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Timescope Vol I.

“What are you doing?” Victor hears his father ask.

Immediately his fingers go cold with fear. He hurriedly puts down the book, and turns around to answer his father. “Nothing Dad, I’m not doing anything.”

His father’s eyebrow raises, a quick glance of the room, papers scattered everywhere, sheets hastily made, show that he is lying. His father says as much. “I know you’re lying to me Victor. So, why not be honest with me. What is it that you’re doing exactly?”

Victor’s mouth opens. The words are forming, but for some reason they won’t come out. He stands like that, his mouth open, no sound being made. He jams his mouth shut, inhales deeply, then opens his mouth again. “I was doing some reading.”

His father’s eyes narrow. “Reading on what exactly?”

Victor moves his head from side to side, analysing the contents of his own room. It is a room he knows well, the cupboard contains things from when he was a kid, dinosaurs, story books, the usual sort. He hasn’t looked at it for a long time. His attention moves to the chest of draws near the bathroom, where his clothes are kept. He needs to throw some of those clothes out, they’re too tight for him now. He brings his attention back to his father and sees that the man has his hands folded against his chest, waiting. Swallowing, Victor responds. “I was reading up about the timescope.”

His father’s eyebrows lower, his eyes soften then harden. “I thought we spoke about this Victor.” Victor shifts, he’s not in the mood for another lecture. “The timescope is not something we should be researching. We are only here to protect it nothing more.”

“Why?” Victor demands, stepping forward. “Why should we only keep it, and not look at it? What is it about this thing that so frightens you, Dad? I do not understand. I need to know.”

“You do not need to know anything Victor. I have told you what needs to be done and I expect you to obey me in this.” His father replies, his tone brooking no argument.

“I am not a child, Dad.” Victor replies, his voice becoming heavy, after the things he’s read, he wishes he were still a child. “I do not have to do anything you say.”

He expects his father to protest this, he knows for certain that if it were his Mother, she most definitely would protest. However, his father merely nods. “I suppose not. I also suppose that unless I actually tell you what is so important and dangerous about the timescope you will keep poking around?”

“Yes.” Victor says, butterflies fluttering in his stomach, he’s finally going to learn something.

His Dad closes the door behind him and steps into the room properly. “Very well. You have the timescope with you?” Victor nods. “Good.” His father says. “Now, how much do you truly know? I know you’ve been reading a lot, but how much do you truly know?”

Victor runs a hand through his hair. “I know that the timescope comes from the east. It was brought here by some ancestor of ours a long time ago. And that our family has held it for a long time. I also know that it is said to have some sort of power, the ability to travel in time, either to the past, or to the future. Apart from that I do not know much else.”

His Father sighs, a deep rumbling sound. One that used to comfort Victor when he was a child. “That is all true. But there is more to it.” His father stops speaking for a brief moment and then continues. “The timescope was created by someone known only as The Mage in what we would know today as Lebanon, in around the Third Century Before Christ. How it was made, no one knows. From the very beginning of its existence it has been valued very highly for what it can do. For as you say, it can allow the user to travel back and forwards in time, to any moment they so desire. As such, many wars were fought over it, until eventually around the First Century Before Christ it was entrusted to our family. We were tasked with watching over it and ensuring that it never fell into the wrong hands.”

“How were we to know who the wrong hands were? Or even who the right hands were?” Victor asks, this question having been nagging away at him for a long time.

His father raises a shoulder and lowers it. “I do not know. All I know is that the timescope has been in our family for a long time, always being passed down, from father to son. When my father gave it to me, he told me that the time was soon to come, where we would all know the truth.”

“What does that mean?” Victor asks, his hands hovering above his pockets.

“I do not know. All I know is that when you were born the timescope did something it has not done for centuries. It sang.” His father says, his eyes burning holes into Victor.

“What do you mean?” Victor whispers.

“It opened up, and it sang a song that my Mother used to sing to me, and her mother used to sing to her. And so on. The same song played forth from the timescope, and I knew.” Father says.

“What did you know Dad?” Victor questions, his voice barely above a whisper.

“I knew then that soon enough this day would come. We must go.” Father responds.

“Go? Go where?” Victor asks stunned.

“We must go to the only place where we can deal with this properly.” Father replies, and with that he turns opens the door and walks out of Victor’s room. Victor watches his father go, uncertain of what has just happened. However, he very quickly decides to follow his father, and so in silence he hurries out of the room catching up with his father as he opens the car door and gets in. Victor sits in the passenger seat, silent, waiting, his father says nothing, merely starts the car and begins driving.

They move passed the cobbled streets of their hometown in a few moments, the car going at what seems like an incredible speed. Soon they enter into the marshland of the countryside, where there are more sheep than people. Indeed, they must wait a little while, as a farmer gets his herd to cross the road-if it can indeed be called that- once the sheep have passed, they continue their journey. It is only then that Victor finds the courage to speak. “Where are we going Dad?”

Keeping his eyes on the road, father speaks. “We’re going to the one place where this can be done properly.”

“Where what can be done properly?” Victor asks again.

“The timescope needs to be dealt with properly. I should have seen this coming before, but I was blind. So, now we need to go to the chamber. To deal with it.” Father responds.

“The Chamber? What are you on about?” Victor risks a look at his father and sees that there are lines forming under his father’s eyes.

“The Chamber was a place that your grandfather created in case the timescope ever started acting up. Considering how obsessed you’ve become with it as of late, I’d say that now is the right time to take you there. We shall be able to handle everything properly.” Father replies, before falling into silence once more.

Knowing that he likely won’t get anything more from his father, Victor remains silent also. Content simply to look outside the window at the scenery they pass. Marshland, painted yellow and green is bountiful as they drive, there are lots of sheep, he’d forgotten about that. A few cows are scattered here and there, and even a few bulls. The timescope, thrums in his pocket, and he feels as if the bulls are watching them pass. He does not know what creates that impression, but he pulls at his shirt collar nervously. Slowly but surely the car comes to a stop, before a slightly derelict building in the middle of all of this. Victor looks at it and then at his father and asks. “Is this the Chamber?”

“Yes. Now come on, we need to get this done quickly before anyone else can come looking.” Father says, shutting the car off and opening his door. Victor finds himself wanting to ask who would come here, but decides against it, he follows his Father out of the car.

They walk from the car to the entrance of the Chamber; the door opens easily enough. They walk through the hallway, into a dark room, with a low hanging ceiling. The timescope thrums even more, a light coming from it. “Dad, what’s happening?” Victor asks as he takes the timescope out and sees it burning brightly. “Why is it doing that?”

His father looks at the timescope and sighs. “We must hurry, follow me.” Victor follows his father through the dark room into a room with barely any light. The timescope continues to vibrate in his hand, causing it to ache. Father stops before an altar, and says. “Place the timescope here.” Victor does so and watches as the timescope begins glowing even brighter than it had done so before, it shakes and groans. The walls seem as if they are doing so as well. “Now, we must wait.” Father says.

“Wait? Wait for what?” Victor demands, though he is not sure he wants to know.

The timescope opens, a host of images flashing before their eyes. A great flood engulfing the world, sweeping away the debris of corruption. A King standing before the world, head bowed, as a necklace is wrapped around his neck. A boy being born in a stable as a crowned head whispers treason. A war being fought on the fields of poppies as young men die for men and women who they will never meet. “For that.” Father says. “It is happening. The timescope is working.”

“What do you mean?” Victor asks.

“It is working for you Victor. You’re the only one who can handle it now, move towards it.” Father yells as the sound of planes running overhead grows louder.

Where are, the planes coming from? Victor wonders as he moves toward the timescope, he places his hands on it, and pulls back sharply at the heat that rushes through him.  He puts his hands on the timescope again, holding on for dear life as the images keep coming. His hands ache, his eyes water, but still he holds on. In the distance, he hears a cracking sound, he turns and his father is no longer there. “Dad!” He yells. Suddenly his father appears before him, lying on his back, his head cracked and bleeding. Victor watches horrified as the timescope runs through history. His father’s body disappears into the images of time, floating into space.

The images slowly stop coming, they disappear into nothingness, leaving behind a trail of ash and dust. The timescope gets incredibly hot, so much so that Victor must pull his hands off it, lest he be burned. That his hands aren’t already burned is a huge surprise. The timescope shakes, rocking backwards and forwards, lines appearing on it. Victor stares stupefied as it causes the ground to quake. He falls to his knees, unable to keep his eyes off the timescope. The thing that has consumed so much of his time. The timescope keens a high tune, then splits in half. A scream echoing from it as the memories of a thousand things come rushing forward, hitting him hard in the chest. He is pushed backwards, landing flat on his back. The sky dances before him, the stars grinning and winking. Then the screaming stops, the ground ceases its shaking. Slowly, painfully, he gets up onto his feet, the timescope lies before him cracked and broken.

 

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Work Experience: Studio White Group, Shanghai.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I spent a month in the summer of 2016 in Shanghai. That month was spent interning with a company called Studio White Group. They do marketing and pr for restaurants, gyms and other businesses within China, as well as in London-where they have an office- my time there was a mixture of interesting and frustrating.

The experience was interesting as they were when I was there, looking to open a gym on the top of their office space, where their employees could go and work out after work. Consequently, as the intern there, alongside a local lad who was also interning, I was sent off to travel around Shanghai to see various different gyms, and assess them.

The gyms in Shanghai were all kept in small offices, usually in office buildings, the clientele were all professionals who would come during the evening to work out and burn off steam. This much became clear after the first three gyms we went to, all of which had the same layout-weights in the back room, treadmill and other machines in the front- and after a casual web search, the other gyms we were considering looking at all had the same images on their websites!

The gym staff were usually reluctant to tell us anything about the services they offered and how much they charged for such services. It appeared they thought we were competition, which we were, but still, that was frustrating as it really hindered our ability to do our research properly.  Eventually, we came up with a plan for getting information. I would say I was an expat looking to join a gym and that I was there with a friend I knew, who was helping me. That usually ended up making the gym staff friendlier, and as such we got a lot of our data doing that.

Usually, we would see around four or five gyms in the morning, and then we would get lunch. This saw us eat at a variety of local small restaurants which served Chinese food cooked in the traditional way. It was through this that I fell in love with dumplings. The food was great, but after that there was an option before me, return to the office and sit on my hands doing nothing, or return to the hostel. Usually I chose the latter, and this is where the frustration comes in.

During the first week that I was at Studio White I would get into work at eight, and leave at six. For the first four hours, I was usually out looking at gyms, then there was lunch, after that, there was nothing to do. Data compiling took an hour at most, then it was a case of just twiddling my thumbs until it was time to leave. What I realised after the first week was that, as my boss didn’t actually come into work until three in the afternoon if at all, I could actually leave whenever I wanted. This consequently led to me leaving straight from the gyms after we had gotten the information we needed, from the second week onwards.

Whilst this was good in the sense that I was spared hours of boredom, it was frustrating, as I had paid a lot of money to come out to China, and was really getting bugger all work to do.  Furthermore, if my memory serves, I do not think that the report I wrote after we had collected all the data deemed appropriate, was not actually used or looked at by my boss, thus making the whole thing pointless!

Still, the hours off from work gave me the chance to explore Shanghai, which I did with a lot of enjoyment. Exploring the temples and the food shops was a lot of fun. So, in the end I guess it was worth it.

All in all, it was not a bad experience, though the work perhaps could’ve been better.

 

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Well That Didn’t Take Long: Learning How To Drive….Finally.

Driving, it’s a thing that almost everyone does. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to get from Point A to Point B. It is seen as the best way to achieve independence, if you’re a teenager or a person in your early twenties, from your parents. Some folks even get their own car when they pass their test. I remember thinking my school friends were lucky sods, when I would see them driving into school and arriving at 8:40, when I’d be getting in at 8, having gotten the bus in. I remember feeling envious when the school bell would toll to signal that class was out at five, and I’d not be getting home till quarter to seven because of the school bus, but my friends would be leaving at 5 because they could drive.

Now, that might sound like a massive moan, and if it does, my apologies. I don’t mean to moan, I despise moaning-though I think it might be something I do a lot- it’s just that growing up I couldn’t wait to learn how to drive. Then I turned sixteen and I could legally learn how to drive, and I didn’t. Exams, that was my reasoning throughout school. I needed to do well to get into University, so I watched my friends pass their test and get cars and all that, and I assured myself that the moment I finished school, I would learn and I would pass.

I finished school, I had a fair few lessons, but I didn’t take my driving test. Why, you might ask? Because I failed my theory test, not once, but three times. Man that was humiliating, what idiot fails their theory test three times? This idiot apparently. No matter, I knew how to reverse around a corner, I knew how to parallel park-better than my Mum!- and I could take the test and pass, if I could just take the stupid theory test and pass.

Then Uni happened. Man, Uni was a hilarious mess. New people, alcohol, parties, guitar, band, all these things happened at Uni. And to be honest, driving became the last thing on my mind. I couldn’t give two hoots about learning how to drive at Uni. Nah, I was far too invested in going out, learning about Sociology-never thought I’d say that with a straight face!- and trying and failing to chat up girls in my lectures. Driving could go sod itself.

Graduation came and went, the cold reality of adulthood settled in. I needed to learn how to drive, and I needed to learn quickly. But first, I needed to pass my theory test, that monster standing before the gates of my Eden, that boss blocking my entrance to the next level. I practised hard, I learned the whole theory book, I could recite speeds, turns, signs at will, I was determined to pass that damned test. I went off to Shanghai, I partied, I made friends, the theory test got put to the back burner. I came back from Shanghai, and the merciless pursuit of that great monster continued. I took a practise theory test five times a day, determined to keep going until I passed the theory and the hazard perception with flying colours. I booked my theory test, went to the test centre, in September, 2016 I finally passed my theory test on the fourth attempt.

I was bloody relieved, finally that monster had been slain, I was free for now.

I took a few days off, then phoned my former driving instructor and asked for some lessons. Once I got off the phone, I began sweating, would I still remember what I had learned? Would I even remember what to do when behind the wheel? It had been three years since I’d last driven a car. The day came for my first lesson, and the first thing that hit me was that my instructor had a new car. Interesting, something new, perhaps this could work.

That first lesson was a bloody nightmare, I stalled three times I think. I forgot how to reverse around a corner, I felt like an absolute muppet. Then at the end of the lesson, I think I got into the swing of things. Next lesson, it was the same, I hated it, hated feeling like an absolute idiot when I got behind the wheel, not certain of anything I was doing. Slowly, before Christmas, I had a few more lessons, and got back into the swing of things. True, I struggled to reverse around the corner, but I was getting there. Better yet, I was bloody determined to get there.

Christmas came and went, the deadline for my approaching driving lessons after it approached. The nights were bad, the horror of not remembering shit about driving would come back. Irrational, I know, still, it’s something I have, always have. I had my first lesson on the 22nd of this month, for an hour, it was alright, mucked up reversing around the corner, but figured out a way to manage that. Second lesson after the break was on 23rd. I finally cracked how to reverse around the corner. I felt so damn happy when I did it without hesitating. Then came turning in the road, say bye bye to the ego, back to being a an amateur. I’m getting there. I’m determined to hack this driving business before April.

If you’ve read through all of that, well thank you for sparing me a bit of your time. I hope you enjoyed it, if you didn’t please leave a comment, let me know where I could do better. If you did enjoy it, do leave a comment, spread the word.

 

Thanks.

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What Makes A Good Blog Post?

Hi all,

My apologies for the gap in my posting,  I don’t really have a valid excuse as to why there has been such a long gap. Well, I suppose I do. I wasn’t quite sure what to make my next blog post about. So much has happened in the days since my last post. We’ve had the women’s march, the backlash against that, Trump’s administration issuing executive orders left, right and centre, Theresa May confirming the type of Brexit she wants, and so much more.

I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I wanted my next blog post to be about, so I didn’t look at this site. Now, here I am.

A conversation with a family member has made me question just what this blog should be for. Should it be a place for me to discuss my views on politics, history, and all sorts of other things that might not interest some people. Or should it be about the more mundane-to me anyway- things of life? By mundane, I mean my usually two days a week fight to learn how to drive, my search for a job, my watching YouTube videos?

Or indeed, should it be a little of both, politics, history, and the more mundane and normal?

I’m not really looking for a response, but I just thought, why not post this here. After all, this is what a blog is for in essence is it not? To post your thoughts, no matter how meandering they might be.

 

A more detailed or nuanced post will follow soon enough, once I’ve got the webs in my head fixed.

 

Thanks All.

 

 

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Ghosts Of The Past: A Take on Stephen McLaren’s Slavery article

In an article published in The Guardian, writer Stephen McLaren made the claim that due to their part in the slave trade and its connection to the British Empire, Scots now needed to pay back the blood soaked debt that they owed to the Caribbean.

McLaren’s claims come almost two years after the Jamaican government issued a statement-alongside fellow Caribbean nations- that they felt that the British government owed them reparations to the tune of £7 million. Their charges against the government of the day were that because colonial governments had put their ancestors into bondage and had essentially reduced them to nothing more than tools for the furthering of the Empire’s interests in the Caribbean, they, the current Jamaican people were entitled to compensation. The David Cameron led government refused to pay the amount demanded, and the issue slowly subsided into nothingness, what with bigger issues such as Brexit and the US election dominating public attention. However, McLaren’s post has for me, highlighted an issue that most definitely needs addressing.

McLaren’s article makes some good points, the conditions that the slaves were kept in during their time in the Caribbean were horrible, and they were often treated appallingly However, I do not see why he insists that every Scot must contribute to the reparations that he calls for. To my mind, not every Scot’s ancestor even had a role to play in the slave trade. Like other Brits during the Empire’s golden day, many Scots would have been living on a meagre wage themselves, and would most likely have been barely able to scrape together enough to buy food to put on the table for their families. Why then does McLaren insist on lumping every Scot together? The answer continues to baffle me; it seems that McLaren is acting on a sense of guilt that he himself felt whilst in the Caribbean photographing the very images he speaks of in his article. Consequently, this guilt appears to have manifested in a demand for Scotland to pay reparations, and for the taxpayer to contribute more than they already do, for this sum. Reading the article, it seems that McLaren does not truly care about the history of what he is speaking of. He does not speak of what Britain has done since it abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in the Empire in 1833, to prevent others from continuing the horrible practice.

Nowhere in his article does McLaren acknowledge that it was British ships during the 19th century that would intercept other countries ships from Africa, to prevent them from selling slaves and placing slaves in their colonies. Nowhere does McLaren acknowledge that these slaves were often sold by their fellow Africans in the western part of Africa. Instead he continues to pile the guilt on his fellow Scots, by claiming that because Glasgow became a brimming and thriving metropolis during the height of the Empire, all Scots are guilty by association of this crime, and thus must pay up. McLaren as with some others such as online news site MIC continue to insist that if you are white and do not feel some measure of guilt and responsibility for the slave trade, then you are a terrible person. This to me seems counter intuitive.

No one denies that slavery was a horrible thing. Yet, writers such as McLaren, to me at least, seem to in their desire to get their self-inflicted guilt off their conscience, broad brush everyone who has some connection to countries such as Britain, Spain and Portugal- whose Empires had dealings with the slave trade- as guilty and needing to work off that guilt. This does nothing more than breed resentment and anger. After all, a common argument used to defend other people who are part of a group that does wrong, is that they cannot be held accountable for the actions of others like them. Therefore, why is it that in this case that the reverse happens? I do not see what this achieves other than making people angry, resentful and unwilling to talk and discuss.

This is to my mind, further compounded by the fact that writers such as McLaren, and those at MIC often tend to ignore the fact that, yes whilst there was a horrible slave trade in the USA and that entire continent, that the slave trade has existed for far longer than the seventeenth century. African Kings and Warlords are known to have sold defeated soldiers into slavery, they are known to have sold their own people into slavery to make a profit. Many of the slaves that went across the seas to the Americas became slaves because of this. Yet, as far as I am aware, there has never been an effort by any group anywhere to demand reparations from these African nations at all. After all, if those from Europe must pay reparations for using the slaves, surely those from Africa must pay reparations for selling them off in the first place?!  Then there is the issue of the Arabian slave trade which as this article states has been going on for at least fourteen hundred years. Once again, there is no outcry about this, there is no demand that Arabian countries pay reparations for using slaves bought from Africa. Indeed, it took Conservative Governments-those who are often derided amongst the left and liberals- to force countries such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen to not use slaves in their day to day lives. Yet the demands for reparations from these countries remains non-existent.

To conclude this piece, I feel that whilst Mr McLaren might be coming toward his issue with good intentions, he has not, in my opinion truly done much, other than continue beating a dead horse. Yes, the American Slave Trade was a horrible thing and yes we are still feeling the consequences of it today, but to demand that the descendants of those Europeans who were alive during its heyday pay reparations for it, and then to blatantly ignore the situation with Africa and the Arabian slave trade, I feel is not only hypocritical, it is downright wrong. A fair deal to my mind will never be reached, it is easier to go for the European nations due to their closer accessibility and the lack of a threat of them withholding valuable resources such as oil. Add in the riskiness of offending Saudi Arabia with the current climate, and you would have a dangerous situation on your hands. I feel that more needs to be done to educate people about the slave trade, not just the American slave trade, but the Arabian and African slave trades as well, we cannot afford to continue beating this horse down, for if we do we lessen the chances of having a fair and reasonable discussion about it. The more aware people are about the slave trade, the world over, the more likely it is I feel that something productive and good can come out of it. Simply trying to guilt one group of people into doing something because of something their ancestors did will not work.