Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75: Down Brigstowe Bay

Brigstowe Bay was a grinning moon banked by rocky spurs.

At the centre of the smile was a bank of grubby sand, the Grand Pier with its sagging wooden roller coaster and sun bleached stalls selling candy floss and hot dogs.

On the northern spur, looking towards Torquay, were the wide streets and Romanesque villas of Upper Cliffside, looking down on the promenade in more ways than one.

On the southern side, set apart from the wannabe millionaires of Cliffside and the hucksters and charming liars of the promenade, was an area locals called ‘Brig’.

The pubs and cottages lining Brig harbour resembled squat toadstools, warty with jerry-built extensions, sheds and stillhouses. What fishing boats remained ran the coast, ‘fishing’ for washed up whisky and smuggled brandy.

A boy from Brig could beat a Cliffside lad hands down in a fight.

Though maybe not a fair one.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75. See Crispina’s inspiring pic and join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #74: Patches

CCC#74

There were four towers at the harbour, frameworks of scabby tubular steel, ladders and trusses, each six storeys high.

Matt would sit on a particular bench, by water tamed by the sea walls. The bench had a good view of all the towers but was furthest away from the litter bin. Because of the wasps and the germs.

He liked the way the towers’ uprights and diagonals acted as frames to scraps of billowing rain clouds and wispy cirrus and even bright clear blue on occasion. They cut the sky into fragments, brought it fleeting order.

When the sounds grew too much – music turned thumping, people shouting, the cars beeping, engines rumbling through the soles of his trainers – he’d go to the bench, watch the towers cut the sky into patches.

And feel calm.

***

Written for Crimson’t Creative Challenge #74. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73: What Sunny found.

CCC #73

The note led Sunny to a clearing in the woods, to a shipping container half concealed by ivy and brambles. If it wasn’t for the stencilled letters and numbers, it could be something from a fairy tale, home to a sleeping princess.

Once she’d cleared the growth from the door, sweat darkened her top and her arms were lacy with scratches, threads of blood.

She stared at the block of metal, wondering why. Why someone had sent her a note telling her to come. Why she’d obeyed it.

The sun was dropping lower, midges rising from the grass. Time.

She pulled the lever. The bars squeaked, turned slowly, rust catching on rust.

‘Come on,’ she muttered.

With one last tug the mechanism released. An animal smell – ancient and rank – hit her along with a wave of heat. She swallowed, tried to ignore the call to vomit.

‘Oh, no,’ she sighed.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. See here to join in.

Now, why did Sunny follow those instructions – something unresolved from her past, her present? What did she find in the shipping container?

Do drop me a line telling me what you think.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #69: Upended

CCC#69

Madge slipped into her boots and headed for the garden. The boots slipped back and forth on her feet, still heavy with mud from the previous day.

She’d always enjoyed this time of year. The spring pruning, the pot scrubbing, righting the gnomes upended by winter storms. There was an excitement to it, an anticipation of summer in the scent of compost and the rows of brightly coloured seed packets.

She hadn’t sown any seeds this spring. She wouldn’t see the cherry blossom break pink against a blue May sky. She wouldn’t sink her teeth into an apple fresh from her own tree. Those thoughts gave her a pang – who wouldn’t want just one more summer?

But the garden would grow lush without her, the bees would still come and visit the trees and plants she’d tended.

The world turned. And that was enough.

***

Written for Crimson’t Creative Challenge #69. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #68: A Lesson in Architecture

CCC#68

A grey green smear of filth and algae on the concrete bridge showed the river’s natural level. For years it acted as a marker, a barrier the water wouldn’t cross.

Then it began to rain and we were told why and how it was happening but all we knew was that the fields were underwater and the drains spewed back what we had pumped in.

We watched as neighbourhoods drowned, homes were lost, people displaced. We tutted, shook sad heads before something new distracted us.

Until it was out turn.

And there was something fitting about watching the deluge from the shelter of that bridge, the strip of water shielded a little from the barrage of rain, the sounds around me not softer but more defined, individual.

The grey green marks were submerged, the river lapped the towpath and I finally remembered the architectural style of that bridge – Brutalist.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #68. See Crispina’s great pic and be inspired here.

Bristol and the entire UK has had weeks – and weeks – of storms and seemingly endless rain and today is no exception. We have the dubious pleasure of welcoming Storm Jorge over the weekend.

Today – right at this moment – Greta Thunberg is in the city on a march against climate change.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #67: Twilight at Bicker’s Mill

CCC#67

What remained of Bicker’s Mill still stood, the wooden pillar like a lighthouse in an ocean of reeds and sedge.

Mist was developing as we approached the whitewashed boards, not so much rolling in across the marshes, but rising upwards as if expelled from the ground.

Dor had waded close behind me all the way from the road, grumbling about the wet and the cold and the wisdom of being at the ‘Tween Place’ at twilight. She mumbled, the words becoming formless, an incantation against my foolishness.

‘Hush now,’ I said, taking her hand, and the warmth of me quietened her a little. ‘You know why we’re here.’

The sun settled low, the clouds ink and fire, the low mist a stubborn grey. I lit a smoky fire to warm our hands, to ward off the tremors.

As night crept in, Dor stared across the marsh. ‘There,’ she said.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #67. See here to join in.

Crispina’s talk of Boggarts and Trolls led me to comment about the nature of these between places and the belief that the margins between dry land and water were also margins between this world and others.

Perhaps also part of the reason bog body sacrifices such as Tollund Man (below) were made in Europe through pre-history.

Image result for tollund man

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #66: The Knapper

CCC#66

A last bus rumbled past, leaving behind it diesel fumes and a wash of gutter water.

The night was restless with weaving drunks, corners stuffed with sleeping bags and cardboard mattresses for the city’s homeless.

‘Does it have to be now?’ Marv whispered.

Tyche pushed knotted hair from her eyes. ‘When else?’ She approached the old gaol wall, its dark mosaic of flint nodules.

‘We’re gonna end up in jail ourselves, only it’ll be more shared lavs and shivs than pretty rocks.’

‘Here.’ She knelt by the rusted grill, hand on a particular ball of flint. ‘Get to work, Knapper.’

Sighing, Marv eased down beside her. The wall seemed to glow a little, a faint luminescence only visible away from the street lights. Placing a swollen knuckle on the light, he struck.

Splinters fell to the pavement. A song floated, sinuous on the air. Such longing.

‘We’re here,’ hissed Tyche.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #66. Go here to join in.

NB. Tyche was the Greek Goddess who governed the prosperity and fortune of a city.

Flint is a fascinating material that was used for weaponry and tools long before it was used to make buildings. It’s almost a mystical thing, to watch an expert knapper create an arrowhead from a solid, brittle ball of flint.

And for fun, I thought I’d include a video of my favourite knapper – archaeologist Phil Harding from Wessex Archaeology. And if you want to imagine Phil as Marv, feel free.