Friday, 17 May 2013

Frozen Moments


You have no idea how I feel! Go away!
But Hayden didn’t hear. How could he hear if the words were not spoken?

Robyn could hear the muted voices downstairs and a soft lullaby soothing the cries of a newborn baby girl. She heard many different voices floating through her home and many, many feet padding gently up and down her stairs. She was aware of the kindness they were all trying to show. She appreciated the cups of tea, the scented candle, the single rose, but she knew that they were not aware how much she appreciated them.

At night she tossed and turned. She flung her arms around Hayden then violently pushed him away. She slept, dreamlessly, only to wake in a quiet, darkened room, tired.

Robyn stretched her arms above her head and touched the red velvet headboard with fingertips which recoiled, as if they had eyes that recreated the moment of pain, blood.

No-one understood.  Moments of recollection, when her lips moved to explain the pain or ask for help, melted like ice in hot coffee, and no-one was there to see her eyes beg for contact – touch me!

Robyn tried desperately to grab hold of those lucid moments; to freeze them until Hayden knelt next to her, with tears of deep, deep love soaking his shirt. She needed to melt her moments in his tears, she needed to touch his face.

The blackbird chirped, indifferent to human pain. The buses, lorries, and cars all swished beneath the window undisturbed by the pain behind closed curtains. Why should they care? Who were they to care?

Robyn took a deep breath. The baby girl cried. The voices grew louder. The sirens faded.

(Writing Prompts

Friday, 22 February 2013

The story between the lines

Copyright © Patual

You think my story romantic, you envy me. The pictures you conjure up in your mind, with my words are perfect, paradise. Your face expresses your thoughts. Your dreamy eyes mesmerised by your interpretation of my story.

I left the ugly bits out. Yes, the early morning walks watching the sun play with the clouds and switching off the darkness like a light switch were magical. Yes, the silhouettes of houses and trees as the sun reluctantly sank beyond the now were worthy of a National Gallery artist’s brush.  Yes, the adventures were exciting, childlike and daring!

But does your imagination place my story on summer days and nights? Did you ever consider the reverse of my story canvas? Did you ever see me plodding past that beautiful snow sprinkled engine wearing thin trousers, a jacket far too large with a zip that didn’t work? Did you see my ears almost raw, red from the cold? Did you think where I slept on those icy, windy nights?

No, you probably didn’t imagine me shivering under a thin Salvation Army blanket on the cold iron floor of one of the monster’s empty draughty coaches. You probably didn’t see me arriving and leaving under cover of darkness, keeping watch on the lighted windows for anyone who may suspect my trespassing presence.

The stories I tell you are the good times I recall from the hard times I passed through. 

The stories I keep inside are the hurts and disappointments, which made me strong enough to extract the good!

(Written for  Writing Prompts, February 2013)

Monday, 6 August 2012

English OCD

I have OCD! 

I have an Obsessive Compulsion of noticing spelling and grammatical errors in everything I read!!  My children, I'm sure, are sick of it! My fingers itch to correct their use of incorrect words and spelling on their Facebook updates! 

It’s not something new. When my son was in primary school I remember returning a school newsletter marked in red, with spelling errors the principal had made! (He was also a good friend!) My daughters were given fun ways to remember spellings of certain words, e.g. 

Betty Eats Cake And Uncle Sells Eggs – because!   

My daughter used to say Fri-End to remember which way the ‘i’ and ‘e’ went.   

We remembered that ‘stationEry’ was pEns and pEncils, so ‘stationAry’ was the other one! Generally it’s stood them in good stead – except for the odd lapse or two!

In an ‘officially’ single language country like England, although there are many immigrants, one expects those brought up and schooled in this country to be proficient in the English language.  In countries where there are more than one official national language (e.g. many of the African countries), one can excuse the odd English error; for example, lay-bys used to be a popular way of securing a purchase by ‘laying by’ money with the supplier until the item was fully paid and could be taken home. But was this a ‘lay-by’, ‘lay-buy’, ‘layby’ or ‘lay-bye’? All these versions were spotted in one African town!

Typos can be excused although they should not be present when in public display, but using the incorrect word can only be inexcusable!

While sitting in a doctor’s waiting room recently there was a professionally printed poster in bright colours, clearly printed, easy to read and understand, explaining the cautions to be taken when drinking alcohol.  It was presented in the form of football goals, obviously to get attention from the English population, with facts about what a unit equalled, the number of days a week one should go alcohol free, etc. But the last one read as follows: 
“Eat before you drink as food slows alcohol consumption.”

I didn’t have to read it twice! As soon as I got home I checked their website and with a sigh of relief saw they’d got it right! 

“Eat before you drink as food slows alcohol ABSORPTION! 

But how does a poster which has probably gone up in hundreds of doctors’ surgeries across our county, slip through a simple editing process? Even if there were only two people who checked it, surely one of them should have picked up the wrong word!?

(I noticed two other typos in the five minute wait for my doctor! One was, ‘appoinment’ and the other had added an ‘a’ into a sentence. Just in-house notices that weren’t read before pinning to the notice board!)

My daughter was also amused at the notice in the London buses:

Please do not talk to or distract the driver’s attention!

(I believe this has been changed to: Please do not talk to or distract the driver! …… in some buses!)

And finally: 

and ? (Megan captured a passionate English language boffs correction in Bath!)

(And yes, I've read this blog a good few times to make sure there aren't any glaring errors! If you find one I suppose you'll have to let me know!)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Poets & Harvests!

       I often wondered how my high school English teacher could say with such certainty what a 17th or 18th century poet meant in the cloaked verses of our anthologies! In fact in my final English exam I remember phrasing some of my answers to reflect these doubts with comments like, The poet may have been referring to…. or, it’s possible that the poet was thinking…. and in one answer, our teacher said that……, but I think …..! Maybe that’s why my grade was not as high as I’d hoped!

        While standing at the bottom of a harvested barley field early in the morning with patient Bella at my feet, I tapped these words into my Blackberry memo pad:

Crass naked stalks where golden barley e’er did wave in gentle breezes
Hard huddling hollow brown and yellow clumps bereft of
childhood games.
But to the sun whose light is golden,
still a beauty lies beside
dark guardian trees and passing clouds;
admired by those who see beneath the discipline
of necessity.

It was a beautiful fresh sunny morning with the sun weaving in and out of grey-white clouds and it struck me that we often speak of ‘golden barley fields’ (immortalised by Sting!) but usually it’s the before-harvest picture! So to see that harvested field with the sun lighting it up was a beautiful scene. At that point my mind was not on ‘lessons of life’ or ‘deeper meanings’! I just wanted to describe what was before me in poetic language.

Maybe one day this 21st century poem will be read by high school students trying to find what the poet was trying to say, and I hope that their teacher will allow them to guess at any possibilities but also point out the incredible beauty of God’s creation around us all and how to express it for themselves!

(photo from via Google images)

Monday, 19 March 2012


Robert stood back, frowned, humphed, head on one side, then the other, then deftly popped the paintbrush between his lips and turned the entire orange canvas upside down on the easel. Again he stood with head on one side, closed one eye, then the other, wrinkled his nose and eventually reached forward and delicately dabbed the darkened brush to join the lines on the very satisfying backdrop.

This had to be right. It had to be perfect and there was no doubt that it would be unique. The oranges seemed to have just mixed themselves and Robert knew he would never be able to recreate the effervescent, depth and richness of that scene.

Much like Caroline. As Robert’s mind wandered, the picture on the easel became the slum streets of Mexico nearly five years ago where Caroline had first set eyes on a young, adventurous, and ruggedly handsome specimen of humanity! They’d been happy in Mexico. She was vivacious, happy, spontaneous. After two ecstatic, energetic years she’d agreed to return to his home country and it was then he discovered, despite his unfailing, devoted love, how wild and free she was. She ran with him, but he couldn’t hold on to her……

Robert righted the canvas and smiled. Caroline was a good memory, but she needed to be free, and he would never find anyone as bold, as deep, or as comforting.  The orange canvas smiled back as the shadowy characters galloped on. 

(Image from Writing Prompt 19th March 2012)

Friday, 9 March 2012

My Senses, My Memories - Feb 2012 Poetry win!

I wrote this while on a holiday, but also remembered lying on the grass with my children making pictures from the clouds, then closing our eyes and 'seeing' spirogyra (the only biology term I ever remembered from high school!) and other bright lights flashing in and out!

With eyes closed other senses seem to take over and hearing especially is heightened.  It's also a relaxing exercise in the middle of the day - if you're not driving or walking across a busy road!

Thank you for choosing it as your February poetry winner!

Thursday, 8 March 2012


I didn't start writing with the intention of making my fortune!! I've enjoyed the few things I have written and have been thrilled that somebody 'out there' appreciates it and has published some of them!

Today I had TWO emails! From two different places who have accepted my stories before, to say they were accepting a second! Whoo-hoo!!

Bringing my total to 7! Nothing I can go on a spending spree with, in fact, I think I may have been able to buy a cup of coffee and a biscuit from the proceeds of two articles!

Creative Writing Ink made me the December 2011 winner for the short story 'Jessie' and they have now voted me the poetry winner for February 2012 for 'My Senses, My Memories' (watch the website!).

About a year ago Cafe Lit - Creative Cafe Project - put my story 'Neighbours' on their site, and today they've accepted 'Good Luck Bad Luck Cat'!

So two in Creative Cafe Project, two on Creative Writing Ink, two in Carillon Magazine (issue 29 February 2011 & Issue 31 November 2011) and one on the Gold Dust 2012 calendar. I'm happy!

It's not an ego thing, just nice to be acknowledged! Makes you feel good about yourself  and gives the encouragement to carry on!