Joy, and Sadness

Violet Rose. 6lbs 1oz.

It has been a good few years since we had a new baby in my maternal family. I was delighted to go and visit the latest arrival, Violet, last weekend. She was delivered by C-section, and I am pleased to report that Mum and baby are both doing really well.

The added joy of seeing the new baby was that she is named after my mother, Violet, and also my grandmother, Rose. As I have never had children, it made me feel very happy to know that my own mother’s name will live on in this new addition to our family, and I know that my Mum would have been touched beyond belief.

Then this morning, along came the sadness. Violet’s great-grandfather, and my last surviving uncle, passed away after a long illness, at the age of 87. He never got a chance to see Violet before he died, but at least he heard about her being born, and had seen a photo.

R.I.P. Ivan Cowburn.

The circle of life continues.

Happy Thanksgiving

We don’t have Thanksgiving here, as you probably know. However, over half my readers and followers are from America, and many of those are blogging friends who are very dear to me.

So I am sending you this, for your special day tomorrow.

Eat too much, drink too much, but try not to argue with your family.
Life is short, and you never know if you will be here for the next Thanksgiving.

Best wishes to all of you in the USA. Pete.

Prize Nomination

I was very happy to be told that I have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This nomination is for a non-fiction article published in Longshot Island Magazine, ‘Brutalist Architecture‘. I am of course very proud that the magazine considered my article to be worthy of nomination, whether or not I am shortlisted for the prize.

This year (2018) we will nominate 5 works of fiction and one work of nonfiction for the Pushcart Prize.

Vacation by Daniel Wallace
The Part Beneath by Christine Rice
The Transcendent Cavewoman by Joe Taylor
The Food by Cameron Thomson
Born for Wonderland by Ewa Mazierska
Brutalist Architecture by Pete Johnson (nonfiction)

This is what the Pushcart Prize is all about.
The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in our annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60’s and 70’s. Our legacy is assured by donations to our Fellowships endowment.

If any of you would like to submit a story or article for consideration for inclusion in Longshot Island Magazine, please use this link.

Re-Post: Ambulance stories (16)

Another ‘neglected’ Ambulance Story, from 2012.
This one is in praise of the resilience of women.


Don’t look in the carrier bag

In the 1980’s, people in their late 70’s had been through the Second World War. The women in particular had endured special hardships. They had been left to cope without support from husbands, fathers, or brothers; often managing a life torn between work, and having to cope with young children, or trying to bring up large families. They did this during bombing raids, with rationing in force, and often having to work in hard, manual jobs, previously done by the absent men. It made them resilient, it hardened them to pain, and they also learned not to complain about things, as it made little difference. By the time they had reached old age, they were a force to be reckoned with.

One morning, we were called to an elderly lady, to take her into hospital for an arranged admission. Her age was given as…

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Retro Review: Gremlins (1984)

Just to prove that I don’t only watch films with subtitles, or classic oldies, I thought I would remember this fun and touching film from the 1980s. When I see buzz words like ‘Fun’ or ‘Original’, I usually get suspicious. ‘American Comedy’ is also a heading that might make me think twice, as it is a fact that any country’s comedy doesn’t always cross oceans or borders well, even when using the same (well, similar) language.

So I went to see this much-hyped film expecting to be restless after fifteen minutes, and possibly leaving before the end.

But I didn’t leave, because I simply loved it.

Never seen it? Here’s a simple overview. A travelling salesman and inventor discovers a rare creature in a Chinese curio shop. It is called a Mogwai, and is one of the cutest things you have ever seen. The man secretly buys it for his son, as a birthday present. But he receives a serious warning. The creature must not be fed after midnight, and must never be exposed to water, or bright lights. The son, Billy, names his Mogwai ‘Gizmo’, and cares for him according to the warnings. However, when someone spills water over Gizmo, more creatures appear on him, as cocoons. When they hatch, they are the opposite of Gizmo; mischievous, destructive, and downright evil. They are the Gremlins of the title.

What follows is a feast of fun, as the Gremlins multiply, and set about taking over the small town, with Billy and his girlfriend trying to defeat a veritable horde of the creatures.

This is a film where the cast doesn’t really matter, the setting is unimportant, and the story is secondary. It is all about the creatures, who each have personalities, and distinctive styles of their own. Set piece battles with them are often hilarious, as is their takeover of a local bar, and the town cinema. If you have never seen it, then I suggest you rectify that omission.

It will make you feel good. And you will want a Gizmo too. I did.