Silly Saturday – Puzzling Pictures

Can you remember what any of these pictures from previous blogs are? No, nor can I…

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Did you get ten out of ten? The answers might be, in no particular order…

London South Bank – street entertainers.

Angel of The North

Wonder sheep at the New Forest Show

Odeon cinema Bournemouth

World’s oldest clock

Font, Salisbury Cathedral

Antony Gormley – Another Time, Margate

Lego model of Durham Cathedral

Valentine Night Storm damage

Floating Flowers

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Friday Flash Fiction – Black and Silver

She is not like the other women and I will dress her like no other. The whole world to see my creation, no apprentice will lay a finger on the precious material; every stitch sewn myself, I owe it to my country. All the colours of the rainbow; that is what they will wear on the night, diaphanous, floating, clinging, swirling, but my girl will be in black and silver, except perhaps rubies in her tiara, to compliment her black hair.

The other women walk and that is all they do, they have no art; she moves with elegance and speed in his hands. I unlock the drawer with the single key and take out a small box and another, sprinkle onto my palm the finest sequins, the most perfect pearl beads. From a tin I unfurl skeins of silver thread. I put them away; the designs must stay in my head while I cut and pleat.

Today she comes for a fitting, the bodice is perfect. She is a real woman, her body firm and strong, yet when she stands motionless, as I check the fastenings, she could be a doll.

The evening comes and I have summoned the best artist to dress her hair with the silver tiara, to make her dark eyes shine and her lips as roses. Her man in black is ready to lead her in front of millions.

They dance and spin, his strong arms lift her, she soars, head held high like the bird she is. When this magic night is over the crowds cheer; surely the silver ice will turn to gold.

It is not to be; silver turns to bronze. But it does not matter, she skated perfectly, my beautiful black swan.

 

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MicroActivist Connor Berryhill inspiring kids to help protect the oceans

My final environmental hero for this year – looks like he is headed for a good 2019.

Life & Soul Magazine

Eleven-year-old Connor Berryhill is on a mission to connect youth with the world’s oceans, creating “the next generation of ocean warriors”.

The young native of San Diego, California was only 5-years-old when an underwater encounter with an endangered monk seal in Kauai set him on a path to take care of the world’s most vulnerable creatures.

Now 11, Connor Berryhill has taken his small-scale activism big and started his own nonprofit, MicroActivist.

One of the ways in which MicroActivist inspire kids to become ocean warriors is through beach clean ups.

MicroActivist say: “Our [MicroActivist’s] beach cleanups remove trash from the beach…but they also make kids fall in love with the ocean and become ocean warriors forever!

“We strive to make each cleanup a unique and fun experience where we not only clean the entire beach (as only a group of energetic kids can) but we create an ocean experience the kids will…

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Mistletoe and Whine…

Sunday Salon’s guest blogger sums up perfectly, for me and many of us, Xmas Musac. What do you like to hear at this time of year?

Anecdotage

By the time this post is published I will have heard Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’, Slade’s ‘So Here it is, Merry Christmas’, Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, Wizard’s ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’ [a nightmare scenario in my opinion], Shakin Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’, Band Aid’s ‘Do they Know it’s Christmas?’ and all the rest of the sorry, repetitive regurgitation of Christmas musical tat that is on a loop everywhere at this time of year, about 1000 times.

You have to feel some empathy for the hapless shop assistants. Not only must they pander to the whims of increasingly irritable customers whilst wearing ‘amusing’ festive jumpers, hats or elf outfits but must also suffer the incessant caterwauling of the aforementioned Christmas songs; an assault to the ears, a type of audio Chinese water torture.

I am not so much of a Humbug. I like the lights…

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Silly Saturday – Queen’s Speech Leaked

An unnamed source, claiming to be close to a Buckingham Palace spokesman, says part or all of the Queen’s Christmas Message has been leaked to a little known writer and blogger.

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Queen Elizabeth the second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, broadcasts her message to the nation and The Commonwealth on television at 3pm on Christmas Day. How hard it must be to condense a year, a lifetime, the longest reign in the world, into ten minutes of wisdom interspersed with family movies.

But this year it seems the Queen is set to shake the nation out of their after lunch stupor.

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“It was with great joy that I and my family celebrated two weddings this year, plus the birth of a new prince, reminding us all how important families are. We take comfort in the love of our families while all around us the world seems to face so many problems. The Christmas message of peace and goodwill can sometimes seem so far away and the World so hard to change, but we can all play our part. We must hold on to hope, at the same time taking every opportunity to offer help in practical ways. When my family and I took an AncestoryDNA test earlier this year we looked forward eagerly to the result, wondering what surprises lay in store. When the Duke of Edinburgh and I received our results we were reminded just how close we are to European Royalty, to mainland Europe itself; 33% Europe West, 33% Europe East 33% Europe Central were our precise results. It is for this reason, among others, that in 2019, the Royal House of Mountbatten-Windsor will be relocating to mainland Europe before the finalising of Brexit in March. The House of Liechtenstein have already offered us sanctuary, as has King Felipe VI of Spain.

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But though Europe has been occupying our thoughts this year, so too has the Commonwealth and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia were a great showcase. By the time of the next games in 2022 the Commonwealth of Nations will be larger. Last month a delegation from the United States of America visited Buckingham Palace to request closer ties between our two nations. As a result of very positive discussions my government will confirm that the monarchy is to be restored in the north american colonies. They will henceforth be called the United Kingdom of North America and the coronation of King Harry will take place on May Day 2019. Spring will also bring the arrival of the baby expected by King Harry and Queen Megan, this baby will be heir to the throne of the UKNA. It will be a great blessing for Megan to be reunited with her family and for her subjects to be united with their neighbours Canada in the Commonwealth of Nations.

May all our countries, ancient and modern know peace in 2019, I wish God’s blessing for you and all your families.”

Friday Flash Fiction – Virtual Christmas Card

Post Office

Post Office Lady: ‘Six pounds ninety six pence please.’

Alan: ‘Sorry, I only wanted a book of TWELVE SECOND CLASS stamps.’

Post Office Lady: ‘Yes, six pounds ninety six pence…’

Alan: ‘What! How much are… never mind, just give me one stamp to post this letter.’

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Home

Lynne: ‘What do you mean Alan, virtual Christmas Cards?’

Alan: ‘I can design my own card, e-mail it.’

Lynne: ‘But I’ve already bought the cards.’

Alan: ‘Use those for the hand deliveries. We’re not posting at that price.’

Lynne: ‘What about mother?’

Alan: ‘She’s got e-mail.’

Lynne: ‘She only looks at it once a month, she wouldn’t know how to download or whatever it is you do.’

Alan: ‘She’ll manage, it will be in Jay PeG  – JPG.’

Lynne: ‘How will you design a card?’

Alan: ‘Use one of my photos, that nice snowy scene I took on the golf course.’

Lynne: ‘The week before they found that body in the copse after the snow melted? That’s not very nice.’

Alan: ‘Your mother won’t know.’

Lynne: ‘They never found who did it, did they?’

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Xmas Day at Lynne’s mother’s house

 Lynne: ‘Oh, you’ve got a new painting Mother, is it an Impressionist?’

Lynne’s mother: ‘It’s the Christmas card you sent.’

Alan: ‘It can’t be, that wasn’t real.’

Lynne’s mother: ‘Sean next door came round to help me with my e-mails, I didn’t know what all those higgledy piggledy letters and numbers were. He put it on a stick and took it to work; they’ve got an A2 printer. Hey presto, the biggest card I’ve ever had.’

Lynne: ‘Your photograph doesn’t look very good blown up Alan. Oh who’s that near the trees in a red jumper, I thought nobody was out playing that day. No hang on, that’s not a golf club he’s got in his hand, it’s a spade, I don’t think that’s a red jumper, it looks like blood!’

Ghosts of Christmas Past – Episode Three

Over the years there have been very different Christmases; in one Scottish town we had too much food with one family on Christmas Day, then a Boxing Day with the other family who didn’t appear to have any food in the house; we went out searching for food, but all the shops were shut.

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One year the longed for white Christmas arrived. My sister and brother-in-law were coming on their first holiday back to England. We had just bought our first place, a small two bedroom ground floor flat, which had the fortuitous novelty of gas central heating. Everyone had told my sister a white Christmas was very unlikely in the south of England. My brother-in-law’s sister lived with her family in a village near Dover, they came up to stay with us to be reunited. It snowed and there we were six adults and two toddlers almost snow bound in a flat that now seemed very small. I recall that all the adults had different drink requirements, but at one stage we couldn’t get any drinks as brother-in-law had been pinned in the kitchen by his sister for a tearful argument about how fairly their precious time in England was going to be shared between she and I. As she was having us all for actual Christmas Day and Boxing Day I’m not sure why she was complaining. My husband was relieved to avoid the trip to Kent due to his shift work and was going to spend the day with my aunt and uncle who had been deprived of the rest of us for Christmas. It began to look as if none of us would get to Kent if the trains and roads were snowed up… we did and Christmas morning was beautiful, trudging through snowy fields with the little ones , then back to a roaring log fire in their cottage. Alas the circle of heat emanating from the open fire did not spread to the rest of the cottage. It was freezing, especially for the Australian contingent, the bathroom, being a mere asbestos attachment to the rest of the building, was particularly uninviting.

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If you have access to children Christmas feels more real and we had a few years with four generations, though children are a risk as well, they are liable to be sick all over great aunty’s sofa.
Christmas is something to be ignored and got through for some people, while for others it brings enormous stress as they juggle extended families. But it would seem strange for the year to peter out devoid of any celebrations.

For writers Christmas provides plenty of plot possibilities. In my Brief Encounters Trilogy three Christmases pass, with an ecclectic group of people assembled each time; plenty of tension and opportunity for both love and discord.

Leaflet 2015 back

 

 

Happy birthday, Charles

One week till Christmas and here’s something to liven things up. I wonder how many versions there have been of this carol? This one is certainly BIG! Thanks to Bluebird who brings us music and jokes regularly.

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In honor of the birthday of English hymn writer Charles Wesley (1707-1788), here is one of his greatest hits in an arrangement by American composer Dan Forrest (b. 1978) of a melody by German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), performed by the combined choirs and orchestra of Concordia College

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The Game of Life – Last Posting Date

Today is the last posting day for second class in the United Kingdom. After our early Xmas I thought there would be a long relaxing period of sending out a few cards and posting a couple of parcels. I put off working out who to send cards and whose cards to include THE NEWS in; I have written a few messages, but it has reminded me of a friend’s Christmas card story. They got a card from a friend in their previous town; it read something like

Happy Christmas from Christine (mother) and Joe (son ) 

    ps Pete ( husband ) was killed in a car accident.

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Cancer Conversations

In a previous incarnation I had a friend who was the practice manager at our doctor’s surgery in a Victorian Villa. The doctor had ambitions to build up a care home, it never got beyond three residents upstairs with windows in the sitting room overlooking the church – and the graveyard. Occasionally my friend would rope some of us in to cover a shift, usually a cosy evening watching telly and knitting with two old ladies ( luckily nothing ever went wrong as I had no medical training ). One time there was a chap as well, ninety two years old with bowel cancer. He complained that he had led a good life and did not deserve to be punished. We wondered why he was not grateful for a long life and had he never noticed illness can strike the good and the bad, young and old…

 

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Reasons to be Fearful

With family from nought to ninety two years on three continents there is no catastrophe I haven’t imagined happening – except the bizarre accident that killed my cousin recently, I had never imagined that one. Having one fear realised does not mean the rest of the family are now magically protected, the rules of the game of life don’t work like that. But most of us, most of the time, are still comforted by the thought that major disasters and cruel twists of fate happen to other people.