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peter.howden
Foretastes of a 60s adolescent

The camp;

It would be hypocritical to say I was ever a Christian, in the true sense of meaning, but… for quite a while I did mumble the words and I would say many did the same. Later, for a very short period skirting around the edges of religion trying to figure it out.

Part in parcel of my developing into some form of adolescence, was my involvement within the popular church youth movement, started in 1883 Sir William Alexander Smith at Free Church Mission Hall, North Woodside Road, Glasgow My introduction was through my brother in law ‘Easton’, shortly before he and my sister ‘Margaret’, emigrated to Canada. I was 7 years old, travelling from the Gorbals to Princess st Rutherglen, because Easton was an officer there. Both Life Boys/ Boys Brigade were run in an principal army discipline, collectively including a Christian ethos.

When my mother and I moved to Minard Rd, for a short while it was Shawlands Cross 57th brigade…then the 45th brigade based in14 Redwood Street, Shawlands. As constant companions in these ranks were Tub’s, Richard, and myself …the three ‘Amigos’. Now it is politically incorrect to give such a nickname as ‘Tub’s’ to anyone, but then, in every district school or gathering, there was nearly always a boy named so…not disrespectful but due to his frame.

The ‘Amigos’ looked forward to being at summer camp, wherever our brigade chosen site, once at Drummore, then twice White Sands Dunbar. My main memory of the small village of Drummore was, wellies filling up with water while collecting from the tap at the furthest corner of the field. White sands; a different kettle of fish, as my hormones where crashing about in all directions into unknown territory, and by then we were the senior boys…. we did some juvenile pranks all the same.

Being in the vanguard, preparing the home away from home for the main party, gave plenty of spare time. I came across a girl’s school summer camp, based inside a big barn some fields away. My hormones played funny games as I met, and instantly attracted to a girl named Alice, meeting with every day, then late evening. Rather an innocent holiday romance it may have been, but still reminisce our first real kiss. Alice was the daughter of the head teacher of the special school.

From all over the country, including England, around 7 companies of Boys Brigade camped in a large field, along the curved shoreline, protected by Barns Ness lighthouse just further ahead. It was tradition, on the first night, to let down tents of other companies. Around 1 am in the morning, as the swirling light piercing the dark aiding our progress but hiding our identities at the same time. Releasing the guy ropes of a couple of tents in each brigade, but leaving one company untouched. plus, we collapsed a few of our own officers’ tents, triggering quite a nosy kerfuffle as we duck into our tents. The conspicuous untarnished camp company shouldered the blame.

One middle of the night, a bet arose to be dressed in our pyjamas, walk a mile and a half into the centre of Dunbar, recouping a souvenir to record the deed. I actual thumbed a lift in a car going there, then back in a lorry…unbelievable these days. The girls school all had to have their hair treated for lice, including Alice, with horrible smelly lotion. This immediate treatment lasted one day.

I was hammering pegs surrounding a latrine, several days later, some distance from the camp, Graham Love, who was a spitting image of the young Cliff Richards, passed by mumbling comments about the hair affair…adding cruelly and sharply, “you will need to watch for scabs from your redheaded!”. In a whim of instant fury, a cold deliberate temper flared into action, as I swung, and tossed, the wooden mallet straight at him. Fortunately, the fleeing missile missed the intended mark, but just by a hair’s thread…making him stop dead, standing rigidly while turning white as a sheet at the same time, as I shouted “bastard!”

Not another single word was said, by either one of us…he kept a wide birth, but later I should have apologised…. but what can you say when you attempt to knock someone’s block off?

I have had to quell this instant anger, for almost all my life.
peter.howden
My Chronicles 19/11/2017


It has been a problematic few odd weeks, with a couple of changes made except for ‘She who must be obeyed’ due to a reputed bug/virus from god knows where. Rebecca’s bad luck was being run down physical after an ankle operation, and extended hospital stay. Since homeward bound she has become ‘homebound’ due to instant needs for the bathroom. One day we think she is over the worse and ‘Wham…. back to the smallest room in the house.

Trying desperately to recover, a diet of continuous boiled cooled water, black tea, and a small bowl of Heinze chicken soup. If by tomorrow, after I have taken Aunt Becky to her doctor…I will phone for one such G.P. to come out and evaluate Rebecca’s situation…. It has been far too long going on. My woman has lost over a stone in weight, plus weak as a kitten. it is hard for me not to be frustrated and selfishly hope for a horizon… Pronto.

As for wee Aunt Becky, because of her many Great escapes, wandering around without a clue where or why. We are lucky because of her immediate neighbours who look out for her, phoning if there is a problem. However lately she has become aggressive if anyone interfered. And by the time I arrive…it’s not in her memory. On Friday her last bid to be a carefree wanderer ended with the police picking her latterly from the pavement and bringing her home.

The truth of the matter is…. she has slipped into a different world and soul due to her Alzheimer’s disease worsening. . It sounds bad news, but it is necessary for the safety of Becky herself. Rebecca and I will in time reduce the sadness, near guilty disposition we both endure now. In the future we will recall so many happy, slightly eccentric memories Becky brought to her…and our world.

One was quite a while ago as Aunt Becky and I were walking down Allander St in Possilpark one sunny day. For some reason or other a siren suddenly resounded from somewhere…Becky just stop dead and froze. She had a worried silent look on her face for some 5 to ten seconds until it stopped just as sudden as it began. We walked to the car and there she told me about the fears of the war and the tragedy she witnessed during the most horrible of times…. Becky recalling this shocked me too.

On a special occasion, while Becky, ‘She who must be obeyed’, and her pall Peggy, stayed at Salty’s citadel, (two caravans moulded together in cottage style). A week’s break enclosed by all the mod cons. One night, just around the bewitching hour, Rebecca heard a noise and investigated, only to find Becky, slightly bewildered by her surroundings, trying to open the door. As it was her lifetime wanting, she slept in the nude. Rebecca tried to persuade her nude Aunt not to leave the comfort of the place. Becky called out she needed a breath of fresh air, and anyway…no one will see me in the pitch-black darkness of the night.

Quickly managed the locks…the front door flew open, she took two steps, reaching just out the door…when…the security lights luminated the whole front door and stairways leading down to the path…also spotlighting Aunt Becky in the pink.
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peter.howden
MIKE..

Mike stepped down from the locomotive after an exhausting journey, though one where he had no choice to make. There was other means of transport, but none would help him blend in unnoticed, except possible the coach, days on end in a packed bus, with no ventilation, sitting next to uncomfortable peoples, all perspiring an uneasy whiff, was not the way he wished to travel. Had fate not been forced on him, then maybe he could afford the luxury of travel he felt he deserved. He imagined he could escape the authorities… but he had no chance getting away from him… but Mike just had to try.

He had been skint before, but now…way, way down on your luck. Millions of his fellow countrymen, and women, had been just that for well over five years, regardless what the government said at the time. The European war had solved the good old Sam’s financial problems long after politicians stated all was well. Then the big crash hurting all walks of life, however, when push came to shove, it was mostly the already poor or downtrodden who suffered most during this time

Mike had fair better than most having seldom to bum his way around the railway lines of different states. It had never rubbed his conscious of cheating ordinary folk, for one thing was always sure, when a black market exists there is always a way to make a buck.

The problem was he could never capitalize on his good fortune and let it slip through his ever-grasping fingers. In other words; Mike was an idiot, or a real bum. Now he had found out just hard it was when not only did your suit look shabby, it was hard to distinguish the suit’s colour…it was just a guess. No one wanted to take a chance on any scam, no matter how good it sounded, from a geezer dressed like he was.

He knew one rule for true, can turn misfortune to your advantage, always use a weakness to become strength. However, this did not help him lumbering his tired body through the cold unforgiving back streets. A church bell rang loudly, giving pimple of an idea growing into a certainty. The chapel give to the poor, the priest is a servant to the community, so if he could stick him a line, then who knows what he could scrounge.

Entering the big chapel contemplating ‘His angle’, observing multitude of religious folk leaving the candle lit building. Walking up this isle, a young man dressed in black counting coins from several silver dishes, also catching Mike’s eye were candlestick holders, adorning the whole alter and surrounding passages. A cold dark thought entered his low brain, which at first, he instantly dismissed as balmy. However, after another few steps into the warmth of the building, he thought again and this time he refused to dismiss it. The evil seed was set.

Making every effort eluding the pastor’s attention, so he would be totally unaware he was not alone. With great caution, sliding slowly towards his quarry Mike heard the “Father” mutter to himself something about an orphanage and how proud he was of his congregation. Almost there, although he had not worked out exactly what he intended to do, he lifted his fist ready to pounce. Just then the cleric turned around, and instead of looking surprised, or frightened, gazed on Mike as if he was expecting him.

“Are you all right my son” the words quietly from padre’s lips. “Can I help my fellow man in his moment of darkness”? The man of the cloth next words came softly and sincerely. Mike was astonished, for one believing to have the patter for any situation, or murky deal, he was speechless.

The priest, without any further words, thrust a ten-dollar bill in Mike’s hand. This was the point when simplicity became complicated, and the road to hell was firmly cemented. Mike picked up the heavy candlestick closest, while the priest turned around for some unknown reason, struck a cowardly blow, giving not a thought of what had just taken place, until well after the fact, when deeds were then irreversible.

Stuffing every penny of the collection in his pockets and a bag he had found close by. Just as he was snatching the silver candlesticks there was a shriek from the base of the chapel. Mike did not have to think twice before he was on his toes. Wildly running past some old lady, who by now was in hysterics, he ran and ran into the murky of the night. Later the next day he was in a hovel of a place, whose coordinator would fence anything including his grand mother, he displays the chapel’s wares.

The fence was no angel, yet refused to touch the ill-gotten goods. He snorted “You were lucky not to have killed that priest, if the papers are anything to go by the whole county is after you”. The crook went on, “The laughable thing about it, the priest’s first words recovering consciousness was –I forgive the poor soul; God go with him”. Well I’ll tell you this boy, I don’t; now bugger off you bit of crap”. Mike could not understand his anger for after all, the fence was no catholic…but Jewish.

Mike did not argue, as the guy was big and mean, ducking being clobbered, Mike ran…left the booty. He certainly knew the snitch would tell the police, in hope of some gratuity from them or the church. So now everyone would know his identity and his haunts; so he had to travel as far away as possible if not further.

Concluding, maybe, just maybe… the priest forgave him, but his boss would not...as he is constantly in the head of Mike… as he wanders into a darker abyss.
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peter.howden
JIM Threw Double 6

Jim stepped down from the train which transported him towards a wedding which he had been graciously invited too some time back. The carriage and the reserved seat were first class but the actual journey gave time to ponder if he made the right decision accepting, though once made and his word given…there was no choice but to turn up.

The shindig promised to be a huge affair between his former best friend, and the girl in Jim’s dreams as a walking angel. She was to be his soul mate, his dearest until the leaves tumbled wearily onto his grave…but fate interfered. Jim recalls the tragedy surrounding the heart-breaking circumstances, as he walked the grey concrete platform towards the gateway.

A few years ago when all were relatively young, with carefree thoughts looking over the horizon, for something better. . Jim saw her, just out of the corner of his eye, instantly smitten by this ‘Spirit of sweetness itself”. He had been bowled over before, though it usually took an aroma of perfume or a few beers to wet the appetites. She was a stunner, flowing with soft whispering words, as a gentle breeze glided over enticing ruby lips, so not to disturb other gods or a sleeping world.

Jim’s emotion erupted uncontrollably within, worshiping the graceful movements of a living goddess floating towards the main hall, her head straight and aloof. What tantalizing majestic elegance, charmed in her company, he knew she was the one, the only one to spend eternity.

The problem was; apart from the fact other people were there, ardently besotted, he lacked the courage to ask such a beautiful creature out on a date. He never revealed his overpowering passion for her or his inner secret feelings, so she never knew. Jim’s love stormed to overflowed, though silently. She must have spotted his puppyish mannerisms displayed but chose to take scant notice. He remained throughout the summer, having a one-way love affair, teasing only his inward ego.

All this was in Jim’s mind and there was more, for his best friend welded the cruellest blow of all. He did ask the girl out, to everyone’s amazement, she consented. This, in Jim’s heart, was the last straw, making it futile to continue his private affair.

The following day he left for foreign parts, somewhere beyond deep into the black country, without telling anyone or leaving any clue to his where about. He knew his adulation would stay with him forever, this mere fact, he decided to end his days with just memories and what may have been sweet “Affaire d'un coeur secret ".


Time had past drearily slow while the clocks hands played havoc with his mind. Months if not years past by but somehow his ex best mate managed to find his location; so hence the stag night and wedding invitation now he was on his way from the train station to meet his friend. His head full of nonsense until he heard the familiar voice of his mate, calling across the pub he had previously arranged in the letter of invitation. His pal of the past looked exceptionally happy good and almost before the first refreshment had touched his lips, Jim felt he had come home to an old and trusted friend.

The lad explained, to the assembly, although it was his stag evening and his very best pal was with him, he would only sup a beer or two, as his intended bride would be annoyed if he turned up at the alter slightly worse for wear. Jim could not remember anytime his friend ever being drunk, he was the more sensible amongst the twosome, in fact it was his mate, who took all the flack because of his sometimes rather over enthusiasm for the “Water of Life” and always helped Jim out of awkward situation.

Suddenly the doors of the establishment flew open in such a violent manner; it made all and sundry turn immediately in that direction. There stood Jim’s old dream, turning her head. Jim instantly thought this was his moment of true recognition, his passion would surely give him away. This must have been his fate. The following words will echo in his mind eternally.

Although the gorgeous full hair black hair, the goddess curves were unmistakeable, there was something strange if not foreboding. Jims best mate appeared to shrink in stature with an “O shit” look on his face. Like a whirling devilish; she marched straight towards his pal, no heed paid to anyone else, she grabbed his lapel, tugged merciless in pure temper. “I told you, no drinking especially with these cronies” she barked with rigid dispatch and a coarse vulgar tone not expected. Jim’s mate tried to deflect the situation by stating in a meek mannerism almost pathetic. “It’s a special occasion… I’ve only had one beer” he said, almost apologetic, “You remember Jim, the best man”. He stopped suddenly as if tired of talking.

She gazed straight into Jim’s eyes and without hesitation or need of a breath, she barked “yes but who the hell told you, you could invite the ‘Looser’. With that piercing remark, whirling her gorgon head, she returned to her victim, demanding to be escorted home. In a few seconds they were gone, while Jim’s reason for inspiration; shattered.

The best man’s pal said very little the next morning just before the ceremony. Only an excuse of pre-marital nerves and a half-hearted effort to say she was out of sorts. Jim could tell that his friend was well used to being in that position and he was willing to pay the price just to be with her. The wedding ritual went without a hitch though this did not prevent the bride growling once or twice, just to keep in practice or, so it seemed to those who saw.

As the couple sped their way out into the daylight, Jim thought; ‘Paradise lost’… not much… but his pal had got him out another awkward position. He returned to the train a happier man than he had been in many a year.
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peter.howden


Family Ducks; The Great Escape.


In 1992, fraught in furious squall of waves 30-metre-high, a lone container ship, ‘Ever Laurel, packed to the guzzles, plunged through the tormented Pacific Ocean. Amongst the consignment of containers, one was holding captive a shipment brace of yellow ducks, red Beavers, green frogs, and blue turtles. Locked inside A Spartacus impossible dream, was brooding amongst the ducks, to break free from the drudgery of slavery. in unwanted captivity, to suffer any future shackled in people’s bathrooms, as amusing ornamental objects

Was it fate when rampant tempest loosened several containers from the overcrowded decks, unceremoniously hurling them into the salty abyss. The sheer force of the storm force containers to slide and collide with each other, cracking open the now brittle container. Incredibly Three long journeys, worthy of a Walt Disney film, formed a desperate struggle to break free from slavery

These ducks were made of yellow plastic which hampered being inconspicuous, therefore, to minimized capture they separated while 28,800 or so headed south to take their chances with Australia (once a penal colony) and the rest headed north to the Antarctic. Some experts may have called this full hardy, but the strategy certainly worked

This synthetic armada of so many plastic yellow ducks with a few beavers, turtles, and green frogs, made a dash for freedom when they broke free from a cargo ship in the pacific some 17 years ago. Since then the artificial flotilla of floating mariners, have braved, yet some would say fool-hardy, an 17,000 miles incredible journey to hopefully freedom. After perilous voyages many ducks have landed in various parts of America, South America, Hawaii, Russia, Alaska and the Artic, Japan and elsewhere. Rumours have emerged that some landed on Christmas Island have been unconfirmed

What happened to the red beavers, green frogs and blue Turtles brigade is unknown…but they will always be remembered with honour…lost at sea… With one solitary duck, nickname ‘Spinks’, floating with the ocean currents, reached the west coast of Scotland after 17years in the oceans

Unfortunately, sinister thoughts abroad as some eastern counties, and the good old U.S.A… believe sabotage was the reason and the ducks were on a clandestine mission …more info to follow
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peter.howden
Family Ducks, they came from the Ocean.

To some, the following may seem tediously close to farfetched…however, with the know history of some world-wide powers, from the not so distant past…just maybe, closer to home than first though

Within certain universal government Departments, where the factual overseas strategies are secretly cautiously manufactured, by the exclusive few for their own ends, holding the real power over all they survey, declaring a terrible threat to world peace now existed, due to appalling sabotage on the high seas.

Other such administrations throughout world states, have declared urgent concern over alien spy networks within, furtively gathered by their own dedicated protection teams. Adding to these statements is anguish over using ‘Innocents ‘such as plastic yellow ducks for their own deplorable ends

The bright yellow rubber ducks (the information of their actual make up was kept secret for international diplomatic affairs) . The duckies were brooded in Hong Kong, reputed for the American peoples, though strangely all sides believe it was sabotage…for dissimilar individual reasons. Quivers in the many halls of power insist the C.I.A. recruited these ducks right from the beginning. They would rather believe such a ludicrous theory, than a simple tale of a miraculous chance of instant freedom. We Scots know all about historical freedom

It is whispered, the best kept secret ever was… thousand missiles carriers disguised, as ruddy ducks, was to infatuate both the Stalinist style countries, and the wearisome Middle East. The chairman and leading generals of various regimes national intelligence services, such as the dreaded K.G.B. believed as fact, hidden within the undisclosed cargo, consisted of pathfinding miniature armed nuclear computerized ducks, blazing out a deadly trail. Incredibly they also took into consideration, some ducks were masters of martial arts, even though the absence of limbs was in the plural.

Such communist administrations akin to the Kremlin also alleged, when the disguised cargo ship reached a pre-planned latitude, the commando ducks were processed when and where this aquatic force would arrive at their intended destinations, then deliberately swept overboard in an arranged storm. Once homed in to various landing beaches, the task forces propelling apparatus would disintegrate in the salt water.

The invading spy ducks would nest, sit motionless, in artificial brooding nests, until any suspicion of thousands of bright yellow ducks landing on a beach had been dispelled. All fluently taught how to quack in the language/dialogue of the country they had just arrived in, so nothing was left to chance. The mere fact that lots of them were bi lingo billed anyway helped the processes.

Back in the good old U.S A. dark talks threatening the whole operation over the colour of the bills. It was said the Americas insisted their operative’s bills should be green as this was the tinge of their beaks… and anyway, red is communist. Experts diplomatically explained how thousands of tub ducks with green bills would certainly give the game away and red was traditional in such a market. Red bills were passed.

The big problem was explaining the complexes ideas to the first man of America…a master Bill Clinton, as we all have learnt, to our cost, his attention scope was limited unless it was a cigar tube container. On one of his flashed briefs he decided it was time for a shower simply because of the subject matter, though the ‘610 Office Ministry of State Security’ claimed …it was bugging him of Nixon’s successful visit to China.

The historic floating tale to follow

P.S….All good Glaswegians know there is only one great China…the fabulous Francie (Ricki Fulton) of Francie and Josie legends
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peter.howden
Family Ducks, The conclusion

The saga reveals how, after the thunderous storms frayed and snapped the ropes of two containers holding the enslaved plastic waterfowl, skidding into the raging sea, breaking up as they hit the water. What immerge, as does so many times when danger threaten a species, a leader emerged, believed to be a ‘Spartacus’ Drake and a raft of followers. They all wanted to loss the fetters of slavery, making a desperate a bid for freedom

A dense mist formed as the main floating sub mariners decided to flow south, into warmer climates, but unfortunately, a few unaware of the intentions of the core flock, drifted accidently in the opposite direction…veered towards magnetic north. What happed to the Beavers, Frogs and turtles was unknown as they did not escape the bondage of the sinking container until later. How many survivors, if there was any, was at that catastrophic time…unknown.

Reaching, then leaving, the Gulf to Alaska passing Kodiak isle, which by coincidence the B.B.C were filming, the flock took such a time to pass, posing on their best sides into the perceived camera, but not watching where they were going. Subpolar Gyre (counter-clockwise ocean) took them deeper in the arctic circle, finding themselves trapped in ice. It must have been a beautiful sight all that ice with yellow spot decease and, so they stayed, quarantined.

Numbers began reducing the flock drastically, for tide and weather took its fearsome toll. Ice seeped in at their rears, leaving the poor bills pointing upward to the stars as if to miming old John Wayne masterpiece” to hell you will” before submerging into the dark deep.

Tasteless jokes around the world started to spread, the red beavers beavering off, green frogs crocking it, and blue turtles were in the soup. However contrary to general belief, quite a few of the three-species survived…reaching Cornwall some 15 years later

Many nations are taking great interest scientifically of the roaming drifting ducks, heading north and south, as it gives the boffins invaluable knowledge of the oceans currents

There is news just in, from the experts on both sides of the water, possibility the missing ducks, beavers, frogs, and turtles…. are in fact not missing. It is claimed they found the lost ‘Infula of Atlantis’. It has been worked out the free current fowl have located the Pluto’s Atlantis, then began acting as ambassadors with peace negotiations.

It has always been believed, now known facts from historic animal skin records (recently discovered) the massive watered Island survived the treating grumpy ‘Deities’ with a massive globe protecting the submerged land and its inhabitants. Sea grass provides the air needed for survival

I have one secret as to the single duck, after 15-year-old trip to land on the West of Scotland…I don’t wish to boast…but I have thee ‘Raymond’…. not in the cold bathroom…but a place of honour…
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peter.howden
More Tales from a tailor Shop


There are quite a few different techniques in the rather shady selling game, which I have demonstrated and applied through a certain period of life, although the unique craft in the Barrowland eluded me…but you never know. In my experience, no matter how helpful or sincere the salesman, or lady appears, the one common denominator rules all…they want your money…and as much as they can claw.

Having sold almost everything from A to Z, the basics are always the same, the buyer is just a mark until success, then onto the next punter. Within City Cash Tailors, Time was money, waste time with peoples who just came out of the rain, was counter-productive. If a punter was messing around, I would suggestions to try the new ‘P&M’ stores, just at the bottom of King St, which they would discover was Paddy’s Market

In most such establishments of that era, it was a crime, worse than murder, to allow a customer who had not purchased items, out the door without passing him, or her, over to another salesperson. In those retail outlets, special floorwalkers were employed to monitor such behaviour, catching the customer before they left. The aftermath was severe reprimand by the offending sales-person. You may wonder why the workforce stayed in such conditions and the answer is simple…. they paid the best money if you reached the holy grail, in the top salesmen club, but staying there was incredibly hard.

My dubious reputation was being the last ‘window grifter’, soliciting, or illegal touting for trade in tailoring shops. All the multipoles had outlawed the stint, but City Cash Tailors did so on Thursdays, when commerce was very slow…receiving not thirty pieces of silver, but double the commission from the sale…regardless who indeed actually ended the transaction….money for old rope.

Strolling up and down outside, glancing into the window pretending he is a shopper, but on the lookout for a susceptible punter, preferably single, or at push two fellows, but never ever a couple. It is a human trait, if someone sees another person gawking intently into a shop window, the passer bye slows down, just to see what is interesting the observer. At this precise moment, the disguised salesman, pulls out from his breast pocket, a shortened ‘Rollup’ known as ‘Dout’, (a smallish cigarette previously smoked but defused) asking for a light. Most of the Glasgow public, like everywhere else, smoked in one form or another

The now stationary passer- bye, concerned he might burn the guy’s nose, politely offers a cigarette from his packet or cigarette case. This takes valuable time, giving the skill grifter the golden chance to open chitchat dialog. all the while, the undercover salesman makes comments how inexpensive this suit is how well its cut and he is going to buy it with his next week’s wage, or at least put a hefty deposit on the immaculate displayed suit …. the customer is impressed, enters the shop, not seeing the con man, nip the cigarette, preparing himself for the next passer-by…like a spider to the fly

Did I not have a conscious? making money my only concern… well yes and no. Somewhere along the line, during a bitterly cold spell, an old man, frozen to the marrow, clutching a £20 Provident check, wishing a suit and a heavy wintertime coat. He was going to his brother’s funeral, however even in such a shop of ‘City Cash Tailors’ class, this was nigh impossible. Fitting the elderly gent with one of the better suit in stock, complete with a reasonable coat, I switch tickets from the sales railing…and that was that

Was this under some misguided principle touching my heart…or just being fed up with just being there, which happened quite a few times, in various dissimilar occupation. I was hoping it was the former, but probably it was the latter…for some years later… I was persuaded, with money, into working weekends for Lenard’s brother Gerald Duman (who called me a blaggard) …lasting some 8/9 years.
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peter.howden
First Leg …A Ne’erday tale

Once upon a time, in a strange land not so far away…a wooden leg decided he wished to marry another wooden leg. He had not wooed his heart of grain, though he had often hopped around with one coppice or another with a twinge within him. While leaning on a fence he declared, this would be his day to find a bride. This was not simply to start another branch of the family, or even to add to the family tree, small bush though it is, it was for a steady partner to rely upon in mutual support.

Having once had a close shave with a plain plank, which only stained and chiselled his grain, it was going nowhere no matter how he tried. He did, in distant pass, meet a leg, but she kicked with the left foot…it just could not be, even bee wax could not help. It was not he was a bigot, it was just he needed a right leg, to have any chance of moving on in life, his wished a leg opposite to him.

It was taking so long, he could not stand it but thee dawn came, as all dawns do, and just a leap away was the leg to die for…. just hoping around aimlessly, though with a whiff of French polish coming from her lower pours. Dreams of his own little splinters just raptures along with twigs because, was growing, palpating inside his knobby being… the wane for a wean.

Drunk in the sunshine of hope, acorns a busting all winds to the world, one major block he failed to notice.
He was a honeysuckles structure; his would-be partner was a birch. He was overwrought with a limp, hopped into the sunset, alone for ever, his stand by fence had been knocked down, making way for a joiner’s shop
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angel


Such a sad tale ! sad.gif sad.gif ..... smile.gif
peter.howden
WANNER

With a pair of uncontrollable shaking hands belonging to the small dismal statue of a man who hesitatingly move forward towards the grubby handle in preparation to open a door. There was no need in him guessing what was behind its shabby appearance…for he has witnessed the secret so many times… in such a short period of time. He may know what the door conceals from view, but has little or no concept how long it’s precious cargo has been hidden

In front of the door, held on with a couple of rusty screws inserted in the ill painted woodwork of the frame…a mirror of sorts. The dirty edges are discoloured completely around the rim as if rust marks and foreign specks roam around the actual plate reflection freely of the glass. Even being near it has to take great concentrations as to what this mirror can hold in images… as it is past its sell by date in true replication. Better days have come and gone for in background of the tedious wee man, is dirt or clamour all over what dimly passes an inhabitable chamber.

The walls original wallpaper no longer exists intact, in its place are just strips mingled in with holes and some kind of yellowish paste. A calendar showing dates around nineteen hundred and something, displaying a naff picture of a car, a scatty dressed a girl, in all our yesterday’s style, is dog-eared and tatty. A couple of old hooks for picture frames hang on.

Mould of different calibres meets the partition and the so-called table and sideboard was previous whipped over on the last Coronation day. The place in simple terms is a dump but the man does not see it so.

In his mind, he pleads lonely and this is why he is heading for the door. He stops for a moment and appears to argue with himself. Seconds later, his hand is on the well-worn knob precariously suspended downward. The door creeks open to reveal the ultimate prize just sitting there on the dusty shelf…around eyelevel. The treasure itself is his holy grail and salvation all rolled into one.

Six cans of Carlsberg special…. once known in Glasgow as limb icebreakers (leg openers). The very first sip is putrid to his lips but once swallowed he is the slave to the liquid master. His eyes resembling two pee holes in the snow… gloat over the remaining haul. The hands do not shake anymore as he gently takes out his booty and places them on the manky table.

He has no idea what day it is though when his giro day arrives, he is always waiting for the mail carrier that gives him the influence and readies to attend the prodigious country club. Run by men of the same calibre and for sozzled loonies with no hope (well-oiled fellows) for communal drunkenness. So what can to drink first. Is it possible he spans them out for the whole day…for it has been done before…. not often his muddled mind reasons

Moments later he has swallowed not only the first can but almost finished the second. His destination is to be blootered, (fu) and he is an expert. Ten minutes later not a sound, other than creaks from a moaning abode, can be heard coming from the grim depraved room…lying where he landed is the crumpled body of one manky body that used to be human.

For him he will never be free…of the alcohol quicksand.
peter.howden
Surprise [size="3"][/size]

Today I witness something caring, loaded with human kindness almost beyond any measurement, yet it was the cruellest blow all the same. The almost marvel happened in the busy Pollokshaws Rd, heading for Queens park renowned ducks and swans ponds the papers rats are abundant there, but everybody knows ducks don’t eat rats

Om the curb of the pavement, a senior man was attempting to cross the busy congested road, when this hoody approached him, with a swaggering manner, many would classify as a juvenile delinquent , judged by some older people as a teddy boy. The type who would carry a flick- knife, or a cosh to alarm some poor old bugger or worse still, intent to rob.

The senior chap was at first slightly cautious, but the hoody smiled from cheek to cheek, reassuring the older chap, then with gentle care held the squire’s arm, until when the traffic died down, guided the older gentleman safely across the busy highway.

Without waiting to be thanked…he disappeared into the oncoming crowd.
The cruellest stroke was…………………….I was the perceived elderly man
peter.howden
THE BLUE BABY BATH; Part one

There will be certain things, throughout your life and within your grasp or possibly ownership; you take for granted without thinking. The importance as they thread through your life, may slip or be is missed while your family travel another road. Their worth need not be much in financial status or indeed appreciated in any real sense, however prove invaluable to you and your loved ones. This is the case with our baby bath.

I can recall exactly when I first laid eyes on this rather oversized blue plastic baby bath. The miners were on strike in 1972, which in turn proved to be the famous, or infamous, with power restricted three-day week through the winter, including Christmas. We were living in a single end, situated in Toryglen Street, the very heart of Oatlands district of Glasgow. It was cosy enough with its bed recess and everything literally within arm’s reach, but the one drawback was the coal fire as its only source of heat. The restrictions meant the electricity only being on at certain times, and lack of coal-nuts which meant forgetting the coal man. I struck an idea.

Along the old Rutherglen road, there was red sandstone buildings all boarded up ready for demolition when the council may have the opportunity to rebuild. At one-time they had been upmarket respectable homes, with kitchen, bathroom, front room and most important; the indoor cellar for coal. They had been abandoned for some considerable time.

With hammer and wall chisel, along with a trusty rubber torch in hand, I went in search of coal. Hacking through walls and old closes successfully, though covered in coal dust. Each individual coal bunker had various amounts of coal, and dust, which had to be separated by sieving. It was certainly desperate efforts…also desperate times. The result was, we toasted ourselves in warmth with my gains from the grey side of the law. One day I entered this unusual home with many a thing left as if the family had left in a hurry. Sitting lonely in the corner was the big baby’s bath. I was about to leave when I thought about the coal dust plastered on to every part of my skin whether covered or bare. I lumbered it home.

What a glorious stupendous bath I had that night, right in front of a roaring fire by my sort of ill-gotten gains, and how essential it was to become within days of taking possession. It was close to Christmas and we borrowed from next door a pair of ladders so to hang decorations. Not realizing at the time, along with the steps came unwanted visitors. I awoke to feel itchy and scratching in such a frenzy it forced me to look under our covers to find wee beasties crawling all over ‘She who must be obeyed’, Toni our baby’s cot and the whole bed including me.

I cannot call myself brave however the panic I moved into certainly did not help the situation as Rebecca arose, still blearily eyed from sleep and these little perishing bugs, dropping by the handful onto the floor; slight exaggeration though you are bound to imagine the frightening picture, for those beasties were immune to screaming. We managed to have the bug squad out almost instantly, loaded with equipment to skoosh stuff everywhere where there was a hole to skoosh into.

From then on, all three of us used this plastic tub as a truly close friend and essential piece of equipment for every night there after for goodness knows how long. It certainly rid me of coal dust blues, or is that black.
Second episode to follow

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peter.howden
Anecdotes from the auld Steamie …

Situated in Scotland and within one of the grand metropolis of this lovely diverse country In a certain purposely built Victorian construction housed a well-run public amenity such as Swimming, hot baths, the good old Steamie and a very well used Turkish baths. There was several important peoples, along with more than a few celebrities, a scattering of worldwide famous individuals, even a sprinkling of global movie actors, who choose this establishment above others.

However, the real stars of the crowds were the ordinary people who came in all shapes and sizes but most important, apart from the steam bathing, they came to give and receive a good time. one such regular was Mr Jim Kerr senior, a typical wee Glasgow man, having had seen tough times and better times, but always ready with a joke or some interesting story. His son was singer Jim Kerr of the incredible ‘Simple Minds’ when engagements allowed, the now world-famous band patronized the suite.

In 1988/89…. the trappings of wealth were immense, but the boys always appeared, down to earth, nearly normal, apart from the overbearing pretentious manager who tagged along with them most times they appear. Jim himself, gave out autographs with a whiff of amazement of people genuinely wanting them, as if he had not used to stardom. Ben gunn could not claim any real friendship with the talented lead singer/songsmith, however he can do so of Jim Kerr Senior, as he was a regular while he was not “on tour” with the group.

Kerr senior had been a hard working “Brickie” before he retired, and it was not difficult to see where his son had inherited his common sense and stability. One-day Ben Gunn was in the family home of the Kerr’s while his proud father showed off his gold discs and trophies from all over the world. The mother was working part-time in Gregg’s on this day, while Jim Senior’s related his recollections when his eldest son became famous for his first gigantic global successful tour, with the news of a present for both him and his mum.

They would be driven in a private limo down to London, then take the Oriental Express to Istanbul, where they would be ferried to the QE 11, cruising off to America. They would spend two weeks inside Disneyland in the luxury hotel centre there... finally, to be a flight home on Concorde.

Jim Senior was as proud and proud could be, but warned his wife Mary would turn down this magnificent package, and he was right.

The young Jim explained the very same idea to his mum who listened quietly until the last turned it down flat, without explanation. The singer was obviously amazed and stunned, asking why not, along with the verbal support from his father. It’s the ship, like the Titanic… it will sink or could sink. At this Jim senior lost his usual easy-going manner, retorted with “you silly woman, it’s a floating city., you will not feel a single roll of the sea since they have all the latest technology. Unmoved the mother stuck to her guns and repeated her concerns and added “No”.

By this time the Jim elder lost it, having been offered a out of this world fantastic four in one holiday… he uttered these parting words. “Do you know the problem with you? You have a Bridgeton mentality!”, storming out the room, leaving his son and mum dumbfounded.

Next morning, Mary caught her husband in their large well-groomed back garden, as he pottered around which was his want. Her words softly spoken with gentle care, telling him how sorry she was and apologized, adding she had no idea that he wanted or needed a break or a holiday.

In all innocence she then went on to suggest…. why don’t they phone up ‘David Urquhart’s Travels?’.
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peter.howden


The Baby bath;

Part two

Naughtily suffering one of my severe senior moments, I stated one of the outcomes was a three-day week, this was untrue. There was terrible coal shortage in 1972 but the 3-day week was in 1973, early 74, eventually resulting in Heath losing a hasty election. There was a bitter taste in both quarters

During the 1972 spell because of the cold, along with the uncertain supply of electricity during the day, things were upside down and rather shook-up. We were both out at work and Toni, our daughter was being watched by my mother in law “The Voice”(what a woman), leaving the only creature in the home, our adopted stray wayward mutt “Titch” the original Heinz variety though friendly hound.

We came home late, one dark evening to find the whole apartment (one room and a hall which you were out before you were in) covered in cold manky water. It was obvious there had been a burst as we searched for the torch never in the place where we left it. Shinning it around us, shone on Titch sitting in the big blue plastic bath, dry as a bone, and wagging her tail. Floating around in the baby bath with Titch’ was her dinner plate and a toy brick inside. She must have placed them there herself as the water rose. Don’t know if she was being clever or a cunning little bugger but it was amazing still the same.

Usually she jumped up with great excitement giving me the warm feeling I was truly the master, yet this very night she just sat there balancing herself and using the bath as a boat. The strange thing for me is I can’t recall much else about this calamity or in fact what the neighbours down the stairs said. Burst pipes were an occupational hazard while renting these old buildings and factors rarely came to help.

Having to climb four stories to reach our tiny flat (outside toilet) was quite a push, considering humping a fair-sized Churchill pram and Toni each time we went out. unfortunately, ’Titch’ the first, was run down trying to scupper from a terrifying beast of a hound, which lodged around the corner. Eventually we moved to Easterhouse; Rachin Street to be precise, near indulgence of two bedrooms and a bathroom, …and no stairs. In such luxury the family grew children now were three, Toni, Chris, and Nikki.

Again, a coal fire was the heart of the heating, one in the living room, one in the main bedroom. Our treasure of a bath had served us well as the years rolled on, so it was obvious it would come to our new home

It was used for its correct purpose rarely after that, all the same when we felt a touch of nostalgia or friendly intimacy, preparations where made after our three children were safely tucked in their beds. Something magic happens when the coal fire dances in the dark, illuminating slow ripples of water catch’s the imagination, allowing the soul to glow with words floating into yonder darkness then disappear into space. Small ‘Waters of life’ sipped while being careful not to spill a drop is difficult when obeying romantic moves, as these magic moments just drift away. Totally complete sublime; just absolutely magic. .

The bath was frequently full of one child’s toys or another or was used as transport for an unwilling “Titch-2”(the second dog in our lives) in a game one of our children dreamed up and ended by the poor hound being rapped up like a baby and paraded around the street. It looked as if she was ashamed to be caught out in the open by her peers in such a degrading manner though never once did anything to prevent the circumstances.

Then; the miner’s strike of 1984, continuing the hardship we all felt without the constant supply of coal, which displayed via necessity how those homes were crucially badly insulated. Again the coalman was rarer than a kept government’s promise, and this time the dire urgency for more children needed warmth

There was woodland leading to Gartloch hospital called “Loch wood Plant” and I had an idea. I rigged up wheels and roped tied around the blue bath to the hastily formed frame. Picked up a saw and my trusty wood axe…went for a chopper. It was brutally hard work though the booty was gratis fuel however truth be told, I did look like a tramp or vagabond but who the hell was caring as we all had both heat and hot water right through that dark period.

I now see I would have not been so successful if not for the big blue plastic bath, made portable as it was. It saved our bacon at the very least kept the family warm. [size="4"][/size]
peter.howden
The Baby bath Finale ;
Part three

In 75,76 and 77,when the winters came in, bringing snow aplenty, Toni, Chris, Nikki and I, plus the family mutt ‘Titch’, took to the slopes opposite the Chapel at the local football pitch’s. This was an unrepeatable special time, but memories are around, never to forget. For these occasions, the old blue bath was turned into a sledge, hurling all the way down Glassel Road (except Nikki) which certainly sent the juices running, dicey and icy.

Our faithful pooch barking like a banshee, with her paws losing control of her sliding ass…in a most undignified manner. We were out all hours or until the clothing, used for protection, were now totally drenched throughout. The children were absolutely saturated to the skin, but desperate to tell their mum what daring adventures took place and how many times they cruised down in the old pliable bath. The tingling feeling as soon as you entered the warmth of the home is still with me to this very day, along with the sight of Titch trying to catch snow balls flung from whoever was racing down in the brood’s bath at the time.

Delightful squeals coming from the children, running up and down the bare hall, displaying red rosy cheeks, both sets, while dragging loose towels ready for use. Sometimes I took a bath with them; one at a time… which they thought was an extra treat. I would play submarines, or boat battles using anything at hand, usually a couple of yellow ducks for I was every inch a bigger wean than our kids. I still have those original ducks but the family have grown. It was off the cuff…guiltless precious bonding moments. Sadly, today… this innocent fun would be seriously frowned on.

Time was running out for the blue baby bath as the children grew older, and a real danger of being tossed out, when… I had another idea. I decided to place it in the very far corner of the garden, sheltered by the communal wall. I had seen on one of the garden programmes some expensive ponds made for the shrubbery. Just like ‘Bleu Peter’; I set about creating a homemade pond. Perhaps the neighbours thought it was ‘Crackerjack’ but I persisted and though I say it myself, it was not bad at all.

Within a short period of time we discovered frogs settling inside the safety of the corner, the rockery in the bath and the pleasure of water changed at regular intervals by a cunning system of old plastic tubes and using the overflow pipe of the cludgie.

Last time I saw our little saviour was when glancing at our garden, before moving yet again, though this time to another area called Barlanark. The faithful servant was now covered by green moss, as the wonders of nature, cosily finding it niche.

As I strayed for one last glance, I am not ashamed to admit to a tear in my eye.
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peter.howden

Tell a tale


Information is power, so they say… however, it can be helpful or sometimes hinders the listener, when a few grains of truth is mixed with ‘gilding the lily,’ testing to the steel of a man or vamp of a lady. On rare occasions certain peoples give out information, attempting to purify a colourful rendition, however the innocent traveller may be duped into thinking its history. If the narrator can imitate sincerity…then the storyteller is half way creating a incorrect reality.

The source of this fable began shortly after arriving in the village of historic Saissac, with its Medieval, Cathar castle, the gateway of ‘Black Mountains, overlooking the fabulous Midi Pyrenees. I was visiting the “Pines” household, a well-respected family from Biggar, Scotland, though gentleman Keith is initially from Liverpool…and is delighted he is.

I had been to this region several times before, tramping as best as I could around the forest and the man-made reservoirs, with no thought of any danger what-so-ever during the high summer, grateful the fearful Scottish Midge were far across the seas.

Now France has something in common with the Scottish countryside especially the view from the top of Avenue De La Liberie. On this sunny occasion one outstanding corker of a building. This was the new home of Keith’s hard-working son, was almost finished the main building dominating the mountainous in that part of the dwelling village. This tree story building was especially obvious to the eye because, at that point, the whole structure was a colourful orange awaiting the finishing white plastering.

While I was just staring around the whole fantastic view, two passing lumbering English hikers stopped to look across at the eye catching creation, politely asking why it was coloured so

I felt a little Scottish mischievous and slightly roguish.

Taking a sip of water, I congratulated them on being alert about this construction as I had some local knowledge about its incredible history., I spoke softly, stating the house is named “The wee house of Shaw’s”, then continued with a straight, almost solemn expression, stating sharply The ‘Auld Alliance’ of 1294 amid Scotland and France, made a grand place for such a project The backpackers moved nearer giving the impression they were not only interested but keen to listen.

The planning architecture, Mr. Rankeillor, Esquire, and the materials had been bought and paid for by Jacobite monies remaining, first raised in 1778. These funds were originally raised for the victorious return to Scotland, of Bonnie Prince himself, however had not materialized. The sum grew and grew through the ages and was used in both World wars for the comfort of dying Scottish soldiers and some monies sent home to their wanting families.

Since the Scottish Nationalist had achieved their objective in Scotland; the guardians of the monies agreed it to build a refuge for travelling Scots It was solemnly ordained, any ‘Balfour…Stewart or Breck’ will not have to pay one farthing in lodgings, while all other true Scots will bide for just a few shillings. My company seemed well pleased they were privy to such information as I added; “If you travel to Carcassonne itself you will find a Jacobin Gate to the south of the river”. I left them soaking up this well-earned information.

It is certain they had never read Robert L. Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”, or they might have tumbled to the names…. that’s Sassenachs for you

Another Tail

A father was left in charge of his young son, and a niece, who was staying the night as her mother and Aunt, were at a reunion. Later in the evening, while preparing the four-year olds for bed, dad decided to bath them, both at the same time, so he could keep an eye on them collectively.

His son had never seen a bare little girl…and the wee girl had never seen a bare boy either. Both toddlers enjoyed the bubbles. Dried, dressed and after a story were put into separate beds. The father said goodnight to his son, turned towards his niece and was just about to do the same, when the charming little girl beckoned him to whisper something in his ear.

He bent down to accommodate the little lass…she whispered…. “it is lucky it did not grow on his face”


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peter.howden
The little bashed pot

Having been laid down unceremoniously, without thought or fortune, lodged between other already washed dish, the little bashed pot settled down too dry. The time this took, depended on the heat within this demanding kitchen, or in rare moments, when someone would use a dish cloth, then place it on the usual shelf ready for the next time.

The wee pot was not a castoff, for it had been brand new many years ago, bought for purpose of everyday cooking. It was a very popular saucepan because of its size, while the bashes and scrapes told the tale of constant usage. There were even abrasions when one visitor to the kitchen, volunteered to do the washing-up, used, of all things, an old fashioned brillo pad. This is a ‘No-no’, as all good cooks knows to their peril…and pots and pans dread.

Unknown to the little pan, he was being ogled by a self-professed beautiful crock, in prestige condition, whose resting place was in an all glass display cabinet...reputedly but never substantiated, built with him in mind. The ancient pot was a downright snob, who had never been washed, so commonly, with suds as the rest of the utensils in the pantry, as he believed he was privileged, very special, being handled with gloves, massaged with olive oil and a soft cloth.
When he had arrived, handled with kid gloves, hands delicately used a small brush and a blow dryer before being carefully placed in his resting cushion enabling him to gawk at all around the kitchenette.

Once the humans had left the scullery, silence instantly fell, except for the drip-drip from the tap, its washer had been wasting away for ages. The bad mannered would be toff, scornfully down to the wee wet pot, cursing with a sting, calling him a common pot rough ware. This unnecessary hurled abuse did not completely upset the little pot, quickly quipping back, how at least he was useful, having seen life with constant use, learned a few things by meeting all other valuable utensils...and been loved in a way.

On the whole, the show-oft mysterious appliance grumpily cringed, he was of the upper order of the social scale as he was an antique, having been kept in unspoiled condition for all those years, more than he could recall. His last quip rang out ‘I must be worth an exceedingly high amount because everybody wants to hold me carefully’.

The little pot, with a glint in its well-polished bottom, whispered this rye twist ‘Where you are, you’re definitely not ‘suffice to purpose’ for my boastful fellow, you are a Victorian travelling commode; Yes ... A pee latrine’…known in Glaswegian as a Pish pot
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May I hake this opportunity to wish you all a fantastic Merry Christmas….and a Ne’erday with a wee ‘Deoch-an-Doris’ at each door you visit …before the devil finds out
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peter.howden
Trapped in darkness

Where am I …I shouldn’t be scarred, I’m old enough not to be frightened, but I am. There I was, without a care in the world taking a saunter with my companion, doing a little Christmas shopping, for the wee odds and ends, personal things needed in such celebrations. For some reason my mate and I became separated, then…without warning…I was tossed into a chilly mobile cage, unable to get out, left there like an eternity, then manhandled unceremoniously, from one rough person to another, until finally, locked in a dark claustrophobic place… with strange creatures, possessing touchy things sticking out…including various unwanted odours … I don’t even know.

It’s cringingly terrifying why… very now and then, the uncertain ground trembles, then move with the creation of shaft of instant gloaming light, complete with the haunting ‘Kist Mort’, piercing the dim corners of nowhere, searching for a demise unwilling to leave this world…unable to see the stars one more time. As if from the depths of hell itself, something grotesque abruptly hauls some of poor soul out, vanishes as quickly as it came…then utter darkness falls again.

Oozing from somewhere unknown there is the distant murmur of hustling and bustling … but I can’t put my finger on where I’ve heard such sounds before. My fingers are bloody freezing …haven’t been able to warm up since this kidnap happened, and no wonder…I need a hand to comfort me…. if only I could I would cry…

Once again, the floor quaked, echoing the unwanted light of fate to appear above, the monster from netherworld reached in, grabbed one of my fingers then hauling me into unknown abyss.
Suddenly…there was light everywhere, music as people mulled around in gay abandon carrying presents galore. The biggest welcoming surprise was…I recognized my benefactor as I was handed over to him and my perfect partner in his hand were clasped together…. who is left and who is right matters not…as long as we are together as lifetime mates.

I did hear a voice call out to my human saying, ‘be careful you don’t leave your glove in the shopping trolley again…some people don’t bother handing them in…It would be a pity if it was lost forever’…
-=-=-=
peter.howden
[b]
Desperate Shopping
[/b]

On a busy road, an elderly lady shuffles along the precarious uneven pavement, heading for the traffic-lights. She is in a hurry for the shops, desperately needing messages. On top of the list is Corn-Dobby, makes a comfort sandwich in the middle of the night when she cannot sleep for worrying. She thinks to herself, she is being a silly old fool, Harry will keep her safe. Second on the list, a special treat for him, slice sausage, Harry loves a bit of sausage, bacon, black pudding, and a Sunnyside up egg. Fairy-tale thoughts of the past start to seep into her mind.

Sharply squints around with eyes keen for her age, she reminds herself she has no time for this foolery as she had better get her skates on and hope she does not meet Mrs MacBride as all she is a gossip who bad mouths everybody and everything.

Glancing back and forth, while cautiously stepping towards her goal, the post where you press the button to cross on the Zebra Crossing. All the time she nervously looks behind, relieved she is not being followed. She knows her Harry will say she is daft when she gets back home. Once the key is secured behind the door, then both will be all right… snug as bugs on rugs.

She stops her four-wheeled trolley from rolling any further, giving her time to gather her breath, then the green man flashes. A wee laddie at the crossing, smiles at her as she squints at him thinking; ‘is he one of those hoodlums who broke into our house when I was out last week, lucky I had Harry with me or he might have been hurt, or worse thrown out into the street’.

The place was in a real stooshie, the mawkit middens even peed on the coffee table, near scunnered me, but I promised Harry, they’ll naw catch me napping this time, I bought a double drop mortise and paid a real joiner put it in. I said to Harry, ‘you can’t put a price on safety’.

The lights change, the old lady darts across at such a speed, leaving the wee lad standing, and before one other moment has past, she is inside the supermarket like a hurricane. She would much prefer to shop in the wee shops however; the high street is full of sad empty premises and the family butcher that Harry likes is gone somewhere but not local. She scoots around the shelves hardly looking at the well-publicized bargains to tempt the sodie-heid shoppers.

Hurries through the till section, then anxiously marches, almost runs along the well-worn street heading for her home and back to the flat. She worries being out so long and if she was right to leave |Harry alone in the flat. The chippie said the door was like fort Knox …. It’s Guaranteed. I hope he’s right’ she thought as she entered the close and her heart was thumping ten to a penny
.
To her relief the front door was intact. She enters the home and calls on Harry to let him know she is out of harm's way. Locking the double- drop, she starts packing her messages away and makes the tea. With her favourite slippers on, she sits down next to where Harry is and relaxes. ‘Told you handsome I’d be back in two handshakes and a jiffy… and so, I am’

She says as she fondly…and very carefully picks up, from the new coffee table…a photo of her darling late Harry.
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peter.howden
Desperate Aunt

A distant siren wailed and echoed loudly unexpectedly, heralding unwished instant horror to an old lady, transporting her mind, every inch of her physique existence, forced back into a black abyss. It’s horrendous howling drool herald foreboding she thought and hoped was dead. Petrified deep into her soul, as every inch of her body ceased to function, like a cold marble statue, became instantaneously wholly stationary. Time ceased to know where it was as dread fear took over.

Wailing unabated, the siren continued haunting Aunt Becky, standing unbending, with eyes full of dread reborn from the dark illusive past, buried but now revived from her consciousness.
Unregulated seconds past until Becky awoke from her listening nightmare. She knew instantly what it meant, automatically alerted her mind instinctively searching the street to where any shelter could possibly be. Although defiantly not a stranger to the district she had been walking in, the yowl of the dreaded warning system, disorientated her movements. All this was in the present but controlled from the past.

Becky identified she was not as agile as her consciousness returned when, just a slip of a girl, she stayed where she was, unprotected and her family had no knowledge of her whereabouts, Becky knew she had to act quickly or be dammed or killed.

Her first nervous thought, to find a chapel or a church, they would not dare strike, or bomb a church. She also reasoned to find main block of a stairway, shelter as told by the government alerts, but something disturbed as she heard something like a dull whisper but just could not phantom what it was.

Now… she felt the cold continuous clamminess from sweating profusely. Now she corrected herself calling it perspiration, as her mother always told her not to be common but must be a lady always… especially through calamities as this was a sure sign of breeding.
Hint at a suggestion you may be perspiring. ‘Whatever you call it I am so uncomfortable’ she reasoned, and she will have to hurry home.

About to take her first step, instantaneously, she could still hear a background voice dictating dread for her big brother David. He is so irrational and reckless to the point of helping others before himself. Becky decided to look for him in a fog or mist shadowing everything it contacted.

Perhaps she has been hit herself, she has this blinding headache, incapable of seeing anything in front of her. Fear within intensified, almost freaking as hope seemed to be lost forever and kismet served.

Just at that precise moment………. the awful siren stopped with a whine squeezing into a whimpering loudness slithering into obscurity. It was a testing for goodness knows what or a lovesick warmonger wishing for times in the past. Whatever the reason poor Becky had been transported back into a reaction she had long forgotten

Becky found herself in the middle of Allander St and her very young bewildered me holding her hand, asking if she was all right. The year was 2012, yet, for an unspecified moment of time, or perhaps more …she was living through the war, beholding the individual horror she witnessed every time the siren was let loose into the public arena……holding her in absolute terror of being unable to move… now… as so often then
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peter.howden
Desperate beyond belief;

He could hear flickers of classical music around the unembellished hollow room, with him being an imitation ghost with no ghost of a chance to haunt anyone other than himself. For some reason, outside was illusory four walls… the only faithful existence. His movement halted sharply, being quiet as a dormouse, and just as jittery, as he thought he heard footsteps… but no, just some echoes of the past, edging forward as they did from time to time.

His sister belonged there but she had not returned for some reason, perhaps she had been caught by the truth defectors. All he knew was the food portion had not come. His sister promised to be very diligent, and cautious, as she left small portion to eat behind the storm doors, in the middle of the nights without any trace of the moon. To easily spotted in the silver light of the moon as shadows tell tales. It was dangerous for him to open the main door, but the storm doors closed tight as she had a key…he just had to wait till they were partly open.

He could not risk going out there in the cold, very cold realm where society and the whole civilization had gone bammy…. even the chosen ones had weakened though all had a covenant with the one they dare not speak his name

He was scared in case someone would recognize he was Jewish, carrying the incontrollable guilt, punishing him for surviving, not only the Auschwitz holocaust but his own private recollection of the horror. Inmates did not care if some particles of crumbs of bread, or a rotten tomato, was kosher or not, he has been a vegetarian since only eating meagrely to sustain some resemblance to life while secretly colliding in living purgatory with the ancient Gehenna.

He was now alone…the strange realism was his ‘A’ branded number, so brutally given by monsters, was now a comfort to him…as he stroked it just to check it was still indelibly there

He was alone…now in a ward for refugee, this inaccessible figure had been the longest inmate, oblivious of his present surroundings of loving care, by the matron of this special ward. She had instructed her limited staff, not to attempt leaving food for him…. unless the corridor and the room, were pitch black, for he would not touch it, unless…it was behind the ajar door.
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The Tabby

The cat sat on the mat… as if by holy command. The cat always sat on the mat, except for one time when an unknown interloper broke in, callously stood on the mat. Where the cat came from, cannot be determined by human or breast, but the kitling savagery was wilder than any Scottish wild cat famed for heredity ferocity. The cat flew straight at the interloper, having no time to move was still illicitly standing on the mat. The furious feline with open claws dug deep into roguish skin, drawing deep red blood spurting uncontrollable across the burglar’s unprotected face.

The thief’s arms swiped the air in blind terror, caused by the blood entering his eyes, preventing miserable attempts to free himself from the moggy’s savage attack. The very next moment the mouser’s teeth sank into the defenceless open neck of the now agonized unorthodox interloper. Sheer panic caused a wave of reckless arm movements which luckily managed to dislodge the reputed trained grimalkin, in its bloodletting activities

The purloiner fled like a mad man.

Why did the cat, who daily sat on the mat, act in such a manner, is a mystery, though viewpoints rage from being a mixed-up Maltese cat with a‘Falcon’ fetish, or just out of pure boredom…to the ridiculous belief the pussy had in fact fell in love with next doors dog…having mood swings…who knows? but the cat… is still sitting on the mat
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My Chronicles 05/01/2018

It has been some considerable time since I last put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) due to various circumstances, including the coming near to the festive season. As a yearly usual the media were whipping up mental stramash, of either displaying specially ordered Xmas goods, or at the very least imitating the urgency and necessity to purchase right away…while stock last, they say. What they did not mention, if the buying prediction failed, certain stock would have to be reduced in price, the day after Boxing day, to ordain a clearance extravagance)

This may sound like an old cantankerous cynic, which probably I am, however although I do not have any religious faith, I do like the rudiment meaning of Christmas, to be kind and considerate to your fellow human beings. However, it appears that this simple message is not only slipping away…but lost in the avenues of hard core commerce. Other than this, I should not have predicted the future…if I dare…pay no heed to my bellybutton .

I have not been on board with my Chronicles due to a couple of unavoidable realities. ’She who must be obeyed ‘was going through a rather rough patch due to the C-Diff bug. Each day Rebecca was improving, but not enough to give her the confidence to feel the difference mentally. The bug, not only drains in one way, also leaves the patient unable, or unwilling to digest food, which together exhausted Rebecca’s pluck. Over the past few months there were scary moments I would not wish to experience again. Adding to the pot was her concern for Aunt Becky.

Aunt Becky was now in a home, ran particularly for dementia and Alzheimer elderly. The journey there has been long and at times, agonizingly difficult, however surprisingly easily how Becky settled within a very short space in time. Although Rebecca was not fully recovered, we decided to make a wee splash for Aunt Becky’s 92nd birthday with a birthday cake, a few small presents and arrange tea and buns in the home.

Unfortunately, she did not recognize Rebecca at all and just vaguely hinted she may have seen me somewhere. She held on to her small cuddly dog, drifting away somewhere into the unknown. Although Rebecca knows she is safe, which is the main factor, along with seemingly content, constant company if she wants or wishes. Observing Becky wide-eyed, lost within herself, was tugging emotionally inside Rebecca, as this was her life-long, Aunt Becky.

I visited Becky on a regular rota, taking her for a hurl around Strathblane while the tartan top twenty booms the speakers in my old jalopy. She still sings away in-between sucking fruit drops, and makes the occasional quip about Harry Lauder being a dirty wee man, as he sings, ‘Roaming in the gloaming’…Sniffs at ‘’My Ain Folk’…. but the finally is…belting out ‘Flower of Scotland’.

Before Becky went into the home, we regularly drove around to spot ‘lamb chops for tea’ and to drive around at the foot of the Kilpatrick hills, singing and enjoying the views….I am not sure who enjoyed the hurls more…and I am of the same mind now
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Jim 9

Jim stepped down from the train on to a make shift platform, very slippery from constant boots trudging and tramping forward into the dark unknown. It was cold and bitter, eerie sound of silence, and scary. The noise in a open country field sounds industrious, or a main station, but oddly a scarcity of people about… in fact, when Jim thought he had not seen a person at all. There were dark figure forms darting back and forth through the shadowy mist from god knows where, as if feart to make their minds up as to which direction to take. “A no mans land” thought Jim, in hope to come across a friendly face or a hand of welcome, though at that dreary moment… he could not think from where.

He heard not a word from any human being as he slowly walked further away from the disappearing locomotive, yet there was bitter biting in the air, nothing to do with the season of the year. Jim’s guess it was winter though nothing around him gave any indications as all around was muddy grey, as if there had been colossal physical activity, only recently, come to abrupt halt and all partakers had vanished for some reason or other, just shadows and workings of the dark.

He trudged through mire until tinkle of hubbub was not far away, roughly to the left of him. Then to the right, a sight of flickering light caught his eye, then another and another. Now, aware of benevolent force present as human beings started to appear, darting, moving before the open flames, small though they were.

Curious, yet highly cautious, Jim instinctively learnt to be so, he stepped closer so close to hand as the lights now were ablaze into a clear vision which amazed him. A large group of men, so strikingly differently dress, and fortitude were huddled closely together, chattering like geese though every now and again, in grand uniformity, moaning as one. Here; in the mist of country darkness, men were playing the local darby game of football, as all around crowds were observing. Right around the oblong home-made pitch, Jim could see men, arm in arm, hugging shoulders, heads fully immersed into the sacred game.

In some quarters in the square, bodies of instantaneous laughter, piercing the atmosphere with some success though limited. No one appeared to be concerned to the actual score but intent of just playing the game. Boos and heckling crossed with comments of the ref’s eyesight were strained but in obvious warm humour as all shook hands with all regardless of what side they supported or any indication of the actual scoring.

Around the make shift playing field people were talking while hot and spirited drinks were passed around with a certain assurance this was the right thing to do. Fires burning with gusto, ging much wanted warmth and directions towards St. Nikolaus custom, a hint of carol singing waft the cold air.

Smiling faces gesturing an obvious mood of friendship, settled any worried heart as cards and greetings and signatures collected with addresses and comforting photographs of family’s unknown, though still gazed on fondly. Small presents past from body to body, cigarettes were drawn by all lips as they also were circulated for anyone as good cheer was the order of the day. Here, it dawned on Jim; it certainly was Christmas day to end all Xmas celebrations. Christian symbols and the old German God “Wotan”, riding the wild skies with his retinue, emerged out of the clouds of uncertainty

As an illusion created out of nothing, or dire need for some sense of sanity, as without any warning, everyone made their way to opposite sides, retreated into trenches of man made hell. Where once was a playing field returned to its original formation, no man’s land, a killing field. Warm sincere words replaced with weapons of demise eternal of the Western front of Ypres?

Just then; Jim heard the call from the sergeant major; ““Right you horrible little bastards….no more fraternization…or you will be shot”
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The Cat

“The cat sat on the mat”, is a much-cherished children book, a starting point to teach our very young children simple language skills, though…it could be claimed, this seemingly plain line of words, are indeed extremely deep, near complex to extremes.

A credible enlightenment could be how a cartoon caption of the Cat, with large wide eyes, to underline at a glance, the whole story… along with the printed word. Now this could suggest, with such wide eyes the cat was a suffering paranoid schizophrenic, sitting on a mat, or an imaginary mat, looking bewildered…not grasping what is real…but more important…what is not…. or more solemnly studiously measured by quantum mechanics…perhaps Schrodinger’s cat paradox

These oversized eyes suggest the cat’s mind is gawking right into the abyss of the past, as an unwilling kitten cruelly kicked off the mat. Yet…with those Vertical-slit pupils of the Cat, may alert how the poor wee moggy has ‘Duel Personality’ which may suggest, if there are two mental cats, begs the question…. which cat is sat on the mat…? which mat is the feline sitting on?

One of the sides of duel personality cat, this would present a possibility of two mats, so which one would the tabby sit on? Would this then present the argument the schizophrenic moggy could, or would believe, the other cat is off his mat because there is only one imaginary mat? If the pussy is allergic to the fibers of the mat, which one would it be? And who would scratch or more to the point; who would benefit from such an act?

Therefore, if the other cat, separate from the imaginary cat, would think it is a real mat, believing the schizophrenic puss is being selfish, even if he only imagines this to be the case. For there could only be one mat though, either illusion or real. However, both cats have never read ‘Schrödinger's cat’, quantum theory of superposition,

Nevertheless, if tragically the cat suffers ‘Multiple personality disorder’; D.I.D, a new problem therefore arises. The origin is severe instant trauma…perhaps caused by being unwillingly kicked off a mat. However, with so many personalities causing mayhem…there would be no room on the mat

Sits a sulky sullen cat,
Raising her brows,
Like gathering a storm…
Nursing her wrath,
Keeping it warm
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Jim stepped down from the train

Jim stepped down from the train, which had come to a shuddering unceremoniously halt, in the mountainous backwoods, deep in a southern state. There was a station of sorts, but basic would have been an improvement. The smell of old timber, left to its own to deterioration through long humid summers as decades of years marched on. How old this broken-down railway station, could be quickly determined as obvious old faded placards, pinned against the rotting wood, edifying rules of racial segregation, suggesting macabre ghost hauntings from the past…. still drifting into people’s minds around here.

Having only been there for several minutes, Jim, already feeling the effects of uncomfortable steamy abnormal atmosphere, a sticky clinging shirt, moisture running down his brow for the simplest of excuse or movement. He decided to shade in a hut furthest part of the deserted platform, to have a cool cigarette. Entering the doorway of a ramshackle lean-to, he struck a match which instantly illuminated the drab inside, surprisingly exposing a huddled scruffy body, attempting to hid where there was no place to hid.

Through the gloom, a quivering voice came from the trembling body asking if he could have a smoke. Jim obliged before asking was he all right. After taking an immense drag from the cigarette, then another consoling whiff, the tramp like figure replied slowly; “I’m working for the Man up there…down here…he’s everywhere, sees everything, helps you to live, helps you to eat…chooses when you die…. this is as far as I can go…god help me!” At first, Jim reckoned he was a pious guy, famed in such locations, following the ways of what is referred to as ‘The Good Book’ but something about the way the man stood submissively alarmed.

Abruptly for me, an unfamiliar stooshie outside, forewarned the dishevelled stranger to now show dread. The noisy kerfuffle was instantly followed by umpteen sirens from police or army vehicles obviously surrounding the station. Moreover, included in this havoc stramash, howling dogs from all directions. Instantly, the stranger just sat down on an old bench, as if to surrender to a fate worse than death. He looked at Jim, thank him for his smoke, seeing Jim’s inquisitiveness, in a soft voice, explained his dilemma.

‘I am, have been for 26 years, in a road working chain gang, hired out to bidders for slavery work 6 days a week…only Sunday is the day of rest. My original sentence…seven years, but somehow, either disrespectable to the Man, or broke some precious rule when being reassessed…by the Man;…he is the everlasting hereafter’.

Jim keeked out, seeing an army of police, aids with rifles, car lights flashing, dogs and keepers…all for one pathetic prisoner. He could not help but to have pity for this wrecked human being, for no matter what he had done…If true was no way to treat anyone. He spoke softly, ‘I thought chain gangs were of the past, if not; where are your chains?’

The soon to be captive just sighed, ‘It’s a billion dollar plus commercial industry, linked to senators and the like… Chain gangs were reintroduced in Mississippi in 1995, except this time, they were chainless, not for humanitarian reasons, production is more efficiently, if jailbirds are not chained together,”…the Man is the Man
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Chapter 4 The Village

Welcome…yes welcome to the village of “Dreimire”, almost the whole community like nothing better than keeping fit. Using various methods by attending MacHo oriental body building, with twist and turns which enable you to view the sporran in many different angles.

Outside physical pedal power exercise Ms Pedro MacAroni (her Great; Great Grandfather; Twice removed… was a Caribbean horse dealer who lost his way in the retreat of the Spanish Armada) is an avid keep fit lady biking on one of the four modern MacAdam thoroughfares, surrounding the village , who joined the local cyclist club. Her bicycle, a original gift from Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who believed he never had it so good, or us for that matter.

She was the only lady in an all-male troublesome MacHiavellian clan, having the time of her life cycling up and down the glen. Once, forced to stop as her tubes were flat on the ground. Fellow cranky scrambler stopped, asking if he could pump her off the ground. She refused help, as he kept interfering with her handle bars…. or fussy how he whipped out his spanner (for his nuts; he explained). She felt very lucky as she was only punctured twice, in the first summer. Once while almost dark, she could not light her lamp because her oil was so damp, she could do with a new wick in her lamp.

Traditional Scottish games has always been a canny pastime for training to be fit, throw the hammer and of course, tossing the caber. Here in Dreimire, we are spoilt for choice of tossers, however we only have one coach. He was trying hard to give instructions to A Kanny MacAroni, (to be christened, ‘Kenny’ but the minister with a turned peculiar lisp) who could not get a grip on preforming professionally, as instructed. This angered the coach and his braw sporran, in a fit of pique, the tutor, tells the boy…. Practice tossing yourself.

We are a cosmopolitan village, in Dreimire, realizing the community have needs, therefore we splashed out on a swimming bath. Not a bath that swims (my wee joke) but a tub to swim in, though not quite Olympic standards, you ken. We would urge it to be kept quiet as those European people are rather strict in these matters, but the pool is a sheep’s dip, used by all the farms around Dreimire. Now, there is no need to worry about naughty little infractions, as we clean it vigorously before use….as the sheep are very fussy and faddish where they dip. Put a couple of pieces of coloured Perspex around the bath, acting both as a wind buff and an illusion of a South Seas swimming area. Our residents don’t travel all that much.

Nothing we like better in Dreimire is music. Any excuse, we will take out our Jewish harp, from the hiding place…of course, we have had to hide our music since 45. But to hell with authority all the way from Auld Reekie… out with the pipes and anything with a note play the pipes when the MacRon, French plumber, is not looking (another of my wee jokes)

None better than MacPea on the fiddle, he could fiddle for Scotland, his relations would willingly testify. You may be thinking, MacPea should have been ‘MacPhee’ the minister with a lisp struck again; however, you would be wrong. MacPea is his alias and here is the reason

MacPhee tells the tale of his ancestors, residing in shielings of Dreimire. Long ago, his great grandfather and two men enjoying a wee dram, talking how it would be if they all had women to cook and clean for them. Suddenly a loud knock on the door and when open, three beautiful women asked if they could come in for shelter.

After a few more drams, the two men into the back room, with two of the ladies, closed the door, leaving Mac Phee’s forefather with the most gorgeous woman in the main room. To old Mac Phee’s horror he witnessed the changeling into a sorceress, then more sorcery as blood was running out of the bedroom the other men had entered just shortly before. Turning to his women, now an ‘Witchwife’ with extended beak, he would have to go outside to relieve him as it was impolite to do so, in front of a lady. This Scottish version of Medusa, spinning Blackmagic, did not wish him out of sight, but agreed to hold his long coat through the closed door.

Once away outside, MacPhee, stuck his knife through his coat, pinning it to the wall and run as fast as his legs would carry him, as if his very life depended on it, as it truly did. With him was his working collie who never took to the whistle or work. The old hag waited a while before opening the door. Seeing what happened, she started to chase after him. MacPhee called on the collie; ‘If you do not work this night, for me, then you’ll never work no more’. The dog chased after the beaked hag, allowing MacPhee to run, unmolested, to Dreimire and his father’s home. He left three pails of milk outside for the dog when he returned.

Opening the door in the morning, MacPhee discovered the dog dead on the doorstep with not one hair on his poor limp body. The other two men in the shieling had been murdered. It was never used again, and to this day, no cattle or sheep will graze near there.

Fiddler MacPhee changed his name to MacPea, on the suggestion of the vicar, because the fiddler will pish himself…. Every time he tells the story.
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My Chronicles 16/01/2018

I was fortunate to be ask, by Director, Jim Whitson, to return and attend a small, very astute development in Dailly Ayrshire, accomplished from a rundown eyesore pub, to a super weatherproof four in the block, in 9 months. Magic performance by staff, committee and a host of workers from various firms, with a hint of tenacity to complete in allotted time.

Smashing drive down, even if the weather was rough, listening to Rod Stewart while passing a grand part of Scotland, cruising winding roads leading thru picturesque countryside, into the smallish village of Dailly. Akin to all local communities, in the rural areas, the overall services is wanting, and work is spars to say he least, but does not dampen there enthusiasm of vigour. Friendly people with friendly views, spoilt for choice with a bus every hour, either to Girvan or Ayr.


I enjoyed the whole brief affair, a grand place to aimlessly saunter around, plus the return journey with the Rolling Stones blaring in my private moving bubble. One pure dead brilliant fleeting moment, the way the sun, as a thunderbolt of perfect light, miraculously bursting the heavens into a dream moment of creation, sensational once in a lifetime picture

I did contemplate stopping to visit the ever-loveable china Jim Hendry, in Ayr, who always puts me at ease enjoying the company. Barging in anywhere unannounced can be a bit disturbing for the surprised, so I just motored on. However, this meant staying the night, in an hotel after a couple of refreshments, making sure being tip-top sober for the drive home the next day. Judging by this morning’s weather, I missed the opportunity to drive in a winter wonderland, which my boyish mind wishes he could have done so, but if wishes were horses…we would all need troughs.

Arrangements with her residential home, had been made for me to take Aunt Becky out for a hurl this afternoon, however, sadly… I think it would be prudent to cancel. Although I believe Becky would relish such an outing around our Kilpatrick Hills there is risk of either running into unseen problems with scenery roads or something unexpectedly turning up, preventing us completing the journey.

‘She who must be obeyed’ is well on the mend though the exercise the Physiotherapist has given, are slightly strenuous causing aches and pains where they did not exist before. Last night we had a new mattress delivered by one single driver. How he managed, by himself balanced the huge paillasse, not only to bring it into the home, but upstairs with the ease of a panther…bloody marvellous…. even took the old one outside around the fence.

What we failed to realize when we purchased the bed item, but quickly discovered when retiring for the night, the difference of height the new one was, compared to the old one…. we need a elevator to climb on board…. but once manged, it is very comfortable
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LONELY;

If the doorbell goes again, I will make no bloody effort to answer it by pretending I am not in. I know it’s just kids playing ‘ring-bang-squish’, which we did when we were young. We had other devilment in the posh tenements, tying pieces of string around the handles of the single end doors at the bottom of the wally closes, then keeking from afar, amused as the occupants shouting abuse and swear words. Archie and I would have liked kids of our own, tried hard enough, but it was just not to be, and now he has gone, it’s not possible to do anything about it now.


There has not been one living soul stepped over this threshold for quite a long time. The doctor came around some two years back, when that awful ‘Asian flu’ struck terror in the neighbourhood, but I still had to rise out of my sick bed to collect my prescription. Anyway he was not my real doctor, for apparently Dr Stein, dour man but good, has gone to the big hospital in the sky, but when, I do not know, I had not been to the surgery for quite a long while. The very young squirt was a stand-in locum, whatever that means, but he did ask some questions and had horrible cold hands if I remember.

There was the nauseating wee con man, would not take no for a answer, trying to sell double glazing, putting his foot forcibly in the door, ready to march… but Patch, wonderful faithful Patch showed him the door by showing his teeth. Patch was Archie’s dog, but I spoiled Patch by slipping a wee treat his way when no one was looking. So, when Archie, my husband past away, Patch and I became a couple. Patch crossed over to sleep forever, his body is buried out in the back green where I pat the grass, wishing him goodnight… every night. It is a terrible confession however I miss Patch more than Archie. If you ever met Archie, you would probably understand why. He could find fault with an angel …wonder if he met any…doubt it…miserable old git

We were not all that close in later years and feelings were seldom shown other than when he lost his temper over something trivial or blamed me, which he did quite frequently, yet you get used to someone’s ways, don’t you? I think I sort of miss him.

I do wish those kids would stop ringing the bell…EastEnders is coming on… it is not the same with the sound down

Goodnight Patch-
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The Gift

Over the years I have had quite a variety of surprising gifts from our children, but one particular award, like an unfitted crossword, or jigsaw puzzle not yet attempted to assemble , but in my den, proudly displayed, only taken down on special occasions when a tidy-up was ether due or wished…now I wish I had wishes

The box is not in as good condition as first bought, however the contents are prime and intact. Under these circumstances this package was often cautiously opened, just so I could peek into the great complete complicated designs, wrapped in clear polyethene, a new when bought by the purchaser. This simple gift, demonstrates my sentimental valuables, not in the monetary sense, but possessing many secret foibles and emotion. I wish that wishes could come true, the chance of seeing Toni again, but once again…. disappears where all failed hopes go.

Last night, taking this gift down, brings to my attention, to the plain fact that this memento, is some 25 years old. each time it pleases me, while frightening me at the same time, fearful of my ability to assemble the model to a satisfactory completion, due my warped sense of fate.

Vigilantly looking at all the components within, wary not to break the plastic covering which seals it from age or dust. Gentle placed back into the box as thoughts, sprung from mind of Robert Burns; quotes;………… ‘A man’s a man for ‘a’ that; ‘is there for honest poverty’ ; and for an unknown reason, my favourite ; ‘O Thou! Whatever title suits thee- Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie.

One last glance, at my precious Air fix kit of a Porsche 935 Turbo Sports Supreme Car, before returning it to its place of exhibition. The memory of the giving, and the giver, our daughter Toni, who said to me when presenting her gift, with a cheeky grin, ‘Can’t afford the real thing dad…. But one day, yes one day’
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True love

Young love through any form, is such a strange yearning and emotional state, forming wide eyed pulsating desires of mysterious limits, yet throbbing uncontrollably in pits of agony and self-doubt. Kissing explodes such passion each time meeting, then twisted inners of agonizing hunger pangs of doubt while apart. We boast as young lovers we want to share it, tell the whole wide world, yet jealously keep it secretly close to both bosoms, cutting off anyone who would dare take a step closer. The hope proclaimed to all who will listen, is it will last if creation survives in the same wonderful magical theme everywhere, and there and then some.

The merest touch, whither accidentally or on purpose, sends pulsations into convulsion of ecstasy, beyond any imagination, then falls into bitter sweet agony of uncertainty, exposing loneliness, never felt before, due entirely to the absence of your lover…for even a moment or two. for a single day which seems like time without end, craving for the need being greater as if a dreaded drug. A sigh will bring you running, a glare darkens the heart, hurt way above any suffering gone before.

If it is the love for your children which always bringing comfort at all stages yet fearful they take a departing path away from the bonds of the family. Children are a lucky dip whether cosiness or despairing for you may not like them, but you love unconditionally regardless. At the drop of a hat, your breast burst with pride, for all and sundry to receive the message. A small glance from your child will banish all misgivings

An unforeseen loss is the death of a child, and a child they are, no matter what age, or accomplish or position in society they achieve. This is the worse hurt almost unmentionable endurance. There is a portrait in the head kept with a unknown passion which never changes, giving you a sad comfort you beg will go away. Guilt prevents anything interfering with the picture.

My wife and I have been so lucky even though we have experienced all three loves
Would we go through all the tantalizing agony again …. even if forewarned…you can bet your boots we would.
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George (The Polar bear)

George was a sucker for fridges, he would wallow away a few hours, dreaming of home in the sandy beaches of the Sahara Desert. he thought he did have a den there, owing to the clues, knowing he did not come from the Gobi Desert, for that would just be plain ridiculous. Who ever heard of a polar bear from the Gobi desert? You would have to be right planker, or plain daft, or a bit rough to be contemplating such an idea… and anyway… the number 41 bus doesn’t stop there.

George believed it was only common sense, he truly came from Sahara Desert, as his dad smoked those types of cigarettes, long before it came popular knowledge they were bad for you, but more important these snouts gave bears a horrible smell. George was ignorant of his qualifications or origin, but the basic fact was, he took the hump (just like a camel ‘Dromedary’) or two (Bactrian) when things were not going his way.

Both bear and camel come from around the same Palaeogene era, adding to this, as if to qualify its authenticity, George’s Aunt used to drink the dark Camel Coffee, bought from a shop in Dubai by some troops from the Royal Fusiliers. George does not talk much about his aunt, because of her wobbly morals. The coffee was a bribe, so she would take the soldiers, not up to the front but to local brothels which did not sell hot broth soup but were ill-reputed bawdyhouses.

Confronted by a rather odd polar bear, at your front door, tends to leave you speechless or chattering out something trivial. The latter was my response, asking the bear, who I now I know as George, why he came to use the number 41 bus to my home. He retorted with an imitation rumble and a wink in his eye (well I conclude it was a wink) ‘The number 12 bus does not pass your door and neither does the subway come to think of it?’ There was something about his ability to speak I could not put my finger on.

Arriving at 12 Calvay Place, he immediately made himself at home. We did discover he was encourage by the knowledge of a group of authentic synthetic yellow ducks residing within and growing in numbers. He made a beeline for the fridge… to slip into something cool. From then on, when the idea took him, he settled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

George always avoided treading on the butter …for butter was the substance of life. Not water or air but glorious sacred butter. Not one breath was breathed on, or hair was ever left on butter in the fridge George had visited or honoured with his presence. How or why he came from Sahara he did not ken, he just knew.
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The printed word

Now is the age of the internet, the amazing antics of the mobile phones, with apps, which can, at the touch of a screen, access to the whole world, but instantly, isolate the person… even in crowded room. ‘Google’ has become the fount of knowledge, debatably? But, what a marvellous wonder for the modern world it is. When I was a youngster, Books were the path to knowledge, thought by onlookers as isolators from the so called real world, ‘got his nose in a book again, ignorant what is happening around him!’.

Well before my teens, I was lucky to be able to read quite a lot, which varied from a restricted comic per week, and boy’s adventure books such as Kidnapped, Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and Gulliver’s Travels. Wow, turning each page as time passed by unaided, then listening to ‘Dane Dare, pilot of the future,’ Broadcasted from Luxembourg, on John’s huge crystal set, with earphone… as I dreamt having the simple power to say, ‘yes or no’ to fate…

The idea of books is to challenge the mind to think, the reader finds their own passage through the sea of words, written for pleasure, delight, information, and query. Reading Gulliver’s Travels with a boy’s ingenuous mind, relishing deeply the wonder of the faraway places, brought to life by writer Jonathan Swift, as an journey. Fascinated by the possibility of the happenings laid before me, I could not help but to be intrigued and occupied by it all the raw exploits, and I swam in it. The Three musketeers being another fabulous yarn, mainly for young boys to gobble up. The Musketeers as a bond of pure friendship…and Gulliver going where no man had gone before.

In my later teens, when we believed we were doing everything for the first time ever, as revolutionaries, against the humdrum society, searching the libraries for books with serious theories of existence and the big question… why? There appeared to be many theories why we are here on precious earth, one being picked out as very special in the whole plan of things…the opposite end, the planet was a floating germ, in the massive universe, or an experiment and we are an accident. Why, what, and how…nobody knows…. but it was fun speculating


Now, having journeyed through Gulliver’s Travels, and all the other treasured boy’s books, at various stages of my life, springs new surprises, diverse ways of looking at a turn of phrase, to start these wee gray cells moving again. Jonathan Swift, ridiculing with parody, melodramatically revealing and criticizes the utter exploitation, by the ruling classes, towards the common people. It took some moons to discover the satire behind the words, giving me a fascinating insight into another level of its true meaning. Even now, I am not too sure if I caught it all.

Now to me, it displayed the obvious, of mans greed and willingness, at the drop of a hat, to battle over the most trivial things, as the example of egg tops dispatch in the first chapter of the Lilliputian kingdom.

We believe we are now more civilized than any time before, but …it seems in human nature…it’s what we are willing to tolerate… is fickle… and dangerously furtive
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peter.howden
Sorry Angel....missed your response...thank you
peter.howden
Shades;

Throughout the dead of night, the wind mystically maliciously disturbed and misdirected chilly elements habituating within the darkness, meandering in and out the deserted streets and alleyways…then collectively resting, for unscheduled moments, in secretive foreboding places, mysterious to the sleeping human race…then vanish, swiftly and boundlessly, when daylight makes yawning moves.

Within the house in question, up some grubby unstable stairs, to the top room facing the street, lay restlessly a tired old man endeavouring to sleep, anxious about the bare fact he was now all-alone in the world. His mate, his long and caring comrade had lost the struggle for life, the only living breathing soul who unreservedly cared for him, showing love and affection without favour.

They had been together for some 12 years before his dog, ‘Sammy’ demised without warning…. just the day before. The old man clutched tightly his fading photograph of him, with a mixture of pride and anxiety, while uncontrollably tears of longing dribble down his rough cheeks.

The dishevelled room escaped total darkness, except captured in forgotten corners, because of the remarkably bright streetlight beaming brightly straight across the street, directly into the room, through the window covered with tread bearing curtains. The old man lay resting on the bed, opposite the unadorned wall, heaped in uncertainness and dread what the future would now bring, Unruly drafts of harsh squalls, caused by ill- lifted sash decomposing timbered windows, flapped those drapes back and forth… instigating shades, and structures… real as real as shadows could be.

Outside, adjacent to the window…. the deep-rooted crippled tree, once struck by lightning, has haywire branches swaying against the unforeseen gust, adds to some sort of malevolent carnival of black magical spectral pictures … momentary on the manky wall. Rattling decaying window frames echoes the drama. The forlorn moments slowly past by as the man’s nerves come near a crushing breakdown.

The wall now held an existence of its own, as he timorously keeked from underneath a dank cover, moistness due to uncontrollably perspiration from his aching body underneath, triggered by vagueness trepidation of impending doom and decay. The old man held onto the image of his faithful hound, struggling keeping his sanity, but no matter how hard he tried to keep this single thought… it was a losing battle.

Without warning, an unknown flurry erupted just outside a cracked pane, almost shook the window out of its fatigued frame, causing such a hullaballoo with everything it came into contact…the man froze with utter terror. At the very same moment, an uninvited noise bellowed around the room, while outside the dwelling, the impression the worn-out hoary tree lifting clear from the rotten roots. The deceased feeble tree, toing and froing, while the maukit wall, unexpectedly presented a frightening image ,looking of a dog’s gigantic jaw …filled with massive sharp teeth, as if it was ready to jump out of the wall and attack.

No one went near the old man’s abode until a worried community helper called for assistance from the police, who burst in the flimsy painted front door. Up on the landing, the reeking front room was in a muddle, while on the empty bed, other than one manky cover, and a crumpled photo of a dog…reputed to be the old man’s pet.

It was said…a few neighbours heard a cry of agenizing pain approaching from the room, during the terrible night of the storm… but where was the old man who once lived there…no one knew…and the truth…no one cared.

It is always possible to live another day…well almost;
-=-=-=-=-
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peter.howden

My Chronicles 02/02/2018

Aunt Becky is well content each time I visit the home, to take her for a hurl with the tartan top twenty blazing away. She has this constant gaze of pleasant wonderment about her, and a willingness to chat to anyone within reach. The staff have informed us she has picked up in her eating and more important drinking liquids

‘She who must be obeyed’ has regained her delightful smile as each day I can see an improvement which recently was beyond the ken. We are both growing old, wishing to gain the best we can that the ability of life will allow …pure dead brilliant

For me personally It has been, and still is a curious humdinger Dodgem-car, Walzers, Helter-skelter, Dundee swing expedition so far, with the suspended unknown ending somewhere around the corner. Although it has been a remarkable time over the past 26 odd years, I had a growing desired to halt all the social activities, to follow personal wishes, with family and close friends, a flexible diary to choice from, and find new avenues to entertain life.

This plan has had to be put on the back burner, as the director, a very good man, of my main housing Association, has decided to take early retirement, which means all hands to the deck, follow protocol and advice, consultations, meeting with the Scottish regulatory and their arduous requirements, selecting candidates, intense interviews, intense selection and installing a new director. All this takes time…I have given my word to complete the task

Doing a wee exercise each morning, noon, and night, not to look like the impossible Mr Universe, but to ease the painful joints which ache when at one time gave me a great deal of pleasure. There are definite signs this slight physical regime is working, to allow further preparations to have the best out of this summer I can…and perhaps a last swan around in France.
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peter.howden
Desperate 71….
In the coated dimness

It’s dark, darker than usual, so dark, the bleakness casts a shadow filled with hollowness. A faint flicker of light beacon from the cooker’s clock, feebly attempts to sneak in past the kitchenette gloom, but beaten back by sheer blackness of the room’s abyss. There always lingered a haunting threat behind the doors of this tiny flat, however, at this precise moment, hiding from daylight, disguises something extra alluringly horror.

Some sort of toxic wave creeps within the peeling wallpaper, whereas unheeded murmurs continuously recur, time and again, from unknown origin, causing murkier vibrations. Four feeble walls rejecting echoes of the smitten atmosphere of a recent hideous occurrence, which bounced uncontrollably across the forbidden floor, avoiding the centre area like a plague

There was no mistaking, just seconds ago, he lazily woke up between soiled sheets. The dampness, which the council say was condensation, seems to add to the itchy touchy evil in this house’s stale aroma … adding to this miserable place

What kind of person would linger in such a manky hole, let alone sleep within such eeriness. It would take a special kind of depraved unemotional being to remain there, an individual lacking a conscious, even when his actions imitate a human. Now; just a self-pitying petrified bewildered soul, whose physique is frozen to the bed, by invisible threads of fear, no wishful heaven but a bloody tormenting hell, threatening to devour his very thoughts… if not… his all.

With a final nervous determination, he tried to look into the middle of the room, knowing evil lurked within as graveness returns. His mind was now numb. Then suddenly…without any warning… the last piece of the repulsive simulated jigsaw, fell into place, explodes within his pounding head.

Spread out unnaturally, in the core of the room…drowning in a pool of congealed blood…a motionless body, once a human being, but now a grotesque form of an unidentified victim, whose head had been caved in beyond recognition…a blood-stained hammer lay close by. This was no illusion, but reality which he could not remember… with one unanswered question…going over repeatedly…Did he do it?
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peter.howden
The Happening…which has happened before;

It leaks now and then, but more now than ever then, you become a picky pedantic, or grumpier, or both. Waking up as you usually do of a morning …yet, from the start, something isn’t quite right. You cannot put your finger on it but, almost the moment you come to your awaken senses, opening your eyes ever so slightly ……it’s crystal clear…its going to be… one of them days.

One teeny weeny movement in the bed, aged aches appear out of the blue, as darts of discomfort suddenly let you know of their aggressive existence. This swiftly follows the realization of a pounding headache, to beat all headaches in the bleary head, presuming caused by broken and interrupting sleep, whilst the bed clothes are twisted round…and the beloved stole the rest of the duvet. Not a wink did you get. The mood is solemn.

Out of the safety of the now possession of the eiderdown, your big toe bashes against the stump at the bottom of the bed, screams of profanity, followed with very bad language, directed to the offending stub closest to the bed. You are sorely tempted to kick the wrongdoer stump, but on reflection, you remember it will only cause you more pain

Drawing back the curtains you aren’t surprised Its bloody raining again knowledge you had almost before wakening…this would be a biblical day, for this must be the fortieth day it’s been plummeting down. Oh divinity, give us a break, no time to build a boat never mind collecting all those bloody animals. Now keech hits the fan, just as you trip over some slippers. What hellish fool left those big flappers there but after a squint, they appear to be your old flip-flops, so someone must have moved them

Drowsily making your way to the bathroom, the tattered old dressing gown will not allow your arm in, and again you trip over the belt dangling down .It is all your own fault but you do not see it that way, for your mental coordination is slightly tilted against your physical response. Who never mopped up that whatever it is you stood on …hope it isn’t night-soil…. its sticky though! The bloody soft toilet roll is on backwards again…you can’t find the beginning…now look what it’s made me do…running out uncontrollably, piling up on the wet bit you stood on… hope it’s not poo.

The tiles on the floor are extra cold, oh Jehovah… The shower knobs have been tampered with, bet it was done deliberately. You imitate the stress of’ ‘Goldilocks and the three bears;’ because you know definitely, someone has been using your toothbrush, and for illegal doings. The day is ruined, and it has not begun

You would go back to bed but bet its stone cold now. Deciding against the odds, you just do that, even if the bed is cold, however on entering the bedroom, you discover to your horror, the unpaid maid has stripped the bed for wash-day…####*?
peter.howden
The Journey;

The Beginning;


The period was the worse of times, certainly not the best of times, as time itself evaporated into oblivion. A curse with no grip on reason, or want, spellbound in a vacuum of darkest duration. Tales of the supernatural abundant in the bewildered pockets of communities, connected only by wafer trodden trails. All this…and more since the balance of existence was lost, seemingly forever


A small rugged path thickly covered by bushes, thorns, large overhanging branch trees, only a stone throws away from the main walkway leading away from the dingy alehouse. This was where two footpadder swiines waited to attack marked quarry. These scum-bags named Argo and Brent, who had ‘BC’ (bad Character) branded on his right hand, while Argo’s cheek crudely branded ‘T&F’(Thief, fraymeker) both undoubtedly thieves, however, unknown to the whole world, also were barbaric murderers. They covered their tell-tale signs, while in company good or bad, with filthy tacky cloth rapped around their scrawny faces pretending to be suffering from some pox or ailment.

These gentlemen had been in the local tavern when an innocent traveller and his daughter entered the drinking hovel. The trekker was a domestic appliance supplier, along with his attractive offspring, found themselves forced to take shelter in such an obvious shady establishment. Being mindful under uncertain circumstances, the unnamed traveller took a few coins out of his concealed holdings before opening the door of such a grimy low life place.

Keeping himself between his daughter and the grubby landlord, he requested some bread and ale. What did undoubtedly seal their untimely fate, was the coins to pay were shinny and new. So much so, they caught the eyes of such greedy speculators in human misery. The landlord offered rooms for the night because, although the storm was all but over, it was late, very late for travelling in these parts. The traveller made it perfectly clear, his intentions was to rest a short while, before he and his girl would, by shank's pony, make way to the next fair village along the high walk. No one saw two corrupt vagabonds leave.

They lay in deadly ambush, their personal stench was apparent, but down wind of their victims. Armed with heavy pieces of wood, they pounced down the two hapless souls before they knew what was happening. The first rain of blows smashed the male’s brain, others sent the youngster into unconsciousness. Both animals ravished her in unapproachable lust. They proceeded deliberately battering both faces into pulp, so identifying would be practically impossible, then buried the lifeless bodies in the thicket, allowing nature to do the rest of their bidding. They grudgingly share the tainted booty, grunting at the displeasure in doing so.

Back in the hovel, these were the same beasts now waiting for the new target. An old man they thought……. a very old feeble man.

The tarnished door to the shaby hostile, slowly creaked open. In the briefest of moments, an ageing squire stood, blocking the light from the rafter’s candles. In one hand, holding a bundle, with the other, he held a staff, to aid in his footsteps. Before taking another step nearer the counter, the elderly man clung tight to his bosom his bundle, seemingly unaware two pair of foreign beady squinty eyes, observing his every move and intention. A tot of fresh water, and a small piece of bread, was all the tired voice asked the devious landlord. The sound of coins, dropping on the uneven counter, was all the two felons dared to hear.

The shifty host inquired about sleeping arrangements, to tempt the elder in., but the old frame refused, insisting in carrying on to the next village. No one saw the two dishonest men leave or if they did, took no heart in it…to warn the elder voyager.

Crouched into the place of surprise attack, with glaikit expressions around their manky gub’s, of great expectations of the darker side. By this time, they were bowfin from all kinds of smells, but their own natural swirl hid this from them.

The old man stepped away from the dirty tavern…walking straight towards those evil of men
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peter.howden
The Journey....Rough Justice

No matter how sharp-eyed those two knaves thought they had been while in the grubby inn, they had failed to notice something about this frail old man. Medium built, dressed in the ordinary style of the day, though a bit older fashioned on a second look, tidy in his appearance, except for the very long hair, certainly not a common mode. He possessed even a longer beard than his head hair, though not by much but clean, defiantly clean. The traveller’s hair was pure white.

But, if these two ruffians had had a bit of savvy, they may have caught something about the deep eyes, dark unyielding, most as if they were doing nothing, however, Aristotle reputed wisdom said, ‘Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime’… perhaps not quite right about this, as some people are just born bad and evil. The old man’s eyes were deep dark pools gazing around his surroundings, measuring everything in relation to everything else.

There was tranquillity about the aged man, his planned attackers seemed to have missed, or not bother about, but they should have. Their hearts were filled with murky thoughts, deeds with no emotions, or conscious regrets, as they lay in wait for the right moment. There was no doubt about it…they had wickedness on their minds.

The clear footsteps came all the nearer the hastily organized terror. All at once these duel piranhas jumped out from their hiding; shouting, cursing as loud as possible, stirring themselves courage to beat the breath out of their chosen victim.

The third aged man stood there, in the middle of the make shift path, laying his bundle down, the rose to his full frame, facing the assailants rushing ever so closer. Argo darted away from his direction, coming up behind, while Brent, still screaming profanities headed straight for him. Brent came into contact first, being as close to breathing the quarry’s own air. no shadow could catch the old man raising his hand, then prodded his forefinger deep into his attacker’s neck. Brent stopped in his tracks, his massive body keeled over, hitting the ground like a timbered log. Not one single twitch or muscle spasm followed as he lay there stiff as a board.

Argo on seeing this but not sure what had taken place, carried on ready to crack this old geezer’s head in with a big iron bar. With no sign or intention of panic, the mature wanderer slowly turned around to meet his second opponent, as if timing was not of the essence, just moving through him. The two clashed, the voyager with his staff, seemingly tapping the aggressor’s head. Instantly, steaming red blood shot from a gash appearing straight across the thug’s skull. The wild beast stood as a statue, with no breath of life in him…. crumbled to the ground, dead as dead could be.

The old man turned around once more, not moving from his original spot. He lowered his head gazing at the first thug lying on the ground. Taking several careful steps, the traveller knelt… softly spoke;

“You will live, paralyzed apart from your mind, if that is what you can call it. All the horrors you bestowed on others will visit you every night, with such a vengeance exceeding the night previous torment”. This was said in a quiet, almost in apologetic tone by the traveller as he added firmly “You are not fit to be human.”. Muffled pitiful cries of obviously pain was ignored as he turned in the direction he had intended to go,

With his first step taken on the road in front of him, the old man’s brow wrinkled slightly, more than just facial expression, bearing the destiny of unspecified ordeals if he was to succeed in his tasks, bestowed aeons ago, when there was true sunlight. The traveller recognised fate, his spiritual quest premeditated… eternal searching the unknown…knowing danger would follow as certainly as night follows day.
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peter.howden
The Journey; 3

MALEAGANTS:

This era, this epitaph moment was yesterday’s dark ages, multiplied by the absence of recall as time, as we know it, did not exist. Earth’s fragile balance irreversibly broken down to less than just existence. No agriculture, bar the rudimentary basics scraping sustenance from leaf to leaf, where once were castles and towns, are no more, just ruins and small hamlets and glens, filled with fear of the past, ghosts, warlocks, and witches; superstition galore. Fear is the coinage rule; brute force is the law. All that had been, might have been, had been foolishly squandered.

The Traveller; whose actual name is unpronounceable in the language used in this journal, so for this intermittent chronicle; he will be called ‘Traveller’. He has a constant battle between logic and necessity of the moment. All was brought on by man wallow in dirt and disease.

The traveller changed guise for every person he come across… or was it every individual saw him through separate eyes. His wisdom and mission given, not by a divinity, but those beyond the Cosmic Kairos. His credo was to guard the ‘Whole’ existence of mankind, not for the individual, Now, and again, his seeping conscious, swayed his mind, to aid an individual. This idiosyncratic was his only Achilles' heel.

Rambling had not been strenuous to the traveller, at any rate seldom was the destination any closer to him than it had been just after he had started. Nightfall was closing in fast, he decided to camp for the night. Gathering smallish stones, just off the pathway then making a petite hallow cairn, stroking the bottom stones around in circular motion, creating calorimetric energy stored energy, carbon nanotubes ignite with their own volition. Some may see this as magic, black even, but it is just straightforward scientific chemistry…for those aware.

The night produced dreadful storm, complete with howling gales quivering stout trees, and bushes solidly planted. Ghostly aberration suddenly darting from back and forth, whilst a bell far off tolled furiously. The traveller was more than pleased of his flinty warmth which no wind, or gust could demise.

For once the traveller was not awake just before dawn, a hand slowly moved its way across his body and at a snail's pace dipped in behind him. Almost in a very fast blink; the traveller had caught the offending arm, twisted it around so much, the owner screamed for unconditional mercy. The traveller then saw some young peasant lad…the boy saw his black night of vengeance.

“You were lucky laddie, I was asleep only mildly, or I may have broken your neck” the traveller spoke with some concern. Whatever the youth heard soothed him enough to stop struggling and to answer to what he believes to be the one ‘Maleagant’. “Thank you, sir, though I meant you no harm…I was looking for a weapon, so I could rescue my parents, my sister, all kidnapped by the local thugs” All this in one breath but the lad stopped to see any reaction from his found comrade, if indeed the stranger was going to be a comrade.

Not one single blink, or movement from the traveller, as the youngster, almost shouting “Did you not hear the bells of fatality ringing last night, rung by the knob hand of death himself; Embu the butcher” The fledgling gave little time to recover his gulping breath when he added; “All kidnapped by Embu’s beasts and when we could not raise the living tax…sentence just after sunrise, announced by the bell”
The boy ceased to speak, looking towards his expected saviour. Then in one last burst of pride called “My name is Talmai; Son of Parlan; leader of our tribe”

In a moment of weakness, the traveller looked into the laddie’s eyes beholding truth and sincerity; hesitated for a brief split second, then rebuked “yes boy; I will help, but you must do exactly as I order or our own lives will be forfeited along with your kin”. He stared hard at the boy….and the boy nodded silently which spoke volumes.

The traveller then offered his water can to the youngster. Talmai took it with grateful hands, having his fill, while the traveller was deep thought, debating with himself…to argue well is the goal of logic
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peter.howden
The Journey;4;

The lay of the land

In the wind of myths, the traveller’s being were not this planet or time, but deemed from earth’s aeon protector, ‘Proxima Centaur’, Thee white dwarf star, with a celestial secret. His given mission, by the ultimate ‘spiritual whole’, defining his endless pilgrimage, redemption of the race known as human. whilst it must remain undiscovered by all others.

The traveller will appear as others wish to see him, talk in their dialects, and tongues, allowing him to complete his mission, without disturbances or query. Journeying across this wasteland before him, he looked at the young lad, with sadness in his eyes, well hidden, knowing none of the sparse population, including Tamai’s clan would not survive.

Deadly sun’s rays, were tragically distorted weather conditions, extinguishing all occurrences, for the living and the dead. The reason for all this misfortune was made by the principle players; humans, losing control decades before, abusing all the precious resources here in this simple blue sphere. The temperature in the light is unbearably hot, while night being icier than any winter could be. Scattered woodlands are mostly salt and minute solid crystals fusion of water and of urine. The balance of recovery against over usage of organic properties went drastically wrong. Within a brief and fatal time, man was almost wiped out from the face of the earth.

In the light, unimaginable heat hastened the deadliest plague ever known to man. The yellow, the black combined, scourge humans as much as the untamed curse They themselves have no knowledge of the past… having a primitive survival culture.

The horrific truth, the world could not recoup. Moreover, it was heading for total shutdown. However; right at this moment the traveller had no option but to concede to his conscious for the one against the many. The boy Talmai needed help.

The two tracking towards the source of the doomed bell, with great difficulty keeping in the right direction because of the surprising density of the woods.

Reach a clearing, some thirty odd paces away, was the ruin of an old priestly oratory. The antiquity of this one-time human sanctuary was lost forever, now used by the wild animals as a refuge. “Quite fitting” thought the traveller as he saw a small part of a wall, concealing the crumbling remains of a bell tower.

Inside prowlers were afoot.
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peter.howden
The Journey;5;

The goddess of redemption

The Traveller Instructed the boy to stay put until called, Talmai reached into his cloak, carefully giving him a small icon. “My father will know you are a friend if he sees this”. The Traveller saw it was a cross of strange metal, with numerous Pict symbols decorating its small frame.

From the thicket, with the staff of a Nemesis, the Traveller, marched for the tower, shouting out Embu’s name; challenging him. Noises could be heard clearly, coming from behind the decaying walls, as the Traveller stopped, stood steady as a rock. The Traveller was not a physically big man but was magnificence personified, thought Talmai, knowing now, beyond any doubt, his redeemer was present.

Out from a jagged dark corner, came three pitiful figures, tied together with filthy rope, abused, tortured afar from any decency, even in this gruesome era. Behind them, followed three giant gruesome men, holding war weapons, sneering at the stranger ahead. The leader pulled at the rope, bringing the captives plunging unprotected to the ground.

“What do you want, friend”? Have you the ransom, for I do not see it?”, croaked the ugly brute. In a cold slow voice, the Traveller replied; “You will find out soon enough, I am no friend of yours, or your trained baboons and I ask you politely to let the peoples go and for this I will not kill you”. They laughed, but a nervous laugh… all three of them.

The Traveller held the metal cross aloft, so the captives, prostrated on the dust, could clearly see the precious symbol. A sense of hope came from their eyes, as new life breathed into their abused bodies. The recognizable leader eyes change to anger, gathered all his strength left in him, rising to his feet.

With a sudden surge, the three brutes made a leapt towards the Traveller, who just stood there, almost still. When they got to within 10 paces, bawling like wild banshees, the Traveller sprang into action, raising his staff with the speed of lightning. With captivating force, the staff crushed into the leading assailant head, who, with an almighty uproar, fell wailing on the earth, like a massive stone. The force of levitation sent his Halberd twisting high in the air, dropping by uncontrollable gravity. The weapon’s fatal edge lodged deep into the rouge’s scull, followed by an excruciating scream… then silence


The second aggressor was taken by complete surprise, at the impossible way the agile Traveller wheeled around, twisting his wrist full circle, compelling the staff to strike straight across the robber’s eyes, blinding him and screaming in utter agony away from the fray and straight into the dark woodland, never to be seen again.

The brave Embu’s stopped dead in his tracks, then in terror, ran back to the bell tower, seizing the flax-hemp rope, to use the big bronze bell to summon aid from somewhere. Unknown was the bell-gable was crumbling under the strain of age. As the now petrified man heaved savagely to release the clanger, the gable cracked apart, freeing the heavy bell to fall and crush Embu beyond hope.

Mysteriously, the hemp rope dropped to the ground, arrange in an ancient ‘crux ansata’ The Traveller’s wrath was spent.

The Traveller called on Talmai, who had already broken from hiding, running to his family, using his knife to release his loved ones Walking slowly outside, the Traveller saw the tears of joy as the rescued family hug the dearest life from each other; though showing no emotion himself. He could not afford to do so.

They were so overjoyed, failing to see him slip away into the dark tree line, continuing the desperate journey he was destined, and demanded, to walk.
-=-=--=

Other episodes to come…. later

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peter.howden
Alternative Herding

Visiting the wonderland of the Netherlands before him, the happy wanderer saunters through the amazing countryside, observing how local shepherds and sheep, seem to have a more complicated relationship than the hardy drovers up in the stretched sloping highlands of Scotland. Netherlands history, particularly Holland, of gaining territory from the sea, and unproductive salty marshland, make arable land so precious, the shepherds are canny with an excellent economy,

Most sheep and livestock have rich green field, surrounded by canals rather than open arenas or fences. This can lead to problems, scared or disturbed, the livestock may choose to scatter from the Shepard holding a Ram’s horn crook, or Hazel Knobstick, uncertain of his intentions.in the dark.

Perhaps in despairing situation, it could possibly be followed by accidental tumbling, or tripping, or simply falling unintentionally in the water? These fields are rarely big, it would be so easy thing to do for a very scared animal, for the poor soul who has one eye concentrated on the herder. This could lead to accidental drowning.

Now, because of dire threat, the health and safety in Netherlands started a programme of ‘Life Saving’, with compulsory courses for all shepherds to complete and exercise. They include chest heart manipulation and mouth to mouth respiration. This also may lead to strained relationships. One such herder has been taken to court for gross indecency with his charge but had sympathy from the court when explaining that one thing leads to another.

Scottish shepherds are up in arms, stating clearly it is unfair… they are demanding kisses too
It has been pointed out, in the case of emergency, heart respiration it is now considered to be more practical, not to use lip service and just pump the chest to the rhythm of the Bee Gee’s song ‘Staying alive’. This does not apply to sheep… sheep do not need to blindly follow this Euro instruction… it is believed sheep have better taste and choose their own music.

Swimming lessons for sheep was ruled out right away, as being unsafe. Anyone who had tried to swim in knitted trunks, made up just after the war, for the bairns, heading for the sea side down in Rothsay after ebb-tide, could, and would testify. The water being one degree below freezing did not help.

The sad fact is, sheep just can’t use snorkels as they feel it’s pulling wool over their eyes. And the final question that is a must to answer is. Have you seen sheep with webbed trotters…or flippers?
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 23/02/2018

The good news is simply; Aunt Becky is for most times, in a carefree world of her own, the peoples in the home do their best to keep it so. The only time she has any recognition of the past is when we have our weekly hurl, in my old jalopy, around Kilpatrick Hills, with the ‘Tartan Top Twenty ‘playing, with we two, badly singing along, enjoying every tuneful lyric. I sometimes wonder who these wee trips benefit more.

‘She who must be obeyed’ is well onto full recovery, looking forward to a weekend in Peebles and a four day stay in April at the holiday place Eyemouth. It is so good to see her smile again.

There is a game which David(Salty) and I, have played as the years have rolled forward, however it has been ages since we have had the board out and played ‘Alcohol Chess’. We have no idea who is winning, for over the years we are usually slightly fou, after the intense matches. It would be nice to relive the past and set up a time when we can have a grudge match as both of us claim to be the overall victor. One thing is certain, Saltcoats caravan the place, I would have to stay the night, as my talent for alcohol consumption has narrowed drastically.

On this note, I travelled down to Ayr yesterday to keep company with my Chine Jim Hendry. My slight refreshment became a tad more than intended, returning rather tipsy…or slightly more refreshment than intended. I intend to be more frugal next visit, but he always insist walking me to the train…. nice one.

Jim is always good company, because we are both opposite, in nature and mind, but meet in the middle as we talk utter rubbish, laughing at the drop of a hat…it is a grand safety valve…Magic Jim. On the way down, as the train soared smoothly through the countryside, I manage to have five seconds or so seeing a fox wandering through its own kingdom. What a magnificent beastie with a beautiful coat, magnified by the winter sun…. natures treat

Having now accepted my memory is not what it used to be, there are plain signs of gradually becoming more, and more forgetful, mainly on simple things…and words. The tip of my tongue has never been so busy. Over the last few years things have happened which I glanced and laughed over, yet this was reality how along with old age, certain signs of a first class daftie …. here are a few examples

In the past I have arrived at Edinburgh Airport, realizing I should be at Glasgow airport, to fly to France. I doubled checked before leaving and still caught the express couch to Auld Reekie. I caught a taxi, costing a couple of bob up front, luckily, I got there in time for my boarding.
Arrived at a hospital appointment exactly one year early. If I have a simple job, using four tools…. within three minutes, or so, I cannot find either one, or two of them even if they are with arm’s length. If not where I think they should be…I can not see them. I must adapt, put things in the exact place every time…or I am lost.

In the Paris Metro…it took a blind French Madame to tell me I was one the wrong train…
Arriving in Avignon, calling in at the first Ibis hotel, because the booking was made online. The charming lady instructed me, I had booked the second Ibis hotels and attempted to direct me. Once outside these directions rather became mixed up until I entered what I presumed was the later. They were serving coffee and asked if I wished a cup. Sitting down I did notice quite a few elderly peoples there. Walked to the reception after the refreshment, only to find out I was in an old folk’s home. Everyone smiled, laughed as they re-directed my course…they did not charge me for the coffee…or even the extra biscuit

As someone said, ‘Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he is caught young’ …I reckon I’m past it…
I should not be let out alone…. Wheesht…. She who must be obeyed’ is coming up the stairs…
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peter.howden
Unwanted Date;

In here alone, hiding from the outside world, a futile attempt to gain some piece of mind. Believing he was as he asked himself repeatedly, no sane person, would ever volunteer, if they knew yesterday, that today’s surroundings would be such a maze of a circumstantially teeth pulling circus. He sits alone, as if in a defended cage, struggling to be concealed in the darkness, in a vain effort to be allowed rescued peace, just for a moment or so. Will tomorrow be the same?

Deep down, recognizing there is no real release from those revulsions he witnessed, compelling him to hide in the unbiased dark. Having committed no crime, advised, be strong and steadfast, the sword of truth will bare victory over adversity...instead, tortured and sullied more than if he was the accused, being verbally assaulted by legal skulduggery jargon, then spread on pages, filled tasteless media skulduggery.

It is true, as a juvenile he may have tread a shady path, even in doggy outcomes, but time and marriage responsibilities, but to insinuate devise motives appearing as witness in such a gruesome case, appears to have ‘carte blanche’, both legal and social teams, to interpolate facts of the case, to suit their own furtive purpose.

Unable to sleep, stumbles to the flat’s fancy window, with a keen melancholy eyes, views a deserted wet street below, unknown shades, darting back and forward, as the last indications of daylight emerges into gloom. Across the road was the High Court, the harbour of justice and law, his personal mental playground This could be anywhere elsewhere, but it was here…and now

Almost forgotten shadowy concepts paraded around his awareness, unguarded with selfish ability beyond purpose. His hopeful simple dreams now just a haze along with what it was like to be a normal human being, whatever that meant, rapidly unscrupulously disappearing into quicksand created by psychological terror

For a short while untouchable, as the world settled on different things, but he knew, an irrepressible retribution will strike without warning… but having no means to stop it… is his nemesis. Raw emotions sting deeply without mercy, because of the most blackish of prints, obligating him to bare the torturous unwanted gaudy memories over and over at the whim of the national press and the pennies cost for a newspaper

It was his life, but it was being depleted by grotesque details the press ether dreamt up, or worse still, taking facts, dates manipulated to suit the story line, while mixed media of the rags tantalized encouraged readers with claims of an exclusive scoop. Each time, with clockwork precision, they, whoever they are, would find new angles in distorting truth, while shamelessly hiding behind the need for public information need.

At the beginning, naively believing in testifying to save the innocent, expose the truth where the guilty would be punished. Little expecting this solitude and fear of being recognized as the witness? There was little protection from the courts, less from the acting lawyers and none from the tenacious press

Vowing to remember the truth… No matter the pain, or because of it… he would cry again…. but not in the public gaze.
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peter.howden
Alternative Herding 2

For the proud ‘Health and Safety’ canal district of Holland, the fun and games performed by inconsistent sheep, to say the least, was annoying, unfortunately, other livestock triggered concern if not glitches. The actual problem was the cows, moody and renowned as being with low intelligence, don’t achieve much, although it may be argued, the poor beasties, taking grass all day, could cause hallucinational acts of inanity.

They have a curious habit while in water, floating upside down using ears as paddles, tails as flexible rudders, displaying their udders and teats. This unorthodox action can be mistaken for World War One sea mines, by the onlookers who call out the military for assistance. Tragically, and unfortunately, a few heifers have lost their lives due the pitiful army manoeuvres played out with 100-year-old wrinkled instruction, full of tearstains from the past.

Porkers are at home anywhere, having naughty habits like, sneaking off for some smoking, nevertheless scared of pot. With incredible ease, pig’s paddle across open water, a scientific fact, fat floats… which has saved their bacon more than once. This also adds to sizzling in the pan, when in the fastidious Netherlands competition for Danish rashers is in full demand.

The ‘Safety Committee’ have taken boffins instructions that water skiing would ease the tension for goats, wild and otherwise, as they are an obvious choice, apart from polled goats, most have horns for protection, along with warning to others. The major obstacle is, ‘Water’s Highway Code’, as their reading skills are limited, always playing the goat, except nanny goats, they just keep eating the paper instruction.

Imported Scottish cuddies don’t make an ass of themselves, adapting to anything on the hoof, while tiny Shetland ponies are just superb, treating the fields as playgrounds.

It is certainly not just the captive livestock the ‘Safety Committee of the region’ are concerned with, as an unsung duty is to ‘keep safe’, pets as well as the wildlife animals roaming the countryside, taking up residence within the limitation of the canals.

Since most of the fertile land, in the region of Holland is under sea level, the health and safety in Netherlands, have instructed, ‘Scuba diving training facility for rabbits, leaving and entering their collective burrows, and chambers which are under water level in Holland, this allows the bunnies to hightail down their own holes. Rabbits can and do look rather scary, kitted out in rubber masks, suits, flippers, and all, but more so with a snorkel. It is extremely hard to work out what a buck is trying to tell you, or what suggestions it is making with such a screwed up contorted mouth trying to avoid the snorkel. This action if repeated to often be enough to give the bunny rabbit a hare lip.

Bunny perspiration is by no means sweet, oozing around tickles the rabbit, so much in rubber, making its intentions bounce all over the place giving out wrong signals, so steer clear when they do eventually undress. One good point though, is there are no bugs on these rabbits ,or the need of a Doctor, or veterinary (well maybe, a Shrink!, for they are a bit loony if truth be known).

Animals inmates of Blijdorp zoo, have their own problems least of all with the daydreaming elephants, reputedly having great recall, pack their trunks ready, but forget where they have left them…. refusing to dip in the pink. Do NOT adapt to exams, or the need to be neat with test papers, which appear to get the wind up…. you must give tons of room to an elephant with reversed farting problems.

There are no zebra crossings on canals, and the big brother’s giraffes have a problem, not from drowning but person’s unknown keep tying boats to their necks sticking out from the water. Even a floating barber tried to use one as a sign for his trade. He must have been blind, as most barbers are, not to distinguish between stripes and patrons.

Again, no sleeping policemen for they would simple drown, even if they could transfer their helmets into temporary diving bells

Holland is a dangerous place for animals that are not naturally aquatic. The mind is simply boggles? …
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peter.howden
A short Tale

They were a couple made for each other in every sense of the meaning, seemingly knowing what the other was going to do before they did. They had been together since God knows when, and where he was…she was there. In a gorgeous summer’s day, while in the Kilpatrick Braes walking, which they both loved, he was whistling as she kept looking at him with adoring eyes, this was one of the assets which made her a wonderful mum.

He calls her name softly, reaching out to tenderly touch her…there is a love within, raw and bare, knowing no gauge of time, or meaningful existence, or allegiance to anything, but the hint of aroma surrounding his mistress, awakening a burning endless passion, enlightened and free, to soar through this universe, just to be a breath away from the desire to touch her, showing affection, here…out in the wild, amongst nature itself.

Wishing they could be together forever, now, full of the joy of life, but this could not be…as time will ravish youthful looks, denying precious memories. Just at that very moment as if on purpose, time stands still…the past catches up with the present, he calls again, ‘come on Titch…time we were home with your puppies’….
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 12/03/2018

Due to a wintery weather spell, subsiding last week, Becky and I eventually took off to the incredible spectacular Kilpatrick hills, by old jalopy, along country roads. We both have cherished wishes to be trekking through country lanes and meadows facing the winds from four corners, while protected by walking clobber such as woolly knitted jumpers, anoraks, and purpose old fashioned leather boots. Mainly due to our age, we take the comfortable option with my old banner (the car…not Aunt Becky) as the ‘Tartan Top Twenty’ vibrates within our little moving bubble.

The fabulous wintery scenery passes many fields holding big patches of snow, and green areas struggling for the light from the sun. Special equipment had been used throughout the previous days, to clear the highways, creating a continuous frozen manky snow pelmet, bordering each side of the highway. As we past the fields reasonably slowly, lamb chops and cuddies search and chew constantly, for sustenance via the limited grass available in the fields.

Since Aunt Becky has been in the Dementia home, she wanders around wide-eyed, seemingly content though oblivious to time or place, while the staff always have a cheerful disposition and a laid-back approach. Becky herself seldom recognizes me at first glance, always saying, ‘haven’t seen you for years?’. Once in the motor and the acknowledged Scottish music waves through the speakers, she beams, sings all the words, keeping time with her feet, and now and again sucking a mint or two. Once back at the home she slips serenely back to being in her own wee world. For us…she is safe.

‘She who must be obeyed’ and I journeyed down to the Pebbles Hydro, where a voluntary housing community training organization holding a much loved annul network conference, allowing representatives of Housing Association to meet in relaxed atmosphere…and be spoiled a little. These sessions give an organized list of debates to attend and dialog about, but I believe the tranquil aether while having coffee, tea, or a slight refreshment, is the essence of comfortable learning.

The massive bedroom allotted to us, had a wall to wall television and an extra king-sized bed, we had to send semaphore if we wished to converse...a touch of luxury. However, in the walk-in bathroom, unfortunately mirrors from all sides, no matter where I stood, reflected a wrinkled face and a nigh bald head.

The Royal burgh of Pebbles is such a great wee place and still has the High st with individual shops and best of all, the enchanting river tweed to amber along at your own pace regardless how long it takes.

Meeting friends at this rendezvous who I have not seen all year, or not see so often, has always been a pleasure and still ism though due to the unescapable truth that time takes its toll each year, when one or two faces are missing for various reasons.

This year it was sad to learn how one long term friend of mine is incurably ill. In the last twenty odd years we have met up, shook hands fondly, then discussed the serious items affecting our association then, just have a few beers and have fun of a time…he is such good company….
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