Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Month: November, 2014

My First Counting Book


November 30th 2014

Firstly all good wishes to my Scottish friends and relations for Saint Andrew’s day. Now here is a brief little story for today

My First Counting Book

 I opened the big, coloured book, a copy of which I had given to each of the twelve pupils in my infants mathematics class. They were a special selection of four to six year-olds who were having difficulty grasping the introductory concepts of adding and subtracting. But in every other aspect of learning they were all showing real promise.

 “Turn to page one, everybody please. Now can you see the picture of John holding an apple?” Vigorous nods all round.

 “You will see in the next drawing that Mary is giving John a carrot. Underneath is what is called a mathematical symbol. It is how we show that one and one added together make two. It is written 1 + 1 = 2. Do you all understand that?

“Yes, Jean?”

“Please, Sir, why has John got two? Mary gave him a carrot, so he has one apple and one carrot. So one and one make one of each, surely.”

I looked at the child, then at the book, then muttered under my breath who wrote this rubbish?’ Then I remembered that I had. I could see the class thought Jean was very clever. So I explained.

 “Jean, it doesn’t matter what the object is that John is holding, or Mary giving. Just pretend that Mary has given John an apple, now how many apples has he got?”

“Three, Sir.” The others could see genius in Jean’s logic.

“No, Jean. He has two. He had one, received a second, so that makes two.”

“No it doesn’t, Sir, because he had two. You’re forgetting the first one that Mary added a carrot to.”

 God give me strength! “No we started from the beginning again, Jean. Forget the first apple and the carrot”.

Jake was not having this. “But, Sir. We can’t forget it, it’s in the book. Books can’t be wrong so Jean must be right.” I quickly looked back at the lovely coloured book. Yes, we were still on page one. So I asked for help.

“Does anybody agree with the book, or even begin to understand it?” The nerd of the dozen, bespectacled little Chloe,shot her hand in the air.

 “I do Sir. You are asking us to imagine that the book is wrong and Mary is really giving John an apple and so the symbol 1 + 1 = 2 means in mathematics that an apple is spelled 1 and two apples are spelled 2 and =spells, . . . . spells . . . Well it spells equals. Whatever that means.”

 It was break time. I wished sincerely that I had never written ‘the guide to teaching infants to count’ and quietly shut the book. “We’ll go to break now, children, and I’ll tell you about 2 next lesson”.

 At this Jimmy piped up. “Oh, goody, Sir. I knew you would. Last night my daddy told me all about 2 and how it could be a prime number and an even number at the same time. Can I explain to the class my proof of Goldbach’s conjecture when we resume?”

I have never been nearer to suicide.

______________

 

Advertisements

A Premature Dad


November 27th

The story for today is both true and in verse. I have published it before. But it is a tale worth far more than twice the telling. November 17th, was world Premature baby day and as my youngest son was born at only 23 weeks and four days , he asked me to write a poem about what it had been like being a Premature Dad. Many people don’t believe that my wife and I can know so exactly the length of Ben’s gestation, but actually it was easy.

Ill health had prevented us from making love for some eight weeks before the day of his conception so we are in no doubt at all. The only possible doubt is that he might have been  even earlier!

The Life and Love of a Premature dad

On the seventeenth day of October in nineteen ninety

Our baby son was born, but gave mummy no pain.

The birth of a baby, what’s so unusual about that?

Well our Benedict had travelled on an earlier train

Than the one the doctors had forecast for his nativity.

He gestated for only 23 weeks and four days, before

His mummy’s appendix was infected and burst.

I was told they’d both die. Not the future I saw!

As they both were rushed to the operating theatre

I asked the chaplain to be present at Ben’s natal bed.

He was baptised within seconds of living,

And prayers For my darling wife were simultaneously said.

Paediatricians and surgeons worked for four hours

Keeping both of them alive, while expecting their loss.

I had to wait, all alone, for news of my family with only

Hope and faith to sustain me ‘neath the weight of my cross.

After three hours the chief paediatrician told me

“I hope your son will make it, but alas not your wife”.

A nurse sat beside me and then offered to take me

To see my little Ben, less than two pounds of life.

I prayed at his incubator, wired up from head to toe.

Then news of his mother,now in her own private bed.

As I looked at her face, deathly white but still breathing,

Emotion took over, an hour of tears I must have shed.

The hospital was wonderful giving me a bed in her room

So I could flit between both of them just watching how.

They battled their way through our frightening ordeal,

For I knew I could not live without both of them now.

That night I thanked God for each breath they took and

Knew saving both of them was the greatest love I’d ever felt.

From an act of pure loving, with the wife I loved so deeply,

I’d been given a second love overpowering me as I knelt

And blessed all who’d worked so hard and so long

To help deliver another child to our house and our home.

How on earth can anyone believe tiny miracles like mine

Can be left to die, by dry words in a sick legal tome?

For thirteen weeks Ben fought for each breath, and his

Mother had more operations, but who counted the cost

Of saving our son? Visiting him each day was well worth it,

For to be without him now, we knew we’d both be lost.

Last month at the age of twenty four,with two top degrees,

And his heart full of love as they walked down the aisle.

Ben married his Samantha, and I proudly rejoiced as

I saw my love shared by him. It was all in his smile.

Anton Wills-Eve

Hope is as Hope Does


 

The following is my short offering for November 26 . I hope it is how things really happened.

 

Hope Is As Hope Does

A schoolboy was sauntering along the leafy lane where his house was cosily concealed among the trees. The dreary day ahead of him, with self important pedagogues spouting their second hand drivel at him, leaving him little better informed than when he set out, held no appeal.

He dragged his heels and swung his school bag lazily as the summer sun began to warm his twelve year old frame and made him pine for a more interesting way to spend his day.

 “Hey, ho”, he sighed as he entered the timbered schoolroom.” I hope the classics and Italian classes will be interesting. If only the old fool would put some, action, passion, excitement and worthwhile meaning into the re-telling of his tales. I hope I never bore people to death with such shallow words when I can see stories could be so much better told.

 The poem for that day was the Italian original of Troilus and Cressida. As the master bored on in a monotone, the boy could see a lively, living, human tragedy unfold. If acted by players and exploring the darkest side of human nature, together with the awful consequences of mistaken identity and misplaced trust in love, exploited by an amoral excuse for a friend. It could keep the audience enthralled.

 That night at home his parents were amazed as their son spent four hours writing on blank school manuscript sheets until every candle was used up. Finally he put down his quill, murmuring to himself, “Well that should not bore them, even if I have only finished the first act”.

The next day being Sunday the boy and his parents drove over to the nearby farm where they had long been friends with the prosperous owners. Now the young boy who dreamed his way to school each day, was just at that age when girls were becoming interesting. The farmer had four daughters and the youngest, and prettiest, took up all his time when he was there. To impress her he told her what he had written.

“Have you really written such a thing?” she asked wide-eyed.”

 “Yes. I shall dedicate it to you and give you the first copy!” True to his word, when it was finished he hurried to the farm and she was overjoyed. But, as the years passed, their friendship never turned to full blown love, although they remained good friends. Thus he was not surprised when, at the age of eighteen, she told him she was going to marry someone else. But she also gave him back his first manuscript.

 Now the farmer’s eldest daughter was some nine years older than her youngest sister and could see nothing but a life of spinsterhood ahead of herself. “I do hope I don’t die an old maid”, she sighed when she attended her sister’s wedding. Then slowly a way to avoid this startedto take shape in her head. “Now why didn’t I think of that before?” she smiled, as she began to put her plan into action.

 A few days later she purposely waylaid our hero as he made his way over to the farm. She was no startling beauty but an attractive young woman of twenty seven summers. She approached him with a blushing smile upon her cheeks.

 “While my sister was unwed I could not come between you. But you must know how much I love you and have done for so long. They tell me that you are going to London soon and I was afraid I would never see you again. We know how clever you are and success could make you forget us.” All the while she was slipping her arm through his and round his waist as she gently led him towards the old tithe barn. I leave it to my reader’s imagination to guess how much an eighteen year-old boy enjoyed being seduced by an experienced lady nine years his senior.

 I have to take you forward now to a scene in London some twenty years later. The audience were still applauding the maestro’s latest work. As the author, with his wife and three children, were leaving the theatre a critic rushed up to him and asked,

“Were you pleased with your latest success, Sir?”

 “Oh, I hope I will always go on being pleased when the audience applaud me as they do,” he answered. And, turning to his wife asked, “What about you Ann?”

 She looked at her lovely family and husband and simply said, “Oh Will, you know how happy your success makes me!” Then added silently to herself, “Thank Heaven I read your first manuscript before my sister gave it back to you”.

For Jill


From today I am posting a short story each day until December 1 when I shall start posting my latest novel, “John and Gemma”  a chapter a day for a couple of weeks. Should any publishing house want to publish it just contact me and we can discuss terms.  Ciao. Anton

My story for November 25th is called.

FOR JILL

The Horses were already running when I placed my bet but the bookies accepted it. Boy did I need that money. The horse was 33 to 1 which meant £340 up if it won and another £75 as it placed in the first three. Just the £75 would have left me with enough hope to place a few more bets that afternoon. I needed to come out of the betting shop with at least £500 pounds in my pocket if I was to pay off my gambling debts at the Golden Goose pub that night.

My gee-gee came in first and I coolly put £415 in my pocket. I took out my phone and rang Jill. “Hi, sweetie. It’s me. Yes me! Okay, okay so I should have been there half an hour ago but I was held up. But I’ll be at the King’s Head pub in ten minutes. Please don’t stand me up.” All she said was

You don’t deserve it, loser, but I’ll be there.”

As I walked into the King’s Head on the main shopping street I spotted her immediately, hunched over a glass with a long straw sticking out of it touching the tip of her long, blonde hair. She wasn’t drinking, just sitting awkwardly, half forward, to lessen what seemed to be a pain in her shoulder blade. She winced as I approached her table and almost drew back, but not quite, as I kissed her cheek. Then I did a really stupid thing. I was so pleased with myself that I took the fat roll out of my pocket and slapped it down on the table in front of her.

Loser? It’s all yours, Jillie, count it, over four hundred there and all for my only little lover.” Her eyes almost popped out of her head as she counted the twenty twenty pound notes, a tenner and a fiver.”

For heaven’s sake put that out of sight, Henry, wherever you knicked it from. Anyone may be watching us.”

Jillie! Didn’t you hear me, it’s yours. I just won it on ‘All for love’ at 33-1 in the two o’clock at Kempton. It came in first, and I promised you all I won today didn’t I? Look, lover, you know I don’t win twice in a day so take it for God’s sake before I change my mind!”

Are you serious Henry? You won all that, and you really want to give it to me?”

Let me top up your drink and we’ll go through the whole situation again. Okay?” And I ordered a double Campari and Soda for myself and another Vodka and orange mixer for her. As I put them on the table she beckoned to me to sit next to her and awkwardly turned to face me. There was a hint of tears in her eyes as she held fast to my hand in a squeeze that said and meant more to me than anything else she could have done.

Henry, you are a darling but please don’t. You need that for tonight and the other hundred which I’ve just managed to scrape together for you.” While speaking she took £15 out of the money I had given her and added five more twenty pound notes to the rest. “Look, when we meet again I want to see you as beautiful as you are, not with your face cut open by one of Roy’s goons because you couldn’t pay your debts. Please Henry,” and she pressed the money back into my hand. “If you really, really love me pay your debts tonight and we’ll talk about the future tomorrow. Henry, for me?”

Oh you must love me a lot to trust me with five hundred quid when the racing’s still on. Are you sure?”

Henry, I’m as sure as you are that you will go through all the temptations in heaven and hell until you put that money in Roy’s hand tonight, but when you do you have no idea what it will feel like! Believe me, I know!” I believed her and made a really firm promise to myself that the £500 in my hand was going to Roy at 7.00pm that evening and nowhere else. I zipped it into my inside waistcoat pocket and then noticed Jill still wasn’t drinking.

You okay, love? You’re not drinking and your shoulder seems very painful. Let me take you back to the flat and have a look at it for you.”

She almost snatched her arm away from me in agony and then slumped forward the pain was so bad. I did not want to hear any more explanations. I just led her slowly out of the pub and then drove the ten minute journey to our flat by the common. She let me help her up the steps, but was about to pass out when I literally swept her off her feet, up the stairs and then laid her on her bed.

Jill, darling, if you’ve suffered what I think you have I have only one thing I need to do now.” And before she could reply I undid the back of her dress and bared the four inch knife wound down her shoulder blade. My first priority was to wash it, disinfect it and bandage it up, my temper rising by the second. Finally I calmed down  enough to speak sensibly.

Was it Roy? Don’t lie to protect me. Jill was it?” She was crying now and nodded her head. “Oh Henry please don’t do anything silly. He said this was just to make sure you’d pay him somehow. He knows he and his mates could beat you to a pulp in seconds, so if you love me, please just give him the money Henry. Please. Then we’ll go away and start again. If you love me Henry, please.”

For the next half an hour I just held her close to me and kissed her. Not a word from either of us. Then I got up and smiled at my Jillie.

It was only four o’clock but I told her I needed some Dutch courage then added, “I’m off to pay Roy for you my love, you have my word of honour. I’ll be back at 7.30 as you asked. But don’t move out of this flat or open the door to anyone but me. Okay?” She smiled but did not look as though she believed me. She just wished me good luck.

The one precaution that any inveterate gambler should take once he knows how addicted he is is to set up a really good rain cheque that he can call in whenever he needs it. But the one thing he should never do is to make it a debt repayable in money. Well that is what I had done four years earlier when Micky Bowen lost a grand to me in a poker match. He couldn’t pay but I came to an agreement with him. If ever I needed two men to accompany me to pay a bet he’d provide them and no questions asked. We had remained good pals and now the time had come. I got him on his mobile and told him I had to meet Roy at the Golden Goose at 7.00pm. I asked if he and two others could meet me there at 6.55pm. He assured me he wouldn’t let me down.

I was shaking like a leaf when I entered the pub at six minutes to seven. Roy was at the bar and seemed genuinely surprised to see me. His grin stretched from ear to ugly ear.

‘Ere look lads. The cowardly toff’ s turned up. Got the dosh, mate?”

I looked straight at him and said, “I don’t remember inviting you to address me. Kindly confine your remarks to those thick idiots you are too scared to go anywhere without to protect you.” The barman, Bill, just looked at me in despair.

Now, now boys. No fighting inside. In the street if you must.”

“Bill I have no intention of fighting anyone so I presume you were  speaking to that fat lump and his goons.”Then I did speak to Roy. “How much do you consider I owe you?”

That’s better, sonny. Five hundred and quick.” I smiled and took a pink 500 dollar Monopoly game note out of my pocket and made it into a toy paper plane which I then floated at him.

All I said was, “Quits, I think,”and I turned on my heel to walk out. Immediately his two minders shot forward to grab me, but they were just too late. The two men who had walked up behind me each drew out a sawn off shot gun and aimed it straight at one of the heavies. They stopped where they stood before backing off. Then I went up to Roy and seeing the naked fear in his face I removed his wallet from his pocket and took £1,500 in notes out of it.

That is the cost of the treatment my wife will have to pay to recover from the wound you gave her. Thank you. I owe you £500, so, being a man of honour, I shall return it to you. And putting the £500 Jillie had given me back in his wallet I pocketed the rest and slowly poured the remains of his pint of beer over his head.

My two friends still held their guns pointing at Roy’s goons as I walked to the door. Then as we were leaving they both fired at the same time. The water guns soaked Roy and his minders but before they had time to move we were all out the door and away in the car Micky had waiting for us. It sped away with no number plates. We picked up Jill and made London airport just in time to catch the Rome flight she had booked us on.

Micky and his heavies from Glasgow melted into thin air, Roy was never going to find them again. It all happened so fast Jill did not have time to ask for an explanation until we were airborne. “Well darling I was glad you had a passport at the flat. I always carry mine. I kept my word completely giving Roy the exact same notes you handed me. Then I kept £1,500 from his wallet.

After texting you to collect your things and book the flights I had one last flutter on the 4.45 and 5.15 at Kempton and 5.00 and 5.30 at Haydock. A lovely little four horse accumulator that paid 9-1, 16-1, 25-1 and 40-1, all bet with the last £5 in my pocket. I won £906,100 which should keep us going for quite a while if we give up betting!”

She could hardly believe me.

But Henry, Henry what did you do with all that money? Where is it? You couldn’t take it in cash and you’re bankrupt in England so it can’t be in a bank!”

I smiled lovingly at her. “Well £6,100 of it is in cash in my pocket with the other £1,500 from Roy, and the rest is in an account, €1,125,000 to be exact, in your name, in Geneva. I must show you how I wrote your signature.” And I did not forget to hand her her cheque book and withdrawal slips so she could set us up to use the money as we wanted to.

The cash in my pocket, worth €9,500 euros, will see us through a couple of weeks or more until we straighten everything out.” But Jillie was looking rather pale.

Henry what name did you open my account in? Not my real name I hope!”

Why not, isn’t it your name?”

Yes, my love, since we were married three weeks ago it is, but my passport back dates our wedding by some five years!”

I could hardly stop laughing. “I hoped it might, Jillie, that’s why I’ve got our wedding certificate with me. The account’s in your maiden name!”