Dinner and Delusion

restaurant

Dinner and Delusion

You should have seen their faces.

Gavel parked the Rolls outside the restaurant – more of a pub really. He held the door and I lifted my silk gown high over the melting snow. We’d already had a cheeky sherry and giggled our way inside, Stefan so handsome in that old suit with the lapels.

I quickly realised how drunk Stefan actually was – a sherry or half a bottle of vodka? He could hardly sit up, let alone order. So much for our romantic dinner.

What was it that girl said to me? ‘You with Steve?’ ‘Stefan,’ I corrected and she laughed out loud.

Miranda Lewis 2020

Welcome to Friday Fiction and to my 100-word tale that can be read alone, or indeed in a small gathering of family members or friends isolating together. It can also be read as the third in a series, the first episode written in February 2017 and the second in February 2018. If I’m planning on turning this into a novel I probably won’t live long enough.

On that cheery thought, if you have been reading thank you. Do come right in and comment.

For safe travel around a world of stories click here. Many thanks as ever to our host Rochelle. And to Dale all hale for the snowy scene. (And actually Dale if you’re visiting, you also provided the snowy photo back in February 2018.)

Notes for Writers of Historical Twentieth Century Fiction

Notes for Writers of Historical Twentieth Century Fiction

writers-life

1.2 Social Interaction

Greetings: during the twentieth century people greeted each other with handshakes, hugs, upper arm grabbing and kissing on various facial parts, including the lips. (Huge potential for disease transference and death of minor characters.)

Alcohol: could be consumed in restaurants, pubs, parks and other public spaces. This could lead to carousing, sentimentality, revealing of vital plot secrets, dancing on tables and break up of superfluous relationships  in which the writer has lost interest.

Relationships: the following were possible precursors to marriage – hand holding, dinner dates, getting carried away during the polka, long lingering looks, sexual congress and actual countryside walks.

Miranda Lewis 2020

Day 3 of London lockdown and I’m reading, writing, gardening – what’s not to love? All very ordinary; all very strange.

Greetings Friday Fiction buddies around the world (no kisses of course, except virtual ones) and many thanks to Rochelle to whom I raise a glass of red – or I will later since it’s still early afternoon here and standards must be maintained. (photo copyright Jeff Arnold)

Stay well my friends. x

(For previous nonsense writers’ handbook entries click here.)

Pretending to Care

This short story was written as part of a writing project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and associated with the Sutton (South London) Past on Glass project.

The story is based on one of the thousands of images of local people taken by photographer David Knights-Whittome, between 1904 and 1918. To find out more about the discovery and preservation of this amazing local archive of places, events and most of all the local residents of Sutton, visit the Past on Glass wordpress blog.

Below is the lovely Miss Daly, photographed in 1905, who inspired my story for the project. I don’t know Miss Daly’s first name, but to me she is, now and forever, my little Iris.

Pretending to Care is entirely fictional and is not based on any real people, places or events.

Pretending to Care

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Chestnut Avenue Care Home, 2010

They like to pretend they care. That’s why it’s called a care home, I suppose.

Yesterday it was the one with the eyebrows serving the mess they call lunch.

I’d have been an opera singer, if it hadn’t been for the war.

That’s interesting, Iris, she said.

She couldn’t care any less if she tried. Thinks I don’t know the difference.

Chocolate pudding, Iris dear.

It’s the skinny one today.

Thank you, I say. My favourite.

This one at least has a bit more wit behind the orange war paint. It used to be the thing to be pale. A lady stayed out of the sun. All nonsense of course. Bodies, appearance; all vanity. All useless in the end.

Is it your favourite, Iris? Chocolate pudding, really?

No idea, I reply.

Body worn out, or almost; mind like a frayed ribbon.

So what’s the tastiest pudding in the whole wide world? If you could have anything you wanted. Have a think, Iris.

I can’t help giving a snort. But I never did like to disappoint people. A people pleaser they call it nowadays, as if it’s a condition, a bad thing. Perhaps they’re right.

Parties, I say. Birthday parties.

Me too, I love parties, she says. So what food did you have? Jelly? Trifle?

Blind man’s bluff, I say. And piggy-in-the-middle.

She kneels down on the floor next to my chair and pats my hand.

Shall we go back there? See what’s for tea?

As I said, I like to please. She looks so keen, I can’t just tell her to get lost, can I?

Sardines all over the house. Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s.

Presents too. Nicest one ever was a fur coat, soft as a kitten’s paw, from my dear Papa. A gorgeous fluffy hat to match. I was as cosy as an Eskimo. Papa tweaked my cheek and sent me down to the drawing room to show all the family. ‘Look at Iris!’ my brother Lionel shouted when I trotted in, so eager to please the gathering of aunts and uncles. ‘She’s a roly-poly Swiss roll, with a mighty meringue on the top!’ They all laughed of course. It’s what grown-ups do. I can still see their vile faces. Double chins wobbling, false teeth rattling. And the children laughing too. Fat cousin Francis with his tiny eyes shining, like buttons stitched into a cushion. Even my adored mother smiled, though she pretended not to when I hid my face in her lap.

I wake with a jolt. The skinny one is shaking my shoulder.

Wakey-wakey, Iris! Naughty thing, you fell asleep on me. We’ll never find that favourite pudding!

Meringue, I say. A huge, fluffy white meringue.

That’s wonderful. You remembered. Shall we see if we can make it for you sometime?

I nod. This one really does care. Gets it all wrong of course, but she tries.

I never could stand my brother Lionel. He was a bully to the core. Christmas, summer, I’d count the days until he went back to school. I found a baby rabbit once, kept it in a box in the gardener’s hut. It wouldn’t have lasted I suppose, poor little motherless thing, but I loved it nonetheless. Lionel let the dog in deliberately. Bit its neck right through. Baby rabbit head left on the floor for me to find.

The day Lionel went for good it felt as if the whole house sighed with relief. I can picture him now, suddenly apprehensive in his officer’s uniform. Would the bully be bullied, or worse? I covered my face with Papa’s handkerchief to hide the fact that I didn’t care if I never saw him again.

So you see there’s nothing new you can teach me; I know all there is to know about pretending to care.

Miranda Lewis 2017

Exit Stage Left

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Exit Stage Left

I still like to look my best – my red coat with the high collar, a decent heel. It’s a smaller audience nowadays of course, but there’s the usual flutter of applause, the appreciative twitter. I bow my coiffured head in acknowledgement and reach for the rail to descend the stairs.

 

‘You’ve gone really pale.’

‘It’s that old crow at the end house. Says here she slipped and died in her own garden.’

‘What was she doing outside in this weather?’

‘Feeding the birds, it says. She was an understudy to the stars, there’s an old photo.’

‘Wow, what a beauty!’

Miranda Lewis 2020

Well this is a first, sending out my Friday Flash Fiction on the Wednesday…

Greetings to all those stepping out around the world and most especially to our leading lady, Rochelle who also provides the photo this week.

Thanks to all who visit and especially those who stay to comment.

Once a Teacher…

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Once a Teacher…

After more than thirty years of teaching – passing on the intricacies of arithmetic, explaining the wonders of algebra, illuminating the paradoxical properties of polygons – I am ready for a restful retirement. I have loved teaching, but it’s a tough job that needs courage and commitment.

At the kitchen window I sip my tea. In the Autumn sunshine birds are singing fit to burst, but somewhere out there I know towns are flooding, forests are burning. We are at war with our own world. And war needs courage – education, love, courage and commitment. We can’t ignore it.

Always a teacher…

Miranda 2019

It’s Friday already so I’m rocking up late at Friday Fiction. (It’s difficult to explain I know…) And as seems to happen these days the real world has intruded and I am all out of fiction.

Thanks to Roger Bultot for the strange and wonderful photo in which I immediately saw a polygon with all its external angles beautifully illuminated. You can take the teacher out of the school….I do still see Maths everywhere (and I do love a polygon!) but I also see other things outside my window these days and they feel more urgent.

Thanks as ever to Rochelle and to all the Friday crew.

Devils or Angels?

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Devils or Angels?

There are devils everywhere, stirring up trouble, turning young minds and compelling them to acts of disruption and stupidity. The old are infected also, and mothers whose instincts should be to nurture not alarm. Their fuel is anger, jealousy, resentment of your ordered lives. Guard your pride, lock your doors and windows, check your own children are safe inside.

There are angels in the streets. Their feathers are sometimes ruffled and their flight not always true. But look into their eyes, if you dare, and feel their fierce love. Be curious, be bold, be afraid because maybe you are an angel too.

Miranda Lewis 2019

Welcome to Friday Fiction hosted by our own angel, Rochelle who also provides the photo this week.

The streets of London have been disrupted these past two weeks by the noise and confusion of climate crisis protests. This time last week I walked those beautiful car-free streets and strolled through a peaceful park full of tents to see for myself. Devils or angels? I know what I believe.

Thanks to all who visit and especially to those who stay and comment. Visit other fictioneers here.

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Steam Trains and Bunting

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Steam Trains and Bunting, Red Flannel Petticoats and Buns for Tea

The 1970 film of the Railway Children (with the lovely Jenny Agutter as teenage Bobby/Roberta) transported me to the Edwardian countryside for a spiffing adventure of mild peril and temporary muddles.

Thirty years later Jenny Agutter played the mother in a television version. Are you enjoying it? I asked my small son. Yes, but Bobby is being very silly and pretending to be the mum. Confusing!

One day maybe, I’ll stoke up the old video player and chug off on a nostalgic journey with my grandchildren. And for Bobby’s famous line – Daddy, my Daddy! – it will be hankies all round once again.

Miranda Lewis 2019

(Genre: unreliable memoir)

Welcome to Friday Flash Fiction! (Yes I do know it’s still Thursday and I am aware this isn’t really fiction.) A big brass-band-and-bunting thanks to our host Rochelle and a wave from the platform to Sandra Crook who supplied the photographic inspiration.

Steam trains will always conjure up E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children for me: girls in white pinafores and ribbons, boys in britches and caps; happy endings and of course those buns for tea.

Thanks to all who visit and most especially to those who stay to comment. For a world of other stories step aboard here.

Spoiler alert, this is that famous tear-jerker of a scene form the 1970 film (Jenny Agutter as Bobby)…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkHTT3dJL9E

And actually I won’t even need to preserve my old video of the 2000 TV version because it’s here in its entirety. An hour and a half well spent I’d say! (Confusingly Jenny Agutter as the Mum!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3zO0zm5FTU

 

Notes for Writers of Historical 1960s British Fiction

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Notes for Writers of Historical 1960s British Fiction

1.1 Telephonic communication

In the sixties to locate a person you phoned their home; if they were out you rang later. (Location privacy presents obvious plot opportunities for writers of crime and romantic fiction.)

Red phone boxes (found on most street corners) contained a book listing the names, addresses and phone numbers of absolutely everyone. (Huge potential here.)

Whilst sheltering from the perpetual rain, sixties teenagers enjoyed making prank calls from phone boxes. The false-alarm, reversed-charge call to fraught parents was popular.

All spies and boy scouts were taught to make unlimited free calls from phone boxes, using a crocodile clip and the reverse-dialling method.

Miranda Lewis 2019

It’s Friday already so I’m a bit late phoning in my copy to the Friday fiction party.

All hail to Rochelle who keeps us going through all weathers. And thanks to Susan Eames for the photo.

By the way, all of the above is true and my Dad (a boy scout, not as far as I know a spy) did explain the secret of how to reverse dial with a crocodile clip. (It exploited the fact that emergency calls were free from phone boxes.) However, he was such an upright honest person he only explained once dial phones were obsolete.

PS Did anyone else have a telephone table/bench in their house? Ours was under the open-plan 1960s staircase, with a place to sit, a shelf for the phone and space for phone books.

My Life in a Nutshell

 

piano-anshuMy life in a Nutshell

My mother was a nut – a walnut. When my beautiful, polished form first adorned the drawing room I was joined by matching walnut bureau and piano stool. Alas, my mistress was consumptive and my master broke.

After the bailiff’s visit I adjourned to the pub, a lowering of status compensated by variety. Contemplative days followed by evenings of carousing and company. One penniless student of composition spoiled me forever with his sweet sad caresses.

Nowadays it’s just me, the woodlice and a tickling of marigold roots. I’ll not complain; we all return to the good earth one way or another.

Miranda Lewis 2019

It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock and it’s time for Friday Flash Fiction hosted by the esteemed Rochelle and this week adorned with a photo by Anshu Bhojnagarwala.

Thanks to all who visit and most especially to those who stay to comment.

 

Since ewe asked…

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Since ewe asked…

How’s it going? Pretty well, thank you. But then I’ve never been one for dairy, well not in a while anyway. It’s easy peasy actually – very few decisions, even less washing up and lots and lots of lovely relaxing chewing. Munch, munch and munch; regurgitate and munch all over again.

Lots of greens obviously. And when greens are a bit scarce, dried greens. So basically, your greens and your browns. And just look at me! Bright eyes, beautiful woolly coat. What’s not to like @veganuary!

PS Just don’t ask me about dry January.

Miranda 2019

What a lovely picture.Thank you Crispina over at Crimson’s Creative Challenge #11.