Tuesday, November 11, 2014

.....and then I 'eard.....

        There was crowd around old Farmer Fred. He’s known for his tales of the country side and by the look on the faces of his audience he was in full flow. So I joined them. He was about to start another story.
     “And then” he said “when I was I was walking near the bottom field down by the crossroads with Mongrel Moll and I heard a croak as......”
     “You ‘eard a crocus Fred? A talking crocus?” called out Builder Bill “What was you on mate? Some of that ‘ome brew of yours?”
     “Stop interrupting and listen Bill” said Fred.“I heard this croak as if someone was gagging like”
     “Probly ‘ad a frog in his froat” chuckled John the Wobbler who then started making frog noises to the amusement of the crowd.
     “This ‘aint funny John” said Fred “As I was saying I heard this sound in the bushes so I crossed the ditch to take a look. I tried to shine my torch towards the noise but I couldn't see a  fing.  Then a couple of birds flapped their wings right up close to me. Proper gave me a scare" he said. Fred suddenly starting jerking his arms up and down and several of his listeners jumped backwards.
     “Was it those two old birds from down the club cooking up a spell?” said  Sarky Sam. Everyone started laughing.
     “You can laugh” Fred said pointing a bony finger from one person to another “But I tell you it was proper weird. Then I heard this ‘owl”
     “Twit-twoo” giggled Nancy the Knitter
      “No” said Fred “Not an owl, an ‘owl, an ‘owl, someone ‘owling their ‘ead off”
      “Now you are a twit too Nancy” said Bill. Nancy gave him one her looks.
      “For the last time shut and listen!”  said Fred as he started to get a little irate. Suitably chastened, the  crowd wisely turned their attention back to Fred and his tale.
        “I went deeper in and suddenly this figure rose from the mud” Fred started swaying from side to side. Now he had their attention. “It was bloke. He had something wrapped around his neck. It looked one of them suicides you ‘ear about. But when I got up closer and saw it was a long bramble and the thorns was sticking in his neck. He stretched his arms out like this” Fred reached out and began slowly to turn. One by one we all took a step back. 
     “What d’ya do Fred?” asked Nancy!
     “Well I got ‘im free and told ‘im he owed me a pint down the Dog and Duck.
    “You are such a hero” said Builder Bill as the crowd joined him in spontaneous applause. 
     “Dog and Duck then folk?” chirped up Sarky Sam. “The first one’s on me”
      With that they wandered off tapping Farmer Fred on the back as they went.

Friday, November 07, 2014

one two one two testing....

A short story for Sunday Scribblings 2

Like most little children he would strut around the kitchen wooden spoon in hand, miming to the latest pop song. As a teenager he stood in front of his bedroom mirror miming into his hair brush. It was obvious to him from his very early years that the microphone was a natural extension of his arm. Trouble was, when miming changed to singing things went rapidly downhill. He looked the part, but oh dear, the sounds he produced upset every dog in the district! As he grew older the dream he had of becoming a performer became more and more distant.

Mike was watching a stand up comedian on television one day, and then it came to him. You don’t need to be a singer to use a microphone.
As soon as he was old enough he started visiting local pubs when they held open mike nights. Would-be comedians would scamper up onto the podium, grab the microphone, tell a couple of poor jokes and more often than not get booed off again. And our Mike was no exception. But he was determined not to give up. Something inside told him over and over again that one day people would want to listen to him. It was just a matter of time.
Fast forward three years. Mike has achieved his ambition; he is now the king of the microphone. He spends a few hours each afternoon adjusting and perfecting his words making sure he meets his daily deadline. Every evening hundreds of folk eagerly await his voice and today is no exception. Unseen he checks the time on his watch, clears his throat, takes a sip of water then slides the switch on the microphone to on. The speakers crackle into life and the assembled hoard falls silent in fervent anticipation. 
‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen’ shouts Mike. ‘The train now standing at platform three is the eighteen ten service to London Waterloo.’


Wednesday, November 05, 2014


For the Poetry Jam prompt 'Pebbles'


Let me read it to you.
Just click on green pointer


I sense silence. Yet all around I hear the sounds of nature. The pebbles crackle and grate under my feet, the rhythmic whoosh of the waves fills my ears and the shrieking of swooping gulls gives a voice to the deserted shore line.

Here I am alone. Yet my companion, this hidden secret beach, is here to wrap me in splendid seclusion. I am alone but I share my very being with the raw edge of nature.

Here I hear my own voice, though silent. Here my thoughts surround me. Here I am at one with myself yet enveloped by a greater force, one which allows me the freedom I crave whilst lifting me out of myself and cradling me in glorious isolation.

The beach is ever changing. Some days filled with wrath, others tranquil and calm. Some days the sea is an enigmatic aqua, another as grey as granite. I look toward the horizon and see my life uncharted. What lies beyond? Who can tell?

But here I can be myself. Unquestioned, unchallenged. Here I can think, consider, compose.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A World War 1 poem

This poem perfectly captures the grief and loss back then, but remarkably it was written for a school project a few weeks ago by local schoolgirl Niamh who is just 11 years old.

Like Father Like Daughter

Daughter’s point of view

When I first came into this world
you could not be there.
But Mummy promised every night
That you would always care.
Each day I grew a little more
And I’m beginning to look like you.
Mummy says you love me
And Daddy I love you too.

Dad’s point of view

As we march, it’s unbearably hot.
I dream of surviving, cannot get shot.
Try to focus, what each day brings.
To escape this horror, I may need wings.
So much misery, so much pain.
Fog of war, torrential rain.
Mountainous jungles do not forgive.
Must be careful, if I wish to live.
Shock arrives and invites pain.
Brother nearby has been slain.
Now expected to logically think.
Insanity is creeping, at the brink.
I write this poem here where I lay.
Sunshine is gone, I only see grey.
Wish I had a bit more time,
I’m in my twenties, I’m in my prime.
But I only have a minute or two.
My body is numb, my face is blue.
I’m so sorry, I did my best
Life is leaving, through my red chest.

Niamh Finlay

For Magpie Tales

Sunday, November 02, 2014

You've never seen a cake like Jim's!

 I wrote this for The Sunday Whirl. I confess to having 'slashed' one of this week's words  
As with every year, the invite that dropped on his mat asked that the guests each bring some food to the firework party. Normally Jim would have popped down the seven-eleven for a bag of iced buns or something, but he’d always felt a bit of a cheat as he witnessed one gastronomic masterpiece after another being escorted onto the patio, each bearer juggling for the best spot on the table before standing back to admire their respective creation. He came to a decision and burst into song, warbling “Let’s go bake a cake” to something approximating the tune of the kite song from Mary Poppins!

      He found a recipe on line and set off to gather up the ingredients. Satisfied that he’d got all he needed he returned to his kitchen. He stuck a white plastic bag on his head thinking it made him look more chef-like, then set about cooking his first ever cake!
      You have never seen such a mess; butter on the floor, flour on the ceiling, egg smeared up the walls, his kitchen a veritable culinary bomb crater! Seemingly unaware of the scene of devastation surrounding him he mixed, he stirred, he sampled then poured his gooey beigy-grey concoction into a cake tin. As he had forgotten the bit about preheating the oven, he stuck it into the cold one, switched it on and doubled the cooking time to allow for the heating process.  Quod erat demonstrandum” he yelled making full use of the only Latin phase he could articulate. “QED, quite easily done!”he chirped. (Saying something and knowing what it actually means are of course two entirely different things!) He looked at his watch. Two hours to go. Feeling somewhat jaded after the process thus far, he poured himself a drink, sat down, drank it, and another, and another, then promptly fell asleep. Three hours later he awoke to the smell of burning.
      Jim rushed the oven, flung the door open, seized the tin, screamed as he scalded his fingers, let go sending it across the floor, grabbed a cloth and then hurtled his burnt offering up onto the worktop. He tipped it out then stood back to consider what his best plan of action was. Having come this far there was no way he would give up. After applying plasters to his throbbing fingers, he trimmed it and chopped it until it was about half of its original size, then concluded it was perfect albeit somewhat smaller than intended. “Worry not"he muttered “I’ll double up on the thickness of the icing”. He knocked some up, and then proceeded to rain it down from a great height onto the top and down the sides of the remains of the cake. As the cake was still hot, it straight away ran off and ended up resembling a foaming white moat around an ancient castle. Not to be deterred he kept scooping and spreading until eventually most of it stuck on. It looked a bit bare so he flung a half packet of M&M’s all over it. Oh joy, he was delighted! Just one thing to do. He remembered once seeing a cake on a TV programme which had a tube stuck in it, and sparks flying high into the air. So he went get his bag of fireworks, searched until he found one which looked similar then pushed into the top of the cake.
      The sun was setting and it was about time to head off to the party. He hooked the bag of fireworks over his arm and proudly set off down the street carrying his creation before him. After almost tripping over a wretched little dog which was trying to climb up his leg to get the cake, he arrived at the party. He proudly carried his work of art through the assembled crowd to the sound of what he thought were gasps of admiration. He pushed several food laden platters aside to give himself centre position. Everyone looked on as with a flourish he produced a lighter from his pocket. The crowd began to shuffle backwards as he lit the blue touch paper of the cake’s pyrotechnic adornment.
      The explosion was loud; very loud. Louder indeed than any of the firecrackers exploding in the neighbouring garden. And not just from the cake but also the bag of fireworks draped over his arm. Everyone at the party got a piece of cake and several of the people next door too, but not in the way Jim had intended.
       He was only in hospital for a few days and after the events of that fateful night he vowed never to make a cake again. “It can’t be difficult to cook a curry” he said to himself as he wandered homeward “I wonder what it is that makes it hot? I think I might just know!”