Monthly Archives: October 2015

It’s The Time of Year For Spooky Tales

Hallowe’en is almost upon us once more.  This week I thought I’d continue a spooky tale from earlier in the year.

If you missed the first part, here’s the link – https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/still-as-a-statue-3/

Enjoy –

Still As A Statue – Part Two

Having worked late into the night editing the photos for her portfolio, she slept through her alarm. It was the noise of the downstairs neighbour clattering in after his night shift that wakened her shortly before eight. In a frantic panic, she had charged through her small flat getting ready in record time.

As she had scampered down the front steps, juggling her bags, camera and a half-eaten slice of toast, rain pelted down on her. Muttering as an icy drop slid down the neck of her jacket, she pulled up her hood and set off for her nine thirty meeting with her tutor.

Despite being tight for time, she couldn’t resist the temptation to pause in the square to take a few more photos. Part of her loved the effect of the rain on the stone. It added more shading and a subtle sheen to some of the effigies. Having spent hours studying the various statues the night before, she scanned the buildings and gardens seeking out the tall male and the girl with the long tumbling curls. She quickly spotted the girl. Unusually, she was on a plinth in the garden, staring down the road that she herself had just rushed up.

The tall, slender male was nowhere to be seen.

An icy chill ran down the student’s spine as, with trembling hands, she stuffed her camera back into her bag.

Her tutor was waiting for her when she came dashing into his small office.

“Sorry, sir,” she gasped, as she dumped her bag on the floor. “Overslept.”

“Relax, Jenny,” he replied. “You’re a whole thirty seconds late. Chill.”

“Oh, I’m chilled,” she declared emphatically. “To the bone! Wait until you see my photos.”

She handed the flash drive to her tutor and asked him to open the file “Moving Statues” that was stored in the “Portfolio Pieces” folder.

Nodding approvingly, he scanned the images one by one, occasionally complimenting her on the light or the angle or the balance of the composition.

“These are fabulous! Just the boost your portfolio needs. Which ones are you going to enlarge and print?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she said, twirling a strand of her coppery red hair round her finger. “Did you notice anything odd about those statues?”

“No. Was I meant to?”

“Sir,” she began nervously, suddenly feeling very foolish. “They move about that square.”

“Move?”

The look on his face told her that he thought she was crazy. Folding his hands in front of him, he continued, “Jenny, statues of that era or any others made of stone aren’t easily moved. It would take lifting equipment to shift some of the larger ones.”

“I know and I know it sounds insane, but I can prove it,” countered Jenny boldly. “Open the file “Changeable Locations.” The proof’s in there.”

Together they sat and studied the numerous photos of the sculptures. Again her focus had been on the tall male and the girl. Both statues appeared in at least a dozen different locations around the square and gardens. Both statues had been photographed in different poses but there was no denying that there were the same ones.

“Jenny, you must’ve Photoshopped these,” accused her tutor as he closed the file.

“I don’t have Photoshop!” she protested. “And I can confirm they move with this morning’s shots that are still in my camera.”

Before her tutor could levy any further accusations, she reached into her satchel and passed him her camera.

“Date and time stamp is on each image,” she stated.

Sceptically her tutor accepted the camera and browsed the pictures that had been captured only an hour before.

“Now do you believe me, sir?”

“I must be losing my mind,” muttered the disbelieving tutor as he switched off Jenny’s camera. “Yes, Jenny. I believe you.”

By the end of the day, Jenny had printed off half a dozen of the images and mounted them, ready to be included in her final portfolio of work. She had also left a copy of all of the files, including the fresh ones from that morning, with her tutor who had promised to speak with a colleague who studied paranormal phenomenon.

Straight after her last class, Jenny rushed off to work. Three nights a week she worked as a waitress in a small family –run city centre restaurant. As it was midweek and a miserable night, business was slow. An hour before the end of her shift, the owner’s wife suggested that she should finish up early and head home.

As she opened the garden gate, Jenny felt the temperature drop. An icy chill swept through her. The light above the entrance was off, leaving the doorway in virtual darkness, despite the lights being on in the two ground floor flats. Quickly she ran up the path and the half a dozen worn stone steps. As she reached to open the large wooden door, she heard a noise behind her.

Slowly she turned round. She found herself face to face with a tall, slender familiar looking man. His skin was alabaster white, almost translucent.

“Hello, Jenny.”

Still As A Statue

The soft light from the computer screen was the only illumination in the room. Staring intently at the screen, the young art student couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing. It was late and she knew she was tired however what she had just noticed made no logical sense at all.

For the past two weeks she had been focussed on her final photography project for her portfolio. She had a love/hate relationship with the camera but, after a lengthy lecture from her tutor, had conceded that she had no choice but to submit some photographic images as part of her overall degree portfolio. In an attempt to make things easier for herself, she had elected to centre the theme of her coursework on the stone statues that she walked past every day on her way to college.

Her daily route took her across a small square in the city centre, slightly off the beaten track, but filled with stone statues. It had caught her attention in her first year and she had done some research at that time into its history. All the sandstone buildings around the perimeter of the square had been designed by a Victorian architect who was renowned for adding Gothic touches to his work. He had met up with an aspiring French sculptor and together they had collaborated on the architecture of the square. Every building had at least one carved stone image on display, some having several. There were gargoyles leering down from every angle. In the centre of the quadrangle there was a small public garden containing more samples of the sculptor’s work.Her research had come to an abrupt halt. Both the architect and the sculptor had mysteriously disappeared shortly before the last house was completed, leaving one home with an empty plinth within the archway above the front entrance. As the sculptor hadn’t left any instructions or partially finished pieces, no one knew which statue had been destined to fill the space.

The following day she had scoured the area and finally found the house with the missing statue. It may have been her imagination but the air temperature had seemed to drop  a few degrees as she stood gazing up at the empty arch.

Now almost three years later she used these statues as  the models for her photography project. They had proved to be the perfect subjects. Always still. Facial expressions fixed. No risk of them twitching and ruining the shot. She had photographed them over several days, taking hundreds of shots from every conceivable angle. In different light they looked subtly altered so she repeated her photographic session by the light of the dawn and by the light of the moon. The variable Scottish weather had aided her project too, allowing her the opportunity to capture images of the stone figures bathed in bright sunshine and lashed by driving rain.

As she had edited the photographs she had felt pleased with the results. Her camera had captured the texture of the stone, the emotions carved into the faces and she had even picked out a few smaller carvings that she previously missed.

Now though, as she sat preparing the final images for printing off in college in the morning, she couldn’t make sense of the scenes before her.

Crazy as it sounded, the statues weren’t always in the same location.

Scrutinising   the hundreds of photographs she concentrated on four statues who appeared to move about the most. Within the four folders she had saved out she had photographic proof that she had shot them in at least half a dozen different locations around the square. One, a tall slender striking male had even managed to appear in the park on a short column instead of his usual position beside the door of number seven. The statue of a young woman with long tumbling curls also moved from house to house. In one image she was crouching down above a doorway, almost as if she were trying to squeeze into a space too small for her, instead of standing on a wide base in a corner of the gardens.

A cold chill ran down her spine as she copied the pictures onto a flash drive. She would take them into college and show her tutor what she had uncovered.

With the images saved and the flash drive removed, she shut down the laptop and headed for bed.

Outside on the window sill, a tall slender male was crouched down watching her. He had been there all evening, as he had every other evening for a week. In the moonlight his alabaster white skin glistened.

He had repeatedly warned the others to take more care. Cautioned them against their reckless behaviour. Now, from what he had just witnessed, he knew they were all at risk. The art student had discovered their secret…or at least she thought she had. Little did she truly know.

The First Annual Mother/Daughter Day of Culture

Yesterday was the last day of the school October mid-term break here and I decided to spend it with Girl Child. Mother/Daughter time and all that stuff. Depending on teenage hormone level this could mean a suicide mission!

Fortunately hormone levels were under control. As a precaution though, I fed her tea and toast with Nutella for breakfast. A hungry Girl Child, hormonal or not, is a dangerous creature!

Our destination for the day was one of my favourite places in Glasgow. No, it wasn’t Starbucks or Café Nero! We were heading to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the city’s West End.

I also discovered en route that it was Girl Child’s first trip on the Glasgow Underground. She’s still not convinced that even she couldn’t get lost on it!

glasgow-subway-map

Having hopped off the “clockwork orange” at Kelvinhall, we headed off towards the art gallery.

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Currently there’s a costume exhibition on and, with Girl Child’s interest in art and design, it seemed like a good place to start. Being brutally honest here, I was a little disappointed in the exhibit. The website and promotional literature suggests it’s a more extensive display than it actually is. That said, the dresses are stunning.

dress collage 2

dress collage

Girl Child quickly decided that the faceless mannequins would make ideal Dr Who monsters! (She has a fear of masks and things like that) The bride was particularly creepy though so I couldn’t disagree with her.

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Having had our fill of frocks, we meandered through the rest of the building.

I love the building itself. It’s stunningly beautiful inside and out.

It was built in the late 1800’s (same era as the dress exhibition covers) from the proceeds of the 1888 International Exhibition that was held in Kelvingrove Park. It first opened its doors to the public in 1901. The sprawling red sandstone building is built in a Spanish baroque style (looks Gothic to my un-educated eye) with its main entrance facing out across Kelvingrove Park. (No, it wasn’t built back to front as per the urban myth.)

collage 4

The centre piece in the central hall is a huge pipe organ. I wonder what the acoustics are like?

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Another striking feature of the main foyer is The Floating Heads modern art display by Sophie Cave. Each of the fifty or so white heads portrays a different emotion. Subtle lighting can make these faces decidedly freaky. Girl Child wasn’t a fan. Me – I love them!

collage 3

Another must visit gallery is the small room that houses Salvador Dali’s “Christ of St John on the Cross”. I fell in love with that painting the very first time my mum took me to see it when I was about twelve. It’s stunning!

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There’s something for everyone in the museum. There’s something for all ages too judging by the plethora of pre-school age children rampaging through the natural history hall. But then again, you’re never too young to be introduced to a place like this.

After another subway ride back into the city centre and lunch in the Hard Rock Café (well it was right outside the subway station. It would’ve been rude not to!) we headed off to Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) It’s not the biggest art gallery but it is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland.

I’m not generally a fan of modern art (apologies if this offends anyone). I like my art to look like something I can relate to. There’s something about most modern art that I don’t fundamentally “get”. However Girl Child enjoyed her visit and I got to see my first braille landscape painting (Girl Child thought it was a blank canvas – should’ve remembered your glasses, dear!). GOMA was deemed a hit all round.

collage 5

We’d been out for approximately six hours by this point and not a cross word had been spoken. Miracle!

After a detour into Schuh to get new laces for my leather Converse boots (HUGE thanks to the assistant who helped me find what I was looking for), we headed back to the station.

Tired and with the caffeine tank running on empty, we headed home on the train having had an almost perfect day. Perhaps we should make this an annual event?

The Family Clock

The last few weeks have seen a few subtle changes to the daily routine around here.

New school year for Girl Child. No major dramas….so far.

Start of university life for Boy Child. No major dramas ….so far.

It’s also a gradual move into the next phase of parenthood. A further step towards their independence. A further loosening of the reins.

Now they may beg to differ here but I think The Big Green Gummi Bear and I are reasonably relaxed with both of them. Yes, we like to know where they are, how they are getting home and when we can expect them back. Not unreasonable requests.

This is still largely under our control with Girl Child as one of us usually has to collect her from wherever she is. (Boy Child comes in handy for this too now that he can drive.) Boy Child is pretty much free to come and go as he pleases, within reason.

This is taking a bit of getting used to. I still can’t sleep soundly at night until I know he’s home in one piece. Fresher’s Week was a parental challenge and saw a distinct lack of sleep on my part. I’m not used to Boy Child sauntering in at three in the morning!

I’ve also discovered that it takes a hell of a lot of coffee to function after less than five hours sleep!

It’s a pleasure to watch them both mature into young adults. They’ll cringe if they read this, but they are both good kids and I appreciate how fortunate we are with them.

Boy Child’s late nights reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago. It’s been a while since I shared any poetry on here.

Enjoy!

Family Clock

A mental family clock ticks inside my heart.

Conscious of each family member

Not safe at home in the family heart.

Whether child, spouse or cat

My heart can tell where they’re at.

Once home safe and sound

Their personal “tick” settles down.

Whilst still out and about

Their clock ticks aloud.

With contempt the cat stares from across the street

And pads off into the night.

My family clock ticks on and on.

written 16/3/10

Hanging Out In The Memory Bank

Sometimes when the “real” world gets too much you need to escape into the “Memory Bank”.

The “Memory Bank” is crammed full of precious memories from life.

Some of them are songs. Some of them are food. Some of them are photos

You get the hint.

For various reasons way too private and person to go into here, I’ve spent a lot of time browsing the “Memory Bank” over the past few days.

(And before any friends start to panic, I’m fine. No need to worry. I just needed to get my head round something.)

It’s been fun “hanging out” at the “Memory Bank” while recharged my emotional batteries.

Yes. Some of the memories in there are bittersweet. I’m not going to lie but even they have their own “vault” within the “Memory Bank”.

There’s a few sad ones in there too but I tend to skipped past that “room” in search of happier galleries.

Occasionally memories “skip” rooms as the “real” world twists and turns.

There’s been a degree of memory “sorting and filing” over the last few days too.

Before this becomes maudlin and I’m delving back into the dark recesses of my mind, I thought I’d share a few totally random memories from the dim and distant past.

I mentioned a moment ago that songs conjure up memories. One slightly reckless but precious memory springs instantly to mind whenever I hear the original Guns ’n’ Roses version of Paradis City. Before the intro is over I’m mentally transported back about eight or nine years to a hot sunny morning spent on the town beach at Cape May, NJ. The kids and I had been dropped off by mu uncle for a couple of hours on our own on the beach. I desperately needed a few minutes of music and “me time”. The kids were about six and eight at this point. While they ran off down the crowded beach and played unsupervised in the ocean, I lay in the sun listening to Paradise City on my son’s mp3 player. For those six minutes and forty eight seconds I too was in Paradise. (No children were harmed due to lack of parental attention at that time)

Meringues from a local bakery are another source of early childhood memories. As a wee girl, I remember visiting my mum’s old auntie several times a week. She was a fabulous old lady and she adore children. I must have made the mistake one day of saying I liked fresh cream meringues. On a regular basis thereafter until she passed away, she bought me a fresh cream meringue from the local baker’s. I clearly remember kneeling up on the chair at the table in her small flat, eating my meringue in front of the budgie’s cage. (I’ve no idea why his cage lived on the table)Poor woman sickened me of meringues. Forty years later and I still can’t eat another one but the memories of her kindness and eagerness to please are so sweet.

fresh-cream-meringue

The ”Memory Bank” is pretty stuffed full with photo memories. Mt phone is pretty full with photo memories. My sideboard has a whole section full of photo albums and there are many more in another cupboard and on the book shelves. My laptop too (and external hard drive) has more than its fair share too.

Yes, I admit it, I hoard photos!

It would be virtually impossible to share them all.

I’ll pick one.

Eleven summers ago I took the kids to the USA to visit our American family for the first time and, as part of the two week trip, we spent a day or so in Washington DC. I’d been there as a little girl and was keen to go back to visit places from my own childhood memories. Before we left home, Boy Child, who was only six at the time, had been playing a driving game called Midtown Madness on the X-box. As part of the game, he could “drive” around Washington, DC. Repeatedly he drove his vehicle of choice into the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall. I commented that we’d see the pool while we were on holiday.

The day we visited the Mall, the pool had been drained for cleaning. Lo and behold, its base was covered in tyre tracks. You’ve never seen a little boy so happy to see “his” tyre tracks in real life.

USA 2004 122

Happy memories!

credits to the owner of the GnR video. and to the owner of the Google image of the fresh cream meringue