L is for laughter is killing me!

L for Twitter

I hope at least that there are some strong elements of humor in my book Flight of Destiny, sometimes humor naturally evolves in a story. If humor is evident, it is doubtlessly dark. I am British, so this perhaps accounts for a dosage of dark humor in my stories.  The humor is often surreal.

In my story Fire and Brimstone,  for some reason I came up with a Danish character called Helga, who is sent to a correctional school for delinquents by the Danish Bible society.  She is a very rotund young lady, who is seduced by a morally corrupt Night warden.

The story also seems to have an obsession with fish.  Jonathon Noteworthy (who is sent to the correctional school, arrives home to find his mother having sex with a local fishmonger).

The boy had been sent to the school following “a fire incident.” He’d come home early from school one day and noticed a distinct smell of fish. Looking about, he noticed a bloodstained striped apron, a white hat, an oiled sweater, a pair of heavy woolen trousers and two rubber boots scattered about the living room. Upstairs, he heard the repetitive sound of his mother’s beds prings. Running up the stairs three at a time, he burst into her bedroom, thinking somebody was attacking his mother. His eyes caught sight of Mr. Lucius Pike, the fishmonger, his thin sallow face with two tiny polka dot eyes, naked on top of his mother.The shock of this discovery, forces Jonathon to seek revenge on Lucius Pike. Retribution came exactly two days later, when Noteworthy broke into Pike’s Fish Mongers during the night and filled a large sack with every kind of fish he could lay his hands on. Bass, eel, haddock, mackerel, mullet, sturgeon, turbot, it didn’t matter. He dragged the sackto Pike’s house and peeked into the man’s living room window. Pike was curled up asleep in his favorite chair pulled close to the hearth for warmth, a woolen blanket draped over his skinny legs,snoring loudly, while the television across from him announced the latest fishing news.

Noteworthy rummaged about outside, located a ladder left by  some workmen, and climbed it, carrying the stuffed sack over his  shoulder like a coal miner a sack of coal onto Pike’s roof, and then began dropping the fish, one by one, down the chimney. The fish landed on the fire, and soon the living room was filled with the acrid smoke and the smell of charred fish. Just before Pike awoke, the sizzling, fire made a popping noise and leaped from the hearth onto the man’s blanket. As Pike’s living room burst into flames, a neighbor noted a boy on Pike’s roof stuffing a huge halibut into the chimney.

The image of a boy dropping fish down a chimney, might not appear funny to some, in the same way perhaps the famous Parrot sketch involving an irate  customer Mr Praline (played by John Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a “Norwegian Blue” parrot, while poking fun at the many euphemisms for death used in British culture, might appear lacking in humor or at least sensibility. This brings me onto the subject of “death”.  Would you like to die laughing?  Members of the Monty Python team were responsible (inadvertently)  for the death of a man named Ole Bentzen whose demise was brought about by the scene where Ken (Michael Palin)  gets chips up his nose that caused him to laugh into oblivion.  Imagine the indignity of dying from hearing a dirty joke…Pietro Aretino, an Italian author, suffocated from the hysterics that ensued after his sister told him a dirty joke. I guess the sister must  have rued killing her brother by laughter.

The British comedian/magician Tommy Cooper, may not have died laughing, but he died during the course of his penultimate show.  The audience were certainly laughing when Tommy suddenly

Slumped to the floor during an onstage comedy routine in 1984 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. Audience members believing it was part of the act expected him to get up. When the realization that Tommy had passed away, they stopped laughing.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.


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How Christmas features in Flight of Destiny

Little Mite 2014

Christmas features briefly in one of my short stories. However it offers a poignant end to “Little Mite”. Little Mite  is a young girl, who has done a very wicked thing and is being punished. The story starts off with a lawn lunch party. Little Mite’s sister is to marry the man of her dreams. Both set of families are meeting to organize what will be a lavish wedding. Little Mite however intercedes, taking the younger brother of the future groom to her father’s carpentry shed, then gluing his hand to a coffee table. She then lashes him with stinging nettles.

Here is an exert…

Carpentry was her father’s passion. He loved the feel of the
different kinds of wood, and whenever he got the chance, enjoyed
working the various woods into useful furniture, which, when
complete, were placed in conspicuous places of honor around the

Little Mite called out Jed’s name in a luring sing-song voice, and
he shuffled nervously closer to her, not knowing what to expect. “Give
me your hand again,” she commanded.
Jed was unsure whether to do so. Still, he’d enjoyed the feeling of
her soft hand in his while running together from the lawn party to the
shed. She was the first girl who had ever really shown interest in him.
Though he continued vacillating between obeying this intoxicating girl
and running to his family, he finally gave in to her and bashfully
extended his hand.

The moment he did, Little Mite grabbed it and slapped it into the
middle of the glue, holding his hand there with all her might with both
her hands.

Jed, shocked by the abruptness and the unexpectedness of the act,
stood paralyzed, mouth open, staring at his hand while the glue
quickly hardened. By the time he’d gathered back his wits, protested,
and attempted to withdraw his hand, it was too late. After a hopeless
struggle, he resigned himself to waiting to see what the little vixen had
further in mind.

When the young girl’s gaffe comes to light, the wedding is soon thrown into turmoil. The young future groom soon turns his attention to an old flame, having been put off marrying a Dashville, following Mitzi Dashville’s prank. Her older sister is bitter towards her younger sister for destroying her dream of marrying Connor Johnson.

Little Mite is punished, but vows to win back her parent’s favor. This is where Christmas comes in. The Dashvilles, less Little Mite, who is grounded go to buy their Christmas presents.

Later that year, at Christmas, when the whole event should have
finally passed into ignominy, Hannah and her parents left for town to
do some last-minute shopping, leaving Little Mite behind. To Little
Mite it all seemed so unfair, but then, she was still grounded.
The time alone got her to thinking. She went downstairs and
opened the family dressing up box, tossing clothes all over the place,
until she found a bright and colorful dress from her mother’s short-lived
hippie days (her father had often ribbed her mother about it,
saying it resembled a clown outfit more than a dress). Slipping into it,
she looked in the mirror. It made her look totally ridiculous. Her plan
wasn’t her best or most original, but without a better idea, she decided
she to hide in her parent’s upstairs clothes closet, and, when they came
home and couldn’t find her, she would jump out and surprise them.

When her parents return, Little Mite’s prank goes horribly wrong…Little Mite’s parents believe they are victims of a burglary. However her older sister knows that the ongoing situation has all the hallmarks of a Little Mite prank and sees a gaping opportunity of gaining revenge on her sister…


Interview with Charles Dickens 2015

Charles Dickens small


We have managed to bring back the ghost of Charles Dickens for a special Christmas visitation.

Interviewer: Welcome Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens: You stirred me from the grave, I suppose I am obliged to answer your questions.

Interviewer: One of your most famous works is “A Christmas carol” where did some of the ideas come from?

Charles Dickens: I had just done a speech at a charity event, after which I decided to go on one of my “nocturnal walks” I always had problems to sleep, while walking I had the idea for this book. I based some of the characters on people I knew, the lead character Ebenezer Scrooge was based on a counselor in Edinburgh. It took me eight long weeks to write, during which I wept, laughed, and wandered around London at night, long after most sober folks had gone to bed. Of course I wanted to draw my reader’s attention to the plight of the poor. I had visited the Field Lane ragged school (a charitably run school) in the Saffron Hill district of London, which had inspired me in some of my ideas for Christmas carol. What I observed at this institution was a sickening atmosphere … of taint and dirt and pestilence”

Interviewer : Your own upbringing couldn’t have been easy…

Charles Dickens: I craved a good education, but my life nosedived when father was sent to prison due to a debt. Following this I was sent to work in a blacking or shoe-polish factory, a very sobering experience and one I could never forget.

Interviewer: It could be said that the character Ebenezer Scrooge, is a very relevant character in modern times, as we have a world dominated by money and materialism. Your character Scrooge cares nothing for the people around him and mankind exists only for the money that can be made through exploitation and intimidation. From the spirit world have you noticed this?

Charles Dickens: It is true in London the kind of poverty I was used to seems to have diminished, but avarice seems to be plentiful. If anything greed is more prevalent in the modern day than it was in day. I see many children expect an I phone for their Christmas presents, while others scrimp about in the dirt on really low levels of sustenance. I see in modern times there are sweatshops in Bangladesh, children living in slavery and abject conditions.

Interviewer: You were a “superstar” in your times…

Charles Dickens: I was a master of self-promotion, I was mobbed in America, people even tried to cut locks of my hair. I performed to sellout crowds, the audience paying to hear me read. At the time of my death I could claim to be the most famous man in the world. At the same time I was a very private person and didn’t live the invasion of my privacy. I bowed out from public life at St. James’ Hall in Piccadilly by reading A Christmas Carol” my parting words were “…from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with one heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.”

Interviewer: Your private life was turbulent.

Charles Dickens: Well I fathered ten children, things were all right for a time, then there was increasing pressure as I became more and more famous and Catherine could not cope with this. Then I met Ellen Ternan and things grew even worse. When we split up wild rumors spread about, some said I was having an affair with my sister-in-law, Georgina. Those were very prim and proper times. I had most of the children living with me and encouraged them not to see their mother, I was a most unreasonable man in this way. I am now a restless spirit.

Interviewer: It has been an incredible experience speaking to you.

Charles Dickens: I must drift back into my spirit world.  Maybe I will return next Christmas.


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Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

Sex Robots are for real!


Sometimes authors must have outlandish ideas, or so they think, that turn out to be not too far from reality. Take one of my short stories called “Body Parts”. It is about a rich industrialist who goes to factory to get an android woman assembled. As the title suggests he gets to choose different body parts. The programmed woman will theoretically be the perfect wife, adhering to all his requirements, the problem is though, he gets more than he bargains for and gets an android that can think for herself. The story was inspired by the film the Stepford wives, about perfectly compliant wives.

Kane stiffened, preparing to give his wife-to-be additional
instructions. “Now, woman,” he growled, “I like my house run neatly
and efficiently. I like my women easy to manage, and to follow my
instructions to the letter. To the letter, do you understand? As to my
sexual requirements,” he paused, continuing with particular gravity, “I
prefer once a week, sometimes twice, depending on my inclination. I
generally like ‘missionary position,’ but I am not impartial to others for
Electra continued staring at him, as if processing his demands.
“You will be a compliant hostess,” Kane continued, “politely
socializing with my business acquaintances, both male and female, but
you must never be flirtatious. I won’t stand for that.”
Electra continued to stare fixedly at him.
“I expect perfect manners. You will be civil and accommodating
to me at all times.” Kane turned to Banshaw, “This isn’t too sudden or
difficult for her, is it Banshaw?”
“Not at all, Mr. Kane,” replied Banshaw adding dutifully, “our
products are one hundred percent reliable and carry a lifetime

The age of sex robots is not so far away. Adrian David Cheok, Professor of Pervasive Computing at London’s City University tells us “I believe it is going to be perfectly normal that people will be friends with robots, and that people will have sex with robots,” says Cheok. “All media will touch humanity.”

Apparently…There is already a market for realistic-looking life-sized dolls made from a durable high elastometer silicone material. Female dolls either have fixed or removable vaginas and cost anything from $5,000-$8,000. But they don’t do anything. They are unresponsive…but not for long…In time, another Professor Levy predicts, it will be quite normal for people to buy robots as companions and lovers. “I believe that loving sex robots will be a great boon to society,” he says. “There are millions of people out there who, for one reason or another, cannot establish good relationships.”

Maybe my story Body Parts is not so far-fetched. When will this happen?
Levy says… “I think we’re talking about the middle of the century, if you are referring to a robot that many people would find appealing as a companion, lover, or possible spouse.”
The researchers from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, predicted that robots will replace prostitutes by 2050. “The futuristic scenario of sex tourism suggests android prostitutes will be the in thing, eliminating the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections in an industry free from sex slavery,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

What does this say about the human race?
Would you prefer knowing you are engaged in sexual activity with a real person, rather than a synthetic being?

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