Return to Eden

The first glimmerings of Eden began ages ago, when I read an article about Snowball Earth. Intrigued, I found that there was evidence that the Earth was once one big snowball of frozen ice with glaciers in the south of Africa. Amazing! Later, there was a BBC Horizon programme about it. Then I found a book called Snowball Earth in a second-hand bookshop. If, that wonderful word, if the whole world was somehow plunged into a modern ice age, would there be survivors? How would they survive? Where would this happen?

All this stuck in my mind. An outline of a story where a young man was banished and had to get somewhere on a horse helped the story take shape.

Coincidentally, it was about this time that The Eden Project started in Cornwall. My wife and I visited in 1999 to watch it being constructed and I became a member for a while. We visited again before it opened in 2001 and several times after, when the plants were installed. On one visit, I introduced myself to someone, explaining I was writing a story that included Eden. She very kindly sent me some plans of Eden and they were most helpful.

I put Snowball Earth and the banished young man together, added Eden as his destination, and I had my story.

I was going to call it, ‘Where Eden Saw Play’. A reference to the Bible and to the line, Eden saw play, from the beautiful poem, Morning has Broken, by Eleanor Farjeon. But I was concerned about borrowing it and it was too long to fit easily on the cover. Unfortunately, Amazon has about twenty books with the title, Return to Eden. Also, there are lots of Colin Taylors. I could still change the title and I could add some middle initials to my name. Would Colin C W Taylor or Colin C C Taylor make a difference? Who knows? I think I’ll stick with plain Colin Taylor for the moment.

So, there you have it. The genesis of Return to Eden. I wish you happy reading.

Many thanks to Claire and Natalie of The Arts Programme at Phoenix Local Radio, Brentwood

Well, yes, it’s dishwasher. A spoonerism. According to dictionary definitions William Archibald Spooner, a Victorian clergyman, was of a nervous disposition, but often had to speak to audiences. He frequently transposed the first letters of words and spoonerism entered the language around 1900.

I must have been loading or emptying the dishwasher and as often happens with me, spoonerisms pop into my mind. Once, long ago, in a boy scout ‘Gang show’, one of our number told the story of Rindecella who slopped her dripper and had problems with the pransome hince and the sigly usters!! This has stayed with me ever since and spoonerisms often come to mind.

Some I like are crooks and nannies, tons of soil and a more modern one, Not Poodle.

Now quite why the Wishdosher eventually had problems with giving or ‘doshing’ out wishes and why he faced challenges with some children, I’m not sure. The ideas developed after a while.

It seemed right that if you conjured up the Wishdosher, he had to give you three wishes and if the three wishes weren’t all used straight away, he had to wait around until they were.

My teenage son found a large piece of Corkscrew Hazel on the local playing fields and brought it home and this became the Wishdosher’s wand. How it went on to be broken, leaving the Wishdosher and the children at the mercy of the Grey Fairies, I’m not sure, but it did, as stories often do.

After I started writing, I realised that it had all started with Karen, the youngest child, who at 5 years old, sometimes muddled up her letters. Saying thinger instead of finger or lellow instead of yellow is quite common and it doesn’t really matter. Children often get their letters muddled and they grow out of it, but when Karen called the dishwasher, the wishdosher, it did matter.

I completed a first draft a long time ago, but other things intervened and I’m only now rewriting it. Maybe it’ll be finishing soon and it can be added to my list of stories that are awaiting publication.

Wheanmile, I’d better bash away at my bee kord until it’s done. I can hear Karen calling me. She wants me to get the Wishdosher done NOW! And she’s said it three times and stamped her foot. Oh gy moodness, Will the Wishdosher grant me three wishes and what shall I wish for?

Yes, well, hmmmmm! Here’s an update to my update. I have completed The Wishdosher. It’s on my list to be published.  

A long time ago, when my children were young, Graham was about seven and Helen four, my wife, Susanne, and I took them on a family holiday to Northumberland. We camped there in our trailer tent for two weeks. It was sunny mostly with just a little rain. There were old castles to explore, sandy beaches to dig, sandcastles to build for the incoming tide to knock down and windy walks along the seashore. We had a lovely time.

One of the highlights was celebrating birthdays. Both Susanne’s and Graham’s are in the school summer holidays. We were recommended a restaurant near the campsite. We arrived early because the children were still young and bedtime was also early.

Being near the Scottish border, the restaurant walls were covered with tartans. There were fascinating displays of armour and weapons amongst them. The best thing, though, was an enormous, stuffed, grizzly bear. It stood on its hind legs with its front paws and claws extending upwards. Its mouth was wide open, displaying an amazing amount of sharp white teeth as if it was just about to emit an ear-piercing growl.

We were the first customers that evening and after choosing a table, we sat down and chose from the menu. We settled down with our drinks to wait for the food to arrive. That took a while as I’m not sure the chefs were quite ready. It was very early. The children became restless. What could we do? We didn’t want them running around the tables. Inspiration came. I started to tell them about the stuffed bear. It was a magic bear that came alive at night when the restaurant was closed. It wandered around amongst the shadows of the dark restaurant. It would go to the kitchen, open the fridge and choose something nice to eat. I was describing how the bear would go quietly up the stairs, open the doors and explore all the rooms, when the food arrived.

I quickly said I would finish off the story and write it all down for them, another time.

It was to be ten years later that I wrote it.

I’m updating and rewriting The Wishdosher. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but have put it off whilst writing other stories. Procrastination is often a part of a writer’s life and I find that it creeps into my writing life quite often. Checking emails, Facebook posts and doing research online is much nicer and easier than getting on with typing into my computer. Ask any writer. I’m sure they’ll agree. There are all sorts of ways of beating procrastination (You can look them up online, too.) and I have tried a few. Somehow, you must focus on your page and start writing. You can’t improve something if you haven’t written it and your work always needs improving. Somehow, then, I have to get to the page I’m working on and type some more of the story. So! I’m going to stop here and go write some more of The Wishdosher.

Since February, I am Chair of Brentwood Writers’ Circle…again.

I know, it’s short for chairman, but we don’t use that anymore because it’s sexist so most people now shorten it to chair

Only, when I say I’m chair, to myself, that’s not what pops into my mind. Perhaps it’s because I’m being childlike, childish, my son says, but I often wonder what sort of chair I am.

Am I an easy chair? Some of the kids in the classes I taught in primary school might have thought so and I was sometimes.

Other times I was a hard chair and I wouldn’t let the kids get away with anything. They still liked me as a teacher though and would do the work for me. Perhaps because I was a straight chair. Honest as the day is long, which is always 24 hours. Isn’t it? Only what if it wasn’t and isn’t? What if it’s a different planet with a different day length, a green sky, red rain and leaves that are always blue and violet. Then maybe being honest wouldn’t be so easy… If the day wasn’t so long.

I could be an arm chair with arms to defend myself. From what? Maybe the shadows. Shadows? Yes, the ones that live within us. The ones you sometimes catch out of the corner of your eye. You’ve got to keep an eye on your shadows.

I wouldn’t like being a plastic chair. They’re hard and make you sweaty.

Padded? Ah yes, then I’d be soft and giving.

Electric? Oh no, that would be a dead giveaway.

Ah! A swivel chair, only then I’d be pointing in all directions and undecided which way to go.

A push chair? Hah! Who’s doing the pushing?

Perhaps I’ll be an easy chair after all, with a very solid frame, the iron hand in a velvet glove! So I know what to do when I am Chair of The Brentwood Writers’ Circle. Only don’t tell them I said so.