Written in a flash …
or maybe not.

Some short fictions trip from the mind straight into their scenarios, but most take a little teasing to produce their full worth.

The shortest often need the most weeding out of unnecessary verbiage. And a longer time to finalise. While the longer ones, might need a subtler approach to how the words are interlaced.

the short stories expand thought and experience to ore adventurous levels and the odd poem or rhyme add another dimension to creative concepts.

Here, you will find a mixture of old and new. Some works have been published on websites elsewhere or in one of my books. Others will appear here first and so be exclusive to this website's visitors, for a while.

A look back to the 70s.

Bacon and egg meal with chips
Lunch with Annie

It was as near a real pub as you’d find on a fifties built, city estate. Square block in brick, with pyramid roof, now with twenty years of tacky floor, grease and grime, hunkered down below the soon to be crumbling concrete tower blocks, and just a shallow wedge of low-rise maisonettes, alongside a line of four local shops, to keep it away from all-day shadow. Five paved steps up from the road, no ramps in those days, but level entry from the houses behind: if you knew your way around. The lunchtime watering hole of local workers and the office fraternity.

Step inside and you immediately appreciated the gloom, the drifting smoke from half or more of the tables; just five of them barriered by two, ineffectual, ceiling hung “No Smoking” signs and a thin waist high partition; a sop for those who refrained from the habit. That spot was my choice, but the nicotine wafts still stirred the cravings of youth, abandoned ten years before.

This was a beer drinkers’ pub. Bitter, stout, lager. And ten Woodbine from the machine by the loos; perhaps, Gold Leaf for the white collars. Only a few punters supped the inverted spirit bottles, behind the long bar, or the half-drawn wine bottles; except for the occasional chaser. Well not at lunch. Evenings were different, when more females arrived on the arms of men friends: or looking for one. It wasn’t my scene, the late hours, but come one o’clock in the day, I’d be over for a curly sandwich or one of the few hot and greasy offerings from the kitchen. That’s when three or four of us would grab a table, talk soccer and cars, mostly, and order something with chips. Didn’t matter much what. Everything had a fried egg and tasted pretty well the same. But we did get the delights of Annie.

Annie was a gem. Though advanced in her years, she sparkled in the cream and brown, smoke tarnished interior, as we hailed her from the thread worn seats of our blonde wood chairs, feet settled on the cream curly cues of an ale sticky, maroon carpet. Perhaps, sparkled is a bit much. Her greatest glow was from an ever present ciggie, when she hadn’t got food in both hands.

As regulars, she knew we liked to get in and out sharpish. So, when things were extra busy, she’d hustle our order through, out of order. Then, in her navy, below the knee dress, frayed at the hem, and her gravy stained white apron, she’d waltz through the blue haze, between tables, early comers yelling for their meals, too, please, and chassé around into the no smoking zone. With a hefty plonk of plates, she’d dump a dinner (always dinner to her) in front of each of us, winking her one good eye at us (the other looked at the next table), her smoke gravelled voice asking, ‘Who’s the pie?’ And then, with a yellow stained half smile, it was a ‘That’s yours, luv. Get it down yer neck!’ Staring at grease laden plates and often slimy egg, we hadn’t the heart to query how long the pale pink bacon rashers had been cooked, so just mumbled our thanks. At least, the chips were good; long strips of golden-brown crispy potato, which we smothered in salt.

Done with us, to a general chorus, from those who’d ordered food, of ‘Where’s ours Annie?’, she would amble back, stopping at the bar to have a drag or two of her smouldering fag, perched on the side of the black glass, Guinness ashtray, before disappearing back into the kitchen. Back out with another couple of plates, those who found grey grains on the side of them could be certain it wasn’t salt or pepper.

Long gone now, poor old soul. Well-loved and long remembered. Must be forty years since my last visit. Pub’s gone, too. Tower blocks gone. Now all modern residential; and my old office a fitness gym. We could have done with that, after lunch with Annie. But whenever I stop in in a gastro pub, now, and see a plate of gammon and egg being served at the table next to mine, happy memories return. A remembered haze and scent of smoke. As I dig into my herby halloumi and skinny chips.

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