Posted tagged ‘Fairy Tales’

The Beaten Track

February 18, 2013

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

* * * * *

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.


Luftwaffe descending

August 26, 2012

It was my birthday. My wife always had a surprise gift for me on my birthday. She told me to close my eyes and she led me up the garden path. When we reached the frontline she said “you can open your goggles now” and dangled a set of keys in front of me. There, parked on the driveway was a Messerschmitt 109. Just what I’ve always wanted.

“Danke.” I said to her.

“Well go on, take it for a tailspin.” she said.

Leaping into the cockpit I searched for the slot for the ignition key. There didn’t seem to be any. The control panel had a mind-boggling array of switches, dials and buttons. I grabbed the steering wheel and pulled it back the way. A roar grunted from the engines. Chocs away, way-hay.

I turned into the road, managing to avoid hitting any of the military topiary figures my Polish neighbour had cut into the hedge. I was particularly wary of the air to surface missile shaped decoration but the Me-109 manoeuvred past the obstacles. We hit the road running, powering along the tarmac.

Gaining altitude was a problem as no matter what I tried I couldn’t get off the ground. I put the flaps down, I put the flaps up, I shook the flaps all about. I pulled levers, I pushed levers, I left levers alone. I shouted at the controls, I caressed the controls, I pleaded with the controls still we were kissing the asphalt. The altimeter read: 0 MSL (mean Sea Level). This meant we were level with the sea. Down here with the ants the clouds seemed so far away.

Then I had a fuselage moment. Fuselage! I remembered I once played flight Simulator on the Spectrum ZX console. I hoped I could use this experience of flying to pilot the plane into the skies. Trouble was there was no QWERTY keyboard on the dashboard. There was no shift/control and up/down buttons to push. And no space bar for cruising. Of course, I had forgotten that the Spectrum ZX was an obsolete format and not as modern as the Messerschmitt 109, for Focke-Wulf.

The next problem was an everyday one. I was approaching a red light. I could have taken a cyclists mentality and steered through were it not for the fact that a little old granny was crossing with her wheelie bag. Where’s the brakes, where’s the brakes, where’s the brakes, I rat-a-at-tatted for all I was worth. There was nothing else for it but to stick one of my legs outside the cockpit onto the road and use it as a brake. My shoe was burning rubber. Friction forces were slowing the fighter plane down but not nearly enough. The lights and the granny were upon us. She was shouting something about “boy racers” and disappeared under my wing. Checking the mirror I could see she had survived. She was saved by her stoop.

Onwards and upwards, though not literally, I flew along the street.

Mein Gott! Up ahead was something very rarely encountered today as it has its roots in the medieval age of chivalry. A fraulein in distress.
She wasn’t tied to the tracks of a railroad though she was in some discomfort. A beautiful young lady wearing a tight T-shirt and a mini-skirt was lying down on the ground holding her shapely thigh as if hurt. Her helplessness made an appeal to my gentleman courtesy. I parked the Messerschmitt into a tree.

“Guten tag, have you broken your leg, Madame?” I asked.

“Only a nail when I scraped it on the kerb. It’s all Hans fault. He owes me big time. This better be worth it” she remarked.

“I don’t understand.” Suddenly, from the bushes emerged the aforesaid Hans with a gun in his hand, a Luger if I’m not mistaken. He was smelling of cologne. It was overpowering, I couldn’t resist. Hans gesticulated for me to sit down. As scent rises this was a good thing.

Hans and, I don’t know her name, Gretel or something jumped into the Me-109’s cockpit closing the canopy behind them. She was going on and on about her broken nail. I felt sorry for Hans. One quick reverse from the tree, a burst from the engines, a swift exit down the makeshift runway, a lifting of the undercarriage and they were airborne. Hans knew his stuff. This wasn’t good for me. I had been carjacked.

Trusting in the local constabulary I phoned the police outlining the details of the crime not overlooking the fact it was my birthday to which I received a many happy returns greeting, thank you very much. Much mirth was going on in the background as I narrated my tale of woe of the stolen Messerschmitt. I overheard one officer quip “the Red Baron has been the victim of a honey trap.” another said “Did he lose a dogfight?” I hung up on them.

Stranded as I was in no-man’s land I had to get home somehow; there was a big party planned for me tonight. Not being a larcenist I would not copy the German stunt of Grand Theft auto. Hitchhiking is a safer option. I could hear a rumbling from around the corner making the ground shake. We weren’t on a fault line, why are the Teutonic Plates moving?
Karl Heinz Rummenigge! Looming into sight was a Tiger tank. That was what I wanted for Christmas.

Deus ex machina

November 14, 2011

One of the worst things in life is listening to other people’s ailments. Getting told the latest medical report from folk you barely know can be galling for a number of reasons. For one, it’s hard to be witty when someone you’re not that familiar with is giving you a car crash headache and another is that you‘re suffering this barrage of bad news while trying to smokescreen a yawn. The perpetual groaners seem to revel in their pain. I’ve seen myself locked, piggy-in-the-middle, in a sickness session ménage à trois conversation with two swinging whingers trying to outdo each other in the illness stakes. The contest seemed to be who is the nearest to death’s door.

The only thing worse than hearing about the dooms and glooms of others is when someone tells you about the dream they had last night. In the name of Bobby Ewing, go away. Dreams and nightmares are insignificant and instantly forgettable. I can’t remember any dream I’ve ever had and I must have had billions of them.

Then this friend comes up to me and says “Man, I had some dream last night”. Right, very good, see you later. No wait, wait, there was a car chase in this dream. I made an emergency stop as I’m quite partial to car chases in films and maybe his dream was as exciting as the urban chases in Bullitt. He began.

“I’m sitting in my Focus and “Oh Yeah” is playing on the radio. I check my lo-”

“Cut to the chase.”

“Alright, chase then. I’m driving along and I hear this bang. I start to veer sideways and I’m thinking it must be a flat tyre. But there’s no juddering which is what you get with a flat. I straighten her up and there in my side mirror is a dude-”

“Dude? When did you start saying dude?”

“It’s a dude in the dream. This dude is driving a Dodge Viper and he has a shotgun. He’s taking aim at me ready to shoot my Focus. I leans over and picks up a Luger that is on the passenger seat.”

“How’d the Luger get there?”

“Dunno. It was just there. I leans out and shoots left-handed over my right shoulder. From my mirror I can see him spin out of control and down the motorway embankment. I pulls over then crouching down still holding my Luger I move down the slope toward the Viper. It’s all beat-up but there’s no dude anywhere. Next second there must have been a jump, a glitch, something anyway because I’m driving the Dodge Viper along the freeway and there’s not a mark on it.”

He must have been dreaming because everyone knows I am the number one wheelman around here.

The minor Tennis Princess and the mediocre School Champion

June 8, 2011

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Hungarian tennis player called Andrea Temesvari. She batted balls in the 1980’s and is a contemporary of me. When she was winning the Italian Open in 1982 I was celebrating being crowned school champion.

Miss Temesvari never quite reached the top in tennis though she was top drawer in other respects. Blessed with a stunning figure highlighted by a dazzling smile, the impression given was one of feminine grace and charm. I dreamed of playing mixed doubles with her and whispering in her ear, “Fifteen, love” instead of fifteen-love.

Another thing that attracted me to tennis was the drinks breaks. After every two games refreshments are taken. This is cola heaven to me. Andrea and I could have shared a cola while towelling sweat from our rigours. I wondered whatever happened to Andrea.

And then someone told me. She was held captive by an ogre in an imposing castle. To reach the ramparts the villagers told me I had to swim in shark-infested waters and then scale the heights of a steep hill. Having nothing else in particular to do I jumped into the River Perrault.

Swept along by a quickening tide I never saw any sharks in the water; they must have been on holiday. The lack of sharks gave me food for thought that a lot of adventure stories are far-fetched. Too many writers embellish their tales and I swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and the truth was there were no sharks in the water. My watery journey came to an end when I grabbed a creeper that draped from the shore.

Taking hold of a fallen branch I made my way up through the undergrowth. For future reference for would-be ramblers, it’s easier to hill walk when you’ve got a stick. It aids balance. Along the way to the castle wall, again adventure-less, I met no snakes or nesting baby pterodactyls. Workmen must have been cleaning the castle windows as a ladder was nearby. Using these steps I clambered into the castle.

The giant appeared before me. He was twelve foot tall if he was an inch. His fe-fi and fo’s didn’t scare me. Though one thing did startle me, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I saw that the giant had a green beard. Nothing gets me snorting like a red rag to a bull than someone wearing green. He was in big trouble.
Using my multi-purpose branch I hit him with a forehand into the shin followed by a backhand into his kidneys. He staggered back and it was time for a rest.

“Have you any cola?” I asked Greenbeard.

“Cola? No, I haven’t. I’ve got some limeade.”

This was taking things too far. All this green nonsense brought me to break point. I lunged at the emerald-haired monster, landing a perfect smash on his head. He was out like a Lendl. I dragged the behemoth and locked him in a room full of bats. Before you start feeling sorry for him I should add, the room was full of tennis bats.

Finally, there stood my princess, who had seen my bravura performance. She was slightly older though still sultry and radiating a passionate aura towards me. Or maybe I got the wrong signal because when she opened her mouth to speak her voice echoed off the walls.

“Damsels in distress aren’t meant to be saved by a married man.”

“Well I know, it’s just that I had some free time and-”

“What’s that backhand all about? It was all wrong. The weight should be on the front foot.”

“Jade-jaws was coming forwa-”

“As for cola. Have you no idea the damage that does to your stomach. Tests have proved that…”

She went on and on, a full five sets of nagging. Andrea and I are not compatible as mixed doubles partners. I wonder if I should give Gigi Fernandez a call. 


May 17, 2010

“I wandered lonely as a cloud.”

Ivan Hardsasnailsovitch pondered this line with deep analysis. A single cloud: lonely, wandering. He looked up. There was a cluster of clouds that by his geometric reasoning could easily have been potted with a plant if he had a cue ball cloud big enough. There’s not many lone wolf’s up there in the sky as the clouds tend to flock like sheep, he thought. After this observation he meandered along the forest, big-eyed.

Fearless himself, Ivan had read about the increasing rise in illogical fears with a passing interest. Weak-minded individuals could possess more than one phobia and even be scared of life itself; an impotent mixture of claustrophobia and agoraphobia. These pathetic figures are nothing more than creatures of the night and they’ll be afraid to cross the street next.

(Contemplation by Ivan Kramskoy 1874)

Calming himself down Ivan resumed a passive state of mind before a myriad of posers engulfed his centre of thought. Why did Aristotle contemplate the bust of Homer and not instead the bust of Tyro? Has Corporal Clegg been over-promoted? Why was there no Lower Volta? Is the violin the most discordant musical instrument ever invented? It is, accordion to this seventeenth century poem by the most played footballer in the world: A.Trialist.

I can hear violins
The most disharmonious of things
Shrieking louder, louder, louder
Rising to a crescendo of din

The slicing bowstring cacophony danced a symphony of death in Ivan’s head and he did not hear the rumbling, violinesque, roaring engine of a steamroller behind him. The unmanned out of control juggernaut went right over the top of Ivan, flattening him, proving that too much thinking is a dangerous thing. However, he is not known as Hardsasnailsovitch for nothing and Ivan didn’t have a scratch, dent or bump on him; the steamroller had to be written off.

The Survivor

March 27, 2010

Ordinarily the journey through Oxolade Forest is enjoyable but not today, my head was boiling and ready to burst. The taxi driver was one of those people who speak at 100 miles an hour and like all cabbies he thought he was full of wisdom. Rubbernecking round to me he was giving me a history lesson about World War I.

“Sir John French was in charge of the British Expeditionary Force in France. The French were led by General Joffre. Joffre could not understand the English language and French spoke not a word of French.”


“I beg your pardon?”

“Coming up, dead ahead on the road. Concrete bollards.”

But my warning was too late and the hackney hit the obstacle and crunched to a stop; the driver was protected by an airbag which saved his life and his balloon head was the last thing I saw on my way through the windscreen, travelling with the velocity of a poison dart. (more…)

Bechstein Debauchery

December 19, 2009

The large tree was annoying all his neighbours by overhanging onto their gardens so Barlow agreed to cut it down. Looking up at its lofty height reaching skywards and seeing as it was one fine day Barlow fancied climbing the woody plant. He was making steady progress but the sun on his back and the endless ascent were taking their toll on Barlow’s willpower.

Squinting through the dense foliage Barlow was sure this tree was unlike any other in the arboreal Kingdom. Clambering through the branches he came across land; terra firma in the sky. Barlow was dumbstruck. Had he found Heaven, Asgard, Olympus, Atlantis, El Dorado, Jurassic Park? A Giant Goliath of a man plucked Barlow up in its fist and carried him away. Jotunheim. I was well off, thought Barlow.

The behemoth and its captive entered a castle, a huge castle, and Barlow was plunked on a Grand piano. Every muscle in Barlow’s body was in agony and he was relieved when the giant left the room. Slowly he began to recover his strength as the giant re-appeared wearing a morning suit with tails, top-hat and a white tie. Addressing an imaginary audience the giant bowed and swished his tail as he sat down. The draught from his suit blew Barrow into the opening of the piano and plummeting to his doom he managed to grab onto a piano wire.

Swinging his legs to and fro Barlow caught one leg at the top of the wire. Manoeuvring in pain after spiking his other foot with the tightly strung piece of barbed wire at the edge of the inside of the piano he avoided a dangerous fall and stood erect on the thick piano wires. Visions of a rolling ball accosted Barlow’s thoughts but he breathed a sigh of relief. Wrong film, nothing like that happens to Tony Curtis in Trapeze. Then the giant hit a key.

A string moved not far from Barlow then another and another. The giant was a fluent player and Barlow’s lidded prison was filled with the sounds of the second movement of Mozart’s 21st piano concerto. Trying to remember the sequence of notes Barlow jumped back and forth along the strings dodging the vibrating ones. Dancing with the verve of Nureyev and taking it all in his stride he had forgotten about the triplet figuration and pulsating wires were everywhere as he leapfrogged for his life. The giant sneezed but carried on playing.

By now the andante inferno was blistering Barlow’s feet when a massive ream of paper which the giant had blown off the stand with his sneeze tumbled down on Barlow. This was today’s set list. And Barlow saw that the next song in the concert was Flight of the Bumblebee. He’d really be rushing about to that one and had to plan an exit stage left. The paper floated featherly under the strings and Barlow sensing a great escape jumped after the giant manuscript.   

The blanket the neighbours had stretched out caught Barlow and the refreshing and life enhancing miracle that is water was poured down his throat. Too much sun and a spot of vertigo was the considered opinion of the concerned gathering. Barlow’s delirium would not go away and the last thing anyone heard from him as the psychiatrists led him down the garden path was a snippet of the folksong immortalized by Black Lace, the Germanic cabaret classic , The Music Man. “Pi-a, Pi-a, Piano, Piano, Piano. Pi-a- Pi-a-Piano”

Later at the bottom of the large tree, long after Barlow was committed to Arkham, was found a torn off piece of paper with the word Bumblebee on it.