Funny Of The Week/Amusing Notices Part Six

My ‘Funny of the Week’ series is all about funny notices. If you missed part one, here it is. For part two, click here and here for part three. You’ll find part four here and part five here. Now for part six:

bell

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The Strange Workings Of The English Language Part Three

Here is part two in my new series, where I take a look at the weird and wonderful world of words. If you missed part one, please click here. You’ll find part two here.

Q. What is the difference between effect and affect?

A. Effect is a noun. It means outcome, consequence, or appearance e.g. What effect will leaving the EU have on Britain?

Affect. To affect is a verb. It means to transform or to change e.g. Does the hot weather affect you?

Interesting word of the week:

QUIXOTIC

Meaning: Impractical; unrealistic; exceedingly idealistic.

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Story

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Guest Writer Spot

This week, my Guest Writer is Abbie Taylor. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading her interesting piece about the inspiration behind her writing.

Here is a little bit about Abbie:

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. She has a visual impairment and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

 

Meeting My Inspiration Again

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

 

One sunny afternoon last week, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weeedwhackers as my landscapers did their weekly business in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. This time, it wasn’t my garage door being smashed by a truck belonging to a patron of the day care center next door. It was a lawnmower colliding with a car in my neighbor’s driveway on the other side. I know this only because one of the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist, I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building and  stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel. I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case, we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again, but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome. For more information about this and my other books, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

***

abbie profile

 

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I Challenge You To…

This week’s challenge is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:

School

Last week’s challenge was to write about coffee.  Here are a few of your wonderful pieces:

Keith Channing never disappoints:

There’s no finer sight to be seen,
In any work-place that I’ve been,
Forget the staff diner
And the comfy recliner
Just show me the coffee machine.

Jason Moody was inspired to write an ode to coffee:

Oh coffee

How your brown elexir doth smooth my soul
You place my grump on temporary parole
You vanquish the zombie that has formed overnight
You disperse the clouds and beckon the light.
From the very first drop you brighten my senses
My mind does a cartwheel and scales tall fences
Pressed to my lips like loves first kiss
You’re hot and delicious – oh you are bliss
The rest of the day I can now cope
You’ve given me teachers breath and a slither of hope
My boss, oh my boss she may do as she please
For I’m guarded, prepared – I’ve had my coffee.

And I’m thrilled to welcome Amy to the challenge for the first time:

I feel your heat on my lips, before I even wake.
Your scent lingers, I can taste you in my mind.
Traces of you everywhere, everything I ever needed.

Coffee.
How I love you….

EDC Writing sent in a short but super (well, it has got marmalade in it and I love marmalade!) one:

He woke up
She made love
His need …
Coffee, toast and marmalade.

Here’s a clever one from Val:

I remember back in the day
Coffee came either black or au lait
Now we’ve choices galore
Deciding’s a chore
All I want’s a plain cup of café!

Here is one from Kevin:

Tonight

The delight

Of her melons, with coffee and cream.

A man

Can

But dream …

And here is an entertaining read from Martin Strike:

A Load of old Bolognese

“There are going to be changes around here,” shouted Marcello at his staff. Most were past retirement age and had enjoyed their time working at the old garden centre before Marcello bought it to convert into what he told them would be ‘West Berkshire’s biggest and best’ Italian theme park.

“These are your new uniforms,” spat Marcello, throwing them each a woollen jumper. They already seemed stretched and misshapen.

“You can take that look off your faces,” said Marcello. “My nonna back in Sicily knitted them.” 

“Mine’s a bit long,” said Jeremy, his sagging down to his knees. “I could cut the bottom off?”

“Do that and I’ll cut your bottom off,” volleyed Marcello. None of the staff doubted for a moment that he would. 

“They’re very…colourful,” offered Netta, trying to see some silver-lining in the ghastly garments. 

“Il tricolore,” said Marcello, thumping his chest with one clenched fist. 

Jeremy frowned. “The Italian flag? Surely that’s green, white and red – not orange?” 

“Nonna may be a little colour-blind, but orange is good, orange is the colour of… oranges. Italian oranges.”

Like all of Marcello’s previous business ventures, Italy-are-We was failing miserably. After the closure of his sharp-suit establishment, when the Armani logos he’d stuck to his stock started to peel off from the Primark labels underneath, there’d been the whole parmesan-flavoured gelato court case. Now the theme park was a disaster. The local Anglo-Italian press, the Espresso Express, had a field day when they visited. A ‘load of old Bolognese’ they printed, as his mini-Venice coincided with a hosepipe ban, and the resulting macaroni-dry soil caused his plaster ‘leaning tower of pizza’ to subside to a perfectly vertical stance. He’d also turned half his land over to a field of durum wheat, in which he planned to conquer the lucrative Newbury pasta market, however not one of the tortellini he sowed germinated. 

At that moment, his brother Gianni himself was smiling behind the counter in his deli, slicing spicy sausage while serenading his many customers, all happy to queue just to hear his finely sung baritone arias. He would sell a lot of sausage today, but then when didn’t he?

As can be the way with brothers, they were very different. Gianni had their mother’s British easy-going nature but also their father’s smouldering Italian looks, luxuriant hair, and the skin that evoked a warm Tuscan sunset, the voice of a Sistine chapel choirboy and the sexual prowess of Ferrari’s prancing horse. His spicy sausage was always in demand.

Marcello had the fiery temperament of their Italian father, the smouldering looks of a burnt-out shed, the thinning hair of his aunt Flavia, skin that evoked the Kennet & Avon canal, and the sexual prowess of a Fiat Cinquecento.

The left Marcello with a real scheggia on his shoulder and one goal in life: to outdo Gianni in any way he could. Now desperate measures were called for once again, so having closed the meeting, and as he always did at times of crisis, and went to the barbers.

***

Marcello sat back in the chair, while Salvatore, who ran Head Cuts, the spit-and-sawdust barbers in Newbury’s red-light area, listened to his problems. 

“I might be able to help you.” Salvatore wobbled a mirror to show Marcello the back of his head where most of his remaining hair sat. “You remember when Tony threatened to sue me for shaving off both his ears as well as his sideburns?” 

“Who?” asked Marcello. 

“You know – Tony Ravioli. He used to wear glasses. Anyway, I got word to il Padrino, and he fixed it. Deaf men tell no tales.”

Marcello was impressed. “You know il Padrino: the Godfather?”

Marcello knew il Padrino to be the Don of the Reading Mafiosi, the force behind the Berkshire ciabatta racket. Legend had it that he once put a jockey’s severed head inside the stable of a horse that had failed to win a race at Newbury that he’d attempted to fix. It was so scared, it never ran again. 

Marcello had never met il Padrino, but a time was agreed to meet at Luigi’s cafe. Come the day, sat at the designated table, Marcello was surprised to see someone not broad shouldered, snake-eyed and scar-faced, but a man older than Michelangelo, more trembly than Shakin’ Stevens and even shorter than himself. However, he was wearing absurdly dark glasses for indoors, and appearing to be rolling a tooth pick in his mouth: the true characteristics of the Mafiosi.

“Il Padrino?” Marcello asked.

“Watta you say?” The old man screwed-up his face.

Marcello could not repeat the question for fear of giving away il Padrino’s identity. In tones as loud as he dared, he told him of his lifetime’s rivalry with Gianni and explained the predicament of Italy-are-We. Il Padrino sat motionless. He stopped Marcello with a single loud snore, then lurched forward with a start.

Marcello leaned in to hear his wisdom.

The old man coughed, causing a few drips of phlegm to land in Marcello’s macchiato, and sent what turned out not to be a toothpick, but a set of lower dentures, rattling on the table in front of them.

“I thinka …” said the old man, gummily, “that you should lova youra brother. It’sa whatta your mama would want.”

Marcello knew this could never happen.

“And you needa a hit man,” added il Padrino.

Marcello’s eyes widened. “Yes, to pump Gianni full of lead.” 

“No, no. A hit singer – lika Deana Martin or Sinatra. To bring in the peoples.” 

“But they’re both dead,” said Marcello, crossing himself. 

Il Padrino sat back in his chair at this revelation before succumbing to sleep again. Their meeting was over. Il Padrino had spoken.

Marcello got up and left without finishing his drink, just before a chauffeured limo pulled up outside the café and the real Godfather strode in. Having got up from diving behind the counter, Luigi confirmed Marcello had gone – after having sat talking with his demented grandfather.

***

Back in his office, Marcello sat thinking. Jeremy walked in with the day’s meagre takings. With his voluminous knitted jumper tucked into the waistline of his slacks he looked like a gyroscopic sheep holding a child’s pocket money.

“Sing me a song,” said Marcello.

“You mean like Kumbaya?”

Stupido – something Italian.”

“You sure?”

“Sing.” Marcello thumped the table. “Sing.”

Jeremy stretched out an arm and screeched the opening lines of Nessun Dorma.

The contorted puckering that Jeremy’s voice gave Puccini’s aria did not invoke Pavarotti so much as parvovirus.

Marcello sat in silence. He’d worked the most vengeful way of dealing with that bastard, Salvatore for fixing him up to see Galileo’s great-grandfather; boiling him in salted water until al dente. But, perhaps the old man had a point – an Italian singer of renown might just do the trick. But where to get one? Cheaply.

Marcello held auditions the next week. He endured Elviro Presley, whose In the Cornetto was even worse than Little Giuseppe Osmond’s Slick-Haired Lover from Livorno. Two hours of painful listening later, he shooed the last of the trialists, Boy Georgio, out after hearing just one line of Parma Hamelen, to see his brother sat waiting for him.

“Ciao, Marcello. I hear you need a singer.”

“I hear you need a face transplant.”

“Ha,” said Gianni. “Come on, Bro, you know I can sing, and to be honest, my heart just isn’t in the sausage business anymore. Come on, let me sing. You know I’ll bring in the crowds.”

Marcello stared into his brother’s eyes. “Swap.”

“Swap what?”

“All of Italy-are-We for your awful shop, that’s what.”

“You’ll find its pronounced offal.”

“Whatever.” Marcello folded his arms. “That’s the deal. Straight swap. Take it or leave it.”

Gianni rubbed his chin. “Well, they say blood is thicker than water,” and he thrust out his hand.

Marcello spat in his before quickly shaking on the deal. And that was that.

***

The re-branded Italialand was a magnifico success. A marquee was brought in to accommodate the crowds of ladies who came to swoon at Gianni in his tight trousers as he belted out Caruso numbers every night. Another was erected as a birra tent for their husbands to console themselves watching the live Serie A match on the big screen, before their wives came excitedly in from the concert, all sweaty and sticky, full of unrequited carnal thoughts for the long night ahead.

The woollen garments the staff wore became so fashionable, that ‘Knitting Nonna’, as she became dubbed, was flown over to keep up with demand. They were worn by ladies all over Newbury as colourful dresses, their waist lines enhanced by a thick Gucci belt, sold, of course, at fashion-house prices at Italialand.

Even the tortellini started to grow.

    ***

That was ten years ago. If you are ever on holiday in Newbury today and are looking for Italialand, you will find it long gone. You may come across the odd petrified face of a plastic model Pompeii victim among the rubble, but that’s about all.

It’s a strange thing. One by one, Gianni’s staff left Italialand, usually mysteriously, often overnight. Soon, no one would work there – Marcello spread rumour that it was haunted by a ghost from the Mussolini days, wearing disturbingly dark glasses, looking for visitors upon which to cough out its teeth in a sputum of Plague.

With fewer staff, visitors had to bake their own pizzas, punt their own gondolas and when the local train enthusiast’s society got stuck on the unmanned Dante’s Inferno roller coaster, it wasn’t only the Espresso Express paparazzi that published the photos. A lawsuit and international scandal followed when the unstaffed Michelangelo’s statue of David; on loan from Florence, toppled after an unnamed local delicatessen owner climbed it to paint a moustache, the Biblical hero pinning  a schoolgirl to the ground by its great marble appendage for several hours. Italialand was immediately closed-down by the authorities, and with Gianni having to seek anonymity from disgrace, he fit in well in the general populace in the nearby town of Thatcham.

Of course, Marcello made a mess of the spicy sausage business. Every time Italialand had another staff member disappear suddenly, he would get a consignment of meat delivered late in the night by il Padrino’s men. But people said his sausages were all dry, and gristly. He didn’t seem to mind: he was too busy enjoying his brother’s failure, as he stood in his shop window and hung up yet another batch of sausages, all curiously wrapped in cut-up sections of green, white and orange wool.

***

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Markets For Writers

I know a lot of you enjoy writing flash fiction. But how about bite size flash fiction? If you enjoy telling a story in only a few words, then take a look at the 50-Word Stories website. There are special requirements for submitting a story so do read their rules carefully. They don’t pay for each story published, but there is a small cash prize for the ‘Story of the Month’. 

To read the type of stories they publish, visit the website.

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write

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Funny Of The Week/Amusing Notices Part Five

My ‘Funny of the Week’ series is all about funny notices. If you missed part one, here it is. For part two, click here and here for part three. You’ll find part four here. Now for part five:

luck

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The Strange Workings Of The English Language Part Two

Here is part two in my new series, where I take a look at the weird and wonderful world of words. If you missed part one, please click here.

Q. Why do you sometimes use an apostrophe for ‘its’?

A. An apostrophe is used for ‘its’ when the word is used as a contraction. The apostrophe stands in for the missing letters. Here is an example:

It’s going to rain today.

So, in this case, the apostrophe stands in for the missing ‘i’. If a contraction hadn’t been used, then the sentence would read as follows:

It is going to rain today.

Another example is:

It’s gone.

Here, the apostrophe replaces the missing ‘h’ and ‘a’ for ‘has’.

When you’re using the word ‘its’ for ownership, you don’t need an apostrophe as this example demonstrates:

The dog chased its tail.

Interesting word of the week:

DISEMBOGUE

Meaning: To emerge or be discharged into the sea or a large river.

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words

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