Tag Archives: New Year

Beneath a Square Sun

How quickly January has gone. The passage of time continues to confuse and mystify me. I mean, how can January be over already? Where’s all that time gone? It’s relentless, it never pauses for rest of respite, it just keeps on coming; an unstoppable temporal juggernaut. But gone it has, and the dawn of February will soon be upon us. Tradition dictates that I now talk about the weather. There has been a lot of snow. Most of north-east of America was recently buried under numerous feet of snow. The same is also true for the United Kingdom. Except where I live. I didn’t get any snow. I’m feeling quite bitter about this if I’m honest. I like snow.

If like me you feel betrayed by the weather, please feel free to assuage your sorrows with some short stories.

41 - Jan 2015 - Beneath a Square Sun

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January’s Pictonaut Challenge

The New Year is upon us, and with it comes the advent of new beginnings, of something fresh, vital, brimming with raw potentiality and the opportunities for outrageous shenanigans. But most of all the air is filled with the smell of hope. It smells of soap, and mint and freshly baked bread. The hope that maybe this year will be better than the last, or the hope that we’ll finally get round to doing that thing we’ve been meaning to do for years, or perhaps that this will be the year you “finally get your shit together.” A new year is ever a time of strange, unexplored frontiers and of terrifying unknowns. So strap on your sturdiest boots and prepare to venture into the land Beneath a Square Sun.

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And thus January comes to an end, and a particularly damp and dreary end at that. The sky bleeds like someone’s made a botched attempt at amateur surgery on our once glorious firmament. I’m going to be honest, it’s been a pretty dire month as January’s go. I usually adore rain but there can be too much of a good thing, nor has the ambient temperature come anywhere close to it’s seasonally appropriate winter chill. It’s been almost offensively mild (though my electricity bill will no doubt change my view on this in due course.) On top of this I have spent the balance of this month gripped by a vague and malignant malaise of spirit and soul. A cocktail of general-all-purpose fatigue, listlessness and the continued manful battle to not vomit everywhere. It has prompted me to actually get round to registering a the local health centre. As you read this I will most likely be being poked and prodded by a crack team of physicians, chirurgeons, quacks, apothecaries and shamans. After their examination they will, to a (wo)man, declare “Well Mister Verbumancer you seem to be perfectly healthy, if somewhat clinically dead.”

You know, standard January fare.

29 - Jan 2014 - Mercury - Cornelius Dämmrich Continue reading

January’s Pictonaut Challenge

Today is the first day of Two Thousand and Fourteen. The day has been cold and grey, the sun a wan and sickly thing. The gloom has pervaded throughout the entire day and so has the rain. rain so persistent and unrelenting that one would be forgiven for thinking that the world is crying; mourning the passing of Two Thousand and Thirteen. The world must go on, even though its old friend is now gone. There is something comforting about rain and cloud, something reassuring, something old and dependable. And that is a good thing to have when confronted by the myriad of possibilities that lay before us all. The beginning of a thing is always the most terrifying, the most monstrous and insurmountable. For to begin a thing we must overcome the mountain of inertia and haul ourselves up from the very bowels of the potential energy well. But once that’s done? Then it’s a downhill slope. Things get easier. Either that or you encounter an unforeseen co-interaction or strange quantum phenomenon and everything either catches fire or ends up filled with gribbly abominations from the Before Time. Swings and roundabouts really.

Other things once begun continue, ad infinitum, such is their inertia that they cannot be stopped by conventional means. They merely continue, because that is the way things are. So here we are in the first day of the first month, let us visit the first of the planets, let us visit Mercury.

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Ringing in the New Year

In May 2012 I, as I have done every month for the last two and a bit years, wrote a story. It was called Starwatcher. It was an attempt at pulpy sci-fi with a slightly alien feel to it. Though I do quite like it, in of itself, it is nothing special. The piece originally had a brief epilogue to it that was perhaps no more than twenty or thirty words. In the end I got rid of it. It felt tacked on, superfluous, unnecessary. Over the intervening year and a half, that expunged epilogue sat in the back of my mind dormant and unmoving. Then one day it sprouted and grew and then flowered into something beyond my wildest expectations. This now completed epilogue is longer than the original and has been a labour of love. Writing it and the subsequent re-readings caused me to be almost overwhelmed by “Feels.”

During its composition I reflected quite a lot on love, friendship, relationships and what exactly they meant. How they define people, how it changes who the are. This quickly became an act of self-reflection as I thought about the most important relationships in my life. My life has been remarkably free from romantic entanglements, the relationships which have dominated my life are those between myself and my friends. By the metrics of television and film my life should be lonely, empty and unfulfilled. But it’s not. My life is rich, richer than I often realise. So I dedicate “The Watcher of Stars” not to any individual or great romantic love past or lost, but to the relationships which have really mattered to me. The ones without which I would be less than I am. I dedicate it to my friends.

This story is for Sam and Tonks, for being there despite not being able to be there; for Sarah and Pinaz, for sharing a house with me and living to tell the tale; for Gareth and Chelle, for visiting and being so insufferably sweet together; for the two Davids, for their internet shenanigans and good natured treachery; for Andy and JP, for knowing me as long as they have and still not hating me for it; for James and Neil, for scaring my mind in ways which will never truly heal; For Amy and Vicki, for risking social suicide by agreeing to be seen in public with me; for Mick and Steve, for proving to me that I am not the worst human being in existence; and for Marc and for Jess, for always teaching me something new, and for being so singularly interesting that I could just listen to them talk for hours. And a final thanks to the ensemble cast of my life, you are legion, beyond counting and beyond importance.

Even if I have never said it before or never say it again: You people matter to me in ways I cannot quite put into words. Without you I would just be a husk of gradually expiring meat. With you, I still am a husk of gradually expiring meat, but you make me feel not so bad about the fact.

Wherever you may find yourself, in love, in life and in space; I wish you all a Happy New Year. May this coming year be filled with not that which you want, but that which you need.


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January’s Pictonaut Challenge

January the first, two thousand and fucking thirteen. Somehow, against all conceivable odds mankind has yet again managed to drag itself through a whole 365 and a quarter days without wiping itself from existence. If that alone is not cause for some small measure of celebration then I sure as hell don’t know what is.

While you all rise, sleepy and rheumy-eyed from the fug of a hangover for which you have no one else to blame but yourself, I am not with you. By means of ancient and secret manipulations of technology and time itself, I, your benevolent and gracious blogger, am still mired in the last plaintive death rattles of two thousand and fucking twelve. I’m drinking single malt whisky from a cracked glass tumbler that I bought from Marks and Spencer’s 5 years ago. I’m thinking, wondering and generally pondering upon the nature of things. I am, as ever, alone. My sole company is my own thoughts, both my best friend and my greatest nemesis. By rights I have probably had too much to drink, and so do I sidle down into the dark and foetid recesses of sentience while gazing into a fluid the colour of gold. There’s probably a metaphor for avarice and rampant consumerism in there somewhere.

As with the end of any year I find myself looking backward to what has gone before, it’s only natural at such a calendrical milestone. A stock check if you will. In my case I find, once again, that some one’s smashed the big glass window at the front of the store, piled half the stock into a rusty old shopping trolley and done a runner. There are so many things that remain unfinished and incomplete. It’s the nature of things, nothing is ever quite finished, something always slips through the cracks. There’s things which you just never quite manage to sort out completely and/or to the best of your abilities. Things which you’ve left unsaid or opportunities that have been left untaken, things which leave a big yawning hole somewhere deep inside, a hole that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t quite manage to fill. It’s always like this, this is how all years end. Northing is ever finished, not even at the very end of all things, that is just a stop, a big black line under everything. It’s not a finish; finish implies completion. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we gird ourselves, put on our war-face, arm ourselves to the teeth and threaten to fuck life up something proper there will always be things left undone. All years are a war, the months are campaigns, the weeks are battles and the days are bloody skirmishes. We are nought if not the sum of our mistakes, alloyed with our regrets.

What matters is how a man (or a woman, or non-gender specific entity. Let’s not discriminate here) weathers the assault of the years, how they traverse all the myriad of pitfalls, spike traps, trip-wires and shit-flinging monkeys that life puts in front of us. How against all the odds, no matter how battered and broken we get, we manage to muster up enough strength to raise one single, solitary middle-finger to the world. What matters is how we manage to keep ourselves going, how we keep Plodding On.

17 - Jan 2013 - Plodding On

Plodding On

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January’s Pictonaut Challenge

Today is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, a time for contemplation, reflection and meditation on what has been and gone and what is yet to come. It is 2012, what wonders await us all? With it being the first of the month it’s time for the Pictonaut Challenge begin once again. If you’ve recently made a resolution to do more writing this year then the Pictonaut Challenge should serve as a nice little start. Only a thousand words a month, hardly anything in the way of rules and no real pressure to perform, how can any right thinking writer resist?

A new year always carries with it a little bit of mystery. No one really knows what’s in store, it is unknown and unknowable. This month’s picture has an air of the unknown about it, something I think is most fitting to the dawn of a new year.

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