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Climbing the Hill
He climbed the hill slowly, far slower than he had all those years before. But he had been a young man then, not the old one he was now.
But he remembered the day he climbed it, had never forgotten the men who had climbed it with him. His friends, comrades, brothers in arms.
They had fought to climb this hill, had given all they could. Each step spilt more blood, every inch another bullet, every metre another death.
His brothers died that day, just trying to stand where he stood now, but they had done it.
Climbed the hill.
He stood before the memorial, where the names of his fallen brothers stood, and looked up at the flag they had died for.
All he could do was cry.
For they had fought for something and he had lost what that was.
What was it they had died for?
I stop for a moment. I need a breather. This is against the rules, but I think I have a bit of time before he comes back. I feel breathless. I take a seat on a rock by the stone strewn path clutching a stitch in my side. I just need a minute.
I should carry on. He'll be back any minute. Checking that I am still going. I just can't seem to care. What can he do that's worse than this. I shudder at the thought. It's almost enough to propel me to my feet. Not quite, but nearly.
This is my punishment, my despair. I can't think what horror I have committed to deserve retribution such as this. This never ending hill, this everlasting upward climb. It's torture. Never resting, never stopping. Always looking over my shoulder, terrified that he might be there.
It's nothing more than hell.
The Midland Alps
Dawdling home from school, two hours early, I took a detour from my father's raised hand. Something made me carry on walking along Frederick Staddon Row, to the edge of town, then through a narrow stone style and across ratty pasture, until I reached the worn-down nub of a hill.
I looked back on the buckled slating of the terraces that clung to the lower slopes; in the distance, the cold factory chimneys.
I recalled the landscape around me as it was: A chain of nine, steeply-sloping, grass-covered mounds, 100 feet tall, built with brick cores, the summits bearing the span of the railway that crossed the valley.
One August afternoon, when I was six years old, they toppled, one after the other, the detonations shaking the stiff foundations of our house, sending a teapot crashing to the floor.
Afterwards there was a hushed stillness that took root in the town.
Riding the night winds she is earthbound, headed to where the land has been called to order with cold winter breath; where the wind fiddles a high-pitched tune through pine branch spindles.
Berchta, Goddess of the Tyrol and Spinner of Destiny has found what she's looking for - the house on a hill, a rectangle of light staining the snow.
She looks; would touch with old fingers the despair inside if she could.
She is there for one purpose - stillbirth, the soul of an infant as folklore tells. She travels the world with these innocents. they are the clouds, the bringers of rain.
On a sheet, unfurled limbs are daisy white and waxen and with her kindly eyes she cradles the blood streaked head.
'An earthbound brief-time,' she sighs and untethers the soul. Together, they leave a world that can only stare back at the stars.
Controversies apart about the place of Apostle St Thomas’ murder for evangelizing native Indians of Tamil Nadu , and his cemetery , the generally accepted facts are that he was at Mylapore, sentenced to be killed on a hill , and was interred at what is now known as St Thomas Mount. Both the places are part of Chennai (formerly Madras).
With due respect to the Saint I must admit that my interests were not in religion or the disharmony among people of different faiths.
My friend and I once desired to visit the shrine; hired cycles and pushed them to the top. After the visit we came downhill effortlessly at an incredible speed. The speed fascinated us. We went up again and came down at break-neck speed - legs off the pedal, hands off the break lever.
A question remained: How did the hill become a mount?
What I Came Home To
He hadn’t answered the door today, so I let myself in with the key he’d given me when we were first going out.
‘Keep it,’ he’d said.
‘But you barely know me.’
‘You’re going to stick around though, aren’t you?’
He was always able to see ahead, like life wasn’t the blind road for him it was for the rest of us. Like he was on the crest of a hill looking down at it all.
I suppose he would have seen it coming. I didn’t. It was only when I saw the note on the coffee table that it clicked.
My heart raced. I dropped his note and ran into the bedroom, where it said he would be.
The floor was covered in red. Bursting through the door, I almost slipped on all the petals. And there he was, this island of serenity, down on one knee and beaming.
Walker lost on Mount Keen
After three hours they reached the bridge, and looked up. The path wound across the valley bottom, through a gate, and then up the hill, like a scar, until it vanished into cloud. The trees had provided shelter, but now, in the open, rain lashed. They climbed steadily, but by the time they entered the cloud, he was six paces in front of her, and she lost sight of him. She put one foot in front of the other, step after step, weary to the bone. The path became a stream - rocks, peaty mounds, gravel. Her feet were sodden in her boots, her fingers raw. Wind buffeted her, and more than once she fell. She called out to him, but he did not wait.
It was dark when she got back to the bridge. She had not wanted to turn back, but he did not wait. He did not wait.
Race once more
I know what brought me here today. Standing at the bottom of the hill my eye traces the faint suggestion of a path down its steep slope. The grass beaten down where we like so many others before and after us tumbled and chased our way down, racing each other, testing ourselves as the clouds, scudding across the sky, laid shadows across the slope that raced alongside us.
That exhilaration and fear. That was what brought me here.
I slowly twist the ring round and round my finger until finally I am free of it. As I let it drop onto the ground I feel once again that same mix of fear and exhilaration.
For the First Time
She sat at the top of the hill, poised, ready, like a bird about to take flight. Seagulls circled the cloudy sky above, calling loudly to one another. Her little fingers gripped the handle bars tightly and she began to pedal slowly. She called out 'Daddy don't let go', but with a gentle push from behind she was off. She pedalled faster, the knot in her stomach easing as the house numbers whizzed by. Her hair blew around her face in the wind, 'this is it' she thought, giggling with delight, 'this is it, I'm free!'.
Running up that hill. It was a struggle. It was a grind. No breath left, just shallow gasps like a smoker in the morning. Close to the top and close to the stop.
Below her was the city she called home. Tiny people going about their tiny business without a thought for who was watching. She acknowledged the power.
Here, she felt free. Here, she felt unencumbered by the drag of her day to day existence.
Running down that hill. It was a fairground ride. It was a blast. Breathing fast in exultant gasps like a chuckling child. Close now to the bottom and closer to reality.
"Sheldon Insurance Services, Martha speaking, can I help you?"
The last stand
Hill 1712, as all the soldiers knew, was the one that could never be defended. And now here they were, Joey and Dave, the only two men on Hill 1712, the last remaining stronghold. It was up to them to save the the day. At any moment ten thousand of their enemies would storm them from below. Dave looked over at Joey and their eyes met. They both had a knowing look on their faces, a look of confidence. After all, they had done this before. Captain Morgan had so much confidence in them that he had only sent the two of them to defend the hill. It was starting to get dark, all chirping insects in the surrounding woods went silent. Suddenly a loud shreik came from the distance. "Joey, Dave, dinner time"! Joey and Dave started the slow walk home, the battle would have to wait another day.
The Hill has always been shrouded with mystery. If I climb it, I find the City beyond. That is all I know. It starts easily, but eventually the suffocating impenetrable fog deafens me with its silence. But I persist. As I ascend, I can’t breathe, so I collapse into a deep ditch and I can’t get out until a fellow climber finds me. Still I persevere, with the thought of the city motivating me. As I get closer to the summit I glimpse its outline. Finally, I step over the final ditch, stand on the last rock.
Suddenly, the haze clears, and I can see the winding path below me. I recognise the ditches and the meadows crammed with daisies. I finally understand.
The ground melts away and, miles below, I view the City, twinkling, glowing, throbbing with vitality, shimmering like galaxies in a desert sky and I jump.
The hill stood strong and steady. An emotionless mound, exempt from the feelings which still linger like a foggy haze, long after the event, refusing to subside. We don’t talk about the event anymore, I think because people have spoken too much; following the grief people suffered for so long, they just want to move on and forget the persistent, empty sorrow at the back of our minds… strong and steady. Yet still the hill stands, dominating our village as a constant reminder of that day. Our hill used to be full to the brim with echoing sounds of laughter rippling through the air, eventually reaching the foot of the village as an almost, but not quite, inaudible whisper. Now only the deafening silence ricochets. Only occasional passers by, naïve to what happened, and unknowingly lucky, like the hill, to be so blissful in ignorance seldom come.
Mountains or molehills?
"You need to get it together."
"Together. You need to sort yourself out. Stop making mountains out of molehills."
"Out of molehills? Every single problem I have is a mountain and you know it."
"It's only a mountain inside your head."
"Isn't that where problems live?"
"No. Problems live in the real world."
"But how do we see the real world if not from inside our heads? If our problems were truly external to us then they wouldn't be able to hurt us, but mine hurt me every day."
"Even the smallest ones?"
"Even the smallest ones are huge as a hill I could never hope to climb. The sort of steep that makes you dizzy looking up."
"That's can't be an easy way to live."
"No. It's not."
"So how do you do it?"
"I don't know."
I lit a cigarette, the fleeting heat from the match, not nearly enough to warm my frozen body. It wasn’t worth thinking about. These days I just enjoyed or hated each godforsaken moment of my life. Tomorrow we would take the hill and if we were lucky we would die fast or if we weren’t lucky we’d live another day.
“Can I have a smoke?” said the soldier next to me, a young boy of maybe eighteen. He nodded at my cigarette ”Not at all.” I said. I was happy for the small kindnesses that still kept me human.
Where had they gone?
Where had four hundred obese people disappeared to, I asked? Moved away, some died, and some got led astray, they answered. " You know what it's like", but I didn't. The law man grinned like the image on a Mega bus. Why had I returned to investigate, just on the say so of a skinny street kid off his face on 'smack', a thousand miles away? I appreciated the warm welcome they gave me, in spite of feeling watched. On my last restless night, there was a feast, which I had no appetite for, nor they, at my snub. At dawn though, locals turned out to wave me off , bearing brilliant teeth. Leaving the wet green valley, via the heart of Wales line, it suddenly occurred to me, as my arm parylised mid wave, that the hill was steeper than I remembered it, only a year ago.
The house on the hill was abandoned. In a dangerous state of repair. No-one went there. As a child, it was a forbidden place, but now...
The front door was ajar, an invitation. It creaked. She waited, heart beating fast, breath bated. Shadows teased in dusty corners. Streaks of sunlight danced through cobwebs draped like net curtains. It smelt damp, musty. She wrinkled her nose and tiptoed around rooms. Furniture sat covered in sheets, like strange ghosts from the past. She brushed past. A cloud of dust tickled her throat. A mouse startled her as it scurried past.
The creak of floorboards in the room above made her heart pound. She heard footsteps, heavy, measured. Then, she remembered the stories. She knew why the house on the hill was forbidden. Footsteps approached.
She was not alone.
Morning not coming
You were born on this hill and you will die there too. That's what the woman who lived atop the hill over the ridge used to say. Every person born on this hill dies there too. It is known.
You never believed it. Why ought you? But it stuck with you. You couldn't help but remember.
That last day it was all you could think. You climbed to the top of the hill, you and everyone else, and watched as the sky sparked with red-gold fire. You'll die on this hill.
You knew it, even it they didn't yet. The sky burned brighter.
You closed your eyes.
-It is not.
-It is! You take 2 twins. One lives at the top of a hill
-How big is the hill?
-Big! Like a mountain!
-So not really a hill then?
-Will you let me finish?!! 2 twins. One lives at the top of the hill or 'mountain', one lives at the bottom. They don't see each other for about 30 years.
-They just don't! It's theoretical.
-So after 30 years the twins meet again.
-I don't know, maybe one of them takes a trot up the hill. Perhaps the one that lived up the hill fancied coming down for a bit of a walk around.
-I'd hate to live on a hill. Would there be shops?
-Look the point is when the 2 meet again the twin that lived higher up wouldn't have aged as much.
-Is that true?
-Yup. It's physics.
The Treacherous Tattoo
“Nice tattoo! What is it?”
“A dragon walking up a hill.”
“Yes, the hill signifies struggles and efforts we all have to make in life.”
“Why the dragon?”
“Dragons are supposed to symbolize wisdom, strength, power, longevity, prosperity, and even good luck. Perhaps I will be your charm?”
Window panes outside misted from wild rain, and Priya felt the same inside.
“What happened?” asked Susan.
“He wanted to give me his number…I said no.”
“His arms are fully covered with huge dragon tattoos. Did you see them?
“But, you just got a tattoo done, Priya, isn’t that hypocritical? And, you are from India, where women your age hesitate to get tattoos…you are the brave one!”
“…but mine is small and hidden.”
Priya quietly took out her tiny diary in which she wrote poems and started a new one…
Treacherous tattoo, too out there…
The church tower clock struck three o’clock. Wind towers turned slowly on the far horizon. Bees buzzed industriously around the late summer lavender. Nestled into his elephant grey leather armchair Iain surveyed the scene. He watched cows on the hill opposite move idly across lush green pasture. He’d read that herds follow a dominant female who leads the direction of grazing. Suddenly without warning a large picture entitled ‘rhythm and joy’ fell from the wall with a loud crash. It smashed the mantle clock on its way to the floor. Glass shattered into a thousand pieces. Instantly Iain’s reverie was broken. His dreams fogged and melted away. Struggle as he might the sleepy pleasure of those feelings receded with each passing moment. Now rain battered against the window pane drawing a watery veil over the afternoon. The hill with its contented cows blurred and disappeared. Iain fetched dustpan and brush.
The Wonder of It
A slight movement. She shifts focus. Trees block her sightline like viewers bunched in a gallery obscuring the masterpiece. A jay screeches through the silence, fingernails on a blackboard.
He has returned. He crouches in the sticks by the brook, hand cupping water into his mouth. Glistening jewels spill from his chin. They fall through infinite, light year space into the slothful stream following its course to timeless seas.
“Hello!” she calls.
He looks up. Hand spellbound between face and water. He stands, body blossoming - a flower opening in time-lapse. The morning sun reflects in his night-black eye, like Venus. He sniffs her body floating in the air. One fawn eyelid winks. He turns away.
He disappears up the wooded hill, his horn catching on a hazel twig.
In the mud she finds the impression of his hoof and explores its curve with a moist finger.
In the Shadow of the Hill
It had dominated their view as long as he could remember. A huge hump of black, casting its darkness over the vale; blotting out the sun in winter. Far more present and solid and immutable to him than the chapel-god they sang hymns to on Sundays.
His mother had forbidden him from playing there, but other kids did sometimes, grimeying up their legs and hands with the taint of coal waste, and getting a spanking when they got home. Cliff thought he’d climb it one day. Their hill. Maybe he’d ask Siân to go with him one moonlit night…
Today it was raining again and he was skiving school. He could see the hill from his bedroom window. Hang on. Was it moving? He gawped helpless, the roar like a jet as he watched the black mass slide, the slag heap engulfing the school; fear engulfing his heart.
A Death at Dawn
From the seventeenth floor, your own toy railway. Two train snakes asleep on the viaduct. Another one, sheathed in the warm Victorian brickwork of Moor Street Station, its Dutch-house gable ends with porthole windows, overlooking a bricked triangular pediment on cast iron pillars; entrance to a temple.
And also escape; from dully latticed steel and boxy roof-top air conditioners; and smokey glass, reflecting low-cloud skies; and oxide-rust construction cranes, red-eyed and idle in this early-morning grey.
To the south, a single chimney, off-white concrete emerging from four tall structures. A hospital incinerator maybe. The plume of water vapour drifting eastwards towards an antenna on a distant rise that barely merits the description of hill. Most of the all-around is flat, brownfield, warehouse-low.
From the balcony, vertiginous. Chewing-gum constellations on grey-black pavers. Otherwise empty. Not even a street-cleaner. Good.
Where we go to pray
The grooves of the roof tiles nudge under our legs and numb my buttocks. They shoo us forward so we're perching like birds, except birds could fly. I tap my youngest's crossed legs and she unfolds them, stiffly. I prop up my mother, making my side a low wall for her.
We just gotta sit tight, I tell them again. My babies are using raincoats for blankets. The wind is caught and scrambling in our ears.
I look for landmarks like that first raven did: the church's guiding spire, the trees with the highest crowns. Our neighborhood is mostly flat, no hills to speak of, and the water reduces everything to this stone-skimming blankness. Our home seeps out of itself.
On another rooftop I see a silhouette...standing, waving. I spread my arms wide and pray.
Shouting Wouldn't Help
Someone discovered the body over by the hill, down where it gets muddy and meets the river. An audience had gathered although it seemed to Robert that they were just there for entertainment, for something to do with the time that living amongst a small farming community in the middle of nowhere afforded them. Soon the police came and shooed them all away, laying markers and unwinding tape, looking around, trying to detect what had happened. Robert didn’t think they’d have much success and in time he was proven right; there were no clues, no suspects, nothing pointing to what had happened. He desperately wanted to tell them what he knew, where to look for the evidence that would bring those responsible to justice but he knew they wouldn’t hear what he wanted to say.
Robert’s fate remained a mystery long after they had lowered him into the ground.
From Hound's Hill we see everything through your dad's U.F.O binoculars: our tower block, blue lights, fluorescent yellow, the police cars surrounding your dad. Hands on his shoulders, pressing down on the scars he made on his scalp trying to cut out the voices in his head, they force him into a car.
Pounding his skull against glass, Kate Bush sings of deals with God and you thumb up the volume on "our" Walkman. They drive him away. Your mood ring flares red. Curling another Flying Saucer onto your tongue, you hold the Stanley knife we stole from his anorak, against my third eye. Your peroxide-blonde hair is electric against the white of the sky. Thunder-hearted, sugar-fizzing, you whisper: "Dig."
Years later, when they finally confirm that you're dead, I unearth the knife but nothing I do can remove your voice from my head.
Licence to Cook
The menu board outside the van had blown down in the wind. A salty tang from the sea left its taste on Mary’s lips as she shouted to Rose, ‘Got to sort out the sign.’
Was she glad to leave the swelter of burgers and chips.
‘Don’t be long. Got more onions to prep,’ Rose shouted back.
Mary bounded down the two steps and breathed in the air, bracing, straight off the sea.
The lunchtime sun shone hot in a cloudless sky. She saw a few regulars heading up the hill to the van. Why some of them wore wetsuits Mary couldn’t imagine - in this heat and with their figures.
She propped the sign up with two rocks to stop it blowing over again.
That was when she heard them, the voices that spelt trouble.
She sprinted back.
‘It’s the McGregors, Rose,’ she mouthed over the hiss of frying onions.
A few years ago my father told me that my grandparents in Egypt had built a pyramid as our family mausoleum. This was a very odd choice. A small pyramid. I asked him how small.
-About two stories high.
-That sounds pretty big to me.
It's funny how you don't think about death but you imagine that it thinks about you. It's a guy who's got his eye on you, a skeletal reaper biding his time. Or at least that's how we talk about it.
The pyramid, right now, is pretty empty. Only two women buried there. But ever since my dad told me about it I can't help but feel that it's where we belong. I was raised in the US but death doesn't fit here, does it?, in a leafy protestant cemetery on a hill. I want to be buried in the desert, which is its own eternity.
A dry throat and cramping thighs. Blades of dying grass rubbed against her feet. Too long had passed. The skyline had grown. Buildings rose. Skin started to wrinkle. Bones started to grind. A constant reminder of what was coming.
Atop the hill she waited. She was supposed to be there. It was their agreement, bound by a handshake, hug, and kiss. All three soft and gentle, forging an unbreakable bond.
The wind picked up. Grey had won, stripping her hair of its auburn, the flame of youth extinguished. Inside her, it continued to burn. All it required was fuel.
"There you are!"
She nodded with a wicked grin.
Down they went, the thick grass cushioning their now frail bones. Time marched on with them as they rolled together.
The bottom greeted them softly, as it always had. A solid rock in shifting sands.
Tug O' War
"Mary, you can't wear a dress that shows that much cleavage," Mum argues as they return from shopping for my sister's prom dress.
"What cleavage?" I ask. "Her chest's as flat as a board."
Mary glares at me.
"Mavis, be quiet," Mum says. "You're not helping."
"I'd be laughed at in that dress." Mary begins to cry.
"It was lovely. Bright yellow satin, it suited you," Mum volleys back.
"I looked jaundiced," Mary shouts angrily, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"It's such an uphill battle with you," Mum growls, on the verge of tears herself.
"I'm not going," Mary declares.
"Of course you are," Mum says as a matter of fact. "We'll take another look tomorrow."
I raise my eyebrows, about to speak. Mum glares at me, wagging her finger. Behind her, Mary grins, and throws me a wink. She knows it's all downhill from here on out.
She was buried at Cemetery Hill.
"I always loved the smell of rain," I mentioned to Susan back in the day."They call it petrichor, Dumbo," she informed me, sticking out her tongue and being her usual silly self even in the ugly face of cancer."And what do they call sarcasm in your world?," I asked her."You tell me," Susy giggled.Those were the conversations I held dear to my heart, even more so today.
"I love that smell, daddy," Susan's younger sister said innocently on the day of the funeral."It's called petrichor," I told her, standing in the rain at Cemetery Hill.
Buzz Cut Shore Leave
I asked her to drag the electric clippers across my scalp and mow me down to sheeny stubble. “That’s creepy!” she shouted, “You’ll look like an old peanut head.”
Apt description, but I was quite decided.
The reasons for:
Worn out and fed up; pooped in the middle of a hill.
A rare gander at the borders my pattern baldness is mapping.
I’ll be invisible with sunglasses.
Two days until vacation and I’m busting for some relief from the humdrum I never dreamt of; not in a thousand lives.
We’re in the middle of a heat wave and I think I’ll be spared, but won’t be.
Shake up the relationship; allow her to shear me. (Sounds kinky… Probably not for every couple on the rocks; still, rebuilding trust doesn’t come easy.)
Get back, somehow, to who I thought I was.
The reason against:
I’ll look like an old peanut head.
Life is a hill. Sometimes big sometimes small. Just when you got over one hill another appears, until one day you are over the hill.
So over the hill you can't climb the next hill.
Sure even her name was Hill.
What to do now, join hill climbers anonymous?
Have a drink maybe.The drink makes the hill seem easier to climb, until it wears off and your half way up the hill, or half way down.
The grand old duke of York had the same problem, he was neither up nor down.
But when he was down he was down, way down.
"But"as the doctor with the magic pills says, "when he was up he was really up, take two a day and come back and see me sometime".
The fool treats the Hill and sends her the bill.
The trip begins again, but it is far from magical.
Boys Don't See Yellow
We saw the yellow tape that warned us not to go down that side of the hill, and we choose to ignore it. Ken and I shared the common knowledge that twelve year old boys are invulnerable.
We jumped on our sled and raced down at Olympic level speeds. Visibility was nil. Snow was everywhere. We launched into the air and...
"You're back," I heard Ken say. I was lying in the snow. "Walk it off, let's do it again."
Twelve year old boys may be invulnerable, but I still feel the pains of my youth. Unprovoked headaches and dizzy spells are a part of my life. I have boys of my own now and I doubt they're any smarter than I was at their age. I make them wear helmets for dangerous sports.
But if they wear them when I'm not looking, well, that's another story.
The Village History Society
We stand encircling the excavation, amateur forensics at a shallow grave, exhuming a body of stones that lie un-plundered under the meadow hill, consecrated by beech and oak. Three centuries since hob-nails scraped these exhumed cobbles. We pick over the spill and sieve out shards of glass and roof slate, fragments of clay pipes, a button, and drop these splinters of the past into sealable plastic food bags for cataloguing in the Cloud.
Floppy straw hats and kneeling mats arranged around the dig like flower petals, combing with trowels, cutting roots with garden centre secateurs; polite, middle-class miners resting for tea and ginger nuts. Who will be commenting on the weather and sipping tea in another millennia, around the gravesite of our lives? Sieving the earth of our existence, brushing the clay off mobile phone components and blister-packs of anti-depressants.
Like a child
'That's my favourite hill'. Conor pointed to the top of a stretch of lush green Massachusetts pasture. The field rose up towards an old wooden fence high up on a ridge and was heavily shaded by thick oak and maple turning slowly orange in the fading sun. 'Come on!'
We climbed quickly, my stride longer than his, but he kept slightly ahead.
'Why is this your favourite field?' I asked again.
'Lie down,' Conor instructed.
I lay down, although the ground was slightly damp.
'Put your arms above your head.'
I looked through the tree canopy at the soft grey clouds scooting across the gap.
'Now roll. This is why it's my favourite field!'
I started to roll like I hadn't done for twenty years and I smiled.
I realised I was older not by feeling, or missing Sunday school and absence of feeling, but by the size of the hill in the Valley park. My parents didn't do the ruler-trick and measure me as to ruin a good piece of doorway. In fact, they barely remembered to take photographs. As such I didn't pay much notice to my ageing until something told me, and one day I saw the hill. It was smaller, that's what did it, and at first I didn't believe it was the same one. There was this hill one time I would roll down with my friends and sometimes I would go so fast my laugh came out vibrating. The thing standing here wouldn't have me, my gangling legs would suffocate it alone of sunlight. I sat, sighed, but didn't roll this time, lest anyone question the foot long thud.
The Hill You Want to Die On
That's the hill I want to die on, she said.
It's not the difference between less and fewer.
It's not a question of preferring coffee over tea.
It's not whether I voted for this, or that.
It's not even about what I think of my government.
It's a real hill, she said, that sunlit hummock I can just glimpse from my balcony, over the other side of the border wall. Can you take me before it's too late? she said. I could tell she didn't have long.
That's really the hill you want to die on? I said.
Yes, she said. I've longed to go there all the time they said I couldn't. Things might be better there.
But once we were there she realised, as she turned back to regard her city and breathed her last, that we were just looking at the other side of the same wall.
The Silent Journey
The house is quiet now, her children's voices just audible outside as they walk to the station.
It's started to rain and the musty smell of early Autumn is in the air, where was the summer?
It's still thirty minutes until her taxi will arrive.
She had almost told Daniel and Ella last night, but couldn't bring herself to ruin such a lovely evening. After all the trauma of the previous couple of years, it was so nice to just talk, eat homemade soup and laugh again, even for a few hours.
A third cup of coffee is needed today, to hell with the palpitations.
The radio talks of hydrogen bomb tests and earthquakes and rescued cattle from flooded lands far away. Life goes on.
The cab approaches over the hill of the driveway, good thinks Sarah, it's Bob driving, should be a quiet journey. She knows it's back.
I feel strangely elevated, as though my senses have been dulled and my thoughts have been calmed. It's like I don't have to worry anymore; now, I don't have to fear the future or jump at every misdirected shadow.
I feel as though I should be worrying. I should be obsessing about the dirt under my fingernails and the cool breeze passing across me, but all my little obsessions - all my overreactions and needless cares - they're gone.
As I stand here at the top of the hill, gazing out across the town that I know so well, I understand the futility of it all.
I don't need to worry, because there's nothing to worry about - not really. I'm alive, and that fact - that single, absolute fact, is just wonderful.
Jason went up on that hill in the Wasatch Range, where many had vanished. Even though he worked as a journalist, he did not visit it for an article. He walked there to disappear.
The problems that plagued him persisted – he remained a freelancer despite the awards he received, his divorce became final and his car did not sell.
He tried perseverance, yet the situations that occurred to him countered that resolve. For instance, he moved into a fine apartment only to get evicted from it the following day.
Once he reached the peak, he observed the surroundings. Shockingly, the place looked normal, there were no traces of the others who had dematerialized. A breeze blew through the area, the trees continued to billow.
'This is it?!'
It had to be, because he was never found.
We’re at the very top of the hill, toes creeping to the edge like divers on boards. To my left my sister tucks her ponytail into her jumper and folds her arms across her chest, like the mummy we saw in the British Museum. I keep mine close to my sides like a penguin.
She sticks her tongue out at me.
“Race you to the bottom!”
I blow a raspberry.
Synchronised, we lie on the ground, toe to toe, like the sausages dad puts in the casserole. There’s something hard beneath my head and I wriggle right towards the edge.
“No cheating.” She barks, her voice sharp.
I roll back and tense. The earth is warm beneath my head, now I’ve moved back from the edge.
My sister counts down and I rock, side to side, until on “one” I finally fly.
Only one more to go.
A prickly north-east wind yanked his coat. He had little time. The compass swung drunkenly. He marched towards the Tor. It wasn’t steep. A hill with a tall Mohican fringe of granite. Not a soul in sight. Perfect.
The final clue – ‘thirty paces from lone tree on south slope.’ The hand carved stamps, all birds of prey, were prized and he was already late. He checked the compass. Abruptly the delicate songs of skylarks were rudely overwritten by the whoop whoop of helicopter blades. Letterbox crime was increasing and he didn’t want to be witnessed by happy snappers. He waited at the base of the tor. The helicopter circled. Then landed. Silence.
Then, ‘Hello, there!’ A stocky man shouted from the top ‘Morning! Do you mind moving away? We’re making a BBC documentary. The tor needs to look deserted.’ How I wish, thought Dean.
He cursed the insomnia. Not because of the fatigue, but because if he hadn’t been awake he might have never noticed the dog.
He laid listening to the night insects until restlessness forced him up, driven to pace the rooms of his home, all muffled echoes and shadow. He roamed until he saw the glowing orbs through the windows of his back deck.
The glowing was no reflection but emanated from the eyes of the beast, a dog that was somehow darker than the night. It didn’t snuffle or bark, but only sat at the door as if waiting for him to let it in.
He sat and watched the dog, worried to let it out of his sight. Before the sun light could touch it though, the dog turned and disappeared, off towards the distant hills, with only a silent promise that it would return tomorrow night.
Charing Cross station, 11am. Cleared of commuters, civilised behaviour returns. Pleasantries in the coffee shop. I buy a bar of chocolate. For sustenance.
Mark joins me in the last carriage at London Bridge. We hug, catch up, share some stories. Remember.
A tiny station in cold Kent. A stranger with his Land Rover waits. We shake hands. “So, tell me how you knew him.”
We’re early. Time for a pit-stop, something warming. Maybe a brandy? It stings my throat.
Then the cold, cold churchyard, on a hill. My scarf is no defence, my heels sink in the mud. And now, we’re late. His children already in the front row, shoulders square, staring ahead.
Later, they speak, their voices clear and sharp. Then their uncle: “He loved you all so much. You must live your lives for him. You did everything you could.”
Barber’s Adagio plays. The cold doesn’t lift.
Said the old man
You don’t want to go down the hill. That be Gnatholebrookbottom where the goblins meet. Keep topside on the grass where the free spirits roam. Them goblins can get proper nasty when the weather’s drear. Spells and runes and chants. Plagues without a thought for ony but theirselves. You take my word, girl, stay up here. The wind’ll put colour in thy cheeks and then you’ll be good as ony man. You’ll stand up to wolves and warlocks. Strew thy herbs and clear the ether. Bright as day. Bright as day, you’ll hold the door against yon fairyfolk.
A New View
The peak rises, the largest that emerges, sharp from the foot of the village, past the river that winds, summer-flecked with boulders, foam and light from the valley below. Clouds shadow dance over the slopes upon specks who labour below.
Half way up the slope, a tight cluster of them struggle one labouring further back, thinner men surrounding his fat form. Sweat drips in his eyes and his head is dipped, not daring to look at the studded rocks and steepening summit path.
Cloud shadows ease the press of heat on his tired head. Others urge him on and he heaves juddering ragged breaths, cursing the cigarettes that caused it, as he craves one.
Then the scramble, lungs straining. Panic, feet slipping. Go. A final push.
Standing at the top, the breeze cools him. The river winks below.
A hill affords a new view,
of the world and
The Hill of Nine Stanes, so called because of the presence of a recumbent stone circle on its top, has always been a special place for me. My father took me up here from my earliest years and I always looked forward to our jaunt out of the village and up the grassy slopes. I still remember the day when he revealed the family legacy to me as we stood on the summit, the glen below shrouded in ethereal mist. Dad is long gone but I remain, the latest in a line of seers born of the Clan MacLennan.
Now I find myself lying on the cold grass of the summit, blinded by tears on this Autumnal Equinox, a time of enhanced second sight. The shattering vision of fire and fury is still raw and I sob uncontrollably as the stars look down on me, on humanity, in silent judgement.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Joe sits at the bottom and contemplates the hill. Tuesdays and Thursdays, he claws at the coal, putting a few pieces in his parka pockets.
Weekends he creates. Takes his homemade tools and sets to, trying to get the pictures out of his head and right through the inkiness. It’s hard.
Joe has now spent more time carving coal than he did mining it. Pushing 70, his eyesight is going, but he works in the dark anyway. When his dog sleeps, he turns off the light and carves, feeling for fault lines and potential splits. Like mining itself, coal carving is all disasters waiting to happen.
He practised for three years before he felt he could put one above his own fire. When the next one is ready, he will drag himself to the top of the black hill to mount his own private exhibition.
Hernan returned to his small apartment each evening just before sunset. On a good day, he would buy tomatoes and bread and carry them back to prepare a simple meal in the tiny kitchen. There he would eat by the open window of his sitting room. It is not so bad here, he would think, listening to the shouts of children in the warm evening air, watching a donkey labour up the hill to the farmland that could be glimpsed at the perimeter of the village. Then there were the bad days, when he felt so sad and lonely that it engulfed him, when he thought of the wife and children he would never have, when he missed his homeland as though he had left only yesterday. On those days, he could not eat. He watched the sky darken, felt his heart close further until he was released to sleep.
Mounds Have Feelings Too
The hill looked down at the mound.
'You are so inferior to me,' he crowed. Shaking the heather that kept him warm through Winter, the fronds rattling their approval.
The mound said nothing.
Above, the laughter of the mountain echoed all of around.
'How stupid you are, hill, I rule here. Look up and see how magnificent I am,' he roared.
The mound remained quiet.
The hill frowned, then begged the birds to bring saplings, promising homes in them, safe from the Arctic blasts.
The trees soon grew so high they started to scratch the sky
'Look, now I am a mountain in height!' shouted the hill.
But the sky grew irritated with the trees scratching it, whipping up the wind and rain to lash down and the ground cowered and cracked.
The hill and mountain collapsed into trembling heaps.
The mound, intact, surveyed it's new kingdom, and smiled.
The Clock Tower
Our new home is known as the Clock Tower.
It sits in an elevated position above the village, the clock face beaming out across the valley below. Every house in the village has a line of sight to our clock face, the geographical layout a masterpiece of practical design.
It is late one Autumn evening when we arrive with our new keys, the air inside the building stale and unwelcoming. We spend our first night on temporary beds, made from the boxes and remnants of our past.
When we wake the following morning it is late and silent - no sounds or movement from the village below, the country air peaceful and...
The clock! We forgot to wind up the clock!
The entire village has overslept.
We hurriedly get dressed to make amends, but already our new neighbours are running up the hill to greet us.
Me, Doug, Nathan and Steve with the limp all trekked our way up here at sunrise with our wooden swords twirling and our tall shadows dancing like the fearsome, angry men we'd hopefully be one day.
Once we'd all decided what to fight about, we began. I threw Steve with the limp to the floor first as he was the weakest and Nathan gave up soon after I hit him on the knuckles.
Me and Doug fought for hours, until we both resembled detergent advert boys, covered in dirty bruises and muddy tears. I finally managed to wrench his sword from his hand and beat him with it until he cried and ran home. Steve and Nathan were already gone.
I'm king of the hill and everyone knows it now, they'll have told everyone, even my mum. It's lonely up here and cold, and i'm starting to wish i'd lost.
The Sunday morning Lycra crowd have assembled themselves in a neon clutch by the post box at the end of the road. Pot-bellies, misjudged tattoos, wannabe-yummy mummies. I look on from my bedroom window, sipping hot tea in a dressing gown, with a forehead my wife would call cynical.
Pot-belly number one blows a whistle and they're off, trotting up the slope. No one wants to be at the front, nor the back, so they escalate our hill in a puffing, polite line. Past the primary school and the Victorian semis, up and up, with a jolly bounce in their self-important strides.
Just before the bunting between the telegraph poles at the summit, there are desperate glances at little wristwatch computers. I hear a scuffle and spot a pot-belly break away from the pack, raising his fists in victory.
I frown and sip my tea. What's the point?
They said she was over the hill. Too old to be a part of the Edenbury Annual Talent Contest and yet here she was and knew exactly what song she would perform.
The six preliminary rounds had been difficult but she had prevailed, her rich voice reaching even the highest notes.
If ascending to the final had been a bit of a slippery slope hadn’t her whole life been an uphill struggle? Constant financial battles, the usual family problems, sickness, accidents but she had overcome the biggest obstacles. Why should this be any different?
She practised daily in the Kitchen, Lounge, in the bath and especially on the stairs.
The big night arrived. I sat far more nervous than she was but completely enthralled.
The audience rose as one to give my grandmother a standing ovation at the end of her winning rendition of Climb Every Mountain.
Several Thoughts Run Through Your Mind When You Lock Yourself Out Of Your Hotel Room
Your phone sitting on that little table under the window with the view of the hills for one, the bath filling with water for another. How deep is it now? You hope the overflow works. And why on earth did you ask room service for breakfast in your room, maybe then you wouldn't have opened the door on suspicion of a knock, and maybe you wouldn't have stepped into the corridor to see where they’d got to; and if you'd given any thought to the situation beforehand the suitcase you keep tripping over could have acted as a doorstop. After confirming brute force alone isn't going to open the door the only option left is to ride the lift down to reception, if only you remembered you were naked before the doors closed.
Past the Point of No Return
Seagulls wail and cackle as Morwenna leaves the small cottage that has belonged to her family for centuries. For a moment, she stands at the top of Talland Hill; the clinking boats in the harbour and the salty air chafing her blistered hands are as familiar to her as her ugly fisherwoman's clothes. It's early Saturday morning and with no school many are making the same journey. Polperro, a tea towel shaking itself fresh for the day's work, tumbling the children like crumbs towards the harbour: this is where you belong, this is your future, and this is your life.
Morwenna's feet, in her old boots, begin chasing each other down the slope. Her hair escapes its bindings; the wind sings a freedom song in her ears. She races past the Lookout, past the Three Pilchards Inn, past the Methodist Chapel. Faster, faster, she won't stop. She can't stop now.
General Stinger, boots firmly planted on the ground, overlooked his troops below the hill, accompanied by his aides and a small contingent of footmen. Seeing that his troops outnumbered those of the enemy by far, his spirit rose. He felt taller today, and everyone would look up to him when this day became history.
He silenced the tiny voice in his head, “Oh, what would you be now, Geoffrey, had you not taken the military path? A baker? A miller? Or a carpenter, like your father?”, with a swift turn of his head.
He ordered his aide-de-camp to initiate the attack, and at the sound of the trumpet his troops unsheathed their swords and charged.
The resulting noise was deafening, but was not able to mute the tiny voice.
“A butcher! Certainly a butcher!“
The air is cold and fresh, the window open for the first time in a long while. The cobwebs that once sat in the corners are all gone. The little ones are afraid of spiders and squeal whenever they see one. They’re always making noise; from happiness, anger, sadness or fear, every emotion seems to be accompanied by an exclamation and it’s wearing.
Her sister saw she needed a break and took all four of them for the day. The house is finally silent and Rivka has cleaned it from top to bottom. Now, she lies on her bed, staring at the mountain that is her belly, doing nothing. Perhaps she will continue doing nothing all day.
Sounds from outside drift in on the breeze. The Hasidic matriarchs of Stamford Hill cluck to one another as they pass by the house, reminding her: a woman’s work is never done.
He started off briskly. The sun was warm, the day pleasant and clear. To reach the castle took two days, but he knew a better way, a straighter, steeper path that he could see from the grassy foot of the hill.
He climbed. Soon, he found rock beneath him, and a mad sun above him, drenching him in sweat and narrowing his eyes. He kept his eyes fixed on the building high above him, and hardened his resolve, thought about the castle and why he had come.
HIs footsteps were scattered, his vision swam and his journey was starting to end. A small mis-step, one hand grasped for purchase, and the edge of the rock sliced his palm open in a long scarlet line, blood-drops pattering on the stony mountain. His throat rattled as he breathed, in and out, the man, the mountain and the sun.
A mountain to climb...
From the top of the mountain, the valley is shrouded in mist. Catching my breath, I sit as I have done many times before. A peace descends - something I haven't felt for weeks.
It will be over soon, my life forever changed. I won't come here again, without him.
He called this mountain 'a hill', and laughed when I reacted. He always got to the top before me. He was fit and energetic, and loved his climbs. He once said, if I have to die, I hope it's on a mountain peak, breathing in beautiful air for the last time.
Well, he got his wish. He died on an expedition to the Himalayas, along with two friends.
Later today, his ashes will be scattered on a higher peak than this while I sit and think of what might have been.
I was sitting in front of you, looking into your eyes. Time has stopped. The ticking of the clock slowed down, then faded away. I heard my own breathing; it was loud, like I was screaming. I knew we only had a few moments.
I was waiting for you to say something; some words that would change reality, change our world. I was looking into your eyes; I noticed a dark brown spot in your left iris, resembling a bird flying. Maybe above a hill. And I was waiting.
I imagined how I would react when you said those words; I imagined the feeling and shivered. The hands of the clock on the wall were still, and the air frozen; I could hardly breathe anymore. I was waiting.
But you didn’t say anything. You stayed silent. And the moment was gone.
It was six in the morning.
She couldn't get herself to sleep yet and was roaming the house instead.
Until she found herself in front of the big window.
She looked outside to find the sun had already risen behind the hill and life began pulsing through the nature veins again.
She couldn't take her eyes off the view for what seemed like hours.
There were so much stillness and calmness you could almost get lost in it, she thought. And that fascinated her.
She found it beautiful and wished she could get out and just lose herself out there.
The landscape offered in front of her weary eyes, all fluorescent and peaceful, was so unearthly and inviting that she felt tears wetting her cheeks with helplessness.
It felt as if she grew older all of a sudden, and was aware more than ever of the weight of her burden.
She was absolutely frantic. She reached the top of the hill and looked back down to see if it was still following her. She couldn't see it, but she could hear it. The heavy animal panting and grunting, tree limbs cracking and the weight of it crushing the underbrush and swishing the long grass.
She had no idea what it was, only that it was chasing her. It was larger than any animal she had ever seen in her life. If she could hear it, it must be close, so she started to run. As scared as she was, she fell and tumbled down the hill. The large estate house wasn't far. Her prospects brightened as she saw the house. The animal suddenly appeared between her and the house.
A Million Snowflakes Deep
The slope is smooth with a multitude of tiny thorns linked in a vast army of white. In the quiet night, they build and swell, and curl themselves into a cornice, waiting for a wisp of wind to tip their balance.
As the first sun glitters on the hill, your skis teeter on the lip of the precipice, anticipating the joy of the sweeping fall. The serpentine furrows behind you, covered by a feathery blanket. You push on, sucked down by temptation. Your single victory cry echoes in the frozen morning air. The snowflakes release their hold on the mountain and chase you in silent menace.
You lie under the freezing velvet, not knowing which way is up. Your ears are packed with ice. Tinnitus rings in your head. Your sightless eyes burn with cold, and your cheeks are brushed with nature’s kiss of betrayal.
A million snowflakes deep.
I REMEMBER what my father said to me when I broke the news to the family that I was taking journalism because I wanted to continue the legacy of my maternal grandfather, a legacy no one in the clan dared to follow. "It can get you killed," Maybe just like the old man. When I was younger, my mother would tell me that her father was a hero. I wanted to be like him-- to help people and bring truth and justice. Now I doubted my decision. With a duct tape plastered on my mouth, hands tied behind my back, and blindfolded eyes, I contemplate about my life. Have I done anything good to world? I am just about to stand for the oppressed when they stopped me from doing it. Did I go over the hills just to be abducted? If I die tonight, will I be a hero?
Just Another Mountain
‘The embassy told you they’ll do all they can, you have to trust them.’ Mike glanced at his wife’s tear-stained face.
‘The flight’s tomorrow and who knows how long Dad will last, the doctor I spoke to is surprised he’s made it this far.’ An image of her cancer-riddled father floated into Lucy’s mind.
‘How can I fly without a passport? If only that creep hadn’t bumped into me. If only I hadn’t gone to the market to stock up on last minute stuff for you.’
‘If only’s get you nowhere, my love. Take a deep breath and look out of the window.’ Mike soothed.
Lucy turned and stared at the snow-capped Jungfrau towering in the distance.
‘See that mountain, in real terms compared to Everest it’s a little hill. Losing your passport is the same, annoying maybe, but not the worst thing that can happen.’ Mike squeezed her hand.
The Piper's Son
Tom, Tom. What will you do. Dad is dead. And she's left you. Over the hill and far away.
God it's been a bad year.
The metal and glass of the car, a dozen stumbling steps of cold air, and a thick stone wall suck the melody out of the old music, leaving a dismal toneless drone.
You've grown up with the racket of the Northumbrian smallpipes. Your father loved them, completely. It was more of a love-hate thing, with the rest of the family.
Nice of them to ask you along, Dad's old folkie friends. They fill the old Pennine pub tonight, with their beards and bellies and their noise. A celebration of his life, they said. But like everything connected with your Dad, it soured in the end.
Time to go, Tom Tom. Her Tyneside flat's still in there, a preset. You've not had too much, you hope.
Over the Hill
The troll, inevitably, spelled ‘you’re’ incorrectly but the message was clear. Apparently someone of sixty plus years was no longer worthy to express an opinion. ‘Over the hill.’ The phrase evoked memories of her mother announcing ‘Let’s go over the hill.’ They’d pack a picnic and climb the steep hill near their house. The view from the other side was spectacular. Houses and a retail park now obliterated the valley’s meadows and woods but she decided to make the effort once more, not for the current dispiriting view, but for the joy of the return journey. She might now, as her troll claimed, be over the hill but once she reached the top she put on her thick padded jacket, lay down feet together and arms stretched out above her head and began her rolling descent. Down she rolled faster and faster reliving her carefree childhood sensation of total freedom.
The Hill At The Edge Of The Wood
Six quiet people stood on the hill at the edge of the wood.
Three bags had been discarded on the ground. A mud stained teddy bear had been lost from the luggage; abandoned in the sand that was like mud that was like glue that was like tears.
Four were women. One was a girl.
They came together in a circle as though to pray. Religion had no meaning. Gods could be godless. The women knew.
“I want to find my sister.” One said, while a man loaded a gun in the distance.
“I want to go home.” Said another, knowing her home was rubble and dirt.
“I want to say goodbye.”
“I want to be a child again.”
“I want to forget.”
The wind took their words and shot them through the leaves, stirring them with their sadness, lifting them gently until they fell to the ground.
Julie swivels on her red leather bar stool. The reflection is true. It is Malcolm. In his yellow jumper knitted by his Auntie Agnes. Julie knows this; they were once a couple. His Auntie Agnes made one for Julie too - in the same canary yellow, with cables twisting up the itchy sleeves. Julie’s never worn it.
He’s seen her. Heading her way. Beads of perspiration trickle down her neck. She can’t do this. Not again. Not now. She doesn’t run. For once she stays her ground.
“Been looking for you,” he says.
“You’ve found me.”
“Remember the hill?”
“Last thing I need to remember,” she says, remembering, sliding off the bar stool, grabbing her handbag, heading for the loo.
‘I’ll order you another.” He turns to the barman as if conspiring.
Julie’s in the loo on her phone. ‘Come and get me Dad, can you? It's happening again.’
The racecourse at Newbury has a slight uphill tangent after the final hurdle, so I crouch low on my horse’s neck and push him on with the noise of the whip that crackles through the air like an electric storm. His stride is intoxicating as Thoroughbred blood pulses through his veins and he accelerates. The smell of horse sweat engulfs me and we overtake the leading horse; I urge Bengal Spice towards the winning post and an ecstatic crowd clamours around the Winner’s Enclosure in my penultimate race. I dismount, the racehorse owner embraces me and I inhale her expensive perfume. Closing my eyes, I savour the moment, not knowing I will take this memory out to sip in all the long years ahead. I kiss Bengal Spice’s featherweight horseshoe before placing it amongst the trophies. My wheelchair squeaks plaintively as I roll it back towards the window.
Heuvels hebben ogen (Hills have eyes)
After she left, I couldn't face people and their well-meaning "It'll be alrights" because how could they possibly know? To avoid company, I only left the house just as the sun was shaking of its somnolence. Her treasured spot, the hill (or, de heuvel as she would say, because despite having lived here for decades, Dutch words still peppered her lively conversation) became my treasured spot. I delighted in, as she had, watching the zon illuminate the sky in a fury of pinks and yellows which mirrored the willow herb and dandelions that blanketed the hill.
Gratefully, I never saw anyone on my visits but someone must have seen me for presents began to appear on my bench. I didn't think them for me at first - many must come here during the day - but when the hand-tied tulips became Kersen Bonbons, her favourite, I knew that everything would be alright.
Down, but looking up
Passed the point of exhaustion my tired limbs keep going.
I am near the top of the hill, determined not to look back yet, down at the view I am climbing to see. I’m not ready, my journey isn’t complete.
I arrive, finally, taking a moment to gather before I turn to face my prize, if I can call it that.
The world, exactly as I left it and yet it looks different from up here. That which overpowers and stifles up close seem less threatening, almost beautiful.
I think of a tiger’s cage, the danger if I was trapped inside. Yet on the other side of the bars, at a safe distance, I can experience the wonder of it, the miracle of creation, both it and mine.
Thus is the same with the world. Grant me safe distance, let me marvel and not fear, love and not feel suffocated.
With thanks to all the writers who have made this issue possible.Alex Black, Alexandra Atiya, Anita Nahal, Arthur Courier, Bill Cox, Carol Leggatt, Cheryl Byrne, Christine Nedahl, Colleen Harrell, CR Smith, Crilly O'Neil, D. Milne, Dan Galvin, Dave Murray, Dave Vanderkop, Debbie Ross, Dez Thomas, Diane Knight, Donna Frances Thomson, Dylan Connors, Edward Collins, Eilise Norris, Ellen Baker, Emily Weatherburn, Erik D'Souza, Fee Johnstone, Frankie J Spencer, Heather Curtis, Hilary Taylor, Jacqueline Harrett, Janet Laugharne, Jaundré M. van Breda, Jay Bee, Jennifer Halkyard, Jill Robinson, John Dapolito, John Herbert, John Wigham Shirt, Julie Bull, Justin Rulton, Klaus Kluge, Lindsay Bamfield, Liz Jones, Louise Mangos, Lucas Abbott, M.D. Jayabalan, Mark Ralph-Bowman, Mark Sadler, Mary Davies, Matt Castle, Matthew Cooper McLean, Michael Rumsey, Mike O'Reilly, Mitja Lovše, Morna Clements, Paul Thompson, Poppy Hawkins, Raewyn Bassett, Rob Walton, Rosanna Wood, S.B.Borgersen, Sally Armstrong, Salma Ben Rebah, Samantha Pepen, Sandy East, Sophie Watson, Steven John, Susan Carey, Szilvia Mohai, Tessa Vanderkop, Thomas Malloch, Thomas Sanders, Ursula Brunetti, Veronica Whittaker, Yssa Manapat
13th September 2017