Berlin in Haikus


An author likes to have a project on the go, which isn’t always easy due to the vagaries of inspiration. In such circumstances I look back through some photos and choose one to write about. After all, the act of making a photograph is, in itself a mindful act.

I spotted this amazing woman, in Berlin, as a graffiti and thought, she has to be worth a book cover, so I sat down and wrote a novel about her. She seems a totally free spirit and so is her alter ego, Connie Grimshaw, the heroine of Goddesses. Look carefully and you will see graffiti-woman is holding an enormous knife although she doesn’t appear to be ready to use it in any violent way. Perhaps she is mocking me, looking at her. Who is in the zoo here? She, or is it me and she is the observer?

The heroines of my novels enjoy payback moments, but are not in any way haters of men, just haters of bad men. Connie discovers unconstrained sex in my story, which I believe is something we all dream of achieving whilst knowing, it isn’t going to happen.

I have recycled graffiti-woman in my forthcoming book on public artworks in Berlin. I photograph and then complete my study the work by writing a Haiku. I stick to the traditional form of 5:7:5 syllables per line, with a twist to the last line, but accept this is unnecessary in our modern days of rejecting strict form.

I intend to share pictures and their haiku with the reader and encourage them to come up with their own, using my picture or one of their own.

So, this what I think of that amazing woman, looking down at me from a railway bridge is thinking. She has achieved Connie’s abandonment to her libido and I give graffiti-woman Connie’s power. That leaves me the poor sucker dreaming of their abandonment and so envious of these two free spirits.

Easy-Vamp views us,
Relics from the uptight zoo,
Through impassive eyes.

I had a go at a German version.

Leichtes Mädchen guckt
Verstört wir, die verklemmten
Zoobewohner an.

Since then, the unknown artist has added another, so more work for me to do.

Being mindful without mysticism


The Microsoft Bing definition or Mindfulness.

  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something: “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

How I apply it to writing literature.

  • I take a story and investigate as many facets as possible.
  • In order not to become long-winded, I have learned to pair my language down to the minimum. No adverbs, few adjectives but super action.

Try it out with my 1st person romantic comedy thriller, Someone Tell Me What Is Going On. My heroes and heroines accept feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, or suffer the consequences.

Get the mindfulness habit.

Free pages at Amazon. Search for Clive La Pensée

Writing Mindfully


Writing expressionist novels leads me inevitably to write mindful literature. The technique of exaggerating the observed in order to explore its forces, forces me to create situations in which every human emotion is examined. This includes the fears and loves of the reader.

The chapter in The Last Stop where Jack and Maria dispose of the body, has caused many to lay the novel to one side. It was simply too exciting, too erotic and too demanding. Others found it the funniest thing they have ever read. That’s mindful writing. I explore everything there is to explore, even when it hurts beyond what one can stand.

The ten pages about Felicity’s adultery is a study of human weakness, but still leaves her a heroine because we understand and love her for her fallibility. I’ve been told it is a tour de force and probably the best thing I have written.

This is Mindfulness in Modern Literature.

Give the free pages a try. Put Clive La Pensee into your Amazon search and stop at The Last Stop. See if you can stand the Sturm und Drang of a Berlin novel about Mindful Crime.

Mindfulness – Get a life, Fred!


The portrait below is of Mary Elwell and was executed by her husband, Fred. It reveals a wistful wife, thinking thoughts Fred must have wished he hadn’t captured. This time it’s not me being mindful, but Mary!

Socialist Art. Really?


Mindfulness not only comes in useful to determine what we thought at the moment, but eighty words might reveal what the model was thinking. Who knows?

Damned artists! I sit here, in the altogether, pretending to be a wronged goddess. Thank goodness he agreed to put in the animal parts, later. The smell was something awful. And apparently, some prat will sit at my left foot, playing the lyre, all in the name of socialist art. How does that work?

He pays by the hour, and it covers my bills for the week. That just about sums it up.

Exhibition of DDR art. Gallery Barbarini -Potsdam.

Adding Mindfulness


Get mindful. Appreciate things around you more by writing 100 words about your first impression.

That hat, tilted jauntily forward, to say, ‘I’m something special.’
But only because of the silver spoon you were born with, tucked safely now between those carefully rouged, but too severe for comfort, lips.
And those hands, pushing the book’s wisdom away with their dismissive stance, but eyes still searching for some meaning to the day.
Your children will pay for your ambition. You will suffer from self-pity and too much cake, because that is the destiny of your tribe.

The 60s


Don’t forget – A Short History of Anxiety, is free to download, from Amazon, next weekend.

Most young people view the 60s as a decadent decade of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. The only true part is the rock ‘n roll. The music changed everything, because of the dirge that had gone before.

Time to correct the record. We had no –

  • Mobile phone.
  • Text messages.
  • WhatsApp
  • Internet.
  • Only one radio,
  • Your dad controlled the only TV and phone.
  • Recorded music was on vinyl – 40 minutes for 1/5 of your salary.
    • How did people get a date?

Like this!

Today, I want to talk about April in Starnberg and other flirts. It’s about how boy met girl without any help. OK. Maybe some.

Meet my heroines.

Debbie in the first story, who has decided to give her boss the opportunity to escape his depression by going on holiday with her, or the Asian beauty, in The Road To Troy, a widow but with the true wisdom that comes with bereavement, and Diedre, the worldly-wise late teen, fascinated by a youthful boaster, about to have his teenage angst tested. Three stories that happened on holiday in the sixties. Germany, Turkey and Jersey, described as never before.
How does it work? In April in Starnberg, our heroine suggests her boss choose the destination and gives him twelve hours to fix their holiday. She also believes she has the answers to life’s difficult questions, especially about romance, but must soon learn that still waters run deep. Her boss has hidden talents she never expected. One of them was his ability to recite the Wasteland by T S Eliot.
She discovers that a poem she had never heard of, contains the wisdom for both their lives.
A happy end is assured.
April in Starnberg is part of the ‘Angst and the Beatles Generation,’ series of 60s stories.
In The Road to Troy, a grieving widow rescues a marriage and makes the ultimate sacrifice for what she can no longer have. A story of a catastrophe, which couldn’t happen in the age of the mobile (cell) phone – or could it?
Finally, a touching coming-of-age teen yarn for all true romantics.

The Sixties is within living memory, but there was no internet, or mobile phone, but we had the Beatles, which was a bigger leap forward than digital connectivity. Finally, our own music!
Prior to the 60s the youth were clones of their parents. They wore their type of clothes and listened to their music, watched their TV. The reason was simple. There was nothing else available to young people. Just one telephone, radio or TV available in a household and the old man decided who got to watch what or how much time could be spent on a phone system, metered by the minute.
If you forgot something, you lived with it and if it were too dire, dealt with the consequences.
My memory of the 60s was having a bad conscience about things I hadn’t done well enough. Teachers were abusive, you often got only one chance to ask a girl out, before contact was lost – maybe forever! She didn’t have a texting device to pick up where one had left off. Advice was scant in a world parents didn’t or wouldn’t comprehend.
I can summarise the 60s with one word – angst.

Scratching my Head


What fiction authors do!

They scratch their head. They do it when they write a plot and when they are finished and revising the plot, and when the revisions are finished and it is to be published and then, finally when it is to be sold. That’s when the scratching really begins!

Marketing is the most intractable.

You know you have written a good book, because, respected literati with no axe to grind or reason to flatter, have told you so. Besides, when you know, you know, which was basically what Romeo said to Juliet.

Look where that got them!

So how do you market this good book? How do you bring it to the public.

Give it away! It’s what people expect. No one wants to pay an artist, author, musician, games programmer, etc.

Here you are! Have it for nothing!

I’m giving it away on Amazon, next weekend, 3rd and 4th July. Enjoy!

Here is the summary.

A short history of anxiety

The Sixties is within living memory, but there was no internet, or mobile phone, but we had the Beatles, which was a bigger leap forward than digital connectivity. Finally, our own music!
Prior to the 60s the youth were clones of their parents. They wore their type of clothes and listened to their music, watched their TV. The reason was simple. There was nothing else available to young people. Just one telephone, radio or TV available in a household and the old man decided who got to watch what or how much time could be spent on a phone system, metered by the minute.
If you forgot something, you lived with it and if it were too dire, dealt with the consequences.
My memory of the 60s was having a bad conscience about things I hadn’t done well enough. Teachers were abusive, you often got only one chance to ask a girl out, before contact was lost – maybe forever! She didn’t have a texting device to pick up where one had left off. Advice was scant in a world parents didn’t or wouldn’t comprehend.
I can summarise the 60s with one word – angst.
But it was OK. We survived, had fun, got into a pickle and got ourselves out again as this set of humorous stories illustrates.

Bike Blog


Living with derision

We all do it! It takes a momentary judgement lapse and your life is in the balance.

 A cautionary tale..
My angling friend hurt himself when his line snagged, he pulled, it stretched, snapped and propelled his weight thingy back at him. Lots of blood.
Carp 1: David 0.
He revealed his story to lessen my embarrassment, so I don’t gloat.

Why I hate angling! Imagine being pulled out with one of those in the roof of your mouth!

Forget angling. There is more than one way to be a fool.

While riding recklessly on a coastal path, County Durham way, I was snagged by a gorse, precipitated from my velo, and had my life saved by a 15 quid helmet – not a scratch on me.

At least the gorse bush prevented that leap!

Just a sunburnt nose, but that was my second idiocy.

Mick Jagger finished a track with, ‘Don’t forget, if you are out on your bike at night, wear white.’

Don’t forget, if you are cycling by the sea, it’s not your head that catches the reflected light, but your nose. Ouch!
I’m home and safe now.🐧

So, if I haven’t a scratch, how do I know I would be dead, without the helmet?

I don’t remember coming off. It happened too quickly. I remember the sound of ringing in my ears as my head in a helmet made contact with a hard-baked mud ridge that had prevented my shoulder breaking the fall. That was when I knew.

I saw a bloke, cycling on his MTB, shorts, no shirt despite the wind off the sea, no gloves, helmet, sport spectacles – just shorts. He looked at me with derision and probably ate raw turnip for breakfast.

That’s life. I’m able to live with derision (because I’m alive).

Photo by Uriel Mont on Pexels.com

William Clowes – Primitive Methodism in Hull


The community of Clowes Memorial Methodist Church, Greenwood Ave, Hull, and Hull Civic Society, put together a calendar of events to celebrate the life and work of a charismatic missionary and preacher, who was based in Hull and from there walked many miles to deliver passionate sermons across the country.

William Clowes is one of 47 influential Primitive Methodists, who are buried in Prims Corner at the now disused, Hull General Cemetery.

William and Eleanor Clowes headstone in HGC

Historical points.

  • For a century, until the Methodist Union (1932), Hull had a higher proportion of residents following Primitive Methodism than elsewhere in the country.
  • Women preachers always worked alongside men. In fact, William Clowes was invited by women to come to Hull. One of the strengths of the Prims was their acceptance of women as equals at a time when the mainstream churches resisted this.
  • Primitive Methodists set up Sunday schools and generally promoted education among the poorer population, looked after the sick and were instrumental in encouraging workers’ representation.
  • Prims’ Corner has fine monuments to wealthy businessmen such as Henry Hodge, who were determined to create a better life for the poorest and needy.
  • Their generosity and their achievements in all areas of city life left their legacy in countless and remarkable ways.
Henry Hodge memorial (HGC)

The time line below tries to give an impression of what daily life was like for the inhabitants of rapidly changing urban areas in the North of England, during the 19th century.

Progress of Primitive Methodism in Hull – William Clowes Bi-centenary
(Prims Corner at Hull General Cemetery)
Important Dates and Facts  in Hull’s History
1780 –  William Clowes born 12th March in Burslam, Staffordshire son of a local potter from the Wedgewood family.  1720 – Daniel Defoe commented that Hull was ‘exceedingly close built’.  
1800 – William Clowes marries Eleanor (Hannah?) Rogers.End of 18th cent. population 22,000
1778 – The docks were growing and the safe haven dock-extension to the river Hull, was the largest in England.
1804 – Clowes begins work in a new Hull pottery .1799 – poor relief committee was set up. It was estimated that 1 in 20 were receiving poor relief.
1804 to 07 – The American evangelist, Lorenzo Dow (1777 – 1834) preached in Cheshire. Hugh Bourne and Clowes attended meetings.Non-conformism grew – Methodism became firmly established.
1805 – 20th January. Clowes was converted. He and his wife decided to put their lives in order.Severe overcrowding in Hull – in many residences up to 12 people from 3 families said to occupy one single room.
1807 – First Camp meeting in England on Mow Cop. Clowes assisted  Bourne at the event. Some view this as the beginning of the movement.1809 – Humber Dock opened for business. ‘The Hull Dock Company’ was established to  create an entrance to the Humber.
1808 – Clowes appointed as local preacher by the Wesleyan Methodists.1829 – Princes Dock connected the rivers Hull and Humber. Built with five million bricks from town wall.
1810 – Clowes’ name was omitted from the Methodist preachers’ plan because of his association with the Bournes.1832 – Cholera outbreak in Hull, 270 deaths recorded largely in the North West of the City.
See Cholera Monument at HGC.  
1819 – 1839 For 2 decades preachers from the Hull Circuit covered more ground and secured more converts than anywhere else. (‘Fruitful Mother’)1835 – Introduction of the New Poor Law. Policy to transfer unemployed rural workers to urban areas where there was work.
1829 – Decision made for a mission to America.1832 – 1849  ‘heightened awareness of fragility of life’.
1830 – Total number of Prims in England estimated at 35,535, of which a third were in the Hull circuit.1850 – Victoria Dock opened. The first on the east side at the site of the citadel.
1830 – Prims establish a ‘Sick Visiting Association,’ funded by 330 subscribers.‘Ragged persons, starving crying children, smoking houses… the depth of human misery and degradation’ (Primitive Methodist Magazine 1827).
1844 – 46  William Clowes president of three Primitive Methodist Conferences.  1850s – ca 500 illiterate residents in Mill Street, Hull, alone.
1844 – Clowes’ Journal is published.1849 – cholera outbreak in Hull is said to have killed 1,860 inhabitants with 500 recorded in one week alone.
1851 – William Clowes dies from paralysis in Hull and is buried at Prims Corner Hull General Cemetery. Described as a ‘Burning and Shining  Light’ (George Lamb).1851 – Hull’s population 85,000.
About 30 Wesleyan and 20 Primitive chapels were built.
1850 – 1881 The number of people attending  Anglican services in Hull increased  only by 12%, whereas Wesleyan  Methodist numbers rose by 54% and Primitive Methodists by 75%.1856 – The Mission to Seamen was founded as a denominated society with Anglican outlook. Ministers went on board and cared for spiritual as well as physical wellbeing of crew members.
 1852 – Hugh Bourne dies.1854 – ‘North and South’ by E. Gaskell is published.
1851 – Nearly 30 Wesleyan and about 20 Primitive chapels were either built or taken over.
1881 – The fourteen Prim chapels in Hull can accommodate 12,650.1871 – Hull’s population 130,426.
George Lamb (1809 – 1886, buried at Prims Corner HGC) sets up Hull School Board.1885 – Alexandra Dock built in 24/7 shifts; (5000 navvies live as lodgers in Hull).
An early Siemens lighting system enabled an unprecedented 24-hour working approach.
1889 Henry Hodge dies (b 1813).
– Seed crusher and oil miller.
– Builder of chapels.
– Buried in Prims Corner.
The ‘Friends of HGC’ are in regular contact with his descendent.
 
1892 Parkinson Milson (b. 1825) dies and is buried in HGC. He was a renowned Prim minister.
1891 – Hull’s population 199,135.
– Over 1700 men listed as either shipbuilders or shipwrights.
– The newly formed Hull Brewery Company owned 160 licensed premises.
1900 – James Charlesworth (b.1847) died and buried in HGC.
1920 – ‘100 years of Primitive Methodism’ conference in Hull (see cover sheet in Englesea museum).

1932 – Methodist Union takes place in London – Albert Hall. The Wesleyan, Primitive and United Methodists adopted the Deed of Union.

Parkinson Milson headstone (HGC)

What this time line does not show, is the industrial pollution and smoke, the squalor and the cramped conditions breeding disease.

Many agricultural workers arrived in towns and cities to find work and brought their farm animals with them.

Hull was also overcrowded with –

  • Irish building workers, who lived as lodgers among the local community.
  • Sailors from across the world, who had to wait 3 weeks while their ship unloaded, due to lack of mooring space.
  • Large numbers of migrants come from the European continent. Famines and political turmoil drove 2.5 million German speakers alone, to find a better life elsewhere. Most travelled via Hull to America, but a significant number stayed (e.g. Hohenreins).

In 1809, waits of 17 days for a berth were possible. Dock capacity increased during the 19th century, but this meant many months of huge building sites in the centre of the city.

2019 was the bicentenary of William Clowes and his compatriots beginning two decades of preaching across the country. The records of the men and women buried in Prims Corner should remind us that in Hull and in other Primitive Methodist communities around the world there is a history, which cannot be found in textbooks, but would bring us closer to the real past.

Charlesworth headstones (HGC)

As Hilary Mantel says: ‘History is not the past, it is the method we have evolved of organising the past’ (1st Reith lecture 2018).

Eva La Pensée – Edited May 2021

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