Monday, July 24

Eileen is Missing....Sunday's Short Stories



I love the Bold Street Writers group that I go to here in Warrington. We are a mixed lot of women writing out of life experiences, writing out of imagination….just writing because we have to!
Eileen is one of the oldest who write each week. But never let it be said that she writes anything boring…ah no. Her wonderful stories could have your toes curling one moment and your sides splitting with laughter another!
So when it was Eileen’s prompt on Thursday and she wasn’t there…we worried.
 So we took as our new prompt…”Eileen is missing”!

Eileen is missing. People are worried. Eileen is always there prompt at ten, ordering her coffee, chatting about her week,
No, Eileen is always here.
As sure as eggs are eggs we could set our watches on her appearance. Always know if we had the right day, the right place, prepared the right prompt. For if Eileen said she would be there, she was…and Eileen is missing.
Every week we look forward to hearing some gritty news that no one else has heard, because Eileen doesn’t waste a minute of her life moping around. No, she is out and about with a cheery hello to her neighbours. Out and about at her coffee and tea gatherings with old friends from her professional life. Meeting up at bus stations and train stations and catching transport to theatres and concert halls and taking in the history of some local grand house. And then passing on her nuggets of golden information to us all. And making us think that we needed to be there, go there, hear that, see that. Instead of moping around and moaning about. Well you know how it is!!!
So that’s how it is now. Eileen is missing and unless I’m very much mistaken or missing the point…someone is keeping something back from us all. And I at least intend to find out what, winkle the information from them, ply them with flattery and even seccumb to a bribe or a spot of alcohol as it’s so important to find out why Eileen is missing.
There’s a space in this that only Eileen can fill. That’s not to say she’s a big woman, no, not big in size.  But yes big.  Big in heart, big in enthusiasm, big in ideas. Yes now I come to think of it, Eileen is a big woman. Someone like Eileen can fill a room, let alone a chair. So when Eileen is missing the empty space is vast. The room may be full yet it seems strangely empty.
My, my!… I’m getting rather metaphysical here!
 But no, it’s a fact and anyone who knows her knows it’s a fact. No getting away from it. I’m putting it down here on the page and it gets plainer with every mark.
 Eileen is missing and so we are missing out.
But hang on, wait a minute, there must be someone who knows why Eileen is missing. Someone always knows. In my experience of life, though I acknowledge that’s not vast, not international, not particularly academic, yes in my experience there is always someone who knows. And very often the knowing person and their knowingness is right under your nose. Not like a bad smell under your nose. No ? I wouldn’t say that. More like a feather tickling or a bit of fluff that won’t go away until you sneeze and your eyes water and you reach for a tissue.
But I digress.
 Yes someone always knows something. Well just think of all the media stories appearing at the moment.  Someone knew.  Knew about the pay packets of those nice men on the radio, on the TV news, on the BBC. And what about those coloured roads that are due to appear locally, all over the banks of the Mersey…someone knew. Yes but did someone else have to winkle out the information and post it up for us to see….even if it was all a bit too late for us to do anything?
As for Eileen, she is still missing. Though I’ve heard that the electrician knows where she is….

But he’s not telling.

Thursday, July 20

Sunday Stories..."Eight"

I call these "Sunday Stories"...but those who read them will know that they are prompted on Thursdays and often written whenever I can squeeze them into the day!

This one is from one of my prompts.
The Number Eight.

I googled this and was amazed at just how much information there was about "eight"...worldwide...I knew about the Chinese importance...but not any of the others. The stories the others wrote were just amazing...I love this group!!

So here goes.....

Eight

    Flossie was in her usual seat next to Millie on the tables in the back row of the old cinema, now used for the town's bingo sessions.
    Her legs were hurting again. They had been getting steadily worse all that summer and now they were so swollen she could hardly wiggle her feet. Puddings she thought and sighed, sponge puddings, and she carefully pulled her tights over them.
    That morning her normal bus had been jammed as it sailed past her, and the driver deliberately not looking her way as she tried to flag him down. There was nothing for it but for her to take to the road into town, and walk the mile and a half as quickly as possible.
    She was thinking, "If I had a bit more money, I'd take a taxi", but her pension just about stretched the week as it was. A taxi might mean that she would have to draw some out of the Post Office Account and doing that was enough to make her very fearful. A lifetime of staying out of debt was like an iron rod firmly holding her backbone in place.
     Millie, her bingo companion, was an old school friend. They knew one another's ways and habits and fitted together like a hand in a glove. But Millie had something that Flossie had never had... luck in bucketfuls! Whether at school, in work, in marriage...yes even at the bingo...Millie's luck regularly turned up trumps. Flossie mulled this thought over as she made her way into town hoping against hope that the dark clouds she noticed gathering in the west, didn't drop their load of rain on her before she reached the cinema.
    Have you  noticed how one thought can lead to another? Like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower looking for the one with the most sweetness? It may lead to a positive thought or could take you down some dark path of sadness and despair. Though never one to dwell on the past, yet that day she found herself remembering the loss of a baby, the shortage of money and Fred dying so young leaving her  alone with no family and a life of scrimping. But she was nearly there at the bingo hall and the rain had held off...so...reasons to be happy!
    There in the front of the queue, yohoing her over, was Millie. "I've kept your place.What happened? What a nuisance!...Just ignore the looks of  those women." said good friend Millie.
    Today was to be the big win. Once a month a special was held with a thousand pound win and today was that day. However the most that Flossie had ever won was a fiver and maybe once ten quid. Millie's luck on the other hand was a different kettle of fish. She often walked out with a couple of hundred. Not that she was mean...no, on those occasions she treated them both to a slap up lunch somewhere in the town for as she said she probably wouldn't have started going to the bingo if Flossie hadn't invited her along. That had been after Fred's death, when she had  tried every day to be away from the memories of their life together and find something to fill the hurt and emptiness inside.
    Eight games played . Those were the rules on a Tuesday morning at  the bingo hall. Four games, a break for tea, coffee and a biscuit and finish up with another four. Then "See you next week," and everyone made their way out and home.
    Kevin, the master of the balls, shouted for quiet. A roomful of women and men chattering and gossiping meant that he had to call more than once. But once the numbers were rolling out, the proverbial pin sounded like a gong.!! All ears alert, all eyes down and a shout of victory somewhere in the room. The games progressed, and one by one the shouts went up. Millie won fifty quid with her final seven on a card and smiled, "That's lunch for you and me today chuck",
    Tea and coffee over, crumbs swept on to the floor, the caller began again. Silent players praying for success. Bills to pay, holidays to plan, family to help. Who knows what hopes and dreams were depending on success that morning in the old cinema. Game seven came and went and still Flossie sat, dobber in hand unsuccessful again. How many tenners had she paid out over the years? "I'm giving it up, not coming again, the whole thing is a waste of money and I'm stupid!"
    Game eight and the people in their seats were restless. This was the big one. She looked at her card. Her eyes blurred from unfallen tears. Concentrate you fool she said to herself. Dob, dob, dob. She had one square left. Then someone shouted , "Full House!".....Flossie sighed and was about to tear up the card when the person realised they had made a mistake.
    Then Kevin called out, " Lucky Chinese...number eight."    In a dream she shouted, "I've got it!" And turning to Millie said...."The lunch is on me I think", as tears rolled down her face.

 
 


Tuesday, July 11

Sunday's Short Story...Dan's Breakfast


Out he marched.
Out of the stuffy house and
Away out into his garden.
Off he went with his belly full.
Off with a lightness of step.
It was a good feeling to take into the new day.
Now Dan was no spring chicken.
Well to tell the truth, he was closer to ninety than eighty.
But a wee bit of a creak in the joints would surely only be improved with a jaunt out into the fresh air. 
Out into his beloved veggie patch.
And there he would stand, arms crossed over his chest and lovingly survey his domain 
with the pride of a king,
 an emperor, 
a ruler of nations.
O.k....that might be a bit over the top that last thought.
But nevertheless his pride in his garden abounded.

Mags, in the home, was a great cook.
There were no two ways about it.
She could take a few wee ingredients, throw them in a pot, add a spot of water and a smidgen of a stock cube and produce a soup to knock your socks off!
And when it came to breakfasts, well there was noone, not man nor beast could beat her breakfasts.
So on this morning she had truly excelled herself.... and Dan's expectations... and had presented him with the breakfast to beat all breakfasts.
Here's a taste of what lay glistening on his plate.
Two slices of best back bacon, crisped on the edges where a spot of fat lingered smelling of heaven.
Two fried eggs winking at him from eggy paradise with whites firm and yolks soft and runny enough to dip a toasty soldier in and bring it up to his mouth with the delicious chance that a golden drop might roll gently down his chin ...to be savoured at a later time.
A plump red tomato, halved and left sizzling in the pan 'til the edges browned with the crustiness left in the bottom of the frying pan from the cooked bacon.
And succulent sliced mushrooms sauted in butter and placed gleaming on the side of the plate.
But....creme de la creme, there on his plate a fat slice of his favourite black pudding, peppery and salted.
That was surely to replace the iron in his system.....just call me "Ironman", he thought.
So with a belly content with a full Irish breakfast and a pot of strong tea heavily laced with a spoonful...make that two or three spoonfuls...of sugar....

Out he marched.
Out into the sharpness of the January air.
Frost had left the grass with a grey green hue.
It reminded him of the colour of the classroom walls in the old school where he had been caretaker for fifty years.
It made him stop and consider how lucky he had been in life.
Well ...except for the times the school toilets had blocked, or that time the lab had been set on fire by the mad scientist of a teacher or....
Ah, that's what he would do this fine morning.
He would take all the dead wood and the autumn gatherings of dried bean stalks, dead asparagus grass and the sweetcorn stooks and have a fire.
A really big, glorious, joyous bonfire.
He would take two of the old wooden garden chairs and set them together upwind away from the smoke.
He would pop back down to the kitchen and bring Mags up and together they would sit and watch the sparks make their way up into the grey January sky.
He gathered the thinnings of autumn.. 
Stuffed paper into the empty spaces, laid the wood in a pattern as he had learnt as a boy from his dad, and who had in turn learnt from his dad.
So history progresses.
So skills are passed on.
So he took his lighter, the redundant lighter since he had given up smoking, and lit the paper.
Watched with anticipation as the dried vegetation caught fire and listened as it talked to him of times gone by, as it crackled and popped .

Mags looked out of
the kitchen window and sighed.
Another bloody bonfire!
So no washing hanging on the line again today!


Monday, March 20

a Poem for Thursday....Preston Patrick in March



Preston Patrick in March




Preston Patrick in March.

 If you don’t hurt crows
They won’t hurt you
My father said

And I believed him.

Chorus :-
While water drips
In a blue plastic drum
Water runs from
A pipe in the yard
Water brown bubbling
And smelling strong.

In the ring of trees
Black branched
Against a pearly sky
Crows weave nests.

Chorus:-

Ghost trees hover high
On early green hills
And mist and low cloud
Merge in distant perspectives.

Chorus:-

There sits a flatbed trailer
Unmoved by their caws
And rusty supports form
As iron oxidises.

Chorus:-




The inspiration for the first stanza came out of a poem by Vicki Feaver in her  book,
 “The Handless Maiden”…Cape Poetry

Wasps
“If you don’t hurt wasps
They won’t hurt you
My father told me.


But I didn’t believe him,”


Sunday, March 19

A Poem for Thursday....Armagh Tellings


It was such a great pleasure to be part of International Women's Day this year as I spent it in Northern Ireland...and joined some other writers at Bangor Library to read our writings.

The day was organised by Jane Talbot @http://janetalbotwriter.com  and the readings at Bangor were lead by Liz Weir.....@.http://www.lizweir.org

Then being encouraged by several friends to "get my work out there"...I offered a couple of poems for Josephine Corcoran's blogpost...."And other Poems"

What joy to get a lovely message from her that she had chosen this one about the old family farm in Armagh. 
Thankyou to all who allowed me to share some words.


‘Armagh Tellings’ by Geraldine Snape


Armagh Tellings
I remember hearing about
Newtownhamilton and granny.
I was told about how the
hens scuttled around where
Summer’s swifts filled the farmyard.
Told about the road to market taken
By the broad carthorse that
turned the wheel that
churned the butter..
That was the pride of Armagh….and
Dad wearing a top hat and
Him perched proudly on the cart.
And I remember
Drumlins everywhere you looked.
And the roads flying by..Killyfaddy,
Tassagh, and Dundrum.
And there’s the wee post office…neat and sparse
With Will Moore and his little mum.
And
William James from..the Braeside..
That’s running along the border..
By Annvale road…and the lake.
And the famous Darkley Mill.
And I remember the stories of the
Farm and how they said that
Sarah Makem who worked at the mill
Sometimes sang in the yard
And there’s the C of I at
Armaghbreague
Where I once met a Mr. Lowry
whose mum knew dad apparently …..
There on Annvale road and
found that dad had been there before!!..
Albert Nesbit…Megagherty…..Watsons.
There’s two piers guarding a lane to a farm
To 26 Corkley….and there’s a possibility
That it was Joe’s farm.
Out comes the present owner
As rough as a badger…
He owns a tractor from ’61
Bought it when he moved there…Said it worked still.
Said he never needed a wake up call.
Said he rose in the morning with the first horn…
From..Darkley Mill.

This poem was read aloud in Bangor Library for International Women’s Day on March 8th 2017.




Geraldine Snape was born in Belfast and now lives in Warrington. She has been in Belfast recently as part of the Women Aloud NI readings in libraries, book shops and town centres. She is a member of Geraldine Green’s group that meets in Kirby Lonsdale every month and is a member of Bold Street Writers group in Warrington. Instagram geraldinesnape

Thursday, January 19

Thursday Writers At The Gateway in Warrington.



Thursday writers at Bold Street writers
and
Today Pat F. offered us two bags of thoughts.
One full of taste words
and one full of smell words
Our prompt was to write using whatever words we had picked out.
Mine were ...bonfire and full English breakfast.
I demurred and changed that to Irish!!



Out he marched.
Out of the stuffy house and
Away out into his garden.
Off he went with his belly full.
Off with a lightness of step.
It was a good feeling to take into the new day.
Now Dan was no spring chicken.
Well to tell the truth, he was closer to ninety than eighty.
But a wee bit of a creak in the joints would surely only be improved with a jaunt out into the fresh air. 
Out into his beloved veggie patch.
And there he would stand, arms crossed over his chest and lovingly survey his domain 
with the pride of a king,
 an emperor, 
a ruler of nations.
O.k....that might be a bit over the top that last thought.
But nevertheless his pride in his garden abounded.

Mags, in the home, was a great cook.
There were no two ways about it.
She could take a few wee ingredients, throw them in a pot, add a spot of water and a smidgen of a stock cube and produce a soup to knock your socks off!
And when it came to breakfasts, well there was noone, not man nor beast could beat her breakfasts.
So on this morning she had truly excelled herself.... and Dan's expectations... and had presented him with the breakfast to beat all breakfasts.
Here's a taste of what lay glistening on his plate.
Two slices of best back bacon, crisped on the edges where a spot of fat lingered smelling of heaven.
Two fried eggs winking at him from eggy paradise with whites firm and yolks soft and runny enough to dip a toasty soldier in and bring it up to his mouth with the delicious chance that a golden drop might roll gently down his chin ...to be savoured at a later time.
A plump red tomato, halved and left sizzling in the pan 'til the edges browned with the crustiness left in the bottom of the frying pan from the cooked bacon.
And succulent sliced mushrooms sauted in butter and placed gleaming on the side of the plate.
But....creme de la creme, there on his plate a fat slice of his favourite black pudding, peppery and salted.
That was surely to replace the iron in his system.....just call me "Ironman", he thought.
So with a belly content with a full Irish breakfast and a pot of strong tea heavily laced with a spoonful...make that two or three spoonfuls...of sugar....

Out he marched.
Out into the sharpness of the January air.
Frost had left the grass with a grey green hue.
It reminded him of the colour of the classroom walls in the old school where he had been caretakeer for fifty years.
It made him stop and consider how lucky he had been in life.
Well ...except for the times the school toilets had blocked, or that time the lab had been set on fire by the mad scientist of a teacher or....
Ah, that's what he would do this fine morning.
He would take all the dead wood and the autumn gatherings of dried bean stalks, dead asparagus grass and the sweetcorn stooks and have a fire.
A really big, glorious, joyous bonfire.
He would take two of the old wooden garden chairs and set them together upwind away from the smoke.
He would pop back down to the kitchen and bring Mags up and together they would sit and watch the sparks make their way up into the grey January sky.
He gathered the thinnings of autumn.. 
Stuffed paper into the empty spaces, laid the wood in a pattern as he had learnt as a boy from his dad, And who had in turn learnt from his dad.
So history progresses.
So skills are passed on.
So he took his lighter, the redundant lighter since he had given up smoking, and lit the paper.
Watched with anticipation as the dried vegetation caught fire and listened as it talked to him of times gone by, as it crackled and popped .

Mags looked out of
the kitchen window and sighed.
Another bloody bonfire!
So no washing hanging on the line again today!

Sunday, January 15

Day Seven Art Challenge Alan Snape Potter




..and so we reach Day Seven of The Art Challenge for the potter...Alan Snape...
At the closing exhibition of his time studying art at St Martins Lancaster...every piece of work apart from two which we still have...sold! 
At that time Alan was working in wood, metal and ceramic. He was creating wall pieces with burnt wood and metal or clay..... big powerful pieces of art.
 I was always sorry that teaching at Penketh High...stopped all that influence. Too much else to think about...apart from family growingup etc!! 
So the commission for a wall mounted work to be placed in the foyer of the Oaks Centre  in Penketh was welcomed. 
The piece is composed of oak beams burnt in the bonfire, down the field, until charred to his satisfaction. Then formed into various sized crosses and three pure white ceramic balls placed within the sculpture.
If you ask him what it means you will receive a gentle shrug and...
 "what do you think?"




I'm adding this early pic of Alan's car....the beloved Nelly...car...circa 1967...in Rochdale with a friend from St. Martin's College Lancaster, the lovely sister @Rosiemcclellandart and yours truly...how glamorous, how young, how innocent we were!
I kept slim by pushing Nelly to start her most days!!