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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ants Aunts and Funerals Excerpt;


Excerpt From Ants Aunts And Funerals.      Chapter Six. 

The gale played a dirge through the branches of the forbidding trees as they bent before it and threw pine cones toward the small huddle of mourners already clustered at the graveside. The wind strumming the electricity wires swaying high along the line of endless poles which followed the road and made noises similar to the final notes issued from a poorly played bagpipe.

 Ravens flew up in groups, circling and cawing creating a scene reminiscent of an old black and white gothic movie. The birds looked intimidating. They were sleek, fat creatures, well fed from gorging on the pickings from numerous rabbit and wallaby road-kills and the occasional dead lamb from the paddocks surrounding the cemetery.

 The huddling, shivering group of mourners walking holding their umbrellas in front of them for protection as they made their way slowly along the narrow gravel track. They looked like a small flotilla of boats with their bows bobbing and diving against buffeting waves.

In the old ill-kempt part of the cemetery, a large population of rabbits lived amongst the tombstones and several took exception to the presence of the mourners by scuttling away hurriedly across the paths which were overgrown with knots of weeds and prickly boxthorn bushes Their white tails flashed amongst the waving grasses and then disappeared into the burrows of large warrens dug deep beneath the graves. During the summer the rabbits and the foxes which hunted them were joined by numerous snakes. These enjoyed nothing better than to take pleasure in a luxurious snooze as they basked in the sun on warmed slabs of granite and marble.

The old part had not been cleared up for years and although the occasional tourist or person tracing their ancestors ventured through the undergrowth and roamed amongst the broken and cracked headstones, no one else bothered about it at all. Some of the most unstable monuments had already fallen and smashed while others were so worn by decades of weather and neglect they were already unreadable. The wrought iron railings with fleur-de-lis tops were rusted and bent.

So much love, care and money had been lavished on these memorials and now those buried beneath and the people who had once loved them were gone and largely forgotten.

 The town’s population was too small to afford the establishment and maintenance of a lawn cemetery. Anyone who chose to be buried in the old colonial site instead of being placed in one of the larger regional towns still erected old fashioned head stones, some of them extremely ostentatious.

  Uncle Rodger and Michael walked ahead of the women, the old man making hard going as he carefully wheeled his walking frame between the small rivulets of water running down the track’s incline.

               ‘Hello Alf.’ He called to an elderly man walking unsteadily on his bowed legs in front of them. A gust swept his voice away and the old man didn’t hear his greeting.

‘Always was a deaf old buffer.’ Uncle Rodger, who was as equally deaf, complained. ‘I said Hello Alf!’ He called loudly once more.

‘What?’ The old man turned. ‘Oh. Hello Rodger. I thought I saw you and Alice in front of me in church. Not many of us left now are there?’

His voice was gloomy, low and rasping. The indication of the prolonged years he had spent with a strong brand of unfiltered ‘roll-your-own cigarettes’ stuck to his dry and flaky lips. His clothes stank of the weed and he would often have small pieces of tobacco or ash sprinkled liberally down his front. The tell-tale burn holes in his ancient waist coat showed an indication of its age in much the same way a tree marked its age by the rings of its trunk.

Uncle Rodger ignored the remark. ‘This is my nephew-in-law Michael. He’s married to Julie, you remember?’

 He turned to Michael ‘Alf is Alice’s cousin. About the only one left from his family I think.’     From his expression, he appeared to think this was not a bad thing.

 Michael, not sure how to answer this observation shook hands with the old man and felt the cold parched skin beneath his and nodded. He thought they had met before but it didn’t really matter.

               Always one to query people’s motives, Uncle Rodger asked.

 ‘I thought you and Ken had a falling-out years ago?’

               ‘Yes we did, but well,…..  I live close by so I thought I should do the right thing and show up for his funeral.’

               ‘You in the local retirement village?’ Uncle Rodger kept firing questions at him.

               ‘Yes…… It comes to us all.’ 

               ‘Yes well, you’ll find it’s worth coming just to get a decent bite of food then.’                          A sly little smile played around his lips. He’d known Alf a long time and knew a free feed had always brought him out of his home like a blow-fly to a barbeque.

               They walked on silently after Alf found he had nothing more to say to Rodger and put on a spurt of speed; his knees lifting up and down like a badly controlled marionette.

 

 

The Vicar was walking ahead of the hearse trying to slow down the unseemly haste of the young hoon at the wheel who wanted to get home get things tidied up in the funeral parlour for the next day’s ceremony and  have time to watch the cricket match Michael was also hoping to see. The Ashes were being played in England and it made for good late evening viewing during the wet days.

       Try as he might the Vicar was finding it difficult to add some solemnity to the occasion as his surplice and cassock billowed up around him fluttering gaily in the wind. He wondered as he walked if what he had said would have been of any help to anyone. He knew there would have been people in the congregation who either didn’t believe in an afterlife at all or who were frightened to deliberate on their own mortality or the deaths of people they loved.

Instead he had tried to make the point gently that family, friends and neighbours, were the important things in life not the collecting of things and not the material aspects of human existence.

    Plus he thought a little caustically as his thoughts wavered toward his own family and home, he wouldn’t mind being at home in front of a fire and looking forward to watching the cricket match either. Since he had to be present to officiate for a man he hadn’t even known, one would think the relatives and friends would be behaving with a little more dignity.

When speaking he had delicately made the point that when the death of an old rather boring man like Ken could fill a country church, it meant the life of that town was active and full of love and consideration for one another and those they knew and they must try to keep that spirit of caring they shared because it was precious. Modern life was eroding it away.

 Religion as such, he mused, after so many years of seeing its affect for good and evil, didn’t matter all that much, just so long  as people kept caring for one another while they lived. His Bishop may have disagreed with his thoughts but the Vicar was wise enough not to voice too many of his opinions to his ‘boss’. He knew during the past few years he’d spent  attending to people with their  myriad of needs, problems and traumas as well as their joys, his faith had begun to fail him. It was too late for him to change his life now and would go on to retirement and hope perhaps one day his conviction would return to him. In the meantime he would do no harm to the beliefs of those who came to him for guidance.

His brief and rather muddled musing was interrupted by the wind blowing a great gust which tipped his white surplice right over his head and he stumbled trying to fight his way out of it so he could see where he was going. The cheeky young driver of the hearse behind him giggled surreptitiously.

               ‘Crikey Moses look at that, it’s a bit like a Scotsman. I’ve always wondered what priests wore under their robes.’

 Rodney, had now joined them after having a couple of warming swigs of brandy from the flask he kept in his car.
               Aunt Alice, Rebecca and Julie trudged along behind the men.

 Julie was regretting her choice of shoes as the damp oozed into them. Hiking boots, or gum boots would have been more appropriate for the situation. Her feet were becoming wetter and colder the nearer they got to the yawning hole of the grave. Everything around them smelled of the wet. The shushing pines poured their distinct perfume into the air. The ground smelt of the wet earth and grasses and mould from the rotting timbers pervaded the atmosphere. She hadn’t smelt the sodden countryside for so long she was surprised by the pleasure she felt as she inhaled the familiar odour once more.

               ‘You’ve got the wrong shoes on for this place.’ Aunt Alice pointed out unnecessarily ‘I knew what it was like, so I wore sensible shoes. It’s always been a miserable place here. The man who donated it to the town knew it was an awful piece of land and not any use for much. Everyone accepted it and thanked him to his face but they all knew he was an old rogue. It didn’t stop him becoming the mayor though.’

               ‘Yes well, it didn’t stop them from accepting it either did it Aunt Alice? I guess that’s how politics are done sometimes and yes you’re right I do have the wrong shoes on and,’ Julie struggled to speak in defence of herself against the wind. ‘You always do wear sensible shoes Aunt Alice.’

               It must be thirty years since the old woman wore anything which wasn’t laced up or had a raised heel, she thought. She shoved her hands up her coat sleeves trying to keep them warm

               ‘And,’ Rebecca felt the need to support her sister spoke up. ‘It is a cemetery, so they are always depressing places, particularly in this sort of foul weather…. Damn! Now my brolly has turned inside out!’

               ‘Look at that.’

 Aunt Alice ignoring the sisters, pointed her walking stick toward Uncle Rodger as he reached a solicitous arm out to another woman and indicated a more protected position out of the wind, in the front of the group standing on the sodden ground beside the prepared grave.

               ‘You can help strangers.’ Alice admonished him angrily as they caught up, ‘but you can’t help your own wife.’

               Michael hastily put his hand out to guide Aunt Alice to a front row position. She snatched her arm away crossly. ‘What do you think I am OLD?’ She cast a baleful eye at the woman Uncle Rodger had helped.

               The Vicar having arrived at the graveside tried to stop the murmuring and talking as people began to exchange snippets of news. He cleared his throat. His first tentative words were immediately overridden by Uncle Rodger complaining loudly in Michael’s ear ‘You see what I have to put up with?’

Rodney guffawed in the silence which followed and small sniggers were heard from others behind them.

               The stranger feeling rather tired sat on the gravestone beside Uncle Ken’s grave. It was just the right height to make a seat, although the icy cold of the granite soon seeped through the many layers of clothing she wore covering her large bottom which spread across the stone.

 Despite her anger, Aunt Alice not to be outdone by someone else’s initiative sat beside her until she read the inscription on the headstone. ‘Get up.’ She commanded of the woman,  ‘I went to school with this girl and she wasn’t someone you should sit on!’

               Glaring at Aunt Alice belligerently she opened her mouth to argue but thought better of it as the Vicar determined to proceed, said very loudly. ‘Shall we proceed?’

               Julie held Rebecca’s hand for support. She was remembering long ago being perplexed by Aunt Alice announcing she would not be buried at Wellsgate as she, ‘Didn’t want to be buried with all those old gossips.’ When she passed the remark onto to Michael he wondered how they would gossip after they were buried.

               The service proceeded as yet another squall raced across the scene and the sleet prickled their faces. While the mourner’s faces slowly became numb, the circling birds cawed adding to the haunting atmosphere. Opening their mouths to speak made sensitive teeth painful. Everyone’s necks disappeared like tortoises into their scarves and coats as they wished the Vicar would get a hurry up.

               Eventually it came time for the coffin to be lowered. The men braced themselves in readiness for the strain of holding the wide belting and keeping their footings on the slippery ground. It would take great effort on their part to remain anchored in place.

Unexpectedly the Vicar raised his hand as the coffin began to recede slowly but then seemed to remain still for a while.

He looked up and his tired eyes swept across the group of faces partly hidden from him by layers of clothing and shadowed by fluttering umbrellas.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, the workmen have tried valiantly to pump the water which had collected in the grave out. Unfortunately because the pump broke and we experienced very wet weather last night it has again raised the water level and we cannot lower the coffin at present, but Mother Nature has intervened. I apologize to all the family and friends present but it is unavoidable and we shall have to lower the coffin a little later.’

               People gasped.
               ‘It’s stuck.’  A voice stated.
         ‘No it’s not, it’s floating.’ Another corrected.
               Michael’s stood in stunned disbelief. The Antarctic wind whistling around his head and passing through the fabric of his trousers went unnoticed.
               ‘Well, I’ll be buggered.’ Rodney whispered to Michael. ‘He’s right, it is  floating! All the rain has filled the hole up and it won’t go down. Course it has been a wet week. Mind you if they’d got the pump working they may have emptied it enough.’ He assured his brother-in-law who was staring at him in dismay.
Rodney seeing the trancelike expression on his face recognized another chance to make a well placed dig at Michael….. ‘Well I suppose you in your comfy little heated office haven’t noticed it’s been wet!’
               The dig woke Michael from his daze and he glared at his brother-in-law.
 ‘You try driving on the freeway for a couple of hours a day in rush hour with all the lights and slush from everyone else’s cars and see if you wouldn’t notice it was raining. Of course I know it’s been raining all week but this….this… it’s ridiculous!’
               Rodney shrugged ‘Crikey Moses, don’t lose your cool, it happens a lot. The ground gets sodden and the water doesn’t drain away. You can see its clay soil here. They’ll be able to put him down when the pump is fixed it will just be a bit later that’s all.  Of course’ he continued,’ they’ll have to fill it in quick smart and get the dirt on top or he will come floating up again!’
               Michael could make no reply to that observation at all. Words failed him.
               Aunt Alice, now wanting to let everyone know what she thought, told the Vicar to. ‘Pull him up again! He was my brother and I want him pulled up again!’
 The Vicar knowing he had completely lost control of everything went across to the old lady to calm her.
               ‘Oh Hell, she’ll be seeing ants again by the time we get to Rebecca and Rodney’s place if she gets upset.’ Uncle Rodger groaned.
               ‘Pull him up again!’ Aunt Alice demanded. ‘He hated swimming, wouldn’t go near a swimming hole in his life! He was a big ‘sissy’ about water. I’m his sister I demand you pull him up!   He loved the land and food and….. and……parties.’ She struggled to think of more things.
               ‘Never knew when he’d out worn his welcome either.’ Alf, now having been reminded of his argument with the deceased, called from the back.
               ‘You be quiet Alf. We all knew you at parties. Couldn’t keep your hands off us girls!’  Alice, throwing formality away altogether, stood as high as she was able and raised her tiny gloved fist in the air. Old memories of old complaints left unsettled for decades began to seep into her mind.

               ‘You should talk Alice, look who you ended up with and that was after checking out most of the boys in town too and leaving it so long to decide you were left with the last bachelor with money that was left in the district.’ Alf getting his dander up now, waddled closer to Aunt Alice and leered at her showing his yellow dentures and breathed his cigarette breath on her.
The Vicar silently apologized to the deceased as he hurriedly said the final words of the burial service and in a show of temper and displeasure addressed the arguing foes.
               ‘Ladies and gentleman PLEEEEEASE!’ Then in a quieter voice repeated. ‘Please make your way to Rebecca and Rodney’s home for the wake.  We will make sure Ken is lowered in due course as soon as we possibly can.’
               The gravediggers who had been enjoying the whole debacle had been watching from near an old gravestone where they had hidden the pump. They now moved forward and began the grizzly process of emptying the grave once more ready for the occupant waiting patiently on the board nearby.
               Aunt Alice was so fired up and ready to continue the row with Alf she turned and quickly moved down the path toward the car. She didn’t glance back once at Ken’s grave.
               Rodney was thoroughly enjoying himself. ‘That was more entertaining than I expected. You must be having a great time driving these two backward and forward and all around the countryside all the time.’
He grinned at Michael, his wide weather worn features brimming with mischief. ‘You’ll deserve every cent the old girl leaves you.’ He leant closer breathing brandy fumes under Michael’s nostrils. ‘She sure let go a few in the church didn’t she? It’s wise to be upwind from her today mate I’m telling you.’
               Michael nodded and glared at him. ‘Can the day get any worse and why didn’t you share your brandy? You can take them back in your car if you like. I don’t give a shit what they leave us.’
‘No way. I’m not having them in my car.’
 ‘We’ll get them back to your place and leave as soon as we can. I just want to get home.’
               ‘Ah, you can’t do that. You’ll have to hang around for a bit so the girls can have a chin-wag. They don’t get to see much of each other. That’s the problem with getting married. You get to marry into the family as well.’
               Rodney looked about them as he waited for Rebecca and was amused to see Michael trying to wipe some of the heavy clay from his shoes and trousers. The stuff stuck like pale dog droppings along the soles and heels and embedded itself into the treads.  ‘Not like your swanky city cemeteries, is it? You should get something done about the country ones.’ 
               ‘Michael can’t get anything done about the cemeteries, you big idiot!’ Rebecca overhearing him defended her brother-in-law.
         ‘Yeah, I know.’ Rodney grinned. ‘I just like giving him a hard time. Got to keep these government plods on their toes. Let them know we’re watching them.’ He swayed about a little on his feet.
               ‘You’ve been at the brandy again!’ Rebecca accused him. ‘I’ll be driving home, give me the keys.’
               Michael heard Rodney call out some instructions about how to get to their farmhouse but the wind spat the words away. He knew how to get there anyway.

 Ants Aunts and Funerals is available from Amazon books and Kindle.


                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two New Titles


My Two New Titles

Ants Aunts and Funerals is a romp through the lives of a family group who attend a funeral in the country.

The younger couple who help to care for their elderly aunt and uncle know that Uncle Rodger and Aunt Alice can be a handful at the best of times. This day the two elderly folk excel themselves and cause mayhem and chaos.
It is a celebration of country life and the trial and difficulties of mixing the computer age generation with those born during the early twentieth century.

It is great fun for everyone who wasn't involved and should leave you wondering what the years may bring to you.


A Writer's Guide...It Isn't All About The Writing.


Gives answers and advice to fledgling writers to questions they may not know need to be answered.

Monday, February 3, 2014



Better Than Fairies At the Bottom Of Your Garden.

Some of you can probably boast you have hundreds of friends on your Face book. We can boast we have thousands of friends at the bottom of our garden. They work away quietly without disturbing the sanctuary around us and provide nourishment for our plants all year round.

These friends are the worms that live peacefully in their home under a large Camellia bush.

In every garden we have made we have had a working worm farm. During the 1980’s we set up our first and we still have some of their descendants I suppose. I find it hard to tell one from another although the family similarities must be there.

Worm farms seem to give some folk problems so I thought I would write a short article on their care.

I have a friend who worried she was overfeeding her worms and fussed about their diet like a flustered mum. She had a point, it is possible to over feed them when you first begin, but once the numbers multiply you will find that the scraps from an average size home will never be too much.

Without earth worms our Australian soil would be even poorer than it is and we need to do everything we can to encourage these little fellows, such as mulching, composting using organic fertilisers and not using pesticides which will get into the food chain in our family gardens and into the surrounding area through birds, lizards, frogs and insects which visit our gardens.

Earth worms differ from worm farm worms.

Your worm farm needs worms that work in compost not soil. They can be purchased from most good hardware stores and on-line.

You may also purchase your worm farm container from any hardware store.

If however you want to make one for yourself, Grass Roots Magazine has featured various home constructed designs over the years and the internet gardening sites are full of great inventive ideas for recycling old box freezers, baths and all types of receptacles which will make great worm farms.

For me the main thing is that they are capable of being drained well and that they can be kept cool and moist and access to the processed worm castings is easy.

I originally purchased a box of a specially selected mix of various worms which will be active during different times of the year making the farm more efficient at gobbling up our waste.

It amazes me at times when I go down to visit them with a full container of scraps to  find they have been munching away so greedily since my last visit that the level has suddenly dropped because the weather has really suited some of the different breeds.

I feed them kitchen scraps, shredded paper; I don’t think you should put glossy or heavily coloured paper in with them. It is more suitable in compost bins or trenching into your garden -I love shredding advertising and political letter drops that are so wasteful. We also add raked up garden material and anything I think that will be able to be broken down. Sometimes a light sprinkle of lime is needed but if you crush your eggshells it may not be, they will keep the pH level even and stop the bedding becoming acidic.

I am aware that many people suggest leaving onions, garlic and citrus peel out but I find that they cope with small amounts of these foods quite well. I don’t ever put meat into them. They are vegetarians and could be most offended. It would also encourage flies and make the farm smell.

If we have a large amount of waste for any reason we put it into a different composting bin area where it is broken down.

I always imagine they have a party after I add some extra cow manure or chicken manure but then I may just be a little too imaginative sometimes.

The dog droppings go into a special compost bin and when the contents of that bin are ready, it is spread around the flower and ornamental gardens.

The ‘juice’ to use a polite word for the worm pee I put into one of those containers which can be attached to the hose and I water it onto the plants that way, sometimes combining it with fish emulsion. If you decide to do this, DO wash your plants before eating them!

Crush your eggshells and if you get a few vinegar flies put shredded paper or some grass clippings over them.

We have a sort of corkscrew/ bottle opener shaped metal pole my husband made for stirring the farm up when it seems a little solid or uneven.

Keep them moist but not wet. If they begin to come up to the lid of the farm it is usually because the weather or the conditions are too wet.

This year our snap dragons are over a meter tall and the spring garden has been the best since we returned to the North East of Victoria three years ago. When we came the garden was stunted, dry, hungry and in need of a big transfusion of liquid food.

During summer when the winds are dry and the temperatures are high we always keep the worms’ damp and put a shade cloth cover over the lid which is long enough to cover the sides. I also put a brick on top because it is usually this type of weather that brings wind with it. Ours are in the shade most of the time but wind can be very drying.

The ‘Under The Worm Farm Lid’ cartoons came about because I have a habit of chatting to the worms whenever I visit them. They aren’t great conversationalists but appear to be good listeners.

Because I’m a freelance writer of humorous articles and a big fan of the zany English comedies such as the Goon Show, Monty Python and other goofy English comedy I began to imagine some of the conversations which may well take place under our worm farm’s lid. So was born the cartoon series.’ Under The Worm Farm Lid.’ By ‘The Scrappers.’

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thank you my friend.

Many years ago I came across a web page called Open Writing. It was moderated and managed by a man called Peter Hinchliffe.
I asked if I could make contributions and he was very accommodating and welcoming.
I never met Peter but we emailed one another and communicated through his site for years.
He was always helpful and encouraging and because of his background as a top journalist he would sometimes put on his editor's hat and give some much needed advice.
Usually in my case, it was to cut down the length of my submissions. (He was too polite to just say 'Get to the point.')
Well Peter has now decided it is time to close down his site and I'm sure like me, there are many of his former columnists who were saddened when he did and miss the weekly, monthly or occasional contact.
I thank you Peter for the years and the effort you put into your site. Its absence has left a gaping hole in my days but it was great and has resulted in my having the confidence to keep writing and publishing my work.
Good luck with the rest of your life, may it be long, satisfying and happy.

Liz T. .......Cynthia.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

                     Available On Amazon

Sunday, August 25, 2013

                                        Move over Mr Hitchcock 

To preserve the privacy of the couple featured in this story I shall call them Jane and John. Just the way the two young things who featured in our first reading books when we were children were always call Jane and John. Although I always did feel that they led such very boring lives it made privacy quite unnecessary. No one in my class was particularly interested whether they went ‘to the street with mother’ or ‘jumped on a log or not’. We could all do that without having to write about it.

So I shall begin to tell you about my Jane and John.
Their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was coming up and their teenage children clubbed together to pay for a surprise weekend holiday for the happy couple. They always worked long hours in their business and hardly ever took a great deal of time away from it.

 It was a kind and thoughtful gift.

All that Jane and John were told to do was to pack an overnight bag with clothes suitable for the city.

On the day of the anniversary the first thing which happened when Jane answered a knock at the door was to be confronted by a Jester.  He bowed and the bells on the end of his pointed cap tinkled prettily. The rest of his costume made of purple and gold material was very striking and a sight not often seen in the streets of an Australian country town.

After a few shouts of ‘Hear Ye, Hear Ye’ which brought John rushing to the door in a panic wondering what the bellowing was all about the Jester read and sang a song.

They stood gaping in amazement at the court fool before them as he recited the rhyme full of olde English words such as ‘prithee, thou, love divineth, marriageth-well, merry maids’ and various other dollops of Ye Merry England of old. It was quite incomprehensible but meant with the best of intentions to entertain and cheer the merry souls who listened.

When he had finished his song and they had crossed his palm with some silver he departed after performing a  grand flourish of his cape, which had until then gone unnoticed. He then bowed deeply and disappeared into the shrubbery to find his way out of the garden. Probably hoping to go unnoticed by the neighbours before reaching the safety of his trusty steed he no doubt had tied to a tree further along the street.

 Very soon after that a white limousine, which appeared to be about two house blocks in length drove into their driveway taking up most of the drive and quietly settled down comfortably like a hen in a cosy nest.

Jane and John still recovering from the medieval visitor looked out the window as the driver wearing a neat chauffer’s uniform doffed his cap in a jaunty way.

‘Lord, from the ridiculous to the sublime.’ John muttered.

The chauffeur accepted their overnights bags without a shadow of disappointment at the shabbiness of the luggage. The bags took up a miniscule area of the boot of the car and looked like a ‘couple of forgotten pieces of road kill’, as John remarked afterward.

Jane is not very tall and because she sat down too quickly found she was almost lying down. It took a struggle to get into a seated position so she could see out the window. She felt extremely self conscious driving through their neighboured in such an ostentatious vehicle and hoped she wouldn’t be seen by too many people. It would give some of the old biddies even more reason to complain of the exorbitant prices they accused them of charging in their shop.

It wasn’t very long before the limousine floated into the entry of one of the most opulent hotels in the city.

‘Oh, John,’ Jane groaned. ‘I wish I had bought some better luggage and packed some clothes that would be more suitable for this place.’
John who is a very casual chap and hardly ever out of grubby shorts and T-shirts, summer or winter, replied, ‘don’t worry about it, we wouldn’t ever think of paying for ourselves to come back here at any time. So they’ll never remember us anyway.’

They thanked the driver who had been a friendly fellow and ready to chat throughout the drive.

He wished them a happy weekend and the limousine slid away silently.

 The children had reserved the top floor bridal suite for them.

As they moved swiftly up through the floors in the elevator John remarked that the movement was enough to make his nose bleed.

Jane laughed a little, but it was only a little because she knew he wasn’t really joking. John had a problem with sudden nosebleeds. The doctor had suggested that perhaps he should see someone about them if they became any worse.

The elevator opened to reveal a beautiful suite, filled with fresh flowers perfuming the air. A large box of chocolates lay on the coverlet of the enormous bed with another small posy for Jane to wear on her dress that evening.

They had been told a table was booked for them in the hotel dining room for later.

‘Oh, how lovely, they are such thoughtful kids aren’t they?’ she said quietly as she smelled the lilacs and roses. ‘We are lucky.’ 

The dinner was a delight and to their surprise all the family and their partners had come. John made a small rather self conscious speech and they cut the cake with a new Stirling silver knife that their daughter had purchased for the family to present to them as a memento. 
Later, back up in the sumptuous suite John stood surveying the bathroom.

It was as big as their sitting room at home. He looked at the various cosmetics and toiletries the hotel had supplied.

‘Let’s have a spa bath.’

Jane gazed at the spa apprehensively. It was three times bigger than their bath at home.

‘Well, we’ve never had one’, she answered a little doubtfully. ‘I’m not sure how they work.’

‘Well, we’ll find out.’

The water began to rush into the bath as if he had opened an irrigation pump.

He poured some liquid into the gushing torrent. It was bubble bath oil and sparkling suds began to build a layer upon the surface of the water. The suds grew, and grew until a large foaming dome frothed and frolic on the watery surface.

 He turned the spa on and the bubbles began to multiply rapidly the way a meringue will grow to fill the basin in which it is being beaten by an angry chef taking his troubles out on the defenceless eggwhite.

Soon the bubbles were higher than the spa edges and began to flow down onto the tiled floor.

‘Oh you twit! Why did you put so much in?’ Jane panicked trying to pick the blobs of froth up.

‘Don’t worry about that. There’s a plug hole in the floor that will drain all that out. Come on my lovely, hop in and enjoy yourself.’ John was getting into the mood of the evening.

The candles they had lit on the bathroom shelves glowed and flickered romantically. The smell of the bubble bath was delightful.

Smiling, Jane began to tie her long hair up on top of her head.

‘Watch this.’ John stepped into the spa, sat down and disappeared beneath the snowy mountain.

‘You’ll have to take some out,’ Jane said when he resurfaced. ‘If I get in I won’t be able to breath.’

He obliged by splashing a few piles onto the floor. Then he disappeared beneath the foam again. Jane watching for his reappearance noticed a slight pink tinge to some of the bubbles. It seemed to be spreading.

John re-appeared smiling broadly. ‘Come on in, it’s great!’ He beamed at her and then watched bewildered by her change of expression to one of horror and then she screamed.

In the candlelight she could see that the pink tinge of the bubbles had turned to scarlet. Blood red scarlet streams of water and foam trickled from his nose, covering his chin beneath his happy grin. His chest was covered in sparkling blood bubbles.

Greatly shocked at her reaction he wiped his face and spread more of his vital fluid across his face and up into his eyes and hair. A large quivering mass of blood-stained bubble clung to one side of his head giving the appearance that his brain had exploded out of his scull.

Jane screamed again and threw a towel at this vision of a ghoul that was her husband of twenty five years. ‘Wipe your face, wipe your face.’

The flickering of the candles now turned the room into a sinister chamber of horrors she had only ever seen before in spine chilling movies.

Gone was the romantic atmosphere, gone was the loving ardour of half an hour before. Out ran Jane from the room.

John cleaned up the bathroom and they watched television for a while as they usually did before going to bed and a small brandy each helped to restore the frayed nerves a little.

As John predicted, they haven’t ever been back.  

Now, I think if our John and Jane books at school had them doing that sort of thing we might have paid better attention.

Cheers,    Cynthia.