Thursday, June 28, 2012

I am Elspeth Stereo

Last night I learned an interesting new slang word from the dream world.

In the dream I went to give a talk at my alma mater (SAGHS). When I got there, I learned that the 'talk' was supposed to be a reading of Daisy Chain, which everyone was excitedly anticipating ... but I hadn't brought a copy of D.C. with me.  (Hmm, not a bad idea to go and do a reading of Daisy Chain at the school ...)

Rather than rush home to get a copy of the novel (which in that moment I confirmed I should always have with me), I decided to give everyone the exercise of writing in stream-of-consciousness and let them create their own 'Daisy Chain'.

As some of the teachers and girls streamed in to the room (maybe they streamed consciously!), two of the girls excitedly said to me: "We've always wanted to meet you. We've heard so much about you! You're Elspeth Stereo." In their teen lingo, "Stereo" meant 'amazing'.

Now that I am awake, I see the many other symbolic meanings of 'stereo'.

Interesting ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Suggestion for decreasing/eliminating road carnage, crime and pollution in Trinidad and Tobago

In an ideal Trinidad and Tobago, someone with a technical mind would invent a computerised mechanism (to be fitted to all vehicles in TT by law) which prevents cars from increasing speed above 50 mph. This will drastically reduce or eliminate completely the amount of 'innocent bystanders' being killed by runaway vehicles that fly off the road and slam into them. Speeding, alcohol-fueled cars will no longer be able to flip the median and crush unsuspecting vehicles on the other side of the highway. The only vehicles legally allowed to drive without these devices would be fire brigades, ambulances, police and army vehicles.

This computerised device will also help to lower the crime rate as criminals won't be able to make speedy getaways. People will complain that their cars are too slow to take them to work on time (as if Trinis care about time). This grouse will be addressed by the introduction of (a) mandatory classes in time management for employees of all businesses and (b) a world-class nationwide public transport service---preferably trams and trains, accompanied by legal mandates about car pooling (at least 3 people in a car allowed on roads at peak hours). Lorries and delivery vehicles will complain about slower speed of delivery affecting business, but less traffic on the roads will give them the extra time they require, even when driving at a decreased mph/kmph.

An additional transport alternative will be provided by clearly marked bike lanes or a special "Bike Route" (akin to the bus route, but for bikes only). After a period of complaining and protesting, people in T & T will surrender to the inevitable and start riding bikes, realizing that they can get around faster and more safely and economically. Pollution & the demand for gas will be drastically reduced and we will begin to see a much healthier population, resulting in less of a strain on the health sector (which will also be eased up by not having so many road accident victims to deal with).

Some other enterprising person will invent a special lightweight protective covering that sits on the head and stretches over the body to connect like a tent to the handle bars and back of bikes. The front of this 'bike tent' will be transparent and polarized to cut glare and prevent sun damage to eyes and skin. The rest of it will be made of a cooling fabric which allows air to circulate as the person rides.

The U of I & I (University of Innovation & Invention) will be established, training young people to conceptualize and develop their minds—to think out of the box and create the amazing products and equipment they have imagined. This process will empower the youths, enabling them to develop concrete creative solutions to the nation's multiple problems. Their level of self worth, self esteem and sense of social importance will sky-rocket.  Marked reduction in drug use and crime levels will be recorded.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

A story so true it sounds like it's not

Some time ago I asked (for those who read Daisy Chain) re pages 14 - 16:

1. Who wrote the letter to Andrea—Mr. or Mrs. Port?
2. What was the relationship between writer and intended recipient?
3. What did the letter say?

A friend in Canada sent an intriguing response:

"Mr. Port wrote the letter. It said that he is madly in love with her and wants to run away with her. It says that he will wait for her every evening on the hill in the swing under the big willow tree. He will wait there for an hour before dark and walk back to the house at dark if she doesn't come."

Her answer made me wonder how Mr. Port met Andrea, what she thinks of him, if she ever comes to meet him at the tree, if she even gives him a second glance or if it's all just in his head. But then again, she never did get the letter because it was behind the chest of drawers. Why didn't he send it?

This actually reminds me of something that happened in real life ... finding a love-like letter that was intended to be sent but, for some reason, never was. It happened when I was studying at Cambridge. Such a bizarre story ... but it's true.

One night my housemates and I had a dinner at home. After everyone left, my friend Laura stayed back and the two of us stayed up talking until early morning. Still not sleepy and feeling restless, we decided to walk down the hill to Parker's Piece (a large, significant green open space/landmark in Cambridge).

Because it was so early (just at dawn), no one was around and the grass was white with frost. We walked through it, dragging our feet, drawing shapes and patterns ... and coming across evidence of nocturnal revelry—condoms, underwear, champagne corks, etc.

In the near distance there was a garbage bin. I don't know what got into me to suggest that we look in it and see what was there. (Maybe because I was studying Criminology at the time). To our surprise, at the top of the garbage was a sealed envelope addressed to Mary Berry, with a stamp on it. Obviously someone had had all intentions of posting it, but for some reason, had decided not to. We wondered ... did the letter writer decide on the way to the post office that they no longer wanted to send the message? Or did he/she accidentally drop the letter on their way to mail it and, upon retracing their steps couldn't find it because someone else had discovered it and tossed it in the bin? 

Not wanting to put the letter back in the garbage in case the latter assumption was true, we agreed to open it and see what it was before deciding what to do.

From the very carefully and neatly-written letter we discovered that Mary Berry gave opera lessons. The letter writer was thanking her for helping him to open his voice ... and other things which I can't recall now. Maybe at the time we were being a bit Sherlock Holmes-ish, but, reading between the lines, we deduced that the writer had a huge crush on Mary Berry, had gathered up immense courage to write this letter full of lustful feelings thinly veiled in metaphors ... but on the way to the post office had decided against it and tossed the amorous confessions in the bin.

Why, you wonder, would he not have gone through with it?

This is the part of the story that struck us as amazing, if not bizarre. Coincidence of all coincidences, the name signed at the end of the letter (first AND surname, for some reason—maybe shyness , nerves or politeness) was that of a young priest at the priory/monastery near to our college!

This knowledge made us put the letter back in the bin.