Category Archives: Creative

1870. Quotations and Announcement

I said a day ago that this week I’d do a couple of self-indulgent postings. This is the second. It could be fun, since it will rightly never be done in real life, to pretend astonishing fame and glean quotations from various theatre plays I’ve written over the years and present them as if in a quotation anthology!

No sooner were these words out (and this is true!) then an email arrived saying that six of my poems had been selected by a publisher in Wisconsin for an international anthology! I had been invited last November to submit some poems. More about that at a later date. Thank goodness my portrait shown below had already been hung in the National Vallery otherwise I’d need to go for a more pretentious look. In fact I had a terrible time taking the selfie this morning while everyone was still asleep. I didn’t want anyone to see and think that vanity was a motivation. My right hand is on the computer mouse to press the button. What a relief I had a post-lockdown haircut yesterday. But enough about me – here’s more about me!

Famous Quotations by Cloven Ruminant
whose portrait hangs in the National Vallery

I don’t know fancy names for coffee. Just give me the stuff with the fluff on. – Café Play (1998)

It’s a great mystery – how we pass by. It’s sort of… meaningless. – River Songs (1994)

I just killed what would have become the ancestor of the first intelligent moth. – Here Legends Lie (1993)

There was no need for you to tell me that what I was doing was a waste of time. I have to do something. – Voyage in a Boat (1989)

A real man does shrimp cocktails and garlic bread. No, no. Not my Arnold. Over done. Over boiled. – Deep End (1992)

So you’ll be sitting on the veranda in the still of the evening will you, barely changed from your wedding gown, and be admiring each other’s brains? – Cloud Mother (1990)

There’s a great silence before a funeral. As if heaven waits to let them in. – Sheer Silence (1999)

Just because I say I want two budgerigars doesn’t mean to say I want two blue ones. – Café Play (1998)

It was a satire – like “King Lear”. – Zachustra (1993)

I’ll not be sitting here day after day taking all this muck from two tarts when you could be up in the rigging swinging with a sailor and doing whatever it is your profession demands. – Cloud Mother (1990)

It’s all very well for Thingy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to fall in love with Who-dacky by taking a bit of stuff but with… you think I’m wandering don’t you? – Um (1997)

There’s so little we know. About what goes on. It’s best to be guilty. – The Chimney (1996)

All straight lines in the universe are human lines – have you noticed? – and I can’t stay on a straight line. Straight lines are perfection, and I can’t be perfect. I can’t. – Secundus (1992)

I don’t want a happy marriage. I want a tragic marriage. It’s very fashionable. – Fishbone in the Blancmange (1997)

Although he was computer savvy, he died drunk, unhappy, friendless, twisted and embittered. – Weave a Web Blog (2020)not from a play but I thought I’d throw it in because it’s rather amazing to discover that it’s more than 20 years since I wrote a play. The “quotation” is not biographical!

Thanks for reading. There’s over 60 plays (I think) if anyone these days ever wants to do one!

1869. Water tank winter walk

A little while back (in fact last week!) I took the dog and headed for a winter walk to the water tank on the nearby highest hill. The water tank gravity feeds all the troughs on the farm. The farmer had told me that the best view around was from the water tank. He also said to take the tractor. But the dog needed a run so walking it was!

I set out from my house. In the photo you can hardly see the tank on top of the hill.

The path starts almost on the flat. We pass the old, disused woolshed, the corner of which you can see in the picture above. The farm used to be a sheep farm, but now it’s all cattle. Hence the disused shed for shearing sheep.

The last flat bit before the hill!

The upward track begins.

We pass a gladed valley!

There’s a herd of grazing cows, and a pile of baleage. For those who don’t know:
Hay = cut grass dried in the sun and baled.
Silage = cut grass compacted and stored in a silo (like a pit in the ground) without being dried.
Baleage = cut grass of a relatively high moisture content that is baled with a round baler and then sealed in plastic to keep oxygen out.

The native trees stay green all year; the introduced trees are bare – except for the pines.

There are a number of small dams. Someone likes them!

Suddenly a corner is turned and the volcano, Mount Taranaki, comes into full view. My photo simply doesn’t do the scene justice! Let’s hope it won’t erupt! Click on the photo for a full picture.

The climb goes higher. Another volcano, Mount Ruapehu, appears in the distance. (Difficult to see in the photo but the mountain seems much “closer” in real life!)

The climb continues. Almost there!

Arrival! But… I didn’t come to see the tank!

I came to see the view! My house is shown by the arrow! Click on the photo for a full picture without the arrow! Isn’t it amazing how the Vikings must have come here and buried so many of their ships? Hence all the hillocks!

It’s easier going down! (Note the Corona no-haircut lockdown look! The most difficult part of the walk wasn’t having to walk uphill – it was the difficulty of having to maintain social distancing in such a people-riddled environment.)

Thank you for walking with me and the dog. May your day erupt into joy!

(Note: During the coming week I’m going to post two or three “stories” that involve myself. It gives a bit of padding to the blog, and anyway, when you’ve got fame and fortune hanging out your ears, you can do what you like…!)

1868. Liberation

Velma Clout was having a bad morning. It wasn’t twenty-four hours since her boyfriend of eighteen months had left her. And what a relief it was. But the morning saw her with a mighty headache and a massive hangover. She had celebrated the boyfriend’s rejection with a wee bottle of wine or two. Honestly, his leaving was what she herself had wanted to do for a good several months but she was too nice. But now it had happened and there was no going back. If only she had celebrated with more restraint and then she could enjoy his absence without feeling like death warmed up.

Her cell phone rang.

It was her boyfriend of eighteen months. Did she want to get back together? He was upset. He had made a mistake. He knew only too well that Velma wouldn’t have the heart to say “No!”

“Yes!” said Velma. “I’ll see you here for lunch.”

Oh why did she do that? Why why why? Why was she so stupid? So silly? So weak? Why why why? Why couldn’t she take a stand?

Suddenly, grabbing a bag of stuff and her purse, Velma got in her car and headed for a day’s outing at the beach. It was for her the first independent thing she had done in ages. She was now the one doing the breaking up; not him. Oh the freedom that went with that! Velma wound down the car window and sang her heart out fortissimo. It was 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover all the way to the seaside.

1867. The life of a grasshopper sucks

(Note to faithful followers: After 7 years I’ve fiddled around with the “About” section, so it’s different in places. Some of you over the years have kindly given likes and some have kindly commented. If you want to change your comment or like because of the changes in the page please feel free. I’m happy (though sad) to delete your comment if you would want that. P.S. There’s no nudity on the page.)

Quite frankly the life of a grasshopper sucks. I’ve spend all summer hopping from dahlia flower to dahlia flower. I can eke out a living by sipping a bit of the scant amount of nectar in each bloom. Apparently that process helps with the fertilization of the seed head as well, but the lady who thinks she owns the garden keeps coming out of the house with secateurs and cutting the dead seed heads off. I feel redundant and useless.

And now look at me. Everything is dead and shrivelled up. There’s hardly a sip of anything left to survive on. I know I’ll die before winter is over, simply because of cold and starvation. Here’s a photo of me on a dead branch of Jerusalem artichoke.

As I said, it’s no fun being a grasshopper. There were three of us in this garden at the start of last summer and then there were two – just me and Mrs. Grasshopper. We had a clutch of eggs and out popped a multitude of offspring. One by one they seemed to disappear. There was a lot of competition for food, and sometimes I wondered if Mrs. Grasshopper wasn’t eating her own babies. But in the end I decided that was not the case. We’re not humans. We act responsibly. And then suddenly Mrs. Grasshopper herself disappeared.

The problem is our colour. We’re bright green and stick out like a sore thumb once the foliage dies off. Some insects change colour and survive, but we have not been blessed with that know-how. I suspect the local song thrush may have got Mrs. Grasshopper. That wretched thrush has been hanging around for months. It might be responsible for the missing children as well. There’s no warning. The thrush’s appetite seems to be voracious. It’s rapacious and vociferous. One minute you’re there looking for nectar and the next minute you’re

Music 352: Dancing in wet sand while wearing a mask

Happy 4th of July to my USA friends!

This piece of music today was a lockdown composition. I grew tired of hearing that one could walk on wet sand but not on dry sand, like we were cats looking for the “kitty-litter”.

[For those who like a more academic approach to music listening (and presumably in this case it’s not many of you because these things don’t matter!) this piece of music is not spontaneously played upon a keyboard. I took a 12-tone serial row by Arnold Schoenberg, made a grid out of it, and composed using only the diagonals on the grid. Whatever!]

Anyways – it brightened my day. I hope it brightens yours!

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

Poem 94: More blazing than the sun

The song I heard you singing falls more blazing than the sun.
The woodlark in the coppice calls more blazing than the sun.

It’s little things that seem to joy our peace-filled days and yet
any sullen silence quick-galls more blazing than the sun.

Children frolic on back garden lawns with shrieks of laughter,
and then a bee stings one who bawls more blazing than the sun.

Wings of butterflies, rasps of crickets, hung webs of spiders,
the ordered world of ants, enthrall more blazing than the sun.

The distant haze of blue, line-dancing mountains row on row
makes late afternoons stop and stall more blazing than the sun.

The tiny flower, unnoticed, hidden, nameless, lost, unknown,
outshines the fields of peonies tall, more blazing than the sun.

And Bruce, his song so incomplete without your voice to sing,
entrusts you hear his words, though small, more blazing than the sun.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

1866. The final meal

Troy Meadowcroft had waited on death row for what seemed like an eternity. He was due to be put down (in a merciful and humane way) any day now. The newspapers were full of it. The guests to witness his electrocution had been invited and were currently selecting what to wear before heading in that direction, looking at last to be able to avenge their loved ones murder.

One of the more interesting features reported on was the prisoner’s final meal. One could order (within reason) what one wished. Troy had never liked complicated food. He requested simply pork sausages and French fries with splashes of malt vinegar and salt.

Letter One: I was amazed at the reported menu of Troy Meadowcroft prior to his execution. You would think humanity would have dragged itself out of the swamp by now. Pork sausages and French fries! How irresponsible is that for the prison to allow (in fact espouse) such unhealthy food? Are there no principles left when the prison authorities care not a hoot about prisoners’ health? And all that salt! Goodness me!

Letter Two: My religion forbids the imbibing of hog meat. I was horrified at the casual attitude taken by giving the prisoner pork sausages, as if such things didn’t matter. It was nothing short of scandalous. It was an affront to all sincere believers. And to feed a prisoner pig meat when so close to death is an instant invitation to the fires of Hell. I was deeply offended.

Letter Three: I couldn’t help but think that the man called Troy Meadowcroft who was put down recently had a touch of class. No one these days thinks of putting malt vinegar on their pork sausages. It is delicious, and something we used to do frequently when we were younger. Three cheers to the prisoner, and I would wish him a long and fruitful existence of enjoying life’s simple things if that was still possible.

Letter Four: Quite frankly I hope the prisoner choked on his pork sausage. The combination of foods looked disgusting – especially the salt and malt vinegar. I’m normally against the death penalty but in this case I’ll make an exception. The world is certainly better off without him and probably safer. People these days, especially those with money, have no sense of taste. Like my auntie.

Letter Five: What a waste of good food. People don’t seem to realize that people are starving and all we hear about is how a prisoner about to expire anyway is fed pork sausages and French fries. If only they had electrocuted the man a few minutes earlier, and then all that lovely food could have been shared by people in need. Waste not, want not.

Letter Six: Electrocution and lethal injection for condemned prisoners is nothing short of the authorities taking the easy way out. In the old days when we lined people up against a wall to get shot I would imagine you could see the terror in their eyes. They were paying properly for their crime. Regarding the final meal; wouldn’t it have been funny if instead of pork sausages they had stuffed cotton wool inside the sausage skins? Then the man would start to hoe into his final meal and it would all be fake. And use garden fertilizer instead of salt. And French fries made out of chicken poo or something hilarious like that. Stuff like that. You know.

Editor: This correspondence is now closed.

1865. Early shopping

(Dear Faithful and truly-tried Readers – sometimes it’s rainy and dull outside (it is winter here) and blogging takes on the flavour of the weather. So since I’m twiddling my thumbs I thought I’d go silly for a time – which is why my nomenclature on this blog is now Cloven Ruminant. (You can still call me Bruce – and anyway, Cloven Ruminant is better than Split-hoofed Cud-chewer). Quite a number of excellent bloggers are configured in a pseudonym so I thought I’d do the same and free myself from the shackles of expectation. Those shackles of expectation can at times be nullifying to ones creativity, so I’m breaking free! One never knows what riff-raff the cat might drag in when using another name. Incidentally, the goat gravatar is not a selfie but a picture of Billy my Goat. I’m younger and more beautiful. Anyway, here’s today’s story. Thanks – Cloven Ruminant).

Goodness! It was only July and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

As each gift was purchased, Malvina would wrap it carefully in Christmas paper and pencil the name of the person-to-receive. One year she had attached little cards to the gifts with the person’s name, but by the time Christmas arrived some of the cards had fallen off and she had to open the gifts to see who should get what. These days, as it neared Christmas, she would attach name cards.

And so it was! Here it was in July and already the Christmas shopping was done, the gifts were wrapped and well-hidden in a suitcase at the back of her bedroom closet. She had to hide things particularly well because all seventeen grandchildren were budding sleuths. So far, thankfully, they had never ventured into her bedroom closet.

Goodness! It was only September and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

Goodness! It was nearly Christmas and Malvina hadn’t even started her Christmas shopping. Usually she shopped for gifts throughout the year, but this year the time had flown. “I don’t know where the time goes to,” she said. She thought she had bought some gifts earlier, but she couldn’t find them. Usually she hid the gifts in a box in the cupboard in her garage but there was nothing there. How the years melded into one another. She must have shopped for the previous year!

1864. An unsolved murder

The murder of Octavius Snickenbough was in all the papers. It was in all the papers not because it was a murder (goodness knows, murders are so common these days they could hardly be considered newsworthy) but because of who Octavius Snickenbough was.

Octavius Snickenbough was the local vicar who, despite having being married to a lovely wife for many a year, had singlehandedly fathered three children on the one night, all born in the same local maternity hospital on the same day, and all registered by different mothers with the information on the father recorded as “Octavius Snickenbough, Vicar”.

It had turned Octavius overnight, on the one hand, into a folk hero, and on the other hand, into a fiend. And now, several weeks after the births his body was discovered lying murdered in the sands of the local beach. The beach was in a sheltered bay and most popular over the summer months. The sand was a mass of hundreds of footprints going in all directions, so the murderer’s footprints going to and from the body were indecipherable.

Clearly, Octavius Snickenbough had been chopped to death by a tomahawk. In fact, it was patently obvious because a tomahawk, the kind used to split firewood kindling, was still protruding from the crown of his head.

Naturally, the three mothers of the three new-borns were questioned by the police, as indeed was Octavius’s wife. None could offer any information that caste the slightest light on the situation.

This all happened several months ago, and the police are no closer to solving the mystery and making an arrest. The closed beach has subsequently reopened, and parishioners seem to rejoice in the appointment of the new vicar whose homilies are considerably shorter than those once offered by the late Reverend Octavius Snickenbough. Rather fortuitously, the new vicar has his own house, so Mrs. Snickenbough is more than welcome to continue to live in the old vicarage. After all, why should it remain empty when it is warm and welcoming, and suitable enough for a lone widow to live comfortably? The potbellied stove in the kitchen is a little old-fashioned but Mrs. Snickenbough doesn’t mind that – once she gets a new tomahawk to split the kindling.

1863. Late winter

It was winter – late winter – and Athol went walking. The trees were bare; the ground had mounds of rotting leaves.

Athol kicked the piles of leaves as he walked. It may have still been winter but a mellow breeze blew the loose leaves in swirls. Athol sat on a log and thought. Just before the leaves began to fall his world was a different place. He was secure in his job; secure in his family; secure in his life.

Now all had gone – no job, no family, no life. The world had changed in harmony with the season. There was no hope. He should stop pretending that things would return to normal. Things wouldn’t. He should try to move on – but how and to where?

In front of him was a broken branch. It must have snapped in a winter storm. The snapped branch looked like the head of a crocodile! Ferocious! Fearful!

Athol moved on; he couldn’t sit and mope forever. He kicked another pile of leaves. It exposed a little frog nestling itself from the winter. It was asleep. It was waiting for the warmth of spring. It would die once exposed to fierce winter elements. Athol covered the frog over with protective dead leaves.

He went on his way.