Category Archives: ‘642 things to write about’ book

A special mix…

“Your favourite recipe”… suggested the ‘642 Things to write about’ book this morning…

This one’s now four years old but, with my grandchildren, the concept never goes stale—

baking a cake

I took an empty bowl and poured into it these things; a cupful of some giggles, gathered from some fairy rings,
A bundle, then, of kindness and a basketful of care and I mixed it all together and I thought, “I’m almost there!”
I then unpeeled a rainbow and tossed it in the pot and I measured out some sunshine (first a little – then a lot!)
It looked a little dry and so I popped in drops of rain and I took my magic spoon and stirred it all up once again.
Then I put it in the cooker and I watched through the glass door as the timer clock went slowly past the one, two, three and four;
Then I checked the Fairy’s Cook Book, which she’d left upon my drive with a note that said: ” The cake is baked when the big hand gets to five;
All of the ingredients which I listed nice and clear, are what make your young Grandaughter, such a very special Mia!”  😉 xx

five candles

November 5th…

November night

—but for the pale beams of lamplight, the forlorn, lifeless figure slumped against the grey stone wall would have been completely shrouded from view in the dense, misty drizzle of the dark evening—

Folk hurriedly passed by without a second glance at the awkwardness of his lop-sided posture on the cold, wet pavement, head lowered beneath the mis-shapen brim of a now damp and battered hat; facial features masked by thick strands of coarse, flaxen hair–

—maybe the oversized, grubby great-coat fastened around the middle with a length of twine gave him a tramp-like appearance—

—certainly his boots, unlaced, leather uppers scuffed, soles in holes, implied that times for him had been hard—

A tiny bird perched itself on the lamp post and broke the silence of the air with sweet chirrups—

The figure remained motionless—

Suddenly the bird took flight, disturbed by a commotion rounding the corner of the street—

A group of children, wrapped in duffle coats, hurtled into view—

Rosy-cheeked, puffing and panting, they gathered around the reposing character and, sweeping away stray stalks of straw with gloved hands, they clanked an old galvanised bucket at its feet—

Excited voices now shattered the peace as with one accord they shouted to anyone who may hear them —

“Got any change, Mister? Please, give us a penny for the Guy!” 😉

—————————————————————————————————————

P.S. I can remember November evenings in the late 1950s when this was the scene on many a street in my home town in Wiltshire — Thankfully, somewhere in the mists of time,  the tradition of burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes in remembrance of his act of treason four hundred years ago has mainly faded away — How many children, I wonder, will be watching firework displays tonight without knowing the reason behind the event—?

The Interview…

interview sign

This morning I thumbed through my ‘642 Things to write about’ book:

“Interview your eldest relative” invited one topic—-

With a start, I realized that this would be my husband —

Does, “What would you like me to cook for dinner?” count as an interview? (— for I surely can’t think of anything else to ask that, after our fifty-one years together, I don’t already know the answer to— )

Maybe I’ll just test the waters (he doesn’t know what I’m writing at the moment—-)

—-that went well!

“If I was going to interview you, what should I ask you?” I questioned, intelligently.

He looked up from his book, a bemused expression on his face—

A half-laugh and “It depends what the interview’s about—”

“It just says here,” (pointing to said column) “— to interview my eldest relative,” I explained.

He went back to his book—

I did think of opening the way by asking, “What things about me irritate you the most?” but  made an on-the-spot-decision that there may not be enough hours left in today to catalogue the reply—

—so I’ve just reverted to ‘Plan A’: “What would you like me to cook for dinner?”

“I don’t know — what do you fancy?”

Interview terminated at 11.53hrs—– 😉

…there must always be a beginning, a middle … and a happy ending…

tupperware box

Quietly, he unlatched the metal gate with his free hand, then shoved it open with his hip, manoevering his way through as he gingerly balanced the small blue Tupperware box with its precious cargo.

“I need to keep it upright—” he told himself.

The sun beat down on him as he nervously reached up to the doorbell, his finger hesitating before it dared press the little white button. A deep breath and he pushed — he heard the ‘ding dong’ of the chime as it rang in the hallway.

He waited. No answer. The windows were closed — no one was home.

Maybe he’d wait a while. He placed the box on the doorstep and sat down beside it, gazing at his scuffed trainers.

His thoughts went back to yesterday. How ashamed and embarrassed he felt. How he had wished upon wish that he could be like one of the heroes in his books and skip back to a time before it happened—and then it wouldn’t—

Today was Saturday and he hadn’t even felt like going to the soccer pitch for a kick-around with his pals.

“They wouldn’t be my mates if they knew—-”

He thought about his Mum and how she had helped him to work out a way to put things right. He hadn’t wanted to tell her but she had a way of knowing when something was wrong and her giving him a cuddle like-only-Mums-can and speaking in that ‘I’ll-always-keep-you-safe-no-matter-what’ voice of hers, soon had him letting go of the secret which was making him want to burst as long as it was inside him. Once it was out, he felt a bit better.

With his guilt a little eased, he spent the afternoon in the cosy kitchen with her, his senses soothed with the sight of her mixing this and that, the sound of the whisk beating butter, sugar and eggs to a creamy froth, the soft feeling of the flour spilt on the worktop as he idly swept it into his hand and let it trickle through his thumb and index finger creating a fine, powdery trail in the same place he’d scooped it from, the aroma of fresh baking — and that longed for finale to the session when he was passed a wooden spoon and the near-empty mixing bowl and invited to scrape it clean and savour the taste of ingredients in their rawest form.

Now here he was in the glow of early evening sunshine—-with no sign of the occupant of the house returning.

“I’d best just leave it here, then—”

He nudged the box into a shady nook of the porch, right by the front door and went home.

An hour later, the gate opened again, there was a fumbling for house keys and then the exclamation of, “Oh!—-”

Curiosity had the lid being lifted. Nestled inside on a white, lacy, paper doiley was a little cake. Unevenly scrawled in blue icing was a message — ‘imsorrynancyx’—

Oh—what was that tucked into a corner? A little mouse—-

—made of white chocolate—–

She wiped a tear from her eye and smiled as she stepped through her front door—

The Note….

crumpled note

She stooped, lifting the hem of her pink velour dressing gown to protect it from the dampness of the doorstep, and picked up the morning’s delivery of a pint of milk. A piece of paper was stuck to its base.

“This week’s bill, I suppose,” she thought as she casually peeled it from the bottom of the cold bottle. Stepping back into the warmth of her lounge, she turned the paper over—

‘You had it coming … I’ve got your cat! Tell no one about this but for your fluffy little feline to be returned unscathed (i.e. — with fur!) you must take £5 00 to the waste bin outside the village shop at 22 00hrs tonight. Go there alone and then return home immediately to await further instruction.’

She stumbled to her armchair and fell into it. With her heart racing, she ran her fingers through her as-yet-uncombed grey hair and read the scrawled note again.

She felt sick.

Tiddles — her beautiful blue Persian cat — her sole companion– Where was he–? Who had kidnapped him—? Why—–?

Oh, ‘Why?’ was obvious —- to fleece her of the meagre savings of her pension. Who could be so cruel? ‘Tiddles—-where are you?’

As she tried to wash and dress, these thoughts tormented her mind.

Her daughter-in-law phoned.

“I’m going into town if you’d like a lift—-”

With a quiver to her voice, she accepted.

“Well, I only need to go to the Bank—-”

On the way she let Sophia chatter away as she sat preoccupied with worry. She couldn’t bear the thought of Tiddles being bald —- she had to push that image away—–

Two hours later, she was home counting the notes—-

“….four-hundred-and-sixty, eighty, five-hundred!”

She wrapped the bundle in a British Heart Foundation carrier bag.

The hours passed slowly. Morning turned to afternoon, afternoon to evening — Tiddles’ saucer of milk remaining untouched and yellowing as each hour went by—- The hands of the clock played mind games with her until a quarter to ten arrived and she found herself struggling into her gaberdine coat, lifting its collar and making her way in the dark, drizzly air to the village store.

Furtively, she deposited the bag of money in the otherwise empty, freshly lined with black plastic, bin—–

Then she slunk into the shadows at the side of the building—

—and waited—-

Within minutes a slight figure came into her view.

She watched as the silhouette rummaged in the bin, pulling out her package —- and tossing it aside!

“Where’s my bloody fiver?” she heard him exclaim—-

Bartholomew! The ten year old boy from next door!

She crept up behind him, pulling a crumpled five pound note, her change from yesterday’s grocery shopping, from her pocket.

“Is this what you’re wanting?” she asked.

“……..” His mouth opened and shut but no sound came out.

“Why, Bartholomew? —- Where is Tiddles?”

Now, sobs.

“Hes—- he’s —- in—– our shed—– he’s okay —–” he stammered tearfully.

Then— “It’s my Mum’s birthday tomorrow and I wanted to buy her a cake —- but I didn’t know how to get some money—-”

Nancy tenderly put an arm around his shaking shoulders.

“Oh, Bart! Don’t you ever, ever do anything like that again. If you’d knocked my door and told me the story, I’d have helped you —- but not by giving you the five hundred pounds you asked for!”

“—-but I didn’t ask for £500—-”

She pulled the well-read note from her other pocket and looked at it again under the brash glare of the street lamp—–and then she noticed the decimal point!

“Come on home,” she soothed—-“Tell you what; if you promise never to do something so horrid ever again, I’ll bake a cake for you in the morning and you can come round and ice it for your Mum.”

As they turned to make their way down the hill, the lad bent down and picked up the discarded red and white carrier bagged parcel —

“I’ll just chuck this back in the bin—-”

“Actually,” said Nancy, “I’ll take that—-” 😉

Prescription for curing Writers’ Block…

642thingscover

I like to read.

I also like to write—–

No earth shattering stuff, often usually not even showing a modicum of intelligence—– just about my thoughts, my days, the things that happen (propelled by others) in my tiny corner of the world —–

Imagination is a peculiar thing —– for most of the time it lies dormant, lazily hibernating, that I may attend to duties and tasks with the concentration that such occupations require—-

Although quietly and cosily tucked away at such times, its senses (or nonsenses!) seem to be attuned to being ready to pounce as soon as there is opportunity—-

“Just write what I’m dictating to you—-” it says—–

“Okay —- so what idea are we going to play around with?” I ask —–

Silence —-

Then “Um —— can’t think of anything —– “

—so often it’s raring to go but needs a kick start —–

Imagine, (for I know that every reader is governed by that same force) then, how delighted I was to receive this book yesterday —–

‘642 things to write about’ —-

Inside its covers are six hundred and forty-two subject headings for my pencil to skip around the page to—– ‘What can happen in a second?’ is the first invitation. Now opening the pages at random, ‘Write a story which ends with the line “and this is the room where it happened”— ‘ is another idea—

—but, actually, I don’t need to describe it in too much detail —- after all, many of my entries could well be reproduced on here —– 😉

642 things to write about