I am not quite sane; not that sort of man,
I am not quite sane; it’s not a part of my plan,
I am bonkers, for sure, as mad as can be,
I am the Craymad Writer; it’s true, hee hee.
I am not quite sane; not that sort of man,
I am not quite sane; it’s not a part of my plan,
I am bonkers, for sure, as mad as can be,
I am the Craymad Writer; it’s true, hee hee.
Last weekend my wife said I had too much home brew in my shed, and that I should tip some out.
Not wanting to cause a domestic, I agreed, and set to the task.
However I did not see the sense in wasting it all so I decided that I would tip every second bottle and drink the other.
So, I opened the first bottle and tipped it down the sink. Then I opened the 2nd and drank it.
Then I opened the next bottle and tipped it down the sink, and drank the next bottle. I repeated this 5 times.
Than I unbottled the next open and sinked it down the drink. I then bottled the next drank.
Then I opened the next sink, drank the bottle and poured the tip down the beer.
Next, as the neighbour’s house went past. I opened the next drink and tipped the bottle down the pour.
Next I opened the neighbours house, which I tipped down the sink and bottled the next drank.
I then counted the neighbour’s house, which was three, tipped the beer down the bottle and drank the sink.
Next I opened the sink, which I drank, and poured the neighbour’s house down the bottle.
Some tinkle may peep that I am under the appelince of incahol, which is aslutlee pot nossible.
However I fool so feelish cos the drunker I sit here the longer I get and I do not know who is me.
This poem was inspired by the NEW Alice in Wonderland story.
Off with her head, I said, OFF, OFF, OFF!
Off with her head; put it on a block!
Swing your axe high executioner; find the true mark!
I said off with her head, now make a start!’
Why would you want to punish her, so?
Said the red King for Alice, below.
She is just a poor child; a wisp of a girl,
Seeking Rabbit’s house on Top of the World.
For a moment the Queen faltered, mulling her plan,
Then she exploded again, asking, Are you mouse or man?
Alice’s head it must fall, lest yours be the next!
Now off with that head, and don’t make a mess!
Standing there frightened, Alice thought her days gone,
As she waited for the chopper and her final anon.
Then down from the sky an old man appeared,
And whisked her away tucked under his beard!
She won’t be a chopping your head, my sweet child,
Said the man, Father Christmas, with gentle sweet smile.
We shall up and away and follow our snouts,
To Top of the World, and Rabbit’s neat house.
Hissing her annoyance at being out thought,
The Queen ordered everyone beheaded and went for a walk.
As bonkers as conkers, that’s what I say
As bonkers as conkers, Halloween fray,
Fun times and blood times are coming, for sure,
Bonkers as conkers furor.
There once was a crazy ghost over Poughkeepsie way that got folks so plumb scared that nobody would stay more than one night in its house. It was a nice old place, or was, until the ghost began making its presence known. It got so no one would enter the house, not even kids on a dare, and you know what they are like!
Now when my friend Joe heard a fancy old house in Poughkeepsie was selling dirt cheap, he decided to go have a look. He asked me about it and I told him about the spook, but Joe just laughed. “I don’t believe in ghosts,” he said and went to visit the agent selling the house.
Well, the agent gave Joe a key, but refused to look at the old house with him, which should have told Joe something. But Joe’s a stubborn man who won’t listen to reason. He even waited until after dark to visit the house for the first time, just to prove his point.
Joe got to the house around nine p.m. and he entered the front hallway. It was a large entrance and well-proportioned, but neglected-looking, with creepy cobwebs and dust everywhere. As Joe paused near the door to get his bearings, he heard a thump from the top of the staircase facing him. A glowing leg appeared out of nowhere and rolled down the steps, landing right next to Joe’s feet. Joe gasped out loud and stood frozen to the spot. An arm appeared and rolled down to meet the leg. Next came a foot, then another arm, then a hand. Glowing pieces of body kept popping into existence and plummeting down the steps towards Joe.
Joe held his ground a lot longer than anyone else ever had, but when a screaming head appeared at the top of the steps and started rolling towards him, Joe had had enough. With a shriek that could wake the dead – those that weren’t already up and haunting the house that is – Joe ran for his life; out of the house, out of the street, and right out of town, leaving his car behind him.
He called me the next day and asked me to drive his car down to the hotel where he had spent the night. Joe was headed back to Manhattan and refused to come within fifty miles of Poughkeepsie ever again. The agent gave up trying to sell the house after that, and the house fell into ruin and was eventually torn down.
A NEW Alice in Wonderland Story
Into The Abyss
It was many years later when Alice had her next adventure, and whilst she was quite surprised to be having one at all, after the passing of so many years, she was even more surprised to see that she was a child again, no older than when she had first entered Wonderland and slipped through that fascinating Looking Glass.
“How curious,” she whispered, trying to recall the child she had once been.
“You took your time getting here,” said the White Rabbit who suddenly appeared in front of her.
“I beg your pardon?” Alice replied, remembering how rude he could be, if he felt so inclined.
“I said you took your time getting here. You should have been here fourteen years ago,” the Rabbit huffed indignantly as he began hopping quickly away from Alice.
“But,” Alice spluttered, running after him, “I have no idea how I arrived, let alone why I am so late!”
“We accept no ifs or buts, here – you should know that by now,” said the Rabbit, as he opened a door which had appeared as suddenly as he. Stepping through, he said, “Hurry up, please don’t dawdle.”
As she followed him through the doorway, trying her to keep up with the fast-hopping Rabbit, Alice surmised that he must have got out his bed on the wrong side, this morning, to be so grumpy on so wonderful a day. And it really was a wonderful day, with a warm sun shining brightly upon them.
‘I wonder where I might possibly be?’ thought Alice, as she admired the pink forget-me-nots skirting a winding path before her. “Am I in Wonderland?” she asked, just as another door, the same as the first one, appeared.
Giving Alice a most peculiar look, the Rabbit said, “Of course we are not in Wonderland.” Opening the door, he told her, “We are on the top of the world.” Having said that, he scurried off, hopping down another winding path, also bordered by pink forget-me-nots.
“The top of the world?” Alice cried out, quite in surprise. “Why, that’s impossible!”
The Rabbit stopped hopping. Turning around, facing Alice, he said, “Then how can you be here, if it’s impossible?”
Flummoxed by the Rabbit’s question, Alice found herself struggling to find a reply. The only thing she was able to come up with was, “I bet you are mad!”
“That all depends,” the Rabbit replied quite matter-of-factly.
“It all depends on what?”
“On whether you mean mad or mad.”
“That’s silly,” said Alice. “They both mean the very same thing.”
“If you were mad number one,” said the White Rabbit, with full conviction of the soundness of his case, “and someone happened to tell you that you were mad number two, you might be very mad indeed, at so fundamental a mistake.”
“But I’m not mad!” Alice insisted, becoming ever more frustrated at so silly a conversation.
“How do you know that you aren’t mad,” asked the Rabbit, who appeared to be enjoying flummoxing Alice, so “when you can’t tell the difference between mad number one and mad number two, I might ask?”
“I just know that I’m not mad!” Alice insisted, stamping her foot, displaying her annoyance at what she considered was questionable logic. Changing the subject, from her possible madness or claimed sanity, Alice informed the Rabbit that another door had appeared and was awaiting his attention.
Turning round, the White Rabbit took hold of the handle and tried to open the door, but it remained stubbornly shut.
“Might I try?” Alice asked, feeling very un-mad. Standing away from the door, the White Rabbit said nothing, but his pink, beady eyes watched her intently.
The door opened easily for Alice. Feeling vindicated, she said, “Could a mad person have done that?” Without waiting for a reply, she stepped through the doorway and fell into a gaping hole on the far side.
“No, they mightn’t,” said the Rabbit, laughing as she disappeared into the hole. “But would they have fallen down there?” Laughing again, he hopped through doorway and into the hole, following Alice…
After a long fall in near to total darkness, a fall that reminded Alice of the time she had fallen down the rabbit hole, into Wonderland, the speed of her descent began to slow. In fact it slowed so much it stopped altogether, and she began rising again. “I don’t want to return up there, even if it is to the top of the world,” she insisted. Staring at the speck of light high above her, she said, “It’s far too far!”
Hearing something passing her by (she had no idea what it could be, for it was far too dark to see properly), Alice jumped onto its back. Holding on tightly, she rode out from the well.
Alice was surprised to see that she was riding a baby hippopotamus, whose skin was as smooth as silk. She wondered how she had been able to stay upon it for second let alone long enough to escape from the dark, dreary place. Alice had so sooner begun thinking about this, when she felt herself slipping, sliding off the baby hippopotamus. Landing with a bump on the hard, dusty ground, she moaned, “I don’t like this place I don’t like it at all.”
“You don’t like it!” said the baby hippopotamus, in a surprisingly high-pitched voice for such an extreme animal. “How do you think I feel? There’s not a drop of water to be seen – anywhere. And we hippos need so much of it!”
Brushing her dress, removing the dust from it, Alice said, “Mr Hippopotamus, I would like to thank you for the ride from out of that cave, or whatever it happens to be. Moreover, it was the most comfortable hippopotamus ride I have ever had (Alice omitted to tell the hippopotamus that it was the only one she had had), thank you, again.”
“My dear child,” it answered, “you are so light I hardly noticed you there. Any time you feel the need to take a ride from out of that dark space, please feel free to jump on my back as I pass you by.”
“Thank you, thank you so much,” she told him. “I shall keep your invitation in my invitation book, and if I don’t find a need for it, I will treasure it always.”
After that the hippopotamus returned to the darkness, searching for some water. However, before he had a chance to begin, Alice heard another soft landing (though it has to be said that it was not as soft as hers). Before she could say Jack Robinson, the White Rabbit appeared, sitting back to front on the baby hippo’s back, riding out, into the bright light.
After the White Rabbit had thanked the baby hippopotamus for the ride (Alice felt he was nowhere near as grateful as she had been), he scolded Alice for having fallen down the hole, before him. He said, “If there is to be any hole-falling done around here, we must first have a vote, to decide who shall be first and who second. Is that clear?”
Although Alice nodded in agreement, she harboured a suspicion that he was quite possibly mad number one, and if not that he was most certainly mad number two.
Another winding path suddenly appeared before them, but this one, although also bordered by flowers, was in no way as inviting as the previous ones. You see, instead of pink forget-me-nots, giant aspidistras sporting green, snapping beaks awaited them.
“Come on, Alice, we have to find our way up, to the very top of the world” said the Rabbit as he hurried past the plants with their snap, snapping beaks.
Alice gasped as the first plant, snapping hungrily at his thick fur, tore a large wad from his back. “Come on, we must return to the top of the world,” he ordered, seemingly oblivious to the dangers posed by the snapping beaks. Having no intention of admitting that she was afraid of some silly old flowers that the Rabbit considered quite harmless, and having even less intention of asking him for his help, Alice got ready to pass down the dangerous path.
By now the White Rabbit was so far ahead of her, Alice doubted she might ever catch up with him. Closing her eyes, taking a first tentative step, she began her way down the aspidistra-bordered path, hoping, just hoping to catch up with the fast hopping Rabbit.
Alice hadn’t finished taking her first step, when one of the snapping beaks tried to remove a piece from her left ear. A second beak, sensing an easy target, pulled violently at her hair, while a third green beak tried to bite off her nose.
“Stop that!” Alice told the bad-mannered plants. “Stop that this instant or I shall be forced to dig you all up, and replant you with rhubarb,” she warned.
Like a switch had been turned, the beaks stopped attacking. Inspecting her head, Alice made sure that it was intact. After she was satisfied that everything was as it had previously been, she said, “Thank you. I can’t ever imagine what has got into you, to behave so rudely. Don’t you know that plants are supposed to be nice, not terrible, awful things?”
As she studied the giant plants, with their green beaklike mouths close in front of her, Alice thought she heard a cry, so she asked, “Who is crying?”
Despite listening intently, Alice heard no reply, as all the while the cry from somewhere deep within the group of plants continued. Then they began swaying, their beak mouths on stalks high above them, also swaying.
“Stop it, stop it,” Alice ordered. “Tell me which of you is crying?”
Although it was still swaying, one of the plants began speaking, it said, “She is crying, the little offshoot, close to my wife – see.” One of its long strappy leaves pointed across to the right.
“Your wife?” Alice asked, in surprise that a plant might actually be married.
“Yes,” the aspidistra replied, swaying some more. “Can you see them?”
“I might, if you stopped swaying,” she said. “I am beginning to feel quite sick from it all.”
“I can’t,” the plant told her. “None of us can. When we are upset, we sway. That’s why we sway so much in the wind, because we don’t like it, because it upsets us so.”
“Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You can promise that you won’t dig us up…” a baby voice sobbed.
“Of course I won’t dig you up,” Alice promised. “I only said that because of the terrible way you were treating me.”
The plants stopped swaying, allowing Alice to see the child aspidistra tucked lovingly under its mother’s green leaves. Showing no fear for her safety, disappearing beneath the huge plants (she now trusted them unquestionably), Alice approached the baby plant and its doting mother.
“I am sorry,” she said, “if I upset you. Will you please forgive me?”
“Yes, I will,” said the baby plant, trying to hold back sob. “And we are sorry, so sorry that we frightened you. We are like this because we are so hungry… we are usually happy, with smiling beaks to welcome the weary traveller.”
Confused, Alice asked, “Hungry? How can you be hungry when your roots can find all the food that you need?”
“Fertilizer, all plants need fertilizer at some time in their lives,” the baby aspidistra explained. “None of us have had any fertilizer for ages. I have never had any – ever! I don’t even know what it looks like!”
“This is a most terrible state of affairs,” said Alice, scratching her head, trying to work out what could be done to remedy the unfortunate situation. Raising a finger, she asked, “Can I go fetch you some?”
If their beaks had been able to smile, every last beak skirting that path would have been smiling radiantly at Alice. They became so excited at the prospect of getting some fertilizer they began talking furiously amongst themselves. In fact, the plants’ conversation became so loud, so noisy Alice could hardly hear herself think. In the end she had to ask them to stop. “Stop, stop talking, please,” she said, “my ears are hurting from it all.”
It stopped; the excited talking stopped, except for one of the plants, the mother aspidistra, who said, “Do you know where you can find us some fertilizer?”
“I, I don’t know,” Alice replied uncertainly.
Smiling, Alice was sure she saw the beak smiling, when it said, “Go to the fertilizer mine, there you will find all the fertilizer we need.”
“Where is it, the mine?” Alice asked.
“I am sorry, I don’t know, none of us know where it is located,” the mother aspidistra confessed. “But we do know that it most surely exists.”
Seeing how sad the mother plant had become, Alice said, “I will find you some fertilizer, I will find enough fertilizer to feed you all – I promise.”
Visit my online book shop today
Go on, visit it, it won’t go away,
It is waiting there patiently until you arrive,
And when you get there, you will feel SO ALIVE.
(Click on the picture – and enjoy!)
Hot, Sticky Porridge
Some time ago, in a place not too far from here, there lived a man named Jack. Now Jack lived a normal life, with nothing exciting ever happening to him. He always got up at the same time each morning and, after washing, made his way downstairs for breakfast. Tea and toast was his favourite, except in the wintertime when hot, sticky porridge replaced the toast. He always said, ‘In wintertime you need something substantial in you, to keep out the cold.’
If you saw him, setting off each day, be it summer or winter, in his heavy, multi-coloured checked overcoat, you would be forgiven for thinking Jack couldn’t be anything but warm (with or without his porridge).
On the particular morning that we are concerned with, Jack pulled the door closed, put the key into his trouser pocket and made his way down the garden path – all as per usual. Then he opened the gate; it squeaked. “I’ll have to oil you, tonight,” he said, pulling it closed behind him, causing it squeak again.
It was a wonderful June morning with the trees in full leaf, the birds singing their hearts out and the sun shining gloriously down when Jack set off, walking the short distance to his place of work, the Wooden Shop. Counting his blessings, he said, “A perfect start to a perfect day
Let’s follow Jack and see how his wonderful adventure began…
No. 237 Bus to Hounslow
“Morning, Jack,” said Mr. Fryer, on his way to the fish and chip shop.
“Morning,” Jack replied. “I’ll see you, later, Mr. Fryer, I’m looking forward to a nice piece of your Rock Salmon, for lunch today.”
“Ok, Jack, bye.” Mr. Fryer said as he turned down the lane disappearing from sight.
Passing the old rectory Jack always took the time to admire the Vicar’s wonderful garden. And today, as always, it looked a treat – picture perfect. Spying a particularly large clump of Sweet Williams, just coming into their own, Jack stopped, and leaning on the old rickety picket fence he enjoyed their wonderful perfume.
“Hmm, that’s heavenly,” said Jack as his mind drifted to days long ago when he grew them in a little patch of garden assigned to him by his father.
“I’m glad you approve,” said Vicar Fernbach as he strolled up to the fence.
“Oh, I didn’t see you there, vicar. It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”
Glorious,” the old man replied as he lit his timeworn pipe, enjoying the aromatic perfume of the softly igniting tobacco.
“You know, you shouldn’t be doing that,” said Jack, scanning the garden.
“It’s all right, Jack, my wife has gone shopping,” the old man replied, sucking the pipe. “She took the 237 bus to Hounslow – won’t be back till sometime late this afternoon,” the vicar added.
“That doesn’t mean you should be smoking, you know how it plays havoc with your health,” said Jack sternly eying the vicar.
“I know, but let’s keep it as a secret,” said the vicar, winking. “How about a nice bunch of flowers, to brighten up your shop? It might take your mind away from all this smoke.” Vicar Fernbach waved his arms in a mock effort to disperse the smoke haze surrounding him.
“As long as they’re from that clump of Sweet Williams,” said Jack, chuckling, “You know, I have no idea how you ever managed to ever become a vicar, I have no idea at all.”
Knee deep amongst the wonderful assorted blooms, the old man trod carefully until he arrived at the clump of Sweet Williams. Bending down, he cut the wonderful blooms until he had a huge armful, “How’s that, Jack? he asked, proudly displaying the fruits of his labour.
“God! That’s far too many,” said Jack, though taking them anyhow.
“You’re welcome, Jack,” said vicar Fernbach. “But remember, not a word to the missus?”
“Don’t worry,” Jack replied laughing, “Discretion is my middle name.”
After bidding the vicar goodbye, Jack once again headed off down the road. Looking at his watch, he said, “Just enough time to pop into Bennett’s, for my newspaper.”
Entering the small and decidedly musty old shop Jack never failed to be amazed at the variety of sweets on display. Behind the timeworn glass counter, the array of sweets on display was mind-boggling. And the patience that Mr and Mrs Bennett displayed, to the mesmerised children it attracted, was truly amazing
“The paper, Jack?” said Mr Bennett leaving two small children almost hypnotised at the counter.
“Please,” Jack replied. “Exact money today, no change needed.”
“Thanks, see you this evening?”
“You sure will, I can’t go home without a Lucky Bag for my niece, Ally.”
After serving three giggling girls, Mrs Bennett looked up and saw Jack and his huge bunch of flowers. “Why, what lovely flowers, Jack. Where on earth did you get them?” she asked.
“The vicar, gave me them. Here, take some,” said Jack, dividing the large bunch in half.”
“Thank you, thank you,” said Mrs Bennett, surprised at the kind gesture.
Looking at his watch, Jack said, “I had better get my skates on, don’t want the old boss to be at my throat.” Laughing, Jack disappeared through the open doorway.
“Bye,” the happy couple replied.
Placing the folded newspaper under his arm Jack began the last leg of his morning journey…
Standing at the kerb, in his white coat and with lollypop in hand, the familiar figure of old Mr Swan drew Jack on.
“Morning Jack,” said Mr Swan as he scanned left and right along the busy road.
“Hello, Mr Swan. It’s a great day, isn’t it?”
“Lovely, I hope it keeps fine for my holidays,” the old man answered.
“Going anywhere nice?”
“Jill and I are going up to the Lake District, went there once, years ago, thought it about time we tried it again.”
“When are you going?”
“In three weeks.”
“I hope you both have a great time, Mr Swan,” Jack replied, with sincerity.
Spotting a gap in the traffic, Mr Swan walked into the centre of the road holding the metal sign high above him.
“There you are Jack, been doing that for a long time, haven’t I?” And in truth he had, for Jack had been crossing at the self-same point since he was a young child. And now, even a mature adult, he would never even consider doing otherwise. Life can be strange at times, can’t it?
The Wooden Shop
On reaching the far side of the road, Jack stepped onto the path and walked the short distance down the driveway of his place of work – The Wooden Shop. You might think that a strange name for a shop, but it was made of wood – completely, so what better name might it have? The Metal Shop, maybe? Nah. That would be stupid. It was The Wooden Shop, and that was that.
Approaching the tired-looking doors, Jack took the key from his pocket and pushed it home, turning the lock mechanism anticlockwise. The door opened. As he entered the shop the smell of its stock wafted out, greeting his sensitive nostrils. Smell, perhaps, is a rather inappropriate word to describe the wonderful bouquet produced by the amazing variety of fruit and vegetables on offer. Aromatic aroma might better describe it, because the array of produce on sale was mind-boggling. There were apples from England, oranges from Spain, tangerines from Israel, peaches from the Canary Islands and leeks from Wales. There were plums from Cornwall, pears from France, potatoes from Scotland, strawberries from Wexford and cabbages from Lincolnshire. Moving further afield, there were pineapples from Ghana, bananas from Jamaica, melons from The Lebanon, kiwifruit from New Zealand and yams from Nigeria. It was a most remarkable shop, indeed. Entering it was like going on a safari and having a geography lesson all at the same time.
Standing in the doorway, Jack flipped the light switch. The fluorescent tubes spluttered into life. Jack always enjoyed this part of the day. He loved his work and would never, ever dream of doing anything else. Sure, why would he? He owned the shop, was the master of his own destiny – it was a perfect life, and he loved every moment of it.
After placing the bunch of flowers and his newspaper upon the shop counter Jack took off his heavy, checked coat and hung it on the hook on the wall. Then stepping into the small alcove to the rear of the counter, and plugging in the electric kettle, Jack made himself a nice cup of tea. He always said, “It tastes better in a cup, and leaves are far superior that those awful, new fangled tea-bags.”
Pulling himself onto the high stool, next to the till, Jack took a mouthful of tea, opened his newspaper and settled down to catch up with the latest news. It always intrigued him how so much happened somewhere else in the world.
“Nothing much happens around these parts,” he said. And that certainly was the case, up till now. Sunbury was a quiet place in those days, a backwater, but soon, very soon the peace and tranquilly that Jack took so much for granted, was to be shaken to its very foundations…
Flicking through the pages of his newspaper, Jack took another gulp of tea and began reading an article about the wholesale price of fruit and vegetables. It read; ‘Fruit and vegetable prices soaring.’
“Hmm, I wonder what that is all about,” he said, folding the page in half. He continued reading, ‘All around the world the wholesale price of fruit and vegetables is rocketing.’ It continued, ‘Almost overnight the supply of these items has been dramatically cut. While the reasons seem quite varied, from bush fires in Australia to droughts in France and England, from locusts in Africa to floods in Ireland, the outcome is always the same – the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables has been dramatically cut, causing an unprecedented rise in the cost of these commodities.’
“I hope this is just a temporary thing,” said Jack. “We all need fruit and veggies. It will cause chaos if it continues.” Eying the article, he said, “I’ll bet that by this time next month, this news will be ancient history – just a blip, that’s all, a simple blip. Yes, I am sure of it.” So without further ado Jack turned over the page and got on with his reading.
This time an article about mushrooms caught his attention, it read, ‘Mushroom blight wreaks havoc on growers.’ Jack read on, ‘A hitherto unknown disease, blight, is rapidly spreading through mushroom farms across the world. Nobody knows where it originated and how it had been able to spread so quickly.’ “Hold on a minute,” said Jack, “just what is going on here? First we have fires, floods, locusts and what have you, and now there is a mysterious mushrooms blight!” Jack scratched his head, trying to make sense of it, but he couldn’t. He was so concerned he both articles, again.
After taking a last drink from his now almost cold tea, Jack carefully closed the newspaper, placed it beneath the counter, and said, “I don’t have time to dwell on these matters, it’s time to open up shop.”
Pulling the doors open, sending bright rays of sunlight streaming into the Wooden Shop, Jack gazed up the driveway looking for customers. Staring into the clear blue sky he marvelled at the wonderful weather. At times such as this he was glad that he hadn’t taken the advice offered by so many customers and friends down the years, that he should replace the gardens surrounding his shop with tar macadam and concrete. ‘A car park is what you need, Jack,’ one might say. Then another, ‘It is not easy parking on the street, I might have to go to that new supermarket, at the cross.’ But the garden stayed, and despite all these ‘threats’ not one of his customers deserted him. The apple trees, picnic tables and benches, they all remained. Much better than a silly car park, don’t you agree?
Today, as always, Jack’s first customer was little Tommy Tilbert. “Morning, Tommy, said Jack to the young boy.
“Hello, Mr Wilson,” Tommy replied.
“Your usual, Tommy? Jack asked.
“Yes please, Mr. Wilson,” said Tommy, smiling.
Now Tommy had a penchant for fresh, green apples. He loved them. He loved them so much, that on his way to school each and every day, he made a point of calling in to The Wooden Shop, to purchase one.
“I have just received a new batch of apples from New Zealand,” said jack poking around behind the counter. “I have been assured they are something special. Mind you, they’re not green,” Jack warned. “Would you like to try one?” Jack held up a large, dark red apple in his right hand. The fruit was so dark it was almost purple in colour.
Tommy gazed at it, his mouth watering, “Yes, please.”
“Here you are, Tommy,” said Jack as he handed the tempting apple to Tommy.
“Thanks, Mr Wilson,” said Tommy, offering the usual tuppence.
“It’s alright, Tommy. This one’s on me. All you have to do is tell me, tomorrow, how you liked it.
The young boy’s eyes lit up and, taking the prize apple, he placed it carefully into his satchel. “Bye, Mr Wilson.”
“Goodbye, Tommy.” And with Tommy skipped through the doorway and was gone.
Jack was happy that Tommy had accepted the Kiwi apple. It was part of a first consignment from that country, and the importers desperately wanted any feedback as to their quality, taste and customer appeal. Tommy was the perfect subject for this trial; he knew everything there was to know about apples, and then some. Despite coming from a broken family (his father had died when he was only three years of age) Tommy was a good lad, perhaps the best-behaved child Jack had ever come across. He often said, “When I get married, if I have ten children as good as Tommy there won’t be one too many.”
Putting on his brown shop coat Jack grabbed hold of the broom and began sweeping out the premises. It always amazed him how much debris fell from his neatly packed shelves. Yes, the shelves were always neatly packed. Jack might have won prizes if there had been a competition for such an activity. Potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, even yams – and all lined up in perfect rows, with their best side facing out.
“Just because they are vegetables doesn’t mean they can’t be presented as appealingly as apples or oranges,” Jack always said. And that was so very true because each and every part of the produce on display was absolutely flawless.
While sweeping a particularly messy assortment of fallen cabbage leaves into the dustpan Jack thought he heard something, a noise – talking – from the back of the shop. Was someone whispering? In silence, Jack walked to the rearmost part of the shop, but saw no one. He even looked beneath the display counters, but couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, nothing that shouldn’t be there.
“Hmm, I must be going dotty, there’s no one here,” he said scratching his head in bewilderment. So taking hold of his broom, Jack continued cleaning the shop of yesterday’s rubbish.
After he had finished sweeping, Jack’s next job was to restock the shelves and tidy them to the picture-perfect condition. He knew only too well that his work would soon ‘trashed’ by vigilant housewives intent on getting the best value for money. That was all a part of the job – he loved it – and he forgave them.
First on the agenda were the potatoes, which took the longest, so he got stuck in right away. When these were finished they were a sight to behold – row upon row of lovely fresh spuds, ready to tempt his most fickle customer. Jack turned his attention to the onions next. He always had three separate displays in this category; Regular, Spanish and Spring. He flew through the Regular and the Spring, but when he began sorting the Spanish onions, Jack came across something that disturbed his concentration completely.
After emptying a Hessian sack of Spanish onions, Jack sorted out the largest, shiniest ones, placing them next to the onions left over from the day before. Standing back to admire his work, Jack felt something was wrong.
“What’s wrong with it?” he asked, scratching his head.
He knew something was different, was not as it should be, but no matter how hard he tried Jack couldn’t see what the problem actually was.
Mrs Sentence coming in for her usual Friday order of potatoes interrupted Jack’s thoughts. Mrs Sentence was a regular. She came in each and every Friday morning to buy a stone of potatoes for the chips she made for her husband and two children. ‘A growing family needs homemade fish and chips once a week instead of that rubbish Mr Fryer offers,’ she always said. Mrs Sentence could be quoted for saying the same, words without fail, each and every Friday.
“Hello, Kitty,” said Jack, greeting her. “Spuds, as per usual?” he asked, by way of politeness.
“Yes, Jack,” Mrs Sentence, answered. “It’s a grand day, isn’t it?”
“Wonderful,” said Jack as he took hold of the scoop and began placing several large King Edward potatoes upon it.
“Oh, will you give me that one?” Mrs Sentence asked, pointing to a particularly large specimen.
Jack reached for the said potato, and scooping it up he noticed something peculiar. Unlike its comrades on the scales, the skin of this particular potato had distinct markings upon it. For a second, Jack hesitated.
“Is everything alright?” Kitty Sentence asked.
“I said is everything OK?”
“Yes, everything is fine, Mrs Sentence. I don’t know what came over me,” said Jack, replacing the offending potato and disguising his confusion. Wasting no time Jack weighed the potatoes, put them into a bag and gave them to the woman.
“That will be two and thruppence,” please.”
“Here you are, Jack, half a crown.”
Jack rung the money on the till and gave the woman her change.
“See you next week, Kitty.”
Bye,” Mrs Sentence replied as she disappeared through the open doorway.
Hurriedly walking to the doors Jack closed them one after the other, securing each with a hefty bolt. He needed some time to think…
“If any more customers come, they will jolly well have to wait,” said Jack, acting nervously, like someone was about to jump out and grab him. Standing stock-still behind the closed doors, Jack’s thoughts raced, his heart pounded as he tried to come to terms with the remarkable thing he had just seen.
“I have seen it, but I still don’t believe it,” he said, wiping his brow. Pondering his dilemma, Jack’s mind continued to race.
Suddenly, he cried out, “I can see it, now. Why didn’t I notice it, before, in the onions? How could I have overlooked something so obvious?”
Breathing deeply, in slow regular breaths, Jack tried composed himself, and control his jittery nerves. “Okay,” he whispered. “Come on, Jack, there must be a rational explanation for it. Yes, there must be…but what is it???
It was a quiet for a Friday morning, the fine weather having obviously attracted the customers elsewhere. “Thank heavens it’s quiet,” said Jack, stepping tentatively toward the potato counter, “I have no idea what I might say if someone were to knock on the door, looking for service.”
Plucking up courage, Jack approached the potato counter. He studied it. Everything appeared, as it should be; row up on row of neatly arranged potatoes, their best sides facing forward, waiting for eager housewives to purchase them. Everything looked right, everything was right, except for one small thing – THE POTATOES, THE KING EDWARD POTATOES HAD FACES, and they were looking right back at him…
Jack rubbed his eyes in disbelief, hoping the apparition might somehow disappear, but it didn’t. He leant over closer, to inspect the potatoes in finer detail. And, yes, they definitely did have faces upon them.
Tearing away, Jack rushed over to the onion counter where he found each and every onion sporting a face, tattooed upon its shiny skin. Beads of perspiration ran down Jack’s face as he dashed around the shop, where the same scene repeated itself at each and every counter. Every vegetable, every fruit had a face engrained upon it. Faces, staring, shocking faces with questioning eyes.
Jack finally stopped running at the far end of the Wooden Shop, in front of the cabbage counter.
“Got to catch my breath,” he said, coughing and wheezing breathlessly. Looking around the shop, in shock in disbelief, he asked, “Am I going mad? – This can’t really be happening.”
“Oh, but it is,” a voice suddenly boomed from behind!!!
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Roger left for work on Friday morning. Friday was payday, so instead of going home, he stayed out the entire weekend partying with the boys and spending his entire pay packet.
Finally, Roger appeared at home on Sunday night, and obviously he was confronted by his angry wife, Martha who castigated Roger for nearly two hours with a tirade befitting his actions. Finally, Martha stopped the nagging and said to Roger, ‘How would you like it if you didn’t see me for two or three days?’
Roger replied grimly, ‘That would be fine with me.’
Monday went by and he didn’t see his Martha. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results.
By the Thursday, the swelling had gone down just enough so that Roger he could see Martha a little out of the corner of his left eye
‘Hold still,’ Alice said to the bird,
‘Hold still,’ she insisted, ‘I must be heard!
You must strike the ball, though it hurts you so,
Hold still dear bird, then I’ll let you go’.
‘Quark, quark!’ said bird in reply to Alice,
‘QUARK, QUARK!’ it professed with great menace.
‘I will peck you good if you do not let me go.
QUARK’, it screeched. ‘You have been warned, you know!’
‘Oh PLEASE give me time to play the game,
I’ll try to be gentle’, Alice so reframed.
‘And if you do happen to be injured, some,
I will tend your injuries, each and every one’.
‘If I agree to let you use me as a bat,’
Said the bird to Alice, and that’s a fact,
‘You must promise to pay me one bright new shilling,
Only then can you hope to ever win.’
‘I will, I will!’ Alice cried out with joy,
‘I will pay you one shilling, and that’s no lie,’
With that she lifted the bird so high,
Struck the ball hard and the poor bird died.
Alice in Wonderland is now on Top of the World
A brand-new story about Alice (see below).
I found it so hard to get off to sleep last night, twisting and turning under the ‘tremendous’ weight of the quilt. And it was so hot, it was so incredibly hot – I just couldn’t understand it.
It must have been well past one a.m. before I finally dozed off, only to be awoken soon after, by a fear, a terrible sensation that something was in the room with us, something skulking, ready to get me, and to snuff out my miserable existence.
I tried to shout, to scream, to let my wife, Breda, know of the danger we were in, but I
couldn’t make a sound, not the slightest utterance left my startled lips. Then I began
rising, floating out and away from the bed. It wasn’t far mind you, no more than a few feet,
but more than enough to send my already frightened mind racing into startled convulsions.
Shouting, sweating, shaking, trembling with fear I suddenly awoke, having escaped from
this terrifying dream – It was only a dream, wasn’t it?
Breda insisted that it was only a dream. She told me not to be so silly, to go to sleep, that
everything would be all right in the morning. And I tried, I really tried so hard to get back to
sleep, to the good pattern of sleep that I am so fortunate to enjoy. But I was just so
uncomfortable, where neither my right or left-hand side was an option to lie on. The only
way that I could find any degree of comfort was in lying on my back. And that, unfortunately, was where it all began again!
I relaxed and drifted off to sleep, restful sleep, and it was a nice sleep, but so short, so
incredibly short. I had barely lost consciousness when I heard something, something so
very close to my ear, so close I could hear its every word, speaking, mumbling, and
gurgling. I awoke; it awoke me with a start, and for a moment, a brief instant, I thought I
saw a figure, a dark figure, a form skulking away from our bed, to the shadows in the darkest corner of the room. Putting it down to my imagination and perhaps even to the two
drinks that I had enjoyed before retiring, I again closed my eyes and relaxed, returning to
But it returned, the voice, the speaking, and the mumblings, the unintelligible one-way
conversation awoke me with a start, and once again I saw a shadowy figure returning,
disappearing in the darkest part of the room.
This terrible process, this mocking torture repeated itself over and over again for the
remainder of the night, until the breaking dawn allowed me to asleep proper, and in
It rang; the alarm ringing so close to my ears told me that I had rested enough, that there
was a whole new day awaiting my attention. Yawning, I dragged myself out of bed, and
putting on my dressing gown and slippers I made my way across to the window, where I
opened the blinds. Yawning again, I inspected the day. It was a cold, dark, grey winter’s
morning. I wished that I had could have returned to my bed, to sleep, oh how I wished.
Something on the floor in the darkest part of the room, where I had seen the frightening
figure returning to again and again, suddenly caught my attention. It was a book. Bending
down, I picked it up; it was the book, the very same book that I had been reading in bed
the night before. But how did it get here? Scratching my head, thinking that was a
question too far, especially since I was so tired, I closed the book and returned it to its
place on my bedside locker. Then I saw its title, and I read it, it said, ‘Short, Scary Stories’.