Sunday, 28 November 2010

Up-and-Coming Photographer of the Year

The vicar couldn’t resist deviating from the speech he’d prepared to open the church Christmas fayre. He was bouncing up and down on his toes, such was his excitement.

“I do hope you will forgive me one moment of self indulgence,” he gibbered. “But I just wanted to share something wonderful with you. My son,” he indicated with a grand, theatrical sweep of his hand over to one side of the hall. I looked, curious, but I don’t know his son, and I couldn’t spot a mortified face amid the crowd.

“My son has just been named ‘The Sun’s’ up-and-coming photographer of the year.”

There was a ripple of polite applause as everyone obediently indulged his paternal pride, while simultaneously thinking over the ramifications of this shiny nugget. ‘The Sun’ is renowned for publishing smutty soft porn. Would anyone, least of all the vicar, truly want to trumpet being awarded an accolade from such a publication?

“He’s available for commissions and portraits,” the vicar added, his big beaming moon-face oblivious to any sniggers.

So come on, good people of the village. Who wants to have a portrait done by ‘The Sun’s’ up-and-coming photographer of the year? Anyone? Actually, you never know. Down here in ‘Tales’, guessing who might be game enough will be a source of amusement for some time to come. You never can tell what really goes on behind closed doors in sleepy villages like this. You never know. And, one suspects, it’s probably better that way!

World’s Worst Mother…

(episode #345,678,372)

So there I was at the church Christmas fayre, queuing for younger son’s chance to meet the parish’s answer to Santa Claus, when elder son appeared at my side, blonde hair shining with a beatific glow.

“Look,” he beamed, and held up a tatty coloured box containing a carved crystal glass stallion prancing on its hind legs.

“Darling, that’s hideous,” I clucked, smoothing his hair. And, assuming he’d won it on the tombola, I said “why don’t you go and give it back to Mr. Robinson (the aged type in charge of the tombola)?” I opened my purse. “I’ll give you a pound for another go. You might win something nice this time.” I had my eye on the litre of Scotch.

Elder son looked a bit crestfallen, so I guessed he didn’t relish telling Mr. Robinson that he didn’t want the horrid horse.

“Well, you could always give it to Daddy,” I said, liking the thought of the husband-known-as-X receiving such tat. “Or Grandma might like it?” You have to admit, I am the queen of thinking on my feet.

Elder son stuck out his bottom lip. His eyes had turned dark and stormy.

“I didn’t win it,” he hissed. “I bought it. For you.”

I wanted to say “what the bloody hell made you think I’d want that?” But I decided I’d done enough.

So I am the world’s worst mother – again. But elder son most certainly did not inherit his lack of taste from me. And I now have a carved crystal glass stallion prancing in my kitchen window. It’s lovely – really.

Monday, 22 November 2010


I penned this after watching a neighbour's cat in the field opposite the house. I don't like to suggest I was gazing out of the window rather than doing anything productive; indeed,down here in 'Tales', there is enough to fuel to feed the fire of general opinion that I am a work-shy layabout, without my having to add to it. I fiddled around with this for some time before deciding to insult the world of poetry by attempting that form. Well, I like it...

The Orange Cat

The orange cat stalks through raggedy-brown, clumpy grass,
belly slung low, legs poised to
spring him to a pounce
once his radar ears
pinpoint the scuffling creature scurrying,

He sits.

He could sit all day, but
there are horses, two handsome stallions striding.
One likes being a horse, and goes
thudding up and down on spindly legs,
hooves flying, clods launching
into orbit with every step.

The other horse rolls his eyes.
He’s seen it all before.

The cat sits until the hooves and clods flail too close, then
he turns and flees.
Through the hedge,
on the other side, he sees people. He
goes upright on his toes, his tail-tip curling,
miaowing and purring,
round and around their legs, until
they follow him indoors to offer him food.

He’s trained them well.

And outside, in the field, the mice,
and voles, and rabbits
heave a huge sigh.
They are safe, for now.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Big Mouth

If there were Oscars handed out for the performance of opening one’s mouth and putting one’s foot in it, I wouldn’t be able to open my front door for the bevy of golden statuettes that would fill my house.

It’s true.

One of my worst episodes was at college. I was in the ‘ladies’, backcombing my already heavily-backcombed mop, and ranting about the shortcomings of a fellow student, when guess what? Yup, that’s right. A cubicle door opened and out stepped the subject of my ire. It wasn’t one of my better moments.

[This, of course, was back in the days when I thought I knew what ‘a problem’ was. Sometimes I think I’d like to pop back through the mists of time to give my pre-children self a well-deserved slap.
“I’m soooo stressed.”


“You don’t know what that means yet, you stupid girl. Pull yourself together. And do yourself a favour. When the-one-now-known-as X asks you out, say ‘no’. Trust me…”]

You’d think I’d have learned to keep my big mouth shut by now, but oh no.

So there I was yesterday, holding court in the village shop. I was loudly recalling a truly ‘hilarious’ story about someone who’d accosted me at one of the very few parties I’ve been invited to in recent years.

Yes, unsurprising how I get so few invites…

Now, it would have been bad enough had the person I’d been scoffing at turned out to be the woman at the counter with her back to me.

But no, it was worse than that. The woman at the counter turned round. She had indeed been at said party. And I’d spent a large proportion of the evening talking to her. She wasn’t the woman I’d been sniggering about, but would she know that?

Nice one Sam, a perfect 'own-goal'.

I’d like to hope she didn’t hear me, but I know she isn’t deaf. I’d like to think that she’d realise I wasn’t actually talking about her, but would she? It’s never a good look to have one’s true colours glimpsed beneath the veil of civil behaviour.

She did speak to me. She said how nice it had been to meet me, and what a pleasant day it was, but embarrassment rendered me incapable of coherent speech.

Big mouth strikes again. Oh yeah. Another statuette for my collection.

Monday, 15 November 2010


She moves her mouth, but it is your voice which speaks. I want to peer over the counter, to see where you’re hiding, but, obviously, that would be strange. I ask a question, get her to speak again, and the same thing happens. She has your voice. I’ve heard of performers, of gurus who can supposedly face-shape-shift, but voice-shift?

I try not to stare, but I’m scanning her face for a hint, a clue that connects her to you. I know she’s not your sister, so a cousin maybe? But her voice, it is exactly the same as yours. I listen as she tells a story, but I don’t hear what she’s saying.

No, I’m thinking, this is what it would be like to talk to you if you didn’t do that thing you do when you speak to me. You talk to me, yes, but you’re so sure there must be a better audience for your attention, your eyes dart here and there, looking for someone with the social kudos you think you deserve.

I hope she doesn’t realise I’m not listening, I hate to be rude. I’m too busy imagining, wondering if you ever come in here. I wonder if you ever bother to speak to this woman who has your voice. And if you do, I wonder if you notice.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Green Shoots

I am running the risk of having to re-name 'Tales' as 'Agriculture Watch', but these pictures are from the field of chocolate furrows I wrote about only a couple of weeks ago.

No rest for Mother Nature, a cosmos of tiny green shoots now covers the ground.

These pictures were taken last week. This week we've had so much rain, part of the field and footpath have been submerged. The dog-of-small-brain and I have to pick our way through the sludgy soil, trampling delicate green shoots underfoot. Here the dog has the advantage; his tread upon the earth is so much lighter than mine (in so many ways.) He tiptoes through the plants, I squash them as I squelch and sink.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sophie Lancaster

Down here in the depths, 'Tales' was busy composing a ramble around the subject of depression and personal disintegration, when today's Radio 2 'Jeremy Vine show' broadcast an interview in which Sophie Lancaster's mother gave a very harrowing and brave account of her daughter's attack and subsequent death.

Sophie and her boyfriend were set upon by a gang back in 2007 for looking 'different'.

I can't write about my own dramas after listening to the story.

There is a tribute film 'Dark Angel' over on the Sophie Lancaster Foundation website. I've had difficulty accessing the site myself, so I've posted the film from 'youtube' below.

Problems? What problems? At least I'm alive.. And I never had my head kicked in for being a goth.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Wanderer Returns...

Wow! It's been over two weeks since I last dipped my toe into 'Tales', although to be truthful, it feels like a whole lot longer. I was up in Scotland for some of the time, sighing over beautiful scenery while suffering indescribable humiliation at the hands of my beloved offspring. They seemed to have a joint agreement in place to misbehave as horribly as possible in front of far-flung relatives. Ah, the little darlings... Thankfully they are back at school!

I've been busy this week trying to remedy the holes in my poor, sickly novel. It's taken a few months of soul-searching to be able to turn back to it after it was dismissed (yet again) as complete garbage [- why am I admitting this?] by a literary consultant. And I paid for the privilege of the sound kicking it and I received. Never mind; armed with her advice, maybe this time I might get it right? But I know not to hold my breath.

So, settling down with a mania for cutting out the rubbish bits, and following Stephen King's esteemed advice to 'murder one's darlings', here is a little bit which I really liked. I really, really like this passage, but it serves no purpose whatsoever, so I've gouged it out, and here it is, bruised and bloody, and slowly going cold, a savagely murdered darling...

The tailor had retired to Thatchington after a working life spent snipping and stitching in London. But to his wife’s chagrin, he couldn’t keep his fingers free of a needle and thread, in spite all of her well-planned intentions. ‘It’s going to be lovely moving out into the country,’ she’d sighed to all of her cronies, conjuring a gentle retirement of trips to the garden centre, and pottering around with friends. They hadn’t been in Thatchington a week, before he’d signed an agreement to rent the former gift shop sandwiched between the antiques place and the delicatessen. He tried to wheedle a thaw in her cold, wordless wrath by suggesting it would keep him out of mischief, but she merely pursed her tight lips tighter still, and refused to talk for a week. Silly old fool; he would sew himself into the ground.

Rest in peace poor dear paragraph. Right, which one next?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...