Tag Archives: flash

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

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.

1861. Strange goings-on

Una was one of a kind! She worked as a professional photographer. Well, sort of. That’s what she had posted on the sign on her office door: Una Devereux, Professional Photographer. If the truth be known, she didn’t even own a camera. The sign on the door was a cover-up for what was really going on in her office.

If anyone knocked on her door to make an enquiry about getting a photo taken, Una would say, “Dear me, I’d love to, but I’m utterly swamped with work at present.” Of course, if they knocked on the door to enquire about other matters that would be a different thing altogether.

Una always arrived at her work place late; it was usually mid-morning. She was gone by mid-afternoon. Occasionally, and it was very rare, she would return for a few minutes in the evening.

For all of these comings and goings we have a fairly reliable witness; Zita Pfahlert had an office in the same building right opposite to Una’s door, and Zita worked long hours as a dressmaker. She couldn’t help but notice Una’s movements.

Zita was pretty sure that Una didn’t work as a professional photographer, so she got her cousin, Milly (who was unknown to Una), to knock on Una’s door and ask about having a photo taken. “Dear me, I’d love to,” said Una, “but I’m utterly swamped with work at present.”

So with that, Zita was none the wiser. Zita thought of breaking into Una’s office to sniff things out. She thought better of it, although she did try her own key once in Una’s door. All with no luck.

Then one day, Una didn’t turn up at her office at all. There was nothing unusual in that. Her absence lasted a week. Zita at first presumed that Una was away on vacation. Things stretched out to two weeks; then three; then four. Una never came back.

Zita never did find out what really happened behind Una’s office door. And nor shall we. It’s a good lesson to us in minding our own business.

1859. A page in history

(The following is a translation of Page 276 from a history book, published in the year of what we would have at some stage numbered 2084AD. Incidentally, the translation was made and pre-posted on Word Press over two months ago!)

When President Yáng Xiùlán Qiáng discovered North America (now called New China) the voyage was based on calculations presuming the world was round. The sphericalness of the planet was initially devised by the calculations of that early Chinese mathematician, Yáng Fāng Lì, over five thousand years ago.

All hail to Yáng Xiùlán Qiáng
Who expanded the borders of the world
And brought enlightenment to the people of New China.

The statue of President Khổng Xiùlán Qiáng, which graces what was once known as the Lincoln Memorial, is a replica of his image on Mt Rushmore – once the old images on Mt Rushmore had been dynamited off. The statue in the capital, New Beijing, was erected to commemorate our great leader’s initiative in curing cancer and also being the first person to walk on Mars.

Together we will work for the common good, striving to put into practice the dictates of the United Nations: All are created equal once the world has been purged of tyranny and once those who espoused non-compliant views have been silenced.

All hail to Yáng Xiùlán Qiáng
Who expanded the borders of the world
And brought enlightenment to the people of New China.

Footnote: President Yáng Xiùlán Qiáng recently approved the erection of a giant statue of herself to replace the Washington Monument. It is to celebrate her change of name to Yáng Xiùlán Qiáng from

(continued on next page – page 277)

1858. Jack the giant killer

Jack the Giant Killer is an English fairy tale and legend about a young adult who slays a number of bad giants during King Arthur’s reign. The tale is characterised by violence, gore and blood-letting. Giants are prominent in Cornish folklore, Breton mythology and Welsh Bardic lore. Some parallels to elements and incidents in Norse mythology have been detected in the tale, and the trappings of Jack’s last adventure with the Giant Galigantus suggest parallels with French and Breton fairy tales such as Bluebeard. Jack’s belt is similar to the belt in The Valiant Little Tailor, and his magical sword, shoes, cap, and cloak are similar to those owned by Tom Thumb or those found in Welsh and Norse mythology.

Jack and his tale are rarely referenced in English literature prior to the eighteenth century (there is an allusion to Jack the Giant Killer in Shakespeare’s King Lear, where in Act 3, one character, Edgar, in his feigned madness, cries, “Fie, foh, and fum,/ I smell the blood of a British man”). Jack’s story did not appear in print until 1711. It is probably an enterprising publisher assembled a number of anecdotes about giants to form the 1711 tale. One scholar speculates the public had grown weary of King Arthur – the greatest of all giant killers – and Jack was created to fill his shoes. Henry Fielding, John Newbery, Samuel Johnson, Boswell, and William Cowper were familiar with the tale.

“Mummy, could you just get on with reading the story?”

1856. The fart cushion

Hilton was a little bit surprised when he opened his birthday present from Jude. Jude had been a life-long friend but lived far away. They still remembered each other’s birthdays and would send gifts through the mail. This year Jude had sent Hilton one of those trick fart cushions that you put on a chair and it sounds like someone farts loudly when they sit on it.

A fart cushion – or a whoopee cushion, whatever they’re called these days – was funny the first time; like back in 1842AD when Hilton saw (or rather heard) his first one. These days they were about as funny as a tetraplegic in a three-legged race. Why Jude had sent him one for his birthday was anyone’s guess.

Hilton wrote to Jude thanking him for his gift. Ha ha ha! said Hilton. It was great fun thank you. He fooled his three year old grandson who thought it was a scream. And so, Jude, it brought much joy on my birthday!

Hilton never worked out why Jude had sent him such a stale trick that was both useless and unfunny, and Jude never said. Which possibly explains why none of us, dear Reader, have the slightest clue either.

1854. Lone tree

I was walking through the fields quite casually, just looking. I had my digital camera with me. The local Photography Society was holding a competition. The prize was a super-duper digital camera. The subject was “Trees”.

There were a number of categories, all to do with trees. There was a category for forests, one for lone trees, one for native trees, one for introduced species of tree, one for dead trees. There was also a category for a video of a tree, which I wasn’t going to enter because although I’d had my camera for quite a while, and the camera had the facility to take videos, I’d never got around to learning what buttons to press. The capturing of a video was beyond my technical ability!

I wasn’t having much luck photographing trees because there really were no interesting trees about. Suddenly, just above the gnarled top of an old cedar, as I was focusing, a fleet of alien space craft appeared. They were in convoy. I suppose there were six of them. I took as many photographs as possible; after all, my digital camera can take hundreds of photographs without getting full. The experience was thrilling!

That is the last thing I remember of that incident.

I awoke in the same field, in the same place. When I got home I discovered that a whole two months had passed; I had missed two months. Clearly I had not been lying unconscious in the field the whole of that time. The experience was disorienting; kind of wonky. I really didn’t know what to do; who to tell. If I told anyone of the experience they would smile and say “Yeah right” meaning I was talking nonsense. So I kept quiet about it.

When a little later I downloaded the photographs on my camera onto my computer (it was now too late to enter the competition) there were the photographs of the alien convoy I had seen. They were blurry as photos of alien craft always are. But as well as that there were seventeen clear photographs and a video that I had not taken myself.

Oh my word! Oh goodness gracious! I have never seen scenes so breath-taking. It was sheer beauty. It was indescribable. Here was my chance to show other people, and then perhaps my strange experience would be believed.

The first time I went to show the photographs they were no longer there; they had disappeared, on both my camera and computer. I can still see the wonder of those photos in my mind’s eye. Extraordinary! There can be no doubt that I was abducted. The aliens had clearly fiddled with the camera in perhaps a futile attempt to understand what the contraption was for.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the Photography Society asking when was I going to pick up the digital camera I had won? I can tell you, as honestly as the day is long, I never entered that competition. Ever.