Mandy's Musings

Mandy's Musings

Friday, 10 December 2010

Time’s Up

“Time and tide wait for snowmen I think,” Angelica said looking into the void.

“Not quite, but almost,” Minuteman murmured. “Look stay still and I’ll see what Hourlenion says.”

Angelica watched him fly to a taller snootier Time lord. Momentarily Hourlenion frowned. She couldn't believe it really. Safe passage to the next life depended on getting time related phrases correct.

Minuteman returned. “Look, one last chance, ‘Time flies when..?’

“You’re in the sun!” Angelica said. She was sucked into the black folds of infinity.

Hourlenion shrugged. Technically true but cuts had to be made and the void was cheaper.

Friday, 3 December 2010

No Pasaran!




“So no pasaran means they shall not pass?” Jack said leaning forward so his great-granddad could hear him.

“Yes, it was a phrase of defiance against the Fascists. It started in the Spanish war and lots of us used it to boost our morale when we landed in Normandy in 1944,” Harold croaked watching Jack’s pen dance across a notebook. He was pleased that Jack wanted to record his thoughts and deeds. Youngsters today needed to know the lessons of the past.

“Make sure you don’t tire Harold young man, he is ninety you know,” a carer said placing a hand on Jack’s shoulder.

Jack shrugged her hand away. “Yes I do know that - he is my great-granddad.”
A fake smile slid off her face like melting ice-cream. How dare this kid be so rude, little shit looked a bit dark skinned to her too.

“Ok, only a few more minutes we have to get him fed and washed,” she spat and marched away.

As Jack wrote Harold watched the carer pick up cups and straighten cushions in the day room. She was unremarkable apart from a pock marked face, very short hair and a tattoo which made Harold’s stomach churn in disgust every time he saw it.

Her neck was defiled by a swastika.

The first time he noticed the tattoo it was just sticking up slightly from her collar so he couldn’t be absolutely sure but he’d been ninety nine percent. He’d seen that outline so many times during the war and in his dreams ever since.
When she turned up in a lower neckline he’d seen it in all its foul glory. It throbbed with a life of its own as a vein in her neck delivered putrid blood to her pea brain.

Harold had stared transfixed as the horror of the DD landings trampled blood- shod across his memory. Friends blown apart before his eyes, the stench of shit blood and vomit, inhuman screams of pain curdling his senses.
Harold had at first hoped that she was just very stupid, but last week he’d overhead something that had chilled him to the core. She’d assumed he was sleeping and was on the phone as she sorted his washing.

“Yeah bloody Paki’s deserved it coming on my street thinking they own the fucking place, a few burns will teach ‘em a lesson.” She folded and sorted as if she were talking about the weather.
“Yeah I helped...what did I do?” she lowered her voice, “I’ll tell you...I only poured the petrol didn’t I? Then Gazza lit the thing...went up like a fucking bonfire,” hatred chuckled from her depths. “Serves ‘em right... there ain’t no black in the Union Jack.”

Later after Jack had gone Jez came over and whispered in his ear, “Come on you old bastard, let’s get your filthy arse wiped. Half-cast grandson gone home eh?”

As she bent to release the brake on his wheel chair Harold mustered all his strength.
His walking stick shot out and she fell heavily. Her head smacked down on the marble hearth, and an almost black rivulet of life-blood trickled down her neck blotting out the swastika.

“No Pasaran!” Harold hissed, “No Pasaran!”

Friday, 26 November 2010

Not The Man I Married

Inspector O’Keefe drove out of his street and into the gridlocked traffic. He looked at his watch. 7:50 He should be at his desk by now...he would have been but for his wife.

He drummed his fingers on the wheel and though about her. Emma’s pasty face swam across his consciousness and then bobbed on a gentle swell like a great fat Flounder.
He’d grown to hate that face, to despise every wrinkle, every pore, every...
Red... amber... green ...green...GREEN!!!

A cacophony of car horns blasted her face out of the water triggering O’Keefe into action. He raised a hand in a half-hearted gesture of apology to the car behind and accelerated through the lights.
He rolled his eyes and cursed Emma. She was still causing trouble even though she was at home in the kitchen sitting on her huge fat behind.

She had a degree in sitting on her arse, a Masters in stuffing her face with crap, and a PhD in moaning.

The moaning recently consisted of her saying that he’d become a different man since he’d joined homicide, that he had no time for her, was obsessed with the job, and his favourite – had become psychologically damaged by his daily immersion in murder. Stupid melodramatic cow!

O’Keefe chuckled with cold humour and pulled into his parking space. Well at least when he got home tonight the hole in her face would be silent...but definitely larger than normal.

The twelve bore had seen to that.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Destiny

Suspended in the heavens by black velvet thread, a night like any other heaved a sigh and shed tears of despair.

It was time.

Wood- smoke escaping the campfire snaked around trees as gentle rain caressed two figures silhouetted against the flames.

“Dance with me again,” she pressed play and moved her body seductively against his.
“No you must go now. The old tales are true ...I can feel the change in me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, how could they be?” she smiled up at him.

His eyes glowed yellow, and his lips peeled back revealing dangerous canines.

She stopped smiling.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Nice Guy

The condensation formed droplets on the cafe window chased each other south. Teardrops spilled from her eyes mirroring their path.
Cally’s gaze strayed to his photograph then back to the window.
A waitress came over and picked up her tray.
“Are you alright? I couldn’t help noticing you’re upset.”
Cally shook her head.
“Five years together. We were engaged...”
“What happened?”
“He’s married, wife’s expecting.”
She held up the photograph. “Nice guy huh?”
The waitress looked at the photo.
Cally looked at the waitress’s swollen belly.
Their eyes locked as tragic realisation dawned.
The tray clattered to the floor.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Snake Man

“Quick get up wind, snake man’s coming!”

Ace pushed Josh behind a row of wheelie bins. A finger to the lips silenced Josh’s questions as snake man shuffled along the alley.

Geoffrey Mortimer - snake man, had earned his reptilian moniker for two reasons. One he kept snakes, two he looked remarkably like one. The skin on his face stretched to peeling point over a high boned brow and small flat nose.

A pale tongue tasted the air, darting from dry compressed lips, and his scant hair clung to a shiny liver spotted pate. He stood six three but weighed no more than 10 stone, adding weight (or lack of it) to the overall serpentine appearance.

A tin can found its target with a resounding thump. Geoffrey hissed and dabbed at his head with a filthy handkerchief. Blood. Those little bastards were at it again. His beady black eyes darted around the alley but found no one.

“Why don’t you clear off and leave an old man to go about his business in peace!?” he rasped.

Ace boldly stepped out.

“Because you’re not an old man you’re a snake, and you stink,” he picked up a brick. “It’s up to people like us to clean the streets of scum!”

Lucky for Geoffrey, this time the missile fell short. He hissed again and hurried away.

“I think you went a bit far,” Josh said “You made his head bleed; we were just supposed to scare him.”

“If you want to hang around with me shut up and behave OK?”
Josh nodded. He’d just moved there and he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Ace. Besides, he didn’t like the threatening look in his eye.

“Follow me!” Ace yelled sprinting off.

Ten minutes later they hid in the bushes outside a dilapidated terraced house.
“What are we doing?” panted Josh
“Quiet! Just do as I say.”

Geoffrey appeared seconds later and started to unlock the door. As he turned the handle Ace sprang up pushing him inside. Josh followed.

“What do you want? I’ve no money,” Geoffrey whined.
“You have snake man, and we want it.”

Josh didn’t like the way things were going.

“Ok we scared him, let’s go.”
“Go? No way! This man’s a pet killer, feeds em to his snakes. My dog Shandy went missing the other day.”
“These snakes are too little to eat pets!” Geoffrey pointed to a few docile worms asleep in tanks.
“Give us yer money.”
“I don’t...”
Ace flicked open a knife and speared the nearest snake.

This was enough for Josh - he ran out.

“Ok, please stop! Go through that door and open the door under the rug.”
Ace grinned and went in. He kicked back the rug and wrenched open the trap door.

It took a few minutes for the screams to stop but at last calm was restored. Geoffrey smiled indulgently as the constrictor began to swallow its meat.

“Looks like you won’t be needing that Alsatian for a while eh Boris?”he chuckled.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Mr Blue Sky


Went to the opticians last week and had an eye test. You'd be pretty shocked if I said I had a filling now wouldn't you?

Anyway, apparently I have enlarged optic nerves. That's the important bit at the back of your eye ball that keeps your eyes glued to your brain. The optician said I needed to have photographs taken of the back of my eye to make sure there was no sign of glaucoma.

Well I tell you I nearly fell into one at the very mention of it! (a coma..do keep up). Thing was they couldn't do it 'til the following week. I shouldn't worry too much though she said as every other sign indicated normality - well obviously not complete normality as it is me we're talking about!

So anyway you can imagine all week I was worrying that the photos would show abnormality and I'd been on the Internet looking at all the horrid things associated with enlarged optic nerves. Tumours - all sorts! Too much information - scared myself witless.

This Friday morning I was driving to work - the photos were due to be done later that day. It was a particularly dark morning, cold, drizzly and miserable - I felt that winter had truly arrived. The cars all had their headlights on and every driver's face seemed to reflect my mask of woe.

Then on the radio came the old song Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O. I loved it when it was in the charts when I was a teenager, but since those times have thought it sounded a bit cheesy.

For some reason listening to it again on that miserable morning it lifted my spirits. I half expected the dark clouds to part theatrically allowing the blue to shine through. And you know it is a very good bit of work. The orchestra and the 'bom bom bom' vocals toward the end are brilliant.

Maybe I didn't appreciate it as much when I was younger, maybe it had the advantage of nostalgia, maybe I'm crackers, but I thought... even if the photos bring bad news glaucoma or tumour, something worse I haven't had such a bad run.

I felt grateful for the life I had, and even if my sight failed I started to remember all the fantastic sights I had seen over the years.Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Pacific Ocean rollers, too many more to mention and of course the faces of my wonderful family and friends.

By the time I arrived at school (work) I felt sooo much better. Even the miserable drivers I passed on the way cheered up and began to sing along waving their arms in time to E.L.O.(no not really, that bit is a fib)

Well anyhow - the photos were duly taken that afternoon and thankfully they were OK! I have to keep my eye on them (pun was intended) and have the photos done every 3 years or so, but apart from that all is well.

So thanks E.L.O and I'll never think you were cheesy ever again, promise :)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Aphrodite

I once read that an ‘upwelling’ was an oceanographic term describing the movement of nutrients to the surface of the water.
This phenomenon brings shoals of fish in huge numbers to feast on the bounty.

I was witnessing the human equivalent.

Her tanned body slipped from the pool.

Rivulets silver in the moonlight trickled from golden hair to breasts and hips - a liquid accentuation of curves.

A feeding frenzy of would be suitors offered towels, champagne and adoration.

She declined. I had her sole attention, her hand and her marriage vows.

They snapped their jaws and hunted elsewhere.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Writer

“So you didn’t win again? Not even bloody shortlisted! Give it up for God’s sake!”

He logged off and headed downstairs, but her demanding rant followed - drilled into his brain.

“How much have you chucked away this month on these bloody stupid competitions? “

“Not that much, a fiver here a fiver there,” he switched the radio on to drown her out.

It didn’t work.

“Yes but it all adds up doesn’t it eh? Have you seen those bills piling up over there since you decided to go part-time so you could swan about pretending to be a writer? ’I must follow my dream’ you say, all shiny eyed. You’re hardly sodding Martin Luther King are you?
And all the time you chuck good money after bad, month after month on these scribbling you call stories. They must see you coming and laugh all the way to the bank!”

“OK, I’ll cut back a bit, perhaps just enter two next month,” he poured a good glug of red and dived into it.

“Oh and when have we heard that one before huh? You can’t help yourself. It’s like you’re addicted, telling yourself you have a good feeling about a ‘story’...yup, this is the one. You’re like a broken record. What’s the old song by Tony Bennett? How’s it go now? Oh yeah, ‘maybe this time I’ll be lucky , maybe this time I’ll win’...well you don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance, so quit it.”

He ran his fingers through his hair and poured another.

“And you can forget buying that stuff soon as well. Wallowing in booze and self-pity is too expensive. In fact, go to see the boss on Monday, ask him if you can have the extra hours back. It’s time you came to your senses before we end up living under the bloody viaduct in a cardboard box!”

“There’s still the novels...I’m waiting on a couple of agents.”

“Oh please! If you can’t make it with the scribblings what chance do you have with novels?”

“For God’s sake shut up!” he threw the glass against the wall and fled back upstairs.

“Oh that’s mature. Artistic temperament is it? More like a bloody kid’s tantrum if you ask...”

He slammed the door cutting off his nagging conscience in mid rant.
At last a bit of quiet.

He took a deep breath and started typing.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Avalanche

Colossal she’d called him.

He could handle lard ass, chubster, even blubber boy, but colossal was going one step beyond.

That step took him from pleasant obedient Alfie - lap poodle, to resentful vicious Alfonso - Rottweiler.

In his head of course, it was always only in his head. The things he’d pictured doing to her when he was Alfonso couldn’t be voiced - he’d be carted off to the secure unit.


Part of him secretly longed for that though. The padded cell, the protection of the straight jacket – she couldn’t get to him there, wound him with her throw away lacerations.

From the plush carpet he picked discarded clothing and dirty underwear, relishing their silky feel on his skin before depositing them in the laundry.

“For God’s sake blubber boy; you’re such a disgusting excuse for a human being!” she shouted from the bathroom.

“What do you mean?” he asked, already realising she’d seen him lingering over her knickers through the mirror.

“You know what I mean. Mind you that’s as close as you’ll ever get to a woman intimately, you being the size of a row of houses an all.”

“I’m not that fat Cassandra!”

“Wanna bet? If you got on top of a girl she’d feel like she’d been crushed by avalanche! Now book me that taxi I’ve to be at the studio in an hour, and make sure my liposuction’s sorted for tomorrow.”

Liposuction ... she looked like a stick insect already.
Nevertheless she was his stick insect and he worshipped her. He’d been her personal slave for the last five years, tending to her every need and whim.

Alfie loved that she needed him. That would have to be enough. He put up with her cruelty just to be near her.

She breezed in “Move aside… God, you really are colossal these days!”

Colossal again. Alfonso strained at the leash, his lips peeled back revealing razor sharp teeth.

“Come on move it lard ass or I’ll have to think of replacing you …”

Replacing him? Never! The leash snapped releasing the Rottweiler.

Suddenly she was under him.

Her eyes popped in horror as his massive weight crushed the breath from her.
Fat fingers pinched her nose and covered her mouth, her pitiful kicks made no impression on his bulk.

She lay still.

Suddenly the Rottweiler morphed to poodle.

“Cassandra?”

Nothing.

“Cassandra!”

The silence was overwhelming, massive... colossal.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Words

I found out about Flash fiction only about a year ago. Well, when I say I found out about it, I kind of knew what it was as it popped up in competitions and such, but I'd previously dismissed the concept.

I couldn't see the point of squeezing a story into a word count of 500 words or below? Some Flash fiction can be of a 1000 words, but generally it tends to be fewer.

It seemed to me as if the whole thing was just about playing a literary game for the sake of it. Some pieces of flash I read seemed meaningless and flat, yet others I began to realise were very well executed.

What made these better pieces stand out was that every word counted. Each word had been carefully selected and considered to create maximum impact. The writer of Flash is denied the luxury to faff and frill around the edges of a story because of the word count.In order to engender the reader's empathy, invoke emotion, or induce a belly laugh, the words used must be tailor made for the task.

I had a few cracks at it, and I must say I really enjoyed the challenge. It became more than a literary game for it's own sake, and I found it really helped me focus on the message/meaning of the story. I tend to always have a message/meaning somewhere in my writing as I guess if it means nothing to me, why should it mean anything to anyone else?

Words have the power to sometimes change lives, the course of history, or just bring a smile to a sad face. We should harness that power in many different ways to enrich our lives.

At the moment I'm enjoying the Flash experience!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Hay Day

Yes, I know you normally say heyday, but if you read on you'll understand.

On the 4th of June 2010 I attended the Hay-on Wye Guardian Literary Festival. I had my first short-story in print published in Gentle Footprints by Bridge House publishing.This charity anthology was created to raise funds and awareness for the Born Free Foundation. There is a foreword by Virginia McKenna OBE and a new story was written especially for it by Richard Adams author of Watership Down.

When I found out my story was to be included back in January I was over the moon! When I later discovered that we would be launched at Hay-on Wye I couldn't believe it! Then I was told the authors would get to meet Virginia McKenna...well you can imagine what I thought.

All of us were asked if we wanted to read an extract and I volunteered without hesitation. What possessed me I will never know.Debz from Bridge house said we may not get a chance as it was a tight schedule, and not to get our hopes up too much.

The 4th of June was absolutely perfect, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We drove over from Bristol in the morning and my tummy was full of elephants doing cartwheels when my husband Brian and I arrived at The Swan to meet the rest of the authors and Virginia.


I needn't have worried as everyone was really lovely and Virginia was great. She signed my copy and asked me to sign hers! She chatted to me for some time and really put me at ease. Gill James from Bridge House asked if I was still up for reading an extract of my story. Paul Blezard who was interviewing Virginia said that there was just enough time for three of us to read for just under two minutes. I said 'Yep no problem', then she told me there was likely to be about a thousand people in the audience!

I was a bit nervous obviously, but to be honest I was calmer than I had a right to be. I reasoned that I would never have that chance again and should take all I could from that wonderful experience.

We had to go back stage and there were lots of sound people and such running about. Paul Blezard back ask who wanted to be first up and I volunteered again! He said that after he'd interviewed Virginia for a while, she'd then read her foreword and then he'd call my name and I should go up and straight to the lectern.

I was OK until the last few minutes waiting in the wings, then the elephants came back cartwheeling and dancing for all they were worth. My heart was actually trying to escape my rib cage when I heard my name, but up I went.

Thankfully the lights were so bright I couldn't actually see anyone in the audience and I just got on with it. The nerves went as soon as I opened my mouth. Everyone
said how well I did and was very proud of myself I don't mind saying.

Later we went to the book signing and a few people asked for my autograph on their copies! I couldn't believe it really, me being asked for my autograph for crying out loud. It was so exciting. A few said they had enjoyed my reading too - I was on cloud 9!

The whole day was so fantastic I didn't want it to end. It had to unfortunately, but I will always have brilliant memories to look back on.

I hope I get chance to do something like that again sometime. As a writer it made me feel like I had achieved so much. It also encouraged me to keep plugging away at my goal to become a published novelist one day.

You never know... stranger things have happened :)

Friday, 10 September 2010

War Babies


My dad is going to be 82 in December, and my mum 83 this month. No great rarity these days you may say and you'd be right.




People now are living well into their 90s and beyond, often free of serious illness too.

But when you stop to think about it, it's pretty incredible really that people like my parents are still muddling through.

I mean just think about their childhood.They were 11 and twelve respectively in 1939 when war broke out. The year after saw Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain and the first Blitz.

They both lived in Sheffield which was hit pretty badly during the Blitz as it was a large industrial city. Both sets of grandparents decided against evacuation, so as a result my mum and dad lived through the worst of it.

I'm not sure children of today (and indeed adults)could conceive of what it must have been like for them. Their education was interrupted as schools were bombed and they had to have lessons in different houses each day.Sleep was disrupted nightly as the banshee wail of the sirens called them to the shelter, or cellar. Mum says it was awful particularly in winter when you'd just got warm in bed and then had to get up in the freezing cold.

My dad moved house in the Blitz and the day after, his old house was completely flattened. Another time he and his friends were playing in the old bombed out buildings and they pulled a curtain aside in a doorway. Looking back at them was a dead man, eyes open, but with lots of tiny blood vessels patterning his face. He had been killed by the blast.

My mum knew a lady who lived down her street who had lustrous auburn hair. That was how they identified her after an air raid. Her lovely hair was practically all that was left of her.

They never had counselling, they were expected to just get on with it. Counselling didn't exist back then, well not for the likes of my parents anyhow.

Dad gets a bit nervous now when he drives, but he is still able and competent. His car needed to go into the garage the other day, and it was in an area of Bristol which was unfamiliar to him. He followed in his car behind my husband in our car. As I watched him drive away with grim determination on his face, I had to admire him.

When he was a kid there was no space exploration, very little air travel, no Internet in fact no computers, microwaves, TV (well only for a few)and all the things we take for granted now. The roads were also much emptier and less complicated to negotiate.

The impact of war on his formative years and on thousands like him, coupled with the rapid expansion of technology and the speed of life now makes my experience pretty tame. In comparison to the lives of the war babies, mine has been a charmed existence.

Of course I realise I have seen great changes too and that everything is relative. When and if I get to be an octogenarian things will have raced on again.

One thing that will mark my old age out from my dad's is I had a much better start. When I was 11 I didn't go to bed wondering if I'd wake up the next day, or live in fear of a Nazi invasion. I think that sometimes people just forget just how horrific it must have been living through it all.

Unfortunately some old people today are shoved away into underfunded and under staffed hospitals and homes, and seen as useless unproductive members of society.
Well I'd like to take my hat off to the war babies and those who fought too.

I can't begin to know what they went through, and I'm eternally thankful that I never had to know.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Blog a Day

I have not blogged for three whole days and am thoroughly ashamed
of myself:(

When I started a week and a half ago I was determined to do a blog a day.
Why a blog a day? Because it keeps the apple away. Hang on...no that's not right is it? It seems like my brain is becoming addled weak and feeble as I type.




It's my own fault really for being lazy and bloggless. To blog is to be healthy, alert and sharp witted. Not to blog is ...er...what was I saying just then?
Oh dear, I really am getting in a muddle. Just wait a minute, there's someone knocking on the door.

Turned out to be a door to door blogger selling the blogger's bible. I thought I'd better buy it. Now let's see what's contained therein.

Oh, well, that's not so bad then. I've just looked at the rules of blogging section and found that it isn't vital to blog every day, but only when you have something interesting to say. Thank goodness, I don't feel nearly so bad now.

If you are still reading...that'll larn ya! Ha!

No really, I'm grateful to you for taking an interest. I hope too that you have internalised the moral of this particular blog.

If you have, then please let me know what it is;)

Yours esoterically, and possibly hysterically,

M xx

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Last Man Syndrome


As long as I can remember I have always kicked against doing anything I didn't want to do. I hate having to be at a certain place at a certain time and feeling trapped once I am there.

When I was a kid, I'd always be the last one walking through the school gates, my school bag dragging behind me along with my bottom lip.
When I'd left school I used to get a lift in to work with my brother and his girlfriend. I'd always be the 'last man' out of bed and into the car. It wasn't as if I hated school or my job as a hairdresser, it was just the having to do it there and then. Mind you thinking about it I did hate school.

Later when I went back into education to get A levels and a degree it wasn't so bad. It was my choice, so I guess that was why I didn't resent it.
I went into teaching for 14 years and 'last man syndrome' crept back pretty quickly.

I kind of liked it for the first five years or so, because teaching is not as soul destroying as some jobs. I worked in a factory for a while packing drill bits so I do know what I'm talking about.

Then the old nagging started. A little voice in my head would say stuff like 'Bloody school bells, my life is governed by bells!' or stuff like, 'You have only got one life and you're spending it in the same building day after day, year after year...'

Lucky for me I was able to pack it all in for 18 months. I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer and it was brilliant. Last man syndrome was banished and I felt in control of my life, well as much as anyone can be on a shoe string budget. Bells, clocks and deadlines were a thing of the past.

I had to bite the bullet and return to the chalk face in January and boy did that hurt.The students are nice, and so are the part-time hours, but the last man syndrome is alive and kicking once more. I need to do some work for Monday tomorrow but I expect I'll find a few diversions until I can put it off no longer.I wish I could just accept having to go out to work like thousands of others have to.

I don't expect I'll ever get used to being made to do something I don't want to though.
The alarm clock will wake me early on Monday, and later I expect I'll be the last in at the school gate, my bag dragging behind me... along with my bottom lip.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Ignorance is Bliss

#Friday Flash
Barry was really glad that nobody was around when his head exploded.
They’d been telling him all his life that he thought about everything too much, and that no good would ever come of it.

Ever since he was a little boy he’d asked the obligatory questions about why the world was round, the sky blue and such, but he’d never been satisfied with the answers.
Immediately upon hearing them he’d say ‘but why wasn’t it designed to be square or triangular even?’ and ‘yes but what exactly makes it blue?’

His parents imagined that when he grew up he’d grow out of it. Their imagination was way off beam. They watched helplessly as Barry became a solitary young man, Gollumesque from always skulking indoors hidden from sunlight.
He poured over mountains of books and became glued to his computer in his tireless quest for answers.

Barry realised that others thought he was a geek, a freak, a weirdo. One day he’d show them. He’d find out the meaning of life, the origin of the universe, and everything that the most eminent scientists of today were still puzzling over. He’d be hailed the greatest brain in history and everyone would worship at his altar.

It would have happened too if he’d not ignored his instincts.

An hour ago Barry was on the brink of discovering who made God. The question that everyone has heard at one time or another, ‘if God made the universe, who made God?’ was almost at his fingertips. He then had a very bad feeling sweep over him like an angel of death.
Every fibre of his being said leave this alone Barry, walk away Barry, this secret is meant to remain just that for all eternity. If you expose it you may not be around to tell the tale.
Did he listen? Did he hell.

Under his arm was a piece of paper. Evidence that would rock the world once he reached the Royal Society buildings.

Now look at him. Here he was, a human version of Humpty Dumpty, the shell of his egg head spiralling skyward, fragmenting and expanding - speeding into the stratosphere and the distant universe beyond.

His last thought was ‘I wonder why the guy with the long white beard looks so pissed off.”

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Happy September

Lots of people on Facebook voted for for my story, so really happy about the support. One or two commented that they really enjoyed it too.

Just got an email from the site to say I have been commended for having the most votes in 24hrs! So hopefully that can only help!So September has kicked off well in that respect.

I'm off to finish a piece of flash fiction now about a man who's head explodes because he thinks too much.

See you soon.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Woke up this morning a teensy bit grumpy. Didn't sleep too well and I have to return to school tomorrow.
It's only an Inset day (or insect day as I prefer to call it), but it signals the end of having my my full-time writer's head on.

I told myself 'carpe diem', (see last post to make full sense of this), and switched on my trusty laptop.

My day got a whole lot brighter when I saw two really nice comments from strangers about two of my stories on the Shortbread Stories website.

It continued to shine, when later on Nina from Prima Magazine put my link about a short story on their Twitter page. Prima has over 1,000 followers and hopefully some of them will read it. Just in case you would like to vote for it here it is. http://authortrek.com/short-stories/2010/08/31/against-all-odds-by-mandy-k-james/
Thanks to anyone reading this who did vote too.

This kindness just reaffirmed my belief that most people are goodies, and that they will try to give you a leg up when they can, rather than kick you in the shins.

Hope this little ray of sunshine will continue tomorrow morning when I hear the banshee wail of the alarm clock!

Bye for now :)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?


I watched a few old home videos over the weekend. Brian my husband has been trying to put them onto DVD, but it takes up so much time.

On the question of time, who knows where it goes?

On the holiday videos we all look so young, yes I know that's because we were.

Though you forget don't you until you see a youthful face looking out at you from a long ago scene.

The wedding video was the most telling. Some of the people on it are now departed, and my daughter now twenty eight and expecting a baby was a child herself back then. Her cousin has a one year old now, but then aged nine was concerned with showing the camera a crooked tooth.

The thing is, it's all a bit scary. It was 17 years ago but it seems like yesterday, well OK perhaps a bit longer but you get my drift.

Bettte Davis once said 'Old age ain't no place for sissies' and I think she was right. I'm not old yet but at the rate the time is galloping past I soon will be.
Whoever said the carpe diem thing was right too. We need to make the most of every day and go for it. Each day is precious and should be seized and shaken 'til every last second has been scattered productively across life's fertile fields...hey, that's a bit poetic isn't it?

I may be getting older but I have lots to look forward to, especially the arrival of my first grandchild early next year.

Any road up, today I did a rewrite on one of my stories and bunged it into another competition at the last minute. I wasn't going to bother but, you have to be in it to win it I guess. It's up to me what I make of each day.

I wonder how I'll be feeling in another 17 years time? I guess that will be up to me too.

Yours philosophically

M x

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Of Mice and Cats


Morning everyone.

I am especially qualified to say this today as I have been up for most of it. I'm still in my dressing gown as we speak, can you believe it? What do you mean yes?

Anyhow, I went to the loo at 5.30 as you do, and our cat Sebastian was crouched over the bathroom scales. Now I know he's overweight, but I'm not sure he's that concerned about it.

His tail was twitching and he looked at me for help. That look told me there was some poor unfortunate creature hiding under the scales. Now me, I hide from the bathroom scales.
When I looked sure enough there was a little mouse looking up obviously scared sh...well you know how much. If not I'll tell you in a minute.

I went back to the bedroom and got my empty drinking glass (yes water glass in case you are wondering), found a bit of card, and returned armed to rescue the thing.

Luckily Sebastian by now had decided to go outside as he was bored with the whole process.It was relatively easy to catch it for once. On past mouse hunts I have had to tip all the sofas over to retrieve them. This time I just caught it in the glass and put the card on top.It was a weird little creature. It had a pale face and brown body. Any ideas what type it could be?

Out I went in my dressing gown, (yes the same one as I'm wearing now)), to the top of the garden and tipped the poor thing under the shed. When I looked in the glass on the way back down the path it had sent me a message about how scared it actually was!

I wonder why we share our lives with these predators? They are such a nuisance.But then have a look at the photos of my babies (cats) on the blog and you'll see why we do.

At least the mouse was only under the scales not in my boot as it was last winter.
Not a good start to the day rushing to work and then finding something wriggling under your foot is it?

Well I'd better get dressed as it is nearly noon after all.

TTFN x

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Who am I?

I have often ask myself this question!

I am a writer first and foremost but teach part-time to pay the mortgage.

Well at last I have decided to start a blog. My husband Brian has been on at me for ages to do it but I thought it was a bit pretentious. I mean yes I've had a short story published as you can see from my photo, but I'm hardly J K Rowling.
Recently though other friends of mine have blogs for lots of different reasons. Some use them as a place to voice their opinions and to chat to other like minded people. I like to do both those things so here I am.

I was and still am immensely proud of my first success in print though (you can't tell that from the photo can you?), and I have quite a few short stories online. I had a story in Prima in June too.

Hopefully when I have got the hang of this blogging thing I'll put my stories on here . I have written two novels and have nearly finished a third. I of course would love to see them published, so I live in hope of that.

I have recently discovered the wonderful world of Twitter too.
Hang on, does that sound like an owl? Anyway, if any of my new Twitter friends or indeed any of my old friends would like to follow this blog then please feel free!

Back soon x