Monthly Archives: February 2015

We’re Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly


This is another story based on the above Flash! Friday photo, which had to be set on the Moon…


It’s not easy being married to someone who works nights.

Mrs Moon had known that, but had given up her life as a Siren to marry the Man in the Moon anyway. To her it was simple – she was in love. How could she not be – he was a wonderful soul devoted to making life more beautiful for the people below. She loved to watch as his artist’s hands skilfully moved the moon’s light along a range of shades, everything from scythe-narrow crescent to full, werewolf-waking brightness.

And she watched as he made the moon wax and wane, though she had no idea what either of those words meant.

And she watched him tire. She saw how Jupiter had twelve moons, with twelve Men to share the load, while he toiled alone, night after night after night.

So she came up with a plan. He argued against it, but she was a Siren, and could pretty well make men do what she wanted. Besides, he loved her, so would have ended up doing it anyway.

So tonight he used those brilliant hands to move, nudge, inch the moon sideways, forwards, until it was directly in eclipse behind the sun.

They’ve gone to Finland, with its six months of daylight.


Wish You Were Here


This photo was the prompt for today’s Flash! Friday challenge, and the setting had to be the Moon…


Dear kids

Holiday of a lifetime my bum, excuse my Moonish.

To begin with, we shouldn’t have flown Ryanair.

Their so-called Moon flight actually lands on an asteroid two hundred miles away, and we had to space-walk the rest of the way. Your Dad was sick, which is no joke when you’re wearing a spacesuit.

On the bright side, it hasn’t rained once. In fact I’m not sure it ever does – the Sea of Tranquillity has no water in it, and apparently Moon River is just the name of a song.

But there is no atmosphere at all. We went to visit the moon landing site, and it’s dead dull. There’s just a flag hanging there, there’s no souvenir shop, and not even a guy offering to take photos of the tourists, which makes me wonder who took the pictures of Armstrong when he was coming down the ladder.

Your Dad plays golf all the time, because he can hit the ball miles, so I spend most of my time moon-walking, and not in a Michael Jackson type of way.

Next year we’re going back to Majorca. They can stick the Moon where the sun don’t shine.


A Horse With No Name

From BBC’s 10 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week comes the news that “traditionally, police horses in England’s Thames Valley force can be called Odin, Thor or Hercules, but not Brian”….


The year was 1827, and the newly-formed Thames Valley Horse Force, designed to work in hand-in-hoof with the human police, was swearing in its first recruits.

Chief Constable Odin looked proudly along the line of magnificently built, magnificently-named beasts – names like Thor, Hercules, Zeus, Tarzan.

And one other. Odin stared in surprise at the list in front of him. Oh, well, he thought, perhaps it’s a misprint.

“Brain?” he said hopefully.

“It’s Brian, sir,” said a voice at the end of the line. Odin walked – sorry, proceeded, he was a police horse, after all – to the end of the line and looked down his nose at Brian.

In fairness to Odin, he had no other way of looking at him. Brian was a Shetland pony, and was three feet tall.

There had been no height restriction put into the recruitment posters. Nobody had thought they would need one, they had never considered that someone looking like R2D2 on all fours would be interested in joining.

And it quickly seemed that Brian had made a really bad mistake. Policemen refused to ride him because their heels dragged along the ground as they patrolled. Villains would evade his pursuit by grabbing him by the front hooves and swinging him out into the Thames.

His work-mates used to hang him up by his nose-bag.

Then one evening came some really exciting news. The Princess was due to give birth. Her carriage was going to bring her to St Bart’s Hospital, and the Force were going to escort her along the Mall.

They lined up outside Buckingham Palace. Then Odin spoke.

“Here she comes,” he said.

“I can’t see anything,” said Brian from the end of the line.

Thor sniggered, but seeing Odin glaring at him tried to turn it into a whinny. The result was a shot of snot that slapped noisily against the rump of a passing cart-horse, who bolted, spilling the apples from his cart onto the road. Another horse stepped on these and shed his load of bananas. A human slipped on one of those and fell, dragging over a box full of chickens. A truck then reversed out into the middle of all of this, because that always happens.

Within seconds the road was full of fruit and horse-droppings, like a giant bowl of muesli. The Mall was completely blocked.

A loud yell came from inside the Royal carriage.

“The Princess is going into labour!” said Odin. “We have to do something.”

“I’ll get some hot water and towels,” said Hercules.

“Um, that’s not really what I had in mind,” said Odin.

“I could carry her, sir,” said Brian. “I could pick my way through.”

“Are you sure?” said Odin.

Brian drew himself up to his full height.

“It’s my duty, sir,” he said.

The Princess was placed upon Brian’s back and he set off into the melee. He slipped between wheels. He crept under carts. He skirted around skirts.

Then a tired cart-owner sat down, straight in front of him.

“Neigh!” shouted Brian. “No!”

Startled, the man leapt out of his way. Brian continued his way down the street, shouting “neigh, no” whenever anyone stepped into his path.

He reached the end of the Mall, then stopped in horror. A cart had over-turned, completely blocking the road.

He took a deep breath, raised himself up onto his hind legs, then charged. The Princess covered her face with her skirt, though not intentionally.

He leapt at the last second, rode the sky for a glorious moment, and cleared the cart.

He continued the last few miles to hospital, and collapsed, exhausted, at the base of its steps.

The Princess climbed off him and started up towards the door, then turned, picked him up under one arm, and brought him in with her.

He had accomplished his mission, though it was to be his final one.

Because the Princess gave birth to a girl who, as little girls tend to do, asked for a pony with virtually her first words. There could only be one possible candidate.

And the Princess decreed that no future police horse could be called Brian, no matter how tall, no matter how magnificent.

Because they’d never be able to fill his shoes.


Kenya kittens by Kerri Lee Smith

Kenya kittens by Kerri Lee Smith

Sometimes when I’m halfway through a Flash Friday story I get an idea for a different one, so this was another story that I did for yesterday’s challenge…


For years Tinnius Mannius had been the star of the Coliseum, but over the past few months it had all gone wrong.

The Roman Empire was crumbling, as the people realised that they were, in fact, Italians, and had swapped conquest, Latin and the denarius for pasta, opera and, rather disastrously, the lira. Faced with economic ruin, Caesar had replaced the lions with cats.

You might think that this would make life easier for a gladiator. You would be wrong.

Lions lope slowly towards you. If you stand just slightly to one side, they cannot see you around their mane.

Cats leave five blood-red lines along your cheek without having appeared to have moved at all.

Lions growl as they approach. Cats are as silent as death.

And nobody has ever had to run around an amphitheatre with a lion clinging firmly to the top of their head.

Today, though, his career had ended. The silence of the crowd had told him as much.

He had stood proudly, skirt flapping only slightly embarrassingly in the wind.

He was ready for the nip at his ankle. He was ready for the talon-barbed swipe at his face. What he wasn’t ready for, though, was what actually happened.

The cat had ignored him.

Cat Flap

Kenya Kittens

Kenya kittens by Kerri Lee Smith

The above picture was the prompt for today’s 200 word Flash! Friday Challenge, and a gladiator had to play a central role in the story…


“The situation is very serious,” said Chief O’Hara. “She’s flooded Gotham with cats.”

“Who has?” asked the Gladiator.

“Why, Catwoman, of course,” said O’Hara.

“Oh,” said the Gladiator. “I always wondered why she was called that.”

O’Hara sighed. There were many shining stars in the galaxy of Superheroes, but, in every meaning of the phrase, the Gladiator was not the brightest.

His chariot was outpaced in every car chase. His, well, skirt would flop over his face if he had to dangle from tall buildings. His metal breast-plate was prone to picking up Radio Luxembourg, and to being struck by lightning.

He couldn’t even creep up on evildoers, because his sandals flapped when he walked.

On the other hand, Gotham’s villains tended to employ staff whose sole talent was the ability to spell “thwack” in actual air quotes when thumped, so O’Hara was hoping for the best.

“Just round up all the cats,” he said.

“Don’t worry,” said the Gladiator. “I’ll catch them all in my net.” He stood to leave. “Er, if I can ask,” he said. “Why have you given me this job instead of, you know, him?”

O’Hara pointed out the window. “It’s daylight,” he said. “The Bat-signal doesn’t work.”

Oh Yes We Are

The Tinfamily are going to a Pantomime tonight.

Rathmichael Parish Church, in Shankill in South Dublin, is 150 years old, and as part of the parish’s celebrations their Drama Group is putting on Old King Cole, and the five of us are going along tonight.

This may seem slightly odd. The Tinfamily are not from Shankill, and are not members of Rathmichael Parish. Furthermore, since Tingirl is now 18 we are all adults, at least in theory, and are not in the age group that typically shouts “Oh no, it isn’t” and bursts into terrified tears at the sight of the Witch. But there is a reason why we are going.

I wrote the Pantomime.

Ah, I hear you say, that explains why you’ve written so little here in the last six months, we completely understand, now can you please go back to writing a bit more often, we need something to laugh at, often in the kind meaning of that phrase.

And it would be a great excuse. I’m pretty sure that when Tolstoy was writing War and Peace he didn’t write anything on a blog either, but it’s an excuse that I can’t quite get away with.

I wrote Old King Cole in 1991.

Back in the late 80s I was in an Amateur Drama Group, and every year we would stage a Panto. Over time I noticed that, no matter how tired the standard, shop-bought script that we would use was at the beginning, our inventive director and some really great comic actors would always manage to turn it into something terrific, and so one year I had a go at writing one. After that it was accepted that I would write the script each year, and so I wrote five of them.

A friend of mine (actually, she’s Tinson2’s Godmother – no, a real one, not a Fairy one) who was in the Group back then is now Headmistress of Rathmichael school, and rang me a few months ago to ask could they stage Old King Cole. I am thrilled, obviously.

And terrified. I was always sorry that none of my children ever got to see any of my pantos, because I had stopped doing them by the time that they were old enough, but I’m a bit nervous about sitting beside them, at the age that they are now, while they watch one.

I can’t remember anything about this one, except that I have a vague recollection that the goodies win in the end. I’m clinging to the memory that the audiences at the time seemed to enjoy them, and I’m hoping that whatever I wrote back then is still funny now.

Anyway, while I’m scared I’m also excited, and really looking forward to it.