"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong" Joseph Chilton Pearse, American author.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Childhood Scene (Essay)

I am remembering a Christmas past, not for the usual activities associated with this festive season, but simply for a most truly memorable stroll taken by myself and the family dog, Scamp, through a beautiful snow-covered Ringsend Park.

It is a couple of days into the New Year of 1963 and just another few days remain of the school holidays. At this stage, time is moving in what almost feels like slow motion.

"Oh well, why should today be any different from the rest?" I think to myself as I lazily drag my tired body out of its warm nest. Having pulled the blankets and old overcoat back up over the bed to keep the heat in I move towards the window to see what the day has to offer.

A magnificent sight greets my eyes. Overnight there has been a heavy fall of snow. Our avenue resembles a scene from one of those old-time Christmas cards depicting images of snow-covered roofs, smoke swirling from tall chimney pots etc.  "Today will not be like any other day" I decide. With that thought in mind I quickly dress and hurry downstairs. After a warm breakfast Scamp and I set off on our travels to our beloved park, her favourite playground.

As I approach the gates I see before me a beautiful vision. Overnight, our park has been transformed into a snowy wonderland. There is not a soul in sight and as I walk along the sound of crunching snow beneath my feet is pure music to my ears. I begin to imagine I'm in another world. A world where no human beings exist, nobody to put me down or hurt me. Yes, here I can feel safe and happy. Scamp is having a good time too. She barks and rolls around and sniffs the snow for any juicy tit bits that might be lurking beneath.

Now I decide to build a snowman. Having rolled enough snow to make the body and head I set about putting him together. I want him to look happy so I carve out a large smiling mouth, turning it up at both ends. "He does look jolly" I decide as I stand back to admire my creation.

I remain in my winter paradise for quite a while after that, allowing my mind to wonder and absorb the great beauty which lies all around me. The already grey skies now begin to grow even darker as I make my way back home.I will always remember that morning. It is one of the magic moments of my childhood.

Above image taken by me in June 2005


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lady in the Bath

These words are based on a dream I had back in September 1993.  During that period I documented many dreams all of which were extremely vivid and at times, disturbing.   It was a time when my mind was quite distracted by grief following the death of my dear brother-in-law the previous year.  The cracked paint perhaps in some way mirrored my fragmented thoughts.

Lady in the Bath

The room is long and narrow
At the far end a window faces the claw foot bath
Wherein a cream-skinned lady
Reclines neck-high in rose-bud water
Her black hair draping the porcelain like a sacred alter cloth.

The walls, once vintage green
Now pockmarked by chipping
Resemble an acne-ravished face.

Slowly, the bath tilts backwards
She doesn't bat a damp eyelid
No sensation of crashing through floors
As her womb-like cocoon plummets through emptiness
Above, the lift floor moves further and further away.

The dream evaporates.

© Ann Brien 2013

Above image via:   http://www.davidmaisel.com


Friday, March 1, 2013

A Good Office Job! (Essay)

I was just under thirteen years old when I had my first typing lesson. I'd become a student for a year in the Holy Faith Convent School in Clarendon Street, Dublin and the reason I got to do typing was because shortly after I started the term I developed pneumonia and so missed out on a lot of class subjects particularly algebra. As I was hopeless at even basic arithmetic it was decided I should enter the typing class while my other classmates slogged at maths. I was thrilled!

To this day I remember the teacher drumming into us the "home" keys of the typewriter from which you moved onto every other letter. (See image above)

As I'd taken to the typing like a duck to water my parents were delighted as they always wanted me to have "a good office job" as they described it. I would be set up for life, I'd meet people from an educated background and hopefully one day marry one of them! After Clarendon Street I spent two years in the School of Commerce and Retail Distribution, 18 Parnell Square which now houses the Dublin Writers Museum.

It was there I excelled at the old typing coming first in every exam much to the horror of my fellow classmates who felt I had an unfair advantage having already had one year's experience behind me. Maybe they were right!

In the summer of 1967 I began my working career firstly as a clerk typist using a typewriter that would now be considered by the young as an ancient relic. It was an old Remington similar to the image above.

Over the course of four years I belted out letters, statements of accounts, credit notes and receipts on that sturdy monster of a writing machine that sometimes left you with aching fingers as a result of the sheer physical effort required to hit each key. Other drawbacks were having to change the spool ribbon when it wore out and if you hit the wrong letter the only way to erase the mistake was by using a piece of Tippex paper inserted behind the thingy that the key struck against. Hitting the key against the paper removed the offending letter whereupon you then typed the correct letter. God, how time-consuming!

The following five years saw me working as a book-keeper (what was I thinking?) for various establishments but thankfully for the final seven years of my working life I was back at the old keyboards again. This time it was an up-to-date twentieth century machine, an IBM electric golf ball typewriter, later to be replaced by the IBM self-correcting (one letter at a time if I remember correctly).

Looking back now I often wonder how us office workers managed without our high powered computers. I suppose like everything else, what you didn't have you didn't miss. You just got on with it.

Above image via www.typewriterhousecollector.com