Changing the habits…

Change can be very upsetting. There is often a comfort in the status quo, in being certain of something despite the fact it patently works badly or barely at all. Change is  an experiment that might work, might fail or might work but with dire side effects or unintended consequences.  Change in life is a risk. We cannot easily experiment, we cannot run a control alongside the proposed change. It is why change becomes more difficult the older you become; you have more vested in the now based on the accumulated experiences, good and bad, of your life. When you’ve barely lived, when you’ve not experienced the disastrous consequence of a change that seemed so perfect at the time it occurred – like the fizzing starburst of a first love found and the gut liquefying horror of its eventual loss – change can be pure adrenaline, life’s bungee jump.

My dear old dad had a rant for every occasion. One was the use of ‘progress’ to mean ‘change’. His target, as so often, was the political class, who would try and justify a proposed change by calling it progress. You can change by going backward as well as forwards; progress is essentially forward moving. The point came when he was suspicious of all change, of people who told him how much better things would be with this or that. He wasn’t quite an ‘in my day’ old fogey but he needed convincing about some so called benefits that change might bring. He’d have loved this German comedy skit on why, for some, the benefits of a tablet are not those anticipated.

Even worse than change and progress being conflated was, in his eyes, the use of ‘revolution’ to mean change for the better.  He never tired in pointing out that if something revolves it will eventually come back to where it started. ‘There’s been a revolution in mobile telephony in the last twenty years’ is a refrain often heard. Where once we lived in small communities and everyone knew everyone else’s business, so now with instant communications and social media, the upcoming generation hide nothing from their peers for good and bad. Maybe he had a point.

All this comes from Charli’s prompt for this week: August 27, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to announce some sort of change. It could be at the beginning of the story–a lonely bar keep on a quiet road hears the rumble of motorcycles and anticipates customers. That could be good news or bad…Or you could tell a story that unfolds as expected until a character hears something–like a bride getting ready upstairs at the church who hears a shattering below followed by the shouts of her groom, “I’m outta here!” Sound can trumpet, clang or whisper. It can foreshadow or be the twist.

So where will Mary and her family go this week?



‘Leave me ALONE!’

The door bulged as it slammed shut. Mary’s daughter’s muffled sobs were replaced by Carly Simon.

‘What’s up?” Mary flinched when she felt her husband’s hand.

‘She hates me.’

Paul listened. ‘She’s got your taste in music.’

‘It’s not funny.’

‘Why would she hate you?’

Mary didn’t answer. She pressed against the wood. ‘What was that?’

‘I didn’t hear anything.’

When Mary opened the door, the room was empty, the window open. ‘See?’

‘But where’s she gone? What’s going on?’

‘Bloody Rupert, that’s where.’

Paul hesitated. ‘Oh for god’s sake. This has to end, Mary. Now.’


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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10 Responses to Changing the habits…

  1. Charli Mills says:

    The German comedy skit certainly sums up what changes we are willing to accept (or not)! I think you’re right about the older we get the more resistant, but I think we can stay young by implementing changes to our daily lives–travel, writing, swapping ideas. It doesn’t have to be all about technology or progress. It can be doing something new, something adventurous!

    In your flash you’re really showing the mounting tension that comes from Mary’s reluctance to accept her half-brother yet her daughter feel the family connection so keenly. By adding in this husband character of Paul, you are able to show a different perspective than Mary’s which brilliantly adds to the tension. Paul is one of those characters that “accessorizes” nicely within the story. This continues to take on depth, yet each one creates a micro-story. I’m thinking (hoping, actually as this is for me,, too with my story) that each flash offers a future scene or chapter.

    Great writing! And love the sound of Carly Simon to cover up the escape.


    • TanGental says:

      It is fun, which I think you are finding too, to follow a set of characters. I had a worry that, by the self limiting ordnance of staying with one group, I’d find it difficult to fit within your prompts but in truth this week I had three or four possibilities. Maybe in practice it is giving me more options (and the tyranny of having to choose!) rather than the reverse. How do you find it? That said, when you took us into the future (and as Anne pointed out that was my fault anyway) that was very tricky! Stay within the same time frame and who know where we might go. 🙂


  2. Annecdotist says:

    I love your Dadisms. In only 2 1/2 decades in the NHS, I saw a number of supposed improvements which were merely changes, and interestingly preferred the earlier ones to the later, and was there just long enough to witness that some of them were indeed revolutions. It’s rather amusing to see similar things happening in another public body where I’m a lowly volunteer, so it doesn’t hurt in the same way to find they are going through the process of changing/modernising their logo.
    And Mary’s story goes from strength to strength – I was slightly suspicious that she was listening to Carly Simon but never suspected the extent of her defiance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Dadisms! Love that. He had quite a few. It is easy to smile cynically at the naivety of people who think they have a solution which is merely a repeat of something tried before. Ah youth! Still better they keep trying than give up.
      Thank you for the comment on the flash. I feel I need to shake it up a bit. let’s see where Chari takes us!


  3. Norah says:

    I like your prologue about change and really enjoyed the German iPad in the dishwasher skit – very funny. I’m beginning to see some similarities between your Dad and mine. Maybe it’s that generation even though they were a world away from each other.
    I love this continuing saga of Mary. The introduction of Rupert has certainly added other complications. You have included a lot of different sounds which all signify a change is afoot. Well done.


    • TanGental says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. I really have no idea where next!
      On dad’s and generations I have this theory. I think that for those who were adolescents pre the 60s the divide between the generations was clear cut. Those after we have similar music, clothing, food, entertainment interests to our children. Which means we perhaps appreciate and understand them better but makes it more difficult for them to find points of difference which are so important to adolescents. Fortunately I cannot abide rap music ( though drum n bass and house are fine) so the Lawyer has refined tastes in crap repetitive chanting – like Gregorian Monks for the 21 st century!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I think you are right about the delineation of the generations, and, as you say, the young ones still need to find something to rebel against though – doesn’t matter how easy they’ve got it or how understanding their parents are!! (Things were tougher in my day!) 🙂


      • TanGental says:

        Aye. We lived in shoebox and ate gravel… You were lucky!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura Burke says:

    I enjoyed this entry, but I’m behind with your characters. It compels me to go back and catch up with them, so I can be up to speed. Great scene.


    • TanGental says:

      Hi Laura. Welcome here. You’ll find all previous episodes under the Mary’s Story tab under My Work on the bar at the top of the blog. Thanks


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