FIRST DATE

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(A poem about our first boat trip together)

My first boat trip

Will I like it?

Never sailed before in my life!

Going through locks must be hard work

Will it be worth the strife?

The sun is shining

It could be good

The trees creating shade.

I think I may enjoy this hobby –

Oh heck! It’s going to rain!

Moor the boat!

Pull up the canopy!

This isn’t a good start!

Rain now dripping from my nose

I doubt I look the part!

Oh well, wet now!

I bet he’s changed his mind.

Make up gone and hairs a mess –

Reckon this trip could be our last time!

Now a lock – god this is hard –

Perhaps he’ll come and help –

Why is he sitting in the dry

While I’m here flogging myself!

Now the lock gates are stuck fast,

What am I going to do?

The gates won’t open fully –

Oh! Maybe he’ll get through!

Oh shit he’s stuck

The boat’s held fast

By gates on either side

Looks like we won’t get too far –

Bet that will hurt his pride!

 

(We went on to marry the following year and had many more boat trips together – all resulting in some kind of adventure!)

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The Baby Giver: A short play.

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THE BABY GIVER: A romantic comedy

SCENE – Amanda’s flat.

 (Amanda wearing faded jeans and an equally faded baggy top is lounging on the sofa in her ground-floor flat. Sitting next to her is her  friend, Sukie, who by contrast is colourfully dressed in an Aztec beaded smock, her long flowing hair encircled by a braid , skin-tight leggings and knee high black boots, her image completed by large round ‘shades’. There’s an empty bottle of wine on the table in front of them.)

Amanda:       

I’m thirty four Sukie! My clock is ticking.

Sukie:

            Well, you’ll never find a man if you sit in here every night. You need                                  to get out there and flaunt yourself!

Amanda:

But I don’t want to flaunt myself – and I don’t want a man Suke! I never wanted a man! Men are trouble and I’ve been hurt too many times by them.

Sukie:

(Laughing) Well, I’m sorry to tell you that if you want a baby you need to find yourself a man first!

Amanda:

Why?  (Sukie continues to laugh at her friend) NO! Don’t laugh at me! Just tell me why I can’t have a baby without having to take on all the rubbish that comes with a man. I’m not cut out to be the stereotypical little woman – and I can do without all that sex too! All I want is the end result – a baby!

Sukie:

Well sorry, but I’m afraid you can’t have one without the other.

Amanda:

Why not?

Sukie:

What are you suggesting – putting an advert in the local rag? ‘Fertile man wanted for one night stand?’ (Sukie throws her legs across her friend’s lap and falls back into the sofa, laughing uproariously – then she stops abruptly and sits up.) Hang on, wait a minute. You know that’s not such a daft idea!

Amanda:

Why am I stuck with a batty friend like you? Oh, to hell with it, let’s open another bottle. (Amanda gets up and crosses to the cupboard to fetch another bottle of wine)

Sukie:

It’s not that batty Mand! Think about it. We could put an ‘Ad’ online …. (Sukie, now excited, begins to mull her idea over) ….. We’d need to fix a few rules first and it would have to be worded right ……

Amanda:

(Laughing) No one would apply!

Sukie:

They would if we offer a cash incentive, they’ll come rolling in! We could ask for photos and vet them first …… just to make sure they look presentable …… and you wouldn’t need to see them apart from ‘ON THE DAY! I could do all the vetting! (She is now really excited) Come on Mand! It’s a brilliant idea! Let’s get the Ad written and we can email it off tonight! Now, what kind of man do you see as the perfect father for your child?

Amanda:

(Laughing as she tops up their wine glasses) You really are mad Suke ….  but if I was looking I’d say … definitely no bald heads – or at least they must have the capacity to grow hair …

Sukie:

(Typing into her mobile phone) N-o b-a-l-d h-e-a-d s. No bald heads!

Amanda:

… and no beards. The thought of all that dirty, rough hair rubbing across my babies face would be an absolute no-no!

Sukie:

(Typing) No …  beards.

Amanda:

 … and no smokers, I couldn’t stand the smell – not even for ten minutes … (Looking into her wine glass) the odd drinks ok – but only within reason … and most important, I wouldn’t want beer bellies!

Sukie:

(Typing) No beer bellies! (Looking at the list she has written) This is great – I’ll be Auntie Sukie before you know it!

Amanda:

Hold on, I’m not saying I’m going to agree? After all it’s me who’s going to have to ‘perform’!

Sukie:

Close your eyes and think of England! It would be all over in a flash. We won’t be asking for a marathon session – just a quick wham-bam, pay him and you’ll never see him again! And just think – the end result will be a baby! It might be worth getting a written agreement though to defer all paternity rights before you begin. Come on, let’s do it! Let’s get the advert done!

*****

SCENE – The lift outside Amanda’s office.

(The following morning – Amanda tumbles out of the lift, bumping into John Russell, a colleague)

John:

Woops-a-daisy.

Amanda:

Sorry John. I had a bad night – too much wine – wasn’t looking where I was going – sorry! (He smiles and walks on) What does he think he looks like? Who wears a Fair Isle tank top in this day and age? (She looks at her mobile phone) Nothing from Sukie yet – with luck no one will have seen the advert. Why the hell did I let her talk me into doing it? That’s what happens after sharing two bottles of wine I suppose. (Phone rings making her jump) Oh god, it’s Sukie! Hi Suke…………. What none? Good! How do you feel? I’ve had the most awful morning. First I bumped into a long haired youth sending the entire content of my handbag all across the platform – then an old lady congratulated me when she handed me back the Mother and Baby magazine I’d dropped ……….. What? ………..Oh I’d bought it to read on the train. I thought I’d better get myself up to date with parenting skills in case there were any replies………. Tonight? …….OK……..See you! Bye!

******

SCENE – Amanda’s flat

(Sukie comes bounding in full of energy)

Sukie:

We’ve got four replies!

Amanda:

WHAT! \FOUR? REALLY? What are they like?

Sukie:

Give me a chance, I haven’t had time to look properly yet!

Amanda:

Let me see!

Sukie:

No! We decided you don’t see them till ‘the day’! Remember the rules!

Amanda:

Oh come on Suke. You won’t believe the day I’ve had! I had to stand up all the way home on the train while some slick suited business type sat comfortably reading his newspaper. I wondered if he’d have been quite so unchivalrous if I’d been heavily pregnant! So go on – just a few hints won’t hurt. Age – Job – Hair? –  No baldies please Suke! You did remember to say that, didn’t you?

Sukie:

You won’t be looking at his hair Mand! It’s not his hair we’re worried about.

Amanda:

I know that – but it’s just my luck the child will take on all his worst qualities!

******

SCENE Sukie’s flat.

  Sukie has printed off the potential baby giver photographs which she now has spread out on the table in front of her.)

Sukie:

(Talking to herself) Right, let’s have a look at Man A. (she frowns) mmm ….. He looks a bit weedy – and he wears specs……. mmm …. Perhaps a bit intense …. But that could mean he’s reliable….not very fashion conscious though – but then neither is Mandy!

OK, now for Man B. (She looks at photo and frowns) Oh dear, he’s a bit rough round the edges! He’s definitely in it for the money…… Ah, he’s holding a guitar, that’s promising! (She turns up her nose and shakes her head) No, he’s definitely out. I can almost smell him from here. Mandy would never forgive me! (She gives a deep sigh) Let’s hope Man C is a bit better. Mm…..  James Bond type…..wearing a suit and tie ……. certainly looks more intelligent! This could be the one! …..But perhaps James Bond might be too flighty for Mandy; she is a home lover after all. That leaves Man D. (Nods slowly as she takes him in) Well he looks the most fun loving of the four – and cool with it. His long hair is certainly a plus ….. Well it is for me but would it be for Mandy? Well I know which one I’d choose – but sadly he’s not for me and Mandy’s never been known to have the best taste in men. Oh I don’t know! None of them look right ….. But it’s not as if she has to fall for him, she’s only seeing him once. As long as he’s presentable and has no obvious defects to pass on to the baby, any of them would do.

******

SCENE – Amanda’s flat

 (Sukie is now dressed in green leggings, high boots, a cropped purple tee and a blue leather cap on her head – while Amanda wears a dressing gown.)

Amanda:

Now you will stay in the kitchen all the time won’t you and if you hear me yell come in as fast as you can.

Sukie:

Yes, we’ve been over this a thousand times Mand, stop worrying!

Amanda:

I really can’t think why I let you organise this.

Sukie:

Because you have no other friends capable of doing it, that’s why. Who else but me cares about your welfare? (Smiles) And I want to be an auntie as well.

(The doorbell rings. They both jump up. Sukie gives a thumb’s up followed by a high five which Amanda reluctantly returns. Sukie goes towards the door, stops, pulls down her tee shirt and exits to open the door. Amanda looks terrified)

Amanda:

(Whispering to herself over and over) Baby, baby, I’m doing this for a baby. (Voices heard off) Oh, he’s coming in! I can hear his footsteps on the linoleum! (There is a tap on the door and the tension builds as the door begins to slowly open – until) JOHN RUSSELL! What the hell are you doing here? (John Russell enters wearing a Fair Isle jumper – they both stand open-mouthed, staring at each other for a few second – then Amanda bursts into tears and rushes out of the room shouting) SUKIE HOW COULD YOU!

(We hear the front door slam as she runs out of the flat into the night.)

******

SCENE – Sukie’s flat – A year later.

( Sukie, is sitting cradling a baby. She is wearing a white trouser suit)

Sukie:

So that’s how you came into the world little one. You see I kept the photo of the long haired fellow and emailed him back. I told him that, although he hadn’t been the successful candidate, there was a chance he could help another maiden in distress! At least I’d summed him up correctly; he was certainly a guy up for a laugh! Then you came along my precious.

(The doorbell rings)

Ah, at last! (She shouts) Come on up, the door is open! (Turns her attention back to the baby) Now you will be a good girl today, won’t you? It’s a very special occasion because it’s not only your mummy and daddy that are getting married today! You see after all the who-ha Auntie Amanda found out she did rather like Uncle John after all. I think your mummy might have a gift for this matchmaking business.

(Amanda looking flustered, bustles into the room dressed as Sukie, in an identical white trouser suit)

Amanda:

Sorry we’re late Suke. We were just about to leave the flat when madam here decided to fill her nappy and I had to go back and change all her clothes. Are you ready? The boys are waiting downstairs. Come on. Looks like it’s going to be a nice day!

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Stages of Woman

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I have told this story before – but I thought it may be fun to try and ‘Shakespearise’ it by using iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets – plus a little imagination!

‘Mewling and Puking’

Young Woman:  (enters)

How now old woman, why look you so sad?

Old Woman:  (sitting daydreaming)

Come hither my friend. You make my heart glad!

A far distant memory I recall,

From bygone days, when I was small.

Peering through dim eyes so far back in time

I see my mother with her hand in mine.

Young Woman: (laughing)

Forsooth for you ‘twas some time ago!

I’m surprised you still find the memory so!

Old Woman: (glares at young woman but ignores comment)

I see Ma with her bike pushing me to school

And me trying desperately to stay cool.

I remember the fear I felt inside,

But refused to cry out because of pride.

Young Woman:  (cheerily)

Your mind tosses merrily in the wind   (rhymes with find)

Keep digging deeper to see what you find!

How say you now? What more can you see?

So please you to spend this hour merrily!

Old Woman:  (thinking)

I spy a rotund man, who’s grumpy and old,

Clad in jumper of yellow, with countenance cold.

His grey hair ‘tis sparse, his red face ‘tis grim,

Fear hits my belly as my eyes fall upon him!

I peep from my hiding place on the stair,

Perchance he won’t see me sitting there!

Transported back to an age long ago

I still feel the shame and blush that ‘tis so.

Young Woman:  (excited)

Why comes he a’ knocking at your door?

What brings on your fear? Oh pray tell me more!

What did this gentleman to cause your plight?

My heart is beating with all of its might!’

Old Woman:

I was but small and to show I was brave

I took on a challenge to honour my name!

Young Woman:

What was this challenge? Oh, tell me I pray!

Old Woman:

‘Twas to knock on his door – and to then run away!

Young Woman:

How many knocks did they charge you to do?

Old Woman:

I cannot recall but ‘twere quite a few!

MAN: (enters shouting)

‘Bring that treacherous child at once to me!’

Old Woman:  (in fear)

His voice rang out loud, showing no mercy!

So draggéd was I up to the front door

My cries ringing out and fear at my core!

MAN

 ‘This wench will be punishéd,’ he cried,

‘Cut off her hands and gouge out her eyes!

Never again my door will she knock!

Away with her now, put her head on the block!

She deserves to be punishéd today!’

He turned in glee, ‘Do it quickly I pray!’

MOTHER:  (pleading)

‘Alack and alas don’t treat her so bad.’

Old Woman:

Ma’s eyes brimming over – her face so sad.

She raised her hand to hit me – but instead

Clouted the little man about his head!

He fell to the ground cursing Ma for her sin,

While she battered his head with a rolling pin!

Mother:  (angrily)

‘How dare you to harm my defenceless child!

Away with you now or you’ll be defiled!

‘Twas a harmless prank played out with mirth!

Take your sour temper home, along with your girth!’

Old Woman:

He rose to his feet, rubbing his backside,

Leaving foul words unspoken – along with his pride!

She then turned her wild eyes upon me –

I knew at that moment ’twas time to flee!

‘Forgive me Mother,’ I cried, ‘for my sin!’

‘Twas then I experienced the rolling pin!

*****

Guardian of the Forest

One morning as I was walking my dogs I saw a shape in the bark of a tree.

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Silent, suspicious, standing sentinel,

Watchful, waiting, vision keen.

Woodland guardian,

Night time gate-keeper,

Protector of wild life,

Unmoving, unseen.

Eyes alert, darting, demonic.

His statue-like form says ‘trespasser beware!’

Entry here won’t go unnoted,

Every footstep will be noticed.

Only fools will take their chances,

As perched up high amongst the branches

The guardian of the forest sits

Frozen by time.

*****

 

My Silent Noisy World

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I awake each day to a tinnitus drone

Put in my aids – then sound explodes!

I hear birdsong, the joy of children laughing,

Car engines, music and dogs that are barking.

My head’s alive with noise – but from where?

I’m not sure of the direction but I don’t care!

Checkout girls in shops think me crazy!

Waiters hover but their questions are too hazy.

‘Supply all the information, so questions they won’t need!’

This is what they tell us– but others never heed!

‘What size of glass – and would you like water?

How would you like it cooked?’

When you don’t reply they look so hurt

And give you a quizzical look.

People speak with heads turned away –

Well, you may ask, why shouldn’t they?

Or their hand hides their mouth so their lips I can’t read!

No, I’m not being rude – I just need to see!

But my real hate above all other – is BEARDS!

 

Beards should be banned or carry a warning to say –

IF YOU ARE DEAF – PLEASE KEEP AWAY!’

Gatherings I used to love are now viewed with dread.

Rooms full of chanting people – the sound amplified in my head.

When I don’t hear, people SHOUT

Making distortion more pronounced!

Then such welcome silence when I am home   –

But all I hear is the tinnitus drone!

*****

 

The Machine

     STEAMPUNK   – Horror

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 If you don’t like horror I would give this one a miss!

 Professor Shakeshaft gradually stood up unwinding his stiff muscles. He turned away from the operating table and dropped the bullet into the enamel kidney dish that his assistant held out in front of him. He then looked down at the patient lying before him.

‘That’s all I can do John,’ he said to his assistant, ‘the other bullet is lodged too deep for me to get at. If I try to remove it I could kill him.’

‘What about the machine Professor, wouldn’t that be worth a try?’

‘No John, it’s not ready. There are several adjustments that need to be made before it can be used on a patient.’

‘He’ll die anyway if you don’t use it Sir. Surely it’s worth the risk!’

‘No John, I dare not. I daren’t!’

‘But he’ll die Sir if you don’t remove the other bullet! You can’t get to it – but the machine might! That must be worth a try Sir!’

Professor Shakeshaft looked across at his assistant’s eager face, so full of youth and enthusiasm. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps it was the only way – but if it went wrong the consequences would be enormous! He scratched his head and looked once more at the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury lying on the operating table. If the machine worked he may not only save the Prime Minister’s life but he may also acquire funding for his experimental research work. Perhaps after all the young John was right!

He looked back into the young man’s anxious eyes and spoke quietly.

‘You are right John! Go and fetch the machine!’

Without any hesitation John hurried out of the room, while the professor, hands clasped, muttered a silent prayer and waited.  John returned pushing a large, ungainly object that squeaked and grunted its way across the floor of the operating theatre, until it reached the Professor’s side.

The Professor leaned his tall, gaunt body across the operating table. The flickering gaslight reflected in his small, round, rimless spectacles as he took hold of the machine’s telescopic end. His gnarled fingers positioned the implement into the open wound that had been created by the removal of the first bullet. He then strapped the contraption across the Prime Minister’s chest.

‘Switch it on John,’ he said in a soft, deep voice as he straightened his back and moved away from the bed.

John moved behind the machine and turned a dial, bringing the machine to life. It coughed and spluttered and the two men watched as blood, bone and gristle were sucked inside the machine, before running along a clear glass tube and then being deposited into a bucket by the side of the bed.

They waited for a few moments longer, until the Professor suddenly shouted, ‘It’s not going to work John! I dare not leave it on any longer – it will suck out his organs if I do! Quickly, switch it off!’

John moved swiftly across to switch off the machine – but just as he was about to do so they both heard a clang, as the metal bullet that had been sucked along the glass tube fell out hitting the side of the bucket.

*****

It had been four months since Professor Shakeshaft and John Baker had performed the lifesaving operation on Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. They stood there now, in his office at 10 Downing Street, as he pinned a medal onto each of their jackets. They felt proud and delighted that the rotund, balding and bearded figure before them was looking so well, only because of their actions.

The P.M, wearing a dark frock coat with matching waste coat, along with light grey pin striped trousers, shook them both by the hand. He then took his pocket watch out of his waste coat pocket to check the time before asking them both to take the seats set out in front of his desk. He then put on the spectacles that were hanging from a chain around his neck and peered across at them.

‘I cannot tell you gentlemen how grateful I am! I understand such an operation has never been carried out before! Pray, tell me about it Professor, please explain to me the process that saved my life. They tell me a new machine was used, one that has never been used before. Is that correct?’

The Professor explained the operation and described how he had used the machine to extract the bullet lodged close to the Prime Minister’s heart. The P.M. listened attentively and after the Professor had finished speaking he rubbed his bearded chin.

‘Remarkable! I was indeed fortunate to be in the hands of such a talented physician.’ He coughed to clear his throat before continuing.  ‘I have heard it rumoured that the machine could have other possible uses. If it could suck out a bullet lodged in such a dangerous and difficult place, then surely it could be used to suck out other foreign bodies.’ He then sat forward in his chair before lowering his voice and continuing.

‘I am going to be straight with you gentlemen – and, of course, whatever I say to you while you are in this room must never be repeated! You are sworn to secrecy. I have no need to tell you the consequences if you were to break your silence!’

The two men listened, intrigued to hear what the great man had to tell them – and as they did, fear began to grip them.

‘As you know I am keen to promote the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, enabling us for the first time to intervene between parent and child. I am also aware, while so many unwanted children are being brought into our world, cruelty will never be wiped out. Our workhouses are becoming overloaded. Each day more and more young, fallen women are being taken into them. We look after them, offering them food and work, until their bastard children are born. The girl children then grow up and produce more illegitimate children of their own and so the whole cycle begins again! It cannot be allowed to go on! It is an affront to morality! Our country cannot afford to keep these wayward women!’

‘I understand your problem Prime Minister but I don’t quite see how we can help.’

‘Ah, but you can, Professor! That machine of yours – the one that sucked the bullet out of my body – could be used to suck out these unwanted embryos! Those that are not needed could be discarded – but others could be used for research! Imagine it Professor, you would be in charge of some of the greatest experimental medicine ever done in this country! We, the United Kingdom, could be the forerunner of medical research!’

The P.Ms eyes were wild with excitement as he set out his vision for the future.

‘I’m not sure Prime Minister – it does sound a little unethical.’

‘Unethical be damned! Think of the money we will be saving with no unwanted mouths to feed! Our workhouse bills would be cut by half!’

‘I don’t know Sir.’

‘This is not a choice you have to make Professor. It has already been decided. You will be given all the funds you need to make any adjustments to your machine. You will work for your country – and you will remember that your work is top secret. This must not become public knowledge. A laboratory will be set up for you with the most advanced medical equipment. As a doctor you must realise it will offer you an enormous opportunity to help mankind!’

As the Professor and John left 10 Downing Street they didn’t know whether to be excited or to feel very afraid!

*****

It was decided the girls that had their babies aborted would stay in the workhouse forever. They would cook and clean and never be allowed to go back into the outside world ever again, so they would be unable to tell their story.

Professor Shakeshaft became engrossed with his research work on the embryos and he soon forgot about his initial dilemma. He had a wonderful new laboratory attached to the workhouse, where he and John could carry on their work unseen. Many of the embryos were discarded but those kept for experimental purposes were initially kept alive and preserved in special glass containers. These containers of different sizes lined the walls of the laboratory, and infants at various stages of development gazed out.

As they got older a research crèche was needed and it was there that infants, who had never seen the outside world, played together. During the night a few of the workhouse girls were brought in to help look after the children, not realising that one of these children could be their own, as they thought their babies had been aborted or miscarried. As long as neither the workhouse girls nor their babies left the workhouse, the research programme was safe.

There were four infants in the crèche at that time, each being worked upon by the Professor, as he looked for a cure for diphtheria. As he and John left the lab that evening and handed over to the workhouse girls, everything looked to be under control. They padlocked the door behind them and let themselves out into the dull and dingy night. The lamplight reflected pools of warmth onto the rain soaked cobbles, as they walked along Cleveland Street to their respective lodgings, chatting amiably about their work.

The following morning was cold and damp as they walked under the workhouse arch to let themselves back into the austere three storey brick building. The gatehouse porter acknowledged their passing.  Shutting out the city’s gloomy greyness they unlocked the door leading to their laboratory – unprepared for the bloodbath that awaited them!

The Workhouse Carers they had left happy and healthy the evening before, were now lying on the floor in pools of blood, their stomachs having been eaten away, leaving a gaping hole. Inside the bloody hole, curled up, sucking their tiny fingers and gurgling contentedly, lay the research babies, blood still dripping from their rosebud lips.

One baby stirred and looked up at them.

‘Mama, Mama,’ it gurgled, before snuggling itself back down into the womb.

THE END

Revenge of the Daffodils

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 THE NEWSCASTER looked very serious as he stared into the lens of the camera during the news flash.
 ‘Today the BBC have learnt that an unusual amount of daffodils have been sighted in the Lake District. One observer told of seeing at least ten thousand of the plants, which seemed to be putting down seeds beside one of the lakes. In Roman times, daffodils were thought to have special healing powers but scientists later proved they did in fact have the opposite effect, as their sap contains crystals that can severely irritate the skin.’

Bill immediately started itching when he heard this and was transported back with horror, to the time when he, as a young boy at boarding school, was subjected to the ridicule of the class clown, Simpson minor, who put sap crystals down his back, causing him to be thrown out of a history class and given a detention, for extreme fidgeting!

‘The bulbs are believed,’ continued the newscaster, ‘to have been brought into this country from the Mediterranean regions of Spain and Portugal. It is thought they have now mutated in some way and their purpose is at present unknown. However, it is possible that an invasion is imminent and we are all asked to immediately report any daffodil sightings. Police advice is ‘anybody coming across these plants should not go anywhere near them as they are thought to be dangerous’. There will be more on this topic later in our ten o’clock news programme.’

Bill Wyndworth, a daffodilologist, listened angrily to the news – his unruly red hair flopping over his solemn face.

‘This is exactly what I warned the government would happen months ago!’ he shouted angrily at the television. ‘The yellow monsters have begun their invasion! But no, they just wrote me off as a clumsy, absent minded eccentric and no one listened –  now they’ve left it too late!’

Bill had initially become interested in the small trumpeted invaders, when he had been wandering alone in Grasmere and saw before him so many daffodils, that he had to shield his eyes from their acid brightness. They appeared to be doing some sort of ritualistic dance, accompanied by a mind blowing hum, rendering him temporally paralysed and deaf as a post for some weeks.

Bill had then taken time out to research the plant. He understood many years ago the flower was supposed to symbolise friendship – but something must have annoyed them, causing them to change their mind and Bill was determined to find out what that was.

During his research he had discovered that Roman soldiers used to carry the bulb of the plant into battle with them, and if they were mortally wounded they would chew upon it, as its narcotic tendencies would allow the soldier to die painlessly. It was also a known fact that, if enclosed in a room with them, their pungent scent could induce extreme headaches – hardly an act of friendship surely!

However, what worried Bill most of all, was they were believed to be a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings!

Had they decided to change their ways and become reborn? Was rebirth the reason why they were amassing on the banks of Lake Grasmere? Could they be missing the starring role they had played in the hippy Flower Power culture of the late 1960’s?  Were activist Abbie Hoffman’s words still ringing through their trumpets – ‘We shall not die, let a thousand flowers bloom’? Do they wish to rekindle that popularity? Or are they just be fed up with being referred to by poets, as dancing, head-tossing, twinkling effeminates and wish to change their image?

People were soon ringing the BBC’s switchboard with reported sightings.

 ‘I’ve seen a crowd – no, more like a host of them! They were all marching across the field in a huge swathe. It was like a rippling river of gold, coming towards me, closer and closer! I was terrified and ran home like the clappers!’ said farmer Giles MacDonald, who was obviously still traumatised by what he had seen.

 ‘I saw hundreds and hundreds of them, fluttering and dancing in the breeze, while I was taking my little dog for her walk this morning,’ said Millicent Lilley, a very nervous little old lady. ‘They seemed to be gathering in strength as more and more appeared. They were tossing their heads as they moved along. My little Tilly started whining and hid under a bush and it took me ages to coax her out!’

Plumber Kevin Leake, with his girlfriend Tracy standing lovingly by his side, was the next to ring and tell of his encounter. ‘Because of their size we didn’t see um coming. They sort of crept up on us. We were just having a kiss and a cuddle beside the lake and beneath the trees, when they were all but on top of us. There was ten thousand of um at a guess. We just had to grab what clothes we could and run, didn’t we Babe?’

Before long the switchboards were jammed, as more and more sightings were reported. The yellow armies had been seen all over England and soon they had outnumbered the human population of Great Britain.

As they nodded their way down the country, eventually entering London, people locked their doors and hid behind their curtains, terrified these head-nodding spring assassins would enter their homes. Those unfortunate enough to be caught in their pathway were found lying in the streets chanting helplessly –  ‘I’m dancing with the daffodils! I’m dancing with the daffodils!’

Over and over and over again their words poured out, gradually driving the poor powerless creature insane, as the sticky substance that had been ejected through the daffodil’s trumpet-like corona, covered them and left them stuck wherever they fell – a tasty meal to be saved for later, to fertilise the new developing bulbs perhaps?

The army were useless. When interviewed on television one soldier admitted, ‘If we fire down on them their trumpets turn bright orange and they return with a volley of golden yellow powder, which fills the air, choking anyone within range. We tried using gas masks but they just blocked up and our goggles clouded over until we couldn’t see! Pesky little beggars! They certainly pack a punch for something so small!’

‘Are they really shooting at eighteen inch high daffodils?’ thought Bill, ‘Really? This is bizarre!’

The next morning Bill set off to catch the train to the capital, armed with his briefcase, which held the lunch box containing his sandwiches. He was dressed in the only suit he owned, a brown Harris Tweed check, teamed with a stained mustard coloured waistcoat, with a crumpled yellow cravat tucked into his neck. When he arrived in London he passed bodies littered along Oxford Street and draped over the sides of the fountain in Trafalgar Square. He’d long given up trying to give aid to these poor helpless people, as he knew if he touched them he too would become adhered. Those not totally stuck waved their arms about like chanting maniacs, as the sap began to do its work.

  ‘I’m dancing with the daffodils! I’m dancing with the daffodils’. Their repetitive, zombie-like refrain could be heard all over the city. It was as if they too, like the daffodils he had seen in Grasmere, were joining in with some type of ritualistic dancing, as the irritating powder stained their skin, leaving the helpless victims the colour of a banana, itching incessantly and begging with wild eyes for release.

Bill saw a young girl, distressed by what she was witnessing, go across to try and help someone in trouble and he had to quickly rugby tackle her to the ground to prevent her from getting glued down too. She was indignant at having been brought so unceremonially down by this odd-looking stranger and in such an undignified manner.

‘What the hell do you think you’re doing!’ she shouted as she tried to release her ankles from his grasp.

‘I’m sorry Miss but if you touch them, you will stick to them too. I was only trying to protect you.’

She soon realised Bill only had her best interests at heart and so she forgave his over enthusiasm – although, she thought, perhaps if he had been able to restrain himself a little more, it would have avoided having her new trousers ruined!

‘I’m on my way to the University of London, my dear, to try to find a solution to this problem – some sort of deterrent we could use against these confounded daffodils. Why don’t you come along with me? It’s really not safe to be alone on the streets at the moment.’

After giving it some consideration she eventually agreed, so they set off together. They looked an ill-matched couple as they walked along the London streets – Bill, looking rather like Mr Toad, with his mad professor air and ruddy country squire complexion and the young trendy, sexy girl, dressed in a smart business trouser suit, high stiletto heels, perfectly quaffed blonde hair and impeccably applied make up.

When they reached the university they found it was busy with other folk, also trying to come up with a solution – learned folk! One tall, grey haired man was standing on a platform, speaking to a group of people standing below him.

‘It has been decided those of you trying to get away from town are to be put into male and female pairs, as we believe it will be much safer to hide out in small groups, rather than one large one. Each woman will then have the strength of a man beside her if needed, and she can also play her part by supplying nourishing food to keep up her male’s strength.’

This in itself caused a great many arguments, as once all the pretty, desirable women had been used up, some of the men were not satisfied with the woman to whom they had been allotted – and indeed some of the women would not have chosen the men they were now tethered to!

Bill, and the girl he now knew as Mary, chose to be paired together as they had arrived together. They decided they would make their way to the Royal Horticultural Society at Kew, in an attempt to find a way to kill off their enemies – domestic weed killer was clearly not working! They realised they would need to find a far stronger deterrent to use on the yellow perils.

After Mary had ditched her stiletto heels for a more sensible pair of borrowed trainers, they took a couple of old bikes that had been abandoned outside the university. For a while it seemed like fun as they cycled through the country lanes chatting and laughing – and looking even more ill-suited, as Bill wobbled along on his upright ladies bicycle, complete with a wicker shopping basket, which now precariously held his briefcase.

Soon it was dark. It had been a long day and they were tired and as they cycled into a deserted village, they saw a farmhouse.

‘Bill, I’m exhausted! Can’t we stop here for a bit please and start off again in the morning?’ begged Mary. ‘We need to rest somewhere and this place looks totally deserted.’

They got off their bikes and looked around. The owners appeared to have left in haste as the front door stood wide open. Fear was rife and people were taking their families as far away as they could from the city.

They went inside the farmhouse and once they had decided it was safe made themselves comfortable. After munching on Bill’s cheese and pickle sandwiches they raided the fridge for milk, in order for Mary to make a cup of tea – which Bill managed to spill down his waistcoat, adding yet another stain to the mustard coloured garment. He then undid his shoe laces as he prepared to settle down for the night. It had been a long day and, after securing the front door, it wasn’t long before they were both fast asleep in the armchairs, with Bill accompanying the ticking clock with the sound of his snoring.

At about 3am, Mary, who had been unable to sleep with the noise, suddenly shook Bill awake.

‘I can hear something Bill!’ she whispered urgently.

Bill looked out of the window and couldn’t believe his eyes.

‘Good heavens! There are hundreds of them!’

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of daffodils surrounded the house, humming and swarming like angry bees that had been disturbed from their hive. They were pounding against the doors and spraying a sticky stream of thick yellow acid, which was dribbling down the window.

‘Upstairs, quickly!’ shouted Bill. They took the stairs two at a time – well Mary did – Bill tripped over his undone shoelaces and had to recover his composure, before he headed upstairs on all fours like an overweight bulldog. They barricaded themselves in behind the bedroom door – just in time before they heard one of the windows smash!

‘They’re in the house!’ yelled a frightened Mary, ‘They’re coming up the stairs!’

They could hear them sniffing and shuffling about outside the bedroom door. Then a sudden shrill noise made Bill nearly jump out of his skin, causing him to knock over an ornament and send it crashing to the floor and Mary to let out a scream of terror !  The high-pitched, ear-splitting sound of the alarm clock on the bedside table was going off loudly behind them! In that moment everything seemed to change. First a deathly shocked silence – followed by agonised screams from the daffodils – and then nothing!

They waited for a while, not daring to venture from the safety of the bedroom.

‘I can’t hear anything. Do you think they’ve gone?’ whispered Mary.

‘There’s only one way to find out, my dear, are you prepared to take a look?’

Mary nodded. When they finally built up enough courage to peer around the bedroom door, the sight that met them was of a staircase littered with dead daffodils. They picked their way through them and over them, as they went down the stairs hand in hand, frightened that at any moment one of these wilted weeds would come back to life and devour them.

Outside the house, they found the rest of the yellow army had disappeared and they raced for their bikes and set off again, cycling at top speed. It wasn’t long, however, before they found out where the army had gone to. They were all drinking from a stream about half a mile away and as soon as they spotted Bill and Mary they became very angry, nodding their heads madly and dancing. They began hissing and spitting and spraying yellow pollen up into the air in an attempt to choke them. Bill and Mary were coughing and struggling to breathe as the angry mobs humming noise filled their heads. Sticky acid syrup was spat at them and now hung in threads from their bicycles. As soon as this golden goo hit the metal handlebars it sizzled as its acid reacted with the bikes metal.

‘If we stay here we’ll be covered in the goo ourselves! We’ll have to leave the bikes here and try to make a run for it!’ shouted Bill.

They began to run but could see the daffodils drifting swiftly after them, a turbulent golden river, spitting out their vile smelling secretions.

Suddenly another sound filled the air and they saw a battered, brightly coloured old car, pop music blaring from its CD player, come into view as it rattled around the corner, displaying a pop band logo on the side of each rear passenger door.

‘Get in!’ shouted the long blonde haired driver, who was dressed in denim jacket and jeans and, with the car still moving, Bill and Mary leapt in the back and were off. ‘Hold tight!’ he yelled as the car jerked into action.

Beside the driver sat another young man, dressed all in black, apart from the red handkerchief that he wore pirate style around his forehead. Behind him was a young dark skinned, designer-stubbled lad, wearing Bermuda shorts and wearing enormous sun glasses – obviously a Will-i-am devotee.

The car seemed to disturb the flowers and they shook wildly, as if in a frenzy, as they tried to hide their heads to retreat from the awful sound.

The driver turned the steering wheel this way and that, hurling Bill from one side of the back seat to the other. At first he was being intimate with Will-i-am and then with Mary but there was nothing he could do about it, apart from shout out his apologies as he crashed first into one and then into the other.

As the car passed through the yellow mass it parted like the Red Sea to let them by. They were obviously shaken, but by what?

‘We’ve had no trouble with them,’ said the young driver, who could only have been about nineteen, ‘they seem either to like us or to fear us, we haven’t hung around long enough to find out which!’

‘We did lose one girl though who had gone for a wander on her own,’ said look-a-like Will-i-am, ‘but as long as we stay in the car and keep playing our music, we seem to be left alone.’

Bill thought back to the sound of the alarm clock going off in the bedroom and then to the car’s excruciating music – could it be? Could it? Could it be sound that triggered the daffodils frightened behaviour?

 He decided there and then not to go to the Horticultural Society.

‘We need to double back to London University – Music Research Department. Will you take us there young man?’

 The three young musicians’ in the car were only too pleased to take him and Mary back into the city, particularly when they knew they had probably hit upon the way to save the world! Bill needed their CD in order to have it analysed, to see what it was in their sound that had caused such a dramatic reaction from the daffodils.

Once the sound had been researched and its sound waves analysed, the musicians were quickly taken to a recording studio and CD’s were made, so the sound could be broadcast all over London – and every other city where it was needed.

Bill became a hero and the three boys, who changed the name of their band to ‘Lost Direction’, were delighted when they became an overnight success, not caring their dreadful sound was the reason people wanted to play them.

Soon hosts of golden daffodils were seen to wilt and crumble all over Britain, as their sensitive ear trumpets struggled to cope with the boy bands decibels. At first, they tried to combat the sound by raising their own trumpeting qualities but they soon realised the boys vibrations were too much for them to bear and they gradually withered and died.

This had all happened 40 years ago and Bill often reflected upon it. One day, as he lay upon his couch, in a pensive mood, his daughter Jonquilla entered the room. As he looked at her beautiful blonde hair, he was reminded of meeting her mother for the first time, all those years before. His vacant, daydreaming eyes drifted over to the window and he looked out upon the vales and hills of Grasmere once more.

The vase of daffodils that Jonquilla had placed upon the windowsill then caught his eye – and he smiled – and then he screwed up his eyes and frowned. Was there a draft – or did one of those daffodils really nod back at him?

 THE END