I’m finding little to dislike about the confinement to our flat for 12 weeks, maybe more. Admittedly, we are lucky: our lovely young neighbours are shopping for us; our sitting room window overlooks the village park, now with white and pink cherry blossom in full bloom, and our bedroom and kitchen windows look over Yorkshire’s Wharfe Valley; the dawn chorus sounds like we live in a forest, no polluting sound from motor vehicles nor aircraft from the local airport early in the morning; and the air from the open window is noticeably cleaner.

However, yesterday there seemed to be considerably more traffic on the main road on the other side of the park, which is worrying. In normal times there was far less traffic on a Friday.

Writing

Important for me, I’m able to write far more: more frequent blog posts which have brought more followers (I don’t actively seek more followers but it’s good to know my ramblings are appreciated); more short stories and ‘poems’; more emails and handwritten letters to distant family and friends; more chats on so called ‘social media’ – I use only one other than WordPress: Messenger.

Messenger video chat has also allowed ‘meetings’ of our local writers’ club, Writing on the Wharfe, to continue. The latest ‘challenge’, for the ‘meeting’ on Saturday (25th), I misunderstood and rapidly wrote the bit of ‘flash fiction’ below to meet the challenge, (which included answering some set questions about a character within the story and including “something strange”) but adding my own challenge: to answer all the questions in 20 sentences or less. When I found I had misunderstood the challenge it did not appeal to me so I’ve left my story as it is.

As a matter of interest, my first office for a business of my own (other than a table in an Italian restaurant in Soho, opposite Ronnie Scott’s, a few years earlier than the story is set) was in the King’s Road. It would be far too costly now, as would a garden flat home for a nurse!

Photo of World's End pub in King's Road (see story below

World’s End pub, King’s Road, Chelsea, London, modern times (see story below). First recorded mid-17th century. Photo by Ewan Munro.


Miranda

Miranda was looking forward to her twenty third birthday treat. 

Examining herself in the mirror while brushing her shoulder length, auburn, wavy hair, she was grateful for her shapely legs, perfectly displayed by her extra short mini skirt, in accord with today’s fashion, and perfectly in proportion to her height of a little over five feet. She also looked with approval at her gossamer fine white cotton blouse, showing to advantage her boyish breasts. She never wore a bra’. Like many young women at this time she often didn’t wear panties either.

She closed the outside door of her garden flat in London’s King’s Road, Chelsea, excited by thoughts of where her boyfriend Peter might take her (she was taking time off from both her job as a nurse and ‘moonlighting’ as a night club hostess) and guessed it might be one of the Irish pubs in the East End as he knew, with her Dublin upbringing, she would enjoy that, especially as she was born on this day, St Patrick’s Day.

As she waited outside the World’s End pub, close to her home, she turned over in her mind whether tonight was the occasion to tell Peter her real name. He had never asked her in the six months since they first met.

She snuggled into his arms. “I love you,” she whispered in his ear. “You never asked me, but how would you like to know my real name? I think you’ve guessed it’s not Miranda.”

I’d love that; I think it’s probably something exotically Irish,” Peter replied.

Bláthnaid, she whispered in her best Irish brogue. My father delighted in calling me that and telling me the legend linked to it. It means ‘little flower’.”

And so you are, though I’d love to hear the legend later,” Peter said softly, pulling away just enough to look lovingly into her large soft brown eyes. Now, let’s go birthday girl.”


Bláthnaid is pronounced approximately as ‘blaw-nid’.

The legend is important in both Ulster and what is now the Republic of Ireland, Eire, folklore.

I’ve never believed in unnatural exercise; the thought of going to a gym with all those horrific torture machines could give me nightmares, let alone paying to use them.

I’ve never run for a bus!

Hanging from wall bars in the school gym, or attempting to leap over the ‘horse’, are memories I try to keep out of my head. Even running, or jogging, for no good reason has seemed to me a ridiculous activity (I’ve never run for a bus or train – there’s always another – though I’ve rarely missed one as I’m outrageously punctual!), especially as it’s likely to ruin your knees. So when, at school, we were sent on a run because the ground was too hard for rugby, I rapidly found a culvert near to the start in which to hide till the runners came back, meanwhile having a fag or two (an addiction I shed many, many years ago).

Rugby

Despite my aversion to running, I enjoyed running as a winger for rugby as I was able to run faster for short distances than most of my fellows and had the exhilaration of diving over the line with the ball in my hands.

Walking

On the other hand, as a tyke I’ve been walking for most of my life, mostly on the Yorkshire moors or in the Romanian mountains. It began at three years old with my grandmother (who always brought an apple, a bar of Terry’s bitter chocolate and a wedge of Wensleydale cheese as refreshment). Until about six years ago I thought little of doing up to 30 miles in a day. Then those walks had to cease due to health and since then I was able to do only up to a couple of miles on the flat, rarely, on a good day. Nevertheless, Petronela and I walked as much as I was able.

Cycling

I once (1995 or ‘96) cycled across northern Romania, from Maramureș to Suceava city, on a cobbled together bike, having not been on a bike for about 40 years. It included 26 consecutive hairpins to climb over one of the passes.

Romanians thought I was crazy; I enjoyed it but it confirmed my view that walking was better. I didn’t see one other biker; there are many now. I did see a lot of dogs, most of which attacked me, met many fascinating people, and received three proposals of marriage!

Confinement

So, confined to our flat on the instructions of both our medical consultants, we miss the walks, close to home where we have many beautiful walks or, with a short car ride, further afield. We were also aware that just sitting about was not good. So, for the first time I’ve taken up some ‘unnatural exercise’.

Back and forth across our sitting room fifty times is 1km. That’s enough for me in one go though just meandering about the flat, cooking etc, probably adds another kilometre. Petronela is way ahead: she’s on 8km in a day at the moment! I can hardly believe that because she is not a ‘walker’, complaining continuously when I once took her on a 3 mile walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal to Shipley (one of my childhood playgrounds).

Another thing I never thought I’d do was exercise with dumbbells, but Petronela has two of 1.5kg. So I’ve joined her in using those!

Odd behaviour for me, but thank heavens we are now able to stop keeping two metres between us. Now that was really odd!