treasures 1

From time to time, back in the distant past when I had to work for a living, new phrases or acronyms would enjoy a brief period of usage before vanishing from whence they came, never again to see the light of day.
I remember when J.I.T. (Just in Time) was all the rage. And if I remember correctly it was supposedly imported from Japan … and as anyone will know who follows the shenanigans in Westminster of late, it is still trotted out when it serves a purpose for some, most of whom who don’t properly understand what it means.
Ostensibly it is supposed to make the manufacture of finished items more efficient (and more profitable) for the big firms at the top of the food chain. And it does.
But in practice it screws their smaller suppliers to the deck by transferring all the expense of making and storing the smaller items that make up the whole, onto the supplier’s costs.

Example … the big firm places an order for, say, 200 parts, and expects to get the benefit of a good price because of the quantity involved. Nothing wrong with that, you may think, larger quantities mean efficiencies during manufacture for the small guy.
But the sting is in the tail when the order is placed and the delivery requirements are “10 each month over the next 20 month period”. So either the supplier has to make the whole batch in one go, store them at his own expense, then not get paid for the last item until 20 months later (which is excellent for the banks because typically the small supplier has to borrow on overdraft to finance the order), or the supplier is forced to make the 200 items in smaller batches and therefor lose all the cost advantages of quantity production.  Result?  Big Boys 2. little boys  -2.

So what has any of that have to do with last month’s competition other than allowing me to get yet another moan off my chest, and more importantly, where does ‘wash up’ come into the equation?
Well, ‘wash up’ was another of those ‘in and out of fashion’ phrases from around the same era as JIT.

‘Wash up meetings’ took place after a project was completed so that if there were any lessons to be learned from the event they could be thrashed out and filed away for future reference … and nowadays it results in statements in public such as ‘Lessons have been learned’ after an inquiry into some calamity or another. And as we all know, they rarely are learned, at least not until the next time.
And did you notice that I slipped in another moan, right there under your nose? 🙂
But our group is not like that, is it.
And this is our ‘Wash up’ time, or if you prefer, our Review time.
So kindly post any of your reviews, comments, or suggestions concerning the March tcwg Competition in the reply box below.
Thank you.

13 thoughts on “Time to ‘Wash up’ after the March 2019 competition.

  1. It never ceases to amaze, the range of tales that springs forth from a monthly topic ((and a great topic, by the way).
    Here are my thoughts:

    OUT OF HIS TIME – Atiller
    The comical juxtaposition of pirate and parrot in a MacDonald’s carpark made me laugh and you never let the pace flag in this tale of time travel. I found the dialogue between the police officers very funny too. However, I felt a bit let down by the ending because the Flints’ fate was just a bit too…glib, I suppose, for me.

    THE MAGIC COIN – Expatangie
    A gently uplifting story of the bond between brothers, about relationships and the revelation of deep truths.
    A celebration of the miracles of nature, seen through the narrator’s eyes and reminding the reader of the sentiment summed up in the final sentence: “…where miracles happen…real treasure to be found…shining secrets…your heart”
    I felt that both stories could use an injection of greater conflict, be it emotion, pace or structure. The evenness of your writing makes it very appealing, but it can sometimes feel a wee bit flat . I’d like to see what you do with a bit of tension and strain; some rugged and rough!

    THE COURIER – Americanmum
    Your central creation – the black-clad biker with the lipless grin and dark glasses – was quite unforgettable, drawn as he was with just a few bold strokes. A parable, this one, really. Perhaps for that reason your protagonist was more a stock (or symbolic) figure than a developed character. Although written with your customary assured hand, I felt at moments (“money ahead of people”; “time is the real treasure”) the style was, for me, a tad too expository.

    MISSING HOURS – Giselle
    Written with characteristic flair, much of this story had a dreamy, soft-focus quality (and of course a lot of it IS a dream!) with mellifluous descriptions and slow-motion action. It’s all really quite seductive and languorous until Beth appears with the baby, when you really switch the gear to give us economy and vividness. Beautifully written, but for some reason I didn’t feel its pull.

    STRANGE BOUTIQUE – Billy Foster
    Wow – what a plot! Ingenious. I loved the way you structured this, with the clues for the treasure hunt revealing more and more of the bleakly dysfunctional family history. The box room in the council house being the emporium of the title was poignant and slightly repugnant at the same time; loved the darkness of this story. The only down-side for me was your characterisation: Bill and Michael were just too despicable and the dead wife/mother too saintly – for me they were slightly Dickensian caricatures. But in a short story so driven by plot this really didn’t matter much.

    I admired your courage in tackling so much in a short word count, and was drawn to the initial scenario – the seance, the ouija board, the whisper of dark goings-on. Alas, the change from 1st to 3rd person breaks my suspension of disbelief early on, and I found rheumy Peter’s elucidation about the “bad spirits” too lengthy to be convincing or engaging. That said, I thought your deployment of direct speech was very skilful – authentic and believable.

    JESS AND TOBY – Capucin
    As with Colmore’s story, I was impressed with the sweep of your vision for this story – but ultimately, I think, the challenge of the short story is rigorous selection of material and here you fell victim to your wealth of ideas. The result was a great minestrone of ingredients yet a lack of depth of flavour. A tortured metaphor, I know. I guess I’m saying less is more: fewer threads, woven more tightly. And there was a bit of a glitch with narrative voice/direct speech.


    1. Excellent critiques, seadams. I suspect the reason my story didn’t engage you was the over-reliance on the dream. A dream is a lazy way of story-making really, a writer’s ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card when one is trying to wrap up quickly. G X

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for your very perceptive reviews, Seadams, and for the kind words about my effort.
      As I have already accepted in my reply’s to much the same criticism of the story ending in Giselle’s review, the final paragraphs were a bit of a cop-out due to a lack of any formal planning at the outset.
      Many years ago I had a classic lesson in ‘how not to finish a story’ when watching a play on the TV. It was way back in the black and white era and was a quite complicated story of mystery and intrigue set on board a cargo ship.
      The final scene took place in the hold of the ship in very much a stage setting with the hold on three levels with inter-connecting stairways and many doorways. This was back in the days before adverts and the programmes, mainly BBC, ran strictly to time.
      With less than two minutes to go it seemed impossible for all the loose ends of the mystery to be joined up and I began to furiously search the Radio Times to check that I hadn’t been mistaken about the time that the programme was to end.
      Suddenly, characters began to appear out of every orifice, each having their say and adding a piece of the jigsaw … the whole thing was wrapped up in the space of one minute and with the closing credits rolling the four of us watchers were left open mouthed wondering what the hell had happened.
      At the time our only conclusion was that the director had suddenly received a phone call from ‘upstairs’ reminding him of the time and they threw away the script and he finished the whole thing off like some manic conductor winding up an accelerated performance of ‘The Flight of the Bumble-Bee’.
      Obviously, that lesson has been forgotten. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Thank you very much for your thoughtful and constructive reviews. I really appreciate your advice, very kind and helpful


  2. Wow Giselle what fantastic reviews of all the stories.
    Thank you very much for mine which was very helpful and has made me want to re- write them . Your advice is very valuable and constructive.


  3. Hello Giseselle, I must admit I never really got going with this story, the words feelings and thoughts were in my brain but they would not transfer to paper so I ended, as you point out, up with a précis for a possibly longer story, It was becoming too complicated, a razzmatazz of thoughts needing to be put into their historical context which I failed to do. Good of you to critique though, always useful, particularly with a story that did not do well.


  4. Thank you for your very informative reviews Giselle, and for the slice of your precious time that even I know from my semi-sedentary experience, is not always easy to find..
    With regards to the man ‘out of his time’ and the glossing over of some of the why’s and wherefore’s it is my same old problem … too much to write and not enough words to do justice to what I initially see as a limitless plot.
    But the art of short story writing is all about working properly and constructively to ensure that the whole story is contained within certain limits … so you have highlighted my Achilles heel and are perfectly justified so to do; mea culpa!
    If I wrote in a properly structured manner, I would have a pre-planned synopsis to work to and allocate so many words to each part of the tale so as to balance the whole piece up from beginning to end.
    In practice, particularly when one is faced with a more challenging topic such as we had in March, when I do get the germ of an idea for a story I write a couple of pages and then see where the story is heading. In other words, I can rarely anticipate the ending because I am never sure of where the tale will end up.
    For me, writing is an inventive magical mystery tour without an end in sight, and it is only when I suddenly realise that I’m on A4 page 7 or 8 that I am reluctantly pressured into thinking about an ending … whole passages then end on the floor and I am left with what I call ‘the Readers Digest version’ of the original, and loose ends.
    So I agree with you that Flint needed more than a bit of luck to have pulled off what he did, and that that required more explanation than it received. Perhaps if I’m fortunate enough ever to get another opportunity to chose the monthly topic I should give a link to this story and set the topic as ‘ A story based upon how Sergeant Flint managed to get away with appropriating Long John’s treasure and converting the baubles into usable ‘clean’ cash without being caught’. Limit, 500 to 3000 words.
    And I would still finish up with an abridged version with loose ends. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hmm!
        Certainly Long John’s treasure was high on Quality though sparse with regards to Quantity.
        Hmm! again.
        D’you know! To paraphrase a well documented exclamation by Professor Henry Higgins … “By George, you’ve got it. By George you’ve got it”.
        Thanks Giselle, and watch this space! 🙂


    1. Interesting on your writing style. I need a good opening paragraph and to possibly know the ending, but getting there can sometimes be a challenge. Must admit I now aim to have the whole thing ‘boxed off’ to use the current idiom at about 2500 words, then go back and add the ‘twirly’ bits.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very well done Giselle.
    I did wonder whether anyone would read the preamble so I slipped in a little tester, hoping to catch you all out.
    You are quite right to point it out so promptly and I am now happy to correct the monthly delivery quantity by adding nothing to it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If I may be permitted the liberty of reviewing the invitation to post a review, I’d like to point out that ‘one a month for 20 months’ doesn’t add up to 200.

    Anyway, this month I took a far greater liberty, which was that of reviewing my fellow writers’ entries whilst considering my votes. Something I haven’t done for a while, and I feel a bit rusty doing, so please forgive me if my thoughts are wide of the mark.

    G X

    STRANGE BOUTIQUE. Written by BillyFoster.
    Good plot and characterisation and interesting twists. The structure of this story is brilliant, starting in the middle of the action, with the treasure hunt and the riddles gradually revealing more and more of the back story. It was only the more literary writing style of my top pick (seadams) that pushed this story into second place for me.

    BURIED TREASURE. Written by Colmore.
    A fascinating story with its historical background, but somehow feels unfinished, and in need of a twist to complete it. Perhaps, having started off with a dialogue between Josh and Helen, the story could return to them for the concluding sentences and reveal what has changed in them as a result of their experience.

    JESS AND TOBY. Written by Capucin.
    This is a deep and complex story which could potentially be drawn out into a novel. The plot and characters are good and the historical setting is carefully done. I found the writing style was too distant to draw me fully in, because there was so much information to convey and with lots of narration of back story without immersive action or dialogue. Expanding outside the word limit, even to novella length, would allow room for the story to develop.

    THE COURIER. Written by AmericanMum.
    Well plotted and eerie, with the satisfaction of a story in threes. Edward’s lack of humanity is revealed by his response to the other two deaths. The visual image of the courier, a modern Death, was vivid. In terms of structuring the story I wondered about including a hint about pharma profiteering costing lives earlier in the story sequence.

    THE MAGIC COIN. Written by ExpatAngie.
    A lovely feel-good story about brotherly love, showing that the real treasure in life is family and relationships. But they achieved their happy ending too easily: I think I would have preferred the setback in the middle of the story to have sprung from the brothers’ relationship – a rivalry in courting Felicity perhaps, rather than the accident which was a ‘deus ex machina’ and not under the characters’ control.

    HIDDEN TREASURE. Written by ExpatAngie.
    A pretty picture of four generations. More could have been done with the husband’s desertion: it was referred to once but didn’t reappear. I would have liked to have seen Sandra under greater stress in this story; she deserves to be happy but she gets there too easily.

    THE SPACE RESERVED. Written by Seadams.
    I loved the writing style here: inventive and expressive use of language which grabbed my attention, and a meditation on the history of the asylums with a surprising twist at the end. Dialogue and characterisation were superb. The connection to the month’s theme was slightly tenuous, but I forgave.

    OUT OF HIS TIME. Written by Atiller.
    An enjoyable Atiller romp, the funniest of all this month’s stories, making me laugh out loud. I felt Flint reached his happy ending too easily though. Could he have been in a little bit more trouble at some point? That would have got my top vote.


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