The Washing Line

The damp, miserable weather didn’t deter the two middle-aged ladies from leaning against their fences, exchanging local gossip and scandals. Both women were wearing their house coats, hair in curlers wrapped up in a scarf, tied in a floppy bow on top of their heads. “You know Alf, from number 64?” “Do you mean May’s old man?” “Yes, well, you will never believe this.  Ethel saw him leaving number 62 at 6.30 in the morning.  What do you make of that then?” “I was wondering what Ethel was doing looking out of her window at that time in the morning.” “Don’t worry about that, but that tart at number 62 has been eyeing up my other half as well.  Hussy!” “She must be desperate, Alf’s not much to write home about and your old man isn’t much better.” “There’s no need to get nasty, he’s had an ‘ard life.” The two women clammed up shut and both watched Susie from number 62 come out into her garden.  She put...
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Hidden qualities

“OK settle down now, class.  Turn to page 56 in your books.  Whose turn is it to continue reading?” A deafening silence was heard around the room, where everyone tried to sink lower into their seats. Finally, a tentative hand went up, Lesley, known as Piglet, because of her diminutive size and quiet voice, admitted to being the next in line. We all had nicknames from Winnie the Pooh, in the sixth form, Tigger being the loudest and the bounciest, Pooh being the soppiest and Eeyore the most miserable and glum.  But Lesley aka Piglet was the epitome of her character, timid and quite anxious, even her stuttering reinforced the similarities. Lesley looked around the classroom fearfully, dreading the moment Mr. Dawes would tell her to start.  She prayed that her stutter wouldn’t be too obvious and that she could read the words in her book, as she had forgotten to bring her glasses that day. “Come on then Lesley, don’t keep us all waiting.” Lesley...
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Petty Cash

With all the above advice in my head, I began my first day working as a Financial Officer at my local council. My boss, the Town Clerk, was an elderly lady with silver hair and a beautiful, sophisticated dress sense.  She was a real pussy cat, easily persuaded by the local councillors.  Any meetings which were held, I had to attend and keep minutes.  This enabled me to find out, first hand, what was going on in the council offices. I quickly realised that the local councillors were a mixture of good intentions blended together seamlessly with their desire for personal gain.  Most local councillors also had delusions of grandeur, believing that their power was endless and no rules could prevent them from getting their own way. One of my less enjoyable jobs, was to ensure that our car park ticket machines were emptied on a regular basis.  A lovely elderly gentleman had the job of then bringing me the coins, which I...
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Lies, damn lies and statistics

Using gentle persuasion, demonstrations and protestations, with varying degrees of intensity. Failing that, the use of blackmail, dishonesty or simple threats, maybe useful. Get the best speakers you can afford, they don’t necessarily need to believe in your plan, they will be able to persuade their listeners anything without conviction. Use social media to swamp the internet with information/mis-information, just get the issue out and being discussed everywhere by everyone, don’t forget the usefulness of the hashtag#. Use facts, statistics, conjecture and opinions as proof, whether it has any truth is neither here nor there. Encourage discussion on the topic at every opportunity, standing at a bus stop, in church, at the Doctor’s surgery.  Engage your target with passion, creativity and a feeling of guilt, if they don’t agree. Speak badly of your opponents, truth if possible, or rumours or maybe even just downright lies.  Some of what is heard will stick, so don’t be afraid to criticise your adversaries. Use humour to entertain, educate and influence...
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It’s an Ill Wind

“It’s an east wind again today.” Observed Ethel. “I know, I’ve had to keep all my windows shut because of the stench.” Agreed Doris “Perhaps we need to talk to George about it, I’m certain he doesn’t do it on purpose.” The two neighbours were standing outside the butchers looking keenly at the display of meat for sale.  They chatted for a bit longer before separating and going about their daily routine. George, up at the farm was oblivious to the fact that his habit of storing the pig’s liquid manure above ground, instead of in underground pits, was causing the village so much consternation. He couldn’t smell the vile odour which knocked most people prostrate on the ground with one whiff.  An accident several years ago, meant that his sense of smell had been totally lost.  He never really missed it, especially as most smells on a farm are unpleasant, he took the loss as an advantage. When Ethel’s phone rang later that afternoon, disturbing...
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The Shout

“The bells are going down, again.” Shouted the Duty Man. Groans were heard from the team eating their lunch, but still they all flung their cutlery down and dashed out from the Mess to the waiting appliance, Struggling to get their uniforms on, each man was silent, waiting to hear the information from control.  “Persons reported.”   Another groan went up.  “Two adults and three children.       “This time the groans were louder and had more concern. The vehicle moved rapidly through traffic, only slowing slightly at a red light, to ensure a safe path through.  ‘On the run’ was always a time for caution and trepidation. Blue Watch were silent now, ready and eager for action.  Their duties, practiced rehearsed and practiced again were fixed in their minds.  A live shout always meant that the adrenalin was pumping fast in every man. As soon as the engine slowed down at the scene, Blue Watch scrambled to their individual tasks.  No words were spoken between them, only...
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The Shout

“The bells are going down, again.” Shouted the Duty Man. Groans were heard from the team eating their lunch, but still they all flung their cutlery down and dashed out from the Mess to the waiting appliance, Struggling to get their uniforms on, each man was silent, waiting to hear the information from control.  “Persons reported.”   Another groan went up.  “Two adults and three children. “  This time the groans were louder and had more concern. The vehicle moved rapidly through traffic, only slowing slightly at a red light, to ensure a safe path through.  ‘On the run’ was always a time for caution and trepidation. Blue Watch were silent now, ready and eager for action.  Their duties, practiced rehearsed and practiced again were fixed in their minds.  A live shout always meant that the adrenalin was pumping fast in every man. As soon as the engine slowed down at the scene, Blue Watch scrambled to their individual tasks.  No words were spoken between them,...
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My Great Escape

Keeping a developing child in tight restraints is as bad as keeping a wild bird caged.  As soon as it tastes freedom, it is off, not intending to return ever again. At the age of 13, my school geography lessons, arranged a trip to Edale, staying in a Youth Hostel and studying the area.  This was my first taste of freedom, away from home, with my friends, being able to express myself without restrictions.  Apart from discovering the beautiful countryside, I also discovered boys.  Or rather one boy in particular, the son of the people who ran the Youth Hostel.  He was 16 and gorgeous and he really liked me. We spent every evening talking and staring into each other’s eyes.  The song ‘Young Girl’ played endlessly on the radio and we both identified with it. Finally, my escape ended and we all returned home.  The grip of parental control seemed even tighter and the desire to escape again became overwhelming.  With careful...
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Bad Timing

The problem with living with strict parents who are not prepared to listen or understand you, is that eventually you find the courage to stand up to them and question their rules. Mum used to say to me “Don’t give me your excuses.” My reply “They are not excuses; they are reasons.”  This seems to be an intelligent response from a child and in later life with my own children, I had one rule.  If you answer back, make it funny. Mum didn’t have a sense of humour at all, sadly, as much as I tried to make her laugh, I failed at every attempt.  Eventually I gave up trying, even gave up aiming to please her, as nothing ever seemed to work. She had such pathetic rules, mostly concerning cleaning the house.  She had no outside influences, no job, no friends, the neighbours were to be feared rather than friended.  “What will the neighbours say?”  She would often ask me, as I...
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Help me – I’m stuck Part Two

You are standing at the water’s edge, watching the moon arc its silvery face across the treetops on the far spur of land jutting into the lake. The reflected ripples petal their way to your feet and you muse at their silver slidings. The violence of the violet crack from your head through your eyes blends into blackness. Your next sense is of the soft sheet against your chin. You have no sight, there is a muffled murmuring around you. Strangely you can’t make it out because of the bandages covering your ears and eyes. Bandages???   You feel the sheets tucked tightly around you.  They are so restrictive that no movement is possible.  You wonder why you can’t see anything and can barely hear.  The muffled voices sound stifled, as if the speakers don’t want you to hear. You strain to lift your arms, but the bedclothes prevent you from doing anything, imprisoned, restrained and scared. “So how is she today, Doctor?” “Well, her injuries are improving...
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