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I am a writer of novels, plays and film scripts. I live in Manchester England with my partner Andy and our teenage son Jack. Andy and I started my Newsletter Raw Meat and began publishing with Rawprintz in 1999 to showcase my work. Some of you may be confused by my continual references to Ziggy, that’s my wheelchair! Both Andy and I are writers. I’ve recently lost my sight – hence the continual reference to my being confused! Thanks for visiting.

My Comrades...


Writer's Island Triumph

The prompt at Writer's Island this week is Triumph.


“Just look at me sitting here - I’m not a pretty sight, not that I ever was in fact. People used to tell me to stand up… and then realised I was already doing so. Standing next to the beautiful Josephine, I could barely reach her shoulder - oh yes, she was a tall one but even so… little wonder then, that I much preferred being on horseback where I could safely tower above the common mortals. And of course I looked down on them… I always looked down on my people. Though that’s not to say I didn’t care about them… of course I did, The People were everything to me, I put my life at stake because of them. Though that seems far behind now, all disappearing fast as if it’s all being shut up inside a telescope. My glory days have all receded from me, so far away… all diminishing, those famous people I used to have conversations with - Robespierre, Barras, Jacque-Louis David… all diminished to tiny figures trapped inside the telescope, which has been left behind somewhere on a desktop in Paris.

I’ve got the old stomach pains once again - they plague me from time to time, reminding me of my own mortality. Now-a-days it’s an effort for me to get up and cross over the road to get a loaf of bread from the only bakers that exists on this bleak island in the middle of nowhere. The sharp wind slices constantly across my face, once again reminding me of my own mortality. These days that’s the only thing I can be sure of… my own mortality. Those glory days of triumph blinked back at me from an oh-so-distant-spot that is becoming more hazy as every second ticks by. I take out my pocket watch and glance at it impatiently… the gold around the edges is becoming tarnished now, but it’s the only reminder left to me that I once was a force to be reckoned with.

I think I’ll die on this island… I think I’ll curl up and greet my death with passivity, clapping it in the shoulder like an old friend. Death holds no fear for me any more - in fact I think I welcome it’s approach. I lift my face into the wind and watch the skeleton approach slowly across the wild and bleak beach. The icy sea is choppy, and the waves slop constantly against the sides of my mind… the vision of my glory days won’t leave me, won’t leave me at all. I can sit down here on the edge of the beach amongst the seaweed and watch the icy waves receding from me, diminishing into some remote spot I once occupied. My days of triumph are far behind me now, and getting smaller all the time. The Paris I designed and help build… the Champs-Elysées stretching out for a whole mile, strait as a ruler - and the ruler I was, so that I was able to see the approach of an enemy. And the Arc de Triomphe arching over me as I sat on my horse below. My glory days, I held all the triumph in my hand… I held everything at my feet - where is it now?

I stare at a distant spot on the icy grey waves as they turn over and over, battering against the sides of my mind. Absorbing the memories, completely absorbing them so there’s nothing left now, nothing at all. After my death what will be left of me? Will they take my tiny skeleton back to Paris I wonder, or will I simply rot here, on Saint Helena. There’s no way of telling… I don’t suppose that it matters now, for my days of triumph are over.”


Writer's Island Wondrous

The prompt at Writer's Island is: Wondrous


Lying stretched out to full extent on my bed, I’m staring at the steel toes of my boots and listening to the howling winds buffering the sides of the tent as though trying desperately to get inside and freeze us all solid in a mass. Beside me lies the captain, breathing slowly and laboriously. To him every breath is an effort, a measure of time passing, minutes ticking away. On my other side is the still form of Doctor Wilson, already dead. At least that’s what I imagine – I can’t actually see him, as my neck won’t allow me to turn my head far enough… or maybe some part of the heavy clothing I’m wearing prevents me. Or maybe the doctor has not been there at all, maybe we left him somewhere outside, wondering across the icy wastes, searching for a way back through the blizzard, battling against the horrors of frostbite, always searching for a way back… though it is too late now for the winter darkness is already upon us and there is no hope now. We lost, all three of us, we reached the south pole some months ago but found it was useless, we were too late. And so what was there left to do but to come back? But even then, we knew there was no point… we were already lost, even as we set out to return.

I turn my face very slightly to the left, framed by the furred edges of my hood I can just make out the form of Captain Scott, his face ashen white against the brown canvas sides of the tent behind him. his face seems frozen and stiff, even though he’s still living – or at least, I think he is. Upon his face I can see the traces of the wondrous sights we have seen, the light fantastic. Such sights can never be forgotten, they leave their mark upon his pale skin… which twitches a little to string together a few words.

“Bowers… is Wilson… dead?”

Several long moments pass before I can muster up before I can force myself to speak, for my own lips are so dry now.

“I… think so.”

I think I’ve said those words, but I may be wrong… maybe I said nothing at all. The captain doesn’t seem aware anyway, his smile is fixed in place, to no one in particular. When he speaks once again, his words float across the frozen spaces between us, as if suspended there by the cold.

“I have seen… such wondrous sights that will never leave me…”

He’s silent then. I lie there and listen to the wind… I’ve never felt so frightened, so completely alone. I will be the last man to die.


Writer's Island Quest

The prompt at Writer’s Island this week is : Quest


George looked carefully at Bart and Elvira, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“Wait a moment… Did you say you were wizards?”

The magic duo exchanged glances, then Bartholomew shook his head.

“I don’t believe we said any such thing – where did you get that idea from?”

George shrugged, reaching into the top pocket of her shirt and drawing out a piece of yellow parchment.

“I don’t know… it just seems to fit in with the story, that there should be some wizards or magic around. Anyway, maybe you’d care to have a look at this… something I found beneath Kirren Castle during the last adventure of the Famous Five, I don’t know if you’ve read that one.” George pushed the parchment into Elvira’s hands, and proudly traced the outline of the island on it with her finger. “There must be some buried treasure or something like that. This is an adventure for certain, another juicy quest for the Famous Five. I’m not quite sure about the title of this quest yet, for it hasn’t been written at this point… but I’m sure it will be. Perhaps when we’re old and grey maybe even pushing up daisies.”

A dark shadow was cast over the parchment as the tall, bespectacled figure of Uncle Quentin stood up and snatched the map away.

“I’ll put a stop to this little mystery before it even reaches the publishers hands… give that to me, Georgina. Thank you very much.” Slowly he folded up the parchment and placed it in his inside pocket with great care and deliberation. All the time his face was set, the mouth harsh and unsmiling. He switched his tiny blue eyes over to Elvira and Bartholomew. “Now then, would you care for a cup of tea? I’m sure that could be arranged without the story even being written yet.”


Writer's Island Peerless

The prompt this week at Writer's Island is PEERLESS.


Right from the very first moment we were formally introduced, thirty years ago, I’d been dissatisfied… I wanted to know more about you, your life, your circle of friends. So I fed my mind with every book I could find that mentioned your name, Mr Wilde… not only biographies, but also fiction, stage plays, novels. I have even found you creeping into my own work over the years, like a sort of persistent fungus… though definitely not a malignant growth. More a disease of Decadence that just won’t go away. Even though I can’t imagine you alone – just as you said during your life that you couldn’t write except in company – still, you’ve become something of a legend, completely peerless and unrivalled in animated wit and brilliance. Because our friendship blossomed, my obsession remained… and so I chose to resurrect you from the dusty ashes, time and time again… you’ve never been dead, Mr Wilde. You’ve always been fairly bursting with life, colours showering down in a most beautiful incandescent array of not only shades but also textures that live and breathe as they turn, sometimes catching the light. I was immediately inspired when I heard about a competition to write a children’s story based on your life… your life seemed to be such a charmed one, a great, sweeping ark of rise and fall littered with wonderful characters. The whole thing was made for a fairy tale, and this tale would be embroidered with facets of your own character, Mr Wilde, that you may recognise from your own story… I’m confident that you’re pleased with the result. A most charming little story Catching the Light should be available soon, so please don’t hesitate to sample it for yourself.


Writer's Island Adventure

My piece for Writer’s Island - this weeks prompt being Adventure.


“What a way to go,” remarked one of the cameramen standing round and staring helplessly as Tim Burton collapsed into pieces before their eyes. Portions of his flesh were gently carried away by the gently moving waters… remnants of the pool of salt tears that collected there from Alice’s eyes, maybe.

From where they stood just beside the door Elvira and Bartholomew exchanged anxious glances, for they could feel that it was definitely time for them to leave. Elvira took hold of Alice’s flimsy paper hand as she pushed open the door behind her back, hoping that the rapid movement of air wouldn’t blow Alice away.

“Come on then… time for another adventure, I feel,” she said in a low voice as she took a step backwards over the threshold. “and who knows what we’ll find out here?”

Bartholomew pulled his wizards robes further over his shoulders as though he was hoping to make a better impression on whoever… an audience, maybe? For a moment they seemed ready for anything, for were they fact, history or fiction… characters from another book? As the wizard looked around him, he pulled the door closed decisively behind him, the end of Tim Burton.

The three of them found themselves standing in a long corridor which was lit very dimly by occasional gas lamps on the wall - there were doors on either side but every one of them was closed, while at the end of the corridor they could just make out the sweeping banister going down… leading down to the depths. Elvira shifted nervously from one foot to the other, feeling the thick pad of carpet beneath her shoes.

“I tell you what, Bart,” she said, as she took hold of the edge of his robe tentatively, “I think we’re back in Victorian times… do you recognise this place Alice? Is it part of Looking Glass House may be?”

Alice cleared her throat carefully for it had been quite some time since she’d last spoken and had almost forgotten how to.

“It’s not anywhere that I recognise, I don’t think,” she said thinly, as thin as her paper edges would allow, “wait a minute… who’s this coming up the stairs?”

Before the magic couple could even see the dog they could smell it, as it had just come back from a walk and the blast of woodland scent almost took their breath away. The big dog came bounding towards them, and tried to put his paws up on Elvira’s ample breasts and lick her face in friendly greeting. But Elvira pushed her away - she didn’t like dogs at all.

“Yuk, get down you stupid brute!” she snapped irritably, turning away.

“Don’t speak to Timmy like that… he’s only being friendly,” said a petulant voice, one which seemed to hover somewhere between the sexes. As the wizard and witch stared at the curly haired figure that came running up to them from the staircase, it was impossible to tell whether the figure was a boy or a girl - for by the arrogance of the tone it seemed that the voice could only belong to a boy. The teenager stroked the shaggy mongrel’s head affectionately, continuing in the same arrogant tone, “I don’t know who you are anyway - what are you doing here on my grounds? Let me just remind you that this is my adventure, my story, my island. Everything round here belongs to me… here’s someone else who belongs to me - my uncle Quentin.” The boy gestured behind him as a tall man wearing small round spectacles appeared behind him, walking with such a stately stride that the wizards wondered if he was king.

“Good morning,” said the man in a clear, sharp voice, “I see my daughter has introduced us formally… which I’m very glad to see. She hasn’t forgotten her manners after all - but who are you? I don’t think you are meant to be here on Kirren Island.”

For a moment both Elvira and Bartholomew could think of nothing to say; they simply shook hands with uncle Quentin, Elvira eyeing the teenagers legs and noticing how smooth they were - for the girl wearing shorts, ready for adventure.

“Do you mind?” the girl gave Elvira a hearty shove backwards, which Elvira didn’t think was totally affectionate. “I don’t know who you think you are, but just stop staring at my legs.”

“Sorry,” apologised Elvira quickly, “just trying to tell what sex you are.” The girl glared at her with flashing eyes, and tossed her head contemptuously.

“The name’s Gorge… that’s all, just Gorge,” she said. “Now then… who are you and what are you doing on my island?”


Writer's Island Masquerade

Here's something for Writer's Island


I’m not quite real - a character stepped out or rather, danced out from someone else’s story… maybe a play, a masquerade, a sham. Look at me - I grin behind my mask, my harlequins black mask which covers my eyes. Still, I’m aware of the many coloured diamonds covering my body… they twinkle and glint as each one catches the light… red, green, gold… flash, twinkle, and gradually fade into a dull glow. It’s a dull glow that promises to be born anew and rise up out of the ashes like a phoenix into the flame, the fire. The colours of my suit change slightly as I turn round and round on the spot at I wave my stick in the air. There is nothing real about me - nothing at all. The part I’m playing came from someone else’s fiction - I’m an idea, nothing more, so don’t worry. Nobody’s controlling this, there are no boundaries. I might even have stepped over them without even noticing, for my dancing shoes are good ones, in fact magical ones. I’m still spinning round, I can’t stop now. My diamond suit spins with me… round and round we go.


Writer's Island Unleash

Unleash for the Writer's Island


As Tim Burton fell apart, large pieces of him fell into the pool of water that had begun to form around without anyone noticing. One of the cameramen who stood watching silently began to cry, and it may even have been a pool of salt tears… who could tell. As Elvira and Bartholomew edged closer together they became aware of a salt breeze lifting their hair; the walls that had enclosed them were now so insubstantial and smoky that they may have become merely a dream, a memory… something dissolving, dissolving and spinning slowly down the plughole. There was a low rumbling in their ears - otherwise the only sound was the general sobs of the frightened cameraman. The pool of water seemed suddenly to expand and little waves began to bubble and break… still the cameraman sobbed into his red handkerchief and Elvira gripped Bartholomew’s hand, pulling the wizard towards her.

“What’s happening? Where are we?” She muttered breathlessly, feeling the young wizards body close against her own. It felt like a necessary sensation, convincing her of her own reality. Elvira struggled to control her breathing, the words came rushing out, tumbling head over heels. “Where did the sea come from? Who’s pulling the strings? Or… should I say, who’s holding the wand?”

Beside her Bartholomew shook his head very slowly, his eyes still fixed on the crying cameraman - who had begun also to glance, following his directors directions.

“No, you’re wrong Elvira… not wand - but imagination,” he said carefully in a very low voice. “For look around you - everything’s shifting and changing even as we look. Someone else is in control… not a wizard, not a film director, certainly not a paper character like Alice.” Beside him Alice’s line borders fluttered in the sea breeze. The edge of the wizards robe moved silkily against Elvira’s arm as she responded to his words. “I don’t know where we are, or where were going… it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re only characters on a piece of paper after all - the writer may well choose to drop us at any moment that’s the imagination which controls us, the imagination that’s been unleashed… so that it’s absolutely without boundaries of any sort.”

Silence - only the sounds of the cameraman’s sobs and the gentle breaking of the waves. No walls, no boundaries… only a greyness stretching like the Manchester sky. Elvira lifted her face into the sea breeze and smiled slowly, deliciously.

“I feel it… and I want more,” she said quietly, her words sounding almost like a prayer - either that or a spell maybe. “I’m not frightened any more… I love somebody else being in control for a change. So… I’ll follow quite happily.”


Writer's Island Envision

For the Writer’s Island, this weeks prompt being ENVISION.


Elvira’s hand was on the door knob, but it froze just on the point of twisting it as a great scream ripped through the air. She didn’t turn at once; she felt not a little embarrassed by the scream, which was obviously a male one. Beside her Bartholomew, the young wizard, muttered something in her ear that was barely audible.

“What’s up with the famous film director now? These temperamental artists… I don’t know.”

Standing centre stage by the cameras, Tim Burton clenched his hands together dramatically and held them there posed in front of him, aware of the whiteness of his flesh outlined against his black shirt. He was a perfect picture, the black and the white. His face was contorted, harsh lines pulling down the corners of his mouth and causing his eyelids to twitch incessantly. Beside him the young actress Tabatha stared at him blankly – she had obviously not come across such emotion as displayed by Mr Burton before. She stared at him entranced. It was some moments before he was actually able to string some words together in a coherent order and raise them above the guttural noises that twisted in his throat.

“I can’t believe this is happening to me! I had the vision so clearly in my head – everything I wanted to see in The Looking Glass House… it was all there, all so real. But why has it all gone now? Where’s it all gone now?” The director shook his head frantically, his whole body beginning to shake uncontrollably. One of the cameramen nearby tried to give him a cup of tea, but he was pushed away as Mr Burton continued to play a central role in the drama. “For so long I’ve had this vision in my head – I’ve worked so hard to make it real. Got the actress all ready and had the Looking Glass house built, had it all laid out before my very eyes, I suppose. I can’t believe this is happening… that’s never going to materialise!” The directors voice trailed away as he began to choke back his tears, which forced their way out even though he was trying desperately to hold them back… he was, after all, Tim Burton the famous director. “The house - the dream - the vision is all shattered, it’s all gone… what am I to do now? Tell me what I’m supposed to do without my vision, without my dream? I was trying to touch it, it was within reach, but now… where’s it gone? Where’s it gone? Help me… please…”

Everyone around stared at the directors contorted face and shaking shoulders, open mouthed and silent. Nobody dared to move or say anything. As Mr. Burton’s tears began to rush from his eyes another member of the film crew moved towards him, touching him reassuringly on the shoulder.

“Here here, take it easy Tim… sit over here,” the cameraman said gently, his American accent causing the words to sound like a lullaby. He pulled up a green canvas directors chair and pushed Tim towards it, making the crying director sit down with a jolt. As he did so, a large portion of his shoulder collapsed beneath the cameraman’s friendly grip and it slid to the ground with a rather sickening thud. All around eyes were fastened on his tear stained face… which seemed to waver and decompose slowly even as they watched. Elvira and Bartholomew exchanged uncomfortable glances.

“Look at me! Look at me, I’m crumbling… I’m falling apart!” cried out Mr. Burton, a slight edge of panic creeping into his voice at this point. Fragments of his nose fell off into his black lap, while the whole of his right lower leg beneath the knee came away and collapsed onto the floor. His cries became almost unrecognisable as his body continued to fall apart. “Somebody’s got to help me, right now! Please help me… please!”


Writer's Island Soar

Written for the Writer's Island prompt 'Soar'


(Poem for Jeanne Heburterne)

There was a certain wildness about her

That ignited their passion and he continued to burn

Through those empty Paris streets after the great war had ended

But there was still fighting. He painted as she panted

Giving birth to ideas, and dreams of flight – but now the bird has flown,

that soaring far above have come to nothing –

the baby’s wails echoing around the bare studio walls

Even as her belly swelled once again in despair

she listened to his persistent coughs

Bouncing against the bare bones of his frame

Her scarlet lips still forced into a bleak smile which became twisted

As his friends urged him away –

“Forget her, Modi… have another drink!”

So he can blow on the glass to know he’s still alive. As the winter deepens

around the two of them

Clinging desperately together as the walls became decorated, playing with the flames of their passion

The paint still wet on his final portrait

As he was taken away to die.

She followed him backwards over the balcony crushing her head along with all her hopes

Leaving behind a burning trail of memories that won’t so easily die.


Giovanni Segantini Picture?

Although I remember distinctly copying this picture twenty years ago, I'm not at all sure about its title, because the book has since fallen apart!! The issue is further complicated by the fact that I remember making a few changes in my version... I may have eliminated completely the baby the woman should be holding so the painting may possibly be The Angel of Life - but there again it may not be! I do remember particularly liking the artist Segantini's work for its total strangeness... inexplicable figures floating for no apparent reason at all. I think I may have changed some of the colours of the figure as well... so this is very much my version of the original.


Writer's Island Whimsy

For Writer’s Island, this week inspired by the word Whimsy.


… Going back twenty, thirty years to the room I used to share with my twin sister. Was it really decorated in purple? She had painted on the walls, copied meticulously from the covers of records… strange creatures like the Squonk with it’s trail of tears behind him, all that intricate detail which I so envied… I envied my sister, envied all the valentines, the medals, ability to draw stares of attention. The twin beds were completely dissimilar the covers unmatched deliberately to make us individual as we were in reality - from two separate eggs, nothing to do with each other. A rift grew up between us and slowly widened… I watched the collection of small china creatures grow upon our windowsill, the woodland creatures she collected so carefully, the hedgehogs, the rabbits… a chipped ear or two amongst them, I’m sure. My sister moved the china animals so that they wouldn’t face in the sunlight… and still I watched from the outside, unravelling the memories like thread, leading me back into the labyrinth. For what purpose though am I dredging up these memories, mere self indulgence is it? Nobody else shared that space with me and so these empty words are only written for me, Whimsy’s for me.

I look out the window into the garden, the childhood garden which encapsulated the whole thing, the whole childhood memory. The smell of decay and damp filling my nostrils as I approach the old, broken down garage at the end of the lawn. I used to play tennis by myself for hours, bouncing the ball against the back door of the garage… and what’s the point of resurrecting all these ancient memories now? Is it all quite purposeless… self indulgent drivel for nobody but myself? I used to watch for frogs jumping in the greenhouse, for it was completely overgrown and all the panes of glass were smashed… or at least some of them. So I would sit with the greenhouse door open and watch the long grass move silently as frogs moved with them. This childhood, this garden, still with me now… every piece I loved, the ancient stone sundial, all lost, all faded completely.


Writer's Island Fisherman

For a change… my effort at a bit of poetry for the Writer's Island prompt of “Fisherman”.


Still as a stone he sits

Enclosed by the warm nights silence

Fishing, for what?

Maybe for words

For inspiration

A lost cause, maybe

His mind completely passive and open

Ready to receive, ready to write

Still he fishes

Waiting for inspiration to come.


Writer's Island Breakthrough

This week’s bit for the Writer’s Island, the theme being Breakthrough.


“Hey, come on – cool it, will you?” Tim Burton said soothingly, taking a step towards the wizard. The film director held up both his hands in a placating gesture, shaking his head slowly, as if he couldn’t understand quite why the wizard was reacting in this way. “I’ve no intention of picking a fight with you – whoever you are – I don’t even know your name. I just think you should clear off out of here – you’re holding up filming…” He looked at his large computerised wristwatch. “Time is money, if you know what I mean.” He glanced over at the sobbing Alice who was still clinging to Bartholomew’s side. “I think your friend wants you to take her home,” he added casually, turning away and going back to the cameras.

“Yes, I know… but I’m not sure exactly where that is.” The young wizard glanced over his shoulder at Elvira, who had been standing just behind him all the time. “Do you know Elvira?”

Elvira frowned at the papery black and white illustrated little girl for a moment.

“Let’s see, Oxford? Yes, Oxford.”

“Well, that’s where we are now,” came a different voice, clear and strong, an actress’s voice. The young woman who was playing the part of Alice strode towards the intruders, her long golden curls clustered around her face, which seemed theatrically white beneath the lights. Her scarlet lips were pressed together tightly, trembling slightly with emotion. “Look, I don’t know who the hell you guys are but you better get out of here right away, you’re holding everything up, don’t you see, this is my big chance, my first staring role – and a big Tim Burton film. Oh, I’ve waited so long for this chance, and now you’re going to ruin it.”

“Take it easy, Tabitha,” said the director, putting his arm reassuringly around the young actress’s shoulders. These people were just leaving, isn’t that right?” He glared at the witch and wizard accusingly. “The door’s over there,” he added needlessly, nodding his head in its direction.

Alice’s papery edges seemed to have stopped shaking so violently, as her sobs slowly subsided, perhaps even a touch of resilience coming into the shaded strokes of her pen lines, as she raised her eyes up to Bartholomew’s face, her contrasting black and white edges seemed even more clear than ever.

“Am I really going to go back to my book? Will I see the mad hatter once again?” She asked quietly.

“I don’t know about that, Alice, I’m afraid. Not if Oxford is anything like I remember it. you say the year is now 2014?” The Wizard glanced at the director before turning towards the door.

The director nodded curtly, already getting back into his successful film directors roll. As she took a step outside, Elvira whispered into Bartholomew’s ear, “It’s ok, Bart, don’t worry… I think I remember Oxford pretty well and I don’t believe it will have changed much in a few years. let’s go.” She pushed the young wizard and Alice ahead of her, out into the entrance hall, giving Bart a quick kiss on the tip of his nose as she did so.


Writer's Island If only...

My piece for Writer’s Island - this weeks prompt is “If only”…


The wizard wrapped his arms protectively around the flimsy pen and ink illustration of Alice, kneeling down so that she became almost hidden within the folds of his midnight blue robe. Despite the fact that she was only paper, he could still feel her emotion bubbling against him.

“Take me back, please… I don’t want to be here any more,” Alice pleaded frantically in a thin voice that could have slid under the door… if there had been a door to speak of. Despite the thinness of her wails they were perfectly audible to every one, as the whole room had become silenced - all the camera men were standing around not knowing what to do, waiting for Tim Burton’s instructions. The director himself stood staring helplessly at the original Alice, his eyes switching nervously back to Tabitha, his actress playing Alice. The original Alice continued to cry as if she were trying to drown herself once again in her own tears. “If only I’d never stepped out of my book… if only I’d stayed just a pen and ink illustration! I don’t want to be real… it hurts to much, it drives me quite mad!”

“Shhhhh, don’t cry… everything’s going to be alright,” Bartholomew said soothingly, stroking the little girls dark hair. “I know everything feels so strange… but nobody’s going to hurt you, don’t worry.”

Tim Burton cleared his throat awkwardly, fidgeting with the collar of his black shirt with thin, nervous fingers. As his expression remained serious… touched by a slight guiltiness.

“Hey now… listen, Alice… I’m sorry, I feel this is all my fault - I really didn’t mean to cause you such distress you know,” the director said in a low voice. His American accent very obvious, and it jarred against both the presence of the Victorian illustration and the wizards - even though Elvira and Bartholomew were contemporaries. Tim Burton spread his hands wide in a helpless gesture as he took a few steps towards the crying Alice, but still made no movement to try and touch her… for his fear kept him at bay. “why are you so upset though? This is the twenty-first century… you can’t possibly expect to remain un-changed all these years you know - it’s ridiculous. I’ve simply used the original Tenniel illustrations as the basis for my version of Alice, who’s nothing like you I’m afraid.” The black figure stroked his shoulders helplessly. “That’s just the way it is, I’m afraid.”

The flimsy figure continued to sob, though muffled by Bartholomew’s robe it was still audible.

“But I don’t belong here… this is nothing to do with me! I want to go home, I don’t want to have anything to do with these modern versions you’re so fond of.”

Looking slightly irritated, Tim Burton folded his arms and gave a loud tut.

“You’re quite happy to remain just a book illustration then, are you? Just a figment of Tenniel’s imagination… or was it Lewis Caroll’s, I don’t know. Any way one of those Victorians.”

Bartholomew glared at the director, holding Alice tightly to him.

“That’s quite enough from you, I think Mr. Burton… leave her alone. You’re just confusing her with all this modern stuff… she doesn’t know anything about films, remember.”

“Well, that’s hardly my fault is it?” snapped Tim Burton fiercely. He seemed suddenly to loose patience with all these things which were going on, all these strange characters appearing out of nowhere and talking about nonsensical things. “You should remember who your talking to, any way… don’t tell me what to do or I’ll have you thrown out of here. I’m the boss, remember… not you or Alice or any one else - me, Tim Burton.”

The young wizard straightened up very slowly, giving a contentious laugh

“So you’re going to throw me out, are you? I’d like to see you try, Mr. Burton… just try.”

Beside him Elvira drew her wand slowly, moving closer towards her comrade.

“And I think you’ll have to throw me out… if you happen to do such a thing,” she said softly, “for we wizards stick together, you know.”


Writer's Island Time Travel

Here’s my bit for the Writer’s Island, this week prompted by time travel.


Just as everything around them appeared to fade away completely, somehow the definitions of the fireplace, the chess pieces on the floor and the back of the huge looking glass over the fireplace became sharp… so that suddenly they would change, the whole place was changed even though it remained the same. It was all bright, everything was lit by artificial spotlights which only added to the unsettling quality of the change that had taken place. The witch and wizard looked around nervously, exchanging glances.

“What’s going on, do you think?” Bartholomew said in a low voice, catching hold of the edge of Elvira’s robe as the two of them stepped instinctively closer together. “Have we travelled again? They never had lights like this in the Victorian era.”

“No… we’re back in our own time, maybe,” whispered Elvira.

“Well, then you can’t blame the floo powder this time,” muttered Bartholomew, staring around him at all the cameras. “who are all these people? And… wait a minute” he pointed over the still spellbound Alice’s shoulder to another Alice being made up to look the part. “don’t tell me were on a film set.”

Suddenly a serious faced man dressed entirely in black came striding towards them.

“Who the hell are you, and what are you doing on my set?” he demanded.

Elvira gave him a cool smile, shrugging apologetically.

“Sorry… I think we lost our way somewhere along the line,” she said with a nervous little laugh. She stared at the unshaven man curiously before asking, “you’re the director, I presume?”

The monochrome figure glanced at the witch quickly, drawing himself up to his full height - which was not much, but even so he had a certain air of authority.

“Of course I am. This is my film, my set… and that’s my Alice… I think.” He stopped suddenly staring at the strangely sketchy outline of Alice, who was just beginning to wake from her trance. The director glanced quickly over at the other Alice, still being made up amongst the cameras. “What’s going on? I thought you were Tabatha.”

The little girl who was being made up came running across to the director eagerly. She eyed the real Alice curiously.

“Here I am, Mr Burton… all ready for Scene One again.”

Elvira gave a little cry of astonishment, clapping her scarlet tipped hand to her mouth.

“You're not really… I’ve always wanted to meet you, I loved Edward Sissorhands. You look just like I always imagined you would… don’t you think so, Bart?”

Beside her, the young wizard nodded, speechless. Elvira continued, taking a bold step toward the famous director.

“I took my class to see your Alice in Wonderland last year… but I didn’t know you’d made Through the Looking Glass as well, what year is this, anyway?” The black clad director shook his head silently, struck dumb it seemed. But the little actress beside him spoke up.

“It’s 2014, didn’t you know?” she said with a high pitched laugh afterwards.

“This is strange indeed!” cried Elvira, “What magic is this Bart?” Bartholomew made no reply, taking a hold of the real Alice as she came hurrying towards him, her sketchy outline bending beneath the weight of reality. Her papery face was dissolving into tears as she cried out, “Take me home, please! I want to get back to my book!”


Writer's Island Inception

Here follows my bit for Writer's Island, this weeks theme being Inception.


Bartholomew gripped hold of Alice’s papery hand, searching her frozen expression for any sign of life. Frantically he turned back to Elvira who was staring distantly around the black and white outline of the room.

“Bring her back, Elvira and do your bloody stupid spell at once.”

Elvira shook her head slightly, giving him an impatient tut.

“Really, my dear… you forget yourself. There is absolutely no need to panic, I have everything under control.”

The young wizard switched his gaze slightly to the pen and ink definitions of the fireplace just behind Alice’s left shoulder which were becoming gradually fainter as every moment passed. As Alice herself was becoming merely an illustration from the book the definitions of Looking Glass House was also fading.

“But look, you’ve got to wake her up right now!” he cried, “otherwise everything is going to be lost - don’t you see, everything is fading and changing. If all this was just an idea in Alice’s head, then if she’s fading away then all this will too. And maybe us - will we also fade away?”

Elvira folded her arms across the front of her robe so that the silver borders almost touched each other. Her face was set into a stony expression, almost regal.

“Don’t be silly, Bart - don’t you remember from your old school days? Looking Glass House isn’t Alice’s idea at al l- she’s just a fictional character in Through the Looking Glass, isn’t she? The idea belongs to the writer… who was… come on Bart - who was it??”

The young wizard looked at the witch blankly, watching the background all around him slowly but surly becoming dimmer. He swallowed down a desperate lump in his throat.

“Lewis Carroll, wasn’t it? It was his idea then, Looking Glass House?”

Once again, Elvira gave a distant tut of irritation.

“ Really, Bart - do you remember nothing? Surly you must have been taught that Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Dodgson?”

The room began to waver and shake as borders began to dissolve.

“For gods sake Elvira - that doesn’t matter!! We need to get inside his head right now and get this idea back into reality!!”

“Well dear, you’ll have quite a job - Mr Dodgson’s been dead for a hundred years or more. All this “- she gestured around the room, which was becoming grey and misty as if shrouded by twilight “is someone else’s idea, someone else is in control of things. We’re the intruders into Looking Glass house, remember? Someone else is punishing us, creating our destiny.” She paused flicking back her long dark hair from her face. “And I don’t know about you … but I certainly don’t like the feeling at all. I don’t like it at all.”


Writer's Island Spellbound

A piece for Writer’s Island, inspired by the prompt SPELLBOUND.


“Well, whatever you choose to call it… if it worked once then surely it’ll work again?” Elvira drew her wand from her pocket slowly and tapped it against her thigh as she gazed at Alice thoughtfully, who watched her movements nervously. The little girl took Bartholomew’s hand, drawing closer to the young wizard for protection who swathed her in his robes like a baby’s blanket.

Bartholomew clasped at the little black and white figure, suddenly feeling a great sympathy for her.

“Don’t, Elvira. She’s not used to magic remember… and anyway, we’ve already discovered that the floo powder doesn’t work in Victorian times. See if your wand will work?”

She stared at him icily for a long moment, and then a slow smile spread across her face, but it didn’t seem to hold any mirth in it.

“You will remember, Mr Dross, that I am a witch of great learning and power. Never mind the naff floo powder, that was just a mistake on the part of Merlin’s Magic Store.” She continued to beat time steadily on the palm of her hand, the red and white striped wand rising and falling. “But magic must still be able to reach here, to summon it to obedience.” She glanced at Bartholomew, her expression softening slightly. “What do you think, Bartholomew? Shall I try a little spell on Alice?”

The black and white paper girl tried to pull Bartholomew’s robes even further around her, appearing even whiter than ever.

“Please, I don’t want to become anything other than what I am – a little Victorian girl.” Alice pleaded in a tiny voice. “I’ve had quite enough of changes lately, coming through the looking glass was quite enough magic for me.”

Reaching out in front of her, Elvira pulled the Teniel illustration back out into the open.

“Be brave, my dear. Think of this as a pioneering experience for others to follow.”

As Alice stumbled over the fender and stood before the witch awkwardly, Bartholomew could only stand and watch Elvira wave her wand back and forth over Alice’s head. Alice seemed to become even more static and sketchy… her expression absolutely rigid and blank, completely devoid of life, she appeared to be after all, just an illustration from an old book. Elvira waved her wand a couple more times in flourish.

“There we are… I think that’ll do for now. We have her completely spellbound, wouldn’t you say, Bartholomew?”



Here's another one of my favourite paintings from the mid-eighties, copied from either the video or the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel or the book... I don't remember which. I was completely obsessed by Birdy when it came out and watched the film over and over again - it's about a young chap who's completely obsessed with birds and flying... absolutely wonderful. Birdy himself was played by Matthew Modine and he's the one who is actually in this picture of the film that I copied from. I was very impressed by the way he managed to pose perching on the bed-rail, and also I loved the night colours of the striking image. The other chap in the film is Nicholas Cage, who has since become a bit too famous for my liking... I think this was one of his best roles. I was really pleased with the way my effort turned out - it took me ages to get all the flesh colours just right so that they didn't appear artificial.


Writer's Island Titles

Here's my piece for Writer's Island, the prompt this week is: Titles


The beautiful young witch narrowed her emerald eyes as she looked at the little girl standing before her.

“Wait a minute… I’m sure I recognise you from a book when I used to teach English literature” she said thoughtfully, “Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There… I believe that’s the full title. I used to teach it before I turned to the realms of magic, and moved on to become a teacher of Necromancy at Hogwart’s several years ago. Where Bart and I know each other from… isn’t that right, Bart?”

Breaking off, she slipped out surreptitiously into Bart’s robes; the young wizard glanced towards Alice uneasily.

“Professor Madigan… don’t,” he muttered in a low voice as he shifted from one point to the other, fidgeting with the hem of his robe. “You’re embarrassing me… not to mention Alice. Remember, she’s a well brought up Victorian girl.”

“Come along now Bart – I’ve told you before that we’re on first name terms now, surely?” The witch sidled up closer to Bart, wrapping her arms around her. “I’m Elvira to you now… don’t you remember that evening in my office?” she glanced dismissively at Alice, giving an impatient tut as she turned back to Bart. “As for you my Victorian friend… I don’t know what you think you’re doing here. You don’t belong here at all do you? How did you manage to step over the boundaries of time? Is it something in the floo powder do you think Bart?”

“I don’t think so,” objected Bart quickly, “ we haven’t used the floo powder yet – have we Alice?”

The little black and white figure glanced up shyly, twisting her apron strings rubbing one grey stockinged leg with the other foots black shoe.

“Mister Dross is right, Professor Madigan I’ve not done any time travelling at all… just look around the room. What do you see?”

The witch gazed slowly all around, swivelling her bright green eyes as she took in the monotone surroundings. The vivid blue shades on her robe stood out starkly against the background.

“I see what you mean… everything is straight out of the Tenniel illustration for the book. Which means that…” she paused, tapping her teeth with one pointed scarlet fingernail. “We’re the ones who’ve done the time travelling, me and young Bart not you, Alice… we’re still in your age, aren’t we? That’s the first time I’ve ever travelled in time with floo powder, I must admit – that’s quite impressive. How do you think we managed to do that going backwards?”

Bart gave a shrug, looking away.

“It’s my first time as well Elvira. I don’t know how we managed it… something in the mind control, maybe.”


My version of Chatterton.
This is another one of my very earliest reproductions of my Pre-Raphaelite paintings done when I was I think about eighteen. It was copied from a black and white photo, and after I saw the original in the Tate Gallery and discovered I had got the colour of his trousers wrong - they are blue not pink!! Ah well, call it artistic licence... I've always been fascinated by the great romantic tragic story of Chatterton, and also the great romantic story of the Victorian painter, Henry Wallis falling in love with the wife of the model for Chatterton George Meredith.


Writers Island Reunion

Here’s my bit for Writer’s Island – the theme this week being ‘Reunion’.


Without another word Bartholomew led Alice over the fender and stepped into the ashes which covered the grate. He hesitated for a moment before closing his eyes tightly, a look of intense concentration furrowing his brow.

“I’m not at all sure this’ll work when there’s no fire,” he told Alice quickly, “but it’s worth a try anyway. I’m going to try and go back to my old school, Hogwart’s… I left it a couple of years ago.”

Alice glanced up at the young wizard uncertainly.

“What do I do?” she asked, “How can I help with the magic?”

Bartholomew shook his head, concentrating hard and clutching Alice’s hand close to him.

You can’t do anything, I just have to lead the way and think of wherever I want to go. You just follow.”

“Alright,” stepping into the grate and being instantly enclosed by darkness, falling down… and seeing around her head spinning shreds of energy, places, people she had never met and did not recognise… still she kept falling, unaware of the young wizard clutching her hand.

Eventually she realised that her surroundings had become still. She gazed around back over her shoulder and thought at first that the room was her father’s study back in Victorian Oxford – for she was sure she could smell both the chalk dust and the age of academic books. Alice turned, eyeing curiously the bent and beautiful head of a young woman sat behind the huge dark wood desk in the centre of the room; beside her she felt Bartholomew’s grip on her arm suddenly tighten. The young woman behind the desk unwound herself slowly as she rose to her feet, her dark hair falling almost to her waist. She had the most beautiful emerald eyes Alice had ever seen in her life. the young woman’s face broke into a wide smile as she caught sight of the two figures in the grate. She moved towards them with her arms outstretched.

“Bartholomew… Bartholomew Dross? Where have you been? Come here” she exclaimed breathlessly, her arms enclosing the wizard and pulling him to her with a strength that unnerved Alice. “Come here, you errant young wizard, you! I thought you’d left me for good!”

Bartholomew shifted uncomfortably in the room he was obviously enjoying himself. “I told you I’d be back… Professor Madigan,” the young wizard said so warmly. “I couldn’t just leave you, could I?”

The beautiful witch screamed with laughter throwing back her head so that her long black hair swung out behind her.

“I’ve told you before not to call me Professor… it keeps us at such a distance, Bart… and we know each other fairly well now don’t we?” so saying, she stroked the young wizard’s cheek gently with her fingernails which Alice noticed were filed to sharp points. Alice gave a little cough; she felt distinctly uneasy. As Professor Madigan switched her gaze onto the little girl.

“I’m glad to see you once again – I couldn’t believe I’d lost you within the labyrinth of time and dimension, I knew you’d come back to me. she took a step backwards, looking at Alice coldly. “But I see you’re not alone, my dear boy. Who’s your travelling companion?”

Alice squirmed beneath the intensity of the witches green eyes – but she could say nothing.


Writer's Island Treasure

Another piece of shrapnel for Writer’s Island on the theme of “Treasure”.


After rowing all the way out here to this remote Writer’s Island, I pull up my boat right onto the bank and look all round me uncertain which way to turn now. The sun’s beating down overhead and looking up I see a lonely seagull flying far above the isolated palm-tree growing near by. There are bunches of coconuts on it of course. I climb up towards the tree slowly, because I still doubt who I am or what I’m doing. I can tell the ground beneath my bare feet is sloping up - but that’s all I can tell, and it’s not much to go by. I’m not even sure if I’m a woman or a man, because although I’m dressed in ragged trousers and shirt I can’t tell whether they’re from the eighteenth century and I’m a pirate or if I’m a twenty-first century version of myself.

Standing in the shadow cast by the leaves of the palm-tree I can see a slight bump in the ground and I feel sure I know what’s inside. The map appears magically in my hand but I don’t even have to look at it; I feel around on the bump in the ground for a way in, for I know what’s underneath. Ah, here it is I pull the metal handle and feel myself falling through space. There’s nothing to stop me spinning round and round… I see the sky, the endless blue sky and the seagull screeching perhaps, and the sea by turns, sky, sea, then darkness. I sit up slowly feeling the ground beneath me as hard as granite. There’s no sunlight, it’s so cold in here, wherever I am. I feel uneasy but not too scared. Somewhere in my flight I dropped the map – but who needs the map anyway? As I blink my eyes, trying to bring them into some sort of focus I’m not a bit surprised to find my sight confronted with such a dazzling array of colours – not to mention textures – that I know I’ve found it. The treasure, the writer’s treasure, buried deep on the island. I stare at the jostling, dazzling jumble of assorted things, none of which I can give a name to – some of them seem to be tangible, made of metal or stone, or jewels even, maybe. Others seem to be changing all the time shifting incandescent areas of light, now bright, now a subtle soft glow like moonlight. I stare and stare so hard it hurts my eyes. I can feel the tears coursing down my face… perhaps I‘ll become Alice once again and be drowned in my own tears. That doesn’t seem to be such a tragedy in the circumstances.


Writer's Island Fork in the Road

My little piece for Writer's Island on the theme “A fork in the road”.


The moon was full that night, and the haze of heat hung heavy over the island… indeed, the clouds seemed to touch the mountain tops and to scratch them. As I walked along the dusty road, the silence of the night seemed to enclose me completely… I could still hear vaguely the distant Greek music from the bar which I’d just left. My boots creaked gently as I moved them back and forth, the gentle clinking sound of the buckles creating their own music.

Something on the road ahead suddenly caught my eye, glinting in the moonlight with a strange incandescence. It looked like something unearthly, something totally unrecognisable. As I approached and bent down to pick it up, I could feel the layers of heat rubbing softly against the skin of my bare arm, and the texture of the sensation lulled me, calmed me. As my fingers clutched around the metal object and lift it reluctantly from its resting place, I can tell right away that it’s nothing but a piece of cutlery. I turn it round and round between my fingers without believing it - what on earth is a fork doing out here?

As I heard the car and saw it’s bright headlights, I stood up slowly. The car was an open top one - perfectly suited to this place. The man inside the car opens his door and steps outside, looking at me curiously. The night silence still hangs heavy all around… and I still clutch the fork to my side, turning it very slowly around.

“Are you alright? Is anything wrong?” The man asked. I notice the slight accent touching his words… making another soft music.

“I’m alright… I just found this.” Taking a few steps towards the man, I hold out the metal object towards him. He takes it slowly and laughs very gently, he sounds like the sea.

“The original fork in the road, eh? Well… can I offer you a lift?”

I turn my face up into the full light of the moon, so that it bathes me completely and runs over my arms like a river, a gentle shower of warm rain. As I begin to move towards the car I’m aware once again of the jangling of the buckles on my boots. I heave open the car door and step inside.

“Yes,” I said, “take me towards the sea.”

Silently, he climbs beside me and switches on the headlights once again, though we don’t need them as the moon is still so very bright.


Mariana 1851

This one's also based on a Tennyson poem, it's quite different in style from Meteyard's - Millais being one of the original Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. There's incredible detail in his work, he was very fond of copying from real life - in this picture he copied the stained glass windows from a college in Oxford. I can't remember anything at all about my version, so I can only presume I did it a long time ago! As in the Metyard picture I was drawn to Mariana because of the deep colour.

The original was painted in 1851
by John Everett Millais.


Writers Island The Gift

The following piece is my offering for Writer's Island

the theme this week being “The gift”.


As Alice stared, the lines curved and moved before her eyes - connecting with each other and then suddenly disconnecting.

What is happening?” she cried in astonishment. “I don’t believe it! Moving pictures? Now I feel I really must be going mad!”

“No, your certainly not doing that,” came a smooth voice from the fireplace.

Alice looked up, startled; sure enough, a figure was emerging from the fireplace - though Alice found this vision quite easy to believe after seeing such strange things already in Looking Glass house. She watched the boy as he carefully stepped over the fender, gathering his midnight blue dress robes around him as he did so. The stars and moons scattered all over his robe glistened in the dim afternoon light which came in from the window.

“You're very lucky, I declare,” remarked Alice “that the fire wasn’t alight… or else you would have burnt feet!”

The boy chuckled dryly. “That’s where you’re wrong, I’m afraid… I’m a wizard. Or at least, a trainee one… just wait until I’m graduated next year!”

Alice said nothing for a moment, she simply stared at him.

“I don’t think I believe you… a trainee wizard? There’s no such thing my father says. Tell me truthfully, who are you?”

The boy wizard looked at her thoughtfully, nodding his head slightly.

“Am I not meant to say something like “I think you should tell me who you are first. I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten my Alice in Wonderland… it’s been a long time since I read it.”

“Don’t worry about that I’ve moved on from Alice in Wonderland anyway, this is Through the Looking Glass now,” said Alice quickly. “But who are you anyway? I’m curious to know.”

“Ahhh… you’re quite right to be so,” said the wizard, brushing a piece of dust from his robe. “My name’s Bartholomew Dross. I’ve come from Hogwarts school of wizardry. I was trying to get to Nocturne Ally, but I must have taken a wrong turn… I’m sorry to disturb you, Alice.”

As he turned to go back into the fireplace, she stopped him by catching at the sleeve of his robe.

“No - don’t go! Wait… I might come with you. I’m rather intrigued… I’d like to learn some wizardry also. How do you travel through the fireplace?”

The young wizard stopped at once and turned to Alice, smiling gently.

“You need floo powder to do that Alice - let me give you some. I’d like to leave you with a little gift… something to remember me by. That is, if you won’t come with me now, back into the fireplace. Will you?”

Alice gazed in wonder at the little pot Bartholomew handed her - she opened it and stared at the white powder inside. And she felt quite breathless with excitement. “But what do I do? How does it work?” She demanded.

Bartholomew stood there in the fireplace gathering his wizards robes around him and holding out his hand towards Alice.

“It’s easy - won’t you come with me, and I’ll give you a practical demonstration of travelling in time and dimension. You’re not afraid?”

Alice shook her head and fearlessly took his hand.

“No, I’m not afraid,” she said, stepping over the fender beside him. “Lead the way!”