Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Friday, 28 May 2010

#FridayFlash: Constructive Criticism

The Pixies are taking a break this week owing to my having spent much of the past few days hanging around doctors' waiting rooms (and no, not for the purpose of indulging my penchant for ancient magazines!). They will return soon, but in the meantime...


I bumped into an old friend last week, and over a cup of tea happened to mention my writing.

'Oh, you've become a writer now?' she asked dismissively, 'When did that happen?'

I know I hadn't seen her for a while, but she made it sound as though I'd been in for major surgery, or had grown an extra head or something. I don't know what annoyed her more, that I'd started writing, or that I hadn't told her; she never had the courage to try, you see.

'Well don't expect much from it,' she continued. 'There are thousands of people out there who think they're God's gift to literature, most of them starving in garrets, or wherever writers, err...'

'Write?' I ventured.

'You'll never make any money at it,' she called after me as I went to put the kettle on for a second cup.

She stopped criticising after her second cup of tea, which might have something to do with what I slipped into it.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a new chapter of my novel to write, The Life and Times of a Tea-Drinking Serial Killer won't write itself. That's only a working title, if you can think of a better one, I'm open to constructive criticism; you're welcome to pop round, we can discuss it over a nice cup of tea.


Friday, 21 May 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #10: Professional Services.

I'm trying something a little different this week by attempting to incorporate dialect into my writing. It's not something I've tried before, so please let me know what you think, and now, without further delay, on with the story...

As the last of the refugees trudged down the stairs into the space beneath the basement of Goddess Rising, Master Botchett nudged his wife.

'I think we're going to need more pease pudding, pet.'

'Alright, bonny lad, I've only got one pair of hands,' she glanced over her shoulder at the arriving Pixies, 'Oh, look at the state of them, and those poor bairns.' She returned to stirring the cooking pot vigorously.

Catching sight of Swazzle and Pogmorton, Botchett called to them through a gap in the curtains that separated his living quarters from the rest of the basement.

'Howay in lads, and take the weight off your feet.'

Swazzle and Pogmorton collapsed wearily into chairs beside the range where Mistress Botchett stirred her pot. A long scrubbed oak table occupied much of the space, groaning under the weight of platters of sausages, dishes of pease pudding and piles of flat breads. Swazzle's stomach growled noisily.

'Hungry?' Botchett regarded the two Pixies, 'Of course you are. Here,' he added, loading two plates with food, 'get that down you then you can give me all the news, like.'

As Swazzle and Pogmorton began to devour their meals, Botchett took out a bottle from the dresser and poured them each a large measure of dandelion whisky. He pushed the horn cups over to them.

'This'll put hairs on your chest!'

Pogmorton spluttered as the yellow, fiery liquid hit his stomach, his eyes rolling right round in their sockets.

'By the gods!' he coughed, 'that's powerful stuff.'

'Aye, it is that, bonny lad,' chuckled Botchett, 'Made by my own fair hand an' all.'

Swazzle looked suspiciously at his glass before taking a tentative sip.

'Gawd!' he mumbled, 'My lips have gone numb. What do you put in this stuff?'

Botchett merely tapped the side of his nose and winked.

'So, Cap'n Pogmorton, what news from the front?'

Pausing for a moment to marshal his thoughts, Pogmorton related how the Wyrm had all but destroyed the Pixie kingdom and how it seemed hell-bent on going after the fairy castle next.

'Aye, well, it would do,' remarked Botchett.

Swazzle and Pogmorton looked puzzled.

'It would do, seeing as it was them fairies what imprisoned it in the first place, like,' Botchett pulled out a small clay pipe, lit it with a taper from the range and sucked greedily till it was well alight. Clouds of noxious smoke billowed upwards, making Swazzle's and Pogmorton's eyes water. Mistress Botchett appeared immune to the effects of her husband's pipe.

'That was hundreds of years ago, mind,' Botchett gestured with his pipe, 'I was only a bairn at the time, but I remember Grandpa telling me all about it. Seems the fairies did a deal with the Night Packers, summat that stopped the Wyrms seeing in the dark, and managed to bind the whole lot of 'em.'

'Grandpa was there,' he continued, 'got himself talked into helping catch 'em. Regretted it bitterly like, when he saw what happened,' Botchett took a long draw of his pipe, 'He was never the same afterwards. Here,' he pulled a battered journal from a dresser shelf, 'it's all in here, if you can read the writing. My eyes aren't what they were, bonny lad, but you're welcome to have a look if you want.'

Swazzle took the journal. The leather binding was scuffed and ancient, but the crest on the front cover remained just about legible, “L. Botchett and Sons, Purveyors of Worm Handling Services, est. 994 AD. A Chronicle,” he read.

'Gnome Worm Handlers?!' Swazzle exclaimed.

'Why aye man,' replied Botchett, puffing his chest out, 'I come from a long line of gnome worm handlers, bonny lad. In fact, what I don't know about wrangling worms, isn't worth knowing, not,' he paused thoughtfully, 'not that there's much call for it nowadays, like.'

Swazzle and Pogmorton exchanged glances.

'Are you thinking,' began Swazzle.

'Certainly am,' said Pogmorton trying to contain his excitement. 'I don't suppose,' he continued.

'That I'd give you a hand to sort out your current worm trouble, like?' chuckled Botchett, 'Bonny lad, I thought you'd never ask. Mother,' he called to his wife, 'Where's me worm catching gear?'

'Under the stairs, love,' she called back, dumping a large pile of pease pudding into a serving dish. 'Eee pet, you will be careful, won't you? You're not as young as you used to be.'

'Aah, hadaway, man woman, I'll be careful. It'll take more an' a Worm to do me in. You stop here and mind the bairns, pet.'

He turned to Swazzle and Pogmorton, 'Gizz a minute to get me kit sorted out lads and I'll meet you upstairs,' and with that, Botchett dived into the shadows under the stairs and began rummaging about.

* * *

When Botchett appeared at the top of the stairs, Swazzle and Pogmorton were just bidding farewell to Jamieson, the house spirit. Botchett staggered up the last couple of steps, straining under the weight of a huge leather backpack that rose a good foot above his head, and from which swung all manner of nefarious looking objects. Scurrying at his heels, on a lead fashioned from a piece of string, was what looked to Pogmorton very much like a large shrew, its long snout constantly wiggling as it scented the air. Botchett caught Pogmorton's gaze.

'Delilah,' he gestured towards the shrew, 'Best Worm hound in three counties.'

'Evenin' Master Jamieson,' Botchett tugged at his cap.

'Master Botchett,' nodded Jamieson, 'Jist keep yon shrew away frae me, ye ken wha' happened the last time?'

'Aye, aye I do,' said Botchett, tucking a white scarf down the inside of his tweed jacket, 'Sorry about that, bonny lad,' he mumbled before turning his attention to the waiting Pixies.

'Ready then?' Botchett asked and, when Swazzle and Pogmorton nodded he added, 'Well, howay lads, let's gan an' see about this Worm of yours,' and with that, he pulled open the front door and stepped out into the night.'


Sunday, 16 May 2010

Future; Nostalgic Birthday Giveaway - We Have a Winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the Giveaway and/or ReTweeted it on Twitter, I really do appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from you all, along with the lovely comments. There can only be one winner however, so I've been over to and here are the results:

Congratulations go to Carrie:

who said:

Carrie, you now have one week to contact me by email (via my Contact page) with your mailing address so I can get the goodie-bag off to you. Should I not have heard from you by midnight on Sunday, May 23rd, I will re-draw from the remaining comments.


Friday, 14 May 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #9: Something Slithering This Way Comes

Gazing out at the cold grey dawn from an open window high in one of the fairy castle's towers, Titania sighed as her attendants dressed her, primping and preening her hair and wings. When one of them accidentally jabbed into her scalp with a jewelled hairpin, she backhanded the unfortunate fairy clear across the room before returning her attention to the smoke rising over the distant forest canopy; the Wyrm was at work.

It was at times like these, few as they may be, that she would really value the counsel of her consort, but where was Oberon? Drinking and whoring no doubt, Titania thought distastefully, certainly not here in attendance upon her, where he ought to be.

She had slept only fitfully, being woken frequently by her advisers with reports of the Wyrm's progress towards her kingdom. Most of the Pixie realm had been laid waste, and it was only a matter of time they felt, before the fell beast turned its attention toward her subjects. Border defences had been strengthened, all leave had been cancelled, there was nothing more Titania could do until the Wrym showed its hand. The UCF had been despatched to retrieve the Book, even in such dire circumstances she had made that a priority.

* * *

The Wyrm lowered its scaly head and sniffed the burrow opening. Pixies, it thought, recognising the familiar scent as it sent a jet of flame down the hole. There was no expectation of actually locating any live Pixies, the Wyrm had eaten enough of them to satiate its hunger, and it doubted if there could enough left alive to form the basis of mid-morning snack.

Smoke and embers from the Wrym's blast billowed into the dawn sky from the broken entrances of the Pixie citadel and from the many tunnels the Wyrm had dug while venting its anger. A mix of fury and pleasure coursed through its very being, fury at not being able to take its wrath out on those who had imprisoned it in the earth so long ago, and pleasure at the thought of its having finally being released from its earth-bound prison, for the first time in so many hundreds of years to stretch the kinks out of its sinuous body.

Scenting the air, the Wyrm's rage swelled even further as the faint smell of those who had caused its imprisonment drifted to it on the morning breeze. It bellowed, a deep-throated visceral roar, then rose up and dived towards the earth, burrowing quickly in the direction of the hateful aroma.

* * *

Marching directly into Oberon's chamber, Titania nearly tripped and fell over a pile of discarded nectar bottles just inside the door. Regaining her balance, she adjusted her crown and strode towards the bed, in which Oberon lay snoring, wrapped in the embrace of a young, blonde fairy. Titania grabbed the bottle from Oberon's bedside table and emptied the contents over his sleeping head.

'Wha...,' spluttered Oberon, jerking awake so suddenly he catapulted his bedmate onto the floor. Seeing the look on Titania's face, she beat a hasty retreat, wrapped only in Oberon's discarded cloak from the night before.

'Get your lazy arse out of bed!' Titania bellowed, seeing Oberon wince and clutch his head. 'The latest reports indicate the Wyrm is heading this way, so it's about time you got up, dressed, and took charge. You're not the commander of my army for the fun of it you know.'

Turning on her heel, Titania flounced out leaving Oberon sitting up in bed, rubbing his sore head and wondering how he ever let himself get talked into marrying her. As he pulled on his uniform he decided it was her legs, he'd always been a leg man.

Oberon reached the throne room just as a courier was reporting the Wyrm had been sighted heading towards the Fairy Kingdom's eastern border. Oberon belched loudly and all eyes in the room fixed him with steely gazes.

'We could, err...' he began.

'What?' snapped Titania.

'We could,' Oberon shuffled his feet, 'We could empty the camps and put the prisoners between us and the Wyrm.' He looked expectantly at Titania. 'That ought to buy us some time to get properly organised.'

Titania thought for a moment, then turned to a small group of officers waiting nervously in the corner of the throne room, trying to all intents and purposes to hide behind a single broad-leaved pot plant. Crooking her finger towards them, Titania called them forward.

'Proceed at once to the camps and give the order for the prisoners to be transported to our eastern border. They are to be held there awaiting further instructions.'

The officers made rapidly for the door.

'Wait a moment,' Titania commanded, 'Not the Gnomes. They stay. Anyway,' she added, 'I've always been quite fond of Gnomes, and we're going to have to fund this war somehow.'

The officers ran for the door.


Monday, 10 May 2010

Happy Birthday Future; Nostalgic!

How did that happen? It's not like me to forget a birthday, let alone the first anniversary of my own blog. *Hangs head in shame* The eagle-eyed among you will no doubt have noticed that Future; Nostalgic celebrated its first birthday on 6th May, 2009 but, I hear you ask, where was I during the festivities?

Well, the truth of the matter is that I was up to my armpits wrangling software onto a new laptop and completely lost track of the time, or the day come to that! You will also have noticed there has been a dearth of posts over here lately, apart from my #FridayFlash stories.

There are a number of reasons for this, most notably that we've had the builders in (and no, that's not a euphemism for something else!) to have our bathroom re-modelled, and Our Skiing Correspondent (OSC) has been in hospital for surgery on her knee.

The bathroom work took longer than expected and, whilst the end result is spot on, two weeks of building work is enough to try anybody's patience.

Our Skiing Correspondent's knee has been causing her problems for quite some time, to the point that, during our recent Slovakian trip, very little actual skiing took place. OSC's grandfather kindly paid for her to see a surgeon privately, the rest of her treatment was on the NHS.

The whole thing was a bit of a whirlwind - after OSC had seen the surgeon one Monday morning last month, an NHS MRI Scan was arranged for the following evening and she only waited a fortnight to discuss the results with the surgeon in his NHS clinic. None of us were expecting him to ask her what she was doing the following day, or for him to operate at 8.30am the day following the clinic appointment.

The surgery was, thankfully, a complete success, so much so that OSC frightened the life out of the nurses by wandering about the ward an hour or so after the operation (sans crutches for the first time in months I hasten to add); they didn't think she'd be up and about that quickly. Nor has she needed any of the large bag of drugs the hospital sent her home with. For the first time in months she's pain-free and looking forward to skiing again. Talk about a weight off all our minds.

Anyway, all of this has rather put me off my game and I have a few posts in the works now things are starting to get back to some sense of normality – there are some reviews, and the rest of our Slovakian travelogue to post for starters; apologies to those of you who've been waiting patiently to find out what we bought on our trip into town. I'll try to get these up as soon as possible.

In other news, I have received confirmation that one of my #FridayFlash stories, Twist in the Tale, has been accepted for inclusion in the 2009 Best of FridayFlash Anthology, and another story, Driftwood, got itself an Honourable Mention in Laurita Miller's recent story contest. I guess that means I can call myself a published author, right?

Also, we have finally received details of MIL's military service during World War 2, so now I can begin the somewhat mammoth task of attempting to document this turbulent period of her life. It's going to take me some time as additional research is required, but rest assured, I will post the results in due course.

And now, a Giveaway...

By way of a thank-you to all of you who've supported Future; Nostalgic through it's first year, I feel a giveaway is in order, so I've put together the following small goodie-bag of items I hope you will all enjoy:

By the way, the laptop is not included in the giveaway!

The goodie-bag contains:

1. a Fountain brand “Daisy Bundle” A5 lined notebook (256 ivory lined pages).
2. a pocket-sized Asda Executive notebook (80 sheets squared paper).
3. a Parker Jotter fountain pen (blue with one blue Parker cartridge).
4. a Staedtler triplus mobile office set (fineliner, ballpoint, 0.5mm mech pencil and highlighter all in a handy plastic carry case, which doubles as a desk stand).
5. a Maped twin tip 4 colour ballpoint multipen (blue, black, red and green 1.0mm tips).

To have a chance to win the goodie-bag, please follow these rules carefully:

1. Leave one comment on this post by midnight, GMT on Saturday, May 15. You are limited to one entry. Please feel free to link to this giveaway on your blog, or Tweet about it on Twitter; neither are required but either or both would be very much appreciated.

2. I will use the True Random Number Generator over at to pick a winner (comments will be numbered in the order in which they are received) from the comments section of this post, and will announce the winner on Sunday, May 16. [edit: I will announce the conest winner in a new post.]

3. The winner will have one week to contact me via email. Please use my Contact page.

4. Should the winner not contact me within one week, I will choose a new winner from the other entrants.

5. I will ship the goodie-bag internationally as I know Future; Nostalgic has many overseas readers and fans.

Good luck and thank-you for your support and encouragement through this past year.


Friday, 7 May 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF #8: Hangman’s Passage

Swazzle braced himself against the tunnel wall and gave the escape hatch a mighty kick. The old wood splintered outwards, replaced by a sudden blast of icy night air. Swazzle and Pogmorton scrambled quickly through the opening straight into a vision of Hades itself.

A flock of swirling fairies flew this way and that firing indiscriminately into targets on the ground while their ground troops massed to assault the Pixie positions. Pixie defenders returned fire with wands, but it seemed only a matter of time before their positions would be overwhelmed.

Creeping low along a trench, Swazzle and Pogmorton came upon a Goblin detachment that had jury-rigged a pneumatic nail gun to a sturdy video camera tripod and were sending a hail of iron nails into the inky darkness. Whether they were aiming at anything in particular, or merely attempting to get through as much ammunition as possible was not clear.

Keeping to their bellies, the Pixies crawled on past the Goblins to a small revetment. Beyond it, on a small area of flat ground, stood a huge wooden contraption over which a squad of Pixies swarmed, apparently readying it for firing. As Swazzle and Pogmorton looked on, the Pixie's commander called forward the first of another small group of Pixies which had been hiding in the shadows.

Stripped to the waist and quivering with wild-eyed excitement, the first Pixie climbed into the machine's bucket-shaped harness. A technician handed him up two wickedly sharp looking silver-bladed sickles before saluting and retreating to a safe distance. The Pixie in the bucket paused for a moment, returned the salute and, as the ground crew threw a large wooden lever to discharge the catapult, soared away into the night sky, his battle-cry hanging in the air as he sailed out of sight towards another incoming wave of fairies.

‘Mad buggers,’ muttered Pogmorton as he and Swazzle pelted across the open ground to take cover in a large patch of brambles.

After being forced back twice by the heavy fighting, Swazzle and Pogmorton finally made it to a Portal and dived through amid a hail of banshee rifle fire.

‘Where are we?’ Swazzle asked as they tumbled to a halt on rain-lashed cobbles, illuminated only by the angry orange glare of a sodium street lamp.

‘It looks like...,’ began Pogmorton, pausing to glance around, ‘It is! We’re in Hangman’s Passage.’


‘Hangman’s Passage. You know, just round the corner from Gallows Close.’

Recognition dawned on Swazzle’s face. ‘Well, wherever we are, we need to hide. I'm not convinced our exit went unobserved. Any ideas?’

‘Those bins,’ Pogmorton pointed, ‘over there.’

Swazzle and Pogmorton were just getting comfortable among the food waste from the Leisure Centre’s cafeteria when sounds of a disturbance from Hangman's Passage reached their ears. Peering over the side of the bin, just in time to see a column of Pixie women and children streaming through the portal, urged on by a familiar voice.

‘Salkeld!’ muttered Pogmorton, ‘I’d recognise that nasal whine anywhere.’

They were on the point of leaving their sanctuary to assist the refugees when the column began to scream and scatter. Three fairies swooped through the portal, firing into the column as they wheeled above the terrified Pixies. Salkeld took one of the fairies down before he was hit with a burst of banshee rifle fire that left his body twitching in the gutter.

Swazzle pulled out the banshee rifle and, balancing the muzzle against the edge of the bin, took aim.

‘Do you have any idea how to work that thing?’ Pogmorton hissed in his ear.

‘Shush! You’ll put me off. Anyway, how hard can it be?’ Swazzle replied, ‘I’ve seen them used often enough lately. You point the sharp end that way, look through this bit on the top and squeeze that little lever down there.’

Pogmorton did not look convinced as Swazzle took aim once more, squeezed the trigger and loosed off a round. The rifle’s report and the recoil surprised them both, but not as much as it surprised the fairy whose wing the bullet punched a neat hole through, causing the wing to break and fold backwards like a streaming silk scarf as she spiralled face first into the cobbles.

Pogmorton, his ears ringing, peeped over the lip of the bin while Swazzle attempted to extricate himself from the pile of spaghetti the recoil had flung him into.

The remaining fairy hurtled towards the bin and, as Swazzle was to remark upon later, the sound of banshee rifle bullets whacking into the side of a steel bin, did concentrate the mind somewhat.

Swazzle fired, and missed. And missed again as the fairy jinked this way and that to avoid the incoming fire.

‘I’m not having this,’ muttered Pogmorton, taking aim with his wand.

The fairy’s wings stuttered and stopped in mid flap as Pogmorton’s Charm turned the normally agile aerial creature into a glider, through who's forehead Swazzle put his next shot. The fairy hit the side of the bin with an almighty clang and the night felt silent once more, apart from the muffled wailing of the Pixie refugees.

Pelting across to where the refugees sheltered in the shadows, Swazzle and Pogmorton managed eventually through a combination of encouragement and cajolement to get them moving in the direction of the churchyard opposite Goddess Rising, where there was plenty of undergrowth to hide in.

They had just returned for Salkeld when a rushing sound filled their ears and a huge gout of blue flame thundered through the Portal, singeing their eyebrows.

‘There was nothing we could do,' Salkeld whispered, ''s all over. Flaarti had to release a Wyrm.’ He closed his eyes and lay still, blood pumping from a sucking chest wound.

Swazzle and Pogmorton exchanged panic-stricken glances.

‘A Wyrm,’ mumbled Swazzle, huge sadness in his voice, ‘We’re royally fucked now.’


I hope you enjoyed this story. If you'd like to read this serial from the beginning, the first installment is here.

If you've the time, please also check out my flash fiction story Driftwood, which earned itself an Honourable Mention in Laurita Miller's recent contest.

Don't forget to check out all the other great #FridayFlash stories this week, they can be found here, and please search the #FridayFlash hashtag on Twitter.

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