Un-stable Art

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…When I turned the key in its lock, I could see the past in my mind’s eye—the rough cobblestones covered with straw, the horse dung, the hessian oat bags.  However, as I stepped inside, my eyes had to adjust to the here and now.  In front of me stood the bed.  It was wider than a single bed, on curvacious legs, with carved and painted curlicues on head and foot panels.  It reminded me of a sleigh…



The Adviser

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…I check on my savings account.  Zilch.  I look under the mattress.  Ditto.  I shake the old teapot.  I go through my clothes and turn out all pockets.  No miracles anywhere.  What’s to be done?  It’s no use asking an accountant, and besides, he’d only cost me more money.  To whom could I turn for advice?…



Relationships

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…He had been back and sitting in front of his fire for a fair while when the couple finally emerged out of the changing room.  Wilfred looked elegant, and Petunia looked beautiful, just like a dream couple.  How looks can be deceiving, thought the hermit.  Still, my wallet will get the fatter for it.  Hee hee.  He hummed softly, Bicker bicker couple, two is naught but trouble…



Not the Grand Prix

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…A truck driver, on his way to deliver a consignment of eggs to the greengrocer’s adjacent to the church hall, nearly had a nasty accident.  While he was listening to the Grand Prix commentary on his radio, he noticed at the very last moment that three ladies were prancing down the road in front of him, side by side, with skipping ropes.  He tooted his horn furiously and shrieked to a halt…



Mrs Bacchus at Work

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Once upon a time there was—and not for the first time either—a strong woman behind a famous man.  You will have heard of Bacchus.  Bacchus doing this, and Bacchus doing that.  Bacchus being at the centre of an orgy, Bacchus sitting on a barrel of wine, and so forth.  But have you ever heard of Mrs Bacchus, the woman behind the man?  No?  Never?  Well, I rest my case…



Lady McBean

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Once upon a time, through the thick mist that lay like porridge over the glen, an economical plume of smoke rose from the chimney of the local laird’s old family home.  Inside, with a woollen blanket over her lap due to the insufficiency of the fire, Lady McBean sat staring in front of her with a sour look on her face.  Her husband Fingal sat opposite her, knobbly bare knees as white and milky as the insipid tea they were drinking…



And Life Goes On

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…The following week, slimmer than ever before due to her restricted diet of leftovers found in the kitchen recesses, Motorola stood in the front hall, dressed in black lace, and waiting for the cabs to arrive.  Behind her, as far as her eye could see, queued a long row of assorted luggage.  ‘Shhh,’ she warned the bags, ‘no talking when we’re out and about’…



The Green Tea Party

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…Madame Chai cleared away the tray with the sodden napkin and all the tea leaf reading paraphernalia, and the moment she had placed the silver spoon back in its drawer, the tinkling of her door bell announced more business.  She turned her head towards the door and was taken aback.  Extraordinary beauty can have that effect on people…



Lateral Thinking

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…She had made a fortune selling specialty shoes to him with extremely high heels, stilettoes under the brand name of Steely Pins.  She felt, when looking out of her 37th floor window, that a building, or a woman for that matter, could never look too tall; that you had to steel yourself to get on in this world, and that height could only add to a powerful presence…



Midnight Espresso

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Once upon a time there was a knock on the door of a small coffee roastery.  Señor Alcatraz, who was just in the process of cleaning up his machinery, wiped his hands on his apron and went to see who it might be. ‘Good evening, young lady,’ he said in some astonishment at seeing a beautiful young woman with glossy black hair standing in the narrow laneway, clutching a little suitcase.  ‘What brings you to my humble establishment?’…



The Escape Artist

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…The village lay already in darkness, with only the occasional street lamp swinging in the breeze.  The silk of her skirt was rustling deliciously as she walked past houses that exuded domesticity—the end of a meal, and the preparations for an early bedtime.  Soon she was out on the open road.  Her wig was itchy, but she didn’t mind…



When I Let Go of Fear

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…Most days Anxietta’s stomach tightened inside her sleek red body suit.  She knew that seeing red all day was bad for her.  Her nerves were shot.  Her sleeping patterns were shot.  Her every waking hour felt like torture.  This was no way to live.  Deep inside her, no doubt from some ancient genetic intelligence, she knew that there must be better planets, places where things would feel peaceful…



Here Comes the Soup

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…Wendy was going to see her master for the first time.  She made herself as presentable as she could and carried the soup tureen into the dining room.  Two large burly men loomed at the table, tankards filled with wine in front of them.  Two pairs of eyes turned to appraise her. ‘What a sly little brother you are.  Got yourself a right pretty wench!’ Black Brodick leered, and pinched Wendy’s bottom…



Five Past Midnight

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…She was all the more pleased to receive this invitation to a masked ball.  Maybe Adolpho was trying to cheer her up with an outing where she could remain anonymous?  He was a thoughtful man, unlike that tyrant from across the lake.  A masked ball was the perfect cover for a self-imposed recluse who was simply pining for a night out…



Love, the Magician

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…The more she thought about her amatory plight, the less her worldly success meant to her.  She wanted to have a man in her life again, someone to laugh with, to clink glasses with—not to mention any of the other unmentionable things…



Prudence and her Dog Libido

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…‘No thank you.’  She was afraid this might be an unseemly thing to do, and besides, she did not approve of the low cut flapper dresses, which were all the fashion.  When one of the young men suggested they go for a walk under the trees along the river, Prudence replied, ‘No thank you.’  She worried that this might be even more unseemly…



Bureaucratica, Ruler of Offices

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…Bureaucratica’s never-ending ways did not make her many friends.  Her only real ally was Spider, a creature with long hairy legs who kept her company.  While she sat at her desk, selecting one of her three rubber stamps with slow deliberation, he busied himself by keeping files wrapped up in fine cobwebs.  They made a good team…



A Summer Patchwork

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…That was almost five years ago, and now, curled up on her sofa deep in the French countryside, nobody from Madeleine’s former city life knew where she was.  She’d bought this cottage for a song after her Paris escape.  She adored its air of yesteryear.  In great contrast to her existence at the helm of a thriving fashion house, she now led the simple life…



Wanted: Man with Good Sense of Humour

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…‘How perfectly awful!’  Kitty refilled her friend’s glass. ‘There, have another one.  You know, Hamish may be frightfully well informed, but he understands absolutely nothing about life.  When did you last have—ahem—you know, have a bit of fun?’…



All Wound Up

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…Dizzie Lizzie was not used to standing still.  Her body started to sway, and as she was tilting more and more sideways, she would have fallen, had not the Minstrel caught her just in the nick of time.  The town band struck up, and off they went together, waltzing alongside all the festively laid tables with the entire citizenry gawping at them in wonder…



All is Vanity

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Once upon a time there was a middle-aged woman called Martha Butterworth-Smythe who hated the thought of growing older. She lived with her husband of twenty-five years, Kevin Butterworth- Smythe, in a big house full of beautiful furnishings and carpets, paintings, artefacts and sumptuous sofas, but nothing could make Martha happy any more. Every time she walked past one of their Venetian mirrors and caught a glimpse of her own reflection, her shoulders drooped and she became very, very depressed…



My Medicinal Garden

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…The years went by.  As his bank account bulged to undreamt of proportions, so did Mr Mortar’s midriff, thanks to all the meals he had eaten at The Bull & The Boar.  Had he lived in Roman times, he would have commanded his minions to carry him out to his car in a sedan chair.  As it was, he had to walk from the front door with the brass plaque to the kerb, where Paddy opened the car door for him…