Silly Saturday – Boring Blog

Lots of bloggers at this time of year, especially those enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere, are having a blogging break while they are on holiday or finishing their novel. This is an excellent idea if you are popular enough to carry it off; no one will forget you and will be all the more pleased to see you when you return. It is also good news for their followers; there are too many good blogs and not enough hours in the day to read them, so a break is needed.

Other bloggers might worry that everyone will have forgotten them by the time they post again… don’t worry, nobody noticed you had disappeared in the first place.

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There is an alternative for bloggers who can’t bring themselves to have a couple of weeks off; write blogs that are so boring nobody will want to read them anyway, so your readers will have a rest. But what is the most boring thing you could write about?

Perhaps shopping; how inane is shopping compared to all the dramas in the world? If you are lucky you might have a lively street market on your doorstep, or local shops where you will meet real people, pop in the library and idle in a coffee shop.

But the dreariest way to fill a couple of hours is to do a weekly shop or big stock up with your other half at a Superstore. As you arrive at the car park you reach the nadir of your relationship. If it’s a quiet day the driver ( let’s call him a husband for convenience ) will drive all round the car park, ignoring swathes of empty spaces in favour of nearly knocking over harassed mothers or elderly persons pushing their trolleys. He will then hold up other drivers trying to leave as he manoeuvres into a tight space. All this time you are berating him for not parking in the line of empty spaces where you came in. If the car park is full you will crawl round in a queue of drivers admitting defeat and trying to get out, or hoping they can sneak into a space when a shopper leaves. This is the nadir of first world life, the invention of the internal combustion engine was for this?

Inside the store you are confronted with twenty different varieties of everything and yet you cannot find your favourite Taste The Difference Chunky Fish Fingers or Sea Breeze flavoured floor cleaner. As you plod round the aisles children are whining and couples are having the dullest conversation – what shall we have for dinner.

Finally at the till, some of us have invented a packing procedure so complex we are filled with incandescent rage if anyone else interferes; this is what your life has come to. On the till may be a person so bored and boring you lose the will to live. Or you are greeted enthusiastically by an assistant desperately trying not to be replaced by modern technology.

‘Hello, how are you today?’

Do they want a list of your ailments? They quickly start scanning before you can answer. But when they finally announce the total money due they utter those words you dread.

‘Doing anything interesting at the weekend?’

Your life is exposed in all its nihilistic bleakness…

Have you taken a blogging break or decided you need one after reading this?

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The Game of Life

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

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Round One: No word from Dagenham yet.

Game Rules:

Everyone’s life is a story and every story has an ending.

It is generally agreed that life is not fair, at least from our earth bound perspective.

Life is a game without rules, or if there are any we don’t understand them.

The further round the board you get, the less you should complain when you’re OUT.

Tragedy is when children or young parents die, by the hand of nature or by the hand of man.

When they say everybody is living longer, they don’t actually mean every person.

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We have to leave Summertown, the days of being recycled teenagers are over.There is a very real possibility that Cyberspouse will be outlived by the Duke of Edinburgh and my mother.

His attitude? These things happen, don’t get upset.

None of us REALLY thinks they will happen to us.

How is the game of life playing out in our families?

We heard only third hand via Facebook that someone in Cyberspouse’s large family had lost their only daughter, who leaves behind two young children. We know little about her life or death.

My mother is the only one left of her generation in the immediate family.

I am the first grandchild on both sides, the next one down, my bachelor cousin in Australia, had already cheated death after a massive stroke and just as our bad news was sinking in we heard he had died in an horrific accident. He had become the first one OUT in my generation of the family, Cyberspouse moved on an extra space.

You get the prognosis and you have to start telling people. Cyberspouse, as is the modern way, e-mailed one of his best friends, who was recently widowed, with the up date. He replied with suitably sympathetic words ( modern men do talk ) but without pause added ‘no word from Dagenham yet’. When Cyberspouse read it out from his phone we both burst out laughing. This was a reference to the annual ‘boy’s outing’ to collect friend’s new car. He loves cars and when his wife was in hospital he had said ‘we might not get to Dagenham this week’.

Today we went to the group workshop on understanding treatment, patients could take one ‘friend’. It was like being back in the classroom, but quite jolly. Next week it all starts. In the meantime he says we should carry on as normal, although he has now got a good excuse for getting out of my writers’ group Christmas dinner and splashing out on Sky sport.

 

Friday Flash Fiction 500 – Biodegradable

Cauldrons bubbled, paddles stirred, pumps rose and fell. The dye selector scurried along seeking indigo and sunflower to make that special shade of green for Familyfresh.

Malcolm Rust loved machinery and money, in that order. Childhood visits to industrial museums had given him a love of pistons and presses. The only history he was interested in at school was of Victorian valleys filled with furnaces and engineering entrepreneurs making a mint, so they could build great houses on top of hills looking down on their wealth. His weekends as a teenager had been spent scouring the country for redundant factory equipment and thinking of money making projects to fund his hobby.

He had no interest in the environment, except as the provider of water courses to power mills, until he met Melissa. She worked with his mother at the new Veganarium that had replaced the cheese and bacon shop. His mother needed a job, but for Melisa it was her whole way of life.

As far as Malcolm was concerned food was fuel, the same as coal, wood and diesel for his beloved machines. But as Melissa chattered on about recipes for allergen free biscuits and biodegradable wrappers, he thought he might find a way to her heart. Why not make the biscuits and packets with the same recipe? It was time to investigate corn starch and fructose.

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Now he was no longer Mr Rust, but Mr Green, inventor of the edible carrier bag and three days ago Melissa had become Mrs. Green. Channel Four was making a documentary about their plans for a perfect Ecohouse with living walls.

But no sooner had the carrier bags become familiar in every supermarket than the first criticisms began to appear on social media. Members of the public no longer had to feel guilty about plastic or litter; discarded sweet wrappers, takeaway boxes and shopping bags would all be eaten by wildlife, from snails to deer. In fact the carrier bags were so delicious, passing dogs were liable to take a bite out of your shopping.

Then came the first news story from the Familyfresh Fairtrade supermarket. Overnight, all the bundles of new carrier bags had disappeared from the store room. The first clue to the mystery came when three large rats scampered across the feet of the store manager. He ran out into the main store, only to see several more rats slip away from the checkouts. The second clue was the remnant of a carrier bag hanging limply, serrated with huge teeth marks.

A meeting of COBRA * was called after pest exterminators made urgent reports of supersized rats, gardeners posted pictures on Facebook of giant snails and a photograph appeared on breakfast television of a fox the size of a deer hound. Malcolm was summoned to reveal the ingredients of his carrier bags…

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*Cobra stands for Cabinet Office briefing room A. Cobra meetings are held in Downing Street to plan government responses in times of emergency.

Friday Flash Fiction – The Curse of the Cheap Lipstick

I was ready for my interview; arrived early, driven past company headquarters, found somewhere to park, checked my make up in the rear vision mirror, delved into handbag for lipstick – gone? I rummaged then tipped out all the contents on the passenger seat, no lipstick.

There were no decent shops nearby, only ‘CostaLittel’ and I would not dream of going in there. I recalled overhearing a conversation in the beauty department of ‘Dearmans’, my local department store.

Fancy paying that much for a lipstick when you can get them for £1.99 in CostaLittel.

The woman speaking and her friend looked as if all their makeup and clothes came from Costalittel.

But this was an emergency. I slipped in to Costalittel, picked up a bottle of milk and a packet of fake digestive biscuits, holding them aloft so everyone would assume the office tea club had sent me out and sneaked a look at shelves full of unfamiliar boxes and bottles. There they were; rows of plastic, silver cylinders, three colours to choose from.

‘Would you like a carrier bag?’ said the young man on the till, changing my twenty pound note without batting an eye lid, or sparing me a glance.

‘No thank you, urgent supplies for the office.’

I slipped the lipstick in my pocket and just before I got to the door saw a large bin, donations for the food bank, I dropped the milk and biscuits in.

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Through the revolving doors, signed in at the desk, into the elegant ladies, marble everywhere with free standing elegant bowls and gold taps. In the fancy frame mirror I applied the lipstick, which co-ordinated remarkably with my blouse, but set my lips tingling. I prayed I would not have an allergic reaction before the interview was finished.

In the swish lift I checked the long panel of buttons, looking for the fifteenth floor, hearing heavy breathing I turned to see a huge stomach squeeze through the doors just as they were closing. I was pressed into the corner, my eyes level with the sign that said ‘maximum of 12 persons’.

My lips tingled again. ‘He must account for eleven people’ I smiled to myself.

‘I beg your pardon,’ said the fat man ‘did you say something?’

first floor, lifestyle health suite said a disembodied female voice.

‘Bet they wouldn’t even let chummy here through the door’ I thought. My lips tingled again, but fat man was blocking the mirror on the lift wall, so I couldn’t check if my lips were swelling.

He cleared his throat loudly and glared at me, I pretended to examine the names of the companies and relevant floors.

‘Which floor did you want?’ he barked.

‘Fifteenth, I’ve pressed the button, Buchannon and Tate – if the poor lift makes it that far with his weight’ I added to myself.

The man’s face flushed, from the puce colour it already was, to purple. That’s when I wondered if my lips were speaking my thoughts out loud… no ridiculous. ‘Please let him get out soon.’

‘I’m also going to the fifteenth floor’ he rasped.

Fourth floor…fifth floor… sixth floor

The female voice continued unperturbed, as the doors opened people stepped back to wait for the next lift, until one brave older lady squeezed in.

‘Good morning Mr. Buchannon’ said the very smartly dressed woman.

He grunted and my heart sank.

‘I hope I get Mr. Tate on the interview panel’ I prayed. My lips tingled and I knew I had spoken the words out loud.

‘It’s Mrs Tate actually’ said the woman tersely.

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Friday Flash Fiction – Black Mamba

John had set out to buy a birthday present, but had no idea where to go or what to choose. The initial euphoria at being invited to the party, albeit at the last moment, had been replaced by panic. When his mobile beeped and he looked at the message one question had been answered; what time to turn up? Two of the others in the group were going to meet him at the tube station; he had never been to Ali’s place before.

He smiled to himself, now he had a timetable to work to and the weekend was looking up. That was the good thing about being in London, you didn’t have to be lonely, there was always something going on, especially if you were part of a group. He had started going dancing to get out and meet people and it seemed to be working. The group of twentyandthirtysomethings had absorbed him. From Valentine’s evening to bank holidays, it didn’t matter if you weren’t in a couple; there was always a dance or a picnic in the park. With mobile phones and Facebook everybody kept in touch. He tried to explain to his mother on the phone that these days girls and boys could just be friends; if he mentioned a girl’s name she was liable to get twittery.

 

Ali was his friend, she was everybody’s friend, the centre of the group. He had no idea if there was a boyfriend lurking in the background, too new in the group to know much about the lives of the others.

John sighed, he surely wasn’t the only bloke who fancied Ali. She was tall, slim and beautiful, but there was more to her than that. The first time he saw her on the dance floor, her long legs were encased in jazzy black tights and she wore a short red tartan skirt that his mother would have called ‘no more than a belt’. Ali’s short black hair, stunning eye make up and black lipstick were set off by the broad, black leather collar with spikes that she wore around her long neck. It was a look that only Ali could carry off with aplomb. She had done modelling, but was far too intelligent to actually be a model; her job was something interesting and arty.

He found himself at the flower market near Brick Lane. Flowers would be a safe gift he pondered, as he paused at a stall. Amongst the lush bouquets he saw a small pot, a neat plant with two small flowers.

‘It’s a Black Mamba Gallia Lilly’ the flower woman interrupted his thoughts.

John picked up the pot and examined the exquisite flower. No flower could be truly black; these blooms were deepest purple, the hint of colour gave them their beautiful velvet sheen.

‘I’ve got some nice pink tissue paper if it’s for a present’ she said helpfully.

Ali certainly didn’t do pink.

‘Do you have black tissue paper?’

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When the three of them arrived at Ali’s place it was so crowded he wasn’t sure of the set up. Girls were arriving bearing shiny gift bags; he tried to see what the other men had brought and hung back as Ali gratefully hugged everybody. As people wandered off to get drinks he nervously edged forward and proffered his gift.

‘Oh, it’s perfect, that’s so me, you really get it.’

She pecked his cheek and he kissed her shyly, wary of the collar spikes. She clasped his hand.

‘Come through and meet Lucas, my fiancé.’