Archive for the Stories and reviews Category

A Time of Reflection…

Posted in Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva on August 17, 2017 by kathydasilva

‘It was summertime, and, weeks of adventure ahead, and playhouse dressing up. Our house at Cobbett Road had many enchantments, a large garden, and some wasteland beyond, where, we as children had endless game play, snaking through grasses and climbing the tall, horse chestnut tree.’

‘The tree bore conkers every autumn, and every autumn, there was a certain expectation. Firstly as a child, I had grown use to new garments of clothing being bought for myself, most importantly a new pair of shoes for school. I thought myself fortunate, and loved the whole palaver  of entering the shoe shop and trying different pairs of brand new, shiny new leather shoes on my feet, with a mother whose bag held over one arm, would extract her purse and cheque book and make the purchase on my behalf. There was always a kind of atmosphere of expectation, with all the thoughts generally being toward the academic year ahead, and the progression of this child’s mind at least. Even before schooling started, my mother had lined the shelves with ladybird books, and paperbacks, possibly handed down from an older sister and brother for I indeed was the youngest and trailing behind all the other part of my mother’s brood. The house in which we lived, had the grandeur of another epoch. The whole place was ours, and it stood detached, and with a good sized garden front and back. The bay tree, out front, stood at one corner of the square which had a raised lawn, and stood beside the drive. The rest of the front was bordered by a thick brick wall, with the traditional Victorian shaping, built alongside the house, that had once bore the name of Ellis. No doubt a family by that name probably existed. I knew a Tim Ellis later, whom studied art as I did at Southampton College, just before going onto doing a bachelor certificate,  in London. Ellis House, was our family home, for about nineteen years.

There was forever, an iron swing, painted in pale turquoise out the back. The garden furnishings were, mainly pet housing, and some remnants of an air raid shelter near to the kitchen window. Our grass quite often got left to grow wild, and grew ankle length, and occasionally knee length not infrequently, due to my father’s bad back, and slipped disc condition. Airplanes flew above us, at regular intervals high above from south to north of the city, and north to south, and sometimes low enough to see the details of windows and doors, for landing was not so far at Eastleigh Airport.

Summer if it was not at Cobbett Road would always be spent somewhere, like the Isle of Wight or Cornwall, though I know two summers at least were spent in Wales in an old fashioned traditional beamed Welsh cottage. I was ten. And  I was seven, and the memory, of a grandmother sitting in the garden with a bowl of freshly grown pea pods, which she and I shelled together, in readiness of cooking them. My grandmother, was always a woman of slight form and white, cotton wool, fine hair. My mother’s sister, had housed my grandmother over the years with her family, all of whom seemed ten years older than myself and sister. I had been given a wild, black hare, one year, brought to me by a cousin, for the sake of saving its life. It had been devouring all the veg  grown in patches along the gardens, all up and down where they lived. I had named her Beauty for in fairness, she reminded me of the horse, by the same name, with thick black hair of a silky softness…..’

to be continued… (Looking For Pearls..soon to be published..)

 

 

No It’s Not Hollywood!

Posted in Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by kathydasilva

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I am mindful of the event and the post event news of the Glenfell Tower fire as I speak. My own head did the analysis thing, of weighing the information as it was bled to us the public via news media and television reportage. My heart and mind did the thing of saying so how did the people, above floor twenty think, how did they think they could be rescued? And the sad surreptitious bleed from an off duty fireman to a fellow ‘brother’ revealed a significant detail. The man passed the information privately, but, still it came to be known via a twitter feed uploaded video. The information told us the ordinary public, 42 people had been found dead in just one flat. And amongst the forty two people were young children, and elderly mainly. They had hope of rescue, and were organized, as far as possible, probably sheltering in the least damaged flat, at the outbreak of the whole ordeal. The firemen, never came, the ‘airlift’ possibility never came about. I think of the famous film Towering Inferno, and the reality was and is, there is no Steve McQueen,  or  Paul Newman, let alone some swanky additional, like Harrison Ford to come and do ‘rescue’. Yet and I repeat, yet! They could have thought outside the ‘box’. Why no use of say a helicopter for people on the roof survivors? Why no thought of ropes and pullies, and some sort of bag or stretcher to let people too frail to climb or come down stairs, be rescued? The fire raged for about four hours, from about midnight. And most of the victims, suffered really badly from smoke inhalation. But, too, smoke can make the way ahead so difficult to see, so they tripped and maybe fell and knocked themselves out too. The building housed at least 600 tennants. Someone saw a child on fire, and then they fell out of a window. And we blame it on the time of day. There are people, who can climb with the minimum of equipment the height of one of these towers for sport. The sea rescue crews, are familiar with almost impossible situations, would it have hurt to call upon their skills? Mountain rescue teams similarly, carry ropes, and safety equipment, in the most hazardous conditions. It was also tweeted, from a fireman’s phone, obviously a young fireman, because the whole horror, of what they found, was unlike anything else before that they had seen before, he had captured using the iphone technology, the picture of the tower from floor to roof, in flames and had asked the question, ‘How are we goint to get in there?’ This was uploaded to twitter and maybe youtube but, it made me think how film obsessed we have all become. ‘We’ are being brought up on the wrong architypes. Not everyone is going to be an action hero. If it is hard to contemplate what the need to have the nerve to risk one’s own life is like, then, perhaps, this decision is already something fireman have come up against. I think men have to be the heroes they were destined for to be. And that might be a risky business. Some young muslim men, did go knocking doors all round the tower block vuluntarily. No one paid them. They did it out of the duty of good will, that God teaches us all. It is the sort of situation that Edward De Bono, would have used his ‘lateral’ thinking cap for. How do you get over a hundred people of possibly frail disposition down to ground level, through thick poisonous smoke fumes? The book of ‘how’ needs to be written before the next big tragedy, and maybe it is preventative measures only that will succeed in overcoming our high rise fears.

Assange Five Years in the Ecuadorian Embassy, London.

Posted in Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2017 by kathydasilva

I was feeling challenged today, as two news items have caught my attention. One the shocking fire at Latimer Road, area of London, and the other, the hard to fathom, wait for the freeing of Julian Assange, as today is the fifth year running, of an anniversary. Julian Assange yet again, postponed appearance at the balcony and live speach, because the British government, had made an assertion of willingness to participate in negotiations toward the goal of freeing him. The cat and mouse of the political gambit. It seems wholly unfair, that Assange should still have to remain, like a fugitive, caged in a foreign embassy, whilst Chelsea Manning, now roams free thanks to a relaxing of the sentence awarded her for whistleblowing. I saw that as a pardon from Obama, though he himself says, she had served enough time for the offence of revealing secret documents.  Whatever, legally bound Britain to his arrest warrent, surely as this is now dropped, it is a matter of pure diplomacy now, between governments. Julian Assange, from the outset of his creation of a whistleblower site, has asserted his anti-war, anti-oppression opinions. His goal, to create perfect anonymity for the whistleblower to enable, the revealing of corruption. He has loyal friends, and associates. His followers, and supporters of the publishing site Wikileaks, have funded and helped, and emotionally stood with him for the nearly ten years of publications. Fellow journalists, have applauded the facility of the Wikileaks site, as a help in their research for items of news. All the major papers including the New York Times and our Guardian, have also benefited from publication of materials originating from Wikileaks website. It seems so turncoat, of them, to turn around, the argument of freedom and transparency, as and when the colour fits, bowing to government influences, and thus curtailing proper criticism of the politics surrounding our generation. It is refreshing to see a surge in youth interest at election time.

Grenfell Holocaust

Posted in Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2017 by kathydasilva

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(picture copyright of publisher K Da Silva 2017)
I continued my journey from Knightsbridge to see for my self, the horror of what has happened in the last week. It was not made easy for, all the surrounding tube stations, and it seems also buses coming into the immediate area of this fire, have been stopped from picking up passengers, and dropping them in the vercinity. I managed to walk from a further tube stop, nearby, I knew this area from a long time ago as an art student, Nottinghill is adjacent. I am grateful too, that on such a sunny day, this route proved, more of a spiritual walk of faith, to attend something so fundamentally right, and acknowledging the scale of the disaster, as a goal. I regarded this afternoon as a prayer walk. I had thought about the whole dilemma of tower block residents. I had too been in a top floor apartment, in Barkingside, but, my block had a fire hydrant point with miles of hose wound round a wheel all ready for when firemen attend to put a flat’s fire out. The one thing I do remember is the stairs in this council block were not that wide, they were narrow and not deep. So if a few hundred people tried through foggy smoke, to make a hurried way downward, you can imagine, the trouble, and accident it might cause. People who survived did describe this inability to see ahead, through the smoke. I did some fire training once with the ferry group Stenna Ferries. Infact, I went for a whole day to the fire training center in Sussex. The firemen, told us bluntly that our catamaran, which was the type of ferry we would be hostessing on, was made of a similar material to aircraft, and mainly aluminium, and it is the only metal that will catch fire. So inevitably all ferries have sprinkler systems onboard. This is the issue being raised it seems by everyone about the panelling in the Glenfell tower block. What an almighty blunder to have placed these panels all over the outside of the building. All the evacuees, needed a guide down the main staircase. They needed some training, previous to a real fire. The smoke, disables everyone’s vision, so you have to learn to descend feeling your way down (like a blind person), usually touching the left hand wall, and get everyone to put their right hand on the person infronts right shoulder. I can imagine sheer panic, because of no guide being there and it seems lessons yes, will be learned. Why no advice on the phone from the fire brigade other than placing a wet towel around shoulders?
The pictures tell their own story. People have lost homes, and loved ones, and there is no solace.

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The Grief Experience

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2017 by kathydasilva

I went yesterday to visit my child’s grave in Southampton. He, my two year old bar three weeks off his second birthday, is buried near to my grandmother and grandfather. The two people in my life, that managed to stay faithful in their marriage, and believed that the sacred vows of love until the end, were the expectation.  They, my grandparents had married first in the Church of England, and after a while, my grandfather, had grown, more and more concerned over the fact that his faith really had belonged to his origins at birth, the Roman Catholic Church.  He talked this over with his wife, my mother’s mother, and she agreed to become a Roman Catholic, with him, and they married, a second time, in the Catholic Church. Hence, all my family are now Roman Catholic at least in origin.

It meant of course that buriel was the chosen formal end ceremony. I had not expected any part of the grievance, and trauma, that came, when I had had to leave, my little baby in the coffin box, at least four feet beneath soil filled with stones. Visiting the cemetary became a frequent event for the first year after he passed. But, my head was filled with so many strange voices. I would wake believing he was talking to me, saying things like, ‘You haven’t changed my nappy’. I kept thinking, that this was real, or possibly real, and did that mean he was alive and feeling wet, from a wet nappy, and also, that it could mean he was ‘alive’. Repeatedly the trauma kept producing this kind of thought, in me, and I was in quite a bad state. It was like a glass wall between me and the people around me, for a long while. I could see people enjoying themselves, but, for me the world was never going to be the same ever again.

I did the usual counselling sessions for bereaved people. It did help a bit, and I still worried if he was alive and starving in the grave for a long time. It may sound strange, but, my hope has always been on the optimistic side of everything. I could not believe he had gone.  The counsellor gave me the model for this type of trauma, calling it the Whirl Pool of Grief, and showing me, that at times, I might feel I was getting over the loss, and then sometimes, there would be something, that would drag me back to the middle, the core of the crisis, and it would all feel momentarily bad again. And she advised me to be kind to myself, and on those days, ‘Wear your pyjammas, and relax, allow yourself time.’  I still have not written the book on grief, that in my head, I thought might help others who suffer. Many, many of the mothers, whose children died young, would talk with me at the cemetary, and share their own experiences. Some of them had had breakdowns, through trying to carry on as normal, but, of course not giving time for the grieving process to occur. Some of them, had panic attacks, sudden palpatations, and sweats, that caused one woman to stop her range rover vehicle at the side of a round about, and use the dew on the grass to wake herself up from the panic and shaking, she was experiencing. One of them, had simply gone to take her children out for the day, and had sat in her car, with her hands on the wheel, and then could not move, not one single muscle. She had been carried to the ambulance, and hospitalized for over a week. They had told her that her body had completely siezed up due to the stress of the grief.  The way a child had died, varied, from illness, dying at birth, or accident. And like any news, of loss, this weighs heavily, in the minds of those closest to the individual who has passed. I still prefer to use the word ‘passed’, because even the nature of the whole cycle of life from birth to death,  it is the later, that is so extreme, in emotion felt. I know I prefer being alive for example. God has often showed me, what the peace of heaven is. I have often had the experience of being ‘taken up in the spirit’. It is a hard thing to describe, but every ounce of anxiety vanishes, and you experience a complete sense of belonging and peace. So I just wish I could remember this when, I get to feeling so full of grief.

The worst thing about my recent visit was being watched by someone with a camera. I have been involved with the IPCC investigating, the accident I was involved in as a pedestrian a year ago. I felt completely vulnerable to the person who had a camera, and it made me a little angry. The whole solace of visiting is to remember and to feel close to where my child lays. I pray, talk to the air around me, and generally, acknowledge his passing, my missing him, and a whole host of feelings.  The thought that someone thought they had the right to photograph myself in this most intimate of situations, is vile.

The dilemma of my own child’s death, which incidentally happened in Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children, on 7th July 2005, was to leave me forever, with a memory, a tragedy within, a day of tragedy, the day of the London Bombings. The wards, in intensive care, had been cleared, but for my own baby. The reason being,  to make way for casualties. However, the babies, who were in need of intensive care, got mostly moved but for mine. And the only ‘child’ casualty that appeared to be a boy of around twelve or thirteen, in pyjammas, though no visible wounds or bandages. You hear tell of faux flags and faux dramatized events through YouTube.com but, I cannot tell if this singular boy was an actor. We the parents were instructed not to go downstairs food would be brought up if necessary as the canteen was going to be used as some sort of ‘mash’ first assessment centre.  My child had had a fibril fit, and the cause of which was in part due to cardio myopathy, and other complications.

The graveyard people, the gravediggers had made the form of a question mark with the flowers left by people, noticing the date, and possibly thinking he was a victim of the bombing attacks. The hospital had been behind with all his medication on that day. I had been told by quite a few of the doctors that my boy Marcos had had every chance of recovery.

My elderly parents, came to help me back to my town of birth, with the body of my baby, we were allowed to do this, with some special permission. Marcos was wrapped up in a large hospital blanket. We rather dramatically drove through the night to Southampton. On arrival everyone went to bed, and I with my son beside, me in my mother’s living room on her sofa bed. And the next day too, I had laid him on the sofa cushions, as if asleep. And I too, had seen what I thought was his chest rise and fall. But, people say it is an illusion. I had visited the funeral parlour where he was prepared for his funeral day. The chapel of rest, was low lit with candles, and rather sombre. But, right until the day of buriel, I had visited daily, kissed his forehead, and hoped, he would jump alive some how. I had repeatedly said, ‘Marcos, Marcos, mummy needs you’, in between sobs, and the general unreality of the whole loss. And I felt I was betraying him, somehow, if I left his side.  It is terrible, losing someone, and there is no advice to how to grieve, or for how long to grieve. I guess, I grew like the other souls around me who miss someone, learning to live with the hole that the loss creates. So in life, as much as the joy of the birth and my son’s two years of life, gave, me, in equal doses, now there is sorrow, too. I do believe in heaven, I do believe, I will see him again, and I do visit the grave not so often but, whenever, I hear his little voice, somewhere in the air. And hopefully, we will be together, when I come to the end of my own days.

It is twelve years on from that day.

If any of the above helps, at all I will feel happy, and also the counselling was a good support service that I was told about by my doctor/GP.

 

 

Housman’s Bookshop Throw a Party For Chelsea Manning

Posted in Current affairs, education, Poetry, politics, Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva with tags , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2017 by kathydasilva

At 7 pm this evening Housman’s Bookshop, opened its doors and celebrated the news of Chelsea Manning’s first day of freedom. All supporters, who had travelled to London for the party took part in the evening of entertainment and mirth. Poets and activists for peace stood with beer and wine in hand with a tremendous feeling of worth. Such a wonderful day for Chelsea Manning seeing her sentence of more than 35 years commuted to the six she has served with clemency from Obama as he left the Whitehouse for the last time.

Attendees, are as follows: Jim Radford, campaigner and activist for peace a veteran of WW2; Kirsten Bayes, from C.A.A.T. Campaign Against Arms Trade; Rod Langlands, activist and anti-aparteid campainer in Israel for the Palestinians; Susan Johns, who read the statement from Chelsea Manning on what had kept her strong whilst in prison; Pauline Sewards, activist and poet, who also read tonight her own poem thanking Chelsea for her bravery( she says she writes mainly for activism on the site ‘I am not a silent poet’;  the staff of Housmans including manager Catherine Barter. The whole shop was filled with the most amazing warmth, and feeling of purpose. I looked around and found titles of grand inspiration, including Naom Chomsky’s titles. The main purpose was to celebrate the victory of Chelsea Manning’s freedom, and the wonderful feeling of perhaps being part of it.

The shop aims to send to Chelsea Manning the photograph of everyone who came with the signatures and well wishes of the many who came to support this brave whistleblower. Thank you Chelsea Manning for standing for PEACE and TRUTH!

 

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I have now uploaded the small snack bites of video from the party you can hear some of the speakers to the above event on YouTube.com  …

 

The Winepress of God’s Anger

Posted in Poetry, reviews, poetry, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2017 by kathydasilva

The winepress of God’s anger

Was created long ago

Our land our lives,  and now our living

Made the G_ A_ P grow

One night in the autumn in a  dark, dark dream

I saw the state of the present stream

The light over all things was grey like a cloud

The people in bondage the world in a shroud

In a shop down town, in the front of the store

I was like a  future bride  coming through the door

Escalators going up, were going to all floors

Well stocked and overflowing, the devil applauds

I couldn’t hear my footsteps, I couldn’t change the light,

There didn’t seem to be a way out  to join the BLESSED fight

I couldn’t find the exit

Which seemed miles away

I was praying for the dawn, I was praying for the Day

The clothes and carpet muffled every step

The giant padded cell,  that was playing with my head

And here’s the real mad house, not the way we’re led

If people can’t see the dark they are in

And turn away from their eternal sin

Stop all their magic, stop all the gain,

Start to live righteous, stop all the pain

Call in the debt the debt to Man

The God of Love can’t stop the plan.

(This and other poems of mine can be found in Life Dance, on Amazon sites globally..)