Category Archives: Tales

1898. The dead tree

I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.

There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.

Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!

After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.

My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.

1897. The maze

It really was rather annoying. It was wearing her parents down to a frazzle. Aurelia wanted to try the local hedge maze. She was only nine years old. She wanted to do it on her own.

It was summer time. Every time they drove passed the maze place Aurelia would pester her parents.

“Can I go in the maze on my own?”
“I want to go in the maze.”
“Let me do the maze.”
“Monica went in the maze.”
“Muriel went in the maze.”
“Why am I the only one not to have done the maze?”

Enough is enough! Aurelia’s mother stopped the car (she was driving).

“Here’s four dollars,” said her father. “We’ll pick you up in an hour.”

That was seventeen hours ago.

1896. A compromising situation

Dear Heart Throb
I really don’t know who to turn to. I am eighteen and my uncle’s wife claims to have information on me that could prove embarrassing. I don’t know whether to confront her about it or ignore it and hope it goes away. She claims to have photos of me in a compromising situation even though I know I’ve never been in a compromising situation like that. It’s amazing how photographs can be doctored these days to make them look real. Any suggestions?
Disgruntled Nephew.

Dear Disgruntled Nephew
You seem like a nice young man. How awful to be accused of being in a compromising situation and never having been in a compromising situation. You’ve got the worst of both worlds.

May I suggest you make a list of possible compromising situations – experiences that theoretically would embarrass you if knowledge of them got out into the public arena. An example could be getting videoed while stealing something valuable from a shop; or being caught having an affair with a popular film star. Things like that. Then choose one from the list and GO OUT AND DO IT. Make sure it gets noticed and recorded, and then leave it in a place where your uncle’s wife will find it. Doctoring photographs simply doesn’t work. She’ll want the genuine stuff. You’ll find that often the general population will be in awe of you and your compromising situation. You’ll be something of a celebrity.

Hope this helps.
Heart Throb

1895. Cruel names

Merry was called Merry because she was born on Christmas Day. Clearly her parents didn’t realize that the proper spelling of Mary had also some connection with Christmas. Merry spent her entire life, as a punishment for her parents’ lack of knowledge, saying, “No! That’s not how you spell it!”

Just over two years later, when her little brother was born, it was New Year’s Day, so he was named “Happy”. It was a providential name because when he grew up and began a career in looting he shot a couple of policemen and was known within close circles as “Trigger Happy”.

There was a third child in the family. He was called Roger; short for Roger Mortis. The parents thought it a huge joke because he was born on the very day that Grandma died. Spelling was not the parents’ greatest strength so “Rigor” was registered as “Roger”. Otherwise if he had been born on an ordinary day of the year they had in mind to call the baby Plain Jane if a girl, and Joe Blogs if a boy. And then Grandma stepped up to the plate. Roger had escaped from having a life lumbered with silliness.

Honestly, a number of people were relieved that the parents didn’t create further children. “I’m sure any uncreated children would be more than grateful that they never came into this world,” declared a neighbour, Ms. Stacey Meldrum. Stacey herself has a host of kids. I can only remember the names of three of them; Tabernacle, Vernacular, and Genuflection. After these three Stacey developed an interest in organic chemistry.

1894. Wild game

Pieter had an obsession with wild game. He had tried to eat as many legitimate wild things as possible. He not only hunted them, just one of every variety, but he thoroughly researched the best possible way to cook them. What was the best way to prepare wild pork, for example? Did one devour it with an accompanying apple sauce or perhaps wild blueberry chutney?

His list of tasty wild creatures was comprehensive. His favourite game taste at present stood at wild turkey, although the drumsticks of a wild turkey were quite stringy and tough. It must be because of all the running and scratching these wild birds do. But it was far tastier than the domestic turkey and quite different. People don’t realize.

Of course, although it was legitimate to hunt some things Pieter stopped at having grilled bat. One never quite knew what dingy guano-riddled cave the bats had been in. Besides, Chinese cooking wasn’t Pieter’s favourite form of culinary delight.

Although wild moose meat was good enough there was an awful lot of it. A single animal filled Pieter’s freezer. His wife wouldn’t touch moose – “too gamey” – so Pieter spent months ploughing through the moose carcass. He was not one to waste things, but by the end of it he was totally sick of elk.

There were two creatures on Pieter’s list that he had never tried: wild hare and wild swan. Where he lived one could hunt swan, although numbers hunted by each hunter was limited. Still, one needed only the one to try it. And then Lady Luck stepped in!

A friend gave Pieter a hare and a swan on the same day. The same day! Pieter was ecstatic. “When shall we eat them?” asked Pieter’s wife. Pieter knew exactly what they would do:

HARE TODAY, SWAN TOMORROW.

1893. Daily shower

Judy rather proudly proclaimed in her stringent voice (it was actually a private conversation but she spoke loud enough for everyone to hear because she was so pleased with herself) that her golden retriever puppy had learnt to open the bathroom door and then open the shower door and get into the shower.

“Right when I’m having a shower,” she said. “Right when I’ve shampooed my hair and have my eyes shut. The first time I got a huge fright, but I’m used to it now. Such a clever puppy! Intelligent! He loves playing in water. And then by the time I’ve rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and opened my eyes, the puppy’s gone. But he always turns the light on. Isn’t that clever?”

“I thought you were going to say it was the fancy man that visits your house every day around that time,” said Ivan.

“What fancy man?”

Of course, Ivan was making it up, but he hated show-offs.

1892. Damp bath towels

It had been raining for what seemed like weeks. Quite honestly, Leon was running short on bath towels. The first batch of washed bath towels he pegged out on the outside clothesline in the rain. Often it would be fine the day after rain, and having laundry rinsed in the rain added to their freshness once they had dried. But this batch of six towels simply did not seem to want to dry.

It wasn’t as if he was made of towels. He had eight altogether, three red and three grey and two white. After the initial wash he was left with two dry towels that quickly dampened when Leon took a shower.

There were a few other things Leon was trying to dry as well. For example, his wife’s woollen pullover had been damp for so long that he thought it really needed a quick rinse to freshen it up again.

His living and dining rooms were festooned with drying laundry. The backs of chair, the table, even the television, had towels draped over them.

Leon thought of going out and buying a new set of bath towels. But then what would he do with this lot of towels once they had dried? Would he simply throw them away? Why wouldn’t they hurry and dry? These six towels that he had used to mop up his wife’s blood after he’d shot her. The woollen pullover, once dried, he would burn.

1891. On talking to a telegraph pole

I’m constantly amazed at how stupid some space aliens really are. The other day I caught one having a conversation with a telegraph pole. A telegraph pole!

I said, “You’re talking to a telegraph pole you stupid idiot. It’s not a living thing; it’s just a pole for holding up wires. It’s inanimate.”

“Oh yeah,” it said. (I’m not sure with the aliens if it’s a girl or a boy. Possibly neither. I read, apparently they breed like mushrooms. Sort of clouds of spores. I’d better watch out! Ha ha!) It continued: “Perhaps if you tried talking to a telegraph pole yourself you’d realize they are not as inanimate as you might think. Here! Try it!”

“Hello telegraph pole. How are you today?” I said.

Suddenly there was a cloud of spores floating all around me. I said that these spores were like mushroom spores, but really it was like a pollen explosion in a pine forest. I was so immersed in the all-pervading floating pollen that I could hardly see the alien. It was smiling in a ghostly manner; it was mesmerizing. Quite frankly it was grotesque.

Anyway, I had to dash off home. I was so excited, as was my wife. I just realized something then and there. Poof! In a flash! We’re going to have a baby! Possibly tomorrow morning.

1890. A spelling competition

Once upon a time a coven of witches were having a spelling competition. These weren’t the nice witches that one finds in real life; these were witches one finds in fairy tales; bad ones. For example, Noratia Cacklebother had been involved in the abduction of Hansel and Gretel. On this particular day it was raining and all the witches were sitting in a circle bored out of their tree. Rutterkindle Not(e)worthy suggested they have a spelling competition, and since she was the only one with a dictionary it seemed wise that she be the compere and ask the questions.

There were many interesting words thrown up for consideration. Noratia Cacklebother got stuck on spelling “Handkerchief” because she pronounced it without the “D”. They had gone around the circle three times and everyone had got things right except for Noratia Cacklebother who also misspelled “pharaoh” and “cassowary”. She was embarrassed. She was enraged. She stood. She proclaimed.

“You want to know how to spell?” she screamed. “Then I’ll teach you how to spell.”

By the left eye of the crocodile,
With a little nip of parsley and a slither of snake,
By the tuatara’s middle eye,
With a dash of nutmeg and a wriggling worm half-baked.

All the witches were completely caught off guard.

WHOOSH! waved Noratia Cacklebother with her wand. All were turned into frogs. Permanently.

Good riddance, I say. They were a nasty lot. But be a bit careful if you bump into Noratia Cacklebother. She’s still in a fluster.

1889. Award 22: Mystery at Te Popo

How wonderful to be nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award by Dumbest Blog Ever. The Dumbest Blogger ain’t as dumb as he makes out so go have a peek. He’s also going through a bit of a no-job patch, so see if you can have a read. He’s a good friend too.

Te Popo (in the title of this posting) is the name of the area where I live. It means “The Black Night”.

The award was established by Okoto Engima. She (apparently) is your everyday writer who turned her boredom, love for fashion, and passion for writing into something productive. So, being a fashion icon in my own head, I’m delighted to provide a link.

I’m meant to answer the five questions asked, and then say THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. Of course the very things that some would want to know about me shall remain a secret. Oh! What the heck! Why not expose all? Read on!

Then I’ve got to nominate other bloggers, ask them a similar number of original things in the manner in which I was asked, and finally skedaddle off to bed.

Here are the five questions:

1. Where do UFOs come from?

Three weeks before my fourth birthday (i.e. 21 days before) my parents put a dozen eggs underneath a broody hen. I didn’t know, but they were due to hatch on my birthday. Then on my birthday eve my mother told me the hen was going to hatch out baby chickens tomorrow for my birthday. I went to the chicken coop and watched. Being on a farm I knew that babies came out of the mother’s bottom – like calves and lambs and things. I also knew that chickens came out of eggs. But how did the mother hen get her babies into the eggs after they had come out of her bottom?

I was going to solve this mystery once and for all. I watched all day, and not a thing happened. The next morning the hen had twelve chickens. I do not know how the hen puts the chickens into the eggs, and nor do I know where UFOs come from.

As an addendum to this, all twelve chicks grew into handsome over-sexed roosters, which might lead to the first of the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this post.

This is my faverolles rooster in my later years!

2. Do you like Mexican food?

We don’t have Taco Bell within a thousand miles of where I live, so all Mexican food has to be hand-crafted – a skill which I have developed to a high standard, especially when opening the can of kidney beans. So yes, I like Mexican food. Once, a couple of years back, the farming neighbours asked me to look after their farm for three weeks while they went away for a vacation. (They had never had such a capable neighbour before, and I said yes because they had lots of farm bikes and I was able to roar around all day on motor bikes here and there – it could have been interpreted as testosterone but it was simply post-adolescent inanity).

By way of thanks the neighbours invited me over for a meal, and we had Mexican. I was foolish enough to declare that one cannot claim to have eaten Mexican tacos properly unless one takes a freshly stuffed taco shell and eats it while jumping up and down in a white shirt on a trampoline. That’s what I had seen Mexican children do.

Some idiot actually photographed it

Who cares? The shirt was old anyway. Of course, those of you who want to see me with my shirt off will have to wait until the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF later. I don’t like to reveal everything all at once.

3. Do you believe in life after love?

I’d like to say yes to this question, but basically I’m a bad loser. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen in love, or even fallen in infatuation. But each time when the saga is over I turn into a complete wreck. I’m trying to select an example…

Once, when all possibility of romance dissipated, approximately around one in the morning, I screwed up an entire packet of cigarettes and threw them into the fire. The nearest in-the-middle-of-the-night cigarette selling place was about two hours walk away and I didn’t have a car. By the time I got home at five o’clock it was sunrise and I was in a ripe state.

No, there’s no life after love. Or, yes, perhaps there is, but it’s a different life – I have subsequently discovered.

I know it’s confusing but this is not me. These are actually models.

4. What’s your theme song?

I’m a bit “yesterday” when it comes to choosing a theme song. I guess it would have to be the song my father banned from us playing on the (back-then) gramophone. It was the flipside of Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s “Goodness Gracious Me”. The song was called “We’re removing Grandpa’s grave to build the sewer”. I absolutely loved it back then (and still do). I suppose part of the appeal was that Dad had banned it and it could only be played when he was out of the house. Apart from that as a ten year old I got given a collection of recordings of music by famous composers and I thrashed Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to death. Mum would say, “Turn that horrible music down” but I didn’t.

I still get immensely excited by every note of it, and sometimes take the score to bed with me to read like a novel. But for the time being, if you’re hoping to get an insight into my excitement you may have to wait until you hear about the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this reflection.

Getting ready to take Stravinsky’s Rite to bed.

5. Would you rather eat rice or potatoes?

I had two great-great-great grandmothers die in the Irish Potato Famine, so it would be treachery to claim a preference for rice. Besides, I associate rice with China, and they’re not my favourites at present.

There’s so much more one can do with a potato. Rice one can boil or throw over the bride and groom at a wedding. What a waste! Imagine throwing boiled potatoes at a bride and groom. It could be the harbinger of awkward things to come, especially if the groom got bits of mashed potato on his black tuxedo.

THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

At last we have arrived at this most revealing section. Some of you have been faithful online friends for seven or eight years, and some just a few weeks. Some know things about me that others don’t. Anyway, here are bits of me in no particular order and for no particular reason:

1. I am gay. My partner is Eric. He is French. We get on well enough. He speaks nine languages and I speak English. He uses the eight other languages when he doesn’t want me to know what he’s saying. I never chose to be gay. My five siblings are now all GREAT grandparents. Such things would have its joys and non-joys (and expenses). I have a dog and a cat. I love them nonetheless. It’s not quite the same but it’ll have to do!

2. I was a catholic priest for nearly thirty years. Those years, plus the eight years of training, were an important part of who I am. Sometimes, when people hear of my past, they say “Good on you for leaving”. I always get a little hurt by that. It was almost forty years of my life! I don’t think there was much wrong with what I did!

3. I have had a chronic heart condition for 25 years or so. Apparently I need a heart transplant but I’m not going to be given one because there’s a paucity of hearts about and I haven’t made a big enough contribution to society to be very far up the list! I said to the heart specialist when he told me that, “as long as the heart I would’ve got goes to someone younger who has a life ahead then that is fine”, and he said that no one had said that before and he burst into tears. I thought that might’ve improved my chances but it made Sweet Fanny Adams of a difference!

Anyway, it’s just as well that this wonderful award asks for only three, otherwise I’d be talking about myself all day.

I now have to ask five questions and nominate others. Well, this is the sad bit. I should’ve said it at the beginning. I don’t nominate, but I mention the blog addresses of other bloggers I follow that I like and maybe you miss out on. If I don’t mention you, know that I don’t NOT mention you to make you feel bad.

a). Passing on the flame. This is an archive of poetry translations (Medieval/Baroque/Modern/etc) from the German, by Peter Lach-Newinsky. I like this site because it exposes something to me that I wouldn’t have a clue about otherwise.

b). Observation Blogger. Lifelong learner and blogging enthusiast. Matthew is an Australian who lives in Colombia with his family. I think he’s currently in permanent lockdown – the poor bugger. He posts interesting stuff about music and things. The bits I like most are his introductions to Latin American music, singers, and songs.

c). Lisa of arlingwords blogs about a number of things, but mainly about her communal garden in Washington DC where she creates produce for the poor and gets eaten out by wild and pernicious rabbits.

d). European Origins. As a (lily) white Caucasian I enjoy Marcel’s blog and dream about my European ancestral lineage! I hope I’m allowed to…

e). Sweet Life Kitchens. Noel presents country-style cooking and baking. I like it because it gives a few ideas and shows how to cook things without a million pop-ups and ads that have now taken over recipe sites. This is good stuff!

Now I have provided no questions because these are not nominations but recommendations. But if so desired then recommended bloggers can answer the same five questions no doubt more satisfyingly than my response!

Thanks again to The Dumbest Blogger for his kindness in nominating me.

Here’s a picture of my washing to let you know that despite all I’ve said, it’s a cow of a life.