All posts by hamishtsomhs

An Exercise In Thought


Image from Marcos Martinez

The following piece is written in a way which may cause mental discomfort for some people. If this is you, stop reading and take a short break: no one will think worse of you.

As yuo’re rnadeig tihs, teh fsirt tohuhgt to etenr yuor haed is pobalrby sotmhieng aolng teh lneis of ‘you dno’t konw hwo to slpel, do yuo?’. Wlel, taht’s nto teh pniot of tihs pecie: teh ami is to srtat yuo thniknig. By nwo yuo mya be woerdinng hwo yuo’re mgainang to raed tihs, or paerphs yuo’re sltil at teh bengninig, stirnaing yuor barin fro teh soilotun to tihs mses of lertets. Teh ttruh is, it’s nto rlelay taht cilcmatoepd: it’s jsut mnulaitipoan of hwo oru bniars wrok. Tihs wno’t be nwes to smoe of yuo – atefr all, tihs wsa oevr a dcdeae aog, adn teh sdtuy iltesf asmlot terhe dcdeaes brfeoe taht. It’s siltl inerstintg tohguh, adn cmeos form a rsrceehaer at Nignthtaom Unerisitvy in 1976 (taht dtae is creroct, it hsna’t been smrbalced) by teh nmae of Graham Rawlinson (aslo nto sbceralmd, taht wluod mkae hsi nmae isoibsplme to raed). He funod, in hsi teshis, taht scbiralnmg lteters whitin a wrod wilhe lievang teh fsrit adn lsat lertets uncuhtoed hda olny a vrey mnior ecfeft on seklild redreas. An upepr lmiit esixts tohguh: eetxrme srcbmanlig laeevs the wrdos ulnbrebedae. Scneiee, tohguh, is nto the porspus of tihs pceie.

Tnhiknig aubot it tohugh, igrninog any srnagte mnid-geams or sfcieinitc eaxiptlanon fro the menomt, yuo hvae to aptprieace jsut hwo wofndluelry copemlx our brinas are. Aetfr all, eevn if not cornsnidieg the hgiher prsoseces of the haumn mnid liltaelry eevry bsaic futnocin honlidg us totegher is infelcuned in smoe way by our biarn, the coamnad cetrne for the bag of ognars and fsleh we clal our boedis. Mikesats are mdae, of csuroe, but for the msot prat we fuotnicn wlel eognuh for the hurdmum of our dliay lvies. Jsut tkae a mneomt to sit bcak in yuor cahir and apcparitee yuor biarn for a bit. It sundos sntrgae, but tihnk aubot it and yuo’ll srtat to rielsae the salce of it. Molinils of nureons fnirig, tniy ertlecic plsues dcaning in the drak of yuor sukll and it all cmeos tohgeter in a sngile intanst to from a lvinig, briehnatg preosn who can execpnerie the wlrod of the osiudte. Azimnag, ins’t it?

Back to the normal form of writing and admit it: you just breathed a silent sigh of relief at the sudden release of stress from having to read that mad jumble up above. I’d rather not write like that either: it’s a pain having to mentally jumble words before typing them. The relief you and I feel is perfectly normal of course: every person knows that blissful feeling that follows periods of intense mental exercise. Don’t worry if you couldn’t read all of the above words by the way; I didn’t follow strict guidelines when scrambling and so not all of the words will be understandable. Don’t get bogged down too much in the details though, just take this piece as it is: an opportunity to work out your brain, and appreciate just how amazing the mind is. Now please excuse me, I have to go and lie down for a bit after typing all that.

Further reading on the topic:


Hamish Tso 11L


Bleary warm dark, soft breathing in the stilness and beautiful silence, wonderful in its thickness and depth like falling into a velvet curtain and slowly drowning in its heavy folds but the breaths just come in and out slowly in a rhythm, drifting further into the syrupy darkness never seeming to find the bottom, but the fall isn’t a fall any more, just spinning slowly in a graceful arc in an empty space, black and devoid of light but watching small pinpoints of brightness appear until the void is shining like the night sky, full of light and colour but eerily silent and beautiful like a muted explosion of life frozen midway and left there to grow old in the void which seems to be eternal but looking now one of the lights is growing brighter and brighter until it smothers the others under its glow, absorbing them into its mass like a sponge sucks up water but now the sponge is full and needs to be wrung out and the trickles of watery light ooze out in a kaleidescope of patterns on the canvas of the world, wonderful and rich with a depth which never seems to end as you gaze into it more sides appear and the three-dimensional maze of thoughts organises itself into flat lines amd edges all shifting into posistion as the matrix of connections all fire together to bring everything up and your eyes open to the shrill scream of your alarm.

Cold and Numb

The world was cold and dark, and Steven screamed silently as he sank into the icy darkness. His hands clawed desperately through the water, slowly pulling himself upward as his lungs began to burn. Finally his head broke the surface, spluttering and choking as he drew in great ragged breaths of the freezing air. The cold cut into him like a knife but he didn’t care: he was alive, and not drowning. He treaded water desperately as he looked around, searching for any sign of the kayak, or at least the shore somewhere close. No luck there, but he spied a boulder half-submerged around ten metres to his left and began to swim towards it, willing his freezing limbs to make the final effort. The current didn’t help either: it kept dragging him downstream to the left, and it took all of Steven’s strength to maintain a roughly straight course towards the rock. Finally he reached it, and his numbed fingers scrabbled desperately on the slick surface, searching for any crack or lump he could possibly use. His probing fingers found a small crack, and with the last of his strength Steven pulled himself up onto the rock, icy water cascading off of his soaked clothing in miniature waterfalls. Drawing his knees to his chest Steven huddled in a small bundle and took in his surroundings: thick banks of pine trees all along the shore, with a turbulent, angry river surging all around him. No sign of Jess or Will, or of the bright yellow kayak. Shivering again, Steven curled up even tighter, trying to conserve what little body heat he had. He knew he was going to die of hypothermia if he didn’t find shelter soon, but it was so cold. He didn’t want to swim again, not any more.

It was so very cold.


Hamish Tso 11L

The World Within

He flies in his dreams.

In his dreams he soars in the heavens, twisting and turning through the blackness of the night, free to roam high above the confines of the streets as he spins and whirls in the air, laughing with glee as the restraints fall away and he can go higher, and higher.

In his dreams he is invincible, and infinite; nothing can affect him, the sadness and hatred of the small ant-people below, he is free from them, free to soar and glide as he pleases, free to move and dive, free to say and do whatever he wants and no one is going to stop him, even if they were able.

In his dreams the world is no longer a prison, but a playground, nothing can stop him from going down the slides of the waterfalls or climbing the rocks of the tallest mountains, he can jump from the tallest peak and simply fly away, never touching the hard, unforgiving ground.

In his dreams there are no restraints, no white walls, no harsh lights and no strong hands. They cannot touch him, push him down or hurt him anymore. He can spread his arms and cry out with joy, the pure happiness found only in those who are truly free. He is untouchable, a spirit in the world of the living.

In his dreams he is content, far more than anyone else.


Hamish Tso 11L

Character Description

The man shuffled down the street, attracting curious glances from passersby. He was limping slightly, his right leg scraping across the pavement as he dragged it behind him. His breath came in short wheezing gasps, and the skin was drawn tight across his gaunt features. The remains of a cigarette hung out of his mouth, nestling snugly between a gap in his yellowed teeth. The man’s eyes were red-rimmed as well, teary from sleep deprivation and the smoke from the cigarette. The suit he was wearing wasn’t in much better shape than its owner: the fabric was rumpled and torn, and smelt of dust and ashes. It used to be a fine piece of clothing, the envy of everyone else but those days appeared to be long past it, the material now as sad and forlorn as its wearer.

Curiously, the man had one possession which was not as worn as the rest of him. It hung out of his right breast pocket, a shiny golden pocketwatch with a matching thin chain. He clung to it with skeletal fingers, clutching the lustrous sphere in a death grip as if his life depended on it. His eyes, tired as they were, flickered around the street, wary of any movement. Down the street he travelled, a shambling, paranoid figure.

Hamish Tso 11L

It’s Too Late Now

I broke something

It wasn’t my fault

I can’t take all the blame

It’s broken now, beyond repair

And nothing can change that.

I wish I could though

Turn back time

Change the decisions of the past

How do you explain it to someone?

Do you tell them everything at once

Let it all crash on them like a wave

And watch them try to keep their balance?

Or would it be better to

Give them the pieces and 

Let them put it together?

It’s slower and less sudden

But it’s the slow knife that cuts the deepest

Either way, it’s going to hurt them

Deep inside them something will burn

And never grow back.

Maybe it’s better to

Keep quiet for the while.

Hope no one tells them

And breaks that uneasy silence

Let them sit in blissful ignorance

While the train of your mistakes

Hurtles towards them.

Don’t try to stop it.

You set it in motion

You stoked the fires.

You urged it forward

And when it hits them

It’s going to be bad.

The rug will be pulled

And no one can stop you fall

They’ll watch with cold eyes

As you plummet down

Not even lifting a finger

To help you up.

He trusted me

And I broke that.

That Endless Climb

The mountain of paper grows no smaller.

You think it does, and sometimes you even fool yourself into thinking it has stopped growing. But it never does, and the paper keeps coming. You try to stop it, yes, but your efforts are no match for the steady progress of the mountain. A page filled with words, a diagram drawn but still it never stops. Sometimes, in a flash of inspiration you sit down and pick up your pen and the ink flows out, shaping itself into words dripping down the page. The scratch and slide of the pen barely registers in your mind as the letters take form, unburdening your mind of those precious nuggets it has held onto for so long. At last you’re done, but not really. There is always more to write, more to say, more to do. It is never really complete, this task, its physical form a mere shadow of the glorious masterpiece it had been in your mind. But you put it aside anyway, as those last drops of inspiration have dripped down the drain, leaving only a shiny trail to show where they’ve gone, far from your reach. It hurts to leave the child so suddenly, but the mind is already moving on forward and the body must soon follow. The page is set aside, a new one is born, and the next piece begins. An endless cycle of creativity cut short, always failing to reach the mark. 

Sometimes though, the perfect idea strikes. Pen hits paper, words are written almost as soon as they are born. The furious scratchings of a madman but this is not madness, this is gold! Pure and bright, a lamp cutting through the darkness which illuminates the path. And this child is not abandoned; it grows and develops until it is free and independent and you laugh with joy at the masterpiece that has crystallised perfectly into form, exactly as you envisioned it.

The mountain of paper grows no smaller. But I’m willing to climb it, for those precious moments.