A Post-Breakfast Conversation

My normal café is closed for essential repairs which I presume means re-vamping their recipe for sausage sandwiches, currently scoring poorly on the flavour scale, and I have been forced slightly “off-piste” in search of emergency catering. I come across Terry, another exile who is returning from his emergency coffee of choice and we say, almost in unison, “Hello, Cold Isn’t it, Bloody Freezing” and other profundities which pepper the conversations of those who are joined in the reckless search for truth.

At the end of the conversation, as I walk away, a man I know better called Reg stops me, and pointing to the receding figure of my ex-conversationalist says, “Friend of yours is he?” “Yes” I reply. “Have you ever eaten with him at any other restaurant or pub than “The Tuck Shop?” (That is the name of our local morning haunt by the way.)

“No” I say. “Has he invited you round to his house to look at his famous collection of dried centipedes, a roast meal or even just a glass of cheap merlot?” “No” I say.

“Do you fancy his wife and dread being caught in a compromising situation with her?” “No” I say, but now with greater emphasis. “Have you ever borrowed money off him without having the slightest intention of repaying it?” “No” I say.

“So he’s not really a friend of yours is he Stan. He’s just a bloke you meet in the street, “and this time I can say “Yes” because, let’s face it, that is the heart and soul of the matter, the very nub, the bitter truth!

You can see I like to get past the commonplace and drill into life’s depths, which might explain why no one invites me to into their home, or wives wink at me in a way which indicates that “Hubby is off to the golf-course this morning and the sofa will be ours to shake for the next two hours!”

In short, I largely slide past social opportunities and return to Jacintha my loyal goldfish who is swimming calmly through her estate, or tank as it is called by the uninitiated, which rests on a table in the living area. I pause to dump my shopping, make another coffee, (you can’t argue with the price of the ones you make at home so damn the quality,) and sit down next to her in my customary manner saying, “Have you ever been invited to another bowl by another goldfish to share their breakfast?”

Jacintha, who uses words carefully, or possibly not at all, flicks her tail and with a movement suggesting disdain drifts over to the far side of her estate. I can see the topic will not “light her fire” or whatever the term is in the world of goldfish and so return to sipping my coffee and nodding frequently to emphasise my enjoyment of home-made pleasures. Now Jacintha returns to my side of the estate and opens and closes her mouth slowly in a way which tells me how much we share the simple joys of life, if not coffee.

So ask me, “Is Jacintha a real friend of mine?” and the answer is “Yes!” We’ve never had a deep conversation but I recognise the wisdom in her firm belief that the world outside her estate, is best left unexplored!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Dancing With Immortality

Dancing was my refuge, my go-to place. Prompted by the harmonies and rhythms, and sometimes stirred by the lyrics,  I could escape to a world full of magic and expression. On Friday nights I would walk down to the Student Union and onto the dance floor, allowing the sound to transport me to a treasured space:  alone and yet with others I could be without pretence and celebrate my joy of life . I could be anywhere I might dream of and travel the earth without unease: each track taking me further into a blissful euphoria sometimes touched by melancholy.

Lost in my own world and the music, I let my eyes wander across the floor in that disengaged way I used to hide my isolation until I saw a girl dancing on her own in a manner not unlike my own but beautifully expressive and in time with the music: she looked as if she too was celebrating immortality and I was entranced as I had never been.

I won’t bother to tell you she was pretty but she was, and modest in dress and manner so that her movements were private yet deeply expressive. How is that ever so? How was it that she danced alone, and no one breeched her privacy? She was the very essence of the young sublime.

That time came when I must take my leave, and catch the last bus home but she was still dancing as if there was no other life but here. Made brave by the moment I walked up to her in a break between the tracks and said “I have never seen anyone dance as beautifully as you” and she turned her head to me and smiled with a warmth and interest which matched her movements on the floor. Without another word I left the building not wishing, I told myself, to taint the compliment by an expression of self-interest.

Now I have been alone these many years and have lost all hope of finding love but still I search for the Eden I hear in music. Perhaps in her movement and her look I got as near as a man can get to glimpse that paradise. I did not ask her name.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Music, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Making Things Personal!

“I could do with a larger social life. I could do with any social life,” I used to say to myself until I came up with a solution which ultimately left me with little peace: let me explain.

Every morning I would start the day by making myself tea, pour water in the kettle and assemble cup and tea bag before retrieving the milk from the fridge in readiness for the moment when the kettle started singing and arms whirred into action to create the perfect morning cuppa before reading the news while sitting in my favourite (only) chair.

Suddenly, well not suddenly, an idea seeped into that winelogged area called my brain and I decided to give everything a name and thereby personality. With this in mind, we will return to our tea making exercise and see what a difference a day makes when you are in company.

I walk into the kitchen and shout out “Morning Geoff,” (the kettle) “I’ll just put a splosh of water in you and then you can sing me your favourite tune when its ready!” Geoff doesn’t say anything but we all know he can really let rip when the mood takes him, or if he gets a bit hot around the elements.

That settled, I go to the cupboard (Sid) and take out Karl, my favourite mug which (who) has a picture of a duck on it (him) because everyone in my house loves ducks naturally. “Don’t worry mate,” I say, “I’ll put the milk in first so you don’t get scalded” and Karl makes a sort of clacking noise when he lands on the kitchen table to say thank you: he likes a bit of noise does Karl. Anyway, once Marion Milk has done her bit and returned to the fridge, ( she’s an attractive girl but rather frigid once she gets in my house sad to say ) I take Karl, now filled with precious liquid, and go and settle in Frieda, my favourite chair to talk about life and the coming day.

Credit where credit’s due, all my chums are tolerant and allow me to say anything you like without interrupting me if you ignore Geoff’s piercing singing voice and Karl’s insistent clacking, but then lads can be restless can’t they?

Now for the big stuff! Araminta Shirt, one of my favourites, has volunteered to clothe me today because she knows it’s a teaching day and smartness is required by the college were I offer fragments of  wisdom about subjects I hardly understand ! Other items of clothing, all with different names and outlooks, join her in the task of clothing me: varied in many ways but with a shared loyalty to meeee.

I think I overheard them saying once that clothing me was a chore, and not a privilege, and how they loved to be left in the closet where they could gossip with friends and relax in soothing darkness but I’m sure they still enjoy the odd adventure out on the trail: I like to think so anyway! I could be offended but, let’s be honest, we all love a snooze don’t we!

At last I venture into town, now in good company and immune to the pain of being unknown or ignored by the public at large. Just to let you know, I’ve become pretty close to the post box at the end of the street who asks me constantly if I’ve had a letter yet which is not a bill. “One day Frank, one day” I say because optimism in the face of facts is my “modus operandi;” a term they use in the college where I work.

It seems almost impossible to get a moment to yourself these days!!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 47 Comments

Somewhere In Transfusion Alley

Sometime in the distant future, about five or six years from now Vampires have taken over the world and humans running free and in their natural habitat are almost forgotten memories, although the wealthiest vampires can still afford to purchase a hunting trip to remote estates and gorge on fresh drained natural blood as their ancestors had in those heady days when the shriek of dying humans soothed the young vampire to sleep!

Down at the Sunless Arms, a local hostelry, some old chums, ( what other kind are there,) had gathered for a pint or two of their favourite fluid, talking of love and the sporting world while nodding in appreciation of their chosen tipple: blood group “O,” supplied from a chamber behind the bar where a thousand humans living in tiny pens, were fed intravenously while waste was removed and blood drained by suitably attached tubes, enabling red nectar to be drawn, but not so much as to endanger supply.

All was good and dandy and everyone happy apart from the humans, of course, and young Tommy Drain who was being introduced to the adult world as part of his initiation ceremony. What was not known was that the Drain family were part of that small but growing cult who believed that cruelty to other species diminished their own and so they had become vegans, manufacturing their life nourishing liquid from batches of illegally grown spinach with a squeeze or two of onion according to taste, and iron additives of course: red dye was added for cosmetic purposes!

“I’m a bit under the weather” said Tommy, producing a large flask of the “homebrew” from his bag while requesting a glass from behind the bar. Such behaviour was unsettling to the gathered old-timers, one or two of whom were over 200 years old and facing middle-age.

“We can’t have that” said one, but young Tommy, nimble of mind and foot, said his parents had only allowed him out on the basis he would promise to drink nothing but his medicine, a large measure of which he poured into his glass.

After the alcohol-enriched beverage had raised the spirits of the others to levels where singing was required, and with that inevitability Tommy feared, one of the group said, “Oh go on then Albert, put a splosh in my glass and extended said vessel towards our nervous hero.

There was no escape he knew, so he poured a portion into the glass and “Bandage” as he was known to his chums, raised the container to his lips and took a cautious sip, and then another before turning round to his friends and saying, “Not bad, not bad at all. Lovely truth be told,” before turning back to Tommy and saying “Tell your Mum and Dad I’ll be round later to get the recipe.”

As Tommy walked home, that growing terror impending disaster brings, filled the aperture wherein his soul once dwelled and he asked the world around him if principal could be sacrificed on the altar of survival. The darkness offered no reply!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Uncategorized, Vampire | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

A Valentine’s Day Romance

Arnold, whose mind was not gripped by the everyday, lost as it was in fractured dreams, would rather be anywhere but where he was: locked in a stale relationship and funded by a job he found less rewarding than eating dust sandwiches, but then there was always a soothing drink and the looks, his “other woman, his future wife he hoped,” Sandra, gave him when he went into her shop: those looks which were becoming ever more personal he thought, intimate perhaps?

Sandra, was a busy girl, “On the up” as she used to say, whose most urgent energies where taken up with holiday brochures and ministering to the needs of her boyfriend Richard, who owned a restaurant up the road and surprisingly drove a Bentley. His parents had been wealthy, and so was he, but he could not sit idly by all day looking at inherited paintings, whatever their value, so had started a small business to pass the time which then turned out to be seriously successful, quite possibly because he did not need it to be so, who’s to say?

Richard had his insecurities, as did she, and only the mad do not perhaps, but somehow in that well-furnished wilderness he called a life she supplied a warmth which otherwise had not touched him. His father’s favourite sayings “Life is not personal” and, “If you have a problem, no one is interested!” might hold truths but offered little comfort to a small boy trying to discover his worth.

He was a mere twenty-five years older than she was and full those obscure insecurities we hid behind bravado, an urbane manner and, in Richard’s case, the ability to buy you an expensive meal but with her he was more real: “More ‘real’ than he had ever been.” He told her.

All that is by the by, and was unknown to Arnold as he walked back home full of daydreams about another life where he and Sandra might speak openly, admit their love and plan to furnish a home of their own: that he was married himself was a detail unconsidered because life was wearying enough without tarnishing your dream with facts.

At last, on Valentine’s Day, full of a love made larger by a drink or three, he walked into her shop armed with flowers and told her that he would love her always and they could both step away from their hampered lives and build a home together.

As he walked into her shop she had some trouble remembering who he was, though she knew he was a regular customer who sometimes made her laugh but she was less than pleased with this announcement and asked him to leave her shop forthwith, never to return.

At a loss, and confused by the outcome, he walked back home and lay the flowers on the table thinking at least his wife would be pleased to get them: she always liked a bit of romance!

Posted in Affair, character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

One True Love

A lifetime ago, when I was still at school I met Maria, bookish like me, and awkward, and in her company I found a companionship I had not known before and in the end, under a tree in the local park, as dictated by custom, we shared our first kiss: we were sixteen at the time.

There was an understanding that we would go no further and even holding hands was not discussed because both of us were private about feelings, and much else besides, but I’m sure the way we sought each other out and left the school gates together was dually noticed by those who take an interest in such things.

As time progressed we became more open and love was mentioned more than once and there was a sense we would share each other’s lives. All was wonderful until her father, who served in the Royal Airforce got posted abroad and naturally took Maria with him. In those days there were no mobile phones or emails so letters were exchanged and then with decreasing frequency until contact was lost: I believe she went to university in the States.

Life moves on, there is no other way, and I explored it awkwardly until at university I found other people as odd as me and made friends with them. Through one of them I met Emma, who was a nice girl and tolerant of awkwardness and generally at ease with things. She seemed to like me and one day she goaded me into proposing to her: it was Valentine ’s Day and I think she thought of me as reliable, something her father was not apparently. I admit I had slept with her and in those days that signalled an understanding I could not walk away from: at least she seemed to love me.

That singing feeling, the warmth and the simple pleasure of watching someone you love go about their day was not present but she was comfortable and seemed very happy to live a conventional life: in time we had two children

I cannot say I am an unhappy man, or happy for that matter but I live an ordered life, leaning on the compensations brought by a solid home, shared memories and the excitement I get from collecting rare books and so it might have continued until!

No 24, the house across the road, which had been for sale but now was taken and, you’ve guessed it, there she was, older of course and slightly thinner with greying hair and something in her walk which spoke of hard times but definitely Maria.

I went inside, panic mixed with curiosity but I was a man who was known for being boring, who hated uncertainty, so reliable and predictable must continue: that’s what I told myself!

I managed to avoid her, never leaving without checking all was clear and lived on tenterhooks but was otherwise alright. Alright that is until on the Saturday morning my wife, who always reaches out to people, walked in with Maria by her side saying “This is Maria, our new neighbour” and I said “How lovely” and shook her by the hand and looked as if I did not know her but Maria could always read me and I nodded awkwardly. Things passed off without incident, discounting raised blood pressure; Maria got the picture and played along with me.

After she left, my wife looked at me curiously and said “Are you all right, you look a bit flustered” and I said, I’m fine, but I was going out and now feel off-track.” She shook her head and said “Don’t be so boring” but she was smiling as she said it because boring is what she loves about me after a childhood filled with trauma.

Because I had to, I left the house, first checking the road was clear, and set off briskly towards the shops and a coffee house where I sometimes went to relax. As I turned a corner and neared my destination I felt a tap on my shoulder and turning round saw Maria, eyes filled with emotion, and before I could stop her she reached up and kissed me with the passion I remember from my youth. I stood there frozen as she said “I’ve never stopped loving you,” and before I could collect myself the door to my heart opened and chaos flooded in.

Posted in Affair, character, creative writing, faith, Love, morals, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , , | 44 Comments

Letter From My Grandfather

Going through my father’s papers recently, he died last year but we are busy people and it takes time to sift through the clutter which is other people’s lives, I found a letter which I read almost by chance, and realised how little I knew of the man I remember as just sitting in the corner of the room watching us grow and making no comment day by day.

” Dear Son,

Uncertainty is commonplace, the mess we make of life is commonplace, but during the war in an attic far above the street, lying with a lady whose name I did not know, but with whom I had escaped capture, human first and last, clinging to each other and a sense of humanity, we listened out for every sound, as down below the German soldiers walked our streets, seeking out their enemy.

Whatever we had done, together or separately was nothing beside the aggression that invading nation exercised, whose troops destroyed our own, and whose leader spoke of order as he understood it, though below us only carnage reigned,

In a city full of rape and plunder alien troops gorged themselves on villainy until, by some miracle, they had had their fill at last and moved onto to conquer fresh landscapes expanding their empire, after laying waste our land. We lay there silently: embarrassingly intimate as fear cast aside conditioning and wondered where the road to safety lay. We spoke in whispers, planned our escape which for now just meant lying there in stillness while darkness filled the room.

At last the city returned to something approaching normal and somehow we survived. The war of which I write seems unrepeatable but everything, I fear, is repeatable.

When you read this I will be gone to join your Mum, the lady who lay beside me on that night, and hopefully we shall find our peace at last.

May you, my son, know nothing of that world, and live to treasure those who touch your life. Time and again man imprints his chaos on the world around him but I pray you live in a period marked by harmony.



Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Humanity, Peter Wells, Understanding | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments