The Humpty Dumpty Girl

 

public-domain-images-hine-lewis-national-child-labor-committee-collection-32-1080x675

http://publicdomainarchive.com/public-domain-images-hine-lewis-national-child-labor-committee-collection/

 

I know it’s only been three weeks since I was left here, because Sammy showed me how to mark time. We were in the alleyway, the women gathering around us, waiting to see me gone.

‘Here,’ said Sammy, scratching the wall with a piece of coal. ‘Six lines down, one across makes a week. Like a gate.’

I said the words over and over as Da dragged me away, as the women looked on, shawled arms folded under smug smiles.

I have three gates scratched under my bed.

‘They’ll beat you with a cane ’til you’re black,’ Nell said when she caught me finishing the second gate.

Now she’s lying in a bed in the infirmary, head wrapped round in bandages – the Humpty Dumpty girl who fell off the wall. Matron asked me how it happened – sad faced, I shook my head and returned to my spindles.

Tonight, I’ll make another mark with my pocketknife. Perhaps tomorrow is the day Sammy will come to take me home.

If it is, I shall set a fire in the dropped threads, watch Matron and Nell and the clack-clack looms flame until there’s nothing but ash and the stench of burnt cotton.

***

For week ten of FFftPP. A very lovely, creepy photo that brought out the very worst in me.

3Line Tales: Under That Lazy Moon

 

Photo by Sonya Oldwin

***

 

‘Lazy bloody moon,’ he muttered, draping an arm over her narrow shoulders.

She hated how the weight of him constrained her breathing, hated  his greed for her, his undeserved swagger.

None of that would matter soon: soon she would be gliding across the bay under that lazy moon, heading to a Somewhere he was too stupid to find – happy to become invisible again.

 

***

For Sonya at Only 100 Words Three Line Tales. Write a little something of no more than three lines inspired by the photo prompt, then post, link back and take a gander at the other contributions. For full rules see here.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasons to love a frozen day in Bristol

boots-1082024_1920

Image: Pixabay

A dusting of frost whitens the roof tiles: the wheelie bin’s iced shut again. Vapour trails slice the haze. I imagine excited passengers in flight to warm seas and warmer blue skies than mine.

I wear fingerless gloves as I type, slippered feet resting on a hot water bottle, body wreathed in layers: vest, blankets, jumpers – a scarf.

But the sun shines brilliant and golden on the old gas fire, brightening photographs of my  smiling son and a Valentine’s Day card. Along with the blankets I’m wreathed in valuables – that card, those photos.

I don’t envy those holiday makers and their week on a beach.

I’d rather be here than anywhere.

 

 

 

Love Nudge Competition. Monday: Attraction

customer-magnet-1019871_1920

Image: Pixabay

Good morning lovely people and welcome to the first day of the Love Nudge competition.

Each day up until and including Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting a story prompt – a Love Nudge – to inspire you to write.

Today’s Love Nudge word is

ATTRACTION.

So why not pop something in the comments box: poetry, prose, elegy, blurb for a cereal packet. Do as you feel.

Judging will start the week commencing 15/2/16 and I’ll announce the winner sometime after.

Take a look here for the full rules and happy writing.

***

Much love to all who have already shared and taken part in this prompt – you’re all wonderful people.

 

Is being an author written in your DNA like brown eyes and freckles?

typewriter-407695_1920

Clackety-clack Image: Pixabay

After Wednesday’s groan-athon, where I attempted to turn whiny introspection into an art form, and realising that I probably focus on rejection way too much in these posts, I thought I’d write something rather more positive.

A couple of days ago, my other half was reading my first blog post for Mslexia. After the odd wry smile*, he finally said,

Bloody hell, it’s tough, isn’t it?

By this I don’t think he meant writing blog pieces was tough – cos that’s as easy as falling off a stack of the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica – but that the road to being a paid author is tough.

The comment made me look at the whole endeavour with fresh eyes.

Yes, it’s tough. Few people who love to write can do so professionally, fewer still full time. And it’s only the top tiny percent who become so rich they make Croesus look like the Clampetts pre oil strike.

But that doesn’t phase most of us, because that’s not why we do it.

 

We write because words are part of our DNA, woven into our genetic make up as much as brown eyes and a tendency to freckle. 

We write because at some point, we have fallen into the whirlpool of a book, drowned in its world, felt the emotional tug of its characters – we’ve inhaled the magic of the best stories. And we’ve thought, even subconsciously,

“Dammit, I’d love to do that for someone else”

We write for the fleeting joy when a scene, a phrase – even a mere word – feels right.

We write because we grow to love our characters, they live in our minds and whisper at our shoulders, telling us what they wish to do next – what they WILL do next – and we want to be along for the ride.

We write because we want to prise open the door on the worlds we created and say to others, ‘Come on, take a look. Share this with me.’

We write for Joy and Love and even for the Pain we feel as our best created friends slip from us.

We write because we have to.

***

At least, that’s why I write.

So all my writer pals out there, tell me why you write.

Fame? Fortune? The possibility of appearing on Radio 2’s book club with Simon Mayo (oh, yes please)? Or is it just because if you don’t, the stories will build up until your head bursts a la Scanners?

 

***

*My husband has been with me for twenty five years, so he’s heard all my gags now – it’s tough to make him really laugh. Carry on reading this blog until the year 2040 and you will no doubt feel the same.

The Last Enigma

quill-175980_1280

Image: Pixabay

 

His Will was the first hint the family had of his cabalistic existence, the awful truth etched in every sub clause – so many children …

***

In response to My Loving Wife on A Word Adventure’s – Tuesday Use It In A Sentence prompt – the word for this week being Cabalistic. Do drop by here if you want to know the rules and join in with the fun

#tuesdayuseitinasentence

How authors can overcome their lack of time to write

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Greetings from ‘sporadically sunny, but when it comes down to it, pretty rainy and miserable, let’s stay in and have another cup of hot chocolate’ Bristol.

Whilst not exactly bathing in the glorious output of the sun and feeling the Vit D leech from my body with every second that passes, there is something that warms my very soul today.

No, it’s not the hot chocolate.

Nor is it the prospect of eating the dosa (and possibly imbibing in a sneaky ‘my son’s at school so why not’ cocktail) that’s waiting for me for lunch with a friend.

Neither is it chatting to you lovely people in the little ray of sunshine that is right here, right now, this blog – though it warms my insides almost as much as the dosa and Mumbai Mule coctail will, I assure you.

No.

It’s the news that the second in my series of posts for Myslexia was published mere minutes ago.

As well as my usual nonsense rambling about dragons and tea, there are a few useful tips about conquering every wanna be author’s foe – Time Constraints.

Do pop along. A warm welcome extends to all.

wednesday word tangle: Love lies Bleeding

butterfly-664050_1280 (1)

‘Are you the medick?’

‘Well, I’m a doctor, if that’s what you mean.’

‘I rang the surgery twenty minutes ago. Didn’t they tell you, my love lies bleeding?’

‘I came as fast as I could. The traffic’s a nightmare. A lorry shed its load of farm birds- spurge, all over the road. No chance I could speedwell with fat hens and goosefoot everywhere. Puddles of… well, more than one chickweed today, I can tell you. Maybe the crash made them nervous…’

‘Doctor, please, her bleeding heart…’

‘Yes, of course. Lead the way. What’s the patient’s name?’

‘Cicely. Sweet Cicely, I call her. And my name’s William- Sweet William, see? We make a good pair. Just mind that floorboard…’

‘Good, god.’

Wormwood, I think. I need to get a man in.’

‘Bloody woodruff. I could’ve broken my ankle.’

‘Maybe I should have a bugle, or a Canterbury bell to warn people?’

‘I think a sign would be more practical. Interesting décor. Is that a Spanish dagger up on the wall?’

‘That’s right. And that’s a twayblade next to it.’

‘And a throwing Star of Bethlehem. Are they legal?’

‘Not technically, but I know a man…’

‘Right, well. Up here is it?’

‘Yes, through that door, she’s on her ladies bedstraw.’

‘I’d say a mattress was more hygienic, but each to their own. Hello, Cicely. My name’s Dr Robert, Herb Robert . You can call me Herb if you like.’

‘No, that’s not her. That’s Bearded Iris, out neighbour. She was just visiting. Nice to see you, Iris. Close the door on your way out, love.’

Sorrel, my mistake. Now, Cicely, if I can just examine you. I’m afraid you’ll have to remove your monkshood. Oh, and your ladies mantle.’

‘She’d rather not. She’s shy.’

‘Well, I don’t know how I can… Look, I’m sorry, but what is that smell?’

‘Oh, dear. maybe she knapweed. She’s probably dreaming of the wild leeks we had in our camping days, all those torch lit trips to the loo block…’

‘No, she’s knotweed. It doesn’t matter. But I could do with more light… Could you roll up the nightshade, let the sun in?’

‘Err, yeah. Okay.’

‘Now, let’s see. Well, she doesn’t seem to be bleeding. So what’s the problem?’

‘Well, over the last few weeks she’s had mugwort, moonwort, motherwort, navelwort, nipplewort… You name a wart, she’s had it.’

‘She’ll probably selfheal. They’re no reason for a home visit. If I could just see her face, check her eyebright , if she’s feverfew…’

‘No need for that, Dr Robert.’

‘What? What’s that you’re holding.’

‘It’s a shot gun- lock, stock, and barrel.’

‘I don’t understand…’

‘Why don’t you take a closer look. You see, my Sweet Cicely wasn’t always this way. She didn’t always hide in the dark, growing madder by the day with the pain of her condition, avoiding her Venus’ looking glass because she can’t bear to see her beauty ravaged by disease. Long ago she was struck down by an ailment, let’s say it was scabious, or bladderwort. You might have know her as Sweet Alison back then…’

‘Oh, God.’

‘Well, she went to see her GP, a young man, always in a rush, a gallant soldier, ambitious enough to climb the Jacobs ladder of medicine to his own private practice. The doctor barely examined her, sent her away, telling her to give it thyme. He didn’t even notice the ladies tresses falling out of her skullcap, the lungwort growing inside her…’

‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’

‘Stop weeping! Your angel’s tears won’t help you now.’

‘I have money…’

‘What good are pennyroyals to my girl? I’ll teasel you no longer. The arrowhead‘s beneath your pillow, Cicely. Tare him.’

‘Oh, God…’

Forget me not.’


So, today’s word is a group of words, a history, a lineage of words- common names for wild flowers.

I’ve always loved them. Some names come from Biblical stories or ancient myths, the words often very old- ‘wort’, for example, is not a lump on the skin at all, but is from the Old English ‘wyrt’ which meant herb or plant.

They sound weird, gross, violent or beautiful- and they’re all brilliant.

Here’s the site I found them on, if you fancy a bit of botanical archaeology of your own. British Wild Flowers

All hail Kitty for starting Word for Wednesday.

Fasten your seatbelts- it’s going to be a bumpy write

crayons-316019_1280

I’ve just signed up for WordPress Writing 101 and the very first challenge is a twenty minute free write, no subject, just a ramble through the inside of your own head via your fingertips.

I’ve set the timer on my phone, so here goes.

When you say the words ‘Free Write’, for some reason I think of the radio programme ‘Just a minute’. Now, for all of you under 45 and those who don’t live in the UK, ‘Just a minute’ is a panel game where the contestants have to speak on a given subject without pausing, deviating or repeating themselves for sixty seconds. This is not as easy as it sounds. Have you ever tried to riff on one subject for sixty seconds without repeating yourself? It makes you realise how limited your own vocabulary is.

During the game, other contestants can challenge the person talking and take up the baton themselves, so that they then have to continue talking for the rest of the sixty seconds. I guess it’s a parlour game but transferred to the radio.

Obviously, the best parlour game is charades. When I say best, I mean best and worst. I’ve spent many a Christmas with family, half of us half-cut, forcing ourselves away from ‘The Great Escape’ on the TV to show that we’re more educated than the stereotype couch-potatoes that we actually are, trying to come up with a mime for ‘Dumbo’ without actually being able to think of anything that rhymes and still being politicly-correct enough not to pretend to be stupid.

Half of the time you’re playing charades, you have to explain what’s going on to the older, deaf members of the family, though you’d think they’d understand it better, as you have to use a lot of sign language to compete. The other half of the time you spend trying to explain the rules- again- to young members of the family who don’t remember ‘Give us a Clue’ with Lionel Blair or don’t know how to mime a cine-camera because they’ve never seen anything take footage that doesn’t have a microchip inside it.

There are so many things that I grew up with that my son would not understand- ice on the inside of my bedroom window because we didn’t have central-heating, black and white TV, only having three channels,Sunday closing for shops, the total lack of internet, Ipods and everything else that he loves and takes as part of life, part of life that has surely always existed.

I guess it’s the same for every generation. My mum grew up without any TV at all, only radio. Mind you, she also grew up above a grocers shop, making paper bags for flour and sugar out of flat sheets of paper and having to cut the mould off the cheese before weighing it out for the customer- a different age.

Memory is a weird and diaphanous thing. Once my mum’s generation’s gone, no one left will know what it was like to live that kind of life, that hand-me-down, making do, having the same-stew-pot-on-the-stove-for-the-whole-of-the-winter kind of life.

Is that necessarily a bad thing, though? My son recently did a project at school called ‘Has there every been a better time to live?’ They looked through several centuries with their varying technologies, lifestyles and living conditions and almost unanimously voted that today is the best time to live. For all the worries and problems and there are many, who could argue with them? Certainly in the developed world, anyway, we have better nutrition, life expectancy and entertainments than in any other period in history.

Try living through the fourteenth century- nothing but war, famine, civil unrest and Black Death, for pretty much the entire one hundred years. Truly brutish and short existences. I mean, people lived the whole of their lives, pretty much slaves to some over-fed warmongering lord, toiling on the land, breaking their backs to die at thirty of malnutrition or the ‘flu.

Do you think they were resentful, do you think that they thought ‘what the hell did I do to deserve this life? Surely being a slug or a butterfly would be better? At least they don’t know that there’s a king or a lord or an earl down the road how’s living a more comfortable, better-fed, more privileged life.’

I mean, are slugs jealous of birds because they can fly? Do moths get jealous of butterflies cos they can go out in the daytime and look at the sun? I dont think so. Jealousy or envy is a purely human and rather corrosive trait.

How much better off would we all be if we didn’t have ‘Cribs’ to show us how crappy our own lives are compared to the rich, famous and smug? Wouldn’t we all be happier without TV, without the media showing us all the awful things in the world and the internet enabling us to slag the next person off just because their hairs not great or they’re carrying a few extra pounds?

But then, if there was no internet I wouldn’t be able to do this challenge and meet all the people I’ve met since I’ve been blogging and that would be a very sad thing.

Firstly, my I say that yes, I have gone through, sectioning the text (it was too much of a block and unreadable, man) and I’ve corrected the misspellings (many) and added punctuation the odd word for clarification. I’m sharing this with the world- it’s gotta be slightly legible.

Interesting how much I can write (badly) in twenty minutes. I usually write so little, drafting, redrafting, copy and pasting. If people just wanted to lap up my BRAIN VOMIT (ooh, nasty), then I could’ve written fifty novels this way by now.

Nice exercise, though.

We’re going on a Cave hunt… Writing Caves #2

bus-stop-384617_1280

You may find it hard to believe from my beautifully crafted words (Ha! Ha!) but I don’t spend all day, every day, hidden in Writing Cave #1. There are times when I must surgically detach myself from my chair, brush the biscuit crumbs from my stiffened limbs and stumble, blinking into the light.

Leaving Dominic Silverstreak behind is a wrench. I should explain that Dominic is my Vaio laptop and a more gorgeous hunk you won’t find. Okay, so occasionally he refuses to work, he’s slow, sluggish and has been known to lose stuff, but I’ve grown so used to the feel of him under my hands, I can’t imagine another taking his place… Sorry, what was I saying? Ah, yes.

The days I have to leave my beloved behind (sigh!) are usually Work days. This is something I’ve been informed we all have to do to earn money. Now, much as I’ve gone along with this idea for the last thirty-odd years, I’ve never totally understood the concept. It all seems rather unpleasant and inconvenient. Rather than having to turf out of bed- leaving Dominic cold and alone- to do something that’s frankly quite hard and tiring, wouldn’t it just be more straightforward if I stayed at home, warm, cosy, doing what I love to do, and have someone pay me anyway? Just an idea for the future, policy makers of the world.

Anyway, to get to Work I have to cross town, catching two buses in the process, because *I DON’T DRIVE. Now, I realise that to some of you saying I don’t drive is like announcing I can get along without breathing, that I don’t like **Soap Operas and never watch Strictly or X Factor – but I never have driven and possibly never will.

But all is not lost, because whilst in traffic jams (which in Bristol are many and varied), stuck at lights and trying to ignore the fact I have a stranger’s groin/ armpit/ dribbling toddler in my face, I carry the spirit of Dominic with me in the form of a notebook (And no, I don’t have names for my notebooks- that would just be weird.)

In the notebooks I scribble plots and ideas for upcoming stories, random thoughts, earwigged conversations, bizarre bus-bound happenings (perhaps the subject of a future post!) shopping lists and anything else that occurs to me.

So there you have it- Writing Cave #2: public transport.

Now, if you wouldn’t mind leaving- Dominic and I want some ‘alone time’.

*My hubby doesn’t drive either- what kind of freaks are we?
**I also do not like soaps and never watch Strictly or X Factor– that’s how much of a freak I am.