Monthly Archives: October 2013

CWC – discovering the champion of chocolate bars

Amazingly to this observer, Twirl beat Picnic last night. You daft a’porths. Twirl will now play Double Decker, which made Yorkie eat a mighty big mouthful of dirt. Ha ha ha – see what I did? Galaxy beat Chocolate Orange bar, as expected, and now meet… WHAT? MILKY WAY BEAT CHOCOLATE WITH SEASALT? YOU IDIOTS!

Below you can vote for the final four Round 1 matches.

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CWC Round 1 continues

cadbury-flake-girlSo, Milka won last night’s Battle of the Boring Bars, and goes on to meet sexy Flake, easy winner over Topic (“What has a hazelnut in every bite?”). Snickers (nee Marathon) stuffed Milky Bar, and now meets Toblerone who crushed Lion Bar. Mmmm, crushed Lion Bar….

Here are four more matches for you to vote on. Which is your favourite? Oh, and if you’re good then tomorrow I will post a wallchart on which you can keep track of Chocolate World Cup.

Chocoate World Cup Round 1 continues…

indexLast night’s games saw an expected victory for Ripple over the weedy Time Out, and it goes on to meet Twix in Round 2, victor by a surprising margin over the much-fancied Aero.

Also meeting in Round 2 will be Crunchie and Toffee Crisp, who beat sexy Caramel and boring Boost respectively.

Vote now below in four more Round 1 matches, including the clash of knobbly chocs, Toblerone v Lion Bar.

Chocolate World Cup Round 1

TwixHere’s the draw for the first round matches of the Chocolate World Cup. There are some cracking matches, for example Toblerone v Lion Bar. There are also some boring ones, e.g. Milka v Bourneville. Let’s all hope Seasalt Chocolate wins, eh?

Time Out v Ripple, Aero v Twix, Caramel v Crunchie, Boost v Toffee Crisp, Milka v Bourneville, Flake v Topic, Snickers v Milky Bar, Toblerone v Lion Bar, Twirl v Picnic, Double Decker v Yorkie, Galaxy v Terry’s Choc Orange bar, Chocolate w. Seasalt v Milky Way, Kit Kat v Fudge, Curly Wurly v Mars, Wispa v Dairy Milk, Bounty v Drifter.

You can vote on the first four matches below. You have ONE DAY to help your favourite through. Get stuck in, choc lovers.

Chocolate World Cup playoff – The People’s Choice

As you’ll see if you look back, the winner of the “Flavoured Chocolate” playoff was Seasalt (YAY!). We’re almost ready for the draw for the Finals themselves – you have just one more qualifier to choose. This entry will be decided from those bars nominated by you, the fans. Vote at the bottom of this post. You can vote for more than one option. Here are the other entries:

file2501305995650> 1) Aero
> 2) Wispa
> 3) Milka
> 4) KitKat
> 5) Dairy Milk
> 6) Galaxy
> 7) Ripple
> 8) Bournville
> 9) Crunchie
> 10) Snickers
> 11) Twirl
> 12) Twix
> 13) Mars
> 14) Caramel
> 15) Toblerone
> 16) Flake
> 17) Double Decker
> 18) Yorkie
> 19) Time Out
> 20) Milky Bar
> 21) Lion Bar
> 22) Boost
> 23) Toffee Crisp
> 24) Picnic
> 25) Bounty
> 26) Milky Way
> 27) Terry’s Chocolate Orange bar
> 28) Drifter
> 29) Topic
> 30) Curly Wurly
> 31) Qualifier 1 – chocolate with seasalt.
> 32) Qualifier 2 – to be decided by the playoff vote below.

Twanta 2013

twantaTWANTA BABY! 

Briefly for newcomers, during Twanta you send a cheap but fun gift to someone I nominate for you, and then you receive a similar pressie from someone else. I’ll explain more fully later. TWitter sANTA, see?

It’ll soon be time to kick off #TWANTA2013 (yes, that will be our hashtag). Last year’s was a TREEmendous success (see what I did there? No? Please yourselves), and mended my spirit which had been slightly dented by this kerfuffle two years ago. (yeah, click on that sentence to see the kerfuffle). I’d also like to remind you of this blog post from @davidtims, though, which will tell you all that’s good about Twanta.

TWANTA brings a shedload of fun and happiness to those who take part. However, please only ask to join in if you’re absolutely sure that you fancy buying a cheap gift to send to (possibly) a stranger, and to receive one in return. If you like the sound of that, follow the #TWANTA account @twanta2013 and let me know there that you want to join in. (You could also just let me know on my usual account, @wombat37, obviously). Look out for announcements on @twanta2013 in the next week or two to kick the whole thing off.

A Christmas Gift

A third short story written for ‘A Merry Minion Christmas’, an anthology of Christmas-themed short stories coming to your eyes soon.

Author Michael Wombat

eBook Yes

Dedication To Marissa, my unwitting inspiration for this tale.

image

My Own Edith,

I don’t know how properly to start this letter. The circumstances are different from any under which I ever wrote before. I won’t post it for now but will keep it in my pocket. I write these words on Boxing Day. I never imagined, when this damned war began, that I would still be separated from my sweetheart at Christmas. I miss your voice, your smiling eyes.

We go over the top soon. If the worst happens perhaps someone will post this. If I survive, I will post it to you myself with kisses added. Lieutenant Reith should by rights censor our letters, but I’m told that he hasn’t the heart for it, and I’m hopeful that it will one day reach you intact.

I have your latest letter here; a ray of light in a filthy world. I’m very glad to discover that you appreciate Cornish pasties. So do I, and often eat a hot one when on my way back from town. Can you fancy me climbing the hill, cane in one hand and a hot pasty in the other? Quite a study for one of your snapshots! I look forward to a lifetime finding out more things about you.

Thank you for the socks. They were most welcome. You cannot imagine how awful are the conditions here. The freezing trench is filled with mud, ordure to the knees, worse things that I cannot describe to a lady. One pair of socks kept my feet warm as intended, while the second served well as gloves as I stood watch on Christmas Eve.

I was on the firing step, trying to keep warm, listening to Ames’ gramophone recording of “Roses of Picardy” playing repeatedly. When it ended for the hundredth time, I heard other music in the frosty air. I heard singing from the Hun lines: “Stille Nacht”. Keeping low, I glanced over. There were lighted candles along the lip of the Hun trench, exceedingly pretty in the frosty night. As the carol ended a guttural cry went up.

“English soldier! English soldier! A merry Christmas!”

The Bosche were calling to us. I could not help myself, and answered.

Glücklich Weihnachten to you too, Fritz!” I shouted, hoping my schoolboy German was correct.

“You sing now, Tommy!” one of them laughed, and sing we did. Through the night we exchanged songs, then came the dawn, pencilling the sky with grey and pink, heralding another day of pointless slaughter.

I peered over the wall, my hand gripping my rifle, and my eyes widened. Some ten feet above no-man’s land hovered a strange glowing light, bright in the approaching dawn. It twinkled and shone. No flare this, for it hung motionless, a pure radiance. I reminded me of, well, a star.

You must understand, darling, what living with constant death and dismemberment does to a man. It makes him to fear nothing if he knows that at any moment he may be blown to smithereens. I laid down my rifle and set my foot on the wooden ladder.

“Private Fulton, do not respond!” hissed Lieutenant Reith, “It’s a Bosche trick!”

I ignored Lieutenant Reith and clambered out of the trench. I stumbled over the rutted mud towards the beautiful light. As I reached it, it faded and disappeared and I looked down in disappointment. In a crater at my feet lay perhaps a dozen dead Germans. I then realised one of them was moving, and moaning softly.

“Tommy! Merry Christmas! We come to meet the brave man who greets us! We have wine! Will you share with us?” I looked up to see four Hun walking nervously towards me, arms out, carrying bottles. They were smiling broadly. Were these the savage, brutal barbarians that we had been told about?

“You have a wounded man here!” I beckoned to the approaching Saxons, “Schnell! Schnell!

The Germans hurried to carry to safety their wounded comrade, one Otto Dix apparently. I do hope he survives. Soldiers from both sides wandered out to join us and we commenced to talk, to laugh. The Germans were not at all evil. They were very decent chaps.

We exchanged cigarettes, chocolate, wine and stories. I showed one man your photograph. He declared you ‘zehr schöne’. He showed me a picture of his three young children, all of them with dark curls and happy smiles. We looked forward to a time when we could embrace our loved ones again.

All Christmas Day we relaxed, conversing and singing together, comrades in an unofficial truce and united in hatred for this bloody war. We wrote our names and addresses on field service postcards, and exchanged them for Bosche ones. We cut buttons off our coats and took in exchange the Imperial Arms of Germany. But our gift of gifts was Christmas pudding. The sight of it made the Germans’ eyes grow wide with hungry wonder, and at the first bite they were our friends for ever.

At eight, Lieutenant Reith fired three shots in the air, put up a flag with ‘Merry Christmas’ on it, and climbed on the high parapet. The Bosche raised a sheet with ‘Danke’, and the German Captain appeared also. These two bowed, saluted, then dropped into their respective trenches. The Hun fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.

I don’t think I will ever—

It is with real sorrow that I must add to this letter some very bad news about your fiancé, Private Michael Fulton. He played a very gallant part in the attack on the German position made by this regiment on 26th December, 1914. He helped his company commander to a place of safety after the former was wounded, but in doing so was hit by a shell fragment and died immediately. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. Everyone thought so much of him, and admired his fine sturdy character and unfailing cheerfulness.

He it was that led us to maintain the truce described above, and for the gift of peace he gave them on Christmas Day scores of men will be eternally grateful. Let pride then be mingled with your tears. May God comfort and console you.

Lt. John Reith, 8th King’s Own Regt., BEF


To see the other stories that have been published for this collection, click here:

Chocolate Bar World Cup Preview – and first playoff

Thanks to sterling world-wide scouting by @captain_doodle we have 29 potential entrants for the forthcoming Chocbar World Cup. In this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world there are millions of chocolate products, so we have had to establish the following qualifying criteria (otherwise we’d have entrants like this Lemon Meringue chocolate bar) – the bar must be a bar, and it must be fairly well-known

Use these as a talking point – which have we missed? And which shouldn’t be here?

1) Aero, 2) Wispa, 3) KitKat, 4) Milk Chocolate (e.g. Dairy Milk, Yorkie), 5) Ripple, 6) Plain Chocolate (e.g. Bournville), 7) Crunchie, 8) Snickers which should be Marathon, 9) Twirl, 10) Twix, 11) Mars, 12) Caramel, 13) Toblerone, 14) Flake, 15) Double Decker, 16) Time Out, 17) Milky Bar, 18) Lion Bar, 19) Boost, 20) Toffee Crisp, 21) Picnic, 22) Bounty, 23) Milky Way, 24) Terry’s Chocolate Orange bar, 25) Drifter, 26) Creme egg bar, 27) Topic, 28) Curly Wurly, 29) Hersheys

Being perceptive, you will immediately see that the list is three short of the required number of 32 entrants. I hope you’ll be able to fill those places, and we shall also have playoffs for at least one of them. For example, I’ll allow one oddly flavoured chocolate bar into the finals. Here, right now, is the poll to decide which flavour that will be. VOTE WISELY!

Disqualified for not being a bar: Maltesers, Rolo , Smarties, M&Ms, Minstrels, Munchies, Buttons, Aero Bubbles, Magic Stars, After Eights, Crispello.

Disqualified for being a horrible orange material that looks like it should be terrorising people in Dr. Who: Caramac.

Disqualified for being mostly a biscuit even though it’s gorgeous: them Disco bars from Aldi.

Nativity

A short story written for A Merry Minion Christmas, an anthology coming to your eyes soon.

Author Michael Wombat, eBook Yes, Dedication To all the splendid writers contained herein. I am honoured to be in your company.

xxx

Miss Brightsmith smiled happily. This year’s nativity play was going extremely well, a stark contrast to last year’s disaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong last year. The baby Jesus losing his head, which rolled into the front row of the audience. The innkeeper saying to Mary and Joseph “Yes, come in, there’s plenty of room.” Worst of all, the Archangel suddenly getting severe stage fright and weeing himself before sitting down in the puddle and bawling his eyes out.

This year, however, the children were doing her proud. Kara James was word perfect as Mary, and her brother Ethan’s Joseph, though snotty, was performing with a bravado that made the audience of indulgent Mums and Dads chuckle.

This year Miss Brightsmith had, for once, decided to take a seat in the audience rather than standing fretting in the wings, and it was paying dividends. Much of the tension was lifted out here among the smiling, Christmas-spirited adults perched awkwardly on chairs that were just too small. Here she was able to appreciate the play for what it was; a joyful slice of Christmas fun presented by five-year-olds, rather than a professional production that had to be word-perfect.

“And lo a mighty star…” announced Lisa Shambrook, projecting her voice just as Miss Brightsmith had taught her. This was just perfect. As the youthful voices joined to sing ‘Away in a Manger’, she looked about her. Most of the audience was beaming, eyes moist as their offspring sang to them the same song that they too had sung for their own parents decades ago.

Now that the play was nearing its end, several of the smallest children were becoming tired or bored. Shepherds fiddled with their trousers, stars waved to their mummies and sheep picked their noses. There only remained the crowning moment when the Archangel appears to bless everyone and to prompt the singing of the final carol. Following last year’s disaster, Miss Brightsmith had decided to try something different this time. She had built a fairly high platform to the rear of the stage, unobtrusive until lit by a single spotlight. She had chosen the brightest boy in her class, the eager and enthusiastic Caleb Walker, as her Archangel. He had listened intently as she instructed him how to carefully climb the steps and step into the spotlight right on clue. She had impressed upon him the importance of his role, and he was determined to present the Archangel properly.

“Don’t worry, Miss. I won’t let you down,” he had piped cheerily. “My Mam always says the show must go on.”

“You should always listen to your Mam,” she had smiled. “Be careful not to let go of the handrail when you’re on the platform.”

“I won’t, Miss. I know the angel’s important, and I know what to do. I’m not nervous or anything. The show must go on.”

Caleb’s moment had arrived. Right on cue, he appeared behind and above the assorted children on the stage. The audience gasped. The new arrangement had worked better than Miss Brightsmith could have dreamed. The Archangel seemed to materialise out of thin air, and he looked ethereal and translucent, glowing with light. His paper wings wafted gently, looking almost real. Caleb spoke his line with a meaning and conviction that belied his age.

“Joy to all here assembled! May everyone find true happiness and love through all their life. Harken to the heralds of peace!”

Everyone in the school hall joined in a rousing rendition of ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ as Caleb faded out of the spotlight and the hall lights came up. An enthusiastic round of applause filled the hall as the song ended. Afterwards, parents sought her out and congratulated her on the wonderful production.

“Miss Brightsmith?”

She turned round, beaming, ready to accept more praise, but her face adopted a puzzled expression when she saw that the man who had spoken was a serious-faced police constable, his hat gripped in his left hand.

“Yes?” she raised her eyebrows, “Can I help you?”

“It’s about Caleb Walker, I’m afraid.”

“Really? I can’t imagine why you’d be interested in him. He’s one of the good ones, never any trouble.. He’ll be getting changed right now. I’ll see if I can find him for you.”

“I’m sorry,” the constable laid a gentle hand on her arm. “Your Headmistress was supposed to have told you already, but apparently there was some sort of mix-up with the secretary not passing on a message. The Head only discovered that you hadn’t heard a short time ago, when I arrived to make certain arrangements. Since I am trained in such matters, I offered to tell you the news myself.”

“I don’t understand.”

“My apologies, I’ll speak plainly. Caleb Walker was run down by a hit-and-run driver on his way to school this morning, and suffered massive head injuries. He was rushed to hospital, where the doctors did everything they could, but I am afraid he died from those injuries at about eight-thirty this morning.”

“But—”

“I’m sorry that you weren’t told. You must have been worried when he didn’t turn up.”

“I thought… I think he might have.”

“Hmmm,” the constable nodded, his expression a mix of confusion and concern, possibly for her state of mind. “I see that you managed to find a stand-in for your angel, anyway. The show must go on, eh?”

“Yes, yes. Bless him, Caleb was always determined that the show must go on.”


To see the other stories that have been published for this collection, click here:

“Ursa Minor” by Kanute, it will grab you by the metaphoricals

Dscf0887From the moment that Rachael Gray’s ethereal vocal slides in over the hypnotic rhythm of Waking Up In California, this album worms its way into your ear and threads itself ineluctably into your heart. Kanute’s ‘difficult’ second album builds superbly on their critically-acclaimed (by me) “Standing Room Only”. Rob Overseer’s steady hand on the tiller ensures that rhythms never pall, pace never slackens, quality never drops.

While it is invidious to pick out a few tracks from this consistently entertaining selection, I’ll just mention a few of my favourites. I defy anyone to remain completely still during “Bodies” or “Fingerprints”, and Rachael lends a breathy quality to her vocal on the title track itself which simply melts the heart. The stand out track for me though, at least on first listen, is ‘Hurricane’. The track has an unusual feel that grabs you by the metaphorical balls. It will hypnotise you, and had me dancing round the settee and waving my arms in the air like an eejit by the time it had finished. Much to the amusement of my daughter, I might add. Oh, and the two-part Sunlight that closes the album will haunt you for years to come.

This is glorious music. Let it worm its way into your ear.

 

wombicon[30]“Ursa Minor” gets FIVE Happy Wombatsclick here to visit the Kanute website, from where you will be able to buy “Ursa Minor” soon.

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