42. Chain Reaction.

After Mikey

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Dear Mikeysaurus,
Lars Boom –  national road race, time trial and cyclocross champion, winner of the Tour of Belgium and with stage wins in the Vuelta España and Le Tour de France to his credit– along with Geraint Thomas, Mark Cavendish and rest of the pro peloton is presently hurtling towards the Welsh Capital.  With 1116 kilometres of road racing over 6 days and a fast 16-kilometre Individual time trial already under their belts, the 104 riders remaining in the tour will start today’s 180-kilometre final stage from Gloucester, tired. Torrential rain, combined with fierce winds and ‘lumpy’ roads will suck the energy right of the rider’s legs. Rather them than me.  All other things being equal, Boom should hang onto a slim lead.

Just as I couldn’t escape the feeling it should have been me walking you to school, I can’t move past the idea that you should be…

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41. School Starts.

After Mikey

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Dear Mikey,
Traditionally, Monday 4th of September marks the beginning of the Autumn term, which means you’ll be embarking upon your school career either today or tomorrow. School! Exciting and challenging times are ahead!  No thanks to Mamma, it’s yet another significant mile stone I’ll be missing out on. Many others have come and gone. Losing your first tooth, kicking a ball for the first time, the tricky business of getting dressed all by yourself, painting your first picture, swimming without arm bands, not to mention riding a bike without stabilizers and performing your first bunny hop. I’ve missed out on them all. Had I witnessed any of these first-time events, I can confidently say, I would have been beaming. My joy would not have been centred on your achievements, however. It never was, it never will be. Your very existence is enough to bring joy to my heart…

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40. Extraing Hope

After Mikey

DSC_0068 (2)Dear Mikey,
Yesterday was unusual.  It began by being woken to the ear-piercing-cats-being-strangled sound of Zareen’s brakes at 5.10 am.  I bolted out of bed, raced downstairs onto the street, still in my pyjamas, barely awake.  Confused, I apologised for not being ready.  In the hall, I asked Zareen to put my coffee pot on the stove.

“It’s ready to go,” I said, leaving her to crack on with it.

Meanwhile, in the shower, I realised Zareen wasn’t due until 5.45.  It wasn’t me who was running late, it was Zareen who was early. A full 35 minutes early! Early! Highly unusual. Remodelling of the M6 and a 50-mph speed restriction near Sandbach means tail backs and time delays for anyone – Zareen included –   travelling south, are common. Before hitting the road – no, not literally young man – I gulped down that much-needed coffee, grabbing a couple of…

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After Mikey

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Mamma grabbed the Top Hat before anyone had the chance to think.  She insisted on using her own dice. Painted red with white spots they looked ordinary, at first.  But when she threw a six, elbowing other players aside to go first and threw double after double thereafter, I had my suspicions.  She scooped up Kings Cross early in the game. The remaining three stations succumbed to her buying power. The utilities fell into her hands.  Mayfair, Park Lane, Bond, Oxford and Regents Streets, followed. And through clever negotiations I’m still at a loss to understand and not listed in the rule book, she acquired all the green, yellow, and red squares: Piccadilly through Strand.  The lot.  As a plague of garish green proliferated from one corner of the board, rents soared, bankruptcies filed.  And then the hotels came. Accused falsely, carted off in the early hours for a stint…

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On Monday 3rd July 2017, Adeline Anderson-Ardht –well equipped with paternal language genes and maternal business genes, all round over achiever, ravishingly beautiful and wearing a silk scarf infused with her mother’ scent– boards the 06.50 Deutsche Flügel flight from Manchester to Flughafen Hamburg.  At the precise moment the jet’s load transfers from the undercarriage to the wings, Adaline sits back and thinks: “I’ve finally arrived.  My first European business trip.  My first big deal for Oil Corp. My time to shine…”


Pilot Officer Barlcay

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Behind him is the burned-out hulk of his Hawker Hurricane Mark IID, more opened tin can than tank-busting tin opener. Above him is the searing mid-afternoon sun and all about him is a vast expanse of snaking sand dunes.  Pilot Officer Barclay is in a tight spot.  With no radio, he reasons there is little chance of rescue and with no water, he reconciles himself to the inevitability of his fate.  It boils down to a binary choice.  If he stays with the plane, he’ll surely die. If he leaves it behind at least he’ll die trying to survive.

“This will be a difficult innings,” Barclay thinks as he heads out into the desert.

For the third time, he falls prostrate. Particles of sand attach to salt-encrusted lips.  In a hypnagogic state, a cinematic rendering of Barclay’s last sortie appears in his mind.
Amid tank fire from both sides, Barclay is now on a low pass. A Panzer type III is centred in the crosshairs of his gun sight. He waits for the perfect moment.  A fourteen pounder explodes at one o’clock. The sudden dip of the left wing is corrected by a quick shift of the stick to the right. Debris blasts over the cockpit and wings.   Barclay checks his machine.

“Oil pressure good.  Engine noise unaffected. Wings abraded, still attached,” He says, thanking Camm for the Hawker’s durability.

The Panzer grows in the sight…


The Key


The face peering back at him from behind the smeared surface of the hall mirror appears both familiar and unfamiliar. Sagging features coupled with the deep fissures and prominent sulci of a septuagenarian have triumphed over the chiselled ironed-out youthfulness of the ‘vicenarian,’ George thinks he remembers. But it is only that, a thought. At best a guess.  George isn’t certain of much anymore. If it not for Sally, he wouldn’t know with any certainty exactly where he lives, exactly what day it is, whether he should take the blue pill at breakfast time or the red pill at lunchtime or the red and blue pill together at dinner time.

Today is Monday, George has already taken the green pill on an empty stomach as instructed, and there’s a note next to the mirror that reads: “Breakfast date at 10 am with Wendy at the Tea Pot, love Sally.”

“A date?” George mumbles, “Thataman!” he adds applauding his virility whilst forming a grey-white side-parting, working in Brylcreem with a tortoise shell comb…