Horses, big, powerful, fast, beautiful, scary creatures with a mind of their own. Some people reading this will agree with all of this description, whilst others will scratch their heads and mumble, “Scary? What does this guy know about horses?” Truthfully not that much but I do have a history and history is where knowledge and experience develop.

Like many Scottish working class children in the the 60s and 70s my sole experience of horses was of a pony variety. Seeing them on the beach at Ayr or at a School fayre (not my own school I have to add) and horses on the TV. Horse racing, Folly foot farm, the Lone Ranger, the High Chapperal and Black Beauty. These four legged creatures were exotic and exciting and beyond my reach. I was a young reader and began to devour the westerns of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour where the villians were obvious and heroes, brave, handsome and would leap aboard a horse with scarcely a thought. Who wouldn’t want as a child to be a cowboy or an indian brave on his trusted steed? The horse rider inside of me ached to leap aboard and gallop into the sunset like my heroes.

The opportunity, when it arose, came as a surprise. I lived in a post war prefabicated house, a prefab as it was always called. Living on a short road where there were only two cars. At the end of the road was a field and beyond this a coal bing and a brick work. I remember the field especially as I would often play there. I remember walking there with a puppy who liked to find old broken bricks from the brick work and carry them around in his mouth. He was unpredictable and prone to violence, I vaguely recall but my dad gave him away in the end as a guard dog to a man who owned a scrap yard. So I wandered the fields without him again.

One day I went to the field to cross over to the brick works. I liked to sneak into the cooling areas where the bricks had been fired and the air was hot and shimmered with the disappating heat. In these days of health and safety and security I am sure these things are unheard of, but then I seemed to wander at will. As long as I was home for meals, and bed noone seemed to mind much. That day when I climbed the fence I saw the horses grazing in the middle of the field. I walked towards them, wondering where they had appeared from, sure that they hadnt been there the previous day. A plan began to emerge in my mind about riding around in the field on the back of one of the horses but the lure of the hot bricks was too strong and a good plan takes time, right?

Days passed and I asked around about the horses. A boy I knew told me that someone had told his dad that the horses belonged to some gypsies who were keeping them there for a while. How long I asked, but no one seemed to know. So I would walk in the field handing the horses grass, which they cautiosly took from my hand, ready at any moment to bolt. A good plan takes time but how long did I have?

The day arrived quite by chance. I’m not sure what made that day any different but the plan was to feed a horse some grass, walk around to it’s side, put two hands on and somehow leap astride. I mean that’s how it’s done in the movies, right? As a plan it might have been flawed from the outset by a few things. At age 7 or 8 I wasn’t the same height as my film heroes, oh and the horse had no idea that the plan included him standing quite still whilst this little upstart tried to leap higher than his own height on to his back. Flawed from the outset! However, the plan swung into action quite smoothly, some grass was accepted with nose and neck pats, then round to the side, two hands stretched up and a few big hops. Failing that let’s grab some mane. Of course I had chosen the leader of the herd, who reacted by stepping aside and back a little to show he didn’t want to be jumped on.

Now any good plan should include a fall back position, what do you do if things go wrong? The fallback plan of try again wasn’t really a plan at all. But once made I followed the plan. Of course the horse had given me fair warning that he didn’t want to play at all so a renewed effort lead to a headbutt and a floored, would be rider. Perhaps that should have been the end of the lesson, but my teacher wanted it to be clear with no misundestanding. He reared majestically over me, perhaps his nostril flairing and eyes wide, or maybe this was an addition that I imagined later. He seemed huge to me as his hooves thundered towards my head. I could only close my eyes and wonder if the explosion I seemed to hear was my head being crushed by those hooves.

I heard shouts, screams, (from me I think) and a neighbour chased the horse away. He had reared again (another warning perhaps?) but the man had been watching events unfold from his window and tried to stop it. “Quick before he comes back”, he shouted in my ear and half lifting, half dragging took me from the field. The man was shaking, I was crying, it was awful.

It took me a long time to understand that the horse himself had been afraid. Afraid and perhaps angry with this creature who tried to dominate him. His reaction might seem excessive but I have no way of knowing what had happened to that horse before and whether my actions triggered a memory. I do know that had he wanted to his hooves would have damaged my skull beyond repair, so his intention was to frighten not to kill. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, I only knew fear. Shortly after the horses were gone from the field, to where I don’t know, but his actions changed me a lot. It was a strange Summer, my friend broke his collar bone when we were playing batman or superman games. The brickworks were declared out of bounds when an elderly man was found dead among the bricks. I remember talking to him and sometimes bringing him sandwiches or fruit. He told me that it was dangerous among the bricks but I thought I knew better. Soon after my grandfather died and we moved to the other end of the village. Houses were built on the field and my life changed in lots of ways.

Horses, big, scary horses. My dreams of riding one seemed to die that day in the field. I could still look at them, feed them from my hand as long as they were firmly on the other side of a high fence. I still thought, they were amazing, beautiful animals, but though I was through with horses, were they through with me?

of their own. Some people reading this will agree with all of this description, whilst others will scratch their heads and mumble, “Scary? What does this guy know about horses?” Truthfully not that much but I do have a history and history is where knowledge and experience develop.

Like many Scottish working class children in the the 60s and 70s my sole experience of horses was of a pony variety. Seeing them on the beach at Ayr or at a School fayre (not my own school I have to add) and horses on the TV. Horse racing, Folly foot farm, the Lone Ranger, the High Chapperal and Black Beauty. These four legged creatures were exotic and exciting and beyond my reach. I was a young reader and began to devour the westerns of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour where the villians were obvious and heroes, brave, handsome and would leap aboard a horse with scarcely a thought. Who wouldn’t want as a child to be a cowboy or an indian brave on his trusted steed? The horse rider inside of me ached to leap aboard and gallop into the sunset like my heroes.

The opportunity, when it arose, came as a surprise. I lived in a post war prefabicated house, a prefab as it was always called. Living on a short road where there were only two cars. At the end of the road was a field and beyond this a coal bing and a brick work. I remember the field especially as I would often play there. I remember walking there with a puppy who liked to find old broken bricks from the brick work and carry them around in his mouth. He was unpredictable and prone to violence, I vaguely recall but my dad gave him away in the end as a guard dog to a man who owned a scrap yard. So I wandered the fields without him again.

One day I went to the field to cross over to the brick works. I liked to sneak into the cooling areas where the bricks had been fired and the air was hot and shimmered with the disappating heat. In these days of health and safety and security I am sure these things are unheard of, but then I seemed to wander at will. As long as I was home for meals, and bed noone seemed to mind much. That day when I climbed the fence I saw the horses grazing in the middle of the field. I walked towards them, wondering where they had appeared from, sure that they hadnt been there the previous day. A plan began to emerge in my mind about riding around in the field on the back of one of the horses but the lure of the hot bricks was too strong and a good plan takes time, right?

Days passed and I asked around about the horses. A boy I knew told me that someone had told his dad that the horses belonged to some gypsies who were keeping them there for a while. How long I asked, but no one seemed to know. So I would walk in the field handing the horses grass, which they cautiosly took from my hand, ready at any moment to bolt. A good plan takes time but how long did I have?

The day arrived quite by chance. I’m not sure what made that day any different but the plan was to feed a horse some grass, walk around to it’s side, put two hands on and somehow leap astride. I mean that’s how it’s done in the movies, right? As a plan it might have been flawed from the outset by a few things. At age 7 or 8 I wasn’t the same height as my film heroes, oh and the horse had no idea that the plan included him standing quite still whilst this little upstart tried to leap higher than his own height on to his back. Flawed from the outset! However, the plan swung into action quite smoothly, some grass was accepted with nose and neck pats, then round to the side, two hands stretched up and a few big hops. Failing that let’s grab some mane. Of course I had chosen the leader of the herd, who reacted by stepping aside and back a little to show he didn’t want to be jumped on.

Now any good plan should include a fall back position, what do you do if things go wrong? The fallback plan of try again wasn’t really a plan at all. But once made I followed the plan. Of course the horse had given me fair warning that he didn’t want to play at all so a renewed effort lead to a headbutt and a floored, would be rider. Perhaps that should have been the end of the lesson, but my teacher wanted it to be clear with no misundestanding. He reared majestically over me, perhaps his nostril flairing and eyes wide, or maybe this was an addition that I imagined later. He seemed huge to me as his hooves thundered towards my head. I could only close my eyes and wonder if the explosion I seemed to hear was my head being crushed by those hooves.

I heard shouts, screams, (from me I think) and a neighbour chased the horse away. He had reared again (another warning perhaps?) but the man had been watching events unfold from his window and tried to stop it. “Quick before he comes back”, he shouted in my ear and half lifting, half dragging took me from the field. The man was shaking, I was crying, it was awful.

It took me a long time to understand that the horse himself had been afraid. Afraid and perhaps angry with this creature who tried to dominate him. His reaction might seem excessive but I have no way of knowing what had happened to that horse before and whether my actions triggered a memory. I do know that had he wanted to his hooves would have damaged my skull beyond repair, so his intention was to frighten not to kill. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, I only knew fear. Shortly after the horses were gone from the field, to where I don’t know, but his actions changed me a lot. It was a strange Summer, my friend broke his collar bone when we were playing batman or superman games. The brickworks were declared out of bounds when an elderly man was found dead among the bricks. I remember talking to him and sometimes bringing him sandwiches or fruit. He told me that it was dangerous among the bricks but I thought I knew better. Soon after my grandfather died and we moved to the other end of the village. Houses were built on the field and my life changed in lots of ways.

Horses, big, scary horses. My dreams of riding one seemed to die that day in the field. I could still look at them, feed them from my hand as long as they were firmly on the other side of a high fence. I still thought, they were amazing, beautiful animals, but though I was through with horses, were they through with me?

A warm welcome to a new follower and fellow blogger Miss Moneypenny. I hope that she will encourage me to be less lazy and not to be such a disappointment to her alter ego as another James could be!
I have a license to blog! 😉

Apologies for the lack of stories of late, I will try to improve!
The small piece of news is that for the third year in a row, I am fortunate to have been selected as a Giver for World Book Night.
This is a worthy attempt to encourage more people to read books by making free top quality books available for distribution by givers.
The book I selected is Me Before You by the prolific Jojo Moyes. I look forward to distributing it on April 23.
Long live World Book Night. Please support this!
See http://www.worldbooknight.org
Grow, live, love, read!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Olympic Ring Ting

August 27, 2012

Posing at Dorney lakes.

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Origin of the new Tales

August 27, 2012

I have published some new stories as I hope some of you will have noticed. These were produced as part of my beginners writing course which was ran by Olive O’Brien. This is a lovely course and, I hope, I have learned a lot from it. For those interested in the courses please see http://creativewritingink.co.uk/ or http://creativewriting.ie/ for readers outside of the UK.

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The Dog That Didn’t Bark

November 11, 2011

 I remember the first time I saw the dog. It was one of those nights; still and silent with a full moon shining in a cloudless sky. The air was motionless and brimmed with the promise of autumn as summer drew to a close. I couldn’t sleep, so I plodded downstairs and into the conservatory so as not to waken my wife. It is one of those big PVC and brick numbers with chairs and tables, books and magazines for relaxing in of an evening. I sat one of the soft chairs and looked out into the darkness into the garden beyond. Soft lighting from solar powered lights gave me a view of the roses blooming in grand array, before they faded in preparation for the winter rest. I felt content and strangely at peace, though I couldn’t sleep.

 

I hardly noticed a thing at first, a small movement perhaps, or the changing of a shadow? I am not sure, but slowly a small form moved warily to the centre of the garden where it stopped and looked around. I had thought it might be a fox cub at first, but as it stepped out into the light I could see it was a small dog. One of those hardy little mongrels you see scampering at the end of a lead when you are walking in the local park, always eager to get somewhere. What a cheek, I thought, as it surveyed the garden with a proprietorial air, I have a good mind to chase you away. But as if it could hear my thoughts it stared directly at the window, wagged it’s stump of a tail and trotted away.

 

But I am running ahead of myself, as usual. My name is Bill, Bill Stanley. Been married to Betty for fifty years now, man and boy you might almost say. We were never blessed with children, though we did think about adoption, we decided it wasn’t for us. We always had dogs though, till it all got too much and we decided we were too old for it.

 

Anyway, around five years ago, Betty had her first incident. We don’t call it a stroke, as incident sounds much nicer doesn’t it, and we are more that sort of people. . She is a fighter is our Betty, but it was the second stroke that paralysed her left side that put the kybosh on things. They said I couldn’t look after her properly then, that it was too much for a man of my age to do. Maybe they were right, but I wasn’t letting my Betty go to some nursing home alone. So we sold up out home and moved here to Meadow Vale Nursing Home.  Betty gets her care here and I, well let’s say I can relax a little and leave it at that.

 

But I was telling you about the dog wasn’t I? I went back to bed that night and slept like a log. It was the best sleep I have had in years. I woke up to the bustling efficiency of the place and after breakfast found out that Florrie Smith had died in the night. Well that’s not unusual for a place like this is it? People coming here are frail and often ill anyway, so need nursing care. Sometimes it feels like a final rest stop here.  Poor Florrie was a quiet soul. I never really heard her speak, though she had a ready smile and a certain twinkle in her eyes that I liked.

 

After that I often went in to the conservatory at night, wondering if I would see the dog in the garden. Maybe I could slip out and pat it or give it a biscuit as a treat? But the night slipped past and I stopped looking.

 

One night I went down into the conservatory to look at the snow shimmering on the treetops. Betty was sound asleep, but I have never been the best of sleepers anyway. I went over to my usual seat and there he was, bold as brass with a look of mischief about him. I was sure it was him, but then again he looked a little different. I decided to open the door, but by the time I had fumbled with the key and the awkward double locking mechanism and opened the door, he was gone. Oddly I couldn’t see paw prints anywhere.

 

That morning they found Anna Clarke dead. I liked Anna. We used to sit and talk about films and books and such like. Sometimes we would sit and hold hands, just for company mind, when Betty was really poorly. Funny thing was, Anna showed me a photo of herself as a lass and it was a dog like that one in the garden that was in the photo. But they are a common type, so nothing strange about that.

 

I joined the Post Office when I left school. Eventually I became a postman with my own round. I saw my fair share of dogs in those days, I can tell you, though I was never bitten once. Not like many of the other chaps. But the round was getting bigger and bigger and I heard mutterings about how slow I was, so I was glad to retire in the end and spend more time with Betty, though I think I often got under her feet. “Go and do something in the garden, or take up a hobby instead of lounging around here all day.” She would say, but I was happy as I was. Well at least until the incident.

 

My favourite little dog was Skipper. A little white Jack Russell with a long, whippy tail.  We never liked tail docking, it’s a cruel and isn’t needed at all. Anyway Skipper would come running, looking for his walk as soon as I got home from work. I didn’t even manage to get my slippers on when he would be fussing around my feet looking for attention. Miles we walked together, he and I through all kinds of weathers. At night he would sit between us whilst we watched TV or read a book. We both cried like bairns when he got the cancer and got put to sleep. I didn’t think we would get another after him, but we did eventually, though that was a long time before the incident.

 

I knew it was Betty’s turn that night, the night that Skipper appeared in the garden, wagging his tail and putting his head to the side with that Cheeky way that he always did. I went upstairs to see Betty, but her cheek was cold already and so were her hands. They tell me I was still sitting, holding her hands when they came to wake us in the morning. I don’t really remember, I just thought about the times we walked together holding hands, dancing, laughing and, of course, of Skipper.

 

He was always a good, patient little, dog. He still is. He is looking in the window now as I write this, his tail is wagging and his eyes are bright. We buried Betty last month. It was a fine send off for her, some of the old neighbours came and some of out friends from the home. Everyone had some kind words and were lovely, but the big bed seems empty without her after all these years. Anyway I have written enough, Skipper is waiting. I best go and take him for a walk; it’s lovely out there tonight, no need for a jacket.

 

 

Flattered and very proud

September 8, 2011

Those of you who have read the Pomegranate Prince will have noticed that the story was dedicated to my very dear friend Frankie. I have written about her elsewhere on the Blog site, so it will be no surprise to  know how highly I rate her. If you haven’t yet done so please read her Blog.

The Pomegranate Prince originated as a story I tweeted to Frankie one day on Twitter. Like Topsy the story grew and so took the form you will find here.  And so it was Frankie who inspired the original story.  Frankie is a woman of extraordinary talents, amongst them painting and it was a great surprise to me to learn that the Story had inspired her to paint a portrait of the sad clown. I would urge you to read her blog here http://just-call-me-frank.blogspot.com/ as I have said before but please have a look at the Sad Clown and Frank’s other paintings.  Feast your eyes folks, that is Art.

Well poor Mr Buny has met a sticky end, or has he? Part of him continues in the sack of the travelling man and in his memories. Bunnykins has been a fun character to play with and he has been to some dark places. Somehow I think there may be some stories where we learn more about Bunnykins journey with the travelling man, we’ll see. It was nice to give him a little bit of happiness before the end. Is it better to move on and shake away the past or to return and reprise ocassionally? I am not sure of the answer to this question as yet. Let me know if anyone is interested in hearing more earlier Bunnykins tales. In the meantime more Tall Tales for my pleasure and hopefully for anyone who reads this.

Tired and tweeted out

May 12, 2011

The plan for today, write some comments on this blog and maybe even work on a story. The reality was hours spent tweeting to my friends online. I have had fun though!
Some good news is that Frank is breaking out of her relationship with the guy she calls Fuck Face. He was never worthy of her anyway and only hurt her! Frank is ace!!
Met some new friends too, so all in all a good day, though my Twitter alter ego Mr Bunnykins is still trapped in the back of a white van. Must move the story on tomorrow!!
One rant. I was unfortunate enough to read Kelvin McKenzie’s comments about Scottish people in the Sun today. That man truly is a twat of the highest order and as a Scot who lives, works and pays taxes in England I find his racist comments obnoxious and unpalatable! End of rant!

Frank is going to read my Blog! Hi Frankie a new place for me to smile at you! Hurrah!! 😀