Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Time to share some news!!!

Some time ago i entered 'Navy Blues' into an online short story competition.... Results are in... (Drum Roll....)  Well, i didnt actually win but i recieved an 'Honourary Mention'!!!!   For my first competition im pretty damn proud of that!! (If only i had entered the version edited by shirley!! It may have done better).

But anyhoo...... Onwards and upwards.....

Friday, 20 July 2012

With Thanks.....

After posting my first story 'Navy Blues' on here, i have made the aquaintence of Shirley Davis, who has very kindly given me some pointers and valuable advice.
So... onwards and upwards.... I have revised the original story and amended the blog post.

Once again... Many thanks to Shirley for all her help & advice

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Navy Blues

By Simon Doble

It was raining. It usually was this time of year, and Oswald Byrne would know this better than most. Only the buttery glow of the street lamp he leaned against illuminated his side of the street. He stared across at the Blue Cafe, empty save for a young giggling couple sitting in the window.
            At sixty-two Oswald was no spring chicken and the cold was seeping into his bones, but unperturbed he waited. He has always waited. For 24 years he has waited, and for one day in each of those twenty-four he has waited here.
            Seattle rain is bitterly cold, especially in October. Each year Oswald made a mental note to put on an extra layer next time, but never did. Was this optimism or stupidity, Oswald wondered. His being here on October 3rd each year, dawn until dusk, could surely be seen as either. Oswald didn’t view it that way though, to him it was fulfilling a promise, a promise he made the day he left. It was outside this very Cafe and the words echo within him as strong today as they did all those years ago ...  “I love you and I will wait for you.” Those words had meant the world to him and in his darkest moments at sea he had clung to them like a life raft. The kiss which followed was his seal.

            For the first four years of the war he wrote to Alice every day, and she in return. Despite the physical absence his love for her grew. The thought of their future made life at sea just that little bit more bearable.
            He would tell her of his crew mates, of those he came to know as friends and were then lost in battle. He would tell of the rare, precious moments when the crew of HMS Stronghold would bond in laughter and, for just a short time, the war hadn’t mattered.
            She would tell him of the devastation back home, how the bombings had destroyed so much. But she would also tell of the united front of those left behind in the towns and cities while husbands, sons and brothers fought for their country. And of how they were thankful to see the postman deliver letters confirming all was well with their loved ones. Yet for some, every day would bring sad news and tears.
            He kept Alice’s letters safe in an old ammunition box. He read and re-read each letter so many times in those lonely moments at sea, each one confirmed to memory. He felt her presence on that deck, every day.
            But as the years passed, the letters were more infrequent, and their content less personal. Oswald always feared the day would come when she would fall for another man but he accepted it; a man who could give her what she craved and deserved. He had often asked himself how long one woman could wait without true companionship? And although she never wrote to tell him, he knew he had lost her.  
            April 1943 was the last time he wrote to Alice. He told her, as he had on many occasions, that one day he hoped for them to be sitting, holding hands, growing old at the Blue Cafe on the anniversary of the day he left for war. But when the last letter arrived for him with barely a mention of their future, he allowed her to slip away, damning the Navy for taking the one thing that kept his spark alive, but hoping she had found what was missing in her life. Despite the hurt, he clung to the hope that she would still be waiting for him when the war ends. Without that hope he had nothing.

            Of course, that was many years ago. Alice was not there to meet him when they pulled into dock. Oswald remembers that day vividly; the flags, the banners, the trumpets, the cheering as each sailor walked the gangway, the tears of joy on each and every face as lovers embraced, fathers hugged children, mothers comforted sons. But for Oswald and a select few, there was nobody. Home was all they had, but at least they had that.
 Her old address was now a school; her street renamed to ‘Edward Close’. Did she move away? Did she marry? Have children? Maybe she didn’t even see the end of the war. Perhaps she was just another unknown casualty. He doubted he would he ever really get the answers he wanted. That was what hurt the most now. Not knowing.
The Blue Cafe was all he had left of her and he was not ready to give that up just yet. And so here he stood, another year passing, still hoping.

The rain was unrelenting and served as a cruel reminder of all the years he had stood there dreaming, gazing through the window of the Blue Cafe, not once going in since that day in 1939. He wanted that moment to be shared, and despite the cold he was uncompromising.

From time to time people would hurry past the Cafe, head down and determined, no one stopping. A city gent scurried by with his girl, holding his jacket aloft as a makeshift umbrella, proof that chivalry still existed occasionally.
            Oswald pondered how society had changed since the last time he saw Alice; how life was so much busier now, yet peaceful and free from war. How would they have spent their life together these past years? A cottage by the sea or an inner-city town-house was a nice thought. This was the day he allowed himself to dwell on such things, for Oswald had not had a bad life despite the emptiness he felt. Twenty years as a banker had paid him a decent standing and for that he was thankful. Yet he would swap it all, right here, right now, as every year.
He decided to wait for another hour, and then he would be on his way. Ten o’clock would be late enough. The last hour always passed slowly, yet at the end he felt desperate. He hated the moment when he would have to turn away and walk back along Grant Street. This year would be no easier than the last.
            And so, Oswald slowly returned to the real world; wet, cold and lonely. His mind had again wandered but at least it passed the time. The clock on the building next to the Cafe read 9.50. There was a young guy opposite him, peering through the window of the Cafe. Pushing the door he went inside. Oswald watched as he took a seat near the giggling couple, and then stared out into the night. He was soaked, water running freely from his short, spiky hair, down onto his collars and dripping onto the table and floor. It was quite a pitiful sight.
            A waiter approached this man and deposited a menu in front of him but didn’t get his attention, which seemed to be elsewhere. Oswald was curious as to what he was staring at; were they looking at each other? He was probably wondering why there was an old man standing out in the rain when there was a perfectly dry haven opposite. Oswald imagined how much of a sight he himself must look.
            Time to go, he thought to himself. With a deep sigh, and once again disappointed, Oswald turned and walked in the direction of the nearest bus stop, his hands in his pockets, head down, marching purposefully.
            As he walked away he could hear the door of the Cafe open, but didn’t look back. He never looked back. As usual he told himself next year could be different, but for now Alice will once again reside in his memory, locked away from all that know him.
            He heard footsteps on the wet pavement, quickening behind him. Just another commuter escaping the rain, no doubt.
            “Excuse me Sir!” The footsteps slowed behind Oswald. What had he dropped? Patting his pockets Oswald turned towards the voice. The face of the man from the Blue Cafe confronted him. Oswald took a step backwards.
            “Hello young man, how can I help?” He could see this man was in fact merely a boy, twenty years old, maybe slightly more. Oswald had never been a good judge of age. At least the boy’s manners eased thoughts of any wrong doing. He was well dressed in a suit and raincoat and despite the conditions his shoes shone. Oswald could hear his late mother’s voice resonating, ‘Clean shoes say a lot about a man; never trust a man who doesn’t spend time on the detail’.
            “Sorry to bother you sir, my name is Philip. I hope you don’t think me rude, but are you Oswald Byrne?”
            Stunned, Oswald took a few moments to assess the question. Nobody here would know him, of that he was certain. “Well, yes, I am indeed. And you are?” He raised his eyebrows, intrigued as to how this person knew him, yet not knowing in return.
            “Pleased to meet you Sir.” A broad grin spread across the young man’s face. Oswald could see Philip thought he'd met royalty. When he offered his hand in greeting, Oswald returned his own. Despite the increased confusion, he couldn’t help but allow him a slight smile in return, especially as Philip had become quite animated and very obviously elated.
            “I am very pleased to meet you, I wonder if I may have some of your time please?”
            “Well, I’m not quite sure what this is all about and I have a bus to catch and ...”
            “Alice Goodridge!” he snapped.
            Oswald froze. A sudden thud in the pit of his stomach, his heart rate doubled almost instantly. Had he heard that right? Alice’s name rang through him like a church bell. He never truly believed he would hear her name again. “W ... Wh ... Wha ... who ... er ... I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Surely his mind was still in yesteryear, he told himself he must have rain in his ears and couldn’t have heard correctly.
            “Due to illness my mother passed during the war, but recently I have uncovered some old diaries of hers and ...”
            “Alice is dead?” Oswald felt as though his whole life had just simply stopped, like an old broken watch. Taking a deep breath he looked over Philip’s shoulder, along the street to the Blue Cafe. He could picture Alice’s face as they sat drinking tea all those years before, he could feel her touch, her kiss. The true reality that he would never see her again slowly took hold. Suddenly he was alone. “During the war, you say?” The finality of this hit him like a hammer to the skull; she had not given up on him. She had waited for him, just as he has been waiting for her. The illness would explain the fading out of the letters and the less enthusiastic talk of a future.
            Oswald was overwhelmed. He was tired. He felt empty and very much alone. He could hear Philip speaking …
            “I’m sorry Sir, I hope I haven’t upset you, it’s just that...”
           Philip’s face was showing obvious concern yet he seemed keen to continue his story, to explain the intrusion.
            “How old are you, Philip?” Oswald snapped back to reality as a light flicked on in his head. He shocked himself with the thoughts he was now having.
            “I’m twenty-six, Sir.” He grinned.
            Silence spread as Oswald worked out his response, trying hard to understand. Hours passed, or maybe it was simply a few seconds. That broken watch seemed almost reparable now.
            “Philip, would you care to have coffee with me?” Oswald smiled. For the first moment in a lifetime, he truly smiled. He gestured for Philip to walk with him and together they retraced their steps along Grant Street. “So tell me about your mother ...”

(This literature is the sole ownership of Simon Doble and may not be copied or used in any publication without prior consent)

About the Author

Welcome to my blog!

Despite being a Software Developer for majority of my working life (Including now) i am new to this blog malarky, so just bear with me.....
Ok... i guess i should write a bit about myself (gulp)...

Born in Harlow, Essex 1st April 1971
Mother Ann, Father Joseph, Sister Susan

I have two sons... Joseph (Oct 1998), Bradley (Sept 2000), and a Labradoodle called Henry who, without doubt and exception, Is the best dog in the world!

I live with my partner Allison.  Quick plug for her art & craft blog.... www.lovinglyhandcrafted.blogspot.co.uk

As mentioned, i am a Software Developer. I think my actual title is Senior Analyst Programmer at the London Metrolitan University.


In my spare time (And sometime at work!.. shhhhh) i write. Im working through a writing course at the moment but ive also written some Short Stories which i would love to have your opinion on, so please..... feel free to tell me what you think, however painful. (I will post them here soon)