"What was that?  Oh my god, what was that?"

"I would guess, to judge from the loud clanking and the bumpy ride, it was the lift breaking down in some way."

"Oh god!  Oh god!  No!  God!"

"Are you OK?"

"What's going to happen?  How will they get us out?  Do you think we'll fall?  We'll fall won't we?  Oh my god."

"No.  The lift won't fall.  They're very much designed with not falling in mind."

"I can feel the walls closing in.  I suffer from claustrophobia you know, I could have a panic attack at any moment.  Oh god.  Someone's got to get us out.   How can you be so calm?  We might run out of air."

"We're not going to run out of air.   Look, there are ventilation holes."

"I knew I shouldn't have come out.  My horoscope warned me.  Why do these things always happen to me?  I was late to coffee morning when Darren misplaced my car keys, those buffoons at Pret ran out of Diet Coke at lunch and now this.  Why me?"

"I couldn't possibly say."

"Life's so unfair at times.  I'll overrun on my parking ticket now.  And I'll be late for pick-up at the nursery.  They'll charge me for late collection again.  Honestly, it's outrageous; every time a lunch of mine overruns and I turn up late for darling Portia they charge me £20 for "inconvenience".  The nerve, it's as if they don't realise whose cheques keep them from the dole. "


"I think I'll sue.  Whose lift is this?  I'll be out of pocket, and I'll need a good bottle of wine to calm down after this.  Who's going to pay for that?"


"I don't think so.  I'm hardly to blame for this lift breaking down.  I imagine it's some workshy council employee derelict in their duty.  An immigrant I suspect."

"Madam.  Lifts, complex bits of engineering that they are, occasionally break down.  You are aware of this I'm sure, yet you chose to take the lift instead of climbing just one flight of stairs.  The responsibility for being in a broken lift lies almost entirely with you."

"Pardon? "

"Stop seeking to blame others when it's your own..."

"HELLO.  HELLO.  HELP.  WE'RE DOWN HERE.  Did you hear that.  I can hear voices.  Someone's coming for us.  HELP.  HELP.  WE'RE STUCK IN THE LIFT.  HELP."

"They can probably guess where we are without your..."


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He refuses to hear, striding on down the lawn.  His ungainly trainers, bought a size too large for him to grow into next year at big school, threaten to trip him nearly every step, but he stomps onward.

"Max!  Where are you going?"  Ellie is tugging his arm to slow him.  "Max.".

He stops, and turns to his younger sister.  

"I'm just going.  Away from them."  He waves his arm back towards the house and, as if he were a conductor drawing music from an orchestra the sounds of angry shouting rise once again from the dining room.  Even leaving his lunch uneaten and pushing through the patio doors into the garden hasn't stopped his parents yelling at each other.

"Please don't?" 

"It's always the same.  Every bloody weekend."  Ellie looks fearfully toward the house as he swears.  "They pretend like it's a nice family lunch, then they just row.  I've had enough."

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know.  Just go away from here for a while."

"What should I do?"  Ellie's voice is trembling, her eyes wide open and watery.  The pale of her face, full of uncertainty, contrasts the lurid Disney characters that gambol gaily across her t-shirt.

Max breathes deeply, looks at his feet and closes his eyes.  He holds his breath for a long moment, long enough for them both to hear the shouting stop, as if silenced by his stillness.  He smoothes the front of his shirt with his hand, exhales slowly, then opens his eyes to look once more at Ellie.

Don't worry Ellie.  Come with me.  Let's o and play in the treehouse for a bit".  He smiles softly.  Slipping an arm around his sister he steers her towards the bottom of the garden.

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The door closes only with a firm shoulder, creaking over the jamb and ruffling the carpet to isolate a small l-shaped room.  More furniture than space; bed, desk, wardrobe and table loom over narrow red-carpeted valleys.

The wardrobe is like a mountain, a blank-faced massif of wooden veneer topped with teetering crags of papers and files, foolscap spilling like snow and threatening to avalanche the duvet far below.  

The bedside table's dark wood is bleached with a chorus of halos from overnight drinking glasses.  A skewed pile of books sits within easy reach of the bed, train tickets jutting as ersatz bookmarks.  Above the bed posters detail improbable mountain-bike stunts and sweat-sheened cyclists powering to victory.  

At the desk and shelves, where the light spills glare over diary, homework and scraps of paper, the music system is surrounded by an ever-expanding kaleidoscope of CD cases and book spines.

At night, car headlights slide across the ceiling, left-to-right at 6:00 as commuters return to the village, and right-to-left at 11:15 when the pub kicks out.  

In autumn, the gales rush and push through the trees outside and crash on the window-pane.  In summer the window stays open through the night and leaves hush me gently to sleep.

200-ish words about somewhere indoors remembered from childhood.
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I'll admit it was his body that first attracted me.  There is something about the way the line of his torso flares up from muscular waist to shoulders broad and flat that excites me.  No outfit masks that beautiful taper, even winter coats reveal the sumptuous dip of lower back before it swells out into buttocks.

It may have been his body to first catch my eye, but since first moment my passion has been anything but shallow.  I look past the well-toned figure to see a generosity of spirit as he greets his colleagues, a potentially proud father as he plays with the children of friends, and an inspiring joy as he revels in the bars and nightclubs.  

Our time together now is interrupted often as I become overwhelmed by the certainty of future happiness.  I see us galloping horses on a beach in Corsica, the warm evening air scented with sea.  I see us brewing tea for each other as the winter evenings draw in, quiet conversations in our cosy lounge.   And I see us laughing as we push the pram containing our precious newborn through summer parks.

I'm not the only one who notices these things.  When we walk down the street, I sometimes spot others performing double-takes, unable to drink enough of him in at first gulp.  More than once I've passed young women clustered in a hateful coven and gossiping easily with the cadence that speaks unmistakeably of murmured expressions of lust followed by knots of distasteful cackling.

I bathe in this cascade of impression and feeling again as the front door of his house opens to let light fall into the evening.  He stands, silhouetted against the hall light, clad in running kit and ready for evening exercise.  As he locks the front door I shift lower into the gloom of the car seat.  This is not a suitable place for us to meet for the first time.

Another creative writing exercise, this time with the goal of unsettling the reader through an unreliable first-person narrator.
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We paddle in the shallows, waves splashing over our ankles.  The water cools the skin and forces blood from the toes so we flatten the ribbons of sand with stamps to squeeze warmth back into our feet.  

The sky ripples with cloud, and wind squeezes under cuff, up trouser leg and down collar.  Our shoulders hunch and hands search into pockets to stave off the cold.

She gossips and smiles, but anxiety billows and ebbs in my stomach even as I grin at her stories.  Somewhere at the base of the dunes, where the grass gives way to sand, lies the source of my tension.  A ring, sized to slip over her finger, sits in a box, which in turn lies in a bag.  It cannot be seen from here but each time she glances up the beach time slows as I wait for awareness to break across her face.  

She asks what we will do next.  I tell her we need to leave and my gut stabs with nerves as the moment of action draws near.
We pad across the expanse, tracking footprints over blankness, to where our shoes and socks sprawl in the sand.  The ring lurks here and spikes my heart with adrenalin.  

We both sit to brush sand from our feet, and I glance left and right, again and again.  We are alone, only a gull wheeling over the rocks will bear witness to this moment.

I rise from the log, turn and drop on one knee to face her.  One hand wrestles the box from the bag, the other flips the lid.  Under light filtered through cloud, the ring gleams.

Write like Hemingway she said, all nouns and verbs, no adjectives or adverbs.  So I did.
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Kicked by Google's decision to switch off FTP transfer for Blogger created blogs, I've moved this website to the fantastic Movable Type 5.  I've used Movable 3 in the past and been impressed, but 5 is something else entirely.  I'm still not convinced it's legal for such a powerful piece of software to be free (for me anyway).

Installation was straightforward.  Migration was not.  There's plenty of sites out there that will tell how to format a Blogger export so that Movable Type will read it, but try as I might I couldn't get MT to parse it correctly.  Even more frustratingly it would tell me had been successful, but no entries would appear.

The solution was a little arcane, so I thought I'd post it to help others in the same boat as me.  

In short, it seems MT is very picky about line endings.  I'd been saving the import file on my Vista laptop, which of course then puts a Windows standard line ending on it, which in turn caused MT to throw a wobbly on upload.  All I actually needed to do was download Notepad ++, change the line endings to Unix format and the encoding to UTF-8 and everything worked.
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For the first exercise in my creative writing class we were asked to write something "inspired by" the similies we had generated in class.

He was glad to finally be alone.  Four hours of walking had carried him up and away from the bustle of the cars and villages; the nagging intrusions of billboards and shopfronts had given way to a calming view of forest, lake and rock.

His walking poles clacked a rhythmic accompaniment to his strides over scree and boulder at the base of a limestone cliff.  He'd been contouring below this vertical rockface for ten minutes, searching without success for a break or ramp to allow him access to the higher reaches of the mountain.

A hundred metres away a bare patch of turf abutting the rockface hinted at a path that ended at the cliff itself, but as he reached the small plateau of dusty earth it became clearer the path continued into a huge crack cleaving the cliff.  Jagged fists of stone faced each other across a vertical cleft no wider than his rucksack.  

At the top of the cliff the rock on each side of the fissure looked sharp and fresh as if split just today by some ferocious force, but at the base each gnarl and crag was smooth, rounded and covered with the grease of a thousand passing hands.  

He eased through sideways, pack held awkwardly ahead of him but still bouncing off the rock as he shuffled through.  After twenty feet the split widened somewhere above his head, collecting and filtering more sunlight down to him.  A few more feet and he was able to stop shuffling, turn square to his movement and stride forward easily again.  And then the previously impassable cliff was breached and he found himself on a ledge above a crater, ringed by vertical walls flawless save for the crack he had just passed through.

Above him the sky was a cool blue and bright sunlight bleached a crescent of limestone on half the walls of the crater, but where he stood the sun couldn't reach.  It was cold here, quiet too, and he shivered involuntarily.
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For a Christmas present, Islay enrolled me in a creative writing course.  Weekly I sit in a school classroom with a diverse array of other aspiring writers.  We are given something to write about each week, and must share with the class for feedback too.  Given that I was sharing my writing with others I thought I ought to publish up on the hairy great web too.  So, expect to see a weekly entry for the next few weeks.
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I've had so much fun living the story from the sofa (see below) to today that I haven't felt the need to write about it. And so reinforcing my own comment to Tim that blogging is a mating signal.

Let me keep it brief by revealing that my wonderful girlfriend (who will remain unnamed here to keep her from Google's clutches) accepted my marriage proposal in delightful Sandwood Bay just over a week ago.

Debrett's tells me that in times past it fell to the mothers to inform friends and family, the modern world lets me use Facebook and Blogger.

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We are sitting on the sofa, talking pleasantly about matters both important and inconsequential. I have made a joke and turn modestly away as she laughs while the next conversational topics are filtered and tested in my head. In the back of mind is the sorry Sunday knowledge that soon I must leave her delightful company to return to the chaos of Linhope and beyond that the pressure of another working week.

Conversational gambit selected, I turn back to face her, and in a movement reminiscent of a cat's pounce J, funny, beautiful, wonderful J, has closed the distance between our lips with a swift bound across the cushions. I see a flash of her red t-shirt and light blue jeans and then am enveloped in face, hair, arms, lips. We kiss.

At a pause in our embrace I look her in the eye, she arches a delicate eyebrow in response and says "you were about to leave, I wanted to make the most of your being here."

I have never felt so wanted.

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