Tuesday, 17 May 2022




The body is but a vessel. We don’t choose what we are cast adrift on the sea of life in. It may be a sturdy heart of oak ship or it maybe a catamaran of driftwood barely clinging together. Whatever it is isn’t ours to choose.

Who decides? Some higher power? A divine entity? Or is it science, strong, healthy genes from the top of the pool pulling in sunlight, or weak, useless dregs mingled with silt from the bottom?

Some vessels are masters of the sea and plough on undeterred by its storms for a century or more whilst others flounder in cross currents, struggling, thwarted, but hanging on almost lifeless.

We have no choice but to sail in the vessel we are assigned. Some ride the waves: others are trapped.


Then we have the sea of matrimony. There are knaves and harridans aplenty, how to navigate away from these venomous scoundrels and waspish mares?

Love they call it. Charm they call it, but it’s all veneer.

They lure the unsuspecting heart into their web like a black widow spider stowed away on board the vessel, with sugar coated words and deeds and when the weak foolish will of their victim succumbs it is too late, the fangs unsheath and the poor fool is trapped.


Monday, 6 December 2021

Meet Me at the Pearly Gates


Why had Sabrina suddenly begun to dream about Gordon Challinor? She hadn’t seen him since primary school. They’d been made to sit boy next to girl and they’d been put together. He’d been her first childhood crush aged seven with his bouncy dark hair and mischievous brown eyes. They’d flirted in a childish manner; he’d pinch her ruler and flick paper at her from the end of it and laugh when it hit her in the face. She’d slap him playfully and share his laughter. Kiss chase played in the playground was always a game to be looked forward to. She never ran too fast away from him, knowing he’d catch her up easily with the longed for kiss.

They’d lost touch when they’d gone to secondary school. He’d been cleverer than her and gone to the grammar school; she’d failed the eleven plus exam and gone to the local comprehensive. Their homes were a distance apart which was why they’d never seen each other around. Even during teenage night life their paths hadn’t crossed in discos, she’d almost forgotten him – but not quite. Occasionally he had come into her thoughts throughout life. Was he married? Had they had children? Boys or girls? She’d been blessed with a son and a daughter, now both with families of their own and here she was, widowed and having reached the age of seventy five.

Why was it Gordon not her late husband who was haunting her dreams? She missed Derek, of course she did, but she’d never felt they’d been soul mates. They’d got on well enough but hadn’t shared the same interests or been on the same wavelength. She’d accepted his death two years earlier and had grieved for him but hadn’t felt heartbroken. In fact she’d felt guilty for enjoying her own space. Now it was Gordon’s face that kept appearing to her.

The dreams were vague, hazy. His face was never clear but she knew it was him, even in the dreams where he appeared as a man, as she’d never seen him and could only ever wonder. Sometimes they spoke in the dreams, sometimes not. One in particular stuck in her mind. He'd walked her back to work at lunchtime. She’d leaned up and kissed him.

‘Love you,’ she’d said, then gasped realising that they hadn’t mentioned the ‘L’ word. She’d waffled. ‘Well I don’t. Well I do, kind of, you know what I mean.’

He’d laughed. ‘Yes I know what you mean. Love you too, kind of.’

That had been the snapshot of the dream but the feeling had lingered in her being throughout the next day, suffusing her soul with an apricot glow.

“Where have you come from Gordon Challinor?” she asked the empty room.

The thought nudged at her consciousness to contact her psychic medium, see what she had to say about it.



“Who is Gordon in spirit?” was the first thing Claudia asked.

Sabrina was aghast! She’d told her nothing.

“He was in my class at primary school but lately I’ve been dreaming about him – almost every night.”

“He’s your twin flame, your mirror soul. He’s only recently passed.” She paused as if listening. “He has a message for you. He says meet me at the Pearly Gates.”

If you enjoyed this story perhaps you'd like to take a look at my novels, memoirs and collections on my website.
Thank you for reading.


Saturday, 4 December 2021

A Chance Meeting


The German Christmas market was bustling. Stalls were set out with beautifully decorated gingerbread houses, sugar icicles dripping from their gabled rooftops, gingerbread men accompanying them wearing‘eat me’ smiles. Bregenwurst hung from hooks and illuminated reindeer peeped out among the Christmas trees that resided on the rooves of the colourful, well stocked stalls. The spicy fragrance of mulled wine intermingled with the more pungent smell of coffee and the comforting aroma of hot chocolate with marshmallows coiled in around the stalls tempting everyone with their warming qualities.

Their eyes met across the cheese stall, he with the silver grey tousled look of a gypsy, she sporting tumbling auburn locks with the aid of Nutrisse. She was coy, didn’t want him to catch her looking.

‘Good God woman,’ ran the thought through her head, ‘you’re pushing sixty, you don’t want the angst of an obsession over a man messing with your brain at your age. All that was done and dusted in your teens. Jog on, old fool.’

She continued to browse the stalls looking for little extras to hang on the tree for the grandchildren. She fancied some tasty cheese but she’d wait until he’d moved on. Wandering on she found herself at a stall selling mulled wine.

“I got you a cup, I hope you like it.”

The gypsy type was at her side.

“Er, yes, thank you, but you shouldn’t have.”

“I thought it would be a festive ice breaker. I’m Damien. You are?”

“Oh, like the devil child in The Omen.”

“Not so demonic I hope.”

“No hopefully not. I’m Regina – I blame my mother for that choice.”

Just then the couple behind him began to have a bit of a spat. She pushed her man, he knocked into Damien sending his face smack up against the side of the stall. Mulled wine spilled from the rims of the cups and something flew from his mouth.

“My God you’ve knocked your teeth out!” she exclaimed.

“Not quite as bad as that, it’ my crown, but where’s it gone? Cost me a fortune!”

“It flew towards me,” she said, immediately getting down on her knees to look for it.

He joined her and they scrabbled along the ground until her fingers closed over the tiny pebble like object.

“Here we are.”

“Thank goodness for that. Now I need to put it somewhere safe until I can get to the dentist.”

“I’ve got just the thing.” She rummaged in her bag and extracted a small tin that displayed, ‘Hello Kitty’ with a cat’s smiling face on the lid. “I keep mints in it but you can have it, I’ve got another one at home.”

“Thank you, you’ve saved the day. My, what an introduction.”

“Could have been worse, it could have been your teeth then you’d have had blood dripping down your chin like a vampire and been more at home on Halloween.”

“Certainly would! Anyway, looks like we’d better get some more mulled wine.” He held out his arm indicating for her to lead. “Shall we?”

If you enjoyed this festive tale you might like to have a look at my other creations on my website.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Flying Sparks


It wasn’t the most romantic of meetings. Barbara Cartland wouldn’t have given it house room; but when our eyes met over the Wright’s meat and potato pie I knew he was the man for me.

            Bertram Ollerenshaw. Not the most romantic of names either. No Sebastian Montgomery, or even a Charles Sylvester. Nothing with a refined, sophisticated ring to it; just plain old Bertram Ollerenshaw. It suited him though. A down to earth, hard worker. He worked in the small, family owned pot bank around the corner. I’d never have met him if the cooker in their work’s canteen hadn’t blown up, but there you are. Fate works in mysterious ways. Anyway, we started courting and the rest as they say, is history.                                        

 He was a gentle man, my Bert. Always kind and softly spoken. I don’t think he ever raised his voice in all the years we were married. We were blessed with three lovely children and our life was content; not exciting, content. Many were the times we thanked God for faulty equipment, that dodgy cooker in his work’s canteen.

We were blissfully unaware however, that faulty equipment, as well as bringing about our introduction, would also be our swansong. Lovely man that he was, you’d never have said that Bert was a DIY genius. He’d never have passed Tommy Walsh’s inspection, but he had a go; he always had a go.

If only he hadn’t had a go at the outside light. My fault really. I only mentioned it, but knowing bodge it Bert’s bungling enthusiasm, I should have kept my mouth shut and called the electrician; played it safe. You can’t be too careful with electricity.

All would have gone well if there hadn’t been a power surge just as Bert was about to disconnect the light. I’ll still see the look on his poor face until my dying day. He wore a quizzical ‘What the…?’ kind of look, just for a split second, then he lit up like Postman Pat at Blackpool Illuminations, before crashing off the ladder to the floor.

I did everything I could. The paramedics did everything they could, but it was no use. My poor Bert was fried to a crisp. It seemed ironic somehow to then have him cremated, but that had been his wish. He’d wanted his ashes scattered on our favourite clifftop in Cornwall, where we’d walked in our youth.

So here I am today, doing just that. I raise my hands, tossing the contents of the urn, all that’s left of my poor Bert, onto the feisty sea breeze. There you go Bert. Dance on the breeze my darling, rest on the clifftops. Goodbye my love – until we meet again.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Red Tail Lights


Red Tail Lights

A snapshot


One night was all they had, borrowed time.

Precious time.

A chance meeting at a lunch party.

An evening on the beach.

A picnic.

Champagne and strawberries on a red gingham cloth.

Walking in the water; shallow waves breaking over bare feet.

Tender kisses in the glow of sunset,

The breeze off the sea lifting their hair.

The summer night casting its magic spell.

He couldn’t stay; work would take him to a far off land.

One night was all they had.

Those footsteps would never be walked again.

He took her home.

One last kiss.

The last she saw of him were the red tail lights of his car receding into the darkness of the lane.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Oh What a Night

 A story for Halloween

Tuesday October 31st

            What a night it’s been. The good, the bad and the definitely not ugly. I hadn’t wanted to go on the errand for Mum but she’d insisted. I’d sulked and tutted but to no avail, it had been a futile protest.

            “Go and see Old Mrs Hibbert,” I’d been instructed, “and take her this jar of blackberry jam I’ve made. She likes a bit of blackberry jam, especially if it’s home made, and stay a while; she gets lonely on her own.”

            I hadn’t gone with a good grace, and I’d had no intention of staying a while. Old Mrs Hibbert gave me the creeps, as did her house. I was sure it was full of ghosts. Everyone knew she was a medium and I could never understand my mother sending me there. Didn’t she care whether or not I was possessed by some spirit bent on controlling my immortal soul?

Lonely she’d said! With all those bloody spirits to keep her company? I don’t think so. Besides, there were other places I wanted to be. My mates were all going trick or treating tonight and I’d particularly wanted to go because Ben Jeffries had said he might be there, but I’d ended up going to Old Mrs bloody Hibbert’s instead.

Her front door had creaked eerily as it always did when she opened it, and I’d shivered involuntarily as the darkness beyond loomed, eager to swallow me up.

“Come on in my ducky.”

Such welcoming words, yet I’d felt as I always did, as though being lured – spiders and flies came to mind. My reluctant feet took me into her parlour. Unseen eyes watched me walk behind her, fighting the urge to look over my shoulder at the ever receding front door and freedom.

“Sit down ducky, I’ll get you a slice of apple pie. It’s so nice of you to come and visit an old lady when I’m sure you’ve got friends to go out with.”

Right there! Such a sweet old lady, if you could ignore the underlying feeling of her not being quite alone. I always felt as though I were talking to an audience of many rather than just the one when I spoke to her.

“What did you say dear?”

I hadn’t uttered a word. It must have been one of the multitude of voices in her head.


“Oh I thought you’d said you were going to have a good night tonight.”

I wish! It must have been some mischievous poltergeist taking advantage of the date and heading out on the rampage.

Fingers of unease had tickled their way up my spine at that point, and I’d had to consciously force my bum to remain on the seat once my fight or flight reflex had kicked in big time. The apple pie had arrived, accompanied by a glass of juice; both of which struggled to pass my throat due to the jangling nerves fluttering somewhere around there.

I noticed that no-one knocked on Old Mrs Hibbert’s door saying trick or treat; probably too afraid of one of her invisible companions performing some supernatural trick on them!

I asked the polite questions my mother would have wanted me to ask: ‘How are you? Do you want anything getting? Are you keeping warm enough?’ then made what I hoped wasn’t too fast an exit.

It had felt so good to escape into the chill October night. My nerves were still twitching but I remember noticing how clear the sky was and how many stars were out when, WHAM!

A vampire leapt out at me from a garden path and my nerves, which were as taut as violin strings, could take no more. I leapt in the air with a shriek, only to be swallowed up by his flowing cloak.

My eyes were fixed on the glowing fangs with the rivers of blood running down the chin from them, but the eyes that fixed on me were filled with mirth, as Ben Jeffries’ plastic teeth fell out when they connected with my neck. Instead of slowing down when I realised who Dracula was, my heart rate accelerated even more, and the bones in my legs became pulp. From that moment on the evening took an upward turn. Wrapped in Ben’s cloak, with him still in it you understand, I was euphoric. Tomorrow night we’re going to the cinema. Can’t wait.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Not Reported Missing

A short taster from Not Reported Missing.

The pathologist’s table was clinically clean and the ghost watched dispassionately as she began her work. She spoke into a microphone.
“Male, approximately sixty years old, well nourished. Scars to chest and leg denoting a heart bypass operation at some time.”
He was unmoved as she sliced open his torso with her scalpel and began to remove his internal organs. One by one they were thoroughly examined, all of those vital components of his body that had kept him alive for so many years but what he had no need of now.
“Stomach contents, some vegetable matter, some alcohol but doesn’t seem to be excessive.”
Alcohol. Yes he’d been drinking. Why? He’d been alone, always alone. He had a daughter he remembered but it was so long since he’d seen her.
Well nourished was he? He must have fed himself then. What had he eaten? What had been his last meal? Would he have known it was his last meal? Why couldn’t he remember? Had he been suffering from dementia in life? If only he could remember his name. A thread of a memory about the bypass operation penetrated but didn’t take root.
The pathologist continued her work, taking blood samples for toxicology. Another ribbon of memory weaved out. He’d enjoyed watching those programmes on TV, Autopsy, where causes of death were investigated. Perhaps that was why his spirit was lingering now, or was it because it couldn’t rest until he knew who he was?
Why had no-one come to meet him? He’d always thought that when your spirit passed over that a loved one was waiting for you in a white light but there was nothing. He’d experienced none of that, his spirit was earthbound for some reason unknown to him and he hoped he wasn’t going to remain in this kind of limbo state. He felt it all hinged on finding out who he was. Once he knew that maybe he’d be able to move on.
The pathologist had done what she had to and his body with its anonymous tag on his toe was wheeled back to the storage cabinet. Strange how it was shut in there yet he felt nothing. He was just floating free around the room and wherever he liked.
Theo Stanyer was in the police station in the town of Hartford, the closest town to the village of Willow’s Dip, waiting to make a statement. He’d seen the news item on the previous evening’s programme about the body discovered on the common and thought he might have something worth reporting.
“We are appealing for anyone with any information that might be relevant within the last week to come forward,” said Detective Inspector Wilson, a broad, grey haired man. “All that was found on the body was a wallet containing a few pounds, a key and a photograph. It doesn’t appear that robbery was a motive and at this time we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the death. No-one of this description has been reported missing and if anyone has any information that will help identify the people in the photograph we would urge them to come forward. Thank you.”
A photograph of a smiling dark haired young woman with a child was shown on the screen. It was difficult to tell if the child was a boy or a girl. It had its mother’s dark hair, shoulder length, and was wearing blue dungarees and a white T shirt. It looked to be about four years old. The photograph looked old, Theo estimated around 1980s but he couldn’t have been sure. The same photograph also came round in the local newspaper’s Facebook post when he checked later and also that of the police. Surely someone would know who these people were from that?
“Mr Stanyer?” A young policewoman called his name and he followed her through to an office where D.I Wilson rose from behind a desk to shake his hand.
“You have something you think might help us?”
“Well I don’t know,” Theo replied, “but I thought I’d better come in and tell you in case it did.”
“Take a seat.”
Theo sat opposite the desk to him and began his story. “It was Thursday last week. I was driving home from my girlfriend’s house and I noticed a man in the headlights weaving all over the road as if he was drunk.”
“Where was this?”
“Mill Lane, Willow’s Dip. Heading towards the common.”
“What time?”
“It would have been between 10.30 and 11 p.m.”
“Did you stop?”
“No. You never know who you’re dealing with. If someone’s drunk or drugged they’re unpredictable or aggressive and I didn’t want to get involved. I just gave him a wide berth to avoid hitting him. I just wanted to get home.”
“Could you describe him?”
“It was difficult in the dark and it was drizzling, the wipers were on and the windscreen was spattered with raindrops but dark clothing, hard to see, nothing reflective, all I saw was a flash of grey hair.”
“Anything else?”
“Not that I can think.”
“I’ll just take your details in case we need to contact you.”
Theo gave his address and phone number. D.I Wilson looked at it quizzically. “Your address is Handwell.”
“Yes that’s right.”
“Mill Lane is the opposite direction. Why were you driving that way?”