Monday, 16 August 2010

A little something to tide you over.

I really want to do a blog updating you on things like the John Green and Sons of Admirals gig that I went to on Saturday night and Friday's day on a dairy farm, and how I had two rather surprising internet encounters today. However, I was ill this morning and I still don't feel up to actually thinking enough to write a proper blog. Just be assured that they are coming.

Also, I was looking through some of the stuff I have on my phone and found a short story I wrote for GCSE coursework a couple of years ago. I've been meaning to extend it to a full length novel but I just haven't had the time. I never seem to have the time for such projects. Nevertheless, I thought I might share it with you on here and see what you think. =)

Life in the Real World
The mist swirled around the bottom of the lampposts and rats scuttled behind the bins as the occasional person passed by. The steady hum of air conditioning sounded from the back of an expensive restaurant only metres away, their faulty light flickering on and off. Pigeons cooed intermittently in the half-light of the steadily rising sun as it peeped through the gaps of the crowded buildings standing hand in hand. A gentle breeze sent an empty burger dish tumbling down the street before it got caught up in the wheels of an abandoned shopping trolley. The air carried the bitterness of a cold November morning causing Michael Smith to stir under his mud splashed blanket. His dreams had taken him far away into a world of translucent seas and pale yellow sand which emitted a golden yellow shine, almost eradicating the need for a sun.

A sudden, ear-splitting cry brought Michael abruptly out of his dreams. He suddenly sprang upright. Slowly staring around, Michael took in his surroundings. His jaw dropped. Thoughts ran through his head at Olympic speed: where? How? Why? Overwhelmed by confusion he held back the tears that were threatening to fall. Conflicting emotions raced through him. Michael’s thoughts wound their way back to yesterday. Only a few hours ago he had sunk down into the folds of a king size mattress, gently warmed by the throbbing of his central heating. He had fallen soundly asleep, safe behind the walls of his house. But where was it now? He knew one thing - he was no longer inside the walls of number ten Downing Street.

Shivering, Michael contemplated his possibilities. There was no point trying to get back home as no-one would recognise his unshaven face; he wouldn’t be able to get past the policemen anyway. He sighed. A deep rumble came from his stomach, reminding him of breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Sighing again, Michael pulled himself up to find something to eat. He was used to breakfast being delivered to him on a glistening tray: mug steaming and butter dripping off his toast. He began to walk off, grabbing the almost forgotten blanket as an afterthought. It may have smelt like a wet dog that had just been rolling in mouldy cheese but it was the only warmth he had. Slowly but steadily, Michael headed down the road, hoping for a glimpse of something edible. Nothing. Kicking at the empty burger dish, he sat down forlornly.

Unexpectedly, a half eaten sandwich flopped down on top of Michael’s moth-eaten blanket. Eagerly, he picked it up. He took a bite... Then another... Then another and another, relishing the joy of being able to eat until there was only a small piece left. Michael paused. Why was he eating this? As prime minister of the UK he deserved a proper meal. No off the street rubbish. What would the public think if they heard that their prime minister was eating off the street? He shrugged. What did it matter, that wasn’t important now; he wasn’t important now. Nobody cared who he was. Even the pigeons simply passed him by. Placing the last bite into his mouth, he leant back on the wall.

Michael scanned his rundown surroundings. He was still hungry and there was no place to be seen that could possibly provide his next meal, let alone anywhere to have a bath or shower. The only edible item had been eaten and the nearest to a bath was the half frozen puddle, winking at him as it caught the bright morning sunlight. A leaking pipe dripped and gurgled making a poor attempt at imitating a shower. As a prime minister he had lived a luxurious life: his own deluxe en suite, an unlimited food supply from a well-stocked kitchen, and a central heating system that kept him as warm as toast, specifically adjusted to the optimum temperature. He shivered in the cold November air as he reminisced on the cosy life he took for granted, just wishing to be back. There he was safe; there he was secure. Michael closed his eyes, willing the thinning blanket to change back to his warm duvet, the restaurant back door into his en suite door, the flickering light to the beautiful chandelier suspended over his bed. Opening first one eye, then the other revealed, once again, the stained walls down the alleyway where he was sitting. Deflated, Michael heaved himself up off the chewing gum covered tarmac and onto his feet. He flexed his toes in his torn boots. There was no turning back; he would have to live as a beggar for now.

As Michael strode down the alley, onto the street, he was surprised at their state: he thought that all parts of London were as pristine as his. Old chewing gum scattered the pavement, black and circular; and the pigeons made sure that in no other place could the tarmac even consider peeping through. Empty beer bottles lay broken where their drunken owners had thrown them before wobbling on their way back to wherever they considered home. Graffiti blanketed the brick walls; the designs merged together to create a montage of gang names and abuse. As Michael stepped onto the main street, the signs of vandalism did not stop. Passing telephone box after telephone box, he questioned why the youth enjoyed turning the glass into a glistening sea with waves sharp enough to draw blood. Kicking his way through the cans which outnumbered the few autumn leaves, Michael made his way to a busy spot where he could try and beg for money: It was his only hope for any lunch.

On his way, Michael wondered what he could do. There was no violin for him to play, and certainly no piano. He tried to remember what he had seen other beggars doing when he had passed them by before. Most had been playing an instrument or selling The Big Issue; he could do neither. Michael dug his hands deep into his pockets. As he did so, he felt something small and cold at the bottom of one of them. Lifting the round object out caused it to glisten in the sun: There had been a five pence piece in his pocket. The money gave him a new idea. Grabbing an empty Starbucks’ cup off the floor, he almost ran to find somewhere to sit.

Finally, Michael decided to sit himself opposite a busy restaurant: he hoped that if he acquired enough money he might be able to buy something from there a little later on. Placing the cup upside-down on the ground in front of him, Michael started to perform some magic tricks with the five pence coin. He placed it under the cup, removed it without anyone noticing whilst saying magical words then removed the cup to reveal that it was no longer there. He repeated it again and again. People walked past without a sideways glance: a teenager on a well used skateboard; an old lady with snow white hair on her mobility scooter; a mum pushing her baby in a spotlessly clean pram; a young dad holding on tight to his little boy’s hand. Not a penny. He tried a different trick. Turning the cup upside down, he placed the coin on top, then, proceeded to thump the top to pretend to send the coin through the top into the cup. The cup snapped. A gang of boys shouted at him and laughed. The lady behind them took pity and threw him a few coppers. Dejectedly, Michael threw the dilapidated cup towards an overflowing bin. It landed on an empty sandwich case before slipping out again.

Michael felt despondent about his failure; the prospect of dinner seemed to be as far away as the wispy clouds, passing overhead. Staring optimistically across the road, he sniffed at the delicious smells radiating from the restaurant. He tried to close his eyes and escape from the world he had been slotted into, but his stomach rumbled loudly like a passing lorry, making sure his hunger wasn’t forgotten. Michael lifted himself off the hard ground and stretched his wooden legs. While pacing up and down to bring back the warmth to his icy body, a colourful sign caught his eye. Squinting, he read the almost illegible writing, “Karaoke Competition. Have you got what it takes?” The cogs in his mind clicked round and slotted into place. There was still a reason for hope; he would sing.

Michael began to sing. First a bit wobbly and then becoming stronger and stronger. Soon he was singing Beatles songs at the top of his voice. He hadn’t felt this free for years. All cares forgotten, escaping to a world that was just a distant memory. However, his songs fell on the ears of hard hearted listeners, his attempts at a cappella being returned only with disapproving looks. Yet Michael was oblivious to the discomfort he was bestowing on his unfortunate listeners.

Once again, Michael’s attempts at moneymaking attracted the attention of youths wandering the streets. Abuse drowned out the idealistic world of ‘The Yellow Submarine’ and brought him back down to reality with a thump. He changed the song, hoping that a different tune would cause them to be more sympathetic. He was wrong. Youths ganged around, trying to intimidate him. Jeering encircled him, leaving no clear path of escape. Then the spitting started. It rained down on him, yet the youths still managed to get the odd punch in between. They kicked his shins while the short, sharp punches aimed at his chest. Michael could feel the bruises growing; the red and purple spread over his skin like an infectious disease. He wished for an end. He wished for a way to get out of this madness. It seemed there was no way to end the shower of abuse raining down on him from all sides. He was helpless. His mind felt detached as it wandered away from the situation his body was stuck in. His mind thought back to the time Michael was a prime minister. It had only been yesterday but it seemed like last year. The naïveté of his actions for the homeless in the past. If only he had realised the extent of their troubles. They were not just a nuisance: poor people who couldn’t work or even pay for their own food. The homeless have no other choice but to beg. They were not the ones causing the crime all the time but more often than not the victims; the victims of abuse and violence. The sound of a police siren jolted his mind back to his body in time to see the youths scatter and scuttle away in their little groups. Reality kicked in. Bruises painted his body and his skin throbbed with pain. Michael heaved himself upright and curled into himself like a tortoise. The mere thought of lunch seemed to be in the past.

Cautiously, Michael looked up at the sound of scraping chairs across the road and the diminishing giggles of young children. Catching a glimpse of uneaten food, he stood his battered self up and, weaving his way through the crowds, he headed towards the restaurant tables. Three plates of uneaten, cold chips greeted him. Before the waiters noticed him, the food was swept into his arms and Michael headed back to find a quiet place to sit. Finding a sheltered alleyway, he sat down and devoured the cold chips.

After his considerably late lunch, Michael let his thoughts wander back over his day. Thinking back made him realise how helpless beggars and the homeless really were and how much help they needed. His eyes began to droop as he meandered through ways that might help the homeless if he ever got back until eventually he fell back into a deep sleep.

A rhythmical beep woke Michael from his slumbers the next morning. Opening his eyes warily, expecting a greeting from a brick wall, he stared around in amazement. The alleyway of late yesterday afternoon had gone, leaving in its place the familiar walls of ten Downing Street. Back were all the expensive privileges of being prime minister and gone were the murky streets of London. Michael leapt out of bed. Slipping on his warm slippers, he skipped down the stairs to call a meeting of parliament. He had a new proposal to make...

“I, Mr Michael Smith, as prime minister of the United Kingdom, would like to propose that more money should be given towards helping the poor and homeless to help get them off the street. They are people just like you or I and deserve the same treatment.”

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