Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Room At The End Of The World

Now I ain’t one to lie or even kid (if it comes to that), but sometimes a thing happens to you that’s so far out there that even your closest kin would swear you were talking with a crazy tongue in your head. But you all know me and you know I ain’t the lying sort, so you’re gonna have to come with me on this trip and take it for what it is – all true.

One night I was looking through my ol’ telescope at something or other – don’t you go believin’ Kathy Blue mind when she says I was tryin’ to see in her boudoir (that’s what she calls that dump of a room she stays in) – I wasn’t tryin’ to see in no boudoir, no sir I was looking at Venus and Mars as any curious scientist would be doing at that time of night with a telescope stuck to his eye. Now if you don’t believe me on that point then I do see much point on the two of us goin’ on – so if you’re of the sceptical disposition then I’ll say ‘howdee doo dee’ to you and bid you a good day.

Okay, so I’m guessing that if you’re still with me then you’re believin’ me and I thank you kindly, I truly do. The strange thing happened just after I located Mars (not a great feat I grant ya) when all of a sudden this light goes shooting across the sky and it was so bright that my telescope eye went kinda white for a long time. I thought I was havin’ a stroke, I kid you not. Then it all went black as black could be. I’m thinking to myself that this is probably a comet or somethin’ and once my eyes kinda returned to normal, I thought no more about it.

One night, it must have been about a week or so later, I’m out on the hills above town – and don’t go believin’ Kathy Blue if she tells you I was followin’ her or somethin’ ‘cause that’s just plain lyin’, that girl could win a medal in lyin’. It’s just that I like to go walkin’ in the hills and if she happens to be there too, then that’s just tough. At the time, I was tryin’ to walk in the opposite direction from Kathy Blue as she was shoutin’ at me, I mean, as if it was my fault we were both on the same hill. That was when I spotted the hut. When I say hut, it was more like a metal box, but hut will give you a good idea of its shape. It started to rain real hard and I ran to the box to get my head undercover. I was thinkin’ that it would just be me and a few wild beasts for company. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Inside the hut was a little boy or man or thing sitting in the corner. Now don’t go thinkin’ that it was like one of those sci-fi things where it’s bigger on the inside than it was outside – ‘cause it wasn’t – it was just the same size, inside and out. Now I’ve got that out the way, I’ll go on.

The man/boy/thing looked kinda startled and disappeared, then reappeared in another corner of the hut. I had to rub my eyes, I kid you not. I know what you’re thinkin’, don’t think I don’t, ‘cause I do. You’re thinkin’ that I’ve been sippin’ Aunt Fannie’s hooch again – well I ain’t and that’s a fact.

The man/boy/thing disappeared again and reappeared in another corner. By this time, I have to tell you friends, I was as crazy as a hornet in a jar. So I shouted to the thing to stay still or else (to be honest, I wasn’t sure what the else was).

Then it stopped, looked at me and I could see it was a small man who looked as scared as someone who had been caught in Kathy Blue’s front yard at midnight.
Now this is where you’re gonna have to trust me – I mean, really trust me - the little man said that he had crash landed on Earth and was trying to fix his ship so he could go home. To another planet. Or star. Or somewhere up there where Kathy Blue don’t go walking. So I asked him how he was doing and he said that the Hypo-diagonal drive unit was kaput and that he’d need to replace it. I asked could you get that local and he just smiled. He said he’d need to make it, but that the parts would be expensive and he didn’t have any Earth money.

You’re thinkin’ that he’s just a crazy man lookin’ for money but I ain’t never seen a crazy man disappear and reappear the way he did. I said I’d run home and see how much I could raise – ‘cause I don’t like the thought of a space man being lost so far from home, and he might just let me go with him and I’d get away from Kathy Blue once and for all.

I returned the next morning with all the money I had under the mattress and it weren’t much, I can tell you. Plus a couple of eggs and some bread. You know what he did? He ate the eggs - raw, I kid you not and the bread with the paper still around it. He told me that the money weren’t enough, it might get him past the moon but that would be it. He needed a lot more.

I told him I would go home and think about it and that night, when I was watching television with my granddaddy, it came to me.

If the spaceman could do that disappearing/appearing act on television then maybe he could make some real money. The television station we were watching had ‘So You Think You’ve Got Talent?’ on it and that was when it came to me. He could enter that stupid television show where stupid, stupid judges tell terrible lies about people who should be in hospital (least ways that’s what my granddady says) instead of which, they go on this show and try and play a ukulele while standing on their head. I kid you not.

So that is the plan and this is what we are gonna do. Me and the alien man are going to get him an audition on ‘So You Think You’ve Got Talent’.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

bobby stevenson 2014

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The House By The Sea

There was love above and below me in that house that stood beside the sea. 

On clear days I could spot the horizon and that meant everything to me. It was the tallest of houses and the happiest of homes. It was stuffed full to the rafters with sisters and brothers and my mother and father.

 We helped each other and we supported each other. We made each other smile and sometimes we made each other cry. These were the days which were warmed by the sun and seemed to last forever.

 In the winter we drank broth and ate stews and hunkered down in the heat of each other’s company, comfortable that the others were there. There were card games, singing, communal cooking and laughter, oh yes, the laughter. There was always someone laughing in that house.

When the storms hit the house, it rocked and swayed and the more it rocked and swayed, the more we felt safe. Don’t ask me what I mean by that, just that you had to be there to understand.

My Grandpa had built it for the simple reason that he wanted to prove you could build a house on the sand by the sea. There were those in town who said he was a brick short of a chimney but my Grandpa had always believed in himself and so it had happened. And having been built by such a kind soul and even kinder heart meant that the very building seemed to bleed understanding and tolerance.

When it swayed in the wind it sang to us, the building actually felt as if it was telling you that nothing was going to harm you. We were just to relax and bend with the wind.

There was a writing room or rather I used it to write in it, but my brothers and sisters would read, paint, listen to the radio, have heartfelt discussions about the world and all the stars, in it. I learned a lot of things about life in that room and some things I probably shouldn’t have.

I realise now how lucky I was back then, what with all that softness, that gentleness, that amount of caring from my family; all of it given to me by some higher force. Boy was I the lucky one.

My father and mother taught us to never ever to take anything for granted. To smell the rain, to feel the flowers, to stand on the roof of the house some days and just scream, scream for your very existence. Sometimes I’d scream for the overwhelming energy that was the world and some times I would scream for all the injustices that we heap on each other (even on ourselves) for  there is no crueller person in the world than those things we do to our own minds and hearts. It’s like the man said, if we treated other people the way we treated ourselves, we wouldn’t last long.

So I wrote and wrote about the way things changed and the way that things stayed the same. I wrote about love and hate and war and peace. Those days were the most perfect of my life. But as I’ve written in these pages before, no one ever tells you that you are passing perfection – you only ever see it in the rear view mirror and that’s when you realise that there’s no reverse.

Each morning I could smell the cinnamon wafting its way up the stairs to my room and a few seconds later it was helped along by the smell of the coffee. My mother would be standing at the back porch with the wind coming in off the sea, both hands around her cup of hot brew and deeply breathing in the air.

“Good morning my much loved and cherished son,” she’d say.

I forgot to mention that my mother came with a warning: she was a crazy as a box of frogs. 

“And how has the universe treated you this fine morning?” she’d ask.

“Fine.” I’d say – I was trying real hard to cultivate a mysterious air about me at the time given the fact that I intended to be a writer.

“You don’t say,” then she’d smile, pull her housecoat in tight and head back to making the biscuits for breakfast.

Sometimes I would sit with a hand under my chin waiting on the rest of the family to come down, trying to look European (although I wasn’t real sure what that meant). Other times I would sit with Grandpa’s old pipe and stare out to sea as if the meaning of life was somewhere out there to be found. Man, that pipe tasted real bad.

I went through a spell of chewing tobacco but it was short lived due to the vomiting that accompanied it. Then I got a big hat and I decided that was the look for me.

There was a real hot summer when I would wear the hat from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. I even slept with the hat on, but I guess someone would take it off my head when I was fast asleep  - while I was dreaming of the future  life that I was going to live in that hat.

To be a writer in the last house on the beach was truly the best thing ever, in the whole world.

Then one morning my father came into breakfast and told everyone to remain calm and not to worry but Grandma had been taken to hospital. She had been my moon and my stars when I was growing up. She was the one who encouraged me to write, who had read Dickens to me and who now would listen to my own stories.

She’d never say if a story was good or bad, but when she said “My ain’t that interesting” I knew it wasn’t one of her favourites.

Her and my Grandpa lived in the best room at the top of the house, the one with the views and the sunshine, although when my Grandma was there, it always seemed to be full of sunshine.

In the evening when I was writing I could hear the dance music coming from their gramophone. Boy they loved to dance. When they were younger they would travel the county taking part in competitions. Their room was full to the roof with trophies.

When my Grandpa started to get sick neither of them talked about the illness, until the day my Grandpa said that perhaps they shouldn’t dance any more.

That day my Grandma got sick, I went to the hospital in the afternoon and she was sitting up in bed and smiling. Boy that made me feel a whole lot better.

Everyday after school I went straight to the hospital and read her my latest story. At the weekends, if she felt okay, she would read me some of David Copperfield.

In her final week she asked to be allowed home, I didn’t know that she was finished, I honestly thought she was getting better. About two days before she left us for good and while the nurse was downstairs getting a coffee, she asked me to take her to the roof and bring the wind-up gramophone.

When we got up there, boy it was warm and you could see for miles. I turned the handle on the gramophone and put on her favourite tune and then she asked me to dance. I took her hand and I bowed and then we danced as if she was seventeen again.

bobby stevenson 2014

Live. Love. Asap.

Run my friend and don’t look back
Don’t think the rest of life is yours
Or that unfinished day
Will hold its course as planned
Take what you think is needed now
Don’t hesitate, for loss is never reinstated
Breathe deep and strong
Then run and love and live
And tell all of those who need to know
How much their hearts are needed.

bobby stevenson 2014

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Last Of England (part one)

The beginning - Aldeburgh Beach, April 1958.

The sky was blood red.

Stanley had been edgy all that day. Or at least, it had seemed that way to Alice ever since she had suggested a picnic on the beach. Now she, Stanley and their seven-year-old daughter, Claire were sitting shivering under a sky that would have delighted any photograph.

They had wanted some privacy, at least that was the way that Stanley had put it and so they had moved along the beach towards Thorpeness. It was all shingles and stones but they did love this part of the country and the sea was performing for them with all its heart.

Alice had laid a tea that her mother would have approved of, while Stanley and Claire searched under rocks for crabs. She called them a few times but the wind seemed to carry her voice off somewhere out to sea. The gulls, which cried overhead, had probably heard her voice more times that day than her family.

But she was happy, or at least content in a very British way. It had been thirteen years since the war and the country was now getting back on its feet. She had a small but important job helping organise the Aldeburgh Festival and Stanley had been teaching at various colleges in Suffolk and Norfolk. Claire, after a few health scares, was now growing into a beautiful young girl.

So why did Alice feel so empty in her stomach? Her mother had always been a victim of depression but had tended to keep out the way of the family during those particularly bad episodes. To Alice’s mother, depression hadn’t been a very British thing to suffer from in public. Sometimes, when Alice pressed her ear against her mother’s bedroom door, she could hear her mother praying or at least talking to God in her own West London style. Her mother did that when she was talking to someone she considered to be important, she would put on a very upper class voice. Alice remembered that it was something her mother had failed to do when she had first met Stanley.

Yet, despite everything that had happened, she still missed her mother. The mother she could talk to any time of the day. She missed that woman more than she could ever tell Stanley. He had woken Alice in the middle of the night, telling her that her mother had gone. He had then turned over and had gone back to sleep. Having just woken, Alice had wondered, at first, where her mother had gone to exactly. Morocco, perhaps? Istanbul? Those were some of her mother’s favourite haunts and ones, which were considered very daring for a widow in the 1950s. But then her mother had been all that and more; she had always been adventurous. Alice felt that her mother had been a little disappointed that Alice hadn’t been more like her.

When Alice had woken properly the night of the ‘phone call, she had realised what Stanley had meant - that her mother had gone for good. Afterwards she had heard Stanley snoring and she wasn’t going to wake him up again to talk about how she was feeling. He was down to teach a class in Ipswich in the morning and that would have meant an early start.

Alice’s father had died in the war.

He had been a scientist or something similar, yet he’d never really told the family what it was he had done. It was while her father was working at some camp in Berkshire that he had met Stanley and brought him home to meet the family. Alice was sure that her father had approved of Stanley and had probably intended him to ask his daughter out. This he had done, and soon they were married. If not in haste, at least in a very short space of time. Love had nothing to do with it, although she had grown accustomed to him and would always miss him when he was away. But this wasn’t really love, not the Wuthering Heights kind. This was a very British marriage where it was better to say nothing and suffocate than bring shame to the family. Alice had said ‘yes’ very quickly, too quickly, in case no one else would ask her.

She had held her breath for so long now that it seemed impossible to remember what fresh air tasted like.

Alice looked up and could see Stanley and Claire heading back. She waved, and her beautiful little daughter waved back with all her might. Claire was a fighter, she had had to fight to stay in the world and nothing was going to take her. Stanley had seen Alice waving but had dropped his head, something he had been doing more frequently.

By the time her family had made it back to the picnic, the wind was whipping up the white horses and causing them to crash onto the shore. The napkins were being blown about and two of them disappeared over the sandbank at the back.

They drank their tea in silence, a behaviour that Stanley had always insisted upon, while they ate the perfectly cut sandwiches filled with cucumber from their own garden.

It was then that Stanley lifted his head and looked out to sea. At least, that is what she remembers telling the police afterwards. There had been a large, red schooner on the horizon and it had seemed to be struggling with the strong winds.

Any normal person would have mentioned the ship’s distress but not Stanley. He had simply wiped the crumbs from his face, stood up and climbed over the sandbank for a better view. At least that is what Alice had assumed and it was another thing she had told the police.

The last time she saw Stanley, he had his hands sheltering his eyes from the harsh wind, eyes, which she assumed, were following the schooner. Claire helped her mother pack up and it was just as Alice was about to ask Stanley to help her with the basket, one that she always found difficult to open - that she noticed he had gone. So had the schooner. Alice asked Claire to run over to the sandbank and fetch her father but he wasn’t there.

From the sandbank, a person could see all the way to Thorpeness, back to Aldeburgh and even a mile or two inland but Stanley had simply vanished off the face of the Earth.

“You sure it was that sudden?” The policeman with the notebook had asked her later and she was absolutely certain that it had been.
The police had searched the beaches and land for several days, the locals had all taken their boats out to help but nothing was found of Stanley. He had simply gone.

What scared Alice was that she felt relieved, at least at first. Maybe he had wanted to disappear. The policeman, Inspector Whitstable, had asked her about their life together and by that, Alice had assumed he was meaning their love life. To her, that meant sex on a Saturday evening and sometimes during the week when they were on holiday. At first she couldn’t get what Whitstable was getting at, but it soon became apparent. Did he have something troubling him? And by that, the policeman had meant another woman.  Or man. She hadn’t even considered that possibility that Stanley was a queer.

If wasn’t sex that was troubling Stanley, then maybe they was money worries. But as she had told the police, her mother had left them comfortable for the rest of their lives. No, he wasn’t suicidal either. If anything, he disapproved of such nonsense. Stanley was conservative through and through and knew one day in his heart that he would have to account to God for his behaviour.

When the Inspector asked about Stanley’s work, Alice had to put admit it was beyond her. She neither knew, nor cared what he did as long as he was a good father to Claire and a good husband to her. Alice, the devoted and loving wife, had even been a suspect and her fingerprints taken, but the suggestion was preposterous. She had a witness in the shape of her beautiful – their beautiful daughter. How quickly Alice seemed to want him dead and buried. He didn’t deserve those thoughts, and Alice quickly brightened up.

She would do all it took to find him. If he had run away, there must have been a reason. Perhaps she was the reason. Perhaps she hadn’t been a good enough wife. Yet hadn’t there always been a meal on the table when he had come home? Hadn’t she always listened to his problems? Hadn’t she always allowed him to lie on top of her when he wanted? What more could a wife do?

bobby stevenson 2014

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Wee Happy Man

                                         LOCH ETIVE

In that hot summer of 1921, we returned to Glencoe in Scotland; this time we were missing a brother but he would always be with us.

In the glorious years before the Great War, I and my brothers, Grahame and Jack would spend long summers climbing the mountains around Rannoch and the Black Mount. Each year our grandfather would take us boys to stay at the King’s House hotel, and each year he would take us climbing on a new mountain.

Grahame’s favourite climb had always been the Great Shepherd of Etive (Buachaille Etive Mor) and since he was lost to us forever in some field of France, and in the same year he would have been twenty one years old, Jack felt that it was right he should climb the Buachaille with Grahame’s medal pinned to his chest.

I had only lost my leg at Ypres (I was one of the lucky ones), so although I wanted to support Jack, I felt I would spend the time by Loch Etive and think about the great days and years we had all spent together.

Jack wanted an early start and so I drove him in the horse and trap as far as the Devil’s Staircase. This was a road built by the Englishman General Wade to avoid the trouble he might find in deepest Glencoe. It went straight over the top and into Kinlochleven.

The Buchaille was on the opposite side to this, and here I left Jack - watching as he made his way up the valley, he turned and waved and then disappeared into a crevice.

I turned the horse and made my way around to the back of the Buchaille in to Glen Etive.

                                                                                            LOCH ETIVE

The Glen has always been the quietest of places with no real road through it. It was a spot where our grandfather would set out a pick-nick after we returned from our latest climb. I can say with my hand on my heart, those were the happiest of days with all three of us having our lives waiting on us.  

And so, as Jack climbed to remember Grahame, I felt that a little time spent by the loch would help me pay remembrance to my middle brother. I will always miss him, as will Jack, but with me being the youngest it was Grahame that I always felt closest to. I will carry my brother with me everywhere I go.

I had brought a hamper of my own and quietly settled down by the loch-side when the heat of the day overtook me and I quickly fell into a deep sleep.
Judging by the position of the sun, it must have been sometime later when I was wakened by a figure casting a shadow over me.

“Hello there,” said the voice.

I put my hand above my eyes and could make the outline of a little man.

“Do you mind if I sit a minute, I’ve come a long way and it’s nice to have a bit of company, to take away the sharpness of the day.”

I told the little man I was be pleased to have him join me and asked if he wanted to share a drink, and perhaps something to eat.
He had come from the south, and given the lack of roads must have walked the loch shore or over the hills; not an easy task.

He told me that, once a month, he walked from his home in Oban to his sister’s house in Kinlochleven. It took him two days, walking up the side of Loch Etive, through Glencoe and over the Devil’s Staircase. That last part was a climb over a thousand feet up and then down again. General Wade’s soldiers had named it because of the pain it caused them to march over the top.

The wee man’s sister and her husband had moved to Kinlochleven in 1905 to work on a dam to support the planned aluminium factory. The workmen couldn’t find a bar in the area and would take to walking over the mountain to the King’s House. His sister’s husband had disappeared one winter and never returned. There was talk of him running away with a young girl of the parish but his sister refused to believe it. It was only in the spring, when the snows had melted, that the authorities found her husband’s body at the top of the Devil’s Staircase.

“So once a month I walk the miles to make sure she is in fine fettle.”

I told him my story about Grahame and why Jack was climbing the Buachaille.

“My own boy never came back from the Somme. We all live with sadness,” said the man.

And yet there wasn’t a look of defeat in his eyes. He had the demeanour of a happy man, a wee happy man.

“Since you’ve shared your food with me, I’ll share what my grand-daddy told me when I was a young one,” he told me. Then the wee man looked straight into my eyes as if he was going to dispense a family secret. He put a hand on my shoulder.

“If you remember one thing, laddie, remember this. Expect everything from yourself and very little from others. That way you’ll never be disappointed, and if it’s yourself who is letting you down, well then, you are in a position to do something about it. Never put your happiness in the hands of others.”

And with that he winked at me, got up and whistled his way up the loch. The last I heard from him was a shout of “Cheerio, now – and remember what I said.”

I looked up at an eagle as it flew over my head and somehow I knew why I had met the wee man.

“Thank you, Grahame,” I said, as a tear ran down my cheek. 

bobby stevenson 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The God Sequence

He could do nothing but stare at the paper. Then he re-checked it and checked it again. He was trembling. I mean really shaking. The way you dreamed of something really good happening and then it does, and it never feels real.

He had woken with the numbers in his head – not that he remembered going to sleep with a problem that needed solving. They were just there in the morning like a mathematical hard-on.

He’d need to talk to one of the guys up at the library, they’d know if he had just dreamed up some nonsense or if these numbers – he wanted to call them the Greenock Sequence after the place he had been born – were the real thing.

Try as he might, he couldn’t find fault with any of it. But the most important thing was what the sequence meant, to him, to everyone, to the world.

He’d only been trying to solve one of the oldest mathematical quandaries when he’d tripped over this sequence. Perhaps it was meant, the next stage in evolution, the next stage in man’s development. Hey, he was getting a bit ahead of himself. Time to stop shaking, calm down and take stock of what he thought he had on this piece of paper.

If he was correct (and he was starting to think that he was), then the Greenock Sequence proved without a shadow of doubt that God had to exist to make the universe work. It explained much about dark energy and dark matter, it explained the whole show. It explained this thing called life and he’d accidentally found it while looking for something else.

What do you do with something as explosive as these numbers? God existed, there was no doubt about that, so what next?

Had he been chosen? What if he was wrong and he was so desperate to be known for something that he was getting it all wrong? He re-wrote the numbers and the sequence. There wasn’t a doubt, the sequence was correct – God Existed.

Perhaps it would stop wars, stop people doubting. He scored through the word ‘Greenock’ and put in the word ‘God’ – seemed fitting somehow. I mean it was 
his/her numbers after all. ‘The God Sequence’.

He decided to sleep on it one more night and then he’d take the numbers to someone. The funny thing was, he prayed that night. Since there wasn’t any doubt about the existence, why not have a chat with the deity? For the first time in years he got down on his knees.

“I just wanted to say thanks for this. I mean, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I just wanted to know, what I should do next? Amen.”

He felt that had said it all and went to sleep with a lighter heart.

In the morning, which was a glorious one, he had breakfast, got dressed in his best suit and headed off to the local church. He smiled and thought, God knows how to put on a morning. He whistled all the way to the car.

He stopped the car outside the nearest church, got out and knocked the door. A foreign looking woman told him that the Holy Father was out back.

The priest was out in his garden tending to his roses and as he stood there watching the man of God, he didn’t know whether to shout, hug the man or just cough to let the priest know he was there. He chose the latter.

“Oh there you are, would you like a cup of tea?” Said the elderly priest, who then handed some of his cuttings to him.

“Throw them on the fire, there’s a good man. Now is it a death or a birth? Lovely day for either,” laughed the old man.

He cleared his throat then said. “It’s about God. I can prove he exists.”

“Well would you credit that now,” said the priest, and he thought the priest was referring to his revelation, but the old man was looking at the roots of his roses and noticing he had a rot problem.  

“Sorry what did you say?”

“I said, I can prove that God exists.”

“Of course He exists, so why would you want to prove something that’s staring you right in the face. Never heard such daft talk.”

“You don’t understand, I can actually prove with a sequence of numbers that God needs to exist to make the universe work.”

The priest was getting a little red in the face. “I don’t mean to be unkind, but aren’t you just stating the bleeding obvious?”

“No, I’m proving to you that God exists.”

“Why would I need proof?” Asked the old man. “After all, I talk to the Big Man, every day. Are you saying, I’m some sort of eejit? Because if you are, you can leave my garden right this minute and good day to you young man.”

“What I’m saying is that I can help the non-believers, the atheists, the agnostics to see that there is a deity.”

The old man just smiled. “Don’t you see? If we could prove that God exists there would be no need for faith, and if there was no need for faith, there would be no need for the Church. And if there was no need for the Church, I would be out of a job. So be very careful with what you’ve got there. It could harm a lot of people.”

The old man looked at him and said: “Have you got the proof with you?”
He nodded and took the paper from his pocket.

“Am I the only one you’ve shown it to?”

Again, he nodded.

“Let me see it the blasted thing.”
He handed the paper to the priest who tut-ted and said things like ‘would you look at that now’.  

The old priest lifted his eyes and looked at him, then the priest smiled, throwing the paper on to the garden fire.

“Trust me, you’d better off forgetting all about this nonsense. The world will be a better place with doubt as its driving force.”

He knew he could re-create the numbers again, that wasn’t a problem. He just hadn’t been ready for the way the priest had re-acted. Surely he wasn’t typical 
of the Church?

He said goodbye and as he walked out of the garden, he decided he’d contact the national newspapers and see what they would do with the information. I mean, what trouble could it cause?

bobby stevenson 2014

Friday, 16 May 2014

Me And Buzz And Schnorteling

I guess when Buzz first said that Schnorteling should be in the Olympics, I kinda found it hard to see. But Buzz is like Ma Hardy’s donkey, he can only carry one thing at a time and after a while I kinda had to agree with him.

When they write about Schnorteling, they’ll write about Mr Brewster’s Bakery and Gun Store – ‘cause really, that’s where it all started.

Me and Buzz were making short work of a couple of donuts and milkshakes at Mr Brewster’s. I was telling Buzz what I’d heard about Eddie Alabaster’s hair. Apparently after Eddie’s cat had set fire to the family’s wooden shack (at least that’s what Eddie said), his Ma had tried to put the flames out with a jug full of lemonade. While she was doing that, Eddie had tried to shave his own head. So when his Ma had finally let the shack burn to the ground, she’d come home to find Eddie looking like a kid who’d got his head caught in a door.

I could see Buzz had got real interested, ‘cause he’d stopped eating his donut midway.

“Well?” Asked Buzz.

Then I told him I met Eddie Alabaster at the pharmacy collecting his Ma’s nerve tablets and he was wearing one of his Ma’s wigs.

“Which one?” Asked Buzz, completely taken in by the story – so much so, that his mouth was open and I could see the other half of the donut.

I said the one she usually wore at Christmas. The one Eddie said she wore to keep Santa happy. There are lots of stories about Ma Alabaster and Santa, but that’ll keep for another day.

“You mean the one with the….no you say it,” he says to me, ‘cause Buzz wants to hear me say it.

“Eddie was wearing his Ma’s wig, with the…”.

“Not the blue one with the holly and ivy sticking out the top?” 
Jumps in Buzz ‘cause he can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

I tell him it was the very one but some of the holly had fallen out, so you could see Eddie’s bald head in parts.

And that’s when it happened - when Buzz Schnorteled. The milk and donuts shot out of his nose. I swear on a stack of somethings that it’s all true. Honest injun.

Mr Brewster told me and Buzz that we weren’t welcome in his store no more, and that we should have a good think about we’d just done. What we’d done is invent a new Olympic sport and that was good enough for me and Buzz.

Buzz came back to my place and we tried to make the milk and donuts come out his nose again; him eating, and me telling him the story about Eddie and his Ma’s wig.

Would you believe it? Nothing. Okay, Buzz almost choked and my Ma had to slap him on the back a few time before the donut shot across the kitchen and stuck to our wall. But nothing in the nose area. I kid you not.

Something real serious had to be done, so I packed some donuts and milk and took Buzz to sit outside Ma Alabaster’s place and wait for the Christmas-topped kid to show up.

We waited and we waited, but there was no Eddie or his Ma. Around sunset I suggested that we mosey on home but Buzz wanted to stay. Just then one of the neighbor’s came out on account that we looked mighty suspicious and we told her we were waiting on our friend, Eddie.

“You haven’t heard then?” She asked us.
I said ‘heard what?’ and she told us that Eddie was in Brimstone’s hospital on account that he’d been attacked by some birds that had tried to eat his head.

Well, that was it. Buzz’s donuts and milk shot right down his nose and over the lady’s shoes.

She shouted after us that she was gonna call the cops, but we hid for a while and nothing happened.

No one could deny that Buzz had just Schnorteled a world record of three feet and the rest.

And I could see the possibilities of Schnorteling for future generations, except that the next day when I asked Buzz about it, he was already talking about BumFizz being a sport to replace football.

Sometimes, I find it real hard to keep up with my pal. 

bobby stevenson 2014

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Be Different

Story written for a charity and somethings are worth repeating.

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 sang out 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 2014

We'll Meet You At The Circus

When Sebastian was seven, a traumatic thing happened to him. He had seen the monkeys in a cage from the corner of his eye and had wandered over to feed them. He remembered one of them bit his little finger.

Blood oozed from the wound causing Sebastian to turn to show his parents. They were not there as they had gone on without him.
Sebastian screamed and wept until a woman came to help.
She asked Sebastian who he had come to the Zoo with, and he replied his two brothers and his parents. She then asked what was the last thing they had said to him?

“If anyone gets lost we’ll meet up at the circus, “he told the woman.

So that is what she did, she took Sebastian to the circus and there they found a very worried looking mother and father.  

Sebastian never wandered off again.

When Sebastian was nine, a traumatic thing happened to him.

When the siren wailed, the whole family, as they had practiced, went to the fallout shelter at the end of Frankenholme Street.

Sebastian remembers the darkness, then the sudden brightness and then the oozing of blood. When the sun came up again, Sebastian was the only one left.

Only dust and shadows filled what was left of the shelter.

Then he remembered what his mother had told him that day - so long ago - and went off to find the nearest circus.

bobby stevenson 2014