Friday, 30 November 2012

CRACKING!




He knew the time would come when he’d have to leave. 

It was the ‘way of the water’ as his father and his father, before that, had told their off-spring. He’d enjoyed being part of the whole. He felt safe among them all. All the voices of the collective, but soon his time would come to depart and drift away from all that he knew, to make a new life out there – wherever ‘out there’ was.

It is the will of the great water god, he knew that much. Every beginning has the seeds of its own destruction and one day he too would disappear into oblivion.

It happened in the middle of the warm season, the cracking could be heard from a long way away and without warning he had broken from the pack and was drifting. He looked back to see his family trying to cope with the turmoil of another slice of the family gone.

He wasn’t sure how long he drifted on his own but the hot weather came and went, and another cold season descended. He thought he saw others of his own kind, from time to time but they passed in the night.

One day, in the following spring, he was drifting in the dark when a huge monster came so close that he touched the sides of it. He was sure he heard the ripping of skin.

It passed so close to him that he could read the name on the side of it - ‘'rms titanic’.



bobby stevenson 2012

Rockets & The Gardens Of Happiness

My name is Annie and when I was nine I didn’t have too many friends except my Grandmother who always wanted to be an astronaut. 

She said that my Mother had come along and put an end to that dream, thank you very much for asking - but I hadn’t asked.

I didn’t quite understand how or why my Mother had stopped her being an astronaut but my Grandmother was not one to talk crazy like, so I went along with her story. It had something to do with my Granddad turning my Grandmother’s head with all that kissing nonsense and such like and her being in the family way, thank you very much. 

It didn’t stop me and her always talking about being astronauts and we would look at the maps of the sky and choose which of the planets we would visit first. My Grandmother was going to Jupiter and I was very definitely a Saturn girl.

When I was nine I used to think that my Grandmother smelt a bit funny which I thought was because she was in training and eating special astronaut food. 

One evening, when I was safely sitting on her knee and after she had put a large log on the fire, she told me how she had always dreamed of going to the stars. 
“One November afternoon my parents, your great Grandparents Annie, took my brother and me to see a film at a little tea room down Duchess Street, mind you that street’s all gone now, got bombed in the war and they had to pull the whole lot down.

“By day it sold the most wonderful cakes in the world but in the evening, well then it became a wonderland. Mister Guitolli would hang a white sheet on the wall and then show films from a projector which he turned by hand. He never charged anyone a farthing but at the interval Mrs Guitolli would sell some of that day’s stale cakes for a half penny each. 

“Sometimes, if he had had a hard day, he would turn the projector very slowly and every one would stamp their feet to get him to speed up. Sometimes he would just fall asleep and the film would stop, then smoke would start rising from the projector and people would run out of the cake shop, screaming. They knew it wasn’t a real fire but to us it was the only chance we ever got to scream in front of grown-ups.

“On the days that Mrs Guitolli was in a good mood and kissed Mister Guitolli on the cheek in front of everyone, well those were the days that the people in the films would move very fast as Mister Guitolli wanted to finish early. My Mother never did tell me why he was in so much of a hurry.” Then my Grandmother coughed, cleared her throat and continued.

“One day Annie I saw the most marvellous film, The Journey to The Moon, the one where the rocket lands right in the eye of the Moon’s face. Everyone was laughing but I felt sorry for the Moon and made up my mind that I would go there and apologise for what had happened to his eye.” 

Sadly nothing much happened to my Grandmother and her dream for many, many years, not until the very day of her fiftieth birthday on April the 12th, 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.

My Grandmother decided two things that day: 1 – fifty was no age, no age at all, and fifty year old people could still go to the Moon and 2 – if anything happened to Granddad, God forbid, she would marry Yuri. There was a time when she more inclined to John Glenn, the first American in space than Yuri, but in the end the Russian won her heart. He was her first Cosmonaut and that was that.

My Grandmother said that every day she would check the newspapers looking for an advert that would state ‘Have you ever considered being an Astronaut or Cosmonaut? Then telephone the following number .....” but she never did find it, “Must have been on one of the days I didn’t buy a newspaper.”  she said.

She always wondered, considering the amount of people she had told about her dream, why the rocket folks hadn’t actually contacted her. “I mean”, she said “wouldn’t it be better having a really enthusiastic astronaut than a reluctant one?” 

She even wrote to the Russian Embassy who invited her to tea one afternoon and told her that the waiting list to be a cosmonaut was so long that she would be a hundred and twenty years old by the time they got to her. She had to agree that one hundred and twenty was a good age but mentioned that if her name did come up, then could they contact her anyway? The man said he’d put her name down on the list straight away and sent her home with a signed photo of Yuri that said ‘To my comrade’.

Apollo eight was the next big milestone in my Grandmother’s life and that was the one that got me interested.
In March of ’68 Yuri died in a tragic accident and my Grandmother went into a mild sort of mourning. Other people were twisting to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but my Grandmother had all the heroes she needed in one man and now he was gone. My Grandfather used to be jealous of a person he had never met and would refer to him as ‘that bloody communist’ but after Yuri Gagarin’s death, and I’m ashamed to say it, my Grandfather started to whistle. It led me to wonder if he hadn’t had Yuri bumped off.  

My Grandmother gave me a poster of the crew of Apollo Eight to hang on my wall, I still remember their names: the commander was Frank F Borman the 2nd, James A Lovell Junior was the Command Module Pilot and William A Anders, the Lunar Module Pilot. 

I always wondered what happened to Frank Borman, the 1st and James Lovell Senior, were they lost in space somewhere?  

In those days, the launching of a rocket was the most important thing in the world – at least to me. Every television channel would cover it and very clever people with extremely large foreheads would discuss it for hours on end. We would sit with bowls of popcorn and devour every delicious second of the programmes and when the talking got boring, Grandmother would test me on all the people who had ever been in space. 

We had a happy Christmas and we made it extra so, because my Father was off to Singapore in the New Year to work for several months. My Mother and I moved in with Grandmother in order to provide company for us all and I was more than delighted. 

Apollo 9 was a bit of a strange one and never really went anywhere, there was lots of talk of trying out modules but to be really cross-my-heart-honest, I found it boring. 

The next trip was really exciting, the guys were going to go to the Moon and try everything except land. I thought it was a shame and so did my Grandmother “Why couldn’t they just let them land on the Moon for five minutes?” she said, but it wasn’t to be and they all had to come home again. 

In July 1969, me, my Mother and my Grandmother all went out to Singapore to see my Father and we had the best time ever. It was a truly amazing place and it was there we got to see Neil Armstrong on television, not just land on the Moon but actually walk on it. It was brilliant. 

My Grandmother and I sat there holding our breaths as Commander Neil put his foot on the Moon’s surface. My Father said he thought that his foot would go right through and he’d get stuck but then I caught him winking at my Mother - my Father, not Neil Armstrong. 

I remember the day I asked my Grandmother who the first man to walk on the Moon was and she said “where dear?” and I have to tell you, I thought that was a funny thing to say. “Too late” I said, “It was Neil Armstrong”.
“Who dear?” 

Then I heard she’d fallen down the stairs which I was sure was due to her Astronaut training. She was very hard on herself. 

She never did tell me she was going to Astronaut Training Camp, my Father did. I asked him whether my Grandmother had found the advert in the paper and he said that she had and that they had accepted her. So I was pleased but I really wished she had told me herself.

Then one day my Father looked really sad and told me that I had to be brave and I said I was. He said that his Mother, my Grandmother, had gone to live on the Moon and I said stop talking crazy like as Apollo Twelve wasn’t due to take off for some months. He told me that she had been sent on a secret mission and that I was to tell no one. I never did. 

When I was nine years of age my Grandmother went to the Moon and didn’t come back.

She will soon and I bet she’s building a rocket even now.


bobby stevenson 2012





THE GARDENS OF HAPPINESS

It was a blue-cold winter’s day and another poor soul was lying dead at the bottom of the Hungerford Stairs.

The boy was just standing there staring at the corpse. 

That was the first time I ever clapped eyes on the little urchin. He was surely no more than twelve years of age at the time and making him a year or so older than me.

I will always remember his eyes, for in those eyes was the story of a child who had been rattled by his life thus far. 

He became my friend and my companion and not a day went by in those glorious few months of the winter of 1824 into the spring of 1825 that I was not spending time in his company. We were the best of friends.

On that day that I write of, I had only, a few moments earlier, sneaked out of my kindly Uncle Bertie’s haberdashery store on Charing Cross Road. I had been instructed to ‘remove the snow from the entrance’ for the tenth time that particular day:
“And, Sam, for pity’s sake don’t bring upset to any of my customers” 

Perhaps I should introduce myself before we go further dear readers, my name is Sam Weller. I was born and raised in Bermondsey, London and due to my lack of schooling I was sent off with unnatural haste to work with my uncle. 

“Goodness knows young Sam Weller will never amount to much, but he must acquire a trade.” 

I was now in my second year of such an endeavour. I neither begged nor looked for sympathy because the way I considered it, it left an individual free to take upon everything that life had to offer. For surely not everyone in this life who reads a book is a gentleman? Just as not every uneducated child is an idiot. Because, dear reader, as you can appreciate, I had learned much in my short life. 

But I digress - such a disagreeable trait - but that is the making of my heart, I am afraid to say.

The poor man whose body lay at the bottom of the Hungerford steps had expired in the black of night having succumbed to the freezing air, one shouldn’t wonder. There were many similar finds in a winter of such magnitude. Each day the snow came faster and thicker and I would secrete myself to that part of the Thames hoping to discover some gruesome find. I was rarely disappointed. 

That day was the first I remember seeing Charlie. He stood at the top of the stairs promoting such an unhappy account of himself that I thought he too would expire at any moment. Happily for the world, it was not to be.
My inquisitiveness drove me to question the lad. Had he seen the man die? Did he know the man in question? Was he working in this part of the river? 

My final question did raise a look from the lad. Yes, he was indeed working next to the Hungerford steps at Warren’s blacking warehouse. The boy said those words with so much sadness that it was all I could do not to offer him a smile there and then.  

“My name is Charlie and I work at the blacking warehouse in order to free my father from the Marshalsea.”

“The debtor’s work house?” I clumsily enquired.

“Indeed.”

It seemed, from what I could glean from the lad, that his whole family was currently living in the Marshalsea with only the boy himself living outside the premises, in the area of Camden. 

I just knew there and then that we would become great friends and indeed it came to pass.
As the winter grew colder and sterner, Charlie and I would spend a few quiet minutes in the grounds behind my uncle’s haberdashery.

Although the gardens were only truly for the customers to gaze upon, it had been kept in the most wonderful of conditions by my aunt’s gardener, Mister Wilkins Micawber.  Both Charlie and he seemed to take to one another and would spend time discussing their interests in gardening. 

Charlie loved being in that place and when he was older, he wrote to me the most wonderful letter describing it as the ‘gardens of happiness in a woeful forest’.

His life was a miserable existence at that juncture and he much appreciated the merest time spent away from Fagin - the ogre who ruled over the warehouse with an iron fist.

My cousin David Copperfield joined us one day prior to Christmas and both he and Charlie laughed so hard that they made themselves cry.

I will always remember the man on the other side of the high garden wall, a Mister Pickwick. In all those weeks we never saw his face and yet he would entertain us with stories of derring-do, of adventures in battles and ghosts at Christmas.

Every shoe that Charlie blackened that winter was a step nearer the door and freedom for his dear papa. The little freedom of his own that he tasted in my company and in my uncle’s garden seemed to raise the gloom that sat so easily on his young shoulders.

When the winter melted away to spring so, sadly, did our friendship. 

I will always remember the boy who grew to become one of the world’s greatest writers and I am proud to say that he was my friend. When I read his Pickwick Papers and saw that the happiest character was named Sam Weller, after me, I shed a tear.

Just as I do today, all those years later. They buried my childhood friend this morning at Westminster Abbey in the quietness he would have wished for.

When a flower requires to grow from a seedling into a beautiful form, it needs the frosts and snows of winter and, in his way, so did Charles.

So do we all.


bobby stevenson 2012

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Be Different





Story written for a charity.

Every one of us is made just that little bit different to the next person. It’s what makes us all special. Sometimes we are happy with our little special differences and sometimes it can make someone unhappy.

And so it was with Tommy. Since the day he was born he had what the doctor called, a cleft lip. When he looked in the mirror Tommy felt so very different from his friends. There were times in the village when he saw people staring at his lip. His grandmother used to tell him that no one else was that special and so they passed through unnoticed, but her little grandson, Tommy would always be someone to notice.

But as time went on, Tommy became more and more aware of his differences and he wanted it all to stop. So one day in August, he went to his room and stayed there. His mother would have to bring his food to his room and Tommy didn’t want to join the rest of his family. He was schooled in his room and he no longer wanted to go to school.

At night when the moon was full, Tommy would sit at the window and wish with all his heart that he were just like everyone else. And then he would hum a little tune to himself.

Tommy grew big and tall but every night he would still go to the window and sing songs loudly across the valley. It made Tommy feel good and less different.

What Tommy didn’t know was that the villagers in the valley below would listen to his signing and they all thought it was the most beautiful music in the world. To the villagers it was the breath of an angel.

The mayor of the village sent out a group of men to find the source of the signing that made everyone so happy, but they failed. They came to Tommy’s house but his mother didn’t mention Tommy as she thought that it could never be him and anyway he was always locked up in his room.

Then the day came when his grandmother died and the whole family attended the funeral in the village. Tommy wore a large hat to hide his face, the one that he considered so ugly.

Tommy was very sad as they lowered his grandmother into the ground, so much so that he sang a song for her. He sand loud across the land and all the villagers heard him and they knew this was the boy who gave them so much pleasure.

Tommy continued to sing to stop himself feeling so sad, and as he sung his hat fell from his head. When he stopped he saw that everyone was looking at him. Tommy started to run for home until the mayor of the village told Tommy to stop.

The mayor told Tommy that he sang like an angel and that his singing made everyone happy. “It is the goodness of your heart and your soul that makes you sing like an angel. That is your gift from god. That is what makes you different,” the mayor said.

Tommy liked this difference and so he continued to sing at night across the valley because he knew that it made the people in the village below happy and that was his gift from god. He was different, we are all different and those things should be celebrated.


bobby stevenson 2012

Mr Shoebuckle


MR SHOEBUCKLE

Mr Shoebuckle lived in a house filled to the roof with flaws.
They were in his attic, his cellar, every drawer and cupboard, and he did this as
A way to avoid seeing them. He spent his life sweeping them under the carpet.

Mr Shoebuckle lived next door to Mrs Sunlight who didn’t want to see her flaws either
So she threw them out the house at every opportunity. The house was flawless and clean.

Mrs Sunlight would sigh sometimes because she knew that something was missing.

Mr Clutterbuck lived in the far house and he didn’t care where his flaws were – on his sofa, on his carpet or on his roof.

Mr Clutterbuck liked his flaws , they kept him company and he knew that if he was going to have a long life then his flaws were going to be with him every step of the way.




bobby stevenson 2012

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Caleb's Dad, Super Spy



Another story written for 3rd grade (8 years) US schools.


Caleb’s dad is so good at being a spy that no one knows. 

Caleb knows, of course. He has decided to keep the whole story to himself, not even telling his best friend just in case he lets the story slip.

Caleb didn’t really notice that his Dad was a spy at first then his friend, Joshua had given him a book for his last birthday. It was called ‘How to Tell If You Have a Spy in Your Family’. He’d thought the book a bit far-fetched at first until he started studying it. If you look carefully there are signs everywhere.

For instance, his dad will go to an ATM and when he punches in a special code, instructions will come out. His dad will read those instructions, then fold up the paper and put it in his wallet. This is a very obvious indication of spying as mentioned in chapter fifteen of his book.

Caleb thinks that type of spying is dangerous, as the wallet might fall into the wrong hands but he also reckons his dad knows what he was doing.

Caleb’s dad is very clever with disguises. He makes people think that he works in a bank. It is a great cover because everyone believes it, not Caleb, obviously, but everyone else including Caleb’s mom.

He’d thought for a while that his mom was also a spy but her cover is just being a mom and that doesn’t seem very good. So he has scored her off the ‘possible spies’ list.

Caleb’s sister is only three, so she too has been taken off the list. That just leaves his aunt Patricia; she is his dad’s sister and probably comes from a long line of spies. Maybe his grandparents are spies as well? He will leave that investigation for another time.

Last week, Caleb’s teacher had spent an hour discussing with the class what their parents or guardians did outside the home or whether they stayed in the house. Caleb had to say that his dad was a banker but he was so wanted to say super spy.

“Is there something else you want to add?” asked his teacher.

“He’s not just a banker” said Caleb.

“This sounds interesting, Caleb” said his teacher “please tell us.”

“He’s a” but the word ‘spy’ wouldn’t come out. He knew it was a secret and that was that.

“He’s a great Dad, too” added Caleb but annoyed at himself.

On the bus home Robert, his best friend, asked him why he was so quiet. Caleb wanted to talk to Robert about his dad but he just said he was tired, that was all. Really Caleb was thinking through what would happen if the world knew his dad was a spy. Well it wouldn’t be much of a secret, so that was a good reason not to tell. Also his dad and family might be put in jail if he did things he wasn’t supposed to do because he was a spy. Caleb couldn’t think of any particular thing that his dad might have done, but he was sure that there must be something.

Everything comes to those who wait, that’s what Caleb’s auntie is always telling him and one day, in the week before New Years, the thing he had wanted more than anything happened.

Robert and Zoe, their other best friend and her dog, Toto were walking through the park. Zoe felt it was safe enough to let Toto run free for a time, she had seen her dad do the same but for whatever reason Toto was really jumpy that day and was rushing all over the place. Suddenly, as Zoe tried to get him back, he slipped down an embankment and slid onto the ice that covered the Whistledown Pond. No matter how much they called on Toto, she wouldn’t come back in and she just sat on the ice shivering and barking. Caleb’s dad had always told him to stay off the ice because the ice can crack and you can fall through. So Caleb called his dad on his phone hoping that he was nearby and not in Japan or some other country being a super spy. Luckily Caleb’s dad was standing at the pond within five minutes.

Caleb’s dad had brought a rope with him. One end, he tied around a tree and the other around his own waist. He handed his phone to Caleb and told him that if the ice should break that he was to call the fire station and let them know. Caleb took the ‘phone and stood proudly, ready to make the call. His dad, the super spy, had trusted him and no one else. One day I will be a spy too, thought Caleb.

Caleb’s dad then crawled onto the ice keeping his body very flat. Caleb thought that they must have taught his dad that at spy school although it didn’t mention it in his book. When Caleb’s dad reached Toto, she was shivering with the cold. Caleb’s dad gave her a hug and managed to get his arms around the dog and get her back on shore.

Caleb felt really proud of his dad that day and when Robert asked him where his dad had learned to go onto the ice like that, Caleb told him spy school.

Robert just laughed and Caleb smiled, happily. 



bobby stevenson 2012