Going to the Dance Class

The fact he was away a lot gave Rebecca plenty of time. As a teacher the relentless pressure of meaningless paper work and things to do for a class meant she relished her exercise clubs. The first was zumba at the church hall and then it was Body Pump at the leisure centre. These were the chocolate-like spiral of things that lit up the mid-week. The weekend was the running club or the white water rafting bunch of friends meeting up.

The sun was low as she drove out of the town. It would be five minutes drive to get to the zumba. The quick loop road off their new estate and into the town was lined on the right by a patch of woodland. The council had not long ago dug out a pond and planted to encourage wildlife. The path into to it (as she knew to her cost when out running) would often be lined by the shit from the dogs walked along the path and past the small pond.

Passing the start of the path she noticed a man she recognised as her neighbour head toward the turn to the right that was the start of the path. He was obviously distressed and looked pretty unfit. His plain blue t-shirt had a small belly bulge and he was red in the face. He seemed to be chasing something. As she passed the thirty speed limit sign she noticed a small brown and white shape. It was their dog.  A small dog that was a bundle of energy and white fur it seemed to turn tail and head up to the pond on the right which was further up the path.

Seeing she was well ahead of schedule. She had wanted to stretch her left hamstring and chat to her friend about them all going to Nice next year so there was twenty minutes to spare.

‘Can I help?’

By now she was on the path that was flanked on the town side by large fields. She had parked at the first street on the left that was twenty or thirty metres back into the town. Further on across the open countryside lay Dunfermline to the south.

‘He’s a wee escape merchant so he is. I was cutting the hedge opposite your block and he legged it as soon as the wee one opened the metal gate. ‘

‘I can help for a few minutes before I hit the dance floor down at the hall. Excuse the look from the eighties.’ Her tight Nike leggings made her feel a little self-conscious.

The small walk up to the pond led to the wooden platform the council had made. It was for the children and community to see the coots, herons and mute swans it would now attract. The dog was bounding across the reeds lining the edge of the pond and heading for the open road.

They both-despite the slow jumping of the dog against the clumps of grass and reeds knew the busy road lay ahead.

Running down the road which was topped with red small stones and grit he continued to sweat and swear just as they approached the end and the main road.

The dog was at the foot of the lamppost just opposite the builder’s yard where the new estate had grown till the bankers had brought civilisation to its knees.

The dog barked in the sharp and high notes Rebecca recognised from when the daughter would be out learning to ride a bike in the cul de sac where their house was and her block of flats. The dog looked up as from about twenty metres away its master shouted at him.

Looking up and heading for them the dog went off the road. The bus-the usual one for the town was coming up behind them.

The dog went under the front wheel on the left of the bus away from the driver’s side. Not a sound as the fur and noise went from sight.

The bus came to a halt before their roundabout. The dog seemed only to be lying still as they both approached looking for traffic from both ways.

He picked up the small shape and cradled it to the side of the road.

Putting the dog down they both crouched down. The small line of blood above the right eye was the only sign.

‘For all he was an escape artist and chewed that kitchen tae bits we all loved him you know,’ he said.

‘Do you want a hand to get him back?’ she replied.

‘Naw. You get on. She’ll be back from the Brownies or swimming soon. I have to think what to do.’

Walking the brief distance into the town she felt the cold now her sweat had cooled. The autumn light was fading. She felt the gap that she had forgotten about. The one when her mother’s grandad had died. Nothing had been said at the funeral and at the bit of tea later. Nothing.

She would go back and shower. Perhaps going over about eight might be a good idea. The tears of their daughter were something she could see already.

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Waiting in the Library

Waiting in the Library

Both have near two hundred years of lived experience;

The two grannies are waiting in the library

with Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman novel

Just around the corner

a 3D printer is busy on his bust

While jet cars for only the rich is his latest story

They are waiting and will not see his exhibition 

The Dublin resident’s work in print

Troubles, and deaths of husbands are all over

Things like the end of war in the Far East is past

As are all the days of growing, cooking and cleaning hard

Gone the night the sheriff’s widow covered in his blood

Fled from the laughing killers

She came down her road to the house;

Families visit, argue and try to mind them

‘My..my..my’ the changes of the world amazes them

As they wait. In the library.

(The library is the Straban library)

O'Brien

End of the Tracks

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We have just come from the crematorium

Where the tortured, starved and spent humans

Were put simply in on a board

Here the tracks ended, lives, goods

Plundered a further circling into hell;

Nearby on the grass under the trees

The woman collects the chestnuts that shine

Like brown and precious natural jewels;

We hurry on anxious we don’t miss the bus

The express bus back to Prague.

Terezin

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Recently I was in the Czech Republic at Terezin. This was used as a ghetto and transit camp by the Nazis from the outset of the war. There are two forts there built under previous eras or empires. The smaller fort was used as a base for Gestapo prisoners or political prisoners. They were tortured and executed there. Below is some information about the town. The small fort is remarkable for the extent that is there so much left intact and all the more chilling for that.

The persistence of the dangers of strident nationalism and racism remain as strong if not stronger. Like Norway I hope and expect an independent Scotland to take its belief in social justice and enlightened views on to a world stage where it will speak up accordingly.

The museum in the town itself holds large collections of writing and art from children and adults who lived, died or were sent to their deaths.

The quality of the art and writing was very good. The book at the top was by one of the writers featured who has a poem in that exhibition. I translate the translation below. He was one of the very few to survive. Below is from a page celebrating respect of tolerance:

‘Born in Usov in 1914, this poet and prose writer was one of the few Usov Jews who survived imprisonment in a concentration camp. Polak wrote his humanistic and anti nationalistic works in German. The most famous of his works is a compilation of over 200 poems entitled, “Die Stadt der schwarzen Tore” (The Town of Black Towers), from the period 1938-1947.’

 http://www.respectandtolerance.com/en/usov/osudy-usov/68-vlastimil-artur-polak-napsal-pes-200-basni-o-holocaustu.html

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(The above and below were taken from the town’s website: http://www.terezin.cz/en/; the small

Café: Furstenberg Garden Kavarna was very friendly and gave us a great traditional meal.)

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The Imperial Settlement Patent of December 9, 1782 proclaimed Terezín a free royal town, but while never in a state of siege, the town was in fact subordinated to military needs. In 1888 its fortress statute was repealed.

Nazi occupation. Terezín´s most tragic chapter came during WW2 (1939-45). In 1940 Prague’s Gestapo installed in Minor Fortress police prison. About 32.000 prisoners passed through the Minor Fortress between 1940 and 1945 of whom 2.500 were killed by hunger, disease, tyrannical guards and executions.
In 1941 the town of Terezin was changed by the Nazis to Jewish ghetto-transit camp. Until the end of the War more than 150.000 deportees passed through the camp, 35.000 of which died there.

Transport

Transport

Cairit

Transport

Cairit

Is the name of Fear.

Thon is the name o Dreid

Transport

Cairit

Is No Word..

Is nae wird

Transport:

Cairit:

Death in the East.

Awa tae deaith in the East

Man goes on without Hope.

Fowk gangs on withoot ony Hope

Transport, Transport, Transport

Cairit aff, Cairit aff, Cairit aff.

 

 

 

 

Charles Bridge Statues

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In Prague they balance poised and perfect

Like the mantis on a branch

Supplicants whose gaze is to the medieval stone

That they are beggars frozen in this Catholic of poses

Does not hush the living and warm stream of humanity

Passing them as they offer a hat

There on elbows and toes;

The young Chinese who pose and salute

Are mirrored by other nationalities

Empires of money or land pass or grow strong

When the gaps grow too big

People fight, beg, live that good life less and less

The powerful build monuments, seek their immortalisation.