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4th October 2013

Lampoon n satirical attack in writing or verse ridiculing someone or something Bryngaer n hill fort (Welsh) Saturnalia n Roman festival of Saturn come to mean period of festivity and revels

Passim adverb here and there, used in footnotes to mean what is bein greferred to occurs in various places in the text

Rigmarole n complicated process, tedious confusion, unnecessary tasks Platitude n banal statement, empty comment, pointless Ennui n boredom through lack of interest, weariness, lack of excitement, dissatisfaction Acquiesce verb agree to something passively or in a reserved manner Sisyphean adj endless and futile labour Scamper v to run in a light and playful manner

LIFE OBSERVATIONS Having to move our venue for Rising Brook Writers from the library to the local fire station may not be so bad, if we are to be treated to the sight of burly fire fighters sliding down their greasy poles! (Steady on

old bean... It‟s a one storey building!!!)

A foreign holiday to a deliciously warm spot in the early autumn is great, except that when you return home, you feel the cold and have to turn on the central heating! What is stressful? ... The price of glasses and the way you can‟t reuse frames as you used to be able to. The cost of bus fares is astronomical: £2.10 to travel one mile into town and no fare stages, so it costs as much to go two stops as ten stops. How is this encouraging people out of their cars?

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"Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances." - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

„Who‟d be a painter?‟ John thought, castigating himself, for, if he was candid, the composition he‟d produced was weak. Although he‟d had no great enthusiasm for painting a portrait of Mrs. Barnstaple‟s venerably ancient tortoise Galapagos, he could not afford to turn down a commission. It was, after all, how he made his living. As he sat over a soothing cappuccino and a chicken salad, for food always helped the creative processes, he made a decision to over paint the original picture and, using a palette knife, improve the texture of the creature‟s shell. With application it should only take him a week. (PCJ)

The icy stab of the lighthouse beam flickering across the dark waters of the bay sent a shiver down his spine. At the window, Gavin Masters, the only occupant of the waiting room stirred the toxic sludge from the vended coffee machine with a biro and expected another bout of the chronic indigestion he kept having of late. He worried a box of matches from his pocket, looked at the no smoking on pain of death notice and sighed the deep sigh of the addict. (SMS)

Random Words: shadow, indignant, horse, culture, feckless, inebriate, model, quarantine, fractious, singing, day, Bollywood, tricycle, free, escape Assignment: Water 2012: RBW FREE e-books PUBLISHED on RBW and DynamicPage.aspx?PageID=52

Steph’s & Clive’s FREE e- books published on and on RBW main site DynamicPage.aspx?PageID=52

2013: RBW FREE e-books PUBLISHED on RBW and

RBW team are delighted to announce the RBW 2013 comedy, King Harffa and the Slightly Oblong Table of Trentby, which has a knavish chuckle at the expense of our Arthurian heritage, has been published as a free e-book on Facebook, and the main RBW website: DynamicPage.aspx?PageID=78 RBW team are delighted to announce the RBW 2013 memories collection, has been published as a free e-book on Facebook, and the main RBW website: http:// PageID=79

Submissions for the RBW 2014 Short Story Collection Roads Less Travelled are now invited. All contributors must be registered with RBW Library Workshop or be weekly email pdf recipients Submit in the usual way. Closing date for submissions 30th Nov 2013

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Remembrance Sometimes it hurts to remember, Sometimes, I want to forget, Yet all of the time, I need to recall. Each memory since we met. *** The good times and the bad times, The funny and the sad and The nights we lay, our arms entwined And yearned for the joys we‟d had. *** We talked a lot, we laughed a lot And occasionally we cried We searched our hearts together For reassurance that we had tried *** To make the most of our given lot To cope with the heartache and pain To savour the memories of happier days Knowing they couldn‟t occur again. *** Yet the memories of our younger days Helped to keep us going When we laughed with our family and our friends , In spite of each one of us knowing. *** Those days were long, the nights dragged on Through that terminal December How lucky we were to be comforted By such an abundance of life to remember.

A Valentine Card Lament I long to receive a Valentine card Adorned with hearts and flowers I‟m not looking for commitment, Or your attention for hours and hours. *** I‟m just looking for a moment‟s joy To feel that someone might care. And perhaps we‟ll laugh about it A secret, with someone to share. *** , In the past I‟ve had a good partner Who was truly the love of my life My husband remembered each Valentines Day I was so happy being his wife. *** I miss all his special tributes Life without him is sometimes hard It would help if just for one more time I could receive a Valentine card, *** So if anyone out there is listening To this elderly lady‟s plea, Come on be a sport, just do it Send a Valentine card to me.

Alice Schofield

Alice Schofield

Have you sent in your submissions for FOOTPRINTS the RBW 2014 poetry collection?

Growing Problems Most people have sown seeds of things like Parsnips, Carrots, Beetroot, etc directly into the ground and on a little walk around the allotments it is easy to see neat rows of seedlings coming up in most of the plots. On the other hand some people have bought young bean plants to transplant and some have sown them directly in situ. Last year I started all of mine off in trays and when they were transplanted they were set back so much that those sown later, in the soil, on other plots, did better than mine! This time I am not going to put full packets of everything in like last season, because I had far too much of each vegetable and in the end a lot went to waste. Now that people are getting to know each other a little better they are starting to pass part seed packets and spare plants to each other a little more. What better excuse to have a break from all that digging and go and have a chat with someone else and give them a few seeds or plants at the same time. To make a little more space on my plots I have started giving away young Current and Gooseberry bushes as I had far too many that were grown from rooted cuttings. Gooseberries are very easy to root and will often root themselves. All you need to do is peg down some long, trailing stems and they will root in no time. Current bushes aren‟t much harder, although they are best done through the winter when they are dormant.

NB Editor Note: These blogs began in 2010 and are still running to the present day. We are publishing from the beginning as they provide an insight into a yearly progression.

I tried leaving a lot of the surplus Turnips, Carrots, Kale and Kohl Rabi in the ground over the winter. Not a lot of it rotted, except a few Carrots, but as soon as things started to warm up it all started to go to seed and the Turnips especially, went very woody. Because the Kohl Rabi survived the cold I decided to plant some young seedlings out very early to get an early start. In a few weeks I will sow another small batch to follow on and that way I should get an almost continuous crop all through the season. There are quite a few other quick growing vegetables that are best done like this, apart from the obvious salad crops like Lettuce.

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The Garden Centres are full of all sorts of vegetables and have started reducing prices on plants, but with this crazy weather we are having it is still advisable to be careful what you plant out, even though we are into May. If in doubt put some fleece or cloches over the young plants. All the garden outlets are full of cloches of all sizes and shapes including large “Cold Frame,” sized ones right up to mini greenhouses. At last my Sweet Potatoes have come so, being a bit delicate, I am going to try them in one of these giant cloches to give them an extra boost. As plot holders have started to dig their plots this season, a lot of them are finding grubs in the soil. These may well be “Chafer,” grubs that over winter underground and munch on the roots of plants in the Spring. If found they should be squashed, because being an organic site there really isn‟t any other way of dealing with them as no chemicals can be used. Underneath all the taps on the site are large plastic tubs to catch the spillages and prevent the sloping paths from being washed away. However, I think as things warm up we may well get a problem with midges around the tubs. Again we can‟t really use insecticides as such, but a tiny little bit of soap of almost any kind will break the surface tension and prevent the midges from hanging from the surface so they can‟t breathe and the soap won‟t harm any plants either. This is a good idea for water tubs at home as well.

Rushing In Where Fools, etc! According to the TV the Asparagus season has been terrible this year with firstly a dry start followed by too much wet. Crops are said to be disastrous, but my first batch of plants, that were put in my allotment last Spring, have yielded some 20 stalks already. A local farm shop, situated on a canal bank in a nearby village that grow their own, seem to have plenty of Asparagus for sale as well. In fact they seem to be doing a much better range of locally grown vegetables altogether, now that they have redeveloped the site. As well as the seasonal pick your own fruit, they always sold some vegetable plants in the past along with a few bedding plants, but now they have also opened a separate retail plant nursery shop on the site. To make even more of a visit, there are plans to build a new café later and the whole site backs on to a new purpose built marina behind the greenhouses. But back to my allotment. I have planted my Globe Artichokes that eventually arrived through the post and was disappointed to find that they were not crowns, but only seedlings which I could have grown myself for a fraction of the price. It pays to read the text in adverts properly! I will definitely have to wait until next year before I can cut any “Globes.” My Asparagus bed is in front of the strawberries and next to the Globe Artichokes and my perennial Welsh Onions, or Ciboule at the side of them. Hopefully all of this block of plants are going to be in for a few years at least, and with the need to walk between them, I decided to cover the whole area with bark chippings. Not only will they be a good surface to walk on, but they will suppress the weeds and help to keep the moisture in. Bags of chips can be very expensive, but I heard of some very cheap bags of chips being sold on Cannock Chase in a little nursery where they make their own. At only £2 for a big bag they seemed a bargain, but when I got them back to the allotments I realised they were made from Pine. Bark chips will remove nitrogen from the soil anyway and pine is even worse because they are poisonous to most plants. That is why not much grows in an old pine forest. Having bought them and put them down I am going to take a chance, but it pays to be cautious of bargains! Recently I had to abandon my allotment in the next village and dig up lots of fruit bushes and trees that were all potted and taken home as I didn‟t have enough space on my plot at Hixon. You really shouldn‟t uproot plants, especially large bushes and trees, when they have leafed up, so some have really suffered. The smaller currents don‟t look too bad, but the fruit trees look awful with all of their leaves shrivelled up. Hopefully, the dormant buds will throw out new leaves later on when the roots have had chance to recover. In the meantime I am keeping them in a very shady and sheltered spot, so the sun doesn‟t dry them and the wind doesn‟t rock them in their pots. As yet I haven‟t decided to put any of the Rhubarb or Raspberries that were dug up, in at Hixon, but my brick built compost heap at home provided a simple solution for the Rhubarb. They like very rich soil full of manure, so it was an easy matter to level it all out and add a little spent potting compost from the winter planted tubs at home that were going to be emptied and replanted soon anyway. This made a tidy surface around the plants and a new home for half a dozen plants. For the red raspberries, I rolled down some old compost bags and “Potted,” a quantity of canes in the bottom of each as if I were roughly “Healing them in,” as you would bunches of canes in open ground. My prized yellow canes were potted up individually, though. When I had originally dug up my Raspberry bed at home a couple of years ago, I had kept the canes for a full season in old compost bags like this before replanting them, so they should be ok until I find a more permanent home for the all fruit.


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Retirement had come to Greg at last after what had seemed an interminable number of tedious years. In fact his whole life had been tedious, years and interminable years of tedium. His job, a clerk with the Inland Revenue had been unspeakable! Oh yes, very white collar, very respectable and hadn‟t his wife always prided herself that her husband went to work in a suit and came home with clean hands? It made them, she maintained, rather superior and that superiority left her gloating over their neighbours, most of whom were skilled blue-collar. Secretly, she made him laugh, though not too loudly. Their neighbours had much bigger, newer cars, bigger televisions and better foreign holidays! Poor in comparison, Anne still stuck her toffee nose up in the air and had refused to let their children play out in the street with all the others, but then, what could he expect of Anne? Oh, it was fine, so fine not to be on the daily hamster wheel, but 24/7 with Anne? Longing for lie-ins with, on occasions a little bit of „whay hay and what about the workers‟ to sweeten the deal, he found himself poked and prodded, nagged and niggled until in the end he gave in and rose at the same time as she did, the disgusting hour of 8am! Oh, but then, what could he do all day while she vacuumed, dusted and fumed around him? „For goodness sake get a hobby, do!‟ Anne hassled him. „I can‟t have you under my feet all day! Honestly Greg, you are getting on my nerves!‟ He‟d given up on hobbies years ago, after a painstakingly constructed model of a Tall Ship had been ruined by the children; an accident, Anne maintained, but he had never been convinced of that excuse, knowing how much she had resented the time and effort he‟d spent, flouncing around, banging things in the kitchen and on more than one occasion sabotaging his collection of necessary materials, once again, „by accident‟. After that debacle, he‟d taken the line of least resistance and slumped in front of the television each night, just as she did and it had seemed, yes, you‟ve guessed it, interminable! Apart from putting more effort into the garden which was small, damp and shady with intractable clay soil, he just couldn‟t make up his mind what hobby to choose. He knew all too well, that if it took up space or made a mess at home, he wouldn‟t be allowed to enjoy a second of it, but if he was out alone for long periods then he would have the third degree on returning home, for Anne had perennial suspicions about his faithfulness, convinced that every male allowed any kind of leaway, as sure as eggs were eggs, would stray. She saw a harmless smile and good morning to a female neighbour, or a chat about the weather as he bought his morning paper as a threatening prelude to „goings on‟. Her jealousy had made his life a misery. In fact, she had made his lie a misery but it was too late now to change horses. He was stuck! In the end, he found it, The Gentleman‟s Walking Group! He ran the idea past Anne, who when fully convinced women were verboten and assured that he‟d be getting healthy exercise, be out of her way and innocently occupied, gave her blessing. He hadn‟t given a thought to how unfit he was, when togged in old trousers and anorak, shod in city shoes and carrying a packamac just in case, he tagged on to the end of a gaggle of grey/green hearty looking men who stomped heavily along in walking boots, waterproof trousers and gaiters, all with bulging backpacks as if they were out on a Himalayan trek instead of a few miles across local fields. The pace amazed him, scuttling along in the rear, so breathless he was unable to find any for conversation although the others seemed able to exchange a continual barrage of badinage, joshing each other happily, while he, uncomfortable in that never mastered male camaraderie, kept silent. Fearful that he would be left behind, he all but ran along, his side aching miserably, his mouth dry, more or less ignored by this happy band of companionable wanderers. When a pub. hove in sight and with shouts of joy his companions made their way to it, Greg sighed with relief. He could sit down! Never much of an ale man, he, nevertheless appreciated the refreshing quality of the „half‟ he had purchased and said so to the taciturn be-whiskered critter sitting beside him who was already noisily supping on his second pint. To Greg‟s amazement this unleashed a long and enthusiastic lecture on „real ale.‟ Apparently Greg had gone for, shame of shames, a commercially brewed glass of hogwash and should be ashamed of himself! By the time the lecture had been drowned in the man‟s last gollop of beer, Greg felt sure that he had made a cardinal error and would be drummed out of the corps forthwith. Eventually they all set off again with hearty „Hi Ho Silvers‟ to the landlord , and took to the

nearest hill, a stiff climb, which Greg found an endurance test, his stomach bloated gassily with the beer and his mind almost as bloated by the minutiae of information he had been given on cask ales. Uphill and down dale, the walk continued until, at last, Greg could recognise the start point and realised, with the utmost relief, that he was not far from home, when this endurance test would end. „Right lads,‟ their leader‟s ringing tones creating immediate hush, „Can i have a hand count for Saturday?‟ Immediately, most hands shot up. „One, two, three...‟ he counted, walking around the group. „What‟s going on on Saturday?‟ Greg ventured to the man standing next to him. „Oh, we‟ve got a twenty mile trek over the Malverns. Should be mega!‟ „Oh dear... no, I don‟t think...‟ In fact, he didn‟t think The Gentleman‟s Walking Group was for him at all! Limping home, blisters excruciating, feet aching, his shoes caked in mud and burping painful mouthfuls of beery acid reflux, he felt defeated. Could he perhaps get fitter when it would not be quite such a drag, but even then, fit or not, would he ever fit in with those hearty, beer swilling bores? He was in sight of the house when a sneaky little thought came to him. The Gents. were an absolutely perfect excuse to get legitimately away from Anne on a regular basis! Was he mad, thinking of throwing away such a perfect chance for freedom? Freedom! It was a heady thought, for he knew how he would use those days so innocently even Anne could not, in principle, object, though she would certainly do so. Reading was his joy, a holy grail that had been denied him for years. Anne seeing such sedentary activities as the dark depth of sloth, had demonstrated her disapproval of yet another of his hobbies by interrupting him continually, making excessive noise and generally ensuring as only she knew how, that he was made fully aware of her displeasure. In this, as in the model making, she had, as usual, won out! The Library would provide his refuge, safely ensconced in amongst the beloved stacks of books, commandeering a comfortable armchair, he could spend a morning, hidden away, in seventh heaven! The Library had a coffee machine and just round the corner was a decent little cafe where he could indulge in a full English Breakfast, a treat Anne refused to cook, and for the icing on the cake, sneak on to the local multiplex and enjoy the matinee. If he was careful, making sure he came back with muddy shoes, rosy cheeks and suitably wet should it have rained, she would never know. As he opened the door he heard her call out „Had a good time love?‟ „Oh, it was,‟ what was the word that bloke had used? „Mega!‟ „She came down the hall towards him, wiping her hands on her apron. „Mind you leave those shoes in the porch on a newspaper. What a lot of mud!‟ and she shuddered. „Oh, it wouldn‟t do for me! I can‟t abide mud! You‟re limping as well. I hope you haven‟t overdone yourself?‟ „No, just a blister. I‟ll have to get some proper boots.‟ „Oh, more money! That‟s the trouble with these things, it‟s all money.‟ „Oh, it‟s not going to cost much. I saw a pair in the Charity Shop. That‟ll do me. I‟m off to Malvern with them on Saturday. Should be... mega; a nice healthy walk over the hills.‟ „Oh, well, that‟s good. I want to ask mother over. She‟s going to help me cut out a new dress. We can‟t do with you hanging about when we‟ve got fabric and pins all over.‟ „There you go, then, it‟s just the thing! Nice views from the Malverns. It‟ll do me good. I think I‟ll go and have a bath.‟ As he lay in the water, soaking for a bit of a treat in Anne‟s Christmas gift Bubble Bath, he could smell the delicious aroma of Anne‟s steak and kidney pudding wafting up the stairs and had to admit that in her own way, she had always been a good wife to him. Still, he smiled to himself, every man needs a little secret and it was high time he had one too. The anticipation was spine-tingling! First off, he‟d finish Bleak House and then... oh, the literary world was his oyster! Maybe he‟d tackle War and Peace, and he sighed to himself with satisfaction, sluicing water over his chest. Three Men in a Boat would be a little light relief, then he might try some crime novels. It was a cornucopia and a never ending cornucopia at that! It was almost as exciting as starting an affair, something he had never indulged in, mainly because he was far too shy, but this plan was surely almost as good, or better maybe, no guilt! Yes, there was no doubt about it. There was nothing in the world for a Gent. better than having a Hobby!

The Hobby Aerial acrobat, Sky runner, Fleet of wing, Mobile master of the maneuver. Such artistry. Darts like a swift, Or a fish in water. Pointed pinions, Elegant, neat, precise. Speckled chest and Steely eye. Misses nothing. Flashing and dashing, Wheeling and reeling. Sweeping the clouds. Darting and parting them. Sharp-sighted, Sharp clawed. Consummately confident. Catches his prey on the wing In those lethal talons. Tears to pieces his mid-air meal. We welcome you, Summer visitor to our shores. Master of the skies.

The play began with the title My Flesh, My Blood as a BBC Radio play, broadcast on 17 August 1957 in the Saturday Night Theatre strand. By April 1958 a BBC TV version had been broadcast and in October 1959 a stage adaptation was put on at the Bolton Hippodrome. The story set in Bolton concerns the Crompton family, where the father, Rafe, attempts to assert his authority as his children are growing up.

John lived just off the North Circular Road, and had a high-powered job in the city. All week he was closeted in a stuffy office, but at weekends, spent time walking in the Berkshire countryside. He was a member of CAMRA, the Campaign For Real Ale, and would stop for lunch at a country pub, to enjoy a pint and a chicken with sage and onion stuffing lunch. He loved tomato ketchup and would splurge a generous dollop on his meal. One day, he met like-minded lass, who shared all his passions, including tomato sauce, so of course, the denouement of the story is obvious. They were wed in the nearby chapel and had chicken with stuffing and ketchup for their wedding breakfast. (Random Words)

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(Assignment) Craft A Friday in early September. We went by coach to La Rabida, near Huelva in southern Spain, to see the monastery where Christopher Columbus spent seven years trying to persuade the local literati and public dignitaries that it would be a good idea to fund his latest hair-brained scheme. He had a notion that the earth was round, not flat, can you believe it? And thus, that in theory it would be possible to sail west and come right back round to where you started, from a easterly direction, opening up lucrative new trade routes to India, etc as he went. The reigning monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella were busy fighting wars elsewhere, but eventually returned to their palace nearby, and with the help, persuasive powers and support of the Franciscan brothers, Columbus finally convinced them to fund his voyages of exploration. Two small, fast boats, caravels the Nina and the Pinta, and a larger supply ship, the Santa Maria, which was much heavier and less manoeuvrable, and which was eventually to flounder on rocks and not return with the other two, were commissioned, and on August 3rd 1492, set off on the perilous journey. As they say, ‘the rest is history’. Those of us who now enjoy holidays to Disneyworld, Florida have the old chap to thank for discovering the place. Our holiday company had planned a visit to the monastery, to be followed by a short drive to the harbour area nearby, where there were exact replicas of the three tiny, fragile ships which had undertaken such arduous journeys. We were able to go on board the Nina and Pinta, but the Santa Maria, we were informed, was currently undergoing renovation. This, it turned out, involved one solitary man in overalls, standing precariously in a rowing boat, which was tethered at either end to the larger vessel, and from which he was stretching up, paintbrush in hand , to repaint the outside. It put me in mind of the Forth Bridge saga, whereby the job is never finished, because as soon as the far end is reached, it’s time to start painting the front end again. Besides, the other two vessels seemed to be in need of some pretty urgent attention too, and would benefit from a few coats of varnish. We wondered if the man designated to the task had gone to his branch of Spain’s equivalent of B&Q with his over 60’s discount card, to buy the countless tins of creosote he’d surely need to complete the job!

Day Dreams Look down into the stream with the wonder of a child, Watch the light play on the ripples as the sun catches the tiny scales of a minnow. Movement is constant, forever changing the shapes of the pebbles. Hear the melody of the water swirling now gentle now urgent in its need to discover fresh pathways flooding after rain changing colour with peat settling back to its gentler rhythm twinkling and splashing along the gravel bed.

December Drowning Through life now she wanders lonely, trudged, brought low, along streets and passing bright houses, where never once a friendly face peers out. No kindly host, no golden saviour. Under leaden skies, beneath bus shelters, she cowers shivering. Dithers in the rain. Continuous bombardment by cares that hammer and beat with every blow. Worries stretched in never-ending thud along the margins of every hour of every day. Ten thousand queuing in a dance, tossing inside her every dreamscape. Shopping trolley, abandoned by taxi rank, too cold to wait longer. Wanders away. Unloved. Shouting voices inside her leer. Inadequate. Inadequate. Inadequate. Oh, for the quiet bliss of solitude: tempting, dark glass-still waters beckon. SMS 2010

Vote for Me Saying what we want to hear In an arrogant, pompous way. Vote for me. I AM RIGHT! That's what they all say? I am for the Common Man, I‟ll work hard - just for you, I‟ll fight all of your battles, Whatever you tell me to. Don‟t fall again for such rhetoric, Let him charm the birds from the trees, We‟ve fallen for this once or twice, And now the country is on its knees. Don‟t believe a single word, Think politics of the past, All those empty promises, We knew they wouldn't last. Rainbow Ribbons Across the sky the ribbons are in place, a promise made so many years ago. The artist picks the colours from his case, and with delight, allows the paint to flow. The sun is high so raindrops disappear, An arc of gold where once the clouds were black! Blink of the eye, it now becomes quite clear, an artist‟s brush is following each track. Strong lines of paint will seep into their place, where ribbons mark a picture in the sky. Before you know, a rainbow fills the space, a glorious arc to lift the spirits high. The work of God, a promise made to keep, To show His love, as wide as it is deep!

ELEMENTS TOO or 2 [STILL not to be confused with those in kettles, light bulbs and the like] Somebody just had to do it, didn't they? They just couldn't let well enough alone, could they? I said at the time it'd all end in tears. It all ended in Champagne, or at least fizzy grape juice, instead. They went and found the Higgs Boson! It was hiding behind something large, which is why they didn't spot it in the first place, and it had carefully been painted to match the background, or painted INTO the background - very careless these scientistic types, no idea of how to handle a spray gun, and dodgy with light bulbs for that matter. They‟re better with a brush but need careful training when light bulbs are involved; and if oil cans are in the offing it's best to leave the area, just in case. “Now,” they say - well, they would wouldn't they, I mean they went and spent all the 'leccy money out of the Brown Teapot on a big machine, so they've got to say something - “we can work out how the universe runs and where all the dark matter is.” They must be daft! Anybody could have told 'em that! It's dead easy, you just stick a pound in the slot and wind the handle, the light comes on, and BINGO, there you are. In the light! No dark to matter. No wonder they couldn't find it! The poor little Higgs Boson's afraid of the dark, probably run out of coins, and couldn't find its Euro's in the dark. “Ha-ha!”, they say, “Ha-ha!”. Lots of training involved there; they've passed courses on it I don't doubt. “It's not that kind of dark!” I mean! Just how many kinds of dark are there? There's the type you get when you turn the light out and there's the type you get when you close your eyes. Of course, if you do both you get the third type just before you go to sleep. If you go camping, there's another type; rather like nut and chocolate nougat, that's a sort of mixed dark with bits of starlight in it; unless somebody‟s pinched your tent while you're asleep in it when it gets red round the edges. There's probably a few more types of dark needing extensive funding to find, but that was my last pound coin I put in the meter and I need to boil the kettle before it runs out; then its back to painting the fence before I run out of paint, or it gets dark. Then it will matter.

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“Just to let you know I now have two volumes of my book "The Longest Furrow" published and for sale on Amazon UK in paper back and on Kindle.” This is a book reflecting back on my life, having been brought up on a farm in a small village, in rural England. Born in 1938 and still live not a mile and a half from where I was “dropped” it's about my early recollections of the end of World War II, the rationing, the old characters who worked on the farms and estate through the years, about mother and father and family farming through more than sixty years, how they brought us up in the 1940s, four of us lads in the old farm house with no central heating and no mod com‟s. Some of the descriptions are in the form of poetry, and all of it is of what I have actually experienced through my seventy five years of life. It‟s in no particular order, and written as and when it came to mind. Cows and cattle, shire horses to tractors , workshop and welding, cooking and knitting, coffins and the wheelwright, blacksmith and mending, gypsies and wagons, school and college and many more stories of the village in between plus a sprinkling of pictures to boot. It does not all fit in this first book so there will be more volumes to come.

“To be candid,” Jessica told him over a cappuccino and chicken sandwich, “I don’t think it’s up to your usual standards”. She reached for her knife and cut the bread in two. “Your last exhibition of course, was a great success, and I don’t mean to be negative, but I feel your latest work is rather weak by comparison.” The young portrait painter looked disappointed. “Can you be more specific?” She continued. “Well, I don’t mean to castigate, but take those portraits of Elton John, Winston Churchill, Prince Philip and Mick Jagger. You’ve made them all look like a tortoise!” “But to me they DO!” he insisted. (PMW)

Year 1564 : The Cast : The Queen‟s Men : a group of strolling players thrown out of London where the theatres have been closed due to an outbreak of plague Kit Marlowe (wordsmith/detective), Harry Swann (the first victim who first told the story of the poisoned silver challis), Samuel Burball (Owner), Peter Pecksniff, Daniel Alleynes, young Hal who plays the girl‟s roles v The Boar‟s Head Tavern, Trentby: Bertha landlady, Molly Golightly, Martha Goodnight wenches The Trentby Abbey of St Jude : Abbot Ranulf knows something about the missing Roman hoard of silver plate/ chalice etc The Manor of Bluddschott : sodden Squire Darnley Bluddschott, wife Mistress Anne, daughter Penelope about to be sold off into matrimony, Mistress Hood seamstress The Sheriff‟s Castle : Magistrate Squire Humphrey Pettigrew, Black Knight, the Sherriff Lord Haywood, man-at-arms Richard of Hyde Leigh, a constable and a scribe Modern Day: Rick Fallon and Tommy Tip-Tip McGee** Private eyes in Trentby on case for Sir Kipling Aloysius Bluddschott to locate silver chalice and Roman hoard of Trentby Abbey + corpse Jago Swann, DI Pete Ferret To give the tale a twist we want to attempt to take what seems like an historical fiction novel and write it as if it‟s a hard-boiled 1930‟s pulp fiction romp. It might not work but we‟ll give at a go and see what happens... Suggest we all read some Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction e.g. The Big Sleep, Farewell, my Lovely, The Little Sister, The

Long Goodbye etc

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** Characters from Where There‟s A Will There‟s A Weigh RBW fiction project

Research by CMH Time = When did the church bells ring? Time keeping in the Elizabethan period was haphazard. Most folks didn't have any way to keep track of the hours and relied on Church bells to do it for them in just the same way as the Roman Church had before The Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Church was gradually giving way to Commerce - who liked things to be even and regular - to do it for them but there was no rules about it. Nor was there a common time throughout the country – that had to await the coming of the railways when we got „Railway Time‟ now GMT as an early H&S measure [Train crashes where BAD for business]. The medieval English Church still divided a 24-hour day into eight liturgical Hours or Offices, each marked by prayer: Vigils (or Nocturns), Matins, Prime (1st), Terce (3rd), Sext (6th), None (9th), Vespers, and Compline. Community church bells rang all of these offices except Vigils, allowing the medieval serfs to coordinate their lives by the seven canonical bells that could be heard in all towns. Those in the more remote Vills, Hamlets, and Cots may have had a problem. The medieval Offices were not actually evenly spaced, however, Medieval records indicate the Offices were celebrated, on the equinox, at the times listed below: Name of Office Matins Prime Terce Sext None Vespers Compline

Equinoctial time. It varied over the year 0500. 0600 0830 1230 1430 1730 19 – 2000

NB: I haven‟t bothered with Vigils/Nocturn [about midnight to 0100 hours] because if you‟re asleep who cares – apart from a few odd people who wear funny gowns. Just as a nod in the right direction if you want to use a time to prove an alibi I would suggest that we stick to Equinoctial time on the table above and use the correct names. When it comes to quarter and half hours the problem becomes one of, 'Well we can't be sure, but, it was somewhere between (Name) and (Name)' and forget about minutes. The idea of 1/60th of an hour is much more modern.

THE END OF HARRY SWANN, YESTERDAY BEFORE HIS BODY FOUND ACW The owner of the Bear Baiting menagerie, Greate Mastyfe Dogge and Foule Ouglye Beare, suddenly came awake to the sudden sharp, sickening crack of timber splintering apart. A silent scream on his lips froze him to his straw-tick mattress as the sound of horrific screams washed over him, mirrored by the raging bear‟s roars, interrupted by screeching man‟s death throes. He leapt up and hurtled out of his covered wagon to a sight as of a battlefield‟s bloody carnage. Like a bell‟s peal it also struck him that his fighting mastiffs hounds were neither in full baying song nor bounding about in fury as hellhound dogs of war. The bear was content with his repast of having torn his surprise meal limb from limb and took off with his prize. Looking at what remained, the Bear Baiter did not know this man from Adam, but was puzzled. What was the point of sneaking onto the benches saving his coin chinks, in the middle of the moonless night, when no hound and bear was pitted one against the other? Another thought crept like a thief in the night upon his befuddled frown-ridden brow. The fury of hue and cry from the village, all brandishing scythe and pitch fork like a flag waving parade, would come upon him when the bear pit;s devastation was seen, which could have been them the next day. For a moment he stood amazed, statue stock still, till roused to quick wit by the dragging as if Marley‟s ghostly chains, of the bear now loosed to roam, smacking his lips of what was left of the unluckiest of men. Leaving the bear to his repast no man could deny, the Bear Baiter leapt up as if a young lad again up into the remains of the amphitheatre, to get to the far, far end of the long chain. Attaching the chain back to the post driven deep into mother earth, he saw that the links had been burst apart and choked on the acrid smoke of gunpowder lingering like miasmic fetid swamp air. Stuck fast in the post were the remains of an arrow‟s true flight. The old soldier hauled the corpse, made so much now the lighter, onto the midden handcart and kept off the paths, under the cover of forest and velvet dark night. Rats sniffed the cordon blue sickly sweet aroma of charon‟s prey they‟d caused over centuries of plagues, remembering the squeaky wheels of the handcarts being pushed by those who cried, Bring Out Your Dead! As the Bear Baiter neared the midden‟s steaming heap aback the tavern, he upturned the cart‟s full load and what was left of the unluckiest free ticket bilker. Then he heard such snoring that gave him prickly alarm upon cold skin, but then saw it was but his mastiffs, so deep in slumber that not one ran in his sleep in chase of pheasant or rabbit. What was left of the dogs‟ dinners he‟d never served the beasts, lay scattered on the wagon‟s floor. How then did his caged beasts‟ come to here? His oxen slumbered under his wagon‟s harnessed yoke, like an army‟s ambulance awaiting the dawn of battle. As he led his oxen roused to duty, with his midden cart lashed securely to his wagon, he couldn‟t think but what diabolical sadistic mind straight from the annals of

Roman arenas had thought up such a horrendous fate. For as he‟d clambered over his bear pit‟s planks and lashed timbers, he saw the telling signs in the trap set of the builder‟s art, but who? Clever he must have thought, for the killing field already peppered with spattered blood but foiled by an old sot‟s soldier‟s iron gut. It took but a moment to lash up the benches to cover the dread scene, to give no hint of the gladiatorial battle betwixt man and beast. The bear sat happily replete from his midnight feast, leaving not the tiniest morsel of gastronomic delight. The Manor of Bluddschott for the Squire Darnley Bluddschott Mistress Hood looked at the laid out new costume that had been Harry Swann‟s and shivered like her grave had been crossed on a winter‟s foggy night. Vesta Swann‟s tears streamed, as all prayed for the eternal soul of their fellow thespian Harry Swann. But notoriety had brought them more seats on benches, from the penny stalls of the common throng, to the gentlefolk sat upon damask cushioned luxury up in the gods, in the Boar‟s Head tavern. Just as a boar‟s tusked head was a good luck charm upon Saxon warrior‟s helmets, the boar had brought luck to the Queen‟s Players. „It‟s said tis an ill wind that brings no good, but this was a tempest cruel as a cat‟s glee at the mouse‟s torment. For the show must go on even though your heart is breaking,‟ murmured Vesta. Burball shot a glance at Vesta‟s tear-streaked face, glazed eyes and numb countenance, like a ghostly apparition itself. Moll Rippsheet cried, her voice catching in her throat, „Be us damned by God and beset by the demons who stalk this land of plague and want of cure?‟ Somewhere could be heard the swift scratchings of Kit Marlow‟s quill pen upon parchment. Then began the night‟s Play Prologue.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd. For never was a story of more woe than in this land of The Poisoned Chalice, A Love Denied. (ACW)


Latest Competitions: The Poetry Box Halloween Poetry 2013 | Closing Date: 01-Dec-13 The Travel Expert Travel Writing Competition | Closing Date: 01-May-14 David Burland Poetry Prize 2014 | Closing Date: 31-May-14

The Clue should have been in the blackened, smudged scrawl on the parchment in the hand of Kit Marlowe, but his mind drew a blank as his eyes burned through the message before him. Staring enough may just have been the sort of action he was expected to do, stare, learn from the messy words, and understand their meaning, by staring alone. His eyes became blurry as the untidy writing became unrecognisable by his standards, and he had seen words by hand in much worse of a state than this one. He put it onto the table, along with the other pieces of parchment, written by guessing of the same hand, all baring similar clues, if only the clues were reliable, or even clear. Somebody was playing a game, he could feel this right down into the pit of his stomach. From all of the years in the job of actor, the many hundreds of plays he had been a part of, this seemed to be the trickiest scene to say the very least. The murder of Harry Swann, had been a mystery, and nobody was any closer to figuring out the true events leading up to the tragedy. This last message had one difference that others did not have, a tiny signature at the bottom that, once again, was unrecognisable. A past message, teasing twists of truth had been embedded for a lifetime with ink, “he who must cry will die” the first read. Marlowe immediately suspected that perhaps Harry had been a squealer and given away information he was not meant to, or seen something not meant for his eyes, in the wrong place at the wrong time perhaps? The clue seemed to show obvious possibilities for the motives surrounding his death, yet as more messages came in to them, they all varied drastically, making the last one received seem useless. This last one was hardly any different. The words “hiding the game plays no man, although one man still hides”. Marlowe simply could not make sense of such a message, and the words seemed to have very little meaning. Another trick to block the investigation from moving forward? Somebody playing with the minds of those in charge, trying to bring justice to a man whose untimely death swept through the company like the plague flew through the air. Could this mean that the killer was hiding, could this be a messenger sending the notes, afraid to end up in the same pit as Harry? Could it just be the killer playing the game, which is what he thought as a personal opinion, but where was the proof? “Another one, eh Marlowe?” Marlowe jumped as Burball strode into the kitchen of the Boar‟s Head Tavern and was thrusting a piece of parchment into his hand. He must have fallen asleep for a moment or two, his eyes felt so very heavy. The thinking of the messages took their toll on him as he worked to the bone every day to find a crowd pleasing story that would fit into his play, only nothing had come of late and now this murder. Until he read this note, and his heart jumped ... this second letter, this message, was so very different. „Thank you,‟ he said and Burball left quickly, and closed the door behind him as Marlowe leaned forward and examined the blackened scrawl once again. This message was clear, and if this was a lead, it would change the light of everything. He smiled as he read the words, couldn‟t help himself as the adrenalin began to race through his veins. No longer tired, he re-read the words for a second, and third time. “Uncertainty, a canny little thing. A nagging inside you all right now, I am sure as you think of where to go. If only I could see your faces. I will tell you this, as a tiny helping hand, are you certain, by a 100%, that he is dead? Is your victim the victim, is this him? Uncertainty can be a powerful doubt. Are you certain?” MD

Forward Poetry

Hey-ho for the open road and a few other things Research by CMH Please don't be misled by those pretty pictures of four or six in hand mail coaches in full gallop along a turnpike. You didn't strain your animals that way - not if you needed them the next day and for the days after and the road surfaces weren't good enough until the 17 th and 18th century 'Turn Pikes' and even then it was a bit iffy. The Romans left Britain with a good road system; even though it wasn't fit for anything except light-wheeled traffic on other than local stretches the Roman HGV was limited to 500lb. That system fell apart after 410 AD and, by the 16th century, roads were in a mess that took centuries to sort out. The records seem to suggest that nobody in authority really bothered about it, and then they dabbled around the edges. Theoretically, it was the responsibility of the Lords of the Manors and the Reeves to maintain the roads through the area. For one reason or another, arguably manpower shortages, most didn't. By Elizabethan times the vast majority of major roads were, and had been for some time, little more than long thin puddles of, often deep, mud that essentially limited the use of wheeled transport. You may have spotted that many villages, small towns today, are around 7 to 10 miles apart and this is one of the many reasons why. As local examples think of Stafford to Stone or Penkridge. There are other villages such as Rickerscote; now subsumed by Stafford, and Dunston, mainly disappeared, towards Penkridge, or Marston, still existing and Yarlet, mainly gone, towards Stone. They existed as part of the 'hinterland' of the local conurbations. Goods could be moved by a string of packhorses or donkeys but a whole day could be spent in just getting goods from one place to another that are, today, about 15 minutes drive apart. The most reliable way was to walk, at least that way you werenâ€&#x;t bogged down in the mud, but of course, you couldn't carry much by way of trade. When it comes to back-packing the 'Chapman' (an itinerant trader in small goods) had it off to a fine art, but 120lb is about it when you hoist it on your shoulders, and woe betide you if you fell over. Drowning in mud was a distinct possibility. Our 'strolling players', The Queenâ€&#x;s Men, are going to have to have moved and, by volume, they've a LOT of stuff to shift so they'll probably have a couple of carts. These carts doubled as a stage when there wasn't one at the local inn, carry their household implements, act as sleeping quarters for those lucky enough (it's under the cart for the others), and carry all the other things that they may need. That means horses, mules, or oxen to shift them and a few more hands as Hostlers although the players could easily do some part of it. As a ROUGH idea each cart would take two or four animals to pull it through the muck, assuming that the ground had dried out a bit from the last rainstorm, and each one MUST be cared for, fed, watered etc 24/7. As we're NOT - I hope - envisioning them moving during the story this may not be a problem, but, please be aware that, 'Leaping on a horse and galloping off in all directions', is not a good idea - unless YOU decide differently of course. LIFE, MURDER and all that

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Murder was rare in Medieval times, and 'detection' was in its infancy. Murder only came into fashion, as it were, with the overcrowded towns of the Industrial Revolution. Life in an Agrarian Society was tough enough, and accidents frequent enough, so that all you needed to do was wait. Not for them any concerns about overpopulation. Basically, the whole world was recovering from the massive depopulation of a couple of hundred years earlier and the recurrent, generally annual, 'Pestilences'; the causative agent of which often wasn't that of the 1340s. Technically the term 'Plague' didn't come into use until later and was then limited to Yersina Pestis cases, it has a wider common usage today. Something like 50 or 60% of children didn't live past their 5th birthday so the recovery was glacially slow. Medical help, if/where available, was essentially limited to those who could afford it and was, to put it mildly, ineffective. Although we'll have to ignore it, the fact is that life in the 1560s was short, tough, crude and ugly.

There's a brand new edition of The Loop playing on Radio Wildfire – Now playing 24/7 a selection of stories, satires, poetry, spoken word, music and interview @ - another continuous Loop of live literature and chat. In this edition ... The Loop brings you poetry from Dwane Reads in Derby, when we play tracks from his new cd The Annoying Megaphone Pigeon - and from Zoe Piponides, from Cyprus (with the whistle that seems set to become her trademark). The Loop brings you poetry with music from international duo Kinsame based in Montpellier: a collaboration by the French poet Bissecta and KYT from Tokyo. The Loop talks to Sara Beadle about the forthcoming Birmingham Literature Festival and to Brian Dakin a.k.a Billy Spakemon about his new book of stories Frum The Coal 'Ole, listens to readings of some of the stories and learns about the origins of the pseudonym!. There be other stories and memoir when The Loop plays work uploaded to Radio Wildfire from Ron Runenborg, a great talespinner from Minnesota; and from Sylvia Millward in the West Midlands, nostalgic for her Toxic Garden. This month's contribution to The Loop from the superb Bunbury Banter Theatre Company is Hell Hath No Fury by Bruce Shakespear, a true (their description, not ours), satanic and hilarious warning about ambition set in the Victorian art world and (also their words) 'not for those of a nervous disposition'. The Loop brings you music by Surreal Realm from Indianapolis USA. So join us and listen by going to and clicking on The Loop any time from 18.00 hrs on Friday 20 September ... (And don’t forget, you can upload soundfiles of your own work to the 'Submit' page of the Radio Wildfire website. Mp3s are our preferred format. You can also ensure you always get reminders of upcoming shows on Radio Wildfire by following us on Twitter.) The Loop is curated by Vaughn Reeves and will play online continuously for the next month (approximately), except during our live broadcast on Monday 7th October starting at 8.00pm UK time with a full programme of pre-recorded tracks, live studio guests and conversation. Listen to Radio Wildfire at where The Loop plays 24 hours a day.

National Short Story Week


NSSW will take place between Monday 11th to Sunday 17th November. If you are organising an event to celebrate the week, we'd love to hear about it. We'll be putting information about NSSW events on our blog from next month, and you can find out how to submit details of your own event at: Our recommended reading list for 2013 is now online, and includes recommendations for adults and children. Why not see if your local library or bookshop will stock some of the titles from our list: We also have two exciting projects launching to tie-in with this year's National Short Story Week; we'll bring you news of them both very soon. National Short Story Week

Celebrating the short story and the short story writer

My Lost Poet, this week is AUGUST STRAMM (1874-1915) Most pupils of my generation studied First World War poets as part of their O levels, the poets were British: Brooke, Sassoon, Owen et al. We were never encouraged to consider that Germans had their own poets. The reason for this could be the lack of translations from German to English; we studied French and not German. There could also be the sensitivity that World War II had only ended 30 years previously and that the educationalists decided to avoid German war poetry. Having said this we did study both Wars including a German perspective in History. As we head towards it being 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War, I think that we should consider the poems of Stramm, whose style and voice was distinctly different to his British counterparts. Stramm is considered to be one of the early Expressionist poets, whose style sought to express meaning and emotion rather than reality. Stramm is very much a modernist voice, with stripped back, terse, stark poems where every word conveys a bleak terror or haunted feeling. LIFE Stramm was born in MĂźnster (Westfalen) in 1874; the son of a civil servant. His early career saw him working for the German Ministry for the Post Office. He completed his mandatory military service in 1896/97 and is known to have made several trips to the USA between his military service and 1900. He married in 1902 and by 1905 he had settled in Berlin. In 1912 / 13 he wrote two plays Sancta Susanna and Die Haidebraut both of which were performed before the outbreak of war. His poetry flourished due to his acquaintance with the Berlin publisher Herwath Walden who had established the Expressionist journal, Der Sturm. With the outbreak of War, Stramm as a reservist was called up and reached the highest rank for a civilian that of Captain. He saw action on the Somme and Alsace for which he received the Iron Cross (2nd Class). He was stationed on the Eastern Front when he was killed in action at Horodec in September 1915. POETRY Strammâ€&#x;s poetry does not rely on the reader making historic associations or use of Latin that his British counterparts did. His short poems fire bullets of expression into the silence and let them echo in your thoughts. Normally starting with a long line they pair down into single words as they progress, as if he is trying to squeeze the last breath out of every poem. These poems do not retreat or provide answers, they do not moralise on the situation. They just describe it as it is: blood, killing, murder. Issue 306 Page 24

There are links below to some of his other poems in translation or versions. But my little knowledge of German has left me dissatisfied with some of the translations and interpretations. These are really powerful voices – voices that still resonate in contemporary poetic parlance. I felt I needed to go back to the original German and to work on my own interpretation, which I have done below with his poem Wunde (Wound). Wunde – Original German by August Stramm

Die Erde blutet unterm Helmkopf Sterne fallen Der Weltraum tastet Schauder brausen Wirbeln Einsamkeiten Nebel Weinen Ferne Deinen Blick Wound – English Translation/version by Mal Dewhirst. The Earth bleeds under his helmet Stars fall The space pushes A shudder shower Swirls Solitude Mist Cries In the distance Of your gaze.

Announcement: 3rd Oct National Poetry Day Sees Mal stepping down as Staffs Poet Laureate but we will still be continuing this column of his research. RBW offers our thanks to Mal for doing a smashing job and our many congratulations to Bloxwich poet Tom Wyre who takes over and has a hard act to follow.

This translation or response differs from other translations, some literal others poetic, seeking to get into the expressionist mind. My translation, whilst trying to hold on to the meaning and feel, uses my current preference to an alliterative style. I have also taken the view point that it is a poem of the Earth, the viewer describing the Earth as personified participant in the battle. This again is a preference of mine in my own poetry, but in this case I think is also Stramm‟s intention, he personifies frequently in his poetry, describing iron as sleeping. I see this as the wounded Earth, his solitude and distant gaze. The Earth is male, which is at variance with the normal thinking i.e. Mother Earth, also the Germanic Fatherland, which is little used these days because of its connections with the Nazi‟s. Fatherland or Vaterland in German is an expression that was in frequent usage far before the rise of the Third Reich. Further Links. August Stramm at Poem Hunter Versions of August Stramm by Alistair Noon. First World War site for Poetry and Prose.

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Issue 306 RBW Online