I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

More help needed

Plutarch is presently writing short short stories. I don't understand the short story rationale, don't read them by choice. Is this one? I don't know. It's 377 words long which is, sort of, cheating


The pensioners hadn’t much money; he drove them to the Welsh coast, more often to Blackpool, occasionally Whitby. Coming back they sang old-fashioned songs like Lambeth Walk and teased him when he pulled in to service stations. “Does the driver want a wee-wee?” they asked. When the collection box went down the aisle it came back with a scattering of 20 p pieces. But he didn’t mind. With them he was supporting a tradition.

Football fans were noisier and hung their scarves out of the bus windows. They drank lager and their high spirits made it difficult to tell whether their team had won or lost. Occasionally one would be sick and others would use The Sun to wipe it up. Then there’d be a couple of fivers in the box. They didn’t seem to know real tunes: sang parts of pop songs, ad jingles and chants they used during the game. Football didn’t interest him but he liked their enthusiasm.

Kids? He’d always liked kids. They mimicked each other, sometimes cleverly. Others stared out as if seeing the promised land.

It was this lot he hated. Older than pensioners, but the men dressed in suits or proper tweed jackets. The women’s white hair carefully arranged, well-worn rings on their fingers.  At six they opened Sainsbury bags-for-life and took out Tupperware boxes. Unpacked tomato sandwiches wrapped in film and held them between thumb and forefinger as they ate. Those without Thermoses drank Malvern water, tipping the bottle into their mouths, never encircling the neck with their lips.

Returning, they rarely talked about what they’d seen. But they did talk, endlessly. About their dogs and cats, restaurants and the perfection of their grandchildren. Some dozed, others asked him to enable the overhead lights so that they could read – often, hardbacks.

He disliked their restraint. As if they were only half alive. He suspected they disapproved of what he liked but would never say so. The collection box revealed single pounds from each of them. They knew all about tipping.

Sweeping out the bus at the depot he picked up a discarded ticket which had cost £28.50. Elsewhere a programme revealed his passengers had heard music pitched in D minor. He wondered if any of them knew what that meant.


  1. It is a short story. Does it need a rationale? It's nearly poetry too.

  2. Julia: I'm going to hang on to that judgement. I greatly appreciate it.

    Rationale. There is much b/s talked about short stories. They are supposed to be almost perfectible for one thing; certainly the few I have read (by acknowledged experts like Tolstoy, Katherine Mansfield, William Trevor) have a strange inconclusiveness. "Aims" would have been a better word. Actually I was quite pleased with what I had written since it required great powers on the part of the reader to make it seem non-inconclusive.

    Thanks again.

  3. I think the best short stories are vignettes, just mere slices of life, as if viewed by the reader from a swiftly passing train. And like that passenger, the reader is left to flesh it out as their imagination and experiences (or post-prandial mood) dictates.

    Given that subjective point of view, I think you've succeeded with this story. Now, if I just had a decent wine to accompany this tasty sliver of cheese.

    Julia said it better than I have.

    (Off topic: I keep adding your blog to my list of those I follow and Blogger keeps removing it when I sign out. You guys fighting, or something?)

  4. So glad you have put your toe in the water again. As with the earlier story you showed me, it is clear that you know what a short story is instinctively if you are not entirely appreciative of the form. Crow' s definition hits the spot - slices of life. I' m looking forward to more and pow wow in The Retreat.

  5. The Crow: A slice of life, yes. But it's the shaping that's mystified me - both as a reader and now as a writer. This things seems to fit some kind of pattern I'm only barely conscious of. The bus driver observes different kinds of passengers and then we observe him - but this latter only in a minute sort of way. Two facts are presented quite baldly and we are required to figure how they fit in. How we do so is up to us.

    Plutarch: There was a real-life stimulus to this, being passengered back from Birmingham after a concert. I think the success (as in other fields) depends to some extent on new and original observations. I am particulrly pleased with the sentence about drinking water.