Flash Friday – One

Flash Friday – I thought I’d start to put up a “flash fiction” story each Friday – and if you wanted to, you could join in and post your own.

Flash fiction is defined as a story of extreme brevity. It’s often given as a challenge with either a theme or having to include specific words in the text. I’m setting the limit at 500 words maximum. If you want to join in – post a story and a photo if you have a suitable one, in the comments. I’ll change the challenge each week.

This week – I’m posting one I entered into the Mash competition. You had to write a story that included the words Taxes, Vinegar and Carpenter. Here’s one of mine…Titanic 2

“My Great-Grandfather was a chippy on the Titanic.”
“What?” Carol asked, frowning.


“I was just looking at that advert for the Titanic Museum,” I said, ducking down and pointing through the windscreen, past the red glow of the traffic light. An illuminated billboard showed a stylised rendition of the famous four funnels. “He was a carpenter working on overmantels and fireplaces in the staterooms and lounges. Imagine having fireplaces on a ship.”

“Oh, that’s cool. Although not quite as good as what I thought you’d said.”

“How’d you mean?” I asked.

“I thought you said he ran a chippy on the Titanic. I had this image, him behind a counter, shouting out to ladies in First Class, ‘Do you want salt and vinegar on those love?’

I laughed, “Sadly not. Mind you, just as well really, for if he’d been on it when it went down, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Did you know him?”

“No, he was long gone by the time I was born. But you know how it is, family folklore survives. Apparently, according to him, there was none of the certainty about it being unsinkable before it sailed. He insisted all that was made up by newspapers afterwards.”

“There’s a surprise, newspapers inventing stuff,” Carol said, rolling her eyes to make her point.
“According to my Granny, as he got older the more he’d get angry when people talked about it. He’d let it go on for a bit and then his brusqueness would get the better of him. His final word on it was always the same, ‘That’s all stuff and nonsense. There are only two things certain in life, death and taxes, but no ship. No ship was ever certain.’ And that would be that. Conversation over.”
“It’s a shame all his work went to the bottom,” Carol said as she shifted the car into gear.

“Yeah, although he did carve all the fancy scrolls on the balconies of the Opera House as well.”

Carol did a quick check over her shoulder, “Really? That’s just a few streets behind us. Do you want me to turn around? We could go have a look.”

“Nah, it’s okay. The Opera House was blown up during the Troubles. All his work was destroyed, so I never got a chance to see it. I was only young when the bombing happened. Like you said, it is a shame really.”

“Yeah, it is,” she nodded and gave a rueful twist of her mouth.

“Ah well, I wouldn’t be too sad. To be honest, given the Opera House and the Titanic, hanging around any of his work might be a bit dodgy. I think he was a jinx.”

The lights changed and we pulled away, the Titanic slipping into the darkness behind us.

Ian Andrew
Whilst listening to Clapton (on Spotify)…


6 thoughts on “Flash Friday – One

  1. Pingback: Two Flashes of Fiction | Views from the Ridge

  2. Name Dropping

    ‘George Eliot was a great friend of my aunt’ said my Grandmother, apropos of nothing.

    ‘George Eliot the author?’

    The very same’ she said wobbling the jowls of her neck. Nodding always happened like that.

    ‘How could she be? She never came to Africa…’

    ‘No, but her stepsons did. One of them died my aunt’s arms, and she had to tell George Eliot and that husband of hers, what’s his name, Henry Lewes, that the boy was dead, and not only that. She implored them to finance his Afrikaaner widow and his young children’s shipment to England. Imagine! She did too’.

    ‘Who did what?’

    ‘George Eliot. She had the money. She had adopted Henry Lewes’s sons, and thanks to my aunt she adopted his grandchildren… She brought them all to her house in Cheyne Walk. Imagine, straight from a Vrystaat Farm into grandest of Chelsea. Can’t have been easy…for any of them.’

    ‘Yeah, right.’

    Her expression turned to vinegar and her shoulders shook with anger. Not being believed was like refusing her pastries. They had been crafted with the care of a carpenter in the mould of Grinling Gibbons. What was the point of a story unless it had flamboyance, curlicues, refinement?

    The trouble with a grandmother is they have nothing to lose by telling porkies. I knew perfectly well it could never have happened. If you had lived a life of utter inconspicuous humdrum in darkest Africa why not invent a glamorous connection? If George Eliot had not followed close on the heels of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I might have given it more attention. When you have spent your childhood reading books written by people my grandmother ‘knew well’ you stop listening.

    After she died and I was clearing out I found a copy of Daniel Deronda in three volumes: First edition inscribed to my grandmother’s aunt. ‘In loving appreciation of kindnesses given’ and signed by George Eliot. First Edition. Worth a bob now.

    Trouble was another aunt (mine) decided to present it to Rhodes Library in the Eastern Cape which is where it now languishes; hardly on the George Eliot walkabout. No doubt it’s already been flogged to pay the Librarian’s taxes.

    I should have listened. I wish I had. Still I suppose it’s something that my own great, great aunt was a God parent to George Eliot’s step grand-children. Step in the right direction. Just a little late. Isn’t life the Joker? Maybe I should dig out those suitcases of letters…

    Philippa Rees

    (Unfortunately the picture of Cheyne Walk did not come across to a comment!)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. INspired a quick creation this morning, but it does not include ‘taxes, vinegar or carpenter’ though I could include them all quite easily. Just wanted to know if your challenge was the same for anyone?


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