Sunday, 29 September 2013

Forest Sprite

Forest Sprite

This forest is an ancient place where time and history have scant meaning. The trees and their forbearers have watched the eons pass, civilisations rise and empires fall. Their memory stretches far back into the mists of creation were mystery and magic were commonplace. Even now, in the age of space exploration a little of that ethereal essence remains.

Look closely into the gloom, be still and wait, perhaps you can glimpse it for yourself.

She welcomes the dawn, throwing her arms to the sky, gossamer threads of mist rise from the warm soil to hang suspended about her naked body. Her form so sensual it seduces even the earth and the sky, the very elements of life. The first rays of light flicker through the woodland canopy to dance over her in pinpricks of brilliance, roving where desire may take them. Her alabaster skin prickles at each warming touch, her toes flex to burying themselves deep in the blanket of moss and her back arches in ecstatic abandon.   

She leaps forward with the grace of a gazelle. Her feet, light as a butterfly's touch, leaving no sign of her passing. She flies through the air, using low slung branches to hurl herself forward. She races across open ground on all fours, bounding from fallen log to barren rock, with a skill long since lost to man. Soon, she's lathered in sweat, panting through smiling lips, she gulps down the morning air.

Ahead lies a mired stream, the ground beneath her feet oozes rich dark mud. She launches herself in a shallow dive, rolling and writhing in the grime, using her delicate hands to coat every inch of her skin with the slippery earth. Her head lolls back as she relishes the feel of her slick hand passing over her body. Her breath deepens until the groans coming from her throat can only be described as base.

At last, exhausted and sated, she rises from the mud and follows the rising sun towards the edge of the lake. Crystal clear, the water beckons her in. She vaults forward piercing the surface without causing a ripple. Her hands push the cool liquid aside as she delves deep. She welcomes the icy touch which explores her like a well acquainted lover. Her skin tingles as the clinging mud is washed from her deepest pore, the chill of the lake cooling her after the exertions of the forest. She dives deeper still, kicking strongly for the bottom until she's floating above the swaying weed anchored on the lake bed. She turns to watch the rising sun transform each surface ripple into a million glittering diamonds. Soon, her lungs need to taste air and she drives for the surface, alas the morning commune is nearly over.

Strong strokes take her back to the bank where she retrieves her clothes from the hollow log. Once dressed, she finds her keys where she'd hidden them. It was nearly time to wake the kids for school. She left with a heavy heart, the magic of the place would sustain her until the next time when she could be free, alive, without constraint.  

Inspired by the thoughts and words of Bobbi

Saturday, 28 September 2013

What was that

I am awake, why am I awake? Why is my heart racing?

Shhh, Listen did you hear something? 

I search the darkness but all is familiar, shadows rest as they always have. I breathe in tentatively, testing the air for danger but the only scent is my own. Something woke me, but what? I'm sure something is amiss. My mind says I should get up and check, my legs disagree. I hold my breath and strain my ears.

Outside, the wind makes the leaves sing a sweet lullaby, the summer rain on the slate above my head plinks and plonks with merry rhythm, otherwise the house slumbers peacefully.

Seconds pass without incident and my breathing returns to normal. The heat in my bed seeps deep into my weary body, robbing it of its resolve, my eyes flutter and close.

The creek is hushed but unmistakable.

I'm fully awake now but I can't pinpoint its origin. I lie and wait, unable to do anything else. I'm frozen by fear. It comes again, this time closer, or is it just a trick of the night air. I lean out of the bed and flick on the light.

"Who's there," I call with more conviction than I feel. No response. I throw my feet out of bed and search the house. All is exactly as it should be.

With nothing left to check I go back to my room, chiding myself for such childish notions. I close my door firmly and listen for a moment. There is nothing. I climb into my bed, only because it is where I should be and wait for sleep to come. Then I hear it, rough skin slipping over timber, and my blood turns to ice. Its close and getting closer.

I lie paralyzed but I can feel my heart race inside my ribcage. A shadow shifts and glides were no shadow has ever been, it is distinct and hazy at once. There, but not there. It drifts over the bed, invisible talons plucking at my sheet. It leans over me, infecting my eyes with darkness. I try to scream, but that's a mistake. The shadow rushes forward, spilling over my teeth, stretching my jaw to breaking as it dives down to feed on my soul. My last sound dies in my throat as my heart explodes in my chest, and as my brain grows dim I get my first glimpse of the afterlife and begin screaming for real.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What Kids Think

(I did not write this but it is so funny I just had to share it with you. Hope it makes you smile as much as I did)

What Kids Really Think About…


“One of the people has freckles and so he finds somebody else who has freckles too.” Andrew, age 6

“No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell… That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.” Mae, age 9

“I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.” Manual, age 8

“It’s like an avalanche where you have to run for your life.” John, age 9
“If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.” Glenn, age 7

“If you want to be loved by somebody who isn’t already in your family, it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful.” Anita C., age 8

“It isn’t always just how you look. Look at me. I’m handsome like anything and I haven’t got anybody to marry me yet.” Brian, age 7

“Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time.” Christine, age 9

“Mooshy…like puppy dogs…except puppy dogs don’t wag their tails nearly as much.” Arnold, age 10

“When a person gets kissed for the first time, they fall down and they don’t get up for at least an hour.” Wendy, age 8

…Lovers Going To The Movies

“All of a sudden, the people get movies fever so they can sit together in the dark.” Sherm, age 8

“They want to make sure their rings don’t fall off because they paid good money for them.” Gavin, age 8

“They are just practicing for when they might have to walk down the aisle someday and do the holy matchimony thing.” John, age 9

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sargent Kelly

In my dad’s time, the law in our town stood six foot two, and was stronger than a Russian power lifter. Sargent Kelly had an on-the-spot interpretation of the Irish penal code, and dispensed justice with personality. Things back then would best be described as very wild-west, without a hint of political correctness.

Sargent Kelly (or just Kelly if he was not in ear shot), was the angriest man ever to walk in shoe leather. I don’t think he once smiled while in uniform. In every town there the bullies who pick on the weak, then there are bigger bullies, who pick on them. Sargent Kelly liked to pick on the biggest of the bullies, but if they were unavailable for a punch, of the smaller ones would just have to do.

Sargent Kelly universally terrified everyone under the age of thirty, was loved by everyone over the age of sixty, and mistrusted by all in the middle. He'd walk up and down the town in massive strides, his hands clasped menacingly together behind his back. He didn't stop for chats, nor friendly nods of recognition, because Sargent Kelly was hunting, hunting for someone just asking for a thick ear. He'd pass the pubs were the tough lads gathered, and anyone with an ounce of sense made a close examination of their shoes when he appeared. A glance at the wrong time, or at the wrong angle, would result in a little tap.

That phrase became legend around the town after Sargent Kelly arrested three men for fighting in the street, one night after pub closing time. When they appeared in the dock the next day, the Judge was horrified at the state of them. Their clothes were in ribbons, each of them had black eyes, busted lips, and a sideways nose. Sargent Kelly was in the witness box, about to give his evidence when the Judge asked, “What in heavens happened, Sargent?” 

“Your Honour. I was coming down Main Street at 11.50pm, when I saw three men arguing in the street. I approached them, and told them to make their way home, but they continued to argue and refused to follow my instructions. I then took the men into custody.” Sargent Kelly said matter-of-factly.  

“Can you identify which man lashed out first, Sargent?” asked the Judge.

“I don’t follow, Your Honour,” said Sargent Kelly.

“Which of these men, hit one of the other men first, Sargent,” repeated the Judge.

“Oh, they were shouting, not hitting, your Honour,” said Kelly.

“Then, how did they end up in such a state,” asked the Judge, clearly confused.

“Well, they refused to stop shouting and leave the area, so I had to give them a little tap,” said Kelly, not quiet understanding what all the fuss was about.

After the Judge gave Sargent Kelly a dressing down, and instruction on excessive force, he dismissed the case against the defendants feeling they had suffered quiet enough. Outside, Sargent Kelly was heard to complain that in his day, "fellas like those, would never get to see the inside of a cell, never mind the inside of a court house. The whole world was going soft."

But the story that best represents peace keeping Irish style happened on a sunny Sunday morning. Sargent Kelly was making his presence felt in the main square, when a young lad of about sixteen came speeding through a stop sign on his bicycle, forcing an oncoming car to break hard. With two huge strides, Sargent Kelly was straddling the line in the middle of the road, blocking all escape for boy and bike. The teenager came to a skidding stop.

“Young McCarthy, I should have known. Did you not see the stop sign? The made it nice and big, even painted it red, you gobshite,” Sargent Kelly barked at the young man. 

Brian McCarthy was not renowned for his brains, but his cheek was legendary. “I did, Sargent. I slowed down, and saw it was fine, so kept going,” said the young man with a little grin. Kelly’s blood began to boil.

“Is that right McCarthy? Well that’s all right then, isn’t it?” said Kelly, his words dripping sarcasm. “Stop means STOP, McCarthy, not fucking slow down.”

“What’s the difference?” asked the young-lad, pushing his luck to the limit.

“Get off the bike and let me explain it to you,” said Sargent Kelly, his hands planted firmly on his hips, and his face glowing read with rage. 

The young lad swung his leg over the bar of the bike, but before it even hit the ground, Sargent Kelly grabbed the back of his jacket, and with one twist of his wrist, the kid was on the tips of his toes. Sargent Kelly swept his foot up, with a footballer’s skill, and planted it firmly in young McCarthy's arse. The boy screamed in pain while Kelly booted the young lad about eight more times. 

Young McCarthy tried to run but ended up going in circles around the massive Garda. He looked like a dog, chasing his own tail. Before long, a large crowd of mass goers had gathered to watch the fun. As suddenly as the attack started, it stopped. Kelly held the lad up so they were eye to eye. “Right so, McCarthy, would you like me to slow down, or stop?”

“Jesus Christ, STOP!” yelled the young lad. 

Kelly dropped him and said, “Glad you get the difference,” before stomping up the street in a rage. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Father Tom & Marilyn.

“Father Tom, it’s time to get up,” Jane called, while she happily washed the pans used for cooking breakfast. Soon, Father Tom came thumping down the stairs. He wasn’t cranky, or anything like that, but a man of his size thumped wherever he went.

“Morning Jane,” he said, mid-yawn, enjoying an energetic stretch. He was a great stretcher. He arched his back and stuck out his substantial tummy, before crouching down like a sumo wrestler. Not finished yet, he did a three hundred and sixty degree turn on his way up, sending a box of cornflakes flying off the kitchen table.

“Oh God, Father, what will we do with you!” she scolded, even though she was fifteen years younger than the priest, she often felt like his mother.

“Sorry Jane,” he said, starting to pick up the spilled cereal. Jane shushed him away with a tea towel, cleaning up the mess herself.

“Leave that, Father, God knows what you’ll break next.” In reality, she enjoyed the fact he was a bit clumsy, it made her feel needed. He lowered himself into a chair, scratching his chin through his fluffy black beard. Jane had offered to trim it before, but the only person he would let near him with a scissors was his barber. His hair was starting to get long, nearly reaching his collar, Father Tom would soon be needing his bi-annual visit to Marco.

He poured a cup of tea from the pot and flipped open the newspaper, as Jane dished up sausages and bacon for him. Father Tom mumbled a constant stream of nonsense while he read, “Hum”, “Would you believe it”, “For the love of God”, “Holy Mother”. The stories could be about anything, she could never guess whether they were happy or sad from listening to his noises.

“By the hockey, Jane, will you look at this,” he said, shoving the paper across the table at her. Jane read the article Father Tom was pointing at, ‘An exhibition of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia is going on display in Dublin, including some never before seen photos of her and John F Kennedy’.

“I’d love to go see that,” he said, shovelling sausages into his mouth and washing them down with buckets of sweet tea.

“Why don’t you go? It’s only two weeks away. You can book tickets in that music shop in town,” Jane said.

“Do you know, I just might do that,” he said, with a little smile. “I hope they have that white dress, from the photo.”

“Which dress is that, Father?” she asked.

“You know, the famous one. When she stood on the air vent and the wind blew up her skirt showing her – em,” he said, stopping mid-sentence and going a little red.

“Father Tom, you should be ashamed of yourself,” she chided, making him go even redder. She couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth twitching upwards in a smile.

“Ah! Would you go way out of that,” he said, flapping his hand at her, and going back to read the rest of the paper. 


A couple of days later, Father Tom was walking past the music shop and decided on the spur of the moment that he was going to go to the show after all. He entered the shop which was filled with long racks of CDs and video games. The walls were adorned with dozens of wildly coloured posters, and one whole side of the shop was filled with computers and mobile phones. Behind the counter a bored looking girl in her twenties watched him approach. Her hair was bright red, the colour of a traffic cone, and she had a steel hook stuck through her nose.

“God almighty, that looks sore,” he said. “Do you need to see a doctor?”

“Are you trying to be funny?” she sneered.

“Not at all,” he said, unzipping his jacket. When she caught a glimpse of his dog collar, her attitude softened like magic.

“Oh, sorry, Father. It’s only a piercing,” she said, unscrewing the lethal-looking fashion accessory to show him how it fitted together.

“Whatever will you young people think of next?” he asked and shacked his head in disbelief. “I was told I could buy tickets for a show in Dublin here?”

“You sure can, Father. Who were you going to see?” the girl asked while punching keys on a computer mounted under the desk.

“I wanted to see Marilyn Monroe, it’s happening next week,” he said, leaning on the counter, coming very close to knocking over a revolving rack of headphones. The girl searched on the computer for a while before saying, “I can’t see anything by that name, Father, are you sure you have it right?”

Certain, my dear,” he said.

“The only thing even close, is Marilyn Manson, in the O2 next Friday,” she said.

“That’s the one,” he said thinking they must be using her married name or something. The flame haired girl tapped a few more keys, and looked at the priest with concern. “Father, are you sure this is right? This stuff is a bit sexy.”

“Between you and me,” he said leaning closer, “I always thought so, myself, but what is the harm in it?” She looked shocked, but in a good way.

“All I can say is, fair play to you, Father. What seats do you want?”

“I wasn’t planning on sitting. I thought I’d walk around, and make sure I saw everything,” he said.

“The only standing tickets left are in the mosh pit,” she said.

“Where is the mosh pit?” he asked.

“Right at the front.”

“Sounds like just the spot for me,” he said smiling. The girls eyebrows arched so high, they nearly vanished into her thatch of red hair.

“Do you want two tickets?” she asked.

“Ah no, one will do. I’m sure I’ll meet someone nice to keep me company,” he said. The red haired girl took payment, and handed over his ticket.

“I must say, I admire a priests who’s not afraid to get in touch with modern culture” she said happily and waved him out of the shop.


On the morning of the show, Jane drove him to the train station. From her bag, she pulled a tartan flask of tea and a Tupperware box of ham sandwiches. “Take these with you, Father, the prices on the train are scandalous, and they only use cheap old ham anyway.”

“Jane, what would I do without you,” he said, whisking her up in a massive bear hug, the excitement of the trip making him lose the run of himself. She vanished in his trunk-like arms, like a toddler vanishes in a parents embrace. When he let her go, she was blushing from top to toe. She gave him a playful slap on the chest and said, “Father! Stop it will yea, people will talk.”

He smiled back at her and thought that the blush suited her. It was then that the train pulled into the station. He tucked the containers under his arm and jumped aboard.

He felt like a kid on a school trip. He loved being a priest, but sometimes he missed being just “Tom”. Today was like a holiday back to himself, back in time when he sat as a kid in musty old movie theatres, watching Marilyn on the silver screen. Tom wondered if he’d get to touch something that was actually hers, imagine that. He passed the journey by daydreaming, and remembering more innocent times. It felt like he’d only sat down, when the train pulled into Huston Station. Father Tom wandered out of the station in a crush of commuters and found a row of taxis waiting near the gate. He got into the back seat of the first one he came to.

“Where to,” the driver asked, without looking over his shoulder.

“The O2,” he said with happy authority. At this, the driver turned in his seat and glared.

“I didn’t think that would be your kind of thing, Father. Are you protesting or something?”

“Goodness no, I’m a big fan,” he said. “Do you know about the show?”

“I’ve spent all day bringing people to it, if you can call them that,” the cabbie said, pulling into the late evening traffic. The driver spent the rest of the ride shaking his head, tutting and mumbling. “What is the world coming to?”

The taxi pulled up outside a building on the quay. There were a lot of barriers and the street was strewn with rubbish, it wasn’t quite what he had expected. There were a lot of young people and some were wearing the wildest clothes. It was amazing what passed for fashion these days, he thought remembering the girl with the fish-hook through her nose. He got out of the taxi, and heard music coming from inside the place, it added a lovely party atmosphere to the show he guessed. At the door, several men in bright yellow vests with “Security” across the back, were lounging around, so Father Tom walked up to one of them and presented his ticket.

“You’re a bit late, Father,” said the man, tearing off the stub. They insisted he open the flask of tea and sniffed it, as well as looking in the sandwich box. They were taking this security thing very seriously, perhaps there’d been a bomb threat.  The security man studied his ticket with a smirk and said, “The mosh pit, Father? Are you doing research on the other side?”

“I didn’t want to miss anything, and I like being able to walk around,” he said, not liking being subjected to this interrogation one bit. “Which way do I go?”

“I’ll take you down there, the show is about to start,” said the man in the vest.

Father Tom found himself walking down a long aisle, bordered on both sides by thousands of people. There was so many wild costumes, it was like Halloween. He couldn’t get over some of the get-ups. As he was escorted through the crowd, he was smiled at, high fives were given, and they even cheered him at one stage. He had to admit he was feeling a little bit like a celebrity.

“Great idea, man, wish I had thought of it,” said one guy, patting him on the back as he passed. Half the man’s face was black, the other half red, and his hair was spiked.  By now, it was occurring to Tom, that something had gone very wrong with his tickets.

“This is your section, Father. Good luck!” shouted the security man, as he opened a crush barrier for him to enter.

Father Tom was surrounded by a solid mass of humanity, dressed in the wildest costumes yet, the ones that were dressed at all. In front of him, on a massive stage, was a huge statue of a woman in white suspenders, bra and knickers, who oddly wore a bunny rabbit’s head, of all things. This was no exhibition of memorabilia and he was on the verge of leaving when a black haired girl crashed into him, knocking him flat on his back. She landed right on top of him, lying with her face only inches from his.

“Oh, hi,” she said. “Great costume.”

“Hi,” said Father Tom. “Why do you all think I’m in fancy dress?” Her eyes widened, cracking her thick black eyeliner.

“Feck off! You are actually a priest,” she said, pushing herself up on her elbows to get a better look.

“Yes I am. My name is Tom, nice to meet you,” he said, holding out his hand. She took it, and shook.

“My name is Sandy, Father, nice to meet you, too.” She got to her feet, helping him to his.

“Are those sandwiches?” she asked, pointing at the box. Father Tom offered to share a sandwich, which she devoured with gusto.

“Cheers, I have the munchies bad,” she said, blowing bread crumbs out of her mouth as she talked. Father Tom took a good look at the girl. She was wearing platform boots, laced all the way up to her thighs. Next came tiny black leather shorts, and her upper body was stuffed into a black and red corset, which could only contain half her bosom. Her pretty little face was painted powder white, with thick black eyeliner, all topped off with a mane of long black hair. He thought she looked rather well, actually.

Just then a thunderous roar came from the crowd, as a band appeared on stage. Sandy grabbed Father Tom’s hand and shouted in his ear, “Come dance with me, Father.” He only hesitated for a second, before disappearing into the moving throng of humanity, hand in hand with a busty stranger.


As luck would have it, the same taxi driver picked him up after the concert. The man smiled in a snide kind of way as Father Tom climbed into the back of the car.

“How was Marilyn, Father?” he asked.

Leaning forward, Father Tom said earnestly, “She’s sure let herself go.” 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fr Tom

While I was attending college, I got a part time job as a hospital porter, which is a fancy title for the guy who moves things around the place. While the job only lasted a few months, the experience has stayed with me a lifetime. Of all the memorable people I bumped into while working there, Father Tom was by far the most memorable.

Father Tom is a lovely man, not always what you would describe as ‘with it’, but lovely, none the less. Once, he spent an hour searching the ward for his glasses, which he happened to be wearing at the time. He was a regular visitor to the hospital, speaking with the sick, praying with those that wanted it and always brightening the day with his smile. Most of the time you’d hear him coming long before you ever saw him. He talked constantly, chatting to anyone and everyone he’d meet along his way. Occasionally, he would even be heard muttering to the odd inanimate object. 

Another stand-out feature of Father Tom is his size. He is as big as a bear, with a robust belly to match. He sported a chest-length beard, and was blessed with the shoulders of an ox. I always thought he looked like a lumberjack in fancy dress. Given his size, Father Tom’s next most notable trait was downright dangerous. He’s the clumsiest man I’ve ever met. When he wasn’t knocking things over, he was dropping them. He left a trail of destruction behind him that a hurricane would be proud of. It’s lucky he didn’t work as a lumberjack or he’d be minus an arm, or a leg, perhaps both.

The last thing you should know about Father Tom is that he is universally loved. What I want to share with you is the story of how we first met.

Once, while on night duty, I was summoned to a ward. When I got there, the matron was busily stocking a medicine trolley for the morning rounds. She was a lovely woman, a few years older than me but that didn’t stop me from having a bit of a crush on her, something I think she knew. It was well after midnight and a lot of the lights were off so that the patients could rest.

“Thanks so much for coming, do you think you can do a job for me?” she asked, giving me one of her devastating smiles.

“Sure thing, what will it be?” I asked, as I followed her to the far end of the ward. 

She stopped beside one of the private rooms for patients. She pointed inside through the little window and said, “This is Mr Ryan.”An elderly man lay peacefully on the bed. “I’m afraid he is no longer with us. The thing is, someone needs this room, so we have move Mr Ryan up to ward C. I was waiting on Father Tom to come but he’s not shown up. Do you think you can manage the move?” said the lovely young matron. 

Mr Ryan was the first real dead person I’d come across, since starting the job, and it was creeping me out.

“Sure,” I said, not wanting to look like a sissy in front of my heart’s desire, but when she left, panic set in. I knew nothing about moving dead bodies, boxes they’d shown me, corpses weren’t even mentioned. I opened the door and entered the little room. Mr Ryan had been laid out with his hands clasped loosely on his chest, his head was resting lightly on the pillow, and for all the world, he looked like he’d just nodded off to sleep. It was only when you noticed that he wasn’t breathing that the truth of the situation became clear.

I wondered, should I pull the sheet over the man’s head before moving him, but I thought better of it, I might upset any other patients still up at this hour. Pushing a shrouded body through the hospital was never a good advertisement for its services. I guessed the best thing would be to leave him like he was, and hope no one noticed. I’d just disengaged the brakes when the door was filled, from jamb to jamb, with a dripping wet Father Tom.

“God bless all here. Wicked night out there, lads. Mr Ryan isn’t it?” Father Tom asked, shaking the rain from his coat.

“That’s right, Father,” I said.

“Good, good, and what is your name, young man?” he said to me, moving to the far side of the bed. He placed his bag and coat on a chair behind him before turning back to me, flicking his gaze from the man lying under the sheet and back to me again.

“Squid. Sorry, Harold, Father.” Sometimes only your given name will do.

“Harold, lovely name,” he said, and then his attention shifted to the man in the bed. “Mr Ryan, you’re not feeling so well, I hear?” he said, placing a soothing hand on his forehead.

“You could say that Father,” I answered for the dead man.

“How about we get things moving along, Mr Ryan?” Father Tom said, talking directly to the corpse. I’m not up to date with the rituals of the Catholic Church, or what happens when you die, I just took it for granted Father Tom knew what he was doing, and went with the flow. He kissed a narrow purple scarf and hung it around his neck. He opened his bible and launched into the ‘Last Rites’ with a speed that made most of the words liquefy into each other. He’d say the first word of each sentence loud and clear, before dropping down into a long winded mumble. It was quite hypnotic. Several signs of the cross were whipped across the peaceful Mr Ryan mid-mumble and it wasn’t long before Father Tom began patting his pockets while still pronouncing the world of God. He was clearly looking for something and he didn’t even break the rhythm of his chant when he turned to search through his bag. He didn’t even notice the wallop his substantial bum gave the bed and the whole thing shot toward me. I’d forgotten to re-engage the brakes after he’d appeared. I caught the bed with both hands but Mr Ryan kept moving, his arm flopped to one side, as did his head. Father Tom was still searching in his bag, so I just pushed the bed back to where it had been.

A moment later, Father Tom turned around with a small glass vial clasped between his fingers. He stopped reciting the prayer when he saw the new direction of Mr Ryan’s head and hands. He patted the man’s hand gently, saying, “It is all right, there’s no need to be upsetting yourself, we are all here for you.” Then he picked up where he’d left off with his incantations. Father Tom anointed Mr Ryan, on the hands and the forehead, with holy oil. Once this was done, he turned to put the small vial back in his bag. This time I held on to the bed, in case the priest hit it with his bottom again. While I was at it, I fixed Mr Ryan’s hands and straightened his head. Soon the sacrament came to an end, and Father Tom took off his scarf, which seemed to return him to his off-duty mode.

“Young Harold, do you think you could rustle up a cup of tea for me? I’ll sit with Mr Ryan for a while. I don’t think he’ll be up to a cup, sadly,” he said to me, putting his bag on the floor, and pulling the chair closer to the bed. I returned a few minutes later to find Father Tom talking with the late Mr Ryan. I left the tea on the bedside table and went to wait outside the room. I was watching through the little window when the matron passed by.

“Is Mr Ryan down in ward C now, Squid?” she asked.

“Nope, he’s still in there, chatting with Father Tom,” I said, pointing through the window.

 “You’re kidding,” she said, looking through the glass at the scene inside. The one-sided conversation lasted a good ten minutes, before Father Tom put his coat on and said his goodbyes.

We stood back as he opened the door, and joined us in the hall. “Good night, so,” he said to us, buttoning up his coat. “Just as well you called when you did, he's not looking good, at all.”

With that, Father Tom headed on his way. Five seconds later, a crash of crockery echoed through the hall, as he hit the tea cart with a door.

Monday, 9 September 2013


What are our bodies but vessels for a soul. Some are blessed by being given crystal decanters some have to make do with jam jars. Beauty of a vessel comes not from its shape or construction but its contents. Fill the finest decanter with a  measure of sludge, it remains only and forever a container of despair. Far greater to be a jam jar full of pearls I think.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Santa Got Lost

Last Christmas, we decided to spend the holidays with my husband’s parents. My little boy, Sam, sometimes gets funny ideas into his head and on the drive over he was unnaturally quiet. After a half hour, my husband looked back and saw a very sad looking little boy in the booster seat.

“You okay back there, Sammy?” asked Tim.

“How will Santa know we're not at home Daddy?” he asked, seriously.

“Santa’s magic, he knows these things,” said Tim, smiling.

“Like Harry Potter?” asked Sam.

“Yes, only better,” said Tim. 

I watched as Sam frowned, thinking, but he didn't say any more on the subject. Soon he was playing his Gameboy, lost in a world of his own. 

When we arrived, Tim’s dad was waiting for us.

“Grandpa,” shouted Sam, as he rushed up the porch steps.  Tim’s father swept him up in his strong arms and twirled him around. The house glittered with fairy lights and our breath fogged the chilled evening air. Now it felt like Christmas.

For the next few days we ate till we burst, watched old movies in the middle of the day, and went for walks in the woods. In a blink of an eye, Christmas Eve was on us and Sam was so excited, he trembled.

“Dad, are you sure Santa will be able to find us?” he asked.

“I promise, Sam. Santa knows where every kid in the world is tonight."

“OK Dad,” Sam said, trusting Tim implicitly. 

Around eight, I managed to get Sam into his PJ’s, and get his teeth brushed. We put out a glass of milk and a ham sandwich for Santa, and a bowl of apples for his reindeer.  Only when all that was done to Sam's satisfaction would he agree to go to bed. 

“I won’t be able to sleep, Mom, I just know it. Santa will fly right past the house,” Sam said, when I tucked the duvet under his wobbling chin. I could see the tears forming in the corner of his eyes.

“What if I stay with you and read a story?” I asked. 

He nodded and scooted over in the bed. I got under the covers and read from Thomas the tank until he was sleeping soundly and making little boy snores. Later that night, Tim and his Dad went out for a beer while I sat in with Tim’s Mom, watching A wonderful life. Just after eleven, the sitting room door opened. Sam stood there with huge tears running down his chubby cheeks.

“Santa didn't find us MOM!" he wailed, pointing to the empty space under the tree in the hall.

“Oh Sam,” said Tim’s Mom, taking him up on her lap “It’s not Christmas yet. See the little hand is not at the twelve yet," she said pointing at the clock over the fireplace. Sam rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock, his little brain taking in this new fact.

“You woke up too early, sweetheart," she said, rocking Sam in her arms. "Let me tuck you back in bed for a few more hours. I'm sure Santa is on his way." 

“OK,” he said slowly, and she carried him back to the bedroom. I heard him ask, “Grandma, are you sure he didn't get lost? It's a long way from our house to your house?”

“I’m sure, sweetheart. You know, Santa has been coming to me for nearly seventy years and he never once got lost, even when I was somewhere else on Christmas night.” 

Later, when Tim got home, I told him how upset Sam had been when he found no presents under the tree. Tim looked a little hurt but said it would be fine in the morning.

Once the house grew quiet, and the beds were filled with sleepy people, I heard the branches of the Christmas tree whisper. I knew the floor was now piled high with gaily wrapped toys, the milk would have vanished, and all the apples would have big bites taken out of them. Santa had been. 

In the morning, Sam landed on the bed like an un-exploded cannon ball. 

“MOM! DAD! He came, look,” Sam said, excitedly pushing a huge red truck in my face.

“It’s lovely Sammy,” I said, still feeling groggy, but happy in the haze of his enthusiasm. “We told you Santa was magic.”

“No one's magic, Mom,” he scolded me.

“Well how did he find you so, Mr Smarty Pants?” I teased him, tickling his belly.

“He used the, Find Sam App on his iPhone,” said Sam, between gales of laughter.

“Has Santa got an iPhone?” I asked.

“Mom, EVERYONE has an iPhone!” Sam said, running off to open more of his presents.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Look to thy self.

A list of my pet peeves about OTHER PEOPLE.

When rude people say I am rude.

When people wont listen when I am talking.

When Drunk people talk rubbish to sober people.

When people barge in front of me when I am in a rush.

Angry People make me Angry.

When stupid people cannot make sense of what I am saying.

When lazy people make me do jobs when I am relaxing.


Whoops, they are all me. Sorry.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Monday Joke Time

One day Jim was passing the state psychiatric hospital. There must have been an accident as a section of the wall had been knocked down and was being reconstructed. A timber fence had been put up while the work was going on. From behind the fence came chant of many voices, low like a voodoo spell.

"thirteen, thirteen, thirteen, thirteen...."

Jim was a inquisitive fellow who just had to see what was going on. In the fence was an empty knot hole so he took a peek. As he rested his head against the fence a finger poked him straight in the eyeball.

Jim howled in pain, behind the fence bedlam broke out. Cheering and laughing of hundreds of people. After a bit the noise behind the fence died down. Jim was walking away clutching his eye when chant began again.

"fourteen, fourteen, fourteen, fourteen, ..."