Monthly Archives: February 2013

Upside Down

The gallery in Upper Manhattan was buzzing as the night for the unveiling of Illiona’s new work had finally arrived. Illiona had been the darling of the international art world for the last couple of years, and was still enjoying being at the  peak of her fame, or was it infamy?

As was her way, Illiona was going to be arriving late at the gala evening. She wanted to let the critics and art lovers get their fill of her new piece, and their fill of champagne of course, before she made her grand entrance to thank everyone.

The gallery opened at seven o’clock, but no.one was crass enough to arrive on time. The first few visitors casually walked through the gallery’s doors just before eight. Of course they were all keen to rush through to see Illiona’s new work in the special preview gallery, but would not make it seem that way by rushing through the other galleries of up and coming artists favoured by Illiona.

By nine thirty the place was full, and Illiona’s new work was being highly praised by almost everyone. The critic were enthusing about the subtle use of light and shade and the way the colours were intertwined creating an illusion from top to bottom. The only person to actually criticise the painting was the gallery’s caretaker, who said there was something off about the piece of art, something that made him feel slightly off kilter. But of course no-one was going to take notice of a simple caretaker.

Illiona’s car pulled up at the curb and she breezed into the gallery nodding and chatting with her closer associates as she went. From being a two bit artist in lower Manhattan she had come a long way in a short time, and to be honest she had no time for the critics who fawned over her. She was there for her art, and not to be adored.

She walked into the inner sanctum of the gallery listening to and accepting the compliments as she passed through the crowd. It seemed everyone was bowled over by her new piece. Finally arriving beside her masterpiece she stopped with a wry smile on her face.

“Thank you all for coming this evening…” she began “As always it is an honour to be surrounded by the glitterati of our wonderful city.” The applause was tumultuous.

“I’ve heard all your wonderful comments a I’ve passed through this evening. I’ve even heard the comment made by the caretaker earlier today…” There was a round of nervous laughter and a few claps as she took a breath. “And I have to tell you the caretaker may just have had something – I’m sorry everyone, but this..” she took another breath and pointed towards her work “… is upside down.”

Having delivered this bombshell she left.

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Filed under Contemporary, humour

Playing

Steve always knew that being a busker on the streets of London would be a hard gig, but it was one he enjoyed. He truly enjoyed playing his guitar and making a bit of money into the bargain.

Each day he grabbed his guitar and made the slightly arduous journey from his tiny one room, sheltered, bedsit just south of the river in Battersea and walked across and along the Thames bank to his pitch between Charing Cross station and Trafalgar square.

Over the past year he had gone from being homeless; trying to find a warm and dry place to sleep each night, to living in sheltered accommodation after a chance meeting at Christmas when he was enjoying the Shelter charity lunch.  Unlike many ‘street-people’ he had never resorted to drugs, but for a while had played his part on the ‘meat-rack’ in Piccadilly.

Now he played his guitar for the commuters, tourists and day to day passers by. It didn’t make him a fortune but it was enough to scrape by on, week to week, and he was happier than he had been for some time.

He enjoyed the sound of coins dropping into his hat, knowing that people were appreciative of his playing. He never dreamed of being discovered and hitting the big time, but he did dream of settling into a more normal way of life. All he needed was a break.

This Monday morning felt slightly different, Steve thought, as he prepared himself for the day ahead. He  walked from his place to his pitch with a particular spring in his step. Des`pite the cloudy, overcast skies threatening a storm he was playing with enthusiasm and a broad smile. Lost in his music he didn’t notice when a small packet was dropped into his hat, as opposed to the small change that normally jangled as it bounced in hitting the other coins.

As it started raining around four o’clock Steve decided that enough was enough for the day and started to pack up. Picking up his hat he grabbed the coins from inside, and found the small bundle. This was the first time he had noticed this strange paper bundle. Lifting it out of the hat he couldn’t believe his eyes it was a bundle of notes -a bundle of twenty pound notes. Looking around he thought that perhaps he was the butt of some comedy hit, but as far as he could tell no one was taking any interest in him. Everyone had their heads down rushing hither and thither to avoid the rain.

He popped the coins and the bundle of notes into his pocket and headed off for home, wondering who on earth would have dropped such a large amount of money into his hat. He had no idea how much was there and was keen to get home to count it.

When he got back to his bedsit he shucked off his coat and hat, propped his guitar by the door and dropped the days earnings on the bed. Turning the wad of notes over and over in his hands he finally noticed a slip of paper tucked in with the money.

The note simply said ‘Passing by each day on my way to and from work and hearing your wonderful playing has lightened my load. I have had some good luck lately and hope this small contribution will lighten yours.’ It was signed with a solitary ‘M’.

As Steve started to count the notes he knew his life was about to change so much for the better.

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Quiet

It was a beautifully warm and sunny day. The air was filled with the delicious scent of the wild flowers that grew in the fields. Four of the five cousins were sitting amongst the old trees with their faithful dog waiting for A to return. He’d made a trip on his own. So far he’d only been gone about thirty minutes and they knew that that could be so different wherever he’d tripped to.

“Quiet!” exclaimed T. I thought I heard him.

“Me too,” R agreed. “but it sounded more like and echo.”

“I’m not sure he should have double-jumped.” J was worried that, like Uncle Vern, his brother may be lost somewhere. They had all travelled to the old town of Ages together. It was now one of their favourite destinations, especially when Lilly joined them. A had gone on through the church to where Uncle Vern had been before.

‘Back to the church.’ they all heard together.

“I think he needs us. Come on back to the church.” J said.

They all jumped up and raced back round the church wall into the church garden and through the big old wooden doorway of the church. The dog was already ahead of them as was often the way when they were in the move.

Inside the church the air was still and quiet. Suddenly there was a sound they all recognised. It was the sound of rushing air that preceded one of their jumps. But it held a slightly different tone and soon petered out to nothing. Silence reigned again.

“We need to reach him quickly. I think something’s gone wrong.” T’s voice was full of the fear she was feeling for her cousin. “Over to the column, and this time I’ll do it” She offered as the rushed deeper into the church.

“Are you sure?” J asked.

“Absolutely” she replied. Come on, before we lose contact completely….”

“Quiet!” J said as T moved towards the column “I can hear something… Quiet, listen…”

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Filed under Contemporary, Kids stuff

On your bedside table.

At five my beside table didn’t exist. In my small room there was a bed, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers. ON the floor; lino these were the good old days.

At ten I still had no bedside table, but the chest of drawers was next to the bed doubling its function. It had an old camera, a couple of toys and little else.

At twenty I was in my own space -a tiny bedsit, with no space for a beside table, but there was a shoebox on the floor where I dropped my keys , loose change and anything I would need the next morning.  Bedside the bow was a radio alarm clock- just the essentials.

By twenty-five I was c-habiting. The beside table was a dresser and for the first time in my life there was an ashtray, a packet of cigarettes and a lighter constantly present.  Yes my hubby was the type that lit up after a night of passion.

At thirty we were in our own flat. Bedside tables on each side of the bed. Each had a drawer to hold the bed-time essentials, but on top were matching lamps and on my side that old faithful radio alarm clock. From time to time other paraphernalia appeared as needed- condoms and lube of course, tissues and poppers.

By forty there was little change in the layout of the bedside table. WE had entered the comfortable rut years of our marriage.

Now at just over fifty – and in a different country -there are still bedside lamps, an alarm clock (old faithful has changed sides of the bed), but now pill bottles and a bottle of water complete the picture.

How crazy that one can tell my life just by looking at my bedside tables over the years…

25 on my bedside table

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Filed under Factual

Cloud

They had been waiting for almost a week now and still there was no sign. During the week their numbers had increased from firstly just Jed and Sylvan to over thirty. Jed had never seen so many of them together before. The air was alive with expectation and incredible energy.

“Is this really the place?” Sylvan was losing faith as the wait felt interminable to her. She as over six months pregnant and just wanted things to be sorted before her twin babies were born.

“It is, my darling. We must be as patient. When the conditions are right everything will be revealed.” Jed replied holding Sylvan’s hands in his. He looked deep into her eyes and saw that she was both afraid and strong enough for a different future. As her life-partner he wanted the best for her always and now with their children growing inside her he was extra protective. He was sure they were in the right place and he knew they were ready.

Drianyer came over to them. “The time is close. According to the data retrieved today the conditions will be right at six o’clock this evening,” She told them. “Try not to worry Sylvan. Everything will be fine.”

“But what if we are found first?” Sylvan’s voice could not hide the edge of fear she was feeling.

“The field is holding well and as long as that is true we will remain invisible to them.” Drianyer spread his arms out indicated the protective field.

It was now almost a month since the evacuation process had been initiated. All over the world the newborns, as they preferred to be called, were feeling their powers surge and in using them for the good of mankind they had broken their cover. This was a period of change for humanity, and those that hadn’t been fortunate enough to be part of it were scared and attacking those that were part of the new generation. That was when the word had gone out to evacuate the towns and cities where the newborns were the most at threat. The plan was to regroup in a secluded place that had been prepared for this time as soon as they could.

The mountainside on which Jed, Sylvan and the others now waited was one of the designated pick-up zones, but the pick up had to be carried out under heavy cloud cover for everyone’s safety. As soon as the pick up was initiated the field would disappear and the newborns would be left unprotected.

During the afternoon the clouds gathered over the mountainside and finally word went out that the ship was on its way. At seven o’clock it would be in place to evacuate the thirty or so in this group to a place so secluded, hidden and protected that the evolution would be allowed to continue. The future of the human race and the planet would then be more secure.

Just before seven the cloud cover was perfect as the ship started to descend, looking for all the world like the setting sun.. perhaps the most important the journey for mankind in thousands of years was about to begin…

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Filed under Sci-fi / Future thoughts

A word

Gerry entered his favourite bar, Masons, and sidled down the edge of the crowd to the booth at the back where his usual cronies met.

Being Friday night Bazzer and Mikey were already sitting there huddled over their bottles of Estrella looking for all the world like a couple of old men chewing the fat, or maybe just ignoring each other, depending on at which moment you looked at them.  Gerry knew different. He knew that they, like him, were dangerous and competent criminals.

Bazzer looked up slightly as Gerry took his place beside Mikey and nodded almost imperceptibly in greeting. In seconds the peroxide waitress had delivered another bottle to the table and left without a word. Like everyone at Masons she knew the business discussed at this table was nothing to do with her and more importantly nothing she wanted to be involved in on any level.

Taking a deep slug from his bottle Mikey grunted towards Gerry, nodded and shook his head towards the entrance. Communication between the two of them was almost always minimal yet almost always effective.

“What’s happening?” Bazzer grunted.

“The usual,” Gerry replied even though he knew exactly what Bazzer was referring to.

“Damon?” It was a one word question from Mikey; one word but loaded full of inference and maybe even menace.

“Word is that he’s gone,” Gerry said as he took another long swig from his bottle.

“Gone, as in gone? Or gone as in no longer around?” Bazzer checked the meaning of Gerry’s statement.

“Word on the street, and from the Gross man is that he is gone, gone to a far hotter place than this one here and now. Hotter than he or we ever want.” Gerry stood up. His message had been delivered, business for the day over. He left without looking back over his shoulder. This lack of forethought was perhaps his biggest mistake in a while, and possibly his last one, one that could have almost certainly sealed his fate…

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Filed under Contemporary

Makes you smile

It was a perfect day for spending time on the beach. The sun was blazing down and it was only ten in the morning.

“Looks like it’s going to be a scorcher again,” Ted said as they walked across the sand to claim their piece of the golden territory.

“That’s a no-brainer,” Jen replied hopping from foot to foot. She’d already taken her sandals off not wanting to get them full of sand. Well they were Prada darling!  “Can we chose somewhere soon or my feet are going to be toasted” she complained.

“Sometimes I wonder why you bother coming down to the beach at all. IT really seems to me that you don’t like it at all. The sand’s too hot, the sea’s too wet or cold and the noise of the children playing really disturbs you.” Ted threw over his shoulder as he marched on to what he thought would be the perfect spot.

Eventually Ted stopped dropped his bag on the sand and started setting up home. First of all he dug a small hole and pushed in the umbrella pole so that Jen would have enough shade for her fair skin. Next he laid out the blanket so Jen wouldn’t have to lie on any sand, and finally he laid out a huge towel and popped the coolbox under the brolly. “Here we are then,” he announced as he dropped his shorts and t-shirt in a pile on the edge of the blanket. “I’m going for a quick dip to cool off before allowing this delectable bod of mine a few hours in the sun.” And he was off down the beach at a trot.

Jen watched him go, admiring his adonis-like body, and the way his shorts clung to his perfectly formed buttocks, buttocks she had not long ago been hanging onto with ecstatic tension. In moments he was gone; under the surf of the waves as they broke across his chest, taking him from her view.  That was the real reason Jen liked to come to the beach to be with Ted. He was the best thing that had happened to her ever and she wanted to be with him as much as she could without being too clingy. Holidays were the perfect time for that. Carefully removing her sarong she settled face down on the blanket with her head under the shade. She loosened her bikini top and rubbed in some more sun protection. In moments she was dozing gently in the sun, remembering the night before and why she was so tired now.

All of a sudden Jen was awoken by chill droplets of water falling all across her back. She sat up with a start, quite forgetting that she had untied her bikini top, and gave the whole of Bournemouth beach a view of her perfectly formed breasts. “What the…” she stuttered just in time to see Ted moving away sheepishly. He had shaken his hair out over her when he had returned from his quick dip. “You, ah, you…” she tried to be angry as she gathered her bikini top to her with a touch of embarrassment, but Ted was simply smiling down at her with an innocent look on his face that simply said ‘Me, what?’

“Well I’m glad that makes you smile,” Jen said as he bent down to kiss her, a smile of promise on his lips. 

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Filed under Contemporary