Sunday, 19 March 2017

Fault Lines

It will never be perfect,
My Grandmother, said,
Not your life, not your love,
Not your heart or your head,
It will never be perfect,
And you can't make it so,
Just accept there are fault lines,
And let the rest go.

bobby stevenson 2017

Friday, 17 March 2017

If All The World

If all the world went dark today,

And the yellow sun no longer shone,

And we felt our paths from place to place,

And loved by voice and words alone,

If we no longer saw our faces,

With all the tales that eyes can tell,

Would you and I remain as lovers,

Or would our hearts grow dark as well.

bobby stevenson 2017

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Last Song

They had known about it for the longest time. Years, even. The scientists had seen it a long way out and knew it would hit. 

Because of the time available, they had shipped off many from the planet. Some to Mars but even that wasn’t safe.

Eddie and Sheena had been one of the few who had decided to stay. Not for them a place they hadn’t been born on. Where they couldn’t call home.

They had been childhood sweethearts, having first met at school, and they both knew instantly that this was each other’s soul mate.

So, when the news came that each of them would be thirty-one years old when it hit the Earth, they both knew - without talking about it - that they would never leave. They would face it together.

The part of it they hadn’t foreseen was what would be the last song on the car speakers as they drove off into the sun.

He wanted something by Springsteen and she wanted a song her mother had always sang to her. Something by Cat Stevens.

A minute or so before the end, she kissed him, smiled at him, then switched off the radio and used the final seconds to say:

‘See you on the other side’. She then grabbed his hand.

He turned to kiss her……

bobby stevenson 2017

Once Upon A Shoreham Village Fete

It happens, it happens to everyone, doesn’t it? You tell a little white lie and it blows out of all proportions, it runs away and starts a life of its own. It gains a wide circle of friends (more than you have yourself) and then the lie grows so gigantic that it sends you a postcard from somewhere. Think I’m exaggerating? Okay, maybe a little. See there I go again, lying. Perhaps in your favour you would have to say that it was done for the best of all reasons – trying to cheer people up.

If Alison hadn’t been ill that day, or at least if she hadn’t been recovering from a night out in the village, then Jane wouldn’t have had to take Alison’s place; so, if anyone was to blame it was Alison and her obvious drink problem. Okay, that’s another lie, Alison doesn’t have a drink problem. She had only been at the Mount to taste the wines, and had forgotten to stop. But the result was the same, Alison was lying in her bed promising the universe that she had drunk wine for the very, very last time in her life, and that not only was she going tee-total but she would attend church regularly and help the people of Africa – if the universe would only stop her blinking head from hurting as much as it did.

All that was beside the point, for it meant that Jane was now required to fill her best friend’s shoes. When she had agreed to help at the Fete meeting all those months ago, it hadn’t seemed like a possibility, and so Jane was happy to nod her head when they asked for a deputy for Alison. It made them sound like a couple of cowboys.

The Shoreham Village Fete was full of all the usual bits and pieces; music, vintage cars, a bar, a tea room (run by the children and their mums) and the always present ne’er-do-wells, who turned up once a year to promenade around the school ground.

To save money, in this time of austerity, the Fete committee had decided to find the big central acts for the day (those who inhabited the centre ground – literally) within the large and obvious talent of the village itself. How hard could it be to procure an act of such breath-taking ability that the village would be talking about it for weeks (or maybe just on the Monday morning)?

It was Elsa Fairweather who had opened the bid by telling the committee that she had once been a ballerina (the truth was that she’d spontaneously broken into dance during the Christmas play at school when she was acting as third shepherd – she had got fed up pointing at the Star and decided that shepherds might dance in times of boredom). She was now twenty-seven years of age and hadn’t done anything so physical for the last twenty years.

Elsa was one of those ladies who tended to get up everyone’s nose – it wasn’t what she did, or said, or in the way she acted – she just annoyed people. Every village has at least one Elsa – it is the rule. Elsa wasn’t a bad person, rather she was just someone who had got off the bus at the wrong stop.

Not to be outdone by her nemesis, Alison had said that she could tap-dance – when Elsa remarked that so could she – Alison had upped the stakes by adding that what she had meant to say, was that she could tap-dance while standing at the top of a ladder. Elsa took a little time to recoup and then opened with another bid, by saying that she could stand on her hands at the top of the ladder while singing the National Anthem.

Jane was sure she could hear Alison swearing under her breath – but there wasn’t enough time to ask her, for, by then, Jane had told the committee that she could sing all the songs from Oklahoma while tight-rope walking across the sports' field.

Alison definitely heard Elsa say an extremely rude word out loud, and one or two of the Fete committee also heard her. Mr Grove’s face went a very tomato red as he fiddled with his cardigan buttons.

Elsa’s husband gave his wife one of those ‘here we go again’ looks and nodded to her to go to the back of the hall. Elsa and her long-suffering husband huddled together in the corner and it was difficult for Alison to hear what they were saying.

That was when Alison came up with a rather neat plan – every few seconds, she coughed, and when she did that, she used the noise to cover the rocking of her chair back a little. Although Alison thought she was being subtle, she had moved her chair back several feet (after a few coughs) and was heading towards Elsa – her less-than-subtle plan being obvious to most of those in the hall.

Never-the-less, the plan worked and Alison was sure she heard, Derek (Elsa’s husband) say ‘you cannot be serious, you know you can’t sky-dive’.

After a few minutes (which just gave Alison enough time to stand up and move her seat – less subtly - back to where it had originally been) Elsa reluctantly gave up and said that Alison should sing the songs from the musical while walking a tight-rope. The head of the committee had asked if Alison had an understudy, and Alison had grabbed Jane’s arm and shoved it up in the air. Jane wondered what harm could it possibly do?

So, when Jane got the phone call on the Saturday morning of the Fete – it was Mrs Bacchus, the stern one who always smelled of mothballs – who had told Jane that Alison was incapacitated (some old illness she had caught on a gap-year in India, apparently) and that Jane (as her understudy) would have to take Alison’s place.

And that is why, on that sunny morning, Jane was dressed in her mother’s old tutu with a tartan umbrella for balance, and getting ready to walk a tight-rope (literally and metaphorically) at the Shoreham Village Fete.

Jane saw two things as she started the death-defying feat – when I say death-defying, Alison had originally said she would walk the rope at 20 feet above the ground (she had actually said five feet but after much tutting from Elsa, Alison had ended up agreeing to that neck breaking height). When Jane (in her tutu) started crying, the committee kept lowering the rope until it was just two feet high. Still high enough to twist an ankle, was how Jane had sold it to them.

So, with all the great and good, and ne’er-do-wells from Shoreham Village watching, Jane managed to move several feet along the rope while singing a Bay City Rollers' song (she didn’t actually know too many proper songs - she had thought of singing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ – until the nerves she was suffering from had actually given her that very problem).

The other thing she saw, whilst standing aloft, was Alison at the back of the crowd, (in her sunglasses) smiling. She even had the cheek to wave and stick her thumbs up. To add insult to injury, Alison mouthed the words ‘good luck’. 

Jane was just about to mouth a very rude word back to her when little Barry Smith twanged the rope she was standing on – causing her to suddenly fly across the bales of hay and straight into the bar, ending up with half a packet of Chorizo flavoured crisps up her nose.

There was spontaneous applause from the whole field.
The committee have asked Jane if she can repeat her act next year. Elsa is learning to sky-dive.

(The real Village Fete is on Sunday June 11th, 2017)
bobby stevenson 2017

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Later in life, Thing would look back on those early years and wonder.
Wonder if the perfect moment of his life was back then, and if that was true – was the perfect moment the happiest?

That isn’t to say, there aren’t perfect times later in life and in some cases, it may be that a person is older when that perfect moment arises. But there are other pivotal points: your first real kiss, holding your child, going on honeymoon with your love, or being told that the x-ray was clear – but that isn’t the perfection I am referring to, I am talking about those few seconds, or minutes, or hours when all the stars are aligning at the same time and all of them are shinning directly at you.

To be honest, Thing’s perfect moment did happen back then. It came when he had circled the Sun six times, and with a few weeks left over. Thing’s mother and father had decided to take their son to see the school that Thing would be attending when the new semester began. He was the first of his kind at the school, and it was complicated by the fact that Thing hadn’t spent much time in human company. To say, as parents, that they were nervous about their child’s future was probably an understatement.

The plan was to introduce Thing to the Principal of the school and for that person, man or woman – but most definitely human – to show little Thing around the building. This exercise allowed the kids to be that little bit less stressed on their first day.

Normally several children were taken on the grand tour at a time, but because Thing was a Thing and not a person (their words, not mine) he was to be interviewed and given the tour on his own.

It turned out that the Principal was a woman, a rather large woman, by the name of Mrs Schwartz. She had a pleasant way about her, and a very deep and loud laugh. Any kind of laugh is a good noise, and so it was with the lady – she was the very essence of kindness itself.

She explained that Thing was to be their first Thing in the school, but that other schools in the county had their share of Things, and that the William Penn Elementary school was very excited at the prospect of their first Thing. Indeed, Thing was to be welcomed with open arms.

His teacher would be a young woman by the name of Edith Fallen and that she was the best of the best. Both Thing’s parents seemed to relax a little at this news.

Thing and his family were taken on a tour of the school, and at every turn there seemed to be a very great possibility of exciting work to do in the school. Thing’s cave was safe and warm but this building was full of every wonderful idea under the sun.

It was that day, that hour, that minute as Thing left to walk down the mountain-side to go to school for the very first time, that his life solidified.  Thing insisted on walking to school himself - although, his father walked a little way behind him to keep an eye on him.

Before that, however, his father and mother stood at the door of the cave and waved off their little treasure. As Thing looked back at the warmth and safety of those standing at the cave, and his own excitement at a new world just beginning – it was then, right at that split second, that Thing passed his life’s perfect moment. He wouldn’t know it at the time – but later, much later, he would come to realize that life would never ever be so perfect again.

bobby stevenson 2017

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Adam and Eve's Honeymoon

Sometimes things just change. Not for any particular reason – at least, not one anyone can understand – but perhaps because the Universe has shifted, or a God has smiled, or someone has taken a road less travelled. But when it happens, and it will - it makes a change, and one that is always irreversible.

The folks we are concerned with in this story were ‘Lifers’, that is to say, they were two children who had been born, grown and lived all their lives in the chalk caves and tunnels beneath Kent. When the inevitable happened: when the enemy (and you know who, I mean) had finally lost patience with the West – they sent their less than perfect bombs over in our direction. Some fell short of their targets, some flew on into the Atlantic – but one or two of the more lethal kind, landed where they were needed.

And with that came the long-time of darkness.

Those who could do so, moved into the areas beneath their feet. They spread through the tunnels and rooms which had been used as forts to deal with the threat of Napoleon upon this little island. This subterranean land had now become the only home that anyone had ever known.

At first the elders had told stories of the lands above, at least the way it had once been. They had talked of cinemas, and churches, of burger joints and buses. They had told tales of a million and one things that the new generations, the Lifers, could only imagine – and probably not very accurately, but just enough to whet the appetites of the two of whom we speak.

Ironically these two were called Eve and Adam, perhaps that seems strange to the readers, but in those days, in those tunnels, the Bibles and God were sometimes all people had to hold on to in the dark, so children were named accordingly.

Adam and Eve wanted to marry, which, in itself, was not the strangest of requests – what was different about them, was that they wanted to spend their Honeymoon in the lands above. There were those (as inevitably there always are) who said that those lands did not exist and had never existed – that, what was in the tunnels were all that life had ever been and to say otherwise was blasphemy.

In some parts of the lands beneath, people were punished or put to death to suggest that a better life lay above. Some folks were ever treated as insane. One man, who they called the new Marco Polo had written a book about his travels in the fantastical lands of the surface. The book changed hands secretly and for stupendously high prices -, and in most areas the book was either considered an illegal document or the crazy thoughts of a madman.

Adam and Eve had both read the book, and both had set their hearts on travelling through Polo’s journeys. There was talk of a great city above their heads, and according to the new Marco, it was known as The Angel Islington - he wrote that had witnessed, with his own eyes, a sign which said as much.

And that is how they had found each other; through a secret group which met in long forgotten caves, and who studied the works of new Marco Polo.

To be caught attempting to move above from their sector, meant years of incarceration or being locked in the dark-room until the air ran out. Both Adam and Eve were willing to take that chance, and they felt that following the tunnels would eventually lead to an exit above. There were also stories of folks who had tried and had spent years travelling the endless tunnels, until they died of madness or starvation. None of it was ever proved, but then stories were only used to keep folks in their place.

Eve and Adam planned to get married on the second week in the month of Abba (no one knew what the origins of the name were, but it was a favourite month to wed). Our couple played along with the story, that for their Honeymoon they were going to travel on the rail to the large cave called Dover.

However, after the wedding and after bidding farewell to their families, they had made their way to the upper, forbidden chamber where they had stored their escape clothes. They kissed each other, held each other tight, then put on their masks. They took one final photo – the one which they left behind for those who would come looking for them.

Nothing was ever heard from Adam and Eve again but there are still stories about them, stories that are whispered around the tunnels, stories that bring hope and fire to cold hearts - and perhaps one day I will tell you.

bobby stevenson 2017