Writing Instruments

Fountain Pen Set

The Fountain Pen:  The idea of writing instruments designed to carry their own ink supply had been a theoretical idea, but it was not until the beginning of the 1700’s, that the theory was being put into practice.

The first fountain pen was designed by M.Bion a Frenchman in 1702, but it was more than a 100 years later in 1809. When American Peregrin Williamson, patented his design in 1809.

John Scheffer obtained a British patent for his design of 1819, for his idea of a half quill – half metal pen.

Then in 1831 John Jacob Parker patented his design of a self-filling pen, but it was the design of Lewis Waterman, who patented the first practical fountain pen in 1884.

If it had not been for early fountain-pen inventors; using the hollow channel of a birds feather to create an ink reservoir, to replace the constant use of dipping into an ink well. The Romans created a reed style of pen, from the hollow tubular-stems of marsh grasses. By cutting one end to create a nib or point, with which to write with, they filled the stem with ink, and squeezed the stems, thus forcing the fluid into the nib. We would never have started a creative revolution in the design of new pens. Another design was to use a reservoir made of hard rubber, and fit a metal nib at the bottom. Unfortunately this did not have the required effect of producing a smooth writing instrument.

It was Lewis Waterman an insurance salesman, who was inspired to improve upon the early fountain-pen design, by adding an air hole in the nib, and three grooves into the feed mechanism.  His mechanism consisted of the nib, which made contact with the paper, a feed to control ink flow.  The aim of the barrel was to hold the nib, protect the reservoir, which in turn the writer holds.

By now we had reached a stage in pen designs, where they all contained some form of internal reservoir to hold ink.

The pens would have an internal reservoir, which would consist of a self-filling rubber sack, opened at one end.  To fill with ink, the reservoir was squeezed by using an internal plate, and then the pen’s nib inserted into the ink.  As pressure was released so the reservoir would fill up.

The period between the late 1800’s through to the mid 1900’s, saw a battle as pen companies, each sought to become the brand leader in reservoir pen designs.  The earliest known design of that time would be the Eyedropper, which had no internal filling mechanism.  Most open by unscrewing a section of the pen, after which the barrel is filled with ink using an eyedropper.  As long as the seal was tight, no ink should leak out.

Parker introduced the Button Filler, which had an external button connected to the internal pressure plate.  Then Walter Sheaffer responded by designing the Lever Filler, a slight variation on the Button Filler, for it used an external lever, that fitted flush with the pen.  Back came Parker, not to be outdone, with their Click Filler, using two protruding tabs, to deflate reservoir, and they clicked when reservoir was full.  Then Waterman introduced the Coin Filler, with slot in barrel, and by use of a coin, one could deflate and fill reservoir.

Other companies came up with their own variations on the main design, but the main companies of that time and still in existence to this day are: Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman.

Some of the early inks were known to corrode the steel nib tips, which led to the introduction of a gold tip.  However, gold also had its problems; it was too soft, for the purpose of writing.  To overcome this design flaw, they used Iridium (A hard yellow-white chemical element that occurs in platinum ores) on the tip of the nib.

Early nibs were available in straight, oblique and italic designs.  As the years went by, and the need to communicate grew, so did the demand in pens, and a larger selection of pen nibs; wider, longer and shaped.

Everything changed in the early 1950’s, with the introduction of a new range of fountain pens, without the need of a reservoir.  They would revolutise the design for the future.

The reservoir had gone, to be replaced with a disposable ink cartridge, originally made of glass, then later of a rubbery plastic.  When they arrived on the scene, they were an immediate success … sixty years on and they are still going.

Ballpoint Pens - Wikipedia

The Ballpoint Pen:  Laszlo Biro a Hungarian journalist, observed newspaper ink dried quickly, and was smudge free.  His creative juices were activated, and by 1938 he had invented the first Ballpoint pen.

The thicker ink used for newspapers would not flow unaided, which led to a small ball-bearing being fitted to the pens tip.  The idea was, as the ball rotated it collected ink from the reservoir and placed it on the paper.  So simple, yet so clever.

In 1940, Laszlo Biro and his brother George emigrated to Argentina, and applied for a new patent in 1943, and sold licensing rights to the British, as the Royal Air Force needed a pen that would not leak at high altitudes.  The success of this pen brought it to the forefront of pen design.

Laszlo and George Biro went on to form the Eterpen Company and commercialised the Biro pen, which was hailed as an ultimate success.  One of its main advantages was that it only needed re-filling once a year.

The Biro brothers neglected to apply for a U.S.Patent.  As World War Two was coming to an end, so a new battle was just starting: The Battle of The Ballpoint Pens.

For it was in May 1945, the Eversharp Company joined forces with Eberhand – Faber acquiring Biro Pens of Argentina and rebranded the product as Eversharp CA (Capillary Action).

Milton Reynolds saw the Biro Pen whilst in Buenos Aires, and returned to America with a few of them.  By October 1945, Reynolds had copied the Biro design, thus breaking Eversharp’s patent rights, and started the Reynolds Pen Company.  The release of this pen was an overwhelming success.  It was released on the 29th October 1945 priced at $12.50 and went on to sell $100,000 worth on the first day.

Eversharp sued Reynolds for breach of patent rights.

By December 1945, England’s Miles-Martin Pen Company had stepped in releasing their own design of the Biro Pen.

Advertisers claimed these pens would write for two years before the need to refill.  Sales rocketed, but it was not long before problems arose; some leaked, some worked some of the time, and others were known to fail all together.

The consumer was dis-satisfied with the ballpoint pen, and sales nose dived, and by 1951, the ballpoint pen died a consumer’s death.

In January 1954, Parker Pens tossed their hat into the ring, by introducing their version of the Ballpoint Pen, known as the Jotter, which worked, so the battle for the ballpoint pen had been won.  Then in 1957 they introduced a tungsten carbide textured ball bearing in their pens.

A French Baron named Bich, removed the h from his name, and started the BIC Pen Company in the 1950’s, and by the end of the 50’s had acquired 70% of the European market.

By 1958, BIC a major player in the pen market had acquired 60% of Waterman Pens and by 1960 owned Waterman Pens outright.

BIC Ballpoint Pen Company dominates the market, selling cheap pens, whilst the likes of Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman sell the expensive Ballpoint Pens.

Pencils Rubbers Sharpeners

The Pencil:  In 1564, in an area of Seat Waite Valley in Borrow Dale, England; Graphite which is a form of carbon was discovered, and so the first pencils were produced.

The main break through into the world of pencil technology came in 1795, when French chemist, Nicolas Conte used a mixture of fired clay and graphite before housing it in a wooden case.

Pencils got their name from the old English word meaning ‘brush’.  Conte’s method of Kiln firing powdered graphite and clay allowed pencils to be made to any hardness or softness.  The variations have changed over the years: H – 2H – 3H – HB – B – 2B – 3B and so the list goes on.

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Birth of Writing

Cave Painting

Cave Man – Paintings

When we look around to-day, at how things are, and how much our daily lives rely on the art of writing.  We have to wonder how difficult it must have been in those early times, before writing and the alphabet came into existence.

Primitive man, a nomadic race of people, whom we are descended from, lived on this world of ours some 30,000 or more years ago.  They left their story for future inhabitants to find, on the walls of caves, made up of pictures and symbols, cut into stone using shaped stone tools and bones, often coloured by natural dyes.

They moved around, following herds of animals; as their food moved, so did they.  Only when they became less nomadic in their lifestyle, and learnt to cultivate crops and raise herds of cattle, would some form of early language develop… the first steps in communication.  So the evolution of man had started; pictures to symbols and symbols to letters as the alphabet was developed.

When I think back to my early years, and being taught how to write, creating my first o then adding a side line and a tail to the right and creating an a.  It must have been a thrill to those men of learning who went on and created the very first alphabet.

They produced an early form of writing instrument, made out of stone, and sharpened, so they could scratch Rock Art pictures on the walls of caves and dwellings.  It could be anything from, family life, their offspring, crops and victories with cave men or animals.

With the discovery of clay, early traders were able to record details of their trading using clay tokens with pictographs.

Writing forms started out in 3500 BC, when the Sumerians, created their own unique style of Pictograms, which consisted of people or objects.  They found they needed more forms of images to express their meaning, which led to the Ideogram.  In time these symbols represented a word; Logograms.

An example of the changes:  You had four people, standing by a camel.  Instead of showing four separate images for each person and one for the camel, this would be replaced by an image of a single person and the sign indicating four, plus the camel image.

Sumerian Cuneiform

Sumerian Cuneiform

The Sumerians used a wedge-shaped tool, made from reed, to press signs into clay tablets they had developed.  This new writing system was called Cuneiform (Wedge-Shaped).

From these humble beginnings, they developed images to represent sounds, so as to create a record in their own spoken language.  Sounds equalled specific images, once achieved they took it a step further, and recorded for history, works of literature.

In 668-627 BC the Assyrian King; Ashurbanipal had libraries containing such works as the “Epic of Gilgamesh.”

The cuneiform writing system spread through the middle east, during its 3,000 year history, writing the sounds as used by many countries and their languages.  Which included Babylonian, Assyrian, Elamite and Hittite, just some of the fifteen, who used this system of writing.

An early writing system was in its early stages of creation on the island of Crete in 3000 BC.  By 2000 BC they had developed the phonogram-syllabic script.

Therefore all the indications were there, the Greeks possessed a writing system.  Sadly their culture, their lifestyle was destroyed by Dorian invaders around 1100 BC.

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, were discovered in 1988 by Gunter Dreyer the archaeologist at Abydos, south of Cairo.  Inscriptions were found upon; pottery, bones, tombs and clay seals.  Radiocarbon analysis performed on the finds, deduced they dated between 3400 and 3200 BC which would make them one of the oldest, if not the oldest example of Egyptian writing known to exist.  Some of the Hieroglyphs used in Egypt, were similar to the cuneiform, that they referred to objects or had their links to sounds.  Many are used by royalty and deity, as can be seen in the Valley of the Kings, where many Pharaoh’s have their pyramids and burial chambers.

The word hieroglyph, is Greek in origin, and comes from the word hieros, and if we follow the route of the word it means sacred and carved stone.

Other types of scripts were developed by the Egyptians; “Hieratic” a hand written style produced between 2613-2160 BC, and used until 700 BC.  It was later replaced by the “Demotic” a popular abbreviated version (661-332 BC).

The earliest known styles, still in existence within China are believed to date back to the Shang Dynasty (1500-1050 BC).  Inscriptions have also been discovered, carved into oracle bones and upon Shang bronzes  dating from this period.  Egyptian hieroglyphs faded with the rigors of time, whilst Chinese versions exist in one form or another.

Seal scripts as developed around 221 BC, are still used as a seal, as a personal signature.  By 200 BC a Clerical script came into existence for the purpose of book-keeping, and Grass script for note-taking.

China’s highest written art-form has to be that of Calligraphy; produced by using a brush or quill.

The Phoenicians once belonged to the Aramaic people, and settled in Syria pre 1000 BC, and were established sea-faring traders.  The writing systems of the Phoenician and Aramaic people were similar.

The Aramaic people were suppressed and scattered by the Assyrian invasions of their lands, sometime after 732 BC.  By then, much of the Babylonian language and cuneiform writing system had been replaced by their own, before being lost …

Aramaic scripts spread across the Assyrian Empire through to the lands of Afghanistan, India and Mongolia.  From these small steps, new writing systems developed; modern Arabic, Hebrew, Persian scripts and Brahmin script as used in India.

The Aramaic script was the language of Jesus and his disciples.  In the 6th century AD, this script was still being used, for St.Mashtots introduced it as the new alphabet for the Armenian people.

The Arabic script of Islam, a descendant of the Nabatean.  These scripts first started appearing around 300 AD.

Phoenician had a direct connection with Hieratic and Demotic scripts of Ancient Egypt.  Once a standard style had been developed for its use, so the Koran a sacred text was written, and spread through North Africa, Asia, India and China.  It was halted in its path of crossing into the lands of Western Europe by Charles Martel who defeated the Saracen armies at Poitiers in 733 AD.

If we cross the Pacific Ocean, and come forward in time to AD 300-900 we reach the Maya civilisation in Central America.  It is here glyph pictograms have been discovered upon sculptures, pottery murals and public buildings, and are believed to date back to (AD 250-900) their Classic period.  Whilst other’s are known to belong to their Late Pre Classical period (400 BC – AD 250).  The inscriptions detail historical events, alliances, wars and marriages.

The Maya glyphs are made up of square blocks each with its own inscription, then placed in horizontal and vertical rows, and finally read from left to right.

The first known alphabet was developed around 1500BC, by the Semites in Syria and Palestine, using signs to show the consonants of syllables, using their own set of characters.

Around 1000BC the Phoenicians developed an alphabet which the Greek modified.  With written lines; left to right and they added symbols for vowels.  Now days all western alphabets, are based on the early Greek alphabet.

In the early days of writing, there was only uppercase lettering, until around 600AD, when lowercase was introduced, with finer writing pens for this use.

The earliest implements that resembled that of a pen and paper were developed by the Greeks, using a nib made of metal, bone or ivory.

For it was that the Grecian scholar, Cadmus who invented the written letter-text messages.

Indian ink was invented by the Chinese Philosopher; Tien-Lcheu in 2697BC, out of soot, lamp oil, gelatine of donkey skin and musk, and was commonly used by 1200BC.  Other cultures developed their inks using natural dyes, with berries for colour, plants and minerals.

Parchment Paper

Parchment Paper

With the invention of ink, came the introduction of parchment paper, created in 2500 BC by the Egyptians, made from a water plant; papyrus.  Which was used by early Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Hebrews.

We now had paper and ink, but needed an effective way of transcribing it.  So it was the Romans who created a reed style of pen, from the hollow tubular-stems of marsh grasses.  By cutting one end to create a nib or point, with which to write with, they filled the stem with ink, and squeezed the stems, thus forcing the fluid into the nib.

By 400AD a stable form of ink had been developed, consisting of iron-salts, nutgalls and gum, which would remain in use for centuries.  When first applied to paper, it was a bluish-black in colour, turning truly black, then to a dull brown over the years.

A wood fibre paper had been invented in China around 105AD and brought to Spain by the Arabs in 711AD.

Quill Pen

Quill Pen

The writing instrument that dominated history was the quill pen, as that used by Calligraphists, first introduced in 700AD and made from bird feathers.  Goose feathers were most commonly used, swan feathers being scarce were classed as premium grade, and crow feathers used for straight lines.

Plant fibre paper became the primary medium for writing after the dramatic invention by Johannes Gutenberg of the printing press with wooden or metal letters in 1436.

Articles written by hand had resembled printed letters until scholars began to change the form of writing, using capitals and small letters, writing with more of a slant and connecting letters.  The running hand or cursive style of handwriting with Roman capitals and small letters (Uppercase and lowercase) was invented by Aldus Manutius of Venice in 1495AD, and by the end of the 16th century we had the twenty-six lettered alphabet as we know it to-day.

The history of writing in Britain started in the 5th century AD, with the Anglo-Saxons.  By the 7th century AD, the Latin alphabet had been introduced.

The Normans invaded our shores in 1066, and the English language was relegated to the poor, whilst nobility, clergy and scholars spoke and read Norman or Latin.  By the 13th century, the English language had become the most prominent language once again, having been influenced by two centuries of Norman rule.

Modern Art: Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol 1983, printed 1990 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was born under the name of Andrew Warhola on the 6th August 1928, in Pittsburgh USA, to parents Andrej and Julia Warhola, Czechoslovakian immigrants.

Andy’s early education was at Holmes School and free art classes at the Carnegie Institute.  From 1945-1949 he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he attained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design.

Andy moved to New York in 1949, and in the September, had his first publication entitled “Success is a Job in New York” in Glamour magazine.  His debut into the world of artist/illustrator showed off a new talent, with a whimsical style of drawing.

His work appeared in many main-stream magazines in the 1950’s, including Vogue.  He went on to produce retail window advertising, which led to awards from the Art Director’s Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

During the early part of the 1950’s Andy changed his name from Warhola to Warhol, as his popularity grew.

During the 1950’s, he entered the world, of serious art, based on his experience and expertise within commercial art, and American popular culture.  In 1952 exhibited drawings at the Hugo Gallery in New York, based on the writings of Truman Capote.

1960 saw a change in Andy’s paintings, as he added advertisements and comic strips to his work.  A form of early “Pop Art,” influenced by Abstract Expressionism.  By 1964, his “Brillo Boxes” painting was far removed from Abstract Expressionism as one could get.

Andy worked across many mediums; painter, printmaker, illustrator, film-maker and writer.

In September of 1960, moved to a Lexington Avenue townhouse, which gave him a dedicated studio, located in Manhattan.  From 1962-1964 rented an old Fire House, for additional studio space.

Andy Warhol - Campbells Soup Cans

His work of the 1960’s was centred around advertisements and comic strips.  He created large scale graphic canvases by projecting images onto large canvas panels, and then he would trace the outline of the image.  In 1961, he used a similar process for his “Campbell’s Soup Can Paintings.”

In 1962 Andy explored the art of silk screening; creating a stencil and transferring image onto a porous screen, and apply paint or ink with a rubber squeegee.  He produced dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles and shipping labels.  By the autumn of 1962, he had moved onto photo-silkscreen works, which involved transferring of a photographic image onto a porous screen.

Warhol changed direction, and produced life-size images of Brillo Box and screen printed their design labels onto blocks of plywood.

In 1963, Andy opted to explore moving mediums, and moved into film making.  He is known to have created some 600 films, from mini films of a few minutes to much larger works.

Andy Warhol - Velvet Underground

In 1967, he developed a project called EPI (Exploding Plastic Inevitable), a multi-media production, which combined the “Velvet Underground Rock Band” with projections of film, light and dance, culminating in a sensory experience of performance art.

In 1968, an attempt upon his life by Valerie Solanas, an acquaintance and radical feminist, led to him distancing himself from his current art scene, and sought out commissions within New York high society.

In the latter part of the 1970’s and early 1980’s Andy returned to the limelight, producing paintings which were abstract by design.  His Oxidation Printing series echoed Abstract Expressionism and its rawness.

In the latter years of his life, he turned to religious subjects, including the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Andy Warhol one of the most influential artists of the 20th century died on the 22nd February 1987, after suffering postoperative complications from a gall bladder procedure.

His memorial service was held at St.Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, where more than 2,000 people attended.  His final resting place was in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

Andy Warhol - Marilyn Monroe

Artist: John Constable

john-constable-detail-from-flatford-mill

John Constable, one of England’s prominent artists, was born to Golding and Anne Constable on the 11th June 1776, at the family home, in the picturesque village of East Bergholt, on the Suffolk/Essex border.

Golding trained John, his son in the ways of the family business, working within the mill, as it was expected of him, to follow in his father’s footsteps.  But his heart was else where, for when he could, he would be found on the banks of the River Stour, transferring images, to sketch pad or canvas.

J.T.Smith a close and valued friend, gave Constable early instruction into basic drawing techniques, where his potential as an artist shone through.  Golding was persuaded that John’s abilities lay in art, and should be allowed to study it professionally, leading to an acceptance at the Antique Academy in London, early in 1799.

Constable now a London resident considered his true home to be Suffolk, the home of his youth.  Returning as often as he could, to the surroundings of East Bergholt, to study and sketch the area.

In 1809, Constable admitted his infatuation with Maria Bicknell had grown since his chance meeting with her at the East Bergholt Rectory, and their association, proved to be an inspiration to the young artist.  Opposition to his growing attachment grew within the Bicknell home, for his profession as an artist was limited by his subject matter.  His love for Maria was strong, and so he entered the world of portrait painting, in order to earn greater commissions and boost his income.

Golding Constable, John’s father died on 14th May 1816, leaving him a yearly income of £200 per annum, with the remaining estate shared between him and, his brothers and sisters.  This plunged him into despair, seeing his life slipping by, so he took the initiative and married his sweetheart, Maria on 2nd October 1816 at St.Martin-in-the Fields Church.

John Charles, his first son, was born on the 4th December 1817 and was greatly spoilt, as were all the other children who followed.  In all John and Maria had seven children.

Early in 1828, Maria gave birth to Lionel who was to be their last son, then quite suddenly her father died in March of that year.  The death of her father, coupled with nursing her new born child, is believed to have contributed to her death on 28th November that year.

The Royal Academy elected Constable as an associate member in November 1819, but it wasn’t until February 1829, three months after the death of his beloved wife, that he was elected a full member.

Constable studied the works of the Old Masters, a practice he started in London and continued as long as he lived, comparing his and their styles alike.

Although he never lost his affection for the scenery surrounding East Bergholt, he gradually extended the subject range to include architecture and portraits, leading to greater commissions.  Salisbury Cathedral was painted for Dr Fisher the then Bishop of Salisbury, a valued friend and patron of his work.  Hadleigh Castle standing in ruins at the mouth of the Thames.  Christ Blessing the Bread and Wine, painted for the Altar of Nayland Church.

Suddenly he died on the night of the 31st March 1837, and was buried beside his wife Maria in Hampstead.  His final work, Arundel Castle and Mill never received the final touches he had intended.

Whenever we think of John Constable, the world renowned Suffolk artist, we think of his most memorable painting ‘The Haywain’ painted in 1820, the area has changed little over the years.

Sadly while he was alive he received little recognition for his work, he was only recognised long after his death.  The scenes that accompanied his early years, have been witnessed by many millions the world over in appreciation of his work.

Today, a large collection of John Constable’s work can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Justice Program

Justice Logo

 

Jeremy Maxwell, his dark face set in sullen lines, as he watched the mallet fall.  There was little difference between the Moon and Earth courts.  The judge’s voice boomed around the court.  “The law does not accept the defendant’s plea for clemency.

“You have come before me no less than five times, on similar charges.  I therefore have no alternative but to sentence you to one year at the Scientific Research Centre at Markgrove in the Asus region.”

Jeremy glared at the judge in disbelief.  Tossing his long blonde hair back, drew a deep breath, and fell back into his seat with a loud crash.

“Really Mr Maxwell, making a public spectacle of yourself will solve nothing.  Officers take him down.”

Between the sterile white stone walls of the hospital chamber, Maxwell lay back and looked on as the auto-medics moved in on his arm, like creatures preparing for a feast.  A nanoserum had already been applied, to anaesthetise the limb and prepare for incision.  Dull iron restraining band felt cold against his soft white skin.  With a swift precise movement, the first scalpel cut deep into his flesh.

Feeling nothing in his arm gazed towards it only to see that it had been completely removed, and laid in a cryolis chamber.  The scalpels lay to one side now, sticky with his blood.  With perfect synchronised movement a laser controlled implement moved in and began sealing the wound, leaving a lingering burnt smell that was to haunt him for some time.

A few hours had passed and his forearm had been removed and was the property of the state for the next 12 months.  He now lay in the recovery room, when he came too; his probation officer Miss Daniel’s sat waiting.

“A year’s sentence isn’t such a long time, Mr Maxwell.  It’ll be over before you know it, and you will get used to being without your forearm, for the next year.”

“Do you have to be quite so callous about it?”

“What would you prefer?  That I didn’t mention what has happened here?  You brought this on yourself by committing the crime and now you must suffer the consequences of your actions”

“No, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to be so off-hand.”  As Maxwell gazed at the stump of his arm still numbing by the anaesthesia and wrapped in fresh white bandages.  As he attempted to move, he could feel the missing weight of his forearm.  It would take him some time to adjust to the new balance of his body.

His assigned probation officer, Miss Daniel’s, was very plain looking in appearance.

“I should hope your career as a petty thief is over, now.  The first thing to do is find employment, for the durance of your sentence at least, and hopefully afterwards.”

“The first thing to do, as far as I’m concerned,” Maxwell retorted, “is get me measured up for my cybernetic limb.”

“Mr Maxwell, your sentence will last for one full year, and you’ll be required to attend re-abilitation classes, and I will call upon you each week at your place of employment.”

“What happens to me if I don’t abide by the rules?”

“Your sentence period will be extended.  If you re-offend at any time during the year, your current sentence will run consecutively with any new sentence imposed on you.  My advice to you is not to steal anymore, or at least not get caught.  Unless you have a good lawyer you could be handed a prison sentence or at the worst sentenced to the cryostasis chamber for the duration of your sentence.”

“You know it was not my intention to re-offend,” he said with a pleasing look in his eyes.  “At the end of the year, is it right they will re-attach my forearm?”

“All being well.  Yes.  The procedure is a little more complicated; the nerves have to be regenerated, and realigned.  But it’s quite a common procedure these days.  Your forearm won’t be quite as you remember it, tests will have been carried out on it, and senses adjusted so you don’t stray again.”

“Will I suffer from any side effects?”

She gazed at him for a moment, looking deep into those dark sullen eyes; “there shouldn’t be any.”

“What if there are?”

“If there are go straight to the nearest hospital, and give them your planetarian code number.  A human doctor opposed to a synthetic one should treat you.  The operation isn’t supposed to leave the patient with side effects, but that’s not to say it can’t happen in rare cases.

Maxwell, felt a pain within, that came from outside of his body, how can that be?  Slowly the anaesthetic was wearing off, and the pain grew stronger.  With his remaining hand summoned an auto medic to give him another shot of a pain killer.

A few weeks later, he had been transferred from the prison hospital to work at the exotic animal and plant food-processing unit, surrounded by three high walls, cut deep into the cliff.

His cybernetic forearm looked gruesome, with its network of levers, wires and sensor points; he often questioned in his mind, who was serving time, him or his arm?  The hand had been constructed from a mix of plastic and metal, with a claw instead of fingers, slow to respond to actions from his brain.

Thankfully, the forearm was hidden from sight in his black uniform.  It would have looked better with a synthetic skin covering.

He slipped easily into a daily routine.  Each morning he would climb down into the vaults and walk beside the great holding cages of the farm, checking everything was clean, and the exotic animals were all present and correct.  Like me they had nowhere to go, technically they were imprisoned.

Occasionally he would have to clean the cages out by hand, as the grilles and chutes became blocked with food and waste material.  Each cage was twenty-five metres square, holding up to five animals, proving to be a formidable task at the best of times.

The plant farm was self sufficient, having to be watered by the sprinklers twice a day, ready for the pickers to collect the food on a daily basis.

Every tenth day of the month, attended citizenship classes at the nearest town, travelling by monorail.

After a while you knew what they wanted to hear from you and reciting it became second nature.  As long as they thought they were inducting you into a new way of life, no one was any the wiser.

On the first day of each week, the probation officer Miss Daniel’s, came to check up on his progress, but seldom had anything to report.

“They keep me constantly occupied, no time to consider my old life.”

“It must be quiet and lonely in this environment.”

“The creatures don’t say much,” Maxwell admitted with a slight grin on his face.

Miss Daniel’s stood at the edge of one of the cages, gazing in, “are they dangerous?”

“They’re too drowsy to be dangerous, they are kept drugged up to the eyeballs, still I wouldn’t get too close to them, prior to feeding times.”

It pleased him when she visited, but relieved at her departure, she made it painfully clear he was serving time for his crimes.

As the weeks went by the intensity of the pain increased, where once he had a hand, and now there was a claw like structure.

One of the auto medics had explained part of his brain was still convinced that he had a hand; it believed as though it was still reviewing messages from the nerves.  To resolve the problem, painkillers were prescribed, hoping to ease the sensation, but it never worked.

Finally, he removed the cybernetic replacement, and carried on work as best he could without it.  It made him uncomfortable to have the sensation of two limbs occupying the space where only one should have been.

According to the auto medic, the phantom limb wouldn’t last forever, but there was no telling how long.

Night times were the worst, when he was hovering on the edge of sleep, or just waking up.  He would feel the sensation of something touching his invisible palm, but much worse was the sensation that he was not in full control of his hand.

The only answer must be that his own hand wants revenge for being removed from his body.  It was his fault and he had to be punished for it.

The following night he awoke choking, struggling for breath.  The phantom hand was at his throat, its fingers clasped about his windpipe, unseen fingers digging into his flesh.  Weakened by the lack of oxygen, his vision began to blur, and the room grew darker, all life was being sucked out of him.  Abruptly, the phantom hand loosened his grip, and Maxwell collapsed back on his bunk, gulping great gasps of air.

In an anxious mood, Maxwell rang Miss Daniel’s in the dead of night, requesting to see his hand, but she was annoyed at being disturbed so late.

“Of course you can see your hand, but you must apply to the Scientific Research Centre, through the courts, which should take a few weeks.”

Alarmed at the delay, he just hung up, leaving Miss Daniel’s curious about his request.

Maxwell feared for his life, after the deathly attack upon his body, and knew he must not sleep, as he might not be able to fend off the next attack.

Maxwell headed into the city, to see if his hand was still at the Research Hospital, or was it a dream, but how could that be, as bruises were appearing around his throat.

Before reaching the hospital, he was apprehended by two security officers, at the monorail station, and delivered back into Miss Daniel’s custody.

“What on earth do you think you were doing,” she demanded in a high pitched voice, “are you trying to get arrested?”

“I don’t know.  I was trying to reach the hand, but I had no idea what I would do when I got there.”

“What’s all this about,” Miss Daniel’s asked.

Maxwell out of desperation told her everything.

When he had finished, she sat silent for a long time.  Then she said the reason you were apprehended was that your hand was stolen in the early hours of the morning.  When you weren’t to be found at the processing unit, I put out an apprehend request on site.

“I’m afraid,” he said abruptly.  “But I’m unsure what I’m afraid of,” he said in a low voice.

“Don’t worry,” she replied.  “I will remain here with you until this is resolved one way or the other.”

Maxwell could hardly find the words to thank her.

Down in the cages, the animals seemed agitated.  Having not been fed for the past 24 hours, one of the youngest had been attacked and eaten by the others; bringing home to him how dangerous they really were.  A scattering of bones was all that remained of the young one.  After feeding them he sprayed the cages with water, considered a luxury to the exotic animals.  Where once a form of joining had existed between them; only fear remained now.

“Are you all right, Mr Maxwell?” she asked.

“Somewhat awkwardly I replied.  “Yes.  Thanking her for her concern.

“If you need me, I will be along the corridor.”

Sleep came hard to him; he tossed and turned for many hours; eventually laying in silence with his eyes wide open.  From time to time, gazed at the metal forearm by his bunk.

Finally in desperation swung his legs out of the bunk, and fixed the gruesome arm in place.  There was a slight sting as the control points probing his skin, searching for the nerve interface implants, bringing the arm back to life.

Some instinct told him something was wrong, as he wandered out among the cages.  The sensation he felt in his arm; made him question, was the phantom arm close by, or was it all in his mind?

Then in the larger of the cages, he caught glimpse of movement, too quick to have been made by these sedated animals, as he watched on, when he heard the sound of footsteps heading his way.

“Mr Maxwell is that you?”

“Yes, Miss Daniel’s.  I’m over here.”

“What are you doing in here in the dead of night?  What’s going on?” she asked, observing Maxwell opening the upper hatch into the cage.

“There’s no time for explanations now.  I will explain afterwards,” as he dropped into the cage.

It was dark; by what little light there was the animals skin shimmered, and his old hand could be seen close by.  For a moment he gazed in disbelief of how it got here, then suddenly it lunged itself around his neck, but he was unable to fully control the cybernetic arm to remove his old arm.  The more he struggled, the tighter the grip about his throat.  He felt the blood beating at his throat, trying to find its way through the constricted vessels, past the hard grip of the fingers.  Slowly he began to loose consciousness, as he grew dizzy and everything around him was growing darker, moment by moment.

Then the cages were flooded with light, as Miss Daniel’s switched on the main lights above.  All in an instant, Maxwell saw he could break the things hold, using his cybernetic hand, bringing it down with as much force as he could muster, and tore the stunned hand from his throat, and held it at arms length as it struggled to free itself.

Miss Daniel’s stood by the lower entrance, with one of the darts used to paralyse the animals, whilst I held it she thrust it into the body of the hand.  The struggling stopped, and the hand went limp.

Still holding this violent, but sedated hand, tossed it into the animal’s food tray, and watched until it had been eaten.  Finally the old phantom hand was no more, and peace reigned.

Maxwell looked on, but said nothing as Miss Daniel’s rested her soft hand on his shoulder.  “I’ll put forward a request to end your sentence, under special circumstances, and arrange a new cybernetic forearm, with an imitation outer skin, you won’t be able to tell the difference!

My nightmare was over!!!

Raoul Wallenberg: Humanitarian

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg was born on the 4th August 1912, into a family of bankers, diplomats and politicians in Stockholm, Sweden.  His interests lay in architecture.  He went on to graduate in the Russian language in 1930 and in 1931 studied architecture at the Ann Arbor Michigan University gaining a bachelor’s degree in science and architecture in 1935.

He returned to Sweden in 1935, seeking employment, but the options were limited.  Gustav Wallenberg, his grandfather arranged six months work in Cape Town then onto Hafia, Palenstine working in a Dutch Bank.

It was here, Raoul had his eyes opened for him, with regards to actions taken by Germany, from Jews he had come into contact with, who had fled Hitler’s new Germany.

He travelled through Nazi-occupied France and Germany, for a Swedish based import and export firm, owned by Koloman Lauer, an Hungarian Jew.

In the spring of 1944, the world understood what Hitler’s final solution to the Jewish problem actually meant.  In the May, eyewitness accounts of what was taking place at Auschwitz reached the world.

Germany transported Jews out of Hungary after the country’s occupation by German forces on the 19th March 1944, sending them to Poland and certain death.

Budapest feared what was to come for them.  The Swedish Legation in Budapest, arranged through Hungarian authorities a passport, as issued to Swedish citizens.  What started out as 700 was suddenly running out of control, for thousands of Jews required these passports for survival.

Raoul was recruited by the U.S. War Refugee and in June 1944 appointed Secretary of the Swedish diplomatic mission in Budapest, taking up his post in July 1944.

Raoul Wallenberg struggled against the German authorities, and proved to be a thorn in their side an unwelcome witness to their atrocities.

Wallenberg created so called “Swedish Houses” which hung the flag of Sweden over its door, advertising to all, it is Swedish territory.  It was a place where Jews could seek shelter.  Passports were issued, stating they be under the protection of Sweden’s neutrality, it didn’t take long for other countries to open their houses, offering shelter to the Jews.

When Russian forces arrived in Budapest, they found 120,000 Jews had survived the round-up by German forces.

On the 17th January 1945, Raoul Wallenburg was escorted to the Soviet Headquarters in Debrecen, East of Budapest, never to be seen or heard from again.

According to Soviet prison officials, he is believed to have died in 1947, yet the exact date and circumstances of his death, remains unknown to this day…

If one travels to Jerusalem, there stands “Yad Vashem” a memorial to murdered Jews of World War Two.  In the “Avenue of the Righteous” stands a line of trees, to non-Jewish individuals who risked their lives to save Jews.  A plaque on one of the trees is dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg.

In 1981, Raoul Wallenberg was declared an honary citizen of the United States, and in 1985 of Canada, and in 1986 of Israel.

Over the last 65 years, both Sweden and the United States continue to ask the same question, time and time again; what happened to Raoul Wallenberg?

Could he still be alive? If so he would be a very old man.

Wikipedia Image

Cathedral Memories

2496

I walked the path
other’s trod before me,
crossing the threshold
into peace and tranquility.

2570a

Daylight broke through
stained glass windows,
depicting historical images
the life of this building.

St.Mary the Virgin Church - Rye - Sussex

Monuments and tablets
adorn these walls,
those to be remembered
not forgotten by time.

Heartfelt Feelings

Memories - Vidan Art Beland

Warmth and emptiness
spread through her body,
as her fingers and toes
filled with numbness and feelings.

She felt as though
she would break apart,
into millions of pieces
and disappear into oblivion.

As his soft blue eyes
gazed into her green eyes,
she knew at that instance
he could read her mind.