Wednesday 30 March 2011

ABC Wednesday – K is for Kitchener

Horatio Herbert Kitchener was born in 1850 in County Kerry, Ireland.
File:Lord Kitchener AWM A03547.jpg

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

He became a British Field Marshal who was titled Lord Kitchener of Khartoum after winning the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 and gaining control of the Sudan. He was then appointed governor of Sudan. During his governorship he placed much emphasis on education for all children. He also ordered the rebuilding of the mosques in Khartoum, ensured that the Muslim day of rest – Friday – was recognised, and guaranteed freedom of religion to all Sudanese people. 

This egalitarian, human side of his character is at odds with the popularly conceived version of his actions during the Second Boer War of 1899 - 1902. Following the failure of a proposed peace treaty in 1901 the Boers were brutally overthrown by a scorched earth policy through which farms, crops and livestock were destroyed, wells poisoned and salt spread on the land. Women, children and the elderly were confined in tented camps which became known as concentration camps. Most Boer prisoners of war were deported to camps overseas, in Sri Lanka, Saint Helena and Bermuda. The huge numbers of people in the South African camps quickly became too many for the British force to cope with. Insufficient space, poor diet, inadequate sanitation and scant medical care led to disease of epidemic proportions – measles, typhoid and dysentery all took their toll, causing the deaths of 26,000 of the inmates.

When news of the conditions in the camps became known there was an outcry even though matters had vastly improved by late 1901. Contrasting the horror of the camps was Kitchener’s justified decision to court-martial several Australian soldiers who had executed Boer prisoners of war. He signed the death warrants for two guilty officers who were then shot by firing squad. Nonetheless, Kitchener’s reputation was somewhat tarnished, though he was not solely responsible for events.

Until the outbreak of the First World War Kitchener served in India, where he reorganised the Indian Army, and in Egypt. When war was declared Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War. He predicted a long war, though many disagreed with him, pointing out that huge numbers of troops would be required to fight the might of the Germans and that there would be immense loss of life. 
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Thus a colossal recruitment campaign was launched, featuring the face of Lord Kitchener on countless posters. Prodigious numbers of volunteers enlisted and were trained in what became known as ‘Kitchener armies.’

At the same time, Kitchener endorsed a Red Cross plan to urge British, Canadian and American women to knit ‘comforts’ for the troops in the trenches. Such comforts included mittens, scarves and socks, the latter based on a sock design of his own devising. This had a seamless grafting stitch, now known as the Kitchener stitch, at the toe which made the socks far more comfortable than the regulation socks which had seams that rubbed.

His involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1916, against his better judgement, and the Shell Crisis of 1915, when a lack of high explosives led to failure in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, made his political future uncertain. The Liberal British Government was brought down and a coalition government formed. Lord Kitchener’s responsibility for armaments was taken over by a newly formed ministry under David Lloyd George.

Interviewed by politicians at the beginning of June 1916 about his administration of the war effort, Kitchener pointed out that at the onset of war in 1914 he had ordered two million rifles from a number of US arms manufacturers. By 1916 a mere 480 had been delivered. The same woeful story applied to the supply of shells. He had made strenuous efforts to procure stocks from alternative suppliers. The politicians, some 200, thanked him unequivocally for his honesty and his endeavours to keep the troops sufficiently armed. They gave a vote of thanks that was seconded by the man who had proposed a vote of censure (that failed) against his running of the War Department just a week before.

Thus exonerated, Field Marshal The Right Honourable The Earl Kitchener, now 65, prepared to sail the next day, June 5th, on a diplomatic mission to Russia.  Lloyd George was scheduled to accompany him but cancelled at the last minute. The ship on which he was sailing, HMS Hampshire, battling a force 9 gale, hit a German mine and sank off the Orkneys. There were no survivors and Kitchener’s body was never recovered. Many conspiracy theories followed his death.

This meme is organised thanks to the Kindness of Denise Nesbitt and her Kindred spirits.
Click here to see more Ks!

Sunday 27 March 2011

The third family birthday of the year

Callum with Dominie
Fourteen years ago today Callum Jack was born, Gillian and Paul’s third child, their only son and our first grandson. He was a beautiful baby and grew into a lovely toddler with big, bright, blazing blue eyes and blond hair which eventually turned brown.
Callum is a strong swimmer and a keen sailor
It is hard to reconcile today's youth with the deep voice with the tiny boy that he once was. He is a gentle soul, kind, considerate, easily hurt (although he tries hard not to show it) strong and capable. Since early childhood he has watched his parents and learnt his skills from them – I would trust him to chop wood, wire a plug, tend a sick animal, cook a tasty meal and many other things I know I could not, would not have done at his age – or even older!

He is growing into a fine young man, a credit to his parents and a joy to us all.

Happy Birthday, Callum and Many, Many Happy Returns of the Day!

Friday 25 March 2011

Growing old(er)

The tendency to grumble is a sign of growing old. Have you ever noticed how some elderly folk seem to take a fiendish delight in complaining? Get three or four together and it’s like a tennis match, albeit played at the speed of dead slow and stop, as each trumps the others’ moans. I’ve mixed my metaphors there – another indication of an ageing brain – but I’m sure you take the point.

Now I know I am no longer in the first flush of youth – or even the second, third, or fourth – and I don’t normally whinge but the other day I was increasingly irritated by advisors or salespeople or whatever is the correct nomenclature for someone asking questions of a person seeking information on motor insurance.

My car’s insurance renewal is due in April and the quote we had from our customary insurers at Direct Line was very high so we started to investigate other companies. We started with SAGA – insurance of all sorts for those aged 50 and over. Their quote was half Direct Line's offer but we needed to compare prices. 

We consulted Which? the Consumers’ Association publication. We phoned their ‘best buy’ company, which shall remain nameless, and were answering questions for about 45 minutes. The advisor was charming, loquacious because her script required her to be so and when we reached the meaty bit of the exchange – the quote – we were shocked to learn that it was £200 more than our original quote. We were exasperated at the length of time it had taken to reach this point and were now almost convinced that SAGA was the company to change to.

We needed another comparison so phoned 50plus – yes, it’s actually called that! - off-putting to say the least – and that’s when my hackles started to rise. I’m sure the fellow on the end was only following his given text and he was very cheerful and upbeat if rather too familiar. Asked our ages he repeated them with harrumphety years YOUNG. I cannot stand that condescending expression. Presumably if someone is 97 years YOUNG they won’t be born until next century!!

When Barry phoned Direct Line to inform them that we wouldn’t be taking up their offer he was asked why. He duly told them and reminded them that my car is kept in a locked garage attached to our house and added that it does very little mileage annually. He thought that should make a difference – and it does. Unbelievably, the low annual mileage makes the insurance higher, not lower!

So we ranted to each other for a couple of minutes and then changed the subject. We are growing old(er) and we’re fighting it every step of the way but it is satisfying to have a really good grouse now and again;-) 

A dancing woodpigeon?

I’ve just spotted the lame woodpigeon on the bridge over the pond. I first saw her (I don’t know the gender, obviously, since males and females dress alike, but to me this bird is a female) a couple of days ago, hobbling across the gymnasium roof. She can fly perfectly well and she’s not limping heavily. She’s eating and drinking, preening and courting, so I think she will survive.

I know how she hurt her foot – or is it her leg? I know, because I did the same thing so next New Year’s Eve she and I will resist the urge to dance in high heels – well, all right, I’ll resist the high heels! I mean, a woodpigeon in high heels – whatever next? 

Dancing the night away is wonderful, being transported in the moment, not thinking of the morrow – we’re too old  wise for all that, Mrs Woodpigeon and me.

Book Blurb Friday #4 Humpty Dumpty Sat On The Wall

 This meme is hosted by Lisa Ricard Claro at ‘Writing in the Buff’ J

 Each week she posts a photo that could be the cover of a book. The aim is to:
‘Write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.’

Here is this week's photo followed by a possible blurb. Click here or on the icon for more blurbs.

Image copyright Kathy Matthews

A dimly lit corridor, endless and drab, panelled doors on either side – who would have thought this unremarkable setting would see such unparalleled violence?

Marcus Fielding arrives on the scene to investigate what the papers are calling ‘the crime of the century.’ What he uncovers is more shocking and far-reaching than anyone could imagine, putting at stake the political stability of the country.

As Marcus peels back the layers of deception and corruption his own life is endangered. Just as it seems that things cannot get any worse a desperate phone call from his estranged wife chills his very soul. Their small daughter is missing!

Is her disappearance a dreadful coincidence or is it connected with Fielding’s investigation?

(118 words, exclusive of title) 

Thursday 24 March 2011

The mobile (cell) phone is a ubiquitous part of modern life. I understand the wisdom of carrying a phone for use in an emergency. What I cannot fathom is how some people appear unable to be out of contact with their friends for even a short time.

I see young mothers with little children walking to school and it saddens me that instead of talking to their children they are having animated conversations on the phone.

What lost opportunities! Every day, travelling the same route, small things can be noticed, insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but well worth observing and commenting on – a flower open where there was a bud yesterday, a dog gazing out of a window, a beautiful cat asking to be stroked, birds courting and nesting.

Walking in the forest with the dogs is one of life’s great joys for me but I see people chattering on their phones and paying little attention to their pets or their surroundings. I must admit that before Barry retired he would receive work-related calls while walking and before that, when he was still running regularly, he would even dictate into a small Dictaphone as he ran. The recordings caused some amusement to those who had to use his notes, punctuated with heavy breathing as they were. Now he is free to enjoy the fresh air and watch our beautiful dogs as they gambol and explore and (Labradors, at least) tirelessly retrieve and swim.

I remember my parents constantly pointing things out to my siblings and me. There is always something of interest to be noted. How are children to understand a world greater than themselves if they are not shown it in small ways, every day? Of course they will learn in school but their minds are so much more alive to their surroundings if they are stimulated and knowledge of the natural world assimilated – it’s so easy and interesting to talk to children. Catching up with friends can happen later. Children grow up and leave home and those early years of curiosity and simplicity can never be recalled or reinvented. 

Wednesday 23 March 2011

ABC Wednesday - J is for Jutland

The Battle of Jutland (known in German as Skagerrakschlacht) took place on 31st May 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark between the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet. The Royal Navy’s objective was to defend the North Sea and to prevent the Imperial Naval Fleet from infiltrating the Atlantic and attempting to immobilise Britain’s merchant shipping.
File:Grand fleet jutland.jpg
Grand Fleet, Jutland
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It was the largest naval battle of WWI and though the Royal Navy lost more men and ships (14 ships and around 6,000 lives) than the Germans (11 ships and about 2,500 casualties) the conclusion was that the Imperial German Fleet was defeated. The fleet was unable and in any case would have been unwilling to engage in fleet to fleet fighting for the duration of the war and relied increasingly on submarine warfare but the Royal Navy remained a potent fighting force.

At the beginning of the war the Royal Navy had more ships than their opponents. Realising that they were unlikely to gain victory in full fleet battle, the Germans decided on a strategy of ensnaring smaller groups in order to defeat them.

A series of incorrect messages and poor communication between ships led to more British losses than might have been forecast. For example, much of the most critical signalling was carried out with flags and lamps rather than by wireless. They were strange methods to rely on in misty conditions and with smoke issuing from the stacks of the coal-fired warships.

The battle was the first one in which an aircraft carrier was used. The single British 
craft carried a seaplane.

Four Victoria Crosses were awarded - only one recipient survived the battle.

Joyful Denise Nesbitt and her Jolly crew organise this weekly meme. Click here to see more Js.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Magpie #58 Savagery

Tess Kincaid hosts this meme. Thank you, Tess J Each week she posts a photograph from her archive to act as a visual prompt and followers respond as they see fit. Some versify, 
some don’t. Click here to see entries and perhaps join in.
Image courtesy Tess Kincaid
The shield or targe so beloved of the Scots was a fearsome weapon of war. A weapon? How can a shield be a weapon?’ Frequently the central boss held a removable steel spike – a lethal weapon indeed at close quarters.

Flora knew all this, for she was a MacLeod, steeped in the history of her clan. The targe her family owned may not have been a MacLeod shield – she was not sure – but it had been in her family for generations. At the centre of it was a long rope of hair. On the rare occasions on which she had been allowed to handle it in her childhood she had marvelled at its softness. A romantic child, she had imagined it to have come from a well-loved horse, though it seemed too silky to have been taken from a Highland pony.

On her parents’ death Flora inherited the targe. It had been wrapped in MacLeod tartan and stored in the attic, but looked dusty and neglected when she uncovered it.  She cleaned it reverentially, turning it over in her hands, admiring the workmanship that had gone into its creation. The deerskin on the back was worn but still intact. Flora imagined her forebears striding into battle with targe and dirk in one hand and sword in the other. The leather on the face had been skilfully tooled and then strengthened and decorated with brass studs. She wondered if there had ever been a spike on the boss. Now it was hers she could investigate it thoroughly.

Flora twisted the screw that secured the cord to the brass centre plate. She knew she would not find a spike but wondered if there might be some information, a note perhaps, to tell her a little more about this lovely thing. She hoped for a maker’s mark, or a receipt. It was hard to release the cord from its fastening and Flora’s fingers were sore by the time she managed it. She caught her breath as she glimpsed a piece of paper tucked inside the boss. As she carefully teased it out she wondered if she were the first person to see this since the targe had last been used in battle.

What Flora read made her sick with horror. She wrapped the targe in the tartan and resolved to dispose of it. She considered selling it but supposed that, even with its provenance, few collectors would wish to buy a shield with an ornamental scalp. 

Monday Photo Prompt Astronomy

Eric 'Bubba' Alder from Bifocal Univision asks participants to respond to a photo he posts. Thank you Eric! 

Here is this week's photograph followed by my response.

Ever since he was a little boy Jamie had been fascinated by the stars. As he grew older he learnt to call his interest ‘astronomy’ and proudly told his friends he would be a world-famous astronomer one day.

His parents encouraged his curiosity, buying him books and taking him to the planetarium. His bedroom walls were plastered with posters showing nebulae and galaxies, stars and planets.

In adulthood he invested in telescopes of increasing complexity and clarity and travelled to locations that offered immense dark skies. He became an expert whose opinions were sought on every hand. He broadcast on television and radio, made documentary films, was asked to predict the future of astronomy.

What then was the attraction of this place, a town deserted and full of light pollution? A full moon hung in the night sky, its lustre competing with the street lighting. Below it two brilliant comets surpassed its luminance, their intensity increasing as they approached.
Jamie had determined that he would record this phenomenon. It was the culmination of his astronomical experience. It would be the end of his career and his life but he would have documented the end of the world.

Despite his training Jamie had always found it difficult to plan beyond immediate events. 

Saturday Centus #46

Jenny Matlock hosts Saturday Centus. Thank you! J

Her challenge to participants is to use the prompt and up to 100 more words to produce a 
piece of writing in any style. Click here to read more and perhaps be inspired to join in. 

The prompt is in red italics. I have deliberately used clichés!

The audience held its collective breath, a pulse beating rapidly in every throat. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. The music reached a crescendo and the curtain parted .

There was an audible intake of breath as a tiny figure stepped into the limelight. Was this her? She seemed smaller in real life. She stepped up to the microphone, looked nervously at her public, opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ she quavered. ‘I’m afraid our star is indisposed and unable to appear tonight.’

The audience groaned, disappointment etched on every face.
(99 words, not counting the prompt)

Friday 18 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday #3 A Trick of the Light?

This meme is hosted by Lisa Ricard Claro at ‘Writing in the Buff’ J

Every Thursday evening she posts a photo that could be the cover of a book. The aim is to:
‘Write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.’

Here is this week's picture followed by my blurb.
Photo copyright Kathy Matthews 

A Trick of the Light?

Something odd has happened to Tanya Williams.

When she first sees the coloured lights bending Tanya assumes that her overtired mind is playing tricks.

As the days go by the realisation dawns that she is seeing a hidden dimension to everyday life.  She is curious rather than frightened and determines to investigate.

Anxious to allay the suspicions of her family and colleagues that she is losing her mind she calls an old friend, physicist Bill Myers, known for his unique approach to problems.

What he discovers and how it affects him will have a lasting influence on both their lives.

(100 words, excluding the title) 

Red Nose Day

Fund-raising with a difference is organised by Comic Relief biennially across the UK, the biggest and most noticeable event being Red Nose Day.

In 1985 Ethiopia was experiencing a devastating famine.  On Christmas Day, 1985, a charity organisation called Comic Relief was launched from a refugee camp in Sudan. Red Nose Day, a fundraising idea founded by the charity, took place for the first time just over two years later, on 5th February 1988.

The aim of Red Nose Day is to raise money to help the plight of thousands of people in Africa and the UK who are suffering dreadful injustice or living in extreme poverty. On this day everyone in the UK is encouraged to overcome natural reticence, put on a Red Nose (or wear something red) and be sponsored to do something amusing or unusual or even quite mundane for money.

In the first year the red noses were shiny, hard and very uncomfortable to wear - sales amounted to 3.4 million. The red nose was so popular that it was difficult to find one, outlets like Oxfam selling out as soon as they went on sale. Twenty-five years later sales of red noses had risen to more than 50 million. It is not uncommon to see cars, lorries, trucks sporting large red noses.

The day is celebrated in diverse ways – schools, offices, pubs, hairdressers are among the institutions that participate. Anything from cake sales to sponsored silences, sitting in a bath full of baked beans to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can take place in the lead-up to the day. People work together or individually to raise funds.

This year Red Nose Day falls today, Friday 18th March. The biggest event of the day is a marathon telethon hosted by the BBC. It involves many celebrities and is a mix of comedy and poignant documentary films. All the money raised goes to good causes. The three main sponsors, the BBC, BT and Sainsbury’s give their services free and all of the participants waive their fees. All administrative costs are met from the interest accruing from monies raised before they are distributed to the many good causes.

The founders of Comic Relief are amazed and gratified by the success of their vision.

Richard Curtis, (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Blackadder) Co-founder of Comic Relief, says:

‘An astonishing credit to the British people, because of their continued and remorseless generosity’

The CEO of Sainsbury’s comments:

‘The Red Nose Day campaign has become part of Sainsbury’s way of life, and we’re incredibly proud that our colleagues and customers have been able to help raise £48 million for Comic Relief over the years’

In 1988 Barry was working in London and used to go running with two others during his lunch hour through the streets and parks. On that first Red Nose Day the three men collected more than £200 for Comic Relief, the equivalent of around £800 today.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

ABC Wednesday I is for Inkerman

The 20th Foot at the Battle of Inkerman by David Rowlands
Original owned by Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Battle of Inkerman took place on 5th November 1854 in Crimea, during the Crimean War of 1853 – 1856. The territory of Crimea was at that time part of the Russian Empire which had annexed it in 1783.

The battle was fought by the allied British and French troops against the Imperial Russian Army. It earned the name ‘The Soldier's Battle’ because foggy conditions on the day isolated the troops, sometimes into small parties of men, requiring them to rely on their own initiative. The name also refers to the savagery of the fighting.

The Russian attack, comprising 42,000 men and 134 guns, split into two forces, was concentrated on the British Second Division, numbering 2,700 men and 12 guns.
At dawn on Sunday, 5th November, the church bells of the Russian naval port of Sevastopol began pealing, not to call the people to worship, but to encourage the Russian troops as they advanced towards the British. 6,000 soldiers in dense columns were preceded by 300 riflemen. A further 9,000 men were held in reserve.

The Russian infantry pressed forward through drifting fog and were met by British troops using the British Minié rifled muskets. These were designed to give rapid muzzle reloading. They had a longer range and were more accurate than the Russians’ flint lock muskets. They were also more reliable, particularly in wet conditions.

As things began to look very difficult French and British reinforcements arrived, raising the numbers to 8,500 British with 38 guns and 7,500 French with 18 guns. (These numbers vary according to different sources) In spite of being heavily outnumbered, the British being outstripped by 5 to 1 for much of the fighting, the allied troops held their ground and repelled the Russian attacks. The Russians had no fresh reserves, having earlier deployed all their 42,000 troops. Gradually they started withdrawing. The allies did not give chase and by 2:30 pm were left holding the field.

Sir Edward Bruce Hamley, then a young officer, described the end of the fighting saying: ‘This extraordinary battle closed with no final charge nor victorious advance on the one side, no desperate stand nor tumultuous flight on the other. The Russians, when hopeless of success, seemed to melt from the lost field.’

This was the last occasion during the Crimean War that the Russians attempted large-scale attacks to defeat their opponents. They had been surprised and impressed by the tenacity and fighting spirit of their adversaries.

Twelve Victoria Crosses were awarded to British soldiers.

Thanks go to the Inspired Denise Nesbitt and her Indefatigable team who organise and host this weekly meme. Click here to see more Is.

Midweek Blues - Flying high

Thank you to Rebecca from 'The Dusty Cellar' who organises and hosts this weekly meme. Please click here to see more blues around the world.
Flying out of Heathrow . . .
. . . or perhaps in . . .
The British Airways fleet of aircraft have blue undersides so they are identifiable even if the tailplanes cannot be seen.
 Sometimes light aircraft are painted blue underneath but they're nothing to do with BA!
This one is flying from Blackbushe.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Do not read if you are easily offended - or blonde - or both

With apologies to all my blonde daughters and granddaughters and their friends . . .

Blonde on a plane

A plane is on its way to Toronto when a blonde in economy class gets up, moves to the first class section and sits down.

The flight attendant watches her do this and asks to see her ticket. She then tells the blonde that she paid for economy class and that she will have to return to economy.

The blonde replies, ‘I’m blonde, I’m beautiful, I’m going to Toronto and I’m staying right here.’

The flight attendant goes into the cockpit and tells the pilot and the co-pilot that there is a blonde bimbo sitting in first class who belongs in economy and won't move back to her seat.

The co-pilot goes back to the blonde and tries to explain that because she only paid for economy she will have to leave and return to her seat.

The blonde replies, ‘I’m blonde, I’m beautiful, I’m going to Toronto and I’m staying right here.’

The co-pilot tells the pilot that he probably should  have the police waiting when they land to arrest this blonde woman who won't listen to reason.

The pilot says, ‘You say she is a blonde? I'll  handle this, I’m married to a blonde. I speak blonde.’

He goes to the blonde and whispers in her ear and she says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ and gets up and goes back to her seat in economy.

The flight attendant and co-pilot are amazed and ask him what he said to make her move without any fuss.

 ‘I told her, ‘First class isn't going to Toronto.’ 

My World Tuesday

It was a fine, frosty morning yesterday but as the day grew up so the sun shone warmly. Our walk was a delight - the bluest of blue skies, the sweetest of bird songs and fresh, clean air to breathe. 
The waxing gibbous moon shone palely, surprised at its eminence in the sunshine.
There are a number of new ponds in the forest. 
They were dug out recently, in the last couple of weeks, so the surrounding ground still bears the scars carved in it by the heavy diggers and has yet to recover. The mallards are quick to discover new waterways. We see these drakes every year. They usually accompany a single duck but she was nowhere to be seen.
Book ends, anyone?
Preening is important. A chap's got to look his best!
Aircraft flew high above, little sound audible in the clear atmosphere.
This one is a British Airways aircraft. How do I know? The BA fleet is the only one whose planes have blue undersides.
 Vapour trails dispersed quickly, an indication of a fine day in prospect.
There had been some logging. The smell of pine resin was quite intoxicating.
Strange fruit in a Scots Pine. Can you see it?
Have a closer look . . . No?
There, now! It looks like an apple or maybe an orange. Odd! 
I wasn't with Barry on the day this fruit 'ripened'. 
 It is usually to be seen in a Labrador's mouth. 
Yes, it's a Kong - the orange thing, not Gus!
The one in the tree? Barry threw it rather enthusiastically and it caught in the branches. So it hangs, being tested by the elements. I wonder how long it will remain there. The Labradors are clever and persistent but tree climbing is not one of their skills - not to twenty feet, anyway.
This is the retrieval ground to which they are accustomed . . . 
 . . . or this, though this is not strictly 'ground'!

Thanks go to the My World Tuesday team who organise and host this weekly meme. Please click here to see other worlds.

Monday 14 March 2011

Monday Photo Prompt Eating olives

I'm joining Monday Photo Prompt at 'Bifocal Univision today. The challenge is to create a post inspired by the photo prompt. It could be poetry, prose, a quilted jacket - anything you please!  

Here is this week's photo - my nonsense follows.
Hal was unhappy. Not only that, he was cold. How had he ended up on this chilly pillar without a stitch of clothing and a silly flying helmet on his head?

The last thing he remembered was the olive eating competition. He had reached fifty-one and was definitely on a winning streak. Just thirty-five seconds to go and he’d win the prize. He couldn’t recollect what the prize was but knew it must have been something he really wanted as he didn’t like olives much.

He was swallowing the sixtieth olive when he began to feel rather peculiar. Too late he realised that the olives were preserved in alcohol, not brine, and combined with the several drinks he’d imbibed just before the contest (‘Dutch courage’ he’d persuaded himself) they had served as an anaesthetic. He dimly recalled falling slowly to the floor (as with all accidents, time seemed to slow down) and hearing laughter and shouts of encouragement. Now, this!

He chewed his fist and stared glumly at the ground. He would have liked to move, but modesty forbade – that, and the crowd of interested onlookers pointing at him and giggling. Suddenly, a young woman pushed her way through the crowd and strode up to him. With horror he recognised his fiancée. She was furious.

‘I knew this would happen if you let Joe organise your stag party. Some best man he is,’ she fumed. ‘I hope it was worth it. Here’s your prize,’ and she handed him an outsized jar of olives. ‘We’re getting married this afternoon - did you remember? Don’t be late!’

As she stormed off, Joe stepped sheepishly from behind the trees and handed Hal his clothes. ‘Sorry, mate,’ he mumbled.