Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Scooter - A Short Story written on New Year's Day

It’s nearly New Year’s and I’m laying in this road and my leg is really, like, fucking hurting and it’s his fault, my Dad’s. He’s feckless, that social worker said so. Mum’s a bitch, social worker didn’t say that, I did. My feckless Dad’s not fuckless, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here, would I? I wouldn’t be laying on this cold road, listening to Stacey screaming.

I wanted a scooter for Christmas. I mean I knew I’d never get one, they cost thousands and anyway I’m too young, can’t even get a licence, but Mum asked, so I just said, I want a scooter.

Scooter like those cool guys have, in them 1960’s photos, guys with smart jackets and properly made trousers. They’d go around, two of them on each scooter with the white thing on the front by the wheel to keep their trousers, clean and all I can get is cheap jeans. I got my hair like that Steve Marriott, only I can’t grow the sideburns, obviously, cos I’m a girl.

There’s this stupid old woman talking to me, she thinks I’m a boy.  So I says I’m a girl, obviously and she says, ‘I do beg your pardon.’ Like how old is that?! I’d laugh if I wasn’t hurting too much.

Stacey’s stopped screaming…

‘Stace, are you all right..?’

‘She’s all right,’ a man says, ‘we’re moving her off the road.’ 

I can’t see them, it’s dark and there’s a square light shining in my eyes, using their phone for a torch. Where’s my phone…? Mum gave me that, I mean it’s only her old one but it’s good enough for a bit. Better than when I hadn’t got a phone and I couldn’t talk to Stace.

‘What’s your name, love?’ It’s the stupid old woman again and it’s another problem. I mean, if I tell them Ayiishah they’ll write it down wrong. I should have been beautiful Ayisha, obviously, but stupid bitch Mum can’t spell, so I’m Esher. It’s a stupid town up near London, I never been. And  when I googled wrong, this this castle with people walking up square stairs that just goes on and on and never ending. The men going up can never stop going up, and the ones going down can never stop going down and they can’t do anything else, stuck on the same stairs forever. Scares me so much…

‘Esher we’re going to have to move you..’

No, please don’t touch me… no… ooowwww….

‘Sorry sweetheart, you’re safe by the wall now, lean back… ‘

‘Cars come very fast down the hill in the dark,’ the woman explains,  ‘You’re safer now,’

‘I’m all right,’ I say. ‘just my leg… need a ambulance.. for Stacey.’

‘Yes, we’re just talking to the emergency services…’

‘My foot hurts..’ that’s Stacey! She’s not dead! ‘And my arm hurts and my side hurts and…’

‘No no no..! She’s hurt so badly and I can’t get to her..!’

‘Esher listen, Stacey is breathing, she’s sitting up and talking to us, she’s going to be ok. It’s you I’m a bit worried about.’ The woman is putting a sort of cushion thing under my left leg that I can’t move. ‘Try to relax your leg onto that,’ she says but I can’t so scared to move it but it goes down slightly and  the hurting gets a bit less.

‘Esher,’ she says, ‘I’m Sarah and I’m going to my house, it’s just over there. I’ll bring a blanket to keep you warm. Only a moment then I will be with you until the ambulance comes. You’re going to be ok.’

Be feckless Dad’s fault if I’m not ok.  He got it off Ebay, sent it to Mum, and I’m not even there at Christmas, I’m in the home again, because bitch says I’m impossible. Just, she won’t understand. It started at school, she shouted at this teacher, Miss Darley, called her a fat dyke. I mean she is, but you can’t say that, obviously, not to a teacher. I couldn’t go in school after that, they’d all pick on me again, push me down in a corner and call me dirty lesbo.

So I wandered round town with Stace. She’s allowed to not be in school. She’s so funny, keeps me happy and she’s big, with lovely breasts and soft lips. If that man’s made her hurt, like scarred…

And it hurts again and so cold… the Sarah woman is holding my hand and I’m shaking and Stacey’s just laughing…

It was so fun, we laughed so much, so funny and scary and ex… excellent, coming down the hill on the scooter together. Not the sort of scooter I wanted, not even electric, just like a kids one. Only me and Stacey, we’re not kids, she’s sixteen. I’m not yet, but I’m tall like a boy. And on the scooter I hugs up close behind her and we shout WheeeeeeeeEEEEEEEE coming down the hill. And it’s so cool we walk up to the top and come down again and again. Four goes and it’s amazing…! But then it’s getting dark and we’re on go number five and I don’t know what we hit…

Hurts, I’m shaking and it hurts more… can’t stop...

Flashing light…   ‘This one’s in a lot of pain…’

‘Ambulance is here Esher,’ Sarah’s squeezing my hand, she’s so warm.. ‘In just a minute you’ll be fine.’

Stace says, ‘Happy New Year, Esher.’

And she’s still laughing, she’ll be fine.


Saturday, 5 March 2022

Daggerspell - by Katherine Kerr

Clearing a bookshelf and I nearly got rid of eight Katherine Kerr novels. There are a huge number of newer fantasy stories around these days and I wasn't sure I'd want to read them again.

But I re-read this first one in three days, not bad considering it's 528 pages. That's one of my gripes with fantasy novels, many are so damn long, I suppose because writers have to create a world, then inhabit it and create the mythology alongside the rest as well as considering the plot! Just setting a story in a familiar place with familiar attitudes, say London, is considerably easier.

Katherine Kerr does creates her world pretty well in Daggerspell, setting up for the whole stream of her Deverry novels to follow. Her world is Celtic, appears to be based on Welsh places, weather and language.

Nevyn the sorcerer is the foremost character, followed by Cullyn, a wandering swordsman, his daughter Jill and Prince Rhodry. These four are linked through the generations by their Wyrd - fate. The plot is complicated, inevitably. So far so fantastic, literally.

I've begun reading the second book in the series, I may finish it. Will I get through all eight? That's a different kettle of wizards. 

Friday, 25 February 2022

Empleomania - Word of the Day, Decade or ?

Taken from Susi Dent's Word of the Day -


the desire to hold office or wield power, whatever the cost.

I shall say nothing else about the unfortunate Russians' overlord.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

The Incoming Tide

 My mother wrote this poem in 1982, about two years before she divorced my father.  She had been reading Christina Rosetti. I'm not saying it's the greatest poem ever, but it was hers.

The Incoming Tide          by Pam Wilson      3.3.1982

The waves kiss the shore and hold it close

As I would thee, forever more

My world in a shell

Can be held in thy hand

As I stand beside thee, on the sand

Thine eyes are like stars

That shine on the sea

Bringing thee ever closer to me.

The moon in her glory

hangs in the sky

beckoning me down

I know not why

I bare my body and soul for thee.


My arms ache, my senses fail

My body yearns and in my ears

The sound of thy breathing, gears

My responses, more and yet more

Until the stars burs on this moonlit shore

And we come at last to rest in peace

Entwined in a love which will never cease.

Where Crows Would Die - by Mary Griese


Sue Gilbert's Reviews > Where Crows Would Die

Where Crows Would Die by Mary Griese

's review
 ·  edit

really liked it
bookshelves: mysterynovels

Described as 'Welsh noir', this novel has similarities to Wuthering Heights, if that was set in the 1950's-60's and in a remote sheep farming community in the Welsh hills. The Heathcliffe alter-ego, named Morgan, is a troubled and dangerous soul, however the story differs. Unlike in the Bronte novel, the woman he obsesses over is Bethan, a strong and independent minded young woman who has no intention of falling for him.
The author is a painter, her love of art spills into the novel and not just because Bethan's father is an artist and her mother's cousin runs a gallery. The wonderful descriptions of the Welsh landscape are bleak, dramatic and painterly. She also knows a lot about sheep and her unsentimental use of her farming knowledge keeps the tale grounded.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it's very readable and I enjoyed it once I got into it. This is Mary Griese's first novel, I hope she writes another.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Moab is my Washpot. By Stephen Fry. my review

Stephen Fry is funny and rude, clever and incredibly knowledgeable. I know who he is, of course I do.  He’s entertained me on the telly for three decades, but did I want to read his autobiography?  Not especially, I don’t really read biographies except of the artists I’m researching.

However when I saw this salmon pink paperback on a bookseller’s shelf, I bought it for the cover.  I might well have bought it even if I was quite unfamiliar with Stephen Fry and despite the obscure title. Who is Moab, why does he/she/they matter? And what in heaven or hell is a Washpot? Yes I guessed the reference was from the Old Testament, but I had no intention of re-reading that tome to find it.

My main reason for the purchase was because the cover was largely filled with the monstrous, wise, preposterously ugly but somehow charming visage of a bull elephant seal, with a proportionately tiny blackbird staring up his bulbous nose. An elephant seal, Lain name Mirounga angustirostris - there's s my one bit of erudition. As a child I had seen one, in Berlin Zoo, as far as I know from this book Mr Fry never visited Berlin in his childhood. So why an elephant seal? Just why?

The autobiography encompasses the first 20 years of Fry’s life and no elephant seals are involved. It’s an intense, highly personal, self-deprecating book.  He writes an eruditely meandering – or maybe I mean meanderingly erudite – and excruciatingly honest story.

He presents us with his family, who he basically loves but, especially as a teenager, refuses to get on with and who love him but find him often hard to comprehend.  We see him in middle-class boarding schools, and how he coped with school life, not always well or honestly, but mostly he coped, by managing to withdraw from the system and outwit authority. And we see his love life as his sexuality begins to emerge. 

I did enjoy Stephen's book, it’s poignant, funny and engrossing, although I skimmed here and there, mostly through the meanderingly erudite sections, I don’t have the advantage of his classical education, I wonder if it is an advantage? The Washpot he mentions  in the afterword, as a metaphorical container for his dirty linen, and I believe Moab was a sinner. But the vast elephant seal, I still have no idea because it looks nothing like him!

Will I read the book again? I might, but probably only after I’ve read what comes in the next volume.  


Thursday, 21 October 2021

What Do You Know?

 What Do You Know?                     By Susan Gilbert

Lanky Larry crawled up a blade of green grass for the first time and into the sunshine, it was dazzling and he knew he must leap into the air, flapping the strange things that had just sprouted from his back. They were called wings but Lanky Larry didn’t know that. He didn’t know much as he had a very small brain and anyway had spent all his life living underground eating grass roots.

Of course Lanky Larry was a crane fly, some people call them Daddy Long Legs, but Lanky Larry didn’t know that either. He no longer thought about grass roots. Now he could fly he knew just two things, one was that flying seemed tricky, he kept bumping into things.  The other thing Lanky Larry knew was that he absolutely had to meet Lanky Lucy, or Lanky Linda or even, if he was lucky, Lanky Leonora.

Most people know at least two things about crane flies, one is that they bump into everything – lights, windows, people, all the time. The other is that they can live very happily blundering into stuff, even if they have lost a leg, or two, or even three. What most people don’t know about crane flies is that they are all called Lanky.

Another thing Lanky Larry probably needed to know, but didn’t know because he had an extremely small brain, was how to recognise the enemy.

Ruby Robin was the enemy, and as Larry bashed into the branch of the apple tree where Ruby Robin had just landed, Ruby knew Lanky Larry would be tasty and she grabbed his middle-left leg. Larry still only knew that he had to meet Lucy, or Linda or even Leonora, so he kept flying but he didn’t get far because Ruby Robin was sitting on the branch holding onto his middle-left leg.

Something that Ruby Robin didn’t know was that Tabitha Tabby Cat was lurking on another branch, just above her.  Tabitha knew that Ruby Robin would be tasty, she pounced but she missed and fell to the grass as Ruby Robin shot off like a rocket, towing Lanky Larry with her.

Lanky Larry was still flapping his wings, trying to fly and he was still only thinking about Lucy, or Linda or even Leonora. Ruby Robin landed on a smaller twig, higher up in the apple tree, preparing to eat Larry. But at that precise moment, Lanky Larry’s beady eyes spotted Lanky Leonora on the buddleia bush.

He knew it was Lanky Leonora, she was supping nectar so delicately, and she was looking at him with her beautiful beady eyes. Lanky Larry’s wings put in an extra burst of effort to get to her, and that was when his leg fell off.