At the Beach.  Sunny. 

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Milk-bottle white, lobster red
Scantily clad, covered up
Legionnaire hats
Naked tots, entire family clad in bodysuits
And the one family, always one, in heavy shoes, trousers and jumpers
Just in case or taken by surprise?
Sun cream: in blobs, by stripes
There’s no love like a mother with a wet wipe
Two-year-old making a meandering beeline for nothing in particular
The moated castles, the holes, the buried
(Preference of teenagers)
Dogs straining on leads
‘No dogs on the beach’
Scooters everywhere
Child with stabilisers, more zag than zip
Ice cream: in cones, in tubs, on sticks
Why on earth would you give a child that colour ice cream?
Chips, salted and vinegared
The boisterous overcrowding outside the pub
Piled into picnic tables
Armed with plastic cups
Always a raucous one, loud in every way, too much everything
Public toilets, unique smell
Soap’s run out but at least there’s paper
Queues here, there, for everything
Flip flops, bare feet, trails of sand
The sand-encrusted children, writhing sculptures
The saltwater hair
The contortionists attempting a change of costume in public
Dabbling in the scant rock pools
Lifeboat, yacht, canoe, paddle board
No space to throw a ball
Chairs or rugs or sit on the wall
Gulls wheeling overhead
‘Don’t feed the birds’
Wind breaks, pop-up tents
Cricket below the tide line where the sand is firm
The family with everything
Bar the kitchen sink
A puff of wind, mouthful of sand
The mallets come back out
The readers, the snoozers
Teenage love declared by frames per minute
The moaning minnies
The always have something to say
Tempers fraying: heat, hunger, tired
“Don’t throw sand at your brother”
“Don’t even think about putting that on Instagram”
“Because I said so”
Barbecue fume, cigarette reek
Accents from every part
And a few other languages for good measure
Bags from every supermarket
Hardly any cameras
Phone, phone, phone
Phone, tablet, phone
Small child with sandcastle:
“Can I borrow your phone to take a photo Dad?”
The families going home; scruffy, jumbled heaps of belongings
Dragging a reluctant or a howler
Trailing what will later be claimed as all the sand on the beach
(Especially after the third hoovering)
“You’re going in the bath when we get home”
Sand, sea, sunshine, seagull poop

The Nature of Me

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What is me?
A shadow or a being?
Something lost or something to be found?
If at birth I am me
Then once I was me
But now?
Who is me?
If at death I am me
Then I am not yet me
Then what of now?
Is me just a hope or dream?
Something far off
Until a line cuts through
And marks the end?
Something lost or something to be found?
What is me?
And what of now?
I am me
Something shaped by what is lost
Something shaping what is to be found
A someone in the passage of time
Me is a moment in time
And yet an entire lifetime
I am me

A Verse

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Blue Sky

I am my sunshine and my rain

Some days it pours and other days it shines

You are my sunshine and my rain

Some days it pours and other days it shines

Candy Floss Nights

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(Candy Floss Abstract – I cannot upload, process or post photos at the moment because the gremlins won.  This is the photo you would be seeing).

Soft, magical

Spun strands

Pretty pink

Floating

Pegged up

High, out of reach

Attached to the mundane

(Sock dryers, of all things)

Yet still fantastical

Whimsical

Alluring

But so out of reach

Can I have some?

Please?

Everyone else has some

Do they take it for granted?

Stuffing it in their mouths

Sticky fingered

Consumed

Gone

They move on

They can always have some more

Another time

Any time

But not me

Wistful

Staring

So ephemeral

So out of reach

I’d be so appreciative

Of even just a little bit

Please?

Everyone else has some

Tantalising

I can see it

I can taste it

But so out of reach

Perhaps some other time

Why not me too?

Soft, magical

Pretty pink

But so out of reach

Il fait un temps de Toussaint

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TAKE ONE

The rain falls
Steady
Other times a sudden deluge
Battering
But it falls
Always

The dream fades
Weary
Sometimes there’s a drop of hope
Brightening
But it fades
Anyway

TAKE TWO

I watch for you to breathe, wondering yet again how we got to here.  What went so wrong?  The night is cold and empty; I am alone watching you.  I tiptoe away.

I cry when I have the strength but other times the pain is just too much.  I am overwhelmed just as I know that you are.  Is it worth fighting?  Or maybe we really haven’t got anything left to lose.

We are lost, both of us.  There are no answers, no quick fixes, no miracle cures.  No hope?  I don’t know.

Can you light a candle in a rainstorm?  Should you even try?

TAKE THREE

Waterproof matches, check

Candles, check

Lantern, check

Love is an adventure

Just like camping

Windswept, sodden

Trying to stay warm

Keeping in the zone

Fixing smiles

Teeth chattering

Isn’t this fun?

Character forming

Team building

Love is an adventure

Just like camping

Who forgot the matches?!

Write at the Merge - Writing Prompt

So for my first link-up in a very long time, I got to use a new-found idiom as this post’s title and have probably abused most of the ‘rules’.

My favourite lines of the song:

And when your fears subside
and shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
when there’s no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
we still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
even cold November rain
Don’t ya think that you need somebody
Don’t ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one
You’re not the only one

And for some other thoughts on camping see here and here

WOE: Going for Gold

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I am afraid that you’re all going to have indulge me and put up with a whopping entry from me this week, I have been very good recently about respecting the word counts but this piece wanted to be a little larger.  I’m not sure yet how large because I actually wrote it down by hand, the first time I’ve braved writing fiction by hand for many a year.  I guess that I’m the beginning of the computer generation where word processing is just so much easier and quicker, especially when it comes to making changes and fixing mistakes.  I wrote it by hand because my frenetic handwriting seemed better suited to expressing the draft, in black on the stark white of a screen this little tale seemed a little too mad to share, I spent a day trying to spill the words and form the idea that yet again came to me as I was falling asleep but my subconscious editor was holding me back from making a fool of myself but I’ve decided to share anyway.  Let me know what you think.

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Speeding up the London Eye

She pulled out her knitting from her bag and started rhythmically working her way through the short rows of stocking stitch.  She preferred to keep her eyes on the stitches, not trusting them to somehow throw themselves off the needle without close supervision, nor did she trust herself not to pick up more than one stitch at a time.  She watched her work grow, mesmerised almost by the regular rhythm of her steady work.

She noted that the bench was uncomfortable, a modern metal effort without a back.  She recalled reading in the papers or in a knitting magazine about some modern prank of knitters, what was the name of it?  Yarnbombing, that was it.  She hadn’t felt that it was a particularly wise use of materials and wondered about the criminal implications of cozying up lamp posts and the like.  But now she decided that this bench could really do with some of that yarnbombing, a nice cushion or two, maybe a throw.

Yarnbombing, the word was so worrying.  Bombing, bombs, it seemed like an everyday part of everyone’s vocabulary these days.  Bomb.  Such an ugly, terrifying word.  Tearing holes in the fabric of the world and in the fabric of people’s lives.  After seeing on  television the devastating consequences of yet another terrorist attack, she had vowed never to go into London again.  It just wasn’t worth the risk.  It was a bad place where bad things happened.  She ruled it out, draw neat lines around it and a cut a neat hole around where London used to be in the fabric of her life.

The needles had clicked more harshly when her mind had turned to such matters but quickly they returned to their usual beat, like the clack of train tracks singing a lullaby to the world-weary commuter, the gentle repetitive action lulled her distressed mind.

London.  She had never understood the fascination with the place.  It was like a set, a backdrop to every English film, an almost mythical place where fiction was acted upon, no more real than New York, cities that existed only in high drama and crime statistics.  She had never understood the appeal.  Did people think that they could have a little slice of a Hollywood style perfect life if they wandered through the backdrop of their favourite film or series?  Maybe it was just crass commercialism after all, the media selling it to everyone that they have to visit these places and buy the T-shirt and goodness knows what else.

London.  London.  What was the appeal in the Big Smoke?  the big Noise?  the Big Dirty?

She saw the city spread below her, the iconic landmarks springing from the street plan in resolute 3D, first as cardboard-looking models then in photographic reality.  Buckingham Palace always looked so big on the telly, imagine just the two of them rattling around in there.  The map slipped beneath her feet, pulling her eyes elsewhere and causing her to reach out a hand to steady herself.

She found herself grasping the pinnacle of Big Ben itself, swinging around it like a weathercock in a draught.  The Thames spread below her, the sinuous dividing line through the city, and with a slight flick of her feet she was off, as easy as a champion swimmer but borne aerially as if Superman or something equally preposterous.  She followed the river’s course past the London Eye.

The London Eye was a modern interloper to the historic riverfront, to the tally of icons, to the skyline, to the consciousness of millions of souls the world around.  She had seen it on the television, used for countless establishing shots and for public firework displays.  It was a mere upmarket aggrandised Ferris wheel with goldfish bowl pods instead of tin bucket cages.  She knew of no-one who had actually been in the thing, tickets were expensive apparently.  But now it was like some great stately arch, tall, proud and glowing in the sunlight.  She could imagine that it could be seen peeping over rooftops from many streets around.  Something as iconic as Big Ben but a little easier to glimpse then identify.  It turned so slowly as she hovered and watched its progress, an almost imperceptible rotation.  So slow, so boring!  She brushed her finger against the pods much in the way a child does the petals of a seaside plastic windmill and set it spinning.

Moving on down the Thames with the occasional barge sprinkled on top its murky darkness, she saw a bridge that caught her eye.  It was all made of playing cards.  No wonder London Bridge was always falling down!  She couldn’t remember if it had eventually caught fire too, she could see the flames licking at the plasticised cards and they curling inwards with the heat.  No it really wasn’t a good design choice on the part of whichever lady who had commissioned it.  She hovered again, contemplating the construction and waiting to see if the worst should happen.  Then something small caught her eye, a small red vehicle passed along the top of the bridge.

A bus!  The buses!

The very stuff of nightmares, that icon of public transport whether it was running on potato peelings or not.  It had fallen low in her estimation after those terrible events.  It was a high risk danger these days and as she surveyed the streets around her, she saw that there were countless double-decker buses trundling along.

Her breath caught, the anxiety grew and the world turned to black, a sheet of never-ending black before her.

Then, from one corner, far in the right hand corner, came a bus.

A red, two-storied bus, intent on completing its journey.

Another one followed it.  And another one.  A long line of red London buses.

Then another line formed next to it.

And another line.

There were three buses across and another two on top of each of those.

She wanted to scream but no words formed.

The scale shifted and there were more and more buses, neat rows and columns of them laid out like some graphic arts poster, bright red buses against the black backdrop, more and more of them.

She twisted and ducked and divided but they were unavoidable.

She stirred.

“Ma’am?”

Someone was shaking her arm.

She looked up cautiously, half expecting to come face to face with a London bus.  But no, it was just an officious looking security guard in a too small uniform.

“Ma’am, you need to put those things away in a public place.”

It seemed that red buses were the least of people’s worries after all.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

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Yes, it’s about four times the length required and it is a little crazy and kind of different from what I usually write, I’ve never written a dream sequence before either.  And as for whether it’s actually set in London as requested in the prompt, that’s up for debate but as I’ve flouted most of the other ‘rules’ too, I guess it doesn’t much matter.  I owe either Mary Poppins or some version of Peter Pan for one image, a nursery rhyme video for another and Dumbo for the final image.  Thanks for reading.

Trifecta: Normal

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He bit excitedly into the apple, savouring the sweet juiciness even as it dribbled down his chin.  In his head, the world paused and focused on the delicious tastes and textures of the treat but his feet kept pace with the dirty, ragged shoal of boys as they twitched and swirled from one mischief to another.  He knew that it would be dangerous to lose this protective crowd here in this frontier between two worlds, a land of worn, cracked pavements and tatty shop fronts, a jumble of ethnic markets and knock-off sporting goods.

It segued gradually from the tatty shop fronts to another world of long abandoned, almost derelict fronts.  There were women loitering by the lampposts, brashly painted in skimpy clothes and wobbling, cheap heels.  An occasional car cruised by causing faces to look up.  In some of the doorways, men stood, singly usually, caps pulled low, a conscious look of disinterest on their faces but they saw everything that went by.

The boy sighed to himself with the last bite of the apple core; he had a long wait until he was old enough to run their errands, earning himself more than just the coins that they tossed out.   He liked his own bravery, cocky in his swagger as he stepped over an unseen line into that frontier land, proud of who he was and where he’d come from.  He had yet to travel beyond into the other world that his brother would hardly mention.

They raced down the street, each hundred metres or so getting dingier and more derelict.  Under the arches by the riverfront, the piles of rags and cardboard muttered and cursed at them as they swept past, tearing worn blankets and strips of card free.  He laughed at the game, joining in with light, practised hands.

They’d spend the afternoon on the waterfront, in one of the old yards, tearing things down, kicking oil drums.  The normal summer’s afternoon in the only world he had ever known.

This week’s Trifecta challenges asks us to use the third meaning of the noun ‘normal’ (a form or state regarded as the norm : standard).  Using normal as a noun doesn’t quite seem normal because that surely is an adjective?  Anyway, I find it fascinating how as children we accept whatever ‘normal’ life presents us with and it is only later that we realise the diversity of lifes and worlds around us and how perhaps what we once perceived as ‘normal’ isn’t actually the case.