Really Surreal

When you get back into town and nothing is quite how you remembered…

A jolly day out…
…meeting friends…
…for coffee…
Think the weather’s brightening up?
Shopping centre’s changed since I was last here.
Wonder what the new book shop is like.
…or the new department store?
Very nice, but I haven’t seen any human beings yet…

Silly Saturday Short Story – Jolly Jumper

I was looking forward to a quiet Saturday when the doorbell rang. I only half opened the door, hoping to keep out the torrential rain and wind. On the doorstep stood a complete stranger, or at least it was hard to recognise who she might be with her head bowed and face concealed by the hood of her sodden coat. When she looked up, her expression was one of confusion.
‘Oh, er sorry, is your daughter in?’
I relaxed, pushing the door back another inch. ‘I think you must have the wrong house, I don’t have a daughter.’
‘Oh erm… is this The Lighthouse? Only I was a bit confused because it doesn’t look like the pictures and it isn’t very near the sea.’
Who was this stranger and what pictures?
‘It is only ten minutes walk from the cliff top’ I retorted.
And what business of hers what I called my house? It was a bit of a joke, my fantasy of living in a lighthouse on a rocky outcrop hadn’t quite materialised. The little featureless home in a row of similar houses could have been in any suburb anywhere, but I could walk to the sea; if my knee wasn’t playing up or the weather wasn’t too dreadful.
‘I don’t suppose mine is the only house called The Lighthouse, did you use SatNav?’
‘I came on the train.’
That explained her drowned rat appearance, a cliché, but she did actually look like a drowned rat; it was a good walk from the station. What was I supposed to do with her? She had an accent I couldn’t place.
‘I’m sorry I can’t help you, is it a friend or relative you’re looking for?’
‘I was sure this was the right place, Sandbourne, Wessex, I’m over in England for a writers’ convention in London next week.’
I felt a touch of sympathy for a fellow writer and a niggle of guilt that I had not invited her to put even a toe inside the door.
‘What a shame you have such awful weather for your day at the seaside, it might brighten up later. I hope you manage to find your friend.’
‘She’s a fellow blogger, I’ve never actually met her.’
A disquieting bell began to ring inside my head. I am a blogger, but who on earth would want to meet me in real life. Perhaps Sandbourne was full of bloggers who would welcome a visit, but I had no desire to meet fellow bloggers in real life. The whole point of blogging was surely to avoid people.
The woman blinked away large drops of water splashing down from my gutter. ‘She’s called Scribbletide, her blog’s called ‘To The Lighthouse’ … you know, after the Virginia Woolf novel.’
‘Yes, yes, I have read it, they never actually get to the lighthouse.’
Hmm, just like me, that’s why I called my blog that… I never get to the lighthouse. But how on earth had this bedraggled refugee from abroad found out where I lived and how long before she cottoned on that I no longer looked like that picture of me taken thirty years ago, nor do I live on Portland Bill. I could carry on feigning ignorance and hope she cleared off, but what if she told the rest of the blogging world the truth? No more Likes and ‘hugs’, no more followers. And I was intrigued, which of my thirteen followers was she?

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‘You had better come in, as long as you promise not to write a blog about me.’
With her dripping coat hanging over the kitchen chair and a mug of tea in her hands she looked a bit more presentable, but with no resemblance to any blogger I could think of.
‘So are you Scribbletide?’ she stared at me suspiciously.
‘Well it’s a long story… why don’t you tell me what your blog is called.’
‘Leaping into the Unknown, it’s my day today, my sixth birthday.’
It took me a few moments to cotton on. ‘Leap Year, 29th February today, your birthday, not a very exciting way to spend it. I don’t Do birthdays, but if you only have one every four years I guess it should be special. Do I follow your blog?’
‘Yes, all the time, I’m Jolly Jumper, you love my daredevil adventures.’
Now I knew why she did not look familiar, her blog persona was a cartoon superwoman who wore a colourful Scandiknit jumper. Her real self looked like she would get vertigo climbing a step ladder.

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I took her to the cliff top café for tea and a big slice of cake. She wouldn’t go near the edge of the cliff as she was scared of heights, but with the dreadful weather, we were happy to sit inside and chat. After seeing her off on the train back to London I went home to start my new blog post.
P1070246What a thrill today to meet a fellow blogger from over the ocean. My special visitor, Jolly Jumper, was dropped off by the Sandbourne Lifeboat and scrambled up the craggy rocks to knock on the door of my lighthouse. It was so windy I could hardly open the heavy wooden door…

Wish You Were Here

I started collecting picture post cards when I was eight and still buy them on holiday to send to the oldest and youngest in the family; people like getting mail through their letter box, including Pete who blogs as beetleypete. When he asked if people still sent postcards bloggers started sending them, as you can see on his blog post.

https://beetleypete.com/2019/08/31/postcards-from-blogging-friends/

‘If anyone else would like to post one to me, you can read my address easily, and your card will be featured in Part Two.
Thanks again to all of you who took the time and trouble to send me a card.’

When we were away in Whitby I bought an extra card and as I sat down to write ( and here’s my confession – I don’t get around to writing postcards till about two weeks after returning ) and saw the piece of paper on which I had written his address lying on the table, it gave me an idea for a dark story. The names and places have been changed to protect the innocent! Thanks to Pete for the idea.

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Detective Inspector Greaves stepped through the front door, he needed to go no further to see the body. The scene was bloodless, but any impression that the woman had died of natural causes was cast aside when another step revealed a large syringe stuck in the back of her neck. Why would the killer leave the evidence when it could have been the perfect murder?

‘Where’s the husband?’ Greaves asked the uniformed officer.

‘In the kitchen, doing the washing up Sir.’

‘What! Crime scene, evidence… did you stop and think?’

‘No Sir, he said his wife liked to have everything clean and tidy if they were having visitors.’

Further discussion was pointless, he sent the officer outside to keep a little band of neighbours at bay and stepped carefully round the body to make his way to the kitchen, where a middle aged man was vigorously polishing a glass.

‘She always liked to leave the house tidy when we went out, in case anything happened to us while we were out and the police had to break in and…’

‘Mr… Mr. Stanton isn’t it? I need to ask you a few questions… When you came home was the front door locked?’

‘Yes, everything looked normal until I unlocked the door.’

‘And where were you today?’

‘With the chaps, four of us, been away on a three day golf break, they dropped me off first, drove off before I got inside.’

‘So they can confirm that. Did you call your wife while you were away?’

‘Yesterday morning.’

‘Was that the last time you spoke or had any contact, no emails, whatsapp?’

‘Yes, she was fine, enjoying the peace, no sign… who… it doesn’t make sense…’

For the first time the man showed emotion, but shock could do strange things. When Greaves had sat the man in the police car with two officers he returned alone to gain an impression of the home and the lives of these two people. An ordinary house in a quiet road that had never drawn attention to itself before; nothing could be assumed, but on the face of it this was a bizarre senseless murder.

In the dining room he spotted a piece of paper on the polished table; an address, no phone number or email.

Geoff Jones, Cowslip Lane, Tweedley, Norfolk, NR19 2D3.

Greaves checked the address book sitting neatly by the house phone and found no entry for a Geoff Jones or anyone in Norfolk.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Back at the police station Mr. Stanton was safely installed in an interview room, alibis checked, background checked. Inspector Greaves started with the only piece of evidence.

‘Who is Geoff Jones?’

‘Never heard of him.’

‘Has your wife got friends or relatives in Norfolk?’

‘No, she’s never even been to Norfolk.’

‘Mrs. Stanton, was she still working or retired?’

‘Retired, or she reckoned she was still working, did stuff on the computer, goodness knows what, I don’t go on the internet, but she was happy dabbling with her writing, left me in peace to watch what I liked on television.’

‘As routine procedure we will seize… er take your wife’s computer, I assume you have no objections?’

‘Well she won’t be needing it will she… oh God, I can’t believe this is happening…’

At that moment a female officer knocked on the door with a cup of tea, though they were supposed to have equality Greaves was glad to leave her to deal sympathetically with the overwrought husband. He had work to do.

Back in the office he handed out tasks to his small team. ‘Check this address and if it’s genuine get onto Norfolk Police and ask them to send someone round.’

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In Cowslip Lane Geoff Jones was enjoying the evening news; the doorbell took him and the dog by surprise. On the doorstep stood a young man, trying to edge inside out of the torrential rain. He showed a warrant card.

‘Mr. Geoff Jones?’

‘Yes, that’s me, oh god, has something happened to my wife, no they send uniform for that don’t they?’

‘No, just a routine enquiry. Do you know a Mrs. Rita Stanton of Mulberry Close, Sandbourne, Dorset?’

‘Dorset, I don’t know anyone in Dorset.’

‘Are you, er do you live alone?’

‘No, my wife’s away for a few days at her sister’s.’

‘Might she know Mrs. Stanton or anyone in Dorset?’

‘NO, look what is this about?’

Andy’s first day as a detective constable wasn’t going well so far.

‘We’re making enquiries about a murder I’m afraid. Have you been outside the village in the last two days, work, visiting?’

Andy was gratified to see Geoff Jones look distinctly nervous.

‘No, I’m retired, well a writer actually, blogger; all I’ve been up to is taking Rufus on his two hour walks and doing my blogs.’

‘Can anyone confirm that?’

‘I haven’t seen a soul, no one else has been out in this dreadful wet weather, but what on earth has any of this to do with me?’

The young detective felt suspicion creeping into his bones, who would take a dog out for two hours in the torrential rain? As he tried to edge further into the hallway and avoid the very large dog, he got a glimpse into the front room. On every shelf and available surface were propped picture postcards.

‘You must have a lot of friends Mr. Jones, a lot of friends that go on holiday?’

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The next police visit to Geoff’s house was in the morning. This time Andy was accompanied by a search warrant and an inspector from Dorset Police, who had driven up overnight. Fortuitously they met the postman at the door, with a postcard from Dorset. Jones’ computer was taken away, Jones himself was taken away and all the postcards collected up.

6

In the interview room Geoff Jones protested his innocence, though he hadn’t actually been arrested. ‘Blogging friends, I wrote a post about picture post cards and followers kept sending them.’

Greaves left him to stew for a while and went back to the office to see how enquiries were going and stared at the postcard posted in Sandbourne, Dorset.

Wish you Were Here!

Best Wishes from Rita Stanton ( Scribbletide )

 He tried to curb the enthusiasm of the young detective.

‘We may have barged in too quickly, if this poor man is totally innocent we have some explaining to do. The card seems to prove what he told us about his followers. What have you found on the internet?’

‘Jones was telling the truth about the blogging and the post cards, what he didn’t mention was that a while ago he wrote a serialised story about a chap who wanted to commit the perfect murder.’

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Storms and Seas

If you live near the sea you need to prepare for storms.

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But we don’t live that near the sea as we couldn’t afford a view.

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Was sunset from the bedroom window heralding Storm Callum? We used to just have wind and rain till someone in charge of the weather decided we would take bad weather more seriously ( and join the big boys, the hurricanes ) if we had storms with names.

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Morning brought rain and wind to the back door…

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But we had to walk to the cliff top to check if Storm Callum had really arrived.

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If it’s so windy you can’t breathe ( or walk straight ) it means you are having fun…

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…and it was a good idea to take the scenic route to the shops.

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Our best storm occurred on Valentine’s night 2014. Weather reports warned everybody to stay away from the coast, so we rushed to the cliff top at high tide the next morning.

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Beach huts smashed to matchsticks, but no casualties locally except in my novel; this is where I got the idea for the opening to ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’ – my WIP novel which I have’t quite finished yet…

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Wet and Windy

1Taking a trip to the seaside? No holiday is complete without a rainy day or several…

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Looks like it’s brightening up, should be fine by the time we get there.

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There’s a nice pub by the river we can stop for lunch and sit outside if…

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Looks like it’s set in for the day, tomorrow’s forecast is better.

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At least someone’s smiling.

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Holiday time!

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No holiday is complete without battling against wind and rain along the promenade.

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Don’t forget to post on Instagram and Facebook so your friends will be envious.

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Look around and take in the views.

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This is exhilarating.

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Wonder if anywhere’s open for a hot chocolate.

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Looks like we should be able to find somewhere to sit…

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…and a window with a view.

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Looks like it’s brightening up.

Silly Saturday

I have loved taking photographs since I was eight, though I have never been interested in the technical side; merely pointing and shooting my way through black and white, colour slides, Polaroid and back to colour prints until digital changed photography for all of us. Suddenly we could take lots and lots of pictures and I became addicted. When I finally succumbed to a smart phone I was even more obsessed; joining those I had previously sneered at as they gave everyone a pictorial commentary on their meals or child’s tantrums. 29026303_2009414072421706_3591610815813255168_o(1)

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, my Website… all waiting to be filled with pictures. Here are this week’s silly selection. A week of all weathers made it especially fun.28584870_2000526599977120_2006830012_o

The phenomenum of freezing rain created real frosted windows.28641119_2000128503350263_185788723_o28642842_1996678273695286_74645765_oAll Fired Up Cafe provided a winter retreat.

http://potterycafebournemouth.co.uk/

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Then suddenly the snow melted and the sun shone.

Boscombe Pier is full of musical instruments.

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On Friday we had torrential rain and more photo opportunities…

28872393_2010324878997292_623618002859851776_o…on the bus. What luck that the first bus to come along was…

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https://www.bybus.co.uk/features-offers/blog/the-gallery-bus-such-fun

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Back into town to ‘All Fired Up’ to collect my fired camper van; a money box to save my author earnings and a reminder to get on with writing my camper van detective’s novel.

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Every chapter of my website is full of photographs.

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

You can read two novellas and a short story featuring  Tobias Elliot Channing, the young camper van detective, in Someone Somewhere.

Friday Flash Fiction Fantasy

                                      Andromeda Advertiser                           

       The Hotel Inspector

 How long would you spend in suspended animation to reach a one planet solar system? How many holidaymakers would be prepared to trek across the universe to visit the only habitable planet in a third rate solar system? Planet Gaia has only one moon and an outdated space station; what it does have is water and this is the main selling point in their first venture into intergalactic tourism.

The second unusual feature is its tilted axis, which gives it a great variety of climates to choose from. The downside? The brochures omit to mention the unpredictable nature of the locals, or even to explain which is the prime species.

Our tour started when we woke up on the moon, quaintly called Lunar Base. From here we enjoyed wonderful views of the shining blue planet; this alone made the trip worthwhile. We had yet to meet our hosts.

Next stop was the antiquated space station which must be pre booked due to lack of space, but essential if you wish to orbit Gaia.

By the time we landed on the planet we were ready for a meal. We had chosen a tiny island with a mild climate which boasted large colonies of homosapiens. The hotel itself was on the edge and not for the faint hearted unused to water.

This was when the tour began to lose some of its starlight. How do the locals expect to attract tourists without making any effort to learn their language? Even the sign language was limited by their possession of only two arms. It can only be presumed that the more intelligent species live in the oceans, but we did not have time for the underwater trips, nor was our travel agent accredited for this risky expedition.

Our meal was surprisingly tasty and we were soon ready for our guided tour. Having come this far I was determined to put my foot in the water which is called by many names; here it was flat, thin, perfectly safe and called sea. The sensation was not unpleasant and we also enjoyed watching the homosapiens splashing around making their mating calls.

Our party of three and a half was booked in for five days, but the brochure skimmed over the fact that the days are very short, making the stay poor value for money. The ablution facilities consisted of more water, with no sign of any hot dust. Our first night was cramped and uncomfortable; we should have been advised to book more than one room.

The most fascinating aspect was the rapid change of atmospheric conditions. We had not been guaranteed rain, so we were delighted on the second day when the hotel was pounded by strong air currents full of water. From our viewing platform we could see the water had now turned to waves and we were glad to be in the shelter of the hotel.

How did I rate the experience? Mixed; frankly we were glad that the days were so short. I gave our accommodation five suns.