Thoughts, musings and stories

All thoughts and opinions are mine alone and do not reflect those of anyone else, nor those of any organisation to which I belong.

My stories are the copyright of Avril King and infringements will have consequences.

Tuesday 22 April 2014


Today I had a run-in with an aggressive cyclist. 
I'd arrived at traffic lights behind a long queue to turn right, of which the cars in front of me got past the lights before  they turned amber, leaving 3 of them waiting in the centre of the road for oncoming traffic to stop in order to turn.  I know that's risky and stopped at amber, thus becoming head of the queue when the lights changed again.
While we were waiting, a cyclist pulled in front of me off my passenger side front bumper. As the lights turned red/amber before green, I watched the cyclist and waited for a sign he was moving off.  A car behind me beeped. The cyclist held his right am up and pointed right, and then turned his head to look at me angrily.
He pulled his bike over in front of me and shouted "the light was amber and I have to wait for it to turn green". I thought that was it and was going to ignore him. After all, I hadn't beeped. Thinking he was now going to pull away, I started letting in the clutch and went forward an inch, but he hadn't finished his rant. So my bumper  touched his back wheel.
He then pulled his bike further in front of me, yelling: "I was waiting for green and you beeped me!"
I opened my door, thinking I'd damaged his bike, at the same time saying "I didn't beep you at all!"
He made a big show of taking his time to examine his bike wheel before eventually riding off.
Now, one of the reasons I'm writing this, besides feeling quite aggrieved that I'd been deemed to be the aggressor, is that those traffic lights aren't quite like others.  
You see, if your car is up to the line you can only see the traffic lights above you. There are no visible lights on the other side of the cross-roads, so you take a big chance if you are still waiting in the middle of the road for the oncoming traffic to stop before you turn right. That is why I made sure to stop on amber.
 Where he was positioned, I don't believe he could even see the traffic light.
Strange how so many cyclists like to ignore traffic lights when it suits them,  but use them as a weapon when they feel like it.
Right. I feel better for having got that off  my chest.

I shall hold off surmising that, because he looked like the type who knits yoghurt, he was probably a LimpDumb and had seen my UKIP window sticker. :-)
AND he wasn't wearing a helmet!
And he would probably fail any driving test he took.
So there.

Sunday 6 April 2014


Well, well, well. After 1200 years, archaeologists decide that Offa's Dyke was a misnomer.
The mistake, of course, was due to the capitalisation and misapplication of the word dyke.

The media puts a rather biased anti-monarchy slant* on it . According to them, it's nothing to do with King Offa. After all,  a King wouldn't demean himself to do building work, they say; he simply claimed credit for what was already there. Nor was it intended as border control. If it had been, the EU would have filled it in by now

What has long been known in Mercia's  LGBT** community is that, in fact, it had been built by  a tribe of statuesque women to keep out men.
King Offa was a hairy, burly chap of manly appetites; he and  his court liked nothing better than a bit of a romp in the ha-ha (see?)
The dykes of Mercia, led by Offa's unyielding missus, Cynethryth (legend has it that he'd agreed to take her off her father's hands in exchange for a plot of fertile  land at Highgrove), were having none of that sort of thing and in a grand uprising, the likes of which we wouldn't see again until Greenham Common, they set to with their shovels, extending and deepening the King's ha-ha, thus  creating this monument of gigantic proportions.

So you see, what started out as King Offa's  ha- ha where he and his mates liked a bit of a laugh after a few meads, became this enormous trench thanks to some well-built females, and the court scribes, in what may be the only Anglo-Saxon pun to survive into modern language, named it after the King's consort, Offa's Dyke.

*The author points out that there are no persons of  Far Eastern origin in this tale
** If you are offended by anything in this tale, please take your woossiness elsewhere.

© Avril King

Tuesday 25 March 2014


Now merely a down-market tabloid, the Daily Mail has tried to put the fear of God into its  readers for a long time. Scare stories about how things you eat, drink or do, could  cause cancer, or migraines, or  insomnia, or make you fat, if not downright kill you as you read,  appear regularly on its pages. 

We've been told that red wine will kill us today  but is good for us tomorrow, and the same goes for coffee. Statins are good for you -  if they don't disable or kill you.
You smoke? Aaaargghh! Not only are you suicidal, you are also evil, a baby killer  and a mass murderer on a par with Stalin and Hitler - or even Farage. 

Today it warns that a pregnant woman who fancies a nice pork rasher, could give her baby Alzheimers

Oh, and don't take your smartphone to bed with you because it will make you fat, give you insomnia and  could lead to AN EARLY DEATH!!! That goes for your central heating too! 

I'm sure children of my generation were warned about certain habits that could make you blind so, if you also like to do a few reps  down at the gym, get yourself down to Specsavers FAST!

Of course, if you work night shifts   or, heaven forbid! have the "fat gene", you're completely buggered and might as well give up now because you are brain-dead, fat, and are going to die.

A quick health warning: Whilst reading this please sit up straight and don't slouch because I wouldn't want to be sued for causing you lower back pain.

But look on the bright side: big pharma is always discovering treatments that COULD cure all your ills, at a price.

Monday 17 March 2014


      “Why did you never marry, Benny?” I asked as I plumped up his pillows and made him comfortable.
Benny smiled, toothless, “I was waiting for you me darling.”
      “Oh come on, you old devil, I'm serious. That photo of you in your uniform shows you were a handsome fellow.”
      “Don't want to talk about it.” His smile faded and he feigned sleep.
I checked his pulse and left the room quietly.
There were several of these old soldiers here now. It was a garrison town and many of its inhabitants had stayed on after their service.
Two o'clock in the morning and, as he did every night, Benny shuffled down the corridor to my desk. He liked to sit and have a cup of tea with me.
Tonight he looked sheepish,”I'm sorry, darling, I was rude earlier.”
     “It's OK, Benny, it's none of my business.”
     “No, it's not, but I shouldn't have been rude. That's always been my trouble.”
He sat down and wrapped his arthritic hands around the mug, “You know I nearly did. Marry I mean.”
I held my breath and said nothing. I waited for him to speak.
    “She was an usherette, you know. Down the Regal. She looked a bit like you, green eyes, golden hair, and pretty as a picture. We were courting for a couple of years and then she got in the family way. Her dad beat the hell out of me. By the time I got back from Malaya, they'd moved and I never saw her again.”
    “Oh Benny, I'm sorry. You have a child you never saw.” It wasn't a question.
     “I don't know, don't know if she had it,” he sighed. He stood up and shuffled back to his room.
I couldn't tell him now.
Sister Jackman took over at 6.
    “Everything OK?” she asked.
    “Nothing to report,” I replied as I put my coat on.
There was nothing new tonight.

© Avril King

Sunday 16 March 2014


I was reading a children’s book I found in a charity shop. It was a bit “Girl’s Own” about a group of gymnasts who were competing for a place in a national team. The writing was deceptively simple, yet there were moments of sheer poetry: "Jessica’s mother brushed her daughter’s hair to a glorious shimmering cascade of pale honey , then with a practised twist , transformed it into a ball of woven gold."
Some of the tactics these girls used to knobble their competition would freeze your blood! Well, make you cross your legs, anyway. I liked the insight it gave into their minds. Having been a twelve year old girl once, albeit not sporty or competitive, I could relate to the ideas they have and the creative ways they think up to get the upper hand. Even so, I would never have guessed that those sweet little girls could be so vicious!
I’ll give you a summary of the story:
Four girls, all about twelve years old, were a team which had won competitions at local and county level. Of course, the national team would only select the very best girls from many teams all over the country.
The four in the story were from diverse backgrounds and we are shown, rather than told, what these were. I did think the names, such as Jessica  Ashley, Lauren and Kylie were unnecessarily stereotypical, and dated the story. All the same, their parents (and step-parents) were all supportive at some level, from buying the team’s outfits, to transporting them to competition venues.
Their instructor was an ex-army man whose own daughter had competed at national level. He was a hard man who demanded the best efforts and had no patience with excuses.
However, he was so focussed, he could not see the battle for supremacy which was going on under his nose.
The tale is almost an elimination contest, relating what was done to each girl, how she handled it and what she did to the others.
Although some of the sabotage was childish – and rather unlikely – such as clipping the seams in one girl’s leotard so that it came apart at a crucial moment; other incidents were downright ingenious. An example being the girl who came in early and spread Vaseline on the beam, then made sure she would not to be first to do that exercise. That one made my eyes water!
Gradually, each girl is foiled in her quest, until only one has a chance. Contrary to my expectations in a story for children, it is not the best girl who wins. It seems girls' fiction is no longer about morality tales.
The last chapter follows her to the final selection process in London, where she comes up against gymnasts who are not only better than her, but are even more competitive opponents. She comes home beaten but one gets the impression that she will be upping her game all round when she competes in the under 15s next year.
And that is how this book, called “On Her Beam”, ends.

© Avril King

Saturday 15 March 2014


      Carol enjoyed playing practical jokes but she didn't like being the butt of them.
We'd all been her victims and when she didn't turn up for our monthly girls' night out we, as girls do, talked about her.
It was Jeannie who came up with the idea. We would get our own back.
It took us the whole evening to work out the intricate plot. Maureen would direct and Susie offered to be our star player.
Next day I phoned Carol and, sounding treacherous, told her she was going to get tricked. I said “But we could turn it around and make Susie the patsy.”
She loved the idea and promised to play the innocent.
It was three weeks later that Carol invited us to her house. She would cook dinner for our girlie night.
We all met up and took a taxi to Carol's. When we arrived, the house was in darkness, but the door was ajar. We called out, but there was no reply. In stage whispers, we told Susie to go in and see what was what. She grinned and opened the kitchen door. There was Carol, on the floor with a carving knife handle sticking out of her chest. Susie gave a loud scream and fell into a dramatic faint.
We rushed in and all crowded round Susie, ignoring Carol completely. Maureen gasped, “She's dead! Susie's dead! She must have cracked her head when she fell!”
At this, Carol suddenly sat up. “What! What? It was a joke!” she cried.
We turned and looked at her, our mouths open dramatically. Then we burst out laughing. Carol looked stunned “You bitches!”

The we looked round and Susie was still lying there, blood pooling around her head.

© Avril King

Wednesday 12 March 2014


 I'm the first to admit it, I'm not easy to get on with; a bit opinionated, to be honest. Mouthy, my mother used to say. Still, we all have our little quirks, don't we? Well, don't we? Do you want to tell me you're perfect? No, of course not.
They're used to me at work. I've been there since I left school, when God was a boy himself, my missus says. It's been good. Changed a bit of course. We haven't got a canteen any more. People bring in sandwiches and sit out in the smokers' shelter. We don't all smoke, only four of us actually, but I don't see why they should separate like, just 'cos it's not allowed indoors. Fancy making it illegal. Never heard the like. Never upset me and I'm the first to moan about anything.
Anyway, it seems I'm not flavour of the month with the new boss. The old one, well I say old one, but he's only been here ten years, he's decided to step back from the day to day running of the place and he's brought in somebody to run it for him.