on your marks


The whistle sounds and the race is on to get to the soap box  first.  The public speaking tent is all set up in the city for one day only.  A  piece of free speech is on the table.  With no holds barred, five minutes is all the audience will stand for.  Rain is blowing in from the East and a girl with clipboard and meaningful nails proclaims ‘rules are rules’.

Standing speaking, as I come to connect, I stoop.  I speak about what I had found out that morning:  To exist and to be in no uncertain terms, to let the universe know that you mean it.  Then a quote comes to mind, Oxford is the city of lost causes (Civil War, Protestant Martyrs and Monasteries).

A nearby office worker trots out and unplugs the microphone, but for a second I find out what it is like to belong.  I hear the sound of saying what I want to change in the world.

“It is a May Day for books.  Remember how the microfiche was supposed to slay the books then it was kindle but books are still with us unlike the dodo or T Rex. Renew your commitment to books. Remember why they are so great.  Most of all books are a way to connect with the world that goes beyond supermarkets.”

“We have supermarkets.  What our town needs is a post office!” (The microphone is plugged back in and someone new picks up the gauntlet)

A lady with purple hair brings her knitting to the stage to protest against Trident and another lady chants beautifully for five minutes in the rain, in Broad Street close to the spot where the Protestant Martyrs held their protest.

There was an audience of one at the 7am start, the listener outnumbered the performer in girth. The free show rolled on relentlessly into the suburbs. Each speaker with a time limit of five minutes reached the crescendo of their own flash fiction in time. For me the above is the story of Oxford’s May Day call for books.

A novelist narrates a newly printed novel and the audience relaxes knowing the book still lives on.  “Renew your commitment to books. Remember why they are so great.”  She speaks about her fallopian tubes bursting.  Morris dancers and bells swing around us to welcome the Summer.

When I am asked in future ‘have you got 5 minutes?’  I may run.  I know the distance a short chat can cover.  After my stint at the mic I am happy to see the finish line (and the free fudge samples in the shop across the road).  Cue: the klaxon.

photo 1


Enjoy another brief encounter here or  flash fiction from other bloggers here



53 thoughts on “on your marks

  1. Nicely done, Lita. I especially enjoyed the line about “meaningful nails” and Oxford being a “city of lost causes.” I’ve never tried flash fiction. It amazes me how one can tell a story in so few words. Hope you are having a lovely weekend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    • Thank you Kathy! We have sunshine today so it’s lovely to enjoy the garden except the weeds are thriving no matter how many we pull up. Weeds have so much get up and go!!

      The girl on the clipboard at the open mic event held quite a presence!

      I enjoyed the beautiful photographs in your recent post. I wonder what fashions are around the corner! It’s great to enjoy sharing the happy times here on WP.




    • Thank you so much. There was quite a bit of drama about the open mic event. I think being allowed to say what’s on your mind to a crowd is liberating! 😀

      Thanks also for taking me as a reader along with you on your adventure across the States. It’s something I think a lot of folk would like to do!


  2. Was this an actual event? I’ve always wanted “meaningful nails”. Maybe I’ll get some fake ones. I love the addition of the Morris dancers as a counterpoint to the woman talking about her burst fallopian tubes. Bells and bursting. Delightful!


    • Yes. It was an all day event on May Day where everyone could come and jostle for a 5 minute slot. I too would love some meaningful nails!

      I have had a blissful time enjoying your flash fiction post along with the stunning photographs. I love the way a place can be carved out in the imagination from a story. Top post!!


  3. Hi Lita, Another nice bit of writing! Well done.
    P.S can you tell me how you got the pingbacks now that the Daily Post have changed their format and no longer have them in a list?


    • Thank you for lovely comment!

      Yes it took me a while to figure this out and I found that I need to use firefox browser for the cut and paste to work (it wasn’t working for me on safari).

      Run your cursor over all the square icons that represent our posts on the dailypost page so they are highlighted up blue (I needed to also press function key) and copy them. Paste this into a word document and you will see the text only is there and each link is live. You do need to click return after each title to spread them out a bit as they appear like a word cloud and not in a list. Then you can copy this from the Word document into the edit of your post on WP and hopefully that’s the job done.

      Let me know if that doesn’t work out though!


      • Thank you so much for the detailed answer. It does seem clear how to do it, I will try it out as soon as possible. Thanks again! Have a nice day!


    • I’m not sure it was that orderly at the start!! But yes, you are right, it was our version of that. It felt exciting to wait to see what the next speaker had on their mind.

      Your latest fiction post is such a delight to read. I just had a great visit to your blog!


  4. Lita,

    Brilliant post! You have described so many images beautifully, I have so much racing through my mind as I read your words, which also captures the essence of your five minutes. So many happenings is such a brief period of time. Thank you!



    • Hello Pepper

      Thank you for the beautiful comment! It was exciting to address a crowd for this tiny amount of time that also feels like eternity. I had a great time visiting your blog today and immersing myself in your superbly crafted poetry.

      All good things



  5. great to have read another great writings from you Litadoolan! may i know what is “May Day?” have read it from somewhere too and now at your blog, don’t know what’s it like…never had it on our country.


    • Hello Jenine

      It’s great to hear from you. I have just been catching up with your news over on your superbly written blog. I enjoy your posts very much.

      May the 1st celebrates the start of British Summertime (even though it is still Spring!) with old traditions like Morris Dancing (you may have seen this, men in white, wearing flowers and dancing with sticks and bells – not as peculiar as it sounds!! ;-D) . Here we also had a theatrical event the open mic event but in reality May Day is about welcoming in the Summer. I guess it relates back to pagan times (I’m not 100% sure on this…).

      It’s great to be in touch on WP. Wishing you a brilliant week ahead.



      • wow! thanks for that Lita! Now I get it hahaha, I can finally picture it out. And yay, thanks for visiting me on my blog, and for reading my posts too! that’s so lovely of you. I’m happy to get in touch with you, of course I’ll keep it up. *winks*

        Wishing you a brilliant week ahead, too!



    • Thank you so much! I enjoyed the vivid scene you paint in your latest post. It lured me into taking a browse of all your superb poetry over on your blog. ‘Unbinding’ has a particular magic to it (as do they all!!) 😀


  6. This is so cool! But I don’t know if I could ever stand up in front of a crowd and say whatever is on my mind … scary but liberating indeed. Maybe one day I’ll try it. Anyways, awesome post 🙂


    • Thank you! Just don’t think about it and do it if you want to. Then before you know it it’s all over!! That’s what I learnt from the experience!

      I love the eclectic posts you cleverly mix together over on your engaging blog. I am nodding in agreement at your post on Audrey Hepburn! Also the pet peeves is a great way to let off steam, I may try it! Have a great week. 🙂


  7. I wanted this to be true then I saw the list of flash fiction contributors and wondered. But I see from your comments that this was a real event. How amazing to think of random people getting up and having the chance to sound off for a few minutes. I love the idea. Wonder if I would be brave enough though. 😉 x


    • I’m sure you are!! It’s the anticipation that is the killer! My tip from this experience is not to think about it (there is a superb fudge shop opposite where the event was….)

      Lovely to hear from you. I love spotting your blissful poems in my reader and then checking them out. Each one is a gem to read and would also make a great moment for an audience spoken aloud.

      Enjoy your week x 😀


    • Thank you Crysta! It was inspiring to hear what everyone had on their minds and see what hidden talents the ‘man on the street’ has!

      I just discovered your blog today and had the best time reading up on your take on the literary world. Great to be in touch and I can’t wait to read more posts!


  8. Very intriguing, Lita. I would like to join a movement to stand up for books! I’m also intrigued by the line about post office – were you thinking about how we don’t write letters anymore?
    Such a thought-provoking flash fiction, so great!
    Also, thanks for mentioning my blog!


    • We have so few post offices now locally 😦 and I think they do provide a community feel to a place as well as offering services. We do however have a LOT of supermarkets selling the same tubs of guacamole and stuff. I know it’s the same everywhere, the personality of the High Street is a tough one to preserve (I will get off my soap box now lol!!)

      Hearty well done on the fluid dialogue in your recent flash fiction. That would be a diamond shining bright on any stage!


      • I never thought of a post office that way (probably because we have a super crappy postal service here in Indonesia) – interesting. But I see the same problem with supermarket, they are modern invaders in every High Street everywhere.

        Again with the compliment, Lita. Thank you very much.


    • Thank you so much Cindi! I am buffing up my photograph techniques for next time. Your montages are spectacular. The Norwegian Greens are so vibrant.

      All good wishes


  9. Once again nicely written! 🙂

    You are indeed the child trained by books as shown by your craft of wielding the sword and shield of words.
    And you are indeed the champion of books 😀

    With the spirit of a nationalist fighting for her country, your character fights for books.

    There is indeed something about words on paper that no digital format can replace. If it weren’t for the fact that space is an issue for me I’d have more books.

    Paper and digital both contain knowledge but only one has a timeless feel.


    • So beautifully put! You write with great clarity. I am nodding in agreement to (hopefully) the printed page lasting alongside the digital screen. Time will tell!

      Thank you for the kind words, I must say I like the idea of ‘wielding the sword and shield of words’, a canny image!

      Great to join forces with fellow champions of books. Your flash fiction has a terrific consistency and takes the reader to new horizons. Here’s to a great week ahead.


  10. the details are just amazing. Obviously meaningful nails is a gold standard–but you’ve echoed this uniqueness throughout, while staying true to the greater premise. Really masterfully done, Lita. It breathes–it doesn’t just sit there as I read. It lives!!


    • Thank you Karen for bring a burst of Californian sunshine through your joyful words to my blog! I get so excited when I see a new poem from you, I can never guess what topic will be your next muse. You are blissfully creative and your flow of thoughts and words energises!

      Here’s to super sunny inspiration!


    • I aspire to meaningful nails!

      We have some ants on our concrete patio. I have dosed them with warm water to get them to move. When dealing with insects now I think of your recent post about bringing down the bees from the tree and moving them into their new home. Brave, entertaining and courageous! (ants are enough for me!)

      Hope life is great. The veg I planted in tubs are doing good! You have transformed my patio.


      • Wow! Life is great when I read that sort if message. Thank you so much. Before I started this blog I felt like our efforts were small and lie impact. Thanks to this type of response I feel fantastic. It rained all day so I changed my blog theme and have had more likes than before. Rain is inspiring too!


      • Ahh good tip for the blog theme change. I think you hit the nail on the head that blogging makes our efforts go further. Hurrah. I have learnt so much from WP about all sort of crafts, cookery, essential oils and of course now planting veges and having a go with some tubs. To see other people doing something in a sincere and honest way inspires (me, and for sure many others!!).

        Thanks for the mint spray tip. Sounds beautiful as well as a great idea!

        here’s to happy blogging!


  11. Pingback: Flash Fiction: The second sister had no hand-me-downs « psychologistmimi

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