Songs and History

Look I have to admit this here and now: I’m a bit of a geek. Seriously. There is a reason I’m admitting to this.

I was listening to Frank Turner’s album ‘England Keep My Bones’ the other day. The song ‘English Curse’. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but there were so many historical inaccuracies that I couldn’t resist taking it apart and pointing them out. It’s a disease I tell you!

So, because I can’t really write out the whole song I’ll pick out phrases and make my points.

‘From the shores of Normanday King William came

To Albion fair King Harold to slay

With greed in his heart and a scurrilous claim.’

(1) William the Bastard

William’s claim to the throne was unlikely, rather than scurrilous. He claimed, after his successful invation, that King Edward had promised him the throne when he died and that Harold had accepted in when he was a ‘guest’ in Normandy. Yet this makes no sense. When Edward was in Normandy he was a young man and it looked unlikely that he would inherit the throne. And even if he did, he would have his own heirs, of Alfred’s line. And then when he did inherit the throne and married there were already heirs, nephews and cousins, available whether he had his own sons or not. Neither in English law nor Norman law did William have a claim to the throne.

Scurrilous is an adjective which means:

making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation: a scurrilous attack on his integrity

(Oxford English Dictionary)

So in a sense (that Harold had gone back on his oath) William was making a scurrilous claim, but that wasn’t his entire reason. Greed, and envy, however were. He never admitted to it, as far as anyone knows, but there is a hypothesis that William wanted to bee a king in order to make himself an equal to his nominal overlord in France, the king of France. This greed resulted in a false claim, illegal invasion and then centuries of warfare as the Kings of England and France tried to assert control over each other.

In the years after the invasion there were several rebellions. An early rebellion in the west country (in 1066/67) was incited/financed by King Harold Godwinson’s mother Gytha of Wessex. There was Hereward the Wake in the Fenland around Ely and the brutally repressed risings in the earldom of Northumbria. William didn’t feel comfortable enough in his new kingdom until the 1070’s. There is no doubt however that many evil deeds were done.

‘Now John was a blacksmith, an honest old man

He raised up his children and he worked with his hands

In his family’s forge and a patch of land’

(2) Anglo-Saxon men’s names

John is an unlikely name to find among the English in the pre-Norman era. Possibly among foreign priest or merchants but not among the English lower classes. Names such as John, William and Henry came to dominate in the decades after the Norman conquest, when new fashions and politcal expediency made it prudent to discontinue the older names.Within a couple of generations it was extrmely unlikely to find a man named Harold or Godwin. But if William was riding through his New Forest in the 1080’s and came across an old blacksmith, the blacksmith wouldn’t have introduced himself as John.

It is also unlikely that he would have owned his own land. While land tenure in Anglo-Saxon England was different to that of Norman England. most open land still belonged to the upper classes. If the smithy was in a town or village, as is most likely, then it is possible that the blacksmith would own the building it was situated in.

‘In the dark of the new forest……..

For hunting grounds in the Wessex trees

He took the land for his own.’

(3)The New Forest

The New Forest was established in 1079 as the king’s ‘new hunting forest’. It is a mixture of open pasture, pools and oak/beech woods, and includes towns and villages. A ‘forest’ did not denote a wooded area but an administrative area belonging to the king who had all the hunting rights within that area. It can hardly be described as ‘dark’.

GO visit the New Forest; they claim it hasn’t changed much in 900 years; they have there own breed of pony! You can see bats. And deer. there’s a really well presevered Roman villa.

‘Your first born son’s warm blood will run upon the english earth.

Now king williams son was Rufus the red………………

But John’s curse it called out and and lord Tirel fired low

His arrow struck Rufus with a sickening blow

And he fell from his horse to the ground below.’

(4) William II Rufus – his life and eath in brief

William II Rufus was William I’s third son. He was born in approximately 1056 in Normandy. William II was called Rufus because he supposedly had a red face and yellow hair. He became king in 1087 and died in 1100. He was buried at Winchester and was succeeded by his brother Henry.

Most of his reign was spent fighting his elder brother Robert Curthose for control of Normandy. His barons eventually rebelled because they couldn’t afford to keep paying for his war. During his reign he had to deal with further rebellions in Northumbria and along the Welsh Marches.

William was killed while out hunting at Brockenhurst in the New Forest on 2nd August 1100. He was with GIlbert de Clare, his younger brother Robert de Clare, Walter Tirel (their brother-in-law) and William’s younger brother William Beauclerc. During the hunt Tirel shot at a stag and hit the king in the chest. He died within minutes. When Walter Tirel realised he’d killed his king he jumped on a horse and escaped to France.

People expected Robert Curthose to become king, however Henry Beauclerc was on the spot, as it were, and he decided he wanted the throne. He rode to Winchester, where the kings gold was kept and claimed the throne. He was crowned on the 5th August 1100. His claim was supported by the Clare family, who were generously rewarded, and although Tirel never returned to England his son kept the family’s land.

Robert II Curthose threatened to invade but was paid off with an annuity of £2000.

It has been suggested that the barons, angry at the taxation William imposed, frustrated that their rebellions had been unsuccessful, and with the blessing of Henry I Beauclerc, organised William’s murder. It is a possibility, however it ignores the fact that hunting accidents were common. Tirel’s flight can equally be explained, killing a king, even accidentally, was severely punished.

It’s a good song, it can be chanted, a proper rabble rousing song. Here’s what jumped out at me when I listened to it.

Okay, I’ll stop now. I’m being pedantic, I know I am. I can’t help it.

Bye for now



Third and final part of ‘Words, Words, Words’

At last I present for your delight and delectation the final part of ‘Words, Words, Words.’ I had to finish it, it was turning in to a novella!


Finally I give in. I search through the bedside draw, (why is it even in there?), ah, there it is, under my notebooks and random bits of jewellery. I pick up the book and take it through to the kitchen in search of vodka.

It’s in the fridge; it’s always in the fridge!

Hmm, what’s that, out in the garden? I’m distracted by a splash of colour in my back garden. I shall go and look.

It’s so beautiful in my garden in summer; I know this because the former owner told me so when I looked around. So far I haven’t had a chance to find out, what with working all hours and collapsing in to bed almost as soon as I get home. However today I shall do something different. Walking through the conservatory, vodka in hand I drop my old diary on the table and carry on out in to the garden. I’ll read it, just as soon as I’ve had a look around my garden in the May dusk.



Hmm, that was refreshing, but now I think I’ll have a read.

I opened the book up to see what I could find. I laughed through February, that had been a fun month, we’d gone to loads of gigs with Matt and the lads, every weekend it was a different town, or village. I read through March, just a list really of where they were, when they’d be home or if I was going with them. In late March I’d had to stop travelling around with the guys, we were so busy at the shop! That’s when I met Paully, of course. He walked in to the shop and asked me if I needed a hand stacking some shelves. At the time I was in the shop alone and a delivery had arrived. He stayed for half an hour helping me shelve, and then I offered him a job. He was very funny, abnormally tall (6 foot 7 inches – tell me you don’t think that’s freakish?) and very intelligent. We started talking, while we were shelf stacking, about the books. Homer. And not Homer Simpson, but Homer the Greek poet, I’d had some university students in looking for the Iliad and they’d cleaned me out!

Oh Gosh! I did worry about some silly things! When I really should have been worrying about….. ahh, you don’t want to know about that.

You do?

Drat that cat, he’s just knocked my vodka over.



Diary Entry: Saturday 19th May 2012

Another week over, at last!

Been reading my old journal, it’s been interesting I suppose, revisiting my recent past, remembering, though to be honest I’ll never forget how I met Paul. That man is a rock; he got me through so much pain after everything that happened with Matthew. I suppose since I’ve started reading I should finish it. I’ve only got as far as June, I can’t face the rest. When we found my diaries I described 2009 as the year of the great romance, but 2010? Hmm, how should I describe that? The year I lost my heart? The year with three seasons? Oh I don’t know.

Lisa has been trying to do too much again, she’ll do neither of them any good at this rate, but she won’t take time off or cut her hours. She’s swopped over with Paully as well, sometimes I think she’s keeping an eye on me. I know what’s up. Matt and his band are home next month; she thinks I’m going to have a break down or something. So, I haven’t seen him for a while but he isn’t going to break me is he? I’ve moved on, she knows that, so why is she fussing so much, especially now, when her first concern should definitely not be me!?


Diary Entry: Tuesday 22nd May 2012

I finally found the guts to re-read my old diary………..



Diary Entry: Monday 24th May 2010

This is there first day on tour, Matt forgot to ring me. I do hope they are okay; they should have enough money to get them through. They’ve been saving long enough and now that summer is here they wanted to get on the road and really see if they can make it as something other than a local pub band.

I miss him.


Diary Entry: Friday 28th May 2010

Finish at 1pm

Catch 3pm train to Sheffield

Meet lads at train station – remember text Matt as soon as I get to Sheffield

Change of plan, Paully’s sick, got to cover him at the shop, I suppose I could try to get the train tomorrow and meet them then?

Had a message from Matt ‘Don’t worry babe, there’s always next weekend’. Yes well next weekend I have to do a stock check and go visit my grandparents. Maybe I’ll see him in three weeks?



Diary Entry: Saturday 29th May 2010

Miffed! Didn’t get away from work in time to get a train! Matt texted though, it was a good night, they’re staying in Sheffield ‘til Monday now, someone’s offered them somewhere to crash and someone else asked if they’d like to do a gig in another pub. Good things are happening for the band.


Diary Entry: Saturday 12th June 2010

I haven’t had a phone call from Matt for two weeks, not since I couldn’t get to Sheffield because I had to work. I’ve had the odd text but nothing else. They are supposed to be in Shrewsbury today, but Matt said there had been a change of plan and they’re in Bristol instead. They’ll be in Shrewsbury on September 18th now. His birthday is the 19th, I might make a surprise visit to see them if there’s plans don’t change. It’s a bit of a way, but if I get Paul or Lisa to watch the shop then I can leave in the morning and come home on the Monday morning. I might email Patrick & see if he’ll help?

I hope he rings me tonight. I’ve heard what happens when young men go off touring, but I trust Matt, he would never betray me.


Diary Entry: Sunday 13th June 2010

Matt rang, at half four this morning, or something stupid like that. He was drunk and crying, telling me how much he loved me and begging me to forgive him for being a git about me having to work. I’m going to meet him in Newcastle on Saturday! It’s been so long since I’ve been to Newcastle, and far too long since I’ve seen Matt. Can’t wait!


Diary Entry: Saturday 19th June 2010

Damn the rail network in this country, there’s always something wrong with it! My train was two hours late! But I finally made it to Newcastle. I came to spend some time with Matt but to be honest I’ve hardly seen him. He’s been rushing around apparently and I arrived at a really bad time. Ahh well, I’ll have all of tomorrow, and tonight after the gig, to spend with him. I think I’ll read for a bit, they’re just setting up.


Fuck sake, it’s half two, where the fuck is he?


Diary Entry: Sunday 20th June 2010

Basterd! Fuck wit! Arsehole! Nipple nutted cunt!

That feels better. I came home today, early. Matt stumbled back to the hostel at half five, pissed out of his skull. No fucking way am I putting up with that. I told him to go sleep in Pat’s room. I haven’t seen him since he crawled away. He hasn’t text me either, and since I refuse to talk to him until he apologises I won’t.

I’m going to ring Lisa.


Diary Entry: Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Going to Lisa’s for Midsummer BBQ today, still haven’t heard from Matt.


Diary Entry: Thursday 24th June 2010

Pat rang; Matt wants to know what’s wrong with me. Hmm let me think.

They’re in some random village in Nottinghamshire tonight. And then back here for the weekend. Some magazine reviewed them apparently last weekend, they got a really good review so they’re celebrating. By playing a gig at the Green Dragon. I think I was booked months ago to be honest but they’ll make it a celebratory set, or something like that.

Matt promised he’d see me this weekend.

We’ll see.


Diary Entry: Sunday 27th June 2010

Matt turned up this morning with a bunch of roses and a promise to spend the day. He stayed until six, then he had to rush off because they have to be somewhere tomorrow

We’ve talked about a few things. He’s told me that the touring is harder than he thought and he can’t help drinking. People buy them drinks and stuff. Fine I get that they get bought drinks sometimes but he could say no. I know he’s stressed, it’s his saving’s they’re using to finance this tour and sometimes they make a bit of cash and sometimes they don’t but he really isn’t helping the situation by drinking. We talked it out, he agrees with me and he’s promised to cut back. I’m hoping he’ll manage it. I just hope he doesn’t start taking anything else. I know he’s smoked weed before, but most people do at Uni, well that’s what he said. I didn’t. Oh, what the fuck am I going to do, I’m not sure I can cope with this, him being away so often. It’s not even a particularly long tour, what if they get really big and they go off on European tours or to America?

I trust him. I think.

Either I do, or I don’t.

I do.

I think.


I’m going to bed; I have work to do tomorrow.


Diary Entry: Friday 2nd July 2010

What a week, I’m so knackered, and Paul’s sick as well so now I’m short staffed. Damn, I’m going to have to go into work tomorrow and Sunday. Time to ring Matt and tell him I can’t come to Cirencester.


Well…. I feel like shit.


Matt isn’t happy.


Ice cream time.


Diary Entry: Sunday 4th July 2010

Matt rang while I was at work. He’s still pissed at me for not meeting him this weekend when I said I would. Lisa took the phone off me when I started crying. She said a few things to him that I’m pretty certain won’t help the situation.

He called me a hypocrite.

Liar. Bitch. Cow.

He said I was cheating on him.

How can he think that, I’ve never missed a date without a good reason? Unlike him.


Lisa banged in through the shop door.

‘Hey chicky, what you doing here? I thought you and Jimmy were going away for the weekend?’

‘Have you seen the weather?’

‘It’s not that bad.’

‘It’s bad enough; I’m not going camping in this weather. So….’ Lisa dumped her bags on the floor and collapsed in one of the chairs we’d just put in the shop.

‘So what?’

‘Are you going to their gig on Saturday?’

‘Probably not.’

‘Why? It’s not like the clock can go back is it? What have you got to fear?’

‘I don’t know.’

She sat there, watching me, waiting. She knows me far too well!

‘I’ve been reading my old diaries.’

‘Ahh. And?’

‘Do you remember that time I had to work and couldn’t go to see them on tour. The things he said when he rang here?’

‘Errrr, not sure which time you mean?’

‘When he accused me of seeing one else? He called me a few things? You took the phone of him and threatened to rip him a new arsehole I think.’

Lisa went a bit blank and then her eyes sparked, oh yes, now she remembered! I laughed at the look on her face.

‘So I did. What about it? I was more than two years ago now, he won’t remember. And he did apologise, eventually.’

‘Badly, and way too late to be of any use.’

‘True.’ She laughed and pushed herself up from the chair, ‘Look, I know it was a painful time, but you are past that. You’ve moved on and so has Matt from what I’ve heard.’

‘Yeah, I have.’

I smiled at her; I needed to think about a few things. If I hadn’t have read my diaries maybe I’d be more prepared to go to the gig, but I don’t think I can, it’s brought up all those old feelings. This is stuff I should have told Lisa. I didn’t need to, she can read my thoughts, I’m certain of it. I must have spaced out for a while because next thing I know she’s stood in front of me snapping her fingers.

‘Earth to planet..’

‘I’m back, don’t worry.’

‘I think it would be a good idea if you finished looking at those diaries, got it out of your system. I have a cunning plan. Since Jimmy and I aren’t going away this weekend, we shall go to the shop on the way home, get a bottle of voddy and junk food, get a chinky, and then go and put a few ghosts of the past to rest.’

‘And how will I open up tomorrow?’

‘Paul can.’

‘Paul’s running the other shop tomorrow.’

‘Jimmy can run it.’

‘Sounds like a plan. Ring him then.’

I’ll do it while you’re cashing up. Come on, we may as well close up, no-one’s out now anyway, it’s far too manky outside.’

‘Well, I suppose so, it is nearly time anyway.’

‘Right, you cash up I’ll go and close the shutters.’

‘Don’t forget to ring Jimmy.’

‘I won’t, I won’t.’


We were dishing up the curry a bit later, having a laugh and breaking out the vodka and cokes.

‘Come on missis, where’s this diary of yours. I think we should just jump ahead to the bit where we prove he’s a complete and utter shit head and not worth your time?’

‘Really? I’m not sure, can’t I work up to it?’

‘No you bloody can’t, let’s get through this and then we can go to see some decent bands next weekend and you won’t have to feel crappy because of Matt.’

‘We haven’t got tickets yet. I have. And I can probably get you some tickets.’

‘Well, since you put it like that….it’s in the draw in the side table.’

I heard her walk in to the sitting room and open the draw. I had a grin plastered on my face when I carried our plates in to the sitting room. She was already reading my diary.

‘Oh I remember that weekend at Download, it was so much fun.’ She laughed, ‘God, wow, I remember that day.’ She leafed through my 2010 diary, trying to find the pages she needed.

I put her plate on the coffee table and curled up on the settee next to her with my food; she looked up at me then grabbed her food.

‘So,’ she asked me around a mouthful of beef and mushroom curry, ‘how shall we go about this?’

‘You read it, I don’t want to.’

‘Okay. Find the page for me.’

So I did.

I sat and listened while my best friend laid to rest the ghosts of pain.


Diary Entry: Saturday 18th September 2010

On the train to Shrewsberry.

The Matt isn’t expecting me but Pat knows I’m coming for a visit. They are due home Monday so we can have a late birthday party for Matt, but I thought I’d surprise him. Be in his hotel room when he gets back. It’s actually the only time since they started to tour that they have booked in to a hotel. Pat told me it was just a cheap B&B really, but it makes a nice change.

I hope Matt likes his present. He’s been wittering about needing one for ages. It’s the best I could find.

Pat sent me a ticket to the gig, I’m going to watch them in the crowd and then Pat will pass me their room key in the confusion afterwards. I go back to the B&B, they get back and there I am waiting for my Matt. Well that’s the plan anyway.

It’ll work out.


Ohh, what lovely scenery.


‘You got distracted by hills didn’t you?’

Lisa stopped reading to me.


‘On the train, you got distracted by hills.’

‘Nope, I think I got distracted by the trees, and possibly abit by the hills. It’s not my fault, I can’t help it, it’s flat ‘round here.’

We laughed at our silliness. It was well timed, Lisa knew what came next.

‘Shall I read on?’

‘Top up the drinks first?’

‘Good plan that man.’

‘And bring some goodies in with you.’

‘Aren’t you stuffed yet?’

‘Slightly, but there is always room for sweets you know that.’

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that while there are sweets and chocolates there will be women capable of scoffing them.’

‘Too right, now if you want to continue with this torture you’d better bring me sweet stuff. And vodka.’

‘Your wish is my command sweetheart.’ Lisa got up, bowed, grabbed our plates and sauntered in to the kitchen.

I heard her rattling around in there. From the clattering it sounded like she was putting them in the sink.

Rustle. Ahh my sweeties.

Slosh. My vodka. Even better.

‘You didn’t take the glasses with you.’ I twist in my seat, calling to her.

‘Doesn’t matter, I think this might need more than one glass to get through.’

She came back in to the sitting room carrying a shopping bag of sweets (diabetes here we come) and the bottle of Russian Standard.

I felt the settee dip as she climbed back on and mirrored my position. Huddled at her end of the seat and facing me over the bag of unhealthy stuff, then leaning down to grab the bottle to top our glasses up. These drinks will be more vodka than coke at this rate. Fuck it! It’s been a while since I got bladdered, and she really shouldn’t be drinking.

‘Don’t look at me like that. One night drinking in a year isn’t going to do any harm.’

‘If you say so. ‘

‘Well it won’t. Come on let’s get this over with.’

‘You know what’s coming next, why do we have to read it?’

‘Because it’ll help you prove to yourself that you have moved on.’

She picked up my diary and continued to read.


Diary Entry: Sunday 19th September 2010

The treacherous, selfish, bastard! How could he? How could he! I feel like screaming. I want to fucking kill him!

How could he?

Damn it! Why can’t I stop crying? I hate him! He isn’t worth this much pain! I bet he’s been screwing around all the time. Every time he’s said how much he wished I was there I bet he was thinking ‘thank god she’s not’.

He actually yelled at me for turning up to surprise him for his birthday! He said I was trying to catch him out!

What the fuck? Why would I do that? I trusted him!

No wonder Pat text and asked me to get a room at another B&B. He must have known what Matt was up to! The bastards the pair of them!

I want to punch someone! Anyone, everyone! I want to scream! I tried to ring Lisa, but she’ll be asleep still. I think her and Jimmy went out last night. And it’s still fairly early but I’ll be home by dinnertime. I’ll ring her then.

Gods how could I have been so stupid not to see it from the start.

Pat could at least have hinted that Matt was being unfaithful.

That’s unfair; he wouldn’t betray his brother’s secrets.

At least he tried to prevent me witnessing it.



‘I can’t read much more, the inks all runny.’

‘I was crying. All the way home from Shrewsbury. I got some funny looks on the train.’

‘Have you forgiven Pat yet?’

‘Yeah, ages ago. I know he was in an awkward position. He told me not long after that he’d wanted to warn me but didn’t know how to. Go one, get on with reading it.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘I’m sure.’

‘Here we go then. Ooh, this is where I come in to it.’


Diary Entry: Monday 20th September 2010

11.25 am

I am hiding from the world today, going hermit Lisa calls it. I rang her yesterday; she’s going to come round in a bit with ice cream. Paul and Jimmy have been deputised to run the shop today. Thank god Paul’s competent, Jimmy scares me when he’s left alone with a till.

She’s here, early, great, and I haven’t even had a chance to shower.


Lisa left an hour ago. I have had a shower, I am wearing clean pj’s just like she ordered. We have eaten ice cream. Lisa’s awesome, really she is. I have no idea what I’d do without her, every time something goes wrong, there she is propping me up and pushing me onward with the cry of ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down!’

So I told her what happened.

When I told her about going to Matt’s room and hearing him with another woman, she asked me all the sensible questions. Was it definitely his room? Yes. Was it definitely what I thought? Well obviously!  I opened the door, he was in bed with a lass, and there were used condoms on the floor, how much less obvious can they have been? He hadn’t even bothered to lock the fucking door.

I think I may have got a bit irate with her. I know Lisa was only trying to help me see clearly but it wasn’t what I needed first thing today.

She’s listened, provided ice cream, tissues and advice. She knows more about this stuff than I do. She’s split up and made up with Jimmy more times than I’ve broken up with all my ex-boyfriends altogether J

So I’m going to listen to her. If he rings I’ll try to talk to him. If he doesn’t I won’t ring him.

Now I’m going to bed, I didn’t really sleep last night.


‘Wow, I didn’t realise I’d upset you. I wasn’t questioning you.’

‘I know. You’re a life saver, you know that right?’

‘Yeah, yeah, don’t get all soppy on me.’

‘I really wouldn’t have managed without you three.’

‘Well, what are friends for? And Jimmy and I weren’t really that bad were we?’

‘Just a smidge.’

‘Hmm, jelly bean?’


She passed me the sweets, I grabbed a handful and we went back to reading my diary.




Diary Entry: Friday 15th June 2012

Well today’s been interesting.

Pat came in to the shop. It was good to see him, he hugged us all, congratulated Lisa twice over, asked about the shops and our plans for the future. He told us about the tour they’ve been doing. They had a minor place at Download the other week. Apparently they had a great time, and Metallica was fantastic. I wish I’d been able to see that, but I’ve had too much to do. We’d have had to shut both shops for four days. All four of us would have had to go. Maybe next year, if I can find reliable staff that I can trust.

And later we’re all going to meet him in the Green Dragon for a drink.  Time to get ready.


Diary Entry: Saturday 16th June 2012

Pat asked me to go to their gig tonight.

He put a couple of tickets in my bag, told me to bring Lisa out for a bit of fun.

Paul says we should all go, Lisa and Jimmy have their own tickets. I think he might be right. There will be loads of other bands there, at our little local festival, so it’s not like I have to watch Matt and the lads. I probably would though, they were good two years ago, I hear they have become really good now. Fuck it, I’m going to ring Lisa. We shut up at three today. That’ll give us all time to get home and changed. We can have an evening out. Everyone will be at the festival so there is no point staying open anyway.



It was late, almost one in the morning, they’d watched the bands, the fireworks and then finally her ex and his band had headlined the first annual music festival. I was tired but happy, pleased Pat and Paul had persuaded me to accept the tickets.

We were heading out when Patricia found us.

‘Hello dears, did you enjoy yourselves, haven’t my boys done so well? Matt would like to speak to you. About something private.’

She eyed Lisa, Jimmy and Paul. I know she wanted me to go alone to meet Matt, but that wasn’t going to happen. Before I could speak Paul saved me,

‘It’s a bit late for that; can’t you see she’s exhausted? If he wants to talk to her, we’ll all come.’ He wrapped an arm around my waist. You should have seen the look on Patricia’s face, but what did she expect really?

‘Well since you insist on coming.’

‘Yeah, we do.’ Lisa assured her.

We all followed Patricia to the back stage area and in the chaos there he was.

I walked away from Paul, Lisa and Jimmy, even Patricia stayed back. I could see the rest of the band behind Matt. They looked like they were preparing either to run or break up a fight. Matt even managed to look humble.


‘Matt, I do have name.’

‘I know, but I always think of you as my sweetheart, I’ve even written songs about you. I need to ask you something.’

‘Go on then.’

He looked at me, assessing me I think.

‘Nice haircut. I never thought you’d dye your hair. Won’t you at least give me a hug?’

‘No. Why would I? I haven’t spoken to you for a year and a half, and when we last spoke it wasn’t exactly cordial. So no I won’t hug you.’

I jammed my hands firmly in my pockets to emphasise my point, and to hold back the temptation to do exactly what I had just said I wouldn’t do.

‘I, erm, look I wanted to say, I’m sorry, for, for everything, and, and, I wandered, do you want to give it another try?’

‘What?’ I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Oh lord, nobody had told him.

‘Can we give it another go? I’ve missed you so much, I love you, please can we try again?’

‘No, no, no.’

‘Please, I’m so sorry, please give me another chance. I’ve grown up, I know I hurt you, but please.’

He stopped, because I’d started laughing. Paul ambled towards us. Clearly he’d heard what had been said, but then so had everyone else. It was so amusing watching them all start at his declaration. I heard Lisa bark with laugher behind me and Jimmy’s silly giggle. Patricia seemed to be choking.


‘I really can’t give you another chance Matt.’

‘Why not?’

‘I can’t get back together with you

‘but why?’

don’t interrupt, I’m trying to tell you.’

‘Go on then, why are you throwing my apology back in my face?’

Oh he’s still the same! Time I suppose to give him his answer. I slid my hands from my pockets, slid my right around Paul, flashed my left hand at Matt and told him with the biggest grin ever produced by a living human,

‘I can’t because I’m already married.’



Well that’s that one finished. It got a bit long, sorry, and thanks for sticking with it.




Other places to find my short stories

I have a LiveJournal account as well, and there are a couple of short stories there. Here’s the link

I tend to either post there or leave a link to the relevent post on here. Either way the scribbling keeps me out of trouble.

As always I appreciate constructive feedback.

Another short story – ‘Summer Wine’

Okay, so I know I said I’d try to finish ‘Words, Words, Words’ but I got distracted on Monday when I was listening to music and a song called Summer Wine came up on the playlist I was listening to. I first heard this song in the middle of last year (several friends of mine are fans of the male vocalist) and when I heard it the first thing I said was ‘Oh its a fairy tale’. Six months later this little peice appeared and insisted that I put it down on paper. I have to admit though I haven’t actually managed to write much since, just a little revision on one fanfic peice I wrote and some small progress on ‘Words….’ and another short story that might make it here at some point. Any way, here it is.

Summer Wine: A fairy tale

The midday sun held the world still for a moment.

She watched as the stranger walked in to the village inn.  His eyes were forest green, just like the old king’s had been. His back was straight and strong, his shoulders narrow and skin pale. She laughed as she loitered in the shade of the trees; he was so very like the king had been so long ago.

As she stood deliberating her next move the man reappeared through the door carrying a small bag. He remounted his horse and continued on his way. She followed in the shadow of the woods. Slipping through the trees silently, the lady easily kept pace as the man’s horse ambled along. He ate some fruit, drank some water as he rode. She couldn’t get too close, the horse would sense her; they always did. Whoever started the stories about her kind riding out had been fooling themselves. When they went out in to the world they walked.

She followed him until he turned in to the woods on the opposite side of the road, and hesitated.

Twilight descended.

He’d ridden all day. There was a marker by the road. A few yards in to the woods was a shelter, a stack of wood and a well. Travellers rest, neutral territory, a safe place. He fell from his horse, bone weary. Once on the ground he lay there for a few moments, trying to decide whether it was worth getting up or not, he could easily just stay where he was, sleep in the dirt. It wouldn’t be the first time since his exile that he’d slept under the trees.

He stared up at the trees for a while, until night started to close in and his rumbling belly reminded him that he needed to eat at some point. His horse had wandered away to munch on some grass. Ah well, he thought, I suppose I’d better move. The man rolled on to his hands and knees, large hands pushing himself upright, long legs flexing until he stood and stretched upwards working the kinks out of his muscles.

He cared for his horse, removing its tack and brushing it down. Then he tethered it, he couldn’t afford for it to wander off in the night. He pushed open the door to the shelter, allowed the lingering light into the gloom. He spotted the hearth in the back wall. Dropping his pack to prop the door open he collected some fire wood went inside.  He made a fire in the hearth, gently blowing on the kindling until the flames licked at the wood. The summer evening began to cool as he took in his surroundings now that he had more light. Turing around he noted the store cupboards on the walls. He walked to the opposite wall, and started rummaging through the cupboard. He found oil lamps stored in a cupboard and lit one, placing it on the table in the centre of the room.

He hadn’t washed for three days so he heated water in a large pot and dug out the last of his soap. He’d tried to ration it, slicing tiny slithers off when he felt the need for more than just a cold water wash. These travellers’ refuges usually held a supply of essentials but soap wasn’t one of the things considered essential.

He stripped off his shirt, checking the once fine garment for further damage. He fingered the fraying cuffs and rips in the sleeve, the result of a mugging attempt. He flung it over the back of a chair. He’d repair it once he’d had a wash, maybe even wash it first. He was so grimy from the road that his fading tattoos were beginning to disappear; it really had been too long since he’d been properly clean. He thought longingly of the deep bath, the steam room, the soft towels and ever so helpful servants of his old life. He closed his eyes and sank for a few moments in to a day dream, the last time he’d had a real bath in his father’s tower and the sweet servant who would do anything for him. He smiled a little at the memory and then forced himself back to the here and now.

Quickly he grabbed his wash cloth from his pack and he sliced a little more of the soap in to the heated water before taking in off the fire carrying it to the table and setting it down, before dipping the cloth in. He washed his face and neck before dipping it in to the hot water again, wringing it out and running the use roughened material over his chest and tight muscled stomach. He moaned at the feeling, clean at last, warm water running over his belly and pooling around the waistband of his trousers before soaking in to the material. He dunked his head in the pot of water and cleaned the road dust from his shaggy hair. Oh it felt so good! His hair had always been his pride and joy, it was slightly curly and he usually wore it shoulder length because it suited him. He had washed it every day and always kept it properly trimmed. This scruffy mess irritated him.

Next he unbuckled his belt and slid the tight black trousers off his narrow hips and down his thighs before continuing to wash. He fell back in to his daydream, his servant washing him, helping him to relax properly. He shut his memory off just as he got to the fun bit. His father had walked in to the bathroom and seen them, the memory was painful and he didn’t want it to go on. He stood stock still as the images flashed across his mind. His father pulling his servant off him, throwing them across the room, the shouting, his scrabble to climb from the bath, to get to his servant before his father could do more damage. He’d been exiled the next day, forced from his life on to the road. His tears fell in to the washing water as he remembered the beating his servant had received; he’d been unable to stop it, to help, to do anything. He was useless.

‘FUCK’ he screamed in to the night, pulling his trousers back up, not bothering to dry himself properly. He fought against the memories, calming himself with closed eyes and half remembered songs.

Eventually he came back to himself and continued with his task. He dropped the wash cloth on to the table and picked his shirt up dunking it in to the water. The rhythmic movements necessary to properly clean his garment calmed him further and he lost himself in the details.

Night had deepened.

Beneath the trees the silver light of the moon and stars was filtered by the thick leaves above her head. She’d waited until full dark before slipping out beneath the moon and flitting across the road in to the opposing woods. The man was not to be seen, but his horse was close by, he must be in the shelter, she reasoned before noticing the smoke rising from the chimney, yes he was definitely still here. She slipped towards the edge of the clearing, needing to get within the boundaries herself.

She watched for a while, hoping none watched her. This was enemy territory technically, she shouldn’t be here.

The horse pricked its ears as she moved closer to the shelter, its eyes searching her out in the dark. She whispered words of peace to it, hoping it wouldn’t cause too much fuss. Crossing the line in to sanctuary she felt her strength return. She hadn’t realised until then how much being out of her own territory had weakened her. Of course in her own lands she was so very much more than she was in this world, but that was the nature of the place. In the sanctuary she felt some of that power return to her. She smiled; this mortal man would be hers. She wanted something from him, and if he was really lucky he might get something in return. The horse sensed the change in her, looking up and whinnying wildly. The man appeared at the door, looking around. Hi hair was damp and he was shirtless, she marvelled at the intricate marks on his skin and the whipcord body presented before her. He was even more beautiful than she had thought; he must be more than mortal.

She made it so he wouldn’t see her; she was only starlight and moonlight. She watched the man as his horse watched her. He went to the animal and tried to calm it, whispering in its ear and scratching. Soon her magic worked on the beast and it no longer felt her presence. It calmed and the man returned to the shelter.

He shut the door behind him, feeling the hairs on the nape of his neck rise; he felt certain someone was out there. His horse was not ordinarily skittish, but it had calmed when he had talked to it, perhaps it was some small night animal that had set it off. That didn’t make sense; he felt it in his bones. Something wasn’t right.

The water boiled on the hearth, the hiss and spit as it over boiled on to the fire pulled him from his thoughts. He quickly crossed to the fireplace, grabbing a cloth from the table he bent to pick the pan up and move it away from the heat.

‘Damn’, the water splashed on his bare arm in his rush to get it moved. He sucked at the burnt spot trying to make the pain go away, ‘Damn, damn, damn.’

He crossed to one of the cupboards and found a jar of dried beans and another of oats.

‘Hmm, pottage it’ll have to be then. How exciting!’

He was getting used to his peasants diet now, but it was so dull at times. He salivated at the thought of the roast boar he would be missing today. They always had roast boar at this time of year. He sighed, wiped the drool from his chin and went back to his pan. He stirred in the beans and oats before sliding the pan closer to the heat again.

He went back to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. Reaching in to his pack he pulled out the only book he’d managed to bring with him. By the light of the lantern he tried to read, but found his eyes kept losing focus, the words slipping about the page before him. After reading the same sentence five times and not understanding a word he threw the book down on to the table. Pushing the chair back roughly, the legs scraping across the flagged floor, he stood and went to check his food.

Almost cooked. Good, he was famished. He’d never been hungry before this year. Not even when he went to war had he suffered, really, his life had been easy. He’d thrown it all away because of his lust. He knew what he’d done was considered wrong, and he could have stopped it but he didn’t want to. Why should he? No one got hurt, until they got caught.

‘Damn, when did I turn in to such a woman?’ he whispered to himself, cuffing tears away. His father would be even more shamed if he knew his eldest son cried so much now.  He shook his head to clear it, tried the food again and decided it was cooked enough. He pulled the pan off the fire and took it to the table. He briefly contemplated putting it in a bowl but decided that would be too much like hard work. Grabbing his spoon he sat down at the table, hunched over his pan of pottage and stirred it until the food cooled enough to eat. He shovelled the food in to his mouth one spoonful after the other.

He stopped when his belly was full. There was still half a pan left but he pushed it away, he’d eat it in the morning. He propped his elbows on the table and rested his head in his hands. He should sleep, but sleep didn’t come easily these days. He’s exhausted his body, his muscles are just about ready to give way under him but his mind won’t shut off. His thoughts run in circles through the night as he stares at the blank wall before him, his back warmed the fire. He zones out slightly, something approaching sleep comes.

As midnight approached she slipped in through the door, the beautiful vagabond was slumped in uneasy sleep at the table. She walked over, brushing her hand through his hair. It felt like silk, tangled slightly where he had washed it and not brushed it.

She worked her hand through his hair pulling the knots out. He started to stir, moving slightly; she shushed him and he relaxed again, resting more fully on the table. Her hands moved down to his neck, rubbing the muscles until they relaxed. He was so tense! She moved over his shoulders, smoothing out the pain she found there. She traced her hand down his spine until she reached his waistband.

‘Come now, handsome, let’s get us to the bed.’ In a sleep daze he stood, allowing her to guide him to the sleeping platform, placed at one end of the shelter, away from the door. She saw that he had already laid out his blankets. Lying him down on the blanket she finally decided it was time to wake him up.

‘Hmm, aren’t you fine looking.’ She smiled down at the man.

‘Wha? Who are you?’ his voice was scratchy with sleep, he swallowed a little, trying to remember when he’d had a drink.

‘A fellow traveller. You we’re asleep at the table. Drink?’ She pulled a flask from a small bag tied to her belt and held it up before him.

He looked her over, trying to decide if he was dreaming. The woman before him was beautiful, more than beautiful, and he was tempted by her eyes and the way her hair seemed to be captured starlight, a pale blond that was almost silver white. Her skin was flawless; her clothes were of the finest cloth, flowing silk and damask. She smiled as she offered him a drink.

His instincts started to kick in when he saw a flash of something not quite right in her eyes. The smile didn’t flicker an inch but her eyes weren’t right.

He shook his head, where had these thoughts come from? He looked at her again, she appeared to be as she’d claimed, a fellow traveller in road stained clothes, well-made but certainly nothing extravagant, pretty certainly but nothing more. His mind was playing tricks from lack of sleep and grief.

‘What is it?’

‘Something that will help you feel better.’

‘What’s in it?’

‘It’s my summer wine. It’s made from sunlight, moonlight, the smell of strawberries and elves tears.’

‘Wine? Sorry I don’t drink alcohol.’

‘There’s no alcohol in this, I told you what I make it from, try it, it’ll be good for you.’

‘You drink it first.’

‘Suspicious aren’t you?’

‘I have enemies, I don’t know you.’

‘I have no reason to harm you; I don’t know you, trust me.’ She put just a little compulsion in to the ‘trust’.  She was rewarded when he reached forward tentatively to take the flask.

He took the flask, his fingers brushing against hers, he tingled where they touched. He caught her eyes and held them as he sipped from the flask. Liquid fire burned his throat as the flasks contents slipped down in to his belly. She took the flask back from him and returned it to her bag.

‘Not drinking yourself?’

‘No, I don’t need to. Feel better now?’

‘Much.’ And he did. For the first time in months his head was clear, he knew what he would do, where he would go. This wandering life would end tomorrow he would head to friends in the capital. Just because he had been banished from his home didn’t mean he was alone. He would regain his name and honour, force his father to welcome him back and lift his exile.

She saw the light spring in to his eyes, smiled and finally spoke, interrupting his planning.

‘Calm my dear, calm. I’m glad you can see so clearly now, but you know, nothing comes for free.’

‘What do you want?’


‘What?’ he sputtered out, crawling back from her in shock, trying to stand.

She laughed. ‘Don’t look so scared, I don’t mean forever, I mean just for tonight.’

‘Oh, well, erm, I suppose. What are you?’

‘Something you will probably never meet again. Or at least you should hope you won’t.’

He started again.

‘Don’t fear me.’ She pushed the glamour over him again watching him relax. ‘That’s right, now just lie down.’

The man lay back, his head whirling, he felt drunk. The woman lay down next to him on her side. She looked down in to his eyes. She rested her head on one arm and trailed the other across his belly.

She took her time.

Soon she made a noise of frustration. He lifted himself up on his arms, looking down his body at her.

‘What’s wrong sweetheart?’

‘Your boots, I need you to take them off.’

‘Can’t you?’


‘Oh, right.’ He sat up properly, leaned forward and unlaced his boots before pushing them off the end of the bed.

The lady hissed as the cold metal of his spurs accidentally grazed her hands. He didn’t seem to notice and if he had, well she pushed it from his mind quickly enough.

Dawn came creeping over the horizon and soon slipped in to the shelter.

She rose quietly and dressed. Picking up a cloth from the table she returned to the bed and fished around at the end of it until she found his boots. Wrapping them in the material one after the other she removed his silver spurs, being careful not to touch the areas where the silver has worn away exposing the iron beneath. She dropped the spurs in to her bag with the flask of summer wine and crept out into the twilight of dawn. Flitting through the trees and over the road that was the border between her lands and the young king’s lands, she smiled quietly.

She knew for certain that the man was not entirely human, and their child would have something of his when the time came. Her husband might be long gone, but his bastard grandson would give her the heir she needed to regain their lost lands. She would teach her child to lead and then they would march out against the young king. Her smile didn’t fade for an instance, not even when the flint tipped arrows flew through the trees; she was across the border and they were way too late to stop her.

He woke late, too late to travel further that day. His head was pounding. He felt drained and at the same time energised. He rolled off the sleeping platform and wandered to the door. She was clearly gone, but he thought he’d check outside just in case she was just getting water. He walked outside, checking his horse. The sun was high in the sky, and he certainly wasn’t uncomfortable wandering around naked. As he pulled a bucket of water from the well he caught a glimpse of figures moving around in the woods, or thought he did. When he stood and looked properly there was nothing there.

He shook his head and turned to go indoors. He formulated a plan as he walked from the well to the door. He’d wash dress and sit out here in the warmth of the day resting and repairing his clothes and tack. He could manage on cold pottage for now. Tomorrow he’d be up by first light and head towards the capital, find some of his old friends and get his life back.

All afternoon he lazed in the sun doing his repair work, trying to make himself and his mount presentable. And yet all afternoon, out of the corner of his eye figures flickered outside the clearing. Who, or what, ever was out there was keeping a close eye on him. He finally started to think about the woman from last night. She hadn’t said much, given him no information, but he had an idea that she was not of this world. And whoever was outside the clearing was more of her world than his.

While he worked and pondered his horse became more and more agitated, finally stamping at the ground and trying to pull the tether from the ground. He stopped his work, stood and walked to the edge of the clearing.


The flickering shadows stilled.

‘Well?’ he asked again.

He felt a gaze upon him but could see no one.


Third time lucky. A figure stepped forward from the shadows.

‘Brother.’ It said.

‘I’m not your brother.’

‘Cousin would be more precise. Our grandfather’s wife seems very fond of you. She left you your soul.’

‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘No, you probably don’t. Answer me this, did you come here deliberately?’

‘No, I was lost and wandering, but now I know my road again.’

‘Our grandfather’s wife, have you ever met her before last night?’

‘No, I don’t know who she is or her name.’

‘Be glad, you really wouldn’t want her to take a long term interest in you, Cousin.’

‘If you say so, I’m sure you know the lady better than I.’

‘Unfortunately yes.’

‘So was there anything else, or do you intend to scare my horse to death?’

‘No, of course not. Travel safely Cousin. You may see some of us on the road, but none will harm you. Their king commands it.’

They bowed to each other and backed away. When the figure blurred and the flickering shadows left the edges of the clearing he returned to his task, thinking over the past day. It would appear that he had unwittingly been pulled in to someone else’s war. Well, they could keep it, he had things to do and it had nothing to do with the shadow world.

When he rose in the morning he washed quickly and pulled on his clothes. Last of all he pulled on his boots. Something felt wrong.

He looked down and realised that his silver spurs had gone.

The End

Sorry it’s so long, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, any constructive criticism would be helpful.

Lost the thread again

Hey up,

I’ve been terribly lazy and sort of lost the thread with the short story I was writing, I’ve given myself a kick up the arse and will be making progress, and hopefully posting the rest of ‘Words, Words, Words’ in the next few days. And just for the hell of it I’ve decided to try another little experiment involving writing to music. Shall we see what happens.

Must go, I’ve got stories to write