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Sticks And Stones May Break Your Bones…but bullying is NEVER OK.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones
But names will never hurt you.”

 

Sticks and stones photo

I wish I had a pound for every time my Mum or my Wee Gran said that to me while I was growing up. I’d be a very rich girl if I had!
Bullying, for various reasons, has cropped up in several conversations recently. It’s stirred up more than a few ghosts from the past, I can tell you.
The childhood rhyme has played in the background like a soundtrack to my schooldays.
As the summer break draws to a close, if you’re a parent of a child who is being bullied and harassed, or a teacher of a class hiding a bully in its midst, you might want o pause and read the tale my daughter and I are about to share.
I’ll pause for a moment to allow you to reflect before continuing….this is could prove to be a difficult read for some.

I was bullied for six years in school (roughly 1979-1985 if you need a timeframe for reference here). To this day, I have no idea what triggered it but I can recall the first incident as clearly as if it happened yesterday.
It was a wet afternoon interval in school. I was in Primary 5. As a class, we had been painting pictures. I genuinely don’t recall saying or doing anything to trigger this but suddenly a few of the kids in the class were round my desk commenting on my poor artwork. (I never was much use at art and never claimed to be any good at painting.) There was a nasty, hurtful edge to their taunts. My desk was in front of the classroom door. The door to the corridor was open. I bolted!
I ran down the stairs, from the first floor to the basement, to seek refuge in the girls’ toilets. Twenty plus kids from the class followed me- boys and girls. I made it safely into a cubicle near the end of the row and locked the door. Safe. Wrong! All the kids, boys and girls, came charging into the toilets screaming and yelling, hammering on the door, trying to climb over the door and partition walls, trying to squeeze under the door and partition walls. I was absolutely terrified. The bell rang and, gradually, they all retreated. I stayed where I was until all was quiet then returned to my classroom. The teacher asked where I’d been and, when I told her what had happened, she didn’t believe me, suggesting I was lying. Suddenly, I was the one in trouble. I returned to my seat feeling twenty plus smug pairs of eyes watching me.
It all spiralled rapidly downhill from there.
I’m not going to go into this blow for blow (Yes, this went beyond name calling on a semi-regular basis for years)
I was ostracised. Outcast. I was nine years old.
If I arrived at school with something new, shoes or a bag or a coat, I was laughed at and ridiculed. My coat or blazer would regularly disappear from its allotted space in the cloakroom, only to turn up stuffed under a sink or behind a radiator, usually having been kicked about by muddy feet first.
The heavy metal band Iron Maiden with their skeleton mascot Eddie were just coming to the fore and one of the boys, who liked the band, nicknamed me “Beast” after the creature in the song “Number of the Beast”. That nickname stuck for years…. for ever. Kids, sometimes kids I didn’t even know, would grab me by the hair and haul at my clothing to determine if I had “666” tattooed at the back of my neck. Funnily enough, I don’t. Maybe that experience has contributed to the fact that I have no ink on me whatsoever, despite having two designs that in my heart I would love to have discretely tattooed.
The few friends I had in the class vanished into the crowd.
Lunchtimes and intervals became endlessly long, lonely periods of time to be endured instead of enjoyed. I retreated into myself. I kept myself to myself, finding a quiet corner to hide and read my book in peace, losing myself in the words on the pages to escape from the reality I was living.
By the time I reached Primary 7, things were no better. It was in Primary 7 that I remember physically striking back for the first time. I was reading the book My Friend Flicka. Several of the girls were taunting me about it and I was doing my level best to ignore them. Eventually, one, who thought she was being smart, was standing in front of me flicking the book up into my face, chanting “My friend fucka me and I enjoyed it.” I snapped. I slapped her. Slapped her hard.
For a short while, the bullies backed off.
All the while, my mother and grandmother thought they were reassuring me with that old childhood rhyme. They weren’t. My mum had tried approaching the school’s headmaster about the bullying but that only served to make matters worse. One of the kids in my class saw her in the school and told the others. The bullying became even more vicious and hurtful as a result.
My mum and grandmother changed tack as the time approached for me to start high school. Almost daily during the summer holidays, they attempted to convince me that moving to a bigger school meant more opportunity to make nice, new friends. I just listened to them, knowing in my heart that they were wrong.
My primary school classmates found a new bigger, rougher, tougher audience in high school and, for roughly three years, things were worse than ever. Now, it was the boys more than the girls who were my daily tormentors. There were parts of the school I dreaded passing through.
Things hit an all time low one Tuesday afternoon in my second year. Again, it was during an afternoon break when it happened. I was standing quietly minding my own business outside my English class when a boy in my year from a different class came towards me and, without a word, drew his fist and punched me in the face. I felt my nose break. Apparently, I was supposed to have passed comment on his girlfriend’s new haircut. I hadn’t seen the girl and certainly wasn’t aware that she had changed her hairstyle. Why would I even care? I barely knew her. Sitting through that English lesson, trying to staunch the bleeding and trying not to cry was one of the lowest points I can recall.
Eventually, by the time we were all fourteen or fifteen, the bullies grew bored and moved on. I continued to keep myself to myself for most of the time. I’d hide at lunchbreaks, usually in the assembly hall, and write as my means of coping with my reality.
It was all too late though. The mental and emotional damage had been done and those scars run far deeper than any of the physical ones.
I left school in 1988.
Several years after I left school, one of the worst of the bullies reared his ugly head again. I was walking on my own from the branch of the bank where I was working into the town centre to catch the bus home. Along the way, I passed several pubs and as I approached one of these, The Green Oak, a group of drunk young men stumbled out in front of me. Among them was one of the bullies. He recognised me, even in his drunken state and started yelling, “I know you. We called you the Beast in school!” Before I had time to react, they had surrounded me and were all chanting “Beast! Beast! Beast!” At that moment, the bus I was rushing to catch came down the road. Fortunately, the driver recognised me, stopped the bus in the middle of the road and yelled at me to” get on.” I’ve never been so relieved to get on a bus in my life. In those few terrifying moments, I’d gone from a 22-year-old young woman to a frightened 12-year-old in my head.
2010 marked the year that my class turned 40 and a school reunion was arranged. It was the last event I wanted to go to but I reasoned that by going, I might finally put some of the ghosts to bed and get some closure. Two friends, who felt similarly uneasy about it, suggested we go to together. Safety in numbers and all that. The event was arranged via Facebook and, as the guest list grew, so did my nerves. When I saw one name in particular, the worst of the original bullies, appear, I almost changed my mind about attending. Even on the evening of the event itself, I was in two minds about going. I was feeling physically sick with nerves as I left the house. The reunion was held in the local rugby club and was all going well until that person arrived. A group of us were already seated at a round table with a drink when she walked in with her friends. She was all “huggy/kissy” with the people round the table until she saw me. As I looked at her, I realised she had stopped in her tracks and was looking at me with the same childish hatred from 30 years before. I looked away and she moved off. Even, after all these years…..oh, well, I guess leopards don’t change their spots.
I will never attend another school reunion.
That one long look from her opened up all the old wounds.
Sticks and stone may break your bones, but bones mend. Words scar your soul forever.
On reflection, while the years of abuse that I endured seemed never ending at the time, I was lucky.
I was lucky this all happened pre-internet, pre-mobile phones, pre-social media, pre- group chats.
At least when I went home from school, the bullies couldn’t reach me, unless they phoned the house or turned up at the door.
There is little escape from 21st Century bullying. It’s a 24/7 affair with little or no respite.

As a mother, one of the hardest things to watch and handle as a parent, has been seeing history repeat itself for my Baby Girl.
She’s agreed to tell her tale for this blog for the first time, so, in her own words-

“Through my life, my mum has told me about her school experiences, now I’m going to tell you mine.
“School years are the best years of your life” – absolutely bloody not!
So, let’s start from the beginning of high school. In first year, I was no longer “cool” enough for my primary school friends so I had to find a new friend group. I managed that and, as far as I can remember, the rest of first year was enjoyable (apart from getting glasses)
Second year things started to go belly up. This was the year I discovered how imaginative people can be. I can’t remember how it all began but a very hurtful story was invented by someone ( I still don’t know who) and it spread like wildfire around the school. At first people shouted names and comments at me in the social area. Then I lost all the friends I had just made the year before because nobody wanted to be seen to associate with me. One day I couldn’t face another day of it at school so pretended to be sick to stay home. Peace and quiet – or so I thought. By 4 o’clock the messages started arriving. My favourite message was from a boy I had never spoken to saying “Have you killed yourself yet?”
At 12 years old, I remember sitting on the bathroom floor with a bottle of toilet cleaner in my hand trying to grow the balls to drink it.
This was the first time I wanted to commit suicide. This was just the start.
From then on, I was extremely self-conscious. For the next few years I worked to lose as much weight as possible with the hope of disappearing. I became so weak it got to the point I struggled to stand without help. This simply led to more taunting. I was now “a bag of bones” and “a starving African child”. As you can assume, this led to more self-loathing and concerning behaviour.
At this point, I had new friends and I was in that group until one girl decided she didn’t like me and turned everyone against me. Of course, there were a lot of nasty messages sent. I will admit, I responded with my own unhelpful messages, fuelled by pain and anger.
In fifth year, I found yet another group of friends who were outcasts like myself. The comments from classmates had continued from second year but in my last year I found a new way to cope. I started to suffer from health problems, for which I was prescribed 30/500 co-codamol pills. After a few weeks, I no longer needed them but continued to take 8 a day for 11 weeks just to get through school. Being in a constant dazed medicated state made it a lot easier to ignore the comments.
So, to summarise my school experience, it was filled with: people making abusive comments, receiving horrendous Facebook messages, self-hatred and self-harming behaviours. But, at the end of the day, I can say I made it out alive.
Now, at the age of 18, I have considered suicide at least once per day every day. I have been prescribed strong anti-depressants and am open to the community mental health team. I have nightmares most nights, some about events from school.
But, I have 3 amazing friends and a family who love and support me.
Upon reflection, I am glad this happened to me instead of someone else, because the thought of another person going through it is unbearable. But the sad fact is, this happens to hundreds of thousands of kids every single day.”

I knew my Baby Girl had had a rough time throughout high school. In fact, it started in primary school. I knew about some of the bullying. I knew about some of the Facebook messages because she would screenshot them and send them to me.
There’s a lot though in that story that I never knew until she gave me her story to add to this blog a few days ago. At this point in time, I feel as if I have failed her.
21st century bullying is beyond evil and, selfishly, I’m relieved that it didn’t exist while I was being bullied all those years ago. I don’t believe I have the strength of character to survive it.
There is NO escape from it.
Facebook group chats are the worst vehicle ever for it. Countless times, she would show me message chains where the comments were directed at her. They were beyond vile. They had been sent day and night.
I sat on the local high school’s parent council for seven years so speaking to staff without my daughter’s knowledge was easy but proved to be a complete waste of time. I tried time and again but was always told that the school had no control over online bullying. As far as I witnessed, they had little control over the bullying and harassment going on within the school itself. On the odd occasion, when a teacher would listen, they never acted as bullies have an uncanny knack of being the teachers’ favourites, the “cool” kids.
As a parent, I felt helpless. Utterly helpless.
I failed her.

Neither of us are sharing this with a view to gaining any sympathy.
Neither of us are sharing this to point the finger at the bullies. If they happen to read this and recognise themselves, then I hope they feel at least some remorse for their past actions. Somehow, based on my personal experience of my school reunion, I doubt that they will. I think that’s sad…..tragic.

The reasoning behind speaking up now is that summer’s almost over and kids are going back to school. Bullies will be seeking new vulnerable targets. Some kids will be facing the school year with dread.
For what they are worth, my words of wisdom are:
If you are a parent, be vigilant. Teenagers are experts at hiding things from us.
If you’re a teacher, don’t turn a blind eye and presume that its just kids being kids.
If you’re a target (I hate the word “victim”) stay strong and speak up. Don’t suffer in silence just because its easier. Be yourself. And remember bullies are cowards at heart.
If you’re the bully or you were the bully, I hope you’ve learned something from this and use your time to reflect on the consequences of your actions.
Thank you for listening.

For more information and support on this subject –

https://www.bullying.co.uk/

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/bullying-and-cyberbullying/

https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/feelings-and-symptoms/bullying/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/bullying/

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Alphabet Thoughts….

 

letters

 

A thought struck me while I was proofreading and spellchecking Book Baby 4 aka Ellen.

Now, this may be a thought that’s already struck you so apologies if I’m late to the party here.

The thought?

Well, what struck me was what an incredible thing the alphabet is. You take twenty-six wee letters and by rearranging them into various combinations you get words, lots and lots of different words.

The word count for Book Baby 4 is around 106 000 give or take a couple of hundred (still tweaking!). That’s approximately 500 000 letters. That’s a lot of combinations of those wee letters of the alphabet.

And do you know what’s even more incredible? No? Well, that’s the first time that those 500 000 letters have been used in that specific combination, making Book Baby 4 unique.

“She’s lost it this time!” I hear you cry but pause for a moment and think about it. Think about all the great works of fiction, the classics, the award-winning novels, adult fiction, children’s stories….. I could go on but I’m sure you get the hint. Each and every one of them is a unique collection of those twenty-six wee letters combined to make words that are then strung together to make sentences.

Those sentences might be short and simple or long and complex containing may clauses but, at the end of the day, they are a combination of twenty-six wee letters combined to make words that allow authors to tell a story. How incredible is that?

Now, I am not for a second comparing my creative efforts to the literary greats but we all have one thing in common – we each started with a blank page/screen and had the same twenty-six wee letters to play with.

Using those twenty-six wee letters you can create scenes that invoke an emotional response in the person reading the resulting story. You can make people laugh. You can make people cry. You can make people angry. You can make people calm. You can make people happy. How powerful is that?

And, even more incredible, those same twenty-six wee letters can be used to create different languages used around the world. We use the Latin alphabet to write in English. That same alphabet forms the basis for around 6000 languages that  use additional diacritics (those squiggles above and below certain letters) to enhance them.

And to think, each an every one of us from wee me to Shakespeare, to Emily Bronte, to JK Rowling (no, I’m not comparing my ability to theirs)started out the same way – learning how to hold the pen to write our own name.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Seeking a Lost Boy in Kensington Gardens – have you seen him?

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When I was a little girl, probably around the age of seven or eight, I remember borrowing a copy of Peter Pan from a friend.

I fell in love with the story (maybe that’s why I have never grown up) but I also fell in love with the photo of a statue of Peter Pan that was printed near the front of the book.

After a while I had to give the book back. (I’m not and never have been a collector of other people’s books). I begged my mum to buy me a copy the same as my friend’s but we never found one the same. I was adamant that it had to be the same edition – I wanted the photo of the statue not the shimmery gold cover and pretty drawing of Peter and Wendy.

To this day, I still don’t own a copy of Peter Pan. I never found the right edition.

The statue in question is in Kensington Gardens in London and just over a week ago, some forty years after I first saw the photo of it, I finally got to visit it.

In the flesh (ok, bronze) it was every bit as magical as I’d hoped.

The 14-foot-high statue was commissioned by author JM Barrie around 1910. He provided sculptor Sir George Frampton with a photo of six-year-old Michael Llewelyn Davies to use as the model for Peter. Michael and his three brothers were Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Sir George Frampton however chose to use a different model which ultimately left Barrie somewhat disappointed in the end result.

“It doesn’t show the devil in Peter,” he is quoted as saying at the time.

peter pan inspiration

There was an element of mischief in the unveiling of the statue itself. Barrie chose the site in Kensington Gardens carefully, opting for the spot where Peter Pan first lands after flying out of the nursery window in the 1902 book The Little White Bird. It is also a spot in the gardens that was close to Barrie’s home. The statue was erected during the night of 30 April 1912 and was first on public display on May Day. It was Barrie’s gift to the public. The only thing he didn’t have was permission to put it there!

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Barrie donated the sculpture to the city of London and it became a Grade II listed building in 1970. It’s been a children’s favourite since it’s first appearance that May Day morning.

 

On a hot June Sunday morning as I spent a few precious moments walking round it, I was transported back to my childhood. The plinth that Peter Pan stands on hosts a myriad of fairy and woodland creatures. I particularly loved the mice. I’m sure you could walk round it a hundred times and see something different every time.

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Time, however, was short. We were on a tight schedule and I had a date to visit another local London children’s fiction landmark. Anyone seen a small bear from Deepest Darkest Peru?

Measures of Spring

Those who follow this blog will already know that I like to escape from the salt mine during my lunch hour and go for a wander.

Some days it is a leisurely stroll, with gentle music and a mind full of daydreams (NO, I’m not sharing them with you  hee hee)

Some days its is a stomp, with loud heavy metal  music on full blast and a mind full of the frustrations of the morning. (No, I’m not sharing those either.)

Being a creature of habit, I have a tendency to walk the same route most days. Very quickly you become aware of the surroundings and the changes in them. You can track the changes in the season by them.

Spring sees one of the most dramatic changes over quite a short period of time. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to capture one photo per week from roughly the same spot (bit of a hit or miss with that) to try to highlight this.

Last week I was on holiday from work and in my absence  a dramatic transformation took place!

Wondering what on earth I’m talking about now?  I’m talking daffodils!

Here, see for yourself.

spring 1spring 2spring 3

Next stop summer!!  🙂

 

 

And Why’s He Still There, Mummy?…….

This story technically starts back on 18th March after I returned from my trip to Birmingham. Stupidly, I commented to my Moana-loving Girl Child that I’d seen a toy Hei Hei (the dopey chicken from the film) reduced in the Disney Store in the Bull Ring shopping centre. With a petted lip she asked why Hei Hei was still there. Calmly, I explained in my best mummy voice that Hei Hei wouldn’t have fitted in my overnight bag.

hei hei

She sulked….

 

Move forward in time to last Saturday. The Big Green Gummi Bear and I were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to Manchester and were saying our goodbyes to Girl Child and her Dotty Gran in Tesco’s café. Girl Child tried to pick her blue fluffy bunny up by the ear and the poor creature’s ear came off in her hand. Her wee face crumpled. She loves that blue fluffy bunny! I did wonder for a split second if she was about to cry. The Big Green Gummi bear swiftly snatched the ear from her little hand, declared it to be his “lucky bunny ear” for his race (yes, I know that it should be lucky rabbit’s foot) and stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

A couple of hours later and many miles down the motorway, we stopped at a service station in the Lake District for lunch. As is my want, we had a wander through the shop before getting back in the car. In the toy section, we found a display of over priced and overly fluffy toy chickens and birds and critters. The Big Green Gummi Bear quickly pulled the bunny ear from his pocket and posed it on top of one of pink fluffy chicken things, suggesting I take a photo and send it to Girl Child. I did.

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Her response a while later was “Hope you bought that.”

When I replied that we hadn’t, her immediate disappointment was expressed.

It was Hei Hei all over again….

The mummy in me knew we had to find one of those pink fluffy birds on the return journey or I’d never hear the end of this, especially so soon after not buying Hei Hei!

 On the way back north on Sunday afternoon we delayed our potty stop/coffee stop by 22 miles to reach the service station on the M6 where we hoped we stood the best chance of sourcing a pink fluffy chicken.

At Tebay services, we were in luck. They had one. He was duly purchased and carried unceremoniously by the legs out to the car. (Turns out it’s a female ostrich and not a chicken)

And so Not Hei Hei came to stay.

 

When we arrived home a couple of hours later, Girl Child was thrilled to meet Not Hei Hei and promptly sat at the dinner table with him beside her.

The blue fluffy bunny ear, which turned out to be quite a lucky bunny ear as the The Big Green Gummi Bear survived his marathon debut and ran a time he is content with, was returned to our baby girl.

With her big blue eyes wide and pleading, she asked me to fix her bunny.

So, for the first time in many years, I have just performed toy surgery and re-attached her blue bunny’s long floppy ear.

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Cue one happy Girl Child….. one 18year old happy Girl Child!

 

 

And the moral of this story is…. Never lose sight of your inner child 😉

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Silently Watching At Eostre – part eight

dark angel

Spring was perhaps the dark angel’s favourite time of year. There were plenty of young animals in the fields to provide easy succulent meals for her. If she was careful, she could disguise her lamb kills as dog attacks, easily diverting attention towards any number of local pets who were allowed to roam off their leads. While the fresh lamb’s blood was a delicacy, it didn’t satiate her hunger the way that human blood did.

Meals since the Winter Solstice had been lean. She had risked only one human kill. During a January gale, she had snatched an unsuspecting passenger from the deck of the ferry that traversed the river every hour.  Now, after months of rabbits, deer and, more recently, lambs, she was truly ravenous.

At this time of year, she preferred to seek young blood to rejuvenate her. It had crossed her mind many times over the years to snatch a child but, even in her transformed state, that was a moral step too far. When she had been reborn over two hundred years earlier, her creator had laid down three basic rules to survival.  

1 Never kill a child prior to it reaching sexual maturity

2 Never kill an expectant mother

3 Never drink from the bloodline of your creator. 

The first rule remained the only one unbroken. 

She ran her tongue over her broken fang and allowed her thoughts to linger on the runner. Oh, what she’d give to be able to savour that exotic, rich, ferrous blood of his! If she closed her eyes, she could see him in her mind’s eye and still taste him. Forbidden fruit indeed but what was she to do with him?

 

After a large family dinner to celebrate Easter and several stolen pieces of his children’s chocolate Easter eggs, he knew he needed to set off for a long run to burn off the calories. Time was marching on. Easter already! ..and he was  acutely aware that he hadn’t been following his desired training schedule. The Bank Holiday Monday offered the ideal opportunity to set out for a longer run. Not wanting to miss out on too much quality family time, he’d set his alarm early, leaving the house just before seven as the sun rose over the horizon.

With open countryside surrounding him and his favourite playlist playing in his ears, he ran at a respectable pace towards the local reservoirs. At such an early hour, he passed no one. Everywhere was still. The birds were singing in the hedgerows and trees. The water of the reservoirs was glassy still. It was an idyllic setting for his morning run.

After a few miles, something off to the left in one of the fields caught his eye. Several crows were gathered round it and, as he slowed his pace to focus his vision on it, he realised that it was two dead lambs, their throats freshly ripped out. Initially, he thought that they must have met their deaths at the fangs of a dog but, as he ran on, he wondered……

Subconsciously his hand went to his neck, touching the very spot where those deadly fangs had pierced his skin. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about the dark angel for a while. In fact, he’d gone out of his way to avoid her and avoided even driving through the village, opting instead whenever possible to take the narrow country road out onto the main dual carriageway. She fascinated him but terrified him at the same time. The thought that she still wanted to talk with him made his blood run cold. “Forbidden fruit,” she had said to him the last time their paths had crossed. He knew she intended to talk to him at some point but he wasn’t convinced it was a conversation he wanted to be party to.

 

Warm spring sunshine was bathing the still graveyard but the angel sat in the cool of the shadows, picking pieces of sinew from between her teeth with her long, pointed fingernails. Lamb for breakfast had been fine but she still craved human blood.

A familiar scent on the air caught her attention before she heard the rhythmic thud, thud, thud of the runner’s feet as he ran hard up the steep hill past the church. Soundlessly, she got to her feet, crossed the small cemetery and stepped out into the road at precisely the same moment that the runner reached the rusty gates at the entrance.

“Good morning, son of Perran,” she said with a smile.

“Hey,” he gasped breathlessly.

“Come,” she instructed, beckoning him to follow her into the cemetery. “Time to talk.”

“I don’t have much time,” he replied, desperately trying to think of something to stall her.

“You have sufficient time. Come!”

Obediently, he followed her up the stone steps then left along the gravel path towards a bench that remained in the shade.

“Sit,” she commanded bluntly as she herself sat carefully on the wooden bench, mindful of her majestic wings.

Choosing a spot as far along the seat from her as possible, he sat down.

“I need to tell you a story,” she began quietly. “No need to look so scared. You’re perfectly safe from me….well… for now.”

“I am?”

“Yes. We share the same bloodline,” revealed the angel, gazing into his dark eyes as if searching for his very soul. “If I were to try to drink from you, I’d die within a few hours. One of the golden rules. Never drink from the bloodline of your creator or his descendants.  You, son of Perran, are a descendant of the man who made me who I am.”

“I am?”

The dark angel nodded, “The wound I inflicted on your neck proved that. Those few delicious drops of blood poisoned me. Were nearly enough to end it all but, as you can see, I am quite recovered. Well almost.”

She bared her fangs to him. Immediately, he noted the broken tip of one of them.

“The tip is embedded in your neck,” explained the angel, reaching out to touch the spot.

His neck had begun to throb as soon as he had approached the church and the toothache had returned when the stone walls of the cemetery had come into sight. Now, for the first time in weeks, he felt warm, fresh blood trickling down his neck.

“How? Why?”

“How? Because I attempted to drink from you. Those few poisonous drops were divine,” she replied, savouring the bittersweet memory. “Why? That’s what I am trying to figure out. Minor injuries like a broken tooth usually regenerate and heal within a day or so. This has been over nine months and there is nothing I can do to heal it.”

“The place on my neck won’t heal either,” he acknowledged, reaching up to wipe away the fresh blood.

“In over two hundred years, I’ve never experienced this,” she stated looking almost insulted. “However, it means we are connected by more than bloodline. So, I’m going to offer you a choice.”

“A choice?” he echoed a little anxiously, edging forward on the seat ready to escape if need be.

“Yes. A choice,” she repeated, her green eyes boring into him. “The choice to either become like me or the choice to kill me.”

“Why?”

Smiling at his puzzled expression, the angel said, “To kill me would end the loneliness, the suffering, save the lives of the innocent. To become like me, then…. well, who knows what our futures would hold, son of Perran.”

“Why would I want to live a life like yours?”

“You wouldn’t have to live as I choose to,” she countered calmly. “There can be a partial transformation first. You can live your life as normal, watch your family grow up and grow old. You, however, will age at a far slower rate. You will remain fit and healthy. Able to run for more years than you would otherwise. Then, once your family are gone, together we can seek answers to why we’ve been bound together like this.”

He stared at her, struggling to comprehend what she was saying.

Effortlessly, the angel got to her feet, spread her wings and prepared to depart.

“So, I wouldn’t need the wings if I can live my normal life?” Once spoken the question sounded ridiculous and he flushed in embarrassment.

“Reach a decision first, son of Perran, then we can discuss the finer points,” she suggested with a mischievous smile. “Its not a decision to be taken lightly. Not one to be rushed.”

He looked up but the mid-morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. He blinked and looked again.

The angel was gone.

A single black, purple tipped feather lay on the ground at his feet.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

I’ll Take That As A Parenting Success….

I ventured into Boy Child’s bedroom earlier to collect his laundry basket. The sun was shining in and the wall above his desk caught my eye.

Now, I’ve been in the room countless times but I hadn’t really given this spot on the wall much thought before today. I paused to look and to read.

It made me smile.

This is what I was looking at.

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Every ticket, except his Alter Bridge ticket from SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 1 Dec 2016 as the venue staff insisted on collecting them in, for every show he’s been to. There are three up there that I wasn’t with him for – I’ll not point them out.

As I read though them I could remember highlights from each of them.

From nudging him and telling him it was ok to laugh out loud at comedian Daniel Sloss’ risqué jokes to the first rock show we attended on 23 May 2009. The very first band to take to the stage that night in the SECC were Black Stone Cherry and so began his love (and mine) of those boys from Kentucky.

There’s the ticket from the first rock show he stood at – Iron Maiden on 20 July 2011. I remember vividly keeping a close eye on him in the densely packed crowd. (He was only 13 at the time) There’s the tiny ticket stub from 16 May 2017 when we saw Iron Maiden again. I remember all too clearly Boy Child keeping an eye on me in one of the roughest crowds I’ve been in. We’d come full circle.

There’s the MTV EMA World Stage show with Slash and Biffy Clyro from 7 Nov 2014. Still can’t believe we got those tickets. It was a fan only event. Best value for £10 ever!

Then, less than a month later, we saw Slash live again and, thanks to Miss Janette, got after show passes to meet The Conspirators and were lucky enough to meet Myles Kennedy for the first time. The kind of night that dreams are made of.

A ticket from the Black Stone Cherry Nordoff Robbins charity show in The Cathouse (tiny venue) on 18 Nov 2016 also holds precious memories. That was an incredible show!

There are wrist bands from Tremonti shows where we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a quick meet and greet after the set. They really are lovely guys.

A few picks don the wall too including a Myles Kennedy pick.

There are even some Ghost dollars.

Parenting is never an easy task. Kids don’t come with a rule book or a user guide. I wish they had!

What struck me in the sunlit room was that this wall represented parenting successes…lots of them! The simple fact that each of these tickets has earned a place on the wall is evidence of that.

I left the room with the laundry basket, a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

 

A short while later there was a cry of “Mum, where’s the Blu Tack?”

As I handed over a small blue/gray cube of sticky stuff, I asked what he needed it for.

“To stick my Brian Fallon ticket up.”

Another moment of parenting success.

Ticket collage