Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas

Hello dear readers,

Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas. I am not going to post a tale on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

See you next week when hopefully I shall be more sober, full of leftover turkey and with more stories to end the year.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The tidewalker

She used to tell him that the moon brought lovers together. She’d say that its great actions in the heavens would draw souls together, magnetised by lunar cycles and destined to cling forever to the other.
He’d laugh, of course, and kiss her forehead and they’d both sigh and wish it were true. When he lost her – lost her to doubt, fear and perennial lust – he had an epiphany soon after.
He began to believe her idea, about the moon and the souls of young lovers. He began to imagine this intangible thread running always from him to her. It was now tightly drawn, and straining across a great distance of space and mind, but it existed all the same.
So he came to thinking that the flow of the tides could help him to find her; that the gravitational pull of the satellite moon would be the strongest at high tide. That if he were to stand on a beach, when the yearly tide was at its highest, there was a good chance she’d be there, on that same stretch of beach, searching for him too.
So there he was, on December 14th, 2008, his shoes filling with salt-water, his trousers sopping and him flinching in the chill. He was there, on a desolate winter’s beach, strolling through the surf, walking the tide.
Nobody else was on the beach that bitter day but, in the icy sting of the salt spray, a song came to him, shuffling forth from his memories.
It was a song she sometimes sang and it always made him smile. Somehow, he had lost this memory to time, and now the clawing December tide had returned it to him along with a clear visual memory of her face, fair and glowing, at Christmastime.
He stood there, tidewalking, for as long as his shivering body could stand the winter sea. And, all the while, he smiled.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The melting prayer

Religion is such a wonderful thing. Believers feel they can invoke it, as a warlock would a magic spell, to bring their dreams to life.
Here is a religious bribe; a treat with a message for selfish needs. A big tin of Quality Street with a sticker on it saying: “Thank you for your prayers that I get into Pembroke! Have a chocolate!”
Quality Street is a popular brand of confectionery, and Pembroke is a respected college within Oxford University. How do scholarly life and the aspect of the Christian pulpit become so intangibly entwined?
I asked myself that question as I toured the sacrosanct chapels of the Oxford conglomerate; saw the enlightened ministers of the written word that studied nearby; inspected the towers of beer cans they had drained, we all laughed to see such fun.
And there, on the dark oaken table, next to the postcard of Michael defeating Lucifer, sat the tin of temptation; the treat-laden box of delights with the begging message: pray for me, just me. Pray for me and perhaps I will enter these hallowed halls and be better. Better than you, or better than most.
Pray for me. Pray for me and have a chocolate. Pray for my intercession unto the right hand of the dons.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Into the vapour

What a thrill it is to walk unguided into the syrupy mist. What wonders might await you in the lands you cannot see?
Usually the landscape of your home is a thing of ornamental ordinariness to you. When the fog cloys and the mists choke the trees and bushels, the houses of your neighbours and the fields of the farmers are less obscured than actually lost to sight and so knowledge. Only on closer exploration can an explanation for their existence be found.
When I was a young lad, my older brother told me that when the mist descended upon the park to the rear of our house it offered us a strange chance; to reach a land of dinosaurs.
If we might tread carefully and absolutely correctly, along the grey concrete path cut through the centre of the oval park, then we might find ourselves coming through the spectral mist into a land of thunderous lizards.
We’d set off to school with excitement in our hearts and I’d hold his hand tight as we stepped into the fogbound field. Sometimes all we could see ahead of us was the cool grey path. And I swear that, sometimes, I could hear the cumbersome roar of giant beasts, lurking somewhere ahead in the strange smog.
We never made it to that prehistoric land he conjured up but, whenever the mists return and the world returns to the haze of childhood, I tend to think, there’s always next time...