A Place of Peace and Beauty

Where we sat when we were children
Dirty knees and broken shoes
Watching boats float down the river
When the sky was always blue
Where the water sang and gurgled
Where you told me of your plans
How we would be rich and famous
Marry when you were a man 
Where I sat alone yet somehow
Comforted throughout the days
When you outgrew the smiles of childhood
And the world took you away
Where I sat that summer Sunday 
With my skirts about my knees
When I heard a blackbird whistle
And my love came back to me

©️Jane Jago 2020

Weekend Wind Down – The Citadel

Aaspa and her family are to move into the Citadel. But…

The identical looks of disgust on Owl and Moonflower’s faces would have been amusing if they weren’t so deserved. The Citadel was beyond filthy. Everywhere.
“We cannot be moving into this shithole,” Owl declared vehemently.
I smiled my agreement. “Well not until it has been fumigated. Bring  as many drones as you can trust and I will assign you some fighters to ensure the lazy ones in this place shape up.”
“You mean to trust me with this undertaking?” Owl sounded amazed and a little in awe.
“I do. When we move here the household will be in your charge as it is in our present nest. I have neither the training nor the aptitude, and Moonflower will be busy acting as Papa’s hostess.”
Both females looked at me with their mouths agape.
Moonflower was the first to pull herself together. 
“Aaspa,” she said faintly, “surely you will act as The Master Hunter’s hostess.”
Before I could frame a suitable reply the sound of masculine laughter alerted me to the fact we were no longer alone. I turned my head to see my Papa and my Mate who had contained their laughter but were still grinning as if their cheeks would split. 
I put my hands on my hips. “Okay you two. What is so funny?”
Aascko took me in his arms. “You, my beloved, know precisely what is funny.”
Papa, on whom the Master Hunter’s chain of office still looked a bit like something from the imps’ dress-up box grinned unrepentantly.
“Yes Aaspa. You know as well as I do that the second civic reception you were obliged to hostess would doubtless end in a bloodbath.”
I pushed out my lip in pretended sorrow. “How can you think that of me Papa? Am I not beautiful and feminine enough to grace society. Can I not charm if I so choose?”
Both males started to look at me as if I had grown a second head, but then I spoilt the tease by laughing so hard I all but voided my bladder.
Just as I got myself together, Aascko bent his head and whispered a rude suggestion in my ear. Which got me started again. 
“See,” he said dramatically, “wholly unsuitable.”
Owl and Moonflower gave the males the stink eye, which made me laugh even more. 
“I’m a Hunter,” I said, “and not a bit inclined towards either society or domesticity. You two have the enthusiasm and the know how. And you even like talking to assorted females.”
Moonflower’s smile was a beautiful thing to behold. “You, Mate of my son, are an inspiration to us all. You understand that everyone has their strengths and have no fear of promoting those around you to best use those strengths. In addition, you have no jealousy in your heart, and no envy in your soul. If only we could all be like you.”
I felt a flush mantle my cheeks and Aascko turned me fully into his embrace. “Truly spoken Mother of mine. The huntress who holds my heart has great virtue, not least of which is her dislike of praise.”
Owl rescued us from the morass of emotion into which we were sinking.
“This is all very admirable. But it isn’t going to get this shithole of a citadel scrubbed…”
Of course she was right, and the shitadel, as Aascko dubbed it, took an enormous amount of concerted effort to get it clean enough to meet her exacting standards. Me? I helped a bit with bullying lazy and impolite drones, but other than that I just let Owl have her head. 
By the time the moon had turned once, she announced that the Citadel was clean but it now needed furnishing. My Papa gave her a bag of gold coins and told her to go to it. And, bless her steady little heart, she done just that.
From the shelter of the beloved nest we were about to be leaving, and which was now being turned upside down in Owl’s search for furnishings suitable for the Citadel, the imps and I watched in varying degrees of horror. Owlet was firmly of the opinion that Mama had run mad, as was Tiger. Puma and Silver were more tolerant of the upheaval. I mostly kept my own council only putting my head over the parapet when I though Owl and Small Cat were not taking sufficient care of their health. Small Cat was sensible when reminded, but I had to sit Owl down and talk to her very seriously about her own wellbeing and that of the imps she carried under her heart before she could be brought to slow down.
Another moon of turmoil – and some tantrums – saw us about ready to move into the forbidding grey pile of the Citadel. A dull misty morning found Aascko and I following Owl from room to room. I will admit that it all looked splendid – if not precisely homely. When we finished the tour of the grand public rooms my mate looked at our nest sister and frowned a little. 
“You have worked wonders. But I won’t be living in anything this cold and perfect.”
Owl grinned her cheekiest grin, and for a moment she looked almost pretty.
“No. Nobody has to live in this bit, it’s for public consumption. Come with me.”
She led us down a wide staircase at the bottom of which was a long corridor. It had doors on one side and a wall of windows the other. 
“This is the family wing. I’ll show you all of it later. If you are interested. But for now.” She almost ran ahead of us throwing open the penultimate pair of doors. “Me and Cat’s workplace, with sewing place and office.” She didn’t stop there, though. Throwing us a smile over her shoulder she opened the huge deeply carved doors at the end of the corridor. “Aascko and Aaspa’s new nest.”
It seemed for a moment as if we had been transported back to our  old nest except this was all on one level with huge glass doors opening into a high-walled garden. I threw my arms around Owl and gave her a huge hug.
“You are a clever girl.”
“When I saw these rooms they seemed ideal to me. Even if they do seem to me to have some sort of a bad reputation.”
“What sort of a ‘bad reputation’? Aascko was obviously intrigued.
“This was used to be something called a seraglio.” Owl’s little face crumpled with confusion. “Cat and me think it has something to do with mating, because of all the nudging and winking that went on among the older drones and the guardsmen, but we never asked. Because…” her voice trailed off.
“Because you were embarrassed,” Aascko gave her his kindest smile. “A seraglio, little mother, is the place where a ruling despot keeps his whores.”
“Whores? But the only people living here was some very old males. Though they didn’t seem like full males to me and Cat.”
Aascko spread his hands in a gesture of defeat and I took over. “Males can be whores too. Especially those who are neutered.”
Owl looked at me in dawning comprehension. “Oh,” she said and sat down plump on the floor. “Oh. Have I done a bad thing by assigning us these rooms?”
Aascko laughed. “Not by my way of thinking. The rooms are suitable so.”
“And no ladders to hinder Silver’s progress. You have done a good thing here, my sister, never think anything else.”
Owl leapt up and threw herself into my arms. “I so love you Aaspa,” she sobbed. “Nobody never had a better nest sister.”
I gave her a hug and a little shake. “I love you too. But for now how about we get moved in before the imps become impossible to handle.”
Aascko growled and Branwen arrived, almost as if it had been awaiting this signal. It carried Silver on one narrow shoulder and Owl, Tiger and Puma trailed a little nervously in its wake. 
Predictably it was Owl who summed up the situation. “Mother,” he said in his gruffest tones as he came to lean against my leg. “We was worried about moving here. But is just like Home. Only not got ladders.”
I bent to pick him up. “It is Home now. And I’m sure we will all live happily here.”
Puma stood in the middle of the entrance space turning slow circles as she surveyed her new home. After the third turn she smiled lighting her delicate fairylike features with impish glee.
“Owl says true,” she declared. “Me likes.”
Tiger absentmindedly scratched at his itching wing buds and regarded his new home from beneath the beginnings of brow ridges. “Me likes too,” he declared in as deep a voice as he could manage.
Puma slapped his wrist. “Not scratch. Might damage wings.”
Sensing an imminent sibling fight I opened the door behind which common sense dictated the eating place would be. I was right, so I cocked my head at the rest of the family who followed me in – including Branwen, who looked a bit shy but was being inexorably dragged along by a determined Puma.
Inside the eating place a veritable feast awaited us, as did Small Cat, Papa, and my motley selection of brothers. 
Once the imps were provided with brimming plates of unsuitable delicacies the rest of us stood around eating snacks and drinking fermented fruit juice. 

Jane Jago

You can read the full adventures of Aaspa and her imps in Aaspa’s Eyes and Aaspa’s Imps.

Granny’s Life Hacks – Parenting

Saddle up your ears Yummies and Daddies. Granny has wisdom to impart.

And before you pull your mouth into the shape of a cat’s arsehole you might just take a moment to think about which of us has grandsons who come and take her to the pub most Saturday nights.

So then, given that somewhere in the back of that cesspool of middle-class inspirational quotes that you laughingly call a brain you want to raise reasonable human beings who actually like you, shut up and listen.

Number one. The name. Do. Not. Saddle. The. Poor. Little. Git. With. A. Stupid. Name. Nobody deserves to be called Avocado, Pinot Grigio, Venice, Perpendicular, or any other meaningless collection of syllables you think may be ‘different’. Kids don’t want to be different. It’s bad enough that you bring them to school on a tandem without labelling them as wankers as well. Give the poor little sod a sensible name and stop being precious.

Number two. Social media. Stop posting pictures of your kids. It’s unkind. It’s boring. And those pictures will follow them throughout their lives. What may be cute when you are three is just fucking embarrassing when you’re forty.

Number three. The birthday party. Do not make strange brown poo-textured food.  Do not think it would be cute to lead an expedition into the woods to find the Bear (a poorly disguised Daddy). And do not put rice cakes and miso in the party bags. Take them to MaccyD’s (other fast food outlets are available) and buy party bags from your local cheapo shop. 

And if your little treasure is invited to a party Do Not, send him or her with a list of the things they are not allowed to eat. Accept that they will chow down on something foully synthetic. It isn’t every day so get over it.

Number four. Friends. You cannot choose your children’s mates for them. They don’t want to be friends with four vegetarians and a refugee. The want to be best mates with the big bully so he don’t bully them, and they really, really like the kid with nits who swears like a stormtrooper. Get used to it.

And finally. If their little friend comes to tea (or supper if you are a poncey bitch), do sausages and chips with tomato ketchup. No. Not quinoa and tofu salad with brown pitta (aka warm cardboard). Sausages (can be veggie at a pinch), and chips. Bury your prejudices for the sake of your kid not getting the crap kicked out of them tomorrow at school… 

There you have it. Attempt not to embarrass your brats any more than you can help. After all you’ll be old and incontinent one day and you really don’t want your ass wiped with a pan scourer.

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Forty

Ella was angry. More angry than she had ever been in her life. How dare they? How dare her mother and her ugly-minded friends come here bearing rumour and spite? 

She pummelled the bread dough with her small work-roughened hands and slowly regained her composure.

By the time the black door opened, the house was full of good smells and Ella was just lifting a pastry lid onto a deep dish of apples and cinnamon.

Tom came and nuzzled the back of her neck. He looked at the evidence of an afternoon’s baking.

“Your mam been here again?”

©️jj 2020

Coffee Break Read – The Small Supergeek

I cooked a full English and as we sat wiping our plates with thick brown toast he raised an eyebrow.
“Can I ask you a geek question?”
“Don’t see why not.”
“What do you know about artificial intelligence?”
“Depends what you mean by artificial intelligence. On one level I’m the best there is. On other levels I neither know nor want to. So, if you are counting computers and games consoles as AI then I don’t suppose there is too much I don’t know. But if we are into the realms of androids and the like I know nothing, and that’s too much.”
“Why? What’s the difference?”
“A lot. But mostly it’s that computers need operators. Droids don’t. I mistrust AI with any kind of autonomy.”
He frowned at me. “Yeah, but they wouldn’t have free will. Surely they would only be able to do what they were programmed to do?”
“Maybe. But I know a lot of smegging flaky programmers… Look Aidan there’s no guarantees with any form of AI. So why give it arms and legs and stuff? I had a robotic foot once, and every so often the bar-steward would go feral on me. Made me think.”
“Surely there’s the first law of robotics.”
“Isn’t. That’s sci fi. We live in the real world not Isaac Asimov’s world. Plus. What has been programmed can be reprogrammed. Give me ten minutes with an android’s chip and I’m pretty sure I could have it do whatever I pleased, and it ain’t even my field. Bad shit!”
He grinned. “So my dream of a sexy android nurse who never needs a day off, and never has a period, is just a dream then?”
Good recovery boy, I thought, as I pasted a snarl on my face. “Only you could be such a bumhole.”
“Me and just about every other doctor under the age of ninety.”
I laughed and waved a hand at him “Finish your food and go away. I have work.”
“What sort of work?”
“Somebody in Nagasaki wants to build a supertanker, unfortunately there’s a big fat hole in their proposal, and a big fat bonus if I can drive a bus through that hole. I’m about halfway there.”
He grinned again. “It ain’t the bonus, though, is it?”
“Course it ain’t. It’s the challenge. The money is just a way to keep score.”

From Jackdaw Court by Jane Jago.

Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors. Part XXIV

…. or ‘How To Speak Typo’ by Jane Jago

aoid (noun) – egg-shaped monocellular organism that smells faintly of vomit

atke (noun) – bright orange sandwich filling that smells suspiciously like yesterday’s dinner mushed with a fork

babry cream (noun) – ointment for under tit soreness

chouce (adjective) – of chocolate brownies the squidgiest most delicious bit

Freake Dout (proper noun) small Appalachian village famous for sourdough whiskey and revolting cheese

frysrtarting (verb) – heating up  the chip pan in preparation for frying pop tarts

hubting (noun) – the sound of a very expensive alloy wheel graunching against the pavement

hysical (adjective) – of teenage girls  in particular being in the state where hysteria is going to have them lash out any second

migth (noun) – small buzzing insect with a powerful sting. Lives on fish cakes and Irn Bru

papberback (noun) – male gorilla with identity issues

pepict (adjective) – having the colouration and texture of the cheeks of a person about to projectile vomit

remmeberd (noun) – spectacularly unkempt facial hair

serices (noun) – speciality rice dishes from south-east Asia

shepherherds pir (noun) – a small light that can only be brought on by chasing shepherds past it

thinng (noun) – the sound a flexible knife blade makes when flicked against a glass chopping board

trilogoes (noun) – a company or brand utilising three logos

withing (verb) – being wriggling and wormlike and prone to self-adhesion

Disclaimer: all these words are genuine typos defined by Jane Jago. The source of each is withheld to protect the guilty.

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Thirty-Nine

Jenry chuckled a fat chuckle that went with his snowy beard and generous belly.

“Sup big man?”

“Them lot is looking for aliens. Again.”

“But they don’t see us?”

“They ain’t yet and we been here since before they crawled out of the fragging water.”

Jenry’s wife put aside her knitting. “Do we want them to notice us?”

“Well… I guess…”

“It’d be a lot of work, calling home planet and all that stuff, and I haven’t nearly finished this jumper.”

“You’re right missis. Better to be thought of as garden gnomes than to communicate with the horrid pink things.”

©️jj 2020

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