Global Warming: The British Isles

I have been on and off the fence for years, regarding Global Warming, or Climate Change, if you prefer. I am still not as fired up as some of those who write about the subject, but in recent years, I have started to credit the evidence of my own eyes, rather than to continue to read the sometimes rather hysterical reports that abound on the Internet. Some parts of eastern Norfolk are already quite literally falling into the sea. Tidal changes, raised sea levels, and erosion of soft rock are making ‘life at the edge’ no longer possible, in a few communities.

I found this image online, a gloomy prediction of the near-future for Britain and Ireland.

As you can see, Beetley is under water, along with much of eastern England. London has disappeared, and many large coastal communities no longer exist. And the prediction is that this will all have happened by the year 2100, just 81 years in the future. I am unlikely to live to see this of course, as I would be 148 years old.

But just in case medical science has managed to keep me alive that long, please don’t expect any blog posts from me that year.

Unless they have also invented underwater computers.

The Wrong Address: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth and final part of a fiction serial, in 1310 words.

When he finally regained his composure, Steve got into the car and remembered the message beep. He checked his phone, and saw it was a text from Sophie.

‘Did you like the video?’ He needed to know why she had done that, and pressed ‘Call’. There was no ringtone, just a recorded message saying that the number was no longer in use. All that was left to do was to drive home, and think up an explanation for Ellie. He would say it was about losing the bid, and not mention Sophie at all. Perhaps she might believe that a few of them had been laid off, given how important that contract had been.

Outside the house was a small rental van, parked with two of its wheels on the kerb. He drove his car into the space in front of the living room window, presuming that a neighbour must be using the van for something. Climbing wearily out of driver’s seat, he left the envelope inside, and fished the door key out of his pocket. As he walked through into the hallway, he heard voices from the living room, and one of them was Ellie’s.

They were sitting together on the sofa, and both smiled coldly as Steve walked in. He stood open-mouthed as he surveyed the scene. Sophie looked very different. Her hair was drawn up on her head, and she had almost no make-up on. The rather severe trouser suit she was wearing looked very masculine, nothing at all like her style. But it was definitely her, and she was sitting next to Ellie, holding her hand. In the middle of the room, three suitcases in assorted sizes looked packed and ready to go, and there were four or five large boxes too, all sealed down with brown parcel tape. It was Sophie who spoke first, that unmistakable voice still making him tremble, even after what had happened this morning.

“Close your mouth and sit down, Steve. You look rather foolish standing there, and we all need to have a little chat. Ellie has a story to tell you, don’t you love?”. She turned to Ellie and smiled, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. Steve dropped back into the armchair, more as if he was falling into it, than sitting down. He had a terrible taste in his mouth, and absolutely no idea what his wife was going to say. Ellie sat up straight. Without looking directly at him, she began to talk.

“Over a year ago, when you were away at that concrete seminar, or whatever it was, we had a parcel delivered here. It was for a Mr Ali, and had come to the wrong address. I think it was a toaster or something. I rang the company, and was put through to Sophie. She sorted it all out for me, and we started to chat. By the end of the call, she knew I was here alone, and that you were away with work, so suggested it might be nice to meet for a drink that evening. I said ‘Why not?’ I don’t have that many friends here, outside of work, so thought it might be nice. We hit it off straight away, and ended up going for an Italian meal”. She stopped to catch her breath, and turned to smile at Sophie. The older woman nodded encouragement, and patted her hand.

“I was left in no doubt that Sophie was very interested in me. You know, in that way. As we were walking to the taxi rank, she suggested I might like to go back to her flat, and it was obvious what she was talking about. I said I was flattered, but happily married, though it would be nice to meet up again, just as friends. She took that well, and kept in touch with me on and off. Sometimes I would meet her at the shops in town, and we would go for coffee. She carried on telling me she was interested, and I kept thanking her, and declining her offer of being a lot more than friends. Then just recently, she let me know that she had spoken to you, about another parcel. You had been nice to her, and sent a nice email. Then you started to reply to the personal emails she sent you too”. Sophie leaned forward, and took over the story.

“I told Ellie that you were flirting with me, and responding to my obvious advances. After all that time of her telling me what a faithful and loyal husband you were, I thought she should know what you were really like. I suggested that I continue, and we would see how far you were prepared to take it. If you went along with it to the inevitable conclusion, then she would know that you were no longer worth bothering about, and see sense”. Steve felt as if he should say something. But he had no idea what. Ellie reached into a bag at her side, and threw a large stack of papers onto the coffee table.
Then she started speaking again.

“Those are printouts of all the emails, Steve. And I have heard the recorded phone call, and watched most of the video that Sophie filmed all weekend, with the concealed camera in her bedroom. That was why you two never left that room, do you get it now? I had refused to believe it at first, but I couldn’t argue with the proof. You see there was no Lee, no gay bloke at work. It was always Sophie that I was going to see. She kept me updated on what you were up to, and sometimes I was in her flat as you exchanged emails. Right up to the end, I kept telling her that you would never go through with it, never betray me. But what you did last weekend was so shocking, I decided to get my own back, and ruin your career”. She finally smiled. A rather self-satisfied smile that wasn’t at all like Ellie. Then she sat back, looking relaxed now, and continued.

“So I am moving out, and going to live with Sophie. I have her to thank for showing me what my husband is really like, and I finally realise that I have wanted to be with her since that night in the restaurant. But I was loyal to you, and faithful too. Something you couldn’t manage. You can stay here for as long as you can afford to, but it will have to be sold. There isn’t much equity, given what we paid for it, and the slump in the housing market. And with no job, I doubt you will be able to afford much around here. Maybe you should move back in with your parents? I don’t really care, to be honest. I have transferred half of our joint savings into another account. There wasn’t much to start with, but you still have your half. My mail will be redirected, and I would appreciate it if you only contacted me regarding any legal matters over the house. Have you got anything to say, before we leave?”

Steve wanted to say lots of things, but they all sounded pointless, in his mind. He looked up at her, then across to Sophie, who was grinning. He said nothing, so Sophie spoke instead.

“Perhaps you would be kind enough to go upstairs and keep out of the way while we load up the van, Steve?” That voice again. Still amazing, despite what she had done.

As he walked past her to the hallway, Sophie suddenly reached out and took his hand. He looked back at her and she was shaking her head slowly. Her last words to him were softly spoken, and as seductive as ever.

“Silly boy”.

The End.

Showing your age

I saw this image online this morning. Some of the brands may not mean much to readers outside of the UK, but you get the idea.

What made me smile was that I was far from young when many of these things became popular. And it is not that long ago that I finally threw away my last VHS blank tapes.

The Wrong Address: Part Eleven

This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 1350 words.

On the short drive home that Sunday afternoon, Steve was running through a serious reappraisal of his life. The impact of the time spent with Sophie had been overwhelming. He had to admit to himself that he had told her the truth, and that he was crazy about her. He could imagine living with her in that small flat, coming home to her after work, returning to a very different life than the one he had settled into with Ellie. Sure, she might be in her forties, but so what? She was something special, a force of nature. Confident, affectionate, and so much more. He had expected to feel guilty, but he didn’t. He felt energised, excited, and ready to make some significant changes.

Ellie was upstairs in the spare room when he got home. She was ironing all her clothes for the week at work. As he looked around the door, she smiled. “How did the match go? Did you all get really drunk?” He had remembered to check the result of course. “We won. It was unexpected, but the lads were very happy. Strangely enough, nobody got that drunk, but it might have been worse if we had lost”. She nodded at the ironing board. “I will be about thirty minutes, then I will start to prepare dinner, OK?” She seemed normal, and he was sure she didn’t suspect a thing. As he turned on the landing, he remembered to ask. “How did it go with your parents? Are they OK?” Through a sudden burst of steam, she answered. “Oh, I didn’t go in the end. I just stayed here”.

Back downstairs, Steve suddenly remembered he hadn’t worn the football shirt. He took his small case into the kitchen, emptied all the clothes into the washing machine, added the powder, and turned it on. Then he walked quickly through to the living room, and switched on his laptop. There was nothing from Sophie on his emails, but as he had only left there twenty minutes earlier, that was to be expected. He waited, listening to the bursts of steam from the iron upstairs. There would be time for a quick message.

‘Dearest Sophie, I just cannot express what a wonderful time I had this weekend. As I told you, you are just fantastic, and you have changed my life around. I didn’t just say I was crazy about you, I meant it. On the way home, I was imagining us being together, full-time. What a terrific life we could have. I don’t care that you are older, and I won’t even ask your age. You have opened up my world, and it is just amazing. Let’s try to meet up soon, and have a serious chat about taking the next step. What do you think? I love you. Your Steve. XXXXX’

He had gone to the five kisses, in capitals too. Sophie couldn’t mistake his intentions, he was certain of that. He pressed ‘Send’, and logged off.

The evening was pleasant enough. Ellie cooked a nice dinner, and they watched a new drama serial on TV. She didn’t mention the football weekend again, and he didn’t ask why she hadn’t visited her parents. When she went up to bed just after ten, he kissed her goodnight, and turned down the volume on the TV, so as not to disturb her. Once he was sure she was in bed, he opened his laptop, and logged on to his emails.

Nothing. That was a surprise, as he had expected something from Sophie. Even one line, to acknowledge what he had suggested. Maybe she wasn’t online? She might well be sleeping off the excesses of their weekend together. But he wasn’t about to let it bother him, not after everything she had said to him since Friday evening. He would wait until tomorrow, she would definitely email him when she woke up.

As he pulled into the car park at work the next morning, Steve checked his phone. Still nothing, and she would have been at work by now. Oh well, a busy day ahead for both of them, no doubt. He would catch up with Sophie later.

He kept busy by going over all the previous reports and costings, in case they were needed. Just after eleven, he went to get a coffee in the staff room, and checked his phone again. Still nothing. As he left the room holding the paper cup, he was surprised to see his boss standing in the corridor. Next to him was the security guard, Thomas. “Steve, can you follow me, please. I need to speak to you in my office. Put the coffee back inside”. His tone was flat, and Steve searched for a word to describe it.

Menacing.

In the large office, nobody sat down. Thomas stood with his back to the closed door, a bored look on his face. The boss turned a large laptop around, so the screen faced Steve. As his finger hovered over one of the keys he looked up, his face pale. “I want you to watch this, and then you can explain it to me”. He pressed something, and what appeared on the screen made Steve recoil in alarm.

It was Sophie’s bedroom. He was sprawled out naked on her bed, and she was sitting on the other side, wearing that silly robe. The quality of the footage was remarkably good, and even though it was in black and white, he could see and hear every detail. An icy shiver ran up his back, as he heard himself speaking on the screen.
“Sorry about that, Sophie love. I was stressed earlier. But it wasn’t you, honestly. Just work. We have been waiting on the acceptance of some tenders for a big job. We submitted a few totalling almost fourteen million, and we have no idea what our competitors have priced the jobs at. That’s why things have been so fraught recently. Nothing to do with you at all, you’re fantastic”.

He couldn’t speak, but his boss did. “At eight this morning, our chief competitor submitted a revised tender bid of less than thirteen million pounds. It has already been accepted, and we are unable to compete with that, so no point trying to. I presume this woman, whoever she is, supplied them with the information on our bid, based on your pillow talk. They are not saying of course, claiming that they never even received this video. All those months of work down the drain, jobs at risk, and all because you wanted to impress some tart with your self-importance. What have you got to say, Steve?”

He didn’t want to say anything, fearful that he might vomit over the huge mahogany desk. It felt as if he was falling down a flight of stairs, unable to stop his descent.

“I thought as much. Don’t think I didn’t consider charges of industrial espionage, but I doubt it was the case. You were just showing off to that woman, hoping to big yourself up by boasting to her. That’s it, isn’t it?” Steve couldn’t look at him, and simply nodded. No point trying to talk it through.

“OK, you are suspended with pay, pending an official disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct. Hand your staff pass over to Thomas, and he will take you to get your personal stuff, then see you off the premises. Are you listening to me?” Steve nodded again, then followed Thomas back to his desk. The eyes of everyone else in the office were averted, as he picked up a few things and dropped them into a large envelope. They didn’t want to be associated with him. The news had already spread around the building, like a wildfire.

Fumbling with his keys next to the car, Steve dropped the envelope, and finally vomited onto the tarmac. There was hardly anything to bring up, but it left him feeling cold, and he was shivering.

As he sunk to his knees, unable to support his weight any longer, the message beep went off on his phone.

Ollie’s New Friend

It was a very bright sunny day here today, and pleasantly warm too. Ollie was keen to get out on his early afternoon walk of course, and was soon sniffing around his favouritie spots over at Beetley Meadows. I took him around a couple of circuits, and he was soon in the river, eager to cool off. A short diversion into the small woodland area didn’t leave him very satisfied, so I headed across to Hoe Rough, as he has come to expect.

Ollie enjoyed the diversion of a few excitable squirrels. They avoided his attentions, rushing up into the tops of the trees to chatter at us, telling him off. But the new sniffing grounds kept him suitably fixated, as he got the scent of something, and rushed ahead of me to follow the trail. After more than an hour of trudging around, I sat on the branch of a fallen tree for a while, enjoying watching the birds fluttering in the branches above. Ollie rolled in the nearby long grass, scratching an itch that was probably more in his imagination.

I got up to complete another circuit of the nature reserve, which took around forty-five minutes, with sniffing stops. Although on his second time round, Ollie was acting as if he had never seen the place before, and studiously marking every bush and overhanging leaf. After more than two hours, I decided to call it an day, and head home. Then I heard some shouting and whistling, about four hundred yards away. I spotted a very chunky Rottweiler dog, off its lead, and wearing a substantial harness around its body. The dog’s owner was a young man, shirtless, and calling anxiously for his dog to return to him.

Now Ollie is a very solid, medium sized dog. But that Rottweiler was well over twice his size, and didn’t appear to be under the control of its owner. So I turned left, away from any potential contact with this unknown canine, and walked around the eastern edge of Hoe Rough, keeping out of its way. After the longer circuitous route, I was rather alarmed to discover that the bigger dog and its owner had arrived near the entrance gate at the same time as us. But at least by now he had his excitable dog on its lead, though he was clearly having some difficulty dealing with its strength.

As we approached, the young man smiled, and assured me that ‘she’ was friendly. He added that she was young, and a little boisterous, but was no danger to Ollie.

My dog was soon up to her, and she was pleased to see him. Mutual sniffs were exchanged, and the large female dog seemed to take a liking to Ollie straight off. As he allowed himself to be sniffed in the most intimate areas, I concluded that her female status was agreeable to him, and as she licked his face, he appeared to be suitably impressed. I spoke to him, declaring that she was his ‘new friend’. The young man smiled, and replied, “See you again”, as he exited the gate.

Ollie gave me a strange look, and I soon realised what I had forgotten.

I hadn’t asked her name.

The Wrong Address: Part Ten

This is the tenth part of a fiction serial, in 1110 words.

Steve could hardly remember how they got from the kitchen to the bedroom. Things happened very fast. Then they slowed down, then they got very fast again. It was almost nine at night, and his stomach was rumbling. He hadn’t eaten anything since a tasteless sandwich at lunchtime, and Sophie had well and truly worn him out, with almost three hours of non-stop sexual antics.

Not that he was complaining. It had only taken him two minutes to stop caring about how much older she was, and as she had promised, she certainly looked after him, in every way imaginable.

And then in some ways he had actually never imagined.

Now she was in the kitchen, preparing what she had called ‘a snack’. He stretched out in her comfortable bed, hardly unable to credit what they had been up to so far. After all that time with Ellie, he had honestly never realised that some women could be like Sophie. He thought long and hard for the right word.

Wanton.

It had felt like she was handling him as if he was an inexperienced teenager, like he was a puppet, with her controlling his strings. Even that made him smile, as he had to admit to being a very willing puppet indeed. Although momentarily shocked by her age when he saw her in the kitchen, he was now eagerly awaiting her return to the small cosy bedroom, wondering what other delights she might have in store for him.

Sophie walked back into the bedroom, dressed in what she had laughably called her ‘dressing gown’. It was a floor-length, diaphanous see-through number, with the tightly-tied belt hardly able to contain her generous curves. Her hair was brushed, make-up tidied, and she was giving him such a wonderful smile as she placed a tray on the bed. The cheese and ham paninis tasted like the most delicious thing he had ever eaten, and she sat chatting to him as they ate them, washed down with large glasses of wine.

“So what’s the verdict, Steve darling? Are you happy with your Sophie? Didn’t I look after you, as I said I would? Judging by your reaction, I am guessing that you were pleasantly surprised, and you certainly didn’t hold back, once we got started”. The voice still sounded amazing. He could listen to that all night, of that he was sure. She nibbled daintily at the corner of the bread, waiting for him to speak.

“Honestly, I had no idea it could be like this, Sophie. I mean, I have had sex many times before of course, but now I can see I was just playing at it, going through the motions. You’re fantastic, I have to say. I didn’t even know women like you existed. I always believed they were just men’s fantasies”. His reply seemed to please her a great deal, and she even managed to look and sound a little coy.

“Why Steve, you are very kind to your Sophie. I do believe I could fall in love with you, my gorgeous man. I am so happy to see you so relaxed now, darling. You seemed so stressed and nervous earlier, when you arrived”. With her free hand, she stroked his chest as she was speaking. Steve wanted to say something nice, and make it seem that he hadn’t been worried about meeting her.

“Sorry about that, Sophie love. I was stressed earlier. But it wasn’t you, honestly. Just work. We have been waiting on the acceptance of some tenders for a big job. We submitted a few totalling almost fourteen million, and we have no idea what our competitors have priced the jobs at. That’s why things have been so fraught recently. Nothing to do with you at all, you’re fantastic”.

Her smile broadened. “Fantastic. That’s twice you’ve said that, Steve. Nobody has ever said I was fantastic before. I was worried that you might be feeling guilty about your wife. Ellie, isn’t it? Now hurry up and eat your food, I can’t wait to get back in bed with you”.

He swallowed such a big lump of the panini, that it hurt going down. “Yes, she is called Ellie. I did feel a bit guilty before I drove here this evening, that’s true. But that was before I had any clue about just how wonderful you are, and all the amazing things we have done since we kissed in the kitchen. Now I feel alright, wonderfully relaxed, and actually happy for the first time in ages. I never imagined it would turn out like this, I really didn’t”.

Nodding knowingly, she stood up, and placed the tray on the floor. One jerk of the tie cord had the black gown slipping away from her shoulders, and onto the floor. As she climbed back into bed, she stroked his face, her voice more seductive than ever. “I’m very happy too, Steve. Now let’s see if I can make you fall in love with your Sophie”.

Everything she had said had come true. The whole weekend was spent in bed. They only got up to shower, and Sophie brought snack food into the bedroom, so they didn’t have to delay their love-making for too long. On Saturday morning, Steve had asked her, “What are we going to do today?” He felt silly as he asked that, as it was not as if they could go out, and be seen together around the town. Her reply came back without hesitation. “We are going to do it all again. Then after that, we are going to do it all again. You won’t be bored, believe me. It will just get better and better”. She had been right about that, and how.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, knowing that he would have to leave later that day, they were still awake, reluctant to let sleep steal away those last hours. Sophie was cuddled up to him, her head resting on his chest, that voice purring like a contented cat. “Do you love your Sophie now, Steve? Even just a little bit perhaps? You know I love you, I have made that very clear”. As she spoke, she moved her leg up and down his body, and stroked his hard chest. Steve could hardly believe that he was getting so aroused again, after everything they had already done. He cleared his throat.

“Oh I am in love with you, Sophie. And not just a little bit. I’m crazy about you”.

She pulled herself up on him, and kissed him softly.
Her smile seemed different somehow, but that didn’t worry him.

There are times…

Are there times when you wish that you had done something different? Or times when you regret doing something that has affected you ever since? I know that both apply to me. I wonder if this will provoke thoughts or feelings in some readers? If so, please add your own examples in the comments.

There are times…when I wish that I had gone to university. I have no way of knowing if that would have made my life turn out any differently to what it is now. But I could have gone, and at the time it would have been free of charge too. I should have gone, and perhaps studied one of my passions.

There are times…when I wonder what it might have been like to have had children. Not that it is something I have ever regretted, I assure you. But I have wondered.

There are times...when I regret not going to live abroad, when I had the chance. If only for a while, as it might have been something good to look back on now, and would have undoubtedly broadened my horizons at a fertile time for my mind.

There are times…when I wish I had waited to get married, (the first time) as who knows how my life might have been different had I not spent eight years with someone who almost certainly regretted her decision.

There are times…when I miss London. After spending sixty years there, that’s understandable. But fortunately, it soon passes.

There are times…when I feel I should make more effort to keep in touch with my oldest friends. We are all getting on now, and none of us know how long we will be around.

There are times…when I wish I had developed more practical skills. I have grown up not equipped to do so many basic things, and now have to pay others to do them for me. It’s all very well being able to read Jean-Paul Sartre in French, but that wont help you fix a problem with the plumbing.

There are times...when I wish I was more organised. Surrounded by piles of paperwork, never knowing where anything is, and constantly looking for things I have lost can all become very tiring, believe me.

So there are just a few of my ‘times’. Over to you.