Sunday, May 1

Sunday's Short Story

The Story of Ballyferris Revisited

          Mr. M was our next door neighbour. He lived with Mrs. M and their daughter Margaret. For a long time I didn’t know she was called Margaret, as everyone in the "Park", knew her as Miss Peggy. In my “singy” moments I used to huma well known song of the day....,"If her eyes are blue as skies that’s Peggy M.......". Of course any Irish person worth their salt will know that it should be “Peggy O’Neill”, but mere facts like that never stopped me changing things to suit the occasion. Perhaps that's another reason to doubt my story, but it would be a shame if you did, as you would miss the whole magic of what I am telling you. 

          Mr. M’s car was like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was large and square cut with massive running boards, shining silver headlights and a wonderfully loud claxon horn. Now although the Ms were exceedingly posh for St. J’s,  they were also very kind. So the five Macs got to drive to the caravan site in this amazing car for the first few years that we holidayed at Bsallyferris. The caravan ,of course, had already been hauled there for us by other means, and thus it was that we set off for our first great adventure.
         Mega preparations had to be made before setting off. There was always a cooked chicken in a tin pan with a bobbley lid , you know the sort that I mean!  Everyone had a boobley lidded roasting tin in those days. All weathers were provided for,wellington boots, plastic macs, and even worse plastic bonnets......(I hated these and aunt Helen always had an unending supply of them hauled out of her capacious handbag at the slightest thought of inclement weather)...   I could never understand why all of this provision was really necessary, for as soon as we arrived at the caravan field,  I shed shoes and all heavy garments in glorious freedom of body.
         There were always two questions to be asked as Dougie started up Mr. M's old car. “Mary , have you got the kitchen sink?... and... “ Mary , have you packed the grandfather clock?”... The delicious reply was always “Of course, Douglas.” And off we would go.
          Two children and a baby setting out on an adventure with mum,and dad at the wheel sounding the claxon horn at every impossible situation, while me, the eight year old in the back... screamed with delight.

Friday, April 29

A Poem for Thursday

This poem has had a spring clean....some editing!
It amazing what a month or two of lying low can do for words.

The arrogance of birds...
or ...
The jealousy of ground dwellers.

Here's what you get for having a tree in your garden.
You get magpies and crows, wood pigeons and robins,
 Who perch on the very top branch in an April morning
When the mellowness of Spring mists are rising.
And they look down at the world around them
 Feeling superior to us below at ground level.
And that's what you get for allowing a tree
To reach its ultimate height...... apart from the oxygen. can see more of my pics at instagram geraldinesnape

Monday, April 25

Sunday's Short Story

...another from two hours of Thursday mornings at the Writers Workshop...

" An ado about nothing"
(Thanks to W. Shakespeare)

What a fuss, I thought, pursing my lips and frowning. Honestly, don't people have more important things to think about than to start complaining over such a trivial occurance?
 I may have believed that painting the house pink was a good idea. I had done it in a spur of the moment decision. The paint at B&Qs was reduced. The store was closing down and although most of the goods on the shelves were to be carted off up the road to the hyperstore on the outskirts of town, the tins of pink paint were reduced to 50p a tin.
How could I resist such a bargain? Always known as a cherry picker in the local charity shops and jumble sales, this offer was too good to walk away from.
So I didn't!
Ian helped me to prepare the walls by sanding down the brickwork with an electric drill attachment. A good lad, he's always ready to help, if not exactly the brightest star in the bunch. But he is kindly. And as I get older, it's kindness that becomes more and more important to me. 
It only took us two days to finish the job. And very good it looked, if I say so myself. 
Yes, yes,  we missed the mark a few times and Ian painted over the keyhole in the front door. Oh yes and I'll have to take a sharp blade and try to remove the rim of paint on the glass windows. Yes, yes, some things like that. But when I stand on the other side of the street and look across at what we've done I'm jolly pleased.
So, what on earth is all this fuss about? It's not as if this is the grandest of streets. Not the "right" side of town. And most of the other houses are boring. Yes that's right, boring! Nothing adventurous in any of them. 
Nothing to catch the eye, or make me smile as I walk home in an evening from the local Tesco, my shopping bags full of the day's bargains. You have to time that exactly. Too early...nothing. Too late...the dregs! I'm a cherry picker there as well. It makes for exciting meals as I never know what has been reduced 'til I get there.
Anyway, look out, here they come.  Those neighbours, with their lace curtains, acceptably painted front doors and pots of boring plants placed neatly in front. Here they come knocking on my pink  door. Bright pink I mean .
" Well", I ask, " what do you want?"..... as I smile at them and think...
What an ado about nothing!

Thursday, April 21

A Poem for Thursday

The Midsummer Knight's Dream

This morning at the Thursday morning writers group the prompt was  from Margaret K.
" Brush up your Shakespeare"
But some of us were grieving for another writer of both comedy and tragedy ....
Victoria Woods. 
Then on top of it being Shakespeare's birthday this week...a double whammy with The Queen's 90th. today. What a week! Now whether you are for or against the celebrate a 90th birthday and be the longest reigning Queen ever, deserves at the very least a mention.
 But my thoughts were about Victoria...the Queen of Comedy since the 70s......and this one is for her...and for her beloved Morecambe...and in particular Lubin's...a place of inspiration. We were lucky enough to eat there  many times before it closed its doors for good. 
I have read that..." Is it on the trolley?"... maybe a quote from Lubin's !!!!!

Some artistic licence in this mad sonnet.

The Midsummer Knights Dream
We sat on the crimson red sofa,
The potter, the daughter and me.
We ordered a platter with cheeses
Some bread and a big pot of tea.

When who should come in through the doorway
With her children and husband in tow
Victoria and the Magician
In his best Sunday suit and his bow.

The sun caught the top of his bald pate,
She heaved up her boobs from below.
Her kids ordered meat pie at Lubin's
And icecream to have on the go.

But the dream was just Midsummer Madness
For she's gone, and we're left with our sadness.

Monday, April 18

Somerset Levels Commission.

This commission came from an Irish friend, for some relatives living in Somerset and loving the levels.

 The potter is more used to his land and seascape pots based mainly on Southwold and this was a new venture and much perusal of google pics and pinterest boards were looked at, before he sketched his ideas in a book and started the heavy job of raising a large ceramic pot. It is big...not quite a metre high but not far off! 

There were certain requirements made for the decor on the exterior...hares, heron, water and reeds...and the potter added his usual wonderfully modelled bridges, fences and landscape. The glazes are chosen to enhance the fired clay and the final glaze firing reveals whether or not it has been a success.
Well this is the second one...not that the first wasn't good it was, but experience tells you that often the next one manages to capture the essence of a piece. Soon it will be on it's way to The Levels...then we shall see if it has done it's job. 

Sunday's Short Story.

I know it's Monday...but we left the house on the Bay...Sunday evening, and scudded down the old M6 to catch The Durrell's on the no time to post as we cope very nicely without WiFi in the Bay house.

( aside...
...the bay sunset, which is renowned anyway, was especially beautiful on Saturday because of the stormy weather....I just had to run out and catch the end of it before the sun went down.)


The prompt from Pat F.on Thursday at The Writer's Workshop was a challenge. Not that it isn't always a challenge for me...but this one stumped me for a while. But the only thing to do in that situation is to go with the first idea that comes .. and run with it. We only have a bit over an hour to write before we read the results to each here it is...

Albert was not yet ready to share his age with Ivy. She had been told that his birthday was coming up, But as his secretary she needed to be careful about broadcasting it around the office. After all Albert was the boss.The company had been good to her. Life was difficult enough since Syd died. She was still coming to terms with an empty house every evening.Ivy felt angry about it all although she knew that his family had a history of heart attacks. Nevertheless, being who she was, one who copes, it was just a few weeks after Syd's funeral that she determined to get herself a job, and get back into a daily routine.To have Albert as her boss was more that she had dared to hope for.She did have a lot of experience noted down on her c.v. But with so many people applying for so few positions, she realised that in this she had fallen on her feet.....or to be more precise...on the office chair!

Her office wall abutted Albert's office wall. And regularly she would either be in his room taking notes or receiving lists of jobs to be achieved, Or Albert would breeze into her office. No knock of course, just striding in and sitting on the edge of her desk with a file or USB to peruse But recently often it had often been with a mug of coffee at the start of the business day. That was quite a thing! In her last job she had always been expected to be both office worker and tea girl for the whole  floor. 

He was no Adonis, Albert P. Shingle. Sometimes when she thought about it she had a giggle over the name...Shingle! Was it an illness or a beach? She preferred to think it was a beach.And what did the P stand for if anything? Some people put a middle letter into their signature to make it more memorable. Of course it might just be Peter or Paul or maybe Phillip. But she liked to think it was exotic...maybe Peregrine to counteract the blandness of Albert.! Oh dear as the months had gone by that she was thinking more and more about his life outside of the office, And today she knew that he would celebrate his fiftieth. Surely it couldn't pass by unmentioned?
Someone elsewhere in the company must be planning a surprise. No word of this least none that she had heard of. Her job was precious. She loved the work. She was good at it she discovered. Better than she ever imagined she would be She would let the day pass by.

Every day Ivy made sure that all she did and even what she wore was as professional and efficient as she could make it. She was taking much more thought over her appearance than she had done for many years. Was that her being professional, or did she feel at forty three she still had a lot of living ahead of her? With no children from her marriage to care for life was starting anew .So there would be no way she was going to throw a spanner in the works and step forward now to plan something for Albert's birthday.
But there were little things she could do without making an issue of it. She put a bunch of spring flowers in a pretty jug on the side of the desk - not too ostentatious just enough to sweeten the often stale office air. She bought a packet of triple chocolate biscuits to offer when he arrived  with her coffee. She wore a new blouse she had bought at the weekend. Still a crisp white cotton but with a little pie crust collar on it. And in these small ways she hoped her boss would know that she recognized both the day and also the position she held in the company.
At nine fifteen as usual Albert stepped into her office. Coffee in hand, he smiled. She offered him a cookie. He took one and hesitated. 
"It's my birthday Ivy. I was wondering if you would join me this evening for dinner? I've taken a chance that you might say yes and booked a table at a local restaurant...what do you say?"

The flowers bloomed and shared their perfume in the room, out through the door and into the rest of the building!

Oh dear...cheesy end...but what to do when Pat says.."Five more minutes and then we shall read!"
Well you bring it all to conclusion...and who doesn't love a happy ending anyway!!

By the way you could see more of my pics on my Instagram site...if you were of such a mind!!
geraldinesnape...documenting the mundane

Sunday, April 10

A Story for Sunday..."Keys"

Thursday morning is writer's workshop day. I may have mentioned it before. We are given a prompt to use. It may be a word or a cutting from the paper or even a picture cut out of a magazine.
This short story started with the prompt word..."keys"
I find if I think too much I never get I tend to go with the first idea in my head and write on from there...sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it even surprises me as the story enfolds.

Another cold damp day. I pulled the dusty velvet curtains apart...reluctantly. 
Yesterday's busking had been an utter failure. Standing for hours on the corner of high street. 
That was no fun.
The wintry winds came at me from both directions.
"Go South"...the family had said. "You'll make more money down there. Folk have more cash than us'nes up here in this god-forsaken northern coastal town."
So I went. Did what they suggested. Took their advice. Boarded the bus. Suitcase, handbag, guitar and all. What a palaver! Still I made it. Found a place to lay my head. Not grand you know, but enough. A person can live on a lot less that they think, I've discovered!
And here was another day. I gathered my equipment into a large cotton bag. Carefully stached  the sheet music in a folder... for some things are more precious than others, and the music is one of them. Most of this had been collected during college days. Precious notes bought at the city music store. Carefully chosen to suit my voice and simple enough to be fit for busking. Well what else can a musician do after the heady years of training.? I followed the trend.
The bus stopped in the town centre and I made my way to my usual spot. I'd taken a few days after arriving in the port to look for a good site. This seemed the best. It was on a corner where the two busiest shopping streets met. A good little overhang jutting out from a roof giving me some protection from the rain.Never mind that I hadn't reckoned on a pesky southern wind that couldn't make up it's mind which way to blow. Life  throws a googley or two to catch us unawares!
The town was just starting to get busy. Office workers and school children hurried along with heads down preparing mentally for another day behind a desk. Early shoppers were out for bargains. Scanning the shop windows , looking for the best sales, the 2 for 1, the great bargain. All intent on getting somewhere. this was not the time of day for lingering. Nevertheless I set up the stand and pegged some music to it. I'd brought extra pegs just to defy the wind! Dad always said ,"Be prepared"! I slipped the guitar out of the case, slung the strap around one shoulder and tuned the strings. It's hard to keep them in tune in such weather...but noone would notice if it was slightly they hurried past.
She wasn't hurrying. The young mum. She looked lost I'd say. A child clutched her legs with a fierceness of possession. There are many like her in this southern port. They slide quietly in from trucks and boats. Looking for what I was looking for as well I suppose. A life, some hope, peace and security. Or at least a place of safety to lay their head at the end of the day.

I had been singing for a good hour when I saw her again. The child with his wild eyes. Her face white  and her clothes mismatched. It marked her out as a stranger. She came shyly up to me and made a request. "Did I know this?...did I have the words and music?
" Yes." I asked her for a was the key of C if I remember... and she started to sing to my quitar accompaniment.

A soulful voice, pure on the notes, beautiful with meaning, leaving me breathless.....poured out of the young woman.Tear filled my eyes and I was unable to speak as she finished.
And then she walked away.  The child whimpered and clutched her hand as she led him .
I gained some composure and glanced down at the money cap by my feet. For the first time that week it was full of coins.