Posted on June 12, 2013.
National Stationery Week is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery. We want to get more people putting pen to paper and writing by hand more often, and spelling stationery correctly with an ‘e’! The truth is, technology has merely distracted us from the joy and importance of writing, it hasn’t replaced it. There is still something special about stationery and receiving a handwritten letter or card. To celebrate National Stationery Week, The Pen Shop invited people of all ages to indulge their creative streak by writing a short story. We are pleased to announce the winner and runners up of the age 18+ category. Winner of the Age 18+ Category Peter Gill Runner Up Entry: Barbara Shaw The Eternal Pen Friend A hush fell over the room as the amazing voice of the female soprano drifted in from the wings of the stage. It was as sparkling as ice crystals cutting through the heat of a hot summer’s day. After singing about three bars of the beautiful song she emerged from the wings of the stage gracefully, her long gown sweeping the floor. Not only was the song beautiful so was the singer – glamorously dressed in a low cut evening gown with a sparkling jewel sitting perfectly at the décolleté The single diamond moved up and down slightly as her voice rose to a crescendo. The performance was superb, lifting the audience into the heights of fantasy. The choreographer had chosen wisely – with a concentration upon perfect acoustics and using lighting so subtle in the auditorium but so bright on stage that the orchestra’s instruments shone – the saxophones looked like pure gold, the conductor’s batten like a slim-line pen yielding power and control over the huge orchestra. Her performance of the first tune was greeted rapturously by an appreciative audience and she then went on to introduce her colleague and fellow opera singer, sweeping off the stage and leaving it for him to transport the audience to the delights of his strong operatic performance. Before the interval the audience were asked to write out any requests for songs they wished to hear and to have them dedicated to loved ones, perhaps for special occasions – choosing a favourite or meaningful song. They had to write these requests on stationery provided by the Opera Company. Writing legibly and concisely, giving the name of the request, their name and the name of the person they were requesting the song for and the reason for it. The stationery was provided but not the pens. Julian aged 21 had accompanied his father to the Concert in celebration of his father’s 60th birthday – it had been Julian’s birthday present to his father. He wanted to make the evening even more special by sending in a request for his father’s favourite song. He glanced at the young lady sitting next to him, she was young, brunette and handsome with a rosy glow to her translucent complexion. She appeared to be alone, but was writing a request. She was using a slim-line silver, antique pen. His first thoughts were to ask her if he could borrow this, but looking at the elegant instrument he was hesitant. He looked behind him to see if someone had a more humble looking implement. The girl saw Julian’s anxious look and generously offered him her pen. She smiled shyly at him. He gratefully accepted her offer and meticulously wrote down the name of the song, the reason for his request, his father’s name and he signed it Julian – his son. The requests were collected from the audience and duly presented to the singers. The performers choose consensus requests for the most popular songs stated, reading out the requests. The beautiful blonde soprano swept again onto the stage – this time wearing a pale blue and silver dress which clung to her sylph like figure. She walked up to the microphone and the conductor rose his batten. The orchestra struck up and again the beautiful voice rang out. Only those members of the audience who were sitting close to the stage saw the conductor kick one of the spot lights. He had in fact detected that the light was on fire. The early flicker struggled and seemed to expire. The song continued – then suddenly like a bomb - a boom rang out –as the light exploded. The stage was engulfed in flames. Panic reigned – the musicians struggled to exit the stage. The flames fanned out – reaching the auditorium within minutes. Sprinklers sprung into action in the auditorium drenching the fleeing people, but still the flames ranged. There were people everywhere, in the isles, climbing over the seats, scrambling to leave the building as quickly as they could. Julian dragged his father without preamble to the end of the row of seats – the charming girl sitting next to Julian was gone – on the floor lay her beautiful antique pen. In the chaos Julian struggled to retrieve it as it fell onto the next level of seats and people pushed by anxious to escape what could become a raging inferno. Once outside the building – the sound of the sirens of the arriving fire engines were deafening – the crowd shocked and shaken. Julian searched anxiously for the brunette who had been sitting next to him. He held onto her pen. His father was anxious to leave the scene and escape the horrific blaze. When they arrived home, Julian looked again at the pen and realised that on it was engraved a name, the name of the owner he assumed. He felt a real need to return this beautiful and perhaps valuable pen to it’s rightful owner. He looked in the telephone directory for the name, he searched the Internet and to his delight he found the name Amanda Sarsfield as a person living in North West Manchester. He telephoned her and there began their romance. Now five years later it is Julian and Amanda’s wedding day– they will use the pen to sign the register. Runner Up Entry Kevin O´Donovan Language, truth and more...fun A hush Fell over the room as someone, a boy no doubt let out a short pert fart. Eys all rolled in various directions. Everyone gave out " it was him, not me!" look. Fortunately it wasn’t a stinky one, just letting off air in frustration. " and that’s that !" said the head to the inspector. It couldn’t have happened at a better moment. A week of being rushed off our feet, making sure most things were in order, and all we wanted was to relax. Well thanks that little person, the four year old, who made us laugh. Timing is important in comedy. They all blushed only one smiled though. I have my suspicions. In these workshop classes, anyone is suspect as , in the name of group bonding and cohesion these are mixed age and ability classes, upper age 5 lower 3. Who were the suspects? It’s always the one who you least suspect. My bet goes with Andrew. Quiet as a mouse until Christmas. All smiles and nods, on the mat. Then as if someone had put extra protein in his underpants, he just goes around whizzing like there’s no tomorrow , speech and blurbs totally out of synch with the rest of his body, he goes around the yard at playtime flailing and blurting " another goal!". He´s happy, im happy, there’s no ball or goals in sight. Don´t ever lose your imagination, children. Was it Rafaela? She’s very house proud or should I say, knows her personal space well. She gets very uppity and fidgety if someone sits 0.11111mmm within her range. She´ll get up, lurch forward arms stretched out and a grimace stretches her face downward and she starts to lose her breath, tears jerk. But no come on, Rafaela no need to scream and shout. Fart if you may and look down in dismay, that’s within acceptable behavior. Crying just because someone’s trying to get close to you in a friendly four your old way is just not on. I mean I´ve only got to look at the rewards and punishments chart and you know perfectly well what I’m talking about, ahem, Rafaela. Was it leah? I mean recently she’s been looking very super mode-lish, no bows or ribbons, just kinda "disco Barbie" look or is it " horsey Barbie" she has been showing off a lot and looks well too grown up for a four year 'old. Then she came in wearing a diamante incrusted Hannah Montana pink, long sleeved top imprinted with " who’s the boss? Hannah is!" all said though, she’s quick of the mark and knows her colours well (confuses blanco with black) and recites the alphabet beautifully. Could her polished look mask a conceited fart? The jury is out. - Why learn a language . Let’s face it we do it quite easily from 0 -6 years old. Do we remember how we learnt the past participle of the verb to do, or the importance of third person with an s on the end? Not that it matters these days when txt spk lts us omt lts o thgs spcly vwls. We did it absorbing the things around us with play and some hard knocks. We needed to survive. For me at least it’s always been the sounds of language that have interested me. From at least when we start sprouting hormones. French was like a ray of light on first thing Tuesday morning amongst the grey gritty weather, the teacher she wasn’t far off. But when she started to roll out the words. I was in a trance and nothing else mattered. I took a soft spot for her despite her wailing and screeching of class control. The sounds were enough for me to swat under my bedcovers late at night with funky little flash cards bough from WH smiths that had phrases like “je veux un lit pour deux personnes pour trois jours síl vous plait” then those eventually took me off to Disneyland Paris where I learnt to say cheesy stuff like “have a nice day” and learning all the names of the 7 dwarves in French. We were always running out of key rings, fluffy toys, mugs, pencils of simplet et joyeux . ( dopey and happy). Prof( doc) you’d see him on sale a lot discounted. Snow white would pass through the shop on times shed come over the plastic bridge hand in hand with- dopey. Pretty girls like to have fun, And that’s another thing about learning don’t be too serious about keeping it serious. Language makes us human, accents keep us humane… we can share, give, lend borrow and sometimes we tell lies, I wonder if lies exist in all human languages. There’s about 6,000. The economic reasons in the changing global climate for studying a language are useful and valid, but it’s a fading one. Communication is changing like language. Kids inspire me again, like the internet; they jitter and have moments of fine and silly gobbeldy gook. But they live and breathe they are organic and human and 3 dimensional; they grow naturally There’s no soul on the internet it’s just bits of information. I just don’t get these people. So how can they be so fun loving and slap happy then bring it all down with a nagging “ the problem here in our country is that..” are they still adjusting to new ways of thinking , do they know how to think. I’ll always be the foreigner. I’ve stopped trying to adjust. Too many people with moustaches, male and female thinking that they’re more important than what’s before them. All hot air, arm flailing in the sun, get over it, the kids do, the real ones they don’t act, they break wind and its acceptable, unregimented and ahem, free. Runner Up Entry Martin Richmond Dennis’ Demons A hush fell over the room as Dennis Pringle, entirely missing his beer mat; clattered an empty glass down on the bar! A geriatric group in the corner booth paused briefly between the wild click of their dominoes to huff in chorus. The barman briefly lifted a disgruntled brow from his newspaper propped between the ‘Dark Dungeon’ and ‘Darkest Dungeon’ beer pumps. Dennis waved a hand meekly in apology. He was having problems with a “lazy eye” that gave him pronounced double-vision when he was overtired, like now. The alcohol that coasted through his system relaxed the muscles to his right eye even further, making things visually, quite challenging. He gazed down at the two, empty glasses in front of him on the bar and decided, since he had definitely put down only one, it was time to call it a day. Although calling it a night would have been more accurate given the distinct lack of daylight lingering outside the two bay windows adjoining the two matching, etched-glass front doors. When Dennis finally managed to navigate through the correct door of “THE WICKED PIG” public house and into the street he paused to take a deep breath. The empty street swayed very slightly over vanishing patches of rain and a double row of streetlights spiked their beady, yellow eyes in reflection. Dennis fiddled with the multiple sets of buttons on his jacket and admitted defeat, deciding open was good, as it was a mild night anyway. He stepped gingerly out into the centre of the road between two sets of wavy, white lines, pausing beneath numerous streetlight halos to check his watch. Luckily it sharply beeped the hour, which helped him decide which one of the two on his wrist to focus on and realised it was midnight. He nodded to himself as if agreeing with the time and looked up to find a pair of brightly coloured figures approaching him. Both were dressed in dark red, silken costumes with floor-length, flowing capes. Large curled horns sprouted like melted stalagmites out from bushy, flowing red hair that cascaded about their skeletal shoulders. They both carried gleaming pitchforks and twitched serpent-like tails on the ground behind them. Dennis seemed quite unfazed at the strange duo. “Damn fine costume pal,” said Dennis, managing not to slur. “Was thinkin’ of hiring somethin’ like it for the Halloween do down at ‘The Wicked Pig’ next week? It was a toss-up between that or a Zombie and ‘avin’ seen yours I think I’ll plump for the demon look, or is it a devil one? “DEMON,” howled the figures in unison, in Darth Vader-like growls, that echoed fitfully down the street. “Right,” said Dennis, planting his feet even wider apart to counter the sway, “but can I sh-uggesht you lose the dodgy ginger wig, it’s a bit, Spag Bol-ish?” “IT IS MY OWN HAIR,” they screamed in anger! “Sorry pal, no offence, didn’t realise. I can see it now,” he lied, leaning forward and squinting. “Suits ya, it really does, but, can I ask, are you brothers?” “DRUNKEN, IMBECILIC FOOL, I AM THE ONLY ONE HERE!” “You sure pal, ‘cos yer mate looks an awful lot like ya?” The demonic duo rose gradually up in the air, levitating to about two feet above the road. “Nice trick,” said Dennis, obviously quite unimpressed, “but I’ve seen that David Blaine guy do it on the telly quite a few times now.” Dennis wasn’t accounting for the fact that he’d watched repeats of the same programme. “PAH, I never use mere parlour tricks,” said the demons, as they began belching out smoke and flames. The orange tongues of fire licked savagely over their faces and a column of purple smoke billowed out into the night air. “Y’know pal, said Dennis, wagging a finger, “that’s just how my indigestion gets after a curry, it fair burns me up.” “DOLT,” they squealed, and plunged their tridents simultaneously into the tarmac of the road! A crack began to split the road in two between them like a small earthquake, widening and stretching to eventually halt at the kerbs on either side. “The council won’t be too pleased with you pal! They get enough complaints as it is about the ruddy potholes and ‘ow they ‘aven’t got the money to fix ‘em.” “THE COUNCIL,” they both yelled? “Why should I be concerned over a mere council?” “You should be sunshine,” spat Dennis, “they think they’re Gods anyway and they’ll crucify you for this!” The demons, returning to the ground from their floating vantage point, seemed somewhat taken aback? “The Council of – the Gods you say? I am unafraid of mere Gods and their puny threats of punishment,” they stated, in a much more subdued, hushed tone. “I must now depart,” they said, turning swiftly. ”You mortal, are beneath my consideration!” “Ang about pal,” snapped Dennis angrily, gesturing at the crack, “what about this lot then?” The demons each raised the same eyebrow over the torn tarmac and expelled candy floss plumes of smoke from their nostrils. “An easy matter to rectify and to demonstrate to you the awesome power that I wield...” The demons gently tapped the road with their tridents and the crack suddenly came together, sealed as if by an invisible zipper. When Dennis looked up they had both vanished! “I should damn well think so,” he growled, “bloody vandals!” Dennis resumed his stagger homeward bound, but took to the brace of paths beneath the rows of street lights, being careful to avoid the double litter bins and multiple post boxes along the way. He pondered as he walked, wondering which bed he would sleep in tonight and which of his two wives would be awake to give him an earful? But first he would have to see which bus he could find to get him there? A double, double Decker perhaps?