Archive for the ‘short stories’ Category

Weird dream

February 21, 2023

I visited a coffee shop to find I could not buy a coffee.

I visited l a second coffeeshop. Bar pushed against the wall. No coffee.

In the street two girls spot me who I may have seen before. The eldest walks up to me and tells me she has to do as her father told her, be a hero. Puzzled . She says talk to me. I invite her and her younger sister to join me. We walk to a coffee shop.

We walk into a coffee shop to find undergoing decoration. The door to the garden closed.

I wake up. I was not even aware I was dreaming. I must have momentarily fallen asleep.

Dark Mountain Terra book launch at Baldwin Gallery

November 22, 2018

Dark Mountain Terra book launch at Baldwin Gallery, a trek out to south east London, a nightmare to find.

Before setting off, I ask of the Baldwin Gallery, a fee, need to book, how to find?

Sadly clueless on the use of social media. No reply, by the time I do eventually receive a reply, too late, but they did have the courtesy to apologise.

  • broadcast —> one to many
  • social —> interaction
  • network – many to many

Social media is not broadcast, the clue is in the name, social network.

Train from Charing Cross to Dartford, alight at Lee.

Can I find Baldwin Gallery, no.

When in the vicinity and unable to find, I ask a passing local. No he has never heard of.

I pass by and find myself in Greenwich. I retrace my steps.

I find the venue, Baldwin Gallery, eventually.

I expect to find no one there, I am surprised to find quite a few have turned up, maybe twenty or more.

The original concept of Dark Mountain, thought provoking essays and short stories, art and poetry, was excellent. I was happy to support. But the reality, incomprehensible writing badly written, very little worth reading, the art badly reproduced. And then to be insulted with a poor quality paperback when had subscribed to what Dark Mountain describe as ‘Each issue takes the form of a beautifully-produced hardback.’

The evening was reading from Terra.

Nothing more boring than reading what has been written, I can do that myself. Public reading of poetry a different matter, it is meant to be read out loud. Far more interesting is for the contributors to talk about the subject they have written about.

Reading of a short story, a postman posted to back of beyond, I must have missed something, as the end was back at the beginning.

Reading of two essays, a native Indian massacre, the struggle of Palestinians, deserved deeper exploration, which would have been been possible had the contributors discussed their contribution not read from it. Worse still, it was a waste of there being present.

One of the criticisms of Dark Mountain, apart from too much pretentious badly written incomprehensible drivel, is the typeface, too small, not easy to read.

What was Terra?

I thought next volume, but when I saw a tiny slim volume, I thought no, must be a supplementary book, especially when I learnt this was the second book launch.

The topic was travel, a sense of place, how we interact with the landscape, how the landscape interacts with us.

Terra is the next volume, the typeface microscopic, needing a magnifying glass to read.

Copies of Terra were on sale. I did not see any sold. Nor did I see early volumes of Dark Mountain on sale.

At £20 for a slim volume, too pricey, especially when paid for by subscription, unlike most publications which go from publication to remainder to pulp.

It was only later when I checked the Dark Mountain website I learnt why no other volumes on sale, all sold out. Only available as a pdf file. I would recommend upload to leanpub and have in an e-format that flows as is more suited to reading on a tablet or e-reader or smartphone than pdf, though pdf would still be a format to select from.

Interesting exhibits at the Baldwin Gallery, strong Mexican influence, or at least Cenrtral America.

The Arabian Nights

January 3, 2016

One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights

Your fortune lies in Cairo. Go seek it there.

A modern retelling of The Arabian Nights.

Ata Madri, an expert in Mediaeval Arabic and The Arabian Nights receives an e-mail with an attachment. When she opens the attachment, it alludes to The Arabian Nights.

She has a dream:

Your fortune lies in Cairo. Go seek it there.

She is led to a bookshop in Caro, where believes she will find a Medieval manuscript of The Arabian Nights containing a long lost tale.

A wonderful re-telling of The Arabian Nights, tales within tales.

The ending of this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation is remarkably similar to The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.

Christmas Tale : The music coming from the house

December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas -- Ken Crane

Merry Christmas — Ken Crane

On Christmas Eve, the king invited the prime minister to join him for their usual walk together. He enjoyed seeing the decorations in the streets, but since he didn’t want his subjects to spend too much money on these just to please him, the two men always disguised themselves as traders from some far distant land.

They walked through the centre of the city, admiring the lights, the Christmas trees, the candles burning on the steps of the houses, the stalls selling gifts, and the men, women and children hurrying off to celebrate a family Christmas around a table laden with food.

On the way back, they passed through a poorer area, where the atmosphere was quite different. There were no lights, no candles, no delicious smells of food about to be served. There was hardly a soul in the street, and, as he did every year, the king remarked to the prime minister that he really must pay more attention to the poor in his kingdom. The prime minister nodded, knowing that the matter would soon be forgotten again, buried beneath the day-to-day bureaucracy of budgets to be approved and discussions with foreign dignitaries.

Suddenly, they heard music coming from one of the poorest houses. The hut was so ramshackle and the rotten wooden timbers so full of cracks, that they were able to peer through and see what was happening inside.

And what they saw was utterly absurd: an old man in a wheelchair apparently crying, a shaven-headed young woman dancing, and a young man with sad eyes shaking a tambourine and singing a folk song.

‘I’m going to find out what they’re up to,’ said the king.

He knocked. The music stopped, and the young man came to the door.

‘We are merchants in search of a place to sleep. We heard the music, saw that you were still awake, and wondered if we could spend the night here.’

‘You can find shelter in a hotel in the city. We, alas, cannot help you. Despite the music, this house is full of sadness and suffering.’

‘And may we know why?’

‘It’s all because of me.’ It was the old man in the wheelchair who spoke.

‘I’ve spent my life teaching my son calligraphy, so that he could one day get a job as a palace scribe. But the years have passed and no post has ever come up. And then, last night, I had a stupid dream: an angel appeared to me and asked me to buy a silver goblet because, the angel said, the king would be coming to visit me. He would drink from the goblet and give my son a job.

‘The angel was so persuasive that I decided to do as he said. Since we have no money, my daughter-in-law went to the market this morning to sell her hair so that we could buy that goblet over there. The two of them are doing their best to get me in the Christmas spirit by singing and dancing, but it’s no use.’

The king saw the silver goblet, asked to be given a little water to quench his thirst and, before leaving, said to the family:

‘Do you know, we were talking to the prime minister only today, and he told us that an opening for a palace scribe would be announced next week.’

The old man nodded, not really believing what he was hearing, and bade farewell to the strangers. The following morning, however, a royal proclamation was read out in all the city streets; a new scribe was needed at court. On the appointed day, the audience room at the palace was packed with people eager to compete for that much-sought-after post.

The prime minister entered and asked everyone there to prepare their paper and pens:

‘Here is the subject of the composition: Why is an old man weeping, a shaven-headed woman dancing, and a sad young man singing?’

A murmur of disbelief went round the room. No one knew how to tell such a story, apart, that is, from the shabbily dressed young man sitting in one corner, who smiled broadly and began to write.

(Based on an Indian story)

— Paulo Coelho

C-old or G-old

January 28, 2015

Another Alice


Going back some decades, I find myself admiring my grandma, when she was telling stories to my sister and I in bed. Her storytelling made the summer afternoons magical, stirred my imagination, so much that every single day I was looking forward to that moment. At the end of the day, I always wondered to myself, ‘How cool it must be to get old and know all these stories’..

Going a few decades ahead, to now, I still admit how cool it is to know beautiful stories, or better yet to make up new stories, and invite others in the world of wonder and magic and mystery and fun. For me, storytellers are like a dark chest of tales and wonders. They weave the threads of the world with their words, imbibing life to what was before imagined or keeping the world in motion. From writers of books to grandmothers. From the man sitting…

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Porcupines and Solidarity

September 7, 2014

Porcupines and Solidarity — Paulo Coelho

illustrations — Ken Crane

Synchronicity: I was reading Adultery this afternoon. The story revolves around Laura, a journalist who has lost meaning in her life. She reads Porcupines and Solidarity to her children.

Steph Bradley storytelling at Harris + Hoole

June 22, 2014

Steph Bradley with Alice

Steph Bradley with Alice

water meadows at St Catherine's Lock

water meadows at St Catherine’s Lock

I would love to be able to report a huge success, as Steph had travelled some distance as part of her Tales of Our Times tour but sadly not, as not a soul turned up.

Why, I do not know. Posters and flyers in Harris + Hoole, but we had not (to my knowledge distributed elsewhere, for example Guildford Library, Guildford Institute, Tourist Information, but they were made aware. Staff at Harris + Hoole, let their customers know. We made use of social media, both I and Harris + Hoole tweeted, though no one re-tweeted. Maybe it was because it was Sunday, maybe because it was outside their usual opening hours.

Guildford Book Festival was aware, but failed to pass the word on social media. Do they not like highlighting local book events? Shame on them if they do not.

For those who thought they might have come, this is what you missed.

Following a dream, Steph spent six months walking around England, telling stories, collecting stories. All of which was writ in the great book, Tales of Our Times. Tales of Our Times, is a limited edition, collectors item. Had folk turned up, they could have bought at reduced price, a signed copy. They could also have entered a raffle to win a copy.

Steph is bringing out a new book soon, maybe towards the end of this year, Flip Flop, first as an e-book on leanpub, then as a paperback.

Maybe if the Guildford Fringe Book Festival ever gets off the ground, maybe Steph will return.

Steph had for me, a signed copy of Tales of Our Times. To her great surprise and joy, I gave her a signed copy of a special limited edition 25th anniversary copy of The Alchemist.

Copies of Transition Free Press were left at Harris + Hoole, plus details of her books and how to order. Hopefully, Harris + Hoole will act as distribution for Transition Free Press.

Shock horror, on my way home, I found I no longer had my signed copy of Tales of Our Times. Where had I left it? My initial thoughts were on the train. I thought very very carefully, of all aspects of journey since leaving Harris + Hoole. Maybe, just maybe, I had left it at a pub where I had briefly stopped, sitting at an outside table. I called the pub. they checked, and yes it was sitting there. They said they would safeguard it for me to collect.

Prior to Harris + Hoole, I gave Steph a guided tour of Guildford, a walk along the river, and we were very lucky to catch a lady locking up St Mary’s Church (where Lewis Carroll preached) and we got a quick look inside.

Steph at Harris + Hoole with copies of The Alchemist and Tales of Our Times

Steph at Harris + Hoole with The Alchemist and Tales of Our Times

The Illustrated Man

June 18, 2014

The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man (1951), a collection of eighteen short stories by Ray Bradbury.

A vagrant rolls into town, his tattoos come to life at night, and show a very dark future.

Dramatised by BBC Radio 4, part of their Dangerous Visions series.

As usual, only kept on-line for seven days, now less than three days left.

The Illustrated Man

Tales of Two Times

June 1, 2014

Stories from Flip Flop, a preview of a yet to be published new book from Steph Bradley.

We last met Steph Bradley as she narrated the tales of WynnAlice as she walked around England telling tales, collecting tales, all collected together in the great book Tales of Our Times.

We tell stories, but what if those stories no longer match reality? Is it not then time to tell new stories?

Steph has embarked on the Tales of Our Times tour.

The Matlocks and the Terrible Thing

April 7, 2014

WynnAlice had a dream, six moons in the planning, six moons in the walking, she was to set off from the town that was not too big, not too small, and walk from town to village, village to town, telling tales, collecting tales, all to be writ in the great book, Tales of Our Times, a book of 13 chapters and 13 copies, there being 13 moons in a year.

A sojourn in Derbyshire. From The Matlocks to Chesterfield.

The Matlock Tree Group rescue trees hanging precariously onto thin limestone soils and replant. Everywhere they can, they plant trees.

The Matlock Tree Group started when local schoolchildren cleared a patch for a vegetable garden and dumped unwanted ash trees in a skip. The tree group rescued the ash trees and replanted them.

The local community support a local farmer, agreeing to buy a few of his lambs paying a better price than he would get if he took the lambs to market. They also hand feed orphaned lambs, rejected by their mothers or pushed out by greedy siblings.

Amazing how local planners can never find grounds to stop unwanted development, and yet local people who they supposedly are paid to serve, can always find many grounds.

In Chesterfield, all the schools have an allotment.

Our narrator is working on a new book, Flip Flop.

Based partly on true stories of the many people today who are already living their lives in a way that makes the world a better place to live in, Flip Flop seeks to give us a glimpse of a very different world; a world where debt is unknown, a world where people’s access to land and a home is their birthright, and where each and every child born is wanted, loved, and knows their purpose.

It was hoped to fund Flip Flop through crowd funding, but unfortunately it failed to reach its crowd funding target on sponsume. One third was raised, 40% if count those who paid direct to the author to avoid charges.

A big question mark on the many transition groups visited. Had they all chipped in, the target would have easily have been met, and they would have all benefited when Flip Flop was published.

Flip Flop will now be published in serial form on leanpub as an e-book. Everyone who pays to download leanpub, will receive Flip Flop chapter by chapter, until they have the complete book through regular updates. This has the advantages for both reader and author, and the author can get feedback and interact with the readers as the books is being written.

This is how all the classics were published. They they were first serialised in magazines, then published as a book.

Once the funds are raised, Flip Flop will be published as a paperback.

Contrast the vision of the future envisaged in Flip Flop with The Country Formerly Known as London.

With 100 advance orders, there is the possibility of Tales of Our Times being published as a paperback.

Our narrator will soon be touring the country. Dates have been fixed, but should you wish to host a story teller, please get in touch.

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