Fate And The Ordered Life

Geoffrey Longridge, a widower of twenty-eight years standing, lost his young wife as a result of a car accident leaving him childless and alone. Emotion was something he employed sparingly, and in his memory of her he had a reservoir of intimacy which had provided all the nourishment he needed. Her photographs were everywhere in his house and mind, and conversations with her departed soul remained the most urgent in his life. She had been his co-conspirator, his map and compass, and without her he had become a mannered and directionless soul, living a dutiful life working, latterly as the chief librarian in his local town.

His sensibilities,  central to his life, were tuned to connect with ideas and vistas rather than people so that he had a quality of civilised distance about him which marked him out in the community. He was more the receiver than the teller of stories, but you could tell the quality of your words by the power of his response. He had an undercurrent of sensibility not often revealed in his manner or conversation. Sometimes, in a stubborn attempt to awaken interest in an artistic dimension among the local population, he would invite speakers to give talks at the library on matters literary, or sometimes just to recount their recent adventures. He loved the way some small event could make an individual discover themselves.

So it was that he invited a poet, who had recently returned from the tropics, to give a reading from her latest book of poems: the product of her experiences there. Her sense of life and its adventures seemed exotic to a man whose formative, and then more mature impressions, were gathered throughout a life bound by ritual and routine within the small English county where he had lived and worked all his life. At the appointed hour she arrived at the building and he guided her to the room were a small but appreciative audience applauded her entrance. Brief introductions were made and then the poet began her recital.

The audience was moved by her assurance and intensity: her words igniting their dormant imaginations. She was the living embodiment of artistic courage, a dramatic reader of her own verse, and the audience responded to her urgency. At last the reading was over and, noticeably, the applause at the end of it was more real and energised than the polite clapping of hands which had signalled her introduction. After the event, poet and librarian sat together on a bench near the entrance and looked at the abstract painting before them, which seemed almost like a conceptual map of imagination.

“Do you like abstract art ?” she asked him earnestly. “Yes” replied Geoffrey and suddenly he seemed to be no more than a puppet. A will stronger than his own pushed him forward and he found himself kissing her forehead, then her cheek and finally her lips with a release and abandon which, till now, had been entirely alien to him. She was the first women to whom he had opened himself in twenty-eight years and he was stunned by his own actions. Instead of shrinking away from him she seemed to be somewhere between the polite and receptive as he talked to and then kissed her in turn and again. Finally, without any comment on his behaviour, she told him she had a dinner engagement. They rose from the bench and he showed her to the door.

He had no address for her, apart from her email, or any knowledge of her circumstances, excepting some blurb on her website and after she had gone he sat down again and stared at that painting as if it might supply him with an answer. What does a polite man do, living largely within convention, when he has stepped outside himself and kissed a lady so? The painting offered no advice.

Posted in character, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , | 41 Comments

A Brief Update On My Fitness Goals

Ok, I don’t really have any, but that doesn’t stop me measuring so I can see how every thing is going wrong over a bottle or two of Malbec or Pino Grigio if the weather is too warm.

As recently as two years ago I acquired one of those quietly flashy IPhone things which just shows those who pass me in the Mall that I might look moth-eaten, and badly dressed to boot, but yet I am  clearly still “In the groove”

Now, with the aid of my Ambassador to all things Technical, I’ve put a sort of diet and fitness thing on my phone and laptop and connected it to something clever which counts the number of steps you take, cakes you eat and then says something at the end of the day like, “If you continue to guzzle anything you can get your greedy hands on like you have today you will be 800 lbs by the end of the week.”

As a snarky aside, I heard it mention that “Gettting out of bed, and stopping pretending that every vintage film you notice in the TV schedule is a “Must See” is a major advantage to those seeking beach fitness.

I am not seeking beach fitness, but I wouldn’t mind looking a bit dapper while I eat an afternoon tea, the recognised reward for anyone who spurned that third sausage at breakfast and refused ice cream with his sticky toffee pudding. Will power is everything is it not ?

Posted in character, community, Fiction, fitness, humour, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Excerpt From “The Man Who Missed The Boat”

This is an excerpt from my new novel in which one of the main characters is brought face to face with the consequences of his actions.

” He stood in the cold outside his former life and home and discovered the reality of what it is to be an exile. To see a world continue, but no longer be a part of it. With all that gone, he knew that he could not just knock on the door. Say he was “only passing” and “Could he have a cup of tea”, Standing there, looking at the small front lawn, he remembered planting it about twelve years before, and even recalling, cruel as the memory now seemed, his wife Ruth coming out to him with tea and with a young Amy, then just two years ,old clinging to her dress. The very picture of an ordered family, now decimated by his lack of will, destroyed by a temptation unimagined in those sweet early years. What had he done?

There were no tears, but only a deepening sadness and that sense of isolation, until at last, he turned on his heel, and set off back to his new lodgings. For now at least, he would find no comfort here, and he must do his best to build a life out of the ruins he created. There is a phrase, largely in disuse, but somehow it surfaced in his mind. He had become ‘Beyond the pale’ whatever that might mean, and climbing back out of it was a journey he had difficulty to contemplating.

The adverts say there is always sunshine, but there is not always sunshine. We feel there must be hope but, for some, there is not always hope, and the world without it is a dark and exposing place. Giles walked his walk more alone in mind and spirit than he had ever been. The wilderness rose up around him, as if by some strange magic, and grappled at his limbs with merciless stamina. There seemed no  destination left with  purpose. The journey home, or whatever that place was called, was one of instinct rather than direction. Free of strategy, and without any emotional bearings he moved because he had no other choice. It was the last thing he had left, and he would just keep moving and praying, because that was all there was, apart from his engrossing solitude.”

Will life get better or worse for Giles. If you are curious, click on the blue image beside this post and find out !

Posted in Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

A Brief Courtship Of Sorts

As a young man, sometime before the war, I lived in a world “Of certain certainties” as some poet said, or may have said. I’ve never been of the bookish persuasion but you get my drift: we dressed for dinner, played cricket, gentlemen versus players, every August on the green, and obeyed conventions in public as if conformity were as natural as breathing. My private thoughts were of a different colour, but when has that not been true. After all, as another poet possibly remarked, “Manners the wild savage doth contain” and aint that the truth by God.

Anyway,  in those times I, unmarried and a recent graduate from Cambridge visited my aunt in Boshom and found myself co-opted onto the cricket team, some young notable having fallen ill, and played, I am forced to admit, with some ability. A  charming girl approached me at the tea after the match and remarked on my bowling in a manner which invited further conversation.

Her name was Araminta I discovered, and she was the daughter of a noted local family. Her manner was bright, engaging and possibly beguiling and I wondered how I could extend our acquaintanceship to later in the evening when I knew a small number of the local “worthies,” among others, would be gathering at my aunts house for “Drinks” which in those days was a way of inviting people to your home without the bother of preparing a meal.

My aunt, who had little about her of note, apart from having attended the funeral of Queen Victoria, an incident which frequently made its way into her conversation, did what many in declining circumstances do, which was stick rigidly to convention, albeit on a reduced scale, so that offering “Drinks” instead of a meal was a way of clinging to the last of her contacts in gentrified circles without, in her case, the expense of providing full-blown hospitality.

Emboldened by Araminta’s  friendliness and forward manner, I asked her if she was “Coming up later” for drinks at my aunt’s, whose name I told her, was Mrs Derringer. Her  face stiffened very subtlely, in the way only those who have been repeatedly  slighted on social grounds would notice, and she said “Sadly I have other plans” before drifting off to talk to another young man I did not know but who had played in the same team as I.

She was a dazzling beauty framed in social caution who, I later discovered, went on to marry a senior civil servant some years older than herself  who “worked tirelessly,” which just means worked, at the Home Office during the war. Later, I was employed by an engineering business in an undistinguished capacity, thus emphasising, much to my aunt’s dismay, how far we had drifted from the county set. I married a women who grew to love me in her own way but who disliked any “fuss” unless, of course, she , herself was making it. I never met Araminta again, but my conversation with her was the closest I got to what many people describe as a romance so the snub I received from her remains fresh to this day. The harshest truths, it seems, are often implied rather than stated.

Posted in character, community, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

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.”


Posted in blog, community, creative writing, Environment, faith, Life, Peter Wells, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 66 Comments