The line lands noiselessly between the waves. Arthur hasn’t got long – a great grandfather’s absence at a christening for any length of time is bound to cause concern. He has not gone far – the music is still faintly audible down here on the darkling pier.
Arthur’s fingers never used to hurt when he spun for mackerel. His hands didn’t used to look like this, either – thick-knuckled and eel-veined.
‘…a sentence or a passage is rhythmical if, when said aloud, it falls naturally into groups of words, each well fitted by length and intonation for its place in the whole and its relation to its neighbours. If you’re writing prose, the best guide is to cultivate an instinct for the difference between what sounds right and what sounds wrong, a syllable-by-syllable attention to sound, a feel for rhyme and breath.’
Despite the incontrovertible fact that reading about writing inevitably (in the short term at least) makes one less productive, it is a habit I frequently fall into. Whether it is writing whilst standing up (Hemingway) or scribbling to the smell of rotten apples (Schiller) it is tempting to believe that if we change one or two writing rituals we will find ourselves blessed with inspiration or writing for sixteen hour stretches. So it was that I added ‘How to Write Like Tolstoy’ to a modest collection including Strunk and White’s ‘Elements of Style’ and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.
One could always identify them from their determined stare into the middle distance, from their hunched shoulders as they stood in the rain despite the cover afforded elsewhere. Black or dull browns to avoid attention. Waterproofs up around their necks to avoid rainwater running down. If Martin’s training hadn’t blocked the impulse, he might have smiled at his young rival.
I’ve been asked by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research to write a little piece about additional considerations during the Covid-19 pandemic. From engagement to explaining, to custody suites and Coronavirus legislation, I’ve tried to squeeze as much into 800 words as I could. I also discuss the impact Covid-19 has had on some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people and communities such as domestic abuse victims and Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller groups.
‘“We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret organisation working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc. We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers. I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your mercy. If you want to incriminate ourselves in any other way, we are ready.”’
Leaps forward in science necessitate risk. Whether the leap justifies the risk is a judgement for the scientist. All of which self-satisfied claptrap didn’t help Greg much as he lay in his hospital bed, waiting for doctors’ rounds to alleviate his boredom.
Above the beeping of IV bags requiring attention and the intermittent ringing of a telephone at reception, Greg could hear a pair of doctors discussing the x-ray of a fellow patient. Consumed by a minor argument over whether a fracture was greenstick or oblique, the medics had no perception of what it was they held in their hands, and more importantly the cost by which it was obtained. Marie Curie had died in acquiring the knowledge that allowed their petty argument to commence. The ability to look inside someone’s body was so valuable, so undreamt of, that Curie had deemed it worthy of her life and health. Such knowledge carried with it a value entirely because it was so dearly bought. So much was taken for granted.