Category Archives: Written Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge..


The cow mooed in terror as she fell, hooves scrabbling in vain against the sides of the long dark tunnel. Eventually she emerged into a large cavern and landed with a terrific splash into something that it didn’t do to think too hard about. She climbed to her feet and looked in surprise at the other five, who were looking in astonishment at her.

“Seriously?” said the dog. “She sent a cow?”

“Er, what do you mean?” asked the cow.

“What I mean,” said the dog, “is that’s there’s been a certain logic to what she’s done so far. I mean, it’s fair enough that she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, and that she swallowed me to catch the cat, but as far as I know there has never been any recorded case of a cow catching a dog.”

“It’s not actually the first mistake she’s made,” said the bird. “We birds don’t usually eat spiders. We tend to go more for worms, or preferably bird-seed. She’s obviously never watched the Road Runner on TV. Wile E Coyote never puts a spider under the Acme anvil.”

“She’s losing it,” said the cat.

“You’re only realising that now?” said the fly. “If she’d just left her mouth open I’d have flown straight back out, I only flew in by accident. She didn’t need to start a bloody zoo.”

“How on earth did she swallow you anyway?” the spider asked the cow.

“I don’t really know,” said the cow. “She was milking me, I was staring vacantly into space, as we cows tend to do, when she suddenly swung me round by the udders and straight into her mouth.”

“She’s stronger than she looks,” admitted the cat.

“Cleverer, too,” said the dog. “She tossed a stick up in the air for me to catch, and when I came down she was lying on the ground with her mouth open.”

“Why haven’t you all caught each other?” asked the cow.

“What was the point?” asked the spider. “I was here second, but I reckoned if I’d caught the fly I’d have no-one to talk to.”

“Over time we’ve all become friends,” said the bird.

“And how do we get out?” asked the cow.

“As far as we can make out,” said the fly, “we don’t. We just sit here and wait to see what comes along next.”

“Couldn’t we jump up and down, and try to make her sick?” asked the cow.

“I thought of that,” said the spider. “I wanted to wriggle and wiggle and tiggle inside her, but someone vetoed the idea.”

“Listen,” said the cat, “when your only means of cleaning yourself is to lick your own fur, the last thing you want is to be expelled forcefully from somewhere in a jet of someone else’s vomit.”

“Er,” said the cow nervously, “what about -”

“Don’t worry about that,” said the dog. “She’s had constipation for weeks. Mainly on account of the fact that she’s eaten no fruit or fibre, being on an exclusively wildlife diet.”

“Diet’s not the right word,” said the cow. “You should see the size of her now. She looks about twenty-two months pregnant. With triplets.”

“What do you reckon will be next?” asked the spider.

“Hard to tell at this stage,” said the cat. “If she believes that cows catch dogs, then God knows what she thinks catches cows. An armadillo, perhaps, or a vole. Maybe a reindeer.”

Daylight suddenly appeared,  far, far above.

“Looks like we’re about to find out,” said the fly.

They all listened, and could hear an animal sound. They all looked at one another.

“She has got to be kidding,” said the cat.

They listened again. It was definitely the sound of neighing.

“I’ve got a really bad feeling about this,” said the dog.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Another camera-free go at the WordPress Photo Challenge…


Ugg was lying on a stone slab in the blazing sun, which was shining directly onto his face. His face was the colour of a tomato, and his nose had begun to peel. His wife Ogga lay on a similar slab beside him.

Of all the hardships of their cave-dwelling lives together, the coldness of the nights, the fleeing from boars, the visits from her mother, he had never endured, nor imagined, any situation as bad as this.

They were on the first ever package holiday.

Their friend Tomascuk had come up with the idea. He had told them that it would be relaxing, that they would have a carefree, fun time, and had persuaded them and twenty other couples from their village to leave their caves for two weeks to go to the village (or ‘resort’ as it now termed itself) of My Orca. To stay in smaller caves.

Relaxing it was not. Each morning Ugg had to get up at six to place two fur-skin towels on two of the slabs, because this apparently warded off evil spirits,  and other tourists.

Nor was it fun. There was a small pond in which the tourists could paddle, catch malaria and have their toes nibbled at by coelacanths. This seemingly was known as a Waterpark.

Nor was it carefree. They were harassed out of any chance to enjoy themselves by people who were determined that they would enjoy themselves.

Each day they were made to go on coach tours, in which a coach would give them morning fitness exercises and then make them jog around visiting local rocks, lichens and places of interest.

One of the places of interest that they had visited had been their own village, which after all was only five miles away.

In the evenings they were in the hands of the Entertainment Organiser. He made them play a game called bingo, in which they would put stones on numbers that he called out. If they were first to cover all of their numbers they had to shout out “cave”.

Later they would wear huge daft hats and drink the local drink, which tasted like something that had been passed through a vole. They had to form something called a “conger”, where each of them grabbed the hips of the person in front of them and they impersonated a giant eel.

They were made to do the actions to The Birdie Song, because it has been around forever.

Ogga (drawing courtesy of me)

Ogga (drawing courtesy of me)

Now Ugg sat up and looked at Ogga lying on the slab beside him. She, however, was lying on her front,  and to his horror she had untied the top half of the two-piece fur-skin that she wore. He noticed that while he was getting redder by the second, her bare back was turning a golden brown. He also noticed that while he was lying there with nothing to do, she had a drink beside her, in which floated a small red round fruit and an umbrella. She also had a book, seven hundred pages of cured leather which lay open and face down on the table beside her.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

“It’s called a holiday novel,” she said. “Boy meets girl, girl dislikes boy, boy goes off with other girl, girl realises she actually likes boy, other girl falls into bear-trap, boy and girl get together.”

“What are the boy and girl called?” asked Ugg.

Ogga thought for a second. “I honestly can’t remember,” she admitted. “The thing about a holiday novel is that it goes in one eye and then seems to vanish up its own arse.”

Ugg lay back and was mentally counting down the seconds until they could go home and he could fish at weekends, dozing happily and being truly carefree, when he heard the yell “mammoth”!”.

He looked up. Sure enough, a huge mammoth was lumbering into the resort.

The Entertainment Organiser raced passed them, all duty to his charges forgotten in his charge. Ugg pulled Ogga to her feet and her top to a level of modesty, and they joined the stampede of fleeing fellow tourists.

As they fled Ugg panted “this is no different to what we have to do at home most days”.

“No, it‘s different,” said Ogga. “Listen to the mammoth’s roar.”

Ugg listened.

The mammoth was roaring in a foreign language.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge…


Cassandra (By Evelyn de Morgan, 1898)

Cassandra (By Evelyn de Morgan, 1898)

She knew he was coming.

Cassandra could see the future. Apollo had given her this gift because of her beauty, then cursed her so that no-one would believe her, which is why she is now the patron saint of weather forecasters. He cursed her because she refused to become his consort, and in fairness she should have seen that coming, not because she was now a prophet, but because pissing off a Greek God rarely ends well.

The curse was not all bad, though. She lived well, making a steady income from betting on outsiders in chariot races, because the bookies laughed at her bets.

Now Zeus was coming to visit her. She knew it.

She knew it because he had sent a message yesterday asking if he could come to see her today.

She watched from her tent as a swan approached across the lake, because Zeus liked to make an entrance. She watched as he stopped to eat bread thrown by little kids from the lakeside, then watched as he fled from an armada of angry ducks who regarded this daily bread as their entitlement. He emerged from the water, shook himself off, and walked into her tent.

He sat down. A small feather drifted off his head and onto the ground. They both pretended not to notice it.

“I believe that you can see the future,” said Zeus.

“Really?” said Cassandra. “No one else does.”

“Well, I do,” said Zeus. “I heard you a few days ago saying in the taverna that the following day would be warm and sunny, and it was.”

Cassandra frowned. “Greece has 300 hundred days of sunshine a year,” she pointed out. “It wasn’t exactly rocket science.”

“Rocket science?”

“It’s on its way,” said Cassandra. “Though admittedly not for a while yet.”

“You also predicted the fall of Troy,” he said.

Cassandra said nothing. Sometimes her visions were a bit obscure. She had foreseen and told everyone about a big horse with men in its belly, so all the Trojan soldiers had left the town hunting fearfully for a giant man-eating horse. The feeling that she had thus caused rather than predicted the fall of Troy nagged at her. Still, now was not the time to say that.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Can you not foresee what I’m going to ask?” said Zeus.

“Don’t start that crap,” snapped Cassandra. “Er, oh Great One,” she finished, suddenly remembering who she was talking to.

Zeus smiled. “I’m sorry, that was mean,” he said. “I’m here because of the future of Greece. Everywhere I look I see us Gods getting lazy, squabbling with each other, and getting off with every human woman on the planet. I’m afraid that we’re heading towards doom. What lies ahead for us, and for Greece?”

Cassandra concentrated. Usually when she had to look far into the future she just foresaw Old Moore’s Alamanac and then read what he had to say, but she reckoned that for Zeus she should make a special effort, so she stared deep, deep into the very soul of her country. She turned pale.

She saw the Acropolis in ruins, the Gods banished to exile on Mount Olympus, the country fall under the control of humans. She saw the end of the Greek Empire, the end of the white sheet as standard clothing, and its brief re-emergence under, or rather around, Demis Roussos. She foresaw the collapse of its economy, its shocking record in the Eurovision Song Contest, and the term “it’s all Greek to me” being used to describe gobbledegook.

She foresaw people eating feta cheese, essentially something made from goats’ pee, and drinking ouzo, a drink that tasted like goats’ pee mixed with paraffin (she briefly had to stop and foresee paraffin before she could foresee that).

She foresaw the invasion of Greece by a vast army called the Tourists, over-running the country and forcing it to serve chips and to get Sky Sports in its tavernas.

She looked up into the expectant face of Zeus, and chickened out.

“Er, Grecian urns will be very popular,” she said.

He look a bit disappointed. “Anything else?” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “Tell Achilles to buy some shoes.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge….


Mona LisaLeonardo da Vinci led Michelangelo into his studio and across to the easel in the corner. He held out one hand toward the painting resting upon it, and while he didn’t actually say “Ta-Dah!” Michelangelo could almost hear the words inside his head.

“What do you think?” asked Leonardo.

“Mmm … not bad,” said Michelangelo.

“Not bad?” said Leonardo in astonishment. “Not bad? This is my masterpiece.”

“Seriously?” said Michelangelo. “Better than The Last Supper?”

“That’s just rubbish,” said Leonardo. “I painted them all sitting on the same side of the table, what sort of a supper-party is that?”

“But people love it,” said Michelangelo. “They analyse it, they think one of the guys is actually a girl, they even think it’s some sort of code.”

“They’re mixing me up with Jamesbondo,” said Leonardo. “He goes in for that sort of stuff. Anyway, what’s wrong with this painting?”

“Well, in the first place it’s a bit gloomy. Where is the background supposed to be?”

“Tuscany,” said Leonardo.

“What, sunny Tuscany? I can’t see the Tuscan Tourist Board being too impressed, you’ve made it look like Mordor on a winter’s day. And she’s a bit gloomy too.”

“What do you mean?” asked Leonardo.

“Well, why is she glaring at you like that?”

“That’s not a glare. That’s an enigmatic smile.”

“Is ‘enigmatic smile’ a euphemism for glaring?” asked Michelangelo. “Because she looks as if you’ve just told her that yes, her bum does look big in that dress. Plus she looks like a Goth girl.”

“No, she doesn’t,” said Leonardo.

“She does,” said Michelangelo. “Give her black fingernails and black mascara and she could go to a Metallica concert.”

“Is Metallica still going?” said Leonardo.

“Yes, he’s got a whole band now,” said Michelangelo. “A string quartet, apparently. And speaking of mascara, why has she no eyebrows?”

Leonardo stared at the painting. “Shit,” he said. “I’ll paint some on later.”

Michelangelo knew that he wouldn’t. He had known Leonardo for a long time, ever since the two of them (along with Raphael and Donatello) had been at school together. He knew that within seconds of the conversation ending Leonardo would be drawing futuristic sketches of helicopters, TV remote controls and the transporter room of the starship Enterprise, with the eyebrows already forgotten.

“Any other constructive criticism from someone who’s basically an interior decorator?” Leonardo said nastily.

“Yes,” said Michelangelo. “Where are her boobs?”

“Er, on her chest,” said Leonardo, confused.

“Yes, I know that,” said Michelangelo, “but you can’t see them, can you? Boobs are very popular at the moment -”

“Aren’t they always?” asked Leonardo.

“Well, yes,” said Michelangelo, “but I mean in art. Look at Botticelli and his Birth of Venus. Logically Venus should be a tiny baby at her birth, but he made her a grown woman, stuck a big pair of knockers on her front, and was able to sell the painting for ten thousand lira.”

“Isn’t that about three quid?” said Leonardo.

“Nah, this is 1506,” said Michelangelo. “The lira hasn’t collapsed yet.” He looked at the picture for a moment. “Who is she, anyway?”

“That’s a secret,” said Leonardo. “She’s supposed to simply represent ‘woman’.”

Michelangelo looked harder at the picture. “Ah, now I get it,” he said excitedly, “and you’re right, it is your masterpiece.”

“Er, why?” said Leonardo.

“Because you, the artist, obviously represent simply ‘man’, and like simple man have just come home from the pub four hours after you said you would. She’s ‘enigmatic smiling’ at you in that way that all we men recognise in such occasions, and, of course, we have your final touch of genius.”

“Which is?”

“She’s checking her watch.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companiable

Another camera-less attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge…


Doctor Groves looked at his patient. He took in the rubber suit, the black utility belt, the bar-eared mask, and he sighed.

He had already seen a Superman and a Spiderman this week. He had also seen two Napoleons, a Cleopatra, three Simon Cowells and a guy who claimed to be the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The difference between them and his current patient, though, was that this was the real Batman.

He had first been referred to Doctor Groves, Gotham City’s most eminent psychiatrist,  by Chief O’Hara, who was worried about this guy who had turned up at Police Headquarters claiming among other things that he fought with a penguin. But over time Groves had realised that he genuinely was a Super-hero. Yet still the Caped Crusader was here, lying stereotypically upon the psychiatrist’s couch.

Because Batman’s problem was not that he thought he was Batman.

“He helped me again last night,” said Batman.

“No, he didn’t,” said the Doctor gently. “We’ve been through this. Robin doesn’t exist. He’s your imaginary friend.”

“He’s not imaginary,” snapped Batman. “I told you, we fought side by side only last night.”

The Doctor leaned forward. “Tell me what happened,” he said.

“Well,” said Batman, “I was fighting Catwoman’s goons, watching the words “Biff!” and “Thwack!” appear in the air (curing Batman’s belief that this actually happened was a problem that Dr Groves was leaving for later sessions) when he suddenly appeared beside me, yelling “Holy Goon-Show, Batman!”. Then he got punched in the face.”

The Doctor was startled. “What, one of the goons could see him as well?”

“No, I punched him in the face,” said Batman. “Sometimes all that Holy This and Holy That gets on my nerves.”

He looked off to one side. “Sorry,” he said. Dr Groves felt the hairs rise on his neck.

“He’s here now, isn’t he?” asked Groves. Batman nodded. “He says “Holy Nut-doctor, Batman!” said Batman.

“I’m not a nut-doctor,” said Dr Groves. “They deal, er, down lower. Look, you’re Batman. The Dark Knight. You have the coolest car on the planet, your own signal in the sky, you can fight your way through a whole roomful of villains. Why would you need a side-kick who has no weapons, no special talents, and who spoils any element of surprise that you might have when approaching a villain’s lair by wearing something so bright that you can see it from two miles away on a dark night, if you’ll pardon the pun?”

“Er, well,” said Batman, looking, for the first time in many, many sessions, as if he had lots to think about.

“Seriously,” said Dr Groves. “If you want something red-and-green with a gift for repetitive phrases, then you should get a parrot.”

Time was up, so Batman stood. He paid for the session in cash, saying as he always did that it was lucky that he was carrying his Bat-Cash-Holding-Device with him. Doctor Groves actually had something similar, though he called it a wallet.

At the door Batman turned.

“See you next week,” he said. “Same bats time, same bats channel.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

Another of Tinman’s camera-free attempts at the WordPress Photo Challenge….


The Ambassador’s Ball was in full swing.

Men in dress-suits looked like penguins, women in ball-gowns looked like wedding-cakes, Ferraro Rocher in pyramids looked like piles of golden sheep-poo.

And in her own dress, almost princess-like in its beauty, Secret Agent Barbie fitted in perfectly.

She always did. No matter where the mission was – an après-ski, a gymkhana, a Hells Angels rally, Barbie had an outfit for the occasion.

Double-Oh-Seven may have had his Walther PPK, but Agent Thirty-Four-Double-D was unrivalled as a mistress of disguise.

Now she slipped un-noticed from the ballroom and into the small billiard-room (another type of ball room, I suppose) where she was to met her contact.

She had hoped it wouldn’t be him, but it was.

“Hello, Curves,” said Action Man.

That was what all the other agents called him. He was the archetypal alpha-male agent – a tough, wise-cracking womaniser. Barbie was his total opposite (especially about the womanising, much to the disappointment of Secret Agent Sindy and a generation of boys who’d have played much more enthusiastically with their sister’s dolls).

She always called him by his real name, Ken, just to annoy him. She tried to hate him, but it was hard not to be drawn to his perfect hair and his piercing blue eyes. Even now, though she tried not to, she found herself gazing longingly at his six-pack.

He gave her one.

She took the beer that he had offered her (I can’t help what you were thinking), sat down on the sofa and casually crossed her legs, or at least tried to.

“Our mission, Curves -” he began.

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that, Ken,” she said.

“It’s just that you have such an amazing figure,” he said, leering openly at her. “Are those boobs real?”

“As real as the rest of me,” Barbie assured him.

“Wow,” he said. “Well, anyway, our mission is to go to Russia and steal the plans for Squirlsh.”

“What’s that? Some sort of poison?” asked Barbie.

“No, it’s some sort of fruit drink,” said Ken. “The Russians plan to flood the market with it, This would severely damage the sales of Robinson’s Barley Water, and since the end of the Cold War MI5 will take work from anyone.”

Two days later, having been shot at, car-chased and had raspberries blown at them (through a blow-pipe, the fruit-drink market is highly competitive), they were in the Squirlsh laboratory in Moscow. While Barbie, in her Lab-coat outfit, fought off her Russian counterpart, the evil Babushka (whose disguises weren’t in the same league as Barbie’s, since when she whipped off her mask she had exactly the same face underneath), Ken fiddled with the machines until they began to smoulder and spark, and a voice started intoning “T-minus twenty seconds, and counting.”

Barbie and Ken escaped just before the whole lab exploded, and an hour later sat in her hotel suite grinning at one another. The whole adventure had been a bonding experience for them, meaning that they both felt like James Bond.

“I suppose we have to get off with each other now,” said Barbie.

“Really?” said Ken.

“It’s obligatory at the end of a mission,” said Barbie. “It’s in the handbook.”

She started to walk towards the bedroom. “I’m just going to slip in something more comfortable,” she said. At the door she turned and looked at him.

“Come on, Action Man,” she said. “It’s time you met Catwoman Barbie.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: In The Background

Tinman’s camera-less version of the WordPress Photo Challenge…


Steve ran. Oh, how he ran, wide-eyed in panic, every now and again looking back over his shoulder, because when you must, absolutely must, run as fast as you possibly can nothing keeps you going full-out like breaking stride every couple of seconds to look backwards.

It was all to no avail anyway. The Empire State Building still fell on him.

The Director called “cut”. Steve pushed away the cardboard boulders under which he had supposedly been crushed, and headed off for lunch.

They were filming Independence Day, and he was an extra.

That was his job. He had hurled himself into the water in Titanic and begun swimming, presumably towards America, or perhaps Southampton. He had been an expendable crewman in Star Trek, and an expendable baddie in The Expendables. He’d been attacked by piranha in Piranha, by snakes on a plane in Snakes On A Plane and (with Samantha of course) had had sex in the city in Sex And The City.

Sometimes he had more than one part, an extra extra if you like. He had been both a wizard and a muggle in Harry Potter, an orc and an ent in the Lord of the Rings (he’d never been sure which was which) and, thanks to the marvels of CGI, he had sword-fought himself in Braveheart.

He had never had a speaking part, although occasionally he got to yell “aargh”.

And why did he do it? Because it meant he was in the movies.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Tinman’s weekly camera-less attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge…


It came from above, descending at tremendous speed through the Earth’s atmosphere.

It would have hit the ground with force had it not instead hit Newton, who was asleep under the tree from which it had fallen, straight on the top of the head.

He sat up with a start and stared at the apple, now rocking gently beside him on the grass.

“Gravity!” he said, which is an Olde English word meaning “bloody hell, that hurt.”

He went to see his friend James Watt, who was absent-mindedly watching a kettle boil.

“I’ve invented gravity!” shouted Newton.

“What’s gravity?” asked Watt.

“It’s what makes all things fall to earth.”

“Um, you may not have actually invented that,” said Watt. “I rather think that God did.”

“Really?” said Newton. “Well, I discovered it.”

“Don’t think you can even claim that,” said Watt. “I think that anyone who has, for example, dropped their toast buttered side down, or dropped a hammer onto their foot, or even been very heavily rained upon, would feel that they already know all about gravity. Or downfall, as we call it.”

“Er, I think your downfall means something else,” said Newton. “It’s something to do with meeting your doom.”

“Ever dropped a hammer onto your foot?” asked Watt.

“Ok, ok, I didn’t invent it and didn’t discover it,” said Newton, in the same grudging manner in which Hillary would later have to admit that he had neither invented nor discovered Everest, “but I’ve been developing theories about it.”

“Such as?”

“Well, I believe that if you dropped a ton of lead and a ton of feathers off a building, they would both hit the ground at the same time.”

“A ton of feathers? The bag would have to be the size of a hot-air balloon. You’d never get it up the stairs to the top of the building.”

“Yes, well that’s not the point, the point is -”

“I’d rather be hit by the ton of feathers, that’s all I can say,” said Watt.

“No, you wouldn’t,” said Newton. “The important part of the phrase is the word “ton”. You’re going to be squashed flat either way.”

“Where are we going to get all this, anyway?”

“All of what?”

“Well, the lead, for example,” said Watt. “We’d have to strip the roof of every church in England. And as for the ton of feathers, we’d be plucking chickens for the next four thousand years.”

“Look, we wouldn’t actually -”

“And we’d be left with thousands of chickens. Perhaps we could open a chain of fried-chicken restaurants.”

“Wouldn’t work,” said Newton. “Who’d go to a place with only one choice on the menu?”

“I suppose so,” said Watt. “Perhaps we could drop the chickens off the building as well.”

“They wouldn’t be dead,” said Newton, “so they’d just fly off.”

“Ah, so your gravity doesn’t work on live things,” said Watt. “That’s good news. If I ever fall off a cliff it will be a great comfort to know that whatever is causing me to plummet to my downfall is not gravity.”

“Look,” said Newton, aware that the conversation had wandered, “there is no lead, nor feathers, nor chickens. None of it’s actually going to happen. It’s a theory.”

“Ah, good idea,” said Watt. “Theories are great, no-one can tell if they’re true or not. Like Einstein’s one about Relativity.”

“What’s that?” asked Newton.

“I think it’s something to do with meeting all of your relatives if you travel at the speed of light.”

“I’d say you have that the wrong way round,” said Newton. “It’s probably that if you hear that your relatives are coming to visit you run away at the speed of light.”

“Maybe so,” admitted Watt. He was still staring at the kettle, from which a cone of steam was now  spouting. “Do you know,” he said, “I reckon I could run a train on that.”

“Mmm,” said Newton. “If you used all the boiling water to run the train you wouldn’t be able to make tea for the passengers.“

“Ever tasted the tea on trains? It’s not made with boiling water.”

“Still, you’d need a really big kettle.”

“True,” said Watt. “Perhaps I could buy it in the shop where you buy your bag for the feathers.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Tinman’s weekly camera-less attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge…


“We can’t sell bacteria.”

“Well obviously we can’t sell bacteria,” said Sheila, Head of Marketing. “We’re going to sell yogurt.”

“What’s that?” said Dr Jones, Head of Research and Product Development.

“It’s an Arabic word.”

“Meaning what?” asked Jones suspiciously.


“We’re going to have a very small market,” said Jones. “The only people who’ll buy it will be Bond villains.”

“No, everybody will buy it,” said Sheila. “Because we’re going to call it Good Bacteria.”

“What, like Good Sheep’s Piss?”

“Exactly. Or lager, as we decided to call it.”

“You don’t mean to say -” began Jones, then thought about the taste of lager. “Actually, that explains quite a lot,” he said.

“The bacteria – er, yogurt – was a brilliant idea,” said Sheila. “How did you invent it?”

“I didn’t invent it,” said Jones. “I was trying to develop a bleach that kills all germs on kitchen worktops, but that particular attempt kept eating holes in the worktop itself.”

“Well, it’s terrific,” said Sheila. “We’ll have different types, so that you have to take more than one each morning. We’ll give them names like Caseii Immunitas, which we’ll say helps your immune system, and Bifidus Digestivum, which helps your digestion.”

“And your bifid,” said Jones.

Sheila looked confused. “What’s your bifid?” she asked.

“No idea,” said Jones. “I thought we were playing at making up words.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Sheila. “No, we’ll tell people that that one prevents congestion and, er bloating.”

“Good idea. We could use the slogan ‘drink yogurt and have a massive dump’.”

“Of course not, we’ll say…” she thought for a moment….  “that it helps with your daily digestive transit.”

“That just sounds like someone driving to the shops to buy biscuits,” said Jones. “I still don’t see how you’ll get people to buy – and drink – bacteria every day. Live bacteria at that.”

“We prefer to think of it not as a bacteria, but as a culture,” said Sheila. “and people from our modern day culture won’t call the experience just drinking yogurt.”

“And what will they call it?” asked Jones.

“They’ll call it a lifestyle.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Tinman’s weekly attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge….


He looked over the side. It really was a long way down.

He shuddered, and huddled down deeper in the  nest.

“You’ll love it,” said his Mum. “It’s the most fun ever. Watch this.”

She plummeted out over the side, and his heart plummeted as he watched her. She arrowed down, down, then soared, scorching an almost visible U in the sky as she swept back to land gently beside him.

“I don’t know,” he said doubtfully. “Can’t I just walk around?”

“You’re a bird,” said his Mum. “We don’t walk.”

“Ostriches do,” he said desperately.

“Ostriches. Seriously? You’re picking as a role model a creature who sticks his entire head into sand. Can you imagine the state his nostrils must be in? He must sneeze cement-balls.”

“I still think I might be an ostrich. Perhaps I’m adopted.”

“You aren’t,” she said firmly. “I laid the egg that you came in, and that’s not an experience you forget in a hurry. Trust me on this.”

“What about penguins, then,” he said. “They don’t fly, but  they slide along the ice, which looks like far more fun.”

“They eat nothing but fish, and walk like a man trying to hold in a fart,” said his Mum. “And they live in the coldest part of the world and can’t get out of there, whereas we can fly south for the winter. We don’t walk south, you’ll notice, we’d have to start in about March.”

“I still fancy the walking option,” he said.

“Suit yourself,” said his Mum. “Once you climb down the tree, you can walk where you like.”

“Oh,” he said.

“Exactly,” said his Mum. “When it comes to a list of things you can hold on to a tree-trunk by, wings rank somewhere between a spatula and the rubber bit at the bottom of a chair-leg.”

He still shook his head. “If God had wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings,” he said.

Mum raised one eyebrow.

“Ok, bad argument,” he said.

“Look,” she said softly. “I know you’re afraid. I was too when I was your age. But I watched lines of birds flying along in a V-formation. I heard the morning chorus of birds just thrilled to be alive. And I saw how envious humans are of us, and how they try to copy us,  and I thought “it must be great”, so I tried it. Please, just come out and stand on the branch with me.”

She held his wing and he climbed from the nest, clinging to her as they stood side by side.

“Most fun ever?” he said.

“I promise,” she said. “Well, pooing on humans is the most fun ever, but it’s bad parenting for a mother to tell her son that.”

“Is it easy?” he asked.

She looked down at the branch they were standing on.

“As falling off a log,” she said.

He closed his eyes, really, really tightly, and leaned over sideways until gravity took him.

And dropped him. He shrieked as he fell, frantically stretching out his wings, trying to grab the tree, his Mum, anything.

And the stretched out wings flicked a feathered slap across gravity’s face, caught the air, and lifted him.

He shrieked again, this time in sheer delight, as he discovered the awesomeness of the gift that he had been given. He saw his Mum’s grin and wave as he shot past, like a child on a merry-go-round glimpsing a parent.

He stayed out until bedtime. He swooped and soared and dived. He flitted. He weaved in and out of trees like a fighter pilot in a Star Wars film. He bounced up and down on telephone wires, feeling the electricity thrum beneath his feet. He tested the saying “a bird never flew on one wing”, and found it to be untrue, though you do just fly in circles. For a while, a wonderful while, he just floated on an air-current, resting on the sky.

When his Mum called him for bed he was giddy with tiredness and excitement. He chattered about how wonderful everything was as she tucked him in under his grass duvet.

“Ostriches?” she said.

“Gobshites,” he replied.