Cafe Stories – The Burglary and The Diet


The café is at the crossroads.  It is set back from the road, with a large parking area at one side and a smaller grassed area at the front.  There are tables and chairs on the grass, in case anyone is brave enough to sit outside. From my seat by the window, I can look down the High Street and today being Friday, it is quite a busy thoroughfare.  I am surprised that the elderly couple, who normally sit at the table across from mine, are not here. I wonder what the problem is and hope nothing has happened to either of them.

Halfway through my first cappuccino I look up and see them at the crossing, waiting patiently for the traffic lights to change. I relax and smile, happy that they seem alright with no outward sign that anything is amiss.

Seated at the small table at the back, next to the magazine rack, Barry the Builder is eating his full English. I only see him on Fridays, but I am reliably informed that he is here every day without fail.  He is working on the new housing estate where, according to him, the houses being built are expensive, but have a ‘great spec’.

Next to me, two ladies are discussing the diet that one of them has just started. It seems quite harsh – no carbohydrates, no fat, no sugar, lots of protein and three vitamin supplements every day.  The one on the diet has lost 1 stone so far and tells her much slimmer friend she is determined to continue until she gets to her desired weight. From where I am sitting, it seems she has a long way to go.  I look at the Danish pastry on my plate and wonder how many calories it contains, but eat it anyway.

The elderly couple are telling the waitress that their house was broken into last night and have spent quite a long time with the police team.  Recounting the story, the lady is visibly upset and Kath, the owner of the cafe, comes forward with a pot of tea and a comforting arm.  The man says that the police phoned him, just before they left the house, to let them know that two boys have been apprehended.

I feel for them.  We were burgled once, a long time ago and it took quite a while to stop thinking about strangers rifling through our possessions and being worried about leaving the house empty for any length of time. Kath thinks it’s disgusting and says that quite a lot of houses in the area have been broken into during the past few weeks.  Barry gets up to pay his bill and tells the couple that if he had his way, the boys would be flogged. They think it a bit extreme, but Barry is convinced that it would stop the boys doing it again.

The friend of the lady on the diet, orders another coffee, ‘could you do me a large latte?’ she asks in a sort of self-satisfied voice, Kath tells her she will bring it over. With friends like that, I doubt  the diet is going to last for long…

 

 

 

 

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A Bridge Trip


Thanks as always to Rochelle for her sterling work and thanks to The Reclining Gentleman for the photo this week.

Copyright The Reclining Gentlemen

                                             Copyright The Reclining Gentlemen

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

A Bridge Trip

Jerry limped into the bar on North Street and hauled himself onto a stool.

‘You got money this time Jerry?’

‘Not  ‘xactly.’

‘You know the rules, NO credit.’

Lowering his voice Jerry leant in, ‘Ben, listen, there’s a hole in the pavement on Murray Bridge. No sign. Nothing. I sorta tripped and hurt myself. A guy helped me and said I’ll get comperation, that’s cash aint it?’’

He wiped a grubby hand across his mouth, watching Ben pour a beer for a paying customer.

Ben laughed, then pushed a beer towards him, ‘Jerry, you’re unbelievable. Get a job, it’s safer.’

 

 

 

Twenty years from now…


 

Quote for the day…

Penarth skyline

 

‘Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed with the things that you didn’t do  than with the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’

……………….Mark Twain

Thoughts of Home


I sneaked off last week to Tenerife which was very relaxing, doing nothing was great for recharging my batteries.  I missed you all, and only managed to see a few stories, intermittent Wi-Fi is my excuse.  Thanks as always to Rochelle, a great wordsmith and leader and also to Marie Gail Stratford for her photo this week.

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Thoughts of Home

Bright lights lured her to the city.

Dreams of being feted as the next Supermodel filled every waking moment.

With other hopefuls, she pouted, strutted and posed on demand.

Her leather portfolio bought with birthday money, stuffed with photos so lovingly captured by Charlie, began to look scruffy as it was pawed over and scrutinised by agent after agent.

Two weeks without work, two weeks with little money left.

A photographer called her; she had something quite special.

Posing naked in a cellar, positioned like a piece of meat, she stared out through his bright lights and thought of home.

 

Read lots more great stories here 

DIY – A Shorcut


Copyright - Ted Strutz

Copyright – Ted Strutz

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

DIY – A Shortcut

John stepped back into the water trough a second time.

‘I hate bloody DIY! And why soak the paper? What’s wrong with old fashioned wallpaper paste?’

‘I thought it would be quicker and hopefully less messy.’

‘You thought. Here, make yourself useful, hold the brush.’

‘It seemed a better idea to do this while the boys were away.’

He grabbed the brush, held the paper off the wall and in one angry movement swept it down to the skirting board.

‘Careful, you’ve covered up the socket.’

‘Just shut up,’ he said, jabbing the point of the scissors through the paper.

 

*******************

The socket reminded me of the fiasco we had when we decided to decorate the bedroom our boys shared when they were small. It’s all true, apart from the scissors in the socket…but it could well have happened that night!

Thank you to Ted Strutz for the photo prompt and to Rochelle for continuing to light the way.

The art of not writing, and making a habit of it…


I realised years ago that I wanted to write.  Not just essays for school, or long thank you letters to my relations for gifts they felt I would like, but stories. Each Sunday I read what I had scribbled down, to my sister and a collection of large teddy bears and dolls who had no option but to sit and listen to me.

I moved on to bigger projects when I was about eight or so.  I announced that I was writing a play entitled “The Little Bull” and would be happy to let my parents read it when it was finished.  I confidently announced this would be in a week or so. About a month later, after losing my way with the plot, I threw away all the pages I had written and started again.  The play would still be about the little bull, an antique milk jug spotted in the window of a little shop in town, but this time I had a definite idea how the play would end. I made the mistake of mentioning this project to my teacher who got very excited and asked me every day how things were going until I handed in the finished article.

At this point I must be honest and say that I did expect some modest praise for my efforts.  My parents told me how good they though the play was, and ventured that perhaps the school may want to put in on at the end of term. My teacher had other ideas.

She gave me what I am sure she thought was a fair critique of my play, but at eight years old you are not ready for talks about directions, or voice, or sense of place or even a timeline. She lost me.

I didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time.  Then in the last year of high school, the English teacher mentioned a short story competition and urged as many of us as possible to ‘give it a go’.  I wrote furiously about a girl who finds some letters written to her grandmother, years before she was married, obviously from a lover.

It was all going beautifully, until the boy from the local bank asked me out on a date. I had been fantasising over him for months …

Over the next few years, I married (not the banker)  – moved to Scotland – moved back – had a child– got divorced and wrote nothing.  Years rolled by and still I wrote nothing, although I was sure that I could write something.  Sometime.  Perhaps.

I read everything I could find about writing and successful writers; about skill with words and plot, about voice, a sense of place and dedication to their craft.  I joined a creative writing class with eight other women and two men.  Towards the end of the first term, Arthur who wanted to write a book about fishing, disappeared.  He never returned to the class and we never heard from him.  Tristan our tutor, ‘who had been published’, tried in vain to find out what had happened to him. Tony, now the only male in our class, decided to put this strange happening to good use and wrote a short story entitled ‘The Disappearance of Arthur.’

I stayed the course and received my fair share of honest criticism and some praise too I might add, but found the experience stifling.  Although I enjoyed our discussions about Hemmingway, Carter, Chekov et al, and no doubt gained a lot more than I thought I had, when the class decided to move on to studying poetry the following year I decided not to join them. I made some good friends and we keep in touch.  None of them as yet have finished the novels they began in the classroom, but they are all convinced that they will finish them one day.  And I wish them well.

After the class, I decided to try my hand at writing a blog.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about but hoped that someone would want to read my posts. Since starting to blog, I have met lots of good writers and enjoy reading their posts and stories. I found that though there are some who are waiting for THE phone call or email from an agent, there are many more who are just happy to entertain their followers with photos or stories about their particular take on life.

Most recently I have been enjoying Friday Fictioneers – a group started by Madison Woods and now in the very good care of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields –  who posts a photograph, as the inspiration each week for any writer who cares to join in and post a story in 100 words.  The only stipulation is there must be a beginning, a middle and an end.   I say that I have been enjoying, because for the past few weeks I have found it very difficult to come up with anything worthy of posting.  And I miss the other Fictioneers.

Am I being too critical?    Am I just being lazy?   Has my muse deserted me?

Or am I just continuing the art of not writing…

Constructive comments would be most welcome from anyone who cares to take the time to leave one

Shabby Love


Happy New Year!!  Hope you are all well and keeping warm and dry as we battle this dreadful weather.

Welcome to another year of Friday Fictioneers, hosted as always by the one and only Rochelle. You can get more information about how to join our happy band, the rules and regulations etc., by going along to her website here. Thanks for the photo this week to Dawn Quyle Landau

Copyright Dawn Q Landau

Copyright Dawn Quyle Landau

.

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Shabby Love

Our meeting place has lost its charm.

I happened there by chance, and remembered

How much I loved you, once.

We met often, making plans for ‘sometime later’

Until the day you pressured me for things I could not do.

You lashed out, calling me prude and names

I’d never heard nor understood.

I ran from you in tears, upset and hurt,

Much later realising the valuable lesson learned.

Love is not always kind, or what you hoped for.

True love comes when you are least prepared for it.

The little hut is shabby now, like your supposed love for me.

———–

Click on the little blue froggy thing for more stories

Where trees are fallen


Another week, another post for Friday Fictioneers. Follow our leader Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, then join our merry band.  Thanks this week for the photo go to Roger Bultot.

copyright-roger-bultot

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Where Trees Are Fallen

“Jarvis,the car! Get me away from these people.”

“They’ve just returned you as their MP, for a second time sir.”

 “And what happened to my previous majority?”

“Yes that’s odd, especially as you were born here sir.”

We don’t mention that, remember?

 “Sorry sir, I thought….”

“You didn’t think, otherwise you wouldn’t have allowed that moron in to rant at me”

 “But you altered the route of the new railway. The land had been in his family for years.”

 “Tough. It’s called progress.”

“Surely you could have listened sir?”

“I did. Now get the bloody car!

 

 “Sir, about the car…”

 

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.”
– A.E. Housman

At the moment we have great arguments raging here about the new HS2 train which, if it goes ahead, will cut a swathe through huge chunks of the English countryside. The photo made me think of all the trees that are in danger, the ancient woodlands that will disappear.

 

Click on Mr Froggy for more stories

A plea from the jury box…


Photo credit: user:P199 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: user:P199 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

… don’t forget me.

I received a summons telling me that I had been selected for Jury Service and I had to attend at the Crown Court a week last Monday. Since then I have been wandering around a place similar to this, going from jury room to courtroom and back again; moving from one court to another and meeting some great people all thrown together to be judges of evidence.

In case you have missed me, that is where I have been. I can’t tell you anything other than I should finish my service by the end of the week and will hopefully be back with you all very soon.

While I was waiting for inspiration… Starting Over


Back Camera

Sitting in front of a blank screen is quite daunting when you have things you want to say and are not quite sure where to start. It is relatively easy to follow prompts for weekly challenges on travel themes or photography but quite another matter when you are attempting a writing prompt and waiting for inspiration. I envy the seemingly free-flowing blog posts of others, they seem confident and assured whereas I seem to flounder about for ages, shall I post this, and will anyone read it? And so it goes, more or less.

I should really be working, I have a lot to get through today but my heart isn’t in it. I can only get excited about so much paperwork and having checked on the latest accounts – fine, the amount of stock we are holding – also fine, the remainder of my “To Do” list can wait a while.

I was reading recently about a writer who knew she wanted to be a writer from the age of seven. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do right up to leaving college; I envied friends who went into banking, accounting, nursing with a natural transition. I wrote letters, sent CV’s and though I got a few interviews none of the jobs was ever going to set my pulses racing. I waited for the thunderbolt that never came and in the end I went to work for my father who had his own business developing new plastic products for the automotive and leisure industries. We made oil seals and spoons in seemingly equal numbers; the production was interrupted occasionally by something different, but this didn’t happen very often.

I learned a lot of new words like, extrusion, purging, polytetrafluoroethylene, polymers, petrochemicals, which made my new found typing job quite difficult – you must understand that this was in the days of the typewriter and if you wanted more than one copy, you used pieces of carbon paper, one mistake and you had to do the whole thing again! I quickly moved on to marketing.

As my father’s daughter, I had to work harder to gain any promotion; I had started on the bottom rung when I first joined him, making the tea for everyone, even cleaning the toilets and rest areas, running errands, filing and general office work. He wasn’t going to let anyone say I got where I was because he was my father. Although I wasn’t too happy, I understood his thinking and just got on with it. The upside was that the other employees accepted me more readily when they saw there was no favouritism.

I worked for him for about five years, until he employed “The Office Manager from Hell”. I shall call him Nerd because that’s what he looked like, a Nerd. He made my life a misery because he could, and because he knew in his own twisted way that I wouldn’t complain as that would mean raising the “favouritism” flag.

I tried to like him, tried to overlook that plain fact that I could do his job with not much effort, as I had incorporated much of the role into my job before he arrived. He was thin and weedy and I liked my men tall and strong looking, but I tried to overlook his physical failings and concentrate on being a good colleague. The final straw was when the money in the petty cash tin in the safe didn’t balance; he sighed and asked me why there was money missing. There wasn’t, he had just added it up incorrectly. He held out his hand like Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and asked me for the keys to the safe.

I left amid much family argument.

The only downside to working for my father was our ability to carry on work related issues over dinner, much to my mother’s annoyance. This stopped quite abruptly when I left as my father didn’t speak to me for a while. He said later that had I told him about my treatment by the Nerd, he would have stepped in and done something about it, but the Nerd was the son of the bank manger…

My next job was working as head cashier in a supermarket, but more of that another time.