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Showing posts from March, 2018


My grandfather once told me that he’d spent his whole life in summer.   I was a child then and I didn’t understand, but I believed him.  There was sunshine in him, always warmth, and he took delight in everything.  Being around him was like an easy purposeless walk on an August evening through the wooded lanes around his house.   I’d walked those lanes and knew each turn, each fence, each sunbeam.    Those lanes had seen a thousand thousand of me -- the cowboy, the knight, the pirate, the explorer, latterly the thwarted romantic hero.   We’d walked those lanes for years and countless summer stories had been told in the dappled light. My summer was coming to an end.   As September slouched over the threshold I’d leave for university and take up a course that was practical and appropriate, which would be the gateway into growth and progression and forward planning and productivity and purpose and perhaps, someday, a comfortable retirement in which I could take long and easy walks to n…

Helping Hand

I clean the shop, I mend the shoes, I help the downcast maiden choose Her future prince, her future bright, her perfect brave and charming knight I bless the baby that she bears, I honour every oath she swears,
I prophesy of days unborn, of trials to come, of oaths foresworn Of fallen thrones and mirrors smashed, of crowns cast down and glories past And then I turn and start again, I’ve seen each story wax and wane
And in each tale of destiny, in each strange tale there’s always me A little voice, a hidden hand, a sprite perhaps with so much planned, A crone perhaps, a crone I am, Or sometimes yet a wizened man, Or youth in green, or far off light, or voice that whispers in the night,
My favours come to those in need, my favours plant the fertile seed I’ll stack the cups up on the table, to spin the straw to gold I’m able I’ll give you all the riddles’ answers, I’ll train the girl to join the dancers, To sing with angel’s voice and soar, to bring her love back from the war
I’ve seen …

Little Rosie - Chapter One

(Click here for the PROLOGUE)

I had been fortunate enough, in the two years after my father was murdered, to avoid the attentions of White Kenneth and his runners.   Many of the denizens of St Giles did not.   He preyed upon the isolated, the lonely and the helpless.  And the young.  Especially the young.   Do not think, sir, that one such as White Kenneth would have been stirred to sympathy with the plight of an eight year old orphan girl who found herself without protectors.   He would not.   He would have licked those pale lips of his and given the order for a couple of bag-men to go a-hunting.  And he would have mentally estimated his profits, and imagined spending them even before those bag-men returned with their quarry.

But I was sharp witted and sly, and well aware of the dangers.   I kept well clear of White Kenneth and his dreadful crew and although my path and his did cross, rather dramatically, that was not until much much later and ended rather... messily I'm afraid to …

Little Rosie. Prologue

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Rosie filches everything Sneaking, snatching, this and that Crafty as a creeping cat Bolt the doors, the shutters bar, Rosie reaches near and far, All in rags, not dainty frocks Little Rosie laughs at locks
I may be an old woman, young man, but there is nothing wrong with my memory I assure you.  Of course I remember that silly little ditty.   I suppose I was a little bit flattered by it. after all how many little girls are immortalised in playground chants and songs?
Oh don't look so surprised, goodness but you're a dreadful hand as a liar.    No don't act all innocent sir, for it won't wash.  You knew full well that I was the Little Rosie referred to in that piece of doggerel and don't dare deny it.   That's why you're here, and why you've spent the last few weeks ingratiating yourself with all the right people.  Or the wrong people, as most would say, eh?   Oh yes I was fully aware of your little investigation, and of all you…


The young man sat uncomfortably on the statue’s plinth, back turned to the god who glared down stonily on the disobedience of youth.    He was strong, and naked except for a brief white cloth around his waist and he was staring ahead of him at the door that led into the uncertain night.
The young woman entered silent-footed and stooped to pick up the discarded robe from the floor, a maiden’s robe of silk,  and held it in both her hands.
“Pyrrha,” she said.
He smiled.  “Not my name,”

“Pyrrha,” she said, challenging.   “You’re going away.  He’s taking you away.”

The young man nodded.   “Not taking.  My choice.   Been hiding too long.   There’s a war.”

She narrowed her eyes, and her voice conveyed that to him though he did not look up.
“There is always a war,” she said.  “Always.   Always men willing to kill for money, or honour, or the sheer love of killing.”

“Or glory,” said the youth whose name was not Pyrrha.   And she knew that she had lost him.
“You’ll die,”
“Who doesn’t,” he said, “T…

The Vigil of the Thorn

“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles,  but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.” 
-Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

The old man was dead, and he was still turning the world upside down.   If Mother Wytlaf had been the sort to curse she would have cursed his name and his memory and his ancestors, she would have cursed his flesh and his bone and all his posterity.   She’d have cursed him three times three, standing, sitting and lying, with spittle and piss and blood, in song and shadow and silence.
Not being the sort to curse she stood instead on the banks of the river watching as the small narrow boat drifted downstream, fire already catching in the oil soaked cloth and straw that surrounded the old man’s body.
A warrior’s funeral he had asked for.  Here in the high valley of the moon where no weapon could come and no blood shed save for life and healing.  He’d asked for a warrior’s funeral and her maidens had pleaded for his request to be granted.
Those same maidens stood …

Cold Artistry

They took him at wordpoint (the gun was not visible but had been mentioned) into the basement.    It was cold and well lit and there were shelves on which the usual basement detritus lurked dustily.  In the centre of the floor was a gurney on which lay a dead body.   That did not shock him, he had seen too many of them for the simple truth of meat-hood to bother him.  Guns bothered him and he was trembling.

“Do your thing,” said the unsmiling man who’d led him there.
“Yes, of course.”  He looked at the body.   She must have been beautiful in life, but death’s alchemy made all gold into base metal in time.   “Photograph?  From before?”
“Thank you,” he said.   He put it on the gurney by her head, and opened his case.
He massaged the dry skin of her eyelids to loosen them, make them close more naturally, rubbed dry lips with Vaseline until cracks vanished.    He took up a stiff brush and foundation cream and began to work.
He took pride in this.  His cosmetics could not cover enou…

Sister, Waiting.

I start and end here on the timeless rocks, and the sea is endless.   Here is the place where I rest, and feast, and rejoice, and mourn and where I wait, where I always wait.
Here on the rocks where once I saw long low ships with bright sails, distant things with black winged birds above them seeking out land.    Those ships knew me, though not by name, and sometimes I reached out with my need and I took them.
Sunrises and sunsets turned the sea to fire and blood more times than could be counted, and the distant ships grew larger, and stranger, sailed and sped faster and more often.   And sometimes, from time to time, when it pleased me, I took them.
I watched as brief men came to the rocks and flickered anxious lives, and stern eyes raked the land.   A tower rose , iron girders obscene here in my presence, and stone and glass.   They set a light, a shining eye to turn ancient mother night into their harlot to dance at their command.   And sullen I sat on the rocks and watched the sh…