As I Am

I see you.

You with your words of wisdom, telling me, telling us, how to think, how to feel, how to be,

Spewing rubbish of the trash we’ve become. Of nature or nurture, who cares? To your kind we are but a limp beat on a heart monitor, beyond recovery but a drain on resource.

Decisive apes would hand us to fate but democratic baboons make you read a script.

Are we not the voices that matter? Are we just a box ticking exercise that helps you sleep at night?

Well no more.

It is true that a glint of hope dims with every dystopian prediction, but since when did guess set the rule?

Do you think we want to be in debt? That we cannot comprehend Brexit or Trump or taxes? Do you think we’re blind to the world beyond a screen? Please, don’t be so stupid.

I am my own future, their future and I am your future,

Don’t lecture but instead provide the tools to better myself and others. I cannot line my stomach with PowerPoint.

Think of us not as a large figure, but as an array of individual numbers. As I am.

Do not talk at me, but with me. As I am.

Educate, not lecture, inspire, not disillusion. It is not a plea, nor a beg, but pure common sense,

Stop thinking of what your role requires, but of what a broken society demands. I am not a child, but a world changer in training,

Look at me, think of me and treat me as a human being. As I am.

(Written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt Lecture)

Line!

Evoking emotion in me is like filling a massive man-made dam. You keep pushing and pushing to go further, to fill it higher, until suddenly the walls break and water goes everywhere. Many lives and friendships lost, terrible mess, nightmare insurance claim.

Problem is I often don’t know when to stop. It’s like the world is challenging me to tip toe over the thick red boundary, to see the signs and ignore the warnings. To step over “the line”.

Within our family we’re pretty good at keeping each other in check. A slip of the tongue and down the phone you’ll hear me dryly saying “line! Line!” As if I’m  voicing a submarine siren or hitting a desk buzzer. I used to mimic the action, that was until people in public places started expressing concern that I was having a some kind of seizure.

“Line! Line! Line!”

Outside of family there’s no such restriction on what I say. Now obviously I never say anything offensive or plain stupid, I’m not Donald Trump, but that doesn’t stop me saying things that are a bit kooky and classically Alice. A throwaway comment that develops into a very strange trail of thought, carrying on and on until I look up and realise that, at best, no one is listening or, at worst, I get “a look” which says it all; “must remove from LinkedIn.”

Only recently have I discovered that I’m not alone in evoking stupid thoughts. Someone at work is equally resilient to being unable to locate the line. At first I thought “oh my God, another one exists! Yay!” now I’m thinking “oh my God, how does this end? Will the world implode if we share one pun too many?”

I’ll spare you the full detailed story that has developed between us because honestly it’s pretty weird (I know, even by my standards). This fictional life started with an innocent accidental wave on Facebook – 30 minutes later and it had become all kinds of Mighty Boosh.

To make matters worse, the colourful (and ongoing) contents were inadvertently brought from the safe confines of social media and into the office today. You can only imagine the looks (or non-looks) the pair of us were getting. I may have discovered the older, more ‘out there’ version of me, but I’m also discovering why “you can never have too much of a bad thing” isn’t a common saying amongst sensible people. The banter is wonderful, but the confused looks and hole-digging explanations? Hmm, that’s harder to put up with on a day-to-day.

Where is my conversation controller, my stupid stopper, my tame talker? Where is my internal, one word, monologue when I need it the most?

“Line! Line! Line!”

 

Written in response to the WordPress prompt Evoke

An Irrelevant Account

I remember the racket they created in the minor feud between black and yellow. A child of only infant class, I dived under my cot bed while the scuffles continued in the second room. They took my mother away with relative ease on their part. Owing to disease the birthing rate of Executive class were at an all time low, so naturally there was only one place for her.

“Where’s the girl?” Came a wheezy voice from the room beyond. My father’s answer not forthcoming enough, the guards hit their victim with meaty blows and turned to searching the apartment themselves. Five men and three rooms, they found me soon enough.

I remember kicking and screaming as they brought me out into the communal space where my father was being propped up. The lead guard stood beside him, like a puppet prince, he sickly smiled as I was brought forward. 

“Good food makes for bad honour” he commented as he took a single dirty finger down the length of my dark skull.

“How many times Jacon? If you feed your women you’re going to get only pain and misery. This daughter of yours looks positively balanced, how can you let a juicy thing like this wander the township? No signs of hardship or rationing at all.”

This being evidence enough, the stranger proclaimed my father’s fate. He was to be branded as an enemy of The Cause and sentenced to hard labour in the Southern fields.

“Reduce me to Half-Kind!” My father begged. “Or an Executive! Anything but the fields!”

The Cause representative was unmoved as he turned again to look at me. I vaguely remember his face, it was angular and dented, covered with a stretched yellow skin and two dotted eyes. He lowered himself to my level and took my face in one of his bony hands. The official’s dirty spider fingers sprawled across the sides of my face as he turned it side to side. I dared not flinch.

“This one will make a fine candidate,” he said as he turned to face my father. “Thank you for reminding me of the State Agreements Jacon. Despite all your flaws you always had a way with making sure we stayed true to The Cause.”

Recent law had declared that each family of Cousin class offered support in the disease ridden fields South and East. An Executive was required from each household, but the age and gender had never been specified. So, alongside his own, the prisoner also witnessed my sentencing to become a field Executive. My father’s loose tongue decided my fate. Stupid Fallen. As they took me away I remember the briefest of looks on his face as the front door shut on my old life.

By the time I’d been dispatched into the Executive role the field plagues had tapered off and, unlike many of my colleagues, I survived. Our role was meant to be a temporary position, but as the years passed and my life continued I came to reassess my outlook. To develop feelings for others was pointless, humans die, but The Cause remains. Glory to The Cause.

But then my father is now dead, so this account is irrelevant.

 

(Written in response to the WordPress prompt of the day Torn)

Whatever Happened to Duffy?

So, the WordPress prompt of the day is ‘Mercy’ and when I think of mercy my natural reaction is to get on a podium and dance.

And to think, if I’d decided to study Politics I may have had a different reaction to the concept of mercy. A world where Alice is unmoved by the above song. What a sad world that would be.

It did however lead me to wonder: where is Duffy now? Where is Duffy, and Dido and Celine Dion and everyone with a D under five characters?

Well it transpires I wasn’t the first one to think this big question (about Duffy that is. No one seems to have a clue about Dido and I’m quite sure Celine is making plump middle aged women cry in Las Vagas still). Duffy wise, Digital Spy has already addressed this point.

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I didn’t even have to look hard for the article, on a Bing search (don’t judge, I’m too lazy to switch) it came up as second in results under the keyword “Duffy”.

The article paints a story that is heard all too often in the music industry. Too much fame, too quickly, leading to breakdowns and even firing her own publicity team. She went quiet and then fired off a batch of new singles in early 2017 following a break from music. I know, I was completely none-the-wiser either. (If you want the full article click here.)

So there you go. Who says you don’t learn stuff from this blog.

 

Written in response to the WordPress prompt of the day: Mercy

Mess With My Garden, Mess With Me. 

It’s a gloriously sunny day in the fair town of Swindon, Britain. The temperatures are scorching, children are playing about on the lush green communal lawns and there are men walking around topless who really shouldn’t be. So why do I find myself ripping my hands to shreds as I tug away at weeds and vines in my garden?

Crawling under my front hedge to pick up pieces of rogue rubbish, putting together an outdoor table and realising at the finish line I’d screwed one part upside down and thereby having to start all over again. When I bought a house they did no tell me this is how I would spend my finite time on Earth. My government sold me a lie! Damn you Teresa May!

As I look at my patio garden, now with correctly assembled three piece dining set, I acknowledge that to some the small outdoor space would hardly pass as acceptable. The fact that despite the owner’s hard efforts, vine and weed sprouts are already starting to poke through the wicker fence would be inexcusable. There is no water feature or decorative sculpture, no plants and excluding the weeds there isn’t a speck of green. Not a single blade of grass can compete with the paving stones which stretch from the back door to the boarder of my territory. In fact it could be said that the only characteristic feature of the plot is the clothes horse proudly plonked in the centre to catch as much light as possible. As I type my floral duvet in ruffling ever so slightly in the near still breeze. Foliage will make an appearance eventually, as soon as I have the money to buy pots, soil and greenery which requires zero attention to look fabulous. (As I reread that I realise that basically I’m asking to plant a tub of weeds…)

And yet do I care? Pfft, of course not! Because although it’s not perfect and it’s not a 20 acre meadow, it’s mine. Who wants perfect? Who wants to battle a wild meadow on their weekends just to use it as a five minute conversation piece at dinner parties? Not me. You can keep all that, I’ll take my perfectly small, perfectly improve-able garden. It’s not ugly but a work in progress.

It may not be full of colour, bees and landscaped features but it’s mine and that makes it more attractive than any one blossom in your garden. You mess with my garden, you mess with me and my poorly constructed table.

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Written in response to Daily Prompt Blossom

As Replaceable as the Sky

The rain rolls down the cold, hard, glass of my little bedroom and I find myself pondering on the topic of ‘replacement’, debating in my equally little head what the term actually means.

Grey clouds sit high above in a content fashion. On this drizzly January evening it’s hard to imagine that anything else could possibly occupy these temperate British skies. Only occasionally are the plump objects forced to move on, being replaced by a substance more yellow and warmer in personality. One would expect the ants below to rejoice in this uncommon of events, yet the reaction is ironical. Instead of being celebrated, hailed and praised, the British will complain. We’ll moan that it’s too hot, or complain that our offices are insufferable, some will even complain that it’s bad for our health. I can predict the headlines now “Sun Sizzles Cells!”, “Cats Fainting in Cumbria!” (or words to that effect). But, until that happens we will all sit in the gloom and sniff and cough until a suitable replacement is found. We complain when it’s cold, tut and sigh when it’s hot, that’s just how we are. Just as the sun is characteristically warm, our Island is habitually cool.

My gaze moving now from the window, I look across my room until my eyes fix on a plastic storage unit, my plastic storage unit. Complete with bugling drawers of linen, stationery and books, I smile at the thought that my life can be summed up by the very existence of this cheap short-term, turned long-term, storage solution. My necessity to collect the trivial but essential fuels its existence. However when the time comes to move it will, at best, be relegated to a dark corner or, at worst, disposed of entirely. In short, it will be replaced. It’s years of service will mean nothing. Utilitarian style is after all so 1941. In the history of never has anyone ever shown off a £15 storage cabinet to visitors. It has skills, it has done me no wrong, but it is ugly. Like the grey skies above me, it must be replaced.

The books stacked on top tell the stories of fictional individuals, but they also whisper unwritten tales of the reader who studied each page so very closely. They speak, to pardon the pun, volumes. The reader has laughed, cried and everything in between whilst flicking through the dog-eared pages of these novels, sat on the plastic storage unit. I happen to know her very well. And yet, they have been read now, the stories seen, the lessons learnt, which is why they now stack up in an ever growing pile. There is no space to put them anywhere else. They used to look pretty, create the feeling of an intellectual figure who reads a lot, but now the reader has had enough of these books, she bores of them. Overnight the stack has turned from romantic to repulsive. Yes, new books are needed, but the old ones must be given new homes. They may be of a different breed to the generic storage unit, but then surely one book is as good as another? After all they all have jackets and pages, what are a few differing words? Yes, the old needs definitely needs replacing with the new.

Isn’t it funny how a seemingly harmless word can be, well, so harmful? So insulting and damming. ‘Replacement’ is not a term that fills one with optimism. To replace someone or something is to hope that their successor does an equally good job with an additional quality or characteristic that is more appealing. Failing that, one hopes that the replaceor can do the same job, at the same level, with no complaint. No one ever asks for a ‘lesser replacement’. I want the sun to come out, but yet my lifestyle won’t cease to continue if it remains grey for the next six months. I want a prettier storage unit, but I don’t want it to fall apart on day one. I want a new book but I don’t want it to be full of nursery rhymes.

I have heard people say “anything can be replaced if you look hard enough” and then witness these same people grumbling as they struggle to find a healthy, tasty, alternative for chocolate. If everything was replaceable then wouldn’t all food be the same, all objects identical, all creatures predictable? The uniqueness of life itself is what makes our planet as beautiful as it is and what makes each ‘thing’ unchangeable.

Nothing is truly replaceable.

(Written in response to the Daily Post Replacement)

Nablopomo Day 14: A Girl Named Tuna

Question. If you were to see someone stare right at you and exclaim “tuna!” what would be your first reaction? Whether that person was mentally sound or not, you’d probably avoid them, right? That would be the normal reaction to have. Unfortunately, normal and Alice Bennett never have quite gone hand in hand, which is why, at the sound of someone shouting “TUNNNNAAA!” I will instinctively look to the noise’s source and give a cheery wave.

To backtrack a little, during my secondary school days I was obsessed with the consumption of tuna fish. Pretty much every lunch consumed in the school canteen was tuna based. Jacket potatoes, wraps, baguettes, you name it, (as long as it had tuna in it) I ate it. To my small group of friends I was known as ‘tuna’, to the dinner ladies serving the jacket potatoes I was known as “the usual?” (and let me tell you, in a school of 1300 students it was quite an achievement to have your order remembered). For about three years I accepted my nickname as a rite of passage. With three other Alices in my year I also enjoyed being distinguishable from the heard.

Then I grew up.

When I left for university I decided I didn’t want to be linked to a smelly tinned fish that not everyone likes. In addition, on a student budget tuna turned from being a staple into a luxury food product, one that was seldom consumed in the face of cheap chips and discount chocolate. On every level, the name ‘tuna’ had to go. After eighteen years of avoiding the cliché I found myself shouting over bass line music “it’s Alice, you know, as in Alice in Wonderland?” To the most part it worked, I was able to breeze through university with no in-joke nicknames. However what I have discovered is that old habits die hard which is why, five years after secondary school, my Meerkat reactions are being activated still by someone yelling tuna from the other side of the street. My old school friends persist on doing it because they know it’s the only way to get my attention and, as much as it pains me to say it, it still works.

Why couldn’t I have just stuck with pizza and burgers?

(Written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt, Fish)

Bloggers: Keyboard Warriors in Masks

In response to the Daily Prompt: Mask

Whenever I think of the word ‘mask’ I think back to a classic movie that was essential viewing for any child growing up in the noughties. A magical tale all about being true to yourself and never being afraid to strike out. I’m talking about the 00’s classic A Cinderella Story, starring the adorable Hilary Duff and Chad Murray (does anyone know what Chad did before/after this film?)

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For those of you who haven’t seen the film and can’t pick up the general premise from the title “A CINDERELLA Story”, let me summarise the synopsis. Duff plays the heroine Sam, a teenage girl who, through loss of her father, is forced to live and work for her ‘evil’ stepmother and stepsisters. Unlike the fairy tale, Sam doesn’t just clean the house, oh no, she also works at her father’s diner (now run by her stepmother). The only thing keeping her spirits alive is her ongoing, text/email (this was the 00’s – email was still a thing) relationship with ‘Nomad’, later turning out to be Murray’s character Austin – the school’s quarterback AKA Prince Charming.

(We don’t know how the pair exchanged numbers given in 2004 Tinder didn’t exist, nor do we question why no one is concerned over Sam’s online relationship with a stranger. You have to assume that everything is above board because Hilary Duff is there.)

So, speed things up and the pair agree to meet at a high school dance. Both Sam and Austin attend the same high school and both have had passing glances and ‘hellos’ (i.e. they both have seen each other around). Not wanting her crush to know her true, low status, identity, Sam wears a mask. She maintains her normal voice and changes nothing about her appearance. What follows was, and still is, one of the biggest movie frustrations of all time.

(Skip to about 1:30 in on the video below)

Seriously Austin, you don’t recognise her? She’s literally wearing a bit of tin foil for a mask. It’s the sort of thing I’d knock up if someone told me I had to be at a masquerade ball in five minutes.

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And don’t you later bump into her at the diner where she works, have a conversation AND YET STILL NOT RECOGNISE HER!??

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I tell you what, if I was this guy I’d be round Austin’s place every day.

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Ultimately *spoilers* the pair get together and live happily ever after. However people the world over just couldn’t get their heads around Austin’s inability to see the blinking obvious. A simple mask, and yet he couldn’t see it was Sam who was wearing it. I mean it’s hardly:

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That said, I can sympathise with Austin struggling to decipher something which appears to be obvious.

On WordPress, BlogSpot, Blogger etc. you’ll find many different types of writing style and genre. There’s informative blogs, blogs on travel, blogs on baking, current affair articles, opinion pieces and even mermaid related ones. However, despite the style and theme of our writing one thing unites us all; we’re all bloggers.

Right now you’re wondering what the heck bloggers have to do with masks. Well I often think we bloggers are the ones with the tin foil masks on. We write, be it for a living or something on the side and the readers, well, they read what we write. They come away feeling inspired or informed. Perfectly understandable, that’s what we’re here to do. (In my case the readers often come away thinking “what the hell was that all about?” but that’s by the by.) What readers don’t always see though is that what we write may not always be a full representation of the bigger picture or us as individuals. An example came once when I was talking to a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time and they said “you know, you’re different in real life compared to what I was expecting. I’ve read your blog and it’s nothing like you at all!” Being not entirely sure how to react to this I just laughed and carried on. I found it a it a little bizarre that someone had formed an entire opinion and image of me based just on the wacky things I write after a day in the office. I was wearing (as I see it) a very small blog mask, but they were couldn’t see that there might be a different person behind it.

What I’m sort of trying to say is that all bloggers are, to one extent or another, wearing a mask. Some may be wearing a full-blown Spiderman costume, others a mere piece of card with eye holes, but regardless we’re all wearing a mask. At the end of the day blogs are intended to be public affairs. Would I want someone important knowing certain aspects of my life? No. Do I really have the time and sanity to be informing my readership how many times I went to the loo today? Yes No. We write to entertain, not to bore. And what we write is often what we cannot say in real life to your face.

I therefore propose a new definition for the term “Blogger”…

Blogger: creative keyboard warrior.

Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Odd Trio.”

In my quest to post more stuff on this blog in the intervening time while my mind concocts amazing ideas for longer pieces (keep you eye out for a Christmas shopping themed post – Working title: “Christmas confessions of a Grimgrad shopper, well, not confessions because if they were confessions I wouldn’t be putting it on a public blog for all to read, nor would be I be casually whipping my phone out in shops to photo products while staff watch me uneasily from behind the till.” That, but a little bit shorter. Also a little bit more interesting. And grabbing. Basically everything this working title isn’t. Hmm…

Stay tuned!

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, I’m doing this daily prompt thingy. I have three items I have to mention, but can you guess what they are? (What do you mean you clicked on the link above and know already? That’s cheating! Be honest, was it prompted by the paragraph above? Ok, noted.)

New readers – this is my style of writing. You get used to it, like a toy soldier riding a cat. It’s weird and not normal, but you can’t help but look at it anyway.

I’ll be honest, this is not a fabulously amazing evening. My knee is still not great (see http://wp.me/p5kuli-je for the background), in fact I actually believe that doing no exercise has somehow made it worse. Classic Alice. As such I’m spending the evening in the house as opposed to hitting the fitness classes. Nice cosy night in I thought. That was until I realised I have nada food in. All I have in my cupboard is Ainsley Harriot couscous and a tin of Sainsburys basics soup. Let the battle of the medicore foodstuffs begin!

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With my knee I’m not taking any more chances so I’m facing the choice of a bowl of soup or a pile of couscous. If this was live TV I’d get people to vote on what I should eat, but the BBC has yet to approach me with a broadcasting deal so I’ve had to make this decision for myself. After a long hard think (over 20 seconds), I’ve gone for the soup. Why? Because a) with my leg I’m still classing myself as ill and b) I’m still trying to get over watching Ainsley doing the salsa on Strictly Come Dancing:

Looking at the packet of couscous all I can think about is him telling me to not touch his tomatoes. Couscous also involves water which will indefinitely mean I spill at least half of it on the floor, resulting in me dragging out the floor towel to mop it up. Once upon a time it may have been a beach towel, it’s certainly big enough to have been one, but years of washing and mopping up our sorry excuse of a kitchen has just killed it. You know the Wizard of Oz? Our floor towel went through the reverse affect. Was pretty, now bleak and dead.

So soup it is!

“Waiter! One can of sad soup for one if you please! Oh and can I get some extra frozen, reduced-price, bread and a glass of orange squash to go with that?”

Don’t you just envy the lie of a Grimgrad?

(Ps, the three items were a cat, a bowl of soup and a beach towel. And you thought it was going to be Ainsley Harriot’s tomatoes.)

Pps, all of the above is true.

If I Don’t Post It, No One Else Will

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.”

(Before you ask, the question was not “if I have $999,999 and I add $1, how many dollars will I have?”, it was “why do you blog?” Well I was in Swindon’s beautiful town centre on lunch…

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Truly a centre of chavs beauty paving slabs.

Swindon is a landlocked place, with no sea or lakes anywhere near it. So imagine my surprise when, full of November gloom, I saw a video of fish playing on the said screen pictured above. A video that bore no relevance to Swindon, the time of year or even this country:

Not even the pigeons are interested.

In a spookily empty area I found this video both random and hilarious (as you can probably hear in the audio). Only on a blog can I upload and post random insights such as this.

If I don’t post it, no one else will.

(You’re welcome.)