Author Topic: Coffee Morning  (Read 19802 times)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #90 on: April 05, 2014, 03:12:54 PM »
Coffee Morning


She sighed as the message ended. Valerie couldn’t provide what she needed. Besides, the question was silly, Valerie knew May [not sure how to differentiate between 'she; if I used it -- seemed to me it would refer to 'Valerie'  . . .  any suggestions?]  would never impose, be a burden to her. Ah, well, best I get on with things. May tried to straighten and pushed against the chair back as she reached for her walking frame.

I read the paragraph above as May's thoughts. If I'm right - I have to ask, would she think of herself as May in this context?


The rest of the morning she grappled with getting dressed, opted for wide band pop socks rather than tights. They snagged on her corns and clung to her bunions but slipped over the thick blue worms on her calves. Next, a petticoat to prevent static. May plonked on the bed and swung her legs to get them through the hole, grabbed her Zimmer to stand and shimmied the slinky fabric over her ample hips. No knickers – too fussy when you have to pull up a skirt and pull down a pair of panties on a high-seated toilet aid. Saves time. Much easier to clean yourself afterwards too. No brassiere either – the straps cut my shoulders. Hooks – impossible to do up on your own. May settled on a camisole and jiggled her sagging breasts into an acceptable shape. Pert was in the past.

Just a nit-pick. Were it me, I would put the skirt on first and then the slip . . . if it is a half-slip that is. Much easier to start from the outside in when they are pull on. I think her trying to wriggle into the slip -- to get it over her ample hips -- would be easier as a first task, besides, she is trying to follow order. :-\

Thus she proceeded with her endeavours to complete the task of adding top layers to underwear with small breaks between each garment to recover from the effort.

This sentence confused me, you mentioned the slip and later you say she chose to forgo panties and bra. So what other underwear would she be adding?
I suppose the socks and camisole as they are 'underneath'. . . .  :-[

<snip>

The doorbell rang. May pressed the button to release the security catch and Valerie breezed through. May smiled. “Hello. You look lovely, darling.”

"May" twice in one sentence? Again -- differentiating between 'she' could cause a problem. I suppose I could rearrange it with the speech first followed by She smiled to massage out the second May. ;)

Thanks, Alice -- all helpful input as usual. Cheers. ;)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #91 on: April 05, 2014, 03:13:50 PM »
Hmm? Story--crit--story--poem. You're a sly vixen aren't ya? ha ha. Love the re-work, and the poem that follows. xbx

Thanks, Bri' just trying to work it. :D

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #92 on: April 05, 2014, 03:15:33 PM »
An' yoah doin' a fahhn jab, missy." ha ha.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #93 on: April 05, 2014, 03:17:02 PM »
 :D :D :D :D Why, thank you, kind sir. :)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #94 on: April 05, 2014, 03:21:40 PM »
Quote
She sighed as the message ended. Valerie couldn’t provide what she needed. Besides, the question was silly, Valerie knew May [not sure how to differentiate between 'she; if I used it -- seemed to me it would refer to 'Valerie'  . . .  any suggestions?]  

Well, when if I were thinking something similar, it would probably be something like: "Valerie knows I would never impose . . .  or, Valerie should know I would . . . "

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #95 on: April 05, 2014, 03:28:06 PM »
Cheers, m'dear. Shall steal and apply. ;D ;D ;D

cmb

  • Guest
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #96 on: April 05, 2014, 03:35:05 PM »
Reading and re-reading. Something doesn't work for me here, but I can't put my finger on it. Very annoying for me, and worthless to you as well.  :-\

OK, I'll just go ahead and try to tell you what stood out to me at first read.

Dialogue: I like how you've worked Carole into the story, but her dialogue sounds off to me. Not by much, but just enough to throw me out of the story.

This sentence: "Valerie knew May would never impose, be a burden to her" makes me stop. You're repeating yourself. I'd go for either impose or be a burden, but not both. Tighten it up.

Oh... I guess that's what's bothering me: Your writing isn't tight enough to my taste. Then again, it probably does suit your MC, so it's probably just me.

Another quibble: It seems to me you're messing up your tenses a bit now, going back and forth between past and present.

Sorry to sound negative. I don't mean to be. I do like the story, but I'd just rather see it written tighter. Much tighter.

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #97 on: April 05, 2014, 03:46:16 PM »
Thanks Nel -- the confusion is probably because I haven't italicised internal thoughts -- they're in present tense, the rest is in past. Guess it didn't work for you -- and yes, the mc would ramble and rander slightly. I think tightening would make for a choppy read or lose the detail, which is an important part of showing what life holds for older, slower women. Part of the intent here is to have time moving slowly and the longer narrative style seems to do that job. May labours over the tasks and has to think things through before she tackles them in order to have the most efficient means for her. I wanted the reader to experience the time taken too. :-[

Carole's dialogue? She's May's home help and letting May know what's been done and if she wants anything else done in the time left to attend to her.

Thanks for the comments and your taking the time to come back to this.  ;) :)

Offline Dawn

  • Dawn
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9106
  • 'Kinky boobs? Really, well I never.'
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #98 on: April 05, 2014, 03:51:46 PM »
I'm just reading this now, but one thing that struck me straight away was about her stooping over the phone. My gran does this, she would shuffle with her walking frame to the phone and then answer. I don't think she would have to push against a chair to reach the frame. Maybe have her hold onto the table and then reach for the frame.
I might not be explaining myself, but anyone in need of a frame wouldn't have it so far out of reach to have to do this manoeuvre.

Right off to read the rest.
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #99 on: April 05, 2014, 03:55:44 PM »
Thanks Dawn -- just a different picture in our heads. My auntie's phone used to sit to the left of her chair on a table -- her chair would be in the way when she'd try to get to the phone if she was shuffling about, so the frame would be abandoned as she stooped across and tried to lift the receiver or press buttons. Then of course she'd have to steady and balance herself to grab the Zimmer again. Never found out the way to allow the phone to have more than six rings. :o

cmb

  • Guest
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #100 on: April 05, 2014, 03:59:55 PM »
Thanks Nel -- the confusion is probably because I haven't italicised internal thoughts -- they're in present tense, the rest is in past.

Ah, I see. That would explain it. Maybe it would be good to italicise internal thought? Avoid confusion?


Guess it didn't work for you -- and yes, the mc would ramble and rander slightly. I think tightening would make for a choppy read or lose the detail, which is an important part of showing what life holds for older, slower women. Part of the intent here is to have time moving slowly and the longer narrative style seems to do that job. May labours over the tasks and has to think things through before she tackles them in order to have the most efficient means for her. I wanted the reader to experience the time taken too. :-[

Hmmm, I see what you mean, but it doesn't work that way for me. What I did experience, is an older woman who's struggling to keep her head together. As if she's forgetting and fights the forgetfulness with everything that's in her.

I didn't experience time slowing. You won't be surprised to hear I'm slow. Much slower than I should be at my age. It's the EDS. I know what it feels like not to be able to lift a teapot. I know how much of a struggle it can be to get dressed. But that's it. I'm slow. Not incoherent.

Now, if you want May to coem across as a little incoherent, that's fine, but if not, than I think you've missed the mark.


Carole's dialogue? She's May's home help and letting May know what's been done and if she wants anything else done in the time left to attend to her.

I got that, but it's just that the dialogue sounded a bit forced to me.  :-\


Thanks for the comments and your taking the time to come back to this.  ;) :)

yw  :)

Offline Dawn

  • Dawn
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9106
  • 'Kinky boobs? Really, well I never.'
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #101 on: April 05, 2014, 04:07:39 PM »
In past tense now with additions. :-[


Coffee Morning


May stooped over the phone too ( this sounds too similar to stooped) late to pick up the call. Her daughter’s voice trilled. “Running late (you have late already) but I’m still coming. D’you need anything?”

She sighed as the message ended. Valerie couldn’t provide what she needed. Besides, the question was silly, Valerie knew May would never impose, be a burden to her. Ah, well, best I get on with things. May tried to straighten and pushed against the chair back as she reached for her walking frame. (This reads odd to me)

Carole popped her head through the doorway. “The éclairs should be thawed by the time Valerie comes, they don’t take long. And I’ve got the tray laid out for you. Maybe she’ll give you a hand with the teapot. The kettle’s full.”

May thought how heavy the kettle would be. “If you don’t mind, maybe just leave out the beakers and we’ll have coffee instead. The china ones with the honeysuckle( would she call then beakers if they are china whi pretty designs, sounds like best tea set)  We both drink it black.”

“Oh, okay. That’d be easier. I’ll just put this other stuff away. The dishes are done and the washing’s in the tumble drier now.”

“You are a pet, Carole.”

“Just doing my job, May.” Carole folded up her plastic apron. “Need anything to go in the bin?”

May waggled a hand. “All neat and tidy. Managed it myself last night.”

“Well, that’s me. Anything else before I go? I’ve five minutes left.”

Five minutes? Carole used time like a breeze and swept through tasks. A shake of the duvet, a pile of clothes lifted, dishes washed and put away, a quick run of the carpet sweeper . . . But five minutes offered nothing effective when your body absorbed time and the years dragged all the frittered minutes into any movement – a penance for taking it for granted. “No thanks, pet. You have a lovely weekend now.”

On her way through, Carole lifted a well-preserved copy of Vogue. “Funny how fashions come back isn’t it? They’re all doing their make-up like that now. I can never get the eye-liner right.” She set the magazine back on the pile. “Right, must be off to my next lady. See you, May.”

“That was –” But Carole had gone before May could tell her.

Need to look smart, show I’m not past it. I can cope on my own. Still got my marbles and I’m not incontinent, just a little slow. May reached for a hairbrush. She winced, convinced another ailment had come to accompany arthritic aches and rheumatic pains. Frozen shoulder – again? Doctors’ words, the physio’s words  ‘atrophy through disuse’. If she could shrug she would, but raised her brow instead. Soon be dead. Why bother? She shook her head, instantly regretted it and grasped the darned brush to fix her hair. A comb would be better but harder to clasp in a gnarly claw. (Don't think you need gnarly claw)

She tugged short, rough strokes, hoped they catch the matted tats, and pulled, eyes shut. Face screwed up, she refused to cry. After half an hour, strands unravelled now, she shuffled on her frame to the mirror. A clip would grip her fringe in the style when she was twenty. With one hand steadied on the basin she pinned the curl. Chin low, almost resting on her pigeon chest, her eyes rolled in her sockets as she guessed where the clip should go. Golly, it’s hard to do one-handed. Persistence paid off and a toothless grin smiled at the result. Ooh, must remember my dentures.

The rest of the morning she grappled with getting dressed, opted for wide band pop socks rather than tights. They snagged on her corns and clung to her bunions but slipped over the thick blue worms on her calves. Next, a petticoat to prevent static. May plonked on the bed and swung her legs to get them through the hole, grabbed her Zimmer to stand and shimmied the slinky fabric over her ample hips. No knickers – too fussy when you have to pull up a skirt and pull down a pair of panties on a high-seated toilet aid. Saves time. Much easier to clean yourself afterwards too. No brassiere either – the straps cut my shoulders. Hooks – impossible to do up on your own. May settled on a camisole and jiggled her sagging breasts into an acceptable shape. Pert was in the past.

Thus she proceeded with her endeavours to complete the task of adding top layers to underwear with small breaks between each garment to recover from the effort. Shoes. Oh, for the days of court shoes, high heels and a finely turned ankle. Resigned to the present, she searched a pair which still fitted her deformed feet. Catalogue cripple boots would spoil the delicate combination of fabrics and drape. Oh, mercy, there must be something. But there was nothing. May settled on a pair of silver grey slippers with a purple satin bow and slides her feet in. A little smear of lipstick and a dusting of petal pink rouge added colour to her face. Perfume from a stoppered bottle, she dabbed on wrists and throat. The clock chimed another hour. (I think if your going to say this about the clock you need to mention it prior to this)

By lunch, May finished dressing and assessed her choices, pleased at her independence. Skirt with elasticated waist, easy to step into. Camisole – no tricky neckline or armholes or buttons, and a loose fitting cashmere cardigan that allowed sleeve-pulling without awkward movement. She frowned at the outfit, felt frumpy and dowdy. Sartorial elegance didn’t trump comfort and practicality. Those days are gone, along with her figure and mobility. But she sniffed, defiant, and smoothed the skirt free of wrinkles before she took another look. Not quite my Vogue days, but . . . the lilac colours suit a fair complexion and a brooch on a scarf might lift the ensemble. May plucked a large black onyx brooch with diamond accents from her jewellery box and struggled to position it with its fiddly pin. ( I don't get why she would put her shoes on before her clothes?)

The doorbell rang. May pressed the button to release the security catch and Valerie breezed through. May smiled. “Hello. You look lovely, darling.”

Mwah. Mwah. “Oh, dear,” Valerie said. She moued and extended a manicured hand that brushed against May’s cheek. May noticed the slender fingers and their easy movement. “Look at that droopy barrel curl. Who on earth got you ready today, Mother?” She removed the clip, whipped the hair around her fingers and secured it in a moment. “Can’t stay long, only have half an hour.” She tidied the pile of magazines and put them out of reach on the window sill. “Behind on things after doing the laundry this morning and helping Mrs Jones, poor woman. Finally got that shrub clipped back too.” Valerie tut tutted at the sickly looking cyclamen and fetched a jug of water to rehydrate it.  (I like this works well)

May sat and watched.

“Hardly had time to fit in the gym and get the Christmas decorations out of the loft. Having lunch with the girls from the choir.” The silver framed photograph attracted Valerie’s weaselly eye. She drew a tissue from her cuff and buffed the metal with it before she returned the frame to the sideboard – in the wrong place. “So what have you been doing today?” She patted May’s hair and gave a patronising smile. ( can't picture her patting her head if she has just done her hair, maybe her shoulder if she is sitting?)

May thought for a moment. Valerie was busy plumping sofa cushions and not even looking at her.

Does she really care? Resentment burned her skin.  Who got me ready? Fixing my magazines? Polishing the photo frame? Watering the plant – as if it’s a help. Just point out my inadequacies why don’t you? You’ve no idea how hard it is. I won’t cry. I won’t. She’ll find out when it happens.

“Mother?” Valerie’s expression suggested she wanted a reply.

“Oh, the usual, struggling through. Mustn’t grumble.” May cackled and coughed.

“What is it, Mother?”

“You’ll find out soon.”

Valerie’s brow knitted. “What, Mother? What have you been up to?”

“Be a dear and make the coffee would you? You might want to sit down when I tell you my news.”

Valerie sauntered to the kitchen, chatting as she went. “News? Oh, you’ve done something? You’re not sick are you?”

“No, no. I did a photo shoot on Monday.”

Valerie brought in the éclairs and coffee. “A photo shoot? You? I thought your modelling days were over.” She sneered and then laughed.

May lifted an éclair and took a bite. “Hmm. For Help the Aged.”

Valerie’s chin jutted and her nostrils flared as she tilted her head in a quick dismissive gesture. “Hardly Vogue revisited, then.”

May cackled again and blotted the cream at the corner of her mouth. “No – part of a campaign to raise awareness for elderly abuse.”

“Mother!”

May used her napkin to hide a grin. “It was only acting, sweetheart. They thought my modelling experience might be useful. I got a free personal alarm and I’m a poster girl again.”



Haunting

She graced covers of Vogue and Tatler, the haughty pose,
arched brow and painted pout, recognisable in her tilted hat.
Haute couture draped her frame, pearls clung to her throat,
portraits in profile by famous photographers
filled newspapers, galleries, and Pathé news reels.

But that was seventy years ago, age hangs slack,
crêped thin over cheekbones and vellum jowls.
Her eyes, no longer shine within, their colour slipped,
blue dripped bruises now shadow jaundiced hollows.

Her head is held high in the latest photograph,
there are no pearls at her neck, but a personal alarm
and her expression, somewhat startled like a deer,
could be fear or confusion, but have no illusions
she’s now the poster girl for the latest campaign
promoting awareness about elderly abuse .






Okay I'm going to put the cat amongst the pigeons here, but why the poem? Could this not be reworked into the story. Could May not finish the scene by putting her pen down or show her writing the last few lines? Maybe an idea springs to her mind and she writes last lines?

Just an idea.
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #102 on: April 05, 2014, 04:08:36 PM »
Ah, I see. That would explain it. Maybe it would be good to italicise internal thought? Avoid confusion? NO NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER! :D Oh, okay, maybe. Nobody else seemed to have a problem though -- well if they did, they didn't mention it.


Hmmm, I see what you mean, but it doesn't work that way for me. What I did experience, is an older woman who's struggling to keep her head together. As if she's forgetting and fights the forgetfulness with everything that's in her. She's not forgetting anything but like many her age, in her nineties, she's aware it can happen so is especially careful to make sure she isn't forgetful. She's pretty organised. It does say in the beginning that she hasn't lost her marbles -- the fact that she mentions that demonstrates her 'awareness' it might happen.

I didn't experience time slowing. You won't be surprised to hear I'm slow. Much slower than I should be at my age. It's the EDS. I know what it feels like not to be able to lift a teapot. I know how much of a struggle it can be to get dressed. But that's it. I'm slow. Not incoherent.

Now, if you want May to coem across as a little incoherent, that's fine, but if not, than I think you've missed the mark.  ??? ??? ??? Not intended to come across as incoherent, just slow and careful -- states in the opening I'm just slow. Wants to make life as easy as possible for herself within her limitations. Wouldn't you at 95?


I got that, but it's just that the dialogue sounded a bit forced to me.  :-\


yw  :)

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #103 on: April 05, 2014, 04:12:46 PM »
Oh, okay, maybe. Nobody else seemed to have a problem though -- well if they did, they didn't mention it  "HAH!"  ;D ;D
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

cmb

  • Guest
Re: Coffee Morning
« Reply #104 on: April 05, 2014, 04:18:59 PM »
She's not forgetting anything but like many her age, in her nineties, she's aware it can happen so is especially careful to make sure she isn't forgetful. She's pretty organised. It does say in the beginning that she hasn't lost her marbles -- the fact that she mentions that demonstrates her 'awareness' it might happen.

See, that's what I thought.


Wants to make life as easy as possible for herself within her limitations. Wouldn't you at 95?

I already want to do that, and I'm much younger than that.  :P