Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The girl in the yellow dress has moved...

You can now find the continuing story of Alice - the girl in the yellow dress, on her very own blog.

Click on the link above to follow

Thank you!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The girl in the yellow dress - part 2

The girl in the yellow dress now has a name - Alice.

And if you've been wondering how she got on at the ball here's the next installment...

Alice was precipitously dazzled by the flash of a camera, not a silly little flash from a mobile phone but the monster brilliance of a paparazzi lens.

“Oh dahling,” a nasally voice whined, “How splendid, a champagne coloured dress. Sebastian. Sebastian, please introduce me to your date. I did see you escort this heavenly creature, now don’t be shy.”

All of a sudden her errant date was beside her again drawing her closer as they had their photo taken together.

“Smile Alice.” He hissed from the corner of his mouth as he switched on that disarming smile again.

She should have just chucked the champagne over him there and then but instead forced a grin for the camera. 

For fortitude she took another gulp of the sparkling nectar, bubbles went up her nose, alcohol rushed to her head and she giggled causing everyone around her to titter too.

She wanted to ask what was happening but whiny woman was speaking again.

“Sebastian, you said you had a plan up your sleeve. You’ve come up trumps this time. What a fabulous marketing plan. I can see the campaign now,” She waved a graceful arm in the air. “The golden girl of Summer Brook sparkling English wine. Of course everyone is comparing it to champagne but we can’t use the name officially. And you my dear are such an English rose, with that pale yet interesting complexion. We’ll photoshop in a little blush on those cheeks but otherwise there is very little to do.”

Alice nearly choked. Did this woman ever shut up?

“But where are my manners.” The whiny whirlwind extended a slender manicured hand. “Melanie Preston Smythe with an e but not hyphenated. Sebastian and I work together in the marketing department. We put this whole  event on. Marvellous isn’t it?” Melanie drew breath for a fraction of a second as she glanced around the room. “Of course you must talk to Edgar, C.E.O. of Summer Brook. Sebastian, he’s going to just love our idea. Come on.”

And where she led it seemed they had to follow. Sebastian grabbed Alice by the hand and almost dragged her in his wake.

As Alice passed the waiter he looked a bit subdued.  He was still smiling but it was fake, never quite reaching his eyes. She noticed because he didn’t wink this time instead held the tray out in a resigned manner. As if he’d rather be anywhere else than here. I know the feeling Alice wanted to tell him.

“You might need another glass.” He sighed.

She graciously exchanged her empty glass for a full one. She reasoned she might need quite a few to get through this evening.

There's plenty more to tell, it could be a LONG short story...although so far it is still less than 1000 words. I've been inspired!

Monday, 10 April 2017

The girl in the yellow dress - part 1.

As well as being inspired to write a Ghazal poem at writing group last week I also started this story.

We were only warming up with a short time of free writing based on a picture prompt chosen from a set of postcards.

I chose the one of the girl in the yellow dress, I didn't notice her expression, or the fact she had a flower in her hand but her dress reminded me of daffodils so I started off...

"Her dress was daffodil yellow..."

And then I was off. I've since changed the beginning and who knows quite where it will end but this is part 1

He was dressed like James Bond, very suave she thought, the unmistakable tailoring of his suit had the air of extravagance to it. 

“You’ve picked a good one this time.” She silently congratulated herself.

As she was assessing his worth she noted he was making his own appraisal. She was thankful for her friend Clare whose skill with a needle created a masterpiece that showed off her curves to best effect.  
Seemingly he approved too, his smile was both dangerous and disarming and something inside her fluttered. 

Her dress was the colour of rich butter; she was no longer a margarine girl from the council estate. She was off to a grand ball, only Sebastian had neglected to tell her it was a black and white "do".

As soon as they entered the ballroom her mistake became apparent even to her uneducated eye. She stood out for all the wrong reasons, a lone daffodil in a bouquet of exquisite lilies. Common – that was the only word for it.

Suddenly she was fourteen again in a hand-me-down dress at the school disco. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes. Sebastian realising his faux pas of picking the wrong kind of flower was nonchalantly looking around and ever so slightly distancing himself from her.

It took courage not to turn her back on the lot of them and run. She didn’t belong here, that was painfully obvious. Were they already sniggering? Or was it her overworked imagination?

In the split second of deciding what to do for the best to salvage the situation a waiter appeared by her side.

“Champagne?” Glasses sparkled elegantly on a tray presented to her. “The colour perfectly matches your dress.” He added with a wink and she knew it would be rude to refuse.

Of course Sebastian had completely deserted her by this point, but she stood a little taller, breathed deeply and took a sip…

How will it end? I have a few ideas, I'll keep working on it and hopefully will share some more soon!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Garden Ghazal

Last night at my writing group I was introduced to a Ghazal poem.

To be honest I wasn’t sure before I went if I would enjoy the evening, although I dabble with poetry some of our group are much more proficient poets.

However as I’ve not managed to make it to the group for a couple of months I thought it really was time to get my writing groove back and flex my sleepy imagination.

As we progressed through the session I began to enjoy fitting my rhymes into the structure and I was still playing around with words before bed and finally came up with this…

Garden Ghazal

“Come with me,” he said. Let’s ramble in the garden.
He leads me on, our hands entangled in the garden.

“Let’s go this way,” and I follow, lost in wonder
“Mind the bluebells; please don’t trample,” in the garden.

Wildlife hidden, but “look a squirrel!”
And some pheasants startle, in the garden.

As the years go, as time passes
Plants will grow and weeds will strangle, in the garden.

Autumn, time of harvest
A reward of juicy brambles, in the garden.

But Sarah there are also leaves to sweep
Wintertime’s preamble, in the garden.

If you want to read another ghazal poem, here’s the Hip Hop Ghazal by Patricia Smith

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Promises, Blessings and Miracles

Last week I spent a few days away on a New Wine Christian conference for Women and Leadership. The accommodation was excellent, food superb; the speakers were challenging and the worship was amazing.

On Friday morning we began our worship time by singing

Give Thanks to the Lord,
our God and King,
His love endures forever… 

with the chorus
…Forever God is faithful
forever God is strong,
forever God is with us,

Immediately I was transported back to another moment in time when I sang those words with gusto.

It was exactly 6 years earlier as I drove to church for one of our regular community breakfasts. It had been raining a bit but the sun was trying to shine and as I drove and sang the most beautiful rainbow appeared directly over the church where I was headed. And I thanked God for all his promises, his goodness and faithfulness to me. God indeed is VERY GOOD.

Little did I know that 2 days later my husband would die unexpectedly from a heart attack.

The song we sang next was Everlasting God

                Strength will rise as we WAIT upon the Lord…
                …You are the Everlasting God
                You do not faint
                You don’t grow weary
                You’re the defender of the weak
    You comfort those in need
                You lift us up on wings like eagles

I couldn’t believe the song choice, although why should I have been surprised by God? This was a song we had played at Andrew’s funeral but it’s been a long while since I have stood and sobbed rather than join in with the singing. Instead I listened once more to the words of promise, those comforting words that God is with me all along. That rainbow was a foretaste of God’s amazing faithfulness as he has provided for my needs and never left me through these years.

However faithful God is, it is WAIT that has been my word for this season and it has lasted soooooo long.

While the boys have grown, moved schools, taken exams and in the case of oldest son even gone off to university I have remained STUCK, still in the same house, which hasn’t sold. I’ve been frustrated, resigned, motivated, let down, energised, demoralised and through all the ups and downs I WAIT for a new season to begin.

A few years ago I was at the New Wine summer gathering and God gave me a glorious reminder that he was still with me and had many blessings in store.

You can read about it on my own blog, or hear the interview or even get the book.

I thought my life was about to turn around from that moment but years later still I WAIT.

So often I have felt that I am on God’s pending pile, someone He will deal with tomorrow because there are so many other situations in the world that hold His attention.

Of course God’s not really like that and He has made me promises that there are blessings to come and so I hold on to them and WAIT a little longer.

At this conference I shared a room with someone I’d never met before. When I checked in my room-mate hadn’t arrived but by chance or God-incidence we happened to be sitting at the same table for dinner.

“Do you need a miracle?” She asked.

“Ummm, I don’t know!” I was hesitant. We all dream of having our prayers answered but was a “miracle” a bit excessive for my needs.

“Oh well I got this sense earlier in the week that I should buy a bottle of perfume called MIRACLE for whoever I was sharing a room with. But if you’re not sure perhaps it is for someone else after all.”

And so we left that conversation there and turned our attention back to the delicious meal before us.

Later that evening we shared a few stories but I knew I held back. There was a time when I would have started  by saying I was a widow but I’ve come to a place where I don’t want my loss to define me, I still wear my wedding ring, although I went through a phase when I didn’t.  I am learning to tell less of my backstory as new chapters are being written. In lots of ways I am moving on.

Besides saying “I am a widow” is a real conversation killer as people struggle to find the words to say back.

However the next day, sometime after our most meaningful worship time, I found the opportunity to share.

The words and tears came tumbling out. And the real issue at the moment is not the grief or singleness but our mini mansion of a 7 bedroom house, in its own grounds set in just the wrong location, an area in the North East where houses, particularly of this magnitude are just not selling.

This year I have had 2 serious offers on it, I even instructed a solicitor to get the paperwork started and I dreamed of finally moving and starting a new life somewhere more manageable, closer to church and my friends.

Both buyers pulled out and I am faced with the prospect of a future here on my own. One son is already at university, the other has started A levels, these next two years will fly by and then what do I do?
“You do need a MIRACLE!” Said my room-mate. “I should have trusted my conviction.”

She produced a beautiful bottle of sweet smelling pink perfume in a shiny box full of promise.

There was a story to her purchase; running late, she only just made it to the shops in time with 2 minutes to spare but there was the perfume on display in front of her.

MIRACLES are meant to be, divinely ordained to happen at just the right time.

And I know for sure my MIRACLE is on its way, too many things are pointing in the same direction and some things I can’t share here and now but one day I will…there is so much more to this story and that's just the bits I know about, God's overview of proceedings is like a rainbow encircling the whole.

And just to make sure I don’t forget, guess which song is currently getting a lot of airplay on the radio with a brand new version by Simple Minds and KT Tunstall…

Yes God I am listening, still waiting for now, but I have a lot more hope in my heart that this season is almost over and the fragrance of MIRACLE will one day fill the air.

( I have scattered old blog posts throughout this and here is one final thought on fragrance - a short story called The Musings of Martha.)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

November Days are full of Words

November days are full of words
Falling like leaves upon the ground
Lifeless tumbling
Crisp and brittle
A scattering of ‘sorry’s
Words with little sound

November days are full of words
Gathered together, held so tight
Tear stained letters
A source of heartfelt comfort
On a damp dark night

November days are full of words
A mountain high, too high to climb
Fearful, fragile
Doubtful, daunting
Stepping forward, reaching up
Leaves the past behind

November days are full of words
Sink deep within, becoming one
Covered over,
Wrapped, enfolded
Nourished, growing, life revealed
New journeys begun