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tollam's (tollam on UKA) UKArchive
11 Archived submissions found.
And Life Rattles On... (posted on: 09-04-04)

The night train has no stops.

An ode to the obvious and a message to a friend "If the crowd is hostile, don't listen to the jeers"

Fingers crack to the rhythm of the beat
As the clock chimes twice and you listen for the feet

The sound of the thud as the car door slams
The hapless laughter as the clown falls down

You wait for the shuffle and the turn of the key
The crowd cheers and jeers, as they lean closer to see

The scratching at the lock and the swearing whiskey breath
The falling through the door and the reeking of death

The carousel turns quicker as it shifts into gear
The acrobats swing silently as they watch the drunken bear

Your mouth is dry, your hands unsure
You stand in the darkness as he comes through the door

The lights are dimmed, the crowd awaits
The juggler is still and the lions sedate

The tension rises, the crowds erupt
The bile in your throat, releases the flood

Knees of jelly, arms gone weak
The puppet master smiles "Here, have this little treat!"

Archived comments for And Life Rattles On...

e-griff on 2004-04-09 04:05:02
Re: And Life Rattles On...
er, what happened to the second verse? very puzzled................G

Author's Reply:

shackleton on 2004-04-11 12:37:57
Re: And Life Rattles On...
You've potentially got something rather special here Tollam. It's pretty obvious what treat the puppet master has in mind - such a scene as this must be acted out in a million homes every night. Good, unique tackling of a difficult subject. Not too sure you needed the constant end-rhyme. I thought the rhyme was forced occasionally. Perhaps think about an end-rhyme every 2nd or 3rd verse - I think the whole thing would flow better that way. I did enjoy this kiddo.

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-04-11 14:08:35
Re: And Life Rattles On...
A difficult subject, to be sure. An interesting and illumibnating poem, which i enjoyed.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-15 19:22:54
Re: And Life Rattles On...
I feel I must apologise to all for this...not my usual style at all. I'd love to say I was being brave and attempting something new, but the truth is, a rather disturbing dream (fuelled by a dodgy takeaway no doubt) and copious amounts of alcohol were certainly to blame!

A strange ditty to be sure with some truth and fantasy. Cheers and sorry et al again!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-15 19:27:47
Re: And Life Rattles On...
Shacks I may just have to marry you! This was a strange poetic form for me and I think you're right about the rhymic couplets...too forced or contrived in places. But you are sweet!

Cheers Shacks!
P.S. I love the 'kiddo' bit. Keep calling me that please!!! Yumm

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-15 19:34:18
Re: And Life Rattles On...
Thanks Skeeter!

I always enjoy strange combinations especially when tackling difficult subjects...funerals and spectator sports, domestic violence and horse racing etc. But I don't think this ditty quite works due to some of the rhyming. I'll have to work on that.
Cheers again, you are a honey!

Author's Reply:

flash on 2004-04-21 17:59:16
Re: And Life Rattles On...
How come you know my dad?

I thought that was rather entertaining Tolly.i hope i understood it.

Well done Kiddo. *blushes*


Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-25 12:03:51
Re: And Life Rattles On...
Thanks Flashy! But this one was abit strange for me...too much..er...coffee, but I'm glad you and your dad enjoyed it!

Cheers Tolly xx ('kiddo') *blushes all over*

Author's Reply:

The Empty Glass (posted on: 08-12-03)
Love is not all around, loneliness is.

She traced the ribbon of her loneliness as it threaded down the window pane, the fresh uncaring scent of the rain washing away the energy and will to fight.

Couples spiraled and danced before her, in twisted Bolero skirts and flashes of flamenco, parading down the street, eyes inflamed on each other, hands merging, faces joined as Siamese twins, hearts beating as one.

Life experience - love experience...one and the same, but not for all.

The flowers in her window had faded now, brittle leaves that shattered at a finger's touch, petals hidden from the sun's warmth, their garish colours wasted in the cold blue light of winter.

All life passed before her empty glass, untouched by human hands save hers, unaware of the freak show beneath the normal cheery exterior and the well ordered linens.

What a sad mockery her life had become in the mournful hours of the night, when all human life seemed to scream and her skin seemed to tighten around her.
Archived comments for The Empty Glass
uppercase on 2003-12-11 15:06:28
Re: The Empty Glass
I liked this poem very much I could see her standing and looking out at the rain, looking out as life passed her by. the sadness in her soul. very nice uppercase

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-13 06:07:17
Re: The Empty Glass
Thanks uppercase, that means a lot. I haven't been on UKA or abc very long but I've recently come across your work and I'm quite a fan!
'the sadness in her soul'...v. nice.

Cheers Tollam

Author's Reply:

britgrrl on 2003-12-13 09:07:06
Re: The Empty Glass
Her skin tightened around her! Wow! Great ending line. Tollam you have the 'soul' of a poet, whether you know it or not! Some wonderful lines here, and I love the possibilities of metaphor/analogy with the dance of love/life. These short prose pieces of yours seem to want to marry poems!

But then, I'm terribly biased!

I saw your question about reposting on Distillation, btw: you can edit from the current page and don't HAVE to repost, but your changes are far less likely to be read.

Don't see a completely new post on the same material as a problem at all, and this is what e-griff is suggesting, I believe. Type 'repost' or 'revised' in the heading, if you like.....


Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-13 09:28:29
Re: The Empty Glass
Britgrrl, I may just want to marry you! I've been having a really shitty day, mirrored by the rain and wind outside and your comments have really cheered my soul!

I tend to think in poetical terms but I guess I lack confidence in the medium to really explore the poetic form itself...when I read my favourites, Wordsworth, Milton, Auden, Blake, H.P.Lovecraft, Angelou, Kerouac I am so humbled I tend to shy away from it.

Cheers for your help and advice. I'm going to have a crack at Distillations today if I can.

Thanks again my Trans-atlantic pal!

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-02-15 16:54:42
Re: The Empty Glass
This is terrifically well written, in my opinion. It catches a sense of loss and regret, the sense of alienation when someone feels that what they see in others is what they lack for themselves. I like also the way you have tied this in with the natural, the elemental (rain, faded flowers). I can see this as the beginning of a short/long story: any thoughts to make it into one?

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-04 09:47:29
Re: The Empty Glass
A huge apology Skeeter. Either I am completely losing my mind or something really weird has happened. I actually replied to your lovely comments about a week or more ago, i saw them come up on the front page but now there's no trace of them in the replies section to my work or anywhere else!!!!
So, I say again, thanks a lot and sorry for the long delay in responding (the first time)!!
I hadn't thought of The Empty Glass as the prologue to a short or long story but i suppose it could be one, thanks, I'll see if I can develop it further. Cheers!

Author's Reply:

silentmemories on 2004-04-04 16:50:51
Re: The Empty Glass
Very good flow, excellent word-painting!

Author's Reply:

day_dreamer on 2004-04-04 17:24:56
Re: The Empty Glass
This was so descriptive and well written, it was a joy to read it. Sue.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-06 05:03:36
Re: The Empty Glass
Thanks silentmemories, I like the phrase 'word-painting', as long as it isn't painting by numbers!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-06 05:05:48
Re: The Empty Glass
Thank you day_dreamer/Sue, that's very kind of you. I look forward to reading some of your work.

Author's Reply:

Insincere (posted on: 24-11-03)

People thought I was being 'Stevie Smith', very angst and prone to drama.

If you're old you're 'clinically depressed'...understandable really...all those wrinkles staring back, more years behind than in front, a slow decay of time and body.

If you're 'middle-aged' you're simply in a rut. "Snap out of it!" they say, you're not the self-obsessed youth you used to be, no time for such indulgences.

If you're young you just can't win. The loudest voice in the room but nobody's listening.

Insincerity drips off the young who have a predisposition for blue. My youth has flown away now, my student days a haze. Melancholic writings to paraphrase. But then as now, my blue is simply a part of me, not showy, not angst...quite healthy now actually. No longer just wearing black, colour creeps and leaves its residue, a hue to match my mood.
So no, I'm not waving or drowning, not making a statement, not needing help, quite happy, contented, as much as I can be, not full of old rage and hated resentments. Moving on, moved on...nice place, cheery neighbours, like the view...not insincere, not pretentious, not angst...simply blue.
Archived comments for Insincere
Scorpio on 2003-11-26 14:43:11
Re: Insincere
You put it well - melancholia - sheer poetry in prose.

But ... "your" should really be "you're", an abbreviation for "you are".

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-27 13:53:49
Re: Insincere
Thanks Scorpio! I wasn't sure about this one, but it does 'sum me up'. You're absolutely correct of course...daft mistake, that's the problem with spell checkers they don't pick up on correctly spelt words in the wrong context (thus incorrect).
Cheers mate, I'll sort it out.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-27 14:01:40
Re: Insincere

'your' when it should be 'you're' a common problem for us west country folk...ooahhhheeerrrr!

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2003-12-03 14:11:48
Re: Insincere
simply stated, cheery, thoughtful and poetic. And it rings true. Life goes like that at times.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-07 06:12:05
Re: Insincere
Cheers Skeeter! It's so strange how few of us at any stage of our lives are truly contented. I think contentment and happiness comes in intense snatches, so it's best to revel in it as it doesn't last long.
Thanks again for your comments.

Author's Reply:

The Wishing Tree (posted on: 24-11-03)
Dreams come true.

Evan sat in the branches of her old friend, dangling her legs as usual, trying to be brave, be daring by not holding on. She touched the slender trunk with one hand, willing herself to let go. She'd climbed much higher today, in fact she'd only ever been higher once before, but she was younger and smaller then and thought she was invincible. Age tears down such possibilities, age tells you to be cautious, that you could be hurt, age puts the fear in you.
She watched the breeze catch and lift the leaves around her, dancing them in the broken sunlight. The tree, her favourite since she was a young child, always seemed to be whispering to her, trying to tell her something important, that she couldn't quite grasp. Evan closed her eyes and tentatively raised her arms in the air. She thought of the huge condors in South America, gliding on the air currents with their monstrous wings. Only her balance could stop her from falling, and at this height and especially with those rusty railings below, she knew if she fell she could kill herself.
The tree continued to whisper. She felt the soft wind pushing against her and the dappled light shifting over her eyes. She had the overwhelming desire to just fall.

As Evan trudged up the street she got to the bend in the road where she could see up to her house, sitting proud at the end. A large and rambling house, an old cottage which had been extended and sat on the corner of Wolfridge Road and the lane that led up to The Square. Its overgrown and brambled garden, lined with old trees, including some dead ones, stretched down the road toward her. She looked at the parked cars outside. From this distance she could tell that her father was still in, but her mum hadn't come back from work yet.
Evan stood for a moment deciding what to do. She glanced at her watch. School had finished at 3:30, it was 4:50 now and she couldn't spend anymore time out in case her mum phoned. She walked up the pavement, passing the overhanging holly and the three cars which had been left rotting in the garden for as long as she could remember. The radio was blaring in the kitchen as normal. She carefully lifted the latch of the gate, hoping to avoid the usual squeak, but left it ajar in case she had to run. She stopped outside of the back door. Silence. She couldn't hear him in there, no fridge door clattering open and shut, no screeching of chair legs on the quarry tiled floor. Evan turned her key in the lock, she'd perfected how to do this with no sound at all. She slowly opened the door and stood in the small lobby listening through the stable doors. It was deathly quiet. She closed the back door behind her. She'd chance it, with any luck he'd be kipped out on the couch in the living room glued to whatever sport was on, or he'd be upstairs asleep and snoring. The kitchen was empty. The dog didn't greet her. He must be in the living room with it, thought Evan instinctively looking in the bin to count how many empty cans there were. Seven by her count.
She heard a noise. Shit he's awake, he's coming! Evan grabbed her bag and as quickly and silently as she could she crept up the old cobbler stairs and along to her bedroom. If she was quiet enough he wouldn't realise that she'd come in yet and he might piss on off to work or whatever.
Evan closed her bedroom door and sat on the edge of her bed, listening, perfectly still. The fridge door went again. The radio was highered. She could hear the muffled voice of her father probably speaking to Fluff their dog, or someone on the phone. Yes, now the back door was opening and he was calling Fluff to go out to toilet before he left. She waited. Eventually the dog came in. She waited for the shuffling and scuffling he always did, trying to eventually sort himself out for work. She knew she was safe as long as he didn't come upstairs. If he came upstairs he'd walk along to her room to check if she was in. He sounded as if he were in a hurry. The back door slammed. Evan relaxed. She was safe. She waited for the gate to go then the predicted heavy footsteps back up to the door because he'd forgotten something. The keys in the door again, scraping chairs in the kitchen, heavy footsteps up the other stairs and the thud of him in her parents bedroom. Shit, please go down, don't come along!...Good, the steps were going down again.
"Evan? Evan? Are you in?" came the voice suddenly calling up the old stairs.
She kept silent. Shit, he was coming up, should she hide? pretend she's not in yet? Suddenly the stable door clattered shut and the back door slammed again. Keys locking it now then the gate, then his car. Wait, wait for the car to start and watch it leave. The street lights glowed red as Evan looked out of her window, keeping herself low, and watched as her father drove off.
Great! Relax. He's gone.
The evening came and the lights of the village glittered in the clear cold night. Mum's voice echoed over the answer machine. Staying overnight for a 2-day conference.
"Hello darling. I've just arrived at the hotel. We're going to go down for dinner in a minute"
"Oh right. How's the room?"
"You know, basic, it's alright. Is dad there?"
"Uh..no...he's popped out to Tesco's to get some more milk" Evan lied "D'you want me to get him to phone when he's back?"
"No, don't worry, we'll probably be at dinner. You've seen the dinner in the fridge?"
"Yes thanks"
"And there's salad to go with it if you want"
"Are you alright? You're quiet"
"Yeah I'm fine"
"How was school?"
"It was fine Mum...honestly, everything's fine"
The phone went dead for a moment.
"Okay, well I'll be back tomorrow, it'll probably be around 6 or 7 though. I'll phone you if it's later"
"Okay, have a nice dinner"
"I love you sweetheart"
"I love you too, I'll tell dad you phoned...Have a good day tomorrow...I love you mum"
"I love you too, god bless, sweet dreams darling"
"Love you...bye mum..."
"Goodnight, sweetdreams" The phoned clicked off
"I love you" whispered Evan. She held the receiver in her hand pressing it against her forehead and closing her eyes.
Minutes passed in slow motion. The tick of the grandfather clock in the kitchen and the buzz of the fridge brought her downstairs. Evan switched off the noise of the radio and just listened to the sounds of the house. The familiar creaks and groans she'd grown up with, in a house, a home that she had lived in all her life. That she had loved and feared in equal amounts.
She slowly glided the bolts of the back door across and turned the key. Double locked. Safe. He would have to use the conservatory. This old house which held so many memories, so many secrets. Such magical joy and nostalgic happiness and such terror. Evan stood, her back pressed up against the stable doors, taking in the view. The cracked quarry tiles, the pine cupboards that never quite fitted together. The solemn stretch of the Victorian sideboard, its dark smooth wood and the brassed handles of its heavy drawers.
This kitchen where in summers long past, her mother would stand by the window watching her children play in the garden, chasing each other between runner bean canes and past tended borders full of pansy's, sweet peas and love in the mist. She remembered the constant wail of the radio and the shrill beating of the electric mixer. Her mum had always seemed to be baking. The oven was always on. The wire racks loaded with hot jam tarts or cooling sponges, dishes half full with icing or buttercream, and always water splashed on the floor.
"Mother's been in the kitchen!" they'd joke.
Flour on counter tops, broken egg shells next to the sink. Evan touched the mixer, half tempted to switch it on. She wiped her finger across the rim of the bowl, feeling a thin layer of dust under her skin.

The sky was black now and amidst the rustling tree branches she could hear rain coming once more, perfect.

She switched off the light and left the kitchen in darkness. It was raining. She could hear it clearly now, pounding on the roof of the conservatory. Even in light rain, the sound was so loud the cat would be too frightened to go in there. Now, it was thumping down, hitting the PVC like so many fists. Evan had always found rain to be cleansing, food for the soul, a way of freeing oneself from worries or concerns. But rain like this, the sheer power and violence of it half frightened and half excited her. Standing in the midst of such an onslaught had a way of forcibly emptying any thoughts, filling the head and body with pounding noise and driving the mind out.
She smiled. She was glad it was raining. Like tears she thought...tears for me? She walked into the living room now, the womb of the house. This, the smallest of rooms and the oldest in the house, with its low uneven ceiling and castle-width walls, was dominated by a fireplace far too large for the room, but somehow it worked. The leather sofa, now over 30 years old, bore more creases and lines, but had the warm steady comfort of something lived in, something that had seen and witnessed the best and worst of life and was still here.
A fire had already been laid. Evan lit the paper sticks watching carefully as the smoke and embers spread until she was sure the fire was lit and well on its way. She didn't know why, but she wanted the house to be warm. With any luck, when father returned, at 2 or 3 or whenever, pissed as a newt, he would come in here and just pass out on the couch. She knew he wouldn't check upstairs, so she had plenty of time now.
The smoke curled its way up the black chimney as flicks of flame caught light and the fire was blazing. Evan sat for a moment in its warm glow. The rain had stopped. She glanced out of the window, it was still light, only just though. The wishing tree was waiting. She wanted to reach it before darkness fell. Evan kissed the cat and stroked the dog. She opened the conservatory door and could smell the chimney smoke mixed with the fresh smell of rain. She closed and locked the door behind her. The house was warm and safe. Evan smiled. She had never felt so happy, so light. The wishing tree was calling her, calling her to its branches, to its safe embrace.

It was time to go.
Archived comments for The Wishing Tree
fecky on 2003-11-26 13:18:14
Re: The Wishing Tree
A good insight into someone’s mind. Nice flow, leaving plenty of scope for the reader’s imagination. Just a few typos need cleaning up.


Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-27 13:45:17
Re: The Wishing Tree
Thanks for your comments Paul (fecky). I tend to let this kind of writing flow as if it were a continuous thought...like a stream of consciousness.
It was based on real events, to what degree I'll keep private for now, but I'm glad you liked it.

As for the typos, I do check the work before I post it, but it doesn't surprise me if there are a few errors, I tend to get a little carried away!


Author's Reply:

britgrrl on 2003-12-07 09:48:19
Re: The Wishing Tree
This left a moving, strong impression on me. Very skillfully written in what is left to the imagination here, the last line particularly so: the reader neither knows the details of what violence may be occurring, nor whether this young girl actually returns to the Wishing Tree to end everything.

I loved the poignant longing inherent in the memories of a mother baking and the earlier, more innnocent activities as a child - what used to be. And the instinctive economy and culling of minute detail - choosing only the dust on the mixing bowl, for instance - to show just how much the situation has changed.

Telling this from the young girl's perspective was particularly meaningful for me. I really admire your oblique approach to a tough subject. Has a far more lasting, saddening and discomforting effect, in my opinion, than the naked truth.

As already mentioned, I too think some editing to correct spelling and get the paragraphs in order is needed. A phone which pauses is also a bit distracting. Otherwise, a powerfully and admirably drawn example of showing rather than telling for greater impact.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-08 11:53:55
Re: The Wishing Tree
Thank you SO much Britgrrl, for your kind and insightful comments. You really got me thinking...actually you nearly had me crying!

I have always been a great fan of the minimalist approach. I don't particularly like it when an author takes you by the hand and exposes everything. For me, there has to be room for the reader to explore on their own, come to their own conclusions and generally just allow their imagination to 'fill in the gaps'. I love ambigous and unsettling narratives.

I must be more careful in my editing and typos, that's a problem I need to work on.

Thank you again so much...these scarily perceptive comments really brightened my day!

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-02-15 17:05:39
Re: The Wishing Tree
This is a good, well written story. You do like the elemental touches, don't you?! So do I,. they can, as in this case, add a dimension and strength to a piece. It is refreshing to reada story aboput the mind/experiences of a young person. There atre some terrific, and poetic, sentences in it. " age tears down such possibilities" being omne. I like the ending, it has a cosy, warm feel to it. If I was being picky, I'd say you use the name of the character (Evan) too much, that repetition can grate a bit; maybe its better to use 'she', 'her' etc from time to time. A good read.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-04 09:54:37
Re: The Wishing Tree
Again thanks Skeeter and sorry for the long delay and the first disappeared response!
You're very kind. I didn't view the ending quite as you did, I saw it as being more ambigious, a kind of false cosiness, a veneer covering something else. But I love the way we all view the same things differently. As for your other comment that was very helpful. I think I do tend to repeat character names too much when pronouns will do instead, giving the reader the intellegence of knowing who's talking instead of spelling it out! Cheers again!

Author's Reply:

Apathy (posted on: 07-11-03)
The decaying carcass of our society.

The likeness of being apathetic is merely to look at oneself in the mirror and hum a little tune, the nights horrors having barely registered and certainly not left anything tainted. We walk around as hollow vessels, detached from ourselves, pre-occupying our brains with inane drivel about the latest ring-tone or screw or must have accessory. Our lives and senses have become dull, deadened. We have no heroes or even the desire for any. Cynicism and parody rule the day.

Great deeds are no longer required here...try next door...whoever they are...if they can be bothered to answer.
Archived comments for Apathy
Sunken on 2003-11-07 14:10:17
Re: Apathy
Loved this. Pretty much sums up myself and so many of my friends and family. I'd comment further but I really can't be arsed (-;

Good read. Simple, short and to the point. Perfect for my short attention sp.........


Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-08 08:54:39
Re: Apathy
Thanks your comments, Sunken. Yeah, apathy seems to be a disease that has silently crept over all of us without us noticing (or caring!). Atrophy seems the likely outcome.
It reminds me of so stories you hear about people being attacked in broad daylight, being mugged or beaten or raped, while shoppers walk on by pretending not to hear or see, and the senselessness of violence involved...like stabbing someone even when you've stolen their money and gotten away with it.
Anyway, that's just my depressive view of things...Cheers mate!

Author's Reply:

Permanent Shade of Blue (posted on: 07-11-03)
The reckoning.

Eyes, shiny and black as coal, dead, unseeing, not responsible, floated frighteningly close, always present, always hunting in nightmares. Pupils engorged to swallow any light, any hope of reprise. Hands brutal, rough. Thick fingers, their nails permanently dirty, half bitten half torn, closing round a throat.
The man sat impassively, watching as its progeny shifted in the chair. Heavy lung-crushing pressure divided the air. Who will talk first? High noon...who is the weaker? They both knew the answer.
Evan swallowed, mouth dry, throat like scratched barbs.
"Mum asked me to come. She said you were ill"
The old man sneered a smile, enjoying the spectacle. Yes, the power was undoubtedly his.
"I'm surprised you came. I didn't know you cared"
Evan winced. The cancer before it seemed infectious somehow, crumbling strength, raping will, sucking the very life out.
"I can't stay long"
A smile flickered across its face "No hug for your old man?"
The child could feel itself slip, feel the bile and the anger rising as one, a dark tidal eruption bubbling dangerously close to the surface. Try to keep control.
"I'm staying with friends. I'll visit you on the weekend"
The old man wheezed, playing the part of martyr to perfection, false contrition etched on his face. All the nurses loved him of course. What a nice man, what a generous and funny and caring man.
Evan stood up and stared at the wreck opposite. Why did the righteous die young? Does evil persist, linger on simply because it is evil? because it's own venom and bile sustain it?
"I've got to go" the child mumbled "I won't be back"
The puppet master flinched, suddenly uncertain. It's progeny turned, scuffing its shoes up the chalky steps. It reached the doors, holding them open for a moment, allowing the stale smell of bleach, disinfectant and piss in the corridor outside to waft into the room. Then, without turning, it left.
The old man sat expectantly under the acid yellow light of the ward and waited. His own stench mingled with the others and it smelt like death.

He waited alone...defeated at last.
Archived comments for Permanent Shade of Blue
expat on 2003-11-09 00:26:31
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
Sorry, Tollam, maybe it's just me but I didn't understand this one, even after three readings.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-09 18:18:30
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
Hi expat. Try 'Cirrhosis of the Soul' first...its like the opening chord. Permanent Shade of Blue is simply about the eventual face-off between a child - 'Evan' (now adult) & the figure of its father (a cancerous malignant force) who just hapens to be ill, but still remains no less ominous or corrupting. Still a puppet master in his own way.

Let me know if this helps. Cheers.

Author's Reply:

KDR on 2003-12-08 09:06:18
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
As with Cirrhosis of the Soul, this is hard to comment on despite the feelings of sympathy and empathy it engenders.
Again, it is vivid. The scene and the past relationship between the two come clearly to mind. Nicely written, without wallowing either in the self-pity that the character could feel or allowing melodrama to overwhelm the true power of the piece.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-08 12:25:02
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
Thanks again KDR! It's very difficult when writing a character not to make them too sympathetic. I always prefer ambigous characters with their own agendas that keep me guessing. But of course, when that character is rather close to home the danger is to over glorify them and vilify the other person which then slips into the realms of melodrama. I think that's why so few 'true-life' stories work, because of that decay into melodrama as the author cannot remain objective about it.
Cheers again.

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-04-23 18:22:18
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
You paoint it black at times, not a criticism. The images are harsh, the writing spare. I think evil lives on because other people want it to.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-25 12:25:41
Re: Permanent Shade of Blue
Cheers again Skeeter!
I prefer to leave the writing on the spartan side especially if the suject matter is tough, and let the reader interpret or embellish for themselves. I think there's nothing worse than spoon feeding a reader.

...and you're probably right, evil does mostly live on because others feed it, even if they don't mean to...very tricky!

Cheers Tolly x

Author's Reply:

Misspent Drinking (posted on: 07-11-03)
Sour dreams and alien meetings.

Those screaming silences between stilted conversations with old friends you cannot recall or comprehend ever having had anything in common with. Lives so alien and different now, but you were once thicker than breath, thicker than blood, bound together in each others angsts and melodramas. Years later now. Suits now. Staring blankly at each other over polite mutterings and cappuccinos, lives as empty as the foam crusted cups before you.
Archived comments for Misspent Drinking
Skeeter on 2003-12-03 14:14:00
Re: Misspent Drinking
Woah! is it their lives, yours and theirs, everyones's, or just life as it relates to worn out relationships? However, perceptive and thoughtful.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-07 06:23:33
Re: Misspent Drinking
Cheers matey! I think it applies to a lot of people, a common malaise as we all grow up and grow apart...we do live much more seperated lives nowadays, communities are fragmented and the great divide only gets bigger. I think Dickens would be mortified that we have progressed so little in our relationships with each other.

Yes, it was my life and a close mate, we'd been each other's whole universes for three years and now we are total strangers...no animosity but simply nothing there anymore.

Author's Reply:

Distillations on Silence (posted on: 07-11-03)
The last night of the next morning.

Throbbing of swollen ears, glass coated larynx. The mirror only tells one truth, the hollow space in front, not the deadness inside. Whiskey breath, clots of blood beneath your eye lids. That last shot of poison did the trick. Innocuous sounds from the television drift into the room. Life continues outside, unchanging, un-noticing. The central heating clicks off and so do you ...down to the very last drop.
Archived comments for Distillations on Silence
Sunken on 2003-11-10 06:19:42
Re: Distillations on Silence
Right then! Everyone knows that I'm crap at commenting on 'stuff' but i thought I'd give it another go as this is so damn good! Was that ok? Would anyone like to comment on my comment? I loved this. Short and to the point and with a killer ending. Loved it. I already said that didn't I? Told you I was crap.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-11 15:43:18
Re: Distillations on Silence
Cheers Sunken! I don't know about your commenting being crap...I could be biased but I think its great! (I'm a whore for flattery...) Seriously though, I'm glad you liked it. I don't know why, but everything I'm writing at the moment seems to be very short and snappy...no long monologues or stories...maybe I'm just in a 'short spell'
I just re-read 'black coffee n' suicide' again, great read!

Author's Reply:

britgrrl on 2003-12-11 22:41:11
Re: Distillations on Silence
Loved this title, and the crystal clear detail. Speaks to so much. Could be even more powerful in poetic form, in my opinion. Why don't you try it?

Throbbing, swollen ears
and glass coated larynx -
the mirror only tells one truth:
a hollow space in front,
not the deadness inside.



Author's Reply:

e-griff on 2003-12-12 02:28:15
Re: Distillations on Silence
yes, that actually makes a BIG difference. I like this very much - I'd missed it before - why don't you re-post as a pome? give it a fresh airing ? 🙂

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-13 06:13:55
Re: Distillations on Silence
Thanks britgrrl! I guess a lot of my titles (and work) have alcoholic themes running through them!

I'm not an expert on the poetic form, but I know what you mean...I'll give it a try!

Cheers, Tollam.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-13 06:22:09
Re: Distillations on Silence
Cheers e-griff! I'm glad you liked it.

You're right, I think reorganising it will make a big difference, it's funny how I never saw it before. I'll take britgrrl and your advice, and try re-editing it in poetic form...does that re-post it though?

Thanks again, Tollam.

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-04-23 18:02:23
Re: Distillations on Silence
Very [i] noir [/i], and so I liked it. I'm in a [i] noir [/i] mood. And I like your titles. This ones good.

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-04-23 18:03:02
Re: Distillations on Silence
The italics don't work. Bum.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-04-25 12:16:08
Re: Distillations on Silence
Cheers Skeeter!!
I tend to write very 'noirish' without purposely meaning to...jus a miserable git I suppose!

Not all but most of my titles tend to be alcohol/drink related and a play on words. I like the combinations of physical conditions reflecting emotional states and sometimes it gives the piece its backdrop or can evoke some interesting visual images... eg. 'Cirrhosis of the Soul' etc

I'm pleased it's not just me who finds the Italic impossible!!
Cheers again mate!

Author's Reply:

silentmemories on 2004-05-22 10:37:37
Re: Distillations on Silence
Very very good Tolly!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-05-24 12:41:50
Re: Distillations on Silence
Cheers Silent! I'm hoping this one ages into wine and not vinegar!
Tolly x

Author's Reply:

Smile (posted on: 07-11-03)
The dance we do.

Smiling platitudes. Weak mouthed grimaces continue to do the rounds, circling and dancing with the others. A hideous and sad little minstrel band observes from the gallery watching the fools do the gargoyle dance below.
Kiss ass. Fit in. Part of the team. Half friendly, half embracing, barely concealing the contempt for each other, then the nightly farewells and well wishes, watching yourself reel off the same shit, hating yourself in the frozen air of the car journey home, complicit in your own downfall, but ready to do the same dance and the same smile tomorrow.
Archived comments for Smile
Romany on 2003-11-11 12:13:24
Re: Smile
Cynical and succinct. Perhaps you should change your social circles?!
I know what you mean though ...

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-11-11 15:35:32
Re: Smile
Hello Romany.
Cynical, yes, you're probably right. I do feel rather tarnished at the end of a working week and tired of all the facades we wear just to make others feel better, less awkard. I suspect many of us 'do the dance' then castigate ourselves for taking part in such a vacuous routine.

...I should probably get out more...

Author's Reply:

Cirrhosis of the Soul (posted on: 20-10-03)
An intimate study of the return of a child, now adult, to the cancerous figure of its father, and the fear and malice that figure still imbues.

The old man shuffled under the weight of false contrition. Glassy eyes, black and fleeting, flicked up for a moment searching for a sign of acceptance, hoping for warmth.

Shoes like scraped chalk, yellow stinking breath, shaggy bearded growths flecked with grey from between the cracks. The figure was a mess. A creature to be pitied...but the danger still lurked. You could sense it, a sudden metallic taste in the mouth, the feeling of rising bile.

It sat down with all the grace and triumph of an aged prize fighter. It's eyes darkly fixed, flickered with malice and pride. It's progeny had returned. It was still important. Still in control. The puppet master had not lost its strings.
Archived comments for Cirrhosis of the Soul

bluepootle on 2003-10-20 04:17:21
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
You got my attention with this.. powerfuly described. Is it complete, like a snapshot, or is it part of something longer? I wanted to see it develop into a power struggle (but, then, I just like reading about power struggles!)

Author's Reply:

ruadh on 2003-10-20 07:42:21
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Short but powerful. Isn't it odd how some people can still provoke fear when they are less than able? Rather like seeing a mangy old pitbull with one eye & half an ear then discovering your fingers are missing.


Author's Reply:

Waldemar on 2003-10-21 07:07:19
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Tollam - we've already spoken about this. All I can do is encourage you - this is excellent. Please, continue!

Author's Reply:

Waldemar on 2003-10-21 07:09:33
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Sorry - think I made a mistake posting the above.

I think this captures beautifully the pain of an adult - but still essentially a child - coming to terms with the loss of his father, even though the latter is 'corporeally present' - he is already dead in the vital, physical sense of fatherhood.

Author's Reply:

Frenchy on 2003-10-21 14:55:56
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Confronting the "devil" is never easy but I would have loved to read more. You can feel the anguish that is created by the seated figure and the fear the other character feels. Good descriptive writing. More Please.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-10-27 18:43:24
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Thanks for the comments, bluepottle! Sorry for the delayed response, I've been away.
Well, to be honest 'Cirrhosis' was not one of my written pieces but something spontaneous that came to me while I was messing around on the web. So I just wrote it down fresh. Certainly its a snapshot and is complete in its state, but there's alot of untapped material there so it could develop into a series of linked parts or the opening to a longer story...not sure yet. I'll let you know when I know! Cheers!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-10-27 18:51:02
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Thanks ruadh! You're right on the money! The terror lies specifically in the fact that they're no longer as strong, as healthy, as capable of dread as they were, yet still, in their diseased or decrepid state they retain all the power they once had. Somehow the less able they appear to be, the more potent they are because it allows them to use, to manipulate and to strike while the watcher has relaxed and lowered their guard. Great analogy!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-10-27 18:53:28
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Thanks Waldemar, its great to see you here!
Isn't it great that the focus is on the writing?
Anyway, thanks again mate!

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-10-27 18:59:07
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
To be honest, it would be great if he were dead in the literal sense! Anyway, life goes on and he's out of mine, we're all older and wiser, a little bruised but still here...but certainly there's plenty of fuel for the literary fire!
Thanks again mate, you're a real life-saver.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-10-27 19:06:40
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Thank you Frenchy! The "devil" is the right word, and its always painful and dangerous when it is an actual figure that represents those 'qualities'.

'Cirrhosis' was an impromptu piece that popped into my head while I was fiddling with the computer. So it was never planned...but I probably will pick it up at some point and continue it as a larger story. Cheers!

Author's Reply:

KDR on 2003-12-08 09:03:13
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
The power here didn't seem to be so much in the present as in the memories of the past, which were nevertheless sufficient to reduce the now-adult offspring to the level of the helpless child.

Very dark and powerful. A testament to how darkly influential a bad parent can be.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2003-12-08 12:12:17
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Thanks KDR! Very interesting comments, I can see where you're coming from with the past being a greater threat than the present. It's difficult for me as I think I'm too close to the subject matter to be objective. The imagination tends to go wild and you tend to focus on what the individual is capable of now..but it is very true, the basis of all the paranoia and fear of course stems from past memories.

Life experience, though it doesn't or shouldn't define who we are, has to shape us in some way, and unfortunately a malignant influence can often have a greater impact than a positive one.
Cheers mate.

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-06-22 12:04:08
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Certainly very dark. It makes me think of those cloaked creatures in Lord of the Rings. I think it's terrible what power to hurt there is in any adult/child relatoinship, and I take it as betrayal when it happens. This encapsulates so much, and I thoink maybe you should develop it.

Author's Reply:

Tollam on 2004-07-20 04:22:31
Re: Cirrhosis of the Soul
Cheers Skeets! Sorry for the long delay, I haven't been on my beloved UKA for a long while...trying desperately to finish the sodding book!
Anyway, your comments are much appreciated. I guess it is a type of betrayl, I'd never really seen it that way...but I wouldn't mind developing it further as long as I could keep it fresh but still retain the tension factor!
Cheers again mate, Tolly xx

Author's Reply:

The Adventures of Tom (Stud-Muffin) Part 1 (posted on: 17-10-03)
Life can be weird.

Tom, whose self belief had always far outweighed his talent, slumped down in the chair, legs sprawled under the heavy linen tablecloth. He was vaguely aware of a speech going on, of a sea of smiles and quiet polite laughter.
The herbal restraints he had taken earlier were working nicely. This would be as pain-free a day as it could be.
He smiled smugly, a blanket of warm air enveloping him, he sighed, almost ready to sleep.
A sharp elbow in his ribs, suddenly woke him from his stupor. He turned to see his best-man speaking quite strangely. He watched his thin lips move, white spittle gathering at the corners and that stupid tick start to click on and off near his eye. Tom grinned.
What the hell was James saying? He didn't know he could speak Swedish...or was it Polish? Tom smiled in reply. He'd use his roguish charm and appeal to quieten down his stressed friend.
The nudge came again, only sharper.
Shit, that actually hurt this time! Tom turned away. Several hundred faces were looking at him. A small hand with perfectly painted nails was clutching at his left arm, the face attached imploring, pensive.
He vaguely knew this bird...yes, she was one of the girls he'd been shagging, a few times he thought. He stared at the meringue she was sitting in and smiled again.
This is a weird trip man!
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