Ticket To Ride, Book Two, Chapter 1: To lead a better life, I need my love to be here…

thames2Just Another Day

Livy Tinsley’s Story

“To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.”

– from “Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles

 

As the sun was setting over the Pacific Islands, casting it’s multi-color, thousand shaded dance on the faces of people she would never know, if only through the stories of a future, decade away lover, Olivia Tinsley (Livy) was waking to the new day. North London, having yet shed its coal-smoke past, greeted the morning like a stepmother embracing an unwanted child. But Livy’s spirit was above this, stepmother or not, she was connected to the morning. Her world was never just East Finchley. Hers was all that the equator bisected and all that lay between the poles. And while only a young girl, she knew she would bring them all to see this.

This particular morning, Saturday, December 17, 1967, was Livy’s birthday. She was turning ten today, double-digits, the first step toward young womanhood and the springtime of Psyche.

Trudy would be waiting. And the two friends, connected by a vision that stretched beyond the High street and market day, would walk above what others saw. Today their trek would take them to the Thames, a river which, in both their minds, led to the all of the oceans of the world.

They met at the corner as they did on so many other mornings, liberated from the utilitarian drabness of their council-flat homes. (This drabness should be seen as only the narrator’s point of view because neither girl could be “bothered” with pigeonholing themselves as being poor.) Poverty was something they saw in their parents’ eyes. It scared them, like the [Boogie Man], and solidified in them, a desire to not be poor, at least in spirit, and dreams. Dreams were what they had, a warm cloak against the morning air and their protection against their mother’s insistent urging to dress more warmly. The only warmth Livy needed today was what she saw in the floppy-haired eyes of Paul McCartney. The Beatles were in full force and she saw in them, especially in Paul, the promise of the world outside; a world full of Europe, America and the power of words to make change.

They walked along the High street, peering in the windows of the shops that had yet to open, not to appraise the wares laid out for sale in the way their mothers saw them, as objects to be possessed and kept, but as objects of discovery and promise, things that told tales of the people that created them and the lands from which they had come. In the window of the Tea shop sat boxes and tins bearing English names but the brands were so much less important than the places they had come from. Ceylon, Bombay, Jakarta and the like were names that conjured in them, fantasies and dreams of sweet-smelling air and fragrant fields of tea, places where their supposed poverty was alternatively noble, and lives built around the cultivation of these crops were simple and pleasurable and fraught with tradition, ritual, and beauty.

At Finchley Road they turned, and walked the long stretch from the here to there. A long walk for you and I, but just here to there for Livy and Trudy. Just here to there. The “there” being the banks of the Thames, and a bridge. And it was on this bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, looking East along the river that their conversation began. With the warm lands in their minds, their Saturday dreams took flight and Livy would often pose a question. “What would this have been if it wasn’t for Norsemen and Saxons? If we two had had a say in the building up of this island?”

Instead of answering, Trudy would turn inward, subconsciously erasing feudalism and Burgundian kings. She would instead picture a world where Joans’ of Arc would ride in on silver steeds and carry a message of peace. Or Emile Guillame’s, La Deliverance, an actual female nude statue standing in the middle of Finchley, holding a sword in the Battle of Marne, projecting power and grace and a vision of something other, other than the usual outcome of war, and other than a temporary half-conjured promise, but a promise of finally broaching that next world, that world where definitions are based on how well all is defined and not on the appearance of things. And while the barges and steamships of commerce rolled by she would picture a river full of music and romance, and a body of water that carried instead promise, and intangibles like adventure and freedom. These commodities would, in most cases be, under the cold eyes of the economist, trade goods, but to Trudy they weren’t simply traded goods, but an exchange of the wealth of kingdoms, kingdoms borne of diplomacy, goodwill and temperance.

“Didja know Trudy… an early, maybe the first, Briton and his wife, Hwll and Akun came through here in the summer some seventy-five hundred years before Christ, on their way to Salisbury? They came down here to find a new home, somewhere warmer as the last ice age was ending. This place was full of trees but they didn’t stop. Something drove him further south. London was a forest and the Thames ran freely, wide, and big. * Trudy there was nothing here. No off-licenses, no Minis, no Austin Healeys, no Ty-phoo or Tetley, no London Times or BBC… just trees and the river. How must that’ve been?”

Livy had  broached this before, several times thought Trudy, but Trudy never tired of the speculation. She loved that Livy would ask it. That’s where Trudy wanted to go, away from the council flat, away from the sinking feeling that permeated it. She felt this more deeply than Livy. She could feel it creeping up around her ankles, threatening to choke her, and she, unlike Livy, felt powerless to fight it. Her only escape was through Livy’s words, and her questions, and her spirit, and her eyes, blue as nothing she’d seen. Livy was like a happy little female Buddha, smiling lovingly and defiantly at the world. It couldn’t touch her. She was wholly Psyche; nothing of Aphrodite and her sometimes steamrolling quality were present. She was fun, and hope, and promise, “cheeky” and detached.

“I’m ten Trudy, a decade old, ten years, double-digits. I mean, what will I mean? I’m sorry but, bloody hell, what is this councilflat-eastfinchley-povertyshite. I’m biding my time Trudy. I’m not long for here. I’m just ten but there’s work to do…

St. Paul’s. What do you think of St. Paul’s? Trudy? What do you think of St. Paul’s?”

Trudy had drifted off. She felt Livy pushing, moving, couldn’t be there  for her anymore. Livy wanted too much. Trudy wanted just to talk. Livy spoke her dreams and Trudy rode on them, but Trudy couldn’t see it for herself. Livy, livy, livy, she thought. She’ll leave me here.

“I think my mum got me new ballet slippers. God knows why, I’ve only done one thing right in four years. Stopped the whole class to show them I was so excited. But mum still thinks I’m going to make the Royal Ballet.”

“But you’re going to be a writer Livy.”

“Mum’s dream.”

“Which?”

“The ballet… girls don’t write, not supposed to… not girls from East Finchley.”

Trudy sort of nodded in agreement and disbelief at the same time then pulled something from her coat pocket.

“I wrote this for you,” handing a folded sheet of paper to Livy, “You’re a much better writer than me, but well, here it is. Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks Trudy, I suppose they’ll be more coming out of East Finchley than just ink.” **

She stopped to read.

 

“Silken voice,

silken smile

whistles on wind

all the while

sweet songs of seashells, seabirds & sandy crabs.

Transplanted manner

wide-eyed sigh

walks in whispers

under white light sky

through pretty poetry of

mustard greens and autumn sun

Lancashire castles

reproduced in sand

lyrics and verse

composed in her small hand

conversation adrift that she can’t understand

she sleeps quietly with Nana

in Nana’s new land.”

 

“Thank you so much lovey. You are a love…”

Livy put her arm around Trudy.

“I love the look of St. Paul’s from here. It looks… well… it looks like someone cared…. but, at the same time… the constructs of it.” she continued.

“Construction…” Trudy added.

“I hate construction…” said Livy.

Trudy frowned, “Exactly.”

They looked at each other and Trudy smiled through Livy, then both turned back toward the Thames and at a passenger ship heading downriver to Dover, the Channel and everywhere else.

“Nana’s new land Livy! You can see it too.”

“You’re going to leave someday,” Trudy finished.

They were quiet again until Livy had to speak.

“My dad drank a lot again last night.”

“Ditto.”

The two of them hugged one another.

“I love you sweetie,” Livy said.

“I love you too,” replied Trudy.

“Best friends forever.”

“Best friends forever.”

It ended like this most every time.

 

* gleaned from Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd

** In 1874, Henry Charles Stephens, son of the Inventor of modern ink and also known as “Inky” Stephens came to live here and to establish a laboratory.

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One Second Saviour

randomkindnessOne Second Saviour by Philip Scott Wikel

 

don’s liquor store,

a homeless woman kisses my hand

my heart swells and i’m a one second saviour

 

her husband bows as if in reverent prayer

i gave him 3 dollars on thanksgiving and

he probably drank it all but he’s still alive

so he must be eating

 

i see them and now every time

hope that the shelter opens soon and

i know it will and they’ll be warm at night

and less dirty

 

she’s red in the face

with the swelling of skindrenched

in alcohol and relentless sun

but her spirit’s intact

and she kisses my hand

i’m her one second saviour

and they’re happy to see me

Notes on The Julian Day – Like Who Cares Right? (Haha)

Gateway to Elysian Fields
Gateway to Elysian Fields

Midnight 12am: It’s that time of night when one can be convinced that his quiet, mindful wanderings might have some relevance to other wanderers of the Elysian Fields. Sleeping people don’t talk back and folks like me with grand delusions find this time suited to their wayward, wanderlusting minds.

For those of you wondering why we chose the name “The Julian Day.” To the best of our knowledge the “actual” julian day is the day inserted into the month of February every leap year. This is the day that balances the calendar and literally balances time. In a world where everyone and everything seems hell-bent on throwing us and the entire world out of sync:

“We like the idea of achieving balance and evening things out to create a harmonious wholeness.”

Even if achieving that means first, throwing everything out of whack. It’s only when we experience chaos that we define our truest foundations.

Our first EP is called Sohei.

Sohei in Japanese means literally “monk warriors” or enlightened soldiers. Lofty title right? We’re doing our best.

With Sohei we’ve created what we believe is a powerful musical document that underlines the struggle for a higher spiritual and emotional connection to humanity that is musically and thematically coherent. We’re not interested in singles. We want all of the songs to contribute to a homogenous, and sonically courageous whole; each song contributing to a unified statement. We’re hoping you all will enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed, and are enjoying creating it.

The new EP (if we ever finish it) will be called “A Place Called Everywhere.” 

It’s our belief that as the world grows smaller and smaller with each passing day through our interconnectedness via the internet, skype, cell phones, and all the other techno stuff, soon wherever we are will be a place called everywhere. What will that world be like? We’d like to explore that with this next round of songs.

Preview of “A Place Called Everywhere:” https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejulianday/508010318?token=792d5193

Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon

Ticket to Ride

Prologue

Just Another Day – Livy Tinsley

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.

– from “Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles

As the sun was setting over the Pacific Islands, casting it’s multi-color, thousand shaded dance on the faces of people she would never know, if only through the stories of a future, decade away lover, Olivia Tinsley (Livy) was waking to the new day. North London, having yet shed its coal-smoke past, greeted the morning like a stepmother embracing an unwanted child. But Livy’s spirit was above this, stepmother or not, she was connected to the morning. Her world was never just East Finchley. Hers was all that the equator bisected and all that lay between the poles. And while only a young girl, she knew she would bring them all to see this.

This particular morning, Saturday, December 17, 1967, was Livy’s birthday. She was turning ten today, double-digits, the first step toward young womanhood and the springtime of Psyche.

Trudy would be waiting. And the two friends, connected by a vision that stretched beyond the High street and market day, would walk above what others saw. Today their trek would take them to the Thames, a river which, in both their minds, led to the all of the oceans of the world.

They met at the corner as they did on so many other mornings, liberated from the utilitarian drabness of their council-flat homes. (This drabness should be seen as only the narrator’s point of view because neither girl could be “bothered” with pigeonholing themselves as being poor.) Poverty was something they saw in their parents’ eyes. It scared them, like the [Boogie Man], and solidified in them, a desire to not be poor, at least in spirit, and dreams. Dreams were what they had, a warm cloak against the morning air and their protection against their mother’s insistent urging to dress more warmly. The only warmth Livy needed today was what she saw in the floppy-haired eyes of Paul McCartney. The Beatles were in full force and she saw in them, especially in Paul, the promise of the world outside; a world full of Europe, America and the power of words to make change. Continue reading “Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon”

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
– Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

How does this relate to Ticket to Ride? The following articles are about the people who inspired me to press on when I found the world ill-defined. While I idolized Hemingway and Kerouac, J.D. Salinger and Keri Hulme, Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost, the people in my next three articles were, and are, the tangible, and the most immediate, examples I have of people living lives immersed in, and in pursuit of, their respective passions. I feel very fortunate, and am thankful for, the circumstances which caused our lives to intersect. It is from their shoulders that I could see what might be instead of just what was.

Intro to “Happiness is the Warm Guns”

With it’s many quotes of, and allusions to, bands (including a cameo appearance by U2) and lyrics of the 70s, my novel, Ticket to Ride, is as much a celebration of music and musicians as it is a celebration of writers and writing. The Warm Guns are, to me, like the second coming (or third if you factor in Oasis) of the Beatles. Because of this, I feel they fit with the spirit of the book. Livy Tinsley, my female protagonist and devotee to Paul McCartney and the Beatles, would have loved these guys.

Happiness is the Warm Guns

by philip scott wikel (originally published in the Ojai Valley News)

Coming down from Ojai with a warm Santa Ana blowing at my back, I felt I was headed toward something good. In my mind I could hear the Beatles “Revolution” and as I pulled off Hwy. 33 at Main St. I found downtown Ventura flooded with the clean streetlight glow of an after-rain autumn evening and the friendly echoes of the Warm Guns streaming out from Zoey’s coffee loft.

Continue reading “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”

Mother Nature’s Son: Balanced with a Connection to the Natural World

 

Vosberg Original Canvas Oil Painting Paia Bay Palm Trees Maui Hawaii
Vosberg Original Canvas Oil Painting Paia Bay Palm Trees Maui Hawaii

In the following excerpt (from Chapter 9 of Ticket to Ride), having earlier described Morgan Blake, my male protagonist, as something of a philosopher and intellectual, I wanted to show a completely different side of him; the side connected to the ocean and the natural world. It’s important to me that he have this connection because a “life of the mind,” as it’s known in intellectual circles, must be balanced with a connection to the natural world. Otherwise we are all mind and no heart.

After Chapter 9, Morgan slips into a solitary life of the mind and spends the rest of the book in search of his heart. I hope you will enjoy this bit and I welcome any commentary you might have.

The Ticket to Ride Giveaway question of the week is:

At what bus stop did Paul McCartney and John Lennon meet for band practice in the early days of the Beatles? The person with the winning answer (posted on my blog as a comment) will receive a free book.

[From Chapter 9 of Ticket to Ride]

By the time an approaching squall had moved as close as the outer reefs Morgan had caught several waves and then decided that it was best to go in before the storm hit. Beyond the outer reefs the ocean had become a choppy white froth. However, close to shore there was a lull in the, until now, consistent sets of waves. Morgan waited patiently, feeling warm, clean, and clear. Then came another set of waves. He paddled over the first two and caught the third, knowing it would be the best of the set. It rose about two feet overhead as he dropped in. He stalled at the bottom, shifting his weight to the rear of his surfboard, and slipped slowly into the curl. He then stepped slightly forward and found perfect trim on the bending face of the wave. It folded over his head as he crouched, and he could hear the internal echo, sounding like the gushing of the primordial soup. From the beach it looked as if he had disappeared, and for a moment, the ocean seemed to embrace him.
It began to rain as he walked up the beach, past the old bunker, and toward town. By the time he reached the main street he could taste the salt as it dripped from his hair and down his face. The streets were wet and empty. Darkness was coming quickly as the declining sun had been smothered by the squall. I’ll check on Psalm he thought and when he reached the store he walked around to the back, stashed his surfboard underneath some week-old palm fronds, and as he turned toward the white house he noticed that the door to Psalm’s room was wide open.
The light of a candle flickered against the door and Morgan felt himself grow tense as he walked slowly toward it. Stopkeepmoving. Crossing the threshold he felt the tension grow stronger, resting on his chest, as if he was walking between two fence-posts on a moonless night, expecting to be caught by barbed wire. He entered the room. The air was infused with the pungent smell of raw sweat– Fearsweat, and when he turned to his right…