Silent Sunday

When we are blogging or on the internet, we are not really there…

So when our computer dies the good news is, we are still alive!

Doing anything on the internet is hit and miss for me and if you are reading this it’s more by luck than judgement, peering through a mist. Depending entirely on my iPad is like working a thick fog.

Many bloggers complain about WordPress; perhaps this explains why I cannot comment on some blogs, asked to log in or sign over my soul to the Devil, still I cannot pass on my very intelligent comments… So if I silently Like your blog withour passing on adoring, wise and amusing comments, it’s not my fault….

Here are the comments you missed. Congratulations on having your new flower published. What lovely colourful books. Sorry to hear you have been on holiday. That sounds like a fantastic stay in hospital.

Finding my way to WordPress

Nearly there

Door locked.

Friday Fiction – Friends Reunited

At least he wasn’t dead, that was the best that could be said so far since his decision to reply to the Facebook post. As a writer Nicholas had merely set out to do some research for his latest novel, how easy was it to find your old classmates on the internet? Typing in Clacket Lane Junior School had produced a screen page of blue headings, but he didn’t want to know about the latest Ofsted report or the summer fete. Typing in 1968-1972 narrowed the search considerably; there was a nostalgia group for the anonymous town where he had spent his childhood, a history page that celebrated a few tenuous links to national events and famous persons… he almost missed the reunion announcement.

Could it really be fifty years since that last summer; the celebration of the school’s centenary, prancing round the maypole dressed in Victorian clothes. His wife had been more excited than he was, urging him to attend, despite his pleadings that he just wanted to know if it was possible to meet up with the past, he didn’t actually want to meet his old class mates, he was appalled by the thought.

Old boys and girls could join the closed FB group, go on twitter, email or even phone the organiser Caroline Hepworth, nee Burton… Caroline Burton, it would be her, milk monitor, teacher’s pet. She was organising the get together at the Holiday Inn; that was a contradiction in terms, who would want to go on holiday to that God forsaken town, unless it had changed a lot.

Nicholas emailed her and got a reply ten minutes later.

Hi Nicholas, don’t remember you but please join the group, it’s really interesting hearing what everyone’s been up to in the past half century lol.

He groaned as his wife brought him a cup of coffee. ‘Does she have to rub it in, half a century?’

‘A good way for you to get more readers’ said his wife brightly.

‘I’ll join, but I’m not posting anything, let alone pushing my website.’

He read through the posts; memories of pranks played on teachers and each other, gentle teasing where once there had been bullying, tales of exotic travels, brilliant careers and wonderful children. No one had mentioned Nicholas. In some of the profile pictures he could recognise the child in the middle aged face, others had cheated by posting school pictures or snaps of their dog, cat, motorbike or grandchild. But with only some of the names could he conjure up a memory of the child.

The next day things took a sombre turn. Caroline’s post was pinned at the top of the page.

Martin Fletcher’s wife has emailed to say he passed away last November after a brave battle with cancer.

Nicholas recalled Martin well, though he was in the other class; top of the school for his sporting achievements, he could beat anyone in a playground sprint, scored most goals at football, whacked the rounders’ ball with a strength that gave a glimpse of his potential when adolescent testosterone kicked in.

Martin Fletcher had barely crossed his mind for fifty years, but the shock of his mortality was like a kick in the stomach. The comments scrolled down the page, people were still typing them in, but Nicholas the writer could think of nothing to say.

Incongruously the next post was up beat.

Hey guys, great to catch up with you all, bet you didn’t recognise me in Game of Thrones, well the name on my equity card says Zane Swartz, but back then I was Peter Potts.

Frail, pale Potty, who would have thought it? His profile picture was the last school photo taken at Clacket Lane, Peter with his hair combed neatly. It was unlikely that anyone would recognise him behind beards, shields and spears. Nicholas clicked the Like button, everyone was Liking each other. Nicholas decided it was time to join in, at least he was still alive.

Remember how Mrs. Walker always told me off in English for not writing enough, guess what, I write long novels now.

He paused then put a link to his new website. There was no way they could know he was self published and was never likely to give up the day job.

 The next day no one had Liked his post, let alone left a comment, perhaps they were still overwhelmed by the latest bad news.

Susan Fielding, everyone remembered her, all the girls wanted to be her or at least be her friend. Not surprisingly she had gone on to be head girl at grammar school. Perhaps others would have remembered Nicholas if his father’s work had not taken him to the other side of the country soon after he left the junior school.

Still, mustn’t complain, his life had been okay, while Susan’s obviously had not, she had taken her own life. News had filtered through via someone’s aunty who knew the family. Caroline had posted a hasty comment pointing out that it was not helpful to debate how or when it had happened. She was going to remember happy days with Susan at grammar school.

A sad comment from Howard.

 I’m gutted, she was my first love

Howard, he of the Adonis looks, probably be called a gay icon now, presumably not gay as he had ‘gone steady’ with Susan during their years at the church youth group. He had not seen her since she left for university. While Nicholas had been battling acne and crippling shyness, Howard was enjoying dream teen years with Susan.

Nicholas was lost for words yet again. Would he put a sad emoticon to add to the list of comments on Susan?  He logged out, glad that he was invisible to the rest of his year at juniors.

He went a whole week without being tempted, then promised himself to just go on once more, to post an apology that he could not attend the reunion as he would be out of the country; he was tempted to say he now lived abroad, but in the unlikely event someone looked at his website they would see him described as living in the dead centre of the country. Unfortunate choice of words, perhaps they would think he was also dead.

New post from Caroline.

Amazingly, all except one pupil have been tracked down. What happened to Nigel Palmer, no one seems to have seen or heard of him since the last day of juniors. He was such an unusually talented boy, he could be anywhere in the world.

Nicholas logged out, but his brain had not logged out, his author’s mind was racing; every other pupil’s life was being recorded in more and more detail, but he was only interested in the missing boy. Nigel, a lively, entertaining, often naughty boy; Nicholas had admired his courage in the face of authority; who was the man he became? He was determined to find out.

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 – Unblogged

I first heard it on the radio, I wasn’t listening properly, I’m so bored with the news, but when I heard blogging, bloggers, scams, algorithms, WordPress, computers, victims, personas… I paid close attention.
We know all about other people being scammed on line, paying out money, falling in love with a person who does not exist… losing all your money on a business scam. Of course it couldn’t happen to me or my fellow bloggers, we’re far too intelligent for that; we know some bloggers are not what they say they are, but we just ignore them and certainly don’t follow them.
I was just about to write today’s blog when there was a knock at the door, a man and a woman stood on the doorstep holding out their ID. Her Majesty’s Cybercrime Home Security Force. I was amused, they wanted to interview little me, well that would make a good topic for my blog. They took it in turns to ask questions.

‘Do you possess a computer, do you use the internet… ‘ until finally we got to the crux of the matter ‘would you call yourself a blogger?’

‘Of course, I don’t call myself a blogger, I am a Blogger, Scribbletide and it’s not against the law, so why am I being subjected to this interrogation.’

‘We’re sorry to have to tell you Miss, Mrs… er Ms Scribbletide, but you have been scammed; the bloggers you associate with are not real.’

‘That’s okay, I know some are not, no problem, no harm to me.’

‘None of them are real, it’s a huge scam affecting national and international security and mental health.’
‘Is this a joke, are you filming me for that television programme?’
‘Please listen carefully, we are obliged to take you in for debriefing and health checks.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous I’m fine and I am not going anywhere.’

‘We know this must come as a great shock, none of the three thousand bloggers you follow are real; all set up by computer programmers as an experiment; there is no such thing as WordPress.’

‘I don’t understand, you mean all those Jills, Sues, Carols and Petes, Jims and Mikes are not real?’

‘Precisely and if it’s any comfort, you are alone…’



Friday Flash Fiction 660 – Temple

Jamie tried to saunter into the house nonchalantly; his mother was in the kitchen, busy cooking, stirring something.

‘Hi Mum.’

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…’

Silly Saturday – Perplexing Puzzles

Every Saturday in the middle of the Weekend ‘I’ ( Independent ) newspaper you will find lots of the regular daily puzzles, but Sudokarrow only appears on Saturdays. Ordinary sudokus are boring, which is probably why a host of mathematically challenging puzzles have evolved. Each week I look at this puzzle in its pristine condition determined I will finish it correctly – and neatly. I think only once have I succeeded and by the time I’ve got it wrong it looks a complete mess. My young next door neighbour asked me if I read real paper newspapers, but it turned out he wasn’t interested in which newspaper (political views) or how many puzzles I managed to do – he just needs a supply of paper to light his wood burning stove! Do you get a newspaper for the news or the puzzles?

This was the picture round in our Zoom Quiz last week. Just say what you see. eg 17 is ice cube. I got 18 right and I can’t recall the answers to the ones I didn’t get, so I may not be able to help if you can’t get them all!

Quiz Planet is an on line quiz that you can play with friends who haven’t got anything better to do or with complete strangers who don’t have anything better to do either, it is quite addictive. If it’s your turn you get to choose the subject; science, music, body and soul etc, but the downside is that your friend will see what stupid wrong answers you got. If they challenge you they may pick topics you have no chance of answering, such as celebrities or beauty and fashion. I do better than Zoom quiz as the questions are multiple choice and some answers are so stupid you can pick the right one even if you have never heard of the person or place.

Here are some examples for you to try, with the advantage of not having to answer in ten seconds like the real quiz.

Who was the previous president of the USA? 1. Ghengis Khan 2. Vlad The Impaler 3. Donald Trump 4. Abraham Lincoln

Which of these is an insect? 1. horse 2. whale 3. grasshopper 4. cat

Who played Maria in The Sound of Music? 1. Sharon Stone, 2. Julie Andrews 3. Whoopi Goldberg 4. Megan Markle

The capital city of Australia is 1. Canberra 2. San Francisco 3. Oslo 4. Beijing

If you had an appendectomy what would you have removed? 1. finger 2. appendix 3. leg 4. head

And here is one I got wrong earlier, somehow missing the obvious…. Which star is closest to the earth 1. Alpha Centauri 2. Sirius 3. Epsilon Eridani 4. THE SUN

Here are the correct answers, but not necessarily in the right order; appendix, Canberra, THE SUN, Donald Trump, Julie Andrews and grasshopper.

How did you do? Are you tempted to join in?

Quiz Planethttps://quizplanet.game/

Off Line, On Line

Soon we will be filling in our census forms in the United Kingdom. Ten years ago, at the last census, we filled in our paper forms and I made sure I was put down as a writer, I think Freelance Writer were my exact words. This time I shall put author. The personal details of the census are not revealed for a hundred years, so when my descendants are looking up the census forms on one of those history programmes I want them to know I wrote. They will either know because I have become famous, or more likely will wonder who on earth I was and what I wrote.

But this time we are required to fill in the form on line, save paper, but it is sad there will be no historic piece of paper to look at. On our instructions it says you can request a paper form at www.census.gov.uk –  how would you do that if you are not On Line? It then adds ‘ask your nephew or daughter if you need help’. Okay, just joking. There is a phone number and there are Census Support Centres. But the head householder will be fined up to £1000 if they don’t fill it in. The whole point of a census is for absolutely every household to be accounted for, so that enthusiastic intellectual presenters can make history programmes in a hundred years time ( probably holograms or perhaps they will be able to bring us back to life by then ). Even if you don’t have a computer, this census should be less trouble than it was for Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem!

The pandemic has shown us more than ever what a divide there is between being on line and off line. I am grateful to be on line, but totally sympathetic with people who have never seen the need, or are not in a position to acquire the technology. Once upon a time, early in this century, I was still off line. A friend having a big clear out sent me an email she found from my daughter – in a cross over between on line and tradition, she used to print out emails for her mother to read, hence the existence of this historic document reminding me how far I have come this century. The email was written in the year 2000. I have redacted most of it for security reasons.

Although I recall saying I would start learning about computers when our youngest started school, all that happened was I started working at the local playgroup, which in turn led me to seeking out jobs that didn’t involve computers when the children were older. People my age who were working in offices or teaching were of course going on computer courses. I did at one stage enrol in evening classes at my children’s high school with their technology teacher; who turned out to be as useless as they claimed. He would say he was just going to get some more printer paper, but we could see across the quadrangle that he had just gone out for a smoke; this would happen several times in the lesson…

By the time we moved away in 2004 my on line achievements amounted to looking up estate agents’ websites and logging in to the Southbourne Beach surfers’ webcam.

Joining a weekly writers’ group in 2007 meant I had to start learning how to type, how to do word documents and how to print them out. At first I would pretend Monday was Tuesday, so I would be sure to have my printed work ready for Wednesday morning; all this required a lot of help from the long suffering Cyberspouse. Actually thinking what to write was nothing compared with the technical challenge; I would never have imagined writing books, self publishing and blogging lay in the future… I did not have any concept of such things even existing.

When did you leave the real world and go on line?

Silly Saturday – Followers and Following

I don’t often check my statistics and always end up missing vital ones such as latest number of followers. Well I missed 900, but haven’t reached 1000 – perhaps I would have done if I didn’t delete a few along the way. There are bloggers who don’t appear to write any blogs or even exist at all, the many vitamin pill sites, which return over and over again, the odd American realtor, a reviewer of lawn mowers, a site recommending dentists – in the USA, so a bit far for me… but my latest follower is a real treasure, definitely one to keep.

  Great posts worth seeing from Dr_mirror_ogigiwu:

I apparently follow 811 bloggers – at least eleven of these are worth following – only joking. I don’t get 811 Likes for every blog, certainly not 811 comments, but some of them may have been on holiday, or having an off day…

But do we really know anything about who is following and who we follow? Is anybody who they say they are? I am really a world famous actor and best selling novelist who got sick of the fame and adulation and retreated behind a mock blog – Blockery!

Who’s Following Who?

On Monday I got a Christmas letter from Australia. For a moment I wondered if 2020 had all been a nightmare and we were still in 2019. But alas, it turned out a friend from long ago had been tidying her office, no doubt a Covid stayathome activity and had found the unsent Round Robin. On the reverse side was an updating handwritten letter. But this blog isn’t about Round Robins or my friend’s ‘far more interesting than mine’ life. The salient point was that she had been reading and enjoying my website, which was pleasing and also made me wonder how she had arrived there. Had I enclosed a business card in her Christmas card, had I even remembered to send one, or had she just looked up my name on the internet – for experimental reasons I tried this and my website came up first.

An artist’s impression of my website

We started my website ages ago after publishing my first novel on Amazon Kindle in 2013, when I had even less idea what I was doing on the internet than I do now. It is a paid for website, a series of templates, a scrap book waiting to be filled in, without the glue, but for me just as messy; we accidentally created two domains, there were too many pages, which themselves had more pages… what to fill it with, lots of pictures?

My first positive step was discovering you could add a background colour, turning it yellow brightened the outlook, but what next? Over the years I have discovered skills at a slow rate, often there have been changes as soon as I got used to how things were done. How to change the size of words and pictures so people could actually see them, how to do links. At one stage you could put artistic frames around the pictures; that disappeared, but some interesting boxes turned up – perhaps I have been using blocks all along without knowing.

When I realised everyone except me was on WordPress I started this blog, the advantages are obvious, it is interactive, you know who is Liking or commenting and you can respond. On my Big Yellow Website visitors can only Like if they are on Facebook, there is also a visitor counter which records far higher numbers than the Likes. In the unlikely event a visitor is moved to comment they must make the effort to turn to the contact page and find my email address, I think only my sister and a few friends have ever done that.

If I share a link to the website on both my Facebook pages I get some Likes and lots of visits, so who is visiting apart from the friend in Australia? Of course none of this translates into actual book sales, which is why authors are told to start a website in the first place, but perhaps my website is happy in its own right, floating in yellow bliss in the ether waiting for its next visitor.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/

In the meantime back to WordPress to tackle the new blocks…

Blogger Recognition Award

Many thanks to author and blogger Mary Smith for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award 2019. Mary has led a very fascinating and varied life, so her books and blogs are well worth reading. You can read Mary’s Blogger Recognition post here.

https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/2019/12/20/marysmithsplace-the-blogger-recognition-award-a-thank-you-to-bloggers-who-support-so-generously/
Sally Cronin created this design for the award.

blogger-recognition-2019

Here are the guidelines attached to the award.
1.Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to; often bloggers throw this guideline open for awards, especially when everyone is busy with Christmas or just busy… So I am nominating the Spirits of Blogging Past, Present and Future… These three spirits are imaginative, helpful to other bloggers, considerate, kind and often very amusing, in fact very like the bloggers I follow…
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.
If you want to help the Spirits out, join in the award or just answer an end of decade question in the comments – find the question after my answers…
1. How My Blog Started: My first blog was on Goodreads and I called it Sandscript, I wrote quite a few and I guess they will float around in the ether for ever… But I realised that everyone else was on WordPress and having more fun, so I started Tidalscribe with the aim of trying to blog at least once a month, now it’s three times a week at least. The reason for blogging? Anyone who writes a book is told to do that, but blogging quickly becomes more than that.
4. Advice for new bloggers.   A. Read lots of other blogs, follow bloggers that are interesting, engaging and helpful; make interesting comments and engage with them – this is the best way to learn about blogging.
B. It’s your blog, so you can do what you like, it’s not school. Post words and pictures about what interests you, but will also appeal to others. Most of us don’t make pots of money selling our books and we would soon lose followers if we constantly hit our readers over the head with our latest novel. Your blog will be on the internet forever – perhaps – so make every blog your best writing, you never know who might be reading it.
Now the Question, don’t think for too long, just answer in the comments.

What will your first blog for 2020 be about?