Monthly Archives: June 2013

Jellybean Has Arrived on Xperia!

andjbBack on the 10th of February I blogged excitedly about the imminent arrival of the Jellybean version of the android operating system (4.1.2) on Xperia phones. For the next few weeks I pressed T-Mobile for some sort of timescale. Their response was unhelpful.

Not possible to give this information

Great! To be honest I almost began to give up on ever seeing my Xperia-T announcing a system upgrade. Low and behold late one night last week it arrived. As I was on holiday at the time with a creaky signal I debated momentarily whether I should wait until I got home. Of course I did no such thing and clicked to start the download.

Even with a relatively poor signal the 200mb+ download only took around five minutes. Once installed the first thing to look at was Google Now. This was unavailable on the previous Android release and to me seems the main new toy. Other than that things appear relatively similar but I’m sure there is a lot more to this upgrade than Google Now and some customisation of existing screens. However, that information is no doubt covered in great detail on the web so I won’t bore you with any more tech talk!

In short if you are using an Sony Xperia phone and haven’t been upgraded to Jellybean then complain and complain loud to your provider!!

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A Change of Image

blog_updateWhen I started this blog the idea was that it would be like most other blogs i.e. a bit of everything that was going on in my life. However, I have to confess the majority of content has become concentrated in one direction, creative fiction. That’s not to say I will not continue to post pieces on other areas of my existence. I will but creative fiction is now my hobby and WordPress is a good vehicle for it so that’s that. Apologies to anybody who has followed me and is getting bored of stories. Feel free to unfollow. I won’t be offended.

In keeping with the dominant theme of this blog my live-in photographic editor has come up with a stunning new header image. Both parts of the image are from our recent holiday in Cornwall and were actually taken in blue skies and sunshine. However, some nifty editing has given the banner a more moody, introspective look. Yes, that sounds pretentious but what the heck. In for a penny, in for a pound etc. Just to add that neither image was posed. They were just general shots of me on beaches and rocky outcrops. The genius is in the picture selection and the editing. For that I am indebted to my better half!

One other change to point out. The menu bar along the top now has five options. Home and About are self explanatory. An introduction to the other three:

Fantasy World – In here are all of my creative fiction pieces. Also anything generally writing related will be stored here.

Real World – This menu option is where all the non-creative fiction blog entries are held.

Best of Me – This is a page on which I will link to what I think are my best stories at any point in time. This will be a quick way for somebody to get an introduction to my writing.

If you’re staying I hope you continue to enjoy the content I provide. If you’re leaving then the time you’ve spent with me has been much appreciated!

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – A Beat in Time

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A Morris had run the clock emporium in town for what seemed like forever.

The current Mr Morris knew his moment was getting close. Shuffling to the door he turned the sign around.

Closed for lunch

Knees creaking he settled into his worn leather armchair. One by one everything fell into place.

The fading patter of his heart.

The ticking of his clocks.

Even the shadow cast by the Victorian sundial fell perfectly over his wrinkled forehead.

Everything in the shop now played to the same beat. The time was now.

The wrinkles began to fade. The thick black hair returned as the once thinning grey disappeared. Liver spots were replaced by boyish freckles.

As the shadow moved away the shop was once more filled with the familiar random sound of ticks and tocks. Rising from his chair he wandered over to the shop door.

Open

That first conversation was the same as always at this time.

 “Old Mr Morris? Oh, he’s left the business to me. I’m his son.“

These 150’ish words (Ok, it’s 170 but what’s 20 words between friends!) represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

Trifextra 74 – Homage to the Homonym

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One you tie, one you take, one you draw.

The first is a bow.

The second is a bow.

The third is a bow.

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These 24 words form my entry into the Trifextra 74 writing challenge.

Think I am possibly stretching the limits of the brief but in my defence it is one sentence followed by three which are saying the same thing i.e. it’s similar to the prompt! I’d also say by the time I wrote mine a lot of good ideas had been taken so I had no choice but to lurch to the fringes for something a bit different. 

Ahoy Trifectans!

whoamiAs a regular entrant into the creative writing challenges hosted by the Trifectan gang  I thought it time to let my fellow writers know a bit more about me. Not a lot more but enough to be going on with!

1. What is your name (real or otherwise)?

My name is not a pseudonym. I am not anonymous. I really am Paul Clements.

2. Describe your writing style in three words. 

Raw. Developing. Mine.

3. How long have you been writing online? 

My main web output over the last 15 years was a sports site on which I wrote match reports for my local football team. This has now closed. I needed another vehicle for writing and so turned to creative fiction. I have been telling made up stories since March 2013 i.e. just a newbie!

4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? 

Other than the Trifecta and Trifextra challenges I regularly submit entries to:

Friday Fictioneers got me started in creative fiction. 100 words or so of flash based on a Wednesday prompt. No idea why it is called Friday Fictioneers!

Alastair’s Photo Fiction is a Sunday photo prompt requiring a story in the vicinity of 150 words.

5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. 

By taking a creative writing course. I plan to do an online one later in 2013. Feel it is important to put some solid foundations in place. I may think I have some ability when it comes to writing but it’s important to get the basics right.

6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Not been at this long enough to have been given advice from anybody yet. That will no doubt come in due course. However, the best piece of advice I’ve read is to keep on writing. Don’t get too obsessed with editing and reviewing. Just go with the flow of the story and when the flow stops then you can review and edit.

7. Who is your favorite author?  

Confession! I’m not a constant reader. I will go through phases of reading a lot then phases of not reading very much. Also never been a person who really has favourite anythings i.e. bands, singers, authors. There are those I like but none I obsess over. These would include JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Steven Erikson. Some of my favourite reading over the years has actually been non-fiction.

8. How do you make time to write?

Writing has been a hobby in one guise or another for many years. As such I will always find time to do it. Watching less television is one way to make time if you’re really struggling!

9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember–it must have a third definition. 

Fantasy

10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn’t miss reading.

Well so far in my first few weeks doing the Trifecta weekly challenges I’ve managed a third and a second place. This was the story which got me the second place and I think it is one my best so far. For a non-Trifecta piece this is one my favourite.

Above is correct as of today i.e. 28th June 2013. Beyond that I can give no guarantees to its accuracy!

Friday Fictioneers – The Perils of Modern Living

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The interstate north of Lake Finsmore was an accident black spot like no other. Countless lives lost. The locals were beginning to think nobody cared. It was shameful of the authorities not to act.

Old Harry squinted both ways as he went to cross. His eyesight wasn’t what it once was.

Is that a bus? How far away is it? Damn it!

The safety of the other side was somehow reached. Would he be so lucky tomorrow?

Harry’s struggles were witnessed by Frank the county Ranger. He cared more than most. If it was up to Frank that hedgehog tunnel would have been built years ago.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Trifecta 83 – When The Boy Becomes The Man

t83p2With the day’s light dwindling the lamps glowed brightly in the windows of the Trawzelen miners’ cottages. Over at the tin mine all appeared quiet. Below ground shift boss Richard Dengarran struggled desperately to save his men. The seam above their heads was crumbling. Richard screamed for everybody to get out. One by one they scrambled past. He couldn’t hold back the creaking beams for much longer.

Of the 25 men on his shift 20 escaped. Five including Richard were lost. The collapse was so severe they are yet to recover the bodies. It is truly hoped that none of the five survived. Better dead than buried alive.

Maisie Dengarran still lives with her only son John in their miners cottage. No man has yet to replace her Richard. Some have tried but they soon realise there is no room in Maisie’s heart for anyone else.

Maisie misses the silly things. The rust coloured overalls Richard used to bring home. The stains they would leave in the sink when washed. The rusty puddles he’d make when he got home on a wet night. The iron in the mine discoloured everything. Her house is now spotless. Pristine. She is forever cleaning up.

John says his father comes and talks to him at night. Tells him to look after his mother. He is the man now. Maisie just smiles. She doesn’t believe him but she pretends that she does. Sees no harm in it.

One night Maisie listens in to John having one of his conversations. Two voices? One is Richards! It can’t be!

Maisie opens the door. It goes quiet. John looks at his mother.

“He doesn’t want you to see him. Not after all this time” says John.

“Where is he?”

John points to the open window.

Maisie rushes to look. Nothing. Of course nothing. As she steps back her heart shudders. Below the window sill. A wet, rusty footprint.

The bedroom candle flickers. The window crashes shut. John takes his mother’s hand.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 83 writing challenge. Have to say I really enjoyed writing this story today. I hope you like it! As an aside if you live in the UK and are interested in the history of the Cornish tin mining industry I beseech you to visit Geevor. A truly fascinating time capsule of an industry and way of life which has now disappeared. 

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Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Call of the Sea

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The call went out.

All available hands to the station!

At 17 Billy Crabtree was the youngest of those hands. His father was coxswain. The Crabtrees were fiercely proud to have them both on the Mary Bell.

The churning seas which greeted the boat as she crashed down the slipway promised a rough trip. Billy wasn’t worried. He trusted his father to keep them all safe.

The stricken trawler was out of power, out of control. The rocks of Verndale Point were looming. Billy watched his father manoeuvre the Mary Bell into position. One by one the terrified trawler-men were hauled into the lifeboat.

The wave came from nowhere. Everything was swallowed up by a cold, wet shadow. Suddenly there was light. Yards from the rocks a drenched Billy watched as the trawler smashed to pieces. His father skilfully steered his own passage to safety.

Within moments the seas were eerily calm. The Mary Bell turned for home. Just another day in the life of volunteer heroes.

This story is dedicated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). In particular to the memory of the eight crewmen of the Penlee lifeboat who were lost at sea a week before Christmas, 1981. Also not forgetting the eight hands of the coaster MV Union Star who perished despite the fearless efforts of the Penlee Lifeboat crew on that terrible night off of the South Cornish coast. 

penlee lifebaot crew

As well as forming a tribute these 150’ish words also represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

Trifextra 73 – Never Trust To Luck

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The third Mrs Gunderson laughed with her guests.

Her wonderful new husband scanned the gathering.

His eyes paused on the flaming red hair.

Mrs Gunderson didn’t notice as he slipped out the room.

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This 33 word attempt to show that third time ain’t always necessarily lucky is my entry into the Trifextra 73 writing challenge. 

Friday Fictioneers – A World of Difference

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Cody Potterman was a dreamer. No barrier too high. No target out of reach. Cody wanted to be a soldier. His father though was a realist. Forever showering his son’s ambitious plans in icy cold water.

“Cody son. Boys don’t do soldiering. It’s too dangerous for the likes of you and me. Leave all that to the women. They keep us safe. That’s the way it is.”

Cody sighed. He knew his father was right but why? Would things ever change?

Suddenly Cody’s father clutched his stomach. He looked in agony.

“Cody, quick. Ouch. Ooh. Get yer mother son. The baby, aah, it’s on its way…hurry!”

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Trifecta 82 – Under New Management

fishermans club Newhaven HarbourThe tourist swarm which infested all the neighbouring villages never quite reached Gunnerdale Cove. The few remaining fisherman were too busy to care much. There wasn’t anything to see anyway. Some visited and loved it precisely for that reason. Most need something else. Normal life ain’t enough.

There was one thing. The Fisherman’s Club. Over fifty years since Charlie Simpson first pulled a pint behind the bar. Some would say that’s when it last saw a paint brush. The roof leaked. The windows hadn’t kept out a draft since they were fitted. However, it was their club.

The locals were happy enough. One wasn’t. Ray. Known to most as the TV man, Ray had moved into Gunnerdale last year. Bought and renovated the old mill. No. Ray wanted more for his village. Used to wind the locals up something wicked when he said that.

“A restaurant and wine bar” he announced. His old mate “Chef Freshman” from the “Hit” TV show would run it. They would flock from all parts to eat some of Freshman’s delights. So Ray told everybody. They weren’t really listening. Neither was Ray. His heart was in the right place but his brain was in his wallet. That’s what old Jim Ballast told folks as he sold them boiled lobsters.

It went quiet for a while. The club remained open. Then the sign went up.

“The Fisherman’s Club will be closed from 10/04 for renovation. Signed – The Management.”

The locals were shocked but resigned. The club closed at the end of the week.

One month later it reopened. The drafty windows replaced. The leaking roof fixed. The walls painted. Nothing else changed. On the grand reopening night the management appeared. It was the grandson of Charlie Simpson. Made his money in chemicals. Back home for good he says. Even bought Ray’s old place. The locals weren’t half pleased.

The tourists still have nothing to see in Gunnerdale Cove. However, they’ll always get a warm welcome at the club.

These 333 words are my “Club” inspired entry into the Trifecta Week 82 writing challenge. 

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Trifextra 72 – Holiday Blues

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Fred and Ginger watched attentively.

Her box appeared.

Damn! thought Ginger. That place again!

Fred liked holidays with them.

“Hurry, they’re being collected shortly.”

“Ginger! Fred!”

Ginger purred smugly. Fred barked in horror.

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These 33 words are my entry into the Trifextra 72 writing challenge. 

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Journey’s End

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERATrees cower in submission to the bullying forces of nature. The rain drives down. It’s freezing and worse than that it’s soaking. My coat claimed to be waterproof. Then how come ice tinged water is running down the boney trough provided by my spine? These regrettably expensive shoes aren’t fairing much better. I might as well have come out in a pair of toeless sandals. You get the picture. I’m wet through. I’m miserable. Always happens when I go there.

The weather seems worse than ever. The water filled clouds have sucked most of the light from the day. Gives me the creeps this place. Muggers Alley they call it. Even on a brilliant summer’s morning you can barely see more than a few steps ahead. Out of the gloom a door. My hands tremble. A knock. A pause. Nothing. Then a voice.

“McTavish Dental Surgery, Do you have an appointment?”

These 150’ish words form a first person perspective tale dedicated to the recently departed Scottish writer Iain Banks. I hope he isn’t spinning in his grave at this insult. As an aside it is also my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

Friday Fictioneers – He Who Laughs Last

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Their poster said it all.

“The world famous Gumdales”

Rosie and Ted joked around from the day they met. Soon the world’s premier husband and wife clown act was born.

That was 20 years ago. The laughs had steadily turned to heckles. Bar mitzvahs replaced distant dreams of Broadway.

The “hole in the piano” routine had served them well. It was Rosie’s turn to be pulled through today. Ten minutes later the audience at the art centre still awaited a reappearance.

Outside a car sped away. Through the hole the centre’s jewellery display case lay empty.

The Gumdales truly were now world famous.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Trifecta 81 – Hill of The Poisonous Tree

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He’d arrived during what should have been a beautiful summer’s day. Through a rip in the transport’s canvas covering he could see pavements, parks, buildings. They were deserted. A once prosperous capital city of half a million people reduced to an empty shell. Everyone had left. They had all been made to leave. He was coming back and knew exactly where he was going.

He became prisoner 54. No longer a name. Just a number. He didn’t know how he survived those first days.

“Confess!”

“Traitors. Name traitors!”

It’s all they wanted. They never stopped asking. He’d had no choice. The screams of his childhood friend reminded him nightly of that decision. They had only lasted minutes. They would remain with him forever.

Most others would stay chained all day. Prisoner 54 had a job. He mopped up after the seemingly continuous torture sessions. Was it a reward for all the names? Perhaps this was his torture. Whatever the body was capable of producing he had to clean it up. He had to watch it spilling onto the stone floor of the interrogation chamber.

The stench in the tiny wash room was overwhelming. A cracked light on the wall flickered. The electricity supply stubbornly unreliable since brother number one claimed power.  As he sent the grime from his brush down the blood soaked grill his suffocating layers of guilt weren’t so easily dismissed. He wondered whether he should end it. They were always being watched but it would only take a moment. The cleaning bottles. Perhaps if he drank one quickly?

No. He didn’t have the courage for that. He was sure they would come for him soon anyway. That was the ending he deserved. A quick way out was for better than him.

“Traitors. More Traitors!”

54 was almost out of names. Almost out of time. There were only two left. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t bring his parents here. They weren’t traitors. What did that matter? None of them were.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 81 writing challenge. This unapologetically shocking story is dedicated to the 12,273 people known to have lost their lives in S-21. Otherwise known as Tuol Sleng or the ‘Hill of the Poisonous Tree’, this Phnom Penh genocide centre was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

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Only three survivors had the chance to tell their stories. What happened in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 is often forgotten. If told some would scarcely credit it did happen. It did. The world should never forget. The estimated two million people who lost their lives under the Khmer Rouge regime deserve better.

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