Week 23: Discomfortability

What—it’s not in your spell-checker’s dictionary?  Well, according to Squiffy, it’s the capability of stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s a characteristic of mountain climbers, lone yachts-men and women, epidural refuseniks and people with a lot of tattoos or piercings. Gnus have discomfortability, but hippopotamuses haven’t. (They’re rather stick-in-the mud.)

It’s probably not a good thing if taken to excess. However, as Squiffy once said (in a moment of reduced squiffiness): ‘If you’re not ready to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.’

Have you ever faced, voluntarily, a challenge you’d like to tell Squiffy about? Either successfully or as a learning experience?

Prompt by Colin.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com

Week 22: School Days

“At school they all stop and stare,
probably because I’m far too old to be there.”
“Leader of the Pack”
Julian Clary as the Joan Collins Fan Club

Now Squiffy doesn’t like to cause offence, but he’s guessing that for most Gnus, writing about school days will be a retrospective matter. There’s no problem with that of course, and many ways to approach the subject; with hindsight, or after dusting down those old diaries, fond anecdotes, or catharsis, your school days, or someone else’s…

Squiffy thinks this prompt could be a good workout for writing from all five senses, and communicating something that you remember vividly, but readers may not (except for Gnus who also had Mr Harbottle for woodwork; “the dogs, the dogs, the massive oaken dogs”)

You had to be there, well, you did for a few years anyway.
(from a suggestion by Peter King)

Picture Credit: Flickr Creative Commons- Rainy Day by frankieleon

Week 21: The Gods Next Door

Marie Phillips novel ‘Gods Behaving Badly’ imagined the gods of Olympus alive and well in the twenty-first century, but crammed together in a London townhouse – and none too happy about it. And they’ve had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.

Diana Wynne Jones novel ‘Eight Days of Luke’ connected Norse god quarrels and manoeuvres with contemporary life, giving Thor a leather-jacket gang in a pinball arcade and putting one-eyed Wutan in a business suit.

So what would it be like to have a god living with you in today’s world or next door in human form? What would the god think? Perhaps this, as written by Philip Levine https://goo.gl/Gs9B8A  Or perhaps the god is bemused by his country now, perhaps he’s your lover? – possibilities in this poem from a Native American perspective by Esther Belin https://goo.gl/f13W1G

So Squiffy, who knows a thing or two about Pan and other gods ( https://goo.gl/VlDWMS ), wants you to tell him about the god next door, or the one you live with. Just give him hints, say what you see or suspect. He wants to work out if he knows them.

Prompt by John Alwyine-Mosely

Picture Credit: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/

Week 20: Fascinating Ruins


The result of decay, chaos, conflict with nature, or mankind—is it dereliction or synthesis? At one level, this link, sent to Squiffy* by Vicky Hampton, offers a fascinating glimpse into a lost world.


Any one of these ten photos could be the basis for a poem. Partial destruction can reveal more secrets than were originally apparent. But what are the forces involved? What’s the story behind the changed state? Can ruination be creative? Even beautiful?


Week 19: The Peculiar Poetry of the Predictive Text

“First World Problems show up pretty clearly in the Savannah” Squiffy texted to his Admins, not thinking to look at the screen as his hooves charged across the keyboard. We weren’t offended with how it turned out, predictive text is a real randomiser. I’d recently wrote that I was looking forward to a floorspit at quite a highbrow poetry event, and regularly direct budget queries to our Fiancee Department.

So if you’re looking to try something (seething ?) different as a prompt, why not use predictive text ? Type something quickly, see what surreal nonsense the phone throws back at you, then write a poem starting with these lines, or inspired by them. This isn’t Squiffy contracting out his prompting muse to some madly misguided algorithm, more his fulfilling of a long held ambition to be the Brian Eno of the Serengeti (or Bono of the Settee as the text might see it …)

Prompt by Chris, from an idea by Fiona Thornton

Photo Credit- texting by Clif Burns (Fickr Creative Commons)

Week 18: Darkness

‘We know secrets, my dear, about dark places where dark things live and squirm and slither all over each other . . . , as Roald Dahl wrote in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.

Darkness must have some advantages. It helps us get a good night’s sleep, makes the stars seem brighter, and is a benefit for a fireworks party or a slide show. If ignorance is bliss then it follows that so is darkness. It’s a great habitat for Scandinavian detectives and BBC1 look-alike series. Hang on . . . Squiffy’s telling me something . . . ah yes, he’s particularly fond of dark antelopes.

But darkness is probably not good for people of a nervous disposition. What category do you fit into?

Prompt suggested by Fern.
Image credit: Public domain pictures (Sentinel of Darkness)

Week 17: Knowing How To Enjoy Yourself

You’re lucky if your day job brings you joy (see the monks in the picture). Otherwise, we should make time for some R & R. After all, recreation is re-creation. ‘All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl’, as someone once said. Activities you can pursue are many and various. A ‘Mirror’ article http://www.mirror.co.uk/…/15-strange-hobbies-around-world-7… listed 15 strange hobbies from around the world, as follows:

  1. Toy voyaging (you send your toys away for a holiday)
    2. Extreme ironing (e.g. while shooting white-water rapids)
    3. Competitive dog grooming (sounds almost normal)
    4. Mooing (competitors try to outdo each other with their impressions of a cow)
    5. Train surfing (40 people in Germany died in 2008 doing this)
    6. Car tattooing (Buddhist texts are preferred)
    7. News bombing (distracting individuals appear behind TV reporters)
    8. Collecting navel fluff (self-explanatory)
    9. Collecting ecstasy pills (dangerous and illegal)
    10. Collecting in-flight sick bags (there’s web-site for swapping these)
    11. Bug-fighting (on-line videos are available)
    12. Fork bending (best after a meal)
    13. Painting the largest ball of paint (heaviest so far is 3500 lb.)
    14. Hikaru Dorodango – this involves rolling mud into a ball, then methodically dusting it with soil, and repeating the process many times. It’s a popular children’s game in Japan, apparently.
    15. Soap carving – good for people who don’t like washing.

Tell Squiffy how YOU like to unwind after a hard day. Or what it is you would like to do!

Prompt by Colin
Picture from a postcard sent from Gansu province, P.R. China.