Enriching Ollie’s Walks

At this time of year when so many people are on holiday, it is not so easy for Ollie to come across many of his regular doggy pals when we are out walking. So it is up to me to try to do something to make his long walks in the heat more enjoyable.

One word he learned a long time ago is ‘Hiding’. He usually checks out regular spots where he has seen cats or squirrels in the past, and when he is upset that they are not there, I generally say that they are ‘hiding’. I adopt a hushed tone when saying the word, and imply that he might have to find them. This makes him rush around looking for whatever he was expecting to find.

This not only gives him more exercise, it also provides him with some sense of purpose to his walks, besides sniffing and marking.

The recent hot and humid weather has made Ollie reluctant to do much. He has been lagging behind me, and spending too much time just standing in the river. So when we got over onto Hoe Rough today, I took him to the spot where he had last seen a deer, and pointed into the undergrowth. I hissed ‘hiding’, and off he went, understanding completely what I was on about. For a good fifteen minutes, he scanned up and down looking for the non-existent hiding animals.

When he returned looking hot and bothered, I let him go down into the river, to cool off.

The things we do for our pets…

Just Been Watching…(104)

A Most Violent Year (2014)
***No spoilers***

I was late to this film, as usual. I watched it on Netflix, but it is widely available, including on DVD.

In my opinion, Oscar Isaac is one of the finest modern actors. He seems to me to have inherited the mantle of the younger Pacino and De Niro. Yet he doesn’t appear to be a ‘big league’ star, something that continues to surprise me. He takes the lead in this crime thriller, set in 1981, in New York. Perfectly cast as shady businessman, Abel Morales, who is not averse to bending the rules or going along with some corruption, in an effort to expand his oil delivery business.

After negotiating a deal to buy some riverside land containing an old oil depot, he must come up with a small fortune within a few days. It’s a gamble, but one that can make him very rich, by allowing him to dominate the oil delivery market in and around New York City. He is helped by his loyal and devoted wife, Anna, (Jessica Chastain) and his world-weary lawyer, Andrew. (Albert Brooks)

But things start badly. Someone is hijacking his trucks as they make deliveries in the city. Expensive oil is going missing, and Morales suspects his competitors are behind the thefts. He is also being hounded by an ambitious District Attorney (David Oyelowo) who is threatening him with charges of fraud, and tax evasion. Life is far from easy for Abel, and he has just moved into a new luxury house too.

Ably supported by his wife, Morales determines to find out what is going on. One by one, he investigates the dealings of his competitors, and has a lucky break when he is able to stop one of his trucks being hijacked. With less than three days to complete the biggest deal of his life, he throws everything into solving the problem of coming up with the money needed.

Despite not relying on set-piece action, this film manages to keep a tension and edginess throughout. Chastain doesn’t have too much to do as the wife, but when she is involved, she acts with her usual accomplished style. A remarkably restrained Albert Brooks impresses as the lawyer close to the edge of legality, and smaller parts are all very convincing, from a believable cast.

But yet again, this is Isaac’s film. He dominates it from start to finish, and I found myself watching his every expression and nuance throughout. This is an intelligent film, with a great script, and one that never relies on flashy scenes or shoot-outs to drive the plot.

This is what good crime thrillers should be like.

The Bright Pupil

A longer than usual story, (5,600 words) from 2014. This generated some welcome debate in the comments at the time, so I am interested to discover what new followers might make of it.


This is a fictional story. I haven’t published any for some time, and thought I would try again. It is rather long, and may take some time to get through. For the benefit of readers outside the UK, Reading is a large town, situated 45 miles west of London. It is pronounced Redd-ing, not Reed-ing.

Graham rummaged in his pockets for something to use to scrape the windscreen. He had been surprised by the frost, as it hadn’t seemed that cold last night, and it was not something you expected in April. Even as he showered, then had a hurried breakfast of tea and toast, the thought that it might have been cold out didn’t even enter his head. He found an old library card inside his wallet, a remnant of a former life. The briefcase and pile of workbooks had to be delicately balanced on the roof as he…

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Margot and the Mirror Man

More fiction, from 2015. Most people who were following before then have read this one.


This is a short story of almost 1900 words. It is fictional.

Margot had made it back to her tiny flat with less stress than was usual for her. Walking from home to the shop avoiding every reflective surface was not as easy as you might think. Shop windows, bus and car windscreens, even the polished plastic on some hoardings, any of these could supply a sufficient reflection. She no didn’t hear the sniggering, or see the smirks about her dishevelled appearance. Decades without the use of a mirror meant that any vanity about her looks had ceased to concern her. She placed the ready meal in the microwave, the glass door of which was obscured by the tape she had applied when she first arrived. When the sound of a bell indicated that her dinner was ready, she put the hot container on a tray, picked up a…

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A Sporting Life

Another short story from 2015, reblogged for anyone who hasn’t seen it.


Another fictional post, a short story.

Sunday mornings were always dull, as far as Dennis was concerned. Dad read the paper, mum spent all day in the kitchen, and if the weather was bad, Dennis spent most of the time in his small room, reading books or comics. Today was bright though, and he decided to head over to the park later, and see who was about. His sister walked behind the sofa, playfully slapping the back of his head as she passed. He hated that. She always did it, every time. He had thought about ways to stop her; maybe he could glue drawing pins inside his hair, so that they pierced her hand, or how about razor blades? They could be hidden, and they would slice open her fingers as she made contact. He had to rule out these fanciful ideas though. For one thing, he didn’t know…

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Good company

Another reblog for new followers. This one is from 2016, and almost everyone else has read it, I think.


This is a work of fiction. A short story of less than 1000 words.

Karen walked over to his desk. Waiting for him to log off the terminal, she tried again.
“Some of us are going to the new burger place for a meal and drinks after work. Do you fancy it, Nigel?” He looked up at her, his black hair and unusual green eyes making her feel like they always did. “Sorry, no can do. I have company for dinner this evening. I am cooking a meal for two friends. Maybe some other time.” This was the third time she had suggested he join them. Once for a trip to the cinema, and another time for a riverboat party.

Karen sighed, resigned to never getting any personal time with her handsome colleague. “Never mind. If you need someone to make it four for dinner though, I’m available.” She stepped…

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Another reblogged short story, from 2015. Many of you have read this, so it is mainly for followers since that date.


Another short story, all fictional. This is just less than 1700 words.

Rebecca and Gregory had been together since they met at university. There had never been anyone else for either of them, after that first date. It was unusual enough to be studying microbiology with a speciality in bacteriology, and difficult to get to know many others with the same interests. To meet your soul mate on the same course was really beating the odds.

Rebecca could never have been described as attractive, at least during the era that gave us The Beatles, the mini-skirt, and Jean Shrimpton. Gregory was a fan of Trad Jazz, and she liked classical, so neither of them were in the least bothered about the craze for pop music. They were interested in what happened to microbes and bacteria in different situations, and how they caused epidemics, pandemics, infections, and disease. The love for…

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