Monthly Archives: December 2013
It occurs to me that I never properly blogged about this, so here goes. The final ever #WOMBATPICS (neé #SUNDAYPICS) took place at the beginning of this year. The theme – SUPERHEROES. Twenty of Twitter’s finest acted daft for me. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the greatest superteam ever – how many of these idiots do you recognise? Tell me in the comments, and there will be BIG KUDOS for whomsoever correctly identifies the most secret identities.
Naked Health & Safety Girl
The Green Guffer
and her sidekick
The Scarlet Hood
The Giraffe Knight
And finally, who can forget the thrilling comic produced by our own @captain_doodle?
Title: Dancing at Whitsun, 885 words
Author: Michael Wombat
The fiddlers outside the pub struck up “The Nutting Girl”. Gordon bowed, and drew her into a lively stepping dance. Her new white linen dress flowed about her nimble ankles, the green ribbons in her dark hair dancing a lively jig of their own as the couple whirled in happy enjoyment across the village green. As the tune ended, the other couples clapped and laughed, but Gordon took her hands in his and bent to kiss her gently.
“Marry me?” he whispered.
“Yes, oh yes,” said Jeannie eyes moistening. “I’ll always be yours. You have my heart forever, you know that.”
“I know…” he said, hesitantly, “I know too that my unit leaves tomorrow. I have to go. But I will return.” He squeezed her hands, his grey eyes full of promise. “Nothing can stop me being with you. I will return, and we will be married next Whitsun, if you think it not too long a wait?”
“We first met last Whitsuntide,” she smiled “Our special time. Oh, that will be perfect!” She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him full on the lips. The crowd of villagers around them burst into spontaneous applause.
Twenty yards away Mrs. Bickerdike and Mrs. Lowry leaned on the latter’s garden fence, looking out onto the village green, which held a lone figure. They watched Jeannie as she clasped her hands together in delight and nodded joyfully, gazing up at nothing with a huge smile on her wrinkled face. Then, slowly, though there was no music, the old woman moved her feet, treading as gentle a measure as age would allow across the lush grass. Her bare feet were stained as green as the tattered ribbons threaded in her sparse white hair. Her gaunt arms encircled the thin air.
“What’s that old bint faffing about at?” asked Mrs. Lowry. “Is she a bit doolally?”
“Oh aye, you won’t know. This is your first Whitsun here, isn’t it?”
“It is. We flitted in ’90, and we were away in Filey the last couple of years. Why, what’s to do?”
“That there’s Nutting Jeannie,” Mrs. Bickerdike told her, adjusting her pinny across her ample bosom.
“She is nuts then?”
“Nay. Well, aye, happen, but that’s not where she gets that name. If you listen close when she dances you can hear her humming a tune – ‘The Nutting Girl’ it’s called. That’s why folk call her Nutting Jeannie.”
“Never heard of it.”
“Aye, well, it’s an old tune. Sithee, fifty year back there were allus a Whitsun dance on the green. Girls’d get dressed pretty, be-ribbon their hair, and dance with their beaux. Came the war, and all the young men went off to be wasted in battle – husbands and brothers and fathers and sons. And fiancés.”
“Aye, Jeannie’s young man. Their last day together was the Whitsun Dance in 1942, just afore the last few village men went off to do their duty. Her young man – Gideon, I think – announced their engagement in The Royal Oak that evening. Next day he went off and were blown to smithereens in France.”
“Chuffing hell, the poor bugger.”
“Aye. It devastated Jeannie, of course. And you know, she never looked at another man. Oh, her parents tried to get her interested from time to time, but she’d have none of it. She’d given her heart to Gideon, and no bugger else was worthy of it.”
“Poor cow,” decided Mrs. Lowry.
“Aye. Anyroad, every Whitsun since that she’s put that ragged white dress on and danced on the green. Rain or shine, she’ll be there, dancing with her invisible lover. Still doing it now, see? Still waiting for her man to come home again.”
“Definitely doolally, then. Lost her marbles.”
“Mebbe so, but don’t you think it’s dead romantic? Staying faithful to her one true love for half a century?”
“No, I bloody don’t.” Mrs. Lowry sniffed. “God knows how she’s managed all that time without a man to warm her nethers.”
“Aye, well, not everybody’s sex-mad like—oh my God!”
Jeannie had crumpled to the warm ground, and now lay awkwardly. A soft breeze tugged at the ragged hem of her dress, and one scrawny arm moved falteringly in the air.
Mrs. Bickerdike and Mrs. Lowry ran across to her and knelt at her side.
“Jeannie, love, are you alright?”
The old woman looked up at Mrs. Bickerdike, a worried expression on her face.
“Where’s Gordon?” she creaked, her voice like sandpaper on skin.
“I don’t know a Gordon, love.”
“He’ll come,” Jeannie sighed, barely audible now. “He promised. He’ll…”
The wrinkled old lips emitted a gasp, and a horrible rattle. A light left her rheumy eyes, and they stared blankly up at the scudding clouds.
Mrs. Bickerdike gently lowered Jeannie’s eyelids so that the dead eyes were covered.
“She’s gone,” she said, sadly.
Jeannie ignored her. She did not care. She and Gordon were strolling hand-in-hand in Spring sunshine through groves of white blossom, by fields of young corn, to the forest of oak trees at the end of the lane.
It’s currently pissing down outside. Really very heavy rain. Leather hat weather. Wetter than an otter’s pocket. Or in other countries…
Argentina: “It’s raining dung head-first.”
Hong Kong: “Dog poo is falling.”
Denmark: “It’s raining cobbler boys.”
France: “It’s raining like a pissing cow.”
Faroe Islands: “It’s raining pilot whales.”
Finland: “It’s raining as from Esteri’s arse.”
Germany: “It’s raining puppies.”
Greece: “It’s raining chair legs.”
Ireland: “It’s throwing cobblers’ knives.”
The Netherlands: “It’s raining old women.”
Norway: “It’s raining witches.”
Poland, France, Romania: “It’s raining frogs.”
Portugal, Brazil, and other Portuguese-speaking countries: “It’s raining frogs’ beards.”
Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia: “The rain kills the mice.”
Slovakia, Czech Republic: “Tractors are falling.”
South Africa and Namibia: “It’s raining old women with clubs.”
#NuddyChristmas has moved a little more slowly than its predecessors #NuddyBooze, #NuddyFood or #NuddyTeddy, but maybe that’s due to people having family around at Christmas. Those that have joined in have been intelligent and amusing, as usual. Bravo, mes amis.
Quite a few of you have said that privacy to take a pic was a problem, and expressed a wish still to join in. Well, go on then – you’ve got until the New Year. Get yourself tiddly on New Year’s Eve and take a photo in the nip. There’s no better way to celebrate (well, there is, but don’t photograph yourself doing that, for heaven’s sake). Here’s a reminder of the guidelines for…
As usual, the driving force here is FUN, not filth. Do not feel pressured to take part – no one will judge you for avoiding this.
And the ground rules remain the same – no porn (though eroticism is fine), and no posting photos of someone else. Also, there should be something Christmassy in your pic (booze will do!). Other than that, use your imagination and your wit to amuse those assembled when you post your pic on Twitter using the #NuddyChristmas hashtag. If you need ideas, check out the previous three events on the links above and you can follow all the fun HERE http://twubs.com/NuddyChristmas
I’ll gather the pics into a blog to be posted after the event, unless you tell me not to.
What a delightfully twisted mind this author has. These short tales of unease and terror are sharply crafted, and superbly written with a restrained hand that only heightens the sense of unease. If you like your fiction with a twist, then this is the book for you. There are a few typos, which detract a little. I would advise the author to release a second edition correcting these.
– 4 satisfied wombats
“She was, only and always, Kate – that short, honest blade of a name that suited her so well that she had adopted it”. What could be better this holiday than a carefully-plotted tale that twists your emotions, and features strong capable women, intrigue, exotic locations, supremely well-drawn characters and fine prose in which you can bathe your mind? You can’t go wrong with this book.
I took my time reading this because, like the finest of single-malts, the words and sentence structure should be savoured rather than tasted. Do help yourself to the peaty tongue and rounded finish of this book. Don’t add ice.
Five happy wombats for Viennese Waltz.
After the joyful experience of writing Christmas stories for Tales by the Tree (buy it!), I could not resist the invitation to thoroughly besmirch Santa’s reputation for Ruth Long’s Bad Santa Blog Hop 2013. Hope you enjoy the next 494 words.
The pale skin resisted for one tantalising moment before parting under his assault. He dug deeper, searching for the pulsing vein, and grunted his satisfaction as it was pierced. He sucked greedily, and the hot blood coursed down his throat, new and fresh. It flowed easily, spilling from his lips and staining his whiskers. Above the usual iron tang, he could taste cinnamon and sugar. She’d been eating scones.
At most houses, of course, he simply collected the blood. Even his huge belly could not hold the blood of every child in the world. So he stored it, up in the ship – sorry, sleigh – taking a few drops from a slit made under the tongue with his fingernail. The amount taken was not enough to be noticed from a single child. When multiplied by the number of children in the world, however, there was more than enough to sustain him through the year. He drugged them first, of course. It would not do for them to waken during the process. A handful of – well, let’s call it Fairy Dust – ensured that there would be no sudden nightmares for the little darlings.
This child though, oh this child he had not been able to resist. Tired and peckish after a long time-slowed night, he had been slow to sprinkle the Dust. She had been awake when he had arrived, face flooded with delight as Santa appeared in her bedroom, her wide blue eyes twinkling with life and surprise, blonde tresses framing a face full of joy. Her expression hadn’t slipped as he threw himself at her and ripped the nightdress down over her shoulders, exposing her vibrant skin. His teeth ripped at her neck before the beatific smile had left her face.
It never ceased to amaze him, the blithe acceptance by humans of his existence, of his immortality. Their assumption that he was benign and loving. Did they never question how he managed to return, year after year, century after century, never aging? That they fell constantly for the smoke and mirrors of the merry outfit and the cheap gifts spoke volumes for their blinkered idiocy.
A rattling gasp close by his ear told him that she was close to death. Swiftly he drew his nail across his wrist, loosing his own blood. He pushed the girl’s mouth against it. Her lips moved only slightly, sliding weakly against the bloody skin. She was almost gone. He had left it too late.
No, wait. She stirred. She lapped at his blood, then sucked harder to draw more out of him. She was feeling The Thirst. His timing had been exquisite. He twisted his fingers in her hair and tore her away from him. She snarled and tried to bite him. He grabbed a mince pie left out for him, dipped it in her blood and crammed it into her gore-streaked mouth.
“Now, little girl, come with Santa. You’ll enjoy being an ELF. Ho ho ho!”
For a debut novelist, Marissa Ames displays a remarkably assured hand, drawing the reader swiftly into this entrancing tale of high power and low intentions. She creates rounded, believable characters whom you will come to love, and, refreshingly, she is not afraid to put them either through the mill or to the sword. The dangers they face feel real, and rather than wondering how the hero will manage, the reader begins to wonder whether he might not manage at all. The tension as a result is almost palpable at times. The hero, Liam, is a beguiling character, a man caught against his will in the chaotic whirlpool of political manoeuvering that follows the death of a king. His attempts always to act with decency and loyalty seem only doomed to entangle him further in a growing mass of deceit, betrayal and death. You will take him to your heart and worry yourself silly about his fate.
A final word of praise for the book design – the cover, the layout, chapter headers and so on are, as ever when Blue Harvest Creative are involved, superb. I highly recommend getting the paperback, the better to appreciate the work of art that this beautiful book truly is.
Five happy wombats for Minstrel!
Evening! Bit of help, please? I’m considering making available audio versions of my books (well, the fiction at least). Which tale would you rather listen to? The thrilling adventures of talking rabbits, sexy & mysterious derring-do, or steampunky science fiction (which would be shorter and therefore cheaper than the others)? If you could, please let me know using the poll below. I’ll love you forever. Ta.
As regular readers know, I’ve been writing a lot of short stories recently for a swathe of forthcoming anthologies (and one that is already out). This has meant putting 1322 (my sprawling novel of death, sex, mystery, witchery and music in medieval England) on a low simmer at the back of the hob. The hob, you know. The Writing Hob. You know, the big old… it’s a metaphorical hob, OK?
Now, during this break from actually writing the thing, I’ve been able to step back and muse a lot about 1322. The main plot and a couple of subs are all worked out and threaded in, and I’m pretty happy with those. I adore the characters. I’ve rethought a fairly important scene, and decided that it needs completely redoing without all the pervy overtones to which I am prone, being as I am an old perv.
Most of all though, it needs more… flavour. More pzazz. More what-the-fuck? More bugger-me-I-didn’t-see-that-coming. Basically, it needs remaking in 3D. Metaphorical 3D. Which means that it’s likely to be next summer before it finally appears now, but when it does it will be a far better book than if I rushed it to meet my original plan, a February release.
So please continue to bear with me, and read the short stories and let me know what you think of them. Oh, by the way, a central premise of 1322 is inspired by this song by Steeleye Span. Enjoy, although there are some SPOILERS.