Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mike and Martin

(I'm on to the second Creative Writing course now, and here's the first story-oriented homework task. I would have posted the poem we had to do, but it was awful :-) We were shown a picture by Peter Howitt, "Fruit Stall Norwich", and asked to write a story based on it. Here's what I came up with, with apologies to Jamie Oliver, who does a really, really nice Toad in the Hole recipe ;-) )

Mike held up the plastic bag and cocked his head inquisitively at the vegetable within.

"That's a what now, Martin?", he asked, keeping his attention on the bag. The sweet potato, for that is what it was, lay in the bottom of the bag, somehow able to offend him simply by being different. He flashed a glance at Martin, who shrugged his world-weary shoulders.

"'Er indoors 'as one of those bloody Jamie bloody Oliver cookbooks now. You should see the sh... shtuff she's been puttin' on the table", he said, his indignation targeted fully on the innocent vegetable. "I 'aven't eaten properly in a week!", he exclaimed and prodded the bag viciously with a grimy fingertip, leaving a streak of motor oil on the thin polythene. The sweet potato starting swinging back and forth, taunting him.

"Well, what did 'e say it was then?", Mike asked, gesturing with a tip of his head to the stall owner.

"One bloody pound, ninety-nine, that's what!", Martin exploded, spittle flecking the bag. The sweet potato ignored the insult and kept on swinging back and forth. Mike's gaze was drawn back to the swaying bag.

"Looks like a potato to me, Martin", he said, slowly. "But why is it orange? Is it part carrot, you think?"

Martin ran his hand over his balding head, a long time habit that hadn't gone when his hair had. He shook his head.

"I can't be havin' with this modern muck, Mike", he sighed. "I like my traditional things, pies, sausage and beans, roast on a Sunday. The simple pleasures. Not bleeding orange potatoes with bloody knobbly bits on 'em."

Mike glanced back at the stall, the fruit and vegetables bathed in the yellow glow of the light set on the top of the display. Drops of water from the earlier rain shower fell from the red and blue awning. The stall owner was busy serving a customer, while more people milled around the stall. A smartly dressed woman hurried past, heels clicking on the pavement, a look of concentration and determination on her face. A young girl, with long, wet, black hair and bare feet stood with her back to the stall, obviously chastised and in disgrace, holding soaking wet shoes and socks in her hands. Nearby, her father picked his selection of fruit, glancing over every so often to make sure she was still behaving herself and looking suitably sorry.

Turning back, Mike held up the bag with his fingertips.

"So, what're you going to do with this?", he asked. Martin glowered at the sweet potato, weighing his options and whether he could get away with them. He finally settled on the most obvious one.

"Fancy a pint while I think about it?", he said.