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Friday 21 October 2011

Run of the Mill

A mill race is an awful thing
especially for a leaf
spun around from stem to tip
scarcely knowing what is which
apart from that it’s a lovely day
the water’s clear as gin
But there’s something happening
to my branch
Oh bugger I’ve fallen in!

© William Botley                  
All rights reserved

Thursday 20 October 2011

Run of the Mill


The EMPIRE Challenge Cup & THREE Guineas

Registration and Entrance Payment of Half Crown
To Mr G F Rowbottom Social Club Secretary

Werneth Park : Saturday 10 May : 9am Sharp
Presentations : Works Canteen

Mr Arkwright
Personnel Department 

© Harry Mills
All rights reserved

What you see is what you get


Un-graded, un-rated

All kinds, all qualities
Large sizes, small sizes

No imperfections
Suitable for all wearing purposes

The same as firsts (at twice the price)
Two for half a crown in white and ecru

Your average, commonplace, mediocre,
run of the mill everyday Vyella Vests


© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved


Paralimni village is located on the road running south east from Famagusta en route to the Ayia Napa resort, which was only a small fishing village at the time.

As our taxi drew up I noticed three elderly Greek men, dressed in their traditional peasant attire of baggy pantaloons, were sitting outside the Taverna below a grape vine. They were playing dominoes.

It was one of those beautiful Cyprus evenings in early May and the fragrance of spring flowers was still in the air. I knew it wouldn’t be long before their spring scent would be replaced by a stronger fragrance from the hot summer days in which the scorching Levant sun left the island in an arid state, not dissimilar to the Africa that lay to our south. The countryside was still interspersed with green foliage and the reds and yellows of spring flowers: these flowers and the ubiquitous roadside coriander would soon turn brown, whilst the moist evening air would become dry and only the heavily scented jasmine climbing the parapet at the entrance to the Taverna would endure. All these thoughts ran through my mind as we made our way to an open courtyard below a galaxy of stars.

© Kenneth Campbell 2006
All rights reserved


When, in 1992, I enquired ... who was running the Uffculme Mill

I soon discovered ... that the Lady’s name was Jill
I also learned that the Mill’s Chairman was making a fire-work rocket
Whilst Jill was raising money ... from the public pocket
Years later Kent Farm* Residents ... were seen running to their commode
When they heard the Chairman’s rocket ... starting to explode

© Kenneth Campbell 2011
All rights reserved

*Kent Farm – Uffculme Care Home

Longings and Chips

I remember
Those heady Friday nights.  After Girl Guides,
When my friend, Shell, who led the Oak Patrol,
And I, her seconder,
Had helped The Little Ones
Work on their badges,
We had one joyful hour, all to ourselves,
Before our strict curfew.

I recall the chill, salt spume upon our cheeks,
While wind-whipped, white-crested breakers
Rolled heavily ashore, and angrily
Out-roared the winter gales.

Six penn’orth each of chips,
Wrapped in a greaseproof screw,
Were heaven in a bite:
The brief resistance of the deep-fried coat,
Then soft and hot potato,
Salt-sharp and tart with vinegar,
Melting along the tongue,
Repelled the raw and penetrating damp.

Laughing, we’d dash between the waves
Which burst across the prom
Lashing our feet,
Though sea stains on our navy gabardines
Would mean all hell to pay
When we got home.

To fan this risk,
The stars which lit our path,
Would cock a snook and disappear
Behind swift-racing clouds,
Leaving us darkly guessing at the tide.

On those rough nights,
We longed to see
Our second favourite heart throb.
(Elvis was first but sadly, he
Was local only in our secret dreams.)
We yearned for Fred – or sometimes Rich – imagined
How we’d meet and talk, hold hands perhaps,
Or even, kiss.

They never came.
What self-respecting boy
Would venture out in bitter wind and storm
To date two giggly school-girls,
Clad in wet macs, knee-socks and laced up brogues?

No matter.  The next day
We’d struggle with the household chores
And errands, Virgil, quadratics,
The mysterious working of a dynamo
And other impositions, deemed to be
Good for our young souls.

But for that single hour, on Friday nights,
We were as free and wild and loud
As the sea that raged around us.
© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Run of the Mill

As on a bitter night,
The mill-race, swollen by wild wind and rain,
Drives on the huge and ancient oaken wheel
To spin too fast,
Until, shuddering on its axle,
It tears free, shaking the whole edifice apart,

So, dear my father,
On that frost-fingered dawn
When *wisht hounds’ melancholy cries
Spoke to your trembling soul,
Your old heart cracked and broke.
© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

*Wisht hounds, a Devon name for curlews.  In some parts, a flock of curlews were considered to be a presage of death.

Run of the Mill

Geraniums are planted in the roundabout outside Morrisons; charity shops line the Fore Street. local people mooch the market for bargains; they start shopping for Christmas early at Argos. A farmer wearing blue jeans and wellies queues at the cash machine; he struggles to scratch a living farming sheep. St Peter's church bells ring in another goddamn hour of another goddamn day.

© Caroline Nicholson
All rights reserved

Run of the Mill

And did those feet?
Scuttling up and down the looms, tieing threads, missing shuttles and the foreman’s hand.
Long, cruel, deafening days - committed to darkness amid the odd shaft of sunlight revealing fine cotton particles that would clog my lungs and be my death.
All in a days work.

© Liz Redfern
All rights reserved

Run of the Mill

Words fall into my face,
none sparks my interest –
no recognition in the eyes.
death of vigour and fascination. 

The vicar intoning, unaware of his needy
congregation. Gazing at the light
through stained glass,
I see my own imagination.

Words running ceaselessly round the wheel.
Run of the mill, without meaning or energy.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

Run of the mill

An angle of the kitchen marked off by a brown-grey blur.
A streak ends under the cooker.
An omen of broken-backed death in mouse-traps.

© R. Rushworth
All rights reserved

Run of the Mill

I’ve lived a run of the mill life
Married a run of the mill wife
We have 2.2 children who
Were run of the mill at secondary school

Live in Middle England, modest and blamessly
Quiet nights spent at home, X Factor on TV.
Saving for the summer when we holiday in Spain
Two weeks in Marbella via SqeezyJet plane

Nothing to write home about, unexceptional, polite
Rarely moved to anger: the worst we say is sh___
Haven’t over-eaten – nothing in excess
Only an average burden on the NHS

Nose to the grindstone, I worked hard all my life
Pleased to keep my job during economic strife
Paid into a pension plan almost religiously
Coming to retirement now, find its worth just 50p

Still, no use complaining, that’s the way it’s got to be
Yet sometimes I sit and wonder what on earth became of me.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

Monday 17 October 2011

Writing Fitness - for combating Writer's Block

Hints and tips from JSASCRIBES

1. Read something. One of the most effective things I’ve done when I am faced with the perpetual blank page is read. It doesn’t seem to matter what I read, but a good thirty to ninety minutes of reading something usually gets my mind working in a more creative way.

2. Get some exercise. I don’t know how or why this helps writing, or if it applies to other people at all, but for me, getting some good, strenuous exercise seems to release those mysterious “endorphins” everyone’s always talking about, and gives me the extra push I need.

3. Write something else. Sometimes, I just need to write something totally unrelated to the story I am working on. This is where having a blog comes in handy. I might also write someone a letter, or a long e-mail, or write some new poetry.

4. Reread the story. This one is a tricky one and it wouldn’t be at the top of my list of things to do, but a lot of times, rereading the story I  am working on inspires me to go on with it. There have been times though, that the effect has given the opposite effect.

5. Pry, spy, and lie. As a natural-born busybody, this one is probably my favorite. I take a pen and paper and go somewhere and find someone (or several people) who strike my interest for some reason or another. I give them new names, new jobs, a brand new past, and if I am cranky, a life-threatening illness. I cast them into a make-believe present situation, usually something very critical and/or scandalous, and ponder the different ways they might handle it.

6. Try something new. As simple as it sounds, there’s something to be said for doing something you’ve never done before, tasting something you’ve never tasted, going somewhere you’ve never been, or talking to someone you’ve never met.

7. Get involved in your local writing community. Wherever you might live, chances are good that you share your space with a few or a few hundred like-minded folks who are part of a local writing community. Getting involved means meeting other people who have fresh ideas. It means submerging yourself in the world of writing and bringing it to the forefront of your mind. It means learning new skills, meeting with new opportunities, and finding new inspiration.

8. Join, or start, a critique group. When you’re part of a critique group, it’s hard to not write. You have a sense of expectation from yourself, and the other members are depending on you to keep the group going.

9. Assign the time. By assigning yourself a certain time of day to write for a specific duration, you are training yourself to respond accordingly. If you know you have to sit down and write Monday though Friday from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm, it’s just a matter of time before your mind starts to accept its duties. If you don’t know what to write for that half hour, start out by writing about not knowing what to write.

10. Interview the characters. Another one of my favorites, interviewing my characters almost always leads to some kind of revelation about the character or the story he or she is in, and makes me eager to write it all out. To interview the characters, I sit down at the computer and write out a kind of questions and answers game. This exercise is both fun and effective.

Sunday 2 October 2011

To Prologue or Not To Prologue?

To Prologue or Not To Prologue? « jsascribes: "The prologue is that first page (or few pages) at the opening of a story which gives readers background information, establishes character and setting, and/or gives readers a quick glimpse into the central conflict of the story, sometimes in an attempt to grasp the reader’s attention enough to motivate further reading. There does not seem to be any real rules about what a prologue may or may not contain, or whether or not a prologue should be used at all, therefore, whether or not a book should or should not open with a prologue is a subjective topic. While I’ve known people who feel that prologues are no more than a lazy way to introduce information, I’ve also known people who will only read a book if it has a good prologue; so there really is no right or wrong answer."