What he’d learned

A piece of flash fiction on sister blog Zenrinji, written as an exercise for a creative writing class


Not long ago – it may be yesterday – there were two children called Alice and Bran. Now Alice and Bran lived in the last house at the end of the estate on the outskirts of a large town. You won’t have heard of this town, so it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called. Every day, Alice and Bran’s parents drove to work in the town and Alice and Bran caught to bus to school. At the end of the day they all came back home, did what they had to do and then went to bed.

On the other side of their house was a wood. Alice and Bran were told never to go into the wood because it was dangerous and you could lose yourself, so they never did. Instead, if ever they went for a walk they took their dog Cerberus around the estate and then came…

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Rapier wit

Tongue firmly lodged in cheek:



If ever forced to try out swordplay
I’d fail to be a Cyrano.
And as for impro wordplay,
expecting puns? Oh, sirrah, no!

Clash of steel best fitting crossed swords
(whether epées, foils or rapiers),
flash of real wit suiting crosswords
(often met in broadsheet papers):

all would go from bad to worse
(same as when I’m writing verse).
I’m as like to win a duel as
write a gem fit for a jeweller’s.

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So it begins

More flash fiction from Zenrinji



Things come in threes: he’s about to drop her off at the shops when he realises he’s left his phone at home, so can’t liaise about where and when to meet up.

Next, after he’s filled up the car with petrol, he discovers his wallet is in his other man-bag. At home.

After some frantic running around the money problem is solved when he spots her coming out of a shop. But later, returning from a visit to the local library, he finds his everyday glasses are no longer on his nose — and the library isn’t open for another two days.

“Is it nearly time for the pillow over the head?’ she murmurs, sultrily. And so it begins.

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Message in a bottle

Entries invited for my first (and only) spam poetry competition:


footprints footprints

No matter
if some one searches
for his essential thing,

thus he/she wishes to be

that in detail,
so that thing is maintained
over here.

A recent, recycled entry in my ongoing spam poetry competition
Do you have a favourite bit of spoetry you think qualifies? Post it as a comment below; please note, it will only be considered if it ends up in my spam folder.

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A dream of death

An exercise I wrote a term or two ago for a creative writing class, I forget on what theme.



He’d never been close to death until then.

Yes, he’d seen dead bodies – his grandma, his father, a body in a road. True, this was death, but death as it had happened to others, deaths already tainted by premonitions of their passing or tinged with the innocent curiosity that characterises the young. This was not imminent death as it might apply to him: a moment of reckoning, a brief interval pointlessly proffered to put his house in order.

For those who’ve lived through it, even if memories have faded, the Cold War was a time of surviving on a precipice. Sometimes its edge visibly crumbled at one’s feet, as it did during the Cuba crisis. Sometimes there was just a feeling of vertiginous malaise watching grainy news footage of CND marchers, whether or not they were really cranks or communist stooges.

But one day death really came knocking at his…

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Rhyme without reason

Because it’s Chooseday I choose to reblog this …



Hey diddle-diddle
Come read me my riddle
Sing hickory dickory dock
For down came a spider
A gossamer glider
And landed on Bo Peep’s blue frock

This creature so lowly
She brushed off real slowly
Then played on her didgeridoo
She charmed not just creatures
But parsons and preachers
Who featured in France’s Who’s Who

Her sheep were not fazed
For they grew fat and grazed
Till a wolf with a weasely grin
Slipped the sheep, plus a goat,
Past his jaws down his throat,
By the hairs on his chinny chin chin

The spider then teased
The old wolf till he sneezed
Who then coughed up sheep, plus the goat,
And a cat with a fiddle, a rope round its middle,
Attached to a lifebelt and boat

So now ends my riddle
Puss played on its fiddle
And Bo Peep her didgeridoo
I hope you find pleasing
My rhyme without reason
Au revoir, tally ho, toodle-oo!

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Sister blog Zenrinji is being resuscitated (again!) now with a mix of micropoetry, flash fiction, apt quotes and other pot pourri, beginning with “First”.



“I’m the winner!” shouted Romulus (or was it Remus?) as he teasingly leapt over the stone wall that Remus (or was it Romulus?) had made round his new city.

“No, you’re not,” said the other crossly and knocked him down dead. “The first shall be last,” he said, and laughed. “Or should I say … late?”


My first — and hopefully not my last — attempt at Flash Fiction Fifty-Five, where the whole story, including heading, is told in fifty-five words on a given theme, here provided by Leslie of Colonialist’s Blog. Rome’s founder is, of course, Romulus who according to one account by Livy killed Remus because his brother belittled his new city wall by leaping over it.

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Why do we need stories…?

Joan Aiken tells it like it is!

Joan Aiken


Joan Aiken writes about her favourite stories, and the magic of storytelling…in a new collection out now!

Stories are mysterious things; they have a life of their own. Animals don’t tell each other stories — so far as we know! Man is the only creature that has thought of telling stories, and, once a story has been written or told, it becomes independent of its creator and goes wandering off by itself. Think of Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast —we don’t know where they came from, but they are known by people all over the world.

A story is very powerful. If I start to tell you a story, you are almost sure to stop and listen to it. It’s like hypnotism — or a small piece of magic. Indeed, stories often have been used for magic, by priests or medicine men. There used to be special stories…

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Bloggers Unite for Peace

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

We are normal, everyday hard-working people with a common hobby, blogging. We hail from far and wide. We reside in different lands, on different continents. We speak different languages, eat different foods, and are of varying ages, professions, and religious and cultural backgrounds.

We do have one thing in common…

We believe that terrorist attacks, wherever they may be perpetrated; whether in France, Tunisia, Canada, Iraq, or in Denmark, Turkey, UK, Algeria, Yemen, USA, Lebanon, or in the skies over Egypt, or in India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Bangladesh, Syria, or Mali are nothing less than attacks on humanity itself. The list is long, and probably many more besides. In every place, in every country, we, as a community of human beings, are always the innocent victims.

However, we, as members of this humanity, have found we have much more, not less, in common than those who seek to polarise our global community through indiscriminate murder of our fellow brothers and sisters.

These attacks are carried out in the name of, or in support of, a cause few of us, irrespective of religious conviction, can even start to comprehend. Murder is murder, irrespective of whatever motive or cause. As a community of bloggers, standing together for peace, we say simply this…

We will not be separated or forced to cease our friendships.
We will not change our ways – we are happy as we are.
We are all different, and proudly so, and stand together as one.
We respect each other’s right to life.
We want to live in peace.

Text reposted from https://unclespikes.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/bloggers-unite-for-peace

Do visit this post and reblog, repost or share on other media if you support this declaration, especially during this so-called ‘season of goodwill to all’.

Watchmen: the problem with critics

A stimulating analysis of some of the big themes in the graphic novel Watchmen and a critique of criticism and its relativism.

Shot Behind The Theatre

Who-Watches-the-Watchmen-watchmen-14960175-1440-900Watchmen is a novel where one agent of authority needs another agent of authority to monitor the decisions of the first and, if need be, steer it in the right direction. The monitoring agent is a “watchman”. The watchman will interfere if the authority is about to do wrong or a problem could not be solved without their intervention. The situation in the novel is that the American government, a watchman of the American people, is in a Cuban missile crisis-like situation with the Russians and are about to initiate an attack that will hopefully wipe out the Soviets with “acceptable American losses”. You’ve heard this buzzword if you’ve seen Dr. Strangelove. However, in order to avert nuclear war, Ozymandias, a self-proclaimed superhero, devises a plan with his money and intelligence to prevent a confrontation, and manages to sacrifice a few million less than originally projected for the greater good…

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August was the month for the Perseid meteor showers, ending on August 24th, named after the constellation of Perseus
On Zenrinji I’ll be posting daily telling the epic of Perseus in limericks (a limer-epic perhaps?) for the next week
Then it’ll be back to micropoetry, haikus and the occasional standalone limerick



an epic poem
episodic limericks
enter Pereus

six posts follow retailing a classic tale — in limericks

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Beauty is a curse

Lizzie Ross’ questioning review of this prequel of sorts to The Prisoner of Zenda brings out the challenges it has for us moderns. But I’m still looking forward to reading it, thanks to those questions! http://lizzierosswriter.com/2014/02/19/beauty-is-a-curse/

A review of The Prisoner of Zenda on Calmgrove’s blog inspired today’s post. At his urging, I found a copy of The Heart of Princess Osra, Anthony Hope’s prequel to his dashing Victorian romance about Ruritania. Zenda is set in the late 1800s; Osra 150 years earlier. The prequel is the story of a beautiful princess (the ancestress of Zenda‘s hero, Rudolph Rassendyll) whose task is to learn about love.

Lizzie Ross

200px-Osra A review of  The Prisoner of Zenda  on Calmgrove’s blog inspired today’s post. At his urging, I found a copy of The Heart of Princess Osra , Anthony Hope’s prequel to his dashing Victorian romance about Ruritania.  Zenda is set in the late 1800s;  Osra   150 years earlier. The prequel is the story of a beautiful princess (the ancestress of Zenda ‘s hero, Rudolph Rassendyll) whose task is to learn about love.

Osra has two brothers, Rudolph and Henry. Their father, King Henry, rules with the temper of a lion — slow to anger, but wrathful when provoked. Rudolph is a wastrel, Henry in love with the wrong person, and Osra so beautiful that gentlemen of the aristocracy do the masculine equivalent of fainting whenever they first set eyes on her — they fall to their knees and kiss her hand. Although she’s unable to understand or appreciate their love for…

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