It’s been a hectic week at Grieve-Not Lake.
As the only member of the Scottish Arts Club who can spell ‘kompewter’, I get the task of being admin wallah for the ever-growing list of competitions run by the Scottish Arts Trust.
Last weekend saw the end of submissions for the SPAs, the Scottish Portrait Awards. As most artists (and many writers) live by the motto, Never put off to tomorrow what you can leave to the last minute, your friendly blogger was up well into the small hours processing the final deluge of 200 entries (a thrid of the total). Not only that, he was distributing the next rounds of surviving short stories and flash fictions to the judging panels for those comps too.
And to cap it all, Monday saw the opening of the 2020 International Flash Fiction Competition. Yes, I know it’s 2019, and we’re still judging the entries that closed not long ago, but it has been decided (not by me!) to relocate this award to start with July, end with September, and be awarded and celebrated in January — which will be 2020. And that way the Flashers get their own dinner too, rather than being subsidiaries at the Shorties bash.
So it’s for stories of 250 words or fewer and it’s six quid to enter and the prizes are £600, £300 and £150. And this what I just wrote is far too long to qualify, and I can’t enter anyway, cos I is admin, innit?
But you can have a go…
— And one for his nob is game.
— Bloody ‘ell, Dad. I’ll never beat you. I reckon our Mam’s telling you my hand.
— How dare you? You know your Mam would never stand for cheating of any kind. And wipe that grin off your face, I know you think I’m twp. The staff as well. They’re always come in saying, Mornin’ Angharad. Whether that’s to humour me or take the piss — sorry, cariad — take the mickey, I don’t know but …
— So she’s here now then?
— That she is, whether you believe or not. And not stood behind you lookin’ at your cards. Five years I’ve put up with your snide comments, and I can tell you she’s not impressed, neither!
— Tell you what, Dad: why not let her prove it?
— What do you mean, lad?
— Well, can she see stuff? Could she have looked at my cards if she’d wanted?
— Course she could. She reads the paper to me an everything, what with my eyes goin’.
— Well, there you go. I’ll take a card from the pack and show it to her. If she’s really here, she’ll tell you what it is, won’t she?
— Oh, I don’t know. You know she was never one for games and gamblin’ an’ that.
— It’s not gamblin’ you old fool. It’s an experiment. Just a way of there bein’ something she could know that you and I couldn’t. Unless you don’t really believe …
— No, no. All right, she says go for it.
— OK. I’ll shuffle … I’ll take one … I’m not lookin’ either … if she’s behind me, she can see it. So what is it, our Mam? Tell Dad and he’ll tell me.
— She says … er … she says it’s the … six of clubs.
I started, nearly fell off my chair, and knocked my beer glass onto the floor, where it broke into pieces.
— Fuck me! — Oh, sorry, Mam — six of clubs it is!
— Well, there you are. What did I tell you?
For all his previous certainty, Dad seemed as surprised as I was. And then young Llinos came in to see what the noise was.
— Oh, what have you boyos been up to now? Nobody move; I’ll get a pan and brush.
— Wait a minute, gal — listen love, Gareth here’s just proved it — Angharad — show her the card, lad.
But I’d already snuck the five of hearts quietly back into the pack, hadn’t I?