Thursday, 31 October 2013

Black Forest, Black Foods

This week I am travelling through the Black Forest. Among its many delights, here are two: a black salami sausage that looks tough and chewy, but melts in your mouth; and the famous gateaux, which I thankfully discovered is nothing like the frozen supermarket horror I had in my mind from childhood. Add a 'tea with rum' and your golden.

Schwarzwurst = Yumwurst

Not usually a cake fan, I am a THIS fan, especially after a bike through the woods. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Flash fiction - Sweet Find

It's all about silver over at Julia's Place this week. I won't tell you why. You'll have to go over and read some other 100WCGU stories or link up yourself. Here's mine:

Sweet Find

The chair was hard and uncomfortable. Grandma never offered a cushion and Father wouldn’t ask. 
“Sit up, Giles.”
I sat as straight as I could and grabbed my spoon. The maid Mary winked at me, laying down my bowl. Mounds of slick fruity pudding, piled with cream, currants glistening. 
A big, yellow bottle sat on the table. Grandpa woke up.
I dug in. I heard a tap. I peered forward. A silver coin shone back from my pudding. I quickly pulled it out and slid it into my pocket before anyone noticed. 
I had four coins that day. Those adults had none.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Kintsukuroi - Golden scars

Ready for the weekend? Here's a prompt to keep you alive. It's this week's episode of delight over at The Queen Creative and we are told:

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Firstly, it's a great word. Just say it out loud a few times. Cheaper than a yoga breathing class. Secondly, it has made me write another poem. Poems come to me in a dash, I can't help them. And once they are down I find it very difficult to change them. These poems of mine, I think they might be broken. But if you, by any chance, have any gold handy to help them out, like words, please stitch them together below. You can make them more beautiful, after all. Much appreciated. 

Golden Scars

Time ravages everything. 
Nothing can be saved. 
Wind whispers, stones crumble
People age, art fades.
Times pieces together meaning
For us to see its place
And beauty lies not just in colour,
Nor stone or stature, nor form or face.
Time cracks and wrung hands plead
Nothing stays as it should
But what is a painted Acropolis
Or Machu Picchu with a roof?
Time’s golden scars tell tall tales
A slashed, re-beautified tribe
Of carefully broken and re-pieced pieces
That are given second lives. 
So time, while ravaging, stitches richly
And the wind will wind its way
Through crumpled hearts and history,
Yet everything can still have its day.

Please visit other writers starring in this week's For The Promptless episode by clicking on the television screen that still works:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Violin

There's two brand new prompts over at Studio30Plus this week. They are WEAPON and TINKLE. I decided to use both in this story. If you'd like, let me know what you think.

The Violin

Music was his only weapon. You could say he had me at his first b flat; that slow pull of the bow, his brow furrowed, painful, his eyes half closed. He was a piece of art up there, only half in the spot light. I can’t remember who he shared the stage with that night. I know my drink stayed at my lips: I didn’t sip it, nor did I put it down. I was held by that man, his fingers, his pointed, strong elbows, his straight back and shoulders I would later share with his beloved violin.
“You play the music?”
“No! No, well, yes, but not like you. You’re, you are something else.”
He moved around my cluttered and dusty apartment, then settled on the piano stool. I watched him read my knackered honky-tonk piano. I closed my eyes, forgetting to shut the front door. He touched the keys, slowly at first. Testingly. I felt his passion tinkle down my spine, chime through my centre. The tempo became off, a mosaic of emotions: fear, excitement, trepidation… love. What had we started? Whatever it was, he could play it.
Strangely, the only photo of him I have to share with the rest of the world. His album cover is in black and white, as he always dressed. He stares beyond me, seeing something magical in the distance. His violin is in his left hand, the bow in his right resting on his right shoulder. He stands square and unafraid, although the lighting is guarded. He never liked bright places, sunny beaches. Let’s find a cave and sing to each other. We went camping, far away from everything. Or we stayed in my apartment because I had lots of little lamps and no real lights. We stayed under the bed sheets while I peeled oranges and he played all night. All night.
When they took him away, he said he would write to me. It would be the only thing which would keep him going. My heart collapsed, for me and for him. He was a national disgrace, they said. He was a traitor, they said. His music was poison, they said. He had escaped and they had found him. The album didn’t matter. Protection didn’t matter. They snatched him in the middle of the night on a dark street near my place. He walked when he couldn’t sleep and I needed to. They knew that. They knew everything about him. Except one.
Sacha is four years old. He has the same straight back and he looks at you with knowledge beyond his years. He knows where his father is, though I have never told him or showed him the letters that stopped over a year ago. He can feel it when he picks up his father’s violin. He plays away his sadness standing in the hallway while I make dinner. He feels a fence around him when he holds that violin. He is safe. He is loved beyond his mother and grandma and he plays that love out to our dusty and cluttered apartment, our medley of neighbours, New York City and even further: to a place full of shadows and winter, and no music.

Read more interesting writes by clicking here:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Flash Fiction - Understood

Julia over at 100WCGU is running around like a headless chicken and chasing her own tail this week with lots and lots to do. For this reason, our prompt is:

... tail chasing did not help ...

Here are my 100 words, plus the prompt. It is called Understood.

Felix stepped out of the bedroom. Then he stepped back and forth again. He went downstairs. He did not tread on the last-but-one step. In the kitchen Daisy, his four-legged protector, sat calmly by her food bowl. She barked three times. Felix patted her on the head. Tap, tap, tap. Daisy went to the door. Felix unlocked it and watched Daisy run to the middle of the lawn, circling around herself. Tail chasing did not help her. Just like locking the back door three times did not help Felix. But Felix knew Daisy understood, and likewise. They had their behaviours and they had each other.

I read today that tail-chasing behaviour in dogs shares similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. 

Read more 100WCGU-inspired writes over at Julia's Place by clicking:

NANoWriMo - Plucking dreams

I've done something I've been wanting to do for the last three years. I have signed up for National Novel Writing Month. This happens every November. For 30 days, writers around the world, well, they simply... write. 50,000 words to be precise. A novel. A book. A living, breathing beast of a story. 

I have heard it will make me euphoric. I have heard it will drive me crazy. I have heard I will sit, rocking at my computer wondering what the hell I've signed up for. I have heard I will be punching the keyboard with delight. Words will flow, flounder, flail and fall onto the page. 

I have to tell everyone I am doing it. Some, out of respect: you will not hear from me for 30 days. I will not have died. I am just writing a book while trying to live my normal life. Some, out of hope: please help me and support me and ask me how it's going. Please:

I like a challenge. The challenge can be physical: run across the Andes in three days. Or it can be mental: write a word-a-thon for charity. I have done both. And it's true. There are hellish moments. My legs don't work. My brain can't think. I want to stay in bed and listen to the football. But, you keep going. Someone is relying on you. YOU are relying on you. You keep running. You keep writing. It doesn't matter if it isn't pretty or perfect. It is what it is. It is yours.

So, I am excited for the month of November. It will be a momentous, harrowing, spectacular journey. It will seem long and arduous. It will seemingly fly by. And at the end of it will be something, hopefully, resembling my bookish dreams. Something I have created that is whole and wonderful in parts, if cracked at the edges. That's OK. From December 1st the paint comes out and it is time to make it beautiful. 

Without doing this, ideas are dreams. My dreams may follow me, but I have to pluck them to make them happen. If I want that book on my shelf, the one with my name on the spine... well, then, I've got to write it. 

For more information on National Novel Writing Month see:

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Shopping list: no groceries

This week over at The Queen Creative we are told:

A shopping list (noun) is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper, a grocery list is a the most popular type of shopping list– including items that need to be procured on the next visit to the grocery store. 

I am a list person, except for when it comes to grocery shopping. I hate supermarkets. I know what I need so I run in (if my husband isn't with me; he loves going down every single aisle) and zoom around spending as little time as possible dithering. I can't waste time choosing: tomatoes on the vine or cherry tomatoes or both? Chilli or cheese nachos? Shall I take advantage of the buy-one-pay-for-three offer on furniture polish? Hmmm. No, I make a decision and get on with my life. 

In other areas of my life, I do write a list. It lives in this fabulous little book:

This book does not travel with me. I do not want to be followed by my list. It simply hangs out around my desk, you know, near the pens. It is there for things like: 

  • Fix boot heels
  • Mother's Day something
  • Transfer for holiday
  • Write Prompts for Promptless - shopping list
  • Plan Celine's class
  • Email uni birds
  • Post baby pressie Arg
Life things. There's every day things mixed with work things, and what I call some 'life admin' thrown in. As a teacher, I don't need to make lists at work like I used to have to as an editor, working in an office. Offices seem to run on endless lists. Maybe this was one reason I vowed never to work in one again. So, I add classes that I need to plan, with the names of my students to make it more human. There are people behind my jobs and I like that.

Another area that gets added to this seeming free-for-all is stuff I need to write. Places I need to go and read, blogs I want to comment on, pieces and prompts I want to write. I don't think I would forget to write for my favourite prompts or challenges, but once I've put something up and I cross it off my list, it's like a double happiness. There is the writing happiness and the one-less-thing-on-the-list-happiness. 


One shopping list that I will take some time over, but not necessarily write down, is for presents. I love buying birthday/Christmas/any-occasion-that-needs-a-present presents. You'd think I was made of money reading that, but I'm not. I just love it when I've pondered on a present for someone and a genius idea whacks me over the head (then whacks me in the wallet) and they open it and their face lights up with surprise/joy/incredulousness at what I've given them. 

My parents' birthdays are really close together, so their presents will go on the same list in my head. The process will always start with the same conversation:

"So, Mum, what do you want for your birthday?" (I have zero intention of buying her what she wants. I am cleverer than that.)
"I don't need anything. You don't have to get me anything."
"I know you don't need anything, but what do you want?"
"What I want is for your father to get off the toilet so we can have breakfast. That's what I want."

My parents' birthday present shopping list might therefore look like this after a few of these conversations:
  • Timer so when my dad has been on the toilet for more than 20 minutes it scares him into getting off (for my mum)
  • An automatic thingy so that when my mum is transferring money to her children's accounts it blocks it at a certain number of zeros (for my dad)
  • A teaching job where all you have to do is teach and not deal with the bullshit (for my mum)
  • A mother who isn't so annoying deaf and insanely proud (for my dad)
  • A course in how to get the most of out your smart TV (for them both)


Life is full of lists if we think about it: things we want to accomplish, places we want to see, books we want to read, people we want to really connect with, things we want to learn. That's the beauty of lists. They can be never-ending. But life isn't. So it's a good thing if you never get to the end of your wish-list, or to-do list or to-read list. You had enough on there to keep you going, and while you were, that's called life. 

"We like lists because we don't want to die." Umberto Eco.

Click and watch more at Prompts for the Promptless here:

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Visitor

Julia is feeling all autumnal over at Julia's Place this week, as the leaves turn and drift down to cover parks and paths. So, our prompt is FALL. We can take either meaning of the word and below is my effort. Please go HERE to read other entries.

The Visitor

It was the beginning. Of giving up. Grandma Ivy’s fall shattered nothing. Except her self-belief. In living. News of great-grandchildren greeted with half-smiles. Favourite programmes muted. Creamy eclairs went green in the fridge. Winter broke. Curtains stayed closed. Until the scratching at the door. Grandma Ivy lasted a week. Trying to ignore it. But one sunny morning she opened that door. A cat purred. Walked in. With the defiance of a general. 

Grandma Ivy watched it wander, smelling the life that wasn’t being lived. The cat disappeared under the curtains. Grandma Ivy followed. She opened them, and herself, to the world.

100 words + prompt

This story was inspired this morning by some Crazy Cat Ladies. Crazy level - High. Whereabouts - All Over The Place. Thank you!

Thursday, 3 October 2013


I'm getting this post up today even though I posted for another site already. Tomorrow I fly back to my native island for a wedding so am going to be technologically mute for a couple of days. So, this prompt is from the folks at Studio30 Plus. The word is... WORD.

This is a poem I wrote in 2009 when the English language reached its one millionth word. I was very excited in the build-up as newspapers and linguists around the world placed bets on what that pinnacle official word would be. Then it came. The 1,000,000th word in the English language was...

WEB 2.0. 

I wanted to vomit. That's not even a word.

So I wrote this in response and I share it with you today.

Web Two Point Zero

How did we get here
From there?
From one word to a million.
How we say this and that
Has changed,
Gone are the rules in this word game
So that nothing ever remains the

Technology discovers
And wakes the dictionary.
It opens and finds a space,
As the world explores
And pours in more
So out of our mouths
It becomes commonplace.

When the grandfather cradles
A baby just born
He knows in another century
His meaning will have torn;
But that this little miracle
Will understand enough to say
Those words he knew
In a different way.
He feels sad how changes speak
Across years and countries
As new senses they seek:
Ones he will not realise,
Words he will not say,
Meanings he will never meet.

Years later, after a million more
His great great granddaughter listens, abhors,
To the children in their virtual world
As they compurite and intereed
And never ink or paper need.
She shakes her head and reaches for
The secret in her bureau drawer:
Those golden letters, they never faded,
Neither his words inside those pages.
She reads and delights in joined letters,
Painstaking care to get it right
And no disgusting number in sight.
So two remains two and too as well
Not like now, she’ll sadly tell
Her own grandchildren and she will let them see
Her great great grandfather’s life-long diary.

First one was born because it was the first
Words followed from a naming thirst
And to a million we have now arrived
The most amount of meaning ever survived.
But before we drop our heads to charge on,
To pass another inevitable million
We must remember words are more than letters strung
And they started with a meaningful 

To read other writes on the prompt WORD or the other of this week's prompts, SICK visit:

The news article when, for some, this language crossed that million word barrier:

Lapsus Linguae - Marriage

Over at The Queen Creative this week's prompt speaks for itself. We are told:

Lapsus Linguae: A noun that refers to a 'slip of the tongue'. 

Here is a short story. Sometimes slips of the tongue are not unintentional.


Bernard and Cath sit on the park bench. Cath knits. It's still warm enough to do so. She thinks maybe in a couple of weeks she'll have to get Bernard to find their gloves and scarves, but for now her hands are warm and happy to be busy and in the fresh air. Bernard watches the ducks. Or, he pretends to be watching the ducks because he's really following an aerobics class on the other side of the pond: eighteen (he's counted) miniature ladies bouncing up and down. They are far enough away for him to not see their (probably disappointing, he thinks) faces while he can still appreciate the way their bodies move as they jump in all directions.

A jogger runs past and nods at Bernard. They see him most weeks. Well, Bernard does. Cath is usually with her head down, knitting and talking. Bernard is glad she has never driven a car. He thinks the amount of people she would have killed would be quite high.

"But if they are going to charge two pounds a raffle ticket, what do they expect? Jean's grandson ended up with a box of soap. You can imagine. Did you see Mohammed painted his gate? Yellow of all colours."

Bernard hears the colour yellow and thinks about their honeymoon in the south of France. He can't remember how the hell they afforded that back then, but he can remember the yellow of the sand, the blue of the sea and the wispy white clouds stretching to Africa above. He is reminded of the pedalo and how Cath nearly ran over a swimmer while she was imagining the back story of their breakfast waiter.

"If you need a tin of peas, you need one tin. Not three. Three tins make a bag heavy. Julie can't carry things like three tins now. And that son of hers isn't going to help out. She won't say of course, but since he ran off with his secretary I think he must come and visit under the cover of darkness. Have you seen him? Well, I wouldn't show my face again."

The aerobics class has finished. A couple of the women have parked their cars on this side of the pond and Bernard sees they are older than he thought. It surprises him than women with wrinkles can jump about for so long. They look good though. He would like to see them in fine dresses, like the one Cath wore to his mother's funeral a month after they met. She looked mighty fine that day. He could hardly think of his mother, cold and grey under that heavy wooden top.

"It's not just the children. They are good children, I know that, and Pete and Sarah do their best. But they don't help out either. We have to do everything. I mean, I don't mind, but it's the extra work they don't think about. They just assume. And we can't say no, can we? Would they come and pick us up and take us to London? It's all so time consuming for everyone."

A dog comes over to sniff around Bernard's feet. It isn't a fan of the crumbs from his two morning digestives. It licks his trousers quickly and then toddles off, its big flat paws clipping the concrete path, its tail hovering just above the puddles. Bernard wonders why there are always puddles on the path, even though it hasn't rained for over a week.

"Now if we get Jessica that cooking game, Nicky isn't going to need something better than a football. Remember the havoc last year with the trampoline? We're not going through that again. Polly had the same trouble with those twins, and they are even younger. I don't know when children got so needy and possessive of things. If we take the bus one Wednesday there's those coupons to use in that big store and it sells some toys."

Bernard's stomach growls. He searches the park for distraction but it has nothing left to give him. He wants to go home and have leftover pork chop for lunch with some green beans from the garden. But this is his part of the day and he also doesn't want it to end.

"And cramming herself into those cream jeans. Well talk about mutton dressed as lamb. She's nearly sixty for crying out loud -"

"Yes, I'd like green beans."

"And ... What? What did you just say? Bernard, she was wearing something so silly for her age, and she's not a small lady as we know."

"Shut up."

"I mean, I'm not one to talk, we could all lose a few pounds. What? What did you say again Bernard?"

"Nothing. Slip of the tongue. Lapsus Linguae."

"Sometimes I think you talk Chinese, I really do. You get it from that crossword I suppose. We'll have to pick up my magazine on the way back. Julie said there's a lovely story in there this week. About a couple who fall in love during the war. Except he speaks French and she speaks German and they don't understand each other. Can you imagine? This jumper is coming along very nicely indeed."

Bernard finally looks back to his paper. Fourteen down. I am in rage after a singular Mars wedding. 


To read more Lapsus Linguae inspired writes, click and watch:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Pledge

The prompt for 100WCGU over at Julia's Place took me to a stranger place than usual in my writing. Have a read and see what you think. Then click on the 100WCGU icon to read more entries. This week's prompt is ... as the world turned ...

The Pledge

Their palms faced the sky they had fallen from, not so many years ago. The two mothers stood at their feet, wondering why it had taken this for them to find peace. This beach, eyes closed, dressed all in white. But they wouldn’t wake up, even though the sun was poking its head over the blue-grey horizon. One mother stifled a sob. The other looked dreamily out to sea. As the city coroner pulled up, as people woke up to this news, as the world turned and everything carried on as it always had, she took a deep breath and walked into the ocean.
104 words
Read, comment and then read some more!