A giant man made of paper and light danced for us on New Year’s Eve.
The lovely team at Soundbeam, my husband’s company, are the special people who brought this giant to life.
When the puppet was being put together, there was a Chinese-lantern vulnerability about the white tissue that it was made of, but once the lights inside his limbs, body and head were turned on and he started to dance, the lolloping, seemingly-solid hugeness of him came into being before our eyes in the darkness of New Year’s Eve.
Such are all our dreams – insubstantial paper that could easily be torn or screwed up, tossed into the corner as rubbish, unless you create the context for them and view them in the right light. The stridently optimistic psychological landscape of the first month of the year throws just the right sort of light, sending our dreams into a dizzy, maverick dance like that of the friendly, brave Soundbeam giant.
Later the same evening, the candy-pop lights of firework displays ricocheted across Bristol’s city-scape; a hundred bright chrysanthemums puffing up in succession to a soundtrack of muted ‘piffs’ and ‘pitpatpatpats’, underscored by gunpowder-induced drum-rolls as low and deep as a ship’s engine thrumming. The fiery tracks stretched up and away into the sky, out towards the silent galaxies, belittled by but also set off against the vastness far above them. ‘Here we are!’ they were shouting, heralding the fact that, all of a sudden, there’s another year to fill. A thousand renewed hopes escaping from pessimism and pragmatism across the city; resurrected ambitions, wild dreams that refuse to focus on the probable, insisting instead on celebrating the flimsy whimsy of unlikely potential.
As I write this, we are still (just about) in this magical first week of the New Year, and the same new-penny hopefulness litters every surface of my tiny writing room. It feels haphazard and slightly out of control in here. I am being led by the nose, through the gut. Sniffing things out, sipping again at exquisite ideas that were tipped down the sink undrunk last year. I am gently touching the paper lanterns of my own dreams to check for nicks and tears, wondering if a bit of paste will set them right for another whirl in 2015.
On the desk there are lists of literary competitions for the year ahead; pinned on the wall there are publication dates in the twelve months ahead for books from some of my favourite novelists, as well as some intriguing non-fiction and biography.
On the computer table there is a spreadsheet that lists the names of the friends and colleagues who will be at our annual writing retreat at Moniack Mhor in Scotland this July; the thought of being there again lifts the corner of my heart a little as I write this; that week, put aside solely for writing, has become such an important milestone in every year.
A sticky note holds a couple of leads for freelance editing work; a OneNote page up on my computer screen displays the details of magazines which are currently accepting feature articles or short stories.
From the midst of all this planning and plotting, some job descriptions stare up at me; I have given in to the freelancers perverse desire to look for proper jobs as I ponder the year to come and what I want it to bring me. I can feel one of them in particular beckoning, tugging at me, even when I turn away to attend to something else. It is covered with enthusiastically scribbled marginalia; the spaghetti of my mind trying to decide if I should respond and apply.
Perched on top of my in-tray, my new diary flashes its bold, orange cover at me; it is gradually filling up with events and deadlines, challenges and brave plans. Some of my work in progress is spread out on the floor; I have relocated a half-written story about a menopausal cow, an article about the Alexander Technique and a piece about the preciousness of time.
All these pieces need further work, but I feel in the groove, just like my giant-friend who danced in the frosty night air in Bristol last week whilst we chatted and shelled hot chestnuts at his feet, gazing up at his ecstatically waving limbs, up to his round face, his wide grin, and up even further, past his balloon-head, to look upon the pale half moon hanging in the black sky.
(You can watch the giant’s cool dance in this You Tube video)
All photography by Louise Swingler except for the two photographs of fireworks:
Fireworks photo 2 (golden spires):
Fireworks photo 1 (puffballs):
Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons