Monday Monologue 475 – Right Move

Don’t tell anyone Terry, but next door are moving… I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  Purple Bricks, I saw the board up. Of course I wouldn’t say anything to anyone, but I had my appointment at the hairdressers and I was so shocked I told Deb and she said her step daughter was looking to move. Yes you did know she had a step daughter, her husband’s much older. Anyway, when I got home the board had disappeared. Ah ha but it is still for sale, I know that because Deb looked it up on line and the house was there, with the price and pictures and everything, did you know you could do that?  Oh I suppose you’re au fait with all that modern stuff. Do you think they know their house is there for everyone to see?

Hello Terry, no they didn’t say anything when I was watering the front garden, but guess what, Pat the other side of them said Tony and Tim the other side of her got a message from a friend who thought their house was up for sale; he had seen it on Purple Bricks, so it must be true. Oh you looked it up as well, can you show me how to look it up on my iPad when you come round. No they haven’t been there long and they had all that work done and blinds and a new patio. Testing the market… perhaps, but who would dare to move at the moment.

Come in Terry, the iPad’s warming up… no I think they’re keeping a low profile, but Pete across the road said he saw it on Right Move…    Isn’t that amazing, you’re so good with computers . Good heavens, who would buy a house with that wallpaper and at that price, surely they can’t be asking that much, Monopoly money. I feel nosey though, looking round their house in secret. No I haven’t been inside, we had lockdown soon after they moved in, they did keep saying you must come round for a cup of coffee when things are normal, but they’re always so busy, nice couple though and their son just started school. Will they know I’ve been looking… oh thank goodness…  What? Anyone in the whole country, or the world could look into their house, how awful, can’t they stop it?  So if you want to sell your house you put it on line and you want lots of people to look? Oh quick Terry, go and look out the window, is that a couple coming to look at their house? No, no I think those are their friends, I recognise the dog and the red car. Come away from the window Terry, we don’t want them to think we’re being nosey.

Drama at the Big House

As none of my novels have been snapped up for serialisation on prime time television I decided to go straight to producing my own psychological drama. Here are some handy hints in case you want to do the same. First you have to remember how to spell cycalojical, then you have to find a big house.

If you wondered why the characters in modern dramas all seem to live in architect designed huge houses it is because directors and crew love having plenty of space to film and of course more room for DRAMA. As I will be filming only with my iPhone you might think I will not need the Big House, but with the huge home comes that vital feature, the staircase. Because the house is architect designed and the ceilings very high the staircase is tall and never has a banister or railing of any sort. The main character will inevitably fall down the stairs, perhaps within the first five minutes of episode one.

This provides the opportunity for confusing flash backs as the character lies in hospital or in the morgue. Did they fall, jump or were they pushed? You have six to ten episodes to work this out. The story starts, or rather ends, as it’s back to front, with the main characters moving in to a new house that no mere mortal could possibly afford. They are in a new town / city / rural Wales / remote spot on the Scottish coast making a new start. The divorced / widowed parent has a teenage son and a teenage daughter who did not want to move, even though they now each have a huge bedroom with ensuite bathroom and their own home cinema and indoor swimming pool.

The family eats breakfast in an open plan kitchen the size of a mainline station concourse. The table is as long as the one used by Putin to speak to Western leaders. Everyone is in a rush for the first day at the new school and the new job. Our main character is a detective / brilliant surgeon / amazing artist. Everyone rushes out the door with a piece of toast in their hand, nobody clears the table, loads the dishwasher, cleans their teeth or makes their bed.

 That’s okay because over the coming weeks the house remains immaculate despite no evidence that they employ a cleaner. They always have clean clothes to wear, though no one ever does any washing. Meals appear by magic; not so much as an onion graces the immaculate marble work tops and nobody ever goes shopping. The main character has more important things to worry about than doing a big shop at Sainsburys or going on line to do the Tesco order. Occasionally the new love interest will pose at the huge kitchen island and slice a red pepper, announcing that they are making a special celebratory meal.

Nobody turns up when the feast is ready because one of the teenagers has run away and the other one is in hospital after an overdose. The parent has not noticed they are having trouble settling in and has already been called away to deal with a murder / emergency brain surgery / trouble at the art gallery; they will have difficulty concentrating after the messages from / meeting with the mystery person plaguing their life.

As the wonderful meal dries up, new love interest has no idea where anybody is, but takes the opportunity to answer a mobile phone ringing from some remote part of the house / look out the huge picture window to see a stranger peering in / rifle through a locked drawer after finding a key in another drawer while searching for a wooden spoon…

There are now only three days and two episodes left before the main character is going to fall down the stairs, but you will have to wait till my new drama arrives on television in 2024 to find out why or how. If you can’t wait that long, why not dip into one of my dramatic novels?

Twosday – a Tale of Two Tiles

Nothing much happens on Tuesdays, except perhaps a special date. Today is 22-2-22, but if I don’t hurry up and post this it will be Wednesday, except in the Americas where it will still be Tuesday, but written 2-22-22.

 The previous few days were more eventful as we had three storms in a row. Since the Met Office started naming storms we seem to have them more often, the aim being to make us take them seriously. On Thursday we were still thinking ‘not a nuther storm coming, up to E already, Eunice…’

But soon we were receiving RED warnings! Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go out again after Covid / chemotherapy / knee operation / kidnap by aliens – delete as appropriate, we were being instructed to stay home again.

Yellow, amber and even the most severe red warnings are in place for vast swathes of the United Kingdom – from Inverness to the Isle of Wight – for Friday.’

Our local council announced that almost everything would be closed on Friday. Team H deferred their long weekend visit, just like lockdown again, then cancelled as we heard that Eunice was to be followed by Storm Franklin and perhaps Gladys…

Friday dawned fair…

Friends and families warned each other ( well me ) not to go out to see the sea. I thought I would pop out to the recycling bin, but the front door nearly blew off. The front and side of our house takes the brunt of the prevailing south westerly and a record wind speed of 122 miles per hour was recorded on the Isle of Wight, as the wind wended its way to our house.

Unless you live in solitary splendour in the countryside you are probably very close or joined to your neighbours.  It was our neighbour who alerted us to tiles fallen off our roof, just missing their car. Only two tiles lost and one loose, but up high…

A good while ago it was the neighbours the other side who had major building work done to their house with the scaffolding in our driveway. The builders inadvertently broke one of our tiles, but how lucky was that because they fixed it and had four tiles left over and left them with us. Even luckier, considering I always forget where I put everything, I remembered where the spare tiles were hidden in the potting shed.

My son planned to fix the roof before Eunice took unfair advantage of the weak spot. I didn’t think anyone should be doing anything with ladders. My daughter-in-law was dispatched to Wickes to buy a hook attachment for the ladder and some spongy glue stuff. I didn’t think anyone should be going out.

Luckily we have the ‘right sort of roof’ for the proposed action and with careful checking of wind speeds, yet another thing you can do on the internet and the use of two ladders, the roof was repaired later in the day. We did not have to join the queues of home owners waiting for builders and roofers.

We had of course got off lightly. People had four hundred year old oak trees falling on their house and homes were flooded. Sadly the red warnings were justified as several people were killed by toppling trees.

Locked Down or Locked In?

Like Japanese soldiers found hiding on remote Pacific islands decades after the Second World War, unaware the hostilities had ended, I fear I may emerge from isolation months in the future to discover everyone else has been out and about, holidaying and having fun. Scenes on the news of crowded beaches and beauty spots and anti racism protests, leave many of us wondering if we have missed a miraculous and sudden end to the pandemic.

One of my earliest memories is looking out of our upstairs window at sunshine and blue skies and feeling shut in. Until I was nearly seven, by which time my parents had a toddler and baby to cope with as well, Mum and Dad rented what they called a flat, but was really the spacious two top floors of a large Victorian terraced house. A quick glance on Zoopla reveals you would pay over a million and a quarter for such a house in that road today. But Mum had to lean out the kitchen window to hang the washing on a pulley line, suspended high above the back garden of the ‘wicked old lady’ ( mum’s words ) who lived on the ground floor. She never offered to let me play in her garden. But I certainly wasn’t a prisoner; my parents were always taking me down by the river or to Kew Gardens, Marble Hill Park and Richmond Park for fresh air and exercise. I feel so sorry for children literally locked into cramped flats because of the virus. Most children in England will not now return to school till after the summer holidays. While many are having fun and never had so many walks and bike rides with their parents, some children are isolated indoors because of their health or underlying health conditions of someone in their family.

We adults may grumble and some people have found themselves in dire situations, but we are not sheltering in a basement in a war shattered city. For writers, bloggers, artists and gardeners it’s just another day at home, an endless succession of days at home, but it’s okay. Obviously I could not survive without BBC Radio, books, music, the internet, television and of course chocolate.

When we were having our medical dramas just before lockdown, there was another patient who seemed to be following Cyberspouse from ward to ward. He had no visitors because he had a frail wife at home and no family near. I knew this because I heard all his conversations to medical staff and on his mobile, but his greatest upset was not having anything to read and nobody seemed able to get him a newspaper. When any medical staff asked how he was he told them he was soo bored. He was reduced to doing origami with the paperwork they left behind. By the third ward I made sure I brought him a newspaper and he was overwhelmed with gratitude. Boredom can be a worse threat than a pandemic.

What things have been essential for your survival in isolation?

Two Metre Movement

Writers can still keep writing in isolation and quarantine, but what of photographers? No more traveling to local beauty spots, let alone visiting exotic locations, no more turning up at weddings and social gatherings to take formal and informal shots. One of our local award winning photographers has still been busy; Emily Endean has been using her daily exercise to walk to the homes of volunteering locals and snap them at their front door or in the garden – while staying at a safe distance on the pavement. A piece of everyman history, recording what we hope will be a unique year, not the new normal.

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Gardens were already important to many of us, but have taken on a new significance in isolation for those of us lucky enough to have one. Are they a zoo compound or is your front garden your own little stage where all life takes place? We stand in it to chat safely to neighbours or passers by; on Thursday evenings we stand at 8pm to clap and bang saucepan lids for the NHS and all carers.

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Hopefully a few or more flowers will brighten the daily walks of others. No one could have foreseen back in the autumn, when we were planting bulbs and wallflowers, how much time we would spend enjoying the splash of colour. With garden centres closing there has been dismay among gardeners looking forward to getting their bedding plants; we like to fill in gaps as spring flowers fade and plant up pots and patio tubs for the summer. Luckily our local greengrocer’s has been delivering plants; tidying the garden and planting is perfect for fresh air and exercise.

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I had my chance to take part in Emily’s project on Sunday. If you want to stroll around peeping at homes and seeing who lives there, visit Emily’s website here.

https://www.emilyendeanphotography.co.uk/post/the-two-metre-movement-people-in-quarantine

Friday Flash Fiction – SixSixty

In Good Spirits

I had hoped to get on the computer this evening to follow up my research at the local library, but my husband’s idiot friend Paul was coming round for dinner with some new update, App or whatever they call them. For all I know he could be a computer genius; as I am a technophobe who only knows how to Google I have no way of judging. Both men dispatched the meal quickly, eager to play with the grown up toy. I was only half listening to what Paul was saying with his mouth full.

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‘I’ve really done it this time, what Houdini and Arthur Connan Doyle failed to do; you two are going to be the first to try it out. You both must know some dead people.’

‘What are you talking about Paul?’ I finally asked.

‘Ouija-App, Soulbook, Ethernet; not sure what I’m going to call it yet, that doesn’t matter, the point is it works, it’s true.’

‘What is?’ asked my husband.

‘Haven’t you been listening? I started from the premise that there is nothing out there, only electricity and the radio waves living people have broadcast. Then I formulated the search on the theory that if we did survive after death we would most likely be in a form of electrical energy, after all, don’t our brains work with electrical impulses?’

‘You are no scientist, nor a doctor’ laughed my husband.

‘That’s an advantage, my ideas are fresh and unfettered.’

‘So who did you contact?’

‘Somebody I had never heard of… all the better, I could not know anything about him.’

‘No proof that he ever existed.’

‘Yes, he told me where to find his gravestone.’

‘Another computer geek is just having you on, he was their great granddad or they looked him up on the internet.’

‘No reference to him on Wikipedia, a nobody who lived and died and left nothing behind except the epitaph.’

‘Not a very interesting person to chat to on the other side’ I said.

‘On the contrary, he had fantastic ideas when he was alive, but nobody listened to him. He has been waiting for someone like me to get in touch.’

‘Pudding, coffee?’

‘Bring coffee upstairs to the computer, let’s get started.’

I felt the first misgivings. ‘Are you actually serious?’

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‘There he is, my Facebook friend Nathanial.’

Indeed, there was a black and white picture of a Dickensian character.

‘People put old photos on Facebook all the time’ said my husband.

‘But the photos don’t usually write their own comment… look.’

Hello Paul, couldn’t find a better photo than this, I see you have your two cynical friends with you.

Paul tapped at the keyboard, words appeared in the comment box.

‘Give them a chance, this is all new to them.’

A reply came back straight away.

Perhaps they would like to meet the original inhabitants of this house?

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A shiver went down my spine, we lived in an old house, I had been researching its history, but perhaps I could play Paul at his own game.

‘Let me type a comment.’

I tapped in ‘Yes I would, if they tell me their names and when they lived here.’

Words appeared instantly in the comments box.

Benjamin and Martha Helston, married 20th June 1876, took the lease on this house 5th July 1876, were blessed with a son Samuel James 8th September1877 and two daughters…

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‘Stop, this is creepy, have you been looking at my research notes Paul?’

The writing on the screen continued, while I found the paper notes I had taken at the local library just that afternoon.

…and you can see where he marked his height on his tenth birthday –  on the scullery wall where you stripped off that ghastly wallpaper recently.

My husband gasped. ‘Of course SJH, those markings prompted your interest in the history, didn’t they Love, but we haven’t shown Paul yet what we’re doing in that room…’