Erstwhile non-fiction author, ghost & freelance writer for others, finally submitting work that floats my own boat, does my own thing. I'll deal with it if you can.
An Open Letter to Test and Trace
Dear Multinational Corporation Test and Trace Contractors, This is a general procedural complaint about Test and Trace, but it relates to the contact tracing that occurred after my two daughters — aged 14 and 11 received a positive PCR test result.
Thirteen Monsters of Britain
A boulder-strewn block field covers the lonely summit plateau of Britain’s second highest peak, Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms. It has a terrible beauty; a sprawling, desolate landscape of wild open space where everything conspires to make you feel small. The isolation of this spot is tangible and when the summit is deserted, an air of separation from the world as a whole quickly overcomes your senses. In Britain’s most Arctic environment, survival is constantly in the balance and, although the long walk to the summit is not difficult in fair weather, the balance tips very easily. Like all mountains, the Cairngorms are fickle, occasionally spiteful, and even a slight change in conditions can throw the visitor into another world entirely.
Who Are the New Druids ?
King Arthur is on the phone. He’s laughing hard at a story about the real roots of modern druidry. That’s Arthur Uther Pendragon, born John Timothy Rothwell, who sees himself as the reinvention of King Arthur’s spirit in the body of a modern-day warrior, biker, rabble-rouser, road protestor and, as English Heritage probably refer to him, ‘Stonehenge stakeholder’.
The Back of His Hand
The boy knew his father like the back of his hand. The back of his hand, the front of his hand, the father's palm connects with the boy's leg in multiple, wild swipes. He’s a man possessed by his own inadequacy. His short temper and busted ambition turn him to a frenzy of hate, barely held, with eyes that betray his fear. Nobody knows in the moment, least of all him, whether it’s fear of who he is or how far he could go. Something inside of him wants the boy to feel it too.
Close to Home
A short stretch of tarmac path curves away from the mock-ochre–brick houses perched on a low ridge. The path is at the far corner of a suburban estate of new-builds. A parade of low streetlights follows the path and peters out into the ragged fringes of development; the dog-walkers’ fields, the urban scrub and hinterland of an ancient city.
Reading Between the Lines in Border Country
A murmuring throng, led by a rector and a red cassocked-choir, shuffles west along the narrow street on Ascension Day. Apart from the cleric, every member of the moving crowd holds aloft a withy of hazel five or more feet long as they make their way down Pembroke Street in the heart of Oxford.
Made of Chalk
A harrying gust of icy raindrops blows along the crest of England’s South Downs as blades of distant sunshine shift and spotlight the town below. It is late October and the afternoon has assumed a burden, almost a petulant sulk. With my eyes stinging, screwed up, squinted tight against a shower of tiny needles, I look for an easier path and head for the coastal strip of suburb below, leaving the high down behind.