Thursday, 30 June 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "A Dirty Job"

Late pulling this one together and struggling with the word-count, but at 333 it still fits my criteria!

No pre-amble this week - just get stuck in!


Strachan cradled the cardboard warmth of his takeaway latte. The cold city landscape, complete with detritus from the previous night, was not a sight that thrilled his heart.

Despite the day starting like any other, much would have changed by this time tomorrow. Joe Public, shuffling though his day of labour for meagre reward, would not see the relevance of the subtleties that Strachan and countless other officers monitored silently and unseen.

Across the rooftops, others watched and waited; black-hooded men in dark, unobtrusive clothing; shambling tramps who appeared to talk to themselves; bag-ladies pushing trolleys, seemingly cursing the world.

He looked through the telescopic sight and marked the gates to Downing Street. Raising the stock of the rifle he dipped the scope to view the street below, surveying the tripled police guard, dallying a moment to draw a bead on the anti-stab vests they wore and silently pursing his lips to mime bullets flying from the barrel and searing through their body armour. A dark humoured laugh rattled and then died in his throat as he saw the car waived through.

The exchange of affirmations and compliance hissing in his ear was a distraction as he leaned closer, his eyelashes almost catching on the lens as he adjusted the focus. He watched as the car door opened and two figures emerged, his finger resting on the trigger, softly tightening in readiness.

A slight realignment drew the crosshairs into position and as his colleagues played their part, collecting intelligence and passing unseen through the reality that was being played out daily before an unsuspecting world, he pulled out the earpiece and disengaged from the operation.

Life, he reasoned, was a monochrome study with varying shades of grey between the extreme polarities of black and white; much like politics. MI5, at sixes and sevens with itself, blurred the edges even more.

As he found himself straddling those boundaries to obey his spectral masters in their Whitehall labyrinths, Strachan blinked once then squeezed the trigger.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "What's the Catch?"

I have absolutely no idea what inspired this week's story other than an image, similar to the picture above, which flashed through my mind the other day. The story sort of wrote itself and with just a few minor alterations, it's on the 300-word limit I give myself. "3", of course, features somewhere in the story.......

Feel free to comment - or join in, why don't you?


It all comes down to trust. That few seconds of flying through the air, trusting he’ll catch me; that I’ll be in exactly the right point of the swing’s arc, that my hands will snap-lock around his wrists.

I’ve done this hundreds of times; felt the slap of his fingers copying mine and grasping me at the wrists; his big fingers gripping like a pair of flesh handcuffs.

But this is different.

I recall how he looked at me when I arrived late for warm-up; the giveaway of flushed cheeks as his brother, Bruno, arrived late too.

Swing one, two, drop backwards, my weight on the backs of my knees, arms trailing in the air. Swing one, two, three; release. As I leave the small comfort of the swing I see him reaching out but his eyes are cold.

He knows.

The air rushes between my fingers, like raking my hands through icy water. I hold my breath. Seconds become small eternities, long enough to focus beyond his stare to the third in our triplet; waiting, watching, silently counting, ready to jump forward to take my place from the release.

Then warm hands circle my wrists and snap me back into the present. Gravity’s swing pulls at my shoulder sockets as the vice-grip of the catcher holds my weight. Now, the release.

Instead, he holds tight. My hands are trapped as Bruno launches forwards and I see him grapple with the air, fighting for the hand-holds that would see us exchange places, before I watch him tumbling into deadly blackness.

I hang like a ragdoll in my husband’s grip, remembering his words that first time I agreed to trust him on the trapeze. Tears course down my face as his voice echoes in my mind.

“I’ll never let you go.”

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

F3 - Cycle 36 - THE BREAKOUT

This week, the F3 challenge is to write a 'buddy' story with those two sons of fun, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, as the lead characters.

I got to thinking about how those two teamed up in the first place....and (in the words of that comedic raconteur, Bob Newhart) perhaps it might have been.....'something like this....'


We were in this thing together, but my partner in crime was not coping well with the situation

“We, uh, we gotta get out of here. There must be a way..”

I watched as Jerry tried forcing his way out between the bars. First he slipped his ankle through then concentrated on squeezing up to his thigh but no matter how he wiggled he could only get as far as his butt.

I’d watched this performance for some time, backed up at my end of our cell, now and then taking a swig to satisfy my needs, letting the odd burp escape. Before I’d witnessed this ‘squeeze-and-squash’ attempt, there’d been the ‘throw-your-full-weight’ exercise and my personal favourite, the ‘my-head-must-fit-through-the-bars’ idea. I confess, that was the funniest, seeing Jerry’s frustration as his head had successfully made a bid for freedom only for the rest of his body to not comply.

Watching his facial contortions reflected in the mirror across the hall was entertaining enough, mainly assisted by the soporific properties afforded by the drink in my hand. When he’d finally managed to extricate himself, his head popping like a cork out of a bottle, he’d lain in a heap in the opposite corner with his almost rubber-like features going through their full repertoire as he recovered from his exertions.

I rolled over to him, to give my suggestions on his so-far unsuccessful attempts to escape our joint incarceration.

“You know, buddy, you’re going about this all the wrong way,” I said. A few slaps around the face were required to help him concentrate, then I continued.

“See, you need to get their attention.” Of course, I was referring to the people who run this joint; amongst us inmates we call them the 'nursemaids’.

“What? You mean like this…..” Jerry threw himself down on the ground and started pummelling the floor with his fists and drumming his feet up and down; a class ‘A’ temper tantrum.

I wiped my face in exasperation.

“No, I mean, you gotta use psychology, make them think they’re in charge. You use language they can understand, smile a bit, you know….like this.” I did my best angelic look and blinked a little.

“Oh, you mean … this….?” He fixed me with his google eyes and rattled his lips with one of his fingers making infantile noises.

I heaved a sigh of weariness and slapped him on the back, then pulling myself up to my full height I grabbed hold of the bars.

“Watch and learn, buddy boy; watch and learn.”

I took a last swig for courage and called out. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but after shushing Jerry away I tried again, this time crooning a bit of song to add to my salutations.

This prompted a reaction. Footsteps were quickly heard approaching and after a little more conversation I was released from the cell.

“There, there, shhhhhhh – good boy, Dino, who’s a sweetie then – oh, you finished your bottle, diddums? Let’s go get you another one.”

Her words were music to my ears and from my lofty vantage point, nestling my head on Nurse Sandra’s more than ample bosom, I looked down at the scowling visage of the still-confined Jerry in the nursery playpen and winked.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Light Relief and Laughs!

Working on this week's F3 story ( a 'Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' inspired tale) I was thinking about Jerry Lewis' voice and you know how your mind runs off at a tangent.......well, I got to thinking about Stan Freberg and some of his comedy sketches.

Here's a couple of my favourites, with a 'Jerry Lewis' sound-alike called Daws Butler. Those of you old enough to remember LAPD's 'Joe Friday' and the radio police procedural series 'Dragnet' (I was rockin' in my crib at the time!) will have more than a little fun with this! And yes, there are some of the original 'Joe Friday' catchphrases woven in!

So, thanks to Youtube - here's 'St. George and the Dragonet' and 'Little Blue Riding Hood'.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Blooming Marvellous!

Well, I think the garden is beginning to 'get there'!

As I posted some pics from earlier in the year, when the 'hard landscaping' was under way - here's a few pics from around the 'grounds' (:-p) now that some of the planting is coming on:

....I'm sure I can shoe-horn a few more plants in...!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "Ruby Slipper Stand-off"

There are more than a few nods towards one of my favourite films in this little piece for this week's 'Thursday@3' - and it's not the first time it's captured my imagination either, with reference to a previous story

Anyway, at 300 words it's bang on the money.......


When that bull-horn sounded and Zeke broke cover I knew things weren’t right. I don’t recall changing sides as being part of the plan and I have more than a sneaking suspicion we’re not in Kansas any more.

Perhaps the notion of streets paved with gold is as phoney as that yellow brick road, but the words ‘big city’ and ‘bright lights’ drew me here. That, and Zeke telling me there were rich pickings for anyone willing to take a risk at ‘Green, Gale & West Investments’.

But, when he pulled the gun on me I didn’t stop to argue; I just logged on with my password and called up the stock portfolio. I never knew he could type so fast one-handed, but then I was more preoccupied with working out if he knew how to use the weapon he was still pointing in the general direction of the rest of the staff and at me in particular.

Someone must have tripped the silent alarm because all too soon the steadily growing discordant tones of sirens and screeching brakes announced the arrival of several squad cars. Then the loud, electronic echo urged us to give up and come out with our hands held high.

Zeke didn’t even flinch. Cool. I’ll give him that.

“Pay no attention to the men beyond the blinds,” he muttered, his eyes never leaving the screen as he manipulated funds into his own off-shore petty-cash tin.

He’s heartless. This whirlwind romance was a mistake, anyone with half a brain could see that and if I had the courage I’d knock that gun out of his hand

So here I am, sitting under a desk metaphorically clicking my heels with New York’s finest lined up outside, wondering just what will happen when the balloon goes up?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "Queen of Mean!"

One of my trusty commenters flung down a gauntlet (or was it a skate?) of a challenge recently, suggesting I concoct a story incorporating the following words:

ice dancing, triple Salchows, and triple toe loops,

So, rising to the bait, I give you 3 paragraphs, each of 33 words - here y'go!


You don’t feel the pain, even when you land on your ass. At least it’s not a cold ice rink. With roller-derby, when flesh hits the deck it’s more of a friction burn.

You just have to get up and get on. There’s no points for artistic impression or technical dexterity, even if some of the pile-ups are more spectacular than triple Salchows or toe loops.

When Kevin shouts at us from the dug-out, “This ain’t ice dancing, ladies!” he reminds us why we’re here. It ain’t no Sunday school picnic, either - worlds away from my library ‘day-job’!

( and for those of you who are interested, this is based on a TRUE story!)

...and if you want to leave a comment, that would be good!

(Or maybe even join in and submit your own 'Thursday@3' story?)

Sunday, 5 June 2011


To celebrate the 'lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer', Doc came up with a weird and wonderful collection of words for this week's wacky F3 challenge:

banana, iguana, elbow, flaming, and pogostick.

He invited us to leap from the restraints and shackles of conformity and release our inner absurdity, together with a side-order of the bizarre! Well, this is what you get from me.....

.....please, enjoy! ;-)


Watching the TV reports from Monygall I’d given a wry smile as Barack sipped it down, good and straight. The master of diplomacy, he’d hidden his inner feelings but Michelle had other ideas and her face gave the game away.

To be sure, I’d give them points for at least trying. A few days earlier, Liz had just smiled enigmatically and declined a pint of the ‘black stuff’ when it was shoved under her nose. She wasn’t going to give the media any chance of witnessing HM with a white moustache, no sir.

So, at the end of her tour of the Guinness factory, when one of her entourage quietly asked for a ‘carryout’ I was happy to oblige; seems the lady has taste, after all. It got me to thinking, though. Shame she can’t let her hair down in public, poor lass. I bet a few pints and she’d blend in very well with the festive atmosphere and the 'craic'.

I wasn't altogether surprised then, a few weeks later, to witness something a little unusual during the big procession at the start of the Street Performance World Championships, here in Dublin. Amid the artistes giving of their best, who was that old gent giving a ‘fillip’ to the old fire-eating trick by consuming a flaming banana? Surely not - I thought carriage-driving was more his style?

Still, if he was here, then it stood to reason she'd be here too. It gave me an idea and I ducked into Fitzgerald's before I headed over the Liffey. The crowds were jostling my elbow, but I’ve handled enough pints in my time to be able to make sure I don’t spill a drop of ‘black gold’, so I eased my way through with two glasses and singled out the diminutive colleen getting into the swing of things and shimmying those hips like an iguana.

I stepped over and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Here, get that down you, lass!”

Her silver hair, immaculately coiffed, shone like a halo in the sunshine; it suited her far better than any diamond tiara she might have had dredged up from her collection in the Tower.

She spun round and there was something mischievous in those sparkling eyes of hers as she graciously accepted the glass I offered her and swiftly downed half a pint in one go.

Then, nodding towards one of the attractions, she wiped a gloved hand across her mouth to mop up the residue as she handed the half empty glass back to me with a comment I shall take to my grave.

“Excellent! Would you mind holding this, one’s awf to have a go at that!”

The last I saw of HM Queen Elizabeth that day was watching her sporadically bounce up and down through the crowds, hopping down O’Connell Street on a pogo stick.

They say it has restorative powers and until now I’d have said that was just a marketing tool, but perhaps there is something magical about Ireland’s most famous export after all!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "The Water Carrier"

Watching rainwater collect in an old bucket inspired this little ditty - exactly 300 words to conjure up an image....


You could hear him every day soon after dawn making his way along the dusty track. The gentle lapping noise of the water carried in the pails, strung out from the yoke that rested on his bony shoulders, became a natural rhythm section that played counterpoint to the slap-slap of his sandalled feet.

Lo-djing would make this journey several times a day, but this first outing would inevitably be accompanied by the high-pitched resonance of his voice as he sang his morning litany. The unintelligible words would be lost on me; although I had lived in this remote part of China for over three months it was a dialect that I’d never heard anywhere else.

I reflected on my time here in this small village, somehow lost in the medieval ages, virtually bypassed by technology and escaping most of the directives of the ruling communist state. These were simple people, living largely as their ancestors had done. Generation succeeding generation; skills and genealogies passed from father to son, mother to daughter.

In the newer towns there was the odd infiltration from the outside world; the ubiquitous TV aerial, multi-strung telephone wires. Here, in the hillsides, the ageless wonder of terraced rice-paddies continued to be worked and tended in the time-honoured fashion.

As Lo-djing approached, the fanfare of his salutation carrying on the breeze, I raised my camera and thought again about the anachronism about to be captured on film. Even in the twenty-first century, though his entire world encompassed the distance between the spring and the small areas of cultivation he serviced, the ancient water carrier still had his place; his dignity and status.

Through the lens I caught the smile of peaceful content on his face and wondered, not for the first time, who was the richer among us?