Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I first published this post, in June 2015, on a blog called Ramblings from a Writers Mind where I ‘write about writing for writers’.

The subject, one of memory and nostalgia is, I feel, equally important to the readers among us as it is to those who write. It is on that premise I now re-publish this post here, on Electric’s Eclectic’s blog.

Enjoy.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who may not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters as they wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to board.

In the waiting room, a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk, a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around, a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

This is how I remember railway stations. Or at least this is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not quite old enough to had such an experience. I was not born into that era. My time came a little later. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend some truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as they rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third-class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say they were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways, I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of travelling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with the few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world which shall captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance, would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know it is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’, when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream, accessible to only the very wealthy. Most towns and cities, other than one’s own home town, were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many of us have not said at least one goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is fact stations are a place many hold dear because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions, countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within ourselves a simple wistful yearning for a time and place we have never been. If I can re-create that place in your mind, stimulate your emotions, have you feel the air, taste the scents of my imaginings as you read my stories then know I have done a good job.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope these few randomly scribbled words give you food for thought or simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.


 To browse my books please feel free to visit my website, https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

If you would like to read a shorter book, say as an introduction to my writings, then check out my novelettes and ‘Pocketbooks’ on @open24, the Amazon store for readers by Electric Eclectic.

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eBooks or Paperbacks… or is there another option?

Ebook vs Print Books

How often do you get asked, or hear the argument asking which is better… eBooks or Paperbacks?

To me, both have their benefits and downsides.

The main thing against eBooks is, you need a device and you need that device to have The e-Book Accused of Causing the Death of the Paperback?power. An uncharged Kindle, iPhone or Tablet is nothing but a piece of useless junk.

Even worse, is when it cuts out halfway through a chapter and your miles away from a charger, like on the beach or halfway up a mountain.

 

Of course, good things for eReaders of any description is the number of books you can store on them and the lack of space they take up. (Not that you’ll read even a small percentage of the books you have stored, while on holiday… or ever.)

The good things in favour of paperbacks are, you can read them anywhere, power or no power, charging points or not. You can flick through the pages of a physical book whilst in the bathtub without the fear of totally ruining it if it gets wet.

table-leg-and-bookAlso, I have never (yet) seen an electronic device used to prop up the wobbly leg of a café table, I have seen this done with a paperback book.

If you drop a paperback, no harm done, just pick it up and continue reading, no broken screens, no expensive repair bills.

Oh, and when did anyone snatch a paperback out of your hands and make off with it? Never is my guess.

There is also the wonderful feeling of holding a ‘real’ book, sharing it and lending it to your friend, or having it displayed on a bookshelf in your lounge. You cannot do that with eBooks.

Paperbacks do have a downside.

They are quite large in comparison to an Android phone or a Nook, so take up a lot more room, which is fine at home but can take a good proportion of luggage space when going on vacation.

And so, the discussion goes on. You may prefer one format over the other, or you may take advantage of the benefits of each, as and when you want.

However, what if there was a middle ground?

What if… you could read a paperback the size of an iPhone?

Think of how many of those you could slip into your suitcase or rucksack, a handbag, or even your pockets.

You could read them anywhere, no batteries to worry about, no signal needed, no damage if dropped and no fear of anyone stealing them. You could even leave it unguarded on your beach towel when you went swimming, knowing it will still be there when you return.

How amazing would that be?

The thing is, this is not an idle thought, a sci-fi fantasy, or simply a futuristic dream. These books actually exist NOW.

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Electric Eclectic has a growing range of ‘POCKETBOOKS’, smaller paperbacks whose dimensions are just 6×4″, which makes them ideal for travellers and commuters. These small-format books easily slip into a case, rucksack, handbag or, as the name suggests, a pocket, even the back pocket of your denim jeans.

Each pocketbook is a complete book, an entire Electric Eclectic novella or novelette. Most have an eBook option if you really prefer the electronic version.

Electric Eclectic is increasing the number of pocketbooks in their library, so keep checking in for new releases.

Here are some of the currently available Pocketbook titles.

Click on any cover image to read more on Amazon.

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The ELECTRIC ECLECTIC NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE 2020… is now open

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Are you an aspiring writer or an indie author looking for a publishing contract? If so, the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is ‘right up your street’.

Simply write a 20K to 30K word story, in any genre and about anything you want, and enter the Novella Fiction Prize.

Entry is just £10.00 GBP, (via official entry form) and the winning authors will have their manuscripts published as Novellas.

The top prize is a full paperback publishing package.  Second and third places having their work published as eBooks.

Also associated prizes; professional cover designs, marketing packages and author assist support, media interviews and more.

The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is an international literary competition for emerging writers and indie authors.

Submissions are encouraged from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject.

The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing.

See; ‘How to enter the NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE’

 

Electric Press magazine: February edition, now out.

The Electric Press Literary Insights magazine: February 2020 edition is now available online. Simply follow this link. 

https://issuu.com/electricpress/docs/epfebruary20

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One Winter Morning.

Flash fiction from Electric Eclectic author, C.A. Keith

chocolate-donut-above-round-paper-plate-and-plastic-spoon-913816

The doughnuts sizzled as Kate lowered them into the fryer. This was her favourite time of the day. The quiet time before the door sprung open and those two angelic faces stared in at her.

She’d arose long before the sun peeked its head over the horizon. Cheery happy kids would bolt downstairs as soon as they smelled frying and heard the sizzling and crackling sound as Kate place the gooey dough balls into the fryer.

Today she would attempt Boston Cream with a chocolate topping. She spoilt her kids. They got tasty fresh doughnuts in their lunchboxes and another for breakfast before they made their way to school.

It wasn’t the healthiest of meals but money was tight and doughnuts were very filling. Kate also packed their lunch boxes with fresh veg and fruits to offset the sugary fattening dessert. A sort of culinary Ying and Yang. It might not work, but it made her feel a better parent.

The girls’ daddy left home a couple of years ago. It seemed he found more thrills with his young secretary than he did with his family. They flew away to get married on some sandy beach in the south. Now, with his two new kids, he didn’t attempt to see the angelic faces he left behind.

Kate picked up the thick syringe and squeezed the cream into the cooled doughnuts. Then she piped thick gobs of chocolate across the top of each one.

Two sweet faces stood at the counter. She hadn’t noticed them coming into the kitchen, their chins resting on the hard countertop, eyes wide, and smiling from ear to ear.

“Love you Mama,”  the youngest piped up.

Kate went to them and drew them close. She breathed in the love she held for her darling girls.

“Love you forever and ever sweet peas, never forget that.”

The door burst open and smashed against the counter.

Bang, bang, bang.

They never had a chance to run or hide. Their dead bodies simply slumped to the floor like a pack of rag dolls.

It was done. 

The masked man scurried back through the doorway, disappearing into the dullness of the early winter’s morning.


Find C A Keith’s books on Amazon, HERE

 

FREE books…

Did you know…

We have three Electric Eclectic anthologies you can read FREE of charge.

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We published this trio of ebooks to give you an opportunity to read some of our authors works, so you can get to know their writing style and narrative voice, before committing to buy their books.

We think that’s pretty fair.

The books are, Moth Balls which has five stories, Butterfly Bats with six, and Mayfly Recitals, with a massive twelve free reads.

You can find these books in the UK at Amazon UK 

In the USA, and other countries serviced by Amazon.com

The following are direct links for downloading, but these only work with Amazon UK. Use the links above for any other country

Moth Balls.                 Mayfly Recitals,               Butterfly Bats,  

Whichever links you use, you will get ebooks packed with various genres and styles to enjoy and all for FREE.

We are so good to you!

Please leave a review on Amazon for us and to help others to choose the books they would really like to read.

Thank You.

You can find ALL our Electric Eclectic books, ebooks, Paperbacks and Pocketbooks,  right HERE, wherever you are in the world.

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Rescue Me

This is a great true tale from Rick Stepp-Bolling, one of our fantastic Electric Eclectic authors.

This post proves we writers do have other areas of our lives, besides squirrelling ourselves away with a keyboard and acting like unsociable hermits.

This story is full of humour, humility and humanity

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Rescue Me

I don’t believe anyone ever wished for a duller life. Most of us hope life will dazzle us or at least exceed our expectations, not slow to a crawl in a mundane kind of ennui.

Then there’s me.

As a kid growing up in rural neighborhoods, our family adopted a variety of pets including dogs, cats, birds, and the occasional lizard. Perhaps our most exotic animal was Baron, our Great Dane, who I would ride like a small horse when I was three; and the day our resident cat had kittens in our garage, we thrilled at the sight of a mother giving birth to her young.

None of that prepared me for married life, however.

My wife’s childhood was filled with a similar assortment of pets, although beyond the dogs and cats her family’s animals also included monkeys, coatimundis, skunks, snakes, alligators and, I’m sure if they hadn’t become extinct, a unicorn or two.

So, it came as no surprise when I first started dating my wife-to-be, she lived in a trailer with her black lab, Rose and a chicken named Martha who slept on the back of her bed. Outside, her Appaloosa, Chelsea, roamed the small enclosed backyard.

This was just the beginning.

As I write these words today, our house and backyard are home to five dogs, two cats, three horses, two desert tortoises, two chickens, three fish, two recovering India Star turtles, one gecko, one bearded dragon, one blue tree monitor, over forty snakes, largely green tree and ball pythons, a rescue pig, and a mother-in-law.

This story is about Penny, the rescue pig, or to be more exact, the rescue Russian Boar.

Penny, short for Penelope, arrived at our doorstep early in February of 2010. Scott, a friend of ours from karate classes, was hunting wild boars in an area north of L.A. when he happened upon a dead sow, recently killed by a mountain lion.

Glancing around, he noticed a small tail wiggling from a rabbit hole. Upon closer inspection, the tail belonged to a day-old piglet who managed to save her life, much like Alice, down the rabbit hole.

After digging her out, Scott freed the piglet and told her to be on her way. Pigs being notoriously stubborn, flatly refused and followed Scott back to his truck. The sight of a tiny piglet following lamb-like the gun-toting hunter back to a truck usually reserved for carcasses held a certain ironic flare.

However, Scott had the last laugh.

Who better to care for a day-old piglet than the modern-day Noah family of Rick and Francie?

Upon Penny’s arrival, Francie broke out the baby bottle and proceeded to hand feed the piglet. After a few weeks, Penny fed herself but slept on the couch at night with my wife.

Growing up in a household already dominated by dogs, it wasn’t long before Penny thought of herself as canine rather than porcine; she regularly romped around the backyard, used the dog door, and ate and slept with the other dogs. Penny, like the proverbial lamb, followed Francie to school, where she played with the children and became the center of reading and writing activities.

The trouble with pigs, of course, is they rarely stay their cute and cuddly size for long. Soon Penny had grown too big for sleeping on the couch, traipsing through the house and even using the dog door. Our dogs, and particularly our wolf hybrid, began to see Penny as something other than another playmate. She smelled differently, she barked strangely, and she ate constantly.

Probably the last straw, as far as I was concerned, occurred just after Memorial Day.

Like most holidays, stores around the country in a time-honoured tradition held huge liquor sales. As I have always had a weakness for sales, I thought it was time to stock up on my Bud Lite supply. I purchased an eighteen pack and stored it upstairs. Normally, the beer would have made it directly to the refrigerator, but the dogs begged us to take them for a walk and they also demanded that Penny be left at home this time.

Penny frequently walked with us and startled more than a few people and horses. A typical response went something like this, “Oh what a cute little PIG!!!”

Penny also became more and more distracted on her walks as she spent longer breaks rooting through grass lawns and wallowing in mud puddles. So it was we left Penny home by herself that day.

When we returned, the house smelled slightly pungent, although I must say not totally unpleasant. The closer I came to my bedroom upstairs, the stronger the aroma became. By mistake, the bedroom door had been left open, and there on the rug lay the empty remains of eighteen Bud Lite cans. Penny had torn open the box, punctured each can and guzzled the contents. Now she lay on the couch, snoring like a sotted pig.

My wife was much more philosophical about the event. “At least now you’ll have someone to drink with,” she said.

While this may have been the last straw for me, for Francie, Penny was still welcome to roam the living room, kitchen and downstairs area slipping on the Pergo floors like a girl trying out high heels for the first time.

Only after Penny destroyed much of the kitchen in search of tasty morsels and, cast a hungry eye on the snake habitats, did Francie relent and banish Penny to an outside enclosure.

Another Penny story was recently added to our growing list of “she did what?”

As I was leaving our house early one Wednesday, I noticed five police vans and several medical units exiting the freeway. I thought a drug raid may well be in progress.

When I returned home from golf, I told Francie about the sighting. She said, “Funny you should say that,” and I knew a story was unfolding.

Francie fed the dogs and let Penny roam the backyard. It was still dark out when she heard someone scraping the gate open. She rushed outside thinking Penny had pushed the gate open and was on her way to visit our neighbors.

Instead, she ran into two SWAT team policemen clothed in bulletproof vests and carrying rifles as they walked into our backyard. The first thing she thought to do was yell, “Pig!” I’m not sure that phrase was still a demeaning one for police officers, but the first policeman was almost next to Penny when she turned and saw the man coming at her.

She gave him her best snort and charged.

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NORTHERN PIKE

The two policemen made a hasty retreat out the gate as my wife assured them she would put Penny away. Later she learned they were a backup team in case our neighbor, who was receiving an arrest warrant, decided to jump the wall and make a run for it.

He said he dealt with dogs, goats, and horses, but never a 600-pound pig before. “You sure won’t get many people trying to break into your house,” he added.

Today, Penny sleeps well, eats well, and plays hard. She wallows in her specially designed mud hole, waits impatiently for the apple tree to bear fruit, and loves to have her belly rubbed.

After a few bites from her teething stage, our friends watch Penny from afar, and only Francie and I and a few dogs feel comfortable feeding and playing with our little sumo.

Whatever the future holds for Penny, we know she has enriched our lives with her will to live, her fierce loyalty, and her undying love.

Who could ask for a better teacher of life?


 You can check out Electric Eclectic books HERE

and find out more about Rick, HERE

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