Sunday Salon

I haven’t posted any reviews since last year… for a good while actually. All these reviews are on Goodreads, but I am still not having much luck with Amazon. I reviewed ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive…’ last year and Amazon rejected it. I submitted my review for Dog Bone Soup yesterday and the rejection email came back in ten minutes! The other two reviews I submitted today, but have yet to hear back.

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I’m starting with the poems of Frank Prem, because the fires in Australia have been on all our minds. He has been posting new poems about living in fear and smoke and I have put a link to one of his recent blogs.

Devil In The Wind by Frank Prem

When I started reading Devil In The Wind I couldn’t have imagined that the latest fires in Australia were going to build up to the most terrible conflagration ever known. Frank Prem’s unique style of poetry tells of the 2009 Black Saturday in Victoria. His opening dedication says ‘For all those affected by wildfire. May our love for the bush remain, while our hearts grow ever more resilient.’ Words needed more than ever.

As soon as I started reading, the voices were real; what people saw, trying to explain how it happened. His brief lines, often just one word, no punctuation or capital letters, tell the story perfectly ‘…anyway … out of the smoke came a sort of convoy…’   ‘she could see the glow from over murmungee way…’

This is the second book I have read by the author and I am looking forward to reading his third volume. Looking back at the words of Devil In The Wind I find myself reading it again. 5 Stars

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/111750606/posts/29533

 

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car:: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

Kindle Edition
by Jo Elizabeth Pinto (Author)

We all love to peek into other people’s real lives and I expect most of us who are sighted played that game when we were children, screwing your eyes tight shut to imagine what it is like to be blind. Computers have made the world more accessible for the visually impaired, as long as they have the right technology, but this author tells us about the domestic side of life, shopping, cooking and caring for a child. The title came about when the young daughter was envied because her mother was allowed to bring her dog into school. The teacher asked what it was like to have a blind mother; silly question because the child knew nothing else, but this little girl sounds a very sparky character and replied ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive The Car’. The short episodes from the lives of the mother and daughter are told with humour and the problems faced are not always the disability, but other people’s attitudes. A big positive side is the time together; walking everywhere means time to talk and a child looking about her so she can describe the world to her mother. How much better than being stuck in the back of a car. Most of us find it hard to cope with a lively toddler. This book mainly covers 8 and 9 years old, I would love to read about the early years. 5 Stars

 

DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction): A Boomer’s Journey Kindle Edition
by Bette Stevens (Author)

If you are not from the USA or have never been there you will surely know this country through the eyes of your television set. Starting with Hollywood and moving on to the television era this was the first country to project an image to the English speaking world and beyond. By the fifties and sixties other countries were catching up with television, but most of us will have grown up with American programmes, funny or glossy. As adults we know life is not always as portrayed on television. The story of Shawn and his family is totally captivating. Poverty is relative; if everybody is in the same boat there is no shame. Shawn’s family are struggling to eat, no running water, but they have a television set. Most children at their local school are living the good life portrayed on television. The late fifties and early sixties were prosperous, the space age had started, but not everyone was sharing the good times. For everyone there will be the shock of Kennedy’s assassination. Shawn as the eldest has to use all his ingenuity to keep the family going. This is also a universal story that happens in every time and place; the woman who soon finds out she’s married a loser, alcohol leads to domestic violence. The story wisely starts and ends with Shawn leaving to join the army; a poignant ending because he has achieved his aim, but at what price with Vietnam surely his destination?
5 Stars

 

The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn

Two lives and two stories, people torn apart by war and brought together. The author has written engagingly about life during the war for ordinary people and the ironies; soldiers signing up to fight then finding themselves in limbo. There is the unique situation that usually only comes with war, when some couples were separated for years, not every soldier got to come home on leave; some are lucky, some families won’t survive the war, let alone see each other again. 4 Stars

 

If you enjoy crime fiction and television adaptations take a look at yesterday’s Silly Saturday.

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Here is the reply Amazon sent me for Dog Bone Soup

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
Amazon Community Guidelines

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A few common issues to keep in mind:

Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

UPDATE

Today, Tuesday, I received the same rejection e-mails for Devil In The Wind and The Chalky Sea.

Silly Saturday Slowly

First there was slow food, then there was slow television, the antidote to 24 hour news, sport and noisy, violent dramas. With slow TV you can spend two hours drifting down a canal or take a real time steam train journey.

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At this time of year in the northern hemisphere you may be settling down on winter evenings to watch your favourite dramas and probably your favourite crime dramas. January 2020 saw the start of new series of two popular and enduring detectives.
As Vera drove her Land Rover through the wilds of Northumberland a thought occurred. What if she just kept driving and didn’t bother to arrive at the police station, didn’t get any urgent calls on her mobile about a murder? Two hours of lowering Northumberland skies and rugged green landscape, advertisements providing the only drama. How relaxing.

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Vera Stanhope is the creation of a crime writer I enjoy, Anne Cleaves and is played by one of our national treasures, Brenda Blethyn. Antidote to glamorous cops, a middle aged woman in sensible, scruffy clothes and the muddy Land Rover. Some of her team have changed but she’s still going strong in this tenth series.

http://www.anncleeves.com/vera/

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A complete contrast is Granchester, set in a delightful village near Cambridge in the nineteen fifties. The stories were originally written by James Runcie, son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury. His crime solving vicar Sidney Chambers has been replaced by an impossibly handsome young vicar who rides a motorbike and fortunately also has a talent for talking to people ( getting confessions out of them ) and solving crimes, helped by the police inspector Geordie Keating. Life in the lovely village is slow, but a surprising number of murders occur. Life in the village would be pleasantly slower if there were no murders or crime of any sort and the police inspector became a lay reader and helped the vicar with his church services instead.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2020-01-17/grantchester-series-five-cast-characters/

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Slow Crime, No Crime could be applied to dramas set in any part of the world. There is always ‘the drive’ – through Scandinavian snow or the red dust of The Kimberleys at the top of Western Australia. Frantic chase scenes in cities could easily be slowed to a halt with road works or green protestors.
But how soon before the novelty wore off for viewers? The truth is, most of us don’t want people being killed just for our Sunday evening entertainment. We want to see scenery and in winter we like to watch anything filmed in summer, but we also want to peep into other people’s lives. The advantage of murders is that they give the perfect excuse for screen writers, the police and us to dissect every detail of the life of the victim and the lives of every person known to the victim.

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Do you like fast crime, slow crime or no crime?

Off Line

This is what happened last year, last week, next week…

SERVER NOT FOUND, words guaranteed to strike dread in the hearts of anyone expecting to go on line in the next few seconds. When I saw those words I tried every device in the house, only to get the same answer. I did not need to go on the internet, it was a catching up with housework day. At least we hadn’t had a power cut; electricity not WiFi was all that was needed to work the washing machine, vacuum cleaner and most importantly the radio, the only companion that makes chores bearable.

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So why was I experiencing medium levels of stress, anxiety and restlessness?
First cause was the question Why? Obviously the Internet works by magic, but what had broken the spell and would the magic ever return?
Second worry; I was due to Facetime family in Australia early the next morning.
Third problem; I needed ( wanted ) to post tomorrow’s blog.
Finally came the hollow panic: what was I missing while off line? Would I be the last relative to put a sad emoticon on Facebook if a baby wasn’t well or if someone was in casualty? Were there any important e-mails? Would WordPressdom manage without me, were there any comments to comment on?

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There was a time when I wasn’t on Facebook or WordPress; further back I didn’t have an e-mail address. There is a telephone in the house attached to a land line, which at some stage beams up to a satellite. I could just phone Australia. Anybody could phone me if there was an emergency. I could still get on with writing on paper … or Microsoft Word… if I ever finished the housework. So why was I still anxious?
When the long suffering Cyberspouse came home he dismissed the gravity of the situation, commenting calmly that Virgin was probably ‘down’. However, he decided he would unplug the router and plug it in again. Instantly messages and Whatsapps pinged into our mobile phones. Facebook lit up the large ( old television ) screen of my desk top computer. I was delighted, proof indeed that the internet works by magic. The way to restore it is by a magic spell that I cannot perform; the internet has to be switched off and on by someone who is not a technophobe and who is totally uninterested in social media.
I was late cooking dinner that evening ( again ) because I had to check all my multi media connections. And what had I missed?

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Sunset pictures from Facebook photographer friends.
A petition to save a cow swimming in the harbour after escaping from a live export ship in Fremantle Port, Western Australia.
Three million bloggers had commented on thousands of other bloggers’ blogs.
I am not (am I not? ) a Facebook Fanatic or WordPress Prisoner… After several years of being blissfully without a mobile phone I am now on my second third hand Smart phone and used to ( dependent on )the security of knowing I can check Facebook while I am out to make sure I’m not missing anything. I can take photographs with my phone and post them so that Facebook Friends and Instagram Followers do not miss anything I’m doing out in real life. On the bus I can read blogs and post comments…

My Dark and Milk collection has two stories about what can go horribly wrong on Facebook. ‘You Have One Friend’ and ‘Friend Request’.
Look out for Friday Flash Fiction where you can read ‘You Have One Friend’.

Silly Saturday – Whatever

When Cyberson 2 was a teenager, at that stage when you cannot be seen to be interested in anything or anyone, when you mumble with an imperceptible nod if you pass anyone you know in the street, he and his friends made up a word to use instead of conversation – BLOKO – pronounced blocko. They had T shirts printed with BLOKO, so then there was no need to utter a sound at all.
I was reminded of this paring down of the English language when I was reading Clive’s blog the other day –
‘I’ve noticed a growing trend among bloggers to dedicate an annual theme, or a word (or several) for their blog.’
Clive has settled on the word WHATEVER. As I also cannot think of any deep or meaningful words to inspire me for 2020 I decided to steal Clive’s. I presume he doesn’t have exclusive rights to WHATEVER.

https://cliveblogs.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/that-was-the-year-that-was/

Then it struck me we should share this wonderful word with others such as World Leaders and errant royalty. What most of them actually mean when they are spouting endless words in Parliament or on television is WHATEVER.
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/whatever
whatever definition: 1. it is not important what is; it makes no difference what (is): 2. anything or everything: 3…. Learn more.
Whatever definition of whatever you choose, how it is said is just as important. Politicians should express WHATEVER just how a teenager would utter it to his parents or teachers.
If you want to impress fellow bloggers with intelligent comments, but can’t think of anything intelligent to say, you could always resort to WHATEVER – or perhaps not…

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The Wonder of Wetherspoons

Christmas and Culture in Margate

We spent Christmas with Team H in Margate and as Team AK were also coming down we volunteered to stay at the Premier Inn.

Premier Inn is a British hotel chain and the UK’s largest hotel brand, with more than 72,000 rooms and 800 hotels.

On our various trips and breaks we do stay at blogworthy bed and breakfasts and hotels of character and weirdness, but Premier Inns are a good choice if the location is handy. You know what to expect; the rooms are big enough, the beds comfortable and everything is purple. The Margate Premier Inn is by the railway station, looks out to sea and the walk to the home of Team H takes us within view of many cultural landmarks.

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We have stayed a good few times and never had a room with a sea view, this time we did, but the view was blocked by the air conditioning unit on top of the Brewer’s Fayre pub and restaurant below. But the winter afternoon was drawing in and it was time to check in with the rest of the family, then back to the sea front for another family tradition – dinner at Wetherspoons.

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J D Wetherspoon plc is a pub company in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company operates nearly 900 pubs and a growing number of Wetherspoon hotels. The company is known for converting unconventional yet attractive premises into pubs.

Another chain where you know what to expect, Tim is obviously a chap who, unlike most politicians, cottoned on to what people want. Cheap pub food, refillable coffee cups, meals served from morning till night and a relaxed place where you can take your granny or your grandchild. As you order at the bar, or with your smart phone, you can wander in and out for a handy loo visit or perhaps hang out all day. The added bonus for writers is that you can watch all sorts of people and for photographers many of the branches are in amazing buildings rescued from neglect. Another interesting fact; it is claimed that every Wetherspoon has a different pattern of carpet, inspired by the location and specially woven; you can even buy a book about them.

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The Margate Wetherspoon has just been refurbished and now boasts comfy booths where you can charge up your various electronic gadgets. The walls are adorned with framed snippets of the town’s history. It is called The Mechanical Elephant, recalling the creature that used to give rides along the promenade in the 1950’s. This little bit of history inspired my short story ‘Thanephant an Elephantasy’ which was included in Thanet Writers’ anthology ‘Shoal’.

On Christmas Eve morning it was time to return to Wetherspoons for breakfast, but first another cultural landmark. At this end of the main sands is the Victorian Nayland Rock shelter. In the late Autumn of 1921, the bank clerk poet T.S. Eliot came to Margate on doctor’s orders to convalesce. He was in a fragile state physically and mentally and took a tram to sit on the seafront every day. While looking out at the expanse of grey water, watching children playing and war veterans exercising on the beach, he drafted part of The Waste Land.

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“On Margate Sands/ I can connect/ Nothing with nothing/”
I have to confess I haven’t read The Wasteland, but I have just downloaded it onto my Kindle for 99pence.

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Margate is on the Isle of Thanet, a real island until a few hundred years ago. It is on the east coast of Kent, but actually faces north across the Thames Estuary, so the sea can be grey on a grey day. The first day trippers used to come by steamer down the Thames.
On Christmas Eve morning the sun had come out and on the beach we saw the new attraction, a recreated bathing machine; the steam arising from the roof gives a clue to its secret, it is actually a sauna. I was almost envious of the chap emerging from the sea to clamber inside.

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Near the Mechanical Elephant is Dreamland. Amusements have been on this site since 1880, it was first called Dreamland in 1920 when the Grade 2 listed Scenic Railway wooden rollercoaster was opened. After going into decline early this century and being closed down there was a public campaign to restore the park and it re-opened in June 2015.

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Dreamland’s morale has been greatly boosted by the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in 2011, bringing a big buzz to the town. Cheap property prices and a fast train route to London have brought artists and fresh blood into the town – DFLs Down From London. The gallery is built on the spot by the harbour where the painter JMW Turner’s landlady had her boarding house.

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At the end of last year the Turner Prize took place in Margate, the four artists exhibited at the gallery and the award ceremony was held in the Hall-by-the-Sea in Dreamland. It was an unprecedented event as the prize was shared between the four artists.

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Our Christmas break finished with a family breakfast at Brewer’s Fayre. If you are staying at Premiere Inn and want breakfast this is where you go, sneaking in a secret door at the back…

Brewers Fayre is a licensed pub restaurant chain, with 161 locations across the UK, known for serving traditional British pub food and for their Sunday Carvery.

There are several advantages to be enjoyed, refillable coffee cups, up to two children under fifteen can eat for free at the breakfast buffet and there is a soft play area where your toddler can end up well beyond reach and stuck there forever unless you persuade him to come down in the slide tube. If your child is a strapping fourteen year old they will be too big for soft play, but can eat twice as much as the adults for free!

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Where do you like to stay when you are away? How many doctors these days advise their patients to go on holiday to convalesce and write?

Part of my novel ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’ is set in Margate.

Silly Saturday – Unresolution

One of my New Year resolutions has been broken already, on the second of January; to cook dinner on time. As Cyberspouse had cooked dinner on the first of January this was a record failure to keep a resolution. Another resolution failed; to go to bed earlier, as opposed to early in the morning. The most obvious excuse is that I have been kidnapped by aliens, my memory wiped so I have no recollection of hours stolen.

This picture cannot be taken as an accurate representation of dinner  ChezTidalscribe.

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Or it might just be that I was busy keeping up with that other New Year favourite with writers and bloggers – GOALS. Some bloggers have blogfuls of goals, while the rest of us are just trying to keep up with self imposed targets of writing blogs and interacting with other bloggers.

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I did fulfil one big goal I set myself in January 2019 – finish my novel. Not too difficult as I had been writing it for *** years. The ‘final manuscript’ was finished in July so I’m not sure what happened between then and November.


Perhaps goals are easier to attain than resolutions, the latter implies a bit of soul searching. You can have a goal to eat less meat, but you will need a resolution to become a vegan, especially now it is officially a philosophy. Ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and so is protected in law, a tribunal has ruled for the first time. It makes my resolution to just cook dinner on time seem more attainable.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50981359

I can do it when we have visitors; there is a good incentive to have a meal ready so adults don’t stay too late and little children don’t get hungry and grumpy or tired and grumpy and can be put to bed on time.

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What are some other attainable goals writers and normal people can aspire to?
Look into joining a gym – this is much cheaper than actually joining a gym and only going once.
Take advantage of goals set by others. Use less plastic. Sainsbury’s supermarket has now dispensed with those annoying flimsy plastic bags, that I could never open, for their loose fruit and veg. Now you must take your own containers or buy some netting bags.
Start a novel, much easier than finishing one.
Go to bed at a reasonable time; taking your lap top with you because you have a bad cough and need to sit propped up in bed.
Cook meals from scratch. Avoid buying any food in plastic packaging and you will find yourself cooking from scratch…
Cut down on computer time – buy a puppy of a large energetic breed or acquire an energetic human toddler. You will spend lots more time outside, off line AND get plenty of exercise, so no need to even look into joining a gym.
Cheat – Blog about running or cycling twenty miles a day, post a few pictures you took while parked at that scenic viewpoint… we will never know it’s not true.

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Have you bothered with resolutions or set any goals?

Friday Flash Fiction- Paragraph Planet

Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website which has been publishing one 75-word paragraph every day since November 2008.

http://paragraphplanet.com/

Any writer can submit, but the word count must be exactly 75 words. The first paragraph is one I had accepted a while ago; we became addicted at writers’ group to thinking of new 75 word paragraphs.

As Long As

How cleansing to see your overlarge house blown to matchsticks in a cyclone. How purifying to see the detritus of modern life swept away in a tidal surge, to know Gaia has won, to face God naked. I put these thoughts on Facebook, take my meal out of the microwave, turn up the heating and settle in my reclining chair to watch the news and soaps on 3D television… As long as it’s not me.

Real Life

… real life experiences, being born, don’t remember. Make a list: rolling down a grassy slope, cycling with the wind in your face, ditto galloping on horseback. swimming in the ocean, standing on a high hill, making love, giving birth, sailing a yacht, flying, escaping mortal danger. And the ultimate, dying, not asleep in bed, that would be cheating… how much time there is to think in the seconds it takes a plane to plunge, engines ablaze…

Cold

A crystalline cold dawn; heavy snow had reached their valley for the first time. His master had just made it back. Usually Nicolai hated the long winter nights, but each breath that seared his lungs brought hope. In late afternoon the clear sky brought a violet shimmer to the virgin snow at the graveyard. Nicolai thrust his stick through crystal layers; it juddered on the iron cold ground. The master would not be arising tonight.

Ten Seconds

Years of training for ten seconds. In other events you can change tactics, put on a last minute spurt. Diet, training and mental attitude will help me reach my ultimate speed; my reflexes honed for the starting block. I lost my job, friends and family; but I’m racing for my country at the Olympics. Men’s one hundred metre final. The starting block feels unreal. I hear the pistol; for a second I hesitate.

You can read more flash fiction in Someone Somewhere

 

What is the shortest story you have written?

New Year’s Day 2020

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It’s lucky there will be no news this decade ( see Silly Saturday’s blog No News ) because I detest all those news reviews of the past year, sports reviews, who is in the New Year Honours list and lists of those who have died.
Instead I offer my review of the past decade, which will be of no interest to anybody else…

Firstly, what didn’t happen.

It was the only decade in my life when I didn’t move home.

I didn’t become a best selling author.

I didn’t get a mention in the New Year Honours list.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-new-year-honours-list-2020

I still didn’t get the hang of LinkedIn and Twitter.

What did happen?

My mother has entered The Twenties for the second time in her life, she was born in 1926.

Our three offspring are all living in places we would never have guessed at the beginning of the decade.

We acquired three more grandchildren.

I became an Indie Author and published nine books.

I became a Blogger.

I was nominated for three blogger awards.

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So what do we call the past decade and what will we call the new decade?
Answers in the comments.

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Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Are you looking back over the past decade or looking forward to the new one?

Silly Saturday – No News

Here are the news headlines.

At the international summit of newscasters it was unanimously decided to cease broadcasting news. This was in response to research that shows a constant diet of disasters and war has a detrimental effect on the mental health of individuals and the population as a whole. Experts also believe that constant attention to the behaviour of the worst world leaders and the narcissism of celebrities only encourages them.

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And in other news…
Cleaners were called to aisle nine at a Sainsbury’s supermarket after an incident involving a customer and a large jar of pickled beetroot. Broken glass was found at the scene, but no injuries were reported.

A family of five were left to survive on pot noodles when their planed meal ended in disaster. Mrs. Smith was quoted as saying ‘The butter was already melting in the frying pan for the omelette when I suddenly realised I had forgotten to buy the eggs.’

A man was left penniless when his local cash machine would not dispense any money. He was forced to walk two hundred yards up the high street to the next machine.

Residents were evacuated safely from a two storey block of flats when a fire alarm was accidentally set off.

 

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A passenger revealed the details of her nightmare journey when roadworks caused a traffic diversion. ‘I would have caught the number fifteen if I had known, I don’t usually get the number fifteen because it goes all round that estate where my sister used to live, though I used to get it when she did live there. Anyway, I got on the number fourteen outside Boots and low and behold I thought why are we turning here? I’m going to be late for the dentist… I started going to him in town as the ones round the corner were useless when I needed my root canal done. Five minutes late I was, though I needn’t have worried as the chap before me took extra time…

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Work has been delayed yet again on a pensioner’s shed after his drill bit broke. Staff at his local B&Q saved the day by showing him to aisle 17b where he found the correct size.

The search continues for a five year old missing since Boxing Day. The white and tabby cat named Tibbles was last seen under the Christmas tree. His owner, who asked not to be named, said he had never gone missing before and blames herself for being away from her computer. ‘He usually drapes himself over the keyboard as soon as I sit down at my desk.’

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Record numbers of shoppers did not attend the Boxing Day sales.

An unknown author was unable to post her blog as her new computer said ‘NO’. Returning from the Christmas break she switched it on, only to read constant messages saying it was updating and restarting.

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Christmas Day

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Wherever you are today, enjoy your time and these last few days of the decade. I have to come off my life suport system – or rather my old recycled desk top is being replaced by a newer recycled, upgraded computer. I am quite expecting everything, words, pictures, email, Facebook and WordPress to be lost in the ether, never to be found again, but hopefully I shall see you all again on the other side.