Thursday, September 14, 2006


The following exercise emanates from a random news item selected at a recent Clifton Creative Writers Group meeting.

The news item was as follows:
China-Tibet Train Derailed
One of China's new trains to Tibet, the world's highest railway, has been derailed disrupting the line for five hours and delaying thousands of passengers.

I stood stunned and shaken beside the stationary train, on a piece of earth I would never have otherwise touched.

The train had literally come off its tracks. Chooks, ducks, pigs, straw baskets and passengers had hurtled around. We – the pigs and the passengers – had screamed as one.

As it became quiet and all motion ceased, we realised that we were mainly unhurt and we clambered out, over people and animals, and stood looking at the train in disbelief. It hung out over a precipice, one of the deepest in Tibet, precariously balanced. Help, we knew, was a long way and a long time away.
Within a remarkedly short time the mainly peasant people travelling on the new rail journey from China to Tibet had set up little fires beside the track, heating metal pots of tea, laid colourful rugs on the stoney ground on which babies were placed to sleep and started cooking. Blue smoke from the fires arose for as far as I could see around the bend.

No official came along the line to tell us anything. I felt – apart from the shiny train and the recently laid tracks – that I had stepped back in time. These self sufficient people were cooking, eating and drinking, sharing their few small comforts with each other, as if they were safely in their own village square.
Chooks wandered and pecked, occasionally a child chased a squealing pig. People smiled and bowed and invited those without food or drink to share.
I stood and looked out over the boundless mountains, stretching away, range after range. I felt the cold chill of the air and noted the lengthening shadows. What would we do when night fell? The train was obviously uninhabitable – one slight move and it appeared that it would tip over the edge and disappear into the deep blue chasm below.

I found to my surprise that I still had my camera slung over my shoulder. I trusted these people pretty well, but I liked to keep my precious camera close so as not to tempt anyone. A quick check – it appeared to be fine and I stood in this remote, gorgeous and barren place and took my photographs – the little groups of people, the valleys and mountains and the long curve of the derailed train.
As I sipped a little bowl of tea handed gently to me by a smiling old lady – about my own age I would guess – I took a deep breath and felt so keenly the thrill of being alive, of being in this unexpected place and of the miracle of life and what it brings.

© Nelma Ward

Monday, September 11, 2006

LUCKY DAY by Nelma Ward

I’m small and furry, quite elegant really, but that’s not going to allow me to inherit the earth. Those big galumphing reptiles have the upper hand there. Awful things they are, taking over, eating us out of house and home, and eating us too if they have the chance. You need to be very careful when you go out or you’ll find yourself stood upon with one of those great big squashing feet, or picked up by a head on a long neck and thrown around enough to make you dizzy before they chomp you down.

Of course there are some smaller reptiles as well, and they’re a bit easier to live with. Crocodiles and so on, I don’t mind them, and then there’s the insects. Cockroaches I don’t particularly like, but they’re so small that the dinosaurs will probably be able to vacuum them up somehow and get rid of them for once and for all one day.

Its quite a nice earth too. I wouldn’t mind inheriting it really. Green forests, and bright sunlight. We little creatures don’t have a chance really. We generally don’t eat each other – well, the sabre toothed tigers do, but with teeth like that, you might as well bite into something a bit solid. I like my little shoots and the tiny berries. But then, as I said, I am very small, and very elegant.

I’ve been noticing, though, a funny glow in the sky. To me it appears to be getting bigger every day. Like a second sun. Funny thing, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough what it is. Not that the dinosaurs seem worried. They just keep stomping around, making awful noises and eating everything in their path. I think they have a brain about the size of a pea if the truth be told. We couldn’t get rid of them if we tried, although occasionally I do see one – stupid thing – that’s fallen over a cliff, lying there at the bottom, legs stuck up in the air, and I think, thank goodness for that.


Well, we’ve finally emerged again. That second sun thing certainly made one hell of a thump when it hit. We little things had time to run and hide of course. I had to live in a hole for quite some time, and my fur got a bit singed, but its growing out nicely now. Anyway, when we came out all the dinosaurs were gone. Just us little things – mammals, we’re called – left. I think perhaps we are going to inherit the earth! Oh, happy day when that thing hit – what a stroke of luck.

© Nelma Ward