Thursday, 11 February 2016

Writing - Short stories.

The BBC are currently running and helping young people write a 500 word short story. Some don't consider the short story as a 'serious' genre and yet some of our greatest writers produced them, including Charles Dickens with his famous 'A Christmas Carol'.

Image result for a christmas carol

I have written a number of such stories which are under 1000 words that were posted on the recently defunct Readwave site.

Yesterday I received notification that there was a competition, closing date 15/02/2016 with Writers' and Artists' Year Book.
Entry email address subject WAYB16 competition. Maximum number of words 2000 subject 'Ageing'.

Only a couple of days to get your entry in. I publish my entry below for your entertainment.

Image result for sleeping rough

Ageing with realisation

It felt really cold, whether that was because of the lack of food or that the air temperature was actually dropping, I didn’t know. Sitting huddled in the doorway sheltered from the cold wind my heart sank when I felt a drop of rain smack into my forehead. That’s all I needed. There weren’t so many people about now as it was late in the afternoon, the daylight was failing and soon it would be the loneliest of places.
“Get your life sorted!” snapped a passer-by.
I thought of making an appropriately rude reply but then my eye caught sight of a surveillance camera high up on the wall of the building opposite. It made me stop, because it ‘could be used in evidence’!
“So you think you have your life under control!” I internalised. “Really! I have a theory that is bordering on science fiction and may be too strong for you to take mate, so if you are of a nervous disposition it may be time to leave. However, whatever you do don’t look up to admire the sky; don’t fool yourself into thinking that your government hasn’t got your DNA; and, stop using the internet – if you can!”
The above may be seemingly scary stuff but consider surveillance by camera and satellite. Did you know that when a rocket sets off into space to launch a large satellite, or travels to the International Space Station it often takes large numbers of mini satellites? They cost around £200, consist of a 10cm cube and are packed with technology that can sample, tap into the internet, and a myriad of other nefarious uses. Anyone can arrange for such a device to be circling this planet, or any company!
“Consider the interactions you have on a daily basis and never fool yourself into thinking that the internet hasn’t any involvement pal,” I thought. “The most common way of obtaining DNA, for example, is by mouth swab. Who is it that spends time, on average twice each year, probing round your mouth and keeping records on the internet? As soon as that information is on the dentist’s computer it is available across the world pal!” I admonished in silence.
“Why do you think that the USA and UK were so quick to condemn the actions of Edward Snowden? The answer is simple – he was telling the truth. NSA, CIA, FBI, MI6, MI5 and many other security agencies around the world are probably tapping into our lives even as I tell you this. The real worry of course is that it’s already too late for you, Snowden and the rest. (Not me!) There are around seven million people in the UK that are not on the internet and are probably congratulating themselves that Big Brother can’t touch them because they’re not connected. However, where do these folk get income from? Who holds their health records? Do they shop with a card of some description? Even if you shop using cash and went into the bank to withdraw the cash over the counter or from a ‘hole in the wall’ your financial records are online. I know they are I worked in a bank! Honestly!
There was a bit of a fuss recently over Google losing a court case because a man complained that they kept financial records showing that he’d had his home repossessed years ago and that information was still available just by typing his name into the search engine. He successfully forced them to remove that from their records but surely the question goes much deeper. Who published that information on the net in the first place? Did his mortgage lender flag up his default or perhaps it was the credit checking agency, or the estate agents? The fact is Google may remove any reference to his financial problems but all they do is pull together information linked to a name from the World Wide Web! It’s still out there buddy!” I glared.
“Every person in the UK, who has had a bank account, and the government forced every pensioner to open a bank account in which to have their state pensions paid, has a credit reference controlled by credit referencing agencies. They advertise that you can check your financial standing on the net for a small fee. Ipso facto everyone is on the net.
It may seem that I’m talking against the use of the internet but in fact what choices do any of you have? You are all in it, even if you don’t have a computer at home. The only solutions available would be to pull the plug on all electronic interchanging of information and return to pen and paper records secured in vaults, or to pull the world wide electric plug from the proverbial socket. Such an action would plunge you all into the dark ages,” I’m already there, “so we have to be smart online at home. Don’t waste your time railing against the internet. You ordinary citizens need to adopt high security measures at home. I used to find changing my passwords at work, monthly, an absolute pain. They tell you not to write them down but if you are working on three, four or more systems, each with different passwords, remembering them becomes impossible after a while. However, you must decide to deal with that issue, whether it is regularly changing passwords or pulling the plug on the computer at home altogether, the single indisputable fact is that you are on the net.” I sighed.
The really helpful guy full of, no doubt what he thought was, good advice, was striding off down the street in the increasingly heavy rain undoubtedly feeling full of righteous indignation that he’d put someone like me in my place.
I pulled the donated blanket tighter round my shoulders and considered dashing across to the rubbish bin to grab the newspaper before it got too wet. Newspaper is great at insulating! I was back before anyone else could take my doorway. I re-wrapped, stuffed newspaper and leant against the cold marbled door frame and thought that it wasn’t too bad that evening.
‘Get my life sorted out.’
It’s sorted buddy. It was sorted the day I switched off the machine for the final time and left the office for good.

 God Bless