Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Assignment: 500 words using the following - grateful, tunneling, golliwog, vice, aubergine, wichetygrub, meditate, paper.


Inspector Tubbs moved silently through the shadows cast by the flickering torches. He was grateful for the low cloud obscuring the early-rising moon as he moved closer to the open french doors. He was now close enough to see candlelight glistening on the silverware although it offered barely enough light for the diners to read the menu. Were they going to eat – or meditate?
“The suckers forgot to bring a torch,” Tubbs chuckled to himself then whispering into his sleeve he asked “Everyone in position?”
Disembodied voices in his earphones confirmed their readiness. “Stand by,” he muttered and he sniffed the air like a hunting dog, a final instinctive check. Garlic and cumin.
“Go, go, go!” he snapped into his sleeve and he sprinted the 20 metres to the nearest window.
“Stay where you are!” he ordered a middle-aged man with silly stubble on his chin, “And put down that knife.”
On the far side of the room Sgt Slim burst through the kitchen door but stopped to scrape something from the sole of his shoe (it was mashed potato drizzled with truffle oil). DC Stodge swung into the room like an Israeli commando on one of the drapes and crouched ready for action. After blackening his face and tunneling through the nearby shrubbery he looked more like a golliwog. Somewhere a wine glass shattered as it fell to the floor and a woman screamed. Pony-tailed waiters moved forward but Inspector Tubbs stopped them with a glare.
“Nobody leaves!” he commanded. There would be no hope of finding all those black-clad waiters in the dark. A man wearing a white tuxedo over a black round-necked sweater minced around the tables and confronted the intruder.
“I’m the Maitre D’, what’s going on?”
Tubbs took from his pocket a sheet of paper. “I have here a warrant to search the premises,” he said and thrust it into the man’s hand.
“The Vice Squad?” The Maitre D’ raised his eyebrows and glanced around at some likely suspects.
“No,” Tubbs corrected, “The Pretentious Food Squad,” and he produced a small digital camera. “Just look at this, sergeant,” he said indicating a huge square white plate. In the centre of it a neat pile of food teetered amid a puddle of ‘jus’. He leaned across the table to take a snap then turned to the next culinary creation.
“Roast aubergine stuffed with witchety grub au gratin: you’re not going to eat that, are you Madame?”
He took another snap as evidence but had to consult the menu to identify the twee construction masquerading as a meal. “Foie gras with toasted marshmallow, tamari-soaked powdered almonds and limoncello curd. And look at the price of it, sergeant. Who would –?”
Unfortunately, the sergeant had already seen the price and fainted, taking down with him a small but expensive serving of fried ginger chips with green onion and ponzu dressing…



August assignment: Earliest Memories


Our earliest memories are usually a collage of images, rather than a coherent narrative. Scenes saved on our personal hard-drive for so many years, surviving the ‘brown-outs’ and ‘crashes’ of an over-crowded and sometimes alcohol abused brain, imply a potent trigger for their initial capture.
A World War II black-out curtain features in my earliest memories. All homes in Great Britain were required to have them to deny assistance to German bombers at night. As a two year old I would invariably be in bed by the time the ‘black-out’ was installed so the only time I would be aware of the heavy black curtains would be during dangerously close bombing raids. My older sister and I would be wrapped in blankets, carried downstairs and placed on a mattress in a Morrison Shelter for safety. I came to associate those curtains with trouble.
No amount of soothing assurances from caring parents could fool a two-year-old snatched from sleep. If there was nothing to worry about, why had I been plucked from a warm bed? Why the frantic huddle down the stairway – and why was I imprisoned in a steel cage?
The Morrison Shelter was a crush-proof structure which doubled as a table. Covered with a dainty table cloth, it was barely noticeable, just another place for us kids to play or hide in during the day but a place of refuge on bad nights.
The night I remember most clearly, perversely, was a night of confusion. Thunderstorms which had been brewing all day, broke overhead as the air raid sirens began their nightly wail. Soon the sonic boom of lightning strike was competing with the thump of exploding bombs. The black-out curtain which prevented light from leaking out also blocked the flashes of lightning sneaking in, leaving only the terrifying sounds to distinguish the source of attack. A direct hit by a bomb in the neighbourhood was invariably followed by the sound of shattering glass and the clatter of slates cascading off a roof. Lightning strikes merely left thunder to bounce off the low lying clouds.
Cowering in our shelter, I discovered a method of distinguishing one agent of death from another: the black-out curtain billowed slightly from the blast of a nearby bomb. Lightning, no matter how close it sounded, merely made it shake for a second.
Fear, like a bossy sister, was relative.