Archive for December, 2007

Short stories

December 30, 2007

This is the first of a ‘look at life’ series of short stories.  If any character resembles a known person, it is purely coincidental. 

CONFLICT in the vestry

“The Dilston Catholic Church needs a new bell,” Paul stated, in his usual gentle voice. “We have that old one in the cellar, I suggested to Father Pat that we gave it to them… we don’t need it. And we are trying to get our churches working together.”

While I smiled in approval, Prudence Grype, the pillar of the church for the last thirty years, snapped:

What! Over my dead body. You have no right to give that bell away… It was given to us by Major Grimston.”

The Reverend Paul Witless, only installed in our pleasant country church six months previously, was taken aback. Clearly he did not know Mrs Grype like the rest of us did. That church, its contents and traditions were far more important to her than anything else.

“But it’s doing nothing… just sitting in the cellar gathering dust,” spluttered Paul. “Surely it’s better to put it to good use.”

“Huh! Start giving these things away, and no one will make gifts to our church ever again.”

“I seem to recall that bell,” butted in Henry Budge, our churchwarden since time began. (No one had ever dared to oppose him when we held the annual elections.) Major Grimston brought it back with him at the end of the last war. It had belonged to a convent in Greece. He found the bell amongst the rubble. I have an idea he donated it to us. I think it was after his wife died.”

“Purloined, likely,” muttered Bill Briggs, beneath his breath. “Then wanted to get rid of it before there was a rumpus.”

Our saintly Paul smiled confidently. “Ah, it was likely a Catholic convent, so what better than to put it to use in the belfry of a Catholic church?”

“You can’t give away our treasures,” Prudence Grype insisted. “You, vicar, have no right. You must put it to the PCC!”

I looked around at the dozen sombre faces of the members lining the walls of the vestry. They began nodding in unison. There had to be a vote.

“Very well,” sighed Paul. “Proposer please.”

“Wait a minute,” I piped up. “We have not fully discussed this matter.”

“Nothing more to discuss,” Prudence insisted. “It’s time we moved on. I propose we keep the bell. Our churchwarden will second. And remember, if we give this bell away, we’ll be cut out of our parishioners wills, and no one will give us anything again!”

A few ditherers received a stony stare. Arms stiffened upwards.

“Anyone against?”

Along with the vicar, I raised my hand.

The result of the vote was noted by the secretary.

“I seem to recall our Lord saying something about not building up treasure on earth,” I always seem to find things to say when it’s too late.

“Never mind all that,” barked Budge. “We have more important things to discuss. The Church Féte takings were down on last year. And at the tea, there was not enough trifle to go round at top table. I didn’t get any!”



Fiction and the horror of reality

December 21, 2007

We have about finished the Colin Forbes book. At least, we have had lots of laughs at, what we consider to be, ridiculous characters and situations. Even what was supposed to be horror we found to be ludicrous.    How different from the reality of criminal violence, suffering and death.  How different too, for many of those who are officially involved at the scene, and in the investigation of bloody accidents, death or injury through violence, child abuse and a whole range of scenarios, many of which, puts the officer ‘on the spot’ at risk himself from the perpetrators of crime.   Police, especially the men, are expected to be tough, not only physically and mentally, but emotionally also.  But they are human, and that which makes them good at their job — a caring attitude and a desire to make things safer and better — also makes them vulnerable.  But macho men can be at conflict within themselves.  Keep up appearances, don’t allow the smallest chip in one’s emotional armour to show.  Isn’t that what we expect from our police officers? After all THEY knew what the job entailed.  On our TV screens, we have seen battles between police and rioters, with bobbies being seriously injured.  We have seen them, and others, at the scenes  of gruesome traffic accidents, raging fires,  horrid murders and domestic violence.  Yes these men (and women) are tough cookies! BUT they are like us — human, not supermen.   Forbes’ Tweed (we call him Weed) and his band of merry men plus tough Paula, are involved in bloody carnage and appear (to us) to be unaffected by it all.  But what of real life? What of those officers we see on the job in the real world?   Read the truth — fact, not fiction.     

Of books good and bad

December 14, 2007

Andy O’Hara has written a comment on my last posting. He gives me a pleasant picture — sitting in my comfortable home, reading a good book.Actually, I do better than that, because my husband reads to me. Apart from small snippets of reading at one session, I am not able to read books because of eye problems. That is why I am addicted to this computer. I can read the screen (an older Apple version) quite well and it keeps me in touch with the world. Each day, mostly a couple of times, we relax while my hubby does his best at reading our latest choice.We get through quite a few books. We have recently finished another of Stephen White’s psychological thrillers. They both feature the psychotherapist Alan Gregory. Now, it so happens that I have studied psychology and hold a certificate in counselling skills, so I find this sort of drama interesting. One could almost say, educational. Both the stories we have read have good plots, although they do tend to get a bit confusing at times. Likely, this is because listening is different to reading, in as much I have to keep names and places in mind without the printed word to fall back on.We both find the books are too long and the stories drawn out far too much by descriptive material; good in itself but it slows down the flow. Hence I have to keep being reminded who is who and so on.There is no virtue in dragging out a ‘thriller’ as it loses its ability to ‘thrill’!I find that some authors, having spent many hours researching for their next book, feel a need to use everything they have got! I can understand this (my college essays were always too long!) but the reader of thrillers does not need a history lesson, a tourist guide, nor a lecture on certain techniques and so on, to appreciate the story. An appendix would be more appropriate, if the writer feels the reader MUST know ALL the facts pertinent to the background of his story even though they are not necessary to the tale itself. As it so happens with White’s “Missing Persons” I had already guessed the ‘mystery’ but there was still half the book to read through. I have to admit, at times. I was dropping to sleep. (Well, I am an old biddie that gets tired easily!) Having said all that, “Blinded” and Missing Persons” are good novels and well-written. That is more than I can say for the Colin Forbes book we are presently reading — “Blood Storm”. Dear, dear, his very familiar characters have become even more stereotyped since the last books we read of his. The main character seems to have been turned into an unbelievable idiot. I think the whole bunch need to retire. Gratuitous violence does not help the plot along — and we are only a few chapters through it. I’m not sure whether the book tells me how to write (IF I want to attract a publisher) or how not to write (IF I want to keep my self-respect  as a writer!) I guess once a published author has a formulae for turning out a good thriller, it can so easily lead to repetition with a downhill momentum. But I guess his books still sell, so who am I to judge? 

Spread a little happiness!

December 5, 2007

The ability to spread happiness, to make people smile and laugh, is a wonderful gift. It seems that some folk go about it in a quiet way, breaking sunlight through dark clouds of gloom.  I have met new friends on the Internet that do just that for me, although in different ways.  Apart from his Journal, Jerry Jimston writes on:   You will find a whole different dimension by going to:   and click on the picture of the bear with my name mentioned over it, it will enlarge and the message become easier to read.  There follows a newspaper report.  This is a hell of a distinction for me!  What a lark! 

A short story

December 3, 2007

Using their own words, the class was performing a parable from the New Testament  — the story of the blind man receiving back his sight from Jesus.   Bobby was the ragged blind man, and Mark played the part of Jesus. The story progresses… “Master, master, have  pity on me.”    “What is it you want?”    “Master, I want my sight back.”  Mark looked at his teacher with a very worried expression on his young face.  “I haven’t got it!”  A good commentary on the Church? With all the concern over traditions, establishment, creeds, sexuality etc. etc. how will anyone ‘see’ the reality of Christian truth that God is LOVE and the healer of man’s soul?