Thursday, November 17

a Poem for Thursday...The Noise of Heavy Traffic.


Margaret U. brought the prompt today. 
She offered us an envelope with strips of paper and each had a noise written on it.
So... waterfall, drip drip, laughter and mine....the noise of heavy traffic.
There's always a panic moment when you know that you have no more than an hour to put down your best thoughts and make some creativity with words!
We have just come back from another motorway trip...this time to see the southern family down the M6 and M1 and traffic, traffic, traffic...so I had something to work with.





It's "brumm brumm" and "beep beep"
As the child on the back seat sang.
And the young woman in the driver's seat
Does her best to avoid a prang.
While out on the road in the busy traffic
Screaming accelerators shout.
And the tired commuters in the early morning
Play chicken, without a doubt.
Brumm brumms the sound of the traffic
And the beeps are heard all around.
While the child strapped into his seat at the back
Turns his toy wheel around and around.
The H.G.V. in the line in front
Is revving it's engine again.
The driver frustrated, is paid by the hour
And the number of trips he has made.
A middle aged business man lost in  reverie
Sighs as the lights turn to red.
That's another ten minutes of idling in neutral
He may as well stay in his bed.
Then a smart-ass young woman gesticulates
Wildly and raises her B.P. again.
She lifts up two fingers and points them at someone
With a blankety blank blank refrain.
The light blinks on green and they're off on the road
Well at least they can make second gear.
And the child in the back seat smiles
At the woman and 
Raises his fingers as well.
God's name is called upon there in the traffic,
Well, called may not be the right term.
But for folk who declare they are atheist/agnostics
They regularly mention him there.
Then the traffic starts moving and hope springs eternal
They may yet make the school run,the meeting,
The shopping, the doctor's, the dentist's the job
And get home again sometime this evening.
Now the child on the back seat is singing again
And the smart-ass young woman calms down.
While the heavy goods driver thinks maybe he'll make it
And the business man ceases to frown.
For they'll drive down the roads
Where the traffic is heaving
And tomorrow they'll do it again.

...there are more!!

Thursday, November 10

A Poem for Thursday.



Once again we met at The Gateway Centre opposite the beautiful Golden Gates of Warrington's Town Hall.
The Bold Street Writers.
And the prompt...very apt for the moment... came from Pat who had introduced me to this wonderful group a few years before.

"The Unexpected"


Well there is so much unexpected at this moment in history...though maybe there may have been more before the days of media coverage of each and every tiny change of mood and tone but we will never know and that could have been a blessed bonus!
This is my offering.

Unexpected

Twice I looked  to find it true.
Not daring to believe my eyes.
The screen  flickered, night was old.
From my companion came sighs,
Disbelief. Fear tugged. Anxiously 
We watched. Numbers rose and fell.
The outcome boards were black
The names above were bold.
The list grew longer, stronger
Were the thoughts we shared.
Mouths tightened, eyes narrowed,
Or eyes wide, mouths agape.
You think you've seen it all
By the time your pension's drawn.


We made another coffee, sleep
Would have to wait 'til  results
Crashed the top line, powered
Through, above, over, beyond.
Whose dreams would crash? And
Whose would soar?
The band played on while the
Dancers danced. What should we do
At a time like this? Should we 
Laugh or weep? Some will rejoice.
Losers lose and winners win.
As it is in life, so in death.
And midnight makes you morbid.
So we crack open the brandy.

We plump up feather cushions
For the necessary comfort in
The long haul.In the small hours
As we wait for light to filter
Through net curtains, and brocade. Then 
When spirits are at lowest and
Souls dried of emotion comes
The long-awaited verdict after
Lonely days, and years
Have passed in the waiting full
Of hope, despair and longing?
A faithful partner at his side.
A shining spotlight  on him. he
Holds his head up high and ...Waits . 

But the Master of Ceremonies in
Red velvet jacket speaks. 
And we hold our breath in
Expectation. At last a result.
The mirrored ball is lifted high and
And Anton  claims his prize.

Now those of the distant shore.... Amerikay!... may not know how long and hard Anton du Beck has fought for the "Glitter Ball...the prize of Strictly come Dancing"...but at a time like this here and across the pond...we need some light relief in our lives.
Vive Le Anton!

Tuesday, November 8

A ,Bitter Week.

We spent four wonderful days on the east coast last week....Suffolk and Norfolk.
We were there to deliver stock to some galleries in Southwold and Snape Maltings. That's the ceramic stock made by the potter here at The Potters House Penketh.
But also to attend some of the organised workshops and readings at The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.
A real feast of poetic words and thoughts.
Then to cap a great weekend we drove north to Norwich and UEA, to take the eldest grandgirl out for a meal....all students need treats from grandparents!
So late evening after saying our goodbyes we set off for the journey north.
My head was full of the new poetry and poets we had heard....and the news we listened to as we drove was full of the thoughts of the soon to be decided presidential race for The White House.
The euphoria of the four days slipped away little by little as reality arrived as if brought down from the cold north by the chill winds that blew.
The vacuum of this moment in history....will soon be filled with one or 'tother...and we ourselves will soon be either in or out apparently of whatever we have been part of!!


After Auden

And so the leaves fall
And in the chill wind fall fast.
For on the long ride back north
Winter arrived in bitterness.

Thursday, October 20

Thursday Writers Group

Bold Street Writers

Today Margaret was the prompt giver and she laid out a number of strips of paper each with an opening sentence from which we had to write a dialogue.



This was mine!
So just about fifty minutes later and a lot of scribbling...well you can see that from the pic!...this was the script I came up with.......

(...Belfast voice...)
Dad:- "What have you done with my pills? I need them! I know you've moved them mother, you're a bloomin' nuisance with your tidying up all the time. Land's sake let the dust lie, It'll be there when we're dead and gone. And I'll be dead and gone if I can't find my pills.
 I can feel myself comin' over all faint already. I'm gonna sit down a wee while and collect my thoughts, pull myself together.

Mum:-  "Sorry"

Dad:-   "And what the heck has happened to that cushion? You know I have to have yon there cushion at my back otherwise I will end up with one of my agonizing backs again, and I'll be laid up in bed for a fortnight and then you'll know all about it.When you're traipsing up and down those stairs! I can't be sitting in that chair with that cushion there...even if it does match the chair better that mine. 
I know how your mind works, I really do."

Mum:-  "Sorry".

Dad:-  "Has the paper arrived? I haven't seen it anywhere. Don't tell me that paper boy has given up again.
 I can't stand lazy people like him, no get up and go and no loyalty to his customers. 
Well mum you'll just have to pop across to the newsagent and get it, and while you're at it tear a strip of  that woman over there for not making sure her best customers get their Dailies on time. 
What's the point at getting the paper at ten in the morning? Sure it's old news by then. I'd go myself but I'm feeling a bit woosey,  I need to get those wee red pills. 
What have you done with them you auld fool?"

Mum:-  "Sorry".

Dad:-  While you're over at the shop get me some ciggies. I'd give you the money but sure my wallet's up the stairs in the other jacket pocket and I couldn't make it up there at the moment. Sure I can pay you later after I get over this wee bout of dizziness.A cup of tea before you go would see me through 'til you're back, and make sure you put the three sugars in, last time I'll swear there was none, and the tea was flipping bitter.
 I'll just have a wee bit of shuteye 'til you're back."

Mum:-  "Sorry".

Dad:-  "Have you gone yet? 
Mother do you hear me? 
You're deaf you auld biddy!
 Deaf as a doorpost.
 I could be dying here and you'd not give two hoots!
 Do you hear me?
 I'm not going to shout! Sure I don't have the energy.
 I would have the energy if I could get hold of those bloody pills.
Are they down the side of the couch where you sit? Why would you move them?
 I said why would you move them?
 I may as well talk to the wall for all you care.
 Is that cup of tea coming? Three sugars mind. And the paper would be grand before lunch for crying out loud.
If that's you by the front door I'll do without the tea, if you're on your way across. 
Ciggies, remember ciggies.
 Mind like a sieve mother, mind like a sieve.
God I feel lousy. Where the heck are those wee red devils? If I were a fit man I'd be up looking for them. I would. I know I would. That's the kind of man that I am. That's the kind of fellow, feeelooow, fellooo.....".( falls to the ground).

Mum:-  "Sorry!!"  (Slams the front door and gets into a taxi with a suitcase )

We are often a gruesome lot of writers at the group...we women!!!

Sunday, October 16


The Knothole



When the weather permits , I still like to take myself down the field to the summerhouse and as there is no wifi...there's no chance of being able to hear anything at all about the state of the world!!
This afternoon I sat in the old blue and white striped sofa and listened to the hypnotic buzzing of a fat bumble bee looking for a cosy hole to overwinter.
He must have found a suitable one as the buzzing stopped and the quiet was almost tangible.

The Knothole
In the darkened knotholes 
Of the summerhouse roof
A bee searches for a winter retreat.
Then the steady hum of its wings
Grow  quiet 
With  the blessed finding
Of its chosen one.
While the earth grows still
As it turns with the season.


Sunday, June 26

A new era.





Thoughts on the reading of the introduction to Arthur Millar's play...All my Sons...
A family at war...deception...love but love that is prepared to act unethically to get what it feels is its due rights ....in particular...financial and respect.
The Stay people who are now accused of being sour and bitter...by the Brexit people...are fighting a losing battle. They are accused of being intellectuals, academics, arrogant exclusivists who have no idea how the rest of the country live and feel. But this scenario, this present story, this situation has all gone on many times before....so it has been written by Chaucer, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Harvey Lee, Steinbeck and Millar...to mention only a few. Yes these might be all put in a bag as "intellectual clap trap", if we so wish. I will go back further and cite the Old Testament and betrayal, and of course the New Testament and the great betrayal that happened within seven days in the life of Jesus. All written literature...wherever you might be coming from and either accepting it as truth or fiction...nevertheless there it is. And of course we can look back to a lot less years and the 20s and 30s and a people in need of leadership ready to accept the apparently strong leadership offered but taking on however reluctantly the package that went with it.
So in All my Sons by Arthur Millar....Joe Keller says..." you can't live without denial, the truth and mankind are cousins, not brothers and sisters, .....you have to deny something in order to survive. I think they are all denying something". Millar said in summing up..."he is the broken promise of the past".... referring to Joe's neighbour George.
Christopher Bigsby in this introduction to Millar's play writes..."... It is not breaches of the law...but the removal of the buoys which mark a safe passage through ocean waters. Remove such buoys, literal and symbolic, and there is no longer a common world from which we may derive either personal identity or social meaning".
I fear that this is the world we now enter...without signposts to guide or tender- heartened to console.
My love to all.....Gx



Tuesday, May 31

Sunday's Short Story...by The Shanaghy







Sunday's Short Story by The Shanaghy

It's the thought that counts
said
The Count that thinks.

He knew that the country was not in the forefront of the world's thoughts. The usual reaction was..."where?".. when he mentioned his homeland.....Veralia.
To be honest the borders were not vast, in fact not so much as a spit apart as some said.
But being the Count of Veralia he stood tall and motioned with his finger to the dot on the map which he called his homeland. It was in between the two big powers left and right. And closed in at top and bottom by two lesser ones though just as pugnacious in their dealings with him.
He knew that they all wanted to swallow up his beautiful land and add it to their already vast empires.
His homeland was a place of hills and valleys, rivers and streams and gentle slow living villages and towns, where the centuries of care had meant that generations of families stayed put and built up the kindly infrastructure which his father and family before him had maintained.
So it was no wonder those powerful ones lusted after those few acres of earth, for that is what powerful people do. Always wanting what they can't have. Always wanting more.
Many fables and proverbs have been retold in front of the  fires of winter, by families with their children huddled on knees , telling about the weak and the strong, the large and small, the fast and  slow. Stories of the lion and the mouse, fox and crow. Why even the hare and the tortoise.
So the Count knew that it was not always the biggest, noisiest, strongest who succeeded in battle. No, it was the thought that counts.
And he must be aware of the dangers and keep thinking.
Count Honore, for that was his name, was no slouch when it came to brains. An academic training and lessons in military strategy, together with the wisdom passed down through the stories of the common people, gave him a head start in his fight. For fight it was.
He considered the tortoise who kept plodding on to win the race and put a motto above his desk. "Never give up".
He remembered the mouse who befriended the lion and removed the thorn from the lion's paw and up went another motto..."Be kind to strangers".
And he never forgot the advice given by his old nanny...."Do ye next thynge". and up went another on the wall.
They never did get his land.
It was as if Veralia was invisible. Perhaps they were all too busy in their powerful meetings. Talking to their powerful friends...kept close to make sure they knew what each other was doing, as none of them trusted the other. Perhaps they thought it was something to see to once they had the next round of important international talks under the belt. Once they had decided the future of millions of folk, who didn't really give a hoot anyway!
Whatever the reason, the Count who thought, knew that it's the the thought that counts.
And it's the type of thought in particular....and he was that type of Count.

Sunday, May 15

Sunday's Short Story....."The Rustle of Silk"

Thursday morning writers group and Liz gave the prompt....
I was going to write about my first silk dress when a memory from my early days as a teacher came to me...and after the first sentence the story arrived...... 




We lived on the top floor of an Edwardian house. A window looked out over the park opposite with it’s treelined  walkways. It was a good district in the southern coastal town.
We were three girls, young women, professional workers.
Val the theatre nurse in the local hospital, Jill the fashion buyer for the big store in the middle of the town and me, teacher of a reception class of little ones in the old school up in the village on the top of the white cliffs.
Always laughter and friends, that’s my memory of the flat. Maybe at times too much laughter and too many friends marching up and down the stairs at all times of the day …and often the night.
Madame Durant lived below us. We were young and not inclined to tenderness in our observations. She was, at least to us, old and squat and rather hairy in places we women are not suppposed to be hairy.
She regularly complained bitterly about us to the landlord, probably the owner of the property. He came to see us to plead for mercy for Madame. He invited us to his home to chat to us about thoughtfulness. We had tea and cake and he smiled at us. We were young.
Madame Durant was a writer of love stories. Passionate, lustful, full blown love on every page. We wondered if there had ever been a Monsieur Durant. We gave him a title….Mr. D.O.Durant! Such is the cruelty of the young.
We had a friend who was basing much of his life on the philosophies written within the book by A..A.Milne….”Winnie the Pooh”
Often in an evening we gathered in the lounge, sprawling on sofas, prone on cushions laid out on the floor, chins tucked on to knees, balanced on the edge of chairs and listened while he read. He read the escapades of Pooh and Eyore, Ro and Kanga, and most of all Christopher Robin. Each character’s voice was matched to it’s personality. Squeak of Ro, depression of Eyore, sensibility of Christopher Robin. We laughed and cried with the wonderful renditions and stomped our delight on the floor. Poor Madame Durant. I cannot read it now without hearing Eyore’s mournful tones.
I was given the task of organising the décor in the flat. I embroidered seat covers, bought furniture from the local junk shops, made curtains for windows from best Robinson and Cleavers fabrics mum had brought over on one of her visits. It was my contribution to the general feel  of the place.  I looked for ways to decorate, but we had little money left over once the rent was paid. And we each had our weekly bus fare and lunches to think about,  as well as all those little extras in a girl’s life. At twentyone my teacher's salary was £40 a month. It stretched quite nicely and there was always a bit there for Saturday morning coffee and cake in the southern coastal town .
I was in a finding-out mood when I decided to have a look into the little dark cupboard under the eaves. I went in headfirst,then body and then pulled in my long legs. No light switch in the cubby-hole, no torch in the flat, just feeling around with my hands to try and find anything interesting . As I think back I’m sure there could have been dead birds, mice or at the very least big hairy spiders!
But I found none of these. However tightly packed into the fartherest corner where roof and floor met was a roll of something soft. I grabbed it as best I could.
Without wanting to damage the contents, I eased my way back to the opening holding the roll of fabric carefully in my free hand. It was covered in dust and grime as was I. My knees were raw with crawling on the bare boards.
The roll of silk in my hands had writing on it and more than that it also had some design printed there.  I laid it out flat on the hall rug and examined what I had found. A map of part of Europe. A square of silk as large as a man’s handkerchief, with the map of Germany printed on it. An airman’s escape map with escape routes marked clearly. Thin enough to be able to screw it up tight or fold it flat. Small enough to be hidden in the lining of a jacket or cached in the hollow heel of a boot. Still perfect, still usable. But who had been the owner of it?
Was it Madame Durant’s lover? Had he been a Frenchman in the resistance? Maybe an airman based in the airfield up on the cliffs where the school was. History hidden in a dark cupboard in an attic in an old house in a town on the south coast of England. A town looking over the Channel to France. On a fine day in good weather you felt you could almost throw a beach pebble and hit the far shore.
And Madame?.....is that why she wrote her stories of love and lust? I will never know after all these years later…
But the prompt…prompted me to go back there in my memories, into that cupboard and find treasure.

So much unknown in a rolled up map of rustling silk. 






Thursday, May 12

A Poem for Thursday


We spent some time in Aldeburgh last week.
 This is by the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout Tower which often has Art Exhibitions in it.
 You can see lots more on their Face Book site.
The potter is not known for doing nothing...but this pic caught him in pensive mood!





Homeness

Homeness is his nose, his ears, his brow.

The sweater he wears, the shoes he buys
From the cheap shoe shop across the road.



Homeness is the breakfast that he makes
And the silence as we read the daily news,
His the sports report, mine the gossip page.



Homeness is the familiar sag in the bed
Where my body fits snugly and
The duvet falls effortlessly around me
While sleep creeps up on me easy.



Homeness is knowing where everything is
Stored in the kitchen cupboards when
I want to make a pot of coffee or
Break a square off a hidden bar of chocolate.



Homeness is the spicey smell of rosemary
And sage In the stoney paths as I meander
Through summer's scented herb garden.



Homeness is me waiting for the swallows
To return and in the homecoming then
                                 To know everything will be alright.



Sunday, May 1

Sunday's Short Story



The Story of Ballyferris Revisited
and
Edited





          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.

...you 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 Monarchy...to 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 Aldeburgh..so 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 box...so no time to post as we cope very nicely without WiFi in the Bay house.

(...an 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.)



Prompt


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 other....so 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 forthcoming...at 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 started...so 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.

"Keys"
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 out.as 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 key...it 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.  

Thursday, February 4

A Poem for Thursday.



A Poem for Thursday
Today at the writers' workshop the prompt was from Shauna. She gave each of us some pages with interesting lists, to make us think about our lives and the people associated with us at various stages of it.
Time Line..............I choose 10 - 15. ...it was the 50s, it was Co Down, and all was well in my world.

Before the Fall
Time was endless, friends were many.
Vicky and Sandy, and I was Gerry.
We laughed a lot, linked arms and talked
About boys we fancied and those we stalked.
A caravan was where we gathered 
Under the stars at Ballyferris
Our bare feet kicking the silver sand.
Where time was endless, nothing planned.
"There's  Cassiopeia and there's the Plough".
"Oh your luck's in, there's a shooting star!"
We raced down maran covered dunes
And harmonised on Western tunes.
And miles away on the far horizon
Were ships bound for ports in the land of England.
We seldom thought of our futures then,
But time and tide don't wait for man.
They pass unseen and never waver
Then gather up all in their net without favour.
And I daren't go back to that holy place
Where time stood still. A time when space
And mercy was real, before the fall
That enveloped and overwhelmed us all.

Sunday, January 10

Chalk Paint

It's been a long time coming, but at last, at last,  we have redecorated the dining room.
I say we...you who know me will realise that the royal "We" usually means ..The Potter!.
But I did my bit by keeping up the supply of coffee and tea and making soup for lunch from the stock saved from the holiday meats and bones. Never, ever did a carcass get thrown out at the Ormeau Road home in Belfast while I was growing up. Bones and giblets, onion and carrots, rice or barley and the homely smell of stock simmering on a low gas!...ahhh! .
...Anyway the walls are now a soft grey, the ceiling white and the wooden staircase wall white as well. Things have yet to go back in place, but it's starting to regain a life of its own again .
For a while it had become a dumping ground...the table always full of items crying for attention .......or not!
 I also did my duty and went to IKEA! Obviously, I bought a box of candles....does anyone ever go to IKEA and not buy candles? I bought new cushion covers in glorious shades of grey...very tasteful I'm told ..a sort of zebra rug thingy to put under the table...to warm our feet...the room is not the warmest spot in the house.
 Oh and three little sheepskin rugs to cover the seats of the wooden chairs. That idea I saw in one of the blogs I follow " Lisas Hus "....http://lisashus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/ett-vackert-julslut.html....brilliant...so now there will be warm feet and warm derrières.
I'd bought some chalk paints about a year ago when I first mentioned the redesign of the room to the potter and there they sat all year, clogging up the kitchen surfaces. But today, was the day to bite the bullet and brighten up the old wooden chairs.
We used to be antique dealers. Hmmm....what have we not been I ask myself!...and to paint a windsor chair was tantamount to betraying one's country....treason!
What rubbish...I plonked it on the studio table and got the job done...love it. Another two to do tomorrow and the job's a goodun...as they say around here.


Thursday, January 7

Writer's Workshop Warrington


My prompt today was a photograph taken out of a weekend magazine and one of many offered by Margaret K.


...and this was the result...
"Hopes and Dreams"
I might go to China this year.
Go and see the great wall of China.
I'm told that one of mum's relatives walked it in the 1800s.
She was a sturdy woman called Isabelle.
Isabelles are sturdy I think.
Maybe that's why one of the grandgirls is so feisty ....well part of the reason!
I tell her that the Queen of Spain was an Isabelle, Isabella actually to be correct.
So, a lot to live up to there, not that she is'nt quite capable enough.
She'll probably end up leading some political party in the future, then walking the length of the Wall of China before becoming the next Queen Isabelle of Spain.
The other Isabelle waas Scottish.
That says it all really
Determined, sturdy, feisty....all my Scottish female relatives in a nutshell.
So...China this year?
Sooner pigs might fly.

There was a lottery rollover yesterday.
I hear it was the largest ever...£50m!
I said, what a responsibility if you win.
The daughter said, I think I could find ways of using it.
We bought tickets and had a meal together while we waited for the result.
We had game pie made by another grandgirl.
She put the rest of the goose and duck from the freezer into a bechamel sauce in a dish and slapped a nice golden crust on the top.
Great girl.
I tell her she's a queen too.
Esther
The one who took a year out in finishing school before she wooed King Xerxes with her beauty.
Of course I don't think that they had anything like the Great British Bake Off then,
Or even the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
That's Esther's motivation at the moment.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Cooking Badge.
Anyway we benefit from all that.
So all good there then,.
I heard nothing back from the daughter.
So I don't think we won the £50m.
Haven't seen any pigs flying either today.

I've stopped looking in the mirror much these days.
There's something happening with my face.
The skin has acquired a lot of unnecessary lines.
They started around my eyes a few years ago.
I bought the right skin cream.
The advert said that it stopped any aging which might occur....completely.
It promised a peach soft glowing complexion.
I followed the instructions for years.
Not one to give in at the first sign of failure. 
My mouth area was next to "line up".
Someone said that the top lip gets thinnner as you get older, they were right...
 ..noone said it disappears altogether. 
And what's that trick that lipstick plays.
A creeping red line from the lips to the nose?
Nasty.
Anyway, I think they were lying, that company selling the face cream.
So I just stopped looking in the mirror.
It lies too.
Peach soft skin?
Pigs might fly!