Tuesday, 28 September 2010

At Home With The Montagues

assuming that the priest had made it in time, where might our star crossed lovers be today???

Juliet enters the living room from the kitchen and sees Romeo on the couch with a six-pack of beer

Juliet: Romeo, Romeo: why hast thou notst changest the cat litter tray?  Verily it hast been four days since the cat did shat and the kitchen dost smell of wee

Romeo: Juliet, the stars doest shine from the lights in thine eyes, but thou knowest not to expect household chores fromst mineself whilst the football season ist in full swing.  Besides: thou hast not done the dusting for ere on a month of sundays and mine mother shalt visit this very weekend i'faith.

Juliet: thou didst not inform me that thine mother wouldst be arriving on the sabbath

Romeo: i'faith, but i didst: i texted thee most rapidly, and mine n'uncle as well

Juliet: Thy n'uncle is thrice visited this week, but either thy texts are false or thou ist, as my SIM card doest prove

Romeo: doubt that the very stars doest shine but doubt not mine texts. 

Juliet: Hast thy called the gas board today likest I asked of thee?

Romeo: Verily i didst but I was placed on hold ere three hours had passed and thy child didst wail and moan most grieviosly

Juliet: child of mine? How ist it that when our child doest misbehave he doest become mine only

Romeo: Alas, but the child ist mine also, i must confess.  Hast thou had a hard day at work?

Juliet: thou knowest i didst, or perhaps you were not in truth listening when i camest in and toldest thou?

Romeo: Listen most earnestly I didst, but thou knowest that mine ears do not hear verily when mine belly ist empty

Juliet: All thou hadst to do when thy got in wast to putest thou food in yonder microwave likest i instructed thee - instead i see that the cat hast most well been fed again.

Romeo: in truth i didst not see thy note and did drop the plate.  It is true that the cat didst benefit most well from my misfortune.  Perhaps i should venture forth and swiftly purchase a Big Mac?

Juliet: Perhapst thou shouldest at that: and make mine a cheese burger

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Wordzzle Opera

OK hello again - and apologies for the below Wordzzle.  I was really in two minds as to publish it or not as I wrote it late in the evening with a headache from travelling - so it didn't really come out as well as it sounded in my head.

As you may have noticed I had a go at Magpie tales this week.  It was interesting to try a different type of challenge - but I think I find Raven's Wordzzles more interesting - you can pretty much do what you want with a picture, whereas words set by someone else make you work a bit harder for the payoff.  Maybe everyone should have a regular try at both - keep those thought muscles working.

As you know Raven publishes a series of words - 5, 10 and 15 to be incorporated in any way you see fit.  This week we have a one off idea that came from recently listening to some Puccini and thinking "well, it sounds nice - but i don't have a clue what it's all in aid of"

Words for thisweek's 10-word challenge are: English, edible, eagerly, elves, eulogy, estimable, entrance, education, extra-special, Energizer Bunny

And for the mini: drab, dutiful, dusty, delicatessen, dart board


La Stationeria
A modern day opera about love, life and stationery supplies
Act The First

“Ode To The New World”
The early hours before opening and the products sing eagerly of their joy that soon they will be sold and go forth into the world

“Deep Secrets”
Amongst the voices Harold the novelty stapler sings a eulogy to his forbidden love: Florence the duplex photocopier

“Opening Time”
The shop assistance arrive and sing about the futility of life selling items of stationery

“What Do You Want?”
As the customers arrive we see Claude, the education specialist. He is marking the scores from his English class and needs an extra-special stapler. In contrast Harold the stapler sings of his attempts to hide – but will Harold be sold?
Act The Second

“Ode To A Busted Staple”
Claude tries out the various staplers on display – none of them make the grade, but tragedy strikes when he sees Florence the duplex photocopier as advertised by Gertrude

“Lapin”(French for bunny)
Gertrude the shop assistant makes her entrance, dressed as an Energizer Bunny and sings about the shelf life of batteries. Claude, unseen, sings of how he wishes to make Gertrude fall in love with him

“The Copies Are On Me”
Florence the duplex photocopier sings of the estimable service she provides to the world as Gertrude and Claude debate the price of her sale. They fix on a price and Claude goes to the counter with the love of Harold’s life in his arms

Act The Third

“Oh My My”
Harold is comforted by the edible calculators and decides he must take his revenge on the world outside.

“It’s In Our Hands”
Claude and Gertrude plan their lives together whilst Harold conspires with the other supplies.

“Take Me Up The Aisle”
The staff of the shop, unaware of the machinations of Harold pause to wonder if it is the magic elves that haunt the shop that are moving the staplers around

“Never Make The Sale”
On the verge of being sold Harold makes his move and Claude is stricken by a fatal papercut

“Ode To A Dying World”
As the papercut takes Claude’s final moments he sings of his love of Gertrude and sings his dying aria “I wish I’d bought a tumble dryer instead”

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Last Bus To Woodstock (Or Thereabouts)

The woman at the front of the queue doesn't understand.  She pulls at the pockets of the fur-lined coat and pulls out a small purse.  She waves it at the sour faced guard.

He shakes his head, 'Sorry luv'

The queue is growing. The smell of dampness hangs around us all, makes the place stink of days old washing.  Human washing, pulled in from the storm outside.

She waves her credit cards at him again and complains, 'Look' she says, 'You must take one of these cards'

He shakes his head, 'Your bank's six feet underwater luv' he explains, 'Your money's no good here'

A few of us are getting weary of this now.  It's been a long couple of weeks.  Homes, jobs, families: all are swept away.  The army of the dead are marching and this woman thinks she can buy her way into heaven.

You can tell from the way she holds her head that she's used to getting what she wants and she tries the trademark icy smile that has frozen so many people into submission.  But the guard is impervious to her looks and her pleas and is not swayed by her expensive perfume

'Your name's not down luv' he explains.  The waters are rising now around the remains of the terminal.  There's only a few seats left on the last bus out.  I wonder if i should have joined the queue with the nun at the front, but see that she is still arguing ecumenical matters when she should be climbing onboard.

Somewhere behind me someone breaks ranks, runs through the crowd towards the gates and tries to climb aboard the bus.  He is struck down.  No one says a thing.

The woman watches for a while, unable to comprehend that this fate could befall her, 'Look,' she explains again, still not getting it, 'surely everyone accepts AMX these days?'

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Back Once Again With The Renegade Master

Greetings Fellow Bloggers: us hungry pixies are back. We'd love to tell you why we went away, but much like Fight Club - we don't talk about it. So please don't ask if you don't already know.

It's enough to say that we're back: leaner, meaner and short of a few pounds here and there where we've been working up our creative juices.

Sorry I wasn't able to run the Poetry Bus this week as promised, but moving on, and to make amends for those of you who were afraid you'd never see the end of my Wordzzle (and who missed part 8 on Raven's blog), here it is again:

OK – before I start I wanted to explain a bit about the idea behind this story. A while ago there was a programme on TV where they took members of the public and they trained them to be spies, making them go through the type of exercises that a real spy (not the movie type of spy) would be expected to do. Some of these exercises included: Taking on a false identity in a work place and slowly convincing someone to help you by little indiscretions (IE shared confidence in something or sneaky breaks) and slowly building up, following a close relative and leaving a message without being seen, obtaining evidence from a house via surveillance and so forth.

So the original idea of the story was: what would it be like to have to take on a different identity, maybe for years – just sending back reports and pretending to be someone you’re not. I think after a while the lines would become blurred. So I wanted to write a spy story that felt more realistic than the action/adventure of a James Bond/Jason Bourne adventure – I’m not entirely sure I succeeded, but the end result was interesting nonetheless.

Sleeper – part 8 (the final)

The waves crashed against the side of the boat bringing with them the salty smell of the sea. The wind calmed for a second, allowing the two people at the stern of the boat a seconds respite from the spray.

Sir Keith Chegwin turned his head away from the water, his bushy eyebrows furrowing in thought. If he listened carefully he could almost make out the tune playing on the piano in the first class lounge: something he felt he could almost name, but that kept slipping from his memory.

The person standing next to him shivered and pulled the huge jacket tighter around their frame but otherwise didn’t move.

‘It’s a shame’ Sir Keith muttered almost under his breath, ‘a real shame’

The figure nodded, saying nothing for the moment: so much work gone to waste, and for what?

Sir Keith cleared his throat, still feeling the after-effect of the carrot soup he had eaten at midday on his breath. They were half a mile from France now: no turning back now. Operation Littlegirl was a failure – blown wide open by a classic case of over-enthusiasm. He wondered if the careers of anyone involved would ever be the same.

It all went back fifteen years to 1995: five Russian operatives had gone missing under surveillance. It was suspected that one of the agents watching them had defected – but so far there was no evidence of this. Then they had found the diary. No names, no dates – just an entry saying “The Facility”. It had been enough for them to send an agent undercover within the Facility and from thereon in it was as if the Devil himself had decided to shuffle the cards of fate

Bomb threats, over-active imaginations and people too keen to get promotion at any cost: Divine had made a classic rookie mistake – joined the dots in a way that suited him and thrown the balance of the equation into overdrive. He had wrongly assumed that either Sophie or Mark were the Russian agent and had first tried subtlety then out-and-out blackmail and lies. In short his behaviour had been like a blind polar bear wading through a wall of fish, sending the tails of chaos flapping.
And yet…

If you throw a rock up in the air you’re bound to find someone guilty – or at least hit a spy if you were at the Facility. The bomb had been entirely separate, some disgruntled employee entirely unconnected, but through the blundering of the resulting scare Operation Littlegirl had been blown apart – because once the finger of blame was pointed at someone it was no longer safe to keep them there.

The figure in the coat shivered again and held out a hand, ‘I’ll need a new passport’

Sir Keith nodded and handed over the documents, ‘Here.’ He cleared his throat again, ‘I thought you might like to know…’ he paused, wondering how to put it into words, ‘Trenchard from finance went missing shortly after the bomb scare – hasn’t been seen since. It looks like he was the Russian…’

The figure threw back its head and laughed once, then shook it’s head, ‘Typical. I never suspected Trenchard for a second’

There was a second’s hesitation as the small, almost frozen, hands prized open the passport and stared at the picture and the name. Then Sophie pulled back the hood

‘Heather Green?’ She said distastefully, then shrugged: it was as good a name as any.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Passing On The Thing

OK - so the other day I got given a thing by The Watercats and I muchly greatful for said thing - i've always wanted a thing and you can rest assured that it will be put on display in a suitable location.

I think when I accept the thing I'm supposed to tell you seven random things about myself and pass said thing onto someone else - not sure I can entirely manage this but, will do my best:

1) I was a member of the Junior Magic Circle and used to be an annoying precocious kid performing tricks at strangers (I left shortly after realising Senior Magic Circle was little more than an old man's drinking club)

2) I'd like to see "Musical Chairs", "Pass The Parcel" and "What's The Time Mr Wolf" on the list for the 2012 Olympic Games

3) I was once surprised to bump into (he's a quiz show host/comedian) Les Dennis whilst waiting outside a local theatre

4) I once cycled 300 miles across China (more of which later this month to mark the anniversary)

5) I'm rubbish at finishing the novels i start to write

6) I really, really didn't enjoy "Fight Club" and thought the end of "Se7en" was just daft (controvertial, i know)

7) My next Poetry Bus challenge will be announced this Friday to save me posting Poetry Bus twice arond my Wordzzle

OK - so the only people I can think to pass this onto who haven't already had it are:

A Bug's View

Total Feckin Eejeet

Do with it what you will

Friday, 10 September 2010

Worddzzle, penultimate episode!

Greetings once again for another wordzzle challenge and I think that we’re finally getting somewhere close to the end of the story – just a few loose ends to tie up and we’ll finally get some kind of answer soon

But in the meantime, and for those of you who don’t already know, each week Raven sets a total of 15 words: 5 for a mini challenge, 10 for a main challenge and all fifteen for the mega challenge – the task is to write a story, poem, song or short few paragraphs utilising said words as best one can. It’s a great challenge because it forces you to think in different ways in order to get the job done.

And as recent readers may be aware I have been embarking on a short piece of fiction that has now reached its seventh and penultimate episode (it can’t go on much longer or all the plot strands will just unweave)

Yet another twist this week – so for those of you who want to catch up here are links to Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6

If you enjoy reading my useage of the words why not go and have a go yourself?

Words for this week's 10-word challenge are: charm, judge, flowers, mixed nuts, earthquake, politics, sugar and spice, bricks and mortar, neurosurgeon, blinking lights, plastic bag

And for the mini: lawn mower, sheets and towels, smashed, bookcase, pinky finger

And before we start…apologies to Cheggers (bless ‘im), and to everyone else’s names that I seem to have pilfered along the way :)

Sleeper, Part 7 (10 word challenge)

Lies within lies within lies.

Sir Keith Chegwin sat back into the plush leather seats of the Bentley and threw the remains of his cigar out the window. His head was aching from the blinking lights of the street and the files on the seat next to him were making him long for a drink.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier – but who was the spy?

Lies: that was the problem. First you lied to the people at work, then you lied to your family and finally you lied to yourself until you no longer knew the truth anymore. He had long suspected that the true answer to the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” was that you watched everyone and everyone watched you.

And now he had to judge which one of the people shown in the pictures in front of him was the spy – if any - and for which side...now he had to decide if any of them had planted the bomb or if all of this mess was just so much paranoia. Could this just be a case of too many people jumping at shadows?

He lifted the first picture with shaking hands, hands that had once been as stable as the best neurosurgeon and pulled the first file out of its plastic bag.

Mark Smith – at least that’s what it said on the file. The notes said that he didn’t exist until five years ago, but there was some doubt about that now, an inferrence that the file had been tampered with: but who by and what for. He still hadn’t been found – but there were vague reports of sightings near the coast. Would an agent really let himself be seen?

Sophie Aldred – she’d worked for the Facility for nearly ten years now. Her face was familiar, but that didn’t explain why she had done nothing but ask for him since she had been taken in. He studied her face for a while and decided it was not without charm – was she really an innocent dupe or was there something more going on. Perhaps he would have to talk to her after all

Then there was Richard Devine – until three days ago heading the investigation into the bomb and then, like an earthquake, the evidence had started to collapse and look suspiciously handy. He had approached Mark (or whatever his name was, Sir Keith silently mused) and tried to recruit him – his story being that he was playing politics to try and see which one of the two, Sophie or Mark, would betray the other. It had been done before – but Richard wouldn’t be the first agent to try and implicate someone else to take attention from himself and when the evidence of the files being tampered had come through he too had been arrested.

But then Richard was the type of agent that were the bricks and mortar of the facility these days. Not the old Etonians of yesteryear where you were recruited on background, firmness of handshake and social standing – but the James Bond generation, always looking for their own personal Blofeld

Sir Keith threw down the files in disgust: it was a right old bag of mixed nuts and no mistake - no way to sort it out without hours of investigation that he felt no sense of keenness for. Sleepers: he hated the whole idea of it. You put someone deep enough under cover for long enough and sooner or later the margins become blurred.

He turned to the transcripts of the interview between Richard and Sophie again. Much of it was just the repeated request to talk to himself – and then:

RD: tell me where your friend is. I can hold you here indefinitely if you don’t. If you tell me what I want to know then I will let you speak to Sir Keith

SA: Very well – I’ll tell you what I know

What had mostly followed was a very plausible account of how she had met Mark, how she had come to work for the Facility, her relationship with both Mark and Richard – but that one phrase kept coming back to him

SA: Our relationship could be a bit weird. Like Sugar and Spice – somehow it worked…for a while.

All the best analysts had gone over the transcripts and had found nothing – but Sir Keith felt sure that if there was a message there then it was a message for him.

He sat back in his seat and reached for the thermos flask of not-entirely-coffee and took a sip, still mulling the words over. Sugar and spice. There was just a hint of memory of those words – like the words of the old rhyme: sugar and spice and all things nice – that’s what little girls are…’

He nearly choked on the coffee, jolting out of his chair as the hot liquid caught his skin. He leaned forward and pressed the car phone into life, barely allowing enough time for the person to answer

‘Get me Snyder, fast!’ he yelled, ‘Tell him that Operation Littlegirl is totally fucked!’

Friday, 3 September 2010

Wordzzle - Sleeper Part Six

OK – hello again and welcome to the end of another week and this week I’m a little bit later posting the next instalment of my ongoing saga.

So – for those of you who don’t know every week Raven sets a series of words: a set of five words, a set of ten words or all fifteen words if you feel lucky

Anyway – this week the words are:

10-word challenge: pyramid, laughter, orangutan, recycling, infinity, toilet paper, greasy dishes, Spanish, preparation, back-up
5 word challenge: carpet, cane, outer space, hand ball, ambitious

10 word challenge:

Sleeper – Part 6
(for a catch up you can read part1, part2, part3, part4 or even part5 by clicking the links)

After a while the walls were no longer white. Sophie stared at them blearily, trying to make sense of the swirl of colours. It had been six days since she had slept, but already it felt like infinity. There were precious few luxuries in the cell where they were keeping her: the mattress was old and worn and had semen stains engrained on its surface, the light flickered and buzzed but never went out and the toilet paper was so thin that a breath would break the surface. Every so often, just when they thought she was about to fall asleep they would drag her out of the cell and back into this room, firing question after question at her until the noise of it all crashed around in her head like greasy dishes falling from a waiter’s arms

Every time they asked a question she gave the same response: “I want to talk to Sir Keith”

“Why did you plant the bomb?”
“I want to talk to Sir Keith”
“Where is your friend now?”
“I want to talk to Sir Keith”

Sir Keith, her boss at the facility – the only person that just might be able to help her. She knew they would never let her talk to her – knew the only reason they hadn’t tried torture yet was because they had found the bomb and defused it.

Finally, just as she knew they would have to, they sent in Richard. He leaned over the table from the other side, leaning on his fists so that, in her sleep-deprived state, he looked like an orangutan about to groom her for fleas. The burst of laughter was out of her mouth before she could stop it, but the cold look in his eyes made it drain away. He sat down and connected his hands into a pyramid on the table, ‘Where’s your friend?’ he asked

‘I want to talk to Sir Keith’ Sophie responded, her voice tired and nearly worn-out

‘Sir Keith is not available at the moment’ he replied, sitting back. There was a slight hint of an accent in his voice, Greek or possibly Spanish – she was too tired to know the difference anymore, ‘So tell me: where is your friend?’

‘You mean Mark?’ Sophie asked, ‘You should know – you saw him last’

Richard smiled and shook his head, pulling a thin manila envelope from beneath the desk, pouring the few contents onto the desk and allowing himself a few moments of preparation as he spread them out. They were mostly pictures of herself and Mark, both together and separate in a variety of poses: at work, on the street, in a café. He pushed one of the pictures forward and looked at her for a long moment

‘Tell me, Miss Aldred: do you know what a sleeper is?’

Sophie nodded, ‘Of course I do: I’ve worked for the facility for six bloody years: it’s a high-level under-cover agent. Usually just sent to another country and left there awaiting code-worded orders to activate’ She paused, ‘but didn’t they all get withdrawn when the Soviet Union collapsed?’

Richard shook his head, ‘Come on Sophie, don’t expect me to think you are so naïve. Just because we’re all friends now doesn’t mean that we trust one another, besides’ he said, ‘not all were recalled.’ He shook his head, ‘Imagine that: the empire falls, your name is in the book that gets burned and you spend the next ten years living a lie waiting for orders that never come. It could really get your back up.’

‘Are you saying that you think I am a sleeper agent?’

Richard shrugged, ‘One of you: you or him. We’re still not quite sure to be honest. Your friend…’ he looked at the documents, ‘…Mark?’ Richard paused and looked at her for acknowledgment of the name, ‘the thing about him is that until six months before he met you he didn’t exist’

‘Bullshit’ Sophie exclaimed

Richard shook his head, ‘But the thing is that we still weren’t sure it was him that was the sleeper: the Russians weren’t the only country to put a few of their spies names into the recycling by mistake”

‘And so you set a trap’ Sophie nodded, her brain still processing the information. It was all too clear now. Richard must have told Mark, or whoever he was, that she was the spy: got him to plant the box on her to see where she went – and at the same time he had pretended to befriend her, to see if she would make some move that would give her away. Her eyes narrowed: there was still a chance, but she would have to play this carefully. She shook her head, 'Why should I trust you?' she asked, 'How can I possibly know that you're not the sleeper agent just trying to set me up?'

Richard shrugged, 'I never said I wasn't'

‘Please’ she said, ‘you have to let me talk to Sir Keith – he can explain everything: before it’s too late’

Richard shook his head, ‘No’ he replied, ‘tell me where your friend is. I can hold you here indefinitely if you don’t. If you tell me what I want to know then I will let you speak to Sir Keith’

‘Very well’ Sophie said, realizing she had little choice, ‘I’ll tell you what I know’