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The Pages Spring/Summer Spring/Summer Issue

Issue 9 Spring/Summer 2010

The Pages is brought to you by


Cover Image: Water Colour by Marie Fullerton


The Pages




EDITORIAL and Competition Update:……Marit…………………………………..p 7 REVIEW of Issue 8:……………………………….Myra King……………………………p


POETRY: ………….About Writing………......Myra King…………………………..p16

…….......Diamonds and Thorns….J.M.Artes………………………….p19 …………..Look at Me Mummy…..J.M Artes……………………………p31 ……………The Flower and Vegetable Show……T.Belshaw……..p37 …….......The Umbrella…………...Marilyn Sylvester…………………p41 …….......Man’s Best Friend………Phillip McDonald………………..p42 …………..The Keeper……………..J.M.Artes………………………………p43 ON LIFE: …………….Yoof Language…………June Gundlack…………………..p12 SHORT STORIES: ….Remember Your Manners…M.Meredith………………p34

………………Facing the Past…………Diane Rayburn………………….p39 FLASH FICTION: ….Crash and Burn…………Graham Sclater…………………p29 ARTICLES: ………….Pick of the Web…….....Trevor Belshaw………………….p14

...………..Illegally Blonde……….Paola Fornari……………………….p17 …………..The Garden at Little Oak 7…R. Johnson…………………p21 …………..Shopping Guide……….Trevor Belshaw…………………..p26 …………..On Reading……………Myra King……………………………..p32 PRESS RELEASE: ….DW’s Guide to Holidays…D.Robinson………………….p33 BOOK REVIEW:…….City Paddock……Myra

King……………………p20 ……. Into the Yell….Sarah James…………………………………..p24 ……..Sold…………..Brendan Gullifer……………………………….p28 ……..Rajput………..Eva Ulian………………………………………….p31



STOP PRESS: ….Writers

Abroad Competition………………………………...p49

DIARY PAGES:………….DWBP……Anna Reiers………………………………………….p49 3

The Pages


Marit Meredith (aka Anna Reiers) was born and brought up in Norway, but settled in South Wales,UK, in 1972. Married, with six daughters and eight grandchildren, she’s kept very busy on the family front – and whenever she can, she writes. She’s had comments, articles, poems, true-life stories and short stories published, as well as having work in anthologies published in aid of charities. She has published a collaborative book of poems and prose, Another Haircut? in aid of charity through Lulu, as well as 24 Stories for Advent and most recently ‘Sing Paul’ for a friend. She has also published Tea Time Morsels: A Collection of Short Stories and has several projects on the go, including her new gluten free blog at and a Self Publishing Website: See also:

Kristina Meredith (Stina) was born and brought up in sunny South Wales, to a Norwegian mother (see above!) and Welsh father. A brief interlude to London to study fashion, didn’t quell the cravings for the green, green grass of… well, Valley’s or Fjords - it just added to her identity crisis. Now a mother to a very lively and curious 2 1/2 year old boy, life keeps her very busy. Design has taken firmly to the backseat, leaving her time to pursue her ambition to write. The Apprentice Writer was set up by Kristina and Marit, in order to interact with likeminded souls, and to help Kristina as she pursues her writing ambition.

Myra King is an Australian writer and a member of Ballarat Writers and Clunes Writers. She has written a number of prize winning short stories. Recently she was awarded first prize in the UK-based Global Short Story Competition (2008) shortlisted (2009) and commended for the Rolf Boldrewood and Scarlet Stiletto Literary Awards. Her stories, articles and poetry have been published in print and online in the UK, Australia, USA and New Zealand. She has a short story collection published by Ginninderra Press.

Rosa Johnson was born in Hampshire. She taught agriculture and animal husbandry. She is married to a horticulturist and has two grown up children. Writing has been a hobby since she was in her teens. She wrote (writes) short plays, dialogues and character studies for children. Short stories, articles and several attempts at novels came much later. Keen sportswoman until her spine rebelled; she was forced to adopt a more sedentary way of life when surgery failed in 1986. Rosa must now be content to follow international tennis, rugby and cricket on the radio. She’s a dabbler and will have a go at anything. Sewing, bonzai-ing, decorating, art and crafts, acting, writing. Anything but singing! Her ambition is one day to find that she can excel at something.


Paola Fornari was born on an island in Lake Victoria, and was brought up in Tanzania. Having lived in almost a dozen countries over three continents, she speaks five and half languages, describing herself as an ‘expatriate sin patria’ She explains her itinerant life by b saying: ‘Some lead; others follow.’ She recently took up writing, and her articles have featured in diverse publications. Wherever she goes, she makes it her business to get involved in local activities, explore, and learn the language, making each new destination d a real home. She lived in Montevideo between 2004 and 2008, but now lives in Belgium.

At 54 after bringing up two children, caring for her parents and running a successful business buying and selling antiques and collectables, Diane Rayburn had a couple of brushes with the grim reaper. Bored to tears with sitting around, she decided to begin writing and started by jotting down all the memories from her very happy childhood. Encouraged by winning a competition for a story based on her sisters birth, she joined a writers’ circle. The next step was to try her hand at fiction although she is ashamed to admit she’s too lazy once the stories are written, to do anything with them. Now age 65, she is grateful for her still sharp, long term memory, and and thanks to Best of British magazine, is having some success with stories about her childhood.

Two years ago in 2008, at age 44, Phillip McDonald discovered a latent interest in script writing. After acknowledging his poor command of English (as he says), he was impelled to return to study primary and secondary English at Uni. He has had a love affair with language all his life but never knowing how how or where to consummate his love for her words: ‘If I am diligent and study her English ways I might refine my grammar skills and stop abusing her, so that she can use me for her want and not mine.’

June Gundlack’s love of writing started following a Start Writing Fiction course at The Open University. She has won prizes for non-fiction non fiction articles in magazines and national papers and is currently working on a novel aimed at young teens.

Marilyn Sylvester BA (Hons) is a part-time time FE tutor. Her first teaching assignment was based within her home town of Guisborough, where she was employed by the local college, in collaboration with the University of Teesside, to facilitate a creative writing course. Marilyn says: the the students were mainly established writers, which turned out to be a reciprocal experience that both they and I enjoyed very much. She then became part of an editorial team to help produce a community magazine entitled: Guisborough Life and joined the online online Writelink community for writers. She has so far had three poems published and been paid. One of those poems entitled: The Memorial Trees,, is featured in Issue 4 of The Pages on page 8, as Marilyn won this magazine’s first poetry competition. Many of her poems have also been shortlisted.


Graham Sclater studied at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Exeter, where he concentrated on creative writing for the screen and television. His key interests are teleplays, and screenplays as well as developing and writing original drama series’ for television. Those recently completed include “Street life”- Buskers, “The Other Side of the Tracks” and an action/drama series “Pebble on the Beach,” set on the beautiful island of Cyprus. See press release pages for more information and contact details.

John Artes started writing poetry six years ago shortly before moving to Cyprus. To date he has written some 90 poems. He also enjoys song-writing as he is a musician and has been in involved in the music business for over 35 years. He is at present in the middle of writing his first novel.

Trevor Belshaw has, after years of talking about it, finally taken up the writer’s challenge. He was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, in 1953, but moved to Nottinghamshire after he left school in 1970. His working life has, in his own words, seen him ‘change careers with alarming regularity’, although for the last 12 years he has been working for himself, building, repairing and upgrading computers after getting a City and Guilds award in the subject. The urge to write, however, remains. His passions include his dogs (Molly and Maisie; a constant source of inspiration for his writing) and Nottingham Forest Football Club. Trevor’s new blog is at:

The first poem Sarah James can remember writing was when she was six years old - about a flea that liked shopping! Since then, Sarah has seen her work widely published in anthologies and literary journals, as well as online. The prize-winning journalist's individual poems and short stories have achieved success in numerous competitions, including being shortlisted in the Templar Poetry Pamphlet and Collection Competition 2009. The 35 year old has experience as a poetry competition adjudicator, was poet in residence at Worcester's Oxfam Bookshop for National Poetry Day 2009 and is the Poetry Society's Worcester and Droitwich Stanza rep. She also runs writing workshops.


The Pages


Here we are: it’s July already, and the winter (it snowed here in May), as well as the spring, is behind us. The editor’s apologies to Rosa Johnson, who writes our regular garden spot, The Garden at Little Oak. Perhaps she’ll let us know about the delights of the summer harvest in the next issue, as this issue has stretched beyond spring and into the glorious summer. It’s another bumper issue, covering the pleasant, the funny, the sad, the serious, the unexpected – and some great reviews. When it comes to writing fiction – even when fused with facts (and I believe that most fiction is) – I can sit down and get on with the writing, no problem. Well, all right, not always, but as a general rule. Give me the task of writing an editorial, on the other hand, and I’m floundering. Perhaps I should treat it as a prompt for Flash Fiction – and give myself 20 minutes for the task. It might just work! But here goes: Congratulations to our regular contributor, June Gundlack, who recently had one of her letters to The Daily Mail chosen as Letter of the Week. She has quite a collection of letters published in the paper, and I think it’s about time they offered her a regular slot! Well done, June! Congratulations are due to Paola Fornari, too. She recently became a grandmother (nonna) for the first time to a beautiful baby boy, Sam. A wonderful feeling, as I can attest to! A clutch of our contributors – and that includes Kristina - got through the first three stages of the Brit Writers’ Awards (and one to the final stage – but my lips are sealed!). Big congratulations to you all! Well done! I believe there were 21.000 + entries, so that is quite a feat, girls. Congratulations to Myra King, our reviewer, as well as contributor, who launched her first short story collection ‘City Paddock ‘on Sunday 11th July in Clunes, Australia. All royalties are going to the RSL Creswick Light Horse Troop (this organisation keeps the Light Horse memory alive, saves unwanted racehorses from being put down and helps local youth) and she raised a fantastic $300 dollars for the Light Horse Troop through sales of her book. I bought my copy from:

Myra King with her husband David - MC on the day – at the Launch of ‘City Paddock’.


Congratulations, too, to Sarah James. Her first poetry collection ‘Into the Yell’ has been published by Circady Press, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. See press releases for more.

On the personal front, we had a big family wedding in June, when our daughter Hannah got married. It’s surprising how much work and stress it involved – but it was all worth it! It was a beautiful day from beginning to end – and the only fly in the ointment was the disappearing wedding cake. It was sliced up and put on the tables at the same time as the dessert was served, so only a handful of slices were eaten. The rest went back to the kitchen, and we expected it to be brought back out with the buffet in the evening, but no – the cake had been squirreled away by someone – and no-one knows who or where. Here’s a photo of the happy couple with the mysterious disappearing cake – proof that it did exist.

Hannah and Ian.

But that’s all, folks. Like my wedding speech, I’ll keep it short. Happy reading!

Marit Competition Update: The first annual competition has drawn to a close, and as there were very few entries, we are discussing the way forward. We are holding fire with the judging until we have contacted the judge and the individual entrants, before decisions are made. In effect, the competition remains open until December 31st, when a new annual competition will be announced.

Marit and Kristina 8

The Pages


Issue 8 Review by Myra King The Pages, Issue 8, may be have been the Winter Issue but it certainly wasn’t dark and gloomy in any way, in fact lots of the stories, poems and articles had a decidedly wicked or satirical sense of humour (even the wonderful editorial - glad it all turned out okay for Marit, though). Great news snippets too. I especially loved the layout, a very good balance of contributors’ work interlaced with press releases and information about exciting competitions and opportunities. A magical luminous photo cover too – breathtaking! Kristina and Marit Meredith have done an outstanding job once again, and anyone who is lucky enough to be published in this eco-friendly mag can be justifiably proud. Trevor Belshaw steps into the female POV, without missing a beat, in From Tracey’s Hotmail – Tracey’s Blog. ‘Tracey’s’ slightly naïve take on what the handyman means by “payment in kind” had me chuckling from the outset. Great descriptive names set the characters and I could ‘see’ as well as hear them with Trevor’s spot on dialogue. Fav line: “It will take more than you’ve got to sort that slag out”. “I asked how she knew how much he’d got.” Trevor’s short story, A Dastardly Complaint, begs the question, could anything get any worse? Yes! It seems so. Wonderfully witty, I read with guarded sympathy. Swapping one malady for another, Trevor finds that the cure can indeed be worse than the complaint. Fav Line: “The capsules didn’t stop the hiccups but at least they stopped me feeling paranoid about them.” Trevor’s tongue in cheek, poem, Swine Flu, upholds this premise about the cure being worse. David Robinson’s travel article, Mt Teide – An Experience to Savour, uses evocative images in words and pictures, to entice the reader on this virtual-mind visit of the Teide National Park. I found this article to be interesting and very informative. Amazing photos too, and ending off with apt warnings about UV light and temperature. Fav Line: “There was something eerie about taking pictures while looking down on the clouds.” Marit Meredith’s Clydach – and Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream raises interesting facts and fully intrigued me. This very well written article had me wondering, did Shakespeare get his inspiration for Midsummer’s Night Dream, from Cwm Pwca? And then, as I read on, I realise that it indeed seems to be the case and Pwll Cwn, also know as the Dog’s Pool, adjoining the river Clydach definitely had some influence on the great bard. Fav Line: “So is the Pwca of Clydach and the ‘shrewd knavish sprite that frights the maidens of the villagry… at every turn be one and the same?”


The perceptively written The Perils and Pitfalls of Market Research is a light hearted look at the serious side of writing. Jean Knill cleverly points out the (sometimes hidden) time it takes to research the market. Fav line: “Then if I’m not very careful the next three days may be spent avidly digesting their contents from cover to cover.” Jean’s delightful short story, The Changeling is a true ‘Fairy’ tale. Magical writing! Fav line: “As she ran she felt a sprouting in her back, then a fluttering and her steps turned into jumps that lifted her higher and higher.” Kristina Meredith’s poem, Ghost words, whispered to me of madness or at the least, confusion. The last line clearly shows the narrator’s dichotomy. “Their words not mine”. My Fav line from this insightful poem:” Barely audible words move in gentle waves.” A powerful piece. Very strong characters are a mark of Kristina’s writing (and good literary fiction) and her short story, Ms Average, lives up to this. Believable male POV, a good storyline and a lovely satisfying ending enhance the deeper meaning of this very well written, and at times, humorous story. Fav Line: “Perhaps she meant as opposed to being unconscious.” Debbie Guzzi’s poem, Free, sends a message and asks the question: How free are we really? I really enjoyed the rhythm and the premise of this poem. Well done. Fav Line: “Please, please tell me how, to be proud of the world we live in right now”. J M Artes poem, The Crossing resonated clarity with perfect cadence ie: Fav Line: “Gone the status gone the class, gone the labels and the past.” And JM Artes, We Grow and Divide, I thought was a very unique, moving (especially the last lines) and particularly insightful poem. Fav Line: “I’m hearing soft words of love; it feels good. And I’m safe here growing into me.” Great work. Another poem I absolutely enjoyed was Marilyn Sylvester’s I Believe. A lovely bonus was the Marilyn’s wonderful photographs (I especially loved the buds pushing through the snow) accompanying her enchanting work. Many great lines in this but my Fav Line was: “When released on a tickle-tease breeze.” I shut my eyes and could see it! Poetry at its best. Di Rayburn’s captivatingly titled and very well written, work, Like The Titanic Without the Screams, had me giggling and laughing out loud. A very knowing look into the social circumstance we have all experienced at one time ie: being in a room full of strangers with whom you have to interact. It’s so true, I loved it! Fav Line: Getting a hanky out may be worthwhile and use up loads of time, but you must remember never to blow your nose, because that would really get their attention and you’re sure to leave a lump of something nasty where everyone but you can see it. Rosa Johnson’s poignantly written and insightful poem, Peacemakers, is a serious look into a serious subject, War, and its ongoing and far reaching consequences. This wonderful poem really made me think. Fav Line: “For their bravery and commitment we are forever indebted.” 10

In Rosa’s Garden at Little Oak 6, the vegetables are finishing off but the shrubs and trees are beginning to show the promise of spring in their growth. Also in no small measure due to good soil management too. Rosa’s wonderful photos once again compliment her article to great effect. Avian visitors and a squirrel caught in mid- step! Re- the Barn Owl, comes my Fav line: “It’s funny how he shows up during the day, at this time of the year. Flying three to six feet above the ground he drifts round the meadow”. Great imagery. Looking forward to the next instalment. June Gundlack’s brilliant piece, Art work on the Tube, put me in the scene immediately with its great ‘sense of place.’ June’s wry and subtle humour had me reading lines twice just to double that mind buzz you get from good writing. Fav Line: “Her eyelashes soon resembled the legs of a large spider, with arthritic knobbles where the mascara had blobbed.” A good writer observes and this is observation at its best! Anna Reiers’s Would Be Protagonist, is Testing The Waters, philosophising in his usual indomitable way. It’s his expose’ of how he has come and is coming to be. I’m not sure if he is giving his creator the kudos she deserves - as I have said before this is an amazing concept. Or should that be conception? WBP is way beyond the embryonic side now though and continues to be an intriguing if not a slightly prickly (which makes him even all the more interesting) well developed/developing character! Absolutely wonderful writing. More please! Fav Line: “That’s not the creator – Author of all life, just the author of mine: an unknown writer hiding behind any number of aliases.” Myra King


The Pages

On Life…

Yoof Language I was travelling home on a later train than usual, accompanied by happy people and a noisy barking dog, who like me had been celebrating for one reason or another. Actually, I don’t know for sure that the dog had been celebrating, but he was making as much noise as the other passengers. When I stood up at my station to get off the train a couple of men gave an exaggerated bow. I smiled and walked to the bus stop where four young girls were waiting. Two of them boarded the bus with me. They seemed to be discussing an exciting event. Or at least I think that’s what they were doing as their language was unfamiliar to me. One girl who I was later to find out was Leanne, said, “Yeah, an’ I goes to him like,” giggle, “Like you really want me to go.” “You never; then how did he go, like when you said that?” Another girl said. “Yeah like I did, and then he goes like, I really like you, and I goes,” giggle, “Like I really like you, like honest Candice, can you imagine like what it was like? Fancy him going like that. Well I am seeing him on Friday, like.” “Wow, that’s so cool, Leanne.” After many “likes” and “goes”, I was lost. I stood up at my stop and a man called out to me. “Careful of the apples and pears lady.” I‘d better watch my step, it seems someone may have lost some fruit. I reached the bottom of the stairs without treading on any rogue fruit before being distracted by a notice on the bus stop shelter. I turned around and noticed a young woman behind me. “Hey lady; have you seen enough? – get outa my face”. I walked away thinking, “Get outa my face”, I never touched her face! The next day I went to the card shop to buy a birthday card for a teenager, the son of a friend. A young girl next to me glanced at my choice and said, “Yeah, like that’s really bad.” I tried to put it back in the rack. The girl laughed and touched my arm. “No, when we say something is really bad – it means it is good.” “Oh,” I said. “So this is suitable then?” The girl nodded. I took the card to the till and paid for it. I must remember to wear an ‘L’ plate the next time I go shopping for a teen. It was lunch time; I was hungry and decided to try the new burger bar in the town centre. “Can I take your order mom?” “A coffee please and one of those,” I said, pointing to a picture behind him. “OK, so is that cappuccino, latte, mocha, espresso, black and would that regular or grande, and will it be to have in or to go.” “No, just coffee please,” I said. He laughed. “So, you just want a black coffee where you add the milk?” “Yes please.” “The burger, you want it with relish and fries to go?” That word “Go” again. He shrugged his shoulders. I presumed this to be a code to the rapidly forming queue behind me; probably a visual version of, ‘This old bird does not speak the lingo,’ which is of course true. “That’ll be £4.20.” I paid him. 12

“Go find a stool mom and I’ll bring it over.” I found the only available stool, which seemed to be very low down. I wondered if I would manage to get up again but decided to worry about that later. The young man appeared at my table carrying a paper cup containing black coffee, three sealed pots of milk, something wrapped up in tissue, a little bag of fries and a tissue wipe. I undid the tissue parcel which revealed a hot bun containing my burger and a white sauce. I asked a young girl sitting at the next table what the white stuff was and she said it was… “White sauce”. “Oh, right, thank you,” I said. I could actually see that it was white and already presumed it to be an edible sauce. As I took a bite, red stuff (which I presumed to be relish) squelched out and splattered onto my white jumper. Then the white sauce squelched out in equal portions to fill the gaps between my fingers. I tried to wipe my face and hands with the tiny tissue that had been supplied. A man sitting close by took pity on me and brought more tissues to my table. The fries - I can’t really get into trouble with them I thought. And true, I did . manage to eat a few of those without making a scene. The coffee became a challenge, try as I might, I could not get into the milk pots. I looked on the instructions Bend and tear here which was printed so small I had to hold the pot at arms length to read it. Eventually I gave up trying the bend and tear route and used the wooden stirrer stick supplied to stab the lid of the pot. The milk went everywhere - well as far as a one inch pot filled with milk can spread, and let me tell you, this is quite a long way. I decided to drink the coffee black. I picked up the paper cup to take a sip but had not anticipated the heat. I accidentally squeezed the cup in my haste to put the hot cup of liquid back onto the table managing to spill some. My appetite was rapidly fading and I decided to go home. Mmm, get up? That was a problem I’d briefly forgotten about. If I leaned on the table, it would topple over. A member of staff was trying to open the padlock to the cleaning cupboard and had left her trolley near to me. I thought if I hold the trolley, I can stand up but had overlooked the fact it was on wheels and I almost fell to the floor. I pushed myself against the wall so that I could steady myself to get up. I walked quickly towards the exit door and out into the street towards the bus stop. Soon more people arrived at the bus stop and I was again entertained with the language I had heard yesterday. “Ere, an I goes to ‘im, like, that’s really cool, and he goes yeah that’s what I thought.” “Yeah, but did he like, go really like, to the main man?” “You better believe it, he did and it was real wicked, man.” I found myself looking at them from one to another as they spoke, wondering if this is how a tennis umpire sees the world. They stopped talking turned towards me. I shrugged my shoulders. “Sorry, non-comprendo”, I said. They looked at me and then one said to the other, “Not English must be a foreigner like.” … Or should I say – They looked at me like, and then one goes to the other… See I’m learning now, innit.

© June Gundlack


The Pages

Pick of the Web

From Trevor Belshaw’s blog:

The Haiti Earth Quake 6 months on: and 100 Stories for Haiti On January 12th, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, a quake that created 1.5 million refugees in the blink of an eye. The figures are still guesstimates, but up to 300,000 people died and another 300,000 were wounded. Bodies are still being found in the 20 million tons of rubble that used to be a city. Six months on and little has changed, while we've been watching the world cup and electing governments, the people of Haiti have been largely ignored. Back in January the TV showed little else but pictures of the devastation, now we hear nothing, it's history, it's time to move on to the next disaster. I hope anyone reading this post doesn't think this way. The people of Haiti are still in desperate need of assistance and you can do your bit to help by offering a donation to the Red Cross or one of the other relief organisations. There is also another way to help and this way you get something to go with the feeling of well being. Last January, a writer called Greg McQueen, saw those dreadful pictures on the TV and decided that there must be more he could do than chuck a fiver in a bucket. He was a writer, he knew lots of writers, there were plenty of them in the Internet groups he belonged to. What if 1oo of those writers donated a story? They could put out an eBook and sell it, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross appeal. Greg posted his crazy idea on Twitter and sat back waiting for the negative responses, but what came back both surprised and delighted him. Not only did he receive encouragement by way of email, but instead of 100 stories, 500 dropped into his inbox. Writers from all over the planet got in touch to say that they would like to do their bit to help the people of Haiti. It wasn't only unpublished writers who got involved, published novelists offered stories of their own, editors from online magazines offered their services to edit the half million words that had been sent. stepped in to host the eBook for free on their website and Bridge House Publishing offered to publish the book as a paperback. The result was possibly some sort of record. The project had gone from the original idea, to a published book that was available to buy from Amazon or a High Street bookshop, within six weeks. The process can take anything up to two years normally. Greg and the authors began to advertise the book. People were interviewed by their local newspapers and radio stations, others held book signings. An offer was even made to translate the book into Portuguese for the Brazilian market. Last, but certainly not least, some of the stories were made into an audio book. 14

The book has raised thousands of pounds for the Red Cross appeal so far and there is plenty of scope for it to raise thousands more yet. The book isn't ABOUT Haiti, it's FOR Haiti, inside you will find stories of hope and stories of love, some are amusing, some are more serious, there is also an excellent story for children. So, if you feel you'd like to do something for the people of Haiti and get yourself a damn good read in the process, pop along to any of these sites and you'll be able to order the book, or download the eBook. Keep it by your bedside and read a different story every night, then you can sleep soundly knowing you have done your bit for the people of a devastated country. Audio Book available from: leId/180/Charitable-Anthology-to-Benefit-Haiti.aspx BVCookie=Yes

Thank you.


The Pages

Poetry About Writing More is less and less is more, show, not tell, is quite the law. Alliteration illuminates illustration. Dialogue, story and punctuation. Adverbs use quite sparingly, or your writing won’t flow happily. Nouns and verbs alone should stand. No briny sea nor blue-sky span. Growing up when I was young is double speak, incorrectly wrong. First and third and second too, is POV or point of view. Constant it should always be, you and I, or he and she. And, unless you are the God of word, omniscience should not be heard. Relevance must be kept in mind. The voice and theme, you have to find. And after all, when all is pending, don’t leave as this without an ending.

© Myra King


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Illegally Blonde ‘So why do you skip?’ I’m speaking to a 24-year-old Nottingham University law graduate, now studying for a Master’s in International Law, and hoping to go on to do a Ph.D. She’s athletic: she’s a passionate swimmer, runner and cyclist, and last year she completed the London Triathlon. Her latest hobby is hula-hooping. But my question is not about skipping as in exercising with a jumprope. It’s about helping yourself to products thrown out by supermarkets. ‘I skip because supermarkets throw out perfectly good food simply because it’s past its “display by…” date. Lots of us in this area do it. It’s a way of expressing our outrage at the waste. And it’s fun.’ ‘Do you take everything you find, or just what you know you’ll eat?’ ‘Oh, everything – there’s always someone in the neighbourhood who’ll want it. And sometimes we use it to prepare food to deliver to charities.’ ‘Do the charities know it’s skipped?’ ‘I don’t think so, but it’s really good…’ It’s a cold, grey Friday evening, and we’re cycling from my interviewee’s home in Forest Field to the local Tesco. Someone stole the wheel from her bike when it was parked outside the university library. So she’s riding her housemate’s, which has a saddle stuck way too high, and I’m riding a folding bike borrowed from a neighbour, Graham. It’s stuck in second gear. We’re carrying empty rucksacks on our backs. Why am I so interested in experiencing the practice of skipping first hand? Well, it’s because the girl I’m with happens to be my daughter. As I gingerly push open the gate leading to the car park behind Tesco, I ask ‘Is this legal?’ ‘Absolutely not,’ she replies, ‘but nobody cares.’ However, even she seems slightly intimidated by a car which follows us into the car park. I take out my camera and we start posing as for an urban chic photo shoot beside the Tesco bins. When the people from the car have gone into the shop, she opens the bin. ‘Not much in here, but there is something…’ I peer in. The bin is quite clean, and there’s no trace of a smell. My daughter leaps into the bin.


‘Look, nice flowers!’ She presents me with a bunch of bright yellow blooms, which I fix onto the rack at the back of my back. Then she clambers out with a large transparent plastic bag, tied at the top with a knot. We open it, and I start carefully examining the spoils, checking each label. I’m particularly impressed with four packets of beautiful leeks. ‘Hey, these haven’t even expired! They’re dated today!’ ‘Just shove everything into the rucksacks and we’ll sort it all out at home,’ she tells me. Fifteen minutes later our booty is laid out on her kitchen table. Apart from the leeks, there’s one slightly bruised red pepper, five packets of Panini rolls, four Nestlé Aero yoghourts, three Tesco Cherry and Almond Slices, two Fruity Five snack bars, two Tesco Sultana and Cherry Cakes, and a tub of Cadbury’s Caramel Cake Bites. ‘No wonder they threw it out,’ I say. ‘Who would eat all this rubbish? Apart from the leeks and pepper…’ Just then a housemate wanders in and dives for a couple of Caramel Cake Bites.’ ‘Not a bad haul,’ she says. ‘A lot of gack, though,’ my daughter answers. ‘Gack?’ I ask. ‘Junk food. Pastries, cakes, biscuits, that sort of stuff. No croissants, though. Last week we brought in eighty croissants. They’re in the freezer.’ ‘Can I have the leeks and pepper for my project dinner?’ the flatmate asks. ‘Sure! And we’ll take the gack to Graham to thank him for lending us his bike.’ Hang on a sec, why on earth did we go skipping, if this is all we’re left with, I wonder, arranging the rather sad-looking wind-battered flowers into a beer glass. Oh yes, of course, I remember. Because it’s fun. To see skippers in action, and to know more about skipping, see And to know more about supermarket waste, see

© Paola Fornari 18

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Poetry Diamonds and Thorns

We used to sing my Rose and I. We’d say our love would never die, for love was all we had to give and want for nothing more. With no materialistic prise that could compare or compromise, the angels blushed when we made love and you’d whisper “Mi amour”. But so naive too blind to see, he’d take my Rose away from me, Armani suit and Gucci watch, he wooed you with the bling. You thought he’d opened Heaven’s door, so where’s your smile, you sing no more, and now you see you’re just another accessory to him. In your eyes a look of shame. The sparkle’s gone I feel your pain, but I’ll not judge the girl I love, the Rose I still adore. We used to sing my Rose and I. We’d say our love would never die, for love was all we had to give, and want for nothing more. © J.M. Artes 19

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City Paddock and other Stories by Myra King: ISBN 978 1 74027 629 0 Ginninderra Press (Review by Marit Meredith) ‘City Paddock’ is Myra King’s first Short Story Collection, and the successful recent launch in her hometown of Clunes made a nice profit of $300 for her chosen charity, the Cheswick Light Horses. The front cover of her collection shows the Light Horse Men riding out, an apt illustration for the title, which refers to the story of a retired Light Horse Man and his horse, a story that shows a deep insight and emotive connection both to man and horse. The collection represents an eclectic collection of Myra’s stories, and deals with humanity in all its hues and guises, from a mother and daughter situation where dementia has taken hold and secrets emerge in ‘The Cracked Glass Door’- to a mother’s despair at an unwanted pregnancy in ‘Broken Connections’. We leap forward, into the future in ‘Mind Games’, and Myra closes with a leap back in history, giving us a glimpse of harsher times of poverty, sea, ships and wreckers and ‘maither’s’ terrible secret. Myra is a true wordsmith and the stories she writes takes you into the world of her characters, allowing you to share in the magic of the tales, and always wanting to read more. A highly recommended read! I’m re-reading it at the moment, savouring the way the stories weave themselves into the unexpected. ‘Cracked Glass Door’ was shortlisted in the E.J Brady (major section) 2007 ‘Dust to Water’, First Prize, Open Section: published by Deakin University Press 2008 ‘My Brother Brannigan’, Commended in the Scarlet Stiletto Awards 2008 ‘Where the Kookaburras Laugh’, First Prize, UK Global Short Story ‘Mind Games’, Published in Eclecticism 2008 ‘Men-o-Stop’, Finalist in Slippery When Wet Competition 2008 ‘Where the Truth Lies’, Finalist in JBWB short story comp (UK) 2008 ‘The District Nurse Will Be Here Soon’, published in Islet 2010 From the back cover: ‘An eclectic collection of short stories tackling subjects as varied as psychological mind games, the effects of war on those left behind, the vagaries of heterosexual and lesbian love, self-abortion, and murder, told through characters as diverse as a retired Light Horseman, a lighthouse keeper’s wife, and an old Aboriginal man, and set in periods from the nineteenth century to the late 2020s.’

City Paddock is published by Ginninderra Press PO Box 3461 Port Adelaide SA 5015 20

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Garden at Little Oak 7

May 2010 The Spring has sprung, The grass has ris, I wonder where the birdies is?

I can tell you where many of our local birds is/are. They’re in our garden. It is simply seething with birds and most of them are busy procreating. Our hedges, on three sides of the garden, are like birds’ housing estates, tenements, streets and precincts, and shopping for the family is a heavy commitment for parents at the moment. Mums and Dads are fetching and carrying from dawn to dusk. We don’t think the spotted woodpeckers are nesting in the garden but they are certainly feeding here. We haven’t seen pheasants this year. I think they may have been spending too much time among the next door chicken farmer’s poultry. He has a rifle for shooting foxes. Say no more.

The garden is beginning to get back to normal after a cold and, for us, extremely wet winter. Many of our shrubs were laid low. We thought we’d lost the ginkgo biloba, but it has recovered over the last few days and buds have been swelling and bursting; it is going to be fine, perhaps better than usual. The cold snap has had this effect on a number of plants. Snow drops particularly were better than usual and lasted longer. The daffodils were good but the tulips have been magnificent. Not a flower that I usually rave about but this year they are better and brighter, and for longer in this garden.

My last years small bowl of tulips on Mothering Sunday now sport twice as many flowers and they keep coming.


The choicia and kerria were flattened by the heavy snow fall (only one in this area) but they are now up and doing again. The kerria is in full bloom, bright orange blooms above the choicia which is in bud. Together, when it is out in a wide sweep on the edge of the main lawn, they will look fantastic. Kerria has given us a surprisingly beautiful effect along the edge of the vegetable patch where it is pushing its blooms through a dark green holly bush in the hedge. Nature’s colours are superb when they are left to themselves. The vibernum birkwoodii is late but dazzlingly beautiful and the perfume is out of this world, which is where I want to be when the pollen gets at my eyes and nose.

The vegetable patch is already beginning to look productive. The spinach will not be as plentiful as last year but we have already had three good ‘cookings’. We also had a small amount of curly kale. Leaves of the spinach have become leathery on some plants and some are looking distinctly ‘virussed’. The leeks came to virtually nothing. They rotted down through the centre after freezing.

We have had more frosts this year than we have had for at least ten years. This morning there was a ground frost. 24th April. Leaves of ferns unrolling glistened and looked beautiful. During January and a little of December and February, the intense rain flooded our drainage system. We live in a lovely spot sufficiently rural not to be on mains drainage. With so much rain, the system has been under pressure. Thirty years ago we had a new system of additional pits put in to work alongside the septic tank which was filling with rain water. From this system the surface water was pumped out across the garden through a perforated plastic pipe to a soakaway. Just before Christmas we realised the pipe had been completely blocked at one end with roots from the trees. We are now waiting for the drains to be re-laid. David is tired of controlling the pumps and observing levels in the septic tank. Not a pleasant task. We have repeated our experimental production of young plants in cells in the green house this year. It has helped to overcome the wet conditions as well as the stony soil. Onions and cauliflowers are already out in the garden as are broad beans — all looking good. Beetroot are not out yet out but will be there before this column is published. There is a lot of pruning still to be done, though much has already been carried out. Lawns have been mown once or twice. A small slice of the back lawn has been stolen for additional vegetables. A rich source of food for the blackbird parents to take back to the nests for their young. We have acquired one or two more interesting fruit bushes. A goji berry and two loniceras which though I have previously known them as honeysuckles, we are told on the labels, produce delicious edible fruit.


Two of the skimmias have fragrant flowers and last year’s scarlet berries on the bushes with them. Double value (see photo below). I have taken photographs of this but am having problems downloading photographs from the camera. It is old and unlikely to recover if it is suffering. One of the escalonias has been sacrificed. It had been in its spot by the sitting room’s northern window for twenty years or more and was still thriving but it was blotting out light with its large gnarled and spreading shape so it had to go. It has left behind progeny about two feet tall which may be allowed to take its place.

Several years ago I rescued a primrose plant and a cowslip. Both were suffering from the persistent attention of wheels which took to the verges mutilating everything in their paths. The primroses have been magnificent this year. Lots of extra plants have been made by splitting the parent. The cowslip has done well too, has produced seedlings but its flowers this year are much bigger than they should be or would be in the wild. Our bank is too fertile. Nature knows best when left to herself.

Self seeded pansies gathered from everywhere, and put as tiny plants into our favourite receptacle, an old style, cast iron lavatory cistern.

© Rosa Johnson


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Press Release Into the Yell by Sarah James, Circaidy Gregory Press, 96 pages: £7.99 ISBN-10: 1906451249 ISBN-13: 978-1906451240 Available from: Circaidy Gregory Press at: It is also on sale in local Waterstones and Three Counties Bookshop and Ledbury Books and Maps, both in Ledbury High Street.

Sarah James is a UK based, award-winning poet, short story writer and journalist. She was shortlisted in Templar Poetry Pamphlet and Collection Competition 2009 and had two poems in the shortlist for The Plough Prize 2009 (open category). Her first full-length collection, Into the Yell, was published by Circaidy Gregory Press in July 2010. Sarah’s website is at ‘In this, her first poetry collection, Sarah James penguin-flaps past the chopstick legs of flamingos to give the reader a heady dose of closely observed reality. Into the Yell draws the reader along trails of squashed stars tugged down to earth by tangles of seaweed girls. A grandmother grins with too many teeth, a boy collects clouds and a mariner makes a costly mistake. We travel with Sarah between Rouen and Haiti via Buxton, hospital waiting rooms and the Randolph Hotel, all watched over by Blake’s tiger, stripes alight. Prepare to be amused, warmed, horrified, comforted, inspired – but watch out for beauty’s sting in the tail.’

Endorsements: "Sarah James’s first collection shows an imagination that can surprise and delight, as well as skill and confidence in her craft. I am already looking forward to seeing what she does next. " (Angela France - poet and features editor of Iota)

"Sarah James's poems are earthy, sensuous, often sexy, peopled by resonant characters, such as Shakespeare's Juliet and a stiletto-heel-wearing Inuit. Always clear-eyed and compassionate, she explores the visceral realities of the female body; the pain of infertility and post-natal depression with language that pins down her subject with surgical precision." (Catherine Smith - award-winning poet and Poetry Book Society/Guardian 'Next Generation' poet - June 2004)


"Sarah James' poems are full of colour, a life-affirming response to both the domestic and the fantastic. Nevertheless, they are aware of darker shades, the grimmer side of life, relationships and the imagination. This is a varied, thought-provoking and enjoyable first collection." (Jacqui Rowe - Poetry Society trustee, co-director of Flarestack Poets )

"Sarah James deciphers the world with a wise young eye; attentive to complexity, she makes her own sense of things - and expresses it in language that is often dramatic, and always engaging." (Meredith Andrea - co-director of Flarestack Poets)

EVENTS LISTINGS: Prize-winning Droitwich poet Sarah James will be staging a Window on the Arts shop window display in Salters shopping centre, Droiwtich, from Monday, July 19 to Monday, August 2. The display will features poems and artwork from Sarah’s recently launched poetry collection Into the Yell, Circaidy Gregory Press ( ISBN10: 1906451249 ISBN-13: 978-1906451240). It will also include some of her poem canvases and photos. Sarah will also be reading from Into the Yell at a range of events in Worcester and Birmingham, including: Wednesday, August 18 – Sarah James will be joining fellow poet Jenny Hope in a Worcester Festival charity reading from their collections Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press and Petrolhead (Oversteps Books The charity reading and open mic in aid of the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign will be held at the Farrier’s Arms in Fish Street, Worcester, from 7.30pm. They will be donating £1 from the sale of each book sold on the night to the campaign. Friday, August 20 – Sarah will be reading at The Phonic Room at Boston Tea Party in Broad Street, Worcester Broad on Friday, August 20, as part of a Worcester Festival event starting at 7pm. Tuesday, September 28 – Sarah will be one of three guest poets in an up-and-coming women poets’ reading at Poetry Bites at the Kitchen Garden Café in Birmingham (17 York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7SA). As well as reading, she will also be signing copies of her new collection. The evening starts at 7.30pm. (Food from 6.30pm.) Poetry Bites also includes floor spots. Please arrive early to book a spot. It costs £5 (£4 concessions). To reserve a place email or pay at the door. Sarah James, poet and short story writer: website at . Into the Yell poetry collection out from Circaidy Gregory Press, July 2010.


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‘Shopping Guide’

Buying Lingerie for Women. A Guide for Men. Ok, it’s a birthday or anniversary coming up, and you want to get her something nice. You've decided that you would love to see her in something sexy, slinky, or see through. She's lost weight and you want to let her know you've noticed, or maybe, (more likely,) you're just out of ideas and you have followed the siren's call that has lured men to their doom for generations and decided to buy her lingerie. This is where the female readers of this article clap their hand to their brow, shake their heads in disbelief and yell, ‘don’t do it,' at the screen. Well ladies, settle back, breathe easy and panic no more, because I'm about to give the guys a little advice on the do’s, (and more importantly,) don’ts, of lingerie purchasing. Firstly, get some idea of what you want. In the old days, men had to sneak furtive glances at the women's section in the Freeman's catalogue or head for the ads near the back of the Sunday papers to get an inkling of what was available. The Internet has changed all that, and firing up Google could have you waist deep in knickers within five seconds. Secondly, and this is a biggie, take a sneaky peek in her knickers drawer. Peer into the depths of her wardrobe. Delve into the places where men never go and have a look at what she likes. More importantly, look at the label and log whatever information you discover, deep into your memory banks. Or better still take a notepad with you on your clandestine mission, and write it down. On arriving in the sacred halls of femininity, or as it's better known in female circles, the lingerie department. Do not sneak around the place like a furtive sex pest. No matter how hard your heart is pumping, no matter how much you know you're going to turn into a gibbering idiot the moment the beautiful assistant turns her long lashed eyes towards you, try to keep calm. Step boldly between the racks of basques and corsets. Look around confidently as if you had lingerie for breakfast every day. Touch the odd chemise as if to test the quality of the garment. Pick up a suspender belt and examine the label and elasticity. Resist the temptation to aim it at the fat woman by the door and twang it like you were firing the catapult you had when you were ten. Don't hang around the knickers aisle too long, it doesn't feel right in there and you might end up looking like a pervert if you dally. Three or four minutes of browsing should be enough to convince everyone that you are an experienced ‘lingerist;’ any longer and too much interest shown in the French knickers section, might convince everyone that you are a cross dresser. Bide your time and amble up to the assistant when she's free. Don't stand nervously behind her as she's helping a customer, you'll only make her jump out of her skin when you cough to get her attention. You don't want to get on her bad side this early in the encounter.


Never hold up a cupped hand, (or worse two,) and say, 'about this big,' when she asks you what size you require. She's seen it a million times before and it will only convince her that you are either an imbecile, or worse still, a man out on his own in a lingerie store for the first time. Don’t expect sympathy, she's heard all the sob stories before. She’s been told a million times how you are stuck for ideas for your partner’s birthday and lingerie was the last resort. Instead, exude confidence, tell her you'd like a 36dd bra and knickers set, ask about the quality of the silk baby doll. Don't giggle as you say the word 'knickers' either, or she'll be off dealing with the transvestite further up the counter before you can say g string. At least he knows what he wants. Get gift wrapping. Yes I know it's extortionate, but think about it. Do you want her to be excited when presented with the gift? If it's professionally wrapped she will take her time opening it. She'll take care with the bow and ease the wrapping open. The anticipation will rise, believe me, you could put a dead rat in a shoe box and as long as it was wrapped nicely, you’ll get five Brownie points just for making the effort. Conversely, give her something resembling the paper the chips came wrapped in and it wouldn't matter if it had an exact copy of Princess Diana's wedding ring inside, you will only get a cold stare and no chance of seeing her in the sexy red basque you just bought. You're more likely to get the cold shoulder and the flannelette nightie her evil granny gave her as a wedding gift. Once the purchases are paid for, wrapped and deposited in a carrier that proudly boasts, 'I GET MINE AT KNICKERS R US,' try to ignore the florescent pink and purple lettering and ask calmly if they have a plain bag you could hide it in. Explain that you would hate your partner to guess what you've bought her when you get home. Don't mention the cat calls and whistles you know you're going to get if you get on the tram carrying the damn thing. Consider the best time for your foray into the world of women, you don't want to get home when she's around. If you’re caught sneaking in the back door like a burglar with a swag bag, you'll be suspected of more than just taking the afternoon off without permission. Plan the mission with military precision, leave nothing to chance. Ideally, pick a time when she's at the hairdresser, or better still, visiting her mother. She'll be gone for hours and you'll have plenty of time to unwind and sip a nerve settling beer or two. Hide the stash in your sports bag, the place you keep your jock strap and cricket box. It will be as safe as houses there, and you can kick off your shoes and relax, safe in the knowledge that she is safely ensconced in her mother's kitchen, listening for the millionth time about how she picked the wrong guy and how that nice Teddy Mathews would have been a far better choice. He didn't fart at the dinner table the first time you bought him home, did he? © Trevor Belshaw


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Press Release

SOLD by Brendan Gullifer – Release April 2009 (RRP: $24.95) Money. Lust. Real estate. SOLD takes a fly-on-the-wall look at Melbourne's property industry. Set in the leafy, prosperous inner suburbs, it follows the fortunes and misfortunes of three agents as they jostle, thrive and try to survive. It reveals the routines, the agents' listing tricks and the subtle intimidation used to motivate staff and prospective vendors at Prender and Prender Real Estate. Failed AFL footballer, Will Pittman, now a junior agent, is looking for redemption. Former Auckland car dealer Harry 'The Fox' Osbourne just wants to pay the kids' school fees. And Dally Love, the smiling assassin, wants it all: money, the girl, and the warm glow that comes from being seen as a good bloke. Then there’s Gerard. Mentally disabled, homeless, possibly dangerous. He’s like a scud missile with a busted radar. And he’s squatting in an old convent that’s about to be turned into luxury apartments... Sleepers Publishing PO Box 1204, Collingwood VIC 3066 Louise Swinn: About the author: Brendan Gullifer works as a print and radio journalist, and editor. He has written for The Age, newMatilda and the The Sun-Herald, has reported for Radio National’s ‘The Book Show’. Brendan has studied at Columbia University in New York and holds a Masters in creative writing from RMIT. His book of history, The Pocketbook of Aussie Patriotism (2007), was published by Black Inc. Brendan has worked in real estate. "FOUR STARS. Gullifer's novel exposes a lot of what we suspected might be the level of integrity of the real estate world. This novel reminded me of Richard Beasley's Hell Has Harbour Views. It's a fun ride."– Bookseller and Publisher “I thought it was tremendous fun. And let me tell you, you’ve met these people. They probably sold you your house.” Jennifer Byrne, First Tuesday Book Club, ABC TV “Cringingly scary stuff.” Sunday Canberra Times “Devastatingly familiar.” The Big Issue Brendan Gullifer’s book, ‘SOLD’, has done for the real estate institution what ‘Yes Minister’ did for the political arena. Everything we always suspected about this industry, but never quite believed, is revealed in this witty exposé. It’s so bad that in the end, Will Pittman, the unsuccessful AFL star turned real estate agent, finds out that failing in this business is actually success in moralistic clothing. Fast paced and hard hitting, ‘SOLD’ had me just that, from the first to the last page. Myra King 28

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Flash Fiction

Crash and Burn When I got up yesterday I felt great with absolutely no idea what the day had in store for me. If you had told me that I was going to be involved in a horrific car crash, I would have said that you were crazy. I’d never had an accident. Well, that’s not totally true. Is scraping the rear bumper considered to be an accident? It depends who is driving. If it’s a woman, then there is no doubt it would serious, but certainly not an accident. I wouldn’t consider it serious if it was ever my fault. Thirty years without an accident. Not a bad record is it? When the published figures state, that on average, a driver will have an accident every 12,000 miles. Well as I said, yesterday, I felt good and there was no indication that anything unusual would happen to me. The sun was shining, for once the music on the radio was good and I felt fine. But, by the time I reached the M5 things suddenly changed. The sun disappeared behind the blackest cloud and, before I knew it, the rain on the motorway was running like a river. Cars appeared from nowhere and skidded everywhere. The lane markings meant nothing and as a lorry and its trailer slewed across the three lanes I knew that it was time to worry. Of course it was too late, it always is. Before I knew it, I was trapped, under the rear axle between the huge smoking tyres of the trailer and fighting for breath amongst a tangled mess of wrecked automobiles that would never be driven again. The rain poured through the huge tear in the flattened car roof, ripped open like a tin, and the biting easterly wind forced the freezing spray and smoke into my face. There was an eerie silence for what seemed like hours of darkness until I heard the combination of moans and screams of helplessness from the drivers of some of the other cars, although the sudden and frequent moments of silence were much worse. I felt cold and numb until I became aware of the blood dripping onto my face before turning into a steady warm stream as it continued its journey down my chest and onto my shirt and neatly pressed suit trousers. I waited patiently, there was nothing else I could do and after the paramedics loaded me onto the stretcher, I watched the ambulance pull away and race along the motorway, siren screaming, until it was out of sight. That was yesterday.

© Graham Sclater


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Press Release/Review In the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling Eva Ulian, who grew up in Walsall, has recently published a narrative history of Rajasthan, written in the style which Rudyard Kipling claims: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

“Son of a King!” So the name of “Rajput” signify and the scenario where the adventures of these invincible warriors becomes enacted is “The Land of Kings” as the name of Rajasthan embodies. A Rajput is set apart from other warriors by his chivalrous code of honour and tradition. Many are the names of valiant Rajputs that have been heralded through the ages from father to son. Many are they who fell, steel in hand so to prevent their Kingdom, Mewar, from being dominated by the invader. Many too are the Rajput women whose presence alongside their warriors shaped the course of destiny, unhesitatingly, choosing death to dishonour. “Rajput” reads with the ease and pleasure of a work of fiction, yet every detail, inference, and fact has been meticulously researched revealing, as yet, the untold wonder of an amazing past that would otherwise be left smouldering in its own ashes. Eva Ulian is a teacher, translator, painter, writer poet and since 1994, historical researcher at A.R.S. Studio of Architecture, Italy. She gained her Teacher’s Certificate form The Victoria School of Manchester University and her B.A. in English from London University. She has taught in primary schools in Scotland, Manchester, the Midlands, Kent, Surrey and London. In Northern Italy, she has taught English in secondary, high schools, state lyceums and private academies. She hopes to eventually print this book in India and make it accessible on the Indian economy to students of all ages. The proceeds of the books printed in India will go to form a Trust for the publication of Indian writers writing in India. Professional reviews “The history of Rajasthan is so colourful, vibrant and eventful it needs to be recorded with love and care. Although not a student of history, yet the stories of valour, beauty, intrigue and war excite me. Such history as yours will be a valuable addition to students and researchers.” Neelabh Pandit, Associate Professor, English – Alwar, Rajasthan RAJPUT is published by WestBow Press, Indiana – A Division of Thomas Nelson and is available in local bookstores, and online with Amazon, etc. © Eva Ulian A Sample Chapter is available for reading at the following link: 30

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On Reading

Good writers need to read good books. And I think the best writers are the most prolific readers. With so much good stuff on here, and so much good stuff out there as well, there is no excuse for not reading.

Writing is such a solitary pursuit but in the end we all want to share our work and move our readers. Whether it be with humour, pathos or shock or merely make them squirm uncomfortably, as long as we reach them in some way.

A great book I’m reading at the moment is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. A make you think, feel good read with no inflection of Polly Anna-ism.

Set in 1946, Juliet Ashton, a newspaper columnist, receives a letter from Dawsey Adams and eventually other folk from Guernsey (in the Channel Islands) who one by one send her letters recounting their involvement in the forming of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and how the reading and sharing of great books, helped them endure the five year occupation by the German forces. Woven through all this is an intriguing love triangle with Juliet’s publisher, Sidney, and Mark, an American entrepreneur.

The author, Mary Ann Shaffer, was seventy years old when she wrote this book but sadly did not live to see it in print. © Myra King


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Press Release DW’s Guide To Holidays

The old curmudgeon who brought you Twaddle is back, but this time it’s a guide to holidays that is packed with the kind of information any 3rd age saboteur will find invaluable.

Starting with the Declaration of Holiday, DW takes us through the whole process, from choosing dates and accommodation, to what we can expect when we get to Nether Puddleton next-the-sea. He misses nothing out. Looking briefly at the different kinds of holiday we can choose, holiday parks, camping, boating and so on, he moves through the vital process of booking, explaining why there is no potential in sabotaging it and covers the phoney holiday in detail including the frightening process of kitting out. From there he moves onto what we can actually expect from a week in Nether Puddleton next-the-sea. And throughout it all, he turns his comic eye on every conceivable situation and ways and means in which the professional grumpy old man can sabotage the entire week. It does not matter how old you are, whether you are a husband or Her Indoors trying to work out what the miserable old git is up to, DW’s Guide to Holidays is an invaluable weapon in the war of the wedded (or cohabitants as the case may be.) Packed with laughs, the perfect foil to that rainy afternoon, DW’s Guide To Holidays is available as an e-book (most formats catered for) from Smashwords: price $5.99

(We did ask DW how much that was in English money, but he said he didn’t know because the dog had chewed up his calculator.)


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Short Story

Inspired by something that happened in my house long ago, when there was a bakery here. An example of fact and fiction fusing to make a story.

Remember Your Manners ‘Now then, Janie, you must remember your manners.’ Her mother pulled her hair back and plaited it tightly. ‘You must not speak unless spoken to, not sit down unless you’re asked and answer politely, always.’ She turned Janie around to face her. ‘There. All your curls nicely tamed, as long as it lasts.’ ‘Ouch! It’s too tight – and anyway, I’m not going anywhere special, am I?’ ‘You know you have to look presentable for Mrs Davies, dear.’ ‘Why, mum? I’m only going for your bread.’ Janie frowned. ‘Mrs Davies might ask you in, dear. I understand her niece is visiting. Your age, I think.’ ‘Really? Do you think she will allow her out to play? I’m fed up with those silly boys.’ ‘You should be pleased to have play mates, Janie. As for Mrs Davies asking you in, I don’t know. If I know Mrs Davies right, she will have the poor girl’s day planned from dawn till dusk.’ Janie’s mum sighed and mumbled ‘that woman is a hard task-master.’ ‘Shall I ask if she can come out to play?’ Janie looked excited, but her mother looked horrified. ‘No, no! Do not ask anything. Mrs Davies will ask you, if she wants you to come in. You must wait to be asked. Remember your manners.’

Janie practised her best walk – in contrast to her usual skipping and jumping – as she carried her mother’s basket down the road the few yards to the bakery. Mrs Davies might be watching. Mr Davies was the baker, but Janie’s father said that Mrs Davies ruled both the bakery and the poor old baker with an iron rod. Janie had never seen an iron rod and hoped she never would. She liked the baker, but didn’t see him very often. He was too busy baking to come into the shop. Mrs Davies was religious, her father told her, and Mr Davies had no choice. Janie didn’t quite understand.


Janie stood by the counter with her basket and waited. She was used to waiting. Three women and a little boy had been served before her, and it really was her turn, but her mother had told her not to speak unless spoken to. ‘Well?’ Mrs Davies voice sounded cross. ‘Are you going to stand there all day, or are you going to tell me what it is you are here for? I take it you haven’t just come here to stand around and be in the way?’ Janie shrunk back. ‘Mum said…’ ‘No doubt she wants a day-old loaf as usual.’ Mrs Davies was already pulling the loaf of bread from under the counter. Janie wished they could have a fresh loaf for a change. What was the point of living so near to a bakery and never be able to taste a freshly baked loaf, or one of the cakes on the tray on the counter? Janie’s mouth watered at the thought of it. ‘Jane – that is your name, isn’t it?’ Mrs Davies didn’t wait for a reply. ‘My niece, Elisabeth, is staying with me for a week or two. Perhaps you could ask your mother if you could come in to meet her? It would be nice for her to have some company.’ ‘I would like that, but, but…’ ‘Yes?’ ‘I thought… perhaps Elisabeth would like to come outside to play?’ ‘Outside? In the dirt and mud? Oh, no, no, that won’t do. She’s not a boy, you know. Elisabeth doesn’t go out to play, but you may ask your mother, like I said, if you can come here to see her.’ Janie curtsied. ‘Thank you, Mrs Davies, I shall ask straight away.’

The two little girls sat awkwardly across the table from one another, as Mrs Davies came in with freshly baked scones on a plate. Janie’s mouth watered. At last, a cake, fresh from the bakery! Her brother would be jealous. ‘Would you like one, Jane, dear?’ Mrs Davies smiled at Janie and Janie remembered what her mother had said. ‘Remember your manners.’ She could hear her voice now, and in her most polite voice, Janie whispered ‘I don’t mind!’ ‘Nor do I, dear.’ Mrs Davies took the plate of scones back to the kitchen, after putting one on her niece’s plate. ‘Thank you, Aunt.’

Elisabeth shook her head and whispered: ‘that was just dumb.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ Janie wanted to go home. 35

An hour later Mrs Davies walked her to the back door. ‘Jane, my dear, if anyone asks you again if you would like something, be it a cake or a glass of water, you must say either ‘Yes, please’ – or ‘No, thank you’. Do you understand?’ Janie whispered ‘Yes, Mrs Davies,’ and curtsied again. Mrs Davies watched her walk past the bake house and went back indoors only when Janie was out of sight. Someone should teach the girl some proper manners.

‘Psst!’ Mr Davies handed Janie a buttered scone. ‘I’m sure you don’t mind!’ Mr Davies winked and put his finger to his lips. ‘Our secret!’


© Marit Meredith


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My wife's friend at work was going on about how her hubby could make up a poem out of anything. My wife, not to be outdone, said I could too. So I was set a challenge, to come up with a poem that contained two statements of fact. One: that the world record carrot grew to nineteen feet in length. Two: tomatoes keep growing, even after they have been picked. I had until the next morning to complete the challenge. The look on her face told me I had better not fail. Now, I don't know if the two, 'facts,' are genuine, but on the assumption that they are, I came up with this. My wife's friend declared me the winner.

The Flower and Vegetable Show My wife is a bit of a gardener, and last week she said, 'can we go, to see who wins all the prizes, at the flower and vegetable show?' Now I'm not one for looking at marrows or gazing at plants in a pot. But when she said, 'there's a giant veg sideshow,' I was out to the car like a shot. We looked at some peas and some turnips, we passed by the beans and the cress, the lettuce was lovely, the beets were sublime, but the leeks were a bit of a mess. We found a big tent that said 'Giants,' and joined a long queue to get in. The man on the door checked our passes and rattled his charity tin. The pumpkins were really enormous. The leeks came right up to my thigh, a nineteen foot carrot was laid on the floor, with a three ton potato, nearby. A judge was stood judging tomatoes. He picked one, then sniffed, as he said, 'This bloody thing here ain't a giant, I've grown bigger myself in my shed.' He put the tom down on a table, and pulled out his measuring tape, but when he turned back, his eyes were agog He looked at the tom, mouth agape. 37

While it had sat on the table the tomato had doubled in size he said, 'did you see that tomato? It grew right in front of my eyes.' The tomato got big as a pumpkin then tripled in size once again The judge stepped back as the table went crack and snapped in half, under the strain. The people ran out as the monster tom grew, till it took all the space in the tent, and then it blew up with an almighty splat. It really was quite an event. The people went home quite delighted with only one tale on their lips. About how they got covered in puree, and the town hall got splattered with pips.

Š Trevor Belshaw


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Short Story

Facing the Past Many people think it's a depressing job clearing people’s belongings when they die, but Wills have to be proved and relatives want their inheritance. Life goes on. It’s hard and often dirty work emptying a lifetime’s possessions from a home and not many relatives want to do it. Mum reckoned it was an invasion of privacy, but I didn’t see it that way, because what can be more private than death? Although I have to confess I felt decidedly uncomfortable the first time I went into a home and had to decide what was rubbish and what I could sell for profit. But I soon learned to be businesslike, although it always upset me when I came across old photograph albums that had been left behind. All those faded faces; loved ones from the past, forgotten and discarded. It seemed heartless to dump them, so I used to take them home. There were places where I found myself looking over my shoulder. The house would have an uncomfortable atmosphere and more often than not I would discover from neighbours that the owner had been unhappy, or unloved, or was sadly just not a very nice person. Thankfully, most of the homes felt empty and peaceful and I’d quickly begin to get the feel of the man or woman who’d lived there. A sideboard drawer crammed with cast aside bits and pieces can tell you a lot about a person. While I emptied cupboards and sorted I would come across their hobbies and interests, so I suppose mum was right about privacy in a way. Then one day the phone rang. It was a son needing his father’s house cleared. The tiny brick terrace was dingy and neglected. Inside there were a few bits and pieces of china and glass, half a dozen bits of furniture and some odd and ends upstairs. Not much that was saleable, but just enough to make a small profit. Looking sleek and prosperous, Mr Price nodded at the price I offered and I wondered how many more quotes he’d obtained before mine. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘I want it cleared tomorrow morning. I’ll be here to let you in.’ It was a bit sudden, but the customer is always right. When I arrived the next day there were half a dozen expensive cars parked outside the house. A middle-aged woman elegantly dressed in black opened the front door. Mr. Price hovered behind her. ‘We’re in the living room having a cup of tea to warm us up before we go to the cemetery. You can start upstairs,’ he said That was a first. They hadn’t even buried the poor soul yet! As I made my way up the steep, narrow stairs carrying two boxes and a roll of black sacks, a middle-aged man carrying a heavy cardboard box was coming from a bedroom. ‘Ah --- yes, I'm just taking the few little things that were promised to me by uncle,’ he stuttered. 39

I reached the landing and peeked over his shoulder. The bedroom was empty of the few saleable bits and pieces that meant the difference between profit and loss. Shielding the contents of the cardboard box, he brushed past and made his way downstairs. Luckily I hadn’t paid Mr. Price yet. We stood in the dark, narrow hallway, where the scent of expensive aftershave fought a losing battle against the overpowering smell of poverty and neglected old age, and I wished I was a hundred miles away. ‘We agreed on a price for the contents yesterday, but the family is still taking items from the house,’ I said. Mr. Price frowned. ‘It is usual for relatives to take a little memento in remembrance.’ ‘But that’s before you get quotes, not after. The council charges to put un-saleable goods on the tip. You’ll have to pay me if there‘s nothing left to cover my expenses.’ I looked at his smug face and felt my patience snap. ‘Look – this really isn’t the time. We don’t usually clear houses on the day of the funeral. I’ll come back when everyone has finished taking what they want,' adding under my breath, 'in your dreams.' I had just turned ready to leave, when raised voices erupted from the living room. ‘I tell you he promised these bits to me!’ ‘I've got more right to them than you have,’ someone replied. ‘Oh yes, and when was the last time you saw him?’ Another shrill voice joined in. There was the sound of a tussle, and the tinkle of broken china. ‘Now look what you’ve done!’ Just then the doorbell rang. Because I was nearest I opened the door. Parked in the middle of the road was a hearse and on the doorstep a funeral attendant with a suitably sorrowful expression on his face began to lift his top hat. But before he could open his mouth to speak, more shouting echoed down the passageway. ‘I’m not with them,’ I blurted and like an idiot, found myself opening my hands and patting my pockets to show I wasn’t leaving with a little something to remember poor old Mr Price by. The attendant shrugged, lifted his eyes heavenwards and walked slowly back to the hearse. He’d evidently seen it all before. As I opened the garden gate, something jutting out from under the lid of the dustbin caught my eye. It was an old photograph album and I wondered how many pictures of poor old Mr Price it contained….So I took it.

© Diane Rayburn


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In April 2009, The Umbrella poem won the Writelink Monthly Challenge with a prize of £20. The poem had to have a maximum of 12 lines and the theme was based on: Sunshine and Showers.

The Umbrella

I’m rolled up and cocooned like a chrysalis, suspended and waiting until – bliss; creases unfold far and wide, stretching, evolving – a butterfly. Raindrops dance on taut skinned canopy; a drumming beat of vibrancy. In exchange for my metamorphosis, I protect you against nature’s tide. Sun-kissed-dried, or buffeted inside and out, I’m then ostracised in favour of the drought. Rolled up and cocooned – a chrysalis, suspended and waiting until – bliss; creases unfold far and wide, stretching, evolving – a butterfly.

© Marilyn Sylvester


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Man’s Best Friend

Man’s best friend always goes before ‘our’ time, before we are ready. If pets lived as long as us, they might become man’s… only friend…? A one dogged man … her lone cat … Thus we learn that friends come and go… relationships are not immortal, …but can be… So… our search for communion with another… continues…

© Phillip McDonald


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Poetry The Keeper He noticed one day she looked tired and sad, It seemed she’d been crying, it made him feel bad, This lovely old lady he knew so well, For years had been living a life of hell.

He recalls with affection, the day she arrived, Tired and confused and barely alive, And swore he’d take care of her in her new home, He had no idea she felt so alone.

She looks back at him with questioning eyes, The pain she is feeling, does he not realize? Being looked after at first was ok, But the boredom’s been killing her day after day.

But in her dreams she sees herself young, Playing with her sister out in the sun, And she imagines she’s back in that magical place, He’s watching, is that a smile I see on her face?

He makes his decision and waits till the night, There’ll be no one around; we’ll be out of sight, He comes to her door with needle in hand, She feels a sharp pain but makes no sound,

Gently he carries her into his car, The journey they make will take them far. And when he returns and collects his pay, He gives in his notice; he’s worked his last day,


She slowly comes round and opens her eyes, Dazed and confused and barely alive, She remembers feeling this way before, But her surroundings are different, no bars or locked door.

Where are the faces that looked into the cage? Pointing and laughing then walking away, Where was the keeper who seemed to care? That fed her and kissed her and played with her hair.

But the air is so fresh and she’s out in the sun, With gorillas around her having fun, Recognizing her scent one comes close and they touch, It’s the sister she remembered and missed so much.

Grooming each other the rest gather round, Welcoming her with familiar sounds, The magical place she dreamt she could see, Were simply the memories of when she was free,

Though happy, time passes and she’d occasionally miss, The keeper who fed her and gave her a kiss, Then one day by the lake where she’s taking a drink, Something slowly creeps in and silently sinks.

Out of sight and in the depths, The alligator approaches holding its breath, As it lunges at her a shot rings out, The keeper’s new job was game reserve scout.

“Do you think old lady after all these years? I’d stop caring for you?” his eyes full of tears, He promised to continue what he had begun, And make sure she enjoyed her last days in the sun.

© J.M.Artes 44

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The Book Shelf

100 Stories for Haiti is a collection of short stories which will be sold to raise money for relief efforts in disaster-stricken Haiti. All proceeds go to the Red Cross. 100 Stories for Haiti was published on March, 4th, 2010, as an ebook on, and as a paperback available online and in shops. Watch the project's website for more details: and see this issue’s Pick of the Web.

Into the Yell by Sarah James, Circaidy Gregory Press, 96 pages: ÂŁ7.99 ISBN-10: 1906451249 ISBN-13: 978-1906451240 Available from: Circaidy Gregory Press at: It is also on sale in local Waterstones and Three Counties Bookshop and Ledbury Books and Maps, both in Ledbury High Street.

City Paddock & Other Stories by Myra King Available from the award-winning Adelaide independent publisher Ginninderra Press at:

Rajput by Eva Ulian Available from the Book Depository:


DW’s Guide To Holidays is available as an e-book (most formats catered for) from Smashwords: price $5.99

The Haunting of Melmerby Manor by David Robinson Available from:

Twaddle by DW Bits and pieces designed to be read in bits and pieces. You need a breather to settle your laughter. Available as a paperback or can be downloaded as an e-book from on the following url. Birthrights by Su Laws Baccino (Susan Baccino) Available from:

Tea Time Morsels: A Collection of Short Stories by Marit Meredith Available from: ÂŁ7.99 46

The Letters by Fiona Robins Available from:

The Blue Handbag by Fiona Robyn Available from:

Thaw by Fiona Robyn £7.99 Available from:

"The Rhinoceros and His Thoughts: short stories & poetry - the best of the Whittaker Prize 2009" edited by Donna Gagnon Pugh (192pp) Available from

Paperback £13.48 thoughts/8043864

Tracy's Hot Mail by Trevor Belshaw, now available as an eBook, from MA2Books:


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Stop Press!

A last-minute addition to this issue: not to be missed!

Call for Short Stories - in support of National Short Story Week Organised by Writers Abroad National Short Story Week ( will take place during the week 22nd - 28th November. In support of the event, Writers Abroad will be publishing an anthology of short stories. ies. Writers Abroad ( is a vibrant online community for Expat writers and this has influenced the theme of the anthology. Title: ‘Writers Abroad’ Theme:: Short Stories on any aspect of Expat Life, the pains and the pleasure. Contributions: From Expat writers (either currently an Expat or previously an Expat) Word Count:: Anything up to 2,500 words. Submissions can be flash fiction i.e up to 500 words or short stories up to 2,500. Word count does not include the title. Submission ion and Entry Rules: • • • • • • • • •

• • •

All stories must be previously unpublished Submissions should be received by midnight Friday 15th October 2010 Submissions must be in English References to porn or racism will not be accepted Manuscripts must be submitted in either Word Word or RTF format (No DOCX or other format will be accepted). The approximate word count should be inserted at the end of the story Author name and story title should be placed in the left header of the document and page numbers in the right footer Manuscripts should be presented with double spacing and Times New Roman Font. Submissions are by email only to - in the subject line please quote ‘Writers Abroad submission’ and provide your contact details and story title in the body of the email Entries are free, only one entry per author plus a short bio of 30 words Successful authors will be informed within two weeks of the closing date It will not be possible to provide feedback on stories but successful stories will be edited ited and authors may be required to undertake minor changes for publication purposes

Copyright will remain with the author and the stories will be published in an anthology a in a number of formats. 48

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The Diary of a Would-Be-Protagonist Putting it All in Order Anna caught me out - at least almost. I’d waded through the manuscript that had languished for so long in the bedside cabinet - just to re-familiarise myself with the content, you understand - and hadn’t really given any thought to keeping it in order. Well, I was preparing myself - I can’t be expected to think about everything, can I? When she finally made the decision to pull out the whole lot, notes and all, from that bedside drawer, she found two and a half copies of her manuscript, all in a muddle. The first chapter was missing all together, much to her surprise, but she didn’t realise that until she had put all the pages in order and sorted out what belonged to which copy. Using a different font for the different copies was a stroke of genius! (And that’s a first!) It took her half a day to put it all in order, all the same. That’s what she’ll tell you, anyway. It would have been done in under an hour if she hadn’t starting reading it as she sorted. I tried to get her to do one thing at a time, to stop her getting as muddled as her manuscript pages were, but when did she ever listen to me? But there it was, all in order at last. Except for the missing first chapter. Now, where did I put that? Oh, what now? Anna pushed her chair back, got up and left the room. It’s a wonder she didn’t hear me shouting after her. I was desperate for her to put pen to paper. My relief when she returned to the desk was probably palpable. Phew! She was only in need of some refreshment. There was me thinking I’d been abandoned again. Anna is having problems. Apparently my story isn’t exactly straight forward, and learned men have pondered on my story before. Much more so than she had anticipated. That’ll teach her looking things up on the Internet! Don’t worry, Anna! Not that she is listening - or would take any notice of me, anyway - in her agitated state. How can I make her understand that a journey of the imagination doesn’t have to be infused with scientific know-how or theological treatise, or any number of philosophers’ input? Once I locate that missing chapter, I’ll show her what her initial intent was. It’s all there. If for no other reason than to stop her being waylaid by unnecessary research. Having said that, I see she’s found some information ‘they’ dug out some years ago. Now, that looks interesting. No, no! Don’t scroll down the page yet. I’m still reading. Oh well, perhaps I’ll let her use that little bit… hang on, there’s more! This could be fun!

© Anna Reiers

The Pages is brought to you by The Apprentice Writer 49

The Pages Issue 9  

Spring/summer 2010

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