She Is Such An Odd Girl

I came across another post from the archives. I believe this was the very first Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge!

So this is my response to a new picture prompt from the great Fandango! And I am chuffed with myself because it a genuine bit of flash-fiction, not a story from my life (although I did used to go walking all day in the countryside – I never played the flute and my parents were not anxious about me!)

Fandango’s picture prompt is directly under the title, and the other little pictures I have just thrown in to brighten the post up!

She Is Such An Odd Girl


“I don’t know what to do with Angela. I never had this trouble with her older sisters. It’s beyond me to understand why she is so different. I don’t know what else to try.”

“I must admit, I do feel sorry for you. She doesn’t want to hang around with my Jenny or any of the other girls at school. I know they have invited her to go shopping with them or to parties. She always declines. It’s not as if the other girls are not trying to get her involved!”

“She is just shut off in her own little world. She doesn’t seem to want friends. I always thought she was shy. But she is so stubborn and determined at times, I don’t think it is shyness at all.”

“Where does she go when she takes herself off with her flute-case Maud? Is she having lessons outside of school?”

“I don’t know Christine. When I ask her where she has been, she gives me such strange answers. I used to ask her sisters where they had been when they came home late. They replied like normal teenagers and said “nowhere“. Angela leaves the house as soon as the sun starts to rise and is always back before it sets. I ask Angela where she has been and she looks at me straight into my eyes and says “everywhere”.

“What does she mean?”

“I have no idea. I ask her who she has been with, and she claims to have been with her friends. But it’s all in her head. She doesn’t have any friends! Nobody ever calls at the house for her or rings asking to speak to her. I do wonder if she has some kind of imaginary friends.”

“How odd!”

“That’s exactly it Christine. She is such an odd girl. George wants her to see a specialist doctor or a psychiatrist to try to get to the bottom of why she is acting so strangely. But Angela is refusing to cooperate. I am so worried about her, I am at my wits end!”

“I am so sorry for you Maud. You are clearly under so much stress. Angela is putting you and George through misery. She clearly needs some kind of help. I remember my cousin telling me about a counsellor who helped her son Charles when he wanted to run away from home. Perhaps I could ask her for the counsellor’s phone number.”

“Oh would you Christine? I am desperate to try anything or anyone who could help. I just want a normal teenage daughter and not one that keeps always on the edge of a nervous breakdown!”

The First Few Chapters

You may know that before I published The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon…I published one part at a time on my very own blog over a period of around seven months.

Now when I was writing the first few chapters, I had an idea in my head I had read a book not long before. The book I read told almost the same story from the differing points of view of seven different people. It was very clever. I was so impressed by this style, I tried to employ it to some extent in Annabelle’s emerging backstory.

First of all Jenna tells Chris what she has overheard of Annabelle’s past (which is all based on malicious gossip). When Chris is trying to learn more about Annabelle, Burt Jennings says very little. Overhearing Chris is asking questions, Pearl tells him what she knows of Annabelle’s story. Eventually, Annabelle and Chris start up a friendship, but Annabelle is careful with what she shares. Annabelle confides in Gina (Chris’ older sister), sharing some of the details she has not dared to share with the older folk in the town of Blackwood. Of course, the different information Chris has heard only makes sense when Annabelle finally chooses to reveal her past to him.

I know what I was trying to do….but for a reader who is new to Annabelle Riley’s story, I think those first few chapters can be confusing. So I have been going over the first half of the first book “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves” with a view to revising the flow. I don’t want readers to find it annoyingly repetitive. I want to edit those chapters so that each character reveals something different about Annabelle, but not identical details.

Editing just never stops, does it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Initiative At Work

Teacher, Female, College, Student

I am sometimes a little wary of “initiative” in a work setting. I will explain why.

In my experience, some managers like to be in control. That is not necessarily negative, after all they bear the responsibility, the accountability to their senior. But over the years I have seen that sometimes managers view the “initiative” their team show to be a blessing or they may see it as a threat. I have worked in so many different fields and had both male and female managers of all ages and cultures. I have seen issues in team dynamics many times. Sometimes human relationships are the hardest thing about team spirit. People like to have respect, praise and acknowledgment.

Happy, University, Happy Students

This is one reason why I have developed the habit of communicating with my manager regularly, checking they are happy with any thing different I am doing, asking permission before any major changes to the way I work. I am wary of becoming a lone ranger at work, when actually we should be a team, working under the guidance of our manager and following company or organisational policies. I try to make sure my manager knows they have my respect.

However, sometimes there are just so many things going on, I am aware that my manager may not be able to process any more of my questions. So I have to accept that I need to show some initiative and get on with the job, relying on my knowledge of company policies and experience within the workplace. My manager seems happy with that.

Despite that, I like to mention every now and then that I still respect who is boss. I am not trying to go rogue. Last week, I finally found a way to explain my attitude towards initiative. This is what I said…

Children, Interior Design

I think sometimes our work can be like all the tasks that need to be done within a home. Sometimes, parents have to remind or even plead with their children to do household chores. But if parents come home from work and find that without being asked, their children have been busy cleaning, tidying, perhaps even doing other jobs they are able to like laundry, pressing, emptying bins, or even preparing a meal – the parents will be thrilled!

However….imagine the parents came home to find their children had stripped off all the wallpaper, pulled up the carpet, thrown out the furniture and had redecorated. Now the living room is an eclectic mix of bizarre prints on cushions and throws, lime green vertical blinds, orange laminate flooring, purple stars adorn the walls, there are steel chairs and benches which are on wheels allowing them to be moved easily to create an indoor basketball court, and that the ceiling is painted with a special paint that glows in the dark…how would the parents feel? Would it help to know their children had paid for the new decorations they had bought with Dad’s credit card?

Female, College, Student, Office People

I voiced my opinion, that I am happy to keep working and showing initiative within the framework of all I know and understand of the way my manager tries to steer the team. I am willing to keep following company policies and do what I know ought to be done without being asked. Yet I am not trying to usurp anyone. I want to be part of the team, and contribute to a happy team that work together and achieve result. A lot of my motivation at work is contributing to a happy team spirit.

Initiative can be great….except when it goes too far.

Hey Candy Man

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: GREET/HEY/HOWDY

Candies, Jars, Candy Jars

Jack has asked me why I picked this song – “The Candy Man” recorded by Sammy Davis Jr. I don’t know why it popped into my head. Jack thinks it’s a bit of a creepy song. But I don’t think it was originally. I remember watching it at the start of “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” and it all seemed wonderful – I mean as a child – a musical number based in a sweetshop – it was just the stuff of dreams!

But yes…there is a creepiness fifty? years later I give Jack that. It’s not just the collateral dental damage that sweet shops have caused – there is more to this familiar story of baiting people young and old with their desires! Oooh it gives me the creeps now I am thinking about it.

Still, lets put that all aside – and pretend we are eight – and that there is no evil – and we are singing and dancing in the sweetshop of our dreams!

Candy Man, hey Candy Man
Alright everybody, gather around
The Candy Man is here
What kind of candy do you want?
Sweet chocolate? Chocolate walnut candy?
Gum drops? Anything you want
You’ve come to the right man because
I’m the Candy Man

Who can take a sunrise?
(Who can take a sunrise?)
Sprinkle it with dew
(Sprinkle it with dew)
Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two

The Candy Man (the candy man)
The Candy Man can (the candy man can)
The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
(Makes the world taste good)

Who can take the rainbow?
(Who can take the rainbow?)
Wrap it in a sigh
(Wrap it in a sigh)
Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie

The Candy Man (the candy man)
The Candy Man can (the candy man can)
The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
(Makes the world taste good)

The Candy Man makes everything he bakes
Satisfying and delicious
Now, you talk about your childhood wishes
You can even eat the dishes

Oh, who can take tomorrow?
(Who can take tomorrow?)
Dip it in a dream
(Dip it in a dream)
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream

The Candy Man (the candy man)
The Candy Man can (the candy man can)
The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
(Makes the world taste good)

The Candy Man makes everything he bakes
Satisfying and delicious
Talk about your childhood wishes
You can even eat the dishes

Yeah, yeah, yeah, who can take tomorrow?
(Who can take tomorrow?)
Dip it in a dream
(Dip it in a dream)
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream

The Candy Man (the candy man)
The Candy Man can (the candy man can)
The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
(Makes the world taste good)

Yes, the Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
(Makes the world taste good)

A candy man, a candy man, a candy man
Makes the world taste good
A candy man, a candy man, a candy man
Makes the world taste good
A candy man, a candy man

Written By: Leslie Bricusse and Anthony George Newley

Mum And Dad Thought It Was Just A Phase

Vegetables and fruits background.I am a vegetarian. You may have noticed that I have mentioned that occasionally in other posts. I am not a vegan. I do not eat meat or fish, however I do eat animal products such as honey, dairy products and eggs. I have some friends who are vegan and I think some of them disapprove of me eating some animal products. But I have never had strong feelings about being vegetarian, I just lost the desire to eat anything that used to be alive and is now dead.

I stopped eating meat at the age of six. I can’t remember exactly why. I think there were were two major influences. The first was my little best friend at school who became a vegetarian. It was something I had never heard of, she introduced the idea to me. But there was also a school trip to a farm, Tatton Farm in Cheshire. I distinctly remember being horrified when I saw a pig. I had been reading story books with tiny little pink pigs. But seeing a enormous hairy pig was terrifying. I went home and told mum I no longer wanted to eat what had previously been my favourite food, sandwich ham. Not long after that I lost the desire to eat any meat or fish.

Mum and Dad thought it was just a phase. But the phase has lasted a very long time. I remember my parents wondered what I would eat instead of meat and fish. They bought vast quantities of frozen veggie burgers from the supermarket. I couldn’t stand them! Being a vegetarian at school was hard because there was not often a vegetarian choice. I remember dinner ladies being very angry with me that I was eating only boiled rice because I did not want the chicken supreme or the mincemeat chilli. My diet at home for many years growing up was cheese on toast, beans on toast, cheesy pasta, tomato pasta – then I found pesto sauce and was so grateful for the variety.

I was desperate for variety in my diet. When I was a teenager, I asked my parents if I could start doing some of my own shopping and cooking. I started using Quorn mock chicken style pieces and making things like vegetable curries (with a jar of curry sauce from the supermarket), vegetarian lasagnes, and using soya mince to make shepherd’s pie and spaghetti bolognese.

I don’t have a problem with other people eating meat. I just don’t have any desire myself. I cook meat for other people, family, friends and while I was working as a cook I cooked meat for clients of course. I don’t mind cooking pieces of meat that I can’t really identify. But if I have to cook a bird, I find it really hard, because I can see where it’s head and feet where. It makes me feel really sick. When I was six years old I had no idea what gelatin was, or rennet or the ingredients that might be hidden in soups and stocks and gravy. So for years I ate all of those in ignorance. Many years later I learnt about them and realized I had been eating them. It did not really upset me.

I have done pretty well on a vegetarian diet. I remember at school the teachers saying that vegetarians are weaker or they don’t develop properly, or become sick more often. I don’t know if that was the general opinion back then. But I was a competitive swimmer with a lot of strength and stamina. I was on all the school sports teams. I did not seem to be lacking in strength. In more recent years I have been more conscious of making sure I eat more vegetarian sources of protein and a huge variety of vegetables. I love my veggies, I always have.

Dairy, Products, Food, Diet, CheeseThe only difficulty I have had is that I seem to have become sensitive to dairy. For that reason I have been eating a mostly vegan diet for some years. I am not sure, but I wonder if I ate too much dairy for many years. I cut it out completely for around five years, during which time I did not have a single cold. Before then I seemed to be chronically congested and snuffly. Since then I have been able to introduce a little dairy into my diet. I don’t drink milk or eat ice-cream, yoghurt or cream But I will have a little cheese every now and then (I love cheese!) and I seem to get away with it if I have a little. I know if I overdo it because I suffer!

Salad, Fruits, Berries, HealthySo that is me. I am a vegetarian, not for religious reasons, not for ethical reasons, not for health reasons. I know some people do have some very strong feelings about being vegetarian or vegan, and I respect that. But in my case, I just lost the desire to eat meat and fish when I was six years old and thirty years later, I still have no desire.

So when I do mention I am vegetarian, I am not preaching, I am not promoting a vegetarian diet as superior to others, it’s just a small detail in a personal account I might relate.  I don’t mind what you eat.

Summer Holidays

I have a holiday ahead of me. It is a staycation – as in it will be within the UK (why go through the stress of an overseas holiday this year?) I will be visiting my family. I cannot wait!!!

There are some things I want to do…and I have postponed them, feeling I simply did not have the time, at least I did not have the time to enjoy them. Looking at wedding dresses for a start.

I also am itching to write. I have two stories I am desperate to write. One is of a girl who comes to London from a European country – full of dreams. She arrives in London before the Europe referendum back in 2016, before the 2020 Pandemic. So a lot happens. Here story is one of dreams, challenges, hope, disappointment, betrayal, persecution, love, heartbreak, courage, endurance and of course she is going to have a happy ending. Why would I write a book without a happy ending? It is based on the real life experiences of so many of my own dear friends. I have been writing bits and pieces in my spare time, but I need to weave it all together.

I have another story in my mind – a story about forgiveness. It is pure fiction, but it is inspired by the forgiveness that took place between Jack and myself. I don’t feel I can write our own story yet, even though Jack thinks it would be a great idea. But I can use our experience for inspiration, and draw on the memory of the feelings I experienced when we were estranged, and how delicate trust was when we were trying to make peace and restore the damage. It is currently a complex storyline, and I think I needed to peel away some of the detailed layers.

I have a feeling that my summer holiday will be so packed with family members and friends, it is unlikely I will have time to work on my writing. I guess I am longing for lazy hazy days of summer to roll on and on and on, and not to have any scheduled or deadlines to inhibit me!

Sunflower Field, Landscape, Scene

Special Operation Ironside

I watched a report the other day about what seemed a truly impressive coordinated police operation carried out with the help of an FBI informant.

Spying, Eye, Surveillance, Spy, Hacker

It was very interesting. But the news presenters mentioned a few concerning points. That FBI informant is going to be in danger. Unless they find a very good hidey hole for him, he is not going to have much quality of life.

They also mentioned that when an intervention like this by security forces is carried out it leaves some turmoil in the crime world. There may be people seeking revenge, or some competition amongst dealers to take over a turf.

Not that I want to know too many details. Yet, it all seemed so much like a Hollywood movie – the drama, the tension, the intrigue, knowing when to strike. It makes working for the NHS look boring.

Isn’t Summer Wonderful!!

England has had a beautiful lull of weather for the past couple of weeks. It is just glorious. I was laying down staring up at the blue sky at the weekend, enjoying the feel of the sunshine my skin. It is such a joy after the long cold grey winter (when we had to stay at home) and the very wet spring we had.

Girl Lying On The Grass, Girl, Legs

I love Jack. I love him and he has made me so happy. But I miss Goldfinch. It is almost two years since I saw him. I never thought that would be possible. How is it possible to be separated from someone you love to the core for two years?

I would go out of my mind if it was not for being able to email him. Love feels like sunshine. It radiates, it warms, it revives. I love summer so much. I love that all the tension melts away from my body. I love the colours and the scents…I love not having to wear a coat. It is a way of life I adore.

I Am Hooked On Caster And Fleet!

I mentioned just over a week or so ago that I had been reading books co-authored by WordPress blogger Paula Harmon. Well, I am now hooked!

I loved Books One-Three and I could not wait to get stuck into the next three books. I checked on Amazon and there seem to be spin-offs too. I am loving these characters and their stories. I love the Victorian setting, the manners and customs of daily life. Every the two female detectives get themselves into quite a pickle, and I find myself growing anxious and the outcome.

It is so hard to put down my tablet at night, and as soon as I finish one book, I want to start the next to read of their next adventure.

Beware Of Your House-Keeper!

Did you know house-keepers can play tricks on their occupants?  Not all of them.  It all depends on the rapport you have with your client!  We might deliberately turn all of the pictures upside down.  Nothing too valuable mind!  If an occupant has a shopping list or a “to-do” list stuck to their fridge it is very tempting to add comic items to the list.

Thomas And Friends, Toy Train, BoyBut the real fun is with a family who own toys.  We might move toys and unbreakable items and set up a comedy scene – as I am doing at one house I clean in the boy’s bedrooms (I have such fun re-arranging their toys.  Last time I cleaned their room, I had one of the teddies reading an encyclopaedia, and a “my little pony” is chasing “Darth Vader”.) The boys come home from school and they love to see what I have done to their toys.

I was cleaning the children’s rooms today.  Of course, before I can really start cleaning, there is always a lot of tidying to do.  Toys, clothing items, books…they seem to be everywhere except where they ought to be.  I might be imaging it, but it sometimes seems as if the boys go into their room and open up all the cupboards and drawers, and then pull everything out and throw their belongings up into the air to see where they will land.  I was still tidying and had not started cleaning their rooms, when I heard someone was calling my name and asking for my help yet again.

I went down to the first floor master bedroom where the voice was coming from.  I could not believe my eyes! Yesterday, I had done a thorough clean of this room.  An hour earlier I had spent fifteen minutes making the bed and tidying the clothes that were left on the floor.  This time I really was not imagining it.  Somebody, (and it was looking very much like that somebody was the lady of the house) really had opened all of the closet doors and drawers and pulled out all of her clothes and shoes and bags and thrown them on the floor.

Ay ay ay!!! My parents forbade us from using expletives…but the thought that ran through my mind was not a happy one.  She was looking for some shoes.  She has possibly sixty pairs I realized last week when I cleaned the inside of her closet and re-arranged everything at her request.  I put the normal looking sensible shoes in the main shelves and the weird shoes (you know they types someone might want to wear for a fancy-dress party) on the top shelves of the closet.  She described to me the pair of shoes spice girls shoesshe wanted to wear, while I tried to hide the horrified dismay on my face.  I asked her if she meant the spice girls shoes.  She didn’t know what I meant.

Well, tell me, if someone asked you to find shoes that are red, blue and white, with sequins and with a platform wedge…how would you describe them?  When I originally saw these shoes, I thought they were hideous, but I concluded they must be part of a “Ginger Spice” fancy dress costume.  Apparently not, I discovered today that they are the latest creation of some sensational designer – of course she would know about these things since she works in the fashion industry.  After I had found the shoes, I had to put everything back into the drawers and wardrobes.  Then back upstairs to clean the rooms laundryon the third floor.  I still had not cleaned the kitchen after breakfast.  All the washing needed to be sorted out.  I was not sure when, or if, today was ever going to end!

Well….this is life…this is house-keeping!!!!  The brigade of no-nonsense Anti-Dirt, Anti-Mess, Anti-Trash warriors.  I am telling myself to get on with it and deal with things calmly and not get flustered but see the funny side of things.  Can you blame us for occasionally playing tricks on our occupants?

Photo credit: The Haunted Wordsmith

Learner at Love

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