Back in the Great Midwest

Well, I survived the flight here, the six hour wait at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, the three hour flight to Reykjavik in Iceland, the mad dash from one plane to the other and then the six hour flight to Minneapolis/St Paul. With a head full of anticipation, sleep wasn’t really an option on the flights. Besides, there were three youngsters behind me who were only too happy to try my patience.

Thick cloud cover prevented me from seeing much of Canada, although as we flew in over Lake Superior, they fell apart and America fell away below me. The flooding your State has experienced was clear to see, the Mississippi River swelling out across the land.

I was so happy to be on solid ground, so happy to go through customs, to enter America and to begin my six promotional weeks here. Rosie was waiting for me as planned and once I had loaded everything into the car, we set off for Litchfield. It crossed my mind once in the car that had security checked my luggage on entering America; I might well have had a little explaining to do. I wasn’t transporting anything illegal, am not a smut peddler, dope dealer or even a heavy drinker.

My case was full of costumes. Can you imagine a security officer’s face had he/she opened the case? Inside were twenty-two gray mice costumes, five brown mice costumes, a cat and a crow costume. I would have had fun explaining that one. Like I said, I had absolutely nothing illegal with me; although I am sure the contents of my case would have raised an eyebrow or two.

             ( William Gray stage costumes arrive with Gavin from Sweden… here they are  washing and drying on the outside clothes line in America for the production in July! )

On the way home from the airport we saw a snapping turtle resting in the middle of the street and I just had to pull it to safety. Last year I rescued a painted turtle. Painted turtles are really pretty to look at…snapping turtles, not so much. It was my good deed for the day though.

The problem with such long journeys and such prolonged lack of sleep is the way in which the mind plays games with the weary mind. I went to bed at 9 pm, which was actually 4 am in my head. Then I was up and 4 am, which was actually 11 am for me. That was two days ago and I am back to normal today. I think I have to thank Rosie for a couple of good, American breakfasts for that. My jet lag is over and I am ready to get on and reach for new horizons.

Until next time

Gavin

 

Who?

Welcome spring weather with the start of Daylight Savings today, Sunday, March 11th.

Daylight saving time is the practice of advancing clocks forward by one hour in the spring to gain additional daylight during the early evening. I have noticed that with more sunlight and warmer weather people appear to be happier.  They seem to smile brighter when you meet them on the street.

Today, I am sharing one of Gavin’s poems that he first read to me in 1998. This poem has always made my smile and faith glow bright; no matter what time of the year it is.

Who?

By Gavin Hill

Who made the flowers?

And who made the trees?

The April showers?

And bumble bees?

Who made the sun?

And who made the rain?

Who gave us love?

And who gave us pain?

Who made the stars?

And who made the moon?

Who gave us December?

And who gave us June?

Who gave us autumn?

And who gave us spring?

Who made the sky?

And birds that sing?

Who made the woman?

And who made the man?

Who gave us the power, to understand?

Who gives us the strength, to carry on?

And who has the right to destroy all that’s been done?

May God bless all of your days, Rosie and Gavin

 

Things Can Only Get Better

After the 2010 fiasco, 2011 turned out much better. Mind you, once bitten, twice shy. On Thursday 23rd June, last year, a good friend drove me to Landvetta Airport. Once I was checked in, we took a coffee and a light breakfast, my head still buzzing with wild thoughts of possibly not getting to America. We had a good hour to waste, just chatting about life, about getting to America, about the year before, two strikes and out. In time we said our goodbyes; he wished me well and hoped he wouldn’t have to pick me up the following day. I watched him leave, the lump that had rested like a golf ball in my throat since climbing out of bed that morning, now falling like a chunk of lead to my stomach. I really wanted to savor the moment, to enjoy every moment of the journey ahead of me. I couldn’t though, not really.

I waited for my flight to Arlanda, Stockholm, paced slowly up and down until boarding time arrived. The idea of flight fascinates me, so much weight, lifting into the air with ease is quite incredible. It took no more than forty-five minutes across the country from west to east. Once off the plane, I headed for the nearest coffee bar; seated myself in exactly the same chair as I had done just one year ago. The coffee smelled divine, an intoxicating aroma lifting to tantalize my taste buds. People passed by, a seemingly endless stream of various nationalities and briefcases, suitcases, backpacks with little flags of the countries visited, stitched on them. I saw an American flag and wondered if God was having a little fun with me. It wouldn’t be the first time. I had a three hour flight ahead of me, a flight I had also made just one year ago. That’s where my American dream ended, I prayed so hard, this year wouldn’t be the same.

Coffee gone, I headed for the departure lounge, a lounge that dwarfed the lounge back at Landvetta. I took a look around, contemplated buying something and then gave up on the idea. Just as I was finding myself a place to rest, I inadvertently bumped into a man. He looked at me and I looked at him. It was a face I recognized. During my early teens, I had gone through a punk rock faze, just one of the many fazes I went through. The man smiled and I found myself saying, “Alright, John! No worries; mate.” John Lydon, aka, Johnny Rotten of the infamous, Sex Pistols had been one of my heroes in years gone by. We seated ourselves and chatted away a good thirty minutes. I told him I was an author and was heading west. He was heading east, was going to do a benefit gig in St. Petersburg, Russia.

An hour later, I was sitting on a plane to Keflavik, International Airport. I had made it this far back in 2010, so I wasn’t too concerned. For the first time since waking up that morning, I found I was able to relax. I had a window seat and a great view of the world beyond my little circular window. Flying over Iceland was truly amazing, glaciers and mountains rising up out of the ocean. Keflavik on the other hand, is flat. It felt like I was landing on the moon, a lunar landscape spreading out before me. The airport was packed, a single, seething mass of humanity, all hustling and bustling, all eager to get somewhere. I couldn’t help but wonder where. I booked in and then headed for the departure lounge. I had made it this far before, although not further. I tapped my passport firmly against the palm of my left hand, studied the little chip, embedded into its front cover. In some obscure way, I felt like a criminal, felt watched; could feel beads of cold sweat on my brow. Would this passport take me to America, surely it would! Like I have already said, once bitten, twice shy.

Continuation yet to come … Gavin

The Homeless and Down Trodden

Have you ever walked down your local main street on your way home from work or school, leaving your door to swing shut behind you, the cold battling on outside, without regard? Have you ever thought about the homeless and downtrodden, the ones who can’t swing a door shut and leave the cold outside? It seems to me, it is all too easy to pass these people by without a second glance, all too easy to forget about the homeless and down trodden.

It is half past eight, a Saturday, during summertime. The sun rests; blood red against cotton candy clouds. The streets are alive with happy voices and the bars are full to the point of overflowing. The young are busy finding new loves and money is sweeping away to the tune of yet another beer. Where are the homeless and down trodden then? The stands along the main street are chattering with loose change and a pretty teenager passes by with a bucket of red roses. Several groups of youths are resting, sprawled out in the park with a six pack and a packet of cigarettes. The cinema projectors are spinning around, film stars gracing silver screens. Where are the homeless and down trodden then? A bus comes to a halt and people climb off. Neon lights flash and an invitation to a new pizza bar blows along a dusty, pavement before a passing foot comes down on it. A night club door swings open, a ding-dong beat wiring into a fast darkening sky. A guard stands at that door, checking identification and welcoming guests. But where are the homeless and down trodden then?

The sad truth is that life goes on regardless of the homeless and down trodden. The wheels of time turn and the fires of ignorance burn on. There are many questions to ask, many important questions that so desperately need answering. One of them would be, how did it happen? The homeless and down trodden haven’t always been homeless and down trodden, weren’t born to live as beggars and scavengers, the hyenas and vultures of this human savannah. Somewhere along the line, things just went terribly wrong. For some reason, the ugly head of despair rose up and devoured these individuals. That head doesn’t see color or creed, doesn’t see beauty or intelligence. It is indifferent. It’s a dog eat dog world out there.

But, remember just one thing when you walk down your local main street on your way home from work or school. Remember just one thing when you let your door swing shut behind you, the cold battling on outside, without regard. Remember that the old man on the stone, steps with his dirty clothes and broken stare, probably has children somewhere. Remember that the youngster huddled in the corner with a pile of old newspapers as a pillow, probably has a family somewhere, a mother, a father, a brother and a sister. Remember that we all came from somewhere and we are all going somewhere. Remember that life isn’t always as stable as we would like it to be, that around every corner, there waits an ugly head of despair. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and you never know… maybe, just maybe you are next in line. I hope and pray that day never arrives.

Have a nice day, now and check out my newly revised author web site by clicking on my name  Gavin Hill

 

 

Uniquely Special

The greatest gift a woman can give a man is a child; surely there can be no greater gift. I remember so well the birth of my son, almost sixteen years ago; remember the anticipation, the longing to hold that tiny, bundle of joy. I remember trying my best to comfort his mother, remember her squeezing my hand with brute strength; I almost feared her fingers would sink through flesh and bone. My son was born on May 1st, 1996. He was a tiny, little thing, pinkish red and somewhat like Freddy Krueger to look at. Yet he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I wasn’t allowed to hold him straight away of course, but I was able to gaze down on him. Tears of joy crossed my cheek and I knew that from that moment onward, my life would never be the same again. His name is Mick and he is the light of my life. In the year 2000, his Mother and I broke up. Mick moved home with me. Not many men get to see their children grow up as I did, unless of course, they remain married. I got to play with my son, to wipe his tears when he fell over, got to take him to kindergarten, got to watch him grow, to begin school. I got to help him with homework. He’s a bright kid, good at school. He hands his homework in on time, does as he is told, is kind and respectful toward others…is wonderful. I’ve been lucky. You think I’m lucky to have been able to see my son grow up? Well, I have been. There’s more to it than that though.

I work at a school for kids with special needs; meet special needs kids and parents of special needs kids, pretty much every day. I love my job and I love these kids. Some of them have Asperger’s Syndrome; some have ADD or ADHD, others are autistic. The list goes on. These kids struggle day in and day out for acceptance, struggle with numbers, letters, learning to tell the time, learning to get by in a world where many see them as far too different to be normal. They are different, of course they are different. They are unique, but then so are you and I. Many of these wonderful, unique kids lack social skills and have been ostracized because of it. The parents of special needs kids don’t have it easy either. They knew something was wrong far before their child was diagnosed. They don’t love their kids less; they love their kids as much, if not more than some other parents might. They understand what these kids have been through, are going through and will carry on going through. If my son had been a special needs kid, I wouldn’t love him less, if he couldn’t read, write or tell the time, I wouldn’t feel ashamed of him. I would love him unconditionally. Of course, knowing he can read, write and tell the time, knowing he has social skills, friends and a good education that will lead him to a good job in the future, is great news for me. But it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that I love my son no matter what.

I think what upsets me the most though, is the way these kids are treated, not only by other kids, but by adults as well. They didn’t ask to have their lives turned upside down, didn’t ask to be frowned upon because they don’t fit into some ‘standard’ norm. They didn’t ask for any of this. Sometimes I take long walks with my students, see how people look at them. I hate that! When other kids do it, it’s bad enough, but when adults do it…well, that just rocks my boat! There is no greater gift than the gift of a child and without children, there will be no human life. My heart goes out to all these wonderful, unique kids all over the world and to their parents, who love them without condition, no matter what.

Have a good day, now    Gavin

Together via Skype

Gavin and I have found when life gives you lemons that making lemonade is very good advice.  You go forward even when obstacles cross your path. You find strength to persevere.  As you read in my posts, Silence Parts 1 and 2, real life intervened and Gavin didn’t arrive on America soil in 2010.  This was a major obstacle to holding author events and interviews that were scheduled.  Our plans to promote Gavin’s novels and for him to meet and speak to America somehow had to happen.  We were not going to cancel any author events, newspaper or radio interviews.  We went full steam ahead with a plan that would indeed deliver Gavin to his fans. Wheels were set in motion.

On the docket first was the radio interview.  I got to the station early. I soon discovered it wasn’t a taped broadcast but live.  A part of me wanted to run out the door and take the first flight to Sweden but running away isn’t my style. I had to conquer my fear immediately. I gathered strength from within and took many deep breaths. The announcer said, “Live in two minutes.”   Enthusiastically, I told the listening audience that I would be bringing America to Sweden; to meet author Gavin Hill in a unique format called Skype, which is a free video calling service where people communicate face-to-face via webcams.  The radio announcer was intrigued and in awe that this would be the first Skype event for our community. The live interview was a huge success.

That same afternoon the newspaper editor arrived at my home. I had a surprise for him. He had not heard the radio interview and thought he was meeting Gavin in person.  He did but in a different way.  I had Gavin waiting on Skype in Sweden. The interview was fantastic and lasted one and half hours. It was the first time for the editor to be part of a Skype experience and only the second time, Gavin and I had used Skype to communicate with each other.  Our first Skype encounter had been the previous day in our homes. It was like a fairy tale as we both were able to see each other’s face for the first time after waiting fifteen years. It was surreal.  Seeing the man of my dreams for the first time is something I will always hold deep in my heart. There was a screen between us but the eye contact was that of fireworks lighting up the sky on the 4th of July!

The day of the library Skype event arrived.  Gavin was set up in Sweden at a cinema.  I   had arranged connections at our local library.  I am not a technical person but all and all everything went off without a hitch. When the clock struck 7 p.m. central time and 2 a.m. Sweden time, Gavin appeared on the big screen in America and my heart was never so happy. Three media people were in attendance along with a room full of enthralled fans and friends. You never would have known it was the middle of the night for Gavin. He was alert and thrilled to see his American guests. Gavin is a gifted author-motivational speaker. He speaks about surviving his interesting life from childhood to adulthood, his novels, and anti-bullying issues.  The audience inter-action was tremendous. It was a night no one in attendance would soon forget.  Within days,Gavin and I were featured on two front page newspapers.  Headlines of two internet pen pals, two countries apart,hold out hope that after fifteen years of friendship they may actually one day meet face-to-face.

Many circumstances in life are difficult to understand.  Learn from them, go forward with courage,don’t give up and make them all “super calafragalisticexpealadocious” moments in time!

Until next time,   Rosie

 

Just Shooting the Breeze

I’m sitting in a quaint, little coffee shop; watching hoards of people go by. The waft of freshly brewed coffee is lifting all about me, mixing easily with the various fragrances of teas from around the world, and a wide assortment of newly baked, sugary delights. It’s bitter cold outside, the snow that fell at least two months ago, now just one, solid sheet of frozen ice. People are going by, waddling like ducks, afraid to lift their feet as they walk, for fear of tumbling to the ice below and breaking a bone or two. It’s a winter jacket-jungle out there, a never ending rainbow of gaudy, wooly hats, of brightly colored scarves and mittens, of winters boots and thermal pants. I must admit, I’m happy to be sitting on the inside, looking out, in preference to the other way around. I guess if I was sitting in jail, I wouldn’t see the funny side of that statement.

I’m sitting here with my computer and the strongest cup of coffee I can buy. I’m sure it can’t be good for me. Okay, I admit it; I’m a coffee addict… piping hot coffee, no milk and no sugar, just the raw deal. I’ve always been simple that way. I have a relaxed outlook on life, am not into the latest fashion, latest music, latest trends; am into what I am into at the time. I guess I’m a little old school when it comes down to it. Give me a pint and some good ole Rock ‘n’ Roll any day. A chair is a chair and a table is a table. A jacket is a jacket and a pair of pants is a pair of pants. Okay, so I’m pretty black and white at times. I might not be tomorrow though. Tomorrow I might be deep and full of color. Tomorrow I might sit here and shoot the breeze about any number of things. In fact, I think I will. You do realize, tomorrow is two days away for you guys? Two days until you read, one day until I write and all of a sudden, I know exactly what I’m going to write about.

So until your day after tomorrow and my tomorrow; take care and whatever you’re going to do, have fun doing it.

Your friend

Gavin

And they said it was easy

Yesterday I posted, Artistic Freedom. Since posting it, I have done some soul searching. Throughout history, blood has bathed the battlefields of the earth, people have died at the hands of people; people have crossed oceans with weapons in hand. On June 4th, 1940, Sir Winston Churchill penned these words: We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air; we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.


War is a dirty game. It leaves children without mothers and fathers, mothers and fathers without children. It leaves sisters without brothers, brothers without sisters. Here is a poem I wrote many years ago. I hope it will prove my point.

And they said it was easy

They said it was easy,
just have to aim a gun,
said it’s all for your country,
you can go to war
no matter what you’ve done.
Make your family proud,
hold your head up high,
be a national hero,
they never told him
he was there to die.
So he went off to war,
just seventeen years old,
and he died where he fell,
pushed out in the cold.
And they said it was easy,
just have to aim a gun,
said it’s all for your country,
you can go to war
no matter what you’ve done.
Never told the reasons why
as bodies lay upon the battlefield
to painfully die,
I swear and hear the angels sigh.
No reasons ever given
and I guess they never will,
become cold and emotionless,
living just to kill.

Before I go, I would just like to leave you with these words. They were also penned by Sir Winston Churchill. It doesn’t matter who wrote them though. What matters is that they were written.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Bye for now …  Gavin Hill

Artistic Freedom

Imagine a world where everybody is white, everybody has blue eyes and blond hair. Imagine a world where everybody has a pair of shiny, black shoes, a pair of black pants, a white shirt and a red tie. Imagine a world where everybody drives a sickly green, Volvo, reads exactly the same book, newspaper, watches exactly the same tedious, television program. Imagine a world where everybody heads for exactly the same holiday destination, at precisely the same time. Imagine a world where everybody eats the same food, drinks the same drink, listens to the same music, laughs at the same boring, old joke. Imagine a world where everybody goes to bed at 9 p.m., sleeps and wakes up at 6 a.m., begins work at 9 a.m., finishes again at 5 p.m., comes home to rest, eat, watch that same tedious, television program, shower, clean their teeth and say goodnight between 8:30 p.m. and 8:55 p.m. so they can be in bed again by 9 p.m.

Imagine a world where the Government knows everything about you, has your life intricately mapped out from birth to present, knows exactly where you are, each and every second of the day. Imagine a world where the Government has full control of every aspect of your life. Secret eyes deviously follow your every move like shadows in the close of day; study the monotony of your daily routine, ready to pounce with weapons of destruction, should you unexpectedly have a thought of your own. Imagine one nation; one currency, one religion; one belief. Imagine no birthdays, no Easter, no Christmas, no childish laughter, nothing. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that.

On September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany. We all know the outcome of World War 2 and we all know that without an American intervention, Germany could well have won the war. Had that been the case, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, writing to you with my super strong coffee by my side. On December 7th, 1942, everything changed. It is estimated that around seventy-two million people died during World War 2, twenty-five million being Military related. Eleven million Jews were put to death. It’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like. Those human beings being sent to their deaths, being forced to work and to die in concentration camps. It’s hard to imagine the fear within the eyes of those brave soldiers, who fought so hard for our freedom. The sacrifices they made must never be forgotten!

Because of their sacrifice, I can sit here with you. My coffee is black and strong enough to put hairs on any chest. I can choose my religion, can choose my clothing; can choose what books to read, newspapers to read, programs to watch. I can choose my way of life. I am a free man, free because of an immeasurable sacrifice. I am free to write as I feel fit. I have artistic freedom.

Gavin Hill

Words

If a picture paints a thousand words, how many pictures will ten thousand words paint? Twenty-six letters, arranged in such a way, we can spell the words we speak. The Swedish alphabet has twenty-nine letters. In the Russian alphabet there are thirty-three and in the Chinese, there are far more. The letters we use to form words today would without a doubt, look rather peculiar to our distant ancestors. The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphs to record their fascinating history, prehistoric man painted pictures on cave walls. Oxford theologian, John Wycliffe, produced the first hand-written, Bible manuscripts back in the 1380’s. Seventy years later, the Bible went into print for the very first time. Since then, countless books have been written, endless manuscripts, poems, song texts and amazing stories spun across limitless pages. Without words, our history would be lost. William Shakespeare’s, Othello, Hamlet and Comedy of Errors would have faded with his bones. Edgar Allan Poe would never have been able to give us, The Raven, nor Steven King, The Shining or J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter.

At the age of fifteen, I could neither read nor write. I was out of school and without a job. I was going nowhere fast, had no direction and worst of all, I had no goals and no desires to better myself. I was in a bad place and I really couldn’t see things getting any better. I met a young man though, a young man who actually believed in me. He was a singer/songwriter. He asked me to write a poem. I was obviously somewhat reluctant, too afraid to even contemplate putting pen to paper. He wasn’t to be dissuaded though and eventually, I did as he asked. He could barely fathom a single word I had written, but still, he didn’t give up. Together, we translated the poem from my spider-like scribble to words he could work with. He was impressed. I was amazed. I wonder where that man is today. We soon lost contact and I moved on. That day changed my life forever, put me on the path to where I am today, so many years later. Words became my passion and my love affair with writing, is as absolute today as it was the first time I fell in love with it. Letters, placed together in a specific order to create syllables. Syllables, placed together to create words and words, placed together to create sentences. Beautiful sentences, syllable after syllable, word after word; sentence after sentence…it’s astonishing.

It took me a long time to learn to spell, but I even figured that out in the end. I was almost sixteen when I began writing my first book. The spelling was terrible though. It was a computer that saved me, that corrected the spelling mistakes for me. One book became two, two became three. I have now written seventeen books, hundreds of poems, several theatre manuscripts and song texts. The Maze, The Blood Tree and The Changling are now published. The Watchman is due for release later this year. Reflections Upon the Waters of Life, the work of both Rosie and myself, was released just two weeks ago.    

 

 

Now here I am, sitting here, writing to you. I wouldn’t be here without words though, wouldn’t be the man I am today.  So, if a picture paints a thousand words, how many pictures will ten thousand words paint?

We all have dreams, aspirations, goals in life, even if we don’t know it just yet. I found my dreams in words, but you may find them in any number of things. Whatever your dreams are, don’t be afraid to reach for them, to hold them, to embrace them. Life is an amazing journey and we are all on it, together. So never give up.        By Gavin Hill

Gavin Hill  (click my name to go to my website to get more information on my novels,The Maze, The Blood Tree, The Changling, The Watchman and children’s story/musical (anti-bullying CD)William Gray and the Family Next Door  and  book, Reflections Upon the Waters of Life)