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.’
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.
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.
Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs. Do not seek professional advice here either!
The Game of Life continues with no rules; it is over a year since the Game of Life started play on Tidalscribe. Worldwide people continue to be out of the game in war and disasters – natural and man-made; even the blame for natural disasters is now laid at the feet of humans. What happens to individuals in their little lives means nothing in the bigger picture, but the bigger picture is too much for us to take in so we talk about people we know.
A storm, a phone call and an early Christmas card.
We had a big storm recently, not a typhoon, hurricane or flood. Out of all the people in Dorset the roll of the dice went against one older lady, a tree was blown on top of her car.
When my old school friend phoned one evening with ‘sad news’ it wasn’t hard to guess her elderly mother had died, but it had still come as a shock to her because of the circumstances and because she had been her mother’s carer for a very long time.
Just back from our little holiday in Wales, Cyberspouse browsed through the mail and opened a Christmas card. Without actually looking to see who the card was from he started reading the brief type written slip inside describing the peaceful death at home on Good Friday of someone’s husband. From the name I guessed, we only exchanged Christmas cards, but our mothers had been best friends when we were in infant school. Chemotherapy had not worked, but he had time to see family and another grandson born, loved ones take comfort from targets achieved.
How many things can humans have fixed?
How many extra years does modern medicine give you? Cyberspouse met up with a friend he hadn’t seen for a while and was surprised to see him looking so well. Over a period of time he has had his rib cage opened up, heart surgery, cancer, other multiple conditions, plus various parts removed.
‘Eighteen months at the most I was told’
Wellseventeen, it was a month ago they told you that.
Wilko Johnson is an ageing pop star I knew little about, but a few years ago I heard him talking on the radio about being diagnosed with terminal cancer; he just made me laugh, after always suffering from bouts of depression he was feeling really cheerful, his calm acceptance of his imminent demise apparently impressed his friends and fans. He carried on with life without bothering about treatment. After doing farewell tours, circumstances led him to an oncologist who offered to operate with a 15% chance of survival. He survived.
Cyberspouse’s most recent scan showed everything still stable, nothing had changed since his previous scan and six months of no treatment, when we went in to see the oncologist she said ‘Oh, you’re looking well!’. Life carries on as normal; we’ve had trips away most months, north, east and west. There are no magic answers to cancer; if you are feeling okay you may as well get on with life and not waste time searching for ‘key lifestyles’ and new cures ‘overseas’. If a diet of raw vegetables doesn’t appeal to you eat what you like. The Macmillan nurse said at the start of all this, keep moving and feed yourself up, words taken to heart by Cyberspouse. We don’t look things up, but I find Quora quite interesting or amusing when it pops up.
Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, and edited by Internet users, either factually or in the form of opinion.
Cancer is understandably a popular topic and most of the answers sensible. There is no miracle cure that someone somewhere in the world is hiding so they can make money. If there were, the rich and powerful would not succumb like the rest of us. It is not one disease, cancerous cells can pop up anywhere and move round the body to anywhere, cells have their own DNA and this can alter; every patient is different as to how illness and treatment will affect them. Cancer is not a battle to be fought, if it was the young with everything to fight for would not die.
People you don’t see, in laboratories, are busy researching, adding to the multitude of different chemotherapies and other treatments – adding new chance cards to the Game of Life.
Not as sweet as sugar, smoother than chocolate, more luscious than a peach; neither food nor drink. That is how I would describe it. There was no description on the menu; it didn’t appear on the menu at Stopawhile. Ravi told me it was the nectar of the gods when I first tried it.
‘What a perfect description’ I replied, licking my lips in satisfaction.
‘No, it IS the Nectar of the Gods’ he said simply.
You couldn’t order, only wait until it was offered. Ravi was the only member of staff to serve the nectar; come to think of it, there were no other staff.
It was a new café, where the old hairdressers used to be; the shabby blue and white had become warm brown and orange. Inside you could slip into a cosy corner, relax on a leather settee and linger as long as you liked. There were newspapers and exotic magazines, wooden chess sets and marble solitaires. The nectar deserved to be sipped slowly.
This was an ideal place to flop down with my shopping and sneak out my notebook; recharge my batteries before going home to tackle dinner. The nectar, in its delicate pottery bowl, seemed to stimulate creativity. My writing group were impressed with my short story and urged me to send it off to the competition, I won. I began a novel.
Of course I recommended it to other people, suggested friends come with me next time they came round. Somehow no one else happened to go that way.
On Monday afternoon I staggered off the bus with my shopping, cold, tired, with blood sugar level zero; I was looking forward to my visit to Stopawhile. But it had gone; not closed down, disappeared. I thought I must have walked past it and retraced my steps. Bank, charity shop, greengrocers; it should have been next, followed by the bakers. I stepped into the greengrocers feeling bewildered; perhaps they had bought the little café and expanded into it during the weekend.
‘What’s happened to Stopawhile?’ I asked.
I was met by blank stares.
‘You know, the café next door, it was there on Friday.’
‘You mean the one up the road?’
Flustered, I bought a bunch of bananas and stepped carefully outside. On the pavement were the usual stands full of fruit and flowers and next door was the bakers. I stepped inside the tiny shop and tried another tack.
‘Have you moved shop?’
‘Not in the last hundred years.’
‘But what’s happened to Ravi and the café next door?’
More confused expressions. ‘If you’re looking for a café, try the Cosy Teapot up the end of the high street.’
If something can go wrong it will, especially for some of us and you know who you are…
Things didn’t work long before computers came into our homes. The stapler runs out of staples with only one more bundle of papers to go and the new strip of staples will jam as soon as you press down the heel of your hand.
We had a family heirloom hand sewing machine Jones, as supplied to Her Majesty QueenAlexandra. Whether the wife of Edward VII used her sewing machine I have no idea; but ours was old and loyal, blessed with a few simple operations. I turned the handle and the needle sped up and down stitching clothes for my doll; but if the spool ran out or the threads jammed I was instantly infuriated with the machine and my father was the only one who could sort it. When we started sewing lessons at senior school we were confronted with treadles and electric machines. I never mastered the treadle action, let alone the sewing part of the procedure. I would pretend to be busy until an electric machine was available. I have sewn many things since, if my electric machine is running smoothly I can make anything (as long as it doesn’t involve button holes or fancy stitches), but if the fabric puckers or binds itself to the machine I am completely stumped.
If asked to be the first to arrive and open up a meeting place I know for sure the key will not fit, or the door will remain shut tight. Pull, push, jiggle a half turn, but entry will only be gained when other people start to turn up and try for themselves, the door swinging open readily. Things are no better if there is a code to unlock the door. Did you remember the numbers, in the correct order, turn the knob the right way, or rather to the left not the right… the only way to conquer that door is to sneak up on it when it is not looking.
Perhaps I am not the only one for whom thing go wrong. A long queue forms at the one open till with a human; the other assistants are busy trying to direct reluctant shoppers to the scan your own machines or helping them when that robotic voice says Item not recognised, unbagged item…. Computers in various forms are unavoidable.
For a long time I had no reason to be involved with computers, but writing and social media sucked me in to this love hate relationship. Unlike staplers and sewing machines computers are sentient beings; they know when you need to send an urgent e-mail, post your blog or print an important document.
The digital world of scanners and printers was preceded in the work place by photocopiers and before that machines such as The Gestetner. I dreaded being left alone with this mystery of rolling drums, scent of chemicals and ink which printed too faintly or leaked in the wrong places. But it was still mechanical and not totally beyond comprehension.
Computers lull you into a false sense of security, The World at your finger tips, documents easily altered, unlike the bad old days of typewriters. Then things start to go wrong. You log into Facebook, but instead of pictures of your friends and cute kittens there are only blank squares waiting to be filled in while the tiny blue circle goes round and round…. You sign into your e-mail account and see you have sixty messages, but it won’t let you into your In Box. The lay person has no idea if the problem lies with their mouse, their computer, a real rodent gnawing at the Virgin cable, or if the World Wide Web has been switched off by – let’s not blame any particular country.
It’s all magic to us. My response to these first world problems is irrational rage if I’m on my own or to yell for Cyberspouse. He does not believe that the computer bears personal malevolence towards me and remains calm in a crisis, usually solving the problem by clicking on a button I didn’t know existed.
What do you do when things go wrong, or do things always work for you?
‘Is that for next door?’ Eleanor asked the green man who had emerged from the yellow van.
‘No, express delivery for Ms E. Fairfax.’
‘But I haven’t ordered anything, certainly nothing as large as that, is the box heavy?’
‘No, I’ll leave it just inside the front door shall I?’
Eleanor closed the door and rolled the box down the hall until she found the sender’s address.
EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME
RAINBOW WORLD LTD. OF MILTON KEYNES
She was reluctant to open the box; if she had been in one of her black humour thrillers, the box would be sure to explode. But on the other hand, any of her feisty heroines would have no hesitation. Eleanor fetched a sharp knife from the kitchen and ran it along the taped edges. On top of various packages was a rainbow envelope.
To Aunty Ellie Happy Birthday Love Ben
Inside was a gothic card of gold and black.
YOUR PASSPORT TO A NEW EXPERIENCE
One of Ben’s jokes no doubt. She pulled out the largest parcel, inside were folds of white fabric…
Eleanor picked up the phone. ‘Ben? Thanks for the present, maybe I’ll wear it to my book launch.’
No, you have to wear it on your birthday when you go for your EXPERIENCE. I know how much you love those CSI programmes, I guess it will be like one of those murder mystery dinners, but without the food. Should give you inspiration for your next novel.
She put the phone down and decided to read the instructions more carefully.
Saturday morning was bitterly cold, especially at Highcliffe. Eleanor was glad she was half an hour an hour early to warm up with a coffee in the Cliffhanger café. She planned to sneak into the Ladies to put on her forensic suit at the last moment, she looked around at the other customers wondering if any of them were there for the EXPERIENCE.
When she slipped outside she saw a van pulling up, black with gold writing
As two men in forensic suits got out, other white suits emerged sheepishly from parked cars. Eleanor was glad she had worn her thermal underwear, the wind was biting after the steamy warmth of the café.
Without any introduction the van driver addressed the shivering group.
‘Okay, report of a body on the beach, we need to start work before the tide comes in.’
Without further ado he strode towards the edge of the cliff and the footpath sign. Eleanor tried to read the expressions on the faces of her six companions, but straggling in single file, struggling to keep up, she had no idea if they were taking this seriously or if they were all friends of her nephew. But even Ben was unlikely to have arranged a prank on this scale.
Dodging a few boulders, they came to an abrupt halt near the water’s edge.
‘It’s so realistic’ squealed a young woman excitedly.
‘Looks like a scene from one of my books’ said Eleanor.
‘Ooh, are you a crime writer, are you on television?’
‘No, Amazon Kindle.’
A loud clearing of the leader’s throat drew their attention to the others, just as one of the men keeled over backwards. Another pushed past the two women and behind a rock to vomit.
‘Happens every time,’ laughed the leader ‘no one expects it to be a real body.’
Eleanor approached with a writer’s curiosity to see how they had created the scene. It was the smell which hit her first. A real body washed up from the sea was very different from Google research. She almost laughed to herself, Ben had been right, this was a unique opportunity and she tried to quell the rising nausea.
‘Cause of death?’ asked the leader brusquely.
‘No evidence of external injuries, due to the extent of decomposition’ Eleanor replied. ‘A post mortem will be needed to determine if the victim drowned or was already dead before he entered the water.’
‘Good, good’ said the man, as his assistant stepped forward with arms outstretched, bearing a large folded item of black vinyl. ‘Now before we put the body in the bag does anybody have back problems, it’s quite a weight to carry back up the cliff.’
‘Yes, me,’ said Eleanor ‘but shouldn’t we call the police?’
‘Not until we’ve ascertained if a crime has taken place. Now, does everybody have a car, or does anyone want a lift in the van to the morgue?’
‘Where’s the body going?’ asked the young woman.
‘In the van of course. Has everybody got their metal case labelled
Part Two, not to be used by children under sixteen.
‘Which case do you mean?’ a pale man asked.
‘The one containing a scalpel and saw.’
For more dark tales dip into Times and Tides
Twenty five stories starting with a blind date and ending on Xmas Eve, with no clue as to what you might expect in between. In this third collection of short stories are some real places and experiences plus much that could happen or should never happen.
As the clocks go back, as night falls early, do you like to curl up with the television? What are your favourites, reality, soap operas or medical dramas? At Chez Tidalscribe it is subtitle heaven lately; if a programme has subtitles I try and watch it.
Saturday night, BBC4 is now showing the seventh series of Engrenages ( Spiral ), we couldn’t wait to get back to Paris with this gritty police series which has an excellent cast and interweaving story lines.
One Sunday Night and Day in Catalan started over on More4, but it turns out we have to catch the rest of the series On Demand. Not to worry, Sunday evenings on BBC1 brings a moving drama World on Fire, World War Two seen through English, Polish and German eyes.
Monday and Tuesday we are following Dublin Murders, dark and very intriguing. Okay, so it’s in English, not Irish (Gaeilge ) and I believe filmed in Northern Ireland, but it is set in A Nother country…
But come Thursday it’s Giri/Haji set in London and Tokyo, another crime thriller, but done with real style and humour. It is written by an English chap, but has plenty of Japanese scenes and story lines. Darting back and forth across the world and back into the past, you have to concentrate.
What is such fun about sub titles? Seeing different places, nosing into homes and lives that are different. If you only speak one language fluently people speaking other languages sound so clever. I don’t particularly want to see crime dramas, it’s just that they predominate, although Inspector Montalbano on Sicily is a lot sunnier that Scandi Noir. We have watched Icelandic comedy and the brilliant Borgen about a Danish Prime Minister.
One of the most important reasons for voting Remain and wanting to stay in the European Union was surely to make sure we don’t lose our sub titled programmes.
Guess what started last night? The Team over on More4, billed as a punchy multilingual cop show in…. English, German, Flemish, French, Danish and subtitles, what a dream! It started in Danish wetlands and we were just getting involved in the lives of an assortment of people in a remote house, when suddenly they were all murdered. Of course this necessitated the bringing together of the special officers from Germany, Denmark and Belgium who we had been briefly introduced to. And when they all arrived remarkably quickly at the scene of the crime, how did they communicate with each other – in English!
Sub titles – do you love them or hate them? Can you tune in to programmes broadcast from other countries?