Friday, 24 July 2015

Time Flies and Hope Floats

Time Flies

One morning when Olivia was still half asleep, she heard her Grandma talking to her Grandpa all about things that fly. At least she thought that was what they were talking about because the last thing she heard her Grandpa say was…
“…It’s funny how time flies.”
Then Grandpa headed out the door hollerin’ and laughin’ to himself, so hard that he was sneezing all the way down the path.
“Serves the old goat right,” said Grandma.
“It sure does,” said Olivia without any real idea what she was talking about.

Olivia had made a note to herself that when she got to school she’d ask her teacher about Time and why it flew about the place. However she didn’t reckon on meeting with Smiling Joe, first. This was the boy who knew everything about everything and all the rest there was to know.
“Can I walk with you to school, Missy?” Asked Joe.
“Sure,” said Olivia, who secretly liked Joe. “What cha been doing?”
“Down the creek, Missy, trying to catch me a big old fella’ by the name of Captain.”
As well as knowing everything about everything, Joe was also the best fisherman this side of the Hill. Well, that was according to Joe, at least.
Olivia looked around but couldn’t see any fish.
“Heck, I’m savin’ catchin’ the Captain for another day.” Then Joe whistled a little tune that Olivia liked and they walked on to school together.

“Joe, can I ask you a question?” Asked Olivia.
“If I don’t know the answer then it ain’t worth knowing,” said Joe, kinda confidently.
So Olivia asked him if Time really did fly and Joe told her that it surely did and if you sat on the Old Creek Road, the one that led out of town……
“….And were real patient, then eventually you’d see Time flying passed you real fast.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.” 

Olivia was pleased with that answer and started to whistle Joe’s little tune as they walked on to school together.The end of the week couldn’t come fast enough for Olivia and so, on Saturday around lunchtime, she headed down to the Old Creek Road and sat down and waited on Time flying passed her.

An hour passed, except it seemed like forever to Olivia - when suddenly Herbert, the dog from Asker’s Farm, came wandering along the road.
“What cha doing?” Asked Herbert.
“Ain’t it obvious, I’m waiting on Time flying passed,” said a very important Olivia.
“You are? It does?” Asked a bewildered Herbert. “Then mind if I wait too?”
“Don’t mind if you do,” said Olivia.
So Herbert sat beside Olivia, really excited about the arrival of Time.

While they were waiting, Herbert and Olivia talked about this and that, for Olivia knew a lot about this and that. They were having a real good time when Scrimpy The Ass, from the next town over, also happened to be walking passed.
“What cha doing?” Asked Scrimpy The Ass.
“Why we’re waiting on Time flying passed.”
“Well I never,” exclaimed Scrimpy. “Mind if I join you guys?”
And both Olivia and Herbert said they’d be delighted if Scrimpy joined them. So Scrimpy sat down and waited.

The whole time the three of them were talking about this and that, since it seemed Scrimpy was quite knowledgeable about this and that as well.
The afternoon grew old and it was time to go home, and since Olivia had had such a great time with her new pals, Herbert and Scrimpy, she’d forgotten about waiting for Time to fly.
“Perhaps we can do this again next Saturday?” Asked Herbert.
And they all agreed that it sounded like a great plan and so that is what they did. 

Hope Floats

The moment she opened her eyes, she knew it was a Saturday. This was Olivia’s very best day of the week since folks were always asking her to do things on Sundays; but not on Saturdays. Olivia couldn’t stop smiling.

“Mornin’ Grandma,” said Olivia as she skipped into the room.

“Why sweetpea, you is sure bouncing today,” said Grandma. “Now you are going to have to eat your breakfast before you do anymore skippin’. You hear me?”

Olivia just nodded, it was easier just to agree with her grandma when she was talking like that.

“Where’s Grandpa?” Asked Olivia.
“Why sweetpea, he’s out in the yard feeling sorry for himself. Real sorry. A few hours in the fresh country air and he’ll be right as rain again.”

When Olivia finished her breakfast and had helped her grandma with the washing, she ran out into the yard to see what was wrong with her best pal.

“What’s up, Grandpa?”
The old man turned and smiled, “Mornin’ best friend, you is looking ready for living,” he said. “Ready for livin’,” and then he chuckled so hard that he nearly fell off his stool.
“Grandma says you’re feeling sorry for something,” said Olivia, helping her grandpa back on the stool.

“It is something and nothin’, sweetpea, something and nothin’,” said Grandpa.
And then Grandpa explained that he had lost some work when the Shanter family, in the next valley, had decided to move on to somewhere nearer the coast.

“Just means we’ll be little poorer for a while, but I tell you sweetpea, something always comes down that road, just when you least expect it.It might not be what you are looking for but it sure will be what you are needing right there and then.”

So Olivia asked her grandpa what it was he was expecting to come down the road, and he just turned to her and said with a smile, “why hope, little one, hope.”

And with that Olivia walked off to where she knew she would find the things she was looking for. The road was just outside of town and was called Old Creek. It had been a turnpike once upon a time, but no one really used it to get anywhere, anymore.

Yet Olivia knew that if anything was going to come past it would be on the Old Creek, so she sat down and made herself real comfortable. Olivia just sat there waiting, and waiting and waiting.
"These thing sure take a long time,” she said to no one in particular. Just then Herbert turned up.

“Thought I’d find you here, Olly,” said Herbert. He was the dog from Asker’s Farm and tended to go walkabouts on a Saturday. The Askers used to try and tie him up but he’d just chew through the rope and go walking. So they eventually gave up and let Herbert do his own thing.

“What cha doing?” Asked Herbert.

“Why you always ask me that, Herbert. Ain’t it obvious?” Asked Olivia.

“Not really,” said Herbert.

“I’m waiting on Hope coming down the road. My Grandpa says he needs some and I thought if I wait here, I could get him some,” she said.

“Mind if I wait with you?” Asked Herbert.
“Don’t mind if you do,” said Olivia.

So they waited and talked, then talked and waited, but Hope seemed to be taking its time.

They were having a real interesting time when Scrimpy the Ass, from the next town over, also happened to be walking past.

“What cha doing?” Asked Scrimpy The Ass.

“Why we’re waiting on Hope coming down the road,” said Herbert.

“Why so?” Asked Scrimpy in his funny way of talking.

“’Cause Olivia’s grandpa needs some real quick,” Herbert replied.
"Mind if I wait with you?” Asked Scrimpy.

“Don’t mind if you do,” said Olivia. “Make yourself comfortable.”

So they sat and talked about this, and that, and everything in between.

Then Herbert looked at Olivia and said,”D’you mind if I ask a question?”

“Sure,” said Olivia and Scrimpy.

“Well, I know this sounds strange but I just wondered what Hope looked like, in case I don’t recognize it.”
“Well, according to my Grandpa, it won’t be what you’re expecting but it’ll be what you need,” said Olivia, wisely.

So Olivia, Herbert and Scrimpy all looked down the road looking for one thing and expecting another. And what they didn’t know, was that each of them was looking for a different type of hope.

By the time it came to sundown, they had wondered if maybe Hope had passed them by while they were talking.

Then Scrimpy said something that had them all thinking:
“Maybe your grandpa, has to sit on the road himself to get his own Hope. Maybe you only find your own. And maybe us talking and being friends was the Hope we needed for today and that is what we got.”

And they all agreed that perhaps you can only look for your own Hope and that it doesn’t ever look like what you were searching for.

“Next Saturday?” Asked Olivia.
“Sure,” said Herbert.
“Wouldn’t miss it,” said Scrimpy.
And each of them headed off in different directions, and each of them with a little Hope inside.

bobby stevenson 2015

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


There was a time, long ago, when Thing had been at his happiest. In those days he would sit at the cave entrance watching, tasting and listening to all the world and what it could offer. Inside the cave his parents would be peacefully sitting, talking to each other. It was the best of times, as someone once said.

One warm summer’s evening he heard a tune drift up from the town below, it was one that he had heard several times before. It appeared to be a favorite of the girl who lived in the farm that sat on top of the lavender field. It was a song by an English band, the song was called ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache’.

Thing had wondered what the song was about. How could a dream home be a place of sadness? Wasn’t his home, his cave, a place of love, a place to feel safe - a place to return to at the end of the day?
But that was in the days when Thing took his family life for granted. That was in the days before his mother took sick, before his father took her to a hospital and said they would return. They still hadn’t, and now he sat waiting on them.
Now he understood what the song meant.

Yet in those days of waiting, Thing had grown both in stature and inside himself. He had realized one particular, important point. It wasn’t his mother’s fault she had grown sick. It probably wasn’t even his father’s fault that he hadn’t returned home. The kids in the town, and in the school, who had bullied him, who had called him names – it wasn’t those children who were the problem. It was life.

Thing had come to realize that we all fought each other over the pettiest and grandest of problems, yet wasn’t it life who had ganged up on us, set us against each other and stood back and watched?
Thing hadn’t asked to look different from the other kids in school. The kids in school hadn’t asked for parents who taught them to be intolerant of differences. Yet here we all were, blaming each other for everything and in the background life was giggling behind a door.

Thing realized you couldn’t beat life – for in the end when life grew bored with you, it wore you down and pushed you aside. But, and this was where he was beginning to mature, you could win little victories in every minute of every day by smiling back in life’s face and saying ‘is that all you’ve got?’.

But life could only do one thing and that was to try and destroy your dream home. Thing was appreciating that you could build and re-build your dreams, again, and again, and again. All it had to be was one more than life’s attempts.

Sure life would take another shot at you, but if we all realized that no one got off without some heartache in their home - then maybe this would lead to us all appreciating  each other a little better and finally seeing that there was only one common enemy – life, itself.

Thing yawned and finally called it a night. Thing headed to the back of the cave humming the tune to that English band’s song – and smiling to himself – knowing that tomorrow, he would think of another way to build a new dream home.

bobby stevenson 2015

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Me and Buzz and the Olimpicks.

Buzz was just Buzz and things weren’t gonna change that – no matter how hard anyone tried.

There was a time when he was gonna be an movie star, then there was the time when he was gonna be President, and then that crazy summer when he said he was gonna be in the Olimpicks (or somethin’ like that).Now I ain’t too sure about what the Olimpicks are, but I think they has got to do with runnin’ and stuff – serious runnin’.

I told Buzz that I thought that he was crazier than a sack of cats on a hot day and that the Olimpicks was about runnin’ and what did he know about that kinda what-cha-ma-do? 

He just gave me one of his looks, the ‘don’t tell me what I can and can’t do’ kinda stares and then said he was gonna be in the Olimpicks and that was that.

He said that the Olimpicks only took folks that knew what they were doing and to stop the crazy folks joinin’ in, like Big Carter from the next town over, they moved the Olimpicks each time they held them.
“So you’re tellin’ me, Buzz that they keep movin’ to stop the crazy folks findin’ them?”

And Buzz told me that was the case, and I gotta say I had to believe him ‘cause Buzz has never really told me a lie or anythin’. Well except that time he said that his Great-Grandma had been married to a guy called Edison and that she had invented the ‘lectric light. Might still be true, who can say?

Anyhoo, Buzz says that he’s gotta start trainin’ for the sport which is gonna win him a ‘Cold Medal’ (yep, I’ve no idea what a cold medal is either but that’s what he said, so it must be true).

Buzz asked his Uncle Bert what kinda sports they had in the Olimpicks and his Uncle Bert told him that there was a running race for people who had one leg shorter than the other and that was probably his best bet.

Well I gotta say that Buzz was a might upset on account that both his legs were the same length. I know this fact ‘cause he made me measure them several times. No matter what he did they were always the same. The following week he came to school with a boulder tied around one of his ankles, to try and make one leg longer. Mrs Fabert, the teacher, said that Buzz would need to study real hard just to be an idiot.

No, I ain’t sure what that meant either.

The problem was that everything Buzz did to make his leg either shorter or longer caused him to run around in a circle – and I kinda wondered what race involved running around in a circle.

“Why they all do,” said Buzz to me. “Everyone knows that.”

Well, I didn’t and that’s for sure.

Buzz had probably been training for a couple of weeks, when I saw him being chased by one of the Cops from the Town Hall. Every time Buzz ran anywhere, folks thought he had probably stolen somethin’.

Buzz confided in me that he was getting’ mighty tired in the way the folks in town were treatin’ a respectable sports star like him.
“If I run in a straight line, the cops chase me. If I run in a circle, folks come out to watch and see how long it takes before I go dizzy and fall over. I heard they were takin’ bets.”

And he was right and I heard it was double the money, if Buzz was threw up.

On the followin’ Tuesday I heard a bang over by the old stables, and found Buzz flat on the ground and his face all black and smokin’. I asked him if I should call a doctor and he said he was fine. He was just bein’ like his Great-Grandma and trying to invent somethin’.

I asked him ‘bout the Olimpicks and he said, what in the name of a crazy kid was I talkin’ about.
That’s Buzz for ya.  

bobby stevenson 2015 


Thing was never going to sing at the Paris Opera but that wasn’t the point; he sang because he liked it. It made him happy. Thing’s father was always whistling a tune and he did it so often that most times he didn’t seem to notice. 

“What’s that tune?” Thing would ask.
“Heck, if I know,” said his dad.

Thing's mother would also ‘tut’ at that point because she didn’t think that folks should say ‘heck’.

Thing’s father had told him that the Great Thing in the sky probably put a tune in everyone’s heart when they were born and that was the tune they worked by all their lives. It was the one they sang when they were scared, or happy, or in love, or sad or just because they felt like it.

Thing had a song about jumping as high as the clouds and on those days when he was blue or later on when he missed his parents, he would shout it out as loud as he could all around the cave and do you know what? He felt a whole lot better.

Sometimes in town he would sing the song real quite like so the he didn’t feel so alone.
Some sunny days in spring, folks would bring their geetars down to the town square and they’d sing about this and that and the other. Big one and small ones would stand and listen and join in -, if the feeling took them. It left everyone humming tunes as they walked home.

Thing wished he could sing just one song that would make folks happy and have them all whistling tunes and perhaps they would stand around and join in.
One day at school his teacher asked each person in the class to stand and do something special, tell a joke, perform a card trick, tell about their grandma – anything that was a little unique to them.

Thing listened in awe at the folks in his class, he laughed, he cried, he applauded and he hollered when the person deserved it -  although as Mrs Hills said, ‘hollering was for outside’.
Then it was Thing’s turn and he stood and he sang his jumping song. I think it was Casey Briggs who shouted ‘What cha call that? A thong? He ain’t singing he’s thinging’ and most of the folks in the class began to laugh. Mrs Hills clapped her hands, thanked Thing and asked him to sit again.

For a long time after and a long time after that, folks would shout across the street at him about ‘Thing the thinger who sings thongs’. Now I ain’t telling you this story about Thing so you’ll feel sorry and all – Thing wasn’t like that -  Thing had a song in his heart which had been placed there by the Great Thing in the sky the day he was born and it was his duty to sing the song if it made him happy.

Thing once asked his Dad, when he’d had a bad day with the folks in school, if maybe the problem was that we all had different songs in our hearts and that some folks didn’t want to listen or couldn’t hear the other folks’ tunes.

“Heck, you just might be right there, little ‘un’,” said his dad.
His mother gave out another ‘tut’ because of that word being used again.

Thing realised that the way he heard his song was probably not the way the other folks heard it. It didn’t mean anyone was wrong or right. It was just that a tune is a tune and only really exists to make you happy. If the others don’t like your tune then you should just sing it to yourself.

So you’re already packing up this story and thinking we’ve arrived at the end of it - but you’d be wrong.
One day when Thing was sitting at the door of his cave, some horses were grazing nearby and just at that point Thing felt the need to sing the tune he’d been given.

One by one the horses came over and stood and listened and shook their heads, they way horses do, and then they rubbed their heads against Thing as a way of thanking him.

You see, you couldn’t make everyone like your song - that wasn’t why you had been given it - but sometimes when you least expected it your song might seep into someone else’s heart and make them feel a whole lot better .

Thing decided you should never let anyone stop you singing your song and never ever change it or you just might miss a friend who likes your tune. 
bobby stevenson + THING 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Street

My family were that family - you know, the ones most likely to amount to nothing. The ones who lived in the street voted most likely to contain a serial killer. We were never going to amount to anything, leastways that’s what the schools told us, that’s what the teachers told us, that’s what everyone told us: the strange thing is they were probably right.

I left school and did what was expected of me, took the first crap job that I was offered. Once again, I did not disappoint. I worked nights in one of those shipping companies, routing boxes to here, there and everywhere. In the morning I would try to keep awake as long as possible, then grab a few hours sleep (allowing for people living their lives outside my window) – then I would start it all over again.

I never travelled anywhere, not really – maybe into the city now and again, but foreign shores were, well foreign to me. What I did was spend my spare cash on was technology. If I couldn’t go into space then outer space could come to me. I loved my games, my music, my movies, my Ipod, my computer – anything technical and I worshipped it.

So maybe I wasn’t as stupid as folks said.

Then some kid, some kid half my age came up with an idea – an app to use with your phone. What you did - was point your phone down any street and you would see it as it looked years before. Something like an historical Google map. The computers had analysed the old photos – and then the phone worked out where you were standing, and you could see on your phone the way the street might have appeared 50 years ago or even a hundred. Okay, I can see some of you ain’t excited but I found it fascinating.

And that was when I saw the photo, I mean THE photo, the one that changed me for good.

I pointed the phone down a street my grandparents had lived in – long before they had moved to ‘no-hope’ avenue and had given birth to my family. It was brilliant, I could shift my phone from side to side, I could turn 360 degrees and I could see the street as it was in 1942.

And there (and I checked and checked again) was the frozen figure of my grandfather running with two kids in his arm as the building was about to fall.

My grandfather, my heroic grandfather saving kid’s lives during a bombing raid.

And that is all there is to this story. I walked back down my street of lost dreams with my head held high. I came from a family of heroes and that put a smile on my face and a skip in my step. 

bobby stevenson 2015