Saturday, 31 December 2011


Everyone had taken their places and it was time to begin; I took the first photo. I knew we had a limited amount of time to get it right, and impinging on His time would inevitably be deemed disrespectful. Never unnecessarily annoy the subject; I had learnt that the hard way. The room had been all hustle and bustle but, now that we had officially begun, the noise and commotion of my colleagues had suddenly gone. Refocusing the lens and rearranging a disciple or two, I took another photo. And another. Shooting the dinner took a comparatively short time and, having dismissed my crew and cleared up the equipment, I bade goodbye to the men in front of me.

Outside in the cool night air, my co-workers shuffled off into the darkness as I called my editor. Barely a second passed before Evonne answered.
"Lucian! I've been waiting to hear from you all evening. How did it go? Did you manage to get what we discussed? Have we got exclusivity..?"
"Calm it Evonne, I'm in control here. Firstly, it went well, thank you for your concern. Secondly, yes we got all that we needed. Finally, I managed to get exclusivity but mainly because no other bugger seems to have picked up this story."
"That" she declared triumphantly "is because I am a fucking genius. Meet me in twenty minutes at the usual place." and promptly hung up.

After twenty-five minutes, I was waiting for Evonne to arrive. Ten minutes later, she careered into sight across the horizon, a whirlwind of cigarette smoke and coffee fumes.
"Darling" she called across the hillside "you're an absolute saviour." Collapsing beside me she asked "Does anyone know you're here? If Hanna knows, her team her going to have a field day. I bet they think I'm insane."
"No-one knows. Still." I replied, thoughts racing, taking a drag on her cigarette.
"I was pretty sceptical about it at first, I must admit." she said, as though she wasn't really listening to me. "But if you got what we agreed to, there's a story in it. That trouble at the temple the other day was such a good lead. Hanna should have been in on it. She's too busy with global affairs now to realise that some of the locals think the Messiah is on their sodding doorstep."
"It's going to get bigger; huge, if tonight was anything to go by." I took a deep breath. "I'm going to lay my offer out, and you can take it or leave it but we haven't got much time. All I ask is that you remember that your job is on the line here. All the big stories since you became editor in chief have been absolute flops, and working with you could be professional suicide for me." She stopped examining the bottom of her conglomerate coffee shop latte and started scrutinising my face.
"I know exactly what you're going to say, but I'm listening." she said reluctantly.
"After tonight's shoot and before coming here, I waited outside for a while and had a listen to what was actually going on at this dinner." She raised an eyebrow, but I continued. "He'd been so bloody secretive during the shoot; I'm surprised we managed to convince Him to even agree to it in the first place. Anyway, to cut a long story short, He predicted that one of His followers is going to betray Him. You remember that He requested delayed publication, that he didn't want the photos to come out til next week?"
 "Yes.." she replied, hesitantly.
 "That," now it was my turn to be triumphant "is because He knows that He'll be dead by then." Evonne's eyes widened and the remainder of her coffee disappeared down the hill. I was well aware of her stance on investigative journalism, that she deemed it uncivil and unprofessional. But I also knew that she was in the shit, that her job was hanging in the balance, and that she needed a ground-breaking story to keep her head above water. This was different. He wouldn't give us what we were after, but I knew I could get it anyway. She had finally relinquished; she'd been led into temptation.

Leaving Evonne on the hillside, I made my way to the garden. Judy and the Elders arrived shortly after, and I got my photo. Kiss, click. The next twenty four hours were the most intensive hours I had ever spent on the job; the trials lasted through the night and into the early morning. I suppose I shouldn't complain, but the hill was steeper than I'd imagined, and carrying all my equipment up there after a sleepless night was no mean feat. 

By four o'clock, I was in Evonne's office. Her initial enthusiasm, which had been even more colourful than her usual monologues, had died abruptly. Her coffee was left to go cold, her cigarette had burnt itself out. After flicking through all of the photos, she sighed and leant back in her chair.
"Some of these photos are absolutely beautiful, Lucian." she said slowly, her eyes staying focused on the screen. "Really, quite astonishing. And sad. Very sad."
"Can you make a story out of it, that's the question?" I said, attempting to make eye contact. After quite a long pause, she looked at me and said "This is not a story. This is The Story."

The task for this piece was to start with a photograph. My dad came up with the idea of writing a story involving photographs that had never been - of a famous event that had occurred before photography. Not everyone gets what this is about, and I'd be interested to see who does; let me know if you do! Have a good new year ladies and gents.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


“Good morning.”
Custard and toast.
“Good morning Mr Stevens.”
Custard, toast and a Marathon bar.  

Kevin sighed. Another morning, another feast. Today was Monday, so everything had a whiff of elastic bands anyway. Nodding greetings to his colleagues, Kevin backed into his office and shut the door. Silence. Unfortunately Janet was lingering on his tongue, and Peter was resting pungently in his nostrils. Not forgetting the elastic bands, of course. Adding the scent of his early morning coffee and Danish into the mix, which sat innocently on his desk, the cacophony of smells and tastes was enough to nauseate anybody. As it happens, Kevin wasn’t just anybody.  

For as long as he could remember, words had been accompanied by tastes. It didn’t matter whether he was speaking, listening, reading, thinking or even dreaming; almost every word sparked a flavour. Kevin hadn’t considered it an abnormality until one day, age seven, when he was forced to partner up in a science class. Sharon, a perfectly friendly classmate, had approached him and asked if they could work together. “I don’t want to work with you,” Kevin had blurted, “you taste like lard!”  

For quite a long time after that unfortunate incident, Kevin left his abnormality unmentioned. The other school children had quizzed him no end, and had finally decided that he was either mad or an attention seeker. Neither of these qualities went down particularly well in the playground, and over the years Kevin gradually felt himself becoming more and more isolated from his peers. As he grew up, he became acutely aware of the difficulties that arose due to his gift. Classes were difficult, and some voices even became incomprehensible past their flavours. He spent many hours tuned out, staring out the window and trying not to listen. In time, he developed ways of filtering out some of the tastes and smells around him. Drinking strong coffee, he had discovered one morning in his early teens, overpowered some of the weaker flavours, leaving him more able to concentrate on what was being said in class, rather than on what it tasted like.  

Sitting at his office desk with his coffee and Danish, Kevin took a minute or so to let the Arabica beans wash over him. With a familiar sense of inevitability, he turned on his computer and checked his email. Gorgonzola had responded to one of his questions, Soggy Crisps needed some advice and, unfortunately, Vomit from human resources needed some additional information from him. Kevin had attempted to make his initial email to Vomit as concise as possible, as no matter what words he used or how quickly he typed, Vomit managed to overpower all of the other flavours coming through. Vomit was most unpleasant. Vomit also happened to be just about the prettiest colleague in the company, perhaps in the entire sherbety office complex that Kevin worked in. All of his male, and a surprising number of his female co-workers swooned whenever Vomit floated in. All apart from Kevin. Just as no-body liked Richard from technical support because he genuinely smelt like Stilton, Kevin couldn’t help but dislike Charlotte, simply because she was Vomit.  

But then, there was Vanilla.  

Vanilla had joined the company relatively recently, and everyone liked to talk about how easy she was to get on with. She was around Kevin’s age, and although nature had not been as conventionally kind to her as it had been to Vomit, there was something in her generous frame that made Kevin’s belly perform acrobatics. Of course, he was a little swayed by a biased sweet tooth, but Kevin knew that under her palatable exterior, she was just as nice inside. Kevin took every opportunity he could to speak to Vanilla. She was, granted, not the most exciting flavour he had ever tasted; she was just nice.  

It was on this elastic band morning that Kevin found the opportunity to call Vanilla into his office, on some pretext or another.
“Good morning Kevin!” 
Vanilla flavoured, slightly elastic, custard, toast and plastic car interiors.
“Good morning Mary.”  

Mary had always felt a little flattered that Kevin paid her so much attention. He tended to keep himself to himself, and seemed to strongly object to speaking to certain people, apparently for no good reason at all. Most peculiarly, he avoided Charlotte at all costs. Mary suspected it was due to his shyness, and that he simply felt more comfortable around her homely self than the gorgeous Charlotte. But still, there was a small part of her that couldn’t help but wish that Kevin actually preferred her.  

At 5pm, just like every other day, Kevin’s colleagues watched as he left the office. Nodding goodbye to his co-workers and swiftly avoiding the piercing gaze of Vomit, Kevin left the building. His employees had always found it peculiar that so seemingly friendly a man barely spoke to anyone. Kevin had made the decision early on in his career to avoid telling anyone about his gift; it had only actually been in the last decade that Kevin had been able to put a name to it. After years of frustration, he hit ‘I taste words’ into Google. ‘Lexical – Gustatory Synaesthesia’ Google had replied, in 0.23 seconds. The revelation had been somewhat of a relief; he wasn’t mad after all.  

Arriving home, Kevin threw off his glasses, tie, jacket and shirt and tied his apron on like a cape around his neck. Pulling the apron round and fastening it behind his back, he felt anxious with anticipation. Kevin had happened upon many peculiar yet winning recipes by chance, in fact it happened every day. One of his most successful had been a toffee and lime cake, the combination for which he’d come across in a conversation with a Toffee client, whilst talking on a limey Wednesday. Chocolate and bacon had been a nice surprise too, although Guiness and liver had been a bit of a disappointment.  

He whipped up a storm in the kitchen that evening, and after a long day of Gorgonzola, Toast, Custard and Vomit, he sat down to a fat slice of vanilla cake. There were some flavours he just couldn’t get enough of.

The task for this piece was to write a story involving the senses or colours. I remembered a Horizon programme that I'd seen about synaesthesia, which is actually called 'Derek Tastes Like Earwax' and I would recommend watching it if you can find it. Everything I used in the story was based on fact and I spent a couple of days in my bedroom eating biscuits and researching it. Absolutely fascinating. Anyway! I think that during this I ran away a little with what I knew about synaesthesia and was telling a lot of backstory, rather than concentrating on telling the Day-In-The-Life-Of, which is what I had planned on doing. The ending is pretty rushed - I was going for a Clark Kent/Superman effect with the penultimate paragraph that I don't think anyone got! Oops. Anyway, let me know what you think and where you would like it to be improved.

From James Wannerton's website, Welcome to the World of Synaesthesia. This extract in particular was very inspiring and totally blew my mind. James is on the committee of the UK Synaesthesia Association and is the man who thinks Derek tastes like earwax. Check out his site, it is overwhelmingly fascinating.

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Lenny had been away for a long time. Where, and for how long, was not something he liked to think about, let alone discuss. Suffice to say that, turning the familiar corner that led onto the last stretch of the walk home, he was very glad to be back.

Lenny’s walk home had been the same for many years. His parents had bought the house before Theodor, the eldest, was born, and had stayed there ever since. By the time the youngest had arrived, four children later, the house had truly become a home.


Life is hard. Some people are fortunate, and only to have to cope with the inevitable difficulties life brings; sickness, heartbreak, loss. Unfortunately, some people are born into difficult situations, and life can be a struggle. Pregnant and desperate, Carolin turned to her aunt, who had been living in London for many years. In late 1935, Carolin Amsel and Dieter Günzberg were among the few lucky Germans to escape the clutches of the Third Reich, and they set up home somewhere just north of Leeds. Anti-Semitic behaviour had grown exponentially in Germany over the past year or so, and Dieter had no longer been able to find work. After months of desperate job hunting and grim determination, the introduction of the Nuremberg laws, which officially declared Jews ethnically inferior, also stated that Jews could no longer marry non-Jews. Dieter was Jewish, Carolin was not. It was the final affront; the couple had been defeated.

As enthusiastic as they were about their new life in Jolly Old England, they were determined to hold onto their German heritage. At the birth of their first child, shortly after their fairly spontaneous marriage, they made a decision to give their children German names and to teach them German as their first language. Theodor came first, in the spring of 1936. Happy and healthy, life was looking up for the Günzbergs. Many British Northerners had never met a German, and Dieter spent many hours with his fellow carpenters teaching them German vocabulary (predominantly blasphemous, although he never admitted this to Carolin). Jan came next in the autumn of 1938. By his first birthday, Britain was at war with Germany, and tension had started to rise in the Günzberg household. Although none of their British friends had been intentionally unkind, both Carolin and Dieter had noticed a distinct change in their behaviour towards them. Carolin was not overwhelmed with the same number of passing guests as she had been before, and conversation between her and the neighbours had become noticeably reserved. Painfully for Dieter, who had bonded so closely with his colleagues, he often walked in on silent rooms that had previously been filled with chatter. Once again, the couple felt like outcasts.

The outbreak of war hit Dieter particularly hard. Correspondence with his family in Germany had ended abruptly. He suddenly felt like a traitor; abandoning his loved ones when life had gotten too difficult, leaving them to fight their corner alone. So when the opportunity arose for the family to host a Jewish child from Vienna, Dieter jumped at the chance. In September 1939, Lennart arrived on the doorstep of the Günzbergs, much to Carolin’s initial surprise. Lennart Maybaum was a tall, dirty, and endearingly shy boy of twelve.  He brought nothing with him but the clothes on his back, and a pair of broken shoes that, Dieter finally discovered, had belonged to his father. It soon became apparent that Lennart had no intention of discussing what had happened before, what inevitable horrors had occurred to qualify him for the last Kindertransport train. Carolin and Dieter asked no questions.

Lennart spoke absolutely no English, and was incredibly reluctant to leave the safety of the German speaking home from home. The Günzbergs suddenly found themselves experiencing considerably more British culture, in an attempt to ease Lennart out of his shell. Everything became an adventure, from grocery shopping to buying railway tickets. More than anything, Carolin wanted Lennart to have as normal a childhood as possible from then on. In early October 1939, after tense discussions between the Günzbergs and the headmaster of a local school, it was decided that Lennart would attend school as of January. Carolin and Dieter redoubled their efforts to integrate Lennart into English society. By the time Lennart was ready to start school, the whole family felt much more like they belonged, and a lot less like outsiders. School came with its own difficulties, but Lennart took them in his stride. In time, ‘Lanky Lenny the Hun’ became ‘Lanky Lenny’, and finally just ‘Lenny’. He made good friends with children on their street, and they all walked home together from school, playing football and swapping jokes. In July 1940, Rafael became the newest addition to the Günzberg family. It was at this point that Dieter had suggested to Carolin that perhaps four children were enough. She informed him, in her brusque manner, that they would not be stopping until they had a girl. Fortunately for Dieter, her wish came true in December 1941, and Annaliese became the last member of their happy clan.

The war raged on, and as much as the family supported the Allied war effort, triumphant news stories of ravaged German towns were difficult to hear. Dieter had tried to dissuade Lenny from listening to the news, as much for Lenny’s benefit as for his. He just did not want to know. One evening in late 1943, after Lenny had been left to babysit for the others, Carolin and Dieter returned home to find him sitting with his ear pressed to the softly crackling wireless. It was obvious he had been crying.
“I have to know. You have to know.”
Carolin sat at his feet, Dieter at his right arm, and Lenny finally told them how he had ended up on a train from Vienna to London, with nothing to his name but broken shoes.


Lenny gradually made his way home, kicking fallen leaves from the gutter and marvelling at the splendour of English autumn. Seven autumns had come and gone, and yet he never tired of the scorching reds and burning oranges that swirled at his feet. Life had not always been easy for Lenny, but now that he was finally home again, he knew that he was where he belonged.

This is from my fiction writing module. The task was to include a character called Lenny, a pair of broken shoes, and a walk home. I like the ideas, but I think it's written far too much like a history A-level essay (I LOVED writing those), or a story summary. There's another section including Lenny's back story, but I kept it out of the final cut. Drop a comment below to let me know what you think! Cheers. And I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

This is what Lenny looks like in my head, but without glasses.

Saturday, 24 December 2011


So here I am again, another blog that I'm begging you to read. I promise that there will be no peculiar fashion advice here, no short anecdotes manipulated into long winded stories and no tales of stupidity. If that's what you're looking for, head over to Love from Life. Or even find me here on Twitter.

This blog is simply here to showcase work I do for university, and hopefully get some feedback on what people think. That's it. Constructive criticism is more than welcome, I'm very happy for you to tear it apart where you think it's necessary. There's obviously a back log of what I've done so far, so forgive me an initial torrent of posts. I'd just like to know if you think the stories are interesting.

Any input from you will be gratefully received, and I thank you in advance.

Emily Jane Writes, apparently.