2741. The birthday party

For Emmeline’s seventh birthday her mother said she could invite up to twelve little girls from school to her birthday party. All twelve excitedly accepted the invitation and all of their mothers (and one father) wrote a thankyou note:

Alexandria: Our religion forbids the watching of any video or television, so I do hope entertainment for the party is not centred around such a sinful monstrosity.

Primrose: Our daughter is allergic to milk products so the serving of such things is out of the question.

Pandora: My daughter drinks only potable water. I know you live in the country and are dependent on rain water, but please provide purified water in a bottle if water use is intended.

Cosima: Our little girl – as is the whole family – are vegan. Please bear that in mind when planning the menu.

Lavender: She is not fond of spicy food. We don’t want you to think it’s rude of her if she refuses to touch spicy food.

Gertrude: It’s the smell of cooking chicken that makes Gertrude feel ill. If you intend to provide chicken pieces please do not cook them in the house when Gertrude is there.

Genevieve: She is allergic to peanuts. In fact anything that has been within smelling distance of a peanut we have taught her to avoid.

Calliope: Calliope doesn’t like blueberries. So if you mean to have fruit salad would it be too much to ask that you make a separate dish for her without blueberries?

Tatiana: She only likes walnut and cookies ice cream. Thought I’d better warn you.

Apollonia: We always have pizza every Friday evening. Apollonia does love her pizza! So I know this party is on a Friday. Just a suggestion…

Evangeline: Evangeline eats only healthy food. It’s something we encourage her to do. In fact we insist she eat only healthy food. If you see how skinny she is you’ll see why we are so worried about what she eats.

Priscilla: We like to think of ourselves as modern parents. So if you intend to play games involving dolls and stuffed animals – even pin the tail on the donkey – we hope such things are anatomically accurate. Have a nice party!

Music 548: Ragtag 1

There’s no story today! I used to post lots of music but haven’t posted any here since 6th December 2022. That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t been composing (decomposing). In fact this year I’ve written about 33 pieces (mainly for piano).

So to break the cycle of not-posting music, here is a recent piece of music. It is called Ragtag 1, and is almost ragtime!

Ragtag 1

If you wish to hear other compositions of this year (plus links to other years) go to:

Music Compositions 2023

Thanks! See you tomorrow with another story!

2740. Presidential portrait

I hope people realize that the pictures that grace these stories are not actually photographs. It is easy to understand that people might think that to be the case.

Only the other day the White House in America asked if they could purchase some of my photographs. I responded by saying they weren’t photographs. Isn’t it amazing that artificial intelligence can make people believe a lie to be true?

President Biden thought that my photographs would go well on a wall with some expensive paintings he had purchased in the past year or so. I said I was sorry to disappoint. No, they are paintings. He might be an Art Hunter but he’s got a lot to learn.

So there you have it. I hope I haven’t ruined anyone’s day. Sometimes it’s best to leave some people in ignorance. I have slightly relented, for today’s portrait is one of those official portraits of US Presidents that are on display somewhere. Of course I’m not prepared to say which president. Officialdom can download a copy and use it if they wish.

2739.  Tobogganing

Kevin had always wanted a toboggan, and he got one for his birthday.

“Who’s a lucky boy?” exclaimed Aunt Thora. She was always one for the original phrase. Kevin sighed. He’d heard Aunt Thora say “Who’s a lucky boy?” a thousand times.

“There’s no snow,” said Philomena. “Why would you want a toboggan?” Kevin explained that he could use it on a grassy slope. Going downhill on grass is not as slippery as snow but it’s still fun.

“To each their own,” said Aunt Thora. “I wouldn’t be found dead on that thing. Not even if you paid me.”

“You’re ninety-four,” said Kevin. “You’d probably break your neck.” It was a very imprudent thing to say to Aunt Thora. Kevin should have known not to rile Aunt Thora.

“You can say what you like,” declared Aunt Thora. “Personally I think it childish that you should want a toboggan when you’re in your sixties.”

2738.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls

The bells of the church in our village began to ring. It wasn’t a Sunday. It wasn’t a call to the Divine Service. I knew it had to be something. Of course! Of course! Had the leader of the country died? Was there a funeral? A marriage? A christening? In our small village everyone knew everything that was going on. No one knew why the church bells were ringing.

It wasn’t a short ringing. It went on and on. Villagers began gathering outside the locked church. There was quite a cluster! What’s going on? What’s going on? No one knew. Perhaps the vicar would know but he was nowhere to be found.

After a good twenty minutes the bells stopped ringing. The crowd dispersed. I would estimate that villagers had arrived home no longer than five minutes when the bells began to ring again. The crowd reassembled but in greater numbers.

After twenty minutes or so, the bells stopped again. No one left this time. They waited. They had learnt their lesson last time. The ringing would start again. Shortly. Still they waited. And waited. The bells never resumed. In the end, in dribs and drabs, the villagers wandered home.

2737.  The fishing trip

The thing was I didn’t know anything about driving a boat. A fisherman friend had invited me one Sunday to go fishing out at sea and I said I would enjoy that. We went what I thought was “way out to sea” but he said it wasn’t far from shore at all. But it was far enough for me to have to pretend that I wasn’t scared.

I didn’t catch anything – to be honest I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. My friend caught a snapper. One fish is enough for two people’s dinner, but no, we had to try for more. I just wanted to get out of this “petrified at the huge expanse of sea” scenario and go home.

Suddenly a great big tentacle came over the side of the boat. There was sort of something like suction pads on it. The tentacle coiled itself around my friend’s leg and dragged him over the side into the water. He disappeared. I presume he drowned or was eaten by the octopus or whatever it was.

I was terrified out of my skin. Was the tentacle going to come for me? I didn’t have a clue how to start the boat engine or how to drive it. In the end I figured it was like driving a car. I turned the ignition on, somehow put the thing into gear, and pointed the boat towards the shore. Things got a bit rough with the occasional wave but I kept going. When that tentacle came up over the side again I threw the snapper into the water and that seem to distract it from pursuing me as prey.

Eventually I made it to shore, although I didn’t know how to park it properly. There were a few people on the pier, and when I called out they were able to help.

The first thing I did was inform the police. I told them exactly what I’ve just told you now. I was extremely shaken and credible. But I couldn’t help but think that my “friend” won’t be doing a line with my girlfriend anymore.

2736. The curse

A rumour had circulated for years. Centuries ago a rich king had died and was buried in a secret cave on an isolated island. Apparently he was buried with thousands and thousands of gold coins.

There was a scary addendum to the story; anyone who tried to find the secret cave would be cursed.

I lie in a cave with gravel and stones.
A curse on the one who seeks my bones.

Kenneth and Graeme were fourteen years old. They didn’t believe in curses, but they did believe the story of the gold coins. They got in a boat and rowed to the island.

After several hours searching they began the trip home. Their boat sank. They drowned. We will never know if they found anything.

2735. Love is in the air

You’d think that a simple thing like dropping your child off at a day care centre would be a simple thing. Well, it used to be. That was until I started talking to another parent each day. Natalie was her name. She was a solo mother with a daughter the same age as my son. I was a widower. My wife had died not long after Rory was born.

I found myself dropping off Rory each day at the exact time I knew that Natalie was dropping off her child. She worked for the City Council; some sort of secretarial job. I was self-employed. I researched genealogical documents for people who wanted to know their family tree but didn’t have the knowhow to do it themselves. They paid well too!

 Natalie’s hours were flexible, as were mine. It didn’t matter if we dawdled a little when we dropped off our children. Eventually I asked her if she would like to go to lunch and she said “Yes”.

It was the start of something. That was sixteen years ago. My goodness me! What a two-timing double-crossing, selfish, catty, mean, sour hussy her daughter has turned out to be. I can’t wait for her to pack up and leave home. Of course I would never tell Natalie that. She’d go into revenge mode and I couldn’t guarantee my future would be safe. I mean, I’ve always suspected that a couple of years ago she was the one who poisoned Rory.

2734. Swings and roundabouts

After Anika had murdered her husband and his mistress she had no idea how to hide such a trail of blood. She had taken the sickle from the shed and whished it about aimlessly in the bedroom. In the dark. She had no idea what she was hitting, but hit her husband and his mistress she did. All was revealed when the light was turned on. Anika was surprised. Her husband’s mistress was her brother-in-law’s cousin.

But what a mess! Anika first dragged the brother-in-law’s cousin’s corpse out to the car and stuffed it in the back seat. She them dragged her husband’s body out to the car and dumped it on top of the other corpse. She then drove off in pursuit of some isolated patch of forest where no one ever went.

She was heading in the vague direction of the countryside when she was stopped by a cop. Did she know that one of her headlights wasn’t going? He issued a warning and didn’t even bother to notice the two bloody bodies dumped on the back seat. Anika continued her journey.

Eventually she entered a lonely forest lane. She stopped. It took her over an hour but she managed to drag the two bodies into a hollow and cover them with leaves and branches. She returned home and cleaned up the mess. Two days later Anika briefly returned to the forest.

A little while after this a terrible happening came on the radio. A fire was destroying a large section of forest. Two bodies had been found. Anika went to the police and said she thought one of them could perhaps be her missing husband. Dental records proved that to be the case. These days Anika is happily married to her brother-in-law’s cousin’s widower.


Quite by accident Ethel had made a stunning discovery. She discovered that the very, very final phrase a person thought before death (in their native language of course) was “If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay”. There were no exceptions. Clearly it was a code devised by God to equivalently say “Open the gates of Heaven for me”. One could negate the request and not die if one immediately said “ZINDABAD” after the final phrase.

“If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay. ZINDABAD” was not a fatal phrase but without the ZINDABAD it certainly was.

Ethel was one to play with fire. She would say the phrase with the salvific ZINDABAD all over the place. You’d think she was about to die when WHAM! – ZINDABAD was added.

All of a sudden people all over the world began dropping dead here, there, and everywhere.  Ethel had announced her discovery on Facebook and Twitter but she never mentioned the rescuing ZINDABAD bit. In quite a short space of time all Facebook and Twitter users had perished, except of course for Ethel.

How silly! Who would believe such a thing?  If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay. BABUSHKA!