The Moaning Of Trees #limericks

Woody’s arse was one constant itch and

It was enough to make the tree screech.

‘I’ve discovered my sphincter’

‘Is full of sharp splinters,’

‘Which explains why I’m such an old beech.’

Posted in limericks | Tagged | 14 Comments

The Constitution Of An Oaf

I was prompted to think about constitutional matters recently by another blogger, intrigued by we Brits apparent fascination with and adherence to our monarchy.

To start with a declaration: I’m neither monarchist nor republican. As will be apparent having a monarchy in the 21st century is both absurd and an indulgence. Having a president on merit, supported by a majority appears far more appropriate in a western democracy but there is one, maybe two big failings: first the transition from here to there is fraught with so many risks I genuinely feel it really isnt worth the candle, and second, any president would be a short term appointment and, even one without power of consequence would want to make their mark before departing the stage. I struggle to think of any current Brit who’d fill the role satisfactorily.

So what are we stuck with? I’m not about to get all nerdy and review the basis of our monarchy. It makes little sense. There are few written rules and most of what happens today has developed as custom and practice over the years. No one really has a clue about our constitution. That is a weakness in that you can’t point to anything really solid and immutable; equally we aren’t stuck with an absurd second amendment allowing everyone to carry enough weaponry to make Bruce Willis feel unprotected because of the lack of a standing army 250 years ago. It’s lack of clarity is its constant flexibility.

To consider our monarch some sort of check and balance on power is a nonsense. Were the King to really take issue with something and, say, refuse to enact the decision of government, it would merely lead to the King being ignored (maybe not by the press, but certainly by the politicians). The King reads out ‘his’ agenda at the start of every parliament but he has no say in the words. The Queen was good at deadpanning it; I wonder if Charlie will look like he’s swallowed a wasp at some of what he has to say in ‘his’ agenda.

He’s a mouthpiece only. He parrots policy. Not really an edifying role for an educated intelligent human.

We have a democracy in Parliament, you see, only it’s an odd form of democracy. I don’t think anyone really believes what we call our democratic system is a pure form of that ideal. When a political party can command a majority of over 100 votes on less than 40% of the national vote, you wonder at that concept.

Yet, there’s no real incentive to change it. Mostly that’s self serving because we have two behemoths of political parties – the Conservatives and Labour – who’ve dominated politics for a century since the Liberals imploded after WW1 (and all that happened was Labour replaced them in what had been a two party arrangement for 150 years before that, with Tories and Whigs followed by Tories and Liberals).

There have always been fringe parties. Irish Nationalists preceded the Scots Nats of today and the DUP, Sinn Fein and others from Northern Ireland. We have the rump of the Liberals and the Greens and the occasional flurry of more right wing vehicles for dissatisfaction. But rarely do they amount to much and when they do hold the balance of power, it’s not enjoyable for anyone – usually (some enjoyed the Con-Lib coalition of 2010-2015, but like all political careers hereabouts that ended in failure for both its adherents)

Maybe we will see a hung parliament in 2024. Maybe that will exert more pressure to reform our ‘first past the post’ system. Hmm. It sounds good, modern, appropriate but our system is a fragile construct. Carry out fundamental change and watch the unintended consequences spiral us into… heavens knows. All that one can say for certain is it wont be what was anticipated, it wont be pretty and we wont be able to go back.

We have a monarchy because we cant really be bothered with the faff of changing it. It costs lost of money; it brings in lots of money. It makes us look antiquated; it makes us look stable. It perpetuates elitism; it stops anyone thinking they are all important because there’s always that King person above them.

It’s unutterably cruel on those poor souls born to it. On the downside, you can leave but you end up like Harry – not really wanting to go – or Andrew – not really believing you cant stay.

They say that everywhere the royals go smells of fresh paint, they have no idea about traffic lights and their thumbs have evolved to fit scissors more easily because of the rope and ribbon cutting.

And all that fancy dress and bling. All those military uniforms. I wonder if, secretly they yearn for Ikea after a life spent fighting with an ormolu desk or a rococo toilet.

We pride ourselves on our animal charities, on our love of pets, on our kindness to animals, yet our biggest, longest surviving zoo fills our screens and papers almost daily with the hee-hawings of the Windsor faction.

There really is little point to having it, save that without it we’d no longer be able just to muddle through and we’d probably end up being like the French with their power to the people politics.

No, while there are still sentient beings willing to undertake the given roles in the soap opera, lets keep recommissioning the series. There’s enough human conflict and misery within the script writer’s remit to keep us all engaged.

And, of course, this year there’s a coronation which will drag us back to dusty traditions, some of which will be less than 100 years old and some which will hark to a time when being King carried some oomph. Butting will fly, London will be rammed, the TV schedules will become vehicles for dull voices intoning geeky facts and we will get an extra bank holiday.

It’s all hugely irrelevant when set against the current inflation, the cost of fuel and food, the arguments over refugees or our polluted rivers. Except that, without it, we’d probably have some interminable dirge as a National Anthem. Say what you want about God Save The King. Having a tradition of only singing one verse means it is mercifully short.

Posted in miscellany, thought piece | Tagged | 34 Comments

O Saucy! #limerick

This week’s prompt, from Esther, is buff. There seemed to be an inclination amongst the contributors to the saucy – possibly because of the connotations of nakedness in ‘buff’. That’s a challenge I didn’t want to pass up.

You want a double entendre…?

‘You see,’ said Jane, in a huff,
‘With my fingers, snug, in my muff.’
‘I can both buff the tips,’
‘While I ward off the nips,’
‘And keep things from becoming too ruff.’

Posted in limericks | Tagged | 12 Comments

Blue And Happy #carrot #99wordstories

This week’s prompt is

March 27 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something impossibly blue. You can go with sky or any other object. What impact does the color have on the setting or characters? Does it lead to action or create a pause? Go where the prompt leads!

A Happy Blue

Kat Gutte and Doug Biskets ran Little Tittweaking’s art suppliers. Kat ran the retail side; she could saw a multiverse of colours – 247 shades of beige and a pink that caused granite worktops to bleed. To Doug everything was a version of blue; he did the accounts, ordering copious amounts of Blutack. He thought Kat stunning with her fiery blue hair, luscious blue lips and a ruby blue complexion. Kat tried to persuade Doug to drop the “everything denim” shtick. When they wed, Kat stunned the guests with her impossibly blue ensemble. Doug thought she looked a little pink.

Posted in #99wordstories, Carrot Ranch Congress of Rough Writers, creative writing, flash fiction, humour, little Tittweaking, miscellany | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Corona Revisited

I wrote this multipart short story a while ago. I’m planning on including it in a my latest book of short fiction, as something a bit different.

Before I do, I wondered if a few of you might read it and let me know what you think? Does it makes sense? Does it flow. Are you left wondering? It’s just under 15,000 words. I’m not looking for a detailed commentary, just a general sense.

Ideally, I’d garner your views by the end of May.

If that appeals, please mail me or use the contact button above.

And here’s the start if you need tempting.


‘Well, I’ll be blowed.’

Janice Scrutt stuck her head through the loft hatch. ‘What is it, Roger?’

Roger Scrutt pulled a dusty black leather box out from behind the water tank. ‘Dad’s old typewriter. I thought Mum said she’d got rid of it.’

Janice climbed down the ladder, muttering just loud enough for Roger to hear, ‘When did she ever get rid of something?’

Roger’s grinning face appeared through the hole. ‘Hey, that’s my mother you’re accusing of being an incorrigible hoarder.’ He reached down, the old case hanging from his fingers. ‘Here you go.’

As she reached up, dust and debris fell on her face. ‘Geez.’

He laughed. ‘There’s probably some of Dad in that dust.’

Wiping her tongue on her sleeve, she felt close to throwing up. ‘Oh great. I’ve ingested your dad.’ She dropped the case by her feet. ‘You will get rid of this, won’t you?’

‘Course.’ His voice already sounded distant and, to her ears, insincere.

When, half an hour later, it was still where she’d left it, Janice sighed and carried it to the heap of rubbish that was growing exponentially.

Four hours later, Roger locked the front door to his mother’s house and climbed into the driver’s seat. He leant across to kiss his wife. ‘Thanks for helping.’ He licked his lips. ‘You even taste of Dad.’

‘Stop it. I’ll need counselling.’ Janice groaned as she took in her grime-encrusted jeans and hands. ‘Wine. I need wine.’ She settled back into her seat for a snooze. She’d be pleased when the dirty old mausoleum was empty and sold. Whatever Roger said, not all his memories were ones to cherish.

Janice woke with a start, momentarily disorientated. They were home. She climbed out and stretched. Roger had his head buried in the boot.  

‘Do you want to make us a drink while I empty this lot?’

‘Oh no.’ Playfully, she elbowed him out of the way. ‘I’ll empty the car, thank you. I know you. You’ll have tried to sneak something past me.’

He held up his hands in mock surrender. ‘Not guilty, your honour!’ He grinned and headed for the house.

She tugged the cardboard box of his old books to her; even her ruthless decluttering instincts hadn’t been sufficient to deny him these. As she pulled, something fell over. Peering behind the box, she mouthed, ‘You sod, Roger Scrutt,’ and dropped the box onto the drive. The old typewriter case lay on its side. Oh no, not on your nelly.  Leaving the books, she hefted the typewriter to the rubbish bin and dropped it inside. Grinning, she thought, Roger Scrutt, you will pay for that deception.


Monday mornings were always chaotic. While Roger knotted his tie with one hand and buttered toast with the other, Janice read her overnight mails as she applied lipstick.

‘Can you put out the bins? I forgot last night.’

She scowled at him and then stuck out a tongue. ‘If you feed Mandela. Oh, and refresh his water.’

Twenty minutes later, she headed outside, swinging her car keys around a finger. She nearly forgot the bins; spinning on her heels, she hauled them to the road. Why the bloody bin men couldn’t walk the few yards to fetch them she would never understand.

She had half-turned back to the car when a thought occurred to her. She opened the lid and peered inside. Oh, you tricky man.  The old typewriter had gone. Right. She headed back inside and for the garage. If she knew her husband, she knew where she’d find it.

Sure enough, it sat on the bench. He hadn’t even tried to hide it. The arrogance. Tonight, she would give him so much grief. She smiled to herself. And then they could make up… She picked up the case and hefted it out to the bin.


Two days later, Roger sat in his ground floor office at home, studying the weeds in the garden. His father never allowed a weed to show its face; it was like a personal insult. He shut his eyes and saw his father, the back of his neck reddened from the sun and effort as he cursed the weeds out of the beds. Funny, Roger thought, Dad spent hours in that garden and never expressed any joy at his achievements, never once sat and enjoyed it. He didn’t garden, Roger realised; he wrestled plants. WWF: William Wrestling Foliage.

Roger sighed. Normally, working at home was a pleasure, but today all he had were memories. He should begin that family history he had promised himself. Unable to settle, he headed for the kitchen and coffee.

The door to the garage was open. Had it been open earlier? Maybe, but still, he’d better check. A cursory glance showed doors and windows all shut; he turned to leave when he spotted it: the old typewriter case, all clean. Janice, you sneaky little minx, he thought. She’d given him grief about it and here it was. Carefully, almost reverently, he eased back the lid. She’d cleaned the old Corona and replaced the ribbon. A crisp new sheet sat in the roller, “Write Me” neatly typed in the centre. Ha, so she wanted him to write that history, too. Who was he to argue?

Lifting the case, he hurried back to his desk. He’d start it, surprise her with it. His work could wait.

He opened the case and took out the typewriter to put on the desk. The foot caught on the base and lifted it. Intrigued, Roger picked at the corner until it came loose. There were some closely typed sheets hidden beneath, which he pulled out.  The heading made him start – this is for you, Roger – and his hands shook slightly as he read.


Roger was so engrossed he didn’t notice the shadow, nor hear the slight click. When the hand touched his shoulder and he looked round, he couldn’t comprehend what he saw. He clutched at his chest, the pain almost unbearable.

Posted in short story | Tagged | 25 Comments

March: Past And Present






Posted in gardening, miscellany | 20 Comments

A Tuneless Future #poem #poetry

When I met with friends a few years ago

We’d have some food, take in a show

Listen to music, have so much fun.

These days, while finances are more reliable

It’s our bodies that aren’t so pliable

And only our noses that are inclined to run.

Our feet, no friends, are there to spite us

Unwilling to bend now they’ve found arthritis.

Our knees, once smooth and nicely curved

Are inclined to grate and look absurd.

From our hips, once hung two pert glutes

Now they sag like compostable fruits.

We have a pact; we never speak

Of why our stomachs are nearer our feet.

And just when you think ‘That’s enough,’

Someone will say, ‘My liver’s been rough.’

‘Just your liver,’ another will scoff

And with that, once more, we are off

To analyse our every function

In gory detail, with no compunction,

For those, much younger, who get an earful

And realise – and this will make them tearful –

That in time, all get togethers become this frightful

As the only music is an organ recital.

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This week’s #writephoto

Charleston Darwin really disliked his older cousin and his Origin of Species. It was all so… so… limited. The book talked species but it just man man man. Didn’t other species deserve some time in the sun? Why were humans so special? Hadn’t every species evolved.

He tried pointing this out to Charles but he was too busy with his worms and his pea plants. ‘Later, old boy.’

Always ‘later’.

Charleston sat at his desk, pick up his pen, dipped it in the ink pot, paused for a moment and looked at his hand. That was it, wasn’t it? We – man – could write and none of the rest came close.

He put the pen back. He could write an alternative Origin of (All The Other) Species or he could do something for those species.

He picked up his pen and wrote

The Opposable Thumbs Society

He would spend his time and money, of which he had inherited quite a lot, working to enable other species to be able to write, to develop that grip. He would be a hero to every mammal. Except his own.

Having written the name of his new society he put the pen down. A bell sounded from below. Time for a bite of dinner.

Mrs Darwin was waiting for Charleston as he reached the door for the dining room. ‘You look pleased, my dear.’

‘Indeed, for I have discerned my purpose.’

‘Which is?’

‘Dinner first then I will reveal all.’

Whether it was simple misfortune or some sort of peevish fish who took umbrage at not being included in the nascent society, history doesn’t relate. What is known is that Charleston Darwin died having swallowed a fish bone and choking. And the Opposable Thumbs Society? It’s still waiting.

Posted in #writephoto, creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Flaming Sambucas, Etc

This week, from the Carrot Ranch comes the following prompt:

March 20, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about shots fired. Where is this story taking place? Is there urgency or surprise? Who is there? What happens next? Go where the prompt leads!

The Flaming Sambucas, etc.

Little Tittweaking is home to various cocktail bars. The Hot Toddies, the Shots Fired, and the Flaming Sambucas to name three. What makes them unique is the way each turns the drinkers’ brain molten, enabling pain receptors to leave quietly to join other like minded cells. Thereafter they form anarchic analgesic cooperatives, randomly numbing the pained poor, bagpipe testers and anyone with a compulsion to listen to Leonard Cohen. Recently a petition has been raised to curtail these activities after voters were found to have been numbed to politicians’ speeches, to such an extent they began believing the promises.

Posted in #99wordstories, Carrot Ranch Congress of Rough Writers, creative writing, flash fiction, humour, little Tittweaking, miscellany | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Coff #limerick

This week’s prompt is cough

‘You really sound terribly roff,’
‘With that persistent, rattly coff.’
‘I’ve made you a coughin’
‘To carry you ough in,’
‘When it all becomes more than enoff.’

Posted in limericks | Tagged | 18 Comments