Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Miscanthus Triangle
Part One



For Donald it was just the short journey from Bogcragston back to Pobblestrum as he returned to pastures old.
He tentatively made a few attempts to reintegrate himself back into a life that once was by attending village fĂȘtes and so on. Some people looked exactly as they had years before, almost as if they had rotting paintings of themselves in their attics. At the same time others were totally unrecognizable, but he didn't know who they were.
Likewise, he was just another stranger in their midst. A lifetime ago the locals knew him because he was an appendage to a pillar of the community, a minister no less, albeit a spotty and obnoxious one (Donald, not the pillar). Now no longer youthful, he was an alien on his own stamping ground. For him, around every corner there were constant reminders of bygone days. For the indigenous folk of Pobblestrum, around every corner there was some greying, worried-looking bloke with a fag in his mouth who they'd never seen before and didn't care if they ever saw again.
He thought he knew the area like the back of his hand. And by road he did. The fields were another matter though. Imagining he could get some sort of grip on his many neuroses by getting himself a dog, he quickly became an indoor type with an outside life. And in doing so he rediscovered the locale by circumnavigating the dog-walking circuits and strolling the lengths and breadths of the footpaths and bridleways of the area.
Late that afternoon the sky was a diffused grey, almost as if God had replaced the sun with a low-energy version. But undaunted by the weather Donald made his way out of the village. Getting into the swing of things he tipped his cap to the odd peddler man as he headed towards his favourite walk, and his dog headed in every other direction.


What ever the weather or time of year Dolores always wore a long rain Mac and ankle socks which revealed just a little too much of her blotchy legs. She was probably completely normal in every way and maybe not in the least bit eccentric at all. But from an onlooker’s point of view it seemed strange that you’d pass her going the opposite direction on one lane and then bump into her again on another at the other end of the village. A place where, common sense would tell you, she couldn’t possibly be.
Logic-defying truths sat awkwardly in a world that thought it could explain everything but clearly couldn’t. Donald had imagined becoming one with this rural society again would mean mentally dropping down a gear or two, but not a bit of it. As he glimpsed Dolores again for the umpteenth time he concluded that it’d be easier on the brain just not to think about it. Go with the flow, he told himself, or more accurately, go with the dog, who dragged him towards Saint Ivy’s church.
Donald managed to slow his Dalmatian down a tad as he reached the, “Grimace, God loves you,” poster at the lich-gate. This pretty much marked the end of the village, beyond it only fields for a very long way.
Even beneath the dull clouds the shires retained their outstanding beauty. Miles of hedgerow criss-crossed the sweeping downlands. Thoroughfares meandered throughout the acres of landscape, snaking through glade and grove and twisting through cattle and crop. Having traversed a couple of coverts Donald reached the dirt track he’d been heading for, with more emphases on dirt than track. But for all its shortcomings this was a veritable canine highway and people brought their hounds from far and wide.
Ahead the path kinked to the right slightly and then split into two marking the east corner of the triangular field of tall Miscanthus grass.



Written and conceived by M J Race

Copyright © 2014 M J Race


All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Moving On



One dingy flat is much the same as the next and a music degree doesn’t change that. In other respects moving to the big city was an eye-opener for a country girl like Kyla, and one which she welcomed readily. Becoming a small cog in the big wheel of a professional orchestra wasn’t the most profitable career move, but it took her farther away from home and into pastures new.
She was quite reasonably nervous about her very first rehearsal with the great ensemble and arrived far too early. The hall was still fairly dark and quiet apart from the sound of an odd far-off voice or the occasional door opening or closing somewhere in the distance. Kyla lurked in the shadows hoping not to be noticed or seem too sinister if she was. It wasn’t long though before the place started filling up with people of very different appearances and smells. Instrument cases clicked open, chairs scraped over the already scratched wooden floor. Shuffling music and chatting friends all added to the decibels that began to resound across the vast rehearsal room.
Kyla tried to eavesdrop on other players’ conversations, but most were too unintelligible in the mayhem and difficult to follow all the way through. So she had to just make do with passing snippets.
Veronica, one of the oboists, with her pre-moulded hair and gargoyled face, who resembled something Goya may have painted during his dark convalescing period, was talking to her friend. “What do lighting and a cellists’ fingers have in common?” she asked with a self-satisfied grin.
Amanda, not the most charismatic violist the world had ever known, merely shrugged. She looked like the summer of her life was behind her, and judging by her expression, it had rained.
Kyla would have jumped down the throat of any man who judged women by their appearance, but as a woman herself she was doing so with sisterly bitchiness so that made it all right.
Veronica continued to answer her own question, “They never strike in the same place twice.” The one joke she ever remembered fell on deaf ears.
Kyla’s desk partner was someone she would have to at least try to get on with. Brenda seemed really nice. A bit too nice maybe. If she’d learned nothing else from school, Kyla knew that the sweeter the smile, the more venomous the smiler.
The Principal Cellist, Mary, still seemed just as encouraging as she did at the audition. Enthusiastic and hearty she gave the impression that she lived entirely on raw meat and cups of tea.
Kyla was sure they were all extremely talented musicians and wanted to be liked by them all, but with the firm proviso that she didn’t have to like them back. She also hoped that they would sound more united whilst playing than all this hullabaloo.
A thin man with thick-rimmed spectacles balanced half way down his nose strutted up to the podium and the hall fell silent. He glanced through his eyeglasses at the score in front of him, and then over the top of them to the assembled musicians. “Right,” he said quietly, “we have a lot to get through this season, and we begin with Bruch’s Violin Concerto Number One.” He picked up his baton, which he knew had more power than a lightsaber within these walls, “So, without further ado . . .”


For Kyla these early days meant a lot of hard work, they were very regimented but extremely productive. She settled in quickly but relished her time off, and returned to the country for home-cooked dinners and fresh air whenever she could.



Written and conceived by M J Race

Copyright © 2014 M J Race


All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.