Friday, March 27, 2009

On, on to the next stage.

I really enjoy doing the activities for this course, and the tutorial activities have been great for boosting my imagination, and teaching me how to construct a decent story or poem, but my gears are having to be notched up a little, as I now start the preparation needed to produce something decent for the next two TMA's, plus start on my ECA!

Fortunately, my tutor has informed me that, with some major re-working, and adding on to the story, my Seasickness essay can be part of the ECA, along with some poetry. This means that I will be showing both my tutor, and whoever else has been chosen to mark my ECA, that I have a good range, and will show that I am absorbing all that the BRB is teaching me! I will also, hopefully, be able to impress them enough with my work, that I will get a good pass mark, bearing in mind that the ECA is worth 50% of the overall course marks. (I can but dream!).

I've already started the work needed for my 04 TMA and, apart from some final tweaking, I feel I've produced something decent, but I'm still blank with 05, as I need to produce something - either a fiction story, some autobiography, biography, or poetry, find a magazine that it would suit, and then go through the motions of preparing my piece for submission to the chosen magazine, without actually submitting it.

To further complicate things, I've still got to produce something within the O.U. parameters for the TMA, as well as fullfilling the magazine's rules.

I'm going to have fun, I can see!

In the meantime, here's some of my contribution to Activity 22.3, where we had to:

Think of a place from your past (not necessarily your childhood, it could be from your more recent past) – it might be a room, a street, or a garden, but not necessarily any of these. You choose. Spend ten minutes listing things about the place or creating a cluster for it in your notebook.
Then either write 250 words or write a 16 line poem about the place.

I decided to write about what was laughingly called the 'Dining Room' in an old farmhouse we used to live in. This was a room that had abandoned all hope of habitation well before we moved into the house and had, at one point, been used as the 'laying-out' room for any deceased member of the family prior to burial - something definitely not condusive to fine dining!
I chose to write a free-verse poem:

You silently watched the passing of the years,
with your dust-filled carpet, and grate full of ash.
Through the ages you reflected the lives within,
and became the resting place of the dearly departed.

With the sad, brown tones of the seriously neglected,
You had no choice of the use you were made.
Like a ghostly echo, you saw the fleeting lives of many,
all those empty lives, and useless ties, of nothingness within.

Mould patches fleck the rising damp that begrime your walls,
a testament to neglect, and barely-used empty rooms.
Fly-spotted window panes, dimmed by dirt and dust,
let in spots of sunshine, that show up grimy tiles.

The darkened corner of the farthest blank stone wall,
echoes all the yesterdays of nothing used, no life here.
Named the dining room, though no food has appeared
in all the living memory of those who lived within.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seasickness in Tutorial 4!

We had our Tutorial 4 assignment posted up on FC the day before yesterday, and we had to write a piece about a strong physical reaction, using all the things we have been taught so far. We were instructed to write a list of around six things in our lives that caused this, and then choose one of them to write about.
We weren't given a word-count, so I just sat and wrote - and wrote! I ended up with a 1,200 word ancedote, so I put it up on our tutorial group forum, and my tutor posted her comments yesterday morning - she enjoyed it very much, thank heavens and, apart from some niggles about my speech punctuation (which I know I need to work on), she was complimentary of my story, which was a huge relief for me!
Anyway, I figured that I might as well post the story on here for people to enjoy!


As the fishing boat made it’s way out of the sun-lit harbour I sat, relaxed and ready for anything, on the bench seat that followed the curve of it’s sides. With me were the skipper of the boat, Winston Evans, my husband, Bob, and ten holidaymakers, all intent on having a great time, and determined to catch the mackerel we were promised were in abundance at the moment. The skipper, standing in his tiny wheelhouse, steered the boat expertly out towards the open sea, and there was a gentle murmur of excited chatter as we all looked out ahead.

Above the chugging sound of the engine, and the mingled smells of diesel and old fish, there was a tang to the air, that unique smell that could only be found out on the sea itself, of ozone, and kelp, and the heavy saltiness that goes onto your tongue as you take each breath. As we sped along, the waves slapped at the bow of the boat, and left ripples behind in it’s wake. There were a couple of seagulls flying above the boat in anticipation of any spoils thrown from the overeager holidaymakers, and they cried out occasionally, as if encouraging the boat to make more speed.
As if in answer to this, the skipper let out the throttle, and the boat surged forwards, slapping at the waves as if using them as springboards to get further along. I immediately felt a touch of nausea, and I swallowed hard, and took a deep breath of the cold, clean air to counteract it. The nausea subsided, and I sighed quietly in relief, not wanting to spoil the trip for anyone.
I was actually a very reluctant passenger, and had only agreed to the trip to please my in-laws, who were safely ensconced on the beach, looking after our two-year-old daughter, and who had gaily paid for the fishing trip as a ‘treat’ for Bob and I – this was a treat I could have done without, but hadn’t had the heart to dampen their enthusiasm so, here I was, beginning all the signs I knew meant I was in for a rough time, and too cowardly to say anything before we were too far out to do anything about it.
It was with some relief that we eventually found ourselves at the “perfect spot to catch a bite,” as the skipper phrased it, and I was relieved to feel the boat slow, then stop at last. The skipper came out of the tiny wheelhouse, then went to the bow of the boat, and released the cable that let the anchor drop down into the depths. It made a satisfying ‘splash’ as it hit the water, and some of the holidaymakers started snapping pictures of everything around them. Bob stood up and stretched, then casually made his way to the aft of the boat, his body adjusting to the rise and fall that the waves caused, then he moved along to chat to the skipper, I presumed about the fishing, as he was interested in getting as many fish as he could for our freezer.
As I sat there, I stared ahead at the horizon, and gradually became aware of the rise and fall of the bow in my sight. I immediately felt a hot flush to my cheeks, and my stomach gurgled in rebellion at the sight. I drew another quick breath of air, hoping to stave it off, but immediately felt a strong surge of nausea again. In panic, I quickly stood, then leaned over the side of the boat, frantically taking deep breaths, but all I could see below was the boat going up and down in the water. With a wail of embarrassment, I immediately threw up every scrap of lunch I’d just eaten, then crouched there in misery, empty stomach heaving away.
I felt a hand go to my forehead, pushing my hair away from my sweating face, and supporting my head, and I smelt the woodsy aftershave Bob always wore. “Why didn’t you say you felt ill, love? You didn’t have to come, you know.” His tone was concerned, but my feelings of guilt at not having the nerve to say anything, gave it an accusatory sound. “I didn’t want to spoil mum and dad’s treat,” I wailed, as yet another spasm wracked my body. Behind me, I could hear exclamations from others on the boat and, just a few feet away, I heard the unmistakable sound of someone else losing their lunch, and further on again, someone else. It started a chain reaction that ended with only the skipper and Bob in full control of themselves, and eleven miserable, shivering wrecks leaning over the sides.
Bob came up and handed me some tissues he’d found in his jacket pocket, and I wretchedly tried to mop up, dabbing at the tears that streamed down my pallid face, hands shaking in reaction. I looked down and, to my shock, the head of a dolphin sat in the water, mouth grinning away at me, and sitting just below me. “ You’ve just missed lunch,” Bob called gaily down at it. This broke the ice, and set people laughing who, seconds ago, had been utterly miserable, and I felt able to turn around and face the boat-load of people who, instead of fishing, were all now huddled around the sides, trying to recover.
“I’m so sorry, everyone,” I said, almost afraid to look at those around me, “I was fine until I saw the bow going up and down . . .” I trailed off as my stomach lurched, just at the thought of the movement.
“That was your mistake missus,” the skipper chimed in, “one of the worst things you could do, is that. No wonder you decided to feed the fish, instead of letting them feed us!” The people around me laughed half-heartedly at his joke, and a sense of normality gradually came about, with strangers chatting to each other as if the best of friends.
I sat, shivering with the cold of reaction, and I felt drawn, almost old. I didn’t want to suggest curtailing the trip, as everyone had paid a fee to come out there, so I sat in silence, Bob’s jacket wrapped around my shivering shoulders, while everyone recovered, then started to get out the fishing rods provided by the skipper. Bob came and sat besides me. “It’s okay, love,” he murmured quietly to me, “you won’t need to stay here long. As soon as the dolphins appeared, I realised there’s no chance of catching many fish. I expect Winston will just let them try for a while before taking them back, and they all seem to be having more fun taking pictures of the dolphins than fishing anyway, so I don’t think they’ll be that disappointed.” He hugged me gently, then moved off to show a novice how to bait the rods, and I sat there, feeling like I wanted to die, praying for the time to go by speedily, and determined, if I made it back safely to shore that, never again, would I step foot on to a fishing boat – and I’ve kept that promise!

(1,204 words)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My TMA results are back!

Well, I got my results at last - a healthy 72% - and, while they were good, I was disappointed that I hadn't done nearly as well as my previous TMA.
I guess it's picky of me, but I had worked so hard on these poems, and it makes me feel that I'm not as good as I'd hoped to be.

Anyway, I'll post my poems on here, and you can decide for yourselves - I guess that will be the only way I'll know for sure!

Free Flight

I gaze across the landscape of a purple-headed mountain,
my eyes are drawn above it to a speck of moving air.

I strain to make out what the shape could be, and then I realize -
a female Golden Eagle is the form that hovers there.

Go softly, gallant creature, to your lofty mountain aerie,
keep right away from places that all men have seized upon.

Go guard against his greed and lust for fragile, speckled treasure,
make all tomorrow’s children safe, until the men have gone.

You fly so high up in the sky, that you can touch the glory
of God’s kind face, and now the race to live is carried on.

A Clock

Faint smell of plastic,
and a tic-tock noise,
numerals around the face are luminous.

First hand, second hand,
marking us in time -
reaching gently forward
in a metronomic rhythm.

This becomes a race against time’s normal pace.
Sending seconds swiftly back into the past

Ticking time goes forward now,
slicing sharp as knives.

I wrote the third poem (not shown here) On The Trapeze for my daughter, who has just started learning trapeze work, and will start her training in earnest this summer. She had been trying to describe how she feels whilst up there, and this poem started to develop from that. I chose the Villanelle as the form to put it in, as it held the right shape for me to express my daughter's words to me.

I hope you enjoy the poems! :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Day School

For the first time since I started with the O.U., I was able to go to a day school today!

To be fair, it was the combination of my disabilities, and the distance needed to travel to one, that has always prevented it before but, this last week, our tutorial group was informed that there would be a day school relatively nearby, in the University of Aberystwyth.

It was with some trepidation that I got on the bus this morning (7th), and started my journey, but I was joined further along the route by another lady from my tutorial group, and so we spent our travel time 'talking shop', so-to-speak! :)

It seemed no time at all that the bus arrived at the stop in the town, and we got off with just enough time to get ourselves a lovely cup of coffee, before the linking bus came that would take us to the Uni.

We were both nervous, being total novices at this sort of thing but, in no time at all, we found our way to the senior common room, where we were to meet the rest of the attendees, as well as the two tutors who were holding the school.

By the time we were due to start, there was a lovely group of seven students, plus the two tutors, and we began with a joint discussion on autobiography, which lasted until lunch time arrived. In that time, we had written some exercises that involved the Life Writing section we were due to begin on this weekend, where we were given an option to write, and where we then took it in turns to read out what we had written. It was a great way to get to know each other a little, and we all enjoyed listening to other people's viewpoints.

After lunch, we divided into our individual tutorial groups, where we discussed biographies, and also did some more written exercises. This was great fun, as there was almost a one-on-one relationship with our tutor, which meant that any concerns or questions were answered as we needed.

We then joined up once again as one group, and the discussion turned towards our forthcoming TMA 04 - and also the ECA (End of Course Assignment) which is our final assignment but which, we were informed with no doubt at all, we needed to start work on now, if we were to give it the full benefit of time needed. Our ECA is weighted for 50% of the course marks so, as you may imagine, it is vitally important for us to make sure we give it our best work!

With all the in-depth discussions, the hand-out notes, and the question and answer sessions, the day school was well worth the time, effort, and pain, it cost me to go there, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I left there, much better armed with what I need to do, than I had been before - and there was the added bonus of being able to put faces to names with both tutors and fellow students!

I am now so much more confident that I can tackle this next section, if not with total ease, then with a clear idea as to what is expected of me and my work. Well worth the effort!

By the way, I still haven't got my 03 results back yet, but will be getting them some time next week! When I do, I'll be posting them here for all to read.