That he was fixated with the plight of the ephemeral effect of the eclipse twixt light source, person and backdrop that constituted his ‘shadow’ an indicator as to the onset of his lunacy. He knew full well it was unjust that his shadow was dependent upon a visible sun, the family of fire or a light bulb for its precarious existence. However, he took comfort in the knowledge that his shadow would live on after his death until such time as his body was encased or incinerated.

Once upon a midwinter’s evening walking alone, as ever in sorrowful drink, a bizarre scene came alive, for notwithstanding his mental deterioration he inadvertently stumbled in his stupor upon what he would soon discover was an unearthly niche beyond prediction.  On the face of it, a towering vintage painted billboard was all it was, in a place he had either forgotten existed or one he had never chanced upon previous.  Try as best he could, the purpose of the hoarding was quite beyond him. No marketing slogans, no scent.  All his perplexed eyes could focus upon was merely an outlandish interior, a timeless drawing room by any other name.

Access to the high above, two-dimensional face of the structure was by a deflated grandest marble staircase that defied both logic and modern science. With all the Dutch courage he could muster, he took it upon himself to go forth, to climb up and climb into a room without a view. Once ensconced within and now at one with the canvas he, out of idle curiosity, felt compelled to open an ornate hinged door to God knows where. It led to a great chamber, clearly once the ceremonial centre of the household, although the furnishings were fewer than one would normally expect and frugal also, save for the giveaway glinting enormous crystal chandelier.

In the diary he penned during his subsequent internment in Bedlam he asserts, “I recall pausing, taking in the extraordinary setting that had unfolded.  Within, I found a perfectly formed young lady of flowing bittersweet locks and scurrying chestnut brown eyes, wearing just a butterfly jet black bowtie.  Uncommonly, given her state of undress, she was reverentially curled up upon a settee. A lonely pair of crimson high heeled shoes discarded on the floor beside her. Although for all intents and purposes stark naked she was seemingly blissfully immune to that aspect of social etiquette.  Opposite her, perched decorously in her pin striped business suit, sat upon a plain wooden upright chair, the ripest, yet still stunningly beautiful alpha-female of a certain age. The pair seemed to either have chosen to ignore my presence or else were unware of it. Regardless, they were, I noted, in deep discussion. Eavesdropping, I ascertained that the illusion of depth of space in art and the worth of wasps come autumns windfall fermenting apples were the main topics under scrutiny.  

Inevitably, given that I had made no attempt to take cover my presence eventually came to their attention. The younger, bare-skinned one of the pairing alighted from the comfort of her settee to speak with me, asking if I was ‘the artist’. Somewhat bewildered I answered in the negative. Making note that I was struggling with her question she added, ‘So you’re not the one who painted us into this scene…not the one who, one might say, ‘created us?’ I confirmed I was not the person she had hoped I would be. ‘Can you paint by the way?’ her next question. Once more my answer was in the contrary. At this she explained that had I been of an artistic bent she would have requested of me that I paint her some clothes to wear, ‘I am sick and tired of this bowtie, I want some proper clothing’. The older lady interrupted at this juncture saying that she would have liked me to craft in oils a bed with satin sheets had I been the painter I am not. The both of them made mention of the lengths they would go to be blessed with a shadow each. Sadly, for them it was not to be. 

In the circumstances I felt it good manners to at least offer my white cotton shirt to the naked one. She was much shorter than me and it would serve to afford her a semblance of modesty. She gratefully accepted my offering and hoped I would not catch a head cold without the protection of the gifted shirt when homeward bound. Sadly, I had about my person nothing to donate to her companion.  

Kindly, they insisted I should stay within their planar projection of the physical universe, an offer I would have accepted save that it would have meant foregoing my shadow, a thing I could never let happen. I bid the ladies a fond farewell. Often I wonder how they have fared.”

In an attempt to remedy his malaise his keepers within the institution that was Bedlam had him secured in a windowless, darkened room kept forever apart from his beloved shadow.  As to his diary entry such things as ‘billboards and butterfly bowties’ were alien to the institutions physicians in the Year of Our Lord 1604.  They knew not what to make of his condition.





    1. Cheers Paul…Whittlings arrived yesterday morn, a galaxy of gifts is now in place. Had I had the sense I was born with, I’d have got you to sign this one. Next time around I will.

      1. My thanks, Paul. Appreciated beyond measure. I have the book in question gift wrapped already. With Christmas on the horizon I will order another of your books and would be over the moon (rather colloquial, my apologies) to have a signed copy. However, I must pay for it, thus supporting in my own small way a poets cause.

    1. A collapsed net! As you say, could be worse! Me, this is the 3rd attempt at a reply…WP has been freezing out my PC since yesterday. Dragging son from his work, he huffed, mumbled words I didn’t take in…got rid of Explorer (whatever that is) and set me up on Chrome (whatever that is also). Seems to work now…off to greet my plumber with a massive great pressurized cylinder (once more, whatever that is…certainly I could fit Shirl standing on tiptoes within it) he says we need to make our showers burst forth with warm water rather than suffer from the prostate trouble they are afflicted with presently. More money to the wind! Been a bad month in that regard, it was new roof on the little sunroom last week. The joys of a Victorian house!

    2. Mile, I never even got yir reply today, till I thought ..that ain’t Mike and came on here. WP was freezing me out too. We have such a shit signal here I thought it was that but not after all these hours. Reckon something was up. I could get on other sites no bother at all. Just could not comment, could not get a thing to load in my wp reader. Fine now. Ah Victorian houses. Calcutta-ish black holes. Mr and I were reminiscing earlier about our happy days in one. When we wore fur coats to bed, the water tank burst on New Year’s Eve…sadly all over the new kitchen it had taken 8 weeks to having had no floorboards in that bit of the house–the entrance no less- for weeks , oh and also when we had to climb out on the roof–one of the roofs, we had 3– many howling feet above sea level and sweep the snow off ere the entire structure collapsed into our strategically placed soup plates, tea cups and every other sodding thing we could lay frigging and also sodden never mind sodding, hands on to catch the running water. That being the time everyone else’s roofs in that terrace of ye ancient hooses came down. I will not go on because you might now lose heart and I should not like you to. But if you want the tale of the night the flashings blew of in the middle of a force whatever gale and water peed through our light fittings, etc etc, I will just say Iron in the soul!

      1. Your description as to WP are identical to mine – and eloquently put than my description yesterday! However, and thankfully George installed a thing called Google Chrome instead of Explorer and all is well again…I did pop back into Explorer where the problem with WP still persists. These things are beyond me, I glaze over just wanting things to work.
        It seems from what you say re Victorian houses that my cash drain isn’t over yet. Right now, after the plumber has finished today I have found solace in the dubious fact that the cash drain may at last be over…ho, bloody ho. This month, as I mentioned has been the worse money wise, not just this plumbing job that is costing upwards of 4 figures and the new sunroom roof, yet also the expense of literally the tiniest bit of pointing on above a top floor window…20 minutes’ work to a professional yet access to said spot demanding £500 of scaffolding…fortunately a brave Portuguese did the job without scaffolding…it goes on and on.
        We made a very healthy profit moving here…not much of it left now. Bollocks, and thrice bollocks.
        If you don’t spot me on FB for a little while it’s simply that I’m taking a break. Lately I am finding it a bit like reading the Daily Mail. Not all of it obviously, yet some things there either stress me too much; put me in a depressive state or simply make me angry (the political stuff especially), so rather than blow my top I thought a holiday from it will do me good. I shall close the link from my posts on WP for a while also.
        Have the most splendid day.

      2. Oh facebook is pretty crappy place Mike. I just keep it light. We are told as writers by our publishing co’s to do that. There I aye someone with a spew out opinion on everything. I got google chrome as well but it often crashes and fails to load so I just the old explorer. Bloody carry on wid drive ye for a cerry oot. Listen old houses are a money suck. We have lived in old houses for most of our married lives. Our older girl bought one and already there’s been tears. Of course they bought it with their hearts instead of their heads. They asked would we look at anything they wanted to buy cos in our time too we have looked at a pile of houses. Indeed it quite astonished me how many. But then they went and bought the bloody thing. Had they asked us I do think I would have flagged the patches of damp. I kind of know the diff between old dead damp where there has been a prob at some point and damp. I mean I am just the idiot who took on this present house knowing it was entirely run down and had had the shit kicked out of it so it was going cheap, but totally sound structurally–Edwardians are just ‘newer’ all round– and has put 20 grand on it in the two years we have been here without spending anything like that. . But no no no… Then of course there was the fact that the daughter’s house is right across from a pub and on a main road. Now needless to say the sky is falling… Also as you noticed less and less trades folk are prepared to just get on with it which you kind of need with old houses. I am sure once you do everything that needs done, these probs will peter out. But they are the things no-one tells you re Victorian houses x

      3. Yes, FB can be a bore sometimes, a source of stress other times…more so with my propensity to fall into traps…a short break should bring my boiling brain back to the simmer!
        You need a wizard of adolescence to set this Chrome thing up if possible…this PC, internet wise is running at twice the pace of Explorer – indeed perhaps I have been a little harsh on the high speed (what high speed?) broadband supplier.
        Isn’t it a complete bastard that old houses, when back in ‘working’ condition are so much nicer than new ones, yet make one bankrupt in the restoration process. It was such restoration of a Victorian house that certainly played a significant part in the breakdown of my first marriage all those years ago…well, that and me being u/s at anything practical, and in those days not having the money to employ others…well that, and the fact that if I wasn’t working I was either playing cricket, squash or taking up residence down the pub!
        Certainly hope things turn out OK for your offspring…the old ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ line comes to mind. Still with you and Mr S passing on the knowledge of experience I am sure all will be well, as Glen Hoddle says, ‘At the end of the day’!
        A pertinent, slightly coarse yet amusing analogy passed on to me by the ‘posh bloke’ Chairman of the finance house I worked for pre-PI days was the Tale of The Two Bulls. Two bulls, one old, the other young, were walking up a very steep hill. Atop the hill in a field were some lovely cows. The young bull says to the old bull, “Hey, let’s run up the hill and shag us a few cows” – the old bull replies, “Why not walk up and shag them all” – good advice to anyone rushing at a task, and apologies for this being on the cusp of crude, yet you get my drift. The older I get the more this silly old tale serves me well!

      4. Ha ha, brilliant joke. Mike I am sure you were meant to be wi Shirl, there yah go. I am sure the family will be ok. Of course now having seen the other girl’s hoose they want to move to the ferry . Alas they spend dosh like water so this is unlikely however one never knows. I have google chrome, I just am not that fond. I have to two, chrome and internet explore. Nae small cheese. a lot of our probs here are the lousy signal;. It affects everyone

      5. You know I find it odd…we’ve stayed all over France, often in places miles from nowhere, yet the internet always works a treat…really fast. Why cannot this broken UK have the self same thing? Now to sleep…insomnia recovery time…hopefully!

      6. Christ knows. Know what makes me laugh? We live in an internet hotspot. Yes… I think they mean we get frigging hot under the collar trying to get on the bloody thing. It is all to do with the river I think and how close we are to the North Sea. The signal gets belted everywhere. In our last house in Newport on Tay it was like a natural amphitheatre the way sound bounced off the river. I know they credit Marconi re the wireless but he used the work of some farmer’s son from up the coast her who studied physics at uni and he did all his sound experiments on the Tay.

      7. I’m guessing that that was why the internet was so u/s when we lived in Devon, on the coast…the old south westerly winds blew in something chronic there…dear Shirl dare not hang her knickers on the washing line for fear they would blow away! Still, today we hot water back and showers that actually pump out water at last! A pleasant lunacy is about me and the sun is shining bright. Have a fine day.

    3. Hee hee, a pleasant lunacy is better than no lunacy at all. that will have been your prob with the signal. I mind one night in our last house when the most deafening racket got up. Some bugger was having a party. SO we are all up and about and looking for the culprit. I heads off after the sound at 3 in the sodding morning and I tell you it was like following fairy dust. Eventually I finds myself down in this bit of Newport on the other side of the main road that you would not know existed…a warren of tiny winding lanes leading to the river. Like that I was drawn on, drawn on. And then I finds the cause of the racket and it is a mile and half away across the river in Dundee. BUT you could hear people talking as if they two yards away. Expanses of water do some very crazy things that way. .

      1. Are you sure you weren’t in a time vortex? Likely those you heard having chat were Scots of yore having a few bevvies pre taking on the King’s men the next day…more so in that the winding lanes were unfamiliar. Brilliant, I am now jealous.

      2. Lol… The winding lanes were empty and asleep. Seriously lots of folks had similar problems. Now the Hilton has been demolished I assume that a lot of the racket that came from there has stopped.

    1. True enough…I’d rather be one man and his shadow than one man and his dog. At least with a shadow one doesn’t have to walk the streets with a plastic bag to pick out warm, smelly pooh. Wonder if there are pedigree shadows?

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