Lines are everywhere

Today, I’m learning my lines. I feel a little stupid as I realise that I don’t know a great deal about lines.  But when I start thinking about them I’m overwhelmed, lines intertwine with, and, connect my world. I just didn’t notice! My brain is suddenly flooded with images of lines from my nursing:

  • Straight, thin, confident, direct lines which joined carefully placed dots recording a patient’s temperature, pulse and respiratory rates  with carefully placed dots on an observation chart
  • graduated lines on thermometers and sphygmomanometers (I’ve surprised myself that I got the spelling correct first time), where measures were taken as mercury crossed them or when it bobbed or blipped (B/P) in a one-off and rhythmic gesture
  • centile lines for measuring babies’ and children’s growth and development in relation to ‘norms’
  • lines of patients, in lines of beds along either side of Nightingale wards with under-bed trolleys and bed castors all facing in a line
  • imaginary lines across the kneecaps of female nurses which the uniform dress must meet
  • lines on student nurses caps denoting their year of training (replaced by lacy caps once qualified)
  • the crossed lines our aprons made across our backs
  • the angry, painful, red lines on my neck before the new paper collar softens with the help of white soft soap

Enough, but you see what I mean, lines were and are everywhere.

I think Kaplan and others would call it attention restoration. These 2 articles in The Huffington Post explain it clearly and in different contexts.

I first became aware of lines when I set myself a topic for a photography jaunt. I was on a photography course and I knew I needed help with noticing, something to look for. Michael Freeman’s ‘The Photographer’s Eye‘ really helped. I found:

  • horizontal lines which convey stability, weight, calm, and restfulness
  • vertical lines – which express strength and power
  • diagonal lines – dynamic and parallel ones, which introduce dynamism, tension and energy. Not forgetting zig-zags diagonal instability and perspective lines.
  • curved lines – these are inherently attractive with a smooth and flowing character which carries the eye along them.


Lines were noticed and captured.



notebook lines

I took a little notebook with a few scrawled images of lines to notice. Well, you need all the help you can get when you’re looking and noticing for the very first time!

I realise now how lines are used to denote health, identity, ill-health: and seemingly their very presence informs us of power, and their patterns determine treatments and decisions.  I also now see how some lines are imbued with magic and mystery:

  • Langer’s lines – should they be followed by surgeon’s for incisions is an interesting discussion.
  • Weather forecast lines adorned with triangles and symbolic representations of additional weather forms
  • Mondrian’s lines 
  • Ley lines give us ancient tracks with mystical properties, although I’m surprised to read how Alfred Watkins, the originator of this term, then dropped the word ‘ley’ in favour of ‘archaic tracks’ or ‘old straight tracks.’
  • map contour lines 
  • and the little zig zag lines of tiny sutures on the faces of babies and infants after cleft lip surgery.

A good place to end, for now, my noticing of lines.

I can’t believe what Baroness Sal Brinton said on Channel 4 News  when interviewed by Jon  Snow on the ‘House of Lords – patronage has got to stop‘  item.  Some 50 seconds in, if you’re watching the catch-up “…because we are unaccountable, because we don’t have to go out to the electorate…”   Unaccountable!!  Clear roles, regulations and clarity around accountability in the House of Lords is well overdue it seems. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s