Tag Archives: love

And Why’s He Still There, Mummy?…….

This story technically starts back on 18th March after I returned from my trip to Birmingham. Stupidly, I commented to my Moana-loving Girl Child that I’d seen a toy Hei Hei (the dopey chicken from the film) reduced in the Disney Store in the Bull Ring shopping centre. With a petted lip she asked why Hei Hei was still there. Calmly, I explained in my best mummy voice that Hei Hei wouldn’t have fitted in my overnight bag.

hei hei

She sulked….

 

Move forward in time to last Saturday. The Big Green Gummi Bear and I were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to Manchester and were saying our goodbyes to Girl Child and her Dotty Gran in Tesco’s café. Girl Child tried to pick her blue fluffy bunny up by the ear and the poor creature’s ear came off in her hand. Her wee face crumpled. She loves that blue fluffy bunny! I did wonder for a split second if she was about to cry. The Big Green Gummi bear swiftly snatched the ear from her little hand, declared it to be his “lucky bunny ear” for his race (yes, I know that it should be lucky rabbit’s foot) and stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

A couple of hours later and many miles down the motorway, we stopped at a service station in the Lake District for lunch. As is my want, we had a wander through the shop before getting back in the car. In the toy section, we found a display of over priced and overly fluffy toy chickens and birds and critters. The Big Green Gummi Bear quickly pulled the bunny ear from his pocket and posed it on top of one of pink fluffy chicken things, suggesting I take a photo and send it to Girl Child. I did.

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Her response a while later was “Hope you bought that.”

When I replied that we hadn’t, her immediate disappointment was expressed.

It was Hei Hei all over again….

The mummy in me knew we had to find one of those pink fluffy birds on the return journey or I’d never hear the end of this, especially so soon after not buying Hei Hei!

 On the way back north on Sunday afternoon we delayed our potty stop/coffee stop by 22 miles to reach the service station on the M6 where we hoped we stood the best chance of sourcing a pink fluffy chicken.

At Tebay services, we were in luck. They had one. He was duly purchased and carried unceremoniously by the legs out to the car. (Turns out it’s a female ostrich and not a chicken)

And so Not Hei Hei came to stay.

 

When we arrived home a couple of hours later, Girl Child was thrilled to meet Not Hei Hei and promptly sat at the dinner table with him beside her.

The blue fluffy bunny ear, which turned out to be quite a lucky bunny ear as the The Big Green Gummi Bear survived his marathon debut and ran a time he is content with, was returned to our baby girl.

With her big blue eyes wide and pleading, she asked me to fix her bunny.

So, for the first time in many years, I have just performed toy surgery and re-attached her blue bunny’s long floppy ear.

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Cue one happy Girl Child….. one 18year old happy Girl Child!

 

 

And the moral of this story is…. Never lose sight of your inner child 😉

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I’ll Take That As A Parenting Success….

I ventured into Boy Child’s bedroom earlier to collect his laundry basket. The sun was shining in and the wall above his desk caught my eye.

Now, I’ve been in the room countless times but I hadn’t really given this spot on the wall much thought before today. I paused to look and to read.

It made me smile.

This is what I was looking at.

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Every ticket, except his Alter Bridge ticket from SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 1 Dec 2016 as the venue staff insisted on collecting them in, for every show he’s been to. There are three up there that I wasn’t with him for – I’ll not point them out.

As I read though them I could remember highlights from each of them.

From nudging him and telling him it was ok to laugh out loud at comedian Daniel Sloss’ risqué jokes to the first rock show we attended on 23 May 2009. The very first band to take to the stage that night in the SECC were Black Stone Cherry and so began his love (and mine) of those boys from Kentucky.

There’s the ticket from the first rock show he stood at – Iron Maiden on 20 July 2011. I remember vividly keeping a close eye on him in the densely packed crowd. (He was only 13 at the time) There’s the tiny ticket stub from 16 May 2017 when we saw Iron Maiden again. I remember all too clearly Boy Child keeping an eye on me in one of the roughest crowds I’ve been in. We’d come full circle.

There’s the MTV EMA World Stage show with Slash and Biffy Clyro from 7 Nov 2014. Still can’t believe we got those tickets. It was a fan only event. Best value for £10 ever!

Then, less than a month later, we saw Slash live again and, thanks to Miss Janette, got after show passes to meet The Conspirators and were lucky enough to meet Myles Kennedy for the first time. The kind of night that dreams are made of.

A ticket from the Black Stone Cherry Nordoff Robbins charity show in The Cathouse (tiny venue) on 18 Nov 2016 also holds precious memories. That was an incredible show!

There are wrist bands from Tremonti shows where we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a quick meet and greet after the set. They really are lovely guys.

A few picks don the wall too including a Myles Kennedy pick.

There are even some Ghost dollars.

Parenting is never an easy task. Kids don’t come with a rule book or a user guide. I wish they had!

What struck me in the sunlit room was that this wall represented parenting successes…lots of them! The simple fact that each of these tickets has earned a place on the wall is evidence of that.

I left the room with the laundry basket, a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

 

A short while later there was a cry of “Mum, where’s the Blu Tack?”

As I handed over a small blue/gray cube of sticky stuff, I asked what he needed it for.

“To stick my Brian Fallon ticket up.”

Another moment of parenting success.

Ticket collage

The Last Emoji (flash fiction)

 

There had to be thousands of messages in the chain he was scrolling through….. and he missed receiving them.  Those silly emojis that she’d used. The crazy conversations of emojis alone that they’d both understood perfectly. Messages that would ping into his phone at all hours of the day and night. Random and bizarre. Short and sweet. Occasionally an annoyance. … an annoyance he now sorely missed.

For two long weeks the thread had been virtually silent. All the recent messages had been one way. All of them had been his.

With a sad smile, he looked at the last one he’d received from her

                Beach time 🙂 🙂 🙂

                Have fun 😎 Be careful 😀

 

She’d never reached the beach that day.

It was a news report shared on his timeline by a mutual friend that had delivered the news of the accident. The brief report had made his blood run cold.

Those first few days had been touch and go. From a distance, he’d waited for news, thankful that his sister-in-law was a nurse in the ICU. He’d made every excuse he could to visit her at work that week. Offering her lifts, coming into the hospital to let her know that he was there, hoping to seize the opportunity to visit Room 5.

The opportunity finally came three days after the accident. He’d arrived early to collect his sister-in-law from her last in a run of night shifts and, needing to confide in someone, he’d told her the gist of his friendship with the patient in Room 5. Luck had been on his side. There was no one sitting with her.

For less than ten minutes he was allowed to visit in secret. They had been the shortest ten minutes of his life. She had looked so peaceful, despite the tubes and IVs and the incessant bleeping of the machines keeping her alive. Nervously, he’d held her hand and talked to her. He’d kissed her on the forehead before he’d slipped unseen from the private room.

Now, ten days later, he couldn’t remember a word he’d said but he could’ve sworn that she had squeezed his hand ever so gently. Wishful thinking? A reflex reaction? He’d never know for sure but it made it easier to bear if he kept believing that she’d known he was there.

It was after that that he’d started to message her again. Short messages. His usual random messages as if nothing had changed.

                Morning 🙂

                What a shitty day! >:D

                Car broke down again. Hate buses 😥

                Night. Sleep well  😉

                Long day. Work’s fried my head 😕

 

And so they went on……

The day he heard that he’d lost her forever, he’d sent another message

                😥  xx

Even though he knew she was gone, he’d kept messaging her. He could see on his phone that they were all unread but sending them, holding onto the connection,  eased the searing pain of his unspoken grief.

After the funeral service, he’d messaged her again.

                You’d have hated that! SO not you! Not one song that you’d have picked ha ha  :’)

 

Now a week after he’d said his final goodbye alongside her family and friends, he sat on the wall looking out over the river in his lunch hour, scrolling back through their message conversation. Re-reading some of the old messages made him smile, triggering memories of happier times.  In the mix of short text and emojis, her personality was still alive.

In his heart and his head, he knew he couldn’t keep messaging a ghost. He had to stop ….  but he didn’t want to. Then he began to worry that her family might be able to read the message chain. A wave of panic washed over him. Silently, he prayed that she’d been as careful with their messages as he had.

What happened to folk’s social media after they died? Would her timeline just sit there growing old and out of date? Would it be deleted and be gone forever?

A swift Google search informed him that nothing would happen to it until the family reported her death to the host site. Knowing how thorough her family could be, he guessed that the death would be reported sooner rather than later  and the account “memorialised”. That at least would be something to hold onto in the darker moments of the days and weeks to come.

He had to let go. He had to say goodbye.

With a heavy heart, he typed one final message. 

                    Miss you  😥

He hit send then stuffed the phone back into his pocket. Time to get back to work.

As he walked across the car park, his phone vibrated twice.

Two notifications.

Pulling the phone back out, he glanced at the screen.

One notification. One message.

The notification was the change of status of her account to “memorialised” and her friends list had all been notified.

His heart sank.

The message almost made him drop his phone. It was from her! How? Why? His mind raced. Rationalising things swiftly, he deduced it must have been stuck as a draft and the suspension of her social media account had triggered it to send.

He opened it.

                   ❤ U x

He smiled.

 

 

 

 

The Wrong Hand – a poem for Valentine’s Day

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The Wrong Hand

 

A dozen deep pink roses

Their petals rich and velvety.

Their thorns sharp.

Roses given in theatrical jest.

Given in friendship.

No love in their giving- thank God.

Roses given by the wrong hand.

 

 

17/10/08

In The Heart Of The Book (1000 word flash fiction)

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As she opened the latest delivery, she thought again about how lucky she was to be living her dream. In this technology filled world, running and owning her own bookshop had been a dream since childhood. The smell and the feel of actual books had held her captivated for decades. Now, in her late thirties, the books fitted perfectly around family life.

Working in the shop, the tiniest shop in the street, gave her an insight into other peoples’ family lives through the books they brought to her. In exchange for a minimal sum, she welcomed in boxes and bags of literary memories. Sometimes the bags came with a funny story about their previous owner; parents passing on children’s books told tales of babies long grown up; wives told tales on husband’s as they brought in books relating to pastimes that has been a passing phase; widowers brought in their late wife’s romance libraries, wondering how they could have read such “rubbish”. Every book in the shop came with a story.

The box in front of her was a curious mix. It had been handed in late the afternoon before by a young man a few years her junior. There had been something vaguely familiar about him but she hadn’t been able to place him. He had commented that the books had been his father’s and had long since been consigned to a shelf at the back of the garage. Something, a sixth sense perhaps, made her ask if he was sure they were all to be donated. His answer had been, “I guess so. He told me to clear out the garage.  Everything. The house has been sold and there’s no room in the new flat for everything as it is.”

The contents of the box proved to be an eclectic mix. She lifted out  sports biographies, a few books about classic cars and car maintenance, a handful of John Grisham paperbacks and a couple of Dan Brown’s. In among them she spotted a copy of a book that been one of her own mother’s favourites, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

With a wistful smile, she ran her hands over the familiar cover noting that, like the copy she had that had been her mother’s, this one was well-read. As she reached to put it on the shelf, a folded piece of paper fell out and drifted to the floor, landing at her feet.

Lifting the pale blue sheet of paper, she unfolded it. Finding notes inside books was one of the sneaky pleasures of the job. Over the years, she had found countless shopping lists, Christmas lists, addresses, postcards, bus and train tickets, boarding passes and the occasional more personal letter. This was one of the latter. The blue page had previously been crumpled and parts of it torn off but someone had taken the time to smooth it out and fold it carefully, stowing it safely inside the book.

Her heart skipped a beat at the distinctive flourishes to the handwriting.

The first part of the letter was missing.

My head knows I shouldn’t feel like this but my heart begs to differ and is leading it astray. The countless unspoken thoughts and conversations in my mind are safest left there…..perhaps.

Who am I kidding here? You know me inside out and well enough to know how I feel without me having to say it out loud.

We both know the risks of that…..

Resting my head against your chest, hearing your heart beat, feeling your arms around me, feeling safe, feeling wanted, feeling loved….”

The rest of the letter was lost. The bottom section of the page torn off.

Shaking the book, she hoped the missing fragments might appear but nothing. Hurriedly, she searched through the box, vainly hoping that one or both of the missing pieces might be there. Nothing.

Opening the book, she prayed she might find another clue. What she found was the possible remains of one. The top corner of the title page had been roughly ripped off but the tails of the letters from the inscription remained. Whatever it had said, it had been written by the same person who had penned the love letter. She would know that handwriting anywhere, even after all this time.

It was her mother’s.

Deciding to err on the side of caution for a while, she re-folded the letter, placed it back in between the pages of the book and put the slim volume safely on the shelf beneath the counter.

A little voice in her soul told her the rightful owner would be back for it as soon as they realised it was missing.

 

A month went by and the well-loved copy of The Alchemist lay under the counter, gradually being buried by letters and receipts. Occasionally, she would bring it out and read the letter over again, trying to work out who her  mother had been writing to.  She never mentioned the book to a  soul. It was her secret. A final connection to her mother.

 

Two more weeks passed by.

 

Late on the Monday afternoon, she was absorbed in the task of re-organising the shelves, perched precariously on the top step of the rickety, wooden stepladders she had brought from home, when the bell above the shop door tinkled. Balancing on one foot and leaning on the shelf, she half turned to see who had entered the shop.

She recognised him immediately, despite the changes caused by the passage of time.

“Hello. Be careful up there,” he said warmly. “I was hoping you’d be able to help me.”

He paused while she climbed down the ladder.

“My son brought a box of books in here about six weeks ago. I’m trying to track down one of the books that got into the box by mistake. It’s of sentimental value.”

“I have it right here,” she replied, smiling at him with a smile so like her mother’s that his heart skipped a beat.

 

(Image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

Spring – a Festival of Colours

It’s no secret – I hate winter. I loathe being cold, detest snow and hate the long dark days. (OK I concede that a wild winter’s night can be cosy with the heating on, candles burning and the curtains drawn tight to shut out the weather)

Spring is finally here! Winter is over for another year!

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the arrival of that first day when I am able to drive home from work without having to put the car’s headlights on. That always feels like a small moral victory.

Seeing all the spring flowers appear makes the world a more colourful place. Who can resist daffodils, crocuses and tulips?

Hearing the birds singing in the trees and bushes, bursting with buds, is a beautiful sound (Perhaps with the exception of that wee bird that sits out the back of our house going Twee Twee Twee at the top if it’s voice!)

Spring truly is something to celebrate!

Whilst I’m not a religious person Easter too signals the arrival of spring.

This year however an alternative spring festival has come to my attention.

In the salt mine, where I work in my “real world”, we work closely with colleagues based in India. This week we helped them to celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours. We were all asked to come into work in colourful clothes – yes, I do actually own some clothes that aren’t black!

Curious to learn more about Holi, I did a little research that I thought I’d share with you all.

Holi is one of India’s most popular festivals and is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. This year that fell on 23rd March. Holi celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also traditionally celebrates the victory of good over evil.

There are several legends associated with the Festival of Colours.

The story of Holika and Prahlad is one of the most important tales relating to the history of Holi. According to legend, there was a time when the entire world was ruled by a demon king, Hiranyakashyap. He was ruthless and expected everyone to worship him. Prahlad refused to. Instead Prahlad was devoted to Lord Naarayana, also known as Lord Vishnu. This was a huge issue for Hiranyakashyap because Prahlad was his son. On numerous occasions,  the demon king tried to murder his son, only to be thwarted every time by Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap enlisted some help to deal with Prahlad in the form of a demon called Holika. Holika was believed to be immune to the effects of fire. She enticed Prahlad into her clutches and, once he was within her reach, she grabbed him, sat him on her lap and sat them both in a pit of flames. Holika soon discovered to her cost that she was only immune to fire if she entered the flames alone. The fire consumed her. Prahlad emerged from the flames unharmed. He later learned the Lord Vishnu had granted him protection from the flames as a reward for his devotion.

A second legend associated with the Festival of Colours is the love story of Radha and Krishna.

When Lord Krishna was young, he was envious of the Radha’s fair skin. (Radha was a Hindu goddess). In an attempt to express his feelings of love and envy, Krishna rubbed colour onto Radha’s face. This act of “colouring” another person is now considered to be an expression of friendship and love.

So how is Holi celebrated?

On the eve of Holi, as midnight approaches, many people build large bonfires and gather round them to sing and dance and spend time with family and friends. The fire symbolises the death of Holika and the triumph of good over evil.

A tradition drink called Bhang is also prepared and enjoyed during Holi. Bhang is made from a cannabis paste…I’ll leave that thought there.

The next day, the Festival of Colours continues with the throwing of coloured powder or coloured water as people dash through the streets of the cities across India. This is a lively celebration of respect, love and devotion to the deities, friends and family.

Different areas of India celebrate in subtly different ways. There are so many diverse cultures across this vast country that many celebrate in their own unique way.

Jaipur, a popular destination for travellers, centres its festival around elephants and upbeat music.

Delhi adopts a more modern approach and hosts a vibrant festival of food and music, designed for family and friends to relax and have fun.

After the recent tragic events, carried out in the name of religion, that are dominating the world’s news, the idea of celebrating a triumph of good over evil around a bonfire, with a drink or two and in the company of family and friends sounds like a good idea to me.

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 credits to the owners of all photos – sourced form Google Images

Announcing A New Arrival – Impossible Depths

A Leap Day act of faith but Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths has made its debut on Amazon worldwide. EEK!

I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Can’t get me head round the fact that its done and out there for the world to see.

Like it’s predecessor, Impossible Depths was written long hand over many months. (I began writing it towards the end of 2013) It began “life” as four A4 notepads that have grown increasingly tatty over the months.

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Painstakingly it was typed up – all 142 299 words of it -and re-drafted and tweaked and grammar checked and tweaked…..yes the OCD began to kick in big time!

Throughout this phase of its development I couldn’t have kept going without the love and support and encouragement of my “Infamous Five”. Seriously, I can’t thank those guys enough for putting up with me and for giving me so many hours of their own precious time.

 Then came the next challenge. I had my Book Baby 2 almost formed but it was naked! The cover went through several incarnations before I finally settled on the stock photography image that became the cover. The next hurdle to be overcome was Photoshop (it hates me) but under the patient guidance of my “fairy godmother”, I designed the cover and eventually pulled it together in both Kindle format and Create Space paperback format. Now that was a fiddly job!

 By this stage, I was in the final throes of preparation for Book Baby 2’s arrival into the world and it was passed to “the cavalry” to read through. My two beta readers who prefer the story as a whole instead of per “chunk”. Huge thanks to you both for your feedback and support.

Cue more tweaking!

 Then came the day to upload the files onto Create Space and to order the first “real” proof copy. (Having an actual physical copy is so much easier to proof than using the online previewer. Invaluable advice given to me by my “fairy godmother”)

Cue more tweaking and a pile of post it corrections! And an alteration to the resolution of the front cover. A fuzzy cover just wouldn’t do!

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  And now, many, many months down the line, my Book Baby 2 has flown the nest and is making its way in the world of rock romance fiction.

Like any proud mother, I am now sitting back and watching my baby continue on its journey. (Well, to be honest, I’m fretting about how it will do in the big bad world just like any new mother would do.) Some of you may love it; some of you may loathe it. It’s a fiction genre that’s not for everyone but to me these characters are a huge part of my life and very close to my heart.

So I guess it’s time to crack open the champagne and wet the baby’s head.

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If you want to check it out, here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01C0GS30K?keywords=impossible%20depths&qid=1456764709&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1