Tag Archive | Humour

Where Angels and Devils Tread

book coverI’ve a strong feeling that May is a popular month for many folk. It’s certainly my favourite. Usually… there’s more sunshine around; and the earth, with Mother Nature’s collusion, delights us at every turn. Buds pushing through and a colourful array of flowers to gladden any heart. A time of rebirth and renewal, giving hope a chance. What’s not to like?!

And then there are plans germinating: holidays ahead? Or at least picnics and barbecues. If you plan being a beach-bum for a week or two, you’ll need something to read, and this is where people like me come in handy; us writers have our uses….

This time, I’ve collaborated with a worthy author and friend, Jean Wilson: no slouch with the written word. Jean has worn several hats in her time. She was a Queen’s nurse for many years and then became a Psychologist to needy children and adults. Humour, that vital element, is evident in a lot of her and my work, so whether you want to read a murder tale or something a little lighter, there’s something in our book of short stories for you. It is available from CreateSpace and also Amazon (paperback and Kindle).

Why not order a copy and see for yourself?!

 

On characterisation / a poem

Being human, all writers have strengths and weaknesses and enjoy/dislike different aspects of their craft. Plots and sub plots are, of course, vital, as is the balance between action, dialogue, description, etc., but, for me, one of my favourite tasks – or I should say joys – is endowing a character with a personality and physical image through description.

Jean Wilson, a writing colleague, who has now retired to Torquay in the UK, was a favoured member of a small group I take as group leader for the University of the Third Age, in Torrevieja, Spain. Here is her take on a certain man who helped people a short, brilliant, story, she wrote.

‘Harold was a person one endeavoured to avoid if at all possible. He was an intense, blustery man of somewhat large stature, which of itself failed to hide his poorly controlled thinking ability, rather like a failed computer made in a third world country, which hadn’t yet got its act together. He was certainly low in gigabytes, and wanting in RAM. One couldn’t be certain that the keys struck would register as expected and a whole load of input seemed to have no relation to its later output. Harold’s idea of taking a short-cut was to fall down the stairs; and his confidence in himself took no account of the extent of his limitations. Any unfortunate encounter with him left many people feeling immense hopelessness in the integrity of the workings of Nature. Here was a man who told everyone he was a born again Xtian. It didn’t occur to him that he hadn’t been one in the first place, but he liked the reaction it had and tapped one of those pleasure seeking nerves which made him feel good for the day, enjoying the illusion of people’s undivided attention.’

Thanks Jean.

And now, as light relief from the really terrible happenings on this precious, be-devilled planet of ours, is a poem.

Most long-term Facebook, Twitter and Skype users, now and then get odd messages…And when I started receiving several requests from ‘Generals’ to Skype them, it struck me as amusing and didn’t quite ring true. This led to the writing of a poem, which I hope will make you giggle or grin…

TO SKYPE OR NOT TO SKYPE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

The first message was explicit:
(I imagined him cock-sure and slick),
I giggled but quickly recovered,
got rid of him quick with a click.

I’m spoken for and happily married,
and let’s face it “over the hill…”
but it took me back decades of years,
provided an egotistical thrill.

‘Twas as if I’d sent out a photo,
doctored and faintly erotic:
where my boobs were “in place,”
and an unwrinkled face
suggested a jolly good frolic.

Dear reader I’m totally innocent,
except for writing on line;
don’t wear fancy drawers
(prefer metaphors)
although the thought was sublime.

These days my pleasures are simple:
coffee on patio, pastry snack,
hot chocolate at night,
a book and “to write,”
not gymnastics in bed on my back.

What triggered this poem you may wonder,
I’ll tell you the truth – it’s a fact,
in twenty-four hours
I was suddenly showered
by four Generals, a sir and a hack.

Of course most of “the others”
intentions were pure, white as snow,
but it’s safe to be wary
and quite necessary
for how is a woman to know?!

THIS AND THAT…

trapeze_med

As this post is a slight departure from the norm… I’d like to put strangers to my occasional ramblings in the picture, lest they send ‘the men in white coats’ to my door. Eldest son, Jason, is a blogger (among other things) and I have written the following in reply to his recent out-pouring of nonsense.

Who would have believed it, after all the years of shady shenanigans; coded glances and messages secreted in ancient lavatory cisterns, the truth was revealed by our eldest son to the unwitting world.

It is true, we ran a modest hotel in Bournemouth, before being pursued and approached by the Cirque du Soleil (not the Circus con Leche as stated by Jason). Seduced by our reputation – for ‘‘im indoors and yours truly were renowned for our prowess on the trapeze (despite the gathering years, and not known by many people) – the troupe were planning to ‘star’ us in a dazzling Spectacular, which would astound the public. While middle-aged, what we couldn’t do with our amazingly virile, versatile and talented forms, wasn’t worth talking about. Our stage names were Kermit and Dolly Rodriquez. Tragically, the spectacle was cancelled after Kermit developed a large corn on his big, right toe, and ‘delayed acne’ at the same time as my varicose veins became too prominent.

It was more than our lives were worth to comment further about the man with the withered hand. Then Jason suggested plastic surgery would be ‘rejuvenating,’ (and otherwise advantageous) and our planned retirement to sunny Spain fitted neatly in with the circumstances. It also meant that our other two sons wouldn’t be able to find us, thereby paving the way for our eldest son to inherit our vast estates and the oil-fields in Texas when we popped our clogs. We were astounded by his dastardly plan.

Quite a few Menu del dias and Café con leches later…

It is with huge relief that we have learned of a few, pertinent, arrests in the UK by MI5. This is most fortunate in that we were looking over our shoulders so frequently, we kept bumping into lamp-posts. We are also delighted to discover the truth about our eldest son. He arranged the plastic surgery to save our lives, which were in imminent danger at the time, and due to his magnanimous nature and a windfall from a grateful, former client (Jason was a ‘Professional Carer’ at one time, and not as he claims a Ninja assassin), he’s totally disinterested in our alleged fortune. Another massive bonus, we have been reunited with our other two sons, and so folks, as the sun sets in the Western, technicoloured sky, we are able to paddle in the Med. again with carefree hearts and be a united family..

And now for something completely different..

Three of us flying Lennicks are planning to publish a book of humorous poems, anecdotes, jokes and fifty word stories in the near future. So, do look out for The Moon is Wearing a Tutu. By Joy, Eric and Jason Lennick.

Available now for your reading pleasure – Food Glorious Food – a ten-story anthology, penned by various writers: members of WordPlay Forum. Published by Quirky Girl Publishing. A must for any occasion: beach or curled up in an armchair.

Keep an eye open (or two) for our up and coming anthology: Des Res. Another treat from WordPlay writers and the able Quirky Girl Publishing stable. (Both available from Amazon,
Kindle and CreateSpace..)

Coming soon: a brand, spanking new version of My Gentle War, a memoir written by yours truly. (No. 1 on Kindle in Memoir/Social History category.)

The fascinating world of blogging

Being, quite literally, an old hand at writing: childish stories and silly poems leading to keeping a diary, writing articles, travelogues, short stories, and eventually books, I have had a long love affair with the written word. It has never diminished. If anything, it means more to me in my twilight years, than ever. Oh the joys, and hiccups…of reading and writing!

Naturally, over the years, fashions and fancies have changed, and I am now delighted to welcome and be involved in the world of the Blogger. The word itself somehow has as odd, unpleasant connotation, perhaps reminding one of mugger or blagger, but most of the Blogs I’ve read have been interesting, entertaining, erudite and some downright brilliant, with plenty of humour and twists. The dictionary calls the act of blogging a verb and a noun (depending on use), its full title being weblog, a piece of writing used on the internet.

Of course, as with every genre of writing, there will always be abysmal bloggers and good ones, and naturally I would like to highlight three of – in my ‘umble opinion – the best.. The first name which springs to mind, is that of Carol Hedges, esteemed writer of many books (around fourteen I believe) and latterly the author of several, exciting, Victorian murder tales. Now, being a grandmother for the first time, Carol looks after her ‘little G” (two years old on 24th February) a few times a week and writes delightfully of their time together. Under the umbrella of “Adventures of L-Plate Gran – Never underestimate the power of Grandmas!” Carol writes regular gems which I thoroughly recommend to other grandmas. (Sadly I’m not one, but love them all the same.) In Carol’s offerings, you will find heart-warming episodes, zaniness and plain good fun.

Carol’s blog

My second recommended Blogger is a man with the unusual name of Bun Karyudo (pronounced Boon-CAR-you-dough) who was ‘Born on one continent, raised on a second, and now lives on a third.’ A married man with two teenaged sons, he has written blogs with such titles as: “Exploding tea bags? Not my cup of tea.” And “The Cosmic Significance of Bathroom Tiles,” which gives a few clues as to the quirkiness of his nature. Pictured with a paper bag over his head, Bun pretends to be “A Billionaire Philanthropist.”(Always good to humour him, as he might just happen to be one!). I personally think that Bun should open an “‘Ideas Line” for Bloggers as he can find interest and humour in tripping over his own feet or being sick; not to mention waxing lyrical over anything from plastic bags to “A freezing day in Wigan.” I kid you not.

Bun’s blog

Now I come to my third favourite Blogger and won’t apologise for so doing. Being a Brit – brought up not to praise myself or my family – I questioned myself soundly before ‘exposing’ my eldest son, Jason, to the limelight. And then I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’m a truthful person and I believe my eldest son to be an excellent Blogger. (All three sons are ‘good eggs,’ their hearts are in the right places and they are good citizens. It just happens that the eldest one also writes. Well!) Totally ignoring the word nepotism, an ugly concept, I continue… No stranger to originality or weirdness (a necessity in the blogging world) – and we’re back to quirky again – Jason also produces such posts as “Dinosaurs from Space” and “Klaatu barada nikto!” and a departure: a zany short story called ”Procrastination Man.” I can thoroughly recommend a read at his blog – halfbananas.

Jason’s blog

 

 

Humour – vive la difference

Who doesn’t like a good chuckle or belly laugh? It’s sometimes better for you than a pill…

Luckily, there’s more than a soupcon of humour in our family and hurray for that.

Exchanging emails with my eldest son Jason recently, we were discussing writing (as you do) re various genres, and he said: “I could always write about hamster racing in 14th century Bruges,” And it really gave me the giggles. He and I used to write ‘alternative horoscopes:’ eg: ‘Beware of men in false beards this month (they’re all the rage); if bored take up clog dancing.’ And such nonsense.

Taste

The above set me thinking about the vast difference in taste and types of humour. Us Brits have a fair variety: at its best silly, slap-stick, dry, subtle, clever; at its worst lavatorial…Re TV sit-coms – pole-vaulting to the top, are ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and ‘Porridge,.’ We can thank the late, lamented John Sullivan for ‘Fools’ and Dick Clement and Ian Las Frenais for ‘Porridge.’Continentals have mime, childish, silly and clever, and the Americans seem to ‘have it all.’ When they’re good, their sit-coms shine: Frasier, Mash, Taxi but some are banal and dire (as are some of ours!) The Irish have a delightful (innocent) way of making you laugh. Take directions: ‘Fenwick street you’ll be wanting? Turn right, then left and go past the shop that was demolished last year and it’s on the next corner.’ Slap-stick: more popular in the past, is universal, and of course popularised through American movies starring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton et al. Then along came Monty Python and changed tack – much more of an acquired taste. They love to shock and do! I love their silly, zany stuff. The subject could fill several books and does, and of course it’s all a matter of taste.

Comedians

Take comedians. they’re relying more and more on foul language and/or pedestrian humour. Come back Ronnie Barker, Morecombe and Wise, Dave Allen (especially in his earlier days), and I’m very partial to Woody Allen’s brand: ‘I don’t mind dying as long as I’m not there when it happens.’There are many funny Jewish comedians, and I’m a sucker for simple jokes like: New Yorker:’You look lost, son. Can I help?’ ‘Yeah, how can I get to Carnegie Hall?’ ‘Practice, my boy, practice…’ And, a Jewish man is knocked down and slightly hurt. A passer-by attends to him and asks ‘Are you comfortable sir?’ The victim shakes his head from side to side and says ‘I make a living!’ Let’s not forget alternative comedy either. Steve Wright, pan-faced and serious, is clever and thought provoking. ‘ Bought some batteries and there was nothing with them.’ Gets you frowning…

Less is more

This applies to most things in my book. Who needs to overdose on violence, swearing and sex (hands down you at the back there…) Writing about all three is more effective when slightly rationed. It’s much more titillating…There’s nothing original or clever about swearing to excess; anyone can do it! However, used with care, it can be a real put-down and very effective. ‘Fuck off,’said at just the right time, can really hit the funny-bone.

Humour in literature

A few names quickly come to mind: two being Charles Dickens – some of his characters were hilarious; and Mark Twain, who wrote: ‘The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects there is anything funny about it.’(from ‘How to tell a Story.’ ) And how could you not mention Ogden Nash, who wrote over 500 amusing poems. There was nothing funny about his death, aged 69 in 1971 from Crohn’s disease aggravated by eating improperly prepared coleslaw, but I bet he could have penned a funny poem about it! Perhaps not so famous on the world stage was one:John Kennedy Toole, an American, who wrote ‘A Confederacy of Dunces” (1980). Unable to find a publisher for his book, he eventually committed suicide. How grimly ironic that, when the book was published after his death, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1981.

As Mark Twain wrote: ‘Humour is mankind’s greatest blessing.’(From a biography.)