Thinking About You

‘A party?? No way; you’ve got exams coming up. You need to start buckling down and thinking about your future.’

I stopped the car and Lizzy opened the passenger door. ‘Oh my god, you won’t let me do anything. I hate you!’

She slammed the door and, dragging her rucksack on the ground behind her, stropped off towards the school gates.

Aggghhhh. Teenagers. I breathed deeply to calm down, pulled out into the road and turned on the radio.

‘…the singer had already left the stage when the explosion occurred. 22 people, including children have been killed, with more than 60 injured.’

I listened to the rest of the news, barely able to take in what had happened. Innocent children murdered at a joyous occasion. Families destroyed. Parents devastated.

The news finished and one of my favourite songs came on. I started to sing along, but I heard the words properly for the first time; my voice cracked and tears started to flood down my face. Tears for the families left behind. Tears for the parents who would never see their children again. Tears for those who died, scared and alone, thinking about their loved ones.

When I heard that sound
When the walls came down
I was thinking about you
About you

When my skin grows old
When my breath runs cold
I’ll be thinking about you
About you

 When I run out of air to breathe
It’s your ghost I see
I’ll be thinking about you, about you

I pulled the car over and grabbed my phone, hitting the saved number. Pick up, pick up.

‘What?’

‘Go to the party. Buy something new. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your life.’

‘Thank you!’

‘I love you, Lizzy.’

‘Love you too. Later.’

‘Yes. I’ll see you later.’

***

Lyrics from Skin by Rag’n’Bone Man © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Songwriters: Dan Bryer / Jamie Scott / Jonny Coffer / Mike Needle / Rory Graham

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A story using the photo prompt above for the Friday Fictioneers.

The tragic events of Manchester have been constantly on my mind this week and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those murdered and injured in this senseless attack.

Heart of Rome

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Rio was banging on again about his favourite topic: himself. ‘Obviously, I’m the principal figure as I represent America.’

‘I’m sick of your incessant claptrap,’ said Dan. ‘You won’t be so important once a tangerine buffoon destroys your precious America.’

‘That’s the leader of the free world you’re talking about.  Just watch your goddamn mouth.’

‘Surely Angela Merkel’s the leader of the free world nowadays?’

‘What?! You come over here and say that!’  Like that was going to happen.

‘Alright, alright, keep your bird-crap toga on.  Why so grouchy – dropped one of your coins in the fountain?’

Rio would have rolled his eyes if he could.  ‘That’s the Trevi, you ignoramus.’

‘You calling me thick? Sacrilege, mate, I’m like that with the Pope.’ Dan attempted to cross his immobile fingers to demonstrate his close relationship with the pontiff.

‘Will you both please put a cork in it?’ snapped Niles.  ‘400 bloody years of listening to your arguments, and I don’t even know what you gits look like.’

‘You’re not missing anything,’ said Big G.  ‘Blimey, look at that Swedish lovely there.  Bet she’d love to hop on this bad boy.’

‘For the twenty thousandth time,’ said Dan, without exaggeration, ‘the pole between your legs is AN OAR.  It’s not your John Thomas.’ Oh, to be able to rise up and shove that oar where the sun don’t shine.

‘I distinctly heard Bernini say, when he was carving it, “Lucky old Ganges, everyone will be jealous of his whopper.”’

‘Yes, whopper OAR!’

‘Well, why’s she smiling and having her photo taken in front of me then?’

‘Because she wants to show her friends back home what the biggest dic- I mean, idiot, in Rome looks like.’

‘Ha! You said it, biggest dick!’

And so on, ad infinitum, for another 400 years…

***

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is in Piazza Navona in downtown Rome.  It was designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X.

 The river gods represented by four giant figures at the base of the fountain are  the Danube (Europe), the Rio de Plata (Americas), the Nile (Africa) and the Ganges (Asia).

Danube touches the Pope’s personal coat of arms, as the river closest to Rome. 

Rio de la Plata is sitting on a pile of coins, a symbol of the riches America could offer to Europe.

Nile’s head is covered with a cloth because, at that time, no one knew where its source was. 

Ganges carries a long oar, representing the river’s navigability.

***

This is my entry for the Sunday Photo Fiction, which involves writing a story of around 200 words based on the top photo prompt.

Photo © Sally-Ann Hodgekiss.

U Got The Look #3linetales

Honestly, what did I do before I discovered writing prompts??  It’s great, I never have to think about what to post anymore.  Mind you, it does mean that I haven’t written much about all the incredibly exciting things that have been going on in my life recently…exciting things like work (ugh), cooking (ugh), washing-up (ugh), shopping (ugh).    Hmm, maybe not writing about them is a good thing.  Here’s a Three Line Tale instead:

Lost in the mass of teenage girls screaming along to The Style’s biggest hit, I’m All Hers, I gaze at Pete, their heart-throb lead singer: I stare at his carefully tousled hair framing his perfect face with its chiseled cheekbones, piercing blue eyes and soft lips, his muscular body displayed to perfection in a tight t-shirt and ripped skinny jeans.

I make sure he is looking at me, before I mouth, ‘Do you want me to mend those for you?’

He glares at me, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, ‘OMG, Mum! You’re so embarrassing!’

 

Another One Bites the Dust…Worst Honeymoon Ever #FridayFictioneers #flashfiction

‘I knew those bloody snails were a mistake,’ croaked Benjy’s new stepfather from the ensuite before vomiting again.

‘I had them and I’m fine,’ said Mum. ‘Maybe it was all that brandy?’

Benjy bounced out of bed and grabbed a book. ‘Read me Wimpy Kid!’

‘Wow, you’re hyper. Did you take your meds?’

Benjy nodded.

He needed to calm down if Mum wasn’t going to get suspicious. It was another three weeks until his prescription was filled.

A heavy thud came from the ensuite.

‘Terry?’ said Mum. Silence.

Benjy smiled. Now it would just be the two of them once more.

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A 100 word story using the photo prompt above for the Friday Fictioneers.

A is for Award #AgghStopThat

The best thing about the A-Z Challenge is finding new blogging pals, such as Outside Perception who has nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks very much ☺

As part of the award, first I have to reveal three things about myself:

  1. I was part of the team who developed the Poking Tunnel™
  2. My favourite breakfast is cold pizza with a cup of tea (PG Tips/Redbush blend)
  3. I suffer from misophonia so there’ll be no apple eating in my vicinity

Then answer five questions set by Outside Perception:

Tell us about something that you used to believe only to find out it was incorrect? I thought that guerrilla warfare was gorilla warfare.

If given the choice between Cake or Deathwhat would it be?  Ooh, death please. No, no, I meant cake. Definitely cake.

What was your imaginary friend’s name and what special skills did they have? I already had two brothers, a sister, a dog, cats and a rabbit. There wasn’t room for anyone else to move in, imaginary or otherwise.

What is your all time most watched movie? Those Glory Glory Days’. It’s about a group of teenage girls growing up in London in 1961 who are obsessed with Spurs as they become the first team to win both the League and the FA Cup. My sister and I watched it almost every day during the summer holiday of 1984. I’m not into football at all but that doesn’t matter. ‘Those Glory Glory Days’ is a funny, sweet film about the friendships and frustrations of growing up.

When you have downtime…(Laugh.. yah I know) Ok, If you ever had downtime… What would you do?  Drink prosecco/G&T/beer with a huge bowl of crisps/nuts/antipasti (yes, it’s pretentious but I lived in Rome for three years…and saying that probably makes me even more pretentious ☺) whilst flicking through aspirational magazines, with articles such as How to Enjoy A Walk in the Rain, Discover Your Dosha (no, not, as I thought, how to locate coins you’ve dropped down the side of the sofa but how to determine your body-mind type) and Look at Us With Our Perfect Life (‘Interior designer Arabella – ‘Well, I picked out the drapes for my friend Figgy’s study’- and banker Flynn invite us into their beautiful beachside home, full of treasures they’ve picked up on their travels.  What is their secret?  Flynn: ‘I get paid £250k a year.’  Look, here’s a picture of them with their children, Bobby and Fisher, enjoying a trip to the local organic/gluten free/mercury laden fish stall.  ‘Oh mother, how scrummy!’ says Bobby’) where I hate literally everyone in there whilst secretly envying them and wondering why I don’t commute to my garden studio each morning to create artisan pottery for two hours before taking a break to drink herbal tea as I walk my French bulldog along the beach.  Yes, I’m bitter.

Favourite post of mine?  Hmmm. Either this story based on the lyrics to Hotel California or this post about the time my friend and I had our clothes stolen during a illicit midnight skinny dip. Funnily enough, the only time I’d venture into a swimming pool now (naked or otherwise) is at midnight.

Next I have to nominate other bloggers (Jeez, there’s actually quite a lot to do for this award…) I’m going to choose some of the new bloggers that I met as part of the A-Z Challenge:

Baby Gates Down Working full-time with two girls, Louise moved online because there was no space left at home.  Intelligent, funny and thoughtful – what more could you ask for??
Iain Kelly works as an TV editor and has hundreds of short stories under his belt.  His A-Z was particularly creative, utilising a children’s poster as the basis for an exciting 26-part thriller.
Ramblings of K writes about her experiences of new countries and cultures.  I’m impressed with how many countries she’s ticked off on her world A-Z list.
Weekends in Maine Activities, tips and trivia about life in Maine; from childhood memories and spontaneous trips to adventures and family life.
Rochelle Wisoff-Fields An published author and illustrator, Rochelle is also the host for Friday Fictioneers, where a picture prompt inspires bloggers to create a complete story in 100 words or less.

And here are my five questions for them:

1 Happiest childhood memory?
2 Tea or coffee?
3 Which ‘Friends’ character would you be and why?
4 If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
5 Summer or winter?

Don’t worry if you don’t have time/don’t want to participate.  I’m free and easy like that 🙂

Rules: 1. Put the award logo in your post and link back to the creator of the award. 2. List all the rules. 3. Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog. 4. Tell your readers three things about yourself and answer the questions set by your nominator. 5. Nominate readers and notify them. 6. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice.  7. Share the link to your best/favourite post of yours.

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…

 

O is for Outcast #AtoZChallenge #SixWordStoryChallenge

A short but sweet post today; again killing two birds [Really? – Ed] with one stone with this A to Z Challenge entry for the Six Word Story Challenge.

The prompt was Outcast.  I’ve reached deep into my soul to explore the pain and misery of not fitting in with your peers and feeling like you just don’t belong anywhere:

Quack, quack, get out of town. 

From Writing 101 to 50,000 words #NaNoWriMo

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Inheriting a country hotel just in time for Christmas turned out to be more of a turkey than a cracker for Jane, especially when one of the guests is murdered… Will she find the killer in time for the traditional family Christmas she’s always dreamed of?

Well, I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself.

From not having a plot 30 days ago, apart from the vague idea that my main character would inherit a country house and a murder would happen, I’ve finished a rough draft that has a storyline that just about makes sense, a bunch of red herrings and a plot twist at the end.   There’s a bit of sex, plenty of Baileys and a few mince pies thrown in.

I haven’t done much housework (alright, any), meals have been a bit random (‘Oh, just eat those sausages with a bowl of cereal if you’re hungry’) and Christmas is quickly looming with no presents, cards or decorations organised but I don’t care.

I wanted to do NaNoWriMo to get me back into writing and hopefully get something to the stage where I can follow the example of friends such as Suzanne and actually publish it.

I’ve got three novels figuratively tucked in a drawer, at various stages of editing and I would like to actually put one out there. For public consumption. And public criticism – which is the scary part.  At the moment, it’s the literary version of Schrödinger’s cat: it could be be best book in the world or it could be the worst. I could always publish under the pseudonym Barbara Wordington and then no one will know it’s me so they’ll never know if I’ve written a book to rival To Kill A Mockingbird or one that ranks with Fifty Shades of Grey (just how many times can one person bite their lip?? 28 apparently). Except that I’ve told you now so I’ll have to come up with a different alias. Babbington Wordle??

NaNo – I feel like we’re on first name terms now – has got me excited about writing again and I really want to get this latest story polished enough to publish for next Christmas.

I love Christmas books; I have two shelves full of them and reread most of them every year. From ones I had when the kids were small like Merry Christmas Maisy and Richard Scarry’s The Night Before The Night Before Christmas to Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien and The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. The thought that I could publish a Noel novel is very motivational.

Right, I’m off to edit. Obviously it’s not my favourite part of writing but I will deny myself any mince pies until it’s done.*

*Oh, who am I kidding?  Brandy butter anyone?

Keeping it 100

So, it’s my 100th post.  Woohoo. Yay. Etc. It’s only taken me five years to get here so that’s a grand total of 20 posts a year.  Wow.  I’m really not sure why I’m not competing for readers and sponsorship deals with the likes of Zoella or Perez Hilton.

I’m obviously the opposite of Adrian Mole, who said that: ‘Happy people don’t keep a diary’. In my case, unhappy people don’t keep a blog. It’s not so much that I’m depressed but after three years in Rome, life doesn’t seem quite so exciting anymore. It’s back to the drudgery of work, fighting with the self-service tills at Sainsburys, making small talk about the Apprentice and Donald Trump, and dull drizzly days.

I need a kick up the backside and to focus on the great things about Britain. Hilarious comedy series like Drifters, The Detectorists or Cuckoo. Fish and chips. M&S. Wilko (nothing like that in Rome!) Libraries. Cadburys. Knickers big enough to cover fat arses.crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76

Ok, I’m starting to feel better. And I have managed a bit of writing, just not blogging. For this momentous post, I’m right back to where I started this blog in November 2011. #NaNoWriMo.  50,000 words in one month.  Twelve days in and 20,000 words done so I’m on track.

I decided to join in late on the 1st November, and had no plot, characters or idea of what to write so I’m quite impressed with myself that I’ve managed to keep going.   It’s a Christmas Chick-Lit Murder Mystery, set in a Cotswold country house. Very light-hearted, humorous (hopefully) and festive. It won’t be winning any Booker Prizes, put it like that, but it might be entertaining.  I don’t actually read much chick-lit but I’m a sucker for any stories set at Christmas so my literary standards drop quite considerably during the festive season.   Hopefully, other people’s do too…

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Behind this peaceful festive scene, a murder is taking place…oh, and plenty of gratuitous sex, drinking and baking

Only another 30,000 words to go.  I’ve had complaints from family members that mealtimes are running late, housework is not being done [nothing new there – Ed] and there’s no food in the fridge, but that’s a small price to pay for getting my creative juices flowing again.  And I promise I’ll clean them up on the 1st December.