In Tandem

a flash-fiction prompt

“Oh, Gerald! Can’t we slow down? I think I’ve swallowed a fly.”

“But Gertie, dearest, the thrill of the enterprise is in the speed! We’ll soon be out of town and into the countryside; then you’ll appreciate it, you’ll see!”

“I fear there will be awful mud, and bottomless potholes, and other horrid things.”

“You just hold on to the bars, dear, and you’ll avoid heading the road – if I have cause to stop rather suddenly!”

In Gertrude’s dreams, she relived the moment when Edward had hinted at wedlock. He’s something in the City now; a financier, a close friend had suggested. He not only owned a new motor car but had a fellow in uniform to drive it. Edward had called one day to speak with her father; but Father had persuaded him against it.

“He’s simply not for the likes of us, my girl,” he’d said when she’d asked afterwards.

“Hold on tight now, Gertie!” Catching sight of a scattering of steaming horse excrement in the road ahead did nothing to kindle her enthusiasm.

(176 words)

A found picture prompt. I read an interesting history on the bicycle (and tricycle) social revolution in Britain around 1900s. Cycling became a very fashionable recreation amongst the upper middle class and the gentry.

The photo came up on my Pinterest suggestions yesterday. I think it shows a man who’s a member of a cycling club – judging by his cap and cap badge – and his lady wife, out on a leisurely day’s outing on what would have been a costly contraption in the day – a tandem tricycle.

“Heading (the road)”, in early cyclist parlance, was the process of going clear over the handlebars when coming to an abrupt halt, according to the book.

Considering the nuance between mystery and just plain esoteric.

“‘you seen the cat, Erwin?” asked Mrs. Schrödinger, spooning out its Whiskas.

“I’m sorry to say it may have died,” said Schrödinger.

Mrs. Schrödinger thought, “funny, he seemed exceptionally ebullient yesterday,” and, looking to the window, said,


“Only possibly,” said Schrödinger.

(42 words)

Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story on “Mystery”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #19 Mystery

photo: by Elena Kloppenburg via


a flash-fiction prompt

There was little blood; a mere trickle, long since dried, on his lips.


“He’s missing two teeth. Front incisors.”

“Anything on his person?”

“No ID; wallet’s empty; but there’s this card…”

The Inspector took it gingerly,

24-HOUR DENTIST. House calls made.

(42 words)

Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story on “Crime”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #6 Crime


a flash-fiction prompt

In the attic; inside the perspex box a mouse huddled motionless beside the chocolate bait, imprisoned.

“Gotcha!” Keith exclaimed. He gingerly reached for the device; the mouse moved!

Keith jumped back, knocking the access ladder down and dropped his flashlight; busted!


(42 words)

Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story for “Trapped”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #36 Trapped

Master and servant

a flash-fiction prompt

What started with suspicion became contempt. Three days, he hadn’t performed the chores: removing the trash; vacuuming floors; tidying the lubricants. There’s something wrong with its circuitry?

Consulting the manual: Human; early non-mechanoid, highly inefficient. Clearly, the soft one needed terminating.

(42 words)

master & servant

Can a Sci-fi story be written in 42 words? That’s the prompt. I saw this following a friend of a friend. And I haven’t tried a prompt in a while…

Check out the link for more entries,

Twenty Four 42 Words #29 Sci-fi

Fibbing Friday

I can feel it combing in the hair tonight, oh lord!

It’s Fibbing Friday and the teasers are posed this week on Thoughts and Theories.

Be sure to follow the link for more answers!

Runner-up in the 1997 Phil Collins Look-alike Tournament and winner of the Peter Gabriel 2005 Don’t Look Now But Isn’t That…? Contest, it’s resident Moon Rising polymath, Wilfred Z. Combover III


What do the abbreviations, B.C. and A.D. stand for?

Bring Cake! And Donuts!

What do the abbreviations, B.C.E. and C.E. stand for?

Bring Chocolate Eclairs! Chocolate Eclairs! (the cakes you brought last time weren’t my favourites).

What event triggered the start of the U.S. Civil War?

A starting pistol.

What were “The Wars of the Roses?”

This was a conflict between the house of Yorkshire and the house of Lancashire which was the house in the street where the Joneses lived. You could hear them argue through the walls all night long. One year, the Lancashires had had enough, sold up and moved home, followed a year later by the Yorkshires.

Where was the Kingdom of Prussia located?

Well, coincidentally, it was between the house of Lancashire and the house of Yorkshire. Providing you went the other way around the globe. And why wouldn’t you, to avoid the Joneses?

When you think about it, anywhere is between any two other places on the globe, if you go the right way around, and that’s the basis on which car satellite navigation works.

According to the account in Genesis, what happened at the Tower of Babel?

[Gen:137:1-3] And lo! Did Peter of Gabriel say, “I’m off to pursue a solo career!”, and the others sayeth, “which among us who is left can sing?” and they looketh upon the small drummer man and spake, “though this man did not go to university and is of lower standing, let him sing in Gabriel’s place!” But the Lord did curse them and made them both bald in later life.

What artistic style is Pablo Picasso famous for?

Painting women’s portraits by spying on them from around corners.

January 6th was two days ago. What makes it special?

It was the day before yesterday, which doesn’t have a special word to describe it. Nor does the day after tomorrow. Someone must have fallen down on the job when they were asked to invent English.

In the comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes, who or what is Hobbes?

Who or what? A who? or a what? Hobbes is Calvin’s cellmate (a cartoonist gag there!) He is just existential lines really.

The song, “Home on the Range” asks for a home where what two animals play?

Bacon features a lot on our kitchen range. As does eggs. The answer must be a chicken and a pig!

Evening Flamingoes

a flash-fiction piece

We were three hours from Crystal Springs when we hit traffic. Ryan is mad as hell; seething; switching the radio frantically and aimlessly from station to station, then snaps it off, finally. He grumbles on; I tune out.

Outside, the sun is setting; the cooling sky already apricot and pink, contesting the rising intensity of tail lights nearer the ground. The silhouettes of tall palms and the pinkness of the sky remind me of wading birds: plump feathered bodies perched high on a single slender leg. They say that flamingoes get their colour from the brine shrimps they eat; it’s the high beta-carotene within the little fishes; it turns into vitamin-A which is good for night vision; I wonder how flamingoes get on after dark.

And will we see Crystal Springs this evening? And will there be time for dinner? Thinking of shrimps has given me the munchies now, and the sky has taken on the creamy hue of raspberry ripple ice cream, topped with cherries. Ryan is quiet now, I notice.

“Is there a drive-in restaurant around here?” I ask.

“I know exactly what you’re thinking,” he says, “a nice juicy burger, with fries!”

“That’ll do me,” I say, though I will insist on dessert afterwards.

It’s gone quite dark now and my tall birds are becoming indistinguishable against the murky skyline. The tail lights dominate, like hot coals under a barbecue. Have I ever felt this famished before? I’m not sure I have.

a flash-fiction piece prompted by Paula Light of Light Motifs II – Tuesday Story 5 .

“3 unrelated photos and your job is to connect them in any order to write a story.”

Share Your World

Melanie of Sparks from a Combustible Mind asks to Share Our World with some interesting questions.

Be sure to pop over to her place and see other replies.

Here are my answers,


What’s a relationship deal breaker for you?

I’m not sure if this is for a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship. In either case, I don’t enjoy working hard at it. If I feel as if getting to know and like a person is hard work, it’s a turn off.

Do you believe in extra-terrestrials?

No, not a bit. For a long time I’ve been interested and fascinated by how life developed on Earth and the sheer complexity of the system required, not just to produce life but protect and sustain it, and then allow it to develop into complex forms which are symbiotic. The chances of it happening elsewhere and relatively close by are truly remote.

In the morning, do you hit the snooze button on your alarm (sometimes repeatedly) or do you leap out of bed, ready to face the day?

I used to hit the snooze button though it was set for fifteen minutes before needing to get up. These days, I don’t use an alarm but I like to get up and dressed reasonably early. I’m very much a breakfast man. After breakfast, I’m ready for anything.

If you came back in the next life as an animal, which animal would you choose to be? (and even if you don’t believe in that, let’s suspend belief for a moment just to have a little fun)

I don’t believe in the afterlife or reincarnation but it’s fascinating to think how other animals might view the world. I would be a hawk – in England, my favourite is a buzzard but I know that’s the name of an entirely different bird in the US. Buteo buteo is the latin name of my bird. It circles high on thermals, hardly ever needing to flap its wings. Its eyesight is acute; it has a sort of telescopic nature to its eye lens. It can spot a mouse from a thousand feet. But it’s the ability to fly unaided which would fascinate me.

What do you plan to work on this year to make it better than last year (personal goals, physically or mentally, or all three)?

I plan to get our house in order (literally), get some order into our gardens, get back on my bike with a notion to deserve an upgraded model, and hopefully find time to do some art.

12 Questions for January ‘21 (part three)

Rory’s Twelve Bloggerz Questions this month are quite long ones, and so the answers are going to be long reads!

I’ve answered the first questions previously. Here are the last of the answers.

All answers are off-the-cuff thoughts and may be modified tomorrow. 😀

What is the magical property to Toilet Paper – as in why during the lockdowns is this product always running short – for something which is principally an end product waste service item …. it is considered unhealthily desirable by a panicked population – why/?

What did they do in the Stone Age? I think I read they used smooth pebbles and broad leaves.

Somewhere in history, the West took a wrong turn going for paper, possibly as a refined substitute for pebbles and leaves. Paper is expensive and environmentally destructive. Toilet paper manufacturers have been funding sanitation in developing parts of the world simply to persuade the people to use their loo rolls instead of traditionally washing with soap and a jug of water. It’s saying that smearing excrement residue over your buttocks’ skin is better than washing it off?

If I ran out of paper, I would use water. I wanted to install a bidet a long while back but the wife was against the idea.

Did you acquire any new skills or attributes during the last year as in did you start growing a beard or longer hair, become a hunter or a gardener and fending for yourself and your table or develop a new set of previously hidden muscles or something else?

I sound like a broken record, sorry, but I took up running. I had regularly run before but not for some years. Normally, I enrol in night classes, including yoga for some years, but lockdown put an end to it so I decided to take to running instead.

I have no need of a beard and my hair growing years are behind me. Hunting would involve a gun and I’m a bit averse to them. I already garden.

I liked John Bishop’s story of signing up for a workout course at the gym. The instructor promises him he’ll develop all those muscles he’s never used before, and Bishop says, I’m forty-two; if I haven’t used them yet, I don’t need them.

How many masks do you own and do you wash and clean them on a regular basis or are they not used as much to warrant that – are they disposable or patterned and bespoke made or commercially bought?

I had a bunch of safety dust protection masks already, for when I use power tools, so I’ve been using those. I haven’t had to buy others. I did borrow one of my wife’s surgical type masks on one occasion and mine are better: they fit tighter around the face and nose, and didn’t slip down. You see a lot of people with their nose poking over the top of medical type masks and I think that’s why.

I have kept away from most public places since Covid so haven’t needed many masks.

In fairness ‘online dating ‘ has been around for a long time and was fast becoming one of the most progressive ways to ‘physically date’ – but are the days of old ‘dating and courtship’ now long gone?

Will the new dating game be a snails pace marathon or what is fast becoming termed as “slowed virtual dating” – is the physical side to dating now gone forever?

Don’t ask me, I’ve been happily married for the past thirty-five years.

Funny though, I have thought about it as a “what if?” I can’t recall good things about dating. I went to a single-sex school between the ages of 11 to 18 which didn’t help. Dating was a random exercise, I remember. Girls I liked didn’t seem interested to talk, and girls who liked me never told me outright – all those missed opportunities! Of course, it must be different for adults, especially older ones.

In my view, the one utopian idea in Huxley’s Brave New World was the positive expectation to have sex. Actually, I think it was also in Shogun, Clavell’s historical novel set in Japan. The Japanese nobles couldn’t understand the European coyness about sex. Mind you, the culture was portrayed as a bit one way.

Maybe when you get beyond raising children, it’s either companionship or sex (though maybe financial as well?). Forget hobbies and all that, just put up a photo and say whether you’re looking for sex or companionship or a hand with the cost of living.

During this last year what have you entertained yourself with more – reading, writing, music, films, outdoor activity, new hobbies, a balance of everything, work …or something else?

Reading has been the same – slow.

Writing has been the same – impetuous.

Music. Yes, it has increased through listening while running now, and also having music play through my newish smart speaker while working around the house.

Films – about the same, when I find them.

Outdoor activities – less walking and cycling but a lot more running! New interests – yes, the running.

Work – what’s that? Oh, I think I remember… a bit over-rated, I thought. 😝 [smug smug sorry]

12 Questions for January ‘21 (part two)

Rory’s Twelve Bloggerz Questions this month are quite long ones, and so the answers are going to be long reads!

I’ve answered the first three previously and here are the answers to the next few, and the rest to follow later.

All answers are off-the-cuff thoughts and may be modified tomorrow. 😀

Has Covid awoken the new way forward for our world’s history – as in – is 2021 going to be even more progressive across many industries than all the years previous the pandemic from the arrival of the millenium or do you think the future will still be achieved on the initial pathway it was taking?

I’m not sure about either of those scenarios.

I hope we don’t carry on industrially as we had been simply because of the real threat from climate change. Will Covid have helped in any change? It would be a silver lining.

I feel it will be like the proverbial leaking roof. Everyone is complaining about the rain coming in but as soon as it stops and the sun’s out, everyone soon forgets about the leaking roof.

With the pandemic, our medical services and health departments have been under siege of almost war like scenario’s – doctors, nurses, consultants all have felt the pressures of this last year – the emotional stresses and strains of having to deal with so much loss despite their clinical training and objectiveness.
Our governments who have for decades continued to cut back on medical budgets have been slapped black and blue with this pandemic – and millions of currency has been produced to combat this deadly virus .. millions that were needed for research before but never available – magically appeared …. what do you think the future of our health care will look like from this year onwards?

In the UK, the NHS is virtually sacrosanct. It’s a bit of a monster too, with a lot of unrealistic expectations. I think the pandemic has highlighted the unrealistic nature of expectations but who is taking notice?

It is like a war, in how far does a nation prepare for a war in times of peace? Isn’t it better to invest in peace? Easy to say, hard to persuade people who have unrealistic expectations.

Our very lifestyle has changed this last year, the way we socialise principally replaced with a virtual social environment – whilst there will always be those who ‘break’ the restrictions – they are the minority – the majority try and adhere as safely as possible to the way of life as we now know it today to stop the spread.
This doesn’t mean that ‘outdoorsy’ socialising is dead – it merely means that lifestyle designers and developers must start to really rethink the way we live our lives in a social setting ….. what do you think is the future for the likes of the entertainment industry, retail and hospitality?

I think retail was changing anyway. I think Woolworths, House of Fraser, Arcadia, M&S, and Debenhams show the slow death of traditional High St. shops. It definitely needs a rethink. These big anchor stores were believed to be essential, the real reason shoppers came to town. Would they still come to town to shop without them?

I think the entertainment industry is itching to bounce back once they get the all clear. I think it will too.

Hospitality, in terms of hotels, pubs and restaurants, I don’t know much about it other than it’s a tough sector normally.