Monday, 4 June 2018

Round 23.


Vincent is a runner; he is preparing to run the Paris marathon in April, so he’s not eating his bread at lunch -time. He has left it to one side and he is not going to drink a coffee either; coffee stimulates the muscles, so recovery time is compromised.

His girlfriend is not a runner, but she likes coffee. However, they don’t live together; she has a flat in the city, and he has a flat, one hour away in the country.

Vincent is eating his lunch in the kitchen: there is soup and a vegetable and guinea fowl tagine with a fruit salad for dessert.

Marjorie is not eating, but she is in the hallway next to the kitchen. If Vincent turned his head he would see her, but he doesn’t.

He doesn’t know Marjorie.

Marjorie is in the hallway because she has just come from the hospital and she needs to tell her colleagues that she won’t be in the office for a few months.

Her colleagues are sad.

Marjorie is frightened.

She has a tattoo on her ankle.

This was not frightening.

The news she received at the hospital is frightening.

The Doctor, Alex, who gave her the news doesn’t like this part of his job.

He would prefer to be a football player at times like this.

When he was younger he had aspirations to play professionally and he was invited to train with the top team in the city.

He showed promise.

Until he broke his leg.

The leg mended but his opportunity to score goals was greatly diminished.

So he became a doctor.

He plays football with his son every weekend; they built a replica pitch in the back garden.

His son is five.

His birthday is next week and he is hoping to get a mobile phone for his present.

Alex doesn’t think that this is a good idea.

Alex’s wife, Wendy, doesn’t think so either; they will probably buy him a bike.

Wendy uses a bike herself to go to work, it isn’t far and she feels free. Her route to work takes her over the bridge and each morning she stops and looks at the river. The river is wide at this point, not far from completing its journey to the sea; sometimes she can see the mountains in the south where this river began.

She would like to live there.

Alex would like to live by the sea.

Opposite Wendy’s office there is a new café; it sells bagels. These bagels are unlike anything you could buy in America, which is probably more home to a bagel than this city. Still, Wendy is going there for lunch.

She will choose the bagel of the month; she can’t remember the ingredients but she likes the effort the bagel house has made.

Her husband will join her for lunch.

Vincent would never go to this café; he is a runner.

He is preparing to run the Paris marathon in April, so he doesn’t eat bread at lunch-times.

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Monday, 28 May 2018

Round 22.


The pieces of orange peel were dropped from the open window of a BMW on Sunday afternoon, and lay in the winter sunshine on the grey tarmac of the B223, one mile from the intersection with the A12.

The driver’s name was Sam and he was unaware that the orange peel can take up to six months to decompose.

It will still be there on mid-summer’s day.

Jennifer Thomas, driving a Ford Focus in the opposite direction, saw the orange peel and decided to stop and pick it up; she is environmentally aware.

Unfortunately her driving awareness has been severely reduced by the growth of a cataract in her left eye and she didn’t see Johnny Tomlinson in her rear view mirror; he was driving a Ford Transit Van.

The Van was blue.

No one was hurt in the crash but the orange peel was forgotten in the aftermath of insurance details swapped and phone numbers noted.

Jennifer decided to return home, she had only been intending to buy bread in the local market and she was late enough now to be certain that the baker had packed up his stand.

Johnny lives in the market town so he continued on his way once he had cleaned up the glass from his broken headlight; he would have picked up the orange if he had noticed it.

As he passed the cinema on the edge of the town he waved at Jackie.

Jackie was on her way to visit her father, Rodger, who had fallen two weeks previously.

Rodger hadn’t noticed at first but he had broken his shoulder and now it was in a sling and he could only use one hand.

Rodger is 93.

Johnny knows Rodger; he spoke to him on Saturday night at a dinner party.

Rodger told him that he had cancer and that he was dying.

Johnny didn’t really know what to say, nothing he had learnt at school or the furniture factory where he worked had prepared him for such a moment.

“We are all dying”, he replied.

When he said this he was looking at the fire that was burning in the fireplace.

The flames were warm and homely.

And orange.

It would have reminded Johnny of the orange peel laying in the winter sunshine on the B223 if this moment had taken place on Sunday evening instead of Saturday.

But the pieces of orange peel were dropped from the open window of a BMW on Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes time is back to front.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Round 21.



The first word spoken after the stream of expletives that preceded.

Oh God, came later; it was little more than a sigh.

The colour seemed significant so he tried to describe it; he could imagine it as a circle around his right wrist.

Klein blue?



Later, once he had finished vomiting and felt that recovery was possible he looked at a colour chart.

He found it.

Ulysses Butterfly.

On an odyssey then?

Or a caterpillar that could do better?


Monday, 14 May 2018

Round 20.


Andy is standing in the doorway, saying goodbye.

He is looking older and it’s not just his hair - no longer the black of his youth, more like the frost that sits heavily on the forest that is waiting for him outside the door - but also the way his speech is slurred and his body stooped.

In a moment he will drive across the forest, return home where the fire is lit and the cat waiting to be fed and then sit at his desk and translate a document sent to him by Dr Frost.

Dr Frost is not a medical doctor, he is a doctor of Philosophy and he lives in London; he hasn’t seen the forest for a long time.

He has never spoken French.

Isabella is French, though her name sounds Spanish and when Andy leaves she will drive up and park in the space Andy’s car has left behind.

She is in the car with her father who is wearing less than is advisable for such a cold day, but he is warm with happiness for being with his daughter who has come home for Christmas; he has a present for her in the car.

When she enters the house he will give it to her and she will put them on; a pair of pink, furry, tiger slippers.

They are perfect; she is wearing skinny tight black jeans and the slippers will make the slenderness of her legs something people will talk about.

She likes that.

Isabella has just finished her studies in catering but she is unsure what to do next, so home and Christmas is a good time and place for her to be.

Her brother Thomas is not there; he is lying on a beach in the Maldives. The sun is hot and Thomas is wet; he has just been diving.

He is trying to catalogue the Manta rays that swim in the ocean he has just left.

The cataloguing takes the form of photographic matching to enable the Rays to be named.

Professor Emmerson is a name he wants to use but the head of Mantra Ray naming project has used his veto.

Her name is Rosalind, she comes from Chicago and she prefers the name Sam.

The Rays real name is Xyui, a local dialect that means something like ‘the light and grace of the deep’; her mother gave it to her.

Her mother was captured before the project took shape and is now confined in an aquarium in Ocean World San Diego.

Neither Thomas or Rosalind know this, and it is possible that Xyui’s mum is also unaware.

Someone who does know this in Danielle.

Danielle is thirteen years old and she is looking at Xyui’s mum through the glass of the Aquarium.

Danielle is the only member of the very recently formed radical Ray liberation Front San Diego 
Chapter and she is considering how she can liberate the Ray and repatriate her to The Maldives.

She knows that the Maldives is her real home because it says so on a label at the side of the aquarium.

She doesn’t know that the ray is female; it doesn’t say this on the label.

The sexing of a Mantra Rey is not easy.

One of the world’s experts on this, though he doesn’t know it yet, is Thomas who is sitting on a beach in The Maldives, drying in the sun.

He is a world expert because no one else has much bothered and part of his cataloguing work is to study the mating pattern of the ray.

Right now he isn’t thinking about that.

He is thinking about his sister who he hasn’t seen for 9 months and is now on the other side of the world, driving towards a parking space that is about to be vacated by Andy who is standing in the doorway saying goodbye.

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