Monthly Archives: October 2014

Friday Fictioneers – Table for One

ff291014We would often overhear the old woman on reception telling a caller that they were full tonight; see couples drift back into the darkness, hungry and disappointed at the ‘No tables – Sorry!‘ sign in the window.

Yet, within a dimly lit alcove, one table would remain untaken. A single place setting, one glass; a carafe of house red breathing gently in the glow of a melting candle; a single white rose.

I didn’t know the owner’s story, whether he was married, or had kids. Not sure if anybody knew why the table was always left empty – just never seemed our place to ask.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

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Friday Fictioneers – Watcher On The Shore

ff221014‘Back again, Mr McDonald?’ said the Laird of Glen Vorlich Estate.

‘I am that, Hughie,’ said Mr McDonald.

The Laird stroked his rambling, red beard. The dawn breeze buffeted his kilt. A piercing whistle saw a black and white Collie spring suddenly to his side. He nodded and smiled a gentle smile before man and dog turned and disappeared once more into the lochside mists.

Mr McDonald focused his eyes back upon the waters of Loch Corran. The heavy grey clouds rolling down from Ben Machar looked ominous. Droplets of heather-scented rain began to run down his cheeks.

He wasn’t leaving though – not until he had a photo. Only then would they believe him.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

Sunday Photo Fiction – A Fisherman’s Life

82-10-october-19th-2014We’d watch from the top of Miller’s Rise as the village fleet headed for home. Through the choppy waves west of St Madigan’s Point they’d race the trailing gulls, and each other, back to the safe embrace of the harbour.

From each vessel colourful flags would flutter. On board tired, but happy, crews would share a joke and a song as their catch was iced and readied for market. Father won the race more days than not: the Mary Jane was the leader of the fleet – her engines would whine as my father and uncle steered her clear of the rest.

One day I hoped I’d be the one leading the fleet home.

These summers the harbour in Dunavan lies almost empty. Giggling children search for tiny harbour crabs as father takes the Mary Jane, and it’s crew of holiday fishermen, out beyond St Madigan’s Point. On their return, boisterous tales of ‘the ones that got away‘ echo long into the night within the warming snug of the Red Anchor.

From the top of Miller’s Rise today I watch with my own boy, as calm seas shimmer in the orange evening haze. The race for home nothing but a memory of childhood; a memory of a time lost for the fisherman and families of Dunavan.

spf

These words form my entry into this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. 

The End is Nigh

Greig McDonaldReaders of this blog will appreciate my current passion for creative fiction laced with a generous splash of Scottish politics. However, my first love (even before ‘she who must be obeyed‘) was the gallant footballing entity that is Stirling Albion FC. Since 1980 they were a huge part of my life – games were rarely missed, and when the internet was invented I became their one and only unofficial site. For 13 years reports were filed after every game and the burning of midnight oil became a common occupation in the name of SAFC. For a variety of reasons that passion quelled in the last couple of years. I’m still not sure why. However, I think it was a combination of reasons – poor football, lack of connection with the club/team, other things to do and really just exhausted mentally after so long writing about our travails.

So where is this leading I hear you ask?

Well this short blog entry is just to mark an important moment for Stirling Albion. We don’t change managers very often, but today saw our latest incumbent fall on his sword. Greig McDonald and his assistant Marc McCulloch resigned after our 4-0 home defeat to local rivals Stenhousemuir. Bottom of the League One table, with one win in our ten matches to date, our goal difference is a horrific -16 (13 worse than anybody else). A statistic of one first-half goal in our 13 competitive matches in 2014/15 tells the story of a problem which was never solved. It was one we had last season too, until a late burst of form saw us gain promotion via the play-offs.

So you were promoted last season and are still getting rid of your manager?

greig-mcdonaldYes. That may surprise some, but in reality promotion appears to have been the exception in what was in the main a poor tenure under Greig McDonald. The truth is that one or two results were the difference between 3rd and 5th (missing the play-offs) and we were on the right side of those results. However, fairs fair. We won promotion and we owe Greig thanks for that. Yet, the feeling persisted that something just wasn’t right. There were too many poor games. Too many scoreless first-halfs. Too many times the same mistakes were made in what was a weak division. Sadly for Greig those mistakes continued this term. A step up perhaps, but we simply had to do better than we’ve done. Four and five goal defeats at home just isn’t acceptable. The team seems to be playing with no plan, no goal, no real strategy. We don’t build on good performances, good moments. Lesson’s are never learnt.

Confession time – I never really took to Greig McDonald. Seemed a decent enough bloke, but one who was rushed into management on the back of an injury ravaged playing career. In my view he struggled to get the best out of his players and he struggled to get the best of opposing managers tactically. Just think he wasn’t ready. A lack of contacts, being too close in age to his players, a relatively blank CV – none of this helped him. Don’t think it’s the worse thing for him to move  on and get some experience at a lower lever, or perhaps as  coach. He needs be able to get the best from players and to be able to influence games more. Not writing him off, but it was definitely best for both parties to move on before our position became hopeless.

Now it is crunch time for the club. We can’t afford to slip meekly back into the basement division. We must get a manager who can inspire, organise and lead the team up the table. Hopefully we will do just that soon.

Thanks for reading.

Friday Fictioneers – Beachcombing

still-life-with-dougBilly never paid much of a mind to things – his whole life was his dog and the beach.

The pair of small, brown shoes, he’d found last week by Jonas Point, looked almost new – he hoped they might fetch him a couple of pounds.

From the top of the dunes he could see a crowd had gathered outside his hut – the door lay off its hinges. A short, round woman clutched the brown shoes – tears and anger in her eyes.

‘There he is!’ she screamed.

Billy was scared – he didn’t understand why.

His dog barked as cold rain began to fall.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Old Place

81-10-october-12th-2014It was only my second week in accounts. I was the new boy – soon there would be another, and they would be the one taking the orders:

‘Two sugars, No milk.’

‘Three sugars, extra milky.’

‘Black.’

‘Nothing for me, son.’

The stained, wooden tray wobbled as I carefully weaved through the sea of filing cabinets. I spluttered as I placed a cracked Silver Jubilee mug on the edge of Mr Heaton’s desk. A muffled thanks barely penetrated the fog as an ivory pipe rattled against his yellowed teeth.

Mr Williams and Miss Foster laughed and giggled as I approached. He was married, happily they said. She was barely out of school – younger than me. Thinking back, it seemed so innocent; now it’s all so different.

The office closed in 1994 – it was turned into luxury flats within six months. Those of us still working there were moved to a new place in the new industrial estate on the other side of town.

Mr Heaton passed away last summer. His days wrapped in fumes eventually taking their toll. Mr Williams remains happily married – he’s now a grandfather of eight. Miss Foster left after just a few months. Heard she moved to Australia – I wonder if she remembers Mr Williams.

spf

These words form my entry into this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. 

Friday Fictioneers – Last Broadcast

ff081014The veins on his forehead pulsed as drops of fresh blood trickled from between strands of matted, blond hair.

‘If you’re out there, Annie, stay away from the coast. Get to the place we used to go, before all of this. Joey is safe – he misses his mother; we both do,’ he said, calmly, into the microphone.

‘Shit, they’ve locked in on our signal. We’ve got to leave..NOW!’ I said.

The unmistakable sound of the smoke-belching machines rumbled towards downtown. Houses standing defiantly in their way were flattened; any signs of life destroyed.

‘OK, let’s go. Annie will be waiting for us,’ he said, as we bolted for the door.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

Privacy, payment, participation – the poll tax controversy

A Burdz Eye View

I’m rather liking the Maximum Eck Mark II, the version of the First Minister which, on his exit strategy, he is off the leash. His opponents might fulminate and froth at the mouth, but I suspect the public is rather liking it too.  No longer is the First Minister prepared to ignore slights and calumnies: no one is safe and the newspaper letters pages and media phone-ins are great ways for him to settle a few scores.  And make his point.  It’s the sort of communications strategy that makes minders and spinners very nervous but you can’t deny it’s having an impact.

The First Minister wrong footed everyone on the poll tax issue, including the Scottish Parliament.  Which was a little bit naughty, as the Presiding Officer pointed out.

Still, he stole a march on his rivals, treading yet again where others have feared to, by consigning the poll tax…

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Labour, wonga puppets, and the moral high ground

Wee Ginger Dug

So it’s a final farewell to the poll tax. Well, I say “farewell”, when “consigned to the bin where it always belonged” is more appropriate. The Scottish Government has announced that local authorities can no longer chase up people for outstanding poll tax debts, debts which date back 25 years. It’s a wee ha ha get it up yese from a departing Alicsammin to the British Labour cooncillors who were rumoured to have been heard licking their lips as they relished the prospect of punishing the poor who had turned against them.

Labour cooncils are beelin, because they had decided to use the increased voter registration in order to penalise people who registered in order to vote in the referendum, despite the fact that everyone, their granny, their granny’s dug, and even their granny’s dug’s British Labour cooncillor, agrees that the poll tax was malign, unwanted, and unjust. It’s better…

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Friday Fictioneers – Soul Searching

ff011014Suspicious eyes locked in as I approached. Those with almost nothing scrambled to protect what little they had. Tethered dogs snapped and snarled as I made my way through the shifting shadows. Between the last tent and the stream a skewered rat dripped its bloody, warm juices over an open fire. I should have been shocked, but I wasn’t any more.

‘Have you seen a girl, about 5’2″, short, red hair,’ I said.

‘Ain’t seen nuttin’ mister. Nobody round here seen nuttin’. Best you gets goin’,’ came the reply.

It seemed hopeless, but I’d never give up looking.

I just needed to say I was sorry.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.