Bob makes Scouse (a Jade Camel out-take)

a jade camel figurine

‘Home cooking? eh mate, you kept that talent quiet,’ says Gary, inhaling appreciatively as he peers around the kitchen door.

‘It’s me Nan’s recipe*,’ Bob squints at the temperature control on the oven and turns it down a notch, ‘this my way of thanking you and Gina for letting me and Fingers move in, now that Lucy’s off with that Pierre on a cruise ship,’ he wheels around, not an easy task for a man of his build within the confines of a cramped kitchen, ‘whoa, Fingers, gimme that!’ he addresses the mischievous-looking monkey who’s edging closer to the stove top, waving a wooden spoon in the air.

Then Bob catches the changing expression on his friend’s face, ‘is it the story?’ he’s referring to the latest episode in their author’s Six Sentence Story serial, ‘I said to be careful what you wish for, didn’t I?’

Gary shrugs, ‘yeah, it’s brought it all back, beating up that guy, then afterwards with Gina… you know,’ he stares at the kitchen wall, remembering.

‘But it was me who really wanted a part in her new little story, babe, not you,’ Gina, who’s just appeared on the landing, wraps her arms around Gary’s waist, ‘remember, that’s all in the past; what you did was all the fault of the camel, all you have to do is go with the flow of her story, okay?’

‘And get rid of that camel,’ Cynthia’s voice drifts up from the hallway.

~~~~~~

This has been my second offering this week for Denise’s Six Sentence Story Challenge where this week’s prompt word was control. It’s also another window on the world that some my lead characters inhabit. As some of you have already discovered, they lead lives beyond the confines of their book.

*Nan’s recipe for scouse, a fine old Liverpool tradition (as described by Bob):

You take a couple of large onions, some nice big spuds, a tray of stewing steak and a couple of fat carrots, maybe a bit of swede, and a beef Oxo cube – make up about a pint. If your minted, you can use more meat. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a bay leaf.

Peel the veg, slice the onions, chop the spuds into big chunks, same with the carrots and swede. Trim the steak and chop into chunks.

Get a large casserole dish that’ll go on the hob and in the oven, lob in a lump of lard, or a splodge of oil. Brown the meat in batches and put on the side. Now fry the onions until they’re going brown, but don’t let them burn. Throw the meat back in. Add the carrots and the stock. Stir, put the lid on and slide into the oven at about 300F / 150C / Gas Mark 2. Check each hour to make sure it doesn’t try out. Top up from the kettle if you need to. It’ll probably take about 3 hours for everything to go nice and soft.

Nan serves with beetroot or pickled red cabbage. I prefer thick-sliced white bread with butter.

I cooked this last weekend. Maybe a dish to add to the chalkboard at the SSC&B?

The Jade Camel #15

Previously

Joey, flush with his wad of winnings, tucked into the Philharmonic’s lunch-time special, a steaming bowl of meaty scouse*, congratulating himself on his escape.

He’d only just started on his second glass of stout, when he remembered he was due to sign on; he gulped the smooth liquid down, just as the original antique clock hanging above the bar was beginning to strike two: he was already late.

Gary, the counter supervisor, hadn’t been amused, so much so that Joey had found himself staring back at him across a sticky Formica table in Interview Room One; Joey looked down at his bitten fingernails, ‘sorry, I must’ve left me card at home’ he muttered.

To Joey’s surprise, Gary slid his UB40 across the table, ‘listen Joey, I brought you in here for a warning, but it’s not about being late,’ Gary’s grip on the table edge tightened, ‘it’s about the jade camel, trust me, mate, you’re better off without it.’

Joey held up his hands, ‘if that’s all, I’ll be going.’

Gary, rapidly losing control, flew round the table and grabbed Joey by the lapels, ‘I mean it, mate, it’s like it’s cursed; bad people are coming after you for it.’

next episode


*I’ve an idea one of my characters will be sharing their recipe for this iconic Liverpool delicacy sometime soon

Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: ORIGIN, BEGIN, START
Denise Farley of Girlie On The Edge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: CONTROL

Many more #SixSentenceStories here – why not bring your own?

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #14

Previously

Aurora’s carmine lips formed a determined line, as she received Patterson’s latest up-date; she favoured him with an ice-blue stare: ’and when might I expect the camel’s return?’

The suave, silver-haired man spoke smoothly: ‘a plan is being put into place.’

On the south-side of the city, in the DHSS Office on High Park Street, Gary glared across a yellowing Formica table-top at his subordinate Reg, a short, squat individual whom he’d never taken to, waiting for his response.

‘It was just a favour, like, for a mate; Joey Moran’s got something of his and me mate wants it back,’ Reg shrugged, ‘said it was valuable – even showed me a picture of it – I dunno what’s so special about a little curled-up camel statue, it looked more like a turd to me.’

‘Your mate has Mr Moran’s UB40 but he doesn’t know his address, so you took it upon yourself to look it up in the office records?’ As Gary spoke, dread rose from the pit of his stomach – a curled up camel – his fingers gripped the edge of the table-top, purple veins standing out on the backs of his hands – surely not that same evil little statue?

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: YELLOW, PURPLE, BLUE
Denise Farley of Girlie On The Edge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: TERM

More #SixSentenceStories here!

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #13

Previously

As Joey stepped over the threshold, the music he’d heard from outside the building stopped abruptly; light filtered from the lofty windows, illuminating the dust-motes that danced in the large space before him, empty apart from a long wooden counter running along one wall with a dozen mis-matched chairs arranged at intervals along it.

Joey looked around, at the far side of the room was an imposing entrance door, topped with a fancy fanlight; Joey jogged over and drew aside the heavy steel bolts before twisting the night-latch; the door swung open easily. After pulling the door closed and hearing the latch click home, Joey sprinted up the three stone steps to street level. Suddenly the music started up again; Joey looked around, puzzled for a moment, before hurrying off up the narrow side street.

Emerging onto busy Bold Street, Joey ducked inside the nearest shop, its interior thick with cigarette smoke and lined with TV screens; the little camel statue in his pocket vibrated, pursuers forgotten, Joey approached the counter, ‘2.30 at Aintree, two quid on Oracle to win.’

Meanwhile, in the flat below Joey’s, Ceridwen turned over the Five of Swords: the tarot card predicting a cheap victory.

next chapter


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: ARRANGE, PREDICT, ORACLE
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: TREE

Join the #SixSentenceStory readathon here

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

When Characters and Creators Collide…

The cover new Six Sentence Story Magazine created by Tom of the Mansionic Perspective blog
Cover creation by Tom

‘Look at this!’ Connor brandishes the bright and colourful cover of the new Six Sentence Stories magazine. ‘You’re on the cover, Ms Hall. A first for you.’

Cynthia stretches out an elegantly manicured hand and takes the proffered copy from him. She looks at me over her new reading glasses. ‘Such a nice photo of you, too.’

‘I’m surprised it’s not in sepia, it’s that old,’ interjects Gary with a grin, immediately receiving an elbow in the ribs from Gina.

‘Don’t upset her Gary,’ Gina mutters. ‘Don’t you want to be in a story again?’ Gina flashes a smile at me.

Cynthia brushes her hand over the glossy cover. ‘Oh look, there’s a voucher for that little deli shop, Sam’s. It was very pleasant. Apart from that rather brassy woman coming on to you, Connor.’

‘You mean, Beryl?’ Connor’s eyes twinkle.

Gina prods Gary’s leg. ‘You see, they’ve both had an outing, and it wasn’t even in one of Ms Hall’s stories.’

‘What a charming man Tom is,’ Cynthia purrs. ‘So creative! We met him briefly at Ms Hall’s book launch.’ She runs a thoughtful finger over Tom’s picture on the magazine cover. ‘Nice eyes. I don’t suppose I should blame him for Beryl’s behaviour.’

‘I met another excellent chap there too,’ Connor takes a long pull from the glass of whisky which has mysteriously appeared in his hand. ‘Chris Nelson, short story author and a fellow poet. No wonder we hit it off.’ He looks around the room. ‘And you know what, he’s written a really good review of Our Book!’ Connor beams and raises his glass to me.

Chris Nelson’s review of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

You’ll Never Walk Alone is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook and on Kindle Unlimited
USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS IND ~ the rest of the world

The Jade Camel #12

Previously

Patterson finished the careful adjustment to his starched shirt cuffs, lining them up half an inch beyond the end of his jacket sleeves, before running his gaze over the group of short and stocky individuals standing before him; a slight furrow grazed his forehead, ‘there are five of you now and still he eluded you?’

Louis shuffled forward as if to offer an apology, feigning a sad expression, ‘the lad might’ve got away, but we’ll find him,’ he looked up, holding something out to Patterson with a triumphant grin, ‘look, he dropped this!’

Patterson held the grubby piece of cardboard between his thumb and forefinger, a look of distaste on his face as he examined it, ‘his Unemployment Benefit Card, there’s no address, how is it supposed to help?

Jimmy stepped forward, ‘allow me to introduce the newest member of our team,’ he indicated a fresh-faced young man, ‘this is Ron’s baby brother, Sam,’ Ron nodded, pushing his sibling forward, Jimmy continued, ‘he doesn’t say much either, but he has special skills.’

Patterson inclined an eyebrow.

‘Sam also has a job at the DHSS*,’ Shacker added; ‘don’t worry, Mr Patterson, you can count on us to catch up with Joey.’

next episode


*Department of Health and Social Security, responsible at the time (among other things) for the administration of Unemployment Benefits. The card which Joey dropped is a UB40**, the card you had to take when you went to ‘sign on’ at the ‘dole office’. It has the claimant’s National Insurance number from which Sam will be able to trace Joey’s address.

**From where UK band, UB40, took their name. The title of their song ‘One in Ten’ refers to the number 9.6, being the percentage of the local workforce claiming unemployment benefit in the West Midlands in the summer of 1981 when the song was released – the figure was double that in Liverpool by 1985.

Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: UPHOLD, SAD, APOLOGY
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: BOARD

More #SixSentenceStories here

Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #11

Previously

Joey returned the man’s gaze; it wasn’t that he was afraid, but something about the unwavering stare and the uncompromising stance of the cigar-smoking man made him slightly wary, framed as he was by the double-leaf doorway in an otherwise blank-faced building, like the gate-keeper to a secret world.

Glancing back into the alleyway, Joey saw that the five strange little men were now huddled together; although he couldn’t make out what they were muttering, by the way they were wildly gesticulating it was apparent that they were arguing amongst themselves. He wondered if he could somehow slip past them, it was either that or face the strangely intimidating man on the other side of the wall; Joey made his decision and eased himself down into the yard below.

Whilst Joey had been concentrating on his descent, the doors to the blank-faced building had closed; Joey jogged across the empty yard, the only sign that someone had been standing in the doorway was the still-smouldering cigar butt on the ground. Beyond the peeling wood, the strum of a rhythm guitar and the boom of a steady blues beat echoed inside the building.

Drawn to the music, Joey gripped the door-handle.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: TIMID, WARY, AFRAID
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: RHYTHM

More #SixSentenceStories here!

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #10

Previously

Joey shot across the road and hurtled down the narrow alleyway that divided the terrace of tall buildings ahead of him, the northerly aspect of the dank thoroughfare rarely allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate, and his feet slid on the slippery cobbles.

Hearing a shrill whistle behind him, Joey skidded around a corner into an even narrower passage and then another, losing himself in the maze of Victorian dereliction. Behind him, pounding feet were closing in, their speed more than a match for Joey’s; he swung around the edge of another building only to find himself faced by a huge, crumbling brick wall. He turned to face his pursuers – five unusually short, squat individuals crowded in, filling the width of the alleyway.

Joey spun round and launched himself at the wall, fingers and toes desperately scrabbling for purchase in the missing mortar between the bricks; finally, with a heroic effort, he hauled himself to the top and straddled the wall.

Joey peered down into the yard on the other side, where a bearded man leaned on the edge of an open doorway, smoking an unpretending cigar; the man stared back up at him and slowly raised an eyebrow.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: HEROIC, PRETEND, ASPECT
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: MATCH

Read more #SixSentenceStories here!

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #9

Previously

Ceridwen was clutching her tarot deck so tightly that the edges of the cards dug into her flesh; the air around her reverberated with disharmony as she silently contemplated the brace of cards she’d just dealt – the Tower and the Two of Cups (reversed) – she chewed her lip, her first card reading had spoken of exuberant adventure, but now the cards showed something darker in Joey’s future.

Joey, meanwhile, was teetering on the edge of a roof, in peril of falling, just as the Tower card so dramatically depicted; Patterson was closing in. A movement behind his shoulder caught Joey’s attention: a tawny-coated cat sprung from the overhanging roof and disappeared, greeted by the clank of metal as it landed not far below. The jade camel vibrated in Joey’s pocket and without hesitation, he dodged past Patterson and leapt after the cat.

Joey crashed onto the roof of a low outrigger; only momentarily winded, he let himself down to the ground, ran across the yard and climbed over the back wall, to disappear down the nearest alleyway.

Aurora’s salmon-coloured cheeks turned a vibrant shade of crimson, as her blood boiled; she directed her dismay at Patterson: ‘FIND HIM!’

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: OILED, SALMON, FLESH
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: HARMONY

See what other ‘Sixarians’ have written

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

The Jade Camel #8

Previously

Bemused, Joey sat on an expensive couch opposite Aurora in the grandest room he had ever encountered, sipping from a fragile cup of sugary tea, while Aurora issued instructions as if she were reeling off ingredients for a complex recipe; her suave companion nodded as he wrote in a small leather-bound notebook with an elegant silver pen.

Aurora paused, studying Joey for a moment; she set her cup down on an onyx and gold side-table, motioning Joey to do the same, ‘Come, Joey, I have something to show you.’

Joey followed her into the red-carpeted hallway through which they’d entered; Aurora glided up one wide staircase, then another, finally leading him out onto a roof terrace where she stood facing him, her steely gaze flicking to his pocket and back to his face. She advanced a step, holding out her hand: ‘I will be your passport to success if you give me that.’

Patterson appeared in the doorway and Aurora took another step towards Joey; the jade camel started to vibrate in his pocket; he retreated, his heart going into overdrive, racing away like his thoughts.

Joey looked over the edge of the building; it was a long way down.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: PASSPORT, SUGAR, DRIVER
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: INGREDIENT

More awesome #SixSentenceStories here!

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Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪