Etiquette And The Awkward Moment

I was best man at my oldest friends wedding recently. I calmed him as we stood in church waiting for his beautiful bride to make her appearance. The waiting lasted forever, you know how it is, but at last she appeared, stunning to a fault, and the church organ burst into life with the enthusiasm customarily displayed on such occasions.

It must be added, at this point , that she and I had been lovers for some months before this happy date but we had decided that silence was the kinder alternative to breaking my old chums heart, especially given the size of his trust fund and the fact that both her and my circumstances were significantly more modest in comparison. It had been the custom for years that he pay for holidays, so he could benefit from my social skills and I could share an experience I would otherwise not be able to enjoy, and it was on a trip to St Lucia that the warm bond between the three of us was deepened by an unexpected development.

Carletta, that was her name, and I had not always “clicked,” as it were, but over time, we had warmed to each other  to the point where, when he asked me to look after her for a couple of days when he sprained his ankle, both of us saw this opportunity to deepen our friendship as a gift from heaven, or possibly not from heaven, depending on your moral standpoint.

Like me, her finances did not run to exotic holidays, meals at expensive restaurants or those little items of jewellery with which he often demonstrated his love for her. ” He is the boring  yes no yes” suggested Carletta in her delightful accent, and I tended to agree with her, “But he has a lovely heart and is both loyal and generous” I suggested and she nodded in agreement while rubbing her engagement ring with the middle finger of her right hand. A touching gesture, I thought, made a little incongruous possibly,  by the fact we were both lying semi-naked, having just concluded what I considered to be an enjoyable episode of horizontal gymnastics.

Such was her fervour for me at that moment, that she suggested dumping my dearest friend and gambolling her whole future on my unimpressive career.  She soon saw the sense when I advised caution and so she suggested that a couple of years wedded bliss, with me near her to take the edge of the tedium, followed by a divorce citing “mental cruelty” where I could be a reluctant witness in her favour, might secure our finances, rather than just giving into our romantic instincts and walking off into the sunset and almost certain penury.

I do have a conscience, of course. Who doesn’t ? But while I allow it to comment on my actions I do not offer it a management role and pretty much do as I like.  Nevertheless, I was determined to make the adjustment as painless for him as possible. Carletta and I agreed that, after the wedding night, bedroom Pilates should be kept to a minimum making him more susceptible to the deep-thinking and tender hearted beauties I was determined to place in his company during our customary ” Lad’s night out.”

As the ceremony progressed, things took an unexpected turn when the vicar raised his head to address the congregation and asked, ” Can any man show just cause why these two people may not be lawfully joined together .” There was the customary silence before the groom piped up, “The bride is having sex with my best man.” Silence returned for another half-second or two before pandemonium broke out among the congregation and my best friend planted a decent right hook on the side of my head.

There was no reception.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 33 Comments

After Life

Peter Wells aka Countingducks:

I thought I’d let this post see the light of day as it has been one of my more popular efforts and possibly not seen by my newer follower !

As you can see, its gone a bit wrong, and its re-posted it as though it came from another blog altogether.

This is the kind of technical fumbling and incompetence it has taken four years to develop and its good to provide a new example of that attribute here.

Originally posted on countingducks:

Was that her, it seemed so long ago? Another life lived in another age. A young girl dressed  in white, beside the man she’d known since her birth. The son of her dad’s best friend, who played with her in his childhood, watching her back whilst they grew up in school.Her  wedding ring, unmarked, on  wrinkled hand, sends  memories rising from another time. His face, so warm and young . The sense of being home when he was there. The new born baby nestling in her arms. Him working the shop whilst she stood by his side. An ordinary life from any point of view , free of trophies or the cheering crowds, but,  full of meaning and rich in  small events.

This was her world. Now only  memories . A  glance across a table top. His finger tapping on the dinner plate. The children squabbling over the last chips while he, exhausted, smiled at their…

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Four Years A Blogging

Here is a picture WordPress sent me to mark my fourth anniversary on their site.


As you can see, no expense has been spared in WordPress’s celebration of my entrance to the vintage Bloggers club. To be honest, I wouldn’t have remembered that it was any kind of anniversary at all if this smart illustration had not popped up.

Over the four years lots of things have changed, not least is that a number of valued and treasured followers, and then my publishers have prompted me to write a book and then another book, and until I began this blog, writing a book had never occurred to me.

I have a Blogroll, because one did or must, but most of the people on it seldom if ever visit apart from a few and treasured individuals. It is also true that I have made many other contacts, some of whom are both talented and wonderful and who visit regularly and who are not on my Blogroll because I don’t seem to get round to updating it, and wince at the thought of removing a name from it , even thought they wouldn’t know and never visit now anyway. How stupid is that.

More than anything I realise now how ephemeral blogging is. It is a bit like a cocktail party held at a railway station where people keep a constant eye on the time because they are soon required somewhere else and have so much else to do, but apart from the obviously facile dimension to it, it remains a forum where disparate people of every age and culture join to share and discuss the powerfully intimate and yet general experience of being alive. There is a kind of beauty and music to blogging which transcends the idle chatter and makes me want to reach out to you all and say, “We all share this age together, albeit in different circumstances and cultures and touching your lives, as you have touched mine, has made my existence infinitely richer and I thank you all for it.”


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Celebrate or Criticise May We Ask ?

“Beauty,” as the wife observed “Lies just beyond the next alteration to her wardrobe or figure” and, as she might have added wisely, but didn’t, is often a subjective measurement based on a thousand variables unless you happen to be Plato, of course, who was quite a clever chap and thought of it as some concept based on the idea of “The absolute,” which, strange to say, is possibly what drives my good lady  forward in her search for the perfect outfit.

Her search for the perfect husband stopped with me some years ago, and that jaundiced look around her eyes suggests that she still blames herself for ordering from the menu of life without fully weighing up the choices. I suppose it’s fair to say she is not alone with that feeling.

Anyway, I am straying from my point, if I can remember what it is.  I know it centres on memories of my old friend Charlie who did the “Mystic Shuffle” last month and who enjoyed the send-off a man of his character and social standing deserved I’m afraid. No one turned up for the service apart from myself and some guy who was seeking shelter from the rain. My good lady refused to attend, citing a backlog of ironing, but I suspect she did not wish to be seen in the company of morally worthless individuals, including her husband, whether in or outside the box. ( No thinking required inside the box apparently, but that’s another topic: I must not get distracted. )

Thinking outside the box is my forte, My “Specialité de Maison,” which actually means I often lose the thread of my conversations, wardrobe or anything else which is not firmly attached to my person. Still, where was I. Oh yes.

Charlie, God bless him, because who else would, was a man of colourful character whose egalitarian approach to life was born out by the fact that he managed to offend the vast majority of people he met without regard to race, sex, age, height or fashion sense. However, he had two friends, myself and Sid, (Who missed the funeral because he forgot to use the stairs when going down to the cellar recently, and broke his leg. )  We used to hang around him like those small fish who sit on the backs of sharks enjoying the odd morsel which escapes their host’s attention.

In our cases it was Charlie’s social fauz pas which added spice to our day, and I will miss the drive and sense of purpose he brought to achieving social ruin before his demise. The lack of attendance at his funeral suggests he got as near as anyone does in achieving their life’s goals. Indeed, there was a certain edge to the vicar’s brief eulogy, possibly resulting from that time when our Charlie got a bit “fresh” with the vicar’s wife at some fund raising gig to do with the church roof. On that note, I must say, the church remained dry throughout the service which just goes to show that not all these fund raising efforts are pointless, however poor the catering, but that’s another story.


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A Life Viewed Through Artifacts

You walk where once we walked,  collecting objects with no knowledge of my ownership, and yet in my time I used and sometimes loved each one of them. Each little fork and button, now brushed by your enquiring hand, was felt or viewed with awe or fear or love according to its status and utility by those, like me, who sat among these stones, living out each passing day, caught up in daily urgencies and  questions about our destiny.

My name is Agnetha, and I lived in the space in which you stand; sipped from that cup you hold so carefully and sat on the stone  where you now rest your tools. You wonder how I lived my life. Look to yourself and you will find me there. I knew not what you know and knew much that is now buried among your new certainties, but the touch and breath of life remains unaltered. We also had our postures and a wish to be known, but only on our terms. Is that not always so?

Our Gods receive no worship now, supplanted by new deities. Our customs hidden under dust, now seem quite alien to you, but something in your enquiring mind, and the way you miss your family, reminds me of what we held dear. Preserved in this lover’s sanctuary, in which you walk so  carefully, is our message to posterity.

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Memoirs Of An Exile,

Do you know how often you were loved? I do. Just once, and not by my own mother, brother or sisters. As children, and as a family, we lived in a sea of wreckage, trying to make sense of our own experiences, and at a loss for feelings or words. Love was not on the menu, but at last I left my childhood home.

Later, during one of those brief periods when I enjoyed something like perspective, a girl’s eyes fell on me, polite and shy in the company of strangers, yet gradually they filled with interest, then warmth ,and finally with love, as she saw in me all that a girl could wish for in a man she thought, and so I married her, because not to do so would have been decisive, and I was never that.

As what I called “Awareness” returned to me, I looked at what I thought of as being her prosaic ambitions; including a home, children, and an address of suitable anonymity and I became restless until I said, “Life must offer more than this. More than suburban correctitude, along with church attendance, politeness to neighbours and a sublimation of all desire for adventure,”and so I left her, fuelled by desperation and a determination to tread the unexplored, whatever the cost, because in my youth my brothers in arms were Leonardo de Vinci, Shackleton and John Steinbeck, and to settle for average seemed a despairing comment on the possibilities of life

Now, after some decades, I have discovered the cost of the vanity which drove me to that action. I have discovered that life really is prosaic, and yet wonderful and challenging  all in a single breath  and in the same moment, but now I have no one left with which to share that message. I have discovered the price of being “An attendant lord” in the ante-chamber of a hundred noble lives, but I am not yet ready to accept the average day. I will “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” and refuse to sit on the park bench smiling at the antics of some infant child as if they were endearing.

I will walk on into darkness seeking an observation worthy of the pain spent in living honestly.  I will not go softly, maturely or with dignity towards my demise. My life has been wild, drunken, joyous, alien and powerfully present, and until I fall into a grave, I hope I can say, “I lived, and happiness or composure, or the correct dress of the hour were never my concern. Somewhere out in this fog bound wilderness we called “Experience,”  is a body named “Profundity” and I am determined to define it, though I have yet to do so.”

Emotion is not polite. Life is not polite, and I still long for more than the conventional. I am that man, either drunken or mad, who staggers up to you in the Mall, unshaven and possibly un-showered, and says, “Is this it?” and you back away from me, of course, because you are still living a  “Real life,” a “Planned life” which is something I gave up on some decades ago. I will remain, unless I prove myself at last; that most disregarded of individuals: the missed opportunity, the man beyond the pale: a child of the  alternative universe, a Sphinx in the corner of your imagination.

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As Luck Would Have It

“What’s not to love” thought Reggie Spangler, walking through his living room. “More blue sky than you could drink in a lifetime, lovely warm weather and the wife away for a fortnight’s holiday with her charming sister,”

His heart swelled in a feeling of celebration, but to be fair to our joyous hero’s heart found some reason to swell on most mornings and so, as usual, he threw open the doors to the garden and stepped out onto his freshly clipped grass singing, as he always did, “I’m so lucky, lucky luckiiii,. I’M SO LUCKYYYYY NOWA”

As he sucked his breath in to begin the second line a single shot rang out and Reggie fell without further comment to the ground. He was dead: no longer with us, Doing the mystic shuffle, or however you want to phrase it, but the cause of death was not in doubt. Across the fence stood Dan Growler, his next door neighbour, with a gun in one hand and a mobile phone to his ear. When his call was answered he said, “I’ve shot a man and I’m glad to say he is dead” and then he gave his address.

After a short delay, involving the not to be rushed consumption of bacon sandwiches and coffee, a couple of police constables turned up to find Dan at his front gate and the gun tactfully lying on the wall away from him and with the barrel facing towards the house.

Needless to say he was arrested, tried, sentenced and found himself inside Parkhurst jail facing a sentence of fifteen years. Grumpy his entire life, he was glad to be in a community rich in complainers and those who declared themselves innocent on a daily basis ,regardless of the evidence. He discovered himself to be among kindred spirits and when they asked why he was inside, he told them.

“Every morning. Every bloody morning, my neighbour would stride out into his garden singing “I’m so lucky” and it just drove me mad. I mean every bloody morning, “I’m so lucky blah blah blah” until one day I just stood up, got my gun out and shot the little bugger right between the eyes.”

For the first time in about thirty eight years he smiled. “Oh the silence was bloody heaven. I mean you could almost drink it, and now that little toad will never chant again.”  Heads around him nodded. “Know what you mean Dan.” said the man beside him before turning to the other inmates at the breakfast table saying, ” Do you remember what it was like when old Nobby Savage fell down, dead as a Dodo?” and again, heads around the table nodded in agreement.

“It doesn’t get any better does it?” He turned back to Dan and filled him  on the dead wardens failings in luscious detail, to even more nodding and agreement from this brotherhood of inmates. Dan looked around at him at this sea of faces, revelling in life’s lucky breaks, and almost without warning, a feeling of oneness and joy filled him. At last he was with a bunch of geezers who spoke his language, were on his wave-length and understood the meaning of life, and he had fifteen bloody marvellous years to enjoy their company.

Before he could stop himself, his mouth opened and he found he was beginning to sing that song lodged deep in his subconscious. For the first time in his life he gained a glimpse inside the head of his recently departed neighbour.   “I’m  so lucky, lucky”  he began, and then managed to clamp his jaw shut. “Bloody hell,” he thought.  He felt brilliant. If  Reggie was there, what would he do ? “Life eh. Mysterious or what !”

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