Sally Cronin’s blog Smorgasbord does a wonderful job both as an on line magazine with great contributers and also in promoting Indie Authors. Read how Sally became an Indie Author and take a look at her latest book.
Delighted to share the news of my own new release today. Life’s Rich Tapestry : Woven in Words is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories.
About Life’s Rich Tapestry
Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.
Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.
This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of…
I have not read Phillip Pullman’s trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ but we have been watching the BBC series of His Dark Materials. Animal lovers will be entranced by the variety of pets that follow the characters around – but wait! These are not pets, they are daemons! Every human in Pullman’s world is born with a dæmon – a physical manifestation of that person’s inner self that takes the form of an animal.
Once we have grasped this important fact questions come to mind.
What would my daemon be?
How do people avoid tripping over their daemons?
What would a rugby match be like if the players all came on with their daemons? When characters argue or fight in the story, so do the daemons. Commentators would be very busy in sport if there was a parallel scrum of assorted animals or an eagle daemon grabbed the tennis ball and prevented the opponent’s winning point. As for the Tour de France, can you imagine the chaos as they speed down those winding roads with rabbits, rats and cheetahs getting tangled in the spokes?
Would we take politicians even less seriously if their daemons were monkeys telling them what to say?
Children’s daemons take different forms until they ‘settle’ during adolescence. Lyra the heroine’s daemon seems to be swift and agile, usually a white ferret and small enough to cuddle in bed like a teddy. One chap has a cougar/leopard, another an eagled perched on his shoulder, but most of the adults have small animals. A horse would be handy for transport, but nobody has a giraffe, elephant or rhino – that would be a challenge.
Phillip Pullman did not invent the name; the Ancient Greek daemon referred to a lesser deity or guiding spirit. Nor is he the only one to reinvent the word; a daemon is a computer programme that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user. Have you got daemons lurking in your computer?
I may already have a daemon, our resident robin does follow me round when I’m gardening, like a bluebird in a Disney cartoon.
They first saw the house in late summer, the neat suburban cul-de-sac ‘Little Glades’ may have seemed a cliché, but to Helen and Sam it was their dream home. They did not dwell on the large deposit and huge repayments; Helen pictured pushing a pram, chatting to neighbours and admiring the beautiful front gardens. Sam pictured mowing the long lawn and throwing sticks to a large dog in the park. They both dreamed of peace and quiet after years of renting the cramped flat above an all night shop at a busy junction.
Even with heavy curtains, lights of every colour flashed into their flat; the neon lights of Price Saver below the bedroom window, the endless amber, red, green of the traffic lights. On the other corners the glowing cross of the twenty four hour chemist and the pulsating purple night club sign. Even the tiny kitchen-diner at the back was never dark, security lights glared until dawn. Then there was the noise; sirens, squealing brakes, dogs barking; supplemented at dawn with the arrival of delivery lorries and rubbish trucks.
Autumn came and went, but at last they exchanged contracts, then completed the sale. They planned to spend Christmas alone, enjoying the peace and quiet of their new home – and it would be quiet, the asking price reflected the fact that there was nothing convenient nearby, no bus stop, shops, pubs, schools or railway line.
It was quiet on the morning of December 13th as they drew into ‘Little Glades’ with the small rented van. All day they tidied, arranged, explored, determined not to set foot out of their home until it was time to return the van. The furthest they ventured was down the damp garden and through the little gate into the park. When it started getting dark they were busy in their new kitchen cooking together.
But something was not right.
‘I hope there’s not a fire,’ said Helen ‘I thought I saw a flashing blue light.’
Moving into the hall they saw colours moving on the ceiling, they didn’t need to open the front door to hear
SO HERE IT IS MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY’S HAVING FUN…
When they did open the door they did not recognise ‘Little Glades’ – they had been transported into a dystopian grotto. Neat semi-detached houses transformed into flashing cartoon parodies of their real selves. Monster inflatable snowmen swayed in front gardens, brightly lit sleighs and grotesque reindeer balanced on roofs and a sinister Father Christmas climbed up a lamp post.
An even scarier Father Christmas approached them, a mittened hand extended.
‘Gary, acca Santa, number six. We thought we’d leave you in peace to settle in and now… welcome to Glades Grotto on our opening night. Every night is party night till January the sixth. Every year we raise thousands for charity, visitors from miles around, hope you don’t want to get that van out till morning.’
Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Janet Gogerty... A thriller – At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream.
About the book
In the summer of 2013 Annette Bethany Brown went missing without trace. Her boyfriend Toby Channing was the last person to see her, the only person who knew where she had spent the previous days.
In February 2014 Tobias Elliot Channing, private investigator, was still roaming the country, a camper van detective specialising in missing persons; hoping to discover why so many people go missing. He was visiting every place that had a connection with Anna, there were still no clues to her disappearance.
I started collecting picture post cards when I was eight and still buy them on holiday to send to the oldest and youngest in the family; people like getting mail through their letter box, including Pete who blogs as beetleypete. When he asked if people still sent postcards bloggers started sending them, as you can see on his blog post.
‘If anyone else would like to post one to me, you can read my address easily, and your card will be featured in Part Two. Thanks again to all of you who took the time and trouble to send me a card.’
When we were away in Whitby I bought an extra card and as I sat down to write ( and here’s my confession – I don’t get around to writing postcards till about two weeks after returning ) and saw the piece of paper on which I had written his address lying on the table, it gave me an idea for a dark story. The names and places have been changed to protect the innocent! Thanks to Pete for the idea.
Detective Inspector Greaves stepped through the front door, he needed to go no further to see the body. The scene was bloodless, but any impression that the woman had died of natural causes was cast aside when another step revealed a large syringe stuck in the back of her neck. Why would the killer leave the evidence when it could have been the perfect murder?
‘Where’s the husband?’ Greaves asked the uniformed officer.
‘In the kitchen, doing the washing up Sir.’
‘What! Crime scene, evidence… did you stop and think?’
‘No Sir, he said his wife liked to have everything clean and tidy if they were having visitors.’
Further discussion was pointless, he sent the officer outside to keep a little band of neighbours at bay and stepped carefully round the body to make his way to the kitchen, where a middle aged man was vigorously polishing a glass.
‘She always liked to leave the house tidy when we went out, in case anything happened to us while we were out and the police had to break in and…’
‘Mr… Mr. Stanton isn’t it? I need to ask you a few questions… When you came home was the front door locked?’
‘Yes, everything looked normal until I unlocked the door.’
‘And where were you today?’
‘With the chaps, four of us, been away on a three day golf break, they dropped me off first, drove off before I got inside.’
‘So they can confirm that. Did you call your wife while you were away?’
‘Was that the last time you spoke or had any contact, no emails, whatsapp?’
‘Yes, she was fine, enjoying the peace, no sign… who… it doesn’t make sense…’
For the first time the man showed emotion, but shock could do strange things. When Greaves had sat the man in the police car with two officers he returned alone to gain an impression of the home and the lives of these two people. An ordinary house in a quiet road that had never drawn attention to itself before; nothing could be assumed, but on the face of it this was a bizarre senseless murder.
In the dining room he spotted a piece of paper on the polished table; an address, no phone number or email.
Greaves checked the address book sitting neatly by the house phone and found no entry for a Geoff Jones or anyone in Norfolk.
Back at the police station Mr. Stanton was safely installed in an interview room, alibis checked, background checked. Inspector Greaves started with the only piece of evidence.
‘Who is Geoff Jones?’
‘Never heard of him.’
‘Has your wife got friends or relatives in Norfolk?’
‘No, she’s never even been to Norfolk.’
‘Mrs. Stanton, was she still working or retired?’
‘Retired, or she reckoned she was still working, did stuff on the computer, goodness knows what, I don’t go on the internet, but she was happy dabbling with her writing, left me in peace to watch what I liked on television.’
‘As routine procedure we will seize… er take your wife’s computer, I assume you have no objections?’
‘Well she won’t be needing it will she… oh God, I can’t believe this is happening…’
At that moment a female officer knocked on the door with a cup of tea, though they were supposed to have equality Greaves was glad to leave her to deal sympathetically with the overwrought husband. He had work to do.
Back in the office he handed out tasks to his small team. ‘Check this address and if it’s genuine get onto Norfolk Police and ask them to send someone round.’
In Cowslip Lane Geoff Jones was enjoying the evening news; the doorbell took him and the dog by surprise. On the doorstep stood a young man, trying to edge inside out of the torrential rain. He showed a warrant card.
‘Mr. Geoff Jones?’
‘Yes, that’s me, oh god, has something happened to my wife, no they send uniform for that don’t they?’
‘No, just a routine enquiry. Do you know a Mrs. Rita Stanton of Mulberry Close, Sandbourne, Dorset?’
‘Dorset, I don’t know anyone in Dorset.’
‘Are you, er do you live alone?’
‘No, my wife’s away for a few days at her sister’s.’
‘Might she know Mrs. Stanton or anyone in Dorset?’
‘NO, look what is this about?’
Andy’s first day as a detective constable wasn’t going well so far.
‘We’re making enquiries about a murder I’m afraid. Have you been outside the village in the last two days, work, visiting?’
Andy was gratified to see Geoff Jones look distinctly nervous.
‘No, I’m retired, well a writer actually, blogger; all I’ve been up to is taking Rufus on his two hour walks and doing my blogs.’
‘Can anyone confirm that?’
‘I haven’t seen a soul, no one else has been out in this dreadful wet weather, but what on earth has any of this to do with me?’
The young detective felt suspicion creeping into his bones, who would take a dog out for two hours in the torrential rain? As he tried to edge further into the hallway and avoid the very large dog, he got a glimpse into the front room. On every shelf and available surface were propped picture postcards.
‘You must have a lot of friends Mr. Jones, a lot of friends that go on holiday?’
The next police visit to Geoff’s house was in the morning. This time Andy was accompanied by a search warrant and an inspector from Dorset Police, who had driven up overnight. Fortuitously they met the postman at the door, with a postcard from Dorset. Jones’ computer was taken away, Jones himself was taken away and all the postcards collected up.
In the interview room Geoff Jones protested his innocence, though he hadn’t actually been arrested. ‘Blogging friends, I wrote a post about picture post cards and followers kept sending them.’
Greaves left him to stew for a while and went back to the office to see how enquiries were going and stared at the postcard posted in Sandbourne, Dorset.
Wish you Were Here!
Best Wishes from Rita Stanton ( Scribbletide )
He tried to curb the enthusiasm of the young detective.
‘We may have barged in too quickly, if this poor man is totally innocent we have some explaining to do. The card seems to prove what he told us about his followers. What have you found on the internet?’
‘Jones was telling the truth about the blogging and the post cards, what he didn’t mention was that a while ago he wrote a serialised story about a chap who wanted to commit the perfect murder.’
Are you ready to recycle Christmas? Whether you want to save money or the planet the Xmas season is to be avoided. Our consumption of pastry and plastic increases drastically at this time of year, followed after Christmas by throwing most of it away. Even that which we cannot see, gas and electricity, is used in abundance. This is partly the fault of the earth’s axis in the northern hemisphere; it is winter and the nights are long, we need heat and light, but do we need all our houses lit up like Las Vegas with generators pumping air into giant inflatable snowmen? Bring back Scrooge… Most people complain that their councils haven’t put up enough lights, not too many. Of course it is the colourful lights that make dark winter afternoons more bearable…
Perhaps you can still have fun with a guilt free Christmas. One of the few things Prince Charles and I have in common is that our worries about the environment were laughed at in years gone by… My favourite part of Christmas is unwrapping presents carefully and folding the paper ready for ironing and reuse next year. Now even wrapping paper is bad, shiny and plasticised, we have to use plantain leaves instead.
And what gift is wrapped inside? Our love of cute and fun presents has encouraged the passage of thousands ( I don’t claim the statistics to be accurate ) of container ships full of plastic rubbish. Let’s all make our own presents and decorations or buy them from charity shops and give aunty back the vase you gave her last year which she dumped at the Red Cross shop. Last year we did Secret Santa for the adults, this year we are doing the same except we have to get gifts from charity shops – I’ll let you know in the new year if it’s a disaster!
Last year I crocheted an advent calendar for a little person; I don’t claim to have designed it, I do claim it does not look quite like the picture in the Christmas crochet book I bought at the knitting shop. I made another one this year for his little brother, which looks even less like the illustration. The key point; it is in line with government policy on child obesity, there are no chocolates in the pockets; I cut little pictures out of recycled Christmas cards. My next project is knitted crackers – the sort with a joke inside, not the sort you eat with cheese.
The best decorations are those our ancestors used for Yuletide, totally organic and natural, holly and ivy. If the holly in your garden bears no berries, creep round to your neighbours after dark and surreptitiously snip off some branches. You can also pick up odd branches that have fallen off the trees in the park during windy weather and stick a few sprigs of holly in to make a table decoration.
Whether you knit grandma a scarf with huge needles and chunky wool or create exquisite treasure boxes with your wood turning skills, home made presents show you care – or that you are flat broke. If you are an author you can give friends and family autographed copies of your own books, whether they want one or not. Cyberspouse says at least it’s one way of getting rid of them.
If you don’t fancy DIY gifts there are still environmentally friendly alternatives. Have your children got too many toys? It’s probably a bit late for this Christmas, but start next year stashing away surplus toys; by next Christmas they will have forgotten them and you can rewrap them.
One year we gave the elderly relatives (who were always saying they didn’t need anything ) gifts from World Vision, but they were a little confused. This idea can backfire if the receiver is upset they aren’t getting a real goat to keep, or insulted that you have given them a toilet.
‘…yes, but I’m used to being on my own, with Giles away half the time and I rather like it now they have all left home… I know Tammy won’t be popping in every week when I’m up there. That’s half the point. She won’t come round with the children anyway, while all the work is going on next door, because of their ears and lungs… Yes it is that bad, that’s why I demanded they pay me compensation, enough to be away from home… but it’s not as if I could join Giles in the Antarctic. No of course I can’t afford a luxury cruise; what you call my Victorian Villa is more of a millstone, always has been, like a hungry monster that constantly has to be fed… We WERE thinking of downsizing till Dave and Debs got in first and sold next door for a fortune; no one is going to even look at our house while the foundations are being shaken. Yes Dave and Debs did say they had sold to a nice quiet family, a nice family who for some unearthly reason want to live underground… and a wine cellar and entertainment room… Oh they’ve started again, can you hear that awful thumping, that’s the pile driver. I almost wish the whole place would implode down into the Central Line. Do you think we could claim on their insurance if our house was swallowed by the London Underground? … Northumberland… but not as cold as the Antarctic… I won’t be roughing it, there is an oil tank, just no electricity. I won’t need to charge my phone, because there is no WiFi… Pen and paper, like writers have always used. Long walks, fresh food and making a start on my new novel… Well it was bad timing the car conking out, but that’s part of the adventure, go up on the train to Berwick-upon-Tweed, local bus to this farm and then the farmer take me the rest of the way… Okay, love to Phil, yes I will, if he manages to Facetime tonight, not quite Shackleton, but it’s not easy communicating with a scientist at the South Pole, even if he is my husband.’
I should have started ringing round the rest of the family, but packing was my priority if I was to get to Kings Cross Station in the morning with one manageable rucksack.
Once the bus had dropped me off there was no turning back. I hoped it was the right farm gate I was standing by. I couldn’t even figure out how to open it, but just as I was wondering if the farm was occupied at all, a figure emerged from what I presumed must be the farm house. A voice hailed me, the only clue as to what sex the figure in green overalls might be. But when she strode up to the gate I was surprised to see a young woman with blond curls tied in a bunch and a huge baby bump. Already I was putting her into my novel. She introduced herself as Abby.
After a cup of tea and home made scones, in a farmhouse kitchen straight out of the fifties, it was time to set off before it got dark. This was real life for sure. My home for a month had once been a tenant farmer’s cottage, a tied cottage. The family had done it up to rent out and supplement their income. The land rover was more comfortable than you might expect, even though it did smell of damp dog and cow manure.
So there I was, by the cosy light of an oil lamp, in front of a wood fire. November nights up here were colder, that was to be expected. I have to confess Abby had already laid the fire earlier and got it going for me. She showed me the wood pile, the kindling, the oil tank that fuelled the Aga. Not that I was planning to do much cooking. There was no phone. I would not see anyone till next week when they would pop in with more food supplies. Abby looked rather doubtful when she asked if I would be alright.
I went to bed early. There were plenty of books in the house, how delightful to be Kindle free, but the evening felt long and I was tired after my journey and couldn’t muster the energy to start writing. It was so quiet, I hadn’t reckoned how much I would miss not being able to turn on the radio; still this was a good way get inside my character’s head.
I woke up suddenly, in complete darkness, without any idea where I was. When I came to my senses I fumbled for my torch, but I had lost all sense of direction; the door and the window had disappeared. I felt an overwhelming longing for the intrusive street lights at home. All I could think to do was to feel my way outside, at least there would be moonlight. I stubbed my toes, banged my shins, nearly fell down the uneven wooden stairs. My watch was not luminous, I had no idea of the time without my phone to look at. I tried to picture the stairs in relation to the door. At last I felt the metal latch and heaved it up in panic.
There was no moon. The darkness was so thick you could slice it. The wonderful open fields that had surrounded me earlier had been replaced by dark nothingness and oppressive silence. With Giles this would have been an adventure, with a group of city friends it might have been a laugh. Alone it was turning into my worst nightmare.
For more stories I have four collections on Amazon.
Try Dark and Milk for only $us 1.28 or 99p.
Dip into the selection, what will you find, dark or milk, soft centre or hard, a moment’s pleasure or something to chew on? Stories for your coffee break or dare you read them at bed time?
There are few jobs that women haven’t ventured into this century, even if they are still in the minority, but some of those jobs are ones girls probably didn’t know existed when they were at school.
At this time of year the shorter nights are ideal for enjoying firework displays, but in the dark we have no idea who has made them happen, perhaps vaguely imagining someone going around with a box of matches, but modern fireworks don’t need matches.
I interviewed Kellyanne Buckle who is a lighting technician and pyrotechnics expert.
What part of the country did you grow up in?
Tamworth near Birmingham.
Did you imagine when you were a child you would work with fireworks?
No, I didn’t even like fireworks.
What career ideas did you have at school?
I nearly went to catering college, but I grew up around the theatre and amateur dramatics so I decided to do a BTech in applied theatre technology, lighting and sound stage management. One of our projects was to do a production of Aladdin – we were given only £50, we asked Cadburys for free chocolate. We gave the show for a van company’s annual treat and they loved it.
What was your first job?
I did an HND in media and communication; being a technician at a theatre for eighteen months I learnt a lot more than I had at college. I started doing casual work at Birmingham Symphony Hall and ended up working full time there for eight and a half years. I was the only female out of eleven on the team, but I just blocked out the banter. A couple of the older chaps probably just wanted to be helpful and not let me pick up anything heavy! In my last year I got interested in pyrotechnics.
What is the difference between fireworks and pyrotechnics?
Pyrotechnics are precisely made and always exactly the same so you can use them safely indoors.
What sort of shows did you work on?
Birmingham Town Hall also came under our umbrella so there was great variety. We did shows for Chris Rhea, Billy Connolly and pop bands on the way up or down. Also conferences and corporate dinner dances.
Did you get to meet many stars?
Not really, the sound technicians got more involved, but Jimmy Carr did a show every year and we got to know him. One time he noticed the usual stage manager was not there. When we told him the chap had had a triple bypass operation, Jimmy recorded a get well message for him.
What made you leave Symphony Hall?
The management changed and there was a staff restructure; I didn’t want to be stuck doing admin, it was time to move on and do something different. I had already been doing freelance work with a pyro and firework company; it was October, it didn’t rain, I enjoyed it.
What big outdoor events have you worked on?
On the River Medway, Chatham, Kent in 2017 for the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway. ‘Medway in Flames’ dramatically relived the Battle of Medway when Dutch ships launched a surprise attack on the English naval fleet moored at Chatham Dockyard. I designed the pyrotechnics that went with the video showing on giant screens.
Firework spectaculars for cruise ships leaving Liverpool or Southampton usually involve long hours on barges, though when the three Queens left Liverpool I was up on the roof of Cunard offices.
I have also worked regularly at ‘Beating The Retreat’ on Horseguards’ Parade.
Does your work involve a lot of travelling?
Yes, often far from home, Porthleven in Cornwall to Scotland, but my furthest journey was to Spain to teach a safety course, though I don’t speak Spanish.
What led you to start your own company, Hillcrest Street Productions?
It’s good to be able to take control, working for yourself; as freelancers you can’t pick and choose the work. We are trying to do what no one else is doing, for example offer a display that can be done at a wedding and make the wedding photographs extra special. The happy couple can have a confetti cannon for the first dance or ‘dancing on a cloud’ with low level ‘fog’ or cold sparks for choreographed photos.
How do you make cold sparks?
80% titanium 20% zirconium granules are heated at 500-600c, just enough to glow but not combust. They pass in front of the heater just before they are pushed out of the machine by a fan and are cool again less than a second later. You can put your hands in the sparks.
What was yourfavourite job?
A job I volunteered to do for free! When Westlife announced in 2012 they were splitting up I was invited to Cardiff to help with the pyrotechnics for their Last Ever Show, I certainly didn’t want to miss that. This year I went to their Comeback show in Belfast!
What are the hard parts of your work?
Working long days with a deadline, overnight set ups, working all through the night… Preparation takes a lot of time, then after a display, especially a large one, everything has to be packed away again.
What are the best parts?
Variety, not doing a nine to five job and having days off during the week.
Do you have different interests outside work?
If I had followed a different career path I would have liked it to be music. Two years ago I started learning the piano. I also enjoy ice skating and reading.
What advice would you give to girls still at school who want to do something different?
If you want to do something don’t let others put you off.
Visit Hillcrest Street Production’s Facebook Page here.
What are the pros and cons of going on holiday in November – in the Northern Hemisphere? If you plan to trek to the North Pole there are no pros, you had better wait till summer which won’t be much better… but for elsewhere?
There are not too many people around, you don’t have to queue or worry you won’t find a parking spot.
You won’t have to book accommodation well in advance.
You can take advantage of last minute cheap deals.
You won’t have to book on line well in advance for places of interest.
Packing is easy, just your winter clothes.
You can work up a good appetite with the chilly weather.
You can enjoy sitting in front of a log fire.
There are plenty of hours to enjoy the night sky.
You will not get too hot when going walking or climbing.
It is invigorating walking by the sea or on a hill top.
It’s not the school holidays.
The autumn trees are a beautiful colour.
You can start Christmas shopping.
It’s too quiet, there aren’t many people around.
Your hotel is empty and depressing, the staff bored.
That last minute bargain deal is not a bargain, the hotel was cheap because it’s awful.
The places you were glad you didn’t have to queue up for are closed for the winter.
Lots of places are closed for the winter.
The places that aren’t closed, close early, usually just before you get there.
Packing is hard as you have to fit in gloves, scarves, thick socks, hats and lots of everything in case you get soaked in the rain.
You can’t have picnics.
It’s hard to find somewhere open to eat.
It’s even harder to find somewhere open in the evening to eat.
The days are too short.
If you go walking out in the country you will probably slip in the mud or fall into a fast flowing stream.
If you go to the seaside to photograph winter waves you may be swept away by a freak wave.
Children are at school, you’re surrounded by pensioners on holiday.
He was there again, outside the station, selling the Big Issue. Giles never bought one because he didn’t want one, or at least he didn’t know if he wanted one; you could hardly peruse it then hand it back. On the tube Giles had The Times to read, he subscribed to it on his Kindle. He had also downloaded 563 books, 13 of which he had read. Occasionally he wandered into WH Smith for the pleasure of browsing amongst colourful, glossy magazines: photography, computers, music… perhaps buying…
‘Can I interest you in a half price Galaxy Sir?’
Yes, he would take a treat home for Judith.
‘No thank you.’
‘Have a nice day Sir.’
Why did the Big Issue seller have to be so polite, making him feel more guilty? There was a whole minefield of BI behaviour he had observed over the years, over the cycle of half a dozen sellers. One man regularly bought a copy and dumped it straight in the bin a few yards further on, others proffered a pound or a handful of change without looking the seller in the eye. This morning he observed a woman offering a shiny two pound coin, holding out her hand to receive the magazine.
‘Keep the change.’
‘They cost £2.50 each love’ the homeless one answered curtly.
Flustered, she hurried away clutching the coin.
Giles was glad to get out of the biting east wind, down into the warm depths of the underground, but he wondered where the Big Issue seller lived. Did he really have to sleep out on the streets in this awful weather, or did he slip round the corner and drive home in his Jaguar?
A truly good person would offer a homeless man shelter not just buy a magazine. Giles had spare bedrooms; well not exactly spare, where would Judith put her sewing and what about the computer? Sarah’s bedroom looked much as it had when she left a year ago. A vision passed before him of the homeless one sitting on the pink bed clutching Big Ted.
Over dinner that evening Giles said ‘Do you think we should downsize?’
‘What?’ exclaimed Judith. ‘We’ve only just finished paying the mortgage, we deserve to enjoy this house.’
‘But we don’t need four bedrooms.’
‘What if Simon and Tammy have a baby, we’d need room for them to stay.’
‘As Tammy isn’t pregnant yet and they are going round the world, we could help a homeless person get on their feet.’
‘Are you feeling alright Giles? You couldn’t wait for Simon and Sarah to leave home, now you want to… what are you suggesting?’
‘Imagine sleeping out on a night like this.’
‘There are hostels; besides, we’ve only got one bathroom and we’d have to hide our valuables.’
‘We haven’t got any valuables.’
‘Imagine explaining to the police or the insurance company that we invited a total stranger into our house and he rifled my handbag and your wallet for drug money.’
‘We don’t know that he’s a druggy.’
‘Precisely, we don’t know anything about him, I don’t even know if he’s a real person or hypothetical.’
He was there again the next morning. At least he’s survived the coldest November night for years, mused Giles. How would a stranger fit into one’s home, lodger, son… how old was he? Hard to tell with that woolly hat. If they went out to dinner would they leave something in the oven for him? Judith might take to him if he scrubbed up well; some of Simon’s clothes were still in the wardrobe. What would he do all day while they were both out at work, odd jobs perhaps? If the real man emerged, clean, witty and intelligent, they would be proud. Judith might take a shine to him, too much of a shine, he could become her toy boy, like one of those novels they read at her book club.
The idea came to him at lunch time when he was in the new shoe shop. He found a decent pair of comfortable black leather shoes for work.
‘Two pairs for the price of one sir, opening offer, today only’ said the girl at the till.
‘But I only want one pair, on second thoughts have you got another pair much the same?’
He was there when Giles came out of the station concourse carrying two carrier bags, shoes and WH Smith. Giles almost lost his nerve. He mumbled to the Big Issue seller.
‘You’re on your feet all day, are these any good to you… have a Galaxy as well.’
The man looked suspiciously at Giles, but it was a start, perhaps tomorrow he would start a conversation, find out what the man’s situation really was.
When Giles turned on television for the local news the next morning there was a picture of the underground entrance.
…and in further cold weather news, the body of a man believed to be a Big Issue seller was found early this morning by the locked gates of an underground station. First indications are that the cause of death could be hypothermia, but police are not releasing medical details until a post mortem has been carried out. They are keen to speak to commuters or anyone from the Big Issue Community, unusually the dead man was wearing a brand new pair of good quality leather shoes.
Read tales for all seasons in Hallows and Heretics – take a peek inside the book.
A second anthology from the author of ‘Dark and Milk,’ including recent prize winning short stories. As you would expect, some tales are light, others very dark and you will not know which are which until it is too late! Visit places you may or may not find on a map, discover the Hambourne Chronicles and meet people who may not be what they seem.