Written by Rob

Bell’s Palsy: Something for us all to think about.
Image Courtesy of, where more information about the disease can be found.

A smile or a grimace? Ted Jones isn’t renown for his happy disposition, yet he seems pleased to see us. “Who are you and what have you done with the real Ted?” I think, though I don’t dare say it. The last three times Claire and I came to the warehouse to deliver training, Ted had been conspicuous only by his growl and then his absence.
“Oh, it’s you pair of plonkers again, is it? Well, you’d better set up in the meeting room like last time and stay out of my way. Some of us have got work to do.” Ted’s disposition hasn’t changed to match his new-found demeanour.
“You’re supposed to be managing this warehouse Ted. I’d like to know what work you consider to be more important than improving it.”
“We’ve got spare orders to pick, pack and ship. I’m bloody certain our customers prefer my lads doing that than sitting in your training sessions.”
“Your lads sent three parcels to the wrong place last month. What do those customers think about your attitude to training, I wonder?”
“Yeah, well the only folk who don’t make mistakes are the ones who do nowt. I’ll bet you don’t make many.”
“So do you think we should carry on as we are or should we try to improve?”
“I haven’t time for this. Deliver your training!” and he spins on his heel and marches out the door.
Claire rolls her eyes at me, “same old Ted,” and unpacks the projector.

We don’t see Ted again until just before lunch. He struts past the training room looking very strange: unhappy, angry even, yet his mouth is twisted into a frozen smile. I can’t help but think that this facial aberration is for my benefit.

Mid-afternoon we hear a disturbance from down the corridor but think little of it. After our coffee break, Arthur comes back from the loo and tells us Ted has been rushed off to hospital in an ambulance.
“They say his grin got bigger and bigger, then he just flaked out at his desk,” says Arthur in wide-eyed amazement. “I’ve never heard the like.”
“I have,” offers Kathy. “My granny had the same. Her whole face went numb and contorted into a horrible grin. She looked like something in a horror movie. Turned out she had cancer in her saliva glands. It was bloody horrible till they sorted her out. Poor Ted, hope he’s alright. Bell’s Palsy they call it.”


  1. […] Rob has written many half hour challenges for us, so it’s no surprise that ‘Angela’s Touch’ has been hand-picked for our content this month. Last month’s HHC theme was, of course, ‘Book of Secrets’ and we thought this piece addressed the theme well, while working in a neat twist. Like his writing? Make sure you check out ‘Morning Tiger‘ and ‘Smile‘.  […]


  2. […] This is another of Rob’s short fiction pieces written on behalf of the HHC’s January theme ‘Inkwell’. Words can be harsh and cruel as well as loving and forgiving, so with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Rob was inspired to write something a little unorthodox, showing the consequences of words even when they are written in plain jest. If you like Rob’s writing, make sure you check out his other works, including ‘Angela’s Touch‘ and ‘Smile‘. […]


  3. […] Rob’s Half Hour Challenge entry was written last month under the theme Servant. We thought it fit quite well into April’s Simple Pleasures, but it also gave us some lovely dark comedy with a wicked twist. Poor Arthur, at least he didn’t shoot his wife – was that your original thought as well? If you liked Rob’s HHC, make sure you check out some of his other work, including “Thy Tears Wash” and “Smile“.  […]


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