CAMPING

April 15th, 2017

The young boy was on holiday with his parents. They were camping. A popular pastimes in the nineteen fifties. This year they were at Durdle Door, in an, apparently, endless field on top of the cliffs, just above the Door itself.

The weather was quite good, for a British summer, and the child was having a great time. He played on the beach, sometimes with other children, toured the shops with his parents, looked at places of interest and watched, with baited breath, the teenagers crawling along the narrow top of the Door.

Yes, as far as the boy was concerned, this was a really good holiday. That is it was good until the last day of their two week stay. The rain started falling early in the day and continued to fall all day and into the night. The wind began blowing a little before dusk and gained speed and ferocity as the sky darkened. The later it got the harder it blew.

The ex army tent shuddered and flapped with a noise like the crack of a whip. The child watched as his parents clung desperately to both wooden tent poles in an attempt to prevent breakage.

The boy tried to help, in these traumatic times, by pointing to a small leak in the roof and declaring, “there’s water coming in dad.” His father decided to check and abandoned his tent pole. As things turned out this proved to be a catastrophic error.

The wooden tent pole snapped like a gunshot and the tent collapse on all three of them. His father got them into the nineteen fifty Ford anglia then and went back for their bedding and whatever food he could find.

They settled into the car and barely ten minutes later two men with torches and large raincoats appeared and offered them hot cups of tea. When they had imbibed the most welcome beverage and devoured a biscuit or two, dad and the boy set off to return the cups. They walked through rows of devastated tents and wet people climbing into cars, vans and motorcycle sidecars not to mention those without vehicles hiding in their wrecked tents.

They found the large van with the men’s wives in the back with a small gas hob, a kettle and a huge teapot. The tired women were grateful for the return of the cups and waved goodbye to the man and boy when they returned to their car. As the three settled down, for what was left of the night, his father asked his mother if she was alright. She treated him to a hard stare and replied sharply, “yes I’m fine, but this is the last time I’m ever going camping.”

The Fossil

April 8th, 2017

The man, his wife, daughter and son were on holiday in Wales. That is South Wales, Merthyr Tydfil to be precise, they were visiting the mans cousin and discussing fossils.

“Fossils? The cousins husband asked, “there’s plenty of those near here.” The family exchanged looks of extreme interest and after a rather short and excited conversation they all decided to go fossil hunting. Immediately. It took barely five minutes to reach the farm gate, behind which lay a large number of interesting and freely available fossils. They were in the process of climbing over the aforementioned gate when to every ones surprise the landowner rode up on a horse. John, the cousins husband smiled and nodded at the man on horseback. “We’re just after a few of your fossils, if that’s alright,” he said in a friendly fashion.

The landowner smiled. “Of course, enjoy yourselves.” He waved his hand and rode on. The family finished climbing the gate and with a certain amount of relief began searching for fossils. It took ten or perhaps fifteen minutes of serious seekingĀ for the seven year old girl to find two pieces of stone with beautiful fossil leaves on them. Her three year old brother was not quite as successful, but he wasn’t really trying.
The mans daughter was very happy indeed and when she took them to school for show and tell she was ecstatic. At the end of the day all was good.
And so the story might have ended at that point, if, they had not returned two years later and dad had not made the mistake of saying, “yes you can have any fossil you want.” The girl wandered among the fossils for some time, searching diligently for something really interesting in the fossil department. At last the girl walked up to her father and announced, “dad. I’ve found the fossil I want.” He smiled and followed the nine year old to her prize.
The mans heart sank like a stone as he gazed at the fossil chosen by his daughter. After all, he thought, it wasn’t there two years ago. He stood in front of the rock and scratched his head. It was a metre high and almost as wide. He estimated it weighed a tonne or more.
It took him an awfully long time to explain to his daughter why this particular fossil would not fit in the boot of a mark tree cortina.

A KISS

April 1st, 2017

The family had been chatting happily when it occurred to the young lady to ask a question vaguely related to the conversation. She looked at her father, smiled, in a very mischevious fashion. “Dad?” she asked, “have you ever been kissed by a man?” He raised his eyebrows and stared at the ceiling for a brief moment while he thought about the question. He turned to his daughter and, with a look of total innocence, replied. “As a matter of fact I have been kissed by four men.” the mans family treated him to a, collective, dubious gaze. He ignored them and continued his explanation with a rather blank expression. “First there was my father and secondly your brother,” he said, looking at his daughter. “Then of course there was your husband who kissed me on the forehead for a laugh.” At this point his expression changed to one of resignation. “And of course I was kissed on the cheek by a docker.” There was a short pause while everyone absorbed this snippet of information. They laughed and paused again waiting for him to continue his explanation. The man held his hands palms up and said, “I agreed to pay him for a job that both of us knew he hadn’t really done.” He smiled. “I believe it made him very happy.” The family laughed, the man grinned and his daughter patted him on his bald head.

SEVENOAKS

March 17th, 2017

“I think we shall go to Sevenoaks today,” the dad said.The boy, whom this tale is about, grinned happily,for he knew he would walk in the forest and around the lake. If he could find a stick he would poke ferns and behead stinging nettles. Mum, dad and small boy packed drinks and sandwiches in a bag and climbed in to the car. After an uneventful journey they arrived at the forest. Dad parked in the car park, which was a patch of dirt with no bushes, grass or trees. The family wandered happily among the trees, gazed in awe at the gleaming surface of the lake, decapitated the odd stinging nettle and returned to their horseless carriage for sandwiches and tea. When he had finished his lunch the young boy looked about him and discovered a dead tree barely two metres, or in the parlance of the day a bit over six feet, distant. In it’s day the tree had grown a metre, that is a tad over three feet or yard, above the car park. This was at the edge of the forest and verily he desired to scale the dizzy heights of this example of fauna. He informed his parents of his intention and slipped off to find a path up to the tree of destiny. It took him only a minute to reach his goal. He gazed at the uppermost branches of the deceased tree. He was entranced and looked for footholds. He found some and immediately clambered up the trunk and onto a large branch. From the dizzying height of about a metre he looked at his parents, two metres below in the car park. As usual his father took a photograph and the boy rapidly became bored. He grinned at mum and dad and began bouncing up and down. Sadly, at this point, the fickle finger of fate struck and the ancient branch snapped dropping the boy two metres onto the gravelly car park. He cried his way to his mum with a grazed knee and a piece of forest rubbish which felt like a log stuck beneath his eyelid. However, with log removed, magic cream on his knee and a sweetie in his mouth he calmed down and they made their way home. Apparently the photograph still exists. Somewhere.

THE BOOK LAUNCH

March 8th, 2017

The old man was invited to the launch of Terry Pratchett’s last book The Shepherd’s Crown. He, his daughter, granddaughter and his daughters friend were going to spend the night in a small hotel after they had been to the launch. So naturally they met at the hotel and changed into the clothes they would wear on this interesting evening. They left the hotel and headed for the tube. The daughter dressed as the elf queen, the granddaughter as a Feegle which are small fiery pixies, the friend as Angua the werewolf guard and the old man as a priest of Om, He had considered being a vampire but he found that when he put the teeth in he could no longer speak. He wondered if his daughter might have preferred it.
As they crossed the road, near a coffee house, a female American patron sitting at a table commented, in a loud voice which could be heard at the far end of the road. “What a strange child.”
The man was tempted to reply that at least the child had manners. He refrained because they were out to enjoy their selves and his granddaughter was, indeed, wearing blue face paint, a red wig and a kilt.
They traveled on the underground where they met a man who was also going to the launch When they left the station they found the Waterstones easily. This was because there was a queue of people dressed as characters from the discworld novels. They joined the queue.
While they waited to go in, the spectacle of a large number of people dressed as witches, wizards, Igors, guards and of course Death, attracted interested tourists who wanted to know what was happening. Sadly most of them asked the old man. This was probably because he was wearing a fancy black coat and a top hat. Angua was interviewed by a Polish Radio reporter. This may have been because she was a good looking woman, dressed in a miniskirt, had yellow contact lenses and some beautiful tattoos.
They finally entered the building, obtained drinks and mingled. They took photographs and talked to the other guests. There were snacks and some very interesting conversations. the man had his photograph taken with Rincewind and guardsman fifteen.
At one point his daughter was interviewed by a reporter from the Evening Standard and the three of them had their photographs taken in front of a large copy of The Shepherd’s Crown.
Imagine, if you will, the mans surprise when the picture appeared the next day in the Evening Standard. Sadly he was unable to obtain a copy.
Unfortunately it was very, very hot and he needed to sit down but there weren’t many chairs for the two hundred people. His daughter confronted a man and insisted he get a chair for her aged father. He protested, she glared and he got a chair. Shortly afterwards the helpful man climbed onto the stage and delivered his speech. Later, when the books had been purchased, the mans daughter was still too embarrassed to ask the chair supplying celeb to sign their books.

Yes, it seems, every cloud has a lightening bolt to finish you off.

A SHORT BOAT TRIP

March 1st, 2017

The man, his wife and daughter were on holiday and part of it was at Clacton. They They met a few more members of their family and set off for the beach.

His brother-in-law had, thoughtfully, brought an inflatable dinghy and a rather large outboard motor with him. They conveyed the water transport, lunch, wet suits, life jackets and people to the beach and put the boat together. This was necessary because the vessel was equipped with a wooden floor.

When the inflatable was fully assembled and seaworthy the brother-in-law took it for a test run, at a very impressive turn of speed. He was after all the only one who knew anything about boats. He returned just as rapidly and, generously, invited the man for a ride. The man clambered into the boat and his broth-in-law told him to “hang on,” he looked around and seized the only thing available. The available thing was a piece of rope, less than a metre in length, attached to the bow. In reality it was more like a very thick piece of string. The boat and crew roared away from the beach and into the waves. The first dozen or so weren’t too bad but as they accelerated they hit a rather larger one with somewhat interesting results.

The man who, while desperately clinging to the rope, had unfortunately neglected to brace himself in any fashion at all. So when they hit the wave the boat rose very rapidly and just as quickly dropped of the end of the wave. This left the man floating in the air on the end of a piece of string, reminiscent of a helium balloon.

Sadly, as he weighed a million times more than a balloon filled with helium gas, he descended. Rapidly. He connected with the wooden floor just as it commenced rising on the next wave. After the unpleasant thud his brother-in-law slowed down and returned him to the arms of his wife and daughter. That evening, as they stood around the barbecue drinking beer, his brother-in-law told him just how funny he had looked flying above the dinghy clinging to a bit of string. The man nodded, “I bet I did,” he said. “Mind you I didn’t laugh too much when I hit that deck.” He rubbed his back carefully, sipped his beer and said “at least I didn’t fall overboard.” They all laughed, even the man.

Cruelty

February 1st, 2017

I was watching breakfast television this morning when I heard a woman say that some children have more taste buds on their tongues than others. Apparently this causes some children to not like certain vegetables, they demonstrated this by feeding the victims kale. The pained expressions on their little faces said it all. Then the EVIL woman said, and I quote, “if your child doesn’t like certain vegetables, keep feeding it to them and they will get to like it.” Sounds like child abuse to me, I mean to say kale is bad enough but the sadist said we should feed them Brussels sprouts. MY GOD, SPROUTS, Who in the entire universe could be that CRUEL.

REMEMBER REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

November 1st, 2016

The boy was about ten years old and he was looking forward to Guy Fawks night. In nineteen fifty seven Britain fireworks were only enjoyed once a year, along with a bonfire. Two weeks and a few odd days before fireworks night he accompanied his father to the tiny shop in Horchurch which normally sold toys but at this time of year it stocked an interesting selection of pyrotechnic supplies. They made their choice, which included some large rockets, roman candles, aeroplanes, jumping jacks, bangers and of course some pretty ones which sprayed coloured sparks into the air. The young chappies favourites were bangers, jumping jacks and aeroplanes. The aeroplanes had wings with opposite corners turned up and when lit went spinning into the air. However, before the fifth of November arrived he had dreamed up a fascinating idea for one of the large rockets. Some weeks earlier he had made a pair of wings from balsa wood and newspaper and he even persuaded his dad that attaching them to said rocket would prove interesting.
On the Saturday night nearest to the fifth the fire was lit beneath the Guy and when it was blazing brightly his father commenced lighting the fireworks.

Mum dad and urchin watched their display, and those of many neighbours, and then it was time to launch the “winged rocket.”

The boy slipped the rocket stick into the steel pipe embedded in the lawn. He looked at his father, who grinned, lit the blue touch paper and retired immediately. They both watched from a safe distance. The rocket fizzed and a jet of sparks rushed out, and continued to do so. They waited a short time and then the rocket slowly crept into the air. It rose to the height of three metres, tipped over, performed three, two metre diameter circles and exploded sending coloured sparks all over the garden.
The father looked at the boy and said, “I don’t think we’ll try that again,” and he grinned.

Drunken Hedgehogs

April 22nd, 2009

Sadly, I think, my monster friends need to relax and chill out, lest our fragile world descends into chaos and cannibalism.

While they are trying to sort themselves out and restore peace and tranquility, why don’t you try a little light reading with this week’s effort – drunken hedghogs.

You could try writing your own piece about these little critters.

Drunken Hedgehogs

The man sat in his living room reading an article in the newspaper. It was all to do with slug control using methods other than slug pellets.

His garden was plagued with the things, always chowing down on his vegitables, and he didn’t like using slug pellets as they were a little too harmful to more pleasant wildlife.

The article suggested beer traps. These were, it seemed, easy to construct. You simply filled an old yogurt pot with beer and pushed it into the earth so the slugs could get to the contents.

He decided to give it a try. After all is said and done, two or three pots of beer wouldn’t use all the can and he would drink the remander.

His garden wasn’t large so he placed just two pots in the soil, fairly close to his vegetables.

The following morning he was rewarded with two pots full of drowned slugs. He was ove joyed. Well, quite pleased, shall we say; and he repeated the proceedure for the next few days.

Then, disaster. He checked the traps one morning and found no slugs and no beer. What could have happened?

The next two days were the same. Even though he had covered the pots with pieces of stone.

He decided to try once more. So that evening at nightfall he set four traps instead of just two. Half an hour later he crept quietly into the garden with a torch to see if anything was happening.

One by one he inspected the traps. the first one was empty. He shone the light on the lasty one and there was the culprit lapping the beer from the pot and grunting quietly.

The man smiled down at the spikey little beer thief. ‘Well, well’, he murmered. ‘A hedgehog. I suppose you thought you’d wash down the slug banquet with a drop of beer..’

He laughed as he watched the little animal finish off the last of the beer and begin rooting around the vegetables, a little unsteadily, in search of either slugs or more beer.

Badgers

April 15th, 2009

As I am sure, you will remember Red Monster and I visited Green Monster, with the idea of cheering the timid monster up, which seemed to be working until Blue Monster arrived and tried to apologise for scaring Green in the first place. At this point there was a marked decrease in Green’s happiness field – people who follow the chaos theory will understand the term field here.

Quite how Blue managed to cause so much confussion with trying to be pleasant is something of a mystery to me.

My turn to apologise for going off at a tangent; please feast your eyes upon a story about badgers. I hope you enjoy it, you fortunate indigenous bipeds.

Try picking an endangered animal and writing about that for ten minutes.

Badgers

I was having a quiet conversation with my daughter one day upon the subject of badgers.

It was probably my fault as I had seen a badger pounding across the road as I was driving home from work, a touch on the late side of midnight, and mentioned it.

We were merrily discussing these interesting black and white mammals when I mentioned that I had never seen one up close.

‘Oh they’re really cute and friendly’, she said.

‘Really?’ I asked with a hint of disbelief. I was thinking of the chap on television who some years ago explained why antique badger tongs had once been essential for the preservation of ones’ hands. It seems that the animal in question has a very loose skin and if you were silly enough to sieze one by the scruff of its neck, with the intention of picking it up, it can twist its head round and make a serious attempt at biting your hand off at the wrist.

My daughter gave me an odd look. ‘Yes’ she answered ‘me and David used to feed them peanut butter sandwitches at the bottom of the garden.’

For a moment or two I was speechless. I didn’t even know that we had badgers living anywhere near our home. ‘Er, do you know how dangerous they can be?’ I asked

‘They were always freindly to us’ she replied with a mischevious grin. ‘They just eat the sandwitches, pushed each other round a bit and trotted off happily.’

Still at a lose for anything sensible to say, I made do with the first thing that came to mind. ‘I wondered why you and your brother used to eat all those peanut butter sandwiches when you were children.’

She giggled, ‘It was their favourite’

I decided it was time for the usual parental happiness damping comment, ‘I guess you were lucky not to catch T.B.’ I said in a serious manner.

She beamed at me, ‘We were inoculated, weren’t we?’

I dont know about you, but I just hate it when my children make me feel as stupid as I really am. The trouble is, the older I get, the more they seem to be able to do it.

It’s a real bummer, isn’t it?