Jenna and the Challenge by Michael Healy

A third installment of Michael’s story for all grandchildren everywhere
Jenna and the Challenge
Jenna the elephant was off to town to take the Royal Family
His howdah was fitted with a cover to stop the rain
And the young family members climbed up and sat down.
Clearly the rain was a nuisance to all.
Jenna was unhappy as his normal carer, Majub, was not here
Instead he had sent his son Tariq to take care.
The Head of the Royals was not coming
So they set off down the road to town.
They had not gone far when this big American car forced its way past Jenna
Jenna saw the passenger was the Head of the Royals, but worse:
The driver was Majub!
How could he let Jenna down so.
Off shot the car, spraying Jenna and all on board with mud
Grrrrr, thought Jenna. What did the future hold for him now?
A nice dry and warm car stood there just waiting to go.
No draughty saddle to mount in sun or snow.
Eventually they reached town and Jenna saw the car
Parked just where he would stand to wait the return of his passengers.
Tariq led him in front of the car to wait the return and gave him a bucket of water.
Jenna could not help but look at this fancy car, with all its shiny chrome.
He felt quite tired, with the heavy saddle and the walk he had just done.
He decided he needed to sit down, so he sat down – right on top of this new cars bonnet.
Crunch, crash, smash! Oh dear, what a mess he had made of the shiny new car.
He got up and shuffled forward to look all innocent. But Majub was there.
‘Jenna, what have you done’, said Majub. ‘This will take weeks to repair’
‘Oh good’, thought Jenna. ‘ That will teach them not to use a car’.
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WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH FUN? by Barrie Purnell

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH FUN?

What have they done with fun?
Where has all the fun gone?
Has it all been outsourced to Canton?
Is it in the library at the Sorbonne?
Does anyone know what they’ve done?

What have they done with fun?
There used to be so much more of it
Every village would have at least one eejit
A clown or a flibbertigibbet
Now I swear you can’t even find one

What have they done with fun?
Have they sold it all off to the toffs?
Who’ll waste it watching plays by Chekov?
And listening to Rachmaninov
Is that where all the fun’s gone?

What have they done with fun?
We used to have fun playing games
On see-saws and climbing frames
And calling other people names
We were free to shout and laugh and run

What have they done with the fun?
Why is everything so serious?
Now you cannot be spontaneous
Everything is unhealthy or dangerous
They have put an embargo on fun

What have they done with fun?
Has it been killed by health and safety rules
Banning skipping and conkers at schools
Telling us snowballing’s only for fools
And it’s dangerous to play in the sun

Culture by Joe Lyons

Joe Lyons – one of our ‘virtual members’ – offers this response to our trigger ‘culture’

Culture by Joe Lyons

The cultured pearls around her neck had an iridescent gleam
The smile of pride upon her lips as she took in the scene
When the people who had gathered had the chance to take note
It was all she could do to suppress the thought, not to gloat

This, the main difference between the classes present
Sometimes it is the showing and just being pleasant
With the nature of the classes all you need is self-control
And to remember as in life you are always playing a role

 

Picture credit: http://poetrygroup2015exeter.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/symbolism.html

SCHOOL REUNION by Barrie Purnell

SCHOOL REUNION

There we all were assembled in the hall,
Like we did at school assembly 50 years before,
There for a school reunion of the class of fifty two
Looking around we were indeed a very motley crew.

Some were there just to have a bit of fun,
Others to show us just how well they’d done.
Some came old long lost friendships to renew,
Others because they just had nothing else to do.

I looked around at all the haggard faces
And couldn’t fit any in their schoolroom places.
Everyone just looked so old, how could this be?
Then I remembered they were all as old as me.

It was quite a shock to see how we’d all changed
How all our body dimensions had been re-arranged.
Despite liberal use of expensive astringents
There was no doubt we’d all turned into our parents.

We had all changed so much since the days of our youth
And were unrecognizable, that was the truth,
So to avoid any embarrassment and any shame
They gave us badges on which to write our name.

Jones who lisped his way through elementary French
Was now a grey haired magistrate on the local bench.
Brown sent home for wearing luminous yellow socks
Was a vicar at St Jude’s consoling errant flocks.
Pat, not bright enough university to attend,
Was teaching children on whom the country would depend.
Julie Short, who for boyfriends could have taken her pick,
Was now an unmarried nurse looking after the sick.
And shy Danny Davis had done alright in the end
He had a villa in Spain he shared with his gay friend.
Roger who won the outstanding sportsman shield,
Was in a wheelchair following an injury on the rugby field.
Gillian Jones the schools best looking girl by a mile
Now a small rotund old lady but with the same flirty smile.
Dave the class joker, who knew many a rude recitation,
Had become a boring accountant with no conversation.
And sexy Sarah Smith who had quite a reputation
Had made marrying rich men a profitable vocation.

I renewed some old friendships and reminisced
About what we’d done in the years that we’d missed,
Promised to stay in touch and addresses exchanged
But knew future meetings would not be arranged.
We had little in common, apart from our education,
Which was simply determined by our childhood location.
Few people, allowing for expected exaggeration,
Had been very successful in their chosen occupation
Having settled for less, because they had to pay
For mortgages and children and foreign holidays.
Then a list of fifteen names were read
Of classmates who were already dead.
Nearly twenty five percent of the total class
Had not lived to see this reunion pass,
And for all of our privileged education
It did not seem that our generation
Had left our world a much better place,
Or left any lasting mark upon its face,
Apart from teenagers, drugs and rock and roll
We’d provided little food for the nation’s soul.
Most of our childhood dreams and expectations
Had been lost in life’s day to day frustrations,
And although we’d not achieved much, I confess,
We thought surviving for fifty years sufficient success.
Despite everything there was a sense we’d paid our due
Among most of the class of fifty two.

So when we left and all went our separate ways,
Having failed to recapture those past schooldays,
That school road we’d walked down full of hope in our teens
Was now just a sad boulevard of our broken dreams.
Having left school early at the age of sixteen
I’d often thought about what might have been.
Having seen what my classmates had achieved,
Even if their stories were to be believed,
Of real successes I had spotted very few
I had held my own with the class of fifty two.
It was interesting, and I enjoyed the music and champagne,
But I don’t think that I will be attending again.

Not fun, not fair #3 by Kaye Locke

Not fun, not fair #3 by Kaye Locke

He looked like a gypsy
brooding eyes and
wisps of brown curls.
How could I resist when
He invited me to waltz?

I never expected the spinning
to be so dizzying,
or the music so deafening.
He threw a curveball
And won my heart.

Then bought me candy
that sparkled in the bright lights
of the ferris wheel
where we swung high and saw clear
to our cloudless horizon.

On the rollercoaster of reality
we swooped and sunk,
and screams punctuated
the nauseating motion
Of the not-so-merry go round.

We twirled together
down the helter skelter of life
where only dank earth
waited for our landing.
Entwined, we hit the bottom.

We tried the dodgems
but couldn’t escape
our car crash lives
and ended up in a house of horror.
The dark tunnel of lost love.

Kaye Locke

They think it’s fun! by David R Graham

They think it’s fun! by David R Graham

Most of the villagers weren’t church goers. But Sundays were days of rest.
That Sunday was no exception.
It was a heatwave. No-one was inclined to do too much.
The village was quiet, and peaceful.
I was prepared. A ploughman’s, a jug of Sangria, and a bottle of white wine were cooling in the fridge.
I got comfortable on the swing chair in the shade of the chestnut tree.
The latest Lee Child lay to hand.
I was naked beneath my dress. That always got Ryan going: my own Jack Reacher; working on a day like this, poor soul.
I had just followed Lee Child’s Jack Reacher into the fourth chapter when it happened.
Several cars came over the humpback bridge and roared through the village.
They screeched round the war memorial and roared back to the bridge.
The air was rent by shouting and hollering and shouting.
Seething with anger, I strode to the bottom of the garden.
From the top of the compost box I had a clear view of the bridge.
My heart sank.
Seven cars blocked the street. Their engines running, their doors open. Rap music assaulted the air.
A crowd of yobs blocked the bridge.
Several of the yobs clambered onto the bridge. They whooped as they jumped into the river.
Two of the cars spun their rear wheels in a cloud of white smoke then raced passed below me.
They screeched round the memorial cross and raced back to the bridge.
They were having fun.
I was angry and frightened. I got down off the box and went and called the police.
The operator was sympathetic. She assured me that a patrol car would be along shortly.
The cars roared up and down the road: their drivers shouting, their horns blaring.
Twenty-five minutes later, I called the police again.
There had been several calls about the disturbance. As soon as officers were available they would attend.
My neighbours called.
We were afraid.
We consoled and encourage.
The wives and mothers wouldn’t to let their husbands confront the youths.
Two police officers arrived in a patrol car. They parked well away from the bridge.
I joined my neighbours gathered by the church.
The officers took statements.
Then they drove down to the bridge. They did not get out of their car.
They came back.
They had told the yobs to keep their speed down and not to obstruct the highway.
They advised us to call 101 if the youths caused any further disturbance.
Then they left.
The yobs watched from the bridge. They were laughing and joking and gesticulating. And they were waiting.
They waited until the patrol car was well out of sight. Then they started all six cars and began to spin their rear wheels.
The banshee wail of screeching rubber filled the air and the bridge was enveloped in a cloud of white smoke.
I went indoors and called the police.
Officers would attend as soon as they were available.
The cars roared back and forth.
Horns blared.
The yobs hollered and shouted.
Again we called the police. Again we were told officers would attend when they were available.
I went to get my book. I would have my lunch indoors.
Returning from the garden I heard a familiar sound.
I went to the gate and looked to my right.
The cars were back at the bridge.
I look to my left.
Jim Possey’s JCB was rumbling down the street. A muck grabber bucket was attached to its yellow snout.
Where’s Jim going?
What he’s doing?
Surely he’s not going to…?
It wasn’t Jim behind the wheel.
The driver wore a black boiler suit and balaclava.
I watched open-mouthed as the vehicle rolled by.
I closed my mouth and looked to my right.
The yobs were watching the JCB.
They were triumphant.
But they were uncertain about the JCB. Its gaping talon-like bale grabber and bucket looked predatory.
It was not slowing down.
The yobs saw the black clad driver.
They grew wary. They prevaricated.
They wanted to be obstructive. They stayed where they were.
The JCB stopped.
The bridge was blocked.
The driver got out of the cab.
He swung easily onto the bonnet, stepped lightly onto the grabber and dropped out of sight.
Then he stood up.
He reached both gloved hand behind his head and drew two long black sticks from the back of his boiler suit.
I jumped down; raced indoors, bound up the stairs, cleared the bed, and reached the window.
My jaw dropped in disbelief.
A black whirlwind was scything into the yobs crowded onto the bridge.
Like ten pins struck by a bowling ball they fell left right and centre before the blur of the whirling batons.
A hardcore of yobs rally; armed themselves with beer bottles, and charged.
In the blink of an eye it was over.
All of the yobs lay about the bridge as though felled by a gas attack.
Their black clad assailant returned the sticks to the back of his boiler suit; gripped the nearest yob by his clothes, hauled him to the far side of the bridge, and laid him on the verge.
He repeated that same manoeuvre eighteen times.
I thought he was finished.
He wasn’t.
He got back into the JCB and drove slowly over the bridge.
The bale grabber opened, the bucket skimmed the road, and scooped up a black Golf Gti.
The JCB did a three point turn; drove off-road, and tipped the car down the embankment.
I was in a trance.
The JCB performed the manoeuvre five times.
Then it stopped.
The driver got out. He walked across the narrow meadow; vaulted a fence, jogged across the adjacent pasture, and entered the trees on the far side.
The police arrived: in two squad cars.
They were joined by four ambulances.
To my great relief, Ryan showed up. He had a bruise on his left cheek: an accident at the base.
I told him everything that had happened.
Then I gave him the TLC we both needed.
The following morning we learned that the eighteen yobs had been knocked unconscious. Each of them had sustained at least one broken or fractured bone. All of them had been discharged from hospital the same day.
‘I imagine they’ll think twice about coming back here,’ Ryan murmured sleepily.

The End.

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The cruise ship Ocean Splendour had been at sea seven days and just entered port at Cadiz.
Penny Dixon-Wright and her daughter Carla Elizabeth, disembarked, to make their way into town. On their way back, Mrs Dixon- Wright suddenly grabbed Carla’s arm. “Look at that beautiful hat. It’s the most fantastic hat I have ever seen.”
The ladies entered the establishment to be met by a tall, long legged, black shiny haired, Spanish assistant. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“You certainly can my dear.” Penny pointed to the hat on the manikin, in the window. “I would like that hat, my dear.”
The assistant reached in and removed the hat. “You like it very much? Yes?”
“Yes. Very much.”
Minutes later she skipped out of the shop, box swinging from her hand, with a beaming smile across her face.
“I think you are happy mother, you look as if you’ve lost a penny, and found a thousand pounds.”
“I’ve never paid so much for a hat in all my life, but it sure was worth it.”
“It’s my cousin Jessica’s wedding soon after we get back,” said Carla, “It should be perfect,” she grinned. “There’ll be a few bursting with jealousy mum, you can bet.”
The following day, Mrs Dixon-Wright strutted up and down the numerous decks, like a peacock showing off her new headgear.
Suddenly an unexpected gust of wind whipped the hat off her head.
“Oh God! My beautiful hat!” she screamed, running across the deck, only tosee it fly off into the ocean.
Seconds later, passengers gasped as a crew member hit the water. “Man overboard” the cry went out.
It took what seemed an age, for the ship to eventually turn round and head back in the direction of the unfortunate seaman.
When they eventually rescued him, he was holding aloft the hat, with passengers cheering loudly.
As they hauled him back on board, the captain slapped him on the back. “Woodall, you should not have put your life at risk like that, especially, not for a bloody stupid hat. But after saying that; is there anything I can do for you?”
In reply, the crewman said. “Yes captain, you can tell me who on earth pushed me in!”