Ten years ago today I woke up early to the sound of birds – typical of a Johannesburg spring morning. It hadn’t been the most restful or peaceful of slumbers. When I’d initially dropped off to sleep the night before my brother came and woke me up because there was a moth in his room. Thirteen months of living in deepest, darkest Africa had prepared me for such events and so I swiftly stepped forward and twatted it with a flip flop (the moth rather than my dear brother although I was tempted…).
After that I lay awake for quite a while contemplating the universe as one does in the small hours leading up to your wedding.
As a general rule I tend to shy away from re-posting old stories but for some odd reason this one has been nagging at me for the last couple of days so while I’m busy with some new things I hope to like here’s an old thing I actually do like. As always with these things there’s a little bit of history threading its way through a whole heap of fiction…
“We’re really so sorry Craig. She was an amazing woman.”
“The best of the best.”
“She was so sweet, so gentle. We all loved her.”
“Amy was one of a kind, she didn’t deserve for this to…”
“I broke your pie dish.”
That one simple truth banished the spell of unending platitudes. Caught me off guard. “Sorry, you broke…?”
“The pie dish.” Deb looks at me and makes a circle with her hands. “Round thing. Generally used for the carrying and serving of pies.”
As the more observant amongst you may have deduced from my recent lack of output, I’ve been lacking storytelling inspiration for a little while.
The more cruel / honest amongst you might suggest that the most recent output that preceded said lack of output was also lacking storytelling inspiration but that’s just being mean / honest.
Personally the fact that I’ve already used lack and derivatives thereof approaching half a dozen times already tells it own story (The Lost Chronicles of King Lack and the Amulet of Paucity available in all good imaginary bookshops as well as some rubbish ones).
I’m in a room with mismatched curtains, wooden floors and freshly painted skirting boards. There’s nothing here except for a computer and an office chair on a rug that’s rucked up around the edges. I can’t see what to do…
“Come out! Come out!” screams a voice in my head and then I remember this is real life and not the fucking Crystal Maze and neither Ed Tudor-Pole nor Richard O’Brien can save me however much I beg, plead or wheedle.
Besides, it’s an automatic lock in.
The sky colours in the dark with pink and orange fingers.
Birds chatter their approval in myriad voices growing bolder with each passing minute. Guinea fowl screech from the rooftops, setting the dogs to lend their rumbling bass to the chorus greeting the dawn.
According to the wonderfulness of the world wide interweb, blog etiquette – and by etiquette I mean tricks you can perform to get more readers engaged – dictates that a blog post should end with a question.
There was probably a point to that opening paragraph but then I got distracted by two things.
Firstly, the idea of a blog dictating something conjured up images of a whole bunch of words clustering together to form a likeness of Hitler strutting rage-filled and jack-booted across my perfect word-free (undoubtedly white, possibly blond-haired and blue-eyed) page spouting propaganda.
Secondly, I got to wondering if it would be simpler to just read the last line of every post in a cliched Australian accent so that a question would be implied? Thereby obviating the need to pose an actual question.
Today marks the 25th time that I’ve been fortunate enough to sneak some of my words past the editorial team at Literally Stories. They’ll see through all my limitations one of these days but until then I intend to wallow in the thrill of people I respect enjoying what I have to say.
The new piece is called February. I hope you like it.
“I told him it wasn’t on the menu but he said I should speak to you.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry. He’s been coming here for as long as I can remember.”
Harry Shaw didn’t hear the conversation from the kitchen but he was confident of the outcome. His starter portion of veal tonnato on a Thursday evening was the ballast that held the unravelling of his life firm and steady. He was as much a part of the A Tavola furniture as the black and white shots of spaghetti-eating celebrities that filled most of the walls. For Harry, Thursday nights offered up the perfect mix of ambience and peace. Enough noise for him to bask in the warm, familial murmur of a well run machine but not the overt harshness of a full house weekend.
“Morning old chap.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“Do what Nige?”
“Shorten my name.”
“I apologise. What can I do for you Nigella?”
A little something I wrote while killing time at Cape Town airport this afternoon. Big thanks to Rebecca Field for reminding me of a storytelling construct I’d forgotten about!
Can’t keep track of how many hours I’ve been here but let’s just say it’s been a few. Delays. Excuses so lame no doubt that they aren’t even bothering to communicate them.