Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

7th July 2014
by Dawnknox
1 Comment

Inside the Head of Judas

Statue heads near Canary Wharf, London

What’s he thinking?

It’s hard to imagine someone’s motives unless you know them very well – and even then, it’s easy to project your own experiences and beliefs on them and interpret their actions accordingly. So, when at the end of 2013, I was asked to write a series of monologues to tell the Easter story from the perspective of key characters, I wondered how to go about it. I chose Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas the Chief Priest, Peter, Pontius Pilate, a female bystander and Mary Magdalene to write about and then had to think how best they might explain themselves. I read the bible passages many times before I put pen to paper (or more accurately, finger to keyboard) and attempted to get inside the characters’ heads to try to discover why they’d followed a particular course of action. But the hardest head to get inside was Judas’. I spent a long time thinking about what made him tick and why he ultimately felt so guilty that he committed suicide. It occurred to me, it wasn’t so much his action in betraying Jesus that made him feel so guilty, but rather his reasons for betraying Him. After all, he took the thirty pieces of silver and in return was expected to take the soldiers to Jesus so they could arrest Him. And that seems rather odd because Jesus wasn’t in hiding. The previous week, He’d entered Jerusalem and people had lined the streets greeting Him with shouts of ‘Hosanna’ and waving palm branches. It wasn’t like Jesus had organised a spectacular procession – He’d simply turned up on a donkey, probably like many other people. So even when He might have blended into the crowds who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, He was recognised and marked out. And He’d attended a Passover supper with lots of other people. So He couldn’t have been too hard to find. I wondered if Judas reasoned that he wouldn’t really be needed to point Jesus out – the crowds would do that, simply by gathering round Him to listen. But if the Chief Priest wanted to pay Judas to point out someone who was so obvious to find – well, more fool them. So, in identifying Jesus, he hadn’t really done anything other than to do what the crowds had unwittingly already done. What was crucial, was why he went to the Chief Priest in the first place.

I wondered whether he thought Jesus had let him down. He’d expected Jesus to be a strong leader, who would rise up against the Romans and take back their land. As the one who kept the disciples’ money, he was skimming off some for himself and when Jesus started talking about his death, Judas may have panicked. With Jesus gone, the disciples would probably disband and the funds would dry up. I wonder whether part of Judas’ motive was disappointment and spite. If Jesus wouldn’t be the leader Judas wanted then perhaps He should learn what it was like to be let down. If Jesus knew He was going to die, then Judas’s livelihood was about to disappear, so he might as well make some money for pointing out a man who was obvious anyway.

I hope I went some way towards unraveling Judas and his motives. I hope I always give people the benefit of the doubt and interpret their actions by ascribing the best possible motives I can think of and I’ve done that with Judas. But on the other hand, perhaps I’ve been kind, and he was just a really nasty character, through and through.

Have you ever tried to write about a historical character and had to account for their actions? How did it go?

In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, there are several characters who really existed: Mr. Hornsby, the schoolmaster, Catherine Hornsby, his third and last wife, Dr. Colls, the rector. Very little is known about them or what they did, other than in general terms. Mr. Hornsby, for example was schoolmaster for 48 years although I don’t know exactly how he conducted his lessons. So, it was slightly easier to weave a story around these characters.

The Easter Monologues were performed in St. Nicholas Church at Easter 2014. If you’d like to support renovation work  to our building, please buy “Daffodil and the Thin Place”, which you can find here

6th July 2014
by Dawnknox
7 Comments

Who, me?

SquirrelSome time ago, my dad planted a mango stone in a pot of compost and watered it carefully until it grew into a small plant. He found the foliage rather pleasing and decided to grow one for me. In due course, up came my plant, looking, not surprisingly, like his plant. Except that as it turns out, this was most surprising indeed.

Visitors to my parents’ house often remarked on his plant, which by this time was about five feet tall and several expressed surprise when Dad told them it was a mango tree, saying it looked more like a horse chestnut.

In fact, so many people thought it was a horse chestnut tree, Dad took some leaves into the local garden centre and it was pronounced… a horse chestnut tree.

No one could explain why two separate mango stones planted at different times should have turned into horse chestnut plants, other than to suggest squirrels had planted conkers in the pots. We still can’t quite believe that’s what happened but no one can explain it otherwise.

Have you ever planted something, tended it and found you’d grown an imposter? Did you ever find out how it happened?

Daffodil uncovered an imposter in ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’. A well respected and trusted person turned out to be not as expected. If you want to know more, you can find the book here

5th July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Boys and Their Toys (And my Sooty)

Boys and Their Toys (And my Sooty)

Boy in North Sulawesi flying a kite

Boy in North Sulawesi flying a kite

I love this photo of a little boy. I watched him running up and down the road pursued by his kite for some while. It was taken in a small village, near Manado, North Sulawesi and kites were obviously the toy of the moment, as I saw several lads flying them. Such an innocent pastime.

I wonder how long it will be before he and the other kite-flyers will be glued to their mobile phones.

A few weeks ago I had lunch in a lovely, English, country pub. We were sitting in the garden and a woman entered with two boys of about 10 years old. They all sat at a table and the boys got out their tablets. It seemed so sad to see them engrossed in whatever was on their tablets, rather than rushing about, playing. Now perhaps, they were both reading good books or doing homework, so they may have been gainfully employed. Had there been only one child, I don’t think I’d have noticed but what saddened me was that instead of doing what two boys of earlier years would have done – kicked a stone to each other or even kicked each other, they completely ignored one another. Or perhaps again, I’m misreading the situation, perhaps they were on Facebook, conversing with each other.

There’s nothing wrong with mobile phones, tablets, PCs etc. I’d be the last one to give up mine but it just seems that somewhere along the way – we’ve lost our way. Although, of course, some might say we’ve found a better way!

I thought back to my childhood and remembered my Sooty bear – my favourite toy – and wondered if I was a child of today, whether in a few years time, my favourite toy would be something I’d cuddled in bed or my iPad. It seems that in my house, cuddly toys hold a special place in our hearts. Jamie said his furry cat was the toy he remembered with most fondness and James said his Mickey Mouse. My Sooty is long gone – I think it fell to bits – but the furry cat, which looked like a cat with alopecia the last time I saw it and the Mickey Mouse toy are still in the loft (I think). The very loft that Jamie and I are about to tidy out, so there may be a reunion of men and ‘boy’s toys’ very soon.

What do you remember as your favourite toy? Do you still have it?

Daffodil, as a child of the twenty-first century, had her mobile phone with her in the Victorian times. Of course, she turned it off because there was no one she could have phoned but it did come in handy at one point – and helped her prevent a murder. To find out how, click here and buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’. It’s an ebook, so why not grab a cuddly toy and curl up with your ereader!

4th July 2014
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

Books, Books and More Books

Daffodil and the Thin Place It occurred to me that I have two pages with nothing on them, Writing and Books.

I thought I’d better put something on at least one of them, so here goes, and the winner is… Books.

Today, I’m putting details of my new book, ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ on it. All proceeds will go to the St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton renovation fund, so I’m keen for it to do well. At the moment, it’s only available as an ebook but if it sells well, the publisher, Muse It Up Publishing will print it.

The story, takes place in and around St. Nicholas Church where Daffodil, a twenty-first century teenager, slips back to the Victorian times and finds herself in the school which used to be in the church. Much of the story is based on historical fact but Daffodil and the other scholars in the school are fictional characters. I don’t know if any grave-robbing took place in the churchyard either but I suppose it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

If you’d like to support St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton, or you just fancy a read, click here to buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place.’

I’ve also had stories published in the following books. The first three are published by Stonethread Publishing and can be seen here

Otherwhere and Elsewhen’ is published by Bridgehouse Publishing and can be seen here

‘Shrouded by Darkness’ contains the first story I had published, and is by Telos Publishing. You can find it here  All royalties from this book go to DebRA, a national charity working on behalf of people with the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)

Well, I think that’s enough books for one day!

 

cover art Bodysmith 401 cover art Things You Can Create Cover art The Least He Could Do Cover Art Otherwhere and Elsewhen Cover art Shrouded by Darkness

3rd July 2014
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

A Postman’s Ingenuity

The ubiquitous and iconic red post box

The ubiquitous and iconic red post box. This one is in Canary Wharf, London but you don’t need to know that, as they all look similar.

You have to take your hat off to our posties and delivery men/women.

Whether or not, you like the idea of them leaving a parcel when you’re out and can’t take delivery,  they usually try to find a method of not only hiding it from view but also keeping it dry and safe – although not necessarily clean!

My heart always sinks when I open the  front door and see a ‘You were out when I called to deliver…’ card because usually, it means a special trip to pick the parcel up myself and their depots are usually in the most out-of-the-way places  – and often, quite far-away, out-of-the-way places. But sometimes, a postie or delivery man/woman takes pity on me and decides to leave the parcel somewhere safe and dry and pops a card through the letterbox to tell me where it is. It’s like being invited on a treasure hunt. Yesterday, for example, a delivery man/woman left a card telling me a parcel was ‘down the side on the chair’, which confused me because we don’t have any chairs in the side alley. He/she had however, gone down the side of the house and reached over the wall to place it on the chair that was closest, on the patio. And that puzzled me as with the height difference between the alley and the patio, he/she must have been twelve feet tall. Other posties have kindly come right into the garden and placed parcels under the garden table and even in the shed.

So, for their ingenuity in the face of me being out, I would like to mention, (although obviously not by name, as I was out when they called):

The Postie Who Found the Dirtiest Hiding Place (For the Recipient): This postie, put the parcel under the car. Not just at the edge, so I could crouch down to retrieve it but right in the middle, so I had to lay on my stomach and slither under slightly, until I could touch it.

The Postie Who Found the Dirtiest Hiding Place (For the Parcel): This postie put the parcel inside the green waste recycling bin, on top of the grass clippings and other garden detritus. But it was very neatly placed.

The Postie Who Found the Most Cunning Hiding Place: This postie put the slim parcel under the door mat. Yes, the very door mat that I stood on in order to open the door and find the ‘You were out when I called to deliver…’ card, which told me the parcel was under the mat – that I had just stepped on. Luckily, the DVD and its case weren’t broken.

The Postie Whose Motto Is  ‘I Will Deliver This Parcel, Come What May’ : This must go to the postie who rang at the door, when my son was the only one home.  Not being dressed (my son, not the postie), he hastily threw some clothes on but by the time he was half way down the stairs, the postie had obviously decided no one was in. That, however, wasn’t going to stop him/her from delivering the parcel. My son was very surprised to see the book he’d ordered appear through the letter box, followed by the cardboard packaging. Presumably so that he could reassemble the parcel if we wanted to.

Thank you posties and delivery men/women all! You do a great job! And thank you for your ingenuity!

A book that won’t need unwrapping to fit it through the letterbox is ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, which comes in handy ebook formats. To order yours and take delivery immediately, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Remembering the Sons of Three Towns

Remembering the Sons of Three Towns

Remembrance Day at St. Nicholas Church. In Loving Memory

Remembrance Day at St. Nicholas Church. In Loving Memory

Forget Never, Oublier Jamias, Vergessen Niemals

The Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals is a project initiated by Basildon MP, Stephen Metcalfe, and coordinated by The Basildon Borough Heritage Group. Linking with Basildon’s twinning towns, Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany, BBHG plans to deliver a series of commemorative projects discussing what life was like in the three towns.
During the course of the year, BBHG aim to deliver a number of projects involving participation from residents of the three towns. One project is an end of year Christmas Concert in St. Martin’s Church which will include musical and dramatic contributions from all three towns.
You can find out more here and here

AndI mention this, because I have had the privilege of writing the ‘dramatic contributions’ for the Christmas Concert. I was asked to include information about three men, each of whom served their country during the First World War. They came from Wickford (Basildon as we know it today wasn’t in existence during WWI), from Meaux in France and from Heiligenhaus in Germany. It has been very moving, finding out about the three men: George Burnett, Louis Vallin and Albert Kiekert. Discovering details about their families, interests and service to their country, has been an emotional journey for me.

Since there will be representatives from Germany and France at the concert, I thought it important that I highlight the common suffering and heroism rather than any differences. Pointing fingers and apportioning blame were obviously things I wanted to avoid, so instead, I focused on the bravery – not only of the three men – but of all the men who fought. And I certainly found plenty of evidence of that. Men who literally put themselves in the line of fire in order to rescue comrades.

I’ve never wanted to know more than the main details about the First World War, or indeed, the Second. I find it too upsetting and depressing. But having to carry out research to write this script, I found plenty of material which heartened and uplifted me. Yes, there was a great deal of mindless cruelty but there were also tremendous acts of courage and fortitude, sacrifice and humanity.

But wouldn’t it be nice to know that it didn’t take a cataclysmic event like a world war to bring out those qualities?

 

The photo was taken at St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton. If you would like to support renovation work on the church please buy ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, details of which you can find here

1st July 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Would You Bring Back Bananarama?

Would You Bring Back Bananarama?

Daffodil and the Thin Place 300dpiIf you had the opportunity to go back in time, how far would you go? And if you could bring back a musician or group of musicians, who would you bring? Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook that he’d bring back Bananarama and it made me wonder how far I’d go back and who I’d bring. Dean Martin? Mozart? Marc Bolan? One thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t be Bananarama!

I think it would have to be the Beatles. Yes, I know Paul and Ringo don’t need bringing back at the moment (thankfully) but the Beatles I’d bring would be the young lads who had ‘Beatle haircuts’ and ‘Beatle suits’. I wasn’t so keen on the hairy, brightly dressed Sgt. Pepper’s Beatles. But when I was young, the early Beatles with their striking looks and sound were electrifying. Sadly, I never got to see them live.

In ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, the heroine, Daffodil, goes to the Victorian times but she doesn’t get the opportunity to bring anyone or anything back. However, she does leave some items. She gives Amelia her watch, a torch and the key-shaped talisman the Grey Monk gave her. Does she get them back? You can find out here

30th June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Looking isn’t Necessarily Seeing

Looking isn’t Necessarily Seeing

Stone on the remains of the chimney at St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton

Stone on the remains of the chimney at St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton

I’ve been going to St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton since 1999 and I’ve taken lots of photos both inside and outside the building, day and night in every season. So, I didn’t think there was anything I hadn’t spotted before, until last week. I was waiting for the photographer from the Basildon Echo to come up to take my photo for an article about my book, ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ and while I waited, I looked around again for something my camera hadn’t captured before.

And there it was.

On what remains of the old chimney, is a square stone, which bears the cross of St. Andrew, overlaid with a vertical sword and topped with a crown.

I’ve no idea what it is or why it’s there and I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before but it just goes to show, when you think you’ve seen everything, you very likely haven’t!

And if you haven’t seen ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, an ebook which is set in and around the church, you can grab a copy here. At least that won’t be on your list of things you’ve never seen.

If you know anything about heraldry or engraved stones on former chimneys or if you recognise this particular stone, please get in touch…

 

29th June 2014
by Dawnknox
9 Comments

The Sweet Smell of Success

Odd socks

Odd Socks – just one of the items included in the story

What do odd socks, flipflops, a tractor, a can of hairspray, a sombrero, a fishing rod, mouldy bread, the moon, a raincoat and a bottle containing noxious liquid have in common?

Absolutely nothing.

Except that they appeared in a list of twenty-five items from which I had to choose at least ten and include them all in a story of fewer than 2,000 words. The list was the May prompt from my writing group, the Basildon Writers’ Meetup.

So, without further ado, here’s my story ‘The Sweet Smell of Success’, which contains odd socks, flipflops, a tractor… (you get the picture). So, I invite you to take a stroll through the Garden and meet the garden ornaments but just keep downwind of the toad…

The Sweet Smell of Success

by Dawn Knox

Gusty Bob made for the small gap in the back row. There was no way he could fit into such a tiny space, even with the aid of the slimy mucous that covered his ample proportions but he’d noticed that in similar situations, space seemed to magically appear and on this particular occasion, he was confident the guys would make room for him without any fuss.

At the right hand side of the gap that was Gusty Bob’s intended insertion point, Crispin, the marble elf, went rigid, shuffled to the left to fill the gap, then thought better of it as a long leg and webbed foot shot past his shoulder. He’d been too slow and the only option was to slide rapidly to the right, into Sylvester.

“Watch it!” Sylvester grunted, elbowing Crispin in the ribs. Gusty Bob slipped into the tiny gap, which had expanded when the frantic shuffling of bottoms, resulted in two people at the end of the row being forced off their toadstools. There was now sufficient room for his width, including a buffering zone on either side. As he settled down, Crispin took in a lungful of air to compensate for being winded by Sylvester and simultaneously, the stone toad lived up to his moniker – Gusty Bob. Noxious gas was ejected from both ends of his slimy amphibian body, filling the air with the fumes of decaying flies, worms and other rotting detritus.

Crispin coughed and spluttered. Others further away giggled and tittered, confident the evil cloud would have dissipated before it reached them.

“Order! Order!” Bartrum banged a rock with his gavel and scowled at the rows of assembled garden ornaments.

Gnomes, elves and assorted animals and birds snapped to attention as he adjusted his glasses, tugged at his beard and scowled at them all.

“This sort of behaviour is typical of your lack of commitment to the aestheticalness of this garden…”

“Ees what?” whispered Sylvester.

“I think he means the garden is a shambles,” replied Crispin.

Bartrum adjusted his hat and carried on.

“This cannot be allowed to continue. Rules will be enforced…”

Everyone groaned.

“And I will be closely watching the situation…”

“You and whose army?” muttered Sylvester.

“…assisted by my newly appointed cohort of monitors…”

The audience sat up as one, eyes swiveling, looking for anyone who might be an informer.

“…who I will now appoint,” finished Bartrum.

Suddenly, everyone seemed to find their feet completely fascinating.

“You, you and you!” said Bartrum, pointing out two hapless gnomes and a wooden robin “And you and you!” he said, indicating Gusty Bob and Crispin. The toad’s sharp intake of breath eventually had to find release but by this time, Crispin was holding his nose.

****

The gap between Gusty Bob and the two gnomes, one elf and wooden robin increased imperceptibly until Bartrum, who was issuing orders, found he was having to turn his head from side to side to keep everyone in view.

“Stop moving!”

The gap stabilised.

“Correct uniforms must be worn. With immediate effect. So far today, I’ve seen gnomes wearing raincoats, sombreros, flipflops. This will not do. Everyone needs to be in regulation uniform. And you!” he pointed at the wooden robin, “You’re wearing odd socks.”

The robin blushed, “I’m s…so sorry but I’m red-green colour blind and I sometimes get confused…”

“Ah, that explains the green bib. I was coming to that next…”

The robin looked down at his chest in horror.

“Well, just do your best…” said Bartrum, faltering slightly when he saw a fat tear roll down the stricken robin’s beak.

He turned back to the others. “You will check all equipment is in working order. Nevison’s fishing rod no longer has a hook. What’s the point of a fishing gnome who can’t catch fish? And if Perkins thinks it’s funny he’s swapped his toadstool for a toy tractor, then you need to convince him otherwise. Understood?”

The team of monitors nodded and Gusty Bob let loose a loud belch.

Bartrum winced and the gap widened once more between the toad and the other monitors.

“You have until full moon to ensure this garden is once more a place of aestheticalation.”

“Ees what?” whispered the wooden robin.

“Clean and tidy,” replied Crispin.

****

“It appears the smartening up of this garden is quite beyond you!” said Bartrum to his monitors three days later. “I see very few improvements…and I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all. Why are there still gnomes out of uniform? I’m thinking specifically of Jubbly.”

Crispin took one step forward and three sideways, away from Gusty Bob. “Well, Sir, I asked him to change back into uniform but he said he was having an identity crisis and that he had to find his inner self. Once he’d done that, he’d wear whatever was appropriate.”

“I see, well that explains the curling tongs and can of hairspray, I suppose. I have to say his feminine side seems to be winning. But that doesn’t explain the sombrero…”

“He feels he may be a Mexican trapped in the body of a woman, trapped in the body of a gnome…”

“Well, he, she or Gonzalez had better make up their mind very soon because Ofsted inspectors are due by the end of summer and you know what happens if they put you in special measures…” he paused dramatically.

They all gasped in horror. Gusty Bob’s breakfast of squashed earthworm and mouldy bread had been fermenting nicely within his batrachian intestines and the resulting methane had inflated them almost to breaking point, so a gulp of air had been most unwise. His internal gaseous pressure became critical. Something had to give…and it gave, resulting in a prolonged, thunderous blast that manifested itself as a green haze which floated upwards into the morning air.

They reconvened at the bottom of the garden, after it had been ascertained the noxious cloud was floating towards the house.

“No need to prolong this meeting,” said Bartrum, nervously eying Gusty Bob, “I have only one thing more to say. Since you seem incapable of enforcing the rules, I will bring in a troubleshooter…”

Crispin’s elation was short lived. Rather than being dismissed as he’d hoped, he found that he was now part of a disciplinary force, under the direct command of the newly appointed leader.

“And who is the troubleshooter?” Crispin asked.

Bartrum tucked his briefcase securely under his arm, glanced anxiously at Gusty Bob and rocked onto the balls of his feet as if about to take flight.

“Susan,” he said and fled.

“Susan?” asked the small gnome, “Who’s Susan?”

A shiver ran down Crispin’s spine as he realised who Bartrum meant.

The shock had been so great, it momentarily deprived him of his senses or he’d have followed Bartrum and escaped before Gusty Bob got wind of the troubleshooter’s identity and particularly before they all got wind of Gusty Bob.

Instead, he blurted out, “Oh no, he’s put Spiteful Sue in charge!”

The wooden robin’s knees gave way. “No!” he wailed, as he sank to the earth.

“What’re we going to do?” asked the small gnome.

“We’re going to run,” said Crispin, ushering everyone away from the toad, “you know what Spiteful Sue did to Gusty Bob the last time she was here.”

Thankfully, Crispin, the two gnomes and the robin made it into the begonias before Gusty Bob realised what was going on.

“No!” he yelled, venting his anger and simultaneously venting a rather large volume of methane. The green cloud floated up into the plum tree, leaving seared leaves in its wake.

****

Crispin, the two gnomes and the wooden robin met in secret by the pond that evening. They didn’t deliberately exclude Gusty Bob but then again, they didn’t try too hard to find him either.

“It’s just as well he’s not here,” said Crispin, “he gets much too agitated when the subject of Spiteful Sue comes up. I know cats have a good sense of smell and I can see why Gusty Bob might annoy her but what she did with that cork was really quite unnecessary.”

“This is all going to end in tears,” said the robin, who was fulfilling his own prophesy. He wiped his beak noisily. “As soon as Spiteful Sue turns up, Gusty Bob will be so nervous he won’t be able to control himself.”

“I hope she doesn’t arrive before that green gas-cloud disappears or she might do what she apparently threatened the last time she was here,” said the small gnome.

“What was that?” asked the robin.

“She said his aroma upset her feline sensibilities and if he couldn’t control his emissions, she’d fit him with a catalytic converter.”

“Feline sensibilities,” said Crispin thoughtfully, “Hmm, I wonder…”

 

****

Later that evening, Crispin found Gusty Bob hiding under an upturned flowerpot. They talked far into the night and finally, Crispin handed the toad a large bag. He took it, saluted gravely and shuffled off into the begonias.

****

“What d’you mean he’s gone?” squeaked the small gnome indignantly, “That’s just great! As if it’s not bad enough being ordered about by a Nazi cat, we’re now down to three men.”

“Four,” corrected the wooden robin.

“Three,” said the small gnome firmly. “No one in this garden takes a robin wearing odd socks seriously…”

“Enough!” said Crispin, “If my plan works, Spiteful Sue won’t be needed, the task force can disband and the garden can go back to normal.”

“We’re listening,” said the small gnome, elbowing the robin out of the way.

****

Bartrum banged his gavel on a rock, dislodging a snail which lost its grip and slithered back down its slime trail with a whimper.

“Congratulations,” said Bartrum shaking his head in wonder, “I don’t know how you did it, especially with Susan disgracefully deserting us.” He beamed at everyone. “You all look resplendable!”

“Re what?” asked the robin.

“He’s saying we look nice,” said Crispin.

 

****

The early morning sun was barely peeping over the top of the hedge when Crispin opened one eye. Today would be the sort of day a garden was made for he decided and turned over for another snooze. For the first time in ages, he could relax. Spiteful Sue had gone, Gusty Bob was back from his ‘holiday’ and Bartrum was off to stay with his cousin for a week.

And all it had taken was a length of rubber tubing, a bottle of water and instructions to Gusty Bob ‘to infuse the water with a unique fragrance’ and then to book a short holiday. Crispin had liberally sprinkled drops from the bottle of noxious liquid around the garden and after a hissy fit, Spiteful Susan had left.

In a hastily convened meeting, Crispin pointed out to the garden ornaments that observing Bartrum’s strict rules – just for a day or two – would be advantageous to everyone. Thankfully, everyone cooperated and even Jubbly agreed that he could explore his gnome persona for a few days and wear regulation clothes. After all, as he pointed out in a heavy Mexican accent, what he wore as underwear, was his own affair.

Yes, a disaster had been averted and it was all thanks to Crispin and now the whole garden could relax.

The frantic knock at the door told him otherwise.

It was Bartrum, his hat askew and his buttons all done up incorrectly.

“Get up! There’s no time to lose! There’s a party of Ofsted inspectors on their way…”

“I’ll be right there,” said Crispin, scooping up the bottle of noxious liquid prepared by the toad.

He had to alert everyone to best behaviour and if on his way round the garden, he just happened to drip a few drops of the concoction, well, it might just persuade the inspectors to cut short their stay.

28th June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on The Final L is for Lively and Lucky – DaffodiL and the Thin Place

The Final L is for Lively and Lucky – DaffodiL and the Thin Place

Mayflower Morris Men It hasn’t been a great summer for English sport so far, but here’s something we excel at – Morris dancing! The chaps on the left are the Mayflower Morris Men, from Billericay, Essex and I had the opportunity to photograph them a few days ago. Apparently, the Morris is an English traditional male ritual dance associated with the bringing of luck, with the fertility and regeneration of the soil as well as the promotion of the cycle of the seasons.

As it’s the last letter of ‘Daffodil’ today, I’ve picked two words – ‘Lively’ and ‘Lucky’. The Mayflower Morris Men are both lively and lucky! If their dances bring luck, then hopefully everyone who was there took a bit home too.

Daffodil is both lively and lucky. And it’s just as well, because when you’re alone in a graveyard with a group of grave robbers, you need to be both.

“Whether it was the thought that I was crouching amongst venomous snakes or the fact that I was a few metres from two men, one of whom had a spade and wasn’t afraid to use it, I realised my legs were now seeing sense and were listening to orders from my brain. Or perhaps they just took things into their own hands, as I’m sure my brain would have told them to wait until the men were back with the others before I ran. But my legs decided enough was enough and springing up, they carried me as fast as they could along the north wall.

I took them all by surprise, but within an amazingly short time, they’d recovered and were running after me.

“Run!” screamed Amelia.”

If you want to read more and find if Daffodil really got away, you can find the book ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ here

And if you want to see the Mayflower Morris Men for yourself, have a look here