Skip to content

Depressing Thought – No More Public Holidays Before Christmas

I had a really depressing thought just now.  Yesterday (August Bank Holiday) was the last public holiday in the UK before Christmas Day, so not only does this herald the beginning of the end of a summer that never really began, but it’s also the start of four months without a day off work.

It’s pretty much the opposite in the USA of course, with no public holidays for many people before Memorial Day at the end of May, but then after Labor Day (1st Monday in September) there is still a 4-day weekend to look forward to at Thanksgiving.

My wife had six weeks off for the school holidays, and we went to Florida for the first 2 of those (to see my daughters), but since then we have done little apart from fixing up the house and tending to the garden, and next week she too is back at work.

As I said, it’s a really depressing thought, summer is almost over, before it really began for us.

Some years when the weather has been disappointing during the summer we do get an Indian Summer, a nice few hot days later in the year, so fingers crossed we get to enjoy a few days of sunshine in September or October, before Old Man Winter descends on us.

Getting Back In The Saddle – It’s Not Always That Easy

Normally when I return from vacation I like to get straight back in the saddle and to write about our trip, however this time I have just been too busy and too tired to think about it.

It’s been more than a week since we returned from 2 1/2 weeks in Florida, where I was able to spend some good quality time with my daughters, as well as catch up with old friends where I used to live, and also to partake of the wonderful Florida sunshine.

The problem with returning from vacation though is that you often need a break, and in our case we have not only had to get over the stress of the trans-atlantic journey, we have had a lot of work to do in the house to prepare for visitors at the beginning of September. I also find that as I get older, it’s getting harder to motivate myself to do things, and so I often put them off until such time as they become unnecessary.  Needless to say it’s not one of my better traits.

So as far as writing goes,  I have had precious few opportunities to put any decent articles together, and haven’t felt the motivation to even select the best of the holiday photographs to share with family and friends.

My writing on all sites has taken a hit too, however I have managed to make some minor updates to my Squidoo lenses, and today I jumped back in the saddle and created a new Burst on Netleeks, which I hope will do well.

My next project, before it’s too late and memories fade, has to be of course to write about my trip to Florida, and with luck I will be able to get down to it before the end of the month.

Americans Please Don’t Face East When Praying For Rain

In the UK we are well aware that much of the USA has seen a continued heatwave for weeks with above average temperatures and little or no rain in many places either. Even last year I read that parts of the Midwest were beginning to turn into a dustbowl like in the depression era of the 1930’s, however all that praying for rain is I fear a little mis-guided.

You see, while many of you, thousands no doubt, millions quite likely, are praying for rain, you are probably also doing it while facing East. Since this is not working, might I suggest you try praying for rain while facing West, North or South, or while spinning in a circle even, just like the Indian rain dancers do.

So why am I asking this?

You see, since your hot dry spell began and people in North America started to pray for rain, it began raining in the UK, and it’s been raining almost constantly for the last month or more, and there is no sign of it letting up either.

The UK had the wettest June recorded since rainfall recording began, and that was in the 1800’s, a long long time ago.

Over a week ago, Bournemouth, one of the prime seaside towns on the south coast of England, reported that this was already the 12th wettest summer since their recording began in the early 1870’s.   That was at a point not even halfway through summer!

Rolling on over a week since then, we have had more and heavier rain storms, with periods of torrential rain, thunder and lightning, large hail even a couple of days ago, and the extra rainfall must have seen this year rise even higher in the charts by now.

The people of the UK are fed up with the constant rain, floods and other disruptions, andwith the Olympic Games in London less than 2 weeks away, we need the rain to  stop so that Mister Sunshine can come and pay a visit.

So PLEASE everyone in America, if you have been praying for rain while facing East, consider doing it while facing a different direction for a change.  You never know, it might help you, and help us in the UK at the same time.



Secrets Of The Backwoods

This short horror story is one that I wrote in October 2011 and which was previously published on Yahoo Voices with the title My Woman She Cries Day And Night.  Unfortunately it was published at a time when Yahoo were having many problems, and to date the story has yet to be seen by more than 300 people.  I think that this story deserves a second chance, so while I try to come up with ideas for new stories, I hope you don’t mind me publishing an older one that I hope will find a new audience.

This is a horror story for Halloween, and it might not be suitable for those with a delicate stomach. If you are brave enough to continue reading, then welcome to my cabin in the woods.

Secrets Of The BackwoodsMy woman does nothing but cry these days. All day and all night when she is not sleeping, all she seems to do is cry. Nothing I do seems to brighten her mood in any way at all. I know that she does get lonely up here in the hills, but we should be having some company soon, I can feel it.

She is also getting rather pale of late from spending too much time indoors, but it’s too risky to allow her outside on her own in case she wanders off into the woods and gets lost or attacked by a bear.

She isn’t eating like she used to either, but then our larder has been fairly empty over the winter months. Fortunately the warmer months are coming, and with that an opportunity to venture out and restock our provisions.

You see we live in a remote cabin that is in the backwoods and virtually hidden in a hollow in the hills, and miles from the nearest road. The only company that we do get is a few campers who come to enjoy the beauty of the lake that is a few miles from here, but aside from that it can be very lonely up here.

I know that my woman misses her friends a lot too. The three of them were enjoying their summer camping trip by the lake when I came across them. The rain was so heavy that night that they were grateful for my offer to come and shelter in the cabin, and they were all drenched by the time we got there.

The sight of their lovely young bodies as they warmed and dried themselves in front of the fire pleased me, and I knew that once the storm was over that they would be spending more time here in this tranquil spot in the hills.

Although the three of them were good friends, they all had different personalities. Grace in particular I found to be very attractive. Her sweet innocence and slim shapely form contrasted with those of Helen and Elizabeth. Helen was more outspoken, and obviously the leader of the three, while Elizabeth was short , a little overweight but very curvy, and ready to do whatever Helen suggested.

There was plenty of room for them to spend the night in the basement, and while they bedded down I spent the night pondering what my new guests were thinking and dreaming about.

The rain continued for several days, almost without a break, and I could sense that Helen in particular was getting rather restless, anxious for an opportunity to leave this remote spot.

On the third day she was up early before the other two girls awoke. She left the cabin while they slept, taking her things with her. When the others woke some time later, I told them she had gone to check on their camping gear, but I knew already that she wouldn’t be coming back.

The other two girls wanted to go and look for her, but I told them that it was unsafe, that the storm would bring the bears out looking for food, and that Helen wouldn’t listen to me. So the two of them stayed that day, quietly sitting on the front porch. I had placed their shoes out of reach for their own safety to stop them from wandering off into the woods, as I didn’t want them to become food for the bears.

The three of us feasted well that night, with plenty of meat roasting over the fire. I told them it was a bear that I had caught, and they said that it was good. A warm fire and full bellies helped to dispel their fears, and although Helen had not returned, they went to sleep quickly without any problem.

It wasn’t long before they were ready to leave though, despite my hospitality, and they said that it was time for them to return to college after their camping trip, as their parents would be getting worried. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to lock the door to their basement bedroom for their own safety. I couldn’t have them falling victim to a bear or getting lost in the wilderness after all.

With their being in the basement and the cabin up in the backwoods I knew that nobody would hear their cries, and it only took a couple of days for things to quieten down again.

Elizabeth though was becoming tiresome as time went on, unhappy about spending so much time indoors, and feeling the need to pamper herself. So I allowed her out of the basement one afternoon to take a bath in front of the fire.

I watched as she slowly undressed, almost teasing me, and soon the temptation became too much to bear. She didn’t see me coming up behind her, and by the time she did it was too late to do anything, and soon she was out of the bath and spread out on the bed.

She writhed and squirmed as I feasted on her large breasts and curvy body, but she didn’t make a sound, the gag took care of that. She soon submitted to my will, and I explored every inch of her body, tasting her flesh, knowing full well that Grace and I would both be feasting well that evening and for the next few days as well.

Grace had heard nothing at all, the sleeping draft in her morning coffee saw to that and she slept through the whole afternoon. When she asked about Elizabeth, I told her that Helen had returned and needed her to go and help her get the camping equipment as it was too much for her to carry on her own.

She seemed to accept my explanation, but still looked somewhat looked troubled, and was even quieter than usual without her friends.

Grace ate little that evening, still half in a dream from the morning potion, but then a mark on a piece of meat which looked rather like the heart tattoo that Elizabeth had on her arm made her come to realize the fate that had befallen her friends. With this a panic set in, and she began to suddenly scream uncontrollably, then curled up in a corner whimpering.

That was six months ago…

The fall and winter have now gone, and spring is here in the woods again. Few know of this cabin tucked away in this remote part of the woods, so nobody came to check on the missing girls.

Grace, sweet Grace. She is getting so pale. It’s unfair that I have to lock her in the basement all alone, but I can’t allow her to be upstairs on her own when I am out, in case she tries to leave, at least not just yet.

She no longer shows any emotion when I lay with her. She just lies there, waiting for it to be over, and then cries herself to sleep.

Soon it will be time for me to go out in search of fresh supplies. I saw puffs of smoke in the direction of the lake this evening, more campers may have arrived, so hopefully my expedition will prove fruitful.

My dear Grace will be grateful for a good meal to help nourish her, after all she now has to eat for two. Soon she will be able to spend more time upstairs as well and to enjoy the sunlight, while we wait for our first child to be born.

This story was originally published on Qondio.

The Diary of Robert Scott – Surviving the Millenium Apocalypse

Volcanic Ash CloudThis prolonged period of darkness is obviously not coming to an end any time soon, and so I feel that it is my duty to record the recent events that have occurred, in the hope that one day someone will find this diary and my story will not be in vain.

So far my food is holding out, my water supply is still functioning, and I still have enough gas for several months more. However with no apparent change in the weather I am now wondering if this will be enough, and whether I need to consider breaking cover and risking a move elsewhere, or to face starvation by remaining where I am.

I guess before I continue that I had better introduce myself, and then to tell my story, should the worst happen and I not live to tell the tale.

My name is Robert Scott, and I live close to the south coast of England, in this solid and somewhat remote hundred year old farmhouse.  I live alone, at least since my wife and son were lost 17 months ago in a plane crash, which was caused by the volcanic ash cloud that has hovered over the northern hemisphere for longer than I care to remember.  This volcanic ash cloud is one of the reasons for the onset of end of the world as we know it.

When the patterns of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the globe began to increase some five years ago, I realised that one day there might be a need for us, well it was “us” back then, to be able to survive in the event of a long term disruption to the climate in Europe, and I began to stockpile various items in the cellar, just in case.

The house is supplied with water from an artesian well, and a wind turbine provides the power needed to pump it into the building, as well as providing the basic levels of electricity that I need to survive.

The major earthquake in Japan in March of 2011 was a warning to us all, and that was followed with a string of chain reaction earthquakes around the Pacific “Ring Of Fire”, and finally later that year the long overdue movements in the San Andreas fault practically tore apart Los Angeles, ironically on 21st December 2011, one year to the day before the Mayan Apocalypse predictions that had been of concern to so many.

The other tremors throughout the United States were insignificant by comparison to the 8.9 California quake, but the earthquakes have been the least of our worries here in Western Europe.

The volcanic eruption in Iceland that has been piling ash into the air for the last 18 months is what is causing the most problems here.  Around the world a succession of other volcanoes have in addition been creating their own havoc, including Popocatepetl in Mexico, Mt. Etna in Sicily and Talang in Sumatra, and air travel in many parts of the world has become almost impossible.

It has become impossible to fly in Northern Europe for instance, as well as in many parts of North America. The only way to fly to the USA now is to leave from Southern Spain, fly across to South America, where flights operate semi-regularly to the southern USA. Travel in and out of the UK has however been almost impossible for many months, and the journey to the Dover area where the transports depart is fraught with danger, not the least of which is the marauding gangs that are operating in some areas of the country.

But let me go back to where it began for us here, the volcanic eruption that occurred in Iceland 18 months ago.

The plumes of smoke and ash continued not for days, but for months, and as far as I know it is continuing even now (I have heard nothing from Iceland in five months).

Within days the cloud covered the UK, followed by most of Northern Europe, and is was far denser than that which caused the air traffic problems a few years before.

The skies have been dark ever since, and the lack of sunlight and ash that has covered everything have cast a grey and gloomy appearance on the land.

At first there was no panic, just a frustration with the need to cancel international travel plans, and the interruptions to satellite communications as a result of the density of the cloud that hung continuously overhead.

After several months with no improvement in the situation, the mood of the people turned angry, as it became obvious that crops would fail due to the absence of both sunlight and it’s warmth.

The scarcity of fresh food, the empty shelves in the stores, and the sharp increases in prices soon gave rise to a nationwide panic. People began to leave the country in their hundreds, then thousands. The French army were called in to try and stem the tide of immigrants from across the channel, but with the prospect of leaving Britain or facing starvation, the mobs forced their way south, albeit with a substantial loss of life.

Last I heard was that the military are now controlling the channel ports, the channel tunnel inoperable since the tremors off the French coast created cracks in the structure.

Had I not been well prepared and virtually stocked the cellar full to the ceiling with canned goods, I would by now most likely be one of the millions who have starved to death as their food ran out, and help did not arrive.

Every day I look out of the window, hoping to see some form of clearing in the sky, but all remains dark and gloomy, an ominous reminder of the severity of the disaster that is facing mankind.

I haven’t seen another living soul in almost a year, and almost never leave the house, for fear of being seen should a group of scavengers be in the area.

The government still occasionally send out Short Wave transmissions, which I am able to listen to on my radio, and I am grateful that the wind turbine that I installed helps to provide enough power to keep this running.

The news is not good.  The whole of the Northern Hemisphere is a disaster area, with millions already having starved to death, or having been killed as they fight rival groups for what supplies may still be left in shops that have been already looted.

Unless the sun returns to shine on us soon, mankind could indeed be facing near extinction.  Winter is fast approaching again, and I expect the bitter cold to be equally as bad as last year, with no sunlight shining through to warm the earth.  Crops have failed to grow, and many farm animals have perished due to lack of food and shelter from the bitter cold.

Provided my gas and food hold out until the Spring I may yet be ok, but if the situation does not change, then it can only be said that I did my best to survive.

If you are reading this, then I presumably failed in my attempt.
I am not a religious man, but may God have mercy on mankind.
Robert Scott

This is a short story that I wrote and originally published on Yahoo Voices, 25 May 2011.  I hope you enjoyed it.

The image of a volcanic ash cloud is from Wikimedia Commons and used under a Creative Commons license.

An Acrostic Poem For Memorial Day

This is an acrostic poem that I wrote for Memorial Day back in 2010 and originally published on Yahoo Voices.  I just wanted to share it with a new audience, in honor of all those members of the armed forces who served their country, many of whom lost their lives or came back scarred, either mentally or physically:

Memories of those who gave their lives
Every year we remember them
Mindful of their valor and sacrifice
Older every year, their comrades honor them
Remembering events and friendships
In service of their country
Always remembered, never forgotten
Less history repeat itself

Dedicated this day is
Annually celebrated
Young and old remember those brave souls

Is It Racial Discrimination When You Don’t Fit The Job?

I read an article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel last night where an up market yacht company rejected an applicant for a job, telling her that she “might not fit in with the clientele because she was black and overweight”.

The woman is now suing the yacht company for racial discrimination, and while the company ought to have been rather more diplomatic in the way that they rejected her, sometimes appearance as well as other factors do count when you are looking to employ someone.

In all honesty, the appearance of front line personnel in a company can make a huge difference in sales and whether they are successful in getting prime business or not.  Factors include the looks of the employee, the way that they dress, their personality, and their accent too.

An attractive person is more likely to be employed on the reception desk of a company than a plain or homely one, because when it comes to business, first impressions count, and if employing a good looking receptionist could make a potential difference in whether a company succeeds in getting a new client or not, what would you do if you were that company?

The same rule applies to jobs where a person might be heard but not seen, like a telephone support role.   How often have you reacted in a negative way to a company because when you called them you ended up speaking to someone with a thick accent?

Now a thick accent of course does not mean that that person was a foreigner or non-white.  It could equally be that they came from a rural area and had a strong local accent, which clients could not understand.  That can lose you business, or at least give your company a negative rating.

I have worked in an environment like that, where employees from a small town in rural England were manning a software help desk and had clients in Central and South America.  Not only did the clients in Hispanic countries not understand what they were saying and vice versa, the clients in Jamaica, Bahamas and Barbados fared no better.

Sometimes it’s a case of “horses for courses” and looks, appearance, accent, race and even religion can be a factor in whether a person is suitable for a job with a company or not.

In these times of economic doom and gloom, a company sometimes has to make decisions that can affect it’s survival, but obviously it needs to be done in the right way.

Well I have taken one side of the argument.  What are your feelings on this and which side of the fence do you sit on?