Friday Fictioneers – The Wall

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!


The Wall

Ralph coughed and spat brown phlegm. How the hell was he supposed to climb a brick wall? His vision swam as he looked around. What the hell was a bucket doing here anyway?

One foot in the bucket and…

It swivelled from under his feet.

He fell, awkwardly. Hell, that hurt.

Something to take away the pain. Quickly. He swigged. Belched. Acid reflux filled his mouth.

Safe behind the armoured glass of an adjacent window, bargain-hunting shoppers barged through tinselled aisles.

Ralph beat on the glass, then slid to the ground.

The shoppers neither saw him nor heard him.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

What Pegman Saw – Homeless

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

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Photo courtesy Mark Knight by Pixabay

Homeless in Shepherd’s Bush, 1972

Damn, it’s cold tonight! My bloodless fingers fumble the string as I tie my dog to the railing. “Stay, Sam!” I say.

Traffic’s heavy, but the bright shop window lures me across the road. Get a few minutes in the warm, and a bottle of something to stop me feeling the chill. The traffic lights glare frosty green; a car horn blares as I stumble.

The shopkeeper looks about seventeen, with pimples and sparse curly hair. He keeps watching me.

It takes me a few minutes to find the cheapest vodka, a few more to count out coins from my battered purse and then I’m out of excuses to stay in the precious warmth.

Vehicle headlights swerve past me, too bright, too fast. I trip as I mount the kerb, skinning both knees. Sam barks. I shuffle cardboard sheets into a crude shelter, cuddle Sam, and open the bottle.


Friday Fictioneers – Broken Threads

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

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PHOTO PROMPT© Sandra Crook

Broken Threads

Martha squatted in the only room that was still intact in the derelict house. Even the druggies had gone, leaving behind their mess and their stink. Martha moaned as the muscles of her abdomen tightened.

The Loom of Creation faltered. The Creator fused broken threads together, working frantically to keep the weave continuous. A spindle of charcoal thread was empty. Consternation! He had no more of that colour! He seized the nearest spool and spliced in a gold thread.

Martha, exultant, hugged her flawless new-born to her breast. She rose up and walked to the hospital. Her child would live!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Act of Faith

This is a story for the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. We are given a photo prompt that is kindly photographed by our participants and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. It’s fun and everyone is invited to participate. For more information, click HERE.

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by Jade M. Wong. Thank you Jade!

Act of Faith

“Oh. It’s you. I might have guessed. Come in, Dave, come in.”

Dave shuffled past Father Joe into the presbytery. Joe wrinkled his nose.

“Would you like food first, or a bath?”

Dave blinked as his eyes adapted from the pitch-black night, but he said nothing. Father Joe sighed.

“Come into the kitchen, then. Bacon sandwich suit you?”

Dave grunted. Joe sighed, inaudibly. Dave had always been taciturn.

A tantalising aroma of frying bacon filled the kitchen.

“I expect you need a bed for the night?”

Dave nodded.

“Then you have a bath first.”

Dave scowled, but nodded again.

It was eleven o’clock before Dave was fed, bathed and arrayed in an old pair of Joe’s pyjamas.

“Will you say your rosary before you sleep? Would you like me to say it with you?”

Dave nodded. Father Joe recited the prayers in firm, compassionate tones. Dave mumbled. They prayed together, the father and his illegitimate son.

Word count 156


From a liberal point of view – April 2017

Six weeks today, we in the UK vote in a General Election.

Let us leave aside the reasons why it was called (which are incoherent), and the reasons why the opposition MPs voted in favour of it (which are incomprehensible). Let us consider instead some information that may influence how we vote.

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What are our liberal values in the context of this election? The hallmark of a liberal society is that it accords equal respect to every member. An absolute pre-requisite is that the society looks after its weak members. People should not go hungry. They should have good accommodation. They should receive good healthcare promptly.

One measure of whether people are going hungry is the number of people requiring help from a food bank. A major provider of such help is the Trussel Trust Foundation. They provide 3-day emergency packs for people who cannot afford to buy food. They report figures showing a dramatic and continuing rise in the need for these packs.

Period 3-day emergency packs provided during the year
2008 – 9 25,899
2009 – 10 40,898
2010 – 11 61,468
2011 – 12 128,697
2012 – 13 346,992
2013 – 14 913,138
2014 – 15 1,084,604
2015 – 16 1,109,309

You can find the data here.

How about adequate accommodation? Homeless Link is an agency that works with government and other providers to help reduce homelessness. They have reported the following statistics.

Calendar year People sleeping rough Households in temporary accommodation
2010 1,768 48,000
2011 2,181 49,000
2012 2,309 53,000
2013 2,414 56,000
2014 2,744 63,000
2015 3,569 69,000
2016 n/a 76,000

The data for temporary accommodation was taken from a graph, and has been rounded to the nearest thousand. You can find the data here.

The King’s Fund reports quarterly on the performance of the NHS. This data is from their latest report:

  • The target time for Ambulance Trusts to respond to Red 1 emergency calls is 8 minutes. When this was introduced in June 2012, it was missed 24% of the time. This has now risen to 33% of the time.
  • A&E Departments have a target that no-one should wait more than 4 hours from arrival to admission, or transfer, or discharge (as appropriate). During 2009 – 10 this was missed less than 2% of the time. It’s now being missed 10% of the time.
  • The target for waiting time after diagnosis is that fewer than 8% of patients should wait longer than 18 weeks before the start of treatment. In 2012, this target was being met comfortably; fewer than 6% of patients waited longer than the target time. The latest report notes that the target has now been missed for ten consecutive months, and exceeds 10%.

You can find the data here.

I haven’t ‘cherry-picked’ these numbers. The data are largely from government bodies. There are many more statistics saying the same thing.

They’re saying this.

Over the period during which we have had a Conservative government, more people have gone hungry; more people have gone homeless; and people have found it harder to obtain care from the NHS.

We are one of the richest nations in the world; our government has been steadily and knowingly providing less help for those who need it most; and this is having an impact on the lives of millions of people.

Today, now, we have people who don’t have enough to eat, don’t have anywhere to sleep, who are dying because they’re not receiving medical help in time.

So, back to this election.

I would normally vote Green. I’m a Green party member. However, if this Conservative government remains in power, the data above suggest that life for the poorest will become even worse.

Consequently, if it starts to look as though a particular candidate can challenge the current Conservative MP in my constituency, then I shall vote for that candidate. It goes against the grain for me; I would far rather vote Green; but the stakes are just too high.