Tag Archives: #prose

The Octogenarian’s Rusty Bicycling Club.

‘Grandad was the oldest, at 89, and ‘Nipper’ the newest member of the O.R.B.C. at 80 years, three months and two days – that’s if you didn’t take into count their trusty ‘steeds’, born of a time when Queen Victoria was still fondly remembered from her 1885 visit to Nottingham for the state opening of the Raleigh Bicycle Company.

They rode in single file along the country lanes in the colours of the lead cyclist of the Tour de France, their fluorescent yellow garb could be seen from space, and, on night-rides the crimson and white of their lights closely rivalled the Blackpool illuminations.

Often, you would hear their cycling songs long before they came into sight; one such is printed below,

‘Sturmey-Archer, Sturmey-Archer,

you can change gear when you like,

unless you are blessed

with a fixed wheel on your bike!’

LIskeard Writers Group Prompts for 01/09/2020

1. The call of cold water

2. Finding a way back home

3. The mysterious sound of silence

Coldwater was a small, backwards town by the foot of Mount Edssegan, near to the border of Kelwith and Drammel Counties; yet it paid no dues to either.

Hemmed in as it was by the two rivers, Tally and Flynn, it survived by its trade with nearby villages and sending ground flour and other foodstuffs along the rivers to places further away. It used to be called a lost town.

However, this story is not about Coldwater.

I was lost, and fearful of ever finding a way back home. I had foolishly set off with little in the way of provisions and wearing light Summer clothing, when the Autumn chill at night was likely to reach right inside and leach the strength from an unseasoned rookie out for adventure.

They said at school that I was destined for failure – well, at least I remember something from my schooldays – I never liked Geography, and Surviving in the Wild hadn’t been on the syllabus then.

I lay on the ground coated in leaves where I had fallen. My breath was shallow and fluttering. I might not last the night.

All the creatures had settled down for their nocturnal slumbers – even the cicadas – and there was I listening to the mysterious sound that has enveloped me… the sound of silence. Difficult to grasp at nothing, but there it was. Not a leaf rustling, nor a twig snapping, but I knew that I was being followed deeper and deeper into the darkness. Some being was shadowing my path, staying at a constant distance, and waiting.

I was waiting, too; but, from the other side of the equation. My loss would be another’s gain – my departure the ending that I deserved, and my body would be disposed of in one of many unimaginable (or imaginable) ways.

Waking from the deepest of sleeps, I yawned and rubbed at my bleary eyes. Last night’s sleep had been filled with vivid dreams, that, all too often, verged on the border of nightmares. I always woke feeling drained and with a sense of onerous misgiving from these sorts of image-laden nights.

I arose and walked unsteadily to the door of my room. Upon opening the door I was confronted by a shape the size of a small garden shed. Amorphous to say the least, it was probably just a foreshadowing of the dreads that the day would bring me.

“Coffee! I need coffee!” I spoke.

The amorphous shape followed me to the kitchen – I bet it was ‘hungry’, too.

I sipped the freshly percolated brew, caffeine firing up the synapses to bring my brain online.

The amorphous shape – I shall call him ‘Syd’ – hovered fractionally above the ground; silent, thoughtful, brooding.

Syd looked at me as if to say, ‘Get a life!’. I could but agree. How is it that the truth spoken by others is easier to accept than the truth you yourself try to voice. But, yes, Syd was right. I did need to get a life.

The morning passed. Syd and I stared at each other. The world carried on beyond these four walls. Sentences became phrases. Words dissolved into l o n e l e t t e r s.

Credit where Credit is due.

“The bird wishes it were a cloud. The cloud wishes it were a bird.”

— Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali polymath (1861-1941). Number “35” from Stray Birds (The Macmillan Co., 1916).

“You should always credit the poet or the writer – it is only politer.”

Graeme Sandford (1962-20—), Responses to posts, 2020.


It’s not the end of the world (as we might know it), but the end of the end – with all the bells and whistles ringing loud.

Lily put Gulliver’s travels down to experience; she didn’t like to nag but hoped to ignore his favourite biscuits, then ate the lot of them in one sitting – the story unravels about Gulliver’s travels and how we travel to lands where people are small and horses rule.

Houyhnhnms: ‘Gulliver’ – who him?

“Ding! Ding!” said the Cyclist.

(‘Ha! Ha!” said the clown – but, that, was many years ago.)

‘Ding! Ding!” said the cyclist, as he saw the man and his two dogs.

The man turned, saw the cyclist, and moved his entourage to he side of the narrow lane. The cyclist passed by, calling his thanks.

“My bell doesn’t have a bike!” he offered.

“Don’t you mean ‘your bike doesn’t have a bell?’ queried the man.

“That, too!” he replied, as he faded into the distance. “That, too!”

I considered the strangeness of the world – for ‘I’ was that man.

Then we carried upon our way.

Later, I was near the church when I heard a familiar sound, ‘Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!’ and so on, until twelve ‘Dings!’ had been ‘dinged!’

There, in front of the church, was the cyclist – now garbed in black, accessorised by a starched white dog-collar.

“My bell doesn’t have a church.’ he offered.

“Surely you mean-“ I started.

“That, too!’ he admitted. “That, too!”

My Potato-Salad Days

When I was green and young, in, as I call them, my ‘potato-salad days’ – I never dreamed— (well, actually, all I did was dream, spending my time reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, writing songs about the ‘Curse of Imhotep’, counting clouds, and the like), I never ‘thought’, shall we say, that all the lacks in my youth would help to furnish me with all of the lacks in my adulthood.

Hot buttered toast with cold potato-salad upon it was not a rounded meal – bread ‘and’ potatoes!!!

But, it was quick, simple, cheap, nourishing? Well, maybe it wasn’t that nourishing, I can admit to that now.

It just ‘was’.

I’m not sure if I remember ever having folded the toast upon the potato-salad, but, I may have done. A toasted potato-salad sandwich? Potato-salad toasties?

Who can say if it was things like that that decided I was doomed from such an early age to be what I now am?

When the Bad Bee bothered the Beautiful Butterfly.

‘When the Bad Bee bothered the Beautiful Butterfly.’

There were buzzy bees, beautiful butterflies, stingy wasps – sorry sting-y wasps, and all manner of other bugs and beasties…


… it was the bad bee that bothered the beautiful butterfly,

by bombarding her with… alliteration,

“Buzz, buzz be gone!” bade the bee.

Meanwhile, an army of caterpillars marched by, unnoticed by all but me.

The Madge Hatter Tearooms

Now, you might think that operating a tearoom going by the name of ‘The Madge Hatter Tearooms’ there would be something of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme involved – yet, you would be so wrong.

There was nothing ‘curious’ or ‘curiouser’ about the Madge Hatter Tearooms, nor about Madge, herself, come to that.

Madge Hatter was Madge Hatter’s one and only name – her parents, Peter and Greta Hatter, being oblivious to any literary connotations that they might have created by their choice of the – even then – outdated, Madge.

Those who came to the Madge Hatter Tearooms seeking a cornucopic wonderland of Lewis Carroll’s creation in a convivial tea and cake setting inevitably left disappointed, and, usually, a little non-plussed, and, here must be mentioned, that the cakes were dry, the sandwiches usually curled up at the edges, and the tea… well, weak tea is not everybody’s cup of – well, tea.

Madge, and her tearooms, existed; neither bringing in huge profits, nor huge losses, it was more of a hand-to-mouth existence for Madge – usually with a slice of ‘even-beyond-giving-away’ cake.


3 pieces on the Liskeard Writers Group prompt: ‘Childhood’s End’

Childhood’s End – LWG Prompt ‘Childhood’s End’ 1

When does childhood end, and adulthood begin?

Or, is the period of puberty a gap between the two?

Do some people never grow up, staying childlike, or remaining childish?

Peter Pan – the boy who never grew up.

J.M. Barrie

Barry Island, not named after the author of Peter Pan, nor anybody else named Barry, or Peter – not even after ‘Barry Sheene’ – that shiny polished motorbike man, that was, but no longer is – sad face.

And definitely not after Barry Potter or his mum Beatrix Expelliarmus Potter.

Why do ‘I’ act like a child?

And, why do I write things like this, when I could be devoting my writing hours to writing serious… stuff? Well, the fact that I wrote ‘stuff’ there probably says a lot about me. I do like to keep it light, and, I try, (try) to keep it funny, it makes me no money, there is no fame, to my name, and very few know me – do you see?

You see, I am a poet, writer, day or nighter, is when I write, and the subject matter ranges from Cheese to Chinchillas,

– which is not much of a range if you think of their adjudication… conjunction… consumption? juxtaposition! that’s it – their juxtaposition’ in a divmvtuoobary. Sorry, that should read ‘dictionary’, but, I do sometimes suffer from BTS, that is BIG THUMBS Syndrome, which is definitely not helpful when writing upon an the teensy, weensy screen of my iPhone.

But, that’s better than… I can’t read this… I think that word could be ‘ferret?’ – not that having the word ‘ferret’ in the middle of a story about intergalactic space travel to the planet ‘Waffle’ makes any sense whatsoever.

And why the planet ‘Waffle’?

Well, I was looking for a mnemonic, mnemonic? Mnemonic – Ah! it has a silent ‘m’ like in the mbubonic plague – anyway, I was looking for – one of those thingies – to memorise, so that I could say it when I needed to know the names of the planets as you travel away from the Sun – which, luckily, I very rarely do.

The one I found – and liked – was,

‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles’.

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune – there is no Pluto in the phrase as Pluto has recently been declared a ‘dwarf’ planet – presumably, it’s where the dwarves live – allegedly.

Anyway, when I needed to remember the planet order, I recited the ‘mnemonic’ and made just a slight error, in that I recited,

‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Waffles!’

So Planet Waffle was born.

This, basically, is how planets, the wheel, fire, electricity, the hole in Polo mints and many other discoveries were… discovered.

All of which brings me back to dough, a deer, a female deer… sorry, that’s a song.

It brings me full circle – just imagine getting an all-day ticket for the Circle Line on the London Underground – can you do that? I mean, can you actually purchase an all-day ticket for the Circle Line? You can? Oh, that’s good – isn’t it? And that last question was a ‘rhetorical’ question – you need to watch out for those – crafty little beggars that they are.

So, round and round on the Circle Line for a whole day – is that possible? I mean, there isn’t going to be a buffet car or a nice man or lady popping along with a trolley of goodies for you to peruse and purchase, is there? I’m not sure if they have toilets, either. So, perhaps it’s not going to be a ‘good’ experience if you try and go round and round for approximately fifteen hours. And, if you did choose to try it, would you go clockwise or Widdershins (which is an old term for anti-clockwise – which is seldom used nowadays – widdershins, not anti-clockwise, that would just be silly). Anyway, old terms do go out of fashion, like ‘Larboard’ which used to be the left hand side of a boat if you were looking at the pointy end – Starboard was the right hand side of the same boat as you looked at the pointy end. Larboard and Starboard, being very similar, caused confusion – as did turning around on a boat and looking at the blunt end – and so Larboard was replaced with the term ‘Port’ – so as you look from the blunt end of a ship to the pointy end, Port is on the left, Starboard is in the right. This only helps if you know your left from your right – and you are not ambiguous – sorry, ambidextrous.

I don’t think that London Underground trains have pointy ends, so that probably won’t help you to work out which is Port and which is Starboard when you are deciding whether to approach Notting Hill Gate from the South or from the North.


fabian and Zelda – LWG prompt ‘Childhood’s End’ 2

fabian (with a small ‘f’) was less ‘fabulous’ than a fish in a frock.

That is to say, fabian thought that ‘that’ was the case.

Zelda (with a capital ‘Z’) begged to differ.

They were twins.

And… they were Siamese twins.

Not, as a rule, did they share the same thoughts, nor have the same outlook on their life (or lives).

fabian would rather read an exciting crime thriller in a quiet corner; whilst Zelda liked to be amongst friends and having a cheerful conversation, with half a dozen engaging colleagues, about all things that there were under the sun.

This may have caused conflict amongst some couples; but, somehow, fabian and Zelda managed to make it work.

When, in their eighties, the unmarried fabian and the thrice engaged Zelda finally said ‘goodbye!’ to this cruel world (fabian first, Zelda two days later) it was the end of an era.

They outlived all of their childhood friends – mostly Zelda’s – and it was with a quietly fond farewell that the world said its own adieu.

Buried together, they still lay within a relationship that few could even begin to comprehend.


19:14 – LWG prompt ‘Childhood’s End’ 3

It was approaching a quarter past seven o’clock when the young men left their childhood’s behind and signed upon the dotted line for the reward of the King’s shilling and a muddy grave.