Monday, 28 January 2013

Facebook Flash Fiction Experiment.

A friend's success in getting a stream of 80 + imaginative responses to his facebook post, inspired me to try a story experiment on facebook, based on the children's party game 'Consequences'.  You remember, description of a man and his name, description of a woman and name, where they met, what they said, what they did and so on. 

A few of us had some fun putting in some random words and phrases and I volunteered to edit it to see if I could make it in to some sort of story.  It is just a bit of nonsense, but it works in a quirky way.  And it just goes to show you can make a story from mostly anything!  I hope you enjoy it:

‘’If You Want to Get Ahead, Get a Hat’’

Based on a Facebook Game of Consequences.

Commuters on the 6.35am express to Kings Cross thought the shy man who always sat in the same seat, was a little odd. Some wondered if he was foreign, probably because of the foppish Fedora he wore. 

The hat hinted at his ‘other life’, where he was gregarious and dashing Rudolf Valentine Day-Lovitt.  It was Day-Lovitt who met fortnightly with his Cuban counterpart in the library.

Abigail Poultney was watching.  The man in the Fedora seemed familiar.  ‘Someone from my dangerous, exciting past?’ she wondered.  When she tried to recall it, memories floated away.  To Abi life was ’Before Being Jilted’ and ‘After Being Jilted’.  She’d been crazy since that day in 1983.  Her love had bolted from the alter before saying ‘I do’.  Now she felt compelled to wear her wedding dress whenever she went out, in case he was waiting with a special licence to marry her.

Abigail was adept with a needle, so the dress had several incarnations.  She was quite a trendsetter with New Romantics and Goths.  

One day Abigail spotted the man in the hat going to the station.  She followed him. The dress had been transformed into a reasonable facsimile of a business suit, so she didn’t feel out of place boarding the train.  Coveting the Fedora, she sat down next to him. ‘The perfect accessory’ she thought.

Rudolf recognised her and she him.  His eyes fixed on the diamond pin on her lapel.  Without preamble he said ‘’Abigail,   Where did you get that brooch?  It reminds me of one stolen from Baroness Hardup’’

‘’Stolen?  That can’t be.  My lover was an honest man.  Then again, the heartless cove jilted me’.

‘’He was anything but honest.  He jilted the Baroness too. Do you know how much that brooch is worth m’dear?

‘Its sentimental value is immeasurable.  I’ll never sell it.  Although I popped into Peplow’s last week.  They valued at £15k.  A fair offer do you think?’

Rudolf removed the Fedora and placed it on the seat between them. ‘Grab Mr Peplow’s hand off m’dear.  Then put that bounder Fortesque-Grungepocket behind you.  We need you back in the service’’. 


‘’To carry out a top secret mission to trap old Fortesque-Grungepocket. 

Abigail gasped ‘You know where he is? ‘
Rudolf paused. ‘You might as well know.  He discovered I have a lucrative sideline with our friends overseas.  Then he went into hiding.  But I’ve tracked him down.  Your job is to finish him for good.  I’m sure that will appeal after everything he’s put you through’.

Abi nodded. ‘Tell me the address’. 

Rudolf bent his head towards her.  Swiftly, Abi grabbed the gun hidden under the Fedora and pressed it against Rudolf’s temple.

‘FG never betrayed me.  There’s no Baroness Hardup.  You’re the reason FG ran from the church. You were going to shoot him.  I lost my sanity because of you.’’.  Abi pulled the trigger.  What was left of Rudi fell back against the seat.

Stepping daintily on to the platform Abigail set the Fedora jauntily on her curls. She smiled at the porter ‘The things a girl has to do these days to get ahead’.


Contributors in alphabetical order: 
Maggie Doyle, Alan Durham, Tana Durham, Andy Kirk, Damon Lord, Andrew Owens, Polly Robinson. 

Autumn Quarter 2012

Our French trip in September and half of October was great, although the weather wasn't brilliant.  Another chance to practice our French which does improve as we travel about.   We journeyed down from Dunkirque through Picardy, the Somme area, Orleans then Tours.  We meandered along the Loire Valley to Saumur, then up north to Le Mans and Neufchatel before staying the last night in a waterlogged field at a campsite near Calais. 

I plan to write some more articles in 2013, about our travels and the places we stayed in the hope of getting them published.  So will save most of the detail for these, but will return to my blog in 2013 with some pics and highspots of our trip.  Right now though I'm hurrying on so I can finally get to Christmas and then to this year - 2013.

When we returned to England we spent a pleasant couple of days with our lovely family in the South East before travelling home. 

We had a treat in October organised by our WLF friends.  A wonderful walk on the Malvern Hills, in fog (so no views) with poetry along the way from some very talented people before returning to the Malvern Hills Hotel for refreshment and more poems by local writers.  Another great fundraiser for the festival.  Everyone enjoyed it so much that we have a Malvern Midsummer's Eve Walk planned to take place during the Literary Festival in June this year.

There was another family trip to Northumberland, with a Hallowe'en party at Fallowfield Dene in November.  Then on to the end of the year with plenty of story writing and reading action through the writers' circle and the very lively spoken word groups that exist in our area.  A friend's book launch (Girl's Got Rhythm by Polly Robinson), the launch of WLF Flash Fiction Anthology (Grasshopper has a story in it) and an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, read by members of WLF and the Writers' Circle at the Guildhall during the Victorian Christmas Fair.

Christmas was spent with the younger members of our lovely family and our daughter in law's parents in the South East.  A truly full and happy year that we are so thankful for.

Once again I have been foiled in my attempts to load photos.  Why?

Summer Quarter 2012

I was a volunteer steward for the first time at Worcestershire Literary Festival in June 2012 and spent an enjoyable time welcoming speakers and guests to the events.  It was just the second year of the festival, and at the wrap up meeting, Grasshopper and I found ourselves becoming a part of the committee and from then forming a fundrasing committee.  The whole WLF team felt we needed to have an all year round fundraising drive to give us some funds to stage the WLF 2103. 

July found us planning our August trip to Northumberland, which as always was lovely.  It is such a beautiful area (see previous post for Fallowfield Dene our recomended campsite near Hexham).

Then our September adventure to France. First though I had a soft toy Monster to make (Name the Monster Competition), a tombola to organise with Grasshopper, and lots of cakes to bake for a children's story telling Monster Morning at our local library.  We had lots of help from friends to make the first of the fundraisers for WLF a great success.  Lots of children came and enjoyed Maggie Doyle's (Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2012) monster poems and stories as well as her 'How to Write Good Stories' workshop.  About 30 children entered the writing competition and we took a decent amount for WLF 2013. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

2012 Review, Spring

April: Grasshopper and I volunteered to support Worcestershire Literary Festival with the  'Literally in a Day' at The Hive, Worcester's new, iconic University and Public Library.  The building was still to be completed before being officially opened by the Queen.  The public came in droves to the day to see what the new library had to offer and many attended WLF's workshops.  Members of Worcester Writers' Circle (me included) read some of their humorous stories.  Volunteers took it in turns to look after the WWC stand, support the workshop leaders and answer queries.  Young people recited some of their brilliant and inventive poetry, as did the 2011-2012 Poet Laureate Theo Theobald.

My trike riding adventure round Rutland Water made me determined that I was not going to spend the rest of my life being denied the joy of cycling.  Two wheelers were out.  I'm too old to bounce. So I set about researching tricycles on the internet.  Eventually I decided on a British made, folding Pashley that I bought locally.  Because it just bends in the middle it doesn't fold very small, however with a bit of manoeuvring it does fit in the back storage compartment of Wanda (motorhome), along with Grasshopper's new bike.  And yes it has been away with us.  I'm proud to say I've ridden it at home, elsewhere in England and in France in 2012.  The bad weather towards the end of 2012 and so far in 2013,  brought cycling activities to a temporary halt, however we've had a nice couple of days here so I'm getting in the mood again.

May: We spent a splendid two weeks in Northumberland visiting family.  Enjoyed spending time with Mum and went with Sis to a weavers', spinners' and dyers' event and bought some lovely combed, dyed hanks of sheeps wool (called roving).  Sis has infected me with her interest in felting so we also went to Feltwerk in Hexham where Carolin showed us how to make Summer Fairies.  Photo will be included here if I can ever manage to get Blogger to upload pics into my blog again. 

I had visions of myself in a floral cotton frock, hair flowing behind me, cycling along french country lanes.  From a basket on the back, a red and white gingham table cloth peeps out.  It conceals du fromage, un bouteille de vin rouge and des baguettes.  Forget the fact that I have shortish hair, I didn't have the basket!  The one made by Pashley (black, plastic coated wire) is a £90.  Ridiculous!  So I found the perfect one on the internet.  A cat carrier, black, plastic coated wire - pretty similar.  With postage it was about £25. Sorted.  Secured to the frame between the back wheels with some black plastic coated chain and small padlocks it works a treat.  Course it does mean that when I'm out with Grasshopper I carry all the coats, flasks, shopping.  We haven't managed a proper picnic yet.  The weather just hasn't been good enough. 

The Olympic torch went through Worcester.  It passed about a mile from where we live.  I surpised myself by feeling very pleased and privileged to see it being run past me, held aloft by one of the bearers.

June: Grasshopper's birthday.  His bike was his pressie.  Most of the month focused on Worcestershire Literary Festival.  Worcester Writers' Circle put on two events - 'Worcester Sauce' (saucy stories) and 'You can't be Serious' (humorous stories).  The new Worcestershire Poet Laureate was selected at the Launch Event.  Maggie Doyle has been a fantastic PL during 2012-2013, and a great supporter of the year round Worcestershire Literary Festival events.  Grasshopper and I volunteered to be 'on the door', 'meet and greet' and most importantly take ticket money at many of the WLF events over the 10 day period.  It was all good fun.  One of the perks was that we got to hear many of the speakers for free!  Roll on the WLF in June 2013.  See you there.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Welcome 2013, New Year, Same Resolutions!

So my last entry was 7th January 2012? !   Ah well.      There, that's self pity and flagellation finished with.

It's traditional to look back over the previous year.  So over the next 4 posts I'm going to precis of some of the good stuff that happened in the last twelve months.  Here are the first three:
January: Very excited.  Visit to Malvern Theatre to see 'The Secret Garden'.  Childhood (perhaps all time) favourite book.  Age 10, I fell in love with Dickon. I must have kept the model of Dickon hidden in my heart, because 8 years later I recognised something special in a young chap who picked me up at a college dance.  Two years later I married him.  The play at Malvern?  It was not quite a play and not quite a pantomime.  Disappointing.  My Dickon - forty four years on?  Still living up to expectations.
February: Attended a Comedy workshop.  The hardest genre to write in my opinion so I was desperate to learn.  Could have been great. Unfortunately the trainer did not ask anyone what they wanted to achieve from the workshop, so couldn't deliver. 
March: Attended very interesting talk about Kathleen Ferrier at the U3A.  The 'wireless' played a big part in my growing up.  Listen with Mother, Children's Hour, Housewives Choice, Workers' Playtime, Two Way Family Favourites - I loved them all.  As a pre-school child I found Kathleen Ferrier's gorgeous contralto voice captivating, so I memorised her name and never forgot it.
Had a lovely week's break at Barnsdale Hall, Rutland Water (I always wanted to visit Rutland).  The hotel and the area were great.  Lots to see and do.  Plus I had a first.  I cycled!  Yes! I'm the one person in the world who had never owned or ridden any kind of cycle.  The cycle hire shop on the side of Rutland Water had a TRICYCLE for hire.  The very helpful young man was kindness itself and did not laugh as he adjusted the saddle and handlebars for me.  Soon we were off around the Rutland Water cycle path - Grasshopper on a bike and me on the trike.  Despite the saddle becoming more excrutiatingly 'razor like' the further we went, I loved the experience. Wth lots of stops for refreshments, and much walking to ease the pain in my posterior, I managed six miles from the cycle hire shop to St.Matthews Church, Normanton, and back again. This beautiful church was saved when the valley was flooded for the reservoir.
We had a thoroughly great time.  This adventure had longer term impact.  More of that in later posts.
NB. I wanted to insert 2 photos in this post, and have tried many times, over several days to do this, without success.  If I'm to ever get through 2012 and move on into 2013 I cannot delay posting this any longer.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Don't Jog, Just Jot

Just spotted - in the Daily Mail (p3 Sat 7th Jan) - if you prefer to lift a pen rather than weights, and choose typing over tap dancing you can be slimmer than your friends as long as you write for 15 minutes a day about topics that matter to you, and they don't. 

The theory is if you write about things you value, you feel good about yourself and lose the urge to snack.  Stanford University, USA and Rentford University College, Canada tested 2 groups of women.  The lucky group wrote about their favourite things and lost 3.4lbs in four months.  The control group wrote about inconsequentials and put on 2.7lbs in the same period. I bet group 2 were furious when they found out.

So only another 10 minutes and 45 seconds to go and I won't want that cup of bedtime hot chocolate. 
Oh what the heck.  Put the kettle on will you love?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Mosaic Table - C'est Fini

I'm very happy with the finish on the mosaic table I started way back in the autumn.  After my last post on it (13.12.11), I rubbed a fine sandpaper block over the sharp edges of the smaller tile pieces, mixed some more grout, tinted it with acrylic paint and covered the whole top with another layer.  After I'd cleaned it off and given the mosaic a polish with a soft cloth I finally achieved the smooth finish I wanted.  It proved to be a very useful additional table for guests' drinks over Christmas and New Year.  As I had plenty of tiles left over, I mosaic-ed another two tables with toning tiles, but different patterns.  I'm keeping photos of those two just in case I write a book about crafts!

I've started a new craft, again thanks to Kirstie Allsop who demonstrated needle felting in her programme, and to Grasshopper and Sis who between them bought me the tools, book and materials to get started.  My first attempt is a flower shape, which I'll either make into a brooch or a picture!

While I'm on the subject of crafts, a new craft materials shop has just opened in Worcester.  It's great to see that entrepreneurial spirit continues despite messages of financial gloom we keep hearing.  I found Crafty Mo's shop yesterday and had a good chat with Mo who was very informative and helpful.  She told me about the craft workshops she is planning to start in the next few weeks.  I bought a lovely scarlet wool roving to add to my collection of wools for needle felting.  If you live in the Worcester area, like shopping in small local shops and want to know more, you can find Crafty Mo's page on Facebook.