It’s a sunny day in the popular seaside resort. Michael is constructing a garden shed for a customer of his DIY store, when his pager goes off. He scans the device briefly then turns and starts running. His colleagues are not surprised. They’re used to it. Within minutes he arrives at the local lifeboat station on the southeast coast. Soon he and the rest of the crew are at sea, powering towards the rocky cliffs, where two swimmers are trapped against the rocks by a heavy swell. It’s a tricky operation to steer the rigid inflatable boat close enough without it being smashed against the rocks. The team have to bring it in quickly then hover, balancing carefully at 90 degrees to the swell. The crew hoist one man out and manoeuvre the boat round for the other man before turning for home. With both men delivered safely to the emergency services, the lifeboat is rehoused, washed and prepared for the next incident. Within hours Michael is back at the store. This is just a solitary incident in the life of an unpaid ordinary member of the public who devote their time and efforts to saving lives at sea. Imagine for a moment that you’re part of the crew on a lifeboat. It’s 2.30am on a freezing January morning and the pager’s just woken you from a deep sleep in a snug warm bed. You then head out to sea in complete darkness and 10m waves rise and fall around you, ready to swamp you at any moment. Strong gale force winds throw the lifeboat around like a toy. Most lifeboat crew members are volunteers, ordinary people who simply and selflessly want to save lives at sea. When the pagers go off, they drop everything and are regularly called away from their families, their beds and their work, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A donation to to the RNLI, is always money well-spent, to enable this important rescue work to continue.
I wrote this post for ‘The Quintet’ our church magazine in response to the theme of…PROCRASTINATION.
MUSING ON PROCRASTINATION
by John Yeo
I now appreciate absolutely, the meaning of the word, PROCRASTINATION
When we returned from the church service today I had every intention of beginning work on the next chapter of my book. First the iPad was the lure away from the work in hand, I found there were many light hearted, unnecessary things that needed my urgent attention, such as who has read and liked my latest posting on the social media. The Scrabble word game App takes another slice of my valuable time as I sit and think, and work out various combinations of letters to defend my honour. We enjoyed tea and biscuits, before the continuation of a drama series began on television and this took my attention away from the keyboard and the continuation of my story.
By this time I am renewing my resolve to begin work! But before I begin I have to just check on the outside world on the social media pages again, then Margaret and I do battle at Scrabble and complete our game.
I still haven’t written one word and it is time for dinner. Margaret has been preparing a wonderful meal in the kitchen and we sit and enjoy our Sunday dinner together in front of the television.
I then begin to focus in spite of the pull of the interesting selection of programmes that are being broadcast at this peak period on a Sunday evening.
I then give up writing and procrastinate by reading and posting an article on procrastination on my social media page before I retire to read poetry in bed.
Procrastination is the thief of time, if you delay doing something, it will take longer to do later on.
I wrote this post for ‘The Quintet’ our church magazine in response to the theme of…SLAVERY.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
by John Yeo
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about slavery, is the horror of the period between 1600 when legal mass slavery was reputed to have begun in the UK and 1863 when slavery was officially abolished in the USA.
Although slavery in one form or another actually began much earlier, in the form of war captives, and the domination of one tribe by another.
However, slavery comes in many forms; human slavery is just the tip of a hidden iceberg. Almost every one of us is a slave to addiction in one form or another. Whether it be one of the obvious big four, Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, or Gambling or another enslaving addiction such as the habitual rejection of food as in questionable diets and slimming fads that could lead to the horrors of Anorexia or Bulimia.
A miser’s enslaving addiction is the storing up of wealth and hatred of expenditure.
Addiction can take many forms, in fact, people can become addicted slaves to almost anything, from eating too much ice cream to viewing obscenity.
By far the newest trap, with the potential to become the biggest modern path into enslavement comes in the form of Internet addiction. Particularly the new, so-called, Social Media, it starts as a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends but it can slowly and insidiously become a time-consuming, enslaving addiction. ‘Just one little look!’ becomes hours and hours of pointless time-wasting.
The dangers of internet enslavement to the younger generation have been recognized and well-recorded. This has the potential of becoming the biggest threat to the unwary in recorded history. With the added side effects of leading the young astray along a maze of unforeseen addictive paths. Children, of all ages and many adults, are becoming bombarded with images and alluring, time-consuming pathways embedded in the World-Wide-Web.
This is not to downplay the obvious advantages of the web for education and instant communication.
One of the biggest challenges in the near future will certainly be a coming to terms with the effects of this widespread, self-inflicted, modern form of enslavement of the unwary; who become ensnared by this highly addictive web.
I wrote the following piece of flash fiction for our church magazine in response to the theme of Electricity. Sadly there is a lot of truth embedded in this little tale Somewhere there has to be a solution to our need to power new homes for our ever increasing population. At what cost?
ELECTRICITY AT WHAT COST
by John Yeo
The electricity of inter-species tolerance and communication in action.
The sun was shining and although it was quite cold, we decided to go for a stroll around the lake. Sweet chestnuts and empty husks lay in great profusion under the trees. Autumn leaves underfoot scrunched as we strolled along a well-worn path. There was a distinctly autumnal feel to our walk, as we strolled along treading the crunchy leaves underfoot. Many sweet chestnuts and husks were piled under the trees, left behind by the ever-busy grey squirrels as they secreted sweet chestnut kernels in hidden larders as a store of food for the long winter months ahead. Many of these playful squirrels were chasing each other up and down the trees as we strolled along. A good number of Moorhens and Mallard Ducks were swimming on the surface of the lake and in tiny inlets under the trees. The ever-present avaricious Gulls were swooping around over the lake and floating on the water squabbling with each other. We passed a pair of Egyptian Geese sleeping on the banks of the lake, who obligingly awoke and posed for a photograph as we walked by. Many Wood Pigeons were pecking around in the grass, it’s a wonder there is food enough here to support this large community of different species of birdlife, together with the Squirrels and the ever increasing number of Rabbits.
Then, nailed to a tree was a notice. We had heard rumours on the communal grapevine about the fate of this beautiful spot, and here it was plain for all to see. The owners of this lovely beauty spot had sold out to big business. This beautiful area was to be destroyed and replaced with two giant wind turbines and a mast for telephone and broadband reception. The bases of these three monstrosities would be concreted over for stability and ease of maintenance. These two turbines would generate enough electricity to power up to 6000 homes.
Sadly, we continued along our way, thoughts were racing through my mind. Ripples in the lake betrayed the presence of many large fish, the lake is situated within a few hundred yards of the coast. Freshwater fish obviously thrive here, kept under control by the attention of the local family of Herons. Another pair of Mallard Ducks swam lazily on the surface of the water and a Moorhen raced for cover as we walked noisily by on the multi-coloured leaves. Suddenly there was a movement at a small pool on the banks of the lake as a large Toad with a distinctive yellow stripe along his back came into view. He didn’t hop along he almost walked out of the reeds alongside the pool.
‘My God!’ I thought, ‘I don’t believe it; that is certainly a Natterjack Toad. A member of a protected species. This development will never go ahead’
Our mood suddenly became euphoric as the implications of this discovery became clear.
I quickly pulled out my iPhone and began taking many photographs of this saviour of the natural environment.
The rest is history, the turbines were relocated, providing the much-needed electricity for the planned new homes and in the following Spring many baby Mallard ducks and Egyptian Geese will be born here and there should be strings of Natterjack Toads eggs in the pools surrounding our beautiful protected lake.
This is a resurrected and revised piece of work I wrote some years ago. I am submitting it now for publication in our church magazine in answer to the theme of music.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
The Piper’s Legacy
by John Yeo
The two brothers, Donny and Flip were out playing in the fields, wandering around at the bottom of Piper’s Hill. This steep local hill was suffused with local legend and magical tales were told about many mysterious occurrences throughout the ages. The two brothers were as alike as chalk and cheese as the old saying goes. Donny was tall and thin with a shock of black hair and piercing blue eyes; he was the oldest of the two by eighteen months.
Flip was shorter, much to his chagrin, with brown straight hair and brown eyes to match. A daredevil, always game for anything.
The one thing the brothers had in common was their quick wits and friendly demeanor.
Flip was acting as a hunter and racing along ahead of Donny.
‘Slow down Flip, we don’t want to lose track of each other, it’s getting late and we don’t want to get lost.’ shouted Donny.
‘It’s OK, I know exactly where we are. That’s old man Grieves farm over there.’ replied Flip. A startled Blackbird flew up as he continued to run, making the familiar squawking sound that is the Blackbirds cry of alarm.
Then he suddenly shouted, ‘Hey Donny, come quick.’
Donny pushed his way through some bushes at the bottom of the hill and suddenly saw Flip standing in front of the strangest wizened wrinkled old man he had ever seen. This man was wrapped up in an incredible multi-green coat, covered with streaks of brown that looked suspiciously like mud. The old man had a twinkle in his green eyes that were almost dazzling when he looked directly at Flip and Donny.
‘Hello,’ he said, What do I see here? Two young escapees from humdrum, looking for adventure? Sit on this handy log here and I will tell you a story.’
Donny sat down straight away and signaled to Flip to join him. Both of the boys were captivated by this strange old man with his merry grin.
The old man picked up an intricately carved wooden tube that was lying at his feet and waved it in front of the boys.
‘You see this? This is an ancient tube, in the right hands, it makes the sweetest sounds you have ever heard. I inherited this from its mysterious owner many years ago. When I was your age, our town was plagued with vermin. The town council hired the man who owned this magical tube to get rid of them. A price was agreed and the fun began.’
The man then suddenly picked up the tube, put it to his mouth and blew once. Soon every tree and bush in the vicinity was covered with hundreds of birds of all shapes, sizes, and varieties.’
The strange old man continued.
‘This musical man dressed in a strange multi-coloured costume was leading the thousands of assorted troublesome vermin from the town. My Mother and Father watched with glee, as the Piper worked his magic. Just as he had predicted, his music was hypnotic to the ears of the vermin and his assignment to clear the town was an instant success.I was 7 years old at the time, and the sight of these vermin leaving the town produced loud cheers and much happiness from the townspeople.’
The old man continued, laughing loudly. ‘What do you think happened next?’
Both boys were dumbstruck and simply shrugged their shoulders.
Flip piped up and said, ‘Can I have a blow on that whistle?’
Donny kicked him in the shins and said,
‘Shut up Flip! Please carry on with the story.’
The old man smiled. ‘Well, the mayor decided not to pay the agreed fee and tried to cheat the piper.
The piper was angry at this and blew a strange tune on his whistle. A tune that got into the ears of every child in the town. I remember beginning to dance along with hundreds of my friends. The urge to dance was overwhelming. We followed the piper, dancing to the merriest tune you have ever heard. We danced to this very hill and suddenly two huge cave doors appeared and we all danced inside, to find a Wonderland.A place where dreams come true in the blink of an eye.’
The boys were overwhelmed with curiosity.
‘Why have you come back?’ Asked Donny.
Then Flip interjected. ‘Can we come with you to see this place?’
With a shake of his head and a wave of his hand, the ancient traveler suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Then Flip bent down and picked something up, something long, tubular, intricately carved, with holes in.‘Look, Donny, he’s left the pipe behind.’
Donny grabbed the pipe and put it to his lips but nothing happened. Flip tried to get a sound from the flute without success.
Both boys then returned home with their treasure. They tried many times over the years to get a sound from this pipe, without any success.
The boys didn’t let on to anyone about their magical meeting with the little old man on Pipers Hill.
However magic certainly came from the meeting as Donny became a talented well paid Flautist and Flip made a name for himself by playing the Saxophone in a famous orchestra.
The brothers later became renowned as a duo that rocked the jazz world.
Written by John Yeo, (With apologies to ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin.’)
I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to this months theme of WATER..
The Relentless Sea
by John Yeo
Driftwood, bobbing and bouncing on the top of the waves, was the first clue that Old Tom had claimed another unwary, unsuspecting victim. Our hearts sank whenever large spars of wood came drifting in on the foamy, relentless, rough waves in exceptionally stormy weather. Old Tom was the name given by the locals over many centuries to a line of cliffs that were hidden at the entrance to the harbour. Obscured from the sight of incoming vessels by the high waters. There was a large rock, shaped like a giant, hence the name and the well deserved ugly reputation.
Several battered suitcases and wooden barrels arrived bobbing into the waiting arms of the people lining the shore. These wrecks always drew a crowd of locals searching for the remains. This wreckage seemed to be different than the usual detritus that floated into shore.
“I wonder if there were many lives lost out there this time. Last time Old Tom claimed twenty-nine. I hear we must be thankful for small mercies, the rocky arms of Old Tom have embraced many of our enemies in the past and saved us from invaders.” Billy Martindale said to his wife Josie.
Josie looked pale and drawn, dragged from her customary hard routine of caring for their home, she had always accompanied her husband to lend assistance if there was a shipwreck.
“I sincerely hope not!” she replied.
Billy and Josie had lived on the cliffs of this perilous coastline for thirty-five years, a harsh way of life, that both of them had learned to accept the hard way, as they knew no other. They had two sons Bert and Jack, who had long since left the safety of their home and gone to sea. The first of the dead floated in.
Josie gasped, “It’s a baby! Oh no! Look, Billy.” Then another group of bodies was washed up on the shore. These were families, and the horror set in as the extent of this tragedy began to slowly unfold. The Coastguards and the Lifeboats returned to shore after a fruitless search for survivors. The newspapers reported another boatload of refugee asylum seekers had been drowned that day off the rugged, rocky coast. At the final tally, Old Ben had claimed another forty-nine lives. Sadly the horrors that drove these people to seek sanctuary, seem so ongoing and insoluble that we can only pray for future peace and goodwill in this world.
I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to this months theme of SPRING.
by John Yeo
To the gardener, Spring is an exciting season of birth-rebirth and renewal.
Seeds are planted in the sure hope that new life will spring from the ground in the form of food and flowery sensations. Some plants in the borders appearing dead and past resuscitation suddenly spring back to life from their Winter dormancy. The cacophony of birdsong and calls that is known as the dawn chorus begins as wild birds build their nests laying numerous eggs, nurturing and helping them to develop into chicks.
Spring always a season of new life has been extra special for us this year as Margaret and I have been presented with a new Great Grandson, a Spring baby. I wrote this poem which I have dedicated to him and I am delighted to share here as a tribute to all concerned with our grateful thanks to God.
I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Fools.
A PANOPLY OF FOOLS
by John Yeo
It was a rather special afternoon at the village drama society, all the members were holding their breath in anticipation. Today was casting day for a performance at the local theatre, rumour had it that some celebrity guests would be attending the auditions. The play we would be performing was to be William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. I had reluctantly joined the West Chester drama society at the behest of my dear wife Penelope, who is a regular performer. This was to be a first, I have never acted in my life before and I was feeling incredibly nervous about the prospect. I gingerly made myself known to the other members of the group as we entered, The Leering Donkey, a local pub.
‘Hello everyone, I’m Norman, nice to meet you all.’
There were several nods and smiles of welcome and approval from the assembled members of the drama group.
I was a bit unnerved when a tall young man came bustling up and said; ‘Hi and welcome I’m Lawrence. Wow! You will be perfect for the role of Nick. Penelope darling! Well done; your husband will be perfect for the role I have in mind.’
‘Nick?’ I asked, ’I don’t remember a character by the name of Nick in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I read the play last night at home!’
Lawrence smiled and said, ’Don’t worry Norman, the character you have been selected for has an important role to play! I think you will be perfect for the role of Nick Bottom. A very sought after role indeed!’
’BOTTOM!” I exclaimed: “You mean the character with an Asses head. The fool?’
’Norman this is not just any old fool you will be playing here! Bottom is a very important fool. Out of all the panoply of Shakespeare’s fools Bottom is the finest. I think this role could be the start of a well-revered career: Bottom was one of the leading performers in the Mechanicals. I think you will be perfect for this part. Am I not right Penelope darling?’
‘Are you mad? I refuse to get involved with this! Anyway! Who do you think you are calling darling? That’s my wife you are addressing.’ I said, becoming quite annoyed by the sly inferences of this toffee-nosed twit.
’Just a theatrical term lovey. It’s a great pity; Won’t you change your mind? I think you would be perfect for the role; I’m sure you would look exactly right playing the character with an asses head.’
’Clear off!’ I said walking out of the pub. One month later Lawrence and my wife Penelope had set up home together. I swear if I ever wake up from this horrible dream, I will get my revenge. Wait until he finds out that Penelope is part Mexican and suffers from Montezuma’s revenge whenever there is a certain variety of food on the table.
I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Lambs.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by John Yeo
The lake is still at sunset after the wildfowl and the birdlife have gone to roost. Silence replaces the noisy squabbling of the gulls and ducks for food and personal space. Darkness is descending on the shrubs and trees around the banks of the lake as the sun disappears. Nocturnal wildlife will soon be appearing. Owls will be spreading their wings and will be heard hooting in the near trees as they venture out on their hunting forays after dark. Bats can be seen fluttering and searching for insects, using echolocation their powers of ultra-sensitive hearing for guidance. Foxes will soon be on the prowl searching for small mammals in competition with the local neighbourly domestic tomcats who have their own territories to patrol.
It’s lambing time on the farm that borders the lake and Farmer Wrigglesworth and his wife Lilian have been hard at work all day, with their son James. Lambing is hard work and the family has to endure long hours working from dawn to dusk in the lambing sheds. It’s after dark when danger rears its ugly head in the shape of the nocturnal predators that are always on the prowl. There are just a few predators on sheep these days, foxes, badgers, and large predatory birds, mainly from the crow family. Farmer Wrigglesworth is unable to afford to hire a shepherd to look after the sheep at night and it’s too expensive to permanently keep his whole flock in the lambing sheds. There are electric fences around his two fields designed to go some way to keep the predators at bay. Sadly there are always casualties but on balance, the majority of the new lambs survive.
Another threat to the smooth running of his business takes the form of human intervention in the form of animal rights organisations. There had been threats from a group in the vicinity recently and there had been an instance of the electrified fence getting tampered with last year. A man had been shocked and the local police had managed to trace him through the local doctors surgery. There was never any proof, even though he was a member of a certain organisation.
Farmer Wrigglesworth had his own personal views on the meat industry. ‘We work our socks off raising sheep that feed millions of people. The sheep are specially bred to fulfill this function and would never survive in the natural world without our help.’
Dawn broke with a cacophony of bird calls from around the lake. Farmer Wrigglesworth and Tom were up in the early hours in the lambing shed, Tom was expert at helping the ewes give birth. Over the years he had faced many experiences at lambing time and Farmer Wrigglesworth was extremely proud of his veterinary trained son’s expertise. Tom’s iodine stained hands had saved countless lambs and ewes from a painful death.
Farmer Wrigglesworth left Tom in the lambing shed and took a walk to his fields with Shep, his trusty sheepdog.
Shep raced ahead and discovered the grisly remains of two lambs, he was soon barking loudly to alert his master.
The farmer shook his head sadly, ‘Shep I, must take steps to try harder to control these predators next year.’
Later in the farmhouse, Lilian produced a large English breakfast for both men who had been up and about hard at work for hours. There had been another telephone threat from an unidentifiable caller purporting to be from an animal rights group.
‘Tom we are hated by the few and we feed the many. The jury is out and will always be out on the ethics and morality of how we earn our living.’ Sighed Farmer Wrigglesworth,
‘Meanwhile, let’s get going we have our flock to take care of.’
I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Inflation.
Image Courtesy of pixabay.com
by John Yeo
It started as a tiny spark that jumped from the orange flames with a crack that made old Ben jump, as a gleaming ember settled on his hand. Ben, well known as a worthless, no good, lazy member of the parish, was roasting a plump pheasant in the embers of his campfire. Ben cursed volubly and brushed the ember from his hand, causing a large area of his skin to be affected by the burn. Ben ate his meal and as his hand became painful, he made his way to the local surgery where it was cleaned and dressed by the Practice Nurse. ‘How did you manage to do this?’ Nurse Amelia enquired.
Ben thought for a moment and said, ‘Oh! I discovered a fire in the woods and I noticed it was beginning to burn out of control heading for the village. I simply stopped it from spreading.’
Soon after, with a cacophony of sirens, six fire engines from several of the neighboring towns descended on the village. There was indeed a large fire burning out of control in the woods. It seemed to have rekindled itself somehow.
Later in the Pedlars Arms, Robin the landlord and some of his cronies were excitedly discussing the events of the day together.
‘I understand we have a local hero, Poacher Ben discovered a forest fire that was heading towards the village and he single-handedly doused it and saved the lives of us all. Sadly it started up again the emergency services were quick to respond.’
‘Wow! you mean that worthless wretch is a hero.’ said Roger, the local Draper.
‘Yes that’s right,’ continued Robin, ‘I understand Mrs. Peabody has telephoned the local rag and they are sending a reporter to interview him here. Sarah my wife is comforting him and cleaning him up right now to face the Press.’
Ben quickly became a celebrity as he described the fire that he had somehow managed to divert towards the river bank.
The local newspapers had banner headlines. ‘Local hero saves his community.’
A certain wise member of the village was heard to mumble. ‘If it takes just a spark to start a fire that becomes a raging conflagration. It needs but a tiny pin to deflate the inflation of an ego that becomes hugely inflated.’