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.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Keeping the sand at bay

Yesterday I broke one of the Robinson Family's iron-clad rules - never venture abroad without something to read. 'twas a small matter concerning a car light-bulb and I didn't expect to languish. Nevertheless I spent 15 min. alone in the intellectual desert of a car dealer's showroom.

Not even an outlet for Skodas (my car) but for Mitsubishis. One Mitsu is called a Shogun and that's plainly ridiculous.

New cars smell mainly of tyres. Acrid and quite strong. With an admixture of coffee since I was close to an operative percolator. But I'd just had my daily intake at home.

Adjacent was a Mitsu SUV and the French windows through which it had passed. Get that small journey wrong and it would cost you; the cack-handed employeee would surely be fired.
The SUV was inhumanly clean; once sold it would never be that clean again. A sort of automotive virginity. Yet such cleanliness was of course essential: for it to be indoors was parodoxical, to be dirty as well would offend decency.

Let into the showroom floor was the Mitsu logo - three lozenges forming an inverted Y. Clever but somehow unsettling, the hint of an optical illusion. I looked instead at my hands and decided for the thousandth time they were not those of an artisan.

Ah! My keys!

WIP Second Hand (38,860 words)

Until then (Balogun had) been genial and authoritative. Attentive to his guest. Composed. Now his shoulders slumped and his shaven cannonball of a head bent forward, hiding his face. Francine heard a tiny whimper. Then he straightened up.

“Easier for me. My father took the greater risk.” He laughed unconvincingly. “All these reminiscences. You must think I’m very self-centred. But there is a reason. You are that reason.”


  1. As one of the Robinson clan, on Tuesday I spent time in two different hospital waiting rooms and read through a fair amount of Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of blue Eyes downloaded onto to my iPad Mini, which for all practical purposes is the same as a Kindle.

    Hardy handles suspense well, frequently leaving you with a cliffhanger, (literally, in one instance in this story), and not only in major dramatic moments, but also matters of minor plot development. This extract sounds like one of those pivotal moments where Hardy would have left the reader for a while to pick up another part of the story. The detail in the extracts you are showing is well observed - the kind of stuff that makes the reading worthwhile for that content as much as the plot and any deeper message promoted by the book.

  2. Did you have any kind of note-taking facility for these observations? If not I'm quite impressed at the exercise of memory. I once spent a longish period waiting in the car studying a bi-lingual colour chart of watercolour paints which was all there was. It was quite rewarding.

  3. Sir Hugh: Not being a Hardy fan (blame O-level English in 1951) I wasn't even aware of that title. I am impressed by your discoveries about suspense. My memories of The Trumpet Major (the set book in 1951) are so dim I can neither confirm nor deny this. Only the supreme irritation I felt about the three characters he'd gathered together for his eternal-triangle story.

    I appreciate your comments about Second Hand. As I mentioned before the trick is to pick a short passage that I hope has some intrinsic interest but which does not give away significant aspects of the plot. Eventually though I suspect I shall be forced to reveal the big transition in Francine's life. Or will I?

    Lucy: My compliments on the inference your question poses. Yes I do have a tiny note-book, strangely named Guide Dogs, a gift from VR who received it as an even stranger gift from her mother. It was used in the car showroom although memory also played a part.

    Every so often I like to compile a post from four or five separate minor personal incidents. I am quite good at recognising their relevance as they occur but I have the devil's own job recalling them if I don't use some sort of mnemonic. Hence the booklet.

    The water-colour chart experience sounds too good to let languish here in Tone Deaf comments. Admittedly it presents you with one of two literary options: transmutation or acute selectivity, but you have shown in the past you are capable of both, perhaps the two in combination. If as you say it was "quite rewarding" (ah, a long, long essay could be written about the British relationship with that qualifier) for you I'm sure it would be for us. During a rainy afternoon, perhaps.

  4. Yes! I love hearing about Lucy's water-colour chart. Dear Roderick, I'm sorry, I've been reading posts lately on my tablet and every time I leave you or anyone else a comment it disappears. But I have been here, though it appears otherwise!

  5. The Buick dealership waiting room was horrid (notice past tense). I'd be forced to sit with TV-addicted patrons. Try reading over tawdry talk shows. Ugh.

  6. Beth: Your news is quite agonising; in fact neither your comment nor Rouchswalwe's showed up in my inbox. I feel like Sir Edward Grey ("The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time") although I hope my experience is limited only to his first sentence. I shall now rush away to The Cassandra Pages and leave something tiny, equivalent to a Yeti track in the Himalayas.

    RW (zS): I agree, reading would be impossible. As I mentioned to Lucy I made notes - it is one way of rising above the gogglebox.