WWWally’s everywhere

This piece was written for Jenne and ceayr’s new photo prompt up to 250 words challenge. Check it out and join in.

WWWally: ‘Well, if it isn’t old Stop-Slow-Go himself. Come down in the world have you, down with us peasants on the footpath. What happened? Your life support system run off to be a pole dancer? Bet that made you down in the dumped. Har, har, har.’

Triocular: ‘Not at all. I’ve simply decided to hibernate for a while to consider a new non-trinary life, one which lens itself to a more nuanced view of the world, one less cynically cyclical. A sort of paradise shift if you will.’

WWWally: ‘So what does all that gobbledygook mean when it’s at home?’

Triocular: ‘It means the lights are not on because the old me is no longer at home. With the guidance of my patron saint, St. Oscar of Wilde, I’m here in the gutter looking up, through the glass darkly, at the stars.’

WWWally: ‘You’re mad. And you’re a wanker.’

Triocular: ‘Perhaps you’re right on the first count. As for the second, I’m here alone because I no longer wish to participate in the mass debating that passes for conversation amongst the World Wide Witless.

WWWally: ‘Think you’re better than me, don’t you? Well, you’re going to get yours when the Trump-ettes sound at the Second Coming. And, believe me, that’s not fake news.’

Triocular: ‘Oh, I know. My mind’s eyes have seen the glory, glory, hallelujah. And that’s why I’ve decided to no longer be joined at the lip. Now move on. You’re holding up traffic.’

The Dali Planet

This piece is in response to the weekly Min Min prompt at https://sixcrookedhighways.com/min-min-weekly-prompt/ . Jump in, the water’s fine.

Salvador Dali Clock Painting at PaintingValley.com | Explore collection ...

The world thought it had seen everything until all the guns went limp, like Dali watches. Monty Python-like, armies were reduced to yelling insults at each other. When they tried to throw hand grenades they found blancmanges in their hands. When they fixed bayonets, they found their swords were only drawn and not real.

Gangsters became a laughing stock when they had to resort to ‘bang, bang, you’re dead’. The best that potential school shooters could manage was ‘I hate Mondays’.

Lions fell about laughing when all that popped out of the end of hunters’ rifles were corks on strings. (Mind you, their revenge was thwarted when they found their teeth had turned into marshmallows.) Ducks danced on the hats of men camouflaged in the marshes.

Soon the world realised that it wasn’t just guns that had become laughing stocks but the plague of benevolence and good will had spread to all the micro aggressions that had become rampant in modern times.

Perpetrators of rude finger gestures found they now had a hand full of sausages that couldn’t be trained to type or hold a steering wheel or steer a motorbike. Thugs and wife-beaters found their hands had turned to fairy floss and they were besieged by children.

Politicians discovered that anything stronger than ‘yah-sucks-boo to you’ stuck in their craw. Social media trollers watched in horror as their digital diatribes fell from their screens like confetti before they could become fully formed.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Tasmania

This piece was written for the Min Min weekly prompt challenge for 27 January 2023.

Adam lived in a weatherboard cottage in Tasmania, surrounded by his apple orchard.

Sales of his annual apple crop were declining due to the perfect storm of the Australian market’s demand for certified organic versus the demands of their Japanese customers for unblemished perfection. As Adam’s hitherto simple life began to unravel, his nights became increasingly apocalyptic.

His nightmares always began with a tympanic pelting storm besieging his eardrums akin to being duct-taped to AC-DC’s concert amps, punctuated by thunderclaps of Biblical proportions and the sound effects of Cyclone Tracy.

The overflowing water flooding into his brain began to short out his synapses and sizzling spark-fests criss-crossed his lobes in a chain lightning reaction.

The ventricles of his heart began to sport stalactites, transported via the ice in his veins, and driven by the Antarctic blizzard invading his gasping mouth.

He loved God but now saw him as a sadist.

Until the arrival of Eve, carrying a backpack, and asking if he had any work available. Adam was immediately smitten and invented a job on the spot, with no idea how he was going to pay her. He needn’t have worried because Eve immediately took stock of the situation and re-positioned the business as ‘Hissy Fit Cider – The Asp-irational Drink’ and she appeared on the label, picking apples, naked.

Now Adam welcomed the cyclone of orders that kept him up all night.

We are the little folk, we.

This piece was written for the Min Min Weekly Prompt Challenge for 20 Jan 2023. It was inspired by ‘The Pict Song’ by Billy Bragg, with lyrics by Rudyard Kipling.

It began with tea and tears. Sophie had been sacked by the local supermarket.  

‘I’ve been replaced by a self-serve scanner. What am I going to do, Gran? How am I going to pay the rent and everything?’

Gran said ‘Let me think about it. We’ll find a way. Now, wash your face and go home to your family.’

After Sophie left, a plan began to take shape. She hit her email list, filled them in on Sophie’s story and arranged the first meeting of We Are One.

The next day, some members of the group each collected a large trolley, filled it to overflowing with randomly selected items and presented at the traditional check-out queues. Simultaneously, another group did likewise but entered the self-service checkout corral. There they laboriously scanned each item, including large bags of apples, which they weighed and checked individually. It was not long before there was a logjam at the ‘Not OK Corral’, so legitimate customers headed for the now burgeoning queues at the two checkout desks that were open. When every checkout was opened, Gran blew a whistle and the members left. And Sophie was called in to help put all the goods back on the shelves.

Gran’s email to the supermarket chains was succinct. ‘We Are One. Remove the self-serve checkouts immediately or we will send you broke. We refuse to be cyphers. We will be counted and we will counter. We Are One. And this is just the beginning.’

Untying the knot

As my modest but loyal list of people who read my blog know, for some time now I have regularly taken part in the weekly ‘Six Sentence Challenge’ run by the wonderfully generous and very talented Denise Farley. I used to enjoy being part of a group of writers of talent, wit, and skill.

However I have gradually become more and more concerned about the agendas of some of my fellow travelers.

I now find myself amidst:

– people beating the drum for climate change denial and the continued exploitation of dangerous forms of non-renewable energy

– a contributor’s home page that promotes an anti-abortion agenda

– fatuous Bible quotations popping up in the comments, with one seemingly for every occasion

– people who want to move to Mars to get away from the mess they’ve created on this planet

– ‘contributors’ that seem to think SSC is a Facebook page and that ‘I saw a bird in a tree yesterday’ constitutes creative writing.

The older I get, the less I want to be around people who make me grind what’s left of my teeth, so I’m moving on from the Six Sentence Challenge.

Those whose work I have appreciated and encouraged know who they are and I wish them every success in their ongoing writing endeavors. As for the rest, keep pleasuring yourselves; you’re good at it.

Vault – Disambiguation from Wackypedia (Note: Alternative spelling for ‘volt’)

This piece as written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt of ‘vault’. Trigger warning: Silliness lurks here.

Vault     1. German pronunciation of Walt

                2. Cryptic definition of catacomb (or the smaller version, the kittycomb)

(see also megavault – humungous vault and microvault – mother’s handbag)

                3. Be promoted beyond your level of competence e.g. appointed to management

                4. Watt happens between two points at one’s ohm

Pole vault – Uprising in Warsaw

Re-vault – To vault again

Summervault – 360 degree acrobatic revolution only performed when sunny

Killervault – Lethal electric shock (see also gigavault – danger to guitarist performing in rain)

Cranial vault – Cavity in head whose walls are used as a measure of intelligence, varying from permeable to thick as a brick.

There’s a lot to a range

This piece was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘range’.

Home, home on the range (if you can call a block in a rural village a ‘range’), where the rabbits try to play merry hell with my attempts to grow vegetables (for us) and my wife’s planting of trees and shrubs for the birds to sit in and for us to look at, we sit on our roofed deck (yeah, I know, men and their decks), and solve most of the world’s problems (you’re welcome).

Most of our discussions begin with an aorta; not the one in your heart but the short form of ‘they ought to’ (where ‘they’ is some vague entity that has the power to change troublesome things), as in ‘Aorta do something about stupid drivers, the internet, the health system, petty politics and the burgeoning industry of creating new things to be offended about, (insert your own range of pet peeves here).’

During these discussions we reminisce about the magical times when a range was a slow combustion device that you cooked on, after having fed it with wood that you’d chopped yourself, and which also provided your sole source of heating and hot water for the bath that the whole family shared on Saturday night, whether you needed one or not.

Moving right along, we venture onto the infinite range of character-building activities which, were they still in place today, would ensure no juvenile delinquency, murders, lewd dancing or television, and these include having to bury the contents of the can that sat under the seat in your outdoor toilet, re-using the paper bag that carried your school lunch in for at least a week, tolerating without complaint having your face cleaned with a handkerchief that your mother had just spat on, and having you mouth washed out with soap for swearing.

Unlike the famous Monty Python ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch we, of course, do not exaggerate about the halcyon days of our youth when we walked ten miles through the snow to school and were thrashed within an inch of our lives by teachers wielding a range of corporal punishment techniques, including the cat o’ nine tails or a mace on a chain if our handwriting was not immaculate copperplate and between the lines.

And no, unlike some grandparents we could name (and they know who they are), we do not chastise our grandchildren about their screen fixation, addiction to junk food and appalling tastes in music, preferring instead to lock them in our walk-in freezer for a while and invite them to make friends with the range of rabbits and annoying neighbours hanging in there.

Cassandra? Never met ‘er.

This piece of nonsense was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘meter’, which recalcitrant Americans persist in believing is a measure of distance, proving that if you give them an inch they’ll take 1.6 kilometres.

Cassandra, the Greek patron saint of meterology, was blessed with the ability to take the measure of anything or anyone down to the last scintilla but was then cursed to never be believed, which is why she’d given up warning about perfidious politicians, bridge collapses and cryptocurrencies.

Feminists argue that it allowed her to stay a virgin all her life because she could spot a bounder and a cad a mile (or 1609.344 metres) off but she still had innocent dalliances with handsome young men, especially the local butcher, who was always glad to meat ‘er.

Thousands of poems were written for her, all in the strict meter of the time (with iambic pentameter being the most common, being Greek and all that), in vain attempts to sweep her off her feet.

She predicted that, in later times, particularly verbose individuals would be known as gasometers and, when the Victorians borrowed the name for giant gas tanks, the irony of their resemblance to politicians was not lost on the English.

And Cassandra foresaw the tyranny of parking meters, leading Bob Dylan advising ‘don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters’ and Cool Hand Luke descending to beheading parking meters and then dying through a failure to communicate, because it simply wasn’t his metier.

In Terror Australis, in which Melbourne is the third largest Greek city in the world and Adelaide is known as The Athens of the South, due to massive migration in the 50’s and 60’s, the legend of Cassandra lives on in our addiction to her invention for laying curses on the truly evil, the hexameter.

The Sun shines out of Geoffrey’s artichokes

This piece was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘verge’.

Explanatory note: In Australia, a suburban garden verge is the strip of land between the footpath (sidewalk, pavement) and the street. Technically this land is owned by the relevant local government authority and some maintain them (e.g. mow the grass) but many require that residents maintain the section in front of their house, which has in turn led to the street verge gardening movement.

Never a keen gardener in the past, Geoffrey in retirement had become obsessed with growing useful things, with an emphasis on orderliness and strict boundaries for his raised beds of vegetables and fruit trees in large pots.

Of course he could not eat even a small proportion of the seasonal harvests, so he gave most of it away to initially grateful (and then later inwardly groaning and discreetly binning) neighbours.

Having used every square inch of arable land he owned, he took advantage of the street gardening movement to colonise the verge in front of his home, growing mostly herbs that he imagined passers-by would gratefully snip off (with the scissors he had thoughtfully provided, hanging on a string) to add to their evening meal, having failed to observe that most of his neighbours still worked, rarely cooked and never walked anywhere.

One morning, as he was doing his rounds, inspecting his crops, he stood gazing in horror at the carnage in his herb bed on the verge, clearly created by vehicles owned by social miscreants, and then walked briskly back inside and began to coldly map out his dish of revenge, followed by world domination (or at least that part of the world that comprised the street on which he lived).

Over the next few years, Geoffrey leveraged his savings to buy up his less desirable neighbours one by one, including Cactus Man (his front garden resembled the Mojave Desert) and, shortly afterwards, the home of the young people next door, who believed the perfect garden involved red tanbark and gravel and a ‘classic car’ parked on it while it awaited restoration that never seemed to commence.

With each acquisition, he transformed its garden into the orderly and productive space it should always have been, engaged agents to let the properties to people screened for their green fingers and, a decade on, he had created a miniature green solar system, with highly desirable moons orbiting around his virtuous Sun.

PS – Shameless self-promotion of my ridiculously cheap books (including one with ‘Verge’ in the title) to use as stocking stuffers for the festive season.

On The Verge Of Extinction https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B7L4JYJY

Raving and Wryting – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NXMXB3W

The Eternality of Eternity

And now for something completely different this week; an historical anecdote. This piece was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘eternal’.

Arthur Malcolm Stace was born in 1885, brought up by alcoholic parents in poverty that led to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins, and as a teenager became an alcoholic, was sent to jail at 15 and, in his twenties, he was a scout for his sisters’ brothels.

But, after hearing a sermon on eternity in 1930, he suddenly gave up alcohol at the age of 45 and went on to achieve world-wide fame as ‘Mr. Eternity’, before his death in 1967 at the age of 83.

For 35 years he inscribed the word ‘Eternity’, in copperplate writing (despite the fact that he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly), with yellow chalk (and later crayons) on footpaths and doorsteps in and around Sydney and it’s estimated he did this half a million times.

Only one original still exists, inside the bell of the Sydney General Post Office clock tower, which was brought out of storage in the 1960’s and no-one knows how Stace had been able to get to the bell, which had been sealed up for 20 years.

He inspired many artists (including Banksy) and writers, spawned an opera and even a film by Julien Temple, the video chronicler of the Sex Pistols and The Kinks.

In 2000, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up with the word “Eternity” as part of the celebrations for the beginning of the year 2000, as well as being part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, in celebration of a man who became eternal though the use of one word.

You can learn more about Arthur in this brief video. https://youtu.be/bF7X9aiRH7s