Fragrance and thorns~Beauty and decay~

This is the latest Picture, from the picture it and write series from Ermilia’s blog

http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/picture-it-write-36/

A decaying rose

Photograph provided and credited by Ermilia

Fragrance and thorns~ Beauty and decay

Written by John Yeo

The masked ball was the social event of the year, Freddie had decided to attend and furiously prepared his outfit and appearance for what was to be an extraordinary affair, anybody who was anybody would be there. Rumour had it that royalty would be attending, in disguise of course. The night arrived and a procession of large cars and carriages arrived at the country estate. Many people were lining the walls of the ballroom and the conversation was all about guessing who was who behind the various masks. The orchestra stuck up with the opening waltz and the evening began with dance after beautiful dance. Freddie danced continuously, and had marked several cards for the evening. Then came a tango, a beautiful mysterious lady, heavily masked with a skeletal face mask, asked Freddie to dance, How could he refuse? The passionate tango began, the couple danced beautifully together, inspiring gasps of admiration from the assembled crowd. Someone threw a perfect pink rose to the lady dancer, she caught it between her pearly white teeth and continued to dance. There was applause from all quarters of the ballroom. At the end of the dance, she proffered her lips and Freddie removed the rose with his mouth, he fell hopelessly in love. The lady then disappeared into the crowd, never to be seen by Freddie again. The rose wilted and wilted into the shape of a skeletal death’s head, leaving just a memory of the former beauty and fragrance of a mysterious ephemeral fleeting moment in time.  

Copyright (c) Written by John Yeo. All rights reserved

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JUNE 27th, 2014 Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.

A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

How long is long? That’s entirely up to you to decide. You can go with a set number — 750, 1000, or 2000 words, or more (or less!). Alternatively, you could choose your longest post thus far in the challenge, and raise the bar by, say, 300 words, 20 percent, three paragraphs — whatever works for you.

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

 My mind takes me back over twenty years. I had never actually come into contact with my treasured possession at this time, and I have to admit, I would not have placed a very high value on it at all.

Most of my working life was spent in a nine-to-five job in an office, I lived in a flat in London leading something of an inner-city life.

My stepfather, Jack, was elderly , on his own and becoming disabled, showing signs of his age. I got into the habit of helping him with his garden and tending to the vegetables on his allotment as he became more poorly. I worked with him, he supervised my efforts and I began to develop a very deep love of gardening.

Sadly Jack passed away and I continued to work on the allotment in Chorleywood. I would travel by car along the M25 motorway, from London, once a week to garden and harvest the produce. That allotment was located on a piece of ground adjoining a local common. There would be many people walking their dogs through the allotments who would stop and pass the time of day. The setting was beautiful, with hedgerows of Elderflower bushes and Dog Roses intermingled with Hawthorn Bushes. I loved spending the day there, happily gardening before braving the traffic on the M25 back to London. I remember one occasion when I got back to my flat in London, to my horror I could not find my house keys. I furiously drove back to the allotment, where I was fortunate enough to find my keys, resting on some freshly turned soil, where I had last been working. From that day forward, I purchased a chain that holds the keys securely fixed to my belt.

I had applied for an allotment in Highgate, in London, where there was a very long waiting list due to the location. Many people in the locality live in blocks of flats, without a garden, and competition for allotments is always very fierce. One day a letter arrived from The Highgate Allotments Committee, offering me an allotment, No. Y14, I excitedly went to view the overgrown plot and I immediately snapped it up.

This is when my treasured possession came into my hands.

I had left Jack’s garden tools behind in Chorleywood, and I began to buy and accumulate some replacements. I was browsing around a car-boot sale in Islington, when I saw it: A garden spade! Not just an ordinary garden spade, this spade was exactly the garden spade I was looking for. I tested it for size, for weight, and bartered with the owner. I paid the princely sum of six pounds for my treasure, and carried it home, before transferring it to my new allotment. My new spade was a used, blue metal spade with a nice sharp cutting edge.

Then began the task of clearing my new allotment of the unwanted weeds, there was a huge Blackberry hedge, growing out of control and covering up to one third of my allotment with fierce prickly branches. I dug them out, root by root, with my new friend, “Spade”, we were a good team, and the perfect match. One elderly person complained that these were Highgate blackberries I was removing, I replied they were Highgate trespassers on my plot! Spade and I then dug out some beds, neatly double-dug, to two measures of Spade’s blade, and planted a wonderful selection of vegetables. We were turning the soil over at a furious rate and exposing some really tasty worms and insects for the local bird-life. Two robins, I remember were furiously fighting and staking out their territory, and some very tame Blackbirds were visiting to collect food for their young.

I would spend a couple of hours a day on my allotment, very early in the morning, I was up with the lark, watering and taking care of the vegetables before I went to work. I am sure there was never a day when Spade and I were not together working, turning the soil or digging weeds out from the paths. I made some firm friends there and we would exchange spare plants and information, I always thought there was sometimes a little too much information composed of Old Wive’s Tales and hearsay. I purchased and erected a greenhouse, and a very good friend, Angelo helped me to build it. During the Winter months, Spade would live in the allotment shed, I would liberally oil his blade and the handle to prevent rust, although during the Winter months, there was usually some work for Spade and I to take on.

Suddenly, life radically altered, when I became bereaved, and lost my  wife, after thirty very contented years together. I retired from the office. The allotment and Spade, played a very big part in that period of my life. Time passed, and I met Margaret, we got married about nine very happy years ago and my friend Angelo was our best man at the wedding.

I moved to Norfolk on the east coast of England to live with Margaret, where I was fortunate to get another allotment pretty quickly, Spade, together with the rest of my garden tools and a large quantity of my allotment plants came too. I remember Margaret and I making several trips to transport some prized Blueberry bushes from the allotment in London to Norfolk. Spade was needed, as we had to dig the bushes out from the containers and transport them separately in the car.

The new allotment in Norfolk was also very overgrown and Spade and I had our work cut out, getting rid of endless weeds and preparing some new beds. Our house had a garden at the back that was full of builders rubble and waste. Spade was instrumental in helping to get this into a beautiful condition. Margaret and I joined the allotments committee, sharing the secretary duties, Spade was in constant use on a daily basis in the early hours of the morning. We spent about five years, producing some excellent vegetables, and Margaret performed magic in the kitchen, preparing tasty meals and jams and pickles from the harvest.

Change came along and Spade and I were to be on the move again to another allotment site, on the next field. This was a very well laid-out site, purpose-built by a local businessman. There was a lot of work for Spade and I, as we had to dig and prepare the beds for planting, starting from scratch once again. I had a nice new shed provided, this was the perfect home for my tools and Spade, I oiled his blade and gave him an extra polish.

We have worked very hard together over the years and Spade has become a daily part of my life. Can Spade be termed a treasure? I think so, he would be very difficult to replace, we are the perfect match in size and fit each other perfectly. I could not begin to put a monetary value on Spade at all, it would be impossible to find a valuation for the affectionate memories attached to my “Spade”.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo~ All rights reserved,

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JUNE 26th, 2014 Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rocking

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

FREE WRITING~MY SUMMERS IN THE PARK

Freely written by  John Yeo

The open-air theatre was a real treat for me in the Summer months in either, Holland Park in Kensington, London, or Regents Park in central London. There is nothing like settling down in the open air, (with an umbrella to hand), to enjoy a cultural show on a balmy Summer evening. With the flowers and the trees surrounding the stage, birds flying overhead and a packed auditorium, the magic would begin.

I have enjoyed wonderful performances of some very popular  well known Operas in Holland Park. The spectacle of the costumes, the singing, and the acting out of the well known stories. Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, many beautiful Operas composed by some very talented composers. The cast of many extras to act out the operatic story made for a wonderful spectacle and each live performance was unique. Outside in the audience, when a slight shower of rain arrives, it is a spectacle in itself to see hundreds of umbrellas go up, many in gaily coloured material advertising some illustrious successful companies or banks. Meanwhile the show always went on as the stage was usually roofed with a canvas roof and the performers were dry and able to carry on. I would love to hear the very well known operatic arias, sometimes interrupted by some noisy rooks or crows in the surrounding trees. One memorable evening, I remember a splodge from a bird flying overhead that landed on the bald head of the man sitting in front of me. The curses were disgraceful and irreverent. Some families would bring picnics and wine and enjoy a wonderful meal with the Opera in full swing. A wonderful example of true British idiosyncratic behaviour, eat al-fresco and enjoy wonderful culture at the same time. Insects and midges could be a problem, flying around in the evening twilight, although no notice would be taken by the enthralled audience.

Regents Park in central London is also very beautiful on a Summers evening, the open air theatre there would stage a season of Shakespeare’s plays. The actors who played their parts in the period costumes would make these shows, bringing Shakespeare’s characters to unique life, as played and interpreted by the individual actor. The very familiar tragic plays including “Romeo and Juliet” brought gloriously to life by these very well-versed and competent actors. Watching the cast perform their roles in the period costumes and listening to the magical poetic words. The setting in the park, with the Summer flowers and the well-lit stage would send a shiver of excitement down my spine, as the performance began and ended.

Another treat  would be the opportunity for people-watching in general. I talked to one young lady who attends every single evening performance in Holland Park, from day one to the finale of the final day. A true Opera fan indeed.

Copyright (c) ~ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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JUNE 25, 2014 Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

GROWING UP

Written by John Yeo

 I have been chucked out of the house by me Mum and Dad, they reckon I have been very naughty. Dad clipped me around the ear, all because I was hungry and scoffed that piece of chicken from the fridge. I s’pose, I can only sit here on the step. My friends William and Tommy are indoors now, having supper in the warm. Some of the older kids from the block went past in an old banger of a car, laughing loudly and shouting. I know they are the ones who do the drawings and words all over the walls in the street. My Dad says they should be locked up.

 Wow! The police have turned up across the road, with another man in a big flash car. They keep on knocking on No.39, Mrs Pauley’s door, there is no reply, she’s not answering. The man crosses the road and talks to me. “Hallo youngster, do you know Mrs Pauley? Is she at home?     “Yes Mister, I know her but I have not seen her”. I watch him walk back to join the police who are checking around the back of the house.

 My Mum has heard me talking to someone, “What’s going on?”

“Nothing Mum, I’m being good, just watching the police at Mrs Pauley’s house”.

“What?”

Mum rushes across the road to talk to the man with the big flash car.

“Now don’t you get involved, Mrs Yates,” The man shouts. “We have come to see Mrs, Pauley, she has paid no rent for three months and I need to re-let the property”

My Mum shouted back at this man, calling him an unfeeling leech, only interested in making a profit.

The police calm things down and say they will have to break the door down.

A few minutes later, I see a flashing blue light as an ambulance arrives. They bring poor old Mrs Pauley out on a stretcher, she is very sick. My Mum is telling Dad, they don’t think she will survive the journey to hospital.

We all go indoors and I overhear them talking about Mrs Pauley.

“It’s a shame, she has six sons, someone should have come to see her and sort her bills out. They should have looked after her”

 

Copyright © ~Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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JUNE 24, 2014 Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page

We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s twist: Write this post in a distinct style from your own.

SCARED TO DEATH

Written by John Yeo

Here goes my style No. 1~

What am I afraid of ?  When I was younger, nothing!

Now I’m scared to lose, my wife and soulmate.

I do not want to be dependant on anyone else if dementia strikes.

That would be a fate worse than death for me.

It will never be my style, to write in a helpless way.

To lead my life in a situation when I only remember today.

Without my friend beside me to guide me through.

I am now retired and living very happily with my wife Margaret. We lead quite active lives in our retirement, I have plenty of work in the garden. Margaret loves cooking and spends some time creating dishes from the produce I bring home from the allotment in the Summer and Autumn months. We belong to a bowls club and also bowl indoors during the Winter months.

Easily my biggest fear is that Margaret will go to heaven before I leave this world and I am left alone. Then it will be very scary if I develop Alzheimers disease or dementia, and I become dependant on complete strangers for my needs.

This post requires me to write in a style that is not my normal style.

Style No. 2~My style

CARE POEM

By John Yeo

This unbearable feeling is hard to share.

After many years suffusing into each other

An unbreachable gap has come to appear,

Shattering feelings built over many a year.

We shared many times with mutual respect

Happiness with laughter, always together

Never stopping to consider this awful end

The Death of a lover and a very dear friend

At the last, Death rips and shreds the past

Smashing our life to a million shards

The painful cutting and tearing apart,

Bloodless breaking of a once proud heart

Memories abound in solitary sadness

Flooding my mind with thoughts and despair

You were once here with me,

always there,

This harsh world continues without a care.

Copyright © By John Yeo  All rights reserved

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JUNE 23rd, 2014 Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Serial Killer III

The link below will take you to my day four~Writing instalment~”The tragic loss unfolds”~Episode One~

http://wp.me/p2Jp6l-fy

The link below will take you to my day nine ~Writing instalment~”The Orchids”~Episode Two~

http://wp.me/p2Jp6l-iK

LOST AND FOUND

Episode three

By John Yeo

The approaching noises just got closer and closer. We were unsure whether they were made by man or beast. I said to Margaret, we will not run, we will hide in the woods and see who comes along the trail. We waited tensely, listening to the approach of someone in a hurry, obviously chasing after us. Suddenly there was a break in the trees and a tall man, wearing tweed clothes and a deerstalker hat appeared in the clearing. Hallo! He shouted.

I stepped out into the clearing, shaking off, Margaret’s attempt to hold on to me to keep me under cover. The man said, “I’m glad I caught up with you, I have been following you since you left my cottage. I found this brooch on the floor, it looks as if it might have value”. It was a brooch in the shape of a peacock, belonging to Margaret. A sentimental brooch that I purchased as a souvenir, when we were on our travels a few years ago. Margaret was thrilled to get it back, it did mean a lot to her, the strange thing is, she never realised she had lost it in our hurry to get away from the cottage. I thanked the man profusely and offered him a reward from the notes I had in my wallet.

The man introduced himself as Gerald Mellors, and said he was the gamekeeper here on this estate and forest, which stretched as far as five miles in every direction from his cottage.

I asked him, with some trepidation, about the fresh blood we had noticed at the cottage. He replied that he butchered deer for the estate owners and buried the remains of the carcases in the yard. I laughed at that, we did not let on about our suspicious fears.

We then explained that we were also hopelessly lost. Our new friend said not to worry, he would give us directions to follow to get us safely home.

I informed him about our find of the very rare, very valuable orchids. Mr Mellors was amazed, and said he would inform his employers, who were very kindly, and would certainly want to reward us for our honesty, and for our recognition of these precious flowers.

We started out on this journey by losing ourselves, we then found a very rare group of orchids. Margaret lost a brooch, with a high sentimental value, and we found a new friend in Gerald Mellors, the gamekeeper, who helped us find our way home. Margaret still has certain reservations and uneasy feelings about this new-found friend and is wary about my decision to reveal the existence of the valuable orchids.

We almost ran away and lost ourselves again in the depths of the forest. Often when you face your fears,  you find answers where you least expect to find them.

Copyright (c)~Written by John Yeo~All rights reserved

EPISODE ONE LINK~ http://wp.me/p2Jp6l-fy ~

EPISODE TWO LINK~ http://wp.me/p2Jp6l-iK  ~

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BE STRONG~A LIFE HAS GONE

This is the latest Picture, from the picture it and write series from Ermilia’s blog

http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/__picture-it-write-84/

Image

silent dying by laura makabresku on Flickr

BE STRONG~
By John Yeo

The peace of the moment.
Reflected in Stillness and Silence,
The shroud tries to conceal
The awful tragic truth.
A young life lived, so short,
So sweet and full of laughter.
The curse of the cancer that eats away,
The frailty of our human defences.

Many a care you faced in a life,
Shrugged away with the ease of youth.
You lived a life in an enquiring way,
Never realising the awful truth.
Many tears have now drowned the moment,
Your short life has sadly expired.
The cancer sapped your strong free will
Until the fight for life back-fired.

Now you lie here, at peace,
We all find it so hard to bear,
Our frailty shows in the tears we shed,
As we say goodbye with a prayer.
Life is a passage from here to somewhere,
A stage in the eternal journey.
A short sweet life has left today
Thanks for the life-long memory.

Copyright (c). Written by John Yeo. All rights reserved.