Category Archives: Stories
“There are times when I feel like I have no talent…no talent at all”
I was fortunate enough to attend a ‘rehearsed read through’ of Britten’s Got Talent at Framlingham College on Sunday. I was very keen to see this; local writer Robin Brooks, who has had numerous plays on Radio 4, has written a satirical comedy based on Benjamin Britten’s life in Aldeburgh. I wasn’t sure what the play would be like, but was delighted to find the type of techniques that would work well on radio incorporated into the play; mixing timelines from Britten’s working life to the modern-day with ease. The piece is gently humorous, part innuendo and part cleverly playing with today’s attitudes to homosexuality as much as with views that may have existed in Britten’s own time.
The actors took their roles very well, Keith Hill was gloriously angst ridden and Jonathan Hansler played more characters than I have hot dinners in a week; showing an amazing ability to change from lover to mother, from elderly judge to boy. I was very impressed by Sam Bell who plays a young boy, so effective and very well done. I am looking forward to seeing the production at the New Wolsey Studio in Ipswich from 20th November the full version with music by Matthew Sheeran should be a delight. Well done to Fiona McAlpine and team for a very enjoyable evening.
ps added value to going on 22nd or 23rd matinees they’ll have cake!
Many thanks to Fiona for the photos from a later rehearsal.
This is one of those longer posts, so – feel free to skip to the bit you came looking for:
Pieku – Haiku on Pies, 0r Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners, or ‘Dispersal’ – a short story
Pieku – Haiku on Pies
You will find elsewhere in this blog reference to Brays Cottage, the Perfect Pie Company. One of my first ever ‘Pop-up’ assignments was helping Sarah on her stall, I’ve written a silly screenplay in the past too. This weekend has seen a little activity that has taken over twitter in a big way and I love the way that Sarah can take a batty idea and run with it – introducing the Pieku. It started when she asked me for the origins of the nursery rhyme Georgie, Porgie Pudding and Pie; I pulled out my copy of the Opie’s book on nursery rhymes and quoted back a few lines. Then overnight my brain was clearly working away on the idea of rhymes and pies I woke up with Pieku forming; Pie based Haiku. I tweeted one to Sarah and she started a competition (it ends tonight – Sunday so get in quick for a personalised pie to the winner), they seem to be coming in at one every 10 minutes at the moment!
Here are some of the ones I have written – I try to stick with the 5,7,5 – cutting word and seasonal reference.
Knife through golden crust
Reveal inner soul, hearty
Blanket spread on ground
Wanton luscious pie
Mustard bit on side devour
Jelly optional consume
Hot crust raised up high
Chorizo filling warming
Not all pies are cold
If you have Pieku forming tweet them to Sarah @Brays_Cottage
Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners
Janathon 2012 has been a wonderful stimulus to get me moving again this year, but I failed miserably in the blogging and logging. Finally I think I’ve reached the stage where for me, as long as I do the exercise, I’m happy and don’t feel the need to log it all the time. This is progress. I am really thankful to Kathy for starting the ball rolling and I have taken up running which is another new activity and paying dividends. Although, you’ll understand by the picture above why I haven’t run or swum today. I am also really grateful to the fellow Janathoners who encourage and support and dare I say it the PlankPolice who riddle me with guilt!
Dispersal – a short story
This is my latest piece of homework for the writing workshop I attend. The task again was to allow the dialogue to do some of the narration, it is also designed to be read out loud for a ‘performance’ later in the year; let me know what you think…
The day I first visited here, a hoar frost was still hanging in the trees at mid-morning, thick fog had dogged us for days. Cloud Farm was boarded up and virtually derelict. When I opened the oak door I was disappointed that as it swung back it was silent, not the heart stopping creak I was expecting. It should not have been possible, but the air inside the tiled hall was even colder than outside. The door to the right led me into a large sitting room. As I entered the room the only light was forcing itself through tiny holes in dark sheeting tacked up to the windows. I struggled to find my way to one of them, and tore at the corner of the fabric; it made an echoing, ripping sound as it split.
“Stupid girl,” I turned at the sound of the quiet voice, “put that back, there’s no light allowed in here.” I attempted to hook the fabric back into position but there was no way it would stay put.
“Sorry?” I said tentatively, “I didn’t mean to cause offence; I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.”
“There isn’t,” said the voice.
The solicitor had warned me that that in addition to dereliction, the house was reputed to be haunted. He probably thought I was joking when I told him that was fine because I grew up with them.
I moved towards the voice, “You’re the colour of amber,” I said, she had the sheen and consistency of manuka honey, fresh from the fridge.
“You’re not frightened of me then?” she said.
I moved towards her, a small table at her side held a deeply grooved board with what looked like a single large marble balanced towards the end. Suddenly my foot landed on another marble and I started to slide inexorably towards her.
“Don’t knock the table,” she called out weakly. I resisted the temptation to put a hand out and instead drifted into her, landing on my backside with my eyes at her knee level.
“Oh my god, what happened to your legs? They are so tattered, they look chewed, are they sore?”
“Stupid girl; I can’t feel anything anymore. The damage was done after I collapsed; I was unconscious for two days before I died. The rats got me.” She seemed calmly philosophical about it.
As I attempted to get up, my fingers touched another marble. I lifted it as I rose and turned it in my hand.
“An eye,” I said, “Are they all eyes?”
“Yes would you mind picking them up and putting them in the rack?” she asked.
“Of course; such a variety, I like this one, a beautiful sapphire blue, how unusual.”
“It’s the only one that matches my natural eye colour” As I looked at her now though, she had no colour other than amber.
“Could you help me fit it?” she asked. I lifted the eye-ball up to her face; she had no temperature, as I felt for the outline of the eye socket.
“You don’t feel of anything, I can just sense differences of resistance, is this a bony ridge?” I asked.
“Yes just press the ball in and it should sit there.” For a moment, with her sapphire eye, she was complete.
Then she sighed, “Stupid girl.” The fog was clearing outside, more light streamed into the room and as the temperature lifted I looked at her.
“Your eye; it’s slipping.” It slid down inside her face and fell out of the bottom of her jaw, hitting the ground with a dull thud and rolling to the skirting board.
“Dispersal,” she said “When I warm up I start to melt away, it takes so much energy to rebuild myself when it’s cool enough…” and with that she seemed to dissolve in front of my eyes, and hers; trickling through the cracks in the floorboards. Just an eccentric collection of glass eyes on a side table remained.
I moved back to the window and let in more light, then saw the note pinned to the wall.
If you are reading this, Cloud Farm is about to become yours. Charlotte and I have lived peacefully together for nearly thirty years. She lives in the walk-in fridge mostly. Each time she retires there we agree when she will next emerge. We have had some successes. So far we have found the final resting place of four of the rats who chewed at her limbs and have garnered quite a bit of her form. We have learnt that two degrees Celsius is the critical temperature, any higher than that and she starts to disperse, any lower and she is too stiff to move. You must turn the air conditioning to its lowest setting and raise the fridge to two degrees for twenty-four hours before she is due to come out; check the whiteboard on the wall for the next date. On no account attempt to bring her out if the air temperature is above two degrees. There are still more rat bodies to find, or potentially the rats that ate those rats. Also her original eye; she lost it cutting wood, but taking her outside is so risky and the emotions so painful, we have agreed to leave that until last. You see, like all spirits she cannot pass over and finally release her particles until she is complete. At least her imperfections are physical, it is so much harder for those whose damage is emotional, they may never recover and remain here forever.
Look after Charlotte; she is essentially good, just damaged.
That which dies does not drop out of the world. Here it remains; and here too, therefore it changes and is resolved into its several particles; that is into the elements which go to form the universe and yourself. They themselves likewise undergo change, and yet from them comes no complaint. – Marcus Aurelis
For #12DCP folks this is my belated Ghost Story
Spotify Playlist of the Day– Janus Blowing in the Wind
The 12 Days of Christmas Party is over and whilst my good friends are rushing around trying to fill their comments in for the draw I am reflecting whilst looking forwards, starting a New Year with challenges. The first is the weather, after the raw cold of last year it is unseasonally mild and very windy, the catkins are fully out. I’ve just checked back to last year’s photos and it was 25th January last year when I was taking similar pictures. Whilst it’s great not to have the ice underfoot for learning to run, the very stiff winds have put me off cycling. Hopefully I will do much more on the bike next week.
Yesterday I failed to do a Janathon activity so have made up for it today with two. This morning I did my final walk/run in my couch to 5K with the Get Running App on the iPhone. Then this evening I went to Framlingham College Pool for a swim and did an 800m swim to help team China on their way to Olympic gold (we are currently ahead!).
Tomorrow I will announce who has won the mystery prize in the #12DCP, which then gives me a week to try and write my Ghost story. The lovely @Jaydubblah has alread written hers and you can read it here.
Today I attended my second local writing group, I’m really enjoying these sessions, the current focus is on dialogue and dialect. We have been discussing the extent to which the text should accurately reflect dialects or just indicate them. We had been set homework, which was to write a piece where the dialogue tells what is going on. I decided to take this both literally and figuratively with a bit of an Argentine Tango, see what you think: –
The tablecloth was tied around her waist to indicate a skirt and his shirt was open to the bottom button.“Lean in to me, your hip should make contact yust here on my pocket,” he said. “Our noses should be touching – and look at me.” She looked. Garlic sweat poured from his forehead.
“What next? I’ve got bloody cramp from these heels.”
“Retht your left leg on the back of your right leg; now as my legs cross I will drag you to the side. Good, now we rise; your weight transfers back and your right leg is free. Whip your knee up into my hand and when you drop it back plathe your foot between my feet like a thandwidge. Now giro; turn.”
“Did you have to pinch my knee then?” she winced at her own reflection in the full height mirror, flushed skin and a frizz of hair. The village hall smelt of damp, there were lumps of soil scattered by the football team’s boots earlier in the day. She wondered why she had agreed to this ‘treat’ from her boyfriend, who would now be propping up the bar at the Parrot and Punchbowl.
“Lean back, your hair should nearly sweep the floor.”
“It’s covered in crap,” she sighed.
“Just do it, trust me; I’ll support your weight. As you swing come up and look at me again; fix my eyes.”
“Less of the weight, cheeky. Christ that hurts,” she pulled herself up to her full height and attempted to stretch out her spine.
“Then we walk, figure of eight ocho, at the end, rest, lean and quick flick or your leg around mine, gancho. Perfetto, then I push you back upright, I stroke your face then lock my eyes on yours. Now back away. Thrusting your hands down to the floor like I shewed you. OK, I put the music on now.” He pressed the iPod in the huge boombox and started the track.
“Ready?” he breathed.
“So; lean on my pocket, look at my eyes.” She looked, they were deep and dark, with a glint where the light reflected on his contact lens. He fixed on her eyes, their noses almost touched.
“Oh. My. God. You’re strong.”
“Good, you should trust me, fix my eyes. Ok rethst your left leg, I drag, rise; Knee up, I grip. Thandwich feet, giro, lean back, I pull you up towards me. Ocho, then rest, lean and now – gancho, flick your leg around mine.”
“Like this?” she asked.
“Si, yes, but firmer, then away quickly like it was too hot not slow like a dodman. Now, upright, I stroke your face, lock your eyes, you back away thrusting your hands towards the floor.”
The damp of the hall was melting away, the music suffused her sinews, the air was slowly being exchanged with the atmosphere of Plazzo Dorrego, Buenos Aires.
She took a swig from her water bottle and looked across the room at him. The music restarted and he put out his hand, as she moved towards him, she murmored.
“I lean on your pocket; just here, our noses touch, your eyes are dark, deep chocolate. I retsht my left leg, you drag me, I rise; knee up, you grip. Giro, I lean back, you pull me up, you are strong, I trust you. I love your eyes. Ocho, then rest, lean and gancho, I flick my leg round yours, it’s hot, too hot. You push me upright, you stoke my face, I like it when you stroke my face, your hands are cool. I lock your eyes, you lock my eyes. I’m supposed to back away, I can’t back away, I am locked.” She choked briefly on her words, her voice drying. He flashed a mischievous grin.
The hall door swung open, Clive staggered in.
“You all right then? How’s it going Fred me old fox?”
“Pretty good bah, she’s probably in love with me by now!”
“Fred? What ‘appened to Alfredo?” she asked colouring as she did so.
“Ah, that’s my professional name. Same time next week?”
Another short story made it to the ether app recently – Take Three; Chefs is the result of an over active imagination when applied to one of @PumpStreetBakery’s tweets and my slightly bizarre interest in flies. You can read more about it here.
I also recently posted a story on a site called Circalit; it is a ghost story called Rome. I trimmed down a longer story to fit the criteria of the competition, it involves my favourite Roman woman Fulvia Flacca Bambula one day I would love to study her in more detail.
Regular readers of this blog will know that a recurring theme has been the Taranaki Gate. Some followers of my @farctum account on twitter may even remember me asking what the word ‘Wire’ meant to them. When I made the original request it was to help me write a very short story for which the theme was wire. I then threaded the ideas into a story.
Some time later I heard via Bubblecow that a new form of electronic publishing was accepting on-line submissions. I submitted one story which was rejected, but with kind comments suggesting some alterations. When I resubmitted I decided to also send Taranaki Gate, which by then had been lengthened.
There are two routes into ether books you can pay for a quicker turnaround, or do as I did and be patient, they review all submissions and only publish those that they consider make the grade. It was a surprise and a delight when I discovered that Taranaki Gate had been published. Then a few days later I heard that my other story Magna (which is very different from the first) had been published too.
To read the stories you will need an iPhone or iPad with the ether app installed Currently Taranaki Gate costs 69p and for a sort time only Magna is free. If you read them, I hope you enjoy them.