Dec 2nd

Mudland

By Mat

Mudland

by brightonsauce

d1, tidy up a lil’ [will take down if overcome hysterical]

Once, Brendan and I might have faced each other cross a moonlit river, our pikes glistening in our forest encampments, and ‘tomorrow the battle,’ the resolution of our ageless dispute.  I thought as much as I greeted this swarthy man, this latest temporary worker, and shook the ends of his fingers, thought this thought much often, that how ironic it be – thrust together, comrades in a field of mud with spades [instead of our battle spears].  He was very Catholic.

‘Actually Brendan, if you don’t mind, that is my spade you’re holding in your fist,’ I said.  ‘You can tell my spade always, gaffer welded it together first day I snapped it, weld cross the top corner,  see the stitches?’

‘Suit yourself,’ said Brendan, ‘and tide a brick,’ he said.

‘I’m sorry’ I said, ‘could you repeat, please?’

‘Bricks tied, what tide is the brick?’

‘You know,  I am new to our industry, don’t understand much technical jargon.  Forgive  element of your ordeal here on the wasteland plain.  When it comes to the bricks, and specifications, you must ask our foreman.’

‘Tea brick,’ he said.

‘Oh, at half past ten and at half past two, here’s your rake to hold,’ I said, and passed him a shitty old rake with absolutely no heritage, no history,  ‘but then,’ I said, ‘ yeah,  later on when it gets dark the site manager can’t see any of us in the dark.  Isn’t that quite brilliant circumstance?  We have to all stop working.  He can’t work us in darkness against our human rights and safety,’  I tittered in a  mania, like a mole in laughter, and smiled, ‘isn’t that the most marvellous thing?’ I said.

‘Marvellous,’ he said, and spat.  He spat quite often.  I’ve met chaps like him before with the spitting condition, and remember back in Kensington, the original  ‘spitting man,’ when he spat on a car, and the driver stopped his car, punched him.  ‘Spitting man’ was giving me directions and life lessons at the roadside, a different story.

But I really liked Brendan, the way he stuck up for our rights in the adversity situation.

‘Run, run, run’ I said.

‘Why are you running?’ said Brendan.

‘When Gaffer appears we have to run, run somewhere, or even run on the spot if necessary.  Look busy, my method of survival works for me, to date’ I said, ‘so if you, wise guy, have a superior system, show everybody,’ I said, quite emboldened, and running on the spot, soil piled on shovel, [spade],  & spread over every inch of my body – not coated in snow.

‘Fuck that for twelve pounds an hour,’ he said.

‘You’re right, of course,’ I said, ‘I mean Gaffer says to me, ‘Mat, why are you running like a headless chicken, I always remind him  “I am your headless chicken, sir,”  and he likes that.’

‘Monday, I’m joining a proper outfit down at Swindon,’ said Brendan.

‘But, you will be my friend, at least till the weekend?’ I said.

‘Sure I will, Wane.’

‘Wane’s not really my name, Brendan,’ I said, ‘the lads call me Wane because they’re horrid boys.’

‘No problem, Wane,’ he said, and pulled the spade from my fingers, then passed me the rake to hold.

Dec 1st

Advent

By Athelstone

Well, goodness knows where the last 11 months went. Anyway, Advent begins on Sunday so here's a reminder of the Advent Group:

http://writing-community.writersworkshop.co.uk/groups/profile/8387

Feel free to peruse, and to post anything you wish associated with the time of year.

 

Nov 26th

My Take on Tapestries

By Casey

A thousand threads, every single one of a different hue come together. Each weaving in and out not knowing what the final picture will be. Not knowing which part each will play. Through painstaking effort and time taken, the final image comes through. One has to step well back to see the image. Appreciate the subtle hues, the intricate lines. Every thread, no matter how insignificant plays a crucial role. For if one thread is out of place, or unravels,  every one of the thousand threads cease to have a role. 

Nov 26th

The Lag

By Mat

I squeezed this out earlier, not humour, so much - I took it off the web pretty sharpish.

The Lag

by brightonsauce

Spike arrived on site from the agency.  He inhabits a distant hole in the field, thrusts his spade. [I see a] great vigour and a great enthusiasm.

Gaffer nods toward Spike, morning frost billows from his tongue, he says:

‘Look at the man, three days in, already installing head pieces, a fantastic worker.’  Then he turns to me coated in mud, I am mud beautiful, ‘on the other hand, Maddy, you have been here six weeks, and what really can I say, Maddy? What really can I say?’  He shakes his head in exasperation. ‘This week  I want to see curiosity from you, asking questions, really discover the intricacies of drainage installation.’

‘Ya,’ I say, & manhandle my spade like I could shoot a thousand Germans with my spade, ‘rat a tat tat,’ says my spade.  I can’t be the only one.  ‘Yes sir, I’m getting much better, Gaffer,’ I say,  ‘ask anyone you like,’ I say.

‘I have asked,’ he replies, and I sense the twitch of his eyes.

[Later] I find my own hole, [thank you] – and raise the ‘Bulldog,’ honed at the cutting end.  You see, Gaffer doesn’t realise,  I’m actually improving on the digging side of things, I’ll show him, I think – just – when I do show him – I become frozen in a terror, squeal with the spade in my hand, the hands themselves becoming  mittens only, air fills my fingers.  I re-adjust gloves, hyper-ventilate…#

‘I’m doing it, I am doing it, faster faster,’ I scream, and everybody else ceases their labours, turns and smirks from afar.

‘Get on with it!’ says Derek, the fat plumber.  I love Derek, maybe soon he might love me too, but then, the great irony, Spike becomes my friend.

‘That pitbull of yours, she sounds jolly pretty,’ I say, mid-dig.

‘Yeah, but she wouldn’t let me in the house for two weeks.  Trained by drug dealers to attack men,’ he says,  ‘I saved her, and eventually showed the bitch who’s boss, [re-]trained to my way of thinking.’

‘Yes, I’m in training also,’ I say.

‘I know Maddy, you’re new to this, man.  I been a ground-worker since I was sixteen years old.  Don’t like the way he talks to you.’

‘That’s all right, Spike,’ I say, ‘ I quite like it really, like being in prison, a game, y’know.’

‘Yeah, in prison, uh?’ he says.

‘I wouldn’t be very good in a prison,’ I say.

‘I think you’d be all right, Madd,’ says Spike. 

He  shoves his spade to the ground, takes a swig of water from the bottle.

‘That guy’s a bully.  And prison…I’ll  tell you  one thing about prison.  In prison…bullies get bullied.  So you mark my words, eh?’

He digs on, and on….and on.

Nov 20th

Dr Hairy and the QCQ, Part 9

By Edward Picot

Dr Hairy with hairclips image

The ninth in a new series of puppet-animations about the adventures and misadventures of an ordinary (but rather hirsute) GP.
 
Dr Hairy goes to visit his Mum, accompanied by his daughter Jenny. Dr Hairy's Mum appears surprisingly clear-headed, and she also seems not to be wearing any hairclips: in fact all her hairclips seem to have gone missing. Then Dr Hairy ventures into the cupboard under the stairs, and finds out where all the hairclips have got to... with hilarious results!
 
YouTube - https://youtu.be/mnJWNmhBNMg
Vimeo - https://vimeo.com/243144099

The whole series can be accessed at http://edwardpicot.com/QCQ
 
- Edward Picot
http://edwardpicot.com - personal website

Nov 20th

The joys of air travel

By John Alty

I didn’t find it very amusing at the time but my fellow travellers did and I’m sure they’re laughing about it to this day. I can hear them now:

“I gotta tell you about this poor guy at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg. That’s in South Africa you know, Maisie and me went there on safari for our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Anyway, we’re all standing at the baggage conveyor. This guy’s on his own….”

Yeah, yeah, let me tell it, it’s my story. I was, as he said, standing with my fellow passengers at the luggage conveyor and feeling totally knackered after my seemingly never-ending journey from Pennsylvania. I’d positioned myself as close to the exit as possible, at the farthest reach of the belt. Why carry my own bag when the conveyor will do it for me, right? And there’s always less of a scrum out here.

The conveyor started up and a lifetime later a few bags appeared, passengers shambled forward, retrieved belongings and headed for customs. A little while later my jet-legged mind registered some laughter emanating from the far end of the conveyor, where the inclined belt emerged from the bowels of the airport delivering up its motley collection of suitcases. The laughter grew, followed the progress of the belt like a Mexican wave. The source of the mirth became apparent. A pair of socks was travelling unaccompanied along the conveyor. The laughter continued. The show was not yet over. A shirt appeared, freshly laundered and wrapped. A suit, still on its hanger. Another pair of socks. Something in a plastic carrier bag. Then a pair of underpants hove into view. 

Funny how you immediately recognize your own underpants. 

 

Nov 20th

review,

By mike

    Review,

     

        Somebody asked for opinions about ‘Howards End.’ -  The  BBC serial on Sunday evenings,   I think it is Catasshe,  This isn’t a review.  But Catasshe might be interested in what is no more than a gut reaction. One of my hobbies is photography though, once upon a time, I has ambitions to playwriting.  I have not looked at Catasshe’s review or any in the papers.

I had been looking forward to the adaption, but I drifted off to sleep during the first episode.  This was last week, so I could not comment.  I watched the second episode yesterday and came to the conclusion that the director had watched too many episodes of ‘Morse’  There was the same drifting camera and a rather similar music score.  The added use of what sounded like a jerky string quartet became rather intrusive.   I found it odd that the actors sometimes moved in slow motion and the camera focus was a bit odd. In some of the outdoor scenes, the actors came  in and out of depth of field.   The use of music was rather erratic in that the actors played some period rags - and Beethoven - on an upright piano.  Even though these pieces were played badly, this music rather outclassed the score .The use of the piano was accurate for the period,

   I found some of the actors’ speech unclear and this cannot be true of the period - especially in respect of diction. 

     The book was published in 1910 and I was not too convinced by the accents used by the middle-class characters. Bast, the clerk, is the clearest speaker. I read the book some years ago and cannot remember it in much detail, but his attempt at self improvement - embourgeoisement - would, presumably, include improving his English? Bast reminded me of  characters from H.G.Wells (in particular, Kipps.) Forster was part of the Bloomsbury group and, if you read Woolf’s ‘Jacob’s Room,’ it is clear that Oxbridge was held in veneration.  I was not convinced by the Oxbridge student.  A few days ago, I read a biography of  Boswell and he took elocution lessons from the father of Sheridan, the playwright  This practice continued well into the twentieth century.  Whether such an accent is useful today is open to question.  Strangulated vowels were a Whig affectation.  A new production of ‘Wilde’s ‘A  Woman of No Importance’ might be shown at a cinema near you.  The play is acted true to the period, with the correct aristocratic diction and disdain.

    The scenes between Bast and the student did not ring true, I have a copy of the book and will read it next, to see if my opinion is an anyway correct.

    I came across this issue though visiting an aunt and uncle.  The aunt wrote of her Edwardian childhood in the suburbs of Manchester.  She came from a middle--class household but took elocution lessons. She wrote an entertaining essay on this.  The lessons may well have been due to her wish to be an actor, but most people in the arts seemed to speak with this voice - and well into the 1960’s.   I think she spoke in rather the same way as Wendy Hillier.  Her childhood schooldays end with her considering a career.  This would be in doing good for the working classes, but I think she had read too much Shaw!   Her husband sounded rather like Rex Harrison in ‘My Fair Lady.  I think he went to a posh school in Birmingham, but his father had been a brewer in Kent.  The upper-middle  voice became rather iconic in ‘Brief Encounter‘   But all the actors of the period, when they played middle-class actors, used this diction.  However.t I am sure the production knew what they are doing and have got things right.

     

 

Nov 19th

Wagon Trail 1

By Mat

Wagon Trail 1

by brightonsauce

These were dark days for the duo.  Maddy afflicted with the constipo-gastric condition that permitted only the cutest of rabbit-type sheep droppings to emerge from his orifice, and his wife stuck with him, homebound, [him] talking only shit and the great science of shit 22 hours a day.

‘Probably I’ll die some point mid-week,’ said Maddy, but was interrupted as a letter dropped through the door.  The cats rushed to the door, barking and beating their chests like cats do confronted with pizza menus.

‘What is it, darling?’ said Mrs Maddy.

‘Only a hand-written envelope addressed to us containing a legal document,’ said Maddy.

‘Oh fuck,’ said Maddelinova, stood in her ankle-length gown under the chandelier.

‘Fuck ‘em,’ said Maddy, for surely they were being evicted from the shore, this beach house, rental a snip at something like their wages plus one hundred thousand pence.

‘Definitely I will die soon,’ said Maddy.

‘What are we going to do!’ she wailed and lifted Maximus, the five stone heavyweight monster cat, to her chest.  He suckled noisily.

‘I know,’ said Maddy, ‘we shall move to Munich, the mountain air and early motivational playground of some great leader, I can’t remember which one exactly, beer hall, maybe it was Obama?’ he said.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘Germany, only a 1000 mile car journey away.  It’s practically the same language.’

That night they planned menus through the new year, and his intention to stride into the Munich Industrial Temp agency wearing steel boots, ‘Ich vant job, please,’ he would say.

But, by morning Mrs Madd tuned anew, [was] tempted by an opportunity that lay Northways, her true heritage see, lay in the wastelands of Yorkshed.

‘We are moving to Skaboeuff,’ she said, and motioning to the monitor screen , she cupped a hand over her mouth, she sniggered.

‘Look,’ she said, ‘Skaboeuff, annual medieval fair, and palace overlooking village community, rental at £200 a month,’ she said, ‘there are dozens of them, all for rental, look here –“eight floor family house, twelve bedrooms, fourteen bathrooms plus farm overlordship at £400 a month, No pets.”

‘I knew there’d be a catch,’ said Maddy, ‘northerners hate pussycats, haven’t I always said as much, my love? I’ll fetch you a glass of Reisling, sauerkraut and a sausage, we can think this over,’ he said.

Seems the game is on, lady’s heading up the motorway mid-week to secure our new life free from Sussex thanes, I have to plough on a while, or forever, with the drainage boys, concerned a little, very much as to my [Monday] reception on-site:

‘Poor lad needs a poo,’

‘Poor Maddy,’

‘Poopoo,’

…philosophers, unsure whether I’ll maintain decorum, employment, war in progress [WIP].

Nov 16th

The Dharma Bum

By Dolly

 

Shapes on dry grass in a hot Virgo sun, cart-wheeled through the eyelids of another Dharma bum, as he drifted through the visions floating in his mind.

 

Gripped in a world of freedom bitten by its sting, he was painted by his downfall, and tainted by his sin. The elusive search for heaven slipped from his grasp, as he fell into the future and struggled with his past, with the rain of his existence carved on his heart, left by the scars of lovers, their beds shining in the dark. Philosophers of freedom forget how to cry, he can’t see their feelings, or the colour of their sky, as they ride across their universe caught in black and white. No love, no beauty, no wonder of the sight, that his eyes took in each moment forming in the light, not enough for liberty or another Dharma bum. He spoke his time with midnights not knowing what he read, and wished his way through mornings with a mirage in his head, of the white robes of a holy man promising the sun, to the broken down casualty, another Dharma bum. Marriages of convenience in parquet floored halls, paintings of sailing ships hung on yellowed walls, echo the footsteps of confetti headed brides, who gave away their freedom for the romance of sighs. He joined the list of failures trooping through the courts, disillusioned with the verdict rampaging through his thoughts, as he stepped into the daylight with nowhere left to run, a razor on the skyline for another Dharma bum. Still the winds of autumn twist back on tarmac drives, turn newspaper pages of stolen reckless lives, and tried the dreams of heaven left on summer parks, lovers names carved on trees in the middle of a heart. There’s a whisper of hands touching the sun, and the figure of a holy man another Dharma bum. He smiled at the visions, felt the evening chill, of the soft clinging rain as the autumn wind fell still, on the silence of his lips as he opened his eyes, to see the end of summer come tumbling down the skies, and land on his shoulders from a wet, yellow sun, nothing left to dream of for another Dharma bum.

Nov 16th

Pandering to male readers?

By Squidge

There's been a lot in the press about how some male readers won't read a book either written by a woman, or with a female lead. And there's also been a lot about how early this bias begins and how prevalent it is within the publishing industry.

My publisher, Bedazzled Ink, has written a fantastic blog about the problem, and you can read it HERE

As an author who writes for children, but with a bias to a female MC because that's what my publisher accepts, I'd be interested to know what other cloudies - particularly children's authors - think of the issue.

 

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