Sunday, 17 December 2017


Roger Noons

Seven-Up times two

‘Mr Spielberg, would Steven like to come to the park? My dad’s taking me and we have sleds and flasks of hot soup.’
    ‘I’ll ask, but I think he’s busy at the moment. If you’d please wait.’
    Haddon Jersey was just about to leave when the old man returned.
    ‘He says thank you for the invitation, but he’s busy filming.’
    When the boy showed no inclination to leave, smiling, Arnold Spielberg said. ‘Perhaps he could do with an assistant. If you’d care to come inside?’
    The boy beamed. ‘That’s real kind of you, Sir.’
    As they entered the sitting room they were in time to watch the train as it turned the bend, crashed and rolled over. Smoke streamed across the green carpet. Steven, crouched behind the camera, was hissing and growling. The couple waited until he shouted ‘Cut.’
    ‘I’ve brought you an assistant, my boy.’
    ‘Thanks Dad. Hi Haddon, do you know anything about eight millimetre?’
    The lad shook his head.
    ‘Right, I’ll teach you. We’ll start with lighting.’
Steven Spielberg will be 71 on 18th December. He made his first film, the derailment of his model train, aged 12.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Recruit

Allison Symes 


‘Can Jim do this?  He stares into space.’

‘Have you shown him what to do?’

‘A million times, boss.’

‘Really?  You know my powers mean I detect exaggerations a mile off?’

The elf bowed.  ‘Sorry, Santa, but we’re rushed off our feet, we need workers but if Jim can’t…’

‘Perhaps he’s scared.  You remember your first Christmas here?’

The elf blushed.  ‘Breaking the tree baubles was an accident, sir.’

‘Quite.  He didn’t mean to knock that wretched tree over.  We must move it.  See to it, then send Jim to me.  It’s time for an encouraging word.  You improved no end after you had yours!’

About the author

Allison Symes is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafelit, Bridge House and Alfie Dog Fiction.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.  A round-up of what she writes where is at  Her website is and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today -

Friday, 15 December 2017

Sad News 15 December 1966

Roger Noons

two glasses of sarsaparilla


‘You’re late Mickey?’
    ‘Sorry Min, but there is great sadness at the Studio.’
    ‘Oh dear and just before Christmas. I guessed you’d been held up making arrangements for the party/’
    ‘I can’t see there being one this year.’
    ‘What on earth has happened?’
    ‘It’s the Boss, he’s died.’
    ‘Mr Disney, dead?’
    Mickey slowly nodded his head. ‘This morning, in the hospital.’
    ‘I didn’t even know he was ill.’
    ‘He kept it from us. It was lung cancer.’
    ‘He always had that cough, but I thought it was when he got excited or was nervous.’
    Silence prevailed as Minnie stared at the window and sitting in his favourite armchair, Mickey tickled Pluto’s ears.
    ‘Will we attend the funeral?’
    ‘Yes, of course my dear, but as a mark of respect, we’ll go in black and white.’

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Ocupational Hazard

Dawn Knox

Lemon Barley Water – a favourite drink in hospital.

“Busy day?” Nurse Bunyan adjusted her cap and peered over her colleague’s shoulder at the paperwork on the desk.

“You could say that. One new admission. He caused us a few problems but he seems to have stabilised now. Derek Withers. Bed four. You’ll need to keep an eye on him tonight.”

Nurse Bunyan craned her neck so she could see bed four in the corner and winced. 

“Oh dear, he looks like he’s been through the wars. What happened?”

“Work accident. It was his first day too.”

“Building site?”

“No, Christmas tree.”

“Is he a tree feller?”

“Only in the sense that he fell out of a tree.” Nurse Boyle slapped her thigh and burst out laughing.

“But I shouldn’t laugh,” she said when she got her breath back. 

“What was he doing in a Christmas tree?”

“Sitting at the top.”

“Was it a sit-in or a protest?”

“A bit of both really. He was sittin’ at the top of the tree but after he hit the ground, he protested quite a lot.” Nurse Boyle guffawed. “Oh, I really shouldn’t laugh.”

“Well, are you going to tell me why he was sitting at the top of a Christmas tree when he should’ve been working?”

“He was working. He was the fairy.” 

“But didn’t you say he was a he.” 

“Equal opportunities. There’s no reason why the fairy at the top of a tree has to be female.”

“No, I s’pose not.” 

“Gender’s irrelevant… Shame no one asked him if he liked heights. Apparently, he made it to the top, got a touch of vertigo and plummeted to the ground.”


“Probably didn’t help that he got tangled in the tree lights on the way down. Nearly garrotted himself. It was lucky he managed to catch hold of a piece of tinsel and pull the lights from his neck. Shame the tinsel broke. He fell further down the tree and knocked himself out on a rather large bauble giving himself concussion. Unfortunately, as he hit the lowest bough, it bounced him into the wall. Multiple contusions and limb breakages.”

“Poor chap… I’ll keep a special eye on him. Who else has been admitted today?” 

“Bed two – man involved in a brawl over a tin of biscuits in a supermarket. Bed three – mistletoe poisoning. Bed five – young lad with Christmas cracker novelty up his nostril… Usual Christmas stuff.”

“Rightio. Well, leave it with me. See you tomorrow. I’m sure I’m going to have plenty to report to you in the morning.”

“Yes, I don’t envy you being on duty tonight. The staff Christmas party’s usually a very lively affair. If last year’s anything to go by, we had more members of staff in this ward the following day than in the rest of the hospital. See you bright and early in the morning…”

About the author  

Dawn’s third book ‘Extraordinary’ has just been published by Bridge House Publishing. She has stories published in various anthologies, including horror and speculative fiction, as well as romances in women's magazines. Dawn has written a play to commemorate World War One, which has been performed in England, Germany and France.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Good to Go

 Allison Symes


He looked at himself in the mirror.  It was no good.  He couldn’t put it off any longer.  The duty called.  Still he had the very best in transport and food and drinks supplies were generous.  The only problem with that was answering the call of nature but that was his problem and he’d deal with it.  The way he always did. He looked at the clock.  Yes, time to be off.  Rudolph and the others would be waiting.

If Santa prided himself on anything, it was his punctuality.

About the author

Allison Symes is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafelit, Bridge House and Alfie Dog Fiction.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.  A round-up of what she writes where is at  Her website is and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today -


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

STONE THE CROW And the unidentified flying object

Nichola Cavalier

cream soda  

Early one bright sunny summer’s morning, Stone the crow was perched at the top of the very highest tree in Willow Wood. Stone would see for miles and miles.

It was the start of the summer holidays.

Hooray, he thought, no school for weeks and weeks. No more adding up. No more algebra. No more spelling and best of all, no more Latin.

But very best of all, no more teachers telling him to sit up straight and stop pecking his desk.

What shall I do today, he said to himself as he stretched his wings and preened himself. As he looked across the tops of the trees he could see fields in the distance. They were like a patchwork quilt and right in the corner was a rather tumble down farm.

Farmer Jethro’s farm, a place Stone knew well. He’d been there many times before.

Crows weren’t welcome there as Stone was well aware. But he did have one rather unlikely friend there, Mr. Godfrey.

Mr Godfrey was a scarecrow!

On the one hand he knew Mr Godfrey would like to see Stone and have a chat. It was a lonely life being a scarecrow, standing there in the middle of a field day after day, in all weathers with nobody to talk to.

However, a scarecrow was supposed to scare the birds away not stand there chatting to them.

But unfortunately, Mr Godfrey did like to chat.

About all sorts of things, the weather, which way the wind was blowing, the colour of the sky and the shape of the clouds. Whether a storm was brewing.

Important things like that!

So off Stone flew, skimming the tops of the trees, letting the wind, which was blowing rather conveniently in the direction of Farmer Jethro’s farm, carry him along with as little effort from Stone as possible.

Crows didn’t like to use too much energy when they were flying, let the wind do the work. That’s what all young crows were taught.

As usual Mr Godfrey was standing right in the middle of the largest field. This year Farmer Jethro was growing mangel wurzles. Mr Godfrey was whistling a happy tune to himself when suddenly Stone appeared and landed all of a flutter on one of his outstretched arms.

‘Hello Mr Godfrey’, said Stone, ‘How are you today?

Being a scarecrow, Mr Godfrey didn’t have many feathered friends. He definitely wouldn’t talk to rooks, they were so noisy and badly behaved and he didn’t mind scaring them away.

And those pesky Jackdaws, well they just didn’t know how to behave at all.

But Stone, well he wasn’t such a bad fellow. And he always visited Mr Godfrey by himself. Crows tended to be solitary folk and kept themselves to themselves. A bit like Mr. Godfrey.

Still Mr Godfrey looked around rather nervously to make sure Farmer Jethro wasn’t anywhere to be seen. After all if he was caught chatting to birds instead of scaring them away, he would be sacked. And with no job what would he do. There weren’t that many openings for scarecrows these days.

‘Hello Stone,’ said Mr Godfrey, speaking very quietly. He didn’t want to take any chances. Farmer Jethro had a habit of just turning up without warning. But that’s farmers for you. They just couldn’t be trusted as far as a scarecrow was concerned.

Stone noticed that Mr Godfrey was wearing a rather fine but extremely frayed and moth eaten red waistcoat. It was decorated with fine silver braid and pearly buttons that shone in the sunshine. But it had seen better days. No doubt about that.

‘That’s a lovely waistcoat you’ve got there,’ said Stone ‘What bright and beautiful colours’

‘Yes’ said the scarecrow ‘Farmer Jethro’s granddaughter dressed me in it yesterday, she thought the bright colours might help me keep the birds away.’

‘Mmmm’ said Stone admiring the fine workmanship, ‘I bet it cost a lot of money when it was new’.

The fact that the waistcoat hadn’t kept him away he kept to himself!

Mr. Godfrey puffed his chest out with pride. ‘ Do you think it suits me, I do like to look smart.’

Stone wasn’t so sure about the scarecrow looking ‘smart’. I mean scarecrows just don’t look smart in their hand me down clothes, do they.

Mr Godfrey’s hat was an old trilby, full of holes and covered in stains. His jacket and trousers were in rags and barely covered his straw-filled arms and legs. But he did have a rather trendy white and red spotted scarf around his neck. And of course that lovely ‘new’ waistcoat!

‘You always look very smart to me,’ said Stone not wishing to offend his friend. And it certainly had been an exceptionally fine waistcoat – once.

Suddenly Mr Godfrey, started whispering, loudly,’ Oh dear, oh dear, oh deary me’

‘What’s a matter Mr Godfrey, said Stone ‘ have you lost a button off your ‘new’ waistcoat??

‘Oh dear, oh goodness me,’’ said Mr Godfrey

‘Whatever is the matter, said Stone

‘It’s Farmer Jethro, he’s in the next field, he’s coming to check his mangel wurzels,’ said Mr Godfrey all of a bother.

Stone looked round. He could just make out the farmer’s hat above the hedge. Time to leave he thought.

‘You can’t fly away now,’ said the scarecrow ‘ He’ll see you and I’ll be an out-of-work scarecrow, and then what will I do, you’ll have to hide.’

Hide, thought Stone. Hide where???He was in the middle of a field of mangel wurzels and he was far too big and black to hide behind them. There was nowhere for a crow to hide. Nowhere!!

‘Don’t panic Mr Godfrey, don’t panic, said Stone in a very panicky sort of way, ‘I’ll think of something.’

By now Farmer Jethro had arrived at the gate that led into the field of mangel wurzles.

With no time to think, Stone squeezed himself behind Mr Godfrey’s threadbare waistcoat. But his beak, which was rather large, stuck out through one of the torn button holes.

Would Farmer Jethro notice??

Stone and Mr Godfrey both held their breath as the farmer approached.

‘Don’t move a feather, Mr Godfrey whispered

Farmer Jethro came up to the scarecrow. Fortunately for Mr Godfrey and Stone he was extremely short sighted and wore glasses with the thickest lens you’ve ever seen.

‘ I hope you’re keeping all those pesky crows away,’ he said to the scarecrow in his most serious, gruff, farmer’s way ‘ Don’t want them pecking away at my mangel wurzels.’

‘No cccrows here,’ stuttered an extremely nervous Mr Godfrey.

Right now Stone’s beak suddenly seemed to be the biggest beak in the whole wide world. Possibly in the whole Universe.  And beyond.

But the farmer didn’t notice and seemed satisfied that there wasn’t a bird in sight. Well a least not within his sight! Then without another word – he never had much to say, did Farmer Jethro, he was the stern and silent type – he ambled away across the field back towards the farmhouse.

‘You better go quickly now, said Mr Godfrey ‘ he might come back, we’ll have a proper chat another day.’

Stone didn’t need to be asked twice. Crows and farmers just didn’t get on.

In his hurry to get away Stone tried to flap his wings. But the more he flapped, the more he became entangled in Mr. Godfrey’s waistcoat.

Suddenly there was a terrible ripping tearing sound.

But at last Stone was free. As he soared into the sky he took most of the waistcoat with him. Mr Godfrey’s pride and joy was stuck firmly on Stone’s beak and trailed behind him like a bright red, sparkly streamer.

Mr Godfrey cried out,’ Bring my waistcoat back, bring my beautiful waistcoat back this minute.’

But Stone decided that it was best if he headed straight home as fast as possible. So he flew back towards Willow Wood with Mr Godrfrey’s ‘new’ waistcoat streaming out behind him glittering in the bright sunshine. No matter how he shook his head, he couldn’t free himself from the waistcoat.

Near Willow Wood, the Fox family was enjoying a picnic. The little Foxes were bounding about chasing each other’s tails, as very young foxes are prone to do. Mr and Mrs Fox just lay in the grass sunning themselves. It really was a beautiful day.

‘What’s that,’ said Jemina Fox looking up at the sky ‘What’s that in the sky.’

Mr Fox looked up and saw Stone, now resembling a blazing comet in the sky, Mr Godfrey’s treasured waistcoat in tatters catching the sun’s rays and glistening brightly as it trailed behind.

‘What is it ‘ said all the foxes together.

Mr Fox who liked to think he knew everything was stuck for an answer. He didn’t know what it was.

Suddenly he had a brainwave.

‘It’s a UFO’, he said with great conviction.

‘What’s a UFO?,’ the two little foxes asked excitedly.

‘It’s an unidentified flying object,’ said Mr Fox

‘What’s an unidentified flying object?’ the two little foxes asked

‘It’s something flying around in the sky and nobody knows what it is.’ Said Mr Fox

That seemed to satisfy the little foxes, who started chasing each others’ tails again.

Next day, Mr Crow was reading the Willow News and splashed right across the front page was ‘UFO sighted over Willow Wood’

‘Well I never said,’ said Mr Crow ‘The Foxes saw a UFO over Willow Wood, you were out and about yesterday did you see it Stone??

‘No’ said Stone thinking what was he going to do about Mr Godfrey’s treasured waistcoat, now nothing more than a few brightly coloured threads dangling from various branches in Willow Wood.

 ‘What is a UFO? Stone asked



Bird scarers

In the olden days, young boys used to be employed to scare crows and rooks away from the fields. Bird scarers as they were called existed for nearly 2000 years until the early 20th century.


A large white, yellow or orange-yellow vegetable grown as food for farm animals. In some parts of the country, Punkie Night is celebrated on the last Thursday of October every year, when children carry lanterns called ‘Punkies’ which are hollowed out mangelwurzels

Unidentified flying objects

Unidentified flying objects – or UFOs as they are usually known –

Unexplained aerial observations have been reported throughout history. Some were undoubtedly comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye.
An example is Halley's Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 BC and possibly as early as 467 BC. Such sightings throughout history often were treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens.

Have you ever seen one??

Monday, 11 December 2017

Re-living the Past

Allison Symes

Breakfast Tea

I don’t know why you want me to go through it again.  I was clear enough the first time. I know what I said sounds incredible, but that is not the same as impossible. Nor would I invent such a story.  It sounds mad.  Why do you think I’ve spent so long hiding this?

You say you want to ensure you’ve got the details right.  Why?  You realise you can’t tell anyone?

You would sound mad.

I guess it’s not an easy thing to accept you have an unusual parent but, be fair, someone has to be Santa.

About the author

Allison Symes is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafelit, Bridge House and Alfie Dog Fiction.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.  A round-up of what she writes where is at  Her website is and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today -