January in Rhymish…

31 01 2013

I’ve done it! I’ve gone a whole month with a blog post every day! Hurrah!

So now I have to decide whether to carry on with a daily post, or whether to relax a bit and just post once or twice a week… or whenever the mood takes me…

To be honest, I’ve found the challenge of finding something to post about every day has really got my mind back into something vaguely resembling creative-mode. I’ve had lots of new ideas, picked up and dusted off a story I hadn’t worked on for ages, and am almost starting to feel like someone who is trying to be a writer again…

So maybe I’ll carry on with a daily post for the time being… Let’s see how it goes…

To round off January, here’s a little conglomeration in Rhymish (that strange, often ignored language spoken by people who are trying to write rhymes but not always getting it right) of what I’ve been wittering on about for the last month:

January in Rhymish

Two shiny new Sirs for the start of the year,
Children and trains and strange noises you hear.
Ancient old manuscripts found in the attic,
And pains that are thought to be palindromatic.
Felt pens and palm-farts and playing guitar,
And a bonkers old lady who’s rather bizzare.
Flashing at cameras and poets and cheese
Odd sounding berries and sudden cat wees.
Waving at trains and joint-ownership cats,
Rebus and Rankin and small sleeping bats.
Swithering needles and words in a sack,
Tatty-bye Jan-u-ree, don’t hurry back…

See you in February, folks!


Batty banter…

30 01 2013

There’s been a bit of batty banter on Twitter.

American author Julie Anne Lindsey (@JulieALindsey on Twitter) tweeted that she’d had her basement ruthlessly invaded by a bat, which brought to mind the time I got followed home by a [insert collective noun for bats here] of bats. I could just look up the collective noun for bats, but I really want it to be a ‘squeak’ and don’t want to have my illusions shattered when I find out it isn’t.

Anyway. Julie and her family finally plucked up the courage to enter the afore mentioned basement again, and they found said bat asleep on the ceiling. They carefully took him down and he didn’t even wake up – look, she tweeted a picture:

Awwww! And thanks Julie for letting me include your photo!

As soon as I saw that picture pop up in my twitter feed it reminded me of when I was really tiny, and was out for a walk with dad. It’s one of those moments I remember really vividly. I wrote about it once, and after a quick check I realised I haven’t included it in my blog, so here it is….


The Bat

I was very small. Either that, or the hedges and trees were very big. No, I must have been very small. It was a hot, bright, sunny day, and dad and I were walking up the narrow road out of town on our way to visit the farm at the top of the hill. Sometimes there were lambs, and the farmer let me feed them from a bottle. Or was that just once? Maybe that’s what would happen next. Anyway, it was hot, bright and sunny, I was small, the hedges and trees were big, and I was with dad.

We were walking on the right-hand side of the road (Always Remember the Country Code) and our progress was slow as we’d keep stopping to investigate flowers and other interesting things on the verge and in the hedgerow. Maybe I picked some flowers for mum with my chubby little hands.

Then I saw it.

It was nestled in the grass under the hedge, eyes shut tight. I might have poked it carefully, but if I did it wouldn’t have moved. I showed dad, and he bent down to look – probably with a ‘Oooh, aaaaah’ – and told me it was a sleeping bat, just a little one, maybe a baby one. I’d never seen a real bat before, and he pointed out its delicate, folded wings. But why was it sleeping on the ground? I knew bats went to sleep hanging upside-down from branches. Perhaps it had fallen off its twig? Dad agreed – or maybe he suggested that – and he gently picked up the tiny thing in his big daddy hands and somehow got it hooked on a twig in the hedge so that it looked like a proper bat again. We carried on walking.

Of course it wasn’t asleep. But I must have been very small, maybe so small that dad didn’t want to explain Death to me. When I was a bit bigger and learnt about Death, I remembered that little bat and wondered why dad had lied to me.

Now I’m older I know he’d just been trying to protect his little girl, and not spoil the lovely walk in the countryside on that hot, bright, sunny day, with the hedges and trees, the Country Code, and maybe the possibility of lambs to feed.

Or maybe the bat was asleep? Maybe, by hanging it back up in the hedge, dad saved it from being eaten in its sleep by a sudden fox? And maybe when it woke up that night and stretched its batty wings, it vaguely remembered having one of those ‘falling’ dreams, and remembered a huge hand gently lifting it up off the grass…

My dad, my protector, with his big gentle hands.

I’ll never forget that little bat.


So that’s my little bat memory. I’m very glad I had the chance to share what I’d written with dad before we lost him – he remembered it vividly too, and said he was surprised I remembered it so clearly as I had been very little at the time. And he said he was sure it was dead, and I’d hit the nail on the head as to why he’d agreed it was sleeping…

But now, after hearing about Julie’s experience, I’m wondering if our little bat perhaps was just sleeping after all – in which case maybe we did save it from a sudden fox, and maybe it did have a little batty dream…

Palindromic Rheumatism

29 01 2013

I woke up this morning with a flare-up in my foot. Not too bad a flare as flares go, though I did have to come downstairs on my bottom. Thankfully it’s eased off a bit now – but flares sometimes have a tendency to be worse in the mornings and evenings, so I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t come back with a vengeance tonight.

So I’ve decided to make today’s post about what it’s like to have Palindromic Rheumatism – not about what it is, you can google that for yourself!

Chances are you’ve probably never heard of Palindromic Rheumatism. Or you might hear the ‘R’ word and say, ‘Oh yeah, my granny has that,’ – which is one of the reasons why sufferers tend to avoid using its proper name. It’s also sometimes called ‘Palindromic Arthritis’, which again is a name sufferers try to avoid, for the same reason. Some suffers just say ‘Oh, I have dodgy joints,’ or ‘It’s an auto-immune thing,’ and leave it at that, because they know that if they go into more detail, a glazed look will start to appear on the listeners face, and you know that they’re filing it in the ‘What my granny has’ box.

Let me try and clear something up – it’s not what your granny gets. That’s probably osteoarthritis, a very different kettle of fish.

One of the things about Palindromic Rheumatism that people also have trouble understanding is that it affects random joints (or the tissue around joints) er, randomly. It can start with, say, a slight feeling of mild pain in your foot, and a few hours later can have totally disappeared, or can have progressed into the sort of agony that means you can’t walk. Or sleep. It may last a few hours, or a few days. Then you might go for a few days (or weeks) with no flare-ups at all. But suddenly it’ll be back – this time in your left wrist. And just when it’s easing off, it pops up in your right shoulder. Then your left index finger. Then your left hip. Sometimes you’ll get a fever with the flare-up. Sometimes the offending area will be swollen and feel hot to the touch. Often you can’t sleep, as every movement that affects the flared-up joint is agony. Sometimes you may find yourself lying on the floor in a little ball of pain, trying not to be sick because it hurts so much, seriously considering chopping the offending limb off.

Oh, and when I mentioned index finger just there, you might have thought, ‘A hurting finger, that’s not so bad.’ Well. Just to set things straight, a finger in full-flare can be so bad. It can be so swollen that it feels like it’s going to burst if you move it. Any movement of your other fingers, hand, wrist or arm can cause agonising pain. You’ll have difficulty sleeping with that little hurty finger. You probably won’t be able to use that arm at all. Buttoning up a shirt? Doing up a zip? Putting on or taking off a jumper? Doing up a bra? Forget it. Baggy tops and jogging pants, and get used to doing things one-handed for a while.

And then it’s gone. Weeks, or even months might go by, and you start thinking, ‘Maybe it’s gone away. The doctors say it can just stop, so maybe it has.’ Then a few days later you wake up in the middle of the night with your foot swollen and if you want to go to the bathroom you have to crawl.

Oh, I forgot to mention fatigue. Pain wears you out – anyone who suffers from a painful condition will tell you that. So when your flare-up(s) have gone, often you’ll be shattered and want to do nothing more than sleep, or take it easy. Relish in the luxury of being able to lift the kettle with one hand. Delight in being able to go up and downstairs without having to either hang on to the handrail for grim life, or go up and down the stairs on your bottom.

No, it’s not proven to be diet related. No, it’s not proven to be weather related. Just thought I’d throw those in before you ask.

Just as an aside – iPhone and iPads are great (other touchscreen devices are available!). No painful buttons to press, no books to support and pages to turn. Hurrah for touch-screens!

Sometimes it’s deliberately cheeky – it’ll pop up in your right foot, knee or hip, but you struggle on with a walking stick… and then your left wrist flares up too so you can’t use the stick…

Sometimes it gets you in the throat and you think you’re coming down with flu or tonsillitis or something – but then a few hours later your throat is back to normal and you think, ‘Oh. That’s what it was.’

When the flare-up – or flare-ups, because it often affects more than one place at the same time – subside, your joints are back to normal. No damage.

‘Just take a painkiller!’ I hear you cry! Well the problem with most strong painkillers (whether of-the-shelf or prescribed) is they take a few hours to kick in – or in some cases 24 hours or more, by which time your flare-up may have gone, or at least be starting to ease off. And anyway, most of them won’t even touch the pain.

Are you getting the picture? See why it’s a bit annoying for sufferers when they get the ‘My granny has that,’ comment? Also annoying is to be asked ‘How’s your hip/knee/wrist etc?’ when you bump into someone who last saw you hobbling about or unable to use one hand or arm. Because, generally, it’s fine…

…until the next flare-up…

Update 22/03/14: There’s a great Palindromic Rheumatism group on Facebook, and an excellent blog on the subject called “My Palindromic Life“. Also Arthritis Research UK did a recent survey of sufferers which makes very interesting reading.

Cats: The Truth… And a question…

28 01 2013


I was mulling over something this morning (besides ‘Why didn’t my taxi turn up? I could have set my alarm for 6.30am instead of 4.30am aaaaargh!’) – hang on, lost my thread… Lets start again…

I was mulling over something this morning: should I be baring my all by publishing raw, rough and unready writing on my blog? By ‘my all’ I mean my lack of attention to punctuation, grammer, rhythm, pace, sense etc, and by ‘raw, rough and unready writing’ I mean first drafts. You know, those very first versions you write, where the ideas splurge out your head and you have to get them nailed down on paper (or on iPad) quickly before they flit away. Those first versions that you’ll end up editing down to half their size and turning what’s left upside down and inside out, then buffing it all up to give it a sparkling finish. After you’ve carefully wiped off all the blood, sweat and tears…

Then I thought, ‘Yes, because it’s giving me the push to write, even if it’s something small, even if I’m so tired I can barely see.’

And I thought ‘Yes, because it’s nice and encouraging when you get positive feedback, despite all the bloopers.’

And I thought ‘Yes, because it’s a lovely feeling to know that something you’ve scribbled has made someone chuckle (even if it was just the tiniest chuckle in the world).’

I had a lot of ‘No‘ thoughts too, but decided to blow a big raspberry at them and continue putting my splurgy-rough-stuff on here for you to dip in and out of should you feel the urge.

I’d be interested to hear what other writerly types out there think on this matter… Leave me a comment, or tweet me @rose_appleby

So then! On to today’s splurgy-rough-next-bit-of-Granny-Battle-and-Ellis. I really need to find a title for this…

Update: Here are links to all previous chapters…

Chapter 1 – Crackleberries…
Chapter 2 – What happened next…
Chapter 3 – Tweaked odour eaters…
Chapter 4 – Startled dragon wee…


Chapter 5

Ellis cupped his hands around the steaming mug on the table in front of him. He’d been a bit wary about accepting a drink from someone who fried odour eaters, but he had to admit to himself it tasted good. Sort of like the best, sweetest cup of tea in the world but with essence of bubblegum and a toffee aftertaste. He took another sip, and looked carefully down at his lap where the small orange dragon was nestled; its eyes were closed, and it was quietly snoring squeakily. Every now and then a pale grey puff of smoke drifted out the corner of its mouth. Ellis had discovered that if he looked at it suddenly without thinking, it looked distinctly furry. But if he concentrated and looked at it a bit more slowly, it was 100% dragon.

‘He likes you,’ said Granny Battle approvingly, taking a noisy slurp from her mug. Whatever she was drinking was producing delicate purple steam.

Ellis felt rather pleased with himself, and gave the dragon a tentative tickle behind its ear. It creaked contentedly. He had a million and one questions he needed answering, and was pretty sure Granny Battle had already heard him thinking them. He picked one at random to vocalise.

‘So why cats?’ he asked.

‘Well, I would have thought that was obvious,’ she replied, blowing on her mug and sending little purple steam-rings across the table.

‘Er, no,’ he replied. Granny gave a little hmph.

‘Oh. Well, it’s the heat.’

‘Heat?’ Ellis looked confused. ‘I don’t get it,’ he said.

‘Well. You sees… it’s…’ Granny scrunched up her nose searching for the right way to explain things. ‘You sees, humans were the best at making themselves warm nests. Or houses or whatever you want to call them. Dragons need as much heat as possible – they hate the cold. They seed the nice warm nests we was making in Way Back When, so tried to muscle in on them.’ She took another noisy slurp from her mug, and smothered a burp. ‘It didn’t work too well at first, ‘cos a spikey, spiney dragon don’t exactly tempt you to welcome it into your home does it? They used to have rather a hard time – I means, think of St. George! So the dragons, see, they worked out how to project this… this… fluffiness,’ she screwed up her mouth as if the word had tasted bad. ‘Anyway, that made them a lot more appealing. People saw them and went, ‘Aw, how cute!’ and started taking them into their nice warm homes. Of course, it was the Egyptian dragons that sussed it first, they were real experts. Took it a bit too far though, if you want my opinion.’

Ellis was silent. He kept getting little bursts of swimmy unrealism. He was sitting at the kitchen table in the bonkers old lady’s – he corrected himself – Granny Battle’s house. They were discussing dragons. Cats were dragons. He’d had his t-shirt singed and half his hair burnt to a frazzle. Now his shirt and hair were back to normal after she’d done something. She cooked odour eaters in a frying pan. He’d trodden in one. She said she was a slooth, and she said that she knew where his dad was.

He clenched his first under the table until he felt his fingernails dig painfully into his palm, just to remind himself that this was real.

Granny Battle continued.

‘Course, they got it made, really. And they make a fortune out of us.’

‘What?’ asked Ellis, ‘Money fortune? How do they do that?!’

‘Weeeeeeeell, just think of all the stuff we buy them!’ Granny said, ‘The food, the silly fluffy toys, daft little baskets, furry things to hang over radiators, collars with sparkles on! You don’t think those things are actually dreamed up and made by us do you?!’ She sniffed, and muttered, ‘Can’t abide fluffiness in any shape or form. Or sparkles. Especially not sparkles.’

Ellis was getting a bit overloaded. He just stared blankly at her. She sighed.

‘Look, dragons need a hoard, right? Forget about all this ‘sleeping on the hoard’ business, that’s rubbish. They have banks, just like us. Always have had. They make – or get made – all that stuff, and we buy it in cartloads.’

‘But – how – I don’t understand!’ Ellis said, feeling as if his brain was about to implode, ‘We don’t buy that stuff from cats! Or dragons! We buy it in shops… and it must have come from a… a… human to get in the shops, surely?! There can’t be a factory somewhere full of cats – dragons – whatever – making stuff for cats, can there?’

‘Not exactly,’ said Granny Battle leaning back in her chair and folding her arms. ‘But sort of.’


There we go! I’m not entirely sure about the cat-dragon-money-making thing – it might prove relevant later, but then again, it might not. I which case it’ll become the victim of The Big Red Pen. Okay, the delete key. But it’ll stay written somewhere, just in case the vague idea becomes relevant in some other story…


Update: Here’s the next chapter…
Chapter 6 – Battle Stations

Startled dragon wee…

27 01 2013

Evening all!

It’s time for another instalment of Granny Battle and Ellis – once again uncut, un-edited, splurged out and fresh as a newly laid cow-pat…

Update: Here are links to all previous chapters…
Chapter 1 – Crackleberries…
Chapter 2 – What happened next…
Chapter 3 – Tweaked odour eaters…

Chapter 4

‘It’s all to do with seeing, y’see,’ said Granny Battle over her shoulder, stirring the contents of the frying pan vigourously. She’d scooped the gloopy brown goo from the floor back into the pan, then scraped a few evil-looking greenish-brown berries from the back of Ellis’ pants and the bottom of shoes, and added them to the mixture. ‘Crackleberries,’ she’d said, ‘can’t waste ‘em. You stomped right through my crop.’

Ellis was sitting at the kitchen table feeling odd. He couldn’t stop sneaking glances at his t-shirt which was now minus one singed hole, and rubbing the hair on the side of his head that a few minutes ago had been stubble, and was now the normal tangle. He wasn’t quite sure how she’d done it. Actually, he wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to know how she’d done it. The side of his head felt… twinkly, for want of a better word – and he was very aware that twinkly wasn’t a good word for a boy. But that’s definitely how it felt.

Granny Battle gave the frying pan a vigorous shake, then turned the heat down and sat down at the table opposite him.

‘Seeing is what I does, and that’s what makes me a slooth.’ She folded her arms and leaned back in her chair. ‘I’ve been watching you, Ellis, since you were a toddler. You’ve got a bit of the see about you. You take after your dad.’

Ellis suddenly and felt himself going red, and a little surge of anger made his head feel cloudy.

‘What do you know about my dad?!’ he said hotly.

Granny leaned forward and rested her crossed arms on the table. ‘I knows lots. I knows he’s lost. And I knows where he is.’ She stuck her finger in her ear and wiggled it, then removed it and examined the tip. ‘I just don’t knows yet how to find him.’

Ellis was so shocked he forgot to be shocked when Granny wiped the tip of her finger on her cardigan.

‘But… lost is… lost means… I mean…. He’s…’ he struggled to get the word out. He could feel it, at the back of his mind, but he just couldn’t say it.

Granny leaned back in her chair, eyeing him smugly.

‘Y’see,’ she said, ‘You can’t say it, ‘cos you knows it’s not true. That’s the seeing in you, that is.’

Ellis stared at her, not knowing whether to laugh, cry, shout, scream or run away. Granny sighed.

‘Look, any of those would be expected, but I think the best thing would be if you stayed sat sitting there for a bit longer, and let me show you something about seeing. All right?’ She heaved herself up from the chair, bent down, picked up the orange cat, which was now looking like a perfectly normal – if slightly ravaged and battle-weary – orange cat, and plonked it down in the middle of the kitchen table.

‘Right then,’ she said to Ellis, who had momentarily forgotten his confusion and was leaning back in his chair warily and eying the cat with distrust.

See.’ said Granny Battle.

‘What?!’ he said, looking at her as if she was bonkers. Which, he reminded himself, everyone said she was and he was inclined to agree.

See,’ she repeated, ‘Have a good old stare – really hard. See what’s really there.’

Ellis looked back at the cat, then at Granny Battle, then back at the cat. Then he gave a little shrug and stared angrily at the cat. It glanced at him briefly, then looked away and began to wash its paws.

‘Not like that,’ said Granny, ‘Don’t glare, that won’t work. Just… look at it!’

Ellis made that little sound that means ‘What am I doing here? Why am I doing this? You’re bonkers! Why don’t I just go home?’ then, seeing Granny’s grin, felt rather uncomfortable so tried to relax in his chair and just look at the cat.

After a few seconds it stopped washing its paws and looked back at him.

He looked back harder.

It stared back at him flatly, flicked one ear, and began to look rather uncomfortable.

‘Don’t blink,’ said Granny Battle, who’d stood up and was watching them both carefully.

Ellis felt his eyes starting to water and fought the urge to blink, which was even stronger now after what Granny had just said. He felt the beginnings of a sneeze starting high up in his nose.

‘I think I’m going to sneeze,’ he said in a strained voice.

‘Don’t do that, you’ll make him jump!’ said Granny quickly. Ellis was aware of her backing away slightly, which was a bit worrying. He concentrated on not blinking and tried to force the sneezey feeling, which had crept nearer the end of his nose, back up. He could barely see the cat now for the tears in his eyes.

He sneezed.

In the split second his eyes closed, he heard the strangest, most un-catlike noise from the table in front of him, a crash from the other side of the kitchen which sounded rather like Granny falling over a chair, and something began to smell burney.

He opened his eyes and saw Granny picking herself up off the floor and trying to untangle herself from a chair. One of her trouser legs was smouldering, and she patted it out with a hasty oven-glove.

‘Well,’ she said brightly, ‘Well. I was right about the sneeze wasn’t I?’ She patted out another smoulder on her trouser leg, which had re-ignited, and waved the oven glove at the table.

Ellis looked.

The dragon was hunched rather self-consciously in the middle of the table in a small puddle of dragon-wee. It looked up at Ellis apologetically and blinked.

He blinked back, and was only mildly surprised to find it was still there when his eyes opened again.

A slow, slightly mad, grin began to spread across his face, and the dragon gave a genteel, smokey, hiccup then wrinkled its snout in what Ellis decided could only be a faintly embarrassed smile.


There we go! See you tomorrow!

Update: Here’s the next chapter…
Chapter 5 – Cats: The truth…

Tweaked odour eaters…

26 01 2013

Hello again!

Right, back to Granny Battle and Ellis. Some of you might have read this bit before, but I’ve tweaked it a bit so that it follows on better from yesterday’s new bit… We left Ellis following Granny Battle into her house…

Update: Here are links to all previous chapters…
Chapter 1 – Crackleberries…
Chapter 2 – What happened next…


Chapter 3

The old station building looked more like a small cottage than a station, except for the carved wooden decorations around the roof, and a sign on the wall that was so faded and peeling he couldn’t read it. Against the wall were a couple of benches and an old porter’s trolley, crammed with plantpots which seemed to contain nothing but dead twigs and weeds. The door stood open, and as Ellis stepped cautiously inside, a few things happened rather quickly.

First he noticed a smell, like a mixture of old, damp socks, smelly feet and soggy cabbage.

Next he heard the old lady shouting something that sounded like ‘Aaaaargyalittlebugger!’

Then a large frying pan flew over his head and clanged comically on the doorstep behind him.

Finally, the small orange dragon, which appeared to have somehow attached itself to the old lady’s head, suddenly shot off and landed skittishly on the floor in front of him, wheezing hard.

Ellis backed away and stepped in something that just felt… wrong.

‘Now then,’ said the old lady, patting her hair back into a slightly more respectable mess, ‘don’t move. You’ve just trodden in the Odour Eater I was making. Just hold still – once it works out that your feet don’t smell, it’ll loosen its grip. Er – your feet don’t smell, do they?’

Ellis shut his eyes tight and said ‘No!’ very quietly. Whatever he’d stepped in was slithering around his ankles, exploring inside his trainers and investigating between his toes. Suddenly it stopped slithering and started to quiver.

‘Oh dear,’ the old lady said, ‘I thought you said you didn’t have smelly feet?’

‘I don’t!’ squeaked Ellis. The quivering got faster and faster, then suddenly it stopped, and whatever it was slithered off his feet. Ellis opened his eyes and looked down. He was standing in the middle of a splat of gloopy brown goo. He looked up at the old lady in horror.

‘Come on, come on,’ she said, ‘You’re all right now, obviously just a borderline case. I’d do something about that though, before it gets any worse. Step off it, quick now!’

Ellis stepped out the splat as quickly as he could and ventured further into the kitchen, edging around the small orange dragon, which was now looking distinctly furry again and was licking its shoulder catishly.

The old lady put the frying pan down on the table, crossed her arms, and stared hard at him. ‘You’re the boy from number 23,’ she stated, ‘Ellis. You live with your mum, and you lost your dad when you were four-and-quarter. Close your mouth and nod.’

Ellis closed his mouth and nodded. ‘What was going on?!‘, he thought?

‘I’ll get to that,’ said the old lady dismissively. ‘I’m Granny Battle.’ She stuck her hand out suddenly and Ellis jumped. Then, as she seemed to expect him to shake it, he did, carefully.

‘I’m a slooth,’ said Granny Battle.

‘Don’t you mean a sleuth?’ asked Ellis, hearing the spelling mistake.

‘No,’ said Granny Battle, ‘Not a sleuth, a slooth. There’s a very big difference.’


To finish with, I’ve dug out a couple of links to previous Granny Battle-ish posts – one contains a picture of Granny Battle’s house (sort of!), and the other has a few old sketches from my tube-commuting days to Colindale back in the early/mid 1990s – as you can see, the idea for Granny Battle has been kicking around for quite some time!

That’s all for now – will there be more Granny Battle tomorrow? Hmmmm, we’ll just have to see where my head’s at…

Update: Here’s the next chapter…
Chapter 4 – Startled dragon wee…

What happened next…

25 01 2013

Good evening!

Remember the Crackleberries post? With the first bit of the Granny Battle story? About a boy called Ellis?

Well, here’s the next bit… once again, raw and rough, splurged out and barely edited… Hope you enjoy it!


Chapter 2

Ellis opened his eyes, eased himself up on his elbows, and nearly screamed. A massive eyeball filled his vision, then receded slightly until it was two massive eyeballs surrounded by the loudest and ugliest pair of glasses he’d ever seen. He shuffled backwards on his bottom, stopping exactly on a large thistle. He opened his mouth to scream again, and below the loud and ugly glasses a hole appeared and a scratchy voice said,

‘Oh, for goodness sake – stop being such a big girl and get up.’

He was so surprised he got up, rubbing his bottom where the thistle had got him.

Standing in front of him was a short, dumpy old lady. She could have been your common or garden dumpy old lady, were it not for the fact that she was a) as previously mentioned, sporting the loudest and ugliest pair of glasses he’d ever seen, b) wearing what looked like chain-mail gloves that reached over her elbows, and c) was gripping in her left hand a small, orange dragon by the scruff of its neck. It dangled slackly, wearing a distinct expression of embarrassment.
She looked him up and down, and shook her head, tutting loudly.

‘Come on then, follow me,’ she said peevishly, ‘We can’t send you home looking like that can we?’

Like what?‘ Ellis thought to himself, still being a bit too stunned to vocalise.

‘Like that,’ the old lady said, waving her free hand vaguely in the direction of his left shoulder.

He suddenly became aware of the burny smell that had been tickling his nostrils, and twisted his head to look at his shoulder. There was a rather large, singed hole in his t-shirt, and reaching up to the side of his head, he found that where his hair had been been there was now a crunchy patch of stubble.

Then he realised what had just happened.

‘Oh, it’s not hard,’ the old lady said, ‘and no, you didn’t,’ as Ellis thought ‘How the… how did she… Did I say that out loud after all?’

By the time Ellis had recovered himself enough to remember to blink, the old lady had scrambled up onto the old platform and was stomping towards a gate in the battered old white fence, the orange dragon swinging from one hand, the other hand impatiently indicating him to follow.

Ellis blinked again, then for want of anything else to do, and still rubbing his thistled bottom, he heaved himself up onto the platform and followed.


Oh, this is fun!

Righty-ho readers, until tomorrow…

Update: Here’s the next chapter…
Chapter 3 – Tweaked odour eaters…