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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.
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Monday, 16 December 2013

Shackled no more

Epiphanies are moments of revelation. Fifty-four years ago, almost to the day, one happened.

That year, 1959, I was liberated. I finally left the northern city of Bradford where my adolescence had dried like a peascod. London was my playground. My job consisted of filling two magazine pages a week, more or less any way I wanted. I had met the woman I would eventually marry. The weather was unseasonally warm.

The Christmas break beckoned. I walked along Tudor Street, close to Fleet Street, then the actual and symbolic heart of Britain's newspaper industry. My companion was JM, the handsome, confident, competent deputy-editor of the magazine I worked for. We had both had a couple of sherbets.

Walking towards us on the other side of the street were two attractive women, about our age, who had also been at the sherbet. Not helplessly so: just happy, chatting. A pleasing sight. I pointed them out to JM.

He nodded. Whereupon (this is an anecdote, so whereupon is permitted) he sauntered over and presented himself. I could hear what he said: he complimented them on their looks and admitted he was consumed with a desire to kiss both of them. This, like whereupon, was permitted. He sauntered back.

I was a mere observer yet my heart overflowed with joy. Welcome proof I was no longer resident in the blackened, mean-spirited, navel-contemplating, misogynistic city of my birth. An epiphany.

WIP Second Hand (50,650 words)
During her first month Francine had worn business suits which she hoped would imply she was serious. A contributing editor, specialising in biology, and who attended staff meetings in shorts and flip-flops was the first to break ranks when he asked her, mock-seriously, whether she was looking for promotion to a higher tier of management.


  1. Sherbert has gained popularity as a secondary pronunciation of sherbet. Fizzy drink there, frozen dessert here. I await correction.

  2. I was going to comment on this too. Sherbet or sorbet is the only way I've seen that word written or pronounced and only applied to non-dairy ice cream. So I was ignorant of its colloquial use.

    The sense of liberation and exultation is captured and re-lived in this anecdote. I wondered if the four of you went on to consume more sherberts in Tudor Street?

  3. MikeM/Natalie: I gave in to an inexplicable impulse and paid the penalty. As far as I know this is the first occasion I've ever written the word (now corrected) in my life. Used here it is rather prissy middle-class argot for an alcoholic drink and I cannot now re-create the frame of mind that led me to pick it out of the ether. In fact the more I contemplate it the more irritated I become that I allowed it into Tone Deaf. It is unlikely to return so you could say the pair of you have done the world a service in helping to suppress this usage. I suppose I will have to leave the door open for its original meaning, if only for the fact that I quite like sherbet lemons - a quite ingeniously contrived sweetie.

    Natalie: I do say that my role was merely that of observer and that JM returned to my side of the street. I'm not sure the potentially carnal foursome you wonder about would have qualified as an epiphany but this may be an unjustifiably personal interpretation of epiphany.

  4. I was awaiting your correction of ME of course.

  5. Now this is a heartwarming picture you chose to remember.
    Do you know this Spanish Proverb
    'Man is fire, woman is firewood; the devil comes along and blows on them'.

  6. PS I wonder what Francine will wear to the next staff meeting.

  7. Ach, I'm in happy confusion. Not quite sure what was consumed before this wonderful encounter in unseasonally warm weather (a fizzy cocktail with a scoop of sherbet?), but the effects were marvellous. A Kodachrome moment!

  8. Ellena: Sounds sexist to me. But then one would expect the devil to be sexist.

    Francine's clothes. It's all there, later, in the same para and it's not what you'd expect. The aim of these extracts is keep readers dangling. Second Hand will probably be finished in September 2014. Trusting that I'm not finished first.

    RW (zS): I didn't aim to tell you what was consumed (sherbet is slang for booze). All I wanted was an effect; after which that you might join me in my ecstasy of liberation. All true. Which you did. Good.