I felt the need to write but lacked inspiration so I am back to using the Daily Post for some creativity.

If something is luminescent then it glows and I suppose my first thoughts are of things that glow in the dark like fireflies or certain plankton. Living in Scotland though I don’t think I have come across any wildlife that luminesces. I guess it is a relative thing though. Something colourful against a dull background can have real punch in getting attention. I always love seeing bullfinches (my favourite bird since childhood and something I only saw as an adult in Scotland) with their black head, white bars and strong dark red chests. Siskins and firecrests are other glance attracting birds that came to mind but maybe that is as much about movement as it is colour.

As a child I used to be fascinated by things that were luminescent. I had a wrist watch with an analogue face where the hour points has marks that glowed in the dark as did the tip of the hands. I used to love going under my bedsheets with a torch and quickly switch off the torch to stare at the hands in the dark. I was pretty frightened of the dark so the torch didn’t stay off for long but watching the movement made it a bit easier to survive without light for a bit. I also had a figure of Dracula which I had made and painted from an Airfix kit which had a glow in the dark head and possibly hands.

I have no idea who gave me that kit, but it both fascinated and appalled me. My older brother loved watching the Friday night double-bill of horror films on BBC 2 when my parents went out. I watched them too in some sense perhaps for companionship, perhaps I wanted to understand what my brother saw in them, but they gave me nightmares. I was always relieved to see the monster getting killed at the end but I guess the mystery and possibility of horror stayed with me. The possibility of myself becoming bitten and turned into a monster appalled me. How would I behave as a werewolf or vampire? Perhaps I felt the knowledge gained from watching the films might protect me, but I didn’t have a silver bullet or stake to sort the monsters out, nor did I feel I had the ability to kill something. Is that what horror is about, imaging oneself to be the tortured monster? Garlic seemed like sensible way of avoiding the situation though.

The Dracula model used to stay on my desk which was parallel to my bed but the statue freaked me out enough that I avoided getting out that side of the bed when getting up in the dark. Eventually I relegated the model to my corner cupboard and shut the door when I went to bed. Occasionally I was peek behind the cupboard door during my usual trip to the toilet at night to see if Dracula was still glowing. Each time I peered through the crack in the door, the model would be standing in the middle of the middle shelf casting an eerie pale green light over the books and toys it stood amongst. It was a horrible scene and I shut the door quickly, quietly freaked out by the power the statue seemed to possess and the shadows it cast.

Nowadays I really rather like the dark. It is a time of peace and quiet, a time to think and reflect. On a still night with a full moon, there is nothing better than wondering around my neighbourhood seeing it lit up with the silver reflection cast by our satellite. I can see why people might think moonlight is magical because although I have no fear of transforming into a werewolf nowadays, the lighting and shadows cast in the night are mesmerising. A bright moon though is no good for looking at the other balls of luminescence in the sky, other stars shine much brighter when the moon is not around. I find it impossible to comprehend how big those stars are when they seem so tiny in the sky, but then again I can’t get my head around how big our own star is.

Which leads me back to acknowledging that luminescence isn’t just about night-time. In a sense everything we see luminesces because if we are to see it, it has to give off some sort of light. We also have to have some sort of detector to know something luminesces. Maybe I think of my eye as a detector of luminescence, but we know there are other forms of the electro-magnetic spectrum that exists that we don’t see we are eyes. By other means we can detect x-rays and radio waves, so it should be okay to say things like nebulas and pulsar luminesce too. Recently humankind has detected gravity waves, so one can say black holes luminesce under interactions. Theoretically, black holes luminesce under a phenonium called Hawking’s radiation too.

But perhaps that is getting a bit too esoteric. The other thing that crops to mind when I think of luminescence, is my mobile phone. Every night I use the fact that it gives off a faint light to navigate around my dark bedroom so that I can climb into bed without creating too much noise. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but it has saved me cracking my shins on the end of the bed or walking into the wardrobe door. Back to light in the dark then.

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