I’m out here cooking in a field;
I wonder what my skills will yield.
I’ll bet my cakes will really shine,
I’ve got some cake mix – I’ll be fine!
I can’t go wrong, I know the score:
“Don’t drop your gateaux on the floor,
Avoid the famous soggy bottom.”
I’ll take good care my pies ain’t got ‘em.
The signature bake is first in line,
Which one is best? I hope it’s mine!
I’ve topped a Hobnob with a cherry –
Will that astonish Mary Berry?
The Technical is soon to follow,
I must be brave, not stop to wallow.
OK, I’ll try this poncey pud
If that will please Paul Hollywood.
Oh my! It’s looking rather solid
I think it’s gonna taste quite horrid.
I just forgot to add the sugar,
(Oh knickers, panties, bum and bugger!)
There’s just a chance that I can crack it
By covering up that nasty black bit
With yellow custard from a tin.
(Oh damn! It’s fit just for the bin.)
Here comes Sue P. with sidekick Mel,
I hope they miss that burning smell.
They look a little sympathetic
Towards my bake, but haven’t eat it.
I can’t think why, that’s rather rude
To shun the chance to try my pud.
The time is nigh for my Showstopper,
A tour de force – ‘twill be a whopper.
A human effigy’s required –
(Oh help! I’m feeling rather tired!)
A spongy statue’s what I’m giving
Of Katie Price (hope she’s forgiving!)
I pray her boobies will not break off –
If so, I’ll never win the Bake Off.
They’re judging baker of the week,
But it’s not me – what bloody cheek!
Our Mildred’s won it for her flavours
(I bet she offered Paul her favours!)
But now it’s time to end this pome –
They’ve ordered me to go straight home.
It was spring time when we met. You came to me among the green sword-like tulip bulbs pushing their way through the soil, the fragrant hyacinths throwing open their candlewax blooms to greet you, the rose-red camellia lighting the dark corners of the garden, the rose thorns waiting to catch the hand that prunes them and the leaf buds exploding on the branches.
In summer we watched the grass grow around us as we sat and learnt each other, we felt the branches swaying over us in the breeze and the lavender lent its fragrance to heighten our passion.
As autumn approached the grass turned dry and spare, the leaves fell upon our dying embers, the wind become sharp and harsh.
In winter the snow fell. When the snow went you went too. You left me cold, cold as snow, cold as winter wind, cold as bitter frost.
In spring, the tulip swords cut into my being, the flower scents made jagged my breath, the camellia flowers and leaf buds mocked me in their brightness. And the rose thorns? Perhaps just a few memories had snagged on them waiting to be untangled when the time was come.
This is a true account; the facts are exactly as described. The interpretation is Sue’s alone. See what you think.
They had gathered at Louise’s house that Christmas Day, twelve of them in all. Everybody made it, despite the snow. The house offered a wonderful Christmas venue, with a large sitting room dominated by a beautiful inglenook with a roaring log fire, and the dining room had a table long enough to seat everybody. It was reminiscent of a scene from a Christmas card and it seemed that nothing could disturb the cosy atmosphere.
Seasonal music played whilst the presents were distributed and opened. Pride of place went to the little boy’s remote control rat, and there was much bumping of skirting boards. The adults oohed and aahed with genuine pleasure at the gifts they received. Louise, well into adulthood, was delighted at the CD of songs from Annie, the film, and played it for the rest of the afternoon, singing along with it. The children didn’t need much encouragement to join in, whether or not they knew the words!
It was a wonderful, typical Christmas, with the usual cooking-by-panic, with the odd fingertip being chopped off by the peeler. The food, late of course, was delicious, washed down by Nick’s well-chosen wine. You could always rely on Nick for a good wine.
Later, the children were getting tired and it was time for them to go home. Those who were staying had a lovely evening, with much consumption of cheese and chocolate. All were feeling very lazy, very full, but above all, very happy. Yes, alcohol had been consumed, but not enough to distort the senses. At about half past one in the morning they were starting to think about going to bed, and Ceilidh braved the cold outside for a cigarette. As she stood there, she was surprised to hear the noise of tools. First she heard the screech-scrinch-screech-scrinch of what was possibly a saw. This was followed by the unmistakable tap-tap-tapping of a hammer. Who would be hammering in the early hours of Boxing Day morning, and for such a length of time?
‘Rob’, she asked, as he came out of the house to check that she was all right. ‘Did you hear that?’
Rob replied that he had heard nothing. They stood and listened, but there was nothing more to be heard.
They went back in and Ceilidh told of the strange sounds she had heard. Everybody speculated as to what they could be. Then Sue said, ‘You do realise that this is allegedly the most haunted village in England and that the pub just around the corner is called the Blacksmith’s Arms? Nobody ever seems to stay there long…’
One Christmas in Lapland, a baby was born to an unusual couple called Mr & Mrs Claus. This baby had hair so blonde that it looked almost white in some lights. He was covered in hair; as well as his head, it covered his back, his arms, his legs, and, worst of all, his face. The doctors explained that it was called lanugo, and it was quite common for babies to be born with it. It would soon clear away. They took him home from hospital, dressed in the sweetest little red sleepsuit, complete with a little red hood.
‘Well, we know have to call him Santa, said Mrs Claus, but he looks like a little Nick. We will name him Santa Nicholas Claus.’
‘You are so special’, sang Mr Claus, whose name was Canta, ‘Our special little Santa Nicky-Nicky-Nick-Nick.’
Weeks went by, and the whitish hairy covering gradually fell off from Santa’s body; it fell from his back, his arms and his legs. But somehow, it didn’t seem to be completely disappearing from his face. It remained around his mouth and chin, giving the impression that he was wearing a white beard and moustache.
As he grew, still bearded and moustached, his parents kept telling him how special he really was, and that he would have a special mission in life, following in his father’s footsteps. He loved hearing these legends in which he was to play a modern-day part. They told him of the travels he would undertake, and the joy he would bring to children everywhere.
When he started school, the other children laughed at his facial hair, cruel as children often can be. The teachers took the bullies aside and explained about Santa’s special differences. As time went by, these children learned to love and protect Santa from cruel strangers. They played with him and helped him as he mastered his sleigh technique, and befriended his reindeer playmates. They helped him to memorize the maps from the atlas, so that he knew the routes to every country in the world.
When he was thirteen, he was given a very special group of reindeer for a birthday present. The leader of this herd was called Rudolph, and could be recognised from quite a distance by an unusual red colouring on his nose. He trained these reindeer to obey his every instruction. In these training sessions, as he munched his mince pies washing them down with a drop of contraband sherry, they would do anything he asked them to for carrots.
At the age of fifteen, it was time for Santa to start to fulfil his destiny. On December 24th of that year, an elf came to escort him, with Rudolph and the other reindeer pulling the sleigh, to the elf factory where they made all the toys. When his sack was laden and he was seated on his sleigh, he commanded the reindeer to fly off to begin the deliveries. The magic he brought to children everywhere was indescribable.
This went on year after year, and children began to expect their visit from Santa. One year, however, he got to hear about somebody called the AntiSanta, or Anta for short, who was going around in a sleigh pretending he was the real Santa. He also wore a red suit, and carried a big sack, and went around scaring children and stealing and breaking their toys. They thought that Santa had turned bad, and didn’t really love them. At this, Santa went into action. He harnessed up his reindeer, and drove his sleigh to where he had heard Anta was operating. He demanded that Anta should stop his tricks immediately, or he would have to stop him; he couldn’t risk the children being so upset. Anta was not one to give in easily, and jumped into his sleigh, whipping his reindeer to make them go. Santa was so angry to see this, and requested Rudolf and the gang to fly after them.
They were running neck and neck, and Santa was formulating his plan to stop Anta, when he realised there was a small child in Anta’s sleigh. The boy called out to him, ‘Santa! Please will you help me to escape from my father? He is very cruel to me and many other children, and his evil nature breaks my heart. If you take me with you, I promise I will be your helper and make each Christmas Eve easier for you. I want to help to make the children happy.’
Santa could not resist such a plea, and, urging Rudolph to go even faster, he flew past Anta’s sleigh, plucking the boy from there and settling him in his own sleigh. The boy, who was called Fanta, begged Santa to somehow prevent his father from continuing his evil practices. Santa tucked Fanta securely down into the depths of his sleigh, and sped after Anta. As he got near to him again, Anta shouted that Santa would never stop him except by killing him. Santa knew that he could never kill anybody, but realised that he would have to destroy Anta’s sleigh to be able to thwart his plans. Anta flew high and fast, but Santa flew higher and faster. He passed Anta, and managed to bump him off course. Anta was enraged and from then on it was sleigh bells at dawn. All hell was let loose. Anta charged at Santa’s sleigh, again and again. As each charge came, Rudolph would lead the other reindeer to duck and dive, just getting away from Anta’s sleigh at the last minute. Anta flew high and he flew low; he flew sideways and backwards and even upside down. Rudolph choreographed Santa’s flight, soaring even higher, lower, further to the side and back, and spinning over and over. Fanta felt exhilarated. His cheeks were red, his eyes sparkled and his hair stood on end.
The fight, however, was soon to come to an abrupt end. Anta zoomed in on Santa, aiming to smash him into a big, old oak tree. Santa and his reindeer stayed perfectly still until the last moment, then slipped to one side, causing Anta to crash straight into the tree. His sleigh crumbled into a million pieces of wood, and he was left sitting in a heap of snow in the middle of the remains of the sleigh. He had banged his head, which now felt as though it was whirling around. Santa took a harness which had survived the disintegration of Anta’s sleigh, and tied up Anta in a web of reins and buckles. Anta was led into Santa’s sleigh, and sat helpless as Santa transported him to the elves factory. He was handed over to the chief elf, who had instructions to keep him imprisoned until he was an old man, and to make him help with the toy manufacture in exchange for his food.
Fanta was a kind boy, and didn’t wish to see anybody suffer as he had suffered, but he knew that was the only way to prevent Anta’s cruelty to all the boys and girls. As it was now Christmas Eve, the elves loaded all the presents onto the sleigh, and Fanta got to ride with Santa, helping to deliver all the presents around the world. He was so good at this that Santa gave him lots of presents and promised to make him his apprentice, and to take him with him every year. ‘You’re hired!’ he said.
When they got back to Lapland, Santa took Fanta into his home, and promised that he would always be able to live there. He noticed that Fanta was holding something, which he held out to Santa. ‘You give presents and joy to everyone around the world, but you don’t have any presents yourself, since your parents are now too old and frail to get you any. I have made you a model reindeer from a piece of my father’s sleigh. It’s not much, but it’s all I have. I hope you like it’, he said shyly.
Santa really loved it. With tears in his eyes, he hugged his adoptive son, and told him that he was special too, and that one day, he, too, would be equally renowned and adored. If you wake up one Christmas Eve, and you see a small boy helping Santa to fill the stockings, do not be surprised, for that will be Fanta.
HAVE A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Story inspired by @735songs
In a moment of madness, I signed up for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Now the tips and incentives are rolling into my Twitter box and writers everywhere are chattering like Magpies about planning, plotting, choosing writing hats, making time, gagging and tying up children in the cellar. And me? I am befuddled. Am I going to succeed in producing 50,000 words to order? I don’t know. Am I even going to start? Yes, I am (I think). I have been planning, and have a reasonable idea of my story. I have all the time in the world. I can put two words together and come up with a picture of many parts. So – what is my problem? Well, I admit to a dreadful lack of application. After 300 words or so my mind wonders. I think of food, I tweet, I play Scrabble (one of the obligatory 3 games a day at least). I also find it hard to write quickly and lightly, I pay far too much attention to using the right word from the beginning. I will be away for a few days, so will need to get ahead of myself and have catching up to do. But my biggest drawback is FEAR: fear that I can’t produce the volume of words, fear that they won’t be good enough, fear that I am not really a writer and am kidding myself. So, Nanowrimo or Nonowrimo? There is only one way for me to find out – go for it.
The sky cried tears of blood that day. The big rusty blotches wept down the walls of the cottage. Some said it was a sign that the world was weary, that God was angry with us, that he would finish it all. Some said it was just a freak of nature; but what is nature without God? They were all wrong; I knew it was for me.
‘Thou shalt not kill.’ That is what it says in the Bible. But what could I do when it was a choice between killing him, and protecting my children, or at least those that are left to me. God had already taken two from me before I lost my poor Margaret. She had been trying to help her father, carrying his ale to him, when she tripped on his foot and the ale spilled out. He beat her about the head: battered it until the blood ran from her nose and her mouth. I tried to pull him away, but he knocked me out of the way onto the ground. When she groaned, I thanked God that she was still alive, but groaning was all she could do after that, groaning and weeping. My beautiful daughter was no longer wholly dwelling in that shell; her spirit was with God, and he had left me with just her frail body which could do nothing. I tended what remained of her, and somehow she continued to exist.
The little ones had always feared him, but after this they were filled with terror. They crept around him like little mice around a cat, and took such care when he gave them orders; but children do make mistakes – we all do. It happened some months after he had devastated Margaret’s life, and mine with it. This time, he had forbidden Thomas to eat supper, because of a minor misdemeanour, but caught him taking some bread. There was no time for me to stop him – just one slap to the head, and Thomas was gone from me; this time, not even a living shell of Thomas was left to me. He buried my boy under a bush.
I knew what I had to do; I had to save the little ones. I could not lose any more to this monster. I had to consign my soul to eternal damnation in order for my children to live. If I took them and ran, he would come after us. He would pay spies to find us, and would not rest until we were back under his control, so that he could punish us. .
My chance soon came, and I did not hesitate: he was slumped in a beer-drenched stupor, snoring heavily. I took a pillow and pressed it over his face. He moved a little, but was too drunk to save himself. In death, his body appeared larger and uglier than ever. Most look at peace on their deathbed, but not him; he had no peace within him
It was vital that I got away before my actions were discovered. I needed to act instantly and decisively. I felt fear for the future, but this was nothing compared to the terror to which the children and I had been accustomed.
I had left Margaret in her usual corner. I could feel her eyes on me, but I don’t know how much she understood of what had occurred. She was making a low moaning sound, she was weeping, but that was her usual state. Did she realise what I had done, what I had to do? She looked weary; weary of this life, or, rather, of her limited life. I could read the pain through her eyes, and felt it in every nerve of my body. I could feel her lost spirit pleading with me. I had to do this, there was no choice. Had I stayed, they would have taken me away. She would have no one; no-one to gently unclench those twisted, cramped limbs, to wipe her brow with cooling cloths, to pour drips of liquid sustenance into her open mouth, and hold up her chin until they have found their way down; to do this slowly enough to allow her to breathe and not choke and die on the very thing that keeps her alive. It had to be this way. The little ones would have no one to give them just a chance of a future. I had to do it, for them.
I gave her beer to make it easier for her. The delay was agonising in my need for haste. As I let it trickle down her throat, I poured it too quickly, and her eyes rolled as she fought for breath. I covered her beautiful face with my hand. It didn’t take long.
I will take them far from here. We will walk away and see where God takes us. Perhaps some kind soul may pity us and will take us in, and give us a pittance in exchange for labour. We could go to the sea, to the docks, where there will be sailors far from home. We could maybe find a space in a room where other poor souls like me do what is necessary to keep their children fed. The sailors could help me sustain them.
And if not? Then I know what I have to do.
Barry Bloors, part-time burglar, full-drinker and layabout, took his night job one step too far, and, with a smell of powder and a surprisingly soft “ping”, was knocked from this world into the next.
Hurled through a fortified metal door that creaked open as he approached, banging his elbow as he passed, he found himself in a blisteringly hot, cavernous space, lit by a liquid fire in its depths and by greeny-yellow shuddering orbs, floating by forever. The sound was that of an ocean, aeons deep, with a tide of sobs ebbing and flowing. A stomach-churning smell of roasting rancid pork surrounded him, and a small dark figure, looking disconcertingly like Hitler, pranced around near the bottom, cackling: “Don’t stint on the crackling, lads!”
Satan, for he it was who danced that infernal tango-for-one, spied Barry, reaching him in one impossible leap. “You’re not ready for us yet”, he snarled, “You need more practice. Piss off!”
On his rebound through the ancient door, banging his elbow again, Barry was aware of a tunnel of light pulling him, and he heard an educated voice saying, “He’s coming back.”
“God?” Barry wondered, before the light was switched off and he was told that he was in hospital and had nearly died.
“Mwaaaeurgh”, Barry attempted.
“Never mind, old chap”, soothed the doctor, but Barry’s shout could be heard across the wards:
“CALL THE JOBCENTRE!”