Smudge and Psychometrics, Logan style #flashfiction #carrotranch

Charli Mills prompt this week is 

January 11, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink. It can be artistic, writerly or something completely off-the-wall. Go where the prompt leads.

 

 ‘You write neatly, Morgan.’

‘Teachers always moaned, said I had hooves, not fingers. Called me Smudge.’

‘Why’d you not type?’

‘Can’t get the words right, typing.  I need to have wet ink if I want to make progress. Otherwise writing is hard.’

‘That explains it, then.’

‘What does it explain, Logan?’

‘Your call to your mum, about your writing. Last night.’

‘Does it? I don’t recall talking about ink to my mother?’

‘Course not. You used your writerly code. You said, “I’m happy with my WIP”. I wondered what WIP stood for but now I know. Wet Ink Progress.’

Posted in carrot ranch, creative writing, flash fiction, prompt | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Forgiveness – Resolving The New Year

 Murray Vene wondered when he last saw in a New Year in both a literal and metaphorical sense. By the time the countdown started, triggering the crossing of many arms and the clasping of countless hands, Murray’s eyes had ceased to function, much as his bladder muscles had lost their torsion. He imagined a kitchen, acid green cupboards and scrubbed pine table and a girl with smeared lipstick. Had that been at the moment of a New Year? He didn’t know her and she had grabbed his neck and kissed him – that’s what happened as the clock hit 12, wasn’t it? Everyone was fed up with that stupid song whose meaningless lyrics people trotted out as if they conveyed a deeper truth and, for want of something better to do with their mouths and lips they snogged randomly and recklessly.

No, that was another time – the girl had ingested a popper and lost it before he did. What was her name? He knew it really but it came and went, much like those floaters that made up much of his memory these days. Alcohol hadn’t done much damage to his eyes – they’d been shite since he caught measles – or was it mumps – as a twelve year old. But his memory was perforated like a smack addict’s thighs – like his thighs if he cared to admit it.

He’d have to go back to the 80s when he had a capacity for booze. Bryan Ferry on the tape player and – it was there, began with a P… Pat, Pam, Pen… she’d been his squeeze, she’d been the first snog. God, who said ‘squeeze’ these days? Who’d said it back then apart from his Uncle Mike?

Countless days lost but the only ones he thought he regretted were the New Years. Because the next time he woke – ‘came to’ would be a better description – after a lost New Year, he made the same resolution: ‘get sober/clean/free of whatever’. Who said doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result was the definition of insanity? Probably Pen, Pat or Pam. Or maybe no one and he’d just made it up.

Not this time. This time he felt the crisp air numbing his ears, smelt the cordite as the customary ordnance exploded in a thousand rainbows, deadening his already decrepit hearing. He tasted the delicious freedom of a gut without unquantifiable amounts of booze and felt – yes an actual feeling – the warmth of a hand holding his own, not in some parody of community spirit but with the confidence of trust and love. His own flesh and blood.

2017 may not be much when set against other years but this one twelve month period did what so many failed to do: end well. A shit start, it’s true, sliding downhill from Jan 1 to March; a period in hospital, cancer – that was new – and a real need to clean up his act which he was quite ready to ignore. And then the surprise: a visit from Jemima his daughter. June 17th. Tears, recriminations and an epiphany. Instead of saying ‘sorry’ for all the past, his past – he was forever saying sorry and then failing to live up to the accompanying promises – he’d thanked her for making the effort of coming, for forgiving him.

And she’d said something that hit home – if he loved her, then he had to love himself. Forgiveness, if that’s what he wanted had to start with him forgiving himself.

So here he was, watching the fireworks put on by the hospice, holding her hand and storing away a memory. It might not last long, this memory but it would be all the more important for that.

Posted in creative writing, miscellany, short story | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Skool Teekchers Wot Ay Haf Noan: part one – Maple Road Primary

I have been taught by the timid, the tremendous, the tired and the terrible – quite a few of the latter in truth. The best weren’t necessarily either good teachers or knew their subject but they had character – some indefinable something that set them apart from the heaving mass of the barely competent didacts that peopled my formative years.

It is hardly surprising that even 50 plus years on I remember each and every primary school teacher, bar the very first – and while her name has slipped somewhere into the out tray marked ‘open when senile’, I can still see her now, all black frothy hair and pinched lips with the safety catch off.

Mostly I recall terror with the occasional rainbow.

The first four were women, a mix of the starched and the serene, the philosophical and the psychopathic. The last, at primary school, was a man, Mr Hole a scholastic mole of a man with large shoes, hairy knuckles and the kindest smile.

In part one, I’ll consider the first two.

The starched came first with Mrs Pritchard. She was deputy head, taught me in what is now year 2 and had a Mrs Doubtfire quality about her elbows. Her ubiquitous cardigan, worn whatever the weather, would be pulled close if she became annoyed. You could judge the imminence of some egregious punishment by the size of the overlap as she folded her arms and lifted her bosoms, as if preparing them to be a ritual sacrifice to the gods, or maybe release them into the wild to create havoc amongst we natives.

I do credit her with making me listen. At some point she singled me out, after we had listened to a story on the radio – a real treat circa 1963/4 – to explain the plot. I failed and was sanctioned – the stand-in-the-corner humiliation which was far worse, for me, than physical chastisement. After that I listened, so much so that my little hand went up after every story and she had to tell me not to bother – there were others to render into stone first. Maybe, indeed surely my love of stories stems from then.

Do I remember any of the stories? No, but I can describe precisely the corner I stood in, the flaking blue paint on the skirting board, the rhombodic black stain by my right sandal, the smell of dust and cleaning fluid and puppy’s ears. I’ve never liked corners.

The Philosophical came next in the same of Mrs Taylor, a woman for whom the redundant inkwells on our desks were a source of fascination. By 1964 we had fountain pens, rather than the quills that they were designed for but that didn’t stop her discussing them, referencing them and, indeed, one day using them as make shift vases. She would stop and stare out of the windows – designed so we could only see the sky, I suppose, to stop us day dreaming and achieving precisely the opposite effect with Mrs Taylor. She was a compulsive smoother: her skirt, the surface of her desk, our exercise books when she opened to read our work and our hair if we did something that pleased her. I wanted to please Mrs Taylor; she could do disappointment like no other, not, that is, until I got a dog.

Mrs Taylor was the first person to award me a proper prize. In my primary school you could acquire a merit badge for a week, handed out at the final assembly on Friday afternoon if you achieved three merits in that week; by the same token, three demerits and you got to visit the heads office – Mr Akers, now that was a scary prospect. These badges were first awarded in Mrs Taylor’s year, the year three and were beyond precious, a combination of a Faberge egg, saffron strands and moon dust. When she announced, several weeks into term that someone had won the first merit badge, we all looked around, wondering who it was. Even then I think we all knew it had to be a girl. But then she came to my desk and smoothed my hair. Me? Me! Surely some mistake.

I don’t think I ever felt as good again. It’s not that other events (my wedding, my children’s births) weren’t stunning moments that are seared into my memory; it was the sheer unexpected surprise. The fact that I never got another and all the evidence is I peaked too soon is by the by. For that Friday afternoon I flew. Gravity was for mortals and I was a god.

Posted in home, humour, memoires, miscellany, School | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Quite Ugly One Morning #bookreview

In truth I’m not the reader I think I should be and I’m not the reader a writer really should be. You learn from others, both good and bad. But new years and resolutions and all that good stuff comes along and I’ve just finished a book

Quite Ugly One Morning

by

Christopher Brookmyre

You read the blurb and, well, it feels a bit generic

Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it’s not the corpse, what is that awful smell?

A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue and villains both reputed and shell-suited.

You have a hard bitten, but inevitably charming journalist whose track record gets him leaving cities with the customary rapidity; you have the cynic cop and the understanding yet misunderstood cop; you have the linked love interest. Raymond Chandler it ain’t.

No, it’s Christopher Brookmyre who ladles out the gore like a frenzied soup kitchen employee on piece work payments. The opening scene does visceral a disservice and he describes it so well it’s rather as if you have stepped into a scratch and sniff version. The awful smell referred to? Don’t ask.

Sound like your sort of book? Too much detail? Gratuitous violence?

Actually no. More realistic and, and here’s the thing, it made me laugh. It made me want to write it and that truly is a compliment. It’s not a book to plot spoil, of course, but the murder referenced in the blurb is carried out by a hit man who has to be the unluckiest killer about. His travails are both believable and smile-inducing.

The thing about these sorts of books is you need to believe it when a non cop is the person most likely to get to the answer and, here, that works well. It’s a well-crafted crime caper, it’s funny and it moves at pace. Jack Parlabane is a believable character as are the gay cop and unsettled ex. It’s not for everyone, granted but if you want to smile as well as see how the caper unfolds then this might be for you.

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Money, money everywhere and not a drop to spend #filmreview #allthemoneyintheworld

How much money is enough? It’s a question posed of John Paul Getty by his security consultant, Fletcher Chase. More than this, came the answer from the man who was assessed to be the richest in the world at the time.

All The Money In The World harks back to the early 1970s when such wealth was neither so commonplace as it seems today nor as conspicuous. Getty was fabulously wealthy, though the ‘fabulous’ seemed an odd addition when it appeared to bring as much pain and destruction as joy and relief. The incident at the heart of the film, the kidnap of Getty’s grandson Paul and his eventual mutilation (his ear was cut off) before release, was an event I remember well as a teen. What I didn’t grasp then – I’m not sure it was entirely clear to the public anyway – was Getty’s reluctance to help and his insistence on treating the kidnap like any other business deal.

As the story is based on a true story, we know the outcome but, even so, the tension ebbs and flows across the months of the captivity of the young, terrified Paul Getty, while his grandfather hums and has and tries to use every twist and turn as a negotiating position.

At the centre is a triangle of contrasting personalities: Getty, the aesthete and collector divorced from a person connection with those around him, happier drooling over an antique as engaging with people; Abigail Getty, Paul’s mum and Getty’s daughter in law who is frankly disinterested in the opulence and only wants to get her son back but is in the hands of many others in order to effect such a release while pilloried by a press who believe her rich but refusing to pay; and Fletcher Chase an expert negotiator who acts as a go-between between the kidnappers as well as Gail Getty and the Getty hierachy.

The film packs a punch, its portrayal of the time spot on – watching the opening scenes in Rome, 1973, the clothes took me straight back to that time – and the acting faultless. High praise goes to Michelle Williams and Mark Walhberg who play Gail and Fletcher respectively. But the star is Christopher Plummer, one octogenarian playing another beautifully. I understand Kevin Spacey was already filming this when the various sex scandals broke and he was removed to be replaced by Plummer. Whatever the rights of that, it’s a peachy role and one Plummer embraces with elan. Even Getty’s eventual death, as a dribbling stroke victim, is a triumph of its kind. If ever there was an Oscar in waiting, it is for him.

This was a small film, one without as much hype as some and with a plot that wasn’t an obvious one to carry two hours of film but the quality rung out of the script and the actors by Ridley Scott makes this, if not his finest effort, then in the top three.

See it. And don’t worry about the ice cream, it’s that good.

Posted in Film, review | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Copper Countings #flashfiction #carrotranch

Charli’s prompt this week

January 4, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Copper Country. It can be any place, fictional, historical, or on another planet. Go where the copper leads.

Logan and Morgan are go

 ‘What made you scared as a kid, Logan?’

‘Lots of stuff, Morgan. Dad’s nose hair. The vacuum cleaner hose…’

‘No, like when were you most frightened?’

‘When my poo turned blue. I was five. Thought I’d die.’

‘How come? You eat copper sulphate? That turned my hands blue.’

‘I liked Thunderbirds.’

‘Is this going somewhere, cos I think I’m on a different bus to you.’

‘Thunderbird two is green, right?’

‘I’m waiting, Morgan.’

‘I ate the icing, turned my poo blue.’

‘I didn’t know they made icing out of copper sulphate.’

‘Lots you don’t know Logan.’

‘Troo dat, Morgan.’

Posted in carrot ranch | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

LAST CHANCE TO GET YOUR EARLY BIRD TICKETS FOR THE #BLOGGERSBASH #BLOGGING

Thinking of coming to this year’s Blogger’s Bash? If so, time is running out to get your early bird tickets!

 

The Bash will be held on May 19th in the leafy London suburb of Chiswick, and tickets are already selling fast. The day is a great chance to socialise with other bloggers as well as learn more about blogging, with talks, Q&A session and a panel discussion all included in the price.

 

Our early bird offer means you can get your ticket for the discounted cost of only £20 – but only until January 11th. After that, prices rise to the standard ticket price of £25, with late entry tickets available between the 4th and 18th of May for £30.

 

So be like the bird and get your worm, figuratively speaking! Follow this link  to join the party – we hope to see you there!

 

Please take note of the small print: 

  • Tickets are non-refundable
  • Tickets are non-transferable
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else)
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only.

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join Sacha and the committee on our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/991165987611263/

You can also join us for our weekly Twitter Hour, every Sunday 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat, or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?

  1. BUYyour ticket! https://wp.me/p885Ux-1Qc
  2. Send us your blog name and link toannualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.ukso you can be added to our attendee’s post. (NB: if you don’t send this information you won’t be added).
  3. Pop the date in the diary and tell the world you’re attending a fabulous blogger soiree.
  4. Sort out your travel and accommodation.
  5. Pack your bag, remember to bring business cards, throw in a notebook, and join us for a fantastic day of blogging fun.

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON!

 

Posted in miscellany | 3 Comments