The Daily Dose of Silly Words

Don’t panic. I won’t actually be doing this on a daily basis. I am sliding slowly into senility and by tomorrow I won’t even remember contemplating such an ambitious notion.

And by tomorrow I will have forgotten much of anything that I might have said today and virtually everything that I might have written. So I store some of the sillier stuff on this page for safe keeping. I don’t know why.

Cheryl had a few thoughts here about expressing one’s emotions with paint. And I did too. So this is what I said.

A picture paints a thousand words
But I can’t hold a brush
I try to capture thoughts of you
But it all turns to mush
Paint like tears keeps running down
The canvas of my cheek
And no amount of artistry
Will say just what I seek
To say to you, relay to you
The love I feel. So when
The brush keeps shaking in my hand
Instead I use a pen

And then I discovered that Cyranny had transferred her regular Skype meeting here (which I regularly miss) from Sunday to Friday (Monday to Saturday from my perspective – you can understand an old man’s confusion) and I wondered if she was bringing it forwards or backwards. Here in the Southern Hemisphere the water rotates around the drain in the opposite direction to what it does for you guys in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s called Coriolis force. Aren’t I the smart one? Or am I just raving?

Anyway, I sought clarification from Cyranny, thus ….

I’ve skipped a Skypey Sunday
I’m always running late
But here, of course, it’s Monday
A completely different date
I hope you had a Funday
With every other friend
I’ll try to get there Oneday
But for now it’s love I send

But wait! Not late? You changed the date?
To several days before?
I can’t pretend to comprehend
My diary any more
Or is this straight. You’ve made us wait
Till Friday afternoon?
So I wasn’t absent after all
I was several days too soon

And that’s enough silliness for one day.

A Bit of Grief on a Sunday

Because, let’s face it, Sunday is a day for grieving – even if it’s only over your football team’s failure on Saturday.

Zeina introduced the idea of ‘grief knocking on the door’ and it occurred to me that most of us are actually quite welcoming hosts, when it comes to grief, as long as the welcome is not overstayed.

Here’s my reply, anyway …

***

Grief knocked on the door

I beckoned grief in

Grief’s never alone

It will find grief within

Grief casts the first stone

I am not without sin

In a battle of conscience

‘Tis grief that will win

But grief is my confidant

Grief knows its place

If I cannot hold you

Then it’s grief I’ll embrace

Grief stares from below

God cares from above

I would never know grief

Had I never known love

***

NYC Midnight Update

Nobody has asked me about results from my latest entry in this stupid competition. I appreciate the kindness. But a sense of honesty forces me to accurately report the facts. In a field of around 3500 contestants I placed equal last. If you are locked up in some Covid cave somewhere that there is no television reception and you are so utterly bored that you could read literally anything then you can do so here.

The thing about this particular flash fiction competition is that everyone gets a go at the second round even if qualifying for round 3 is near enough to a statistical impossibility. My 2nd round entry was half-hearted at best, but I did it as a sporting gesture and as a means of disguising my shame, embarrassment and bitterness. The fact that I was assigned ‘historical fiction’ only made matters worse.

As I mentioned somewhere else, my friend Meg is currently placed equal first in the same competition. I call her my friend but secretly, of course, I despise her. How dare she?

But here’s the interesting part. During WW1 German soldiers really did take possession of a French strategic stronghold virtually unopposed only to later blow themselves to smithereens heating coffee with flamethrower fuel. My story strays a little from the truth. Or perhaps it just fills in the gaps. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I can be confident of finishing the competition this year with my last placing firmly secured.

The Retaking of Fort Douaumont

Fort Douaumont was taken in February 1916 by little more than a dozen German soldiers and an angry Dachshund. It was no big deal, in other words. Unfortunately, in early May, when President Poincare came marching through our little encampment at the bottom of the hill and pointed up at it, mumbling something about ‘national pride’, everything changed. Suddenly it was a big deal.

Then a foot soldier of the Second Army, I had been stationed, for about ten weeks, attempting to look menacingly from the bottom of the hill up towards the fort, as the Germans stared back down at us from their position of clear superiority within its walls. After lunch each Wednesday we would formally point our guns in their direction and fire a few token shots. In response they would lob shells back over our heads and blow great holes in unoccupied bits of the city behind us, until we stopped. This arrangement worked very well. Nobody got hurt, we played cards and smoked cigarettes during the day and at night got drunk with local prostitutes who were ostentatiously grateful to have us there as a last line of defence. The truth, of course, was that we planned to withdraw rapidly through the city and continue west at any sign of German advancement.

And then the president started blubbering on about national pride.

Our military leaders were obliged to act. A few days after the President’s visit, I was walking past the officer’s tent and distinctly heard General Nivelle utter the words ‘suicide mission’, closely followed by ‘tonight’.

Returning hurriedly to our own humble canvas accommodation I found Couture sitting on his bunk, as usual, smoking something from his pipe.

“Drop that,” I ordered him, “we’ve got problems. These lunatics have decided that they want to get us killed, after all.” He looked at me quizzically, “A suicide mission,” I added, for impact.

“Sounds bad. For us?”

“Well, they won’t be wasting anyone valuable, that’s for sure, so I’m about to accidentally fall off the city bridge and break some bones, rendering myself unfit for duty. Coming?”

“Might as well.”

We were rushing back past the officer’s tent when Nivelle suddenly thrust himself out into the sun and called to us. “You men,” he asked, “where are you going?”

“Sick bay, Sir,” I said

“That’s in the other direction.”

“Going the long way, Sir. For exercise.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

I paused for a moment, trying to think of some diabolical, symptomless disease.

Couture intervened. “Broken legs, Sir,” he offered, and theatrically collapsed.

An awkward silence followed before Nivelle grinned. “Ha! Very funny. Give me your names. I admire men who can laugh when there is death in the breeze! A sure sign of courage!”

But we weren’t laughing.

“Durand, Sir,” I told him.

“Couture,” said Couture, sheepishly regaining his feet.

Nivelle placed his big arms over each of our shoulders as if we were his offspring. “Durand and Couture,” he repeated, “never heard of you. Good. I have a special mission.”

***

This was the plan.

We were to creep up the hill in the dead of night, surreptitiously trailing a detonating cord behind us, until we located the explosives storage room to the left of the fort’s main entrance. We would use scissors to cut the cord to the correct length, splice it and attach it to the detonation device before putting that in whichever box looked likely to create the biggest bang. The generals would initiate the explosion from the safety of their tent when we returned.

“What do you think of our chances, Sir?”

“About one in a million. Roughly. Your sacrifice will be noted, however, perhaps with a medal, and the next team will take over from wherever you fall.”

“A medal, eh?” said Couture, as we set out that night, “my mother will be thrilled.”

***

We made it to the top undetected, as it happened. On a Saturday night the Germans weren’t expecting anything, most of them probably drunk. They had committed a classic military error. Underestimating enemy stupidity.

When we entered the munitions room there was a dim light in one corner. There sat a German soldier, no more than seventeen years old, heating coffee over a small cooking fire. He blinked up at us, recognised our uniforms, and quickly extinguished the fire before vanishing into the darkness. “Stop him,” I hissed to Couture, “grab him. Stab him with the scissors!”

There was a scuffle.

“I’ve got him. I’ve got his leg!”

“That’s my leg, you idiot. Put down those scissors!”

We never saw the boy again. The detonator, cable, and scissors we dropped somewhere, before stumbling back out into the moonlight to race down the hill. In our mad panic we tripped within the first twenty metres and fell, rolling and sliding the rest of the way to safety. We heard drunken German laughter behind us and a few half-hearted gunshots.

Arriving back in camp we were convincingly puffed, bruised, bloodied, and battered.

“It was hell up there,” I explained to the assembled officers, “armed Germans everywhere. I managed to slaughter seven of them with the scissors and Couture beat two of them to death with his helmet, but eventually we had to retreat. It’s a miracle we survived!”

General Nivelle patted me admiringly on the back and was, no doubt, about to ask about the detonator setup, when, fortuitously, there was a deafening explosion from the top of the hill, and we were showered with dust.

***

Apparently, the young German’s cooking fire had not been totally extinguished. History records that this unattended fire, in turn, detonated grenades and flamethrower fuel, setting off a firestorm within the fort, killing 679 soldiers. In the ensuing confusion many of the injured – burned, blackened, and unrecognisable, were mistaken for an advancing invasion force and fired upon by their own comrades.

Thus, national pride was restored.

The vital contribution of myself and Couture appears nowhere, however, in official documentation.

****

And here’s an update … this one actually came first. 15 points out of 15. Go figure.

The first 5 people based on a cumulative score go to the next round.

I came 6th.

More Guidance for Giggly Girls

A friend has sniffed romance in the air. I can’t talk about it. She’s afraid that I might curse it and undermine her whole future. But I wrote this for her this morning …. by way of wishing her luck.

Actually, it all springs from her use of the word ‘nascency’. I had to look that word up to find out what it meant. I have a very poor vocabulary.

***

I am walking in the park

There’s someone walking by

No one very special

Just an average kind of guy

I wonder if he’s talkative

I wonder if he’s shy

I wonder what he’d wonder

If I approached and just said hi

 

I wouldn’t call him short

But I wouldn’t call him tall

I wouldn’t call him anything

I don’t know him at all

I wonder if he’d stop and help

Were I to trip and fall

He might ask me for my number

Then I’d wonder if he’d call

 

There’s such a lot to wonder

I wonder if I’d dare

To pledge eternal love for him

And wonder if he’d care

My goodness! He just looked at me!

He saw me stop and stare

I think there’s something happening

There’s something in the air

 

The whole thing’s in its nascency

We haven’t spoken yet

I don’t know what might come of this

Or just how far we’ll get

It’s time to cast a spell on him

It’s time to cast my net

There can be no complacency 

There will be no regret.

***