Sometimes There is a Hill and One Must Run Up It #Throwback Thursday

I don’t know why I have such a nostalgia for music back when I was a kid but this seems to happen more and more as time passes. And as we are in the midst of a Kate Bush renaissance, I had to share a song from the legend that is.

I find so many of her songs exhilarating (King of the Mountain, This Woman’s Work, Babooshka, Pi to name a few), as in, they make you want to fly. Or start running around doing pirouettes and high kicks (even if you can’t, which I can’t). I’ve been listening to this iconic power ballad a lot this week, as have so many new younger fans due to its recent revival as the soundtrack to the new season of Stranger Things. Which has sent it straight to No.1 and deservedly so.

Words can’t describe this type of love song, it’s so many levels beyond all others. And this is not a spoiler alert but the way it accents the scene in the aforementioned horror series is so poignant. The idea that a song can save your life is just wonderful to me. And why not? There are times only a song can get through and nothing else.

As an individual, she rarely seeks the limelight. It’s like she got a good chunk of her irrepressible talent out of her system by her 30s (whilst giving us an incredible canon of music to enjoy for all time), then occasionally pops up every ten years or so to release another album if she feels like it, whilst remaining largely a mystery.

She is also the only artist to be the youngest and the oldest to have a No.1 hit: at 19 with Wuthering Heights, and now at 63 with Running Up That Hill. Both songs were written and composed by her. I don’t really have the right word but she is beyond admirable.

Plus I only just realised what a marvellous ensemble both she and her beau are wearing in this video. If you’re grappling with some existential soul trouble and are on your way to heaven, dress accordingly and don a pair of Samurai trousers and a ballet top and walk through the pearly gates looking chic as hell.

And what, pray tell, is your favourite Kate Bush song? 🙂

Bibliophilia (iii) Book Reviews (Random Reads)

I haven’t done a book post for a while and I thought I ought to address that. One, I’ve been reading a bit slower than usual and this time, one book at a time. Two, I do have a book problem, in that I’m addicted to buying books, and I really ought to get on with reading them rather than creating yet another book tower by the bed. Three, the books I did happen to read were not massively enthralling, so I didn’t feel compelled to recommend them.

Perhaps I should review them anyway? The thing is, I don’t feel comfortable giving anything a “negative” review. I only want to review stuff I wholeheartedly recommend. I’ll still read a book I’m not crazy about to the end though in case it livens up midway or has a blinder of an ending. That aside, I’ve had some great bookshop experiences lately.

Last week, in my local secondhand bookshop, I came across Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea. I’ve never read any Sartre and it seems like the kind of writer any reader worth their salt ought to notch on their desk post so I got it (literally only £1.29!). I also found a Vonnegut (£2!), a book of poetry by Margaret Atwood (£3!) and another book of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy (£2!). So it was a good day at the bookshop, people.

Anyway, I’ll stop banging on and let you know about some random reads I ardently recommend…

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

This was a painfully beautiful read. So many poetic turns of phrase throughout that made me sigh.  No unnecessary words are used.  Some sentences are three words long.  Images are painted and left hanging.  An air of dystopia pervades the world.  You question which country this could be happening in and you have to fill in the blanks yourself. 

It deals with how women are judged within society for perfectly reasonable choices they make, and also how they are dealt with if they step over the line, drawn by an ill-natured authority. It is not for them to decide what they do with their bodies. There’s quite a parallel with what is currently happening with the anti-Abortion bill they’re trying to pass (and have passed) in certain US states.  It’s not an easy read.  Characters are acutely lonely for different reasons. Emotions are stark and glaring. You are left wondering what you would do in similar circumstances.  Still, I found this a riveting read and – to use an overused phrase – unputdownable.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

I got this a year ago, and I would have experienced it differently had I read it then. It’s quite poignant to read it with a filter of war waging in the country it talks about.  It’s actually a laugh-out-loud comedy and deals with relatable dysfunctional family scenarios with delightful dry humour, reminding you how “normal” your own family is.

It puts a lens on how family members can be so different and divided despite being blood-related, something I’ve always found fascinating. But also how one’s search for love can lead them to make shocking decisions that disturb the clan status quo, whilst also in some ways bringing it together.  Such as your elderly dad marrying someone less than half his age so she can get a passport and all his money, and he in return gets, well, other favours. A wonderful read when taking a pause between chores or for some coffee break quiet time.  Though at times the humour is dark, and darker still knowing the country it describes is being utterly destroyed as we speak.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

So I finally got round to reading some Vonnegut. And now I get why there’s so much fuss around this one. It’s a very surreal, unexpected premise for a tale. Gritty, unflinching, and at times, darkly ironic, it depicts the casual cruelty and senselessness of war told through the eyes of an accidental time traveller.

The main character has an unusual condition where he often finds himself coming unstuck in time so he is able to experience different moments in his life simultaneously. He is flung hither and yon from one reality to another, the main one being his experience of the deplorable fire bombing of Dresden in 1945, controversial because the war was coming to an end and it was therefore unnecessary (though of course, all war is unnecessary).

In a weird way, I found the whole tale very plausible. I could imagine someone having this condition. The ability to time travel as another level of extra sensory perception. And despite the subject matter, this book is infinitely readable because it’s peppered with such brilliant nuggets of wisdom and moments of candid comedy throughout.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I’ve read this before but recently I had a strong urge to read it again and it was just as enchanting as I remembered it. Hemingway always takes me a while to get into, but this tale will gently sweep you away. We learn about the strange and beautiful behaviour of fish at sea told through the eyes of an age-old fisherman. We share his lamentation and the ongoing brotherly battle of wills between him and the sea creature he is trying to overcome, as they refuse to give in to each other. Both are at the other’s mercy and beyond help. This story really speaks of the bonding between man and beast. It’s moving and humbling. You’ll probably get a lump in your throat. It may well put you off fishing. It’ll certainly renew your respect for the sea.

I’m now spoilt for choice as to what to read next but it’s a lovely dilemma to have.

What are you reading at the moment?

© N Nazir 2022

The Void Stirs #publication

© Geetanjal Khanna (Unsplash)

The edge of searching is a place that soaks

you in rain, for you would rather get wet

and take the long way to meet your dream than…


…I would be delighted if you would read the rest of the poem here.

© N Nazir 2022

*I am over the moon to have my poem published in the latest issue of Green Ink Poetry! My greatest thanks to this wonderful press for accepting my work ❤ You can also read all other poets work here.

*This poem was first written for NaPoWriMo this year. I decided to use my own name for a change. However, I enjoy being called Sunra, so please continue to do so 🙂

Objet D’art

Like my dress?  I fashioned it myself. 
Balloon sleeves for flights of fancy.
The vernacular of a woman of substance.

Heaven’s blazes man, why are you staring?
I do this a lot, you know, stand about in the open.
It reminds everyone how formidable I am.

Anyway, that dreadful woman across the way
pinched my pearls and tied them around her ankles
for some inane reason.  I don’t think she understood

how to wear them.  But I’ve got them back now,
thank goodness.  Wait a minute…
…can you smell burning?

© N Nazir 2022

Written for Sammi Scribbles Weekend Writing Prompt: Vernacular, 90 words, and The Sunday Muse, hosted by Carrie, whose choice of images I thought were particularly wonderful this week.

I adore this woman with enormous sleeves looking so nonchalant even though her hair’s on fire. I like that she isn’t an object as women are so often portrayed but is staring out at the viewer directly. The female gaze, for a change. She’s probably thinking: “That’s right, gentlemen, you’re the object. I’m watching you watching me. You should be scared, I’m the firestarter.”

When the Rains Come

Erasure Poem #60, pen & ink on paper, Sketchbooks 2022, © N Nazir 2022

Follow a new path
not the wild
ruins of roses.

Such a foolish plan
to love you.

The dark eyes
of the night

keep me safe
as I disappear.

© N Nazir 2022

*I am at a loss as to where the source text was from. I started this ages ago so had already inked over the background when I came to finish it this morning. It may have been The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter but to be honest, I’ve no idea.

Shared for dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Bjorn.