What do you do when things go wrong? Scream and breathe fire. Not actually go wrong in real life, just on WordPress; hang on, that is real life…
Happiness engineer says try a different browser,or at least that was the only part of the prompt email reply I understood, so here I am on the iPad missing my huge screen desktop where my real blog is stuck in a word document…. But I must remember my own mantra, widowed and in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, what’s the worst that could happen having problems with WordPress…. I’ll just keep doing test posts and try not to panic!
Many of us enjoy watching high tension police thriller series, such as Line of Duty, which we’re following at the moment. To keep up with impossible to follow plots, who to trust and to understand police lingo and initials, you can follow social media groups obsessed with interested in your favourite programmes. But would you like your own boring everyday life to be like that?
Okay boss, CHIS leaving the house now.
Stand by everyone, moving on foot, approaching OSS, passing OSS… masking up, at the HGS now. Exiting GG, can you confirm UHW?
Armed response unit stand down, I repeat stand down. CHIS is unarmed.
CHIS reaching into back pack, could be a burner phone, can we get a trace…
Approaching ROG, can we get a check on a white van ABC 123D…
CHIS has crossed road, heading north, repeat heading north, has made contact with masked person, can’t identify.
Entering building S. unit 7 follow …
Can’t follow, security guard on door, don’t want to draw attention…
How long have they been in there now?
Fifteen, exiting now with UHW, looks like the real thing this time, heading south, ARU hold back, too many PONIs around.
Following CHIS south west, confirm unarmed, no further contacts made… approaching HB…
Line of Shopping Facebook chat room – guide to police terms
CHIS – Covert Human Independent Shopper
OSS – One Stop Shop
HGS – Hand Gel Station
GG – GreenGrocers
UHW – Unidentified Hand Weapon
ROG – redorangegreen – traffic lights
Building S – Sainsbury
ARU – Armed Response Unit
PONI – Persons of no Interest
HB – Home Base
Recorded phone conversation of CHIS suspect
I’m off to the shops.
( Muffled ) Yes wrapped please, they’re for my neighbour, she loves a nice bouquet.
Oh I thought we had spaghetti… and a bottle of wine? I’ll have to carry it, not much room in my back pack.
I’m baaack, whew, very busy at the shops and strange, lots of police around, I couldn’t see anything happening.
Today I woke up excited as it is Saint George’s Day; Saint George is the patron Saint of England. Then I remembered nobody is quite sure why he is our saint, or what we are meant to do to celebrate. Fortunately it is also William Shakespeare’s birthday and we can all celebrate that. In honour of our great poet and playwright here is a not very good ballad I wrote years ago, still relevant…
From the molten depths of the Iceland peak
Many gathered to hear their lord speak.
‘Centuries under the mountain we’ve lain,
centuries passed since my brother was slain.
Now is the time to return to the isles;
my son must fly across the miles.
Now is the time to forgive and forget;
the wingless, cold creatures may need us yet.’
Now with the day longer than night,
the prince bade farewell to all at first light.
With heavy heart he heard them roar,
as up into the sky he soared;
sun glinting on scales, colours unreal;
emerald, indigo, turquoise and teal.
Below, icy peaks turned to ripples of green;
Many miles he flew before land was seen.
Crowds cheered to hear the outsider had won;
George Saint now the new mayor of London.
The whole of London he wanted to reach,
Embrace the millions in his speech.
‘Tomorrow we celebrate the greatest city on Earth,
Tomorrow we remember Shakespeare’s birth;
On the South Bank on St. Georges Day
We’ll celebrate London in a wonderful way.‘
George worked late that night in City Hall,
Plans for tomorrow, he reviewed them all;
At the Globe, a prize winning play
Written by young Annie Hathaway,
How the dragon rescued the beautiful maid
From forced marriage, kept her safe in his cave.
At Tate Modern, in the great turbine hall
Meeting the Dragon installation art for all.
From City Hall’s glass walls George looked out
As he left the building, descending round about.
Saw the shining city, Thames at low tide,
Alone by the river his heart filled with pride.
Beneath Tower Bridge saw a fiery glow,
Strange shape moving down below
On the river bank, heard a sighing,
Amazed, George saw a dragon lying.
No one in sight, down the narrow steps he trod,
Heart pounding, saw the giant head nod
In greeting, snorted flames and then it spoke
‘I have come to visit the wingless folk,
Whom do I have the honour to address?‘
His father had told him politeness will impress.
On hearing George’s name the dragon trembled,
But no fierce knight did this puny being resemble.
Misunderstandings soon swept away,
George and Dragon talked, soon it would be day.
Many thoughts tumbled inside George’s head,
The magnificent dragon must be sheltered and fed.
As dawn came at Tate Modern, the young artist paced,
His new creation could not fill this vast space.
Suddenly a long shadow fell upon the hall,
He heard the Mayor’s voice urgently call.
Turning he gazed up and up with awe,
Was the most wondrous creature he ever saw;
Though he trembled with fright he just had to gaze
As rainbow scales shone in the Sun’s first rays.
Together they planned how to care for their guest,
Vegetarian food was what he liked best;
That’s lucky quipped the artist, for my art installation
Is made entirely of fruit and vegetation.
As people swarmed to the South Bank that day,
From the Wheel to Tower Bridge, all the way;
Musicians, magicians, jugglers, living statues,
At the Festival Hall free concerts to choose.
On T.V. the Mayor promised finale at Tate Modern,
Broadcast to the nation, Londoners surged in.
Crowds made the Dragon nervous but he bravely stood his ground,
The Mayor stood beside him and spoke to all around.
‘Today London welcomes a visitor unique,
no city ever will enjoy such a week;
but first pray silence from everyone I ask
for I must perform a very solemn task.
On behalf of all England, new bonds let us forge,
Pray forgive us for your uncle’s slaying by the wicked knight Saint George.’
The Dragon’s voice enchanted all, with his speech urbane and witty,
The Mayor of London thanked him with the freedom of the city.
Each morning Londoners thrilled at the sight
Of the Dragon soaring gracefully in flight.
But not just for fun, he was on a mission
Reporting to George on the City’s condition.
Spotted Battersea power station derelict and sad
Had an idea to make George glad.
No fossil fuel needed at a dragon power station,
At Battersea restored, his flames could heat the nation.
At City Hall George held his press morning,
TV and papers full of dire warnings.
The Mayor refuted the wicked claims
That the Dragon’s father had issued the flames
That started the Great Fire of London.
‘I trust completely this fine dragon,
he wants to help us of his own free will
and his carbon footprint will be nill.’
Elections for Mayor of London take place on 6th May; as one of the candidates is Lord Binface, a self-proclaimed interplanetary space warrior, who has challenged both Boris Johnson and Theresa May in general elections, George Saint probably stands a good chance.
We never lived in Windsor, but the town, in the Royal County of Berkshire, was one of our favourite days out when we lived by Heathrow Airport. As the American tourist said ‘Why did they build a royal castle so close to the airport?’ – old joke. Along with many tourists and local families we enjoyed all it has to offer. ‘Long Walks in the Great Park’ – From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) The Long Walk measures 2.64 miles in length. But the Windsor Great Park extends far beyond what you can see from the castle.
Windsor also has a theatre, a swimming pool, good shopping and the River Thames. A foot bridge takes you over the river to Eton where the famous school is spread out as part of the little town. You can also take a peaceful walk along the riverside very different from the bustle on the Windsor side.
You can go by train from Waterloo and arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, or take the little line built for Queen Victoria, a one stop ride from Slough station ( direct line from Paddington ) which takes you into the heart of the designer shopping centre and exits opposite the castle.
Before the terrible castle fire in 1992 more of the castle grounds were free to the public to wander. We used to take our young children for a walk and show Australian visitors around. Under the archway, past the chapel, stroll up the hill. Our two year old once dashed into the guard room and was chased out by the guards. One side of the castle faces the town, but walk downhill to the river and the castle is high above you on a steep bank. When our daughter was a toddler she nearly gave a Japanese tourist a heart attack; he gasped in horror as she raced towards the turreted wall on the steep side of the grounds. She didn’t topple over, it was a safe height. Another time we peered through a gate and saw Princess Diana bring her two little boys out to watch the soldiers parading.
When we moved away from Heathrow we still visited Windsor on mini breaks to see our friends, usually staying at The Windsor Trooper, a great little old pub with bed and breakfast; bedrooms slightly crooked with sloping floors.
‘In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.’
Windsor Castle made the perfect setting for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, especially for the many of us who know Windsor well. The Duke apparently did not want a fuss and got his wish as the long miles of procession and crowd lined streets had to be scaled down to a ceremony within the castle precincts; a dignified walk down the hill with socially distanced military bands lined up with precision on the immaculate green.
The Band of the Grenadier Guards led the funeral procession and family members followed, Princess Anne in a long black coat and the men in morning suits. Following a coffin on foot seems dignified and respectful and it’s always good to see men smartly dressed. The Queen followed in her limousine.
I get nervous when I see The Queen walking unsteadily by herself, especially that day as she stepped out of her car and I wondered why she could not have formed a new bubble. Any other very elderly lady with strapping sons and grandsons would surely have been offered a strong arm to lean on. The Duke was her bubble, but she still has HMS Bubble, the loyal staff who have been on duty three weeks on three weeks off at the castle looking after the royal couple. Dog lovers will be glad to hear that The Queen, despite deciding a while ago not to breed or acquire any more dogs, has done what lots of people have in covid lockdown and acquired two puppies, a corgi and a dorgie, which she enjoys walking.
Inside the chapel were the regulation thirty guests and the emptiness perhaps enhanced the beautiful singing of the choir of four and the playing of the trumpeters. The royal family stuck by all the current funeral rules; we cannot compare their splendidly choregraphed event with bleak funerals at the local crem., livestreamed from one camera, but like other grieving widows The Queen sat by herself. After the service the family all strolled up the hill in the sunshine, ignoring the unnecessary fleet of cars lined up for them, though of course The Queen returned in her limousine. I like to think that once back in the royal apartments they all ripped off their masks and didn’t bother with social distancing!
Whether you watched the funeral avidly live on television and followed the highlights in the news later, or avoided all mention of it, there was more to the Duke of Edinburgh than most of us realised. The blanket comprehensive coverage of his life revealed a refugee from a broken home who saw real active service in the second world war. A life that did become privileged, but how many of us would want their whole life mapped out? Unlike lots of rich people he used his position to make a difference. He highlighted the plight of wildlife long before others were interested and created the Duke of Edinburgh Award to give ordinary teenagers the chance to take on all sorts of challenges. Those from a variety of countries who have spoken about meeting The Duke and how the award changed their lives will remember him and not the many politicians and world leaders who come and go.
Did you watch the funeral? Have you visited Windsor? Have you met any of the royal family?
When Lynne arrived at her bubble friend’s house for their morning coffee she was surprised to find Eleanor in a state of agitation.
‘Are you okay, the effects of the second jab?’
‘Yes, no… let me get the coffee and I’ll tell you my news.’
Lynne could not imagine what the news could be, not much happened in Covid times and certainly nothing to put her friend in such a state, but there was something different about the house. The usual vase of cut flowers on the hall stand had disappeared and so had the orchid on the window sill. As she followed Eleanor into the kitchen she was puzzled to see the cupboard door handles tied together with stout string.
‘Go and sit down Lynne, I’m just trying to remember where I put the coffee.’
‘Okay, I brought that jigsaw, I’ll put it on the dining room table.’
There was a strange crackling underfoot as Lynne walked into the dining room and she realised she was walking on plastic sheeting that covered the carpet. Eleanor hadn’t mentioned that she was going to have decorators in. The exquisite mahogany dining table, recently inherited from an aunt, was covered in a heavy duty plastic tablecloth, perhaps her friend was planning to do some messy crafts.
When Lynne moved into the usually elegant front room her confusion increased; it now seemed most likely her friend had been burgled. The fireplace looked bare, gone was the antique urn with its arrangement of dried flowers and the crystal vase Lynne had given her for Christmas was no longer on the windowsill. She glanced around the room and took in a bizarre scene. The glass cabinet had a heavy quilt secured round it and the occasional tables all had wodges of foam taped to their corners. The three piece suite was covered in throws that looked like they had come from Wilkos rather than John Lewis and there was no sign of the embroidered cushions.
Eleanor walked in with two scruffy looking mugs.
‘Sorry about the mugs, they’re the ones Anthony used to keep down at the allotment. I’ve packed all the bone china away. I’m afraid I didn’t have time to make a cake… well I have been baking, but not for us…’
Before any explanation was forthcoming there was the sound of frantic yapping and Eleanor went to open the back door for Covina, the little dog she had acquired from the dachshund rescue centre. The dog rushed into the room to greet Lynne.
‘You’re surely not moving house, Michael hasn’t persuaded you to go over there?’
‘Goodness no, I wouldn’t even go to that dreadful country on holiday; they’re coming back to England, out of the blue, arriving at Heathrow early afternoon. It seems they are allowed to quarantine with relatives, me.’
‘Oh that’s wonderful news, at last you’ll get to see the babies.’
‘Hardly babies, three and four now and if they are like Michael was at that age… my head spins just seeing them on Facetime. So I have taken a few precautions, I don’t want to be responsible for them ending up in A&E. Forty four years old and Michael still has that scar on his forehead from the fireplace at our first house. I was going to ask, you know you said you would love to have Covina to stay if I ever managed to go on holiday, do you think you could possibly have her now?’
‘Yes of course, though I’m sure the children would be gentle with her.’
‘I’m worried she might bite them; the charity did say she was best suited to a quiet home with an older person. I remember that time with my brother’s dog when Michael was three; it was his fault of course, shoving his hand in the dog’s mouth.’
‘Covina’s hardly a pit bull, but I suppose tiny fingers could be a worry. I shall enjoy having her.’
Eleanor kept looking nervously at the clock, she had the hands free house phone and her mobile by her side.
‘Relax you’re all organised, except… perhaps now the charity shops are open again you could get a few toys for them…’ she looked at the expression on Eleanor’s face ‘or maybe order on line.’
As if in answer to that suggestion they heard the door bell being rung frantically.
‘Ah that will be the Amazon parcels; Michael asked me to get some Lego sets for them.’
‘Aren’t they a bit young for Lego, choking hazards?’
‘Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that.’
Ten minutes later Eleanor had located the scissors she had hidden away and they manged to get the boxes open to reveal several brightly coloured Lego sets.
Eleanor examined the writing and pictures on the boxes.
‘Strange people and vehicles, but it seems only under threes choke, so that’s a relief. But really Lynne I’m getting too old for all this; you wait years to get some grandchildren, then they go abroad and then there’s a world wide pandemic and nobody gets to see their grandchildren…’
Two days later Lynne turned into Eleanor’s road on her way to the post office and was alarmed to see an ambulance outside Eleanor’s house. After all the precautions she wondered what mishap had befallen the precious grandchildren. She wasn’t being nosy, she had to walk that way anyway. As she got closer there was a further shock when she saw Eleanor on a stretcher being wheeled down the front path.
‘Oh Lynne, isn’t this embarrassing, Michael will tell you what happened.’
As her friend was loaded into the ambulance a frazzled looking man emerged from the front door with a wriggling, screeching child in his arms.
‘Nee Nah, Nee Nah, I want to go in the hambliance.’
The man’s voice was muffled through the child’s hair. ‘Nice to meet you Lynne, I hear you have been a great support, but we’re here now; just as well now this has happened.’
‘What did happen?’
‘I’m not exactly sure; Mother was tidying up all the mess in the dining room after breakfast and she stood on some Lego and slipped on the plastic sheeting.’
This could be one of the reasons ( muddy walks carrying little bags containing… ) why people who bought puppies during Lockdown are now getting fed up with them. Ironically, while shelters fill up with unwanted dogs, people who want to keep their pampered ( and expensive ) pets are having them stolen, because of the increasing demand for dogs during lockdown. If the dog thieves could be persuaded to only steal unwanted dogs…
Jamie tried to saunter into the house nonchalantly; his mother was in the kitchen, busy cooking, stirring something.
He opened the fridge and grabbed a can of coke and a hunk of cheese, his face hidden by the door as his mother turned away from the saucepan.
’Good day at school?’ his mother smiled.
Jamie used to hate those words, but now it was a novelty after the various lockdowns and home schooling; they were both glad when schools opened again.
His mother’s smile soon faded when he closed the fridge door.
‘Don’t eat too much, dinner’s nearly… Jamie, your face, what have you done?’
‘Chill Mother, everyone’s having it done…’
‘I don’t care about everyone else, what on earth will your father say?’
‘The swelling will go down in a couple of days… have we got any ibroo… paracetamol?’
‘Oh Jamie, it looks so painful.’
‘They gave us a local anaesthetic… I think it’s wearing off now.’
‘But why, why did you do it, I thought we discussed all this, you know it’s irreversible and how did you get it done without our consent?’
‘Malc knew a place.’
‘I might have guessed he would be involved; you didn’t have to go along with it, you know your father was totally against it.’
‘Like he’s an expert.’
‘He is a doctor.’
‘A gynaecologist, he doesn’t do heads… I’m going up to my room to see if it’s worked.’
‘Perhaps when you look in the mirror you will realise just what you have done…’
In his bedroom Jamie did not bother to look in the mirror but headed straight for the computer. He had soon logged in and found what he was looking for. He let out a whoop of excitement followed by a cry of shock as he realised moving his head was painful. But there it was, his history homework essay already saved as a word document. Jamie’s thoughts had been transmitted from the implant in his temple; his essay ‘written’ as he walked home with Mad Malc after their visit to Malc’s uncle’s clinic.
He peered closer, rubbing his eyes. How did that thought get into his essay. They had been told they would need to concentrate to get the best results. Oh well, his essay would sound quite intelligent if he deleted the banter with Malc and those other thoughts.
Jamie was tired the next morning, what with the grilling by his parents and them insisting on Facetiming with Aunty Surita, the brain surgeon. When he did get to bed he could only lie on one side. There was a bit of blood on the pillow, but when he looked in the mirror the bruising seemed to be the biggest problem. But hey, when he and Malc walked into school everyone was going to be so impressed.
Malc wasn’t at the school gates. Jamie’s phone buzzed, there was a message from Malc.’ Man my head really hurts, I’m staying in bed and how come your essay and everything else inside your idiotic brain has popped up on my phone?’
Jamie put his phone away, another one of Malc’s jokes no doubt.
If he wanted attention he was certainly getting it, even before he got to the hand gel station. His hand wandered to his face and he pulled his mask up higher, but the other kids were more interested in their phones than his face.
As he walked down the corridor everyone was calling out remarks.
‘Jamie Brainbox, we can read your mind.’
The girls were giggling and his form teacher was heading his way, calling out
‘Social distancing everybody… what IS going on? Distance, mask on…’
Alia came and stood loyally in front of Jamie, but her expression as she looked at his face told him he had not succeeded in impressing her.
‘God Jamie, what have you done, you look awful and your thoughts are being sent to everyone you know…’
…and welcome back to In Jerusalem Tonight. We are talking to the youngest brother of a man arrested just hours ago by the authorities. He claims his older brother is completely innocent, but what about his political involvement?
No, he is interested in people not politics; that is why the crowds are drawn to him.
But what is he really like, do the public see the real man?
Yes and no. We’re just an ordinary family and I guess you’d say my brother is a chip off the old block. A real carpenter; like our father he has a feel for the wood, for the rest of us it’s just a labour. He is most like our father; strange that some gossips still say our mother tricked him into marriage, when she was carrying another man’s child. Maybe it’s because he is the eldest, but he does have the same wisdom and compassion our father had; qualities that not many people possess.
You paint a picture of a warm, loving family, why do you think your brother nevermarried?
That’s a personal question only he could answer, but I think he knew he was never going to stay in the village. Travelling around, leaving a wife and family behind, he knew that would be wrong.
But he gets on well with women.
Yes he knows how to talk to them, as if they were equals, they appreciate that.
And yet in some ways he’s a loner.
I wouldn’t say that; he is a thinker, very deep. Most of us couldn’t take the solitary life, but he has the inner strength.
Would you describe him as highly intelligent?
Oh yes, it has always been a joke in our family that he held forth on theological matters when he was a child. But he never forgot how to talk to ordinary people. He was the perfect big brother; playing with us, making toys and of course he worships our mother.
So surely this is a man who will be able to talk his way out of this current little difficulty.
Yes, I’m sure he will see this is not the time to be humble.
As it is past noon in some places you know this story is true and not an April Fool
Her Majesty’s minister barely read the title of the document ‘Reursinement – Natural Culling’ before scanning the paragraphs…environmentally sustainable…ecological balance… and signing his name. His constituents and the Forestry Commission should be delighted, fewer complaints about car accidents, trampled gardens or ruined saplings.
Operation Goldilocks took place at night, the team quickly assessed their new environment; those experiencing freedom for the first time guided by the migrants from North Eastern Europe.
Nearby, a stag sniffed the night air and felt a primeval fear.
Days later the news headlines read ‘Walker Killed as Bears Introduced to Beauty Spot Without Public Consultation.