Life In The Middle

September 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

This, and yesterdays story, was inspired by the writings of Toby Litt, and some long conversations I had with my late father, who at that time was showing clear signs of dementia. Not altogether sure this story works…


I live in the middle. I’ve lived here all my life and regard myself as most fortunate. I’m sure many people would like to be in my shoes.

It’s nice here: we’ve paid off the mortgage, it’s clean and comfortable, and no one shouts or rushes around. Life here is predictable, which is just how I like it. Where I live is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else; but it’s not boring in case that’s what you are thinking: it’s just nice and quiet. Some people might imagine there’s nothing to do here so they don’t come and visit; but I wouldn’t want to enlighten them because I like being left alone in my happy little bubble. I’m quite content, thank you.

            I’ve never been to that place they call the edge, and I don’t want to go either. Some say they’ve been there and have written books about it, but I haven’t read any of them because I’m certain I wouldn’t like it one bit: it sounds too different from what I’m used to. To tell you the truth I rather wish there wasn’t an edge because the thought of it disturbs my peace of mind, and I can’t sleep some nights wondering about whether the people who live there might invade us and try and change things. I wouldn’t like that. I know it’s silly to worry but some people just aren’t to be trusted.

            I’m glad I wasn’t alive about a hundred years ago when explorers went everywhere and got dirty and diseased, and brought back stories of people living in atrocious conditions in jungles. I would have found that very unsettling. I’ve read that the explorers even discovered people who ate one another. Sometimes they didn’t come back to tell the tale because… well, we don’t know the answer to that for sure because they didn’t come back and tell us. In any case, I would prefer not to know what it was the explorers discovered – it never did us any good to know that kind of thing.

I’ve heard that some people, and of course it’s mostly the young, like to travel to the edge and look. But they must know in their heart of hearts there is nothing to see. But they to do it anyway, and sometimes they don’t come back so I suppose they must have decided to stay. I don’t understand them. Perhaps something awful happened. Don’t they know that nothing good ever comes from curiosity?

I have decided that living near the edge would be very dangerous, but it’s important I don’t say too much about this, otherwise the people who live there might hear and want to sell up and move to the middle. That must be avoided at all costs because it would encourage overcrowding, which wouldn’t do us people in the middle any good at all.

In truth, those of us who live in the middle shouldn’t waste time thinking about the people who live on the edge. I’ve certainly got better things to think about. The apple tree needs pruning and there’s a pile of ironing to do. But there is one thing that’s been on my mind for a while, and it’s this: we in the middle have heard that those who live on the edge believe that if there wasn’t an edge, then there wouldn’t be a middle; but I say it is very clear that the opposite is true: they on the edge could not possibly exist without us in the middle. They need us. I know which makes the most sense to me.

As I get older I get wiser. One of the things I have learnt is that we are more rational and sensible than they are. We have adapted to our environment; we have evolved so that we are content where we are. There are other ways that we are superior too, but I couldn’t even begin to list them as it would take up too much of my valuable time.

 I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but the simple truth is that we are simply better than them…


Time Warp

September 17, 2013 § 2 Comments





                 Ally ducked under the honeysuckle arch and the wooden gate closed with a decisive click. The rumble of lorries in the street vanished like magic, and a collective humming took its place. Bees. Honeybees flying loops in the lavender, bumblebees rolling themselves fat and yellow in the buddleia, cross bees fighting amongst Love-in-a-Mist under the almond tree.

The sharp, white sunlight moved the garden like a mirage as if Ally was seeing through the gauze of a cataract. She screwed up her eyes but the flowers stayed cloudy, the colours indistinct; and the bees droned on.

 Paper and paints sat waiting at the garden table. She decided quickly; just graded washes and modified hues: thin, raw umber and zinc white with a dash of purple for an old blousey rose; diluted cadmium red with a hint of black for a graceful hollyhock.

Working fast with a sponge, a rag and a voluptuous sable brush dripping with wash, she let the paint dribble and granulate, allowing the colours to mingle. She tilted the paper from side to side. She mopped and wiped. There was no need for a fine brush. Ally was making shapes and traces – an intimation of what could be.

A bumblebee covered in pollen crash-landed on the paper and left a golden sun. It righted itself indignantly and flew off.

 Ally blinked twice and time shifted once more. She heard the sound of lorries rumbling past, sighed, and lifted the latch.


Any comments much appreciated.

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