Souvenir from the Old Town

This is my second entry for Friday Fictioneers. As my wonderful son is visiting us this week I decided to write my entry as quickly as possible as I feared I wouldn’t find the time later.

dijonThis weeks photo is (c) Sandra Crook.


Souvenir from the Old Town

The Old Town was a welcome, relaxing change from the bustling town centre, but Valérie remained jittery.

Every time they came to an opening, her Mother stopped, looked into the shadows and appeared to be searching for something.

Valérie spun around enthusiastically, injecting life into a street that was otherwise still and virtually lifeless.

Coming round fast, her foot made contact with a bright yellow glass jar, obscured behind a pillar and it smashed into thousands of brownish shards creating a messy splatter.

Oh Valérie! I don’t think we’ll be able to take that mustard home for supper now! (99 words)



Friday Fictioneers – Through the Shadows

This is my first story for the Friday Fictionneers. I love a challenge.

Based on an image (This one is @Stephen Baum) the challenge is to write a 100 word story.

Here it is :

Through the Shadows (100 words)

He slowed his pace and although he was almost ready to enter the tunnel his body seemed to stall somehow.

“Come on John, we’ll be late!” Susan was impatient and pulled insensitively on his hand.

It wasn’t as he remembered at all. The graffiti was gone, the floor was no longer littered and seemed safer somehow.

He caught his breath, alone with his unease, as memories emerged and shimmered in the converging shadows.

Susan tugged again. “John” she reproved.

He moved through the memories and less than minute later they were out of the shadows and under the warm sun.

Sunday Snap

Here is this weeks Sunday Snap.

This was taken on a late autumn morning in the Lac de Joux region of French speaking Switzerland.

It was taken with a Canon 600D 18-200mm at f11 1/200sec

The image was treated in Adobe Lightroom and Nik Color Efex Pro 4

Friday Photographs

I went on a visit to Lincoln today and revisited the Cathedral. Last time I only had my iPhone so today I took my Sony A7r.

Whilst I was there I chanced upon a couple who asked my if they could use a rather secluded staircase that probably was out of bounds. I said I didn’t see why not so they rushed up to see the view. While they were up there I called out to the guy and took a pic.

I’m rather pleased with it.

Here is another one with reflections on the stone floor of the light coming through the stain glass windows.


Lastly a classic Cathedral shot!


Book Review : The Cement Garden

The Cement Garden (Kindle Edition)
Author Ian McEwan
Publisher : Vintage
144 pages

In the Cement Garden we discover Jack who declares in the opening sentence “I did not kill my father, but I sometimes think I helped him on his way”.

Jack and his sister Julie are the eldest of four children and they have a younger sister Sue and a brother Tom who is the the youngest.

We learn of their father’s death some time after having ordered a fair number of sacks of cement. Their mother becomes bedridden and we discover how the children cope by themselves with a difficult situation that deteriorates considerably.

Jack narrates the story and is the most clearly delineated of the children and whereas he defies social norms of cleanliness, each of his siblings has his or her own bizarre and dysfunctional way of dealing with a family situation that is coming apart.

The Cement Garden has justly been described as a tour de force of psychological unease and although it’s a short book, that doesn’t mean that it’s either shallow or uninteresting. The author conjures up uncomfortably plausible outcomes that make the Cement Garden rich, disturbing and sometimes difficult to read.

I found it to be an interesting, well written but dark read.

Book Review – The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts (Kindle edition)
M. R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit (14 Jan. 2014)
417 pages

Melanie is a little girl who goes to school, has friends and loves books. She is inquisitive, intelligent and has a great memory. As the story unfolds we discover that she is underground in an army base with other children of her age. She is muzzled occasionally, and chained to her desk; and we discover she is part of an experiment. She seems to be a normal if gifted child until we discover what happens when she smells human flesh too closely.

We see the world through Melanie’s eyes but also those of Miss Justineau, her favourite teacher, who introduces her to Greek myths (including the story of the original girl with all the gifts, Pandora, and the box she opens). Then there’s Sergeant Parks, the man in charge of the base, and the scientist Caroline Caldwell, who would dearly like to open Melanie’s skull in order to find out why she’s so intelligent and why she represents such a menace to everybody.

Although the plot is fairly straight forward and linear it becomes evident that it could be made into a film and that is exactly what is happenening as M. C.Carey has equally written the screenplay.

The ending almost rushes out of nowhere but the strong characters – especially Melanie and Miss Justineau – are well drawn and it’s very difficult not to feel for them.

I don’t wish to to give away too much of the plot and take away the pleasure of discovery but it is a clever and often surprising ride and once Melanie finally visits the outside world, we discover a recognizeable but transformed version of Britain where Carey succeeds in creating a sense of constant menace.

The pace of the last 200 or so pages of this book increases a sense of tension and some scary situations are very well imagined.

Although it is not the sort of fiction I normally read, I enjoyed it cover to cover and would recommend it as a book club read as it would nourish some very interesting discussions.

In the darkest hour

My thoughts are as grey as seven day snow,

Entangled in shapeless heaps

that seem to fill my head, which risks to overflow.

I’m sure that I won’t find sleep

In this anguished and anxious state.
Even though my head is full to overflowing

I urge my heart take control,

as it has it’s own way of knowing,

how to escape this murky hole

and put an end to my minds dark debate.
Free falling and spiraling I continue my descent

While pleading desperately with my aching heart,

to regain the ascendance of this melancholic event.

And then, just before that fatal moment, when all comes apart,

I glance towards you and catch your smile.
I feel your warm touch on my troubled temperament

and the dissipation of my unwelcome anguish.

An instantaneous and welcoming betterment,

that causes my gloom to vanish,

then restores me softly and gently, for a precious while.

Graham Lawrence. 6th of July 2015

Dedicated, with eternal gratitude, to my wonderful wife Anne-Claude