A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

The family gathered in the lounge to watch the weather forecast. It was a big event these days and people tended to arrange their commitments around it, often serving Turkish delight, sherry and brandy snaps, that sort of thing. The latest HD, digital, wide screen, slimline TV took longer to warm up than their old valve driven Bush model, but this didn’t prevent a rising tide of euphoria filling the room.

“It’s starting love!” cried Dad.
“I’ll be there in a minute” replied Mum.
“Hey! There’s supposed to be two presenters tonight” said young Ben.
“Two? What the hell for?”
“Well, it’s like reading the news and presenting children’s telly. The job’s too hard for just one person and what with all the spare money we’ve all got these days the bosses thought it best.”

First came the sponsorship ads; Rainy Day Umbrellas, Cool Cat Sunglasses, Percy Pig Pork Pies and One-a-Day Vitamin Bricks. For fifteen minutes Mum carefully watched and made notes for the following day’s shopping and then a trumpet fanfare, followed by two drum solos and a thirty-second recorded firework display, finally heralded the main event.

“Whoopie!” yelled young Betty.
“Quiet in the cheap seats” growled Grandpa, in his corner.

Two searchlights picked out the drawling American impresario.

“Ladies and Gentlemen-n-n-n-n-n-n-n. We now come to the highlight of the evening, a super-middleweight forecast for the United Kingdom-m-m-m-m-m-m. Introducing in the blue corner, with five correct predictions out of one hundred attempts – William... Wet and Windy... Wallis-s-s-s-s-s-s.

“Hooray! Hooray!”
“Poor bloke’s got a speech impediment” said Grandpa
“Shush Grandpa!”

And in the red corner, challenging for the UK title and already European performing prima donna of the year, having a perfect record of absolutely no correct predictions in a professional career spanning fifteen glorious years – Jasmine... Jolly Jumpers... Jack-s-s-s-s-son.

“Hooray! Hooray!”

Then the preliminaries began, the two forecasters twirling and preening for the cameras, their hair extensions shining with good health and their makeup applied with Punch and Judy puppet precision. Jasmine cleverly attracted the attention of the director to her new engagement ring (why didn’t those pesky viewers hurry up with her presents?), while William subtly lifted the tails of his morning suit and wiggled his ‘buns’ at the audience.

“That bloke’s got a fat arse” said Grandpa.
“You need your glasses changing” observed Mum.
“Aye. Yes please, another Brown Ale would go down very nicely, thanks”.

It was time for the news presenters to get involved now, and Cheshire Cat #1 soon had everyone laughing hysterically about his last perfect score on ‘Strictly Come Prancing’, while Cheshire Cat #2 reminisced tearfully about her failure to reach the televised rounds of ‘Celebrity Hex Factor’. Unfortunately, viewing figures were finally going down for these two shows, because most of the UK population were now starring in reality TV themselves. There were very few ordinary people left to watch. Everybody was a genius (went to university), a celebrity (had their pubic hair shaved off for charity) or a hero (they were too ‘challenged’ to do anything but procreate).

“I remember these two newsreaders. It’s Mork and Mindy isn’t it?”
“Be quiet Grandpa”.
“Or is it Dork and Windy?”
“Shut up!”
“Laurel and …..”

By this time there was so much badinage and merriment in the studio that the director had to step in with buckets of cold water to separate the orgiastic foursome before one of them soiled themselves. The grinning Cheshire cats were joined by a tiny sports presenter who leered madly at the cameras, whilst trying to draw attention to his latest CV, that was somewhat cleverly typed in 26pt Ariel Bold.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha. You are a wit William."
“Tee hee hee hee hee. But not as funny as you Jasmine."
"You were so good on ‘Strictly’ Micky."
“I’m such a liberal too”.
“I love you”.
“I love me”.
“We love everybody (as long as somebody else is paying for it)”

A tall man in white flannels then came in with some orange juice and bananas on a tray and the forecast fiasco took a commercial break.

* * *

By the following morning the commercial break had just about finished and it was time for the family to climb out of their sleeping bags and see what the weather had in store for them. It was a well established meteorological practice by this time to actually wait for the weather to actually occur before predicting it – the cutting edge conclusion of a three and a half million pound computer technology investment programme, begun in 2011.

“For those of you interested in the indoor snooker tournament in Hong Kong we have bravely flown out to give you the most accurate information possible” said Jasmine in her new sequinned bikini. This will be followed by further self-sacrificial flights around the world to ensure we meet our broadcasting obligations to you - the paying public. We will pause only to pick up twenty odd well known but declining TV celebrities who are currently in need of well deserved free holidays... er... I mean who are currently filming travelogues.”

“Oh for the love of God, what’s the weather going to be like?” said Grandpa, wafting away the overnight fart gas from his trousers.
“Stop distracting us Grandpa” said young Betty.

After Jasmine had thoroughly discussed yesterday’s weather in Portugal, South Africa, Mexico and the South of France with appropriate personal anecdotes, the forecast moved on to the newly popular ‘records’ section. If a new weather record had not been broken, this would in itself be a record event.

“Upper Nether Thornton in Wessex had the most rainfall over a ten minute period since records began last month” announced William.
“Lower Nether Thornton had more wind from a North by North-West direction since the Middle Ages” trumped Jasmine.
“I’m making a record with Simon Cowell” gloated William.

Then came the viewers’ photographs section, including a wonderful outdoor shot of the South Downs in the cold depths of Winter.

“But it’s only the beginning of August, William” said Jasmine.
“I know, but my house is on this one” replied William

“What’s happened to ‘Emmerdale Farm’?” said Grandpa thinking he recognised the old country cottage and was now watching the Yorkshire based soap.
“They’ve obviously moved it down to London” advised Mum.
“Oh. I was quite enjoying that storyline about the ethnic, dyslexic, gay lovers who’d just had a car crash.”
“They're getting married in hospital with matching duvets”.
“Yes, there will be plenty of that, no doubt”.

The dramatic conclusion of the forecast programme was now drawing near and the family shuffled forward onto the edge of their seats in anticipation. The studio lights dimmed and William moved to centre stage looking a bit like Al Jolson singing ‘Mammy’.

“Well, as for the much awaited UK forecast, viewers who really want to know, can get an update on my new awesome blog……..”

“What the fu..???” bellowed Grandpa.

“’Bye for now. We’ll see you again for the next show… er… forecast in half an hour”.

The presenters then joined hands in a recreation of the famous Tiller Girls Palladium routine and the station went on to its default setting.... The... Simp... sons.

Totally pissed off with the ever declining standards of modern television, Grandpa went into the kitchen and practised drawing a sharp carving knife across his throat. It wouldn’t be long now, he thought. “Good bye cruel world, and good riddance!”

And I can’t say I blame him really.

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An Irish preacher who had made his name in the village in which he lived, would make his rounds every month, walking from house to house, in order to “keep the faith,” so to speak.  He’d do so by  letting the prospective families know about the functions that the church would be having  in the coming weeks, as well as reminding them that every little bit helped when it came to financing the church.

Every month when the preacher made his rounds, he would often venture down a road that he had not walked before, out of sheer curiosity and the hope of finding another parishioner to the church’s falling congregation. One month, he made his way down a road that led straight to a pond which many people fished at during the spring and summer months. The house in question was found up a hill overlooking a pond. 

The preacher made his way up the hill and without any inhibitions at all, he knocked on the door to the house. It was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, so he thought someone might be home. A woman came to the door. 

“Can I help you?” she asked politely smiling.

 “Possibly. I’m Pastor Mickerick, Ma’am, I preach down at the old Candleton Church there on Yarder’s Road. You may have heard of us.”

“Sure, sure.”

“Well, Ma’am, if I’m not interrupting anything, I’d like to take a moment of your time, if that is alright, to talk to you about God.”

“God?  Well, now, Pastor Mickerick, I was kind of in the middle of something. I have been working on a story for a few hours now. I’m in the creative mode, if you can understand my meaning.”


“Yes, Pastor.”

“Wow, I’ve never met a writer before.”

“Yes, well, now you have, Pastor. And, I must really get back to it.”

“Ma’am, I do understand that you have your writing to tend to, but I must ask you, is it more important than gaining the chance of eternal salvation?”

“Well, I suppose it is, as I’m not really that interested in eternal salvation, Pastor, no offense.”

“Well Ma’am, certainly for the sake of your children, I would like to come in and speak with you if for only a moment about our Lord Jesus Christ, if that is alright. I do think that it will be well worth your while.”

Seeing that she is not going to be able to get rid of him without being rude the woman replied, “Well, I suppose that I can take a five minute break and have a glass of orange juice.  Would you like one?”

“Well, certainly Ma’am, I would love one.” the pastor replied smiling as if with a new sense of accomplishment.

Pastor Mickerick follows the woman who came to the door inside her house, and promptly sits down at a small table in the kitchen, after she quickly pushes some of the things that were covering the side where he sat out of the way. 

While getting the juice from the fridge and a couple of glasses from the cupboard, the woman calmly stated “You’ll have to excuse me for not being one of those women that asks a visitor to forgive the mess that they see upon entering their house. I am quite fine with my mess, actually, and Portia is as well.”

“Portia? Is she your daughter? I’m sorry, by the way, I didn’t get your name either.”

The woman turns from pouring the glasses of juice, smiling and sits down across from the preacher after returning the orange juice carton to the fridge. 

“Well, Pastor, that is because I didn’t give it to you yet. But if you must know, my name is Paige, Paige Turner, and Portia is not my daughter, she is my lover.”


“Yes, according to you churchies, we must be living in all types of sin here.”

“Yes, well, maybe we can change that. I make my rounds every month in order to spread the word of God and to inform the neighbours of Candleton Church as to what is happening as far as functions go, as they can be fun for the family...”

“What did you really come here for, Pastor? Did you come to save my soul? Did you come to tell me all about Jesus Christ, as if I haven’t heard enough bullshit about that character in my short torrid life already? Hmmm? Please get to it, as the bottom of my juice glass is becoming clearer, and when I am done, you know, I really must get back to my writing.” Paige said cutting him off.

“Well, I suppose that I came here originally, as I always do, to spread the word.”

“Pastor, I’m a writer, I come across plenty of words already. And believe me, the ones that you hold have no more or less meaning to me than any of the others.”

“I understand that now. Look, I hardly thought that in meandering up here I would stumble across a woman writer who is living in sin. You illuminate a different world for me, quite honestly.”

“A different world? Hmmm. Pastor, how can I be ‘living in sin,’ as you say, if I don’t actually believe in the concept?”

Taking a big swig of orange juice, Pastor Mickerick turned to the woman. “Can I be frank with you, Paige?”

“Just make it quick.”

“Well, for one, I don’t have any answers for you. The fact is, I don’t believe the concepts myself anymore, these doctrines that I am supposed to bash people over the head with purely because I wear this collar.” Still using his best techniques of reverse psychology, the preacher then tears off his white collar and squashes it in his hand hoping Paige would take the bait and try reconverting him. 

“Really? Well, good for you, Pastor! Look, I would really love to be part of your whole ‘losing of your faith’ thing, but you see, I work here at home, and while Portia is out, I really get my crunch time in, so if you don’t mind...”

The preacher gets the hint, realizing that Paige is not interested in the slightest, and he excuses himself from the house after thanking her for the orange juice. Paige simply locks the door behind him. 

“God, spreading the word was getting harder and harder,” the Pastor thought to himself as he made his way back down the hill. “There’s got to be an easier way to do this.” He then smiled to himself over the irony of God giving a writer a name like Paige Turner. There had to be something to this religion stuff after all.

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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