After Sonnet 91: Life Lessons #poetry

Seems as apt today as ever….

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill

Some enjoy a pint, some prefer a pill

Some are shallow, followers of fashion,

Some see their art as the epitome of passion.

Some pay a fortune to retain their youth

Some hold the common touch, some just stand aloof.

But wherever you stand on this spectrum

Finding joy remains a conundrum.  

The secret is not found in one’s reputation

Nor in some chemical hallucination.

The simple truth is clear, as was ever thus

Always say you’re sorry and never make a fuss.

Posted in humour, poems, poetry, sonnets | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Annual Bloggers Bash – post scriptum

Well the 2018 Annual Bloggers Bash is done and dusted. With a few unfortunate last minute drop outs, and despite London Transport nearly giving me knipchens by not telling me that only a selection of trains were stopping at Turnham Green (seriously guys? call that a service? not so much driver-less as headless) we still managed a respectable 40 plus attendees. I’m greedy; I want more people to come and enjoy the day and with that in mind we asked people to complete a questionnaire on the day. Hopefully that feedback will let us improve the offering for the future.

The point of this post however is to express my gratitude to one truly splendiferous blogger and crafty person, Pauline King at the Contender Crafter. Now, Pauline decided that she wouldn’t be able to make the Bash due to the distance involved in travelling to it – she lives on the southern most tip of the South Island of New Zealand. So she sent me a gift of one of her beauteous light catchers to be used as a prize. Between us we decided the on the day competition would be to come up with the best collective noun for a group of bloggers. The competition was tough but, after a public voting round the clear winner was…

A Bloggle

The genius behind this inspiration is Lauren at Millys Guide who will now have her own wikipedia entry as the creator of this perfect noun; both Pauline and I hope she enjoys her light catcher.

If you didn’t make it – and if not, why not? You not only missed out on this lovely gift opportunity but also goody bags organised by Suzie and a raffle with books as the prizes. These were all included in the initial ticket price and, well, frankly, with the added attraction of cakes from the ubiquitous Ritu, what more could you want?

Of course, good company. That, peeps, goes without saying.

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Plasticising Your Problems #microcosms

Waxworks can be creepy places at night, but Rodney enjoyed the solitude. When management arranged a Halloween sleepover for pre-teens, the high-pitched screams and youthful urine nearly made him resign.  

Wandering the corridors, Rodney imagined conversations with Queens and killers. One night, following the death of a famous politician, a technician worked late to create a new head for the tableau needed in the morning. Rodney made coffee and sandwiches while absorbing the method and accepting the offer to try for himself. 

With the hiatus over, Rodney spent more hours amongst vats and moulds, letting the calming routine distract from the bitter rawness of home, the bleak silences and exponential rages, the hormones and inexplicable intolerance. The skills came naturally to his sensitive strong fingers, kneading the latex with just the right force. How he longed to stay amongst those who did not answer back; how he wished to share his space with the sympathetic and the silent.

Anniversaries are goldmines for waxworks and a King, who’d decapitated his foes and family with unbridled glee reaching 500 was too good an opportunity to miss.

New mannequins, revised models, fresh costumes, all were needed and Rodney’s new found skills were required. Better, he was happy to work the antisocial shifts and management were delighted when he offered to take the redundant figurines of the Royal family in lieu of wages. Rodney took the preferred praise with a shrug. His neighbours, too, were pleased that the rages that disturbed their peace ceased and charmed by the gentle domesticity displayed through the front window.

Everyone agreed. The exhibition was a success, so much so that management felt able to scoff when an increasing number of visitors complained that, really the eyes of some of the waxworks followed them around the room. 

This week’s #microcosm prompt is Guard, Exhibition Hall, Horror.

 

Posted in flash fiction, miscellany, prompt | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Bullsh*t As A Legal Construct #carrotranch

This week’s prompt from the Carrot Ranch

May 17, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values. Perhaps its a home, business or pencil museum. What makes them go up or down? Go where the prompt leads.

‘You ever wanted to buy property, Logan?’

‘Once. Made a lawyer laugh, though.’

‘I didn’t know they were allowed.’

‘Yeah. He read these papers and wrote me the value was adversely impacted by the dodgy basement.’

‘Damp?’

‘Just listen. When I called, told him it was a second floor flat he laughed. Said it was a crap spell check and he meant an easement?’

‘What’s that?’

‘A right of way.’

‘Why didn’t he say?’

‘That’s what I asked. He said he thought easement was easier to understand than incorporeal hereditament.’

‘Is that even a thing?’

‘Twat.’

‘Aren’t they all?’

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Let’s Connect

Douglas Adams, he of the phantasmagorical Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy penned another set of books based around Dirk Gently and his Holistic Detective Agency. Gently believed in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things and used that belief to solve his clients’ problems and charge them huge expenses.

sam's cat

the cats proving their interconnectedness – or did the Textiliste accidentally sew them together?

He was onto something (not the expenses; that has ‘crook’ written all over it).

Back in the early 1970, as a 16 year old I decided to take a history A level. They are the exams we take here in England (and Wales) as a precursor to going to University; such choices are important. My history master, a short, swarthy Zapata moustachioed Trotskyite  called Colin Boun was determined that we would be different and chose for us an entirely new syllabus – Modern History and International Relations: 1945 to 1974. We started in 1973 so we would be examined on history that had not then occurred (I hated Richard Nixon for very personal reasons as his resignation, occurring just outside the examined period caused consternation a few weeks before the exam as to how we should reflect it in our US domestic history course – the long term damage his criminality did to the trust in the political system was, frankly, a sideshow). That course was pretty unique, not that we 16 year olds realised it. We were just blown away by his ideas and his approach.

He challenged our thinking in many ways. One was on the environment. He told us about the growth of Greenhouse gases and how our planet was warming and this would be an environmental disaster. In 1973. Pretty cool guy, Colin. We, smarty pants that we were, told him what rubbish this idea was. We had had some grim winters; what on  earth did he mean about greenhouse gases and a warmer planet?

That’s when we were introduced to the work of James Lovelock. He is the author of Gaia theory which I have mentioned before.

The Gaia hypothesis proposes that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex living interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism

At the time, in the 196os the notion that the planet was one organism and if you impact one part all other parts may be impacted too and in ways both unintended and incalculable was derided as hippyish, new age nonsense and unscientific. It still has its critics, especially those like Dawkins who see natural selection as antipathetic to such a model.

And true, the theory has changed and developed over the years but today it has much more scientific backing and credibility. Lovelock pleaded with us to change our habits. Today a lot listen, but a lot don’t. Lovelock has opined (in The Revenge of Gaia) that it is now too late to change and make any difference to the outcome of man’s callous impact on our planet. I’m not such a pessimist but the point here is, optimist or pessimist we are all in this together and we, in the UK cannot just go blithely on in our own temperate little zone, glorying in the fact we can grow vines and make decent wine because our summers are better and not be cognisant of the changes that are impacting elsewhere.

There is another theory – the six degrees of separation or the small world problem – which posits one human can be connected to any other in no more than six steps. Many studies have looked at this since the original 1929 notion and nothing has been conclusively shown. However in all of these studies a  proportion, often a significant one does correlate. And perhaps our own experiences show this. Sit in a bus in Bolivia, or a cafe in Bhutan and find a local with whom you can converse. Or walk into a bar in Sydney or Sebastopol and talk to the first person you meet. Chances are there’ll be a link between you somewhere, some common ground.

We live in an ageing world. As you age you tend to become more conservative (small ‘c’ not wishing to offend my liberal minded friends) and resist change and novelty. Become more insular. After all Brexit is the epitome of that issue and while I doubt we will change the decision, resistance isn’t futile. Possibly.

Yesterday I attended a Bloggers Bash with a mix of visitors. The Facebook live broadcasts from the event were watched around the world. In relative terms we are small but with an extraordinarily wide reach. We connect,  we converse and we learn from each other, mostly about how similar we are in our hopes and aspirations and fears.

Ok not everyone looks like this…

… but even without the inner Smurf rising to the surface, we must not let that urge to narrow our focus to be an excuse to become inward looking and ignore, or worse, deny our fundamental interconnectedness with everyone else.  After all, if you look at life’s building blocks, our DNA we are within less than 0.1 percent of being exactly the same as each other. And we share approximately 60% of the same DNA as a banana.

Do not look for differences, people, celebrate our similarities. After all, had your distant ancestors taken a different path you could have been a yellow fruit.

Posted in history, miscellany, thought | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

Controlling The Controllables #writephoto

Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt this week is

‘Good morning, people and who do we have here?’

Janice shuffled nervously forward, avoiding the over large hailstones that obstructed her path.

‘Tsk,’ Rodney Carbuncle clapped his hands and a broombot scuttled across the terrace and swept the debris away. ‘Wagner,’ Rodney whispered. ‘The producer wanted a spectacular without the usual drenching. Now, don’t tell me,’ his oily smile was as slick as the sheeting rain that filled the neighbouring field, ‘wedding plans?’

Janice nodded and looked lovingly at her fiancé, Darren. He, meanwhile stared open-mouthed at the vortex that had engulfed the arena to his left, pulling a bonfire from its moorings and creating a spectacular fireball. Rodney sneered as he looked at the display. ‘Footballer. Celebrating some win, I expect.’ He leant towards Janice and whispered, ‘Nouveau, of course. About as much taste as quorn soup. So, what are we thinking? Dappled woodland? Sussurating sycamores? We at Weather Or Not pride ourselves on creating the perfect microclimate for your big day.’

The smarm was professional and overwhelming. The lovebirds gazed at Rodney before saying, both at the same time, ‘Sun’ ‘Snow’.

Darren and Janice exchanged looks, hers horrified, his sheepish. Rodney slipped between them, gracelessly hurrying them towards two large screens at the rear of their arena. ‘I think I know just the thing. Bride arrives in a carriage, furs elegantly draped – classy, my dear, none of your sub Doctor Chivago – with snow gently falling. She steps from the broom,’ he waved impatiently as a bot mistook his reference and began sweeping again, ‘and throws back her cloak as she strides into the sunlit uplands for the ceremony…’

Darren’s eyes were wide open, ‘You can do all of that?’

Rodney picked up a remote and the screen filled with exactly that scene, ‘Darling, for his second inauguration, we made Donald Trump’s tan look real. Believe me, after that it’s not Weather, but when.’

Posted in #writephoto, miscellany | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Tea and Crumpet

Colin had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since he had drunk tea. Being brought up, surrounded by the aged and the permed, he developed something of an aversion to anything that came hot, black and in cups.

Indeed a life spent around Aunts had caused other issues. He associated Aunts with tea, hats and coarse knitwear. That combination of being scoured and pinched brought on a skin allergy that was triggered whenever a friction quotient in excess of 15 combined with a pressure above of 15 pounds per square inch.

Meeting Rosebud (who didn’t blame her parents for her name, but rather a deaf birth registrar) changed his life. He coped, he thought admirably, with her insistence that any physical entangling had to be accompanied by a brew, while seeking to limit the resultant contact in ways that kept his skin clear.

Finally, nature’s hard-wired instinct to procreate and a tongue that appeared to be both double-jointed and unfeasibly elongated overwhelmed even his defences.

Colin sat in bed in a post-coital fug, cradling a stomach that contained in excess of a litre of Ceylon silvertip first pickings with one hand, while discreetly creaming his now obscenely inflamed scrotum with a proprietary paraffin gel, the only substance he had found to constrain an epidemic of hives.

He shifted position and grimaced. The dermatological disaster that was his penis wasn’t his only problem. Tentatively he twisted round and while his early yoga lessons hadn’t progressed very far it was plain to see that even a merely competent fingerprint expert could lift a perfect example of Rosebud’s whorls from his much-cramponed buttocks.

In theory she was a lover’s delight with her anaconda-esque thighs and hips that could develop a thrusting power to far exceed a hyped-up Airbus 380, but so far as Colin was concerned something had to give.

First though, while these superficial passion tattoos were an irritation, was the question of what to do about the fermenting tea and in particular the intestinal infarction that imbibing had induced. Tea of this high quality, it seemed, was something of a gut gazumper, an alimentary alienator. The tumultuous thunderings that had developed since the elastic and ecstatic Rosebud had withdrawn to the bathroom, promising ‘round two’ shortly, appeared to be centred somewhere between his pancreas and prostate and had, to Colin’s growing anxiety, something of a tsunami feel to it.

Any moment Rosebud would return for more of the promised ‘Rumpty-tumpty’ and he knew, with the same certainty that he knew his Aunt’s knitwear would never be described as the new black, that that the flagrantly unfragrant fissile fusillade of flatulence that would follow would finally finish their febrile fumblings.

Colin, however, wasn’t of an inclination either to rush or to give up. He let go of his stomach and, leaning back,  reached for a cigarette. He toyed with his lighter while he cogitated.

Timing in love as in life is everything. While Colin flicked the flint, seeking to induce a spark, in the bathroom Rosebud’s concentration momentarily wavered. Her hands, still slippery with soap and seminal fluid lost their grip on her tea cup sending it to the hard floor where it appeared to vaporise.

Her involuntary grasp, audible through the half-opened door sounded to Colin not so much redolent of shock as her recently reached climax. The memory of his initially exquisite and subsequently excruciating ejaculatory response to her moment of high passion had two consequences: first his grip on the lighter tightened; second Colin’s pelvic resistance ceased.

A simple example of why chemistry is taught in schools as a preparation  for real life and not just as a means of annoying students ensued. Methane (CH4) with an auto ignition of 580C, when subjected to a Butane flame of circa 880C will inevitably combust. Under pressure from an irritated colon it escapes at 95 metres per second. Flame throwers are less effective. If such a flame meets a sheen of paraffin then the consequences are almost instantaneous as they are inevitable.

When Rosebud emerged from the bathroom moments later, gloriously naked and ready for more, she took in Colin’s surprised expression and immolated genitals. In that second she knew, at last, she had meet a man not only with a matching red hot passion, but also with the sort of dedication to the ultimately sybaritic lifestyle that might be short-lived but would certainly be seared both into their memories and their privates.

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany, short story | 13 Comments