Monday, 30 October 2017


A children's story.

 Do you live in a town with cobblestone streets?  Or do you know of a town with cobblestone streets?
Let me tell you about the people that live between the gaps of the cobblestones.
This is Cobblestone Town and each gap to them is a street.  The cobbles mountain ranges which they climb to the very summit to gather the dust brought by the wind.   They mix this dust with the rain that flows down the mountains to make a paste solid enough to build the walls of their houses that line the Cobblestone Town streets.  The mixture of dust and rain is also used to mould the tables and chairs that fill their houses.  Also for the tube shaped bag used to gather the dust.
There is always dust from the human world above.  There is always wind. 
You had to be eighteen cobblestone years to climb the mountains to gather your own dust to build your first house. 
Oslek was now eighteen cobblestone years and he had almost reached the summit. It had taken him most of the day, and he was tired, and wished to stop and rest. His mother and father shouted encouragement from below.  Part of him wondered if he really wanted his own house.  The truth be told he was quite happy to live with his mother and father.  They fed him from the crumbs dropped by the humans as they passed over the cobbles.  There was always plenty of food for the people of Cobblestone Town. Humans were messy eaters.
It was time though for Oslek to grow up even if he didn’t want to.  He would have to gather his own crumbs.  He would have to mix his own dust and water to make a bed for him to lie in.  A table and chair to sit down to his dinner.
He could see the sun high in the sky and he smiled.  Then he smiled down at his parents.  It would be fine.  He had watched his parents all his life build things and cook. He had helped his mother build the table and his own chair with his father. If only he had been paying attention at the time.
He climbed on telling himself he would remember how to build things when he had to.  
He reached the summit and remembered just in time to put dust in his ears. The human noise from above had grown louder the higher he climbed.  At the summit it was like the thunder his mother had told him about.  She had once ventured to the summit when the rains had come and she had slipped and…Caught herself just in time.
The dark though and the shake of the thunder had frightened her. She had never climbed for dust again. Maybe that was why while his father smiled up at him, his mother’s smile didn’t really look like a smile.
He had gathered his dust and was beginning the climb down when it happened.  He had been warned of course about the human giants.  They did not mean any harm. They just did not know that the Cobblestone people lived between the gaps in the cobblestones.
Just as Oslek began his climb down the mountain a giant’s foot had thumped on the cobbles directly above his head. The mountain shook and Oslek nearly lost his grip and very nearly dropped his bag full of dust.  He could hear his mother’s gasp below. He held tight onto the side of the mountain, gripped tight his bag of dust. 
Suddenly it was dark as the giant’s foot shifted and shut out the sun. Suddenly he was soaked through as the giants foot splashed into a puddle and down the water poured like a waterfall between the gaps in the cobbles.
The Cobblestone people had another use for the dust. They mixed it with just the right amount of water, and moss that clung to the side of the mountains, to make a glue which when applied to their hands and feet allowed them to safely climb the mountains. Their hands and feet sticking to the side of the mountains like suckers.
Afterwards the glue easily washed off. They didn’t want their hands sticking together every time they clapped in celebration of a new house being built. Or their feet stuck to the one spot on the Cobblestone streets.
If there was too much water in the mix though, for instance if a giant stood in a puddle, and down it came like a waterfall, the balance of water, dust and moss would be no more and…
…Oslek lost his grip and…
…Oslek slid slipping frantically hitting his hands and feet again and again off the side of the mountain trying desperately to stop. Or even to slow down.
Oslek tried not to look down but he did and his village seemed to be rushing up to meet him faster and faster.
His mother and father wide eyed and the look on their face of not knowing what to do.
Through the water streaming across his eyes he could make out the blurry figures of the Cobblestone people running for their houses to escape the torrential rain of water. All except his mother and father who linked arms in an attempt to catch him before he hit the ground.
His hands grabbed and scratched at the mountain. His hands were green with moss. 
He had an idea.
What was the formula of the glue again?
One part moss, three parts dust and…How much water? He wracked his brains but couldn’t remember.
He took a chance and gave up trying to get a grip on the mountain, and falling through the air he poured some dust on his hands, dropping the bag as he did so. It rolled through the air spilling the dust as it went.  No time to be sad though he was still falling.
He mixed the dust that was left with the moss.  He shouldn’t have looked down again but he did.
The Cobblestone streets were getting very close. 
He held his hands together like a bowl to catch the rain. 
Count to…What?
He couldn’t remember.
Here goes nothing he told himself!
He closed his hands and quickly rubbed in the moss and dirt and water and slapped his hands against the side of the mountain.
He heard the clatter of the now empty bag hit the ground.
He was never going to build his own house.
He was slowing.
Yes.  Yes.  He was slowing.
He nearly took his hands off the mountain to clap in celebration but remembered in time.  He was still too high up.
He slowed and slowed and stopped just in time his feet dangling inches above the ground.
It was still raining a waterfall but he didn’t care.
His mother and father hugged and hugged squeezing the rain water that soaked him from his clothes. It soaked all three of them now and all three didn’t care.
On the way home part of him, yes, was sad that he had lost all his dust to build his first house.
A larger part of him sighed with happiness. He didn’t need to grow up till tomorrow.
Then he would climb again and gather the dust.  Tomorrow he would build his own house.
Tonight his father would make him crumb soup, his favourite. His mother would call him ‘her wee boy’ and ruffle his hair. 
Yes, tomorrow is soon enough to grow up.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


A very short story I wrote a few years ago. I used to work in the textile industry. This was written after I left driving past a factory (not the one I worked in) in the process of being demolished. A workman was sitting eating his lunch. I imagined all the other workmen through the years when the factory was a facory.

The man sat on the loading bay in front of the rotting corpse of the factory, that rose fully four storeys above him.  All about him the bulldozers cracked the factory like an egg, for the silent workmen in helmets and masks to fill lorry after lorry with the dust strewn remains of the buildings.    
The man did not have a hat. The man did not have a mask. The man carefully unfolded the package that lay beside him, and began to eat his carefully prepared lunch.
Dust swirled, and bricks tumbled, and wood cracked, but the man sat, and ate, and wiped his face free from the sweat of the mornings work.
A  sudden  tilt  of  the head back towards  the  factory,  and  a disappointed  face, and the man rose and stretched,  then  folded his carefully prepared sandwiches away.
He looked out at the small crowd that had gathered on the hillside opposite the factory, that watched and winced with every whip of the bulldozer against the crumbling building.
A sudden shout and the workmen turned to gather at the safety of the gate. Then the sudden gathering of noise and the man walked deep into the bones of the factory that crumpled to dust, and he was gone.


Tuesday, 3 October 2017


I used to make up stories about 'The Smelly Sock Family' and tell them to my two boys when they were growing up.  I never wrote them down at the time, only recently writing a couple of stories from what I could remember. I turned one of them into the poem below.  Hope you enjoy.


The Smelly Sock Family
Mum, and dad, Sue who was twelve, Janet eleven
Simon seven

Lived, where do you think?
The very bottom of the washing basket. 
Amongst the maximum of stink.

Now our noses may twitch and water.
For them nothing else could compare.
The smelly sock family were really very happy there

They had a lovely home
The smelliest of dirt, the greenest of grimy grime.
The Smelly Sock family always had the best of time.

Still Janet who was eleven
And Simon seven
Wondered, as you do, about the rumble and the roar above.

 ‘A monster lives up there. ‘Their father said.
That all Smelly Socks dread.
‘A washing machine.’ And left the rest unsaid.

Both Janet who was eleven
And Simon seven
Promised to never go in search of the monster that all Smelly Socks dread.

Next morning
Can you guess?
What they did instead.
Over piled up jeans and shirts they climbed
From the very bottom of the washing basket to the very top.
Not daring to look down both wanting secretly to stop.

The top they reached and peered over to see what they could see.
They gulped and wished they’d stayed in their smelly beds.
The Washing Machine Monster was everything their father had said.

What was that horrible yucky smell that made them cough?
Air freshener?  Fresh air?
They could smell it everywhere.

‘It’s horrible.’ Said Janet.
Said Simon. ‘I want to go home.’
‘Don’t’ Shouted another Smelly Sock called Jerome.

A human being fed the monster
Jeans, and shirts, and Jerome.
Jerome pleaded. ‘I want to go home.

‘We’ve got to help him’ Simon said
And tumbled onto the floor right onto his head. 
His sister had no choice but to follow.

They had almost freed Jerome
When up they were scooped with a whoosh and a shout
Into the Monsters mouth with no way out.

Trapped, ‘HELP.’ All three did shout. 
 About to be made clean and fresh
They had to get out.

They stared out the monster’s mouth
Jenny and Simon frightened and sad.
Then they spotted their big sister and were never so glad.

Jenny and Simon shouted. ‘Sue.’
She saw them and knew exactly what to do
To get them out before the Monster woke up.

Sue climbed and climbed
Her smelly sock yucky green grime
A slimy glue that stuck till she looked right into the monster’s mouth.

Nudging the latch that held the Monster mouth shut
With her smelly sock heel
Janet, Simon, Jerome escaped, never happier did they did feel.

They all crawled and rolled as quickly as they could
Hiding behind table legs when they should
Whenever the human being came near.

One time the human scooped Simon up
But he wriggled free, dropped, bumped his head, again, on the floor
Next day he knew it was going to be Smelly Sock sore.

The others grabbed him and scampering up the basket they went
Then rolling all the way down
Bouncing of jeans and shirts and an old dressing gown.

When they landed they had bruises aplenty
But safe. And more important still smelly.
That night they celebrated with a tee shirt bowl of smelly jelly.

Simon and Jenny’s mum and dad were not pleased
But not too angry after they heard how they had rescued Jerome.
Simon said.  ‘It’s good to be home.’

Janet and Simon and Jerome became the best of friends.
Will they ever climb again to the top of the Smelly Washing basket?
Well that all depends.

They made a promise did Janet who was eleven
Simon seven.
But what do you think?

Maybe their eyes glancing upwards to the very top of the smelly washing basket
Is a clue
What they might do.