Thursday, 19 October 2017

John Williams Saves My Soul


This week, either as a writer, human or otherwise, has been a terrible week. Let me EXPAND

Perhaps it has to do with Ophelia, the potential wife of the doomed Hamlet as well as the name for the most recent storm which descended on the British Isles. Ophelia brought with her the end of the world, or, a red sun casting a sepia hue over the murk of Kent. This apparently was caused by Saharan sand picked up from the Southerly winds, and the fires raging in Portugal. Sand in the air and hellish fires burning do not paint a picture of a world at peace with itself.


Ophelia also caused animals to behave in peculiar ways; including birds flying around disorientated. It is this reaction to the storm that has got me thinking that perhaps such atmospheric conditions affect our behaviours and has contributed towards a negative week.

Perhaps…

I have also succeeded in being ill, which is something I rarely aspire to. Our bodies and minds are very powerful, far more than we care to know, and it is not uncommon for our minds and bodies to conspire to sabotage ourselves in order to prevent an outcome. Doctors and the such would give medicines for those with a cold or other ailment, but if you know that you have caused this then would you need to take medicine to cure it? Or maybe you could just switch the way that you are thinking.

You go in with a negative mind to successfully predict a negative outcome. Congratulations, you are right!

Who wins?

My conscious brain will not take responsibility for being unwell, nor for the negative emotions that being unwell brings. Yet, it is the fault of the conscious brain, and it has prevented me from moving a few steps closer towards my ultimate outcome; thus successfully predicting that it is all a waste of time and is simply a dream which can never be realised.

Thanks conscious brain, you really are a piece of unwanted shit.

My subconscious brain, when the shitty one steps aside, realises this.

Illness is created by negative thoughts and subsequently creates negative thoughts, pushing you into a vicious circle to which the only person who can climb out from this is you. YOU must then create tactics to combat yourself.

It is while this is going on that I turn to John Williams; not the guitarist, but the composer, famous for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman and to a lesser extent Home Alone. Many years ago, as a sprightly and innocent ten year old, I was taken to see E.T. at my local Classic. Following on from that harrowing experience of loss, I purchased the 7” single of the theme tune in what turned out to be the first ever single I purchased myself. Needless to say I will not be calling BBC Radio 6 Music to let them know my first single. It is fast becoming apparent to me however that it is by listening to this particular piece of music where my brain turns the corner and begins to fight back. It is a very dramatic and moving soundtrack, with some stirring strings and deafening horns, and it is just the medicine that agrees with me. I don’t know why, but I have just spent the last ten minutes listening to it and I feel much better than I did ten minutes before.


Music therefore is magic. Those who create music, whatever genre, are magicians. In a world where heroes either wear team colours or suits, we should remember that true heroes protect and create. Our heroes should not be the richest people on the planet, but the ones who can gift YOU life; those people are soldiers, medics, fire & police, composers and artists (and any more I may have missed who actually gift the human race with something not for their own agenda).

Let me ask, what music saves you when you are having a shit time? Think about its effect and the emotion that comes from it.

From a bad week to one of gentle melancholy. I have succeeded in allowing my ten year old self to give me a gift that I can carry for the journey forwards. That little person always sits in you, it deserves some respect.
Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; please contact if, you so wish, on zacharystories@outlook.com

Friday, 13 October 2017

My Writing Day


How does a writer fill their day? Well, it does not include biscuits.

07:00 the alarm shrills my brain back into existence; it is a painful ride down, letting slip your dreams and realising that you are a lump of flesh and bone collapsed onto a pillow. Minutes tick by as the brain makes sense of what is going on; questions fill the space in front of you: who am I? Where am I? What day is it? Where am I meant to be?

Panicked, you stretch out of bed and your legs manage to guide you to where you keep the kettle. In the kitchen, the kettle slowly comes to a boil as I stare out of the window watching the world streak by in cars and lorries.

Coffee starts the day, yet tea is the order for the remainder of daylight; as darkness looms so the liquid refreshment becomes heavier and thicker. Straining the brain into different directions and running up and down on a snakes and ladders board.

I am reminded of the landscape painting from Top Secret, directed by the Zucker Brothers. All these people zooming across my life blurred into a brief moment of existence. Coffee has been consumed and it has forced the nerves into gear. I pretend to smile as the grey sky brightens from a dull grey to a lighter dull grey. Oh the joys of being in northern Europe in a country trying increasingly harder to extricate itself from the world.


All this is by the by; because writers create worlds rather than reside in the one that is being sold to us as the real one. It is time to get dressed, and I fumble with designs within my head. Happy with a nouveau Dr Who style I stride onwards towards my trusty laptop which contains a myriad of thoughts and ideas. I jump in, eager and keen to rid myself of the dusty British blues.

Writing is not something which I choose to do: it is something that I have to do. When I am caught staring out of the window it is not the sun I see, or the light dancing playfully on the current of the river. It is the grime that blights our green and pleasant land; the hatred that fills our tills with ill-gotten gains; the anger which fuels our lustful desire for snide remarks and hurtful asides. In those moments when I write, I am choosing to turn away from all of this and embark on my own journey into a place full of danger and excitement; populated by heroes who are heroic and villains who are villainous. Good always wins in creative worlds, that is why ours fails so dramatically – we have stopped being creative in our thinking.

Once writing has ceased I ponder. My mind turns to Star Wars and I ask the question, are we actually the empire in the great scheme of things? I’ve always wanted to be part of the rebel alliance, but I increasingly convince myself that the western world is the empire and I am party to that. Perhaps I carry the soul of a wandering Tie-Fighter Pilot (I certainly carry the action figure), lost in the galaxy and floating into extinction, far, far away.


Buoyed by whimsy, it is lunch and there is nothing more thrilling that cheese on toast with a boiled egg broken on top.

Writing is so desperately difficult to write about; the process of heading into your creative bubble, tasting of Hubba Bubba, unlocks all-sorts of liquorice and helps towards making things impossible to link to a fearful and bleak world. So I head back into mine, and lie down on the blue grass while dragonflies breathe their flames above me.


Until next time…

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mirror Universes


Do you believe in there being alternate universes out there?

So, you walk through a door and decide to turn left because you always turn left when you walk through a door. That leads you to a person who you have never met before and ZAP! You are dancing and getting close and your life takes on a new meaning.

Who would you have met if you decided to turn right?

We like doing the WHAT IF? scenarios. There have been plenty of books on the subject, such as what if the Nazis won the Second World War; or Napoleon had decided not to invade Russia. What if JFK had not been shot, or if the Soviets had sent the first person to the moon. Yet, is it a game to play, or is there another dimension where all of this is true?



We use 10% of our brain according to most things that you read; we are connected to the universe in the way that we are made of all the atoms which make up the fabric of what is around us. So, our brains are connected to the universe, time is a man-made construct, so we (tenuous unscientific link here) have the ability to open our brains up to more dimensions. At the moment we are stuck in a sort of 4D version of life which is potentially so much richer.

It seems to have been proved that we have doppelgangers dotted around the planet, so why not other versions of us dotted throughout the galaxy? Are we living on a planet surrounded by one vast mirror? We would not know because it would all be black anyway.

Voyager has passed into the deeper parts of the universe, out of our sphere and into another realm. On it, for some strange reason, is a gold disc with operating instructions for any life form who might be able to read a human language to construct a record player in order to play the disc. They will then be serenaded with a history of humans, mostly containing war I would imagine, and some music, probably not of its time, which would have been the Seventies. So, when the aliens land they will be expecting something very different to what the reality is. It wold be like thinking the world is like Live and Let Die, but actually getting Skyfall.

So, as far as Voyager is concerned, we are time travellers; time stands still for the small satellite but we continue to evolve, or devolve, depending on your political point of view.

I like the idea of there being an alternate universe where I decided to do the opposite of what I am currently doing. Does not make either right or wrong, just makes it alive, sometimes it would be logic versus imagination and vice versa. Lots of what ifs, it’s a good game to play, and opens up your brain training towards thinking outside of the box.

Life gives us all sorts of scenarios, we can play them out before making a decision logically or trust our instinct. Perhaps our instinct is our brain having played out all possible scenarios far quicker than any computer is able to do. If only we trusted in that, rather than algorithms, then perhaps we can be amazing.
Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; if you wish to book him to come along to your party, young or old,  or to give a speech at your local school then please contact him at zacharystories@outlook.com

Friday, 29 September 2017

I Can Only Think of This


Things always come to a close, and life is like a book, play or film; everything ends, and then everything starts again.
 

In the myth of Doctor Who, here is an alien who reaches the end of a life and then has an ability to regenerate. Like a caterpillar, who re-forms into a butterfly. We all shed our skin, grow a new aura and renew our way of thinking. So, in effect, we regenerate, the idea is not fantasy at all.

I have felt this recently with my son, who has finished primary education and has moved up to secondary. This is a huge step, and will go a long way towards forming the character that he is going to be. It is very much a case of closing the book on one story, and then opening a new book up to start another thrilling adventure; and during this time, he will regenerate into a young adult, growing and changing physically and intellectually; exciting times ahead.

 

Does life play out like a movie, and the people that come in and out of your life are your supporting actors? An existentialist view would be that if you cannot see a person, then that person does not exist. The trouble is, by thinking like that, it means that you cannot be sure a person in front of you whom you love is real. Yet, they could all be waiting in the wings of your life, listening out for their cue to walk on and announce their presence.  Then, once the scene has played out, they return to their existence on the periphery.

 

Kent has a rich and varied history, but I cannot find anything with dragons. This is a shame, as I imagine that a dragon’s nest lies beneath The Archbishops Palace in Maidstone, in the thick walls below the ground floor. The dragon nestles between the palace and the river Medway,  and at night flies up over the Lockmeadow development, casting a spell over cinema-goers, breathing flame over the law courts. That is why the trees turn red.
 

There are some people who can be very rude. I often wonder if it is learned behaviour or if they strive to be like that. Either way, there is no need for it, and if you expect other people to acknowledge you from their world then at least acknowledge that they exist in yours. It does not cost, and it does not hurt, so why are humans so cruel to each other?

 

Does a ghost of me exist in all the places that I have previously visited?

 

Stories have a way of being both antagonistic and appeasing. They tell the truth within their fictions and perhaps it is only the really blind who cannot see themselves in the stories being presented.
 
 
Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; if you wish to book him to come along to your party, young or old,  or to give a speech at your local school then please contact him at zacharystories@outlook.com    
 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Storytelling the Space Race


BBC Radio 6 Music is a wonderful radio station to listen to; through it, I have been introduced to a lot of new and inspiring music, including Laura Marling, Beck and, most notably for me, Public Service Broadcasting.

A couple of years ago I heard a song called GO! Performed by Public Service Broadcasting, it tells the story of the Apollo mission to the moon where Neil Armstrong was the first man to step onto the surface. It was unique in its composition in that it told the story from the point of view of Mission Control, and gave an exciting, fast-paced dynamic to the story.


The track was from their album The Race for Space, which gave us a brief history to music of the challenges faced both by the USA and the USSR during that time. It remains one of my favourite albums.

What came to light for me was what a wonderful piece of recent history that was; the very idea that two countries competed in a race to get to the moon, and each time one would out-do the other with a technological advancement, seems very testosterone-fuelled and a little bit of nonsense. But, this was more than getting to the moon, this was figuring out who was better, Communists or Capitalists.

This got me wondering if such a story could be told to our younger generation and was the first piece of inspiration that I got for performing my own take on The Space Race to schools.

I set about writing a timeline of the race, from Sputnik onwards, when satellites chased each other, then men in capsules. It was amazing to see how each country would leap to the next advancement, and ultimately, how close the USSR had got to achieving victory. I wrote the story eager to get this tale out into the wide world.


Of course, if you are designing yourself to be a story teller, then you have to read the story out loud. It was while doing this, in the company of me alone, that I discovered not only that this was an interesting and exciting period of history, it was actually a race, and could be presented as such.

Imagine the story of the space race as if you are being told it by a racing commentator. That is what I have imagined and that is now what I have packaged together to get it out there come the new term.

What I like about this is where the inspiration has come from. I knew all about the space race but never thought it could be a roller-coaster ride of a story. It was only after hearing the music composed by Public Service Broadcasting that I rediscovered how exciting and challenging the race really was. It was a time of real heroes heading out into the unknown, experimenting inside equipment as volatile as the space around it. They put their lives at risk for our advancement, and that, I feel, is something that we as a human race tend to gloss over.

So, come the new school year, I will be sending out flyers and emails to schools across Kent. The Space Race being one of a few stories that I have concocted in the hope that someone will take a punt and give this wannabe storyteller some time.

After all, much as those astronauts and cosmonauts did, you have to put yourself out there to get results.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Take Time in Life to Consider the Arts


It is common in life to think that in order to be productive one has to be manic; think deadlines, piles of papers on a desk, phones constantly ringing; a buzz of activity that proves to your managers or employers that you are busy busy busy earning and earning etc…

But are you learning?

Is there an argument leaning towards taking time to contemplate? A moment of reflection in life gives you time to properly take a look at what lies ahead of you, and also to sift back through previous experiences and knowledge gained giving you the right tools to take you forward in a situation. While the busy mentality may work for an industrial revolution style factory production line, like in Chaplin’s Modern Times for instance, that does not make it the right way of working for all walks of life.

By taking time away both mentally and physically, you are re-energising, seeking new ways of thinking, opening the doors to a wider train of thought.

Perhaps the reason that this is not a favoured pastime in the workplace is because THEY do not want you to think too much.

Thought is the one true thing that stands us out from other life on this planet; the ability to look at a situation, to wonder why or to gaze at the beauty which surrounds us. In life we ask ourselves about the sun, the moon, the stars, the point of life, the reason why things are the way they are.

Mmmm, perhaps employers don’t want you to even think about asking questions like that as it would begin a chain of thought leading to the removal of their power over the individual.  All the more reason to do it in my book!


But if you take time to think about things, then you would quickly realise how busy and fast life can be, and that we could all benefit from just taking it easy during the day. One of the ways to slow your life down is by breathing in and absorbing the arts.

Take this into account: you are standing amidst the hustle and bustle of a gallery in London, surrounding you are school trips, foreign students, casual tourists, all jostling for a good position to take a photo on their phone; you however do not see them, you are engrossed in the life that has been painted out before you, a brief moment in time captured in oil and layered onto canvas. The noise that emanates from all of the mouths in the room mean nothing to you; your mind has gone back and you have immersed yourself into the image hanging on the wall.

No phone or camera can ever capture that emotion, it is yours, and is a feeling that could stay with you long after the memory is stored away in your brains back catalogue.

Statistics and data don’t give you that same emotional depth, although some bosses would argue that they should.

Reading is also something that I feel has become a pastime, but needs to remain as a useful tool for learning. Think back to how much you read while at school. Now what do we read and when? I imagine that there a more of us who choose to read on holiday rather than every week, and that it has become something you treat yourself to rather than a part of life. Poetry, for instance, is a wonderful form used to bring our brains in line with our souls. Taking the time to look at a piece of poetry and to drink in the words, then decipher your own meaning from it and your own enjoyment, giving yourself time to process the emotion that poems can give you if you open up to them, can give your brain and body a real boost.

Take time to consider your own happiness and your own journey. Imagine that you are in charge of your destiny and you control the steering wheel. Because in actual fact you do, we are being programmed to believe that we are in someone else’s hands and that our employers and overseers hold our destiny.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A Short Poem Entitled: The Raven


An odd image displayed on the television screen within my head the other day, it was that of a raven. It led me to Google ravens, such beautiful birds, but always seen as a somewhat sombre sight. Their being is steeped in myth and folklore, as are many animals in our world, and it makes me sad that we don’t listen to these myths any longer. Perhaps they might help us to decide on the future of mankind, which, let’s face it, is doing a pretty disastrous job of protecting itself. So, in my thoughts, inspired by the television in my head, or is it a cinema? Maybe I should add curtains, I have written the following little piece about a raven.



The Raven


A crow, its feet, lines across your eyes, spring, dart, hop, to where? Unknown, a dance of madness to no tune. Sqwuak, there is the sound, like a siren blaring through a siesta, ruining concentration; and then it decides to eat, a cavern opens, nipping at the ground with a cruel beak, like a small road worker creating a hole, and thus, creating a nightmare for those who have to cross it. The crow, a raven, symbol of death because it is black; how crude, symbol of sorrow and pain, there are some white folk who also create that. Yet, symbol of prophecy, better, Romans you know, always looking on the bright side of life. The crow, it gets a raw deal, perhaps it is the noise, like a teacher scraping nails onto a blackboard, why is everything black seen as a negative? Perhaps there is something in that. I once befriended an African child at school, and was beaten up for the privilege, he did not stay long. Gone, on the run, running from reality. Perhaps we should all do the same. Maybe we are. Crows watch us, waiting, ? Their baritone birdsong contrasting starkly to Blake’s heavenly landscape, now the song is cut short by the blaring of current life, the incessant noise of towns rip through your brain and concentration is lost. Peace is what is needed, then perhaps we can all think, think again, and make a constructive judgement, rather than jumping in with war. Peace is what the crow sings for, humans should follow. Gaia is shared, crows have their place, they foresee the end of humans.