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An extract from a friend’s post.
“Everyone goes through hard times at some point. Life isn’t easy. Just something to think about. Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile to see how much pain they may be in…”
The last sentence reminds me of a metaphor contained in a verse from The Beatles’ song, Eleanor Rigby:
“Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?”
And from another of their songs:
“Although I act and laugh like a clown,
Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown.”
Crushed is the third novel by Denise Greenwood following the engaging and very satisfying Temptation and Star Keeper novels. Her exceptionally descriptive writing style leaves an enduring impression upon the mind.
I just had to copy this face from the clip I posted on my Facebook page this morning. Its captivating character cries out for me to paint it and paint it I will.
He was a familiar face in the village during my childhood. I’ve forgotten his name but not the aromatic scent of his pipe tobacco whenever I was in close proximity to him. I never saw him without his cap either. Now I’m never seen without mine. His habit must have rubbed off on my sub-consciousness.
Waves in the Desert laps and moistens the fertile shore of Mia’s idealistic aim of ridding the world of famine beginning with the African Continent. The vehicle for this noble aim is Sustainable Futures (SuFu) founded principally by Mia.
K. A. Beadle cleverly employs juxtaposition contrasting the fortunes and misfortune of Mia in her altruistic quest. A duality of preparation and survival; of idealism and reality; present and past. The book opens up in the present before going back to where it all started. It then takes on a now and then pattern that concludes very neatly at the end of the Epilogue.
The author writes with authority of her subject taking the reader through each stage of the organisation’s set-up both educationally and entertainingly.
Threading their way through the stage by stage construction of SuFu are the typical relationship conflicts and rites of passage young people experience, which makes this is a young people’s book. It is written very much in tune with contemporary trends in music, performers, language and attitudes and so on.
Characters are introduced seamlessly as the novel progresses. Veronica is Mia’s principal fellow traveler and confidante accompanied by the ever present and reliable camera-man Kevin and a host of other characters too numerous to mention each adding texture to the novel’s progression.
Juxtaposed alongside this progression is the account of Mia’s survival a few years hence. The author keeps the tension taut, which had me at times tempted to rush reading the few years earlier sections in order to return to her struggle for survival.
All in all Waves in the Desert was a fascinating, not rushed, authentic insight to the world of humanitarian work in African – Somalia and Ethiopia – from SuFu’s inception, the funding of such a large scale project (culminating in a Band Aid type Benefit Concert) and the mental, cultural and physical training Mia, Veronica and the volunteers had to commit themselves to.
Such was the authenticity with which the book was written I felt at times I was reading a memoir. Waves in the Desert is not just a good read but a testimony to the human spirit. An account of altruistic humanness gives birth to humanitarianism. It is also, I hasten to add, an account of where idealism comes face to face with reality. If there was such a category as ‘faction’ Waves in the Desert would be a natural candidate.
Sean and his daughter Marie had been overwhelmed by their long, leisurely drive through the scenic and mountainous regions of Torridon and Assynt. ‘I didn’t realise Durness was near the tip of the north-west,’ Sean said. ‘Yes, the opposite end of John O’Groats,’ Marie replied, her finger tracing the route in the atlas. ‘Well, being so near we just had to keep going, eh?’ Sean yawned, his eyes heavy with all the driving. They were returning to their Ullapool hotel after planning only to drive a circular route via Lochinver and Drumbeg. ‘What road do we take next,’ Sean asked. Marie checked the atlas. ‘The same road as we came keeping in mind we don’t go back through Drumbeg but keep going on this road till we come to the A 835 on the right, which takes us to Ullapool. According to where we are now we’re nearly at Scourie.’ ‘Good,’ Sean replied. They continued to chat about the breathtaking landscape on both sides of the road. ‘Breathtaking isn’t it? Ah, this looks like the road sign ahead,’ Sean announced. ‘Ullapool 18 miles. Not long now,’ he added as he slowed to turn. Tired as Marie looked Sean also noticed a look of curiosity. ‘What’s up?’ he asked. ‘According to the atlas we should’ve driven through Scourie then Unapool well before we come anywhere near the A 835. That road sign did not have a road number,’ she replied. ‘So what road’s this then?’ Sean asked. Marie studied the atlas closely. ‘Sorry dad but I can’t see any road to Ullapool before Scourie or Unapool on this page.’ Sean pulled to the side. ‘Let my try. We’re both tired. Maybe a fresh pair of tired eyes will spot it,’ he joked. After a few moments scanning the atlas he handed the atlas back. ‘Hmm, my eyes cannot spot it either.’ He looked ahead and at the surroundings. ‘The atlas might be out of date,’ he suggested. Marie checked ‘2004, not that out of date. The road looks more out of date compared to the other roads. There’s at least another sixty miles to Ullapool from here. I can’t see this narrow road lopping off nearly thirty miles before we’ve even passed through Scourie,’ she reasoned. . ‘Well, the sign’s clearly marked and we’re on the road so we’ll keep going,’ Sean decided. They set off and settled once again to chatting about the landscape. ‘That’s funny, the mountains we were in awe off before we turned have suddenly vanished,’ Sean observed. ‘I’ve noticed that as well,’ Marie replied. ‘We should actually be driving through them according to the map.’ They spotted another road sign ahead. ‘Hmm, Ullapool 18 miles.’ They were puzzled. ‘Maybe our tired eyes misread the first sign after all,’ Marie suggested. ‘Have they misread the sudden change in surroundings as well?’ Sean asked as they continued along the narrow road through what was fast becoming a barren, flat landscape with no horizon ahead. After a while another sign came into view. ‘Ullapool 18 miles,’ Sean stopped the car, stepped out and walked over to the grass verge and gazed around at the landscape. Marie joined him. It was flat and tree-less. There was no sign of any mountains or hills nearby or in the distance. Marie noticed something else. ‘Listen, the silence. And look, there’s no sign of wildlife; no birds in the sky nor sheep in the fields. Nothing.’ They both noticed too that the ground beneath their feet was soggy. ‘At least the grass is watered,’ Sean mused. They also realised that no vehicle had passed them nor had come towards them as they drove. Sean looked back along the road they’d traveled and was troubled to see the road trail off into a distance without texture or horizon behind them. They knew that between Scourie and Durness there was a vast valley that was not exactly without life and contours. Sean suppressed his anxiety for the sake of Marie. ‘Come on, back in, I’m going to put my foot down and get us back to Ullapool and to bed as fast as these heavy eyes will let me and before darkness falls.’ They set off at speed along the road that narrowed to one lane both trying to stay calm Sean noticing as he drove that there were no bends or dips in the road either. ‘Hmm, no passing places either. Ah, another road sign ahead. Maybe it will be the ri…ssssh…18 miles again.’ In quiet frustration he put the foot down. Marie closed her eyes, the atlas resting on her lap.
A mist slowly descended as they sped past successive signs until their car was totally enveloped. Darkness fell, completing the cover. Silence was the only sound that remained.
Early morning. The sun is up. A police car is parked by the side of the road. A policeman stands by the open door. He is on his radio speaking while looking at an object down in the dip.
‘PC Robertson to HQ, over.’
‘Go ahead PC Robertson, over.’
‘I’ve come across a black Fiat 500L with a white roof, registration number WUV14 NUK partly submerged in the bog just off the A894 at Lexford Bridge, over.’
‘Any casualties? Over.’
‘Yes, male aged between 55 – 60 and a female aged between 35 – 40. Both deceased, over.’
‘Any idea how long? Over.’
‘At a guess I’d say since sometime last night, over.’
‘Okay, do the necessary traffic control, Assistance is on the way, over.’
‘There’s just one thing, over.’
‘What’s that, PC Robertson? Over.’
‘It’s how the car has come off the road. I expected to see skid marks but judging by the position of the tyre treads on the grass verge it looks as if the driver deliberately turned off the road into the bog, over.’
‘Suspected suicide? Over.’
‘The tyre treads are in a curved position as they would be when turning on to another road, over.’
‘Yes, and there’s something else, over.’
‘What’s that? Over.’
‘It’s what’s on the female’s person that also makes it hard to conclude that it was suicide, over.’
‘Which is? Over.’
‘She has an open atlas on her knee.’