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Creative Writing, My words (a random display of my own creative writing), Shop talk (anything and everything on writing)

Awkward Alice


They try to be kind to Alice, you know. But she’s an awkward customer. She lived all through the Blitz. Had a stillborn baby the night they hit Wapping.

Her husband was odd though; Tony, he were in one of them Japanese prisoner of war camps. In Burma. When he came home he was as thin as a gipsy’s whippet. You could see right through his hands. He ate a bone, once. At a Rotary dinner. Chomp, chomp, chomp all through the speeches. Like a bloody great dog. Alice just acted as if it were normal.

Tony didn’t live long after that; Alice brought all them children up on her own. They’re all grown up now. Very good jobs; doctors and the like, in Australia. The nurses at the home are lovely. But she’s a difficult one. Never happy unless she’s miserable. And now her family’s here and it’s her birthday dinner. She’s 100. They’ve all come to get her. Her sons have come all that way, and her grandchildren. They’re taking her to a fabulous restaurant.

Alice is at the home watching Bargain Hunt. She watches it every day. ‘Come on, Alice sweetheart. Time to go for your dinner.’

‘Bugger off,’ says Alice.


I was inspired to write this by the short stories on Bruce Goodman’s blog. I like his short, staccato style. I wanted to write it so that the narrator had a specific voice, but to keep him/her separate from the actual story. (If you make the ‘you’ in the third par into an ‘I’ for example, the last par doesn’t work.)

I also wanted to experiment with voice; to break the rules about not using cliche, and to see how far you can write how you speak, without it becoming as confusing as real speech.

Picture courtesy of https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2744/4398104241_0a5ac81a59_z.jpg  via Creative Commons

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


28 thoughts on “Awkward Alice

  1. Thank you for the compliment by being inspired. When I was reading it, I kept thinking, “Gosh, I wish I’d written this!”

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | September 12, 2014, 9:46 pm
  2. It was Bargain Hunt after all! Awesome post Elaine. Writing is so full of possibilities…

    Posted by olganm | September 12, 2014, 8:59 am
  3. It’s bloody difficult to nail one character, let alone two, in a story this length, let alone raise a smile and an atmosphere at the same time. I am extremely impressed, which is no small feat for this hour of a Thursday.

    Posted by Tara Sparling | September 11, 2014, 5:38 pm
  4. I LOVE this! Alice comes through as though you were watching her on High Def TV. Crisp and clear. TYou manage to crate a series of vingettes/scenes in just a few short words. Brilliant! And I want to be Alice when I’m 100. Bugger off, indeed!

    Posted by Nan Sampson | September 11, 2014, 3:48 pm
    • Yes me too. Somebody once told me that when she got old she wanted to stand in the middle of zebra crossings and shake her walking stick at impatient drivers. Yay! Glad you liked it.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 4:15 pm
  5. I like the voice. And sometimes cliches seem right, whatever the rules say.

    Posted by helen meikle's scribblefest | September 11, 2014, 3:04 pm
    • I think the thing about cliches is that you can use them when somebody is talking, especially if it underlines some characteristic of theirs, but not generally in narrative.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 4:14 pm
  6. Not even for a spot o’ tea, luv?

    Between Downton Abbey and The Last Tango in Halifax I think I’m getting the dialect down for an American southerner. 🙂

    Posted by lbwoodgate | September 11, 2014, 12:24 pm
    • Last Tango in Halifax!??? You’re watching that???? In Texas???? Blimey. You’ll be going down t’pub next, for a pint of Tetleys and a game of darts.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 12:33 pm
    • “You’ll be going down t’pub next, for a pint of Tetleys and a game of darts. “

      Does this mean I’m developing into an Anglophile?

      Posted by lbwoodgate | September 11, 2014, 12:46 pm
    • If you find yourself suddenly craving pints of bitter and pkts of cheese and onion crisps, then I think you’re more than half way there.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 1:00 pm
    • LB is not the only one. Netflix now has the second series of Last Tango and I cannot wait to start it. And I managed to score a DVD of Vicious from work – LOVE Sir Derek! He’s a hoot.

      Posted by Nan Sampson | September 11, 2014, 3:55 pm
    • I’ve not heard of Vicious. I loved Last Tango. The second series finished last Christmas here, but it ended in such a way as there could be another series. I like the idiot husband. He is so useless. The actress who plays his drunken girlfriend, Ronni Ancona, is a superb mimic/comedian. Check her out on Youtube

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 4:18 pm
    • Correction. I have heard of it. I forgot what it was called. And, you’ll be pleased to know, they’re filming the third series of LTIH even as we are tapping away to each other. Hurrah!

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 4:23 pm
    • Yeah! Very excited to see it when it makes it over here. Thanks!

      Posted by Nan Sampson | September 11, 2014, 10:38 pm
  7. I really love the voice here! Great character portrayal. I immediately want to go back in time and hear her story. Nice!

    Posted by David Pandolfe | September 11, 2014, 12:06 pm
  8. I used to run a home like that and believe me that’s just the response someone could get for disturbing the sanctity of someone’s TV watching.Great and well written story.
    xxx Massive Hugs.xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | September 11, 2014, 11:09 am
    • Thanks, David. I think lots of old people are seen as miserable gits for having that kind of attitude. I wanted to show that she was entitled to say bugger off.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 11, 2014, 11:11 am

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