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POST #258: ROYAL PROTOCOL

Here’s a piece of flash fiction I wrote in response to the writing prompt of the word “wave”.

ROYAL PROTOCOL

One has had to learn so much in such a short time.

One was thrust into things, so to speak. One had never gone to school, never mixed with other children. One knew nothing about life other than what one had gleaned from the governess and the nanny. Mummy was always far too busy. One had a hard enough time learning how to curtsey to her. And then one had to have elocution lessons – one thought that one already spoke the King’s English but there you are.

“Lilibet”, mummy used to say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She is so elegant. Look how she stands and walks. Try to be more like her, poppet.” 

And even now, all these years later, Philip will still tease, “Stand up properly cabbage! You are the Queen you know.”

The hardest thing one ever had to learn was how to wave properly. One just couldn’t get the hang of it.

Daddy said, “Don’t worry poppet. It’s not as if you’ll ever be queen.”

But mummy, nanny and everyone in the Royal Household just kept on and on. You do it too vigorously, they all said.

“Gently does it your Royal Highness”, they would say, “or your arm will tire with all that waving.”

One wanted to be out riding or walking the corgis. Instead one had to waste morning after morning learning to wave.

One despised all the protocol. One doesn’t want or need to have one’s hair styled every day. And wearing make-up was an anathema to me. Who needs lippy when mucking out the horses? Philip agreed. He was so understanding. “I love you as you are cabbage”, he used to say – and still does.

In the end one had to have this ghastly manicure because one was going to be seen at some awful function somewhere. The beastly varnish wasn’t bloody drying so I waved my hands about a bit.

My valet jumped in the air excitedly. “By George she’s got it,” he shouted. “Her Royal Highness is waving!”

And after that one never looked back.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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MY KILLER BLOG

SPOILER ALERT – this was my submission to a local *competition where we had to write a crime story. It is a work of my imagination and is of course complete fiction. Let me know if you enjoy reading it.

MY KILLER BLOG   

1 October, 2021

If you are of a nervous disposition or take offence easily, please stop reading now. 

Everyone else – welcome to my blog!

For a long time now I have been thinking of getting rid of my old mother and this blog is all about my journey. I will be sharing my innermost thoughts and schemes with you.

Feel welcome to follow me. I am new to blogging so would be very pleased to receive your feedback and comments. Thank you!

ABOUT ME

I am a happily married (I will tell you more about that another time) middle aged man with children and grandchildren whom I love dearly. I live mainly in London and also enjoy a second home in the English countryside.  I enjoy walking and also spending time in my garden where I grow fruit and vegetables. I do not intend to post any photos of myself but suffice to say that I keep fit and I still have all my hair.

4th October, 2021

I think of myself as a kind and caring person. But that does not seem to count for anything any more.  All my life I have been overlooked. My own mother ignores me most of the time and my opinions are never taken seriously by anyone.

5th October, 2021

 I wish the old ratbag was dead so I could get on with my life. I am not getting any younger and she is standing in my way.

8th October, 2021    

I lie awake at night wondering what to do for the best. Dear mama is taking such a long time to die.  Would it hurt if I gave her a little bit of help?  I desperately need to think of some kind of ingenious way to hasten her end. I would be really grateful to receive any useful suggestions you might have in the comments below.

11th October, 2021

I have conducted a great deal of research online – where would we all be without Google?  It occurs to me that the safest way to do the deed will also, regrettably, have to be the slowest. I would prefer it to be sooner rather than later but, I am sure you appreciate that it is vital I find the most suitable method. Whatever I choose has to be the right kind of poison – odourless, tasteless and easy to obtain. Most importantly, of course, it needs to be undetectable.

14th October, 2021

I have conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the various poisons that are easily available and here’s my list so far:

  1. Poisonous plants such as the Foxglove and Deadly Nightshade

Strengths – they are very easily obtainable

Weakness – far too quick and may have an acrid taste so they could easily be detected in food or drink

Opportunities – useful for quick results

Threats – they could pose a danger to me

  • Rat poison

Strengths – works well on rats

Weakness – works less well on humans. A very painful death

Opportunities – easily obtainable

Threats – easily recognised at a post mortem

  • Arsenic

Strengths – depending on the amount, it can be given over a long period so symptoms may take longer to develop

Weakness – can kill a person rapidly and painfully

Opportunities – can be consumed in small amounts over a long period

Threats – it can be easily detected in the system

  • Strychnine

Strengths – it is highly toxic and odourless.

Weakness – rather bitter in taste so easily detected

Opportunities – only a small amount is needed to produce a severe effect

Threats – a horrible and unusual way to die

And so on …

21st October, 2021

I won’t bore my followers by listing all the many poisons I have found.  Suffice to say that none of them are ideal as they all have their shortcomings. My conclusion is a really simple and straightforward one.  I don’t intend to use a “poison” as such.  Instead, I will make use of some of the pills my mother already takes on a daily basis. They have all been prescribed by her GP so it will be very easy for me to obtain them without anyone noticing anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I have already started doing this to good effect as you will see when you read my next blog.

29th October, 2021

Mama always enjoys a soothing hot cup of cocoa at bedtime so my plan is to slip one of her many pills (though not her sleeping pills as they would work far too quickly!) into her drink. This works very well as the chocolate disguises the taste. What’s more, she loves this nightly ritual and always drinks it down to the last drop.

You are probably horrified reading this. You might think she doesn’t deserve to die but you don’t know her as I do. When other people are around she is all sweetness and light.  But the minute their backs are turned she becomes this other hateful person. I think if you were in my position, you would do the same as me.

Life was much better for me when my father was alive because he would always speak up for me when I was being belittled. Sadly, dad died a few months back. It wouldn’t surprise me if the old goat had hastened his end.

I am so fed up with how she always undermines me in front of my children.  She is unable to spend even one minute in my company without telling me what to wear, how to stand, how to walk – even how to speak. What’s more, she has never liked my wife and makes sure that everyone knows it. 

5th November, 2021

Hello and welcome to those of you who have just joined my blog! Here’s just a quick recap to help you follow what is going on.

I am writing about how I began poisoning my mother earlier this year.  Little by little.  Not all the time but now and then. I wanted it to be gradual, natural. The pandemic has made it a lot easier for me because we have all been at home so much more – even my dear mama who, in normal circumstances, is hardly ever home. On the other hand, as many of you no doubt are discovering, being at home all the time with your nearest and dearest is not as much fun as you thought it might be!

10th November, 2021

For the past few months, as those of you who have been following my blog will know, I have been dissolving pills in my mother’s hot cocoa at bedtime.  However, recently, I have moved onto doing such things as hiding her teeth so she can’t go out. There is no way mama would want to see people without her teeth in!  She finds it a lot harder to eat without her dentures so has been asking for food that’s easier to swallow.  It’s been easy for me to grind up some of her pills into mushy food such as stewed apple and custard. I have been getting such pleasure in seeing her eat and knowing that every mouthful is slowly killing her.

19th November, 2021

When the poison first started working she began suffering from horrible headaches. Fortunately for me, the family just thought it was her old migraine problem and they took no notice.  Then, after a few months she began to visibly weaken. I could see that she developed a small tremor in her right hand. And, sometimes, to my great delight, her eyes twitched a little. In the end, her doctor sent her to hospital for check-ups but they haven’t been able to find anything wrong with her. Some of the family suspect that their dear old mother is turning into a hypochondriac but I know better. It’s really heartening to see how well the poison is working!

25th November, 2021

As the poison has taken its toll it has started to affect her mobility.  She totters about the place and sometimes even needs to hang on to my arm.  I really enjoy that. The one time my mother has ever shown that she needs me. Unfortunately, her dependence on me has not lasted and she has now been given a stick to aid her walking. I sometimes almost find myself feeling sorry for the old bat. 

3rd December, 2021

Hi everyone.  I don’t think it will be too long now.

8th December, 2021

The main effect of the gradual poisoning is that the old goat has lost confidence and has stopped wanting to go out. Unfortunately, this does mean that she’s around more than she was in the past which is a pain, but I can put up with it because I know it won’t last for ever.  I have successfully been stepping up the dose without her noticing. And no one else has noticed either! I am feeling very clever and proud of myself. I can’t help wondering why I didn’t do this years ago!

16th December, 2021

Mother has started to nap in the middle of the day – something she has never done before.

23rd December, 2021

The family think mama needs more help so I have employed some carers to help look after her.  We have to be very discreet because mother doesn’t want people to know that she isn’t her old self. 

There’s this agency – KARE4U. A stupid name – a bit like TOYSRUS – but they have come highly recommended. I have been able to hand pick all the carers from their photographs so you won’t be surprised to learn that I have chosen only the young, good looking ones. Female of course – I’m a red blooded male after all. I have selected their uniforms too, though my younger brother complains that they look like something out of a Playboy centrefold. Well, he should know! After all, he’s the only one in the family who would know anything about that kind of thing – if you know what I mean.  😉

26th December, 2021

Another rubbish Christmas because of this pandemic. We all have had to stay home. Dear mama has spent most of the time in bed. What a shame.

31st December, 2021

Things have turned a corner. Mother keeps being sick. She might have to go into hospital again. Hopefully she won’t be coming out this time.

1 January, 2022

Happy New Year to all my followers! Have you heard today’s exciting – though not entirely unexpected – news?  If not, make sure you listen to the announcement on Radio 4 at 7pm this evening. The BBC will be announcing the successor to the throne. Yes, that’s right. Remember you heard it here first. Mum’s the word! 

PS Of course Camilla can’t help wondering if I’m going to be getting rid of her next. But how could I? She is such a wonderful support to me. And, after all – as I am sure some of you must have guessed – the accident with Diana was pretty much all her idea in the first place!

2nd January, 2022

DAMN! BLAST! AND DAMN AGAIN! SH*T! BU***R!!!!!!!!!!!!!  After everything I’ve done for this country, the old goat has only gone and ignored me altogether and put William and Kate in my place!!!!!!!!! 

BLOG COMMENTS

I found your SWOT analysis really useful to help me choose what to study at university. Thank you!

I was enjoying your blog until I saw the swear words at the end. There is no place for this kind of language online. I will not be following you anymore.

Have you thought of going on the panel of Gardener’s Question Time? I think with your knowledge of flowers and vegetables – not to mention poisonous plants – that you would be a real asset to the programme.  

I am a really big fan of yours and think you have been very unfairly treated. I hope this won’t be the last we see of you or your blog.

BLOG WORD COUNT:  2003

(*And, by the way, pleased to tell you I won the first prize!)

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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FLASH FICTION – ROYAL PROTOCOL

I find this short story, which I wrote in 2019, always goes down well with audiences when I read it in public. If you enjoy it, please let me know.

ROYAL PROTOCOL

One has had to learn so much in such a short time.

One was thrust into things, so to speak. One had never gone to school, never mixed with other children. One knew nothing about life other than what one had gleaned from the governess and the nanny. Mummy was always far too busy. One had a hard enough time learning how to curtsey to her. And then one had to have elocution lessons – one thought that one already spoke the King’s English but there you are.

“Lilibet”, mummy used to say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She is so elegant. Look how she stands and walks. Try to be more like her, poppet.”

And even now, all these years later, Philip will still tease, “Stand up properly cabbage! You are the Queen you know.”

The hardest thing one ever had to learn was how to wave properly. One just couldn’t get the hang of it.

Daddy said, “Don’t worry poppet. It’s not as if you’ll ever be queen.”

But mummy, nanny and everyone in the Royal Household just kept on and on. You do it too vigorously, they all said.

“Gently does it your Royal Highness”, they would say, “or your arm will tire with all that waving.”

One wanted to be out riding or walking the corgis. Instead one had to waste morning after morning learning to wave.

One despised all the protocol. One doesn’t want or need to have one’s hair styled every day. And wearing make-up was an anathema to me. Who needs lippy when mucking out the horses? Philip agreed. He was so understanding. “I love you as you are cabbage”, he used to say – and still does.

In the end one had to have this ghastly manicure because one was going to be seen at some awful function somewhere. The beastly varnish wasn’t bloody drying so I waved my hands about a bit.

My valet jumped in the air excitedly. “By George she’s got it,” he shouted. “Her Royal Highness is waving!”

And after that one never looked back.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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FLASH FICTION – DREAMS

My writing group was challenged to come up with ideas for a short story around the theme of “dreams”. We were restricted to 350 words.

Here’s what I wrote:

REALITY

George felt himself perspiring under the hot lights.

“What’s the crowd like tonight?” he asked Jenny, as she dusted his forehead with powder.

Jenny made a face. “I was making up tonight’s contestant earlier and she asked me to make her beautiful. I can’t perform miracles my dear, I told her.”

A roar came from the audience behind the curtain.

“Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream!”

The show’s theme music began. George stepped forward as the curtains parted.

“Good evening folks. Welcome to Tell Us Your Dream. Tonight we’re going to make someone’s dream come true. Who’s it gonna be?”

The arc lights swept over the studio audience, many of whom were standing and waving their arms in the air.

“Me! Me!”

The music pulsed louder and louder and then stopped as the cameras zoomed in on a bespectacled middle aged woman.

A disembodied voice yelled, “Audrey Fisher from Luton. Tell us your dream!”

Audrey’s face lit up as eager arms propelled her forwards and up on to the stage.

There was an uproar from the audience who were all on their feet.

“Tell us your dream!”

George smiled at Audrey.  She was a plain old thing, he thought. A trifle nervous, but that was to be expected.

The music pulsed again. And then fell silent.

George smiled. “Welcome Audrey to Tell Us Your Dream.”

“You know the format. You tell us your deepest hopes, desires and wishes and the Dream Team here will help make them come true. Now don’t be shy.”

“Well George,” responded Audrey, not at all shyly.  “I’ve had a secret passion for a long time now. Someone I really fancy.  I know that if he only had the chance to meet me, to spend the night with me that he would realise that I am the one for him.”

“OOOH!” shrieked the audience. “Audrey! Audrey! Audrey!”

George turned to the audience.  “You know we have no prior vetting of dreams. We never know what’s going to come up or who is going to come up on to the stage.” Then, turning to Audrey he said, “Now tell us more about this chap of yours.”

“Well George,” volunteered Audrey, “he’s not conventionally good looking but he‘s got something. That certain je ne sais quoi.”

“OOOOOH!” screamed the audience not understanding a word.

“Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream!”

“After the break,” George announced, “we’re going to let you in on the lucky chap’s name. Back in a mo!”

“Audience please don’t leave your seats!” someone shouted. “The show will be starting again in three minutes.”

Jenny came back on stage to dust George’s shiny, sweaty head. And whispered something in his ear.

George continued to smile at the audience but he turned pale.

“That’s crazy,” he murmured. “I’ve been set up. It’s just not possible. I can’t do it.”

Audrey looked up at him and smiled adoringly.

“Are you ready George to make my dreams come true?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19, OMICRON – WILL THERE BE A HAPPY ENDING FOR US ALL?

We all remember the story of Cinderella.  No fairy godmothers for us but aren’t we all wishing for something or someone to come along and take us away from all of this? 

An end to housework and cooking? An escape?  It used to be called a holiday but it looks as if that wish isn’t going to be coming true for quite a while.

In my writers’ group we were asked to dream up the sequel to a well known story.  I chose Cinderella.

You remember that at the end of the tale she had married her handsome prince and was living in a beautiful palace, supposedly happily ever after.

Here’s what I imagine happened next.

Cinderella sighed. Her new life had held such promise. But, after ten years of marriage, her prince had lost his charm. He spent all his time alone in the billiard room and didn’t want her even though she was the fairest in all the land. Letting her ugly sisters move in had been a big mistake. They were forever bickering.

It was probably the lockdown making her feel like this, she decided. Life wasn’t so bad.

Just then Prince Charming entered the room. He was wearing the dress her sisters had been fighting over earlier. And he looked pretty good in it too.

“What ho Cindy! How do you like the new me?”

“Is this some kind of joke Caspar?”

“Try to show a bit more understanding. The world has changed you know. It’s time I came out.”

“Came out of the billiard room do you mean? You spend far too much time in there.”

“I mean I’m fed up being the handsome prince. I want to try life as a princess. From now on you’re no longer to address me as Casper. I’m Cassy. And once I’m a princess you’ll no longer be the fairest in the land. I’m off to show your stepsisters how I look in their dress.”

And with that he flounced out of the room.

Cindy didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

“I wish,” she said out loud, “my life could be different.”

At that moment there was a magic whoosh.

“Fairy godmother! How lovely to see you after all these years. I have missed you.”

“Work’s been pretty quiet since this lockdown,” responded her fairy godmother, “so I thought I’d pay you a visit. How can I help my dear? I can manage a little magic. I’m too old for mice but what about a new home now that people can move house again? There’s a nice bungalow for sale.  Much smaller and easier to manage than a palace but it wouldn’t be big enough for your family.”

“It sounds magical fairy godmother. Thank you!”

“My magic doesn’t run to fancy gowns so just get a few things together. Once we’re there I might be able to do more.”

“Once we’re there?”

“Where better for me to retire than in a little home with my Cinderella? You know dear, you were the pinnacle of my achievements. We’ll settle down just the two of us. You can look after me just as you did your step mum and sisters in the old days.”

“No thank you, but I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“You’re an ungrateful child!  You don’t like your home or your prince. And you don’t like being in lockdown. So here’s what I’m going to do, miss fussy.”

Cindy felt the room spinning around her. Faster and faster.

When it stopped she found she was back in the kitchen of her old home, among the cinders by the fire grate.

“Oh no!” Cinderella sobbed. “What am I going to do now?”

The moral of my tale is be careful what you wish for! 

WISHING ALL MY FOLLOWERS – OLD AND NEW – A VERY HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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FLASH FICTION IN 500 WORDS – FREEDOM

A recent task in my writers’ group was to write a story on “The Key”. Was this going to be about the key to success, a hidden key, a music key, a key to hidden treasure? I racked my brains to try and come up with something original. Here’s what I wrote.

Freedom

Kila lifted her hand up to the door again.  Nothing.

She shook her head perplexed. Why wasn’t the door opening? This had never happened before.

When the Ministry of Security and Home Affairs had first mooted the idea of integrated keys there had been an outcry.

What next will they want to embed in our skin, people had asked.  But, as with the notion of vaccine passports, back in 2021, everyone had soon got used to the idea. And who nowadays used an old fashioned key?

Kila rubbed her hand and tried the door again.

What was she going to do?  Without her palm key she wouldn’t be able to activate anything. How was she going to make phone calls, write, bank, show her health record, her ID? This was the stuff of nightmares.

She looked around in case anyone she knew was passing.

“Kila!” It was Alik reaching out a friendly elbow in greeting.

“Alik! Am I pleased to see you!” She smiled happily at her neighbour and elbowed him back.

Alik wasn’t smiling.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“My key’s no longer working,” he said.

“That’s odd,” she responded, “neither is mine. What do you think is going on?”

“So you haven’t heard the news?”

Kila shook her head. “What are you talking about?”

“There’s been some kind of security lapse. None of the palm keys are working. Not just yours and mine.  But everyone’s.”

Kila’s eyes widened in amazement.

“But that’s crazy. How are we going to do anything? The whole system will breakdown! It’s like they had back in the old days with the internet. What are we going to do?”

“We’re marching” announced Alik. “We’re marching on the Ministry. Listen!”

Kila listened and for the first time could hear the shouts of an angry mob.

She could just about make out the words, “freedom from the key” being repeated over and over again.

“But I don’t want freedom from the key.  I like my palm key. It gives me freedom to do everything I want to do.”

“But it gives them control over us,” answered Alik. “We want freedom from control.”

Now Kila could hear the mob chanting, “Freedom from control. Freedom from control!”

Alik elbowed her again. 

“Come with us Kila.  Join the protest.”

Kila stepped back.

“I can’t Alik. Keys give us freedom. You must see that.”

Alik scowled. “Keys belong to our colonial past.”

Kila shook her head and elbowed him away.

“NO!”

“Kila – wake up! Happy birthday my darling! 21 today!

 Her mother was leaning over her. She was laughing and dangling something in her face. A large silvery beribboned cardboard key.

“Happy 21st birthday! Today you get the key of the door! That’s what we used to say when I was young.   But it’s all change now. The Prime Minister was on TV just before announcing a new idea. They’re going to impregnate keys into your hand. Can you imagine! Whatever will they think of next?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems