Sports Day

Anna was now with Paul, and as a part of any couple, she had to assume various “duties”. And Paul had a son. More duties. She didn’t particularly relish them, but… she and Paul were now a team.

Which led to…Sports Day! Anna was vaguely “sporty” herself. She regularly went to the gym and had just become involved in the squash league at work, so she did not mind one bit watching the little – and not so little – children having fun.

The big test of the day was meeting Paul’s ex-wife for the first time, but in this relaxed setting, the meeting passed without incident.

Jake took part in his race, but he was not finished yet.

– Come on, dad, you’ll be good.

– What do you think?

laughed Paul, as he saw Anna approaching.

– Go for it, you could do with getting more active!

she joked. And before Paul knew what was happening, he had been entered into the Parents’ Sack Race, the finale event at the end of the day.

At the appointed time, Paul was limbering up. At the start line, on your marks, get set, GO! Paul started bunny-hopping in his sack. He hopped faster and faster but could still see he was in fourth or fifth place. Faster, faster…

The last thing Paul saw of the race was the other eight parents hopping past him, as he tripped and tasted the dirt.

It was just as well Anna was too busy laughing to reflect on the wonderful specimen she had chosen!

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), perfunctory.

I’ve written a background to these characters, in the posts below.

Down the Drain (Fandango’s Friday Flashback)

Yay, it is Friday again, and Fandango has just published his Friday Flashback post. The idea is that he picks a post from this day in a previous year, to give newer readers a better insight into what does and doesn’t make him tick.

I have always liked that idea, so shall also post my own reminiscence. As much as anything, it reminds me of where I was, where I am now, and how far I have come. Hopefully, you will find it entertaining along the way.

See, this is exactly why I atarted this blog. Here is an absolute rant from a year ago – some storm in a teacup. this is probably the last time, to date, that anything like this has happened.

Well, I’m sure other stuff has happened, but it is just that I am better able to manage it, without going off on one.

Thank you, Jennifer at PaperKutzs, for allowing me to use your graphic.

Down the Drain

I thought my disaster days were over.

Today I started to cook lunch with the best of intentions. While something was heating in the oven, I had a clear-up in the kitchen. I took some dirty dishes to the sink, but the sink was already full. With the old dishwasher, I got into the habit of soaking everything before washing it.

Continue reading post.


I went out for my first post-lockdown coffee yesterday. We went to the coffee shop, a friend and I, in a nearby village. I had not seen the friend since pre-lockdown.

Outdoors. Apart from having 10 or 15 people within 10 or 15 yards of me (nobody too close, not even my buddy), I figured that the risk was no greater than having friends come sit in the garden. It was even better for me, because I didn’t have to go into the shop to order – my friend did so. Although I suppose if he picked something up in there, he’d likely have breathed it in my general direction afterwards. We didn’t wear masks – we are only mandated to wear them here when we go into a shop.

So we followed the UK’s rules. I’m not too sure, how closely the UK’s rules match the science, so I wanted to be happy for myself. Before I agreed to meet him, I satisfied myself about the state of the virus locally. In the last available figures, week ending mid-July-ish, there were 11 deaths in our region. The week before that, there were 7. The week before that, 17. All in the same ballpark. Our region is the south west of the UK – probably 10-20,000 square miles? a big number. If you imagine dividing the UK into about 8, that’s us. And me and my space is, what, a square yard?

My friend… Well, my friend is an old cycling buddy. Up until corona, he was a director for a well-known, UK charity. In charge of all new development, nationally. At the very start of this, he figured that for the next few years, new development would be a thing of the past, so figured he was living on borrowed time. He’s roughly retirement age anyhow.

But they kept him on through lockdown, even though he was at home, and they only made him redundant last week.

We had a weird conversation, about my own mobility. As we both love cycling, he suggested an electric bike, or trike. I said that they were good ideas (I’ve thought about this a lot) but that the holy grail would be a new car, an automatic (uncommon in the UK). And with anything, I would not be prepared to spend any cash until I was bringing money in.

– will the state not buy you a car?

– You’re joking, aren’t you?

I told him that instead of receiving the thousands (GBP, USD, EUR, any currency you care to choose) to pay for a car, immediately after the stroke I was awarded GBP 10 per week because I could hardly walk. When the state assessed me a couple years ago, they decided I must be walking better by now, so reduced that portion to zero. I still get additional benefit because I can’t use my hand, but we’re in the same ballpark.

My friend knows somebody, apparently, up in Yorkshire, a long way from here, who has terminal cancer, and needs to travel around 20 miles (presumably a few times a week) for treatment. They are probably pretty rural, they probably have no public transport – outside of London, it is not good in the UK. Anyway, he says that the state awarded them a car.

I mean, if this is true, there are probably discrepancies between this other case and mine. I never really got any treatment once I left hospital, so there is no ongoing relationship between me and the health service.

But I thought it was interesting that even my friend, who as a charity bigwig will have seen hardship cases, believes that when something happens, the state will come to the rescue.

Anyway, I took a few photos yesterday, it was a lovely day.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge (30 July 2020)

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.

Robert Oppenheimer

seems an appropriate quotation for the present day.

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), dogma.

Windows on Their World

I had the idea of developing a couple of skeletal characters, then using those characters as “props”, when I answered prompts.

I didn’t have these characters doing anything much, I just wanted to get them out there. I’m still planning on writing standalone posts for them, any time I want to add a twist to their story, but will mainly use them to show snippets of their life in prompt responses, say.

I knew I needed some kind of “blueprint”. How old were they? Where had they come from? What do they do? And so on. I needed consistency – I can’t have a white woman suddenly becoming a black woman.

You established writers will doubtless tell me it is obvious, but bear with me, I’ve never tried this before.

But blueprints are barebones – I couldn’t just put that live. Instead I had to weave it into a minimal story which revealed (partially) the characters. All told, there were a dozen posts, numbered and in a carousel control below.

So far, I’ve put them into their own category on my blog, and tagged them “AnPa”. I can now put this carousel on any subsequent posts, so anybody who comes across the characters for the first time can get some context.

Those first posts are just meant to take me to where I can start using these characters. I don’t really know (much of) the scrapes they will get into. I’ve just written a couple of twists into the tale, to go live at some future date, but there is no grand plan.

A lot of my writing so far is pretty vague – you have to fill in lots of gaps. For these posts, that was entirely deliberate, because I wanted to cover a lot of ground quickly. I don’t know whether I’ll continue, I can maybe meander a bit more now, although I like the idea of making readers piece things together.

I thought I’d share my first impressions of writing fiction. Again, this is me. Noob. Baby steps.

If I write a fact-based post, I can say I believe X (and bore everyone to tears in the process), but by using creative writing (or poetry), I can make the same point, hopefully in a more engaging way. Or, I can maybe create a character who is the absolute antithesis, and write so that we all loathe them. And make the same point, but in reverse. (As it happens, I like the two characters I just created, there is a lot of “me” in them). I like that flexibility, it adds another dimension.

Developing the blueprint has involved a fair amount of thinking (honest!), as opposed to writing. It’s surprising that a lot of writing is not, well, writing! If you’re thinking about it, give it a go. The first steps are nothing to do with a keyboard, but can be done lying in bed! (If you’re like me, though, you then have to write these ideas down, before you forget them!)

I suppose if you’re writing a book, you need to get this blueprint sorted, before you even write a word. Consistency is less important when we write flash fiction, say, but I guess the blueprint is the difference between what most of us write, and War and Peace.

Coming up with a high-level backstory was really easy, at least this time. From an idea to words on the page took time, and checking grammar longer still. Not difficult, just took time. And I can appreciate that proper writers have to read and re-read their manuscripts many times, and must be sick of them by the time anything is published.

A biggie is that I only really wrote a back-story, where a real writer must also have some compelling front-story too! My front-story will hopefully come out in the future (might even be compelling!)

More to do with synchronisation, one banana skin was that I wrote the first part of the story in one batch, before I published anything. Then I released a bit at a time. At the same time as I was releasing it, I was thinking about the next part. So, I had to separate the bit that I just posted and the bit that was still in my head. I’ve had to be quite careful how much I say when replying to comments. This isn’t a biggie, it just meant that I needed to be careful what I said.

And I already found that the process can be embarrasing. Because so much thinking has been involved, I might find myself sitting on the sofa, bursting into laughter for no apparent reason. My wife thinks I’m a weirdo, but what’s new?

Just on the “antithesis” theme, did you ever hear of the British comedian Harry Enfield? He was huge here in the late 1980s and the 1990s.

He is a guy with quite sound political views (IMO), and in the early days, created characters who were the absolute opposite. These characters certainly raised Enfield’s profile, but in his case, they backfired, because the great British public did not realise that they were parodies.

I’ll finish today with a couple of bits of comedy. I hope you enjoy reading my future posts about Anna and Paul, I can’t wait to find out what happens to them!

because so many British people worshipped nothing but money

because so many British people thought this is how a foreigner looks/behaves.

Thank goodness we live in more enlightened times!