Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Plight of the ‘Stares’


Barely has a Thursday passed without somebody somewhere writing a short story about the plight of the stares.

Well, in recent history, anyway.

The stares were a small breed of mammal (akin to the marmoset) and that ‘were’ earlier in this sentence means that they no longer ‘are’ – so, I am talking about a lost species from long ago.

They had huge eyes that would lock onto yours (if you were looking at them) and they would never blink or lose eye contact until you were forced to break that link and then they could carry on their foraging for the tiny leaves that were their staple diet. Obviously, their tendency to do the weird eye-contact thing led to them being called ‘Stares.’

The last Stares were seen in the late nineteenth century in their native South American habitat. But,, as is the case with mankind’s attempts to see how something works they take it apart and can’t always put it back together.

The Stares (or Oculi Maclamutus) were thought by the native South Americans (mainly in Peru and Chile) to be a sign of the evil eye and many Stares were short-lived and only those in families (called ‘Lukks’) in the deepest darkest forests were able to flourish (their eyesight was most useful in the darkness).

All the above is obviously false and just an exercise on writing something with a tinge of believability. So, my apologies if the plight of the Occuli Maclamutus was at all distressing to you – It is, sadly, the case that a lot of other species are going / have gone this way.

So, spare a thought for the little ones that dwell in the jungles and the forests of the world – something must be done or we shall lose them (the little ones, the forests, and the world!)

The Kinkajou


The Kinkajou is a lonely sort
Never signals left when it comes into port
Just won’t listen to the things it’s told
Turns off the heating; then wonders why it gets cold

Doesn’t give a hoot when he’s in his car
Poops in the water when he goes to the spa
Holes in his socks, only wears one shoe
Took out all the pages from a book of who’s who

Cheeky little chappie
Funny little fellow
Hippy hoppy happy
Favourite colour… Green

The Kinkajou is a lonely type
He’s calm and subtle – ignore the hype
Sits in the corner, minds his own business
Doesn’t care for fuss; doesn’t crave dizziness
No, no, no, that’s not him; it’s some other mammal
He’s small and totally unlike to a two-hump camel

He’s a crafty one
Seeks employment
In others misfortune
And his own enjoyment.

That Kinkajou… is just like you!

Oranges are not the only fruit (that doesn’t rhyme)


I juggled some oranges

Outside of Gorringes

In Lewes, near Brighton, one day

They said “What are you doing?

We thought you were queuing

to look at the lots, here today.”

I said, “It’s high time

The orange had a rhyme

And your auction house so fits the bill

So, I’m juggling fruit

In my very best suit

They said no one could do it –

But, I will!

When Duncan Looked Out Of His Window


When Duncan looked out of his window

When Duncan got up that rainy Sunday morning, he secretly wished that he had somebody to keep his secret wishes from.

But, he didn’t.

He put the kettle on (it didn’t suit him) so he took it off again and put a suit on (that only suited him slightly better).

Then he tried to make himself a cup of tea (he was an amateur magician, so he just imagined that he could do such things) and, as that was unsuccessful, he had a glass of water.

After his frugal breakfast he thought about what exciting things he could do on a wet Sunday in whatever month it was. He could go out, and… or, he could stay in.

So, he stayed in. Pottering about. “Expialidocious!” and “Impervious!” he would pronounce at odd moments; and once he even tried “Expelliarmus !“ the disarming spell (and then found that he had no arms – but, it did wear off after a while).

Duncan was most surprised to hear a knock at the door at around about a half past nine (it wasn’t his birthday – just a note to add detail; it also wasn’t a Tuesday). Duncan looked out of the window; but, as the window looked over the back garden and the door was at the front of the house, this didn’t help.

Duncan tried to open the front door. Then he decided to unlock it and try again. He unlocked the front door; then, he tried to open it, again.

Funnily, it opened this time (now that he had unlocked it). It was one of those stable doors (much better than the unstable ones) and you could open up a half of it, or both halves (or neither). Duncan opened up the bottom half and was greeted by a pair of legs (including ankles and accompanying booted feet).

Hello!” greeted Duncan. “Can I help you?” (He was very polite)

A voice travelled under the door to reach his ears (it was the best available route) “Yes, I am looking for a Dormouse who goes by the name of Duncan – Duncan the Dormouse.”

That would be me!” Duncan became all excited. “I am Duncan – Duncan the Dormouse; although my real name is ‘Duncan Theodore’ and I am a mouse; but, well, things get lost in translation when documents are hand-written. And, when I was a small mouse (I still am, actually) my mother used to say to me ‘Duncan, if you live to a ripe old age like your grandma, I’ll be surprised – and. do you know what? No? Well, she was often surprised. “

But, there’s me going on and on and… can I invite you in for a glass of water?”

No, thank you.” came the voice. “I was just carrying out a census. I have all the information that I need; thank you, again.” and the voice left (taking the legs and booted feet with it.

Duncan stood for a short while. Then a long while. Then closed the door, sadly.

Then Duncan went and looked out of his window.

Peruvian Pachyderms

From a long time ago – re-blogging as I like this and it needs to be continued – G:)

Graeme Sandford


I was attending a worship workshop on-board a warship in Worksop… when…

Peter Pitter, Patrick Pitter’s patronising papa, pounced, then pronounced!

“What do you think of the plight of Peruvian Pachyderms?”

Momentarily nonplussed (and dumbfounded) I hesitantly replied

‘______________’ and stood there gawping like ‘a stock fish’ (Tempest A3S2)

“Thought as much!” he rejoined at my silence.

“Shallow people never run in deep currents!”

He always spoke in questions or exclamatorialisms (if there is such a word – and if there is it applies to him; and if it doesn’t exist, it should, and it would apply to him solely); and so my head took quite a while to catch up once I’d translated his words into plain, understandable, unadulterated, English.


He flounced off – well, actually he just walked away, but I preferred to envision him flouncing, as it gave me some small consolational amount of…

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A Revised History of the Sixteenth Century

sixteenth century

v/o Let us enter the TARDIS and return to a page in history

GRAMS: Dr Who music

Let us go back to the very start of the fifteen hundreds – fifteen-oh-nine if you want to be precise.

Part The First (or, He Was Henry the Eighth, He Was)

The miserly king, Henry the Seventh, was dead and his young and handsome son, Henry the Eighth ascended to the throne (as you can see we were going through another succession of Henry kings – similar to the French with their long line of Louis kings – if it hadn’t have been for the French revolution they’d have been up to King Louis the Soixante-Neuf by now).

The money that his father had scrimped and saved allowed the young Henry the Eighth to dabble in the old English pastime of warring with the French… or the Scottish… or both simultaneously. France at this time was being ruled by the even younger and even more handsome than Henry the Eighth, Francois le Une (that’s Francis the First, in English – his elder brother Louis having succumbed to the royal disease of dying before getting a number).

One-upmanship was rife.

Henry the Eighth, a little miffed at not being the youngest, most handsomest, most youngest monarch in Europe decided to be a patron to the arts. Music and literature had recently arrived hot foot from the Florentine Renaissance of years before and Henry decided to write music..

GRAMS: Greensleeves

Greensleeves, serious literature (that one that the pope liked and gave him Fidei Defensor – Defender of the faith – Catholicism!), inventing a new English Religion (Protestantism – that the Pope didn‘t like quite so much) and even invent sporting games, such as tennis (that’s real tennis, not the imaginary game that is played today. There was an English singles winner at Wimbledon for 38 years running (1509-47) as long as Henry reigned, in fact (now there is just English rain at Wimbledon), but Henry the Eighth didn’t do so well in the doubles, as he had many problems with his partners.

And so in January Fifteen-Hundred and Forty-Seven, Henry the Eighth died, a mere two months before his rival and arch enemy Francis the First of France (but Henry the Eighth did beat Francis The First six wives to two (nowadays known as a ‘kingly win‘ in tennis. Henry was followed to the throne of England by his son Edward the Sixth (Henry’s son Henry had died beforehand, as had his other sons, Henry, Henry, Henry and Henry). Edward the Sixth managed to live just long enough to allow his half-sister, half-monster, Mary the First (who gave her name to the drink “I’ll have a Bloody Mary“) succeed him. Mary the First’s reign is remembered for her inviting a few Protestants round for supper and then burning the steaks (and the Protestants upon them), marrying a Spaniard (there are some things worse, but I’m not sure what) and then losing back to the French, Calais (our last remaining English outpost in France, if you don‘t include the Channel Islands, and who does?). Mary the First died after having ‘Calais’ tattooed on her heart (not a wise move in those far off days of leeches and the letting of blood.

Then came Gloriana to the throne, Our first Queen called Elizabeth, our ‘Virgin’ queen (allegedly), and just at the right time for the Golden Age, too. War with France and Scotland was stopped immediately, and war with Spain was assumed for a change. Single-handedly, Queen Elizabeth the First destroyed the Spanish Armada and sent Philip the Second of Spain back to Cadiz with a singing beard.

Thus began a time of peace and happiness in the land. Frivolities such as the theatre became popular and from out of the soldiery came one of the greatest playwrights that the world will ever know.

Part the Second (or Where There’s A Will There’s A Play)

His story is somewhat sketchy, but here is my version of events.

Born in Warwickshire in 1564 of humble origins, William Shakespeare was a youth of many talents. He could read and write fluently by the age of five, loved to listen to the old songs (mainly Greensleeves, if truth be known) and recite old and curiously spelt poetry at the drop of a hat (albeit an Elizabethan hat). So William was destined to be a great… soldier. One day, during the threat of the Spanish Armada) whilst camped at Beachy Head, William was there on lookout duty, spear at the ready, when a conversation with a colleague was struck. Here is that imagined conversation in part.

Will: Doust thou thinkest that the Warre Shalt be done by Christmas, my colleague?

Coll: That’s wot they are saying back at the barracks.

Will: Oh woest me that I shalt not see my family (and my second best bed) again, if we do not defeat the hosts of Spain.

Coll: Yes, right!

Will: I shallst shake my spear at the evil foe, and be gone the Spaniard from our shores.

Coll: If you must.

Will: There ‘tis done.


Will: my colleague?

Coll: (warily) Yes?

Will: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s Day?

Coll: I’d rather you didn’t

Will: Well I am a writer, not a fighter!


And so, with William Shakespeare, single-handedly defeating the Spanish Armada, a career move was decided upon, and ten years later William Shakespeare became an overnight sensation.

William Shakespeare’s story continued beyond the Sixteenth Century, but that Will, will be spoken of at a later date.

Elizabeth the First reigned for 43 years (reigning almost as much as you’d get on a long weekend in Birmingham) and William Shakespeare, the Swan of Avon, was Bard (from all the public houses in Stratford, and then from all the wine bars in affluent (and oftentimes effluent) London.

When Queen Elizabeth the First died in the year sixteen-hundred and three, her father’s, elder sister’s, son‘s, son‘s son, James the Sixth, King of Scotland, became King James the First of England as well.

But that story lies ahead in the Sixteen-hundreds – otherwise known as “The Seventeenth Century“.

I Must Feed the Inner Poet in Me

inner poet

I must feed the inner poet in me
Or he will fade and die
And I will lose him for all times
There will be no more whimsical rhymes

I must feed him the choicest words and phrases

That he can use to build his poems as he goes through phases

Of creating nonsense verse and haiku

Limerick and the mighty narrative poems that take an hour or two

To waffle through.

I must feed him; him in his horn-rimmed poet’s glasses and button-down clothing

Even though he is held up like this to the fear and loathing

As in Las Vegas; Staying in Las Vegas on a poet’s wages;

Which are said to be as thin As sin

I have to feed the poet inside of me

With the fuel for his rickety-finickity poetry vehicle

Or he will break down

And cry

He will cry out:

“Oh! Muse, thou hast forsaken me?”
(For he often speaks anachronistically)
“Thou hast left me in my hour of need,

Left me barren and parched

With just an orange to eat from.”

I have to feed said poet with the twists and turns of humanity’s foibles.
So, that like a cat he can cough them up at inopportune moments in PDA (public displays of affliction);

Where, with conviction, he will arrest the minds and the hearts of a willing audience.

I told you he was hungry
Now he’s having delusions
But, I am under no illusions
I know that I will continue to feed the poet that is within me

For I am not a poet without him.

Animal Matters


I am aware, Wolf, that the things you say are true; but, I am still having trouble getting used to a talking wolf.”

Wolf the wolf looked at the penguin.

You’ll get used to it; but, it’s beyond me what you are doing in this laundrette!” said Wolf.

Just waiting for my washing to finish.” elucidated Pengui the Penguin.

Con Fettuccine

spinning Machine

I don’t know when or where the tradition of throwing pasta-rice started. So, I will either look it up… or I shall just make it up – guess which I choose to do.

It was 1421 in Parmiggia, Italy, when Guissepi MonteVicci managed to upset his wife (not for the first time, nor the last). How he did this remains to be told – so, tell it I shall.

Guissepi was working industriously in his workshop at the back of his bakery. He was deeply engrossed in the pursuit of making a spinning dryer; with which he could more easily dry the freshly-made moist pasta, and thereby cut down on the labour required to do this and also to increase his output.

Guissepi was an inventor and a dreamer (the two often collide) and this was just one of a number of projects that Guissepi had tried and (as he was not that good) failed to finish. His wife, however, was fed up with his hours ‘uselessly pottering’ in his workshop. “Guissepi! Make something useful – like a cup of tea!” She would shout but, in Italian) – she did have the semblance of a sense of humour – after all, she had married Guissepi MonteVicci.

By about 1427, Guissepi had discovered many things about inventing. Foremost of those was the fact that he was not cut out be one. The only thing that he had created that was successful (with the help of his dear wife) was his son, Ginaldo, who was now the owner of MonteVicci’s Gelato in Parmiggia which also had his newest stores in Rigoletia and Vespusali – and his Gelato were the best-selling and most=talked about in the whole of Perugillia Province. Which made Guissepi proud, but a little miffed that his name was now growing in reputation through his son’s efforts and not his own.

In 1431, Guissepi was becoming n old man. He reminisced about the promise of his youth, and the possibilities he saw now beyond him. He was in his workshop, dusting off the old projects when he thought of his one great idea – it struck him that if he just tweaked this old mechanical dryer a tad he could use it to dry the new pasta-rice that was becoming popular locally. After a few days of ‘trial an error’ (his usually method) he called the townspeople together in the market square to see his ‘finished’ Pasta-Rice Dryer.

It was a Saturday in Parmiggia and it was also ‘Wedding Season’ so, the market square was busy with the intrigued and the indifferent. Quite a crowd, in fact, had gathered. Guissepi spoke a few wise words (he only knew a few) and bent to starting the machine spinning. A few turns on the lever and the round surface of the dryer span – interlocking rings went both clockwise and anti-clockwise creating an ‘aaaah!’ of the villagers being actually impressed.

Guissepi looked upon his machine and smiled – he had created the MonteVicci Pasta-Rice Dryer – ‘A Marvel of a Time-Saving Device’ was the headline that he saw for it.

It’s slowing down!” cried a young voice from amidst the throng. The crowd moved closer to look,

So it is!” another voice.

Guissepi held up a hand. “I just need to turn the lever every so often to keep it turning. But, it is still very versatile.” He smiled to the crowd. “And it can go much faster than this.”

Guissepi returned to the lever and vigorously pressed it down half a dozen times – then a few more times for luck. The MonteVicci Pasta-Rice Dryer picked up speed, then it picked up more speed, then it went haywire. The cogs and gubbins of its mechanism decided to create havoc.

As you surely know, Pasta-Rice dries the quickest when it is given plenty of air (this removes moisture best). This Pasta-Rice was certainly given a lot of air. It went everywhere. The crowd were showered with it; and a wedding party, who were just celebrating the marriage of a young couple, found drying Pasta-Rice falling as if from the Heavens, as if giving a spiritual blessing on the betrothal (a custom that is now traditional).

Guissepi was almost inconsolable about his machines misfortune; but, he revived his spirits when, surprisingly, he was heralded as the inventor of the infamous MonteVicci Pasta-Rice-Distribution Machine. Guissepi MonteVicci died in 1445 after two stints as Mayor and one in jail; and his wife stayed with him until the end, when they were both killed when one of Guissepi’s Fruit-Straining Devices had a little hiccup from over-stressing the fermenting chamber. But, they were in their 80s, so they had had good lives.

There is a plaque in Parmiggia Market Square – sadly, it’s for Ginaldo MonteVicci and his Gelato,

Vancouver Tightened That


“Vancouver, here I come,” he uttered quietly to himself. He tightened his seat-belt, laid his head back onto the head-rest and closed his eyes. “That was that,” he thought to himself. But of course it wasn’t. Not by a long way.

Vancouver was a destination chosen completely at random in the airport by closing his eyes, jabbing a finger at a world map, and hurriedly switching from Greenland to Canada. The next flight he could get bound for Canada was destined for Vancouver and that was duly arranged and paid for. He knew that he was flying into the unknown, but he was also flying away from the very well known. Restrictions around him had recently tightened to such an extent that he was, literally, hounded from front cover to back cover. He was a writer, that was to say he was the hottest property this, or any side, of Canary Wharf. He was too visible in London, his profile was as low as could be managed, but that wasn’t saying much. Every day it felt as if the noose of notoriety was closing tighter and tighter around his neck. If it tightened any more, he felt that he would have gone past any hope of return. Thus Vancouver beckoned him.

“Would Sir like a drink?” asked a silken voice.

He pulled himself awake and blinked his eyes three or four times. He looked up into the smiling eyes of a Canada Airways stewardess. “Um, yes, that would be very nice, thank you,” he managed weakly. “I’ll have a bitter lemon with ice please.

“Certainly, Sir, I’ll be one moment,” she smiled at him with her whole face and turned to her task.

“Where are we in our journey? he asked. “I don’t suppose we’ve gone that far yet.”

“We are well out over the Atlantic now, Sir. Almost four hours out and only six more to go,” she answered smoothly. “Following wind and clear conditions mean that we are ahead of schedule – Vancouver in time for breakfast, Sir.”

“Thanks,” he responded. “Thanks, again,” for the drink this time.

“You’re welcome, Sir. Give a push on the green button there if you require anything else.” She moved off down the aisle to light up someone else’s moment.

Vancouver for breakfast. A quiet breakfast he hoped. A little table for one outside the local Canadian Starbucks. No hoards of news-hounds or autograph-hunters that appeared continuously just to dissolve his solitude. He’d still have to get down to his writing again, but, temporarily at least, he was in a position to give that a rest for a while. He would let the fuss die down and approach the future differently. His agent would have gone spare by now, but a phone call to him from Vancouver airport would at least let him know that he was still in the land of the scribbling.

He turned to the window and mulled a few things over as the sky passed by in a never-ending procession of clear blue and just the occasional fluffy white cloud in the distance. The cold blue sea was far below somewhere, but he didn’t feel the need to confirm its existence. He was quite happy that they kept their mutual distance and didn’t want to think too much on the possibility of anything untoward happening. He was glad that he was not hampered by anybody being in the seat next to him and enjoyed the comfort space the aircraft designers had allocated for his leg-room.

What a month he had just experienced. A ‘roller-coaster ride from the writer of the decade’ they had written. And people had latched on to his work just like that (he mentally clicked his fingers – ‘click’). One minute total anonymity, the next his name and face were known from one end of the kingdom to the other. He couldn’t move without a camera being there to record any and every event and non-event. His actions were hot stuff in the papers and he was shown on television more than most hair-care adverts ever were.

He had resolved to escape. His willpower was such that he was determined in his need and desires to leave behind all the hype and circumstance. Heaped upon this was the urge to avoid the three ring circus that was what his life would become if he didn’t act now. He was resolved to run his life the way that he wanted it run. He had to leave and his need for action determined that he had to leave straight away. He was adamant at the airport to make for a destination away from everything. He felt a choice had to be made. Ambition could be put on hold, but realism was his driving force.

Vancouver tightened that.

A thought happened in his head. He took out a notebook and a biro.

Scarlet clad and smart, she leaned forward into his personal space. “Would sir like a little excitement?”

Mitchell smiled at the stewardess. “That would be just what the writer ordered.” He noticed her matching scarf and lipstick tied and applied to perfection and rose to follow her to the rear of the aircraft.

PS This story is taken from the premise of “take three words at random from a book and write a story around them – “Vancouver”, “tightened” and “that” came out in that order – this is the result.