No Sex, Religion or Politics

These five words – according to my dad, a conscripted soldier in WW2 – constituted the unspoken rule that helped prevent unproductive arguments in the officers’ mess. I can see why. Vital to get on with people you don’t really know when you have to work alongside them in hazardous conditions.

Perhaps blogging isn’t all that different. No point falling out with each other over minor cultural differences when we all face major threats – largely of our own making – such as gross inequality, environmental damage and international conflict. I don’t know about you but all my instincts cry out for cross-border cooperation, our only real defence against these common enemies. As the age-old saying goes: United we stand, divided we fall.

It’s eight whole days since my previous post and high time to publish again. I was planning something uplifting, even utopian, only to find there’s a elephant in the room. It’s a big one, maybe a bull, and the smell of dung is now overpowering. I sure in hell can’t step round it so will tread very carefully and call it … the ‘B’ word!

Not that I’ve anything original to say on the subject. Like many others – on both sides – I’m all talked out. But here are two items I’ve found in the vaults. No idea where they come from but each, in its own way, is rather striking.

The UK Referendum in June 2016 asked:

Should we

Leave the EU
or Remain in the EU.

Simple. Well, for the 16.1 million who said Remain it certainly was, as it meant no change. All 16.1 million who ticked remain knew exactly what they voted for.

But the 17.4 million who voted to Leave without any true facts, figures, analysis or research voted for a personal version of “leave” as they could not possibly know what the end result would be. Hence all the Remainers spoke with one voice but the Leavers presented the Tory government the absolutely impossible task of reconciling 17.4 million different versions of Brexit.

After two years we have now seen this for real. It was never possible to deliver an exit that would satisfy all the Leavers.

In other words, here is a complex issue reduced to a simplistic binary choice and Parliament – the authorised decision-maker in a parliamentary democracy – reduced to the lowly status of a rubber stamp. No wonder they’ve fallen asleep on the job.

Image result for rubber stamp

Today’s cancelled MP vote means this unfunny farce is certain to rumble on through the so-called season of good cheer. Perhaps we ought to keep calm and turn the whole bally shooting-match into a Panto, along the following lines:

 

Image: CharityLawyer

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Triskaidekaphobia* – a story in 100 words

Readers of a sensitive or squeamish nature may wish to glance at the following story through their fingers. Others may scorn such pusillanimity! 

 

House Number Thirteen gives you Goosebumps.

Could it be the gravel driveway that twists through overgrown gardens, branches reaching down like fingers? Or the stranglehold of Virginia Creeper upon crumbling walls, windows peering out like blind old eyes? That door, perhaps, paint peeling from his wrinkled face?

Hinges creak like souls in pain. Step with thumping heart into the cavernous hallway – festooned with giant cobwebs – and climb the groaning stairs. Skin creeps at a distant flutter of wings.

But nothing prepares you for the moment your torchlight reveals these grinning teeth and gleaming eyes!

Welcome to our world.

 

* extreme superstition regarding the number thirteen

 

Image result for cobwebs on stairs

 

Image: Flickr Hive Mind

In A Twist – a story in 100 words

Hide-and-Seek was the closet contortionist’s favourite – squeezing into out-of-the-way nooks-and-crannies, overhearing distant discoveries, knowing she wouldn’t be next Seeker. Whenever searching ceased she’d creep up behind them – hiding-places still secret – and mock their burning envy for the Queen of Disappearances.

Until now. A sneeze betrays her. First-found, it’s her turn to count one-hundred. Giggles recede to the mockery of silence. She knows all the places but saunters round securing windows and entrances. Front-door last.

Street-corner reached, she hurls their tin – joke-shop sneezing-powder – into the bushes. Hers – a fuel-can – she grips harder before a final backward glance at the blazing house.

 

Image result for sunlight through window

 

Image: Colourbox

Fun and Games – a story in 100 words

Struck by lightning, the ancient oak would have blazed for a day and smouldered for a week. In place of its wooden heart was a blackened hollow, hardened and burnished by centuries of sun and rain and ice.

Climbing up to its rim, children saw a sculptured bowl like a womb where they might rest like dozing emperors. Here they could lie, unseen, overhearing private conversations far below. No longer paupers in the balance of power, they could sip the nectar of the gods and experience a measure of divinity – invisible, ever-present, omniscient.

It beat the hell out of hide-and-seek.

 

Image result for hide and seek

 

Image: MoMA

Murder on the Dance Floor – a story in 100 words

Cockroach!

As dying words went, this didn’t go far – at least in helping our sleuth discover who gave the-belle-of-the-ball a lethal injection.

A jilted lover, perhaps, but was he even on her crowded dance-card?

A pet-name? Hardly endearing but weren’t spirited Spanish senoritas sometimes attracted to creepy types?

A shared dish at some new-fangled insect-restaurant?

He shuddered, appalled at his cluelessness, and phoned the dance-band rehearsal. They’d noticed nothing, the conductor confirmed.

Our sleuth asked him to recite the setlist to trigger recollections but stopped him after ‘La Cucaracha’.

She’d tried to help, translating the moment her killer struck.

 

 

The Appliance of Science – a story in 100 words

Case notes. Planet #3, Star-System #495177230648683. Deep archaeological analyses indicate rapid evolution of intelligent primate species followed by sudden decline/disappearance. Unlike previous extinctions, appears self-inflicted. Evidence from widely-scattered artefacts suggests that the early social-cooperation instinct universal to all advanced species was – for reasons yet unclear – supplanted by an overwhelming urge to compete. This set individual against individual and group against group, leading to chronic over-consumption of resources. Undervalued and depleted natural-science investigation meant rear-guard efforts to shepherd/conserve environment too little, too late. Full contact with remaining species awaits detailed linguistic analysis but positive  signs observed in early encounters with ants and cockroaches.

 

Image result for aliens observe earth

 

Image: The Taxman

That’s Rich! – a story in 100 words

Miles Bragge-Hampton hated contradiction. You couldn’t blame him. As the only child and heir of wealthy and indulgent parents, his every little whim was gratified. A furious turnover of nannies, servants, estate-workers, tutors and even doctors bore witness to the force of his thwarted will.

A particular revolving-door involved girlfriends and, later, psychiatrists. Mere expertise couldn’t save anyone who got on the wrong side of Smiler.

The nickname stuck when he entered politics. Small fish feared the flash of teeth, notably in his very first Head of State broadcast warning ‘welfare leeches and parasites’ that he was on their case.

 

Image result for spoiled rich kids

 

Image: YouTube