This week the Sunday Scribblers are wrapping the mind around the word phenomenon. Which led to this very French contribution. I'm not sure if folks in other parts of the world are aware of what's going on here, but I hope you will enjoy this anyway.

Robbie slept soundly that night. So much so that he didn't wake until well after 8 a.m. Today was the day he'd lived for all year. Ever since the news first broke that this year's race would be coming right through their village and that the final time trial would be around the lake in the next valley, he couldn't talk or think of anyone else. Almost every year it was on this stage where the tour was won and lost. And he would be there, in the front line. Together with his uncle, his parents had finally been able to raise enough money to rent one of the small cabins on the final straight before the finish. It was to be a combined christmas and birthday present for that year. But then he would have given a decade of christmas and birthday presents to be present at this year's tour.

It could be said Robbie had been born on a cycle. If the truth were known his mother had merely been ridden to the village clinic on the back of his dad's well-worn *** some 2 hours before his birth. He had been cycling ever since he first succeeded in raising himself up on two feet. Walking was still hazardous, but he whizzed around on that little toy bycicle like a champion and it wasn't long before he got his first real cycle. There was no stopping him then. Even the village club's unwritten rule that foreigners were not welcome, rescinded at the sight of his enthusiasm and commitment. His room was papered with posters of tour champions past and present. But pride of place went to Tommy Simpson, his fellow countryman - one who never made it to the finish but whose grit and determination led to his death whilst wearing that coveted yellow jersey during one of the most gruelling stages in race history. Could he Robbie ever emulate that great man's courage?

This year's race promised much. It promised to be one of the most open races ever. Anyone of a number of cyclists could take final victory this time. And very soon, one man set tongues buzzing. A climber! Could this year's race really go to a climber? A rare, if not unknown occurrence. Then, the news broke. One rider after another fell disgraced by the wayside until the inevitable happened. Even the great climber had had to succumb. It came as a surprise to no one, apparantly. But it devasted Robbie. And worse, was still to come as he took refuge in his books on the history of the tour, only to discover that similar substances had probably contributed to the death of his hero all those many years ago, during that last, fateful stage.

So Robbie slept soundly that night. He didn't wake until well after 8 a.m., far too late to go down to the lake to see the riders start. It was a day like any other, yet not quite like any other. For the first time in years, Robbie's bike stayed locked up in the garage. The commemorative, yellow jersey he had meant to wear, remained folded neatly in his wardrobe. He would never wear it again. But the same fate would not befall his bicycle. Tommorrow would be an new day. New riders would come. Riders for whom cycling and not money would be the first love. And they would do battle with all those who had brought their sport into disrepute. And Robbie would be one of them.


I've never been strong on dialogue. Perhaps, it would be better to say I haven't really attempted writing dialogue very much because I'm not too sure how to go about it. So this week's Fiction Friday prompt is a welcome challenge. We have to use the afoot in a dialogue. I'll be grateful for any suggestions for improvement.


Dave picked up the phone. He took a deep breath before dialling the number.

“Joe ? It’s Dave here. I’m very sorry about this but I’ve a foot of snow blocking my driveway. The authorities are advising people not to use the road down into the valley until it has been cleared and gritted. I’m afraid I’m not going to make it to the meeting.”

“But that’s impossible! You know how important this meeting is for us. You’ve conducted all the negotiations from the beginning. You’ve just got to be here.”

Dave tried to calm things down.

“Well, I’m really sorry but I can’t see any way how I can get down there today, short of sending in a chopper to get me out of here. I’m afraid, you’ll have to manage without me.”

He was grateful that Joe didn’t ask what had made him spend the weekend up on the plateau when everyone knew snow was forecast.

“Maybe you could get Florian to stand in for me? He accompanied me now and again during the negotiations, and he knows some of the TOMALS staff.”

“Florian! Are you kidding? That guy puts a foot in it every time he opens his mouth. He’s a greater liability than some of our worst enemies. Well, I guess there’s nothing for it but to meet the TOMALS directors myself. But stay by the phone in case we need to get in touch. And that’s an order!”

Dave hung up and was immediately joined by his wife.


“I’m not sure. I have a feeling Joe suspects something’s afoot. He didn’t seem too happy, especially when I recommended Florian to replace me.”

“Yes, he’s not over fond of my brother. Never has been. But he’ll have no choice.”

“Far from it, he’s taking over operations himself.”

A light gleamed in her eyes as she moved towards the cocktail cabinet and poured out two large whiskies.

“That, my darling husband is exactly what we had been hoping for. With or without Florian the talks will break down. Let me be the first to drink the health of VEENA’s new managing director.”

The investment

This is my somewhat belated contribution to the three word wednesday web meme. For more information go here.

Johann had the question tied down and answered before any of the other canditates had even had time to think through its implications. That was his way. He never left any room for doubt. Maybe, that was why he wasn't all that popular among his fellow students, especially in these days when openness of mind and doubting everything were the prevailing fashion in academic circles. But he had always been a fan of the old school. He knew what the thought and he thought what he knew. That, for him, was reality. Until... Until he picked up this instrument sitting on his desk. In just one small minute his whole universe was blown open. His mind still reeledat the discovery. A tube, a few mirrors, some coloured glass. It all seemed so simple. It could be explained scientifically, logically. But the moment he picked up this instrument, he forgot all about scientific explanations. Logic melted into the beauty of creativity he couldn't even begin to understand. Worse still, he didn't want to begin to understand. He just wanted to marvel. And his paper remained blank. Right up to the very last minutes of the exam. And all that Johann managed to scribble down in the end was the word "mystery."

Scott watched Johann leave the room amazement written all over his face. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined his small investment paying off such wonderful dividends. The job was his. Johann was confounded. All because of a cheap 2 pound kaleidoscope.

Sunday scribblers have all taken a turn for the worse this week as they are all writing wicked. You may have seen my first contribution below but I wanted to have a go at a fictional take on the topic. So here it is. And you can find more wickedness by clicking here... at your own risk, of curse.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Sunday was the one day in the week Julie looked forward to. Not because he could stay in bed, relax, do all those things he didn't have time for during the week. No! Sunday was the day she could at last become her true self. Monday to Saturday she was that sweet little nurse in her prim uniform, flitting from bed to bed, doing what she could to make life a little easier on her patients. Life on the terminal ward of the city hospital was pretty close to hell. Yet Julie's presence brought a whiff of paradise amidst all the suffering. Which is why everyone loved Julie. Everyone, except Julie herself. Which is why Julie lived for Sundays.

On Sundays Julie became Popesc - the poisonous pen scribbler, anonymity guaranteed. Getting up at 6 a.m. she went through her weekly riual, spraying her computer keyboard with the foulest smelling atomizer she could find, dying her fingers green and disfiguring that loathsome portrait of a happy, smiling face that took pride of place on her desk. Every Sunday evening, her appetite satiated, she make another print of that photo just so as to be able to disfigure it again the following week. The ritual over Popesc prepared her fare for the day: three large packets of crisps, a heap of carrots and a bottle of wine.

Julie hated Sundays. Yet, she could not live without them. It was the one focus that got her through the week. She felt a rush of adreline go through her body as her computer screen came to life. Two clicks of the mouse and she was ready to begin. She already knew what this week's prompt was. Indeed, she had already written her own slippery story in answer. But today it was not the prompt that concerned her but the replies. She scrutinized the list of those who had already posted their links. She would begin with those she knew were unsure of themselves. They were the easy ones. In this way she would gradually work herself up into a passion of rage and torment so as to attack the most assured of all the writers. Today, everything was easy. The venom raced through her blood and into her fingers. Her commentaries were bound to make people feel crummy. She was already receiving complaints in reply. But those were like water off a duck's back. The more one complained, the more she knew her venom was working. A quick break for another glass and some crisps and off we go again.

Julie never wondered about why she needed Sundays so much. And the one time during the week she became angry was whenever anyone had asked her what she was doing on Sunday. It hadn't happened often but whenever it did it left a lot of astonishment in its wake as Julie hit the roof and then disappeared without trace for the rest of the day. It was now almost midday and Julie was getting well into her stride. She demolished one aspiring writer in a particularly deft manner. Julie was convinced she would never be scribbling again. Then came another attempt to get her thrown out of the community. She merely laughed at the warning letter. They could throw her out if they wanted. She would be back. A new username, a new profile. They just couldn't keep up.

Julie had never really had a relationship with anyone to speak of. Of course, a lot of the young men tried to get her to a date. But Julie didn't want a quick drink, a nice smile on the way home, a kiss on the doorstep and a hop into bed. She valued people and relationships too much to be seduced by that quick fix approach. So the only person she enjoyed being with was Ricky. Ricky was the type of person you wouldn't go out with. He was too friendly. He would never have plucked up the courage to ask Julie out, anyway. But they enjoyed being together in a friendly kind of way. Towards 2 p.m. things started getting tougher. These people were stronger and less vulnerable. It all all her skill to get to them. This was the challenge she relished the most. It gave her the opportunity to hone her skills and go beyond what she had learnt to date. She didn't win them all but she always came away richer from the experience. It was after these commentaries that Julie began to look forward to her evening's reading. This was her way of winding down. Today, she would read the book Ricky had lent her. It seemed quite intriguing, the perfect end to a day of spiteful malice. And tomorrow she would be up refreshed and with a renewed vigour ready to face up to another week at the clinic.

Rick had had absolutely no ulterior motives in giving that book to Julie. He had found it a good, if sometimes dark, read. They had often talked about what they were reading. But this was the first time he had lent her a book. Julie picked up the book and started to relax. Her eyes wandered eagerly over the opening paragraphs and pages. But she couldn't relax. It was a strange book. She couldn't make out the hero's name. Was it Jekyll or was it Hyde? She read on.

Julie turned up for work over an hour late the next day. And she looked aweful. She had obviously been crying. That fact alone set the tongues off wagging. All the patients wondered which young man had broken her heart so. Some even haboured secret amibitions of replacing him and mending that fragile, shattered heart. If the truth were known... But it never will be known. All I can say is Julie accepted joyfully Ricky's invitation to a lakeside concert Sunday afternoon. She even invited him to lunch at her parents' restaurant first. She so dreaded what might happen that first Sunday. She needed to be with someone.


We react in different ways to the wickedness around us. Some, especially those who have suffered in some way as a result of wickedness, become bitter and acerbic. In others, it brings out a courage in the face of adversity, they never knew was there. Some look around and see wickedness everywhere. Maybe, they would sometimes profit from a look into their own hearts and minds. But what is the goodof blindly refusing to see any wickedness in our world in a fashion that would rival any head in the sand ostrich.

Yet there is one who has reacted quite differently towards the wickedness in our world. He didn't stay outside raising his finger and scolding us, neither did he pass instructions in how to live from his nice clean little house in the sky. He came into the depths of our world, those depths we live in every day. He got his hands dirty righting the wrongs I and millions like me have inflicted on our fellow beings. And not only that. He even went as far as to offer his own life as the only means to create peace between ourselves and our creator; a creator who did not intend us to turn out the way we did, a creator who abhors the wickedness he finds in our once so perfect world.

But his achievement is not just more of the same with some forgiveness thrown in for good measure. Far from it. His death released a life-giving power which can change us and make us new people reconciled to our creator, reconciled to each other ― a force for good in this beautiful and ugly world.

Light Dawning

This week's Fiction Friday's prompt:

Pick one item from each column. Roughly sketch out a short scene that includes the character you selected and the situation you selected. The scene should begin or end with one of the characters performing the action you selected. Don't be too literal--there is creative leeway as long as the building blocks are still recognizable. This scene should be generally compatible with your character from last week's challenge whom you can discover here.

Character: an extraordinarily lazy artist
Situation: finds out his/her mother is cheating on his/her father
Action: punches a clown

Jennifer checked through each of her canvases before leaving the house. She was excited at the prospect of so many ideas and felt sure that more than one of them would sell. True, the market for surrealist paintings was decreasing right now, but these were such special ideas. She cherished each one of them and in her imagination saw them splattered all over the canvases she had prepared. One day she would conjure up the energy to actually transfer the best ideas to canvas. But that would be a shame. Putting an idea onto canvas was so concrete and surrealism was repelled by the concrete. It thrived on ideas and imaginings but the moment they became real, they just weren't surreal any more. So she put the canvases, all bearing the familiar signature Jennifer Surreal, back in their familiar corner and left for the gallery. She knew better than to affront Jules Mainard-Brandsniff with white canvases. He wouldn't pay a penny more than what it required to have her ejected from his office. But since one has to eat, she would visit his gallery first to see if there wasn't something in there she might persuade him to buy. Indeed, he had so many paintings and a memory that was as short as his eyesight that all that was required was the right dose of conviction in her voice to persuade him that this particular work belonged nowhere else than where it was hanging right now. Mind you, the Mainard-Brandsniffs of this world were no dupes. This particular speciment might be stupid enough to buy a painting he already owned, but he would pay any price for it. She would have to be at her most seductive in her own offputting way.

Arriving at the gallery Jennifer found she had more or less the run of the place. Just two other art lovers were there plus the security guards who looked very much like some classical sculptures of Mr. Mainard-Brandsniff's predecessors. Wandering round her attention was caught by a new acquisition, not even painted by her, which she had never seen before. A man and a woman shaking hands in front of an upside down cup of tea. From the way their fingertips met it was obvious, that they would soon subsitute the tea for a bottle of wine, and let everything else come as it must. Jennifer examined the painting closely. This was the work of a real genius. It would be easy persuading Mr. Mainard-Brandsniff to buy it. Yet, as Jennifer looked, the two figures began to swim about in her mind. She looked again with a vague feeling of familiarity and it was not long before she recognised the portraits of her mother and father on the canvas before her.

Jennifer was devasted. Tears rolled down her face and burnt large holes into the ground where they fell, so bitterly acid were they. How on earth could her father do this to her? His marriage vow to love and cherish anyone other than his wife, was so sacred. How could he be so mean? She stormed out of the gallery into the crowded streets. She had to let out steam somehow. Anything! Anyone! But it must be right now.

The clown on the street corner didn't even see the glove as it struck directly between his knees. But the impact sent him reeling. The blood sppurted out in different colours trickled up to his face adding a realistic touch of his circus makeup. The flyers he'd been giving out flew in all directions. Jennifer grabbed hold of one as it blew past. Grand Opening, it announced in bold invisible letters. Jennifer was devasted and amazed. It was only now she realised that the clown upon whom the boxing glove had reeked such a horrifying revenge, had been none other than Mr. Jules Mainard-Brandsniff, art-connaisseur, gallery owner and her secret benefactor. And the Grand Opening was for her very own show to be entitled Shades of White. So the man in the picture had not been her father after all. It was Jules and he was in love with her. Chastened by this truth and unable to cope with the emotions of the last half hour, Jennifer sought a lonely sanctuary at the bottom of her favourite wine bottle where no one would find her.

Sunday Scribblers are letting down their hair this week and this provoked the following chidlhood memory.

I often wondered what he must have looked like. And since that day I've never experienced the desire to become a hairdresser. But for a few brief minutes the bug hit me and I couldn't resist it, especially once my tools actually started working.

I was just five at the time, so this really does go back very many years. My mother needed to go shopping and my brother and myself were playing happily with each other, so she didn't want to take us along. She would only be out of the house some 15 minutes anyway. The game that absorbed us so long was that of haircutting. We had been given a toy barber's set to play with. I think it must have been one of our favourite toys because I remember playing with it quite often. It was all plastic and consisted of two combs, a pair of scissors and a small hand mirror. I was in the chair and my three year old brother was deftly finishing off his handiwork before letting me take over the reins. Well, when I did, I soon grew quite restless. The scissors weren't cutting as they should. I don't know why that should bother me on that particular day as it had never bothered me before, but it did. So I went off in search of a remedy to the problem. I'm sure you can imagine the consequences, as indeed I have to do because I honestly can't remember what happened next.

What I do remember is my pride at my handiwork. And then that look on my mother's face. I had bounded up to her the moment she came through the door, so full of myself. I wanted her to know what I had succeeded in doing. It was, after all, the first time that our barber's set had actually managed to give someone a proper haircut. I don't know what made my mother suspect something was not quite as it should be. Maybe I sported some tell tale hairs on my shirt. But the surprise and horror of that look she gave me sent me racing to my favourite hideaway where I stayed for a good long time.

Postscript: What had made matters worse, was that my brother was starting school for the first time just a few days later. And, apparantly, he did look quite a sight. My mother yanked him down to the local barber's - the proper one with real tools and hopefully a little more skill than I had - to try and get his hair tidied up a bit. I just wish I had a photo of him to share.


I've just come across the fiction friday blog meme. And wanted to try it out. But this week's prompt buids a little on last week's exercise. So below is my offering for last week's challenge in which we were asked to write a character sketch using odd names. The name I picked is Surreal.

Dear Unknown,

You ask who I am, what makes me tick. Well, here goes, but remember you asked for it. Let’s begin with the easy part – what I look like. Well, I am like most other people. Indeed! I have a head, an upper and lower body, arms, legs, feet, fingers, toes, eyes, ears, exactly like anyone else. The only difference is that mine aren’t necessarily in the same place that other people have them. Maybe, you should try and imagine me as a kaleidoscope. As you turn round me, I change. New aspects appear, others change their shape; limbs merge into others before re-emerging as something different. Confused? Don’t worry, everyone is. It doesn’t bother me in the least. And then there’s the colours. I bet you’re imagining all sorts of colours. A sort of feast of punkers all rolled into one body. Well, it’s not quite like that. Two colours suffice for me. One is the opposite of white and the other, the opposite of black. Maybe, you’ve never thought of this, but opposites attract, that’s why I much prefer them to drab, plain colours.

So, now we’ve got the easy part done, let’s go on to my personality. Psychologists have a habit of using many words where one will suffice. I’ll just give you the one: ME. Of course, which me I happen to be at any one time, that’s for you to discover. There’s the flashy me – the one that likes fast cars, works as an environmental officer, adores spraying insecticide around the house and splashes tomato ketchup on my TV whenever I watch a war film to increase the excitement and reality. Then there’s the quiet me. But I’m afraid you wouldn’t hear it if I told you so I’ll spare you the bother of trying. Because deep down, there’s the economical me. The economical me is quite famous actually. She got put in jail for defaulting on her debts some years ago and while out of prison saved the state enormous sums it would otherwise have had to have paid for her upkeep. Unfortunately, after years on the run, she became the athletic me, a sort of Forrest Gump of the sane. That was the me which won several gold medals; so many that when I melted down all the gold I managed to pay off all the debts of the economical me and never went to prison. So I never had to run and never became the athletic me. So I’m afraid to say, I still have all those debts. Still, if we really do hit it off together, you can take care of that.

Interested? I hope not. Because as I said, opposites attract. So it’s only if you find me utterly revolting that we have any chance of making it through like together. And I do hope so not perhaps, on tenterhooks, revoltingly, thinking, even if it’s not too late even for me.

Your very own Surreal

I was reading Lord of the Flies the other day and my thoughts started off on a tangent. So I scribbled this down in my notebook. I just wanted to see if I could try and recreate the feelings of someone in denial.

It was an accident. It had to have been an accident. Joseph could never have accepted any other solution. To have done so would have been to admit his own part in the incident. Even as a small child Joseph had trouble accepting his responsibility when something went wrong. He still remembered the first time he had hidden the truth. He had promised and forgotten to feed the dog before going to bed. What would happen now? His mother would see there was one tin too many. Slowly he got out of bed and crept on tiptoe down to the larder. He couldn't remember what he had done with the offending tin, but the relief he felt at not being caught, remained stamped on his memory these twenty years later. That was just the first of many incidents on the slippery road to denial.

Back in the present Joseph ran and reran the whole scene in his troubled mind. He did so with the skill of a film director cutting out all the incriminating parts to leave his conscience free. Yet a gnawing feeling of guilt never really left him. Deep down he knew that something wasn't as it should be. And in denying reality he was missing out on the one thing he longed for - peace of mind. All that was needed was for him to face up to his involvement, admit his fault and move on. The one thing he knew he could never face up to.


I've just got back from a long, lazy cycle ride with my wife. On our way we drove past something that set my imagination off ticking. And this is what I've come up with. Hope you like it. And for more slippery stories just visit the Scribblers website.

It was the best of days, but suddenly it almost became the worst of days. There I was basking lazingly in the sun, dreaming about all the frogs I would devour that evening, if only I could muster the energy to slide into the grass and catch them. True I was occasionally disturbed in my musings by the occasional passer by. But that was no real hassle. Humans know very little about snakes and so they usually stay well away. Even those who know, generally do little more than wake me with their excited babblings. I suppose I could slip away into the undergrowth for a bit more peace, but it's still wet and cold there and the tarmac here is so warm and cosy from underneath. I don't know why humans refer to us snakes as being cunning, slippery creatures. True when we slide along the ground in our oh so effortless way, we must look quite slippery. But to tell you the truth a lot of effort goes into that slippery impression, and so I'm staying put. At least, until I'm forced away.

* * * * *

We were riding along effortlessly in the bright, warms sun. After three days of hard slog and bad weather to boot, we decided today was going to be a pleasure ride. Anyway, we only had 15 kilometres to achieve that day, so there was no real need to exert ourselves. 15 kilometres alongside the canal through some of the most beautiful scenery we had passed through since leaving home. And so we lazed along the towpath, occasionally finding a burst of speed in our legs - like right now. Round the bend I went without a worry in the world. Then I saw it, far too late. It gave me the fright of my life and I pulled my front wheel round to avoid both it and certain death. Before I knew it, I had lost control of my bike and was sliding down the slippery path towards a very soft but wet landing. Well, you can imagine the hub of activity that followed my unwanted bath. Within seconds helping hands pulled me up onto the bank and not long afterwards my bike was also retrieved. But all I could do stand there shivering from fright and gibber about the near brush with death I had had. Snake, snake! That's the only word that found its way to my lips. Until the fright turned to shame as I became the butt of everyone's amusement. Yes, a common, harmless grass snake had made me ride headlong into the canal.

* * * * *

I couldn’t begin to describe that shock if I had all the words in the cunning snake’s dictionary of creative expressions. The worst thing about it was that it came upon me so quickly. And such a frightful monster as I have never seen. I just had time to withdraw my head as he thundered passed. Just a few seconds later and I would have been guillotined by the horrid creature with two thin round legs. With all my might I slithered away into the undergrowth and watched from the safety of some the long grass. What I saw amazed me. Far from being decapitated myself, I was that that creature had been sawn in two. But amazingly he still lived on. His upper half looked and moved exactly like a human did. And the other humans who had gathered around in the meantime, treated it as if it was human. But the bottom half, those round, thin legs were also hauled out of the water. They apparently were quite dead, because they lay perfectly still on the exact spot I had dreaming away my day just a few minutes earlier. What an escape I had had! And what a strange story to tell my fellow snake-scribblers next Sunday.

Why this blog?

A writer is meant to write as regularly as possibly. Now, there's no way I would call myself a professional writer, but I do like writing and want to begin to write more regularly if not more seriously. So I've got myself a writer's notebook and am beginning to discipline myself to write something daily. Now and again I'll lift something off this notebook and let it loose here on you, the unsuspecting public - all one or two of you who should happen by this way. If there's any interest so be it. Maybe, now and again someone would like to comment on what they find here. I'm looking for some kind but genuine criticism. As part of my job I have to speak a lot in public. I've also been told that I can put together a good story. But can I write? Does my writing hold people's interest? That's one of the things I want to find out. Because I'm considering taking a writing course, but only if there's some talent here to improve on. In addition, I'll also be using this to post some Sunday Scribblings. It's been a while since I participated, but I want to get back into the swing of this again.

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