Randomness. .

They were on a budget, after living a life of no regrets.

They had no time to stop, as they were against the clock.

Every little thing helps, exploring the back of their own shelves.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, I work still, for the minimal pay.

As defiant as a giant but uncharacteristically reliant.

Ready or not, unable to stop, unwilling to flop, giving it all I got.

I know you don’t give a toss, but don’t be cross, someone’s got to be the boss.

It needs to be complete if you want to compete, use your head and feet to beat the sheep.

I don’t give a fuck if you don’t wish me luck, I’ve now become unstuck and on my way up.

You’re not listening, we are so close to finishing, so quit your bitching and continue fixing.

The tables have turned, after all I learned, I started to yearn and earn.

He gave her enormous tush a little push and she spectacularly landed in the bush.

Feeling all alone at home with no-one to listen to his moans and groans, not even on the phone.

Swearing before lunchtime is not a good sign and behind the design was a benign fine line and divide in their lives.

On the plus side, we are still alive, survived the plane’s nose dive.

Keep it easy Mr sleazy, no-one will be pleased by your tiny weeny little peeny.

Don’t go ballistic, do what is realistic, don’t look to fortune tellers like Meg the mystic.

Eat up and then put your feet up.

Always analyse the lies of these guys who behave like spies, they’ll moisturise your eyes awith their lies.

On any given day, I’m only one call away, no need to stay away, pick up the phone and say hey.

There was no reason for him to keep on going but he did, now off he is showing his new crib.

He was pushed out of a moving car, by the time he looked up they were already so far.

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It Happened. .

After the beep he pivoted to the right and slipped his Oyster Card in his jacket pocket. He tugged the zip up as he wrestled his way through the dozen or so people who insisted on standing in the middle, in the vicinity of the exit door, even though there were plenty of seats available to the rear of the bus. His descent to the back of the bus became slightly more of a challenge as the driver pulled out of the bus stop, reaching and exceeding the speed limit before he even reached the back of the bus. The driver’s reason for speeding? It was nearing the end of the driver’s shift and he needed the toilet. When he ascended up the three steps towards the back end of the bus, it was less crowded, less noisy and seats where available, like passing through the velvet chord in to the VIP section of a night club.

An old lady was already there in her seat and he took the seat diagonally opposite her, so they both had leg room as the seats adjacent to them remained vacant. His dropped in to the seat and slumped like a bag of flour as the driver took the sharp turn from the High Road on to The Drive. He let out an audible sigh as he contemplated life and what he perceived to be a pretty shitty existence. The damp and cockroach infested one bedroom flat. Not being able to afford a car and having to use public transport. The decreasing amount of work each week due to the zero hours contract. Not to mention all other psychological demons and emotional baggage he carted around in his medium hat sized head.

She looked at him and wished him a happy birthday. He was shocked “What? How did you know?” She smiled “Oh I know, I know that you’ve cut back on spending this month purely so you can order a takeaway this evening”. He was starting to freak out, “Look, who are you? Who put you up to this?” She put her hand on his “I’m Connie and your grandfather has been asking me for quite some time to check in on you.” He put his hands on his head, like he’d just missed a penalty in the dieing moments of the FA Cup final. “My grandfather died when I was five years old!” She nodded “…and that’s pretty much the time he started to ask me to check on you.”

He felt scared. Vulnerable. Violated. Was she is his head? A mind reader? Could it be? He felt that someone had to be playing a trick on him. But who? He had no family. No friends. He didn’t speak about anything other than work to his colleagues at the job. The silence was deafening. He ignored her. Internally he started to pray, stating how sorry he was for all the bad things he’d done in his life. Connie piped up again “Oh you’re not a bad person and this is our stop.” They both got up and walked to the centre of the now empty bus. They stepped off the bus and shuffled out on to the dark street together. The evening appeared even darker than usual as the light bulb in the bus shelter had fused. He remained scared and was unable to look in her direction. She said one last thing as he stepped away from the empty bus shelter. “You need to go and find your father.”

He looked at Connie with disbelief. He didn’t even know where to start. How to find his father? All he knew was that he was a sailor in the Merchant Navy and had travelled the world several times over. He shook his head, turned right and walked towards his street as Connie turned left. He took half a dozen steps and then did a 180 degree turn, with the thought that he couldn’t find his father without a lead or a clue of some sort. But as he turned, the bus just drove through a puddle and splashed him from his chest downwards. He jolted. He was drenched and Connie was nowhere to be seen. Vanished, as if she was never there.

Unfortunate. .

He now more than ever felt the pinch. First Brexit, then Covid-19, followed by Russia invading Ukraine, the conveyor belt of world enhancing once-in-a-lifetime events had driven the price up of even the most basic essential commodities to eye watering levels. He struggled financially. With a new addition to his family, an accidental lockdown baby born ten years after the birth of his previous child and his wife not in work, their expenses where higher than ever before.

They needed more money. A very rare opportunity came up at work. A job at the next grade up had become available as Ian was retiring after 42 years service. They always referred to the manager’s role as “dead man’s shoes”. This was a very rare chance. His opportunity, after 13 years, to make the step up. He filled in the job application, he spoke to other managers at the same grade for advice and used their feedback to strengthen his application.

A week passed after the deadline date. Then each day someone else, usually his junior, not as good at the job, would state they’ve been invited for an interview. People he didn’t know were even interviewed. Even one chap he didn’t even know worked at the firm. When he arrived home one Thursday evening, he looked at his phone to see a new email notification on the screen. It was from HR. He opened the message, skipped passed the standard templated opening gambits until he got to the bit that read ‘Unfortunately, on this occasion, we will not be proceeding with your application’.

His heart sank. He drove home below the speed limit with the radio switched off. The tension in the silence grew with each mile he drove, occasionally punctuated by the dull beeping of the indicator. Tears filled his eyes but didn’t roll down his cheeks. They just stayed there. His fixed tariff mortgage and electricity agreements were due to expire at the end of this month. Extra costs headed his way like a tsunami. Would he sink or could he swim? He genuinely didn’t know. He’d eaten in to what little savings they had when Furlough payments only covered 80% of his wages.

He couldn’t face going home. His wife had a spring in her step over the passed few weeks when she heard of the vacancy. She’d now probably go back to being tired with a headache all the time. He went to the big field behind his house. The was a line of trees at the back of the field approximately half a mile from where he parked his 2005 Ford Focus. He walked towards them and stopped adjacent to the largest of the eight trees. He put his hand on the trunk of this mighty oak tree. If was soft and crumbly on the outside but firm and hard under the top one centimetre layer. The tree was tall, its dozens of branches all moved in unison. The wind like the conductor of an orchestra instigated the movement. The branches swayed in the wind. Moved left and right and back again, they were like his children’s hands waving at him when he dropped them off to school. He felt a large bulging root of this tree underfoot, girthy like an anaconda. He sat down with his back against the trunk and put his right hand on the big root. He thought about this tree, all it had seen, how it had withstood the test of time, was here before the houses were built. It had remained through all the storms and the hurricane in the 80s. It’s roots and foundation kept it there. Upright like Guardsman outside Buckingham Palace. A reminder to him to remember the teachings from his ancestors that had been passed on to him via his parents that he now passed on to his kids. He knew he had to do the only thing he knew how to do to all the people in the world, kill them! Kill them all, with kindness.

The interviews did not go well for the six candidates being interviewed for Ian’s job. All failed to meet the requirements. But as Ian was retiring someone had to pick up his duties. The man was selected to temporary do the role, with an uplift in pay until the next round of recruitment. He successfully interviewed the next time and was offered the job. He killed them all. He didn’t sink. He swam.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose. But in life you must take the rough with the smooth.

HOT COFFEE !!!

Norman was fed up of his neighbour boasting about how good his life was and making comments that Norman felt belittled him. Norman was aware that Stephen had a faster car, lavish long-haul holidays, earned more money, was physically much fitter and blessed with the genetics of a supermodel. But it didn’t stop sly old Norman from wanting to get one over on his neighbour.

On one wet rainy day, he waited for his good neighbour to leave home. He left precisely three minutes after him; he’d tried this before and realised that two minutes was not enough time for Stephen to be where he wanted him and four minutes was not enough time for Norman to arrive at the spot. Norman’s objective was to catch up with Stephen just before the junction at the end of their street. He’d then drive through the water that had built up by the dropped curb outside Colin the Cabby’s house and splash Stephen.

He changed from second to third gear. Stephen was in his sights. It looked like the balls were about to line up. But as he got closer Stephen started to jog to get out of the way of Colin’s house, who was pulling back in to his driveway after the night shift. Norman sped up, the dark blue font on the digital speedometer of his Citroën C3 showing 36 miles-per-hour. He went through the puddle and splashed the individual adjacent to his car and the puddle. The splash created a wall of water so tall, that it looked like a waterfall in reverse, and he was unable to see the look on Stephen, the flash git’s, face!

Unfortunately for Norman, who had been so poised on getting to the puddle, he failed to notice that Stephen had already run past it. Norman had actually ended up splashing a lady in a smart business suit who had worn a smart blouse, carried a black leather satchel with a gold buckle hung off of her shoulder, a raised umbrella in one hand and a plastic coffee cup with the branding off the new swanky café from the row of gentrified shoos. Amy had her hair and make-up done especially by her best friend, a beautician who lived next door, who had been using Amy’s face and head as her canvas since 5AM. Amy was due to deliver a pitch to the partners where she was temping with the hope of securing a not so lucrative full-time job.

Norman splashed Amy. “SHIT!” He shouted as he rapidly turned the corner, only to join the back of a long queue of vehicles behind a broken down dustbin lorry. None of the cars ahead of him were able to navigate around the lorry due to the oncoming trafiic, which kept coming like a clown’s handkerchief and bringing an ever strengthening waft of warm rubbish with each passing car. He saw Amy in his passenger side wing mirror striding towards his vehicle with purpose, dragging her inside out imbrella behind her. Her shoulder length red hair was stuck to her face from the water splash. She didn’t look amused. He started to pray, “Please God, make the traffic move!” 

The traffic started to move and he caught up with his intended target Stephen, who mouthed something to him. He didn’t quite hear him. Stephen repeated himself. He still didn’t hear him, so rolled down his window, Stephen said again “Wet enough for you there neighbour?!” Just as Stephen finished his sentence, with his trademark beaming grin and double thumbs up, angry Amy arrived and threw her cup of coffee in to the car. Norman let out a cross between a cry and a shriek. He looked up to see an empty coffee cup wedged inbetween his gear stick and cigarette lighter. It said ‘HOT COFFEE’ in big black bold letters against a very sustainable light brown recyclable cup. Amy stomped off. Stephen laughed. In fact all the people who were walking on the street towards the train station and even the people in the car behind Norman’s also laughed.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you must take the rough with the smoothe…

ROBOSST

She moved at a glacial pace, managed to make it through the closing train doors just as the last grain of sand fell from the top to the bottom half of the hourglass. Each step up the platform’s staircase felt like an individual mountain climb, but instead of being rewarded with a breathtaking view atop of an area of outstanding natural beauty, she was left breathless by the chemical stink from the processing plant a stones throw from the turnstiles. A queue of faster impatient walkers grew behind her, the equivalent of Audi or BMW drivers tailgating an inexperienced driver on a narrow country lane.

She was exhausted, crossing-the-finishing-line-of-the-London-marathon-exhausted, by the time she finally made it in to the office, she felt how she’d usually felt when she arrived home on a Friday night after a week of work, despite it being Monday morning. But since Michael left her and she commenced with evening work at the local Co-op, thoughts of money and physical fatigue followed her around like body odour.

Chad darted in to the room shouted, exclaimed and waved in all directions, like water sprayed from a burst pipe. He made a particular point of calling Sandra out and listed his demands, “OK and you Sandra, get my slides up on the big conference room TV, also I got a few edits you need to make first, I also need the minutes from yesterday’s meeting typed up double-spaced and 12 copies printed out for the meeting, water the plants, make sure the visitor’s toilet is clean and collect the coffee and biscuits for the meeting.” Sandra looked up from the Post-It note she’d scribbled the tasks down on, nodded and let out in inaudible “OK.”
“Oh cheer up love, it might never happen!” He said as he looked around the room assuming the rest of the staff scattered around the open-plan office shared his sentiment and would validate his comment. They all remained silent, looked busy and didn’t make eye contact just in case he started on them next.

But like the sizzling sparkle snaking its way towards the gunpowder I’m the firework, she exploded! “Oh and I expect you want all this done within the five minutes?!” His smile beamed “Yeah, I do.”
She shook her head, “It’s not possible,  I don’t have enough time to complete all this before the meeting. Can you edit the slides yourself or ask someone else to help me?”

He laughed. A little chuckle that ascended in to a mighty exaggerated roar. “I don’t fucking think so. Sandra, you’re lazy and you need to work harder, now fucking get on with it you lazy slag!”

With his final retort there is a gasp from across the room. Not because of the language Chad used, the staff were regular viewers of the ‘Chad Kelly Show’ and his interesting use of the english language. The gasps were for the away spectators who had been treated to this unplanned episode of the the show. The President, the Chairman, the Chief Executive, several potential investors and the Head of Human Resources heard it all.

The Chairman kept the visitors moving like items on a supermarket checkout conveyor belt, but Mrs Samantha Speller stayed in the room and slowly walked towards Chad’s office “Chad, a word please”  She said as she sat down on his chair.

The remaining 25 members of staff rallied around Sandra, creating a 360 degree human barrier  , shielding her from everything, all offering words of support.
“Are you ok?”
“Sit down.”
“Let me get you some tea.”
“Chad’s a bully”
“He used to do this to me.”
“It’s why I put in a complaint. “
The team worked together to get everything ready for the big meeting.

Later on that day HR Samantha called in on Sandra and asked her to make a formal complaint. “Look we all know Chad is a cancer in this office, but for me to cut him out, I need just one more formal complaint.” Before even filing the complaint Sandra started to feel anxious and guilty. “I don’t want to be the reason someone loses their job.”  Sandra felt tired of life. Samantha shook her head “Listen, his own actions lost him the job.” Sandra knew how it felt to be one income down and how she now worked every hour of her waking day to make ends meet. Samantha’s glare pierced right through her like a staple through paper. Reluctantly Sandra wrote a letter of complaint while Samantha watched, ensuring that the deed was done.

Sandra went to the visitors toilet and cried until she could cry no more. Concurrently, Chad was escorted from the building by the refrigerator-sized security guard. Expletives flew like ballistic missiles aimed at all his co-workers, as he put on his Calvin Klein jacket “You’re all stuck-up cunts!” and slung his beige Gucci messenger bag across his body “You losers are just jealous of me!” His final words were “Oh and the reason your fella left you Sandra is because you got a face that looks like scrabbled egg!” He left the building and laughed harder than anyone had ever seen.

From the moment the star of the ‘Chad Kelly Show’ exited the building there was an immediate change in the atmosphere. Decompression. Or like the spraying of air freshener, except instead of adding a nice smell to the air a Chad Kelly was taken out of it!

Sandra and her colleagues later found out that Chad and HR Samantha were actually an item. The following week he proposed with a rock the size of Gibraltar. He bought the ring, a new car and put a deposit on a house with the extremely large pay-off he received after negotiations with his former employer’s Head of HR.

Sometimes in life you win
At other times you lose
But even in the event of injustice
Take the rough with the smooth

Sit Down Coffee…

She decided to switch things up and go to the supermarket after work on a Wednesday evening, instead of her usual time on either a Friday evening or Saturday morning. Other than the office where she worked and her big empty house, the supermarket was the only other place she ventured out to. Sainburys, the supermarket, was usually very quiet on Wednesday evening with a reduced footfall of customers but filly stocked shelves. She glanced at her watch just as she moved her debit card away from the face of the contactless card reader and back into her Gucci purse. She’d been to work, finished work, did her weekly food shop and it was still only 6.30pm. Rather than head directly home she stepped into the café situated inside the supermarkets. Perhaps this was her chance, to be spontaneous, live a little by getting off her planned schedule and maybe even instigate a conversation with someone new. Just one conversation that may potentially turn in to a new friendship or even romance.

Since she turned 40 Helen had felt very lonely. She thrived in her professional life as Director of Finance for a medium sized accounting firm and had every material possession a girl could ever want or need. She had a mortgage-free four-bedroom house, a BMW coupe and VW Campervan, had several flats on rent in the vicinity of the local university and had more money in her bank account than she knew what to do with. Her bank balance read like a phone number! She was fit, healthy and an attractive woman. In her formative years she wasn’t very popular with the opposite sex mainly due to her thick glasses, bent nose and crooked teeth; she had since rectified this with laser eye surgery, a nose job and braces. However, the one aspect of her life where she felt she underachieved was in the personal relationship department. She had no family, born to an alcoholic mother who died when she was in her teens and unable to confirm who her father was. She also had no friends. Her boyfriend from college, Mikey, started going out with her best friend, Tilly, while she was away at university.

She joined the queue in the café. There was an elderly couple at the front of the queue ordering food, taking their time to peruse the menu while everyone waited. Behind the elderly couple and in front of her was a smartly dressed man in a three-piece suit, highly polished shoes and a gold and silver watch, which looked very classy and expensive. He had a well-defined jaw line, as if chiselled by a mason, and light stubble. She thought he looked about her age and he didn’t have a ring on his finger. Perhaps he was her new friend. She wanted to say something but was afraid he may ignore her. She bit the bullet. “Core, I wish people would make up their mind about what to order before joining the queue eh?” He looked at her, “You what?” he said. “Um, you know that old couple in front of you?” she confirmed. “Look love, I’m not sure what your problem is, or if you’ve taken your medication today, but people like you should not be talking to me!” By this time the elderly couple had taken their receipt from the cashier who now looked at three-piece-suit man for his order. She’d tried, failed, crashed and burned. Although the cashier didn’t hear what had happened the girl who made the hot drinks and got pastries from behind the display screen saw and heard it all. She acted like she was not telling the cashier what had happened, but he then gave Helen a very quick glance while hot drinks girl whispered in his ear.

Three-piece-suit man strode right past her with his hot drink and didn’t even glance in her direction. The cashier called her forward. “Hiya, erm, how can I help you Madam?” She very gingerly opened her mouth, struggling to hold back the tears and get her words out. “Just a small mocha to have in please.” Suddenly, another man who had been behind her in the queue leaned in “Yeah, make that two. but make mine to take out.” He looked over at Helen and said “Don’t worry love, this ones on me”. Helen was taken aback by this very kind and generous gesture from this stranger.

The girl behind the counter gave them both their drinks. Helen and the man, in his paint splattered overalls, picked up their drinks. “Look, this is very kind of you, but I can get my own drink” said Helen. “Don’t worry about it love, you can get the next one!” said the tradesman while flashing a cheeky grin. She smiled. “Look love, I gotto run now, but how about a sit-down coffee next week eh?” Her smile grew “Absolutely, my treat!” he gave her a wink “Great see you here same time next week” and strode out of the café.

She went to the café everyday at 6.30pm for three months and never saw the tradesman again!

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

The Priest…

There once was a young impressionable boy, who plodded through life with very little guidance or purpose. Then on one fine summers day he attended a function at the local temple and was asked by one of the volunteers to help sweep the grounds. The little boy enjoyed this and was delighted when the other volunteers told him to come back and help again, how they could use an extra pair of hands as so few young people from the PlayStation-generation volunteered in their free time. The boy’s parents were also pleased, delighted to get ride of him for a few hours each week as they felt he always got in their way. The weekly Saturday shift at the temple turned in to a weekend shift, which consisted of a full days work on both Saturday and Sunday, and with an occasional overnight stay. Eventually the boy attended the temple daily after school as well as extended hours over the weekend. The more he volunteered the better he felt. He made new friends and mentors and gained a lot of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. His focused attitude and quiet demeanour took him all the way to the top where he was regularly in the presence of the Head Priest, the CEO, the Managing Director, the Chairman, the Grandmaster etc. The Priest treated him like the son he never had; priests were supposed to remain celibate, not marry or ever engage in any sexual activities. Priests were supposed to keep no attachment with anything or anyone in this world. The boy himself felt as though the priest was like a third parent to him and gave him the attention he didn’t know he missed from his own parents and teachers.    

As the boy become older and morphed from boy and transformed into a very capable young man, he made the transition from a passive servant to more vocal ambassador for the temple and told people of the good work the priest and his entourage did. However, he’d started to encounter people from both inside and outside of the temple, including some of his own contacts and acquaintances, who gossiped saying the priest was both greedy and a womaniser, who fleeced people of their hard-earned money and sexually assaulted woman who came to his temple for help, support and guidance. As the boy had no evidence or personal experience of the priest’s alleged wrongdoing, he continued to serve with distinction and smoothed things over with the naysayers.

Then one day a very close friend of his, almost like a brother from another mother, like him someone from the inside, claimed the priest had always told him to donate 25% of his earnings to the temple despite his troubled financial situation, and he had also sexually assaulted his wife. He had sexually assaulted his friend’s wife, a mother of two children, on at least a dozen occasions over the course of a few years. The lady was scared to say anything, she feared that as her husband was such a devout follower of the priest, he would not believe her side of the story. But the man was already having his doubts about the priest who often insulted him in front of the congregation while he took his money and often asked him to leave the room so he could talk privately to his wife – this was when the priest would grope the lady and attempt to have his way with her.

The young boy-turned-man became confused. At first, he didn’t believe it. But the more he thought about it and the more he recollected the stories that he had heard about the priest, he started to convince himself that it was indeed possible. He then thought it was highly likely. He went from disappointment, to upset, to anger and eventually heartbreak.

In his state of confusion, the now young man withdraw himself from duties at the temple. Approximately three months after his hiatus, he returned to the temple to attend the wedding of a family member, held at the temple; the young man’s family had leaned into the temple after his involvement. When the ceremony was over the young man tried to make his exit through the back gate, which the general congregation did not use. As he approached the gate the priest walked through it from the other end and was now face-to-face with the young man. “Tell me my son, is there a reason you do not come to temple anymore?” said the priest. Unable to hold in his feelings and stay silent anymore, like when a tree is hit with a stick and leaves fall from it, the priest’s question was a metaphorical whack and the young man poured his heart out. He told him what he had heard. The priest tried to manipulate him “Do you really think that I could do such a thing?” The young man was brave, he stood his ground and said, “You are a man and I believe that you can!”

They stood and looked at each other for a few moments, sorrow and sadness filled both their faces. A solitary tear rolled down the young man’s left cheek. The good relationship that they had always had was now over. The young man said, “I can’t berate you as you do so much good for so many people, but I also can’t associate with you anymore because I do not agree with your actions.” They agreed to disagree and the young man was on his way. He walked a few metres away from the gate and then turned around to take one last look at the temple. The priest stood there at the gate and looked back at him.

After a few months the priest realised that the boy really had walked away from the temple and didn’t speak ill of the priest, who was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. The priest was indeed guilty, but after his favourite servant walk away from him he changed his ways and never put a foot wrong ever again. However, as insurance the priest also spent the next 10 years until his death informing all who asked after the young man that he was was mentally unwell and made untrue accusations against the temple, in an attempt to save his own reputation. The young man walked away heartbroken and never recovered from the disappointment of being let down by the priest.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Out of his league…

Granville Burne looked at the sharp knife in his hands and felt immense happiness. The feel of the cold hard steel against his skin was arousing for a man of his calibre.

He walked over to the open garage door and reflected on his working class surroundings. He had always hated his dull home town of Radford with its grim and uninspiring industrial estates. It was a place that encouraged people to find their own vices to cope with such a miserable existence.

Then he saw something down the street in the distance, or rather someone. Like clockwork, it was the silouette of the most beautiful lady in Radford, Ms April Hoares. April was the most eligible and desired girl in the town. A natural curvy redhead with an infectious laugh.

Granville’s heart skipped a beat, as it always did when he saw April. He glanced at his own reflection in the mirror. He felt he was not good enough to be with a girl like her. Although he was a happy and positive man, his inflated beer belly, fat Arms and small bald head took away from his personality as people tend to see anothers looks before getting to know them personally. His friends saw him as a squidgy man but also a solid workhorse with a heart like a steam engine. His friends often ribbed him for his softer side, like the time he helped a blind old lady cross the road.

But not even the happy person who had once helped a blind old lady cross the road, was prepared for what April had in store today.

The Rain hammered down like an artillery barrage and sounded like a million mice squeaking. Today, Granville was mad.

As Granville stepped outside his garage and April came closer, he could see that wonderful glint in her eye. He called her name and walked over to her.

“I am here because I want your Attention” April looked confused and gave Granville a fake coy smile. He flashed his knife a her and pushed her in to his property and in to the garage. She slammed her fist against Granville’s chest, with the force of a thousand ants. “I frigging hate you, Granville Burne!”

Granville looked back, even more angry, his veins visible on his forehead but still brandishing the big knife. “April, I do not love you anymore,” he replied.

They looked at each other with sadness in their eyes, both for different reasons, but also like two colourful estranged siblings crying at their parent’s funeral, which had classical music playing in the background and two unhappy uncles who ignored consolitary words from other funeral guests.

April eventually took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the attention you want from me” she stated in a pitying tone. She didn’t like him, let alone love him! But she knew she was now physically in danger. April was scared and felt that possibly the rumours she heard about Granville were true.

Granville felt there was only one thing he could do to end all this. If he couldn’t have April, then no-one should have her. He could actually hear April’s body shatter into a million pieces. Then he closed the garage door and put his knife to work.

Not even a dozen pints of beer would calm Granville’s nerves that night.

SUCCESS. .

Starting to feel lonely at the top

The success I’m unable to stop

Despite haters praying that I flop

But I always give it everything I got

Evade those feeling I should be stopped

By pushing through the road blocks

Highlighting the way for my squad

Physical Education…

There once was a chubby medium-sized boy who’s parents hailed from a foreign land. On one particularly cold wet winter morning, he walked towards school at a snails pace in anticipation and fear of period one, his least favourite lesson…Physical Education aka PE!

The whole year did PE together and the Head of the Physical Education department announced in assembly earlier in the week that it was now rugby season for the boys and to ensure they brought along all the correct equipment. The boy didn’t want to play rugby. He was one of the smaller boys in his year group, fat, obese, unfit, weak and was constantly pushed, pulled and knocked over in to and through the mud. Worse than the rugby for the boy was the use of the communal showers after the game with all the bigger boys who’d be showing off their big dicks, pubic hair and developed bodies.

Just before he arrived he decided too slip in to the recreation ground next to school, where he saw the ground already saturated with a high water table, and pulled out a notepad and pen. He did something he knew was wrong  but felt was his only way to get out of PE and away from the taunting of all the other boys in the showers. He decided to write a note to the PE teacher, forging the signature of his mother, to get himself out of playing rugby. His reason for not participating was that he had not been feeling very well.

He sat in assembly unable to concentrate on what the Headmaster was saying, as all he could think about was PE, handing the note the teacher and hoping the 6’5” ex-Army Warrant Officer Mr Manton would accept the forged note and excuse him from rugby.

The bell rang and he moved at a glacial pace, allowed all the other boys to get ahead of him in to the changing room. He by-passed his usual corner spot with all the other fat kids and losers and continued his slow ascent to Mr Manton’s office. He avoided making eye contact with any of the other, more lean and athletic, boys who got changed opposite Manton’s office. He handed in the note, Manton took it, slammed it down on his desk and without even looking at the boy gestured for him to join the line with all the other boys who were also not doing PE, while he aggressively punched buttons on a telephone with his jumbo sausage sized fingers.

After several minutes he emerged from his office, wearing combat-95 patterned Army combat trousers and a navy blue sweatshirt emblazed with the school logo. “SILENCE YOU FUCKING GOBSHITES!” he shouted as the charisma-filled schoolboys stopped talking and turned to face Manton. It was so silent, the boy could hear himself breath and his stomach rumble. Manton went along the line and asked each boy individually why they were not doing PE while he scribbled notes on his clipboard. “And what’s your fucking problem?” Each excuse the same as the last, “I’m a Muslim Sir, it’s Ramadan, I’m fasting”. Manton stopped halfway down the line before he even got to the medium-sized lazy PE dodger.

Manton took a step back, put his clipboard down, looked at the dozen or so boys and stared at them all. “Ok, listen in, I’ve just got off the phone from a friend of mine, Mr Green, who is the Head of Physical Education at Loxford High School in East London…he said 85% of his students are Muslim, they are also fasting and are all doing PE today”. There were audible gasps from all corners off the room. “And you all look fine to me!” He turned around and dropped the lost property box infront of the line up of boys and said “You better find some kit and be ready to go within the next five minutes!” The changing room erupted with laughter as Mr Manton about-turned and walked off. He turned again just as he got to his office door, pointed at the line up of boys with his clipboard and shouted “OH AND I’LL BE CALLING ALL OF YOUR PARENTS TO EXPLAINED WHAT HAS HAPPENED TODAY!” He turned in to his office “Ramadan my fucking arse!”

The medium-sized boy wanted to plead with the teacher to not to call his mother, he knew he’d be in big trouble and lose his privelidges, pocket money, double puddings after dinner and computer game time. He was often referred to as ‘lazy’ in his last school report and this was more evidence of his laziness. He was warned by both parents that if he didn’t start making changes then they would make them for him! Unfortunately, he never got a moment alone with the teacher during the lesson or after as he hid in the toilet cubicle while the majority of the year group passed through the showers. He stressed about Manton’s phone call to his mother all day, which distracted him from concentrating in each and every lesson.

The bell rang at the end of the day’s final lesson and for the end of the school day but instead of moving at the speed of a thousand gazelles to get home and watch Blue Peter, he moved at the slowest he had moved all day to embark on the short journey home and to receive whatever punishment awaited him. As he exited the building Mr Manton was about to go in and stopped the boy. “Eh big lad, you did really well in rugby today, good lad, oh and I didn’t get a chance to call your mother, but if she has an issue with you doing PE today, you tell her to call my office.”

Instantly, it was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He felt taller and that the spring in his step had returned. He’d got away with it but sadly not the showers, which despite killing time in the toilet cubicle he still had to endure with some the other more developed, but no so obnoxious, boys and then put on his clothes while he was wet as he didn’t have a towel!

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

 

Lost Vegas

At the tender age of 29, Dave felt that life was starting to pass him by. As a child he vowed to always lead a full life packed full of fun and adventure. He didn’t want to have the same regrets felt by his parents, the same regrets of getting caught in the rat race of working, commuting and recovering enough to be fresh for work again. Yet, here he was a hospital accountant working ever longer and longer hours for less and less money. At least the WhatsApp group with his school friends allowed him to keep in touch with his peers. Hearing of their adventures was still better than the shallow existence his parents lived when they were alive.

Then one day in July, his best friend John announced he was going to get married in the autumn. Dave felt this was his moment, to seize the day, to reconnect with his friends and be a part of the adventure for once. Dave wanted to arrange the stag do for John. Dave had always wanted to go to Las Vegas and knew that John hadn’t been and also always wanted to go. This was it, a chance to make some epic memories and be back in with the crew.

Dave went and did all the research, went to three different travel agents and conducted his own research online. It was expensive during the summer holiday season but he wanted to pay for his friend as well as himself. He sold some of his personal belongings to raise funds, rare first edition hardbacks. It was still not enough. So he sold more stuff, boxed action figures from his youth that his parents did not let him play with because they didn’t want him damaging the figures. They were all sold via eBay auctions where they didn’t make as much as they could have, but enough to fund his friend’s stag do. He had the money!

Dave called John to arrange to take him out to dinner, so he could tell him that they would be going to Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States of America, and also to confirm who else he wanted to invite. Who knows? Maybe this would make John want to make him the best man! However, John said he wasn’t sure if he was free on that date, “Yeah, let me check my diary and call you back mate”. He didn’t call back, he texted back, after being prompted by Dave a few days later, to say he was unable to do that weekend as the boys were taking him to Las Vegas for his stag. “Maybe meet up the following week yeah?”

It was at this precise moment that Dave realised that he and the boys weren’t as tight as he thought and that he had done this to him all his life. John was a good friend, but not the best. Dave now felt like a substitute friend, called upon only if a member of the first team was unavailable. It changed his whole outlook on life. Made him question his self-worth and all his relationships. His Las Vegas memory making plans were ruined. However, he now had money in his pocket.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but you must always take the rough with the smooth.

 

Shit Poem

There was a man on the train
Who claimed to have lost his brain
Said it was his ex-wife’s fault
She was the one to blame

Everyone who walked by
Heard his talked lies
While he munched on his burger
Onion rings, drink and fries

As the train journey went on
He became a lot less strong
Switching between emotions
No-one home but the light on

By the end he was crying
Not even trying to hide it
Feelings so strong
He was unable to fight it

He should take the rough with the smooth
Sometimes you win sometimes you lose
But above all else
He should stay off the booze

Benched…

The park bench at the top of the hill became a second home for the lonely man after her retired from his job at the sweet factory. He had worked there for 40 years. “I’d have gotten less for murder” he’d often say.

The majority of his friends had died or moved away to be closer to their families. The sweet factory shut down a month after he retired. The staff took their miniscule redundancy pay and opted to move to locations with better prospects – anywhere but there!

The job was supposed to be a gap filler while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life after he completed two years of National Service with the Royal Armoured Corps. But then he met Beryl, the girl who had it all, the good looks of a film star, brains of a scientist, charm of a politician and the sense of humour of a comedian.

He loved Beryl more than life itself. He did everything for her. He stayed in the shithole of a town within which they lived. He did mind numbing work as a fudge packer at the sweet factory. Beryl loved it in the town. She could go anywhere and have anything. But instead she stayed there with him.

It was only at her funeral that he had unfortunate displeasure and spoke to the man that everyone referred to as the Jacket. The Jacket always worse a long black overcoat with a big collar and big pockets, which often homed this former Army boxing champions enormous hands. The Jacket looked genuinely distraught at Beryl’s funeral.

“You know she wasn’t just my employee and friend? She was also my lover!”

The meeting was interrupted by the funeral director who wanted to confirm that everything was satisfactory. He ended the conversation abruptly and looked around the room. The Jacket had gone!

Day after day he sat on the bench contemplating what the Jacket had said. He thought of all the times Beryl had made excuses to be out of the house, usually working late at the laundry where she washed bedsheets from all hospitals in the county. He allowed it and was immensely grateful because they needed the money, the sweet factory didn’t pay well!

He’d worked out that it was not a recent fling but many decades of romance between Beryl and her Jacket. He even got a DNA test from clippings of his son’s hair, who still came over every second Thursday for his fortnightly trim. The test confirmed it wasn’t his son.

When the son found out that the Jacket was potentially his father, he went and made contact, like an extra terrestrial making contact with the human race. He never spoke to his old man, the old father, ever again.

Now each day the lonely man sits on the bench, starting down the barrel of his old service revolver, wondering if today will be the day that he has the courage to pull the trigger. He missed Beryl. She’d have told him what to do.

Hot Seat

I absolutely hate using public toilets. Especially when your banks are about to burst, and you rush in to the toilet at the service station, drop your pants like a lead weight, and plonk yourself on the seat only to realise that it is still warm from the previous s#!tter!

Tea

Sharing an office with five other women whose ages range from 28-34, I often excuse myself to get away from the non-stop chatter about who bought what, went where, who doesn’t like who, who didn’t do what, and all the underlying tension between this elite group of females.

These females are elite because at work, they are the best at what they do. But as with all teams based in offices, there are subtle differences that are often left unspoken of. These differences are left to simmer like molten lava in the magma chamber of a volcano, and show obvious tensions to the onlookers.

A tension is so evident and strong that it could be carved in to an ice sculpture. My only salvation is a few minutes out of this melting pot of an office, to make myself a cup of tea. These few minutes of solitude and silence are like a week in the Caribbean! It’s often said that silence is golden, but when these girls shut up, the silence is certified triple-platinum!

I pick up my black mug with the white skull and cross bones on and never fail to read the text underneath, ‘Captain Kallah.’ If only I really was a pirate, like Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl, I’d swash buckle my way on to a ship, and sail away from all the office politics.

A sink, fridge and kettle are located immediately outside the office door, in the narrowest corridor in the world. The kind of corridor that you have to turn sideways to walk along, as both elbows rub against the walls if stood at a right angle. I wash my cup at the end of each day, so it’s usually clean when I need my first break away from the noise at around 9.15am – 15 minutes after getting in. By my second, fourth or sixth visit to the tea point the cup only receives a quick rinse.

The transparent Morphy-Richards kettle turns red while the water inside it is boiling, and blue when the water has been boiled. The pyramid shaped tea-bag, by PG Tips, is dropped in to the cup and lays there in a heap, looking up at me like a child stuck down a well. The boiling water from the kettle is poured over the pyramid shaped bag, which spins like a record as the water penetrates it, forcing it to rise like mercury in a thermometer.

I press the tea bag against the side of the cup, the same way a young male may push up against a female against a wall in a night club. The water which at first was so clean, clear and pure when falling from the nozzle of the kettle, turns from light to dark brown in colour. The warm liquid may look a little like chocolate but isn’t, but I slightly recreate that taste by adding several spoonfuls of sugar.

Lastly I add a splash of milk. Some, depending on class or personal preference add their milk to the cup before the water. But I always add the milk afterwards. I like the strength of my tea to be somewhere in between weak and strong, but not one exclusively. I find that to get it right is done by adding enough milk to make the colour of the tea match the complexion of my skin.

Once this ritual is complete, I walk with my mug back in to the office, where I will be a little more focussed and able to work, until it all becomes too much and have to start the process again.

The Crow

Every morning a crow came and sat on the fence by my window. One day I decided to chase it away as I didn’t like it being in my garden. I banged hard on the window, but unlike the pigeons it stayed there. I opened the door, but unlike the squirrel it didn’t turn and scarper. I got a little closer to the crow and clapped loudly twice, but unlike the foxes it didn’t run away.

I lunged forward and clapped a second time, the crow still didn’t move, but this time it turned its head until his eyes were level with mine. The crow then laughed, a hearty laugh like an old man. I assumed I must’ve either been drunk or high, especially as the crow continued to speak. He said “Don’t worry, I won’t bite!”

At only a metre away from the crow, I couldn’t help but notice how dark this bird was. It was as if it was dyed, or was coloured in with permanent black ink. Even its eye balls and nails were this dark charcoal black colour. It was all so surreal and everything happened so fast. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked its name and where it had come from. The crow told me his name was Granville Burne, and that he came from Hawaii. He used to sell drugs and cheated on his wife with tourists and female neighbours. When he died he was reincarnated as a crow. He then observed his wife who regularly got laid by both their neighbours, including the husband of one woman he used to get off with. Seeing this he felt low, and realised that his actions in life were unjust and, that he’d been a rotten person when he was alive. Now as a crow he decided to fly around the world, city to city, town to town to advise others on their existence. Give them a warning, a heads up of things in their life.

By this time the crow had pivoted and turned his whole body towards mine. I asked him to tell me something about my life. The crow said he’d tell me three life changing things. Still a little sceptical about this whole talking crow thing, I laughed when the crow told me that if I didn’t change my ways, my wife would leave me tomorrow morning, I’d lose my job in the afternoon and I’d be paralysed by the evening. I didn’t know how to react and laughed some more, before being interrupted by the rain. It was if someone had turned a shower on me. The rain was thick and heavy. I looked up at the sky, which now seemed to be as dark as the crow, and then I woke up.

I was moist all over, from rain or sweat? I didn’t know. I heard raindrops hitting the roof top. The bed was empty and cold. I got up and walked over to the window. A crow flew away from my window sill as I lifted up the curtain. The house felt even colder now that I had gotten out of bed. I went downstairs and saw a post-it note on the fridge. The note read,

‘Dear John, things really haven’t been working out between us recently. You haven’t been giving me what I need. I was seeing another man, who was giving me what I need, but it’s all become a bit too much. I’m going away for a while. I will be in touch soon to discuss things. Take care, Samantha.’

And of course you know the rest, I drove around looking for her, as a result got late for work. I got to work three hours late, and being on my final warning my boss told me that this was the last straw, to empty my locker and leave. His last words were that your P45 will be in the post! Having lost my woman and job all in the same day, I very heavily drowned my sorrows. After half a dozen hours spent in various public houses, off licences and parks, I decided to drive home. I couldn’t control my car and drove in to a skip, which is how I become paralysed, admitted to hospital, and booked in to this counselling session!

Speed

I had no idea how I was going to get myself out of this one. I was aware of the national speed limit being 70mph. I was also aware that my speed was somewhere in excess of 106mph. I thought that maybe they would be amazed at how a clapped out 18 year old Ford Escort could build up to that speed, and let me off. They were gaining on me. I took my foot of the gas completely, until the speedometer settled at 65mph. I moved over to the middle lane. My perspiration increased and started to steam up the windows. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the sirens weren’t on, but they were still rapidly advancing behind me.

In one sudden movement they moved in to the over taking lane and passed me. The luminous ‘Motorway Maintenance’ signs now clearly visible as they whizzed by.

Kandy

The first day they met, his whole life changed. He initially thought it would be perfect, like ‘a marriage made in heaven.’ But before too long he realised that she wasn’t going to be as easy going as his last. She took a step back each time he got close to her, and winced each time he touched her. She even physically attacked him leaving the inside of his wrists all slashed and cut, like a depressed teenager hurt in love.

If was then that he decided that Kandy wasn’t for him, and took her back to the pet shop.

Time to Forget

Time to forget I thought to myself, as I strolled around the park in a zombie like daze one cold Saturday morning in January. It was time to forget about all the good times we had shared together. They were gone, and with Sharon’s wedding tomorrow they were highly unlikely to ever return. It had been 4 months, 3 weeks and 6 days since we last saw each other. Having been with Sharon for 3 years it was hard to forget her, it was extremely difficult to let her go without a fight. But I couldn’t continue to fight for her.

The nature of the relationship was clear to me when it first began. It was a tangent relationship for her, a part-time thing, I was her ‘pay as you go fella’, if you like. Me, I was single then and I suppose I am single now. As far as I was concerned, working my job and fitting in with Sharon’s plan was how my life was set up, and I found that to be both manageable and satisfying.

I first met Sharon at an away day at the Birmingham Cheese Convention, with my work colleagues 3 years ago. While Colin was in the toilet, she openly admitted to me that she had been with him for a year, but didn’t know how long they were going to last. They didn’t look like a solid couple. Me and Sharon were definitely a better match. She had mentioned leaving him for me on several occasions. Foolishly I assumed that eventually that day would come. It hasn’t. Instead the day that came was Colin and Sharon’s wedding day.

Should I call Sharon and try and persuade her to be with me? Or should I call Colin and tell him what’s been going on? No! It will just make Sharon mad when he cancels the wedding, and then she won’t want to be with me. She must obviously want to be with him, that’s why she’s agreed to marry him, right?

Well maybe I should go to the wedding? I have an invite from Colin. I should be supportive of Sharon’s decision. I should take them a gift. What if she’s told Colin the whole truth and he has accepted her past, and she wants to be with him for that reason? If that’s the case I’d look like a right pillock, turning up with a present. Alternatively, he might think I’m trying to make a pass at his wife, and fire me from Archway Limited. I really need this job.

Maybe I’d be better to find a date to take to the wedding. A pretty lady companion. Yeah. I’m sure there are plenty of girls temping in HR who haven’t been invited, and would love to attend. If not to see the wedding, then definitely for the free booze. I remember at the company Christmas do last year, as soon as Colin said he was paying for the drinks, all the ladies singles immediately became doubles.

Damn, I feel completely snookered. I have no idea what to do. I can’t risk talking to anyone, as most of the people I know will probably be at the wedding, get drunk and go around blabbering my personal business to all the guests, and ruin Colin and Sharon’s big day. I guess it really is time to forget.

Barking Mad

He had been putting off going to number 22, the Dempsey residence, all week. He had accumulated quite a bit of their post, and since their phone call of complaint he thought it would be wise to deliver their post today.

He hated going to number 22 Gravesides Crescent. From the front the property looked like a standard two bedroom semi-detached bungalow with a garage. Bordered with a white picket fence, a small gate in front of a pathway leading up to the front door, and a larger gate separating an electric blue Ford Focus from the pavement.

Either side of the pathway leading to the front door was an immaculately manicured lawn. In the middle of each section of the lawn were two large overgrown bushes, which usually served as an observation post for the Dempsey’s dog, called Sergeant-Major, who seemed to always be on stag.

He opened the gate, and purposely left it open incase he had to make a swift exit. He got halfway down the path and alongside the bushes, to the bit he referred to as the ‘point of no return.’ A growl was heard from the bush on the left and the postman started to walk a little faster. He held open the flap of the Dempsey’s mailbox and started to insert all 19 pieces of post as quickly as possible, doubling up where possible. He felt like a contestant on Channel four’s The Crystal Maze!

He saw letters from Tesco Club card, Amnesty International, Love Film, Barclays bank and many small A5 white envelopes with a window encasing the address, Mr T O Dempsey, 22 Gravesides Crescent.

He pulled the letter box flap down and started to make his descent back to the pavement. He thought of running but saw two neighbours having a chat on the opposite side of the street. The wonderful widow, originally from Worcester Mrs B Edwards from number 16, and the gorgeous blonde hair blue-eyed Miss Joan Garten from number 12. He didn’t want to look like a wuss in front of Joan, so had to maintain composure.

He approached the bushes and failed to remember what side Sergeant-Major was on. The left he thought to himself and then walked a little closer to the bush on the right. It was then he realised that he was walking in the opposite direction and that the bush on the right, was actually the bush on the left! Sergeant-Major sprang out from behind the bush, stood directly infront of the postman and started barking. Each bark seemed to get louder and the poor postman could feel his heart beat faster. Was this how it all ended he though – eaten alive by a Yorkshire terrier?!

He could see the foxy Joan Garten from number 12 approaching number 22. He tried to act cool, but the more casual he became the more the dog barked. Sergeant-Major took a few small doggy steps towards the postman as if he could sense his fear and wanted to intimidate him further.

It all happened so quickly, but Joan came into the garden of number 22 and kicked the dog from behind. Sergeant-Major went whimpering back to his bush and Joan took the postman’s hand and led him out of their garden.

24 hours

She had 24 hours to leave the country.

Her husband, the Director-General of the Armed Forces, had found out about several of the affairs that she had over the years, but chose to turn a blind eye. He was very close to murdering her himself when there were rumours that his youngest son was fathered by a Junior Officer. But the paternity test revealed otherwise.

This time it was different as there was solid evidence and phone taps, which had proven that she was leaving him for good with the Director-General’s secretary.

A rather attractive young lady named Sherona.

Tina or Vicky?

I had a choice to make. Is it Tina or Vicky?

Well, Tina is fun. We like the same things. We went to the same primary school, secondary school and college. Our families know each other. We have similar career aspirations. We both like football and support Manchester United. We both play the same games on the PlayStation. We listen to the same music. I find her very attractive. She’s got a great sense of humour. Not only does she tell good jokes, but she laughs at mine as well.

As for Vicky… She’s rich!

Hmm Vicky it is then!

Expectations

They’re overjoyed the day he was born
Given a son after many daughters
To the family chess board, a new pawn
Mobilised like a lamb to the slaughter

The boy’s education was the key
Something the family didn’t have
Mould him and take them where they wanted to be
So finally, a fortune they could grab

However, it didn’t go as they planned
He just didn’t need or want what they want
He was his own man and had his own plans
From different cloth, a different font

Rely on no one to bring you your wealth
Get off your backside and earn it yourself

The Backpack

There once was a brown man on his way home from Westminster, after the longest day shift ever. He awaited on the eastbound platform of London Underground’s District Line. The atmospherics within London were pretty sombre as they were in the aftermath of yet another terrorist incident conducted by religious extremists.

The tired brown man managed to squeeze into an over-crowded carriage, he managed to slip through the door a nanosecond before it shut and the tired man laid his heavy backpack in between his legs. As the train made its way out of the city and through zones two, three and four of London’s inner city and suburbs, the carriage started to empty. As more people got off at their respective stops, he was able to snurggle his way further into the carriage.

He manged to get himself into a better position, with more elbow room, stood in between the two rows of seats, where he held the central ‘stripper pole’ handrail with both hands for stability and with his heavy backpack still positioned in between his legs. When the train alighted at the next station, a lady sat in the seat adjacent to his standing ‘pole’ position, dressed in business attire with a smart designer handbag and a copy of the free ‘The Metro’ newspaper, stood up and made her way to the doors.

There was an internal scream for joy by the brown man, as he could take a seat. He could take the weight off his feet for the next few stops, before he’d arrive at his stop and had the one kilometre walk back to the room he rented in a house with several other brown and eastern European occupants.

The lady briskly brushed past him as he slowly stepped towards the seat, to ensure his intentions were known by other passengers in the carriage and he got the seat before anybody else did. As he turned and sat down, but before he could reach forward to retrieve his heavy backpack, a pinstriped-banker-type looked down at the brown man with disgust, unhappy that he had sat opposite him, and said under his breath but loud enough for everyone to hear “Make sure you don’t forget about your backpack!” An obvious racial slur, as Islamic extremists had claimed responsibility for 9/11 and 7/7, and their latest modus operandi had been suicide vests and backpacks filled with explosives.

Everyone turned and looked at the brown man as the pinstripe lifted ‘The Metro’ back up high in front of his face. Fed up of the racism that he, his family, friends and other black and brown people had suffered and were still suffering from, unjustly at the hands of bigoted people, he decided that this was his moment to make a stand. To be the change he wanted to see.

He leaned forward and put his hand on the top of the man’s newspaper and pushed it down. He stated very loud and clearly “Just because someone is a Muslim it does not make them a terrorist, and I am not even a Muslim, so get your facts right before your start stereotyping every brown person that happens to be near you!”

The pinstripes face went red with rage. He was about to respond with expletives, reveal the spite, hatred and racism seated deep inside of him, when someone at the other end of the carriage started to clap. Several others joined in and before too long the whole carriage were clapping. Relief on the brown man’s face, tears formed and rolled down his cheek. It was validation that not everyone felt the same way as the pinstripe.

The pinstripes facial expression had now changed, he mumbled under his breath, a very inaudible apology. He pulled his paper back up even closer to his face and life continued.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you must take the rough with the smooth.

Ignored

– So, what’s been happening sunshine? You don’t look too happy.

– Well me and my wife really want to have another child. So, for the past few months we’ve been trying for a baby. But we have been unsuccessful so far. We have been successful twice in the past year but we’ve had two miscarriages.

– I’m sorry to hear that bud.

– It’s cool. So, we’ve tried lots of different strategies to get pregnant. Recently I’ve lost a ton of weight and I read that a man should have sex every second day to keep all his equipment downstairs and seeds primed.

– Ok, so what then?

– Well, it’s been tough with all this Covid-19 lockdown business. Do you know what? I think we just need a bit of a break from each other. Both tryna work from home. Home school the kids. Getting food in isn’t as easy as it usually is, I can’t find pasta, tea bags or toilet paper for love or money.

– Costco dude! We always buy in bulk and then replace when our reserve stock runs low, that’s why we’re always sorted for stuff. But yeah, anyway so what else?

– Ok, thanks for the Costco tip. So, we’ve not always managed to do it every second day. Believe it or not, working from home and doing school stuff, entertaining the kids, is pretty fucking tiring man.

– I feel ya bro.

– But yesterday, I thought it was on but when we got in to bed she said she didn’t want to. I always respect my good lady’s wishes. I said that’s fine we can do it another day. I got in to bed and she apologised saying “sorry if you feel I’m rejecting you!” I said your not, chill, don’t worry about it. She then said well you had plenty of other days to do it so it’s not my fault.

– What?

– I interrupted her and said again, look don’t worry, don’t mention it again. But she kept answering me back. So I said, say it one more time and I’m going to sleep in the other room. She then carried on arguing and said I was black mailing her.

– Blackmailing her?

– Yeah, it’s not like I had a gun to a puppy’s head saying some shit like “Transfer the nuclear missile codes Mr Bond or the puppy gets it!” She just took it way too far. I left the room. Slept in the spare bed. Woke up the next time, having hit the reset button and now she’s not talking to me. Silent treatment, making me feel bad.

– Well, the way I see it is that she rejected you and then tried to put the blame on you for something else. So, it looks like you’re wrong and she’s right. Stubborn as fuck mate!

– Yeah, it’s a family trait of hers, her dad and brother are much fucking worse.

– Get out while you can mate!

– What?

– Seriously mate, get out while you can. I’ve seen psycho bithces like this take away too many of my mates.

– Dude, we’re married, have a house, two children and are planning on having another child? I can’t just leave because she doesn’t have sex with me on one occasion.

– Well don’t ask me for my advice then and just do what you want!

***SILENCE***

– So, now you’re not talking to me?

And with friends like this who needs enemies?

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you must take the rough with the smooth.

Swipe Right…

There once was an organised, shy and not very confident man, who relocated to the opposite end of the country to be closer to a lady he met on an online dating site. They’d exchanged hundreds of text messages, dozens of phone calls and had even met twice in person.

He planned to surprise her, on what would be their third meeting, with the news that he’d moved to her area so they can take their relationship to the next level. However, she texted back before he could confirm details of their meeting, stated that she didn’t want to meet up and she wanted to cancel their date. She said she didn’t want to waste his time because she had recently started to see someone else that she had also met online.

He had been communicating with her for a total of six months and she hadn’t mentioned that she was speaking to anyone else when they last met up, so he assumed that her new fella wasn’t that serious. He genuinely felt that if he could just get her to meet him this one time, he will tell her what he has done, all for her, that’d win her over and that they could be together forever. He felt she was not like anyone he had ever met before, mainly because he was terribly shy in person and had not met many people.

He called her but she ignored his first few calls. He continued to call her every ten minutes until she eventually answered, he informed her that he was already in her town and that he had come all this way just to see her. In desperation he said he respected that she was interested in another man (he lied) and convinced her to join him for one drink at the trendy wine bar on the High Street, for old times sake.

When she arrived at the bar, he was already seated at a quiet cosy table by a fireplace with her favourite drink, a Long Island Iced Tea, which was ready for her on the table. He stood up to embrace her, but she sat down before he could get near her. She ignored both him and the drink, failed to give him any eye contact. She didn’t look happy to see him and chastised him for coming to see her. She was with Rob now. He explained how he had quit his job, sold his flat and moved to the area so he could be closer to her as he had thought that what they had was special. She assured him that it wasn’t and stood up. He grabbed her by the arm and reminded her that she had often told him that she loved surprises – SURPRISE! She said this was more of a shock than a surprise and walked out of the bar and walked out of his life.

He was distraught. He finished his drink, then hers, and stood looking squarely at the two empty glasses, symbolic for how he felt not just today but for most of his life. He had no job, was staying in a hostel, living out of a holdall and the only contact he had in the area had just told him she wanted nothing to do with him. Eventually, the barmaid came over to collect his empty glasses and asked him if he was ok as he didn’t look right. He told her what had happened, and then his whole life story, which she was genuinely interested to hear. As her life story, was very similar to his life story.

Moving forward, he got a job at the bar he was sat in and eventually moved in upstairs when a room for rent became available. He and the barmaid eventually ended up getting together, marrying, having children and running their own pub and restaurant. She often reminded him of how if he hadn’t come to town because of the girl on the dating site, they’d have never met!

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you must take the rough with the smooth.

The Chip Shop

There once was a boy, who shortly after moving to a new school, was out with his peers during their lunch break. The local chip shop, The Lobster Pot Fish Bar, was always busy and queuing up for the majority of the break ate into their football playing time.

One of the boys, Lee, spoke of another chip shop, New World, which was further away but not usually busy. Another boy, Tom, raised the point about it being adjacent to their rivals’ high school, the dirty Park Hall Secondary School. “We don’t want to get caught on their patch or they’ll bash us up” said Tom. “Yeah, but their lunch time is after ours, we’ll be in and out before their bell rings!” said Lee. Tom then queried the distance, the extra ten minutes it took to get there and the extra ten minutes back. Lee, the ringleader, told them of a hole in the fence behind the big trees at the rear of the field next to the football pitches. “So, it’s actually the same time to get there as The Lobster Pot!” said Lee. Even though all the students were warned about going to the other parade of shops where New World was, it was out of bounds to everyone at their school, and he didn’t want to break the rules particularly as he was new to the school. But he wanted chips and also didn’t want to be left out of his new peer group, so the boy reluctantly joined the other boys.

The group strode across the school field, past the football pitches, until they reached the edge of the field and slowly zigzagged through the dozen or so trees between the field and the perimeter fence. The branches of the trees, which were all unmanaged and overgrown, blocked their path to the fence. They slowly pushed through one by one, branch by branch. The branch in front back slapped them in the face as the person in front moved through. They all eventually managed to squeeze through the hole in the fence, which was a more appropriate size for primary school aged children, not high schoolers! The boy, being slightly more rotund than his peers, struggled to get through the gap, the strap of his Adidas back-pack snagged on the fence. He took his bag off, slipped through the fence and pulled his back through after him.

On the other side of the school fence, the boys waited by the edge of a dual carriageway, for a gap in the traffic. The boy could see the chip shop, New World, in front of them. Tom pointed to a pedestrian crossing approximately 300 metres down the road. Lee shouted over the traffic, “We’re gonna cross to the middle of the dual carriageway and jump over the barrier.” One of the other boys, Dave, joined in, “Yeah then we’ll have enough time to join Deano and the lads for a kick about.”

However, the barrier they had to jump over was bigger than the boy. All the other boys were taller than him, managed to get over the barrier and across the road all while he contemplated how to scale the barrier. He felt he was always one step behind the boys. He then spotted a bolt sticking out on the side of the barrier. He put his foot on the bolt and stepped up, his chest became level with the top of the barrier, he boosted himself up until his stomach was then level with the top of the barrier. He leaned over the barrier and ruined his shirt, which was stained with exhaust fume dirt that had deposited on the barriers. No doubt the barriers had not once been cleaned since they were erected a decade earlier. The boy managed to get over the top and landed on his feet as a bus overtaking a lorry whizzed past at 50 miles per hour.

The boy arrived at New World and joined the back of the queue behind his chums, they didn’t notice he was absent, or that he was present. By the time he got his breath back it was his turn to order. “A large open portion of chips please” asked the boy. “Salt and vinegar?” asked the cashier. The boy confirmed and walked out the shop. The boy tucked in to his chips before he’d even exited the premises. The boys stood around for a minute or two, wafted the chips in to their mouths, before Lee said “Right lads, let’s go back to school.” The boy took an extra second to scoff another one of his chips. He came out of the shop last and still had plenty of chips to eat. Lee was out first, he’d ordered a small portion and had finished his chips – he was ready to go!

The boy’s half eaten portion of chips was yet another lever that pushed down on him as he made his way back to school, via the barrier in the middle of the dual carriageway. There was a gap in the traffic, he got to the middle of the road with the barrier now in front of him. He put his foot back on the bolt and boosted himself with a little more power than last time. Too much power, as now he was on to and over the barrier in one swift movement. The weight of his backpack, which remained on his back during this manoeuvre, took him over the fence and into the road. His chips flew through the air, he landed on the road before them just as a gold Mercedes 4×4 screeched to a halt a mere three metres away from the boy. His group were nowhere to be seen, they were already across the road, through the broken school fence and on the field headed towards the football pitches.

The Mercedes driver managed to break just in the nick of time. A second later and he would have run the boy over, and at 50 mph almost certainly have killed the boy. The driver of the Mercedes blew his horn while he rolled down his window and poked his head out. “What the fuck are you playing at you dozy pillock?” The embarrassed boy picked himself, and his school bag, up and ran back to the hole in the school fence. The Mercedes driver sounded his horn as he drove off.

Once the boy slipped through the broken school fence, he felt relived, safe and happy to be alive. The boy eventually caught up with Lee and the rest of the gang by the football pitches. He didn’t tell them what had happened, he was afraid they’d make fun of him. Instead he asked “What’s going on?” Lee spluttered back, “Oh Deano has gone to the Lobster Pot and no-one else has a ball!” The boy felt everything he’d been through, unnecessarily rushing, sneaking out of school, dropping his chips and almost being run over was a complete waste of time and effort!

On the way home from school that day the boy decided that perhaps the current group of boys he had chosen to associate with were not the best peer group for him. The boy felt he couldn’t rely on them. The following day he went to the Lobster Pot by himself, but walked back with some other boys and girls from his year group that he’d met in the queue.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you must take the rough with the smooth.

Football

There once was a boy, an only child born to busy working parents, who often felt lonely. For every day he felt fulfilled with the level of human interaction, be it at school or at home with his family, he felt he had to pay with ten days of loneliness. It was these long periods of isolation, especially during school holidays, that made him yearn to be part of something. The boy desperately wanted something that he could focus on, even when he was all by himself.

Then one school day, on the first day back after the summer break, a PE teachers, Mr Shufflebottom, stood up at the end of assembly to deliver a notice. He declared the previously disbanded football team was to reform due to the school extension and the extra hundreds of pupils now attending the school. Mr Shufflebottom felt there were now enough students, and a good crop of potential athletes, in the school to resurrect the football team. Deep down Mr Shufflebottom was more interested in football than anything else in life, he once had a trial with West Ham and essentially became a PE teacher to earn a living through football. Those who can do and those who can’t – teach! Nonetheless, the boy’s interest was piqued.

The following Wednesday afternoon, the school cancelled all classroom lessons to allow students to try out for all the school’s various sports team. The PE teachers, Mr Shufflebottom, Miss Strider and Mr Vault, were due to walk around the basketball courts, rugby pitches, tennis courts, football pitches, the indoor gymnasium and swimming pool noting down the students that demonstrated they had met the level of sporting prowess required to represent the school at sports.

The boy was immaculately turned out in his bright yellow school sports jersey, black shorts and black socks, which had two white horizontal stripes at the top and were displayed once folded near his knee. He donned his brand-new Adidas Predator football boots, the same ones worn by all the star players across all the football leagues in Europe. He assembled at the football pitches with all the other boys. He noted some were taller and stronger than him, and also noted that some were smaller and fatter than him. He started to slowly fill with doubt, like a glass being filled with water; he wondered if he had what it took to be selected for the school team.

Mr Shufflebottom was supposed to be walking around with his clipboard, but appeared to be exclusively involved in the football trials and wasn’t keeping an eye on any of the other sports. Shufflebottom picked the teams himself, and to look all teams look evenly matched. He then gave direction for the team opposite the boy to be the skins, and when these boys removed their jerseys, the majority had fit bodies, ripped like Spartans, some appeared to be airbrushed! The boy didn’t fancy his chances. The games commenced and at the end of the session, Shufflebottom started to read off a list of names. The names of those who had been selected for the team. The boy felt he didn’t play well at all, he rarely touched the ball and when he did, gave it away within seconds. Each time a name was called out, the feeling of missing out, sunk deeper inside him. But too his surprise, his name was the last to be called off the sheet attached to the clipboard held by Mr Shufflebottom.

Although the boy had been selected for this year’s football team, he rarely played in the first team and was a squad player. Although it was bittersweet, the boy didn’t mind, he enjoyed the company of his peers, new friends from different year groups. Even though he didn’t play, the training sessions greatly improved his game and he spent most of his free time at home practicing ball control and kick-ups in his back garden.

Towards the end of the season, and academic year, a tournament took place between the top 100 school football teams in England and was held at Wembley Stadium. The home of football! The boy’s school had qualified for the tournament, but several of the older players were unable to participate due to upcoming exams. Mr Shufflebottom informed the squad as they sat on the school minibus on the drive down the London that they didn’t have enough players for any substitutes, and that all the players will have to play every minute of every game, unless they got injured. He also told them not to get injured. With confirmation that he would be playing and his friends by his side, the boy knew that this was his chance to establish himself in the team and be selected again for next year’s squad. Not being in the squad would send the boy back into the lonely abyss, of having no-one to talk to and playing Scrabble for one. The stakes were high.

Very early on in their first game it was evident to all that the boy was a much better player than he had been at the trial. The boy was confident and strong on the ball. His control, passing and shooting were accurate, which paid off for his team. He scored in every game and his team didn’t even concede a goal in the group stages. The boy’s school team were unstoppable, winning each game easily. However, there was also another team playing with a similar winning streak, and these two teams were to play each other in the final for the cup.

The final was a very even game. With each team holding possession for long periods but unable to get a shot on target when in the opposition’s penalty area. However, in the last minute of the game the boy played a beautifully chipped pass over the two opposition centre-halves and played his mate Lofty in on goal, one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The goalie came off his line and pushed Lofty wide, but before Lofty could get passed the keeper his shirt was pulled back and he fell to the ground just short of the six-yard box. Every man and his dog turned to the referee, who simultaneously blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. It was a penalty! Roderick, head boy and team captain, ran over to the boy and said, “It’s all yours!”

The boy put the ball down on the penalty spot. Keeping his gaze down as he took four short steps back. The keeper had spread his arms and legs wide, turning himself in to a wall, and was constantly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The boy ran up with the intention of firing the ball into the top right-hand corner, something that he had practiced again and again in his back garden when he returned home from school to an empty house. But at the last second before striking the ball, he changed his mind and shot towards the left. The keeper dived the right way and palmed the ball on to the post. The boy fell to the floor, punching the ground and wished he hadn’t changed his mind at the last moment.

Had he lost them the cup? They still had time, or so he thought. But to make matters worse, when the ball rebounded off the post, it landed outside the penalty area at the feet of their lean, six foot tall, right winger who hoofed the ball down the pitch and then outran everyone to be the first to reach his own pass. Like poetry in motion, he did what Lofty couldn’t do and rounded the keeper before passing the ball effortlessly into an empty net. He ran off down the wing holding his arms out horizontally by his side, like the swept wings of an aeroplane.

The referee blew his whistle. Not a hint of offside. The goal stood. The referee blew the whistle some more. The final whistle. They lost. The boy was a runner up, so close to being a winner. His team mates and friends came over to consolidate him. No spite or negativity. They did well to get this far without any subs, and would no doubt be better prepared next season.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Tongue in Head

There once was a little boy, who during his school holidays was to board a bus to visit his sick mother in hospital. The bus stop was a swift 12 minute walk from his house, but if he took big steps he could do it in ten minutes.

On this cold, wet and windy miserable Monday morning during the October half-term, he arrived late at the bus stop but saw the bus drive off just as he turned the corner from the side street to the main road. Drat! If only he’d walked faster or left home earlier. Perhaps his watch was wrong or the bus was early were some of the reasons he contemplated as he awaited the arrival of the next bus.

Luckily for him the next bus was due in 15 minutes. When it got to 23 minutes he started to wonder if the timetable had changed. A theory that became more convincing as they reached the 30 minute mark, especially as there were no other passengers at the bus stop. He walked over to the timetable posted inside the bus shelter, he read that the timetable had not changed and confirmed that the bus was now again due. At this point he saw a big red double-decker bus, the number 13, as it drove up towards the bus stop. He walked the edge of the pavement and held out his hand. However, the bus didn’t slow down or even stop. The driver did however raise his thumb at the little boy and pointed it swiftly over his left shoulder several times, and signalled the little boy to look behind the bus. A second bus crawled towards the bus stop.

The little boy held his hand out again, but this time the bus stopped short of the stop. The driver switched off his engine and held up the palm of his hand to the little boy, which showed all five digits. He didn’t even open the door. The boy desperate not to miss this bus stood by the door. The raindrops got larger, fell faster and made his jacket heavier.

After a further six or so minute wait, the driver switched on the bus’ engine. Another two minutes later he finally opened the door. The little boy, now shivering got on to the bus and left a wet trail like a slug behind him. The driver remained focused on his ticket machine, pushed buttons, neither spoke to or looked at the little boy. After a further few seconds, which felt like hours to the little boy, the driver scowled through gritted teeth, “Have you got a tongue in your head?”

The little boy still shivered, his teeth chattered, and was unsure if the driver was speaking to him. He remained silent. The driver said it again a little louder and slowly turned his face towards the little boy in slow motion, “I said, have you got a flipping tongue in your head boy?”

The little boy’s eyes filled up. The driver let out an evil Cruella-De-Vil-esqu laugh. “Speak up boy!” the boy responded, “I’d like one ticket please” and placed his money in the tray adjacent to the ticket machine. “Well that’s not enough!” The boy’s heart beat a little faster “But that’s all the money I have, that’s what my father gave me.” There was a second of silence while the driver eyeballed the little boy. “Well you can’t get on then can you!” The little boy panicked “But this is how much the driver usually takes for a child’s ticket” had the price changed he thought to himself. Please don’t let the ticket price have changed. “Oh, you want a child’s ticket? Well why didn’t you say so boy!” The driver pushed a button on his machine and a child’s ticket was dispensed. The little boy ripped it from the machine and started his slow ascent along the bus. He walked away from the big puddle he’d left at the front of the bus.

But before the little boy could even sit down, the doors shut abruptly and the driver set off with a jerking motion. This bus driver gained speed a lot quicker than other drivers. The little boy fell backwards and then forwards, he managed to grab hold of one of the handrails as he fell to the floor. He slipped through the puddle he’d created seconds earlier. The driver let out another hearty laugh and shouted expletives. “Your lot need to fucking learn your place in our country!” The driver carried on, ranted, said things in a similar vain until another passenger got on the bus a few stops later. Once this elderly lady boarded the bus with her two grandchildren, the driver instantly calmed down and stopped shouting. The driver was a racist bully but the boy didn’t care. Three more stops and he’d be at the hospital, able to be with his mother until his father joined them after work.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes your lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Welcome…

The young man went against both his gut instinct and friends, when he entered the new trendy steakhouse and bar.

Upon entry, each and every person in the bar stopped their conversations, put down their glasses and stared at the young man.

And there he was, Chad, who immediately stood up and strode towards the young man. He pointed with both arms outstretched and shouted “YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!” Chad looked around the room to see if he could gain support. Some of the other drinkers nodded.

The young man stepped forward until a distance of only an arms length separated them. The manager of the establishment soon joined the two of them. They three of them stood equal distance apart, in a triangle, like a Mexican stand-off. The young man was initially unsure if the manager was also in support of Chad, until he moved a few inches closer to Chad and turned towards the young man, which confirmed he was.

The young man looked the manager in the eye and asked “Is this true?”
The manager folded his arms across his chest “Ah…well…”
The young man cut him off “I’m seeing a lot of empty tables in here.”
The manager piped up “Well Sir, you are causing some of our valued customers some distress, so I’m afraid that I am going to have to ask you to leave!”

There was a loud cheer and aggressive clapping from Chad “See! In your face, now get out!” With the last roll of his dice the young man asked “Is the owner, Mr Stiger, here?”

The manager looked up and left, pursed his lips before a deep exhale, then looked back at the young man “Mr Stiger is far too busy to talk to you!”

At this point Chad started to chant “LEAVE…LEAVE…LEAVE.” Getting louder with each chant. Chad turned around and raised his arms up and down, like an Olympian pre-triple jump, to encourage others to join in with his chant. Several other drinkers joined in. Each time Chad shouted “LEAVE” a few more people joined in.

Just as all the chanting reached fever pitch, a tall man with grey hair, a bow tie and walking stick emerged from behind Chad. The cheering stopped as Mr Stiger stood equal distance between the young man and Chad, with the manager opposite him.

“Mr Stiger” said the manager “sorry to disturb you, this man was just leaving.”
Stiger nodded “I saw the commotion on the CCTV” and in a swift movement he turned to Chad “Make sure you settle your bill before leaving my premises.” A speechless Chad remained rooted to the spot while Striger turned to the manager “show this young man to his table.”

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Micro Manage. .

There once was a man, who worked for a large corporation, in a tall office block in the centre of the city. The man was having issues at work with his boss, who he felt micro-managed him. One of the man’s duties was to compile monthly statements of activity, progress, statistics, finances and performance against key performance indicators. This was regarded as an extremely important document, which was always double checked by the boss before the man submitted it to the CEO’s assistant.

No matter how busy the boss was, he always insisted on checking this document. The boss wanted to avoid submitting a report with mistakes in it and aimed to ensure that his department didn’t look unprofessional. The man didn’t like the boss, and always felt both violated and insulted that he wanted check his work. However, the boss always picked up at least one or two errors in the man’s report.

One month the man decided to circumvent the boss’ checking system and submitted the report directly to the CEO’s assistant. The assistant collated stats for the management group, a trio of dragons who aimed to improve efficiency, and if necessary, off load any member of staff unable to meet their inflated and often unreasonable standards. Low and behold, he made a mistake. The assistant, as the collator, never checked the analysts work for accuracy. She compiled the final report and submitted.

This month the man’s stats were the big talking point for the management group. When they looked a little closer at the stats, there didn’t appear to be an anomaly, as the man had consistently made similar mistakes throughout the report. Once the meeting concluded, the assistant called the man’s boss and arranged from him to meet the CEO the following morning, stating that the management were extremely disgruntled with the stats. The boss said he hadn’t yet checked or given the man approval to submit the stats.

Once he got off the phone, he went over to the man’s desk and asked if he could see the stats. The man replied, “Oh you don’t need to worry about that, I have already submitted them for the next management group meeting.” The boss said he has to meet the CEO tomorrow morning and needed to review the stats. The man’s heart sank. He knew he’d gone against protocol and hoped that he had not made a mistake.

When the boss looked at the figures, he saw a decimal in the wrong place, and that the figures were not as bad as the management group had thought. The man breathed a sigh of relief, but the boss felt under pressure aware of the management groups reputation of firing folks. Water cooler gossip and his instincts made him aware that tomorrow morning’s meeting was not going to be a walk in the park for the boss. The boss told the man that he wished he had let him sanity check the work before sending to the assistant. The man got worked up and told him to stop being so ‘micro-managey.’ “Well I wouldn’t have to be so ‘micro-managey’ if you paid more attention to detail.” The man fired back “Yeah, well, I would pay more attention to detail if you were not on my case all the time!” To the boss, and the whole of the team sprawled across the vast open plan office, this made no sense. Deep down they all knew that the man was at fault and the boss would ultimately have to accept responsibility.

You pay the cost to be the boss, and the buck stops with you! The boss looked the man straight in the eye and through firmly gritted teeth told him “Stop being so shit!”

The following day, the boss explained the predicament to the CEO. The CEO agreed that it was not as bad as first thought, but was nonetheless still an under performance. He also queried why he didn’t check his analysts’ work before submitting? He said he usually did, but on this occasion the analyst didn’t share it with him. The CEO questioned the boss’s working practices, team cohesion and most importantly – attention to detail. It eventually ended up with the boss being sacked!

The news of the boss’s dismissal went down like a lead weight around the department. They all knew he was very good at his job and took care of his staff, and did so much more than was expected of him. He did things the management group didn’t see, which were integral to the department achieving their objectives each year.

The boss’s position was agreed to be filled from a member of staff within the department. Viewed as a poisoned position very few members of the team put themselves forward for the promotion. The man who compiled the monthly reports put himself forward and got it based on the fact that he was used to submitting the monthly figures and knew intimately how the whole department operated.

The man himself was fired from the company just three months later. Without the boss to check his work, he carried on making errors, which made him look like a liability to the management group.

Sometime in life you win and sometimes you lose, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Losing My Marbles

There once was a little boy from a low income family, who for one birthday was given a pack of marbles. These small spherical balls were made of glass, approximately 13mm in diameter and were purchased from the local green grocers owned by the Indian family. Marbles were all the rage at school and duels were fought during playtime, the victor kept the losers’ marble. When playing for keeps, the stakes were high. For months the little boy had been an observer, with no horses to race, he was unable to compete. But after his birthday, he too could take a seat at the players table.

The little boy started out playing the hitting game. Player one put their marble on the ground, player two stands 10 paces away and throws their marble at the stationary marble. The first one to hit their opponents’ marble three times won the other persons’ marble.

On day number one the little boy lost big, with half of his marbles lost. Fortunately for him, it was a Friday and he had the weekend to practice tossing his marbles. The following Monday the little boy was on fire, a natural, and won many marbles. After a full week of winning a marble each time he played a game, the little boy started to get the attention of many other kids in the playground, including some of the popular bigger kids, who were convinced that it was not the little boy’s talent and ability, but the marbles that had a special quality that enabled him to hit the oppositions marble each time.

With his eye on the prize, a big boy invited the little boy to join him for a high stakes game at the big boys’ table, which was the grid on a drain cover. There was only one of these in the whole playground and the big boy played on it at every break time, always winning and taking marbles from the rest of the school. No one really knew the proper rules of the marble game on the drain cover, but in the school they made their own rules. Passed down from one generation to the next. The two players would start in the middle, taking turns to flick their marble against the other one. There were two deep dips, or depressions, in the drain cover, which were like goals. The objective was to get the opponents marble into the deep dip in the drain cover. As ever, the first to three would win the opponents marble.

Another reason for the bigger boy’s success was that he had a larger marble, 25mm, which was easily able to hit smaller marbles. The little boy lost his first few games. At the next playtime the big boy played a little easier, but still won. The big boy didn’t want to stop until he had all of the little boy’s lucky marbles. The little boy played with marbles he had won from other matches first. The little boy tried harder in each game he played and eventually started to win the odd game. But each time he won the big boy bent the rules and claimed, “Well it ain’t gotta be the marble you played with.” The big boy gave him little marbles, never the big ones. Conscious that his marble holdings were being depleted, the big boy concentrated harder but still lost. In an attempt to stop his embarrassing losing streak, the big boy proposed one big game the following day, winner takes all the marbles from the loser. The little boy wasn’t sure, but the other kids encouraged it as the big boy had a large duffle bag full of marbles.

The next day they played while nearly the whole school watched. The big boy had an even bigger marble, 30mm, but the whole school is cheering for the little boy, the underdog, apart from his two ‘plastic’ cronies, no one is supporting the big boy, probably because at some point over the past year he had taken marbles from most of the kids, and not necessarily fairly! A tense affair, which miraculously the little boy won! Graceful in both victory and defeat, the little boy offered his hand to the big boy who slapped it away. The big boy swore at the little boy “Stop being such a little bitch!”

I’m not a…” the little boy couldn’t even bring himself to say it. One of the other kids suggested telling a teacher. The big boy clutched his bag worried he’d get in trouble. A group of them approached the teacher on playground monitoring duty who responded, “Well a bitch is just a female dog, there’s nothing wrong with that!” Deflated, the little boy returned to the scene of his victory, his Colosseum, his Wembley Stadium, the drain cover. When the others heard what the teacher had said they too felt deflated. Seeing this unfold from a distance, another teacher from the other side of the playground wondered over, “So, who won the big match?” Some onlookers brought the teacher up to speed. The teacher called the big boy over and encouraged him to honour his agreement like a gentleman.

The big boy handed over his duffle bag to the little boy, but it only had four marbles in it, not including any of the big ones. The big boy’s intentions were not good; if he won he would have taken all 30 of the little boy’s marbles, but when he lost he only gave a meagre percentage of his holdings.

However, the little boy was still four marbles up. Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Bike Riding

One Sunday a little boy went for a bike ride on his smart BMX ‘Destroyer’ with white frame and a chequered flag patterned cover along the handlebars. As the little boy’s confidence grew, he ventured out further away from home. On this occasion he was in unchartered territory having cycled further away from home than ever been before, but was unable to find his way back.

Stationary by the edge of the woods he bumped into a bigger boy from school. The bigger boy was a little bit older than him and he’d seen him swearing and fighting with other children in the playground, making the most of his bulk, which will be redundant as the smaller kids have growth spurts and take revenge. The little boy’s heart beat faster as he contemplated the bigger boy stealing his bike. The bigger boy rode over on his bike that had been handed down to him from his older brother, who had it handed down to him from his older brother, who had it handed down to him from their father. The bigger boy’s bike was rusty and rattled, but the Chopper still functioned and held the bigger boy’s weight. He shouted, “Oi I know you from school…hey…that’s a nice bike!” The little boy nodded said thanks and told him he’s lost. The bigger boy asked where he lived, “Oh yeah, I know where that is, follow me.” The rode into the opposite direction from which the little boy came, but he didn’t recognise where they were going. They stopped at a few points along their journey, where the bigger boy made decisions about which path to take, first left, then right, and then left again.

With the sun starting the set the little boy asked the bigger boy how long it will be before they got home. The bigger boy told him to “Shut the fuck up!” The little boy asked the bigger boy if he’s lost. This was the kick the struck the hornet’s nest and the bigger boy pushed the little boy off his bike. The little boy’s worst fear became reality. The bigger boy got off his bike and grabbed the handlebars of the BMX, the little boy shouted “NOOO!” and put one hand on his handlebar and another on the bigger boy’s t-shirt. The stronger bigger boy yanked the bike away, but the little boy didn’t give up, grabbed his t-shirt with both hands and pulled with all the strength his little toothpick sized arms could muster. This David versus Goliath battle halted prematurely by the noise of a car in the distance, which started to blow its horn and flash it’s headlights the closer it got. It was a grey Vauxhall Cavalier, like the one driven by the little boy’s father. As the car got closer, the bigger boy let go of the BMX, got back on his bike and rode away.

The little boy caressed his bike and turned to face the Vauxhall. The driver’s door opened and his father emerged with a stern look on his face. “You stupid boy, I’ve been driving all over town looking for you!” The father chastised the little boy all the way home, and handed him the punishment of no bike rides for one month. The little boy accepted his punishment gracefully just grateful to have both his bike back and get home.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Earliest Memory

To the outsiders who looked in, this little boy had the perfect life. Two hardworking and capable parents who were financially secure, ran a successful business, had a house, an investment property, two cars and two perfect children. A little girl with golden hair and her angelic brother who she doted on at every opportunity.

But not all was as it seemed for the little boy. One warm summer afternoon, the mother fed up of her house being in a continuous state of disrepair decided to serve lunch to her little boy and family in the garden, which resembled a building site. The little boy had previously expressed a desire to dine in the garden because he liked the outdoors, and as any mother would, she did whatever she could for her children. If it was within her control, she would endeavour to make it happen.

The father was always a little detached and distracted from the family, stressed due to running a small business in the uber competitive inner-city of London. Not to mention the separation anxiety that lay buried deep within him. The little boy’s father came from such a large family and had almost certainly suffered from neglect. However, he always provided for the little boy. The necessities, food, clothing and shelter.

Whilst dining outdoors the clumsy little boy knocked over his glass of water. The father started to shout as the tidal wave of water from the little boy’s green plastic tumbler trickled it’s way towards him. The little boy’s reflexes sparked and he tried to stop the water as it slalomed towards the edge of the table. He put his cheap Pound shop napkin on top of the water and wiped, all while his father continued to berate him for being such a clumsy clot! Disasterously, the little boy only succeeded in redirecting the water further towards his father, as the cheap napkin disintegrated and stuck to the table. This further angered his father who with one swift snap of his wrist backhanded his son across his face. The force of the slap was so hard that the little boy fell from his seat and ended up on the floor. The sister started to cry, and the mother shouted at the father for hitting the little boy. Of course, the father more than stood his ground.

In the mean time the little boy crawled under the table while the commotion carried on above him. He sat on the floor, picked up and inspected individual pieces of broken mosaic tiles that were under the table. Although the blue, brown and white pieces were lose, dislodged and cracked, they still looked so regal to the little boy.

The little boy never forget that day. Not because of the aggressive from his parents or the tears of his sister, but because of the beauty of the mosaic he had discovered. Everyday after school he would go home, go straight in to the garden and put the broken pieces back together, whatever the weather! This was where he felt at his happiest. His most useful. His most engaged. His safe space. His happy place. This was his spot.

During the summer holidays the following year, the little boy went to stay with his grandparents for a week. When he returned home, his mother took great pride in showing off the newly laid crazy paving in the back garden. It was the end of an era.

But where one road ends, another begins. Although the broken mosaic tiles were no longer there, the little boy often day-dreamed that he was sat under the table playing with the broken pieces that he had put back together. A metaphor for his life. As a grown man, he held on to that image of the mosaic until he had a home of his own. He made sure that a blue, brown and white mosaic pattern was laid in his own garden.

Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Birth

The hourglass had turned and only a few grains of sand remained in its top half. It had been almost nine months to the day that he was conceived, and it appeared as though he was soon to be awoken from his slumber. A black hole slowly opened up into his world, like a birds eye view of an umbrella being raised on a rainy day, a portal from the outside world. He did not want to leave his humble abode and distanced himself from the portal. A state of concern grew amongst those that assisted the mothership. On the outside there was much activity, shouts, screams, beeps from machines, people who wore matching uniforms came in and out of the room. In due course the most senior and experienced of doctors arrived to course correct what appeared to have gone wrong with this birth. With tongs in hand the doctor slowly penetrated the mothership, and after a long struggle eventually managed to grasp the boy. The doctor’s grip on the boy was not strong. The mother screamed. There was a chance that the boy may manage to wriggle free from the grasp of the tongs. The doctor remained poised, and in one swift movement he removed the boy from his mother. The feet came first, followed by a wrinkled blue body and tiny head the size of an apple. The baby boy let out a pathetically weak scream as the support staff swooped in to deal with both mother and baby boy.

In the coming days the mother, her husband and their established children proudly showed off this baby boy as if he were the most prized trophy. Everywhere the boy went he was met with smiles, cheers and laughter. In return all he could do was cry. The family and friends were happy with the newest member of their tribe. The baby boy just cried, cried as if he felt genuinely sad, relegated from the comfort and support of the womb to the hell on Earth.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in life sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Welcome to The Writing Machine…

I had a blog before, but the people who hosted it collapsed, and with it my words. I got busy living my life, going to work, being a husband and a father. I had to prioritise. The one thing that was lowest on my list of priorities was the one thing I wanted to do the most – write! Until the desire to write slowly went away. It was something that I stopped doing. Then one day in 2019, I woke up and felt that my life was missing something. I felt like writing. So here I am. The landscape has changed since I was last here, and my life is still busy. It will take time to figure out how to set this site up, but I will do it. I will write more. I will share more. I want to give more. Give and you will receive. I have received so much in life that in a state of equilibrium I want to give back. I will give you my words. Enjoy!