Get Off Of My Cloud

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Bob 50th

I do not condone cigarettes. I am pointing out hypocrisy.

The above photograph was placed on my Facebook page the day after my 50th birthday for no other reason than I could think of nothing worthwhile to bloody post and I had this spare photograph hanging around doing nothing.

You would not believe the preaching that I received. I have over 3,600 alleged friends on Facebook and the ear-bashing that I received I found offensive and I will explain why shortly.

The comments and inbox messages were extremely aggressive because I’m smoking a cigarette. I know that cigarettes are bad for you. Any fool could tell you that but to be chastised en masse by literal  strangers was too much. I spent the day after my birthday deleting comments and even blocking some people who would return over & over again with overly aggressive comments.

Cigarettes are a legal product.

As a Registered Nurse of over twenty two years I lost count of the amount of cancer patients that I looked after who hadn’t so much as touched a cigarette. Bowel cancer. Lung cancer. Brain tumours. Leukaemia. All without a cigarette and at any age.

As mentioned, there is no doubt that cigarettes are bad for you. What about the petrol fumes that we are forced to inhale at service stations and on busy streets.

I don’t know about other countries but alcohol is actively promoted and encouraged in Australia. The damage done by alcohol isn’t mentioned in graphic television advertisements as is the case with anti-smoking advertisements which are graphic to the point of scaring young children and may as well say, “Touch a cigarette and you will die!”

Smoking is confined to a few seedy pockets of society. As long as smoking is legal, people aren’t  going to stop. Foolhardy or not. It is  almost to the point where you  can only smoke in your own home. Some rental properties even prohibit it.

Here’s the picture of me that I posted the on my birthday. Congratulations and compliments were flowing left, right and centre. Go figure.

bob-cig-2017

Hang on! Is that a cigarette in my hand?

Hypocrites.

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Car Trouble

Polo

 

It all started several months ago when I bought a second hand car. It’s a Volkswagon Polo 2002 model. It’s the best car I have owned in 30 years.

A few weeks after I bought it, it became sluggish to start. I did the obvious and charged the battery. Hey presto! It started fine……for three days. It then became sluggish to start again. I charged the battery and took it to the local garage to have the battery tested. On testing, let’s just say the battery had seen better days. (That’s not how I worded it). I got a new battery and things were rosy for the next few weeks.

I was doing my shopping one morning (the supermarket isn’t far away) and the car e wouldn’t start. It was turning over fine but just not ‘firing.’ Eventually it started. Over the next few weeks this  would happen approximately 50% of the time I went out. I noticed a pattern. It would always start first thing then after a short trip it wouldn’t start.

I asked my Dad, who’s mechanically minded and he thought the problem was the coolant sensor. I went online and looked for forums for people whose identical cars displayed identical symptoms to mine. 24 hours later the verdict was in. Over 90% of responses were the coolant sensor like Dad said.

I whizzed down to the newly opened Volkswagon centre and ordered a coolant sensor. It arrived the next day. I then took my car to the RACT (Automobile Association) and they replaced the sensor in a matter of minutes. They didn’t even charge me.

For the first two weeks I remained pensive but the car started first time, every time. It continues to do so today. What a relief, I can tell you. The car is running like a dream.

Apparently the faulty sensor is telling the cars computer that the engine is too hot to start…..when it actually isn’t. This was why it wouldn’t start for some time. ie. once the engine is stone cold. This is why it would always start up first thing in the morning.

I asked Dad what made him think that it was the coolant sensor. He told me that he had similar trouble with his Jaguar some time back and it was the coolant sensor. How handy and lucky was that?

What a weight off.

 

 

 

 

Gospith The Vampire (sort of).

Vampire

Gospith was an 19th century vampire but he wasn’t a very good one. In fact he was hopeless. He wasn’t even born a vampire & didn’t require human blood to sustain his being.

It all started when a vampire bat flew into him in the street, scratching his neck. The bat was fleeing an irate cat which had clawed him thus passing its genes onto the bat and from there into Gospith.

Gospith thought nothing of it but after a few days he became very pale, lost a ridiculous amount of weight as he wouldn’t eat and started chasing the next door neighbours cat with great vigour.

His parents eventually took him to the Doctor who broke the news to them. Gospith was a vampire but not a normal vampire. He did not crave human blood, he craved cats blood. After his parents scratched their beards for a while his Dad said, “We’ll start a cattery!” This would be perfect. Until the cattery was established they would buy cats from cats homes for Gospith to viciously tear their heads off and suck the blood from them.

With his newly-found vigour, Gospith took to wearing colourful clothes, a top hat and black John Lennon styled sunglasses. He also took to wearing (badly applied) makeup to cover his pasty complexion. Everybody thought he was gay but he wasn’t. He wasn’t straight. He wasn’t gay. He wasn’t anything. He just ‘was.’ 

Gospith was a bit of a party goer. On party nights he would have an extra cat in order to ‘go the extra mile.’ He had time for everyone and everybody loved him. He had a joke, one-liner story for every occasion.

By day he would mince down the street, oblivious to the harsh realities of life. His mince was so pronounced he looked like he had a broken arse.

Then disaster befell Gospith. The Great Katyon outbreak of 1865. Katyon was a highly contagious disease picked up by cats and was….fatal! He paid no heed, figuring his Dads cattery would be safe. He was right. It was safe.

One day he spotted a cat up a laneway and he lost control of his senses. He grabbed it and bit its head off, only to find himself with a mouthful of fluff. It was a childs lost toy. The Police were called who in turn called an ambulance & Gospith was taken to the Psychiatric Ward. On being assessed his status as a vampire was established & released.

As Katyon Disease spread, Gospith couldn’t have his occasional extra cat. He was now so thin that some say he could barely be seen and had to be estimated….

To be continued….

Stalemate

Argument

3 days prior John was at his brother Bobs house when he interrupted Bob & yelled “BE QUIET!” He was trying to do something with his cellphone. Bob asked him not to yell. John got up and stormed out, yelling “F*** THIS!”

On his next arrival Bob allowed John in. John, without saying hello, put on the kettle and proceeded to make a coffee. As the kettle boiled John grabbed the ashtray and asked Bob if he could have a cigarette. Bob said blankly “No,” as he typed on his computer.

John took a seat & tried to make conversation with Bob who gave short one word answers. “Still mad about the other day?” John eventually said. “Yup,” replied Bob calmly.

John tried to make all sorts of excuses about how he had to sort his phone & how much pressure he was under from here there & everywhere. “I don’t care,” replied Bob. “In fact you’re not welcome here.” John was aghast. After a few seconds he put his cup down and sheepishly left.

Once he had gone, Bob lit a cigarette to relieve the nerves that he had been battling for 3 days.

Stalemate.

The Barbeque

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Baarbeque

Bob Findlay was a retired State Registered Nurse of 22 years. For one off those years he worked nigh-shift at an Aged Care facility in a different city. He was in charge of one carer. Donna Lindridge.

Bob & Donna hit it off straight away. When Bob was offered a higher position in his own city he & Donna maintained contact via email. They emailed each other day i, day out for 8 years.

One day, out of nowhere, Donnas husband, Geoff, suggested they invite Bob to a barbeque the following Saturday. “I want to meet this Bob fellah. He must be alright if you’ve kept in touch all of these years.” Bob accepted the invitation. He & Donna were really excited at the prospect of catching up after so long.

Bob arrived to the distant sound of 2 elderly ladies arguing. He could only make out bits & pieces but he was able to establish that one lady was running Donna down while the other was defending her. ‘Here we go,’ thought Bob as he approached the raised timber veranda. Donna rushed up & cuddled him before introducing him to Geofff & their 2 children, Monique & Mason. Donna whispered to Bob, “Don’t worry about those 2. They’re always at it.

After talking to the family for a while, Bob took a seat at the but the arguing got too much for him. As he stood up from his chair he said, “I’m going in.” Geoff & Donna wished him luck. On his way to determine which lady was which.

He approached the ladies & politely introduced himself. They politely did likewise. He asked Geoffs Mum if he could have a word. They to a separate two-seater table. Bob then said to Geoffs Mum that he had been invited for a comfortable & relaxing barbeque. “I feel relaxed enough,” said Bob, “….but I certainly don’t feel comfortable. Would you mind sorting your problem out later & joining us at the table? If not for me, for the children.” She agreed.

Bob then went back & had a similar conversation but added, “For what it’s worth, I was a State Registered Nurse for 22 years & Donna is by far the best carer that I have worked with….& I don’t say that lightly.”

Donnas Mum moved over to the table & the arguing stopped.

Bob went over to the barbeque & lit a cigarette. Geoff followed him and as they leaned on the side of the veranda Bob explained, “I had to be a mediator many times. Hard core. No second strikes. One strike & you’re gone. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve sacked.

Geoff asked what the secret is. “It’s easy. The person who’s lying starts painting themselves into a corner. Then they paint themselves so far in that they can’t get out of their lies.” Geoff asked who was lying. His Mum or Donnas Mum? Bob was very straightforward and said, “Your Mum was painting herself up to her neck.

Geoff replied, “As usual.”

 

 

 

The Driving Lesson

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Learner

WARNING: This entry contains infrequent use of low level coarse language. 

“Bowel cancer!” said Peter Winkler to the grinning & agreeing postman “Bloody bowel cancer. Then it’s bladder cancer. Then it’s lung cancer. What next? Tooth cancer?”

The postman had just dropped off a bowel cancer screening kit which were done randomly. Peter, a Registered Nurse was vehemently opposed to this. “It’s scaremongering. Somebody’s making a buck out of it & it ain’t me. What’s in this package? It’s plastic. Who manufactures plastic? Oil companies….who give their little Government a kickback for playing ball with them. It’s all a game to them. A numbers game….& it sucks!”

Peter got completely sidetracked to the fact that he was taking his son, Greg, out on a driving lesson. He figured he had better settle down. So did his wife & Greg when they saw him reach for a book.

After about an hours reading, Peter had calmed down and said to Greg, “Hey mate, fancy going for a spin to Ridgley & back?” Greg jumped up & said, “Ready when you are,”  with his van keys in his hands. Peter & his wife bought Greg a van to renovate as Greg wanted to go camping.

Ridgley was a 9km drive each way with an 80km an hour speed limit so there was less chance of Greg being tailgated. Prior to going to Ridgley Peter would always take Greg into town to get petrol. This was peters way of teaching Greg how  to drive through busy traffic and practise his gear changes.

Greg was a proficient & alert driver but Greg was always on the lookout for areas that could be improved upon.

As they left their home they were in a 60km zone. Just after entering an 80km zone there is an entrance to Massey Green Drive which is for trucks only. On this day as Greg approached the intersection he hadn’t reached 80kph. He & Peter noticed a truck amble up to it. It kept coming. Simultaneously Peter & Greg said,, “Shit!” Greg hit the brakes & screeched to a halt. They were confronted by the logs of the truck turning. They would be no more than one metre from the truck. Greg had the presence of mind to write down the number plate as the truck continued on its way.

Greg was shaken so Peter took the wheel, drove straight to the police station & reported the incident to an apathetic young officer. Peter was furious. “I’d like to see your senior. We were nearly killed for Christs sake!” The young officer did as he was told and an older officer presented. He took it more seriously. “I’ll need a statement from you both in separate rooms, then fill out a formal complaint then get yourself a lawyer. I’ll warn you, though, this is common up there & the success rate is low.” Peter replied, “With two witnesses who will have matching statements?” The officer replied, “Good point & good luck.”

Peter sought out the best lawyer in town. He was expensive but he was the best….& vicious. His name was Stephen Huddle & was a renound Prosecutor. He got Peter & Greg to make formal  written statements at the police station & he would file relevant papers to proceed with a case against the driver. He warned Stephen & Greg that it would be several months before they got to court.

During these months they had a few meetings with Huddle. Huddle said that their case was getting stronger & stronger. Not only did their independent statements match but forensics calculated the braking distance which also indicated the speed of the van which was 70kph. He had also found out that the driver had several complaints against him, all of which were dismissed but in this case there wasn’t forensic evidence and there were 2 witnesses.

When they went to court, Peter & Greg were confident, largely due to Huddles information & confidence.

The Defence lawyer didn’t stand a chance. Huddle went for the throat, armed with the truth. The Defence was further hampered when the driver said he had limited visibility. Huddle stood up & said, “Forensic evidence says that you had clear visibility of 220 metres. That’s ample time to gauge pulling out for a driver of your experience.” The judge scribbled down some notes.

The judge left the room for a mere 2 minutes then returned. He began by saying that although the truck driver had no convictions he had appeared in his court numerous times but walked free due to lack of witnesses. On this occasion, however, there were two credible witnesses with identical independent statements against him, combined with the fact that he lied under oath about having no clear view that the judge had no choice but to suspend his licence for as long as the law permitted, which was 6 months.

Peter & Greg were awarded $6,000 each by the Victims Of Crime. Peter gave Greg his $6,000 so that Greg could trade his old van in & buy a ‘proper’ van to go camping in.

 

 

 

 

 


 

What Is He?

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Robert Hanlon was an award winning potter, winning awards statewwide & nationwide. He no longer had to indulge in pottery for money, instead he did the lecture circuit, giving lectures every 2-3  months  to packed houses.

His speeches were similar. He would have 5 of his  pieces on pedestals & would talk about each piece as the spotlight shone on it. Occasionally he would step into the crowd, much to their awe & hand them one of his pieces to hand around.

Although he spoke of the technicalities, Hanlon would keep thing light with humour & his repartee at the post speech function had the crowd both laughing & in awe of him. He had been know to sit a piece on the stage floor & kick it into the crowd. The crowd would yell for a few seconds before realising the piece was paper mache, covering the front few rows  with confetti that he had prepared before.

When in company he was unstoppable the room was at his command. He could talk to anyone and everyone. He was the life of the party. Hanlon always took  pride in his appearance & was turned out immaculately for each event. He really did stand out. Even if you didn’t know who he was, you knew he was ‘someone.’

At the post speech parties He would continually look at his watch. As 9pm approach he began to become edgy. When 9pm arrived he would politely excuse himself. As he was of such high profile & was the keynote speaker, nobody tried to stop him. The attendees were just pleased to have associated with him.

He would get in his car & begin to hyperventilate whether he was going to his hotel room or  to his home. Why? He was an ambivert. An ambivert is a person who has a balance of extrovert and introvert features in their personality. Although he socialised well, Hanlon had to have time alone.

Nobody knew this. He had his routine down so well that it became second nature. It was routine. When he was attending a social function he would be vomiting 30 minutes before the event.

Just as he had to have time on his own he also had the need to socialise. He was neither an introvert or an extrovert. He was somewhere in the middle.

Where do you fit?

 

What the crowd didn’t know
Was that all the time
He was aching to get home
To solitude.

I Was An Alcoholic

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Bob 50th

I’m 50 years old at time of writing. I was an alcoholic by the age of 20 years old. Some of my friends at that age were heavy drinkers. I was heavier. From the age of 18 years old I drank hard & by the age of 20 I couldn’t go a day without a drink.

I know I was an alcoholic by the age of 20 because a few times I would go a day without a drink. I would sweat, shake and became edgy. I met my future wife at 23. She paid no heed as my drinking didn’t alter my personality. All the while my intake gradually increased.

When my then future wife expressed concern I said I would stop & threw all  of my cans of beer away. This was when another symptom of alcohol appeared. I  got sneaky. I would buy bottles of vodka and hide them around the house & property; long grass, chicken grain, bushes and wood piles. When I came into the house after a drink I would go to  the toilet & leave reeking of everything but vodka. Toothpaste, deodorant, Listerine & handwash.

At this stage I never drank to excess. I was never really drunk but never really sober. Then I upped the ante over several years. I was a State Registered Nurse & would have a tipple before, during & after work. Again, I was never sober but never drunk. The ‘twilight zone’ I called it. I got married when I was 29.

By the time my son was born I was 30 & my drinking was escalating. My daughter was born 3 years later & my drinking was noticeable. In my mid-30s my wife asked me to leave. By the end of that day I had found a lovely flat with great views. When it came to drinking, the gloves were off. I was drinking vodka every waking hour. I was able to get my act together when my children stayed with me.

As time progressed my grip on reality was slipping. I was making late night phone calls, sending nonsensical emails & so. The only thing that I was on time for was bills, groceries & rent.

Then 1 night I suffered an alcoholic seizure. I was kept in overnight & sent home with no information or referral….not  that I would have paid attention at that point. I suffered a 2nd seizure a few weeks later & it  was the same routine at the hospital.

A few months after that I was apprehended for exceeding 0.05%. I went home & got drunk. In a moment of drunken clarity that only an alcoholic can know I rang my parents & told them that I couldn’t live like this any more. They came & picked me up.

I spent the next several years living with them. Even though there was a pub 500 metres away & I had a few opportunities to go there, I didn’t….& didn’t want to.

I returned to be closer to my children after being sober since the age of 42.

Late in 2014 I had a slip. This time with bucketloads of beer….no vodka. I ended up in hospital with abdominal pain, back pain and vomiting blood. This time I was pumped full of goodness knows what for 3 days then discharged.

I don’t know what triggered this lapse but it is behind me now.

I will not have a drink today.

The Award (final)

Quill

As far as writing went, 42 year-old John Dunham had gone as far as he could go as a screenwriter. He had won countless local and State awards. He was divorced 14 years earlier and had lived alone ever since. He bothered nobody & nobody bothered him. He could choose when & what he wrote. He was quite content with his lot.

This changed  when he received a letter one day. He  had been nominated for Best Screenwriter by The Writers Academy. It was for  the Movie ‘Ten Fingers’ which was a  blockbuster. He’d written global blockbusters before but received no mention. This didn’t phase John. He was a cool customer. Combined with this, some people (who hadn’t met him) thought he was arrogant. He wasn’t. He liked deep conversation & had a sharp but dry sense of humour. He rarely smiled.

Top American journalist, Cheryl Hanson, had flown from the States to interview John in what was considered a scoop as John had become jaded by interviews several years ago. The only reason she got the interview was that he was  quite taken by Cheryl & after spending some time together Cheryl became quite attracted to John. She made him laugh like he hadn’t done for quite some time, in fact they spent a lot of time leading up to the interview chatting & laughing. Cheryl was taken by Johns intellect & brutally honest outlook on life.

Their eyes locked at one point & they both awkwardly thought of something to do or say. Cheryl, thinking on her feet, reached into her handbag & sat her digital recorder. “Shall we do this, the?” she asked John. John had to clear his throat before saying, “Sure.”

John was pleased with the way the interview was going.  Cheryl was asking all the right questions & a lot of questions that he hadn’t been asked before. It went for 2 hours but felt like 10 minutes. The pair kept staring then looking awkwardly away from each other.

At the end of the interview Cheryl said that she’d like to play John the interview & ask if there’s anything that needs adding or taken out. John was thrilled at this. As they listened, John kept mimicking himself. The more he did it the more Cheryl laughed. She ended up falling on the floor. John went to help her up but lost his footing & fell on her. They looked closely then embraced.

When they eventually finished,  the  got up John  casually made another coffee. They sat there for a few moments & John said, “When do you have to go back to the States?” Cheryl said, “Tomorrow but I’ve got to get a photo of you. Know any good  spots?” John suggested the nearby  park. he grabbed a copy of his book  & put his Ray Bans on.

The park was only 5 minutes away & was practically empty. “Go sit there,” said Cheryl, pointing at a bench. John sat on the bench, crossed his legs & held the book across his chest. He’d done it all before. Cheryl took about 8 shots and said, “That should do nicely.”

On the way back to the car, Cheryl lost her footing. John grabbed her hand to stop her from falling. They walked back to the car continuing to hold hands & smiling. John said it’s a shame you’re going back tomorrow.” Cheryl agreed. A few moments later Cheryl said, “I have annual leave due in 2 weeks. I could visit you then.” John almost choked on his coffee. “I’d like that,”” he spluttered, losing his cool for a moment. “Would you like to go out for tea tonight?” John asked. Cheryl agreed.

Cheryl went back to her hotel room, got dressed up & was back at Johns, who was struggling with his tie. They went out for tea & spent the night trying not to laugh too loudly. Later they went to Johns. John kept going to the bedroom to pamper it up. Cheryl said it was time to leave. John said she could stay there. Cheryl agreed.

After an uncomfortable night on a single bed, Cheryl had to leave early to catch her flight. As they waited they tried (badly)  to cheer each other up. Cheryl began crying as John embraced her & whispered, “I’ll see you in two weeks.” Cheryl said she would email John the review before it went to print. Sure enough, the following night it arrived. It was a full 2-page glowing review. They rang each other daily, becoming closer & closer.

Cheryl arrived back in  England 2 weeks later with a huge suitcase. The pair would go sightseeing each day & eat out each night. After 3 weeks Cheryl dropped a bombshell. “What would you think if I stayed, John? I’ve got dual citizenship.” John couldn’t contain himself & embraced her like he wouldn’t let go.  “That’d be great!” exclaimed John. Cheryl, with a mock stern look said, “On one condition. We get a double bed.” John  replied, “Done!” & they both laughed.

Cheryl resigned by email & became a freelance literary journalist, submitting reviews on new releases by email under a false name. This way she didn’t  have to go through the hassle of the red carpet & backstage gigs.

John continued to write away & knock back invites from the local literary societies. He didn’t need the promotion or money any more. He was writing purely for pleasure now. Within 6 months, Cheryls false name was now a household name & was held in the highest regard in Britain.

The Award (part 2)

As far as writing went, 42 year-old John Dunham had gone as far as he could go as a screenwriter. He had won countless local and State awards. He was divorced 14 years earlier and had lived alone ever since. He bothered nobody & nobody bothered him. He could choose when & what he wrote. He was quite content with his lot.

This changed  when he received a letter one day. He  had been nominated for Best Screenwriter by The Writers Academy. It was for  the Movie ‘Ten Fingers’ which was a  blockbuster. He’d written global blockbusters before but received no mention. This didn’t phase John. He was a cool customer. Combined with this, some people (who hadn’t met him) thought he was arrogant. He wasn’t. He liked deep conversation & had a sharp but dry sense of humour. He rarely smiled.

John had been interviewed so many times that he had been asked the same set of questions more than once to the point where he had stopped giving interviews,  even for this latest accolade.

This changed when he encountered Cheryl Hanson, a short, plump journalist with the most beautiful face that John had seen handed him a business card, telling him that she wanted to interview him & that distance was no issue. John was  actually excited about being interviewed.

John rang Cheryl the next morning as she requested. She asked John when he would like to be interviewed. John hesitantly said, “Next week?” Cheryl replied, “Next week it is. I’ll see you then.” John asked about his address & transport. Cheryl replied, “You don’t need to worry about that. You’re on our database & my car will have GPS.”

John waited impatiently for Cheryl to arrive. On Thursday there was a knock on the door. It was her. She looked even better without sunglasses. She was carrying a large handbag & camera. John invited Cheryl while he made them a coffee.

He sat down an ashtray & said, “I know you don’t mind if I smoke. You smoke yourself.” A surprised Cheryl said, “How did you  know that?” John replied, “Firstly you just confirmed it with that statement. Secondly your legs are crossed & you’re elbow is resting on your knee as if smoking & thirdly there are very light nicotine stains on you left smoking fingers.” Cheryl was impressed. “You should be a detective.” John replied, “Detective? That’d mean danger. No thanks.” Cheryl laughed & pulled out a packet of cigarettes & lit one.

John went on to add, “You’re actually ambidextrous. I’ve just noticed pressure points on your right writing fingers and you’re drinking coffee with you’re right hand. “Thank Goodness!” exclaimed Cheryl. A surprised John said, “”What?” Cheryl replied, “It’s so refreshing to interview somebody with a brain. 99% of Hollywood are morons.” John said, “Really? That bad?” Cheryl replied, “If you’re not talking about them then they’re clueless.” John nodded & quietly said, “Thought as much.”

John asked when the interview would start. Cheryl suggested they spend some time getting to know each other. “This is a real scoop, John.” John replied, “So you’re pretty high up then?” Cheryl casually replied, “I’m the best.” John laughed & said, “I like people who know how good they are.” Cheryl replied, “Well I’ve made you laugh & you’re notorious for not laughing……why is that?” John rubbed his chin & paused for a moment before saying, “I find the world a hard place to get by in sometimes & to be honest we have no control. We’re all bound. Bound by other people. Nasty, stupid people.”

Cheryl was taken aback by Johns philosophical outlook on life. “I could interview on philosophy, John. They were deep statements.” John had a puff of his cigarette & said, “You can interview me on whatever you want, m’dear.” As he exhaled their eyes locked. They awkwardly looked  away, both of them thinking of something to say. Cheryl piped up, “We could go for a walk around town.” John sarcastically replied, “That’ll take ten minutes…..& It’ll be uplifting too.” Cheryl said, “Come on. Maybe a stranger will put a different angle on things.”

John reluctantly agreed & they spent 30 minutes walking around town. On the way back to Johns place Cheryl said, “I can’t believe nobody recognised you, John.” John replied, “It’s one of those towns. Initially I was ‘popular,’ now I can be just me. Tall poppy syndrome….which suits me fine.”

When they arrived back at Johns Cheryl asked about his family. John said, “I’m an only child….even moreso since the divorce.. We never had children. John quickly moved the subject to his parents for how different they are in personality but how similar they are as far as work ethic goes. “My parents both worked very hard to  get me where I am.”

With that Cheryl reached into her handbag & pulled out her digital recorder. “Shall we do this then?

To be continued….

The Award (part 1)

Quill

As far as writing went, 42 year-old John Dunham had gone as far as he could go as a screenwriter. He had won countless local and State awards. He was divorced 14 years earlier and had lived alone ever since. He bothered nobody & nobody bothered him. He could choose when & what he wrote. He was quite content with his lot.

This changed  when he received a letter one day. He  had been nominated for Best Screenwriter by The Writers Academy. It was for  the Movie ‘Ten Fingers’ which was a  blockbuster. He’d written global blockbusters before but received no mention. This didn’t phase John. He was a cool customer. Combined with this, some people (who hadn’t met him) thought he was arrogant. He wasn’t. He liked deep conversation & had a sharp but dry sense of humour. He rarely smiled.

The letter advised him of his nomination and included a confidentiality clause.  He signed and posted the clause that day. The awards weren’t for a month. 2 weeks before the awards John told his parents & invited them to the awards. They were both delighted at the news & the invitation.

A week out from the awards he received a call from a man called Joe. He had a deep voice & advised John that he was his driver & personal assistant (P.A. hereafter). He advised John that he would pick John up from his home at 8am the day prior to the awards. From there on in he would be by Johns side except during the ceremony.

On the  day, right on 8am, a white stretch limo cruised up to Johns house. John was standing by the door as it knocked with a broad smile. He opened the door and was greeted  by a 6 foot four, muscle-bound black man in a suit with a broad smile. He held his hand out and said in his deep voice, “I’m Joe. You must be Mr. Dunham. As Joe almost broke Johns fingers whilst shaking hands, John said, “Call me John.”

John got talking to Joe. It turned out that Joe was ex C.I.A. “I was heading for a burnout buddy. I saw so.me friends burnout so I knew what to look for. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now.”

Johns parents had an early night. John asked Joe  if he’d seen the movie he’d  written. Joe hadn’t. They went & rented it out. Joe watched it 3 times. “How do you make that stuff up?” John jokingly replied, “I have no idea.” (To an extent he was right).

The Dunhams slept for 12 hours on arriving at their luxury hotel room, waking at 8pm. Joe took them for a drive around the centre of New York. “We can get you fitted out tonight if you want,” said Joe. As the Dunhams were wide awake they decided to do it.

The following day Joe attempted to take the Dunhams for a walk but turned back when John  began to be recognised. They headed back to their hotel.

When it came  award time, Joe dropped the Dunhams off at the head of the red carpet. As they moved inside the camera  flashes irritated Johns eyes so he donned his Ray Bans & tried to hide behind his Mum. His Mum pushed him towards the press, saying, “They’re here for you. Go talk to them, John.” John went over to where the press were and answered the rabble as best as he could whilst gradually moving along.

Once  seated there were cameras and stars everywhere. John wasn’t phased. When his category came out the winner was announced. “The winner is….John Dunham.” John casually made his way to the stage & smiled as he accepted the award. He gave a minimalist but wry speech & received a standing ovation.

John was escorted where a host of journalists were mingling. On seeing John they all made their way towards him making him feel rather crowded. He out his Ray Bans on again as the cameras began flashing. He answered questions as quickly & politely as possibly. He noticed a short, plump lady standing amidst the crowd. She appeared to be biding her time. This impressed John.

John made his way towards her but she kept being jostled aside. Although John was annoyed by this as he continued to answer questions he was impressed by the way she maintained her cool & composure.

After about an hour & after his parents had arrived backstage John finally got close enough to the lady. he was taken by her beautiful face. He said to her, “Can I help you?” She handed him her business card. It read ‘Cheryl Hanson. Journalist.’  It also had a phone number & email address. She introduced herself & said, “I’d like to interview you Mr. Dunham.” John replied,  “Please call me John….but I fly out tomorrow.” Cheryl calmly replied, “That’s not an issue.” John, trying to contain his excitements, said, “Well certainly….if  distance isn’t an issue.” Cheryl replied, “It isn’t. Would you mind calling me tomorrow before you leave?” John said, “It would be my pleasure Cheryl.”

John called Cheryl the following morning.

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Strange Affairs

Hands

Robin Harris was 42 years old, divorced with 2 children and had just started as nigh-shift at an aged care facility as Charge Nurse. He worked with one carer who just happened to be his constant partner. Her name was Donna Linton who was 40 years old, married and also had 2 children. Robins jaw dropped when he saw her. She was beautiful. Little did Robin know that Donna thought the same of him.

The pair immediately hit it off in every way. Humour, trust, nursing care & confidentiality. By the end of their 3rd night they had shared  secrets that they had shared with nobody else. A romantic undertone was also so present that it was palpable. They even spoke of it.

After several weeks the pair were in the linen room collecting towels when they inadvertently turned to be face to face with each other. They were inches apart. They  dropped the  towels & a fling ensued.

Nearing the end of the shift Donna casually asked Robin if he’s like a coffee after work. “I live 5 minutes away  & my husband left for work an hour ago. Robin accepted. These ‘meetings’ were soon an affair, 3-4 days a week.

Robin rang his parents 2-3 times a week & his Mum  became suspicious as he was always talking about Donna.  Donnas husband became suspicious for the same   reason….but nothing could be proved.

After about 8 months, Robin began taking  excessive leave to the point he was pushing the envelope. He told Donna he was jaded by Nursing, which was partly true. The  real truth was that he was an alcoholic.

One morning he took Donna  by the hand, hugged her and whispered in her ear, “Keep being you.” Donna knew what this meant & began to cry, urging Robin to stay.. Robin began to cry & said, “I can’t do it any more.” Robin went home and commenced a drinking binge. He was able to get sober to ring his parents. Outside of that he was drunk. It took the facility 2 weeks on non-attendance to ring & fire Robin.

Through all of this the only  support that Robin got was from Donna. She would text, call & email him at least daily, She never judged or chastised. She always  encouraged & supported Robin.  As Robin lived in a different city, a visit  look  too suspicious.

It would take Robin 2 years to get  sober during which time he reverted to his original Scottish accent that he ditched when he emigrated at the age of 12.

Donna & Robin continued to email each other. Donna would email late at night while Robin would  answer in the morning. They would email each other throughout thee day with one theme…..

The pair wanted to meet again in person. After 9 years that opportunity arose when Donna was transferred to a hospital just 3 minutes from Robins house. They would organise the  meeting to after Donna had finished a morning shift.

When the day arrived the pair were nervous wrecks. Nobody was home. Donna really shouldn’t have been at work. Robin had butterflies & the shakes as he spent all  day making sure everything was as it should be. He was smoking like  a train.

Donna had GPS in her car so was there  just after 3.30pm as planned. Bob opened the door  & the pair froze. In each others eyes they looked just  the same. Robin instantly relaxed, gave Donna a peck on the cheek & said, “Come in  Missus,” in his Scottish accent. “I could listen to that accent all day,” said Donna. Robin replied, “We’ll ye ken where I am noo.” The pair laughed.

Robin made them a coffee & asked if it was alright to smoke. “It’s  your house,” said Donna who Robin noticed was blushing. “What are you blushing for,” said  Robin. “It’s only me.” Donna exclaimed, “I know! It’s YOU! That’s the problem!” as she fanned her face with her hands. “I knew this would happen,”  she said before proclaiming, “That’s it! Where’s the bedroom?” Robin pointed. On her way to the bedroom Donna turned to Robin & signaled him through. Thus ensued another fling….after 9 years.

After  their dalliance in the  bedroom  they sat in the living room chatting but mainly  laughing the way they did when they used to when they were working together. These dalliances & chats occurred every time Donna worked a morning shift & continue to this day.

Old habits die hard.

Authors And Obstacles

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Two Bobs 2017

As an author I often get asked what I consider to be something of an odd question…..or questions. “Who  is  your favourite author or authors &  what are your favourite  books?

My response is double-barreled so bear with me.’

Firstly I’m an  author, poet & blogger.  I’m also a recording artist.. The vast majority of most days are spent writing. The last thing that I want  to do is read somebody elses material. Ignorant? Possibly. Practical? Definitely.

I’ve tried reading between writing & find it extremely confusing. Parts of what I read ‘can’ accidentally creep into my latest work. Worse still it may creep into an idea for a future work. I find reading to be an obstacle.

The only books that I am able to read without losing my mind are biographies & autobiographies. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that George Best, Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton are hardly likely to get inside of my head. Then again Bob Dylan might…..Goodness knows there are plenty of ideas in there already .& in no particular order .except when you get those annoying moments of clarity at 2am…..which is why I keep a pen & paper by my bed because getting out of bed, as much  as I enjoy writing,  I’m not going to  get out of bed at 2am for it.

The last book that I read was ‘A Brief History Of Almost Everything’ by Bill Bryson. The only reason that I read it was that I had no access  to a word processor for 4 months. That was in the mid-90s. I was in rehab for alcohol abuse(!). It was a great read. Prior to this the only book that I had  read was ‘1984’ by George Orwell. I actually read it in college in 1984. How about that? Shame on me.

So apart from starting on the road to sobriety, rehab served as nothing more than an obstacle to my writing which was not outweighed by 1 good book.

The telephone. If I didn’t have 2 teenage children I wouldn’t  answer the phone whilst writing. Firstly it’s a loud phone with no volume switch so if I’m engrossed in  a project & the phone rings I jump through the roof, get to the phone withe high blood pressure only to find it’s a telemarketer or somebody who’s on  for a lengthy chat. I always use the excuse, “Oh! There’s somebody at the door. I’d better go.” I don’t mind lying in the name of literature.

If it does happen to be one of my children, they either want a lift somewhere or to be taken on a driving lesson. Too easy. My son & I talk & I’ll put petrol in so that they can go as far as they like. I do like to take them through town each time,  however.. My daughter & I are different. She has a mobile phone thingie that hooks up to your cigarette lighter & plays music.  She’ll ask me for a song  & within  seconds it’s playing through the car speakers. She is making me a playlist, adding a new song every trip. I’ve got a few from Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Dave Stewart & The Beatles. The Stones will be next on there.

Either way, the kids are proficient learners & it’s a relaxing (if not unexpected) break, giving my mind the time & environment to refresh itself.

The TV is an obvious distraction. I’ve found myself typing out what I hear on the TV or CD player so I have the volume down ti ‘1.’ I can’t hear it but it may save me from dying of sensory deprivation. Once I’ve finished writing the headphones come out & either a CD or (more likely) Youtube turned up to ’10’  as I dance around the house like an idiot (Yes, I’m divorced in case you couldn’t tell).

Then there are the well presented young chaps with identical  haircuts wielding…..BIBLES!!! I’m an Atheist so waste as little time as possible on them. I can’t help but patronise these kids. “Look boys. I’m an Atheist. You  won’t change your mind  &  I find it quite rude of you to attempt the same.” As I close the door on them I yell, “I’m a sinner & shall not repent!!!”….as I hear their footsteps break into a run away from my house.

What is it with these people? I  don’t feel the need to knock on strangers doors & attempt to convince them to think like me or believe what they believe.

In closing, there’s writers block. Word of advice. Don”t sit there staring at the half full page. Move to another project. It always pays to have more than one project on  the go. More projects means that there are more triggers at the  ready.

Failing  this you could have a  cigarette & think about your project.

The entry is NOT sponsored by a tobacco company.

The Hermit (part 3)

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Hermit

Harold Lane was a Hermit who lived in a cave on the outskirts of the township of Sillock. He was totally self-sufficient, with a  fire and animal skin rug in his cave for Winter & he fed himself by killing small wild animals with a crossbow that he made by himself using only a sharp heavy knife.

He would wander into Sillock and go to the laundry & public showers to spruce up, despite his long grey bear & hair & tatty trenchcoat.

One day the new school Principal, Paul Harrington, saw an arrow made by Harold. Nobody was afraid of Harold. Quite the opposite. Paul was progressive & wanted the students to do more outdoors type activities. When he hears that Harold also made crossbows he just had to meet him. He met Harold at the library & offered Harold a position at the school. Harold accepted.

After tutoring his students they completed a 100% handmade crossbow….a crossbow bigger than Harold used. He and Paul had a student test their crossbow at 20 yards and the arrow went straight through it. They then tried 30 yards and the arrow only had a few centimetres appearing from the target. They tried 40 yards and still a half of the arrow was protruding. It was time to try 50 yards.

Harold chose a student called John Gilmour. John loaded the bow and hit a bullseye. The other children cheered. Harold watched John. People thought he was cool but Harold picked his shyness.

As the students continued to go around John hit a bullseye every time. Harold noticed that after John had taken his shot he would go & stand at thee back of the group while other students gave him high 5s. John reluctantly returned the compliments.

At the end of the class,  Harold went to Pauls office. “Did you see that John  kid? He hit 12 bullseyes without missing a single one.” Paul said, “I know,” said Paul. Harold asked, “So what’s his  story?” Paul said, “He’s a good student. Good grades but there’s trouble at home.”  Harold said, “How so?” Paul replied, “His  father is a violent alcoholic who beats his Mum.” Harold said, “When would be a good time to visit?” Paul said, “”Probably 6pm-9pm. That’s when his Dad’s at the pub. Why?” Harold said, “That boy  needs to be in the archery club. I can get him in. I just need one piece of  paper signed by a parent.”

The following week, Harold was starting with a new group of students. In the meantime he had been to the library & photocopied a registration form. One day Harold  saw John in the corridor & ran the archery club idea past him. “I can get your Mum to sign it,” he  said with a wink. Johns face lit up. “Cool,”  he said. “Thanks for your trouble.” Harold replied, “No trouble, son.”

The following Saturday Harold made his way into Sillock & approached Mrs.  Gilmour. She was happy to sign it. “So you’re an archer, boy?” she proudly said whilst rubbing his hair.

The following Saturday Harold took John & the paperwork to the archery club meeting. John picked up  a bow and got a feel for the bow. He was surprised at how light it was. He did practise sighting. Harold whispered in his ear, “Aim with the bow, son. Aim with the bow.”  It came Johns turn to shoot. He calmly picked up  an arrow & loaded it and took the shot. Bullseye! The crowd remained silent as John made his way to  the back of the crowd,, closely followed by Harold who said, “”Well done boy.  Keep it up.”

John repeated his score a further 4 times. At the end of the  meeting a portly man came to John & Harold & introduced himself as Malcolm.  “”Well done young  chap. I’ve been president here for  20 years && I’ve never seen a perfect score. Who’s your coach. John shyly pointed at Harold & said, “He is. Harold.” Malcolm shook Harolds hand & said,  “If the young fellah here can even go close this score I’d like to invite him to the county play-offs…..& from there you may even  make  it to the nationals.

2 weeks latter John & Harold turned up at  the archery meeting. There was a much larger crowd. They were there to see John who was his normal reserved & calm self. After 4 bullseyes the crowd was buzzing. Harold approached John and whispered, “Wait until they’ve shut up, son.” John had practise sightings to pass  the time. He still looked  unphased.

The crowd  eventually settled down. John  took aim & fired. Within seconds the  crowd were roaring & John  was mobbed….led by Malcolm  who whispered, “You’re off to to the counties, my boy! Well done!” John made his way out of the crowd & found Harold. They walked home together, John carrying his medal with him.

John repeated his performance at the counties. Again he was mobbed & made the newspapers. He became less shy but not in a cocky way.  He could be described as ‘cool.’ The nationals were 6 weeks away. Paul was worried that Paul wasn’t practising. Harold said,”That boy doesn’t need to practise. He’s a natural. He’s just ‘got it’ as they say.”

The Sillock archery club  took a bus to Wembley  Stadium, where the nationals would be held. While all of the other bowmen were limbering up & checking their sights, John casually wandered around behind them doing nothing in particular..

When John hit his first bullseye the crowd erupted. The other bowmen looked nervous. They hadn’t heard of John. He was an unknown quantity that they hadn’t banked on. After his 3rd bullseye, John was unbeatable. Just for good measure his last 2 shots were bullseyes. The  place erupted.

Once John had made his  way out of the crowd he was invited onto a stage to receive a medal & make a speech. All he could manage to say was, “I’d like to thank Harold…..erm….& I’d like to thank my Principal. They both made this possible.”

Harold the walked onto the stage without being stopped. He said, “This boy had no help from me or his Principal. John is a natural bowman. He’s just proved it…..yet again.”

Harold is still teaching. John is now competing on the international circuit.

The Hermit (part 2)

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Hermit

Harold Lane was a Hermit who lived in a cave on the outskirts of the township of Sillock. He was totally self-sufficient, with a  fire and animal skin rug in his cave for Winter & he fed himself by killing small wild animals with a crossbow that he made by himself using only a sharp heavy knife.

He would wander into Sillock and go to the laundry & public showers to spruce up, despite his long grey bear & hair & tatty trenchcoat.

One day the new school Principal, Paul Harrington, saw an arrow made by Harold. Nobody was afraid of Harold. Quite the opposite. Paul was progressive & wanted the students to do more outdoors type activities. When he hears that Harold also made crossbows he just had to meet him. He met Harold at the library & offered Harold a position at the school. Harold accepted.

His first job was to gather wood which they did near Harolds cave. Harold was more than happy to show them his cave. The students were in  awe but not as much as Paul, who said, “I envy you.” Harold replied, “It keeps me warm  in Winter and cool  in Summer. I have all I need.”

Harold again spent his days off drawing the further parts required for the crossbow from various angles.

After 3 weeks Harolds class had completed their stock. The next job was to collect long, thick pieces of timber to form the ‘body’ so it was back to Birchwell Hill where Harolds cave was & was littered with all  sorts of timber. Paul (again) went on the bus trip and helped search. 2 hours later the students had their rough pieces,

They returned to their class and analyzed the drawings and moved the body, marking it. The next day they began cutting the body to their specifications. After 2 weeks they were finished but thought they had a problem. How to fix the body to the stock. Harold solved the problem in 10 minutes, He scraped  2 holes through each part the, with a scrap piece of wood, carved it into a slightly funnel-shaped peg. He screwed the ‘bolts’ tightly into the holes & the crossbow was as solid as a rock. The students spent the rest of the class copying Harold with great success, Harold checking every bow as it was completed. Now it was only the limb to be attended to. Another trip to Harolds cave next class.

In the visit, Harold instructed the students to look for the longest, fattest piece of timber that  they could find. “As long as you are tall would be ideal,” Harold told the class. The class all returned with huge pieces of timber. Harold laughed to himself as he knew that they would be cutting their significantly….or would they?

On returning to the class the students sized their pieces of wood up, marking them in readiness for tomorrows class. All the while, students had been making perfect arrows in their spare time.

When the class commenced the following day Harold said, “Don’t worry about the length in the diagram. That was a guess. The longer the limb, the more power.” Sure enough the class fashioned the limb, most of which were about half the height of Harold.. ‘Jeeyz,’ he thought. ‘What have I done here?’ Harold then showed the class how to fix the limb to the body. They finished right on 3pm. Charlie asked Paul if he could access crossbow wire. Phil gave Harold a cheque book & sent him into town.

On returning Harold set about stringing the bows, setting them to pull and sitting them in large buckets of water in readiness for the students the following week.

When the students arrived the following week, Harold was waiting for them, grinning. The students eyes lit up. “Wait here,” said Harold. He went & asked Phil if he could borrow the archery targets. “Sure, Harold!” exclaimed Paul before adding, “Are you going  to do it now? I have to see this.”

Harold kept the students in class while he & Paul moved the targets into place. “How does 20 yards sound, Harold?” asked Phil. “I don’t know. I’ve never used a bow our size.. I suppose we can try it.”

With  the targets in place, Harold bought the students out with their bows. Harold carried the bows for safety reasons. He picked a random student & showed them what to do. The student loaded the crossbow & took aim. “Don’t aim with you eyes,”  said Harold. “”Aim with the bow.” The student relaxed & let fly. The student was sent back 4 steps as the arrow hit the target board. Initially they thought the arrow had missed. In fact it had gone right through the target. “Bows down!” said Harold. He & Paul went and moved the target back a further 10 yards. “Let’s she how this goes,” whispered Paul.

Another student was called up and took a shot. He hit the target board alright but the arrow was only sticking out by a few centimetres. Paul looked at Harold & said, “Another 10?” Harold  nodded. “Bows down!” Harold said again. A third student took aim and the arrow was still  half way into the target.

To be continued….

The Hermit (part 1)

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Hermit

Harold Lane lived in a large cave on the side of Birchwell Hill about a miles walk from the city of Sillock.. He had long scruffy grey hair and beard & had lived there for as long as anybody could remember.

He survived on rabbits & other small wildlife that he killed using a crossbow that he had fashioned from a cross using a large knife that he had bought many years ago using money he had raised from begging in Sillock. From the animal skins Harold made a large rug. Large enough to wrap around himself in the Winter months.

On Fridays Harold would pack his rucksack with dirty clothes and head into  Sillock to wash  them. Whilst there he would also wash himself using the free public showers. On other fine days of the week, Harold would spend his time at the  library.

Harold had no need for money.. He could feed himself, get water from a nearby stream & heat from a fire  that he would keep going throughout Winter. In Summer, at weekends, local children would walk to Harolds cave. Their parents knew all about him so they were free to come & go as they pleased. Harold would tell them fantasy stories, show them his crossbow and show them how to make arrows from straight pieces of thin birch branches.

A new Principal arrived in Sillock, Paul Harrington. Paul was young & progressive. One day a teacher brought an arrow made by Harold & he had confiscated it. “Who made this?” asked Paul. “That old hermit in the cave,” said the teacher. Paul was intrigued. “This is brilliant,” he said. “Who made it?” One teacher piped up, “Old Harold. He lives in a cave outside of town & kills his own food with his crossbow.”

Harrington wanted to contact Harold. “”You’ll find him at the library on fine days. Scruffy looking chap but very knowledgeable,” said the Vice Principal. The following Monday, Harrington made his way to the library and spotted who had to be Harold. He pulled a chair up next to Harold, introduced himself then said, “You must be Harold.” Harold jokingly replied, “Well done.” Paul complimented Harold on his woodcraft and asked if he would be interested in teaching Woodcraft on Thursday & Friday. “I suppose I could,” said Harold,”…..but the kids will need a large, sharp heavy knife.” Harrington said, “That’s all? You’ve made a crossbow & all of those arrows with just a knife?” Harold adamantly replied, “A sharp & heavy knife.”

Phil pulled a chair over next to Harold & said, “I’d like to teach the students more outdoors things and I think that you would be perfect to help me out.” Harold replied, “How so?” Phil said, “I’d like you to teach my students, just 2 days a week, how to make arrows.” Harold fired back, “Just arrows? What about the crossbow too shoot them with?” Phils eyes widened. “You make crossbows too? Would you be interested in my offer? You’ll be paid award wages.” Harold looked straight at Phil. “I don’t need no money,” he said. How about you give my money to the homeless & I’ll take you up on your offer?” The deal was done. Harold would start the following week.

During that week Harold was at the library drawing crossbow parts,, all from different angles for the students to follow.

The following week, Harold went to the laundry & shower on Wednesday, the day before he started. Harold arrived at school and was taken to the woodwork shop where he was introduced to the students, most of whom knew him. He said to Phil, “We’re going to need wood to make the stock. I know where  we can get some but it’s an mile away. Phil organised a bus.

Phil, (who was curious), Harold & a driver drove out to Harolds  cave. “Look around the forest kids & find the biggest piece of wood you can find. The students set about their task and returned after an hour. Before they left Harold took the students to see his  cave. They were in awe, as was Phil. “You live here?” asked  Phil. “I do so,” said Harold before adding cool in Summer,  sheltered & warm in Winter. The walls hold the heat, you see & there”’s plenty of wood around,” he said laughing & pointing at the students with  their lumps of wood. “Amazing. I envy you,” said Phil.

Once back at the school Harold asked Phil about getting his drawing photocopied. Phil gave Harold a white dustcoat. Harold  put it on & wore it with pride. He pointed Harold towards the  library where  Harold made copies of each drawing.

On returning to the woodwork room the student were running a muck. “Oi!” exclaimed Harold. “We’re here to make a crossbow! Do you want to  make one or fool around?” The students made their way silently to their seats with their pieces of wood.

Harold handed out the drawings & stood at the front of the class.  He began, “I want you to look at my drawings, hold your piece of  wood and move it to what looks like the best way to tackle it. Feel free to mark the wood. Remember, we start big so be bold.” The students began to do as Harold until the end of the class.

As Harold excused  the class he said, “Oh! By the way. I’m Harold.” Harold took off his dustcoat & put his tattered trenchcoat back on. He went to Phils office & said to Phil, “Class is over, Phil. Can I be  excused?” Phil said, “You don’t have to be excused Harold.”

Harold returned to his class the next day. Every student was present and looked eager to start work. Harold asked them. They all answered “Yes!” Harold replied, “Well get started then. Don’t be light-handed but remember those knives are razor sharp.” The students set about their work. Harold said, “Use your eye and remember, it’s your crossbow so it can be any shape you want.”

After 3 weeks the entire class had completed their stock.

To be continued…..

Bipolar Medication

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Pills

Frank Harrison was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 32 years old. Prior to this he was an alcoholic & put his mood swings down to this. After 2 years he sought Psychiatric help and was diagnosed straight away. He was told that the alcohol was masking the symptoms of bipolar. He would drink to lift himself up & drink to bring himself down. It explained everything but excused nothing.

As Frank had suffered alcoholic seizures he was already on a drug called Valpro. Valpro is primarily used to prevent seizures. Once a person suffers a seizure, be it alcohol induced, true  epilepsy or trauma, a door in the brain is opened to allow seizure activity into the brain. Valpro helps close that door. Valpro is also a very useful mood stabiliser.

Like every drug, Valpro has side effects which include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps,  increased appetite, weight gain, diarrhoea, drowsiness and tremor. Of course not all people will have these side effects or suffer only mild effects of some of these side effects. The side effects ca also be transient. In Franks case he suffered no side effects.

The first front line medication that Frank was put on was Lithium. Lithium is a mood stabilise but needs to be monitored closely. Lithium is processed by  the kidneys. The kidneys in turn regulate Potassium levels which regulate electrical conductivity to the heart. Although Lithium made Frank pass more water, he had to take in a lot of fluid to flush excess  Potassium. It’s a Catch 22.

The side  effects of Lithium include: drowsiness, tremors in your hands, dry mouth & increased thirst or urination, drowsiness;,tremors in your  hands, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, skin or hair changes, cold feeling or discolouration in your fingers or toes or feeling uneasy. Frank did suffer 2 side effects. He suffered from hand tremors & feeling uneasy.

Frank was also put on an anti-manic medication called  Zeldox. He was meant to take it morning & night but found the morning dose made him too drowsy. His Psychiatrist is trying to slowly bring an evening dose forward by two hours in the hope that he will become used to this side effect and eventually have Frank taking the doses as intended without any side effects.

During his 1st 12 months of diagnosis, Frank had 2 episodes of clinical depression.  Wild horses couldn’t get him out of bed for weeks. Two lots of antidepressants were tried 6 months apart, both with catastrophic results. He couldn’t sit still, focus on a conversation, couldn’t sleep & was literally bouncing off the wall. Frank decided that from then on he would go his depressions alone.

When Frank goes high, his Zeldox is increased and works within days. It’s just a matter of getting its timing right.

Frank is still troubled with anxiety and takes 4 tablets when   required. He knows its addictive and tolerance properties so he uses it carefully. This anxiety still sees Frank agitated & unable to stay in the same place for more than 10 minutes. He can also be quite impatient and occasionally stutters. All of these factors feed upon themselves.

…..but Frank is a lot better than he was several years ago. He’s on the right track.

Unbreakable Bond

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Rings

Daniel Hardwick was the newly appointed Night Sister at a local Aged Care Facility. His carer was Claire Chadwick. They hit it off straight away, in fact Daniel had to stop himself from staring at Claire. Little did he know that Claire felt the  same way.

Within 3 shifts they knew every secret that they had within them. They were as close as 2 people could be & told each other so. There was also sexual innuendos flying around.

Daniel had an alcohol problem but never drank before work through respect for  Claire. He lived in a city 40 minutes away. Claire lived 5 minutes away. One morning the inevitable happened. They had  a fling. It went pear-shaped. Claires husband Gary forgot some work tools & had to return to get them. He passed Daniel on the way out of the driveway.

When Daniel arrived home the phone rang. It was an angry Gary. He must have got his number from Claire as Daniel had a silent number. Dan took the phone off the hook & switched his mobile off.

That night at work, Daniel asked what Gary had said. Claire said he was heartbroken but she told him that Daniel was only there for a coffee & had been there before. Gary didn’t believe her so he rang Daniels parents who rang Daniel. Daniel stuck to Claires story. Both Gary & Daniels Mum remained suspicious.

After 9 months, Daniel was sacked for non-attendance. He would ‘go missing’ by not answering the phone. Claire continued to support him until he got sober 7 months later via phone calls, texts and emails. He was then diagnosed with bipolar & medicated..

2 months later Daniel answered the phone & was surprised to hear a calm voice saying,,  “It’s Gary Chadwick here. Claire & I were wondering if you’d like to come for a BBQ on Saturday afternoon?” Daniel was taken aback and asked for directions. He wrote them down.

Saturday arrived & Daniel rang the Chadwicks to see if 3pm was alright. Gary said, “That’d be fine. I’ve got this new BBQ that I want to try out. Oh! Bring overnight gear. We’d like you to stay the night.” Daniel replied “Sure.” He packed a t-shirt and his medications.

Daniel made his way to the Chadwicks & was warmly greeted by Gary. “I’m just about to mess about with this new BBQ. Come grab a drink on the veranda. On the large veranda was the BBQ & a large table, sitting at which was Claire & their 19 yeaar old son Mitchell who promptly stood up, introduced himself & shook Daniels hand. “Go grab Daniel a drink, Mitchell.”

Mitchell returned & sat a can of beer in front of Daniel. Claire sternly said, “Daniel doesn’t drink, Mitchell. I told you, remember?” Mitchell apologised. “No need to apologise, Mitchell. I’m the one with the problem not you.” This lightened the atmosphere again. Mitchell returned with a can of Pepsi,

Daniel & Claire spent their time telling funny work stories. Mitchell was all ears & laughing. He was seeing a side of  his Mum that he hadn’t seen before. Meanwhile Gary was wrestling with his new BBQ, almost setting himself alight, further adding to the hilarity.  The group spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other and generally laughing. Gary was an electrician & Mitchell was studying to be a Pharmacist.

On dark, they moved inside & continued their  conversation when, at 9pm, Daniel stood up & grabbed his medications and sat the boxes on the kitchen bench. He asked Gary & Claire if it was okay to show & explain his medications to Mitchell . “Sure,” said Claire. “It’ll be a good learning experience for him.”

Daniel pulled a strip of each medication from the box & took varying amounts of each tablet from the strip. Mitchell was standing on the opposite side of the bench. “You know I’ve got bipolar, right?” Mitchell looked surprised and said, “No. No I didn’t.” Daniel replied, “All of these medications are for bipolar or anxiety.” Again, Mitchell looked surprised & said, “You? Anxiety?”

Daniel  replied “Yup. So we’ll start with that medication. Here it is.” He pulled out a strip of Valium. “This is Valium. We all know what that does. If you took one of these you’d be out cold in an hour. When I have an anxiety attack it takes 4 to hold me….& that only takes the edge off things. I only take it when necessary as it’s addictive and you get tolerant to it. I take it as a last resort,” explained Daniel.

Daniel then pointed to a long white  tablet. “This is Lithium. It’s a mood stabiliser & takes weeks to build up in your system. You could take one now & nothing would happen. The same applies to this purple one, Valpro. It’s mainly used as an anti-epileptic but serves as a mood stabiliser. The last one is Zeldox, an anti-manic medication. It stops me from staying awake for days on end, “Daniel explained. Most people take 2 a day. I take 4 a day.” Mitchell asked why Daniel needed such high doses. “Body chemistry,” said Daniel. “I just happen to have a high tolerance to medications,

Mitchell then asked if he could make some notes. “Sure,” said Daniel. Mitchell went to his room & returned with a notepad. Daniel went through each medication in more depth & including possible side effects.

The following morning Daniel woke up & walked to the end of the driveway for a cigarette. He hears, “Oi!” from behind him. It was Gary wielding an ashtray. “I didn’t know you smoked, Daniel. You should have said.” Daniel replied, “It’s no big deal.” Gary summoned Daniel to the table on the veranda where he finished his first cigarette. Gary made a coffee and brought one out. Daniel proceeded to have another 3 cigarettes where he & Gary spoke about life in general.

Gary told Daniel that they were having a family gathering in a fortnight & he would like to invite Daniel. “I couldn’t possibly,” Daniel. Gary said, “I insist. It  would be my pleasure. You’d go down a treat.” Daniel agreed before Gary added,”….and you’re welcome to stay the night.” The deal was done.

2 weeks later Daniel was preparing for the Chadwicks BBQ. He felt an an anxiety attack coming on so took 4 Valium. When he arrived his angst raised when he saw the veranda was full of people, all of whom had turned around to look at him. Mitchell came running down & grabbed his bag and rushed it inside. Claire introduced Daniel to everyone, “So you’re this  Daniel we’ve all been hearing about?” Daniel was never going to remember all of their names. Mitchell returned with an ashtray & can of Pepsi for Daniel. He complimented Daniel on his Bob Dylan t-shirt.

Somebody stood & gave Daniel a chair. He was seated by Gary & Claires mother who proceeded to tell him of their ailments. He gave what advice he could but his charm had them around his little finger in no time.

Everybody had a great night & Daniel ended up driving them home, arriving back at the Chadwicks at 1am. Although late Daniel took his medication late anyway. He uncharacteristically until 9am & decided to leave immediately. He wasn’t in the mood for hungover strangers.

Later that afternoon Claire rang and asked if he was alright. He told her the truth. “I’d just as soon keep it to small gatherings in future.”

Small gatherings is how it stayed, as did their affair.

Childrens’ Weekend

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I was divorced many moons ago. At that time my children were very young and stayed with me every second weekend.

We had good routine going….well….they had a good routine going.

Every Friday I would pick them up from school and we would go shopping. We would buy whatever they wanted for  their school lunch on Monday and whatever treats that they would want in the meantime. This would vary from fortnight to fortnight.

As they were generally exhausted after a week at school and from shopping I didn’t make it compulsory that they change out of their school clothes. Sometimes my daughter (my youngest) would fall asleep on the couch & I would carry her through to her bedroom, which she shared with her older brother and put her into her pyjamas there….and that would be her asleep until 8am. Friday nights were spent watching old Looney Tunes videos (back in the day of video cassettes).

Saturdays were largely spent at the nearby Fern Glad Reserve. We would pack our lunch & trek down there. Whilst there we would feed the ducks and kick the soccer ball around. My daughter took great delight in kicking the ball into the small stream there. We would also play chasings around the track that encircled the Reserve. I would give my children a head start & pretend to be the Big Bad Wolf. I would also catch my young daughter first & swing her over my head. Soon afterwards I would do the same with my son. We would do 3 or 4 laps. Old Dad here was knackered.

Saturday night was ‘treat night.’ We would go & grab some videos out and buy McCdonald’s or a pizza  for tea. I think I can recite the movie ‘Ice Age’ word for word. I’d let my children stay up until 9pm on ‘treat nights.’

Sundays were spent through my back gate which revealed the spacious grounds of the local High School. We would take a set of mini golf clubs (with real balls). My young daughter was a bit too little to get the hang of it so she would hide behind trees. My son was a different kettle of fish. When he hit a ball  it stayed hit.

I recall one incident where my daughter hid behind a tree right in the line of flight. I told her not to move until I said, “Okay.” My son hit the ball with that familiar ‘click.’ It was a blinder. As the ball approached the tree my daughter popped her head out. Even though the ball was about 10ft above her I had visions of her head being split open. She had such a chirpy grin on her face that I couldn’t help but laugh.

We would also take their pushbikes  up to the school basketball courts and they would ride around there for hours.

Sunday nights were bath nights. Due to the fact that they were very young, the took a bath together. I had containers of different coloured water dye. They didn’t like yellow as it looked like urine. They didn’t like blue as it was too  dark & they couldn’t see their toys under the water (despite diluting it). They preferred  red so I bought a batch of red colouring.

I  would also make up the childrens school lunches for the next day and had their school clothes washed, ironed & all ready for the next morning. I even manages to  learn to plait my daughters hair. I think she enjoyed it to be honest.

Every night that my children were with me I would sneak into their rooms and just look at them sleeping….until next time.

The Fight

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WARNING: Contains coarse language

Fight

Ben Gustav 52 years old & was out for a quiet tea with his children Mason & Maree who were 19 & 17 years old respectively.

They were enjoying their meals when 2 scruffy youths walked up to Maree & began talking to her, paying no attention to Ben or Mason. Ben thought he”d do the right thing and introduce himself. He stood up, leaned across the table and held his hand out to the lanky ginger haired youth. “I’m Ben. I’m Marees Dad,” he said. The ginger haired youth looked around and said, “Who gives a fuck? Ben took a fork, grabbed his hand, placed it on the table and plunged the fork into the back of his hand. “I give a fuck,” said Ben. “Respect your fucking elder!”

As the ginger haired youth yelled the lounge looked briefly around. Ben noticed his black haired, shorter & stockier friend reach into his pocket. “Don’t bother, son. I’ve been around the blocks more times than you as he twisted the fork before removing it. The pair turned & left with the ginger haired youth whimpering, “We’ll see you outside.” Ben calmly replied, “See you there girls.”

Sitting at a nearby table was a friend called Adam Davidson. Ben went over and asked if he would come out when he, Mason & Maree left to act as a witness. “No problem Ben. Just give me the nod.” Ben told Maree to wait until Adam came back.

When it was time to leave Ben gave Adam the nod. He followed behind them. When they  arrived outside the 2 youths  was standing waiting. They looked casual but had knuckle dusters on. Ben said to Mason, “You take the short one, I’ll take this clown.” No sooner had Ben said the word “clown” than he shot the fingers of his right hand straight around the ginger haired youths larynx. By  reflex he tried to loosen Bens grip. “The harder you try, the tighter I fucking squeeze. Then you go blue in the face.  Then you pass out.”

By this stage Mason had ripped a combination of punches into his opponent rendering him unconscious on the ground.

Ben, whilst still maintaining a tight grip on his larynx, then told his opponent to get on his knees. Once on his knees, Ben kicked him hard in the groin, laying him curled on his side. “Don’t get up, cunt!” he said. His opponent made the stupid mistake twice. Both times Ben Kicked him hard in the  ribs. He  could hear & feel ribs breaking with each kick.

Unbeknownst to Ben & Mason Adam had called the police. The other  2 were speechless so Ben did the talking saying that they were waiting for them randomly with knuckle dusters. One of the officers went to their vehicle & returned a short time later. It turned out that the 2 opponents had several outstanding warrants for assault.

3 months later Ben received a knock on the door. It was the Police. Ben & Mason had been charged by their opponents for assault. Ben laughed, as did the Police who were almost apologetic.

Ben opted to represent himself & Mason. When the Prosecution mentioned the fork in the hand, Ben asked to see it. By this time the wound had healed. Ben then asked if there were any witnesses to  this allegation. The Prosecution became flustered. Ben interrupted him as he rifled through his papers. “Didn’t think so,” said Ben. “It didn’t happen.” The Judge shook her head.

Ben was then asked why he took such extreme measures. Ben replied, “He had knuckledusters. I  had nothing. My son was the same, Your Honour. They could have gone after my daughter next for all I knew.” The Judge nodded at Ben. The Prosecution had nothing further to add.

The  Judge, in her conclusion, stated that Ben & Mason “….took reasonable measures against dangerous armed men & had that incident not occurred, they would still be roaming the streets. The fact that they have the audacity to press charges against a family out for a meal I find appalling.”

I sentence you to another 12 months imprisonment.

Unorthodox Lecturer

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WARNING! Contains  some coarse language.

Lecturer

Bob Halliday was an eccentric. He was very much his own man who lived by his own rules. He was also a genius as well as a poet.

One say he received a knock on his door. On opening his door he was confronted by 2 17 year old girls carrying a copy of one of his books, ‘Words To Ponder.’ The girls were very shy but one of them introduced themselves as Jemma & Angela. They asked if he was Bob Halliday the poet. Bob said, “I am. How did you get my address?” Jemma shyly said, “From the phone book.” Bob turned & yelled at the phone, “You’re supposed too be silent!”

He then turned around and politely asked the girls in. “How can I help,” he gently asked. The girls continued to be shy until Angela said, “We were wondering if you would be kind enough to autograph your book for us.” Bob picked up a pen and briskly signed the books. The girls started giggling & thanked Bob.

When Jemma & Angela returned to school, word soon  got to the Principal that Bob lived nearby. He wanted Bob to  lecture his own poetry for a semester. He asked Angela & Jemma where Bob lived.

The following afternoon the Principal rang Bob & put his proposal to him. Bob said he would think about it & get back to him in 2 days. Bob decided to accept the offer. He would commence in 6 wee

On his first day Bob entered the room wielding a wad of A4 papers, deodoriser & a packet of cigarettes. He sat the paper  on a students desk & got him to pass them along. As t.his was happening, Bob pulled out a table and placed it under a smoke detector. He climbed on top of it & removed the battery, taking the cover with him.

He sat down and lit a cigarette. The class whispered amongst themselves. “Don’t worry about this,” said Bob. “Just read the poem & give me your thoughts.” After a few minutes a few arms shot up. One by one Bob asked their opinion. They were all way off & Bob told them so. “With my poetry,” he explained, “There’s a ‘catch’ verse. A verse that explains it all. It may not be the 1st, last, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & so on but it’s in there. Once you find it, you’ve found the poem. Read it again & tell me the ‘catch’ verse.”

This time the class took longer until Angela shot her arm up. “Verse 3,” she said. “Well done,” said Bob. “Now everybody read the poem bearing in mind verse 3 is the ‘catch’ verse then explain the poem to me. Jemma shot her arm up and explained the poem. “Excellent,” said Bob. On Thursday I want you to write out a synopsis of the poem. That’s what we’ll be doing weekly.”

At the end of the class he asked Jemma & Angela to stay back. As he returned the battery to the smoke detector he emptied it’s cover of its 3 cigarette butts into his pocket & he replaced it. He then asked the 2 girls to keep his residence a secret. They agreed. As they left the class Bob said, “By the way, well done.”

As time progressed Bob noted that Jemmas marks were dropping. He asked her to accompany him to the footpath one Tuesday just outside the school to go over a poem. Bob lit a cigarette & asked Jemma straight out, “What’s wrong Jemma? Your marks are slipping.” Jemma looked embarrassed. Bob said, “You can tell me. I won’t tell a soul.” Jemma reluctantly told Bob that her parents were alcoholics, they fought all day & night & that she couldn’t concentrate. Bob had to come up with a solution.

The following Tuesday morning Bob was summoned to the Principals office and chastised about ‘mingling’ with students. Bob Blew a fuse. “Mingling? I was giving Jemma advice in my time outside of the school and school hours! Is it because she’s a female? I’m 52 for Christs sake! What if it had been a male?” The Principal said, “That would be different.” Bob replied, “Okay, what if it had been a gay male? You people are fucking weirdos!”

Bob went into the class fuming & chain smoked while the students wrote out their synopsis. All the while he was thinking of an option for Jemma….& he came up with one.

He held Jemma back after the class & suggested she come to his house, on the quiet, where she could study in peace. “You’ll have to take the back track, Jemma and won’t your parents miss you gone?” Jemma laughed. “Miss me? They hardly know I’m there.” So it was organised that every Tuesday & Thursday Jemma would take the back track to Bobs house on the quiet to study. Sometimes she would be half an hour, sometimes it could be 3-4 hours & Bob would get a pizza delivered.

Jemmas marks slowly but surely improved but Bob couldn’t tell her what he would be recommending to the Education Department.

With exam time looming, Bob set his class a lengthy poem. One to really test them. The students completed the exam, most of them looking, some of them looking dejected. Jemma & Angela held back, gave Bob a big hug & thanked him. The semester was over. Bob told them to visit him the following Saturday.

Between then & Saturday Bob would have the students papers marked, commented upon & marks given. From here it was basically a rubber stamp.

On Saturday afternoon Jemma & Angela turned up with a copy of another of his poetry books, ‘Ten Fingers.’ Bob made them a coffee & lit himself a cigarette. They chatted for a while about ‘Ten Fingers’ before Jemma asked, “Why are we here, Bob?” Bob jumped to his feet & said, “Oh yes. There’s something I want to show you.” He went to his bedroom and bought out a ream of papers. He rifled through the papers, mumbling as e went then went, “Aha! Angela!” He continued through and went, “Yes! Jemma!” He said to the girls, “You mustn’t tell anyone but these are your results. There’s just a rubber stamp needed. Besides, schools fucking over for now.”

The girls looked at their results and screamed. They had both received Credits. Bobs remarks were also very flattering.

When they left they asked Bob if there might be any chance of him tutoring ‘Ten Fingers.’ Bob winked & said, “Depends what sort of money they’re offering..