Silly Saturday – Not Going Out

Whether you are stuck in your twenty bedroom mansion with many acres of private grounds or alone in a tiny flat, there are some advantages to being in the majority of the population not allowed to go out. Remember that feeling when your mother believed it when you said you felt ill and you didn’t have to go to school? Recreate that inner freedom of spirit for yourself every morning.

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You don’t have to decide what to wear each day, even if you are still in your dressing gown when you put the bins out no one will be around to see you.
If you are a schoolchild you are taking part in the biggest social experiment ever; if your exasperated parents call you a rat they just mean it affectionately, you are a laboratory rat. Perhaps the experiment will prove that actually nobody needs to go to school. If you had no friends at school you are a winner, nobody has any friends at school now.

 

Parents, if you are one of those families that appeared in that documentary, Twenty Two Children and Another on the Way, you are laughing, now is your time, with a ready made school and team sports. As you could never afford to go out anyway with all those children, life goes on much the same.
Adults, you don’t have to go to work, or if you have to work from home you can do it in your pyjamas.
You don’t have to go out, you don’t have to go to that boring party, your in-laws’ wedding, that tedious conference, parents’ evening, to the cinema to see that ghastly film your partner wanted to see and you don’t have to go to the dentist.
You can watch television all day long, especially twenty four hour corona coverage.

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Tired of decision making? Remember waking up to sunny Saturdays and discussing how to make the most of a nice weekend? We must go somewhere, but where, a favourite place or somewhere new? A local walk or major expedition? Take a picnic or eat out? Shall we call Barbara and John and see if they want to meet up?

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Ironically you will get to know your neighbours better, even if you do have to yell from your balcony, over the fence or across the road. They are home all the time and the ones that tried to avoid you are pitifully grateful when you wave to them.
Your dog is happy, very happy, never lonely and five walks a day with each member of the family going on their allotted outing.
If you are an introvert this is your time. No one is going to tell you that getting out more would be good for you.

You will have plenty of time to catch up with all those ( my ) books you wanted to read.

 

What advantages have you found in your confinement to home?

Silly Saturday – No News

Here are the news headlines.

At the international summit of newscasters it was unanimously decided to cease broadcasting news. This was in response to research that shows a constant diet of disasters and war has a detrimental effect on the mental health of individuals and the population as a whole. Experts also believe that constant attention to the behaviour of the worst world leaders and the narcissism of celebrities only encourages them.

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And in other news…
Cleaners were called to aisle nine at a Sainsbury’s supermarket after an incident involving a customer and a large jar of pickled beetroot. Broken glass was found at the scene, but no injuries were reported.

A family of five were left to survive on pot noodles when their planed meal ended in disaster. Mrs. Smith was quoted as saying ‘The butter was already melting in the frying pan for the omelette when I suddenly realised I had forgotten to buy the eggs.’

A man was left penniless when his local cash machine would not dispense any money. He was forced to walk two hundred yards up the high street to the next machine.

Residents were evacuated safely from a two storey block of flats when a fire alarm was accidentally set off.

 

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A passenger revealed the details of her nightmare journey when roadworks caused a traffic diversion. ‘I would have caught the number fifteen if I had known, I don’t usually get the number fifteen because it goes all round that estate where my sister used to live, though I used to get it when she did live there. Anyway, I got on the number fourteen outside Boots and low and behold I thought why are we turning here? I’m going to be late for the dentist… I started going to him in town as the ones round the corner were useless when I needed my root canal done. Five minutes late I was, though I needn’t have worried as the chap before me took extra time…

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Work has been delayed yet again on a pensioner’s shed after his drill bit broke. Staff at his local B&Q saved the day by showing him to aisle 17b where he found the correct size.

The search continues for a five year old missing since Boxing Day. The white and tabby cat named Tibbles was last seen under the Christmas tree. His owner, who asked not to be named, said he had never gone missing before and blames herself for being away from her computer. ‘He usually drapes himself over the keyboard as soon as I sit down at my desk.’

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Record numbers of shoppers did not attend the Boxing Day sales.

An unknown author was unable to post her blog as her new computer said ‘NO’. Returning from the Christmas break she switched it on, only to read constant messages saying it was updating and restarting.

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Thursday Terror Tale – Breaking News

BBC News 24   10.40 pm   Wednesday 30th October ‘The Papers’

‘With me tonight discussing tomorrow morning’s papers are the financial editor of The Guardian and a journalist with the Huffington Post. Shall we start with the rather bizarre headline in several papers that scientists have discovered the devil actually exists, James?’

‘Well this is one story my paper has missed Satan Certainty says The Sun people really do hear voices and it’s The Devil talking to them. Obviously this is going to be used by the Tories as an excuse to reduce funding for mental health services.’

‘Sarah?’

‘Or as a crafty way of diverting attention away from the Brexit Fiasco.’

‘Precisely and if it was true it would be more scary than Putin or North Korea.’

‘This is a team of highly acclaimed physicists, can we be sure it is not true?’

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BBC 1 Breakfast   7.23am   Thursday 31st October

‘…and the story breaking overnight is that a group of eminent scientists have proved that Satan is real, alive and watching us now. Joining us on the sofa we have an archbishop and a humanist. Let’s get straight to the point. Archbishop, hasn’t the church always claimed the Devil exists, so what’s new?’

‘Not as depicted in films. Evil exists, but not of course an actual devil; evil can’t be reduced to a person called Old Nick, anymore than we can perceive God Almighty as a person.’

‘Isn’t that what you claim Jesus was?’

‘Yes, yes of course, but…’

‘As a humanist I believe that people create both good and evil and these ridiculous ideas are going to harm a lot of vulnerable people…’

‘… let’s go over to the sports desk …’

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BBC Radio 4   9.am   Thursday 31st October   ‘The Life Scientific’

‘And my guest this morning is the scientist who led the team that has recently discovered, or claimed to have proved, the devil exists. Angela, when you were a child did you ever imagine you would become one of the country’s leading experts in such a field?’

‘No, no my parents were both ardent atheists and I wasn’t even allowed to go to school assembly or be in the nativity play, then one day I found a stack of Dennis Wheatley novels hidden in my parents’ wardrobe…’

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BBC 1 7pm   Thursday 31st October   ‘The One Show’

‘What do you make of today’s startling news that the devil has been discovered, or rather has at last been proved to be real. Our guest this evening claims to have met Satan. What did he actually look like?’

‘He can take many forms, that is why neither the police nor my GP believed me.’

‘So where did you meet him?’

‘On Facebook. Luckily one of my Twitter followers had also met him and Tweeted some advice, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.’

‘I believe you had a narrow escape.’

‘Yes indeed, I nearly sold my soul to Satan…’

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BBC2 10.30pm   Thursday 31st October   ‘Newsnight’

‘It is barely twenty four hours since scientists revealed that The Devil actually exists and while some academics are already arguing whether we write his name with capital letters or even whether we can ascribe a gender, for most of the world’s population it has not yet sunk in. Our guests tonight are a representative of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a member of JW.Org who believes some people have actually sold their soul to The Devil.’

‘We’re not sure of the numbers, it could be in the thousands.’

‘But isn’t it a scandal that these people were not helped sooner, before it was too late…’

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BBC News 24   11.40pm   Tuesday 31st October ‘The Papers’

‘Since last night’s breaking news, more and more people are coming forward to say they have met The Devil. To discuss tomorrow’s first editions we have a journalist from The Times and the cultural editor from The Sun.’

‘Our readers are saying why didn’t they come forward before, but the obvious answer is that nobody would have believed them.’

‘…and the sad fact is that they are still not fully believed, that they have sold their souls to Satan.’

‘Our editorial is taking this matter seriously, but we must realise there is a big difference between people in powerful positions, who have got there by selling their souls and vulnerable people who have been under Satanic influence.’

‘The Mirror has the most graphic front page with the headline

Satan to collect souls at midnight.’

‘Yes, midnight on Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve just before All Souls Day.’

‘…but that’s in ten minutes time…’

‘… er hmm… Stay with us here on News 24 with the headlines coming up at midnight.’

 

For tales of good and evil dip into Hallows and Heretics

 

Silly Saturday – How to be Fantastic on Facebook

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It’s hard to believe, but there are some people who are not on Facebook. Think of what they are missing. These are some of the things I have learnt from Facebook. Cats and dogs can get on together. Lots of people like cats, lots of people like dogs. Horses like visiting people in hospital. Baby pandas just wanna have fun. Walruses like sleeping on submarines.

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You can also learn about people on Facebook, what they are eating at the new restaurant or what got stolen from their van last night. You can even find out about people you actually know. In fact Facebook is the only way you will find out what your family are doing – if you can decipher the cryptic messages and pictures. Are they still stuck broken down on the motorway. Is that their Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy or their friend’s ? What on earth are they doing at Sheremetyevo International Airport?

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What do you post on Facebook? There is no need to bother catching up with emails and phone calls to numerous friends and relatives. If you want everyone to know your latest news just post an enigmatic message. ‘Another hot day on the Nullabor Plain.’ Soon you will be inundated with messages from long lost friends.

Hey hun, what’s up, didn’t the job in Northampton work out?

Or post an ultrasound picture of a black and white alien with the words ‘Tabitha is going to have a baby brother.’

Hugs hun, sooo pleased for you.

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But Facebook has more than one page to scroll down; if you are a writer you can have an author page, if you run your own business you can have a page promoting your fantastic products and services. The advantage is that everything on that page is yours, unlike the rest of Facebook, full of boring other people. The only drawback, probably no one is ever going to see it. But just in case anyone accidentally finds themselves at Your Page, make sure your profile picture is sophisticated and professional.

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https://www.facebook.com/Beachwriter/

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Journalism

TERROR GRIPS QUIET CUL-DE-SAC AS BODY IS FOUND

Report by Charli Dickenson for Sunnytown Gazette

Police were called to Primrose Close, Sunnytown this morning following reports of a suspicious death.

Mr. Ron Wood was just returning from fetching his newspaper when he was shocked to see blue lights flashing. Talking to News South at lunchtime he said it was normally very quiet in their neighbourhood.

Mrs Anne Fletcher told Sunnytown Gazette that she had been out walking her four year old Labradoodle Rosie in the Sunnytown memorial recreation ground when she was startled by sirens. On returning to Primrose Close she was very worried to see an ambulance and thought it might be Mr Trotter at number six, with his heart.

‘Then I saw ambulance crew going into number nine, I don’t know her name, I think it’s her son who comes once a week. Then a police officer, in one of those yellow jackets, says do you live here Madam and I said number three, what’s happened and he replied he wasn’t at liberty to say.’

Mr. Bert Todd who lives next door to the bungalow being investigated thought it might be an incident involving plutonium and said they had never had plutonium in Primrose Close before.

Police later confirmed that a ninety nine year old woman had died in her home at Primrose Close of natural causes.

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Fewer people are buying paper newspapers these days and local newspapers are also under threat. If you have bought a local newspaper lately you may well have lost the will to live, or at the very least wished you hadn’t bothered. You could go on line and look at the same news for free, but that is even more depressing if it features comments by the public; the public being those who have nothing better to do or no one else to listen to their opinions.

The comments usually look like this, only ten times as long.

Comment deleted.

The Sunnytown Gazette does not tolerate comments that are abusive.

Another shop brake in, oviously the yusyool yobs from..

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People over eighty shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Hanging’s too good for them

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Are the days of real journalists and press photographers over?

Newspapers just have to wait for readers to send in their own photographs or report instantly from their mobile phones as incidents are actually happening.

 We are all journalists now, but to be a top journalist you have to have a blog. Bloggers are the new press, but we don’t have to worry about keeping our editor happy. Whether you present daily reports on your dog or political commentary on world events you are a journalist. Your blog is a newspaper with colour supplements, far more interesting than the heavy Sunday papers.  But we still share something with the printing presses of old, we are usually up late at night getting the next edition out.

 

 

Silly Saturday – No News

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We were hoping to go over to our correspondent… somewhere, but apparently there is no news today. However we will bring you an update as soon as there is some news.

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Now we go over to Sally for the weather… oh, I’m just hearing there is no weather today… If you’ve just joined us we’re receiving reports that there is no news today. Those of you who are following us on Twitter please let us know what is not happening in your area and send us your pictures.

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Tributes are pouring in for a writer who didn’t become a household name, but her husband thought it would be nice if she heard some plaudits for her work while she was still alive.

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Reports that Stonehenge had turned into fudge overnight turned out to be pure fudge.

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Traffic delays are not expected anywhere today

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and reports are coming in that nothing is happening in many places.

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Meetings were to be held, but there’s no point now.

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No one was called to 10, Downing Street.

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Businesses also reported a slump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us again for the lunchtime news when we hope to bring you some, in the meantime viewers have been sending in pictures of their pets.

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If you like looking at photos instead of the news there are pictures aplenty at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views/

Facebook Friends Forever

The first time I saw Facebook on the computer screen there was a picture of my sister-in-law getting her breast tattooed. My daughter was trying to show me what it was all about, but that was enough to put anyone off.

Christmas 2018 was my ninth anniversary of being on Facebook, I don’t recall agreeing, but one second we were upstairs on the computer, my daughter typing away my personal details, the next second there was a Facebook friend request from daughter-in-law downstairs. Five seconds later there was a friend request from that ghastly child in my daughter’s class; in her class from playgroup onwards through all the long years of school…

‘Why on earth does she want to be my friend?’

‘DON’T accept, she asks to be everybody’s friend as she hasn’t got any real friends.’

Love it, hate it or are you a shadow, watching what others are doing without ever appearing? Authors are exhorted to have a presence on line and a Facebook  Author Page, and it was a good meeting place at the start, joining writers’ forums etc.

https://www.facebook.com/Beachwriter/

Most of us probably use it to see what everyone else in the family is up to and it is amazing to have messenger groups for family and friends and exchange pictures and news across the world in seconds.

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It took me a while to figure out how to post pictures that I had taken with my camera and loaded onto my desk top computer; I was filled with awe seeing people tap mysteriously on their mobile phones and put pictures straight on Facebook. When I finally acquired a smart phone I immediately became addicted to keeping people up to date with scenic views or strange sights.

What are some of the other things we can do on Facebook? Know how late everyone else is staying up or how early your FB friends in Australia get up. You might be discovered by a long lost relative and wish you hadn’t. See lots and lots of pandas and even more cats. Sign many petitions to save the world, see lots of the world and plenty of places you will never see; but in return smugly post pictures of places they will never visit. Join your local community group and start a conversation that could go on for days  ‘I went in that new restaurant and waited an hour for my dinner and the staff were very rude’.27835424_1971591706203943_476442722_oPress LIKE when you see a funny cartoon and lots more funny cartoons will pop up. If they make me LaughOutLoud I share them; there are plenty of people out there who can’t sleep or are stuck at home ill and love something to cheer them up. Cartoonists can say in a few pen strokes more than writers can in a page, so thank you cartoonists.

Time waster? What is the most inane thing you have found yourself glued to? Press LIKE when you see a news item posted by your friend in the USA and a few nights later you may find yourself watching a car chase filmed by a news helicopter. Keep watching, marvelling at the freeways ten lanes wide, keep watching to see if the police will catch up with the driver. Call out to anybody else in the house to come and have a look, but they have already gone to bed. You promise yourself to watch for two more minutes only before you go and clean your teeth, but those freeways and endless bridges are mesmerising and still the police are keeping up but not catching… like Facebook it goes on forever.

 

 

Tidalscribe’s Tiny Terrors

As I sat reading a book I felt and heard the reassuring rumble of the underground. But I was not on a London tube train, Mum and Dad were in the kitchen next door washing the dishes. We were in our little suburban house in Perth, Western Australia.
It was 10.59am, a bank holiday on the 14th October 1968, we had just experienced the Meckering Earthquake, my mother said she had to cling to the kitchen sink. The small town of Meckering was 130 km away in the wheat belt, the 45 second earthquake was magnitude 6.9 on the Richter Scale making it one of the largest recorded in the seismic history of Australia. A few buildings in Perth were damaged. A baby had a miraculous escape in Meckering, their town fell down, but no one was killed. Had the epicentre been in a big city it could have been a major disaster. For us it was exciting, proof that Man cannot control nature.

At school the next day the earthquake was the only topic of conversation. In the classroom we were all startled to feel an aftershock, this time we knew what it was and we were scared. The teacher told us to calm down. There was no evacuation or talk of emergency procedures. It was unlikely the one storey asbestos building would collapse dramatically.

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Fast forward to December 1974, Knightsbridge, London; I had a Christmas job as a floorwalker in Harrods toy department. It was the Saturday before Christmas and that afternoon I had the last tea break. The staff restaurant was on the top floor. As I stood in the Ladies combing my hair I heard a muffled thud and assumed it was an IRA bomb going off somewhere else. Of importance later was the fact that I had my handbag with me.

I walked out to see the busy shop deserted, the escalators switched off and a couple of security guards annoyed to see me still in the building, everyone else had been evacuated. Somehow I caught up with colleagues as we poured out of the building; it was only as we looked up and saw thick black smoke pouring from the corner of the iconic department store that the shock hit us. No one was hurt that day, the heroes were the staff who had noticed something suspicious in their department and evacuated customers safely. Heavy fire doors had contained the explosion. Once again I had had a wide escape. We sat in a nearby pub waiting to go back in and fetch our coats, but nobody would return to work that evening. Lucky for me I had my handbag with my season ticket for the train, even if the journey home was a bit chilly without my coat.

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News is with us in all the media twenty four hours a day and this year fire, flood, hurricanes and earthquakes have been regular events and of a magnitude hard to comprehend. We wonder what it is like to be at the heart of a major disaster. Reporters find their way to the most unreachable scenes of devastation only to ask victims how they feel.

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Back to Perth, Western Australia, when my fourteen year old self was riding her bike. The suburbs were laid out in a grid design with long straight roads, there was a ‘Give Way To The Right’ rule, logical as long as everybody obeyed; there were always accidents at intersections. I was pedalling towards a corner when suddenly two cars collided in front of me, one of them rolled over. The two young drivers clambered out with some difficulty, but both were laughing, unhurt. When I tried to get back on my bike my legs were shaking so much I couldn’t lift my foot onto the pedal. I have always wondered if everyone benefits from adrenalin when faced with real peril, or if some people turn to jelly. How many writers secretly long to be in the midst of a disaster and emerge unscathed, or just a bit hurt so they can tell their dramatic story from a comfortable hospital bed?

Our family’s migration to Western Australia inspired my novel Quarter Acre Block – only 99 pence on Amazon Kindle, also available as a paperback.

 

Friday Flash Fiction -177 – Night Watch

Damp cold creeps up from the ground: long johns, zips, buttons, scarf, hat and gloves provide no defence against the bitter wind. I thought being a BBC cameraman would be a glamorous job, but someone has to do the night watch. At least it’s peaceful, better than being in a war zone.

I stay alert; my ear pieces are in, though all I can hear inside my woolly hat is my tinnitus, but when the signal comes I will be ready, this is a live broadcast.

He is standing motionless, head held high, I have him in my sight, in my lens, in focus. Then come the words I am waiting for.

We now go over live to Downing Street to hear from our political correspondent.

He looks directly at me, ready to speak to every home in the country, to tell the news we already know from the six o’clock bulletin, to repeat what the presenter in the warm studio has already recited from the news desk.

‘…as yet, there is no news from Downing Street.

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From News Book to New Blogs

Long before the existence of Blogs, long before I had heard the term, I had Writer’s Block. Every morning in my Church of England junior school we had to write in our news books, dinky little notebooks with lined and plain pages; one side for script, the other to draw a picture. One Monday morning I said to my teacher ‘I can’t think what to write.’

Did you spend all weekend in a cardboard box? Was his reply.

Sometimes it was easy, one morning at assembly there was an incident. One boy wrote for his news Tony was sick in assembly. There was a lurid picture, the puddle of vomit had become a lake.

Parents’ evening was the only chance mothers and fathers had to see what their little darlings had written. Apparently I wrote regularly that Mum and Dad had moved the furniture around at the weekend. My mother claimed the teachers were nosy and wanted to know what went on in our homes; she was amused to meet another mother who was mortified. Her child had written Mummy went out dancing with John’s Daddy, her explanation was that their respective spouses did not like dancing…

If we finished our news book we could not be idle, we had to quietly get on with a dictionary exercise, but I enjoyed doing that. Only when that was finished could you do free reading. One time my friend had a new plan. On my unescorted one and a half mile walk to school I would call for her on the way. Her mother would wave us off, once out of sight we would slow down. If we were late for assembly we had to go straight to the classroom and get on with writing our news; thus having an advantage over the rest of the class. I did feel guilty about this, our parents didn’t know, the teacher perhaps guessed we did it deliberately, but God, being Omnipotent, was sure to know we were absent from hymns and prayers.

Scripture lesson was a better opportunity for creative writing. We had a similar little exercise book, but horizontal. We would write that morning’s bible story in our own words on one page and draw a picture on the other. Illustrations were easy, flat roofed houses and people in long robes were simple to draw. I can’t remember how much I elaborated the story, but even then I felt there was not enough back story and character development in The Bible. Maybe if the disciples had kept a news book there would have been more detail in the Gospels.

The first part of my novel Quarter Acre Block is inspired by my four years at junior school.