Burns Supper

Burns Night by Chris Hall lunasonline

People thronged around the marquee which had been erected on the tennis courts. Nobody knew why their little Lancashire village had been picked, but who’d question the Office of the US President?

The Women’s Institute had been tasked with preparing the celebratory supper. Mrs. Doubtworthy had suggested that they pop down to Asda for a brace of Hall’s haggises, but the other members of the WI were resolute. The haggis would be made from scratch.

Mr. Greenwood was ready with the requisite musical accompaniment. Everyone was familiar with his bagpiperly skills which he regularly practiced of a Saturday morning, when most civilized people were still abed.

At precisely 7pm, the motorcade swept into the village. Besuited security men shepherded their charge into the marquee, where the Mrs. Duckinworth, chair-lady of the Parish Council, bid him sit at the head of the table.

Mr. Greenwood’s pipes heralded the haggis which was laid before the President. Miss Lynch, the former language teacher, began the address.

The President prodded his haggis with a fork. ‘You Scottish people eat this stuff?’

Mrs. Duckinworth frowned. ‘Sir, we’re not Scottish. This is Lancashire.’

The President’s advisers muttered amongst themselves.

Mr Davies, the Geography teacher intervened. ‘Perhaps you’d intended to visit Lanarkshire?’

‘Whatever,’ growled the President. ‘I’m here now and I’m hungry.’ He stabbed a piece of haggis and thrust it into his mouth.

The room fell silent as he chewed.

‘Ugh! What is this?’ the President spluttered. ‘Forget my Scottish roots. Go get me a burger.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #30

The challenge this week was tennis.

Author’s note: I strayed far from the word prompt, not wanting to pass up the opportunity of writing about something so topical and so appropriate to Susan’s proud Scottish heritage. Burns Night, 25th January.

I give you the ‘Address to a Haggis’ by Robert Burns:

The recipe for Haggis the WI ladies used

Hall’s haggis from British Supermarket, Asdano relation, by the way!

Sadly for you US and Canadian folks, haggis has been illegal in your countries since 1971.
I shall be popping into our local Spar for mine tomorrow.

The Test

what do you see 13 by chris hall lunasonline

Alys balled her fists, digging her nails into the palms of her hands. She stepped into the stone circle. Moonlight shone on the cromlechs and lit up the faces of the members of the coven who stood in eager silence. This was the final test. Unless she could prove her mastery of the fourth element, she’d be banished from the sisterhood forever.

She raised her head and closed her eyes, centering herself. Palms back to back, she laced her fingers and took a deep breath. Muttering an incantation she opened her hands. A tongue of fire issued forth. She held her open palm aloft for all to see.

She had conjured fire.

Another word, and the fire was extinguished. Alys slowly folded her hands and clasped them gently to her chest before descending from the stone circle. ‘Thanks Sparky,’ she whispered, as the miniature dragon scurried back up her sleeve.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #13 photo prompt.
Photo credit: Pixabay

For the Greater Good

For the Greater Good by Chris Hall lunasonline
Source

Great Being Five gazed up at the three Superior Beings in Interview Chamber 4. She didn’t have to be told why she was here.

She had contravened the non-interference protocol¹, deleted one of her planets² and banished a fellow Being to the furthest corner of the universe³.

There was silence in the Chamber.

Five reflected on her transgressions. She must justify her actions.

She flung out a mind-picture of how she’d saved her lovely blue Planet Earth. One US president accidentally falling from the top of his own building had prevented the outbreak a third world war. It had only been a tiny tweak.

She visualized the moment when, years later, she’d reluctantly activated the total destruction of Planet Earth. It had been for the Greater Good. Those wicked little humans were about to infect another planet.

As for the fate of the odious Great Being Nineteen: who’d missed him with his destructive ways? Probably someone he owed money to. If anyone had contravened…

ENOUGH!

The thought-wave almost knocked her out of her chair.

The room vibrated as the Supreme Beings mind-melded.

Five gripped the arms of her chair.

Great Being Five, we are filing a guilty verdict.

Five braced herself.

However, your justifications are accepted.

You are assigned to the Academy for Wisdom.

* * * * * * *

Five sat expectantly in the big red chair in her shiny new office. Her screen flashed.
Assignment:
Great Being Nineteen – Re-education. Take all the time you need.

Five smiled. This was going to be fun!


 

Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #29

The challenge this week was interview.

——————————
¹ Accident on Earth
² And Finally She’d Pulled the Plug
³ A New Dawn

 

Don’t look back

Don't Look Back by Chris Hall lunasonline

Look away, my love. Remember it as it was. Listen to the birdsong swelling in a clear blue sky, hear the insects hum, feel the joy of the new lambs dancing in our fresh green fields.

Fix it in your mind. Our little farmhouse with its pretty garden. Smell the lavender you planted by the door, feel the cool breeze on your skin as it flutters the flower-sprigged curtains which you made last summer.

Let us go now, my love. Don’t look back. Let us leave this black and broken land and find a place where we can start anew.

 


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #28

The challenge this week was damage.

Game on, Sinead!

what do you see 11 by chris hall lunasonline

Sinead had fought and won. Finally, the Sword of Elshain, the second of the four Sacred Artifacts, was hers. The first, the Crystal of Nor, was safely tucked in her unicorn’s saddle bag, and he, Moonsprite, had gone on ahead over the dark mountain, while she followed the sunset path into its heart to find the fabled Blue Orb.

She pressed on into the gathering darkness, a halo of bats swooping and calling her onwards. The Sword began to glow, lighting her way. All she had to do was hold her nerve and follow the words of The Prophesy.

Without warning, Sinead was plunged into darkness. The silence pressed in on her.

No sight, no sound.

*    *    *

‘Arrrgh!’ Sinead screamed out in frustration. ‘Damn these power cuts. That was the furthest I’ve ever got: Level 9.’ She sighed and groped around for her head torch. Its beam cast a hollow light over the dark and silent computer screen.

She picked up her book and ran her fingers over the embossed lettering on the cover: The Prophesy.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #11 photo prompt.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Writing My City Book Launch

writing my city book launch at the Fugard Theatre with Africa Melane
Book launch discussion hosted by Cape Talk‘s Africa Melane

Last Saturday saw the launch of the #WritingMyCity book, the exciting collection of
Cape Town writing, put together by Cape Town Library Service and Open Book.

writing m city book launch at the Fugard Theatre
The Fugard Theatre was packed!

The selected authors signed a copy for the organisers, Christelle Lubbe and
Frankie Murray. Then we opened our copies and started reading each others stories.
There are some fascinating stories, poems and memoirs in the collection.

 


Here’s the piece I wrote (page 96):

I’d been late leaving school that afternoon. I’d stayed behind because nice Miss Leibrandt had been helping me with my poem.

On the way home I’d been kicking a can along the dirt pathway between the shacks when I heard shouting over on the main road. Then there was the explosion. Flames shot up into the air, all red and angry-looking. Black smoke billowed upwards.

My house was the other way, but I had to see. I peered out from the end of the lane. People were jumping up and down in the street, arms waving angrily. They were chanting.

Flames licked out of the little corner shop. My friend’s shop. Mr Kabongo whose skin was as black as night, who came from another country further up the map of Africa. Mr Kabongo who told me stories about the animals of the forest where he grew up and the people who lived there before the war in his country. Mr Kabongo who gave me sweets when I went to fetch a half-loaf for my mother.

And now his shop was destroyed. I wondered if he was safe. Had he run, as he’d run before?

Why can’t we all live together?


writing my city book on the coffee table
The latest addition to my coffee table collection

The #WritingMyCity book anthology

writingmycity new pic by mak1one
Image: Mak1one

I came across this interview yesterday about the #WritingMyCity project in which I participated as a facilitator and writer a few month’s ago.

I was particularly excited that our little group, who are part of the Women for Change programme, got a mention. Their stories obviously struck a chord even if they didn’t make it into this particular collection.

Here’s an extract from the interview:

***

Q. Tell us about the fantastic book project ‘Writing My City’

A. There are so many people with wonderful stories but rarely a vehicle to share them. To help people do this, Cape Town libraries offered creative-writing workshops earlier this year. Now we’re launching a collection of everyday Capetonians’ stories about living in the city.

Q. The project is an incredible collaboration with local libraries across the city. What is your experience of connecting with these very diverse community hubs?

A. I was so impressed with the librarians who took on this challenge. It was heart-warming that each participating library had passionate teachers, writers and poets who freely gave their time and expertise to facilitate the workshops and to help would-be writers pull their stories together.

Q. It must have been exciting getting such diverse perspectives on Cape Town. What kinds of submissions really moved you?

A. As part of the workshops, the Women for Change Group had a chance to share their stories. I cried when I heard of mothers talking about losing their children, abuse and dependencies. I also embraced how they helped each other through these experiences as one big family.

 ***

That last paragraph is so important to me. When the ladies eventually felt able to tell me their experiences I was incredibly humbled and moved.

The collection is going to be launched at an event at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in September. I’m looking forward to attending.

A copy of the anthology will be in more than 100 libraries across the city, so it will be available to a wide audience. Books don’t come cheap in this country. Copies of the book will be sold at the Open Book Festival in September. It will be awesome to see my words in print alongside the other 39 chosen Capetonians.

 


Read the full interview with Christelle Lubbe, of the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Services, and Frankie Murrey, Co-ordinator of the Open Book Festival by Carla Lever on Times Live