WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MEANING?
“He’s got no faloorum, fol-diddle-dol-day
Maids when you’re young, never wed an old man”
Meaning is like faloorum.
Life has no meaning, old men no faloorum.
He's lacking in meaning fol-diddle-dol-day.
He's got no faloorum, he's meaningless too-rum.
Maids when you're young never ask an old man.
♪ If there’s no meaning no meaning has meaning. ♪
So all is fine because life has no meaning
and nothing has meaning, not meaning itself.
It’s no loss for life to be lacking in something
that has no meaning when lack of a meaning
is the lack of a nothing, by definition,
and the lack of a nothing is no lack at all.
Photos: Billboards apparently advertising Day of the Flying Leaves and New Short Stories 12
I mostly follow behind the kids as their father leads us over grass and bumpy paths in the countryside. We’re on an outing to somewhere. The small boy, knee-high to me, grows tired and stops. “Do you want me to give you a piggyback?” As he’s getting on, I hope I can remember how to do this. He’s actually taller than I thought, something like eleven year-old, can’t really get settled on. Then he’s gone altogether. I’m saying the boy is nowhere to be seen but they have disappeared around the edge of a hill. When I turn left by the hill, it’s our destination- a small sunny cove. The open water is far off to the right and featureless. Here the water is only ankle-deep, clear and floored with colourful stones. The family are on the small beach across the water, along with other groups already there. There is no other way, so I call over to my friend, “Am I supposed to walk across with bare feet?” He answers, “Yes, both of them.” I’m amused and think to myself, this is an excellent example of subtle humour.
Photo: A view across Kilkeran Lake with the surface reflecting mirror-like the blue sky, white clouds and rushes. On the far side there are farm fields with hedgerows and a homestead in the distance. (West Cork, 2001?)
EVERYONE IN THE STREET IS A GHOST
An elderly mother of ghosts
traipses the soggy winter path,
the lumpy concrete
of Shakespeare's stage,
In a side street,
ghosts walk alone in anoraks,
all going home from shops
they passed by without buying,
faceless to each other's backs.
Photo: Crowds of people, Piccadilly Circus, Christmas 2018, blurred night scene with glaring lights and pallid illuminated buildings
I AM WORDS
A room empty but for a teletype machine, sporadically producing words.
There's more in the words than there is in the room.
There's more in the words than there is in me.
There's nothing in me but words.
I am words.
Photo: Greenford Road this evening at lighting up time. Cars parked, leaving, passing by with their red tail lights, delivery bikes, shops, street furniture, lamppost lit up, litter, cloudy sky, people in the distance further down the path almost silhouettes etc.
A happy and peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah and general winter wingding to all who love short stories. This is our gift to you! Willesden Herald Short Story Competition 2022 Results and Book Launch
Who will take the coveted one-off Willesden Herald inscribed “The Willesden Short Story Prize 2022”? All will be revealed on the night. Plus ten cash prizes to the writers of the stories in New Short Stories 12. From The Performance Space, upstairs in The Library at Willesden Green.
Willesden Herald in association with Liars’ League presents THE WILLESDEN SHORT STORY PRIZE 2022
AWARDS Tuesday 8 November 2022 7 to 8:30 pm The Performance Space Willesden Green Library Admission: Free
PRESENTING Willesden Herald New Short Stories 12
Shoes by David Butler Remembering not Forgetting by Helen Harjak Vevey by Catherine McNamara Haircut by Andy Mead
I don’t know if I’ll keep on with it but I’ve set myself up on Mastodon. Initially, it was a lifeboat to get away from the sinking hellship that was Twitter under the neo-fascists’ blithering idiot Elon Musk. But I’ve since decided to keep all plates spinning for a while. Mastodon’s main advantage is not being swamped by computer-generated rubbish attempting to force-feed you paid advertising. But it is also much better for photos and text. You can see a whole photo by default, if you set your preferences not to clip them into a set space. You also have more space to write and read text, though the maximum length varies from server to server. So for example, even in the little “bio” where you say something about yourself, on Twitter I have to put this stilted version because of the space constraint:
I am an old Dubliner in London. Ex-coder. Atheist. Social Democrat. Remainer. Published poetry and fiction. Proud of my family and friends. Ed @WillesdenHerald.*
Whereas on Mastodon, I can elaborate -without going hog wild- and give a little more useful context, thus:
I am an old Dubliner in London. I edit the Willesden Herald blog, international short story competition and New Short Stories book series. In the past, I made a living as a database analyst/programmer, maintainer of websites, adept in a litany of technical things. I don’t believe in gods and I think religion is a load of hooey. Lifelong moderate Labour voter, virulent anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian, anti-theocracy. Rejoiner. I am proud of my family and friends. Peace to all of goodwill.*
Which server to choose? I really don’t know. I chose mastodon.ie just because it seems to be the default Irish one. Then again, anyone can setup a server and there’s nothing official about it. However, it does seem to have gathered some momentum. Others are .social, .green, .uk etc etc etc. Some you have to apply to, some are over-subscribed. You can move your account from one to another anyway, and you can view the entire “federated” newsfeed or the local server one or just your subscribed people and hashtags. Yes, Mastodon is better than Twitter. But hundreds of millions of users and long-established connections are already in stupid drug-addled Elon Musk’s sweaty hands. Nobody can buy Mastodon and take it over. It’s distributed and democratic unlike Twitter. I’d say, give it a try. You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket, keep your options open.
* I’ve since changed both to something very brief.
It was a very good night. Apologies for overrunning the time. Thanks to everyone who came and to Katy Darby and Claire Lacey for bringing the stories to life. Couldn’t have done any of it without the support of Liars’ League and Brent Libraries.