The Switch

Dr Noel Palmer, a retired academic, 85 years of age, slightly hard of hearing and renowned for being polite and mild tempered, had banked with the same bank for over 50 years.  He was unadventurous when it came to banking, just as he was to most things, and had never  been brave enough to venture into online banking.  He was content with setting up direct debits for regular payments and writing cheques for everything else.  He found it comforting to […]

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Short story: The Shadow

He prided himself on leading an orderly life.  Stephen was a successful businessman who ran his own publishing company.  The publications were all of the self-help, ‘you can do it if you really want to’ pop psychology genre.  There were paperbacks about healthy eating, healthy exercising, healthy breathing, healthy relaxation, healthy sex and healthy brains.  The books sold well and Stephen’s company flourished.  Remarkably, Stephen, in his mid-fifties, even practised what he preached.  He rose early, grinned at himself in […]

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Short story: The Success Predictor

He felt exhilarated, confident he’d got it made.  Like a trainspotter witnessing a lovingly restored steam engine emerging from its shed, he knew perfection when he saw it. Most people would have thought that breaking free from the Institute, with its job-for-life security and badge of respectability, was a rash move.   But George Silvester, not yet 30, was never given to self-doubt.  ‘Are you quite sure you want to do this?’ the Principal asked, having just read George’s letter of […]

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Short story: The Nine Day Wonder

She had been besotted with her latest acquisition.  None of her other possessions could compete: not her jewels, not her collection of Jimmy Choo shoes, not the designer clothes and handbags in her large walk-in wardrobe − not even her new lover. Jessica had never needed to write a CV, but if she had it would have been brief:  Left school with no plans.  At age 18, joined a successful advertising agency as a general dogsbody.  Worked my way up […]

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One year and ten days

We escaped to Windsor on 13 March 2020, thus starting our own lockdown ten days before Boris told us all to ‘stay at home’.  Today is a Day of Reflection and I have decided to focus on some positives. After a year that has been tough in so many ways for millions of people, I know I run the risk of coming across as a self satisfied old git, but what the hell, that’s probably not a bad description. So, […]

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Short story: The Contest

The sandstone cliffs were increasingly unstable with large areas cordoned off.  Notices warned walkers to stay back from the edge and to keep dogs on leads.  Beneath the cliffs there used to be a sandy stretch of beach, once popular with sunbathers and fossil hunters, but gradually the beach had disappeared under unsightly heaps of carboniferous limestone. The dark grey boulders had been trucked in from quarries in the Mendip Hills and painstakingly placed on the beach by Dave and […]

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Short story: To Whom It May Concern

I hadn’t seen her for over 30 years − until last night that is.  I’m afraid her sudden reappearance after such a long absence feels, well, ominous.   Hence this note.  Just in case. I didn’t believe she’d left me at first.  I  just carried on with my life, keeping busy, trying to get it back on an even keel, expecting her to turn up sooner or later.  And now she has.  She was always secretive, never one to explain herself.  […]

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Self-isolation: Day 346

I’ve completely adapted  to being an introverted recluse, perhaps not surprising after nearly a year.  When I go out now for my permitted one hour of brisk walking I’ve not only become adept at avoiding people, I have started to relish it!  I treat people as aliens, spotting them from afar and giving them a wide berth.  This often involves striking off across a rough field or, even more perilous, stepping out into the road while the aliens saunter along […]

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Short story: The Aspen Tree

Bare trees branch forlornly Blood vessels feed a dirty cotton wool sky And smoky clouds are passing by. Maggie read the words again then, after polishing her reading glasses on her apron, she looked at the questions that followed: 1.  What does ‘branch forlornly’ convey to you? 2.  Why do you think the poet uses blood vessels as a metaphor for ‘feeding’ the sky? 3.  What do the descriptions of the sky tell you about the weather? 4.  Assume these […]

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Short story: The Obsession

He was the last person you’d suspect of having itchy fingers.  Having led a blameless life, a yellow skip outside the pub, a mile or so from the vicarage, unexpectedly unsettled him. The Reverend William Stenning, affectionately nicknamed Father Bill by his flock, was a large, rotund man, bald, in his late fifties, with a kindly face and twinkling eyes.  At a recent jumble sale, a couple of parishioners running the second-hand bookstall had showed him a picture of Friar […]

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Latest Article

Meetings, lovely meetings!

I see that meetings are getting a bad press again.  A new survey has found that nearly a million people spend half their working week in meetings and that at least a third of that time is wasted waiting for late-comers. Waiting for late-comers is crazy; it punishes the people who have taken the trouble to arrive on time and fails to inconvenience those who haven’t.   Indeed, waiting for late-comers actually trains people not to arrive on time; why bother […]

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Latest Blog

The Switch

Dr Noel Palmer, a retired academic, 85 years of age, slightly hard of hearing and renowned for being polite and mild tempered, had banked with the same bank for over 50 years.  He was unadventurous when it came to banking, just as he was to most things, and had never  been brave enough to venture into online banking.  He was content with setting up direct debits for regular payments and writing cheques for everything else.  He found it comforting to […]

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So far as other people are concerned, you are your behaviour