Note Number 63. . . A Cowboy Story for Christmas.

christmasboot

Wayne Hollis Jackson was driving along the old Eagle Trail on his way back from the range. He was still a good fifteen mile away from home and the snow was hitting the windscreen of the truck like a hail of Lux soap flakes. The Jackson’s had always been cowboys, but he was sure glad not to be riding a horse in this weather. After a hard day, he was looking forward to getting back to a warm fire, and a fine bit of good Texan tucker that his momma would have ready for him at the house. His watch read six-thirty, and he had reckoned to be back before seven, but with the worsening weather, he began to doubt getting home at all.

A while later he was passing the McVale place, squinting to see where he was headed, he could just make out Mary-Lou McVale standing by the side of their station wagon flagging him down. He pulled over as close as he could, drew his hat down over his eyes and gathered his sheepskin coat around his body, opened the truck door and ran to Mary -Lou putting his arm around her.

‘What’s up Mrs McVale?’ he said.

The words came tumbling out, a torrent of panic.

‘The pick-up’s broke, the baby’s coming, the phone lines are down, there’s no mobile signal and Joe’s away working on the rigs. He was getting here for Christmas, but I think that ain’t possible now. The baby’s not due for another three weeks but the contractions are coming fast. I don’t see how I’m gonna make it to the hospital. Rightly I should have had my mother here but like I said, the baby’s not due for another three weeks.’

‘Well mam, I’ve delivered a fair few calves in my time, can’t see it’ll be that much different. Let’s get you inside, out of this blizzard.’

‘Won’t your mamma be worrying ’bout you?’

‘Guess she will but there’s nothing I can do ’bout that now. Anyways, she’ll likely think I’ve stayed up at the bunkhouse what with this weather and all.’

‘There’s some stew on the stove if you need a bite to eat.’

‘Why, that’s a mighty good idea, I could be here some time.’

For the next five hours Mary-Lou paced around the living room of the one storey house, moaning and groaning and Wayne comforted her between contractions. He tried to stay relaxed and not let on how nervous he felt about the imminent birth.

‘Do you think, with it being Christmas Eve an’ all, you might have a boy?’ he asked.

‘What, you mean, like a second coming?’ Mary-Lou kinda spat the words out.

‘I was just saying.’

‘I think it’s here,’ yelled Mary-Lou before dropping onto all fours and bellowing.

Wayne manoeuvred her onto the couch.

At just gone midnight, a beautiful little baby girl bawled her way into the world.

‘Oh my,’ said Wayne, ‘a new beginning. Aint that something? What are you gonna call her?’

‘Well, I don’t rightly fancy Waynette, but maybe Holly would be nice, a bit like your middle name? And it is Christmas day after all.’

Wayne stared at the little baby.

‘Imagine,’ he sighed, ‘if Jesus had been born a girl, the world might have been a whole different place.’

cowboy stork

This story was originally created from a prompt set as homework for a writing group that I have just joined, Story Traders, in Bridport. We had to take a character or two from a Christmas Carol or Song and write a story putting them in a modern setting. I chose the Cowboy Carol, which I love and I think my kids loved it too. If you don’t know it, you can listen to a version of it here. 

Note Number 62. . .November Round up . . .

I don’t know about you, but November came and went with such speed that I keep thinking I’m only half-way through. Here’s a quick recap :

1st/2nd The grandchildren came to stay for one night. We had  tea with them all in the afternoon at The Seaside Boarding House in Burton Bradstock, then drove off into the sunset taking the little darlings with us and leaving the parents to enjoy a romantic dinner for two and a night away. The sunsets at the end of October and beginning of November were truly stunning.

sunrise

This is  actually a sunrise not sunset…photo taken by my daughter Emily Rickard (you  can find her on pimpyourrental or emilyrickardstylist on Instagram — it’s worth a look) 

3rd November The Man and I went to see The Wife at the Electric Palace in Bridport. Good film, good story etc., probably a little overhyped, but then aren’t they all these days?  Glenn Close was wonderful but then she looked just like our friend Jan from Bristol, so we were distracted by thinking how much fun it was to see Jan carrying  on with Jonathan Pryce, on the big screen.  The film is about a writer who receives the Nobel  Prize for Literature — but then we learn the truth behind his legendary writing, (The Wife). . .all is not what it seemed.

the wife

Sorry that I can’t find a photo of Jan for  you to compare…

6th  Bridport Film Society (I am on the committee) showed Land of Mine. I had watched it before and saw so much more in it, the second time around, isn’t that often the way? It’s based on a true story, when, in 1945 the Danes used young German POWs to clear the 1.5 million land mines that had been set along the coast. A harrowing but brilliant film.

7th/28th My Wednesday afternoon Laban Dance is back in full swing. Wendy has us dancing with towels — hmm, you may well ask. It’s brilliant actually. We all love following her choreographic ideas,  whilst all the time she encourages us to create our own sequences. Wendy bases a lot of the  dancing on myths and ancient stories of the  Gods.

From the 12th – 16th I went on a Flash Fiction Writing Retreat, run by Amanda Saint from Retreats West and held at Retreats for You in Sheepwash, Devon. It was a brilliant three days of writing, working with other writers under the excellent tutelage of Amanda. We each created at least three pieces of flash fiction per day ready to take home and lick into shape. Some pieces will be put in the bin, some developed and I’ll maybe start a few new ones. I need to have nine stories ready for April 2019, for publication in November 2019. Of course, Amanda will not use all of them but I’m hoping to send her a few that she won’t be able to refuse.

Retreats  For You Outside….Happy Writers Inside

19th Almost as soon as I had I returned to Bridport, we had to rush off to Bristol for babysitting duties. Then to  Maidenhead to visit our other granddaughter and from there to London, where we spent two nights in the city. I had lunch with an old friend that  I hadn’t seen for about  8 years — it was such fun catching up. Fortunately, I remembered that she always wore amazing earrings.  Shock horror! I had left my earrings in Bristol so had to  borrow a pair. There was no way I could lunch with Sheila without a decent pair of rings in my ears. Do you have friends with great fashion or accessory tastes? Not that I bother to ‘keep up’ with anything it’s just that sometimes one has to stop and think about these things.

my borrowed earrings copy

My Borrowed Earrings (rather nice I think – thanks step-daughter Jackie)

21st The Man and I went to the Jermyn Street Theatre in London to see Billy Bishop Goes To War.  Based on the true story of a fighter pilot from WW1. What a treat that was. The theatre is very small, seating only 60 or so people and the action takes place right in front of your nose. If you need the loo you have to walk across the stage area, but of course you can’t do that when the show is in progress. Charles Aitken played the younger Billy Bishop and Oliver Beamish played the older Billy Bishop. Both actors were honestly superb, creating believable scenes of war in the mud and trenches and in the skies. The staging was brilliantly put together so that the action could take place all over the world without any changes.  Hard to explain but it  was clever. I cannot wait to go back to this little theatre, what a find.

 

Left-hand side is the set. Right-hand side. See how close the  front row is? 

On the 24th November I was asked to judge the Young Farmers’ Entertainment competition. Not knowing what to expect I went with an open mind and full of interest (and full of cold for that matter). It  was a great evening, with four clubs  taking  part, each one giving us a performance for no longer than 30 mins including  set-up an take-down. The programme was as follows.

Sturminster Newton YFC – Sturminster Newton’s Got Talent
Sherborne YFC A Night at the Oscars
Marshwood Vale A Day at the Races
Puddletown YFC Puddletown YFC Entertainments

They were all brilliant, I had a good laugh and enjoyed the music and singing. It  was difficult to choose a winner but in the end I went for Marshwood Vale. A fast paced and hilarious day at the races. I even forgot my cough and cold for a few hours.

Marshwood Vale YFC

Marshwood Vale winnng group receiving their prize — photo courtesy of  them…hope they don’t mind I nicked it off facebook. Your’s Truly is looking a little pleased with herself don’t you think? 

I haven’t included every single thing that was in my diary for November,  you would have become bored, (perhaps you are anyway) but, we had some lovely dinner dates, a game of cards, a haircut, a writing meeting, among other things  and of course The Man did some cycling. All good stuff,  culminating with lunch at the Station Kitchen in Bridport  on Friday 30th  November – my son Thomas’s birthday. He would have been 35, but sadly left us when he was 27. The family never forget his birthday. Most of us can be seen sporting odd  socks for the day – a speciality of his. Lunch was good, he would have enjoyed it. Especially the bit where The Man spilt his water all over  my lap.

The Station Kitchen decorated out for Christmas. . .and my Sea Bass.  Yummy. 

Thomas and Me

And finally a throwback to 1983. . . lovely smiling mummy and son

What was that hair all about Ninette?