Monday, 31 October 2011

All Singing - and sometimes all dancing, too!

Those of you who have dropped by my blog before may know that I'm a keen fan of 'live' performance, especially West End musicals!

On Saturday evening, OH, daughter and I spent 'A Night With The Phantom' at Birmingham Symphony Hall listening to the wonderful Ramin Karimloo in an almost one-man show of musical theatre.

(It was Miss H's first big night out for many weeks after her recent 'incapacitation' so she was well chuffed!)

We've seen this amazing artiste in several London shows, including Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera and it's sequel, Love Never Dies, in which he created the role of the Phantom.

After this very short tour (just four performances!) Ramin's back at work, rehearsing for Les Mis when he will return to the cast in the lead role of Jean Valjean, in November. (so guess who's already raiding the piggy bank for tickets......!)

Other goodies on the theatrical horizon include this:

Can't wait!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Thursday @ 3 - 'HELL IN PARADISE'

I was searching for inspiration this morning as the 3.00pm deadline loomed and this week's 'Thursday@3' was still unwritten, not even formed in my mind.

Thank you to Glen, who suggested (tongue in cheek?) something along the lines of - 'there is this big family, loads of kids who can all sing. Then this Nanny comes along who can also sing...'

Also, David Barber, who suggested a current news item!

And Cormac Brown, who proffered the notion of how a strange or exotic item turned up in a room

These ideas are fermenting away in a corner and may appear in future weeks so thanks, you guys!

In the meanwhile a hitherto unimagined thought took root and with a little tender nurture blossomed into this week's story......for your perusal! Comments gratefully received, if you feel so inclined!


They say such trauma must still echo around the place. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, though we don’t go looking for it, it still sits quietly waiting in the wings, curtained from everyday life to exist only within dreams. Indeed there are nights when I awake and wonder if the three gunshots I heard were real or just echoes of the past.

It’s been some years now; my childhood is a thing of the past and the memories of friends now departed are wrapped and stored in the far recesses of my mind, to cherish in private. We mourned, we rejoiced and we gave thanks for those blessed lives that touched our own but life moved on, for we believe this reality is not all there is.

Our lifestyles are so different. They laugh at us, for our simple ways. We are quaint; a curiosity to be observed, but do they understand we see them, too? I don’t envy the incessant chaos that seems to follow them yet I wonder if those winsome glances they cast towards us reflect a longing for peace and simplicity. But when our worlds collided on that day there was no peace.

Their world crashed into ours and they expected us to crumble, to be dissolved into their expectation of despair and anger and for a time there was pain and confusion, until we gathered up our shattered dreams and brokenness.

We remembered, we mourned; but we believe this life is not all there is and so we turned our hands outward and comforted them in their sorrow and that has brought a peace their world cannot give.

The above story was inspired by the mention of the 2006 Amish schoolroom tragedy in a Youtube video I watched recently. After the loss of their children in a brutal shooting incident, the Amish community drew ranks around the family of the killer, Charles Roberts, showing as much love and concern for them in their grief and loss as their own Amish brethren.

Aside from their beliefs, we have much to learn from them - after all, 'when the oil runs out and the revolution comes' we may need to go back to a simpler lifestyle! So, perhaps there's an incentive for me to keep knitting........!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Thursday @ 3 - 'A SIMPLE PLEASURE'

This story started off a long time ago. In fact, I was surprised to see the remnants lying at the back of the 'virtual' filing cabinet. Anyway, I picked it up, dusted it off and tweaked it a little and now it fits the criteria for 'Thursday@3' - coming in at 333 words!

Here you go!


She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was akin to peeking in Pandora's Box and she couldn’t take the risk. Instead, Brenda glanced up at the clock on the dresser. Patience, dear, she thought to herself and brushed a wisp of hair back off her face.

He’d be home soon. All the long day she’d planned for this. Everything was in place, but she just needed a little more time. Life had been full of so little joy these last few years and simple pleasures had to be taken as and when they presented themselves.

So as she sat and waited, resisting the urge to open the door even just for a peep, she turned towards the letter on the shelf by the dresser. Fingering the envelope she withdrew the flimsy paper inside and settled herself on a stool to read it again for the umpteenth time that day. Her lips twitched as her eyes darted across the page. Even now, she felt her heart thudding in her chest as the smile she could not repress stretched out on her lips.

She folded the page, tucking it carefully back inside in the envelope before she placed it back on the shelf beside the quietly ticking clock.

Arthur would be home soon and then she’d be able to tell him, show him the letter, let him know the wonderful news that Laurence was safe and well.

In the days and weeks after V.E. day they had waited for news and finally it had come. Although she would not let herself fully believe it until their son walked back through the front door this, at least, was a time for celebration.

Another two minutes, she thought. Two minutes. Not so long to wait. Besides, a whole month’s rations were just too much to waste by opening the oven door too soon. Patience, dear, she thought sitting down by the sink. They’d toast their son’s repatriation with tea and cake.

Simple pleasures.

(apologies if Blogger won't allow you to leave a comment - but you can always 'Tweet' one to me!)

Monday, 10 October 2011


The team over at F3 have a guest challenger for this week's prompt - David Barber!

He set us the task of constructing a story prompted by this picture and invited us tell a tale about these two old codgers in a car.

This is what it sparked off in me - please, do, leave a comment. (Check out the other contributor's stories, too - via the F3 page link!)


Ernest pushed the gear stick into neutral and pulled on the handbrake. For quite a few minutes neither he nor Sheila said a word, they just stared out through the windscreen at the lake. The softly falling rain ran in small rivulets, unimpeded by the now-stationary wiper blades and slowly the vista became blurred.

Sheila looked down at her hands, grasping the handbag on her lap. Her knuckles were white as she wrung the tan leather between her fingers. Ernest knew what was going through her mind, what was being played out in her unspoken fantasy. He knew well enough to stay quiet on this very special day.

Part of him hoped this would be the last time they would do this, but deep down he knew that in twelve months they would be back here, parked up beside this beautiful spot, imagining things that were far from picturesque.

Sheila’s frenzied attack on her bag was punctuated with short gasps, imagining the man she saw in her mind’s eye, until finally the tears came, in sympathy with the raindrops on the windscreen.

Ernest reached across and laid his large hand with its chubby digits on top of Sheila’s clenched fists, waiting for the tension to release.

For the last thirty-odd years they had performed this sad ritual, marking the summers that had passed since that fine July evening when their world had been turned upside down and all that they’d thought stable was washed away on a maelstrom of terror and unknowing.

Melanie’s body had been found by the edge of the lake and had set in train a sequence of police interrogation and subsequent trials until finally they were left alone with no answers or resolution. There were several possible candidates for the guilty party and though cases were brought none could be proven.

So, they had buried their daughter and gone through the motions of trying to get back to what passed for a normal life.

Somewhere, the details of Melanie’s possible abduction and murder by persons unknown languished in the back of a police filing cabinet unsolved, all but forgotten; one of those ‘cold case’ documents that implied that the police had not given up.

Still, after all this time there was no progress. All that remained was an aching loss which they felt was their duty to maintain, however painful or futile; as if to not remember would be like extinguishing their beloved daughter from all existence.

Sheila stirred and Ernest moved his hand back to the wheel. He turned the key in the ignition, the gentle purr of the engine masking the noise of Sheila blowing her nose, dabbing at her reddened face with yet another Kleenex.

The wiper blades swished back and forth, clearing the blurred image as the car turned away, homage paid; another anniversary laid to rest.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Thursday @ 3 - 'STELLA BY STARLIGHT'

Hurriedly put together this week - away from home and with limited WiFi access!

Hope you like it enough to comment! (comment even if you don't like it, anyway!)


She was always a classy broad. I remember the trail of broken hearts she left behind her. Then when she took up with the boss it wasn’t only broken hearts; it was broken fingers, broken legs, even a few fatal ‘accidents'.

You quickly learned you could ‘look’ but not ‘touch’. If the boss was around you made sure you weren’t seen doing that, even. Jealousy sure is a bad thing, but coupled with a possessive nature it sealed Stella’s fate.

It was the Spring of ’31; Stella was getting noticed around the back alley joints as a real looker. Add to that her voice and it’s no wonder it didn’t take long before she came to the boss’s attention. And he liked what he saw.

He dressed her in furs, draped her in jewels and they were seen at all the best places in town. That’s when she realised she was snared – Eddie Sladen always got what he paid for.

Poor kid. I remember sneaking out back to get some fresh air – the joint was heaving that night, prohibition or not, cologne and whiskey distilled into a heady atmosphere. That’s when I noticed her propped against a wall, a delicate trail of smoke curling from the cigarette holder in her hand, shoulders shaking as she sobbed.

What’s a guy to do? She just about broke my heart, too, that night. I threw her the keys and pointed to the car. Even in the starlight she was beautiful, despite the smeared makeup and puffy eyes. She smiled and blew me a kiss before she wobbled unsteadily into the night. That was the last I saw of her.

They fished her body out of the river the next morning. The boss didn’t even wait until the end of the week before he had a gold-digging bitch hanging off his arm but I didn’t say anything; thanks to Stella I had a broken heart already and I planned on keeping everything else intact.