23 July 2020


Hello folks, I have some bad news for you, at least I think it is bad news. I am quitting. Yes, you read that right. Thing is, I am  too old for this game or any other game and it is all down to age and degeneration. I cannot describe how I feel but a few hundred handkerchiefs might help.

Seriously, I have blogged for many, many years and enjoyed it all. Mainly, though, I have enjoyed the company of you lovely people and I thank you for being there for me. I will put the books away and forget that once upon a time I wrote stories and books. 

I made special friends, many of whom shared laughs from way back, dare I say before blogging was invented, or maybe it was merely being thought about. To those people I send my love and thanks for everything. To more recent blogging friends I wish you everything you wish yourself. Keep blogging and ENJOY. 

08 July 2020


1. Why did it take me so long to sort out what goes where, when and why? I am talking about posting stuff on line, but I guess you knew that ... wink.

2. I used to be a dab hand at publishing but I at my vast age I forget stuff too easily. 

3, Give in, says brain, Why should I, says I? 

4. Well I gave up on the story after several attempts. Stick to what you know, says the brain.Well, he can talk, he doesn't know much himself.

5. It is celebration day, in two or three hours the phone will ring and I will dash to talk to my stepdaughter in Oz. I'm only writing this to keep from dancing with joy. 

6. Charlie the cat is fast asleep on MY chair. He thinks he owns everything in this house.

7. My typing is getting worse. Gone are the days when I could almost do everything blindfolded.  Good job I can still find my I think!

8. I need to cheer up, 

9, Just did a jig round my sleeping cat. His one eye protest put me in my place. Usually, he reprimands me with two eyes. I reckon he's the new lazy, even I could do better. 

10. Ah yes TEN. That means this rubbish is at an end. 

Enjoy, folks.

03 July 2020

My Trip - worth repeating .. I wish!

In 1954 Patrick and I did the journey to Cape Castle to celebrate his parents ruby wedding, a grand affair with a marquee and a slap-up meal and attended, it seemed, by the entire population of Northern Ireland.

'A great fuss,' grumbled Patrick, who was not keen on crowded functions. Nevertheless, he didn't mind joining his four brothers for after-dinner drinks … half a crate of Bushmills whiskey which was probably still illicit. And he didn't mind staying in bed the whole of the following day and night, cursing the pain in his head and blaming me for allowing it to happen.

Well, I enjoyed the anniversary party but if you were to ask me what I ate or to outline the topics discussed around the table I'd be hard pressed to remember. What does come to mind was the decision of the Portrush group to attend the village ball. It would be a perfect end to a perfect day. Or so I was led to believe.

My dress was ideal for a ball being ankle-length and created from shimmering pink parachute silk, though the high-heeled satin shoes were hardly fit for walking the dark and muddy lanes. Patrick assured me that I looked like a princess. I took that with a pinch of salt considering his inebriated condition.

Brimming over with jollity, we arrived at the dance hall. I remember turning the corner of the lane and seeing the single lantern over the door of a wooden hut. And I remember the mirth deserting my soul. I had expected more than a decrepit shack to dance in. I had expected to be whirling around a Casino-type place in the arms of my well-oiled husband.

One of the brothers took my arm and guided me towards the entrance. Patrick trailed behind singing Baa Baa Black Sheep. I was mortified when we reached the door and Patrick began chanting, Yes, sir; Yes, sir, three bags full, to the amusement of the man on the door. I was so humiliated ... and was even more so when the doorkeeper seized my left hand and quick as a flash imprinted the back with a black-ink date stamp. My entrance ticket, I was told, and a pass-out. I complained bitterly about the mess but was reassured that the ink would eventually wash off. The word ‘eventually’ bothered me no end.

Inside that glorified shed, straight-backed wooden chairs were arranged in rows on two sides, with a single chair bang in the middle of the floor. A red-cheeked, robust individual with a shillelagh under his arm paced to and fro inspecting the floor and shouting instructions to an elderly man in a grey cap and tweed jacket who was scattering chalk like he was feeding the fowl.

And then the band arrived. 'Here's the band,' Patrick cried, as one man and his fiddle sauntered towards the chair in the centre of the room. I closed my eyes, convinced I was hallucinating, but opened them again when the first musical strains hit the air. The fiddler was standing on the wobbly chair, tapping one hob-nailed boot in tune to an Irish jig, his red polka-dot kerchief crumpled between the fiddle and his chin. Around him ruddy-faced farmers, fingers dyed blue with crop spray, danced at arms-length with their wives, solemn-faced women, straight-legged and aloof.

Totally bewildered, I joined Patrick and the brothers on the hard chairs and bemoaned my fate. I felt like an overdressed dummy though Patrick continued to assure me I was the belle of the ball. If he could've transferred his intoxication to the poker-faced couples on the chalk-strewn floor, I would have been better pleased. If he had been sober, my presence in a room smelling of classrooms and wood yards might have been more tolerable. And then I saw the funny side of it. I started to laugh, and Patrick laughed, and the brothers joined in. The fiddle-player grinned and broke into a livelier jig. And I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world.

So when I am asked what my in-laws ruby wedding was like, I reply with truth that it was a remarkable affair. But it's not the event that comes to mind, it's the jolly-faced fiddle player with the polka-dot kerchief and the amiable grin.

PS... a true story, Only the names have been changed, 

02 July 2020


Well now, remember me? I have no idea what I am doing but thought I would give it a go, after all it is a long time since I last blogged. If it wasn't for a guy who knows his way around I wouldn't be here now. I was persuaded, you see. Don't let 'em beat you was the cry. 

This is a practice job, an attempt to find things and try my hand at blogging again. I miss it, but the aching back was not too pleased when I inserted the plug and opened my blog. 

How are you all?  It was a toss up whether to continue reading your lovely mail at home or thank the senders via the blog. I chose the latter in case there was something I could learn and enjoy. 

I haven't been lazy in the last few weeks. I have enjoyed some male company and listened to his wisdom. I was encouraged to buy a new printer, and to test it out with glee. Glee? Okay, yes I am joking. 

Charlie the cat is fine, he knows how to snuggle when I need it, which reminds me it's time I fed that gorgeous animal. Take care, everyone, and don't do anything I wouldn't do! Byeee!!

11 June 2020


                                              A TRUE HAPPENING

Hoping you hadn't read this before..... thing is, I am trying to master the ways and means of posting on this new style Blogger. 

It is an old post but one that proves the existence of ghosts. I promise you it is all true.

It came about when someone posted an item about ghosts and asked if anyone had a similar experience. Well I once had a ghost in my house, and the following is a brief description.

My Ghost Story in brief:

Time:              during young son’s infancy
Location:         home, a ground floor flat

First sign:       
Ø  A present given to Jon: a cone thingy that shot table tennis balls into the air.
Ø  Ball falls to the lounge floor and rolls under a chair. 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. 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 I actually watched it go.

Other signs:
Ø  Small items of clothing disappearing from airing cupboard which was situated in the kitchen … adjacent to the radiator on the other side of the wall where the ball disappeared.
Ø  Small toys disappearing from all over the flat.
Ø  An unexplained fruity smell in the kitchen.
Ø  All the above occurred over a seven year period, until Jon went to boarding school. Only during holidays did things go wrong.

Second sign:
Ø  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 before hovering over the ceiling then swooping 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. 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 so if there had been someone no sighting could be had of the room.

Ø  Several years later, a 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 so I chose a time when I was alone. Ooooh I did feel a fool talking to thin air and asking for my ball back. Well I did it and there the matter ended. Nothing else disappeared from that moment on.  

Conclusion, months later:
Ø  Talking to neighbour, Joan, she expressed surprise that Jon wasn’t at school. When I told her he was, she said she’d heard him in the garden quite late at night when she herself was out calling for her cat to come in. ‘Come on, Blackie’ she called and a child’s voice said ‘He’s here, Mrs M.’ Interesting! The only child in the area was mine and he was definitely away at school. All the residents were elderly and they never had night time visitors. 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 back step.

History of House:
Ø  We later discovered that years before I moved into the house a little girl died there, I cannot remember clearly but I think she died in an accident. Theory goes that her restless spirit returned to play. My son was the first child to inhabit the property since her death.  

I used this real life experience to create a short story, changing, elaborating, and using writer’s licence to make the story worth reading.  

06 June 2020


Julia Smith wondered if at seventy-three she was too old for partying but Arthur Rowlands persuaded her otherwise.
'Never too old for a knees-up' he said as he pinned a corsage of orchids to the bodice of her long lilac gown.
'My knees wouldn't agree,' retorted Julia as she lowered her head to sniff the flowers. 
It was quite like old times. Cedric used to treat her like a duchess when they attended those wonderful balls. Arthur was a bit like him in that regard though not nearly as handsome. Julia scanned the row of photographs on the piano, all of Cedric, some with her, some without. He was very personable in his sea officer’s uniform. Her family thought it was the uniform that attracted her. They were wrong.
She had been a raw teenager when Cedric came into her life, a passerby in sailor’s uniform. The gang she was with dared her to touch his collar because it was said to bring good luck. Julia never refused a dare. And she didn’t need asking twice. Without further thought she raced after the very tall, handsome young man and when near enough she leaped up to touch the collar. What she didn’t realise was that because he was actually walking it would be more difficult to touch him. She fell flat on her face at his heels. And he made a joke about falling in love.

If anyone asked she used the same dialogue. Yes, she would say, we fell in love that day. Married five years later. No children. Cedric couldn’t, you see. But it was no problem because they had each other for fifty years.

Julia’s gaze slowly travelled round the room. It was here that he died, peacefully, in his chair. His mother's room, he called it, for he had filled it to capacity with her belongings, Victoriana and other objet d'art. In that matter Julia was not allowed a viewpoint. His mother's stuff was there to stay. Julia had grown up with it, so to speak, and she hadn’t the heart to dispose of it. It would be like defying Cedric and, although he was something of a tyrant, she had loved him totally.
'Penny for them, Julia.'
Majestically, Julia turned away from the piano. It was no good trying to recapture the past. Cedric had been dead for four years and, although she missed him dreadfully, she saw no sense in fading into decline. It wasn't in her to hanker for the unattainable. 'I was merely thinking how like Cedric you are. He was one for presenting me with flowers. Considerate. I like that in a man.' Julia reached out to touch Arthur's arm. 'I am grateful for your friendship, Arthur, and your willingness to befriend an old woman.'
Arthur snorted. 'Old, you say. Dear Julia, you will never be old in my eyes.'
'Well then, shall we venture to the party and witness the incredulity on your daughter’s face.' Picking up a tastefully wrapped parcel, Julia smiled coquettishly at her resplendently attired escort, his dinner jacket smelling only faintly of dry-cleaning fluid. Anticipating a splendid evening, with the requisite amount of gin to loosen her reserve and an occasional cigarette, if any were offered, Julia allowed herself to be guided to the door.

‘You look wonderful,' Arthur  said, guiding her through the gate so that her gown and matching coat didn’t touch the grimy wrought iron. Pinned to the front of Julia’s shoulder was Arthur’s unexpected gift. She took his arm and confessed that the orchids made her feel like a real lady.
Arthur’s reaction was swift, telling her firmly that she was a real lady and she was not to let anyone tell her otherwise. Tucking her hand into the crook of his arm, he said sincerely and quietly, 'I am the most fortunate of men.  I would be your slave if you would allow it, but I fear I do not come up to scratch.'

Julia cried out in mock indignation. 'Arthur Rowlands, you should be ashamed. I have never indicated such a thing.' She turned sideways to look at him, her eyes glinting with merriment. 'As a matter of fact, I think you would make an ideal man servant.'

She could tell by his face he thought she was joking. 

05 June 2020


Well, let’s get down to business, shall we? Would you be so good as to turn off your telly, please, Mrs Hailestone? Thank you. That’s better. It’s very good of you to let us use your front room. I think we’re all assembled... Mrs Brill, Miss Culch, Mrs Pell, Mrs Hailestone, May and me. All right then, May, let’s have the minutes of the last meeting.

Oh, May. You’re supposed to have them in that little book I gave you. I told you last time. You’re supposed to write down everything we do and say and then read it out at the next meeting, and then I sign it.

I know we all know what we said and did, dear, but you have to write it down. That’s what minutes are for.

Don’t cry, May, dear, Let’s get on with the next item on the agenda, Apologies for Absence. You read out the excuses. Oh, May. Well, you must try and remember to bring your glasses next time. All right, I’ll read them. Give them here. Cheer up!

Mrs Slope is very sorry she’s caught up. Can’t come.

Miss Heddle’s got her mother again. Can’t come.

Lady Widmore sent a telegram ‘ALAS CANNOT BE WITH YOU, DEVASTATED’.  Can’t come.

Well then. As you all know, this is another special meeting of the Ladies’ Choral to talk about the forthcoming Festival and County Choral Competition. We know the date and we know the set song. Yes we do, May. It’s in two parts for ladies’ voices in E flat, ‘My Bosom is a Nest’.

But of course what we are really here for tonight is this very important question of voices in the choir. Now, we don’t want any unpleasantness. Friendly is what we are, and friendly we are going to go on. But it’s no good beating about the bush, we all know there is one voice among the altos that did not ought to be there. And I think we all know to what I am referring.

Now, don’t think that I don’t like Mrs Codlin, because I do. Yes, she is a very nice woman. Look at how nice she is with her little car – giving us all lifts here and there. And she’s a lovely lender - lends you her books, and her knitting patterns, recipes, anything. Lovely. Yes, she is a regular churchgoer and a most generous donator to the fund. But she just has this one fault: she does not blend.

May, dear, would you be so kind as to slip out and see if I left the lamp turned off on my bike? I don’t want to waste the battery, and I can’t remember if I did it. Thank you, May.

Ladies, I didn’t like to say anything in front of May, but I must remind you that Mrs Codlin’s voice is worse than May’s was; and you know what happened the last time we let May sing in the competition. We were disqualified. So you see it is very important and very serious.

Oh, thank you, May, dear. Had I? I am a big silly, aren’t I?

You see. It isn’t as if Mrs Codlin had a voice you could ignore. I mean you can’t drown her out. They can hear her all down the road, over the sopranos; yes, over your piano, Mrs Pell, over everything. You know, I was stood next to her at practice last week when we did ‘The Wild Brown Bee is my Lover’. When we’d finished I said to her very tactfully, thinking she might like to take the hint, I said: ‘I wonder who it is stands out so among the altos and she said she hadn’t noticed. Hadn’t noticed! Mrs Brill was on her other side and she said to me afterwards, didn’t you, Mrs Brill? She said the vibrations were so considerable they made her chest hum.

No, I know she doesn’t do it on purpose, May.

No, of course she didn’t ought to have been let in in the first place. It’s ridiculous. It makes a nonsense of music. But the thing is, it was her idea, wasn’t it? She founded the choir.

Do you think if anyone was to ask her very nicely not to sing it might stop her? I mean, we could let her come and just stand there. Yes, Mrs Hailestone, she does look like a singer, I’ll give her that. That’s the annoying part.

Would anybody like to ask her? Well, has anybody got any suggestions?
No, May, not anonymous letters. They aren’t very nice.

I wonder ….  May, one of your jobs as secretary is watching the handbags and coats at competitions, isn’t it? I mean you have to stay in the cloakroom all during the competitions, don’t you? I thought so. Look, May, now don’t think we don’t appreciate you as secretary – we do, dear, don’t we ladies? – But would you like to resign? Just say yes now, and I’ll explain it all later.

Well, we accept your resignation, and I would like to propose that we appoint Mrs Codlin secretary and handbag-watcher for the next competition. Anybody second that? Thank you, Mrs Hailestone. Any against? Then that’s passed unanimously. Lovely. Oh, I know it’s not in order, Mrs Pell, but we haven’t any minutes to prove it. May didn’t have a pencil, did you, May?

Well, I think it’s a very happy solution. We get rid of her and keep her at one and the same time.

What did you say, May? Can you sing if Mrs Codlin doesn’t?

Oh, May, you’ve put us right back to square one. 

04 June 2020


It's no use, I just can't live without blogging. I miss my friends too much to carry on in my stubborn way. So what if I offended Google! Google surely wont raise the cane and tell me what a naughty girl I am - even though what happened was no fault of mine. Even Charlie the cat seems to want me out of his hair, so to speak, so I am asking you for an opinion. Do I or don't I have another go at blogging?  Honestly, I can live without it but life is pretty dull if there's nothing to say or do.

Life here is indescribable. First the computer lets me down, then the printer decides to join ranks with the computer which forced me to call in the expert from the shop up the road.  Just don;t ask about the cost, that is something I would rather forget.

Looking forward to meeting up with you again, that is if you will allow yours truly to re-enter our wonderful blogging world.  I hear murmurs of  change so I hope someone will put be in the picture where blog changes are concerned.

Bye for now. 

27 May 2020


Oh WOW! Yes, it's me and oh boy am I glad to be back on line. Two weeks without contact on-line, two weeks without something to do to while away the time, two weeks without pals to talk to. Mind you I was just getting used to doing nothing but housework when out of the blue a guy turns up to sort things out on the computer. Whoops, that's not right, it wasn't the computer at fault, it was the broadband thingy that had gone totally haywire. Whatever it was, it almost flummoxed the engineer who came to put things right. The best part, though, was not having to fork out for repairs. 

So how are you all? I hope you have survived all the worldly upsets. I'm not happy that my stepdaughter is confined to her own country but I guess she's better off staying where she is than travelling the world. I have't seen my son but he can't travel anywhere so we've had daily chats on the phone. If I hadn't had those outlets I probably would have gone slightly mad.

Won't keep you now but rest assured I will be back. Oh yes, I WILL BE BACK.

15 May 2020

Me again,,,, oh I wish!

I am unable to send individual messages - sadly - and typing with two fingers is worse than when I learned how to type.

I want to say thanks for messages via the blog, it seems the only way Google will allow. And to Ron, thanks for the card, which I have not seen. It will be a sad birthday, I think. 

Latest news is that the engineer will not be visiting me  in the near future, no indication as to a possible date!  

Needless to say, I am fed up.

13 May 2020

Yes, it is ME!

I found an opening and took a chance on saying Hi to you all. 

My usual method of blogging has broken down DRAMATICALLY. 
All being well and the virus allows the engineer just might be able to reconnect me to my blogging friends. I do hope you are all well. I will be back ASAP and cannot wait.


06 May 2020



1. Fingers crossed that normal shopping will be resumed one day.

2. Sneezed last night, it nearly scared me to death. For a minute I thought I’d joined the ranks of sufferers.

3. Wondering what it’s like walking outside…. hehe, I cheat by walking in the garden.

4. Also wondering what it’s like actually talking to people. 

5.  Hairdresser texted to say she misses me. Of course, she really means missing the money!

6. My favourite Peppermint tea is permanently sold out but Amazon came to rescue. They sent me twenty single packets. That’s 20 drinks. Cost: excessively high.

7. Neighbour has done some shopping for me. When she delivers mine, she places the bag of goodies in the porch, rings the bell, and scarpers. Gone are the days of neighbourly chats.

8. Have discovered that I am shrinking. I now have to jump to reach the top bolt on kitchen door. Before I simply raised an arm and, viola, job done.  

9. Birthday looming.…  I don’t think I want one this year.  

10. Need to buy another thinking cap. The one I have is wearing out.

04 May 2020


This is a story of long ago, but it backs up my opinion of our wonderful police force.

Set the scene:

My son and I lived in a very large house, divided into two flats. My flat was on the ground floor, accessible by front and side doors. The side entrance was reached via an alleyway between houses, and through a gate that led to the yard.

As a single Mum I had to work. Arrangements were made for Jon before and after a school day but there were times when he was alone in the house. He was very young when this episode took place. In those days it wasn’t illegal to leave a child alone and I made sure people knew he was there and to look out for him, including the neighbour upstairs.

‘Never open the door to strangers.’ I warned. ‘Always ring the office to check it out.’

One day, the dreaded call was received.

Two men had entered the side gate and were knocking on the door.

Scared boy rang his Mum.

‘Okay,’ I said, trying for his sake to keep calm. ‘So what are they doing now?’

‘They’ve gone down the garden,’ said young son. 

The garden also provided access to the French doors in my lounge.


‘Don’t open the door,’ I said, trying not to scare my boy.

Leaving him holding on the phone, I went to the switchboard and rang the police on a different line. Told them a young child was alone in the house and two men were trying to get in. 

On our way, they said, after taking details of son’s name and age.

Went back to talk to my son … and learned that the police had already arrived. Yes, as quick as that. I could hear them calling to him through the door, telling him not to be afraid. I grabbed my coat and ran while switchboard colleague rang the neighbour.

Two men were apprehended.


They had entered my property to use the outside toilet.

How did they know it was there?

I didn’t have a milkman!

On arriving home, neighbour in the upstairs flat told me she had seen the men enter the outside toilet, situated further down the yard. She had a perfect view from her window. Apparently, the police arrived as they were coming out.
When things were settled I wrote to the General Manager of the Dairy to complain about the men taking such liberties. Had a nice letter back, was assured that steps had been taken to reprimand the culprits but that their excuse was taken as legitimate and they would not lose their jobs.


The mystery was solved.

I discovered that my cousin’s husband had taken a job as a milkman.

Near to my house, his colleague had skidded and fallen onto a broken bottle.

Gashed his thigh!

In order to see to the wound my relative called at my house for help. and, since no-one opened the door, they went to the outside toilet.

‘Well,’ said cousin’s husband, ‘he could hardly drop his trousers in the road.’

I asked why he didn’t tell me about it, but he said he felt such a fool. After the interview with the boss he couldn’t face my wrath as well.

So here’s the point of relating the story:

Our police didn’t waste time then and they don’t waste time now. No matter what people say, when we need help they never let us down.

02 May 2020


This is funny to try and you feel like a idiot doing it.. 

How smart is Your Right Foot ? 

Just try this. It is from an orthopaedic surgeon..... 


It will boggle your mind and you will keep trying over and over again
to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's programmed
in your brain! 

1. WITHOUT anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY) and
while sitting where you are - maybe at your desk in front of your computer, lift
your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right
hand. Your foot will change direction. 

I told you so!!! And there's nothing you can do about it!

29 April 2020



Once a dog’s best friend, always a dog’s best friend, or so I thought. But after he’d gone I was relegated to a keepsake box with all the other toys he used to play with. By he, I mean, Oscar the Labrador, who died two years back.

It was overcrowded in the box but I stuck it out in the hope that humans would get another dog for me to play with. The other toys were useless; they didn’t seem to have any ambition at all. Tortoise ignored everybody, just sat there staring into space, Cat thought of nothing else but keeping her whiskers straight, and Elephant without a trunk was as silent as the grave. Lion’s roar was quite scary but it disappeared on the second day Oscar had him. The squashy building blocks were the only toys with any life in them. Someone only had to brush against the box and the blocks would tumble about, ringing their tinkly bells as they fell against each other.

The thought of hanging around, doing nothing for evermore was depressing. I had a deep think about it, wondering how I could escape, and then I noticed an old pal propped up in the corner: the White Fairy. She’d been a pretty fairy in her day but was now a bit fragile looking, her white dress was grubby and torn, and the star on her wand a bit tarnished.

Fairy hadn’t really been a dog toy; little Gemma had put her in the box when she started school and never came back for her. We never found out why she was left there permanently. It was reputed that Fairy’s wand was magical, she only had to wave it and wishes came true. I wondered if she could transport me to a new life.

After a long middle of the night discussion, Fairy agreed to help. She wanted a clear day to get her wand up to scratch so we agreed to wait until the following night before she put a spell on me. I didn’t know if I would be able to wait that long but she pointed out that one more day wouldn’t hurt. It was important to wait, she said, because she hadn’t used her wand for such a long time and it could be a bit rusty.

The call came at midnight. I was excited as well as nervous; my mind seemed to be turning somersaults. The good news was that she thought the spell would work; the bad news was that she didn’t know for how long. That was a downer but it didn’t put me off ... any time away from the toy box would be fine by me.  


It only took one wave of the magic wand to put life in my limbs. I felt it surging in, a real prickly sensation. And then I discovered that I could move totally unaided.

‘Go, Tigger,’ she said, ‘and good luck.’

After thanking her, I climbed out. I didn’t stand on ceremony, I just went.


It was easy. Having rope knots and tassels at the end of my legs enabled me to scale the high side like a mountaineer.  When I reached the top I looked back at the other well-chewed toys, taking pity on them for being so lethargic. I wanted to shout get a life but resisted the temptation. I wanted to escape, not offend.

The first thing I did was shuffle towards the door... shuffling was necessary until my legs were stronger.  It was there I hit the first snag. How did I open a door? I looked round, taking in a number of stacked chairs and some fold-up tables propped against the side. There was a window high up, too high to see through. I thought about jumping from a chair, onto the door knob and swinging until it turned; I only thought about it, the sheer height made me feel dizzy. Then I noticed a gap at the bottom of the door. Was it large enough to crawl under? I racked my small brain trying to remember what was on the other side. And then it dawned on me, the door opened onto the garden.

I was inspired. Fancy remembering that after two years! In all that time I never realised we toys were kept in the garden shed.

Flattening my body on the cold floor, legs awkwardly splayed, I peered through the gap and proceeded to work out the best way to squeeze through. Did I put legs first, or last? Did I shuffle on my belly or my back? I tried the latter. It didn’t work. I tried lying on my tummy and inching my way underneath. It was tiring. While I rested, I explored with one of my front legs and found that the leg went all the way through the gap. But how would I get the rest of my body to follow? I sat and pondered, saw the first hint of daylight through the window. It was then I heard a noise.

Someone was coming.

 Oh no, please don’t throw me back in the toy box!

I needn’t have worried. In fact, I was now in a position to cheer when a man entered the shed and left the door open. I was free. No more dark days in that musty smelling box. No more irritations with the noisy blocks. No more wondering what life had to offer.


I explored, remembering the places Oscar used to take me, and the one time he tried to bury me in the soil. He got into trouble over that. I wasn’t too happy either, especially having to be washed afterwards. I’ll swear my colours faded that day.

It was getting quite warm so I rested on the grass. The smell was intoxicating after my incarceration in the dusty shed. I dozed for a while, dreaming of my impending adventure, half wishing Oscar was still around to carry me. In the distance I heard a grinding noise but ignored it until it started to get closer. The noise was awful. I tried to block my ears but the tassels on my legs wouldn’t stay still. Then I saw it, the man who had entered the shed was chasing a green Monster up the lawn. Coming closer. I feared for my safety. What if Monster didn’t see me in time to stop?

I wriggled nearer to the path.

Monster’s roar was scary, he charged up the lawn, chewing grass and spitting it out like a shower. He was getting nearer by the second, dragging the man behind him. And then something else happened, a woman came out waving what looked like huge scissors. I dived under a bush in the hope of finding a safe hiding place.

‘It’s no good trying to hide!’

I peered round a stalk and saw the Frog.

‘Monster will find you wherever you hide. Take my advice, scarper while you’ve got the chance.’ 

Since my funny legs don’t let me move at speed, I took Frog’s advice and shuffled away.


I heard the roar of traffic before I hit the road; it was scarier than the noise Monster made. There were cars everywhere, moving at great speed, flashing lights and hooting as they whizzed by. I’d been in a car before but only when Oscar was taken for a ride. I’m sure it wasn’t as noisy as this lot. I was crouched by the kerb, wondering what to do, when a small boy tried to pick me up. A woman pulled him away, saying something about germs. She went to kick me into the gutter but at that moment one of the cars pulled up and called her in. Suddenly longing for the quietness of the toy box, I turned back the way I had come, back to the grass lawn.

Frog was where I had left him. He whispered ‘Beware’ just before a human hand grabbed me, lifting me high in the air. And then I was flying, up, and then down onto a smelly heap of garden rubbish.  I felt indignant. It was no way to treat one of Oscar’s favourite toys.

‘You’d better get back where you came from,’ croaked Frog. ‘He’s put you on the compost heap.’


‘That’s where things are left to rot, and when they’re rotted enough they get spread on the ground. Helps things grow.’

This was disturbing news. It obviously wasn’t the world I thought it was. Surely when Oscar was alive there were only nice things around. No such thing as compost heaps then.

‘Here, jump on my back and I’ll give you a lift. Where would you like to go?’

Well, I thought, if this is freedom I don’t want any of it. ‘I think I’ll go back to the safety of the toy box.’

Thanking Frog, I slithered past some slimy green stuff until I reached the ground. Frog crouched while I lay on his back, then hopped up the path towards the garden shed. Monster was still on the lawn, quiet now, and the man nowhere to be seen. The shed door was still open so Frog took me right up to the toy box. As he nudged me off his back I fell against the side and straight away the blocks set up a chorus. I guess they were pleased I was back.

It only took a minute to climb back in and take my place amongst the toys and I vowed never to be so silly again. 

28 April 2020


She sat at the table next to mine, such a beautiful specimen of womanhood. Yes, even at her ripe age. I guessed at around 75, she was pleasing to look at. I tried not to stare, I mean, it’s rude to stare, but since I had never seen anyone like her I couldn’t help it.

Her hair was creamy-white, so pure in colour it made her skin seem pale. They blended so well I found it difficult to see where the skin ended and hair began. I know that sounds silly but quite honestly the effect was outstanding.

Her neck was heavily wrinkled but the graceful way she held her head made it swan-like. She was elegant. Something I could never be.


Abbey wasn’t normally an eavesdropper but she could hardly miss the powerful description of an unknown woman from where she sat. Normally she would have a seat to herself on the 8.10 commuter train but today was Lady’s Day at Ascot so the train was full. She’d been lucky to get a seat at all.

In view of the recent upset with her mother Abbey found the conversation disturbing. Oh how she wished she hadn’t answered the phone. Or put it another way, how she wished the approaching 50th birthday could be a less traumatic event. If she could see her time over again she wouldn’t invite her mother to any birthday celebration and then she wouldn’t have to put up with comments about her hair, her figure, or her outfit. The cocktail dress had cost the earth and so would the hair do. The first time she’d had it coloured her mother proclaimed that it was dreadful; a repeat performance prior to her party would be unbearable! Oh how she wished she hadn’t invited her mother.

As the train entered the station Abbey glanced at her watch. She had time to kill before she needed to head towards the office. Maybe an espresso would calm her nerves. Bundling together her bag and coat she rose from the long seat at the same time as the grey haired man who’d sat opposite the whole journey. When the train lurched to a stop, the man staggered and fell against her, knocking her so hard that her bag slipped to the floor. Both of them tried to save it, knocking heads and arms as they simultaneously reached out. Immediately Abbey felt some concern for he didn’t strike her as being very agile. Maybe the walking stick gave the wrong impression. Somewhat breathlessly, she thanked him and asked if he was okay.
            ‘I’m fine lass.’ The man winked and grinned mischievously.  ‘It’s not often I get thrown into the arms of an attractive young lady.’
            Abbey smiled and was about to contradict him with a self-preserving remark when he put a hand on her arm and smiled. ‘Allow me to escort you to the escalator,’ he said, ‘then perhaps you will join me for coffee in that newfangled station cafe.’
            A moment’s panic rose inside her, throwing Abbey completely off guard. She didn’t know this man and here he was inviting her for coffee. It was only when she sneaked a sideways glance that she saw him smile, somewhat benevolently, as he took her arm. ‘It’s okay,’ he said, in a hushed voice, ‘I am perfectly harmless and the cafe will be quite crowded.’
            Abbey grinned as she accepted his offer, feeling suddenly at ease. Something told her she could trust him. She hoped her instincts wouldn’t let her down.

They walked together along the platform towards the escalator. Before stepping on he paused to take Eve’s arm, a gesture she might have shrugged off had he been a younger man. It reminded her of her father, how he would always make sure she got on that first rising step without mishap ... whatever her age. He was a very protective man and she missed him terribly. Even now.

It wasn’t until they were seated, with two espressos in front of them, that he told her his name. Giles Hathaway. Eve thought it so fitted this well mannered gentleman. He told her he had two daughters and a pilot son, but his wife had died when the children were teenagers.  ‘Matilda was beautiful as well as elegant. She had it in mind to grow old gracefully; sadly she didn’t get the opportunity.’ Giles smiled, remembering.
            ‘She sounds a lovely lady.’
‘Oh, she was, m’dear, and you remind me of her. I have seen you on the train many times and always thought how much you resemble her. The same stylish way of walking and such apparent grace.’


A week later, the day of the birthday party, Abbey stood in front of her dressing table mirror and gazed at her reflection. Her new lilac outfit was laid out on the bed, the silver sandals in a box by its side. She felt good. Since meeting Giles she felt her life had turned upside down. There was a new twinkle in her eye, repeatedly remarked upon by workmates.  She decided that no matter what her mother said, 50 wasn’t too bad an age after all.  Thanks to you, Giles Hathaway. For the first time in years she felt powerful and in control. Picking up a silver-backed hair brush she began gently to brush her hair. It was always a therapeutic exercise but now she felt quite rejuvenated and so pleased she had invited Giles to the party. A pity he turned it down. Such an unwarranted rejection. Again Abbey gazed at her reflection, lingered once more on the lifeless body that lay sprawled on her bed, the blood that had oozed from the fatal wound.  Mother would have something to say about this, she thought, if ever she finds out.

27 April 2020

What the heck....


What the heck is going on with posts? Everything that goes on the sidebar is twisted to read something different or removed altogether, and suddenly I am looking at stuff from years ago.

I ask you, who is in charge here?

Is anyone else having the same or similar problems? 

26 April 2020


1. When nothing happens there is nothing to talk about?

2. Charlie the cat woke me this morning, licked my cheek and meowed. It wasn’t until I got up that I knew why. He wanted to show off his latest capture. A frog. Fortunately for me it was dead, otherwise I would have been leaping about trying to catch it.

3. Silence is golden but thank goodness for radios, phones, and TVs.

4. Local shop runs out of tissue. Thank goodness I use linen handkerchiefs.

5. Son rings regularly now. He and his partner take it in turns. I like it when the girl friend rings because our conversations are good. 

6. Am trying to write a new story but I’m not in the right mood.

7. Postman left a tiny parcel…. inside was a mask. Nobody can call me two-faced!!

8. Whoever said silence is golden should come and live here.

9. When nothing happens there’s nothing to talk about!

10. Nothing has happened! At this rate I shall lose the art of conversation.

24 April 2020


No-one knows the story, only me
No-one knows the wisdom
Of the old oak tree
He stood alone for many years
And watched the world go by
He sees the ever-changing shapes
Of clouds high in the sky

He talks to all the people,
Although they never listen
But I suspect the children know
That he sheds some tears that glisten
Because he feels so lonely
And very, very sad
That everyone in the world today
Seems so very bad.

But through the daily troubles
My tree still stands, so still
And straight and mighty
With an overwhelming will
To spend the time, so patiently,
To await the coming days
When the world will slowly calm itself
And gently change its ways.

21 April 2020


Welcome back, folks, and I apologise for messing things up with this story. 
I have deliberately reblogged the part you have already seen and read so that the story flow is not interrupted once more.
My apologies ... and if possible ... ENJOY

The deeper the express train travelled into the tunnel the clearer became the woman's reflection in the window, giving Arthur Mott a chance to stare without her knowing. Now, instead of occasional glimpses of her profile, he could see the whole of her face. Short wiry hair curved around her ears like dappled muffs; dark hair so flecked with grey it reminded him of pewter. He guessed her wistful expression belied a sunny disposition, for he decided the hint of a smile dallying at her lips. The pronounced cheek-bones attracted him. They made her almond shaped eyes seem so submerged that he felt, if she turned to look at him, he would drown in the abyss of their dark beauty.

The notion of being captured in an all-embracing glance made him fidget and he rocked slightly on his seat. Forward and back. Soon, the agitation filled his head, turmoil he thought had long ago subsided. He was compelled to suppress it with a system of deep-breathing. As he inhaled, he ran his fingers along the plastic armrest, counting to ten. With every exhalation he scratched his chewed nails on the jagged edges of sundry burns, wilfully accomplished with cigarettes, no doubt, by drunken barbarians. Mother wouldn't have liked that, he thought, recalling what a stickler she was for neatness, how she would toss into the bin anything marred by cuts or stains.

Now that he had a chance to study the woman, he saw that the skin on her throat was crinkly, like crepe, like his mother's, and he longed to touch her neck to see if it felt the same. There was an unusual fragrance in the compartment, of spicy perfume mingled with the polluted smell of soiled upholstery. Neither pleasant nor repulsive, simply unusual.

Her thinness intrigued him. How could a modern woman look so haggard when the whole nation was bordering on the obese? Arthur laced his nicotine-stained fingers, remembering his mother's bulk, her flesh hanging over him at night, her protruding eyes devouring his nakedness. He shuddered, as he had shuddered throughout his childhood.

Once again daylight entered the carriage. Fields rushed by, measures of green allocated for farming stock, an occasional house stowed aimlessly in the middle. Shouts could be heard in the next carriage, choruses adored by football supporters, some kind of convoluted vocal meandering punctuated with cries of ‘three-one, three-one’ which meant nothing to Arthur. He wasn’t a sporting man.

As if weary of the view, the woman changed her pose, languidly shuffling round until she faced him, her cream blouse taught against diminutive breasts. Her eyes were moist and her lips trembled slightly, drawing his notice to the lines on her upper lip. A pity the lurking smile had disappeared. He would have liked to see it go. Sweet anticipation set him rocking again; back and forth, a shade faster than before, foreseeing an exhilarating adventure, when she would be as putty in his hands.

Suddenly, the door slid open and a fat-faced man, carting a battered brown suitcase and a bundle of newspapers, barged in like a squall of blubber. Another example of modern living. Without asking if the seat was reserved, he dropped the bundle on the table adjacent to Arthur's green trilby and slung the case on the overhead rack. 'Teenagers make me sick,' he said to no-one in particular, 'the way they behave in public.'

Having secured the case, he flopped on the seat opposite Arthur, puffing out his cheeks with the exertion. 'I've been sharing a compartment with the Liverpool brigade,' he told Arthur, who was not at all interested. 'Had to leave 'em to it. Couldn't stand the noise. Comes to something when a body can't enjoy a train journey in peace.'

Agitatedly plucking the front of his fawn jersey, Arthur Mott eyed the woman wondering if the moment of contact was lost.

It brought a small, involuntary cry to Leonora's lips
And she knew she’d been right to be afraid

Leonora Deloitte rummaged inside a lizard-skin bag, searching for her wallet and the small notepad contained therein. She had thought of passing the big man a note concerning that measly little man who had stared constantly since they joined the train. She was used to being goggled at by men and enjoyed the experience, for it boosted her sometimes deflated ego, but this man was not a typical voyeur. When he stared it was like being mentally dissected.

She unzipped the inner compartment and flicked through the papers there, but she had no joy. The wallet, containing money and credit cards, was missing. She could only think she must have left it at her daughter's. She leaned back, wondering what on earth she was going to do, so absorbed with her dilemma she failed to adjust the black skirt that had ridden up.

'I'm going to Birmingham-on-sea,' said the rotund man. 'Though I confess I have no bucket or spade. Or a red and white scarf, for that matter.'

This smattering of humour went some way to persuading Leonora that he was an approachable individual who might help solve her predicament. Not that she would relish asking a perfect stranger for a loan, yet she couldn't see any alternative. She could hardly walk from Birmingham to Solihull. Hesitantly she smiled at him and the man promptly inclined towards her, stretching out his arm. 'Godfrey's the name, Ma'am. Godfrey Hastings. You going far?'

'Birmingham,' said Leonora.

'Well, isn't that just dandy. My luck must be in.'

In his corner, the scrawny little man scowled. His hands twitched in his lap, busy fingers stretching and curling as if he was squeezing an invisible object. It brought a small, involuntary cry to Leonora's lips and she knew she had been right to be afraid. Collectively, the two men arched their heads, but only Godfrey Hastings spoke.

'Whatever is it, Ma'am,' he enquired.

Leonora opened her mouth to express her fear but, feeling inanely foolish, she hastily closed it. She felt rather testy, hating to feel intimidated, but the horror of being thought ridiculous prevented her from launching into an unjustified dialogue of complaint. Instead, as calmly as she could, she announced the loss of her wallet, and was relieved to see a token of concern remove the disagreeable glower from the man's contemptible face.


Even the brief glimpse of pale thigh that had so excited Arthur was powerless to squash his loathing for Godfrey Hastings. He had completely wrecked his intentions. If he had an appropriate weapon he might stab him through the heart. In the few minutes since he arrived he had not only gained the woman's trust, he had destroyed the possibility of seduction. Unless he could outwit him his prospects would be dashed. An offer of cash to the lady would stand him in good stead but he only had a paltry sum in his breast pocket, a sum estimated by the authorities as sufficient for his needs until he could fend for himself. He had let loose a hollow laugh when they told him that and had been warned to behave. Well, he would cope; always had and always would. The only quandary he had was how to manipulate the woman.

He liked the notion of offering funds, even falsely, but recognized the infeasibility of such a suggestion, reluctantly acknowledging the numerous unwanted problems it would pose. Anyway, to do that he would have to find his voice. He always became incoherent when he was nervous. Words would jumble together in his mouth and emerge in the wrong order. It was the reason he had not engaged the Leonora in conversation. Leonora. As delightful a name as any he'd come across. Most of the casualties in his life had ordinary names: Margaret, Sylvia, and Mary. Those were the three he commemorated most in darker moments, each one thin as a rake, with eyes like pools. Like Leonora. Arthur covered his mouth with his hand to hide the excessive salivation.


'You mustn't worry, my dear,' Godfrey said. 'I'll see you're all right for ready cash. Leave everything to me.' He was helping Leonora return her haphazardly strewn belongings to her bag.
Arthur beheld a gold-coloured lipstick case rolling between a plastic cup and some cellophane biscuit wrappings. He was fascinated by it, for Leonora's lips were unadorned and he could not imagine her defacing them with tawdry paint. On the other hand, removing it could prove to be a lot more stimulating.

'Oh, dear,' exclaimed Leonora. 'I've just remembered where I left it.'

At that point Godfrey Hastings espied the lurching lipstick and retrieved it, presenting it to Leonora as if it was a nugget of real gold. Arthur's resentment rose up like bile when he saw the gratitude on her face.

'Thank you so much, Godfrey,' she said in her low, rich voice, its contralto timbre giving the impression that she was or had been a vocalist.

Arthur was captivated by it. He mused on the possibility that her screams would be musical and therefore so much nicer than the terror-stricken sort he’d grown used to hearing. He momentarily closed his eyes the better to imagine it.

Leonora dropped the lipstick inside the handbag and snapped it shut, offering the explanation almost apologetically, that she had placed the wallet by the mantel clock at her daughter's house while she looked for the ticket for the train. She had been distracted by her grand-daughter insisting she be picked up and nursed. In the event, she had forgotten it.

'Well, there you are,' Godfrey said. 'All's well that ends well.'

Godfrey fixed his probing sights on Arthur but swiftly re-established his concentration on Leonora. Arthur was excused the confusion of replying. In those few seconds, as he shrank from the fleeting inspection, it struck him that the man was familiar. But recall eluded him and he guessed he was mistaken.

Godfrey took a visiting card from the inner pocket of his navy suit. 'I'll withdraw enough cash to tide you over,' he said, handing the card to Leonora. 'There's my address and telephone number. I'll take my reward in kind.' He chortled and gripped Leonora's hand. She delivered a sumptuous giggle as if she was a teenager on a first romantic date.

She did, after all, live entirely alone.
Not even a dog to defend her

For the rest of the journey Arthur was besieged by despondency as Leonora Deloitte chattered about the holiday she'd had with her daughter and son-in-law, five grandchildren and a dog. She didn’t care for the dog, she said, would never have one herself, although she admitted a pet was good for youngsters. Leonora talked exclusively to Godfrey as if Arthur was but a travelling ghost. Though she did occasionally glance in his direction, at his hands, she did not once raise her eyes to his. He spent much of the time trying to visualize how her lips would look when painted. Older lips looked grotesque when highly coloured. On her scarlet might be appealing.

He meddled with the square card he'd rescued from the floor, thrilled that he'd had the sense to pocket it instead of handing it over. Surreptitiously, he glanced at it, scanning an address in Hermitage Road. Residence of Deloitte, it grandly proclaimed, in gold.

'Five!' exclaimed Godfrey. 'You don't look old enough to have five grandchildren.'

Arthur silently agreed. Though the outward signs were that Leonora Deloitte was old enough, she possessed a genteel manner that defied age. It showed in those extraordinary dark eyes. Such a contrast to his mother.

The disclosure that she was going home to an empty house inspired Godfrey to ask if she was a widow. Leonora's eyes misted again when she conceded that she had been alone for twenty years. Exactly the length of time since Arthur lost his mother. He wanted to tell her that. But he couldn't, his mouth would never manage the words. In any case, her attention was rooted to the comically stout intruder who, for all his portliness, knew how to hook a woman with spontaneous chitchat.

Leonora peered through the window. She had not liked that last, lengthy tunnel. She had imagined the seedy little man making a grab for her, his heavily veined, dirty hands seizing her by the throat. But Godfrey's hand brushing hers had reassured her that she was safe.

Arthur stood up, lurching as the swaying train arrived at their destination. He picked up his hat and positioned it on his head. Having no luggage to collect, he just stood there waiting for the train to stop.

'Travelling light, are you?' boomed Godfrey.

Arthur nodded and looked away, finalising his strategy. He would leave the train first, linger on the platform until they passed. Then he would follow. Godfrey Hastings couldn’t protect her all day … and she did, after all, live entirely alone. Not even a dog to defend her.

'Here, Leonora, let me help you with your coat,' Godfrey said, readily taking up the crimson garment. Another whiff of spicy fragrance was released as he held it behind her like a matador's cape.

'Birmingham New Street,' came the guard's announcement. 'Please be careful bridging the gap between the platform and the train.'


By the time Godfrey and Leonora left the train, Arthur was studying the contents of the vending machine. He selected a chocolate snack bar and inserted coins in the appropriate slot. He could have pretended to be procuring something, but he was by now extremely hungry. It had been hours since he had a proper meal and the arrowroot biscuits he'd eaten on the train had made no inroads into his hunger. Clutching the chocolate, he leaned on the machine and watched Leonora teetering on silly stilettos beside her escort. Hurriedly, which suited Arthur's schedule. The sooner her monetary crisis was sorted, the sooner she would be free to travel home. Gleefully, Arthur tore the wrapper from the snack bar. The blue paper fluttered down to the dusty platform. Like a child, he stuffed the whole bar in his mouth … the chocolate would run down his chin and his mother would be furious if she could see.  At that moment he didn't care. He had other things on his mind.

Ahead, at the entrance to the escalator, he saw Leonora sailing through, her hand resting lightly on Godfrey's arm. A beautiful slut, thought Arthur, chomping the snack bar as he moved quickly in the same direction. There must have been a dozen people between him and them yet he could easily pick them out by her red coat and his fair hair. Arthur gripped the rail as the escalator glided steadily upwards. He almost lost them in the station's main precinct when a crowd of high-spirited football supporters surrounded him, claret and blue scarves waving like streamers as they jostled for a place at the exit. Arthur panicked, thinking his plan had been foiled, but then he saw the red coat half-way up a second ascending escalator. Holding his hat in place, he ran, jubilantly, towards the subsequent bank of moving stairs.

She looked exquisite, standing there.
Mother would have adored her

One eye on Arthur Mott, Godfrey withdrew the money from the machine in the wall. He had known who he was as soon as he saw him board the train. He had been partly responsible for the man's incarceration after the dreadful murder of the prostitute, Patsy Musewell, in Small Heath Park. The morning papers had reported the news of Arthur's release only that morning: Ex-Banker's Sentence at an End. The report had gone on to describe Arthur Mott as formerly a smart intellectual, held in great esteem by his profession until his mother died and the man slipped into decline. Typical of newspapers to publish the man's antecedents before he was barely out of Walton Jail. Godfrey had resolved that while he was on the train he would watch him like a hawk and that was how he came to locate him sharing a carriage with one female occupant. Godfrey had been mighty troubled when he glimpsed the rapt look on his face. That's why he barged in like he did.

Leonora's polite cough stemmed his thinking and he turned to see her noting the time by her watch. Bygone police practices had driven her predicament completely from his mind. Noticing her anxiousness, he wondered again about the absurdity of giving money to a complete stranger. He'd have been stripped of his stripes if he'd been so daft in the old days. But he had a good feeling about Leonora. He trusted her. And he liked her a lot.

Movements beyond caught his eye. Two constables on the prowl, one redoubtable individual, bearing the hallmark of a long-serving copper, the other innocent and fresh: a slight-framed, bit-of a-kid rookie, just right for tackling the inhuman Arthur Mott should the need arise. 'Excuse me a tick, Leonora,' he said. 'There's a man over there I must have a word with. Will you wait for me here? And don't fret about getting home. I'll order a taxi.' Maintaining covert surveillance on Arthur, who was hiding behind a picture stall, naively believing he couldn't be seen, Godfrey scurried towards the two coppers.

Arthur laughed, rejoicing over his success. His plan had worked. Leonora was alone, scanning her watch and peering anxiously after the Hastings man. He wanted to yell at her that she had seen the last of him. The last of anybody, come to that. Very soon. Why didn't she walk away, he asked himself, wondering if he ought to make his presence known. But he preferred the concept of tailing her. The element of surprise was more exciting. She looked exquisite, standing there. Mother would have adored her. She liked thin women, being grossly fat herself, and often urged him to marry one. He might have, if he hadn't grown accustomed to mother's corpulence shrouding him in sleep, her podgy hands clutching him, thick lips beseeching his dormant parts to wake. Yes, she liked thin women, but thin women didn't like her, and it annoyed him that his mother's desires were unfulfilled; accordingly, after her death, by a process of selective slaughter, he had satisfied her needs.

Hoping her loitering would not be misinterpreted by staff inside the building society, Leonora stood inside the doorway. The area was dreadfully crowded. People dashed in all directions: passengers with suitcases and shoppers lugging bulky plastic bags. She could smell the dampness on people's coats as they hustled by. Rain. And she wasn't wearing a mac. A long-haired mongrel dog of indeterminate parentage paused briefly to sniff a Malteser box, then snorted as if disgusted by its emptiness before scampering on its way.

She had totally lost sight of Godfrey. She longed to get away but she had yet to make arrangements to return the cash. A black girl stopped at the cash machine, tossing her silky hair out of the way as she confidently punched in her numbers. Oh for the assurance of youth, thought Leonora, who had no aptitude for technical contraptions. Taking Godfrey's visiting card from her bag, she examined it and tried to recall exactly where Northfield was. An appreciable distance, she imagined, from Solihull, and probably the opposite direction. Nevertheless, she had his number. She could ring and quickly rectify the situation, whatever he thought of her for disappearing.

Arthur’s heartbeats were like tom-toms as he watched her advance towards the exit ramp that would take her to New Street from where, presumably, she would head towards home. Her coat bounced around her slender, though shapely calves, her hips swaying like a model's as she sashayed past the health food shop. He struggled with the disorder in his pants, recognising the need for control if he was to beget another offering for Mother. The best he'd netted to date. Why, even he could fancy her.

His courage rapidly returning, Arthur glided down the ramp and veered into New Street, his eyes fixed on the swinging red coat. And the added, useful accessory: a red scarf with white dots, half on, half off her hair. Unconsciously, he flexed his hands, tugging taut the imaginary ends, enthusiastically blessing the rain.

The crowd had moderated and he had no difficulty keeping tabs on her. She twisted round once, surveying the street. He thought she might have seen him but she was merely monitoring the traffic prior to crossing the road. Not that it mattered if she did see him, he had as much right to be here as she did, but if she saw him now that terminating jolt of bewilderment and incredulity that possessed his victims at the end would be forfeited.

After navigating a course through the queues of buses and taxis waiting at the lights, Arthur slowed almost to a halt. Ahead of him Leonora was contemplating the display in Principles' window. She looked weary. He chuckled contentedly, feeling certain it would not be long before he could administer a permanent cure.

She tried to fight the fear, reasoning that her imagination was playing tricks

Clutching the scarf that refused to stay in place, Leonora followed the window round so that she was concealed from the road, yet her view of it was unimpeded. She had been so sure she was being watched that she needed to check it out. Then she saw that awful man from the train, staring at the site she'd just vacated, not even bothering to mask his interest. She saw him shove his hand inside his grey jacket, lift the scruffy jersey and slowly release a narrow, black leather belt until it hung by its buckle from his waist like a snake waiting to strike.

Alarm bristled like cactus spines, punching a warning at her brain. Beware. She realized she'd been spotted, the odious man was eyeing her through the window, toying with the buckle of his belt. He began to shuffle towards her, his face contorting in a hideous leer. Leonora's panic surged, swelling up like an eruption of boiling lava. She felt she would faint if she didn't get away. She tried to fight the fear, reasoning that her imagination was playing tricks, asking herself why she should feel so threatened, telling herself that nothing could happen to her in a public place. She attempted to pull herself together, relating her consternation to the man's obvious dirty-mindedness, a factor she so abhorred. The reasoning did not work. As Arthur Mott drew near, she retreated until her backside touched the frame of the shop door. She jumped at the unexpected contact. Certain she was being attacked from behind, she screamed, cries rising from the pit of her stomach like a welling spring and emerging from her throat like a salvo of ear-piercing howls.

Some passers-by gawked inquiringly, others swerved sharply away. No-one came to her aid.

Leonora's feet were welded to the ground, her knuckles white as she gripped the door handle. He was only yards away, his colourless face distorted, hooked nose almost meeting twisted mouth, pupils enlarged with impatience. As if witnessing something in a dream, Leonora saw him release the belt from the waistband of his trousers. She became mesmerized by a snag in the material running from his fly to his left hand pocket. A drawn thread, looped in places. She heard children laughing in the distance, but couldn't tear her gaze away. The belt swung like a pendulum as he neared.

A youngster begged his mother to look at the strange man with a strap in his hand. He was sharply ordered to come away.

The incident distracted Leonora. Her common sense returned. Shaking her head, she paced back, intending to demand the use of the shop's phone. But she didn’t need it. There was a sudden tableau of flying bodies. Godfrey Hastings and a boyish policeman, brandishing a truncheon, had entered like Mounties in a movie, overpowering Arthur and pinning him to the slippery ground.

Godfrey didn’t shout, he merely said, 'Got you, Arthur Mott,' as he hauled the puny man to his feet, thrusting him at the young officer, who quick as lightning slapped handcuffs on the man's wrist. Arthur squealed like stuck pig as he struggled within the policeman's grasp. Leonora trembled, her relief so heartfelt she was sapped of all her strength.


Later, in a coffee shop, sheltered from the world and its psychopaths, Godfrey's hand covering hers, Leonora listened to Godfrey outlining Arthur Mott's criminal history, though he benevolently apportioned blame to Arthur's mother: an overweight, oversexed woman with cross-grained chromosomes. According to Godfrey, Arthur had no spunk. His pitiful attempts to stand up to his mother resulted in physical and mental bruising until, in the end, her terrible dominance and his frantic desire to please, drove him to kill, believing the mutilation of the women she had so hankered after in life would indulge her in death.

Leonora quaked, remembering the earnest scrutiny on the train, those rheumy eyes, the twitching hands and fingers that curled, guessing he had decided to kill her. It would have been so easy to overpower her and wrap his hands around her throat. The reality of the situation eluded her as she imagined how easily he could have overpowered her when she was hedged in that doorway. No-one would have taken any heed. Others had been killed in broad daylight. She shook as the horror recurred of that awful, insane moment when she was sure she was going to die. It took a while for her mind to clear and to realise that such a thing couldn’t happen in a public place.

'Now, dear lady,' Godfrey said, 'There's no need to be scared any more. It's been quite a day, but there have been good bits. Certainly there were good bits for me. Meeting you, Leonora, was like emerging from a dark cave onto a sunny beach and basking in the warmth.'

Leonora blushed as she regarded him, loving his style and liking what she saw, admiring the friendly blue eyes and the blonde lashes that fanned his cheeks when he blinked. Was it possible they had only met that day? The image of Arthur Mott slowly crumbled as the prospect of running her fingers through the tight spirals of hair filled her soul, the need to unwind one and watch it spring back into place so essential it was like a pleasant pain. She was comfortable in his company; she thought she could be snug and protected in his bountiful arms. 'I'll try to put the bad bits behind me, Godfrey,' she said.

Godfrey chucked her under the chin and murmured affectionately, 'That's my girl.'


Composed and unemotional, Arthur Mott waited in the interview room. So what if his scheme had been thwarted, it was only a temporary setback. The police could interrogate him all they liked, but they couldn't detain him for long without charging him, and they couldn't do that because he hadn’t committed a crime. Watching a woman didn’t constitute an offence, not when it was a one-off incident. Certain of early liberation, Arthur sat upright on the wooden chair and stared at the officer by the door. It was only a matter of time before he could continue his quest. Go for the kill. He palmed the white card and removed it from his pocket, keeping it below the level of the table so the supervising copper wouldn’t see. He read the gold print again: Hermitage Road, Solihull. Residence of Deloitte, where, by Leonora's own admission, she lived entirely alone. Not even a dog to defend her.

Of course, we all know that