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.

 

Melancholic Tuesday

Melancholic Tuesday

chess-eyes

In the library old men play at chess; polite handshakes, gently murmured notes of victory and defeat.

I take the long way home, darkness at five o’clock. Empty pavements, October roses, soft tread on leaves that smell of childhood. Past lighted sitting rooms, bonfire night poster tied to railings. Could be the sixties but for the old hospital newly converted; cars sit in ambulance bays, fitted kitchen where once the night nurse penned a love letter in a circle of soft light.

You never wanted to be an old man, gave up chess; never owned a dressing gown.

Well, you got your wish.

Miranda Lewis 2018

I love this time of year. The garden has (almost) been put to bed, clocks have gone back and ’tis the season for night walking and glancing into lighted windows – for the melancholic, to be fitted in between Hallowe’en and the first, way-too-cheerful Christmas trees going up.

As it’s Wednesday welcome to Friday Fiction hosted as ever by the writer Rochelle. Thanks to Jeff Arnold for the photo, to all who visit and most especially  to those who stay to comment.

And if you fancy a quick melancholic read my novella, Dream Girl, is still staggeringly good value at only 99p. Who says nothing stays the same?

dream girl cover right size

In a dream I strolled barefoot in a quiet garden

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In a dream I strolled barefoot in a quiet garden…

Ducking beneath roses, I escaped a glittering gathering behind mullioned windows and wandered alone amongst beds peopled with purple allium. I hailed a laburnum drunk with blossom and traced a hidden path beside a buttercup bank.

In a meadow a blackbird peeped at my intrusion and cows gathered at the fence to say, ‘Nobody is allowed, except our friend the solitary gardener.’

Now he has locked his modest shed and gone. But look around and he is everywhere, in root and leaf and sky. And in his dreams does he still tramp the lawns and greet the trees he tended?

Miranda Lewis 2018

Welcome to 100-word Friday Flash Fiction, hosted each week by the talented writer Rochelle. (Get a sneak preview of here novel in progress here.) Thanks to the appropriately named Nathan Sowers for this week’s photo prompt.

Where else could I go this week, but out into the garden? But not just any garden; this dream garden is based on the real garden tended for the past decade by the Anxious Gardener. You can read his final, wistful farewell to this particular garden on his blog here, and also catch a glimpse of some beautiful photos, including that drunk laburnum.

For more tales from Friday Fictioneers stick your trowel in here.

You can even find me in the garden here on Instagram, if that’s not one click too many.

Thanks!

Tidying Up After

ronda-del-boccio

Tidying Up After

You left early, mid-sentence; grass uncut, the bird table you were attempting to mend face down on the patio. Mind you, you tidied away that last bottle to the very last drop.

Back home, I have taken to washing up teaspoons, burning old postcards, composting diaries.  Don’t be alarmed; I am but a finger’s stretch closer to the shadows. I won’t say anything significant, at least until I’ve cleared this cupboard.

My partner on the other hand is accumulating wood and screws, enough to open a hardware shop. Or build an arc. Or in the event, our coffins. Now that’s tidy.

Miranda Lewis, 2018

(Genre: unreliable memoir)

Welcome readers and writers to Friday Fiction, hosted by the indefatigable, inestimable Rochelle, with thanks to Ronda Del Boccio for the photo prompt. Now you might be thinking it isn’t Friday and this isn’t really fiction, but on the other hand it is 100 words.

Thanks to all who visit and most especially those who stay to comment. To graze on a whole pasture of stories click here.

The Princess without the Pea

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The Princess without the Pea

Camping with ancestors you call it: corridors, attics, cellars; god knows how many bedrooms.

Mornings Gavel carries scalding tea up creaking flights to the bedroom, where we lie buried under heaps of eiderdowns. Through ice-frosted glass I look out over snow-blanketed fields to the far horizon. Not a soul.

Each afternoon I neglect to pack my suitcase.

Dinner is sardines with champagne in front of the fire, scent of mothballs rising from my stole, once owned, you claim, by a duchess who ran away with the under-groomsman.

Far away in a suburban cul-de-sac, a phone rings into the silence of my spotless house.

Miranda Lewis 2018

Welcome to Friday Flash Fiction!

We have not had real snow this year in London, for which I feel both grateful and jealous. Thanks to Dale Rogerson for the lovely photo and to our host Rochelle who travels the world of Friday Fiction through all seasons, all weathers.

Thanks to all who stop by to read and most especially to those who stay to comment.

For anyone interested this is a companion piece to this Friday Fiction, written almost a year ago. I’m not a quick worker!

Happy New Gardening Year

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Happy New Gardening Year

A trip outside the post-Christmas fug to the compost bin reveals green shoots in sodden soil: the promise of snowdrops, the loveliest of flowers. The days lengthen, the world renews itself despite our dulled perception it is otherwise.

To plant a garden is to open oneself to sweet celebration – spring tulips and forget-me-nots, summer lavender and roses – but also disappointment, failures, the need to shrug and carry on.

For whatever, after summer will come the dying days of autumn – pruning, leaf gathering, the fragrant harvest of rot and decay. Until, once more, that long deep sigh of winter.

Miranda Lewis 2017

I’m either very late to Friday Fiction or just in time to wish Friday fiction contributors and all who visit a very happy and productive new year. May your adjectives be apt and your adverbs few. Thanks as ever to our host Rochelle and to Ted Strutz for the photo.

And of course, good gardening. My resolution for 2018 – lots of flowers (always!) but more vegetables too.

2017-04-15 11.42.27

 

In the beginning was the sheep…

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In the beginning was the sheep…

How far back to go? To fleeces washed and combed, dyes of blackberry and onion skin? Or further still, to grass and rain and starlight, the endless chewing of the cud?

Come now, past carding, twisting and beyond to the clacking of the needles – eyes bright behind perched spectacles –  those numerous episodes of Midsomer Murders.

Oh joy in the unwrapping! Behold the snugness of the fit. Glory in the crowning splendour of the pom-pom!  ‘Thanks Grandma!’  Then, miracle of miracles – the first soft flakes of snow.

Praise Christmas knitters everywhere and peace to woolly hat wearers near and far.

Miranda Lewis 2017

Welcome to Friday Fiction hosted by the talented writer Rochelle. Thanks also to Bjorn Rudberg for the great photo. Thanks to all who visit and most especially to those who stay to comment. Hats off to Friday Fictioneers gathered here. Please visit and comment widely!

Underneath the Chestnut Tree

 

tree-sandra-crook

Underneath the Chestnut Tree

(Genre: historical fiction)

Amy arrived at the barn flustered, cheeks flaming almost to the colour of her hair. The lambing man’s face in contrast was grey with exhaustion.

For once her words were bold, urgent.

‘The meadow, courting corner; ewe caught in the hawthorn hedge.’

His thoughts were muddy with lack of sleep.

‘Courting, caught?’

‘Under the old Chestnut. She’s birthing a lamb.’

It was the word lamb that did it. He rose, shaking himself to wakefulness.

‘Pass me them sacks,’ he said.

He took her hand and pulled her with him into the yard.

‘You’ve the hands of a midwife at any rate.’

Miranda Lewis 2017

Welcome to Friday Fiction and hello again after a bit of a hiatus. Thanks as always to our host, the writer Rochelle, whose own story can be found here, along with all the rules of play and Friday Fictioneers from around the globe. Thanks to Sandra Crook for the photo. (Realised I could have put a crook in the story, Sandra! Take the shepherd’s crook as read.)

(Please respect photographer’s and writers’ copyright. Join in, read and comment on other stories, but please do not use the photo for any other purpose than Friday Fiction.)