A Stoical Man (poem)

- Horizontally challenged, that was old Stan, But always so cheerful, a stoical man. Said his wife Edna, “He’s an amicable bloke, But with only three inches, well, there ain’t much to stroke!”   But Stan had his talents, for his missus to share, He wasn’t huge, true, but she didn’t care. Said Edna, “I … Continue reading A Stoical Man (poem)

Lost in Translation

(1000 words) We’d come down to the stream to find there was no bridge. Instead, lumps of rock protruded from the water at semi-regular intervals. Stepping-stones. “We cross here,” announced Eric. “Hang on a minute, it looks quite deep,” said Jan. “And those rocks look slippery,” said Petra. “Come on, girls, you’re not scared of a little stream are you,” laughed Eric. “What say you, Saul?” “Well,” I said, “we can’t go back. I’ll go first.” I took off my boots and socks, stuffed the socks into the boots, tied the laces together and strung them around my neck. Then I rolled my trousers up to my knees. “Good luck,” laughed Eric, slapping me on the back.

Wounded Walking

(900 words) “What are you talking about, I don’t have a sister!” Maurice Humphries was taken aback. Surely this gentleman, the last of the group to arrive, was the Reverend Herbert Galton? Apparently to be accompanied by his sister, Dolly. “You are Reverend Galton, are you not?” “I am Colonel Galton. Kenneth. The reverend is my brother.” Humphries regarded the motley crew of walkers gathered underneath the old railway bridge at Woodman’s Hyde. They stood, shuffling, fiddling with maps and compasses, clad in brightly coloured tops sporting names such as North Face, Berghaus and Patagonia. The colonel, by contrast, wore a Barbour jacket and high leather boots, looking for all the world as if he were going on a pheasant shoot. “Oh, I don’t have you on the list,” Humphries said. “No matter,” snapped the colonel, “you can put me on it now.”

Smitten

(800 words) I have collected in my time – to the chagrin of my dear beloved husband, Cyril – snow globes, porcelain cats, and Tommy guns, and perhaps I should explain what happened to these old collections before I proceed to my newest hobby. My Tommy gun collection may be regarded as having been discontinued since I collected only two, the second and final one as long ago as 2003. Not only are they hard to come by and very expensive, but they are also highly illegal.

In Memoriam

(800 words) We all know how much we depend on our postmen and postwomen,” intoned Arthur, the vicar, concluding the eulogy, “and Barney was one of the best. Everyone loved Barney.” I looked around the packed church. There was Mavis McLung with her cheeky face surrounded by a mop of ginger curls, courtesy of L’Oréal. Then there was Carol Hardaker, her pug-like visage glaring around at the other villagers lining the pews, her bitchiness silenced through necessity for the time being. In the front row sat Maureen, Barney’s widow, dressed in a neat black two-piece with a black hat and veil. Her two teenage sons sat to her right, their eyes red and swollen. My wife, Sue, took my arm as we finally traipsed out into the graveyard and the warm sun of an early spring morning. “What a bunch of hypocrites,” she whispered.

Memory Lane

(1200 words) It could have been right out of one of my own sitcom scripts. I received a telephone call late one evening from an old lady, Miss Jean Sycamore, if you please. She was most insistent that I undertake some detective work for her. I tried to tell her that I was a TV comedy scriptwriter and not a detective, but she said she’d heard I’d written some episodes for Detecting the Detectives, a CID spoof, and being that I lived locally, she was prepared to pay me a handsome price to find a lost object. So, the following morning I called round to her rambling country estate, Enderby Manor, where I was shown in by a crusty old butler who could have been acting in Toad of Toad Hall. “Madam, a Mr. Frederick Rossiter to see you,” he announced in a wheezing voice to a rake of a woman with a wild frizz of white hair. She got up from a sofa and peered at me. “Mr. Rossiter? No, I don’t think I know such a fellow.” “Look, Miss Sycamore, you phoned me last night. You told me you wanted me to find something for you. Something valuable I assume.” The old woman looked perplexed. “Did I? Did I really?” She stood staring into space for what seemed an age, then her frail body shook all over, as if she’d been given an electric shock, and she suddenly smiled at me. “Mr. Rossiter, thank you so much for coming. That’ll be all Porterhouse. I do apologize, Mr. er, … I’m afraid my memory isn’t what it once was. Now, please take a seat. Porterhouse will get you a drink. Oh, sorry, I sent him away, didn’t I?”

Kindness Hurts

(1000 words) So, there I was, just come out of the Castlehorn public ladies’ loo, when a woman stopped right in front of me. She was short and fat and clad in a flimsy two-piece summer outfit that looked as out of place as a homosexual in a monastery. Her face was bloated, and her lips were pale and thick. For all the world, she reminded me of Sheppard’s illustration of the toad, dressed as a washerwoman, in The Wind in the Willows. “‘Scuse me, Luv, I’m bursting. Could you look after Angel here whilst I pop into the ladies? I’ll be as quick as I can, and he’s as good as gold?” I looked down on a huge black dog at the end of the lead the woman was gripping with one pudgy hand. With the other, she clutched a large bag. I really didn’t fancy ‘dog sitting,’ but, having just done a ‘kindness workshop’ down at the local church, remembered their dictum, ‘Have faith in humanity.’

As Safe as S*it

(900 words) On the transatlantic flight, the valuable cargo was in a briefcase in a sealed blue bag, wedged between two security guards. Sleep and toilet breaks were taken in turns, so the precious cargo was not left alone for a second. Well, that was the theory …. “I’m heading for the bathroom,” said George Holland. “Huh?” said Alfred Marwood. “The little boy’s room, y’know.” “What?” “The restroom!” Marwood laughed, “Oh, you mean the bog!” “You Brits!” Holland said as he got off his seat in a hurry and disappeared. What the hell was in this briefcase? wondered Marwood. All he knew was that it had been a big … well, huge operation.

Martian Holiday

(1100 words) “Y’know, Liz,” said Charles one evening, “there’s a guy at work, he’s got a sure-fire idea to make one helluva lotta big-time dough!” Elizabeth Soulby raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, his name is Stanley, got an uncle by the name of Matthias Dale, a big shot in the aircraft business. Anyway, seems this Mr. Dale is offering shares in the first flight to Mars!” Elizabeth Soulby raised her eyebrows even higher. “Honestly sweetheart, this Dale guy knows what he’s talking about, got contacts in the air defence business.” Elizabeth squared her shoulders and put her hands on her hips. “Well, what the hell does this guy know that NASA doesn’t know then!” Charles sighed, “Simply this, he doesn’t have a million and one regulations holding him back. And he has Fan Evans on his team.”

The Name is Grey

(550 words) “Cloak and dagger man?” asked Clunch. “My name is Grey, Parma Grey,” I replied, “like a mouse’s back, and I have a cloak, incarnadine in hue, but, alas, no dagger.” He gave that queer, lopsided grin of his. “Ah, Mr. Grey, immortalised throughout our fair islands. Do come in.” I followed Clunch into a blue pavilion. The Ministry of Covert Warfare’s idea of keeping a low profile. “Hardly immortalized, I’m supposed to be a secret agent!” Clunch gave a throat-clearing splutter as he pressed a lift button. “Ah, but immortalized amongst we secret people, the cognoscenti of the garotte and poisoned umbrella!” I tried to suppress a smug smile as the lift proceeded downwards.