Category Archives: Prose.

Flying

I didn’t understand flying and to be fair, flying probably didn’t understand me.

 

I was sitting in the departure lounge, looking out of the windows at the plane I would shortly by boarding.

It was huge!

And made of metal!

It must have weighed as much as a big house!

I’ve never seen a house fly, how on earth could this monstrosity take to the skies?

I mean, sparrows, ok, they flap their wings like crazy and somehow take off, but this metal monster, didn’t even flap it’s wings!

All beyond me!

Then the thought got worse!

Soon there would be three hundred people inside this aluminium tube, not only three hundred people, but three hundred people carrying every scrap of their belongings that they could squeeze inside a suitcase.

Suitcases!

How much do three hundred suitcases weigh?

And clothes!

All these inconsiderate people have decided to wear clothes!

I looked around in panic, hoping that at least some people would be in their underwear to give us the tiniest chance of getting this thing into the air.

I shouldn’t have looked around, if I hadn’t I may not have noticed the mobile phones, or the head phones, iPads, laptops, game consoles, hand luggage, foodie drinks!

We were doomed, have these people got a death wish?

I turned my attention back to the plane, just in time to see a huge petrol tanker begin to shift the equivalent of sixteen oil wells into the planes wing. I say, barely breathing, waiting for the wing to snap off under the burden.

The catering truck came to a halt and enough food to feed Somalia for a year was squeezed on board.

Not content with the fuel and food, a thirty six coach luggage train arrived and began disgorging mountains of suitcases into the underbelly of the plane.

Things were looking really bad, why did no-one else look worried?

I looked around the lounge again and saw an old couple sitting a little ways away from me. The lady was trying to get out of her chair and the man she was with, hurried round to help.

He, very gently, put his arms around her and eased her out of the chair. Still holding her, he picked up two sticks, one at a time and placed them into her quivering hands. She was stooped and bent even supported by her sticks. The man took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped some spittle from her mouth. He leaned close, whispered something to her, stroked her thinning hair and then kissed her.

The poor lady, was at best plain, her body bent and broken, her hair thin and straggly, the jumper she was wearing was buttoned up wrong and yet she had a presence, a quiet grace. When the man kissed her, she had the smile of an angel.

I watched them move away. She lurched and staggered, but his arms were there, holding, guiding and supporting her.

I felt a year form in my eye as I watched true, real love stumbling across the room, lurching, almost falling, the arms always there, the whispered words if encouragement.

How I envied them.

I learned a lot that day. None of it about flying. I saw myself in a different light and not all of it was good, in fact not much of it was good.

I wish the old couple a safe journey and may God bless and keep them safe.

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A day in the life . . . . . !

I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep, or so I am always being told when I complain about lack of sleep. Well, I may not NEED it but I would certainly like to have, what I consider my fair share. Yes, I know, a Victor Meldrew moment. Yawn. (See that proves it, I’m STILL tired!!!)

BUT, accepting the fact that six hours is all I am getting I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself and make a ‘nice’ cup of tea. I wonder why we say that? ‘I’m just going to make a nice cup of tea!’ as if we would deliberately make a bad one.
I had started a new painting a few days previously and it was still on the dining room table (My studio) ready to be worked on again. I had been to Madrid and had loved the city as a whole and in particular the galleries and the museums. As you would expect there was a great deal of religious art around and at first I must admit I walked past most of it looking for something more to my taste, but as time went by I became more interested and lingered longer at some of the better ones, admiring what they had been able to achieve all those hundreds of years ago.
At sometime during the holiday the seed was sown to paint Mary Magdalene once I returned home and indeed, a recently started Magdalene was what was laid upon the dining room table when I sauntered in to look at it.
I stood sipping tea and looking down at the painting there was something wrong with the right side of the hood she was wearing. I had been aware of this for a couple of days but couldn’t work out what it was. Perhaps it’s just a bad painting I thought, looking out of the window to see what the weather was doing. Raining. Summer, in England. According to the radio it was ‘baking hot’ in the south, but Billingham was lost under a sky the colour of ink. I sat down, picked up a paintbrush and stuck it between my teeth, the action of doing so reminded me that I had an appointment with the hygienist the next day. More pain, I thought to myself. (Which was totally unfair because she was very good and I don’t think I ever even felt a twinge of anything remotely close to pain. But I had a manly image to keep up so I was determined to make a fuss and had even considered crying to demonstrate how much pain I was suffering but was bravely soldiering on.)
I started dabbing away at Magdalene, altering some colour here and an outline there. Hmmm, I thought I could see some improvement, so I continued, dab, dab, alter, dab.
After a while I heard the post box rattle and looked up at the clock on the wall. 12-45!!!!!!! The morning had gone and much worse, my ‘nice’ cup of tea had gone cold. I stood up, stretched and wandered out to see what the postman had brought. It seems, I can get a huge discount on a new roof, just because ‘someone’ is working in my area. I put it in the bin for consideration later. I could also receive a huge payout for a car accident even if I wasn’t injured. It joined the new roof in the bin. My local supermarket had so many special offers on, they were almost giving things away. This was obviously going to be my lucky day, so I filed that in the bin too and decided it was time to shower and begin the day properly. Before I went to shower I decided to have another look to see how the painting had progressed. Strange the head now looked lopsided. I sat down, picked up a paint brush and stuck it between my teeth. Dab, dab, alter, alter. The phone rang, I glanced at the clock. 5 o’clock!!!!! The day had gone. I looked out of the window at a sky filled with rain, I walked out of the room and headed for my shower determined not to look back at the wobbly headed Magdalene.
A little while later, clean and ready to begin my day albeit in the early evening, sandwich in hand I stood looking at this weird apparition on my canvas. I’m sure it wasn’t this bad when I began my alterations this morning. I thought I could see what it was, so I stuck a paint brush between my teeth and sat down, dab, dab, alter, move, shift, shuffle, dab, stroke, alter, dab. Hmmm, I thought, it’s looking more like a woman and less like a gargoyle with a tea towel on it’s head. I began to feel thirsty and thought it was cup of tea time, so I stood up and stretched. Midnight?!?! Couldn’t possibly be!!! But it was. So flushed with success, ignoring the half sandwich with the curled up edges and denying myself a cup of tea I took myself off to bed.
I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep any more last night than you did the previous night.
So accepting the fact that five and a quarter hours was all the sleep I was entitled to because I was old, I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself. Five minutes later I was stood sipping tea and gazing down upon Mary Magdalene, who seemed to have rediscovered a lopsided, demonic grimace and had taken to wearing, what looked like a soggy dishcloth, while I slept. I thought I could see what was wrong so I stuck a paint brush in between my teeth and . . . . . . . . . . !
Anyone interested in seeing Magdalene can find it in my dustbin under an offer for half price roofing, a promise to win me thousands of pounds in a settlement for an accident I never had and food that can be purchased for less money than it takes to grow from my local supermarket.