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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

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WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN YOUR LIFETIME?

I wonder how many of you reading this grew up, as I did, with no central heating, one black & white TV channel, one phone (attached to a cord so you had to sit next to it), no washing machine, dishwasher or freezer? That was my childhood. The net was something we hit balls over and it would be many many years before today’s technology changed our lives. For the better? Or maybe not?

Looking back, it’s astonishing to think what incredible things have been achieved in our lifetime.

In fifty years’ time will our children and grandchildren look back at today and witness the kind of changes in their lives that we have seen in ours?

In my writers’ group (watfordwriters.org) we were asked to come up with a poem or story that encapsulated the past 100 years. I decided to write a poem about all the inventions that had taken place between 1918 and 2018. Not quite all – but all of those that I could fit into the word count!

Here it is. My Ode to Invention. Which of these inventions has made the most difference to your life? Let me know what you think!

Ode to Invention

Who would have dreamt at the end of the war

what wonderful things we’d have in store?

In 1918, although unintended,

the radio circuit was invented.

In 1919 what do you know –

we then had short wave radio.

And at breakfast, what did we love most?

A cup of tea with pop up toast.

If your Tommy gun, invented in 1920,

went off for fun – we had Band Aid in plenty.

In 1923 cars on the road were a very rare sight,

but they still invented the traffic light!

Cinema goers were in seventh heaven

When the talkies arrived in 27.

Antibiotics in 28 –

sadly, for many, came too late.

But thanks to Fleming and penicillin

most of us can carry on living.

From 39 to 45

we were lucky to survive.

Who was to know when the war began

the evil that man would do to man?

1947 made parents happy

with the invention of the disposable nappy.

Health care was in a very bad state

till the NHS started in 48.

Hardly an invention, but nevertheless,

where would we be with no NHS?

1950s rock music would not have gone far

without the first electric guitar.

And with your transistor in 52

you could take your music along with you.

In 53, Watson and Crick they say,

discovered the secret to DNA

and there was colour TV in the USA.

If  your heart was dicky in 59

the Pacemaker was invented just in time.

Sex had never been much fun

till the pill came along in 61.

And things were moving on apace

with Yuri Gagarin – first man in space.

In 67 you could have fun

eating your microwave dinner for one.

And then what joy in 69 –

man walked on the moon for the very first time.

That was also the year of Concorde’s first flight,

and at that time its future looked bright.

In 73 we heard a new tone –

the ringing of the mobile phone.

No more having to sit in the hall,

waiting to get that longed for call.

Now you could get that call in a show

or anywhere else you happened to go.

1n 78 the Browns got their wish –

a daughter conceived in a petri dish.

The CD player in 82

replaced vinyl records for all but a few.

In 1990 we won’t forget

the invention of the internet.

Thanks to Timothy Berners-Lee,

the World Wide Web changed history.

In 91 we could go far,

thanks to satnav in the car.

In 98 the world had a thrill,

with the invention of the little blue pill.

In 2010 Steve Jobs made us glad,

with his invention of the Apple iPad.

Facebook too deserves a mention,

voted the most favourite invention.

It’s 2018. Let’s shout hooray

for another invention – this poem today!

100 years of history –

without these inventions where would we be?

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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POST #212. 350 W0RDS ON DREAMS.

Watford Writers were 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

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Back in the day when I met OH (other half) at a party (See LOVE LIFE IN THESE COVID TIMES, 26/4/20) and he asked what I did, I told him I was a poet.
Much easier I thought than to tell him I worked as a copywriter!
Most people (ie possible future boyfriend material)  looked blank when I said that. I’d ask if they knew what the job was and they would respond,  “yes but tell me more.” I would then explain what the job involved – that I came up with ideas for ads. Ah Slogans they would say.  Not slogans I would explain but the whole concept.  I told them that copywriters wrote for all the media. That I conceived ads and wrote copy for press, posters, TV, direct mail, radio, point-of-sale material and the back of cereal packets etc etc.  Of course today that would also include writing ads for anything and everything digital.  I was fortunate in that I worked at a time when advertising was far more creative than it is now. When TV and cinema commercials were often considered a work of art. Of genius even.  Just think of the Heineken and Levi’s commercials (if you are old enough to remember them) and you will know what I’m talking about. That was a time when you actually stayed in the room to watch the TV commercials and left the room when the programmes came on!  No zapping for us then because we had no way of avoiding the ad breaks other than turning off the sound or switching off the TV altogether.
Once the person I was talking to found out what copywriters actually did, they would then spend the rest of their time with me talking about all their favourite ads ad nauseum (no pun intended). It was the same at dinner parties or any time I met new people. So I told people I was a poet.  Well I was. And I am. I just don’t make a living from it.
It is the same for OH (other half). He only has to say that he works in cancer research to find that the rest of the evening is spent listening to people telling him all about themselves or someone they know who has cancer. There was one memorable occasion when the opposite happened. We were sitting having a meal at a wedding and were introduced to a friend of mine’s new boyfriend. What do you do? He asked.  I’m a scientist, OH answered.  How boring for you, responded my friend’s boyfriend. He turned his back and did not say another word to us for the rest of the evening.
Polite conversation is a whole lot easier nowadays as Covid has freed us from having to meet strangers at dinner parties or anywhere else for that matter. Conversations now usually start with “how are you?” meaning,  “are you still alive and well?” and end with “stay safe.”
So what does one say when asked what do you do? I could just say I’m retired and leave it at that.  I hate those four words, “What do you do?”  Whether we like it or not, whether we think we do it or not, we all tend to judge people on what it is they “do”.  As a woman of a certain age, I still do a hell of a lot.  This blog for a start. And loads of other things – mostly enjoyable and rewarding ones. But in those far off days of dinner parties, no one ever asked about those.  A bit like the charmer who asked OH what he did and then turned away, most men (and it is usually men) show no interest whatsoever in the person you are – only in the persona.  You might be writing the next War and Peace or doing the most incredible voluntary work but if you are not doing any paid work  then you are cut out of the conversation.  I am sure that my female readers will recognise this all too common and ill-mannered behaviour.
As I wrote in my blog of 6/4/17 (Another Year, Another Birthday) once women are over fifty they become invisible to the opposite sex.  Unless of course they happen to be sitting next to Helen Mirren or Debbie Harry (whose real name incidentally is Angela Tremble).
I hate it when women say, “I’m just a housewife.” In other words, I do everything imaginable in the home but am not rewarded for it other than in the satisfaction of knowing that my home is clean and my family are fed. Now we’re in the midst of the Covid Era, many more people are realising how incredibly demanding it is to manage a household, shop, clean, cook, wash, iron, garden, sew and bring up children.  No wonder one of the first things relaxed by the government was the employment of nannies and cleaning ladies! Post Covid will anyone ever again say, “I’m just a housewife”. I sincerely hope not.
At future dinner parties (will there ever be such a thing and will we miss them if they disappear?) will people talk about all the new skills they learned during Covid?  How they can now recognise twenty different species of birds, knit a suit,  landscape a garden and bake sour dough bread.  Or will we return to the old status quo – the snobbery of only being valued if you have some kind of paid employment.
In the meantime those of us who used to entertain people in our home are quite enjoying not having to spend half the day in the kitchen preparing food for everyone. Now all we have to do is
sit in the garden with coffee, cake or a glass of wine. It’s so easy and far more relaxing.  Entertaining is much more pleasurable when you don’t have to tidy up the house or cook meals beforehand. And, what’s more, there’s very little clearing up to do afterwards.  Now that’s my idea of the best kind of brunch, lunch, tea, supper or dinner party.
Off now to do some cooking. Dinner parties or no, we still have to eat!  See you again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

How have you been spending your time?

106 days and still counting.

The big excitement for me last week was a visit to the dentist. I say big excitement but I actually felt incredibly nervous. Not because I was going to the dentist, though that’s not normally my idea of fun, but because it would be my first time going anywhere – other than for walks and the occasional socially distanced meeting in someone’s garden.

Those of you who have been following my blog will remember that I lost a filling pretty early on in lockdown. Until recently I have been coping with the kind of dental putty you can buy over the counter – I obtained mine online. It worked to some extent but never lasted very long. Without boring you with the detail it got to the point where a visit to the dentist was going to be a matter of necessity. I made the appointment with great trepidation but they assured me that it would be safer than a visit to a supermarket. Since I have not visited a supermarket since the start of lockdown that comparison was pretty meaningless for me.

I took the first appointment of the day thinking that it would be less risky being the first patient. I was asked some health related questions, my temperature was taken and I was given a mask (my first!) to wear. There were only four chairs in the waiting room – one in each corner.

My dentist is lovely. At least I assume it was my usual dentist because, what with her mask and her visor, I could only see her eyes. She explained that there would be no drilling as that’s still not allowed and that I would be given a temporary filling – not that unlike the ones I have been giving myself! But boy did she get close to me. It felt quite scary and threatening after 106 days in captivity to have someone’s face so close to mine. The only person who has been able to get that close to me is OH (other half). And there were TWO of them because there’s also the dental nurse hovering over me as well. Anyhow, I survived. That was four days ago and I haven’t got ill yet so I think – temporary filling aside – that I’m going to be OK. I just hope this temporary filling lasts as I don’t plan to return any time soon.

The last few months have made us all so wary of other human beings. The way we swerve away from other people, jump to one side and turn our backs on them. It’s such unnatural behaviour.

And now the pubs are open. Someone said on the radio today as if they had made a great discovery – drunk people don’t keep to social distancing. Well, there’s a surprise.

So, aside from visiting the dentist and the pub, how have you been spending your time? Many of us have been escaping into our hobbies, reading more or watching more TV. I’ve heard people say that they haven’t wanted to watch anything that’s going to make them feel miserable. Nowadays what they choose to view has to be upbeat or just pure escapism.

Before lockdown OH (other half) and I watched very little TV and now – like many other people I suspect – we watch nearly every evening.

Recently, I inadvertently found I had signed up to Amazon Prime (has this happened to you?) and we’re using our 30 days free trial to watch The Amazing Mrs Maisel – an American comedy about a female stand-up comic set in the 1950s. Discussing it with our daughter via WhatsApp afterwards I was surprised to discover that she had thought that the comedien Lenny Bruce was an invented character! It came as a complete shock to her to know that he had really existed. I was in my late teens when he died but I still remember the furore at the time – in the same way as I do when Marilyn Monroe died in 1962. I was on a French exchange at the time. My French penfriend’s dad was elderly and prudish – though that didn’t stop him trying to play footsie with me under their dining table or accidentally coming into my room when I was getting undressed. This dirty old man thrust the newspaper of the day into my face and told me that Marilyn Monroe was a whore and deserved all she got. The fact that she wore lipstick settled the matter as far as he was concerned.

OH and I also invested in Netflix at the start of lockdown. Not that it’s a big investment. And we feel we already have had terrific value for money. We had been watching The Crown whenever we babysat for our grandchildren in the pre-covid days and wanted to see the last few episodes. Having Netflix has opened up a whole new world to us. The first thing we watched was Unorthodox. By now I imagine everyone will have seen it. But, if you haven’t, I urge you to do so. I am now reading the book. Like my blogger friend Mel I also originally accidentally ordered the version in German – a bit like Amazon Prime it’s easily done! We have also loved watching Shtisel and I can’t wait for the start of the next series.

A couple of weeks ago OH and I did something really decadent. We watched TV during the day! We were so hooked on the series Hidden that we couldn’t wait to see what happened next so we binge watched it over a few days. My excuse was that I didn’t want to watch it late at night as then I wouldn’t have been able to sleep! Other series I can recommend are The Stranger and The Nest. What have you been watching and what do you recommend?

We’ve also caught up with some theatre we missed. We watched the National Theatre’s production of Small Island which we thoroughly enjoyed. Before Covid OH and I were regular theatre goers. We visited the theatre far more frequently than we did the cinema. It will be tragic if we lose our theatres. Relieved to hear of Rishi Sunak’s announcement today that the government is “introducing a £1.57 billion rescue package to help cultural, arts and heritage institutions weather the impact of coronavirus.” That money isn’t only intended for theatres so it will be interesting to see the final details once they have been disclosed.

OH and I have now been in lockdown for 106 days. Well, it’s semi lockdown now as we have been going for walks and entertaining (and I use that word loosely) friends in our garden for some while. Now the weather has become cooler and more blustery – wet even – it’s hard to get excited about sitting in one’s garden (or someone else’s) with umbrellas on standby. It was easier back in May when the weather was so good.

Lockdown has been tough for all those singles out there. There was an interesting and amusing piece in the Weekend supplement of Saturday’s Times. A divorced woman of 46 had begun dating again and was using apps to meet the opposite sex. A man she was quite liking online then texted her a photo of his genitals. Did he imagine this would endear him to her? Sorry to disappoint my male readers but most women are not turned on by photos of the male appendage – the opposite in fact. So astonished was the writer that she showed the picture he had sent her to her mother. Her mother did not realise or recognise what she was seeing and thought it was a picture of someone’s foot. Makes you wonder how she ever became a mother in the first place!

Thanks for reading. See you again soon.
© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems