A Breakfast Conundrum


I am at that age when it is possible to look straight past a lady to the vision of culinary excellence before her: in this case a breakfast of two sausages, a poached egg and a modestly displayed collection of baked beans escorted towards taste heaven by two slices of toasted brown bread: all good and marvellous, I am sure you will agree, and accompanied by a small bowl filled with brown sauce.

Like a man bewitched I saw her assemble her first forkload of food, about a fifth of a sausage, dunked in the egg yoke and then placed under a soothing blanket of beans before being carefully inserted into her waiting mouth.

By the third mouthful I was overwhelmed by curiosity and emotion and could not stop myself walking up to her table and saying, “I’m sorry to bother you but don’t you find a small element of the brown sauce extends the flavours available in the breakfast and adds a touch of music to the experience.”

She looked at me with some alarm and then said, “I find if the mouthful is assembled with the correct ratios then the range of flavours can be quite wonderful on their own without the muddling addition of the brown sauce.” Now I was transfixed because here was another being who used the word “ratios” in relation to food: one of my favourite concepts. My paper on “The time to taste ratio” in evaluating a cooked meal” was submitted to the Royal College of Physics some years ago although I am still awaiting their reply.

To add to the excitement, she then waved to the chair opposite suggesting I might take my considerable weight off my legs for the duration of the conversation. “I’ve never heard anyone else use the word ‘ratio’ in relation to food before” I said, “Apart from myself” and it was obvious my gaze was lurching towards the personal. “It’s a fundamental concept in the science of food evaluation, “ she said, adding “Are you married!?” On a number of occasions but not currently “ I replied. “And yourself?” I asked, “Currently but not permanently” she replied.

I smiled then at a lady with whom a deep kinship might be possible. “Romance is better approached as a Tapas bar rather than a single main course” I suggested and she replied, “It’s all about the conversations between the flavours and we nodded as only those who have discovered a similar approach to the menu of life can do.

Thus it was that I, Wilber Artichoke, met a good lady who might join me in researching the science behind the perfect forkful and who knows what might happen once we begin discussing that immoral landscape so often inhabited by desserts!

Posted in creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Clara


Our first dance together was at ages five and six, the picture is in an album at my mother’s. We, Clara and I,met at junior school and then shared the same senior school: through careful planning we managed to go to the same university. She was always the more sensible one, the careful one: the girl who chided me on my excesses. Even when we were very young, I behaved as I wanted to, but was moderated always by her caring stability and common sense.

She was unadventurous, and crippled by social caution and over influenced by the opinions of others I always thought, and I was always telling her to breath the air and live a little, On some level we irritated each other or stimulated each other: it was hard to decide which, but whatever the situation we always trusted each other. She would scolded me constantly and kept my behaviour somewhere near the acceptable: I would listen to her, if to no one else.

She had a couple of boyfriends of the boring kind and I, of course, was drinking from the trough of opportunity. In our early mid-teen years she might smile at me in a goofy way and I got the unsettling impression she sought more from me than friendship, but I was hooked on adventure and not ready to be harnessed and quite soon the moment passed: she had too much common sense to chase a lost cause and that is what I gradually became.

Over time at university I found myself behaving ever more recklessly in the hope of getting a reaction from her but somehow she had lost interest in managing my behaviour and then there was Nigel. She was always warm, and personal, but in some subtle way she no longer spoke our private language.

Somewhere in our second year his name appeared in her conversation, and then he became a presence at our meetings: nothing was said but I was no longer her first concern; her loyalties had shifted. Had I missed the point? Love had waved to me but I did not understand it’s blessings.

At her wedding to the calm and collected Nigel, with whom a house had already been purchased, I sat half way down the church and somewhere near the aisle. I was gripped by a growing sense of loss and my own stupidity which I concealed within myself because I had always took the role of the man with nothing to lose, and I was a victim of that image.

Time moved on and I saw her less frequently. There is a suspicion in my mind that Nigel viewed me with caution, who can say, but in time, as an antidote to drifting and lost opportunities, I became engaged to a girl named Sarah, whose needs were easy to read. I credited her with keeping me just this side of madness, until a wedding seemed the inescapable conclusion to our courtship.

At the reception, where I smiled for the camera’s, and danced with my new bride to John Lennon’s “Woman,” those who knew me looked on at the wild man brought to safety with some relief.By accident, I met with Clara in a passage by the hallway. It was our first moment alone in many years, and she reached up and touched my arm and told me, “It’s so lovely to see you happy.” Emotion came from somewhere in the shadows and overwhelmed me ” But she isn’t you Clara” I said and bowed my head. There was a sense of wrenching and she moved away. When I looked back, her eyes told me I had betrayed her way back then, and I knew I had.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Love, marriage, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Happy Christmas To My Readers


It’s that time of year, once again, when we think about holly and Christmas trees, mince pies and most of all friends and family. My mother always used to raise her glass at Christmas lunch and make a toast to “Absent friends!” This applies to so many of you that I hardly know where to begin.

It is a strange aspect of social media that some of the most impressive, moving and quietly courageous people I have come across will be people I will never meet.

Connecting with you all has made such a difference to my world and I wish everyone of you the very best of Christmas’s and New Year.

Posted in blog, Christmas, creative writing, Life, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 41 Comments

The Cost Of Love


The Cost Of Love

He loved her in his non-committal way, and every morning without fail, as he left their home, would say, “Enjoy your day,” and wave his hand to emphasis the comment: he didn’t believe in altering routines! His wife, was more expressive than him, she thought, and with that edge of manicured hysteria which marks out the gifted from the pack; those who munched their way mindlessly through life, like soulless cattle feeding from the trough.

“He doesn’t love me. Where’s the hunger ?” had been her lament to any lover, though her husband cared for her in every material way and her wardrobes spoke of everything but neglect, yet she, clinging to her version of lament, was past noticing those truths wrapped in humdrum details.

Alfonso, her new landscape-painting tutor, whose class she joined two months or more ago, searched her soul with brazen soulful eyes, ravaging her composure with those words of his, dispelling the air of boredom which was her signature reaction to the world around her. “Love has no boundaries and no government, he said. “It sweeps all before it. It sculpts us with its passion”

“Oh yes” said Karen, for that was her name, ” What depths this man from foreign climes possesses: he is both painter and prophet!” and so when he suggested she displayed a raw if untrained genius with her brush , so he must coach her privately at his home, she agreed without hesitation and soon with a deft, dare we say practised, hand he removed her clothing proving, once again, that love hath no boundaries, and, he might have added, “Can be vague about morals.”

Two souls caught in a sublime light: fragile beings trapped in a dull suburban landscape: oh how they longed for a more glorious backdrop, with moonlight and the scent of tropical flowers to celebrate their newly discovered urgency. Both of them lacked resources, which stifling fact threatened this sacred union where eternal joy and beauty both found sanctuary.

Lying awake in bed, some time after husband had drifted off to sleep, she said to herself, “No more of this” and determined to remove this dull pedantic being from her life. “You are not worth another moment of my time” she mouthed silently to his inert figure as her delicate heart filled with chilling purpose. Promising herself to reveal her thoughts to no one but her lover, she investigated poisons which could kill, and yet leave no trace within a couple of hours.

Impressively, if that’s the word, she managed to obtain some after requesting help from her darling Alfonso, who had brought her to the brink of paradise and wished for nothing but her happiness, recognising their life and love together required a larger canvas and must not be denied by suburban morality. Her husband, they agreed. could show no greater appreciation for his wife’s frustrated genius than, leaving this earth, allowing her to make their dreams come true.

As it happened, her husband, dull beyond the powers of description, and without any imagination she believed, tasted something odd in his first mouthful of soup and raising his eyes, saw the fearful unease she tried to hide as she stared back at him. Somehow he understood her plan, and sadness more than anger filled his heart. He loved her beyond definition but sometimes she could be a silly and clearly wanted free of him, if not his wealth.

With calm deliberation, he filled his spoon again, and looking back at her said, “Lovely as always.” Her heart filled with remorse and something approaching self-knowledge, but as she opened her mouth to tell him “Stop,” he swallowed the noxious liquid. His dry acknowledgement reminding her of his unspoken gentle qualities, but now the die was cast, and his eyes, filled with uncritical love, dulled, then ceased to shine. He tipped sideways off his chair leaving this life without unnecessary comment.

“Heart attack,” the doctor said. Truth be told his own mother was ill and he, distracted and not that fussed with this routine event, allowed Justice to sleep a while longer, so the romantic pair could set off on their enchanted voyage of self discovery. In time our heroine sat quietly neglected once again, but on a beach, while Alfonso, her new husband, reminded his growing class of ever younger ladies how “Love has no boundaries” and neither, it seemed, did his appetites.

He seldom commented on practical or domestic matters but he might remark, if pressed, that he never let his wife do the cooking.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

A Slip Of The Tongue


It was my father who told me once, that if you wanted to enjoy a sensible conversation with my mother it was important to catch her attention before noon. As he said, “She does not object to swallowing but will not suffer the drudgery of chewing too early in the day.” Apparently, all her nutrients, up to that hour were taken in liquid form, normally stiffened with Vodka: her conduct thus became increasingly ‘random’ as the day progressed. Her“Inner Calling,” as she called it, was as a “Conceptual Artist: no I don’t know what that means either.

I tell you this because it makes some things clearer. My mother, in lucid moments, and perhaps more vocally in her, “Charismatic Interludes” was a fanatical fan of Winston Churchill. When I also mention that she went to the town hall at three-thirty in the afternoon to register my name, following a celebratory luncheon with some of the town’s finest, you may now understand why my first name is “Winsome,” which is probably as near as she could get to her intended target after a bottle and a half of her favourite fluid.

“Winsome Green” does not carry the weight our famous statesman enjoyed, but it still raised eyebrows in a variety of venues as I progressed towards adulthood. My mother’s brittle and inflexible lack of interest in”unimaginative facts,” to quote her phrase, meant that no one, including my father, had the nerve to suggest she had made an error.

Being a “Conceptual Artist” meant she was called on to behave oddly, and strike up strange and often embarrassing poses in the most regrettable of places and circumstances; sometimes using what we might call “ minimalist wardrobe.” She was arrested while practising her art on a number of occasions by men in blue who insensitively called her “Interpretive Brilliance” , “Drunk and Disorderly Conduct.” I’m not sure if this calling ever involved the transfer of monies into her bank account, but, to quote her; “Uninspired realities should not influence the life of the Gifted,” amongst whom she included herself.

My father, who used to refer to his marriage to my mother as being like “Trying to hang on to a barrage balloon in a gale” left her when I was fourteen and ran or rode off with a traffic warden after a brief courtship originating, most unusually, in a disagreement over parking bays. However odd that sounds, I can tell you that they are still together and show every sign of being a devoted couple. When I asked my father what the secret of his happy marriage to his second wife was, he replied, possibly unkindly, “She’s nothing like your mother,” Some people may understand his point of view.

Needless to say, following his departure, my remaining childhood was spent in exploring the opportunities for under-achievement in various schools and colleges before I entered my working life as a trainee bicycle engineer.
None of this is relevant except, following my interesting childhood, I met up with a girl who was a cycling enthusiast and, for undisclosed reasons, she appears to love me. Indeed she told me once that what drew her to me was “I could take all the love she had to give” which tells you quite a lot about her character and my history I suspect.

I am pleased to announce that we are now expecting our first child, but must also tell you that my mother is coming over for a celebratory luncheon to discuss possible names for the unborn infant. I shall be attempting to keep her away from the town-hall during any official ceremonies. Her new hero is Roald Dahl: try saying that after a bottle or two of some challenging fluid. “What was that name again!?”

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Bunter Macintosh Joins A Gym


Avoiding mirrors has been the central rule in my self-penned “Guide to Contentment” on the grounds of such views interfering with an enjoyment of cake and sausage rolls: all well, good and sensible until the other morning while, as I debated on whether to go for the full English or wave a hand in the general direction of health with a bowl of morally rich muesli, I wandered in front of the very object I normally avoid.

The Macintosh waistline is spread generously over a significant number of inches, or is that feet, and this became very apparent when it flaunted it’s girth in the mirror opposite. “Enough is enough” I said to myself and determined to join the gym which had opened recently in our town at a convenient location opposite the local pub.

A few pounds lighter, in the financial sense only, I found myself wandering into said gym dressed in a generous T-shirt, newly acquired trainers and shorts. The place was full of people looking disturbingly focussed in my opinion, although the Macintosh code of conduct allows for no personal comment apart from the occasional head-nodding exchange!

The equipment is baffling to the untrained eye but I allowed myself to wander on to a sort of running machine. As I stepped onto it I said to the chap on the adjoining machine, “Faster or slower eh” which I find can open conversations on a wide variety of topics. He said nothing but pointed at a button on the running thing before returning to the apparently customary imitation of a monk reflecting on something like the benefits of fat-free lettuce!

I stepped onto the contraption and gave the button a few cheerful prods before turning to the monk and winking in a “We are all comrades in the search for fitness” way. The contraption whirred into action and I got the Mackintosh feet moving with commendable enthusiasm but still I found the machine moving faster and faster to the point where my hands could no longer reach the controls. At last, despite the very best of efforts I was thrown off the back of the machine, knocking over a passing lady to whom I had not been formally introduced as I did so. “Macintosh” I said to remedy this lapse, while extending my hand in her direction, but she glared at me suggesting she had no wish to develop our acquaintanceship!

As I was attempting to rise to my feet a disturbingly trim gentleman, wearing a badge to show he held a position of responsibility, suggested I collect my stuff and leave the premises without delay. “Of course, of course” I said, adding, “Perhaps fitness is not for everyone!” He did not reply emphasising that conversation is seldom explored in that place, as well as thoughts about carrot cake which is what I consoled myself with at the pub sited conveniently across the road.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

A Life Portrayed In Photographs


It was my friend Colin who said, there are two records of your life: one told in the photographs and the other through the impressionist pictures which describe how you felt in the same period. Sometimes it’s hard to see how both medium’s are describing the same life.

“Smile for the camera” the photographer said, “And damn the truth” and that’s how I’ve always played it. I’ve managed twenty-eight years of marriage and built a career as a jobbing solicitor dealing with events which do not make the news such as the sale of your house or the drafting of a will. It is not challenging work and could be done by anyone with common sense, some experience and the ability to smile even when bored: that’s where the paintings come in.
I could show you the photographs: me and my wife Sarah standing in front of a lighthouse at some Devon fishing village, I forget which one, and another of us with our youngest son, Geoffrey, taken when he was learning to ride a bike and many others. I’m in most of the photograph, smiling merrily as always though my heart longed to be in another place.

That’s the story in the main, although I should include our office manager Jackie who’s worked at my firm for the last nine years and been my lover for seven of them: both of us are very aware of consequences and careful of the world around us. To make matters a little more complicated, Jackie is a meant to be a devout practising catholic who still lives with her parents and any mention of my name in a private capacity would be beyond shocking to them: our more intimate exchanges take place during late night “Working sessions” on a settee in my office.

All well good and sordid until emotion got the better of me one evening and I said to her, “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to divorce Sarah and marry you” and her eyes just shone, sparkled if you like, and she replied, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that for so long. I will make you happy” and you could tell she spoke from the bottom of her heart.

We agreed she would have to leave our practice and get another job to mute the scandal and then I would get my divorce and move in with her. Jackie left our firm as agreed, and everyone was sad about her going but wished her well and then life went on while I learnt to deal with a new office manager who did not ask me if I wanted a biscuit with my coffee or even if I wanted a coffee at all.
Things carried on as normal, with my wife criticising me at breakfast and then telling me what we would be doing at the weekend and, as always, there was a quality of discrete vulnerability beneath her commanding exterior. One day at breakfast the truth hit me: that it was her vulnerability which moved me and I could not bear to hurt her so with Jackie I was indulging in a fantasy. I would miss the warm conspiratorial love and the sex of course: my wife has given up “That messy practice “ some years before.

I texted Jackie to say how very sorry I was but that I just could not go through with it to which she replied, “Do not contact me again. You broke my heart” and I look at that text every single day wondering if I’ve made a terrible mistake. I always discussed the main events of my life with her since we became lovers, and treasured her advice, but on this most important question she is not there to help me.

I do not have her photograph but I will paint my feelings about her for eternity. Someone once said, as a joke, that his advice to a coward would be to never hurt someone when they are in the same room as you. Perhaps he was talking to me!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments