New Normal? July 2020

We are now moving into a new stage of our lockdown writing. Combined with a Zoom meeting every month, we are reducing the challenges to one every two weeks. The July meeting looks at dialogue and dialect. Margaret s. is leading us through this. She has also set the first challenge.

Congratulations to Julia, whose piece, “The Cottage by the Sea” has won this challenge.

Two people are meeting after a major quarrel many years ago.
a) the age, gender, and background of both,
b) why they are at odds
c) the mood of the meeting, cautious, confrontational, defensive, passive etc.
Write the dialogue of the encounter, use dialect sparingly, and develop the mood to support your characters.
Closing date: 15th July 2020


Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world …

Rob sank thankfully into a leather chair in the bar of his hotel. It had been a long business meeting, but now he was free to sip on a cold beer and stare out of the window at the sun going down behind Sydney Harbour Bridge. Tomorrow he would do a bit of sightseeing before flying back to the UK.

There seemed to be a party going on in the function room next door, but the only other person here in the bar was a woman with very shapely legs, though perhaps a bit too young for him. He realised reluctantly that he couldn’t go on chatting up girls fresh out of college now he was in his forties. Half the time he didn’t know what they were talking about anyway.

He drained his glass and the barman called over. ‘Another cold one, mate?’

Australian words, but not quite an Australian accent, and Rob jerked up his head in surprise. ‘Danny?’ he said. ‘Danny Davis? Haven’t seen you since …’

The barman’s face hardened in astonishment and then in anger as he realised who it was. How long had it been? Twenty years? And ten thousand miles away.

‘… since you took a swing at me outside Rock City and I had to go to A&E! Rob Miller! You bloody bastard, you’re the one who pinched my girlfriend with your smarmy talk and your fancy motor. Well you can rack off! You’re not welcome in my bar.’

Rob stood up, and the woman, sensing an altercation, discreetly finished her drink and walked out.

‘No need to get shirty!’ Rob said. ‘We had a fight – so what? You gave as good as you got from what I remember. Anyway you can’t throw me out. I’m staying here.’

‘Want to bet? I’m not just the barman, mate, I’m the manager. Filling in while the other staff are helping out next door. D’you think I’m still on minimum wage while you’re jetting round the world? Other people have done well for themselves, not just you.’

Rob shrugged. ‘I don’t give a shit what you do, frankly.’

‘No, you never did give a shit, did you? Me and Lauren, we were going travelling to South America till you put your oar in.’

‘Ah yes, the luscious Lauren! Come on Danny, relax. It’s in the past! Let’s have a beer together – my shout, as they say.’

‘Struth, you’ve got a nerve! As if I’d have a drink with you after what you did. You and me, we did everything together at Uni for three years – football, pubs, festivals. Then you go and turn Lauren’s head, when we’d been going out since school.’

‘It wasn’t a big deal. We only went on a couple of dates. Then she backed off. Bit too prim and proper for me. But that’s all right. So many girls, so little time …’

‘You really are a mongrel aren’t you? Go on, get out of here. Sydney’s not short of bars. If you’re quick, you might catch that girl who was here a minute ago. I saw you eyeing her up.’

Rob held up his hands. ‘All right, you win. I just don’t see the point of making a meal of it after all this time …’

Seeing Danny emerge from behind the bar, Rob made for the exit. Danny still looked as though he’d be willing to land someone a punch on the mouth. He’d come off worst last time, but Rob didn’t want to make it one-all.

When he’d gone Danny’s mobile rang. ‘Hi Lauren, love,’ he said. ‘Sorry I’m late, we’ve got a party going on. Just been having words with an old acquaintance of ours. Tell you later.’




(using the 1950’s Bristol accent of my youth)
”Bugger me! Casn’t be ‘ee, canst?” said George as Sheila appeared.
George was standing at the bar in the Old Coach and Horses, when Sheila came out of the ladies.
“Well!” she said, “Yoom could knock I down with a feather! George bloody Wilson! I never thought I’d see ‘ee again. Casn’t say I be that keen now!”
“Don’t tell I!” said George, “Summat’s takin’ the piss I reckons!”
“Ark at ‘ee! Baint thee bis? Wotever, one fing’s for sure! ‘ee be bloody right!” said Sheila, “Now look, I wants ‘ee to understand dat I’m over der with sum friends a mine, so ee’d better stay outa my way! Or-right?”
“Wouldn’t wannal go over der anyway!” said George.
“Lush!” said Sheila, “Hope next time I sees ‘ee, it’ll be down under!” she said, and walked off.
“Wurz zat to?” George thought to himself, before he cottoned on to what she meant.
“Or-right barman, give us that pint!” said George, “an’ a whisky chaser!”
He downed the pint in one, followed by the whisky, paid for them, and made a beeline for the exit, chuntering to himself in his Bristle, or as some would say, Bristolese brogue.

©Bob Reader July 2020 – 253 words


Welcome Home.

There was a knock at the back door. The old lady, who had been having a nap in the parlour, awoke, her hearing as sharp as ever. The knock was repeated but louder.
“The door’s open! Come in, bach.”
A head appeared whilst the body remained behind almost as if the visitor was using the wood as a shield.
“Hello Mam,” said a man’s voice.
“There’s a draft. Get yourself in here and close that door. Do you want me to die of cold?”
She replaced her glasses on her head and watched through beady eyes as her forty-year-old son walked into the room and closed the door behind him.
“Duw, duw,” she muttered. “Look what the cat’s dragged in. Decided to come and see me after all this time, have you?” She proffered a powdered cheek for him to kiss.
“You’re looking well, Mam.”
“No thanks to you. I might as well be dead these last years. Not a word from you. Not a card. Not a phone call.” She stopped for breath before going on, “I suppose you’ve brought that English wife of yours with you, have you? What, waiting in the car is she to see what reception you’d have? She can stay in the car for all I care. I’ll never forgive you for marrying that woman. You had the pick of the local girls. Nice, Welsh girls who would have produced grandchildren for me and who would have made sure you had decent food inside you. Look at you, all skin and bones thanks to her.”
“Her name is Penny, Mam, as you well know, and no, she’s not with me. In fact, she’s thrown me out. She wants a divorce.”
Davydd sat down in the spare chair and placed his head in his hands. He failed to spot the range of emotions that passed over his mother’s face. The word “divorce” had triggered her Methodist revulsion towards her only child who was bringing scandal into her home. No one in her family had ever been divorced before. How would her friends at chapel react? She would have to brazen it out as the next thought to replace her immediate shock was her boy was now needing a home. Even more important, he needed her.
“There, there cariad.” Placing her hand on his head like a blessing she said, “You can come and live here with me. Your bed upstairs is always made up for you.”


The cottage by the sea

Kate’s former best friend Stella gazumped her when she was in the process of buying the cottage by the sea five years ago. Skimming through the local rag while visiting her mother Kate came across an article about the cottage. The photograph showed it was now in a sorry state as it had been struck by lightning and was obviously a write off.
Before she went back to London Kate decided to take one last look at the cottage she had once fallen in love with, together with its wonderful view of the sea.
Someone was poking about in the front garden and as Kate got closer she realised it was Stella. Sensing someone was near Stella turned around. There was just a moment of silence.

‘Why yew cum peerking? To rub my nose in ter?’

Kate had never forgiven Stella for the dirty trick she had played on her but she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the woman now standing before her.

‘No, of course not. I read about the fire caused by the lightning and decided to come by on my way back to London, just for a last look.’

‘Heard yew got a fancy new job in ta smoke.’

‘Well yes, as a matter of fact you did me a favour when you gazumped me.’

‘How’s that then?’

‘Because shortly after you moved in I was head hunted by a major competitor to my firm and I would have had all the bother of selling up within months. I’m doing my dream job now and earning more than I thought possible.’

‘ So wot yew doin ere then?’

‘Oh just visiting mum and checking on my second home just along the coast.’

Stella’s jaw dropped. ‘Cum up in ter warld ‘aven’t yew?’

‘I guess so. What about you?’

‘Oh well ma partner lost his job and oi’ve ony just found out he hadn’t kept up with ter house insurance payments so oi’ve lost everything. Oi wuz hoooly raw. We had a right ole barney and orf he went.’ Oi’m back livin with ma sister.’

‘Oh that’s awful. I’m so sorry

‘Yes, well can’t stand around here all day mardling. See yew.’

Before Kate could think of a reply Stella had gone without a backward glance.
As they went their separate ways different thoughts passed through their minds. Stella couldn’t believe how life had gone sour after she had cheated her best friend and wished she could turn the clock back. Kate slid into her BMW and mused ‘There’s no armour against fate.’





Prodigal son returns.

Fatted Calf is slaughtered

Festivities are finished.


The two brothers alone at last after many years

The younger brother, just returned ,won’t meet his older brother’s eyes.

“ I’m sorry. I’ve been a bloody fool”

“ Is that all you’ve got to say?. All these years we’ve worked like dogs to recoup the money you insisted on taking. You’ve nothing left. You look like a tramp. I’ve even had  to find clothes for you.

And now we’ve had to celebrate you gracing us with your presence. O.K ,parents are happy. At least they know you’re alive, I suppose. Why did you  have to  go and leave everything for me to sort out? Especially the doctors’ fees”

“Doctors ‘fees.?”

“After you  buggered off can’t you imagine the rows that went on ? Everyone blaming everyone else. Mother collapsed. Father had a heart attack”.

“ Oh hell, I didn’t know… Look, I’m back now. I want to stay and make it up to you all. I had to go . Oh  you’ll never understand so there’s no point going on. But I’m back, I’m your brother and I’m staying and I’m going to work as hard as you’ve had to.”

“I’ll make sure you bloody do”

The older brother goes off, slamming the door.

The prodigal one sits on the wall, looking out at the land he had left years ago .

Next day, there’s a brooding silence from the older brother which lasts some time.

The younger brother stays.

Eventually some sort of peace and reconciliation returns to the home.



Fair’s Fair

Weather permitting, four middle aged men used to meet up every Sunday morning at Aylsham Golf Club for a friendly round of golf. Every week the four of them would have a bet on the game paying a couple of quid each with the winner taking the proceeds. Afterwards they would put the world to rights over a drink or two in the clubhouse bar.

On that particular Sunday morning by the time they reached the last hole, which was a tricky Par 4, Mike was just in the lead. The other three watched in silence as he teed off, hitting a beauty, straight up and over the hill before their very eyes. The ball disappeared from view as it went over the brow of the hill.

Dave, who was one shot behind, followed on next, always eager to be the winner of what was meant to be a friendly game. He carefully placed his tee peg between the two markers and took his time in teeing off. The other three stood well back behind him in absolute silence as they heard that lovely sound of the ping of his driver striking the ball correctly as it soared away into the distance. However, instead of going straight up the fairway, the ball diverted slightly to the right as it disappeared out of sight up and over the hill. The three guys standing behind him glanced knowingly at one another but didn’t dare say anything as they knew how short tempered Dave could be. The other two men were trailing miserably behind, having had bad rounds but they drove off and all four of them began to climb the hill pulling their trolleys behind them.

Dave seemed to be in a rush to find his ball as he strode ahead of the other three who were chatting to one another as they went up the hill. When they caught up with Dave, who was by now over the brow of the hill, they found, much to their surprise that Dave’s ball was very close to Mike’s and well lined up for his next shot.  Rich couldn’t restrain himself from speaking up.

“Yew cheat,” he exclaimed, “Yew dirty rotten cheat. We all sore your drive go way orf to the rioght.  That could nut possibly ‘ave landed just ‘ere.” Tim nodded in agreement with Rich, but Mike kept quiet as he was in the lead and didn’t want to get involved in the argument. Dave adamantly maintained that his ball had stopped at that spot saying, “Well look it’s got moi initials on it,” but the other three obviously didn’t believe him from the looks they gave one another. With that they continued to the green. Dave hit his very last shot to land a foot from the pin. Mike was troubled by the argument they’d had earlier and messed up his final shot. As they walked from the fairway Tim muttered to Rich, “Oi carnt make that owt. Oim positive that that there bawl went owt of bownds. Oi allers did think he was a chetin sota bloke. Oi never did trust the so and so!” Dave of course went on to win the money. At the end of the game Mike, Rich and Tim made their excuses to go straight home to their wives instead of going into the bar for a drink and chat.

The four became three meeting up every Sunday morning, weather permitting as none of them wanted to play with Dave ever again. Over the next couple of years their friendship strengthened and Mike and Rich even began to play as partners in club competitions, both at their home club and also by invitation at other clubs.

On that particular day in order to play a Foursome Open at a club where they had never played before, they had to drive nearly twenty miles from home. Both opposing teams were standing around in the club’s bar ready to get the competition underway when Rich nudged Mike and whispered in his ear, “Oh moi God, oive just spotted ooze over there.” There was Dave standing with his back to them. The Captain called out the names of the pairs who were to play against one another and sure enough Mike and Rich found that they were playing against Dave and his partner. “Oh F—ing hell,” muttered Rich in Mike’s ear. “We carn’t back owt now. We’ll just hev to go owt there, be reasonably sociable and give it ower best shot.”

Mike agreed with him and indeed they both gave it their best shot, won the competition and the trophy! On that particular occasion the cheat did not prosper!

Margaret R



 “Oh it’s you, where’s tha bin for the last forty years?” asks Robert.

“Around n about” says Jim “keepin out of your way”.

“Was it worth it then?” retorted Robert “Forty years silence over a woman”.

“It wasn’t the woman , it was the principle” says Jim.

“You promised me that I could take her to the dance and then you double crossed me.”

“Tha don’t know nowt abart out” intercedes Jim. “She asked me to go and “I was up a tree” and enjoyed every minute of it. “Anyway that’s forty years ago; let bygones be bygones. Let’s go and have a pint and you can fill me in on the last forty years”.

“That might not take too long “ replies Robert.

“Why not?” asks Jim.

“Because I married her thirty five years ago and we have a place in the country and two wonderful children” says Robert proudly.

“Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs” blurts out Jim” and there I was feeling all sorry for you”.

“Let’s have a pint anyway”.




She irritated I,

Out the corner of me eye,

‘Cos I knows this bint,

And she made I skint!


I luvved ‘er loads really,

But she wanted me money,

So she faked ‘er luv for I,

And made I sob and cry!


She fleeced I good and proper,

She stole me every copper,

Now she’s so well-to-do,

While I be oh so blue.


I ‘ates ‘er now, I do!

She never, ever rued,

‘ow much she ‘urt I then,

Wiv ‘er gold fountin’ pen!


I trusted ‘er, I did,

An’ did wot she did bid,

Now ‘ouse and car are gone,

Along wiv my big farm.


She said “ ‘ow do?”, as she passed by,

Belittling me wiv every eye,

While I tipped up a wheelie bin,

Into the truck I’m controllin’.


So wen ‘ee sees a dustbin man,

Just fink of I:- if ‘ee can,

An’ wonder if dis is de man,

‘oo lost ‘is shirt, to one big scam.


Wurkin’ on de bins shows I,

All de bilge we meets in life,

An’ ‘ow de dregs, garbage and muck,

Keeps askin’, “’ow’d ‘ee come unstuck?”

©Bob Reader July 2020