Dancing Rain

tiny rain feet
pitter patter
and dance on
the cobbles
in the street
like a liquid
metronome
on heat

Friday
morning coffee
hot and dark
is brimful of
weekend dreams
and scenes
of debauchery
avarice and
sloth

I can’t wait
to get this
bloody suit off!

and
unwind
decumbently
chilled out
pop a cork and
watch the rain,
the weekend rain
dancing
on the river

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The Adventures of Flopsy. A Most Excellent Equestrian gymnast! (Illustrated by Kizzywiggle)

Flopsy was Emma’s my little pony.

Then one chilly November afternoon while Emma was shopping with her mum and dad (for tender stem broccoli which Emma thought was icky and got stuck between her teeth) Flopsy was stolen!

Emma had left Flopsy curled up on the back seat of the car snuggled up in an old rainbow warrior blanket.

“Aren’t you taking Flopsy with you?” Asked mum.

“Flopsy’s not feeling very well” replied Emma.

“Ah” said mum (in a very God is Tricksyesque manner)

“Come on you two!” Said dad. “Race you to the ice-cream shop!” And they all held hands and ran exitedly into the shopping centre.

Flopsy looked out of the car window and a single my little pony tear ran down her cheek and onto her soft flank. Soon she was fast asleep and dreaming of sugar cubes the size of mountains.

She woke with a start! Two old smelly men had broken into the car and grabbed Flopsy by her mane! She tried to shout out for help but they wrapped her muzzle in cling film (restaurant grade – remember this point – it’ll come in handy later) before bundling her into a cardboard box.

Poor frightened little Flopsy. The last thing she remembered before passing out was the THUD of the car boot closing and the roar of its engine as the thieves made their getaway.

Meanwhile Emma and her mum and dad had eaten 17 ice creams in a multitude of flavours and sizes and we’re feeling rather full.

“Let’s not bother with broccoli tonight. Let’s go home” said mum.

“Yes let’s!” Said Emma and her dad in unison. (Not the trade union or in it’s premises. Any hoo)

They ambled back to their car, ice cream bloated, giggling and shoving each other into passing lampposts as ice cream bloated happy people do.

As they approached their car Dad noticed that one of the doors was open and when they looked inside they realised that FLOPSY HAD GONE! DAH! DAH! DAH! Emma was inconsolable. Not even the promise of a dozen new my little ponies could stop her tears. And wailing. And jumping up and down like a spoiled brat. I digress.

Dad rang the police. When they arrived they said “Ello, Ello, Ello. What’s all this here then?”

The family explained about the broccoli and the ice cream and Flopsy being sick and walking into lampposts and the nice policemen wrote everything down and promised to look into it.

(Unfortunately they didn’t then produce a large box with an ‘IT’ written on it to look into. That would have been too obvious a gag. And totally uncalled for)

It was a sad journey home for Emma. Flopsy was gone. Stolen. She hoped that Flopsy was still alive. She missed her my little pony.

Somewhere, quite a looooooooooong time later……

The car suddenly stopped. Flopsy summoned up all of her strength and tried to break free of the cling film and the box. It was no good. Someone lifted the box and opened the lid. The bright light temporarily blinded her. Then a girl in tight white pants and knee boots took off the cling film. Flopsy took a GIANT breath.

“Where am I” she neighed.

“Don’t worry little one. You’ll love it here!” Said the girl.

Flopsy looked up and saw a large sign which read ‘TEAM GB EQUESTRIAN TRAINING CENTRE’

“That’s right little one. You’re going to be an Olympic show jumper. Isn’t that exciting!”

Flopsy thought about it for a moment. “But what about Emma?” She asked.

“This is what Emma wanted” said the girl “She wrote to us and arranged to leave you in the car. Why else would she do that silly!”

Flopsy looked at the girl and rolled her big my little pony eyes.

“Can I see her?”

The girl’s mood changed.

“NO YOU CAN’T” she shouted. “George! We’ve got a tricky one here. Put her with Gertrude and the other deviants!”

“Of course m’am”

And with that Flopsy was taken to a messy stable with Gertrude, Henrietta and Cybil.

“Do as you’re told and you’ll be alright” said George gruffly.

Flopsy was so tired that she crawled into a corner, wrapped herself with hay and drifted into a fitful sleep.

“Sleep tight my little pony” gently whispered Gertrude, Henrietta and Cybil. “Sleep tight”

After many, many, many, many, many, and then some months, Flopsy had become the best darnedest rootin tootin showjumping horse in the whole of showjumpingdom. And soon they boarded a plane at Heathrow bound for Rio de Janeiro! They were Olympics bound!

But Flopsy had never forgotten about Emma. And she never, ever would.

As far as stables went, the ones in Rio were pretty nice. Lots of fresh straw, clean water, good food and a big TV switched to the Olympics so that the stable hands could sit and chat and watch the sports.

Flopsy found most of it boring, to be honest, but she loved the gymnastics! Loved, loved, loved it! The agility, grace, the dizzy twists and jumps and bounces and everything!

“I’d love to do that!” She said to Henrietta. “It looks so much fun!”

“Then why don’t you little one. You can do anything you want to if you really want to do it!”

“Thanks Henrietta” said Flopsy “You’re a true friend”

image

Soon Flopsy’s big day came. She and the other horses were loaded into the horse Boxes and they excitedly chatted all the way to the equestrian centre. But Flopsy couldn’t get those wonderful images of the gymnasts out of her head and as the horse box rumbled down the road she kicked out with her hind legs and the side of the horse box started to splinter. She kicked again and again until she had enough room to wriggle out. She waited until they stopped at traffic lights and made her bid for freedom.

Flopsy had memorised where the Rio Olympic Arena was and quickly got her bearings and galloped through the Rio streets. People jumped out of her way or stopped in their tracks in shock. They had never seen a my little pony with such beautiful eyes and with such a sense of purpose. (Nearly said porpoise there. Boom tish!)

Flopsy galloped past the turnstiles and used her show jumping skills to traverse people and seats and the occasional duck. She burst past security staff and into the arena (stopping only to powder her dainty hooves with chalk dust).

There it was! Her favourite apparatus. The beam! She took a deep breath. ‘This is it!’ She thought.

With a flick of her mane she pushed into the floor and sailed through the air to land perfectly on the beam.

Back in Nutsandwich, just outside Spalding on the Downs, Emma and her mum and dad were watching the Olympics on TV. The gymnastics was their favourite.

Suddenly Emma shouted excitedly “IT’S FLOPSY! MY FLOPSY! AND SHE’S A SUPERSTAR!”

Flopsy didn’t, of course, win any medals but she had a fantastic time and soon she was back where she belonged. With her Emma and she could live out her days as Emma’s my little pony (until boys came along but Hey Ho)

And remember the restaurant quality cling film? And the two smelly old men? Thankfully Flopsy had kept a tiny fragment of the cling film and it was traced to a restaurant in Poddington ran by the infamous international hit men chefs, Ernest and Julio Bombastic.

They didn’t live happily ever after but everyone else did!

Yay!

Nobby the Turtle’s Most Excellent Olympic Adventure (illustrated by Kizzywiggle)

Once upon a time, about twenty past five on a Friday afternoon, Nobby the Turtle was swimming off a beach somewhere nice and sunny and warm. He was bobbing along on top of a very big wave when he felt something tickle his flipper. He looked around and saw the most GIGANTIC shark who was just about to eat him! The shark, who was called Trevor but that’s neither here or there, was a Great White. Not because he was particularly good at anything in particular but because that’s what people decided to call him.

‘Oh dear’ thought Nobby. ‘This isn’t very good’

He swam as quickly as his little flippers would take him. He swam like he’d never swum before: ducking and diving and shooting over the waves like a turtley torpedo. Trevor sped after him, his jaws open wide ready to SNAP! With barely a moment to spare Nobby made it to the beach and Trevor stopped with a sudden BUMP!

The beach was full of people in rather skimpy swimming cossies. In fact some of them didn’t seem to have anything on at all except for little pieces of string which held up their sunburnt bottoms. When the people saw Trevor the Great White Shark they ran around shrieking and waving their arms in the air and screamed a lot. In his little beach tower, a lifeguard called Enrique sounded the alarm. Then he screamed too.

Trevor nonchalantly flicked his tail and backed into the sea. ‘Drat’ he thought to himself. ‘Drat and double drat’ He was a Dick Dastardly fan.

Meanwhile Nobby was still running. He didn’t look back. He ran and ran and ran and ran and got quicker and quicker and quicker still. He hurtled along the Copacabana beach front past bemused beach volleyballers, darting between sweaty cyclists and right through the tennis tournament putting Andy Murray off his match winning stroke in the process.

For the first time in his life he felt alive, free, invincible. Ninja-like even (but not mutanty). He didn’t stop until he reached the Olympic Stadium itself.

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Suddenly he heard a wall of noise. It sounded as if the whole world was shouting and roaring and blowing strange horns and beating drums and all at the same time.

“TURTLE! TURTLE!” they screamed. But Nobby didn’t stop. He kept on running. He could see a line of rather athletic men crouching in front of him and just as he reached them a gun went off….BANG!!

Bemused commentators excitedly pointed towards the running track as the athletes pushed from their starting blocks in a whir of legs and arms and TURTLE?

‘What on earth is going on?’ thought Nobby. ‘I was only trying to get away from a shark’

As he jetted down the track he could see a man chasing him. A tall gangly man in a bright yellow top. ‘He’s not going to catch me’ thought Nobby and he ran even faster. A blur of flipper and shell.

Nobby was deafened by the sound of the crowd “TURTLE! TURTLE!” they roared. He was confused and suddenly very, very tired. He stopped and lay on the ground beside the big tall man in the bright yellow top who had been chasing him.

The big tall man lifted Nobby onto his shoulders gave him a big flashing white smile (which Nobby decided to keep for later) and slowly jogged with him around the track.

Cameras whirred and clicked and popped and flashed and eager reporters pushed microphones into his face and talked very quickly asking him how it felt to have beaten Usain Bolt and setting a new world 100m record.

“A new what?” asked Nobby. “I was only trying to get away from Trevor the Great White Shark!”

And that, children, is how a little scared turtle called Nobby became an Olympic Champion. Luck I suppose. Or perhaps it was destiny?

Trevor, sadly, ended up as shark fin soup. He wasn’t a particularly clever Trevor.

As for Usain Bolt. Well, that’s quite another story altogether. One that hasn’t quite finished yet.

 

Bernice and Bertie the hedgehogs win Synchronised Diving Gold (illustrated by Kizzywiggle)

It was just another day in the hedgerow. Another boring, dreary rain drippy day. Bertie and Bernice were bored. Bored of grubbing around for slugs and avoiding falling asleep in bonfires.

“There must be more to more to life than this” said Bernice. “Don’t be silly ” said Bertie. “What can we do? We’re only hedgehogs after all” Bernice frowned and stamped her little feet. “We can be whatever we want to be Bertie. And don’t you forget it! Hedgehogs can dream too!”

One day, they were lapping milk from a dog bowl in Mrs Chesterton’s garden, when they noticed that the door to the kitchen was open. They crept inside. High on the wall was a television set and they both watched mesmerised as the mixed synchronised diving event took place. It was 2012. The London Olympics.

“We could be divers!” whispered Bernice “Synchonised divers!” She squeaked with excitement. “Don’t be silly” said Bertie. “We’re only hedge…” Bernice gave him an evil stare (which he accepted gratefully and kept for later). They shuffled from the kitchen and headed for home.

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Later that night. Very, very late, Bernice and Bertie were still excitedly talking about diving.

“Ssh! You two!” It was mum. “Your dad and me are trying to have an adult conversation about adult stuff that you young uns know nothing about and we’d appreciate a little piece and quiet. Hedgehogy quiet. Now go to sleep!”

Early the following morning, before the sun had put its hat on, the two little hedgehogs crept from their hedgerow house and slipped away into the outside world.

They travelled for yards until they found an old rusty pail of water sitting at the bottom of a rickety stone wall.

“Let’s practise!” Giggled Bernice.

“Practice what?” Asked Bertie.

“Our diving silly”

They climbed and dived, again and again and again. Inward triple somersaults, twists, with pike, without pike, sometimes with trout and an occasional mackerel fillet. Day after day they dived until they were a seamless blur of synchronicity.

They had such fun!

Then, one day, Mr George Snetterton of Rushby a la Douche (who also happened to be an Olympic selector) was out walking his Great Dane when he heard the hedgehogs excited goings on. He peered over the old stone wall and was astonished to see the best display of synchronised diving he had ever witnessed.

“Excuse me little hedgehogs” he said. Bertie and Bernice looked up in alarm, dropped to the ground and rolled themselves up into tight little spiky balls. “Don’t be afraid” he said. “You guys are fantastic divers!”

Bernice peeked out. “And girls! And we are?”

“Sorry young lady. YES YOU ARE!” Shouted Mr Snetterton excitedly. “YES YOU ARE! LAD AND LADESS ALIKE!”

The two little hedgehogs unraveled. “Who are you Sir?” Asked Bertie.

“My name is George. George Snetterton and I would like both of you to dive for Great Britain in the Olympics!”

“THE OLYMPICS!” Screamed Bernice and Bertie in unison. “THE OLYMPICS?”

“In Rio” said Mr Snetterton.

And that was the start of the most fantastical, unbelievable, unimaginable journey that any hedgehog ever made. Ever. And they won the gold too! And mum and dad and their thirty seven brothers and sisters were there watching!

And who knows, perhaps they may become the most successful sporting hedgehogs ever.

We shall see.

Shoes and Salvation

This ripping little yarn was first posted to ‘200 Word Tuesdays’. Without the constraints of 200 words, I’ve reworked it a little.

He was just a little boy. Lost in the desert. Clinging to life.

In the distance, hazed and bubbling in the midday sun, he saw shimmering buildings of glass and gold. He started walking towards them.

His walking companions: a punishing sun and silence.

The teasing mirages melted and in front of him lay a gorge. Beside it a waterfall.

The gorge was very, very deep. So deep that it seemed to stretch into eternity itself. Far, far below on the valley floor, the river looked like a tapeworm snaking through the burnt orange sandstone of the steep cliffs.

He walked to edge of the waterfall. He felt his skin burn. This was no ordinary water but a lifeless brew of acidic toxins. It bleached the ground and suffocated the air he breathed.

He heard a voice.

“This way!”

Under the waterfall, he saw a small, Gollum-like creature beckoning.

“This way!” it said again.

‘Who are you?” asked the boy nervously.

“I am your savior” the creature replied.

“What must I do?” asked the boy.

“First, give me your shoes. Then you may pass”

“My shoes?”

“Yes, Yes!” said the creature impatiently.

The little boy took off his shoes and carefully walked bare-footed into the waterfall.

“Thank you” said the creature politely,  as he took the boy’s shoes and cast them onto a pile of hundreds of other pairs.

“Can I pass now?” said the boy. His voice breaking with anticipation.

“NO!” cackled the gnarled creature as he roughly grabbed the little boy’s arm and cast him into the waterfall and certain death. And salvation.

The creature returned to the pile of shoes and carefully counted the pairs.

‘Soon I will have enough’ he thought.

‘Very, very soon’

Then, he heard a small dulcet voice from the other side of his waterfall.

“Can you help me please?”

The creature saw a little girl, no more than six or seven peering anxiously through the sheet of water.

“Of course I can” he gently replied. “But first you must give me your shoes”