Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Month: January, 2015

WHAT IS A SONG?


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Playlist of the Week.”     <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/playlist-of-the-week/”>Playlist of the Week</a>                                                                          What is a song?

According to i-tunes it’s anything that make a noise and you can download. At the other end of the scale, it’s a story put to music and performed by the human voice.

If this is correct, well roughly correct, in my last seven days, that is what is meant by a week isn’t it? I cannot  think of anything that occurred to me, for me, by me or with me that could be summed up by or related to any songs I have ever heard.

Ergo I can only say that as I have six critical illnesses, no ambitions of furthering my influence on mankind, womankind maybe but not mankind, and am totally uninterested in any current news stories, I really have nothing of interest to blogulate on this topic. Sorry:)

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Digital healthcare – the innovation debate


The most important barrier in the way forward in the field of digital medicine, for use of a better term, is the personality clash amongst the top rung of helth specialists in all departments of treating and curing the sick. Too many specialists put their own medical disciplne and its importance before the needs of patients from those with appendicitis to those with terminal cancer. While the age of the surgeon as ‘god of all’ in the medical world should have disappeared some forty years ago, unfortunately it hasn’t and ego-centric magicians with scalpels instead of wands are still far too prevalent in the NHS. Yet how to replace them while waiting for the digital age to become established and do a meaningful job? At the moment the whole public perception of the health care system in this country is so low that I have to agree with Ben and say that nothing can be expected to be achieved as long as nurses are dreadfully underpaid and cleaners and porters are better off than those who actually have responsibility for keeping very sick people alive. Just think of what I have said so far and then ask yourself if there is even a risk factor attached to digital utopia in health care? There are all light years away from seeing the light of day let alone night!

More Must Save Items


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/burnt/”>Burnt</a&gt;

my second five items  in order of regret. following the top five items I saved from the house on fire yesterday.

                                            More Must Save Items

This is easy.

6. My Tablet

7. The second tablet I take to make the first one work.

8. The doctor’s emergency phone number because that second tablet didn’t look the right colour.

9. The clouds I usually float on after tablets 1 and 2.

10. Oh and of course tablet number three for my memory loss problems. You know, the one I usually Forget!

Anton Wills-Eve

“You Don’t Need That!”


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/burning-down-the-house/”>Burning Down the House</a>

rather like the British ‘Desert Island Discs’ idea of saving what you most treasure, wordpress today wants us to grab five  items to save if the house catches fire.

 “You Don’t Need That!”

The children really entered into the spirit of the challenge. “Hey, this is great Mum,” cried Roger pulling a drawer out of her dressing table and emptying the contents all over the bedroom floor. “You haven’t worn that old blouse for years.”

My wife went puce. “Roger, stop! This game will cease now unless we all behave sensibly. Anyway how would a 12 year old boy know what his 36 year old mother wore  and how often? Now put everything back at once.” Then she turned to me. “And Tony, this is the last time you introduce one of your stupid  Word Press prompts  into this house. The children are just throwing things all over the place!” I was about to agree when I found a necklace Michele had not worn for three years at least.

“Hey! I wondered where this had got to. Do you remember that day I bought it for you when we’d had a rather liquid  lunch and you said you had coveted it for months?  You told me how it would turn you on, and then missed your drunken footing on a kerb stone and grabbed hold of my arm pulling two buttons off the cuff of my jacket? Come to think of it you haven’t worn it since have you?”

“Oh that’s unfair, dad,” butted in ten year old Anne. You had a flaming row about the cost of the only top mum could find that would match it! That’s why it’s never been worn. But twin brother Phil did not quite remember things that way. His version was,

“The dog ate it and  you were mortified, mum, remember? Then you used the housekeeping money to replace it so dad would not find out and be upset. I can remember it well. We didn’t have chocolates for a month!”

I was shocked.”Oh darling, is that true? How sweet of you. Of course I would have understood if you’d told me. You really are an angel.” And just as I hugged her and gave her a kiss the youngest of our progeny, seven year old Trevor, suggested we play the game properly.

“Let’s each make a list of five things and the items that get named most are saved. If we have a tie then Mum decides as she’s the one who moans most if we can’t find things in this house!”

“I don’t moan, Trevor, don’t be so rude. But it is a good idea.”  Well, it could have been, but have you ever tried to find seven clean sheets of paper and seven pencils in our house?  Have a go. It took twenty minutes before we all settled down round the kitchen table. The five kids, Roger,  Phil, Anne,  Mary and Trevor with  their two parents, behaved exactly like you would expect seven semi-bored children to behave. It was the silly questions that started the rot.

Mary raised her hand, God knows why, and asked, “Is there any limit on size? I’d have to take my new electronically controlled,  imitation show jumping horse.  We couldn’t afford to leave it behind could we dad?” I just looked at her with a threatening glare.  Roger had the worst problem though, well the most insane. 

“Dad does a pair of football boots count as two things or one?” I was about to lose my patience when Anne suggested

“You keep a size six right foot boot for Phil and he could keep a left foot for you. Then You could keep a cosmetic set for me.”

It was all getting too much for  Michele who got up from the table and said ,”Mummy  is going to make dinner  while the rest of you finish your insane Word Press inspired  game.” She stormed out of the room and we carried on boring ourselves rigid. I think it was Phil who first drew our attention to an odd smell coming from the kitchen about an hour later,

“Oh No! Dad, mum’s unconscious on the kitchen floor and the room is on fire!” Genuinely terrified, the children were helped from the smoke filled house as the fire brigade and ambulances came for us all.  While we were were gathered together in the accident and emergency ward of the hospital, checking no one was badly hurt, I suddenly realised  Michele was missing. I panicked and told the senior policeman with us,

” My wife, officer, my wife. She must be still back at the house. Tell the firemen.” But I calmed down almost at once when Michele’s voice whispered in my ear from behind the curtain by my bed,

“Darling, I’m so sorry, but it  was the only way I could stop you playing that dreadful load of on line rubbish you found!”

Anton Wills-Eve

Etymology


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/play-lexicographer/”>Play Lexicographer</a>

WordPress wants me to invent a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

                                            Etymology

“Hugh, what does etymology mean? It’s a word I’ve never heard of before?” I smiled  at her helpless lack of vocabulary but still found it incredible she could talk as well as she could. We were  in the same hospital ward being treated for brain damage, she from a dreadful illness with which she had been born and I from the mental confusion caused by a car crash. We had been together for nearly three weeks now and were both struggling to overcome our disabilities.

“Heavens, Glen, that’s a tricky one. Oddly, it’s the study of the origin of words, which is a very apt subject for both of us. Let me give you an example. The etymology of the word ‘holiday’ is the contraction of two other words, holy and day. In The early years of Christianity a Holy Day was a special day like the feast of a saint, or Easter when Jesus was crucified and rose again from the dead. Such days were so important workers were often given the day off to go to church and then pleasantly enjoy themselves. You see over the centuries Holy and Day were gradually joined together and meant a day off work or, as we now say, a holiday. That’s an example of etymology. Understand?”

“Hugh, what do contraction and crucified mean?” We both laughed out loud and then I got a total mental block. I hadn’t a clue what we were talking about. I had to ask her, much to my embarrassment, and she said ,”Oh Hugh I can’t remember. You were explaining something to me as usual but I don’t know what. It couldn’t have been all that important.”  But by this stage in the conversation I could note a very definite sadness in her tone and almost a sense of despair that she would never be able to communicate like ordinary people. She was probably thinking that I would eventually get better, but she had been stuck with her illness for thirty seven years already and with no real prospect of it improving very much if at all. But our situations were not as different as might at first have appeared. I had lost my wife in a car crash and, although married for ten years, we had never had children. In truth I was very lonely  and not being able to remember what Renee had even looked like made me wonder if I was ever going to picture her again. I was nearly forty myself and my career in journalism had taken a serious blow with my injuries. I was covered by a good insurance policy for another three years but then the future was really bleak if I did not pick up and return to being able to write. We were both sitting idly not trying to do anything constructive at all that afternoon when Glenda jumped up and blurted out,

“I know what it was. I didn’t know what etymology meant and you tried to tell me. But I can’t remember what you said, but I do recall that I didn’t understand some of the words. But I don’t know which.” As you can imagine exchanges like that were depressing in the extreme and a couple of days later I remember finding Glen sitting on the seat in the hospital garden crying her eyes out. She desperately tried to stop me finding her like that  but I was too quick.

“Hey, Sunshine. Cheer up. It may be hell at the moment but we’ll pull through. And I sat beside her and held her hand tightly. You’ll see Glen. Something will turn up.” But she floored me with her next remark.

“Oh, Hugh it has. It’s you. You’re clever, cheerful even when you look like death you act like somebody who is still trying to get better. But look at me. I’ve given up Hugh, I really have. If  I can’t have a normal life with you I just want to curl up and die.”

And then the thunderbolt hit me and I smiled and grinned at Glen all at the same time. “Tell me, Glen, seriously, what does ‘monplushioned’  mean?”

She could see I hadn’t been drinking and wondered if I was alright. “What did you say? Hugh say that word again,” I repeated it,

“Monplushioned.What do you think it means?” She hadn’t a clue. She thought I was taking the Mickey and trying to make fun of her, but still the whole diversion intrigued her. I said it again very clearly and slowly, “Mon plush ion ed. What does that mean to you  Glen? Not to me, or anybody else, but to you? Make up an answer if you don’t know, but give it a meaning. Please, just for me.”

A flicker of hope that I thought I could help her flitted across her face and she replied,”Okay Hugh , it means ‘scrancloonging’, but only at low tide when the moon’s out and the wind’s in the West North East.”

I nodded. “Almost, but more towards daybreak and before sunset. The etymology is from the Venusian  words , karr and smynthing, from which we also get ‘golhumptying.'”

“Hugh, what does etymology mean?”

That week we discharged ourselves from the hospital together for ever.

Anton Wills-Eve

Bayern Munich Four Barcelona Nil


a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/embrace-the-ick/”>Embrace the Ick</a>

praising that which I hate. as we all have sports teams we can’t stand I had to write one about a team I DON’T support winning a key game in the European soccer cup. But to add ginger and pep to this I did two things. One I wrote it as a poem and two I wrote it as an acrostic of the actual result , which was 

” Bayern Munich four Barcelona nil.”

(written 15 minutes after the game)

Before the start,the German crowd,
Already singing and chanting out loud,
Yelled Spanish obscenities at the foe
Encouraging their own lads to have a go.
Remembering last season’s surprise defeat,
Not prepared to settle for a repeat,
Made most soccer writers think they’d win
Until the ref blew the whistle to begin.
Never had Barcelona played so well
Iniesta and Xavi cast a dazzling spell
Changing wings and making Munich stand tall
Hanging on in defence, only just clearing the ball.
Finally, though, against the run of play
On the far post Thomas Muller found a way
Up in the air he met a cross with his head
Rattling the ball into the net, his team now led.
Back came the Spaniards with Messi away
Alas he was flagged offside. Not his day.
Really, one – nil at half time made them inspired
Completely outplaying Barcelona as first Gomez fired
Easily into the goal for their second that night
Literally draining the Spaniards of spirit or fight.
Once Robben had scored number three it was clear
Now the fans and the crowd had nothing to fear.
A fourth goal, the best, from Muller again,
Nothing could stop Bayern as they piled on the pain.
In Spain next week this means Barcelona need five.
Little chance of them keeping their Cup hopes alive!

 

Anton Wills-Eve

OVER OUR RUBICON?


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Free Association.”

                           Over Our  Rubicon

It was the coldest, whitest day of the year. Okay, we had been warned about blizzards and heavy snowfalls but not on this scale. Penny gripped my hand really tightly as we half slid, half skated our way to school, half a mile across the field and another mile down the country lane into the village and a few more yards to the school. She looked up at me shyly and asked,

“Are you afraid the blizzard will get worse, Jim, and maybe leave us stuck here all day?” I honestly was not at all certain but could see the tight lipped, determined little girl did not want to appear frightened of the weather even though she obviously was. I suppose at the age of nine, holding onto a fourteen year old boy who had been both a neighbour and a hero all her life, made her more determined than ever not to seem scared. I felt I had to cheer her up so said, half jokingly,

“The snow won’t beat us, Penn. We’ll make the road easily before it gets much deeper. See the willow trees by the stream where we join the lane? Well once we cross the narrow water we’ll have no more difficulties from there to the village. Believe me, I’ve often done this walk in the winter. Anyway, when I drop you off at school, I’ll get the college bus for the rest of my journey so we’ll both be fine.” She smiled confidently up at me and tightened her grip as her foot slid sideways slightly. I grinned back encouragingly as the snow clouds thickened ominously overhead and the sky darkened noticeably. But somehow we reached the willow trees without mishap. Then, to my dismay, I realised the stream had not frozen solid as I expected and I could see we were going to have to try to jump across.

“Penn, I can do this but it may be a bit wide for you. If I go first could you throw me your school bag and then hold on to the overhanging willow branch and try swinging over the water. I’ll catch you easily half way, but your snow boots might get soaked. It’s our best chance as the stream is not deep at all.” She slung her bag much too far, which made us both laugh, but it was the last time we did because, as the branch hardly propelled her at all, I had to lunge forward to stop her landing in the icy water. A loud crack followed by an excruciating pain, told me I had twisted or broken my ankle and I hit the water first.

“Jim, Jim.” Penny shouted as she landed on top of me, my legs and waist in the water and the rest of me on the snow covered bank. I could not speak because of the pain in my ankle but Penny could. As she scrambled up the bank, retrieving her woollen beret on the way, she looked down on me almost in tears and asked, “How am I going to get you out? You’re much bigger than I am and you’ve hurt your foot badly, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I think I have, Penn, could you reach the lane and shout for help?” This was all I could think of, but I had reckoned without my little companion. No way was she leaving me half in and half out of the freezing stream. She told me she had an idea. Despite my protests, and as I could only move from the knees up, she took off the green belt that kept her overcoat fully shut round her, and tied it to my ankles. To this day I have no idea how I remained concious it hurt so much, but her grim little face was enough to make me let her help me.

It took Penny twenty minutes to roll my legs up the bank as I helped by clawing my upper body well clear of the water. We both just collapsed with total exhaustion. “Oh thank you Penn.Thank you. I’d have died of cold if I’d stayed there. Could you get to the lane and try to get help or you’ll die of cold too?” But she insisted on one more thing first.

“I’ll find my bag and get my lunch box. We can’t have you starving to death after saving you from drowning.” It took another three hours of to-ing and fro-ing from me to the lane, as the snow got heavier and we admitted to each other just how worried we were. But Penny did her best to remain cheerful for my sake until rescue arrived in the shape of a passing farmer who knew us well.

It was as we were being driven to hospital in the ambulance that had been called for us that I thanked Penny and said I didn’t know how she managed to do so much for me. All she did was blush crimson, kiss me on the cheek and whisper, “Well, Jim, you see, I’m going to marry you!”

My problem is that that was only two weeks ago!

Anton Wills-Eve

OUR VICTORY


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

               OUR VICTORY

I left my dying fiancee’s bed

I wandered lost down lanes that led

To moments of unimaginable dread

That all I loved would soon be dead.

God use my loss as to You she sped,

Please hold her soul in hands that bled

So every tear she had ever shed

And every prayer she had ever said

Would lead her finally to be wed

To our holy victory in Your Godhead!

Anton Wills-Eve

Anne


My Hero


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/pleased-to-meet-you/”>Pleased to Meet You</a>

following the wordpress prompt imagining what happened when two famous literary or screen (or both) characters met for the first time.

                                       My Hero

Our story opens on the bustling set of a new Hollywood blockbuster. A young girl approaches a young man….obligatory in pre-war movies.

“Oh, Mr.Butler. At last. I’ve heard so much about you, and that great photograph by Matt Brady, you were so handsome in it. But in real life you’re even more attractive. I’ve gone all goose bumps, and feel shy which isn’t like me at all.”

“I’m sorry honey, I didn’t catch your name. If you want an autograph you’ll have to see my agent Mrs. Mitchel. They say we’re going to have a civil war any day soon and I don’t want that English creep Leslie stealing the lead role from me, so if you’ll  excuse me…”

“Oh No. So cruel. Cruel, too cruel, do you hear me? I too am English and on top of that  I can act. Take me instead of him. Please, ” and she aimed a swoon at two outstretched arms, not noticing they were trying to light a five foot long cigar.

“Cut!! For Lords sakes, honey the censor will never pass that scene. You missed his arms and your head hit his knee on your way to the ground. And what did you say your name was? Viv Pink? What sort of a name is that? ” But the debonair Mr.Butler rose to her rescue.

” She’s cuter than Leslie, give her the job and let’s get this movie started or people will have read the book before we have time to ruin it. Also the war’s getting closer and I don’t want to be caught up in Atlanta when the flames hit the fan.”

At this the hitherto unknown lady cried out in an ecstacy of overacting, ” Oh Mr.Butler, thank you. You’ve made my career. Oh just think, I’ll divorce you and marry Larry and have lost of little Scarlets and Retts and be famous and never have to beg on the street corners of Hollywood again.”

The director lost his patience. “Look lady you’ve just been given the lead part in Gone with ….Gone with… what’s this damn movie called? ‘The Wind!?’ No kiddin’! ‘The Wind.’ Okay. So I’ll make ‘The Wind’. Now act or that Olivia dame will get your part and you’ll be on the next boat back to Liverpool, England. Okay guys, roll!”

At that moment Clark Gable  – “who the hell’s he? Is he in this movie? You sure? News to me still I get paid thousands just to shout roll and cut so let’s get on with it” – strode onto the set his eyebrows twitching and his nostrils flaring as he tried to emote passion. Thomas Mitchell looked at him and said, “you sure Trigger didn’t get offered your part, bud?” They almost had the whole of the civil war right there and then but fortunately Raymond Massey was having a manicure so they had no one to play the lead in the sub plot, ‘death of a president.’

And as the sun set on the studio filled with our cine-celebrated characters, Viv Pink had a sudden call of nature and in her first natural remark to Clark  said, “Could you lend me a coin to go to the ladies?” To which he replied,

“I’m fresh outta dimes, baby, but I could give you a damn!”

And now we see the whole scene closing at sunset with a young wannabe actor struggling to think up a title for a cowboy film he wanted to star in with twelve year old Grace Kelly. On the pad in front of him he had written and crossed out,….  eleven seventeen….eight thirty four….six twenty pm ….

Hollywood legend has it that it took him another ten years to think up the eventual title. “Low Midnight!”

Anton Wills-Eve

 

“Oh, Honestly! Sally!”


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Agree to Disagree.” <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/agree-to-disagree/”>Agree to Disagree</a>                                 “Oh, Honestly! Sally!”

“You what? You think pop music is better than Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Brahms? Are you off your head, or what?” Sally was adamant. She shook her mop of chestnut curls and scowled at me.

” And just how many singles has Brahms had at number one in the charts? Eh? And how many millions did Beethoven make when he released his fifth symphony?  Two dimes and a bit probably! It’s you who don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was getting very heated at this point because we were discussing which concert we should go to next weekend and she had  chosen ‘Glastonbury’ and I had chosen the Festival Hall. But I quickly thought I had stuck a dagger right into her argument when I said,

” And who is the greatest soloist on show this weekend? Seriously Sal. Do you really think Mick Jagger, poncing around the stage, lips a quiver, is a musician in the same league as Stephen Hough, the greatest living concert pianist, giving us the sublime sounds of one of the world’s greatest pieces of music when he plays Brahms’ first piano concerto?  For a start one’s music and the other’s a great entertainer who has a place on Olympus, granted, but in a slightly different category!”

We loved each other, believe it or not, but music was the great dividing point in  our lives. For a start I did not think that Sally’s sounds of enjoyment were even music, and she in turn thought that mine were just a pose put on to impress people who assumed that as I was steeped in the history and knowledge of classical music and musicians then I must be some sort of upper class superman. Then she aimed her dart. Good aim too!

“When Hough played Brahms’ opus 15 at the Proms, he added four bars at the end because he thought it sounded better! Better than Brahms? Who did he think he was? The critics were up in arms.” I fell back, staggered.

“How the hell did you know about that? And don’t say you listened to it because I wouldn’t believe you! It wasn’t that nerd Gregory, was it? ” My blood, like my challenged  passion, was up. I tried to continue with “All he knows about classical music is …”

“…Is completely irrelevant. I heard that prom, well saw a recording of it and the way he slammed his fist into the last bar was certainly not in the score. No, you have to accept the top performers in all branches of entertainment are those who make the audience sit up  and take notice. Rubinstein, Horowizt, Gould, Arrau how many more do you want me to concede? I know all about the really great performers, but were they the greatest musicians? No they weren’t and that’s why I prefer pop and rock to your favourites. Mine never pretended to be better than they were, but yours only cared about what over educated music critics in upper class  newspaper reviews thought of them!” It suddenly struck me that we were both talking unadulterated rubbish. So I tried to calm things down.

“Okay, Sal. We’ll toss for where we go this weekend. Heads it’s my music tails it’s your cacophony. Okay?” She nodded. I flipped a two pound coin high in the air, it landed heads up, and we were off to the Festival Hall. But as we made our way to the concert that weekend she did ask me one interesting question.

“What is your favourite piece of chamber music? Mine is Brahms’ opus eight, his first piano trio. Have you heard the Louvre recording by Istomin, Sterne and Rose? It must be on it’s own in that category surely?” I was stunned because I agreed. How on earth could I get my own back. Then I knew the only weapon I had.

“Yes, but looking at your type of noise, even I would have to agree that  ELP were the greatest progressive rock band of all time. I mean Keith Emerson on keyboard alone  was …..” she looked puzzled as she asked,

“Keith who?”

Anton Wills-Eve

My Week Link.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brain Power.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/brain-power/”>Brain Power</a>

wordpress has asked what I would do if I had 90% more brain.

My Week Link

Basically this prompt is asking me what would I do if I had 90% more brain. Well, let’s see. For a start I would immediately take out a life insurance policy for several million dollars or pounds or whatever currency I could get it in, because if I exerted myself that much more I’d be dead in a week. So What would I do with  90% more brain power in my last week?

For starters I would say an extra 90 % of the prayers I say every day, which take about 25 minutes a day on average. That would account for four hours approximately. Then I would do all I usually do in 20 hours nine times faster leaving me with 16 hours to do something extra. Now what would that be? I suppose sport would have to come into it so I’d watch another nine hours cricket,rugby,baseball, gridiron, golf, motor racing  and snooker. That would take care of my eyesight for a start, and would leave me with just seven hours .

Three hours would go on eating and enjoying drinking to keep up with the extra energy I’d need. So Now I have just four hours. I have a sneaking suspicion this would be spent sleeping as I’d be tired out. I’d make sure my dreams were 90% better than usual though, and boy is that saying something! And then at the end of the week I’d have to face God on Judgement day. What would He make of me I wonder? I think I know what He’d say though.

“That was a helluva waste of a week wasn’t it? But don’t worry. I still love you baby so I’ll tell St.Peter to let you in. But next time don’t take any notice of those awful prompts. You may not be so lucky!”

Anton Wills-Eve

Quo Vadis Sat Nav?


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/connect-the-dots/”>Connect the Dots</a>Oh no! I’ve picked up the telephone directory. That means I have to write a wordpress  post which includes, and I quote ,  the first sentence my hand falls on! it turns out to be; “77 Blackwell Road, London.” Are these WordPress people for real? Have they ever seen Blackwell Road? It’s the backside of the world. And I mean world.

                                 Quo Vadis Sat Nav?

Jeremy Jones had been trying to come to terms with his sat nav for some five weeks, but he still could not make it work.

“Left, you idiot. Left, can’t you read?” Alexandra was getting madder by the minute. “Look at the bloody thing. What does it say for Saint Paul’s Cathedral? WEll?

“Oh, shit! How did you miss that bus? Have you got a driving licence?”

Jerry began to lose patience with his girl friend. “Belt up or I’ll hit the next one on purpose.  What do you expect if you keep making me look away from the road and at that stupid thing you’ve stuck on the dashboard? Eh? Just shut it!”

The girl curled up in a sudden mixture of rage and disappointment. “So that’s all you think of the birthday present I bought you, is it? I looked everywhere for something original, Jerry. I thought you’d love it with your mania for everything to do with motoring. I also wanted to get to the Cathedral in time for the lunchtime concert, but we’ll never make that now. How could you be so thick Jerry? And where on earth are we anyway?”

Jerry did not have a clue but he was not going to admit he was lost. “Only slightly out of our way, love, don’t worry, that ‘sat’ thing will tell you.What does it say for where we are? 77,Blackwell road,London? Where’s that? I suppose it must be here, wherever THAT is!  Still,  we may yet make the city centre in time. I’ll take the next right and then you can direct me using the sat nav. ” Alexandra was slightly mollified and smiled at Jerry. She was very fond of him and regretted her outburst. But not for long. The first right was straight into a ‘no entry’ one way road and Jerry drove his sports car straight into an oncoming truck that thought it owned the road. Which in this case it did. The somewhat rough spoken driver was not amused.

“‘Ere mate. Wot the bleedin ‘ell de yer fink yer doing? If yer must drive a poncey little car to impress yer bird , take a driving test first.” As he was also some six foot five tall and as wide as he was high, Jerry was reluctant to challenge him. 

“I’m  awfully sorry, my dear fellow, but I am a bit lost around these parts and didn’t know this was a one way street. If you give me your documents I’ll see that my insurance company pays for all the damage. I really am sorry.”

The truck driver was about to explain to Jerry that he didn’t bother with expensive extras like insurance, or car tax, or even a driving licence. He was about to ask for a very large cheque or Jerry would answer to ‘his friends’, when the noise of the affray attracted a passing police  car which sped to the scene. The truck driver went white. “Bloody ‘ell. The rozzers. Gawd, I’m orf! ”

But ‘off’ was the one thing he was not. The policemen recognised him and had handcuffed him before he could move. Then they bombarded him with unanswerable questions like, was it his truck? where had he stolen it? did he have a licence? etc etc  and the curtain came down on the farce with the law officers leading the truck driver away. But as they turned to make sure that Jerry and Alexandra would be able to find their way back to the main thoroughfare one of them turned to Alex and smiled,

“Oh, but you’ll be okay, Miss. I see you’ve got a sat nav. You’ll not have any bother finding your way with that, will you?” 

Anton Wills-Eve

 

As You Can Imagine


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/daily-prompt-5/”>Image Search</a>

                                                             As You Can Imagine

I have never heard of Google images and cannot find them on my computer; well four desk top PCs, three lap tops, two smart phones, three tablets and my wife’s iPad. I therefore found today’s prompt beyond me. But perhaps not the spirit of it. As a student of iconography and all forms of image-evoking art, I decided to write about the whole concept of images and imagining within the limitations of abstract human thought processes.  As  you can imagine, by this medium so can you be an individual. Think about it. Imagine it, if you will. What do our cerebral images tell us that is actually of any value to us at all when we are not using our eyes? They may be shut in prayer or meditation, under anaesthetic or just asleep, but whatever the cause, I wish to discuss briefly the use of those images which crowd our minds when we are not using our sense of sight.

The most common  form of non-cognitive cerebral image perception is probably the nightmare. I so much prefer the French ‘cauchemare’, it somehow gets right inside you before confusing and frightening you. But the nightmare is invariably a sequence of tableaux which scare you. And this is not least because the pictures they paint across your subconscious are in vivid, screaming colours, yet include recognisable faces of people you know who are either suffering themselves or causing you pain. Many psychiatrists associate nightmares with guilt complexes, but this does not ring true for me. No, for me the nightmare is only the experience of horror or shock which we have stored up when awake and are incapable of suppressing when asleep. Lucky the man who can remember his dreams, they tell him so much about himself.

And on the role of all dreams in this discussion, how sweet it is to dream of love and conjure up in your dream the face of the person without whom you cannot envisage continuing living. For me it is the power of a long remembered smile, a ringlet wafting across her face, an infectious contortion of her entire corporal frame which invariably accompanies a happy giggle or the sensual delight of a playful tickle. When awake I have never seen all these images at one and the same time. But asleep, oh the excitement of them all being there at once! And I dream also of mysteries I can never solve but whose answers appear before me as I slumber. A saint’s face, a racing car cornering at two hundred and thirty miles an hour, my dog playing with the children while guarding them too. Their happy expressions result in such vibrant emotions being stirred up in my brain that I start to think I am awake. But all I am doing is wishing I was, because when I am they are never quite so strong. More real, perhaps, but nothing like as pleasantly engaging..

Now, I did question if  such images had any value because we are not using our eyes, well not controlling their use. I have to say I think they do. I have nearly died several times, helicopter crashes, bombs, gun shots have all pushed me a little closer to the abyss, but the worst moment was just before being put unconscious before a life threatening operation. I deliberately tried to focus on God as I went under, but it was so quick and my return to consciousness eleven hours later was so fast that I recall nothing that passed before my mind during that time. But the next time I fell asleep I dreamed I was dying and the images that sped across my uncomprehending brain were so awful I can never forget them, but neither can I describe them. You ask where was the value in that? Think, my friend. Is it not obvious? I can now talk about things I saw but never set eyes on, eternal mysteries and their solutions I contemplated without ever understanding them. How lucky I was, we all are,  that this type of iconograhic meditational experience is possible and happens to everyone. It is what makes us individuals. And, more importantly, we all enjoy our mental pictures, be they pleasant or terrifying, as you can imagine.

Anton Wills-Eve

Dear Jane


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Audience of One.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/audience-of-one/”>Audience of One</a>

Dear Jane,

Why did you walk away when I called out to you that last day at school? All I wanted to do was say goodbye. Was that too much to let me do, or did you not want to hear me say it? Did you really love me after all but just could not bring yourself to admit it? I mean what did I do apart from kiss Linda a little too passionately without realising you were watching? That and you finding me in flagrante delicto with Jennifer under our favourite tree in the orchard? 

Teenage moments of loss of will power, that’s all they were. Honestly. I know you wanted to have me all to yourself, well I understand that. But what I don’t understand is why you thought such occasional moments of carnal enjoyment meant any more to me than your affair with Tommy nine months ago. Now that was a really passionate  and prolonged surrender to your  craving for physical satisfaction. But I told you I understood, I forgave you. I promised I’d never bring the subject up again. But Jane, you’ve left me no choice. I was really hurt when you wouldn’t even look at me as you walked away. Have you any idea what the difference is between loving someone and just wanting to MAKE love ? Have you? It’s all the difference in the world. 

And what am I supposed to do now if I want to find you again and try to convince you of my undying romantic affection? We often shared a joke, both enjoyed the same music and films and even went to the same church. What stopped you wanting us to become a happy couple for the rest of our lives? Was it perhaps the child I had through Pat, who would not even allow me to see my own son believing I  had only ‘had it off for fun’, and  saying  I thought ‘having a baby might be a lark’? Do you remember that terrible court scene when I lost the right to even see my own flesh and blood? You were very sorry for me then and helped me. Why not now?

And what about that night I caught you hugging  Wendy behind the gym and you pretended it was just because you wanted to find out what it would be like! Eh? Really Jane, I’ve always given you the benefit of the doubt why couldn’t you give me a break? I know you don’t even read my blogs, Celia told me after she saw you last month. What other medium have I got to contact you through when you never answer the phone, reply to emails or allow me to visit your house? Please give me one more chance. It could work, really it could. Or have you found another Tommy or Frank and forgotten all about me?  Jane, at least put me out of my misery and tell me. Please. Just acknowledge this letter with a yes or a no and I’ll try to start a new life if I have to. I do love you. Carole.      

Anton Wills-Eve

Veni Creator Spiritus


I<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/bone-of-contention/”>Bone of Contention</a>n response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bone of Contention.”

for the first time I have entered two posts in response to a prompt. One humerous and one serious. I enjoyed doing both. This is the serious one.

                 Veni Creator Spiritus.

Leaving aside spiritual love, faith, charity, being a nice person or an absolute sod, there exists for all of us the question did God create us and the world we inhabit or is the whole idea of a creator God just nonsense?

Well there is a straightforward, logical answer to this and everybody, whether they like it or not, has to accept it. The answer is that ‘pro’ or  ‘con’ neither idea can be proved  empirically either way.

If God created us and wants us for eternity, or if the whole spiritual ‘thing’ leaves us cold, the fact still remains that one of those two  possibilities MUST be true and one MUST be false. Given that this is so, how on earth, or heaven for that matter, can anybody take the chance of putting two fingers up to God and risk going to hell for ever and ever and ever?  Make the second choice and you’re a conceited nutter. But the other choice involves doing what God told us to do while on earth, a task usually beyond anyone to achieve. Even so, surely it is better to TRY to make something everlasting out of your life than throw the whole idea of eternity out of the window and risk everlasting unpleasantness?  I know which I’ve chosen, appalling example of everything I ought to be that I am.

Anton Wills-Eve

Not Tonight Josephine


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bone of Contention.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/bone-of-contention/”>Bone of Contention</a>

couldn’t resist this chance to write another acrostic poem. It’s not so much about a bone of contention as a ‘Bone- Apart’.  🙂

Not Tonight Josephine

(an acrostic poem)

Napoleon was the ruler of the whole of France,

Oh to his tune how everybody did dance,

Thinking him without any doubt to be

The greatest soldier in the French army.

Only his pretty girlfriend, Josephine,

Now an empress but never a queen,

Invites him regularly for an evening of fun,

Generally after a day of playing with his gun.

Hence his reluctance, so we’ve been told,

To accept her advances, no matter how bold.

«Josephine, pas ce soir, cherie, je t’en prie

Oof, how much your loving takes it out of me!

Soldiering is such a very strenuous thing,

Even so, though, I do love our occasional fling.

Perhaps, Ma Petite, you’re so greatly to be desired,

How about tomorrow evening if I’m not too tired?

Indeed I adore you, Ma Cherie, mon amour.

Nothing turns me on like approaching your door.

Eh bien, Josephine, ce soir let’s try it encore!”.

Anton Wills-Eve

Patrick Fowlds’ Last Lesson


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/call-me-ishmael/”>Call Me Ishmael</a>

 The first line of my favourite book is not in English, but that need not worry you. It’s very short.

                                                      Patrick Fowlds’ Last Lesson

“Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant.

“Johnson! Yes you, boy. Put that mobile phone away and pay attention to the text. This is a Latin class not a computer lesson. These words of Virgil were written two thousand years ago and deserve your full respect. The language may virtually be dead, but I still teach it because of the wonderful stories that have been written in it.!”

At this another fifteen year old interrupted, his questioning hand waving loftily above his head.

“Yes Mitchel?”

“Please Sir, how many years have you been teaching Latin, Sir?” Patrick Fowlds could see genuine interest in the eyes of the pupil so answered him honestly.

“Since I was twenty two.That is forty four years ago and I shall be retiring at the end of this year. I only hope my subject does not retire with me. It is full of such super tales.”

The class actually began to feel a little sorry for their teacher, so often the butt of schoolboy humour  and even laughed at when his laboured jokes completely misfired. He greatly envied those popular masters who also taught cricket and football and were the heroes of their students. In recent years he also had to compete in the popularity stakes  with young female teachers who had even more enticing ways to attract their charges. The staff in general tolerated rather than encouraged Patrick to join in their amusements, but it is probably true to say that hardly anyone would miss him when he left.

How many years had he told Mitchel? Was it really forty four? Well at least he had spent those years in the company he liked more than anything else – his classics books. He cast a glance round the form room before continuing. It was odd, he felt a bit dizzy and his tie was tighter than usual under his collar. He tried to continue the lesson but had to ask,

“Sims! Could you open that window by you please? It’s getting very stuffy here.” The boys watched transfixed as Mr. Fowlds suddenly clapped a hand to his chest and almost shouted out the first line of second book of The Aeneid again. “Conticuere omnes, intentique ora tenebant!” Then he crumpled in a heap on the floor of the dais in front of the blackboard. All twenty three boys rushed to his aid, one of them dialing for an ambulance on his cell phone. Harper tried to give him some cola which he kept in his desk, then just before another pupil suggested trying to resuscitate him, Mitchel asked the dying man, out of sympathy more than interest,

“Tell us, Sir. That line you’ve just read, what does it mean, Sir?” And with his last breath he told them,

“It says…it means ..’all gathered round him eagerly waiting to hear the story unfold.” But the boys never heard the story;not how the Greeks entered the city via a Trojan Horse,nor Cassandra’s prophecy, or Achilles dying with an arrow in his heel, the towers of Illium crashing down and killing king Priam. They knew nothing of Helen watching as her lover Paris was killed, or Laocoon being crushed to death by the sea serpent for foretelling his nation’s doom and above all Aeneas’ flight through secret passages and tunnels to escape and fulfill his life’s mission, to sail the world as it was then known, even if it meant deceiving Queen Dido, and finally establishing ‘the city of the seven hills’ that was to become the Empire of Rome.

No, Patrick Fowlds took the greatest story ever written to his grave with him. But that evening after school, Mitchel stopped off in the school library and took out an English translation of the book. He felt he owed the old man that much.

Anton Wills-Eve

Ginny’s Journey


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In Good Faith.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/in-good-faith/”>In Good Faith</a>

Ginny’s Journey

She was one of 14 children, born in the decades between the wars when families of  Catholic Irish origin in Britain were still praying for the conversion of England, and backing their prayers with a big contribution to the number of Catholics per capita. She grew  up holy, pretty and modest. A model little girl who actually loved the stories of God that her family told her every night. She also loved the atmosphere of the Latin-Mass congregation who understood little of what they heard or said but still very obviously loved each other. She really enjoyed going up to receive Communion and then battling the petty sins of puberty and the first temptations of the teenage flesh as she met a boy she really loved. But Ginny would never  commit a sin of impurity. You see, she did not want to go to hell. She did not fear hell fire, no  it was just that her favourite saint would not be there. 

She knew Saint Rita had led a difficult life in Mediaeval Italy but  ended it by fulfilling her religious vocation and becoming a nun against all the odds. Ginny knew her as the patron saint of hopeless causes  and her aim in life was to try to help really hard  done by people herself. But how could she know, well she couldn’t, that the person who was to be most sorely tormented was she herself. She was about to marry her childhood sweetheart when she was twenty but a month before the wedding he was killed in a plane crash. She put her whole heart into Saint Rita’s keeping, weeping and begging to be kept true to her Faith despite her awful loss.

Two years later she met a young man who she did not love romantically so much as want to help. He had not long recovered from a mental breakdown and she wanted to lead him back to a normal life. They married and he recovered very well under her prayers and encouragement. She was so glad for them both. But it was not he who was to suffer. Their first child was still born, their second was seriously mentally retarded and their third both deaf and dumb. But still Ginny hung onto the hem of Saint Rita’s habit and begged her to keep her close to God. Her truly loving and rather sweet devotion was known only to herself, but worse was to come. He husband had a relapse under the strain of his children’s suffering and took his own life when he was forty and Ginny was only thirty seven. In those days many Christians believed that all suicides were unforgiveable and went straight to hell and the thought of this nearly drove Ginny mad herself. But from somewhere deep down, in the depths of her soul she dragged up the last vestiges of Faith and Hope that she could find and begged Saint Rita to help her live through her purgatory on earth because she was really getting close to losing God altogether. The final crisis came a few weeks after her forty fifth birthday in 1979 when both her parents died of very painful  forms of cancer within a couple of weeks of each other. The sacred thread holding Ginny to God snapped and she wandered away, lost and broken as she cursed everything she had ever held dear. Never would she pray for help or love again.

It was some fifteen years after that that she was struck down with cancer herself. Friendless, horribly depressed, unable to face her deformed offspring and abandoned by her family, she wandered into my church and asked me if I would hear what she believed would be her last confession. There was almost nobody in the church that day and she let the full story of the sorrow that was her time on earth just pour out of her.

“Father, I gave up God because he gave up me. But I’ve been told I shall be dead very soon. Just in case, just if perhaps I’m wrong, please forgive me and ask God to as well. That is if He  exists at all.” I attended her funeral very soon after that and as I was walking away from the graveside, where less than a handful of mourners had bothered to remember her, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a beautiful Italian voice whisper to me,

“Grazzie, father. I never let go of anyone who loves me as she did.”

Anton Wills-Eve

Lucy’s Last Chance


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/i-got-skills/”>I Got Skills</a>

                                                                   Lucy’s Last Chance

Ever since the age of six little Lucy Browning had been mad on playing the piano. Her outstanding skill was noticed at a very early stage. But sadly many people experience hard knocks in life and few find anything more of a burden than having a speech impediment. Little Lucy was such girl, her stammer disrupting everything she wanted to do from her earliest days in infants school. But she was lucky in having a very loving family who did everything they could to help her.

Her elder brother Henry, who was nineteen when she celebrated her fifteenth birthday, regularly lost his temper with people who made fun of his sister and was very worried how she was going to manage when he went to university the following September. However, she assured him she had enough friends to stop her being badly bullied.

The best of these friends was Jenny Williams, an attractive girl with long blond hair who genuinely enjoyed Lucy’s company and, although complete opposites, they got on really well together. “Well, Luce, this is the year that makes or breaks us. I’ve got to get really good GCSE exam grades in science next summer if I’m to get to a top university. But I expect you’ve already written in ‘one hundred per cent’ next to music,” and she smiled and laughed at the same time.

Lucy grinned back, her straight, brown hair adding little to her understandably shy personality. “T-t-true J-J-Jen, but that’s about a-a-all! Languages are a n-n-nightm-m-mare. I like science b-b-but school says b-b-cause I c-c-can’t say the w-w-words easily in ch-ch-chemistry and phyics, I can’t do them. And my wr-wr-written work is quite good. It’s silly!” Jenny agreed wholeheartedly but made no comment as they went into class for the first lesson of the autumn term that September.

At home Lucy’s parents, though, were more worried than Henry. They knew their little daughter was a fighter even if she was no academic genius, so they greatly encouraged her love of music. They saved all the money they could afford to engage a top class piano teacher for her. She had had two one hour lessons every week for nearly nine years when the GCSE year started. She had already won several junior prizes for her playing, including one quite prestigious piano competition for under twelves when she was only ten. Indeed, her teacher was so pleased with her that she predicted a possible outstanding future for her as a concert pianist.

The school had spent five years trying to cure or eradicate Lucy’s impediment, though with very little success. Her teachers knew how difficult life was for her, but in a school of fourteen hundred pupils aged eleven years or older there was little they could do in already over crowded classes. Her form mistress, Miss Paget, who was keen on getting the best overall average grades for her class out of the four forms that year, took Lucy aside to explain to her,

“Lucy you must realise how difficult it’s going to be for you to get good grades in most of your subjects and you will fail French and Spanish completely because you could never pass the conversation modules. We thought if you gave up half your subjects this year and concentrated on music and four other exams you could stay behind for twelve months and do the rest next year. You are a very skillful pianist so that will always be a back up for you. What do you think?”

What Lucy thought she was not able to say to the bullying woman be-littling, her because what she thought was, ‘You mean you want your average grades to be as high as possible and don’t care about my feelings at all’. What she managed to say out loud was, “M-m-my parents w-w-want me to do ten s-s-subjects, so I w-w-will! Also I w-w-want to stay with m-m-my f-f-friends.” Miss Paget was furious.

“Very well,” she retorted, “I shall recommend to the school that you only sit four exams, including music, and your parents will have to pay the entrance fee for the others.This will be doubled as I am not recommending them.”

When Lucy told her mother this after school that day the poor girl got a terrible shock. Her mother had to say, “Darling we didn’t want to worry you in such an important year, but daddy’s firm has had a lot of financial problems recently and had to lay off several of the staff, so he took a drop in salary in order to help out. If we have to pay so much for your exam fees we’ll have to cut your piano lessons to the occasional one now and then, not two a week. I am dreadfully sorry.”

Lucy was almost in tears but held them back until she went up to her room to do her homework and cried her heart out. However, beneath her emotional upheaval she felt a rising determination not to give in and still went to her next lesson as her parents had already paid for the rest of that month’s piano tuition. The following evening she told her piano teacher, Miss Marshall, she had some bad news. The teacher could see Lucy was upset and thought it was the usual malicious treatment she often experienced. But Lucy’s news was a bombshell.

“M-m-m-iss M-m-marshall, I shall have t-t-to give up m-m-my lessons b-b-because my f-father can’t afford t-t-them any m-m-more.” The teacher was stunned. Lucy was one of the two best fifteen year old pupils she had ever had and she was appalled at the thought of losing her. She knew Lucy was going through an awfully difficult time and tried to cheer her up. 

“Look you’re one of my top pupils and you don’t even have a decent piano at home so can only practice at school when the music master let’s you. But I think that if I applied to the regional music society board I might be able to get you a scholarship to carry on studying with me. I’ll see what I can do. I was hoping to enter you and John Franklin for the regional musician of the year competition, with preliminary rounds each month to the end of April and the final in July. I really think you have a chance of winning the under eighteens class.

“This carries with it a scholarship for the whole of the cost of your studies through to the end of four years at a leading university or

music academy. You would need a top grade in your GCSE music exam in the summer, but I know you could get that already! You would also need the minimum grades in seven other subjects at least for a university to take you, and three A levels as well, but I hope you can manage that.”

Lucy could not believe her ears. “ M-m-m-miss if you c-c-an get m-m-me a scholarship with y-y-you, I th-th-think, I KNOW I can!” They smiled at each other as the previous pupil was finishing his practice and got up from the piano to leave. Miss Marshall introduced them. He smiled at Lucy and she blushed in confusion. Boys usually laughed at her and she did not know how to respond. He held out his hand when Miss Marshall introduced them and she shook it timidly.

“Miss Marshall tells me you’re very good.” Then he waved goodbye and added, “Hope to see you again Lucy.” She was too shy to speak, smiling as she opened her music case. He stayed back, out of sight, for ten minutes and could not believe how well Lucy played.

The following week, it was the third in September, Miss Marshall gave her the most wonderful news. She had told the music board of Lucy’s problems and how extremely good she was, so they had given her a bursary to have free lessons twice a week with Miss Marshall until the end of the summer term. Lucy and her parents were thrilled and the young girl could not wait to tell her form mistress.

“S-s-so you see, M-m-miss Paget, I w-w-will work r-r-eally hard all year t-t-to get the g-g-grades I need!” Miss Paget was not very encouraging but did at least tell Lucy she was glad she had a goal to aim at that might also get her better exam results.

And so it was, eight months later, that a very cheerful Lucy could think of nothing else but the music finals that sunny Monday of the last week of the summer term. They were scheduled for the Friday and she was filled with excitement at the prospect of a really important achievement for the first time in her very frustrating life.

Most of her friends had concentrated on working hard at their GCSE exams hoping for good enough grades to go on to the universities they wanted. The exams finished half way through that week but Lucy’s academic ability had never been better than average. She knew her chances of university in two years time were virtually nil without her piano playing, which was now recognised as outstanding for her age. Little did she know but several top musicians who had judged the earlier rounds were already talking about her as she had come first or second in every round, good enough to progress each month. Even the school’s headmaster proudly booked a seat in the hall for the finals.

The GCSE exams had been very difficult but she had finished them all and had a piece of luck with her French and Spanish.The school had told the conversation examiners about Lucy’s serious speech problems and they agreed to mark her on what she knew, understood and was obviously trying to say; not on her accent or speed of reply. Both the French and Spanish examiners told her she had done well enough to get an overall pass if her written papers were also up to the standard needed. This encouraged her enormously as had her steady progress through the music competition.

That lovely summer morning her best friend Jenny called to her across the hot school playground as they went back into class after morning break. “Hi Luce, Only a few days to go until the last round. Well you’ve made it to the last six for the whole of the region, so go for it girl!” Jenny knew how much her friend needed encouraging.

Lucy looked at her extremely pretty companion, who attracted most of the boys in their year, but there was no envy in Lucy’s reply. Quite the opposite.

“Th-th-thanks J-J-Jen. J-j-just a few b-b-butterflies,” she smiled always feeling more hopeful when Jenny was with her. So that lunch break as Jenny was chatting to Geoff, her current boyfriend, she spotted Lucy and kindly drew her into the conversation saying to him, “Lucy is in the finals of the regional music competition at the City Theatre this Friday and is very excited. She’s an outstandingly good pianist and everyone says she has a really good chance.”

To both girls surprise the tall, popular boy showed immediate interest. “Are you one of the six finalists Lucy? Wow! You must be incredibly good. A friend of mine at Redcourt school is also one of the last six, but he’ll take some beating Luce.”

Lucy was so pleased at Geoff’s interest she could not resist asking, “R-r-really Geoff. What’s h-h-his name?” Geoff was quick to add to his first remarks about his friend. “Oh  it’s John Franklin. But his big advantage is that he studies under Emily Marshall, one of the best teachers in the county. John thinks she’s terrific.” Lucy was now even more surprised.   

“G-G-eoff, she’s m-m-my teacher too!” At this news Jenny joined in with a very upbeat comment. “Well, Luce, if you know them both there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be just as good as he is, or even better. Hey, you aren’t hiding an Adonis from us are you?”  She laughed as she asked Geoff, “Is he good looking?” 

At this poor little Lucy went crimson and Geoff could see Jenny had unintentionally hit on a very soft spot in Lucy’s teenage heart. He felt a bit sorry for her. “Well, yes, he is quite good looking, Jen, but Lucy probably only sees him on and off for lessons, eh Luce?”

“Y-y-yes G-G-Geoff, though he d-d-does smile at me and s-s-seems very nice. B-b-but he’s n-n-n-not my b-b-boyfriend or anything l-l-like that.” Lucy was almost embarrassed at having to say this.

Jenny patted her friend on the shoulder and said, “Well, stop wasting time, Luce, and try to get to know him better.”

This only made poor Lucy more confused. However, Geoff cheered up both girls by looking at Jenny and saying, with a wink that Lucy could not see, “We were wondering what to do this Friday, weren’t we Jen? Why don’t we go and watch them both?” Jenny agreed at once and Lucy could hardly believe that two of her school friends wanted to listen to her playing in the

Friday night finally came round, but oddly Lucy’s thoughts for much of the week were also on one of her competitor. All year she had occasionally thought of him until Geoff’s remarks made her realise how much she had grown to like John. As the final got nearer she almost did not want him to lose, but deep down knew how much she wanted the prize, and everything that would follow from it, very definitely for herself.

In the twenty minute recitals each musician had to play a five minute compulsory piece set by the judges and two more pieces of music of their own choice. John and Lucy were the only two pianists to reach the last stage. John was the second person to perform after a female violinist. He was followed by a clarinet player and then There was a thirty minute interval during which Geoff and Jenny had to agree that John was by far the best of the first three musicians so far, when they overheard an extraordinary conversation between two women sitting behind them.

“Margery, your son’s piano playing was really outstanding. Emily Marshall teaches him doesn’t she?”

At this the lady called Margery was about to speak when Geoff muttered to Jenny, “Heavens! It’s John’s mother behind us.” And John’s mother replied to her friend,

“Thank you. Yes, and he’s also a very thoughtful boy. John found out about one of Emily’s pupils, whom he knows slightly and who is very good indeed, but who could not afford to go on paying for lessons; do you know what he did Dorothy? He asked Adrian, you’ve met my husband haven’t you? I thought so, anyway he asked his father to sponsor her. Adrian was so touched by John’s concern for the poor girl that he arranged the sponsorship with Emily and paid all her fees for the rest of the school year. Emily assured him his money would not be wasted as she was a very promising pupil.”

Jenny and Geoff just looked at each other and gasped as they settled down for the second half. The percussionist was good but the second violinist was a young boy who really was sensational. After he had given a wonderful interpretation of a Paganini caprice everyone seemed certain he would win. Finally a petrified and shy Lucy took the stage. She began with the compulsory Chopin study set by the panel and then the audience sat up as she gave a flawless performance of a technically very difficult prelude by Rachmaninov. But Lucy had always known that to win she had to finish with something nobody would expect from a sixteen year old. 

She took the risk of her life with Liszt’s sixth Hungarian rhapsody which few people in the audience thought a sixteen year old girl could physically manage at all, let alone play really brilliantly. As she almost collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the last bar the whole theatre rose to their feet applauding and in no doubt who had won the competition.

As the clapping rose to a crescendo Geoff turned round to speak to Mrs. Franklin.She saw him first. “Oh, Geoffrey, I didn’t see you there. Wasn’t that little girl amazing?” Geoff grinned broadly as he replied,

“Not nearly as amazing as your really kind hearted son, Mrs. Franklin. She’s the ‘poor little girl’ who John so very kindly asked his father to sponsor for her tuition fees. But don’t worry, Jenny and I won’t tell anyone.” The friend, Dorothy, looked delighted at Geoff’s news but, for the first time in her life, Margery Franklin was left open mouthed and speechless.

Finally, to make her night complete, Lucy stood on the stage holding her bouquet and winner’s scroll while also tightly clutching the certificate to pay all her music education expenses for the next six years. And her heart missed a beat as John turned and kissed her on each cheek whispering, “Well done Lucy. You really were terrific! I do hope this means we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other from now on.”

Anton Wills-Eve