Thursday, 29 September 2011

First times, second attempt

I already did one entry for Jeff's First Time one, but there was an obvious second story that needed telling.

First times

Ahhh Paris, the city of love. Or is that Amsterdam, with its Red-light district? I spent some time in Paris and there was this girl I liked. The price seemed a bit steep, but it was my first time and I wanted to try it. It was good, but over so quickly. If I am honest, that was my first time, but it doesn’t really count, does it?

Like any young adult, I was curious. I tried it a lot on my own, but it wasn’t very fulfilling that way. It’s not the same if you do it by yourself, so I don’t really classify all those fumbling attempts as my first time.

Occasionally I tried it in a group... the booze flowing, everyone laughing and reaching, hands all slimy. That too was fun, but it still didn’t seem right. Everyone else was having a great time, but something still seemed wrong to me.

The first time I did it properly was only recently. The setting made all the difference. We’d gone up-market, the furnishing were much better than usual, and the light was subdued yet flattering. My wife and I were impatient for it to begin... looking across as each other giggling and laughing.

Slowly, we shed outer layers. My wife proffering hers to my waiting mouth. I took it in - savoring it - rolling it over my tongue. I returned the favour, sporting an impish smile. She pulled back playfully but then looked at me in horror... “Yuck! That isn’t how you do do it Silly! That part of it is dirty, it is full of of shit! Disgusting! Throw that away, this is how you eat ốc!”

So finally, after many years I finally ate ốc  the way it is meant to be. It tastes much better now that I know you don’t get every little bit out and stick it in your gob. A good three quarters of it is grit, shell and fecal matter that is crunchily unpleasant. And there I was thinking I didn’t have a very refined palate and I was missing something.

OK ốc is a generic catch-all term for most shellfish, and a bunch of them I had eaten long before coming to Vietnam. And the snails in France were different again. But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

First Times

This has been sitting around for a while, needing a last couple of sentences and a once-over to check for editing. Jeff said about doing a first time story, and two ideas leapt out at me. This was the first, my first day of teaching. Especially since Amazing Superpowers did such a great cartoon of it (which I also redid, for one of their competitions... my version is after the story).


 Nature. The Great Outdoors. The countryside. I’m so not a fan. Nature is just a euphemism for being amongst hordes of biting and stinging insects with no electricity. The Great Outdoors aren’t. Sure, I like building a sandcastle at the beach, but that’s the extent of it. And as for the countryside, I like towns and cities. Chickens should be frozen or deep fried, not covered in feathers and clucking. So it seemed to be counter-intuitive when I applied to the Northern Territory for work. But not really, as if I had tried getting a teaching job back in Canberra or near where I’d gone to Uni, I’d be unlikely to get anything permanent, and I was too lazy for the extra effort that is incorporated into relief teaching - plus I wanted a steady income. Besides, my parents had met in a small town in the NT, so how bad could it be?

It turns out it can be pretty bad. It didn’t take long for me to be offered a job via email. I tried looking it up on a halfway decent map... no dice. I had to write back for some more information so I could locate it. It turned out the school they were suggesting for my first teaching gig was a one teacher, multi-age and class school in the middle of the Simpson desert. I’d be the teacher, principal, and do all the paperwork, in a small, dry (as in no alcohol!) aboriginal community. I know taking that would be setting myself up for failure, and knocked them back, knowing that would put my name on the bottom of the list of applicants. Bummer.

Luckily though, the list of applicants was humourously short, and within a fortnight, I was offered another job, this time in a town called Borroloola. At least I’d heard of this town before, and the school and the town sounded OK. A lot of our friends got phone calls for job interviews while playing Quake, and the same happened to me, an auspicious sign so I thought. In hindsight though, when we were in our rooms we were either playing Quake or asleep, so I guess it wasn’t that surprising really. The interview with the principal went well, and I accepted the position he offered me at the end.

I had a farewell to civilisation party with all my mates, and headed up north. I met the other teachers at the local pub, and told them I was into reading, computer games and a bit about myself. Little did I know they opened a book on how long I’d stay, with the longest bet being a week (I showed them, by sticking it out for three years).

The first day of my first teaching job, I handed out what I thought was a quite reasonable test to my 4/5 class, to gauge their ability, starting out with half a butterfly and the instruction to finish the picture by completing the other side along the axis of symmetry. A few hands shot up, and I was getting ready to answer the question “What does symmetry mean?” Instead the kid asked me how to spell his name. He wasn’t the only one. I sighed, and collected the tests, reeling back my expectations. Instead, I picked a picture book at random and started to read. It was called Toby, and was about a dog, a golden retriever. Page one: This is Toby, my dog. Page two: Toby died yesterday. It continued on, a sad paean singing the praises of a little boy’s pet. I think I was in tears by page 5.

As a first time, it wasn’t great. But really, isn’t that what you want? For something to suck badly at the beginning, so each day is an improvement... no sense peaking too early.

 I did a hidden comic for this one (like many of the ASP ones, done lightly in blue) but they didn't post it when I got a commendation, so I guess it didn't make the grade.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Friday again, and another micro flash fiction. Use 3 of the 5 seed words: enzyme, ivy, bishop, blister, lollipop and do it in 100 words. I picked ivy, enzyme and blister. 100 on the dot.


To: Lab07
From: Backer3
Initial tests of batch 208-P show promise. Proceed to stage 4.

To: Backer3
From: Lab07
Acknowledged. Resulting enzymes in 208-P have been cross-pollinated then introduced to a selection of plants... ivy, rhododendrons, gladioli and holly. Awaiting further results.

To: Lab07
From: Backer3
The administration is getting antsy - it looks like funding could be rescinded any moment. Speed it up, skip animals... go straight to human trials. Repeat, begin human trials immediately.

To: Backer3
From: HandlerCrew
Problem has been liquidated. Minimal injuries our end. A few cases of slight blistering after contact. Handler Crew standing down.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Flash Fiction: Bloodfeud

The entry for this week is just a wee little tacker, only meant to be 100 words at most on the topic of revenge. I'll shut up now so the into can be shorter than my entry.

Like a pack of inhuman monsters they had attacked us, howling for blood and death. Terrible to behold, and without pity. They had driven families from ancestral homes and put them to the torch, slain elderly and those who could not protect themselves. A blight ravaging the countryside. A stand had to be made. 

I waited, late one night, reduced to skulking in the shadows. After closing time in the tavern I approached a wine-sotted reveller. “The Count sends his blessings to you and your village!” I whispered as I sunk my fangs into his neck.