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                 Let Me Tell You a Story

If you missed the Bards latest story published in the Lancashire Post recently then here is your chance to realize just what you might have missed!                                                    
                               Joker’s Wild!


Tommy Pye loved nothing better than a good practical joke. From a very early age, many an unsuspecting victim had been the recipient of his dubious talent. Miss Kilner, in his last year at primary school, had been the victim of one of his earliest japes. When opening her desk top each morning she was often rewarded by the sight of a rosy apple or a box of chocolates. Such occurrences had been commonplace for such a well-loved teacher and as such gave her little surprise. However, on this particular morning, when opening her desk top, the sight of an enormous green frog, which on realizing a possible escape route, had leapt from its temporary prison, landing squarely on Miss Kilner’s rather ample decolletage before disappearing from sight. The poor woman was never quite the same again and it was months before she ever dared to open her desk top again. While the rest of the class hooted with laughter at the sight of Miss Kilner attempting vainly to retrieve the now bemused amphibian, young Tommy Pye gazed nonchalantly at the ceiling, his face the picture of pure childish innocence.
His years at big school failed to dampen his enthusiasm for his jocular antics. The Mayor of Barton Bottoms found this out to his cost when making the ceremonial kick off when the school reached the final of a local youth soccer competition. Tommy had somehow managed to substitute the football with a cleverly disguised and hollowed out pumpkin. The space created replaced by that well known substance that when applied abundantly, makes all vegetables grow much bigger.
The attempted kick, if this had been a real football, would no doubt have seen it soar the length of the pitch. The fact that it was in fact a pumpkin, filled with the stuff that makes the grass grow tall in Texas, now shattered into a hundred evil smelling fragments, covering the mayor and his startled entourage with its noxious contents. After the initial shock of the botched ceremony, the mayor’s eyes focused on his once gleaming chain of office. The look on his effluent stained face conveyed the fact to the assembled crowd that it would never be quite the same emblem of corporation authority again.
While the handful of spectators appeared to enjoy the spectacle of witnessing the discomfort of the rather snooty mayoral retinue, now covered with the universally acknowledged though rather smelly growth accelerant, young master Pye, his face the picture of youthful innocence, surveyed the scene as if it were just a normal everyday occurrence in Barton Bottoms…
As he entered adulthood, his love of the practical joke never diminished. In fact, his japes became more sophisticated. Like the time when he convinced his brother William that he had become a multi-millionaire. It was such a simple plan and yet its resultant affect was quite spectacular, unless of course you just happened to be the unfortunate brother of Tommy Pye.
It was William’s birthday and Tommy had invited him round to his flat for a celebratory meal. Among the assorted presents was a lottery ticket purchased by Tommy for his brother’s big day. As the draw was imminent, Tommy suggested that they watched it on TV. As the first number was drawn, William laughed aloud and announced,
‘Blimey, I’ve got that one. Only need another five to go with it and that Porche will become more than just a dream that would never be fulfilled.’
As chance would have it, the second number out just happened to be on William’s ticket, and somewhat unbelievably so was the third, fourth and fifth as well. With his hand shaking agonizingly, William tried to convey the current situation to his apparent unconcerned brother, who was sat opposite, nonchalantly reading the Lancashire Post and taking not the slightest notice of the drama that was unfolding in front of him. It was only as the sixth corresponding number was announced that William found his voice. His joyful cry of ‘Eureka’ would have made Archimedes sit up and take notice. However, the initial reaction from Tommy was to inform his now animated brother that North End had won again.
When it was eventually realized that William was now a potential multi-millionaire as this had been a double rollover week, Tommy’s immediate advice to his brother was to contact the Porche dealership and order the car of his dreams. William nodded in his somewhat befuddled state and before Tommy could stop him had also ordered top of the range cars for all the family as well as two crates of the finest champagne…
Now what do you imagine is the surest way of bringing someone down to earth, who for the past hour or so had been cavorting wildly on cloud nine? Well, I guess that informing his brother that it had all been a cleverly conceived practical joke would be a hard one to beat. Tommy had made a recording of a previous lottery draw and had then purchased a ticket adding the six winning numbers of that particular draw. Unbeknown to his brother he had then played the recording as though it was a live broadcast of that night’s draw. It took almost a year for William to forgive his brother and trying to convince the car salesman that it had all been a huge mistake had not gone down well either. (He’s still waiting for someone to collect the unopened bottles of champagne) …
It was some years later that William and his wife Angela became the proud parents of twins, a boy and a girl. On the day that William was to register the births, both he and his wife had been struck down with a virus that was doing the rounds in Barton Bottoms. Tommy’s offer to do the honours was of course met with a certain amount of scepticism, but his assurance that he would never turn such an important task into a joke was reluctantly accepted.
William had written the two names down and instructed Tommy not to deviate from what he had written. The naming task completed, Tommy returned to tell William and his wife that it had all gone pretty well. The addition of the word ‘pretty’ gave William some cause for concern and he pressed his brother to explain further. It appeared that he had lost the paper on which the names had been written and had decided to ‘wing it’. William and his wife exchanged anxious glances before asking Tommy what names he had given to the registrar.
‘Denise for the girl,’ he informed the sceptical parents. They looked at each other and appeared reasonably happy at this quite respectable choice.
‘And for the boy?' They enquired in tandem.
‘De Nephew of course. I thought that would have been pretty obvious,’ he answered while making a hasty exit from the hail of household missiles that were hurled in his general direction…
Now could anybody have been so insensitive than to have played such a trick on a sibling? Of course not. From a safe distance, Tommy informed the concerned parents that what he had told them originally was not true. William Pye and his wife were somewhat relieved then to receive the official letter from the registrar - until they opened it that is. They really should not have been that surprised when the contents of the letter informed them of the names that had been registered by Tommy.

                                                          Kate and Sydney!

                      The Dying of the Light

Day 1   
The idea came to me during the night. I had been experiencing the terrible torment that visits even the greatest storytellers from time to time. It is commonly known as ‘writers’ block’, but in my case it was more of a personal literary cul-de-sac. My last story had been completed almost a year earlier and I had never gone so long before another masterpiece would pop into my head. Indeed there had been periods in the past when ideas and story plots were tumbling from my brain faster than I could commit them to paper (or the PC).
However, last night had been different from my usual dreamless slumbers. It was as if all the Muses from ancient Greece had visited my bedside and imparted their combined wisdom, giving me the idea for a unique story that would have universal appeal, gaining me legendary fame and perhaps fortune as well and might even be published in the Lancashire Post.
I could not wait to rise from my bed as the first feeble fingers of dawn crept through the window. I dressed quickly, washed and shaved with alacrity, devoured my breakfast with unnatural haste and in record time I found myself seated in front of my trusty computer.
I realized that speed was of the essence. The once vivid words and images were already beginning to blur and fade despite the continuing presence of the Muses who anxiously urged me to type in my password and commence committing to the machine that fantastic plethora of words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters that would surely herald my overnight literary success; an accomplishment that had taken me many decades of blood, sweat and tears to attain. Flirting with fame had been a dream that appeared to be just out of reach; achieving it now in my twilight years was a distinct possibility.
I logged into my computer and opened my STORY FILE. All my previous stories were set out before me in alphabetical order. I created a new document and was about to commit all those wonderful block-busting words to the opening page when I realized that before commencing, my magnum opus would require an eye-catching title - Mmm.
It was proving difficult to place the story in a suitable category. It contained aspects of virtually all human emotions including romance, humour, pathos, drama, but most of all it was undoubtedly the nerve-wracking suspense that each carefully crafted word would promote, holding my readers in that literary spell beloved by all writers of not being able to set aside the tale until the last word had been read.
The task of creating a suitable title for my story was proving daunting and though I grappled with a number of possibilities, none of the ideas that raced through my brain gave me any great satisfaction. The tension was eased somewhat when my wife Daphne brought me a cup of tea and a fig roll.
Feeling refreshed, I resumed my task. Somewhere in the far reaches of my mind was a belief that a line from a poem by Dylan Thomas would make a suitable title. I vowed to do a little research on his works in the sure and certain believe that this would reveal the line that I was searching for; in the meantime I knew I must commit at least the opening words of my story to the machine before they deserted me. I had already been aware that the once clear vision of the nine Muses was beginning to blur around the edges and without their assistance then I knew my literary task was doomed to fail.
It had been a struggle, but at least I had committed the opening paragraphs of my story to the safety of the computer. As I signed off for the day, I comforted myself in the firm believe that during my coming slumbers, those nice Grecian ladies, the daughters of Zeus, would work their magic for me once again.

I awoke a little later than usual and spent the first five minutes trying to work out what day it actually was. After a hurried breakfast I switched on the PC and wasted another five minutes trying to remember my password, fortunately Daphne had remembered it. I read and reread those opening lines a thousand times; knowing even then that their composition was as good if not better than anything that the Bard of Avon himself had ever written. It was unfortunate that the words that followed, although satisfactory, were nowhere near as ground-breaking. There had been little help from the Muses over the past few nights. Oh they had appeared as expected but seemed more intent in spouting poetry or playing their music rather than helping me.
Despite the setbacks, I somehow managed to compose a couple of sentences but if anything they were of a lower standard than my earlier efforts. Even the appearance of my wife with a cuppa and a biscuit failed to revive my listless spirits. I decided to call it a day and retired to my bed early.

Much later
I was roused from a deep and dreamless sleep by whatsername shaking me vigorously. I missed breakfast, mainly because I forgot where the cornflakes were kept. Again I struggled to open the thingy and for the life of me couldn’t locate the STORY WOTSIT until that kind lady did it for me. As I once again read what I had written, I realized that the opening lines made little sense to me although the rest of my tale was promising. I had just finished deleting them when the lady came again with a drink and a snack. She was not best pleased when the cup fell from my shaking fingers onto what she told me was a new carpet. The incident made me angry so there was no more writing that day and again I retired early.

Later still
The woman was shaking me again and asking if I intended to stay in bed all day. I gave it some thought but after seeing the look on her face decided I had better get up. I didn’t shave that day as someone had hidden my new safety razor. When I told the woman (who is she anyway) she just laughed and said I was going doolally and that my electric shaver was where it had always been.
I knew there was something urgent that I should have been doing but couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was. I decided I’d ask mum what it was I should be doing – she always knows.
It was then I noticed the new ‘telly’. I didn’t like it. There were no buttons to press or knobs to twiddle with, just a board in front of it full of numbers and letters. The woman (I don’t like her) came over and did something with the numbers and suddenly there was a picture, but it was just a lot of writing. Then I remembered; I was writing a story – but why was it on the telly? I got mad ‘cos I couldn’t understand.

I asked the woman for some paper and a pencil so that I could write my story, but she just laughed and said something about it being on the ‘comb peter’ (I really don’t like her; she’s to bossy. I’m gonna tell dad when he gets home from work at Dick Kerrs).
I threw the tea on the floor when that bossy woman brough it in. She knows I always have orange squash in the afternoon. Then she started to cry but it was all her fault anyway. And where’s mum? She’s always home from Vernon’s Mill before now. I’m frightened as everything is so strange and unfamiliar and I can’t find my school satchel anywhere. Mr Hunt will be cross if I don’t do my homework and I’ll probably get the cane. It’s not fair; it’s not my fault either.

Much, much later
Why am I in this strange house in this big bed. This is not South Meadow Lane; we’re out in the country somewhere; are we on holiday? I like holidays but not in the country. I like Blackpool best, down at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, fishing for crabs in the big pool. Mum doesn’t like it much as she says that the pub gets more attention from dad than she does. I always laugh when she says this, only I haven’t seen her or dad for ages. That silly woman is always fussing about though. Saw her yesterday talking to a man about a home; perhaps were going back to South Meadow Lane again and mum and dad are sure to be there. Yes, that will be it.
The stupid woman has given me some sheets of paper and says that it’s my story. I don’t remember writing it. She says it hasn’t got a title yet, but I can’t see it very well – It must be the dying of the light!

If you like stories with a twist then our resident bard has written a number of books with tales more twisted than a corkscrew. To find out more then go to Page 4d for a list of all his very readable books.