Sunday 6 July 2014

Measuring Up

Light and Shade's latest Challenge inspired me with this.

Image courtesy of

'So how long is it?'
'It's 183cm, hold the tape still, mummy.'
'And how high is it?'
'It's 74cm.  Mummy, please hold the tape still.  Miss said you need to hold tapes still for an accurate measurement.'
'Is this okay?'
'You're not holding it straight, mummy, and that affects the measurement.  Miss said you have to hold tapes straight to get an accurate measurement.'
'How about that?'
'Thank you, mummy.  Please measure 91.5cm to the centre and 15cm out from that point on each side.'

I sighed and carried on with the most accurately constructed cardboard box den ever.  

Tuesday 1 July 2014

I Kept My Word

Here is my response to this Monday's Light and Shade Challenge.  I had the advantage of finding the quotation, but I didn't expect it to come out this way.  The quotation is:

"Tell them I came, and no one answered,

That I kept my word," he said.
- Walter de la Mare, The Listeners

'Tell them I kept my word,' he said
As the storm clouds gathered overhead
With the setting sun tainting them red

'Tell them I came, as was my right
But the locked Great Hall was shuttered tight
And the echoes mocked in the fading light

He rested his head on the deep grained wood
The sunset glowed on his travel stained hood
'Tell them I came as I said I would.'

'Tell them I travelled over the seas
Across the great rivers and under the trees
But I kept my word and I held the keys'

A raven cawed in a twiggy nest
The wind was rising in the west
'Tell them, say that I did my best.'

'I saw strange stars and stranger skies.'
But he listened in vain for the listeners sighs
'I kept my word, all else is lies.'

At the edge of the sky the thunder growled
And the rising wind wept soft then howled
At the dead Great Hall the traveller prowled

'I kept my oath and now am free
I no longer approach on bended knee.'
He opened his hand and dropped the key

It seemed like no stroke of luck or chance
That the heavens threw down their fiery lance
As he rode away with no backward glance.

He felt the heat hard on his back
The Great Hall flamed from the lightning's crack
But he still rode on down the weedy track.

I seriously recommend the original, and you can read it here

Sunday 22 June 2014

Party Stains

Light and Shade Challenge 

Sian looked ruefully at the love of her life.  Wine was spilt on the precious cream carpet.  One of the curtains had pulled loose from a hook.  The fruit bowl had been scattered over the couch and make up had been ground into the wall paper.  Anyone could see it had been a heck of a party. 

"What are we going to tell the kids?"

Gerard Manly Hopkins

I am struggling with writing at the moment so I have taken this Friday's challenge from Light and Shade and made it a gym session.  I love Gerard Manly Hopkins, I feel like I am being smothered in fragrant marshmallow reading his work.  I've made my stab at the prompt trying to touch the richness of his description.  The quote is:  

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush 
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
And my take on it is:

In the dim ferny forest under the conifer stand I found the tiny curled nest with the unbelievable, child-paint-box-blue eggs solemn and still.  Untouched they lay amid the unfurling ferns and I untouching stole away.  Let the shadows hold their secret safe and soft as the birdsong echoed in the pine scented wood.  

Saturday 14 June 2014

Prove It!

I know I could have done a lot more with this prompt from Light and Shade Challenge, but I couldn't help hearing the rhythm of this, so here it is, the response to the quotation, 'Prove It'.

A warning bell rings in my ears
You do your best to soothe it
You tell me that you'd die for me
I turn and tell you, 'Prove it'.


Another prompt from Light and Shade Challenge

Picture courtesy of Thomas Marlowe

"Don't worry about a thing." Trevor smiled with deep reassurance at the nervous store owner.  "The restoration will be completely sympathetic and we will be using authentic materials and techniques throughout.  It will look just like it was first built all those centuries ago."
"I was warned about the little imp figure." Mr Oliver had only recently bought the shop and was beginning to get unnerved by some of the unexplained happenings.  "Apparently if he isn't painted red bad things happen."
"Red is the authentic colour for a figure of that type." Trevor mentally added another £100 to the eventual bill.  "And we will, of course, be using the type of paint authentic to the period.  You would not believe some of the shoddy attempts we've seen.  People think it's find to go slapping modern gloss paint over medieval plasterwork.  It's a shame really."
"I'm not really bothered about the paint type."  Mr Oliver said faintly.  "As long as it looks a bit better.  Of course as it's in a conservation area I have to be a bit careful."
Internally Trevor sighed and took £100 back off the bill.  "We are craftsmen, aren't we Ryan?  We like to live up to the skills of the old masters who painstakingly put together these amazing works of art.  We think it's important to keep the old traditions going.  It would be tragic if the old skills were lost."
"Tragic." Ryan agreed from up the ladder next to the imp.  "I mean, who puts an early twentieth century piece of chain on a medieval carved figure?  It would make you cry.  I'd say this chain was about 1932."
Trevor made a mental note to warn Ryan about overdoing it and all three followed the chain with their eyes as Ryan threw it down on the floor.  As one they froze as a wicked chuckle came from out of nowhere.  Then they all slowly looked up at the red imp.  It wasn't there.  Trevor swallowed.  "Of course I do know someone who does a very good rate in absolutely authentic carved wooden figures."

Mr Oliver sighed a little with relief.  Looking into the shop it already seemed a bit emptier.  "I think that's a splendid idea."

Saturday 7 June 2014

Slot A

I love the quote from Friday's Light and Shade Challenge, as it seems to apply to so much of life.  I have had far too many battles with things that looked blindingly obvious at first

That is one of those instructions that are so much easier to write than to carry out. 'Just pop the pill down the cat's throat' is another one.
The Housewife's Handbook, 
Rachel Simhon

"Insert Tab A into Slot B."
"Where's Slot B?"
"Is that it?"
"That's the housing for fixing G."
"How about that?"
"That's where you put in the backing, I think."
"What's this?"
"I think it's Panel D."
"What do we need Panel D for?"
"I think it's to rest Housing M on."
"I think we have too many screws."
"I think you've counted them wrong.  See, this size is Screw R and this size is Screw S."
"Why do we need different sized screws?"
"Because this was designed in Hell.  Next time we need furniture we are getting ready assembled."

Remembering Trifecta

This Monday's Light and Shade Challenge included an amazing photo from Aesop Clark who is one of the contributors.  I was thinking about how the challenge is going, how blessed the challenge is with such lovely contributors and how much I missed Trifecta, so I came up with this - 33 words from an amazing photo.

Brilliant photo by Aesop Clark

I did what I had to do to protect my family.  Then I walked into the waterfall, washing the staining blood from me.  I wish I could wash the screams away as easily.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Legally Speaking

This piece is inspired by the picture from the Light and Shade Challenge and also by a short story I read in an old copy of The Strand Magazine, vintage around the time of the Great War, I think around 1917, though I gave it a different twist.  As I am scraping in at the last minute the word count is utterly shot but I hope you will forgive me.  

Image courtesy of hisks on

"Your late wife sat in this office and sobbed when I explained that under English law that she could not get divorced until she had been married a year.  On the exact date of her first anniversary I believe she was on her way to see me when she was pushed under a train."
"I was in Liverpool at the time."
"Unless disposed of by will your late wife's extensive trust fund goes automatically to her sister, just as her pension and life insurance did.  I believe she changed the nominated heir after her first meeting with me."
"We made a will on the way to the church."

"I understand that immediately after the ceremony you were too busy having carnal relations with the chief bridesmaid to take legal advice.  Unfortunately, under English Law, a will is made null and void after a marriage.  It no longer applies.  You would have had to made the will after the wedding.  The trust fund goes to your late wife's sister.  And can I ask where I can send the invoice for this consultation?"

As a footnote, I am not legally trained but years ago I worked in a court (very minor position) and I think it is actually scary how little most people know about the small details that can make a difference.  It's okay if you are dealing with good people but there can be so many pitfalls.  It really is worthwhile keeping wills, insurances etc up to date and making sure you have a handle on what it all actually means.  Another footnote, normally I use 'British' rather than English, but Scottish law is different from the law in England and Wales.  One of those strange anachronisms that earn lawyers a fortune.  


As I have been on holiday I have been going frantic to get my responses to the challenges this morning, and my lovely seven year old son has helped by giving me a full and very detailed description of minecraft as I have been writing.  So here is my response to Light and Shade Challenge using the picture.

Image courtesy of wax115 on

Jeff polished his boot with care, just as his dad had shown him.  'Keep your head down, do your job and be reliable.'  His dad had told him.  'You've got a nice little job here, no heavy lifting, no stress.  Look after it.'

Jeff had looked after it for nearly fifty years.  He had been the first in every morning, with his boots polished and his uniform pressed.  He had always filled in on his day off for those that didn't show and who weren't looking after their jobs.  He had always come in to cover holidays and sick days.  He had worked 48 hours straight more than once, because some of the lads were not reliable and he always was. 

Hetty had never understood that he needed to be reliable for his job.  She had divorced him 1978, saying that she couldn't compete with a security guard's job.  Julie had divorced him in 1994.  Jeff had never understood that.  She had said in the dating advert that she was looking for a reliable man.  He was reliable.  His bosses had relied on him for fifty years and he had never let them down.  The kids were the same.  He had always been there for them.  When they were young he had always paid for holidays even though he didn't go with them, just in case.  He had paid for his girls' weddings and he had paid for the suits when the lads got married.  He'd helped with the girl's house deposits and he had bought the lads their first car.   He hardly saw them these days.

Jeff picked up the second boot and started laying on the polish, brushing it off.  One of the lads had turned up in trainers last week.  How were they going to manage. He knew everything about the firm, all its history, all the gossip.  He remembered the boss's grandfather doing the rounds, just like young Mr Delaney did now.  They had always been able to rely on him, and he had been able to rely on them.  It was the current boss's grandfather who had found him somewhere to sleep when Hetty threw him out.  It was the current boss's father who had put him on to the little garage where he had got the reliable first cars for his lads.  They had always been there for him and the firm were putting on a slap up dinner tonight, everything paid for. 

Jeff glanced up at the clock.  He had not been late in fifty years and he was not going to be late on his last day.  He carefully put the boot down on the newspaper on the table.  His uniform was pressed and brushed, just the same as always and he had his lunch packed ready.  Now all he had to do was not think about who he was going to be reliable for tomorrow.  

Saturday 24 May 2014

Sun Through the Door

I have finally managed to get a response for the Light and Shade Challenge.  I always used to find Trifecta a tough challenge, and it is proving just as tough at Light and Shade - and that is a good thing.  For me it is the writing equivalent of the gym.  

photo by sulaco229 at

I stay very quiet in my cool and shady safe place
I never want to step outside into a hot and dusty place
I ask for no disturbance as I hide inside my shadow place
But sun and life and warmth keep knocking at my enclosed place

Green and growing living things are creeping in the shuttered door
The sun is inching further in as it pushes against the wooden door
I hear the noise of birds that I have kept outside my painted door
But life and love and living are pushing past the broken door. 

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Washing the Cups

Here is my response to the Light and Shade Challenge based on the picture below.

Picture by Ayla87 on

"Did you see her, the one with the dress?" Angie asked as she splashed the dirty cups through the water at speed.
"Her with the dress and the handbag?" asked Betty.  She switched to a dry cloth for the next batch of cups.  They had been washing up together after the meetings for thirty four years this June and they had perfected the routine.
"No, the one with the dress and the handbag is Zoe.  She reckons that the handbag is designer and cost a fortune.  But you can't tell me that handbag is designer, I saw one just like it on the market." Angie sniffed.
"Well she said that he was doing alright and had got a bonus at Christmas.  I told her that everyone gets a bonus at Christmas but she wouldn't have it." Betty rattled the teacups into a stack and slotted them neatly into a cupboard.
"My Den said that he was doing well, but they aren't spending that much.  You should see the state of her sofa.  I'd be ashamed."
"You do like your furniture nice." Betty nodded.  "Of course, he could be spending some money on her at the corner, you know, just past Mrs Henderson.  She always has nice things."
"Her at the corner, she's the one with the dress.  She said that it was a charity shop find, but you can't fool me.  That dress cost a fortune, and her with her car in the garage."
"She spends her money on something.  There must be some money going into that house with them both working and I know they ask the lad to tip up now he's started at the call centre, but they still have that old car."
Angie nodded.  "My Jim said that it was a scandal that car, they've had it for four years now.  But I saw her in the supermarket and she had a bottle of wine in her basket." 
Betty nodded knowingly as she switched drying cloths again.  "Mind you, I heard that her aunt was the same, you know, the one who married the plumber and moved to Brighton."
"Is it her aunt that married the plumber?  Well that explains it."  There was a pause as Angie changed the washing up water.
"I see Mary's got new curtains." Betty rattled some more cups into the cupboard. "I would have thought she would have done something with her kitchen first.  I don't know how she cooks."
"Mary told me that she got them second hand.  You can't tell me that they are second hand, not with those seams.  And as for cooking, she buys frozen veg.  I pity her husband."
"Of course he makes up for it with the darts team.  They were out again last night.  Ted from two doors down came in at midnight."
"By the way, what was the talk today?" Angie rinsed out the washing up bowl.

"The dangers of gossip." Betty gathered her cloths for the wash.  "See you next week."

I have never, ever known a function where the washing up wasn't a chance for a full exchange of views.  I did 'hear' it in the local accent, but I am confident that the sentiments expressed are universal.  

Saturday 17 May 2014

The Faerie Wall

Here is another response to the Light and Shade Challenge.  The Queen Anne's Lace in the picture always makes me think of faeries.

Keep away from the wall, my child,
It keeps us from the faeries wild.
It keeps us from their faerie fear.
Keep away, my child, come here.

They blight the cows and cost us money
They steal the bees and take the honey
They spoil the butter in the churn
They cause the cakes and bread to burn

They steal our children, blight our wheat,
Ruin pigs and taint the meat.
Keep away from the wall, my dear,
Keep away, my child, come here.  

I have a very old fashioned view of faeries.   My grandmother was incredibly superstitious and, for example, would get genuinely very upset if she caught me putting my left shoe on first or stirring cake mixture the 'wrong' way.  This is very much her view of Faery, which was old fashioned even for her generation, but lots of fun as a story from a safe distance.   

Thursday 15 May 2014

The Castle

Another prompt from the Light and Shade Challenge and this time I was really stuck.  It is really good, though, to move out of the comfort zone, so I have gone for it.  

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

There is a castle on the hill
A king sat there in days of old
His knights were brave, his ladies fair
A pinnacle of brave and bold

Minstrels there were, and jesters sharp
Ministers with wisdom deep
Priests and monks in cloistered nooks
All knowledge gathered in his keep

There was a knight, a lady fair
A false man and a desperate fight
A riven kingdom, empty hope
A funeral byre and fading light

The story's old and patched with songs
On threads that wore out long ago
Who knows the truth of treasure there
Before the final overthrow

Young lads go there to try their hand
Digging the vaults and dusty hall
The tombs are empty, nothing's there
A bird's nest in a broken wall.

Some nights, when Venus sails the sky
And Mars is courting near the moon
They say that ghostly dancers whirl
To echoes of an ancient tune

Splendour and crowns have tumbled down
The painted walls have faded pale
And while we bustle round our lives
Dust slowly settles on the tale. 

I admit it, I used a rhyming dictionary, but I did have fun.  Thank you for reading.  

Saturday 10 May 2014


Here is my 100 word take on Friday's Light and Shade Challenge prompt.  It was great fun, but I really, really regret setting 100 word challenges.

"Is that the post?" Estelle called.  "I thought it had already been."
Phil shrugged and picked up the envelope.  "It's from the solicitors."
Estelle jumped up.  Her rich, spiteful uncle had promised he would leave Estelle £1000 in his will.  She had been waiting for months. 
'Your legacy valued at £1000 is with this letter, according to the exact instructions of our late client.' The letter read.  Estelle turned the page over and over.  There was nothing. 
"He always was a skinflint." She said bitterly.

Unheeded in the wastepaper bin the perfect Penny Black sat smugly on the envelope.

Monday 5 May 2014

Child in a Sweet Shop

Here is my take on the third Light and Shade Challenge.  I went at a happy tangent with the picture and I had so much fun.  Here is the picture that sparked the idea.  

Picture by ciscopa on

He looked carefully at his outfit.  He had to get the look exactly right, it could make all the difference between success and failure.  There was an all night screening of the Twilight films and he could not miss this opportunity.
 He was naturally pale but his blond hair was a problem.  The old fashioned top hat that he had picked up on the internet should cover it and give the right feel.  He had considered a cane but he hoped there would be times in the evening when he wanted both hands free.  There were likely to be a lot of young ladies at the screening.
The suit had been a problem.  He had found one eventually in a second hand shop.  The black suit jacket had velvet lapels and the waistcoat was nicely cut.  He had been meticulous to get rid of any faint trace of the iridescent dusting powder.  With the slightly flared trousers it said very clearly that this was a man who had not quite got the decade right. 
He had wondered about the shirt.  He may have wanted to look as if he couldn't keep up with fashion after all this time, but there was no way he was wearing 1970s drip dry polyester with a frill.  He had settled for a deep crimson silk shirt.  It was brand new, but silk was an old fashioned material and he could always say that he had ripped his favourite brushed nylon shirt in a fight with a werewolf.  With well polished shoes and a heavy, plain signet ring he should look the part.
He checked he had his ticket and plenty of cash.  He didn't want to break the look with a credit card and if he got lucky with a persuadable lady he didn't want to give too much information about himself, just in case.  The taxi outside sounded the horn.  
"Going to the screening?  You look just like a vampire, mate.  It makes a better night if you put a bit of effort in to look the part." The taxi driver sighed.  "I used to have a suit like that forty years ago.  Of course, I was a lot thinner then.  Well, you won't be lonely tonight, I bet you've got a hotel room booked."
He smiled enigmatically and gave the driver a generous tip.  Looking at the crowd there were others who had aimed for his intended look but he prided himself that he had hit closest to the mark.  He was already getting interested glances and he thought it would not take much to entice the pretty brunette near the popcorn stand to a secluded corner to 'talk'.

Carefully keeping his expression immobile, inside he was laughing wildly.  He may be seven hundred and thirty two years old and a vampire but looking at all those pliable, gullible necks made him feel like a child in a sweet shop.  

I've never really got into the Twilight series, but I can't help feel that vampires are not very nice.  This is my take on a baddie.

Saturday 3 May 2014

White Lies

Here is my response to the Light and Shade Challenge of 2nd May 2014.  It is a bit embarrassing that it comes so long after the responses from people who didn't actually help to set the challenge.  I took the inspiration from the quote:

'She tells enough white lies to ice a wedding cake'.  Margot Asquith

"Honestly, you look lovely in that, Claudia.  It really suits you, the colour is ideal.  You will look fine.  And the neckline is perfect, not too low."
Claudia looked doubtful.  "I don't want to show too much..."
"You will be fine!" Jenny smiled frantically and avoided the sympathetic glances of the bridal shop assistants.
"There's not too much beading?" Claudia smoothed down the expensive silk.

"It's perfect.  You will be stunning, honest." As her mother-in-law-to-be headed back to the changing rooms Jenny checked her watch.  She had twenty minutes left to choose her wedding dress.  

If you enjoy writing challenges please jump in and join us at Light and Shade Challenge.  We love to see people posting!  

Monday 28 April 2014


My first attempt at a prompt from Light and Shade Challenge.  I took the prompt from the quote, 'A dream can poison sleep,' from Mutability by Percy Blyshe Shelly.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  

Cassie tried to get back to sleep.  The dream was haunting her again.  She focused on her breathing.  She mustn't wake Jim next to her.  She mentally snuggled back in to the dream.
"Cassie, are you awake?"
Cassie rolled over to see her husband.  "Go back to sleep, Jim." She said softly.
"It's that dream again, isn't it?  I can always tell."
Cassie stretched to see the bedside clock.  It said 2.17am.  "It's late Jim, go back to sleep.  You have a heavy day in front of you."
"So do you." Jim sat up and rubbed a hand over his weary face.  "Listen, I know you have trouble getting back to sleep after that dream.  Why don't we go down into the kitchen for some hot milk."
Cassie trailed after him.  The kitchen was cold and hard after the soft bed.  "You don't need to do this, Jim.  Honestly, I'll be fine."
Jim put two mugs of milk in the microwave.  "Should I add a little nutmeg?"
Cassie shook her head.  "I still don't like nutmeg." She smiled.  "But thank you anyway."
"This dream, it's almost every night." Jim was watching the microwave but suddenly turned around to look hard at Cassie, standing dreamy eyed.  "We should go to the doctor.  I could come in with you and help you explain.  I know you have trouble talking to doctors."
Cassie shook her head firmly.  If she took sleeping pills she could lose her dream.  "Why don't I stay down here?  I can read for a bit and get ready for sleep.  You can rest in bed."
"You know I can't sleep if you aren't next to me." The microwave pinged and Jim pulled out the hot milk, giving it a quick stir.  "Are you sure that you won't have some nutmeg?  I'll add some anyway."
"If you add it I won't drink it."  Cassie wondered why it was so hard to have milk without nutmeg.
"It would just be better for you." Jim grumbled.  The nutmeg hovered over the milk for a moment, then he took it away.  "I could go with you to a dream analyst.  Some of them are really good.  I know a few people who have used them."
"I don't think so." Cassie said, sipping her milk. 
"We can drink the milk together in bed." Jim suggested.  He led the way back to the bedroom.  As they slid into the cooling sheets he frowned. "We have to get this dream sorted out.  I can't keep waking like this."

Cassie lay still beside him, listening to his breathing almost instantly slip into the slow, regular sighs of sleep.  Jim could never stay awake for more than a minute.  Then she stared into the dark and slid back to her dream.  She was walking again in the golden sunlight with blossom in the trees and the birds singing.  She lay down on the soft, warm river bank and listened to the river chuckling.  And she was all alone.   

Monday 10 February 2014

On the Rocks

I've taken on the challenge from Trifecta to write 33 words about love gone wrong but without using love, sad, tears, wept, heart or pain.  Here is my take...

I'm trying to explain to the kids why mummy left, why there is no money and why she left a pile of whisky bottles behind her.  We are abandoned for her next drink.

Image from

Wednesday 5 February 2014

The Bells of St Brigit

This is a surprise prompt from Write on Edge, a challenge for a piece no more than 108 words and starting with the phrase, 'The bells of St Brigit are calling tonight.'

The bells of St. Brigit's are calling tonight,
The moonlight is sparkling over the sea,
The stars are shedding their magical light,
And my lover's dead soul is calling to me.

The roses are breathing their passion filled scent,
The soft waves are hissing onto the sand,
The bells chimes are ringing an empty lament,
My lover's drowned hand slips cold into mine.

Down the stone staircase and out to the sand,
Across the storm wreckage to the now quiet sea,
My lover steps slowly away from the land,
A final farewell as he's lost to me.    

I wasn't intending to try this, it seemed a bit hard for me, but it has been a good distraction at a tough time.  I can't remember for the life of me how to punctuate poetry, so I've just done my best.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Elves Delay Highway Construction

The link is here.

A very kind friend sent me the link.  A construction project in Iceland is being delayed because the local population fear that the road would cut through the local elf population.  People are standing in front of the machinery and it's gone to Iceland's Supreme Court.

I am comforted that the elves go to church, as apparently there is a concern that an elf church will be affected by the development.  The link is here.

I feel like my fiction is being left behind by the real world.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Breathing In

This is a response to the Trifecta Challenge of 27 January 2014.  The challenge is to write 33 words on the subject of this picture.

Thomas Leuthard / / CC BY

The easy, expansive space of the coffee shop after the dark confines of the parlour.  The bright, wide, window after the heavy, tasselled drapes.  The delicious chance for the mind to freely breathe.

This is definitely the hardest challenge I have tried so far.   

Monday 20 January 2014

The Craft Kit

This is a prompt from the Trifecta Challenge, to write between 33 and 333 words on the third definition of the word 'Quaint'.  

The Craft Kit

Finally, the new kit's here
I've waited for the post all day.         
The door is shut, the table's clear
The furniture is pushed away!

Okay, I put the screw in here
And tighten up the bracket there
And slot the tab into the rear
And push it in, hard as I dare.

I sand it here, and rub it there,
I add the paint and wax and buff,
The fumes are stuffing up the air,
I wonder if I've buffed enough.

The picture's blurred, is this quite right?
I'm sure I got the stencil straight.
Is this quite the shade of white?
And will it really hold the weight?

Oh no!  No visitors today!
I shove the thing across the floor,
Push a chair to bar the way,
And rush towards the knocking door.

The mother of my husband's here.
She doesn't like the kitchen blind
She doesn't like the new veneer
She doesn't like the box I've lined.

She checks how full my cupboards are,
And is my laundry all inside,
She lifts the cushions, now ajar,
And spots the kit I've tried to hide.

She picks it up and turns it round
And touches the still-drying lace
An opportunity she's found
To put me firmly in my place.

She sneers with praise that's damning faint
"A painted footstool, oh how quaint!" 

Monday 13 January 2014

Online Test

I am quite sceptical about online tests.  When I suspected that son was colour blind I first tested him on the computer, but then I went to the opticians and had a proper test done by someone qualified.  It's around thirty years since I bothered with those 'Are You Compatible' type tests where  you score yourself on how many a's, b's or c's you got.  Today, however, I glanced at a test shown in the Daily Mail here about a test for Alzheimer's.

It is supposed to be a test to see if any symptoms are progressing.  You have five questions and they seem fairly straightforward.  I was okay with most of them though I did initially think that the picture of a pretzel was a reef knot, but one has baffled me.

'How are a hammer and a corkscrew similar?  Write down how they are alike.'

I am baffled.  A hammer bangs nails into wood.  A corkscrew pulls corks out of bottles.  It's like one of those essay questions I was hit with at A level, writing five thousand words about a fourteen line sonnet.  It's a challenge.

Okay, a hammer bangs nails into wood and a corkscrew doesn't.  Hmm.  But a claw hammer can pull nails out of wood if they haven't been knocked in too far.  Perhaps that is a clue - if you don't have a lump hammer or a toffee hammer or a mallet but instead are holding a claw hammer then perhaps you can pull things out with both a hammer and a corkscrew.  Of course, if you hit the bottle with a hammer then you would be able to get the wine out.  It may just sort of splash everywhere, but the wine would be out of the bottle.  So both could be used to get wine out of a bottle and I think there is something where you push the cork into a bottle and get the wine out that way and a hammer may be useful there.

Going back thirty years to my student days, let's take it a bit further.  A hammer and a corkscrew are both tools, but then so is a screwdriver.  I would have thought a corkscrew and a screwdriver would have more in common, but then I am not expert in testing for Alzheimer's.  They are both made of metal, unless you count some of the rubber hammers and mallets out there.  That's something they have in common.  One is found in a tool box and one is found in the cutlery drawer, at least in my house.  I am not a wine drinker and the stuff I do drink usually has a screw cap.

I think I will go with both a hammer and a corkscrew are useful to a person who is building a bookcase and then wants to relax with a glass of wine.  And I'm hoping this is not the start of the slippery slope.

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