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by Sheila Cornelius

‘Welcome! You are through to OffTtrust, the Greyfield Sites regulatory body. Please listen carefully to the following options:
Press one for Abbeys, Monasteries and Hermitages;
Press two for Castles, Keeps and Bunkers;
Press three for Stone Circles and Long Barrows;
Press four for Roman Villas, Walls and Amphitheatres.
Press five for Windmills, Barns and Follies. Or please hold to speak to an advisor.’

Jim swore, pressed 3 and listened to a recording of ‘The Lark Ascending’. He was about to hang up when the chirruping was interrupted.

'Good morning and thank you for calling OffTrust. My name is Colin. How may I help?'

‘It's about one of your ruins,’ said Jim.

‘The name of the edifice and its and location, sir?’

‘Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain.’

There was a slight pause, then: ‘It’s on my screen now, sir. What seems to be the problem?’

‘It’s spoiling my view. I’ve complained to the council but they’ve passed me on to you.’

‘Just a couple of security checks, sir. If you could confirm your name and address.’

‘James Stanford, 673 Old Sarum Tower.’

‘Ah, yes, Petrificarum estate, built by Heritage View Developers. And how may I help you today? ‘

‘They built it too close’


‘Like I said, they didn't allow enough space. When I look out all I can see is a grey slab blocking the light. I’d like to get my hands on whoever did the measuring.’

‘Number 673 Old Sarum Towers is one of the ‘affordable homes’, I believe, sir.’

‘I’m right on a level with one of the cross-pieces. I have to keep the lights on. Nothing grows on my balcony.’

‘And on the other side, sir?’

‘Druidstone Tower. ’

‘I understand. Your complaint has been registered and you should hear something within 28 working days.’

‘I’m not moving,' Jim said quickly, before Colin could hang up. ‘Make sure they know that. I need to be near my daughter.’

‘Oh, don’t worry. It may be possible to modify the edifice, sir.’

‘You mean alter Stonehenge? Are you sure?’

‘Yes, sir. Land decontamination and clearance costs millions on the brownfield sites, so taking an arch or two from Tintern Abbey or a few bricks out of Hadrian’s Wall is cost-efficient.

‘What about confiscating some of the land owned by the toffs and royals instead? Compulsory purchase, that’d release some building land.’

‘I will make an onscreen note of your suggestion, sir. Is there anything else I can help you with today?’

‘Well, there is one thing, yes. It happens every solstice, regular as clockwork; we get thousands of gawpers with cameras and old geezers in nightgowns. I know it’s only twice a year, but something needs to be done about it.’

‘Ah,’ said Colin. I’m afraid that comes under ‘Rites, Gatherings and Festivals’. Transferring you now, sir. Thank you for calling OffTrust.’