“Judge not…”


Bing bong.
Like Wyndham’s Chrysalids, they are crisp, clean, cloned and innocent.
Wanly smiling she says “Do you think about the future at all?”
It must be cold dispiriting work, winter door-stepping the unsaveable, so I say “At my age I think more about the past”.
They laugh, and put at ease come in for debate, tea and homemade scones.
“These are lovely,” he says, “really unusual flavour. May I?”
“Of course,” I say, “help yourselves. Take some home if you like.”
Leaving, already giggly, she hands me leaflets.
Mulling Matthew 7, I wonder what they’ll think about their futures.

100 words

“Distance Past”


His heart recognised her immediately; after 30 years it still skipped. She did not see him in the cafe; she was stirring soup, and his memories. His eyes traced the olive soft skin of her arm, rising and falling, the little birthmark that still peeked from her sleeve.
He had never understood how the space between them could ache so. Now it ached more than ever but she, still wearing a ring, and he one of his own, was still untouchable.
So holding the thought that, if she knew, she would really love him back, he turned and walked away.

100 words

“True Love”


Cheryl is giving Victor his regular trim.
“How’s your week been?”
“Same old, same old”, he lies.
The lost love of his life has just arrived at the home, but does not remember him. Dementia.
“There, Victor, nicely presentable.”
Tidied, he sits staring at the garden, untended like his love, holding her hand. Once soft and supple, her thin skin maps a long life with another.
Rehearsing passion never declared he squeezes and mouths “I love you, Jenny”, but it escapes.
She squeezes back, staring now at him.
“Are you Eric?”
Her slight smile is worth the deceit.
“Yes dear”.

100 words

“Putting the Clocks Back”


It’s that time of year again, but it is years since John rose to the alarm. He weighs the value of getting up at all but then sighs and rolls stiffly out of bed, edging downstairs one step at a time, the bannisters for support not fun. Through the steam of a boiling kettle he contemplates the cold dark morning, fingers his coarsely stubbled chin and wonders how others, out there, live with caution bred of age and uncertainty.
Waiting for television to emerge from its nightly chrysalis he adjusts all the clocks, except the one he cannot turn back.

100 words

The 2015 UK Election – have you decided which way YOU will vote?

At time of writing we are a week and a day away from polling day, and the political parties are becoming ever more desperate.  There’s a kind of barrow boy hawking going on, each trying to get your attention with ever more ludicrous, never-to-be repeated, buy one-get one free offers.  If you can’t make up your mind whose offer to take up bear in mind they are all (Greens excepted) liars – if I can use that term for not telling the truth by omission.

Please bear in mind the following:

The LibDems chose, CHOSE, to go into a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.  They could have chosen Labour but didn’t.  They promised no tuition fees for Tertiary education and reneged on that promise.  They have had a senior figure, Danny Alexander, hand in hand with George Osborne paring back the economy for the last 5 years.  The LibDems now claim they are responsible for all the good things that have happened but none of the bad.  I’m afraid that doesn’t wash.  Meanwhile we have the obscenity of homelessness juxtaposed with promises of extending the Thatcherite “Right to Buy”; food banks, juxtaposed with more billionnaires per capita than anywhere on the planet; cuts in all sorts of social provision; the NHS dismantled and privatised from the inside by a pointless restructuring.  Bed blocking, resulting directly from cuts to social care budgets causing so-called ‘black’ emergency conditions in hospitals.

The Conservatives try to alarm us by saying the SNP will (somehow) coerce a minority Labour administration into dropping the Trident missile programme.  Quite apart from the mathematical nonsense (there are 600+MPs, most of whom want Trident to be renewed), who was it that emasculated our armed forces in two successive hatchet jobs of so-called Strategic Defence Review?  The Conservative and LibDem coalition, in case you’ve forgotten.  They scrapped the Nimrod programme, actually breaking up completed airframes; admittedly the project was massively over budget and years late but it was about to bear fruit.  In the face of warnings about the unpredictability of world politics, and in particular the certainty of a de-clawed Russia not being a threat, they scrapped another wonderful and proven aircraft, the Harrier (which, by the way, the American military love and use), along with the aircraft carriers that carried them, and then ordered two massive new ones for £6 billiuon or so which don’t have planes to fly off them!  In case you didn’t know we, along with a lot of other countries, are buying into an Amercian ‘plane, the F35, which is riddled with problems and so far non-operational in the maritime context.  Meanwhile we have Russian ‘planes and submarines probing our borders day and daily.  The SNP, by the way, are promoting strong conventional forces – saying that there are 200+ countries in the world and only a handful have “the bomb”.

Labour, at leadership level, either don’t know or won’t say what they really want.  Are they so desperate to get back into power that they would present themselves as ‘pink’ Tories (which is where the LibDems used to be), or are they really that right wing?  The SNP have shamed them with their vision for a socially just society and it will be interesting to see what happens if Labour, along with the last Tory standing, are wiped out electorally in Scotland.  I have a theory that parts of the Labour elite don’t want to win this election: they want the Conservative / LibDem coalition to finish ‘fixing’ the deficit, and taking tough decisions that simply couldn’t be entertained by a Labour administration, letting them take the blame for all the pain they cause, and getting in next time around.  Even if there wer a Conservative majority my theory goes on that following a failure to win in 2015 Ed Milliband, Labour leader, will be replaced and we will struggle on to 2017 when the ‘hokey cokey’ EU referendum will cause another election.

Now for the rag-bag of assorted right and ultra-right people who are UKIP.  Despite all the hype, I don’t expect UKIP to get more than 20 seats, probably a lot less.  Don’t vote for them; they only have one policy that is worth the paper it’s written on – we do need more robust control over our borders and better arrangements for managing immigration.  Otherwise, don’t go there; I’m not old enough to remember first hand but I certainly know about the rise of the far right in Europe in the 1930s and you don’t have to look far to see the shadow of fascism in Russia, the Balkans, even France (where 25% of the electorate voted for Marine LePen).  The socio-economic background isn’t so very different now in Britain in the 2010s.

Finally, please also bear this in mind: over recent years we have got used to policy changes being ‘trailed’ and announced well ahead.  By the time the change actually happens we’ve been softened up, or got used to the idea, and don’t notice (they think).  This year we have already had a number of announcements about fiscal and other changes which amount to cuts.  These cuts haven’t happened yet but we are told to expect more of the same, much more, going on to 2018 when (allegedly) the books will be balanced.  No wonder the Conservatives don’t want to tell us where the knife will slice – we are already into the bone on many public services.  I’m completely with the parties who (as Labour said at the last election too) want to slow the rate of cutting even if it means extending the date by which we will be free of National debt.

There’s a whole heap more to say, but not now, about energy policy, sustainability, proportional representation and so on.  If I were in Scotland I’d vote SNP.  Vote with your conscience, but at all costs vote.  There is no likelihood of unseating the Tory in my own constituency but I’ll be voting Green because I believe in their message.  Just know that whoever you vote for you are going to get something else.