Monday, 11 June 2018

The story behind the advert

One of our writing prompts last week at writing group was to write the fictional story behind a real life advert spotted in the local supermarket. My story made everyone giggle and I hope it makes you smile too…

Nearly new car tyre - £35

The car was a write off, all that was left intact was the pink furry dice and one nearly new front tyre.

Well I’m keeping the dice – obviously – they were a gift from my Nan when I passed my test. She was so proud of me for passing on the fourteenth attempt, said it showed really determination.

She’s finally given up her own dreams of driving after failing at the unlucky thirteenth time. If God had wanted me to go faster he’s have given me wheels instead of legs she always said. She was seventy-two at the time and with her failing eyesight and dodgy hip it was probably for the best Dad said, although he said it a bit sharper than that!

My car itself was never exactly what you would call a luxury model but it was mine. A black Corsa with a distinctive green drivers’ door. I suppose you could say that I am a little accident prone really as the original matching door was knocked off in a car park.

I had to open the door to see out of my blind spot so it’s not that I’m a careless driver who doesn’t look or anything stupid like that.

The car was full of balloons for my Nan’s surprise seventy-fifth birthday and I’d lost my wing mirror the week before so I had to reverse with my head hanging out of the door to see where I was going. I quickly moved my head back in when I saw the pillar but forgot to close the door and it was sort of ripped off.

Attack of the multi storey car park pillar, they should make a film says my friend Shazz, who was with me at the time laughing her head off and recording my reactions for Facebook.

They are lethal those things, I reply and all over the place!

They are kinda necessary to hold the roof up or it wouldn’t be a multi storey – duh!

Oh she’s a bright one, I’d really never thought of that before.

Shazz also has a brother who works at a scrap yard so it was him that fixed up my green door. He found it dead funny and went around singing this old rock and roll song every time he saw me.

Even more annoyingly he kept asking me out, but I have my standards and he has dirty finger nails. Must be from his job I suppose so I might forgive him that but he also has a missing front tooth from a fight.

Otherwise he has a heart of gold and it was him that suggested I sell the tyre to make a bit of money and I need it because who knew you have to pay to have a car scrapped?

Ridiculous state of affairs if you ask me.

But I thank my lucky dice that I escaped from the accident relatively unscathed, just a chipped nail. Mandy at the nail bar fixed it for me good as new for free, she could see I was distraught and in shock so she added three spoons of sugar to my tea for good measure.

Friday, 25 May 2018

The Shadow Child

How many stories begin with the words, last night I had a dream?

Recently I’ve been having dreams that are so real I wake already tired as I start the day.  But most fade into a distant haze as I get up. A vague memory you can’t quite grasp.

Last night I had a dream that has made me want to write it down, an all too rare occurrence these days, a desire to write strong enough to get me out of bed at 5 a.m. to find my laptop.

I was driving, along a road I know reasonably well and it was getting dark.

Suddenly I was aware of shadows in front of me, flitting silently in the dusk.

Kids on bikes, out too late with no lights on, I slowed down as they wove a dangerous path. I stopped as I reached a junction, a bus swung round the corner. Most bikes sped on their way but the driver of the bus hadn’t seen them all in the dark, he clipped the final one, the bike ended on its side, a child tumbled to the ground in front of me.

Our eyes met, although he was a shadow child with no whites to his eyes. He picked up a helmet that I have no memory of him wearing before, he placed it on his head and there were no straps to secure it. He was aware he needed it, remembered some warning he was told long ago but he arose unscathed and rode off to join his friends as if nothing had happened.

There are lights at that junction and they must have turned green because it was my turn to go. The bus had disappeared ahead of me but I soon caught up to the bikes again, weaving as carelessly as before, accident forgotten.

I slowed but the car behind me wasn’t so patient, he never caused an accident but I was aware how dangerously close he followed. I was almost as if he’d not seen me.

Did the shadow child turn round and glare?

The dream shifted gear, I woke up and maybe I would have turned over and gone back to sleep, 4:44 is far too early! But inevitably I needed a wee.

As I climbed back into bed and pulled the covers around me it struck me what was really bothering me about the dream.

There were no lights, I’m guessing there was moonlight or something to create the shadows, but there was no red or green glow from the traffic lights, no glare of headlights from the other vehicles on the road.

The car behind me failed to see me in the dark, in the same way I struggled to see the shadows in front of me.

I was driving a dangerous path with no lights on. And I was not the only one.

Was this really just a dream?

Or a warning from the shadow child?

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Table Manners

It was the word “madam” that particularly irked her.

“It is with regret, madam, that we are unable to allow you and your companion into our restaurant for lunch today.”

“But we’ve booked and you hardly seem busy.”

She stretched up tall to see over the man’s crisp shoulder and could see plenty of empty tables. The maitre’d looked back at her sternly. Unquestioning, unmoveable.

Actually it he didn’t look at her - madam - his eyes shifted sideways to glance at her companion from the ruffled hair with its kitchen scissors cut to the down at heel scuffed lace up boots poking out from the unruly hem of the long velvet gown.

Otis had a style all of her own, out of time and out of place.

The maitre’d implied it wasn’t a style appreciated in such an establishment as this.

Melanie’s own style was of course impeccable, coiffured hair, cashmere pashmina, skirt fashionably just above the knee and freshly polished court shoes.

Otis nibbled the side of her thumb nail, a nervous habit. She pulled a bit of skin off between her teeth and spat it with precision at the maitre’d.

It landed on the lapel of his jacket. A slice of moonlight on the darkest night.

He flicked it off with a manicured fingernail.

“Please, madam, it would be advisable for you and your companion to leave, without fuss.”  He added.

Melanie wanted to stand her ground in her sturdy, sensible shoes, speak up for the little people, the persecuted, the unloved and unlovable.

The pashmina of convention was beginning to strangle her and she felt the heat rise up from her chest and cause her face to flush.

They had a reservation!

Melanie became more indignant and flustered almost missing the swift movement beside her as Otis reached under her skirts to pull out a sharp dagger from her boot.

It was like no dagger ever seen on earth before; it was translucent and shone brightly like the moon.

Otis plunged it into the man’s heart, removed it with the same dispassionate ease, wiped the blade on her skirt and replaced it safe in its hiding place.

The maitre’d stood for a second, and then tilted his head to one side, quizzically.

After what seemed like an age he slumped to the ground, eyes staring up at them. Melanie couldn’t bear to look and so unwound her restrictive scarf and threw it over his prone body.

“We’d better get out of here,” she said looking around furtively. “We can’t go in now.”

It was Otis’s turn to look puzzled, “but there are tables free and we have a reservation.”

There was logic to her statement and she defiantly stepped over the hurdle she had just obliterated.

Melanie took a last look down, it seemed as though a scarlet rose was blooming on the discarded pashmina. Something new had been born.

Lifting her head, all fears and propriety swept aside, she entered the restaurant to eat.

A story inspired by this song

Thursday, 25 January 2018

A January Garden

Squirrels scamper
 bare branches
   Pheasants frolic
       silent snowdrops
Hedgehogs hibernate
 layered leaves
Chaffinches chatter
sombre skies
Buds begin
             awakened adventures
Hope holds             

Monday, 15 January 2018

Write yourself happy!

Today is Blue Monday - apparently the most depressing day of the year.

This year it is compounded by the fast approaching BIG birthday I have next month.

I have always known that writing has a positive affect on my mood so with that in mind I turned my attention to writing a poem, inspired by something completely off the wall a friend said over coffee earlier today.

I hope it brightens your day...

My Granny’s Cat

My granny has a cat
It lives under the stairs
At least that’s what she tells me
But I’ve never seen it there.

She says it’s cute and cuddly
A little ball of fluff
But when I peer into the cupboard
It’s just filled with other stuff.

A wind up torch, a clothes brush
An odd shoe, a cricket bat
No evidence that I can see
To suggest she has a cat.

I think my granny’s got it wrong
I think she’s telling lies
Which is naughty, but I let her off
She’s quite old, she’s 55.

I think she’s just forgetful
And living in the past
When dinosaurs walked down the street
And time didn’t fly so fast.

She says a lot of funny things
And so do mum and dad
It’s crazy being in a family
Where everyone’s quite mad.

My granny says she has a cat
It lives under the stairs
It hides behind the hoover
And comes out when I’m not there.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Time to Remember All Souls

It was a privilege to host the 10:45 All Souls service at Emmanuel Church today as we especially remembered those we have personally lost in the past year.

Next week we will “remember” in a much broader context and that’s right and proper but this service in some ways validates our own grief.

And I do mean “our grief” for those who don’t know my own story this is what I shared today…

To be honest this year has been a year of funerals; I lost my nana and my mother-in-law within the space of a month. A good friend of mine recently lost her husband suddenly; we’ve lost friends from church including this week one our dear retired clergy.

I can honestly say I didn’t cry at any of the funerals I’ve been to this year, I don’t think I am hard hearted but nothing can every compare with what happened seven years ago this month when I lost my husband, suddenly and completely out of the blue.

To say my world was totally turned upside down is frankly a whopping great understatement. Andrew was only 48 when he died, I was 42 and our boys were 13 and 10.

In some ways it is easier in the beginning, there is so much to do and people are kind. My church family has always been a real support to me.

But there comes a time when even if other people don’t say it to you out loud you might think “when will this grief be over?”

Although actually I still feel quite numb, as I said I rarely cry at funerals and maybe that’s a symptom of taking anti-depressants. I’ve tried to reduce them but each time I do I get so far and then have a massive wobble which isn’t pretty, especially for my close friends who feel the brunt of it.

I used to think grief was more or less a finite thing with a beginning, death, and an end, getting over it and moving on to the next stage of life, whatever that may be.
I’ve actually not moved much in seven years.

My boys have grown up, into handsome young men, and their lives have progressed, new friends have come into my life and some have already moved on in that time. Old friends have moved back into my life. Everything is changing for everyone else and I so often feel stuck in a rut.

I have questioned God - what is this all about? Why did this have to happen? Isn’t God supposed to bring good things out of bad for those who trust him? It says that in the Bible so it MUST be true.

So what’s the plan? God doesn’t always answer clearly; he doesn’t email you a personal blueprint. If he has mine’s got lost in cyberspace.

There are lots of well-meaning but sometimes glib answers out there from Christians and non-Christians alike. Time doesn’t necessarily “heal” but it does help put things into perspective.

The biggest thing I have learned over these past seven years is not to rush my grief. I’ve learned to go with the flow and I was always such a planner before. When I look back objectively with my sensible head on I can see so much that God has worked out in my life.

He has been a constant guide and comforter to me, when I remember to talk to him and when I actually listen to him. In the same way I have been a constant guide and comforter for my two boys when they talk and listen to me.

The bottom line is my faith is a relationship not just blindly following a set of rules.

I don’t really want my boys to grow up too quickly and I know when they do leave home (the youngest will be heading to university next autumn), hopefully I will have given them the skills they need to fend for themselves in the big wide world.

Then I can properly start my own new chapter.

But these seven years haven’t been wasted and my future will be built on the foundations of my life so far, being a wife, a mother, a widow, a friend and someone with just a bit more patience, wisdom and understanding than I ever had before.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ripples in Rockpools

Ripples in Rockpools,
speckles on sand.
“A wet day at the seaside
still can be grand!”
With hot sugared doughnuts
warming our hands.

Finding shelter
from raindrops,
“Please let this rain stop!”
Squelching on seaweed
and listening to it “POP!”

Digging for treasure,
a red plastic spade.
Soaked to the skin
in the breakers we played.
“Time to go home.”
I wish we could have stayed…