closer to the contemporary wider political issues events when reading it in the third person narrative, and then seeing the world through ‘L’Omosessuale Guercio’ (De Bernières, 1994, pp.26-29)  or Captain Corelli’s eyes (De Bernières, 1994, pp.303-307) in the first person narrative. The different perspectives developed richness in the story. 

‘Prime Minister Metaxas slumped forlornly in his favourite armchair in the Villa Kifisia […]’ (De Bernières, 1994, p.30) is written in the third person as the novel looks at the decisions the Greek leader had to take about Mussolini and, on a personal basis, about his daughter. De Bernières uses a blend of focalisation and narrative voice in the free indirect thought, to bring us closer to the PM’s thought process without breaking the narrative ‘She just doesn’t understand me ’ (1994, p.30)(Wales, 2011, pp. 175-177). This innovative use of language engages the reader’s thinking and, perhaps for some, their empathy. 

‘With Lulu he never quite knew what the truth was;’ (De Bernières, 1994, p30). This idea of deception runs across the novel, and it is rather apt that it is also evident in Prime Minister Metaxas' life. Even the common soldier knew that deception was abound. ‘I am not a cynic, but I do know that history is the propaganda of the victors. I know that if we win the war there will be shocking stories of British atrocities, […]’. Real history 'ought to consist only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it', informs us the gigantic omosessuale Guercio (De Bernières, 1994, pp. 39-40) (Fletcher, 1999, online). In retrospect we know that following the victory by the Allies, only shocking stories of Italian and Axis atrocities were reported. It could be argued that perhaps the misrepresentation or omission of some events stems from the fact that they were written by the victors, which further highlights the theme of deception. This is genius work, because it deals with the realities of life, not the glorification of victory (Rushdie,1983, p4, in Prescott, 2005, p.394).

The events take place on the remote Greek Island of Cephallonia, who some believe was where Odysseus had his palace (De Bernières, 1994, pp. 5-6). This is a place full of rich Greek history, occupied by the descendants of a heroic figure. In the opening pages we are introduced to Dr Iannis, who treats both humans and animals on the island (De Bernières, 1994, p.1). De Bernières introduces Greek lexis, ’a certain iatric mystique’ (De Bernières, 1994, p.2), which enlivens the readers’ senses by engaging them in a multilingual experience. Dr Iannis also speaks in French to his uneducated patients, when he says ‘un embarras de petit pois.’ Their lack of education is apparent, when Dr Iannis uses the sesquipedalian ‘papilionaceous’ and Stamatis’s wife Kyria pretends to understand him (De Bernières, 1994, pp.3-4) . Kyria is the Greek word for Mrs, and its use increases the novel’s semantic density (Carter 1983, pp.82-83), by creating a contrast between a monolingual text, and a novel enriched with international words. The novel displays innovative use of language. It also challenges the readers on a multilingual level, whilst giving them clues to follow the plot. 

The book is about stale love dying, and forbidden one growing during the occupation of the Greek Island by the Italians. Perhaps a metaphor of the old values giving way for the new post-war era.

Dr Iannis's daughter Pelagia ‘represents the island of Cephallonia, and the feminine innocence and vulnerability of Greece; her sufferings, losses and violations are theirs’ (Cox, 2002, online). The invasion of Greece by Italy is akin to the penetration of the female by the male. Given the history between Greece and Italy (even the Romans downplayed Cleopatra’s Hellenic roots), it is more like a psychological confrontation with a cultural mother, rather than a wartime invasion (Van Watson, nd, online). 

Pelagia was engaged to the Greek resistance fighter Mandras, but fell in love with the Italian occupier, Captain Corelli. (De Bernières, 1994, pp.342-344). Using the free indirect thought (Wales, 2011, pp. 175-177), Corelli reveals his feelings: ‘How like a woman is a mandolin […] lust as I see Pelagia.’ […] because we are brother and sister before she is Greek or I am the invader.’ ‘At night […] Pelagia comes, undressing, and I see her breasts are the backs of mandolins moulded in Napoli’ (De Bernières, 1994, pp. 303-304). Pelagia is like music, and music is like a woman. Love flourishes in both. This is genius work, because it shows the tragedy of war during which forbidden love grows amongst political and war enemies. Love that can mean death when it traverses cultures. It engages the inward consciousness of the reader on a romantic level (Lawrence ([1928] 1990) p.105, in Prescott, 2005, p.394). The innovative use of language creates imagery to show that love-making and music are similarly passionate affairs. 

When the Germans attacked the Italians and took over Cephalonia's occupation, the Greeks missed the Italian occupiers. Their music, inefficient military  police, integration, and flirtation was replaced by the German 
war-machine, who pillaged with brutality (De Bernières, 1994, pp.438-439). In November 1944, Lieutenant Günter returned to Germany feeling ashamed of his army’s violent acts. Outside Pelagia’s house he left a gramophone and a selection of Marlene Dietrich records. He also placed among the things a photograph of him wearing an Italian cap, embraced with Corelli who was wearing a woman’s hat with artificial fruit. Both appeared joyfully drunk. On the back of it there was a poem by Goethe’s Faustus:

Meine Ruh ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich finde sie nimmer
und nimmermehr.

Which translates as:

My peace is gone,
My heart is sore [lit. "heavy"],
I will find it never
and nevermore.

Günter had written underneath in Italian ‘God be with you, I will remember you always’ (De Bernières, 1994, pp.440-441). How ironic is to miss being occupied by the original occupiers, and the leader of the Germans writing in Italian that he would miss the Greek Pelagia after her being beaten without reason (De Bernières, 1994, p.440). Perhaps Günter felt he had lost his soul like Faustus. This is genius work, innovative use of language, and engages the reader both emotionally and intellectually. 

In the final chapter Pelagia, the Greek maiden, is the one swearing in Italian at Corelli, the Italian retired Captain, who has lived in Athens for twenty-five years, and has become a Greek citizen. Corelli had been visiting Cephalonia every year, checking up on Pelagia but did not have the courage to approach her. Oh, the irony of the once occupier fearing those he previously occupied. 

Corelli, now in his seventies, rides off on his motorcycle with Pelagia holding on as pillion.  

A new life together (De Bernières, 1994, pp.518-533). 

This is genius work. Their interchange of cultural identification is years ahead of contemporary thinking. 

The innovative use international words is written in such a way that it engages the reader, who will probably need not look them up to understand them; especially the vulgar ones.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has won a place in my heart because of its innovative use of language, its portrayal of the political realities of war, its sociocultural issues, the way it foregrounds the emotions of the occupiers, and the Faustian demise of Günter. It is genius. It deals with complex human issues during tragic times, and engages the reader in a refreshing way, but ends with the hope that history will ‘not’ repeat itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy  (De Bernières, 1994, p.441). 

Hope truly dies last...

BA (Hons) to Masters in English

After five years of study, tantrums, and tears, I was awarded my Honours degree in English Language and Literature, and I am now entitled to letters after my name.
Conn Bardi BA(Hons) ELL (Open). 
It has not been and easy period, with full-time shift work, having to manage personal events, and life's ups and downs.
Some of the things I learnt along the way are that some tutors are more supportive than others, and that the more work you do by yourself the easier it is somehow. The latter is probably a good lesson, and a firm stepping stone onto my postgraduate research for a Masters in English, which I have decided to commence in October. I matriculated with The Open University, because I know how the institution operates, where the libraries are, and what support I can receive. Better the devil you know I guess. 
It is exciting and scary at the same time, and not something I was planning to do after five years of studying for an undergraduate degree. 
Indeed, my last BA module was not the most enjoyable one, yet, on reflection, it taught me a lot more than just modular studies. The distant, in more than just geographical terms, relationship with my tutor equipped me with the mental tenacity for the more lonely existence as a post-graduate student. Whilst my MA subject of research may not be directly related to my profession, the self-initiated, and independent research required bears a veracious reflection of my working life. 
BA (Hons) to Masters - Open UniversityAt this point I would exalt the premise that the study of English is an all encompassing subject that relates to most career required skills. It helps develop a strength of argument based on facts, analytical skills of text (oral and written), and the creative ability to communicate effectively on many levels; the latter two being closely related, because to add positively to any exchange one must have listened and analysed what has been said (or read what has been writen with the same required skill). 

As a final thought, I recall the trepidation I felt back in 2012, when I set off on my journey to my second degree (Hons this time), yet here I am moving onto yet higher educational planes, and cannot help but wonder where this new ground will lead me...

Open University Masters in English Part 1

My Journey to my First Marathon - Loch Ness 2016

10th February 2012 - the beginning of my diagnosis with fibromyalgia
25th September 2016 - I ran my first marathon in Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
Loch Ness Marathon 2016
© Conn Bardi
My journey into running took off in February 2016. I cycled a lot up to then, but it used to leave me tired - both physically and mentally. Physically because it simply did not agree with me. Mentally, because I had to deal with traffic, cars, roundabouts. With the aggression on the roads on the increase, going for a ride became a chore. So my running jaunts in my old pair of trainers became more frequent. The jog round the block grew into a commuter-run. The commuter run turned into a longer trail round my town on my rest days. In time, the distances that left me sounding like a nuisance caller, were not challenging enough. My body was growing stronger, my energy levels were rising, and finally I was not dodging cars. The bike was left parked and a new pair of trainers took its place. I learnt about parkruns, gait analysis, and wondered why 6.2 mile races were called 10k. 

6th March 2016 - I ran my first ever race. A10k circuit round Milton Keynes and collected my first of many medals of 2016. I still remember the anticipation and trepidation I felt waiting at the start line. Will I make it round the course? I did and I felt like a hero. 
Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
John MacDonald 
© Conn Bardi 

I arrived in Inverness on the 23rd September. The Highlanders are unusually friendly. Well, unusual for a Londoner. Pleasant, warm and helpful. Cars would stop at main roads to let pedestrians cross the road; and not try to run them over whilst they were doing so. People would stop and chat. Greeting a stranger in public was not perceived as a public declaration of insanity; unlike London!

Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
Beauly Firth, Scorguie - 
© Conn Bardi 
I quickly settled into a cozy Airbnb ran by John and Jane. John was a true Gael from The Outer Hebrides, and a professional musician playing the bagpipes. I saw a true Sgian-dubh and listened to the sound of the bagpipes over breakfast. It cannot get anymore traditional. I had the pleasure of enjoying some rich conversations with John over a few common interests. Jane, a warm and travelled Glaswegian, provided me with vegan food and fresh fruit. The peaceful and picturesque environ of Scorguie, could not prepare me for the views of Loch Ness. The other room in the house had been booked by Maria and Rodrigo, who arrived on the 24th. Maria, a Spanish lady living in London, was running her fifth marathon. 

25th September 2016 - M-Day.
I beat the alarm to it. Actually I don't think I slept much that night. I had run marathon and 30 mile distances during training, but this was the real deal. I was off to see Nessie. 

My objectives were:
  1. Finish the marathon
  2. Not to walk a single step 

The temperature for the day was forecast to be around 14º. Still, I took a bin-liner just in case I need an extra layer whilst waiting at the starting point. It proved a wise decision. After a breakfast of raw oats soaked overnight in soy milk, plenty of Vicks vapour rub and Vaseline on my feet, blue t-shirt and shorts (blue for Scotland after all), and my 4mm Skechers, I was good to go. Rodrigo, Maria's husband, dropped us off at the pick up point. 

The coach ride from the Ice-Ring next to Bught Park took around an hour to reach the start line. The views en route were majestic. Along the way we saw Urquhart Castle and Fort Augustus. The start line was between Fort Augustus and Foyers on General Wade's Military Road the B862. At the start point there was nothing but wilderness; pure unadulterated nature. A couple of ewes and a ram nearby looked puzzled as coach-fulls of runners were sprinting for a pee. We had been told to use the porta-loos in case we upset the locals. As far as I know none of the sheep complained. The bag drop-off was well organised, and there was music and entertainment, whilst we waited for the start-gun. It was a  windy and crisp morning. I was chatting to a fireman from Orkney, who told me he was feeling the chill. Yet there were some other runners in just a t-shirt. 

The start of the race was an unforgettable moment. I was taking my initial steps of my first marathon. On the other side of the arch, we were met by the local cadet bagpipers.

Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
Loch Ness Marathon 2016
© Conn Bardi
A very fitting way to set off on our 26.2 mile journey. After the initial chatter, all you could hear for a while was the rhythmic footfall of runners trying to get into their own rhythm. Maria and I were nattering away about The Athens marathon, the marathon in Rome and other runs. I took her advice, on hydration and kept taking little sips of water very often.

The route followed the B852 down to the edge of the loch at Foyers. From mile 6, we were running alongside Loch Ness. The true beauty of the area cannot be captured by a camera. There were houses along the way overlooking the loch. How serene must it be to wake up in such a natural environment. With a steady cadence, I was easily clocking up the miles. It felt more like a Sunday run; only the air was much cleaner. Wherever there were houses, the local people would be out cheering us. I even met a runner from my local club that had retired to the Highlands. Jealous..? Me..? …well maybe a little. There was a stretch of road that was lined with pine trees either side; Christmas trees as I called them. It was truly a picture postcard. At mile 11 we saw Urquhart Castle again, only this time it was on the other side of the loch. The route was undulating, but nothing too severe. At mile 12 we were greeted with Clif shots, which I went to take but didn't grip well. A kind runner behind me grabbed two and passed me one, save me having to run back and lose my rhythm. There is a unique camaraderie amongst long distance runners. We can feel each other's pleasure in pain. Talking of pain, we had been warned about the steep ascend at mile 17. Mile 17 came and went.  Maria and me looked at each other with amusement. It felt like a long shallow ramp. Having conquered that we carried on at a good steady pace towards the left bend in the road. And as we came out of the bend into mile 19...

Fiddle sticks! (Well, perhaps something more Anglo-Saxon was uttered…). This was not a steep hill. From where I was (running) it was like the travelator from the TV show. There was not a single runner running. 'Come on,' I said to Maria. 'Small steps and we can do this.' I was leaning so far forward and was at such an angle on the tips of my toes as to make a Swiss long ski-jumper jealous of my pose. I am sure I went past a sign that read 'Wee hilly bit;' I tried to laugh but the oxygen was much needed in my legs and lungs. I can't remember the exact mile marker, but at some point the climb ended; and so did my legs, and my energy - but I was still running. Two caffeine gels later, fairly close to each other, and I was moving along nicely again. We were not that far now. The distance of a couple of parkruns and the bling would be mine. The sign on the side of the road this time read: 'It's all downhill from now (mostly)!' I had set my virtual pacer at 12:30 min/mile, aiming at a finishing time of 5 hrs 30 min. I was well ahead of that. But at mile 20, my body had different ideas. 

I took some gels to store and a bottle of water from the refuelling station, but decided to stop to use the porta-loo. Being vegan, when nature calls you listen; a tree just wouldn't cut it. The other runner inside the loo kept apologising, but I used the opportunity to stock up on enough Clif gels (thank you kind volunteers) to last me into my next marathon. I was not walking, but standing so still meeting my objective. By the time I was done and running again, I had used up 8 minutes. I sped off to make up the time, and with my watch buzzing that I was ahead of pace I was trying to catch up with Maria; but she was nowhere to be seen. 

Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
Loch Ness Marathon 2016
© Conn Bardi
Gradually Inverness came into sight. The first roundabout appeared, with priority given to runners over vehicular traffic. I was the only runner at the time, so I felt like a celebrity when all the traffic was stopped for me. I no longer had to fear of staggering in last like Run, Fatboy, Run (Schwimmer et al., 2007), whilst local life was being returned to normal. I was so close now. Some runners had already finished and were walking back to their hotels or houses. On the pavement were a mixture of people that were out to cheer us on, and others that were going about their Sunday business. Very close to town, possibly around mile 24, was a runner being helped away towards an ambulance. 
The crowds on the pavements grew larger along the River Ness. The finishing line was now in sight. Along the river, over the bridge crossing it, and a little distance further down was Bught Park; where it had all started. The weather had changed by then and a drizzle cooled down those of us who were still running. Despite the rain, there were people still out there encouraging and cheering us along. One side of the road on The River Ness Bridge was closed off by police, who cheered me as I ran past. Being applauded by Police Scotland is definitely another celebrity moment. My legs were tired, but my mind had found a new leash of energy; something raw, hidden deep inside. 

And suddenly the arch with the word 'FINISH' appeared before me. I crossed the line with a time of 4hrs 48 min 41 sec. 42 minutes quicker than I had anticipated. A few seconds later, I was wearing the Loch Ness Marathon medal. 

Maria was waiting for me with her husband, who had bought her a bouquet of flowers. She had finished 5 minutes earlier than me, which means that I had managed to make up 3 minutes of my time lost for my loo stop. Rodrigo, being a real gentleman, had shopped and cooked for both of us.

Loch Ness Marathon Inverness  Scotland Running Fibromyalgia
Loch Ness Marathon 2016
© Conn Bardi

Three things mattered to me: 

I had finished the marathon,
I did not walk a single step.

I was a marathoner...


Things I learnt from my first marathon -

  1. Little sips of water and very often -  (Thank you Maria)
  2. What solid food to carry with me (Clif Builders bars for me. Good for protein and vegan)
  3. Take a bin-liner to the start line to keep warm  
  4. ****I love long distance running**** 


Schwimmer, D., Black, M., Pegg, S., (2007), Run, Fatboy, Run, [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2016].

Loch Ness Marathon (2016) [online] [Accessed 6 Oct. 2016].

On Reading

Eveline (Joyce, p.29, 2000) is probably one of the most critiqued short stories written.   I wrote a short article on the 15th July 2013 under the title ‘The Freedom of Paralysis - James Joyce,’ which can be found here:

I will now discuss how a text may be approached from different aspects, and thus inform our perception based on how we define its message. So what is Eveline trying to tell us?

Eveline is perhaps unable to move forward with her life because she is stuck to her past. In line 1 she talks about ‘the evening invad[ing] the avenue’. The tone is being set for what she might regard as an attack on her familiar environ. Her nostalgia is displayed on p. 29, where she shares her thoughts ‘One time there used to be a field there […]. Perhaps she is pensive and about how things have changed in her street, which may be a metaphor for her life. Her wistfulness is displayed in the free indirect speech ‘Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.’ This may be a scary thought for some, if it were regarded as moving to the unfamiliar. Some readers, who may not be so comfortable with the idea of leaving home, will be glad when Eveline decides to avoid moving on with her life. But what if her decision places her in graver danger?

Another viewpoint may be that the story has undertones of the Electra complex; or even a darker incestuous relationship that may have been forced upon Eveline. In page 30 the first signs of domestic violence is hinted ‘but latterly he had begun to threaten her’ […]. This may be an insinuation that she had replaced her late mother in looking after her father; or more. Even her dying mother imprisoned her with her final words implying that she must look after the family (p.33). In page 30, Eveline introduces her prolepsis of happiness that if she were to leave home ‘People would treat her with respect then.’ Readers who may have or are in the grim territory of domestic violence, physical or mental, may be disappointed that Eveline chose to stay.

The writer of the text foregrounds his message by the use of emotive language (Jakobson,1960) of words such as ‘her father’s violence’ on page 30 (Joyce, 2000). This will affect the readers’ thought process, their conative function (Jakobson,1960), and how they internalise their reading. So can any reader be truly objective?

It is my argument that all reading may be affected by our sociocultural, familial, and childhood experiences. This affect may enhance or moderate those views that, over the years, we have come to believe as being true. Therefore readers are subjective recipients  based on their personal understanding of the world. An older infirm parent might regard Eveline’s decision to stay and look after her father as the correct one. Another that may have suffered in his or her familial environment may despair at the impasse that her inability may have caused her. Does that mean that there is a right or wrong way of reading?

Reading is a very personal experience and may be carried out for a variety of reasons. The latter may also affected by the material in hand. A crime novel would probably be used as escapism and pleasure, during which  one might try to predict the outcome or the characters’ actions at the most.  On the other hand, a short story like ‘Eveline’ may challenge our thinking and how we view familial environments. Perhaps Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners (2006), which is based on global sociocultural issues,  will be received differently by the migrant society, especially the early Caribbean immigrants, compared to other readerships. This may not apply only to novels, but to the majority of text. 

The way to gain a deeper understanding from our reading is to critically question the material we read. By questioning we engage in an analytical exchange with the text, which creates an environment of growth. We do not accept what is before us as truism, but instead we try to identify different points of view from those of the writer. Moreover, we may also be challenging our thought process by not simply internalising the contents based on our current perception, but by examining whether those different points of view might be more valid. 


Jakobson, R. (1960), in Maybin, J. and Pearce M. (2006), ‘Literature and creativity in English’ in Goodman, S. and O'Halloran, K. (eds.) ‘The art of English:   literary    creativity’, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan/Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 3-48.

Joyce, James, and Terence Brown. Dubliners. London: Penguin Books, 2000. 

Selvon, Samuel. The Lonely Londoners. London: Penguin, 2006. 


'Where is he?' she muttered to herself, as she let go of the curtain, which draped over the china figurine of two people dancing the waltz. Taking another look in the cheval-glass she held her dress by the bottom and did a twirl, smiling all the way round. Still fits like a glove, she thought. Christine flicked some non-existent fluff off her dress and adjusted herself.       What was the time? Where were her glasses? 
Her hands fumbled round the wedding photos on her dresser, pushing a hair brush, before finding the small school-teacher style glasses. Lifting them up to her face she flicked their golden chain from her hair and squinted as she put them on to look at her watch. Not a chance, she thought. How many times could I have told him to spend more time with me. Begged him. And what would he say? 'I'm doing for us luv. So we can have nice things and go on holidays.' Work, work, work. Nothing but bloody work. You are always working. You are never here, I kept telling him, she thought.
  A sigh echoed in the lonely silence as she started walking down the stairs, pressing her feet into the new thick carpet. It was just like reflexology. After putting the kettle on, she tossed a teabag in a mug that said 'I prefer wine.' Whilst the kettle was boiling, she gazed at their new garden through the leadlight sash window. It was Brian's idea to move to the hamlet. One of his better ones. Away from the urban hustle. She grimaced when she thought of the mortgage payments. Flipping banks. They skin you alive, she thought.
Pouring the hot water in the mug, she turned towards the window as she heard the wail of sirens in the distance. The main road was around two miles away. If he was not here in half an hour they would never make it to London. The Phantom. She could watch it again and again.
'Think of me, think of me softly when we say goodbye,' she hummed. 
They had bought the tickets to the Phantom two months ago for their wedding anniversary. Christine had made Brian promise her that he would take the day off. Christine had suggested lunch at a Thai Restaurant in Holborn, then cream-teas in Haymarket, before the theatre. 
'I'll take the day off Christine. Don't worry,' she remembered him saying. But you never did. 
She was startled out of her reverie by the sound of another siren. 'I wonder what's going on' she muttered to herself.
Another siren made her pull the net-curtain back and look out of the window. But the road was too far to see anything. Why am I crying, she thought. The tissue paper was covered in tears and mascara as she threw it in the bin. She took another look at herself in the oval ornate mirror at the bottom of the stairs.
What a mess. We are gonna be definitely late. We'll never gonna make it if we don't get going in half an hour. Cancelled outings, last minute excuses to my family, friends stood up. I can't even go on a date with my husband anymore. 
The car pulling up made her dash to the door. Finally, she thought.
She opened the door to see a policewoman stepping out of a big patrol car, like the ones you see on the motorway, putting her white bowler hat on. There was a policeman locking it. The policewoman was already making her way to the cast-iron gate, hesitating before opening it to walk up the cobbled path. Christine had crossed the threshold and was on the balcony-style porch, biting her bottom lip.
'Mrs Harrison?' asked the policewoman.
'Yes...yes... this is she.'
But her legs crumbled. She clutched her chest and fell to the ground knocking over a small metal bistro coffee-table as the officers raced towards her. The policeman was supporting her head as the other officer was on her radio calling for an ambulance. Christine looked up.
'Is he dead?'
'Who Mrs Harrison?'
'My husband.'
'We have found your car. The one that was stolen two months ago,' said the policeman with a puzzled looked on his face.
'Christine! Christine. Oh my dear, what's happened here?' asked Brian running up to them.
         Christine sat up and looked at him; then looked at the policeman and back at Brian.

'You are...LATE!'

On Journalling

With a full-time job, commuting, and the Open University to keep me busy there is no much time for many other hobbies. As a matter of fact, life can be very hectic at times, and trying to find a healthy release is not always easy. Alcohol, smoking, energy drinks are becoming a common sight in our society. Stress and mental health illnesses are also on the rise. Exercise, yoga, meditation are some of the activities recommended to help people manage the 21st Century's busy-ness. But how about writing?

Having tried journalling before, I felt that perhaps I could focus my energy towards it and see if it helps me with my writing. In a way it was perhaps preparation for the Creative Writing module. Along the way though, I benefited in many other ways from journalling. I did some research and bought some books on the topic, which led me to discover that free-writing might be one of the best ways to unlock one's mind. It is a free-for-all ground, where you dump whatever thoughts or ideas pop-up. As long as the pen (keyboard) overtakes your cognitive process then you are writing from the unconscious self, without any critique or editor. Moreover, no-one has to read your journal unless you chose to let them. The more you write, the more room you create for new ideas and thoughts to be created. Unconscious writing may also bring up plots for Creativity Writing, as well as emotions that the writer may have been unaware that they had blocked. Let's look at the Creative Writing first.

Free-writing can be undirected or prompted. The former is simply sitting in front of the writing tools and putting down what you see, smell, feel. Perhaps go to a different place rather than your writing desk and describe what is before you. Nature, with its plentiful colours and shapes, is always a good choice. But do not discount other settings, such as a  family gathering, a birthday party. The prompted option is choosing a stimulus and creating from it. You can expand from your own prompts or buy books that have daily, weekly or general ones. For example: 'It was a wintry day, when he...'
Writing prompts may also be visual such as photos:

(Photo found on line - anyone with rights contact me to be cited)

Journalling your emotions can be a cathartic experience. It is known as writing therapy, because it allows you to safely express your pain, happiness, or fears without being criticised. You can be free to off-load and then look back at your writing to try and understand yourself. It can be a painful journey though. Feelings that may have been hidden away or blocked off may re-appear. Memories that have hurt in the past may re-surface. Perhaps though, they may be finally understood; or accepted and help the person achieve closure and move on. The journal can also record moments of joy. Eventually the writer can become the reader of their own life-path and maybe understand the twists and turns of their own existence.

Journalling is an activity that can be undertaken by anyone without any special training or tools. A pen and a pad is all that is needed. For the writer of all levels, it might help unblock ideas or assist in developing new ones, whether for their next block-buster, study assignment, or even work-report. For the private scribbler, it help one understand their life-path, or deal with emotions that have been left to fester, such as anger or frustration. Happiness and life-events can also be recorded there.
Healing, releasing, new plot ideas.

Happy Writing...

By the Canal

The gloomy clouds pushing over the busy people running to their own worlds. White streaks between the sky's greyness. The sun trying to break through, but barred by their fluffy yet determined resistance. A summer's day that lacked the lucklustre of the warm rays from Helios. The willow trees' branches tangoing in the breeze, unsettling the little sparrows that were trying to perch. Green leaves interspaced by brown streaks from their dying brethren, made them look like a graveyard in May.
        The ones that had lived their lives, were now making way for the new foliage eager to sprout and show off their green blades. Leaves twisting as they interlocked in their waltz with the summer zephyr. Teasing and caressing each other with every breath and with every twirl. A constant wind that chilled the air. The man sitting by the river crossed his hands tightly to warm up, as he shuddered in the cool day. The water rippled as it was flowing in the canal. What secrets was its bed hiding? A silent movement that never stopped, whatever the season, whatever the weather. 
        The canal boat pulled up at walking pace. The grey-haired man hesitated before jumping off its bow, perhaps doubting if his legs had too many decades under them. 'Was the distance too wide?' With a leap of faith he found himself ashore holding the barge-rope tightly. Putting his arms out like a tight-rope walker he swayed from side to side in a slight squat. 
        He tightened the rope round the mooring post, before rolling up a cigarette, which he puffed on with delight; or was it relief? The rollie came alive everytime he kissed it, closing his eyes to saviour the nicotine rush. He stayed sat on the black bollard until the  cigarette had been reduced to the size of a child's fingernail. A duckling squawked and flapped its wings when the little flame landed too close for comfort. His parents looked on with indifference. It had to learn the harshness of life. One day it will be his turn to lead.
        The busy people kept running to their own worlds under the gloomy clouds. Every one carrying their own greyness. Every one carrying their own sunshine.

Busy noise,
Sounds, Words, looking for silence;
Speak with my kiss...

Galloping Horse,
A pause to rest; Galloping Horse -
Destiny unstoppable...

Awake, awake ho!
The light is bright
No longer a fright - 
The Morning follows
Every Night...

Thoughts observed, wind-swept;
The mind clear - silent echoes.
Willows bend in calm obeissance,
Karma on peaceful leaves nests...