Rattled #flash fiction #carrotranch

Charli’s prompt this week is

January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound. It can be an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy. Go where the prompt leads you.

We had some really rubbish cars in the 1960s and 70s: the first family car was a Hillman Husky which was okay, except for the fact you had to start it with one of those crank levers at the front that nearly always tried to break a leg or arm.


you can see the Husky tucked into the garage; a fairly common place given the amount they didn’t go

But after that they were rubbish, always going wrong. Consequently Dad became more and more neurotic about them. He was no mechanic, had the vaguest clue about the internal combustion engine, thought spark plugs had something to do with the lighting and the distributor cap something worn by a sales executive. The result was that at the slightest change of engine note his shoulders would slump, he would mutter something that we children were not meant to hear and say, in what felt like a dying breathe, ‘Oh god, Barbara, not again’.

To be fair to the old boy, we did suffer from a number of motoring disasters including a never to be forgotten moment when the handbrake cable snapped on a hill in Rye in Sussex – hilly is Rye – and we rolled  slowly but inexorably back into a Mercedes with Dad tugging uselessly at the now free flowing handbrake chanting ‘No, no,’ and failing to apply the obvious foot brake, despite mum’s best efforts to get him to.


this is I think the benighted and loathed Ford Cortina – after 50 miles or so the dipstick (remember them?) would spin and touch a cable to the starter motor rendering it inoperable.

Best of all would be a new rattle. Once a rattle had been diagnosed Dad was fine with it – he bowed to the superior wisdom of all garage mechanics – omnipotent polymaths so far as dad was concerned – and happily let the rattle accompany our drives. But should a new rattle start up, or, terror of terrors, an old one stop (this had to mean, like a V1 bomb engine cutting out that death and destruction would follow within seconds) then he was hanging out of the driver’s window, even as we cruised along at 20, 30, 40 miles an hour, describing the noise, the likely cause (he had no clue really) and becoming increasingly morose.


this too is the Ford; I suspect if the garage was open and it was night time Dad was trying to repair the exhaust – again. There was a gunk called complan (that may have been nana’s constipation medication) or something he used to no noticeable effect.

These days cars don’t develop anything like the number of strange noises they once did but, having sat in the back of the car and watched my father make a complete tit of himself, I just ignore them until the car stops and then call a break down service. I’m just as stupid and stubborn as him, only a different type of stupid and stubborn.

And so to the flash and Penny and Paul doing a clear out.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

‘What’s this, Dad?’

Paul looked up from the box he was sorting. ‘Goodness, it’s your grandpa’s football rattle.’

‘What’s that?’ Penny eyed the contraption suspiciously.

Paul smiled, taking it. ‘Eagalllesss!!’ He bellowed and spun the rattle. Penny covered her ears. Paul laughed. ‘Football grounds were full of that noise in the 60s and 70s.’

Penny pulled a face. ‘I prefer those trumpet things you hate.’

‘Vuvuzelas? They’re awful.’

‘You’re just old-fashioned.’

Paul nodded. ‘Like REM and Beyonce are different I suppose. One’s tuneful and the other mush.’

Penny went back to her box. ‘We can agree on that then.’

this is a vuvuzla

and this a football rattle

and if you want to follow Penny Paul and the North family, go 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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33 Responses to Rattled #flash fiction #carrotranch

  1. Ritu says:

    Love the preamble about your cars! Hubby Dearest has several regular rattles that accompany us in his car!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly Geoff, your dad was as unique as you mum! Both highly enjoyable 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elissaveta says:

    This is an interesting one, so far and different from where I would’ve gone which is exactly the reason why I like it! Maybe I should join in on those weekly prompts. After all, I’ll be doing a lot of this if I get into NYU… (!!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erika Kind says:

    Rather the old-fashioned rattle indeed….!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachel says:

    Great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norah says:

    Oh yes, I do remember those rattle bombs, and the dipsticks, especially the ones behind the wheel! How horrifying to roll back into a Mercedes, and how embarrassing to not apply the footbrake! Thanks for the lesson in sporting rattles. I guess it’s just another reason why I’m no sports fan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As soon as I saw the theme, I thought of football rattles. Nice treatment

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The longest job I held down was as a Transport Manager. How cars changed over those 25 years! In the early days, some cars did not even come with a cassette recorder and radio! Can you imagine that now? Not even power assistant steering was included, and as for aircon….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh yes. The ‘old hands out of the window’ thing I did for my driving test.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never heard of either of those football noisemakers. Gah! No, thanks. But I do remember many a car with some rattling going on… So fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Charli Mills says:

    The Hub was always tinkering at the engine of his truck from the time I first met him. He could come up with fixes that left me unamused, like having to stand on the front bumper in a short dress during winter (back in the days I waited tables in Montana) to turn the fly wheel (which was missing a tooth) with a socket wrench. I was the one who groaned at every new rattle and its accompanying fix. Loved the flash, too and learning what a football rattle is!

    Liked by 2 people

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  13. Annecdotist says:

    Glad you choose this route for the flash, Geoff, as I was also thinking about those football rattles and I definitely with Penny in preferring them to those trumpet things (although happy to do without footballers together). And I loved your preamble about the antics of the family cars. Nowadays, it’s not even a rattle we ignore but a light flashing on the dashboard – or is that just me?

    Liked by 3 people

    • TanGental says:

      Ah yes how true
      Those ghastly warning lights. Thanks Anne. I think we can all agree how much better football would be without footballers and its crass supporters. Almost as much as being a lawyer would have been fun without the client…

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I remember the days when the males in my life fixated on rattles. I’ve always been able to ignore them. It came as a jolt from the past when Roger became obsessed by a rattle in the first new car we bought in 2009. He felt it shouldn’t have any rattles. Eventually we found it was a problem in the glove box between two items I had put in there. Funny how sound doesn’t come from where you hear it. My aunt had a Hillman hunter. Where our cars tended to be on the large side yours seem to have been much smaller but then, if they weren’t they wouldn’t have got into your garage which looks like a tight fit. Thanks for adding your memories to Times Past Geoff.

    Liked by 4 people

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  16. hitebook.net says:

    […] Shake, Rattle and Roll by Geoff Le Pard […] I think we can all agree how much better football would be without footballers and its crass supporters.

    Liked by 1 person

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