Flash fiction and floating voters

Flash Fiction Curtis Bausse

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been working hard on Perfume Island, so I wasn’t expecting to post very often, but I did think once a week, doing Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. But I think he must be busy as he hasn’t provided any prompts of late, so while I hope he’ll return before too long, here I am being unfaithful by switching to Ad Hoc, an initiative run by the Bath Flash Fiction Project. I came across it thanks to the excellent Damyanti Biswas, whose story, Picasso Dreams, was commended in the inaugural edition of the Bath Flash Fiction Competition (her interview about it is here). While Matt takes a song title as a prompt, here it’s a single word, which has to appear in a story of 150 words or less. Not all submissions are accepted, but if it is, it appears on the site anonymously and readers can vote on the one they like best. The winner gets a free entry into the next stage, the competition proper. Last week’s prompt was ‘float’, so my take on that is up there now. I won’t spoil the anonymity by posting it here now, but it’s a great way of encouraging flash fiction, so don’t hesitate to go along and vote.  There are 87 entries this week, so I don’t suppose many people plough through them all, studiously taking notes before choosing a favourite – a rigorous procedure, it ain’t. But if you read a few and vote for one that you like, maybe I’ll get a few votes coming my way 🙂 Not to worry if you can’t – I’ll post the story here in any case. Not next week, though – off for a fortnight travelling.

 

Pic’n’Post n° 33: What is the picture of?

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What is the picture of?

First of all, my apologies for skipping last week – an emergency to deal with, thankfully resolved as well as could be hoped for. It was a difficult picture, so many thanks to those who hazarded a guess in spite of that, namely Matt, Rosa, Charlie and Thumbup . Although no one got the exact place, Matt was closest with Pakistan. Fly 1000 kms north and you’ll be spot on, in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. 

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Congratulations, Matt!

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This week it’s back to What? at the top of this page. Happy guessing!

Ambivalence

Shopping centre Mauritius

With Black Friday a distant memory, it’s vital now to keep up the momentum with some serious Christmas shopping. Because let’s face it, unless we each continue to consume a few tons of superfluous goods, not only does life have no purpose, but we won’t be able to continue destroying the planet. I’d never heard of Black Friday until a short time ago. Now, from what I gather, it’s hit the UK big time, triggering a small but welcome movement called Buy Nothing Day. France, being France, will resist, and one part of France Black Friday will never reach is Mayotte, where Friday is prayer day and there’s nothing to buy in any case. There’s a tropical lightness of being in Mayotte that works as a positive detox from the hypermarkets in the Metropole.

Being high-minded and all, I take to heart Gandhi’s commandment to ‘live more simply so that others may simply live.’ That’s one way of putting it. Another is to be honest and admit to embracing one of the rare joys of encroaching age, the right to be a curmudgeonly scrooge. A stance I adopt with delight when it comes to clothes, say, or cars – conveniently, they interest me not in the slightest.

Not so long ago, arriving in Mauritius (by plane, having decided, after much debate, against the rowing boat) where we’d booked (iPad) self-catering accommodation, we wanted some stuff for breakfast. “Try the Super-U,” said the man at the petrol station, so we went along, without much hope because Super-U in the Metropole is generally pretty small and never open on a Sunday afternoon. But this one wasn’t just open, it was massive. And as I scurried gleefully round the aisles, stuffing the basket with Muesli, Weetabix, and dragonfruit, I said to Mrs. B. “Wow, if only we had all this in Mayotte!” I’m with you, Mahatma, honestly. But sometimes, you know, it’s not that simple living simply.

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Pic’n’Post n° 32: Where was the picture taken?

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Where was the picture taken?

Many thanks to those who sent in guesses came for last week’s picture: MattDookes, Rosa and Thumbup . And Dookes was very quick off the mark with the correct answer, a coelacanth. As Rosa pointed out, these were thought to be extinct till one was found off South Africa in 1938. Since then several have been found, the one in the picture by a fisherman in Madagascar, where it’s now displayed in the University of Tulear’s Maritime Museum along with a few other delights.

I like to have fun making the winners’ badges nice and pretty – no easy matter with a coelacanth. Though it could be said they’re so ugly that in fact they’re beautiful.

Congratulations, Dookes!

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This week it’s back to Where? at the top of this page. And since the last couple have been easy, this one might be trickier. But don’t let that put you off – happy guessing!

Pic’n’Post n° 31: What is the picture of?

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What is the picture of?

Guesses came in for last week’s picture from MattDookes, Rosa, Charlie and Maja over at Travelling Rockhopper. Thanks to all for participating! While initially Spain attracted the votes, interest soon shifted to Italy, with both Rosa and Matt homing in on Pitigliano in southern Tuscany. This was indeed the case, and Rosa, who got her answer in first, wins another badge, with Matt (yet again!) a worthy runner-up.
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As Rosa said, apart from the beauty of Pitigilano itself, the area is known for its Etruscan ruins and most impressively, I thought, the ancient pathways, “Vie Cave” or Sunken Roads, carved deep within the rock. Not to mention the profusion of mushrooms sprouting everywhere when we visited in November.

Congratulations, Rosa!

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This week it’s back to What? at the top of this page. Happy guessing!

One country, two words

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Well, back again, folks, and nice to be here – I’ve been missin’ ya! OK, I had plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, just looking at everything that’s Madagascar, which is a lot. The picture above is Madagascar, but then again it’s not. It’s just a place to rest after a hot and dusty week on the RN7 – that’s the road from the capital, Tana (Antananarivo), down to Tuléar in the south. It’s a road many people travel, but even so it was hardly overrun by tourists. More’s the pity, you might say, as the country needs all the foreign currency it can get. I could (and no doubt will) write plenty more, but two words will suffice here to convey the overall impression: poverty and friendliness. I’d been three times before, but only to Diego Suarez in the north, and for work, so I hadn’t seen how well those words sum up the whole country. In the first lies a tragic story of corruption, greed and political incompetence; in the second a moving and magnificent reaction of a whole people in the face of hardship. There’s plenty to see in Madagascar, not least a lesson in life.

Thursday Interview: Left Foot Sandal

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Thank you for receiving me, Left Foot Sandal. And I must say, I’m sorry to see you in that condition. What happened?

Oh, the usual wear and tear. I’m not getting any younger, you know. In fact, I’d say it’s the end of the road for me now. It would only require a few stitches, but when a sandal’s over the hill, cobblers just don’t operate. So it’s curtains for us, I’m afraid. The bin. Euthanasia.

Oh, that’s terrible, Left Foot Sandal! Don’t worry, I won’t throw you away. I’ll keep you as a souvenir. After all, we have all those memories to look back on. Ten years you’ve been my sturdy companion – no other sandals have come close. Why, I remember our very first outing together. The path to Santiago de Compostela. Oh, the blisters you gave me!

Well, yes, but it wasn’t very sensible to walk 200 kms the first time you took me out. And it was bad enough for you, but what about me? Positively sole-destroying. Still, we became very comfortable with each other in the end.

All those countries we’ve visited. Jungles in Malaysia, mountains in Kyrgyzstan… Not to mention the streets, the monuments, the museums.

Well, you can keep your museums. I’m sure you saw some wonderful stuff, but to me it was just skirting boards. Not that I minded much – I’m not that big on culture.

Where’s Right Foot, by the way? I was expecting to see you both.

I’m afraid we’ve fallen out. He thinks it’s my fault we’re being replaced. He says he could carry on for years if it wasn’t for me.

That’s not very nice. I thought you were inseparable.

We are, but it doesn’t stop us fighting. Politically we’re just too different. He’s so far to the right I don’t know you managed to walk straight. And quite snobbish with it. He’s got this chip on his strap about being ordinary. At times he goes off into this fantasy world and pretends he’s some sort of Louboutin. He needs to get a grip, in my opinion.

Well, give him my regards in any case. It was a pleasure to have you with me all these years.

You’re welcome. Good luck with your future travels. Up hill or down dale, just put your best foot forward.

Pic’n’Post n° 23: What is the picture of?

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What is the picture of?

I thought last week’s picture was difficult, which it may indeed have been, as it attracted just two responses, from Matt at the bookblogger2014 and Thumbup at The Playground. Thanks and congratulations: both were correct, but for the second time, Matt was runner up on the time difference. 

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Many thanks to Rosa for providing this picture of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai. It’s Thumbup’s third win, so she gets a champion’s badge.

Congratulations, Thumbup!

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This week it’s back to What? at the top of this page. Happy guessing!

Pic’n’Post n° 22

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Where was the picture taken?

Well, last week’s picture caused a bit of perplexity. Many thanks to Atthys at Speak More Light, Rosa, Matt at the bookblogger2014, Tammy at tmezpoetry, Thumbup at The Playground for their guesses. All were close, but none quite nailed it – cloves being laid out to dry. The picture was taken in Mutsamudu, Anjouan, in the Comoros Islands, where cloves are grown in profusion.    

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The question was which of the answers came the closest. After an independent panel of experts debated this for several hours, they decided that it was Tammy, with peppercorns.

Congratulations, Tammy!

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This week it’s back to Where? at the top of this page. The picture isn’t mine this time – it’s courtesy of Rosa, who kindly submitted it for this week’s challenge. She thought it might be difficult, and I tend to agree – never having been there, I wouldn’t have guessed it myself. So here’s a clue to go with it: Number 17 (for the moment). Happy guessing!

Come on! England!

Henry was too quick. Always in a rush. See the world, why not? But we saw nothing. A blur. I sneezed and missed Luxembourg, ha, ha. But then, he always was. Forty years of marriage, no time to myself, no room. Till now, that is. A space of my own – well, almost. Not as comfy as that suite in… Bruges, was it? Somewhere pretty, anyway. Henry on the balcony, beaming. ‘Oh, do cheer up, Rosemary, come on! England next!’ Did he have time to understand my reply? Probably not. Too quick, wasn’t I? ‘Not England, Henry. The sidewalk.’ Ha, ha.

In response to thebookblogger2014’s Flash Fiction Foray, with the prompt, Come on, England, by the Barmy Army in celebration of England winning the ashes (Late again – sorry, Matt!)