Tag: true story

Sorted!

Well, that went well. Plenty of action, anyway. No more big piles of paper.

Plenty of small piles, though – so many that my spare room has all but disappeared. My other half looked in at one point and commented – a little tactlessly, I felt:

Thought you were supposed to be tidying up! That bin’s still empty.

I explained how some of the piles were moving closer and just awaited a final check to see if there was anything – a pleasing turn of phrase, the merest germ of a good idea – that might save them from being pulped. And then there were those pieces that weren’t much good but had nostalgia appeal … little poems I wrote to stave off the crushing boredom of exam supervision back in the day, slightly inebriated dialogues written late at night when I should have been getting my beauty sleep, hastily scribbled accounts of incomprehensible dreams I’d woken from … and there, in a pile all its own, my historical novel whose narrator’s heavy dialect made its eighty-thousand words well-nigh unreadable.

That thing? You’ll never get round to doing anything with it. Unless it’s a comic short story about a bloke who reckons he’s a writer.

When she stopped laughing, I told her it wasn’t a bad idea. I’m well known for my stoical acceptance of mild adversity. Don’t know how I’d go in a real catastrophe but that, perhaps fortunately, is for the future.

29 March, at the earliest …

Actually, anything rather than recycle something I spent the best part of five years researching and writing! One of these days, you never know, I could get my second wind and turn it into a smash-hit stage-musical or a block-buster movie-scenario. Laugh all she likes, bless her, she’d be happy enough to sip exotic cocktails on our luxury yacht moored in Monaco or Cannes …

She left, still chuckling, perhaps planning her own best-seller. Perhaps not.

My Walter Mitty moment passed and I gazed despondently at all the paper covering the carpet and single bed like giant wedding confetti. My own plan, to pass all these rough drafts through the eagle eye of my hastily-devised list of aesthetic principles, was in tatters. Night was gathering and I’d got nowhere.

Time was of the essence. I had to act and act fast or I would be crying myself to sleep in the spare room surrounded by the appalling evidence of my own failure.

Yes, time was ticking by. No last-ditch flight to Brussels for me. It was either all in the bin or else back into big piles as if nothing had ever happened. Was I a complete and utter waste of space?

And then, in a blinding flash, it came to me …

The fault lay in my plan, of course! It had been too hasty. My red lines were far too rigid. Or else far too pink and hopelessly vague. And as for that ludicrous catch-all conditional at the end, what fool would devise a set of rules which ended with Rules are there to be broken?

It would have beggared belief if I hadn’t already known what an idiot I was. But there was no time to be lost. I had to come up with an alternative set of aesthetic principles and fast! However, too much of my intellectual energy – such as it was – had been frittered away trying to decide whether old scribblings were Almost Finished or Barely Begun or Half-Baked But Could Cook Through or Good In Parts or even Patchy But Full Of Unfulfilled Potential. It didn’t help that my ability to judge was hopelessly inconsistent, veering between feverish delight and febrile despondency as my ego and id battled it out before a supremely indifferent superego.

As chance would have it (and any readers of this account who are still awake might hope) there was a deus ex machina in the form of one I’d prepared earlier – the ‘one’ in question being a set of aesthetic principles I’d devised for an epic poem about something or other which I’d never even begun – the ‘set’ in question having come to light while I’d been going through my papers but which, preoccupied as I was with the search for literary gold, went unrecognised for what it really was.

I’ll leave you with a copy, in case it’s of any assistance in your own fruitless searches, because I must take to my bed tout suite so that I can be up bright and early tomorrow morning. After all is said and done, who knows what a new day will bring?

Besides, my crystal ball’s down the mender’s …

  1.  First thought, best thought   (Ginsberg)
  2.  Intuition attains the absolute   (Bergson)
  3.  Unity in diversity   (Hegel)
  4.  Without contraries, no progress   (Blake)
  5.  The words must be irrefutable   (Orton)
  6.  Show don’t tell   (James)
  7.  Write the story only you know   (Fountain)
  8.  I write to find out what I didn’t know I knew   (Frost)
  9.  In art, the subject matter is nothing   (Maurois)
  10.  What then?  No then.   (Kafka)
  11.  Be true to the earth   (Nietzsche)
  12.  Re-enchant the world   (Brazilian eco-artist)
  13.  It is necessary to be absolutely modern   (Rimbaud)
  14.  Make it new   (Pound)
  15.  Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order   (Proudhon)
  16.  Invent new values   (Nietzsche)
  17.  Forget yourself   (graffiti)
  18.  I is another   (Rimbaud)
  19.  See all beings in yourself and yourself in all beings and lose all fear (Eastern saying)
  20.  Only connect   (Forster)

PS  The above are paired – meant to be 10 of them but I couldn’t get the numbers right!

Bon nuit!

 

Image result for broken crystal ball

 

Image: America’s Survival

100 word story (#6)

And so I come to the end of my little story sequence – or perhaps, sequence of little stories.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of cramming a quart into a pint pot. Said it before but I find self-imposed constraints paradoxically liberating. Restricting word-length, making thematic connections and fitting in prompt words all seem to narrow down the possibilities – help stop me agonising over ‘Why this rather than that?’ and other pusillanimous quibbles!

Anyway, here’s the final offering after a little poetic preamble:

My tree is gone, a crow’s nest lost in space
Though found in time: perspective ever mine!
One way the church, its harvest festival
Just beans in tins and withered leaves on stone.
Another way the wood, its tangle wild
Forbidden fruit: temptation to a child …

We trod the hero-path to gold: a glint of treasure in each flower. Up every tree was knowledge without a fall. We knew the wood was ours, though shared with many children seldom seen. We saw their little marks, soon overgrown.

But these were nothing to the wounds we saw one sunny morning. Through trees, a glow brighter than sunshine. The first pool held a metal barrel, half-submerged, leaching luminous chemistry into living water. Every Leaf in the glade a ghastly day-glo yellow. The next pool awash with purple. The last pool acid green.

Too much information: cruelty, criminality, careless indifference.

Image result for polluted water

Image: Green Living – LoveToKnow

Gone West

Recently I was asked to perform a 10 minute sketch at a local music pub’s Americana night. My brief: you are Marshall Amp (geddit?) and we want you to devise a story to illustrate a line from a traditional American song. Oh, and you can do a harmonica solo …

Image result for marshall amps

Always game for a laugh, I agreed. I found a risqué old blues and wrote a cod-Western script to accompany it. Now, two days before the show, I learn it’s been cancelled. I reckon the promoter and the landlord have fallen out … again!

Shucks!

Now it’s no skin off my nose.  I don’t sing and play for money – they do buy me the occasional beer – but just because I like doing it. However this time, because I’ve gone the extra mile and devised a little routine, thought I might as well make it the basis of a blogpost. So here, my friends, is an exclusive preview of the sketch that never was …

Image result for sleeping cowboy

(Marshall Amp, star pinned on his check shirt, leather waistcoat, jeans, boots, ten-gallon hat over his eyes, asleep)

Hunh? Uh … yeah … howdy! Mus’ say that it’s a reel honor and privilege to be sat here in the world-famous Runnin’ Horse listnin’ to me … Marshall Amp … kinda well-known hereabouts on account of that byoootiful big beast up there on the wall behind y’all …

(Points at the life-size facsimile of an American bison head)

… yup, that’s the very las’ prairie buffalo of ’em all and it was yours truly what pulled the trigger … got the pictures to prove it, too, put ’em up all over Facebook … you seen ’em, ain’tcha?

(Adopts smug pose with foot on imaginary dead animal)

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it, Co-chise! … Now folk always tellin’ me – Hey, Marshall Amp, how come a lawman like you always out huntin’ endangered species like that? Well, I tell ’em, I reckon it give me summat to do since they stopped all that bounty huntin’ for lawbreakers … y’all seen them posters … Wanted, Dead or Alive!

‘Course the little woman always bitchin’ I ain’t never home, where’s the money comin’ from, all that stuff! You heard ’em – How’m I gonna make ends meet, Marshall? Well, take ma word for it, she know how to make ends meet! My back turn no more’n a minute on the trail o’ everlasting glory in shootin’ circles, know what ma wife done? Only high-tailed it downtown, cruisin’ all them there juke joints, fulla men with big pockets and no morals! You know them places …

(Looks suspiciously round audience)

Y’do? Well, I got my eye on you! You know Bootleg Sal? Howzabout Little Suzanne? Y’ever been down Django Hill?

Yeah, see, there’s this song they wrote about it. Kinda public-service warning to stay away from all that stuff. So I aim to sing it and all the while I’ll be watching out for signs o’ guilty knowledge. All you poker-faces out there, here come a li’l musical lie-detector test! Maybe you better join in with the chorus …

(Sings)

You know Bootleg Sal she used to live cross town
The law went there and he closed her down

Now you can’t get the stuff no more
You can’t get the stuff no more
No matter how you try
You can’t buy
You can’t get that stuff no more

You know that place on Django Hill
The law shut the gals and the liquor still

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

Little Suzanne used to sell hair grease
Got in trouble with the Chief of Police

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

(harmonica solo)

There go Amp with a great big knife
Somebody been foolin’ round with his wife

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

Old State street girl used to give it away
Now you can’t get it if you offers to pay

You can’t get the stuff, etc.

All the girls used to walk the streets
The law done put ’em off his beat

Now you can’t get the stuff no more
You can’t get the stuff no more
No matter how you try
You can’t buy
You can’t get that stuff no more

You get the message, people?

(Another hard scan of the audience)

Well, I guess you passed that test! So I aim to make some o’ you ma deputies ‘fore the night is out. Eyes an’ ears on the street, see … an’ hear? We gonna clean up this town, make it fit fo’ families, yeah? Make it a place where good ol’ private enterprise can flourish again.

So any o’ you folk wanna open up a house o’ ill-repute, won’t get no trouble from li’l old me, jus’ make a decent donation to the M.A.F.F.K.W.H. … that’s the Marshall Amp Fund For Keeping Wives Home. Don’t want no more How’m I gonna make ends meet, Marshall? Her end gonna stay jus’ where it is, thank y’very much, so howzabout a li’l old goodwill contribution?

(Holds out upturned hat)

Kinda shy, huh? Well, it’s not every day you meet a gen-u-ine hero. Jus’ think of it, folks, the very las’ prairie buffalo an’ I’ll be posin’ right next to her fo’ all o’ your pictures in two shakes of a –

(Promoter calls out “It’s plastic!”)

Whoa, baby, best not tell Ranger Rob (indicates pub landlord) or he’ll be asking me for his money back! Anyhow, I’ve been Marshall Amp and you’ve been … kinda patient!

Image result for Tumbleweed Animated GIF

Me again! On second thoughts, perhaps it’s just as well they cancelled. They probably wanted a nice little fireside chat conforming to cosy 1950s stereotypes, Burl Ives meets Gene Autry …

O ma darlin’
O ma darlin’
O ma darlin’ Clementine
You are lost
And gone forever
Dreadful sorry Clementine …

 

Images:

choiceguitaramplifiers.com    

zillustration studio news        

gifbin.com

100 word story – Forgiven

Gone?”

April nodded.

“But not forgotten?”

Trust him to come up with a cliché at a time like this! She watched the soles of her mother’s feet turn purple, as the nurses told her they would. Everything was correct.

Mum had cared about propriety until the last. “Is this normal?” she’d asked when her words began to flutter like released butterflies. “I’m glad. Where are my black nurses?”

They’d worked out what she meant. Mum wanted the ward orderlies who cleaned her room.

The ones who talked to her. They’d come in smiling. Now April smiled at her brother.

“Never!”

 

Image result for ward cleaning

 

 

Image: http://www.thefamilygp.com/mrsa-and-hospitals.htm

The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd

Day 3 of my week responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt, which today is Circus

A moment came to mind from my visit to a Moscow circus several years ago. I present it below exactly as it happened. The form is an acrostic, not an anagram as my two previous posts described it. For pointing this out, my thanks to stoneyfish whose excellent site is well worth a visit.

Here’s my poem. Cue feeble drumroll …

Climb! - and on command they mount a rusty motorbike,
Its engine spitting flame, those three bedraggled bears in 
Russian national costume: sidecar-rider, pillion, driver.
Circling at speed a ring of baying faces, they yelp and whine 
Until the crash. Hurt and scared, they rage at one another as
Sticks and harsh words beat them back to solitary cells.