Saturday, May 12, 2007

with wings on our feet

I have the smallest feet of anyone I know. I have feet like a birds. Feet like a babies. I have feet like creatures with too many feet to count - where each does a tiny percentage of the work of an average foot. Feet like a water strider, designed to do a jesus dance on the surface of a still pond.

I barely make a sound when I walk, even with my big black boots on. I don’t disturb the dust as I spin in your corners. And you’d hardly know I was passing through, apart from the stop-start buzzing of my thoughts.

When I walk in the rain the drops don’t try to move out of the way like they do for you. Even if I throw myself against them with all force they wont mind, they wont be bruised.

I can climb leaves as if they were ladders, even when they are brittle with autumn surrender. I can tightrope my way across the ceiling using a spiders web, and never look down. I can stand upon your head and you would just think thoughts a little darker from the shadow I cast.

colour is its own reward

Some of the things we were taught at school that seem quite incredible now. Like the lessons about what to do in case of a nuclear attack. How to store tinned foods and make shelters using doors and mattresses. All the symptoms of radiation sickness we were introduced too. I feel out of time - as if I grew up in war time, or in some far flung future. Or maybe it was just the curriculum in my village!

But I remember it cropping up in film and television too. Small talk about powerful men with their fingers hovering over the big red button. I always worried that they might slip or sneeze or have a bad day and launch missiles without really meaning too.

I thought I didn’t have to worry as much these days. Till I realise that now we all have a button. And its probably right beside you now, to your right or possibly your left. It still only needs the press of one finger or possibly a thumb. Its missiles are more varied but no less dangerous. Gambling, buying, selling, investing, chatting, dating, emailing. You name it, you can launch it. All those ‘are you sure’, ‘click to confirm’, ‘proceed’ boxes blinking and begging for detonation. So next time you prepare to click, take a second to think what reaction you are setting in motion before you press that button.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

tread softly

I recently watched a programme called The Human Footprint. It offered visual reconstructions of my wildest dreams and my worst nightmares. It also clarified one big reason why I regularly feel at odds with my world.

Apparently in the UK 3% of the population cannot read at all. But more worrying is that 40% can but choose not to read. And worst of all, more households own 2 cars than 2 novels.

Based on these statistics they calculated that the average citizen would use the equivalent of 24 trees to manufacture their lifetime reading needs.

On average I digest about 50 books a year - so I guess I will destroy way more trees than most people. This is not good - I love reading, but I love trees too. But I guess I can take solace in the fact that I am a great recycler of books.

Books are beautiful when they are new, crisp clean tight white pages held firm in unbroken covers. But somehow they are even better when they come with a history. With other readers thumbprints laid gently on the edges of the pages, other peoples exclamations and sighs tickling the margins. Their bindings a little looser from the distances they have travelled. Their corners a little bent from the spaces they have jammed into. (and what goes for books also goes for people - I prefer recycled friends)

And then I realise its not just books I love to recycle. Its their components too. Playing anagram games with letters - the taste of tongue twisters. Stirring words to make new sentences from old recipes. Mix and match questions and answers - a game of snap played by the wrong rules, where you cant cheat but you always win.