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Jarvis Poulter studied the ancient cabinet carefully. It had two doors, ornately carved, in the upper part, three gracefully slender drawers beneath and taloned feet which snatched fiercely at the saleroom floor. Fashioned from olive wood or cedar, it was undeniably scruffy, its corners knocked and cracks showing here and there, but Middle-Eastern in origin and utterly in keeping with the theme he planned for his bedroom. He measured it, squinting through half-moon spectacles at the small figures on his tape (sterling; he never could stand metric). Yes, perfect. Just a little alteration would make of it a wardrobe, and the drawers below would accept his meager collection of sweaters and his nightwear – eminently suitable.

Poulter positioned himself so he might be seen from the rostrum.

“Lot 421, a cabinet, believed to be Moroccan. Fifty for it?” The auctioneer asked.

Silence. Rows of inattentive heads, noses buried in catalogues.

“Forty then. Twenty! Come on, must be worth that?”


“Alright. Last chance. Ten. I’ll not go any lower…”

“Five.” Piped Poulter in his thin nasal voice.

“Got to be ten. Want it?”

Poulter sniffed. “Alright.”

“Ten then. Anybody?” Catalogues shuffled uncomfortably. “Ten it is. Sold.”

Poulter was secretly pleased with the price. He told the auction porter this, as he helped maneuver the cabinet into the back of his pick-up truck.
“Well, you certainly got a lot of tonnage for your money.” The porter grunted, from the heavy end.

Poulter would not enjoy his drive home. Never a natural driver, other traffic terrified him so the quiet roads, before rush hour really started, were a blessing. He felt uneasy, though, because something, somewhere, was knocking.

Was it a wheel bearing? His mechanical sense was no better than his road sense, but someone had told him once that a worn one of those would make a knocking noise. So – was it a wheel bearing? He looked down towards the place where he thought the noisy wheel might be. It could be. It would be another repair bill! His local garage-man would rub his hands together with ill-concealed glee – Poulter was his most gullible customer.


So preoccupied was he with the wheel he had forgotten the road entirely, and the road, with a justifiable dislike of being ignored, left him.

Panic! Hauling on the wheel, Poulter managed to yank the old pick-up back into line. It skidded; it slewed.

It bounced.

With crunch and thud Poulter’s prized cabinet unshipped itself and crashed onto the road. He drew to a halt with a heartfelt groan, hardly daring to confront the consequences of his foolishness by looking in the mirror. When he did, the sight offered little consolation; for there was the cabinet, lying drunkenly upon the tarmac, miraculously undamaged: it was not the cabinet which drew his eye, though. It was the prostrate figure lying half-pinned beneath it!

“Oh, my Sainted Aunt!” Exclaimed Poulter. (Poulter was accustomed to summoning his Sainted Aunt in times of crisis). “I’ve killed someone!”

‘Someone’, however, was still moving. By the time Poulter reached him, his victim, uttering a stream of invective, was wriggling free of the wooden tombstone. A small man of apparent middle age in working overalls, he shouted angrily at Poulter: “Bloody hell! What d’ye think ye’re doing, yer old fool? You bloody near slaughtered me then!”

“I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry!” Poulter jabbered as he dabbed at tears of relief behind a grey handkerchief. “Are you – are you badly hurt?”

“Dunno.” To Poulter’s amazement his victim was clambering to his feet, dusting himself off. “Nay, no harm done, lad! Don’t upset yerse’n, now. But lissen, next time brake before the corner, right? Drive into it, don’t try and brake ‘alf-way round!”

“Yes, yes.” Humbled, Poulter felt he should try to make amends. “Look, can I give you a lift anywhere? Are you going far?”

The little man stared at Poulter intensely for a moment, as if an important decision depended on his answer. “Aye,” He said. “Awreet. But first we’d better get this big coffin of your’n back on t’ truck. Back up, will ye?”

For so small a figure the little man was surprisingly strong, and together he and Poulter managed to restore the cabinet, distressed but entire, to its place in Poulter’s pick-up truck. Poulter drove away with his new passenger sitting, and breathing rather heavily, beside him. A horn sounded its impatience.

“Call me Albert.” Said the little man. “What’s tha name, lad?”

“Oh, I’m – please call me Jarvis.” Poulter rarely revealed his Christian name, but there was something very easy and familiar about Albert. He almost felt he had found a new friend. Jarvis Poulter had few friends. In fact, he reflected as he pulled out onto the main road, he had no friends.

A squeal of brakes; angry shouts; things which happened to Poulter a lot, and for reasons he didn’t entirely understand.

“Bloody Stephen!” Said Albert. “Yer a right twaddy of a driver, Jarvis! Yer nearly mashed that poor lad! He wouldn’t mind so much if ye got going, but ye’r that slow!”

“I am, aren’t I?” Poulter agreed. “I wish I could do it better.”


“I said I wish I could drive quicker.”

Albert tightened his seat belt. All of a sudden, for some reason, Poulter’s foot slipped across to the pick-up’s clutch. His hand flicked down to the gear lever and he dropped a gear. His right foot tweaked the accelerator just enough, and the pick-up answered him with a throaty roar. As his speed in the new gear increased, Poulter eased his steering to the right and pitched into the bend in front of him. The back of the vehicle, notwithstanding the weight upon it, drifted gently. The tyres sang. Ahead, evening traffic was gathering.

“What’s happening?” Poulter cried. His hands, his feet seemed not to belong to him. He was a marionette on mysterious, unseen strings, his limbs dancing over the controls, his balance perfectly attuned to the pick-up’s new-found vigor. “I can’t stop!”

Fifty, sixty, seventy miles an hour, lanes of traffic on each side, yet somehow a path – a snaking, narrow path – between. Eighty, ninety! Now weaving an impossible course, touching gas, brakes, opposite lock on the corners, controlled drift through swerving lane-changes. Sirens, blue flashing lights behind him at first, then receding.

“Lost ‘em!” Albert said triumphantly.

“Help me, please!” Screamed Poulter.

“Nay, lad! Tha’s doing awreet by tha’sen.”

Cars, lorries, buses, traffic great and small flashed by as Poulter, gibbering, clung to the wheel. Traffic lights turned green in fright at his approach, open-mouthed pedestrians and protesting cyclists parted before him like the Red Sea before the staff of Moses, and in a matter of moments the pick-up had come to rest outside Poulter’s home. The engine switched itself off. Frozen in horror, Poulter stared through the windscreen as overheated metal ticked back into shape.

“What have I done? What have I done?”

Albert glanced about him. “Well, I think yer’ve driven ‘ome. This isn’t my ‘ouse, so it must be your’n.” He undid his seat belt. “Right, let’s get this cabinet off t’ back and inside, then ye’d better take the truck soomwheer and park it.” Poulter seemed incapable of movement. “Coom on, son. The filth’ll be round in a minnit!”

“The police? Oh my god!” (Somehow Poulter’s Sainted Aunt was just not adequate on this occasion). “But they’ll trace me! Their computers…”

“Aye, they’re bloody fast nowadays. So it’s a good job y’ reported it stolen yesterday, in’t it? But if yer think about it, t’ thieves aren’t likely to have brought it back to your house, so yer’d better take it soomwheer they might ha’ left it.”

“No! I mean no. You see, I didn’t report it stolen!” Poulter shook his head helplessly.

Albert ‘s leathery face creased in a slow smile. “Aye, lad. Yer did.”

Much later, when Poulter’s cabinet was safely indoors and after the police had visited him with the news they had recovered his vehicle (‘Joyriders, probably sir. We’ll need to hold onto it for forensics for a bit, but you should get it back in a couple of days’) Poulter faced Albert across his kitchen table. With the help of several pills his mood had recovered. “What was it?” He demanded. “You did that to me, didn’t you?”

“I don’t see how yer can say that! You were driving!” Albert replied. “Yer made a wish, didn’t yer? Yer got yer wish.”

Poulter’s laugh was a particularly abrasive, braying sound. “Wish? What wish? Absolute nonsense! You crossed the road without looking! I had to swerve to avoid you. After you collided with my cabinet I was unnerved – and then you were rude and aggressive about my speed. I reacted. That’s why I drove so irresponsibly!” Though this version of events had scant regard for the truth, he rather liked it. It would do no harm to reapportion some of the blame.

“Nay, lad!” Albert said quietly. “Ah weren’t hit by t’cabinet. I were inside it.”

Poulter sniggered. Then Poulter guffawed. Finally, Poulter snorted.

Albert said: “Ah’ve been trapped in theer, lad, I have.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Poulter snapped. “You simply can’t be serious!”

But Albert was serious. And the sincerity written on his face was sufficient to convince. “Yer moost ‘ave heard me knockin’, lad. Yon’ cabinet’s got a false back, see? T’crash loosened it, otherwise there’s no way out.”

Poulter shook his head. “ Oh, really! When did you get in? How long were you in there?”

“About four hundred year this time. That’s if yer stick to t’Gregorian calendar, o’ course.”

A long silence. Eventually, Poulter began to cackle, a noise that was, if anything, even more unpleasant than his snigger, or his guffaw, or his laugh. “Four centuries? Wishes? You’ll be telling me you’re a genie next!”

“Aye lad. Ah don’t like the word, but tha’s what I am. That’s me.”

“You really believe this, don’t you?” Poulter sneered. “Alright, so, if I were to wish for a royal banquet to appear before us on this table, right now, you could make it happen, I suppose.”

“I wouldn’t mind sommat to eat, if tha’s offering, but I won’t do that, no.”

Can’t do that, you mean.”

“Won’t. See, there’s a lot of competition amongst us genies, and I’ll not waste points lowerin’ me’sen to grantin’ that kind of wish. I like a challenge! Then again, tha knowst how it goes. Yer only get three wishes, don’t yer? Be careful what yer wish for. Yer got two left.”

Poulter was of a mind to make a further derisive comment, but something prevented him. After all, the events of that afternoon defied explanation. “Are you really telling me you can grant wishes? I mean, was it you who fixed it so the police thought my pick-up had been stolen?”

“Aye, that were me. Now, ‘ave yer or ‘ave yer not got sommat to eat? My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut!”

It was the least Poulter, convinced though he was that he had a madman for a house guest, could do to oblige, so he sought out some eggs and potatoes in his kitchen and began preparing a simple meal. As he worked, he called through the opened door: “How old are you, Albert?”

“I don’t rightly know. Age doesn’t come into it really. I live life in both directions, y’see – sometimes forwards in time, sometimes back. T’earliest client I can remember were near on two thousand year ago.”

“Really!” (worth another snigger) “Who was that?”

“Why, it were soom chap who had a big speech t’make. There were about five thousand in t’audience and they was all starvin’. Honestly, I didn’t want to do it, not many points in it, see? But he wished for me to feed ‘em. Five thousand fish suppers, he said. Think o’ theet!”

“And you did it anyway?”

“Aye, I had to. He told ‘em I were t’Catering Manager. They would have killed me!”
Poulter nearly set fire to his frying pan. “What else did he wish for?”

“‘E wished for a couple a’ things – used oop his three, any rate. He were a talented lad, ‘im, mind. Could do quite a bit o’ it for hisself.”

“Amazing.” Poulter said drily. “Any others I might know?”

“What d’yer want, bloody references? There were that big fat chap; you might ‘ave ‘eard o’ ‘im.”

“Fat chap?”

“Aye, called ‘isself Henry, or sommat. Wore soom right glitzy clothes but ‘e stank somethin’ awful. Not easy for a lad like that to pull.”

“Henry the Eighth?”

“That’s the chap! He wanted a bootiful Queen, he said. Ah sorted ‘im out a right tasty lass, but ‘e couldn’t hold onto ‘er. Sliced ‘er ‘ead off in the end. See, here’s the thing: you got to be so careful what you wish for, or it turns out bad. Look what ‘appened to the fella with the fish suppers!”

Poulter’s culinary efforts, rudimentary though they were, formed the foundation for a very pleasant evening. By the time Albert and he had concluded their meal, cleaned up (Albert proved almost as fastidious as Jarvis himself), and gone on a tour of the feast of collectables that Poulter kept displayed in his upstairs room, it was late. It was therefore obvious that Albert should stay overnight.

Albert surveyed the made-up bed in the spare room. “Aye, that’ll be grand!” Albert said.

After his day’s adventures sleep evaded Jarvis Poulter. Preposterous though his house-guest’s claim to status as a genie was, he could not entirely wipe the idea from his mind. The driving incident was still fresh, and would remain so for some time. So, as he often did, he read from one of the many art volumes piled upon his bedside table and, as he often did, paused to admire a picture of a favorite sculpture, that of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’. His eager eyes devoured the graceful curves of the woman cradled in herThe Kiss lover’s arms and he thought how wonderful it must be to own such a perfect work: how magnificent it would look, as the centerpiece of his upstairs collection. How he wished…

Possibly, being so close to the edge of sleep, Poulter might not have noticed the first ominous creaking from his bedroom ceiling, but he certainly noticed the splintering explosion of timber and plaster that followed. He certainly saw the plummeting progress of what appeared, in flashing past, to be a large white boulder which would be impeded not at all by the floor of his bedroom, nor by the floor of the kitchen below that. Only God’s good earth stopped it, with a house-shuddering crash, on the concrete floor of the basement. There it rested, obscured by a veil of dust.

“By ‘eck, lad!” Albert exclaimed as he and his host stared into the crater. “Tha’ needs stronger floors than theet. Yon’ lump weights better than a couple a’ ton, tha’ knows.”

Jarvis, speechless, watched as the dust below them cleared. Broken in two by its fall, Rodin’s masterwork was still clearly recognizable. “But I didn’t wish for this!” He wailed.

“Well, yes, lad. You did. One left now, mind. Use it carefully, like!”

Poulter greeted the morning through fingers which clasped his head in abject despair. His newspaper’s headline, concerning a mysterious ‘Theft of the Century’ from the Tate Gallery, could do nothing to improve his mood.

“What do I do now?” He asked Albert, plaintively. “My house is ruined, and I have a priceless stolen artwork shattered in my cellar. Oh, my Sainted Aunt, what on earth am I to do?”

“I won’t lie to thee, lad. Yon sculpture’s goin’ t’ be missed. An’ the police’ll be wanting to know about things as go bang in the night, if you catch my drift. If I were thee I’d make meself scarce for a while.” Albert advised. But then he added: “O’ course, yer do still have one wish left…”

“Right now,” Poulter admitted. “I wish I could hide somewhere no-one would ever think of looking for me. But I don’t suppose that’d be possible, even for you.”


The auction house porter groaned as he saw a familiar old pick-up, with an equally familiar Moroccan cabinet aboard, waiting by the saleroom doors.

“Not again!” He said to the wiry man in overalls who emerged from the vehicle.

“’Fraid so.” Said Albert. “He wants it put in for t’next sale. Gi’ us a hand, will thee?”

“Why is it so heavy?” Complained the porter.

“Well built, lad; like me!”

After much labor the cabinet was restored to the saleroom.

“I’ll get the paperwork.” Said the porter.

“Aye. You do that.” Agreed Albert. He had already seen the large Chinese urn which stood a little further down the aisle. As soon as he was sure the porter’s back was turned he took the lid off the urn and wriggled down inside it, pulling the lid back after him.

With no-one to sign for it, the auction house agreed their best course was to sell Jarvis’s cabinet, and to donate the proceeds to charity if its owner was never traced. And so the following week’s sale saw the cabinet depart at a bargain price to a new bidder, much to the porter’s satisfaction, because thereafter that strange, troublesome knocking sound in the echoes of the saleroom would finally cease.

After a few years Jarvis’s deserted house would be sold off to a developer, when the remains of the marble sculpture would finally be discovered. It was recognized instantly, of course, but the demolition man, fearing publicity and delay, set about it with his rock spike and reduced it to hardcore.

As for the Chinese urn, it would change hands many times. Valuable as it was, no-one seemed anxious to keep it for long, and eventually it would find its way back to China where, inexplicably, its owner threw it off a cliff.

Albert has never been heard of since.

© Frederick Anderson 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

May 7th – The Circus Comes to Town


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On Thursday we have a General Election. I mention this because I accept a lot of what follows may not directly interest my American friends; but stay, I beg you! Tarry awhile. You could find many parallels to your own electoral process.

To explain British politics would take at least thirty pages of long sentences strung together with endless un-comma’d clauses and extravagant jargonistic verbs which have no meaning to anyone and probably don’t enhance anyone’s understanding of the general process let alone serve to enlighten the reader as to the true nature of our historic democracy, so I won’t.

For those who are uninformed, here are the principal players – the stars, if you will.

The Conservatives

David Cameron (our existing Prime Minister and lover of the ‘Nuclear Deterrent’ – Cameron Osbornefour submarines*) and George Osborne, his Chancellor of the Exchequer (he looks after the money). Think of them as Penn and Teller, because this pair can make anything disappear (apart from the immigration problem, that is). George’s favorite trick, that of making money vanish from your pocket and reappear in his, is equaled in mystification by David’s hypnotic ability to make you believe not only that the money is still in your pocket, but that you have more of it than you did five years ago.

The Liberal

Nick Clegg (who only wants three submarines*), junior partner in coalition with Penn and Teller, usually seen prancing about the back of the stage in a yellow leotard, handing George rabbits to put in his hat.

The Socialist

Ed Milliband (what’s a submarine?), who wants to be Prime Minister, and Ed Balls Wallace_and_gromit(yes, that is the right name), who would like George’s job. Think of them as Wallace and Gromit. They are sworn to never divulge the whereabouts of the secret Money Tree, that enables them to go on handing out cash to everyone and somehow never quite run out. Like Wallace, though, Ed M. is a compulsive inventor with a penchant for dreaming up new policies almost every night. Unlike his colleagues in the Labour Party, he arrives at Westminster every morning through a system of chutes and levers operated by the faithful Balls. Due to an inconsistency in the system he is occasionally to be seen there still wearing his pyjamas.

The Viking

Viking BorisBoris Johnson. There are no portraits of Attila the Hun when he first got out of bed in the morning, but if there were the resemblance to Boris would be startling. Although slightly to the right of Churchill and outrageously privileged Boris has charisma enough to endear him to us common serfs. He treats politics as a bit of a sick joke, you see, and so do we common serfs. He is very much the man who would be King. Currently Mayor of London, Boris is widely tipped to take a parliamentary seat at this election, and David Cameron’s parliamentary seat soon after that.
Which means our beloved country will be run by an acknowledged buffoon: something I’d personally endorse for these reasons:
1. I believe all good Acts of Parliament should have a tag line.
2. No-one knows or even cares what Boris thinks about ‘Nuclear Deterrent’*.
3. Boris is the one man who really could re-negotiate our relationship with the European Union. After an hour of Boris even Angela Murkel would be reduced to compliance.
4. Liverpool hates him. That’s enough reason to vote for anyone .

The Scots

Nicola Sturgeon, witch-queen of North Ayrshire. She leads the Scottish Nationalist Party, which means she wants to rule Scotland and sail it away from England. She also hates the ‘Nuclear Deterrent’* (four submarines). The wholesale poaching of Scotland’s almost exclusively Labour-run seats will give her unique power over the next parliament, if everything goes according to her cunning plan. She will not take a seat atAlex Salmond Westminster herself, however. She will send a gnome magicked from her garden, known as Alex the Salmon because of his former pose sitting on a toadstool with a fishing rod.

The Xenophobes?

Farage CensoredNigel Farage, representing the United Kingdom Independence Party. Nigel’s politics comprise an entire manifesto of reasons for leaving the European Union. This reflects a view widely held in serfdom. His party may gain a number of seats, but his own electability is in question. He has made the basic mistake of believing it is possible to initiate any new and real change in Britain by launching a new party in the face of the relentless ‘impartiality’ of the BBC.

So, why am I troubling you with all this drivel? I suppose it must be because of the macabre fascination our Democratic System© holds for one such as I. The complications of holding a united kingdom of four constituent parts together seem mighty and disproportionate, and never more so than at General Election time.

Whatever the real issues are, we can rely upon our politicians’ failure to address them. Instead, on May 7th we will all be rolled to the polling booth in a golden coach of lavish promises drawn by prancing horses colored blue, red, yellow and green. We will faithfully put our crosses beside our respective choice knowing that when we wander back out into the Spring sunshine our coach will be a pumpkin once more and the horses will have gone back to their stable of exclusivity.

We will have performed as asked.

The establishment, the inner circle of our secretive Civil Service whose collective identity is never truly revealed, will continue to run the country as before. No promises will be kept, essentially nothing will change.

Unless, of course Nicola Sturgeon’s plan succeeds, in which case most of our legislation will be shaped by Scottish interests.

And in two years or so, four submarines will probably turn up on eBay.

* Nuclear Deterrent. Our status as a nuclear power is upheld because we have four incredibly ancient submarines docked at Faslane Naval Base in Scotland. These subs are stuffed with nuclear missiles, apparently, which they can fire from underneath the sea, although it is important to ensure the submarine is the right way up at the time.

We need new submarines, and there is some dispute as to whether we can afford them, whether we can afford another four, or whether we can make do with three. It has been a talking point for some time, this replacement of our nuclear deterrent, a case with striking similarities to a recent decision to uphold our status as a maritime power by building two new aircraft carriers. We can’t afford the planes to put on them, which seems a little bizarre to me – perhaps we could compromise on the submarines in like fashion? After all, no-one would ever know…

Real life In The Fast Lane.

frederick anderson:

I have many thoughts concerning this, but if you do nothing else, please watch the video which accompanies this post. This child, who gave so much, should have all of our attention.

Originally posted on Floyd, Times Are Changin:

Most times just going to the store can be an event that can only be coped with by getting in and out as fast as possible.    You feel like to see the curb you have to look up and you resent people getting too close to you and not being sure about their motives.   The hate and revulsion you bear is multifaceted.  For example,  my writing might be better except I find it hard to be too long in one place.   Sleep helps but I am getting older so do I want to waste too many days.


I care for people who are hurting.   I have worked at the Shriners and the CCFA and done charity events to benefit others.   That stuff is good and I am pretty humble about it,  even as I donate to special causes for the alleviation of hardship.   Outwardly…

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Mario, Maria, and Something Slimy in the Night


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It lives somewhere, in some chamber dark and drear I know not of:  I know only it must be damp, and cold, and these things are all my consolation, because it hates me and I wish it in hell.   At night it moves, sometimes silently, sometimes with barely audible stealth.  But I hear it, and I know it is preparing for the earliest hour, the coldest dawn, when it may strike.

Its spiteful cry, its impactful bang and crash wake me as certainly as it might wake the dead.   I run about the house, seeking it behind walls, beneath stairs, under floors.  I return its malevolent hammering with fists of fury and it merely laughs.  I know it laughs.

How do I know?

Because I can hear that, too.

But I have a path, a way to vengeance.  Before exhaustion overtakes me I must rush from bath to basin, from shower to sink.  I must open every faucet, turn on every tap.   Water gushes, pressure bursts forth:  my enemy groans its pain, then lapses into silence.   I turn off the taps, return to my deprived sleep.  And as I drift away I hear it, shaking off defeat to move once again…

There are few things I cannot do in a house – I re-wired a shop premises once:  I’ve relaid floors, plastered walls and yes, I have plumbed.  Lord knows I have plumbed.

A few months ago, however, in lazy mode, I let plumber in.   A professional.   This followed an unfortunate experience refitting a radiator which resulted in a minor emergency.  Nothing serious, just enough to set the blame train in motion:  I blamed the radiator, the radiator denied all responsibility – you know the sort of thing.   Anyway, the system needed flushing, another radiator had to be refitted so I allowed myself to be persuaded, and in came plumber.

He brought Gherkin with him.

Gherkin, by the way, is ‘it’.   Named after my least favorite vegetable; something small, green and slimy.  About the right size to block a pipe.

Yet Gherkin’s activities are not confined to creating blockage: no, Gherkin is also aEvil Gherkin skilled saboteur.  Since it was introduced by plumber it has been moving around, disabling everything it passes.   A minor adversary at first, it has become a dangerous enemy.

This Saturday it struck.   The Judas goat – the ‘bait’ if you will – was a perished ball valve.   No problem; simply replace the washer. A few years ago, foreseeing the need, I placed a tap in the flow pipe for a straightforward operation like this.   I turned this off, removed the valve, ignoring quiet sniggers from somewhere below, and extracted the old washer.

My tap failed.  Water came, at first dripping, then trickling, then gushing.  The more I turned off, the faster it gushed.   Race downstairs, plunge beneath kitchen sink, turn off mains.


At least, the flow of water was stemmed.  Absolutely nothing in the cupboard below could be described as dry.

I tried to reunite valve and pipe.  But plumber had rearranged the piping so it didn’t fit.  Let’s just give the two parts that needed to be joined names, and say that Mario’s thread refused to go anywhere near Maria’s socket.  However, after more craft, graft and wrestling than goes into the average Italian wedding I managed to achieve a union.  I turned the mains back on, stood back with a sigh of satisfaction.  Life would be normal again, at least until tonight.

We didn’t get that far.   An hour later, returning to the room with the cupboard that contained the header tank, I heard the dripping; my new union had begun to leak.  Not quickly – just quickly enough to saturate the pile of washing we had just placed underneath.

Put bowl under drip, placate the arguing partners – it’s slow, it’ll settle down, dry out.  Saturday night passed quietly.  Gherkin, apparently satisfied, allowed me sleep.  But it was plotting.

Sunday morning I returned to find a faster drip.  Decree Nisi already a distinct possibility, it wasn’t going to dry out.  I searched my stock of plumbing joints, ready to replace a whole section of piping.  A cry from my wife alerted me: the drip was becoming a trickle and increasing by the minute.  The bucket was filling.  I did not have the parts I needed, so, panicking I raced the sixteen miles to the only DIY store open on a Sunday and laid out extravagant amounts of money on new pipe and new joints.

I raced home.

The drip had stopped.   The joint was dry.

Today, the joint is still dry – I don’t know why, I hope the warring newly-weds have made up and are happy together, though I darkly suspect otherwise.  I suspect it’s dry because Gherkin is sitting right there, blocking the leak.  And one night, I don’t know when, perhaps in a few days, or a week, or even a year, it’s going to move.

Meanwhile, I pass my nights in wakefulness, deprived of rest by the quiet menace of its laughter.

Black Bird Speaks…


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Crow on a lamp post“There’s a lot to take in, y’know”

The crow is feeling philosophical.  I can tell this by his airy pose, beak into the wind, inattentive to a slice of bread pinned beneath his right foot.

“A lot of what?”   The wind is warm this morning, enabling me to open my office window.  The lamp-post upon which he is perched is close enough for us to converse, as we often do, in the season.

“Life, mate.”

“Oh, that.”  I am trying to concentrate upon my writing.  I tell him so.

“What?  You too proud to speak now?  I’ve got experience, I have:  wisdom to impart.  You should listen, you should.”

“Go on then!”  I concede with a sigh.  “What’s the matter, are you feeling your age?  Grey feathers?”

“Me?  Nah!  Years in me yet.  But when I think back on the things I seen…”  He shakes his head, takes a casual peck at his bread.  “Rubbish, this stuff.  Ready sliced – I can’t stand it.  See ya!”  And he is gone, letting the bread fall to the ground; in seconds he is no more than a Morse Code dot and dash in the mist of morning, then he is nothing at all.    Feeling vaguely dissatisfied, I return to my work.

How long passes – an hour?

Two loud pecks of a strong beak on plastic.  He is back.  “See this?”  The crow attacks the top of the lamppost with angry jabs.  “More rubbish!  Cheap, this is.  A shoddy answer.  Everythin’ slips off it!”

As if to demonstrate his point he looses his grip and his feet slide in a very ingenious imitation of a moon-walk.  I admit I was worried when, in depth of winter, two yellow-jacketed men arrived to replace the lamp unit that had been the crow’s favorite perch for so long.  And it is true that for several empty weeks he did not return.

“It’s LED.”   I inform him.

“Yeah?   Does it work?”

“Not very well.”  I reply.  But I am curious about his strange mood, which is still far-off and distracted.  “What IS the matter?  You seem depressed.”

He emits a scornful cark.  “Depressed?  Me?  You ever seen me depressed?”  Then he gives me one of his cocked head sideways looks.  “Yeah, alright.  I am, a bit.”

“Why, what is it?  Marriage problems?”

“’Er?  The Missus?  Don’t get me started!”  He hops from foot to foot, pecks vaguely at the lamp-post, then waves his beak aimlessly. “Oh, gawd!”

“She’s a very nice bird, your Missus!”

“Yeah?  You don’t have to live with ‘er, do you?  She’s never happy.  Never.   We’ve got this nice nest, see, good position, excellent aspect towards Pizza Express.  I lined it out for ‘er just last year with real nice polystyrene bits from those chip shop trays.   They smell beautiful, they do!  Do you know what I mean?”

I acknowledge that I probably do.

“Yeah.  Perfect, they are.  Insulation!  No draughts, no waterlogging.   What does she want?  Eh, what does she want?”  He pecks at the offending streetlight viciously.  “Sheepswool!  Bleedin’ sheepswool!”

I register my sympathy and disgust with a ‘tut’or two.

“Won’t lay an egg, she says, unless she’s got a full nest of new fleece units.   And when I ask her why she ain’t content with the poly trays she says it’s because they aren’t ‘in’ this year.  The Cawlies have got fleece, so she’s got to have it.  I ask you!”

“Reprehensible.”  I agree.

The crow looks at me blankly for a moment, then resumes.  “Yeah, that.  Anyway, here’s me, at my age mind you, flappin’ around the fields over at Little Leazes and sneakin’ up on those old mother ewes to get a quick beakful.   Some of the things they say are not nice.”

“I can imagine.”  I say.  “A crow in your position…”

“Exac’ly!  Exac’ly!   I got status, I have.  I got seniority.  That nest of mine…”

“It’s a nice nest…”

“Highest nest in the hanger, that is.   Any crow’d be glad to have that nest.  The kids‘ll get it when we’re gone.  But even they aren’t satisfied.  Had the nephew round the other week an’ he was talkin’ about ‘clear fly-up zones’ and those new smooth-barked trees they got down the Garden centre.”


“That’s them!  He don’t want my nest, it’s old fashioned.  He wants a nest in a bleedin’ Eucalyptus!”

The crow shakes his head dismally.  “All about image, these days – all about image.  Look at you lot…”

“Ah!”  I say, having wondered how long it would be before he got around to my sorry species. “What have we done?”

“Well, you got this numbers thing goin’ on, haven’t you?  Like the more numbers you got, the better nest you get, things like that.”

Sometimes I catch up slowly.  “Explain?”

The crow squawks his impatience.  “When I want a bit of pizza I just nip down the back of Pizza Express and grab one, yes?  What do you do?  You go in the front way with all the lights and everything, stand waiting for half an hour and get one in a box.  And you give ‘em numbers for it.”

“Oh, you mean money!”

“Money, that’s right.  You use money for everything.  You never used to, did you?  You used to be like me, trading one thing for another, or nicking it if you had nothin’ to trade.  Barter, that’s what you called it, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.  How did you know that?  We used to pay for things we wanted with other things we didn’t want, like baby pigs, or sheep.”

“But now you got numbers.  So what’s happened?  You got useless big-shot humans with lots and lots of numbers….”

“Millions of them.”  I agree.

“Yeah, it’s got silly hasn’t it?  Them over-stuffed humans living in great big nests with their millions of numbers, fillin’ them with polystyrene one year, then changin’ it all for fleece the next, and swannin’ around in huge shiny boxes so they don’t have to walk, and getting’ fat and dyin’ young…”

“The way you put it, it does seem unnecessary, doesn’t it?”

“Not just that, it doesn’t work!   But – ah, but…”  He stretches a scholarly wing.  “Take away the numbers, mate, and make em’ barter, then they won’t use up nearly so much, will they?  If they has to keep millions of baby pigs instead of numbers, how stupid will that look?   See, they’ll learn to be content with what they actually need, instead of all this image stuff.   Here’s another thing…”  He fluffs up his feathers and suddenly lets loose with a very loud:  “HARRY!!!”

A startled crow on a nearby house roof nearly jumps out of his feathers.  “What?”  Harry responds.


I would blush to record Harry’s next comment.  My crow ignores it, however.  He goes on:  “Communication, see?  Easy, innit?  Free, innit?”

“Put that way, I suppose it is.”

“Exactly!  Exac’ly!”  He has an annoying habit of dancing with amusement at his own particular brand of irony.  He does it now.  “But what do you do?  What do you humans, wiv your numbers, do?”


“You chuck bails of them numbers around, five – six hundred of ‘em at a time, getting little plastic boxes with lights and colored pictures to speak to each other with.  Stupid things that gets nicked all the time, break all the time, and aren’t even any good for making nests.  And you have to have the biggest one, the best one, ‘cause of your image.”

“Well, speaking of images…”  I have realized by now that this particular rant is about mobile ‘phones,  “…they do take rather good photographs.”

I recognize the trap too late.  I have stepped right in.

“Yes!  Yes, that’s it!  You, wiv all yer numbers, you want your images.  Pictures of this, pictures of that.”

“They’re memories!”  I protest.

“Nah.  Nah they’re not!  They’re not alive, they’re not actual, living, three-dimensional, vital beings with voices and laughter and vitality – that isn’t your real nest, it’s jus’ an image of it; and it’s not to help your memory, but to show off to others, which isn’t honest, because it doesn’t let on how you constantly warred with the neighbors or how cold it was when it snowed, or how it felt in that room the day yer mother died. A picture doesn’t say that lady is that old woman’s daughter, and her smile doesn’t tell you how she resented livin’ wiv her and how she couldn’t find ‘erself a mate ‘cause she had to care for the old woman instead.”

“I’ve travelled a long way.  I’ve seen many things.  I’ve seen the orca’s leap, a beach with a hundred thousand seals, a mountain high and swathed in fog.   I’ve watched the Grey Lag Geese arrowing south and murmurations of starlingsStarlings in the Scottish Borders sweeping to roost at sunset.   Those are experiences, mate.  I’ve lived them.  When I share them with other birds I tell them what it felt like and then they can see it and feel it in their heads, so they don’t need no picture!

“And I don’t need…”  He preens a rogue feather which, in his enthusiasm, has sprung up from his back  “…no hundreds of numbers for that.”   Fixing me with a stare, he asks:  “That book you’re writing.  Is it going to have pictures?”

“No.  It isn’t.”

“There you are, then.  Ask yerself what you actually need – what makes yer happy – and then maybe the obsession wiv numbers won’t mean quite so much.   Now I got to get back to the Missus.  She’s due to lay this week and she’s got an obsession for French fries.”

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep…


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This is just a bit of fun, really! Oh, and quite long again, so bring sandwiches.


“There were tales told of a girl, in the days before imagining, when wild people lived deep in the wild wood, and wild deer danced in sunlit glades. It is said those blessed by the sight of this girl described an apparition so beautiful the raindrops about her turned to diamonds as they fell. They spoke of auburn hair, of a dress gossamer-white that flowed about her graceful limbs as freely as the waters of a mountain stream; and light would shine in their eyes at just the memory of her. It was said that old men from their beds could see her, and young men riding by on their steeds might desire her, but she was of the faery people, and none may touch her if they wished to live.

“Those were old tales. This was long, long ago.”

Anna poked experimentally at a willow frond. “You make it sound so real. I thought I could see her for a moment there, among the trees.”

“If you see her, she will bring you good fortune.” Callum replied.

“But not if I touch her.” Anna wound the frond about her finger.

“No. You must never touch her.”

“I won’t, then – if I see her. What was her name?”

Callum watched Anna as she walked before him, and he thought her as beautiful as any spirit of the woods. “Legend had it that her name was a riddle. Whosoever solved it would marry her.”

“Ah, so there’s a story, isn’t there?” Anna called back over her shoulder. “What happened to her?”

“These are old, old tales. Some say she passed as all the faeries did, into the Land of the Forgotten. Others that she still walks here, among these trees, but will only appear to a very few who are specially blessed. Me, I like the story most often told, in those far gone days, of a young man from Halverton.”

Callum stopped talking, lost for a moment in his rapture of Anna. She turned to see the far-off look in his eyes and laughed her music, saying: “Go on, then! Who was this ‘young man from Halverton’?”

“Halverton was just a village in those days, not the town it is now. A collection of mean peasant huts huddled in the river valley, fearful of the wild wood; but it was a place where the river might be crossed, so there was a living for a few.

“According to legend a tyrannical merchant controlled the only route across the river, taking tolls from all who used it. This merchant made a slave of a young man, working him all hours of night and day, then getting drunk and beating him mercilessly.

“Now one morning, gathering firewood for his master in the deep dark forest this young man he met with the faery. When she saw the blood that evidenced his beating she took pity on him. She led him to her home deep in the forest, where she cared for him, healing his wounds. There they fell in love. They made a home together in the root bole of an old oak tree, and its ancient roots wrapped them in their warm embrace. And so they lived, in happiness.”

“He must have solved the riddle?”

“I suppose.” Callum smiled. “Or maybe she cheated and told him her name. It’s only a story!”

“Oh, but it’s so sweet!” Anna enthused. “Happy ever after, Callum. Isn’t that sweet?”

“Well, not so happy, no.”

“Now, Callum! Don’t spoil the story!” Together, Callum and Anna stood at a place where their path divided into two; one of which would lead across open fields, the other into the cool shade of the trees.

“Which way?” Anna asked.

“You choose.” Callum said, but he held his breath while she made her choice.

Anna grinned meaningfully, deciding. “Let’s hide in the deep dark forest, Callum. Perhaps we can find an oak tree, do you think?” She took his hand. Then, as they strolled together on their new path into the darker recesses of the wood, she said: “Why not a happy ending?”

Callum did not reply at once, for the moment Anna placed her cool hand in his he forgot everything that had gone before. Her presence, her soft breathing next to him, the way dappled sunlight found its way through the treetops to play in her hair enraptured him, and all else was lost.  At last, when they were already far from the open light of day, he said: “There was a king who ruled this land. Although he was a fair, just ruler, so too was he powerful and hot-blooded.

“For many years, years before the slave-boy met her, this king had heard tales, brought to him by his courtiers, of the forest maiden. His palace echoed to accounts of her loveliness, and he was determined to take her in marriage.

“He sent his courtiers to the forest to find her; but even if they saw her once in a while, they could never get close enough to capture her. Oh, they tried. They contrived to bind her with nets, they dug pits that they covered with leaves, they laid traps; but she was wise in forest ways, and nothing that was made by man could hold her.”

“She was meant to be free.” Anna murmured, half to herself. “It’s so quiet in here, isn’t it? So peaceful. I can picture her, you know, Callum? I can feel her close to me.”

Callum smiled. “Can you? Could it be possible you are one of the blessed? But first you must hear the end of the legend.

“At last, the king grew angry. He sent his herald to the forest with a proclamation, that the faery girl was to be his bride and she was to go to him, by his command. He was king, after all. He was not to be disobeyed.”

“Oh no! What happened?”

“The faery girl emerged from the forest; something so unexpected and amazing all who saw her were frozen to the spot, because this was the first, the only time anyone from the outer world would hear her speak. In a voice as soft and as pure as a thousand caroling bells she told the royal party she was wed already, and the lonely slave-boy was her husband. She would never come to the king.”

“So the king wasn’t happy?”

“He was furious! He sent soldiers to arrest her, but they were lowly paid and not as courageous as the courtiers. They had heard it was fatal to touch her so they didn’t look very hard before they told the king she could not be found. Now the king himself, who ruled by divine right, was not so fearful of her touch, or troubled by faery riddles, but he was wary of the forest people, and he had long sought an excuse to drive them out. So in his passion he swore if he could not possess the faery girl no-one would. He accused the forest people of hiding the girl and ordered their forest to be razed to the ground.

“They set fire to the forest?”

“They came with torches in the first light of dawn. They set fires along the forest edge and by sunset all the trees were well alight. They say a thousand woodland people died. Those who survived scattered and fled. But Nature is stronger than any king, and they were not gone for long.”

“The girl, Callum! What happened to the girl? Oh, stop. I already know.”

“Yes, she died in the fire. It was said she never left the old oak that gave her shelter, but curled up with her lover in her arms beneath its mighty trunk and waited for the fire to come. When the forest people returned they discovered two bodies lying there, and left them while they conjured the rebirth of the forest with their magical husbandry. With time, the greenwood swallowed up the faery girl, and so she rests. For a while her memory died with her.”

Anna had walked a few paces in front of Callum so she might hide her face from him, in case her tears spilled. “Only for a while?”

“Of course. Isn’t it always so? When one legend dies another is born? This one tells how the faery girl wore a ring as symbol of her love, which she kept with her when she died. Well, many claim to have found her ring as they walked through the forest, but none could recover it, for the legend says she holds it on her finger until one person of true virtue passes by, and only if they are as pure of mind as she will she release the ring into their care.”

“You mean, like the sword in the stone thing. Like King Arthur?”

“Yes. And here the riddle story comes in again. Whoever lifts the ring will learn the answer. They will learn her name and the power it gives.” Seeing Anna’s wide-eyed look, Callum laughed. “It is only a legend.” He assured her gently. “There are thousands of old folk-tales like it in early history. One version even says that if someone evil tries to pick the ring up, the faery will drag them down into the earth with her. Like I said – only a legend.”

“Wow!” The pair walked together silently for a while, lost in their thoughts, and they walked deeper and deeper into the wood.

Anna said: “What if…?” And she stopped.

“What if?” Callum questioned her with his eyes, but she was staring at something far off among the trees. “What, Anna?”

“Callum, what sort of tree is that?”

Callum tried to follow the direction of her stare, towards the knarled old tree that stood perhaps a hundred yards ahead of them. “That? I believe it’s an oak. Why?”

“Because there’s something shining – there in the leaves at the bottom of it.”

“Oh, Anna! I’m sorry I told you now! It’s a folk tale – a story!”

But Anna was running. “No! No, it isn’t. I can see it. I can see it, Callum!”

Laughing, Callum ran in pursuit, but she was a young hind, fast and light of foot beyond his means to catch her. He only did so when she had stopped before the old tree.

“Callum, this is the tree. I know it. I can feel it!”

Callum tried to catch his breath. “It’s certainly old.”

“She died here. She’s laying here, the faery girl! And this…” Anna stooped to brush away leaves from the forest floor: “Callum – oh, Callum – this must be her ring.”

Together, they stared down at a ring of gold all but buried in the black soil, its single stone flashing in rivulets of sunlight from the canopy of trees above their head.

“Could it be you?” Callum murmured, overcome. “Could you be the one to take the ring from her?”

“Well, it’s certainly a very beautiful ring, but I’m not worthy of it.” Anna said. “I hate to break this to you, Callum, but my soul really isn’t that pure.”

“It is in my eyes.” Callum said. “At least you should try.”

“No. Should I?”

“Yes. But as you do it, say a prayer for the faery girl. I don’t know. Maybe she will hear you. Maybe you’re about to solve the riddle at last.”

“Oh, stop it! I have to try, though, don’t I?” Hesitantly, and trying to drive all thoughts of avarice from her mind, Anna crouched beside the ring. With shaking fingers she grasped the gold band gently, making a prayer as Callum had suggested, right from the very essence of her being, a prayer of hope and love. So, so carefully, she pulled the ring upwards.

The soil released it.

Anna held it there, for seconds, for a minute perhaps, disbelieving. When at last she found her feet, the ring nestled in the palm of her hand as though that was where it had always belonged.

“Oh, Callum! It’s so lovely!”

“Almost as lovely as the hand that holds it.”

“But how do I find the answer to the riddle? How do I learn her name?” Anna cried. Then: “Wait! There’s something written on the inside of the band. It’s so small I can hardly read it. It says…”

“What does it say?” Callum prompted.

Anna squinted to pick out the words. “It says: ‘Anna’.”

“It says, ‘Anna with love’!” Then, as the truth dawned, she glared at him in mock fury.

“Callum, you bastard!”

Callum grinned. “I am, aren’t I? Anna, will you marry me?”


© Frederick Anderson 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content


Mother’s Day – A Matter of Family Values


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In my country, we have Mothering Sunday.   That’s today.

It’s the fourth Sunday in Lent, if anyone is interested in the jigsaw puzzle of the St. John of the ladderChristian calendar, and it remembers St. John of the Ladder, or St. John Climacus (Climacus – climb – ladder; gettit?  Don’t you just love Latin?).  It was once called Laetare Sunday, and is variously still known as Refreshment Sunday or Rose Sunday.  The latter because, apparently, of a golden rose traditionally sent by the Pope to Christian sovereigns.  Why?  Because Wikipedia says so, that’s why.

These days, Christian sovereigns are probably sick of an ever-growing stack of golden roses:  the pot in the royal throne room (the one just beneath the self-portrait of George W. Bush) is likely to be over-brimming with the things.   As for refreshment Sunday, that’s intended to mean refreshment of religious vows, rather than setting up a canteen in the vestry – or so I’m told.  Anyway, moving on.

In secular terms, as our beloved Archbishop is fond of saying, Mothering Sunday has simply become Mother’s Day, and though its origins are different to the American version, the essence of the festival is much the same.

It’s the day the chickens come home to roost.

For our grown-up chickens have a duty that must be fulfilled.  Our door must be visited, flowers must be presented, platitudes offered.

“Sorry, I know it’s not much this year, Mum.  We’re seriously short of money. What with the alterations to the house, the new Jacuzzi and Amanda’s kitchen makeover, there’s not much left to go round.”

“You’ll be planning your budget really carefully, then?”

“Yes.  That’s what the weekend in Florence was all about.  Just sitting down in a nice Trattoria with some wine and talking it over.”

‘I don’t suppose the 5K your father lent you entered your thinking?’  No, that’s a question that remains unasked; more because you fear the answer, than the risk of killing the conversation.

As for ourselves, we are past the age when we have mothers of our own, so Mother’s Day represents no major digression from our usual Sabbath routine.  Were we church-goers it might mean a service in a church where the faithful have made a bit of an effort:  a few flowers, some of what only a Christian congregation can call ‘gaiety’.  As it is, all we have to sacrifice is our sleep.  Rising at the crack of dawn is strongly advisable, because the progeny will be queuing at the end of the road waiting for sunrise.

The first knock comes at seven am.

“Hello Dad – not too early, is it?”

“My, those flowers look nice.”  (The all-night garage always raises its act for Mother’s Day).

The next knock comes at eight-thirty.

“Hello, Mummy, you look a bit pale.  Are you ailing?”

“Lack of sleep, dear.  My, those flowers look nice.”  (Discretion demands you conceal the first bouquet because the second one is likely to be identical).

By ten o’clock the fog of children will have dispersed and life will have returned to normal.   A day of creative flower-arranging beckons while we try to analyze our success-rating with our offspring (tricky, this one:  do we regard the very earliest arrival as the most ardent, or simply the one who wants to get the onerous event over soonest?)  and express our admiration for the innate sense of timing involved.  The earlier visitor will always contrive to be gone before the second arrives, because they do not ‘get on’ with one another.

What then, if anything, does Mothers Day signify – for us, the ex-parents, the holders of the torch everyone is waiting so eagerly for us to put down?  Enjoyment of a traditional family day when those we withstood for eighteen or so childhood years return to haunt us, briefly; or merely another clutter of cards, a few more needlessly sacrificed trees?   Or something in between?   Do the fruits of our loins observe the tradition because they want to, because they feel that need to reconnect to their roots, or rather through a desire to check that we haven’t sold the Ming vase that sits in their half of the will?

It is hard to give answers.  A wise owl on one shoulder might express the opinion 0wl 1owl 2that there are too many days in a year when family is meant to honor its obligations to its adjacent generation, whilst the wise owl on the other might claim that family unity is the cement that binds society together, and therefore cannot be reinforced too much.  (At which point I might remind myself that certain Sicilian families of recent history were very strong on the use of cement in resolving family issues).

My solution?  I accept what I cannot change.  I do not seek the answers.  After all, these shoulders are big enough for two owls:  why put one in a position where it has to peck the eyes out of the other – and which owl would win?

Which of our prodigal children will stay long enough to convince us they are happy to be here? Who will listen rapturously as we regale them with  details of our IBS symptoms, or try to persuade them to join our line-dancing class?  Who might even stay to lunch?

Ah well, tick the diary for another year.  Then cast forward to their next return to the fold – about a week after my birthday, perhaps.

New Chouhdary Bus Service in the rural areas of Punjab

frederick anderson:

A lovely reblog from Saima Qureshi. This is a bus I have to ride one day. Saima paints a picture with her words that is so vivid I almost feel I am on it already!

Originally posted on Saima Qureshi:

busDon’t get surprised if you see a large bus with all its doors and windows wide open. A conductor will be hanging, in fact swinging in the entrance door hawking for the passengers to a particular direction. Spitting his paan all around, this eagle-eyed man will be observing, monitoring, and accommodating the travelers at the same time. Abuses can frequently come out of his mouth while he addresses the drivers and other administrative staff in the bus or the people involved

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Slow growth

frederick anderson:

From Simon Kindt’s blog, this is as close as you can get to a perfect capture, I think…

Originally posted on Simon Kindt:


It will have been months since you’ve written
anything that matters, on a day you’ll think yourself
to be a fat and slowing story, or another sinking stone.
You’ll wake and read someone else’s poem
about angels and bombs and how, on detonation,
a thing will weigh precisely nothing. You’ll think
of how a flame, viewed correctly, can appear
to be a flower birthed from air. And you, your hands
all full of mud, will think your bones have turned
to hardwood, will think of white ants in your blood,
will think your joints could crack and bleed out sap –
all this until your daughter, who woke an hour before you,
holds a flower out to you and says she wants to dance.
And as you haul your dogwood bones up off the floor
you’ll wonder if you’ve somehow caught alight,
if you’re both a kind of slow explosion,
as you and she, both dancing now,
don’t seem to weigh…

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