Haiku-a-day: day 45 of 365




Woeful winter trees:
their bashful, naked branches
mourn their long lost leaves

Inspiration… The copious number of trees that I can see through the window, at work, acts as the focal point of today’s Haiku. I though I would (sorry no pun intended there) continue with the theme of nature.

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Sandra visits a Marriage Guidance Counsellor

This is an activity from the A215 Creative Writing Course that I’m doing with the OU. I’m writing about Sandra and James Hartington, who are visiting a marriage guidance counsellor. It’s written in first-person, from the point of view of Jane Le Fin, the marriage guidance counsellor. It is an exercise in creating a story that uses foreshadowing (Activity 10.5).

This is the third part in the three narratives relating to ‘the woman in crisis – Sandra) … the other two are ‘OMG – Sandra is nearly on time‘ and Sandra at the solicitor’s.

In this job you learn to trust your instincts. By the end of the very first session I knew that their chances of staying together were next to none. Some say that I’m a saviour; others claim that I just love to revel in people’s misery. I like both. Incidentally, my name is Jane Le Fin, a Lassie from Falkirk, who married a Sassenach from Stockport. I’m a marriage guidance counsellor; have been for many years – to many in fact.

It was through a referral that I came to know Sandra and James Hartington: the early 40s couple that visit me weekly, on a Wednesday at 6pm, in my damp second floor office on Harvey Street; about 500 yards from the Premier Inn Stockport Central.

To tell the truth their visit enlightens my week. It’s always a raucous affair – far more entertaining than the contrived ‘good behaviour’ of most couples that promise to atone, like the sinner in confession, who soon reverts to type.

James and I usually talk amongst ourselves until the inevitable sound of ‘sorry I’m late. I had an important client on the phone,’ signals Sandra’s arrival – which usually rallies a war cry from James to the effect of – ‘for God’s sake, Sandra, I’ve put up with this for twenty years.’ Sandra’s retort last week had me biting my lip- ‘Yes, I know I’m late and that you were early, James – No wonder my friends call you Mr. Tissot.’

James phoned to cancel their meeting, earlier in the week. Apparently, he is starting divorce proceedings. I guess being right isn’t always the best feeling. How will I fill the void?

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Haiku-a-day: day 44 of 365




‘Weather Bomb’ Storm in
Western and Northern Scotland;
Power to homes restored!

Inspiration… Much of Western and Northern Scotland has been without electricity for the past couple of days. Fortunately, power has been restored to the vast majority of the 31,000 homes that had their supply cut.

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Haiku-a-day: day 43 of 365




Xmas lunch at work
Some had turkey; most had fish
Mince pies! Not just yet!

Inspiration… It was the annual ‘Enquiry team’s Xmas lunch today. We celebrated it at an Italian, not too far from the office. It was a great excuse to escape from work for an hour.

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Sandra at the solicitor’s

This is an activity from the A215 Creative Writing Course that I’m doing with the OU. I’m writing about Sandra, whose marriage has failed. This narrative passage is set in her solicitor’s office, and it’s written in first-person, from the point of view of Sandra. It is an exercise in creating a story that starts from a media res (middle of the story) – the idea is to create a situation, whereby the reader feels that they are entering the story in a pre-existing world (Activity 10.4). I have also written about her in ‘OMG – Sandra is nearly on time‘ and Sandra visits a marriage Guidance Counsellor.

My name is Sandra Hartington. I’m forty-one years young and the mother of a teenage ‘ginger-kid’, named Rebecca – the love of James, my follicly challenged other half’s life. I’m sat in my solicitor’s warm, but musty waiting room. Just in case you are wondering why I’m explaining this to you, it’s because I’m reluctant to offend those staunch Catholic types, who may want to be elsewhere, rather than with me on this frosty December morning.

So where did it all go wrong? I like to think that we are both to blame, but James is adamant that it is my fault. Apparently, I’m not a team player. Well, he would see it that way.

He has always been different from me: he even sets his alarm for 7am at the weekends. God help him, if he should goes 5 minutes past his bedtime curfew. Come on, I ask you – who requests a wall clock for Xmas? Rebecca takes after him. Only yesterday, she was furious because I was delayed in getting to her school play.

Well, the time has arrived; I’m being summoned. I don’t want to resist the inevitable.

‘Do come in Mrs Hartington. I must apologise for my being delayed,’ said Mr Durden-Smith.

‘That’s quite all right. I was admiring your clock. I think it is a few minutes fast, however.’

‘I’ve prepared the final paperwork; all you have to do is sign. If you sign, there is no going back,’ he cautioned.

‘Yes, I’m aware of that, but it’s for the best – for all concerned,’ she uttered, as her eyes welled up.

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Martine, the creature of habit

This is an activity from the A215 Creative Writing Course that I’m doing with the OU. It involves writing a short passage of narrative whereby I have to establish a dramatic present (a character is situated in a particular place at a particular time), but with the inclusion of five habitual elements of the character’s life. It is an exercise in one of the main building blocks of structure – time (Activity 10.3).

I’ve chosen to write about Martine, a creature of habit, who has the five following habitual traits:

  1. Has lunch every workday at 1pm.
  2. Has a tea break every workday at 3pm.
  3. Takes her mother shopping, every Thursday evening, after work.
  4. Goes on holiday to Ibiza and stays in the same location, every year.
  5. She watches her son play football every Saturday afternoon.

Martine could hear gossip and tapping of fingers on keyboards, as she sat at her functional work desk, simultaneously observing her colleagues. The idle chatter wasn’t very appealing; it was yesterday’s news. Besides, it was one O’clock. That meant only one thing to Martine -‘lunch’.

‘I’ll try Tomato soup, again, tomorrow,’ she thought, as she unlocked her workstation, and continued with an on-going query.

Her belly started to rumble. As she looked up to see if Alison was ready, she was met by the high-pitched voice of Alison, shouting from across the partitioned bank of desks, ‘It’s 3 O’clock. It’s your turn to make. Bring the coffee.’

As Martine sat at her desk, sipping her milky coffee and tonguing her top right molar (to remove biscuit), she remembered that it was Thursday. She began to fidget and bite the skin of her right thumb, as she contemplated whether her mother had remembered to prepare this week’s shopping list.

‘If you leave me now’ by Chicago was playing on the radio as Martine drove home, after the expedition to Tesco. She didn’t know why, but that song always livened her mood.

‘Hi Mum, Aunt Susie wants you to give her a ring,’ said Toby, as she walked through the front door.

‘Hi, Toby. Aunt Susie must have spoken to Mr Garcia to arrange our usual rooms. Just think, in three days we’ll be in Ibiza.’

‘I can’t wait. Have you washed my football kit for Saturday’s match?’ asked Toby.

‘Do you think I’m going to stand there and give the other mum’s something to gossip about? Change the record young man,’ she uttered, as she winked at him.

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Haiku-a-day: day 42 of 365




Frozen car windows
Cloudy vapour from exhausts  
Winter’s icy breath

Inspiration… It was really crisp this morning (zero celsius). It made me think about whether we are going to have a really cold winter in the UK. It also gave me an idea for a Haiku.

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Haiku-a-day: day 41 of 365




The red sky at night
signals the Shepherd’s delight
Fine weather warning!

Inspiration… I saw a beautiful red sky this evening, as I was driving home from work. It gave me an idea for today’s Haiku.

Apparently, the old saying, ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning,’ first appeared in the bible in the Gospel of Matthew.

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OMG – Sandra is nearly on time

This is an activity from the A215 Creative Writing Course that I’m doing with the OU. It involves writing a story based on a woman in crisis (Sandra). It is written in third-person limited and is from the point of view of her husband (James). It is an exercise in structure: the narrative has a beginning, a middle and an end (Activity 10.1). Sandra also features in ‘Sandra at the solicitor’s‘ and Sandra visits a Marriage Guidance Counsellor.

Sandra has always been late. In fact, that trait started at a very young age: she arrived a week later than expected in the delivery room at Glasgow General; after putting her mother through a twelve hour labour. The ginger haired minx had to be dragged out with forceps, before announcing her late arrival with a rendition of eardrum shattering shrills. Lateness was a habitual trait that followed her around: every school report said the same thing, ‘Sandra excels at her school work, but her punctuality needs to be improved.’ At least as a University student, she could blame part of the lateness on the partying-lifestyle.

‘Who needs breakfast? That’s for wimps,’ was something she always retorted whenever the opportunity afforded itself. Luckily for her, Paracetamol and Lucozade were affordable on a student budget.

It’s now twenty years since University and she hasn’t changed a bit.

‘Hi James. Sorry I’m late, I’ve been at the solicitors to sign the final papers,’ she said.

‘Hi Sandra. Don’t worry about it. After twenty years, I’d be more surprised if you were on time.’

She quickly glanced over, before lowering her eyes and giving out a sigh.

‘We should have tried harder, James. I certainly know that I should have.’

This wasn’t like her at all: being dominant and having the last word in an argument was her forte. Her BA (Hons) in Law and subsequent training to become a barrister had helped to hone her skills. In all fairness, however, did it really have to come down to this awful state of affairs? It’s hard not to agree with her argument: the end of twenty years of marriage is nothing to be proud of.

‘I agree Sandra. You should have. I find it somewhat ironic, however, that your finally being civil towards me has happened today, of all days – when it’s too late to make a difference.’

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Haiku-a-day: day 40 of 365




Echoey silence
Replaces joyful chanting
Loyal fans, now dumb!

Inspiration… The last minute winner in a football (soccer) match, that destroys the home team fans’  morale, is the choice for today’s Haiku. Over the years I’ve witnessed this a few times.

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