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The red devil ballerina

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Little Miss Christmas Cracker on the stage in Chocolate Land – I don’t have a picture of a red devil [smile]

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina just like hundreds of other little girls all over the world. My mother, being a kind and understanding woman, indulged me in this desire and I attended ballet classes from when I was five years old.

When I was seven, I was a good enough ballerina to participate in the annual ballet concert hosted by my ballet school. My class of small girls were to perform the dance of the ladybird. I am sure you know the nursery rhyme which goes:

“Ladybird, ladybird,

Fly away home,

Your house is on fire

And your children all gone;

All except one

And that’s little Ann,

And she has crept under

The warming pan.”

When the great day arrived, my mother dressed me in my costume, which comprised of yellow tights, a yellow leotard, black ballet shoes, a red and black spotted “wings” cape and a headband with antennae attached to it, and did my hair in a ballet bun. When we arrived at the hall, I was very excited and I remember practicing outside on the grass with the other girls in my group in advance of our stage performance. It all went well and we left the stage in triumph with no-one having forgotten their steps or tripped over their shoe ribbons.

We were then allowed to watch the rest of the performances. One of the last dances was a solo dance by a girl in one of the highest grades. She did the dance of the red devil and she was amazing. I was totally overwhelmed by how well she danced and by her spectacular [in my eyes] costume. She wore red tights, a red leotard, a long red devil tail and had a pair of red horns on her head. I begged my mother to get me a red devil costume and she said she would try. Not long after that we moved away from Johannesburg and I never got my red devil outfit, but I have always remembered the solo dance of the red devil.

Maybe one day I will have a granddaughter and I will buy her a red devil outfit and we will learn the dance of the red devil together.

 

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#Poetrychallenge – Beginning & Consume

Colleen Chesebro is back with her weekly poetry challenge after moving house. This week her prompt words are beginning and consume for which entrants must use synonyms. I have been so deprived of poetry prompts that I wrote two tankas [smile].

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Now to grow

A decision made

releases my captive mind

and eradicates

unproductive reflections

initiating new growth

Breaking bonds

Finding happiness

may require breaking the bonds

that devour freedom

allowing for conception

of spirit releasing plans

You can join in Colleen’s challenge here: https://colleenchesebro.com/2019/06/11/colleens-2019-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-131-synonymsonly/

#Bookreview #Poetry – Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem

Book reviews

What Amazon says

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

My review

Devil in the Wind is not an ordinary collection of poems as this book tell the story of the awful fires that ravaged parts of Australia in February 2009, destroying homes, livestock, forests and people. Each poems gives a different and unique insight into the effect of the fires on different people in different roles in society, including the firefighters, as well as description of how they reacted to the fires, with fighting spirit, brazenness, prayer or despair.

I live in a country that is also plagued by raging fires from time to time and I have felt the fear of being undecided as to whether to fight or flee. If you make the wrong decision you can needlessly loose everything or you can end up dead, along with your family. Frank Prem has captured the turbulent emotions, confusion and conflict that people experience during times of crisis. He also captures the spirit of survival and the ability of people to rally and recover.

A few of the stanza’s that captured my imagination in this book are as follows:

“a young fella went up
to the hamper
crawled right inside it

buried himself in the clothes
and wouldn’t come out

took two and a half hours
to get him to speak”
From ever again

“the sound I heard
was like ten or twelve jumbo jets
down at the airport
all screaming their guts out
at the same time”
From evidence to the commission of enquiry: overview

I would recommend this book to both lovers of poetry and people who are interested in historical events. Frank Prem’s poetry is powerful, but easy to read and understand. A most enjoyable book.

Purchase Devil in the Wind

#Flashfiction – Splash, a poem

Making a splash

How do you see

your life unfolding?

What gives you purpose?

What inspires you

to get up in the morning

and face the day?

Do you care if your actions

leave the surface

of your own life

and that of others

smooth and unmarred?

Or is your ambition to cause

small ripples across

its glassy face?

Do you think it’s important

to make an impact?

To do or say something

that will be noteworthy

and possibly inspire change

to the course of many lives

What is your purpose

To leave an unmarred surface

Or to make a big splash?

by Robbie Cheadle

Written for Charli Mill’s flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash. It can be fluid, or you can play with the idiom (to make a big splash is to do or say something that becomes unforgettable). Go where the prompt leads!

Join in here: https://carrotranch.com/2019/06/07/june-6-flash-fiction-challenge/

#Timespast Washroom stories

 

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Irene Water’s prompt for June is washroom stories. The rules are as follows: Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking.

You can join in this challenge here: https://irenewaters19.com/2019/06/05/washroom-stories-times-past/

I have no idea what my generation is but I was a teenager during the 80s and 90s. I grew up in South Africa and attended a local high school in Johannesburg. The worst memory I have of my school days is the awful toilets. The floors were concrete and for some reason the toilets always leaked and there were puddles of water on the floor. I can remember trying to avoid those puddles and looking for a toilet that wasn’t leaking. I still have nightmares about those bathrooms.

I have always been an anxious person and my anxiety presents itself as a frequent need to pee. My family moved to Johannesburg when I finished my primary school career and I was enrolled in a large high school in our area. There were 300 children, comprising of 10 classes of 30 teenagers, in my year. The total number of pupils in the school was 1 400. That was quite overwhelming for a girl coming from a small town in the Western Cape and a convent into the bargain. I had lived a sheltered life up until I started high school.

I was so anxious and overwhelmed during my first weeks of school that I felt as if I need to go to the toilet all the time. My mother took me to the doctor and she gave me a bladder cleanser which didn’t help at all. An anti anxiety pill would have been more useful but they didn’t give those out when I was young as easily as they do today. I remember quickly slipping to the toilet in between each and every class and hoping that no-one would notice. Of course, a few mean kids did notice but fortunately for me, I wasn’t teased much about it.

Once I had settled down, everything was fine and I didn’t have this problem again although I always go to the bathroom before a meeting or if I have to present training or appear on television.

I thought I would also share this extract from my mom’s life as a small girl growing up in Bungay, Suffolk in the UK during WWII. It tells of her experiences with toilets when she first started school:

“The visit to the toilet stood out in Elsie’s mind as the only unpleasant experience of the school day.

The toilet block comprised of a row of toilet cubicles behind a screening brick wall. The passage in front of the cubicles did not have a roof or covering although the actual cubicles did.

The cubicles did not have doors, and a terrible smell of wee came from the toilets. Puddles of water pooled on the floor from leaky pipes. Elsie negotiated these as best she could, trying not to step into any of them. None of the toilets flushed properly. The smell made her gag, and she held her breath for as long as possible between gulps of air.

Elsie thought the school toilets were worse than her Aunt Mick’s. Ginger-haired Aunt Mick always looked tired and had a wary expression on her face. She was married to Father’s oldest brother, Charlie, a bad tempered and grumpy man, who had been exempted from being enlisted to fight in the war due to his status as a hay merchant.

Although Uncle Charlie owned the bit of land on which his bungalow and huge hay shed stood, they did not have a flushing toilet on their property. Aunt Mick and her family made use of a foul-smelling outhouse with a bucket system which was not emptied often enough.

Mother visited Aunt Mick frequently and would sit and chat to her while she did some sewing on her ancient sewing machine.

As a small girl, Elsie struggled with a weak bladder. She needed to go to the toilet more often than other children of the same age. Later in her life, clever doctors discovered that Elsie’s narrow urethrae prevented her bladder from emptying fully when she went to the toilet. This condition also made her prone to bladder infections.

The awfulness of the school toilets gave Elsie nightmares for years and resulted in a fear of public toilets that lasted for the rest of her life.”

WTBF 4