Well this could turn out to be a big write up so I’ll split it into three manageable sections.
Part one…the base section.
My initial interest in this Creator Expert series was activated when I was looking for something new and different from the Technic models I’d been building. Trawling through some of the pre-owned sets available on ebay I noticed a Parisian Restaurant set for sale and the current bid was really low…so I put in my bid of £42 and was genuinely surprised when I won (and it was free postage) What I didn’t realise at the time was that it wasn’t a genuine Lego branded product, and when it arrived I was disappointed to note it was a Chinese knock-off (something I would always avoid if I knew) still we live and learn.
…and before anyone tosses their head and tuts loudly in condemnation, I must explain that our current accumulation of grocery items happened well before this crisis.
I can’t resist a good deal, so when our supermarket of choice has offered ‘3 for 2’ on this or ‘BOGOF’ on that I’ve never been one to refuse their generosity, especially if it’s an item we would regularly use or consume anyway. I freely admit to never pausing for a moment’s thought as to whether we already have a sufficiency of said items, or even if I had succumbed to the identical offer the last time I was in store.
It’s a bargain…that’s all that matters to me.
When we returned from our holiday to Norway at the beginning of February certain countries close to China were closing their borders and most of the world were banning flights to and from the region. The UK had only just confirmed its first case of the virus and WHO had published and released a ‘Preparedness and Response Plan’. There didn’t appear to be any indication of the ensuing catastrophe so on my shopping trip the day after our return there was no thought of anything other than getting essentials and, of course, a bargain or three.
Anyway, the long and short of it all is that when we started to practice ‘Serious Social Distancing’ just over 2 weeks ago there were certain items in our store cupboard we’re happy to know will probably not run out…but then I’m not sure we can live entirely on frozen peas, pickled beetroot, salad cream, tonic water (slimline of course) washing up liquid, tomato ketchup and Jaffa Cakes. At least we have plenty of wine and gin to help us forget any hunger pains in the ensuing weeks.
Stay safe and please…stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.
Just recently I’ve been going through a lot of the stuff I’ve collected over the years, including hundreds of old black and white photographs which belonged to my parents. Just like them I grew up in an age where digital technology was a futuristic pipe dream and we had to use the old fashioned ‘light sensitive paper’ inserted into a modern day pinhole camera to record our memories and special events.
I know it’s really hard to believe how daft things used to be…just imagine only a maximum of 35 pictures to a roll of film, and even then you couldn’t tell if they’d turned out okay until you’d carefully taken the film out of the camera, delivered it to a local chemist and waited a week before they were ready to collect and view. Hands would tremble with excitement as the colourful packet labelled ‘Your Lasting Memories’ was opened and the shiny paper squares removed, only to discover that several shots were out of focus, four images were of people without heads along with another six indistinguishable pictures of blurry blobs because a thumb had partially covered the lens. To add insult to injury there would be a sticker attached from the photo laboratory informing the disappointed recipient as to what they’d done wrong and how they could correct the problem in future. But of course it was too late by then as the holiday was over, or the party had finished, or the Bride and Groom had actually returned from their honeymoon and moved to a different part of the country.
Even the professionals could mess things up occasionally and I remember a situation where an entire party of ‘re-suited and re-booted’ wedding guests were reassembled weeks after the original event so the photographer could ‘have another go’ at getting it right as something had gone drastically wrong the first time round.
Of course the other side of this issue was the longevity of the memories in question. Images printed on paper can fade, get lost or be destroyed. Even photo albums of important events long past have probably been abandoned in the rubbish. The photo above is of my own parents wedding , and it probably hasn’t seen the light of day for decades…and there’s a fair chance it would have been returned to its hiding place until such time that someone else discovered it and discarded it due to a lack of knowledge or interest.
But something has changed now. Just by the simple act of writing this and attaching a photograph I have potentially ensured that the record of this particular event will last forever. The happy memories of the actual day for the attending have disappeared along with all of those folk in the photograph. But you can see on their faces the joy and happiness, and everyone who views this is now witness to one of life’s greatest gifts…the chance to get together as friends and family to celebrate a special occasion.
I would like to explain the reason for my title page containing a picture of a ‘Dancing Bear’.
It was during a trip to Canada that I first came across these incredibly skillful carvings, and I was so fascinated by the story behind them I just had to get one. For me the sculpture I bought fills me with happiness and I find it inspiring…no matter the situation I’m in, it can always raise a smile.
There are several different explanations of the story behind these carvings, and I’m sure someone will put me right on this, but the version I was told by one of the sculptors is the one that captured my imagination and truly explains the joy I see them, and probably the explanation I want to believe is true.
“The Inuits are great hunters, and we believe that if you’ve lived a good life and have provided for your family then the gods will bless you and return you after your human life to be one of the great hunting animals. These are the eagle, the wolf, the walrus and the greatest hunter of them all, the polar bear...
...If the gods see fit to reward me for living a good life and being a great hunter by returning my spirit in the form of a polar bear, the greatest of the animals, then I would be so happy I would dance.”
What wonderful symbolism and a great outlook on life…and death. I often look at my Dancing Bear sculpture and hope the story becomes a reality for the teller and offers him some sort of hope to carry forward in life.
And I get to wondering if all story tellers (including we writers) need to make sure we offer our audience something in return for the commitment they make to read our work…even if it’s just raising a smile in this complex world we live in.