Visible Fictions Keeps Creativity Alive During Lockdown

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Over 100 people joined the Visible Fictions online event Phone Fictions Watch Party that took place on Tuesday the 28th of April at 3 pm on Facebook.

Dougie Irvine, Artistic Director of Visible Fictions, gave some background on the project.

“The premise was really simple. We asked artists from all over Scotland to pitch ideas to us for short stories that could be filmed from the comfort of their own home using their mobile phones.”

“All we asked is that they would be entertaining and uplifting.”

Irvine said they aimed to commission 10 films but ended up choosing 15: “The quality of the pitches from artists across the nation were so fantastic that we knew we had to make more.”

The family-friendly online event showcased diverse art forms such as stop motion animation, original music, sketches, and monologues.

Halfway through the show, Sophie Ochojna, Marketing and Development Manager for Visible Fictions, talked about the prospects of the company.

“If the restrictions are lifted and we’re allowed to, we’re going to be touring a new production this autumn around Scotland.-

“It’s by playwriter Morna Young and it’s called The Squawk Talk Secrets, suitable for families with children over seven and up.”

Ochojna said the tour would include community venues, theatres, and schools.

During the watch party, viewers could post real-time comments.

In the comical piece “Clover Light Field” by James Beagon, food and toilet paper mysteriously disappeared in a flat.

Darrel Williams commented: “Excellent – just how I’m feeling.”Laura Kwiatkowski said “Wow what amazing creativity with an avocado!” after watching Elspeth Chapman‘s piece. It was a stop motion animation of some hands carving faces out of avocado seeds.

Cooking Disasters Brighten your Life

Today I would like to honour my cooking disasters. I feel like they deserve a post on my blog. Yes. Cooking disasters brighten your life. They also provide a really good opportunity for that long and liberating crying session that you’ve been postponing for months. How boring my life would be if every time that I tried to cook something it turned out amazing!

Burnt NYE Pizza

Yes, I’m not afraid to admit it. Burning a pizza on New Year’s Eve is starting to feel like a tradition. Bear in mind that when I say burn I mean burn. I am not talking about a gently toasted or lightly browned pizza. Just picture a black circle. Then add your favourite topics: black pepperoni, black mozzarella, black and crispy bacon… As you might know, in Spain, we eat twelve grapes at midnight on NYE. If you don’t,  you can expect bad luck for the rest of your life. Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I’m starting to think my calling is burning pizzas instead.

It’s not pizza but it’s close enough. Source: GIPHY

Easter Cake Fail

Like many other people, I felt like baking during lockdown. Unfortunately, my first baking experience didn’t go as expected. Easter was around the corner, so I thought it would be nice to try to bake a very special cake that we eat on Easter Monday. When I say we, I am referring to the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Murcia, and Valencia.

This delicious sponge cake (we call it “Mona de Pasqua”) will try to steal your heart with its apricot jam, candied fruit, and chopped almonds.

Getting the ingredients was already a challenge. I couldn’t find any flour, baking powder, or candied fruit. Instead of giving up, I decided to innovate. After some Google research on a very slow 4G, I bought some cornflour, cream of tartar, and really cute tiny icing carrots.

Back home, I assembled all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. While I was casually reading the cream of tartar label, I found out something horrifying: if I wanted to use it as a substitute for baking powder, I had to mix it with bicarbonate of soda. Spoiler alert: I didn’t have bicarbonate of soda. The supermarket neither.

I decided to proceed regardless. I added some egg whites to the dough in a desperate attempt to increase the volume. It just went worse and worse from there. I messed up while pouring the dough into the cake tin and some of it ended up all over my jeans. I oven-baked what was left of the dough. You can see the result below… Even after baking it in the oven for what seemed like an eternity, it was still kind of raw inside. The taste was atrocious, believe me… Can you guess which is the one I made?

Scrambled Zombie Pancakes

I woke up late, feeling like a zombie with a creepy hoarse voice and craving pancakes. I didn’t have enough flour according to the recipe. I’m sure you know that zombies don’t like going to the supermarket so that wasn’t an option. My flatmate kindly lent me some of her exotic coconut flour. There was some light at the end of the tunnel. But no. The pancakes kept breaking after turning them. I kept the momentum going and instead of crying, I listened. The coconut pancakes didn’t want to be normal pancakes. They were born to be scrambled.

Truth is those pancakes had a strange flavour and texture… I ate them anyway, though. There is nothing that lactose-free chocolate and hazelnut spread can’t fix.

By the way, I also use the scrambled trick on other occasions. For example, it’s quite useful when you’re initially going for an omelette but you observe too much resistance. Give it a try ;).

Lightly Salted Cake

What a fancy name for a cake. Well, it’s not. It’s just the name of another of my cooking disasters. It’s the result of not labelling containers. You can already guess what this is about: I was happily baking a cake. I added 260 grams of “sugar”. Later, I realised it was salt. I took the block of concrete out of the oven, waited for it to cool down, and ate a slice binned it.  Life’s too short. Be gentle with your arteries :).

What about you? Do your cooking disasters brighten your life as well? Feel free to share them on the comments below. Happy cooking and crying!

First Day with Contact Lenses

A colored abstract eye in purple, green and pinnk
Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

The first day of wearing contact lenses is big, exciting and scary at the same time. No one is ready for that, to be honest. You assemble a mirror, tie your hair up in a ponytail and wear your most comfortable clothes to allow freedom of movement. You do some arm stretches, followed by some wrist and finger stretches and tapping exercises. Fine motor skills need to be at their best today. 

You take a deep breath. 

The contact lenses are happily floating in their solution. Yes, it feels kind of cruel. You will take them outside of their natural habitat and place them in some strange and uncharted territory (aka your eyes). And drumroll please… they might not like it there. They might get annoyed and dry your eyes so much until you give up and remove them. Or they might feel all cosy and just let you be, and see, most importantly. 

Gathering strength from God knows where you carefully grab one and place it on your index finger. You inspect it carefully to check if the shape is correct (if it’s not a perfect circle, it might be inside out, as your optician warned you). Everything seems fine. In slow-motion, you bring the contact lens closer and closer to your right eye. Your terrifying look is undeniable (Thank God no one is around to immortalize the moment). You are almost there, and your eye is wide open, ready to embrace his new friend. 

Plot twist. Your eyelid closes. Again, again and again. It’s like there’s a switch somewhere: as soon as the enemy is too close, it’s time to close the curtains. And then you sort of wish you were in that A Clockwork Orange scene where the eyes are clamped open… But then you think again, realise it might be a bit painful and forget about it. 

After several failed attempts, somehow you succeed. You are now wearing one contact lens on your right eye. WOW! It’s a whole new world out there, you think, keeping your left eye closed. Fuelled with adrenaline, you rush and manage to put the contact lens on your left eye on your first strike. Oh boy, does it feel good… 

It’s like seeing for the first time. The frame of your glasses is gone. Your eyes are wild and free to look wherever they want. Everything is clear and focused. It’s better than a dream! Every once in a while, your hand reaches up in an attempt to readjust your glasses (which are no longer there). It will take a while to get rid of this automated action… Later on, you’re chilling on the sofa and decide to read a book and out of force of habit, you reach for your glasses and put them on*. 

*All memories of what happened afterwards have been meticulously erased. Thank you, brain, I owe you one. 

Thank you, Writers’ HQ for this lovely exercise on day#1 of 14 Days of Self Write-solation :).

P.S.: Aliens struggle with eyesight too. Find evidence on that here.

Guess what, I’m immune to coronavirus -I mean, an alien!- (Chapter 8)

Photo by Morgan Von Gunten

8th of April, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, I can finally say goodbye to those sleepless nights staring at the ceiling… I’m officially immune. Take that, COVID-19! When Dr Crownie told me over the phone, my three-eyed-glasses almost crashed on the floor from the excitement. I got so pumped that I immediately created an event on Facebook to celebrate my immunity. I invited Dave, Dr Crownie and his lab assistant, and his weird four-legged creature with a tail and a big tongue. Shortly after everyone started rejecting my invitation: “Sorry mate, can’t make it”. “Hopefully next time”. “Quite busy at the moment”. “Unfortunately I got my online shiatsu massage scheduled at that time”. How silly of me. Obviously, no one would be able to come to my party. Sometimes I feel like I’m from another planet. Do you ever feel this way?

So here’s the thing. (DISCLAIMER: I’m not 100% sure this is true, but hey, who is?) Right now, I might be the only living creature who can break the rules and get away with it. I could go out for a run 15 times a day. I could eat mindfully in empty restaurants (cooking my food and quickly refilling my cup of water after drinking). I could travel around Europe in a private jet (It’s not actually a private jet, but I would be the only passenger anyway, so it would be super cool) and go sightseeing in ghost cities. I could buy one banana in every single supermarket in town (for market research purposes, you got me). There’re so many things I could do that I don’t know where to start… Truth is, it might eventually get boring -and potentially quite depressing-. I need to start thinking of ways I could clone myself or just anyone really… But someone COVID-19-proof. And then we could travel the world, less than two meters apart, holding each other’s hands… And it would feel like a dream. These are just my humble ideas. What would YOU do if you if you were immune too? 😉

Guess what, I’m an alien! (Chapter 7)

Red and white daruma doll figurine on pink background.
Easter 2020 in a nutshell. Yes, I know it’s not a egg. Photo by Brunno Tozzo

2nd of April, 2020

I feel like it has been Sunday for ten days in a row but I have the impression this might not be possible. At least, here on Earth. Anyway, somehow I forgot to write in my diary… Luckily I didn’t forget about my virtual appointment with my GP several days ago. Dr Crownie, still wearing his SpongeBob pyjamas, seemed to be fascinated with my case. He was also deeply concerned in case coronavirus caused unexpected symptoms in my body. Then he went on about his long career and how he had never encountered a similar situation and asked for permission to write a report about me. If I could blush, I could have… But aliens don’t blush. My mum would be so proud of me! I would be famous! Right you, back to the important bits. So yeah, basically Dr Crownie told me that I have to collect and send some samples for him to perform a “thorough and compendious” analysis. No idea what he meant, but I agreed anyway. He needed blood, breath, urine and hair. HAIR! What on Mars is that? Ah right, that fluffy thing some humans have to keep their head nice and warm… Well, I don’t have (or need) any of that, thank you very much.

So yeah, unfortunately I still don’t know if I can get coronavirus. I have to wait for the results… I feel cool as a cucumber, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. And no, of course I didn’t manage to get those COVID-19 positive human samples from the hospital because Dr Crownie told me to self-isolate at home until he has more information on how to proceed. Yes, I am a disappointment to my family. I might not be allowed in my hometown ever again. And no, my aunt won’t send me chocolate eggs for Easter… Not even a card.

Guess what, I’m an alien! (Chapter 6)

24th of March, 2020

I have to admit that when Dave first mentioned it, I was about to bake a cake because I thought they had discovered a new asteroid. Turns out it’s not exactly that. And it’s not good news. But I was kind of close. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure you know there’s a new virus going around. What you might not know is that there’s an astrobioligist called Chandra Wickramasinghe that claimed that COVID-19 came from space, travelling through a meteor. Offended? A LOT. Puzzled? That too. I wish I had paid more attention at school… I am too embarrassed to email my teacher about this. Luckily, my aunt is a police officer, so I found appropiate sending her a link with the article so she can properly investigate the issue. She told me that she needs proof ASAP. Guess who will have to sneak into the hospital and “borrow” some positive swab samples COVID-19 positive… Not sure exactly how am I going to send them over to her. But I’ll sort out the logistics tomorrow.

But still, there’s too many questions unanswered for my poor four brains… Can I, since everyone keeps claiming I am an “alien” (no comments…), get infected with the virus as well? Should I expect the same symptoms as humans? Do I need to wear a mask? Where do I find a mask that doesn’t irritate my slimy skin? Are the space borders closed as well or can I go and “briefly” visit my mum to tell her I’m OK? I phoned 007 and when I explained I was an alien they hung up and blocked my number. SHOCKING. No one seems to take me seriously here, except from Dave. Because look, if it turns out I am immune to COVID-19, I could go and help at the hospitals, do the grocery for elderly people, walk people’s dogs… But instead, here I am, stuck in my flat, refreshing teenager memories by watching Venus Shore for the fifth time… And I can’t even meet Dave for a cup of tea.

Tomorrow at 2.59pm I have a videocall with my GP. Let’s see what he has to say… Stay safe everyone…

Hungry for more? 😉

Mind-blowing moments of 2019

  • Washine-machine safe tissues (Read again. Yes. Funny spelling mistakes)
  • Realising that I’ve been pronouncing the word ‘sandwich’ wrong all my life (and feeling comforted by knowing that it’s a common mistake amongst Spanish and Italian speakers)
  • Realising that ‘tanga’ means the same in Catalan and Hungarian
  • Period-proof panties
  • Some buses in Edinburgh finally have separate doors for getting on and off (Respect for the people who shout ‘THANK YOU” to the driver while exiting through the middle door).
  • Tallest man on earth might not be the tallest, but his guitar skills are highly remarkable
  • A webster is not someone with a high level of computer literacy but someone who weaves cloth

Guess what, I’m an alien! (Chapter 5)

Weirdly-shaped things I can lift with my pinkie

 

20th of January, 2020

Today it’s meant to be the most depressing day of the year but I’m over the moon! Christmas is over and the calm has been restored. Dave (sorry, Santa Claus) was a total sweetheart and gave me a pair of wonderful handmade woollen socks which happened to fit me perfectly (I’ll save them for the summer though: now it’s far too hot to wear them anyway). He said he knitted them himself. I know it was his grandma. I would have never thought I could eat so much food in such a reduced timeframe. So yes, I am a bit chubbier than usual but still looking cool. I signed up at the gym and started trying things out. I did a bit of running in a thing very similar to a conveyor belt of a supermarket. After 678 seconds, the evil machine started beeping like crazy. I should have seen this coming. A friendly gentleman quickly approached me to check if I was feeling dizzy. “I haven’t been better!” – I assured him, with a big smile. His eyes almost popped out. Later on, I found a really cool looking bike, so I climbed up and started pedalling. Between you and me: changing the duvet cover is way more appealing than all this pedalling to nowhere. After a bit of wandering around and observing all sorts of creatures, hairstyles and outfits, I found a mysterious wooden room. I couldn’t see much when I got inside, even with my glasses on, but I quickly noticed that the fellow next to me was sweating enough to fill in at least a pint of water. I immediately got goosebumps and I started shivering. Very intriguing indeed. Just so you get an idea of the place, it was like a wooden freezer. I’ll have to ask Dave about its purpose. The only thing I know is that next time I’ll bring my ski suit, glove, hat… and a head torch.

 

Hungry for more? 😉

Sun-kissed banana skin

Someone should have warned me about this. I mean, I knew about the bagpipes. The rain. The Highland cows. But this? Is it a gift for Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruit and nut trees? A Celtic ritual? A prank? First, it was a banana skin. Then, a handful of grapes. Maybe it’s just a genuine act of goodwill. But hey, whoever left the skin of a banana wasn’t feeling too generous, don’t you think? 

The thing is that every time I return the shopping cart after my grocery shopping, I experience an extremely disturbing sensation, as if someone was watching me. Even when there is no one around, I still get the same odd feeling. Morning and evening. Weekdays and weekends. Like two sharp knives tickling softly the back of my neck. I nervously get my 1 pound coin back and I start walking: straight back, shoulders down and chin up. Usually things fall off my bags and once I almost hit a lamppost. No matter what happens, I don’t stop walking. I have to get away from the supermarket ASAP. When I start crossing the road, I get goosebumps. And then, that strange beeping in my right ear which lasts 27 minutes on average. As you might be thinking, I’m starting to dread my weekly shopping. And it used to be my favourite thing to do. I would even offer to shop for my friends! I’ve tried shopping in several supermarkets (even in different cities) but nothing seems to work. 

Now I can’t help but wonder if I should be leaving some fruit on my cart too. Who knows, perhaps this way my nightmare would end. Maybe a kiwi? Some tangerines? Strawberries? How could I be sure that it would be appropriate? Sweet would be a safer choice than sour, right? I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. And here I am, at 2am, wondering what fruit I should leave at my cart tomorrow. And without having made a final decision, tomorrow I will go to the supermarket. And the knives will tickle me again and again… 

Websters Land

Only certain people were allowed there. The requirements were secret and confidential, so if you wanted to join the club, you had to request an appointment and wait to be assessed. There was no way one could prepare for it, as you would do for an audition or exam, and that was part of the deal. Looking through the bars, I spotted an intriguing sign: “No items to be left in walkway or chained to railings”. Was it a minimalist club? Some sort of feng shui gang? Or maybe the assessment took place in the walkway and that’s why it had to be hazard-free and empty. But why would they need so much space in the first place? Maybe it was all about a fight, a dance or a Twister competition. One could just dream and wonder. It was equally exciting and terrifying. If you signed up for one of the assessment sessions, you would sign a contract agreeing to basically everything. Just between you and me, I’ve applied 99 times in the last month. They never got back to me a single time. I’m not entirely sure what might have gone wrong.    

Sweet old Websters land. I guess a decent degree of computer literacy would help pass the test. What else could ‘webster’ mean? It’s surprisingly close to the word ‘hipster’ and ladies and gentlemen, I do not believe in coincidences. A webster must be someone who is cool with computers. Someone who writes code while making homemade vegan meatballs. Someone trendy. Websters land is the paradise of IPs, binary code and cookies. And I can’t wait to be part of it. I’ll just need to apply one more time and hope not to land on the SPAM folder. Maybe this time I’ll be able to find out what’s all this about. Or maybe I’ll never will. Maybe it’s all just a big computer-generated dream. Wait, is it 7am already?! 

Disclaimer: webster is an archaic term for ‘weaver’ (someone whose job is to weave cloth). I do not take any responsibility for the confusion created within the human population, linguists and IT professionals.