Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Friday, 18 December 2015

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Poetry with Punch

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Poetry with Punch: When I opened this blog in April last year, I mused on the nature of poetry, and suggested that a poem is more than its base material...

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

‘The Art of Impalement’

“The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it at all”  – George Orwell, 1984.

----------------

“Good morning brothers and sisters. This is a streamed public service announcement from Zahran Barbah, your comrade at The Ministry of Love in Gaza. Today I’m demonstrating  which body parts to target when stabbing a filthy Jew.

“First, prepare your weapon. Axes and machetes are good but my first choice is always the serrated blood ritual dagger.

“Note from the illustration that I treat my weapon like a Stradivarius violin. Yes. My aim is to entertain as well as to murder.

“So I don a mask like a master knife-thrower in a circus act, who between shows hones his blades so finely that they bear the exquisitely refined cutting edge of a laser. Then I polish the blade I’m about to throw, using the giant key that once locked the main gate at the maximum-security Ayalon Prison in Ramla. Please do not enquire how I have it in my possession!

“But I digress. To begin I play the blade’s majestic menacing low roars, running ever higher up the scale until I reach its soaring screeching rips,  slicing harder and harder, with greater and still greater zeal until my present frenzy’s quenched. Anyway, I can always do it again another day!

Knife Musician

“Next: try to practise as often as possible. Twice a week would be perfect. But to be in good shape for throwing, try to do 20-40 push-ups every evening.

“Keep your early training sessions short as initially your fingers will probably feel weak. I recommend exercising with finger weights or springs until you feel that the knives leave your hand at your command.

“Accuracy: Do not aim at a whole area, but at one specific point. Now move the point you are aiming at in your mind.

Knife.Ananatomical chartGazan Zahran Barbah on October 8, showing which parts of the body to aim for when stabbing a victim
“To correct the distance to the target, you must know how the throwing knife rotates: If, after a throw, you see only the back of the handle, you have made a perfect ‘stick’!

“Move only a few centimetres back or forward to find the right distance from your target. Then,  to dislodge the knife from the corpse, move it up and down like a lever until it loosens from the flesh or bone. Always move with the plane of the blade; not sideways, or you risk breaking the blade!

Gabriel Chouraki - Musician of Excellence in the IDF Band

“Otherwise, if you’re just a Kafir Jew-boy wimp who happens to be an o.k. musician, you could try joining the Israel Defence Forces orchestra.

“There’s one guy in their stupid band who’s so good at playing a piece named Shalom Aleichem that if I didn’t know better, I’d think it sounded just like salaam alaykum. It’s unbelievable!

It’s really hard to get my head round that. What’s more, I have to admit that the melody is so hauntingly beautiful it – oh, help me! – makes me want to weep. Y'know, it’s as if wotsisname – er, Gabriel Chouraki -  had pierced my heart with gladness; knifed my soul with human kindness.

“Maybe I won’t go out tonight after prayers. Instead I’ll stay at home and keep my mother company. I like to make her happy. Just like I did when I was a little boy and I won a prize at school ...”.

---------------

Author’s Note: 

Credit 1: Text taken and edited from  Knife Throwing.info ( http://www.knifethrowing.info/index.html)

Credit 2: Below is the English language translation for the lyrics to the popular Jewish Sabbath song, Shalom Aleichem played as an instrumental piece in the video clip by IDF Musician of Excellence Gabriel Chouraki.

(http://lyricstranslate.com/en/shalom-aleichem-peace-be-unto-you.html)

Peace be unto You

Peace be unto you,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your coming be in peace
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Bless me be Peace,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your departure be to Peace,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood – 21 October 2015)

‘The Art of Impalement’

“The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it at all”  – George Orwell, 1984.

----------------

“Good morning brothers and sisters. This is a streamed public service announcement from Zahran Barbah, your comrade at The Ministry of Love in Gaza. Today I’m demonstrating  which body parts to target when stabbing a filthy Jew.

“First, prepare your weapon. Axes and machetes are good but my first choice is always the serrated blood ritual dagger.

“Note from the illustration that I treat my weapon like a Stradivarius violin. Yes. My aim is to entertain as well as to murder.

“So I don a mask like a master knife-thrower in a circus act, who between shows hones his blades so finely that they bear the exquisitely refined cutting edge of a laser. Then I polish the blade I’m about to throw, using the giant key that once locked the main gate at the maximum-security Ayalon Prison in Ramla. Please do not enquire how I have it in my possession!

“But I digress. To begin I play the blade’s majestic menacing low roars, running ever higher up the scale until I reach its soaring screeching rips,  slicing harder and harder, with greater and still greater zeal until my present frenzy’s quenched. Anyway, I can always do it again another day!

Knife Musician

“Next: try to practise as often as possible. Twice a week would be perfect. But to be in good shape for throwing, try to do 20-40 push-ups every evening.

“Keep your early training sessions short as initially your fingers will probably feel weak. I recommend exercising with finger weights or springs until you feel that the knives leave your hand at your command.

“Accuracy: Do not aim at a whole area, but at one specific point. Now move the point you are aiming at in your mind.

Knife.Ananatomical chartGazan Zahran Barbah on October 8, showing which parts of the body to aim for when stabbing a victim
“To correct the distance to the target, you must know how the throwing knife rotates: If, after a throw, you see only the back of the handle, you have made a perfect ‘stick’!

“Move only a few centimetres back or forward to find the right distance from your target. Then,  to dislodge the knife from the corpse, move it up and down like a lever until it loosens from the flesh or bone. Always move with the plane of the blade; not sideways, or you risk breaking the blade!

Gabriel Chouraki - Musician of Excellence in the IDF Band

“Otherwise, if you’re just a Kafir Jew-boy wimp who happens to be an o.k. musician, you could try joining the Israel Defence Forces orchestra.

“There’s one guy in their stupid band who’s so good at playing a piece named Shalom Aleichem that if I didn’t know better, I’d think it sounded just like salaam alaykum. It’s unbelievable!

It’s really hard to get my head round that. What’s more, I have to admit that the melody is so hauntingly beautiful it – oh, help me! – makes me want to weep. Y'know, it’s as if wotsisname – er, Gabriel Chouraki -  had pierced my heart with gladness; knifed my soul with human kindness.

“Maybe I won’t go out tonight after prayers. Instead I’ll stay at home and keep my mother company. I like to make her happy. Just like I did when I was a little boy and I won a prize at school ...”.

---------------

Author’s Note: 

Credit 1: Text taken and edited from  Knife Throwing.info ( http://www.knifethrowing.info/index.html)

Credit 2: Below is the English language translation for the lyrics to the popular Jewish Sabbath song, Shalom Aleichem played as an instrumental piece in the video clip by IDF Musician of Excellence Gabriel Chouraki.

(http://lyricstranslate.com/en/shalom-aleichem-peace-be-unto-you.html)

Peace be unto You

Peace be unto you,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your coming be in peace
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Bless me be Peace,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your departure be to Peace,
ye ministering angels,
angels of the most High,
ye that come from the Supreme King of Kings,
the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood – 21 October 2015)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Karmiel Writers Group Expands!

 

The Karmiel Writers Group Expands!

Writers' Group

We all have stories inside us – if only in our dreams.

Now’s your chance to tap your keyboard, hone your writing skills, or perhaps start learning how to put words together, so making your aspirations and those of others come true.

Be you blogger or storyteller; poet or memoirist; Facebook scribbler, speech writer, essayist, song lyricist or prefer the spectator role of wise but fair critic, don’t be shy, come share your gifts at our next session on Tuesday 10 November at 7.00 p.m.

We meet at the Karmiel English Speakers’ Club on the second Tuesday of each month from 7.00 - 8.30 p.m.

** Newcomers please note: The clubhouse is in the old commercial centre of Karmiel, opposite the entrance to the main post office.

 

© Natalie Wood (19 October 2015)

Friday, 25 September 2015

‘Why They Went AWOL’


“I have a story to tell about the opening of the film, Saving Private Ryan. This was about 17 years ago and my then best friend – I’m sad to say we’re no longer in touch - took me to a local premiere of the movie.

“Believe me, what happened to a bunch of old guys sitting in the audience behind us was just as frightening as some of the action on screen.

“It seemed so real, although it was a different time, a  different  campaign. I  felt  like  I  was  back  in   Vietnam, with bullets bouncing round my head and the stench of napalm everywhere.

“Yeah. It was the sound …  the uncannily realistic noise of bullets hitting flesh which made me put my head down. Once you hear it, you never forget it and if that doesn't turn you, I don't know what does.

“Then you see and hear skin ripped open.  Jagged  bones  stick  out.  Brains  splatter.  You  glimpse a  wrist without its familiar hand; a splintered femur sticking out of shredded meat where there was once a leg. And blood; there is always so much blood.

“My old friend was one of those gung-ho military types who wanted to join the armed forces for all the reasons war films scream at you. Eventually, he did.

“I think  he  managed  to  get into  a specialist air force unit. But as we lost  contact years ago, I’m not one hundred per cent sure.

“Anyway, at the time I didn't have a television so I knew nothing about the film except that it was a World War 2 story about a platoon and that it starred Tom Hanks. My friend was very excited about it and billed it as ''super-hard-core-realistic’.

“When we got our tickets and went to sit down, the studio was quite full and the centre rows were dominated by a crowd of about twenty old men. They all looked very serious and I had a distinct impression that they were war veterans.

“We sat several rows in front of them. Then the movie started. It’s D-Day and  we’re thrust immediately into a massive grinder without pity or remorse and we stared slack-jawed while men were turned into meat and sprayed about the beaches.

“I felt heavy, stunned and simultaneously desperate to look away and compelled to keep on watching while searching for  some sort of redemption that would rationalise all that death; justify the sacrifices made. But there was none.

“At last, night fell but the accompanying curtain of darkened silence crashed like a volley of gunfire from a hilltop.

“Then something made me turn around to see how the old guys had coped. But their  seats  were  empty.  They’d all sneaked out.

“We stayed to watch the rest of the  film,  somehow  stumbling  through  scene after scene of brutality and misery. Finally, it was over and as the credits rolled  I sighed a micro-mini yawn of relief.

“But that was short-lived. Before we left the building I needed to use the rest room and as I pushed open the door, I discovered the men who’d gone ‘AWOL’!

“They were all in there. Weeping. Some were clutching the wash basins hiding their faces. Others hid inside the toilet cubicles. A few were hugging one another while still more simply stood alone. Silent. They tried to hide their feelings but this  made things much worse.

“The  movie’s  opening  scenes had  dug  something up out of the souls of those men; something they'd buried and kept secret for God knows how long. It was so powerful they couldn't even get out the building before it broke them down.

“I reckon they shouldn't have been there. They should have been with family and friends; perhaps somewhere private where men may weep openly – shamelessly. They should have been on a couch, in a living room, like my grandfather, drinking buttermilk and watching The Price is Right.

“They should have been anywhere but that filthy, public toilet, in tears, trying to keep out of the way of the young men trotting in and out just to take a pee. It was much worse seeing that than anything the film had shovelled at me.

“There was nothing I could say or do. So I crept out. Wordless”.

DSC_0142 16x20_BW.jpg

Here’s Pete Seeger’s story behind Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

“I had been reading a long novel—And Quiet Flows the Don—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book:

‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them. Where are the girls? They’re all married. Where are the men? They’re all in the army’.

“I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I stuck the lyrics to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counsellor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing:

‘Where have all the counsellors gone?  Open curfew, everyone’.

“The counsellor added two actual verses:

‘Where have all the soldiers gone?  Gone to graveyards every one.  Where have all the graveyards gone?  Covered with flowers every one’.

Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 per cent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world”.

  • No matter the war – or the era - the savagery is the same. The above is amalgam and lightly fictionalised version of the candid thoughts expressed by contributors to the Quora.com website about Steven Spielberg’s film, Saving Private Ryan. 

Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood – 25 September 2015)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Alwayswriteagain: כתיבה וחתימה טובה 5776

Alwayswriteagain: כתיבה וחתימה טובה 5776: With every good wish for a happy, healthy and sweet Jewish New Year, 5776 from Natalie Wood and Brian Fink in Karmiel, Galilee, Israel. ...

Sunday, 28 June 2015

‘The Price of Love’

Wedding.Dress.NoteThe day I proposed to Eunice was Saturday 20 July 1957.

A big day for us during an exciting period for Britain.

“Most of our people have never had it so good”, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan told a Tory party meeting just about the time I was down on one knee in the front room at Eunice’s childhood home in Garforth, Leeds.

And the joy seemed infectious, because an hour later as I turned on the radio to listen to the day’s sports results, I heard that Formula One stars, Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks had won the tenth British Grand Prix motor race  at Aintree  near Liverpool.

So as a newly engaged man and car enthusiast, I felt as though I’d won a major trophy of my own. I was in heaven!

Everything kept getting better and when, two years on almost to the day, we were wed at the local church, life seemed nothing short of wonderful.

I remember turning round and gasping as Eunice almost floated up the aisle towards me in a gown  designed and mostly hand-stitched by her mother. She was  a bespoke seamstress who had told me drily some weeks before, “When you see our girl in her frock, there’ll be no hidden label or snipped sales tag. You can’t put a price on love”.

Sure enough, my girl – yes, she was now ‘my’ girl -  looked gorgeous. Her long, slender frame and tiny waist were set off to perfection in the gown which was made from ivory lace with a floral motif, whose embellishments – so I was reliably informed – included  a peplum and a net underskirt.

We thought we were really grand as we’d saved enough to put down a deposit on our house in Garforth with a five day honeymoon in Bridlington.

“Bridlington - very bracing!”, said Eunice’s Dad with a wink as he booked our wedding breakfast at Castle Grove Masonic Hall in Headingley.

But all that seems so long ago. The years of working in the bank and helping to raise our beloved daughters  seem to have vanished in a trace.

My darling girl has now left me  after 56 years, her lovely face and figure ravaged by  a horrible illness so bravely borne in her final weeks with the devoted help of the staff at the local hospice.

Wedding.Dress.NoteI don’t want my name  revealed, but must say that I decided to donate the dress to the charity shop connected to the hospice after I found it lying wrapped in tissue in a box at the bottom of Eunice’s wardrobe. I wish any lady who takes this dress to have a life with her loved one for 56 years like I did. I was a lucky man to marry a lady like mine.

Some weeks after I left the parcel at the shop, I was astounded to learn that television and newspaper reporters were interested in what I did and that I’ve caused a bigger kerfuffle in a few days than either Eunice or I ever made in our entire married lives! It can only be because people are intrigued by the unsigned note I pinned to the gown when I left it to be sold.

I’ve now let the shop staff know my identity and they have promised to keep that private.

But I’ve saved the best bit to last: The shop manager decided to auction the dress via eBay rather than to sell it direct. She received a flood of enquiries from places as far apart as the USA, Australia and even Hong Kong. The result was amazing as despite the dress having a few minor flaws, the sale netted £2,910. I can’t believe it as that’s £500.00 more than we paid for our first house! It’s very difficult for me to get my head round that. Never mind. I am elated that the dress has raised so much money. Thanks so much to everyone, I'm very proud.

Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood – 28 June 2015)