Silly Saturday – How to be Fantastic on Facebook

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It’s hard to believe, but there are some people who are not on Facebook. Think of what they are missing. These are some of the things I have learnt from Facebook. Cats and dogs can get on together. Lots of people like cats, lots of people like dogs. Horses like visiting people in hospital. Baby pandas just wanna have fun. Walruses like sleeping on submarines.

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You can also learn about people on Facebook, what they are eating at the new restaurant or what got stolen from their van last night. You can even find out about people you actually know. In fact Facebook is the only way you will find out what your family are doing – if you can decipher the cryptic messages and pictures. Are they still stuck broken down on the motorway. Is that their Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy or their friend’s ? What on earth are they doing at Sheremetyevo International Airport?

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What do you post on Facebook? There is no need to bother catching up with emails and phone calls to numerous friends and relatives. If you want everyone to know your latest news just post an enigmatic message. ‘Another hot day on the Nullabor Plain.’ Soon you will be inundated with messages from long lost friends.

Hey hun, what’s up, didn’t the job in Northampton work out?

Or post an ultrasound picture of a black and white alien with the words ‘Tabitha is going to have a baby brother.’

Hugs hun, sooo pleased for you.

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But Facebook has more than one page to scroll down; if you are a writer you can have an author page, if you run your own business you can have a page promoting your fantastic products and services. The advantage is that everything on that page is yours, unlike the rest of Facebook, full of boring other people. The only drawback, probably no one is ever going to see it. But just in case anyone accidentally finds themselves at Your Page, make sure your profile picture is sophisticated and professional.

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https://www.facebook.com/Beachwriter/

Friday Flash Fiction – 600 – Nom de Plume

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Busy weekend away helping Sally’s aunt and uncle move house; we stopped for dinner at the motorway services on the way back. I still hadn’t written a word for my new writers’ group on Monday evening. Sally just laughed.

‘Rob, it’s not school, just tell them you didn’t have time, though you could write a whole book about this weekend.’

‘Yes… and if it got published would your aunt and uncle recognise themselves?’

‘Not if you changed the names.’

She continued leafing through some free magazine she had picked up, then pushed it to my side of the table.

‘Look, there’s a short story at the back, maybe you will get one of your short stories in a magazine one day.’

‘I am hoping to aim a little higher than some rubbish free magazine.’

I flicked back through the pages; there was actually an article written by a dog, looking for forever homes for his pals.

Lots of licks, Barney.

‘Oh please, spare me… ‘

‘Read the story Rob, maybe it’s good.’

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Protest

by Angelique Dubarry

 It started with a bumble bee and ended with the saving of a whale; thousands of signatures on the petition protesting to Sea Worlds in the USA for keeping Killer Whales in captivity. Saving The World from my computer was simple and addictive, till the day the door bell rang…

Hmm, it was quite a good story, our topic was The Internet – Good or Evil? Sally was busy playing with her phone, I slipped the magazine into my man bag. Nobody in my writers’ group would lower themselves to read this trashy magazine. What did Sally say about changing the names? No one would possibly know I had borrowed the story.

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On Monday evening there was a good turn out and it was a while before my turn. I read clearly and confidently, I was enjoying myself.

…till the day the door bell rang. I thought they were Mormons, two smart young men in suits.

‘Good morning Ma’am… Mrs Katherine Jones?… how are you today?’

I was taken aback they knew my name, but they were so polite and so American I stepped back and they stepped forward, into my house. On closer inspection their black badges did not mention Latter Day Saints and what they were saying did not make sense. ‘… home security…’

I thought they were selling burglar alarms; then they homed in to the extension where we keep the computer. Now their slick talking seemed to include the words ‘national security’.

I realised, when it was too late, I should not have offered them a cup of tea. When I was at the sink filling the kettle they disappeared, with the computer…

I looked up, the room was eerily silent, either they were totally absorbed, or they did not like my story. I stuttered, but managed to get to the end.

  ‘…but I don’t understand sergeant, what I have done wrong?’ I stammered.

 ‘Let’s hope your ‘38 degree’ friends can get you a good solicitor, one who will explain the extradition process.’

The tight lipped silence continued, I noticed the retired lady’s face reddening.

‘It’s okay Ruth, I’ll handle this’ said Giles, self appointed leader of the group. ‘Is this your own work Rob, or have you some explaining to do?’

How was I to know that Ruth Brown used Angelique Dubarry as her nom de plume? How was I to know that everybody recognised the story, because it had been short listed for the prestigious local arts festival competition last year.

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Special Feature – Understanding: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events- Contributors, Bernard Foong, Darlene Foster, Janet Gogerty and Debbie Harris

Understanding is an anthology of real life experiences. Sally Cronin is featuring all of the authors who contributed. I am included in today’s selection. The book is only 99p to download and the proceeds go to cancer research. If you are interested in other people’s lives – and aren’t we all – find out more.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Over the next two weeks I will be featuring the contributors to this anthology of true and significant events. Writers share intimate and life changing events in their lives with courage and honesty whilst inspiring others.

The proceeds from this anthology will be going to Cancer Research and it is a very worthy cause.

Here is the link to the previous post where you can also find the link to the first: Contributors part two

About the anthology

The following authors and bloggers answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more!

In the coming week I will feature the other authors in separate posts.

All proceeds will be…

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Fifty Shades of Away Grey

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Why would you paint a hotel battleship grey, inside and out; isn’t the idea to attract guests and customers not make them feel as if they are in prison? Perhaps the owners of The Swan, Alton, Hampshire got a job lot of grey paint.

Our two nights away in Hampshire started off in sunshine. Part of the plan ( the main part ) was to use up our tickets for Jane Austen’s house, the tickets lasted a year and we had only a few days left. If you ever buy tickets for any place and are delighted you have a whole year to revisit, it is guaranteed you will never return; even if you live in the same country, even if you have not been kidnapped for a year or overcome with disasters, you will not return. As the sunshine disappeared and the day became overcast and grey Cyberspouse asked if I had remembered the tickets. I hadn’t. Never mind, we would buy new tickets and make a contribution to a national and literary treasure.

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By the time we reached Alton the sky was heavy and grey and matched the hotel, this was our first view from the car park. Inside, all the decor was shades of grey, brightened only by a gloomy tartan carpet and pictures and lights. However, the staff were friendly and cheerful.

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Our room had a little sitting room with a small television screen and a tiny bedroom with a large TV screen. We were just in time to watch the Oxford Cambridge boat race, but the big screen would not work, lucky we had two TVs. This little sitting room could have been cosy, less like a prison cell,  in another colour scheme with better views,

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On the way out to explore we reported the broken television. When we returned they were just about to fix it; the second chap seemed to know what he was doing and after ripping it off the wall and repeated trips back and forth it was fixed.

When we went down for dinner the TV fixer showed us to our table. In fact he was on duty the whole time we were there, at the desk and everywhere and checked us out when we left.

Breakfast was okay, with orders freshly cooked, but an uninspiring breakfast bar with flasks for tea and coffee. On the second morning I asked if I could have a tea pot and that is what I got, no cup, no milk no extra hot water, back to the breakfast bar for that.

Jane Austen perhaps visited The Swan

..First mentioned in a rental document in 1499, the Swan hotel is an iconic building, set in the old market town of Alton. A tavern and hostelry, it was listed in 1674 as having 18 chambers, a parlour, kitchen, brewhouse, malthouse, old kitchen, and wine and beer cellars. It was further developed in 1777 to become the coaching inn you see today. The Swan would have been well known to famous local residents; author Jane Austen and naturalist Gilbert White. 

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Yes we did get to Chawton to visit Jane again and now we have a year’s tickets for her cottage and The Big House. The weather remained unremittingly grey for our stay, but we enjoyed our visit which you can read about next week. In the meantime here are some mellow and misty pictures of Chawton at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog

Read about last year’s visit here.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/visiting-jane/

What is the worst colour hotel you have been to? We once stayed at an Edinburgh hotel which was literally all tartan, we were definitely plaid out by the end of our visit. Candy pink would be too sickly, what colour would you paint a hotel?

 

Silly Saturday – Baz Fixes Brexit

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Few of you will remember Baz the Bad Blogger, most of his blogs sink without trace, his words not mine, I would not be so rude to a guest. His winning of the Unread Bloggers Award gave him a boost in confidence and perhaps drew the attention of the powers that be.  Today I am thrilled to be first to interview Baz since his sudden rise to fame. Let Baz tell his own story.

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Hello Baz, happy Saturday. Did you always have political aspirations?

Well I do sweat a lot.

Had you met members of the Royal Family before?

No thank goodness.

Would you call yourself a republican?

I do like a drink, real ale.

You don’t have to answer this question, but did you vote Leave or Remain in the 2016 referendum?

I didn’t bother voting, I had no idea what it was all about, still don’t.

So being neutral, neither Remainer nor Leaver, makes you the perfect candidate for the new position.

If you say so.

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I think we are all keen to hear how it came about that, after Her Majesty the Queen dissolved Parliament late on Sunday night, you became a member of the new parliament and were quickly appointed a minister by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.

Oh Charles you mean. I have to be modest here. Members of Parliament were to be chosen from among bloggers with the most Likes, but most of them didn’t want the job.

But to be chosen for The Cabinet as well, that was a surprise.

Not when Charles heard my Big Idea, Baz’s Big Idea he called it, wondered why no one had thought of it before.

Can you reveal it?

Weelll, do many people read this blog?

No, hardly any.

Okay then; this is my plan to please everybody. We leave the European Union as soon as possible, tomorrow… Leavers are happy. Then on Monday morning Europe joins us and Remainers are happy, not only are we still part of Europe, even better, Europe is part of us. The European Union will become part of the United Kingdom, The United Kingdom of Europe.

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Friday Flash Fiction 950 – Writer’s Retreat

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‘…yes, but I’m used to being on my own, with Giles away half the time and I rather like it now they have all left home…  I know Tammy won’t be popping in every week when I’m up there. That’s half the point. She won’t come round with the children anyway, while all the work is going on next door, because of their ears and lungs…  Yes it is that bad, that’s why I demanded they pay me compensation, enough to be away from home…  but it’s not as if I could join Giles in the Antarctic… No of course I can’t afford a luxury cruise; what you call my Victorian Villa is more of a millstone, always has been, like a hungry monster that constantly has to be fed…  We WERE thinking of downsizing till Dave and Debs got in first and sold next door for a fortune; no one is going to even look at our house while the foundations are being shaken. Yes Dave and Debs did say they had sold to a nice quiet family, a nice family who for some unearthly reason want to live underground…  and a wine cellar and entertainment room…  Oh they’ve started again, can you hear that awful thumping, that’s the pile driver. I almost wish the whole place would implode down into the Central Line. Do you think we could claim on their insurance if our house was swallowed by the London Underground?…  Northumberland…  I won’t be roughing it, there is an oil tank, just no electricity…  I won’t need to charge my phone, because there is no WiFi…  Pen and paper, like writers have always used. Long walks, fresh food and making a start on my new novel…  Well it was bad timing the car conking out, but that’s part of the adventure, go up on the train to Berwick-upon-Tweed, local bus to this farm and then the farmer take me the rest of the way…  Okay, love to Phil, yes I will, if he manages to Facetime tonight, not quite Shackleton, but it’s not easy communicating with a scientist at the South Pole, even if he is my husband.’

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I should have started ringing round the rest of the family, but packing was my priority if I was to get to Kings Cross Station in the morning with one manageable rucksack.

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Once the bus had dropped me off there was no turning back. I hoped it was the right farm gate I was standing by. I couldn’t even figure out how to open it, but just as I was wondering if the farm was occupied at all, a figure emerged from what I presumed must be the farm house. A voice hailed me, the only clue as to what sex the figure in green overalls might be. But when she strode up to the gate I was surprised to see a young woman with blond curls tied in a bunch and a huge baby bump. Already I was putting her into my novel. She introduced herself as Abby.

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After a cup of tea and home made scones, in a farmhouse kitchen straight out of the fifties, it was time to set off before it got dark. This was real life for sure. My home for a month had been a tenant farmer’s cottage, a tied cottage. The family had done it up to rent out and supplement their income. The land rover was more comfortable than you might expect, even though it did smell of damp dog and cow manure.

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So there I was, by the cosy light of an oil lamp, in front of a wood fire. Although it was spring, the nights up there were still cold. I have to confess Abby had already laid the fire earlier and got it going for me. She showed me the wood pile, the kindling, the oil tank that fuelled the Aga. Not that I was planning to do much cooking. There was no phone. I would not see anyone till next week when they popped in with more food supplies. Abby looked rather doubtful when she asked if I would be alright.

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I went to bed early. There were plenty of books in the house, how delightful to be Kindle free, but the evening felt long and I was tired after my journey and couldn’t muster the energy to start writing. It was so quiet, I hadn’t reckoned how much I would miss not being able to turn on the radio; still this was a good way get inside my character’s head.

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I woke up suddenly, in complete darkness, without any idea where I was. When I came to my senses I fumbled for my torch, but I had lost my bearings; the door and the window had disappeared. I felt an overwhelming longing for the intrusive street lights at home. All I could think to do was to feel my way outside, at least there would be moonlight. I stubbed my toes, banged my shins, nearly fell down the uneven wooden stairs. My watch was not luminous, I had no idea of the time without my phone to look at. I tried to picture the stairs in relation to the door. At last I felt the metal latch and heaved it up in panic.

There was no moon. The darkness was so thick you could slice it. The wonderful open fields that had surrounded me earlier had been replaced by dark nothingness and oppressive silence. With Giles this would have been an adventure, with a group of city friends it might have been a laugh. Alone it was turning into my worst nightmare.

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For more tales dark and light choose one of my selections of short stories.

 

Penny the Poet

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Today I have a new guest blogger, Penny the Poet

Penny is one of my local writer friends and we have both been going to the same writers’ group forever. Penny amuses, entertains and makes us think. She can say in a few words what most of us take thousands of words to say. ‘The Lesson’ reminds me of a folk ballad.

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   THE LESSON

I must believe that he, my son, was good

He never lied, nor spoke a bawdy word.

He’d sit against a tree in yonder wood

And whistle in response to every bird

That dared to sing its song to one so still

Then fly away up and around the trees,

Able to soar and swoop at its own will

To each and every place where no-one sees

The mating rituals which, when touched by spring

The birds delight in what each union brings.

 

My son was just like all the birds that fly

He’d spread his wings in haste to find a mate

Betrothed, which often he’d deny

Playing with fire until it was too late.

Each maid in spring with rosy cheeks

And breasts that rose and fell, filled him with lust

Succumb she would in days and not in weeks

His true love unaware he was unjust

Till when his elsewhere pleasures reached her ears

He burnt his fingers on her pain and thus her tears.

 

My son now lies beneath the oak

In yonder churchyard bathed in sun.

He begged forgiveness for he broke

His true love’s heart and was undone.

A maid now carries my son’s child.

Her father, spitting feathers killed

With arrow swift my son so wild.

Lustful, carefree and strong willed

He played with fire, his fingers burned.

No longer loved and lesson learned.

 

Penny Cull     2019

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Breaking News

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, speaking early this morning from Windsor Castle, has confirmed that following her dissolution of Parliament late on Sunday night, Her Majesty’s new government will be formed by choosing bloggers who have the most Likes. Bloggers must be citizens of the United Kingdom. Ministers of the cabinet will further be selected from among the new Members of Parliament by The Prince of Wales, who will choose those with the best comments.

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God Save The Queen

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