I hear what you’re saying, my sweet,
And you know that I’m not one to bleat,
But the barbie needs lighting,
So put down your writing.
We’ve been here for hours – let’s eat

You told us way back in September,
And yes, we all said we’d remember
That thing that you do
Is important to you
And you’re busy for most of November.

So why did you invite your friend
A ‘convivial’ evening to spend?
But I’ll tell you what,
You read out what you’ve got.
And we’ll comment on what you have penned.

Before you attempt us to thrill,
Can you please put a match to the grill?
If I don’t eat soon
I’ll be starting to swoon.
Already I’m feeling quite ill.

What’s that? You’re insisting that first
I bring you some wine for your thirst?
Let me tell you, my love,
That idea you can shove.
And what’s more, you can do it cork first!

Just read us the last page, okay?
And I’ll open some Cabernet.
Then put down your book
While I start to cook.
By the way, are you sure LJ is gay?

I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 196, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

Kreative Kue 196

Kreative Kue 195 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Wager by John W. Howell © 2018

“Let me buy you a drink, my man.”

“That is very nice of you given the circumstances.”

“Ah what the heck. Life is too short.”

“But it seems like one would feel a little remorse.”

“Remorse? For what?”

“Well, it seems like a pretty goodly amount of money.”

“Yeah, but you know what they say, ‘easy come, easy go.”’

“I know if it were me, I don’t think I would take it so well.”

“You have to remember who suggested the wager.”

“That’s true. I guess if you hadn’t prepared yourself to lose you never would have suggested going title to title on a boat race.”

“That part is true. You see I really had not too much to lose.”

“What are you talking about? That is a gorgeous five-masted schooner.”

“You know the old saying, ‘one mans trash, another man’s treasure.”‘

“Yeah, I’ve heard that.”

“See, I have been trying to sell that tub for over two years with no takers.”

“That is surprising. It is a classic.”

“Yes, it is. Loaded with barnacles and filled with woodworms.”

“So you are saying you are glad to get rid of it.”

“You tell me. The last salvage estimate I got was over a million.”

“Someone would pay you a million?”

“No, I would have to pay a million to get rid of it. Now, how about that drink?”

“Now it is my problem.”

“Yup and at a leakage rate of one hundred gallons an hour, I think you better figure out what to do with it. Those pumps are pretty old. Maybe tow it beyond the shelf and scuttle it.”

“Gin on the rocks.”

Meanwhile, my effort was:


A sailor from Trincomalee
Set off for adventure at sea,
He sat in the poop
Of a three-masted sloop
With his two mates, Abdullah and Lee.

“We’re making sail for the Antilles,”
Said the captain, which gave Lee the willies.
“We’ll be in good shape
If we go round the cape.”
Does he think we’re a bunch of hillbillies?

They first passed the Cape of Good Hope
Where they were all blessed by the Pope;
But all his best wishes
Won’t wash any dishes
For that you need water… and soap.

They crossed the Atlantic at last,
After many long days they had passed
Eating off dirty plates
And fighting with mates
Till the loser was tied to the mast.

They then tried to make it a race
With a clipper going to the same place.
“We won’t be as fast
With one fewer mast”
Said Abdullah – he of the long face.

Their expressions could not have been blanker
When they saw the damned clipper at anchor.
“The *!#s must have cheated!”
The captain expleted,
“Either that, or their skipper’s a highly skilled navigator, more than worthy of his commission.”

On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.3

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter nine, part three

Although we’d agreed that Sophie didn’t mean everything she had said that night, we accepted that there’s no smoke without fire, and even if her reaction was more extreme than it would normally have been, that she said the things she did, signalled to me that these were things that concerned her. That meant that they had to be addressed.

I spoke to Emily (you’ll remember that she is head of HR at Knight Global Trading) and let her know that I would be working exclusively from home from then on, and gave her a list of things I would need from the office to help me. Since before David was born, I had been sharing a PA with Emily, an arrangement that she didn’t feel could work if I weren’t physically there. The only use I had for a PA was to maintain my diary and act as my gatekeeper – never a full-time job anyway – so we compromised. We would have a VOIP telephone installed in my office at Knight Towers. This to be configured as an extension on the KGT switchboard (don’t ask me how, I make the decisions, bigger brains than mine figure out how to make it work), Alan, Emily’s PA, could continue to look after my diary and still act as my telephone and email gatekeeper; I didn’t think I’d need a physical gatekeeper, as Knight Towers is, compared to the central London office, somewhat remote.

We had read thoroughly, all the literature that Dr Lockhart gave to Sophie, and studied the websites. We now have a good understanding of what is happening to Sophie and why, and what steps she can take, and I can take with her, to help alleviate it. What I didn’t find, though, is any advice as to how I should deal with it, how I should react when she’s in a bad mood and taking it out on me – I know she never meant to, that it was all caused by hormone imbalance; but was I supposed to just stand there like a punching bag? Or would that have annoyed her more? Should I have fought back? Or tried reasoning with her, which hadn’t helped so far. The only thing I found that was at all helpful was the old adage, attributed to medieval Persian Sufi poets, “This, too, shall pass”. But that still didn’t tell me whether I should have taken it on the chin (and be criticised for not being a man), reasoned with her (and be criticised for patronising her), fought back (and inflamed the situation) or simply taken my leave (yeah, like that would have helped). The thing was, there was no point asking calm-Sophie what I should do because she wasn’t in control when these things struck. I decided to play it by ear, and just try to be understanding and supportive. She was going through a bad time, and all I was being asked to do was to accompany her.

I tried that for a while and eventually learned that it was easier to roll with the punches, which also had the advantage of, if not shortening, then at least not extending the length of the arguments. Ultimately, I chose to accept being pilloried as a coward, a mouse, less than a man, rather than risk getting into a slanging match worthy of a Presidential debate. It was hard, but realising that the whole business was harder for Sophie than it could ever be for me helped me to keep it in perspective. The most difficult job was explaining to a five-year-old why his Mummy keeps on getting in a bad mood with him, and convincing him that it wasn’t anybody’s fault; not mine, and certainly not his. Eventually, he accepted that, or appeared to, and put on a brave face of dealing with it with equanimity, following his father’s example. I knew for a fact, though, that the number of nights he cried himself to sleep was greater than the number of nights he didn’t – and that’s what was eating me up.

Over the following months, though, things slowly improved. Whether it was down to the changes in diet that one study recommended, to the combination of relaxation exercises and increased physical activity (who knew badminton could be such fun?), to the herbal supplements that Dr Lockhart suggested, or to a cunning mix of all three, I neither knew nor cared. From her point of view, Sophie was more at peace with herself and gradually enjoying life more; from David’s and my point of view, she was nicer and more predictable to live with, more like the old Sophie that we loved so much.

Yes, she still had mood swings, but less frequently and significantly less severe. She was also having to put up with other symptoms of this time of her life – hot flushes, night sweats, memory lapses and so on. There is something basically unfair about life, that in the middle of her life, when she should be at her most settled, a woman has to put up with all this, when a man’s mid-life crisis is often limited to the wearing of gaudy golf trousers and jumpers, and driving a red sports car. Oh yes, and some chase after younger women, but the least said about that, the better, eh?