Monthly Archives: April 2014

It’s A Fact

I did homework last night, for my creative writing course. To illustrate the difference between fact and fiction we had to write one paragraph containing three true facts and one made-up one, and then another with one true fact and three fictional ones. We then had to see if we could tell the facts from the fiction in other students.

Obviously this blog is not going to be very interesting if I simply regurgitate my homework every week for the next eight weeks, but this is the first time I’ve had to do any since 1975, so I’m making an exception here. The one true fact in the second paragraph will actually be known by anyone who’s been reading this blog for a long time, while the three true ones in the first can be determined by, well, anyone with Wikipedia…. 

One Fiction and Three Facts

Fact is indeed stranger than fiction, and people are stranger than both. For example, Admiral Nelson suffered really badly from seasickness, Ozzy Osbourne wrote the lyrics to Cliff Richard’s “Power To All Our Friends”, Lee Harvey Oswald accidently shot himself in 1957, and Beethoven used to pour iced water over his head to stimulate his brain while composing.


One Fact and Three Fictions

I am stranger than even them. At school I once sneezed so hard that I blew out one of my front teeth. I once won Man Of The Match, while playing in goal, in a soccer game in which my team were beaten 14-1. My family once moved home while I was on holiday. I have no eyebrow over my left eye, and never had.

Happy Blogday

My blog is six years old today, and I have decided to get it a birthday present.

It has slowed down in recent times, as the aging tend to do. I would say that it was drifting toward dementia, except that there was always something demented about it anyway.

I have enrolled in an eight-week online Open University course in creative writing. It began yesterday and I arrived into class (logged in) for the first time last night. My short visit (there was football on the telly) was spent filling in a survey about why I was doing the course, and then introducing myself, via the comments box, to my fellow students.

There seem to about four hundred people in my class. It’s going to be hard to become Teacher’s Pet.

The main emphasis of the course is on development of characters. Given the type of story I write my characters usually have as much depth as a puddle, so this will hopefully be a good thing.

As the course progresses we will be expected to submit pieces of writing which the other students and the lecturers can comment upon. The comments I get on my blog tend to be of the “you’re a genius” variety, so I’m not sure how I’m going to handle any that suggest I should be given a conical hat with a big letter D on it and made to stand at the back of the class.

I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m hoping that what I learn will improve my writing, and most of all that it will re-kindle my enthusiasm, take me away from my current mind-set, which is “well, I can’t be expected to write today, it’s a workday”, or “well, I can’t possibly write today, it’s the weekend”. I’m hoping to return to the days where I’d look forward every morning to seeing where the Tinmind was going to take me that day.

I want to have fun again. My blog has given me so much of that fun over the past six years, and that is why I have got it this present.

So Many Happy Returns to my blog, meaning I hope that I return here many times.










Yet Another Birthday Post

Teenagers are magnificent. Funny and fearless, maddening and marvellous, brilliant and bonkers. Tinson2 is a typical teenager. He is laid back, invariably cheerful and can sleep at Olympic level. He is opinionated, and sometimes even right. He is fun to be with, loyal to his friends and well thought of in the part-time job he keeps while he’s at college. He is happy, handsome and infuriatingly tall, since he refused to eat almost everything as a child. Tinson2 is nineteen today. Happy birthday, super son, we love you and are immensely proud of the terrific person that is you.




C’est L’Amour, C’est La Guerre

History took place a long time ago, so it is no surprise that over time certain facts become slightly mixed up. It is widely believed, for example, that Helen of Troy was kidnapped by Paris…

Helen of Paris sat gloomily in her apartment. She had been kidnapped five years earlier and brought to Paris by Troy, who was now her husband. You might think that she’d have refused his hand, irked by a courtship technique that was basically one step up from a caveman with a club, but, she had admitted blushingly to herself, she had been young and Troy had been French, said to be the world’s greatest lovers.

Over time, though, she had become filled with ennui, since there was so little to do. The Louvre, at that time, had only one painting, a picture of a bowl of fruit. Since it had been painted by a Spartan, the bowl contained a single apple. Perè Lachaise was dead. Notre Dame was there, but she had no interest in American Football.

And she had discovered that while the French are indeed said to be the world’s greatest lovers, it is mostly the French who say this.

She gazed disconsolately out of the apartment window. A small patisserie had opened across the street a few years ago, and had become so successful that it had rapidly become a chain, opening a branch on almost every street corner across the city. Indeed, it was often said there was nowhere in Paris from which you couldn’t see The Trifle Tower.

The Greeks had not taken kindly to her kidnapping and had sent an army to rescue her. They had been routed by the French, who had employed their heaviest weaponry – the shrug, the use of the word “pwwwh”, and the look of utter disdain.

Next they had sent a huge horse. It had men in its belly, because it was a really bad-tempered fecker, and the Greeks had hoped that it would stampede through the city spreading fear and copious amounts of horse-droppings.

The French had eaten it.

Eventually Aristotle had come up with a plan. He gave each member of the army a large map, which would not fold properly, and a confused look, as if they were about to ask directions. Faced with the awful prospect of tourists, the Parisians had fled the city, and the Greeks had poured in to rescue Helen.

To her surprise, Helen had found that she did not want to be rescued. She had become used to chic Parisian robes, and to vin that tasted of, well, grapes. She thought back to the demisroussos, the gown the size of a tent worn by Grecian women, and to ouzo, a drink that tasted of lighted fart. Helen had panicked, and had fled the city along with the others.

She ended up in England, where she is now Helen of Barnsley. She met and married the owner of Joe’s Café, and happily works there running it with him.

She is known to the locals as the face that launched a thousand chips.

Burnt Bridges

This was yesterday’s photo prompt for the Flash! Friday challenge…

The Bridge


“Let me get this straight. You told our gang – the ones so dim that you’re regarded as the brains of the outfit – to blow up the bridge exactly at noon, so as to leave the posse stuck on this side?”


“But you didn’t specifically say that this instruction should not apply if, say, we were late?”

“Not specifically, no.”

“I see. Well, if I hold my hand to my ear like this I can hear hoof-beats approaching, so I hope you have another plan.”

“Better than that, I have THE plan.”

“Please tell me you don’t mean the Butch and Sundance plan.”

“The very one. We jump the gorge. Every outlaw knows the story of how Butch and Sundance were trapped like we are now, and jumped a gorge to escape.”


“Almost every outlaw knows?”

“No, almost jumped the gorge. That’s why they were called the Hole in the Wall gang.”


Where The Sun Don’t Shine

You’ll all be thrilled to learn that I’ve found another flash fiction challenge. This one is called VisDare, and we’d to write 150 words to the challenge (from this source) below…

 On a chain around her neck Ythyl Mermaid carried the key to Davy Jones’ locker, which had sunk gently to land outside her cave after Davy had discovered by the empirical method that a pirate hat provides surprisingly little protection against a cannonball. In it she kept shampoos, conditioners and even a GHD hair-straightener, which admittedly might have worked better had she had anywhere to plug it in.

Still her hair looked like the bush that other people sometimes look as if they’ve been dragged through.

Her skin was cracked – seriously cracked. And anyone who’s ever looked at their fingertips after a long bath will not be surprised to learn that her face was as wrinkled as a concertina that’s spent two years trapped down the back of a sofa.

Yet she was not short of suitors. The aquaphibians from Stingray reckoned that she was a bit of a looker.

Eternal Flame

This was the photo prompt for today’s Flash! Friday challenge – 140-160 words, and we had to incorporate friendship…

Fire Eaters

His flame went higher, because boys are like that. It was the pyrotechnic equivalent of seeing who could pee furthest out into the snow.

It spoilt the synchronicity of the act – hers formed the perfect mushroom she’d been trying to achieve, his looked as if a dragon had just eaten a chilli burrito. They couldn’t even wear matching outfits, because he kept forgetting not to bow to audience applause before he’d finished blowing off.

That’s why he wore a flame-retardant loincloth. There are limits to how much you should be willing to suffer for your art.

Ambition told her to go solo, or to find another co-performer whose lifelong dream was to spit burning oil through a gap in their teeth, but loyalty told her otherwise.

They were melded, more firmly than soldered iron, by their years on the road together.

He might sometimes scorch the hairs off his chest, but it was her heart he set on fire.

August Personages

Months have lives. They have a beginning and an end and, just as with humans, if they feel that they have unfinished business, they become ghosts.

There is, for example, the March Hare, plaintively begging tortoises, snails, even garden gnomes to race against him, trying to right some perceived ancient wrong.

There is the May Flower, haunting garden centres hoping that one day someone will buy one of those small plastic packets of seeds and find that something actually grows as a result.

There is also June Isbustinoutallover, who haunts the bra of a large-chested lady in Oklahoma, though only because she fell into her cleavage one day and hasn’t been able to get out.

And there is July Andrews, a ghostly nun who haunts Alpine villages trying to get the residents to dress their children in Laura Ashley wallpaper.

And then there is the April Fool.

Legend has it that he was a happy-go-lucky type of person, who unfortunately took the phrase “April showers” too literally. One April 1st he went out – in Ireland – carrying only one of those tiny umbrellas that look like a black pudding and are about as useful in keeping rain off.

He returned home ten minutes later with his umbrella inside out, his shoes full of water and the beginnings of a heavy cold. Then, just as he stuck his metal key into the metal front-door lock, he was struck by lightning.

Conventional wisdom tells us that one of two outcomes might have resulted. He could have ended up with superpowers, perhaps as a Rain God. Or, and this is what actually happened, the lightning might have caused his mobile phone to explode. In his trousers pocket.

So now he travels the earth, whispering warnings to the over-optimistic. He is the voice in your head that tells you not to give your bank details to Nigerian princesses, not to try to light your farts, not to go to see Die Hard 5. He is the voice that saves you from yourself.

Trust me on this.