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Short Story: Trostlose Frau


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With the grace and skill of an old wise leopard, Mick landed in a crouch – thud – on the other side of the old and crumbling brick wall. Scaling this high wall into the estate had been surprisingly easy – the bricks were old and full of footholds – and he was pleased to have avoided landing in one of the thick, woody rose bushes. He stayed motionless like this for a few moments to listen and scan the surrounding area for any sign of activity. There was no one around. He crouch-walked, clothes snagging on rose thorns, to a better position where he could sit comfortably among the bushes but not be seen from the big house in the near distance. There were still twenty minutes or so until the Lord Bayrne, or Burn or whatever it was, was due to leave for his afternoon appointments. He could see the navy blue Bentley was still parked on the gravel at the front.
It was a particularly lovely early evening in summer; golden sunshine illuminating the big lawn and the weighty smell of roses drifting around on a gentle breeze. Topiary bushes posed in their various shapes in pots about the place and an old-fashioned stone trough with a hand pump resided stoically in an oval of closely cropped lawn in the middle of the circular gravel driveway. Huge Georgian pillars propped up the grand porch as they had done for generations and tall windows reflected the blue sky back at itself. Mick admired these things as he sat, waiting, though he was also aware of the irony of this given his reason for being there.
Movement from the house: a butler emerges through the large green doors. British racing green; a shade with such history and grandeur. Lord what’s-his-name emerges, bent over slightly and using a cane but well-dressed and looking like a man not willing to accept old age just yet. Tweed jacket, cream-coloured trousers, light blue shirt and a bow tie. White hair. Mick couldn’t quite make out the man’s features.
The butler patiently waits for the Lord to shuffle past before closing the doors again, trotting down the steps to reach the car first and hold the rear passenger door open now. The Lord lowers himself in, unsteady on his cane, thin legs placed inside the car – one… two – and lastly the walking stick is tucked in. The butler ensures all is well before closing the door – clunk – and walking with long strides to the driver’s side. The car starts and crunches slowly across the gravel, around the grass oval and continues out of sight along the lengthy drive.
There are a small number of staff in the house, they told Mick. Use the entrance on the eastern side; the servants’ quarters. He slides the sleeve of his bomber jacket back enough to see the time on his watch. The Trostlose Frau is located in the library, they told him. He squeezes the woollen material of his balaclava between finger and thumb, toying with it in his pocket. Perhaps, after a certain level of wealth, people begin to search for meaning and worth in more and more abstract things because they can afford to buy such increasingly extraneous possessions and, well, why not? What’s forty thousand pounds for a Roman clay pot to a millionaire when it may contain the secret to happiness? A price worth paying. But what happens when they realise that the pot is empty, perhaps not even Roman, and that they are, unexpectedly, still unhappy? Was it the money that caused the unhappiness? Or the useless clay pot? Probably being unhappy but surrounded by luxury is preferable to being unhappy and in poverty, or is it even lonelier? At least poor people know who their real friends are. Mick looks at his watch again. Reaching into the pocket of his jacket, he takes his phone out and types a WhatsApp message:
OK
He sends it. The two blue ticks show the message has been read. Typing… The thumbs-up emoji. He puts the phone back in his pocket and zips it up.
How peculiar it is that an art piece could be worth millions. Mere oil paint dabbed in formation on a bit of canvas. It has no intrinsic value of its own. People invent a value; they make it up based on, what? A feeling they have about the painting. The conviction that one artist is a genius while another is mediocre. These art collectors seem the craziest rich people of all.
The crunching sound of a vehicle on the gravel drive becomes louder. He scans the surrounding area again, absorbing the quiet, gentle scene. A white van travels quickly into sight and brakes to a halt in front of the house with a skid. He stands. Show time.

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Unhelpful Poetry


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Valentine’s day is upon us and for many that means last-minute panic buying due to societal pressure, but FEAR NOT, I have your back. I’ve written some thoughtful poems for you to gift your special someone (you’re welcome). Don’t worry, there’s something in here for everyone. I was going to say be sure to credit me, but, on second thoughts, maybe don’t.

Traditional

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I know where you live
And I’m watching you

Romantic

Your eyes are like waterfalls
of lava in hell,
Your clothes have the scent
of a musty stairwell,

Your voice, it whispers
on a westerly breeze,
A strong hurricane
full of pointy debris,

I feel I’m in heaven
when I’m next to you,
If heaven were a wasps’ nest
in my favourite shoes,

Our love is so strong
’till death do us part,
Which I hope will be soon
as you deaden my heart.

Haiku

It’s Valentine’s Day
I forgot chocolates and flowers
Here’s a Greggs pasty

Limerick

There was once a husband called Dave
Who woke up and had a brain wave
On Valentine’s Day
Instead of bouquets
He’d get his wife something to clean with

Blog, Photography

New… Something


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New year, new “What the hell is that thing?!”
I’m back on the GIF animation and I bloody love it. Years ago my dear Max drew this weird angry worm thing on a little scrap of paper and it greatly amused me. Since then I secretly vowed to animate it one day. THAT DAY IS TODAY!

Finger-GIF

Corkboard

Blog, Travel

Christmas from the Southern Hemisphere


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I’ll try not to gloat from my summery southern hemisphere beach location, but I do want to stop for a second to wish you a Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2018. I recently totally uprooted my life, which is both terrifying and exciting, and thus 2018 for me will bring plenty of challenges and I have many goals I’d like to achieve, so, we’ll see how it goes. Keep peering into this space with mild interest – I’ll keep being here in this corner of the web, though from a different corner of the world. Isn’t it great how the internet works like that? Anyway, cheers to another year/adventure/let’s keep pretending we know what the hell we’re doing in life/look busy.
Love from your friendly neighbourhood writer and blogist

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Grandma


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My Grandma passed away just over a year ago. It really affected me, actually. It surprised me at the time just how much it knocked me sideways. She wasn’t the first family member I’ve lost and my family isn’t a particularly close unit – everyone lives really far away from each other and we don’t talk that much. My Grandma was special to me though. I think I’ve inherited a lot of qualities from her. She had a ferociously sharp wit and was her whole life fiercely independent. She was always active, and had a pony until she was 76. When I was little (maybe 7?) I went to stay with her in the school holidays and I got to look after her pony Timmy (pictured below). She wrote me a letter afterwards, with a little certificate giving me part ownership of him and, honestly, it meant the world to me. She was creative and could paint a mean watercolour landscape. She was always worrying my Dad with her adventures, including the time she bought a narrowboat and lived on it for a couple of years. She said later that living on the boat was her one of her favourite times in her life.

Her funeral was on Halloween; I remember so clearly the autumn colours of the trees and the cold, bright morning. On my way home this evening, two owls were hooting to each other in the dark and the moon was obscured by fog – it was the perfect all hallows eve and I found that reassuring somehow, as I thought about my favourite Grandma and how the time passes you by so quickly.

Photo Sacn 1

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October Horoscope


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It’s been a really, really long time since I wrote some horoscopes. Too long, some would say. Not long enough, would say others.

Aquarius
Around the 2nd of the month you’ll develop a ringing in the ears which, by the 8th, will turn into a full cacophony of ear-splitting white noise and screeching that nothing can relieve. Driven to insanity, you cut off your own ears in a Van Gough-inspired stunt but then discover a gentle and soothing passion for blobby landscape oil paintings.

Pisces
Avoid honey, cartography, bridges, cotton wool, good intentions and radio 4 this month. A scabby, incurable rash will engulf your body if you don’t.

Aries
You accidentally join a satanic cult by entering the wrong room at the local university and being too polite to leave once the meeting has begun. Three hours later, you’re a fully initiated member and leave worried that this may damage your chances of getting into heaven. I can assure you that it does. Have fun in hell.

Taurus
Every day this month will be a Monday.

Gemini
This month, while walking in the forest, you’ll discover that unicorns are real. But, despite photographic evidence, no one will believe you and as you become increasingly fanatical, one by one your friends and family leave you. You’ll be forced to live alone in a tent in the woods as all you have left is your… “unicorns”.

Cancer
You happen upon a small Irishman lost near a rainbow and, convinced he is a leprechaun, you try to sell him on eBay. Big mistake.

Leo
Remarkably, you solve the mystery of why there is only ever one shoe at the side of the road. Well done you.

Virgo
Virgo, virgo, virgo. On the 1st of this month it will dawn on you that everything you do is worthless and nobody loves you. The rest of the month will follow suit.

Libra
There will be an alarming incident around the 15th that will leave your co-workers unable to look you in the eye ever again.

Scorpio
Nothing can prepare you for the level of tedious monotony that will consume every waking second of this month. Honestly, October will make the M6 motorway seem exotic and invigorating.

Sagittarius
I know I’m usually pretty hard on you, sagittarius, so you’ll be pleased to know you’re off the hook this month. However, don’t park your car under any trees because, well, you’ve upset the bird kingdom.

Capricorn
You come up with the idea of a septuple-decker cookie-doughnut-waffle-ice cream-marshmallow-whipped cream-chocolate coated sandwich of joy. The early prototypes are good and you decide it’s the best idea you’ve ever had. You taste test the final sugary monstrosity in front of a substantial internet audience but this grand unveiling reveals, to your bitter disappointment, that the end result is inedible and disgusting and it leaves you wondering what on earth you were thinking. The whole endeavour finally tips you over the edge into diabetes.

 

Blog, Culture

Desert Eel


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You know what I’m completely sick of? Seeing those ‘inspirational’ quote posters, but when you read the quote it quickly becomes apparent how utterly meaningless and hollow it is, like the soul of a career politician. They’re complete rubbish; an eel in the desert makes more sense.
People go mad for them at the moment. They’re littering social media like rubbish on a hot day at the beach. But here’s the thing: I’m convinced that people are pretending to understand them in order to make themselves seem cool and inspirational. Those people share them on their social media, thinking “Ah, yes, everyone will see how cool and deep I am when they see this intellectual, philosophical shit” not realising (or caring?) that the words are empty and the quote makes no sense.
Alarmingly, though, the act of people sharing the quote legitimises the poster’s meaning as something does makes sense: if loads of people claim to understand it, then it becomes something that can be understood. Even if the quote is still meaningless, and those people are probably lying.
It reminds me of when people use long words because they want to show how clever they are but in reality they don’t fully understand the words and so end up using them in the wrong context and essentially looking like a complete knob.
Even more annoying is when the quotes are from people that no one’s heard of (again, I’m sure they’re made-up people) but the fact that they’re being quoted makes it seem like their nonsensical opinion matters and you should care. You shouldn’t care. Don’t even think about caring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a cool font and a bit of bokeh nature photography but, I mean, shit, will people write literally anything just to get a few likes on Instagram?
To be fair to inspirational posters, there are many out there that contain quotes that are indeed uplifting but, unfortunately, as is the case with so many good things in life, the idiots have capitalised on the idea and filled the pot with rubbish.

I realise that I’m probably swimming upstream here and should perhaps just get over myself. The internet has become a place where anyone’s ridiculous, ill-informed opinion is accepted (including mine!) and that’s just how it is in the 21st century. So, I made my own inspirational poster:

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Blog

Some July-ing


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Gandalf’s beard! It’s the 31st July and I haven’t written anything on my cherished blog. I managed to get a few photos this month, so I’ll lazily share those with you instead. I managed to do some brush pen practice this month (something that I never do and hence I’m terrible at using the brush pen) and I even managed to make it fun by doing it outside on a warm summer’s evening. Many of my photos seem to be me encroaching on the personal space of various flowers, which explains three of the photos, and, lastly, I liked the pattern of the wisteria leaves in the sunshine one sunny day.