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.