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Why does it always rain at weekends?
by Kelly Sweet

Jeremy Swindon is feeling very down. Call it S.A.D. syndrome, if you like. It could very possibly be. He hasn't been to see his doctor - so who knows?
His friends Shelly Minton, and Paul Davis, have persuaded Jeremy to take a weekend-break in Dublin.
'Hopefully, we can help to cheer him up', explains Paul.

The plot begins when the three of them arrive at Manchester Airport, and check-in for their flight.

Title: Mr Grey
Author: Sonia Fisher

Shelly was dressed in a stylish, pink and black, tweed coat, with matching pink scarf, gloves and bag.

Paul had also made an effort.  Dark blue jeans (first time on), black brogues, paler blue contrasting jumper, with a black round necked T-shirt just visible around his neck underneath, topped by a black, mac-type, jacket.

Jeremy was clad head to foot in grey! Grey slacks, grey shirt, grey jumper, grey anorak, and you guessed it, grey shoes. His overnight bag - a grey rucksack.

Shelly and Paul both flinched.

"Good to see you've dressed up for the occasion, " Paul quipped.

Jeremy grimaced. He couldn't be bothered to reply.

Title: Three's a crowd
Author: Pamela Lloyd

The check-in girl 'kindly' found a squash of three seats together, for Shelly, Paul and Jeremy. Shelly took the window, Jeremy the middle, and Paul the aisle.

The pre-flight safety announcements and demos over, and take-off imminent, Jeremy decided he just had to go to the toilet. "And when I have to go, I have to go!" he asserted loudly.

Paul persuaded him that he should wait until they were in the air, and then make sure he was the first in the queue, after the seat belt signs had gone-off, of course. Jeremy wasn't at all happy with this idea, but eventually conceded when the flight attendant also explained that at this stage they would be certain to miss their flight slot if he insisted on getting out of his seat.

"That's why I hate flying," Jeremy hissed,  "it's so compromising."

Shelly and Paul glanced across the back of Jeremy's head, at each other.  Shelly silently mouthed a two-syllable word.

Title: Turbulence
Author: Wendy Littlewood

And.. of course it was a lousy flight. Just had to be didn't it? No sooner had they taken off;  the sky darkened to a threatening metallic grey. Rain clouds exploded, and raging winds rallied round to join the performance.

"Please keep your seatbelts fastened and remain in your seats," the captain hastily announced. "We are experiencing a degree of turbulence."  Classic case of 'speaking the obvious'.

Everone on board suffered; mostly in silence. The cabin crew kept a watchful eye over row upon row of ashen faces and gritted teeth. Absolutely no-one could possibly enjoy being so exposed to the elements.

Jeremy wasn't a well man. He dropped his head between his knees and moaned and retched. A dapper, efficient steward rushed to the scene but unfortunately was too late. Jeremy was sick all over his grey ensemble. He also managed to spray Paul and Shelly with a random sample of his last meal.

The steward hastily ushered Jeremy to the toilet so that he could clean himself up.  Turbulence or not, the stewards risk assessment training must have told him this was the best option under the circumstances. And it was. Paul's pale face had turned bright red with anger. Normally a placid guy, he was just about ready to land Jeremy with a punch. '"Why the hell couldn't he at least have reached for a sick-bag?" he asked Shelly. 

Shelly was too busy mopping herself, with tissues, to reply.

Title: No Baggage
Author: Geraldine Harper

The nightmare flight finally over, (but not the ordeal), our trio hit terra firma with very shaky legs. Dublin Airport was bustling, and the thought of a baggage collection scrum was more than any of them could face.

Shelly noticed a pungent aroma in the air as they jostelled for position by their pick-up point conveyor belt.
Not surprisingly, it was emanating from Jeremy, his clothes, and his breath!
"We need to get him to the hotel, straight away, so that he can get himself properly cleaned up", she whispered to Paul.
"Too right ", Paul replied, tight-lipped.

After a long and arduous wait, the conveyor belt finally trundelled to a halt.
Everyone had picked up their luggage - except poor Jeremy. Propped up with his back against a concrete support, he slid silently to the floor, head in hands.

Title: Not a good start
Author: Poppy Dean

10pm, ten hours after they had set out from Manchester, Jeremy, Shelly and Paul finally arrived at their hotel. Day one of their weekend break, a complete washout.

Jeremy had insisted on waiting a further two hours at Baggage Collection just in case his luggage turned up. Shelly and Paul explained that this just doesn't happen. If you are one of the unlucky people whose luggage doesn't make it to the carousel, then it doesn't miraculously appear there two hours later. In fact it often doesn't turn up for days, which, knowing Jeremy's luck might just be in time for him to take back home with him. But he was as stubborn as a herd of mules, and simply wouldn't be shifted. Not until an airport official came to investigate their loitering could he be persuaded to abandon his quest.

Not surprisingly, Jeremy was not a Happy Bunny. Who would be?  Paul offered to share his clothes with Jeremy. (There wasn't much difference in their weight, height and stature), but Jeremy insisted this was absolutely out of the question.

Still sprayed with Essence de Puke, on leaving the airport, Jeremy dragged Shelly and Paul around the cheapest stores he could find, togging himself out with more grey apparel and restocking up with very dodgy Y-fronts.

Title: Ice Break Hotel
Author: sarah H

When they finally arrived at their destination, Ice Break Hotel, they were greeted by a small egor like man (as if things couldnt get any worse). "I see you've come dressed for the occasion gentlemen; my lady. The party is this way."

Igor, as we will call him, opened a large gothic solid door,  and there in front of them stood a large towering statue of Jasper Carrot with grey y- fronts, Jeremy was thrilled to see such a sight, to the left stood a statue of Ben Elton with cheesey strings hanging all over him. "What's this all about Paul?" said Shelly, "you told me that we were going on saffari." "Put your bag down Shelly and go and find Ken," replied Jeremy.

The day was getting stranger by the minute, Ice Break Hotel was a place for comedians, drop outs and people at a loose stage in their life, Paul thought that this break would elighten, you know, bring a little variety to their lives.

Title: Chalk and Cheese
Author: Geraldine Harper

Shelly didn't have to go far to find Ken. Flummoxed and bemused she needed a drink, and made her way straight for the hotel bar. Ken was propping up the bar, wearing a black mop of wayward hair, and dressed in a safari suit.  A feather duster in one hand, and a pair of binoculars round his neck.

"Hi Shelly," he chirped, " I didn't think you were going to make it. It's my turn next. Do you like the outfit?"

"Ken!" Shelly exclaimed. "What the F. are you wearing?"

"Good old Paul," retorted Ken. "He said he would keep it a secret from you, but I thought he'd be sure to break. Is he in reception? And where's my laughing bro.? Did you manage to coax him onto the plane? Has he been his usual happy self, en-route?"

"YES, like you wouldn't believe," Shelly sighed. "He's in reception, covered in puke. (Don't ask). He sent me to look for you. Does he know that you're in fancy dress!?  Are you going to come and join us?"

"Can't right now Shell," Ken hesitated and then chuckled, "Like I said, I'm on next, and the ferrets in my pocket are playing havoc with my gerbils."

"On? On where? On what?" questioned Shelley, but Ken didn't answer, he was hurriedly heading towards The Ice Break Ballroom. He turned, and beckoned Shelly to follow.

"He's mad, " Shelly laughed to herself, thinking, " How can he be related to dour Jeremy?"

She shot back into reception to look for the guys,  to tell them there was no time to waste. They needed to be in the ballroom!

Title: A Class Act
Author: Mike Wallace

Ken was brilliant. From the moment he took the stage he had everyone in stitches with his sketch 'Tales of my safari days'.

"There I was on top of mount Kilimanjaro, when who should I come across but two Irishmen, Paddy and Murphy. Paddy had a parrot on his shoulder, and Murphy had a a budgie on each of his."

At this point Ken pulled a vivid coloured toy parrot and budgie from his pocket and velcroed them to his shoulders.

Audience titter.

"I asked them what they were up to, but neither replied, both were in deep concentration, breathing deeply, with an intense expression. Clearly they were preparing themselves."

Audience titter.

"Then, without no more to do, Paddy threw himself off the mountain. Moments later Murphy followed."

More titters.

"I looked over the top to see if I could see them, and yes, luckily their fall had been broken by some bushes, so I raced down the nearest track to see if I could reach them."

Ken raced around the stage, mopping his brow with his parrot, with a concerned look on his face.

"I got as near as I could, and shouted over to see if they were still conscious. Paddy, Murphy, are you O.K.?"

"No reply." Ken feigned desperation here. "No reply," he repeated pretending to sob.

More giggles here. Such a cruel audience.

"Then!" Ken exclaimed, "at last I could hear a faint sound. First it was Paddy and then Murphy."

"I don't think much to this Parrot Gliding," Paddy whispered.

"And I don't think much to this Budgie Jumping either, "Murphy wailed.

Title: The old ones are the best ones
Author: Kelly Sweet

 Shelly, Paul, and Jeremy …. yes, honestly, Jeremy .... were beginning to unwind, and get into the fun atmosphere that Ken was so good at creating. His jokes were neither new, nor original, but his delivery was really well timed, and his actions and demeanour were hilarious. A touch of the Les Dawsons and a smattering of Tommy Cooper. His expressions were indescribable. Brilliant, contorted, pained, overstated, and down right ugly, Non-stop levity for a good thirty-five minutes, the type that makes your face and chest ache and leaves you breathless from so much laughter.

Even Jeremy was actually laughing out loud by the encore, and as far as Shelly and Paul could remember, that definitely was a first!. 

Title: Over to You....
Author: Carl Glover

Ken ended his act with a bit of audience teasing, and banter. You know how it goes.

Feigning sadness "Well, I can see you haven't enjoyed my act, so I won't ask you to clap...."

Audience "Ahhhhh," followed by giggles.

Ken "I've given up my day job for this. No, not true really, you couldn't call busking a day job. No, no, not busting, well yes, you all look as if you are ...
"Toilets are over there. No! Please! Don't all go....
"It's true what they say about English and queues, but it's even worse with you Irish. Never mind join one, you start one... just to be polite...heh ... is that it?"

Audience "Groan."

"So, you think you could do better? Come on then. Let's be having you? Who's going to take over? Haha, all quiet now I see .... "

Then, to the tune of one of the disgraced Gary Glitters' old songs

"Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on......"

"No?  As I thought, all trousers and no mouth." ............

Well, that was true, until, who should jump up out of the crowd and make his way to the stage...?

Title: Purple-ass baboon.
Author: Jan Miklaszewicz

So Jeremy's on stage in an animal rage and he's pumping his hands in and out of fists; his mouth works open and shut but no sound comes out; his eyes are bulging from his head like boiled eggs.
 Ken up there smiling, winking, selling this crap and all these dumb assholes buying it.  Hell, Jeremy had written far funnier.  This was Ken through and through though; this was his problem.  He just didn't know how to keep hold of a good thing.  There was real symmetry when it all began:  Jeremy writing the material and Ken brass enough to get up on stage and spin it.  It was a beautiful arrangement.  Inevitably, it went sour.
 Even as kids back in Rhodesia there was a dominance in Ken ran like a seam of diamonds.  Had they been hatchlings, nested high on some mesa, Ken would have cast his brother to an annihilating doom without even blinking.  As it was, Ken vampired the best out of their mother and Jeremy the younger was left with her husk.  Their father never gave a shit about either of them, too busy regulating the mine and screwing any black maid who stood still for it.  Never could keep it in his pants.  Maybe that's where Ken got it from:  that effortless deceit; that self adoration.
 Only now does Jeremy begin to drift out of it, the realisation coming slow as molasses (much like waking from a drugged sleep).  His bile and his righteous indignation have done a Houdini and he's staring down the barrel of an expectant crowd.  No horn to hold and no breath left to blow it.

Title: Let there be light
Author: Lloyd Williams

    Jeremy stood motionless. He felt as though a thousand eyes were on him when it was probably closer to a hundred. Perhaps Jesus didn't feed the five thousand, perhaps he fed the five hundred but all the eyes made it seem like thousands. Regardless of how many there were the eyes continued to stare. Jeremy's stomach began to feel empty as though he hadn't eaten for a month. His fingers were in the first stages of a tingle, soon to be a full on tremble if something of worth didn't fall from his mouth which was now gaping for air.
    The eyes coninued to regard him, he had nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. The microphone was picking up every crackle of static, every pin drop but it detected no words from his mouth for there were none to be picked up. His mind was a blank apart from a voice yelling at him to say something, anything. Recite last nights football results, airline peanuts, oh God where's a sledgehammer and a watermelon when you need one?
'Er, ladies and gentlemen, anybody in from Ireland tonight? Heh heh. Er, can you hear me at the back?'
'We could if you'd say something!' came the reply which received one more laugh than Jeremy had,
'Right ok then, let's start with a joke, er, what do you call a dog with five dicks? Lulu and Take That!' From small sections of the crowd Jeremy thought he detected a faint reponse, yes, this is it, think jokes, just another joke, one joke, er,
oh come on! Just one more joke, ah!
'What's got two legs and bleeds? Half a dog!'
More response, it's working, it's really working,
Two parrots sitting on a perch, one says to the other, "can you smell fish?'
The response was growing with each delivered punch line, the cold audience were actually thawing. Jeremy had never felt so alive in his life. His confidence was growing and for the first time in years he felt as though he could compete with his brother.
'So anyway what the deal with the Catholic church these days, I saw a priest the other day with "keep out of reach of children" printed on his collar...'
    The lights went out and Jeremy was cut dead mid sentence. The room was plunged into total darkness, the only light available was that being emitted from the bar and even that was natural, not electric. It was obvious within seconds that a power cut had struck. Jeremy had been cut down just as he was getting started and just as his weekend and his life seemed to be picking up. He dropped the microphone on the floor and began walking dejectedly with the ever more hysterical crowd as they made their way to the exit and to daylight.

Title: To avoid or not to avoid.
Author: Jan Miklaszewicz

The sleeping arrangements suited Paul more than they suited her:  of this Shelly was sure.  That was the price she paid for letting him (Mr. Google) make all the arrangements.  But was there more to it?  Yes, Paul was tight as a duck's butt and yes, it was cheaper to get a double but at times it seemed he had another agenda.

The shower blasted away most of the travel grime as she shut her eyes and let the hot water spill over her face.  The bathroom was cold and she avioded stepping out onto those tiles for as long as she could.  Paul had already washed up, so she wasn't in any real hurry.  As Shelly had done countless times before, she held her dilemma up to the light and turned it back and forth.

Avoidance:  that was the real problem.  By turning a blind eye to Paul's clumsy allusions, she never quite put him in his place.  And she did like him:  he was a really nice guy.  However, she also liked to watch 'Friends'.  But day in day out, the show would soon bore and sicken her to the point where she would completely forget what she ever saw in it in the first place.

Non-avoidance:  that would make the problem real.  Simply by articulating her discomfort she would alter their relationship for good.  Thoughts alone can be neither true nor false, but turn them into words and open sesame:  can of worms; box of denial; bag of resentment.

Cheap fucking hotel:  bath towels like hand towels.  When she finally came out, covered as best she could manage, Paul was lying on his bed watching TV.  'What took you so long, sexy?'

Title: An All Defining Moment
Author: H. Hazelton

Jeremy found himself joining the press of bodies around the main exit of the Ballroom.    Someone had got one of the double doors open, but the banshee wailing that assailed the ears gave unoquivical notice that the meterological depression outside had deepened in roughly adverse proportion to Jeremy's own temporarily lifting.    He tried to make out his companions within the mass of the pushing, recoiling crowd.    Of Ken no immediate sign.    And where the hell were Shelly and Paul?     Not slipped off for a quick one at the commencement of his cruely truncated comedy debut, surely?  

      Well, the hurricane outside might explain the power cut at least.    Hurricane Michael, Jeremy thought, since we're in Dublin.    And surprised himself that he'd just thought of that.    Now, think of a better one....     'Two parrots sitting on a perch.    One says to the other: "Can you smell Fish?"     Michael Fish!     1987.    God, was this one of those all defining, changing moments in life?   Cupping his hands to his mouth, Jeremy called out at the top of his voice:

     "What did the electric meter say to the shilling?    Glad you popped in I was just going out!"

     Go on, beat that for a neat bit of extemporising then, Ken.    

     A gruff voice somewhere in the scrum:  "Why don't yer shut yer stupid mouth yer fuckin' English eejit?"   

      The wind vibration was starting to become scary.     Jeremy devoutly hoped his earlier thought about Shelly and Paul had been a false one.     If not at this rate it would not be so much of a case of "Did the ground move for you, darling," as the whole bloody building coming down. 

Title: Homeward Bound
Author: Kelly Sweet

8am, Dublin Airport. Shelly and Paul looking sheepish. Jeremy looking even more sheepish. Quite why he'd punched the concierge during the fracas the night before was anyone's guess. Jeremy hadn't offered an explanation, and Shelly and Paul hadn't asked for one. All they knew was that Jeremy had been asked to vacate the hotel immediately. Letting him stay until the morning had taken some effective persuasion skills. i.e.  Shelly pleading with the manager, and promising that the three of them would check out very first thing in the morning. Good job Shelly had been on an E.P.S. course. Her grovelling skills had been truly honed to perfection. When weeping and wailing didn't work, she feigned fainting. No kidding. She was flat out on the floor in reception. Paul nearly had a coronary. Jeremy looked on, perplexed.

But whatever, Jeremy had the upper hand. When trying to alert Paul to his evacuation predicament, he had also woken Shelly. Not surprising really as she had been snuggled up in Paul’s' bed.

ALL FLIGHTS TO MANCHESTER DELAYED - the message all passengers to Manchester dreaded - flashed on the departure screens. The weather had deteriorated. Torrents of rain raged down, and swept across the runway in impressive waves, carried along by the gale force torrents.

Paul and Shelly looked at Jeremy.

Jeremy, dropped his head slightly, and sighed, "Why does it always rain at weekends?"

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