Tuesday, 3 November 2020


 This brief piece is my take on the cautionary tale.  The subject matter might seem child like, the style and language are most definitely adult (I hope).  I trust you find it to your taste. 


Once upon a time, or maybe twice, at a time even before such things were written down, the tragic tale is told of a singular bird and how it earned its name.  I have no cause to doubt the veracity of this story since it was recounted to me at my grandmother’s knee one day in that precious hour when the spent day is bidding a sleepy, satisfied au revoir to a cloudless night waiting in the wings to unfurl its bejewelled canvas.  She, in turn and by tradition, had received it from her grandmamma, a recognised savant in her community.  And now I lay it before you that you might take it as a nonsense, pure entertainment or, perhaps, a truth that’s worth retelling; to each of you as you see fit.

All was a cornucopia.  It teemed.  It overflowed.  Foliage, flowers and fruit brawled playfully for their fair share of light, shade, moisture and heat.  Fecundity filled every corner and crevice with beasts great and small of every shape and hue.  Existence was certainly a matter of rampant superfluity.  To say it betokened uncontrolled havoc could, of course, never be inferred, for this would suggest an infallibility too far.  But, notwithstanding this, there was, however, some cause for concern.  Things could not be allowed to overstep the limits of tolerance and, whilst direct intervention might be perceived as somewhat heavy-handed, an infringement of innate freedoms, there was a need for – how might one phrase it delicately? – a degree of ‘local management’.  What was needed was a creature who could be relied upon to convey Their requirements without appearing to speak directly for Them; a safe pair of hands – claws, hooves, trotters or fins for that matter – to smooth the reassertion of a modicum of order.  And so the call went out, hushed upon the breeze through the whispering leaves, crashed upon the shores by the cavorting waves and chattered by the babbling, gossiping brooks.

Rooting aimlessly among the detritus of exotica far beyond his own drab absence of note came a bird - one consigned to the edges of creation – who stood out in no particular, part and parcel only of the background against which the carnival of life was played out.  But he heard the message as he happened to waddle past a crowd of deeply bowing grasses:

“Wanted, one who might communicate with all creation that all might live in harmony.”

It was an ambitious remit, to be true, and none-the-less worthy but, though the wording conveyed no sense of exclusion, his first reaction was to dismiss it summarily as most definitely not for him.  The decision made, he mooched off further into the thicket in front of him.  And, as he mooched, he thought,

“Why not me?”

Good sense might have provided him with more than one eminently plausible answer to his rhetorical questioning but these were drowned out by a sudden sense of self-belief fuelled by a tide of unexpressed frustration at his lowly station in life.  However, whilst the euphoria of the possible cast a shroud, no matter how nebulous and temporary, over the crystal clear image of the probable, he was not completely blind to the likelihood of their being other candidates for the position.  So, by way of preparation, he set out to meet with them surreptitiously to gauge their approach to it.  He would engage them in innocent conversation.  No-one could possibly guess at his true motivation.

The most obvious choice would be the lion.  He was of established pre-eminence.  And he was also irascible and somewhat unpredictable.  So the bird approached with caution, halting at the edge of the clearing amid the brush in which the massively muscled creature lazed with his similarly endowed entourage.  There was a collective twitching of ears at the arrival of the outsider.  Their leader swivelled his head sending a succession of waves through the thick mane which framed his regal face.  Seeing who it was he sneered,

“What do you want?”

Tripping clumsily over his fear the bird replied,

“Well, er, nothing really.  I was just wondering if you had heard the news.”

“What news?”  Now interested, but not deigning to show it.

“They’re looking for someone to communicate with all creation so that everyone can live happily or, er, something like that.”

“Pah!  That!  I’m not interested in that!  I’m far too bust being king of the jungle to worry about that.  Now go away.”

Rather nonplussed by the reaction of the lion the bird slowly turned and trundled away.  He took himself off to the very edge of the ocean where he had heard that the great whale held sway.  Lying just off-shore, his huge length seeming like a floating island, the whale snorted intermittent jets of spray high into the air.

“What,” snort, “can I,” snort, snort, “do for you?” Snort.

Creeping as close as he dared to the extremities of the fast incoming waters, the bird yelled at the top of his voice to be heard over the noise of the capering waves,

“I was just wondering what you thought of the news.”

“What,” snort, “news?”

“They’re looking for someone to talk to the whole of creation so that everyone can live in peace.  Something along those lines anyway.”

“Oh,” snort, “that.” Snort. “Sorry,” snort, “Too busy trying, “snort, “to catch enough,” snort, snort, “of these pesky little krill.” Snort, “to keep me going.” And with one final snort and a massive flip of his tail he was gone.

Surprised, but encouraged, by the answer the whale had given, the bird travelled to the foot of the beetling cliffs at the end of the plains.  Looking up he could just make out, soaring majestically on the uplift of the warm air, the profile of the eagle.  Flapping his own stumpy wings and hopping chaotically from one clumsy foot to the other he tried to catch the eagle’s attention horribly aware that the great predator might just mistake him for a meal.  Suddenly the eagle stooped, hurtling down the sheer face of the rocks toward the flopping, flapping visitor.  When he saw exactly who it was he spread wide his wings pummelling them powerfully against the air and pulled up short.

“Oh, it’s you.  What are you doing out here?”

“I just wanted to talk to you about what They are looking for.”

The eagle frowned pensively,

“You mean about wanting someone to communicate and so on?”

The bird nodded feverishly.

“You came all the way out here just to ask me that?”

More nodding.

“That’s of no interest to me.  I am as free as the air itself.  Why should I bother with anything like that?”

“Oh, no reason.”

With a mighty beat of his wings the eagle took to flight leaving the bemused bird to his musings.  Curiouser and still more curious.  No-ne seemed willing to take up the challenge.  His optimism swelled as he journeyed far away from the ocean’s shore, beyond the plains fringed by the lofty cliffs into the steaming jungle and out of the other side until he reached the Great Gateway.  Shimmering iridescent, it glided open at his nearing.  Without hesitation he entered and the gates hushed silently closed behind him.

And there They were, seated on a raised platform looking down imperiously at the bird, who felt, suddenly, very alone.

“You have come about the position.”  It was most definitely a statement of fact and not an inquiry.  The bird nodded furiously anyway.

“You understand what it entails.”  Another statement.  More nodding.

“When we have need of you We shall make you aware.  Go now.”

And go he did, as expeditiously as his stocky frame could manage.

Once more outside the gate, he heaved a huge sigh of relief and elation.  They had given him the job without demur or delay.  A foregone conclusion it all seemed in retrospect as, indeed, it was.  He puffed out his chest with pride at his achievement.  He fairly frothed with excitement.

At home, amidst more familiar surroundings, he contemplated the unique position in which he found himself.  The thrill of power and authority coursed through him.  He preened and pouted.  He caught a reflection of himself in a puddle and a thought struck him.  If he was to be really effective he would need to impress.  How could he possibly do that dressed in the dun coloured weeds that were his every day wear?  Surely they wouldn’t begrudge him a fine set of clothes to perform the position with appropriate gravitas?  So he voyaged back to the Great Gateway which, as before, swung open to him.  They were, of course, there waiting for him.  Barely had the notion of speech tapped at the door of his mind’s-eye than One spoke,

“Your wish for clothes is granted.  Go now.”

As the gates closed behind him, he looked down at himself.  Every inch was shimmering colour, and all tailored to fit.  As he moved, the myriad rainbows mutated ecstatically in kaleidoscopic motion.  He hurried to the nearest water the better to regard his image.  He gasped at the sight.  Here was truly a suit made to impress!

Again home, and the novelty of his apparel slightly dimmed, the bird gave himself to thought once more.  If he were to communicate Their messages to best effect, he would need a voice that was equal to the task.  He tried his own out for size.  An awkward squawk was all that he could manage.  It would never do.  Given the severity of the situation he felt sure that They would oblige.  So, he set off for the Great Gateway once more.

Through the gates and before Them the bird made to speak but One raised a hand – and perhaps just the one eyebrow - in mild reproof intoning,

“Your wish for a voice is granted.  Go now.”

Although his case had been clear as daylight yet still he was surprised at the ease and speed of Their acquiescence. Barely outside the gates he drank deeply of the pristine forest air and essayed a rather timid tonic sol-fa.  The music that he made was of the sweetest, lightest wine.  He was encouraged to change key and try once more with added brio:  bright top notes ringing sharp as a bell.  He trilled, chanted and carolled all the way home.

The morning found him deep in thought once more.  Impressive to both eye and ear he might be but these attributes would be as nought if he did not have the bearing to complement them.  They could only reach the same conclusion as he and he hurried to the Great Gateway to put the proposition forthwith.

He could not be sure but where, hitherto, he had been greeted with near complete impassivity, was there perhaps the merest hint of exasperation?  Maybe a hint of disappointment?  He dismissed such considerations in the instant that it took One of Them to agree a third time,

“Your wish for bearing is granted.  Go now.”

The bird backed out of Their presence and scampered through the Great Gateway pausing long enough to hug himself for the sheer, unalloyed joy of it all.  He simply could not wait to start practising.

Nor did he.  The very next day, without commencement of official duties, saw the bird strutting through the forest, chest and chin thrust forward in an affectation of supreme importance.  With a look of indifference which teetered on the very edge of disdain he surveyed each creature upon his path.  These, in their turn, scratched their collective and individual heads in bemusement.  There was that about this bird which was as familiar as a lifelong habit and yet the manner and raiment marked him out as something exceptional.  The more he spied, from the corner of his gimlet eye, what he perceived as respect and, quite possibly, awe, the more the bird primped and postured.  And all this he accessorised vocally with, “Good Day”, to each and all, now in a sonorous baritone, now with capering merriment, occasionally with a hint of menace or, again, with a companionable, cajoling warmth.

This caricature of eminence once passed, the creatures gathered in knots and clusters to discuss the identity of this personage at once so recognisable and yet so strange.  One story has it that it was the Owl who, by the application of that wisdom and perspicacity for which he is noted, first clarified the mystery.  Others say that it was the wily old Fox, he who made it his business to know everything about everyone, always who bottomed the conundrum.  Who honestly can say?  But revealed the truth was.  And the chattering classes broadcast it throughout woodland, pasture, plain, river, sea and ocean.  The bird heard, and his self-aggrandisement, thus nourished, bloated yet further.  In the blindness of his new-found arrogance, the bird could not, indeed did not want to, see that his appearance and demeanour sat ill with fellows accustomed to one of much humbler mien.

The day came when the first edict was revealed to the bird for onward, and outward, communication to the furthest corners and to everyone and everything that lived therein.  It concerned the sequencing of watering habits at the seasonally swollen rivers.  The existing free-for-all, amongst other drawbacks, risked the lives of smaller creatures, and the premature drying up of the waterways.  The new, streamlined system would organise and stagger the arrival of different species and super-sets of symbiotic relationships.  The programme would work to the benefit of all.  (Though the ever presence of the crocodiles would clearly need further work!)

The bird received his mission with excitement, pride and a deal of trepidation despite the gifts with which he had been endowed.  Expectations would be sky-high and he was determined that he would not be found wanting.  He gave the matter his utmost attention.  Its every detail he committed to memory, breaking the whole down into more readily assimilated portions, practising these by rote and finally reassembling the totality.  He rehearsed a plethora of possible deliveries, seeking out the most appropriate and nuancing these to the finest degree.  His coat he would burnish to a diamantine splendour.  He would comport himself with dignity in all things.  These would be bravura performances for each would be modified and modulated to accord with each distinct audience, and circumstance, the better to convey the essence, and particulars, of the message.

This narrative need not be populated with the specifics of how the bird acquitted himself.  Suffice it to say that he gave his all.  The degree to which he succeeded is attested to by the calm which attends the enjoyment of the fruits of the rainy seasons at the great waterways of the planet.  This said, there would be those who aver that this had more to do with the excellence of the message than its messenger.

Having accomplished his first task, the bird was keen to underscore his presence and so, in the absence of further official demands  upon his oratorical skills, he wandered the paths far and wide accosting unsuspecting gatherings and addressing them fortissimo; welcome or, more usually, not.

The second directive concerned the timing and destination for annual migration and subsequent return.  The current confusion saw a sporadic blackening of the skies as a myriad different families took to the air with attendant late arrivals, no-shows and casualties.  Popular landing sites saw a superabundance of arrivals, more than could effectively, or comfortably, be accommodated.  A more commodious programme was set out with allocation of departure time to specific groups who would circle in a holding pattern until, a flock having agglomerated, they could journey forth to a similarly allocated terminus.

Again the bird practised from the dawn chorus until the dying notes of the day that he might do justice to the significance of the assignment.  He weighed the task complete.  He left no appurtenance unaddressed.  Word-perfect and polished, he took the message to the last crack and crevice of land and sea.

But witness the mighty gatherings, the organised clouds that seasonally swirl above before the trek to warmer climes for evidence of the efficacy of the decree.  Hear too, though, the muted, but massing, mutterings that style might just be becoming the enemy of substance.

They saw the implementation of their plans and were encouraged to make pronouncements on such varied issues as, fishing rights at the frozen extremities of the worlds, light and airspace in the steaming jungles and leafy forests, and the moderation of temperatures across the continents.  The bird delivered them all with never-faltering verve and virtuosity, each presentation and performance, and each such exhibition, underpinned by incessant, and somewhat annoying, practise.  He gloried in his role.  His audiences, sadly, increasingly, did not.  The palate of their attention became jaded with the too-rich fare of his declamation.  And so, little by little, those to whom he was meant to be the conduit for a greater sense of order, peace and tranquillity, became inured to the blandishments of the emissary.  The despatches went unheeded.  Progress in the great project stalled.  They saw all, and were not pleased.

It was made known to the bird that They required his presence and he duly made the long journey to the Great Gateway to present himself before Them.  One spoke.

“We asked only that you communicate with all creation that each one might live in harmony with his fellows.  But you asked for a better appearance.  We agreed.  You asked for a better voice.  Again we agreed.  You asked for a better bearing.  Once more we agreed.  With all of this you have failed us.  Go now.”

The audience, and his tenure, now both unquestionably at an end, the bird turned and made his sorry way back to the Great Gateway.  Outside he chanced to see himself reflected in a small pool of standing water.  All trace of his splendid apparel was gone.  He made to sing his sadness in melancholic melody but all that came was a caustic croak.  Still, he had his pride.  He would bear all with propriety and restraint.  But, try as he might, his stiff upper lip refused to set and the tears of frustration coursed down his face to drip, unchecked and inelegantly from the tip of his beak.  There was nothing for it but to make the flight home in disgrace.  But as he flapped his wings for take-off he realised that this too was now denied him.  If only he had been himself, he thought ruefully. Now, not quite bird and not at all mammal, he wasn’t even that.  With a heavy heart, and even heavier tread, he clumped back whence he came…..Doh, doh, doh, doh…….Dodo.   




Monday, 26 November 2018

Another excerpt from 'Jig Doller'

This is another excerpt from my novella 'Jig Doller'

'One afternoon he was wedged onto a seat in the municipal park, knees splayed, elbows resting thereon and pushing up forearms as pit props to a very heavy head.  His eyes, overhung by straggling brows which sieved the sunlight, brooded unseeing over the lawn before him.  A flashing detail to his right, too peripheral to be seen with any clarity, broke into his ugly reverie.  Without shifting his precarious house of cards, he skewed his vision in the direction of the interruption and made out a small gathering of children seated like acolytes before a messiah.  Their gaze was fixed upon the stooped figure of an old man with skin the colour of weathered teak who was sat astride an old tea chest.  In a voice which seemed to be dredging up from beneath the turves themselves he was crooning a song to the beat of which three dolls were dancing, somewhat erratically, before him.  The audience was transfixed, breaking their reverential silence only to gasp or whoop with delight whenever one of the trio executed a particularly sudden or outlandish manoeuvre.

Slowly, painfully, Joe unfolded himself and rose, rather hesitantly, from the bench.  He shambled over toward the entertainment, coming to rest at the back of the gathering, weaving slightly in the tepid breeze.  Several of the children looked round uneasily at his approach but, as his mooring was several paces behind them, chose to ignore him and return their attention to the show.  As he watched, Joe felt the stirrings of an emotion that he only vaguely recollected.  He could not recognise it.  Time had not treated it well.  But it felt good, wholesome and steady.  And then the show was over.  The aged performer stood up, stowed his troupe and its dance floor away in the packing case, and moved off – Joe did not notice where – and the small crowd, suddenly animated, broke up and dispersed, chattering merrily into the onrushing evening.  Joe too turned away, somewhat saddened, and ground out the distance back to his inimical household.

Quite by chance – or, at least, that’s what Joe professed to himself – there he was again next day, on the same seat in the municipal park, at exactly the same time of day, observing a small knot of children begin to gather on the  grass away to his right.  A slight tingle of their excited anticipation seemed to communicate itself to Joe even at that distance and, before he could give the matter any thought at all, he was wandering over to wait with them.  The group in front of Joe had probably doubled in size by the time the gaunt, black man appeared before the crowd and set down the old packing case he was carrying.  From the recesses of the box he fished out three painted dolls and a plank.  Deftly he flipped the tea-chest over and set himself down upon it.  The jointed limbs of the dolls jerked in brief, uncoordinated spasms as he positioned them on the plank.  The chatter of the children lulled to a low murmur, then ceased altogether as the old man, eyes half closed, began to sing, at which point, as if by magic, and in perfect time to the music, the three dolls began to sport and play merrily upon the plank..  As the voice rose, the steps of the puppets became more pronounced and the enjoyment of the audience more audible.  Joe was totally consumed.  He was the adult, appreciating the dexterity of the jig doller; his uncanny ability to perform the several tasks of his art to perfection at the same time.  He was the child, thrilling to the kicks and waves of the dancers.  And he was the embittered old drunk, his heart warming, ever so slightly, at the innocent joy of the youngsters who were being so royally entertained.

Joe would have been unable to explain why, but that evening’s trek back to the house seemed less doom-laden than of late.  The several night caps he gulped back before retiring had recovered some of their savour.  Though the nightmares which infested his bedtime hours still doused him liberally, their curdling violence was, to some small degree, moderated.  He slept a little.

It was only after several visits to the park that Joe plucked up the courage to sit amongst the children to enjoy the dancing dolls.  His presence was a distinct novelty to the youngsters but his obvious happiness so chimed with their own that their acceptance of him was soon complete.  Joe, for his part, experienced a deep sense of sincere fraternity that had never before troubled his existence.  He chortled his amusement along with theirs.  He swayed in unison with choruses.  He echoed the whoops of delight.  And he felt the disappointed satisfaction that descended with the completion of the show.

It must have been a month later when Joe, having gravitated, by degrees, to the front row of the audience, approached the old dance master as he was decamping at the end of his performance.  He wanted only to see the dancing dolls close up but, in that, it seemed to him as though he would be asking for the world and all of its riches.  He felt the full weight of a crushing refusal before he had even begun to fashion the bare bones of a request.  Joe physically faltered.  The old man looked up and beckoned him forward.  Joe tottered haltingly on, as though being dared to look over the sheer face of a dizzying cliff, then stopped again within touching distance of the dolls which lay sprawled now upon their dance floor.  The puppeteer studied Joe momentarily, then a pair of plump-pillow lips first pursed then ballooned a brilliance of ivory and occasional gold.  Without a word being spoken Joe’s cracked, shaking fingers were suddenly being masterfully, but gently, moulded into control of the dancers.  The packing case seat had been vacated and Joe was installed upon it.  Timidly, gnawed with embarrassment, he began, unconvincingly, to beat the plank upon which the three performers limply stood.  At first their movements were slight, frustratingly haphazard.  As Joe plied the plank with greater confidence, but with no demonstrably increased skill, their steps became ostentatiously arrhythmic.  Joe’s initial diffidence had all but melted and he was hammering away at the plank, dolls’ arms and legs flying madly in all directions, when he noticed a solitary straggler from the audience watching intently.  The brio and bravura of Joe’s performance crumbled.  Now anxious to be rid of the dolls, he looked round in alarmed confusion for the old man whose place he had so rudely usurped.  He was nowhere to be seen; had vanished as though never there.  His entrails knotting and convulsing with panic, Joe groped blindly for what to do next.  His first thought was to upturn the tea-chest, throw in the dolls and their plank and, leaving them to their fate, escape as quickly as his raddled legs would permit.  But the eyes of the child were still upon him, now almost expectant, demanding.  From some dark corner, Joe felt impelled to salvage a shrivel of dignity.  Sweeping together as much of the dry husks of self-control as he could find, Joe stood, dislodging, in the process, the beam on which rested the dolls, fought for his balance, clung onto the dancers, then leant precariously over the tea-chest and wrestled it over.  With another lunge for the floor he recovered the plank and put it, along with he dolls into the box.  Trying vainly to make the pantomime of minor disasters look as though it was part of a well rehearsed ritual, Joe took up the tea-chest and, studiously avoiding the gaze of the young onlooker, struggled away across the park.

Joe was desperate not to be noticed but managed to achieve quite the opposite effect.  His already laboured gait was accentuated by the awkward load he was bearing and his attempts at haste only made matters worse.  The plank, protruding from the mouth of the tea-chest seemed intent on tripping him and the sharp edges and corners of the box bit at his shins and ankles until Joe could feel his broken skin catching then freeing, by niggling turns, on the nap of his trousers.  Pedestrians gave him a wide berth as he zigzagged brokenly along the pavement.  He breathed a huge sigh of relief – between groans and gasps of pain – as he rounded the corner into the alleyway behind the street on which his house stood.  The latent, furtive shame which had drawn him onwards dictated that he hide the package at the back of an outbuilding in the yard, just as he had, in recent times, concealed from his sisters the bottles of whiskey which he would seek out at later, more propitious date, and unseen moment, in order to introduce them to the house.  Having covered the dolls, board and packing case with an old tarpaulin and still sweating profusely from his exertions, he hobbled back round to the front door and, attempting a sang-froid which was manifestly beyond him, he rattled his key clumsily into the lock and let himself in.  Dreading that he might come face-to-face with a glacial inquisition, Joe tried to creep noiselessly down the passageway to the parlour.  In the silence, the dead thudding of his insensate feet seemed, to Joe, to reverberate throughout the house like a series of dinner gongs.  He cringed into the walls and so proceeded, in small bounces, along the border of the corridor to the darkened room in which he could, at last, claim asylum. 

Still wrapped in his overcoat, Joe deflated into his armchair and sat motionless for a few moments staring upwards toward the ceiling.  He felt himself beset by a tortuous conundrum – the more intractable for being one of his own making.  He had taken possession of the jig doll show and now, for no valid reason that he could think of, he felt horribly committed to doing something with it.  Equally forcibly, he felt himself totally incapable of actually doing anything with the contraption.  Indeed, now that he thought about the dolls, ensconced in the darkness in the old storeroom, he felt strangely intimidated.  Having wandered around the issue more than several times, and having poked it sharply from numerous angles, he made the momentous decision to do precisely nothing.  And slid from his pocket a half bottle of whiskey which, without the assistance of a glass, he duly despatched, thus blurring and soothing the irascible edges of the problem to that fine line of drowsiness over which he gratefully stumbled to his usual restive slumber.

The second hand morning acknowledged Joe with distaste as he wrestled himself free of the old armchair and made for the kitchen where he confidently expected to find, thinly disguised as a jar of pickles laid down for Christmas, a bottle of cheap, blended but perfectly potable whiskey.  However, though he rummaged at the back of the cupboard over a phalanx of guardian chutneys; though he emptied the contents of the shelf out onto the table and inspected each jar intimately; though he balanced precariously atop the lame, old ladder-backed chair with the thinning raffia seat and thrust his head into the cupboard; though he did all these things, Joe was unable to find what he had hoped would provide the early lubrication of the day.  Surrounded by the rubble of his excavations, Joe was forced to conclude that the sisters had intervened.  Shaken, and shaking, he slumped down into the chair and rubbed his abrasive chin with uncertain hands.  He had no great desire to encounter the two women gloating icily – as doubtless they would be – over their victory in this latest skirmish but he felt ill-prepared, in his dry state, to attempt a bid for freedom through the back door.  As he pondered his predicament with growing anxiety, a vague, vagrant recollection stumbled across him.  There had been, in the store-shed in the yard, a collection of old bottles.  Quite possibly, amongst them, there might be a little something to ease him onto the streets.  This ray of hope glowed but briefly since this particular train of thought brought back to him a vision of three dancing dolls, a packing case and an old plank, all lurking menacingly beneath a tarpaulin in the same outbuilding.  Ensnared in a completely disproportionate maelstrom of contrary forces, Joe froze, great gobbets of sweat brimming from every pore.  The sudden sound of two sets of feet like lugubrious drumbeats moving evenly down the passageway broke the impasse long enough for Joe to snatch up his coat, spill into the cobbled yard and tack deliriously across to the gate breaching it just as two grim faces loomed across the kitchen window. 

Joe’s credit was still good at Macey’s where a double served to restore a measure of equilibrium.  From the softer side of a second large one, he could readily agree that his fear of the dolls was totally irrational.  His dread of the two sisters, however, was not and was to be heeded at all costs, but that was a different matter.  No, the puppets had no hold over him, he concluded, and he would do with them what he wanted, in his own good time – which wasn’t now.'

I hope that you have enjoyed this sample from 'Jig Doller'.  If you want to read the whole story get in touch with me at bob.elvis@hotmail.co.uk.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A Love Poem

This poem was written specially for my son's wedding:



A Walkman of a word.

A slip it in your pocket and forget it

Sort of a word.

Easily missed among the clutter of emotions,

Small change that changes nothing,

Least said soonest ended,

To coin a phrase.


A slack-jawed imprecision of a word.

A tossed away tissue; slightly (sadly) soiled

Sort of a word.

A silver filling in the gap-toothed smile,

The near forgotten, pretty-polly reflex.

A cross stitch in time,

So to say.


A dark-eyed dissembler of a word.

A shape-changing juggler of truth, hypocrisy and half-truth

Sort of a word.

The shuffling, shifting smoke of mirrors.

Leave the skulking skeletons in the cupboard

And the bones of your sleeping dogs lie,

If you get my meaning.

But only hone this half-a-heartbeat,

Set the target fair.

Lard it with significance

And lay the entrails bare.

Infuse the weakling word with heart and soul.

Alloy in it your dreamings; make them whole.

Lived in mighty fullness,

In the full glare of truth and beauty,

It will become your crucible of ages,

The purest form of alchemy.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


The following publications of my work are available direct from me.  Please contact me by e-mail on bob.elvis@hotmail.co.uk

'Old Friends':  A set of 8 short stories depicting a harsh, melancholic but realistic view of enduring old age.
Price:  £3.00 +  £1.00 p&p

'The Village': Presenting a vision of village life through 8 vignettes of those who live it.
Price: £3.00 + £1.00 p&p

'Significant Others': 8 short stories demonstrating various aspects of relationship.
Price: £3.00 + £1.00 p&p

'Re-Told Tales': An illustrated re-presentation of traditional stories.
Price: £4.00 + £1.00 p&p