F’light by my Fireside (1) – with the Pie in the Sky

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

(and not to hear their life story as such – I’m not sure I’d like to hear or ask that of anyone).

I know of a lady by the name of Sylvia Frank, only through illustrations and synopsis of her work in a book gifted to me by a friend’s husband, more than twenty years ago. It’s a quality art book, called “Image of the Body”.

I’ve no way of knowing if she’s the same Sylvia Frank for whom my mother was given a “New Poets ’75” book, including some poems by a Sylvia Frank and possibly also Sylvia’s mother. They were related to my maternal grandfather I think, and had emigrated from England. I don’t know when, because historical detail remembered and passed down is sketchy.

I frequently read the New Poets 75 book as a young child and intermittently while growing up, and would revisit my favourite poems, which of course were, amongst others, moreso those special poems of relations, I’m not sure how distant.

Whether one and the same, or entirely different, I would have to place their name(s) at the top of my list, for sure. Although I know the lady(s) only through print (and more recent internet resource) I was inspired by encountering their work in my childhood  and as a young adult (art studies, incomplete).

I’d be stuck for limiting myself to one choice invitation, for I also regret the geographical distances between myself and my mother and not spending more time with her and also my uncles and aunts, cousins, brothers, nieces, nephew and so on. Although we all knew each other well, of course, over distance of land and time our life stories change as we grow and we often know less of each other’s lives along life’s paths. Can you choose over family unless it’s for  necessity, or impossibilities such as love…

As thechallenge brief is for lesser known company … if the not the first lady(s) above, then, any of the following… and all those not mentioned:-

I’d like to meet my art tutor again, or not, maybe another, but over an ale with some or all of the other students from that first class group would be a great reunion to attend.

Although I wouldn’t say I know any of them at all, having experienced pleasure and privelege of wider shared company on rare occasion, I’d probably wish for a fantastic regional poet or writer I’ve made vague acquaintance with, such as Wayne Burrows or Emma Cocker.

Or a regional artist I respect such as Simon Withers, Nadim Chaudry. Or so many others from any one of a number of co-participants from some of the workshops and short courses I attended at a Midlands gallery on and off for a couple of years a way back.

Any of the students I was blessed to encounter and share collaborative art time with before dropping out during my first year at uni would always be welcome.

All or any of the lads from Gaffa (or Wholesome Fish) would be most welcome too, as I missed much of the original music scene happening but was fortunate enough to catch a reunion gig or hear word of mouth happenings or still have an old flier or two here and there…

Anyone willing to spare and share time for conversation with another is a special person indeed, but I don’t do long chats well, myself. Hence many a good friend or close acquaintance might feel left out and lacking specific mention is not to exclude them.

However, last, but not at all least, and probably over all – a wonderful lady called Miffy, who took me and my baby son in for a week or more whilst at risk and in fear. She’d never met us, but on the word of our close mutual friend (whom I’ve not seen for so long I could not exclude her) on arrival in my desperate circumstance, she didn’t hesitate to provide shelter and support. I still have a book on my shelf originally belonging to each of these special people.

I’d probably feel more comfortable being the tea-laddy (for polite company) as I need to keep on my feet and keep moving and don’t enjoy being seated much at all. I’ve still a stack of dishes to wash, would need a run to the store for refreshments (and would probably do just that for anyone dropping by, if I could at such time).

You might have forewarned me to be better prepared for such pipe-dreams. I’ve to change out of grubby stuff quick sharp from a leisurely gardening break, most days of most weeks. So, it’s all out the window, with the pie in the sky, for a rain check… and I’m off to the kitchen to meet with the sink and the suds, and some Foo Fighters to wash up with, most likely. Happy days : )


sold as seen, 22/01/2243

Entirely grateful for the sale, but not for needing the credits, I wiped the dust from my hands on the trailings of my shawl, entirely grateful to still have such a garment, impacts of climate change and absence of human skill for resourcing and production as they were.

From my client’s gloved and out-stretched hand I accepted his receipt verification unit and declined his offer to help place my token to the beast’s fangs with my gnarling left hand, shaking not with age but the chill. As per procedure I gripped the sensor firmly between right thumb and fore-finger, took a slow breath, emptied my mind and closed my eyes. It only took a moment that way and was both least draining and most efficient.

“Times have changed” I said, passing back the unit to slip of a young man before me.

“I have no way of knowing”, he replied, “which was why I’ve risked travelling so far to buy this”, coughing as his delighted vigorous wave sent thick dust into the air just in time to breathe it. Again I was glad of my shawl, and still with some sprite in my limbs I covered my mouth and nose.

Of all the things I’d saved in my long years, I wished I’d save more pens or pencils, and paper and could have taken the two minutes to issue a traditional receipt having placed the customer’s item into a bag of one kind or another, wiping it dust-free first as a matter of courtesy – but traditions prohibited and resources scarce and the Law being an ass in as many ways as ever and some things never change I thought. At least this way made for a quick transaction with no losses, no obligation to accept a return, no buyer compromising the facts of the deal with mistruth and no potential for misunderstanding.

I didn’t expect a thank you as he left the antique store, even though I’d had to walk for three weeks to arrive here to authorise the verify the sale. “Some things are never what you might expect of the future, nor of the past”, I said just as the door closed behind him.

I was surprised he turned to face me and tippe his hat – taking such a risk in the outside presence was a rarity this day and age. But he grinned, and strode out into the evening, to reach home safely I hoped.

Now I could plan my long journey home a lot easier than arranging my arrival and reaching my destination.

Taking my token from my left hand with my right, I placed it into the store’s communicator. The automated voice took me by surprise, our settlement no longer had a workable version and had to rely on a screen display and good memory – human that is. Our people had reverted to scoring into stone or solid object to generate a record for their personal use. It had been a longwinded battle but as it had no longer been a tradition or considered valid skill to hand carve, our defense was undeniable.

“Your token is credited with fifty thousand values” said the voice. “Accepted authenticated receipt states Buyer Beware, dust outside and in. Clogged. Installed operating system refuses to defragment the disk-drive. The words “four” “mat” and “see” must never be stated while the unit is activated, nor any such word of similarity or significant loss of data will occur and the unit will be inoperable. This hard-drive has a will (and it seemed, also, a life) of it’s own. Human interaction time to access and analyse the archived files process the data will exceed three lifetime’s at forecast solar energy potentials. A wind-up device is an unlikely find. No liability accepted. Your transport arrives in forty minutes, a cup of tea and a sandwich have been provided by your satisfied customer to compensate for your arduous journey here. You will be home within the hour. Your token retains the esential information and discards your perks. Thank you for verifying your sale with Co-Curios, trading since 1709, you may depend on our service.

I sat back with my sandwich and the luxury of tea in a rather large mug in the safety of swift travel in good time for suppering, now financially secure for the rest of my life. Whatever that might mean.

Note to self: proving I can’t write a story and should go back to school and get more practice!  Written in personalised response to random-generated Daily Prompt:Buyer, Beware.  The year is 2243, and your computer’s dusty hard drive has just resurfaced at an antique the store. Write a note to the curious buyer explaining what he or she will find there. (Alternate version stuck in the mud!)

sold as seen, 22/01/2243


“He hadn’t played with the blocks for years, it was very irritating.” (p82, sentence 3 from Robert Westall’s “The Machine Gunners”)

I’m tempted to attempt a softies revenge for this one, casting my ex-best friend as the big boy with toys and write as if his poor wife…. not going into personal detail, hopefully… calling it some kind of therapy (forgive and forget or something – tying prompts in or together for a twist… target date…tbc