Saturday, December 27, 2008

Me, Mythica and a Study In Red!

For me, Jack the Ripper has no great appeal as the subject of a novel but I was intrigued enough to buy Brian L Porter's book, A Study in Red. It is well written with graphic scenes and excellent characterisation. The book has sold well and gained awards (as have other of Porter's books) For him to do so well with his writing can't be mere effort at marketing on his part. Clearly, he has the ability to write books that stir the imagination. Now he announced that he has a contract for his book — Study In Red — to be made into a movie. Well done, Brian!

The good news for me is that Graeme Houston (Mythica) wants me as one of his authors for his e-publishing business. (Brian Porter already has an input there.)

Mythica is new and not completely set up yet, but Graeme Houston is not new to publishing and he is also an author himself with several books to his name (including one written with Brian Porter). Houston is also a jolly good bookcover artist and has designed award-winning covers for Porter. My book, "When Angels Lie" is already mentioned on the Mythica web site. You can see the new cover for my book there:

For the Mythica press release see:

It says there:

Mythica Publishing is currently open to submissions in all genres and interested authors should visit the company's website at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas 1939-45

The Christmas of my childhood was so very different to what UK children experience today.
I had just turned seven when the war began in 1939. That year I spent Christmas in an isolation hospital and remained there for six weeks. It was a miserable time. It was a women's ward and I had neither toys nor other children to play with. Visitors were not allowed inside and I had to talk to my mother through the glass of the windows. Bless her, she made the journey twice a week on two buses, to have to stand half an hour before leaving for home. The weather tuned nasty and snow fell but she still turned up and left me with sixpence to buy pop to drink. But all that can be read about in my book "When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes," excerpts of which are on my Wrinkly Writer blog.
But what about 'normal' Christmases during the rest of my childhood?

Being wartime, we had come to expect very little and 'little' was expected and so we were never totally disappointed. One year, we had a doll each and a cot to share. That was quite something. But I dropped my doll the same day I received it and smashed the head to pieces. My dad glued the many pieces together and painted it. Oh boy did it look awful but I could not say so. he had done his best. One year I had a little sewing machine. Having no shuttle with a bottom thread it did not sew properly, so it was pretty useless. My dad got sick with a creeping paralysis and eventually was not able to get to work. Mum had a cleaning job but money was tight so we expected less at Christmas. Less what what we received.

Of course, everything was rationed, including coal. But on Christmas day we had a fire in the front room, which made a change from living in the kitchen — the only place where a fire, needed for hot water, was lit. We made paper chains to hang round the walls and up to the central light. And painted fir cones, and made beeswax flowers and berries to hang on a small tree or a painted twig. It was also sprinkled with glitter - tiny pieces of cellophane - to look like snow, and we bought a packet of icicles (twisted pieces of some sort of metal scraps) to hang from the branches. That was in the good years. Although there was no choice and food was far from rich, we never went hungry. We appreciated anything given to us and life was simple and utilitarian. No electrical appliances - we had no power points anyway. The only telephone we could use was the one in a red box on the corner of the street. But the doctor was the only likely person to be contacted as hardly anyone had a telephone (or a car) in those days. Wartime meant no street lamps and so winters were dark and gloomy. But our hearts were warm and full of love.

Today I look at our Christmas tree and am thankful — for joy, love, and the gift of life. Surely that is what Christmas is all about?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A ray of sunshine.

When days become short and dull and nights long, dark and cold, an unexpected ray of sunshine lifts the spirit and turns dark thoughts into ones of cheer and hope. This is especially so as you get to a certain age when it becomes a point of political correctness not to have it mentioned.
November used to be associated with fog. In fact the weather was foggy on the day that I was born, and the midwife lost her way and was too late to assist with my birth. The kind of fog we used to get, probably caused by coal fires before we relied on gas and electricity for heating the home — at least one room of it — was indeed thick and easily able to get lost in, as I did on a number of occasions.
Christmas lights now come early and brighten up dark evenings. Wet makes the jollity of them even brighter through reflecting the coloured lighting on pavements and all damp surfaces. But the in between time — November — can be depressing.
Last week we attended the funeral of a family member — a vivacious woman of 53 years. It was not a gloomy occasion by any means, but it saddened the heart just the same. The following morning the sun came out for a while and we walked amongst trees rich with autumnal colour. Yes, a ray of sunlight is like words of hope and love, lifting the soul out of gloom to rejoice in the riches that are freely given. The sun may not always be shining but, through love and kind words, we can bring a little light to those dwelling in darkness of sorrow or despair..

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Love stronger than dementia

Caring for a loved one

I had always admired those who gave up so much to care for a loved one at home, especially with little or no support. And those who visited their loved one every single day once full-time nursing care was needed. I got to know their problems more intimately when my mother, who had come to spend the rest of her life with us — hopefully in happiness and contentment — gradually succumbed to a type of dementia that caused depression and paranoia.
She was in her late eighties and I was not surprised that she would forget things occasionally, but we soon realised it was more than that. She became quite aggressive if we did not accept her false or confused statements. I realised something was seriously wrong when, after a friend had left the house, she told me that her visitor was a spy and had been taking notes.
I helped her to dress in the morning: apart from being severely arthritic and needing a helping hand, left to herself she would empty the wardrobe, complain she had nothing to wear and give me too much hassle.
‘No blouses, Mother? Look — one two, three…’ and I would count all the way to fifteen. But not one would be acceptable. To get things moving, I would sometimes make a trip upstairs to my closet, choose one of my best blouses and run downstairs again. I would find her pulling out the rest of her clothes from her wardrobe.
‘No good,’ she would say to my offering. ‘It doesn’t match my skirt.’
Well, it was good to know she still had good taste, but it would be some time before she was finally dressed for a little trip in my car.
’Where’s my walking stick?’
She refused to acknowledge either of her two walking sticks and so I bought her another one and wrote her name on it.
Of course she would not use it. Apparently, the chap next door had stolen Mother’s walking stick. Next-door being the ’Woolpack Inn’ in Emmerdale! (As in the television programme, which she watched avidly.)
I then began to notice how she appeared to live inside the television, instead of merely watching it. She was with the actors, not with us. When a consultant came to assess her, the television took on a new role: it was watching and recording her movements – spying!
Her paranoia deepened. Her carer was in tears when I arrived home. My mother had poured her cups of tea down the plughole saying she was being poisoned.
Then her depression deepened and we had to watch her very carefully. I found her with her tights tied tightly around her throat. Then I found her looking for knives to cut her wrists.
I tried to reach inside her mind to let her know that we loved her but she was unable to receive either my words or my prayers.
‘Hypocrite! Hypocrite!’ she would scream.
At other times she would yell that she was going to burn in hell and me with her.
No longer able to recognise me, she tried to drag me out of my study saying I did not belong there. ‘Gladys will be angry!’
Unable to control me, she went to the front door and yelled for the police.
I had to make sure all doors were locked and the way upstairs gated — a fall was not what I wanted. There was little sleep at night: I caught her tugging at electricity wires because she was convinced the boiler was about to explode. I heard a crash one night and ran downstairs to find her half-naked in the hall, and broken glass scattered over the kitchen floor.
The doctor gave me sleeping tablets for her but it was impossible to get her to take them. Finally, she did have a fall requiring pinning of a fractured femur close to her hip. She did not appear to be in physical pain, her mind was worrying that ‘all’ would be revealed that night on television.
‘You’ll never forgive me,’ she said, ‘I told them you did that abortion, and that our Janet had been caught shoplifting, and Bill had stolen the Kohinoor and ruined America.’
I was in despair. How did such dreadful things enter and torment her mind? She even told the hospital doctor that she was going to be on television, and he believed her!
The torment went on unabated when she entered a nursing home. The few coins in her purse she said were counterfeit, and she was going to be punished. She would not let me take them off her hands; she had it in her head that she had to go to prison. Incarceration, punishment and hell were constant themes.
My heart was bleeding for the mother I loved but whom I could not help in her dreadful ordeal. I knew hell and damnation were part of her upbringing in the mining town of Alfreton. School lessons were reinforced at home: it was part of the culture when she was a young child at the beginning of the twentieth century.
I remembered my mother raising her hand at an evangelical service I had taken her to many years before. The preacher had felt called to pray for anyone seeking forgiveness and salvation in the name of Christ. While eyes were closed, hands could be raised. Afterwards folk protested because such things had long been dispensed with at their chapel. But I had felt her arm move upwards: surely the Holy Spirit was indeed working in that place, and yet…
Release came for her soon after Christmas in the year 1991. I knew she had been feeling poorly and I stayed with her after she had been put to bed. I always visited her every day and on each occasion would hold her hand. Maybe she did not know who I was but that did not matter: I had always hoped and prayed for a connection of spirit with spirit. I believe in the power of God-given love to heal the broken-hearted.
It was getting late and I was very tired. It had been a harrowing time for me in my church ministry and, along with my other duties, I still had a funeral to prepare for — my fifth in four weeks. My mother appeared to be asleep. I kissed her forehead and quietly whispered, ‘I have to get some sleep now. I’ll be back tomorrow. Goodnight, Mother.’
Her eyes remained closed but her lips opened.
‘Goodnight, Luvvy.’
Luvvy, was the name she called me before her illness. My eyes were wet with tears of joy!

Luvvy was the last word she was to speak. She died the following morning.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sad but true

We were sitting in the café drinking coffee.
"Look, there's your old friend John," said my companion, looking out of the window.
I followed his eyes. Yes, there indeed was John. He was about to cross the road with his partially-sighted wife in tow. Tears rose to my eyes. The person that I knew so well as a man of letters, writer of esoteric articles on Eastern religions, known for his brilliant mind and ability to explain complex issues, in every respect had the dishevelled appearance of a 'down and out.'
I knew the impossibility of going out to say hello. Being suspicious of anyone speaking to him, he would resent it as an intrusion into his privacy. The last time I saw and spoke to him proved this to be so. He told me of visitors prying into his personal life, offering help that was not wanted, and appeared to be afraid that do-gooders would take over his affairs and threaten his independence.
That he and his wife were coping, could be in no doubt. After all, there they were, doing their shopping, while many couples in their mid-eighties were either housebound or in residential care. I knew people were concerned about them but did they need to be? In the past I have visited many elderly people unhappy because they have been put into care. This couple still have each other, and that is worth more than an army of do-gooders coming round and taking away that which they are still able to give each other, however poor that mutual assistance may appear to be.
So why should I be sad? Should I not be rejoicing in their independence? I guess it was the shock of seeing a proud man looking such a scruff. But also because I knew from talking to him during the past year or so that his memory is not what it was. Forgetfulness can put people into danger.
I would like to visit them for old times sake. But now that he is paranoid about visitors calling, will I too be resented?

Monday, September 22, 2008

When Angels Lie... a critical episode

When Angles Lie by Richard L Gray (aka Gladys Hobson) Magpies Nest Publishing. Second edition: When Angels Lie by Gladys Hobson pub. AG Press
This is a crucial point in the story... The Rev. Paul Stringer's secretary has fallen in love with him but being spurned (she does not know that he is gay) has run off… apparently into the arms of her boyfriend.

… When he opened his eyes, the fire was no more than a few glowing embers. He went wearily to bed. As he was about to close the curtains, he looked out of the window towards the church. There had been a shower and the lamp in the lane was lighting up the raindrops on the dark trees of the churchyard. It was half an hour off midnight and it would not be long before the church became a hive of activity. He knew the bishop would be looking at him favourably — on the surface he was a successful minister. But in his heart he was only too aware of his shortcomings.
He gripped the curtain to pull it across the window but then stopped. Something had caught his eye — light was coming from the windows at the east end of the church. Had a switch been left on or had someone broken in? Thieves and vandals could do serious damage; he couldn’t just forget about it and go to bed. Groaning with annoyance, he pulled on a jumper and trousers and ran downstairs.
He picked up a torch and looked for his church key. It wasn’t where he kept it. A key that size could not be slipped into a trouser pocket and forgotten. Where was it? The only thing he could think of was that Angela must have it in that big shoulder bag she carried around. She probably thought she might need it when she delivered the pamphlets late afternoon. When she found the church open and occupied, she would have left her father or Doreen Briggs to lock up. He only hoped the key hadn’t reached the wrong hands. Apart from the damage that could be done, his churchwarden would make sure he would never hear the last of it!
Locking the vicarage door behind him, he hurried to the church. As he entered the porch, he heard music coming from inside. The key was in the lock. He carefully opened the door and stepped inside. What he saw and heard made him sick to the heart.
Under the spotlights, a couple were copulating on the altar. Clothes and bottles littered the chancel. Music was coming from a disc player. But what horrified Paul most of all, was that above the usual grunts and moans of ecstasy, he heard Angela shouting, “Paul, don’t — not that — you’re hurting me!”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Joy of Acceptance

It is a wonderful thing when a publishing editor likes your writing and is prepared to take a chance by adding it to their titles. Stonehedge Publishing has done just that. Awakening Love by Gladys Hobson is now available as an Ebook - presently at Mobipocket, in a few days available at all Ebook sites.
Royalties from this book and its sequels (published in the USA) are promised to Badge Of Life (a USA organisation) so I am hoping it sells well for more reasons than my own self-esteem!
Yes, there is considerable joy in knowing that my book is accepted, for the book is part of me. It reflects a lot of my early struggles as a young woman in post-war Britain. But, I hasten to add, I had no sexy ruthless entrepreneur helping me in my career as a designer, nor did I have the sexy love-life of the heroine! But the factory setting is authentic as is the Nottingham scene. Washday was similar to my home, although my mother did most of the washing in the back yard. I too was naive but incredibly shy with it. In those days sex was a no-no subject and weird tales got around. Hitchcock kept his sex scenes to symbolism, such as trains entering tunnels! But I was too dim to realise that anyway. Later on, 'Duel in the Sun' with Jane Russell was almost banned. Good heavens! The woman was wearing a low-cut blouse, and not only that but, I seem to recall, she stepped into bed to warm up the feverish hero! Poor lad, I think he was dying but Jane was 'heap good medicine'! She had the right equipment before hot water bottles were present in the Wild West!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Checkmate - beg. of Chapter Two of unpublished novel

Checkmate if the third book of the the Awakening Love trilogy (Seduction by Design is the second book,)

Chapter two

Rob found her, as June’s domestic said he would, under the overhanging trees of the natural woodland that grew by the side of the lake. He had followed a long path, threading his way over the extensive lawn and through the sweet-scented flower gardens and colourful shrubbery, until he arrived at the deciduous trees. The beech, oak, ash and chestnut were resplendent in their summer glory. The grassy slope by the water’s edge was a very private place, some distance from the house. She was sitting on a rug with a pencil in her hand and a sketchpad on her knee. But she wasn’t working: her gaze seemed unfocussed and her mind far away.
June appeared to be in another world, and he wondered if he might be there with her. How he bitterly regretted the rough sex he tried to have with her… was it four or five years ago? How time flies! If only he’d accepted it was Charlie’s child she was bearing, things would have worked out so very differently. She might still be part of his business ventures and, as everyone knows, one thing always leads to another….
Even so, although Charles had forbidden him to be alone with her, he had at least accepted her continuing to do a few sketches each season. Meeting occasionally to discuss her ideas was essential, but it wasn’t enough: her design potential was wasting away. Not only that, he wanted her body as well as her creative flair. For, in spite of all the women on offer, she was still the only one he lusted after. And he was pretty sure that deep down, she wanted him too.
And here she was, all by herself even though both she and Charles were expecting him to call that afternoon. In spite of having put on a little weight she was looking very provocative. The shape of her firm large nipples stood out from under her gypsy blouse and the sight was quite intoxicating. Her feet, and what he could see of her legs, were bare and he wondered if her long flowing skirt hid the fact that she was naked underneath. He smiled: he might make a lot of money from producing high quality lingerie but, as a mere male, he was all for women desiring bodily freedom.
‘Hello, June,’ he said softly; to speak louder would have been a violation of the peaceful scene.
She was startled by his sudden appearance. ‘Rob! I didn’t see you.’ She looked at her watch. ‘Golly, is it that late? I forgot the time. But surely you must be early? Yes, at least half an hour.’ Flustered, she began gathering her things together. ‘This is dreadful. I came here to get my thoughts together. I haven’t even changed, for goodness sake.’
‘You look all right to me.’
‘Nonsense! I look quite wild.’ She stood up. ‘I really must get back to the house and tidy myself up. These clothes are most unsuitable for a business meeting.’
‘Dressed like a nymph of the woods? What could be more suitable for an arboreal setting on a sunny day? But I guess we must have our meeting inside. …Charles not home yet?’
‘He’s at work. Very busy today.’ She began picking up her things. ‘We can have our meeting on the terrace. Much too nice to be inside on a day like this.’
‘If you’re sure it’s okay to be alone, that’s great.’ He took the blanket from her and spread it out. ‘In that case, might as well stay here. It’s quite inspirational.’
He threw his jacket and briefcase on the ground, loosened his tie and sat down on the rug, offering her a place by his side. She hesitated a moment and then gracefully lowered herself sideways to him. He could sense her nervousness. Fear about her work? Or was it excitement of what might happen between them? He was only about twenty minutes early, so why wasn’t she in the house getting ready for his arrival? Because she was in an ideal setting and dressed for what she hoped would take place? Intriguing! He felt his masculinity rising to the occasion and had to force himself to think of the business he’d come to discuss.
He opened his briefcase and took out various papers and fabric samples.
‘I noticed the two little ones with your sister in the conservatory. Where are the others?’ he asked, wanting to know how long they had before they were interrupted.
‘Rosie is teaching, of course. David and Peter are sailing; making the most of the good weather before going back to Cambridge. Jimmy is at school.’
She had her head down, looking intently at the swatches of fabric. Did she know what was on his mind? Of course she did.
‘I was hoping to see James today.’ Why would she persist in calling their son Jimmy?
She was handling a piece of finely-striped, woollen fabric; feeling its texture while looking at a sketch. ‘He’ll be home just after four. My daughter’s picking him up. He can join us for a cup of tea in the conservatory.’ She glanced at him almost shyly. ‘That is, if you can stay that long.’
‘Of course. But what about Charles?’
‘Charlie won’t mind. He won’t be home until this evening.’ She lowered her eyes. ‘Of course, he knows you’re here today.’
She smiled nervously. ‘Yes… I guess he’s prepared to trust you after all this time.’
‘But can I trust myself?’
Clearly, she was aroused by his presence: her voice had a slight quiver to it and, although she was trying to hide her feelings, her bright hazel eyes were sparkling excitedly. He watched her body respond as he gazed intently at her legs and upwards to her breasts; her nipples were actually hardening into stiff peaks beneath the fine fabric of her blouse. She couldn’t help herself. Obviously, she wanted him, needed him, badly. Charles not man enough to satisfy her? Or was she merely bored by mundane living and needed a bit of excitement in her life? Probably both.
Meeting with her during the past few years had been strictly business, and he’d always been the perfect gentleman. He couldn’t be otherwise with someone always present. She may have thought she was over his captivating ways, but he knew better. Of course, part of her — the reasoning mind — wanted him to get on with business matters and go. Even so, her adrenaline had started to flow and the darker side of her nature demanded the sexual stimulation of his presence. He had seen and felt it so many times before. Overpowering her inhibitions was the thrill of the chase.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Short extract from Seduction by Design... Gladys Hobson

Seduced by a Woman in Love… a short extract from Seduction By Design, (Sequel to Awakening Love, (by Gladys Hobson) shortly to be published as an E-book by Stonehedge)

A message had been pinned on the little noticeboard by his stairs door. He took it over to the light. Evidently, June had phoned to say she would be staying in London and it would be Monday before she arrived home. After five weeks on the continent with Watson, she was giving the man a weekend in London! Didn’t she care for him at all? He decided he could do with a bit of company, and he knew where to find it.
Helen was ready for him. She had brought the fire back to life and the room felt warm and cosy. She offered him a drink. He refused alcohol and just had soda water. She poured herself a large gin and lime and swallowed it straight down. Slipping off a silky shawl that covered her bare shoulders, she lay down on the thick rug in front of the fire and propped herself up on feather cushions from the sofa. Then, stretching herself like a kitten, she motioned to Charles to join her. ‘Come right here, Charlie. Join me in the firelight glow.’
He took off his jacket, threw a cushion the other side of the fireplace and sat down, leaning on an armchair behind him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Her soft pouting lips, big baby-blue eyes, and blonde hair framing her face like an angelic halo, belied the rest of her appearance. From the neck down, she was incredibly alluring. Her heavy breathing was exposing her breasts in a most provocative manner. The slightest movement and her shimmering skirt creased further up, revealing bare shapely thighs beyond her stocking-tops. If the blend of contrived childlike innocence and femme fatale was meant to seduce him, it was certainly having its effect.
‘You look fantastic, Helen. Quite irresistible.’
Sensuously, she ran a moist tongue along her parted lips. ‘Then why resist?’ she whispered. ‘We both know why you came back.’
‘Helen, I….’
‘Don’t say anything, Charlie,’ she said, creeping towards him like a cat. ‘Let your lips do the talking.’
He kissed her open mouth, savouring what he had been missing since June had left the country with Watson. It felt good. Soon, Helen rolled back her head, encouraging him to caress her neck. He lapped up her sighs of pleasure and responded to her every move. She began stretching backwards, deliberately allowing her breasts to pop up from the boned confines of the dress. His mouth followed the dictates of her desires and his own unruly urges.
‘Unzip my dress,’ she whispered, turning on her side and lifting an arm. ‘That’s better,’ she said, standing up and letting the dress fall to the carpet in a glistening pool. Rolling her hips in a provocative manner, she stepped out of her skimpy knickers. Wearing just her black stockings, pretty blue garters and high heeled shoes, she posed in front of him. ‘Now it’s your turn, Charlie.’
But he was too fascinated to move. All evidence that she was a true blonde had been removed. She was soft and smooth as a juicy peach.
‘Come on, Charlie,’ she said, starting to unbutton his shirt. ‘I’m waiting.’
The shirt was thrown aside. He hesitated to go further. A bit of petting was one thing, but once he was undressed there would be no holding back.
‘Helen, I don’t think—’
‘Better not to,’ she cut in. ‘Are you being coy, Charlie?’ Dropping to her knees, she quickly unbuckled his belt. ‘Let’s see what you’re trying to hide.’
‘Helen, please….’
The zip ran smoothly down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Angels Lie — gay sex and true love

Writing for the joy of it can take many forms. I experienced considerable pleasure writing When Angels Lie. I used a few of my own spiritual experiences plus emotional experiences of rejection (At one time, I was working in the church doing many jobs usually associated with clergy at a time of dispute over a woman's role in church ministry) I had to get into the shoes of this lovely young man (a hard-line Evangelical) who fell in love with another priest (a well-thought of liberal) , and sense the trauma of his situation. The following is a quotation from Andrew O'Hara's review of the book:
"Although the two priests determine to keep their personal affair confidential, they learn that suspicions are quick to arise in this small community. Confused by the rebuffs of the parish’s most eligible bachelor, local women begin to grow increasingly suspicious of his often repeated vow of bachelorhood. Worse, the enmity of the church warden, the jealousy of a woman spurned and the sexual escapades of two teenage lovers in the chapel are twisted into a scandal that threatens to expose not only the relationship of the priests but destroy their many accomplishments in the church."
You can read more of O'Hara's review and see all the links to where either version (UK or USA) can be purchased by clicking on Wrinkly Writers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Poem… I Stood By The Gate

I stood by the gate,
And my mind wandered
Beyond the sheep so quietly grazing,
In fields rich green,
To mountains wrapped in mist and cloud
That hugged them like a corpse's shroud,
And there I felt tranquility
That travels through eternity
And draws us to another place
Beyond that of the human race,
Where all is quiet, all serene
And mortals felt but never seen:
A place of spirit not of flesh
And only can be reached through death
Of all that hinders
This clairvoyant view of Paradise…

Gladys Hobson (Aug 2008)

Click here for free samples of my writing (own and pen names)
and here for my wordpress blog
And you can read, or hear me read, some of my short stories by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Joys of Teaching

I retired from teaching some years ago but it seems not a lot has changed since then, except more red tape is involved.
I was trained in primary school education and my forte was the teaching of reading and writing — especially creative writing. In this some children excelled. Before writing stories it was normal to start with an activity to get their imaginations stirred. One in particular was hilarious! We were in the hall doing a bit of imaginative drama. It started with movement to percussion: shadow movements, lunge - retreat — pretend sword fighting without touching etc., until they had a store of movements to carry out a dramatic scene without hurting each other. I had them practice in small groups and then perform to the rest. One slid off the stage like melting jelly. The headmaster heard the whoops and yells, and dropped by to see if all was well! I think he was actually impressed that they were so active but well controlled. Apart from movement and music, we would use other mediums too Some great stories were written and a number of the youngsters (8-9 years) went on to write stories that filled an exercise book - some of them pirate stories. And the desire to write continued. I would arrive early and let the eager beavers into the classroom to get half an hour of story writing done before the bell.
Later I changed to Secondary Comprehensive education, teaching art and needlework. Older children are more difficult to motivate but we did get some good art done that brightened up the annexe - at least, a letter of thanks from the head, as well as the pride of the youngsters, made the hard work worthwhile.

The Joys Of Teaching

They come in the night, and daytime too —
Dreams and nightmares of many a hue.
We shake them off with laughter jolly
But most of the time we’re off our trolley!
In confident voice we teach what we know
And try to hide what we don’t want to show.

We stand at the front and spout the lesson
And hope to be able to last the session.
Some kids are angels and want to learn;
There are also those who are ready to spurn —
All that is taught, but still is our hope
That none of the kids will end up a dope.

We sit in our chair and read out the names
Of all our pupils ready for games —
Not the sort you play with bat and ball
But who’s to win, and who’s to fall
In the battle of wits they play with their teacher —
Jim’s taunting of Miss is a favourite feature.

At least terms are short and holidays long,
And sometimes surprises come rolling along.
Young Jimmy is offered a place at Oxford
And Marlene is nursing in USA Botsford.
Some are employed, most are at college,
And not one is inside — eating his porridge!

This poem is included in Northern Lights, stories and poems from the North of England ISBN 978-0-9548885-5-8 Visit Magpies Nest Publishing for free extracts from this book and others.
Visit my other sites to read short stories, reviews and articles: Wrinkly Writers and My Space/Gladys Writes (you can hear me read stories on this one too)

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Magic Door

The Magic Door of the Internet

Years ago I read a book about a magic door that led to a different time in history. Nothing unique in that storyline. But the idea of a means to enter a different world, howbeit in the present time, is now a reality. It happens to me every day I click on to the Internet.
I meet very interesting people all over the world. Sometimes I read the blogs of others and leave a comment. Sometimes they enter my space and leave a comment. Occasionally e-mails are exchanged. All the time I am learning about people and life beyond my normal travelling distance. Age, gender and distance are irrelevant. This is a world where thoughts, opinions, ideas and stories are exchanged.
This week I have crossed paths with a young man in India who writes stories and poetry. What a wonderful writer — at least I think so. He brings to life the world in which he lives. Although he dwells in an entirely different world of which I have no personal experience, I feel a great deal of empathy with his ideas and thoughts about life. His name is Joyful Thiek.
Visit this young philosopher at
And make sure you read the story ‘One Cold January Night’.
It is quite chilling and most beautifully written. It is also true, and incredibly poignant. You can sense the powerlessness of the situation, his anger and frustration in the telling of the story, and with him want to change the world in which we live.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How Peaceful the Scene

How peaceful the scene: sheep quietly grazing with their bonny lambs. I could have sat there all day, feeling at one with nature and with myself. I could have written poetic verse about peace and trust, revelling in the freedom of all the clutter of daily living. Yes, verses to inspire those willing to share in that joyous solitude. But it would have been fake, mere words; springing from the heart maybe, but with my mind closed to the reality of nature in the raw.
At home, our garden has been visited by a young rabbit, calling to eat the clover growing in the mottled lawn. We have had white doves gracing our garden too. Birds of all varieties have sung to us in the morning and charmed us with their antics around the bird table. A week or so ago we had another visitor, this time a ravaging member of the hawk family. The rabbit was found with its head cracked and its eyes missing, a fantailed pigeon with its head torn off. I thought of those gentle lambs and of the predators that enjoy pecking out their eyes.
This is the world we live in: gentleness and beauty living alongside the ugliness of pain and horror. Even within ourselves we bear an entailed shadow of ugliness that at times is hard to suppress. We see, only too clearly, those who give that shadow freedom to terrorise and maim, but we either camouflage or refuse to recognise what is within ourselves.
Yes, it was good to sit there at peace with nature and myself. For I am part of the natural order — that which is both sunlight and shadow — and learning to live within this dichotomy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midnight Horror — a short story by Gladys Hobson

Midnight Horror — a short story by Gladys Hobson

I had been thinking about the exciting new book I had been reading, Exit… something or other, by Geoff Nelder — you know the sci-fi chappie — when all of a sudden I heard this dreadful rumbling noise. Of course, I didn’t really think something was coming up out of the earth like in Nelder’s book, that is, until I checked the time with my bedside clock. It said midnight, but surely midnight was the time I switched off the light before the earthquake, or whatever, began. Weird! Had time stood still? My hair stood on end. Truly it did. Well, I admit, I do have a good imagination.
I tried to switch on the light but nothing happened. No street lights were shining into my bedroom either. But the loud noises made by house and car alarms filled the air in a most alarming manner, as of course they are programmed to do.
Anxiety made me want to get out before the house fell in. So I felt my way down the stairs, resolving to go in the garden. Shaking like a leaf didn’t help, I stumbled down a few steps and became painfully bruised. Not being the only one wandering about, beams of light from powerful torches pierced the darkness. Swearing and shouting told me my neighbours had been disturbed too.
My comely size 14 might only be dressed in pyjamas but I had no intention of going back indoors. My eyes soon became accustomed to the gloom, but what I saw only made me more afraid; a dark object began moving towards me. Strange grunting noises brought up stiff pimples on my flesh. I ran blindly across the lawn towards where I knew the garden shed to be. But I stopped in my tracks as a glowing globe suddenly came partly into view.
No! Impossible! Surely I must be dreaming? But I didn’t need to pinch myself; I was already hurting from the fall. Confused, trembling and with my head in a whirl I tried to reason things out. Impossible, my world appeared to be in chaos from which reason was barred.
A heavy crash booming simultaneously with a brilliant flash of light threw me to my knees, where I lay in a heap like quivering jelly. A low whine, becoming louder and louder into a crescendo of unmitigated agony, assaulted my ears. Just as I was wondering if that pitiful howl had escaped my own lungs I felt something wet and heavy pressing up to me. Could it be a hound from hell? Had something akin to Nelder’s fictional dog been lifted out of pre-history to be thrown into my lap? With my head in a whirl, how could I possibly think clearly? I was finding it just too hard to untangle the difference between forward-looking science, and fiction loosely based on scientific fact.
A roar, a flash, flames shooting into the sky just a few feet away, sent terror into my paralyzed body. My shed was on fire! I loosed a pent up scream. The creature in my lap bolted pursued by its own pitiful howl.
The skies opened and the ensuing downpour brought me to my senses as well as quelling the flames threatening to lick me to death. At last I could understand all that had happened: a power cut, caused by natural electrical activity. And the roar and shaking ground must be a result of a severe storm. Likely trees would be down and maybe…
My whole body suddenly froze: just in front of me, close where the shed had been, I saw a glowing ball…
“Are you all right, Grace?” It was Betty, my podgy next-door neighbour, dressed in her aging blue chenille housecoat, bending over me.
“Where am I?”
“On your own sofa. I think maybe you fainted, but you do have a bump on your head. We have sent for an ambulance just in case.”
“The lights are on.”
“Yes, the electricity has been restored.”
“How did you find me?”
“We saw the shed on fire and when the rain stopped we wanted to make sure it was out.”
It all came back to me. “The shed… the fire… the… the thing that glowed.”
Betty’s wrinkles creased in puzzlement. “The thing that glowed?”
“A globe thing. Just like in Nelder’s book. It must be real then: science fact, not science fiction. That’s what caused the storm and everything… must have. I saw it clearly after the rain put the shed fire out.”
”Oh, you must have seen that new solar light in our garden. Tim bought it yesterday. Good isn’t it? Jake doesn’t like it though. Damn dog started peeing on it. But he soon shot off when that thunderbolt cracked.”
What a relief.
Suddenly the lights went out.
A glow appeared in the sky through the open curtains.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Badge Of Life — non-fiction!

If you want to read something interesting and worthwhile, something that one day might help someone in distress — friend, family member, colleague or simply YOU — look up Badge Of Life and read and digest the contents. The information there does not apply to law enforcers alone, because the factors that build up and turn a sound-thinking man, woman or teenager towards suicide is universal. This is True Story stuff, not of the imagination, but it sometimes takes the imagination to realise that "this story" could be mine!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gladys Hobson's book signing session.

Geoff Nelder, the sci-fi writer,  very kindly travelled from Chester to support me and get a book signed at my first book signing session. He took these photos.
Thanks, Geoff  — you're a pal!
And here is a picture of my latest book, a second edition of When Angels Lie. Looks dark but right for dark deeds at midnight! When Angels Lie by Gladys Hobson can be ordered through Amazon (USA) and Barnes and Noble on line. Or through
The first (UK) edition of When Angels Lie by Richard L Gray can be ordered at any bookstore or through Amazon. The first two chapters of this first edition can be read on http://www,
All my books can be ordered from the Magpies Nest Publishing web site or the Bookshop at Tinners' Rabbit.

Want to hear me read my short stories?

Reading some of my short stories is an experiment made possible through the good services of my friend Bob Taylor. Most of them are new ones. If you are interested go to My Space and click on the story you fancy. (A few songs, recorded by friends)  are there too. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

Frustration is bad for your health! Try gardening and baking!

Having rejoiced in working out how to do things on my various web sites (I should say SOME things, not many but significant for me — eg posting photographs and links) I have been utterly frustrated by my inability to post the last blog! How ridiculous, I had the title but was reduced to putting the content as a comment! Why? Because it would not accept having my post pasted from a copy of the text of a document I had written. It just kept putting it UNDER the frame and not IN it. Now instead of accepting that it could not be done I just kept trying with the same result. That is poor learning behaviour resulting from a very tired brain. AND leading to further weariness. (Oh give up! Give up the whole thing. Who reads my blogs anyway? Who reads my books? Why bother? Do something useful, woman!) So as soon as the rain stopped I was outside to do some savage pruning! That's better. Then bake some cakes. All turned out good. Next day, bake more cakes — experimenting this time. All brilliant! Then last night I was trying to load photos on my xanga site. I could not fathom what I was doing wrong. So I kept repeating the same action with the same result. (Of course!) Then I looked at the instructions more carefully, trying to recall what I did to post the last ones. My memory slipped back into place and I was successful. Of course, tiredness (I had been up since 4.30am) and loss of brain cells with ageing, does not help, but, as my last post suggests, if you want to keep it, use it and don't give up — be patient and, if necessary, try again when less tired. Now can I get a photo with this post? DONE IT!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let there be music!

The internet is a wonderful medium for keeping in touch with people. I have a couple of friends who sing and they both have web sites: 

Bob Taylor has two other sites on myspace — bobtaylorsings and bobsingsgospel

So I can have regular communication just by listening and occasionally commenting. 
Bob has also put music on my My Space 
Not only that but he is adding recordings of some of my short stories. 

To think in my youth, we had to write letters to keep in touch with people who lived at a distance. Telephones, like cars, were only for the well-off. Now the world is a different place. This affects us in many ways that are only too obvious. Of course, with movement of people and families, it would be easy to lose touch and for the housebound life can be lonely. But the Internet is a wonderful thing for the elderly — a means of keeping in touch with people all over the world. We can have new friendships, interests and keep on learning about life! (Instead of tutting, "Things aren't what they used to be when I was young!" 

Yes! Let there be music, let there be song! Let us keep in touch with e-mails and 'chats'. And encourage our ageing friends and relatives to do the same. And if you want to give them a good laugh click them onto

Monday, June 9, 2008

A walk in the woods

My brother (who lived in California) loved the Lake District. he considered it as a gem — all that was best in scenery encapsulated in an area that could be motored around in a day. Mountains and lakes, woods and valleys. Picturesque villages, small old churches. Slate quarries and ancient stone or slate walls. Flora and fauna to delight the eye. Fantastic footpaths through woods and over mountains. A place to refresh and revive. A place for poets and authors, a place to simply 'be'! There are tourist towns where people flock all the year round, some to take the steamers on the lakes, others to take a trip on a steam train. But it is the quiet places where you can walk or sit and drink in heaven that is the Lake District's greatest appeal.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Meet here and there!

To view photographs of my garden and the Lake District go to my website
My other blogs are http:gladyshobson,
and I have a gladrag site at xanga.
My publishing website is:

Pleasure of gardens

Few things are more inspirational than gardens. Oh yes, maybe the wide open spaces with mountains and lakes and, since we are just a few miles south of one of the most beautiful areas in the country, we visit them often. But a garden is something that we have to work at, unlike 'God's gardens' that evolve over millions of years. Gardening becomes hard work as we get older and so keenness is required for the best results. We have a third of an acre — lawns back and front and flowering shrubs bordering almost the whole perimeter. We have an ancient oak, a magnificent beach and a number of other trees giving the garden a delightful and informal area of peace and quiet. Beyond the back garden wall, there are green fields stretching into the distance, where animals graze contentedly. We have recently planted a rose patch, and delightfully scented blooms are now growing very well, their colours radiant in the afternoon sun. Look for weeds and you will find them. Just like people's lives, nothing is perfect!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yo-yo time!

Lack of sleep, things not working to plan, health problems, loss of inspiration, anxiety about friends and family, plus a number of other things which on their own I can take in my stride, build up to a mountain which appears impossible to climb. Inwardly I weep at the loss of 'vision.' And yet it takes but the unexpected kindness of a friend or the gentleness of a loved one, to stem the rot and enable me to see things in a different light. After the early rain and stiff climb, the sun is now shining as hands reach out to me. A beautiful view is now in sight.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sun after rain

Nothing can be sweeter in the garden than sun after rain. Dryness is overtaken by life-giving moisture bringing growth and colour; even the birds seem to sing more beautifully early in the morning. The robins, tits , finches, blackbirds, woodpeckers and other winged friends visit the feeding stations gathering food for their nestlings. Bees visit the blooms gathering nectar, like the rest of nature doing what they are programmed to do from when their life began. The garden is a hive of activity and yet a place of rest and comfort. With friends and family leaving this earth for loftier regions, the garden is ever a reminder that life with its seasons goes on. We planted a small oak tree in the front garden yesterday. We will never see it reach its full glory but the mother oak standing in the back garden tells us what it will become — if allowed to grow. Like the rest of life, we never know what our small efforts might lead to in the future, nor do we know how we will be remembered. Does it matter? Some people seek immortality through what they leave behind. The trouble today is that what WE are doing to the environment is nothing to be proud about. What indeed is our legacy to future generations? I look out on my garden with joy and yet with sadness too.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Holidays — hard work!

We have just had a short break in the English Lake District. It is a spectacular region of stark mountain tops, forests and lakes, dotted with an occasional ancient country house with pretty 'old fashioned' gardens. A place for sailing, climbing, viewing birds and taking photographs, or like us, walking the many footpaths. To be in the silence of tall trees and inhale the pine scented air, is refreshment indeed, even if, for people like me, the walking is tough! The tinkling streams, the mist over the lakes, the golden light filtering through trees was well worth the upward climb.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another lovely day

The sun is shining across the garden casting deep shadows from the oak tree. Light and shade.
I had an Email from a friend this morning — more light. Friends are a priceless treasure.

But the news from across the world is bad. It puts our country's problems into perspective. And yet for those who are suffering, knowing others are worse off does not ease their own pain or problems.

I used to do a lot of pastoral visiting, especially elderly people. Some were an absolute delight to be with. One gentle man was almost blind, he had severe physical problems which made it difficult for him to venture out. He had lost his dear wife, the light of his life, and of whom he spoke constantly with tears in his eyes. And yet, he had a deep concern for the poor and wretched of the world and gave of his small resources to help ease their plight. His faith was in God and in the Christ who came in poverty to deliver man from darkness and death. Jesus the healer of man's soul, friend of the poor and lowly.
In a world obsessed by power, wealth and possessions, it surely is the meek who will inherit the earth — that is, the Kingdom of Heaven within.

We cannot ignore what our selfishness does to others. And it is in giving of ourselves — in word and deed — that we receive.

In the scheme of things, what does it matter that Niche Gifts is refusing to return the money I paid for a camera I did not receive? What does it matter that folk are not queuing up to buy my books? What does it matter that the house is constantly untidy? What does it matter that weeds are in love with our garden? What does it matter that I can't do the things I did when I was younger? What does it matter that my hair is barely visible on top while my wrinkles enjoy full exposure? What does it matter that I have minor health issues? Such petty things! Within I am young and active and my treasure is too intangible to be tarnished. The Kingdom to which I belong is where joy cannot be bought and love can never die.

Yes, it IS another lovely day today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Light and shade

Why is it that one day nothing can be done or said to disturb one's peace of mind, and yet the next day even lovely weather, bright flowers and birdsong cannot lift one's heavy heart.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Simple Things of Life

As we get older we can't help but reflect on life when we were young. I guess things were pretty simple in those days. No holidays away. We had so little choice and money was in short supply, just like food and clothing. No TV's no 'white goods' in the kitchen. But what we did have seemed of greater value than things today. Now there is too much choice and we get clothes and ‘goods’ comparatively cheap — at the expense of those, including children, who work all hours just to put food in their bellies. The world has gone mad!

It is a lovely day today. In our garden, blooms and blossoms on the shrubs and trees are at their peak, and flowers are brilliant with colour too. Violets and primroses are growing wild in crevices in the crazy paving and steps leading up to the back garden, as well as where I have allowed them to flower in the borders and pots. The scent of wallflowers, lily of the valley and wisteria meet us as soon as we walk outside. We were thinking of going away for a week or so, but it is too lovely here to leave it!
The simple things of life become more meaningful to us as we grow older.

Monday, May 5, 2008

When Angels Lie

Well, my novel, "When Angels Lie" (pen name, Richard L Gray) is getting a burst of new life. It has been acknowledged as a darn good story but I have not the means to either promote or market it. However, AG Press is doing a new imprint for the US market. It is costing me nothing, so Royalties will go to charity. (Save me all that business of exchange currency etc) So I hope it will do well. It has a completely new cover done by one of their illustrators. The title is shortened to be snappier too. (I have left off - all hell is let loose and demons fly!)
It has been interesting to read through my book again, having been 'Americanised'. Funny how English words and phrases have different meanings in another country. Some funny things happened but all is straightened out and will be published at the end of the month.

Blazing Embers is next in line. Meanwhile Awakening Love is being prepared as an E-book by another publisher. (To be followed by its sequel.) All in the USA! Maybe Americans appreciate my type of writing? I hope so!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Awakening Love reviewed again

Awakening Love by Gladys Hobson.

Ulverston-based novelist Gladys Hobson is 75 years old and counts training for church ministry as part of her mature education, so some people may be surprised to discover a rather steamy side to her writing.
Not that any of it is tasteless or gratuitous.
Indeed, sex scenes are going to be inevitable in a book that tells the story of a young woman coming of age and falling in love.
In Awakening Love, the heroine has to choose between different suitors at the same time as coping with her emerging sexuality.
Her ambition is to be a top dress designer, but she becomes distracted by war hero Arthur and his younger brother Charles.
Adding a rather more sinister twist is the dominating figure of her boss, Robert.
Mrs Hobson has come relatively late to the literary world, but appears to have taken to it like the proverbial duck to water, both as a writer and publisher (she runs Magpies Nest).

Review by Allan Tunningly.
Westmorland Gazette, (Leisure supplement) Friday April 25th 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Of Love and Marriage

We have been married for 55 years. Even so, we still have much to learn about life-giving partnerships. I can tell you, we had a rocky start but there was never a question of divorce or unfaithfulness. We married for better or for worse. The years have rolled by and our marriage, still not without its ups and downs, grows better and better. And we grow more and more in love.

I came across what amounts to an excellent dissertation on Love and Marriage in a most unlikely source:
But there is nothing foolish about what is written in the article on love and marriage. I wish we had had it to read before we were married. Even so, it is still relevant and helpful to us today. There are so many nuggets of wisdom that concerns all of us, whether married or not. For this piece of prose is not written by a mere marriage guidance counsellor (he may indeed be that) but, judging by the quality and content of the essay, by a philosopher-psychologist and sincere human being who knows what he is talking about.

For instance, I have heard many people talk about humility: what it is and what it is not. Payton L Inkletter writes of it so beautifully that I quote a few of his words below. But do visit the website and read the rest of his wisdom. (The print is tiny but I copied and pasted them onto a document so I could read it without eye strain)

Humility’s only tool is validation. Humility starts with validation, proceeds with validation, and ends with validation. This explains the organic connection between humility and love.

The not so sharp have said that humility is being a doormat, the clever say that humility is considering others as more important than oneself, while the enlightened say that humility is considering others as important as oneself.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Joy beyond words

I stand under the cherry tree gazing upwards at heavy pink blossoms illuminated by sunlight. I am in awe of the beauty in which my senses are drenched. A silent thanksgiving escapes my heart and mind, and I am blinded by tears of joy as I am lifted into another dimension. I and the blossoms are one — part of creation's grand design — one with the Creator. This is heaven and too overwhelming to linger for long. Refreshed and uplifted, I return to earth to continue my daily tasks knowing I am in God and God is in me. This surely is the reality of eternity.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The harmony of spring

Daffodils are blooming in the garden. Drifts of them throw a golden light before a dark stone wall. Kind thoughts and words lighten up the dark places of my soul. Tall silver birch spread their budding branches upwards as if in prayer. I know that others are praying for me and my happiness. Brown soil is a backcloth for jewel coloured primulas and pansies, azalias and all the many flowers that bloom in the spring. They are my jewels that enrich my being. The whispering trees talk to me and the brook sings its sweet melody. All nature tells me that spring is here and life will ever move on in regenerating cycles. New life is born through dying — it has ever been so.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Digging oneself into a hole

We once had a dog called jess. I loved Jess dearly and, in her doggy way, she loved me.

You can imagine the distress she caused when she went missing. We looked for her everywhere. But something told me that she was not far away. While the rest of the family were searching around the area, I took yet another look around the perimeter of the garden, paying particular attention to where my husband keeps what I call rubbish, but which he calls valuable stocks of building materials — wood, bricks, blocks and so on. I seemed to recall Jess taking interest in mouse holes that exist close to the stone wall that divides the garden from a field. I called her name but did not expect a response because she rarely barked. But I thought I heard a faint whimper. Or was it wishful thinking? I went closer to the pile of wood and saw a narrow slit in the ground. Not big enough for a dog to get through but I tried to peer in just the same. I thought I saw movement. I was right. Jess was there and she started scratching to get out. I quickly realised she had been digging herself into the hole! It was now deep and she could not get a grip to get out. She had been digging deeper and piling the earth up from where she had dug herself in. I got down and put my arm inside but could not grasp her. She was getting quite distressed and so was I. I was fearful everything would collapse on top of her and she would be completely buried. I ran to get help. The men soon got her out. Oh why didn't she bark to let us know where she was?

Thinking of that incident, made me think of how we humans can be very good at digging ourselves into holes we can't get out of. At least this human — me! I have been doing a lot of it lately. Unfortunately, like Jess, we often keep quiet and go on digging deeper. It can be most distressing, and yet pride, shame, or whatever, prevents us from yelling "HELP, I'm stuck. Please help me out. I'm digging myself into a hole. Of course, better not to start digging in the first place!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The singing poet

Bob Taylor, (ex Yorkshire miner) author of that wonderful little book, The Primrose Path and other poems, has revealed just how talented he is by creating a website displaying his singing ability. Check it out at

I find some of his poems reach right into the soul, as well as others providing a good laugh. I know a young lady who was so outraged by his chauvinism that she wanted to thump him! She failed to see that he was laughing at himself! Nice love poems too. All dug up from his own experiences. Altogether, that is what I call good writing!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Spoilers

A lovely morning: bright sun, blue sky with fluffy white and dark grey clouds, chill wind but invigorating. We took a footpath up hills and through woodlands and fields, with daffodils under trees, birds singing on branches, lambs with their ewes. We saw mountain ranges covered with bright snow, fells in dark shadow, sea glistening in sunlight rays. Beauty all around us… good to be alive and live in such a paradise.
We take the downward path — what's this? Seats that were perfect last time we were there, now with their wooden panels smashed; only the iron supports remaining. The wood had gone… where? Beer cans thrown over the wall. A wreath placed in memory of a loved one discarded with the rubbish. Further on, another memorial seat given the same treatment.
Tears came to my eyes…
To grow up blind to nature, indifferent to other's feelings, a destroyer not a builder, is so sad, so very sad.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Litter Angels

We walk for exercise and usually choose the footpaths in our own area to avoid travel by car. It was a habit we fell into by virtue of being a dog owner. Sadly we no longer have a treasured pet, but the area where we live is beautiful and an excuse is not necessary to go out and stretch our legs… heavy rain, ice, and an attack of sheer laziness are the only things that 'blot the landscape' sufficiently to cause a lapse of routine and so prevent us from improving our circulation.

It is interesting to note changes over the years: the stream, that once provided power for local mills, has shifted its course; the waterfall — a playground for would-be engineers — is still in the same place but with eroded banks, and the sluice-gate that let the water into the leat from the stream, is devoid of wheel and everything else that could be removed by the 'young engineers'. I might also add the rocks that I took, one by one, to provide stepping stones through the mud at the footpath gate, were also requisitioned by said youths — only this time as weapons of destruction, howbeit not 'mass'. Over the years, seats have been provided and duly smashed, but the Council continues to paint them — or rather what is left of them. Trees were felled over a stretch of bank leaving behind a horrid sense of devastation, but now nature has taken over and the bank is covered with shrubs and saplings. Dog poo used to get spread across the path into a swirling patina by the brushes on the mechanical 'cleaner', but now, dog walkers are more careful and can be seen disposing their knotted plastic bags in provided containers, and fewer dogs are allowed to roam. Youths leave rubbish, but we once discovered a man clearing it away in a black plastic bag, not that he was paid to, but because it was dangerous and ruined the walk. An angel indeed.

Sometimes we take the steep path up to the local monument. It is a pleasant enough walk getting there. but the magnificent views from the top is enough make the effort worthwhile: bay, fells and mountains — caught in the colours of the changing seasons and weather moods. A shaft of light piercing through a dark cloud to illuminate a patch of dark sea turning it into glimmering silver, is evocative of hope in the midst of the darkness of a soul's pain. To look northwards and see the tops of mountains caught in sunlight with passing shadows, or sometimes glistening with snow, we can only stand in awe. And yet, there too, rubbish gets thrown around, although we noted it didn't stay for long. We assumed the Council took care of it. But not so… we found a lady going round picking it up. On chatting to her, we discovered that she had a self-appointed task to walk the paths each morning and clear up the rubbish.

When we moved to this area, some of the first people we got to know were the friendly walkers — with or without dogs — so we are doubly blessed on our walking exercise.

Ah, the sun is shining — time to be off! There are many walks in this area of Furness, South Cumbria — by coast or canal, in woods, up hills. Which one this morning? And will we find another angel along the path?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

As time goes by

"Do you remember?"
Frequently — no!
I stand (or sit) trying to drag up the word, or message, from my cranial filing system, but no use, it is firmly embedded in a deep bog of a lifetime's events. Then lo and behold, the hidden gem pops up like a sort bog(y) man from another age that can be prodded and dissected at will.

We meet other elderly people in the street, at the local 'genteel' superstore (Booths), or frequently in the cafe's along the 'pensioner trail'. (Have you noticed the 'grey-headed league' who seem to have little else to do but slurp tea and munch cake most afternoons — in cafes noted for 'good value'? We oldies were brought up to be generous but thrifty with it!) It is inevitable that we will know some of those we meet in such establishments. A smile of recognition from a cafe's customer and the brain's retrieval system is put to work.
"Hello, how are you?" (Thinks — I know that face, the voice is familiar, but who the devil is he?")
"Well, you know…."
And so the conversation goes on at length. Eventually we find a table and sit down.
"Who were you talking to?"
"No idea. But his face is familiar."
Some time later… hours… days… weeks, a name is suddenly remembered. But where was it we saw him?

There are other places we can add to the 'pensioner trail' now — chemists, doctors' surgeries, clinics and hospitals. But the places that give us most joy is meeting up on footpaths and country trails. There we get a good mix of hellos from old and young alike.

"Who was that?" A fellow traveller on life's journey! We all need to communicate with others. Who knows? A cheery 'hello' may brighten up another's day, as well as our own.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The sky fell on the head of Chicken Licken

I'm a fairly easy-going sort of person. Sure I get angry about things, but unless it is something that drops out of the blue, I rarely get volcanic eruptions causing immediate physical changes.

I ordered a camera over the internet from a 'market place' that hosts large numbers of sellers as well as selling a huge variety of goods themselves. This was no quick decision. Weeks of studying 'Which', various websites and asking around, finally made us decide which digital camera would suit our needs best. More to the point — which would suit my hubby best.

I duly put in my order. The accessories, sold by the 'host' seller, arrived a couple of days later AND no charge for p&p. We were impressed. The expensive item, full first class carriage charged, arrived two days later. On opening the parcel, we found the manufacturers box containing various bits and pieces (battery charger, leads etc) but NO camera or battery.

Dark clouds gathered in my brain.

I hate complications! I found out what I should do and did it. This sent an email to the supplier. I informed them what was in the package we had received. It appeared to us that we had been sent a second hand (or returned) item, which had not been checked to see if all was there. I wanted what I had paid for or money back. No reply. A few days later I repeated the Email. Yesterday I received a reply. They said that the camera had been checked by both the manufacturer and themselves. They said that my Email was 'extraordinary' and that they found it very hard to believe that I had not received the camera and that they could not help me.

The sky fell on my head!

I was furious. Surely, I was being called a liar and out to defraud them. This is what hurt. I knew the money might be recouped from the host seller — bad enough the hassle involved. But my name had been tarnished and how would that affect any problem in the future — would I always be regarded with suspicion?

How important to us is our integrity.

Once more I got in touch with the host seller and was informed how to go about making a claim. The Email was polite and apologetic. I eventually ticked the boxes and then explained in the space given, what had happened. It was comforting to know that I was presumed innocent until evidence proved otherwise. At least, I thought that to be the case.
This morning, now my blood pressure is likely back to normal, I can see that the sky did not fall on my head but an acorn did. In a world where innocent people are often treated cruelly (to the extent of being locked up, tortured or even killed for 'crimes' they did not commit) my problem is negligible.

Even so, in order to keep my integrity intact, I think I will steer clear of Internet buying. In future we will want to SEE what exactly we are buying before handing over hard-earned cash. (or, in my case — pension!)

'My world' is not the friendly place I once knew it to be. Or is my memory at fault? I don't think so. But where 'good' is found, it is indeed good. And all the more blessed when acorns begin to fall. This world is a confusing place for oldies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dawn chorus

So now the birds sing in the morning and some are gathering twigs to build their nests. Poor things — gales are forecast and, although the sun may shine occasionally, there is a chill wind.
Rather like life once you get to that age when the government decides to give you a free TV licence! For sure, whatever we plan, circumstances usually dictate otherwise.
Do we sit back and take what comes, or force the pace to make the most of time left to us on earth?
Writing is getting me nowhere. What’s more it is getting to be a somewhat lonesome occupation. Any writing I do I want it to be for the joy of doing it, otherwise why bother?
I guess teaching kids to read was the most fulfilling.
Does everyone get restless when friends and family are dying off at a faster rate? When physical problems stop you doing most of the things you once enjoyed? When tiredness wears you down and you no longer have a social life?
It does not have to be this way, but sitting at the computer has not helped.
No doubt, my mood will swing in another direction in a few days.
Ah, such is life.
And it is good to hear the birds sing in the quiet of the morning.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

When joy fades

The birds will sing when spring returns.