He was, as usual, reassured by the spotlessly clean scrubs. At first he had been anxious, but the ongoing professionalism of the operating room staff has meant that he never really worries when he is wheeled in to lie under those bright lights. And what he really likes during those procedures which don’t require him to go under are the documentaries and TV repeats showing on the overhead screen (but why Benny Hill, he sometimes wondered).

So far, he reckoned, they had sampled his DNA, taken 3d images of most of his organs, taken some of the skin from his left buttock which they immediately transplanted onto a pig resting on an adjacent trolley, transplanted some pig skin on to him.

He didn’t care for some of the food (lots of green slimy stuff) and for most of the experiments and he wished he had more freedom to leave the ward and go walk-about.

But all in all he was still alive and the view of all the planets and stars from his bedside porthole was pretty spectacular.

He already had the book in his head but he felt his working title, “Alien Abductions – the Truth,” sounded a bit too tabloid. He needed to work on that a bit more.

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He was the perfect pub dog. Friendly with the punters, he spread his wet nose favours without prejudice to one and all, even the lager drinkers. He allowed children to pet and pat him at will happily tolerating their sometimes roughhouse behaviour, never growling, never nipping; parents adored him. He was a credit to his landlord.

After closing, when the last customers had made their reluctant goodbyes, Bovril would patrol the empty bar area with its overflowing tills and ten thousand hangovers worth of alcohol with such ferocity that even the most desperate of thieves stayed well away.

As a pup he had seen the damage the excess consumption of alcohol caused, how it destroyed relationships, how it ruined the health of so many, and so when he reached his fifteenth month mark he determined to abstain, and by the beard of Francis of Assisi, his resolve never wavered.

He did, however, love the smoky atmosphere of the crowded pub, loved the sting of nicotine in his nostrils, loved the flick snap of Zippos in action. When the ban came in he despaired and ran away to the countryside to work with sheep.

Sadly, he never did return to the city.

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A Modern Tale

A Modern Tale

Things weren’t going well at Acme Ball Bearings. Management blamed the workers. As you would expect. The workers blamed management. Ditto. The Board couldn’t decide so they called in consultants, a firm with a four letter name, the initials of the founder partners long since expelled by the current incumbents.

The consultants interviewed the management team, made notes. They interviewed the workers. Ditto. They measured the distance between the factory floor and the toilets, between the MD’s office and the photocopy room. They checked the tea and coffee served to the executives as well as to the workers.

Over a period of two weeks they peeked and poked, poked and peeked, audited, rated, and quantified all that moved and all that didn’t move. Clipboards were everywhere.

A report was written, submitted.

“We are vindicated,” said management.

“Ditto,” said the workers.

The consultants raised an invoice.

Acme Ball Bearings went bust.

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Local News

He was certainly the oldest man in Whitby. Occasionally the odd cub reporter would be sent by the editor of the local rag to try and get a story. “Silly old bugger won’t ever tell us anything, but you have a go. Fresh face and all that.”

But he was never one for talking. The last thing he wanted was for people to start digging up the grounds inside the ruins of the abbey, to discover the coffins that lay beneath, the coffins from the doomed ss Dmitri, the undead ready to rise and wreak havoc, the bodies of his siblings.



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Exciting times

They’re starting to move into the new town houses next to the station. “Exclusive development.” Three stories high, two bathrooms – bedrooms you couldn’t swing a cat in. Integrated kitchen appliances, thermostatic shower to bathroom. Not enough garden space for both a sun lounger and a barbecue. Yeehaw!

Location? On one side, a railway line carrying high speed (noisy) passenger trains and low speed (noisy) very long goods trains; on the other, a busy busy road carrying commuters, service vans, shoppers – a noise sandwich. Price? Double that of the usual around here. There will always be suckers.

Last week I saw a couple pull up outside the show home in their shiny black bimmer. She, a fish eyed blonde in sheath skirt and six inch heels; he, slicked back hair and froggy-eyed in a shiny cashmere suit. Not our sort, I thought. Drug dealers seeking a bolthole? Captured Russian agents in a MI6 safe house? Difficult to know.

Later, somebody told me they were probably the estate agents. Makes sense.

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Summertime fun

Image copyright: Jan Wayne Fields

“It’s called camping.”


“Yeah. You haul out this canvas house, a tent, that’s full of mould and dirt, clean it up, spend an hour folding it, and put it into the boot of the car together with awning, groundsheet, mallet, pegs, miniature cooker, plates, cups saucers, cutlery, lots of food, mattresses, bedding, towels, toiletries, mosquito repellant, insect bite medicine, plasters and bandages, throat lozenges, nasal spray, antihistamine, torches, lamps, frisbee, cricket bat, ball and wickets, raincoats, and umbrellas.”


“And bags with clothes for sightseeing, hiking, sleeping, swimming, for all of us including Aunt Agnes.”

“Sounds like fun.”



Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Playtime for playboys

Image copyright: CE Ayr

“Scissors, rock, paper. C’mon, you big sissy.”
“Sticks ‘n stones can break my bones. But words can never hurt me. Nya nya nya. Mummy’s boy.”
“Cross that line, buddy, just cross that line.”
“You cross this line. My line, you chicken.”

“He’s scared.”
“They’re both scared.”

“C’mon, feel that. That’s what we call muscle.”
“That’s nothing. Feel that!”

“Weird hairstyles, both of them.”
“Maybe that explains it.”

“See you after class. Behind the bike sheds.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
“My gang’s bigger than your gang.”
“My gang’s better than yours.”


“Fire and fury.”
“Absolute force.”




Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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The Florist

Image Copyright: Dale Rogerson

In this world there are people you can trust. And those you can’t. Sometimes it’s difficult to know who falls into which category. It’s a bummer. We spend energy working out who to confide in, to deal with, to befriend; we sometimes get it right, other times wrong. There’s no magic formula, no algorithm, no crystal ball. We consult colleagues, friends, the internet, shaman; we mull over what we’ve learnt, double check those sources in turn; we sweat, worry, pray. In the end, we are islands, by ourselves, alone, lonely.

Flowers, on the other hand, can always be relied on.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge. Visit it here.

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Image copyright: Patrick Prinsloo

Our writing group has always been a mix of covert jealousy and overt distrust. Why the library continues to let us have access to one of their meeting rooms each week, God alone knows. The snarling, the shouting, the vitriol that no doubt pass through the walls into the lending and reading areas must cause no end of distress to the book borrowers of our peace-loving town. It’s not been unknown for the library staff to step in and prevent a concerned public-spirited citizen from phoning the police or the ambulance service. “It’s just a bunch of amateur writers,” they will say, “Nothing to be concerned about. Not as bad as it sounds. Blood rarely drawn. Nothing that we can’t address with our own in-house first aid kit.” Later on the cleaners will gather together the ripped up sheets of paper, broken pencils, sharpened paper clips and clumps of human hair, and sigh. “Ah, must be Thursday, writing group again,” and get on with their honest toil.

It’s not surprising that there are tensions in the group. At a superficial level, members brazenly cheat on the weekly fee, sometimes shortchanging the money bowl as it’s passed around, sometimes actually stealing from the pot. Certain members habitually take more biscuits than the allowance, others will demand a second cup of tea. At a more serious level, charges of plagiarism are thrown about at random with members threatening to call in m’learned friends at the slightest and imaginary whiff of a copied phrase or storyline. Poets disparage prose writers, prose writers sniff at silly rhyming structures and pretentious formats. Computer users sneer at the pen and paper brigade, who in turn question the creativity to be found in a keyboard.

Some of us have taken to wearing stab vests for these sessions.

This week’s meeting was the last until after the summer break. Somebody brought in some cookies. Colourfully iced. Sprinkles and sparkles on top. That was a first. No peace had been declared. As far as we were all concerned the war was ongoing. But some clever clogs mentioned the Christmas Day truce in the World War 1 trenches, there was a brief discussion, nods, knowing looks, and then everyone started munching, making mmmms and hmmmms and all sorts of eating-agreeable sounds. I held back. I’m not that easily taken in. I’ve read about this sort of thing; crikey, even as a child I learnt about poisoned apples, toxic gingerbread houses, and mind-altering eat-me cookies.

I left early. I wonder how many of the original group will turn up for the autumn term. I guess I’ll just have to keep a close watch on the obituaries over the next week or so.

Don’t you just hate poets.

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100 Words – Yellow

Image copyright: J Hardy Carroll

Being an outsider artist isn’t always easy.

At first Ned’s latest urinal installation, Telephone – Yellow, didn’t attract positive write-ups, certainly not in the magazines that count. But he persisted.

Later an agent started working for him and, despite Ned’s low (invisible) profile, the curators began paying attention.

After a protracted bidding war between MOMA and the Getty, a deal was done, and the piece was duly installed in a place of pride.

Trouble was when Ned tried to call up about his money, he found his phone had been ripped from the wall.

Being a stupid artist isn’t always easy.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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