Bernie on statins?

Hi Bernie. I’ll get you a pint. You look shattered. Been overdoing it over Christmas?

Thanks Mike. Yeh, really done in. Must be the statins.

Statins! How come your doc’s put you on statins? You’re fit as a flea.

Oh, it wasn’t the doc. My wife gave me a bottle of statins, little blue pills, to take. A Christmas present, she said statins would perk me up. But ever since I’ve been dead tired.

Mmm! You’re sure they’re statins, these little blue pills?

Yeh, of course.

Well, since Christmas, I don’t how to put this, has your wife been a lot happier in the bedroom department?

Amazing Mike. Yes, she has. But how on earth did you know I’d bought her a new wardrobe?!


Waiting For Julie

A modern Yorkshire Tale, available on Kindle….not a happy tale perhaps, but….P.A.

Waiting For Julie

It was a Wednesday. He drove onto the short rain sodden driveway in front of his semi-detached house, switched off the car, pulled on the hand brake and just sat there. He liked his car, and he liked his house in Chapel Allerton. From getting qualified, to ending up with his own pharmacy, had taken fifteen years, fifteen years of hard graft. He felt that he’d achieved a lot and, throughout, he’d had Julie there with him, supporting him and pushing him onwards. To be fair, they had been a team, encouraging each other through difficult times. She wasn’t naturally academic but she’d now got plenty of work as a teaching assistant. He’d thought things were going well now. Minutes passed by. He got out of the car and ran to the front door.

‘What crappy weather!’ he thought, as he turned the key in the lock and went inside.

He took off his jacket, shook off the rain, and hung it up in the porch. He listened carefully. As expected, the house was totally silent. Feeling for the inside pocket, he removed two yellow tablets, walked through to the lounge and placed them on the low glass-topped coffee table in the centre of the room. He felt calm. He hadn’t expected to feel calm.

He walked through to the kitchen and got a couple of glasses and a bottle of wine from the fridge, which he placed on the coffee table alongside the two yellow pills. He then got his favourite crystal whisky glass from the display cabinet and a full bottle of malt whisky. He poured himself a double, or a treble, and slumped into his familiar arm chair. After discarding his shoes, he put his feet up on the coffee table and began to drink. After downing the glass, he picked up the remote, pressed play and settled back into the chair, eyes closed, desperate to think things through and change his mind. In the background, Schubert was trying to weave his spell. Julie should be back within an hour or so, maybe. He began piecing it all together, something he’d done over and over again in the past month.

Exactly four weeks ago he’d left work late, around eight o’clock, after doing the pharmacy books. It was no problem, Julie was on a night out with the girls, or so he thought. He’d headed through Headingley on his usual route home, when suddenly he’d ground to a halt with the road ahead blocked. Some poor sod had been knocked down – there was an ambulance, police, flashing lights, and a tragedy for some wife and kids back home. He swore to himself and turned off right, circling back to the centre of Leeds. He’d find another way but he’d be even later. As he drove slowly along a badly lit street, rain dancing on his windscreen, his face suddenly froze. About thirty yards in front of him, lit up by his own headlights, was Julie, crossing the road, with a man at her side. He slowed as he passed, panicking now. She was walking towards him, laughing, hand in hand, her eyes fixed on another man’s eyes. He drove on by, unseen. That night he lay beside her in bed, desperate to say something, but saying nothing. He hardly slept, replaying the images in his head. Had he been mistaken? Was it just someone who looked like her? It was raining, the windscreen wipers, he could be wrong. No, he was certain.

Next morning, at breakfast, he asked:

‘How did the night out with the girls go? Where did you get to?’

‘Just a few drinks in the White Hart, but a good catch up,’ came the instant reply.

‘And a taxi home?’ he added.

‘Yes,’ she replied. Then, there was silence.

It was getting dark now in the lounge but he couldn’t be bothered to get out of the chair and switch on the light. He poured another whisky.

Over the last eighteen months their perfect relationship had lost its perfection. He’d known it and he knew Julie did too. Deep down he realised he should have seen this coming. For years now he’d had to work so hard to make the money, to keep the pharmacy going. It was only a small chemist’s and more and more people were getting what they needed from the big stores in the town centre. But then he’d got lucky. A local GP practice manager had rung him three months ago, frustrated at having to deal with huge numbers of repeat prescriptions at her surgery. So, she set up an online prescription service with his pharmacy as the named supplier. Suddenly, the books looked like balancing. But the damage had been done, he and Julie had had too little time for each other for too long. He’d hoped it was just a temporary marital glitch, but after that rainy night he’d started to piece things together, unexplained stuff, stuff that made him question. He talked to friends about Julie and nights out and trips to the cinema. He got back worried looks and a lot of silence.

And then, last Friday, he’d left work an hour early and parked his car away from the house. Julie was getting a taxi to the station at five o’clock. She was going to stay with her sister in Lincoln for the weekend. The taxi arrived on time. He followed it into town. It stopped only a few hundred yards from the station and, as she got out of the taxi, he felt relieved. As the taxi pulled away, Julie crossed the road and got into another car. He felt sick to the stomach.

It was almost as if he were entering a fantasy world. He was no private detective and yet he was actually following his wife in another man’s car. Surprisingly, this seemed so easy. The car headed out of Leeds on the York road and, forty minutes later, he found himself stopping at the entrance to a long drive leading to a discreet country hotel. He waited for five minutes and then drove along the drive into the hotel car park, where he found the car he’d followed. He was upset and had no idea what to do next. He sat there letting the minutes pass. Images of his wife in the hotel bedroom with this unknown man invaded his brain. He got out of his car and threw up. There would be no rage, no confrontation. He got back in the car and went home.

That evening he phoned Julie’s sister. No-one answered. He sat in his armchair, awake all night, constantly talking to himself. His world had fallen apart, his hopes, his dreams, his future. He spent the weekend just thinking about what to do, his head feeling as though it would explode, no matter what pills he took or how many whiskies he drank. Julie walked back into the house on the Sunday evening, telling him all the latest news about her sister, and looking happy. The anger inside him began to formulate a plan.

Monday and Tuesday had passed as if normal. And now it was Wednesday and he refilled his empty glass with the little whisky that remained. With great effort, he got to his feet, went through to the kitchen and tossed the bottle in the bin. He returned to the living room and settled back in his chair. He stared at the clock. It was time. He opened the screw top wine bottle and poured two glasses of red wine. He then dropped a yellow pill into each glass and watched them slowly dissolve.

Fifteen minutes later he heard the front door. He took a deep breath.

The living room door opened and light flooded in.

‘Fallen asleep dear?’ she asked.

Julie smiled nervously, walked over to him, bent down and kissed him on the lips. He saw that her mascara was smudged and that she was shaking. She had been crying and she had been crying a lot. She saw the two glasses on the coffee table.

‘A glass of Merlot, how lovely. To us darling.’

She lifted a glass and put it to her lips.

‘No!’ he exclaimed. ‘No, they’ll be stale by now. I poured them ages ago. Let’s have a bottle of bubbly. We’ve got something to celebrate. I’ve done the books and we’re in profit. Good profit. Things are going to be fine.’

He snatched her glass, picked up his own and walked slowly through to the kitchen.

Julie stood alone in the living room and began to sob.

Tribute to the soldier


From his shallow dug foxhole binoculars straining
White snow devouring the blackness of the forest
The soldier stares ahead at his deathly foe
Movement among the trees I’m sure
One hundred yards away no more

Meanwhile the hooded crow fixes his eyes upon the plight
Observing this war from his perch on high
He has no fear of the machine gun rat-a-tat
Has no part to play in the death of men
His black feathers sheltering him from the icy winter blasts

Bitter cold fingers grip the torn and tattered text
Words of consolation – scripture bound in leather
The soldier glances to the left and to the right of him
Movement among the trees I’m sure
One hundred yards away no more

And then – no light nor sound the day is past
Sleep in treacherous night it must not come
The soldier bites his lip to fend off Morpheus
But he sleeps he dreams he wakes the morning is here
All around is silence – no spectres looming amongst the trees

Hark the herald he hears the boyish tones drift by in foggy breath
The Christmas carol sung in thanks
The soldier stares skyward into the December sunlight
While the black crow shivers and shakes and flies away
He has seen enough of war

This poem is dedicated to all who have fought for freedom, wherever they come from, whatever their faith, whatever their time. P.A.

Morning walk in Sherwood Forest….photos

Well, I didn’t spot Robin Hood, but robins, nuthatches, great tits, tree creeper, etc. It was so quiet that I could hear the birds’ wings fluttering when they flew from nearby branches. What a marvellous place! The ‘great oak’ is over a thousand years old but there are so many spooky blasted oaks to enjoy.

Try self-publishing

I worried about self-publishing but finally had a go, over the last 12 months producing six e-books and five paperbacks through Amazon. Their software is fine. No, I don’t expect to make money. That’s not the point. It’s been about self-discovery and trying to be creative. And a feeling of self-worth!

Pen y Ghent (memoir)

When I was ten years old I had three or four A4 sized quiz books that I particularly enjoyed. Each had twenty or so pages on which there were twenty questions on history, geography, science, famous people, books, etc. I tried very hard to learn all the answers and, to this day, retain an inordinate number of trivial but often interesting facts in my head, for no good reason.

In one book, on one page, there were questions on geography, including, at the bottom, ink pen sketches of three mountains. One was Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 29000 feet. Another had a strange but distinctive shape that fascinated me. It was named on the answers page as Pen y Ghent, a most peculiar name indeed. I grew up knowing that Pen y Ghent was ‘merely’ a hill in Yorkshire, approximately 2300 feet in height, one of the famous Three Peaks. I vowed that I would climb it one day.

This Christmas my daughter gave me a magnificent present, a weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales. And so, fifty years after my Mum buying me that quiz book, and two days ago, I finally climbed Pen y Ghent in glorious winter sunshine with marvellous views. What a fabulous place!

About Shortstorynorth So Far

I would like to write bits and pieces and see where it takes me. And see what others think. A scary thought really. Is a writer in control or does the blank page dictate what appears next? Let us see.

(June 2013)

Having tried to write for the past nine months perhaps I understand a little more.
I started to write a book but was defeated by its complexity and its lack of dynamic.
I wrote short stories that gave me some satisfaction in their completeness and shall persist when ideas come to me.
And, to my surprise, I felt compelled to try to write poetry.
The poems, be they good, bad or indifferent, often disturb me with their darkness but I shall continue to try, even though I find their writing overly intense.

(March 2014)

I have continued to write poems, reflecting what I do and think about, but also influenced by the news we are bombarded with every day. Media moves from crisis to crisis and horrors disappear from our view when its attention span takes it elsewhere. How well informed are we?

Below is a recent poem, with its original title. Its context, I hope, is obvious. I listen to politicians. BUT….if you live in a democracy….

Legality without morality is not acceptable!

Judgement of Solo Man

On the first day
One of my enemy was standing at the cliff edge
In his left hand he held a small child
In his right hand he held a gun pointing at me about to shoot
I shot my enemy
Both fell to their deaths

On the second day
Two of my enemy were standing at the cliff edge
In their left hands they each held a small child
In their right they held a gun
I shot them both
Enemy and children fell to their deaths

On the third day, fourth day, fifth and sixth days….

On the seventh day
I feared for my soul
I lowered my gun
The children played in the streets

(August 2014)

I am feeling tired and shall take stock a while.

(March 2015)

And then the UK election campaign arrived and I became irritated and started blogging again.

(April 2015)

Well, just over three years of blogging now. About a dozen short stories that I’ve very much enjoyed writing, but only when an idea comes along, and some comedic satirical stuff based around alter egos Mike and Bernie down the pub. Meanwhile, I’ve continued in my attempts to write poetry, compelled by contemporary events or by my own experiences, or thoughts on life, love, death and God. Enjoyable but disturbing. And recently I’ve tried to identify my ‘favourite’ 40 poems, those that I think better of, with a view to perhaps e-publishing. In truth, though, all this writing has been mainly, selfishly, for myself, perhaps to understand me a little better after all these years.

(September 2016)

So, four years of writing have gone by. In the last year I’ve spent a great deal of time e-publishing my poems, 71 in total I think, as 4 Kindle books. I also produced a Kindle version of my short stories, subtitled Yorkshire Tales, and finally ‘completed’ an e-book of my comedic satire blog on university life, reflecting my experiences and views emanating from my career as a university lecturer. Cathartic and fun I hope. Pleasingly, the foregoing has resulted in 3 poetry paperbacks and 2 fiction paperbacks. For anyone interested in doing this, I’d recommend it. The Amazon software is relatively straightforward and you have total creative control. It’s fun to create the front covers for instance. Overall, I’ve found it very rewarding. It’s given me a feeling of creative self-worth!

(July 2017)