The Secret People

I’ve written a few poems today but it’s kind of in lieu of anything more meaty. I found some stuff in a notebook and it made me think about the whole process of where ideas come from. I’ve put a bit of that over at:

But then words started spinning in my mind and the following was the result. I don’t tend to go for rhyming couplets but it just happened like that, so…


The Secret People


The Secret People are inside my head

The Secret People wait beside my bed

They wait until I fall asleep

Then climb right in and dig in deep

Their voices whisper the whole night long

They tell me stories, they’ll sing their song

Yet when I wake and open my eyes
Their tales are just elaborate lies

Sound and fury and nothing more

And yet they thrill me to the core

Inspiring me to write their words

Before they fly like frightened birds

The Secret People are inside my mind

But the Secret People are never kind

They’ll use me as their living tool

To write their stories and be their fool

Until one day I’ll wake and see

The Secret People have fled from me

A scrap of my life

Covent Garden April 09


A scrap of my life:

Perched on a kerbstone,

Sun hot on one side,

Shade and cool the other,

I watch as feet shod in rainbows

Glitter and catch the fleeing sun;

The endless to and fro

As people of all nations and ages

Stride or dawdle across pavements.

A busker sings Scarborough Fair

Making me feel old and young

In just one brief moment.

The sky: blue and cotton wool.

A breeze tickles my face

With stray hairs while

A sneeze lurks unfulfilled.

Smells of food and coffee

Soap, perfume and petrol

Drift like cunning ghosts

As waves of people wander past.

There’s a hum as if a hundred

Excited crickets all thrummed

And sang in unison:

Twenty languages in ten minutes.

Feet aching, I rest, create a space

Within the hubbub and bustle

Where I can be alone inside,

Enjoying the chance just to BE.

The sun warms the stones, tiny puddles

Shrink and vanish, their furtive gleams

Whispering out, leaving dust and debris

Where silver rain once lay.

Forty-five minutes remain.

Shall I stay or go?

Legs aching, I stay.

Old Cow

Old Cow


From town to town the old cow lows,

Foghorns mooing across the miles;

Unseen cattle calling their herd.

Thick fog wreaths shoreline and sea

Turning mundane matters into mystical,

Hiding dull drabness with veils of white

The mist burns off by mid afternoon

And the sun chases clouds away.

Now that the day is come clear,

Where do the fog-cows graze?

Lost and Found

Last week, I lost my wedding ring. It’s not my real wedding ring which is too small to wear when my joints swell up with the occasional bout of arthritis, but one my husband bought me on our 20th wedding anniversary. It was made of fairtrade silver from Bali and had a central band of Celtic knots that spins independently of the rest of the ring. I’ve had a lot of entertainment from that ring (I’m a simple soul, really)

I searched high and low and even ended up cleaning into corners that had been untouched for months. Not a sign. But I found: the dog’s tennis ball, a couple of errant tubs of lipbalm belonging to various members of the household, a pendant I had bought as a birthday present for someone and then lost (it was under my printer!) an assortment of other small things and a lot of dust bunnies. I even emptied bins and the hoover, and the recycling bin.

I came to the conclusion that the faeries had nicked it. I know how silly this sounds to people who don’t believe in faeries, but my experience is that there are beings who are very playful and sometimes very naughty who move items in some houses. I’m not actually disorganised as such and I’m not untidy, but there have been times when things of vital use have vanished utterly from where all can confirm they were put and despite frantic searching, of every possible corner, pocket, bag, box and shelf, the item is not there. I once had my car keys vanish when I needed them urgently and having turned out my pockets repeatedly and tear the house apart, I found them an hour later…IN THE POCKET I HAD TURNED INSIDE OUT, in front of witnesses. The same happened with the candlestick from Cluedo; it turned up in the murder envelope, which had previously been empty of all but the 3 cards.

The house we had in Darkest Norfolk was especially prone to this sort of episode; it affected guests and inhabitants alike. That house had darker secrets I may write about another time, but it’s not for today.

I can’t express my relief to find the ring again nor my amusement at the means of recovery.

I was getting dressed after my usual shower, and I went into my undies drawer for clean underpinnings, and as I pulled out a pair of knickers, the ring seemingly materialised from inside them.

Well, where else do you return a wedding ring? It seems the faeries have a naughty sense of humour !

A small but deep kind of magic


A very strange and magical thing has been happening today.

Something that baffles people even today as much as it must have baffled the ancients.

Bees arrived.

We set up our hive in the garden, not intending to leave it there, but because we’re incurable optimists, we added the tiny vial of bee pheromone. Nothing happened. We saw a bee or two have a little look and then vanish.

Then this morning one appeared that seemed to be taking a very keen interest and going inside. Later this afternoon, I was sitting in the garden and noticed not one but six or seven bees going in and out. Not daring to take the lid off, I fetched one of our stethoscopes (yes, we have about ten; it’s a long story) and listened at the side of the hive. Rising like the sound of distant chain saws came the noise of buzzing from deep within the cedarwood walls.

Bees have arrived. I’m not sure yet if they’ve come to rob the pristine frames of wax but I don’t think so.

Magic, old and deep as nature herself has happened. Yes, we helped it along maybe with the pheromones, but even so, no one is very sure how any of this works. As far as I am aware, there are no hives near us and yet, bees found this hive and moved in.

Amazing, isn’t it?

edited at 7pm.

Been out in my beesuit and found that I was mistaken and they haven’t yet moved in. But bees keep popping in and out and since my teacher tells me they don’t steal wax, I can only conclude that these are still scouts and they are still making up their(hive)mind whether this is the des.res. of their dreams.

Fingers crossed…..

The Healing Power of Writing

I’m sitting up here while a concoction of tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, spinach and quinoa bubbles away downstairs in the kitchen. The smell of garlic, paprika and herbs de Provence rises steadily, reminding me of my tendency to mix and match things even in my culinary experiments as well as my literary ones. I’m going out a bit later for my beekeeping course and we need to eat early as we need to be at the Bee Centre at seven tonight.

I realised something rather profound today. Well, profound for me at any rate. When I sat down to write Seminar yesterday I set out to simply record what had happened, to get it down in black and white so I could look at it objectively and get over it. It didn’t happen. As I said somewhere in the comments, I got as far as the giggling of goblins and then the piece took a life of its own and took me with it. It was a great ride, too!

I certainly don’t claim it as great literature, but I will claim it as healing literature for me. I let something happen; I relinquished control and let a different side of me work. The side of me that is lighter hearted, mischevious and slightly childish needed to appear to save the very adult me from swallowing myself up in wails of “It’s not fair!” and my inevitable retreat into my default setting of mildly suicidal depression. I found I could laugh at the situation and take it a lot less seriously than I had before. I could see things for what they were. Oh, I believe in faeries and goblins and all that stuff, by the way but the ones we have to fear the most are the ones who have become semi-human, like the ones in Seminar. You can’t spot them for what they are unless you are trained to see it.

It’s also reminded me that I have a gift with words. I’d got a bit lost about that, really. I’d forgotten that I could write, just like that, at the drop of the proverbial hat and LET IT JUST COME. You see, the chief goblin had stolen my gift for a while. She made me believe, subconsciously at any rate, that to write you have to plan and edit and agonise and nit-pick and fiddle endlessly to be a writer.

Bollocks! To be a writer, you just need to write. To be a singer, you sing, to be a dancer, you dance. To fly, the bird opens her wings and takes off. She doesn’t spend hours studying aero-dynamics and so on; she just flies.

To be a good writer, you have to write a lot. You serve an apprenticeship where you write rubbish, but you learn your trade and if you’re lucky you might get a mentor.  But to simply be a writer, good, bad, brilliant or indifferent, the only thing you  need to do is to write.

Writing a daft story about goblins healed something in me. I hope that healing extended a little to my readers too

Contact Points, a book plug

It’s taken me longer than I intended to write this post and for this I apologise.

I’m doing a little bit of a book plug, for a friend. It’s a very unusual little book in terms of its subject matter, and for that subject matter, it’s also unusual  because of it’s down to earth and non-sensational approach to an area that is hopelessly prone to drama and sensationalism.

Contact Points is a series of short essays about the communication of the dead with the living, and was written by Elaine Moss. You can read more about the book and why Elaine wrote it at

I’ve known Elaine for quite a long time, really, as the wife of a lecturer who taught my husband some branch of chemistry back in the dim and distant past when he was an undergraduate, but we didn’t meet up until some years later.

Now, part of the reason that my husband and I got to know John and Elaine Moss was because we were feeling increasingly isolated within the wider church, and especially in the Church of England, because of our interests in the paranormal aspects of spirituality. I’ve been a sort of visionary and mystic most of my life and like many before me, found it hard to fit in with a community that is, in essence, terrified of this sort of thing. We had a lovely long chat once day with Elaine and John and felt a lot better  to hear we were not freaks or apostates. 

It was a good many years later before I finally joined The Churches Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies and discovered that I was far from alone. You can find a link to their wesbite if you click on the useful links on Elaine’s website. It’s not kept as up-to-date as it ought to be but it’ll give you more information about them.

Elaine kindly sent me a copy of her book after I read it at my friend Kate’s. Kate has been helping Elaine edit and then market and distribute the book, and I found the book both intriguing and comforting. I dislike anything that hypes up the whole Ghost Whisperer kind of thing and Elaine’s book is delightfully understated and very English in many ways. When I first met Elaine she was working on breeding daffodils; I believe she now works on carnations! You can’t get more English than that!

If you do decide to buy a copy, I’d advise you to buy it direct from Elaine rather than Amazon if you can. This way she gets more money; Amazon don’t pay much! That said, Elaine isn’t terribly interested in making any money back, but Kate, who’s effectively her agent, is keen that the book reaches at many people at possible.

The book doesn’t give definitive answers, something I liked, and it raises a lot more questions too. Have a read through the website, and if it interests you, have a look at the CFPSS website too. It shows the churches in a very different light from the one you may be used to.


I decide to ease my mind by writing a short story and it kind of took a life of its own….



The blue blinds billow silently as the breeze catches them, and a snatch of giggling emerges from the room within.


I sigh. I had a feeling already that this was going to be one of those hours of my life, stolen away by goblins and lost forever. Giggling goblins at that, the worst sort.


Most of those at the gathering are human, or enough so to qualify for the title, though an experienced goblin hunter knows enough to realise looks aren’t everything.


I mean, the chief goblin actually looks far more like an elf with a problem with self-esteem and personal hygiene. Take away the  facial piercings and the mantis-like figure and she’d almost pass for human. In the dim light of a nightclub, with your beer goggles on, she’d pass for all right for an off-night.


They don’t know who I am, of course. They think they do, but they’ve gotten careless in recent years and while it’s taken me a few years to track down this nest, I’m here now and they trust me. They think I’m a nice doormat of a teacher who is painfully eager to please and a pushover for other staff to manipulate. They can’t deny I’m a good teacher, but I still never get my dues and I get passed over for more popular newcomers for the plum jobs.


It’s a good cover and no one in the chief goblin’s coterie has the faintest idea of what’s coming. Actually, nor have I. I haven’t finalised my plan yet, but I’ve got my little bottle of Holy water in my pocket, just in case. I’ve been biding my time for the last two or so years, sometimes forgetting myself just who I am and what I am doing here.


I slip in, trying to be unobtrusive but a colleague accosts me for a hug. I’m not sure exactly what he is but I smile warmly but distractedly before seeking a seat at the very back. These briefings, so pretentiously designated as “Staff seminars” are utterly tedious but I can feel the tension coming off the newcomers like sweat in a Turkish bath. Some of them even clutch pens to take notes.


The usual format of introductions trickles by, glacially slow, and then the real meat begins.

I switch off. I’ve heard it all before. I filter it all out and just watch as the chief goblin cavorts manically, her face twisting into grotesque imitation of smiles. She can’t resist mangling language, turning innocuous words into parodies of themselves by adding extra letters. It’s supposed to be funny but it’s painful, or it would be if she were actually human. If she were human she’d be ashamed of the crimes she’s committed tonight against the English language. As it is, I can see the rough line of her spine emerging from her tunic, and the typical goblin scales and knobs are almost fully visible tonight. To a human she just looks mildly anorexic, and without any sense of sartorial style.


I’ve not been certain before tonight but it seems now that the boss is not a goblin at all but a human enchanted, enthralled by this creature and manipulated to her bidding. Well, that’s good. There are two more goblins, young ones, present, as far as I can see, and a few others I’m not certain of. With the chief goblin dealt with, the two youngsters will flee, and any others will retreat, I think. That is, if I do anything. But I don’t think I will. Not tonight.


The young one is speaking now and I feel a rush of sudden anger. A whole host of options fill my mind. I want to shout and protest at this gross imposition of extra, unpaid work, all because a few individuals want to put on a show. The humans have no idea how much work they’re imposing, but the goblins have calculated it to the nth degree. They go so far as the next-to-last straw that breaks the camel’s back, and then stop. It’s a form of torture they’re very good at. There’s no fun if people realise what’s going on and say no. But like frogs in hot water we just accept and accept and accept until our flesh falls away and we become soup for goblins. Of course, this is all a metaphor. Goblins haven’t eaten humans in millennia, except for a few rare cases that have been poorly documented.


The humans are sitting there smiling and I can see the magic dust twinkling in the evening sunlight. Every time the chief goblin moves clouds of it stream off her like dandruff and it pacifies everyone. I can hear a few dissenting thoughts but no one voices any concerns.


The hour is up and a minion, who is probably a goblin goes off to get drinks ready and like the good little slave I am I go through to help. Enough is enough. While her back is turned I add Holy Water to the bowl of fruity punch and to the wine. It won’t harm the humans but it’s going to be interesting what it does to the goblins. It’s been a long time since I did this and I’ll be glad to get it over with. I’ve had to breathe through an inhaler daily to survive the dust, though everyone thinks it’s Ventolin, and I’d like to breathe properly again.


“Here’s to the new term!” says the chief goblin, raising her glass of punch and clinking it with that of the goblin minion next to her. I can see her skin throwing off yet more dust and an artificial joviality fills the room like the office Christmas party, fuelled by cheap wine and white lines. Goblin magic is more subtle these days than it used to be but it IS effective.


She slings the whole glass down her throat and as I watch, she starts to shrink, her loud voice crying out shrill but diminishing rapidly as she dwindles from almost six feet tall to a speck on the carpet.

The curious thing is that no one notices her vanish; I guess it must be the magic. Minds simply edit her out of the story and restore it to where it might have been if she’d not been there


The two young goblins stare at where she was, their eyes full of horror and their mouths still full of juice. There’s a dilemma going on here: spit or swallow?


In the end, they spit, but discreetly into a pot plant. When they come back I can see their magic has faded almost to nothing just from having it in their mouths and know they are no danger to me, or anyone for many years. You can’t kill a goblin but you can make their lives very unpleasant.


“Why don’t you two go and wash the glasses?” I suggest with a smile.


“Yes, Boss,” they chorus and as they walk away, trying not to abase themselves and as they creep past me, a faint mosquito whine rises from the carpet.


It’s going to be decades before she comes back from that one.              


The Little Ease

Much of today I’ve felt on the brink of tears. No special reason; nothing dreadful has happened. I’ve misplaced my wedding ring; not my original one, that has long been to small, but one we bought two years ago. I suspect the faeries have borrowed it but it’s sent me scurrying in corners and turning out piles of books and magazines, and making me anxious in the process. Correction: more anxious.

Those of you who are here regularly will know I have a tendency to suffer from anxiety, though externally I rarely show it. My mask is one of unflappability. But inside I am often a seething mass of undefined and unfocussed anxiety.

Let me now introduce you to my companion of late: The Little Ease. I couldn’t find a picture so I will write you one instead.

The Little Ease was a delightful invention of the oh-so-inventive middle ages, and is basically a device for torture. Before you start imagining thumb screws and Iron maidens, the Little Ease was rather more subtle than those imposters. It wasn’t designed to cripple or maim. Well, not quickly anyway. It consisted of a small metal cage with several strategically placed spikes; don’t worry about the spikes, they’re almost decorative. The cage admitted one, though I suspect some devillish bastard doubled up the occupants for fun. It wasn’t long enough to lie down in, nor tall enough to stand up in, and the spikes(remember the spikes, oh my best beloved?) was so placed as to stop the occupant from sitting down. That’s it: the Little Ease.

Doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Think again. You can’t straighten out or stretch or lie down or even just sit. You are trapped in a perpetual crouch. You can’t lean against anything because of the spikes. If you drop off to sleep in that crouch, you fall and bash your face against the point of a spike.

People were put in them for years.


One man apparently lived in one for seventeen years and when released lived to a respectable old age.

I don’t know about his age beforehand or his mental health afterwards either.

Now imagine you are in that cage with the amusing name.

Nasty isn’t it?

That’s what my head inside feels like this evening. I can’t get comfortable to save my life; I can’t find a posture that isn’t agony after an hour or two. I don’t know when they’re coming to let me out and I can’t even remember who put me in here.

I have a seminar for work this evening (unpaid) and maybe that might be why I’ve been feeling so anxious, as there’s a lot going on that I dislike and find upsetting. I’ve tried meditating but I keep getting the error message.

So if you happen to be walking past my personal little ease, do me a favour, if you can’t fetch me the key, at least chuck me a pillow or something!


One-eyed Dreaming

The night before last I had some strange dreams that seemed to me to be full of symbolism and meaning.

I’m not entirely sure of the order of all these dreams but I think it was about like this:

The first dream I dreamed I looked out of a window and down to the ground where a raptor of some sort looked back up at me. As I look closely I see it is a Merlin, the smallest of the British birds of prey. I call to it and it flies up to me, and tried to land on my hand, but its feet are somehow deformed as if the toes have been broken or dislocated. I steady it with my other hand and after a short while I see the feet are again normal and the bird is able to fly off healed. I’ve had similar dreams about injured birds on a fair few occasions but this is the first time it’s been about a raptor. I’ve handled a lot of birds in real life, including birds of prey, but while I’ve seen Merlins in the wild and in captivity I have never held one. For me, the significance of the name is quite something.

The second dreams is also related to one I have had a lot over the years. A massive bull has broken loose in a market, an old-fashioned cattle market like the one I grew up near as a child, with stalls and pens and conrete floor and a maze of runs made of moveable boards. I see the bull gore and toss someone who lies very still and I and my unknown companion seek safety within the confines of the market itself. The bull is seen again but from being a typical British bull, roan and white and with a curly coat and a ring through the nose, it has become a huge black Spanish bull. In previous dreams, the bull (though it has also been a wild black stallion, a rhino, an elk stag and even a massive bighorn ram) pursues me with supernatural determination and skill, outwitting my every move to escape and I usually wake up sweating and terrified. In this dream the bull simply doesn’t show up again and the dream fades away and into the next one, which may be related.

In the next dream, I realise that an abdominal wound is bursting open. In real life I have had abdominal surgery a number of time, though keyhole style so the wounds are quite small. In this case, the wound seems to cover most of my belly, but it’s not quite like a wound at all. It’s like the skin has been tucked up and folded up and then sewed together, like making a tuck in a garment. I look down and see there are two other wounds beneath this wound. One is obviously surgical, a straight bloody line with stitches visible, that is pulling at the edges as it is wants to burst too, but may well be healing cleanly. The other wound is older and does not look surgical as the edges are ragged and round, like the wound a weapon might make. It seems partially healed but as I look and touch, the edges start to gape and first a little blood and then pus start to emerge, making me feel very sick. It’s clear that this wound is festering and going bad. I touch it again but the pain is too much and I leave the dream behind.

The next dream woke me and left me crying.

Two kids approach me carrying a notebook each. I guess they are in the higher teens, but I don’t recognise them. They ask me if they can put my name in their book. I ask to see the books and when I look I can see they have already put my name in. Above my name are two other names, with various things written after them which seem to be the titles of books. One book is entitled something like The journey to God  and I begin to realise that this is each kid’s list of books that have helped them on their own individual spiritual journey. My name is third in their lists and when I try to see the title of my books the dream begins to fade and I wake up crying. I am not sure why I am crying just that I feel very emotional. I also feel very stupid because I didn’t understand what the kids wanted from me before it was too late and the dream slipped away.

I woke up to a cup of tea waiting for me and a little later, still one-eyed and tired and still a bit wrung out from the day before I went back to sleep and dreamed again.

This time I dreamed a bird had become trapped in my house. It was a little and very fast moving bird, so fast I thought at first it must be a humming bird. I’ve never seen a humming bird in real life so then I wondered if it were a humming bird moth, which have begun to appear in Britan. I chased this creature around the dream house as it battered against surfaces trying to get out, and eventually I saw it had feathers, confirming it was indeed a bird and not a moth. At last, I managed to catch it in both hands and saw that it was actually a gold crest, a relatively rare bird, a cousin of the wren and in fact the smallest bird native to Britain. It struggled a little and was still as I took it out of the house to release it.

Last night was much more disjointed and the only dream worth reporting was a lucid dream. I was in a bookshop and I realised as I took out one book and it became another book altogether, that I must be dreaming. I asked someone in the dream if this was a dream and they told me it was. I also told them they must be another dreamer who had strayed into my dream. I do rather enjoy lucid dreams so I floated down some steps and went off in search of anything interesting. I met a Spanish girl in a wedding dress and I asked her where her bridegroom was, and I was explaining I knew him from work when I lost lucidity due to my cat scratching and mewing at the door which then fully woke me.

I don’t know really what all these dreams mean but it seems an odd coincidence that such a full night of dreaming should occur immediately after an eye injury. Odin hung for nine days and nights on the world tree before he received inspiration. 

Maybe the next seven days will bring changes for me too.