Horse – Day 65 – Laundrette

In celebration of Chinese new year I decided to write a story with the prompt ‘horse’ ( this year is the year of the horse). I sat thinking about horses, googling them and looking at pictures. After literally 2 and a half hours I looked at my page and saw irrefutable evidence of writer’s block:

“Horse drawn carriage

Only seen at night

Ridden by a ghost

Something something

End”

In the end I managed to painfully draw a story out of my panicking blocked up brain. I jazzed it up with a picture and some tassels in the hopes it would make up for it. I’d promised Chris White that I would release my next story in Morningside, so I drove around looking for a spot and saw a laundrette. 

As this challenge is starting send me as crazy as Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything, I decided this was the best place for the story. So I entered the laundrette…

…and hung it up here:

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Hundreds of years ago a town was captured

One old seamstress had an idea

Red material was gathered discreetly

She found her family and

Escaped on horseback under a dragon disguise

Market – Day 64 – Shopping Centre

It’s 8:40pm and I finally just got this to a shopping centre (thank you late night shopping. Inspired by Adam Byatt’s idea of the mystical shirt of bad taste.

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“There it is,” Mai squealed, pointing to a small tea house.

Inside, the tea house opened onto the hidden canal where the markets were held. It looked exactly as people had described it back home. Hundreds of tiny stone islands covered in stalls, each island connected by a wooden bridge.

There were many delicious delicacies and old treasures to find. One old man even gave us a free shirt which he claimed was mystical. Though Mai did point out on the way back through the tea shop it was the ugliest shirt she had ever laid eyes on and the smell was probably putting off paying customers.

As we walked along the river shops, I slipped on the shirt

“Ew, I can’t be seen with that!” Mai snorted with laughter. “You stay outside while I take a look in this dress shop.”

Before I could take the shirt off, a little boy speeding down the lane on a bicycle caught my eye. I watched as if in slow motion, he lost control and toppled straight into the river. I jumped in after him. I could see him caught on the bike sinking below me. I reached out in vain, then there he was, rising up through the water toward my outstretched fingers.  I grabbed him and the water seemed to lift us, taking us back to shore. When I lifted him out, we were dry.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

He nodded, before running off.

“Lee!” I could hear his parents screaming. “Get away from that strange man.”

“He fell in the riv-“ I started to explain.

“C’mon Lee, he stinks,” I heard the dad explaining as they walked away.

When Mai got back I explained what had happened. She stared at the shirt.

“Do you think the old man was telling the truth?”

I shrugged and a piece of paper fell out of the pocket.

With great power must come humility. This shirt serves as a reminder. 

Late – Day 63 – Bus Stop

Just stuck this up at the bus stop.

The stop is packed because of the rain. Everyone looks tense. It’s now 15 minutes late. We’re definitely going to be late.

“Dad! Dad! Dad?”

Charlie swings off my arm. I look down with a sigh.

“What’s V..vigra?” he asks.

“What?”

I look up at the advertisement on the end of the bus stop, and see an ad for Viagra. The old man next to me sees the look of terror on my face and pipes up.

“It’s for when men are feeling down,” he says with a grin.

I can feel all eyes on us now.

“Can you get some dad?” Charlie implores.

“Why?” I ask, wishing the bus would hurry up.

“Because all the men at this bus stop always look down,” he answers.

The stop erupts in laughter, and suddenly I don’t care that we are late.

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Parked – Day 62 – Car Windscreen

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Dropped this onto a car today.

 

They parked next to each other every day. The flats were small, so the parks were squashy, but they didn’t mind. The two cars were the best of friends. He was young, a family car, shiny and comfortable. She was bright yellow, bomby and owned by students. They enjoyed swapping gossip about their humans every afternoon.

But one day the students graduated and moved out. An old lady moved in and there was no car to keep him company. He longed to be told about parties and breakdowns, and would look for her on every drive. But alas, he never saw her again.

Years later the family traded him in. His new owner would park him out on the street. Occasionally so did the neighbours who owned an old mismatched van. The van was kind, like talking to an old friend. One day she explained the bright yellow patch on her bonnet, it had come from an old student car.

 

Look at this!

Remember that time I put a story through a stranger’s letterbox? Well look what they sent back! (the red square is the story).

“Such a delight to get your story. Here’s us all in front of the inspirational fence! Keep on writing! From G, Bon, Mohammed and Mohammed.”G, Bon, Moh and Moh

Little by Little – Day 61 – The Library

Today’s story went into a library shoot:

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A few books in a room; it could hardly be called a library. When the floods came, the library wasn’t even on the local government’s list.

Every last book was ruined. There were no stories to escape to, just the foul stench of destruction. The locals assumed it would close. But it didn’t. A few weeks later it reopened. There was only one book on the shelf. It told the tale of a mighty water spirit and a brave librarian.

Little by little the locals caught on. Tales of brave butchers and valiant school children started to appear and soon the library was full once more.

The Garden – Day 58 – A stranger’s letterbox

Today I was challenged by Georgia Wellington to write a story and deliver it to a stranger’s letterbox. 

There’s a house not too far away that has an amazing fence made from branches. So I decided ‘made from branches’ was my trigger. I made an envelope and addressed a letter explaining myself…

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 then enclosed this story:

My grandad took me to see the garden years ago. He said it always made him feel nostalgic, like a kid again.

The garden was unusual in that none of it was alive. Giant structures made from old branches towered over my 8 year old frame.

The locals had told us the old lady who lived there built it, and she that could often be spotted dragging a giant branch back to her house on foot.

No one really knew why she’d made it. She didn’t charge visitors and she rarely spoke to them. Most people thought she was an artistic genius not to be questioned.

But 8 year olds don’t know much about artistic recluses. We wondered off to a quiet part of the garden and saw her heaving an enormous branch to the top of a sculpture.

“What’s the point?” I asked loudly.

“It’s art,” grandad answered quickly.

But I was already running up to her.

“Excuse me lady, can we help you?”

“Don’t mind my granddaughter,” grandad called.

“It’s alright, I’d love some help,” she answered.

When we’d finished hauling the branch into place she bent down and whispered, “I collect a branch every day so I can remember.”

It didn’t make much sense to me at the time. I thought it must be an in-joke for artistic geniuses.

Years later my grandad developed Alzheimer’s. He barely remembers my name now. The other day I remembered what he’d told me about the garden making him feel nostalgic, so I took him.

The lady was gone, but the garden remained. Grandad looked bemused as usual, so I took him to the spot where we’d helped her with the branch.

His face lit up and I was reminded of an old picture of him.

“It’s art,” he said.

I delivered it this afternoon so now we wait. In the letter I ask them tweet or facebook me back if they like it. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE*

A few hours after posting it to them I received this comment on facebook:

“Hello there!  we just received your beautiful letter. My partner always has this strange habit of checking the mail box at odd hours of the night..even though the mail has always been delivered. now it seems his search of the empty letter box has been fruitful! This was a wonderful unexpected gift! We are glad that someone noticed our artistic fence. Jaarlz Ross and I made it on Christmas Eve with visiting family. Its been a very long work in progress as he chopped the tree down himself from the backyard and initially just shoved them in a hole. A unique sinister and creepy look – . But now the fence is done we are glad people enjoy it and are even inspired by it! Soon our “cool-fence house” will be known as “Bonaluga house” as we turn it into a small gallery space. You are invited and we’ll have your letter on display for sure! Thanks again and keep on extreme writing!”

So I asked them for a photo and got this beauty:

G, Bon, Moh and Moh

 

Shoe Tree – Day 49 – The Telegraph

I got sent an article today. My last news inspiration story:

“The mystery behind who keeps tying shoes to a huge ash tree remains a riddle despite a £265,000 National Lottery investigation.”(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/4173582/Shoe-tree-mystery-defeats-265000-investigation.html)

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Janie,

I spent a good chunk of the end of my life on ‘the mysterious shoe tree’ investigation. You always seemed bemused by it, but it paid well. In fact, if you look closely you might recognise one of the shoes. We never did solve that case, but I do have a few nice things written into the will for you.

Don’t tell mum.

Love always,

Dad

Bubble-Ball – Day 47 – Guardian Sports

Today Heidi White challenged me to write an alternate story for this: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2014/jan/10/cricketers-play-football-wearing-giant-bubbles-video

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SORRY TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE: SWANSEA CONTROVERSY

Swansea City players received all types of abuse after Heidi Fielding, daughter of Bubble Wrap inventor Alfred Fielding, bought the club. Fans were outraged by her ‘bubble-ball’, calling it a cheap gimmick and an insult to a sport steeped in tradition.

But after weeks of controversy many amateur footballers have given it a go and found it to immensely fun. Even David Beckham tweeted a picture of himself playing bubble-ball, and it looks like all that hot air was for nothing.

PS. Interesting well researched wiki fact:
In 1957 two inventors named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were attempting to create a 3-dimensional plastic wallpaper. Although the idea was a failure, they found that it did make for great packing material. Sealed Air Corp. was co-founded by Alfred Fielding in 1960.

Armadillo – Day 46 – BBC News in Pictures

I was given the BBC News in Pictures link for today’s challenge. I chose this pic:

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Armies of cheap fabric

Riding on conveyer belts

Miscellaneous broken limbs

Abandoned and discarded

Design is tacky

Isn’t anatomically correct

Late after work I rescue the faulty ones

Laboriously unpicking and sewing

One real armadillo is born, just for my daughter.

armadillo

I imagine she made something that looked more like this.

Bertha – Day 45 – Seattle Newspaper

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Michael and Kait took this pic of the local news in Seattle for me this morning. So I’ve written a story about poor old Bertha.

 

Bertha the Boring Machine was bored

Bored of bossy balding blokes babbling

Bewildered by their banal boasting

Barrelling brashly through boundless barren boulders

She felt barbaric, she didn’t belong

It bored into her very bolts

Bogged down by all this she bombed out

Boffins were boggled by her broken body

Blinded by bitterness, she wouldn’t budge

She became a burden for the business

 

They butchered Bertha

Boxed her up and sent her over the border in bits

But she is beautiful now

She’s in Burmese busses and Belgian bikes

She’s travelled the world, buoyant on Bosnian boats

From Bangladesh to Burundi

 

And she will never bore again.

Narrowcasting – Day 44 – Korean News

So I was challenged to tune into one of the SBS foreign news shows and use a story I didn’t understand as a prompt. I turned on SBS this morning and watched a few mins of the Korean news. A cutesy jazz track played as a woman presented from atop a badly animated escalator. She was looking at a floating calendar and pointing out dates which highlighted themselves. Then she stepped off the escalator and floated in mid air for a moment before the animation changed to a cityscape. I think it was a financial report but my mind was already wondering…

 

“…and there’s more work ahead, easing on Friday.”

The video pauses as the train rushes through a tunnel. Jen frowns at the tiny screen as the buffering symbol whirs.

“…Now to the weekend: and it’ll be another quiet one.”

Jen adjusts her earphones and looks around nervously at the other passengers, but most people are looking at their own phones.

“In fact, if we take a look at the graph we’ll see that’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. But the good news is that quiet weekends are good for the pocket. If we compare 2016 with this year we can see savings are going through the roof-“

Jen’s heart skips a beat as the video pauses again. This time a BREAKING NEWS announcement is flashing up on screen.

“This just in: Mum is having a dinner party and has invited Jim, the single ‘silver fox’ teacher from down the road.”

Jen closes the video.

YOU ARE ABOUT TO CLOSE MYNEWS APP, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO EXIT WITHOUT HEARING THE REST OF TODAY’S UPDATE?

Jen confirms.

WOULD YOU LIKE MYNEWS TO SEND YOU A PDF OF THIS MONTHS LOVE-LIFE ANALYSIS AND FORECAST?

Jen declines and puts her phone away as the train pulls into her stop. Perhaps she’ll delete MyNews, she thinks, walking to work. Maybe after this weekend; it’s got everyone’s birthdays in there. Besides, she wouldn’t mind watching back the dinner party bulletin.

 

Also I’d just like to add, I totally copyright this idea/app! And- I’m going to make this into an ongoing series- a bit like giant diaries. 

The Real Harrogate – Day 43 – Zandra Wheeler & Steve Toase

The Real Harrogate - Day 43 - Zandra Wheeler & Steve Toase

So I posted on facebook that this week I want to base all my stories off news-related challenges. People were very amused by the funny pic of a newspaper article I posted with it. SO! I wrote a story based on the article. Imagine the article is cut out and attached to the letter below. You’ll need to cross reference. Also unrelated – can we all take a moment to appreciate the last name “Bromance”.

Steve,

I know I told you moving to Harrogate was to relax and enjoy the gardens and spas, but you know how trouble follows me. Let’s just say I sold some people a “hat” and then this article appeared in the local paper today. It’s funny how you pick up the local lingo. People use “woollen” to mean dodgy. I suppose I had knitted it with a lesser wool blend. “Put it on a fence post” is a kind of gruesome threat people use. Anyway, I already spent the hat money and I’m not keen on being put on a fence post so I was wondering if you could lend me some cash. I need it by April 10 (tomorrow). Perhaps you can come up for a daytrip and pay Bilton Lane a visit (43 is the street number and Sharon Bromance is the password).

Thanks brother! I owe you one.

Zandra

Lonely Theme – Day Meaning of Life (42) – Edmund Barry

Today I pulled Edmund Barry’s idea (top photo below) but then I decided to approach the prompt in a NEW way (because of January being themed ‘new things’ and all)! I created a new story just using the words he gave me and nothing else. The story is pictured on the bottom left and the words I had to discard (after hours of frustration that I couldn’t find a place for them) are pictured on the bottom right.

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Ink – Day 41 – Mark Brough/Maddy Sbeghen

Ink - Day 41 - Mark Brough/Maddy Sbeghen

My dad spent a large portion of his morning on hold so he asked me to write a story about someone who rings up solely for the music. It’s in ink because a dear friend Maddy gave me a Quill for my birthday and challenged me to use it in my writing. Please excuse my simplistic drawings, I hope you understand them.

Spine Tingling – Day 40 – Nick Wood

“I challenge you to write a story about a lonely book and an old librarian (preferably hairy)” from Nick Wood.

Your wish is my command Nick.

 

Spine tingling, pages bristling the book positively quivered on its shelf. If someone had ever bothered to open it, they would have found it still smelt of fresh ink. The book next to it had been read dozens of times; its pages were dog eared and the library card in the front pocket was overflowing with names. Library cards weren’t even used anymore; it was as if it was just preserved for bragging purposes.

But this was the moment the unread book had been waiting for. It had seen the old librarian staring at it before, but she’d never dared to pick it up. It was after hours now and she was the only librarian left. She looked at the book, her wispy moustache rippling slightly under the flow of the air conditioning vent. The book willed her hand toward it.

Finally, flesh met paper. Both parties had been waiting for this day. One Endless Night with the Rebel Accountant was read cover to cover that eve.

Crocs – Day 39 – Georgia May

You learn something new everyday. Georgia May facebooked in saying she’d seen a Monk wearing crocs so here’s the story folks. 

A Monk sat down next to me on the bus. I stifled a snort as I looked down to see a pair of Crocs peeping out from his traditional robes. I was sure I got away with it until I asked him for a bit of wisdom and he simply said “It’s 2014. Monks wear crocs: deal with it.”

I didn’t know what to do at first. Was this was a deeper piece of advice about refraining from judgement? But before I could fall any deeper into my thoughts the Monk began to laugh. Quietly at first and then big rib racking wheezing. We laughed the rest of the bus ride together.

I’m fairly sure it was just a joke, but I don’t think I’ll be so quick to judge next time.

Dunes – Day 38 – Leyla Gashe

41 degrees today… I was given the word ‘Dunes’ from Leyla Gashe. 

At first we thought they were sand dunes. Their grainy rock-like skin and grassy spines are easy to mistake. But it was soon uncovered the sand-dragons had been bred by the government as coast guardians. I was terrified of them. It seemed very extreme. What if they bred and become uncontrollable?

As it turned out we did see huge infestations, but these new coast-guardians were not particularly territorial or aggressive. In fact their main skill was sandcastle construction. Ironically these intricate structures brought thousands of new people to our country.   

Cloudman – Day 37 – Cinnamon Eacott

Pulled out – Cloudman from Cinnamon today. 

Crossing over isn’t how you’d imagine. There’s usually a lengthy stop over and if you’re like me you probably haven’t accumulated many soul points so you’ll be in economy class. My stop over was in one of the busy soulports, cloudland. I thought this was a nightclub but apparently it’s also a place where clouds are made. It’s just a factory really.

I sat down and waited while a bunch of workers messed about with temperatures and humidity to create different forms.  An old man sat down next to me. His magnificent beard and eyebrows almost blended in with the fluffy white surroundings.

“They should do something more creative,” I said. “You know – castles or something.”

“I tried but the regulations are pretty strict,” replied the man.

“You work here too?”

 “Sometimes when you see a rabbit – that’s me.”

“Are you dead?” I asked.

“We’re all dead,” he answered looking around. “You can choose to stop here forever if you’re scared to go on.”

“What would happen if you broke the rules?” I continued to prod.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“What is there to lose?”

We managed to get through a castle, a field of flowers and giant naked lady before being caught and moved on. The other side turns out to be very similar to life on earth, except elitist dickheads are called ‘Angels’ and reality TV is more sin based. Even in death, life was monotonous.

I was frustrated until I saw a paper which read ARTISTIC RIOTS IN CLOUDLAND. Perhaps this was the start of something new after all.

Fangled – Day 36 – Maya Weidner

I think you’ll work out what the one word Maya asked me to write a Haiku about today is.

 

Fangled

Brand spanking

Zealand

 

Also whilst milling about the interweb for inspiration I found this is what happens when you type in “want a new”. Cheery portrayal of us humans. 

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Porcelain Valley – Day 35 – Graham (Last day at Woodford)

On the last day of Woodford my camping neighbour gave to me… 

“Woodford

plumber

Smelly no. 2

Shook his hand”

Below is Graham my neighbour and his truck Emily who we camped next to and kindly helped us with all the manly camping things we didn’t know how to do or had forgotten.

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Anyway here is the 35th story:

The air was thick, almost unbreathable. Horrors rose up from the porcelain valleys that day. Rumour had spread of one man who might save the surrounding community. When he arrived I noticed his weapons were small and underwhelming. But he fought bravely, plunging straight into the beast and cleansing the area of evil. When he came out I thanked him on behalf of the Woodford people. I shook his hand and felt a warm sticky layer between our hands; the last remaining remnants of that frightful mess that lay beneath the seat. All hail the man they call “the Plumber”.