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.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Wheels squeak into motion

Suddenly the blocked drain that is Second Hand freed itself and in six weeks I wrote 10,000 words. Any good? You be the judge:

Unemployed in London, Alan Pratt, Francine's erstwhile squeeze, becomes news editor of a weekly  in Plymouth (the original Plymouth! - see above). Francine visits him.

He spread the newspaper out on the table. “They’re mostly kids, you know. Often nothing more than media studies, but they’re here for the right reasons. That front-page lead – Planning dept. admits ‘stupidity’ – was put together by a nineteen-year-old from Woking. I thought her plummy accent would hold her back but on the phone she sounds like a middle-aged barrister. People quiver and give her the goods.”

“How hard did you sub her?” she asked. “I see a couple of Prattisms in the second para.”

“What Prattisms?”

“Insinuated instead of alleged, for one.”

He stared. “Is that one of mine?”

“Don’t look at me like that. As you used to say: I’m only telling you because I love you. An outright lie but you seemed to think it softened harsh editing.”

“Did it?”

“Actually, it did.”

“Now who’s fibbing?”

But she wasn’t. Those were the early days when it pained her to see 350 words she’d slaved over reduced to a brief. He’d said it unselfconsciously, dismissively even, and somehow it had worked. Kept the sentiment going during the shared BFI visits but brought it to a close, for good and all, the first time they kissed each other good night. How mechanical of him. But then men, in return, often insisted women were flibbertigibbets so she supposed it was tit for tat.

Men! They could be desired, manipulated or detested but often they seemed too crude, too obvious to be worth understanding.


  1. It is so distinctive, it's like a taste or an aroma. Of something I really like.

  2. MikeM: Thanks for that. I suppose when I boil it down "distinctive" was what I was looking for and that's why it was difficult to get re-started.

  3. I don't know enough about the character, but she seems to be sadly cynical - here's hoping she finds something worthwhile to value and latch onto.

    I sympathise with her pain at being edited, even though you (or another) have never reduced anything of mine to a "brief". That must be the ultimate indignity. Do journalists become hardened to such vicious editing or do they just fall by the wayside as a result?

  4. Sir Hugh: Journalism encourages cynicism; one is constantly up against mankind in failure mode, especially in the courts.

    As it happens, but you as you say you weren't to know, journalism is itself something worthwhile she has latched on to. It has this benefit: at its heart the work is self-contained, one is one's own creator, judge and jury, and this appeals to those who like their independence. It also offers chances to wield influence: in the example cited a 19-year-old woman has forced a local government planning department to admit it acted stupidly. This is good for all of us.

    If there's only space in the publication for 3 in. of text, no amount of bleating will stretch it to 10 in. Journalists start out writing and quickly experience being "shrunk". Later they shrink others' pieces and become more philosophical about the inelasticity of type.