Some thoughts about Guns…

TOH is playing Watchdogs. For the most part, he likes it because you can sneak around playing the game without hurting any of the civilian characters that are wandering around the city.

There are puzzles and you can choose the way you play so that you become a Vigilante rather than Terrorist (the opposite end of the reputation bar.) You can protect civilians, stop them getting hurt and attacked.

The story line is quite an interesting one. It looks at the way that information is used in the real world and just how much information everyone puts out there that can be twisted or used to hurt. It’s a scary concept, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Like with many of the games now, you get digital trophies for certain things – for example, the number of police scans you evade. Most of these are easy enough to do without hurting anyone. However,  TOH being who he is, likes to get all of the trophies, and there was one that he couldn’t figure out; you had to escape a level 5 police scan.

So he went online and googled the problem. He was not happy with the result, but try as he might, it was the only one he could find. So he did it this morning before he went to work.

He took the character to a crowded place, pulled out a machine gun and let rip. It must have killed between 15 and 20 civilian characters before the scan meter was at level 5. The noise was horrendous and it attracted both my attention (and made me muck up the pattern I was knitting) and the baby’s attention (she’d been playing with her ducky ball).

It was realistic and I started having a panic attack. I picked up the baby and cuddled her away from the noise.

Now I can think logically about it, it wasn’t what was on the screen that was panicking me. It was the noise. The realistic sound of the machine gun he was using on the game. It took me back to a particular incident that shaped my life without me realising it.

* * *

When I was 16, I was in the Air Training Corps. It’s the cadet branch of the RAF and I was seriously considering a career in the RAF at the time. One of the last events I went to was a joint exercise with the local USAF base. The Military Police there had put on an exercise for the local ATC units complete with full military training gear. This meant we were wearing the laser vests that they used and carrying blank adapted M16’s with laser equipment to “tag” the vests.

And yes, you read that one right. They were allowing teenagers to use M16’s. There were also two M60 ‘s set up the same way, one for each team. We were given the guns and put through training exercises – stripping, cleaning, reassembling in a set time, practice on a range with live bullets and on a stationary dummy wearing a laser vest with blanks in the gun.

All stuff we had done before at ATC with the 302 rifles we’d used for ages on our range.

We also were given a small strip of ammunition and allowed to shoot the M60. This was to show us how the rifle worked and make the point that the only people big enough to carry the things were two of the biggest boys I had ever seen in my life… and I wasn’t a small, dainty little girl.

Anyway. It wasn’t the experience of shooting the M60 that did the damage. That was funny because the gun moved me back in the heather by about 3 feet. It wasn’t even the “capture the flag” exercise we played next, albeit with the M16’s on our shoulders. We’d done that before with LR98’s and laser equipment on a RAF Base.

It was the Night Exercise.

We’d been told that we were being treated like Military Academy students and that when they were on exercise, they carried their guns at all times. So we had to. I literally slept that night with an M16 next to me. We were all in one camp, both teams together.

I say slept. Others slept. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The gun felt as hard and dangerous as a knife and while I knew it was loaded with blanks and the safety was on, I was terrified that it was going to go off in the night.

I fell into a half doze about three in the morning when my body refused to remain awake any longer.

At dawn the camp was attacked.

I lay in my tent, my hand on the M16, frozen with fear as an M60 opened up out in the woods around us and blasted us. Everyone’s laser vests started screaming at us and while some of the boys managed to rally and fire back, the rest of us lay there, scared out of our wits.

They were trying to make some kind of point apparently, because they’d noticed that some of the boys had got rather cocky, trigger happy and were being reckless. Our Officers had agreed and were joining in.

That noise has lived with me ever since.

I managed to complete the event without being hurt (normally I got an injury of some sort), cleaned and returned my M16. I even got a commendation for being able to complete the entire 1 mile obstacle course within a decent time.

I quit ATC  not long after that. My excuse was that I wanted to concentrate on my exams. The real reason was that I realized that the RAF wasn’t for me. At the time I didn’t want to think like that and I was being encouraged by my teachers to choose that career, so I acted out the charade a little longer and then when I got to University, I changed direction.

This morning, it was that noise. The machine gun going off on the TV that sent me straight back into my 16 year old self lying on the ground, listening to the M60 shoot over my head and the laser vest’s warning screaming in my ear.

I know now that should I have to, I can pick up a gun and shoot someone with it. To protect my life, to protect my children, to protect TOH, I will do it. But I’m scared of them, of guns. I’m scared that I found that in myself. I’m scared that I could kill another human being.

And I’m scared that all the war and violence that I ducked out of by not going into the RAF might actually happen over here. That I might actually have to pick up a gun to defend my children.

100 Days to be Happy: Escapism

My house is stuffed full of Escapism. Everything from books through DVD’s to console games.

fantasy-escapism

Just so we’re clear, here’s a definition from the Collins English Dictionary:

noun 1. An inclination to or habit of retreating from

unpleasant or unacceptable reality, as through
diversion or fantasy

This can be a good thing.
Why? Well, The Dragon’s Tower (my name for our house)  is too crowded for the number of people in it.
If you can’t physically escape people, mentally escaping is perfect:
I dive into one of my favourite books; NOS gets lost in the Pokemon worlds in several different ways; TOH becomes Batman, a Skylander or an Artist; PT embraces her inner fashion diva and creates outfits for her dolls. PW is too young yet to need to escape…
Recently, tempers and tension have been running high here.NOS is Aspergers and he’s having problems at school with the amount of noise and stuff going on around him. He’s been holding in his temper perfectly, doing his work and generally being a good student, even if he’s reading in class a little too much!

All of those stimuli have irritated and niggled at him every day. Peace is difficult to come by at School and tricky at home  – his sister insists on talking to him, when he’d prefer to have some down time.

Saturday, he almost blew up.  Unable to take his sister’s irritating singing, our requests to dry up the washing up and the lack of silence in the house generally, he came and talked to me.I could see how tense he was. No one should be so het up that your muscles strain against your bones. I talked him down. I let him tell me what the problem was and then gave him a solution to put into place the next time he felt it building up.  I taught him a meditation routine – breathing exercise and music, and explained how to use it in different situations.

He was fine after that, but then TOH blew up… figuratively speaking.

*sighs*

The Dragon’s Tower was thick with tension so strong that you could have used it to build a wall. It didn’t help my temper either. I blew up at him back. He escaped by taking his sketchbook down to the beach; I headed for our bedroom and shut the door.

Escape was essential at that point in time, and thus, I celebrate the fact that we have somewhere to escape to mentally most of the time. Without it, occasions like the weekend would crop up nine times out of ten.

When was the last time you escaped and where did you go? Physically or mentally?

It’s OCTOBER!

Why on earth have I put that in capitals?

Well… for the first twenty odd years of my life, October was always full of excitement and anticipation for me. I’d spend the first 16 days of the month wondering what the 17th would be like; then on the 17th, I’d be happy and bouncy…

…until the next morning when I realised that my birthday was over and I’d have nothing to enjoy again until Christmas – which of course, doesn’t exist until after my birthday.

Then I met my fiancé, TOH, and a whole month of birthdays opened up to me – it’s my Father-in-law’s birthday on the 1st, my fiance’s birthday on the 3rd, my Mother-in-law’s birthday on the 15th (R.I.P) even before mine comes round on the 17th. I had a lot of fun buying presents and spoiling TOH as well as buying presents with TOH for his family, which was almost as much fun as getting three times as many presents on mine…

…boy does that sound selfish, but you’re allowed to be selfish on your birthday…

Then, TOH and I had NOS. His birthday was almost the same as mine – had he hurried up a little bit, I would have had to share mine with him, but he decided to play bungee with the umbilical cord and had to be de-tangled, so he was born on the 18th!

So you might say that October is a little crowded for me – it certainly means buying a lot of cards and presents!

THIS year, to celebrate the month, I’m going to give presents away. The first one is in honour of my Father-in-Law’s birthday.

Cover by Elizabeth Bank

From 1st to 31st October, I’m dropping the price of “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning” to…

(drumroll)

$0.99 / £0.75

UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginning-The-Tower-Eye-ebook/dp/B009B0XRSM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348091225&sr=1-2

* * *

US:http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-The-Tower-Eye-ebook/dp/B009B0XRSM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1349973432&sr=1-1&keywords=kira+morgana+a+beginning

(NB: This is only happening on Amazon)

The second one is in honour of TOH. His birthday is on the 3rd October so:

a party at castle grof

From 3rd to 31st October, I’m dropping the price of “The Tower and The Eye: Party at Castle Grof” to…

(Drumroll with two drums)

$1.50 / £0.93

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Party-Castle-Grof-Tower-ebook/dp/B00CRP3NOQ/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368559979&sr=1-4

* * *

US: http://www.amazon.com/Party-Castle-Grof-Tower-ebook/dp/B00CRP3NOQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368560228&sr=1-1

And on the 18th October, it is NOS’s birthday (he’s going to be thirteen… where did the time go?) so in honour of his birthday:

Freya 300 x 200

From 18th to 31st October I’m going to drop the price of “The Tower and The Eye: Freya’s Freedom” to…

(Drumroll with three drums)

$1.99 / £1.23

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Freyas-Freedom-The-Tower-ebook/dp/B00DRA3U16/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374262735&sr=1-1&keywords=Freya%27s+Freedom+Kira+Morgana

* * *

US: http://www.amazon.com/Freyas-Freedom-The-Tower-ebook/dp/B00DRA3U16/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374262787&sr=1-1&keywords=kira+morgana+freya%27s+freedom

But… that’s not all…

…You may have noticed that I’ve left out two dates, one of them very important!

On the 15th October, in memory of my Mother-in-Law who passed away due to Bowel Cancer in 2001, I will run a competition here on my blog to win all three Tower and the Eye e-books!
The details will be posted on the day, so keep your eyes open.

So that brings us to the 17th October.

My Birthday. The day that tends to get forgotten because of NOS’s birthday (by me and various relatives; but not by TOH)… how will I mark that one?

*Smiles evily*

On that day I’m going to run another competition… again the details will be posted on the day and will involve all three Tower and the Eye e-books… plus a surprise!

So… keep the blog bookmarked or you might just miss out!