Trains and boats and planes…

Charli Mills has suffered at the hands of United Airlines this last week, prompting us to write about a yellow boat (I know, that sounds like me, going off at a tangent) so transport is at the core of this week’s flash fiction challenge. The above pictures, of my Grandfather, shows types of transport from the 1920s. At some point I will tell the story of Percy Francis but for now let’s revert to the Billy Kramer song and the trains and boats and planes.

I suppose anyone who has spent any time flying knows of Charli’s frustrations. The delays, the manic rush for a connection, the staff who appear to be waiting for you to ask your question in a particular way before they will give you the information you require. Some airports have been designed by architectural torturers whose sole aim is to make finding and then getting to your gate as difficult as possible. Dulles airport in Washington is one of the worst.

All that said I have found more frustrations and screaming impotence arising from my use of the railway. And to be fair a lot is down to my incompetence. Catching the wrong train, sleeping through my stop, trying to alight from the wrong carriage at a short platform, leaving heaven knows how much luggage on board, including a forest of umbrellas.

I drive my family mad by my insistence on arriving at the station or airport well in advance of the advertised time for check in. I check and recheck tickets and still do I get things wrong. On my honeymoon I read 14.40 for 4.40 and ended up running across the tarmac to catch the plane (in the days when that was possible). This year returning from Edinburgh I convinced myself the train left at 5.30 and arrived at 4.50 only to find it actually left at 4.30. So I had to pay an extra £150 for new tickets, the train stopped for two hours near Newcastle for a broken train ahead and another 3 near Luton for a suicide. We arrived back in London in the wee hours and queued for a cab for another two hours arriving home at 5 or 6 in the morning. The Textiliste laughed. I took that as yet another sign of her forgiving nature but it could have been the onset of travel dementia.

The one mode of transport I really avoid is the boat. Ferries, cruise ships, anything really. Not because of delays or incompetent and uncivil staff, but because I loathe being on water. I suppose that is why Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of my favourite films – the bit where the car bursts into flames is priceless.

It is with some reluctance therefore that I turn to this week’s flash. My poor characters must deal with Charli’s yellow boat.

October 8, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a yellow boat on a river. Be creative with the phrase. It can be about a yellow boat or it could be the name of a band or brand of toothpaste. It can be included in the setting or be the adventure.

If you have been following Mary and her family you will know they are in Scotland on a much needed break. The link is here, if you need to catch up. Sadly bad news has followed her, but maybe things will look up.

Head above water.

‘It’s lovely, dad.’ Penny ran to the yellow rowing boat. ‘Where are we going?’

Paul looked at his wife, Mary. ‘To say bye to grandpa. His ashes are scattered near here.’ He glanced at Mary. ‘Ok love?’

Mary’s eyes reflected the fathomless blue of the loch. She watched her daughter chat happily to the boatman. Did it matter if she was adopted or flesh and blood like Penny? It was about love, wasn’t it? Unconditional love. That’s what’s makes a parent and her father had given her that.

‘Let’s say goodbye. Properly this time. And then let’s go home.’

Charli also challenged us to create a flash for the Gymnast, her 3 year old great nephew. If you missed that in her blog, here’s my effort:-

The Gymnast saves the day

The Gymnast took three yellow cushions to the pond. Nanners stood alone on the island, her eyes covered by weeds, her glasses floating on the water.

‘You need to trust me Nanners, if I’m going to save you.’

‘What’s your plan my love?’

‘I have the yellow cushions.’

‘But they’ll sink…’

‘It’s alright Nanners. I know what I’m doing. You trust me, don’t you?’

‘Of course my love. What do I do?’

The Gymnast pushed the cushions into the water. He said the magic word as he did. A yellow boat appeared and Nanners stepped forward. She was safe.



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. 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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21 Responses to Trains and boats and planes…

  1. Norah says:

    I share your need to arrive super early for scheduled departures. I like to allow time for any unexpected eventualities. I also check, double-check and triple-check that I have, and still have everything I need. Just to be sure. Maybe if I had less time, I would check less frequently too.
    I like the development with your flash. Sounds like Mary is moving towards acceptance. That is a good thing. I’m sure the gymnast enjoyed the yellow boat flash for him. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Annecdotist says:

    Another two fine flashes. I think I’ve got some yellow cushions somewhere – must try them on the pond!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    If I arrive early it’s almost a guarantee my mode of transport will arrive late. Chicago O’Hare airport is horrible–designed to torture passengers with endless circles. One day I’ll tell you about the cheap bus…once, and only once did I ever take it! Love the movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles! Comic genius.

    Mary seems to be finding peace and it’s a lovely image of the family on a loch in Scotland with a yellow rowing boat.

    Ah, but I adore your second story! I read the age-appropriate ones to the Gymnast and was delighted to discover that he’ll sit through stories without the need for pictures. He’s an imaginative child. He really loved this story, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is so annoying for others that don’t have the same need to arrive early. Mind you I don’t think I’d get times wrong to the point of costing me £150 so I think despite your protestations you are probably in reality quite laid back. My husband feels the same as you about being on boats. He migrated ot Australia as a £10 migrant by boat and the experience must have been bad as he feels trapped when he cannot avoid a boat ride.
    Great flashes as always. Charli will have stories for her nephew to last her a lifetime.


  5. Pingback: Yellow Boats « Carrot Ranch Communications

  6. willowdot21 says:

    These are so beautiful, sad but happy too. I really enjoy your flash fiction. BTW You have such a fantastic family , past and present . They are all so interesting I see a book there “The Famous Le Pard Family ❤


  7. Sherri says:

    You sound just like my hubby, always wants to arrive in ‘good’ time. I am the opposite so we drive one another crazy, ha! Love that film, absolute classic. Your posts always bring a smile to my day Geoff and I felt a great sense of peace for Mary in your latest flash. Very good and your story is wonderful. I bet Charli’s nephew lapped it up – pun intended 😉


  8. Pingback: En Vacannes | TanGental

  9. trifflepudling says:

    T,P & A is also one of my favourite films and I agree, that bit where the car gets on fire is hilarious, especially the follow-on when they’re driving along the next day and are stopped by the police, and John Candy explains that they didn’t know how fast they were going because the speedometer had melted! I’m laughing right now!

    In January, I managed to buy a return rail ticket from the south of England to Huddersfield, meaning to return 3 days later but actually somehow managing online to book a day return… To add insult to idiocy, I didn’t even notice until I was about to get on the return train….

    Hope France has been nice! The French don’t mind as long as you try and speak French. And anyway M. Balls-Ache & Co at school is enough to put anyone off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Yes that bit in the burnt out car is amazing . Sorry about the train. You know you have my sympathy. And they are appreciative if somewhat pleased to show me up! Grrrr


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