Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 37 (28-10) 08:25

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 37 (28-10) 08:25

711 Broken Dreams
712 Time to Leave
713 Not crazy about electricity 
714 Gallipoli
715 Black Rain
716 Various Lost Voices

717 The Friends of Eddie
718 Fresh out of the wrapper
719 Cardiac Arrest
720 A Thin Red Line
721 The Scramble for Africa
722 The A-Z of Infinity

723 Watching Friends
724 A red wedding dress
725 An introduction to logic
726 Nuns, Priests, Saints
727 The Gift of Rain
728 Like a whole other world

729 Lawrence of Arabia
730 Letters from the Arctic
731 This is my dress
733 Hold my hand
734 Kings & Queens

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 34 (25-10) 08:20

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 34 (25-10) 08:20

 787 After much thought, I did this day, make known
788 Stepping from the gate and into Sarah's arms
789 The road uphill, the scenery spectacular
790 It is true that she also scribbles in secret
791 A scene which is calculated to cause alarm
792 A negro boy called Kirk

793 Many there are who would disprove of such entry-making
794 Hyde Park, echoing with the sound of soldiers' boots
795 The loud huzzahs of these Sons of Africa
796 It is possible to not think about women
797 A rise fashion these days, among the high-born
798 The judge set the boy free for want of evidence

799 I went for a walk, feeling lonely 
800 Gerald says I shouldn't eat so much bread
801 The bible verses she reads
802 The Regent of Iraq and his Minister of Defence
803 Depressing, gay, tormenting, delightful, silly and sensible
804 Or break my fast, then wind yarn for my mother

805 'Tis a noble thing to keep the diary
806 The avenue is alive with desire
807 A second's flicker of a match
808 The police wait, hoping for trouble
809 Drinking bad martinis with vacuous girlfriends
810 The viands she consumes

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 33 (24-10) 08:22

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 33 (24-10) 08:22

 773 Near Reilly's Tavern
774 Easy to draw but hard to earn
775 A baby's funeral following
776 Bales of cotton and chests of tea
777 Warehouses, business establishments
778 A wall covered in pin-up girls

779 Cheese sandwiches and sweet tea
780 War maps, buttonholes, maps &c
781 A small light above the piano
782 9/10 of the boys prostituting are in no way homosexual
783 Three Armenians came to the show
784 It pays for their day-time mistresses

785 God above and human baseness below
786 Bacon factors, coffee roasters, merchants
787 Wax faces entirely without expression
788 Bottled bath-water
789 A picture of Oscar Wilde
780 I wonder what they made of it all

781 A dirty little bookshop off Fleet Street
782 Four guns, we dispatched 700 rabbits
783 The gulls above London Bridge, the stevedores below
784 Afterwards, solemn, they shook our hands and left
785 My parents are playing cards
786 A street stall selling popular literature

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 30 (15-10) 07:15

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 30 (15-10) 07:15

700 Gateway
701 Father says we should not speak
702 Without a friend until we meet
703 Nothing there but an eyeless lamb
704 Fine white palaces
705 A Sunday when we gave each other love

706 Only a portion of the items were removed
707 The East is Gone, the West is Gone
708 When there is no prompt
709 I was at no time given a written quotation
710 And I am at the centre, empty
711 I take the mornings easy

712 Nothing before me, nothing after this
714 A few larger, separate items
715 About railways, tunnels, journeys
716 Standard Procedure
717 Rivers jumping over mountains

718 When Africa and China met
719 I was visited by the husband of the now departed wife
720 The Sun at night
721 I was specifically told not to return
722 Spots
723 And like a tired traveler seeing home

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 29 (14-10) 07:28

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 29 (14-10) 07:28

676 Figs, Walnuts, Dates
677 It is time to rise, to dress
678 Addicted to Friends
679 Some has stolen my porridge 
680 Do not go gentle
681 Her VW Camper Van

682 Hamlet squeezed, then squeezed again
683 By the kitchen light leaked through
684 Sleeping in a chair
685 The dogs snuffling on the landing
686 Her alarm, Adagio With Strings
687 The One With All Ten Seasons!

688 Dropping Sizes
689 Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory!
690 Ebeneezer's Secret
691 I will just keep walking
692 Turn off the television
693 More books, more books, more books

694 Today I ache
695 Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe
696 Forty NINE!
697 I have been removed from your society
698 How heavy is the rain, how sharp the wind
699 An island somewhere

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 28 (13-10) 12:10

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 28 (13-10) 12:10

652 The men sleep in the snow
653 I am a soldier on the wall
654 Undergrowth
655 Write an ode or something
656 High drama on British Rail 
657 The slow lazy town

658 Leaves long since burned
659 Stalybridge Junction
660 Falling gently but still deadly
661 The sentence he should receive
662 I stuff animals. Sometimes they are dead
663 Tea at five in the morning

664 Where the Hell is Jenkins?
665 The sun between the trees
666 Tired.
667 His mouth was a slit, purple
668 A cup of kindness
669 No-Go

670 We kill the things we love
671 Baking bread
672 Burglar  
673 You were five and I was seven
674 Maybe a wee holiday
675 Gargantuan

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 27 (13-10) 08:00

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 27 (13-10) 08:00

628  And Generals selling poppies
629 Brownlee has fucked off.
630 Badgers
631 One day I will have asbestos huts named after me
632 Big horses, confused, shifting from foot to foot
633 They are at the gate

634 Five years have gone already, all those Junes, Julys
635 Beneath this bracken, weeds, there is an old path
636 Love does not run. It hides and mutates
637 The quiet glory of the largest sky
638 Let us commit treason, then
639 To stop by a brook and wait

640 Allegedly, this ugly pair, my ancestors
641 Write me an epitaph in Latin, pretend I was liked
642 "Fucked we had, and Pissed-Happy-Glad" (Direct quote)
643 Mirror, Mirror, on the Floor
644 The Dad's Dance of Love
645 Good to be walking with nowhere in particular to go

646 Fucking Hell! Maud, come out here for a minute!
647 You have the right kind of face
648 I talked last night to the dog
649 The keen lift of morning air
650 Black as a Banshee Bat
651 I can take our love so easy

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 25 (11-10) 07:38

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 25 (11-10) 07:38

575 Nobody had noticed the girl
576 I am from Aberystwyth, she is from Aberdare
577 The last get upon the sawdust
578 The fattest man she had ever seen
579 On the straw behind the astrologer's tent
580 I only heard this morning

581 The fair is finished
582 Toast
583 The sky will stand still, the sun turn black
584 How summer must have looked in Ireland
585 Found by the men from the caravans
586 I feel very frightened

587 I know he is murdered but I cannot believe it
588 We are all poorer now
589 The brave are better at happiness
590 Something so wicked, so vile, so dangerous
591 A place miraculously pretty
592  there are more frightened people than brave

593 Dead as white bones, quiet
594 The gardener sees the land the tree usurps
595 The sound of spit buglers
596 I wash in cold water
597 She does nothing now but knit
598 The nature of happiness

599 In a mud hut on a canvass cot
600 He dressed, left, and died
601 Lie still, be calm, suffer quietly
602 The uncertain corners of prayers
603 The town speaks
604 Tell her I feel abused

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 24 (10-10) 08:00

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 24 (10-10) 08:00

570 The need that pulls the flower from the earth
571 Waters
572 The deep sex in a ream of paper
573 How a screw turns, pulls
574 Tickled by it, trying to make love catch
575 I do not apologise: my father was my hero

576 It is just too wonderful.
577 A huge lunch then thirty minutes later, tea
578 I love being in the middle
569 Mad as a watch-washer
580 I count on you so automatically
581 Dear Stooge
582 We will call it Catscradle

583 My astrologer says you are not good for me
584 The prick of an unwanted kiss
585 Especially in October
586 Boughs
587 When you do not want your birthday
588 It was Saturn all the time, not me

589 Footsie
590 The occasional success bucks him up
591 The sun bright red across the nose
592 He has moments of great sweetness
593 Dusty Answers
594 How quickly this is becoming dislike

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 23 (09-10) 08:00

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 23 (09-10) 08:00

 525 The day winds down
526 I think of summer girls, most ruined
527 Toffee Apple
528 The scab-kneed children with the mothers
529 And tea in bottles, the men already gone
530 On promenades expecting, expecting

531 To betting shops and dirty bars
532 It is so short a season, a short, uncertain life
533 Porthcawl, Tenby, Barry
534 The pulse of it, the pointlessness
535 No on considers dying when they are saying out
536 How the sand gets into everything, the hats

537 Printers' Apprentices, Girls in Accounts
538 Gulls crashing, dresses thighed
539 Vinegar on the fingers, petticoats
560 Sons of steel-workers, a rag and bone boy
561 The sea dubious at the best of times
562 Roar!
563 Dodgems, Haunted Houses, The Caterpillar

564 Walking as far as the cliffs
565 Watching clocks, calling to a friend
566 Time sucked from me, snippets, air
567 The weight and pull of sand, deckchairs, ankles
568 How the gap was so small, between child and man
569 And the girls, the girls, the girls!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 22 (08-10) 15:00

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 22 (08-10) 15:00

501 I thought the President looked sad tonight
502 I am wearing my philosopher's hat
503 Acting in a cheap and repugnant way
504 Drunk as a goat
505 Cholly Knickerbocker
506 Parties are the refuge of the small-minded

507 The British Empire seems foolish to me
508 One way is to peddle poison
509 I am less than well these days
510 A short, doughy body
511 We went from one dive to another all night
512 Hungover and sick in the soul

513 This is going to be a nice long war
514 Possessions are my undoing
515 Things are about the same here
516 Meanwhile I will do my homework
517 Falling Through Space
518 I have given up any idea of sailing

519 We were born into the wrong age
520 How Spain suffered
521 I feel bitter at how the world is run
522 Rat-eyed and glum
523 I am hoping to go to Jamaica
524 But without some part in it, we might as well be dead

October Blast

Blast Update

21 Sets of Prompts

500 Prompts

70 Stories in so far

28,000 words

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 21 (08-10) 07:15

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 21 (08-10) 07:15

487 I need to write something funny
488 Blancmange
489 Write a serious, tragic, literary story that rewrites "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"
490 I have thrown away about a hundred thousand
491 Tonight, dins at the US Embassy
492 Psychopaths of a very dark kind

493 I am installed in a ripe bed-sit off The Strand
494 Too many languages, too many who are not us
495 Daffodils, as far as I could see
496 Taken to being shocking for its own sake
497 You would think sex was a disease
498 But to let a child go?

499 My horizon is as wide as a dollar bill
490 Whatever
491 I am furiously angry about so many things
492 The refugee camps
493 This dark November night of the soul
494 Something leather, delicate, can make me cry

495 The self-indulgent whining of the privileged 
496 I must be a part of it there, so i can tell others
497 The worst is casual cruelty, and to the innocent, an abomination
498 I am a voyeur
499 My diamond-studded destiny, sitting on my ass
500 I merely need to fuck a husband now and again

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 20 (07-10) for 18:10

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 20 (07-10) for 18:10

463 The iniquities of Bluetooth
464 I think this holiday is very necessary
465 Picnic on Hampstead Heath
466 Coffee with the American Ambassador
467 Obsequious, bowing, uniformed attendants
468 Wine, a little sale, two enormous pork pies

469 I would like my last meal to be chicken pie
470 For the first time in nine months
471 The most beautiful spot in England
472 Snipe
473 Leave the door open. Invite the morning in
474 The silence can be overpowering 

475 A story in London Magazine
476 An evening of reminiscences
477 Emily Dickinson
478 So much has happened, some of it very odd.
479 I find myself famous
480 Scrambling for a flat without damp

481 Thank you for the fruit, but Pomegranates?
482 Better, yes, but in an odd, somehow sterile way
483 Oh heck, this is THE place to be!
484 We could bicycle our way down Route 66
485 Gramophone
486 Let's try for a better solution

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 19 (07-10)

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 19 (07-10)

>>> for 11:30  <<<

439 When the wind and the light combine
440 Glint of Sun
441 We are not there, but moving we are not here, either
442 Monkey

443 The lake is grey, dull as a slate roof
444 I have sorted my thoughts but I worry about the order
445 Hurry slowly friend
446 A Pewter Spoon, a Plate

447 It's not I have forgotten the rules, I have forgotten WHY rules
448 I hear my voice, my lips tight shut and blood between my teeth
449 It is mere veneer
450 Let us catch our hearts off guard and open up!

451 Yesterday I left the handbrake off
452 To render the missing visible
453 I have had my porridge, the dogs are fed
454 The heart seeks charity, the mind clarity

455 For health, do not eat alone
456 For health, do not drink with many men
457 Walk Hounds
458 The mare is foaling in the low field

459 Imagine something small is the universe, the rest its aura
460 Let us drink cheap wine and eat books
461 Swedish Poetry
462 And did you get what you wanted or only what you craved?

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 18 (07-10) 07:30

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 18 (07-10) 07:30

 415 I have been into Spencers today to be measured for some flannels
416 The back streets of places like Rotherham
417 Teaching is a terrible compromise
418 Please go on holiday for me and I will get a vicarious tan
419 Margaret is in Paris, indolent and not giving a damn
420 I need black-out blinds and medication
421 I rise at 02:30, eat and begin
422 Uncle Walt seems none too well. I fear he may pop soon
423 My room is a battle zone 
424 They are sending me to Mansfield. Mansfield!
425 Johnny has gone to Nigeria to help the blacks
426 I will work in Regent's Park, shovelling elephant shit
427 Have you ever wondered where the seas came from?
428 Swift, the master of style, no other.
429 The weather is perfect, the people appalling
430 Street Noises
431 Hello, Jules, may I sleep on your floor?
432 I am back in London, without a cat but determined to be Mayor
433 All manner of blunders of taste
434 I may try to get into Television until I find my feet and a wife
435 I have £25 (a little thing in The Times...)
436 Then, as often as you can, just write
437 I have heard that Spain is cheap but Hungary even cheaper.
438 Shakespeare, Chaucer, Swift

Monday, October 06, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 17 (06-10) 12:40

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 17 (06-10) 12:40

 391 Have I written since Xmas?
392 The weather in December is tricky. January is far more honest
393 It’s really frozen now. There is four inches of ice on the Cam
394 The swans are walking
395 In Wales, ponies frozen, birds dead on the branches
396 I am teaching myself not to give a damn
397 I will sleep when I like, eat whatever, see whomsoever I choose
398 I think I was made for a quiet life
399 A master teaching Chaucer in a forgotten school
400 Drip-dry shirts and other abominations
401 Composing letters to dowagers
402 Life should not be measured by its extent
403 I am considering the £10 trip to the antipodes
404 There is a girl. We may marry.
405 Fiddling while the dam bursts
406 Someone committed suicide last week
407 Ah, Mrs Snatchgribble!!
408 I may farm mink.
409 I believe, in a decade, I shall retire
410 Living cheaply at home, a giant stew made every Monday for the week
411 There are a couple of snags, but £10,000 should cover it.
412 Dearest, are you surviving?
413 Now THAT is style!
414 Little rags of dead skin and a roaring itch!

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 16 (06-10) 08:15

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 16 (06-10) 08:15

366 Filthy outside
367 Ducking below fifteen stone
368 The women I remember
369 She was in America
370 Gaviscon
371 How all this connects, I do not know
372 Found hung, and all so useless, pointless
373 Sometimes it's just words
374 A duvet over your legs
375 I find the occasional eyeball
376 Slumped in a thousand pound chair
377 Connect my parts; I can be back together
378 Today worries me, tomorrow is frightening
379 Walking in the Rain
380 That's why between the thighs matters so heavily
382 Rain barrels filled with flesh
382 I feel the need to steal something, to kick a dog, to stare
383 There have been some deaths; there will be more
384 Give me some elbow-room and I will make grease
385 Your BP on the internet
386 I would like to hide here, is that OK with you?
387 Some will beg. Some will defy us, hate in their dying eyes.
388 They have a different God, all bets are off.
389 This is the fourth time I have tried to explain
390 A small bird

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 15 (05-10) 15:30

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 15 (05-10) 15:30

 342 Comparing thee
343 We are the MEN!
344 Pulling things out of the air
345 I amaze myself
346 Like that patient on the table, under
347 And what, what of marriage?
348 Apples
349 Love each other but don't over-do it
350 JCB
351 We still have to recover the bodies
352 I will slip from this skin and find another
353 I want to be a virgin again
354 Seven or eight years
355 Sunday Football; Sunday, Football
356 Appearance is everything
357 A Peruvian Chocolate Mine
358 I have been here before but this wasn't here then
359 If you don't like that, try this
360 Like a fool, I tried to explain
361 There are many here, Men, women, salesmen...
362 Peanuts!
363 Cobwebs upon gorse, the light in mist
364 She made me chicken with leeks and asparagus 
365 How so many die and some live

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 13 (03-10) 09:15

293 Not far from the highway in Cranton, Pennsylvania
294 It's just the way I do it, sorry
295 Sharing stew with the dogs
296 At night, he changes, showers, then puts on his dress
297 Use my name
298 Too ashamed to snore, not sleeping
299 Why is the horse beautiful, the zebra somehow obscene?
300 I would but it's raining
301 The Lion Queen
302 Feminism Fatigue
303 The last memories should be of love
304 I only see sadness when I look into your face
305A screech of "sits"
306 The mud, the mud, the mud
307 Of course, it's mine, I know that
308 They will remove your eyelids, cut off your toes
309 The town has fallen
310 We could be cows
311 My dog is conspiring. The cat makes him do it
312 I drove beneath the limit, trying to stay with her a little longer
313 In an Italian restaurant in Windsor
314 When pizza was still special
315 She fired and went to the bathroom
316 It's sweet, soft, and quite deadly
317 Sweeping time into a corner, vacuuming it up 


How does that work, eh?

You post twelve pieces, and you had missed one,
the weakest, which then ends up the first one people read.

A word on flash-blasting.

It's not about the single flash.

It's about the body of work, the undoing of the gate, the change in sensibility, the production of 30-50 first drafts (remember these are as-were straight off the hot keyboard drafts)

And usually you will see (in any author that aims for maximum) a subtle change in the quality towards the middle of the period, followed by a dip and often a brilliant piece about day 20-25

Friday, October 03, 2014

Flash 12 (6) The Last Fat Huddlestone

I missed one!

So far 12 pieces in 2.1 days.

This one was about ni=umber 6

The Last Fat Huddlestone

My dearest, darling, my dear Daphne, please sit down, I have a confession to make. 


My love? My love, are you listening? OK, finish the packet.

You are very large, Daphne. Very, very, large. You are a mountain of flesh. I am not.

In case you haven’t noticed, my love, I am trim, I am svelte, I am worked-out, I have 8% body-fat, I am the man. And I love you, and you love me, and size doesn’t matter and it’s inner beauty, blah-dee, blah-dee, blah.

I need to show you a picture. This is my father, his father, and his father's father's father - the sofa was specially made by Armstrong & Armstrong of Sheffield. Now that is fat. That is an Andes of fat, that is a Himalaya. That is big, big, and big on big.

When I was five years old and hit two hundred pounds, they let me sit on the family sofa for the first time. Great-great-great grandfather Hiram was dead by then, so it was just the four Huddlestones, back as far as my great granddad Billy.  I was so proud to be big, Daphne, because big was what Huddlestones did, big was the place, big was sexy, big was celebrity.

And, as a good Huddlestone lad, I grew older, fuller, fatter. I was three hundred pounds at eleven, twice that at twenty. When we met at Sheffield Polytechnic I was 657 pounds and you couldn’t even make 400.

And we fell for each other.

That’s the fat world. You take what you can get. You and I, Daphne, we were the human equivalent of two very large Labradors. No food escaped, many non-foods were ingested.

Then I had the accident.

I remember when I woke. For a while I didn't think I was me. I remember, waking in that reinforced bed, looking down at my enormity and thinking I had been kidnapped and put into some horrible experiment, my brain swapped into a fat man’s body and where was I, who was me?

I remember when they weighed me and the doctor started, “Five…” and I said, “Pardon?” I remember how the flesh just flowed away. Gargantuan became a memory and after a norm of obese I became just big, then one day someone said, “Hey!” (A nurse from Spalding, cute little thing…)

It will probably surprise you, but I like it, Daphne, thin. I like not being an oil-tanker, I like running up stairs, I like lightness.

Yes, there was the excess skin issue, but after the operation, we had to admit that it was hard to believe I’d ever been a big boy. I was a cool 180 Pounds, and that was when you clicked into gear.

Have you looked in a mirror lately, Daphne? Daff, you take up the whole of the Armstrong sofa. You cause eclipses, Daff. You’re a little bit big.

Let us confront ourselves, D. Let us face facts, tell the truth, say it like it is, call a spade a a spade, a whale Cetacean.

Yes, I left the party, and yes, I wasn't alone. I’m sorry. This is the new me, Daphne.

As far as we know this me is the last one on earth, this life may be my only shot. It's about time we told ourselves and each other, the truth. While you eat your second bucket of KFC chicken legs (for an appetiser) I am contemplating my Wednesday half-cup of pea and ham soup. While you are calling the Royal Engineers out to go to the bathroom, I’m doing laps at Meadowhall Stadium. I think we have become incompatible.

Now is the winter of or something, Daff. It is time to get off the bus, time to head west. I am thin. I don’t like fat any more

Ignorant, did you say? It takes effort to be this ignorant, D, just like it took effort to take off thirty layers of weight. But here is where I am. I am not “jolly”. I am not “fun”. I am “fin” and I like it in here.

691 Words

Flash 11: Circles


I am in my parents' room and they are dead. Mother took something and left a note, “I am poisoned.” Dad cut his wrists and tried to cut his throat. They are an old, un-pretty Romeo & Juliet, and I am now alone.

How does something like this impinge? Dad’s phone call, his “Sorry Son,” hit me like a hammer, I just knew. Like a gunshot scattering birds and leaves
 and shaking time. “Dad, don’t,” I said, but the line was already burring.

I sometimes talk about my funeral. I have asked for half a dozen nuns on bikes, riding around like penguins in The Great Escape. I want everyone to dress like chickens and send me out to a Karaoke rendition of The Birdy Song. I also want The Trawsfynnydd Male Voice Choir singing Myfanwy and I wouldn’t mind Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah.
Well, not Jeff Buckley, but you know what I mean.

On Mum’s right hand is the black scar, how this all started, just one day too many at the beach. On the other hand, a ring, her wedding band. For some reason I will never know, the diamond engagement ring is on the bedside table.

I really don’t know what to do, right now. I don’t know whether to stay with Mum & Dad or go downstairs. If I go downstairs, how do I pass the time? Can I watch TV? Can I read a book? Is there some kind of etiquette to follow when your mother and father are upstairs, dead as glass?

This is why I’m talking to you, Rachel – to do something – to wait – to not be watching TV or flicking pages while the paramedics get here as fast as they can. No, they are really dead, Raich. They’re white and ugly, beyond anything.

Did I ever tell you, Dad and I played soldiers in this garden. I mean, when I was little. We planned campaigns, made stores, climbed to vantage points and spotted the enemy through binoculars. When Mum called us in for tea Dad would stop and say, “Tomorrow, Corporal. Tomorrow we march!” We never did. I had the memory of a butterfly.

The garden’s not as nice as back then. You can see how Dad drove the mower round in ever-decreasing circles, every time an inch or so closer to the middle. There’s ten feet of meadow-grass all round now and brambles are slyly edging toward the potatoes.

The little wood we have seems smaller; ragged and scarred as if there’s been a battle there and it’s still recovering. In one tree there’s still the wood platform of my observation post.
I’m going to cover them up. They told me not to, but I need to do it. I’ll put a sheet over them, white linen, like Christ. If they want to arrest me, they can fucking arrest me.

I appreciate that, Raich. I know it never happened for us, I know –
Sorry, I mean never lasted.
I know it didn’t last (I wanted it to, Raich) but there was nobody else I would call. Thanks for this, I’m not doing all that well, you know?

Did you know I kept General Astley? No, really. For the bad nights when you were away
 (well, all the time now, hah-ha). He’s not the brightest dog but he pretends to love me. It seems my circle of friends gets smaller and smaller. Like dad on his tractor, never getting to the edge.

They really should be here by now. Where are they? The police too, yes. Officially it’s a suspicious death and they’ll want to talk to me. Could you come over? I’m not sure I’ll hold up.


No, it will mean nothing. I just need you for a short while. When the police have gone, when they’ve taken Mum and dad away, I just want you to hold me, and when the shaking stops, kiss me.

654 Words

Flash 10: Catwalk


When you are old and grey and full of cancer, when you're nodding off, senile, when you are thinking of Napoleonwhen, briefly you remember books. Then, as that last light in your eyes leaves you, I want you to remember. I want you to realise how much I am gone from you, how far I went, all that I achieved.

I want you to remember, two girls laughing, on at Earls Court, getting off at Paddington, and the slightly older man, with the guitar on his shoulder, who saw in both of you that extra light, that lift in the spirit of woman and frowned at you both when you disparaged it.

You were both beautiful, Sandra was unbelievable, but what attracted me to you was the heft of you, the mental weight, the way you knew, the way, no matter how many years you might waste, knew you would achieve.

It is so true that love is wasted on the young. I remember it all. I loved you in Paris, but you told me, “Let's not mention being in love. Pretend we don't like each other.” You said the sex would be better that way.

I lost you in Berlin.

I have been gone two weeks. It's looking much clearer now, fourteen days in. I’m not drinking, I’m working out, I’ve thrown away the phone. I’m re-starting. I’m on the fast-track to something special. I will get there – I have to. I have to know you saw me flying. I have to know you ache, and that when you try to dine out on us, dropping my name, nobody believes you.

You snubbed me so many times. You left me hopeless, suffocating beside the dance floor, left me crying as you went through Passport Control, left me, left me, left me, to beat a jealous bloody fist against a wall as you walked away with some guy, a guy you didn’t care for, a guy you would never see again.

You left me, staring at a hole in the world, invisible, except to me. You left me to watch your fading glow, your shine and your shadow, the light-dark, happy-sad brightness like the sun gleaming behind the executioner’s head.

Just remember, remember as you strut your stuff, my love, as Armanis drift in and drift out of your circle, as you turn your perfect cheek, and as you vaguely remember David , David Whatsisname.

Remember. And when the mood takes you, try coming to me in a dream, yours, or mine. Come to me on tip-toe, whispering gently as you whispered to me in Paris and I told you what was going to be.

Just remember, remember this letter. Then fuck off.

 454 Words

Flash 09: 04:00


I wake alone to noises from the square. People I don’t know are setting up the market. It’s 4 AM. The light outside is soft neon and already the stalls are laid out with rows of orange, red, green.

I can’t go back to sleep. At ten after four I am boiling cabbage for the dogs, flicking through a poetry book, and for no sane reason trying to think why it ever was a parliament of crows. A what?

I feel old and fat. I haven’t had a drink for a month, I haven’t eaten out, I’ve walked and ran every day, but every day, like today, the scales ping into life and the line goes round to “ancient.” Nothing moves.

I want to start my life again. OK, this one may be a short one, but I need to be alive, to feel alive, find love again, be in love again, want someone just for love itself, not the dark call of sex, but just being, feeling, wanting.

This is dying, I think – a kind of dying. I would rather be sad, feel lonely, feel empty, feel unfulfilled, but instead I just find the days too full, too duty-bound, too prescribed, too quickly slid away under the boat.

I do not need to look in the mirror. My was is fog now, invisible, so my am struggles to be different, a beard, lamb-chops, the hair already shoulder-length. I am becoming someone else. I will be old, strange, eccentric, a character. I am building towards the man who pretends he wants to be alone.

I am going to be a virgin, a loner, different. He’s a poet, isn’t he? Didn’t his family die in a plane crash? He was in prison in Turkey – never got over it. Always has a book in his hand – free coffee in Waitrose, makes it last two hours. No, harmless, I think.

I take a photograph every day. A “selfie”. I record the death of was, the many births of is. I read books about how the present doesn’t exist but is only the border, the instant between two edges of past and future.

The camera lies like a watch salesman in Teguise. There is a man in there, shaggy, a cauliflower of white hair erupting below each ear, eyes dull-whited but staring, a chain-sawed Santa. A Fucking Weirdo.

I would like to buy a tank, go to Patagonia, get a poem in The Guardian, volunteer for Mars, have one last suicidal, magisterial fuck, but I am boiling cabbage.
Focus! Focus! Focus!

I turn down the cooking, curse the weighing scales. No, really, I need the gym. No really, I need the dark call of a woman. No, really, I need a shag. No, really, I need you to take your fucking jackboot off the pale throat of my dreams and let me fucking live again.

I want someone to think I am worth it. I want someone to take a punt. I want to matter, just for a week or so. I want you, you, whoever you are, and wake to your scent, and want to make love to you but know that it’s good even if we don’t.

534 Words

Flash 08: The Battle of Newbury

The Battle of Newbury

I shouldn’t have, but I blurted it out, Dead is, well, DEAD, June.
You think everything’s a damn joke, she said. Life is not a joke.
Though it may be a riddle, I said, wearing my serious face.
Don’t! she said.
We could build a monument, I said. Put up a plaque…

Now that sex was off the menu for at least a month, I took the dogs out, up to Greenham Common (lots of places for a surreptitious, no-need-for-a-bag shit, the dogs, the dogs!)

It was as it always is - is since the peace Camp finally fucked off, anyway - various dogs, various frumpy walkers, the odd twatty biker with a Go-Pro camera on his head and Lycra squeezing his balls.

There were US nuclear missiles here until not so long ago; before that giant aircraft, before that soldiers, and before that men being lined up for slaughter on D-Day.

Before that there was a prison camp here, and for a few hundred years before that it was actually grazed for a while, and before that Cromwell’s army somehow scuttled away across this common heading for London via Aldermaston when Charles really should have finished it at The First Battle of Newbury.

What I was trying to say to June was, the hand that rocked the cradle etc… I mean, Jesus, H, her grandmother was ninety-seven and counting. Was she supposed to stay around for ever?

It’s not that I try to wind her up, it’s just that I get so fucking bored. A menopausal house is not a happy place. I need something to happen, for God’s sake, something.

I am thinking of skipping, getting out of here. I might stow away in the wheel-well of a 747 and try to make it to Peru. Yes, I know I will probably die. So? I need to be in a world where the big event of the day is not someone’s migraine. I need to be in a place where there isn’t a shopping channel. I need passion!

Samson has bolted. He saw a squirrel. Why he does this I have no idea. The squirrel is the already other side of the tree and heading north before Samson has even registered it. Still, it’s exercise, I guess, and at least he’s not rolling in fox shit.

I’ll go out this afternoon, down to Joe’s Diner for something illicit - crusty cobs, butter, ham, slice of tomato, a big mug of tea, two sugars. Joe is OK. Not bright, but OK, and he likes Chelsea, so he has a good side (on top of the cobs.)

Charles had Prince Rupert on his side, a big geezer, good-looking, Dutch I think, a real pro. He was so pissed when Charlie bottled it and let the other side slide away. He chased after them across here, caught them just past Brimpton, charged in and blew up their ammunition. See, Charles was basically menopausal, and I’m a Rupert. I need a war.

506 Words

Please Note

I've decided just to post my Flashes, Stories, the occasional "poem".

As for my "poetry" I don't profess to be a poet (though, somehow I've won a couple of poetry comps) but sometimes, getting something out keeps the momentum going.

When "blasting", the single, individual, current flash/story/poem is not the point, the PROCESS is, the cumulative effect of writing a lot, fast, and moving on.

Usually, every blast we will get a lot of publishable stuff, but almost every Boot Camper finds (usually about 2/3 of the way through) that they suddenly produce 1-2-3 cracking stories.


Blast 07: Being Frank

Being Frank

Some things don't come with endings, some things come back 
On themselves, some peter out. Maybe you’re a Mobius strip?

Get up, get dressed, take another shot at it. You will feel better after.
There are, of course, other alternatives: become a river, sky, tree or

Stay in bed, get up tomorrow. Maybe. We can't do everything. Try
An unread book. Grow bonsai, learn to spell difficult words.

Consider the philosophy of waste disposal, join the Open University. Ask 
Yourself, “Is anything as pointless as a four-hundred year-old turtle?”

Now consider your answer if you were a turtle 
(Or liked very old meat.)

What is the point of grapes, rotting on the vine? 
Have you tasted beerenauslese?

You ever wonder what was Wittgenstein's idea of a good night out?
Ever looked at a clitoris?

Anyway, Frank, we are thinking of trying freedom, the rest of us, but, hey, 
You want to stay in bed, stay in bed. You’re tired, we get it.

Ok, this is unfinished, but the wall won’t be there forever, Frank. 
It won’t always be jackboots. There will be days full of light and music.

Flash 06: Flowered Curtains

Flowered Curtains

We sit in the dark, listening to the rain, the sound of raindrops on tin, the fatter sound against the windows, against the door.

I know the curtains are flowered. They are old, old, old. You do not want me to speak, don’t want the light on. You are lit only by a tiny green planet, the stand-by light on the TV.

We are not answering the phone, you have begged me for silence. While you can, you said, you want to be quiet, remember other sounds, older sounds, softer, less shrill - the music of a mountain stream, the rise and fall of morning birds.

You must have reached out for me: I feel your wasted hand on mine. You speak and you ask me to talk about nice things. When I draw in a breath you say, “Son, be nice. Really, John, it’s about how you say it, about peace.

I think of towns I have visited, places I stayed. How I left this old woman when she wasn’t so old, but was already drying out, when she thought in too slow a way for me, walked too easily, wanted less than I needed.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.

I like skies, Mum, but not all skies. I like sunlight on a perfect lawn. I like how night falls and silence comes to the farm, when even the animals know to be quiet.

I need to leave but it’s impossible. I need to run, to go to the gym. I want to count stairs, steps, calories, feel endorphins rise up through. I want to pummel, pummel, pummel. I am a poor son, a bad son.

I like Kingfishers, not blue, not green, a petrol colour. I like that they are only there for a second or a second and a half but they could only be Kingfishers.

I’m thinking about Jennifer, how I step so carefully like an insect on water. 

“Lamb” my mother says.

A good dog, potatoes fresh from the ground, gravy, mint-sauce, roses, poppies.

Don’t let Jennifer go, John…

Cabbage cooked with bicarb, peas, the lamb fat shining in the gravy.


Yes, Mum. Me at the gates of school, my shirt so starched it clacked. Sandstone, village fetes, apples floating in water, candy-floss, fluffy slippers.

Thank you, Son.

The river leaves us. Somewhere there is a playground for the dead. Frank is waiting. He wears his poppy, he wears his best grey suit. He doesn't limp, he isn’t coughing.

It dazzles, Son.

No, Mum, nothing should dazzle us

Now I am thinking about my mother. She wants to float over rooftops. Someone tell her to stop.

447 Words

Blast 5: The Square

The Square

There are two kebab vans 
outside and the late, late nights 
are noisy, violent, and smelling 
of dubious meats. 

It’s a Wednesday night 
so one a.m. is late enough: 
the fat girls 
have all gone home, 
the bikers 
have biked, 
the square 
is pocked with the yellow slugs of discarded vegetables, 
and in an hour or two I may be able to sleep. 
A white police car slides through.

Yes, I still believe in love - 
what we take for love, 
what we take. 

When I am in love 
I am tail-wagging happy, 
as happy as a double-dicked dog. 

This is me para-sailing.

Flash 04: Wrong


The sea is dark. One of the generators is struggling, then stops, the lights fail. There are loud curses, the flash of torches, then the sound of the back-up, cold, old, chunking into life, coughing, pistons banging, then another oath, then more sharp blue light.

I am sitting in a chair. I am wrapped in a red blanket. They want me to go, but I can’t. Not yet.

Jenny was laughing this morning. You would so like to know what I do when you are out fishing. Do we have any AA batteries? Jenny was laughing this morning.

It’s the hitchhiker makes it worse. Why should that be? Where does, “That’s not supposed to happen” come into things? Do people on planes think, “No, this is wrong.”?

A Gap Year, she said. She wasn’t even nineteen. She was into saving the planet, said we should all spend a day as a plastic bag. When I said why would anyone do that she answered tuna, dolphins, turtles, we are choking the poor fuckers!

I was trying to get home before the kids went to bed. She could come too I said, we had a spare room, and I’d drop her somewhere tomorrow. She said it was going to piss down tomorrow. I said well it’s not exactly nice tonight is it?

She was squatting at the side of the road, had a card with THE SEA on it. Later she said she liked sofas, tiramisu, being in love, cinema. When she went back home she always had a date night with her dad, Pizza Express followed by Vue. He liked war films, she was into rom-coms. They took turns. She had a soft, warm voice, so soft and accepting it was like she had never known pain. When she said sofa she did it slowly, Soh-FAH.

Jenny II is still upside down, slapping, its white rump somehow obscene. I am here, ashore, alive, but I have no idea how.

She was wafer over cornet, strawberry not vanilla. She was going to Lesotho to help build wells. People like that don’t drown. People like that don’t just STOP because they blagged a lift, then thought it would be cool to go out on the water.

They’ve got the hull caught up now. They are getting the crane down and setting things up. I feel so cold, so fucking useless.

My head is in my hands. I am trying to remember stuff, woodwork classes, chisels, planes, shellac, tables, solid things. I can’t imagine I’ll ever go out again. I cannot contemplate talking to a man who likes war films.

I really don’t get the randomness. Me, fine. I fish, there’s a risk, but a kid, a girl?

My mother would have said, “We have been called to table. It is how it is. We are small and can never hope to understand.”

But fuck that, it’s just wrong. Not this kid.

My head is in my hands. They will lift the Jenny soon. Then I hear a voice, a soft, warm voice, soft, accepting. “Hey you, can we have a little more light in here?”

525 Words

Flash 03: Profile

Flash 03


Once, when I left a wife for a swirl of cotton, I told a friend that one day I would live alone in a dumb apartment in an old, ugly town.

I made it!

There are two kebab vans outside and the late, late nights are noisy, violent, and smelling of dubious meats. It’s a Wednesday night so one a.m. is late enough: the fat girls have all gone home, the bikers have biked, the square is pocked with the yellow slugs of discarded vegetables, and in an hour or two I may be able to sleep. A white police car slides through.

Yes, I still believe in love - what we take for love, what we take. When I am in love I am tail-wagging happy, as happy as a double-dicked dog. This is me para-sailing.

I have no baggage. (It’s arriving tomorrow on a truck.) Love me, love my hyperbole, the bigger the better, as big as a mountain, shiny as the Twin Towers. Yes, I am reliable. I am as reliable as an IKEA Bookcase. I would prefer to start with coffee, a lunch-time (easier to get away if it’s menopausally horrible.)

I believe there are things we will never see. I have been between, here, there and everywhere. I believe woman is full of sorrow, even when she thinks she's happy. My favourite nouns are banana and tyrant.

I have few qualifications but trained as a clown. When I was a boy I wanted to be a pirate. I like Lego. My favourite poem is “Do Not Go Gentle.”

I believe where there's a will there's a fucking argument. I contemplate my various deaths. I occasionally think of slaughter and I read about plagues.

This is one of the bad days. It's the emptiness, Wednesday is a hollow day. One of the fat girls has died black hair, black, black; black as a bat. She is the only person in the world worse off than me (see mountains, Twin Towers.)

I am getting back into shape. (The gym is somewhere to go.) Wednesdays is the fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit. I don’t date on Thursdays. I tend to shit a lot on Thursdays.

My favourite photograph is the one where there’s a skirt, a shirt on some shiny floor, the rubble before the war. I like the blind, denying optimism.

I wish I had been a miner. I wish I had been simpler. I wish a woman, Winceyette, bony, had made my snap every morning at four o’clock, and sent me off to the pit with my little tin. I wish I could look forward to the blackcurrant jam, the thin slices.

Sometimes I imagine I am in my hut in Merioneth. It is raining, raining, raining, but the anger doesn’t touch my little hut. I am a poet there, in Merioneth. I am aware that I suffer from a lack of moral fibre.

496 Words

Flash 02: Aftermath

Flash 02


I could switch off the lights and crawl under. I could pretend I will be able to sleep, pretend I don’t hear the noises loneliness makes, the pathetic echoes of my part-filled bed, pretend there are no shadows.

It is the aftermath of love that fascinates, the fat soot that falls upon the dulling fire, the dark after-musk, the taste of salt. Once, once she said her legs were happy, her arms were happy. Salt. No, she said, this is my satisfied face.

I remember the blood in her eyes, the way she said, “Wake up, do it again, again!” and now I am writing because I don’t know how not to see her face.

There should be a balance between lust and love, and love is the silent partner, overwhelmed when young, frustrated when older, cynical and dismissive when finally it gets its time in the light.

You think you are not making mistakes. Mistakes are for later, there’s all that time. But what you don’t know is how you are impregnated with various guilts, how you are stacking the odds, building quiet, invisible walls.

When was it you asked, “It's broken, isn't it?” We paid some woman £750 a day to pretend to fix things, £750 a day to tell us, yes, it’s as fucked as fucked gets. To be fair, she got us to pretend we were talking. There was a brief, mean joy to that, but I was thinking what we could have done with six thousand in cash - The Seychelles maybe, maybe a brief pretend fuck-fest while we imagined different people.

I have thought about a place in a guesthouse for the hard of hearing. On authority I now know I never listened, never heard.

In my new home I could wind up people, mouth obscenities and speak in tongues, tell women I want to come back next time as a lawn-mower and leave my mark.

She is seeing someone already. She will probably remarry. I will work my way through lists until, sighing, I will say, “Those women? I have known them all.”

Meanwhile she will ask me what she should do, and what am I doing? I will tell her, I repeat myself, I repeat myself, but I will offer no help. Best not to interfere.

387 Words

Flash 01: Danes

Flash 01


The phone isn't ringing; this is a good sound, listen. Pretend it’s late; pretend we’re together on the porch, a creaking rocking-chair each, we’re old, we still like each other. It’s a warm night, close. It would be heavy but there’s a breeze coming in off the sea. Hear the night insects.

You’re looking at me. I didn’t shave that morning and you tell me I’m letting myself go. I grunt. I want you to tell me something I don’t know. I want us to talk about the bitter-sweet accident that is us, still, and how we, I, stumbled and fell, and how there was a night way back when the phone didn’t ring and you didn’t leave me, that you were brave when everything looked dark.

I made a mistake. There are more eloquent ways to say this, but that’s all it is. I deserve nothing. It’s just that I see that old place, I see him and her, see us, I hear the night, feel the glass in my hand, smell jasmine, and look across at you and thank everything there is and ever was that you paused, that you changed your mind.

There is nothing I can say right now. Something is close to dying, and I know that if you leave it’s forever. Please breathe, slow down, wait.

You were the girl I loved when we were twelve. I waited on the hot copper roof of the church opposite, watching for your parents leaving. We would play Paul Anka and Ricky Valance 45s over and over on your Dansette. They cost 6s/8d, three for a pound. I wanted to tell you, Laura, that I loved you, but my chest was filled with terror and you were perfect, perfect, perfect.

Do you remember that man who had the two Great Danes? He walked them every day, always on their leads. They want to run but their hearts are too small - those big, beautiful dogs, staying close, imagining they were loved, being kept from killing themselves with joy. I know it’s not an excuse.

350 Words

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 12 (03-10) 20:30

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 12 (03-10) 20:30

269 All the things you are
270 Goody Goody
271 The Lady is a Tramp
272 Please Set Date & Time
273 This is Why I am Not Who You Think I am
274 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
275 The Nation's Favourite Vole Poems
276 Mink!
277 The View From the Bridge
278 Walkin' My baby Back Home
279 OK, but under protest
280 Hong Kong Hip-Hop
281 Yes, I'm bored. How did you guess?
282 Reading T S Eliot
283 Smoke Gets in Your eyes
284 The Beginner's Guide to Masturbation
285 Staying Alive
286 I've Got You Under My Skin
287 It's Good Being Dead
288 Mopeds and Scooters, Tiny Boys
289 Gargantuan
290 Whirlwind at Reading Station
291 Candle
292 Ting! Someone wants to play!

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 11 (03-10) 16:00

Thatcham Era October Blast Prompts 11 (03-10) 16:00

245 In my parents' room
246 As a gunshot scatters birds and leaves
247 For the bad nights when you are away
248 Tomorrow we march!
249 No matter, the dogs still love me
250 It's a ragged copse, still aching after war
251 On the other hand, a ring
252 I am poisoned
253 Fog, stinking of death
254 Dai lives by the reservoir, keeps mountain goats
255 I could go to Southern Ireland, find my tribe
256 Half a dozen nuns on bikes, like penguins in The Great Escape
257 Cover her in white linen
258 Message without its bottle
259 BYTE
260 Early that day, four armoured troop-carriers, a tank
261 Hold me, and when the shaking stops, kiss me
262 Claustrophobia
263 I am not impressed by the garden
264 All I did was walk to the corner shop for cigarettes
265 Missiles against a rag-assed tent
266 It must be time now, surely?
267 This feels like maybe the luck has run out
268 Pilgrimage to Alpha Centauri