Tales From The Town #172: Returns

“Mum! Mum! Dad’s back!”

“In his cave?”

“No! He lives above a chip shop now,” said Ethel.

“Which one?”

“All of them!” Daniel said excitedly.

“Well, isn’t that nice,” Agnes said. “Even if it doesn’t make much sense. At least hopefully this means you don’t think I killed him anymore.”

“We never thought that, Mum,” Tina said.

“It was Claire that thought that!” Ethel said.

“We didn’t believe her for a second,” Daniel said. “Not one! Or two! Or three! Or – ”

“Where is Claire, anyway?” Agnes asked.

“Oh she’s still shouting at Dad,” Tina said.

“Good for her,” Agnes said.

“She’s shouting so loud not even chips will calm her down,” Ethel said.

“Or ice cream,” TIna added.

“Or chips!” said Daniel.

“Or smoothies!”

“Or chips!

“How many portions of chips can one girl eat?” Agnes wondered.

“A lot,” Tina said. “Especially when she’s angry.”

“She was going to demand a cheeseburger next,” Ethel said.

“Which was when we thought we should come home and tell you she’s already had her tea.”

“Well, at least someone’s enjoying herself,” Agnes said. “I hope she let you three have something to eat too?”

“We had ice creams,” said Tina.

“But only one,” said Ethel, possibly a little too quickly.

“And chips!” Daniel added, dreaming of chips.



1. Written on May 29th, 2024

Tales From The Town #170: An Agnes FAQ

Q. Mum, is it okay if we ask you some questions?
Agnes: Of course it’s okay. Is this for school?
Q. We’re compiling a dossier.
A. That sounds a bit ominous.
Q. Don’t listen to Claire, Mum. We’re just making an FAQ.
Q. It’s for our website!
A. I didn’t know you had a website, Daniel.
Q. We do!
Q. We don’t.
Q. We will.
Q. We won’t!
Q. Claire?!
Q. What? I’m just being honest here.
Q. But now Daniel’s going to get upset.
Q. Good.
Q. And Mum’s going to get suspicious.
Q. Good!
A. That doesn’t sound good.
Q. It’s going to be fine, Mum.
Q. We just want to know what you like. You know, like what’s your favourite book, that sort of stuff.
A. Well, that’s a relief. I thought maybe I was in trouble about something.
Q. You better tell the truth!
A. Well, yes Claire, of course I’ll tell the truth. Why wouldn’t I tell the truth?
Q. Because–
Q. Claire…
Q. Oh right, yeah. Well, just remember, Mum, anything you say can and will be used against you at a later date.
A. What exactly is it you think I’ve done wrong, Claire?
Q. I’m not answering that!
A. Why not?
Q. Because we’re asking the questions here, not you, Mum.
Q. Claire!
Q. Well we are!
Q. Go on then, ask her something.
Q. Why don’t you ask her something?
Q. This was your idea, Claire. We thought you had loads of questions. That’s what you said.
Q. Yeah, well I’m waiting for the right moment to spring them on her for maximum effect.
Q. Maximum defect more like.
Q. Shut up Ethel! Just ask her one of your stupid easy questions about her stupid favourites to lull her into a sense of false security!
A. I can hear you all, you know. I’m not deaf.
Q. Just stupid!
A. Claire!
Q. Well you are. Stupid AND guilty! I’m going to prove it! With our questions and your answers!
Q. And then we’re going to publish it on our website!
Q. There’s not actually a website, Daniel.
Q. Ohhh….


Q. Who’s your favourite poet, Mum?
A. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe Byron. Shelley? You know, I’m not sure I actually have a favourite poet.
Q. No one has a favourite poet.
Q. I do. My favourite poet is Lorca.
Q. No one cares who your favourite poet is, Tina. These questions are for Mum.
A. Well, I care.
Q. Urgh, you would.
A. Maybe we should have a poetry night…
Q. Maybe you should answer the question!
A. I already answered the question.
Q. Does that mean I can ask a question now? Can I? Please?
Q. No. You’ll only ask something stupid.
A. Of course you can ask a question now, Daniel.
Q. Hooray!
Q. Urgh…


Q. If you could be an emotion, which emotion would you be?
Q. See? I told you!
A. That’s a good question. Hmmmm, kindness maybe.
Q. That’s not an emotion. That’s an action.
A. Well, love then. That’s an emotion, right?
Q. Yeah. A rubbish one.
A. There’s no need to be so grumpy, Claire.
Q. There is. Daniel’s question doesn’t even make any sense.
A. Well, I liked it. So what emotion would you all be? Daniel?
Q. I’d be a daydream!
Q. I’d be thoughtfulness.
Q. I’d be whatever emotion annoys Claire the most!
Q. Yeah, well I’d be vengeance. Or victory. Or violence!
A. I’m pretty sure they’re not emotions either, Claire.
Q. More of an emotion than stupid old kindness. Or love. Love’s a waste of everyone’s time.
A. That’s a very cynical attitude for one so young.
Q. You’d be cynical if your dad was dead and still kept sending you postcards full of nonsense just to remind you he was gone, Mum.
A.I suppose I would be. But, look, I’m not sure your father is dead, Claire. He’s just grossly irresponsible. You’re right to be angry with him.
Q. Are you angry with him, Mum?
A. Sometimes.
Q. Angry enough with him for you to think he deserves to be dead?
A. What? No, of course not. Mostly I’m just disappointed with him.
Q. Because that’s how angry I am with him!
A. Aw, Claire, you shouldn’t let it upset you this much.
Q. I should. Anyway, who cares about me. Quick, someone ask the next question!


Q. What’s your favourite colour, Mum?
Q. What sort of question is that, Ethel?
Q. A good one.
Q. No it’s not. It’s an awful one. We’re supposed to be getting Mum to confess, remember? How’s that going to help us?
A. Wait, what exactly is it you want me to confess to?
Q. No asking us questions, Mum. We’re already told you that! Just answer the ones we ask.
A. Well in that case, my favourite colour is cerulean.
Q. Wow! That’s an excellent answer!
Q. It is not.
Q. It is. Cerulean!
Q. It is so much fun to say. Cerulean!
Q. It’s just a word, Daniel. It’s not even a colour. She totally just made it up out of her own head and you all know it.
Q. She did not. It’s totally a colour.
Q. Yeah, great. Who cares? Now it’s time for my questions!


Q. What’s your favourite book, Mum?
A. Wuthering Heights.
Q. What’s your favourite film?
A. Er, It’s A Wonderful Life maybe?
Q. What’s your favourite book that’s also a film?
A. I, wait, does it have to be a good book that’s also a good film, or can it just be a good book and any old film?
Q. What’s your favourite book that’s also a film that you’ve seen at the cinema?
A. I-
Q. What’s your favourite book that’s also a film that you’ve seen at the cinema in the park last summer when it caught on fire so we never saw the end of the film?
A. Well, that’s a very specific question, Claire. I think we all know the answer to that.
Q. So you admit you were there that night.
A. Of course I admit I was there that night. We all were.
Q. We watched Captain Crabclaw And The Mermaid Princess’s Favourite Merman’s Favourite Captain!
Q. That’s not relevant Daniel. And it wasn’t even called that! But what is relevant is that Dad was there as well. That’s right, isn’t it, Mum?
A. Er, probably. He is quite into mermaids.
Q. So you were there and he was there. Well, there you go. I rest my case!
A. What case?
Q. The case that you murdered Dad!
A. Oh that case.
Q. See? She admits it! I told you she’d done it! And I told you I’d prove it! And she did and I have!
Q. I don’t think she did do it, Claire.
Q. And I’m pretty certain you haven’t proved it.
Q. I have. And she did. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
A. Can I, er, ask a question?
Q. No!
Q. Yes.
Q. Urgh, go on then.
A. Why exactly do you think I’ve killed your father, Claire?
Q. Because no one else could be bothered!
A. Oh. Well, that’s quite bleak, isn’t it?


Q. Where are you going, Mum? Hey! Where’s Mum going?
Q. Don’t ask us, Claire.
Q. These questions are supposed to be for her.
Q. For the website!
Q. There isn’t going to be a website, Daniel!
Q. Ohhh….
Q. I can’t believe she ran away like that.
Q. She ran away like that because you upset her, Claire.
Q. I didn’t even get to congratulate her.



1. Written on May 24th, 2024 and May 28th, 2024

Tales From The Town #169: Bank Holiday Monday (Reprise)

“I can’t believe we don’t have to go to stupid school today!” Claire exulted. “On a Monday! That’s never happened before! Ever!”

“It literally happened earlier this month, Claire,” Tina sighed.

“No it didn’t,” said Claire.

“On May Day,” Ethel remarked.

“We only had Monday off then,” Claire said, bolstering her earlier argument with facts, even if they contradicted previous arguments she might well have presented before. “Now we’ve got the whole week off.”

“Like at Easter,” said Daniel, nodding knowledgeably (and also enthusiastically). “When it happened twice.”

“Shut up, Daniel,” said Claire. “Everyone just shut up. Don’t even try and spoil this!”



1. Written on Monday 3rd, 2024

Tales From The Town #168: Time

In the cities they say time flows like a river. But out here it resembles a lake. Still and calm, depths undisturbed since ages past, yet visible still to anyone who dares to peer beneath the surface.

Don’t look down and all that history’s barely even there.


1. Written in May 2023