Behind Bars

What have I done wrong in life to deserve this? Bars – shiny bars – trapped, there’s no escape. But the chance will present itself, and I’ll seize the moment and be gone! Just you wait and see. Mind you – on saying that – is it in my best interest to escape? I mean – all things taken into consideration, life’s pretty cushty in here. I may be deprived of love, affection, and company, but at least I’m fed and watered, and look at all this straw, there’s enough to stuff a pillow. I wonder what the penalty for escape is; death! The worst they can do is kill me. My mind’s made up, I’m going to go for it, tomorrow, or the day after – I will have my freedom – just you watch!

The heavy oak door opened. Muffled voices, almost whisperers, and the sound of shuffling feet, lots of feet, reached my ears. This sudden activity a total contrast from the occasional gurgle of a water-pipe amidst the stillness of the night. But this is routine, the same time every morning. Except for weekends that is, then I could die and rot, no one would notice or care. As long as I stayed still, I would be ignored, maybe glanced at, but left in peace. Most who walked in front of my bars did so obliviously, not in any way, shape or form registering my existence – let alone my presence. Except for one that is. A mean, evil looking individual, who seemed to enjoy the attention that being cruel brought him. I remember the first time I saw his fat, acne covered face. He pushed a large stick between the bars, jabbing, poking, provoking me into a reaction. Johnny, the culprit’s name was, he obviously got pleasure from mistreating me because the big cheesy grin never left his fat, puffy face. I hated the very sight of that brain dead moron, and then some. I swore that one day I would have my revenge. One way or the other.

“Come along Children – quick as you can – keep the noise down, you’re not at a football match. – Pick your feet up Johnny.” Instructed Mrs. Honeybuttock over the din of the Children as they filed into class. The sound of scraping chairs lessened as the class settled in, then subsided completely. The Children, hands clasped together on their desktops, eyes front, focused on Mrs. Honeybuttock, now looked angelic, as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.
“Right Children, pay attention! After I call the register, we need to start preparing for End Of Term close down. ”
Mrs. H, as she was referred to by her pupils, behind her back, of course, was a stereotypical, glasses on the end of the nose, Dickensian battle-axe, who didn’t flinch or hesitate to clip an ear or scuff a head with an efficient slap.

Mrs. Treadwell (Joyce) was ecstatic, her new sofa was due for delivery this morning. She’d waited a long time for this moment, five years in fact. She sprang to her feet full of excitement.
“They’re here! I mean it’s here. Get the door, Fred. Hurry up, they’re coming up the path, they don’t want to be holding that new sofa all day.” Faffed Joyce.
“Calm down Pet, you’ll wet ya’sen.” said Fred, folding his daily paper, then tossing it onto the dining room table. He stood up, hooked his thumbs under his bracers then stretched them over his shoulders. Bending at the knees, he performed a Rock – on – Tommy impression, that failed to impress Joyce then he headed for the door.

” Come on Chaps – straight through – mind the step.”
” Morning Mr. Treadwell. It’s not heavy, just awkward, but we’ll manage. Just make sure the way is clear.”
” No probs – just head for that heavenly choral sounding foghorn.”
” Yoo-hoo! In here pet’s. Mind the best China.”
The two delivery lads followed the instructions given by Joyce, and soon the Sofa was in its place, unwrapped of its protective plastic, there for everyone to see and admire.
Full of glee, Joyce held out a brand new un-creased slippery fiver.
” Here you are Lads, get yourselves a bag of chips.”
Fred and Joyce stood on the step, waved goodbye to the Delivery Men, then dashed back indoors to admire the new, all singing, all dancing sofa.

Mrs. Honeybuttock clapped her hands together to attract the classes’ attention. Satisfied they were all hers, she continued.
” Right Children, according to my records, Johhny Treadwell, it’s your turn to look after Clive.”
Clive – that’s me. Yes, I know it’s a stupid name for a Hamster, but I had no say in the matter. I’m sure you’ll all agree though, my real name, Terry, is much more fitting.
” Aw, Miss! Must I?”
” Yes, you must! You know the rules, just make sure you remember to take Clive’s goody bag home with you and bring him back in one piece.”

After a day spent showing off the new sofa, and testing various sitting positions, Joyce and Fred sat back to await the arrival of their beloved offspring, Johhny.
” Here he is now.” Declared Mom. ” What’s that he’s carrying?”
” It looks some sort of cage, you never know with that little bleeda.”
” I’m home!” Yelled Johnny.
” We’re in the front room pet.” Shouted Mom in reply.
Johnny, with his arms full, entered the room.
” What’s got theeya son?” Asked Dad.
” It’s the Class Hamster – and his names’ Clive. I’ve got to look after him until after the Holidays.”
” Bring him here, let’s have a dekka.”
As Johnny approached the sofa, holding the cage at arm’s length, Mom pulled her legs up and squirmed.
” Don’t bring it near me! You know that I hate the furry critters!”

I will never forget what happened next. One minute I was curled up in my bed of straw, dreaming that I was having a luncheon on board a Carribean yacht with Mrs. Honeybuttock, next thing I know, I’m gamboling through the air. It felt as though I was in a tumble dryer, but that’s another story.
Suddenly, there was such an almighty crash bang wallop. I thought my time had come, my little heart pounded. After what seemed like an eternity, I poked my twitching nose outside. Devastation, complete and utter devastation, my entire little world had been trashed. The water bowl had tipped up, soaking everything, my dish of De-Lux Rodent Pellets was in three pieces, the contents everywhere, swelling in size with water, and my wheel, my beloved wheel, the one that I used to spend hours in, running round and round, lay on its side on the roof, that was now the floor.
And then I saw it, the cage door was open, a gaping square hole. I tell you what – I’ve never reacted and moved so fast in my life. While the Humans bickered, I made my move!

” You stupid little oaf, now look what you’ve done! ” Scolded Dad.
“But – but they’re your slippers, you shouldn’t leave them lying around, someone could break their neck.” Said, Johnny, defensively.
Mom’s bum was two feet off the sofa when she screamed. ” Aaaaghh! THE BLOODY HAMSTER’S OUT!”
I ran up Fred’s leg, then dived between the cushions, and squirmed my way into the dark interior of Joyce’s new sofa. Outside the bickering continued, accusations and curses flew. Five podgy fingers groped blindly in the dark.”I’ll get the little toe rag, Mom, get the cage ready.”
I was cornered, the podgy porkers touched my whiskers, and then grabbed me.
“GOT HIM – GOT HIM!” Yelled Johnny triumphantly.
His grip was so tight, I thought my ribs were going to crack, so I opened my mouth as wide as possible to reveal my two milk-white incisors. Without hesitating, I bit down hard, drawing blood, and achieving instant release.
His scream, I bet it was heard two streets away. Serves him right.

Seven Months I’ve lived here now, life’s a doddle, they’ll never catch me, unless Joyce carries out her threat, and gets a Cat.

The Hunter leaves

Orion The Hunter as dominated our night sky throughout the Winter months. His appearance all those months ago heralded the end of Autumn. He brought us, Winter, with its driving rain that saturated the ground, turning the once green fields into mud, and, as if we hadn’t had enough of it, even as I write, the wind hurls buckets of it against the windowpanes.
He’s up there now, hunting in the darkness, above the clouds in a far away place. Sometimes he creeps past, seen but not heard, his stealth as he passes through the stillness of the night freezes all below him, at other times, he whips up the wind to flush his prey.
His bow is held ready, his Hounds follow at his heels, he will take… The weak, slow, and the unprepared.

Orion The Hunter follows an ancient trail, if he strays from its path, he will meet his end. We too must follow this trail, and learn to live as the hunted. It is said that Man is top of the food chain and that he has no natural enemies. Well, as you know, Man has lots of enemies, but with effort and determination, these enemies are thankfully being overcome.
There is, however, one enemy that lives with us all, and evades cure.
This enemy that pursues us relentlessly as we travel life’s path, is of course time. Time is the hunter, it gives and it takes. 

The lives and routines of ancient civilizations were ruled by the Heavens. And although we like to think differently, the same applies in today’s World.
Spring forward, Fall back, we can adjust and fiddle about with the time, but it’s Mother Nature who makes the rules and sets the pace. We just play along. You can’t cheat time, or can you?

As The Hunter exits stage West, his hounds follow, taking Winter with them.
They will still make their presence felt, yapping at the Scorpion, that is now rising in the East, shadowing them across the eternal Universe.
Slowly but surely the Winter Circle leaves us, pulling the hardship of Winter with it. Meanwhile, in the East, the Summer Triangle rises, bringing with it Spring and the promise of warmer days.
Already, the garden is showing signs of waking up, the buds on the Forsythia are poised ready to erupt, their golden coloration a welcoming sight after the drabness of Winters almost monochrome palette. A foretaste of what’s to come.
I hope you enjoy the seasonal transition, keep your eyes peeled for harbingers, there will be many, and they’ll make you smile like a Cheshire Cat.

The Cold Moon.

What do you think of when you see a Full Moon? Monday 21st January brings you the first full Moon of the year, known as The Cold Moon. At a time of year when the nights are long and dark, the light of a Full Moon can be magical, adding skin tingling expectation to the charcoal hours. It’s that in between light that almost reveals, but also hides the monsters of our imagination. What the eye can’t see… we like to think we are alone inside an ebony bubble, protected from the night’s nasties. But the Goddess of the Moon, Queen of the night, would like to sharpen your senses, play a few tricks and make your heart beat that little faster.


Why not let Her? Our very own Moon gazed upon by every person that has ever lived, ignites a spark within our imaginations. The Man In The Moon, Howling Wolves, fact and fiction, myths, legends, there is so much to choose from. Any amount of knowledge will enhance your lunar experience.

During the early hours of Monday Morning, there will be a Lunar Eclipse, the only one of the year, so don’t miss it. Even if you only take a peek through the curtains, make a wish, then go back to bed, that’s enough, you will have at least satisfied your curiosity.

I shall be sat Outside on my bench, wrapped up warm, ready to observe this Celestial treaty.

I hope you get to see it and your wish comes true.

Tom’s Last Wish.

Tom, sobbing, and bloody-nosed, reached into the cardboard box and with frail trembling hands, he lifted the Gull. He cradled Turlok to his chest, rocking him as a mother would her baby.
“Shh, you’ll be ok little Pal.” Sniffed tom, as he gently stroked the gull’s crimson-stained feathers.

Meanwhile, back in outer space: “Sir! Lieutenant Turlok needs help, his alarm is beeping.” Reported 1st mate Zonger.
“Then get our best team down there and help him out.” Replied Commander Zorg, without turning from the communication screen. He had witnessed everything on the Gullcam.

“Tom – make your wish, I’ll put things right here.” Said LT Trillion, leader of the landing party.
After gently kissing the bird on its head, Tom placed it back in the box. As soon as he released his hold on the injured Turlok, the words flooded into his head. I wish to be in between. A second time, much louder, demanding, I wish to be in between.

Tom sat on the grassy bank of the stream, his legs bent bringing his knees up to his chest. The crystal clear water babbled an endless melody. From the leafy trees, warblers sang. High in the blue of Summer, a Raptor stooped, roller coasting for all to see. Tom threw a small twig upstream, then watched it bob past in front of him, it reminded him of a ship on a stormy sea. It disappeared, out of sight.
He looked at his hands; they were clean, youthful and strong. Tom was no longer 68, but 28. He realized someone was approaching from behind him. He turned his head, the bright Sunlight made him raise a hand to shield his eyes. It’s a girl, he told himself. He watched as she picked her way across the Summer filled meadow. Her frock disturbed Dandelion clocks and sent Bees buzzing as if annoyed by the disturbance. Beauty radiated from the young woman. It’s Ethel! He stood and quickly brushed his hands over his trousers, then beckoned her toward him. They greeted each other with a warm smile followed by a tender hug, then they sat, side by side on the grassy bank. Ethel linked an arm through Tom’s, then smiling, she tilted her head to rest it on his shoulder. Tom then tilted his head and gently rested it against Ethel’s. With each other’s scent filling their nostrils and the aquatic melody of the stream filling their ears they both closed their eyes.

“Right, that should do, for now, I want him checked every hour, call me as soon as there’s any change.” Said Doctor Larus, spinning to face the door, then swiftly exiting without a response.
“Do you think he’ll make it?” Asked a concerned voice. It was yuura, Turlok’s wife.
“He will.” Answered the duty medic confidently.

Tom Meets Tulok.

“Bye love, keep wrapped up, it’s still chilly in that wind.” Shouted Ethel after her Husband as he left the house.
“I will sweetheart, don’t you fret.” The late April sunshine made Tom squint, but, as his wife had said: it’s still chilly. So off he set towards their Nest Egg, at a brisk as possible pace.
The Ice-cream kiosk had been his idea, he’d sold the dream to Ethel no problem; we’ll make a fortune, rake it in we will, all I’ve got to do is sell ice cream to snotty nosed kids. His every word swam around inside his worried head: Like heck, we will, if this season doesn’t come up trumps we’re finished, good and proper. He thought.

The first two seasons had been flops, unkind weather and the out of the way location of the kiosk had seen to that. Rhyl was a tough place to make a living at the best of times.
This year WILL be better, I’ll make sure of that. Said Tom’s inner voice with conviction. With renewed vigor, Tom straightened up and picked up the pace, he kicked an empty Coke can that rattled along the pavement, just missing a scrawny Pigeon that searched for food scraps, causing it to hop into the gutter.
First Day of the bloody season and look at it, pathetic hole, even the Gulls look as if they’ve had their fill of the place. Still, it’s early yet, plenty of time for things to pick up.

Morning Tom.” Came the voice from across the street. It was Herbert who owned The Golden Goose souvenir shop, he had just finished putting out his pavement display of kiss me quick hats and shrimp nets. Tom assessed the traffic, picked his moment, and quick-stepped between two slowly moving cars. Safely across he approached the portly figure of Herbert.
“Hello, Herbert, ready for it?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be Tom. I say, did you see that bolt of lightning last night? Lit the entire seafront up it did, and the weird thing is, there was no storm.”
“Saw nothing of it mate, Ethel went to bed early, so I indulged in a few nips of the old Heathen Fire Water, that was me zonked until six this morning. Look, I’ve got to dash, those ice creams won’t sell themselves, more’s the pity.”
“Okey-doke Tom, I hope your day goes well, see you later.”
Herbert watched Tom until he lost sight of him, on the now busier promenade, before he himself disappeared into his shop.

The sea breeze helped thin the dark cloud of depression that hung over Tom’s head, the cry of Herring Gulls coupled with the smell of tourism, cheered him up. This would be the year that saved the bacon. He hummed a tune: zipperdy doo dah…

Earlier that morning while most people slept, a large spacecraft came into Earth’s orbit.
“I don’t care who you send, just get someone down there.” Thundered Commander Zorg of the imperial fleet.
“He’s on his way as we speak Sir, we’ve sent Lieutenant Tulok, he’s chosen to go disguised as a Seagull.” Reported 1st Mate Zonger.
In a bright, violent flash, they transported LT Tulok to earth.
“Right, hold a steady orbit until we hear it’s safe to go in. Keep us cloaked and on RED ALERT.” Ordered Commander Zorg.

Tom’s cinder block kiosk was now in sight, only another 100 yards away. It’s like a prison cell, thought Tom. Even if I charged Ten Quid for a lolly, I wouldn’t make enough to make ends meet. I wish I’d never laid eyes on it.

But this morning there was something different about the place, the hairs on his neck stood up, there was something on the floor in front of the shuttered serving hatch. My God… My God, it’s a Seagull. Tom hurried the last few yards then knelt beside the injured bird. “C’mon little pal, let’s get you inside.” Said Tom soothingly as he picked up the cold, limp body of Turlok. Once inside, Tom busied himself preparing a box for his unexpected guest.
“There there, you’ll be warm and safe in here.” Said, Tom, as he placed the Gull into a nest of fluffy tea towels. Continue reading “Tom Meets Tulok.”

The Christmas Wish.

Little Emily stood in the large bay of the living room window staring out at the Stars that twinkled in the clear Sky.
A snowfall earlier that afternoon had refreshed the white blanket that covered the gardens, and now Jack Frost ran around waving his Wand making the ground glisten and sparkle.
Dark shapes shuffled along the pavement, some tipping their hats in silent greeting, cautious of slipping. The hollow bark of a Dog sounded through the dark still evening. A sleigh drawn by two Horses black as coal drove through the cone of light under the Gas Lamp.

The log on the open fire crackled sending orange sparks dancing up the chimney. Emily could feel its warmth on her back and see its glowing image waving to her in the window.
She could also see the reflection of the Christmas Tree, its branches draped with golden beads, and hung with glass baubles that returned the fire’s glow. Chocolates and candy stripped walking sticks for the Children, were fastened to the green-needled branches with red ribbon.

It was Christmas Eve, but why was Emily so sad?
She was sad because only three months earlier, her twin Sister Judith had died of Polio. Her beloved Grandparents had also passed away that Summer, leaving a massive hole in Emily’s heart. She missed them all so much. Even now on the threshold of Christmas Day, as she stared up at the Stars, she wept. A teardrop escaped and ran down her cheek, leaving a watery trail for the next one to follow. 

Emily stared at the silver slither Moon, her lips quivering with emotion, more tears, silent tears, escaped.

Suddenly! A Shooting Star crossed the inky Heavens slashing the black canvas like a sharpened blade.
Make a wish – make a wish! Thought Emily.
Speaking out loud Emily made her wish. “I wish Judith and my Grand Parents were here with me.”

A shriek of child’s laughter pierced the air, causing Emily to spin round so fast that her pigtails whipped her ears. Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open in disbelief…

There on the burgundy Chesterfield was Gran and Grandad and squeezed between them squirmed little Judith, trying to escape Grandad’s tickling. The room was filled with the sound of playful laughter.

Beaming with joy, Emily ran and threw herself enthusiastically at her beloved Kin wrapping her arms around them. She sobbed tears of happiness into Grandpa’s jumper. He smelt so good. They were all good! The emotions could be held back no more, the four hugged each other tightly, laughing and crying together.

The living room door was flung open with such force that the large brass handle thudded against the wall. Shocked, Emily lifted her face from Grandpa’s jumper and peered over his shoulder… it was Mommy. She hurried into the room, her right hand holding her long dress so that she didn’t trip over it. She rushed past the sofa without so much as glancing at it, and went straight to the bay window, where she fell wailing beside the body of a young girl. Holding the girl’s head to her bosom, she rocked back and forth crying.
Emily’s expression changed to one of shocked concern. Her little hands tightened on Grandad’s jumper and she tugged.
“Grandad, who’s that little girl Mommy’s holding?” Emily enquired.
Grandad’s kind eyes peered over the thin-framed gold spectacles and met Emily’s panicky stare.
“Why that’s you, of course, Princess. – you’re dead!”

Childhood Disaster.

On the 21st October 1966 the Village of Aberfan – South Wales, appeared on the television screen in front of me. 

I was seven years old at the time, two, maybe three years younger than the 116 Children that were taken on that Day.

I wasn’t watching the News purposely, I was sitting ready to watch Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the flowerpot men or the Wooden Tops.
Our Television was old… black and white only, but adequate to display the images of that fateful Day. Those tragic images were burned into my memory, like a Cowboy using a branding iron.
Until that Day, I had only experienced emotions of love,  kindness, maybe a glimpse of frustration every now and again, but suddenly…only feet from my face: images of tearful Mothers, their eyes wide and wet as they watched Men dig with their bare hands in sheer desperation to find and save their Children.

I wasn’t traumatized by the events of that Day, nor did I cry, but the memory of Aberfan and its lost Children was to stay with me through the years. So much so that last week I had to visit them in their resting place. I’m so glad that I did.

High on the western slope of the Taff Valley above the village of Aberfan, overlooking as if keeping guard of their childhood playground is the resting place of those innocent Souls that lost their lives all those years ago.
The white marble bright as a bonfire burning at night projects its presence along the entire valley making a clear statement: WE ARE HERE!  

I passed through the Cemetary Gates onto an uneven path bordered by large Caledonian Pines, their needles unswept for a long time littered the floor, crooked Headstones covered in lichens, and green with age produced an image of secluded neglect. 
I slowly gazed the steep cemetery and at the very top of the slope, there they were!

The uneven gritty path, broken and crumbling in places was steep, so steep in fact my Electic Wheelchair was struggling for power, I even had to reverse up at times to prevent myself from tipping over backward. Determined to get closer to the Kids I pushed on, literally.

Apart from my Brother John and myself, the Cemetary was deserted. The only noise that of Jackdaws calling from the Village below. Our progress was surely watched by unseen eyes.

I slowly maneuvered my wheelchair along the row of graves, reading the heart touching tributes placed by grieving parents as I went. Short, simple verses that ripped the heart of the reader wide open.
After reading the last verse I turned to look back at the white  row of arched headstones. Now those children of Aberfan, that for so long had been in my mind had names and faces.   

As I sat amongst those graves on that hillside, was it the chilly breeze that moistened my eye?

“Da Boch Chi”.

Pain of Separation

The 60’s were still swinging, the Vietnam War dominated the headlines, and Bugs Bruton had to start School.
How I cried on that first day of separation from Mom.
She ushered me through the large double railing gates, into the noisy mayhem of the playground, then, after a few brief words of reassurance, she turned and started to walk away. My attempt to follow her was halted by a set of towering green railings. Sobbing and sniffling, with my head hung low, I followed their length, stroking the green bars with the fingertips of my right hand as if to reach out for Mom’s hand. Mom was now walking on the on the opposite side of the road, the few yards between us may as well have been a few miles.
Just when I thought things could get no worse, that morning from Hell delivered the coup de grâce.
Mom turned right onto Pinfold Lane and she was blocked from my view by the hedgerow that separated the footpath from Mr. Plant’s garden; and the railings that I was following turned sharp left.
Wide-eyed and panic-stricken, I grabbed hold of the railings and pressed my face against the bars, as if trying to squeeze through the gap, and yelled in a hysterical voice “MOM!”
My knuckles were white, tears ran down my face, the cold iron railings cut off the circulation in my cheeks, making them look pale and sickly, bubbles blew and burst from my nostrils. “MOM!”
She came back and made everything good. Bless her.
This traumatic experience could only have lasted a few minutes, but the memory of it has lasted a lifetime, a wonderful lifetime.

Chalk ‘n’ Cheese.

Newly built, my new home on Pinfold Lane, Cheslyn- Hay, was in a dream location. From my bedroom window – yes, a room of my own, with a built-in wardrobe –  I could view my new World. Gone were the Days of living on the Village High Street, where I used to observe the daily passage of time through the condensation soaked glass. I would see  Women, a shopping bag over one arm, and a head scarf, knotted under the chin to hold it on, heading to Edwards’, the Grocers shop. Men, wearing long thick overcoats and flat caps, heading to the Red Lion.
Greetings were always exchanged as people passed each other, even to folk across the street, and the chirpy pleasantries, quietened and muffled by the wafer thin glass of the window reached into my space.
On one occasion, whilst stuck indoors, I must have been ill or something, I counted three cars, and the number 17 Bus twice.
The 17’s engine, belching out clouds of black smoke, vibrated the windows. The deep, sudden sound would send Mice scurrying under the skirting boards for cover. That always made me laugh, because they couldn’t get any traction on the Lino, causing them to run on the spot, or skid past the hole.
Now, the simple print pattern curtains that hung on a wire in front of my bedroom window, were thrown open to reveal a new World; a World that infiltrated the daydreams of my subconscious childhood mind, asking questions and demanded answers of me, always luring and tempting me with offers of excitement and adventure.
A row of grey slabs, that divided the garden unequally into two halves, led from the front door porch area to a small metal gate. (We were always shouted at for swinging on the gate).
This gate, although I didn’t realise it at the time, was a key feature. To me, back then, its only purpose was to test how high Butch, my Dog, could jump.
Left or right. If the choice was mine, after the gate, I’d go left. Only four houses away was the cinder track that led to weed covered pools, with Moorhens, Mallards and Coots dabbling and pecking for food, and a haunted wood, with paths that turned and twisted through its middle.
A canal, straight as a dye, but no longer in use,  cut through the landscape, its once sharp edges  softened by an overgrowth of Willow and Hawthorn.
The cut, as we called it, was an adventure playground, created by nature reclaiming what the coal industry had stolen from it.
To turn right at the garden gate meant one of several things: School, running errands or joining Mom on the daily tour of the village shops and family.
Left or right – chalk’n’cheese.

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