Poetry Drawer: Acts of Creation by Ted Eames

APE

In dark caves the hand draws floating creatures

with finger-paint grace and smoky pigment:

half is ground quartz and manganese dioxide,

half is calcium phosphate, pestle-powder

remains of the beasts’ own bones and blood.

 

In the Paris Jardin des Plantes sits Nabokov’s ape,

trained and coaxed month on month on year

to recognise images and to use the pencil:

free at last with blank paper and charcoal

he immediately sketches the bars of his cage.

 

All these symphonies, these ballads, sculptures,

tragedies, comedies, dances, films, poems,

string quartets, paintings, novels, songs:

from fecund compost of our own bones and bars

creation springs, cage defined and marrow-deep.

 

http://www.maintenantman.wordpress.com

 

Poetry Drawer: Coming Back from Hope by Ian M Parr

 

IAN

……and Ewan sang, “I found my love

by the gasworks croft,”

and we both knew

salt smoke choke our nostrils,

coke grit between our teeth

and believed

and Ewan sang, “kissed my girl,”

and we both knew

kiss and fondling homeward

down some cobbled alley.

…..and Ewan sang, “I am

a freeman on Sunday,”

and we both raised our eyes to Werneth Low

finding life’s stepping stones to Kinder

via Jacob’s Ladder,

grey Grindsbrook.  

Days on Crowden,

frozen Bleaklow,

bright Mam Tor to Rushop Edge,

beloved Mount Famine,

larks and curlews for companions.  

Begin at whatever place you please.  

But always we come back from Hope.

“Wherever we hiked, we always came back

……..from Hope.”   

 

“Hope” is in Derbyshire as are most of the places named.

Italics are from the voice of Gladys Axon, wife of John Axon GC and subject of the 1958 radio programme, “The Ballad of John Axon”.

Picture: Grindsbrook Clough

 

Inkspeak: Medicine Man by Deborah Edgeley: guitar by Dave Hulatt

ice cream lady

 

Here comes

the medicine man,

With his glittering box of clefs

Like the ice cream lady

in the Odeon

Pass me a quaver

Care for a treble?

Like to try a madrigal?

Two for the price of one!

Want to taste

some harmony?

freshly made

this morning

Maestro,

be a love

and fetch some more octaves,

we’re running low….

Oh dear, this coke is a bit flat….

Medicine man

mediates

between your senses

and spirit.

Medicine man,

the combiner,

the diviner

With his sacred invisible tongue

Delicate as china

Speaking words,

without words

Expressing the inexpressible

After the silence…..

A deeper understanding,

how low can you go?

Let the cattle cry, ‘Death Row’

Rock-a-bye-baby-your-soul

Or RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE WITH ME!

Lay-lady-lay-as-the-wind-cries-Mary

Spread your patchwork blanket on the green

And picnic on the food of love

Eat the music

Give me excess of it

Hey, medicine man

Pass me another quaver!

 

Inky Interview: Joanne Hall by Inez de Miranda

spark carousel

You are an editor, chair of BristolCon, a bestselling writer and very active on social media in all those functions – how do you manage to combine so many activities?

I am a wearer of many hats, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure (other than by avoiding housework wherever possible). I’m lucky that I really enjoy everything I do, so it doesn’t feel like work, and if I get tired of, say, editing I’ll go and work on a novel for a couple of hours. It is hard work, though – anyone who tells you that full time writers spend their afternoons sipping gin in the garden has never been one! I work every day, including weekends and holidays, and often on into the evening if I can.

You became a full-time writer in 2003. What made you take this decision and are you happy with how it is working for you so far? What would you do differently if you knew everything you know now?

I was in a job I hated and I could feel it sapping my creativity every time I walked in through the doors, so I saved up a bunch of money and told everyone I was taking six months off to write. Then I kind of accidently on purpose never went back to work… I would say I’m very happy with it – there are times when it’s been financially very tough, and I’ve felt like a terrible person for putting myself and my long-suffering partner through what was essentially a decade of fairly dire poverty, but we’re coming out of that a bit now. It’s not something that I would recommend everyone to do – if you’ve got children or you need the security of a regular wage I’d absolutely recommend NOT giving up your day job. But I wouldn’t change it – I think it’s helped me to become a better writer, more confident, and it’s also made me aware of just how far a person can stretch very little money, which is a useful life skill!

It was only a few days before I sent you this interview that your novel The Art Of Forgetting: Rider is now an Amazon bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. Many congratulations! Did you eat cake to celebrate? Oh, and, do you have a theory about how you managed this achievement? (Bragging is allowed.)

We didn’t have any cake but I did have a big bar of Dairy Milk and a little boogie around the lounge. The number one on Amazon came off the back of a big Bookbub promotion organised by my publishers, Kristell Ink, who have to take most of the credit because they work incredibly hard. It’s nice that it managed to stay at number one for a few days, and it’s had a knock-on effect of driving sales of my other books, so that’s all awesome.

You are one of the editors of the recently published anthology Fight like a Girl, a collection of short fantasy and sci-fi stories featuring female fighters. What is your personal opinion about the representation and characterisation of different genders in SFF? Does this opinion impact your own writing and if so, in what way?

I confess, it wasn’t something I paid much attention to until I started looking for it, but now I’m thinking more about the representation of genders in my own work, it stands out like a sore thumb for me when I read a book that has no female characters, or a book where all the women are relegated to roles as tavern wenches or prostitutes, or exist only as a prize for the hero. What I want to see when I read fantasy and SF is women with agency, doing stuff and making their own decisions, and when I read a book where that doesn’t happen, it annoys me. It’s lazy writing, to relegate an entire sex to bystanders in your story, and it’s not hard to include Women Doing Stuff. Even if you’re writing about a strict patriarchal society, it doesn’t mean that women don’t exist, or that they don’t have opinions to be expressed.
Luckily there aren’t as many books like that published now as there were, say, in the 1970s, which makes the odd book that has no active women in it stand out even more.
It’s made me more conscious than ever, not only of trying to make sure I include a variety of women in a variety of roles, but also making sure that some of the more traditionally ‘female’ roles are occasionally taken by men. Because why not?

Continuing the women in SFF topic: as a female fantasy author, what are your thoughts about the position of women authors in the fantasy and sci-fi genres?

This might get long, sorry in advance…

We have come a long way, again, since the 70s. I don’t know why I tend to default to the 70s, probably because I was born then and it seems like a long time ago. 😉 But we still haven’t come quite far enough. Just this morning there was yet another ‘List of Essential SFF’ going around on Twitter that comprised of seventeen men and one woman, and this happens on a pretty-much monthly basis. We KNOW there are heaps of incredible women writing heaps of incredible SFF, but they’re not getting on these lists; they’re not getting onto the display tables in big high street booksellers; they’re not getting on awards shortlists (or not nearly as much as they should). And when I speak to male friends (predominantly) and ask them to scrutinise their own reading, even those that are passionate supporters of women in SFF have come back to me and confessed that they tend to read far more men than women. So my two big issues are – why is this happening, and what can we do about it?

It’s my belief, based on no scientific basis whatsoever beyond observing the industry from all sides for a very long time, that in the first place women don’t put themselves forward as much. They don’t submit as many novels and short stories, they don’t put themselves forward for panels or readings as much as men do. And this might go right back to ‘little girls should be seen and not heard, and little girls certainly shouldn’t show off’. It might not. Whatever the reason, there appears to be an intrinsic reluctance for women to put themselves forward, which leads to less women on panels, less women being published, less female best sellers, less female award nominees – it just goes on and on.
In the last ten to fifteen years it’s got better, and more people have made a conscious effort to promote women’s SFF writing, but still, when you see lists every month telling you that all the important, cutting edge SFF has been written and continues to be written almost exclusively by men, it’s disheartening and demoralising to women as a group. That’s why representation is so vital – to demonstrate that there ARE women out there at the cutting edge of SFF writing brilliant things and saying brilliant things on panels and winning awards and selling millions of books.

Which brings me in an extremely roundabout and rambly way to the second question of ‘What can we do about it?’ And the answer to that one is a bit simpler. Read women. Review books by women. Talk about female writers you have enjoyed. Encourage women to submit stories, and then publish them. Make sure women are represented; in your reviews, in your anthologies, in your awards shortlists, in your reading. It’s really not hard. I’ve been running a Discoverability Challenge on my blog (www.hierath.co.uk) for about three years, challenging people to read 12 new-to-them female authors per year and review the ones they have enjoyed. If you love reading and you read loads of books, it’s not hard to read twelve new female authors a year. And it gets people talking and making recommendations, which is great.

Can you tell us about how the anthology Fight Like a Girl was conceived and put together?

Fight like A Girl was born on Twitter and instigated by Danie Ware. It was born out of frustration with those issues addressed at length in the previous answer, and Danie said how great it would be to have an anthology on the subject of fighting women that was entirely written by women. And it kind of snowballed from there – it’s not only a collection that’s entirely written by women, it’s also edited by women (myself and Roz Clarke), the cover is by Sarah Anne Langton, and it’s published by Kristell Ink, who are a publisher owned and run by two women (Sammy HK Smith and Zoe Harris). So it’s like a stick of rock – there’s women all the way through!

About your most recent novel Spark and Carousel – the old cliché questions: what was your inspiration for this story?

Well I’d recently finished writing The Art of Forgetting and I wanted to write something that was a bit lighter and more of a romp, with more magic in, and I knew I wanted to set it in a city because I hadn’t really done that before. Every book is about looking to see if I can stretch myself in a slightly new direction and try things I haven’t done before.

I have read this book, and my favourite character was Allorise. Without giving too many spoilers, can you tell us how she was developed? I love her name, too, did you make it up?

Yes, I made it up. It just sounded right in my mouth for a frilly, flouncy, spoiled posh girl who wants her own way – though the way she went about getting her own way was obviously pretty dark and nasty! I didn’t want her to be out-and-out bad, she needed to have some motivation for the way she acted, and just because she’s well-off doesn’t mean that she has that many more options in life than a street kid like Carousel. So they had that similarity between them, of being shut in and deprived of agency, but Allorise obviously handled her situation in a much more extreme and dangerous way. It was fun to see how far she would actually take things. I think that’s what’s entertaining about her, is that nothing is too far for her, there’s not a point where she’ll take a breath and go, ‘hey, maybe this is a bad thing I’m doing’! She’s a very extreme character, which makes her tremendously fun to write. I enjoy writing characters who aren’t overburdened with morals…

And finally, are you working on or do you have plans for a new novel or novel series at the moment? If you are, can you give us a teaser?

I’m working on a few things at the moment, but the next thing I have coming out is The Summer Goddess, which is due out this winter from Kristell Ink. It’s kind of a stand-alone sequel to The Art of Forgetting and it’s set in the same world.

Blurb:

When Asta’s nephew is taken by slavers, she pledges to her brother that she will find him, or die trying. Her search takes her from the fading islands of the Scattering, a nation in thrall to a powerful enemy, to the port city of Abonnae. There she finds a people dominated by a sinister cult, thirsty for blood to feed their hungry god.


Haunted by the spirit of her brother, forced into an uncertain alliance with a pair of assassins, Asta faces a deadly choice – save the people of two nations, or save her brother’s only son.

Thank you for having me!

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Inky Interview: Joanne Hall by Inez de Miranda

spark carouselforget

You are an editor, chair of BristolCon, a bestselling writer and very active on social media in all those functions – how do you manage to combine so many activities?

I am a wearer of many hats, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure (other than by avoiding housework wherever possible). I’m lucky that I really enjoy everything I do, so it doesn’t feel like work, and if I get tired of, say, editing I’ll go and work on a novel for a couple of hours. It is hard work, though – anyone who tells you that full time writers spend their afternoons sipping gin in the garden has never been one! I work every day, including weekends and holidays, and often on  into the evening if I can.

You became a full-time writer in 2003. What made you take this decision and are you happy with how it is working for you so far? What would you do differently if you knew everything you know now?

I was in a job I hated and I could feel it sapping my creativity every time I walked in through the doors, so I saved up a bunch of money and told everyone I was taking six months off to write. Then I kind of accidently on purpose never went back to work… I would say I’m very happy with it – there are times when it’s been financially very tough, and I’ve felt like a terrible person for putting myself and my long-suffering partner through what was essentially a decade of fairly dire poverty, but we’re coming out of that a bit now. It’s not something that I would recommend everyone to do – if you’ve got children or you need the security of a regular wage I’d absolutely recommend NOT giving up your day job. But I wouldn’t change it – I think it’s helped me to become a better writer, more confident, and it’s also made me aware of just how far a person can stretch very little money, which is a useful life skill!

It was only a few days before I sent you this interview that your novel The Art Of Forgetting: Rider is now an Amazon bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. Many congratulations! Did you eat cake to celebrate? Oh, and, do you have a theory about how you managed this achievement? (Bragging is allowed.)

We didn’t have any cake but I did have a big bar of Dairy Milk and a little boogie around the lounge. The number one on Amazon came off the back of a big Bookbub promotion organised by my publishers, Kristell Ink, who have to take most of the credit because they work incredibly hard. It’s nice that it managed to stay at number one for a few days, and it’s had a knock-on effect of driving sales of my other books, so that’s all awesome.

You are one of the editors of the recently published anthology Fight like a Girl, a collection of short fantasy and sci-fi stories featuring female fighters. What is your personal opinion about the representation and characterisation of different genders in SFF? Does this opinion impact your own writing and if so, in what way?

I confess, it wasn’t something I paid much attention to until I started looking for it, but now I’m thinking more about the representation of genders in my own work, it stands out like a sore thumb for me when I read a book that has no female characters, or a book where all the women are relegated to roles as tavern wenches or prostitutes, or exist only as a prize for the hero. What I want to see when I read fantasy and SF is women with agency, doing stuff and making their own decisions, and when I read a book where that doesn’t happen, it annoys me. It’s lazy writing, to relegate an entire sex to bystanders in your story, and it’s not hard to include Women Doing Stuff. Even if you’re writing about a strict patriarchal society, it doesn’t mean that women don’t exist, or that they don’t have opinions to be expressed.
Luckily there aren’t as many books like that published now as there were, say, in the 1970s, which makes the odd book that has no active women in it stand out even more.
It’s made me more conscious than ever, not only of trying to make sure I include a variety of women in a variety of roles, but also making sure that some of the more traditionally ‘female’ roles are occasionally taken by men. Because why not?

Continuing the women in SFF topic: as a female fantasy author, what are your thoughts about the position of women authors in the fantasy and sci-fi genres?

This might get long, sorry in advance…

We have come a long way, again, since the 70s. I don’t know why I tend to default to the 70s, probably because I was born then and it seems like a long time ago. 😉 But we still haven’t come quite far enough. Just this morning there was yet another ‘List of Essential SFF’ going around on Twitter that comprised of seventeen men and one woman, and this happens on a pretty-much monthly basis. We KNOW there are heaps of incredible women writing heaps of incredible SFF, but they’re not getting on these lists; they’re not getting onto the display tables in big high street booksellers; they’re not getting on awards shortlists (or not nearly as much as they should). And when I speak to male friends (predominantly) and ask them to scrutinise their own reading, even those that are passionate supporters of women in SFF have come back to me and confessed that they tend to read far more men than women. So my two big issues are – why is this happening, and what can we do about it?

It’s my belief, based on no scientific basis whatsoever beyond observing the industry from all sides for a very long time, that in the first place women don’t put themselves forward as much. They don’t submit as many novels and short stories, they don’t put themselves forward for panels or readings as much as men do. And this might go right back to ‘little girls should be seen and not heard, and little girls certainly shouldn’t show off’. It might not. Whatever the reason, there appears to be an intrinsic reluctance for women to put themselves forward, which leads to less women on panels, less women being published, less female best sellers, less female award nominees – it just goes on and on.
In the last ten to fifteen years it’s got better, and more people have made a conscious effort to promote women’s SFF writing, but still, when you see lists every month telling you that all the important, cutting edge SFF has been written and continues to be written almost exclusively by men, it’s disheartening and demoralising to women as a group. That’s why representation is so vital – to demonstrate that there ARE women out there at the cutting edge of SFF writing brilliant things and saying brilliant things on panels and winning awards and selling millions of books.

Which brings me in an extremely roundabout and rambly way to the second question of ‘What can we do about it?’ And the answer to that one is a bit simpler. Read women. Review books by women. Talk about female writers you have enjoyed. Encourage women to submit stories, and then publish them. Make sure women are represented; in your reviews, in your anthologies, in your awards shortlists, in your reading. It’s really not hard. I’ve been running a Discoverability Challenge on my blog (www.hierath.co.uk) for about three years, challenging people to read 12 new-to-them female authors per year and review the ones they have enjoyed. If you love reading and you read loads of books, it’s not hard to read twelve new female authors a year. And it gets people talking and making recommendations, which is great.

Can you tell us about how the anthology Fight Like a Girl was conceived and put together?

Fight like A Girl was born on Twitter and instigated by Danie Ware. It was born out of frustration with those issues addressed at length in the previous answer, and Danie said how great it would be to have an anthology on the subject of fighting women that was entirely written by women. And it kind of snowballed from there – it’s not only a collection that’s entirely written by women, it’s also edited by women (myself and Roz Clarke), the cover is by Sarah Anne Langton, and it’s published by Kristell Ink, who are a publisher owned and run by two women (Sammy HK Smith and Zoe Harris). So it’s like a stick of rock – there’s women all the way through!

About your most recent novel Spark and Carousel – the old cliché questions: what was your inspiration for this story?

Well I’d recently finished writing The Art of Forgetting and I wanted to write something that was a bit lighter and more of a romp, with more magic in, and I knew I wanted to set it in a city because I hadn’t really done that before. Every book is about looking to see if I can stretch myself in a slightly new direction and try things I haven’t done before.

I have read this book, and my favourite character was Allorise. Without giving too many spoilers, can you tell us how she was developed? I love her name, too, did you make it up?

Yes, I made it up. It just sounded right in my mouth for a frilly, flouncy, spoiled posh girl who wants her own way – though the way she went about getting her own way was obviously pretty dark and nasty! I didn’t want her to be out-and-out bad, she needed to have some motivation for the way she acted, and just because she’s well-off doesn’t mean that she has that many more options in life than a street kid like Carousel. So they had that similarity between them, of being shut in and deprived of agency, but Allorise obviously handled her situation in a much more extreme and dangerous way. It was fun to see how far she would actually take things. I think that’s what’s entertaining about her, is that nothing is too far for her, there’s not a point where she’ll take a breath and go, ‘hey, maybe this is a bad thing I’m doing’! She’s a very extreme character, which makes her tremendously fun to write. I enjoy writing characters who aren’t overburdened with morals…

And finally, are you working on or do you have plans for a new novel or novel series at the moment? If you are, can you give us a teaser?

I’m working on a few things at the moment, but the next thing I have coming out is The Summer Goddess, which is due out this winter from Kristell Ink. It’s kind of a stand-alone sequel to The Art of Forgetting and it’s set in the same world.

Blurb:

When Asta’s nephew is taken by slavers, she pledges to her brother that she will find him, or die trying. Her search takes her from the fading islands of the Scattering, a nation in thrall to a powerful enemy, to the port city of Abonnae. There she finds a people dominated by a sinister cult, thirsty for blood to feed their hungry god.


Haunted by the spirit of her brother, forced into an uncertain alliance with a pair of assassins, Asta faces a deadly choice – save the people of two nations, or save her brother’s only son.

Thank you for having me!

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Poetry Drawer: There Is Only One Now by Faye Joy

fire kaye

He’d fashioned two love tokens

and placed them by the bed before he left.

I saw the gleam reflected in those fireballs

as I turned to the morning light, four

tiny globes on the table. I stretched out

 

to stroke the mercurial forms suspended

on silver lace bobbins, lifting the finials

to my tongue, rotating them gently

in my mouth, lips encasing, caressing

their compressed Jurassic warmth.

 

Then held the crook, letting them swing,

their slight comforting, reassuring.

The combined weight was a gentle pull

on my lobes, the swing reassuring.

I noticed the inky refractions

 

whenever I lay them in my palms.

In summer the globes swung untrammelled

on their finialled shafts. In cold weather

and muffled against the numbing cold

of a rural parish church concert,

 

I left with shoulders hunched, shuffling

through the congregation to the welcome

night crunch and smell of gravel and privet.

Unmuffling later I searched in vain

for the slight my one lobe missed.

 

Years later I roll the one remaining jet

in my hand and let my lips close again

over dark warmth and cool silver before

once more replacing it in the typesetter’s

shelves alongside other singles.

Poetry Drawer: Get With The Times by Nathan Pleavin

nath

Moralistic tendencies that can’t be truly measured,

twisted, darker side of life that leads you to be pleasured.

What is goodness? What is badness?

What is love but utter madness?

Feelings are but mere illusions,

man-made, fake and pure delusions.

Yet sometimes I still trick myself,

I put my feelings over health,

I let my heart off its lead,

I open myself up, a book to read,

I allow myself to be vulnerable,

yet always end up miserable.

So I use my solidarity as a defence,

loneliness starts making sense.

But in the end I realise,

I just get sick of all the lies,

of what to do and how to be,

that we aren’t ever truly free,

from this backwards, self-harming society.

If just being yourself is no longer allowed,

I no longer wish to be part of the crowd.

 

Pantry Prose: The Case of the Poisoned Apple by Kev Milsom

poison apple

Laying in the centre of the room, before the wide, stone fireplace, the glass coffin became the main focus for the small audience. The only sound aside from the crackling logs came in the form of hushed whispers and the occasional sneeze; all eyes following the tall man as he walked to the fireplace, stooped low and took a long, thoughtful while to light his pipe.

‘Come now, Mr Holmes,’ said the only one of the assembled group to wear spectacles, ‘why exactly have you gathered us here? Some of us have work to get to, you know.’
Several grunts and nodding of several small heads accompanied the words, although the detective appeared lost in thought and temporarily oblivious to any form of complaint.

For the umpteenth time that morning Holmes walked to the coffin and peered through the glass to the unmoving form beneath the lid.
‘Mr Holmes!’
Finally, the detective blinked and looked disdainfully in the direction of the grumpy owner of the voice.
‘Mr Holmes, it’s quite clear who the culprit is here. I don’t see why we have to stand here like statues, while the evil Queen gets away. Why aren’t you arresting her instead of picking on us working folk?’
A low rumble of agreement rose up from the group.
‘I…I do hope that this is not a case of height-ism, Mr Holmes’ stuttered a red-faced bashful fellow, ‘I would really hate to complain to Scotland Yard. I w…would indeed.’
Further grumblings filled the room and once more all eyes were on Holmes as he relit his pipe from the fire, before turning to face the room.
‘Gentlemen, I am of course most utterly grateful for the giving of your time to assemble here and I promise that I won’t detain you a moment more than absolutely necessary.’
Holmes’s words and kindly facial expression did little to appease the small crowd, but before the grumpy gentleman could begin a new verbal tirade, the detective raised his hands in a commanding manner as if conducting an orchestra.

As one, the dwarves fell silent.
‘I will concur,’ said Holmes, ‘that initially it appears that there can be only one assailant in this crime. All fingers point to the Queen…perhaps, if I may suggest, a little too conveniently for my liking.’
Indignant gasps met Holmes’s ears, but his hands dipped quickly into his coat pocket, producing approximately one half of an apple, which he held aloft.
‘According to your testimonies, the victim was visited by an old woman who proceeded to persuade this poor, naïve, young lady to bite upon this very apple, thus rendering her unconscious and in a temporary medical state of comatose immobility.’
Holmes watched the slightly confused expressions with interest, smiling faintly to himself as he noted the one tiny face who was the exception.
‘Before my arrival here, gentlemen, I took the liberty of analysing the available evidence. The Queen keeps only one type of poison, namely rat poison within the bounds of her castle. However, the liquid contained within this apple is an extremely rare combination, formed from specific crystalline compounds…or, as one trained in chemistry might label it, arsenic.’
The silence in the room was broken only by a loud sneeze and a faint hum of snoring.
‘Naturally, the properties of arsenic would be unknown to most people…but then you’re not most people, are you, ‘Doc’? Or should I say, Professor Heinrich Morgan from the University of Vienna and reported leader of the infamous ‘Little Red Handed’ gang?’
The face of the bespectacled dwarf turned bright red and began a faltering, stammered reply, before quickly falling into silence.
‘Wanted by Interpol for jewel thieving in Milan…kitten rustling in Sardinia…small-arms smuggling in Barcelona and now apparently contract-killing in the Enchanted Forest.’
The front door to the compact and bijou home suddenly burst open, revealing a large group of police officers, with Inspector Lestrade and Doctor Watson bringing up the rear.
‘At last, Watson!’ beamed Holmes, “I thought you’d never get here. Officers! If you would be so kind as to remove these gentlemen into the safety of Her Majesty’s custody.’
Holmes jabbed an accusing finger at each culprit as each one was led away; small heads bowed in shame.
‘Farewell indeed, ‘Smiling Boy’ Smith…‘Grumpy Jack’ McDougal…Bob ‘Sleepy Byes’ Brown…’Shy Stan’ Sinclair…Hank ‘Handkerchief-Howling’ Harris…and of course, last but not least, the notorious brains of the outfit, ‘Dopey Dan’ Denton, himself.”
Watson peered at the tiny, cross-eyed face and viewed the tongue peeking from the side of the mouth with disdain.
‘Brains of the outfit? Are you sure, Holmes? The fellow seems positively doo-lalley to me.’
Holmes nodded and relit his pipe from the hearth.
‘Absolutely sure, my dear Watson, Denton might play the absolute fool to perfection, but then the seven times winner of the ‘North England Gurning Competition’ would naturally fool even the most ardent of observers.’
Denton’s face fell and relaxed back into a definite scowl.
‘Damn you, copper! This would have been our last job before retirement. We’d bought a little place on the French Riviera…’
He sighed loudly as a burly officer escorted him from the room, leaving only Watson and Lestrade with a clearly gloating Holmes, who paced the hearth rug in triumphant style.
‘Well…’ said Lestrade, ‘another victory, Mr Holmes. Of all your recent cases this one dwarves all the others by comparison.’
‘Indeed,’ nodded Watson, ‘no small feat at all, Lestrade. Will they get short sentences?’
‘Perhaps, Doctor Watson,’ chuckled Lestrade, ‘after all they were only ‘miner’ offences.”
Ever the perfect professional, Holmes ignored the childish laughter, for his eyes had fallen on the front of a newspaper which lay upon a tiny coffee table; his lips moving as he read the main headline from ‘The Hunter‘s Bugle‘.
‘And what have we here? ’Opportunist Girl Snares Gullible Prince in Glass Slipper Plot‘….hmmm, come Watson, with all haste! There is no time to waste!’

 

Poetry Drawer: This Time by Clair Chapman

mersey

I left my joie de vivre down by the Mersey,
The sun shone and the wind whipped and I knew.
I didn’t look back to see if she had found it,
I left it on the riverside with you.

This city’s broken hearts for generations,
Through famine, music, slavery and love.
But still she never fails to show her beauty,
As she takes your trembling hand inside her glove.

When she takes your joy to add to all others,
You don’t feel it till you’re back amongst your own.
You still live in the town that you were born in,
But somehow you can never call it home.

My soul lies still along the Mersey,
It’s up there with my heart and joie de vivre,
And everytime I go back there to find them,
I swear that this time…
This time…
I’ll never leave.