Devon lived alone. It was the depth of winter, and it happened to be his birthday.
Devon had meticulously planned his solo celebration. He made a steak and kidney pie (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions) and a lemon and honey cheesecake (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions). To go with it, he had purchased a big can of Trappist Lager (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions).
The log fire was blazing. Devon laid his pyjamas, slippers, and dressing gown near the fire so they would be warm and cosy when he got out of the shower.
In the shower he sang “Happy Birthday to Me” at the top of his voice, dried himself and walked naked (who cares when one lives alone?) to the fireplace.
Maxine was right-handed, but for some inexplicable reason, when eating an ice cream in a cone, she always held it in her left hand. An ice cream was the only thing she used her left hand for and she had no idea why.
Suddenly! One day! Out of the blue! While eating an ice cream in the park! Maxine was approached by a man with a microphone. The local television station was doing some sort of promotion and the man had been sent to grab the first left-handed person he saw, give them five hundred dollars, and ask them to be part of a left-handers’ television competition.
Five hundred dollars! Maxine couldn’t resist!
The first thing she had to do – there were two other left-handed competitors – was to have a game of darts. Maxine had never played darts in her life. She threw the darts at the board indiscriminately with her left hand. She won! The other two were useless!
The next thing they had to do was to thread a needle. Maxine couldn’t see the needle eye, let alone use her wrong hand to poke the cotton through. But! She did it! She won! She won!
The other two contestants broke down in tears. They admitted ashamedly that they were really right-handers in for the money. Maxine was horrified. How dare they! How dare they! Deceit, she declared to the television camera, is rampant in the world today.
It is possibly my greatest achievement; certainly the thing I have done in life that makes me most proud. And yet, it was such a simple thing; a nothing really. It does one good to do something decent once in a while.
It was just a holiday job, working in the library at a university in Dublin where I was studying for a degree in mechanical engineering. My main task was to shelve the returned books. I suspect they hired me because I’d be more than useful fixing the squeaky wheels on the book trolleys! I was desperate to get the job because of this good catholic girl who worked in the library part-time.
Anyway, we were a bit behind in the re-shelving so we stayed longer after closing time, and me and Cassandra were just having our third coffee when this thief appeared. Students steal books like they’re going out of fashion. He had a stolen book under his arm, and I was lucky enough to be able to wrench the book from him and smash him over the head with it. The book was wrecked (it fell into a hundred pieces) but I stopped the thief and saved the day. Anyway, what’s one book in a library of tens of thousands? I was amazed how the book fell apart; disintegrated. Publishing standards these days have certainly slipped. The Book of Kells or something.
It’s such a sad indictment of our modern, and by modern I mean say roughly in the last hundred and fifty years, education system which, unlike that experienced by great stylists such as John Ruskin, Lytton Strachey and Charles Kingsley, and even Cardinal Newman although he ever so slightly dirtied his copybook by going over to Rome, was the norm and produced writers with flair who knew how to write both with a flourish and with something to say, and I am including Charles Dickens in that list although he was something of a popularist in reality, rather like William Makepeace Thackeray possibly, to say nothing of the women who wrote, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontes, and George Eliot, although being women they wrote with style but very little depth of thought, has produced few who can compose with skill and in a manner that highlights beautifully the intricacies of the English language not in simple subject-verb-object sentences but writing that is both complex and striking, for unfortunately the contemporary reader appears to have the inability not to comprehend anything longer than three words in a sentence and that neither hand-writen nor corectly speled.
Kay worked in a supermarket. She was pretty intelligent but not exactly Madame Curie. Still, she maintained a wide collection of interests, read voraciously, and had an insatiable curiosity, not for gossip, but for knowledge.
There was something, however, that she could not understand.
“I cannot,” bemoaned Kay, “understand modern poetry. There’s only one thing for it; I shall attend a series of classes on Creative Poetry Writing.”
Off she went. In the first class, the lecturer gave them a task to complete for the second class. They were to write a poem – nothing too long – entitled “Rain”. This is what Kay wrote: