Thursday, 1 June 2017

Writing - Literary comfort blankets

How many times have you heard the suggestion that if you write down ?????? it will help you get over it. Writing as a therapy is common. Dreams that re-occur when written down are supposed to vanish.

Image result for j r r tolkien
J R R Tolkien

Using writing as a therapy seems to have been something Tolkien used on one occasion after he returned from World War I with trench fever. He wrote Beren and Luthien while convalescing. He had lost two friends in the war and seen some indescribable horrors and wrote an uplifting yet poignant story, partly as a result of watching his wife dance among white flowers in a wood in East Yorkshire, which filled him with joy.
The story is about the fate of lovers Beren and LĂșthien, a mortal man and an immortal elf who together try to steal from the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor.

The names Beren and LĂșthien are carved on the gravestone Tolkien and his wife share in Wolvercote cemetery in Oxford.

The story below was written by yours truly as the result of a short story competition. It works rather like a comfort blanket for me.

A First Kiss

Sixty seconds doesn’t seem a long period of time but if you consider the events that can occur in that period every minute of our lives should be valued. An example would be the fact that sprinters should be able to run one hundred metres six times! In a flooded part of the UK 10 tons of water was being pumped from the Somerset Levels in the same period of time.
It is often the case that when you encounter a new situation your first impressions formed in the early minutes tend to colour your opinions and reactions thereafter. This was the case when I made a visit to Amsterdam when still at school.
The six of us had been walking for hours exploring the city but then the time came to return to the hostel. Amsterdam is an intriguing place with streets arranged in a semi-circular design, Dam Square at the hub. The hostel we were staying in was on a street with an unpronounceable name at number 39. The buildings we were hurrying passed were in the high two hundreds and industrial, we knew that we were going to be late and needed to rush. That was the mistake. Perhaps if we hadn’t been in so much of a hurry one of us would have noticed that the word ‘Nieuw’ was placed in front of the street name. Effectively we had walked to the wrong end of a parallel road and once we’d corrected the mistake and returned to the place in which we were staying we were exhausted. We’d certainly seen more of Amsterdam than most of our friends!
Our little group consisted of three of each sex who didn’t really know each other that well because we were in different year groups. The girls were in the year above us lads. I think they’d been selected to chaperone us! There was this one girl about the same height as me, with a peaches and cream complexion, long brown hair usually tied in a ponytail, brown eyes and brimming with confidence.
The six of us had been thrown together rather and so while we were panicking slightly about being lost in a foreign city there was no time for attractions between the girls and boys to begin to develop. On the other hand the six of us being somewhat in adversity broke down some of the normal barriers that exist between the sexes in the mid teen years.
Teachers have exquisite skills in admonishing pupils but being away from home they were actually quite gentle with us, when we arrived at the hostel thirty minutes late. Everyone else had eaten and we were banished to the girls’ bedroom to eat a packed meal that had been prepared for us. I ended up sitting on the same bed as Celia. I remember thinking it was an old-fashioned name but she was quite relaxed and pleasant to talk to so we ate and chatted. The packed lunch contained a boiled egg, still in its shell!
What happened next took place well within a minute but influenced the next three years of my life. Don’t ask me why but fourteen year old me decided that it would be a good idea to crack the shell of my egg on Celia’s head! I know it was stupid, childish and likely to propel me to the teachers once again for punishment. The disturbing thing was that as soon as I had done it I knew that I’d hurt her, I knew that I’d done a stupid thing and I was apologising before she’d finished reacting.
Our eyes met at that point and her gentle, brown orbs were brimming with tears but not just as a result of the pain. I reached out and put my hand on her head, her hair felt silky and apologised as sincerely as I knew how. The next minute was electric. Celia could have screamed at me to ‘Get out!’ and sort comfort with her female friends. She didn’t!
We were sitting quite close, facing, and leaning in towards each other. The quality of the following sixty seconds was nothing short of dream-like. Celia completed the distance between us and we kissed. I remember wonderful feelings of warmth spreading throughout my body. It was almost as if we had become one person. Everyone else in the room disappeared into an indistinct haze. I don’t suppose that this first kiss lasted more than a few seconds before the wonderful moment was broken by our cheering friends. I wasn’t tremendously disappointed because I knew it would happen again.

I wasn’t wrong.

Have you had similar written blankets?

God Bless