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Something About Books and Covers

by Jumbo 

Posted: 05 May 2010
Word Count: 315
Summary: For Oonah's character challenge - now edited following some ace comments!!.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

It was on the Circle Line – in the days when it was a ‘circle’, before they mutated it into that saucepan shape, with its Hammersmith extension - between St James Park and Westminster. He was sitting there, staring across the carriage, his expression blank, his eyes revealing no connection between himself and the almost empty carriage.

There were just four of us – me, him and his two kids.

Whilst he was silent, his children were manic, screaming and shouting, running up and down the carriage, jumping onto seats, at one point trying to remove one of the advertisements from its frame above the window.

They repeatedly raised and lowered the sliding window on the connecting door and howled with laughter as hot, stale air rushed through the carriage.

And all this time, he just sat, oblivious to the chaos his young charges were creating.

When they started to use balled up pages of newspaper in a mock snowball fight I lost it.

‘For fuck’s sake,’ I screamed at them. ‘Just sit down.’

It didn’t help; in fact it made matters worse. They turned their attention on me and began pelting me with Metro snowballs. And when I stood up the smaller child laughed at me and said, ‘Prat,’ – which I thought almost eloquent for a seven-year-old – before lobbing another crumpled sheet of newsprint at me.

I took the single pace to their father. ‘Can’t you do something with these two?’

He had no idea what I was talking about. ‘Sorry?’ he said.

‘Your kids, can’t you shut them up?’

‘Yes, I‘m sorry.’ As he looked at me, his eyes were brimming with tears. And when he spoke again his voice had dropped to a whisper. ‘It’s their mother,’ he said. ‘She’s just died… and I don’t know how to tell them.’

I got out at Westminster: I really wanted Liverpool Street.

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Comments by other Members

crowspark at 09:22 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Great title, loved the detail about the Circle Line, the familiar noisy kid event and that brilliant twist.

You might want to have him beckon him over and whisper that last bit?

Really good. You should send this out.


Riff Raff at 10:25 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
I loved this too and agree with Bill.

Perhaps it could be her, kneeling down beside him, trying to make eye contact while he continues staring blankly while delivering your last great line?

You've written a really great story here.

tusker at 11:39 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
A great story, John.

Good setting for the mayhem with a sad end.


Prospero at 11:44 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
May I add my voice to the tumuult.

A great story, but I would also have that reveal whispered or have the kids suddenly go quiet when they hear what their father said.

Great to have you back, Jumbs.



V`yonne at 14:45 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
I was just ready to strangle them when you made the reveal. We all feel as gulty as your character and now I think I'll slope out unnoticed ;

Forbes at 16:14 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Beautifully done John. Agree about the whisper, but a lovely sad story.



Jumbo at 16:56 on 05 May 2010  Report this post

Thanks to you all for your so positive comments on this! I'm really pleased that it had such a briliant response.

Agree entirely about the whisper ending - I'm on to an immediate edit!!

Apologies for not being around much of late - struggling with a novel that won't lie down and behave - and a publisher who wanted £2,000+ to publish Spiral! The B*ST*RD!!

Thanks again,


Crimsondelilah at 18:02 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Great, great story. Vivid and sad. I felt for the MC with the out of control children - but to be humbled in that way! Great ending.

Bunbry at 19:55 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Very good indeed John! And, like Bill, loved the title.

The only bit that caught me out was this line.
There were just four of us – me, him and his two kids.
At first I thought they were a party of four people traveling together. Not sure how I'd do it differently though.


Dreamer at 21:21 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Wow, really good Jumbo!

Great to be reading something of yours again.

Where have you been?



Jumbo at 21:54 on 05 May 2010  Report this post
Thanks Margaret, Nick and Brian.

Nick, point taken about that line. Maybe in the re-re-edit??

Brian - where've I been? Dunno! Taking pictures, trying to finish The Darkest of Lies ( the Brian/Margaret saga), toying with Lulu (Mmmm?) as a method of getting Spiral published. I just don't know where the time goes!!!



Dreamer at 02:04 on 06 May 2010  Report this post
Great birds!

I saw a great horned flying out of a ravine the other day but all I had was my phone. Just not the same.

Nice website too!

You look to be having fun.



tusker at 06:48 on 06 May 2010  Report this post
What fabulous photos you two.

Well done. I won't show you mine though.


Jumbo at 21:05 on 06 May 2010  Report this post
Thanks Jennifer.

And I was hoping you would! ;


Jumbo at 21:06 on 06 May 2010  Report this post

No 'great horned' around here. Not for a few years now!



Cholero at 09:51 on 08 May 2010  Report this post
Hi John

Ending hit like a punch in the stomach.

Expert scene-setting.

Thanks for the read.


Jumbo at 12:52 on 08 May 2010  Report this post
Cheers, Pete.

Thanks for your kind comments.



LMJT at 10:37 on 09 May 2010  Report this post
Hi John,

I read this yesterday and have been thinking about it since. I think this is excellent. You tell so much about the MC and the people he interacts with in such a short space of time. There's a real arc for this character and I'd love to see more about him.

Thanks for the read.


Jumbo at 14:41 on 09 May 2010  Report this post

Thanks for reading and for coming back to this piece. That's much appreciated.

I'll give this MC some thought, but at the moment I don't 'know' him well enough to say where his story might go!

Thanks again


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