Heavy Hands #sorrynotsorry

I can still remember the moment when, after yet another breakage my Gran told me I was heavy handed. I’d have been about seven, I suppose. Her frustration at my habitual clumsiness had tripped some switch and she’d said something – understandable as it was – that had a significant impact. I realised that if my beloved Gran could say such a thing in a tone of voice that indicated it wasn’t welcome then (a) it must be true and (b) I must be disabled in some way.

my gran proving the Archaeologist also needed help holding up his hands…

As she walked away I looked down at my hands hanging limply where they had always been at the end of my wrists and wondered if I would be able to lift them again.

still heavy handed aged 25

My mum understood my concern when I asked her if I was heavy handed. I expect, with the benefit of adult hindsight she might have been about to confirm the diagnosis but, wise woman that she was, she could see my fear and worry, or maybe hear it in my voice.   She put my mind at rest but the concern lingered. Did my tendency to reduce china back to its molecular base materials in the slip of a finger mean something? Today I might well be gifted an ism or an osis or an xyia; back in the enlightened 1960s I was clumsy, costly and a bit of a liability.

And I’ve apologized for this for, well, forever. It even led to my thoughtful, insightful mother, on being offered another apology for another rubble-rendered set of dinnerware to tell me: ‘don’t say sorry, just don’t do it’.

We have no crystal glasses from our wedding – originally there were twelve. I have been responsible for eleven of those destructions. The twelfth came as a result of a guest laughing so loudly at my regaling some dinner party with how I had destroyed numbers one to seven that they lost control of their glass. So, even indirectly I can weave my magic.

I’ve damaged myself, too, usually in stupid ways, just to even things up with the endangered world of inanimate objects around our home. My head is especially likely to clatter into things. Were I ever to shave it clean of hair the mosaic of cuts might make it look like an alien Rosetta stone or a yellow hammer’s egg.

My family’s most common facial expression, when they see me approaching something solid and at head height is the preemptive wince.

When the Textiliste and I moved into a house for the first time, from a small flat, the master bedroom was huge, stretching right across the front of the Victorian terrace we had bought. Our bed, which had had to fit a pokey back room sat in the middle with what appeared to be an acre of empty floor either side. Not long after we moved in, I had to get up in the dark and set off early. Not wanting to disturb my sleeping partner, I sought to put on my trousers only for one foot to get snagged in the leg material. Trying and failing to free myself I managed, unknowingly to hop all the way across the room to the rather magnificent marble fireplace. At the same moment my tugging freed itself I stood upright abruptly, and clattered my forehead into the mantle-piece.

Fireplace 1, forehead 0.

I grabbed my bruised bonce and swore, doing exactly what I didn’t want to do; wake up the Textiliste. She was instantly solicitous as she inquired as to the reason for my unmanly yowling. She put the light on, and, somehow suppressing a giggle at my stupidity, offered to check me over for signs of damage.

Having seen a few stars and a couple of as yet undiscovered planets I accepted and staggered back to the bed, offering the tenderised spot for her triageing.

‘Oh my, will you look at that?’ she said in a voice that, while attempting sympathy managed merely to convey surprise with a side of glee.

‘What?’ I know I sounded anxious; at the best of times my courage hovers around the Brave Brave Sir Robin level.

‘It’s like an egg.’

Understand, please that she is the kindest, most caring person, but when someone’s head has sprouted, in seconds, a fully formed and exact replica of a hen’s egg there is a level of temptation that is beyond saints let alone mere mortals and that is to press it and see if it disappears or, better still, pops out somewhere else.

As the recipient of such egregious if understandable experimentation, let me confirm what you all suspect. It does not move and it is effing agony.

Still, we married later that year so her apologies must have been both effusive and credible.

Perhaps the Olympic standard width and depth of my ability to destroy home-ware was really first understood by me, and my apologies as sincere as ever I could make them, when Mum bought, at large expensive a set of plates and cups made of what was then a new plastic called melamine. It was sold on the basis it was unbreakable. Mum was ever the optimist.

Of course, inside a fortnight the Archaeologist was delightedly explaining to Mum that ‘Geoff’s broken an unbreakable cup.’

Mum, naturally was incredulous; the advert had been so convincing. ‘How?’

So I showed her.

That didn’t end well, but it was the beginning  of a life time of ‘I’m sorry…’

This post is inspired by Irene Waters ‘Times Past’ post asking for memories of the first moment you remembered feeling sorry. Probably at birth since I was some ten pounds eight ounces and a natural delivery. That has to test anyone’s maternal instincts….


Posted in #timespast, memories | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

The Way Of Life #writephoto #robertfrost

In my continuing series of famous poems loved by the BBC’s listeners and ruined by me we reach Robert Frost and The Road Not Taken. I have also utilized Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt

Two Roads

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

For years I never gave it thought

Until the day when alone I stood

And, like dawn at last,  I understood

That was the way I’d always sought.


It curved and fell amongst the hills

A twisted spine, a placid stream

A way for good, a path to ills

A vein of calm, a ride for thrills

Of hope and fear, an undreamt dream.


Its end, just then, like mine, unknown

My eye it sought, yet never found;

Youth, like corn in tilled soil sown

Wishes itself already grown,

Free of the wait to which it’s bound.


I chose that road, it’s mine to follow,

Each step reveals what before was hid.

Everyone was once  so callow

Yet walk we must our pride to swallow

Since without, we may as well be dead.


The way will change, at times we’re lost

Horizons crossed, our future shown;

It’s there for us, our guiding host

Pointing us to that final coast

Where we’ll depart, our time here gone.


And what if we have never taken

That road that was till then less traveled?

What future would we have forsaken,

From what dreams would we not awaken?

What riddle would have remained unraveled?


It is not for us to see the way

Our lives might go before we choose,

So in the sun, let’s make our hay

And dodge the storms as best we may

And walk that path wherever it leads.



Posted in #writephoto, poems, poetry, prompt | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Building Woes #flashfiction

Mr ‘ansel? Bad news I’m afraid.’

‘Again? Do you builders ever bring good news?’

‘In Fairyland? You’ll want a happy ending next. It’s the gingerbread cladding…’

‘Yes? Has the cost gone up?’

‘I can’t get any, even with a sack of giant’s beans. You’ll have to make do with carrot or pumpkin.’

‘No way. You heard what happened with that Ella woman?’


‘That’s the one. Her godmother turned the town’s allotment into transport. No one’s changing my house into a veggie vehicle. Where’s the gingerbread gone?’

‘It’s that caterpillar, gone for partially peckish to very hungry and…’ *shrugs

This little piece secured a HM in the ‘Fractured fairy tales’ competition at the Carrot Ranch. #mostpleased

Posted in competition, creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Scratches – One Man’s Art Is Another Man’s Crime

‘Bloody vandalism.’

‘It’s street art.’

‘Give me a break, Logan. These yobbos don’t care about art.’

‘Some of it’s really clever and they’re not breaking anything…’

‘So it’s ok to cover someone’s house in paint?’

‘Often the owner wants it…’

‘What if they don’t?’

‘Ok, that’s wrong. But if the building’s grotty and they bring a smile…’

‘Who gets to judge? What if they upset everyone else? They’re just thoughtless.’

‘So when you go out and get absolutely blotto and ruin everyone else’s night, that’s ok, is it?’

‘It’s different.’

‘Why? You always call it “painting the town red”…’

December 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about graffiti. It can be an artist, art or the medium itself. Get out your can of spray paint and go where the prompt leads you.

Posted in carrot ranch, creative writing, prompt, street art | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Two Neighbours #flashfiction

While I move towards the final preparation for my latest anthology (thank you all who commented on the possible covers – i am considering what might be best)  I thought I’d share one small piece from it to whet your appetites. It is slightly, erm, adult in its themes, so you know

Margaret Platt has a secret. Her neighbours in Abbeywell Mansions, a mock Tudor block on the outskirts of Cheam to the west of London, see Margaret as a little old lady, spending her days with her knitting circles and book clubs, occasionally venturing out with her wheeled basket to take a healthy walk into town for some shopping. If any of the tenants wonder about the inside of flat seven, they assume it kitsch, perhaps, be-doilied and full of nick-nacks.

Graeme Rickshaw, at flat number eight, also hides the truth of his existence from his fellow residents. In his thirties, Graeme, they assume, is an accountant or, perhaps an actuary, keen on healthy living, exercise and self-improvement.

Margaret and Graeme’s privacy is maintained because no one pries at Abbeywell. Residents nod on passing, a hat may be tipped and occasionally a greeting exchanged. But rarely are thresholds crossed. It simply isn’t done and everyone likes it that way.

That remained the status quo until today, a broiling hot Thursday afternoon in June. Graeme’s window is open; he is at his workstation, concentrating on his latest task when he hears a noise. But not any noise. It is a cry of pain, a cry at once both sharp and sad. He stops and waits. There is a muttering and then another cry, lower, more guttural, followed by a distinct: ‘Help.’

Graeme is torn. On the one hand he is halfway through his current task and loathe to stop completely and lose momentum; on the other, the sounds are continuing; females in distress. Old fashioned chivalry, instilled by his father, overrides more quotidian concerns. He checks everything is in order and heads for the door.

Graeme has already determined the sounds emanate from Margaret’s apartment. He knocks and puts an ear to the door. Muffled though it is, the sounds of continuing discomfort come to him. He tries the handle and pushes.

Those who see Graeme as a health aficionado base their assessments in part on his physicality. He is strong and the lock is no match for his shoulder; so much so that when the door gives way Graeme hurtles, in a somewhat undignified manner, through the door and straight into the sitting room.

Surprise is but one reaction to this accelerated visitation. Shock, too, is there, as is distress and, at least for two people, a degree of hope.

For Margaret is not the quiet retiree of common myth, nor are her (exclusively female) visitors knitters and readers but those who enjoy the calming relief of group tantric lesbian sex (Wednesdays half-price for the over seventies). Today through a combination of a new position and a dislocated hip, Jemima Newbiggin (train guard and stamp collector) and Sandra Flout (self-employed pig whisperer) are knotted together in increasing agony while Margaret is trying to ease them apart, hindered as she is by the slick sheen of their naked limbs and Jemima’s understandable if inhibiting punches every time the pain increases. While it is not entirely essential for this tale it is worth noting here that Margaret is also sweaty and naked.

Graeme is a man not given to embarrassment in the presence of nudity. He takes in the scene and steps forward.

‘Allow me, ladies.’

Graeme, you see, is an up and coming, if one can put it that way, porn star whose principal asset is his exceptionally impressive wang. He is a keen student of contortion and has been known to carry three actresses across a set so this ménage appears, to Graeme’s eyes at least, as a straightforward challenge.

The three women, however, are less than enamoured of Graeme’s well-meant if a trifle thoughtless approach. But pain dulls articulacy and none are capable of explaining their reluctance to be manhandled by one so patently masculine, even in extremis.

No one is clear whose hand grabs Graeme’s groin and finds, no doubt unexpectedly, a metal weight.

Equally it remains unexplained why that hand does not let go when confronted with something so strange but instead yanks for all it is worth.

It must be noted that, in his time in the industry, Graeme’s wang has been the subject of considerable manipulation; however, never before has this happened when wearing his penile-enhancement weight. As Graeme tugs one way and the weight is tugged the other something delicate is torn rendering Graeme no longer capable of supporting three writhing women. He falls to the floor concussing himself on an ornamental spittoon and pinning Margaret beneath his inert self.

A combination of the screams, the splintered door, the cries of distress and Graeme’s somewhat earthy and Anglo-Saxon reaction to having his foreskin julienned brings more help to Margaret’s apartment.

One would like to report the attendees’ first consideration is to call the appropriate services to help the unfortunate foursome. Sadly there is a delay while pictorial evidence is obtained and shared on social media, as is the modern way. While the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity may hold true, the local paper’s headline takes some living down

Slick chicks in tricky dick fix

(More pictures pages 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 21)

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The Lining Of Clouds #memoir #humour

Dave The Mechanic

Coming home from holiday brings back many memories. In the long hot summer of 1975 (no, ok, that was 1976, but where would we be without rose tinting) my holiday comprised a kind of grand tour around the UK with my best friend, Dave. We had little in common really beyond a love of beer and being in the same maths set but friends we were.

Where we really differed was in the sphere of things mechanical. He loved them, I broke them. His particular focus was his car, a fragile bipolar Ford that he lovingly stripped and fripped while trying to persuade me Frank Zappa really was singing and not self-waxing his buttocks.

Since I knew zip about the workings of the internal combustion engine he could bullshit me with a baffling dialogue of pidgin Haynes every time the magic stopped and we pulled onto the side of the road.

In truth Dave loved a good breakdown so he could spend time tinkering.

I sort of knew a significant part of my holiday would comprise verge-perching so I brought several books and cassette tapes to wile away the hours.

Of course, reading and rewinding crappy C90 tapes takes you only so far given the likelihood of occasional showers during a British summer especially if one occasional shower decides to bump against a few others in an overly friendly cloud hug.

By the end of our third week our tour had taken us to Caerleon in Wales, Manchester and Carlisle in the West and Huddersfield, Hull and Beverley in the East. It was a drizzly Monday and we were cruising down the M1 heading for Coventry. Mud was competing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra with background notes of the Blue Oyster Cult and Caravan as our musical interlude when we began cruising to a halt. Dave steered us to the hard shoulder, barely able to hide the grin in his voice. ‘Total loss of power.’ Even I could work that out. I sat in my seat staring at the oily raindrops, once again putting a bet on which one would reach the bottom first while Dave unloaded the boot of his gubbins.

‘It’s the reversing spraggle-doggit. It’s recrabbling and needs a fres-pizzle at torque N.’ Or something like that.

It’s darkest before dawn; you need to reach the bottom before climbing back up; there is always a light at the end of every tunnel. So many clichés, so much wasted hope.

But even occasional showers have silver linings. Or perhaps pewter, but at least something almost shiny to cling to. A jam sandwich pulled up behind us and a comfortably sized constable who, in years, was clearly a classmate of Methuselah, climbed out and waddled our way.

As soon as I saw him, I knew I needed to join Dave at the bonnet end, if only to translate from Greasish into English.

‘What’s up, lads?’

Dave began to explain.

I butted in, ‘We’ve broken down. Not sure why, officer.’

Dave glared. Constable Gnome nodded and spoke into the radio on his lapel. ‘Hello, Doris. Couple of likely ones, broken down near junction twenty.  Can you sort out a tow?’

Dave made a sort of hiss that both Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter might have mimicked. ‘I can fix this.’

‘You’ve twenty minutes, kiddo; then you’re towed.’

Dave dived into the Stygian depths while Constable Orange and I exchanged pleasantries. From time to time Dave popped up like a tungsten sprung meerkat to check on his enemy and then returned to the bowels of his car. Sadly he was still freediving when a rusty truck pulled up in front of us. A slick and strutting youth, no older than us, stepped out, rollup limply dangling from his lips and sauntered over.


Dave shielded his baby from the Gaze From the Dark Side. ‘I’m nearly there.’

The Pimpled Protagonist leant over the radiator and sucked in a breath. ‘That’s yer problem, mate.’ A stubby finger pointed at a gaping hole, the size of a florin, in the engine block. How Dave had missed such an obvious flaw was as mysterious as anti-matter or the continuing popularity of Cash in the Attic.

‘There’s a technical term for that,’ he smirked, looking at each of us. ‘Yer fucked.’

Dave was broken. We helped him to the passenger seat in the truck where he curled, foetus-like and reviewed his career options. I felt for him, of course, but, at the same time, I knew I’d no longer be made to feel totally inadequate. Clouds, silver linings and all that jazz: sort of depends whether you are inside looking out or outside looking in.

Posted in humour, memories | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

I’m Not Running #theatre #review

It’s a fine line to tread, as a playwright (or script writer generally), between penning a drama with a message and writing a polemic with ciphers and tropes galore.

David Hare is, in my experience, a skilled craftperson who has often achieved the former in his work. This time, well, not so much.

Pauline Gibson may or may not be running for something. It’s denied – not that we know what – right at the outset. And before we find out any more we are plunged back into her past, her failed relationship with Jack at University – he wants more, something deeper, she doesn’t – and we move forward to discover what it is she is not running for or from.

We learn about her destructive relationship with her mother (yawn) and her violent father (sigh) and her naive optimism as a doctor wanting to do her best (zzzzzz). And still we wait for the big reveal. What isn’t she running for/from. And is she, in fact, not not running?

She has this weirdy relationship with Jack; weirdy in the sense that Jack isn’t so much a failed lover as chiselled debating buddy who she can use to juxtapose Hare’s clunky political points. At the end there’s this scene at a funeral where they swap ideas, more ideals, about single issue politics against the messy compromises of the real politik class, gender politics, and how the focus can be more on process than doing the right thing or even winning votes. It’s not really very believable (goodness knows why, by then, she still bothers with the boring and self absorbed Jack) and it has very little to do with moving the plot forward.

See underneath this is Hare’s disappointment with the Labour Party. It’s like he hates the compromising Blairites as much as Momentum’s Singularity where the moral high ground has been reduced to a pinnacle of didactic fundamentalism rather than a plateau of various shades and if you are not exactly ‘on point’ then you are the enemy.

And his answer is trite. More women. Of course we need more women in politics but really, is the answer merely embedded in gender? And is this the place where it is best discussed?

So the story that we start with – saving a hospital in Corby – drifts off into, not so much talking as declaiming heads. Hare tries to inject a story on top of his creation in the guise of Pauline and Jack and whether really isn’t it all about sex and love and stuff. But really that’s just to pad this thing out to two hours forty (and time for a pee and and an ice cream after the first hour and ten).

If you want to get the point(s0, just read any version of the commentariat in the Guardian since Corbyn ascended to be the Virtuous Vegan at top the moist heap of polished moralising that is today’s Labour elite. It’d be quicker, better explained and the ice creams won’t be over priced. As for this? Well, if you must, wait for it to go to Netflix and you have to stay in for the gasman.

And did she run? And for what? Sod it, go if you care. At least I haven’t spoilt such plot as there is. It’s in the reviews anyway. Maybe that’ll teach me to read them first.

Posted in review, theatre | Tagged , , | 13 Comments