About Arthur Hall

Retired manager specializing in start-ups. Still work as an English language teacher (nowadays mostly online). Writer of short stories (sometime blogger). Have written much more than I have made public. Used to stimulate my creativity by writing teaching material. Have taught at university, grammar, comprehensive and free (Waldorf) learning levels. Lived in five different UK locations, Libya and four in Germany. Now in Wasserburg am Inn in Bavaria.

Punk by Arthur Hall

Prompt: She never wanted it anyway | Words: 300 exactly | Genre: Reality Fiction

Punk is highly adventurous. She goes where others fear to tread. She is quick-tempered and screams dramatically at any provocation.

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Genius or Collective Illusion? by Arthur Hall

Prompt: Mastermind | Genre: Fiction | Words:1000 exactly

Simeon Chasseur was a tall, gaunt, university-student of psychology living in a small, backstreet house in Brighton’s Kemp Town. For me, he had the other-worldly look of someone permanently under medication. He had a slight stoop. His wispy beard bobbed from side to side as he made a telling intellectual point. His eyes were deep set and underlined with grey skin. His head was never still. When I first met him I had the feeling that he was trembling as if under tension.

After a while, at that first meeting, I settled into my chair and listened to the range and depth of knowledge of this mastermind. He appeared to be a talented artist, literary and art critic who possessed that Socratian talent of bringing you ever nearer to his point by cross-questioning you. All conversation I made was met by a verbal examination so stringent that I was left feeling limp and inadequate. He wasn’t exactly inviting company but compelling he certainly was. The truth was that his Svengali-like influence drew me back to his presence, again and again. Nor was I alone.

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Bill’s List by Arthur Hall

Prompt 1:The List | Word Count: 1500 exactly | Genre: Childhood fiction (1950s)

The small cottage was dark but it was my safety, my home. The hallway was where I marshaled my armies and fought imaginary battles. Marbles were my cannon fodder and mother’s saucepans the targets. The kitchen was also the bathroom. Like magic you lifted off the work surface and underneath was the bath. My mother did that for me.

The neighbors were strange; the Turpins shouted and screamed at one another all the time and mother said they were disturbed and better to “stay clear of them”. So I did. The lady on the other side, Margarethe Baumgarten, was a picture framer and restorer. It said so on her wall which jutted out in front of our house. I think her nerves were not good because when I played football against her wall for hours on end, she became angry and said things which made me think she didn’t like children. Sally watched me play and kept an eye on me. She was under instructions from mother. Sally was a beagle mongrel bitch and my best friend.

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Amidst Shifting Dunes by Arthur Hall

Prompt: The Club | Words: 750 exactly | Genre:  Fiction

Deep in the Sahara amidst the shifting sand dunes, hidden behind stone tors and rocky outcrops there are a number of highly exclusive ‘gentlemen clubs’. Membership of them is conditional on fulfilling stringent entry qualifications. Those vary regionally throughout the desert but in essence the common denominator is maintaining absolute secrecy. Club meetings all happen behind closed doors and personal invitation is the only membership route. To be recruited it is necessary to have a sponsor. Those sponsors come from a select band of Master Brewers who have been sifted out over years for their brewing prowess under desert conditions. They represent the apex of the Sahara brewing craft. Their goal is the production of high quality, light and dark beers, home-brewed in the desert oil camps. The camps themselves are built in oases and are shady (some would say shadowy) places to escape the scorching desert sun where men can relax under towering, bushy trees around the pools when not drinking alcohol.

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Donny by Arthur Hall

Prompt: Coming undone | Words: 1200 exactlyGenre: Picaresque short fiction

Warning: contains swear words

There were just four things on Donny’s horizon: red-gray, belching, oil flares, shifting sand dunes piled high against the azure sky, the pumping station on the line up to Tobruk refinery and where on earth was the next drink coming from?

He was sitting on a hot, sand hillock (what else was there to sit on?) in the middle of the Sahara desert. Donny refocused on his nearer surroundings. Two sinewy, gnarled eucalyptus trees shooting high into the sky above his mini-oasis. Under a few more such trees about twenty meters away were two locals in white flowing Ramadan robes. They were clearly deep in conversation but since the conversation was in Arabic and Donny had never bothered to learn it in his fifteen years with the oil company so he understood nothing. He was about as interested in them as they were in him. Between Donny and the locals were two sheep whom Donny had befriended on the early morning flight from his oilfield to the pumping station.

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New Lives by Arthur Hall

Prompt: A new life | Word count:1 000 exactly | Genre: Reality fiction

“When I was fifty-six, I was reborn. It was not like it was a religious conversion; as a reborn Christian or anything like that. It was a socio-economic rebirth caused by happenstance, ageism and unemployment. As the euphemism goes ‘my circumstances took a turn for the worse’. I was a high-flying manager. A new subsidiary start up had been powered by me into profitability from scratch in eighteen months. Thirty-two of my target list of seventy-two clients already under contract with an eighteenth century manor house in its own park as my base. Everything seemed to be going as smoothly as velvet. Then like a bolt from the blue, the parent company became bankrupt. That meant goodbye to business lunches, clients, manor house and park.”

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A White Lie by Arthur Hall

Prompt: A white lie | Word count: 2 389 | Genre: Reality fiction

Elinor and Alex

They had almost arrived at their new home. Well not new – 1950s renovated. Their sons Larry and Michael had organized everything. They couldn’t afford their rambling country house any more and the park, garden and swimming pool were all too much for a couple in their seventies. Anyway the building was looking more dilapidated day by day. Then there was the boiler. It had celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday and was struggling for breath these days; soon its heart would give out.

They had found an enthusiastic buyer at the right price after their sons had suggested downsizing. Most of the money went to pay off the mortgage at the bank anyway. There wouldn’t be much left but they could have the ground floor of this house their sons were renovating and above them Michael could live with his 15 year old daughter. Family will be on hand for emergencies is how they put it.

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Vincent by Arthur Hall

Prompt: Going Home | Word count: 500 exactly | Genre: Monologue

Hi, I’m Vincent. My life has been full of acting. Not on stage but doing action-based activities, using nimble footwork, like surviving English schooling or agitating for change at university. Teaching against the flow; helping learners to grow but not teaching them to follow. Facing the challenge of building and staffing a training center in the Sahara desert. Playing ball sports but not so well. Holding forth in cafes, pubs and park benches. Broadening my knowledge with reading, listening, watching and from time to time, participating. Recording precious, comic or tragic moments in notebooks or sometimes on film or in sketches. Marveling at David Frost, ‘The Life of Brian’, the lyrics of Bob Dylan and the absurdities of so many colorful politicians. Regularly fulfilling work’s contracts to the letter and to the best of my ability and energy.

Much of that is over now. I am busy drawing a line in the sand. I no longer want to be a hard-working employee or a faithful servant of mother state; a homo economicus. A husband I will remain, but not especially good or over thoughtful; less uxorious. The whole grandpa package you can forget.

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