Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Friday Fictioneers — If Flowers Could Talk

Genre: Quirky fiction
Word count:100

IF FLOWERS COULD TALK

 “Happiness is living outdoors, enjoying the sun and rain.”

“How about the wind ripping off your petals, too?”

“Who’s a sarky, short-ass bunch?”

 “So would you be, if someone had cut you down to quarter size and jammed you in a vase.”

 “We assure you it’s just as painful for us.”

 “At least you can see out the window.”

 “Your water stinks.”

 “Ditto.”

 “Let’s have a competition to see who wilts last.”

 “They’d better give us dignified disposals.”

 “Hell, we don’t want cremation by bonfire.”

 “Better than rotting slowly amid stinky refuse.”

 “The compost heap, that’s the way to go.”

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright (c) Dale Rogerson

Monday Morning #Haiku 169 — Cake

Smell that fresh-baked cake;
inhale deep. Knife sinks slow,
jam oozes, crumbs tease.

Friday Fictioneers — Delinquents, 1969

Genre: Historical
Word Count: 100

DELINQUENTS, 1969    

The bus station waiting room was the in-place to hang out on Saturday afternoons, according to Anita. Two years my senior and a cross-between Raquel Welch and a rouged porcelain doll, she was the epitome of cool.

Then there was me; her shadow, stepped into a stranger’s skin for a joyride to another planet where the inhabitants communicated in unintelligible grunts and monosyllables.

Ex-borstal boys with No.2 haircuts, braces and bovver boots, roamed this planet pumped up with testosterone, looking to pick an effing fight with some poor geezer or rob the payphone for loose change.

Sensible folk queued outside.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © J Hardy Carroll  

Book Review: Enemies of the People by Sam Jordison

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a first for me, getting political online. There are some books that you wish you’d read earlier rather than later, and Enemies of the People is one such book. Not that it was available prior to the Brexit vote, or the electing of a reality TV star as President of the US. It seems we’re victims of lies and manipulation; this book tells us who the culprits are, plus a great deal more.

In Enemies of the People, Sam Jordison doesn’t pretend objectivity and, by his own admission, wrote it quickly and in anger.  On the front cover are the words “We’re all screwed and here’s who to blame”, and in his blurb he holds men responsible for the whole mess: mostly white men in a temper (not including himself, of course!).

Primarily, this is a history book written by somebody who can write “more than 140 characters at a time” and sees it as a “golden opportunity to snatch back the narrative and set the record straight”. The book does not go into great depth but is a series of snapshots of fifty people whom the author feels have had the greatest negative influence on our society. These include certain British prime ministers and US presidents, past and present; current members of parliament;  deranged dictators; people on the Rich List (some skilful, some moronic); founders of religions, from the relatively sane, through to extremist sects, down to the plain screwy; royalty, with William the Conqueror thrown in for good measure, and a closing chapter dedicated to a medical charlatan/founder of a commercial radio station, who almost became governor of Kansas in the 1930s and could be seen as a metaphor for our times.

Of the fifty people mentioned, not all of them are wholly bad or lacking in areas of brilliance, but I’m hazarding a guess that a fair percentage of them suffer from narcissistic personality disorders (or have suffered, because they’re now dead). A few have meant well, but power has corrupted them, filling them with greed, or they’ve just lost their way.

As the author points out, by the time this book went into print it was probably out of date in some respects. Certainly the chapter about Jeremy Corbyn needs updating, although, unlike the author, I had no issue with the Leader of the Opposition having “sloped off to his allotment association’s annual get together while most of his cabinet were busy resigning following the Brexit vote”. But then, as a keen allotmenteer myself, I can’t think of a better way to get away from it all and clear my head.

In summary, I enjoyed this book in a perverse way. It confirmed what I already suspected about those in charge of our society, with all the spin, lies, hypocrisy, greed, manipulation, and contradiction. This should have depressed me, but I felt oddly empowered by knowing my enemy better. Sam Jordison’s writing is pacey, entertaining, easy to read, and peppered with wry wit.  He comes over as very passionate about truth, justice, and the betterment of society.

I now challenge him to write a book titled “Friends of the People”…

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Sam Jordison is co-director of an Indy publisher Galley Beggar Press in Norwich (www.galleybeggar.co.uk) and editor of Crap Towns. He’s a journalist for The Guardian and writes regular articles about books and publishing on their website (www.theguardian.com/profile/samjordison). He also runs the online book club The Reading Group (www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/reading-group) and the annual Not The Booker Prize.

Enemies of the People is available from all good bookshops in the UK, as well as from HiveWaterstones, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Monday Morning #Haiku 167 & 168 — Grasshoppers

Summer sun burns blue
Grasshoppers take siesta
Too hot to chirrup
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Dog swishes meadow
Grasshoppers activated
Their springs uncoil

#Home Produce 01: Redcurrant Jelly

Some of you will know that my attempt to make gooseberry jam a few weeks ago ended in disaster. I burned the sugar and ended up with dark-brown jam that smelled like a bonfire. Mister Potter was not pleased, as he’d picked the fruit and had numerous arguments with thorns in the process.

It was my job to pick the first batch of redcurrants. This involved doing battle with bindweed-imprisoned nets for two hours; no blood drawn and 2 lbs of fruit yielded. Since then, Mister has picked another batch, which I’ve put in the freezer to make some jelly for Christmas.

So here’s how to make redcurrant jelly without burning it, even if (like me) you don’t own a preserving pan but use a large stainless steel saucepan instead…

  1. Match the weight of sugar to the weight of redcurrants — 2lb (900g) of each is a manageable quantity. Unrefined golden caster sugar or soft brown sugar are best.
  2. Wash the fruit in a colander and leave the stalks on (my son will kill me if he reads this, as he spent an hour removing the stalks, only for me to discover afterwards that this wasn’t necessary).
  3. Put the sugar in a warm place.
  4. Slowly bring the fruit to the boil in the pan, continuously pressing down the fruit with a spoon to squeeze out the juice. I use a wooden spoon. This takes about 10 minutes. If you get bored, read a book while stirring but don’t set fire to the pages.
  5. Take pan off the stove temporarily and add warmed sugar, stirring until totally absorbed.
  6. Turn on the oven (Gas Mark 3/Electric 170 C) ready for heating jars. Boil the tops of the jars in a saucepan of water for 10 minutes.
  7. Bring mixture up to rapid boil. Boil for 8 minutes (no need to keep it at maximum heat — just bubbling nicely, like a witch’s cauldron). Important to keep stirring throughout. Read some more of your book!
  8. Tip the mixture into a large nylon sieve and press the mixture through into a large bowl. If you want a totally clear jelly, you’ll need to line the sieve with a double layer of gauze, so the jelly drips through, but obviously this takes longer.
  9. Put your jars into the oven on a tray for 5 minutes.
  10. Pour jelly into warmed jars (with them removed from the oven, of course!).
  11. Cover jars with waxed discs, or put a piece of baking parchment on top of the jar, screw on the lid, then trim the parchment to look tidy.
  12. When the jars have cooled, store them in a cupboard until required. Once you’ve opened a jar, keep it in the fridge.

Monday Morning #Haiku 166 — Petunias (02)

Good year no snails
Petunia profusion
Stripes dizzy the eye

Friday Fictioneers: Out-Twitted

Genre: Quirky fiction
Word Count: 100

OUT-TWITTED

“Madam, I’m not trying to nick your trinkets!” squawked the indignant magpie.

 Lady Annabel prided herself on speaking bird language. “Then why do you keep pecking at my window?”

 “I’m addicted to putty.”

 “That proves it. You intend to remove my windows, with thievery in mind.”

“Magpies’ love of shiny things is mere folklore.  Ask your neighbour, the Professor. He’s done a study on it.”

 “He’s nuts, like all academics.”

 “If you believe in folklore, I must warn you I’m alone and mourning for my mate. So you’d best avert your eyes from me, or I’ll curse you with sorrow.”

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright (c) Janet Webb

Monday Morning #Haiku 165 — Hydrangea

Flowerheads gone potty
Flamboyant pink hydrangea
Roots plan mass breakout

Friday Fictioneers — Art Installation, AD 2316

Genre: Post-apocalyptic science fiction
Word Count: 100

ART INSTALLATION, AD 2316

 Welcome to the tri-centenary celebration of life on Old Earth.

 Item 1: Wooden desk, whitened with paint to disguise the murder of a tree.

 Item 2: Plastic writing implements to poison the oceans and scribble out fish.

 Item 3: Metal paperclips to imprison tree-paper.

 Item 4: Sticky substance to glue tree-paper to tree-paper.

 Item 5: Two soft toys…

 “Mother, what are they?”

 “They’re birds called penguins. They used to inhabit the South Pole of Old Earth before it boiled.”

 “Are those two the only ones we rescued?”

 “No, my child, there were real living penguins…”

 “Without deflector shields, you mean?”

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 Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © Claire Sheldon

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