Friday Flash Fiction 900 – Excluded

At 9.30a.m. John sat with his pen poised; it was his turn to attend the compulsory one day workshop entitled ‘Celebrating Diversity in the Workplace’. On the whiteboard were written words and phrases and they were required to jot down their initial thoughts about each. EXCLUDED; John had certainly never been excluded, because he had never been or done anything interesting enough to warrant exclusion. SENT TO COVENTRY; well if he had been sent there he probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway. He still hadn’t put pen to paper but he was thinking. The classroom situation brought back memories of sixth form. All through lower sixth he had secretly adored Annabel; on the first day of upper sixth he was thrilled she was in his form again, this year he would try and approach her. Whose form were you in last year? she had asked innocently. Yours he had muttered bleakly, the crushing awareness of his invisibility blighting further conversation.
Teenagers usually imagine two things; everyone else is having a better time than they are and their parents are boring; in John’s case both were true. As a teenager he had vowed never to live in a suburb, have a mortgage or endlessly discuss double glazing and patio doors; but these things had all come to pass.

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Still nothing written and now everyone was gathering in their discussion groups. No one noticed John had nothing to offer; they were all eager to relate their own unfair treatment in life and work; smokers, pregnant women, drivers, people passed over for promotion… he was glad when the ten minutes was up.
The next question was How have your origins affected your life? For a moment he was stumped; then it dawned on him what was missing from his life; he had nowhere to go back to. He really envied people who could return to their roots; the Welsh had their valleys, the Scots their islands and highlands and the Irish were always getting on ferries to go back home for holidays. But one could hardly say dramatically ‘I need to get back to Middlesex or Middlesex will always be in my blood’. He had never left Middlesex, but it had left him; swallowed up by Greater London, ironic since Middlesex used to surround London.
He realised the group were talking again; proudly relating how their parents’ struggles had inspired them to succeed or how keeping in touch with their roots had given them strong values. John thought of his dreary family, John Smith, they hadn’t even the imagination to give him a middle name. Granddad had been too young for the Great War and his father just too young for the Second World War; they hadn’t needed to go anywhere so they didn’t, he could hardly blame them, where had he been?
That woman was talking again, what did she call herself? Not teacher, oh yes, just call me Jilly everyone. She was asking them to write down what languages they spoke, easy, one. John was filled with admiration for folk who could slip easily from one tongue to another. He was convinced he would have been a more interesting person if he had grown up bilingual, what another dimension to life. You could be 100% British but fly away, step off the plane and stride confidently into another way of life.
Last question before coffee;

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Which aspect of your life or work makes you feel most excluded?
At last John spoke up ‘Well I feel excluded because I haven’t got any diversity.’ They all looked at him blankly, ‘I haven’t even got any issues.’
‘What do you mean by issues?’ asked Call me Jilly.
‘You know, ISSUES, when they say at the end of a programme If you have been affected by any of the issues raised by this programme, please call our helpline, well they should have a helpline for people who can’t find any issues.’ The others laughed, he was getting into his stride. ‘I can’t even find a community to belong to, not the cycling, the deaf or the travelling… and I can’t help the police.’
The discussion was turning into the liveliest of the day.
‘You look like a law abiding chap’ replied one man.
‘Precisely, the police never stop me and when they put out a plea for information from members of the such-and-such community, that is never me’ explained John.
Call me Jilly was getting exasperated now, the workshop was not going the way she intended…
‘I know just what you mean’ piped up a woman’s voice.
John looked over to see an ordinary looking woman he hadn’t noticed before.
‘You go to the art gallery to see a photographic exhibition but it never says on the wall We went to work among members of the Boring Community, giving them cameras to take pictures of their dreary lives and asking them to describe the images in their own dull words. No one ever wants my picture or my opinion.’
She looked around as the others cheered, hardly believing she had spoken up. Everyone was enjoying themselves now, the workshop was much more interesting than expected; with one accord they surged out for their coffee break.
Call me Jilly tried in vain to hold the group back. ‘Everyone, everyone another five minutes till coffee break, we haven’t summed up yet.’ but no one heard her.

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – How long does it take to write a novel? by Janet Gogerty

Today I’m a guest again at Smorgasbord where Sally is showcasing blogs from last year. A lot of things happened on the way to my camper van detective getting his own novel.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post from regular contributor to the archive posts, author Janet Gogerty.

Janet explores a subject that relevant to all of us who have works in progress… and then find when we get around to finishing the project the world has moved on from the original start point, including events, locations and technology.

How long does it take to write a novel?

An image posted by the author.

How long does it take to write a novel? I am going to go for 2014 as the conception of my latest novel ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’. The character of Tobias Elliot Channing, the holder of a degree…

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Sunday Salon – Fact or Fiction?

This week I finished reading two short story collections and one novel. The first I reviewed was Sally Cronin’s ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry’. Once again Amazon rejected my review and as usual I have posted my 5 star review on Goodreads and also decided I should put all my book reviews on my Facebook Author Page.

from Janet Gogerty on 13 February 2020

A delightful collection of all sorts to dip into.

We start with the seasons, words carefully chosen, some poems succinct …I stopped to smell the roses… precious time well spent. Then all things human such as ‘From Cave to the Stars’ the first cave drawings onwards to beaming our messages out beyond the stars. The other verses follow mankind’s evolution. Fairies and other Folk takes us somewhere else, starting with the poignant tale of the ugly troll with the sweet nature. The Natural World peacocks, magpies and a murder of crows. Pets, Random Thoughts then 99 Words in a Flash. Telling a story in just 99 words is a skill. A Close Match is a good opener to this section. In the short story selection Brian the dog wins the day and Jack, another old dog, finds a happy ending. Then cats get their turn and love of a cat helps Millicent stand up for herself. Who can resist Speculative Fiction which starts with a family secret? The Wrong Turn is a poignant story, but we are glad Gerald gets his comeuppance in the next tale. A couple of strange stories and then we finish with a poetic tribute to the author’s mother-in-law. A great collection of all sorts to dip into.

 

Sally’s collection made nice light bedtime reading after some of the television programmes I have been watching.
In Wednesday’s blog I wrote about television, because I know some bloggers do not watch it at all and gathering from the comments, others watch programmes or films with various screens and technology without actually tuning in to live television. But it is good to watch something your friends are also following… do you like fact or fiction on television?
This week we finished watching a real life six part ITV crime drama, White House Farm, about the murder of parents, daughter and two young twin grandsons in August 1985. Lots of us remember it being in the news because it was such a tragedy. At first the daughter with mental health issues was thought to have committed the murders and then killed herself, but the story revolves around the doubts that led to the arrest and trial of the surviving son, Jeremy Bamber. To this day he is still protesting his innocence. The leading detective was sure he could have the case neatly sewn up, convinced it was the daughter, while the sergeant, passed over for promotion more than once we gather, is convinced she could not have done it. Modern viewers brought up on CSI and Silent Witness will have been cringing as evidence was cleared away, blood soaked mattresses burnt. Most of us would agree that a young woman who had little idea of how to use a gun could not have shot everyone and beaten up her father. Added to the tensions in the CID office was the interplay in the family. The twins’ father was separated from his wife and the boys lived with him and his girlfriend, as his ex wife had recently been in a mental hospital. He had just taken her and the boys to the farm to stay with their grandparents, never imagining it was a death sentence. Jeremy Bamber had a girlfriend who after a month turned and gave evidence against him. His cousin was equally suspicious because of the way he behaved afterwards. The Bamber son and daughter were adopted, adding another thread; did he feel he didn’t belong, was he the cuckoo in the nest as his cousin suggested?

https://www.itv.com/presscentre/press-releases/itv-announces-details-new-factual-drama-white-house-farm
Coincidentally Chanel Four had a four part drama running parallel and with a similar theme. Deadwater Fell was set in a village in lovely Scottish countryside. After a happy village event introducing the characters, everyone is awoken that night to see the local doctor’s house on fire. His village policeman friend manages to rescue him and drag the wife out, too late. In the darkness and smoke he had discovered the three little girls ( as cute and adorable as the twin boys in the other drama ) were padlocked into their bedroom. At the post mortem it is discovered the children had already been killed with a drug injection. What on earth was going on? The village is grief stricken and then further shocked when the doctor comes out of his coma and pieces together what happened and claimed his wife killed his children, tried to kill him and committed suicide! Amongst all this going on are the complex lives of the leading characters, revealed in flashbacks. The policeman’s ex wife is with someone else, but their boys are with him and his girlfriend and they are undergoing IVF. She was the best friend of the dead woman and worked at the same school with her, but had accidentally had sex with the doctor once – an event she described as controlling sex as he had slammed her face against the patio door!
The policeman begins to suspect his doctor friend; their marriage was not all sweetness and because of ‘what happened after Harriet was born’ he was regularly tranquilizing her, against her will. And then there was the poor grandmother, the doctor’s mother, I felt sorry for her; not only had she lost her grandchildren, but began to suspect her son, perhaps had suspected all along…
It was a good story and we know from the news that whatever writers make up can never be as strange and awful as real life.

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/deadwater-fell-finale-channel-4-review-david-tennant-cush-jumbo-1382177

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #mystery – Wish you were Here by Janet Gogerty

Today I am once again a guest of Sally Cronin at Smorgasbord where she is sharing posts of fellow bloggers from last year. This blog was inspired by fellow blogger Beetley Pete.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post from regular contributor to the archive posts, author Janet Gogerty.Janet shares a short story based on the popular pastime of sending postcards to family and friends when on holiday…

An image posted by the author.

I started collecting picture post cards when I was eight and still buy them on holiday to send to the oldest and youngest in the family; people like getting mail through their letter box, including Pete who blogs as beetleypete. When he asked if people still sent postcards bloggers started sending them, as you can see on his blog post. Postcards from blogging friends – Beetley Pete

‘If anyone else would like…

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Saturday Surprise — Minis & Critters

Jill is a busy blogger from the USA , usually keeping us up with what’s happening in the world of politics, but on Saturdays she always finds something fun to share. Today take a look at amazing miniatures and cute orphaned joeys.

Filosofa's Word

Good Saturday morning and welcome to, at long last …weekend


I came across something the other night so amazing I just had to share it with you!  I’d like to introduce you to Chris Toledo …Chris-ToledoChris has three things that I don’t have:  unlimited patience, artistic talent, and lots of time.  Chris has had a love of art and architecture ever since childhood, and he has combined the two to do some amazing miniatures.  Says Chris …

“Each model I create starts with extensive research of the era and time period I’m trying to recreate. Over the years I’ve collected home plans and building guides from the early 20th century to make sure my pieces are 100% accurate representations of the past.  The process for building my pieces is much like building an actual house or room. I start with simple layout drawings to make sure everything flows cohesively…

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Summer is Coming …

At this terrible time in Australia I’ve shared from Australia a poem, a painting and now this short fiction from an Australian author I follow – Cage Dunn – stark imagery of everything lost.

Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales

The old homestead needed more than a touch of TLC. It needed to be demolished and the ground razed and the black stumps chopped up and buried.

Summer. Sandy hated summer. The heat, the flies, the extra feed for the animals. More water sucked from the stinky bore. She couldn’t drink that water, she couldn’t grow that feed. The animals wouldn’t last this summer.

The last flock of breeders. There’d be no more after this. Her heart wasn’t in it anymore.

The house. The beautiful old house. Sandy visualised it as it was when she bought it.

Edwardian, veranda’s on four sides, double-French doors that opened onto the cool veranda.

Now it was a black mass of charcoaled timber and blackened stone. The beautiful Jarrah floor was dust and ash under the stumps.

What was left was the chimney, the cast-iron wood stove, two or three pencils of framing timber…

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Australia is Burning

This touching painting says it all.

A Word in Your Ear

Our beautiful and very talented relative Melina who is Greek Australian painted this heartbreaking image.  It seems to have touched many people and her post is going viral.  She has given permission for the image to be shared but asks that a donation be made to one of the many charities set up to deal with the crisis.  Her website on face book is called Melina illustrates –  https://www.facebook.com/melanippeart/ if you would like to follow the thread and see the photo /comments/ links to donation sites.

Currently Mitch’s brother and his family, who were trapped on the beach in Malacoota, are still in their car trying to get out and back to Melbourne.  We have friends and family in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the territories,   We are thinking of you all.  XXXXXXXX

N.B.  Please note the date on the picture should read 2020 not 2019 – already acknowledged by…

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How was it for You?

How was your New Year – hopefully better than Brian’s. Enjoy Grace’s story.

Anecdotage

January is my least favourite month-cold, dark and seemingly interminable. Many like to begin the month with a party. Here’s a story I wrote years ago about a New Year’s party that did not go according to plan…

The Rescue Party
Brian Meadon peers out into the darkness and is forced to admit a grudging fascination for the way the snowflakes are looming out of the sky and settling in an ominous and ever growing heap on his car’s windscreen. His initial feelings of hot anger and frustration with the car’s failings have ebbed away to be replaced with somewhat colder resignation. There is still just enough light outside to make out the writing on a road sign beyond his lay-by. ‘Stoodley Interchange’, it asserts, taunting Brian with confident superiority, even though accumulations of snow are creeping up its legs.
Settling back into his driving seat once more, Brian decides…

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the battle (do or . . .)

I have been following Frank Prem’s unique poetry for a while and quite recently read his ‘Devil In The Wind – voices from the 2009 black Saturday bushfires’ , little realising that a worse nightmare was unfolding in Australia. It’s already Saturday in Australia and as we sleep tonight Frank speaks for many towns and people facing fearsome fires.

Frank Prem Poetry

today is the day
(for the moment
at least)
that they say
might bring the creature
to our doorsteps

it will start out cool
then boil up
later on
into searing

looking out the window
the smoky haze
is not too bad
today

though I can still taste
yesterday’s plastic
in the air
and the stench
of burning rubber

mostly
what I notice
making the ground
seem like
a carpet that has come alive
is the flits
and the flights
of a cloud
of small blue butterflies

and we will stay

it has been decided

that
is our plan

stay
in the township
though
we will not seek
to defend
at our door

there are places
to run
to be as safe
as anywhere else is

and we will do our best
to survive
along
with all our neighbours

I will go
to my workplace
in the afternoon
to undertake…

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The Power of the Written Word

My fellow Remainer and local blogger Grace sums up well what the past year has meant for many of us and also pays tribute to those people we meet in real life. Lots of us belong to groups of all sorts and they are an important part of our lives.

Anecdotage

So 2019 is grinding towards an end, and what a complex, mangled year it has been for us, here in the UK.

On our small island with its natural water barrier between us and the world, a civil war of words has raged since 2016, over whether we should pull up the drawbridge to our sea moat and withdraw into our brittle little shell or continue to relate with our nearest neighbours in the same convivial way we’ve enjoyed for 50 years.

I’m disconsolate to say to my overseas readers, not only that the drawbridge fans have won the war of words, but that all of we ordinary citizens, those of us who don’t have huge investments squirrelled away or are not hedge fund managers, who are not the fabulously rich elite and right wing newspaper owners, we have all lost.

I can’t dwell for too long on an issue…

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