Would you like to see if Out of Control is right for you? Easy. Just click the preview link at the bottom of the image and read a short preview of the novella with more than a little bit of noir.
My poem about immigration
Everyone is English
I don’t get this immigration crap
it really hurts my brain.
There’s talk of putting on a cap
even if we vote remain
But I don’t see the problem
where are these migrant folk?
Everyone I know is English
It really is a joke
My kids have an English teacher,
my doctor’s English too
and if we get a blockage
an English plumber clears our loo
I have an English landlord
at my local pub.
He serves me English lager
along with English grub
I work with English people
every single day
I even have an English priest
when I feel the need to pray
So why should I vote Brexit?
it goes against the grain,
when everyone is English
here in sunny Spain.
How’s the jogger’s nipple? I hate that, I got it once when I wore that hessian blouse without a bra to Bryony Chalmers’ end of engagement party. I was really popular with the lads that night but Christ, my nipples felt like they’d been chewed on by a starving buck toothed Piranha. I used up three-six-packs of Greek style yoghurts trying to cool them down.
That bastard, Simon, my ex, put my name down for the wet t-shirt competition at Tossers night club. The lousy sod said I’d be a shoo in with my cast iron nips.
Gran’s been giving us a lecture on how tough life was back in the 1960s tonight. It all started when Dad came home from work saying he was going to see the doctor about getting a few days off. Mum got all worried, she doesn’t like the idea of dad being on the sick. The last time he had a few days off he didn’t go back for twenty years. Continue reading
The kindle and paperback versions of Tracy’s Hot Mail, a satirical look at a member of the X-Factor generation and her friends and family, has been reissued on Amazon. 99p for Kindle and £3.99 for the paperback version. A signed copy can be bought at no extra cost. A small postage charge will be levied for the signed book.
The sequel. Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail will be available in reissued formats very soon.
After seeing one or two concert reviews appear on Facebook I thought I’d revisit a concert I attended with my wife a few short years ago. This was written at the time. It isn’t new.
Looking through my documents folder this morning I discovered my review of an Eric Clapton concert I attended in Nottingham a few years ago. It bought back some happy memories and some very disturbing ones.
Last night we went to see the legendary guitar hero, Eric Clapton, in Nottingham.
The show was staged at the Nottingham Arena, which also doubles up as an ice stadium. For those of you having visions of the great man skating around the stage in lycra pants and a frilly shirt whilst belting out Layla, let me put your minds at rest. He didn’t. Continue reading
This was my first, and last attempt at an adult Christmas story. It dates from 2008, It was one of the first things I ever wrote. It was published twice; in Ireland’s Own magazine and in The Best of Café Lit 2012 anthology.
Michael Keagan stared despondently at the bleak winter sky. The light snow that had started to fall half an hour ago had become heavier and begun to settle.
‘Fabulous,’ he whispered, ‘the first Christmas snow we get in decades and I’m stood around in it, freezing to death.’
Cursing under his breath, he pulled his hood forward, checked his watch for the 20th time and wondered, once again, why he had chosen to wear trainers instead of the warm winter boots that were sitting under the stairs at home.
Christmas Eve wasn’t the best time to do a spot of breaking and entering, he decided.
Keagan looked around, the garden was quiet. His hiding place could not be overlooked by the neighbours; he had chosen well. The laurels were excellent cover and he could see into the drawing room clearly. The occupants, a man in his 40s and a slightly younger woman, were sat together in front of an open fire, drinking and sharing some joke or happy memory.
Keagan willed them to go to bed, it was 11.45. It couldn’t be much longer now surely? There was a child in the house, kids always got up early on Christmas day. Parents usually got up with them.
Five minutes later his patience was rewarded. The couple left their fireside seats and headed for the door leading to the stairs. The man remained for a while, turned off the Christmas tree lights and placed a metal guard in front of the coal fire. He checked his watch as he left the room; closing the door behind him.
Keagan watched as the stair light was turned off. It was replaced by a bedroom light and the duller light of the en suite close by. Not long now. He reached for a cigarette then decided it was too risky. He would have to wait.
Ten minutes later the lights were extinguished. He hoped the pair weren’t feeling amorous.
Keagan waited in the shrubbery for another thirty minutes before he decided it was safe enough to proceed. He took a final glance at the upstairs window and hurried across the lawn, crouching as he ran. The snow was coming down heavier than ever and would quickly cover any footprints he left behind.
Still crouching, he crossed the patio and headed for a set of French doors. A pair of small garden statues guarded them, one either side of the frame. Keagan lifted the right hand statue carefully and groped underneath until he found a key. He grinned and nodded to himself. He knew it would be there; people were so lax about security matters.
With a trembling hand, he turned the key in the lock. The door opened with a low groan, the warm air that greeted his entry, welcome after the freezing two-hour reconnaissance. Keagan dipped into his pocket and pulled out a small pencil torch. Sliding a tiny button forward he shone the thin beam around the room. The door he wanted was on the left and with a few quick strides he crossed the timber floor and let himself into the drawing room.
The fire had begun to die down but gave out enough light to enable him to turn off the torch. Keagan wandered over to the Christmas tree, a dozen parcels lay underneath. Picking a couple at random he shook them, guessed the contents then returned them to the pile.
‘Now for the tricky bit,’ he thought.
He walked to the stair door and slowly eased the handle down. He grimaced as it creaked open, didn’t anyone lubricate hinges anymore? Keagan waited for a full minute in case the sound had been heard, but no-one stirred in the rooms above. He decided to leave the door ajar, for his heart as much as anything else. The noise had un-nerved him.
On tip toe and grateful now for his decision to wear the trainers, Keagan crept up the stairs a step at a time, listening intently for any sound of movement.
At the top he halted and waited for a few seconds; all was quiet. He turned to the right, eased open the white painted door in front of him and entered the bedroom. A small night light glowed on the bedside table, he smiled to himself; she never had liked the dark.
Keagan looked toward the small figure curled up under the covers and caught his breath. The girl was asleep, breathing softly, deep in dreams; her golden hair spread over the pillow. He moved slowly to the side of the bed, reached into his pocket and brought out a small package containing a bracelet and a short letter. Holding his breath, he gently lifted her hand and laid the package on the coverlet, then set her hand on top. Instinctively, he leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
He wanted to stay longer, but he daren’t. He wanted to wake her, to tell her he loved her, to tell her he hadn’t forgotten, but that could end in disaster. Laura’s mother had steadfastly refused him access, despite the court order he had won. She had even refused to pass on gifts and messages. Were she to discover him in this burglar role, her revenge would know no limits
Keagan leaned over her again, whispered, ’Soon, my darling,’ then, wiping away a tear, he turned and left the room as quietly as he had entered it.
Back outside, Keagan replaced the key under the statue and took a last look at the house he knew so well, the house he used to share with Laura before life had become so difficult. His lawyers had insisted that access would be granted in the New Year It all should have been sorted out much sooner. Had it been left to Laura’s mother and him, it would have been.
Once on the street he lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. The snow fell steadily. It was in for the night, there would indeed be a white Christmas; Laura would love that.
Back in the car Keagan lit another cigarette, fired up the engine, turned on the radio and adjusted the dial for the heater. He had a two-hour drive ahead of him, but the journey would be shortened by the feeling of a job well done.
As he was about to pull away he heard a beep from his pocket. Keagan checked the phone; a text message was waiting in his inbox.
‘Thanks Dad, I love the bracelet. Happy Christmas! Laura.
Through misty eyes, Keagan checked his mirrors, pulled away from the kerb and turned up the radio. As he drove along the deserted High Street he heard the familiar voice of Bing Crosby, wishing everyone a Merry Little Christmas.
‘Some day soon…’ Keagan smiled and headed toward the motorway.
For a limited time you can buy the kindle version of my noir novella Out of Control for just 99p. $1.49 in the USA.
It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide.
Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young Rose Gorton. Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.
Misty, Trevor Forest’s number one fan with part of her stash.
Anyone who buys a T A Belshaw or Trevor Forest book in November, or anyone who leaves a review for one of my books in November (preferably both, will go into a draw to win a signed paperback book of your choice. (kids or adult,) postage free, in time for Christmas. Just contact me any way you like when you’ve done the deed.
Rare events are like buses. You don’t see one for ages then two come along at once. Following the Blood Moon/Eclipse at the weekend, the world has been treated to an event so unexpected that it was shocked into stunned silence. I speak of course about my author interview with the fabulous Brook Cottage Books. It’s been about three years since I last opened up for posterity. It will probably be even longer until the next time, so, dip your wick, as they say. Click the link below to read.
A couple of years ago I wrote a poem about a bench seat that sits beneath a tree at the top of a hill in the Rushcliffe Country Park. Doreen and I walked that park with our dogs for years, we knew every twist and turn in the miles of dirt paths by heart. We used to sit on this bench to get our breath back and just take in the beauty of he place. When I originally wrote the piece it wasn’t about Doreen, or us, it was about an imaginary couple that trod the same paths,
Since I lost Doreen I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the past, trying to focus on the happy times and our walks around the country park came high on my list of things we did together. Doreen loved those walks, we used to go most nights through the summer and just about every Sunday morning. Last night, in bed, I followed our route in my mind and when I arrived at the bench my poem sprang to mind. This morning I made one or two small changes and it now works as a tribute to Doreen and to the place she loved so much.
It’s not the best poem in the world, but it’s mine. I’m thinking of having it read out at Doreen’s funeral on Tuesday but I don’t know if it’s worthy of her. I’ll think about it between now and then, If anyone can think of anything that will improve it I’d be more than grateful. I really don’t want to it to come across as oversentimental.
For Doreen. The Bench (remembering)
The blossom’s gone for this year,
the seat beneath the tree,
is empty now, devoid of life
for anyone but me.
I still feel your presence here
I never feel alone, in
our special nook, our secret spot,
the place we made our own.
I make this journey every week,
it isn’t hard on me.
I’m happy knowing you are here,
sad, things weren’t meant to be.
The tribute plaque was fitted
without a lot of fuss,
the sun reflects upon the words
as I reflect on us
‘In memory of Doreen,
my beautiful, best friend,
you’re with me in this lovely place
until the very end.’
And when at last my life is done
we’ll make that final climb,
my ashes strewn along with yours,
together for all time.
Soft winds will blow us through the grass,
the rain will make us whole
Autumn leaves will hide us, ‘til
spring breezes free our souls.
Our bond will be eternal and
whenever lovers meet
they’ll feel our love around them
The latest book in the Stanley Stickle series by my alter ego Trevor Forest has been released on Kindle. Stanley Stickle For One Night Only tells the story of Stanley, the master plan maker who is desperate to rid himself of his wannabe girlfriend, Soppy Sonia.
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
Stanley Stickle For One Night Only
Stanley Stickle, the king of the master plan, volunteers to take part in the school production of the musical Oliver so that he can avoid Soppy Sonia at the school gates. Stanley would rather clean out his ear wax with the pointy end of a scorpion that meet Soppy Sonia after school. Unfortunately, he discovers that even master plans can fail, and when they do, they fail spectacularly. After a disastrous sequence of events, Stanley is thrown into the action on opening night and to his horror he finds he has to perform live on stage with Soppy Sonia, in front of a sell-out audience.
The book is on sale at just £1.99. You can buy it here. Stanley Stickle For One Night Only
The paper back version will be published during the week starting 7th Sept 2015.
OUT OF CONTROL
The Kindle version of my new suspense novella, Out of Control, is now available on Amazon. Price £1.99. The paperback version is available now at a price of £3.99
It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide.
Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young …Rose Gorton. Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.
You can download the Kindle eBook, here OUT OF CONTROL
Out of Control. My new, noir novella now has a full print version cover designed by the multi-talented, Rhys Vincent-Northam. I think you’ll agree it looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see it wrapped around my story in paperback form.
The ebook and paperback versions of the book will be published in very late August 2015
Here’s something I started about five years ago when I took the first tentative steps into authorship. I had completely forgotten writing this. It didn’t even have a title. It was one of those stories you just write to see where it takes you. There was no plotting, no plan, no idea where it was going. It is only the first chapter and there is no more, but I think it’s interesting and I want to know what happens next now. Excuse the formatting and any typo errors, it hasn’t been edited at all. I think this might be my next noir serial project. I will make some changes to it. It will be set in the late 1950s and the house will be moved out into the countryside to make it less accessible… there won’t be a takeaway meal either. What do you think?
The Dark Secret
Drew Barrett looked down from Scarrett Hill over the snow covered village below. Some of the roofs had a full covering, others, with less insulation showed their bare red tiles. It had been many years since he last took in that view, many more since he had seen the village lying under snow. There were one or two chimneys puffing out thin, grey smoke, back then every house would have burned coal.
Drew’s gaze moved down to the right and focused on a large, old red brick house. The building was set in a wide courtyard protected by a high wall and pair of elaborate iron gates. The roof was covered in a thick carpet of snow, an old TV ariel rocked unsteadily in the chill northerly wind. A single set of tyre tracks were cut into the snow on the drive that led to the gates. Someone had arrived early: his money was on Sarah.
He turned away; his thoughts suddenly full of blazing log fires, Christmas trees and ghost stories. The yellow taxi waited at the kerb side, engine still running, warm exhaust fumes rose into the freezing air. Drew pulled open the passenger door and climbed inside.
The driver pushed the gear lever forward and slipped the hand brake.
‘Nice view isn’t it? Especially in winter, I’ve had a look myself once or twice.’
‘It’s always been a stunning view, whatever the weather,’ Drew answered; he cupped his hands and blew warm air into them. ‘I can close my eyes and see that landscape wherever I am in the world.’
The cabbie nodded and waited to see if his passenger would continue. They had driven over forty miles and this was the only real conversation they had managed. He looked again at the man beside him; he seemed lost in his thoughts and didn’t look like he wanted to be found.
‘I might have to get hold of some snow chains if the weather doesn’t change soon. I can’t remember a winter like this.’
‘I can,’ Drew, replied. ‘When I was a child we had these winters regularly. I was back there for a moment then.’
The driver answered quickly, keen to keep the conversation flowing.
‘I’ve only been in the area about fifteen years. I thought we were supposed to be getting into global warming,’ he turned his head to look out of the window. ‘Someone ought to tell Mother Nature.’
They drove on to the outskirts of the village, the temperature was dropping again and there was the odd flake of snow in the air. The driver was happy the journey was almost over, the country lanes would soon be a like glass and he had five miles to drive before he got home himself.
Drew pointed to a phone box on the left side of the road. ‘Drop me here.’
The driver retrieved his passenger’s case from the rear seats and smiled at Drew encouragingly. ‘Thanks for the call, that’ll be £60. Please’
Drew pulled four twenty pound notes from his wallet and handed them to the driver. Preoccupied he picked up his bag and trudged his way through the slush of the main street to the call box. He pushed in a coin and dialled, it was a full minute before anyone answered.
‘Hello.’ The voice was hesitant, unsure.
‘It’s me, Drew, I’m here.’
‘Thank goodness, I was beginning to wonder if something had happened.’
‘No, I’m fine; it’s winter here don’t forget. It’s been snowing, took ages to clear the airport and the roads were atrocious once we got off the freeway. I didn’t bother hiring a car, I rang a local taxi firm, took him an hour and a half to pick me up and the same again to get me here.’
‘Have you seen anyone yet?’
‘No, I’m calling from a public phone, someone’s here though. There are tyre tracks leading to the gates. One set.’ He paused, ‘Ok, I’m going up to the house, just wanted to check in without being overheard.’
‘Good luck, and all my love, Drew. I’ll send over some warm sunshine shall I?’
Drew shook his head although she knew she couldn’t see, ‘Don’t bother; I like it exactly the way it is.’ Continue reading
T A Belshaw (aka Trevor Forest) is delighted to announce the release of the 7th Magic Molly novel, Magic Molly The Murky Marshes. The book is available from Amazon in the Kindle format. The paperback version will be available within the next few days. Readers who require a signed copy should email or contact me via my Facebook page.
The Murky Marshes costs £1.99 and is available to download here. THE MURKY MARSHES
Miss Shrieker was tall and thin with a long scraggy neck, a beak for a nose, and piercing grey-blue eyes that stared at Stanley through a pair of round, steel-framed spectacles. Her white hair was tied back in a bun.
‘You must be Stanleeeeey,’ she trilled in a high pitched voice. ‘Do come iiiiiiiiin.’
Stanley stuck his fingers in his ears, wiggled them about to stop them ringing and stepped inside. He was ushered into the front room which contained nothing except a piano, a small round table that held a vase full of dead flowers and a metal, sheet music stand on which sat a page full of dots and wiggles.
‘Let’s get our voices loosened up,’ said Emmeline. She began to screech in a high-pitched wail. ‘La la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
Stanley watched, fascinated, as the music teacher’s throat wobbled as she warbled. ‘Come on Stanley,’ she wailed. ‘La la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
Stanley joined in. ‘La la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
‘Louder, Stanley,’ encouraged Miss Shrieker.
‘LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,’ yelled Stanley.
‘Higher Stanley, hit that top note.’
‘LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGH,’ shouted Stanley.
Miss Shrieker held up her hand for silence. ‘That was absolutely dreadful, Stanley. No wonder they sent you for lessons.’
Stanley took several huge gasps of air as he tried to get his breath back. ‘I… told them… I couldn’t… sing…’ he panted. Continue reading
CHAPTER ONE. THE OUTSIDER
The battered old coach pulled up at the town’s staging post with the creak of rusty springs and a shout from the driver. The four horses that had pulled the carriage for forty miles across the marshy countryside bowed their heads and shuffled their feet on the dusty street. Three passengers stepped down from the coach, stretched, rubbed their knees, and waited for their bags to be unloaded from the roof of the carriage.
The driver climbed onto his seat and began to loosen the straps that held the passenger’s luggage in place.
On the coach, Maisie Stamford stayed in her seat and watched her fellow travellers pick up their belongings and make their way across the dusty road to the long row of timber buildings that lined that side of the street.
Two of the passengers had relatives waiting for them. They were greeted with hugs and tears. The third, an elderly gentleman, polished his spectacles on his handkerchief and looked up and down the street as if uncertain which way to go.
Maisie waited patiently. She had learned to be patient over the years. Outside on the pavement, a large, middle aged woman, wearing a flat hat with a rose pinned to the brim, tapped her foot and berated the driver for taking so long to get to Maisie’s belongings. The driver did his best to ignore her. Her trunk was strapped across two rails along with Maisie’s wheelchair.
A young man of about twenty, who worked at the staging post, hurried across the pavement to help the driver offload the trunk. The chair was placed at the side of the open carriage door and the young man climbed into the coach, He smiled and nodded his head in greeting before he swept her up in his arms, backed out of the carriage, and deposited her in the chair.
‘Thank you,’ said Maisie, to both the driver and the young man.
The driver nodded, touched his hat with his fingers and looked to the large woman, hoping for a reward.
The woman ignored him, turned the wheelchair around and set off down the dusty street. She hadn’t gone far before she ran out of breath.
‘Goodness me, girl, have you been eating rocks?’ Continue reading
A Ride on the Eastern Belle
Greycliffe. The back of beyond.
The town of Greycliffe hides itself away at the end of a narrow dirt road that has remained untarmacked for all of its history. The fifteen mile track that runs through an extinct peat bog, can be found via an easily missed turn off from a newly re-tarmacked single track road that was recently renamed, The Lindley Way. The un-signposted turn off that you missed, is itself thirty miles away from the new town of Lindley, meaning, as if you hadn’t already guessed, that Greycliffe has been disengaged from the rest of the transport network. Its name no longer appears on any map, Ordinance Surveyed or not. Greycliffe is a ghost town without a ghost. The railway did reach the town but it never went any further because there was nowhere else for it to go.
Should you wish to travel to Greycliffe, (and why would you?) it would take around three hours (and at least one punctured, tyre change,) from the nearest large town, which is still Bridchester. A hundred and fifty years ago however, the journey would have taken a full day, more in winter snow. Nowadays the town is in ruins and there is nothing to tempt visitors. Its broken-down buildings sit, begging to be put out of their misery by a sympathetic demolition crew and a wrecking ball. The hard working community of Greycliffe, which once numbered three hundred souls, is long gone; the last family moved out during the early 1900s and no one has ever been tempted to move back.
Greycliffe was never what could be called, a thriving town, even back when it was populated. It boasted, amongst other things, a small, six-room hotel, an inn-come staging post, a blacksmith’s forge, a general store/post office, and a livery stable. The dirt-road through Greycliffe, ran west to east. On the western edge lay a small farmstead that produced a couple of acres of cereal crops along with sheep, a few pigs, chickens and one milking cow. At the other end of the town was the soaring, flat faced, grey cliff that gave the town its name. The rock face marked the end of the Black Crags mountain range that ran eastwards, further than the eye could see. In 1850, a single, rail track ran from the station platform at the western edge of the town right up to the cliff face where it stopped, abruptly.
Apart from a twice monthly train, Greycliffe was serviced by a weekly stage coach that ran from Bridchester, far to the north. The coach and train brought in hard to get supplies for the trade’s people, and a few relatives who would generally stay for the week, become utterly bored, and go back home at the first opportunity. Beyond the southern border lay miles of marsh and swamp, unfit for farming and even less fit for hunting. There was no road across the marshes which ran for forty miles before ending at the sea.
It was a sticky day in late June. The people of Greycliffe welcomed the storm clouds that were building from the south. It had been a dry spring and an even drier, early summer. The crops were stunted and the town’s well, overused. The school teacher held lessons in the apple orchard at the back of the hotel because the school rooms, even with the high windows open, couldn’t seem to attract a breath of breeze.
The market was in full sway. Local traders, together with their rivals from Bridchester who bought their supplies by pony and trap from the more affluent town because the profits were higher in Greycliffe, stood on pitches, parading their wares in front of the hot, bad-tempered residents who knew they were being short changed but also knew there was very little they could do about it.
Martha Watkin stopped fanning herself and dragged her considerable bulk from the rocking chair it had inhabited for the last three hours, and rubbed at one of the twelve discoloured, glass panes that made up the top half of the shop door. She squinted and moved her head an inch to the right to try to obtain a clearer view of the street. She picked up a silver pocket watch from the behind the counter and put it to her ear to assure herself that it was ticking.
‘Lucy,’ she bellowed.
A teenage girl rushed in from her back of the shop, a wet, blouse in her hands.’
‘Leave the washing and watch the store.’
‘Yes Mrs Watkin,’ said the girl, eager to please. She slopped the wet blouse onto the counter and stood by the cash register.
‘I’ll be back inside ten minutes. I know to the penny, how much is in that register, so don’t think you can rob me behind my back.’
‘Yes Mrs Watkin,’ said Lucy. ‘I wouldn’t take anyth-’
The slammed door rattled the assorted jars and bottles on the shelf behind her. Lucy looked out onto the street where her employer stood on the duckboards outside the General Store. She reached into a jar, took out a boiled, sour-cherry sweet, popped it into her mouth and sucked at it greedily. She closed her eyes and savoured the taste for a moment, then she was alert again, eyes on the door, grimy handkerchief in her hand, ready to spit out the sweet when it was half eaten. Sour cherries were Robin’s favourite and her brother would want his share.
Out in the street, the stage coach arrived in a cloud of dust and a whinny of horses…
Father’s Day is coming soon
So give the kids a shove,
And get them all to buy a card
That reads, ‘to Dad, with love.’
And here’s a tip for everyone
Who thinks their father rocks.
Buy him beer or music,
Go easy on the socks.
I just came across this 2009 reflection while I was sorting out an old writing folder. I had only been writing semi-seriously for a couple of months when I wrote this. Reading it bought back a lot of memories. We lost Molly last Autumn and we still miss her terribly, but Maisie is still with is and still as energetic, (putting it mildly,) as ever she was.
Molly (Left) Maisie (Right)
Walking around the Rushcliffe Country Park with my dogs is a treat we all enjoy. Molly and Maisie, (my Springer Spaniels,) always manage to make an adventure out of it even on the dullest of days.
My dogs are definitely mind readers. We don’t need to announce that we are ‘going walkies,’ or ‘off to the park,’ they already know, their built in atomic clocks tell them. There is always a mad five minutes as we attempt to fill the water bottle, check for poo bags and get their leads on. Maisie pulls somersaults and Molly scratches the door, while looking over her shoulder at us. Excited yaps fill the air. It’s like Christmas and Birthdays rolled into one, but it happens every day.
I have a small 4×4 car, the backs seats are always folded down and they have their own plastic sheeting to protect the upholstery. Molly likes to look between the two front seats and out through the windscreen to see where we are heading, Maisie prefers the side window. Both are a bundle of pent up energy as they whimper and call for us to hurry up. Molly barks at any other dog or cat we pass on the way, boasting that she is off to the park and they aren’t.
A casual observer would most likely think that we walk Molly on her own, as Maisie is seldom in sight. If you look hard enough you’ll spot her zigzagging through the tall grass, flushing out birds and rabbits while Molly trots happily with us, sniffing the track and its borders to see who’s passed by recently.
It’s a bit like the Wild West with Molly looking after the wagon train, (us,) while Maisie is out on the trails scouting for Indians and bands of robbers. Molly used to do both tasks before we got Maisie, but now she feels her job is to protect us from raiding parties or any ambush that may lie in our path. Continue reading
I woke up this morning to the news that my children’s book, Peggy Larkin’s War, had reached number one in the Amazon, children’s historical adventure chart. Needless to say I was delighted by the news, not least because this is my third number one book. The other two, Magic Molly, The Mirror Maze and Stanley Stickle Hates Homework, both reached the pinnacle in the Amazon children’s free chart. Not bad to say they were up against classics like Treasure Island and Kidnapped. Peggy isn’t a free book though and this made the event even more special, especially after the book appeared in the Guardian newspaper’s, ‘Best Children’s Books about World War Two,’ blog. Thanks to everyone who has bought the book, I know adults like it as much as children.
Peggy Larkin’s War, is the story of a young evacuee from London at the outbreak of the war. Peggy is put on a train and sent off to the countryside where she will have to live with complete strangers. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book.
London 1939 and the city’s children must be evacuated to the countryside to keep them safe from the German bombs. After a tearful goodbye at the station, Peggy Larkin is sent to live with strangers in the country, unsure if she’ll ever see her parents again.
Peggy meets the ultra strict Mrs Henderson and does her best to fit into country life. But what secret lies behind the locked door in the big house? Who is the man hiding out in the woods? Peggy finds a friend in Alfie, another London evacuee and together they try to solve the mystery.
I’ve been thinking a lot about books just lately. AHA! I hear you cry, that explains the strange noise that has echoed around the place for the last few days. The clanging sound was my steampunk designed brain turning over.
I used to be an avid reader. I devoured books like a chocoholic demolishes a tin of Roses at Christmas. I’d find something to read wherever I was; a book or a magazine in my tea breaks at work, the rules and regulations on the guesthouse reception wall; sometimes, even the fire drill instructions. At breakfast, in the digs, I’d even read the back of the cornflakes packet if there wasn’t a newspaper around. It didn’t matter which paper either. Although I lean to the left and have been an avid Guardian reader for decades, I’d still happily pick up the Times, or, dare I say it, the Telegraph. I even admit to reading the lofty ambitions of the page three girl as she smiled at me from just inside the cover of the Sun. Continue reading
Here, for anyone interested. Is the 15 minute stage play script of the short story I posted yesterday. There are several bits of dialogue in this version that don’t appear in the short story. If you prefer to read the short, it’s still here, you’ll find it on the post below this one. Thanks for reading.
AN AWKWARD ENCOUNTER
A Stage Play Play In One Act
Written By Trevor Belshaw
MARTIN: Widowed Lecturer. Late 40s Grey-White Hair and Goatee.
MAGGIE: Team Leader in a Financial Office. Early 40s
SIMON: Assistant Team Leader in MAGGIE’S Office. Mid 20s
BRIAN: Barman. 30s
BRENDON: Software Developer. Mid 20s
Old Man 1: Non speaking Dominoes player
Old Man 2: Non speaking Dominoes player
Act 1 Scene 1 Village pub; Lunchtime.
The bar is a typical village pub with original oak beams and a stone tiled floor. Polished, dark oak, oblong tables and chairs are spread evenly around the room. Two old men are playing dominoes CSL. The only other occupant is BRIAN who is busy humming to himself whilst wiping down the optics behind the counter. USC. There is a table with three chairs around it facing front DSL with a small stool nearby. Two fruit machines flash and whir to the left of the table. A door opens USR and MARTIN appears. BRIAN looks up from his work and smiles warmly.
Brian: Well, there’s a sight for sore eyes. Hello Martin.
(MARTIN holds the open door with one hand while he checks his watch. He looks across to the barman, a half smile on his face.)
Martin: Hello, Brian. It’s been a while hasn’t it? (Walks to bar.)
Brian: You haven’t changed much, a little more white in the beard perhaps. I always said you were a dead ringer for that Paul Hollywood. You look even more like him now.
Martin: (Laughs.) Give over; Paul Hollywood indeed.
Brian: (Grins.) What can I get for the master baker? How about a cheeky little Chablis? (Reaches for wine glass.)
Martin: No, no, erm, just a Diet Coke, please, Brian.
(MARTIN checks his watch again, sits on a stool and surveys the room. Brian places the drink on the counter and waves away the offer of payment.)
Brian: On the wagon are we?
Martin: No, nothing like that. I’m meeting my son, Simon. There’s someone he wants me to meet. I think love may be in the air.
Brian: Love? Oh, that old thing.
Martin: I suppose it comes to all of us in time; even you, Brian.
Brian: (Looks shocked.) Me? Heaven forbid; I’m far too selfish for that sort of thing. I like to come and go as I please. Confirmed bachelor, me.
Martin: (Sips drink.) You’ve never considered going into a relationship? Don’t you ever get lonely?
Brian: Never. I like my own company.
Martin: You’re not a family man then?
Brian: Family! I didn’t even like the one I came from. As for a wife, she wouldn’t last out the day… (Polishes bar with vigour.) Sorry, I didn’t mean to…
Martin: It’s okay, Brian, the subject isn’t off limits.
(Door opens (USR) and SIMON moves into the doorway. He calls to an unseen companion. MARTIN cranes his neck to try to see who SIMON is talking to.)
Simon: (Loudly) White wine was it? Any preference or shall we try their Pinot Grigio? Okay, see you inside. (SIMON enters the bar and makes a beeline for MARTIN. MARTIN stands and turns to face his son. SIMON grips MARTIN in a bear hug.) Hi, Dad, lovely to see you.
Martin: (MARTIN pats his son on the back with both hands.) Lovely to see you too Simon; it’s been too long.
(SIMON releases MARTIN from his grip and looks around the bar, his eyes settle on the table DSL.
Simon: Shall we sit over there?
MARTIN picks up his glass and follows SIMON to the table. OLD MAN 1 and OLD MAN 2 whisper to each other as they watch MARTIN walk across the room. SIMON takes off his overcoat, folds it neatly and places it on a nearby stool.)
Simon: Can I get you a refill?
(SIMON turns and heads towards the bar without waiting for an answer. MARTIN sits down and pushes his glass of coke to the centre of the table. MAGGIE enters, (USR,) walks across the room. She comes to a halt behind MARTIN.)
Maggie: (Sarcastically.) Well, look what the cat dragged in.
Martin: (Stands up and turns around in one movement, mouth agape.) Maggie, what are… why? I mean…
Maggie: (Bites bottom lip.) I was just thinking exactly the same thing.
Martin: (Flashes a glance at the bar.) Simon’s here.
Maggie: I know… We came in together. Do you know him?
Martin: You don’t mean you and him are…? Continue reading
In 1939 the government evacuated a million and a half people from London to the countryside in an attempt to keep them safe from the bombing raids that everyone believed was coming. I think they had run out of money for the bus and train fares by the time they thought about evacuating our area because we never got to hear anything about it. By the following summer, next to nothing had happened and life went on pretty much as normal. The Germans seemed to be intent on destroying our coastal defences and airfields so they left us alone, more or less. Because of this, people became apathetic and thousands of evacuees who had been sent away for their own safety, managed to return home just in time for the bombing. In August a few German planes got lost and dropped their bombs on London instead of their intended targets. This pissed Mr Churchill right off, so he sent the RAF to bomb Berlin. This pissed off Hitler even more, so he decided to spend the next nine months dropping thousands of tons of explosives on London; especially the East End, where we lived. The Germans called it the Blitzkrieg but we shortened it to, the Blitz because it was easier to say and we wouldn’t sound like we were speaking German if we used the word in public.
Mr Churchill made a speech to the country saying, ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ Fritz’s mum, an Irish woman who hated Mr Churchill, said that wasn’t good enough as she gave all of those things every day of her life but she didn’t expect to become Prime Minister. She said we should get that nice Mr Chamberlain back, give Churchill a two-fingered salute and send him over to Ireland to explain himself. Continue reading
On Monday, a smug David Cameron tried to pull a fast one as he launched his government’s new education policy. Trust the Tories with your vote and parents will be rewarded with some, ‘flat cash,’ for their schools, he promised. (He was obviously hinting at the fact that those dodgy gits in the Labour party would only be offering, ‘lumpy cash). There will be no cuts for schools under our government, he boasted. As con men go, and he is a Conservative with a capital CON, Dave is right up there with the best. When questioned by Nick Robinson about whether the lack of inflation rises amounted to an actual cut in the education budget, the Prime Minister snorted with derision. The absence of inflation proofed rises didn’t equate to actual cuts, if anyone needed proof they could go and ask the nurses. Continue reading
Today, the Independent newspaper is carrying a story about the perfectly preserved body of a Buddhist monk that has been found in Mongolia. One Buddhist academic maintains that the monk, still sitting in the lotus position, may not be dead but might be in a state of deep mediation.
Now, as some of you know, I’m not one to be taken in by religious relics. I wasn’t fooled when a ‘genuine,’ nail, from the crucifixion of Jesus was put up for sale on Ebay, nor was I convinced by the splinter from the cross that was being offered by the same seller. (Not least because I had already bought one from a street market seller when I was in Turkey, and the one I’d haggled for was made of a much darker wood.) I was sorely tempted to purchase one of the thirty six, Messiah’s foreskins that were offered to me on the same holiday, but in the end I didn’t succumb, I mean, Jesus only had one foreskin removed, how could I be sure which one of them was the genuine article? I could have ended up with Judas’ prepuce and that wouldn’t have been half as valuable. I suppose, in a way they may all have been genuine, he was a supreme healer after all. I just don’t think he’d have put up with a rabbi following him around with a sharp knife waiting to snip the latest growth. Continue reading
This week, the Australian newspaper published an obituary for the bestselling author, Colleen McCullough. McCullough wrote more than 20 books, The Thorn Birds alone sold in excess of 30 million copies but for the Australian, that fact was mere trivia. They opened the article with a disparaging comment about her looks-
“Plain of feature and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”
To say I was enraged doesn’t come close. I was at the livid end of fury. Bitterness was left at the post as I moved rapidly through resentment and indignation to full on apoplexy. How, I raged, in this day and age, was this allowed to happen? Surely we’ve moved on, surely we’ve closer to equality than that? How come men aren’t allowed bile -fuelled obituaries anymore? It’s unfair in the extreme, in fact I’d go as far as to say it’s downright sexist.
The Anderson Shelter
I was woken up one morning by the sound of workmen tipping a ton of what looked like, scrap metal on our back yard. I walked out, half asleep, to see what was going on and was presented with a docket from a man wearing a blue cap and overalls. This was, he explained, our new Anderson shelter.
‘Sign here, love.’ The man pointed a grubby finger at a grubbier sheet of paper. ‘You are twenty-one aren’t you? Good.’
I wrote my name in my best joined up writing and handed back the clipboard and pencil. The man climbed back into his truck and stuck his head out of the window. ‘A council bod will come to check you’ve put it up right.’ Then he drove up to the vicarage and began to offload a similar mountain of crap onto their garden.
I looked at the pile of corrugated junk and wondered if he meant that I had to build it. ‘He’d have more luck plaiting snot,’ as my dad used to say when he was here.
Nowadays you’d get a pdf file from the manufacturing company website and try to work out how everything fitted together from the Chinglish instructions, but in those days there was nothing, not even a drawing, and as we were the first on our street to get one, there was nowhere to go for help. There was no point in asking the vicar. He’d still be sleeping off last night’s ‘holy water.’
I took the docket inside and dropped it on the kitchen table then I went upstairs to tell mum that I wasn’t going to build whatever it was, no matter what the council thought.
Mum shared her room with Josie, Beth and Marje, three of my older sisters. I shared my room with Jean and Ruth. Phil, the only male in the house, slept on the sofa downstairs. My two grown up bothers were in the navy, defending some other bugger’s shores.
Before I could enter, Mum opened the door with the night bucket in her hand. Her other hand covered her mouth and nose with a dirty-looking hanky. Continue reading
Not long after the bombing began, we captured a German pilot. When I say we, I mean the LDV, (local defence volunteers), with the aid of an allotment holder and his garden fork. We were there as a backup in case things got nasty. Fritz had his empty pistol and the rest of us had pen knives or bits of wood that we had nailed together in more or less the shape of machine guns. Our weapons were almost as useful as the ones the volunteers carried as it turned out.
Our prisoner was the pilot of a Messyshit, ( I can’t say Messerschmitt to this day,) who’d got lost in the heavy cloud, come in too low and crash landed on the playing fields at the back of our school. I suppose we should have thanked him really because if he hadn’t been such a good pilot he could quite easily have taken out a row of houses. We didn’t thank him of course, he was a German.
We saw him come down from our perch on top of the fire station. We kids raced for the playing fields while Mr Blinks, the ARP warden, raced for the air raid shelter. We could see the crash site as we crossed the playground. I fell into the ditch at the edge of the playing field and came up looking like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz film. I picked myself up and pulled twigs and dead leaves from my hair as I chased after Fritz and the gang. Continue reading
Hi there, it’s Gran here, Tracy’s Gran from the Tracy’s Hot Mail and Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail books. I’m the star of the latter book according to GransFans.com; an Intyweb fan-page thingy that Tracy set up to stop me getting too many pervy phone calls and photos of men’s willies in the post. I didn’t mind the pervy phone calls actually, but I expect to be paid for taking them and I have to admit, I quite liked the willy pics. I was going to set up a Granny chat, sex line but then I found out that some wrinkly old slapper had beaten me to it.
I wish we’d had the Intyweb when I was younger, I’d have been cyber-sexting all over the place. All we had back then was pen and paper, if we wanted to be sexy we wrote, SWALK on the back of the envelope. SWALK was an acronym for Sealed With A Loving Kiss. I always preferred NORWICH myself. (Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home).
I wasn’t always called Gran. That’s just the name my daughter and granddaughter know me by. My useless tosser of a son-in-law knows me by lots of different names, evil old bag, being the most popular. I’ve got a lot of pet names for him too, none of which I’d be cruel enough to actually name a pet with. My favourite at the moment is, wankspittle. Continue reading
Back in 1940 we suffered a long series of what we kids called, hit and run attacks by German planes. (Their bombs hit our houses and we’d run for the shelters,) it was more commonly known as, the Blitz. During this time, me and a few other kids on my street, took advantage of a doddering old ARP warden called, Mr Spinks, though we called him Mr Blinks because of the really bad squint he had. If ever there was a man placed in the wrong job, it was Mr Blinks. His employment was typical of the twisted logic and unbelievable incompetence of the time. We used to wonder if patients from Bedlam or members of German high command were given the final say on many of these job allocations. Plumbers were given positions in the army looking after radio sets while electronics engineers were sent to the navy to look after the boilers on ships. The biggest laugh of all must have been had when the decision to make Mr Blinks an ARP warden was taken. A lot of tea will have been spat across the deployment manager’s desks that day. Giving the post of, spotter, for a forthcoming air raid, to a man that couldn’t see beyond the end of his nose was sheer, lunacy, but giving the job to a man who was deaf as a post and couldn’t see beyond the end of his nose, was just taking the piss. Continue reading
For those who need a bit of background, Gran is the grandmother of Tracy, a character in two of my books. Gran appears in both Tracy’s Hot Mail and Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail where she has been upgraded to major character status. Gran is angsty, politically to the right of Genghis Khan and hates Tracy’s father with a passion. The Book of Gran will be a collection of WW2 memories from her twisted, but sharp as tacks, brain and diary entries from the 1950s and 60s.
Our junior school didn’t have an air raid shelter and Mr Churchill said we weren’t allowed into the schoolhouse until the corporation found the money to build us one. So, for quite a long while we had our lessons in different parts of the town. On warm, dry days, the teacher used to take us to the cemetery where we’d sit and try to memorise our times tables. My young boyfriend. Freddie (Fritz) Fischer, said that they took us there so they could bury us quickly if we were all killed by a bomb.
I loved Fritz, his dad was a German and he was arrested on the first day of the war because the police thought that he might be a spy. He wasn’t, he was so patriotic he kept a signed photo of Mr Churchill on the door of his outside lavvy. Fritz’s mum was Irish and she really hated Mr Churchill but they didn’t bother arresting her. I think the local policeman used to like the poteen she made in her back room. I often saw him stuffing a bag of spuds into her passage. My dad said that wasn’t the only thing PC Tomkins stuffed into her passage. I think he meant onions.
I showed Fritz my knickers once. He had two brothers and had never seen a pair of female pants shorter than the starched, knee-length bloomers his mum used to hang on the line.
His eyes didn’t half light up when I showed him my drawers. Afterwards, I demanded to see what he had on under his shorts. He didn’t wear underpants, so I got to see his willy instead.
How was your Christmas? I bet it was a bit weird spending it in Cornwall. Their accent is hard enough to understand when they’re sober so it must be just about impossible when they’re pissed. I met a bloke from Penzance at a party once, he spent all night betting me that I couldn’t handle his scrumpy. He was only about five-foot two and his trousers were so tight they hid nothing, so I’m pretty sure I could have. I wasn’t really interested anyway; he was drinking homemade cider, it looked like baby shit in a glass. It was full of lumpy bits, I think he must have dropped his Cornish pasty in it.
My Christmas was okay, Mum got a bit drunk and Dad and Gran had their usual three rounds of all-in verbal wrestling. It was better entertainment than those crappy 1970’s reruns of Morecombe and Wise though.
Neil was playing the hero at the police station on Christmas Eve, saving us all from gangsters, drug dealers and other, scummy, low life, so he couldn’t come out with me. I was going to go to Tossers with Pauline Potts and her sister, Tia, but Pauline had a dodgy curry on Tuesday night and spent all day Wednesday on the lavvy. She was gutted because she had to miss her office party at work and Tia pulled the bloke that Pauline’s been lusting after for the last three months. Tia texted me to say she was going out on the piss with him on Christmas Eve, so it meant I had to make alternative arrangements. I rang around a few people but most of them were going to Spanners, that garage music night spot in the precinct. It was all ticket and no one had a spare. Continue reading
The 6th Magic Molly book, Halloween Hattie is published on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions this week. I’d like to thank my editor Mauren Vincent-Northam and my artist Marie Fullerton for their fab contributions to this project.
The book is not part of the Magic Molly series but is a Halloween special one-off that will compliment the Christmas special, Christmas Carole that was released last year.
In this Halloween Special, Molly Miggins has been given a new task by Granny Whitewand and the Rickety Brooms coven. She must solve the mystery of Halloween Hattie, a ghost witch who appears on a swing in the graveyard every Halloween at eleven o’clock.
Molly teams up with the scaredy-cat ghost, Bartholomew P. Balderdash, a walking talking skeleton called Bony Bob and an ex vampire doctor called Count Von Docula to try to solve the mystery.
Why is Molly’s security parrot practicing Kung Fu?
Who switched on the light in the tower at the long abandoned Hags Hall?
Who stole Bony Bob’s mum’s arm bone?
Who is Myrtle Moonseed?
For the answer to these and other puzzling, head scratching questions, join Molly and her friends in her creepiest, most exciting adventure yet.
Amazon have slashed the price of the paperback version of Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail to just £4.24p. I’m not sure how long the promotion lasts so if you’d like a copy for Christmas or as a present, then grab it while you can. You can buy it here in Kindle and paperback formats
Whooo, I have just Dysoned up the downstairs and cleared it of our Springer, Maisie’s shed hair. (That’s hair my dog has shed, as in lost, not hair she bought in from the shed. Is that clear? Good.) There’s usually more on the floor than on her.
But wait! While this bombshell might shock, it isn’t the most important part of this post.
The BIG news is that I have finally worked out the pressy things on the Dyson. I managed to get the extended hose out, fit an attachment brush and everything. Amazingly the whole machine didn’t collapse into 20 kit-form pieces. This has happened before, when she went to Scotland. That was a proper disaster. I had to get the neighbour’s wife in to rebuild the bloody thing. Shhhh though, don’t let my missis know I’ve learned how it works. I’m still performing dishwasher duty from the time she discovered I’m not quite as thick as I try to look.
I am Home Alone as my gaoler has buggered off to that London for the day. (God knows why, it’s just the worlds biggest rip off city. You see it once, you’ve seen it all, all that’s worth seeing at least.) Anyhoo, this means I have a day to myself, a day to spend doing anything I fancy… Hmm, hang on, there’s a note…. ‘Don’t forget the plumber coming to rip out bath today and can you nip to the shops for… Oh and the chickens, the dog and the cat need feeding, I didn’t’ have time… Can you put the washing out if it isn’t too wet and give the downstairs a quick hoover? There’s salad and pasta sauce in the fridge for when you cook your dinner…’
This Home Alone lark isn’t as fabulous as i’s made out to be. I didn’t even get a lie in, I woke up as she left at 6.30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep again. I lay there contemplating my navel for a while but then the dog started barking, wanting to be let out.
Oh yeah, the final insult.
When we discussed her plans the other day, she said she was going to catch the bus home when she got off the train. No longer it seems. I’m picking her up at the station now… no idea what time, after 10.30 pm is the only info I have.
Ah well, the day is still my oyster, there will be lots of loud rock music, I’ll have a vinyl day once my chores are completed, and bugger the pasta sauce and salad. I’ll make double egg and chips, a mountain of chips, a pile so big I’ll need two plates.
The day is looking better all the time.
I’m really not happy about this Black Friday thing, in fact, I’m quite shocked to be honest.
I was in a shop this morning trying not to spend anything, as you do, when suddenly I was kicked, punched, and spat at. This was followed up with a torrent of verbal abuse and to top it all off, I was then threatened with having my balls cut off. In the end I had to give my wallet to the missus, she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
Now that Halloween Hattie is in the latter stages of production I’ve begun to think about what, if anything, to do next. So I started looking in my abandoned project folder and found this. I started this almost two years ago now, it looks okay too. Some of you might remember it.
Do you believe in fairies? I don’t mean those itty-bitty things with tiny gossamer wings and sparkly wands that spend all their days sitting on toadstools looking cute. I mean proper fairies. The fairies that live in the forest, the fairies that can do real magic, like change themselves into a bird, a cat, or a hedgehog. The fairies that are able to disguise themselves as something innocent looking, like plant pots or buckets. The kind of fairy that doesn’t like humans much and disappear when we come clomping through the trees in our clompy boots. They probably don’t disappear to be honest; they probably just change themselves into a squirrel, or a nut, or something.
Proper fairies don’t use magic dust to sprinkle over things, they just think about what they want to do, and do it. They don’t live on a diet of berries and buttercup pollen either. They actually like carrots, peas and green beans, that sort of thing. They don’t like potatoes though, and they’re not too fond of Brussels Sprouts, so, if you ever come across a hungry fairy, don’t try to give it the sprouts you hid in your pocket at the Christmas dinner table, because they hate them just as much as you do and they’ll just throw them at you. You’ll find that fairies have a very good aim too.
I know that fairies like carrots because we had a fairy, plant pilferer in our garden and our vegetable crop was disappearing at an alarming rate. I stopped its night time nibbling when I ran strands of thin, copper wire over the rows of carrots, peas and lettuce. Fairies can’t do magic if there is copper about and we would probably have seen them if they had turned up disguised as themselves. So, we did have fresh carrots for dinner, for a while at least. Unfortunately, not long after the fairies left, a few rabbits began to visit, and they aren’t put off by copper wire. I reckon the fairies got their own back by telling the rabbits where they could find a free, night time feast.
Fairies are interesting creatures. They have their babies on the night of the changelings, which only happens once every nine years. Fairy mothers don’t make good parents. They are too busy looking after their patch of woodland to care for babies. Fairy fathers do look after children, but only when they get to nine years old. They have no idea how to change a baby’s nappy or play ring a roses with it and if you showed them a rattle they would probably think there should be a snake on the end of it, so they have developed a rather sneaky strategy. They get someone else to look after their babies for them.
On the night of the changelings, the fairy mothers kiss their babies goodbye and give them to a juvenile fairy, usually a female of about fourteen. Their job is to find a human house containing a new-ish human baby and swap it for the changeling. The human baby is taken back to the wood where it is wrapped in a warm blanket and placed inside a hollow tree. The fairy mothers cast a spell over it, and there is stays, fast asleep for nine years. The amazing thing is, it stays exactly the same. It doesn’t grow any bigger, it doesn’t wet its nappy, it doesn’t grow teeth and it doesn’t scream the house down at all hours of the day and night. It just lies there, fast asleep, until it’s time to take it back to its mother on the next night of the changelings.
The clever thing about a fairy baby is, as soon as is placed in the human baby’s cot, its features will change so that it looks exactly like the baby it has replaced. It will have the same colour hair, (if it has any,) the same colour eyes, it can wet its nappy to order and it grows a pair of lungs that could out-scream a banshee with a sore toe.
The fairy baby will grow up looking exactly like the human baby would have looked. It will go to school, it will make sandcastles at the beach, it will smile a smile so cute that its foster grandmother will boast about it to anyone willing to listen. The changelings look, and act, so much like normal human children that no relative could ever tell that they had one lurking in their playpen. The changelings don’t know who they are either. You could be one yourself. You wouldn’t have any idea until you began to change, then you’d know all about it.
Your mum and dad won’t know they have been tricked either, until you reach nine years old that is, then very strange things begin to happen.
On the stroke of midnight on your ninth birthday you will begin to change. Your nose will get a bit pointier, your chin will stick out just that little bit more, your hair will begin to turn silver and you will begin to shrink. (Fairies only grow to be about three feet ten inches tal and you are probably taller than that already.) By the time the sun comes up you will have gained a little magic power but not enough to do much damage with, and it will be time for you to make your way back home to the forest.
This all sounds rather easy, but it isn’t, because as soon as the changelings begin to change, they become a target for the Hags.
‘What on earth is a Hag?’ I hear you ask. Well, if you’ll sit still for a few more minutes, I’ll tell you.
Hags are old witches, sort of. They are certainly old, a lot older and a lot wrinklier than your granny, even if your granny is really old and really wrinkly. They don’t all look old though, and that’s because some of them managed to catch a fairy on the previous night of the changelings. If you’re a little sensitive you might want to put your hands over your eyes at this point because what I’m going to say next isn’t very nice.
If a Hag is lucky enough to capture you she will put you in her big black pot with lots of vegetables and the odd spider or mouse. She will boil you for a couple of hours until you turn into soup. She will ladle the soup into a large bowl and dribble some slobber into it from her drooling mouth. Some Hags will add a bit of salt and pepper to you and spread a slice of bread and butter, but the majority of them will hold the hot bowl to their black-toothed mouths and slurp you straight down. Once they have eaten the soup they immediately begin to look, and feel, young again. The makeover will last for eighteen years, that’s two changeling cycles. If they don’t manage to catch a changeling on the second cycle, the Hag will revert to looking as old as she really is, and seeing as some of them are about two hundred years old…well, that’s a lot of wrinkles.
A Hag who caught a changeling on the previous cycle, won’t bother to chase them on the next one, it could be quite dangerous. For instance, if they were silly enough to eat fairy soup when they didn’t need it, they could end up even older than they really are, and when they are already two hundred years old, that wouldn’t be a good look. The only cure for this condition is to empty out their cauldron of the changeling soup they just sampled and catch themselves a fresh one. That wouldn’t be easy though, not when they’re two hundred years old and about to turn to dust. So you see, Hags don’t have it easy either. The big problem is, changelings are very moreish and therefore very tempting, so Hags have to be extremely disciplined or their next changeling might be their last.
If you are a changeling you might find this story useful, one day. Then again, if you are a changeling, then it obviously isn’t your ninth birthday today. If it was, you wouldn’t be wasting precious time reading this. You’d be running for your life through the forest, with a hundred Hags in hot pursuit.
Excerpt from Magic Molly, Halloween Hattie.
The yew was situated in the older part of the graveyard sitting in an area of close cropped grass. A bench seat had been placed underneath. The yew was surrounded by creepy-looking granite crypts, some built like little Greek temples, others like stone sheds. Some had low, stone, boundary walls around them, while others had railings across the entrance. One had a set of broken steps leading down to a weather-beaten wooden door that… hung precariously on its one remaining hinge. Moonlight filtered down through the branches of the yew, bathing the entrance to the crypt in a murky light. Molly shivered as the grey, thickening mist crept between the marble statues that stood like lonely soldiers guarding the entrance to the tombs. She tried not to think about what they were guarding and sat on the bench to drink some of the hot soup from her flask.
As Molly left the kitchen she heard the flapping of feathers and a high pitched screech coming from the passage outside her father’s study. Mr Miggins was a magician who went by the name of The Great Rudolpho, Molly knew he was out at the shops so she wandered down the corridor to see what the commotion was all about.
On a tall perch by the study door stood a colourful parrot, he was dressed in a white karate suit, the jacket held together across his stomach by a white belt.
‘Haaaaaa,’ it screeched, bringing a stiff wing down in a chopping motion.
‘Good morning, parrot,’ said Molly.
The parrot leapt to attention on the perch, he pulled his karate top tight across his chest and smoothed it down with the tip of a wing. ‘Password, please,’ he squawked.
‘I’m not going into my dad’s room,’ said Molly smugly, ‘so I don’t need a password.’
The parrot eyed her suspiciously. He claimed to be a world-renowned security parrot, but in reality he was the ghost of Mr Miggins pet parrot that had died a few years before. The parrot had refused to pass over, deciding instead to haunt to passage outside his former owner’s room. Molly had had plenty of run-ins with it in the past. ‘You still need a password,’ he said grumpily.
‘Why?’ asked Molly.
‘Because if you don’t give it I won’t tell you why I’m dressed like this and then you’ll be wondering about it all day.’
‘No I won’t,’ said Molly, knowing he was right.
‘Will,’ said the parrot.
Won’t,’ said Molly
‘Will, will will,’ screeched the parrot. ‘I know you.’
Molly gave up. She walked slowly across the passage and lowered her head until she was eye to eye with the bird.
‘Millet,’ she said.
‘Lucky guess,’ said the parrot.
Molly decided not to get into another argument. The password was always Millet.
‘So,’ she said, ‘what are you doing dressed up in a karate outfit?’
‘Practicing,’ said the parrot.
‘I can see that,’ said Molly. ‘I just wondered why.’
‘In case the Great Rudolpho’s study is attacked by a criminal gang of trick stealers of course,’ said the parrot. ‘I’d have thought that was obvious.’
‘Hmm,’ said Molly. ‘Are there a lot of these ‘trick stealer gangs about?’
‘Of course there are,’ replied the parrot, ‘I wouldn’t be doing all this practice if there wasn’t, would I?’
Molly decided not to argue the point, discussions with the parrot could get very complicated.
‘Are you any good at it?’ she asked instead.
The parrot preened. ‘Let’s just say, it’s a good job I stopped my routine when I did, or you might have got a broken nose or a lost an ear or something. I get carried away sometimes when I’m in the zone.’
Molly held back a giggle and tried to look serious. ‘I’ll keep my eye out for criminal gangs of trick stealers,’ she said. ‘Goodbye for now.’
‘Let me know if you spot any,’ the parrot called after her. ‘And don’t try to take them on yourself, you haven’t been trained to killer parrot status like I have.’
An old story but a new entry for Friday Flash
Harris sat hunched over the table, his damp grey hair sticking to his forehead. It was hot in the room; it had been a hot summer.
A single tear meandered down his cheek, he wiped it away with the back of his hand, winced, then cursed his injured knee as he forced himself out of the chair and made his painful way across the timbered floor, to the fridge.
Gritting his teeth he pulled out a cold beer and rolled the bottle up his bare arm to test the temperature. Satisfied, he removed the cap and wandered through the open door to the veranda. He sipped slowly at the beer, deep in thought. He was aroused by the sound of a car driving across gravel; a voice came from the darkness.
‘Is there one of those things going spare?’
‘Drinking and driving? and you a police officer; what sort of example is that Steve?’ Harris went back to the fridge, pulled out a beer and handed it to the uniformed officer.
Steve drank half in one pull, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. ‘So, is the deed done?’
‘Yes, it’s done, I killed her, no going back this time,’ Harris replied quietly.
Steve fanned himself with his hat. ‘She had it coming.’
‘I know, Steve, but it was hard to let go.’
The policeman patted Harris on the shoulder, finished his beer and walked through to the kitchen to get another. He picked up two, flipped the tops and walked back to the veranda, placed a bottle at his friend’s feet and sat on the top step. ‘I have to ask this, how did you do it?’
‘I gave her a heroin overdose, her drug of choice. She died with a smile; I think she was ready for the release.’
The officer, sat quietly for a while, then shook his head. ‘Hell of a way for a young girl to die, how old was she? Twenty-two, Twenty-three?’
‘Twenty-three, though she looked forty in the end.’
‘That’s what happens when you get mixed up with drugs.’ Harris placed the empty bottle at his feet and picked up the refill. ‘Where did you put the body? I have to know.’
Harris was reluctant.
‘Come on man, I know everything else, what’s the point in holding back now?’
Harris sighed. ‘She’s in the woods, not far from the cabin…’
Steve walked over to his friend and squatted in front of the distraught man. ‘You did the right thing. It was over; there was no future for her. It’s time to move on.’
Harris nodded. ‘I know, I know. It’s just so… so final.’
The cop stood, thought about more beer but decided against it. ‘Better get this over with.’
Harris walked back to his desk, picked up two large manila envelopes from the table and handed them reluctantly to the policeman. ‘It’s all there, my dastardly confession, every detail, typed double spaced, two copies; signed.’
Steve smiled. ‘Thanks for the spare copy, I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ll make sure the other one gets to the post office first thing tomorrow. Secure post to the publisher. Have you decided on a new character for the next book yet?’
Harris nodded. ‘The next book will be about a cop, a cop who is out to destroy the filth that corrupts the innocent.’
He waited until he heard the car drive off. Then he fired up the computer. Within five minutes he was deep into the second paragraph. He hit the keys hard as he typed, this one was for Melissa.
It’s Halloween again, so for your delectation and delight I’m posting Clicking Gran, my kid’s poem about the young lad who goes to stay with his Gran only to find out that she’s a witch. Feel free to print and read to the little monsters in your life for Halloween. The poem made the long list in the Plough Prize for children’s poetry in 2009.
Last Halloween I took a train
and travelled to the coast again,
to execute my mother’s plan
and spend some time with Clicking Gran.
Clicking Gran has five black teeth
with dark red gums sat underneath.
Her face is wrinkled, like a peach,
her pace is slow, just like her speech.
Gran sucks bread and slurps her tea,
she’s really not a bit like me.
She has a beard and long white hair
and owns a cat called Lucifer.
Gran’s stiff knees go, click, click, click,
as she hobbles with her stick,
her back is bent, her ankles meet,
she’s always looking at her feet.
Gran lives in a creepy dwelling,
how she got it, she’s not telling.
Bats live in the broken eaves,
her letterbox is full of leaves.
On Saturday I got quite ill,
I said to Gran, ‘I need a pill,’
but Gran said she would give to me,
‘a bit of homemade remedy.’
I drank some soup, then Granny said,
‘You’re really better off in bed.’
Granny said that she would stay,
‘until the pain had gone away.’
When I woke up in the night
Gran had gone, I felt alright.
I was hungry, wide awake,
I thought I’d get a slice of cake.
I put my slippers on before,
I crossed the creaky timbered floor.
I heard a noise, a weird sound.
I crept downstairs and looked around.
On the kitchen floor was Granny,
searching every nook and cranny.
Then she caught a hairy spider,
Lucifer was right beside her.
She dropped the spider in the pot,
and stirred the brew, it looked quite hot.
Then I saw my Granny stoop
and drop five beetles in the soup.
She cackled as she added snails
and slugs and tiny mouses tails.
Lucifer sat idly by,
chewing on a hover fly.
After that I saw her bake,
a bat and frog and spider cake.
Then she got a big old broom,
I thought she meant to sweep the room.
But granny pushed the big door wide,
she called the cat and went outside.
I saw her run and very soon,
she was flying ‘cross the moon.
I cut some cake and took a bite,
it tasted nice, to my delight,
I licked my lips and in a trice
I ate another giant slice.
I sped upstairs and packed my case
and ran out of that awful place.
But Granny caught me in the lane
and took me back inside again.
When I woke the sun was high,
I yawned and stretched and breathed a sigh.
Granny smiled and said, ‘it seems,
that you’ve been having nasty dreams.’
We went downstairs and had some tea,
then Granny said, ‘My goodness me!
What have you been doing Keith?
There’s spider’s legs stuck in your teeth.’
This short piece on dying was lurking inside a folder I was about to delete and finding myself in a generous mood, I thought I’d give it a public hearing before I despatched it. It was written circa 2009 when I was a newish member of the Writelink apprentice writer community.
After reading a piece in the Sunday paper on knife crime, I suddenly got to thinking about what it must be like to actually be stabbed to death.
I know there isn’t really a pleasant way to die. apart from the blindingly obvious one of course; the one that entails 4 packs of lager and a romp with a 25 year old blonde model, before croaking in your sleep with a grin as wide as a piano keyboard on your face.
Being stabbed to death must be a particularly unpleasant way to go. It must bloody hurt like hell for a start and if you had more than 10 wounds you’d run out of fingers and thumbs when you tried to plug up the holes. Panic might set in at that point.
Choosing to be shot through the head or any part of the anatomy wouldn’t be much better. A bullet through the cranium might seem quick, but what if the bullet hits a bit of misshaped bone and gets deflected back down through the windpipe causing you to choke to death? Not nice, and even if the bullet didn’t deflect and you were taken out immediately, remember that some poor sod has to clean the walls afterwards.
I ruled out heart attacks and brain seizures early on, though they might be quicker than bleeding to death, they would also be extremely painful. I think a lot of groaning and screaming might be involved too and I’m not one for the theatrical.
Having read various accounts of drowning, it seemed for a while like that would be the best way to go. Then I thought a bit more about it. Some reports say drowning is a pleasant experience, but having nearly choked to death on a pint of Shipstones bitter once, I have to disagree.
The benefit of drowning is that your whole life is supposed to flash before your eyes. This would be good if you were able to play it back through a sky plus type device,where you could freeze frame and rewind bits of it, although I can’t see many people wanting to keep viewing the last few moments of their life experience. The gurgling sound would drive you mad.
Rolling the movie back to your twenties would be good. I’d spend a few happy weeks drowning while I revisited a few of my local hostelries and as many of my ex lovers as I could find on the recording. Mary Parkinson, in particular, would get a few replays.
I’ve just done an interview with the lovely Fiona Mcvie for her author’s website. It’s the first one I’ve done in eons. I used to do them quite regularly but found I was just boring the arse off everyone by repeating myself over and over. Hopefully people will have forgotten what I said previously and find something interesting in this one.
Oh yeah, the linky thing. Here is it is. Thanks for inviting me, Fiona.
I woke up this morning to the sight of my Internet router displaying all four of the lights it should be showing. This was excellent news after one of the little bastards went out at about eight-thirty last night leaving me Internet-less.
Now, for some people this may not have been a major issue, I mean, many people in the world have far bigger things to contend with in their daily lives. Bombs, poisoned water, virus’s, the list of suffering is seemingly endless. For me though, the lack of Internet capability was about as bad as my life could get. It’s akin to cutting off my right arm and my penis and I was onto the Sky help-desk like a shot. Sadly, at their end, Sky were firing blanks and it took SIX of the most frustrating minutes of my year before someone called, Ewan, heard my expletive filled ranting at the robot voice telling me that if my broadband had failed I should go to Sky help online and follow the instructions, and interrupted to ask for my username and password.
Although I’m a computer repair man myself, and could probably have taught Ewan a thing or two, I sat back and allowed myself to be led with excruciating languidness, through his level one flow chart to see if he could ascertain the problem. Twenty minutes later, I found myself suggesting things to him, (no, no and no, perverts,) and he was jotting down a list of a few more things he could have got me to try. Sadly, in my case, I had already been through my own list before contacting him.
Ewan thanked me for my input and assured me that he was about to ‘escalate,’ my problem to his senior colleagues and assured me that one of these descendants of Einstein, would be in touch within the next seventy-two hours.
I took this rather badly as you can probably guess. Seventy-two hours without Internet access! That’s three sodding days! I coughed and spluttered on my mouthful of cold coffee, but before I could put a coherent sentence together, Ewan had ended the call.
You can imagine how frustrating this was. I rushed into the lounge to complain to the missus but she had heard me getting increasingly irritated on the phone and decided that an early night was called for. I shouted up the stairs to her but she was obviously too tired to reply to my whinging because there was no sympathetic, tut tuts, no, oh dears, not even a ‘get a sodding life.’
I told myself that this wasn’t the end of the world and there were other things I could be doing with the Facebook free time I was about to enjoy. I picked up my writer’s magazine and put it down again, I fired up the word processor but that was only on screen for less than five seconds before the I clicked the exit button. I switched on the TV and flicked through twenty channels of garbage before I gave up, cursed the world and its dog and went up to bed at the ridiculously early time of 9.15 pm.
I know, I thought. I’ll check out my Kindle, there’s about fifty, waiting to-be-read books on there, so that ought to keep me occupied until the Sandman sprinkles dust in my eyes. Sadly, the Sandman had got to the Kindle before me, it was flat out and the only books on the shelves in our bedroom were the unwelcoming rows of the wife’s hysterical romances. I could have gone into the other bedroom and picked a book from one of the bookcases that Homebase have been randomly delivering all year, but I was comfy by now and it all seemed too much of an effort. I must have been ready for a kip anyway because I didn’t even get to have the angsty, ‘I’ll get my own back on you, Sky bloody broadband,’ tossing and turning session that I was so looking forward to.
As I said earlier, I got up this morning to the sight of four bright lights on my router and the news that the Internet, was fully functional again. The missus knew all about it from 6.00 am but didn’t bother to wake me up to let me know. She bloody well woke me up to let me know when Princess Diana died and when we invaded Iraq. Some things just aren’t important enough, I suppose.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the fact that pre-Internet disaster, I was about to check up on the sales of my new book, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail, published by |Crooked Cat Publishing. It had been doing really well in the Amazon satire charts since the launch on Tuesday and I was keen to see if you lot were still buying it in your droves.
I did check this morning and it seems that ‘droves,’ was the wrong word but it’s still selling steadily, so, if you fancy a good laugh at Tracy’s observations, give it a try, It’s only 99p on Kindle for a limited time. It only takes a few seconds to download. Providing your Internet is working of course.
Here it is folks. The launch day email from the girl herself.
Have you seen Facebook today? I’m all over it. Some bloke called Trevvy Beleshawros has written a book about me and he’s launching it on FB today. I always thought he was a golfer… still. I told him to piss off when he first approached me because he said he wanted to go into my intimate daily doings and I remember when Gran had to do that every morning as soon as she’d had a poo. (shudders.) I didn’t fancy having to do that, but he told me not to be such a silly cow and said he just wanted a warts and all look at my life. I said okay because he’s giving me a split of the royalties from the book, but to be honest I’ve never had a wart, I got a verruca when I was seven but Mum bazookered it with some cream and it never came back. I remember that tart Olivia telling me I had leprosy or something at school, and I remember I couldn’t go swimming. I really wanted to because I’d have loved Olivia to get a face full of verrucas. I still would, actually.
Anyway, I’m on FB from 12 30-ish until six or seven tonight and then Trevvy is going to take me out to a club to celebrate. I hope it’s not the golf club. My arse is always black and blue from slapping and pinching when I come back from there. Last time I went, it was to open a pro-am tournament and some old duffer wearing plus fours, told me he’d like to show me how the club’s ball washer worked. Blimey, I know they must get a bit sweaty poncing about on the course but you’d think they’d be able to take a full shower, wouldn’t you? The celeb golfers were as bad. That bloke who appears on Countryfile now and again gave me a few tips on my swing, I thought that was really nice of him until he whispered that he’d like to take me up the back nine. I mean, are all golfers perverts or what? The club captain once offered to show me his ancient niblick. I told him I’d stick it up his sand trap if he did.
Righty ho. I’m off to get ready for the book launch Emma. I’ve really got to get my brain started up, I’m doing a Q&A at some stage. Drop in if you can but slip on your dancing shoes, there’s going to be music and we’ve got virtual nibbles and a few bottles of fizz. That Paula and Annie are coming and you know what they’re like once they get on the sauce. Steve’s coming too, if he can drag himself away from his new iron. Hey, some bloke called David just wrote a blog post all about me, this is going to be a fab day, I just know it.
See you later Emma,
Tracy the Booker… that’s Booker as in prize, not Hooker as in Olivia.
Doesn’t time fly? It only seems a short while since I announced the news that the sequel to Tracy’s Hot Mail was to be released by Crooked Cat Publishing on August 12th. Well, that day is almost upon us and anyone who wants to can take Tracy to bed with them on Tuesday night. She won’t complain, she’ll do anything for a giggle.
The launch itself will take place on Facebook’s TRACY’S CELEBRITY HOT MAIL BOOK LAUNCH PAGE There will be a few tacky prizes including Tracy branded mugs, pens, notepads and key rings. You will be able to enter a competition to win one of two, signed, paperback copies of the original Tracy’s Hot Mail book. You will also have the opportunity to win a special mystery prize. All you need to do is go to the Launch page and click the join button to be in with a chance of winning.
Tracy will be there all afternoon, chatting and answering questions. She may even write another special email to her best friend, Emma to mark the occasion. So, mark the date in your diary, the fun starts at 12.30 0 1.00 pm.
The book, in Kindle format is priced at £2.49. Linky Thing Here.
The paperback is £7.99 and signed copies will be available on request. Linky Thing Here
You can now buy the kindle version of Tracy’s Hot Mail, (Crooked Cat Books) by clicking the Amazon link below. Price a mere £1.59p. That’s only 1 p per chuckle and 10 per Guffaw.
I was watching that Great British Bake Off program with Mum and Gran the other night. I know, but it was something to do while my hair colour set. I was just dozing off when that Mary Berry mentioned soggy bottoms and Mum and Gran fell about like a couple of schoolgirls who just heard the word Willy for the first time. Okay, I’ll admit it was mildly amusing when she first said it all those years ago, but anyone would think Monty Python had come up with a new joke the way those two were rolling about. When the show was over Mum gave a big, aaaaah, and proclaimed that Mary Berry was the Queen of Tarts. Now, I know mum’s her biggest fan but that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, was it? I haven’t seen anything about her in the Sun or the Express and you’d think if she was putting it about at her age it would have been exposed by now. Maybe she’s paying them off with sticky buns or something. I would never have guessed, she looks so nice on the telly. Anyway, I argued with mum because the Queen of Tarts title belongs to Olivia, Mary Berry couldn’t get close to that trollop.
Going back to the Bake Off, that Paul Hollywood is a bit of alright for an old bloke isn’t he? Mum reckons he’s the Bread King. I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind him spreading me over a hot worktop while he kneaded my baps.
Ooh, I’m feeling all funny now. Time for Jessica to come out to play I think.
See you later, Emma
Tracy Buzzing off.
Hi Emma, I’ve just had a drink with Flossie McGlossie, the Scottish girl that almost made it out of the X-Factor heats last year. She’s a right good laugh. She’s a bit miffed because the Commonwealth Games organising committee refused to endorse Vodka snorting as a recognised sport for the games. She’d have pissed the gold medal if it had been included. More comes down her nose than goes in her mouth when she starts to giggle.
We had a great time in Norks Girly Bar. She copped off with one of the topless barmen they have in there. He was all right too; his pecs looked like they’d been pumped up with a tyre inflating machine. She’s seeing him tonight. He told her his name is Marko, but I heard one of the other lads behind the bar call him Stan. I told her but she didn’t seem to care, she said she had no intention of their relationship getting too deep and she told him her name was Megan, anyway.
After the bar we had a walk over to that new coffee bar in the precinct, (I walked, Flossie sort of staggered.) We had a couple of Irish espressos, which are normal, one-shot espressos, topped up with Bushmills from the half bottle Flossie keeps in her bag. She pulled again while we were in there. I don’t know how she does it. It’s not like she’s been endowed with tits like Pamela Anderson or something. She’s got crooked teeth and a mole on her neck so big that it looks like it just crawled out of her cleavage. I’ve got to hand it to her though, blokes were buzzing around her like flies round a dog turd. She fell off her stool twice while we were in there but that didn’t seem to put them off. I crossed my legs and stuck out my chest a bit but I couldn’t have pulled if I’d hung a card round my neck saying, shag me senseless.
I was starting to feel a bit groggy myself after the fourth espresso so I made my excuses and lurched my way out of the café. Outside I literally bumped into that tart Olivia, she was walking hand in hand with Zara Pomfrey’s dad. You remember Zara, we used to call her pomme frite at school because of her name, and because her skin was exactly the same colour as a McDonalds French fry. I expected a gob full off her but it didn’t arrive, she just looked embarrassed and tried to make out she had just bumped into him. That wasn’t going to work because the lipstick on his neck matched up exactly with the Revlon Moon Drops, Penis Pink shade that she had smudged all over her kisser.
I logged the info for blackmailing purposes and pushed my way past to get to the taxi rank. Half an hour later I was fast asleep on the sofa. Mum had to wake me up for dinner. I wonder how Flossie got on with Stan/Marko from Norks, I doubt if she’ll remember to go back and she had a lot of other options available. I might look in again myself at the weekend though. Do you fancy it, Emma?
Catch you later.
This is a new Tracy Hot Mail and is not part of the upcoming Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail which is to be published by Crooked Cat Publishing on 12th August 2014. Priced at a mere £7.99 it will be the bargain of the century… so far at least.
I have updated the details on my Amazon T A Belshaw Author Central page to include the publication date of Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail. There is also a new photograph. You have been warned. You can find the author page, HERE
Well, after a heated conference with the police, the government and the military, it seems that the Queen will not be available to launch Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail on August 12th. It appears that she’s going to be off shooting something instead. BUT!! fear not. We have managed to find another old wrinkly to send the champagne bottle swinging. Tracy’s Gran. … No Gran, that’s swinging the champagne bottle, not swigging it.
Gran says she’s delighted to step in for the Queen and hopes she gets to shoot a few pinko commies alongside the grouse when she’s out on the moors. Gran says she likes the feel of a well greased Purdey too.
A piece I Wrote back in 2012. It was published in the Irish magazine, Ireland’s Own.
Tonight I heard the most moving story I’ve heard in a long while.
I was watching Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand on some satellite channel and Billy was taking the viewer through some of the attractions in the South Island.
He told the tale of ‘The lonely Graves;’ two headstones laid side by side in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. The hero of the tale was a man called William Rigney.
Rigney was from Dublin, a twenty five year old miner who arrived in New Zealand from Melbourne on the SS Atrevida in 1861 to seek his fortune in the Otaga gold rush. Life was hard for these men, many of them drowned, or died in collapsed rock falls. Some were even murdered for their claim. Rigney worked the area along the banks of the Cutha river at the Horseshoe bend diggings.
In late 1864 he came across a small dog guarding a man’s body on the banks of the river. The man was fair, young, handsome and had apparently drowned. Rigney took the body to the nearest town to see if he could be identified but no one knew him.
The police were called from the larger town of Roxburgh. They investigated the death but no one could put a name to the body. Rigney attended the inquest at which the coroner delivered a verdict off death by drowning. He asked for, and was granted permission to bury the body near the place he had been found. He reasoned that although the man was anonymous he must have been someone’s son, brother or grandson, he was somebody’s darling.
Rigney dug the grave himself near the woods at Horseshoe Bend, at the side of an ancient Maori bush track. The entire population of the small mining community turned out for the funeral. The local schoolteacher performed the ceremony. Rigney made a headstone from a piece of old black planking and used his poker to burn the words
‘Somebody’s Darling Lies Buried Here.’
Rigney tended the grave himself for many years. He built a fence around it to keep out the livestock, but the wooden headstone began to show signs of age. So in 1903 the local population ran a collection and built a marble headstone, incorporating the original wooden one behind a glass frame in its base.
Rigney never married, and let it be known that when he died he wanted to be laid to rest next to ‘Somebody’s Darling,’ so that the young man wouldn’t be alone for all eternity. In 1912, forty eight years after finding him, he was laid to rest alongside the man he never knew. On his headstone was written, ‘Here lies the body of William Rigney. The man who buried Somebody’s Darling.
I found myself deeply moved by the story, what a wonderful, selfless thing to do for someone you had never known. The next time I am in company I will relate this tale and raise a glass to William Rigney; a man who cared.
Tracy’s Daily Doings. Thursday.
This morning, Gran decided that she wanted to get a mobility scooter. She doesn’t need one, she can walk really well and can even get in and out of the bath without assistance. It’s just the simple fact that, as she puts it, ‘every other old bugger on the planet has got one, why not me?’
Dad said they… are for the physically disabled not the mentally challenged. He seemed to think that was really funny until Gran got her own back by tripping him up with her stick when he was carrying a pan of hot soup to the table. He was lucky, the only thing t that got scalded was his wallet. Mum reckons we need to redecorate the lounge now. She’s happy about that because it means she can get her favourite hunk of a handyman in to do the work. She’s obsessed with him. She even writes his name on the edges of the paper when she’s doing the crossword.
During a three hour stint on the phone, Gran rang the council, Mobility Plus, The Salvation Army, Help the Aged, (Mobility Plus again, because she said she wanted to speak to someone English this time,) Ferrari UK and Littlewoods catalogue returns. She even tried to get through to Downing Street in a vain attempt to get hold of a free scooter. Eventually she took the hint that no one was going to give her one, so she started looking through the for-sale pages in the paper but she had no luck there either. She finally found a free scooter, (excellent condition,) advertised on a card in the Post Office window. The owner only lived a couple of streets away, so we went round to have a look.
Mr Obingwya, answered the door and showed us round the back where the scooter was parked up. Gran asked him if he’d bought it with him from Africa, but he laughed and said he’d never been further than Northampton in his life. He asked us where the disabled person lived who needed the scooter. When I pointed at Gran, Mr Obingwya shook his head and said he was only going to give it to a genuinely disabled person. Gran suddenly lurched forward clutching her back like she’d been shot.
Mr Obingwya wasn’t impressed.
‘It comes and goes,’ Gran explained. ‘One minute I can walk normally, the next my legs give way and I’m left sat on my arse in the street. I want to get them chopped off and get some blade things like that Oscar Pissartist bloke has, but the council won’t fund me.’
Mr Obingwya gave Gran the benefit of the doubt, helped her into the scooter and showed her the controls. Before he could say test drive, Gran was off up the garden path like Louis Hamilton coming out of the pit lane.
By the time we got to the street, Gran was across the road and heading for the precinct. Shoppers flung themselves into doorways to get out of the way as she hurtled at full throttle down the pavement. I ran to try to catch up but my five inch heels weren’t made for sprinting and I went arse over tit in the middle of the road. I heard a screeching sound and when I opened my eyes I was looking into the number plate of a green double decker bus. The driver didn’t seem too bothered about it though, he stuck his thumb up and blew me a kiss. It was then that I realised I was flashing my g-sting at him. I got unsteadily to my feet, pulled down my skirt, gave him the finger and headed off to find Gran. She wasn’t hard to find as it turned out. A few seconds after I reached the pavement I heard a rebel yell and Gran and the old man she had challenged to a race, came hurtling down the pedestrian area side by side. Before I could shout, look out, they were round the corner and heading towards the Co-Op.
I found the geriatric boy racer lying underneath his upturned scooter next to the lamp post he had hit. I helped him get it upright again but instead of thanking me, he shook his fist and glared.
‘Where’s she gone the cheating old bag?’
I looked around. ‘I don’t know,’ I replied.
‘She stuck her fucking stick in my wheels, she could have killed me.’
I left the old codger looking for a traffic warden to report Gran to, and walked as quickly as I could to the Co-Op. I found Gran in the car park trying to pull a wheelie. Mr Obingwya found us a minute or so later and dragged her out of the scooter.
He told Gran she was a menace and ought to be locked up. Gran told him to piss off and said he ought to be ashamed of himself for trying to sell a scooter that didn’t have a fifth gear. Mr Obingwya reminded her that he wasn’t actually selling it and that it wasn’t meant go any faster than it did. Gran called him a liar and accused him of stealing the fast gears. She said she was going to put another card in the Post Office window telling everyone what he’d been up to.
Mr Obingwya said she was a crazy woman and he was going to take her to court if there was any damage to the scooter. Gran told him to piss off and said that no court in the land would convict her because his crappy scooter was slower than a one legged sloth with rickets. She told him that if he did take her to court she’d ring up Esther Rantzen and have him named and shamed on her, That’s Life TV show. He laughed and told her That’s Life wasn’t on TV anymore. Gran said that didn’t matter and she’d ring her on Childline instead.
I took Gran home via the back streets to avoid meeting up with her rickety racing rival. On the way home she suddenly had an idea.
‘I know, we’ll go carting. How do you fancy it Tracy? There’s a carting track up by Bluebell woods. Sheila Tomkins told me about it. I was going to join her protest to get it closed down but I think I’d like to try it out first. What do you think?’
I didn’t say anything. Muddy cart tracks and short skirts aren’t usually a good mix and I’m not going to turn up in public wearing scruffy old clothes. I’ll get out of it somehow. Gran’s memory is so bad she’ll have forgotten all about it by tea-time. It’s odd you know, she can remember everything that happened in the war and she was only a kid then but she can’t always remember to put her knickers on in the morning.
I don’t want to get old… ever.
See you later Emma, Mum wants me to look at the new wallpaper she bought.
Tracy’s Hot Mail, a snip at only £1.59p in ebook format Signed paperback available. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracys-Hot-Mail-ebook/dp/B006YJHRWU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327153165&sr=8-1
Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail released in August, by Crooked Cat Publishing.
The date is set. Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail will be officially released on Tuesday August 12th 2014.
Laurence and Steph Patterson, the owners of Crooked Cat Publishing made the announcement on Facebook last night. They also revealed the full cover artwork for the first time.
A launch party page has been set up and everyone is welcome to come and join in the fun. You can find details here. TRACY’S CELEBRITY HOT MAIL OFFICIAL LAUNCH PARTY There will be prizes, chat, and a bit of fun provided by the girl herself.
Keep an eye on the newly launched Facebook page UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH T.A.BELSHAW for more news on Tracy’s Daily Doings including her latest inbox messages to her best friend, Emma.
Here it is, the blurb from the back cover of the new Tracy book. It is too long for the paperback version but this is pretty much what you’ll see on Amazon when the book is released.
When opportunity knocks, make sure you’re waiting in the hallway, wearing lippy and a short skirt.
Outraged at being replaced by a dumb terminal at the office, Tracy teams up with über-iffy agent, Shayne Slider, for an assault on the bottom end of the celebrity market. Despite being in demand by the likes of Pets and Vets magazine and Asda’s in-store promotions, Tracy still finds time to inbox her best friend, Emma, with all the latest gossip.
Whether she’s appearing as Santa’s elf at the Co-op Christmas Grotto or Mary from the Dairy in a Bread and Spread promotion, Tracy keeps her all-seeing eye on the intimate doings of her friends and family. There’s her dodgy dad who nicks vegetables by the ton; her mum, who has a thing for the handyman; and her gran, who claims to have advised Mrs Thatcher over the miners’ strike. Tracy keeps us up to date on Spotty Irene, still searching for a cure for her pimply phizog and explains why ‘that tart’, Olivia, suddenly developed a bandy-legged walk.
Juicier than a vat of crushed grapes. Fruitier than a ten gallon fruit shoot. Spicier than an Istanbul market trader’s flip-flop. Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail is just the thing for when only a good gossip will do.
The final edits are complete, the cover has been chosen, the tagline and back cover blurb written and Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail is just about ready for its August launch. Many thanks to Steph and Laurence, and the fantastic team at my publisher, Crooked Cat Special thanks go to my editor, Maureen Vincent-Northam, who has worked on everything I have ever produced, both for Trevor Forest and T A Belshaw. Maureen knows my mind so well by now she could probably write a book for me. Mo, you are a star.
Looking forward to the release. Thanks again to all the Tracy fans who have kept me going while the book was being written. It has been a long process but your encouragement helped get me through to the finish line. The new book is much longer than the original Tracy’s Hot Mail and (at least I hope), much funnier.
See you all in August you lucky lot.
T A Belshaw
I am delighted to announce that the long awaited sequel to Tracy’ Hot Mail is to be published by Crooked Cat Publishing later in the summer. Many thanks to Laurence and Steph, the owners of Crooked Cat for making Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail their 100th publication. Tracy’s Hot Mail was the first. I am honoured.
The Mirror Maze, the first book in the Magic Molly series, was made free to download from Amazon last week. Since then it has made it to NUMBER ONE in the Amazon children’s magic and fantasy/ swords and sorcery chart. this is quite a big deal as there are some excellent books in that chart. The other four Magic Molly books are all in the children’s paid book charts too along with Peggy Larkin’s War.
So, all in all, it’s been a very good week. Get your FREE copy of Magic Molly, The Mirror Maze, here FREE Magic Molly Book
Hi, I’m wearing my Trevor Forest, children’s author hat for this post. This is the prologue to a story I began but for some reason abandoned about this time last year. I’d forgotten all about it until I was editing my www.trevorforest.com website earlier today. So far there is only this prologue and chapter one, which I’ll post here. Could I be cheeky and ask for your thoughts on this? I’m really not sure whether to go on with it or do some other stuff.
Thanks for reading.
The following text has not been edited and is liable to change without further notice.
CLARISSA CRUMB CHANGELING
Do you believe in fairies? I don’t mean those itty-bitty things with tiny gossamer wings and sparkly wands that spend all their days sitting on toadstools looking cute. I mean proper fairies. The fairies that live in the forest, the fairies that can do real magic, like change themselves into a bird, a cat, or a hedgehog. The fairies that are able to disguise themselves as something innocent looking, like plant pots or buckets. The kind of fairy that doesn’t like humans much and disappear when we come clomping through the trees in our clompy boots. They probably don’t disappear to be honest; they probably just change themselves into a squirrel, or a nut, or something.
Proper fairies don’t use magic dust to sprinkle over things, they just think about what they want to do, and do it. They don’t live on a diet of berries and buttercup pollen either. They actually like carrots, peas and green beans, that sort of thing. They don’t like potatoes though, and they’re not too fond of Brussels Sprouts, so, if you ever come across a hungry fairy, don’t try to give it the sprouts you hid in your pocket at the Christmas dinner table, because they hate them just as much as you do and they’ll just throw them at you. You’ll find that fairies have a very good aim too. I know that fairies like carrots because we had a fairy, plant pilferer in our garden and our vegetable crop was disappearing at an alarming rate. I stopped its night time nibbling when I ran strands of thin, copper wire over the rows of carrots, peas and lettuce. Fairies can’t do magic if there is copper about and we would probably have seen them if they had turned up disguised as themselves. So, we did have fresh carrots for dinner, for a while at least. Unfortunately, not long after the fairies left, a few rabbits began to visit, and they aren’t put off by copper wire. I reckon the fairies got their own back by telling the rabbits where they could find a free night time feast. Continue reading
Due to Amazon Uk’s ridiculous decision to charge £2.75 pnp for a single book I have decided to offer a SIGNED book for list price plus £1.50p to cover package and posting costs. This constitutes a saving of £1.25 over a single purchase of an unsigned book from Amazon themselves.
Offer valid for any single Trevor Forest or T A Belshaw paperback book.
The Barbershop Quartet
Back in the days of a long time ago
when you needed a trim you would get,
a shave with your haircut and thrown in for free,
was the barbershop quartet.
Big John Head was the bassman,
his voice was as deep as the sea.
He was manly and muscled as broad as an ox
and he fancied a milkman called Lee.
Baritone Barry was bald as a coot
his voice was a smooth as new glass.
He was madly in love with Small Ernie’s wife,
who ran the town’s cookery class.
Small Ernie McGee was the tenor,
he didn’t approve of John Head.
They didn’t quite do homophobic back then,
so he did homophonic instead.
The lead parts were sung by Wee Willy Wilde,
he liked to embellish his role.
Willy took knickers from Ernie’s wife’s line,
Barry bought all that he stole.
Alfonso was the chief barber.
He had a brother called Del.
Del was involved with a barmaid,
who was married to One Eyed Mattel.
One Eyed Mattel was a gangster,
with scars all over his face.
He picked up his gun and went looking for Del,
he found him at Alfonso’s place.
Alfonso was shaving the sheriff,
while the singers were giving their best.
Del was sat reading the paper,
as a bullet flew right past his chest.
The quartet carried on singing,
as One Eyed Mattel took fresh aim.
The sheriff hid under the counter,
this wasn’t his sort of game.
The barber’s quartet sang a sad song.
Alfonso started to cry.
Wee Willie picked up a steel handled comb
and stuck it in One Eye’s good eye.
No Eyed Mattel staggered out to the street,
the quartet were singing the blues,
The sheriff came out from hiding
now he had nothing to lose.
They all made their way out into the street.
where the Pastor started to pray.
The barbershop singers sang ‘Abide With Me’
as No Eyes was carried away.
The barbershop singers aren’t there anymore.
Alfonso and Del are long gone.
Barry and Ernie’s wife ran off to Rome
and Ernie moved in with Big John.
A quick boast post.
My book, Peggy Larkin’s War, (written as Trevor Forest,) is in THREE Amazon charts tonight. In the children’s, historical fiction chart it is placed at number 65, higher than one of my favourite writers Roddy Doyle.
My poem, I Held You, has been published on The Dock, A space designed to offer inspiration and ideas for writers, developed in conjunction with the Filter Festival of Words THE DOCK Many thanks to Jo Gray.
First in a series of fun interviews. http://www.trevorbelshaw.com/blog/?p=1618#more-1618