Creative prompt (neighbourhood intrigue series #2): a disagreement

Long time followers of these posts will know that my usual format is to post a photograph of something quirky that I have seen, often an object that has been lost or left somewhere, and then add my own thoughts or questions as a kind of prompt for other people to have other creative ideas. In this mini-series of neighbourhood intrigue I have been trying out a few different things. I would be very interested to know if people like these experiments with the form?

I tend to try to adopt a mindful, curious approach to my day to day errands these days, as in these Covid-19 influenced times, I don’t often get to roam as far as I used to for inspiration. Recently I’ve been quite intrigued by some of the little clues I see to odd little interactions happening between people who live near each other, but may never have actually met.

One of the recent little dramas I have become intrigued by started with this sign:

Someone had printed and laminated a number of these signs, and stapeled them to fences or taped them to lamp posts along a particular strip of pavement along one of the streets where I regularly walk. Along that particular route someone else seems to regularly walk their dog and frequently doesn’t clean up after it releaves itself on the pavement. I have never seen the person with their dog, but can only assume it is a large dog from the available evidence.

After these signs went up, there did seem to be an improvement in the problem for a while, but then a few weeks ago the dog mess seemed to return, and this had happened to the sign:

This is where I leave the story for now, as this is where my clues run out for now. But I am curious to know, what will happen next?

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative prompt (neighbourhood intrigue series #2): Character study.

When I write these posts I have a few rules about what I’ll include. I don’t take photos of things on private property, or of people, or of things in cars. I feel like this would be an invasion of privacy as the people involved are very rarely there to ask permission. 

But I have been very intrigued by someone I see on a regular basis, mostly for a behavior I have spotted him engage in. He seems to like to hang around by a pedestrian crossing which isn’t far from the local train station, and you can often see him kind of ‘standing watch’. There is a coffee shop with outside tables close by, and sometimes he sits there instead. A few weeks ago I was waiting at the crossing and a car raced through is, continuing along the high street at high speed. It’s a busy area, frequented by families and clusters of kids going to school, so speeding here is especially dangerous.

I saw our guy jump up and pull a note book from his pocket and try to write down the number plate. The car went too fast and he quickly replaced the notebook in his pocket with noticeable frustration. This little action really intrigued me. As far as I can see he is not a member of any official neighbourhood policing project, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen him involve himself if situations that may relate to that kind of thing.

I find this really intriguing. What does he think he’s doing? Why is he doing it?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative prompt (neighbourhood intrigue series #1): Love note

One of the things I find myself doing when I’m out and about is puzzling about things that I see that seem a bit odd, or intriguing. For creatives I think there can be great benefits in trying to practice a kind of mindful curiosity where ever you are, no matter how mundane or suburban that place may seem. Seeing a hint of something when you will only ever know part, or indeed nothing of the actual situation can give a creative mind free reign to invent something new.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to publish a collection of creative prompts that are based on some of the tiny neighbourhood intrigues that I have noticed over the last few months.

I saw this note on the pavement in the street outside my house. I didn’t open it or read what was inside as I felt this would be an invasion of privacy, and so I do not know who it was for, or what is said. But I was very taken with the little hand drawn heart on the folded flap. Someone had taken care when making this note.

It made me wonder how it ended up on the pavement, looking like it has been casually discarded. Had it been dropped by mistake, or thrown away? Who had written the note? What does it say? Did the person it was written for ever read it? What did they say?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: Space Blanket

One of our neighbours is having a loft conversion. The house is across the street from us and on a daily basis we can see the progress being made. I’m not exactly sure on the shape of the conversion, as the work is happening to the part of the roof that faces away from us, but we have amused by the rather casual approach to health and safety on the part of the builders in their day to day work.

A few weeks ago they filled a skip with old bits and pieces from the house as well as left over materials from their work on the conversion. As the level in the skip rose I didn’t see too much to interest me in there, although a couple of the other neighbours did have a poke about for useful left overs. Once the skip was full, they started piling things around and about it, I guess hoping that as other people took bits out, they would be able to fit more things in.

I saw this shiny material one day after it had rained quite a lot. I think it is some kind of insulation, although I am not entirely sure. It reminded me of some of the fabrics they used to use on episodes of Star Trek (I’m thinking Next Generation here, but the principle probably applies more broadly than that), where people would wrap themselves is improbably shiny blankets or wear outfits covered in sequins. It certainly has a space age feel to me, which made it stand out in our rather mundane suburban street.

Maybe the loft conversion is a cover, and someone is quietly building a rocket ship in our street?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative prompt: Toaster on the street

I saw this toaster near my local train station. We live in an area that seems to be particularly attractive to fly tippers, and I often see electrical items dumped on the street. Fridges seem to be particularly popular, although by the time I often see them they have been covered with all sorts of other rubbish and are less attractive to me for a photo.

It was relatively early in the morning, and there was bright sunshine streaming over the top of the toaster when I took this, giving it the feel of a new thing, even though it clearly isn’t. I quite like this kind of scene for its idea generating potential. You have something domestic, that really belongs inside a kitchen, sitting on the pavement outside. It is often the juxtaposition of a familiar thing or situation, set against an environment that is mismatched that can lead to the association of two thoughts that may not have gone together before. This can be a fruitful way of generating new story concepts.

What happens in the brain is that two areas of cortex that were previously not really associated with each other, are bought together briefly, and in that moment a new association can form. New ideas may spring from there. I’ve written a bit more about this in the resource I put together for my newsletter subscribers (which you can join here, should you want to).

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative prompt: Lost on the highway

I’m sorry this week’s prompt is late. I’ve been quite unwell recently and seem to be struggling to recover completely. I took a day yesterday to try to relax a bit.

I saw this toy pony in the road while I was on may way somewhere. It had been left right in the middle of the road and was amongst a pile of other bits of rubbish. I normally wouldn’t try to take a photo of something in the middle of the road, but it was early in the morning and there were no cars about so I darted across for a quick snap.

There is something about the shock of the coloured hair against the damp grey of the tarmac that I find interesting. When I was a child this brand of toys were chunkier and less colourful. I did not have many because I was more interested in making things than playing with the kind of toys people seemed to design for girls back then. Things haven’t changed much to be honest!

I am wondering how it got there? Is this a lost little toy, dropped by a passing child, or has it been abandoned during a clear out or house move? Maybe this brave little pony has set out on an adventure of its own?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: lost in space

I saw this little guy while I was in a rush to catch a train, taking the picture with haste. This is why the picture looks a little blurry around the edges. But I’m not worried about that, I kind of like it. It gives the sense of him being lost in a much larger landscape than was the case on the day.

When I took the photo he was resting at the foot of a tree in the gravel surrounding it. It reminded me, for some odd reason I can’t quite place, of the old black and while TV series ‘Lost in Space’ that I sometimes use to watch in the morning on the weekend, even though he clearly belongs to another much more modern entertainment franchise. There is a much more modern version of this TV show now, which I have watched and liked, but new versions of an old favourite seldom live up to the nostalgia factor, do they?

The cheerful look on his face makes me think that he is looking forward to what ever adventure life may throw at him next. What do you think that may be?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: You shall go to the ball.

I spotted this single wellington boot stranded on a traffic island in the middle of a busy road. It was another photo that was a bit difficult to take because there not a lot of space in that particular spot and I don’t like to linger long at all between the two lanes, even when there is little traffic like there was on this occasion. But the little boot spoke to me, and I did stop very briefly to grab this little photo.

When I saw it the phrase ‘you shall go to the ball’, immediately jumped into my mind, reminding me of fairy tales and lost glass slippers. There have of course already been modern day versions of cinderella, although I do not recall any of them featuring a tiny ladybird wellington boot.

This particular prompt has been the starting point for a new, wistful creative project for me. Look out for news about that this Christmas time (hopefully!).

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: a sacrifice to the weather gods

We’ve had some turbulent weather recently, and on one of my morning walks I spied a number of umbrellas that had been lost of discarded on the pavement. The shape of this one was particularly attractive to me. The canopy was caught by the wind and billowed outwards, like a tent or parachute. The shape, even while lying on the floor, still suggested something protective to me. (I actually filmed a bit of footage of this and posted it in my mini creative prompts series on YouTube – if you would like to see that click here).

While I’ve not included this post in my recent series on ‘Offerings’, I feel like this picture is related to that little group of prompts. When I took this picture we had experienced the particular blustery combination of wind and rain that guarantees using an umbrella will be a struggle. The attempt to get to the train station in time while keeping relatively dry may involve the sacrifice of a noble umbrella to the gods of wind or rain on days like this.

This one seemed to be in relatively good condition, leaving me to wonder who may have abandoned it to the weather, or what kind of rush they may have been in to result in them leaving it there.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Offerings #3

I saw these coins while I was on the way to taking my son to nursery. Someone had left them on a bollard on a traffic island in the middle of a busy road. I managed to get this photo on the way back. It’s not the best photograph. The traffic island is quite narrow, and I didn’t want to hang around with the pram as it was a bit of a precarious position to stand in.

But I did want to get the photograph because it sparked an idea for me. Someone had left coins in the middle of a crossing, reminding me of the many myths of the crossings people needed to make from this life into the underworld. For example in Greek mythology the soul of a person would need to pay the ferry man Charon a coin for passage across the River Styx.

The sight of these coins at the crossing made me wonder. What could the person who left these be paying passage for?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.