50,000 words in November

Inspired by Marquesa (I will, no doubt, learn to despise her as a result) I thought that I would put my name in the hat for this month of torture.

It will, at least, have the positive symptom of keeping me too busy to bore you people with inane and essentially meaningless posts on here.

But here’s the problem. I think I need some sort of pre-prepared basic plot in my head before putting the first word on the page. I have no such plot.

So I am fishing around for ideas.

Does anyone have any plots in their heads that they have been meaning to act upon but have never got around to? And would you like to witness your beautiful project being ruined? If so, I’m your man.

Any ideas more than welcome ….

Two – for the price of one (but for less than the value)

3 things challenge …. affair, share, after hours

SoCS …. flowers

OK. This is just plain lazy. Sitting here this morning and waiting for the sun and trying to contribute something. Was tickled a little bit by 2 Challenges (above) but too slack to give either of them the attention that they deserve.

Don’t bring me flowers

And expect


After hours

Bring respect

That we can share

Man and wife

Until then

It is my life

And not your affair

It’s a desert out there. And I was parched.

I’ve created such a mess

I am here to confess

There’s no way for me to justify my actions

Though I’m taking all the blame

I cannot supply her name

But I offer you my unreserved retractions

I’ve been missing you so much

You know I pine for your touch

I was parched for your love and for your kindness

I really wasn’t thinking

After she and I’d been drinking

Please forgive me for my temporary blindness


A minor reversal of form

Those of you who have been following my sad entries in writing competitions (yes, both of you) may be startled to hear of an apparent form reversal in the most recent Fiction War event.

The final 15 were selected and somehow (conceivably via a clerical error) my name found its way onto the list.

Go figure.

Eccentric. Not in our street, thank you.

Word of the day – eccentric

We were told, in hushed tones, that he was crazy. And that was made clear from the day he moved into number 21, next to Mrs Simpson. Although the word ‘crazy’ was never used, of course. He was, more commonly, referred to as ‘eccentric’. But we quickly learned that ‘eccentric’ meant ‘crazy’. It was just a more polite way of putting it. A polite sort of insult, I suppose. For we lived in a very polite street.

He was from Afghanistan and he had a thick accent that no-one understood very well but from which everyone could tell that he was not very intelligent. And probably dangerous.

And my mother told me that, under no circumstances, was I to accept any offers of lollies or cold drinks from him. And perhaps that it might be best if I didn’t talk to him at all. Ever.

But here was the problem. I walked past his house everyday as I came home from school and if he wasn’t tending to his vegetable garden at the time he was sitting on his verandah sipping on hot tea and staring out into the distance. And when he saw me he said hello and before I knew it we were talking daily about football and the weather and how to make lemonade and what sort of roses grew best in dry soils.

And he told me about his former life as a doctor and how, one night, the police came and took his wife away. And then he said, “but don’t you worry about that because this is a better country where everyone is free and they don’t put people in jail for no reason.”

And so I was a bit surprised when they came with their flashing lights and their sirens and their air of self-importance and they pushed him into the back of the van and drove him away. I was walking home from school just at that moment so he had the opportunity to say, “don’t worry …. a misunderstanding … “ or something like that. I never saw him again.

There are laws against eccentricity in this country, of course. I realise that now.


A confession of failure


I just read it again. It is pretty dreadful.

The rules were :-

1000 words maximum 48 hours after this prompt….

Horror/ A wave pool/ A pitchfork.


An unfaithful husband receives an unexpected reception at an exclusive spa resort.

“Spear or pitchfork?” he was being asked.

Looking down from above she could hear little other than the excited cheers of the women, of course, and the impatient roaring of the beast. But she could feel the fear and confusion projected by her husband’s eyes.


Earlier that day, upon arrival, he had shown only his usual bravado, joking about his continued infidelities. “I must say, Sarah,” he had said, “you are being terribly decent about all of this. A holiday together? One was expecting a more traditional response.”

“Well, Simon,” she had retorted, “one must develop a stiff upper lip, I suppose, when one’s tits begin to sag.” It was an unveiled reference to text messages that she had found only recently on his phone. “One must summon a dignified response.”

If he had given any thought to the meaning of this then he had not shown it. He was examining the elaborate foyer with interest. “Impressive,” he conceded, “not my cup of tea, of course, but impressive nonetheless. These fake columns look to be of solid marble.”

A staff member had joined them by then, slim and beautiful and displaying an impossibly perfect smile. She injected herself professionally into the conversation. “Corinthian, Sir. Covertly extracted from ruins forty miles south-west of Pompeii. Here at the Hotel Vesuvius we do try to inject a certain level of authenticity into our deception.” She paused for a second to let her polite correction settle. “I am Minerva, and I will provide a brief tour of the facilities.”

“Oh,” he had said, embarrassed both by tact and beauty, “my mistake.”

His mistake, indeed.


The Hotel Vesuvius, according to the brochure, was an ‘invitation only’ spa and resort occupying fifty-seven acres of otherwise unusable desert land and claimed to be ‘a faithful reproduction of Rome before the birth of Christ … yet only four hours drive from Los Angeles.’

Minerva was continuing with her duty to support such a claim, “In the Roman baths”, she informed them, “one may enjoy all the indulgences of the ancients whilst simultaneously benefiting from modern technology. The baths themselves are built with stone sourced from quarries at the base of Mount Etna, but the water that runs from one pool to another in a constant cycle fell originally as snow on the Swiss alps before being filtered via mountain streams on its journey south. The mineral springs are heated by the energy of our own desert sun but with solar technology derived from the Russian space program. The masseuses are, of course, all Swedish.”

As if on cue several tanned and spectacularly muscular blond men smiled in unison as they passed by in white shorts and tight shirts ferrying towels from one room to another.

“And all gorgeous,” Sarah pointed out, perhaps unnecessarily.


“The wave pool, is located within the Gardens of Lucullus, and is central to everything.” Minerva continued methodically as they stepped out into the sunlight, “From the beach you can see all of the resort in its entirety. Spa to the right, gardens and Colosseum to the left. It is not authentic, of course, but the design has origins in early Venetian research into the nature of perpetual motion championed by Leonardo da Vinci. The gentle movement of waves ensures the continued purity of all our water as well as a tranquil ambience by which to relax.”

Simon was not listening. His focus was, by then, on near naked women swimming or sunning themselves beneath umbrellas. The stark imbalance in the male/female ratio had not alluded him. “Tell me”, he asked, “do you get many men here?”

“Apart from the masseuses and the Centurions we see very few men, Sir. So, when husbands attend with their wives, it is a special occasion.” She paused, perhaps to gauge his reaction before continuing, “And so I might ask you now to wait here as such an occasion is prepared.”


They sat there, mainly in silence, for perhaps an hour enjoying, for entirely different reasons, the view.

“Excited?” she asked him.

“Should I be?”

“Oh, yes, I think you should.” But he was clearly becoming uneasy.


When Minerva returned she was in the company of two Adonis-like figures in formal military attire. Both stood well over six feet tall. Simon leaned towards his wife and whispered in her ear, “They got this bit wrong. Back in Roman times no man would have been more than five seven.”

The men were, in fact, physically perfect. “I don’t think it really matters, do you?” she said.

“Shall we take a peek at the Colloseum?” suggested Minerva.


When they arose every woman arose likewise and they found themselves in a long procession. Women now were openly staring at him and even touching him. Minerva was completing her spiel as they approached the gates. “Erected by Sicilian craftsmen in 2014 it is one quarter the size of the original, but still, you will agree, imposing.”

“The original Colosseum boasted a capacity of ten thousand. We can manage a little over three. At a pinch.”

The swelling crowd was clearly audible above them now, the sound interrupted only by the sudden roar of a wild beast beneath them. “The tiger,” Minerva continued mechanically, “was sourced from India.”

“Women enter upwards via the stairs. Men go down.”

“I’m not sure that I like this,” Simon managed to blurt out.

By then the Centurions had him by each arm and he was forced into the darkness beneath the stadium.


“Spear or pitchfork?” They thrust his selection forward and then ejected him out again into the sunlight and into the deafening roar of the crowd. He was immediately turning in panic, running first left then right attempting to locate the gate behind which his predator was contained. He had chosen the pitchfork.

The women around her were chanting and baying for blood. She contented herself with a simple smile and waited for the tiger to be released.