Monday, January 30, 2012

Bedtime reading

This is currently on my dressing table ready for bedtime reading. I fancied some short stories and received this little collection from Santa (it was in my Yule stocking).

I've been familiar with the works of LTC Rolt for some time, ever since I worked for British Waterways, and knew I'd enjoy it. They're short tales, all with some sort of travel theme, because Rolt was a transport historian. And as the title suggests, they're ghost stories.

So far none of them have been terribly scary - but they are of a sort that doesn't often get written these days. They feature isolated, creepy inns and foggy nights; grotesque figures looming from the dark; mysterious smells and lights through the trees beside a road.  It's an entertaining book with a flavour of an earlier age.
Thoroughly enjoyable - but I'm still sleeping well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FFF55. Helen's dilemma

Helen took a deep breath and prepared to explain it again. Her fiancé was looking at her with a strange expression: slightly confused and slightly annoyed.
“This has nothing to do with women’s lib and equality. I’m just not going to take your name when we’re married. 
“I refuse to be known as Helen Highwater!”

55 words every Friday for the G-Man!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A rather bigger rock (in the face)

'There might be some sensitivity', the dentist warned.
I'm glad he didn't say it would really hurt.

The ibuprofen isn't working.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A very small stone. Catkins


The hazel's pale yellow flags semaphore their spring message from the hedgerow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FFF55. Near miss

It had been a near thing. He reached out to grab her hand as she slipped off the kerb, right in front of the car, but couldn’t catch hold. It was only because the driver was a professional that he managed to miss her.  It was almost impossible to believe.
But trains can’t swerve.

It's that time of the week again. Take a trip over to the G-Man's blog to see what else has been written.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Once upon a time a frightened little girl sat on a hospital bed in a small side-room and cried. It was two days since she had seen her parents and knew many strange and difficult things would happen to her before she would see them again. What are you going to do to me, she asked. But in typical nineteen sixties style, a stern nurse told her she was a child and wouldn't understand. Don't cry. Be brave. It'll all be over soon.

How was that supposed to help? She cried more. But this time the nurse was angry and told her to stop right now. We're busy and don't have time to deal with your hysterics. So she stopped, and eventually she was wheeled away to theatre; still afraid, still unknowing.

Almost fifty years later I must face surgery. Today I cannot stop her tears.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Can you hear me?
I’m here.
I know you hear. No?
I need the truth
You knead the truth
So I am nowhere.
Know where.
Not here but where?
I wear myself out
Trying to be heard
By the herd.
I wear your guilt.
You take the gilt
And the gingerbread.
Ill bred. Your head
Held high. Your soul -
So less than clean.
A fact of which
You’re conscious.
Your conscience.
Out in force
Shouting forth:
Can you hear me?
I’m still here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

CCL (Or "context is everything")

What does it mean?  Well a quick entry into Google reveals that those three letters could have a variety of interpretations, depending on context.

So you could have Computer Communications Ltd, who offer refurbished hardware; an international company, with its headquarters in Leeds, that makes pre-stressed concrete; The Center for Creative Leadership, which claims to be "a top-ranked, global provider of executive education", whatever that means; Clinical Computing (no clue where the L fits in), which supplies medical software; or even the Celebrity Cricket League, which appears to have a lot to do with Bollywood.

So what does it mean here?

Simply that this is my 250th post.
This is sort of close......

Friday, January 13, 2012

FFF55. Billy

“Stupid man,” thought Billy ‘the Dip’ Jackson. The bloke didn’t have a clue. He’d been the perfect mark – clearly a tourist and carrying cash in his back pocket. Billy counted out the notes until he came to the last sheet and read: “Enjoy your moment of gloating. They’re fakes. And I’ve now got your wallet.”


55 words for the G-Man. Go and see what other people have produced over at Mr Knowitall's blog.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday extracts: Jasper Fforde on books.

“Books may look like nothing more than words on a page, but they are actually an infinitely complex imaginotransference technology that translates odd, inky squiggles into pictures inside your head.” ― Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots


This quote is from the Thursday Next series of novels by Jasper Fforde. It's best if I let him explain:

"They are a series of books based upon the notion that what we read in books is just a small part of a larger BookWorld that exists behind the page.  A fantastical place populated by off-duty and sometimes mischievous bookpeople from the Classics to Fanfiction, and ruled over by the wheezing bureaucracy known as The council of Genres. It is their task to maintain the pageant and integrity of the books within their charge, and these efforts are sometimes thwarted by the very evildoers and bizarre plot devices that give the Bookworld its appeal. Aided in this endeavour but sometimes disagreeing with them are Jurisfiction, the policing agency within Fiction. The adventures follow one of their operatives: A woman from the Realworld named Thursday Next, whose reality-based credentials bring a dimension of independent thought to the proceedings, something that is often absent in the mostly predetermined Bookworld."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another small (rhyming) stone

Flashing lights make a saucer shape, low in the dark sky.
It's a good job I know there's an airport nearby.


This morning was extremely dark, because the full moon was covered in heavy, indigo clouds.
Departing planes could easily have been mistaken for alien craft in the gloom.

Monday, January 09, 2012


The year advances and a voice
Inside is saying ’be creative’.
I obey.
The urge to make and do
Among the oldest of Man’s drives.
Eat, sleep, multiply, be safe, create.
Feather your nest for warmth
But choose colour.
Paint your cave with beasts.
Carve the rocks.
Storyteller's muse must be as old
But leaves no trace.
Inside the silence
A tale is forming,
And I would hear.
If only my hands would stop
And let me listen.


The creation bug appears to have trapped me in three dimensions, temporarily. Words are flowing less freely than usual.

Friday, January 06, 2012

fff55. Growing hope

Jim looked at the tiny packet on the table in front of him that held so much hope. It was hard to believe that his future might rely on it. Now he was unemployed he might starve if he could not make the seeds grow. He pushed them into the soil and crossed his fingers.

55 words for the G-Man. (With an actual storyline!)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thursday extracts: John Irving on divine retribution

In New England, the Indian chiefs and higher-ups were called sagamores; although, by the time I was a boy, the only sagamore I knew was a neighbor's dog-a male Labrador retriever named Sagamore (not, I think, for his Indian ancestry but because of his owner's ignorance). Sagamore's owner, our neighbor, Mr. Fish, always told me that his dog was named for a lake where he spent his summers swimming-"when I was a youth," Mr. Fish would say. Poor Mr. Fish: he didn't know that the lake was named after Indian chiefs and higher-ups-and that naming a stupid Labrador retriever "Sagamore" was certain to cause some unholy offense. As you shall see, it did. But Americans are not great historians, and so, for years-educated by my neighbor-I thought that sagamore was an Indian word for lake. The canine Sagamore was killed by a diaper truck, and I now believe that the gods of those troubled waters of that much-abused lake were responsible. It would be a better story, I think, if Mr. Fish had been killed by the diaper truck-but every study of the gods, of everyone's gods, is a revelation of vengeance toward the innocent.

From A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1990)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Small stones 2012

I'm not going to play every day this year (that's obvious really, since this is my first and it's already January 4) but I'll drop a few pebbles in the stream.

The last few Christmas lights twinkle forlornly in the January gloom, like the crystals on a jilted bride’s veil.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Back to work

I've written some rubbish today, which is a pity, since I'm paid to write more sense. What's that? Paid to write?  Correct. Although don't get excited all you desperate authors. I am not paid to write fiction. I am supposed to write news. I'm in the middle of producing a newsletter for the charity I work for, and trying madly to find interesting, relevant and vaguely scientific tales to tell. I found a few, but after two weeks of seasonal goodwill my skills were less than honed today.

Nil desperandum. I have words in hand, and will edit viciously in a couple of days when my work ethic returns.