Filed under: Epiphany, journalism, Telling stories, Trivia | Tags: awareness, brighton, education, happiness, hove, intelligence, stupidity
Is there a cure for stupidity? If you had a million dollars to reduce stupidity where you live, how would you spend it?
I saw this on The Daily Post (Topic #331) and thought it was an excellent question. The full question asked was:Is there a cure for stupidity? If you had a million dollars to reduce stupidity where you live, how would you spend it? Stupidity is the flip side of intelligence. Anyone who has grazed the basic rules of psychology will know that there is not one definition of intelligence and the same can be said of stupidity - leading to the question: What is it? There are many different kinds: all of which can be innate, assumed or reactive (e.g. from drinking, grief, stress etc). Just because you are stupid in one way, doesn't mean you are in another. Most of us are born with the gift of oblivion or lack of understanding in some form or shape. For instance, a rocket scientist may have difficulty communicating with people on any other topic than science or a cynical lawyer could find it hard to believe in a loving, altruistic gesture from another. However, in most cases there is always a chance to raise awareness for our faults - if we can learn to collaborate and question things. If I had a million dollars to reduce stupidity in Hove, East Sussex I would concentrate on innate and reactive stupidity and spend it on creating more places for meet-up groups. Let me explain myself: Brighton & Hove is a very progressive place already. Known as the gay capital of UK, we are all about accepting you for who you are (anything goes unless your a Nazi), partying, yoga and all of the arts. These are just a few things I think of when I think of my home. However, there are too many places to socialise to drink and not enough late-night hangouts for non-drinkers. My vision is of a massive space with lots of colourful sofas and comfy armchairs, where people can come and meet up with their clubs; find new interests and friends; and learn new things. There would be a long virgin cocktail bar where people could either relax with a virgin Mary or take lessons in bottle-flaring. As discussed already, anyone can be slower than another (but not stupid) depending on the topic. So there would be mentors who you could always go to for advice. In addition, to relieve stress and increase endorphines (believe to have a powerful influence on intelligence) there would be an equally large dance studio on the second floor with exercise and meditation classes around the clock. Although we already have a great number of these (in real life) they can be expensive and at awkward times. There is no cure for stupidity. Like intelligence, humour or beauty, it is subjective. However, there is a way to enhance intelligence by making clean, vibrant living more accesible. Happy people = brighter, smarter people.
Filed under: Help Yourself, journalism, Mental Well Being, Physical Health, Trivia, Writing
When I received this award in August (would you believe) from the wonderful Chuck Allen, I had no idea what to write. The requirements of accepting the award are to reveal little known facts about yourself and then pass it on to another wonderful blogger.
To check out Chuck Allen’s random little facts click here. To find out facts about me, read on:
1. I would love to be an agony aunt
I’ve always thought I’d make a great agony aunt. After finishing my course in magazine journalism and completing some work experience at Brighton’s eco-mag Rocks, I was lucky enough to get an internship at Scarlet magazine. I hoped the experience with this leading mag in sex & relationships would get me on the route to success. However, it ended up sending me in a very different direction: creative writing.
2. Hot and steamy beginnings
My first short stories were in the genre of erotica. I didn’t attempt to write anything else until 2009. Most of my stories were for Scarlet but I also managed to get one of my stories published in a book called Ultimate Decadence – all proceeds still go to the Macmillan Fund for Breast Cancer. It was part of a sub-charity called Burlesque Against Breast Cancer.
3. Soap maker
Like @chuckallen I enjoy taking up new hobbies and on a constant mission to better myself. I believe this is a typical writer/artist thing to do because we love to experience new things and find new material. At the moment I am learning to make soap using some skills I have picked up over the years from mixing essential oils. So much fun! Next step is sculpting it.
4. Self-help lover
Whether I read the whole thing, the contests page or just the cover, I LOVE self help books. Love bettering myself and finding out new things to help others. My favourite one in the past few years have been A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, expressing the need to live in the moment. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was the first one I read (I think) but I only read half of it because it tends to say the same thing in every chapter: let women talk their stress out, let men have their space. Not much more to it.
5. Secret Cinema obsession
I suddenly get very obsessive when I go to the cinema. I like to get there early so I don’t miss any trailers. Also, I like to sit in the centre of the fifth row because of some advert I saw over 15 years ago when the actor says, “The girl in the middle of the fifth row….” – I can’t even remember why or what he says
I would like to give this award to @Helenscribbles. This will make her a versatile blog award winner THREE times!! Well done Helen. Helen’s website is filled with fascinating and unique stories. All with wonderful twists, interesting scenes and intriguing dialogue. I especially recommend her Flash Fiction and Tuesday Serials.
Right, I’m very tired – so off to bed. Hope this all makes sense. Thanks again Chuck Allen for my award.
As I haven’t been back in Friday Flash for so long, I thought I would do one of Lily Childs’ Friday predictions. The rules to this is 100 words (max) flash fiction or poetry using all of the words: Affection(ate), Mustard, Scrape.
He could see her apprehension to take him on at first. It took strenuous stretching and pushing his body, for her to believe that he could cut the mustard. Although even after years of their success together she knew how to crack the whip.
“No, No, No,” she said, simultaneously smacking the back of her hand into the other’s palm. “You scrape the barrel with these moves. Again.” He lifted her with a graceful affection that only a performer could pull off. Secretly resenting her cadence and poise exuding such excellence.
“How’s your new bike working out for you, love?” Emily hears herself say.
“Thanks, Mum. I love it – I’m using it every day. You should see me zooming through the city at full speed. Those big old buses seem like gigantic elephants and make me feel like a clever little mouse scurrying between them.””
Without looking up from peeling the carrots, Emily’s smile turns to a slight frown. “I hope you’re careful on the roads.”
“Mum, don’t be silly, of course.” She stretches her whole body out, “I just love the freedom of it. And just think, I’ll be driving next year, it’s going to be amazing.” She claps her hands together and gives off a high pitched squeal.
Still shaving vegetables, Emily giggles, “You sound like your father when he got his camera. I hope you’re getting all this, John?”
“Yes, dear.” he mumbled. Jess munches on a carrot and headed towards her father, her eyes lit up, “Dad, can I have a go?” Suddenly, she’s frozen in time.
The thick parallel lines of the pause symbol cover the left corner of the screen. Emily stands over her television, tears rolling down her face, taking everything in from the image of her beautiful daughter.
Emily takes a handkerchief from her black blazer and blows her nose, trying desperately to pull herself together. She feels the warmth of John’s hand on her shoulder as he takes her in his arms. She buries her tear soaked face in his chest, trying to muffle her bawls.
The cries stop. The couple are frozen as they comfort one another in funeral attire stood in the living room, their television behind them.
Two ad men sit in an editing suite. One sips on coffee, the other on diet coke.
“Let’s take a break, we’ve been here for hours.” He says.
“It’s been worth it, though. It’s going to be very effective” The other says.
© Vicky Bigmore 2011
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags: cash story, circulation, friday flash, money, ten pound note, tenner
The door squeaked, she turned, her lover entered, she rose to kiss Tom hello. He looked defeated, Gail expressed concern, he explained. He forgot to grab the ten pound note from the cash machine. “I hope the machine ate it back up again.” he concluded – so had the ten pound note.
As Tom had walked away, a teenager skated past and with no hesitation grabbed the tenner without stopping his zoom. Placing it in the pocket of his baggie, skater trousers, he raced along the high street until he got to the yellow door of his drug dealer. Effortlessly, Jay flipped his skateboard up, under his arm and text to alert Skinny Frank, “I’M OUTSIDE”.
Skinny unlatched the door, Jay walked in, a thick cloud of smoke swirled and puffed around his head. The smell was delicious; the chilled tones of reggae and dubstep chugged out of the speakers. Trading the goods and the cash, Frank laid the tenner on top of a pile of notes and chilled with his friend on beanbags, playing on his XBOX.
Hunger pangs followed, Jay left, Frank grabbed the money, ran out to the corner shop. The shopkeeper exchanged the note for the grub, pinned it in his till and carried on stacking. Next morning the shopkeeper paid paperboy, George. Smiling at his very first wage, he held it tight all the way home.
Putting it on the kitchen table, he stared at it in awe till he needed the loo. His mother mistook it for her own and drove off to market. For a big bag of potatoes, she handed it over to a stall minder but a strong gust of wind snatched it from her pinch.
Fluttering high above their heads, the ten pound note raced far from the woman, until caught safely in a tree. There the ten pound note rested, at dusk a magpie nipped it , soared high above the streets, and released the note into a park.
Strolling just twenty paces behind it, Gail and Tom followed the path, hand in hand. Spotting the tenner, a plump girl pushed through them, plodding up to her prize. “Look Mom,” she said in a shrill, American accent, standing in the middle of the path “Look what I found!”
© Vicky Bigmore 2011
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags: #fictionfriday #fridayflash #wirteanything #threeblindmice
“Right, I’ve checked all under the floorboards, mother, and they’re not there.” said Mr. Blockman, reaching for some cheese from their brick table. “They must have gone through the hole while we were out.”
His wife began to cry, “Oh, Alfie, they won’t last five minutes out there. They’ll either be the cat’s lunch or the piranhas’, if Mrs Higgin’s has anything to do with it. I’ve seen her chuck all sorts in that tank.”
“Well, there’s only one thing for it, Avril, my love.” Without hesitation he shot through the hole, his claws scraping on the farmer’s wife’s terracotta tiles. The kitchen was empty but a mess. Scanning the room, Alfie saw smashed plates and dented pans strewn across the ground. Looking harder, his face dropped when sprawled on the floor he saw three tails with bloody stumps. Lifting his head past the cupboards dripping in dough, the sharp corner of a carving knife reflected in his eye.
Behind him came a high pitched squeal that made Alfie spring in the air. It was Mrs. Blockman hovering in the doorway of the hole, she began to sob. “They’re gone. My darling little boys must be dead in the ground…I mean water.” She mumbled through her tears as her husband tried to compose himself.
Alfie rolled his eyes and landed his sights on something that made his back straighten and his chest puff out. “There’s still hope, Avril, look,” he said, pointing at a blood trail leading out of the kitchen, through the wide open back door.
Racing outside, their hind legs flicked through scattered straw, following the track of red ahead. Outside the paddock, they took a breath, both squinting at a bright blue lump in the distance, lying by the fallen oak tree that rested in the field. “That’s Mrs Higgin’s. She looks like she’s sleeping. What the hell is she doing?”
Inspecting the scene once they had neared the old woman, it was clear that the farmer’s wife had tripped on a large piece of flint wedged in the ground. Slowly, brave father mouse edged towards the fat, ruddy woman who lay flabby cheek squished in the mud. Trembling claw, he tapped her tummy a few times until Avril tutted loudly from her spot a few yards away. “You’re not going to find out if she’s alive like that, darling. Try her nostrils.”
Reluctantly, Mr. Blockman walked towards the human’s face and taking careful steps, placed himself infront of her nostrils. A breeze snorted out of her nose, shaking his whiskers. He backed away. “Yes, she’s alive.” he said. A chorus of squeaks sounded nearby. He scurried around the motionless body to see his little angels struggling to pull away from the dense weight of her belly.
“Dean, Frank and Bing, you’re here. Oh Dean, Frank and Bing, you’re ok. Mother, Avril, Mother, come see, come see, your boys are here. Don’t worry, my darlings, we’ll get you out.” Their Dad ran back around to a long, thick black hair protruding out of Mrs Higgin’s chin. With all his might and one sharp yank, he pulled it out. Fat, old Higgins shuddered from head to toe setting the boys free. Their parents gave a loud cheer.
Still keeping her distance, a slightly perplexed Mrs. Blockman watched as her children dizzily scampered out from Mrs Higgins and each whacked their heads on the colossal trunk of the fallen oak tree. Avril and Alfie sprinted over to their dizzy boys who were all trying to get their breath back. Dean shouted out, “Dad, is that you?”
“Of course it’s him,” said their Mum, “he’s right in front of you. What are you talking about?”
“We can’t see anything, Ma.” said Bing, “haven’t been able to since she fell on us.”
A silence passed until Alfie approached his wife and stroked the top of her head with his chin, Dean lifted himself on his hind legs and said, “Mum, Dad,” said the mouse, “Don’t be sad, it might be temporary. What we need is for you to lead us home and nurse our stumps. We can follow your voices.”
“They’re alive, April,” said Alfie, softly, “that’s all that matters.”
“Alright, boys, follow the voice of your father” said Avril, “Careful of manure, Alfie.”
© Vicky Bigmore 2011
This Friday Flash came from the Write Anything site and was:
Write a story using a nursery rhyme (Mary had a little lamb, Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill, Three Pigs etc.) as your inspiration. Write it from a secondary character’s point of view. I chose:
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?
Illuminated whizzing wheels of gold mesmerised the crowds that stood in wads of mud anticipating more. Wows and cheers from the audience coalesced into an amplified sound each time the multiple bursts of colour exploded through the sky. The display got everyone’s attention successfully except for one overwrought man and, beside him, a little girl with arms crossed holding a sulky expression of contempt.
Harry thought celebrating Guy Fawkes Night would give his daughter a chance to come out of herself; reconnect with other children and with him. But since her mother’s death she didn’t show interest in anything. Weary eyed, he looked down at his little girl, “Isn’t this great, Ems?” he said, desperately trying to fashion a smile, “Aren’t you happy we got out into this fresh air?”
“It’s too cold. I want to go home.”
“It will all be over soon. Don’t you want to see the final display?” he said.
“Is Aunty Hannah coming?”
Offering a white lie, Harry told her that his sister in law couldn’t come because she was too tired. The truth being that since his wife’s death, Hannah and Harry argued constantly over the best thing for Emily’s future. For Hannah, her niece coming to live with her in France was the most practical option. Harry wanted Emily with him but couldn’t make a decision yet, fearing he wouldn’t be able to bring her up to her full potential. Every time he even looked at Emily his head filled with anxious susurrations.
“Please, Daddy, can we go now? I want to play at home.” she whinged, the winds scrambling her hair across her face.
A riotous spark shot through the air with a shrill whistle as Harry finally threw his hat into a puddle and shouted, “For fff..floosies sake, Emily, we’re staying here till the end.”
The winds changed to reveal something worse than a strop; vulnerable little Emily staring at him with blank, confused eyes, barely holding back the trembling pools of tears. It made him feel like a big oaf for losing his temper. He went to comfort her but his welly got stuck in the mire. Before he could gain balance his foot slipped out of the overlarge rubber boot. Trying to avoid shoving it in the sludge, he fell face first into it, instead.
Ungracefully struggling to get up from the slippery gloop, he felt two little hands softly grasp his arm. His face softened when he saw Emily smiling at him, helping him up. Just managing to stand, now covered in mud, he felt a surge of lightness permeate in his chest. Smiling at his giggling daughter as he reluctantly shoved his foot back in its welly, he said, “You know, I’ve just had an idea.” He reached out to her.
Pausing for a few moments, Emily looked at his hand with a pensive gaze, before grabbing it with both of her little mittens. They bought a box of sparklers and found a space to light them up. Harry went first and wrote her name in big letters and drew cartoon pictures of dogs and old men with big noses to make her laugh.
“Look, Daddy.” She shouted, wanting to show off her own skills. An anchor of his eternal love for his wife, Emily emanated back at him. As she drew a big, bright heart midair with her sparkler, he realised she belonged with him.
© Vicky Bigmore 2011
This piece was inspired by two tweeters from the #fridayflash group: Icy Sedgwick and John Wiswell.
John recently wrote a post on Happy Endings.
And Icy Sedgwick with her photo prompt 37: light trail (photo above). All photo prompts are her own photography – you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy Icy’s prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity – the other 80% go towards her PhD fees!