REFLECTIONS Issue Twelve â€“ Winter 2012
ISSUE TWELVE. THREE YEARS THEN. PRODUCING THIS MAGAZINE. 2012 EH? WHAT'S HERE FOR YOU..?
Bob Bellisio (artist). Kimberley Collins (artist). Badface (writer). Sue Bellisio (writer). Steve Smith (poet). Matthew Banks (writer). Ian Taylor (poet). Michael Harris (poet). Jessie Cotter (poet). Laura Quigley (writer). Kate Wilson (poet). Adam Grose (artist). Dave Marsdin (photographer). Adam Brummitt (writer). Sara Bellisio (model/stylist). Monir Ali (photographer). ... but of course they are much more besides ...
I've got to say, this issue- amongst other stuff- celebrates me and Vicky getting married in November 2011. And comes with love to you all. And best wishes for (THE FUTURE)
Badface Badface Investigates – Being Kissed I‟m in a club with a couple of friends, quite drunk. That‟s a lie. I‟m biblically drunk. The happy drunk where everything is hilarious and you keep shouting cheers and smashing your pint glasses together. Did I mention that I‟ve pulled? I don‟t really ever pull in clubs, it‟s a bit tacky. Besides it gets in the way of all the drinking. Also it could potentially lead to drunken sex with a stranger, which for me is a lot like the Aztec Zone on the Crystal Maze. When you‟re actually there it‟s much more confusing than it looks on the tele, there‟s loads of pressure to perform, and a bald man with a jazzy waistcoat keeps looking in through the window. I should probably consider drinking less when I get out. Or watch less Crystal Maze when I‟m hungover. The other slight problem with this whole kissing situation is that it‟s a bloke. Don‟t get me wrong, I‟m quite a liberal guy, but this bloke is fat and ugly. Also this is totally against my will. He‟s literally grabbing me by the head and forcing his tongue into my mouth. This, my internet savvy friends, is actual facerape. I probably shouldn‟t have told him I was gay - all those times. I was having a jolly old time in the club finding everything hilarious and testing the stress limits of pint glasses with excessive „chinging‟. When from over my shoulder I hear someone say: “He looks like a right girl.” I get this a lot so I spin around and say, “Pardon mate?” A short fat chav leans into me and says, “I said I think you look like a gay.” Confused by his change of attempted insult and encouraged by my blood alcohol level I decide to deconstruct his attack by launching into a barely comprehensible tirade. I start by complimenting his gaydar and telling him that I am in fact gay, detailing at length my fondness for cock. If you‟ll pardon the pun. For flavour I describe in minute detail a fictional homosexual liaison that I claimed to have just had in the toilets. I can‟t remember what I said exactly, but doubtless it was an excellently worded, eloquent display of powerful rhetoric. At the very least I know that I didn‟t throw up at any point. I performed with a borderline offensive theatrical campiness that would have put all those gameshow hosts from the 90s to shame. At this point I recognize a familiar look in his eye and brace myself to be punched. You may find this hard to believe but I get punched in the face quite a lot. As such I‟m pretty good at spotting the signs of an impending punch. People‟s faces change when they are thinking about hitting mine. Instead of punching me he grabs me and forces his tongue into my face.
Well this is new. I‟m not really sure what to do. I want to ask him to stop but he‟s sort of got a monopoly on my mouth right now. I decide that the polite thing to do is to let him get on with it and hope that he‟ll come up for air eventually. While he‟s kissing me I‟m sort of standing there awkwardly trying to work out what has prompted this unusual reaction. I‟ve got two potential theories. The first, rather vain, theory is that he believed my drunken faux campness and it awoke his deep-seated repressed homosexual desires that he was hiding behind his blunt butchness. My second, more realistic, theory is that he knew all along that I was a drunk tosser and decided to call my bluff with a perfectly constructed comeback to shut me up completely. I secretly hope it‟s the first reason because it appeals to my ego – but if it‟s the second, his plan has worked perfectly. I‟m standing frozen, bolt upright, while he forces his tongue around in my mouth. Finally he lets go of my face and takes a step back. He‟s staring at me blankly. I decide now might be a good time to head to the bar. I turn to leave and bump straight into my open-mouthed friend who apparently has been standing there holding two pints the whole time. Great.
Sue Bellisio CYPRUS Part 1 - Cocktail Party It jumped on the table and pinched my kebab. My first evening in Cyprus, there seemed to be something going on near the swimming pool. I had to investigate. “It‟s the management cocktail party,” said a man with a twisted face. I‟m not management, I thought, but let‟s have a go anyway. A line of people in suits and long dresses were welcoming the guests. “I don‟t think I‟m supposed to be here,” I said. “Come in, come in,” said a manager looking man, shaking my hand, so I did. “Buck‟s Fizz, madam?” I don‟t drink, but took one and a couple of snacks, something fried, possibly squid, and a kebab. I sat down in the warm evening, marvelling at the two shades of blue sea. I ate the fried item and nearly choked on the kebab meat, too tough for the old teeth. “That cat stole my kebab!” I said loudly, buoyed up by the alcohol. “Oh, they‟ve never tried that with me,” said the ancient man sitting beside me. The cat was thin, but not all that thin, and was one of several roaming the hotel grounds. It adopted me as I‟d inadvertently given it food. Every time I came out it would be there, rubbing its head against me, starved of affection. I had to be careful not to sit down unless I wanted it on my lap for half an hour in an ecstasy. It was slightly greasy to the touch and had such a plaintive mew. The cat Nazis rounded them up to be sterilised one day. They came from a sanctuary run by English people and spent half a day waiting, feeding them, gaining their confidence and luring them in to luxury travel boxes. The part I wasn‟t too keen on was the removal of an elegant grey cat and her six black and white kittens. A big battered black and white tom paced the grounds after that, howling. Was he the dad and was he looking for them? In the end they caught him too. Part 2 - Celia “I do admire you for coming on your own.” “Oh please, I like being on my own. Anyway my husband doesn‟t like abroad so he‟d be miserable and then I‟d be miserable.” A tall woman with a face ready to laugh approached me. I recognised her as the one who‟d been complaining of sore eyes the previous day. Her hair was short grey and untampered with, like mine, but more wiry and wavy. She was wearing wide black trousers, a plain white top and a large necklace made of some exotic material, I couldn‟t tell what. I was sitting beside the pool, enjoying the evening breeze, watching the palm trees sway over the Mediterranean and the swallows catching insects, leaving round ripples in the water. “I have to have people round me now. I nursed my husband with motor neurone disease for seven years. They gave me an hour‟s respite each week but by the time I was ready it was half gone. I had to do everything for him, more and more as he got worse.” “And it sounds awful but ….you wouldn‟t have known when it would be over.” “Yes. After he died I cracked up for six months.”
“I should imagine you would have.” “My doctor is wonderful, young but good. He told me to go on holiday, which was the last thing I felt like, so I went to Singapore, the first place that came up on the Net.” She sat down then, as this seemed to be turning into a conversation. “I‟m Celia.” “Sue.” “I‟m here with Steve. It‟s the strangest thing. We met in the post office and got talking. We‟d both lived in Poole for a long time and he‟d nursed his wife for five years until she died. Anyway, must get ready for dinner and Steve needs a shirt ironing. He‟s very particular about his shirts.” “Did you get something for your eyes, by the way?” “Yes, the chemist across the road is very good, they‟ve given me some drops. I left mine at home. They get very dry.” “So do mine. Let me write down the name of the cream I use – you don‟t need a prescription.” She took it and went off to do her ironing. The next day the trip was to a church outside which St Paul had been flogged – I touched the pillar, even though I don‟t believe in That Sort of Thing. Neither does Celia, she told me. Steve is seventy, a little older than Celia, and rather hard to understand, although I wonder if he does it on purpose to baffle people. He was in the Merchant Navy and sounds South African or Irish or Scots or all three. He has a red and purple drinker‟s nose but never seems even tiddly. “I joined at sixteen and went to London all on my own; my brothers were in the police down there and took me to the ship to make sure I got on. And years later I worked for them as a civilian, training black South Africans to work the British way as waiters on the ships.” “What‟s the British way?” “Not serving kippers with custard, things like that.” “Oh, I see. And what then?” “Trekked across Australia for a while, loved it.” “And then?” “Became a village postman in Poole and met my wife.” I noticed there were gaps in the story which he didn‟t seem keen to fill. Next night there was a cocktail party – it was that sort of hotel – and Celia and I got slightly drunk on Buck‟s Fizz and canapés. They invited me to join them for dinner and there were LOOKS from some of the others as we wove back to the table with our desserts, laughing our heads off. Next day‟s trip was entitled “Wine Making Country” and we did see lots of vineyards, tiny bushes because it was only spring. The best part was the Church of the Holy Cross opened for us by an old lady in black with a heavy iron key, tiny and full of beautiful icons too valuable to insure. The key lady kept telling me she had cleaned the whole place yesterday and it was spotless. We sat on strange high pews while our guide talked far too much. The pews are high so you concentrate on praying and don‟t get too comfortable. As we waited for the coach to take us back to the hotel Celia told me, “We were bombed out in the war and Mum and I went to live with my aunt, Mum‟s sister. I was spoilt to death. My father had been fixing a plane in Singapore and the Japs captured him and sent him to build the Burma railway. He was tortured. He came home in 1946 and I hated him, a man who smacked the back of my legs in this house of loving women. We heard him screaming in his sleep but he only spoke to me about his war just before he died. Then I understood.”
I must have a face people want to confide in. It happened exactly the same in Italy last year. Both times I was sitting outside having a drink and a cigarette and a lone woman started chatting in a general sort of way. “Are you enjoying yourself? What do you think of the hotel?” Then “Do you mind if I sit down?” and out comes the life story. I feel privileged and it‟s all grist to my mill. Part 3 – Another hotel There were a lot of animals about and a sign saying, “Please do not feed the cats,” and yet it was the poshest place I‟d ever stayed. The front of the hotel was unremarkable, save for a larger than life sized statue of Alexander the Great on his horse surrounded by a bed of singing-red geraniums. You walked into an enormous lobby running crossways, furnished with luxurious settees and marble tables and, outside, superior conservatory furniture for the smokers and others who like to be in the air, overlooking the pool and, beyond it, the sea. Armies of cleaners mopped every space I tried to cross, there was a big bowl of boiled sweets constantly available at reception, chocolates on the pillow when they turned down the bed at night, air conditioning in the room without an extra charge, everyone spoke perfect English, beautiful food, internationally bland, in short, a mistake. I went with Saga holidays, I can reveal. I was told they look after you, and they do, almost to the point of suffocation, telling you, for example, exactly where the toilets are and how many steps you will need to negotiate at each stop on the excursions. Perhaps I‟m not old enough yet. My room looked on to the street and had an enormous bed, dressing table cum desk, wardrobe with safe and an en-suite bathroom with telephone and radio. They put two small bottles of water in your fridge every day. When I asked about changing to a sea view I was told it would cost me, so I abandoned that idea, having spent too much already on this all-inclusive outing. I don‟t know how that came about; I thought it was expensive for half board and when I realised what I‟d done it was too late to change it. There was a Saga lounge with facilities that were basic considering the splendour of the rest of the place – chairs, tables, books, magazines, “Where to go” pamphlets and the rep‟s desk. I must admit Andy the rep was lovely, my height, mid-thirties, from Nottingham, informative, charming and very very funny in that slightly camp way I like, for example he and I were quickly making jokes at each other‟s expense. And the other good thing was the inclusion of tea and coffee (from ten o‟clock) and alcohol (local brands) from twelve noon. There were ructions when that became one o‟clock halfway through my stay because of a new contract, Andy said. So of course I did have the odd booze type drink, but it was a waste of money as I can take it or leave it. A learning experience. The other people were pleasant enough but by their clothes and manner, not really my type, I thought at first. I did make friends with Celia and Steve, who invited me to have dinner with them on the fourth night. We did this every night, but were all at pains to assure each other we‟d say if we felt like being alone. There was an intriguing threesome Celia and I speculated about. I was the one who found out the truth. There were two men and a woman. She was very fat, seventyish with a London accent, while one of the men was medium sized and balding, the other six foot tall, covered in moles and warts and a full head of grey hair. They were loud. If they were in the Saga lounge, you heard their aggressive banter from reception, two hundred yards away.
The first time I encountered them the tall one and I got chatting on the way to dinner – or rather he talked and I nodded. He told me he lived in Stamford Hill in London, a Jewish area, and as we walked he‟s fingering the curtains we passed. “Nice bit of schmatter, that, Geoffrey would say.” “Who‟s Geoffrey?” “My friend. He‟s Jewish, I‟m not.” I went off to eat on my own. They were entertaining but a bit much for me and anyway food needs to be concentrated on, in my view, and they were just so extrovert. What makes me think they would have wanted to eat with me anyway? They seemed very happy with each other. What on earth was the relationship? I avoided them after that, which I shouldn‟t think they noticed. We‟d chat briefly about what we‟d done that day and Geoffrey would tell me off for smoking. Celia and I had some Dutch courage before dinner on the sixth night and challenged each other to speak to them about this. I said to the tall man “We can‟t work out the relationship between you three.” “Geoffrey‟s married to Ada. We met on holiday ten years ago and have been friends ever since.” Ha! I won. Nice really, a long-standing friendship made on holiday. Andy the rep said one of the perks of his job is seeing this sort of thing. So I could carry on speculating about Geoffrey, Ada and mystery man, but that would be small-minded and prurient, so I won‟t. Part 4 – Mosaics The first things I wanted to see were the Paphos mosaics from Roman times, near the harbour. It was sunny and windy as I set off from the back of the hotel, the sea on my left. The harbour curved round a Venetian fortress on the end of the spit of land, and it looked less than half a mile away. The crazily paved path followed the coast, sometimes near the sea and sometimes away from it, depending on the location of cafes and hotels. I was splashed by a vigorous wave and noticed wet patches you should avoid. It was hot and therefore good fun. Banks of Mediterranean succulents on my right were luminous with purple flowers starting to bloom. I was enjoying it now. Nearly there. What‟s this? A six foot temporary fence announcing a building site and stopping me going further. I couldn‟t go over it and I could hardly go under it so I had to go round it. I took a detour to the right, this path rougher and sloping upwards. It led to a road where I turned left and could see the fortress again, nearly nearly there. More barriers. I needed to make a bigger detour and sat down in disgust on my handy portable stool for a cigarette and some water outside Debenhams. Debenhams, if you please, is this England? Yes, almost. I sat there for ten minutes and everyone who passed was speaking and looking English. It can‟t be much further, I thought, setting off again. I couldn‟t see anything because of buildings in the way. I asked the way of a couple carrying shopping. “It‟s just through the car park. Come with us, we‟re going that way.” And suddenly, O joy, I was on top of the harbour, the fortress and the Archaeological Park. I had another rest on its shallow sunbaked white steps. Through an arch into a white courtyard and precious coolness to buy a ticket at three euros. The toilets were nice and clean, and afterwards I fortified myself with a smoke and some water on a shaded wooden bench. Twenty wide steps led to the Visitor Centre and a signpost to the House of Dionysus, carob
trees rustling their drying pods to left and right. The rough path to the remains had purple yellow and white moorland plants on each side. Butterflies abounded and swallows swooped at you as you sat on the benches lining it. Cyprus is so rich in mosaics and other ancient stuff they are pretty casual about it. Half the time you are walking over remnants too trivial for them to bother with. The site is vaguely fenced off with red and white tape to indicate where they‟re still working and a solitary “DO NOT ENTER” sign lies on a low wall, but most of the tape has blown down. I loved the relaxed attitude, not least because it gave me carte blanche. The first house, a solid wooden building made to protect the remains, is approached up wooden steps. You pass along walkways round the four sides of the house, looking down on pictures from the first century after Christ. Apparently these were not regarded as art but chosen from a pattern book, as we might select wallpaper, and executed by craftsmen. The colours still glow in depictions of Leda and the Swan, Achilles taking his first bath and a hunt including tigers, bears and moufflons, a type of goat found only on Cyprus. The guidebook says, “The sorceress Circe, jealous of Scylla, mixed magic herbs and juices and poured them in the little bay where Scylla used to rest when the day was at its hottest. Scylla came to the bay and descended in to the water up to her waist when the lower part of her body was suddenly transformed into that of a horrid monster. Scylla is depicted here with a long curving tail ending in crab-like pincers. At the front we see the foreparts of three dogs while waist-up she has the shape of a woman.” Apparently this is by far the earliest mosaic in Cyprus, from the late fourth century before Christ, and I have been on my own with it. It was three o‟clock and the site closed at six. Off season too and deserted, which is how I like it. In one room marvelling, walking round and round, reading description on wall when four loud Germans arrived and stood in my way. How dare they? It was busier on the boiling hot dusty uneven path to the amphitheatre. One young girl was wearing stilettos and a short floaty strapless dress, while her companions were in mules or trainers. These young people.
Steve Smith â€œLoveâ€? First: She was her eyes; And second her smile, inbetween talkingtoofast with her nervousness of body, of face, being coming alive, but O Full Ripe-blushed lips, White teeth and eyes pale blue, yet still can flash; Me apprehended on the pressgang shore could have only wondered. Or hoped to guess, After all Those years disquiet, Dipped in lime and ash, self-dissolving and scared of a better part to play: strung and selfish and thinking there could never again Be another, better day: I like The way she sneaks up As soft, 'Love', without a diary; And tends to new things with angels' wings about her that only she can see; And breathes no prophet, Raking patterns in sand by the water's tidal edge, That say: This is an expression, my love, Of a kind of eternity.
With You O To be away with you on a northern shore, duned n tussocked, puddle-leaping, saltwind in our hair; O To be entwined with you at night, duvet-wrapped while wind and rain lashes out the window-pane; O To shine in your bright eyes, gentle blue, nape of neck to kiss as kettle boils for coffee, a loving-cup stirred.
Time The clock Stops At ten-to-two; alwaysBeech leaves Drop. And, later, I find three conkers desiccating In my coat pocket. And, Later, I am alone again. But only for a little while I hope. I know, As I come home To you Seeds of time Rattling Some sorta juggling trick That Autumn is Kind To me.
For Ever The light dripped down from a halo 'round the cloud like rainfall. She stepped over puddles, scarf warm 'round the back of her neck, hair newly cut. In my pocket I juggled three chestnuts still damp from the shower. As leaves blew down all around the ghosts time scattered. And I'll kiss you in the rain once again, for ever and after. And I'll kiss you in the rain once again, for ever and after.
Now I've been meaning to write a poem For ages now That begins with the line: 'I'm in love with Victoria Franklin.' I can't now; So sudden the change.
Now, The poem will have to begin with: 'I'm in love with Vicky Smith.'
Two Birds You saw two birds in the tree of life, boughs spiralled with leaves over all seasons' change; You saw the silver, you saw the snake, you saw her tiara, red roses and white and the artichoke heart; small lilies, organza, wrapped with raffia twine, green leaves, purple spray, her heart and mine encircled; Encircled by silver, red-green and white gold, purple and white, deep blue of the water, as all-seeing eyes flash bright in the wonder; You saw two birds gold-flecked by the sun, high over hills as the estuary gleamed at the dawn.
[Translation] I can't begin To write the smile in your eyes Or the back of your neck With your hair newly cut Or your giggle And the way you think; I can't begin To write glances over tables At open-mic sessions Five years ago: Electricity and Subatomic Sub-aural Sublime Yearning; I can't begin to dissertate, elaborate or essay: The love you make, The care you takeHearts stitched together With invisible thread; I can't begin, Yet there is no end To my love for you, And so these scribblings of ink Are less than nothing: I shall simply kiss your lips xxx
Matthew Banks Morvella House II Her foot fell down onto the damp pine needles, as she ran - but from what was she running? All she could remember were the words that had haunted her all day: â€œShe wanted to break something.â€? But what was it she wanted to break and why was she running from it. Sweat poured down her forehead. She was close to tears. A sudden thought struck her...maybe she had been dreaming again. She stopped, paused and thought. Looking down at her plump figure, she realised that she was wearing her night gown. A small polite laugh erupted from her lips. Yes, she had been dreaming. What a stupid girl she had been. An owl hooted and the girl took stock as to where she was. She gasped as she took in the tall trees that shut out the sunlight. It was almost like being in a cathedral. Noises in the dark reminded her of hushed voices, and she found herself taking a step back and whispering the word, "Daddy." The girl realised with mounting fear that she was in Olcome Woods! Hadn't her father told her never to venture into the woods unsupervised, as she could easily get lost! And weren't there many strange stories about the woods being haunted by elves, fairies and such like? Was it not drummed into every child not to play any games in the woods especially hide and seek - for the only good hiding places were the ones where the bad things lived. Hadn't a family vanished near the woods? She tried not to dwell on such things. The moon rose and hit the trees at such an angle that they lit up a well-worn path. She tried to see into the gloom, but couldn't, and her mounting fear made her hesitate to go back through the blackness that lay behind her, like a beast waiting to pounce. Her fear pushed her feet forward, leaving behind impressions that were wet. After running several yards, she stopped again. Something was wrong. The moonlight had vanished and the air had become chillier. Then it struck her like a slap in the face - there was no noise. No birds hooting...no crickets chirping - there was nothing. She found the silence very oppressive. A sudden thought struck her again... that maybe she was the only living thing in the whole of the wood, and that any noises she heard came not from the living, but from the dead...the ghosts! She shivered. But had not father always said that there was no such thing as ghosts. Yes, he had. She wished that she were with him now. Damn this sleepwalking. 'Now stop being silly,' said the voice in her mind. 'The silence can't hurt you.' She forced herself forward, following the path the best she could, unaware that she was now running on tiptoe. Her hands touched her sides and hurriedly pulled back. She paused and looked at them. Her nightgown was wet ... not just wet, but soaking wet! A sudden pang of melancholy overcame her, and, as she took in her surroundings again, she noticed that nothing grew about the base of the trees - no weeds, no flowers - nothing except the damp soil. The branches were so closely entwined that no sunlight could penetrate and without the sun there could be no
life? Is this a place for the dead? 'Yes ,' said the voice in her head. She shivered again and wondered how the moonlight had been able to penetrate this awful gloom! Had it been moonlight? She came upon the pool so suddenly that she almost fell into it. Luckily she managed to catch onto a low branch, which helped to steady her. The moon shone down onto the murky, still water that was barely two feet away from her. The expanse of the water was too wide for the surrounding trees to meet in the middle. She slowly took in every detail. An old mine pit, the opposite wall towering out of the few trees that grew out of a small outcrop at its base. In fact the trees looked as though they were growing out of the pool itself. The water was black and evil smelling and did not reflect the moonlight. It was a lot colder and damper here than in the woods. Nothing stirred in the pool - no ripples because the wind never touched it. It was as still as the grave! 'Fancy a swim in it ?' said the voice in her mind. She reckoned that she could easily reach the other side and back - but you just never knew what might be lurking in its black depths. Some hideous monstrosity that took young children for its dinner. She shivered again and made her mind up to go back home. She was tired and scared and wanted Father. He would be so cross that she'd gone out to the woods and even more cross that she was soaking wet. A sudden compulsion to look into the pool to see if she could make out the bottom gripped her. She held on even more tightly to the low branches and lent forward, careful not to fall into the black depths. The water seemed to ripple, but there was no wind. Maybe she'd knocked something in ...or could it be a monster stirring, taking notice of this little plump girl who'd gone out sleep walking and now had woken up, lost and frightened! Her mouth was dry and tasted horrid, her eyes wide. She suddenly didn't care what had disturbed the water...she just wanted to go home. Just wanted Daddy. She'd never come back to this horrid place - never, never, never. Then a face appeared. A blur at first, and her fear made her wait until the ripples had gone. She gave a moan of fear, and almost lost her balance, almost fell into the black depths of the pool. The face was that of a child - but not just any child - it was her own reflection. But the eyes were dark and the face was gaunt - it had lost its puppy fat. The hair was swimming around like snakes. A scream built up inside her throat as she realised that this face was a thin version of herself. The mouth moved, but she wasn't sure of the words. Then the voice in her mind said, 'We are one.' Her scream found a voice and she dropped to her knees, sobbing. Suddenly the water rippled again, sending out shock waves that reached to the other side. Was the monster rising...were hands reaching out of the black depths for her? She jumped up and ran. Ran away from whatever the face had meant, from whatever had caused the ripples and from her own fear. The branches suddenly seemed to come alive, reaching out for her, trying to haul her back to the pool and whatever lurked within its depths, but she fought them off as tears filled her wide frightened eyes. The silence was gone, replaced by noises that sounded like whispering voices. Stumbling, breathless. Falling, picking herself up and ignoring the pain in her side. Her wet nightgown flapped as she ran, making a noise like a panting dog at her heels, and there was a roaring sound in her ears as though some unnameable monster had joined in the pursuit. She came to a fork in the path. She hadn't noticed that before. Eenie Meanie Minie Moe - she took the left path and prayed that it was the right one. The one thought that dominated her mind was of HOME.
A twisted, blackened oak reared out of the darkness, its knotted trunk looked like a devilish face, leering out at her. Trees that seemed to move of their own accord! No, that was Wizard of Oz stuff. But if it was true, then where was the Wicked Witch? She felt she was going to faint. The blackness before her eyes was speckled with red, and it seemed to be darker than the earlier gloom, she'd become accustomed too. She daren't clutch at the branches for support in case they seized her and dragged her back to be cast into those black unfathomable depths. Suddenly there was moonlight, a blinding aura that offered sanctuary. She rushed forward with her remaining strength, felt the damp air on her face and the soft rain in her hair. She fell to the floor, sobbing, and had just enough energy to take a quick glance behind her, to check that nothing was in pursuit. Only the darkness looked back, and seemed to mock her. She retched. After a few minutes, she got up and hurried towards the house. The main reception room was in full light, and sobbing could be heard coming from the slightly open window. She entered the house and made her way to the main reception room and entered. Her father stood by the fire, which was roaring in the grate, and her mother was bent over something, sobbing deep, soul wrenching sobs. “Father, I'm sorry. I've been sleep..." She noticed that her father took no notice of her at all. So she went across to her mother and pulled at her sleeves. But nothing. Father said something and mother turned to him, moving forward, and she could see clearly now what her mother had been crying over… “April.” The voice seemed distant, far away. There appeared to be no urgency and her eyes remained closed. Her head ached on the right side, and she raised her hand to her temple. It was wet. Her eyes opened and she sat bolt upright. She knew that she had had that dream again and for one moment, she thought that it had come true! Looking around, her eyes seemed dim, as if there were a mist over them. Her room seemed to be drained of all colour. She tried to understand. As she shook her head gently from side to side, some bracken fell onto the floor, but she took no notice of it as her room became more vibrant and colourful. The „mist‟ seemed to lift from her eyes but the throbbing continued. “Mummy?” her voice, tired, replied. Slowly rising off the bed, she stumbled over something on the floor. But there was nothing there. Her head throbbed more violently now. “Where‟s Dolly,” she thought. Dolly was her best friend and they played for hours together. It had been made in her image, a perfect replica of her, and was a present from her Grandmother after she had been ill. Was she ill again? She did not know, all she did know was that she wanted her dolly. Leaving her bedroom, she made her way along the corridor and down the wide staircase. She saw that her Father‟s study door was open and she peeked inside, the room was empty so she went in. It was her first time in this room as no-one was allowed into the study; her Daddy had been very strict on that. She saw three walls covered in books, and his desk by the window. She smiled as she often caught him at work behind the desk as she played in the garden.
Glancing out of the window, she saw a man heading towards the summerhouse. He was too far away to make out clearly, but there was something about him that she did not like and knew that she had to find Mummy or Daddy and tell them that there was a stranger in their garden, in her summerhouse. She hurried out of the study and down the passageway to the kitchen. The door was open and she could see a cup on its saucer on the table. “Mummy,” she called out, but got no response. She walked back down the passageway, and looked in the parlour. The chairs were pulled back from the table in the centre of the room, there was a broken glass on the floor, and there were pieces of paper scattered around the floor, with letters on them. Vague memories came back to her. She did not like them and so tried to dispel them from her mind. The more that she did so, the more her head throbbed with pain. „April,‟ a voice called. “Dolly,” she said aloud. A scraping sound on the floor above caught her attention, and she made her way back upstairs. The nursery door was open and she could see her cot was in the centre of the room with the yellow stars and moon mobile hanging above, and the soft brown teddies were on the red toy box by the window, but her Dolly was not there. She frowned with displeasure. As she turned to leave, she saw a red ball on the floor, and she kicked it. It bounced out of the room, hit the wall and rolled towards the stairs. April made her way down the corridor towards her bedroom. The door was closed and yet she was sure that she had left it open. The first thing that she saw when she opened the door was her Dolly, lying on the bed as though waiting for her to cuddle her, as she did every night. She rushed across and picked it up and cuddled it. “Oh Dolly, there you are. I missed you.” „I missed you too,‟ said a voice. „Where have you been?‟ “I‟ve been looking for you!” „I‟ve been here all along, just waiting to cuddle you.‟ Knowing that Dolly loved her as much as she loved Dolly filled her with a tingling feeling and she felt complete. Holding the doll seemed to take the pain away. “You‟re my best friend,” she said as though expecting a reply. Then she sat on the floor, holding the doll as close as she could and told her about having the dream again and about the man that she had seen in the garden, „Don‟t go into the summerhouse,‟ said a voice. “Why?” she questioned. „You know why.‟ After pausing for a moment she continued by telling that she had been in her Daddy‟s study for the first time. Outside the light faded, and she realised that she hadn‟t seen her mother for the day. Holding her doll, she made her way back down to the kitchen. The house was quiet, and she didn‟t like that. “Mummy.” She walked along the corridor towards the kitchen. The chair at the table was pulled out as though someone was sitting on it, and there was the china cup and
saucer on the table. Grey light seeped through the window, casting shadows around the room. There was a strange smell as though of perfume mixed with cigar and she didn‟t like it. It reminded her of… „Don‟t think about it,‟ said the voice. She liked the voice it was kind and soothing and reminded her of Grandmother. She loved her Grandmother and her Grandmother always said that she was her special little girl. Her Daddy had told her that she had been named after her, and although her mother had never accompanied them, she had had lovely visits and holidays there. She thought about her mother… „She‟s not a good person,‟ said the voice. „Why not?‟ she replied. „Don‟t you remember that she shaved your hair off in a fit of anger?‟ She thought about this, a vague memory lost within the confines of her mind, but slowly it came back to her. “Yes, I remember,” she replied, sadly. Daddy had been so cross that he‟d taken her to her Grandmother's, with the cut off hair, and she had stayed there for a long time. Dolly had her hair now. Dolly was her friend. As she turned to leave, she said aloud, „Mummy, are you happy?‟ Then shaking her head, wondering why she had said that, she turned and made her way back up to her room. The greyness was seeping in through the window, and she suddenly felt tired. Curling up on her bed, she drew Dolly closer to her, and she started to name the fairies upon the prints on the wall, „That‟s Abella the beautiful and that‟s Aurelia the immortal and that‟s Niamh – she of eternal youth…‟ she went on until she fell asleep. The next morning she awoke and felt happy. Dolly was entangled in her arms as though it had been cuddling her, and she felt safe. Getting up off the bed, she noticed a couple of leaves on the pillow. Frowning, she picked them up and put them in the bin and then she pulled the doll to her and started to sing, “Dolly, you are my best friend, I love you Dolly.” As she played with her doll, she seemed to fall into a trance, because the next thing that she knew was that there was a hard rapping on her door. The door swung open, but there was no-one there. Surprised that no-one came in, she managed to quietly say a „Hello.‟ Yet there was no response. Maybe it was Philip playing a prank on her, she thought. Then she wondered who Philip was…she couldn‟t remember. As she sat on the floor she felt a cold breeze around her. She didn‟t like it and so picking up Dolly, she left, taking a quick glance behind her to see if she could see anything. Her room was empty. Sighing, she thought about going outside into the garden to play. She liked to play, and she liked to help Grandmother in her garden. Walking down the corridor, a door opened slightly. She paused, waiting for someone to come out, but no-one did, so she pushed it open, gently. The room was dirty, there was no colour in the animal prints on the walls, and some seemed to be peeling. The bed was unkempt and the sheets were grey and dirty looking. She noticed a grubby blue toy box at the end of the bed, its lid ajar. Temptation overtook her and she looked inside, and found that there were broken toys, toy soldiers with no heads or legs, trains with no wheels, teddy bears with their eyes missing. She slammed the lid down and hurried out of the room. She didn‟t like it in here and she didn‟t know why. Her bedroom was beautiful, vibrant with colour, her fairy prints were almost alive, and this room was in complete contrast to hers. Holding her doll tighter to her, she hurried down the stairs and out of the front door and into the garden.
The garden was cool and shady. By a side gate, she entered the garden. The perfume of wild flowers and cultivated blooms warmed by the morning sunlight filled the air. Looking around the wildness of the garden, she felt her Grandmother's presence, for the smell of the wild roses reminded her of her Grandmother‟s perfume that she smelt when she was gathered to her and she felt secure. Running in and around the garden, she played. „Don‟t go in the summerhouse.‟ She stopped. Looking towards the summerhouse, she started to tremble as she saw in the distance, a man, heading towards it. There was something familiar about him and she didn‟t like it. “I‟d better get Daddy,” she said to Dolly, and turned, hurrying towards the house. The front door opened as she neared it, and thinking that there was someone there, entered, closing the door behind her. There was no-one there. Frowning, she headed towards the kitchen, but other than a cup and saucer, in a different place, there was no one there. “Mummy,” she called out. On getting no response she made her way back down the corridor, pausing only to note the muddy footprints on the wooden floor. From somewhere upstairs she heard the voices of people seemingly arguing and shouting. “Daddy,” she called up. On getting no response, she made her way up the stairs. As she neared the top stairs, the voices faded away. She paused. From below her she heard the front door open and shut and she felt a draft of warm air rush past her. „Don‟t worry my darling,‟ said the voice and it seemed to calm her immediately. She made her way down the corridor, towards her room. The door was shut and yet she was sure that she had left it open and there was the faint aroma of her Grandmother‟s perfume hanging in the air. She smiled and walked across the room and looked out of the window. Looking straight up at her was the man that she had seen in the garden. His face was the one from her nightmare, the one when she felt that she couldn‟t move, that something was on top of her. She quickly moved away from the window. „Hide,‟ said the voice. Looking around the room, she couldn‟t see a safe place in which to hide. She hurriedly left her room and ran to the nursery. Inside, she made her way to the cupboard on the far wall and climbed inside. As she closed the door, she realised that she didn‟t have her doll with her and her fear grew. She needed her doll. Listening intently, wondering whether to risk running to get her doll, she heard footsteps coming down the corridor. She held her breath as she heard the door open. She heard someone shuffling around the room and then leave… then the door opened and closed again just as quickly. Not daring to breathe she saw flickers of red and black specks float in front of her eyes and the throbbing got worse. Nausea took hold of her, but she was able to keep it down. „It‟s safe now my darling,‟ said the calming voice, and she carefully opened the cupboard door a crack to verify that it was safe. There was no-one in the room, so she carefully climbed out. She shut the door behind her, and as she turned around, she smiled with joy, for there on the rocking chair, was Dolly. She rushed over to it and scooped it into her arms, holding it tightly. “How did you get here?” she asked as though expecting a reply. “I see,” she continued as though replying to some answered reply. “I love you too.” “April.” The voice seemed distant, far away. There appeared to be some urgency, some fear in the voice and her eyes snapped open. Her head ached on the right side, and she didn‟t remember going to bed. “Daddy,” she said. “April, where are you?”
“Daddy, I‟m here.” Silence fell heavy and she began to feel butterflies in her stomach. Then panic set in as she realised that her doll was not with her. Looking around the room, fear gripping her tighter, she knew that she just needed her doll. The throbbing worsened until she saw her doll on a shelf, not looking at her, but towards the door. For a brief moment, she thought the doll had an expression of something on its face. Then it was gone. She rubbed her eyes and saw the doll was looking at her, its arms in a beckoning posture towards her. She jumped out of bed, hurried across and took the doll into her arms. Then she remembered that her Daddy had called to her and that there was something strange in his voice. Frowning and with her doll in her arms, she went out into the corridor. The scent of lavender hung in the air. She paused as she recognised her mother‟s perfume and then she felt confused. She‟d been dreaming about her mother, but she couldn‟t recall her mother actually being at the house, yet she knew that she had to be here… she didn‟t understand why she was feeling like this. Sighing, she made her way down the corridor. The door to the „dirty‟ bedroom was open, and she looked inside. It still held the same revulsion for her, but she noticed that some of the furniture had moved. In front of the window was a sturdy wooden table with a typewriter upon it. There were balls of screwed up paper on it and on the floor… they reminded her of the scattered paper in the parlour. She closed the door and went downstairs. The front door was open, and the smells of the flowers were beckoning for her to come and play. Looking down the corridor she could see that there was no one in the kitchen and her Father‟s study door was shut. “Daddy,” she called out, but again she received no response, so she went outside. Shutting the door behind her, she made her way to the garden. The sun shone down, she could hear the buzzing of bees and there was an air of peacefulness. She walked around the garden, pointing out different flowers and telling her doll the names of them. She had learnt their names from Grandmother, and she wished that she were here now. She slowly came to a halt as she felt the hairs on the back of her neck begin to rise, and she knew that she shouldn‟t look behind her, but nature took over and she looked. There was the man that she had seen in the garden, her garden, standing by the gate, watching her, smiling at her, it was a smile that she had seen before and she knew that she had to get away… she ran further into the garden. Trailing branches, like grabbing hands snatched at her clothes as though trying to stop her escape, as she pushed through the spreading foliage, and she instinctively knew that he was following her. Stumbling into a little bit of a clearing, she stopped in front of the summerhouse. She saw the climbing roses that she and Grandmother had planted, ruby red under the sunshine, the entrance dark and uninviting to her. Behind she could hear the steady crunching of footfalls. Looking around, she didn‟t know in which direction to run, where to hide. All she did know was that if she went into the summerhouse, there would be no escape. Yet there was no other option as the bushes were a lot thicker here and she didn‟t want to rip her dress. “Sorry Dolly.” She entered the summerhouse, the air humid with the heat, she screamed.
Outside, the sky was grey. Her eyes opened slowly and she found herself in her bed. Had she been dreaming? she wasn‟t sure. Yet she knew that there was something wrong, but she couldn‟t understand why she thought this. Her room was just the way that she remembered it. She sat up and listened. There was no other sound. Normally she could hear the steady daily routine of the house. Now she couldn‟t hear a thing. Getting out of bed, she saw that her feet were covered in grass and mud and her dress was dirty. Frowning she wiped them on the rug by her bed, and looked around for her doll. “Dolly!” Her eyes swam around and she felt herself fall. It was dark, cold and blackness surrounded her when she opened her eyes. She was lying flat on her back. She tried to sit up, but found that she couldn‟t – something hard was stopping her. She reached out to her side, feeling for her doll and felt nothing but the cold earth beneath her finger tips, smelt the earthy stench around her, mingled in with the scent of roses and slowly she realised where she was… “Dolly”… then there was nothing… From the bedroom window looking down at the summerhouse was the doll… then it was gone.
Ian Taylor Because You Love Me (for Steve and Vicky) On a crisp Autumn day You kissed me, out loud On a crisp Autumn day We made a promise, whispered, witnessed, On a crisp Autumn day Our hearts tumbled, shuffled and shrieked with joy On a crisp Autumn day My leaves fell silent, Because you love me.
Michael Harris Forbidden Fruit my head tells me and I know that you are, forbidden fruit yet still my heart yearns for you and that pain becomes a part of life, in stillness of night wishing you were here with me. in the light of day you are around each corner. I know you wish well for me, and I for you but will you always be FORBIDDEN FRUIT? Thoughts on a Post And you said I've yet to write the perfect love poem; difficult I say when the one you are with is for you a living poem, she fills your days with that you fall in love with and the night with living warmth, hears your innermost fears and with a living poet's line soothes away those doubts and then you smile those shared smiles. Can it be that EVERY DAY YOU are writing that perfect love poem
Jessie Cotter Catching Stars The house stood, each window dark with drawn curtainsJust one alone was bright. Behind that window you stood, in your night dress clasping your old fishing net, Waiting to catch the stars. One by one they appeared, the wishes for your thoughtsYour fingers twitched Toes curled and your forehead creased. Decisions of which was best. Then the net flew from your side, swooping down on the sky Whilst your mind was filling with dreams, light spilled from your fingers. Hands clasped tightly shut.
Toad As I sat waiting (for nothing) and the light faded in the time I didnâ€&#x;t feel pass a Toad came through the door and I saw your smile in his eyes I spoke to him of those things Iâ€&#x;d not replied as I let him jump from my hands into the shadows of the grass outside I crouched and continued to whisper my goodbyes hoping that it was you in disguise.
Violin Haiku The violin found Quiet, unstrung, forgotten. The air is your bow Barefooted and wild An impromptu conduction To release the scale Wassail away time With unspoken melodies That climb to the sky.
Indifference Indifference Feigned, unfortified, familiar. Indifference makes a false ease; A contrived ignorance. Speak your mind before it forgets how.
When a chicken nested on my head I felt the weight as my knots and tangles became home to a broody hen her clucks became my conscience my hospitality paid for with the gold of her yolks
Laura Quigley Notorious I promised Reflections an upbeat story for this issue, and the following is about an upbeat as I get. It’s a true story, from new research, though should be treated as scurrilous fiction until I establish all the facts. I’m currently researching the history of Plymouth for a new book coming out in 2012, and discovered this tale which doesn’t fit the book, but I just had to tell someone because it made me laugh. It’s a tale of pirates and corruption and rebellious children - any parent’s nightmare. William Culliford was an upstanding customs officer in the 1680s sent by the King to investigate the customs officials in Devon and Cornwall. William‟s report was a damning indictment – the customs officers of the two counties were the most corrupt in the country, frequently taking bribes, stealing cargoes, engaging in every kind of scam and larceny they could. He was appalled, wondering why the smugglers here even bothered to hide their activities, and his report resulted in the dismissal of the worst offenders – including the Controller of Customs at Plymouth - and an overhaul of the whole service. At the same time, William appointed his son Robert to the post of customs officer in Southampton, but the profligate Robert was not content to live on the meagre salary of 45 pounds a year. With his friend William Kidd, Robert became a privateer, joining the government‟s raiding parties against pirates and enemy ships in the West Indies. William Kidd took command of a captured French ship, and now as Captain Kidd received a commission to hunt down pirates, but his criminal activities show he had a very loose interpretation of his duties – he was certainly more interested in raiding the cargoes than actually catching any pirates. Meanwhile Culliford himself had become a pirate – with the wonderful nickname “Cutlass Culliford” - and Kidd and Culliford spent many days drinking together as they attacked trading ships and brought death and destruction to the West Indies and then the Indian Ocean. Both men and their crews were eventually captured by the Royal Navy and brought to London for trial. Almost all of the crewmen were hanged, and Kidd charged with piracy ironically because of his association with Cutlass Culliford. Kidd was then hanged and his body left in an iron cage over the Thames to deter anyone else tempted into piracy, while his scheming associate Robert Culliford was pardoned, having testified against all his comrades, and released.
Of course, Robert Culliford now needed employment. His fatherâ€&#x;s report had resulted in an increase in the salary for customs officers, to discourage corruption, so the job suddenly looked more attractive, and Robert spent the rest of his days back in his old job as customs officer for Southampton. And what of William Culliford? How did he react to his sonâ€&#x;s disreputable behaviour? Was he too astonished that the authorities would let a pirate go back to being a customs officer? William seems to have made no comment until after his death in the 1730s, when he bequeathed a substantial inheritance, but only to his daughters.
Kate Wilson November 23rd Love is in the air and on our breath. In the corner a man strums. We all sing his tune, while the clocks slow to the rhythm of his blues. We hear him and remember our losses; a glove, grandma's ring, virginity, a friend. We hear him and cherish these lines, mapped in our minds, because they brought us here.
New Year's Eve There are new scars this year; fingers worn threadbare from words written and erased, a beaten heart that knew the thrill of love's race, but crossed the line quietly long before the ball dropped.
From the Freak Files Political Pontification from The Politics Desk By Adam Brummitt 2012: The Coming of The Great Storm, Enjoy the Rising of a Turbulent Timeâ€ŚDo Not Resist, It's Coming Whether You Like It or Not, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride... The Wretched Year of Our Lord, Two-Thousand and Twelve is upon us, and while the Mayan calendar will no longer serve as a barometer for our temporal journey it might not be inaccurate to claim that the conclusion of its cycles may well herald dark days, indeed. If but we were fortunate that it actually was a prediction of the impending demise of the whole of existence. No, Dear Reader, this will not be a great bang but a long-sustained whimper. I've never been one to invest a great deal of stock in the pseudo-prophetic writings of Nostradamus but were I the betting sort, I'd venture that the prediction of a great monolithic animal of some manner or other falling to its rocky demise might be found in some iteration in The Elders' visions for this solar cycle. Having been involved this past year in the Occupy Movement, it was rather my hope that this would prove the crux of my quarterly political diatribe. Alas it is not so; the Occupy Movement is not the great dawning of an Aquarian Age of harmony and understanding. What it is, is the first ripple of what will likely escalate into a violent, crashing torrent of civil unrest. It was that which defined the political and societal tone of 2011, and with no substantive progress effected beyond the collective dissent of the sadly ineffectual it is highly likely that all will become worse before becoming better. The movement itself was and principally remains quite incredible, the potential for modifying the power structure there, many the practicalities considered, and from this will come scarce little, I'm afraid. Whether a representative government that is bought and sold as so many Persian whores or an economic system in which all save those responsible for its instability will continue to be savagely fucked without mercy, the writing is on the wall and the inscription foretells extreme actions to come fuelled by anger and an establishment unwilling to concede its dominant position. Before The Home Office comes rapping at my door and I am escorted into a windowless van to spend my remaining years shackled naked in a Calcuttan dungeon, let me be clear: I do *not* advocate extreme violent action such that I have implied. What may be most distressing about all that is to come once the levee breaks is the unfortunate truth of its having been preventable: If the unforgivably gluttonous affluent had offered a reinvestment of one of its several billion dollars rather than sitting on it as single parents on benefits worked three jobs to sustain the well being of children who've now no hope of affording tuition for higher education, if legislation had been passed raising the required contribution of the rich to an unnoticeable 3% tax increase, if those that sneered at the protesters had attempted to understand the central motivating force behind the social movements rather than taking as given inaccurate iTV reports of these 'disorganised anarchists' whilst having their recently upgraded iPhone prepare dinner for them and commenting on how much weight they've lost as though a twisted android from a dystopian episode of The Jetsons, the inevitable storm on the horizon might have been averted.
Who then is to blame? Firstly, perhaps those who insist that there is someone to blame. Progress lies in stasis as the morally principled indignantly demand accountability. Acceptance of accountability will not even the scales; we've met and exceeded that point long ago, which is perhaps the point. We cannot point at the current administration or its predecessor or generations of self-interested avarice and identify the culprit. The political, social, and economic realities with which we are now confronted are not the fault of the Tories (much as they may be hastening the cataclysm) or Labour or Green or Bigots or Hippies or The BNP or 'The Chinese' or Capitalism or Terrorism or any other of the conceptual goblins whom we condemn in an attempt to gain some comforting sense of our crisis. This began centuries ago and we are the living-damned present to watch it reach fever pitch. Taken in a certain light, it's something of an exciting privilege to witness for all the doom and gloom that this may portend. Will we be undeservedly blessed with an eleventh hour deus ex machina? It isn't beyond the scope of possibility and those fighting the good fight should continue to do so undaunted, but without being overly fatalistic it is imperative that we be honest with ourselves about the precipice on which we are all perched, as once the plunge is taken those that survive may well wish they hadn't. It's been a long time coming and the best intentions, the most vitriolic demonstration signs, the politicians with the brightest polished smile will not prevent this tide. We can but keep reasonably calm and carry on taking solace in that fact that those at the moment the most clean will not be spared the blowback when the shit hits the fan. Let us, though, not despair: it is a fascinating time to be alive.
Kimberley Collins â€œThe 'Retreat collection' photographs are displayed on mirrors in frames. They are to show how when we are young we crave to be older, and once we are older we want to be young again. As my sister is at that age (she is 15) I have been trying to show her the importance of childhood and holding on to it as long as she can. This is represented by her holding objects that are seen as childlike. They also represent myself at that age, as I always retreated into myself and into the forest to escape. The photographs are presented in a 'vintage' style so that they appear 'timeless'. To create this feel I shot them using 35mm film as I feel that film adds a certain dynamic that digital cannot quite capture. I think it adds to an overall feeling of 'capturing a moment' and holding on to what you have.â€? Kim is a multi-disciplinary artist from South Wales, working in painting, sculpture, photography and printmaking. She has a sculpture on show at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales and has exhibited in Canada, Swansea Museum, Ty Celf Gallery in Newport, and Art Works Gallery in Poole.
REFLECTIONS Published by Steve Smith / Reflections Magazine copyright Steve Smith 2012 Editor – Steve Smith Sub-Editor – Vicky Smith Front Cover Robert Bellisio – www. jafgatfineart. co.uk ' Westerly Sentinels' Inside Front – Kimberley Collins Inside Back – Dave Marsdin Back Cover Sara Bellisio photographed by Monir Ali Other Stuff Steve Smith (with apologies to Dave Marsdin for photographing his photographs!) All work is the copyright of the authors and artists email – exeterreflections@ gmail.com Twitter - @ExeReflections We're on Facebook too!
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