Tilting at windmills

What does the expression ‘blue skies’ conjure up for you? For me, it triggers two thoughts.


who needs blue sky with water this blue?

First it is redolent of bollock-speak, the business language of today. Blue sky thinking. Like brainstorming before it. Business jargon. I shouldn’t really criticize or I risk the accusation of hypocrisy. After all I spent years as a lawyer, obfuscating for money. Happily by the time I joined the profession we were no longer paid by the word – instead it was the insidious timesheet that limited and constrained our lives. Enough. There were few of these expressions that I liked hearing; they were the fingers down the blackboard of the world of work – like split infinitives to a grammarian. A couple raised a smile or two – when an American client, hassling for an answer in one meeting, exhorted his opposite number to ‘shit or get off the can’ I though he had a point. But such glimmers were few and far between.

Second, it brings out the homeboy in me. I’ve lived my life based in southern England. I’ve travelled widely, thirty countries and more and up and down and in and out of our still intact Union. I’ve enjoyed indulging all five senses on the exotic and the inhospitable. But I always want to come home. The water tastes right as does the chocolate and baked beans. Only in Sri Lanka have I found a tea to match English. Driving on the right is the stuff of zombie movies – you feel as if a body part might come off at any moment. Seeing a policemen with a gun (and I know we are losing this by stealth here in the UK) does not increase my sense of security. I like it that we tend to moan and not militarize (at least within our own borders – I hate it when we decide some patch of sand is deserving of our ordnance). And it is this last point that brings me to blue skies, which we often see over deserts. We rarely have them in the UK. Sure there’s blue up there, but also white and black and, for some sunsets and sunrises every conceivable colour (depending on the atmosphere’s pollutant of choice that day). And if the Eskimos have an infinite number of words for snow (as I have heard) we should do they same for grey skies given they are pretty much the default option. But we rarely get all blue. All white (well that sort of white that suggests a well boiled handkerchief) for sure, especially in February (apart from it being the month of the Vet’s birth, please tell me what is the point of February? It provides few benefit that I can see). Anyway I like mixed skies; I abhor monochrome. My mother, in one of her snobby phases, once corrected me and said, ‘No darling, we in Britain have ‘weather’ – ‘climate’ is for the others’ – I well understood she meant the rest of the world (she was a believer that ‘foreign’ started at Calais). I don’t want all blue or all one of anything. I want variety, shades of grey. I like the sun for a bit but I like it when it buggers off too. So I’m not big on blue skies.

Which, circuitously brings us to this week’s prompt from Charli Mills

September 24, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a story where “blue skies won’t wait for you.” What is your character waiting for? Is it too late or  does the impulse come in time? Maybe blue skies are a calling. Try not to think to deeply, and do a quick free-write. Invite your unconscious mind to the page and see what it makes of the phrase.

New Horizons

‘We’ll be in the car.’ Paul and Penny, husband and daughter walked outside.

Mary closed her eyes, imagining a life without folds and shadows. Without lawyers and email and unwanted relations. She picked up her coat. Scotland and a break. A chance to stop thinking, to let in some light.

Penny waved hard, almost as if the draught would pull Mary over. Paul pointed up. ‘The blue skies won’t wait forever.’

Mary slammed the front door. ‘Blue skies?’ She smiled. ‘We’re going to Scotland, not the Seychelles.’

‘It’s not the location. The blue sky is in your smile, love.’


This is a continuation of Mary’s story. If you want to read the rest, all in 99 word flash pieces prompted by Charli, click here.



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 Tilting at windmills

  1. Norah says:

    I’m so pleased Mary is going to get a bit of a break after all the turmoil she has been through. I certainly hope she can find that blue sky smile.
    How interesting I found it to read of your love of grey skies. I guess grey skies mean home for you. Blue skies are home for me, and I love the clear bright blue of our Queensland skies.
    I am finding the greyness and the rain of England at the moment quite different. When rain is forecast in Queensland, it is generally heavy rain that you would get wet when walking in. Here rain is soft, like a butterfly kiss, and not to be escaped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah yes, English ‘soft refreshing rain’ that makes your skin slimy like a snail trail and your hair as frizzy as a bird’s nest – it is the damp of an Atlantic island that leaves your bones aching for heat and your core in need of starch. Welcome to the reason why the Olympics doesn’t contain competitive moaning and professional grumbling because Britain would sweep the board.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Amber Prince says:

    Finally!!! A fellow gray/grey sky lover! There is something comforting in the skies full of heavy clouds. Where I am, we have more blue, sunny days. Even in the dead of winter.

    Love the flash! Mary and her family are well past due for a vacation getaway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    This is a beautiful flash–great phrase: “imagining a life without folds and shadows.” Mary’s journey has been into those folds and shadows, but this stands nicely on its own. I like that she gets a break and is going to Scotland. Do you know what she’ll find there or do you let the story unfold? Sometimes I’m surprised by something I’ve written or something a character says.

    Interesting reflection on blue skies. I like the moody Pacific Northwest with it’s churning skies or puffy white clouds. From June until August it hardly clouds up at all and I find that I’m not a fan of blue skies, every day! I like them in between, or when I want to go fishing. No matter the skies, I like whatever windmills you are tilting over here!


  4. Cindi says:

    I too enjoy blue skies … but much prefer the texture and variations that the Norwegian mountains and Sea give me.

    And if it’s raining — THAT’S when I want to go out for a walk. Bliss!

    I look forward to more about Mary’s vacation!


    • TanGental says:

      The Lawyer loves the rain, always has done. As a child we had to let him out to stand in it, dance in it until he was done and then have the towels ready. It is a glorious feeling, abandoning Everythign else to a walk in the rain, isn’t it?


  5. Pingback: Blue Skies Won’t Wait for You « Carrot Ranch Communications

  6. Lisa Reiter says:

    Love it ! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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