Nourish

While living away from my home country, besides family and friends, there isn’t anything that I really miss. But one day totally unexpectedly a wayward thought came into my head, I suddenly thought of my sitting in my Granny’s kitchen on a Friday night sharing a pot of tea. This was a lovely old habit that came about while my brother and sister were watching something in the sitting room. This was our time together.

On this peculiar morning, I kept thinking back to these conversations, surprisingly bread possessed my senses. My tongue tried to chew around the soggy sandwiches of school lunches, car warm baguettes for beach picnics, seasoned by salted sand. My nose was tickled by melted butter on golden morning toast. And late night conversations had over crispy garlic bread. All brought their own memories and reminders, mostly bringing a smile.

Bread is a staple in many countries but each seem to have their own version. The Italians for focaccia, the French for baguette and brioche. Germany has sourdough, the UK is famous for white bloomers and scones. Ireland my home country owns the domain of soda bread and brown bread. While I adore proper brown bread I find it very difficult to find in some countries, even flour can prove elusive sometimes. Rye bread, yeast breads, pizza, whatever you choose to call it can usually be found, somewhere with a bit of searching. Occasionally sometimes it is more satisfying to make your own, to your own tastes, your own reminisces.

The opening line for Nourish from The Scottish Book Trust was:

If stories be the food of life, write on!

A call for short stories revolving around the theme of food, as long as it was true, was all they requested. Trying to be clever I instantly disregarded my first thought for what this story should be about. I tried a few stories about how the plight of the world leads to hunger, how the earth grows and blooms when we, the human race, leave it in peace and so on. As you may imagine from the above descriptions they were stilted, preachy or plain rubbish. I eventually had to admit my first instinct was worth a try. Homesick was the result. It isn’t perfect and I feel it still needs work but I think the bones are there. Of course, once it was submitted I noted a couple of mistakes that I had missed. The one thing that really didn’t come across in this version, due to formatting and time restrictions, was the recipe lay out that I experimented with – maybe you could use your imagination to see how I may have achieved that particular feat.

The link below will connect you to the Scottish Book Trust site (scottishbooktrust.com). Here you will find my story and many more there are also poems and many more creative offerings.

http://scottishbooktrust.com/writing/nourish/story/homesick

I hope you enjoy it and maybe if you have some more free time you will take a look at some more. One thousand words is the perfect bite size story for busy lives.

In another 100 Years

Another Terror Attack;
Brussels on the 22nd March,
Two bombs at Zaventem Airport
And another at Maelbeek Metro.
Istanbul was bombed two days ago,
Turkey’s second in a week.

Shabqadar, Grand-Bassam, Ankara,
Peshawar, Maiduguri, Istanbul

And Bamako on the 21st.

141 innocent souls, this is March, so far.
All this loss for a skewed reading.
History is full of these shows of inhumanity.

In another 100 years
We will be recording similar footage,
Smoke-filled rooms, streets
And glass blown-out buildings.
Ruined airports, metros and markets
But in 100 years it will be for some other excuse
– Like the price of chocolate.

Brussels, 22nd March; Bamako, 21st March; Istanbul, 20th March; Maiduguri, 16th March; Peshawar, 16th March; Ankara, 13th March; Grand-Bassam, 13th March; Shabqadar, 7th March.

Photo: by Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

The Promise of Bellini’s

Frost grips the edge of Conor’s window, outside glistens white and the garden spikes with overnight snow. Waking, he recoils from the crisp light bouncing off the white topped hills. Everything looks clean. With stinging eyes, he buries his head under the rumpled pillow and dreams of waking to a brand new life, the slate wiped clean; everything clean. Instead he forces himself from his bed, crawls under the hot water and down to the kitchen.

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Temporarily Out of Stock

On the table sits an immaculate white page, no words, no marks not even a scribble to test the black pen. The house is silent, the telly on mute, silently shows a beautiful chef happily demonstrating how to prepare a traditional Italian Christmas dinner.

There is no point in being terrified by it. It had to be done. Pick up the pen and make a list. With a sigh her hands form the words; brown bread, milk, crackers, clementine’s. The next hour is spent envisioning the perfect dinner. Sixty-four black words, with spidery legs and giraffe-necked upsweeps, fill the perfect white page.

Jayne Waters had dreamed of hosting Christmas dinner since she was too little to see over the work-top. She had trailed around after her mother as she busied herself with slicing onions, laying rashers over the plucked flesh of a massive bird and peeked through the oven window, watching the tanning of that prized meat.

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The Simple Things In Life

I was recently given this back, a poem I wrote in memory of my Grandad. When I read it back last week, I saw all the things I would change, but when I thought about it I decided that I wouldn’t change anything. This poem was written when I was seventeen and these things were acceptable to me then, so I have left it as I wrote it in 1997. Today in 2015 I still think of my Grandad and all the other people in my life who have left this mad planet of ours, I still smile that I knew them, even if only for a short time.

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The Picnic and Baby Bear

I was recently asked by a friend who teaches primary school for a little story to be told alongside a picture of a Teddy Bear’s Picnic. The story below is what I offered to them. The little ones are between five and six so the challenge for me was to keep my sentences simple yet interesting enough to keep a story moving along. There also had to be simple words that they would understand while also exposing the class to slighter more challenging words. I hope you like my little ones’ story and you like an old favourite that has been updated a little bit.

The Picnic and Baby Bear

Last Saturday Mammy and Daddy decided to bring us on a surprise day trip. Mammy asked everybody to help gather want we would need for the day. Séan got the plastic beach glasses from under his bed, he had hidden them the week before – just so I couldn’t play with them. Mammy said I could help her make ham and cheese sandwiches, I am very good at making sandwiches. Oísín went out to the orchard and collected a bucket of apples. I found some small plates and added them to the growing pile on the table top.

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An August Afternoon

Sunglasses and sun cream,
Cork is basking in a couple of days
Of unexpected heat. I walk our
“borrowed” dog, soaking up the sun.

A tug on the lead. My block of rich chocolate brown has
Spied some milk chocolate and drops his nose to scent.
Far at the end of the bushes sit and sunbathe three
chocolate truffles tipped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Such unruffled leporine, they sit and macerate a buttercup,
observing the quivering slab of muscle, only feet away. No alarm, why hurry
dinner? They nick the cups of yellow, flick a look at us and
then, leisurely bound off. One final leap, gone under a fragrant rosehip bush.

– It rains.

In remembrance of Yeats in Italy

I woke this morning to a grey murky sky, one with the possibly of becoming what my Dad would call a soft day. The neighbours were unusually noisy playing a game of musical cars. Revving engines are not the most cheerful way to be woken. Bleary eyed, I head into the kitchen and, in automatic mode, I open my laptop to check emails and updates etc. the usual weekly routine, but today is Saturday. This glorious fact was emphasised when I saw an old friend had posted Sailing to Byzantium, by W.B. Yeats. Today is the 13th of June; Yeats’ birthday. An unusual but wonderful way to start the weekend, reading the writings of Yeats.

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Gentle Goodbyes

The wheels of your chair are clogged, immoveable in the dry sand. Pushing harder, we bump our way down to the water’s edge, to where the sand is wet and firm. Taking the small brush from your bag of accoutrements, I brush off your wheels and let you be. I lie back and watch as the clouds play chase.

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The Unnamed

Grumbling, a man rolls onto his back and flings outs his arm. A few seconds later, he throws his body back onto his front. The bedclothes are kicked onto the floor. Thumping the pillows into submission, he tries to get comfortable. A growl from the other side of the bed reminds him another person trying to sleep. Climbing out, he stands and looks around the room.

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