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A Christmas Carole

by

David Bowmore

Right then, how should I start?

It was the night before Christmas and all through the house…

No, that’s not how it was at all. It was noisy, too noisy and very far from quiet, what with every house in the neighbourhood setting off fireworks. And the telly was on too, with Ant and Dec doing their Secret Santa, tears and gifts at Christmas shmultz.

The neighbours were having a party and I was sure they would cause a power failure with their god-awful lights all over their house blinking and flashing in time to ‘Rockin’ around The Christmas Tree’. Cars had been pulling up with hooting horns all evening to disgorge or collect passengers in various states of inebriation.

For that year’s festivities I was at my son’s. He was on the phone having a row with his ex-wife about the holiday arrangements for their five year old son, my grandson, Ben. She had changed her mind and wanted Ben to be with her and her parents. Honestly, families? At that point, I wished I’d stayed at home.

My son’s girlfriend sat in the corner, with a face like thunder and I knew as soon as the first row had ended another would start with her.

I poured myself a whiskey and soda, which earned me a warning look from my son who thought I drank too much anyway.

The doorbell rang, ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’ in electronic monotone. The girlfriend, Pamela, answered as I held Ben by the hand and the singers began their carol. She closed the door on them before they were halfway through the first verse of ‘Joy To The World’.

“What did you do that for?” I asked.

“I don’t have time for carollers,” she said.

“But, it’s for charity.”

“Not my problem. I’ve got Christmas dinner to get ready and John clearly prefers chatting with his ex,” she said, returning to her sulk and her phone. My grandson sat on the floor and picked up his tablet to continue watching cartoons.

I still don’t understand the younger generations. Didn’t they know anything? I may be an old grump, but anyone stupid enough to be out on a night like that, for a good cause, deserved a little appreciation.

I went to the door and saw the group of singers outside another house along the street. Snow was falling, and I only had house slippers on my feet, so I wanted to be quick.

I interrupted the end of ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’ to put five pounds in the collection bucket. Time slowed as I looked in to the face of the woman holding the collection bucket. I recognised the deep, dark eyes and there was a smell of orange and jasmine that brought back the memory of youth and laughter.

“The girl at number ‘42’ should have given you something, I’m sorry,” was what I meant to say, but instead I said, “Didn’t you used to be Carole Hartnoll from Saint Mary’s High School?” and she said, “Yes, yes I did. And I think you’re Paul Browne. After all these years. Why don’t you stay for a bit, sing a carol or two?” I said I wasn’t really dressed for the event but invited her over for a drink after they had finished.

The whole choir arrived an hour later.

We ran out of booze and John had to go to the supermarket for more.  Not a task I envied.

The choir conductor, a cook from the local primary school, helped Pamela with food preparations. A lot of fuss was made of my grandson. Songs were sung, and friends were made. Memories were awoken, and arguments forgotten.

It was a brilliant Christmas. The love that blossomed in my heart for Carole was the best present anyone could hope for.

We had five wonderful years together, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

No 1 in France

Following my earlier post, both Fireburst and Cadence (Clarendon House Pub) reached the top of the Kindle charts in France.

Amazing, now I can say I am a best selling author and poet – Whoop Whoop !

Fireburst Voting

 

I finished reading Fireburst a little while ago and now have the arduous task of picking my three favourite stories.
Once again, Grant Hudson of Clarendon House has assembled another fine collection.
I joked to some friends on FB that I’d shortlisted about sixty stories for best in book. The quality is that good and at the risk of sounding self-effacing, it’s a wonder my experimental piece was even considered, let alone selected to appear inside.
The very first story by AK Hata, The Girl Who Glowed is a powerful retelling of actual historical events, and one girl’s fight against deadly working conditions. It’s an outright winner, and a blisteringly good start to the collection. One of my votes for best in book.
And don’t think Grant put all the good stuff at the front. Keep reading to the end before moving on to something else. A real gem sits two or three stories from the end from Brandy Bonifas. The Clock Struck Twelve is haunting storytelling based on real life dangers – utterly brilliant. This is also one of my top three.
I have yet to choose my third favourite, it could be
Date Night by Rich Rurshell
Be Nice To Georgie by RLM Cooper
Not Being Me by Gary Bonn
A Dream Life by Lael Brady
Veterans We Two by Jan McCulloch
Seriously, it’s seems unfair to ask is to choose only three when the talent is so amazing.
If you haven’t read Fireburst yet, then try before the deadline for votes on December 24th.

Enigma

 

Here’s a blurb for my short story, ‘A Surfeit of Death’ which is to be included in Enigma: The Inner Circle Writers’ Groups Crime/Mystery/Thriller Anthology

July 1936

Heiress Dies Under Mysterious Circumstances

The family of Isabelle Balantine are in shock today, after the glamorous socialite died under unexplained circumstances at the family’s Mayfair house.

You can be sure the culprit won’t be able to avoid the long arm of the law with Superintendent Richard Allinson on the case.