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

 

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.

 

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

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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.

Camping for the Bourgeoisie

 

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Camping for the Bourgeoisie

The first year we bedded down in a tiny tent, the baby nestled between us.

Ten years later we’ve acquired:  three more children; a huge canvas castle; tables and chairs; three-ring gas cooker and ‘compact’ fridge; bikes and sand toys; tablets, board games and teddies. Fairy lights and bunting are inessential but fun. A bubble machine, bat detector and barbecue inspire admiration and envy in equal measure.

One day we’ll pack two mugs, a good knife and a hammock and head for the hills. In the meantime, I just have this load of washing to finish and a groundsheet to air.

(Genre; unreliable memoir)

Miranda Lewis, 2017

It’s been a while since I took part in Friday Fiction. Being under canvas when this week’s photo (copyright Jan Wayne Fields) was posted by our esteemed host, Rochelle, I couldn’t resist.

Camping is a strange beast. Once a cheap option for the shy, the adventurous, the lover of nature it has become a huge industry. It’s also a great way to people watch – on a busy campsite you can see almost everything that usually goes on behind closed doors (and probably hear everything you can’t see.)

To go right inside all those yurts, tepees, wigwams and tents of the world click here.

Here’s a comment from my friend Natalie who linked in from my facebook page. (Aren’t I just the social media butterfly!) This made me laugh: ‘Your story could be about my family. We started with all four of us in a little 2 man tent for a night in Poole. Ten years later we had a trailer tent with double mattresses, electricity, a fold out sofa, gas BBQ, fridge, gazebo…the works!’

Sheep Walks into a Diner

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Sheep Walks into a Diner

(A play for three characters: setting a diner.)

Sheep: Over here by the window, like a Dennis Hopper painting.

Squirrel: (Hooves on lino, chairs scraping.) Edward Hopper.

Sheep: Sorry? Anyway, I was thinking of pink for my fleece this Christmas.

Squirrel: Gods preserve us under glass cases.

Sheep: You really have absolutely no idea what it’s like for me do you.

Squirrel: I am officially vermin.

Sheep: But not part of the food chain.

Squirrel: Well some might disagree. And that nutcase president hasn’t helped – spitting image of the European red.

Waitress: What can I get you folks?

Squirrel: The pecan pie please.

Sheep: Is the chocolate milkshake gluten free?

Squirrel: You know what, pink would be lovely.

M J Lewis 2016

Here is my contribution to Friday Fiction – a cheeky 100 words, not including title and character names, but does include sound directions. For a world of fiction (probably, but not definitely, less surreal than mine) click here.

Thanks and best wishes for the holidays to our host Rochelle. Thanks also to Roger Bultot for the photo and to all who visit.

And a happy midwinter to all!

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Things My Grandmother Taught Me

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Things My Grandmother Taught Me

Lavender sprouted from my Grandmother’s fingertips and lilac nodded around her backdoor.

‘Let us pray,’ she’d say as she knelt, trowel in hand. ‘Amen, and one for the squirrel,’ was my cue to heave her up. Once we tumbled right over, her stick-thin frame cushioned by my stocky little body.

Today I’ve brought all her favourites – purple crocuses, alliums, tulips. I stick the fork into the rich soil and she raps on the window.

‘Who the heck are you?’ she hollers across the lawn.

The best thing about spring bulbs – you can plant them in hope or despair; they’ll bloom anyway.

M J Lewis 2016

It’s Friday already so I’m late for Friday Fiction. Thanks as ever to our talented host Rochelle and to C. E. Ayr for the beautiful photo. For more prose, purple and otherwise, click here. 

Purple is one of my favourite garden colours, so my brain took me straight out into the garden. But hoping somebody writes, or has written, a story about the creation of Henry Perkin’s purple dye, Mauveine. If nobody’s done so, might have to do it myself. It did create a sensation at the time, not unlike a version of tulip fever.

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Sixties Childhood

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Sixties Childhood

I’m old enough to remember those callers to the house who have now disappeared – the knife-sharpening man, the fizzy-pop man. Mostly men it seems, though once a traveller-woman persuaded my mother to part with a lovely summer dress.

After the brooms-and-mops man had called my mother would give me the sweet little sample tins of polish and I’d buff up the miniature piano in my dolls house.

Oddly the sitting-room in my doll’s house– polished piano, too many pictures on the walls and a large clock, made out of an old watch– very much resembled my real sitting-room today.

M J Lewis 2016

Welcome to all who visit Friday Fiction and a particular thanks to those who stay to read and comment. Thanks as ever to our host, the writer and artist Rochelle and also to the Friday Fiction regular and writer, Claire Fuller who supplies the photo this week.

(Please note all Friday Fiction photos are copyright and should only be posted in conjunction with Friday Fiction or by permission of the photographer.)

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The Imposter

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The Imposter

I suspected my father was an imposter the day he accepted and smoked a cigarette. We were staying with distant cousins at their strange lakeside house. That my mother would behave differently was predictable – lipstick a deeper pink, laugh shrill. But my father.

Back home he still wore his old summer shirt, with the open weave that looked like a dish-cloth, but I kept vigil through eight-year-old eyes.

Later, at a faraway airport I watched as my new husband clasped my father’s limp old hand in easy greeting and realised that it was I, all along, who had been the imposter.

M J Lewis 2016

Welcome to all who visit Friday Fiction and a particular thanks to those who stay to read and comment. Thanks as ever to our host, the writer and artist Rochelle and also to the Friday Fiction regular, C.E.Ayr who supplies the photo this week.

(Please note all Friday Fiction photos are copyright and should only be posted in conjunction with Friday Fiction or by permission of the photographer.)

Data Retrieval

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Data Retrieval

Artefact MJL108F is obsolete and fragile, but is believed to be saturated with valuable data. It is therefore vital that retrieval precedes elimination. So far she has failed to cooperate.

‘Tell me about your last position.’

Before the Era of Adjustment MJL108F was a government Mathematician, but she usually rambles on about her garden and her grandchildren. Today she unrolls a tiny scroll of paper and runs her bony fingers over the strange symbols.

‘You will consent to the procedure?’

Her moist sparkling eyes meet mine.

‘No, but I’ll teach you. You strike me as a particularly persistent young woman.’

M J Lewis 2016

Welcome to all who visit Friday Fiction, hosted by the writer and artist Rochelle. Thanks to Amy Reese for the photo.To visit a shiny store of stories click here.