Author: davekingsbury

Hi, I'm a retired teacher who now has more time for thinking, reading, writing, making music and blogging ...

100 word story: Tower Block Blues

We look down on a city that doesn’t see us. Somewhere below is work, cash in hand, no questions asked. The notes slip through our fingers, a few groceries, the rest hush-money for a little snatched sleep in a sublet flat.

Folk keep to themselves up here where walls have ears and let in water. Out of the Loop we live for today with no thought of tomorrow, in a world apart, all corners cut and services slashed to the bone.

But now they’ve shrouded us in stylish cladding against the rain and cold. Small mercies. It cost us nothing.


Image result for grenfell tower before fire


Image: The Sun

100 word story: Restless Soul

Her world was gorgeous. She had only to sit back and enjoy it. But somehow it wasn’t enough.

Could life be more enjoyable, she wondered?

The thought took hold, eroding her pleasure in nature. She craved complication, obsessed with the idea of something somewhere just out of reach. Simplicity gave way to sophistication. Freedoms fled before fascisms of high fashion.

No longer did she love everywhere, learning from others to place one thing above another. The rare and novel drove the familiar and commonplace from her heart.

Meddle with the natural order, she began to demand. Bring me new things.

Image result for industry versus nature

Image: Flickr


Nobody likes criticism but, as the Great Sage Mary Poppins once opined, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

By the end of my time in teaching the consensus was that you should aim for five positive comments to the little darlings for every negative one. A worthy ideal, indeed, though I’m pretty sure I never achieved that ratio myself.

I can’t even boast of satisfying Pink Floyd’s demand for no dark sarcasm in the classroom … well, when they stopped us walloping the little whelps what other weapon would work?

Just joking, aren’t I? The only time I tried to hit a kid was circa 1974 … and I missed.

One thing I was proud of, however, was my marking. Those red-pen comments of mine were miniature – and sometimes epic – minor masterpieces. At their best, they conformed to the following 4 principles.

As I said, nobody likes criticism … unless it comes in the form of suggestions for improvement on near perfection. Tell us how wonderful we are – it is, after all, no word of a lie – and we can take the truth no matter how brutal. Call us morons and we turn a deaf ear.

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

It was the very least I could do after all that heavy irony in lessons …


Image result for sarcastic teacher





To Boldly Go …

Speaking as a compulsive ditherer, I find it helps to reduce multiple motivations to a primary purpose. At the end of the day when push comes to shove and all is said and done, there is really only one reason for doing anything.

When it comes to writing, there are always a host of voices telling me why I shouldn’t bother. Refreshing, then, to stumble across a piece of advice that has the potential to guide me through the hubbub. So it’s out with all my How To Write books and in with this simple slogan!

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”
– Ray Bradbury

I’ll let you know how I get on …


Image result for hero


Image: iChurch OKA

Paris Discord

Thought I’d mark this miserable moment and subsequent news of the US withdrawing from the Paris Accord with a little lament, an acrostic using the WordPress Daily Prompt Brassy:

B arge past those wimps – let them get used to a brave new world where
R udeness rules and everything is up for grabs!
A ir, earth, water – the very
S tuff of beauteous life herself
S old to the highest bidder. Going, going,
Y es, g o i n g …

Image result for Nature For Sale

Off The Cuff!


Today I will mostly be writing in the spirit of Thelonius Monk who said, ‘There is no wrong note, it has to do with how you resolve it’. My plan: to keep typing whatever comes into my head until I have finished my bottle of beer.

Yeah, when you listen to Monk play you kind of see what he means.

In this age of targeted marketing, with its seamless soundtrack of endless over-dubs and auto-tuned vocals, how refreshing to hear and see someone flying by the seat of his pants! And returning to William Blake’s idea that without contraries there is no progression, surely here is an example of discord enhancing our appreciation of harmony.

Why have we become so risk-averse? I vividly remember the leader of a blues harmonica course telling us that we were only ever a semitone away from musical safety. In other words, improvise like your life depends on it and trust your instincts. How else are you going to get good at escaping from music’s, or life’s inevitable impasses? Those who only play by the book tend to get most lost when things don’t go to plan – which is often.

I once had an argument with a roomful of musos who reckoned Jimi Hendrix was over-rated. Yes, I had to admit, the guy played bum notes … but look how high he could fly! Maybe there’s a connection … what do you think?

The theme opens up like a kaleidoscope and my bottle is nearly empty. Without mistakes, no true creativity. Maybe it’s time to cut ourselves some slack and learn to play again. My two-and-three-quarter-year-old grand-daughter began our game today with, ‘I’m a baby penguin … ‘

You’re never too old to visit Antarctica! It’s surprisingly easy to find. Just turn left at Non Sequitur …

Image result for baby penguin


Image: Critter Babies

There will now be a short interlude …

Ten days between posts constitutes a break in transmission. Keen not to make a bad Impression and anxious to avoid “dead air” while still struggling to think of anything to broadcast, I will emulate the 1950s practice of good old Auntie BBC and fill the gap with an Interlude.

The principle, it seems, was to calm the audience who might otherwise get carried away with the excitement of continuous mental stimulus. In those days, with only one television channel, we had to sit through whatever tedium they chose to inflict upon us. But now, sensitive as I am to the modern preference for choice, here is a selection of interludes for your viewing pleasure.

If you have time to kill, you may choose to watch them all. If, however, you are pressed for time you may want to skip to the final example – a fairly brief spoof version from the 1990s.

As they used to say, don’t get square eyes …