Friday, July 19, 2013

Thinking 10: three words: Bee, father, debit card

It’s a new bank account. I got fed up with the way the last bank was behaving and told them when they increased their fees that I would take my business elsewhere. Their reply was the equivalent of an electronic shrug of the shoulders: an email informing me of a 40 per cent price hike on the 17th. Well ha! I left the bank I’d been with since I first started work; the one my father was with before me.
I’ve just received the debit card for my new account but it’s a boring little bit of plastic with no decent distinguishing marks. When I was looking round for where to take my custom I found some very pretty bank logos: one had a bee on the corner of its cards; one even allowed you  to put your own photo on. In the end I went with the cheapest one. The one that would charge me less than the rest and not rip me off for services I don’t need.

“With our great deals you can download music files for a reduced price.” What’s less than zero? I don’t buy MP3 files, so how can that save me money? 
“You can get 10 per cent off London theatre tickets.”  It might as well be Dubai for all I care. So I’ll get fifteen quid off a ticket and have to pay 130 to get to the Smoke to see the play, not to mention another 130 for an overnight hotel room because I’ll have missed the last train home if I stay to see the end.

Thank you and goodbye Mr Bank Manager.  Hello boring, but cheap, plastic.

Thinking 10 is a daily challenge to write for 10 minutes based on a challenge. In this case, use the words bee, father, and debit card.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Never truly random

The human mind cannot comprehend true randomness. Our very natures seek for reasons and patterns to explain disasters that affect thousands.  Earthquakes, floods, eruptions, wildfires, all have scientific causes, and when we cannot calculate them, we call them acts of God. (Although, what kind of god wreaks so much havoc on so many souls to prove his power?)
But real disasters overwhelm millions more every day. Small but devastating events are happening all around us. A lost job, a parent’s death, a fatal diagnosis, ruin one, or a few, lives and the rest of the world goes on, indifferently, unaware of the destruction; leaving the sufferer to cry ‘why me?’

Just some thoughts after reading the news over the last few days.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A description

If you read yesterday's Thursday Extract you know that I rarely write descriptions of places. 
So I did one for Thinking Ten. 

The housing blocks were arranged in a square; rigid, upright and unforgiving, unbroken by any variation, unsoftened by any landscaping. Just four grey, concrete slabs, like gravestones: their windows etched a forlorn message in some foreign tongue, punctuated by graffiti. At their heart was a scrubby patch of worn-out grass, more khaki than green, surrounded by a sagging fence. Wooden uprights supported metal poles that bent in the centre from years of children's climbing games and teenage loitering. They made the place look like a boxing ring in a deserted gym, its canvas floor scuffed by endless sparring. Only a second floor curtain, the colour of cough medicine, brightened the monotony.

Challenge to include the words: boxing, curtain, cough medicine

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday extracts:The view

Where the road descends from the summit, the whole valley opens out, hills sweeping back as far as the eye can see to a range of lavender mountains pasted against the rim of the sky. The August heat shimmered in silence. The land seemed vast and primitive, looking as it must have looked for thousands of years. In the distance, live oaks dotted the landscape, as snaggy and dark and hunched as buffalo.

C is for Corpse
Sue Grafton


I rarely do scenery descriptions in my work. Perhaps I should attempt a few.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swings and Roundabouts

I could have sworn everything was bigger, but that's the way it is with childhood memories. I was smaller, so the world around me loomed larger than it does today. But, sitting on the bench, I wonder how I could have wasted so much time here. This was a centre point of my life, the hub of my universe, where I would hang around, night after night, hoping that the big kids would take some notice of me. I was younger than them, and smaller, and often overlooked. Most times I was driven away for being a nuisance, for needing to be looked after, and for being too babyish to join in with their fun. They rarely let me take part in anything, and I was left, disconsolate, swaying miserably on the swings as they wandered away and pretended to be grown up.
The place won't be here much longer because the bulldozers will be moving in soon. The site is being razed to make way for a new bypass, and this is where two roads will intersect. It didn't have to be so. The route could have missed this playground, and a small row of houses nearby, where two of my old antagonists lived until very recently. But the design ensured the doom. I don't suppose they realise the end of their homes and their treasured recreation ground came about directly because of their old hostility.

I left this village a long time ago, went to university and trained as an architect, and now I design roads. I designed this one, and I've made sure that what I lost on the swings all those years ago has been regained through a new roundabout.

Based on a Thinking Ten prompt

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Thursday Extracts: an Oriental viewpoint

In the third century AD was written the Lieh-tzu. In this book, Yang Chu says: ‘There are four things which do not allow people to have peace.
‘The first is long life, the second is reputation, the third is rank, and the fourth is riches.
‘Those who have these things fear ghosts, fear men, fear power, and fear punishment.’

Blade of Grass, the things you want are the things you do not want.
Hear the ancient story of the man who knew what he wanted.
He was walking by the riverside when he saw an Immortal. The man was very curious. He looked at the person from Heaven.
‘I suppose you want something special from me?’ said the Immortal.
‘Yes,’ said the man.
The Immortal touched a stone with his finger. It changed to gold. He said: ‘You can take.’
The man did not go. He stayed.
‘Do you want something more?’ said the Immortal.
‘Yes,’ said the man.
The Immortal touched three rocks nearby. They turned to gold. He said: ‘You can take.’
But the man still did not go.
The Immortal said: ‘What do you want? What is more valuable than gold?’
The man said: ‘I want something very ordinary.’
The Immortal said: ‘What do you want?’
The man said: ‘Your finger.’

The Feng Shui Detective
Nury Vittachi
Allen & Unwin