Archive for February 2013

The Beaten Track

February 18, 2013

Against impossible odds, the following story won an award. See here for details

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The cacophony of passing strangers was wearing me down. Their random snippets of speech jarring my ears as they stride past me. The random fragments of their stories that will be forever unknown to me, unfinished Schubert conversations

“Tomasz Wrzesiński wins Gold for Britain,” howls the newspaper vendor.

Living in an over-populated urban metropolis means that when outdoors there are very few moments for quiet reflection. The bustle of crowds and the usual noises emanating from a big city environment are contributory factors to the dearth of good pastoral poets in this neighbourhood. The only one that made an impact in the literary scene was B. Keeper but he was the exception.

Deep in the heart of the city I jostle with consumers, commuters and window shoppers. I walk and eat my lunchtime snack of sausage rolls using my elbows to keep passers-by at a distance. Continuing my squash through the pell-mell I come to an unexplored part of the town. The people were thinning out and turning a corner I noticed there was nobody about and the houses were vacant. I carried on my merry way to the uninhabited barren land.

My walk came to a stop when I dead-ended myself in a cul-de-sac. One large dilapidated building caught my eye. Standing like a sentinel over a overgrown garden, it was an enticing decayed house of antiquity. I approached the front door. There was a small rectangular indentation where the nameplate used to be. The owners long since gone taking their identification with them. Par for the course for my day.

Then I see a children’s tricycle lying on its side on the grass. I’d guess it belonged to a child of nine or ten years of age going by the size of the bike. Although in a poor condition it still looked drivable. Glancing round and seeing that the neighbourhood was empty I did what any red-bloodied male what would do when there’s a bike handy- have a go on it.

I picked it up and checked that the pedals were working. I turned them round like the crank on an old cine camera and yes, the pedals were road worthy. It was now time to give it a test drive. Carrying the locomotive out of the garden I park it on the concrete road.

I clamber on to the cycle with the dexterity of a giraffe on a quad bike; my knees bean sprouted past the handlebars while my bottom spilled over the sides of the saddle. After a few false starts I built up a juddering rhythm. You never forget to ride a bike and my set of wheels were in motion.

Soon I was doing rounds of the garden paths and breaking my lap record time after time. To ward off boredom I decided to try out some new moves. I let go of the handle bars and straightened my back. I shouted to myself “Look! No hands!” as I pedalled furiously along the broken pathway. This caused me to take my eye off the undergrowth and I didn’t see the boulder until it was too late. The whole world and its dog came crashing down.

The air was glazed. It felt like I was in the clouds, floating, floating although I knew I was on the ground trapped by a tricycle. I began to regain consciousness and could hear a sweet voice cry out “come here, come here”. From the ether an ethereal arm reached out to help. On the extremity of this arm was the most beautiful hand I had ever seen. Milky white and seemingly devoid of wrinkles on the finger joints. Farther up the unblemished arm was a flowing garment of gossamer. Farther up from that I could not see yet there was a radiance pulsing from the beyond.

“Come here, come here.” I could swear blind I was hearing two different voices in a melodic duet. Then another arm, just as beautiful as the other, appeared on my other side. This was the most delicate manicured hand in the universe. Two dazzling damsels were wanting to ease my distress. The “come here, come here” mantra was hypnotising me. Then a third arm hovered over me, then a fourth and a fifth; it was like a computer virus. Lovely, magical hands were popping up all over my head. My sky was filled with the soft hands of an angelic horde. This multitude of beings was what I was trying to get away from. Now I’m back to square one.


Under Starter’s orders

February 9, 2013

This blogsite has a huge audience of readers from France- oh alright then it was two until DD unexpatriated herself back to the land of hope and glory- therefore it would be remiss of me not to mention the horse meat scandal that is engulfing the shores of the UK. The French love to chew on a good nag, so am I led to believe. Frogs and snails are also considered delicacies in Gallic parts but we’ll leave them for another day, another scandal.

Firstly, some horse racing trivia just to kill some time. The naming of racehorses in Britain is very carefully controlled by Weatherbys, the company which oversees many administrative areas of the sport. Strict criteria are applied in judging what name a horse can and cannot be given. For example, horses names cannot be longer than 18 characters and spaces and names currently on the Register of Horse Names or names of horses who have won a major flat or jump race cannot be used (so there can only be one Mill Reef or Dancing Brave or Shergar). And most famously, names whose meaning, pronunciation or spelling is obscene or insulting are prohibited.

Shergar. Streets ahead of the rest!

The crisis that has been on every one’s tongue, literally, began with the frozen Tesco hamburgers that had horse meat in them instead of ham, sorry make that beef; the hamburgers name thing is confusing. British consumers, when they found out, were braying mad at this wily plan to Europeanise them. If it was confined to one store the story might have had a short shelf life. Alas, other food chains had to admit they were chomping at the bit, too.

Follow, following on from Tesco, Findus and Aldi joined Tesco in the rogue’s hall of fame. The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, said investigations into how beef products had been contaminated with horsemeat were ongoing but “the evidence so far suggests… it’s either criminal activity or gross negligence”. The UK public waits, with knife and fork in hand, to see what store will next be engulfed in this burgeoning Beecher’s Brook story.

Supermarket chain Aldi said tests on its Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese showed they contained between 30% and 100% horsemeat. Good for them. The following video shows a set of customers uninterested in any of the meat products. Getting their priorities right, they were only there for the beer.