26/03/2020

PARISH MAGAZINES

A second offering this week, but rather than a story, this is a personal memory. I'm probably not the only one taking refuge in nostalgia at the moment.
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My father was a Church of England priest, firstly in Tranmere, Birkenhead, then in Rugby, Warwickshire and, during my teenage years, in Hove, before he moved to his final parish in Horsted Keynes, Sussex.
The clack of Pa's typewriter from his study was a constant sound during my childhood, especially towards the end of the month when he composed the Parish Magazine.  
In the corner of Pa's study, precariously balanced on a small table, sat the Gestetner - a huge lump of machinery built round a drum with which Pa printed everything needed in the parish. 
To produce each page of the magazine he would wind into his typewriter a stencil comprised of, I think, three foolscap sheets (that's slightly bigger than A4 in modern parlance) onto which he typed at considerable speed, having learned that skill in the seminary. Each strike of the key produced a corresponding letter-shaped hole, and if he made a mistake the hole had to be mended and allowed to dry before he could retype over it.
The whole thing was then threaded onto the Gestetner roller, the reservoir charged with ink and the tray with paper, then a handle turned to print off copies. If I was lucky he'd let me do it - the whirr-kerplunk sound of each revolution is fixed in my memory.
It all makes the little Cannon printer that sits on my sideboard seem not only effortless but vaguely boring!

PS - apologies for going WAY over the word limit too!

GARDENING LEAVE - a 100 word story


GARDENING LEAVE

Lynne was digging absently, her mind on her latest plot, when Ron’s voice broke into her train of thought. “What’s for dinner?”
Lynne sighed. “I’ve already told you twice – stew and cabbage.”
“No potatoes?”
“There weren’t any – shelves stripped bare.”
However early Lynne went shopping, the locusts beat her to it. Putting food on the table was hard enough without Ron’s constant whining. She stabbed her fork viciously into the compost heap and continued plotting.

A few months later Lynne’s novel was finished, the garden was awash with green, and Ron had potatoes coming out of his ears.

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For some reason I couldn't copy the photo on Rochelle's blog, so I've used a copy of the lovely painting she did from the same photo - I hope that's okay? To read what other writers made of the image, go to    https://rochellewisoff.com/  and click on the frog.

My story is not - repeat NOT - based on fact, just on daydreams! I hope you are all well, and if the virus hits you, get well soon. We are self-isolating as much as is possible - we do need to eat. Thank goodness the Off-licence is considered essential by Boris and his government! Cheers!

19/03/2020

BILL'S FOLLY - a 100 word story for today


BILL’S FOLLY

It took Bill a month to build the tower, block by block.
Bill’s Folly, the town called it, but he ignored the jibes. He packed his battered car with tins and packets, bought a primus stove and bottled water.
The day he hired a crane the whole town turned out to watch his car creak skywards, trailing a rope ladder.

His pockets bulging with last-minute purchases, Bill climbed the ladder and pulled it up behind him.
“You want pensioners to self-isolate? Fine – but you’ll get a bucket-load of my shit every day to remind you I’m still here.”

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From this story you'll probably guess that I'm over 70 and not happy to be termed 'elderly'! After a last trip to the garden centre today to buy vegetable seeds, my husband and I will be self-isolating - I just hope the weather is good for gardening! Keep well, all of you who so kindly read and comment on my weekly story, and thanks to Rochelle who keeps us going. 

11/03/2020

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH


“Hidden in the forest,” was all the witch would say, before her thin lips clamped shut so tightly that her nose met her chin. But Matilda was determined to retain her beauty, and searched obsessively until, one dark winter day, the skeletal trees revealed their secret.

She drank deeply each full moon, and as the years passed she remained unchanged. Her children grew and had children of their own, but Matilda outlived them all.

Finally, alone, and shunned by superstitious villagers, she made one last trip to the fountain.  They never found her body.
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C E Ayr's photo gave me an idea for a story immediately, but I had to go shopping first. Luckily the story stayed in my mind till I got home and put the dinner in the oven. Now I must hurry to post this before it burns!
If you'd like to read other stories, go to Rochelle's blog and follow the froggy link. https://rochellewisoff.com/
And if you're stock-piling for a possible spell in self-isolation, don't forget to buy books! I have four books on Amason now - the latest, LANDSLIDE, you can get simply by clicking on the image at the top right of my blog. The first two in my  LIVING ROCK series are A VOLCANIC RACE & WOLF PACK, or there's my historical novel HELTER-SKELTER.

05/03/2020

BLACK MARKET


BLACK MARKET

“How much? It’s only a cabbage!”
“Suit yourself - it’s no skin off my nose.”
“I’ll take it, but it’s daylight robbery.”
“It was moonlight, actually. How are you off for spuds?”
“I could use a few kilos.”
“I’m rationing them – I can only let you have two.”
Danielle scuttled indoors before the neighbours saw her buying black market vegetables, but if her husband didn’t get his meat and two veg her life wouldn’t be worth living. She turned on the television, hoping to hear better news about the virus.
Self-isolation with a bad-tempered man was worse than a prison sentence.
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Roger Bultot's photo of empty shelves is chillingly apposite in view of the reported stock-piling some people are doing right now. Even I bought a carton of long-life milk 'just in case'. And we're being careful to wash our hands more often, but we're not panicking - more people died this week from a dozen other causes than of Covid-19.
MORE EXCITING in my life this week is that the third book in my LIVING ROCK series is now published. You can buy LANDSLIDE on Amazon in print or ebook by clicking on the cover image on the right. If you haven't read the first two books yet, A VOLCANIC RACE and WOLF PACK are still there waiting for you!

26/02/2020

THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT


THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT

Lucy was just nineteen and ripe for plucking when the actor stayed at her aunt’s boarding house. After a week of stories about his glamorous world, she packed her bags and followed him.
But scrubbing greasepaint from his collars wasn’t glamorous, and the thrill of being backstage soon wore thin. She wasn’t even good enough at sewing to help the wardrobe mistress.
When she caught him kissing his leading lady, she got a bus home and married the boy she’d left behind.
He was a much better father to her child than the actor would ever have been.
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In the midst of preparing for publication Landslide, the third book in my Living Rock series, I've taken a break to write this week's 100 words.
My first husband had just dipped his toe into the world of amateur dramatics when we met, and twenty years later the 'roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd' tempted him to turn professional. I still remember scrubbing the collar of his one white shirt and drying it on a radiator overnight for the next performance!
Thanks to Dale Rogerson for her evocative photo, and to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers on her blog, https://rochellewisoff.com/

20/02/2020

SPARROW REMEMBERS



SPARROW REMEMBERS

Stolen from her bed in the cold white darkness of a Canadian winter, Sparrow’s last sight of home was the sun rising beyond the grain silo beside her house.
Instead of attending school, she chopped wood, broke ice for water in winter, suffered mosquito swarms in summer, and endured nights under a stinking blanket with her captor.
She was thirteen when another little girl appeared – then she remembered that image.
With the child on her back she trudged east, scavenging for food, hiding from strangers, focussed only on one thing – the vision of sunrise over her parents’ farm.
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Dawn Miller's photograph may well have been taken in Canada - it reminds me of the country around my son's home in Ontario, where he lives with his Canadian wife and two small daughters. So my mind instantly put together Canada, little girls, and the photo's focus to create my story.
You can read what other writers made of the image by following links from Rochelle's blog.  https://rochellewisoff.com/