Cause for celebration

The man waits with tender anticipation; his palms face down on the table. He wears a faint smile at the thought of what is to come but also at how things have come to be, the days, the years, turning everything mellow like a softening fruit.

A smell wafts in from the kitchen, interrupting his thought process. Its aroma is rich and glutinous yet it stirs his gut only modestly. This is not because it is unappealing, but because of its steady presence; a dish that has punctuated many occasions of his life like a shot of his favourite liqueur.

Voices echo out on the landing, then the front door opens and a whirlwind of bare limbs and smiling faces rushes into the hallway. The melee discard their belongings on the floor, fanning themselves against the heat and uttering gentle commands to the children hanging off their hips or clinging like ivy to their thighs.

Then they float down both sides of the table to land kisses on his cheeks. He receives them like marks of approval, a sign that he has accomplished what was required of him; as a father, a mentor and a protector.

They tell him of the trials and trivia of their day, while the children peer timidly round the table leg, murmuring for mummy to shift their attention back again. He smiles at both of these of things and takes a long drink from the glass of red wine that has been keeping him company until now. The alcohol floods his bloodstream and he feels his sense of contentment amplify.

More people arrive; husbands and cousins. They come to him with a handshake or a squeeze of the shoulder and congratulate him on his accumulated years. He avoids their eyes and politely deflects the reminder with a ‘thank you’, not wanting to be drawn inwards.

In a timely fashion, the food arrives to gasps of delight. Elbows bump and hands criss-cross one another to reach for platters of oily vegetables and glistening meats. He relishes in this ceremony, knowing that the goodness of the food is being shared amongst all who are dear to him, as it should, and always has been.

He holds this thought as the flavours, rich and comforting, sink into his belly and he savours the satisfaction as much on everyone else’s behalf as for himself.

A toast is made to his wife, the cook, and he hurriedly lifts his glass to cover up for his absent-mindedness. Her soft, green eyes dart about the table in a panic and he loves her then; always the observer, but so rarely the observed. He loves his daughters too, their sweet faces, buoyant with the promise of youth and the beginnings of family. He’s been good to them, he thinks. He’s provided. And now they are blossoming.

He tops up his glass and almost drains it again. Then he grins, forgetting what made him smile. Does it matter?

The conversation drifts around him now, detached and incoherent. Words are directed his way, but he scarcely engages in their meaning. He drinks again and the room becomes a little brighter.

Dessert arrives, and the guests tuck in just as enthusiastically as before. The dish is offered to him but he waves it away, frowning as though it is an absurd suggestion.

What cause really is there for all this celebration, he wonders, when age only brings about weariness and the inevitability of lost dreams? He looks around the table for recognition of this fact, but they are too cheerful, caught up in merriment or at least pretending to be.

The table rears up, it’s marks and callouses like reminders of the paths he’s taken and the ones that were cut short. From the depths, emerge woes he thought he had forgotten, while harsh words his father once said to him suddenly carry extraordinary weight.

He doesn’t know how long he has been sitting there until his wife speaks quietly into his ear. The guests are leaving now and he senses their vivacity funneling out of the door. He tries to say goodbye but it comes out like jumbled words uttered during sleep.

Then, he is left as he began, with only a glass to keep him company while the threads of his thoughts whirl about, too fractured and imperceptible to recall. Like the steady voice of his wife, bed becomes the only rational thing left in his head and he drags himself from the kitchen.

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Redcliffe subway wins award

Redcliffe Street underpass has won Most Intimidating Subway of the Year.
Judges visiting Bristol for this year’s National Urban Decay Awards, noted how the subway’s darkened entrance, blind corners and sunken ceiling all contributed to a sense of ‘dread and uncertainty’, making it the favourite of the category.
Local residents were thrilled with the award. Rosary Farce said ‘it’s the last place on earth I’d ever want to go, except maybe with a hatchet and chainsaw. There’s not many places you can say that about in Bristol. Well, maybe a few.”
Councillor, Tim Reid, said the community had a love-hate relationship with the subway, as in they love to hate it. “It’s long been a talking point for the local community as a place that contributes to personal safety fears and general uneasiness within the neighbourhood. It’s fantastic that this is now being recognised as something to be proud of.”
Swindon was the overall winner, however, receiving the Gritty City award for being “generally bleak all round.”

Not in this family 

Gayle held the pot to her abdomen as she stood in the middle of the front garden.

“How about here, Sophie? What do you think?”

Sophie contorted her mouth and looked down at the gravel space that was plugged with tufts of grass. Then she shrugged.

“Okay.”

“I think this is a good spot,” added Gayle. “It’ll get plenty of light.” She bent down slowly, her hands trembling a little under the weight. But she managed to set the plant down and then straighten up. Only then did she realise she had broken a sweat across her forehead.

“Mum,” uttered Jane, by her side. “You should’ve just let me…”

Gayle hissed and backhanded the air as if preventing the words from ever arriving. Jane shrunk and Gayle had to bite down on the scorn that threatened to leave her lips. Was she ever going to toughen up?

Gayle returned her attention to Sophie.

“You must remember to water it everyday, especially when it’s hot. Then, one day it will grow into a bright, yellow sunflower.”

“Say thank you, Grandma,” murmured Jane.

“Thank you,” replied Sophie, twisting on the ball of her foot and breaking into a grin.

Gayle looked at her fresh, sun-blushed face and then to the gap in her lower front teeth, which Sophie tongued habitually as if it was the source of some new and delightful flavour.

Jane smiled back, feeling satisfied. It seemed the spirit had merely skipped a generation.

“Well, it should brighten things up a bit,” said Jane, with a sigh.

Her gaze wandered upwards to the gritty facade of the new house and suddenly, Gayle wanted to tell her how it was so much more. How the flower was a symbol of hope, of a new beginning and soon, how it would be something to remember her by once the thing or things, growing inside her, took hold.

But she didn’t, of course. It wasn’t the way. Not in this family. She could only give her doe-eyed daughter a hard look as she turned to her, side on.

“Cup of tea?”

“Thought you’d never ask.”

Vanquishing evil

They gathered in a circle, their feet sinking into the muddy ground at the centre of the clearing. Overhead, clouds loomed, as if closing in to hear the passing of the judgement.

“Brethren, it is a dark day,” said Marita. “Once again, the Lord has punished us with this tempest. Do you not see the fruits of your doings? Must we keep suffering for all our sins?”

She glared at the group of wretched individuals who hung their heads as she spoke.

“Unclean we are; unclean, pitiful things. You leave me no choice. Offerings must be given, more sacrifices must be made.”

In the centre of the group, Lorna was listening dutifully. But in her chest, a weighty breath bounded about and she could hold it no longer.

“How can we have sinned?” she blurted. “Do we not do everything you ask of us?”

Marita’s arm shot out like an arrow.

“How dare you question God’s judgement?”

For a moment, Lorna faltered as all eyes turned on her. But her anguish was unabated.

“We have nothing left, can’t you see?” she replied, clutching at her ragged clothing. “Why would a just God want us to live this way, in the dirt?” This last word, she hurled, and it echoed about the clearing like a thunderclap.

Before Marita could respond, another member of the group spoke up.

“Yeah, what have we done?” said Victor from behind curtains of white, matted hair. “Everyday, I work the fields. Anything that’s harvested I share with the villagers. I’ve never taken anything for myself, only given, yet still you say I’ve sinned.”

“Behold these blasphemers,” bellowed Marita, throwing her arms wide. “They choose to go against the one true word. Tell me, brethren; what punishment should befall them before they bring about even greater sufferance?”

But now, a steady murmur was passing amongst the group as others voiced their own grievances. Marita continued to declare and gesticulate, but her commandments were drowned out as collective anger boiled over into hysteria.

With gnashing teeth and wild eyes, the mob advanced on Marita. Her screams were brief as a hail of hands and feet fell upon her body. When she no longer resisted the blows, the crowd erupted in jubilation.

Lorna danced among her fellow villagers, as they clasped each other by the arms and celebrated their actions. Despite the dark skies, she looked to them, thanking the heavens for an end to their misery.

Once the excitement had died down, the villagers looked again at the ravaged body of their former leader lying on the ground. Lorna stood with them, waiting for some sense of righteousness to emerge, a sign that justice had been served.

“We’ve done it. We’re free!” she cried, grabbing the sleeve of her nearest neighbour. But her words seemed hollow and out of place. A few others echoed her cry, but their jubilations also fell flat, like a summer fete in a rainstorm. 

Lorna let her hand fall by her side as the last whispers of joy left her. Then there was only the sound of the wind and the beating of her heart.

Are you creative?

I’ve been on the hunt for jobs lately and have found myself amused, frustrated and straight-up perplexed by a few ads I’ve come across. In particular, the controversially named ‘creative’ positions (which generally amount to advertising roles, but worded in incredibly flamboyant ways). In my view, these are an insult to genuinely creative people who produce work of artistic merit or expression. They also talk a lot of bollocks.

In response, I decided to write my own job ad. I hope it will entertain others who are in a similar position and provide some light relief from the weird (and sometimes pretentious) world of job searching.

Happy new year!


 

Hi!

Are you a creative genius with a surgical eye for detail, sickly amounts of enthusiasm, doesn’t know tired, a smile carved onto your face, leaper not a jumper, amazing at numbers and everybody’s friend, with at least 5 years experience working in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Powerpoint, Excel, felt tip pens, international politics and subterfuge?

Then you might have what it takes!

Here at Amazing Incredible, we don’t do things by half, we do them by a whole and a half!

You might also have noticed (because of your eye for detail – if you didn’t then you’re already fired) that we love to use exclamation marks! That’s because everything we do is amazing (and incredible)!

We work with the world’s top brands (even though every other company says that) to make their wildest dreams come true (we produce ads). But more than that, we strive to make sure everything we do for our clients is so eye-wateringly spectacular that they actually leave us with tears in their eyes. After all, we want people to be in love us, not just pay us.

The Good Stuff

– Free grilled quinoa on toast every morning, a pint of coffee and sourdough macaroons

– Tricycle racing around our own purpose built track on the roof (with incredible views of everything cool)

– An office orangutan to hang out with on your lunch break

– bouncy balls

– knitting

What we ask in return

  • You’ll be bold first of all, preferably have a beard, possess bombastic design skills, brave, bouncing with energy (did we mention beard?) and love other great-sounding words beginning with B!
  • You must be a team player, but also work fine on your own, be consistent yet adaptable, bleed creativity and also be hyper-numeric; in other words, an extremely conflicted individual!
  • You will literally shit ideas.

Pay

Who cares when we’re such an extraordinarily fabulous company to work for?

Benefits

10% off beard combs from John Lewis

Free Friday drinks at Wanko’s Gin and Sourdough Pizza Bar

Stupid games to play (because Google do stuff like that, don’t they?)

More coffee!

If, after reading this, you’re not feeling physically sick or experiencing the shakes, send us an email at howdypartner@ai.com telling us how you would keep the fires of creativity burning from atop the gleaming spire of our brand-building beacon.

Muriel

The grandfather clock had long since stopped, but now I missed it’s ticking.

On summer visits it had kept a stern watch over us, while we stuffed toasted cheese and biscuits into our mouths. I wondered now if it had simply been counting down towards the inevitable, a faithful minion to the God of time.

I turned my head slowly, letting my eyes fall on the pictures. As sure as her familial stories, the faces stared back; Dad at Bunesson, Muriel as a girl guide and the fallen film-star sister, beauty preserved before her marriage to alcohol.

I waited for a trembling finger to rise and the breathless stories to come. But only silence pervaded.

In her chair, the cushion sagged with an invisible weight.

For my great-aunt who passed away last month, aged 95. 

A new round of nattering

Bristol’s talking cranes are getting some new conversation in July to coincide with a summer exhibition on Children’s TV at M Shed.

Although children’s TV programmes was a more specific subject for scripts than last time, I was able to find numerous facts and catchphrases to draw from as well as details on all the objects in the exhibition.

The first draft is now ready to go. Be sure to come and listen to the whole thing from 2nd July! For now, here’s a little taster:

Jacqui: I learned a thing or two today.

Hev: Blimey, that’s a first.

Jacqui: Quiet you. Listen, back in 1947, only 15,000 households in the country owned a television. Imagine that. All those people without any Corrie or Eastenders.

Hev: I can imagine that just fine, thank you. I’m more of a documentary type. So, what changed?

Jacqui: Well, apparently lots of people went out and bought a TV just so they could watch the coronation of our Liz in ‘53.

Hev: Is that right? It was her 90th in May and all. She’s been around even longer than us!

Jacqui: Can’t beat old queenie. Anyway, after the 50’s, television came along in leaps and bounds. Nowadays, there’s catch-up, Youtube, streaming off the interweb, I can’t keep up!

Hev: Between you and me, I don’t think we need to. We’re just a pair of cranes, after all. Better off enjoying the view.