Their words are writ large, on the pages of life, But to some folks, spelling causes no little strife. Is it ‘to’ or ‘too’ or even ‘two’? Or are you the sort who hasn’t a clue? Nowadays, we’ve Word and the internet, To solve any spelling or grammar point, yet “I’ll ignore Word’s squiggly red and blue lines, “Write what I like, it’ll all be fine “What does a program know about spelling and grammar?” “Well qu-quite a lot,” you’ll hear me st-stammer.
I'm very pleased to announce the publication of In Dulci Jubilo, an omnibus of my first three titles, Bound in Morocco: A Short Story of Intrigue, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories, and To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories. I have re-read (many for the first time in years) and edited all two hundred stories, and am delighted to say that I enjoyed them all! So, the omnibus contains the very latest up-to-date versions of every story. They range from one hundred words to seven and a half thousand. The three individual volumes that make up In Dulci Jubilo have been republished with the revised texts, in hardback (not Bound in Morocco), paperback, and Kindle. The description of In Dulci Jubilo reads as follows:
(600 words) I was a schoolboy at St Paul’s when the incident I’m about to relate occurred. I was one of a small number of boarders – my parents were ‘swingers’ (as we’d now call them). Not that I knew that at the time, of course. They just said they had ‘business to attend to,’ so I was packed off to St Pauls for months at a time. Anyway, it was a quiet Saturday in May, and I’d gone down to the kitchens to fetch some milk for a pot of tea I’d just made. There was Sally, the kitchen maid, with her arms up to her plump elbows in a sink full of washing up. “Hello, Sally, what’s that smell?” I asked. There was an unpleasant odour, not unlike the dreaded boiled cabbage, cooked to death, served up four times a week.
(1000 words) Monastic-style beers were her favourite. Heavy, sweet, and above all, high alcohol! She peered through the small opaque panes of Oliver’s Beer and Books. No sign of anyone in the small cafe behind the faded yellow door. She pushed it open and a bell rang. Inside was a counter, and behind, shelves upon which stood perhaps twenty dusty brown bottles. Bold fonts on cream and blue labels displayed odd foreign names - Zundert, Achel, Gregorius, Westmalle, all ones that she was now familiar with. Perhaps too familiar? A coffee machine, all shiny bright steel and red levers stood at one end of the counter. The enticing odour of coffee was noticeable by its absence.
To sleep, perchance to dream, I lay my head on the pillow. I close my eyes, but then it seems, Like the clouds, my thoughts start to billow. Did I remember to bolt the front door? And did I lock the car?
(250 words) Ray’s ‘great idea’ was a writing group, T’would be held at his house on the first. Me and my friend thought it sounded great, Ray didn’t want no one coerced.
(1000 words) “Be polite and listen carefully,” said the old man to his four daughters, “and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!” Their names were Anshula, Bakula, Chandhini and Darshini. By the grace of God, they had been born exactly three years apart so that all four shared the same birthday – that very day, the first of November – unique in all the land. Anshula was sixteen, Bakula thirteen, Chandhini ten, and little Darshini just seven. Now they waited, dressed in splendid saris, Anshula in maroon, Bakula in ruby red, Chandhini in royal blue and finally, little Darshini in emerald green.
(625 words) It was incredible and completely unexpected. The sensation as our fingers touched was electric, my heart skipped a beat and I momentarily forgot to breathe. Her fingers intertwined with mine and she twitched her lips in that funny way she used to, before kissing me tenderly. I gazed into her dark round eyes and knew it was love - deep, sacred love.
(900 words) Monastic life had its ups and downs. At first, it had been quite exciting, rising at 4.30 in the old Abbey in the summer, seeing mist covering the expansive lawns, whilst a golden glow on the horizon diffused over the orchard. Opening a window with its ancient leaded panes and breathing in that air, the air of creation. Taking it deep, deep into the lungs, holding it, thanking God for this life, and exhaling with gratitude. As the months went past and summer turned to autumn and autumn turned to winter, it wasn’t quite so exciting. The attraction of getting out of a warm bed onto stone-cold flags, and seeing your breath misting in the candlelight, not so appealing. Then a trip down a dimly lit corridor to fetch a jug of hot water for washing and shaving. Today, there was something wrong, the water was freezing cold, an ordeal to do my ablutions. Then out into the cold wind of the cloisters to the church and Vigils, the first service of the day. Brother Cecil greeted me, his double chin wobbling beneath his round pink face. “Having a lie-in Brother Paul?” “No, the water wasn’t heated, it took me longer.” Brother Cecil’s laugh sounded like a dog barking. “When I was a novice the water was never heated!”
(800 words) “I’m here to talk about collecting,” said the man with a red face and a bald head with a couple of sandy tufts above the ears. He reminded me of an aged Tintin. “Why should you collect? you may ask, and what should you collect?” “Well, how would you like to fill your house with useless junk and annoy people?” my wife whispered in my ear. A very practical lady was Sandra. A place for everything and everything in its place. And if it hadn’t been used in six months, it was down to the charity shops or the tip with it, as I knew from bitter experience, looking in vain for my favourite mac on one – not to be discussed – occasion.
(1000 words) I remember it was a Tuesday when I awoke to feel that something had changed. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But I felt different, I didn’t know how. I looked in the mirror, then looked again in disbelief. My face wasn’t looking back at me! No beard and moustache, no kindly blue eyes (or so I thought), no curly blond hair. Instead, I could see the reflection of the wall behind me. What was going on? Was this some kind of practical joke? On impulse, I picked up my alarm clock and held it up in front of the mirror. There it was, ticking away, suspended in mid-air!
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 shouldn’t complain about my old man, He’s a husband, a father, who does what he can.