Monthly Archives: April 2014

Four months along the twisting and turning blog path

I can barely believe that it’s been four months since I bit the bullet and started this blog page. Where does time go? Or as the old adage goes- time flies when you are having fun.

And, despite the fears of posting my writing on here, I am having a fun adventure on this creative journey.

At the very outset of this scary magical trip, I said one of my biggest fears was letting people read what I write. I’d be lying if I said I’d totally overcome it but, with each post, it’s getting easier. Each “like” or kind comment banishes another little bit of that crippling fear. So thank you.

I set the goal of submitting one post per week and so far I’m on track. Finding the time to write my blog piece for the week can sometimes prove a challenge. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or the week on occasion. I’ve tried not to be too regimented to prevent it from becoming “routine” – “it’s Tuesday and it’s eight o’clock so it must be blog time”- I can’t write like that. For me it needs to be spontaneous and not overly thought. Do you agree, fellow bloggers?

I’ve also resisted the temptation to rant – although I reserve the right to do so should an appropriate rant come along.

Another fear that, so far, hasn’t come to fruition was that I wouldn’t be able to think of a post for the week. Long may that luck hold out!

The biggest surprise over the last few months writing-wise has been the popularity of my short story “The Imp”. Initially the first part was written as a standalone short tale that grew out of my mental meanderings while out for a walk one lunchtime and was brought to life a few short hours later, while sitting in the car, in the dark, outside the school while I waited for Boy Child to come out from wind orchestra rehearsals. (The Imp is a drawing in another project I am working on and I began to muse about what his story may be and it spiralled from there.)Nine parts later and his tale has been told – for now. Crazy as this may sound, I miss him. Imp fans – he will be back at a later date – time allowing!

As usual time is running away with me so I’ll end here for now. I’d like to thank everyone who is accompanying me, encouraging me and supporting me along this winding creative path. Without you, I’d probably still just be sitting in my conservatory, filling notebooks with stories and poems that no one but me will ever read and wondering “what if…..”.

Thank you and I hope you stick with me for the rest of the journey. Feel free to bring along some friends too. I’m enjoying the company.

The Imp – part nine

The Imp – part nine.

The Ghosts of “mix tape” Days Gone By…

Do you remember the days when you sat with your fingers poised over the “pause” and “record” buttons on a Sunday evening, ready to tape your favourite hits from that week’s Top 40? The care that was taken not to get the DJ talking but also not to miss the start of the song?

Or the challenge of getting the needle to land in exactly the right spot to select a single song to play off an LP?

Remember the hours spent putting together a “mix tape” to play on your clock/radio/cassette player or, if you were lucky, your Walkman?

Perhaps I’m showing my age just a little here…..

I have many fond memories of compiling “mix tapes” for myself and friends. Agonising over the choice of songs to include and then debating what order to record them in so that it sounded best. As a teenager I always seemed to be the hard rock fan among pop music friends who decried my music as “too loud” and “too heavy”. I recall arguing with one friend that rock bands played softer stuff too – cue a mix tape of Status Quo ballads such as “Livin’ On An Island” (still got a soft spot for that one). One point to me. Happy days…

Somehow these days pulling together a playlist for your iPod doesn’t quite hit the mark.

I guess the closest I’ve got recently to re-living the “mix tape” days was earlier in the week when I was pulling together some songs to introduce a friend to new music. Reading through the track listings in my music library on the pc, I agonised like a teenager once more as to which were the best songs to choose. Would they like this one? Would they prefer that band? Was this inappropriate for them to play in the car if their young children were in the back seat? Would that one make their ears bleed?

Eventually I was happy with my choices and with the order they were in (blame lingering teenage OCD for that) and the discs were burned.

Somehow holding a “mix cd” in my hand didn’t feel quite as rewarding as a “mix tape” – perhaps it was the fact that I could only get just over 70 minutes of music on there instead of the magic 90 minutes of taped music.

I’m still awaiting feedback on the compilation. I just hope I haven’t made my friend’s ears bleed.

The Imp – the penultimate part

This tale that started out as a single stand alone piece  has almost wound its way to the end.

The Imp – part eight.

 

If you’ve missed the start of the tale, it’s all under fiction- short stuff.

 

 

“We could have mother/daughter day?”…..

School holidays, unless you’re a teacher, fill most parents with dread. Initially, a few years back, it was childcare dilemmas causing this sinking feeling but, as the munchkins have evolved into teenagers, it’s now a feeling of  “how many mum’s taxi runs is this going to involve?” and “how many hormone fuelled battles will rage this time?”

Tempting as it was to remain at work throughout this entire Easter break, I have in fact, bitten the bullet and taken this week off.

“We could have mother/daughter day,” suggested Girl Child, batting her long eyelashes at me. “We could go to Glasgow shopping.”

That suggestion alone was almost enough to send me running back to the sanctuary of the office!

However, I took a deep breath, and agreed to take her shopping. The pound note signs lit up in her bright blue kohl lined eyes!

So today was THE day.

Girl Child is not naturally a morning person but, armed with my secret weapon (cool blue Gatorade) we headed off to the station to catch the 9.25 train. A dose of blue juice and peace to listen to her iPod (well I was listening to mine) ensured she got off the train in good humour.

Now to improve mine – first stop coffee. Hot, black and strong!

I had surrendered all hope in my own mind that I was going to get to look in a single shop that I wanted to visit.

Caffeine levels restored to their normal high, we set off in search of the first shop on her list– a gothic/occult clothing store. I had to laugh as we walked down Queen Street, remembering a previous traumatic mother/daughter shopping day when I had asked to visit the same shop we were now charging towards. At that time the Girl Child has declared emphatically that she would disown me if I ever even suggested going into such a shop. Ah, how times change! She can’t get there quick enough….

An hour later we had browsed through five gothic style clothing shops and not bought a thing.

With the “patient mummy” smile painted on, I suggested we grab some lunch while she debated what she actually wanted to spend her money on. The idea of lunch met with teenage approval.

Someone was smiling on us as we walked into the recently opened Hard Rock Café and didn’t have to queue for a table. Extra kudos to me for the choice of eatery! We were left wondering though as we left a while later after devouring our burgers (and in my case washing it down with a medicinal beer) – when did “Dancing Queen” by ABBA qualify as hard rock? Or any other kind of rock for that matter!

A decision on the clothing had been made, probably hurried along thanks to the pop harmonies of ABBA, and we returned to two of the shops to purchase her selected items. All moods and hormone rages were still under control- they even remained under control when the one shop didn’t have her chosen top in her size. (Thank God, as on closer inspection, it did not meet with the “sensible mother” in me – too many sweary words on it!)

New clothes purchased and Girl Child declared bankrupt, we headed back to the station. Oh dear, the route just happened to take us passed the record shop…how did that happen?

Well it would’ve been rude not to go in…..

With a bag now containing three CDs (two for Girl Child and one for me) and a new addition for my vinyl collection, we meandered back to the station to catch the train home.

The sun shone down on us all day. Not one cross word was spoken. We both agreed it had been a lovely mother/daughter day out- but then again that may have been the second dose of Gatorade talking!

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The Imp- part seven

 

An icy chill crept into Urquhart’s bones as he moved silently along the passageway to his tower. The torches in the wall sconces were almost burned out and the diminishing flames were flickering, casting dancing shadows across the damp stone walls. The wizard had met Martha as arranged at lunchtime and thanked her for acquiring the three items he so badly needed. As she had handed him the tiny snake key, Martha had told him that the cook had passed away shortly after giving her the key. News of the cook’s death had saddened him; the loss of an old friend always painful. He had taken the stockings and hairbrush back to his room in his sister’s house for safe keeping then returned to the castle under the cover of darkness. As he had entered the castle gate Urquhart had spun a silent cloaking spell and disappeared into the shadows. Making the familiar journey to his tower felt surreal, not to mention dangerous. Reaching out with his mind the wizard tried to detect any signs of the witch’s presence in the dark hallway.

 

The large carved door to his tower room loomed large ahead of him. In the flickering torchlight, the carved serpent design seemed to writhe and slither. With three quick words Urquhart lifted the protective enchantment from the lock then slid the tiny key into place. Despite having been shut tight for months, the lock turned smoothly, allowing the heavy door to glide open soundlessly.

 

With the door closed and locked behind him, the wizard breathed a sigh of relief and let go of the cloaking spell.

 

“Home sweet home,” he thought as he gazed round.

 

Everything was exactly as he had left it. Nothing had been disturbed. A protective layer of dust and cobwebs shrouded his realm.

 

Time was short and Urquhart knew he had to retrieve what he had come for and leave as carefully as he had arrived. Taking care not to disturb the dust, he tiptoed over to his desk. It was piled high with precarious looking stacks of leather bound books and scrolls. His wand lay in the middle of one of the tomes, marking his place. Resisting the urge to retrieve it, Urquhart instead opened the desk drawer and drew out a long narrow wooden box. Inside lay an intricately carved wand. It had belonged to his master and been passed down the line of wizards for centuries. This slender ancient wand contained an essence of the power of every wizard to ever touch it; this wand was his best chance of ridding them of the witch for ever. He shut the box and slipped it into the canvas satchel that was slung over his shoulder.

 

Next he went over to a tall narrow glass fronted cabinet. Every inch of shelf space was covered. Thousands of tiny glass bottles filled the entire cabinet. Instinctively his hand went out and he lifted two bottles and slipped them into the bag. He closed the doors over again then paused. A tiny bottle down on the bottom shelf caught his eye. It was a non-descript cloudy grey colour but as he lifted it something sparkled in the murky liquid.

 

“I wonder,” he mused as he stared into the bottles depths. “Perhaps you are the answer Amber is looking for.”

 

He slipped the bottle into his trouser pocket, feeling it hot against his thigh.

 

There was one last thing that he needed. Quickly he darted across the room, opened a narrow door and scampered up the spiral stone staircase to his private study. In the centre of the cluttered room stood a round table with a large wooden bowl in the centre. The bowl was filled with innocent looking coloured pebbles. In silence Urquhart used his fingers to weave the spell to lift the enchantment disguising the bowl. As the spell broke, there was a small flash of light. The bowl now contained an array of sparkling vibrant crystals. With his trained wizard’s ears, he could hear the crystals singing. He lifted a large angular amethyst stone then replaced the protection spell over the bowl. Again it stood silent on the table – an innocuous bowl of pebbles.

 

His task was complete. In his bag he had the last things needed to break the curse on Jermain. All he needed now was the prince and the brooch.

 

 

 

Their four days together, alone in the safety of the bothy, were too short. Once Amber felt fully rested after her arduous trek up the mountain, they had spent their time taking short strolls, collecting berries, fishing in a nearby stream, talking and finally, on their last full day, taking a swim in the pool near  the bothy. Wearing only a long white shift, Amber had allowed the cool water to support her weight, relaxing for the first time in months. Beside her, Jem kept a close watch over her. When she saw his “real” reflection gazing at her from the water, tears pricked in her eyes. In that moment, seeing the love in his eyes, she resolved to  do everything in her power to get their baby back to his safe keeping and, if she survived, to return to him.

 

As darkness fell, they gathered together a few essentials for the journey then stepped out into the dusky evening, closing the bothy door behind them. Taking no chances, Amber spun a cloaking spell to cover them both from prying eyes. She still couldn’t shake the feeling that the witch was watching their every move.

 

Their progress down the mountain was slow but steady. Both of them needed to rest for a few moments every few hundred yards. Every step jarred Jem’s twisted aged body and walking down hill sent sharp blades of fire through his hips and knees. Beside him, he was aware of Amber struggling, the weight of the baby making walking and breathing difficult. Eventually the lights of the village came into view; the end was in sight.

 

“Jem,” said Amber softly. “I need to talk to you about something before we reach the village.”

 

The imp turned to look at her, “Is everything ok?”

 

“Yes, “replied the fairy/elf. “I want to agree a message between us for after I’ve returned home. Something only you and I will understand.”

 

“What did you have in mind?” he asked curiously.

 

Amber fingered the two pendants she wore on leather cords round her neck.

 

“I’ve worn these since birth,” she explained. “And I intend to pass them on to the baby. I promise to try to find a way to send the baby to you, if I can. If he or she arrives with both pendants then, you’ll know I’m alive too and coming back to join you as soon as I can.”

 

“And if only the baby is delivered to me?” asked Jem, dreading the answer.

 

“Then I’ve passed from this life,” whispered Amber, tears glistening in her eyes.

 

Nodding, Jem reached out to hug her. He placed one wrinkled hand on her swollen belly and promised, “I’ll guard this little one with my life. I promise you that.”

 

Under his hand he felt the baby give a sharp kick. The first time he had felt the new life move. With a sad smile, Amber held his hand in place while the baby wriggled.

 

“We need to keep going,” she said reluctantly. “It’ll be light soon and it’s too dangerous for us to be seen in daylight.”

 

Hand in hand, they continued down the narrow path.

 

 

 

In the house at the end of the village, Urquhart sat alone in his attic room staring out of the skylight at the dawn sky. If all had gone to plan Amber and the prince would arrive at the house shortly. On the wooden floor in front of him he had used the wand to draw an intricate circular pattern. Each of the items were strategically placed in the swirls of the pattern – the hair from the hairbrush, the silk stockings, the amethyst crystal. All he needed now was Jermain and the brooch.

 

 

 

The Birth of My Daughter of Darkness

As a parent you take great delight in many “firsts” in your children’s lives – first smile, first tooth, first steps, first words, first day at school. Each and every moment to be treasured and held in a special place in your heart. As they grow up the “firsts” become rarer occurrences but remain every bit as precious.

Saturday night saw me share in one of Girl Child’s “firsts”.

I took her to her first rock concert.

The tickets had been purchased months ago and knowing her unease at being in strange places with strange folk and her dislike of crowds, I was understandably a slightly anxious “rock mum” as the big day dawned.

So who were the lucky headline act who had been carefully selected for this “first”?

Halestorm, one of my favourite rock bands, who hail from Red Lion, Pennsylvania and are fronted by the incredibly talented Lzzy Hale. I’d had the pleasure of seeing them play twice before as a support act but never as the headliners.

Accompanied by two friends (thanks for coming along, ladies) we queued on one of the steepest streets I’ve ever had to walk up before finally entering the O2 ABC in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. It’s a small , intimate venue and proved to be the perfect choice for Girl Child’s first gig. With our trip to the merchandising stall under our belts and my purse empty, we positioned ourselves near the front but far enough off the barrier to avoid being crushed.

I watched Girl Child with bated breath.

During the two support acts (The Smoking Hearts, who played a good set, and Day Shell, who did their best with a poorly front man) she stood there gazing up at the stage not giving me any clues or hints as to how she was feeling.

Had I done the right thing? Was she scared in among so many strangers? Was she going to be mentally scarred for life by the whole experience? Was I being a bad mother?

Shortly before nine o’clock Halestorm took to the stage, launching straight into “I Miss the Misery”. Almost instantly Girl Child was transformed! By half way through that first song, she was singing her heart out (badly!), bouncing up and down with the crowd, horns up, and drinking in every word, every movement and every note.

The smile on her face said it all. She was in her element, as my gran would’ve said.

The Glasgow show was the fourth stop on the current Halestorm tour and they didn’t disappoint. Lzzy thanked the fans profusely for giving them a “sold out” show so far from home. The set was made up of favourite numbers from their first two studio albums, cover EPs plus one new song. The late great Ronnie James Dio would have been proud of Lzzy’s rendition of “Straight Through The Heart”. One of my personal favourites remains “Familiar Taste of Poison” and who couldn’t fail to love Arejay Hale’s drum solo? Memories of Arejay’s “big sticks” will live with me for a while (that and the sight of him stripped to the waist for the encore….swoon….)

All too soon the “Rock Show” was drawing to  a close as the band left the audience with “Here’s To Us” and promises to be back soon.

Hot, sweaty, tired and hoarse – it’s a long time since I’ve seen Girl Child so happy.

My little “Daughter of Darkness” has taken her first “rock steps” and it made my heart swell with pride!P1010732

Lzzy bw3

photos courtesy of yours truly