Guest Writer Spot

This week,  Donny Marchand is my guest writer. He’s featured several times before in my Friday slot but if you haven’t come across his work before, here’s a little bit about him, in his own words:

‘I have only started writing for publication a short time ago, and been fortunate to have had some modest success, in the placement of my work.

‘I have had four short stories published in a magazine entitled ‘Dimdima’ whose main office is in Mumbai, India. Two articles  published in a newspaper, ‘UK Column’ who are based in Plymouth,UK, and one short story in a magazine ‘Stories for Children’ out of the U.S.A.’

Here’s part two of his tribute to political correctness.

Absurdity Rules

By

Donny Marchand

The news that the Council was chopping down the apple trees had spread like wildfire in all the constituencies. First they had destroyed the chestnuts and now the apples, what next?

This time though the population was not going to succumb so easy. The council would learn that knocking off chestnuts and apples was one thing, but chopping down trees was another.

As the crowd gathered in Bramley Park preparing for battle, the Council’s leader was lining up his civil servants and accountants in the front of the town hall. And while the Council’s army waited anxiously for the order to march ahead to the war zone, they continued to complain apprehensively about the task that lay ahead. They were quite happy to make peoples lives miserable, by enforcing ridiculous rules under the instructions of their superiors, but they did not believe that they were hired to engage in combat.

Meanwhile the citizens were spending their time constructively collecting their ammunition, apples. The police had arrived at the park and were starting to cordon off the area just outside the barricades that had been erected by the people, partly from trees that had already been felled by the Council. Exposing the Council’s ignorance and downright bullishness, was the fact that some of the flattened  trees weren’t even apple, but ash and oak timbers.

Axes and chainsaws in hand the Councils troops advanced down the avenue towards Bramley Park. They were the picture of a forbidding force, but the truth be known their hearts weren’t in it. In fact fisticuffs was an exercise they usually avoided like the plague. And the police, they just stood back watching on the sidelines and made no attempt to get involved. 

Warning shouts to stay away came bellowing out from behind the barricades. When that had no effect on the approaching marauders the missiles started flying. After a number of the    apples hit their targets, the people’s opponents turned tail and fled back to the council. They never really had the stomach for a fight, and that was obvious by their nil resistance.

Then suddenly out of the blue, the Ministry of Defence intervened. They had come up with what they thought was the perfect political solution. As the three new aircraft carries just built had no planes available for them they were useless. So the MOD came up with the bright idea to use the apples as missiles aboard them, for attack as well as defence. The plan was that the sailors would stand on the flight deck and chuck the apples at enemy ships passing by. They could also use them to knock down aircraft, and bombard coastlines. Besides the ships getting installed into a new category called apple carriers, they would also be renamed. Henceforth, they would be called HMS Granny Smith, HMS Cox Pippin, and HMS Battle of Bramley respectively. 

Now everyone will be satisfied boasted the MOD. It concluded, that the army could collect the fallen apples, and give them to the navy, who would use them as weapons. As the apples would be continuously needed, their trees could not be chopped down by order of the MOD. This would appease the people, and the Council’s staff would be relieved that they would no longer be subjected to extra work cutting down the trees. Also, their cowardice in battle would not be mentioned and hopefully forgotten. Everyone will be happy, bragged the MOD who saw themselves as winning some political kudos over the whole affair.

But they hadn’t counted on the Council’s pettiness and insatiable appetite to always be in the right. The Council leaders felt that the Government, especially the MOD, had betrayed them. And they would fix the police for taking such a neutral position, at the next budget review. They would bide their time till the next opportunity that gave them an excuse to chop down the trees arose. It might be awhile but the moment would come, and they would jump at the first chance, to get their own way.

                                           * * *         

The knock on the door sounded ominous, and as usual Oscar’s instincts didn’t let him down. He could hardly believe his ears as he stood there in the portal. The Thought Police, were they joking! And why on earth did they want to speak to him?

“Were looking for a mister Schmidt, “ said one of the three sternly faced men standing on the porch.

“Your speaking to him,” replied Oscar, “what can I do for you?”

“We understand that a couple of days ago you referred to a Mister Luckhard as being dead, Is that true?”

“If you’re talking about good old Charlie, yes that’s correct.”

“No, that is not correct.”

“What do you mean? If the guy’s dead then he’s dead. What else am I supposed to call it?”

“The correct legal phraseology to use is, living impaired. Anything else said to describe the demise is unlawful, and subject to punishment.”

“That’s ridiculous!” rebounded Oscar.

“No, it’s the law.”

“Since when?” questioned Oscar abruptly?

“Since now,” replied the gruff policeman.

Oscar tried to close the door but the officer pushed him back and forced his way inside. Then in a sinister voice enquired, “Tell me, Mister Schmidt, do you happen to know a person named Elijah Champion?”

“Why do you want to know?” a suspicious Oscar asked.

“Just answer the question,” growled the bossy officer.

“Yeah I know him, he’s my computer wizard. Fixes things in it when it’s broken, and shows me how to do things on it. Anyway, why do you want to know if I know him?”

“Does he use terminology like master and slave when you talk to him?”

I think so, but I don’t really understand what he says most of the time. It’s all just computer mumbo jumbo to me. All I care is that he knows how to make it work. He does the fixing and I do the paying. So what’s the problem?”

“With all that master and slave talk we believe he’s a racist, and if you’re mixed up with him you’ll be in for a lot of trouble pretty soon now.”

“You guys are paranoid madmen,” retorted Oscar.

“Madmen eh, well that’ll be two more weeks tagged on to the  diversity training.”

“You know what you can do with your stupid diversity thing, what ever that is?” snarled Oscar.

“Also,” replied the officer, “it has been reported to us that two weeks ago in an argument with your butcher, you accused him of being a thief, and then referred to him as a swine.”

“So what!” responded Oscar forcefully.

“I’ll tell you what! Pigs are living creatures, with feelings just like you and me. And when you categorized them with your butcher as thieves, you hurt their feelings, upsetting them for no reason whatsoever. We have received an official complaint from the Animal Rights Society, accusing you of unprovoked and unmitigated slander, and they are demanding an official apology to the pigs from you forthwith.”

“Be a cold day in hell before I do that. This is all the most absurd idiocy I’ve ever heard!” barked Oscar.

“In that case,” snapped the Thought Policeman, “I have an order from the Ministry of Mind Over Matter, to detain you for a months course of diversity training, plus two extra weeks for the madmen remark, or if you prefer three months in jail followed by a month of community service. It’s up to you.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Oscar growled, as he was dragged away by the three Thought Police Officers.

* * *

“Hello, Betsy here.”

“Hi, I’d like to speak to Ms.Tillison please.”

“Yes that’s me, who’s calling?”

“This is Mister Killjoy from the Job Centre.”

“What can I do for you Mister Killjoy?

“I’m calling you about the help wanted add you wanted us to display on our jobs available notice board.”

“What about it?”

“ I’m afraid it’s not suitable for our needs, so we won’t be putting it up on view.”

“Why, what’s wrong with it?”

“Quite a number of things, to start with there’s the wording that you use in the section about the delivery of Easter eggs. We don’t use the phrase Easter eggs anymore, the new acceptable idiom is spring spheres.”

“Why?”

“Because the term Easter eggs might insult people who don’t practice Easter in their religious beliefs. Also, it’s upsetting to those that don’t believe in the Easter Bunny.”

”That’s ridiculous!” exclaimed Ms.Tillison.

“And then there’s the part in your add that says your seeking to employ truck drivers who don’t drink spirits. That is impertinent and hurtful to alcoholics’ feelings. Just think what it does to their self-esteem. Also, it is prejudiced and totally against our equal opportunities policy. We believe that everyone is entitled to apply for a job, no matter what their habits or addictions, even if non-conducive to the job.”

“That’s just about the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard,” injected Ms.Tillison.

Then Killjoy continued, “you also state in your add that you are looking for reliable and hard-working people. That is totally unfair and prejudice to unreliable and lazy folks. They are entitled to the same opportunities as anyone else, even if they don’t really want to work, and would be of no use to their employer.”

“Your reasoning is completely insane,” replied Betsy.

“And to add insult to injury, your slanderous talk about people who are not very smart is definitely unacceptable,” added Killjoy.

“What on earth are you talking about?” asked Betsy.

“In your add it says that you would be happy to employ those that express themselves, through putting forward creative ideas. Well first of all we don’t allow the expression creative ideas anymore. The new acceptable terminology is ‘thought showers’, and people who don’t have ‘thought showers’ should not be excluded from work opportunities just because they are dumb. To hold that against them would be considered a criminal offence.”

“You and all your nonsensical protocols belong in the loony bin,” retorted Betsy .

“Lastly,” said Killjoy,” is your remark that you would be pleased to have someone who enjoyed feeding the animals in your back garden with you. Well I must inform you that feeding animals in your garden is against the Council’s rules, punishable by a fine, jail, or both. By the way which creatures are you feeding?”

“Why, does that matter?” questioned Betsy.

“It certainly does!” exclaimed Killjoy and then continued, because some are excluded from the Councils ban.”

“Which ones?” she asked.

“Rats and snakes,” Killjoy replied.

“Protecting their relatives are they?” remarked Betsy.

“And furthermore,” growled Killjoy, we will be reporting your offence to the Council shortly.”

“My God,” declared Betsy, “all I wanted to do was offer people a job, and you want to turn me into a criminal. I’m sorry I approached the Job Centre in the first place.”

“Oh I wouldn’t take the rejection personal if I were you,” said Killjoy.

“And why not? queried Betsy.

“Because we turn down about ninety-five percent of all job ads submitted to us for display each week. Since it is our responsibility to assist people in procuring work, we must scrutinize everything to ensure that we do not employ any ideological dogma to our methods of achieving our goals and targets.”

“Sure, and I’m the next Pope,” Betsy concluded.

* * *

Pocus Hocus the world is out of focus

It’s tilted on its axis the wrong way round

Pocus Hocus everything is bogus

We’re turning every practice upside down

We’re all living in the land of make believe

Madly driven by the gospel of greed

Delusion fraud and malice are the order

of the day

Drinking from the devil’s chalice

Everybody’s lining up to dine at his buffet

Pocus Hocus where can this folly take us

It doesn’t serve a purpose it isn’t safe or sound

Pocus Hocus this madness is contagious

It’s all just one big circus that’s closing down

We’re all riding on a cloud of make believe

Gladly spurning all reality

Deception and injustice are the games we

like to play

Evil beckons from its palace

And we all blindly follow come what may

Where we gonna go when it falls apart

Who we gonna blame for our own blackheart

Where we gonna run gonna hide come

judgement day

Pocus Hocus this world’s become atrocious

All full of hate and lawless it’s Hades bound

Pocus Hocus it’s false and superficial

Like Sodom and Gomorrah it will burn down

We’re all heading for catastrophe

Craving power wealth and luxury

Callously inflicting pain upon our prey

Treading on our every victim

Satan’s vicious code we ply to their dismay

How will we excuse our mortal traits

Standing there before those pearly gates

Do we really think they’ll open up and let us in

Pocus Hocus the world is out of focus.

                                               * * *

roald

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Another Trip Down Memory Lane

I was having a sort out a little while ago and came across an old photo of me in my school uniform. The photo brought back many a happy memory from times spent playing ‘It’ in the playground, to having friends round for a special treat of Ribena and fish fingers, to Bunty comic. Ah, Bunty.  There was something quite special about Bunty:

Bunty is the Best

“You can’t have Bunty. I have Bunty. You can have Mandy.”

My friend’s words chilled me. It was 1979 and we were both seven years old. At that grand old age I had grown out of Twinkle comic and was ready to move on.

I’d stood for ages at the newsagents, with Mum tutting beside me, as my eyes lit up at the array of comics on display – The Dandy, The Beano, Mandy, Bunty, Judy, Jackie (a bit too old for me at the time) and several others. Mum didn’t understand. To have a weekly comic was a wonderful treat. When Dad first bought me Twinkle when I was five, I’d fallen in love with it. The pages were bursting with colour, the stories (absolutely dire, of course, but brilliant to a young girl) dazzling and entertaining and then there was the cut-out doll, with cut-out clothes to dress her in. And her choice of wardrobe was mine, all mine. Well, all two outfits that is. But I loved her and I loved cut-out dolls.

So when the stories in Twinkle became too twee and ‘beneath me’, it was time to take the next step in comics for girls.

The Dandy and The Beano looked fun but more for boys. Mandy and Judy looked quite good but when I saw that Bunty had a cut-out doll every week, that was it. There was no contest – until I told my friend.

She was adamant. Bunty was hers and I wasn’t allowed to have it as well. I was so upset. I didn’t want Mandy, I wanted Bunty. I can’t quite remember how it was resolved. Perhaps our mothers sorted it out or maybe we sorted it out for ourselves as I started to take Bunty each week and my friend decided she preferred Mandy after all!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the comic every week. Woe betide the paper boy if he brought it late. I would then settle down and read it from cover to cover. Thinking back to the story strips makes me wonder who on earth came up with the titles. Clearly someone who liked their alliteration. There was Catch the Cat, Tina of Tumbledown Towers, Sandra’s Sad Secret, Lessons from Lindy, In Petra’s Place, Donna’s Double Life and many more.  

My favourite story was The Four Marys. It’s arguably the most popular and well-known one running from when the comic was first launched in 1958 to its end in 2001. Reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s St. Clare’s and Malory Towers books, which centred around girls at boarding school, The Four Mary’s featured stories about four girls at St. Elmo’s Boarding School for Girls. I loved the scrapes the girls found themselves in but no matter what happened, it all ended well.

Once I’d devoured the stories, I then turned to the back page and to Bunty’s Cut-Out Wardrobe. I don’t know what it was about the cut-out dolls that I loved so much. I’d always loved playing with dolls houses and figures and making up stories. I had a Sindy doll but she only had a couple of outfits so perhaps that was it. Here was this young girl, albeit a paper one, with a different wardrobe every week. Money was tight in the 70s and I didn’t often have new clothes myself so that may also have been part of the appeal. Additionally, I was fascinated by the tabs on the clothes, which you had to fold around the doll (just squares of paper but to me they were ingenious).

Then there were the Christmas annuals. I always put the Bunty annual on my Christmas lists and over the years was lucky enough to find the 1980, 1981 and 1982 editions in my stocking.

Secondary school followed. At 11, Bunty and cut-out dolls were still very much part of my life. But I soon found out that they weren’t part of the other girls’ lives; it just wasn’t considered acceptable or cool to like either.

So my love affair with Bunty and cut-out dolls was over. I didn’t throw the comics and annuals away. I wasn’t ready to part with them just yet. Each comic and annual was placed lovingly in a pile in the bottom of my wardrobe and taken out for a sneaky read now and then. 

My weekly magazine (note the word change from the now considered babyish ‘comic’) became Jackie, then I ‘progressed’ to Smash Hits before Just Seventeen caught my eye. But none of them measured up to Bunty.

I don’t know what happened to those comics and annuals in the bottom of my wardrobe. I don’t remember ever getting rid of them. But they must have gone at some stage. Though I have found one. And, not only does it feature an extra length The Four Marys story, there is also a cut-out doll. But it’s no ordinary cut-out doll; it ‘s a special Cut-out and Colour Wardrobe cut-out doll. Heaven.

***

school-days

 

 

 

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Markets For Writers

Everyone likes a good laugh so why not enter Writing Magazine‘s ‘Humour short story Competition’? You have until 15th March 2017 to craft your story. Here’s some more information for you:

Prizes:

1st place:      £200 plus publication in the magazine

Runner-up: £50 plus publication on the website

Entry fee:     £5 but only £3 to subscribers

Word limit: 1500 – 1700 words

To enter and to read through the rules, visit the competition page

***

muscles

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Funny Of The Week/Nutty Newspaper Letters Part One

Priceless:

letter

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Monday Motivations

I hope you’ve settled down into 2017 well. If you’re looking for a fresh challenge, here’s one for you:

Write a story or poem on any of the following themes:

  • Disaster
  • Love
  • Silence

Your themes from last week were:

  • A fresh start
  • The dark place
  • Monsters

Robert Griffiths has sent in a super true-life story on the theme ‘a fresh start’:

It’s a new year but I, an old handicapped man, must still go to have my therapy. With only one leg and one arm working and both rigid and spastic, I waited in the hallway for my taxi.

This morning, as my always chatty and happy Algerian driver arrived, we walked outside together on the pavement facing the unforgiving freezing misty air, towards the taxi she had parked several hundred yards away. Opposite the taxi are steps up to a pathway leading into a green floral park. A well-fed man was walking away from the top step. I watched him for a second as he stood still, rigid and dark. He started to sway like an ailing elm tree then fell forward and his hands stayed by his side. His face smashed onto the hard stone with a thumping hollow sound. Blood spurted from the side of his head. Me and the taxi driver stopped in shock. From the side of the walkway four young Arab girls ran over to him. They were no more than a fifth of his size, each one leaning down desperately trying to pull him up.  I took a step towards them but my taxi driver shook her head at me telling me that I would be of no help. The girls with extreme effort got the swaying injured old man to his feet and started to guide him back across the road. I wondered where they were taking him. The girls walked him through the parted traffic then I realised they were leading him towards our chemist shop. As the automatic glass doors parted I followed inside. They sat him on a chair, bought disinfectant, clean bandages and cleaned his split face and applied bandages. The chemist walked towards us.

‘Call an ambulance!’ I said.

‘I have, ’ he replied.

I looked through the glass doors to see a white ambulance draw up and two fit young men stepped out and into the chemist shop. The old injured man smiled. The youngest Arab girl with her tanned complexion put her head up and her sparkling hazel eyes looked straight at me, slightly afraid I realised. She thought these men would blame her and her friends for this accident. I smiled at her and quickly told the men the reason for this man’s injuries. They worked extremely efficiently, complemented the girls on their good work, examined the old man and finally told me and the chemist that he’d had a small stroke. They took him out to the ambulance. I expressed my concerns to the chemist.

He said, ‘Don’t worry, the hospital will treat him, help him put right what’s wrong and they will give him a NEW START.’

The girls looked sad and shocked.

‘Come!’  I said, ‘into next door’s café. A coffee and hot chocolate for everybody.’ They agreed and off we went. ‘Hot chocolate for all these wonderful ladies,’ I demanded.

The Algerian taxi driver, the girls and I sat, talked and laughed. That was the best New Year celebration ever. Then the taxi driver said, ‘Come on, Granddad! Clinic! It’s time for your treatment.’

I stood up and followed her and the girls were calling behind me, ‘Pappi, Pappi!’

 I looked back and their brown faces and enormous smiles filled me with happiness. I waved, and fled, singing, ‘Happy New Year’.    

Steve Walsky has written a beautiful story on the ‘a fresh start’ theme. Please click on the following link to read it:

https://simplicitylane.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/a-fresh-start-flash-fiction/

Mitchell Toews has crafted a wonderful poem on the ‘monsters’ theme. The following link will take you to it:

https://mitchellaneous.com/2017/01/02/monsters-of-the-light-and-the-dark/

And of course, we can’t forget the next instalment of Rajiv Copra‘s Mary Jane series:

It is not often that we see the dark place that resides deep inside our souls. We keep it hidden away from sight, and away from ourselves. Whether we are saints, or whether we are villains, there is a strong part of us that does not like to look at this part of ourselves. We are ashamed of it. We fear it. What shall we awaken, our subconscious seems to ask us. It mocks us. Will we awaken the sleeping monster that lurks inside and, if we do, will we ever be able to slay it?

What was happening to Spiderman, as he lay there in the dungeon, imprisoned as he was by Batman and Poison Ivy. He had always prided himself on being someone who respected the law. He was proud that he had always fought on the side of the lawmakers, and had brought villains to justice. He had found love, only to find himself betrayed again, and again. First, with those damned, sniveling Hobbits, and then with that insane, giggling Harley Quinn. Finally, here he was, trapped in a dark dungeon, the prisoner of Batman and Poison Ivy.

How he had been fooled. He had always regarded The Bat as a paragon of virtue, and now he found that the man was the most cunning, the most ruthless and pitiless of all villains.
In the events of the recent past, his pride had been dented, and now his beliefs had been shattered. How could this have happened to him – Spiderman? He had been the ultimate escape artist, spinning a web to catch others. How could he have let himself be caught in a web of his own pride and self-delusion?

The more he brooded in the dark places of his mind, the more the shadow grew. It grew and grew, and acquired a mind and soul of its own. It had a blackness that was deep and dark, and engulfed everything around.

The monster rose from the depths of his subconscious mind, and wounded pride. Soon enough it engulfed Spiderman. Spiderman now was the monster, and the monster was Spiderman.

Outwardly, he remained the same, except for his eyes, which acquired a mad, dangerous, deranged look.

Somewhere through the fog that had engulfed him, he heard a babbling voice. It was the voice of The Joker, a sly, evil voice full of malice, anger and spite.

He smiled. His smile was no longer gentle, nor vain, nor pompous. It was pure evil, and dark. The monster had awoken from the depths of his now black soul.

It was time for a new beginning, and he felt the full insanity of power being unleashed inside him. It was time to break the shackles, and for the true Spiderman to be born.

Lynn Love was slightly too late with her response to the previous week’s challenge, but she always writes something special so please visit her site to read it:

https://lynnmlovewords.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/esther-newtons-monday-motivations-new-years-resolution/

***

eugene

 

 

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Guest Writer Spot

Happy Friday! I hope the first week of this new year has been a bright one. If not, don’t worry – it’s the weekend tomorrow!

As it’s Friday, it’s time for my Guest Writer Spot. It’s a pleasure to welcome Sharon Boothroyd to this slot for the first time. Here’s a little bit about her, in her own words:

“I’m forty- something, happily married and I live in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

“For the past six years, I’ve had a variety of letters, opinion pieces and poetry published in a wide range of UK national magazines. I’ve also worked as a pro web copywriter, however I’m most proud of my 14 short stories that have appeared (or are due to appear) in My Weekly, Your Cat, Take a Break’s Fiction Feast, The Weekly News and Prima.

“My website is: www.sbee.orgfree.com

Enjoy her delightful piece about how she learned to type:

QWERTY – how I mastered typing!

By

Sharon Boothroyd

 

I learnt to type on a heavy black manual typewriter at school in the late 1970s. Although I was keen to learn, I took a strong dislike to the messing about with ribbons, carbon paper etc.

Then there was working out the margins – as I wasn’t good at maths,  I usually ended up with all my calculations wrong! Typing really hurt my fingers too, as I was forced to slam down hard on the keys to make any sort of impact on the paper.

Are there any readers of a certain generation who recall typing: ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs?’

How I hated typing it out!  I couldn’t see the point of these typing exercises. It was just bland, boring text that held no meaning whatsoever.

And if you made any mistakes (as I frequently did) there was nothing else for it but to carefully ease the paper out of the roller and type the whole blasted document out again!

And type it very slowly too, making sure it was error- free. I always came away from the lessons with smeared ink over my hands.

Shorthand and typing were regarded as good, solid skills for girls, and if these were acquired, you had no worry about being out of a job. 

It wasn’t the sort of occupation deemed ideal for boys or men. In my Yorkshire town, boys were encouraged to ‘learn a trade’ and go into some sort of blue collar work.

I don’t know why, because there were plenty of male journalists around, working on local and national newspapers, who typed all day long! And lots of male novelists and playwrights as well. 

Over the years, I’ve tried my best to touch- type, yet sadly, I never quite managed it, so my dreams of becoming an important secretary remained just that- a dream. 

Deep down, I only wanted to learn to type because I wanted to write. You can’t really send hand- written fiction out, can you?

When I was in my mid- twenties, I lived in a city based student house- share.

I needed a typewriter for my media studies course, plus I wrote a lot of letters to my friends and family back home in West Yorkshire.

This was the early 1990s – long before computers came into general usage. At this time, they were mainly operated in offices.

Back to my typewriter.

Browsing in the city, I spotted a lovely electronic model on display in a specialist typewriter shop window – however, it was quite expensive and I was a poor student (The typewriter was much more expensive than a 2016 tablet or computer).

I opened the shop door, approached  the counter and cautiously asked if I could pay for it in weekly instalments. The chap said yes.

It took me months, yet finally the day arrived when I could take my brand new shiny typewriter home.

It was very heavy and wide, and wrapped in thick cardboard outer wrapping.  However, I managed to  grasp the carrying handle that stuck out over the packaging.

I remember that I really struggled carrying it on the bus and passengers stared at it – they couldn’t work out what it was!

Once home, I set it out on the kitchen table, I plugged it in and switched it on.

It made a fierce buzzing noise and the the clattering of the keys were still quite noisy, but oh it was heaven not being forced to slam my fingers down hard on the keyboard!

Unfortunately for me, my house- share mates took my typewriter over and used it for their own projects.

They wasted my precious printing ribbon (This was a cassette type of affair that slotted into the upper part of the machine), all my A4 paper and my bottles of tippex too.

As time progressed, computer technology and the updated word processing programs made typing much more easier. Eventually, I found I had no use for my big bulky electronic typewriter.

After I completed my course and moved on from the house- share, I sold the machine for a much lower price than I’d originally paid. I was very lucky to sell it, actually.

And I’ve never cracked that admired typist’s skill – accuracy and speed. As for 40 words a minute – forget it!

My typing mode isn’t exactly ‘hunt and peck’ but I do need a big chunky keyboard, because, as I learnt to type on a manual typewriter, I have difficulty using the smooth flat keyboards found on most laptops.

However, modern printers are an absolute godsend. No more blobby, flaky bits of tippex! And the automatic word count facility is superb – there’s no counting the words on each line and trying to calculate how many words on the page.

In the early nougties, I went through a phase of using floppy discs to store my work on, but as I didn’t have a home PC, I visited the local library and used the computers there.

The process of opening and closing the document files on the disc, via two computers (carried out by a librarian) entailed a lot of faffing about and it was very time consuming too.

Much to my frustration and disappointment, the next day, when I opened the disc, I quickly discovered that something was amiss.

The librarian from the previous day hadn’t saved my work properly.

As a budding writer, I was furious. I felt the library staff didn’t understand what this meant to me.

They simply shrugged it off, as if it was nothing.

So I was very glad when later, I married a computer geek and my discs were swapped for USB sticks.

It’s easy to panic when things go wrong on the PC, but my kind hubby is very good at sorting out any software problems.

As my husband designs websites, he often asks me to contribute promotional text for the client’s web pages.

This was how I began my freelance writing career. I progressed from this onto magazine letters, then I gave poems and short stories a go. I was thrilled and delighted when my work began to sell to major UK magazines.

I learnt how to present my work professionally too.

Like most writers, I now use a computer at home for typing, saving and printing work, yet the sheer joy of buying and owning my very own typewriter will always remain in my memory.

***

big-things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

I came across this photo of my grandad and I recently. It made me smile; I’d been so lucky to have such a great relationship with my grandad and saw him all the time when I was growing up. But the photo also made me a little sad and it brought back memories of when it was time to say goodbye:

Time to go

I looked at the frail form lying so still on the hospital bed. Tears threatened to fall. I blinked them back but they wouldn’t have it. I let them come. This was it – time to say my last goodbye to my dear, dear Grandad.

I held his hand, savouring the life still there. I like to think he knew I was by his bedside, even though his eyes were clasped shut as if they’d never open again and there was a hollowness to his cheeks where life was seeping out. I hope he knew that I wouldn’t let him go without saying goodbye.

I told him that I loved him and that I always would. At the age of 93 he’d told me to make sure I never grew up. ‘Life is too short,’ he always said, ‘you have to enjoy it, savour every moment of it, have fun and always remember to laugh.’

I’d rung him every day for years. One of us always said something to make the other laugh. How I’d miss that daily phone call.

Though I’d have plenty of warm memories – of Grandad letting me eat the skin from the top of the custard even though it was his favourite, of being allowed to spend hours in his tool shed banging and bashing about and watching him make up the fire on a cold winter’s day.

We became even closer when my adult years came. He was so proud of me when I took a job at a local bank and that proudness was reflected in his eyes on my wedding day.

As I looked down at that hospital bed, I promised Grandad that I’d never forget him and that I’d never grow up. I promised him that I’d enjoy life, savour every moment of it, have fun and always remember to laugh. I let go of his hand and my heart felt as if it would break. I pushed the chair back and stood up, my entire being fighting against the urge to stay, to not let him go. My legs found movement and I walked towards the door.

I turned back, my heart in my mouth and my breathing raw and ragged. ‘Goodbye, Grandad, goodbye,’ I whispered.

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to carry out those promises. I didn’t feel as if life would ever be the same again.

But time heals. The world moves on. Eight years later and my promise has been firmly kept. My fifteen-year-old daughter rolls her eyes at me but I keep urging her to follow Grandad’s advice. Somewhere, I’m sure he’s doing the very same.

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