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Light – A Writing Activity

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The days are getting longer, very gradually. This exercise gets you thinking about light, and the many forms in which it appears.

  • Think about daylight first. Each morning, thank goodness without fail, the sunlight gradually greets us. Think about its qualities. Maybe there’s a particularly memorable dawn you once saw, and a story around it which you want to tell. Think about the sheer power of the light from the sun – it can even be dangerous – if we’re driving and momentarily blinded, or when it causes skin cancer, or if we use a magnifying glass to focus its rays. Maybe there’s a fictional story to create in which a character is momentarily blinded by the sun and risks his / her life, or someone else’s.
  • When the natural light lessens then artificial lights come on – street lamps, house lights, headlights. And twilight is an in-between time when perceptions change, a time symbolic of near-endings, dwindlings, and change generally. Maybe something particular happens for you or your character at this time.
  • And how about when it’s night…. There’s the cold light of the moon, reflecting the light from the sun. There’s the monthly full moon, with all its associations of wildness (literally lunacy) or romance. There are stars, each shining with a different quality of light – some twinkle rose-pink, some glimmer white – and often planes pass overhead slowly with tail and wing lights blinking. Shooting stars, or satellites, sometimes delight us. Maybe you once stayed out at night lying on the ground watching the stars and the night sky. Maybe you were an expert on the constellations as an avid science student. At night, the lit windows of trains hurry down the tracks, the windows of houses offer a small yellow square in the dark. Maybe you see something through one of these windows, maybe even something secret, something you shouldn’t have seen.
  • Maybe you have a favourite lamp, or there’s a lampshade you inherited, and it has a story to tell.
  • Maybe the light from your mobile phone stops you sleeping at night and you’re exhausted, and you want to sing about it.
  • Maybe you want to create an exciting story about something that happened in the dark – in a forest when someone’s torch stopped working, in an ancient imaginary cave when the fire went out, in a cellar at the bottom of a house.
  • Maybe you’ll choose to imagine what it’s like to go blind and lose light – or, conversely, to gain too much of it – to enter the long, sleepless Scandinavian summer waiting for a restful night-time that won’t arrive?

Real or fictional, write a story in which light is important.

[this exercise is derived from Jo Bell’s marvellous blog of writing exercises called “52”, one for every week of the year

https://fiftytwopoetry.wordpress.com/

Look out for a soon-to-be-launched book of writing activities by Jo Bell, based on her blog]

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#IWSG: What if you need to hibernate?

Inspiring blog of a writer on the subject of hibernation….

Yellow Cucumbers by Cornelia J. Glynn

A big thank you to Cornelia J. Glynn for sharing her wonderful story inspired by Christmas and childhood memories…

Yellow Cucumbers

I was not even four years old when my family and I had to flee from Russian occupied East Germany at a nano second’s notice with only the clothes we were wearing. It was the 23rd of December and I had so been looking forward to getting my annual orange. The choice of food available was very limited and I truly believed that we got only one orange a year.

So there we were, my father and I in his friend’s car, driving to West Berlin, where we caught a plane to Frankfurt and then hopped on a train to a mining town in North Rhein Westfalia where I was to meet my Grandfather (my father’s side) for the very first time. It had been a very traumatic experience to leave behind my mother, who made her way to Frankfurt on her own and my sister, who had been visiting my Grandmother in another town so couldn’t join us until a few months later. However, the mere thought of meeting my Grandpa kept my hunger at bay (we had no money to buy a sandwich although a kind lady on the train later fed us) and made me forget about the orange I so cherished at Christmas time. I liked its colour and aroma as well as its texture and taste and would not eat it for days, gently stroking it’s dimpled skin and smelling it in total amazement.

But this story isn’t about oranges, or my grandfather even, and yes, I loved him instantly, as I did my Grandma, which was a good thing because I wouldn’t see my parents again for another year until we received news that my father had finally been granted asylum in the West, and had found work in Frankfurt, where we would live for five or six years.

Living with my grandparents were also my Aunt Mia and her (rather ghastly) husband, whose name I don’t care to utter even and his son, my cousin, who was a few years my senior.

Auntie Mia was a wonderful woman and our bond was immediate. Since I had nothing to wear, she made me dresses out of old curtains, the idea of which horrified me when she mentioned it to my Dad.

Still, she was a great seamstress and as it happened, they were my favourite dresses and I felt good in them.

But this story isn’t about my favourite dresses either, or about Aunt or my bad tempered uncle, or my cousin. Although, it kind of is about her because one day, as a special treat she brought home a big bunch of bananas.

Until then, I had noticed that there was lot more produce in the shops and I was astonished to learn that I could have more than one orange not only at Christmas, but also at other times of the year. As for bananas, they were alien to me. I had never heard of them, or seen them so when Auntie Mia broke one off the bunch and handed it to me with a warm smile on her face, I eyed it suspiciously, before holding it in my hands and then to my nose to check what it smelt like. I wondered if it was a weird type of orange but neither its shape nor its smell resembled that of an orange and I was baffled.

“What is it?” I asked her.

“It’s a banana, Cornelia. It comes by ship from a hot country far, far away and is delicious” she replied.

I turned it around a few times and shifted it from one hand to another, intrigued by its strange shape and colour. “Well, what is a banana and what do you do with it?” was my next question.

My aunt let out a little laugh. “It’s a fruit and you eat it.”

“You eat it?”

“Yes, you eat it.”

Why anyone would want to eat such an extraordinary looking thing, was beyond me. Nevertheless, I bit into the bit where it had been separated from the bunch.  It was hard and sharp and scraped the roof of my mouth and I was not impressed by its taste.

Now my aunt laughed out aloud. “No, no, darling. The banana is inside.”

“Ohhh. But how do you get to it?”

“You peel it.” she explained whereupon I inspected the banana more closely before having to ask “How do I do that?” She gently took it from my hand, removed half of the skin and made the banana look like it was wearing a skirt.

Unconvinced, I took a big bite and chewed it a little, before spitting it out, disgusted and declaring “I don’t like these yellow cucumbers”.

Funny to think that these yellow cucumbers would become a staple part of my diet in later years, when I would eat several a day, but then, aged four, I could not have possibly imagined that.

© Cornelia J. Glynn

Long Lost Lady to Inspire International Art Project

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Open Age art & photography tutor and coordinator of Creative Writing Phone Groups for the housebound – Hester Jones (me!) – is organising an art event Handkind at Olive House, London, to celebrate Rebirth-Day! An international event to help create responsible social transformation – in short, a better world.

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Our collective action is to encourage arts participation for people living with dementia globally as studies and practice demonstrate the arts help improve wellbeing for older people, and with dementia in particular.  Handkind is related to an artist residency I did in October 2014 in Italy at the Michaelangelo Pistoletto foundation UNIDEE Cittadellarte.

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The Rebirth-Day event takes place on the 21st December each year – founded by Pistoletto. In 2015 I will organise a dementia art exchange between older people in Italy and UK. The project will incorporate Creative Writing & Storytelling, Photography, Film, Painting, Music and much more! We will be incorporating Kate Simpson’s wonderful piece of writing Long Lost Lady about ageing, reflecting and looking in the mirror – into the project. Pistoletto is famous for his ‘mirror’ works to which Handkind is also inspired by as well as Arte Povera – the Italian art movement.

Check out all the other Rebirth-Day events taking part across the world – Open Age is on the map!

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If you know anyone with dementia (a friend, family, OA member, neighbour, etc.) spend time with them to read a poem, a story, look at a photo, paint a picture, listen to their favourite music, visit a gallery together… even if this person is not able to verbally communicate, or seems like they are not responding, you will have much more impact than a lot of us realize. It has been demonstrated that by participating in the arts, there is also relief from confusion and anxiety. Above all, be patient, kind and become a Dementia Friend too if you live in the UK.

Museums such as the Royal Academy in London support people with dementia and the arts in events such as Coffee and Conversation. In the USA Meet Me at Moma is a similar initiative run by the Museum of Modern Art New York – making art accessible to people with dementia.

You can follow the event and updates on the Rebirth-Day Event Facebook page and the Open Age Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Long Lost Lady by Kate Simpson

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Thanks to Open Age member Kate Simpson for sharing another wonderful piece of her writing – this time something quite magical to reflect upon about ageing and youth…..

LONG LOST LADY

There was a time when I used to look in the mirror and a young girl stared back at me. I do wonder where she has gone. Is she hiding behind it? Or maybe she is in another mirror. One day I tried searching for her. I took down all the mirrors in the house examined them thoroughly but no sign. Where are you I cried? The silence haunted me like the ghost of a forgotten age. I moved the furniture looked under beds even in the garden shed. No sign. Finally I started to ask the meter reader, the postman. Who both looked at me rather strangely but said nothing. I rang my best friend and on my asking “have you seen the lady in the mirror?” She asked me if I had seen my doctor lately. I have to admit I was so affronted by this I slammed the phone down. Needless to say I had no intention of seeing anybody let alone a doctor. I became a recluse. I was too busy in my search to entertain visitors. Dust settled on the furniture except for the mirrors which were polished daily. In case a speck of dirt hid my long lost lady. Even eating became an unnecessary chore. Occasionally cold baked beans sufficed eaten straight from the can of course. Water straight from the tap (I was too busy in my quest to boil the kettle). So it was back to the mirror. This time I spoke to all of them in the house. I pleaded and pleaded. Where has she gone? Each day I repeated my question and continued to do so until I was old and blind. It was only then I looked and there she was. Young and beautiful once more.

© Kate Simpson

Let’s Fly Away! by Caroline Bennett

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We have a wonderful piece of member writing today by Caroline Bennett, who presented this inspiring short-story about ‘flying’ as part of our exhibition at the Second Half Centre, London, in 2014 during London Creativity & Wellbeing Week.

A big thank you to Caroline for sharing your wonderful writing! We look forward to reading more of your work!

It was not a face to face question, it could not have been, for I was taking a shower at the health club. Thus there was a whole line of splashing shower heads hitting their targets: well exercised bodies  being rubbed and prodded and the noise around me was wet and echoing.

It came through the tannoy system, accompanied by an orchestra of droplets; it came to my ears after I’d rubbed the shampoo out of my hair. “Come fly with me, come fly, let’s fly away…….”. I stood still for a moment, hands limp by my side as Frank Sinatra continued, “…. in Llama land there’s a one man band and he’ll toot his flute for you……”

Where is Llama land I wondered? Peru, Colombia? And I could imagine the flutes they play in the Andes tooting away. Frank Sinatra in Peru? The ratty old leader of the ‘rat pack’ stomping about  with his gang of famous friends singing to  the people of Peru? And why did he want ME to fly with him? With his well known toupee I would have thought that flight would be a risky business but I supposed his ‘ol’ blue eyes could still sparkle at 40.000 feet.  Could I explain to Frank, who  is said to be a member of the Mafia, that I was terrified of flying, suffered from altitude sickness and, anyway, preferred Dean Martin’s throaty croon?

So, sorry Frank, ‘my shoes are meant for  walking’ and that’s just what they’ll do, and  one of these days these shoes are goin’ to walk all over you’ and I shan’t be with you on your ‘perfect flying honeymoon’ either.

© Caroline Bennett

Winter Writing Prompts

Here are some great winter writing prompts with photographs to inspire you…
Grab a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle up on the sofa, or get settled in your favourite writing spot… and check out these wonderful writing prompts by Chris Dunmire at Creativity Portal – Click on the text below to view the prompts:

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Cold, snowy winter weather! Looking for some inspiration or the “write” kind of prompting for the winter and Christmas season? Never fear, look right here! These cool writing prompts and photos will help facilitate your creative stories, blog entries, and holiday reflections for the winter season and melt any icy writing blocks you’ve been chipping away at. Grab your writing shovel and dig in!

Time with Friends by Kate Simpson

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A big thank you to Kate, an Open Age Creative Writing group member, who has submitted her inspiring and heart-warming piece about friendship to share with our readers on Wordwise:

Time with friends

Brighton belle I think of her. Many a time have we giggled over lost causes, and when down comforted each other usually over a meal.

The Polish accent is still strong and reminds me of my uncle long since passed. Our mutual love of food especially Polish food is something we share.

It is because of her that I make the trip to Brighton.  Her kindness kills my sadness. Our memories make me happy.

Polish princess or Brighton belle she’s my forever friend.

© Kate Simpson

Stepping into Vaughan Williams’ shoes

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Interesting post about an Open Age music workshop in partnership with Westminster Libraries. Why not listen to some music such as classical or jazz to help get your creative ideas and pen flowing?

Books & the City

Behind the Lines: The music and composers of the First World WarJust when you thought Westminster Music Library’s Behind the Lines programme* was drawing to a close, along comes another workshop, featuring the First World War music of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

This was a specially commissioned adult music workshop for members of Open Age, an organisation with whom Westminster Music Library has forged a fond and fruitful relationship in recent years.

Thanks to generous funding from the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, we were able to re-enlist musicians from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to facilitate a workshop, focusing on the life and music of Vaughan Williams during The Great War, a composer who holds a special place in our hearts as he opened the library to the public in 1948.

This was also to be a morning of ceremony as we were joined by two distinguished guests – Lt. Cdr Tony Pringle and Honorary Alderman Frances Blois – the former to present…

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