Beyond My Window – A Story by Ian Holliday!

Beyond My Window

A Story by Ian Holliday

Man in Jail

Why am I here? You come and peer through the window at me and tell stories about me – and you do not know the reason? Do you not talk to each other? No, I suppose you don’t, or you might have realised.

Maybe I should tell you but I am unsure what would happen; although telling you might be part of what it’s all about and the chances of my answering must have been in the contingency plans. So, I will relate what I remember. But don’t treat it as “true” in any way, maybe I have been primed to tell you a lie.

I have been here for so many years I am unsure that I can recall the events clearly. Some things I do recall. I know it was a major occasion, an event which culminated from much discussion and planning among the Council members. There was an air of anxiety and heated talk; as though that which we relied upon was threatened.  How can I help you to understand?

Think about what you do. Are the stories you tell about me, and others like me, original, really original? Are there any genuine storymakers left in your world? I think I see them sometimes, peering through that window and a worthwhile number seem to have the spark.

This is what I know and, as I said, it may be incomplete.

Imagine it, many millennia before your time, people used to ask themselves questions, or maybe the curiosity of their children raised those questions. So they made up stories to push the fears away, they found a way to make sense of their world. They looked around, they used their personal experience; they drew on the traditions of their kin and on everyday events, and they made up tales to fit the facts, tales that gave them a compass to find their way in a mysterious world. And, of course, small in number as they were, and separated by geographical boundaries, each group had its own stories and, in their way, each story worked for a time, until a new story took its place.

Some few hundred years ago, something happened. From our perspective, it suddenly appeared that the number of new stories began to decline. The same stories quickly began to appear in different places, widely separated.  And this process accelerated, until it seemed like people in one place could hear the story at the same time all over the world.  But the stories were no longer “home-grown”; the story of one people was being told to another regardless of their circumstances, or their culture, values, history or the beliefs that had kept their various societies working.  And so, people began to fight for their stories, fight to impose their tales on others.

Think about it. You make up a new story to fit where you live and the people and institutions you know. It has to do that, or it would be too unbelievable for your children. But your story is not a good fit for those who live elsewhere. They naturally challenge your story but you cannot see why, it makes perfect sense for you, they must be wrong! So you argue and you make war. Because, for others, it is your story that is fantastic and unbelievable and, maybe for a good reason (or so they believe) they also want to enlighten you, to save you from error. And so, it goes on.

Ultimately, of course, one set of stories began to win. Thus, many were forced to live in the tales of the powerful.   For those who were ruled, the stories were badly made or badly told, they offered no guidance; they explained little or nothing.  Time passed and, as the story-telling (note my careful use of that word, not the story—making) apparatus was in the hands of the powerful, their stories became the only ones that were told. Although, at first, the ruled knew why the stories were wrong, in the end nobody knew. They just felt a loss, a disconnection with their world.

And that is why I am here and why there are many who fulfil the same role. After much debate, the Council asked for some to come forward to take up a place, to engage in a form of theatre, to be here when people of your time are looking to be storymakers rather than storytellers.  You see, Time does not exist in the mind of the true storymakers and, as they dream, they can reach us, can see us and wonder how we came to be where we are.  And they make up tales, tales which are not those of the powerful, those with interests vested in keeping things as they are, tales which are rebellious, that increase the possibilities in their listeners lives –  instead of narrowing their opportunities for striking out, changing things – being original; being themselves , not what the stories they usually hear, tell them to be.

For we realised that hearing the same bad story will not save your world (and, of course) ours from being the cause of its slow dis-ease and failure. Only in new stories lie the places where even more new ideas can arise. Only there can a thought be sown and nurtured which might save us all from extinction.

But me, others like me and I think even the Council, did not realise that once we were created, we had to stay. The new, saving stories, have to be told and retold, or they will die out and fail in their task of generating alternatives.  It’s not so bad really. When you are not around, I get to eat well and have company. But I must always be ready, in case you appear at the window.  Hasn’t anybody seen me brush the crumbs under my robe? Did you not see, this time, the gate swing to as my partner left the room in panic? And, in the end, I think it is worth it, even though, immortal as I have been made, this is me -forever.

A Story by Ian Holliday (Copyright 2010 Ian Holliday)

(Visit Ian’s Blog here.)


19 comments on “Beyond My Window – A Story by Ian Holliday!

  1. I think you are right about the subjectiveness of “great” in the field of “artistic” creations. So many people have been ignored in their productive years because their work does not fit the zeitgeist (or another word like that 🙂 but are regarded as great later on. I suppose in the myths that surround art, great might be considered “true to oneself”? Certainly there seem to be many photographers (an area where I know a little) who say that they did not really feel happy about earlier work they did which was very prescribed and, with more freedom, produced what they consider their best work. And the critics seem to agree with their judgement.

    As to the relativity of truth, that’s worth a post on its own!


    • Thanks for your comment Ian.
      I agree with you and can certainly appreciate the illustration. When one begins to learn a skill, frameworks help. However, frameworks often require that you clip your creative effort to make it fit in – and what you clip off often is the part that was unexpected and creative:)


  2. Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.
    Willa Cather


    • That’s an interesting quote…especially the writer/speaker’s attempt to qualify the term “artist” with the word “great”. The point is – great by whose standards? Because in matters with such high degree of subjectivity and little or no objectivity – greatness is relative.

      Sometimes I wonder whether truthfulness too is relative. I used to be truthful when I was a teenager, and I swore by the goodness of people – I still am truthful when I think that none of us can be absolutely good, and many of us have a rotten core…

      You make me think, Ian:) It isn’t healthy for a caricaturist to think!

      But thanks for putting the rusty mind-machine into action.
      Warm Regards,


  3. It’s out and everybody knows that Ian is (and is therefore not a) the eternal omniscient whatnot, I’ll have to monitor what he/they say! Well, perhaps I ought to try to integrate these various personae in my “normal life” instead of acting them out when I am in different moods :-).

    But back to business. No, I wasn’t being heavily sarcastic. I’m not really into regular sarcasm, it’s usually used to bring folk down a peg or two when they are on their high horse. I meant it as light hearted exaggeration. Perhaps the fact i have been reading a lot of existentialism lately has crept into it where giant/hero/heroine tend to be used, in the sense of someone who is bigger, or rises above the crowd, not so much as judged by external evidence, but in terms of choices and commitments. So it was about you both not just calling yourselves by titles, like writer or drawer or artist, but that you had been faithful enough to your self description to do something about it in a way that could expose you to judgements. That’s a bit of a ramble, but I hope it shows that no sarcasm or offence was meant to be there.


    • I took none; I am used to sarcasm being used kindly and therefore tend to ignore it unless it gets nasty.
      As for heroism, I did once save a man’s life when he jumped into a swimming pool too deep for a non-swimmer. Just my luck that a) no one else was present to witness it and b) he spoke no English and could not even thank me.


    • Ian,
      I go around calling myself “Shafali The Caricaturist”! My dog thinks that I am an egoist (even an egotist at times) and writes all rot about me at her blog:(
      I knew there was no sarcasm…but literary is just not my thing. Some light reading and corresponding light writing…maybe; but that’s all about it:)
      I am glad that you participated in the contest – and that this caricature brought in five entries (leave aside Oorvi’s…and you know the reason why) – is enough reason for me to celebrate…
      Warm Regards,


  4. I hope he’s reading the comments. It might lead him to try again (if he is not Teryy Gilliam). And, if he is, we’re getting Gilliam stuff for nothing. Win-win!

    If I were him, though, I think I would be very embarrassed to get praise from published literary giants like you two. It might make him think he has “shot his bolt” and he’ll stop while ahead. Or he might think you are trying too hard to encourage him?


    • Ian…
      The reference to published literary giants must include only Viv. I am neither (published nor literary giant)! I am an unpublished caricaturist who is happy with the status-quo:)

      The point about Terry Williams…
      Are we speaking of Terry Tempest Williams (
      Have never read her so I don’t know if the story could have been hers…
      Terry Gilliam? (After going on a wild goose chase – trying to figure the Terry williams out – I realized you’ve been talking about Terry Gilliam!)
      The guy is a director/animator/actor… ( Are you talking about him?!
      Guess I can’t have everything figured out…can I?

      But I like your thoughts – I’ve always been for originality and these days it’s becoming difficult to find original content even by “original” writers:)


      • yes, I meant Terry Gilliam, the guy who was involved in Python.
        As for being a literary giant, Ian was being heavily sarcastic when referring to me as I am about as giant like as the aveage pygmy(with or without poison darts)
        Originality is hard to come by and it even harder to market, because people generally want what they know already, rehashed a little.


  5. I think it must be a pen name for Terry Gilliam…
    There are themes running through that also ran through the fabulous film, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus….though obviously not the same.
    The world is actually powered by the power of Story so we must take care to keep telling our stories so the world keeps turning as it ought to…
    great story whoever this Ian guy is…


  6. Pingback: I want to do this « Laaf at Life

  7. Pingback: Short Story for the Story in the Caricature Blog Carnival! « Oorvi's Diary

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