Friends

30 March 2011

Talented Bloggers Part I

This post is dedicated to our blogging friend Crystal Jigsaw who wrote a book under her real name Kathryn Brown. I’m looking forward to reading it. I was the lucky winner of one of her books, a delightful story about the Adventures at Aaron Loch Farm so I know she is a good storyteller. Kathryn’s new book is slightly different, it’s a paranormal romance novel called Discovery at Rosehill and is already attracting keen readers.


"Finding your dream home is difficult enough, but what if you found it and then discovered it was haunted? Medium Camilla Armstrong is led to the beautiful Rosehill country estate after communication with her deceased grandmother. On first inspection she senses tranquility within the house; the gentle atmosphere of a Georgian manor that is crying out for new life. But when she moves in, Camilla discovers the house contains a dark secret, one which is to change her life forever.

When The Reverend Marcus Calloway introduces himself to her, a friendship develops and Camilla realises she could at last have found her true love. But all is not what it seems when further spirit contact confirms that Marcus harbours a guilty secret. Spirit communication, manifestations and an eerie atmosphere all add to Camilla’s new surroundings as she tries hard to decipher mixed messages and a life she never knew existed. An open mind is all she asks for as her relationship with Marcus grows and the secrets of Rosehill are discovered with help from her relatives of a world beyond our own.

Discovery at Rosehill is the story of a medium, her life connected to the spirit world and her encounter with a village Reverend."

Intriguing or what?


Please note that profit made from sales during April will be donated to the National Autistic Society.

26 March 2011

From Man to Dame

I had the pleasure of seeing this performance again and remembered that I had blogged about it on the first occasion. So, while I’m still laughing at the star turn I thought I’d post it again so you can all have a giggle … with apologies to any bloggers who read it before.

From Man to Dame

What a pantomime the day was, or rather the afternoon. Being an invited guest and Federation representative at a WI event I was obliged to talk about the future of the WI as it approached its centenary year. The prospect was so daunting I had spent a couple of weeks preparing for it by nightly listening to my recorded word. Imagine my pleasure, therefore, when I found myself adlibbing like a practised speechmaker all because of the prevailing atmosphere in the hall.

My performance was followed by a different kind when the audience was given an insight into the world of theatre … in the form of pantomime dame. Entering from stage right (got the lingo, you see) a rather serious man in business clothes sauntered to where his props and outfits were laid out and proceeded to undress.


You can imagine the rapturous cries emanating from the mouths of ladies in their twilight years. But the guy had come prepared for beneath his pinstripes he wore garish bloomers and vest and a pair of multi-coloured striped socks. Heehee that was tough on the ladies.

There followed a demonstration on how to apply stage make-up, many tips being offered on the application of eye colour and how best to apply lipstick.


All the time our ‘dame’ kept up a humorous dialogue, frequently aiming hilarious comments to the ladies in the front row. At the end of this routine came the dressing which, of course, required help from the audience. Brightly coloured dresses, hats, wigs, and outrageous earrings were tried on and with each outfit came more patter aimed at selected members of the audience. Most of us wept tears as we laughed. ‘Oh yes you are, Oh no you’re not’ was practised to perfection, and ‘It’s behind you’ went with a swing. There was a singing contest, us against them, the volume increasing with each note that left most of us hoarse.
What fun it was to be transported to childhood in such a pleasant way ... who said us oldies couldn’t have fun?

20 March 2011

LIVING DRAMA (repeat)

I dated your son for five years, five years and one month to be exact.’Kay Bennett looked up from her laptop and wondered if she should continue with her plan; it had taken long enough to type even one sentence.

Feeling despondent she clicked Save and leaned back to think what to say next. She could hardly say she and Roger had met up a tree or that she was playing Jane to his Tarzan. It was the truth but no-one would believe it.

Although the windows were gaping the room seemed airless. Kay jerked open the neck of her blouse and prayed for cooler weather. Roger had written a poem about her room but it was totally untrue. He made it sound glamorous instead of being littered with magazines and generally untidy. Every day she vowed to clear everything away before he came but there were usually remnants of the last meal on show, dishes unwashed, the kitchen table a dumping place for jars of Marmite or Marmalade, depending on what time he arrived. Yes, the poem was totally misleading but as Roger said, an estate agent would appreciate it if they decided to set up home together. Kay knew he would sulk if she told him she could never sell the house. It was her parents’ home; her mother would turn in her grave if she thought her cottage was being abandoned.

Of course, Roger’s mother knew about his poet’s mind and unique sense of humour. But she couldn’t know how they teased and taunted each other, each trying to outdo the other with wit and poetic lines. His penchant for rhyme gave him top dog status, at least in Kay’s eyes. He won the game with poetry and won her heart in the process.

Kay looked aimlessly around the room. The outfit she was to wear that night was hanging on the door; an inappropriate dress for her figure but she’d managed to squeeze into it at rehearsal. It would be her first solo role, the part of a shop girl.

If she hadn’t joined the drama group she and Roger would never have met. The room was filled with mementos of different plays. Hanging on the wall by the fireplace was a framed bill board announcing a performance of Blythe Spirit in which Kay and Roger had tiny roles, their first time in a new partnership. They had been teamed together from the start. She was Cinderella to his Prince Charming, Juliet to his Romeo. They were so right together, a perfect alliance. The prompt jokingly complained there was nothing to do when she and Roger were on stage.

Roger said he had fallen in love with her during a performance of Love Story. He had leaned across her sick bed and quietly declared that he had never seen anyone so beautiful. He said it with such feeling, his voice trembling with emotion that Kay couldn’t be certain if he was still playing a part or if he really meant it. He assured her afterwards he meant every word.
And now, feeling the agony of parting, she knew she’d been nothing more than a gullible fool.

Kay wanted to tell his mother that it was entirely her fault. Her continual denigration had sent him in search of a dream; one they’d enjoyed together for five years and one month. Kay could tell her it was selfishness that made her attack her son’s activities. She knew she would never lose him but she couldn’t resist aiming blows at his self-esteem. He was a devoted son so Kay could only put it down to insecurity on his mother’s part. She would have felt even more insecure if she’d known what was going on.

Needing air, Kay left her desk and pushed the window further out. Birds were swapping places at the feeding station, blue tits, a robin, and a swanky woodpigeon trying to edge his way in. The garden had sprung into life. She gazed at the marigolds lining the edge of the small, tidy lawn, took in the new rose on a bush she’d once thought was dying. Did beauty ever really die, she wondered? Leaving the window open, she turned back to the room.

There was a pile of photographs on the coffee table. She was going to sort them out the night before but her heart wasn’t in it. Memories got in the way of the healing process but it had to be done. The decision had to be made whether to keep them or … or what? Roger certainly wouldn’t want them and, if he did, his meddling mother would only throw them away.

Squatting on a rattan stool, pushing an empty coffee cup to one side, she selected a picture of herself with Roger and Roger’s dog. They walked Bessie in the park three evenings a week. The animal was never happier than when she ran wild around the trees and chased daring rabbits until she flopped exhausted at Roger’s feet. Perhaps she should keep that one; the dog hadn’t done her any harm.

The gifts Roger gave her were heaped in piles. DVDs, romantic films they both cried over, books, birthday cards she’d held close to her heart, the purple fur mules, silk scarf, and a gold chain bracelet. And of course, the photographs!

Selecting a more recent snapshot Kay gazed at the countenance of the man she had adored for five years and one month. And still did, even though he had now vacated her life. He looked so handsome in his business suit, the one taken in a hotel room, looking slightly ill at ease because of his preference for more casual clothes. The less the better in her view since his body was that of a sun worshipper, lean and bronzed, with no sign of an ageing flab.

There was nothing they didn’t know about each other, no area left unexplored. Likes, dislikes, concerns and worries were shared, support given when business matters needed careful thought, praise when things went right.

Holidays were zealously planned until the time came, when enthusiasm quickly turned to reluctance as they went their separate ways. Roger with Mother and Kay with a friend. Wardrobes were examined, items discarded if they no longer fit the tune of their lives. He helped with the shopping; wanting to choose the colour and style of her outfits, examining his choice in the long fitting-room mirror. Kay smiled at the memory and the insaneness of it all, but the smile faded when she remembered her impulsive suggestion that he let his mother go away on her own while he came away with her.

Fingering one of the CDs, Kay silently reminisced. Their love of music was a shared experience, quickly realised when Roger turned up at her door armed with CDs from his own collection. Every one already on her list of favourites. Kay remembered the first one they played together, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers … Islands in the Stream. It was claimed as their song and they rocked in unison whenever the CD was played.

Suddenly compelled to hear her favourite, Kay reached for another disc and took it to the record player, leaning against the wall as the music tumbled into her mind: Somewhere Out There. She remembered the tingling that crept over her as they listened, hand in hand, sitting close on the green rug in front of the fire. It was Kay’s first sign that she was truly in love. Listening to it now was pure torture. Impulsively stopping the music she hurried across the room, back to the computer, cursing when she saw it had gone into hibernation. Quickly pressing the button, she brought it bring it back to life, began to type.

Angry words bristled around her brain as her fingers raced over the keyboard. “YOU NEVER KNEW THE HALF OF IT,’ she wrote. ‘YOU NEVER KNEW IT WAS ME HE TURNED TO WHEN YOU HARASSED HIM ABOUT HIS WORK.’ She paused to wipe a single tear sliding down her cheeks; then sat, elbows on the desk, hands covering her face, giving way to grief.

There were bad times. Roger’s important job gave him headaches and he could have done without the continual hassle. He frequently had to juggle the amount of time he had to give to his work with the demands of life with Mother. He was in a real dilemma when things went wrong at home. Sometimes he couldn’t think straight. He often said his head was in turmoil and he didn’t know which way to turn. Kay had the not unpleasant task of soothing away his troubles. She was good at that. She always seemed to know the right words to use.

Kay was appalled at the amount of chores he was expected to do, the sort of chores best done by women – laundry, ironing, and other general household tasks. Having to juggle a responsible job and maintain the domestic arrangements wasn’t fair. It was fine for women, they had supreme organising talents.

So what was wrong with the woman who bore him? She wasn’t infirm and her work, whatever that was, only took up a few hours a week. Kay had to bite her tongue when he talked about it, reminding herself that she was the pacifier. It wouldn’t have been any use nagging and telling him to act like a man instead of a mouse. Though she had to admit it had crossed her mind. In her darkest moments it occurred to her that she was the sop he needed rather than the woman he desired above all else. Kay dabbed her eyes with a tissue to stop more tears spilling out.

It was a long time before they got round to sex. In the beginning it was just talk. Kay had been reluctant to give herself to a man before marriage so they contented themselves with teasing, cheeky innuendos. Some merely made her laugh; some made her want to pursue the margins of temptation. They agreed that she shouldn’t go where she felt uncomfortable. Photographs changed her ideas. Seeing him undressed, his manhood rearing, she soon wanted the real thing.

They began to experiment, to see how long they could last before their bodies exploded with desire. At those times Roger said he couldn’t live without her. Certainly Kay felt she couldn’t live without him. Only now did she recognise that Roger was a mother’s boy. Only now did she realise how much her life would be ruined if they married.

But nothing lasts forever. At his home the domestic row that had been brewing for weeks finally erupted. The situation was serious. Kay never heard the full story and never will. Roger abruptly pulled the plug. All Kay had now was silence … and memories. It happened two months ago and she was only now getting used to the pain of abandonment. Never again would she hear his voice or see his beautiful face. It was time to exist without him. And she would.

During those months Kay had done a lot of thinking. It had come as a shock to realise how much she’d been used. She’d been a fool, a pawn in the game he played to thwart his mother. The knowledge didn’t alleviate the hurt or relieve her shame.

The screensaver on the laptop showed a picture of Roger, taken when he was sunbathing in France, the white swimming briefs bulging in such a way that Kay’s thighs jumped. ‘Never again Roger,’ she whispered as she set about removing his image from her screen.

I dated your son for five years, five years and one month to be exact’
Seeing those words again she began to type, finishing the sentence.
‘….. and I have great pleasure in handing him back.’

She wouldn’t send it, but it did her good to say it. The affair was over. No more intrigue, no more Roger, no more father of her unborn child. It was all an act, drama without end, the performance of his life. But her role would continue. There must be no more tears, there were plans to make, a future to face, a child to love. Lifting her eyes heavenwards Kay prayed she would never be as possessive and suffocating with her own offspring.

Goodbye Roger. Take good care of your mother.

11 March 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Ball

Recently, Ron posted an item about ghosts and asked if anyone had a similar experience. Well I did have a ghost in my house and I used the real life experience to create a short story, changing, elaborating, and taking advantage of a writer’s licence to make the story worth reading. The following is an outline of what really happened.

My Ghost Story in brief

Time: during young son’s infancy
Scene: ground floor flat

First sign:

A present given to Jon: a ping-pong ball launcher, a plastic cone thingy that shot a single tennis ball into the air, was instrumental in providing The Mystery of the Missing Ball. It came with one ball which any manufacturer in his right mind would know would quickly be lost, although I believe my lad broke all records by losing it on the first go. He didn’t understand that he should have tried to catch it in the cone as it came down.

The ball fell to the lounge floor and rolled under a chair. The chair’s location was in front of a small radiator affixed to the wall, the other side of which (in kitchen) was the airing cupboard.



I immediately moved the chair to retrieve the ball but .. it wasn’t there. Searched high and low but couldn’t find it. It’s not often you can say you actually saw something disappear but it’s true, I actually watched it go.

Other signs:
Small items of clothing disappeared from the airing cupboard which as already stated was situated in the kitchen
Small toys vanished from all over the flat.
An unexplained fruity smell in the kitchen.
All the above occurred over a seven year period, until Jon went to boarding school. Only during holidays did things go wrong.

Second sign:

A Christmas gift bottle of sherry from workmates was placed on stereo near television. Curtains were drawn, and the room lit by a single table lamp. Jon and I were sitting on the settee watching a programme when suddenly a shaft of light circled the bottle, hovering over the ceiling then swooped out of the room via the open door. I thought maybe Jon was playing silly whatsits with his watch but he was sprawled out and engrossed in the telly. Anyway, he wasn’t wearing his watch. That was the only really scary occurrence. I went into the garden to check if someone was there (not afraid of the dark in those days) but there was no-one. There wasn’t even a chink in the curtain and the door to the French windows was tightly closed. If there had been someone out there they couldn’t have seen inside the room let alone shine a flippin’ light.

Some advice:

Several years later, the spiritualist husband of a work colleague sent a message to say I should call the ghost’s bluff and ask for the return of the table tennis ball, which was the first thing to go missing. I thought it worth a try. I chose a time when I was alone and Ooooh I did feel a fool talking to thin air, asking for my ball back. Well I did it and there the matter ended. Nothing else disappeared from that moment on.

Conclusion, months later:

Met my neighbour, Joan, by the shops. She expressed surprise that Jon wasn’t at school. When I told her that he was away she as good as called me a liar, saying she’d heard him in the garden quite late the previous evening when she herself was out calling her cat to come in. ‘Come on, Blackie’ she’d called and a childish voice answered, ‘He’s here, Mrs Moon.’

Interesting! The only child in the area was mine and he was definitely away at school. All the residents were elderly, they never had night time visitors, and there was no way a child could have got into any of the gardens. I told Joan she must have been mistaken but she was adamant she’d heard a kid out there. I didn’t think about the conversation until later in the day when I went into my garden and found a table tennis ball on the window step. It was super clean, as if it had just been bought from a shop … or lost from a kiddie’s toy.

History of House:

We later discovered that some years before we moved into the house the young daughter of the family died, having been killed in a road accident. Theory goes that her restless spirit returned to play and who better to play with than my son, since he was the first child to inhabit the property after her death.

Here’s the ‘alternative’ story if you would like to read it, it's called Unearthly Pranks.

08 March 2011

DELIGHTFUL ODDITIES


Extracts from A Gentleman Publisher’s Commonplace Book by John G Murray

~~~~~

‘Sex has become a serious international problem for which a solution hasn’t yet been found.’
(Introduction to a The Truth about Sex submitted by A M Macrae 1968)

‘The girl was beheaded, chopped into pieces and placed in a trunk but was not interfered with.’
(From a Fleet Street report)

‘What has one wheel and flies?’
‘A wheelbarrow full of manure!’
(A riddle from John Piper)

‘What is funny about legs?’
‘The bottom is at the top!’
(A riddle from a lady of 92)

‘I’m afraid,’ said a woman on entering a shoe shop, ‘that one of my feet is larger than the other.’
‘Oh no, madam,’ exclaimed the salesman, ‘if anything one is smaller.’

‘Exclusive universal Tailors.’
(Advertisement)

‘Sole joint agents.’
(Sign outside a house)

Tattooed lady wishes to meet gentleman with similar views.’
(Advertisement from the agony column of the Observer)

‘Ears pierced while you wait’
(Notice in a Cork jeweller’s window)

‘St Margaret’s School of the Immaculate Conception for Girls’
and underneath
‘Preparatory for Boys’
(Sign outside a school in Berkshire)

Q. ‘What’s the difference between a snowman and a snow woman?’
A. ‘Snowballs.’
(Riddle from Anne Ridler)

A warden in the dark outside an air raid shelter during the war asked, ‘Are there any pregnant women here?’
A young cockney shouted, ‘Give us a chance, guv’, we’ve only been ‘ere ten minutes.’

Hotel notice: ‘If requiring breakfast please hang on door knob before 7am.’

‘Due to staff shortage the automatic ticket machines are not in use.’
(Notice in Farringdon Underground Station)

Wording on a form sent out by a Government department in 1962:
‘Separate departments on the same premises are treated as separate premises for this purpose where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate business in separate premises are carried on in separate departments of the same premises’

‘Baths may be had (by arrangement) with the manageress only.’
(Notice in a Southport hotel)

‘Horse manure bagged 25p. Do it yourself 10p.’
(Advertisement outside a Sussex farm)

04 March 2011

PENFRIENDS FOREVER



He had known by her choice of words that the view would be spectacular. Incredibly stunning was the way she described it and now he saw for himself that it was. Fully expecting to see a horse and cart enter from the far end of the lane Mike kept close to the hedge on the opposite side of the house. A blackbird hopped away with a soft squawk. In the distance he heard a rumble of thunder but knew that rain would not appear that day.

The smells and sounds of the countryside were comforting. Not since he’d left home had he felt so lighthearted. He could breathe here, unlike his mother’s house where every cluttered room produced feelings of hysteria.

Feeling suddenly carefree, he hobbled across the narrow lane and sat on the kerbstone, surprising himself by a childish display of defiance against his mother. ‘Don’t sit in the road wearing a hole in your pants,’ she’d shout from the garden gate. ‘D’ya think I’m made of money?’

Mike Simmonds had grown up fretting about what mother would say about everything he did. Not for him the carefree childhood his friends had, boys whose mothers joined in their fun, laughed with them, and fought ongoing battles with neighbours. But his life was put in perspective with that first letter from Yvette.

They were both aged fourteen when they became pen pals through a scheme started by their respective schools. It was an endeavour to cross the language barrier which in their case didn’t work. Yvette might have been a French girl but her command of the English language was better than Mike’s so all her letters were written in English. It suited Mike, him being a bit of a lazy scholar.

Yvette Dessen was born in her English grandmother’s house in Yorkshire, the house he was now looking at. The way she had described it Mike had spent his teenage years believing it to be haunted and even now he wasn’t sure. When she moved to France the yarns about friendly ghosts and spirits ceased but Mike never forgot them. One in particular had obsessed him, about a spirit’s playfulness when it moved Yvette’s toys to another room and returned them when it thought she was tired of searching. How would it know, he thought, determined that one day he would seek the answer. However as the years went by the need to know lessened and his early life was taken up with more sporting activities.

The exchange of letters continued. Mike was told about Yvette’s courtship with a handsome French student; he heard about the break-up of the relationship, consoled her through her sorrow, encouraged a new ambition to be a writer, and gave an opinion on a first draft. In return he described a love of cricket, his pride at being picked for the local team, and his despair over a car accident in which he had broken a leg.

Neither of them married though each had many lovers. Their letters were unwisely descriptive of their respective affairs but the knowledge helped them understand the pain being suffered on termination. Mike and Yvette were on the brink of getting together, planning a future neither of them had hitherto envisaged.

The plan was that they would live in her grandmother’s house. It had been empty since the old lady died and now belonged to Yvette, that is until fate stepped in to thwart the idea. It was strange how fate had organised their lives, giving both of them parents who needed the attention of their offspring. Yvette’s widowed mother suffered from an early onset of Alzheimer’s while both of Mike’s parents were stricken with paralysing arthritis. They passed away peacefully within seven months of each other and Yvette’s Mom shortly after that.

Two years on Yvette herself died of a massive heart attack. Mike was informed by solicitor’s letter in which it was also stated that she had left him the house in her will. Mike was brokenhearted. Although they never met Yvette had been his friend for more than forty years, she had been his lifeline when things were going bad, his saviour when in the depths of despair. He couldn’t imagine a future without her.

It had been a long journey from his home in Devon. He wasn’t used to driving such long distances. He had left the car at the end of the lane, little realising how long the walk would be to the house. In the event it had been the right thing to do since there wasn’t much room for a parked car.

He looked up at the sky, smiling at the sudden appearance of the sun. Yvette’s kind of day. How many times had she written rejoicing when summer arrived? Mike fingered the keys in his pocket, took them out, gazed at them, put them back again, hearing the clunk as they touched his mobile phone. The keys had been in his possession for a whole week but he had put off visiting the house, actually in two minds about coming here at all. Several nights had been spent tossing from side to side in his bed, wondering if he could face the prospect of going inside a house he should have lived in with Yvette.

The appearance of a well cared for white cat convinced him that he should venture forth. The animal wore a red collar, reminding him of the one he’d sent to Yvette when she acquired her beloved Spirit. He had thought it a strange name but it wasn’t his place to criticise the naming of her pet. He had, though, offered the opinion that he thought it was a little unusual.

‘Unusual?’ she wrote. ‘How can you say it’s unusual when you named your dog Coal.’

Mike had no answer to that but he considered naming a black dog Coal was a mite better than calling a white cat Spirit. It reminded him, he wrote, of cleaning fluid. Grinning at the memory he leaned down to stroke the creature, hearing the little bell tinkle as the animal moved its head to accommodate his scratching fingers. The cat looked up with what Mike could only describe as knowing eyes.

Once again he took out the keys, only this time he kept them out. After a brief check he selected what he assumed to be the key to the front door. Closely followed by the cat, he crossed the lane and walked towards the house, stopping only briefly to look over the wall at the view beyond. He saw gardens brimming with colour, jagged paths running between lush green lawns, and a goldfish pond with lily pads on the surface. The cat scaled the wall, disappeared under a hydrangea bush. Probably got his eye on some fish, thought Mike, as he took the final step to the front door of the house.

The front door opened onto a large living room. The wallpaper was heavy with beige coloured flowers and the furnishings looked sadly dated. The room contained a sturdy three piece leather suite neatly arranged to get full benefit of a fire that once would have roared in the blackened grate set beneath a wooden mantelpiece with tiled surrounds. There were no ornaments on the shelf, just a big round faced wooden clock that had stopped ticking at nine minutes past one. Mike wondered which half of which day that was.

Putting the bunch of keys beside the clock Mike crossed the room and opened the door to the next room. There was no hall, one room just led into another. Here he saw a highly polished table and four chairs with upholstered seats the same russet colour as the heavy curtains. The table was laid for two people that Mike thought very strange. He was sure Yvette’s grandmother had lived alone? There was another fireplace, laid ready to light with wood and coals. At the side of the hearth was a brass bucket filled with more wood and coal and a brass jug of tapers. All ready to light. Looking round Mike imagined that the room would have looked very cosy when lived in.

Slowly he walked to the window, looked out at a small garden and the same colourful flowers he’d seen earlier. If he was to live here he would have great pleasure tending the garden.

Hearing a noise behind him Mike quickly turned. He stood quite still, trying to determine what it was he had heard. For the first time he sensed an atmosphere. As would be expected in a house solely occupied by an old lady the furnishings and d├ęcor were old, yet there was an air of youthfulness he couldn’t place. Would it be possible for Yvette’s childish influence to have remained all these years? Marking that down as absurd he continued his tour of the house.

Going through a second door leading from the dining room he found himself facing a steep staircase, lit only by a skylight at the top. Mike’s arm brushed against a light switch. He pressed it and a shiver of thankfulness passed through him as the stairs were flooded with light. It wasn’t in his character to be scared of the dark but there was something about being enclosed in a narrow place, in semi dark, that made him slightly fearful.

Telling himself not to be silly, he began what seemed like an interminable climb. As he neared the top he noticed two doors either side of the staircase. Obviously bedrooms, he thought as he stepped onto the small landing and then entered the room on the right.

It was a complete contrast to the rest of the house. Judging by the deep pink eiderdown, floral pillowcases, and feminine knick-knacks on a three-mirrored dressing table, he knew that this was a young lady’s room. Perhaps her grandmother had kept it in readiness for Yvette. He remembered the tale she told him about two ornamental lambs that were painted with fluorescent paint, how they were each placed in front of two mirrors, and how scared she was of the lambs that glowed in the dark. He recalled that she mentioned putting the ornaments in the drawer and out of curiosity he opened one of the drawers on the right. They were there, lying side by side. Marvelling that they were still there after so many years he picked one up to admire it when he heard a noise behind him. He whirled round, and stopped in amazement when he saw the cat sitting on the bed. It was definitely the cat he had seen outside, the same red collar, identical markings on its face, and the same knowing eyes.

‘Hello, puss,’ he said, putting out a hand to stroke it’s head. ‘Now how did you get in?’ Mike was certain he had closed the front door when he came in.

The cat purred loudly, a contented sort of noise, then jumped off the bed and scampered through the door. Thinking it wrong for the cat to be here at all, Mike followed.

Cat had gone into a second bedroom. Mike was just in time to see it jump onto a rattan chair that had been painted white. The chair was by another dressing table, similar in style to the one in the other room, but there were no adornments, just a bulky envelope. He picked it up and saw his name printed on it in black ink … Mike Underhill. Sitting on the bed he quickly opened it and drew out a set of keys, identical it seemed to the ones given to him by the solicitor. He felt in his jacket pocket but the keys weren’t there. Thinking he must have put them down somewhere he rushed out of the room, closely followed by the white cat.

Mike searched the house but the search proved fruitless. He was mystified. He looked at the keys again and wondered: if these are mine how did they get into the envelope? As the cat brushed against his legs Mike had a weird feeling that the damn animal knew more about it than he did.

Remembering that he had dropped the keys by the clock Mike went again to the front room to look on the mantelshelf. It was a half hearted move because he’d looked there before and knew they wouldn’t be there. Pondering over the mystery he sat on the settee to think it through.

The cat jumped on Mike’s knees, settled, put it’s head on his thigh. And that’s when Mike remembered Yvette’s yarns about ghosts and playful spirits. ‘Spirits!’ he said aloud. The cat moved its head to look at him. ‘Spirit?’ whispered Mike. ‘Is that you, cat? Recalling that the keys had been tidily placed in an envelope, he went on, ‘Or were you known as Yvette in another life?’
The cat gave a contented meow and settled back down.