A Place Called ‘Thankful’

Here in the UK, we have just completed a four-year journey – time spent keeping parallel with happenings, people, and places from a world at war, 100 years ago. Although the principal events remain unaltered, I was surprised at how much new information came to light during this period. Or maybe that should be, the same facts as before, seen through many different lenses, making them as though new?

A friend of mine said recently she grew weary of the commemoration coverage in the media. I’m sure I would’ve joined her had it not been for the variety, these new, thought-provoking glimpses of different voices. It hasn’t always been so …

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A New Beginning?

Please note that hate is one of the themes explored here.

A man strides out along the crowded sidewalk. His sheer ordinariness makes him stand out: Levis, sneakers, battered Letterman jacket. The print on the jacket is obscured by a large backpack. He keeps right on, expecting other commuters to move aside, in his haste to arrive at his destination. In a city of hustle and bustle, this is standard – but few are this strung up: face white, teeth clenched, fists balled-up.

He arrives at the headquarters of an online media company who cater to a growing niche market. Many of their clientele are influential. The man stops outside the entrance to collect himself. Now is not the time to act out of the ordinary. This is the fruition of months of planning: a new beginning. He takes a deep breath of satisfaction which borders on sexual arousal. He knows there are friends inside to assist. They too share his excitement at the impending revolution.

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A Mancunian Tale

Graham Yates stood next to the booking office at Manchester’s Oxford Road station. As instructed in the email, he waited for the rest of the group to assemble.

Why they had to meet there, and not the local Wetherspoons or another pub, he couldn’t say. Too cosy perhaps, for what was a punishment?

He glanced out of the window. April in Manchester meant rain – as did every other month. Today, a solid, grey drizzle. Every time a door opened, a blast of cold, damp air caught him unawares.

Over the next thirty minutes, people joined him. Disparate, ethnically diverse, they all looked uncomfortable at being there. Finally, their leader arrived. A middle-aged woman exuding practicality, she gathered them into a group.

“OK, pilgrims …”

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Missed Manners

So now we mind manners, if manners there be,
they’ll drive you bananers, and don’t slurp your tea.
What place for your salad fork’s valid, I ask;
to whom sing your ballad, untaken to task?
How far and acutely to bow in Japan?
Or compliment chefs in remote Kazakhstan?
How nice to respond to a text message vile?
Share sympathies grave in the Emerald Isle?
If chilly in Chile, are sweaters okay?
To every Canadian must we say ‘eh?’
Exposing your shoulders is rude in Assam,
but go right ahead in South Beach without qualm.
Some actions cause riots or laughter, I know,
depending on where on the Earth you might go.
A turn signal’s proper when driving in Linz,
in Boston, to signal will make others wince.
Wherever your palace or humble estate,
a kiss is good manners with you and your mate.


Copyright©, April 2017; Parker Owens. This first appeared at Gay Authors, where you can find all of Parker’s work.

Halcyon Days

Why is it, in our memories, some days seem bathed in golden sunlight? One man considers his. A short story that is a little longer than usual.

Why does everything ache? Even in bed. Nothing works like it used to – if it works at all. Any part of me that’s not swollen, my skin hangs off it in dull, crinkly folds. Hills and valleys where there used to be broad, flat plains. Once upon a time when running and swimming were part of my life. Oh well, the realities of growing old …

Growing? You’re bloody ancient, you daft fucker. Have been for ages.

Indeed. Old, alone, marooned. A piece of driftwood on life’s furthest beaches. … The family’s dispersed, as families do. What’s to keep them here? In this backwater. They’ve got better things to do than look after me.

Nearly all my friends are dead, or gaga. My last visit to the nursing home … when was it? Six months ago? Three … eight? My memory’s so poor now – something that happened fifty, sixty years ago, fine. Remember every detail. Last year? Not a hope. Last week, even. Must spend longer on the crossword – no giving up after half an hour. Maybe learning another language would help? Or not.

Hate these short, dark winter days – hardly able to get out, what with the cold and ice. Still have to get food, of course. Must do a list for tomorrow. Tomatoes. Must remember to buy some tomatoes – forgot last time. … The nights are interminable, this time of year. Once the curtains are closed and the doors locked, that’s me imprisioned. Solitary confinement. Go to bed far too early, really, but there’s nothing much else to do. And the heating costs too much. That last bill made my eyes water.

Anyway … John …

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Is Silence Golden?

Silence distracts me not
Silence fills my head with noise a-plenty
Silence is sound’s temporary absence
Silence allows my voice to be heard
Silence is violence barely constrained
Silence calms my mind and spirit
Silence is life’s passions spent
Silence gives my words flight
Silence is accusation and unfair verdict
Silence frees my imagination sans constraint
Silence is dull and monotonous
Silence gives my senses rest
Silence is loneliness and neglect
Silence welcomes all my many voices
Silence comes in many different hues

© 2017, northie

I always welcome comments.

An Uncommon Daisy

Beauty may be found in the simplest things – like a daisy.

Javid opened the front door cautiously and peered out at the expanse of blueish-white. Looking down, he found a daisy. He stared, shocked, but then he remembered he still had a pencil somewhere. Was there any paper left? A picture, he wanted a picture of this little miracle.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen any live flower, never mind a daisy. Since the start of last ice age, however many decades ago, anything green was rare, treasured, almost the stuff of fairy tales.

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Fancy an early Halloween tale? Here’s one to make your blood curdle. Enjoy!

Right … he wanted to get this over and done with. Piece of piss.

Eddie Olsen strode up the drive to the deserted house. It was already dark, and the sky was overcast – no moon to be seen.

Why all the excitement about Halloween? Just another effing excuse to sell copious amounts of tat to every idiot going. Well, he’d be in and out of there in ten. Better take a selfie as proof, so even sodding Bri would shut the fuck up.

He was well armed with his phone and a sturdy torch – both fully charged.

Anyway, it wasn’t much of a dare. Go into one of the downstairs rooms. And? … Pathetic.

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I’m still pretty new at creative writing. It’s a little over two years since I first picked up a pencil (hence my blog title) and started to write. I wasn’t resuming a past hobby, or responding to a previously ignored creative urge. This is something that took me completely by surprise. Thinking back, I have no memories of writing stories at school or university. I quite enjoyed the challenge of writing essays, but after the effort of producing a Master’s thesis, I had no thoughts of writing again. Having to finish the thesis off while also starting my first job in a new part of the country probably contributed.

Now I’m an enthusiastic scribbler, keen to learn. So far, my creative well shows no signs of drying up. (Crosses fingers.) I write both for my home site, Gay Authors  (where my longer fiction appears), and flash pieces for YeahWrite . Currently I have no plans to submit my work elsewhere or heaven forbid, earn any money from it. My writing is a fulfilling hobby.

Recently, a post from a blog I follow urged budding authors to write something every day. Partly this came across as a self-discipline issue, and also as a ‘practice makes perfect’ sort of thing. Mostly, I manage to write daily (if you stretch the definition of ‘writing’ to include editing). I write even on days when I feel no spark of imagination, and words constantly elude me. I find the sludge produced then is still useful. It needs a lot of sifting, but there’s always some good stuff at the bottom.

So, is this the point of my essay? Continue reading