“My, what have you there young Leonardo?”

“Oh this pater? In short it is a flamethrower that I have just invented. I take the view that it may not just speed up the process of cooking yet will I believe come in most useful in times of war. In point of fact as soon as the idea for construction of this brainchild of a contraption struck me I put both the project of manned flight and I might add my idea for a hamster’s treadmill on the back burner. Mind you, the concept of a microwaveable apparatus is formulating in my mind even as I speak.”

“The thing is Leonardo that by the looks of it it has the appearance of a thing that might just be a tad safer in the hands of an adult.”

“Well pater, that is exactly what mater said earlier whilst you were about your duties in town. Unfortunately when testing the flamethrower I took out her herbaceous borders and she was none too pleased I can tell you.”

“And where is mater now?”

“Ah, mater is quite safe I believe, for in order to calm her I made her a cup of another of my new ideas, namely a holistic infusion of Senokot herbal tea. In truth I may have fortified her vessel with a pinch too much Senna for, presently she sits in the lavvy with the door shut muttering, ‘God help me.’ Do hope mater pulls through.”

“Leonardo, in which of our multiplicity of lavvy’s is mater sat?”

“Oh, one of the outside ones – indeed that very one by the gazebo there.”

“What the one you are pointing your flamethrower at?”

“Yes that one – whoops. Oh dear a combination of flame I accidentally threw her way and mater’s gaseous bottom emissions have proven to be the end of her. Hell of an explosion though! Still I have had an idea buzzing about in my head for some little time now for a new-fangled reincarnation device. Best get to work then pater. Catch up with you over tiffin.”




Once, long ago, upon a violation of a borderline and in a land of little consequence, at a time when all there was to eat was mostly last season’s dwindling stock of pickled cucumbers and red cabbage, plus sometimes, just sometimes a soupçon of stale bread, a small child either stole or rescued a mandolin.

Certainly there was a more than a little confusion as to motive about the child as she dislodged the instrument from the frozen bespectacled corpse of an old man unassumingly curled up upon the softest mattress of new born primroses on the edge of the woodlands. Whatever, the rakish thin girl of jet black matted, greasy locks and overly pink cheeks, ran homeward bound intent upon showing her prize off to her family, such as her ‘family’ was. If the truth be told, her big sister, late of the tribal home, an accomplished self-taught musician who could get a tune out of just about anything from a hacksaw blade to a grand piano was the child’s preferred destination. Besides, her mother would have berated her, assuming the instrument was born of the spoils of theft. Sadly, the patriarch of the house had gone ‘missing’.

You see, all the men and boys in the small town where she lived had been taken away to places unknown by pitiless soldiers or shot by firing squad, their limp bodies dumped into a colossal open grave they themselves had been forced to dig.  All that was left were babes in arms, little ones, mothers and mother’s, mothers.  Remarkably, in the circumstances, all the teenage girls and young women, in the safe hands of the good priest and the local bus driver, had escaped as refugees en-masse to a safer, neutral country upon advanced news reaching them of the intended invasion. That is, save for the girl with the pink cheeks big sister, a grown up version of the smaller one, save for not having overly pink cheeks, the beautiful Aoede.

Aoede, a rebellious, chaotic young lady, had inevitably and in contravention of long since determined parental command regarding matters of urgency, been too busy painting her toenails silver and thus missed her passage to safety upon the rickety, yet serviceable old bus with all the others. It was thus her mother sent Aoede into the densest forest to live rather than have her daughter at risk of a fate worse than death at the hands of the oppressors.  Luckily for her she knew the best, unfathomable to outsiders, nooks and crannies in the woods within which to lose oneself.

Her little sister, a wise one, was well aware of all the secret hiding places amongst the trees and caves. It took little time for her to discover Aoede’s lair. Not that she was being entirely honest, yet when Aoede made idle mention to her sibling that it was her birthday did the child, albeit with invisible reluctance, decide to gift her the mandolin.

For the next five years Aoede remained in her wildwood shelter living off her wits and natures furtive harvests. During this period the rescued mandolin had ensured her sanity remained intact. Indeed, she had composed a mystical masterpiece, a piece she entitled ‘A Requiem for the Disappeared’. A composition regularly performed to the satisfaction of an audience of owls and furry mammals, often at their express request.

Cruel as Old Father Time can be, sometimes he relents, makes to heal rather than wound. It was thus that from the New Lands, across the giant ocean, came an army of good men, so big and powerful that the oppressors, cowards at heart, bullies in deed, fled to the place from whence they came.

He was on a reconnaissance mission checking that the entirety of the enemy had vacated the area when he stumbled quite buy chance into Aoede, sat cross-legged in a clearing, ensconced in her music.   Dumbstruck he, the young soldier smoking a fat Havana, closed his eyes and waited, absorbing every last note of Aoede’s requiem until her perfect performance was over. It was only then that she stood up, only then that she became aware of his presence. Everything was still in the forest when the soldier from the New Lands thought to open his eyes.  To his astonishment, before him not just the dazzling girl holding her mandolin, but also, encircling her as if they were her part of her, her aura perhaps, the pasty ghosts of a multitude of weeping, mournful countrymen. Too soon they dissipated, were gone.  The saddest thing he thought, yet split-second unforeseen death renders the living immune from emotion for an instant, until the time comes when all souls, whether lost or found, shed inevitable heartache, salty tears.

Soldier boy, mesmerized by Aoede, overwhelmed with her plainsong; enthralled beyond measure with both took it upon himself to ensure she was aware she was now in safe hands. Never one backward in coming forward, an endearing trait many of his own kind shared, he took from his rucksack nylon stockings and ‘mild as May’ toasted tobacco cigarettes; offered them to her. Not that she had a need for either she accepted his gift gratefully, smiled her best comme il faut smile and followed on behind to pastures new.

Several decades later in a bedroom encased within the grandest of townhouses in the metropolis that is New York City a now very old widow, originally from a land of little consequence, passed away peacefully in her sleep. At her bedside a rescued mandolin and a photograph album chronicling the loving life and spectacular times she had shared with a cigar smoking American.



Come the withering seasons night-time mists

in the days before fiery invention

the blackness of wide open spaces conjured up bogus beliefs

credible magic, stark fear and worthy legends

sugared coated by the storyteller and heirs apparent

the whole of history was in narrative, in those times before

the wonderment of pigments and dyes captured the spoken word


as forest myth bewitched willing ears and eyes

the safe birthing of twins, folklore and fiction was assured

the then known world, yet to evolve into a fertile, multi-coloured globe

just a perilous expanse of level smallness, at the far reaches of which one could tumble

over the edge, into the wide worthless yonder, never to be spoken of in confidence again

some, the foolish or the explorer’s fell, those out of the ordinary, were driven over by the perturbed


to the music of pan pipes and castanets, from the mountains The Satyr came

a cortege of blowzy immodest petticoats followed in the shameless dance

would later scatter, darkest corner shadow bound, dismissed, undesired

as he shared rough wine, later the pleasures of the daring one, The Sorceress

in a storm of furious passion never to abate, his reputation for wantonness intact

such was the way of romantic blending of sweet charlatan and ithyphallic fable


be it mirror, fever or heart that broke

The Storyteller had heard say that

The Sorceress could mend as if by sleight of hand

make whole again scattered fragments

make better the curse of bestowed perfection

it was only then around campfire or in cave

The Storyteller, who relished in trial and error had

his ‘all-ears’ lucrative gallery craving for more



Ambiguity tortures the crazy

Conundrums amuse fly-by-nights

One episode of doubt in a biplane

A precursor to reading last rites

Some squirrel away the whole truth

In favour of telling white lies

Yet to the devil’s own precious daughter

A crucifix a fool proof disguise

Wide spaces house the very best illusions

Darkened rooms a haven for the distressed

In this incomplete jigsaw of human fragility

The missing pieces represent the repressed

A ticket for a voyage on the Lusitania

Maybe trumps Mardi Gras ritual feast?

Either way we are all Times own quarry

At the final kill we all end up deceased



in a dream, within a dream, within a nightmarish restless sleep

I saw visions ‘long ago’ as current, yet all things present lost in quantum leap

back in time, then further back, when all was crystal clear

then as yesterday is to tomorrow, I lost core reflections once held dear

congregation’s congregating, while on a gravestone we made artless love

they were praying for things outside His gift, while we touched heaven above

she came to faraway conclusions, as we spoke of days ahead

sharing a joint and laughing, spilling red wine on the new bedspread

so soon my fate was in her hands, yet she sat there babbling, playing dumb

plaiting Valkyrie blondest pig tails, whilst chewing, chewing gum

in the age before time was precious, flight of fancy defined our vital spark

glorious those days of milk and honey, where anything goes after dark

when falling into or out of love, we are all victims of a precious truth

of letting slip from memory, so swift to empty is the fountain of youth

time’s tyranny and ravages come to haunt when nearing journeys end

comforting to know she remains my matchless lover and forever, my best friend


society 1

The raw cleric dressed as diva, in the shining privacy of the night

Trades in his pleated vestments, for a little black dress oh so tight

In drag he feels empowered, well, more empowered than he felt before

Wishes he could travel downtown, take to the glitzy dancing floor

At the gallery of see-through vagabonds, an oil painting catches his anxious eye

The scene set, an open door prison cell, within an ‘in chains’ toughest guy

Climbing into the abstract, as those groomed of Mother Church oft times do

He exits the unlocked cell door, waves a last goodbye in a bid to start anew

On the other side of his old life, an avant-garde run riot party in full swing

The hostess, an undressed painted lady, at her feet a cowering sweetest plaything

She says she plants glass perennials, shares sacred water with the dumb priest

Fixes a dog lead to his dog collar, keeps him as her dearest, new favourite male beast

Her best friend, dressed as a circus clown, with a head full of darkest dreams

Wants the hostess as her life time roommate, yet she is falling apart at the seams

Life is born upon primordial recollection, all before that, just a vivid bland void

Yet when in love with a Don Juan lookalike, such confession makes for the paranoid

In the auditorium, as saints to an orgy, Hell’s own monster delivers his speech

Unlike the priest, he fires up an angry mob, yet never once does he deign to preach

The tribalism provoked by national anthems, troubles the thinkers who hunt alone

The ones who believe in the nothingness, the ones who would never cast first stone

The priest delves into perceived reverence, wonders where it all went so very wrong

His conclusion, as an ‘as of now’ enslaved escapee, a choir of fallen angels without a song



spy girl 2

A silent interrogation, she sat impassive playing schtum

‘They’ offered her a cigarette, she pointed toward the chewing gum

‘They’ placed a loaded gun across the table, there were no words left to say

She retrieved it, murmured foul obscenities, then she blew her brains away 

An unconvincing protagonist, he was likely the last to know of her fate. Read her obituary quite by chance, sat alone thumbing through the café owners copy of The Times. He rarely sought out the obituaries.  Given the foul weather, no point in checking the runners and riders, all the race meetings across length and breadth of the country had been abandoned, that, coupled with the fact that politicians, murderers and natural disasters seemed to have been at rest the previous day, meant there was little else of possible distraction.

It took another Expresso in order to refresh his memory, well, that was his excuse. In truth he needed a moment to devour not quite buried memories.   He could visualize her plain as day; her catalogue of smiles for each and every occasion that compensated for coldest blue eyes that rarely spoke, bleached blond hair that hinted at her roots in more ways than one; the exclusive taste of her kiss; every last supernatural inch of her body and yes, her merciless intolerance of fools. Echoes and visions of a long since erstwhile lover as crystal clear as the tears he would save for the privacy of the fireside.

A brace of superpowers and a most ladylike assassin who would play Cold War games with both KGB and MI5. The fact that it was an intoxicatingly risky business and, of course, one of financial gain, her only motivation. ‘She made love with such notions in mind also’, a wry smile induced of passing thought.

Back home, by the time his fourth cognac frazzled his brain, common sense loosened its grip and finally set him free, flashbacks flooding in as if rising waters to the Lock at Teddington quite near to where he lived, as he recalled their first pairing.  Buenos Aires, not long after the end of the war. He, in union with Mossad agents hunting down the Nazi, Josef Mengele, she, although never disclosing her paymaster, also. With the British Ambassador out playing polo, the marble floor of his office at the British Embassy a unique, yet enticingly risqué spot for bluest intimacy and to get the taste for more of the same…she never did find that misplaced diamond earring. With regret, and a little shame he reflects that their subsequent perpetual night and day carnal escapades played some part in neither of them ever tracking down the Angel of Death.

From there on, sometimes of common purpose, other times in direct competition their relationship cemented across the great cities, London, Paris, New York, Rome, Moscow and Prague. He recalls she had, on the back page of her diary, a map of the world upon which she ‘ticked’ off the places they had revelled in each other’s ‘company’. Their list of cloak and dagger rendezvous read like the labels on an old cabin trunk. One thing was for certain though, whatever ‘love’ there may have been, was always one always left unsaid. Indeed, he knew there was a genuine love of sorts twixt the pair of them, yet for reasons self-evident a thing that could never be an open secret.

The last time they met? Easy, the memory a daily preoccupation if the truth be told. Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, a freezing fog night, November 1961. Bear hugs and kisses to a backdrop of floodlights and incandescent torches. It was then, as she reluctantly detached herself, in order to head off east of the Wall, she had told him she had an assignment in Texas; Dallas to be precise and might be off the radar for some time. It had not taken him too long to establish her likely target. All these years gone, he thought she had got away with it. Plainly not the case. Regardless, he had seen neither hide nor hair of her since that night. He had often wondered why the fall guy? Just who had authorized, and the motive for that particular ‘hit’.

She played the long game with the Soviets, preferred ‘kiss and tell’ for passé MI5

Spoke of just ‘this and that’ with the Americans, yet for nearly two decades she stayed alive

He was minded to attend her funeral in Vienna. In the event he thought better of that idea.






‘They’ fed him sedatives to stave off mania yet the delusions continued unabated. Even now, in his cramped garret, by lone candlelight he sits perched on his unmade bed and worries. Worrying has come to be of second nature lately. A worrying born of a heart that had never contemplated a sleeve. Regardless, and in hope it would not cause more misgivings, he feels compelled to read the book the deranged mademoiselle of eventide had handed him in exchange for a plastic cup of hot chocolate, a croissant and a trivial kiss.

The Rough Guide to Life by authors unknown, edited at Constantine’s behest spoke of little that held any interest, little that failed to bore this isolated one, certainly nothing to confirm that any answer was ‘blowing in the wind’, no matter what the maestro himself had alluded to in song. Mild fascination as to the transformation of mortal to divine sparked a thought or two, thoughts swiftly dismissed as erratic, impossible even. Life, he concludes, is a simple thing when one can digest the obvious, the proven and leave upon a side plate the contrived.

The benevolent, yet hardly infallible Angels, would seek to trump one another to further their careers, after all they began their eternal quest as mere messengers twixt all things ethereal and terra firma, quite the drabbest of legends.  As for ‘miracles’ he read, ‘stroke of luck’, nothing more.

Turning the last page, he groans, shakes his head, then, defacing the tome, pens the words, ‘We live; we die within the flawed universe of all things, that is all’, then places the book atop dust laden chronicles upon the highest, rarely visited shelf.

His attempts to settle down for the night thwarted as ever by the tedium of inconsequential train of thought. A mental note to self, ‘Must swap twilight and candles for an electric lamp’. Come morning he knows this plan, as with most others will be forgotten until the next time.

What had the crazed girl who had given him the book whispered in his ear? Yes, that was it, ‘Au moment où que vous arrivez à la fin, vous comprendrez qu’un orgasme records une épiphanie n’importe quel jour de la semaine’ roughly translated, ‘By the time you get to the end you’ll understand that an orgasm bests an epiphany any day of the week’ insofar as his dismal understanding of the French language could fathom. He wonders what that has to do with the price of eggs.

3AM, finally dropping off, he hears first the burning thump of footsteps on the rickety stairs, then the ‘life and death’ ceaseless fist pummelling upon his door. A nightshirt pulled over his head in haste, holds the door ajar just a little; fears for his being just a little also. Catches a glimpse of ‘book gift’ girl from before looking more akin to a soaked to the skin celestial treasure than Pigalle whore now.

‘You followed me? Waited outside in the pissing rain until you couldn’t wait any longer?’  She nods the affirmative nod, smiles a hesitant smile. ‘Suppose you better come in.’

He hands her his shameless soiled bath towel. Blasé, she undresses, wipes the rain away. Looks for somewhere to dry her wet clothes, the back of a tired wooden chair with arms is all there is. There is no impudence in her taking to his bed of her own accord. His introspective eyes glued to her all the way, he says not a word; a short lived reticence then squeezes in beside her.  The bed is only really big enough for one.  Under her breath, a low, deliciously accented voice murmurs a soft lullaby she has contrived in his mother tongue.

From the scorched ashes of a fire in the belly, no passion, no yearning, no first cause

His get up and go selfless lover, she dances for him yet requires not his applause

Counterfeit the presents she gifts him, counterfeit her claim of love, a love misplaced

To the click of her fingers he surrenders, then two bodies as one now interlaced

Come daybreak she was never there.




A Tale for Small People & Aging Juveniles

The soundest of sleeps, a slumber not of the type enjoyed by those of us consigned to the mortal world, annoyingly disturbed. A child? At least he thinks the voice that bellows so is that of an overly expectant child. Whatever, his Dark Age final resting place enigma has finally been unravelled it seems. ‘Botheration’, his passing thought.  Regardless, it is thus he descends, not without a certain reticence and more than a little difficulty (he was, after all born 1267 years previous), the still formidable ‘reach to the heavens’ Pine of Barenton.

“It is you isn’t it?” asks the youngster, she of unkempt blackest hair and rumpled rags.

“Depends upon who you mean by ‘you’ young lady.”

“Merlin, you must be Merlin…you have to be Merlin…please, please, please be Merlin. Your pet owl Ambrose told me I might find you here.” There are notes of distress in the child’s sniffling plea/come question.

“Ambrose you say. How is the old chap by the way, faring well I trust?”

“Ambrose is very well indeed, but that’s not why I am here…and sorry I woke you up…didn’t mean to, had no choice really. So you genuinely are Merlin then?”

“Yes, that is who I am.  Well then child this better be important, I was in the middle of the most splendid shapeshifting dream…anyhow, do you answer to a name young lady?”

“It is very important, very important indeed…and I do have a name; my name is Niviane”

“Niviane! I knew a Niviane once a long, long time ago. She broke my heart as it happens, still that’s of little consequence now,” the mumblings of the time honoured wizard, then with the come easy rattling gusto of the geriatrics anywhere and everywhere, “Spit it out then Niviane, don’t beat about the bush girl.”

“Well…not sure where to start…”

“For God’s sake child for pities sake just start!”

“Well, the world’s gone mad, really, really mad.”

“‘Twas ever thus…nothing new in that.”

“No, this time it’s gone absolutely bonkers and frankly I have no idea what to do about it. I am so very worried you see everybody is fighting one another. They fight each other because some think their skin colour is better than the rest, and sometimes they are even killing each other with guns over it!  You probably don’t know what guns are being so old and decrepit but let’s just say they are worse than swords or even the dreaded dragon’s breath…and my mum said only the return of a legend can save us all…you’re a legend aren’t you?”

“I suppose I’ve had my legendary moments in my time, but what can I do…my track record when it comes to bringing peace to the world is nothing to shout home about, you’ve only got to remember the demise of Camelot and you’ll understand what I mean. I am… or should I say was…merely a magician by trade, nothing more…cast a spell here, cast a spell there, that’s all. What do you want of me?”

“I’ve thought about this a lot. I want you to do your wizard thingy and turn everyone the same colour. I like sky blue personally but don’t mind any colour really. Then I reckon you could do a special spell to turn their hair the same colour as well just to be on the safe side. Pointless having the same skin but different hair…do the ginger kids a favour as well that would. Once they are all the same they’ll have nothing to fight about see. You can do that can’t you?”

“What a clever gal you are Niviane.  Changing the colour of things is my speciality…I’ve changed more bouquets of white roses to red one’s for Arthur to gift Gwen back in the day than you’ve had hot dinners. Let’s see…yes, silver skin and sky blue hair for one and all, a doddle.  There, job done.”

“You didn’t do anything!”

“Go look at yourself in the still waters of the lake Niviane…you’ll see.”

Niviane does indeed see, “Wow, that’s amazing…everyone in the world is now silver with sky blue hair?”

“That’s about the strength of it…pleased?”

“Oh yes, and I almost forgot mum said if I found you I have to say that I’m your Great, great, great, great, great, great……well, can’t remember how many greats…great granddaughter.”

“Well knock me down with a feather…so then Niviane you’re in my blood line, best you have this old wand of mine to work your own magic with…I’m off for a long kip now…see you again one day.” 

(Legend has it that Merlin once had a thing for Niviane’s Great, Great, Great etc. Grandmother)