Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Birthday surprise

As I sat in the theatre I heard a mobile phone ringing in the empty seat next to me. I slowly looked around. Everyone else was engrossed in the play. It rang again, the light from the screen lighting up most of the balcony section and showing the scowling faces turning towards me. I quickly picked it up and pressed the answer button.

'We have him,' a faint crackly voice whispered. 'If you want him back bring the formula to the warehouse at midnight. Come alone, or else!'

The phone went dead and I slowly looked around me, as I placed it back on the chair. I couldn't concentrate on the rest of the performance. This would show those bastards who had chosen not to come out for my birthday. Apparently a production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller was not their idea of the way someone should spend their fortieth birthday. Well whos bored now?

Whilst I kept an eye out for the occupant of the seat to return I tried to remember what he looked like. There had definitely been someone there when I arrived. He must have been a big man as he had sat with his legs splayed so far apart I had needed to exert a little pressure with my high heels on his foot to get the leg room that came with my seat. Apart from that I couldn't remember anything else about him. I couldn't even remember him leaving but as he was on the end of the row he wouldn't have disturbed anyone


I waited until there was no one else left in the balcony and picked up the 'phone. Maybe the box office could help. Once I was out in the foyer I realised the box office would be closed, so I headed over to a large uniformed gentleman standing by the door. He was wearing an ear piece so must have been some kind of security.

'Hi. Can you help me?'

'What seems to be the problem madam?'

I found this 'phone on the chair next to me and I was wondering if you could help me trace the owner.'

'Don't worry madam. I'll take it and see the owner gets it back.' He took the 'phone, almost snatching it from me and turned to walk away.

'There was a call. I have a message.'

He swung round, grabbed me under the elbow and propelled me to a door marked private. It was then I realised that ear piece seemed very high security for a theatre doorman.


I was left sitting in an office, I assumed the theatre manager's for about twenty minutes when finally the large guy came back. He was followed by a small man in a three piece suit.

'Now miss what is this all about?'

'Do you know the time?' I asked realising it was getting late and the deadline would be fast approaching.

'I am not sure what that has to do with anything.'

'They said they would hurt him if we didn't take the formula to the warehouse by midnight. The person who owns the 'phone is supposed to go alone. We need to find him. Or call the police. Someone's life could be in danger.'

The man stood and left the room leaving the doorman to stand guard. He stood there tall and straight, almost to attention. Not moving an inch. Not making a sound.

'Don't you realise we need to do something. You can't leave me in here. We need to get help.'

The door opened and the smaller man re-entered. I need you to come with me.'

'Where to?'

'If you want to save time just do as youre told.'

I followed him out of the theatre and was pushed into a limousine parked right outside. We drove out of the centre of London, towards Canary Wharf and the old docks. The car pulled up alongside an old warehouse and the driver got out and opened the door for me.

'Where are we? What's going on?'

He grabbed hold of me and dragged me towards the door. I pulled and scrapped my heels against the cobble stones but he was just too strong. He pulled opened the door, pushed me inside and slammed the door behind me. The warehouse was pitch black, no sign of light anywhere. I turned and started beating on the door.

Suddenly I was blinded by the lights as they were all switched on at once.

'Surprise,' loads of voices called at once. 'Happy Birthday!'

I was handed a glass of champagne as all the friends who had been too busy for the theatre rushed round to say hello.

'Bastards,' I smiled raising my glass to salute them.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

How the experts do it - Philip K. Dick

Last week I was struggling to find something to read. Not a mean feat on the basis I own over two hundred books and have a kindle which gives me access to practically every book ever written. After many hours of perusing I finally settled on a collection of Philip K. Dick novels that had been bought as a birthday gift some years ago. I had read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' some years ago and really enjoyed it. That was before I had started to write and I hadn't realised how brilliant it really was.

This time I started 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch' a book which I had never even heard of before. Within the first two pages I was hooked.

Barney Mayerson wakes up, next to a beautiful woman, with no idea how he got there. He doesn't know where he is or even if he is still in the United States. As he gets up he realises that he is still on earth, as the gravity is familiar. The mysterious woman goes for a shower and Barney puts on the coffee machine.

We have been told almost nothing in this scene but we know many things. There is still a United States and apartments that include showers and coffee machines. Therefore we know the setting is familiar, however the fact that we are told he recognises the gravity shows us that there must be some kind of space travel so we are not exactly in the world we recognise. This is Philip K. Dick so it should be sci-fi but even if you didn't know the name you have been shown it in the first page without talk of strange science and aliens.

This is a wonderful example of showing not telling and yet Philip K. Dick was not mentioned once during my recent creative writing course.

Is there anyone else out there who does this as well?

Do writing courses deliberating shy away from examples from genres that aren't considered literary?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Through the eyes of a blind man

Having recently read a post by a biker who was upset by the fact his appearance would make parents steer their children away from him, I was led to consider how different the world would be if we all judged by actions rather than appearances.


As the tattooed accountant of this blog I am aware of the difference reception I will receive depending upon whether people know I am an accountant or see my tattoos as their first impression of me.

I often use this to get a reaction but I know that a certain type of person will avoid me one day and not the next depending upon my appearance. How many times have we heard that the serial killer was considered a nice quiet chap who never caused his neighbours any trouble?


Perhaps we should consider that the person who wears their heart on their sleeve has possibly less to hide than the person who never speaks to the neighbours, or perhaps we should consider that a blind man can see the true person when the majority of prejudices reach the brain through the eyes.  
Do you have any similar experiences?
Let me know when a preconceived prejudice has been proved wrong.

 Jo’s first Anthology – So the Feeling shows is available from Amazon at the links below

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