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.

Second video chat meeting via Messenger of our writers’ club, Writing on the Wharfe, 11 April 2020. The theme set was ‘messages’. This was my contribution, a short story.

Eight club members on Messenger video chat this morning

Top row, l to r: Sussi, John, James, me.
Bottom row, l to r: Ruxandra, Luc, Jo, Martin


Messages

Did you say something?” Robert looked up from his book towards his wife about two and a half metres away. They had stretched the measuring roll between them several times to be sure, he feeding it out slowly till she could reach it and pull it in. Two metres sixty seven centimetres precisely.

I didn’t say anything,” Simona replied. “But I was just thinking how much I love you.”

Are you sure you didn’t say it?” Robert asked. “I heard it clearly.”

I’m sure. But we know, don’t we, that we often don’t need to speak? Just think about it, how many times we either begin to answer a question before it is said, certainly before the voiced question is completed.”

I suppose it’s love,” Robert said thoughtfully.

Simona paused a moment, thinking, before replying, “Not only that. Don’t you find it sometimes happens with friends, even those thousands of miles away.”

“That’s true,” Robert replied, “that happens too, but more rarely. But it’s strange how many times I begin to think about a distant friend and almost immediately there’s a ping from my iPad announcing the arrival of a message. It’s not always from the friend I’ve just been thinking about but often it is.”

So does that mean you’re beginning to believe in telepathy? You always denied it before.” Simona sounded surprised.

I’m not sure, but it now seems to me more likely than not.”

Didn’t the Smithsonian Institute say in it’s magazine about five years ago that telepathy was ‘within reach’?”

Robert was dismissive. “That was a disappointing story, especially as it was from a renowned scientific institution. My view is that it was rubbish, the experiment supposedly ‘proving’ telepathy was possible involved computers, morse code and heaven knows what other physical technology. What we are talking about involves no such technology at all, just thoughts, or parts of thoughts, passing from one person to another with no physical intervention.”

Simona looked searchingly at Robert: “That’s interesting. So you really think it’s got something to do with love?”

Robert thought for a while before answering. “It depends what you mean by love. I’d say I love some of my friends, even some of the friends who I’ve met only through blog posts, but it’s not the same as when I say I love you. It has some of the same characteristics but not all. So I’d say it has something to do with love, in both senses, but not entirely.”

Didn’t you tell me once that when you were at university studying physics you did some experiments on telepathy, the results showing it existed being statistically out of the range of chance?”

I did, but I was young then and was impressed by a lot of so-called paranormal happenings, fired up by Dennis Wheatley’s books. I later saw all the flaws in the methodology and came to the conclusion that it meant nothing.”

But now you say that the existence of telepathy is more likely than not?”

I do. I’m much older, hopefully wiser, so now I have personal experiences which I can’t ignore.”

Do you think it’s something we’ve mostly lost,” Simona asked, “or something we’re just beginning to learn?”

Oh, I think it’s an ability we have largely lost. Animals seem to have it more than we do, which suggests to me that it’s something we mostly lost as we evolved to become more human.”

Both Simona and Robert fell silent, thinking.

The silence was broken by Simona: “Sorry I wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?”

Robert looked up surprised. “Nothing,” he said, “I didn’t say a word.”


Fake news

I am pretty disgusted with the British Press and tv, even the BBC. Even Laura Kuenssberg, usually so good and with a salary of around £ quarter of a million, seems to have descended to the level of the BBC presenters, even to that of the Daily Mail. And I’m surprised that The Guardian, usually so reliable, seems to have been unable to prevent a lowering of standards.

I now know even more surely why I buy no newspapers.

I listen carefully each day to the UK Government’s daily Press conference; at best some of the journalists do not seem to be listening, at worst just seeking sensation rather than truth. Some of the questions are idiotic.

Or is it a technique pioneered by David Frost? Ask the same question to which they know there is no satisfactory answer, over and over again, and the person questioned will begin to look incompetent. I remember well him trying that ruse in an interview with Tony Benn (who at one time I was interviewing from time to time in his role as Minister responsible for Technology) and Enoch Powell, from opposite ends of the political spectrum and both with ‘extreme views’ but both super intelligent. Frost ended up looking the idiot.

So sadly it’s not only the ‘fake news’ on social media spreading misunderstanding.