Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

10th July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Stealth Stories – Yarn Bombing without the wool

Stealth Stories – Yarn Bombing without the wool

Teddies for Tragedies round the Bible

Wool and Words. Teddies for Tragedies (and a clown) gather round the Bible at Harvest Festival

Shall we knit a story?

Yesterday morning, on Streetlife, the local community social network site, one of my neighbours suggested people look out for the yarn bombing at a nearby railway station. I wasn’t sure what yarn bombing was but didn’t imagine it was anything too sinister if she’d recommended it on Streetlife. As a writer, my first thought on the word ‘yarn’ was ‘story’, not wool, but it turns out to be knitting or crochet work that is surreptitiously displayed on statues, street furniture etc – similar to graffiti but made of wool. I had heard of the practice and had even seen a half-hearted attempt on a lamp post near where I live but I didn’t know it was called ‘yarn bombing’. I looked it up and apparently, there are quite a few names, including guerrilla  knitting, urban knitting, yarn storming etc. and it may have started when knitters wanted to use up left over wool.

And then it occurred to me. Why should knitters have all the fun? If you are a writer, I bet you have words left over after you’ve written a story. I have lots of them.

So, let’s do the literary version of yarn bombing, which may or may not become known as ‘Stealth Stories’, (although it’s very unlikely this idea hasn’t been thought of before and already named). Never mind, don’t let that stop us.

All you have to do is put some of your spare words together to follow the previous bit of writing. Imagine someone has knitted their bit and then you join your spare length of wool to theirs and carry on knitting until the wool finishes. Leave enough for someone to tie their wool to. Please only use clean wool! And don’t forget to put in a link to the book from which the words are left over.

Anyway, as I’m into de-cluttering and saving space at the moment, I have plenty of words to spare. None of the following appears in any of my stories, other than the characters, so feel free to knit loosely, or tightly as you follow on.  Here goes:

Amelia looked up at the swallows flying round the bell tower.

“Will man ever fly?” she asked, glancing at Daffodil, to see if she knew.

“Don’t be so foolish!” said Edmund rudely, “Still what would you expect from a girl? Of course men won’t fly! Look at us,” he flapped his arms, ” Any idiot can see we’re not built for flight!”

Daffodil couldn’t say she knew man would fly but nevertheless, she sprang to Amelia’s aid “Well, perhaps man will build a machine…”

The sound of Edmund’s laughter rang out across the hill (NOT from ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ )

********

“What’s that terrible noise?” asked Crispin, adjusting the backpack strap, which was biting into his shoulder.

“Do you think it was a wild animal?” asked Sylvester, swinging round to check the undergrowth.

“The only wild animal round here, is Gusty Bob and thankfully, we’ve managed to put some space between him and us. He’s still at the bottom of the hill,” said Crispin, wiping the sweat out of his eyes.

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” said Sylvester, wrinkling his nose, “you know what he does when loud noises surprise him.”

Crispin looked up and watched the green cloud falter in the breeze, then gather speed up the hill.

“Run!” shouted Crispin “Or hold your nose. Or both!” (NOT from ‘The Sweet Smell of Success”)

********

If you’d like to find out more about ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, click here

If you’d like to read the short story about Crispin, Sylvester and Gusty Bob, click here

If you’d like to find out more about the Teddies for Tragedies, which are knitted with love, for children in third world countries, (see photo) click here  Check out the top two links for downloading the Teddies pattern and the Clown pattern

 

 

9th July 2014
by Dawnknox
4 Comments

I’ll Be Ruthless Tomorrow, Honest!

140708Garuda1smlWe’ve been talking for some time about de-cluttering our house and getting rid of stuff that we’ve been hoarding in the loft. We were going to be ruthless and stop storing things that haven’t seen the light of day for years.

Well, that was the plan.

Yesterday, we got the first box out and found all sorts of things we’d forgotten we owned. It was like Christmas. If we’d followed the rules, most of it would have gone to the charity shop but other than a plastic cat mask, which was cracked, we just couldn’t part with anything! Our house is fairly minimalist, with hardly anything on display but we did have the Garuda (left) out on his own, in splendid isolation.  Yesterday, however, we found two Balinese puppets and it was obvious they would look great with our Balinese Garuda. And then we came across the frog. How could we part with the frog and lily leaf? And so it went on.

So now, we’ve cleared out one box, thrown away a cat mask and suddenly have a lot more stuff  gathered round Garuda.

I’ll be more ruthless tomorrow, honest!

In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, items are returned to Daffodil many years after she took them into the Victorian times. To find out what they are, you can buy the ebook here

8th July 2014
by Dawnknox
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The Fame Game

A model poses for a photographer in the skate park on the South Bank in London.

A model poses for a photographer in the skate park on the South Bank in London.

“I want to be famous!” is the cry often heard in schools, when the subject of careers comes up.

I often wonder what the appeal of fame is.

To be in the public eye and under media scrutiny must be very wearing. But I suppose to many teenagers, the attraction is that fame equates to their peers’ acceptance, approval and acclamation. They believe it will give them worth – not recognising they are already of inestimable value.

By the time those teenagers are my age, if they look back over their life, I wonder who they will think of with gratitude.

A teacher who inspired them?

A nurse who cared for them when they were sick and vulnerable?

A friend who went the extra mile?

Their parents and family?

Or a popstar?

Hmm, well, time will tell.

Of course, not all teenagers want to be famous. Some hate to be the centre of attention and spend their teenage years keeping well out of the limelight.

At the start of ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, one such teenager who courts anonymity, is Daffodil  but  it’s hard not to stand out when you find yourself in a 19th century world with 21st century knowledge and experience.  Does she find her true value by the end of the story? Find out here

7th July 2014
by Dawnknox
1 Comment

Inside the Head of Judas

Statue heads near Canary Wharf, London

What’s he thinking?

It’s hard to imagine someone’s motives unless you know them very well – and even then, it’s easy to project your own experiences and beliefs on them and interpret their actions accordingly. So, when at the end of 2013, I was asked to write a series of monologues to tell the Easter story from the perspective of key characters, I wondered how to go about it. I chose Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas the Chief Priest, Peter, Pontius Pilate, a female bystander and Mary Magdalene to write about and then had to think how best they might explain themselves. I read the bible passages many times before I put pen to paper (or more accurately, finger to keyboard) and attempted to get inside the characters’ heads to try to discover why they’d followed a particular course of action. But the hardest head to get inside was Judas’. I spent a long time thinking about what made him tick and why he ultimately felt so guilty that he committed suicide. It occurred to me, it wasn’t so much his action in betraying Jesus that made him feel so guilty, but rather his reasons for betraying Him. After all, he took the thirty pieces of silver and in return was expected to take the soldiers to Jesus so they could arrest Him. And that seems rather odd because Jesus wasn’t in hiding. The previous week, He’d entered Jerusalem and people had lined the streets greeting Him with shouts of ‘Hosanna’ and waving palm branches. It wasn’t like Jesus had organised a spectacular procession – He’d simply turned up on a donkey, probably like many other people. So even when He might have blended into the crowds who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, He was recognised and marked out. And He’d attended a Passover supper with lots of other people. So He couldn’t have been too hard to find. I wondered if Judas reasoned that he wouldn’t really be needed to point Jesus out – the crowds would do that, simply by gathering round Him to listen. But if the Chief Priest wanted to pay Judas to point out someone who was so obvious to find – well, more fool them. So, in identifying Jesus, he hadn’t really done anything other than to do what the crowds had unwittingly already done. What was crucial, was why he went to the Chief Priest in the first place.

I wondered whether he thought Jesus had let him down. He’d expected Jesus to be a strong leader, who would rise up against the Romans and take back their land. As the one who kept the disciples’ money, he was skimming off some for himself and when Jesus started talking about his death, Judas may have panicked. With Jesus gone, the disciples would probably disband and the funds would dry up. I wonder whether part of Judas’ motive was disappointment and spite. If Jesus wouldn’t be the leader Judas wanted then perhaps He should learn what it was like to be let down. If Jesus knew He was going to die, then Judas’s livelihood was about to disappear, so he might as well make some money for pointing out a man who was obvious anyway.

I hope I went some way towards unraveling Judas and his motives. I hope I always give people the benefit of the doubt and interpret their actions by ascribing the best possible motives I can think of and I’ve done that with Judas. But on the other hand, perhaps I’ve been kind, and he was just a really nasty character, through and through.

Have you ever tried to write about a historical character and had to account for their actions? How did it go?

In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, there are several characters who really existed: Mr. Hornsby, the schoolmaster, Catherine Hornsby, his third and last wife, Dr. Colls, the rector. Very little is known about them or what they did, other than in general terms. Mr. Hornsby, for example was schoolmaster for 48 years although I don’t know exactly how he conducted his lessons. So, it was slightly easier to weave a story around these characters.

The Easter Monologues were performed in St. Nicholas Church at Easter 2014. If you’d like to support renovation work  to our building, please buy “Daffodil and the Thin Place”, which you can find here

6th July 2014
by Dawnknox
7 Comments

Who, me?

SquirrelSome time ago, my dad planted a mango stone in a pot of compost and watered it carefully until it grew into a small plant. He found the foliage rather pleasing and decided to grow one for me. In due course, up came my plant, looking, not surprisingly, like his plant. Except that as it turns out, this was most surprising indeed.

Visitors to my parents’ house often remarked on his plant, which by this time was about five feet tall and several expressed surprise when Dad told them it was a mango tree, saying it looked more like a horse chestnut.

In fact, so many people thought it was a horse chestnut tree, Dad took some leaves into the local garden centre and it was pronounced… a horse chestnut tree.

No one could explain why two separate mango stones planted at different times should have turned into horse chestnut plants, other than to suggest squirrels had planted conkers in the pots. We still can’t quite believe that’s what happened but no one can explain it otherwise.

Have you ever planted something, tended it and found you’d grown an imposter? Did you ever find out how it happened?

Daffodil uncovered an imposter in ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’. A well respected and trusted person turned out to be not as expected. If you want to know more, you can find the book here

5th July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Boys and Their Toys (And my Sooty)

Boys and Their Toys (And my Sooty)

Boy in North Sulawesi flying a kite

Boy in North Sulawesi flying a kite

I love this photo of a little boy. I watched him running up and down the road pursued by his kite for some while. It was taken in a small village, near Manado, North Sulawesi and kites were obviously the toy of the moment, as I saw several lads flying them. Such an innocent pastime.

I wonder how long it will be before he and the other kite-flyers will be glued to their mobile phones.

A few weeks ago I had lunch in a lovely, English, country pub. We were sitting in the garden and a woman entered with two boys of about 10 years old. They all sat at a table and the boys got out their tablets. It seemed so sad to see them engrossed in whatever was on their tablets, rather than rushing about, playing. Now perhaps, they were both reading good books or doing homework, so they may have been gainfully employed. Had there been only one child, I don’t think I’d have noticed but what saddened me was that instead of doing what two boys of earlier years would have done – kicked a stone to each other or even kicked each other, they completely ignored one another. Or perhaps again, I’m misreading the situation, perhaps they were on Facebook, conversing with each other.

There’s nothing wrong with mobile phones, tablets, PCs etc. I’d be the last one to give up mine but it just seems that somewhere along the way – we’ve lost our way. Although, of course, some might say we’ve found a better way!

I thought back to my childhood and remembered my Sooty bear – my favourite toy – and wondered if I was a child of today, whether in a few years time, my favourite toy would be something I’d cuddled in bed or my iPad. It seems that in my house, cuddly toys hold a special place in our hearts. Jamie said his furry cat was the toy he remembered with most fondness and James said his Mickey Mouse. My Sooty is long gone – I think it fell to bits – but the furry cat, which looked like a cat with alopecia the last time I saw it and the Mickey Mouse toy are still in the loft (I think). The very loft that Jamie and I are about to tidy out, so there may be a reunion of men and ‘boy’s toys’ very soon.

What do you remember as your favourite toy? Do you still have it?

Daffodil, as a child of the twenty-first century, had her mobile phone with her in the Victorian times. Of course, she turned it off because there was no one she could have phoned but it did come in handy at one point – and helped her prevent a murder. To find out how, click here and buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’. It’s an ebook, so why not grab a cuddly toy and curl up with your ereader!

4th July 2014
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

Books, Books and More Books

Daffodil and the Thin Place It occurred to me that I have two pages with nothing on them, Writing and Books.

I thought I’d better put something on at least one of them, so here goes, and the winner is… Books.

Today, I’m putting details of my new book, ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ on it. All proceeds will go to the St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton renovation fund, so I’m keen for it to do well. At the moment, it’s only available as an ebook but if it sells well, the publisher, Muse It Up Publishing will print it.

The story, takes place in and around St. Nicholas Church where Daffodil, a twenty-first century teenager, slips back to the Victorian times and finds herself in the school which used to be in the church. Much of the story is based on historical fact but Daffodil and the other scholars in the school are fictional characters. I don’t know if any grave-robbing took place in the churchyard either but I suppose it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

If you’d like to support St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton, or you just fancy a read, click here to buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place.’

I’ve also had stories published in the following books. The first three are published by Stonethread Publishing and can be seen here

Otherwhere and Elsewhen’ is published by Bridgehouse Publishing and can be seen here

‘Shrouded by Darkness’ contains the first story I had published, and is by Telos Publishing. You can find it here  All royalties from this book go to DebRA, a national charity working on behalf of people with the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)

Well, I think that’s enough books for one day!

 

cover art Bodysmith 401 cover art Things You Can Create Cover art The Least He Could Do Cover Art Otherwhere and Elsewhen Cover art Shrouded by Darkness

3rd July 2014
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

A Postman’s Ingenuity

The ubiquitous and iconic red post box

The ubiquitous and iconic red post box. This one is in Canary Wharf, London but you don’t need to know that, as they all look similar.

You have to take your hat off to our posties and delivery men/women.

Whether or not, you like the idea of them leaving a parcel when you’re out and can’t take delivery,  they usually try to find a method of not only hiding it from view but also keeping it dry and safe – although not necessarily clean!

My heart always sinks when I open the  front door and see a ‘You were out when I called to deliver…’ card because usually, it means a special trip to pick the parcel up myself and their depots are usually in the most out-of-the-way places  – and often, quite far-away, out-of-the-way places. But sometimes, a postie or delivery man/woman takes pity on me and decides to leave the parcel somewhere safe and dry and pops a card through the letterbox to tell me where it is. It’s like being invited on a treasure hunt. Yesterday, for example, a delivery man/woman left a card telling me a parcel was ‘down the side on the chair’, which confused me because we don’t have any chairs in the side alley. He/she had however, gone down the side of the house and reached over the wall to place it on the chair that was closest, on the patio. And that puzzled me as with the height difference between the alley and the patio, he/she must have been twelve feet tall. Other posties have kindly come right into the garden and placed parcels under the garden table and even in the shed.

So, for their ingenuity in the face of me being out, I would like to mention, (although obviously not by name, as I was out when they called):

The Postie Who Found the Dirtiest Hiding Place (For the Recipient): This postie, put the parcel under the car. Not just at the edge, so I could crouch down to retrieve it but right in the middle, so I had to lay on my stomach and slither under slightly, until I could touch it.

The Postie Who Found the Dirtiest Hiding Place (For the Parcel): This postie put the parcel inside the green waste recycling bin, on top of the grass clippings and other garden detritus. But it was very neatly placed.

The Postie Who Found the Most Cunning Hiding Place: This postie put the slim parcel under the door mat. Yes, the very door mat that I stood on in order to open the door and find the ‘You were out when I called to deliver…’ card, which told me the parcel was under the mat – that I had just stepped on. Luckily, the DVD and its case weren’t broken.

The Postie Whose Motto Is  ‘I Will Deliver This Parcel, Come What May’ : This must go to the postie who rang at the door, when my son was the only one home.  Not being dressed (my son, not the postie), he hastily threw some clothes on but by the time he was half way down the stairs, the postie had obviously decided no one was in. That, however, wasn’t going to stop him/her from delivering the parcel. My son was very surprised to see the book he’d ordered appear through the letter box, followed by the cardboard packaging. Presumably so that he could reassemble the parcel if we wanted to.

Thank you posties and delivery men/women all! You do a great job! And thank you for your ingenuity!

A book that won’t need unwrapping to fit it through the letterbox is ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, which comes in handy ebook formats. To order yours and take delivery immediately, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Remembering the Sons of Three Towns

Remembering the Sons of Three Towns

Remembrance Day at St. Nicholas Church. In Loving Memory

Remembrance Day at St. Nicholas Church. In Loving Memory

Forget Never, Oublier Jamias, Vergessen Niemals

The Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals is a project initiated by Basildon MP, Stephen Metcalfe, and coordinated by The Basildon Borough Heritage Group. Linking with Basildon’s twinning towns, Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany, BBHG plans to deliver a series of commemorative projects discussing what life was like in the three towns.
During the course of the year, BBHG aim to deliver a number of projects involving participation from residents of the three towns. One project is an end of year Christmas Concert in St. Martin’s Church which will include musical and dramatic contributions from all three towns.
You can find out more here and here

AndI mention this, because I have had the privilege of writing the ‘dramatic contributions’ for the Christmas Concert. I was asked to include information about three men, each of whom served their country during the First World War. They came from Wickford (Basildon as we know it today wasn’t in existence during WWI), from Meaux in France and from Heiligenhaus in Germany. It has been very moving, finding out about the three men: George Burnett, Louis Vallin and Albert Kiekert. Discovering details about their families, interests and service to their country, has been an emotional journey for me.

Since there will be representatives from Germany and France at the concert, I thought it important that I highlight the common suffering and heroism rather than any differences. Pointing fingers and apportioning blame were obviously things I wanted to avoid, so instead, I focused on the bravery – not only of the three men – but of all the men who fought. And I certainly found plenty of evidence of that. Men who literally put themselves in the line of fire in order to rescue comrades.

I’ve never wanted to know more than the main details about the First World War, or indeed, the Second. I find it too upsetting and depressing. But having to carry out research to write this script, I found plenty of material which heartened and uplifted me. Yes, there was a great deal of mindless cruelty but there were also tremendous acts of courage and fortitude, sacrifice and humanity.

But wouldn’t it be nice to know that it didn’t take a cataclysmic event like a world war to bring out those qualities?

 

The photo was taken at St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton. If you would like to support renovation work on the church please buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, details of which you can find here

1st July 2014
by Dawnknox
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Would You Bring Back Bananarama?

Daffodil and the Thin Place 300dpiIf you had the opportunity to go back in time, how far would you go? And if you could bring back a musician or group of musicians, who would you bring? Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook that he’d bring back Bananarama and it made me wonder how far I’d go back and who I’d bring. Dean Martin? Mozart? Marc Bolan? One thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t be Bananarama!

I think it would have to be the Beatles. Yes, I know Paul and Ringo don’t need bringing back at the moment (thankfully) but the Beatles I’d bring would be the young lads who had ‘Beatle haircuts’ and ‘Beatle suits’. I wasn’t so keen on the hairy, brightly dressed Sgt. Pepper’s Beatles. But when I was young, the early Beatles with their striking looks and sound were electrifying. Sadly, I never got to see them live.

In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, the heroine, Daffodil, goes to the Victorian times but she doesn’t get the opportunity to bring anyone or anything back. However, she does leave some items. She gives Amelia her watch, a torch and the key-shaped talisman the Grey Monk gave her. Does she get them back? You can find out here