Z is for Zythum #AtoZChallenge #AncientEgyptians #TimeTravel

Phew, made it to the end. It’s been quite frazzling and a couple of posts may have been a tad below par (Happiness, anyone?) but I still managed to cover every letter. Even if there were an awful lot of TV related posts. Hey, I like TV.

Zythum is a beer drunk by Ancient Egyptians.  You only need to know this because it gets a mention in my book.  Which I have ACTUALLY finished and starts its final edit/proofread tomorrow!!   TIME Agents (working title) is about two ordinary sisters who discover that their missing dad is a time-travelling secret agent.  They train to become TIME agents so they can travel to Ancient Egypt…will they manage to save him before the Pharaoh sacrifices him???

It’s a children’s book which is a genre I (and many other adults) enjoy reading enormously, and apparently sales are a lot higher than for adult books (even if David Walliams and other celebs account for most of those sales).  Once it’s been completely proofread, I’m going to try a few agents to see how I get on.  Wish me luck.

The A-Z Challenge has been great for rekindling my love of blogging and I will try to post again before next April.  I’ve discovered some fabulous blogs: great writing, funny bloggers and interesting posts, along with new writing prompts.  Which I obviously need!

Now, I’m off to edit my NaNoWriMo novel: a Christmas murder mystery.  There are a few plot holes which need filling…can you kill someone with a candy cane??

 

 

Y is for (Best of) You: Why I love Dave Grohl #AtoZChallenge #FooFighters #DaveGrohl

Reason 1.  Just because:

Reason 2.  The music, man:

Reason 3.  Dave doesn’t care about looking ridiculous:

Reason 4.  Dave loves his mum.  And she’s just written a book all about how to raise a rock star:

Reason 5.  Even after he breaks his leg on stage, he carries on playing – whilst they plaster his leg:

Reason 6.  The Foo Fighters played a concert in Cesena, Italy, after 1,000 fans invited them with this amazing performance of Learn to Fly:

Reason 7. He’s officially the nicest man in rock:

Reason 8.  This video and this protest against the Westboro Baptist Church:

Reason 9.  Been in a legendary rock band.  Twice:

Reason 10. Oh, so many reasons:

 

 

X is for eXhausted equals eXisting Content: Summer of 83 #AtoZChallenge

I was struggling to find a post for X.  It’s been a busy week at work, I’ve been unwell and I was knackered.  So I decided to cheat.  You’ve got an defective title and an old piece about the local pool that I dug up from a writing course.  Enjoy.

The summer of 1983. No rain for two months and the temperature was hitting 100 degrees. I was only fourteen at the time and it’s been over thirty years, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. Although, for my generation, there was nothing like the summer of ’76 and we still bring it up every summer.

‘Phew, it’s a scorcher today.’

‘You’re not wrong there.’

‘Not as hot as ’76 though.’

‘Hell no, that was the summer to beat all summers.’

This particular day I was slumped on the edge of the kerb, moulding melted tarmac into balls to flick at my brother, when my best friend, Anna, shouted across the street from her bedroom window. ‘Oy! D’you wanna go down the pool?’

The local outdoor pool was possibly the only place to escape the relentless heat. Throwing the last of the tarmac balls at my brother, I ran inside to slip my bikini under my shorts and t-shirt. With rolled-up towels under our arms, we headed off to the pool; hugging the shade of walls and fences, our flip-flops either slapping against the scorching pavement or crunching the sun-bleached grass.

At the pool, a carpet of beach towels was crowned with bodies toasted and burnt, long ribbons of skin peeling off noses and shoulders like strips of masking tape.   Sun cream in the ‘80s was a mere afterthought; we’d maybe go for some Factor 4 Hawaiian Tropic, its exotic coconut smell conjuring up locations visited by Judith Chambers on Wish You Were Here…?

We found a spot in between a family who’d brought all the trappings for a full day at the pool (deck chairs, radio, windbreak, knotted hankies, and a proper picnic with egg sandwiches, pork pies, bottles of cherryade and coconut macaroons), and a group of teenage boys who’d just brought themselves.   We lay out our towels, tucking our purses underneath, confident that they were well hidden from thieves, even though everyone else at the pool had hidden their valuables in exactly the same place.

I peeled off my shorts and t-shirt to reveal my new white bikini. It was almost identical to one I’d seen a photo of Jamie Lee Curtis wearing on Malibu Beach. Anna was wearing a red one piece with a very low cut halter neck. Flicking our hair back and pushing our chests out, we surreptitiously looked to see if we’d caught the attention of the boys. Success. The boys’ eyes followed us as we made our way to the edge of the pool, sashaying from side to side in what we imagined was a seductive manner.

The water was full of screaming kids and old ladies wearing flowery caps but it still looked inviting and refreshing. We counted to three and leapt in. The unheated water was freezing and we screamed as we came up for air.   A couple of minutes were enough before we climbed out of the pool.

The lifeguard, up high on his lookout chair, grinned widely and gave us a thumbs-up.

We shyly waved back. ‘Ooh, he’s lush,’ said Anna. ‘I’ve been trying to get him to notice me for weeks.’

As we made our way back to our towels, the group of teenage boys leapt to their feet, whistling and clapping our arrival.

‘Looking good,’ shouted a tall, blond boy, whilst a chubby boy barked, ‘Honk honk!’ as he made squeezing motions with his hands held out in front of him.

Anna turned to me, a puzzled look on her face, which quickly turned to horror, the whites of her eyes enormous, as she gaped at my bikini. ‘OH MY GOD!’

I looked down to see that my bikini – my glamorous, celebrity endorsed bikini – was now as substantial and see-through as tissue paper.

‘Nice nerps,’ winked Chubby, ‘don’t need to ask if you’re smuggling peanuts.’

I grabbed my towel and wrapped it around me, tears streaming down my burning face. The whistles and shouts pursued me as I sprinted to the exit, Anna stumbling behind with our clothes and purses clutched to her chest.   We ran through the gates before crouching at the back of the car park to put on our clothes.

‘Was it really bad?’ I sobbed, attempting to pull on my t-shirt without revealing a single inch of bikini.

‘Nooooo.   It wasn’t that bad,’ said Anna, patting my shoulder. ‘I mean, you could totally see your nipples. And your pubes. But apart from that, it wasn’t too bad.’

‘That’s it. I’m never coming here again.’

And I didn’t. Not for the rest of that blistering summer anyway. When my friends were all heading off for a cooling, revitalising swim, I stayed at home. I might have been hot but that was a hell of a lot better than flashing to the whole town.

When I finally did return the following summer, I made sure my swimsuit was made out of the thickest, sturdiest material I could find.   And if I heard low whispers behind my back (Heh heh, that’s her…totally see-through…saw everything), I just held my head high and remembered that old Mae West quote: ‘It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.’

 

 

 

W is for The Wedding #AtoZChallenge

The bride and groom leave the church.  The bride looks lovely, as all brides do, but this one is especially beautiful.  Ignoring the ‘no confetti’ signs, the guests throw handfuls into the frosty air, where it dances like snowflakes.

The groom catches hold of his bride’s hand and lifts it to his lips.

‘Happy?’ he mouths.  She nods, but her eyes glance away from him.

She whispers in his ear, before walking away to where I wait: silently, patiently.  She takes a single white rose from her bouquet and lays it gently on my grave.

‘This is for you, Mum.’

frost-on-the-tombstone-liz

Another 100 word flash fiction post today. This one is for Friday Fictioneers, using the prompt above.

V is for (Silicon) Valley #AtoZChallenge #siliconvalley

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Ok, ok, so it’s another post on a TV programme.  I really don’t watch that much TV. Honestly.

It’s more that I only like to watch good TV that’s worth talking about: carefully selected dramas or comedies. No soaps; no shows about DIY, cooking or babies (with the exception of Bake Off); and no shows that involve voting for anyone, whether they’re singing, dancing or lost in a jungle. And I’d gouge out my eyes with the remote control before I’d watch any sort of ‘reality’ TV that features orange, trout-pouted, scary-eyebrowed potty mouths (and that’s just the men. Seriously), with the morals and alcohol tolerance of alley cats. God, I’m old.

However, I heartily recommend Silicon Valley.  Warning: if you don’t like juvenile humour, swearing (tastefully done, of course) and tech talk, don’t read any further and definitely DON’T watch it.

But if that doesn’t put you off, then read on, because it is hi-la-ri-ous. I don’t often LOL at things I see or read – be it on the internet or in real life/TV (same thing) – but I do at Silicon Valley, which follows a group of young men who found a startup tech company.

The funniest episode, ‘Optimal Tip to Tip Efficiency (Emmy nominated, folks!), features a scene where our heroes are presenting their product at a technology competition. As they prepare for their slot, it’s not looking hopeful. One of the guys attempts to motivate the team with the declaration that they’re going to win even if he has to pleasure every member of the audience. What follows is a scene of problem-solving genius as they attempt to do the math on how long this would actually take him and if he could manage to complete his task during the presentation.

The group take the dick dilemma as seriously as any computer conundrum, filling a whiteboard with equations and diagrams to determine the ‘Mean Jerk Time’.  A mathematically sound paper has even been written, demonstrating exactly how they could achieve satisfaction.  Pure class (but only if you like dick jokes, deadpan humour, swearing and are not easily offended etc etc).

New series of Silicon Valley on Sky Atlantic on Monday nights at 10.10pm.

T is for The Trip: Three Line Tales #AtoZChallenge #3linetales #thetriptospain

Another mash-up for today’s post.  It’s my first entry into Three Line Tales (pretty self-explanatory) using the photo prompt below, which reminded me of the lovely Michelin starred restaurants that Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are enjoying as they constantly bicker, joke and try to outdo each other with their impressions on The Trip to Spain.

But what are they actually thinking?

Rob: Steve is so good at doing Mick Jagger, he was nominated for an Oscar and he’s got all his own hair;  I’m just a light-entertainment whore and I can’t even do that as well as James bloody Corden.

Steve: Hmmm, I’d kill for a burger and a milkshake…and a large brandy…when can I mention Philomena again?

Rob: Oh, shut up and kiss me, for heaven’s sake. 

 

 

 

S is for Saturday #NoTimeToWrite #AtoZChallenge

Busy day so haven’t had time to come up with anything but don’t want to miss a day of the A-Z so it’s a picture round-up of my Saturday.*

*Yes, HWW, this post is a cop-out and not up to scratch.

**Ah, Slimming World, thou art a cruel mistress.

R is for Rihanna (and Rita) #AtoZChallenge #Rihanna #Rita #Rhubarb

Nah, only joking.  There’s no Rihanna.  But my most read posts recently have been the ones with a celeb in the title so I thought I’d give it another shot.  Instead, here’s a short story about Rita (and Arthur).

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‘Seven down.  Arose from the sea foam or daughter of Zeus and Dione, what is she goddess of? Four letters. Last one!’

Arthur narrowed his eyes and tapped his fingernails on the rim of his saucer. ‘I know this one, it’s on the tip of my tongue.  Hmmm, what letters have we got?’

‘Well, if ‘on the contrary’ is right, then the second letter is O. That’s all I’ve got,’ said Rita, as she doodled a large rose on the corner of the newspaper.

She relaxed back into the sofa, adjusting the waistband of her trousers, which were digging into her stomach. Their Sunday afternoon ritual was set in stone. A full roast lunch, followed by tea, shortbread biscuits and the Mail on Sunday crossword.

‘I’ll pop upstairs and get that Brewer’s Fable book. Bound to be in there.’ Arthur pulled himself up from the sofa, his knees creaking as he did so. He gave Rita a wink as he walked towards the door. ‘I won’t tell if you don’t.’

They didn’t consider it cheating if they looked in books on their second attempt. And on the third go, they rang Mike from down the road. In all their years of doing it, they’d only twice been stuck after that.

Rita reached down and pulled at her trousers again. They were too tight and she felt sick. She shouldn’t have had that second helping of rhubarb crumble but she hadn’t been able to resist. She really did make a lovely crumble, if she said so herself. Every time she made it, she thought back to Mrs Gardener telling the class that, to make a light crumble, their palms should remain completely clean. ‘Fingertips only, girls, fingertips only.’ Good advice.

Rita’s breath caught in her throat. She wheezed, a tight pain squeezing her chest. ‘Arthur!’ she cried.

‘Hang on; you’ve put that box for the charity shop in front of the shelf. Ok, I’m coming.’

Arthur came into the living room, concentrating on the open book in his hand. ‘Aha, got it!’

He looked up to see Rita’s expectant face before he revealed the answer. But Rita’s face was blank, her eyes lifeless.

‘Oh, Rita.’ He sat on the sofa next to her and patted her still hand. He took the newspaper from her lap and picked up the pen from where it had fallen to the floor.

In the blank squares, he wrote the final letters. LOVE.

‘All done, Rita love, all done.’

Q is for Quiz Night #AtoZChallenge

Second place. Again. Bloody Pete. Again.

‘Nice going, Pete, you twat.’

‘What?  I got the names muddled up.’

‘Oh yeah, easily done.  Oooh, look, it’s Tim from The Office driving bloody Miss Daisy. Oy, Hobbit, when you getting out of jail?’

‘Alright, Dave. It was an honest mistake.’

‘Bonus question, ladies and gents, for a bottle of bubbly; Poland’s finest.  First team to shout out the correct answer wins.’

‘Right, this is our chance to redeem ourselves.’

‘Who starred in The King’s Speech?’

‘It’s Colin Farrell.’

‘Pete, are you sure?’

‘Yep, 100%. COLIN FARRELL!’

‘COLIN FIRTH!’

‘Well done, ladies, don’t drink it all at once.’

‘Oh, sorry, mate.  I meant Colin Firth.’

This wasn’t just an excuse to use a lovely picture of yummy Colin.  I’m practising my flash fiction skills…