Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Cruel Giant

This is another of my Welsh Folk Story made into a modern tale.  For other Welsh Folk tales click here.
Mair was flustered. She couldn't find the Worcestershire Sauce anywhere and her dad couldn't have steak without a drop of his favourite condiment on it. Why did they always change where things were in this damn supermarket? Every week the cereal was where the tea used to be, or the pasta was where the spices were. She looked at her watch, she had just fifteen minutes to get home before her dad woke up. He’d want a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit before Pointless started, and if she wasn't there to serve it then there would be hell to pay.
“Excuse me,” she said to the young man in the Tesco uniform in front of her.
“Yes?” he said
Mair was speechless. It was as if Brad Pitt was standing in front of her. Okay Brad Pitt with acne and a bum fluff but still.
“Um where's the Worcestershire sauce?” She asked feeling herself redden.
“I'll show you,” he smiled and her knees went weak all over again. She quietly read his name tag. Idwal, what a lovely name.
Mair went back to Tesco every day for the rest of the week but she didn’t bump into Idwal again. She was beginning to think she’d dreamt him. Mind you, she had no idea what she'd say to him if she did see him; she couldn't exactly ask for directions to the Worcester Sauce again could she? And she'd never really spoken to any boys. And anyway why would he care about her? She was just a little mouse, no match for a future Brad. But there was no harm in looking.
It was six days later that she noticed he was working on the check out. She stood in line patiently waiting her turn.
“Hey Worcestershire Sauce girl.”
She blushed. She couldn't believe he'd remembered her.
“Hi,” she said not looking for eye contact.
“I get off in twenty, fancy a coffee?”
Mair swallowed hard.  Idwal was asking her out. But there was no way she could go. It was almost time for Pointless, her dad would want his cup of tea.
She shook her head, handed over her cash and scurried away, her body awash with mixed emotions, excited about Idwal, but hating her dad even more. It was like she was in a prison, but Idwal offered just a glimmer of hope, hope of escape.
The next day she went earlier to Tesco but there was no sign of Idwal. as she was walking home she heard a voice.
“Hey,” she walked on quicker.
“Hey Worcestershire sauce girl.”
She smiled and turned around.
They met everyday for the next month and then her Brad-lite did something she never thought would ever happen, he proposed.
A single tear ran down Mair's face. A tear of happiness and despair. For she could never marry this man, despite love burning in her heart for him. Her father would never agree.
She shook her head slowly and said that she should never see him again. 
“Why not?” Idwal asked.
Mair said nothing, she just sadly walked away.
Luckily for Mair, Idwal didn’t take no for an answer. He caught up with the beautiful young woman and begged her to tell him what was wrong.
“It’s my father,” sobbed Mair. “He’s a cruel, giant of a man. He would never agree to me marrying you, because then he would have no one to look after him.”
“So why not run away with me then?” Idwal asked. “We don’t need his permission; this isn’t the nineteenth century.”
Mair thought about it and then nodded. She should run away.
That night Mair packed her things including a mirror, a jewellery box and a pendant that belonged to her mother and then, when she was sure her father was asleep, slipped out of her front door and into the arms of Idwal who was waiting for her.

It was 10.30 am the next morning when Mair got her first text from her father.
“I’m coming to get you.”
Mair was terrified. How could he know where they were? She took her mother’s things out of the bag and looked at them. She held the jewellery box in her hand.
“Mum, please help me,” she whispered, and the jewellery box disappeared.

Mair’s father stood on the platform of Swansea train station waiting for the train to Cardiff. When he found out who had had the nerve to take his Mair from him, he would rip that little weasel into a million pieces.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please can you exit the station. Please exit the station.”
Mair’s father stamped his foot. What was going on?
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s a suspicious package on platform 2. Please can you exit the station.”

It was 1pm when Mair got another text.
“You can’t stop me that easily Mair. I’m on the train.”
Mair was terrified. The bomb scare hadn’t worked. She took her mother’s things out of the bag and looked at them. She held the pendant in her hand.
“Mum, please help me,” she whispered, and the pendant disappeared.

Mair’s father sat on the train with a smile on his face. Not the smile of a pensioner thinking of his daughter, but the smile of a psychopath devising ways to make the person who took his daughter away, suffer.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sorry to announce that there are leaves on the line and that we will need to move slowly through the next section of track. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
The train crawled along the track, the warped smile had gone from the angry giant’s face.

It was 4pm when Mair got another text.
“You can’t stop me that easily Mair. I’ve got to Cardiff.”
Mair was terrified. The leaves on the line hadn’t worked. She took her mother’s mirror out of the bag and looked at it. She held it tightly.
“Mum, please help me,” she whispered and the mirror disappeared.

Mair’s father stood on the platform waiting for the train to Barry. He was getting close, he could almost smell his daughter and the man who had taken her from him. He punched his fist into his hand.
“Ladies and gentlemen we are sorry to inform you, that all Valley Lines services have been cancelled.”
Mair’s father couldn’t believe his ears and he knew what was coming next.
“There will be a rail replacement bus service.”

The giant let out a roar that echoed around the whole of Cardiff. Even Mair in her bed and breakfast in Barry heard it. Mair’s father couldn’t go on. He’d been defeated by the ineptitude of the Welsh railway system.

I couldn't find the original on the internet so here it is from my stories of Wales Book. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Segways - Prague Diaries

I've come to the conclusion that, those Segway things, are not machines at all, but are actually living, breathing sentient beings.  And what's more they are the most randy thing known to man; the little fuckers are breeding like rabbits. When I left Prague just a short six months ago, I would say there was a healthy Segway population but now the city it overrun with self-balancing devices of all different shapes and sizes. They say in London you are never more than three foot from a rat, well in Prague it is the two wheel rats that are omnipresent.
When they were first introduced into the city, they were timid creatures. Only coming out occasionally and often hiding in side-streets or down by the river. But their increased numbers have made them bolder, they now rule the roost, venturing into the centre with a confident strut consigning those on foot to the edges of the sidewalks.
Mostly seen in packs with a skilled leader at the front, the beasts pay no heed to the terrified pedestrians with whom they share the pavements. They swoosh within millimetres of the unsuspecting human population, only swerving out of the way at the last moment. Pedestrians must keep a look out for them at all times and if they spot one are advised not to approach it or cross its path.

 If you wish to view the Segway in the city, I suggest going to the bottom end of Wenceslas square. This seems to be their feeding ground where the leaders gather to plan and plot and presumably breed.
It is time that Prague city council acted to stop the plague from getting worse before pedestrians are forced into the road or worse underground. There are many options available. Of course Segway clubbing was outlawed in 2014 after the Greenpeace protests, but it is still legal to kill Segways providing you have a license. Large scale trapping and gassing might be one answer, although this is often considered as inhumane. Hunting with dogs is also an option but many people see this more as a sport rather than a measure to control population. My own personal preference is sniper. Carefully positioned gunmen detailed to take out the leaders would surely be the most humane way of dealing with this issue. Once the leaders are gone the other Segways would disperse and the streets of Prague would be safe for pedestrians again. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Sniper - Prague Diaries 2

The second of my Prague Diaries. People asked me after yesterday if these are true stories. Well I am a fiction writer. There are often elements of truth in my stories, how much, you decided. 

Now I know when Czechs travel to Britain they are amazed by how draughty everything is, and even more amazed that Brits don’t seem to mind the cold. In return I have yet to fathom why so many Czechs prefer the smell of three-day old tramp piss to having a small current of fresh air circulating on public transport. Even in the heat of summer the windows remain tightly closed on Prague trams, so I had no chance of fresh air on the last tram home at the end of March. I’ve been told that this lack of air is because of fear of ear infection, but two things strike me about this excuse. One, when was the last time you knew about an adult with an ear infection; we grow out of them at the age of six! And two, I can’t find any health website that says fresh air causes earache.   
The tram I was on that night had so little air in it it was not safe for canaries, and what air there was was being intoxicated by the smell of the tramp sleeping in the third seat from the back. It was hot too; hot and stuffy, perfect for Czechs, an anathema to Brits. I unzipped my coat in the hope of cooling down a tad, but it was no good, I was going to have commit the Czech cardinal sin and open a window.

But I knew that if I tried to open a window just a crack I would put myself at risk of the Czech specialty, no not fried cheese or slivovice, but the passive aggressive lynching. You would think that passive aggression would be better than the British alternative of aggressive aggression, bordering on violence, but the tut-tutting and the rolling of eyes are somehow worse. If I was really unlucky, I’d get the consistent mumbling, the incantation, the casting of spells, that would echo around the tram until I got off. I’d take having a drunken man, or woman, stab a finger into my chest and call me a c*** any day of the week.
What I didn't expect was the man sitting next to the window to go down clutching his ear like a sniper had taken him out. As soon as I forced the window open, he'd collapsed in a heap. The bullet of cooler air ripping through his auditory canal and lodging itself in his Eustachian tube. Writhing in pain, he immediately demanded the window be shut. Onlookers looked on appalled by my aggressive actions; how dare I break the non-fresh air pact? The tutting had started, and the spells were being cast.
I tried to explain to my victim that the tram was smelly, but I think only made it worse. My Czech was never that good at the best of times, let alone after 6 months away. The onlookers gasped and the spells were silenced as I told the stricken passenger – that he and not the tram was smelly.