Monthly Archives: August 2007

The voice of God – Part 1

The cloisters were becoming cold now as the light began to fade. Frank’s breath was visible as he sat on the bench thinking. He was absentmindedly fiddling with his rosary which was making a clicking noise each time the different parts clacked together. Frank was nervous. In fact he was cold and nervous. He’d never been convinced of a cassock in winter and sitting out in the cold like this was… Well mainly it was making him need to go to the toilet.

He looked back over his shoulder and he could see all of the other priests standing inside at the windows looking out at him. They looked warm in there. In fact Frank could see that the windows were misting up. A few of them were giving Frank encouraging signals, the odd thumbs up, a little wave. But most of them looked worried too. In fact they mainly looked worried and a bit excited.

Frank had always hoped to hear the voice of God. He’d kind of always expected it to appear at some point in his life. When he’d first heard about God as a boy something had clicked in his universe. The world made sense when it had happened and from then on he’d always known he had been called. But he had always hoped for something a little bit more direct. He’d actually always wanted something a bit more concrete. By the time he went to seminary school he’d started to think that perhaps he would have to prove himself worthy. That he’d have to dedicate himself to God before God would show himself. That, Frank realised, was faith.

At seminary Frank discovered that the way the church dealt with the lack of a speaking God was to teach the young priests that the warm feeling of comfort that had drawn them into the church was the voice of God. That God’s influence was more a feeling than a walk-on part. At that stage Frank’s hope that God would personally talk to him took a hit, but he was still young and he had hope. Over the years that hope had faded. Frank had been teaching seminary for thirty years now and had dispensed the same message. And yet the hope had never quite gone away.

And tonight God had spoken to Frank. God’s voice, sounding exactly as he’d imagined it would had boomed across his brain at dinner. It had told him to stand up and leave the table. And it had told him to walk out of the main building and into the cloisters. It asked him to take the key from the inside side of the door and lock the door from the outside. And then it asked Frank to walk to each of the doors around the cloisters and do the same. And when he had done that God asked Frank to sit down. To sit down where he was sitting now. And wait. To wait for God to reveal himself.

About twenty minutes ago God had arrived. And while Frank had always expected to hear God he’d never expected to see him. And he certainly hadn’t expected him to be a twenty foot long red dragon.

What’s going on?

So a couple of weeks ago I rather grandly announced that I would be writing less on gamboling and more of the stuff I am supposed to be writing. I think gamboling has now settled down to the around three or four posts a week that I intended which leaves the a question: So what is the stuff that I’m supposed to be writing?

I am working on a tv pilot and a novel. I have to be a bit more secretive about the pilot because a part of what makes a pilot work is it’s concept. But that won’t stop me talking about the process. Because it will be easier to keep track of I’m going to take a word out of the title of the screenplay and use that to label all of the posts. That way every time you see the word Sheets you’ll know it’s about the screenplay.

On the other hand I’m happy to talk about the novel and what that’s about. The novel is about the character Inspector Citron. He is a rarity in the world of detective fiction in that he’s a first person character. I’ve been writing the novel on and off (more off than on) for two years. Near the beginning of the year Citron even made an appearance in a short story here. It gives an impression of the kind of thing Citron will be about.

So yes. I feel it’s time to talk about them properly on the site because that’s likely to make it seem more real. Then I won’t have any excuse not to finish.

Sarah – Part 4

Sarah looked at the door. The light was doing strange things now. It looked like the door was bulging out towards her. She looked back at Steven.

“What should I do?”

“That’s what you have to decide.”

“But I’m scared. I think I should just go home. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. I just thought you wanted to go on an adventure.”

“I do, but I want to know what’s going to happen. I want to know what to expect.”

“But,” said Steven, “that’s not an adventure then is it? That’s like a theme park ride.”

Sarah looked at Steven. His bright blue eyes were looking very deeply into hers. He seemed to be half imploring her to go and half upset to be having to explain everything.

Sarah didn’t know what to do. She looked down at the table. Every normal, sensible part of her brain was telling her to flee. But there was something so desperately fascinating about the door. She got up and walked towards it. The ground seemed to be getting hotter and hotter as she got closer and closer to the door. She worried for a second about touching the metal handle. So she pulled her sleeve down over her hand and opened the door. The white light flooded the whole room. Sarah could hardly look forward. But she stepped gingerly over the threshold. And the door slammed behind her. Steven wasn’t with her.

Sarah turned and she realised that she couldn’t see anything. Everything in all directions was white. She closed her eyes and opened them nothing had changed. She closed her eyes again and held them closed for longer. The light was so bright that even having her eyes closed didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Everything was simply pink instead of white.

Sarah could suddenly feel something soft on her back. And a breeze. Some slight breeze was curling across her face. She opened her eyes and she realised she was back in the field lying in the grass. Sarah felt like she’d just woken up.

It couldn’t have been a dream, thought Sarah. It had seemed far too real for that. She’d had vivid dreams before but only quick moments nothing as sustained as this.

Sarah couldn’t believe that it had only been a dream. It was so disappointing. She stood up. Deciding to go back home. As she picked up her book something fell out and landed on the grass. It was the picture Steven had taken of her. And on the bottom in the white section there was some writing:

“Choosing to go through the door means that you’re ready. I’ll come and fetch you in a few days. P.T.O.”

Sarah turned over the polaroid and on the bottom of this side it said:

“By the way you’ve been spelling my name wrong in your mind, love, Stephen Shawe”.

Sarah walked down the hill not knowing what to expect next.

Stephen and Sarah will return.


Arthur’s brother Clive didn’t eat fruit generally, however I just kinda left melon nearby. Obviously passionate, quintessentially Romanian, somewhat tough, unfortunately verbose, wickedly xenophobic, yet zen, Arthur’s brother Clive didn’t eat fruit.

Sarah – Part 3

[This is Part 3 of 4 in the 4 part short story Sarah. If you’re interested then you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 first.]

Sarah had never walked this way down the hill before. She’d always meant to but once she’d got to the top of the hill she’d always stopped there. It was always as though a piece of elastic was tying her to home. But while it was strange, Sarah was quietly relieved. She hadn’t wanted to walk into a pub with this guy and find a bunch of her friends there instantly judging him. She wasn’t ready to share him yet.

They walked down the hill in near silence. Sarah could hear a bird twittering. Sarah always imagined when she heard this particular kind of bird that it was making cat calls at her. Like there was a group of builder birds who said things like, “oh yes we’ll build your nest extension and bird bath for you obviously, but that birch twig finish you’re after Mrs Robin… It’ll cost ya extra”. She imagined that these builder birds whistled at her but she thought it might sound a little mad and so she didn’t mention it to Steven.

The ground started to level out and soon they were walking on a country lane. There was a distinct smell of tilled earth mixed with the unmistakable pong of manure. Luckily this passed after a second. Steven paused for a moment and took in an artificially deep breath and said, “Ah, I love the smells of the countryside. Now if I’m not mistaken the pub must be just around this corner”.

Steven picked up his pace and Sarah followed. There, as promised, was the pub. It was an old stone building with flowers in hanging baskets. The only thing missing, Sarah thought, was a beer garden. Steven walked up to the door, opened it and stepped inside – holding the door open behind him. Sarah walked in behind him. She hadn’t been sure about the idea of going to the pub the whole time she’d been walking down the hill. Sarah couldn’t quite see how going to the pub seemed very adventurer-ish. As she was actually crossing the threshold she suddenly wondered what kind of drink he would have.

Sarah walked past Steven and into the pub. It had a cold stone floor which made the room feel very refreshing after the heat of the sunshine and the walk down the hill. She walked forward towards the bar and couldn’t help but notice that bartender only had one arm. Steven was right behind her, he walked closer to the bartender and said, “a pint of Guinness and a packet of peanuts please Pete”.

Pete looked over at Sarah, “what’ll it be for you missy?”

He didn’t wait for her, he’d already started moving over towards the Guinness pump. There was a “clack” on every alternate step – clearly Pete only had one leg as well. Sarah realised she was staring at him a little bit, and she looked round to Steven. Steven looked at her and smiled.

“Interested in old Pete eh? You’re right to be, he’s an interesting fellow Pete.”

“Urgh,” said Pete.

“You’re being too modest Pete. Pete used to be an adventurer too. Sadly he got a little bit too friendly with a crocodile. Now he serves drinks for a living.”

“And peanuts,” says Pete.

“What,” asked Steven, “would you like? I’d recommend the Guinness.”

“I don’t really like Guinness I’m afraid.”

“Ah, well then you better try something else. I never have so I can’t really recommend anything.”

“Can I have a whiskey?”


Pete walked towards the side of the bar and found a stool. He carried it back and started to climb on it and then, after steadying himself, reached up and plucked a bottle of whiskey off of the top shelf. He took out two glasses. Poured a large measure into both and then put the bottle back and kicked the stool out of the way. He picked up both of the glasses and thrust one towards Sarah. And then, looking at the other glass he said, “well I may as well toast a lassie who likes whiskey. Cheers.”

Steven managed to rescue his stout from the wrong side of the bar where it had been settling and they all toasted Sarah – even though Sarah seemed a tad confused by the whole thing. Pete took the end of the toast as a signal to shuffle off again and Steven tipped his head in the direction of a table in the corner of the room.

As they walked towards the table Sarah realised that it wasn’t quite a corner. The room wasn’t quite square and the table was in a little corridor. As they sat at the table Sarah found she was facing away from the main pub, she was looking down the corridor at a closed door.

“So,” said Steven.

“So,” said Sarah.


“Yes. I…”

“What? Go on…”

“I,” said Sarah, “I was going to say, I was going to say the whole way down the hill that going to the pub didn’t feel like going on an adventure. But now I’m not so sure. I hadn’t expected Pete for a start.”

“No, not many people expect Pete.”

“And to an extent it’s an adventure for me simply because I’ve never been on this side of the hill, and here I am with a strange man, but for you it isn’t really an adventure is it? You’ve been on this side of the hill before, you’ve been to this pub before, drunk that Guinness.”

“Well not this particular pint of Guinness no, but would you be trying to claim with all of that that you aren’t a strange girl?”

“I’m not strange? I’m perfectly normal.”


“I am. I’m boring.”

“I don’t believe that. You might be bored but you’re not boring.”

“Can’t you be both?”
“People can, but not you. Your mind is too inquisitive.”

As he had been speaking Sarah had been noticing that a light behind the door was getting brighter and brighter. She was about to say something but then Steven said, “How many people do you think imagine birds are wolf-whistling at them?”
“What?” Sarah said, the light was getting brighter, but she couldn’t ignore what Steven had just said. “How could you know that?”

“I can’t tell you that for a moment. But it’s true isn’t it.”


“Things like that make you interesting. You never tell anyone about it because you fear what people might think of you. What you don’t realise is that admitting to the interesting things about you might make people more interested in you rather than less.”

Sarah could hardly ignore the door now. Bright white light was shining all around it and through the keyhole. Rays were dancing on the ceiling and floor, patterns on the walls and the light switch were so bright they were difficult to look at. She looked back at Steven.

“Ignore the door.”

“Just for a moment.”


“Admit that you are interesting and you don’t need something to happen to you to prove it.”


“Ignore the door.”

Sarah looked straight at Steven. His blue eyes really were amazingly bright, even in the relative darkness compared to what she had just been looking at. What had she been looking at? She faltered for a second wanting to look back at the door. But she could see in Steven’s eyes a pleading for her not to look.

“Okay,” she said, “I admit it. I am more interesting than I normally admit.”

“Good then,” said Steven, “now you are ready to decide. Do you want to go through the door?”

[Check back next Friday for the final part of the story.]

Do wasps think of the air…

Like fish think of the sea?

Reverse thumbsucking

Antonia has mentioned sucking one’s thumb over on her blog and I couldn’t help but remember why I had stopped.

My parents despaired of me sucking my thumb when I was a lad. But then one of their friends came over to dinner. Completely unprompted by my parents he noticed that I was sucking my thumb and he sidled over to me.

He said, “hey I see you’re sucking your thumb – that’s pretty cool”.

And after ages of my parents telling me that it was the devil’s work my immediate thought was “yes, this is pretty cool”. We connected immediately.

Then he said, “I wish I could still do that”.

Which I have to admit made me feel a little nervous, what possible reason could there be for not sucking your thumb other than because “your parents want you to”?

So I asked, “why can’t you”?

And he said, “well I don’t want to go completely bald do I”?

And I never sucked my thumb again. Thanks Fred.

It’s the night before the night before her wedding

It’s the night before the night before the wedding. She comes home and throws the keys in the basket. Picks up the post off the matt. Flicks distractedly through it and wanders into the kitchen. She opens the fridge, finds some white wine from last night and pours it into a glass from the cupboard. Back to the fridge she takes some onions and garlic. Back at the board she starts to chop and slice the onions. With the garlic she takes the flat of the knife and smashes it onto the side of the garlic, some of her aggression flows with it. She smashes it again knowing that it doesn’t really need it, just because.

She takes pans from the cupboard, sips from the glass and slowly lets her day drift away on a cloud of routine cooking and alcohol. For a moment everything is calm but then a thought enters her mind and quick as a flash her hand flicks on Radio 4. No thinking and cooking, she’s learned that doesn’t work.

Midway through sauteing the onions he gets back, throws his keys in the basket, flicks through the post and turns on the tv. He’s in there, she knows he is, because she can hear him flicking between channels. She wants him to acknowledge her and while she knows she could call out to him she lets him come to her.

The adverts come and he strolls into the kitchen leaving the tv on even though he knows it annoys her, he sidles up, gives her a kiss, steals some food, wanders off to the fridge for a beer and says, “so what’s for dinner”.

“Are you sure you want to get married?” She asks matter-of-factly. She turns off Radio 4; she wasn’t listening to it anyway.

“Not really.”

He opens his can and takes a large swig. Looks at her and takes another one. She reaches for her wine and finishes the glass in one.

“No. Neither am I.”

Sarah – Part 2

[This is Part 2 of 4 in the 4 part short story Sarah. If you’re interested then you may want to read Part 1 first.]

As she looked up and saw him she could see… he was beautiful. Not rugged or handsome but beautiful. He had an aquiline nose and blonde, slightly longer than regulation, hair. It rustled in front of her as he bent towards her, and seemed to frame a halo above him.

“Who are you?”, she asked.

“Oh,” he said, slightly straightening back up, “my name is Steven Shaw”.

“That sounds like a name out of an adventure book”

“It does rather, doesn’t it? Well I think I’m on the right track then”.

“What do you mean?,” Sarah asked.

“Well adventuring is kind of what I do,” he paused for a second as though realising the lack of sense he might be making but then added, “for a living”, which didn’t really help.

Sarah pushed herself up off of her back and supported herself on her arms. She looked at him for a bit and wondered what she made of him. She decided to push on rather than telling him to get lost.

“What are you doing here?”

“I live here when I’m not travelling. Well, not here in this field, but just down the hill. So what do you do?”

“I… I… I don’t seem to do much of anything.”


“Nothing much.”

Sarah wondered why she had said that. She had suddenly felt what she did was less important somehow. That what she did was somehow less than what?

“How can you be an adventurer?,” she asked, “they don’t exist.”

“They do in your book,” he gestured to where it lay beside Sarah.

She looked down at it, it had been well-loved and was slightly frayed at the edges. It looked really pretty folded open, sitting in amongst the blades of grass. She wished she had had her camera with her. She looked up at the man suddenly remembering something. He had a Polaroid camera slung round his neck.

“Do you think you could take a picture of my book in the grass? It looks so lovely lying there.”

“Of course,” he replied and he quickly crouched down beside her to get close enough to take the picture.

Sarah could smell his scent now which was a delicate mix of sandalwood and musk. He carefully took the picture and the click-wurr action of the camera did the rest. He carefully held the emerging picture with one hand while letting the camera fall back to his side with the other. He passed the picture to her. She waved it vaguely in the warm air. Then she looked at it. It really had captured the colours well. She picked up her book and placed the photograph in between the pages making it into an impromptu book mark.

She looked back up at him. She could see, now that she was this close, that his bright blue eyes were flecked with grey.

“So how can you be an adventurer?”

He held out his hand and said, “let me explain in the pub”.

She looked around. Until he had mentioned anything she had felt utterly content. But now she realised that she was actually quite thirsty. “Okay,” she said, “but where?”

“Don’t worry,” he replied while helping her up, “follow me”.

Check back next Friday for part 3.

Do naturists…

…have nightmares where they realise they are the only one at their job interview wearing clothes?