Friday Flash Fiction – 707 – Coffee Break

‘Claire, Claire, where are you?’

The back door flew open to reveal my husband dressed in his bright holiday shorts and business shirt and tie.

‘Where did you think I was, I told you we were going to fill up the paddling pool.’

‘Nice to be some…’ said Tom.

‘Come and join us later, surely you’re allowed a break?’

‘Depends how long the conference call goes on for, I just came to tell you we’re out of coffee.’

Covid had a lot to answer for, especially the idea of working from home.

‘Can’t you get it, I can’t leave the little ones with the water. Why don’t you have a cup of tea or a smoothie for now?’

Tom spluttered in disgust.

‘A green broccoli smoothie is not going to get me through that conference call… anyway you know what we always get.’

‘Okay, you stay out here and keep an eye on the hose and the children… and put your phone away.’ I dropped my voice and mouthed  ‘it only takes a minute for a child to  D.. R.. O..W.. N.’ then raised it ‘Oscaar… hose in the paddling pool not on Daddy.’

‘Don’t be long’ pleaded Tom.

‘Do you want the variety box, latte, expresso, americano…?

‘Yes, yes the biggest box they do.’

 I went upstairs, pausing on the landing to look out the window and make sure Tom had not forgotten he was in charge. The hose was now snaking out of control across the lawn. In my so called office I logged in to Coffee Zone, repeat order, multi pack, check delivery times… Yes, coffee would be here in time for his bloody conference call. What did they actually do on conference calls? Probably played X Box like my forty year young brother. I had no idea what Tom actually did at work when he went to the office every day and now he worked from home I was still none the wiser. Whatever he did he had been head hunted a couple of times and with the amount he got paid I didn’t mind spoiling him. My on line upcycling craft business hardly brought in enough to feed the dog and the cat.  

I looked at my watch, twenty minutes to get ready for the coffee. I dashed back into the garden.

‘Tom, where’s the dog?’

‘You only told me to look after the children.’

‘ZEUS, ZEuus…’

 I waved a packet of dog treats and Zeus bounded out of the herbaceous border, he was soon locked in the laundry. The children would be harder to get under control.

‘Ten minutes then indoors.’

‘But we haven’t done paddling yet.’

‘Why don’t you come in and watch Octonauts and have some parsnip crisps while the sun is warming the water. Then you can come back out after the coffee has arrived.’

With the children safely indoors I still had to find the cat, but there was no time to look. Hearing Zeus’ frantic barking I rushed back in and locked the door, the dog always heard it before me. Keeping watch through the patio door I saw a glint over the trees. 10.45am, exactly on time. The Coffee Zone Drone circled, I hoped it’s aim would be better this time. My stomach lurched as, too late, I saw a familiar black and white shape slink across the lawn then freeze as the warning siren started. The drone was higher than usual when its undercarriage opened, the large bright orange box dropped down onto the lawn, narrowly missing the paddling pool. I dashed out, but as I got close my mouth went dry. Sticking out from under the hefty box was a black tail. I knew from previous deliveries the box was too heavy to lift on my own and I was thankful to hear Tom’s voice. I turned to see him holding the cat and laughing.

He’s a quivering wreck, he doesn’t like drones does he?’

My relief was short lived, had we killed the neighbour’s cat?

‘Quick, lift the box.’

I closed my eyes. When I opened them Tom was holding up the squashed body of the shabby toy cat the children had insisted on buying from the charity shop.

FOR MORE SHORT STORIES OF ALL SORTS READ ONE OF MY COLLECTIONS

Friday Flash Fiction – Therapups

I had never heard of the charity Therapups, nor had Google, but one of my late aunt’s dog loving friends sent me the postal address. Aunty had requested no flowers for her funeral, just a donation to her favourite charity. I sent a small cheque and a brief letter with my address included, requesting the next copy of their newsletter, which was apparently going to feature a tribute to my aunt.

A week later I received a hefty envelope, almost a parcel, with a gushing letter thanking me for my generosity. The newsletter was to follow shortly, but in the meantime they were pleased to send me a Therapups key ring with dog whistle attached and one hundred biodegradable poop bags in a designer carry case; all in the distinctive charity colours puce pink and sunflower yellow. I don’t own a dog, but they weren’t to know that. Also included was a colourful booklet explaining the charity’s work; it seems they provided therapy and assistance dogs not covered by other better known charities.


I was quite impressed, Therapups gave every dog an opportunity to make a contribution whether they were a St. Bernard with shopping panniers or a handbag sized ball of fluff you cuddled to calm your nerves. The newsletter duly arrived and gave more enlightenment as to my aunt’s contribution; who would have guessed her knitting skills would have been put to such good use or her Aloe Vera plant stand at the annual fete so popular? It was even more of a surprise to learn that her bad tempered terrier mix, who drove the neighbours mad with his constant yapping, had been a ‘wonderful therapy dog whose sad passing at the age of nineteen left an unfillable gap in Thelma’s life, undoubtably leading to her untimely demise weeks later at the age of ninety nine.’

Enclosed with the dozen copies of the newsletter was a puce pink and sunflower yellow picture frame with an unflattering photo of Aunt Thelma surrounded by half a dozen very ugly puppies. I wrote once more to thank them and promised to pass the newsletters to the rest of the family, though what I would do with the remaining seven copies I had no idea.

A week later another parcel arrived with a dozen Therapup calendars and an apologetic note… ‘I know it’s May already, but hopefully we all need calendars now we’re on the roadmap to Covid Recovery.’ I did not get around to replying or hanging a calendar up; I got the impression from the pictures on the calendar that they took the dogs no other charity wanted.



I was surprised the next week to receive yet another parcel from Therapups, a strange pink and yellow object which turned out to be a folding water bowl. I gave it to a dog owning friend. It was barely a week later when another package arrived; a paperback biography of the founder of Therapups. By now the charity had spent more on postage alone than I had given them in the first place, but it wasn’t hard to guess that they were expecting more from me. Enclosed were direct debit forms for regular contributors and leaflets on their free will writing service. I put them all in the recycling bin; I had little prospect of much money, now or after my death. Friends had expected Aunt Thelma to leave me her run down, but valuable house. She left her house and possessions and £57.37 all to Therapups.
They were not put off by my lack of response and further gifts left me wondering if they thought I was in need of a therapy dog. I received a yellow and pink rug for my wheelchair and dachshund shaped herbal wheat bag for chronic pain. My latest gift is a cuddly sunflower yellow toy puppy, far more handsome than their real dogs and I have to confess he is rather a comfort and I even sneak him into work.

Sunday Short Story – Quarantine

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.’

Silly Saturday -Picking Pampered Pets

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…

Dog thieves can sneak away with your tiny pup without anyone noticing.
If you own a pangolin he’s even more likely to be stolen, so keep him on a lead.
WHY NOT CHOOSE A PET THAT NOBODY WANTS TO STEAL?
WHY NOT CHOOSE A PET THAT NOBODY WANTS TO STEAL?
How about a pet you can take to the beach to guard your towel and clothes AND is too big to steal.
PLACID PETS LOVE TO COME ON A PICNIC WITH YOU
WITH PATIENCE YOUR PET CAN BE TRAINED TO DO ALL SORTS OF THINGS.
IF YOU ARE BUYING A NEW PET, MAKE SURE YOUR GARDEN IS BIG ENOUGH
…and be careful if you are buying a pet on the internet…
Descriptions are not always accurate and you may not get what you were expecting.
Dogs are still people’s favourite pets and they conveniently come in different sizes.

Silly Saturday – Courting Controversy

Fed up with bad news and endless media discussions about That interview? You too can start your own lively debates on social media, you don’t have to be famous or important and you certainly don’t have to be clever. Here are some suggestions for Facebook, Instagram or wherever you like to waste your time; one picture or casual remark is guaranteed to get hundreds of comments, mostly negative.

Post a picture of the worst pub you can find in your area and ask what the food is like in there. Comments will flow about the time they had food poisoning while others will respond angrily and rave about the great atmosphere.

Name a popular restaurant in your area which is busy keeping everyone happy with home delivery take-aways and post a picture of the rat you saw scurrying out of their kitchen. This doesn’t have to be true, this is social media after all.

Post a completely innocent picture and relate the story told to you about your neighbour’s sister’s friend whose daughter was out walking her dog and saw someone suspicious talking to dog owners. Well done; you have started wildfire rumours that dognappers are targeting your town.

Tell everyone you are moving to the area and can they recommend a good doctors’ surgery.

We just had a new extension built by W. R. Ecking, we’re not too happy with the result, has anyone else had work done by them?

Post a picture of your dinner and wait for vegans and the ‘Save our Haggis Society’ to start arguing with meat lovers and issue you with death threats.

Silly Saturday – Covid Community Caring Characters – Interview no. 1

I may not be a medical person, but I can help those who are, make life easier for them. We’re only taking the children of key workers now, but we’ve extended our hours. They work long hours, so do we. My staff are super committed, they love their job.

Yes we are seeing a lot of anxiety among those we care for, they are sensitive to the tensions at home. They know life is not normal at present, we give them plenty of one-to-one attention. We give them individual balanced diets and plenty of fresh air and exercise. Our aim is to socialise them within their bubble groups and we have a full programme of activities and rest periods. They love the outdoor adventure playground and the indoor fun gym.

Yes we are fortunate to have this beautiful setting at Sunshine Valley. No not at all, the price reflects the cost of running an establishment like this, the high staff ratio and the excellent staff qualifications; but there is a discount for NHS. Well, all my employees are professional dog walkers and I have a degree in dog psychology. You can tell your listeners their Fur Babies will be totally safe with us at Sunny Valley Doggy Day Care.

A Tribute to Those That We Love – guest blog.

Today I welcome another of the occasional guest blogs written by my sister in Australia. This time she reflects on an unusual find near a country town in Western Australia.

A Tribute to Those That We Love   by Kate Doswell

It could be mistaken for the dog that sat on the tucker box, 5 miles from Gundagai, but instead, it was a dog sitting on a small concrete plinth, 5 km from Corrigin. Corrigin is a small wheatbelt town, population 800 or so, 230  km south east of Perth in Western Australia, and the  red kelpie dog immortalised in stone was guarding the entrance to the Corrigin dog cemetery. 

My visit to Corrigin was nothing to do with dogs, but I couldn’t resist stopping and having a look around. It was quite large and surprisingly well kept, considering it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. It was surrounded by the flat dun paddocks and the dry stubble of harvested crops, and only a blur on the skyline to suggest the presence of a town.

The ground around the graves was dry and sandy, with hardly any living green, but all the graves were well tended and each was utterly distinct. The owners of these beloved dogs had used imagination and care in designing the graves, and it gave some sense of the stories that lay behind their pets’ lives with the family, and there was no doubt they were family members and friends. 

A black poodle statue with surprised eyes sat on a bed of stones, and the plaque told me she had lived for 14 years. Poor Rusty had died the day after his 10th birthday, and his grave was a simple oblong, surrounded by the railings that I had often seen around human graves for those of a higher standing in the community. 

The one that touched me most was that of Dexter, who had a cross formed from bricks laid on a simple slab, with a clay scroll into which a child had carved “Dexter – A dog who is missed Heaps”.   It was sad to see a little stuffed puppy sitting on the grave as well, and I wondered if this had been Dexter’s favourite toy.

One dog’s family had improvised with a brass fire screen with a scene of Pointers out hunting.  There was no doubt that the image on the next grave was of the dog itself, a hand painted china plate with a picture of the dog and words telling of the wonderful companionship he had given for 15 years. 

There was even a multi-story grave that housed 3 successive dogs. Some people cannot face the idea of having another dog when the one they have loved for years dies, but I think most people recognise that each dog is loved for his or her own original personality.    A point for writers – one of my teachers firmly instructed me that the animals in my stories (usually – well OK –  always,  about dogs or horses) should be referred to as it, rather than he or she. I have never been able to comply, as I know they are living, breathing personalities who deserve to be recognised as such. Maybe there would be less cruelty if we could all see them in that way, rather than as objects or commodities.

Looking around this cemetery, there can be no doubt that many people see dogs as valuable and much loved members of our families; companions, helpers, protectors and comforters. This cemetery started as one man burying his dog in the 1970s, then others from Corrigin  joined him in laying their dogs to rest. Over the years it has attracted the interest of people from far afield who want a permanent memorial to their companion. So it isn’t just the people of Corrigin who feel so strongly about their animals, though this IS the town that set the record for the most number of “Dogs in Utes”  –  a parade of 1,527 utes ( Aussie abbreviation for utility,  any vehicle with an open cargo area at the rear, which would be called a pickup truck in other countries )  each with a barking, tail wagging dog in the back.    

We all have our own ways of remembering those that we love.  Personally, I have never felt the need to have something tangible to remind me of a loved one – I have lost 3 dogs, and each have been cremated.  I have never wanted an urn with their ashes in, though I understand and respect those that do.  With my last dog, a close friend came with me to the veterinary surgery for that final visit, as she had looked after my dog many times when I worked away and loved her as much as I did.  When they asked me if I wanted to keep the ashes, I shook my head, but as I did I noticed the look of dismay on her face.  “Would you like them?”  I asked her and she said yes.  I was happy for her to have them, I could think of no better person to keep them.  

I have recently lost my Mother.  She was 94 yrs old and she had lived close by for many years, so it was sad to have to say goodbye. This Sunday her ashes will be placed in the memorial garden at our church, next to my Father’s ashes.  There are no plaques, simply a book inside the church with the names of all those who are in the garden. When I think of my father, I don’t think of the garden, I think of the furniture he built, the advice he gave me, the funny things he said.  Likewise with my mother, it is and will continue to be, the memories of all the times we had together, the laughs we shared, and the problems we talked over.  It doesn’t matter whether we have a grave to visit, a plaque, or nothing solid to see.  The important thing is that we remember our loved ones, human or animal. I wonder if our animals remember us after we’ve gone? 

Friday Flash Fiction – 1000 – Walking The Dog

Sam spotted her locking up her bike, hoping she was coming to the meeting, wondering if she would remember him. Two of his team had dropped out already, he didn’t imagine they had anywhere better to be on a Friday afternoon, but that’s the way it was; some homeless people didn’t like being organised and they didn’t like talking. He couldn’t remember her name, despite making such an impression on him. Katie, no, perhaps the earnest facilitator would say her name. He whistled to Sheba who helpfully rounded up his new charge, a snappy terrier mix the elderly owner claimed was a Jack Russell. He would have to keep her on a tight lead at the meeting.

Cassie removed her cycle helmet, took her shoulder bag out of the panier, stretched her back, stepped onto the path and nearly tripped over a little dog.

‘Sorry.’ Why was she apologising to a dog?

‘Bella, come here…’ a man’s voice called.

Bella! Maybe she was pretty as a puppy. Cassie regained her balance and carried along the path, wondering how today’s meeting would be. One of the others from work couldn’t come, he was actually back in the office so had a good excuse. All the more reason for Cassie to feel she should attend, even though James had suggested a trip over on the ferry and lunch outside a waterside pub.

She was aware of someone behind her, in these days of pandemic it wasn’t just women in dark lonely places who were nervous of strangers, anyone who took the virus seriously did not want people breathing near them. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a man on the grass, giving her plenty of space on the path.

‘I’m so sorry, the dog, not mine, exercising her for an old lady. You don’t recognise me, do you?’

When a shaggy dog bounded up she realised who it was.

‘Sam, oh sorry, haircut and wrong dog.’

‘No wonder you’re confused, you are going to the meeting again?’

‘Yes, yes, I’m a bit worried as one of my team can’t come and it was my company that started this in the first place.’

He laughed. ‘Two of my team are missing, not as if they had anything better to do, hope we don’t get told off.’

‘She is a bit serious isn’t she.’

Cassie smiled to herself. Sam brushed up well with his neat haircut and she found herself glad he was going to be there. Perhaps a reflection on her lack of a social life, no that was a condescending thought, Sam was as worthy of sharing her afternoon as James and probably more interesting.

‘You must like dogs a lot Sam.’

‘I like Sheba, not too enamoured with this one, but the lady who is fostering Sheba while I’m in the hotel suggested I get into dog walking, might be an earner.’

‘Oh yes, it was big business where I was in London, some walkers even had their own doggy mini buses.’

He looked crestfallen.

‘Oh I’m sure most dog walkers just have strong leads and a good supply of those plastic bags… hmm rather you than me.’

‘That is a downside, but I’ve seen worse in my life.’

‘Of course, I mean er…’

He smiled in a way that suggested he was worried about embarrassing her, rather than the other way round. ‘Hey, what was pre Covid stays pre Covid, new haircut, new man. That’s what I liked about the group, not dwelling, just looking for solutions, looking to the future.’

‘Will you still sell the Big Issue?’

‘Yes, I just started again, over the water is my pitch, small town, but no other sellers around. Trouble is, people haven’t really started coming out much, I need more strings to my bow.’

‘People going back to work – lonely dogs, people isolating – bored dogs, yes I’m sure there will be customers out there.’

That’s what Sam liked about Carol, no that wasn’t her name, anyway she was easy to talk to and positive. She was pretty in a quirky sort of way, not that she could ever be more than a friend, what clever career woman would want to go out with a homeless chap. Besides, she was probably married, children, teenagers even, hard to say how old she was, his age, younger… Still, it was good to have a nice sensible adult to talk to, though he would not mention the fact that he was likely to have to leave the hotel next week with no idea where to go. It was unlikely that well intentioned meetings could come up with solutions quickly.

They were all greeted by name by the earnest facilitator who seemed relieved that anyone had turned up again. Cassie, of course, why hadn’t he remembered that was her name. He smiled at Cassie across the six foot gap between their folding chairs, but was jolted out of his relaxed state by a familiar grating voice. Lindy, one of the other homeless staying at the hotel, Lindy who loved talking, Lindy who he tried to avoid.

She did not wait to be introduced but launched straight into her spiel.

‘So can your company, PMJ…’

‘MPJ’ Cassie tried to interrupt.

‘…JPM really help? I’ve been here before, talk, talk, talk then you all go back to your comfortable homes.’

Sam felt his stomach clench, mortified for Cassie, most people weren’t given life on a plate, what did Lindy know about Cassie and her colleague. He managed to catch her eye and wink, did she smile back or was she just cringing. For a moment he closed his eyes, imagining going over, clasping her hand and taking her away… but Lindy was still talking.

‘… and then there’s poor old Sam, gotta leave the hotel next week, can’t chuck me out yet, cos I’m a woman…’

Sam kept his eyes closed, could he ever really move forward?

Silly Saturday – Unresolution

One of my New Year resolutions has been broken already, on the second of January; to cook dinner on time. As Cyberspouse had cooked dinner on the first of January this was a record failure to keep a resolution. Another resolution failed; to go to bed earlier, as opposed to early in the morning. The most obvious excuse is that I have been kidnapped by aliens, my memory wiped so I have no recollection of hours stolen.

This picture cannot be taken as an accurate representation of dinner  ChezTidalscribe.

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Or it might just be that I was busy keeping up with that other New Year favourite with writers and bloggers – GOALS. Some bloggers have blogfuls of goals, while the rest of us are just trying to keep up with self imposed targets of writing blogs and interacting with other bloggers.

blogger-recognition-2019
I did fulfil one big goal I set myself in January 2019 – finish my novel. Not too difficult as I had been writing it for *** years. The ‘final manuscript’ was finished in July so I’m not sure what happened between then and November.


Perhaps goals are easier to attain than resolutions, the latter implies a bit of soul searching. You can have a goal to eat less meat, but you will need a resolution to become a vegan, especially now it is officially a philosophy. Ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and so is protected in law, a tribunal has ruled for the first time. It makes my resolution to just cook dinner on time seem more attainable.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50981359

I can do it when we have visitors; there is a good incentive to have a meal ready so adults don’t stay too late and little children don’t get hungry and grumpy or tired and grumpy and can be put to bed on time.

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What are some other attainable goals writers and normal people can aspire to?
Look into joining a gym – this is much cheaper than actually joining a gym and only going once.
Take advantage of goals set by others. Use less plastic. Sainsbury’s supermarket has now dispensed with those annoying flimsy plastic bags, that I could never open, for their loose fruit and veg. Now you must take your own containers or buy some netting bags.
Start a novel, much easier than finishing one.
Go to bed at a reasonable time; taking your lap top with you because you have a bad cough and need to sit propped up in bed.
Cook meals from scratch. Avoid buying any food in plastic packaging and you will find yourself cooking from scratch…
Cut down on computer time – buy a puppy of a large energetic breed or acquire an energetic human toddler. You will spend lots more time outside, off line AND get plenty of exercise, so no need to even look into joining a gym.
Cheat – Blog about running or cycling twenty miles a day, post a few pictures you took while parked at that scenic viewpoint… we will never know it’s not true.

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Have you bothered with resolutions or set any goals?

Friday Flash Fiction -Triumph of Contradiction

 ‘Good morning Marjorie.’

‘Good heavens Sally, what are you doing out on the common?’

Her question was soon answered when a young Springer Spaniel came bounding up.

‘I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, as Harrison would say, puppy sitting for my neighbour; there’s a triumph of contradiction for you, this canine delinquent is going to be the spearhead of counter terrorism.’

Marjorie laughed, their homework for Harrison Tenby’s U3A Philosophy class was an essay entitled ‘The Triumph of Contradiction’; his pupils were even more confused than usual.

‘Greetings Brian, how’s Jack today… oh what happened to your finger?’

‘Just a little bite.’

‘So Jack’s bitten the hand that feeds him’ said Sally.

Brian fostered dogs for Waggy Tails charity, tales of his charges made light relief during the coffee break at their philosophy class. The other dogs had found good homes, but Jack, a bad tempered mix of the worst characteristics of several breeds, had not yet been successfully placed; every few weeks he would say I’ve got Jack back.

Brian ignored her remark. ‘What brings you out in the wilds Sally?’

‘Next door neighbour’s doing jury service, she told them she was puppy walking for the police, but that doesn’t count as an excuse; I hope it won’t turn into one of those cases that goes on for months.’ As she spoke she realised Barney the Springer Spaniel was nowhere to be seen.

‘Don’t panic,’ said Brian getting out his mobile phone ‘we’ll alert Dog Watch.’

‘Seek’ barked Marjorie, sending her well behaved Labrador off into a nearby copse.

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At last, when muddy paws landed on Sally’s knees, she was so glad to see her charge back again she didn’t worry about her trousers.

‘Time for a rest,’ said Brian ‘I’ll buy the first round.’

‘Oh, are we off to the pub?’ said Sally.

‘No, hot chocolate, Bob’s van by the education centre and toilets, we always stop there. We can talk about our homework.’

With the dogs safely tied up the three humans relaxed on the splintery wooden seats.

‘Dogs,’ said Marjorie ‘how can an article about dogs be philosophical?’

Sally put her case. ‘Thousands of years ago a few wolves, probably the runts of the litter, not the leaders of the pack, made a lifestyle decision to throw in their lot with humans. A supply of scraps and the warmth of the campfire in exchange for being on 24 hour alert for sabre tooth tigers and woolly rhinoceri. Thus started a uniquely complex and contradictory relationship of trust and betrayal. Now our so called best friend expects us to feed and cosset him, while disdainfully leaving his mess for us to pick up and occasionally eating our children.’ She smiled as her friends rose to the bait.

‘Far more people harm dogs than the other way round’ bristled Marjorie.

‘Yes and we abuse them in a variety of ways, messing around with their breeding to amuse ourselves, so a huge mountain dog picks up a ridiculous ball of fluff, not even knowing it’s a fellow dog. But they bear us no grudge and happily put their lives in danger, like Barney’s going to do, sniffing out explosives.’

‘Or those assistance dogs who put on the washing machine and answer e-mails’ said Marjorie.

‘I think they tell you when the phone or door bell’s ringing if you’re deaf,’ said Brian ‘I don’t think they’re on line yet.’

‘But the principal’s the same,’ said Sally ‘they do it altruistically, no days off, no holidays, no time for their own interests. What stops them leaving, walking out the door?’

‘Guide dogs and sheep dogs,’ added Marjorie ‘so clever, pity Jack hasn’t found a career to keep him out of mischief.’ She bent down to bravely hug the mongrel straining at his lead. ‘Who’s a big useless lump then?’

The dog wagged his tail and Sally shuddered, but she was determined to get in a last word. ‘So if dogs are so intelligent, how come they haven’t learned to use toilets?’

‘Nor have some humans’ said Brian. ‘Anyway, I’m off, see you on Thursday, hope I don’t get told off for not doing my homework.’

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But Brian wasn’t at the class on Thursday, Marjorie relayed the news to the rest of the class with relish.

‘He’s okay, just smoke inhalation, he thinks he must have fallen asleep doing his essay late and then his angle poise lamp tipped over on a pile of papers. The smoke alarm wasn’t working, Brian took the battery out, because the noise sent Jack into a frenzy if he burnt the toast, if Brian burnt the toast I mean. Anyway, if it wasn’t for Jack barking who knows what might have happened, he bit the hand of the fireman, but they wear gloves and Jack was only trying to protect Brian.’

After the excitement settled down, it turned out only Sally had done the homework.

Read more tiny tails here, look inside to read Blind Date, when Bella the guide dog goes along on a date.