Sunday, 27 December 2015

"The Paper Samuri"

This is a short story what I wrote.  It's free on Amazon kindle just now where it has a lovely cover, so is my book "Two All - All for One".

The Paper Samuri

Nobody could put their finger on what made Aunty Audrey so different from the rest of us: no dreadful, traumatic event had occurred to threaten her existence, nor anything which may have warped her sense of security in those vital formative years; she hadn’t even had to suffer under the tyranny of school bullies, an affliction so common to quiet, thoughtful children, buffered as she was, by her insurmountable levy of siblings.  So why was she so different?  One with a romantic turn might now consider that perhaps she had been a vivid, lively creature, cruelly left dangling at the alter - or worse still - doomed to gaze out on stormy seas for a lost love, which that harsh mistress had snatched from her bosom, with Audrey forever standing on a cliff top, wedding veil in hand, as the wind caught and frayed the gossamer fabric as it had her hopes and dreams.  But nope, never happened.  Audrey was just different, but she was no less loved for it, and it would be a long time—although nowhere near long enough—before any of us would understand her, even just a little.

I like to think that out of all of us, I most closely resembled her: I had her nose and her tiny feet - even if they were burdened to support legs that could kick start a jumbo jet - but truthfully, that’s pretty much where the resemblance ended.  Audrey was the second oldest of six with cousins by the bucket load.  There she was, always neat, tidy and demure— and there was the rest of them, and eventually, the rest of us, all ruddy cheeks, big bones, and bigger appetites with never a hair in place and not a gaudy fashion we would not embrace.  Their mother, my Granny Ellen, used to say—generally with her arms folded under her enormous bosom (and bosom it most certainly was - not breasts, not boobs and absolutely not chest – for this was the physiological feature for which the word “bosom” was created, and having described Granny’s…its work was done)—that if it wasn’t for their father’s grey-blue eyes staring out from below Aunty Audrey’s sandy fringe, it could have been she’d taken the wrong baby home from the hospital, and that somewhere out there were some nice, quiet folk with one of us: a big, boisterous cuckoo, in their genteel nest.  I think we would all have agreed that we got the better end of the deal with the oasis of ever unruffled calm that was Audrey Christine Gilbert.
As far as I was concerned, the only irksome thing about Aunty Audrey was the rest of the family’s well-meaning but none the less demeaning assumption that she was to be pitied. Not a family gathering came and went, be it a funeral or a wedding, that in some clique—wherever two or more (usually) female relatives were gathered—at some point the conversation wouldn’t inevitably get around to “poor Audrey”.  Perhaps there would be an unwanted lull in the constant chatter, and a passing reference to, or an actual sighting of, my Aunty would inspire the mantra of  “ocht, tsk, poor Audrey”.  Spurious assumptions were made regarding her well-being and sense of worth based on the dogmatic beliefs of generations of women unwilling to consider there could be life beyond the conventional norm they had so eagerly embraced, and certainly on no more than a surface-scratch knowledge, even among those closest to her, of the unknowing recipient of their collective concerns.  A maudlin, midnight confession of longing and loss was about as likely to have poured from Audrey as unicorn tears from the kitchen tap.
One of my earliest memories is of watching Aunty Audrey at some interminable wedding.  Uncle Fraser, her brother, the baby of the family and only boy, then probably 24 or 25, was twirling her around the dance floor.  I recall thinking how pretty she looked as her light chiffony dress in pale pinks and blues swirled around her slender legs. I was taken aback by the words from one of the grown-ups far above me: “Poor Audrey”.  I couldn’t see what was so poor about my Aunty.  That evening, at least to my eyes, she looked like a fairy princess, so light on her feet, so ethereal as she turned and parried Uncle Fraser’s over-enthusiasm for vigorous spinning. I can remember just holding on to my mother’s skirt, arm wrapped around one of her substantial thighs, thinking of Cinderella, and if only my Aunty had long, blonde hair flowing down behind her, she would have been perfect.  Bloody Disney.
It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I understood why my older female relatives considered Aunty Audrey to be “poor” – it was, of course, the lack of a man, or even men, in her life.  The irony being that they spent more time bitching about the ones they had, even than they did considering the pitiable plight of Aunty Audrey and her manlessness.  Not only did my Aunty not have one of these treasured, flighty creatures, so hard to lure into one’s net, but, as far as any of them knew, she’d never even had a boyfriend, not even a date— not even a vague suggestion of one!  They blamed her shyness as having left her invisible to the male population, and it seems that apparently, she had never really “done herself any favours”.  I laughed scornfully at them (though never, ever to their faces – I fully intended to keep mine located on the front of my head, thank you very much), these over-weight, over-burdened, rapidly aging women that teenage me loved and despised in equal measure. Poor Audrey!? Huh! She had her own house, a good job in the office at the village High School and yes, her adored cats – Boris and Jim.  Teenage me envied Audrey’s lifestyle: she could do what she wanted when she wanted; queen of the remote controls in her own palace. And her place was always tidy, not cluttered by toys and screaming brats and their snotty-nosed friends; stained and scuffed by people and life. Just because Auntie A was single and hadn’t followed society’s script that had dragged them into drudge-dom, that she hadn’t been brow-beaten by hormones into breeding, didn’t make her “poor”…in fact, it was quite the opposite!  And I’d have told you this had you asked, with spitting vehemence, before storming off to find more enlightened society…or a sneaky wee drink…or someone to snog.  I recall at that time, to my subsequent embarrassment, actively seeking Aunty Audrey out, imagining some kind of kindred free spirit - but I never found it. It wasn’t mine to find.
Just over fifteen years on, one husband and two children later, and to my disgust, I heard myself clucking with the others over Aunty Audrey.  It was at a fortieth birthday bash for my Uncle Fraser’s wife, Cathy.  My daughter, Cassy, was three years old at the time, my son, Kieran, just four weeks, and as I stood there with him on my shoulder, patting his little back and smelling his sweet baby smell, I heard the dreaded words escape my lips: “Poor Audrey.”  Once delivered, never to be retracted, I reeled with horror as I realised I had just initiated myself into the gang I had once thought so misguided and risible.  The words tasted dry and sour, even as I said them, and they hung in the air in front of me, mocking me, condemning me: catch us if you can – take us back – can’t?...oh deary, deary me.  I’m sure I even heard a door slam as my teenage self with all her angst and vision, all her pith, vinegar, heart and soul, stomped out for good.
Time and years slipped by for me then in a constant roar like sea-surge, as tantrums aged into dramas with all the accompanying nagging worries and niggles, forever hanging round my neck like an itchy scarf you have to wear because someone who loves you made it. Are the children eating enough? Probably.  Am I eating too much?  Yes.  Well, husband Kenny’s definitely eating too much.  Are they growing and learning as they should?  Are they being scarred because I work part time at the library, and they have to go to Mum’s on a Friday after school?  Does the dog keep puking up because he’s seriously ill, or is he just an annoying, refluxing bastard?  Does Kenny still fancy me, really, or am I just convenient and can’t run fast?  Should I ban the Playstation and Xbox and insist they play outside more (Kenny and the children)?  But what if they get stolen by a paedophile (not Kenny) or run over, or run over by a paedophile?!  And then all of a sudden I realise time has done its thing, and that that was one predator I no longer have to worry about as I watch my lovely teenage son going out with that hatchet-faced, push-up bra wearing, foul-mouthed little harpy that works at Tesco—yes, I got a look at her Facebook page!  And in the midst of it all, Aunty Audrey kind of slipped out of sight and out of mind for a lot of the time, filed under: “she’s not said otherwise so she’s fine”.  And she was.  But every so often a vision of her alone and lonely would flood through me; a lava flow of guilt scorching the seams that held together my pride in our close knit family.  And I would rush around at the first opportunity - probably with kids in tow, school bags and swimming kits flying - maybe even accompanied by the refluxing bastard (the dog, not Kenny), and all for her sake, of course.  I never thought to call ahead and check that she wasn’t busy.  What could she possibly have been doing anyway that a magnanimous visit from myself or some other busy family member or members would not be a welcome break from?  It never occurred to any of us that we might be intruding.

In the end, I was the one who found her.  A book by an author I knew she liked had come in to the library (I work there full-time now that the kids are at university), so I’d decided to take it around to her since it was a Wednesday and we close at lunchtime on Wednesdays.  I stood there just looking at her sitting in her chair, smart and prim and waxy dead.  I said her name, but I knew she would not respond; wasn’t ever going to again, and I crumpled down on the couch opposite her and cried for my dearest, sweetest Aunty Audrey.  She was only 72 years old.  She hadn’t been ill, hadn’t complained of any aches or pains, but there she was, a shell of skin and bone that had once walked and talked, albeit quietly and with the minimum of fuss, and looking pretty much as she always had, really, and the one word that sprang into my head surprised me: it was content.
It was as I sat there with streaming eyes and hitching chest, just staring at what remained of this person I loved; seeing the years I had known her and the time I had spent with her become the past, that I realised something was different about her corner of the living room, the place where she always sat, and I stared for a moment, quite uncomprehendingly, at this rift in the otherwise unaltered room.   
Next to Aunty Audrey’s chair was a long, thin table.  As far as I could recall, it had always been there, it may have even been there since Granny’s day.  I certainly couldn’t imagine it not being - and always covered by a maroon table cloth that draped to the floor with a white lace one at an angle over it.  On top were usually a couple of books and maybe her china mug with garden birds on it resting on a coaster, of course, and towards the back, two polished bronze statuettes about thirty centimetres high, one depicting a woman in traditional Japanese dress, the other a samurai warrior, his sword on his back and his arms folded.  These two had always struck me as slightly out of place.  The only other ornaments in the house were old-fashioned ones that had been my grandparents’ or the appalling tat we had given her as children.  The statuettes, by contrast, were beautiful, and I had wondered before why they weren’t more prominently displayed instead of being stuck in the corner.  On that day, I discovered they had a purpose, which was more than to be mere objets d’art.  They were, in fact, utilised by my Aunty, by virtue of their weight and size, to hold back the table cloth, allowing her easier access to the paper on the shelf below.  There were stacks of it, reams and reams, going all the way back to the end of the shelf under the table, five bundles high, with more on the floor underneath.  On the left side, the side closest to her chair, most of the paper was still in the manufacturer’s outer wrapping with what I would come to know as katakana characters stamped along the edge - the suppliers name and address - with the top most sheets unbound, awaiting their turn to become more than blank canvases as the paper along the far side already had.  Here, the bundles were in varying sizes and tied up with the fibrous ribbon, the kind that you see around fancy soaps in gift soaps, and on these I could see Aunty Audrey’s meticulous handwriting in black ink.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but not looking to see what my Aunty had been up to would have been the act of a saint—so hold the canonisation, Your Holiness, because I was going in, and wild Papal bulls couldn’t have stopped me.  Eyes fixed on the top most sheets, my vision still blurry, I reach towards the stack of thick, creamy white paper and in particular, the slender sheaf on top with its carefully tied straw ribbon. Suddenly, a cold dread like ice water stole through my bones, and I glanced sharply up at my dead Aunty, imagination having conjured up a clawed, cold hand  reaching out for me, grasping my wrist in a rictus grip; stiffening neck creaking around to stare at me accusingly, with dead, opaque, eyes.  Of course, my Auntie’s body remained just as it had been, not a single hint of reanimation having ruffled her composure.  Too many horror films, I told myself, too many late nights reading ghost stories by kindlelight, which was probably why I nearly had a heart attack when the phone rang.  Loud and clear and here and now, it needed my attention, demanded that its needs be met, and an hysterical, high pitched whine escaped me, a sound I could not have ever imagined coming from my lips, as I froze, arm still outstretched, fingers brushing the pages.  I crashed back to reality, looking up at the dear, sweet, gentle woman I loved, beginning to cry all over again, (all snotters and soaking, red cheeks  - not at all how Aunty Audrey would have done it, I’m sure), and stumbling through to the hall, picked up the receiver, ending its shattering tantrum.
  It was my mother – my soothing balm and plaster, my answer to everything, my hot water bottle and best comfort; she got the ball rolling, calling the doctor, calling the others - an old hand already in the formalities and ceremonies of death; she took charge.  But before any of them arrived, I pulled the tablecloth down to hide Aunty Audrey’s secret, although its days as such, I knew, were now numbered.

And that number was three.  It was three days later when, for the last time, Audrey Christine Gilbert left the little house in which she had lived all of her seventy-two years.  And after what remained of her on the Earth was sunk beneath its surface, while everyone else was at Aunty Flo’s reminiscing and eating sandwiches, I made the excuse of having go and feed the Boris and Jim replacements - Custard and Frank.
The house was so still and lifeless – dust motes seemed to hang in stasis, sounds had hard, dull edges - even the cats seemed unnerved when we entered, and after a cursory examination, they retreated back outside to the still, fresh day.  Sparrows and assorted other small creatures needed their place in the food chain made clear.  I went on through to the living room but paused in the doorway, staring over at her chair and sighed loudly, the way you only do when you are alone and your heart is hurting.  Finally, I walked over and, hesitating for a moment, sat in her chair. The words would you steal my grave so fast made an unpleasant and unnecessary visit inside my head.  I could not begin to imagine Aunty Audrey ever saying such a thing, in life or in death, but it was enough to increase my discomfort tenfold, and I slid off it onto my knees in front. 
I was nowhere near so squeamish about lifting the tablecloth; however, as it had already occurred to me that the last time my Aunty had done so, it had been deliberately, as though she had known she would not be waking again when she dozed off that afternoon three days ago.  If not, if the Grim Reaper’s business appointment had surprised her as much as it had the rest of us, then surely there would have been some sign of what she had been doing:  paper fallen from her grasp or askew in her lap, a pen balancing in her hand or fallen to the floor - but there had been none of these tell-tale signs that her final breath had been mid-sentence.  I picked up the topmost bundle, the one I had reached for before, and undid the straw ribbon.
What I was to find out in the subsequent weeks was that the paper she used was of the finest quality, handmade in Japan, and that there were over three hundred straw-bound bundles.  The title of each piece was written first in the Japanese characters called katakana, then translated into letters I could recognise but written in romaji and finally translated into English.  There were fictional histories and legends, biographies, geographical notes and even some rough sketches, but mostly they were stories based primarily around two characters, not always, but usually, the main protagonists.  Beautiful, spellbinding, romantic, thrilling adventures, not at all old fashioned and fussy, but tales full of vibrancy and a lust for living, and all set in a fictional world—at least fictional for everyone but Audrey.  For her, I believe, it was real (or as good as), and she was able to describe every element of this place and its people, right down to the finest detail.  I think this is where she lived for most of her life, in waking and in dreaming.  She must have left this pale world behind whenever she could: it could offer her nothing compared to her world, this place where Audrey Gilbert shone and was truly alive.
But it was the first bundle – the one I had started with, which confirmed for me that Aunty Audrey knew her time with us was almost over.  It started with a covering note, which said that the dream she was about to retell had given her everything she ever wanted, that he had opened a door for her and she had more than happily walked through it as it closed behind her.  She said that she had never written it down before for fear that it would break the spell, and he would be gone. But finally, she understood such a thing could never happen. Having read through most of her work by now, I know who “he” is, but these opening words had left me so taken aback on the day of her funeral, that I went over them twice, thinking I had misread. She ended her note with the following:
“To those I love who love me back, and for those who care to know, here is my dream from all those years ago, the spark that lit the tinder.” I turned the page.

Kami No Samurai - The Paper Samurai

Sheer black sky, no stars, and only the merest hint of light, midnight black all around, but familiar, not threatening, not cold, a warm summer’s evening, but so dark – even a hand in front of my face was barely perceptible—the whiteness of my skin affording it a ghostly luminosity from what little light there was. 
I walked along this street on which I have always lived, but in my dream it felt so new, so otherworldly, and so clear, as though these were not the murmurs of a sleeping mind, but that I had slipped through dimensions, and only a hair’s breadth away the real world ticked on; people and cars going about their business, passing through and around me as unaware of my presence as I was of theirs.  But in my dimension, in my place, all was still; all was quiet and devoid of any life but mine. Nothing moved, not a sound broke the perfect silence.  I became aware of the grass beneath my bare feet where the road’s surface ought to have been: so cool, so silky, so soothing: the perfect balm. It felt to me as if I had run for miles or years on a hard-packed, unforgiving surface before I reached this place.
To my right was the row of houses set near the edge of what a teacher once told us was a raised beach. A geological feature of the landscape left over from the ice-age, it had risen above the water when the ice melted all those millions of year ago, and the land exhaled, relieved of all that weight of frozen water.  And to my left was the grassy verge that normally led down to a field below, the sea loch beyond that, and at the far side black mountains rose up straight from the water to challenge the sky.  But tonight the field was gone, the water much, much higher than usual coming almost up to the lip of our raised sanctuary, but still feeling somehow distant, so black, reflecting the starless sky above and around.  It looked in that dream world like a fathomless pool of oil, and not a single wave ruffled its surface.  It was then, as I continued my slow, steady pace that I saw a burst of radiant light break through that limpid surface, lasting only for an instant, and then it was gone.  Moments later, there was another.  Moonlight…it was moonlight.  In this place, it seemed to be that that was where the sun’s silver sister hid, not behind clouds above me, but beneath the black water.  The warmth of realisation dawned in me: these flashes of fragmented light were for my benefit, allowing me visual access to this world, making me part of it, not a stranger who had stumbled in.  I was welcome here.
I had walked almost to the end of the row and was nearly at my own gate when I became aware of the white forms standing in a still, silent line on the opposite side of the road from my gate, and at first I could make nothing of them, so I squinted, trying to make sense of what I saw.  I felt no fear or apprehension as I walked towards them, becoming aware that they were human forms, clothed in white.
There were eight of them standing still as sentries, heads bowed slightly beneath pointed cowl hoods so that I could see very little of their faces, and I became aware that their robes were of a style with which I was familiar.  My visitors were samurai in layered coats and trousers, their feet in wide, laced boots, hands tucked deep into the folds of their coat sleeves.  Curious and fearless, I walked towards them until I was no more than a foot away.  I peered at the figures—warriors, monks, whatever they were—studying them, studying their clothing, so stiff and so white realising that the fabric was not made of some heavy linen or canvas but of paper – thick, matte paper, perfectly smooth and utterly flawless.
I walked back up the line until I stood beside the first of them, reached out to touch his sleeve to feel the paper fabric.  But instead of my fingertips encountering the resistance (as a waking hand would), it sank through! And yet the samurai did not move.  I glanced up at him, staring, trying to see his face, trying to see if I had angered or even discomforted him, but he made no sign he even knew I had intruded within his form. Looking back at my hand, sunk up to the wrist within him, I marvelled at my fingers, shrouded in the insubstantial garments and within the insubstantial man.  I appeared to be no more burdensome to him than a butterfly on a tree branch, so I continued with my exploitation of his serenity, sweeping my hand back and forth, but only gently, as though swirling the surface of a crystal clear pond.  What had looked so solid moved around my fingers like smoke. Oddly elated, and even, I would dare to say, feeling slightly mischievous, I walked back down the row of sentinels, trailing my hand through one, then into the next, and the next, and the next – looking up at them, trying to see if any of them made a single sign that they knew I was there or what I was doing, but they did not stir.  Then, one from the end, my hand encountered something solid, right at his centre.  Startled, I looked up at him, and although his head was still bowed, I could see a smile on his lips.  “May I?” I asked and he nodded, just once, still smiling, and tentatively, I took hold of the object and withdrew it.  It was a fountain pen, not dissimilar to the one I am using now, the kind I would always use for writing our stories, and I studied it, entranced, as though it were the rarest of rare artefacts, as though it were a precious thing that held all the secrets of the world, and in a way, for me, it did.  I looked up at the paper samurai – kami no samurai, this one who would be my Paper Samurai - Watashi No Kami Samurai - and he was looking at me now, his smile full of love and tenderness and hope, and I did not want to go, I did not want to leave him—ever—but I knew I had to, at least for now, because dreams like these have a limited life span…it is only dreams like mine that do not.

Amongst Aunty Audrey’s effects, we found no scored-out list of publishers or agents; no stock covering letter, either, summarising who she was and why they should consider her work, and there was no sad folder of rejection letters.  I even scoured ebook lists in case she had self-published on-line, unlike my mother, who seemed to think that pressing a single key on a computer would result in her inadvertently hacking into the FBI’s database, surfing some pornography and giving away her bank account details, all while appearing topless on Youtube, Aunty Audrey was quite adept with her PC.  But there was no sign of her ever published online.  She clearly had had no interest in sharing her stories with the world; they had been hers and hers alone…until now.

Kenny and I moved into the little house, and in effect, I became the custodian of her work.  It’s all still under the table where she left it, and I’m still working my way through it all.  The hideous maroon table cloth and her scary, old chair are gone, but the statuettes of the Japanese lady and her samurai I keep beside me.  I fully understand their significance now.  Not only had they been chose for more than their aesthetic beauty, but for more than their worth as weights, too: the figurines of the woman and the quiescent warrior were Aunty Audrey’s secret - hidden in plain sight.

Friday, 18 December 2015

F£*king S$%ming C?@£s

I was awoken this morning at 5:30 to the insistent, soul-jarring mewling of the telephone through in the hall.  In truth, I was probably awoken by my poor husband who'd heard it first and was trying to make his way out of bed to answer it but with his back he wasn't quite as quick out of the blocks as me.  I shot out of bed, ran around the bed, didn't so much as bang a toe on the treadmill but went straight into a column of comics.  Groped frantically for the door, all the time hearing - "briiinng, briinnng,briinnng" - which translates at 5:30 as " ANSWER ME BECAUSE LOVED ONES NEED YOU URGENTLY - life or death - ANSWER ME BECAUSE LOVED ONES NEED YOU- life or death."  

Finally, I made it to the trilling beast to hear "Congratulations you have..." SLAM.

On the plus side, I think the entire paragraphs of expletives I made up whilst falling back asleep were extremely creative.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

New Phone and Singing

I have a new phone.  I love my new phone. Just one problem in that right now there is no signal - hey ho - all part of living where I do.  That having been said, I was in the middle of Edinburgh in the summer and signal was intermittent at best.

There is another slight issue - I can't figure out how to send photos attached to texts - how am I supposed to textually bore the family with pictures of the cat?! How to do it seems really obvious but when I try it doesn't work, and before you say it, that was before we had no signal. I tried going on the EE help page - I'd have been as well rubbing a stick on my back and studying the bark for answers.  I can, however, put pictures on the computer.  This is our sink:

Here's a nice thing.  This link will take you to Coisir Sgire a'Bhac (Back Gaelic Choir) winning the Ladies competition at the National Mod in Oban this year. In case you don't know, I'm the short arse with the black hair standing in the middle :)  The song is Cadal Cuain. It's very sad one about a drowned lover.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

"Styx and Stones"

I've been doing a creative writing course to try to kick start myself into finishing my sequel.  It's been a lot of fun.  For our final submission we had to do a 1000 word piece. Here's mine.

Styx and Stones

The shadow of Edinburgh Castle loomed portentous as a divine hand over Miriam, but it needn’t have bothered with the theatrics because she barely noticed. Her attention was fixed on the frost-coated gravel at her feet. Staring down through a curtain of scarlet hair, she marvelled at how such mundane, grey chips of rock could be altered so dramatically. They twinkled like jewels, even in the half-light, turning the drab pathway to a crystalline ribbon draped in a constant meander through the silver topped grass of Princes Street Gardens. She stopped, mesmerized.  It wasn’t that she hadn’t witnessed Jack Frost’s work before, but she’d never really taken the time to appreciate it in detail - but then everything was precious today because today was new. Though new wasn’t always good. Miriam would have given anything for the old, for the familiar, for the status quo of no time ago, and all the glittering, stupid gravel in the world wasn’t going to make today better.  Angrily, brows furrowed, she scuffed at the surface to expose the stones’ dank, muddy, true colours, but they remained as they were, impervious to her efforts. Sighing, she left them to have their moment of brilliance.  It wouldn’t last.  Nothing did.
Last night Miriam had been at a party and was still wearing her favourite gear: the red coat with black laces up the back, red mini dress with black insets slashed up from the handkerchief hem, black leggings and, of course, her red DMs – real DM’s, not knock offs. Her mother had gone halfers on them.  Miriam stopped in her tracks:
 “Mum. Aww, jeez.”
At that moment, Miriam became aware of a dark, smudgy figure on the far side of the park coming towards her.  It was a bag lady - complete with obligatory shopping trolley - manfully trundling her way along the path.  Miriam stared for a moment. The woman appeared to be waving at her. Miriam shrugged, dismissing the idea.
 “Must be to them,” she decided, looking back the way she’d come at the policemen scurrying around erecting a tent and stripy tape to cordon off the area where her body was and with that, all thoughts of the bag lady evaporated in an exhalation of regret.
  “Poor body,” she thought.  She hadn’t even said cheerio to it, thanked it for having her for the past seventeen years, but it had all been a bit of a shock really and then that jogger had run straight through her.  He’d carried on a bit, then stopped and come slowly, unwillingly back to where her body was lying curled up. She’d watched as he stared down at the blue-lipped form wearing her clothes, her face, her hair silver-sheened with frost.  The man had touched her, tried to rouse her and she’d attempted to speak to him but got as much response as he had from her pathetic mortal coil. She’d observed him, in numb fascination, as he muttered to himself, panicked fingers fumbling with the zip on his bum-bag, car keys falling on the path as he extracted his phone. He seemed nice, his face full of sorrow for her as he waited for the police.
 “Poor wee girl,” he’d said, his voice catching with emotion and that had nearly set her off bawling. Then the police arrived and the business of her demise began. She’d backed away not wanting to face or consider what indignities would be meted out upon her erstwhile flesh and bone now and in the days and months to come. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes in the sure and certain knowledge of …well…bugger all right now.
It wasn’t a biggy, her death, it wasn’t murder or anything.  That’s what made it all less fair.  If there had been a drama, some sort of seminal moment thing…nah…it still wouldn’t have been worth it. But at least she would’ve been memorable, more than just a salutary tale, something for the Morningside biddies to cluck over, making assumptions about her and her family. Alcohol and minus temperatures, her favourite coat not being really that thick, her cheap leggings a little too thin, it had all colluded against her. Miriam Thompson - good girl, clever girl, girl with a bright future – was never going home.  She’d felt it creeping up on her slow and stealthy like a predatory cat. But it hadn’t mauled her. Hypothermia had wrapped itself around her and held her close as she drifted away.
“Hello, girly,” a ratty old voice said and Miriam jumped.  The bag lady was standing staring at her – beady dark eyes in a peatbog face.  Miriam looked over her shoulder to see who she was addressing, then looked back at the raggle-taggle smelly person in front of her.
 “Are you….talking to me?” she asked.
“’Course I am.” The old woman’s breath was in keeping with her appearance.  Minty-fresh would have been so wrong.
“Oh. So are you, you know, dead too?”
 “’Course not, sweetpea. Do I look dead?” she smiled.
“Do I?” Miriam asked, indignantly.
“Yes, my dear love, you certainly do,” the old woman said, gently. “But I’m here now.  I’ll see you on.”
“Where am I going?”
“Somewhere new.”
“Can I go to see—?” 
“Best not too. For their sakes. Anyway, you don’t want to wait around too long and get stuck, fading away to mist and tatters and then no more. It’s a miserable end,” she said, shaking her head.  “You come on with me now.”

David Matheson, whose jog had come to an abrupt end and Detective Inspector Henderson stepped back on to the path having been forced to move off of it by a bag lady and her overloaded trolley.  They watched her trundle on her way, talking away to herself.  The detective shook his head, amused despite himself, by the retreating figure.
“Old Kirsty,” he said. “She’s some character.  Totally in a world of her own.”

Friday, 9 October 2015

A Farewell To Sanity.

I used to have a friend called Joan.  We had been friends for nearly ten years I'd say, but I have decided that as of today, she is no longer my friend but my tormentor.  The reason: she has talked me into doing a 10k Beast Race with her.

First I said no - or more precisely I said something along the lines of: "bugger off, not a chance, are you flipping mental!" (I can be a little forthright).  But then I thought about it and decided it would be easier in the long run to do it with her than listening to her banging on about it.  So I said yes. THEN I went on the website (see above link) and saw the obstacles.  WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING! WHAT THE HELL IS SHE THINKING!!!  At least I run (slowly) - she doesn't even run!!!!

So, we went for our first trot together today - in the pouring rain - using a fitness app she downloaded which is designed to get new runners going.  I learned a number of things 1) I should not stay up really late blethering with my husband while necking a bottle of wine and expect to be able to run the next day without wanting to barf or die 2) Joan might not have done any running before but she walks up hill a lot faster than me and 3) we can't even stop talking when we're running.

Next week she will have to go out herself as I am away at the Mod singing with my choir.  By the time I get back from a week of zero exercise and over-indulgence I expect she will be leaving me in her wake as I collapse after the first 60 seconds in a sweating, shaking heap on the sand.

Oh well - it'll be a hell of a way to cock a snoot at the fiftieth birthday I have looming towards me in 2016 and, as Joan said, our biggest obstacle will probably be laughing too much at the state we're in :)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Things I Slept Through:no.1

We had THE most fabulous show of Northern Lights here last night!!  They were wonderful!!!

........or so I'm told....................ffs! Yep, missed them -  again.  Beth, who's new in the village saw them.  She got a call from a friend back where she's from in Lichfield at 11:15 to tell her to go out and have a look - so Beth saw them! I didn't. I was at that time slipping into the arms of welcoming arm Orpheus. 

This is at Garry Beach just up the road............

Grrrrrrrrrrr!  I am not going to go to sleep for the rest of the year!  I refuse to sleep until I witness this.  Pass me the coffee. 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Cats, mice and Destiny - the sequel.

Yep, my assessment of the likely outcome of putting Kirby and Syd (the cats not the kids) in the barn to scare away mice was pretty accurate really, as far as Syd went anyway.

Kirby appeared untroubled, if a little put out by her incarceration when I went up to the barn the following morning, and merely marched out looking a-grieved. Syd however, well of Syd there was no sign.....and then I heard him.  He was meowing plaintively, the cry of a lost soul. Looking around, calling to him, I eventually saw him right up in the rafters squished among assorted junk - all saucer eyes and shrouded in cobwebs and dead spiders, staring down at me with a mixture of terror and accusation in his beady little eyes. The upshot was I had to rescue him.  I had to get a ladder and lift him down - dead spiders and all!

The above was a few months ago.  This Saturday when I went to the barn for my gardening sheers I found the rubbery plastic handles had been gnawed to pieces - our tiny rodent visitors had clearly returned.  And so it was that last night I carried Kirby up to the barn again and shut her in for the night to do her worst.  Syd though...... I left him to do this.  It's what he does best.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Cooking - other people are good at it.

This was last night's tea  - I thought it was so funny I took a picture.
It did actually taste okay and even looked alright.......after I stabbed it.  There's not many things you can say that about :)

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Random Crap About Slugs................

"I didn't know this but Teresa - the village Polytunnel person - told me these things about slugs. The big ugly black ones eat dead foliage and basically clean up - they will occasionally nip a piece of green but it's not their bag. The wee brown ones are PLANT EATING BASTARDS FROM HELL (no- that's a direct translation from their Latin name "Planticus Eatingis Bastardos bhuam Hellius". I haven't even made that up! Okay, maybe I did a bit). BUT the big stripey brown ones (think they are called Tiger slugs) actually EAT the wee brown buggers. So, in short....slugs: they may all be slimey but they aren't all bad."

This was a facebook post I did  earlier.......... but then I thought:

                                    THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW THIS! 

 I for one had been discriminating  against all slugs - as a job lot - always. I'd see a slug and it "joined the Navy" ( that's a former neighbour's euphemism meaning he'd chucked it into the burn. Thankfully none of his children ever actually joined the  real Navy or I may have been forced to call the Police just in case).

I have been enlightened to the various varieties there are of our invertebrate cousins...... 

-  WOW THERE - "cousins" ?
- Okay...not cousins... very distant............ somethings.....friends? Possibly acquaintances?..........Okay, okay, lifeforms I am familiar with that share my breathing space.

 I no longer view all gastropods in the same light  - as an entity to be unilaterally vilified.

oh joy.............

Tune: Rise Against: "I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore".

Monday, 24 August 2015

I've Forgotten How to Do This!

I kind of ran out of steam with my blog - much as I ran out of steam with my sequel. I posted those first two chapters for a few beta readers to have a look at  - it seemed the easiest way at the time to do it. There is a lot more story filed away but it isn't organised properly and the biggest pain in the bum for me is I can't think of an end that blows me away enough to be happy with it, and without a good end...well, I feel it's all a bit pointless.

Many hours of tossing and turning  and gurning and bitching have been spent trying to come up with something that just makes it all worth the effort of writing it all down and going through all the carry- on before it can be published. I do hate a book that has engaged me all the way through and then goes limp in the dying moments, so I wouldn't want to inflict one on readers who have been kind enough to give what I'd written a try.

They say everyone had one book in them - maybe that's true and Two All was mine.

Big D x

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Rough - still a work in progress

This was Yaldabet’s destiny. All else had led to this barren hillside.  Every torment and trial he had faced had been a test of his faith in the Ceidriat – the Four – Amortae, Imurai, Esantet and Verliac – blessed be the Ceidriat and blessed be their will.
Raising his voice so all those assembled could hear, Yaldabet lifted his arms to the pale unhappy sky and praised their holy names again and again, beseeching them to look upon the desperate, wretched people before him, shivering in their rags and in their hunger and grief, begged that they, the blessed Ceidriat, would once more walk upon this godless earth, reclaim it as their own and let him, their humble servant and these, his willing disciples, do their bidding and bring every breathing being throughout the land and across the hostile seas to know them.
Geflin Con Van watched the gaunt, bearded figure in stained white robes call to his gods, the jagged edge of madness in his voice. Was this man who had come among them from who knows where, really their salvation?  Were they - the Theydonites - harriers of the Geboch mountain cannibals; slayers of  Ovrefial’s murderous tribe; the very ones who had sent the Clon Sea Raiders home when all others had been enslaved, really driven so low by pestilence and hunger that this man and his gods were their only salvation?  That they should even be listening to him would have been beyond comprehension but one short, yet bitterly long year ago. Only a year ago, so hard to believe it, four seasons, thirteen months, all in the past now those happy days when his wife and daughters were still alive, when his proud father yet breathed and battled, when that dear man had five living children and twenty one grandchildren, not just this wretched one who had let his people be enthralled by a mad man and stranger.  Guilt racked through Geflin, a physical thing that squeezed his heart and ground his soul further into the earth.
Con Van looked around at what remained of his people.  Grey faces and sorrow, tattered matted furs and fabric hanging from bony shoulders, leather belts pulled tighter than they had ever been meant to.  How sorry they looked, how weak, how hopeless and all focused like starving dogs on a promised meal at this one who called himself a prophet, a teacher, a guide.

Yaldabet stepped proudly towards the centre of the elongated diamond shaped array of stones he had instructed his promised people to create. It was as his vision had shown it should be: one megalith at each point to represent each of the Ceidriat, smaller stones to mark the boundaries and the slab mounted to waist height at the centre. Upon this alter the captured Geboch squirmed and fought his bonds, gnashing filed and broken teeth, howling and screeching at his captors because even one so dull of mind as he understood what fate had in store for him.

For the first time in too long Geflin felt more than despair within him.  The voices of his ancestors cried out for him to awaken.  How long had they been calling to him?  How long had he been deaf to their cries? This was not the Theydonite way, these gods, this murder – it was all wrong. What kind of beings required such and act to be undertaken – even to a Geboch?  What manner of creatures were they inviting into their lives at the hand of this mad man? 
The fire that had once burned so brightly within him, which all that had gone before seemed to have doused forever suddenly sparked and flared.  He was Chieftain, not this fool Yaldabet, and he would not stand for such a cowardly act on Theydonite soil!  But too late – too late! Before he could utter a word or make a single move to stop the abomination, Yaldabet’s knife came down and into the heart of the writhing Geboch, once, twice and again.  Blood poured from the wounds as the rope-bound body shook and twitched, his life draining into the soil.
Yaldabet, blood splattered and gory, stared down at the torn flesh that had lived only moments before, whose last breath he had taken.  He had never killed a living soul before and he gazed in awe at the work of his hands, felt the power he held surge through him and raising the bloody dagger  chanted the names of the Ceidriat - Amortae, Imurai, Esantet, Vereliac, Amortae, Imurai, Esantet, Vereliac, Amortae, Imurai, Esantet, Vereliac. 
Around him Geflin heard others joining in the chant. Mumbles at first, growing bolder as others took it up, over and over, louder and louder they chanted, swaying from side to side.  Geflin stared around in horror at people he’d known all his life, good people, strong people, kind and compassionate people, now hollow-eyed sheep, lost in the fog of their own misery, reaching out blindly for a shepherd – any shepherd even one such as this because he had not been there for them, as his father had been and his father before him.
Any further soul-searching was abruptly halted as Geflin felt the ground beneath his feet move, rising and falling so slightly that had he not seen those around him looking down and around at their neighbours, he might have thought he imagined it.  The underground turbulence moved through the crowd becoming more violent as it went so that those in its path were falling aside and an audible rumble issued from the cold hard earth as it continued its path towards the stone array. 
The chanting had stopped, only Yaldabet as yet oblivious, carried it on.  Children grasped at parents hands and clung to legs, warrior memories stirred and dull hilts were grasped tightly, wasted muscles tensing.  The ground beneath Geflin had stilled, but whatever it was that came had reached the outer edge of the standing stones.  He could see the surface of the earth rippling all along the outside edge, pushing upwards, so even Yaldabet was now conscious of it, and Geflin noted an expression of fear cross his face before whatever madness held him quashed it and a triumphant smile stretched his lips.
“They come, my children, they come!” he cried.
He had done it, he had summoned them forth.  He would bring them back to this world as they had told him he must.  He would kneel at the feet of the Ceidrat and they would bless their humblest, greatest servant and he would sit with them above all men.
One of the megaliths lifted up from the ground, tilting sideways.  Geflin knew how deep they went, the effort it had taken to erect them so they would stand solid.  Two men deep each one was buried and yet before his eyes he saw the one at the southern tip rise up from its bed and crashed sideways against the line of boulders beside it. Yaldabet and the Theydonites watched aghast as it fell and as the next, to the west, likewise rose up but this time its tilt took it forward and Yaldabet barely escaped with his life as tumbled towards him, crashing down through the alter and the dead Geboch, bursting the body apart.
Yaldabet having fled, stood outside the diamond now, staring in towards it along with his flock as the ground began to split apart from the centre out.  The alter stone and the body tipped over into the widening wound in the earth.  The very ground screamed and roared as it pulled apart from the centre down towards the Northern dolmen until it too was swallowed up. 
For long moments they all watched agape.  From below the crashing of falling rocks could be heard echoing up as though falling through to a vast cavern, until eventually all was silent.
Geflin was the first to stir and, hand on his sword hilt, cautiously climbed the slope towards the desecrated stone array followed with a measure of trepidation by Yaldabet. But before either of them could reach the edge a scream no earthly being could make rose up from the depths.  Not a sound denoting fear or pain – this terrible inhuman sound rejoiced.  Geflin and Yaldabet looked at one another and again Geflin saw fear and now uncertainly flicker across the teacher’s face.  Another sickening scream arose and another, coming closer, losing the echo, entering the real world. 
Most of the Theydonites hung back but others had joined Yaldabet and Geflin and terror gripped each brave heart like ice as a rotting, skeletal hand reached up, grasping at the grassy edges for purchase.  Geflin caught but a glimpse of the grinning death’s head that followed it before, suddenly, a great, dark bird like creature dove from the sky above, straight as an arrow into the pit, knocking the clawing creature backwards with it as it went.  More screams from decaying throats erupted but this time there was fear and pain in the cries that assailed the ears of those assembled above ground.
“Was that…was that?” Sabrian, a warrior Geflin had known since she was a baby asked him.  Her voice full of the wonder of the child she had been once again.
“I have no idea what we have seen here today.” He turned abruptly to Yaldabet, grasping his robes at the neck and pulling his face towards his own. “Were those screaming things the gods you summoned Yaldabet? That creature from the pit.  Was that one of your Ceidriat?”
“I…I…no…that’s…no,” was as much as the dumbfounded prophet could manage as he dragged his wide-eyed stare from Geflin back to the pit, his expression so pathetic, so uncomprehending that Geflin almost felt sorry for him. Abruptly, another screech, mercifully cut short, erupted from the depths below them and their attention snapped back. A thing, as foul as the one they had seen almost crawl into their world had been tossed up and onto the grass, where it lay still, a crumpled ruin, a mess of bones and old flesh that could once have been a man. A gory short-handled double-headed axe, then another were lobed up and over the edge on to the grass beside it, followed by the weapon’s owner.   None of those who crowded as close as they dared had ever seen such a creature before - but they all knew the legends.
 “So,” she said, getting to her feet, surveying those around her with a less than friendly stare, “there I was minding my own business when I have this bizarre dream. But I’m thinking to myself - in the dream – the way you do:  it’s just a dream, nobody, not even mortals, would be stupid enough to summon the Horde down on themselves.” She nudged the inert form at her feet. “Then I wake up and I have this….compulsion to come here, and low and behold I find that’s exactly what you crazy bunch of thrill seekers are up to.” Grasping the end of her tail, she gave it a vigorous shake, dislodging a lump of congealing blood from the leonine tuft at the end and shivered out her wings, soaking the closest gawpers in gore.  “So tell me, which is the backside needing the biggest kicking – or was this a cluster fuck up.”

Chapter 2
The “Bizarre Dream”
Egt Dreth Caal, who would one day call herself Dascaragh the Cascaroch when she no longer remembered her name, slept.  She had been sleeping for a very long time.  She had become weary of living in the waking world; there was nothing for her there, all her enemies were dead, the battle was over and she had survived.   There had been thirteen others, she recalled their faces but most of the names had slipped away. They had not all been killed by her of course, each one of the fourteen had had thirteen enemies. There were no allies among them. They were bound by their mutual hatred, nothing more.  It was all she’d ever known. So she slept, her bed-chamber a hollow among rocks. She had been here for so long now that the landscape had accepted her as part of itself, even time seemed to have forgotten she existed.  But there were those who had not.
Egt Dreth Caal’s mind shifted, a dream was stirring, but something was different. This was no ordinary dream. No hazy confusion or nonsensical whimsy to lighten the darkness, instead she saw herself, a self she had forgotten.
 “We made it that you would forget,” voices - two, three, perhaps more - in unison.
She saw herself talking with urgency to a group of finely dressed men and women, regal in their bearing who regarded her and the others at her side with haughty disdain and shaking heads.  Those who stood with her she recognised as her fallen enemies, but - and had there been anyone there who watching her they would have seen her forehead crease in confusion even as she slept - in this dream that was not a dream but a replaying of events, they were not her adversaries.  She saw other winged beings like them, though their attire was different, simple robes, where as she and her group were dressed as though they had been travelling or indeed perhaps had come for battle, some had weapons, she could see her axes on her belt. But these others hung back from the discussion, confused, concerned, scared for them and intimidated by those ones who considered themselves superior.
The voices spoke to her sleeping mind again. "You are the Starborn, we - the Architects. We understand now as we did not then that you are not and never were our servants."
 The image altered, now she was standing face to face with the one in charge - Eiherion, the Master Architect.
“You would dare accuse our brethren and sister of such an act, Dreth Caal?” he thundered, violet eyes flashing with fury and indignation. "You would have the audacity to have even suspected them of such deeds!”
She heard herself, her voice filled with barely restrained rage: “We protect not just you, Architect – we protect what you have created and protect the rules set in place for the good of all.  We have seen them. They walk on this spliced dimension they have created. They set themselves on thrones and delight in the corruption of the minds of the mortals they have brought to being.  They revel in the cruelty they inspire in those who are their disciples. They—“
The image changed.   She was once more and observer.  She saw herself and those who had stood with her in chains and her mind awoke to the memories. The trial, the satisfied faces of those they had accused whose confidence in the verdict had never wavered as they sneered and smirked at the imprisoned Starborn whenever they perceived themselves without witnesses, taunting them with their own guilt to which all others were blind.  She saw one of the Starborn, one of the others, not of the fourteen, begging, pleading on their behalf but mostly for Egt Dreth Caal herself, whom she called "mgt puith bho” – "my little sister". Isidra, beautiful, wise, Isidra, golden and radiant Isidra with wings white as a summer cloud, tears spilling down her cheeks before  Eiherion and those who sat in cold judgement over them.  She saw herself twisting and pulling at her restraints, screaming at the Architects to open their eyes, she felt again the terrible fear, her heart racing, and utter hatred for the four poisonous ones.
A dog fox passing her place of rest pricked up his ears as she whimpered in her restless sleep.

 The final words were spoken, the inevitable judgement made, the punishment decreed and Isidra rushed to her, grasping at her hand before she was pulled away. Egt Dreth Caal felt the rushing wind, but yet no air to breath, the burning, swirling blackness all around and in the dream she could almost see, could sense her mind being wiped clean of all she had ever known and replaced by the all-consuming hatred for her erstwhile co-accused, her allies, her friends – she saw the stricken face of poor Varr Callad Feigh - In Darkness Dwells – who’d only been with her to prove his valour, his worth, his right to love Isidra and then she saw herself awaken in a new world, saw herself arise a snarling, bloodthirsty, mindless killer. 
The dream shifted and Eiherion, the Master Architect and the three others who had sat as judges appeared before her in her mind, but their finery was gone, the haughty expression wiped away and she understood they knew they had been wrong and that she and the others had spoken the truth.
“By the time we realised our mistake it was too late.  Only you of the dispossessed Starborn remained alive. We let you sleep. There are no words for our pain and our folly. Our pride made us blind and deaf. Never again, never.  There was nothing we could do to make amends, it is not even possible to bring you home again – you had been away too long.  So we have tended this world around you, we have favoured it and given it all we could to make it a worthy burial site for your sisters and brothers and for you, also, in effect.  The four - the Ceidrait as they called themselves were banished as you had been, but them we sent to oblivion. The world within the sliced dimension they created was washed clean, the mortals they inspired to life and corrupted, perished and there it should have ended with only the memory of what we had done to you and the others left to haunt our every moment.  But now we believe the Ceidriat have returned. In truth they can be nothing more than nightmares, an evil essence but they have called to the souls of their contaminated people and will not let them rest.  They want revenge and they want the world you were condemned to which is now so dear to us.  If they find out that you still live, we have no doubt they would want to avenge themselves on you too. We believe they must have spent these passing millennium searching for the trace of Starborn on the pathways between worlds to claw their way through.  As yet they cannot command the discontented dead; they are mindless beings who crave only to live again, their ranks swelling with kindred mortal souls which will not rest, but they can influence them - are influencing them. We have learned that the lost souls converge on your doorstep through one sent to warn us, a messenger from the Chancellors of the Nether Realm, a Daemoni ambassador – yes, Dreth Caal – these times are very different from those you knew. They call these discontented souls the Horde and they talk of a power behind them, urging them on, guiding them - the Horde Lords is their term. We believe it to be the Ceidriat.  So you must awaken now, Dreth Caal.  You must stop them – our hands are tied, since the actions taken by the Ceidriat our powers have been limited, we ourselves were judged for our actions and theirs and found wanting, there is little we can do, even with good intent on our created worlds once life comes to be. If the Horde finds a way through, all will be lost. The world on which you rest - a good world - will die. We have called it Paeolaith – Remembrance.”
Now truly nightmarish images flooded Egt Dreth Caal's mind of the horror rot by a Horde incursion: malevolent entities invading the bodies of the living; trapping their souls within them; trespassing and ransacking their minds and memories; bringing screaming insanity and living death.  Infected mothers slaughtered their children, children their sleeping parents, the land poisoned by their presence and dying and, eventually as the bodies finally collapsed and could no longer be made to stand, the grey fog of their passing hanging over barren soil.
Egt Dreth Caal awoke with a start. At first she could not even open her eyes as she slowly returned to consciousness; lichen had grown over her face in patches and sealed the lids shut. She scraped it away and yawned, her movements sending ten generations of nesting mice scurrying from beneath her, while long-suffering spiders watched their beautiful webs torn apart as she crawled out into the sunlight, squinting around and stretching out her arms and wings in slow jerky movements.
Egt Dreth Caal had work to do; a new enemy required her attention it seemed. She would have liked to have given some time to honour those Starborn who had died on this world, she'd then have liked to have given the Architects and earful or two but she didn't know how. She'd just have to shout rude things into the ether when she had the time but she didn't feel there was any to spare right now, and truly biting, inspired profanities, the kind that really hit the mark, are not a thing that’s creation should ever be rushed.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cats and Mice and Destiny

Our barn is infested by mice - I love mice I am 

shutting the cats in the barn tonight for them to finally fulfill

 their destinies as felines. Fully expecting to open the barn

 door tomorrow to find Sydney and Kirby trust up in mousey

 knots and, in Syd's case, wearing gimp mask.........:)

Friday, 6 March 2015

You're just not going to believe this! The Hurricane and The Essence of Evil.

Well, you probably will.  The new ferry has broken down. Turns out blue-tac doesn't hold up well in salt water.....something like that.

Anyway, did I mention we had a hurricane here a couple of months back.  Yep, we did. People lost slates and sheds and the slates off sheds and there were sheds on people's slates and don't even get me started on the unsecured trampolines changing ownership!

Ourselves we lost our two cat houses which live - lived - by the back door. Kirby's I found half way down the field in bits.  I suspect she engineered this state of affairs herself: she's never liked that house.  Sydney's was even further down the field but was in three bits I was able to piece back together, which is good as he likes his house.  My worry was he was probably in it when it took off , thankfully he didn't end up in Kansas. I've moved his furry domain to a more sheltered spot where he can still see the back door opening in the morning.  Trouble is because he's black, all we can see of him through its wee door in the morning (no catflap - he couldn't figure it out) are two yellow eyes within an impenetrable dense black mass  - so his new morning name is "The Essence of Evil".  "Puss, puss, puss, puss. The Essence of Evil (sing song  :)voice). Breakfast time.  It's tuna flavoured :)"

It was the windy-ness of this very eve which put me in mind of those stormy events.  Lashing wind and howling rain - something like that.

Tune: Rise Against Sudden Life

Saturday, 21 February 2015


A song I love that came back into my life this week.It was one of the few non-folk RECORDS I owned as a girl . Unutterably catchy, unremittingly down. And the last line - chilling - given the current situation with with Isis and the rise of anti-Semitiism.
Music video by Del Amitri performing Nothing Ever Happens. (C) 1989 A&M Records Ltd.

Friday, 13 February 2015


Did I tell you how lucky I was yesterday? I was so lucky! Yesterday was my lucky day. I was walking out of the Buth Tholastaidh, cause twere 1pm and Wilma Maciver was taking over (in her voluntary capacity as a good guy) and I saw that the overhead power lines were covered in Starlings, so I was gawping at them as it was nowhere near roosting time so their behavior was odd and also because............well just because! I don't know it was interesting! So sue me!......anyway.... AND lost control of it's bawls/controlled it's bawls me on the coat...THE COAT PEOPLE!!! I was an inth of a second from a face-plant, even a mouth-plant of Starling poop. Phew! I mean, I know getting pooped on by a bird is supposed to be good luck but what luckless pigeon fancier came up with that mince smile emoticon OH YEAH!!!! And then, I nearly got hit by a bus!!! NEARLY (headphones were on and it sneaked up behind me - last thing I would have heard was "Billy Talent" - ooo so hoped it would be Rise Against). I AM ONE LUCKY BUGGER smile emoticon Happy Valentines tomorrow Calum Maciver Cal :)xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Our New Ferry and Revisiting Ones Breakfast.

Yep, so we're getting a new Ferry here to transport us across the Minch  to Ullapool (Home of the Gods - yes, I'm from Ullapool).  The old boat the Isle of Lewis is being replaced by The Loch Seaforth and very nice it is too, so I'm told.  One thing bothers me. I have it on good authority (a man who got a sneaky look around) that lovely as the Observation Deck is, many of the chairs are swivel, presumably so one can take in 360 degrees of view without shifting off ones backside and thus loosing your hard won spot)... but, and this is the thing, is it just me who immediately envisaged 360 degrees of projectile vomiting from 4 year olds who have spun themselves around and around and around and around as the ferry rises as falls on this often less than flat calm stretch of water, followed by a reverse 360 degrees of dry heaving before the above imagined child eventually collapses in a pale green heap on to the industrial carpet?

The Loch Seaforth                                                               Really Ullapool

Image result for ullapoolImage result for the mv loch seaforth