Thursday, 13 December 2012

Otherwhere and Elsewhen

Otherwhere and Elsewhen
Otherwhere and Elsewhen cover

Two of my new short stories have been published by Bridge House. The first is called The Hollow Statue. It is set in a dark future where the Government keeps people firmly under their control. It is a Government who can read minds – free thought is illegal and swiftly punished. The protagonist of the story is a teacher who asks one too many questions. The hollow statue of the title is a technologically advanced statue which has been set up outside an old town hall. Everybody has to assemble before these statues (one in each town) and listen to propaganda. The hero is a rebel, but can he really change anything in the face of such power?
The second story is titled Stranded in Eternity. It began life over ten years ago at a festival when I attended a creative writing workshop. Each of us were given a first line to use as the introduction of a story. Someone gave me this line: “He revived with a smile on his face.” So from there, after many edits the story grew and eventually became a tale about a man who crashes his car on the way home from church and wakes up in heaven. He has to adjust to his new surroundings and encounters a number of surprises. It is my attempt at imagining what heaven could look like. The story contains elements of beauty which I would like to characterize my future writing. It also explores some of the bigger questions in life and isn’t a narrative with a moral message. It is simply a story.
Otherwhere and Elsewhen is available from Amazon through the following link:
The book costs £3.85p as an eBook.
There are 11 other sci-fi short stories in this anthology and I would feel privileged if you decided to read it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

All the kingdoms of the world for Christmas



I thought that while I have a little spare time before the Xmas celebrations I should write a Christmas blog entry. It's just speculation....

What was the voice of Christ like? How did Jesus tell his stories and parables? Was he expressive when he talked? Did his eyes sparkle?

How did Jesus tell the story of his encounter with the devil in the wilderness? The source of this gospel account, if it is to be believed, could only really have come from one person.  Jesus must have sat his disciples down and told them what happened when he went walkabout in the wilderness.

How do you approach a subject like that?
“You have no idea what happened to me when I was in the wilderness...”
“What happened, Lord?”
“I encountered the devil himself...”
And did Jesus smile?

Or maybe, sitting around a fire one night Jesus waited for his disciples to ask him. That would, perhaps be more in character. A little more enigmatic.

“What happened, Lord, when you were in the wilderness?”
“I tell you the truth – my answer will make your ears tingle...”

Then, as Jesus told the story about how he had been tempted by the devil, how did the disciples react? How would anyone react to something like that? As he told them that the devil had offered him all the kingdoms of the world if he agreed to certain terms.

Perhaps the disciples were afraid of some horrific twist. Were they scared that Jesus had sold out? That he had made some kind of pact with their enemy?

But the source of the account must have come from Christ himself, if it is all true. Imagine you were listening to him telling that story. A story about an encounter with the devil and visions of the world and the way Jesus had resisted the devil. There must have been sighs of relief as he told of how he had refused to give in to corruption.

How would you react to a story like that told by a man like Jesus? Would you have questioned further? Would you have believed it? Would you question if evil personified exists – or if it is some kind of psychological projection from within? Or believed it was some kind of allegory? Or hallucination?

Perhaps we have no opportunity to know what the voice of Jesus was like or how he told his parables and stories. But today, we do have a choice whether to believe those accounts or not.

And if Christ looked straight at you as he finished his account, would his eyes sparkle brighter than all the kingdoms of the world?


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Medusa Kind

I've hastily written a short story for the blog for Halloween this year. As with all my stories it doesn't carry any particular meaning or moral message. I hope you like it....



There are all kinds of darknesses. The fear the four privileged Oxford students felt that Halloween night was real enough. They sat together in a rowing boat surrounded by whispers, winds and shadows.

They were dressed in Halloween costumes and masks fresh from a party. And the boat and the lake had seemed like a good idea after some drinks, despite the cold.

Jason, the unofficial leader of the group, rowed them across the lake. The darkness of the waters seemed to saturate their souls like a chill, like the cold itself. The lake was surrounded by woods, and was much further out than their main university grounds.

And the curtain between worlds was as secure as a shroud (so they felt). The moon, waning, cast her comforting spell of light. It was not the only spell to be cast that night.

The whole atmosphere shifted, like the sudden singing of a lament. Like a turning down of the lights. Helen and Simon, the other two students held each other close.

Zoe, Jason’s girlfriend, screamed suddenly. Across the surface of the lake they all watched as a figure approach them, walking on the water.

"It's a ghost," said Helen, grabbing Simon’s hand.
"There are no ghosts!" replied Jason. Jason didn’t believe in anything supernatural. He believed in logic, reason, Dawkins and hedonism.

But it was a ghost. Of a kind.

Its eyes blazed red, like an old digital clock (something so ancient that it was before even the internet).
For now its head was lowered. But as it approached, the students could see its hair moving like a black nest of snakes.
And when it reached them, the four students wondered how providence, once so kind, could allow what was happening to them to take place.

The ghost spoke to them in a siren-call, like the wild song of a high wind.
"You realize that tonight is Halloween?"
"Of course," replied Jason, turning away instinctively to avoid the red eyes.
"And by taking part in Halloween you are in fact worshiping evil."
Jason spoke up:”There is no devil. And there is no God. They are myths.”
The figure simply stood there, on the dark waters.
Jason continued: “Oh come on, we aren't worshiping evil, we’re just trying to have a laugh."
"A laugh?" whispered the ghost, "Isn't there enough evil in the world already? You are worshiping death and the devil along with the rest of your people. As a result you must be punished for not worshiping the true God. As a result the whole country will be judged, starting with you."

 “So you're a Gorgon type ghost, right?” asked Simon, “And you turn people into stone?”
“Medusa's tribe did that,” said the ghost. “Aren't her offspring allowed to use their imaginations a little? Must it always be stone? Each of us can turn creatures into a different substance. Some can turn them into ruby, emerald or sapphire. Some can turn them into metals, copper, gold and silver. One of us is known to change people into glass.”

All of a sudden the ghost sounded very sad and lonely. It had existed long before Christianity. Wind swept around its snake hair.
“Some are destined to make the hearts of their victims grow so very cold. And this is the source of the evil-eye of folklore.”

Jason was secretly attempting to row away from the whole situation, but the boat was suddenly immovable, as if sin-chains anchored it to the lake floor. Meanwhile Zoe was fumbling for her iphone. She had a plan – if she could select the camera function and reverse the camera then the gorgon-ghost would see its own reflection and be destroyed.

"Wait a minute!" shouted Helen. "At Christmas we meet up and go to the midnight cathedral service and sing hymns! And we do it consciously. So we do worship God. At Halloween we try to have fun but we don't consciously try to worship the devil!"
The ghost smirked. "I'm afraid that doesn't change the way you are," it said.
Zoe found her iphone, pressed the camera app and reversed the view. Then she raised her mobile high. Triumphantly. But suddenly, horribly, the boat shook with a treacherous gust of wind and the iphone fell from Zoe’s hand into the water. They all watched as its dim light was extinguished in the depths like hope dying.
And the ancient ghost lifted its head.

So the land’s judgment began there. The ghost caught the eyes of each student. And each of them felt their blood freeze as their hearts turned as cold as ice and snow. Then, like snowflakes their bodies simply blew away in the pummel of the October wind.

And a further darkness filled the country, like the opening of a Pandora's Box. As if a multitude of furies had been released from storehouses, like snowflakes, each unique. Like an army of cruel ironies, intimate and individual in their messages of death. So that the hearts of the people grew colder.

And the ancient ghost stood in the middle of the darkness and laughed a wild siren-song, knowing that All Saints Day with her gentle mercies would never come.

There are all kinds of darknesses.









Thursday, 2 August 2012

Christopher Lee Power's story


Some people are born with all the lucky breaks. For example, take the children of famous actors who want to become actors themselves. But what if you want to become an actor and all you have is raw talent? What if, on top of that you are born into a poor family and have a speech impediment?

Actor Christopher Lee Power knows adversity. Life hasn't been easy and he has had to work hard. He has a past which includes being the victim of sexual abuse, an involvement with drugs, gang life and crime. In the late 70’s and early 80’s he made what he says were some foolish choices. Imprisoned for robbery he paid for his mistakes by serving a prison term.

“I was oblivious to the dangers of drugs, excessive drinking and gambling and the consequences of that lifestyle. It was a vicious circle for any young teenager. Stealing to feed the addictions became the path that I took. I was frustrated and angry, looking for a way out, looking for attention and acceptance. Turning to teenage gangs and stealing was not the answer but that's the choice I made and I paid the price.”

And it was in prison that his life began to change. With nowhere to turn he prayed to God and asked God to help him. Something changed for Christopher from that time because when he left prison he not only joined a church, but also went into education again and learnt about life, about society, art and drama. He spent years in training to become an actor in professional acting schools including RADA. Since then he has appeared in Coronation Street, played war poet Wilfred Owen, done Shakespeare and has even had a book of his life published called 'Breaking Free'.






Now he wants to help those who are caught up in crime and drugs.

“I want to inspire other young people that they too could break free from the lifestyle I am familiar with. And to say that anyone, no matter what background they come from can follow their dreams. My dream is to see a film of my book.”

You could say he is making a stand. But it's a dream that needs support. It's a dream which has a whole new set of adversities. Christopher needs funding and all kinds of help for his project. It's a project which would make a difference in society, giving people the hope they need to change their lives for the better. Helping others to fulfill their own dreams. And it's a dream which could snowball into something amazing.

Anyone who can help Christopher in any way to make Breaking Free, please contact him at cpower@talktalk.net.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Light sources - two narratives

The Orrery (1765) Joseph Wright

The Adoration of the Shepherds (1646) Rembrandt

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

On Fire






By now the Olympic torch is so much of a celebrity that it has its own agent and gives out regular press releases: 'I shall be visiting Staffordshire. Watch me being carried along by the lesser celebrities The Wanted.'

You really have to suffer to see any kind of celebrity. By the fourth rain downpour I was soaked through.

Just as long as no-one got in the way for the photos....

Out of the way! (I think I know what the 'W' stands for on the back of the cameraman's top).


Of course, I was able to grab a quick interview as the celebrities passed by. Here is my exclusive:

"So, Olympic flame. How does it feel to be carried by The Wanted?"
"Άφησέ με ήσυχο."
"Excuse me?"
"I travel all the way from Greece and you demand I speak English? Lucky for fools like you, I'm multi-lingual."
"What will go through your mind when you reach the Olympic stadium?"
"Who the Hades are you? I'm on fire. I will be thinking of setting the world alight."
"What if you go out?"
"Nothing can stop me. Not even the end of the world."
"Have you got any post-Olympic plans?"
"I have a little condominium on a Greek island where I plan to spend my golden years."
"In this economy how can you justify that kind of luxury. Are you a white elephant?"
"Do I look like an elephant? I will be giving hope to millions. I will be setting a burning desire in the hearts of souls throughout nations. I will stir up the best instincts in men, women and children."
"What would you say to people who say the past Olympics were much better?"
"I would say that the children of today will say the same thing."
"If the world doesn't end?"
"No-one's talking about the end of the world, shut up fool, I have an important job to do. I'm on fire."
"One last question. How do you get up from an all time low?"


But before I knew it both The Wanted and the Olympic torch had passed by.


Celebrities

Max from The Wanted








Monday, 11 June 2012

Stranded in Eternity


Stranded in Eternity - a new short story by Nick White coming soon.

The Hollow Statue



The Hollow Statue - a new short story by Nick White coming soon.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

UK Christian journalist



There are not many privileges to being a Christian journalist as opposed to any other kind of journalist. Having a faith doesn't give a reporter any advantages in career progression (in fact many people think it is the other way round - that having a faith is a significant obstacle to career progression). In the end you just have to get on with it.

I often think that the most privileged people within journalism are those who progress in their careers through an accident of birth. It's amazing how many of the children of famous journalists go on to become famous journalists themselves. They are literally born for the job.

Following the hacking scandal the country needs journalists who have integrity. Christian journalists may be a little more conscientious, but everyone is vulnerable to corruption. One of the 'benefits' of being a Christian journalist (as opposed to any other kind) is that you have an understanding of what it is like to be part of a minority. So it helps you to understand other minorities.

It is an interest in the truth which guides many people in media. And believers are, or at least should be, interested in the truth. And there is also the hope that having a faith helps you to focus on positive aspects of a story which others may miss.

Journalism as a profession is so self-obsessed that I often despair and feel embarrassed to admit that I'm a qualified journalist. There is little humility in the profession. Journalists often infer that it is the hardest job in the world.

As far as I'm concerned a child could do it.

Or even a Christian.



Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Fearful Tale of Malcolm Hypothetical

Photo by Kolya Miller


I've probably spent more time in hospitals than most people. I'm not saying it's a competition, but if it was then I would win.

Whenever I go to a hospital or a doctors surgery I wonder why Christians are encouraged to share their faith in these environments. I would have thought it was the worst place to evangelize.

For example, what is the point of sitting next to a man who is putting on the usual brave face and trying to share the gospel with him? Let's call this hypothetical man 'Malcolm'.

The possibilities to play on Malcolm's fears are limitless:

"Do you believe in an afterlife?"


That's a nice ice breaker.

"If you were to die today do you know where you would go?"


Who said death is taboo? And the inference that there is more than one place for Malcolm to go when he dies is sure to comfort him.

And what if an eager evangelist got cut off mid-evangelism?

"As I was saying Malcolm, we are all sinners from birth ever since the fall and not one of us can work our way into heaven. There is nothing we can do to be saved. We are all destined for hell and the wages of sin is death..."


'Can Malcolm Hypothetical come through for his tests now please?'


And Malcolm gets up, his legs shaking a little. Then he walks sadly along a corridor which has walls saturated in years of peoples fears.

I will be back in a doctors waiting room next week (for the umpteenth time). I intend to practice what I preach and not share my faith there.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Show 'em your cross



There is a very simple reason that the Government are saying that Christians have no right to wear a cross in some workplaces. David Cameron and all politicians are vampires.

It is, at his stage, just a theory. But it would explain a lot. For a start it would explain the cold indifference that the Government are showing to the poor and to the disabled. As Count Dracula oppressed all those around him in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', so too the modern day political vampires.

They are sucking the life out of the soul of the country. So it is only natural, being one of the damned, that Mr Cameron and his kind would oppress the people below his high and lofty castle also known as The House of Commons.

The Count was always a plausible figure in Stoker's novel. He seemed charming, hypnotic, charismatic even. He was rich and he had his servants.

It just seems strange to me that the Government should find the cross offensive. And with the rise in vampire-based stories (in which the vampire character is subverted to the good guy), is it any wonder that Cameron and his kind have secretly sold their souls to evil?

Of course there is only one practical solution. I don't advocate stakes through the heart and beheading because these are violent methods. You cannot fight evil with evil.

There is only one solution - the House of Commons should be adorned with garlic to prevent the comings and goings of the hoard. Then someone must splash holy water over the head vampire. Then, if all else fails, those who feel that it is a right to their freedom of expression to wear a cross at work should be supported and encouraged.

That the vampires are bugged by this free expression will perhaps keep their fangs away from the innocent.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Prayer and politics


(Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament)


With the recent controversy over prayers being said in council meetings and in parliament I thought it would be interesting to blog about the subject. What does seem to be clear is that very few people actually knew that councillors and politicians pray as part of their formal meetings.

Whether this is right or wrong is another debate, as is whether or not all faiths should be represented - one thing is clear though - politicians are among the most prayed for people in the UK. With all this prayer and good intention swirling around the ether you may be wondering what on earth is going on in the UK Christian community. Why are we so damned compliant?

There are some semi-formal Christian groups among politicians themselves. There have been for a while. And Christians (on the whole) will pray for politicians. You can view this as perpetuating the status quo, but the reason it is done is because part of the new testament specifically calls on Christians to pray for national leaders. Specifically prayers are said that leaders will act with wisdom. But it can get out of hand and I've heard Christians pray for politicians to be protected, for their possessions to be protected, for them to be protected from the intrusive media, for them to be blessed in everything they do, Amen and Amen etc. There are a number of Christian groups with websites dedicated to praying for those in power.

I refuse to pray for them out of principle, but I've had it made clear to me in the past that I'm not toeing the Christian line on this issue.

There is even more prayer among politicians themselves at each sitting when both the Lords and the Commons begin the day with a formal prayer. In the commons, attendance is voluntary and MPs have to stand facing the wall behind them (a tradition thought to be based on the difficulty of praying while kneeling and carrying a sword).

The actual prayer read out by the speaker’s chaplain is: ‘Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to members of parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals, but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed, Amen.’

So Christians will often pray for politicians, that the decisions they make will benefit the people of this country. The only problem is (as I'm sure you may have noticed), sometimes, prayers are unanswered. 


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Everything will conspire to keep you away from writing




My ebook 'Compliance is Futile' is now out on the kindle. I got a kindle for Christmas and it was the first book I downloaded. There was a certain satisfaction in doing that.

The link to the Amazon page is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Compliance-is-Futile-ebook/dp/B006LKWQR8

Now I need to get back to work on my novel. At the moment it is going quite slowly, I've got to about 20,000 words, but I keep editing away huge chunks of the story and I need to weave the sequences together and carry on with the writing itself. Finding time to do so is the hardest thing. Everything seems to distract me.

Everything will conspire to keep you away from writing.

I have the end in mind already, it's just a matter of trying to stop being distracted and getting down to the task.

It may take some time.




Thursday, 12 January 2012