Thursday, 31 May 2012

Greenhouse Watch - Second Attempt

The gremlins appeared to infect the last greenhouse watch update, so it had to be deleted. Don't worry, you didn't miss any earth shattering news, twas just an update on me tomatoes and chilies.

A picture says a thousand words, so here's three.

Left hand side

The rear
Right hand side with added camera wobble

Yeah, there's a problem. You can't get inside. I have to take half the plants out to water the rest which, given the recent heat wave, has taken ages. All the seeds germinated, you see, which considering they were of pound shop origin, wasn't expected. I'm now left with 40 tomato plants (though I've found good homes for 4 of them) 15 chilies, 5 green peppers, 10 lettuces and a tub full of watercress. I'm really reluctant to throw anything away so the only other option is to plant half of it in the garden. So to any slugs / birds in my areas, free food will soon be available.

Finally, had a story put up by the kind folks at The Flash Fiction Offensive recently. If you fancy a look, click the link.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Flash Fiction Friday - Mind Your Head

It's been months since I wrote anything, but I was determined to get back on the horse, so to speak. So here, for this week's Flash Fiction Friday, is a story that includes the words Frenetic, Hobbit and Cummerbund.

Mind Your Head

He didn’t care if Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit had worn one, he wasn’t going to wear the pissing thing. Adds a bit of class, she’d said, makes you look like somebody. Well she could fuck off, he was somebody and if he didn’t want a cravat, he wasn’t going to wear it. And, why the fuck would a fictional character wearing one be an incentive for him to wear the poncing thing?
“You nearly ready, dear?” she called up the stairs.
“No need to snap.”
“I wasn’t snapping.” He paused, looked in the mirror. He was snapping, his face was red. Red mist rising, that’s what he called it. Back again from the depths of nowhere, ready to take him to that place. So dark that place; hellish, frenetic, scary. Scary was the worst part: the ideas it gave him, the things it wanted him to do.
“Your cummerbund’s down here if you’re looking for it.”
He looked at the mirror, saw his burning eyes. Ten deep breaths, that’s what he needed. Calm the heart, lower the blood pressure. Calmness breaking, he shook his head. Surely everyone felt like this at times? The great unspoken state. He knew there was red mist in everyone. Most just hid it better than himself. Everyone had the potential though. Everyone.

Downstairs, cummerbund and cravat didn’t feel too bad. He looked stupid though. Like some nonce or theatre goer, but it was just for one day. Helen looked great. Blue dress, just above the knee, showing off those great knee caps. The large hat obscured her carefully prepared hair. Smiling at him, she lay her head on her right shoulder.
“Doesn’t look so bad. You never know, you might actually enjoy today.”
He turned away. Ten more breaths as he picked up his keys and suit jacket. She really didn’t help sometimes. Maybe she was in on it. They all were. Everyone was in on it. It was wind up Derek week and she was the fucking cheerleader.
Ten more breaths as he walked to the kitchen. Glass of water, a look out at the garden. Neat rows of flowers and veg. Calming that’s what it was, all that effort to raise and grow flowers from tiny seeds. All that effort. Yet that voice, the one in his head. It told him to smash the trellis, rip the heads off the flowers, pour weedkiller on the tomato plants. He clenched his fists. Clenching was the only thing sometimes. The only thing that stopped him.
A few more deep breaths and he walked back to the living room. “We ready then?” he asked.

She said the service had gone well, but he wasn’t so sure. The groom messed up his lines and the page boy cried throughout. If that was well, what would a disaster be like? Onto the reception after ten thousand photos were taken. Sat at a table with her relatives. Polite conversation. Hands under the table, clenched. Small talk, he’d  never been any good at it. How’s work, golf, the garden, they’d always say. Always scout round the big questions. How’s your head? Where’s your mind at today? How many times in the last week have you thought of killing someone? Really, only two? Oh you are improving. Why I thought of killing three myself and I’m not messed up in any way.
“You okay?” she whispered.
He turned, looked at her. Her eyes read concern and hidden tears. She mouthed the words, we can go outside? Get some air?
He shook his head. This was her day. Her cousin’s day to be precise. It wasn’t about him. Two deep breaths as the waiter came over, started laying cutlery.
“You play golf, Derek?” asked someone. Her uncle Rob, that’s who he thought he was. Something big in insurance in the Home Counties.
He shook his head. “Never really tried.”
“We should have a round sometime. All of us. No better way to spend a Sunday morning.”
The pompous laugh at his own unfunny joke. It wasn’t even a joke just small talk. He looked down at the table. Waiter had just place two knives, two forks and a spoon. One was a steak knife. Very sharp. The voice in his head - How many can you take? There’s fifty people in this room? How many can you kill before someone stops you? Bet you can do them all? Go on....
How many could he kill? He clenched his fists and stood up. He hoped he’d make it outside without finding out.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

National Flash Fiction Day

It's today, apparently. If I'd had more planning and not been at work so much, I might have tried my hand at a story especially for today.

But I haven't.

All I can do is cheat and point you, dear reader, in the direction of things I've previously written.

My own personal favourite of all the flash I've written is Route A66 up at Shotgun Honey. The reason it's my favourite? When I wrote the ending, actual shivers went down my spine. I spent the rest of the day unable to get the story out of my head.

Flash fiction's been a bit short on the ground for me this year. I used to churn out one or two a week, but the ideas aren't coming as easily as before. Must try harder. I'll have to revisit Flash Fiction Friday as they give you a theme which, if your brain isn't coming up with ideas, makes it that much easier.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The World of Pound

Following another damp bank holiday, ranting has become easier than normal. This week's topic, the great british institution that is the pound shop.

Like em or hate em, Pound shops have exploded in popularity and become as British as the Friday night kebab and Chicken Tikka Massala. We're rather blessed where we live as the ratio of pound shops to normal outlets seems to increase every week. Soon, every shop will be a pound shop. But what of the merchadise, I hear you cry. What of it...

About a year ago, Becky from Cornonation Street opened a new pound shop our way (if that hasn't got class written all over it, what has) You've got to understand, it was a pure fluke that we were in the vicinity that day, but it gave me the chance to sample their delights.

Canned food from obscurely named companies with dubious sell by dates, razors that take your skin off when you shave, perfume and deodorant guaranteed to cause rashes, socks that fit triangular shaped feet, packets of vegetable seeds that don't grow, toys that fall apart within seconds, oven dishes that don't like heat...

But it only cost a pound. You can hardly get annoyed that the garden gnome loses all it's colour after the first downpour or the 1kg of coffee you bought tastes bitterer than a vinegar sandwich. It's only a pound, you just can't get annoyed.

But that's what annoys me, all the pounds I've wasted in pound shops over the past year could probably have bought me the same amount of stuff that might have lasted, or at least tasted of what it was supposed to.

Probably the most concerning item I saw on a recent visit was pound shop condoms. Seriously, would you trust them? I wasn't that surprised to see they're also selling pregnancy tests.

This country, eh?