EXTRACT ( currently about chapter 7)

Johnny stares out at the waves.

Can’t remember the drive.

Almost certainly caught on camera.

He’s always come here when everything gets too much, which was often as a teenager, even before he had a licence, although he’d been driving tractors and landrovers since he could reach the pedals.

It’s trying to rain, but he’s walked down to where the noise and the fret goes some way to dousing his anger and frustration.

He’s oblivious to the final surges soaking his shoes until he sees that his trouser bottoms are soaked as well.

Ignoring the cold seeping up his legs, he walks through it for a few yards, before bending down and taking the shoes off, and the socks, and throws them into the surf.

He watches as they bob about. One shoe being taken off by the rip tide, the other left high and dry.

He waits, transfixed by its survival until the seventh wave comes to collect it and take it off to join its brother. His feet are tingling, but he laughs. An echo come back from the nearby cliff. 

He walks towards the rocks. Manages to get to the grass, the sharp edges and barnacles biting his soles and toes.

He stands watching the coming and going, the foam frothing up in the gullies, his left foot stinging like hell.

He looks down to see the blood.

Stares at it.

Instantly back in the moment. 

Freddie’s face smashed to bits, still trying to scream, until the blood fills his throat and he gurgles into a spasm and is still.

Tears come, but he furiously wipes them away.

He’s aware of barking.

Before he can turn, a black lab comes snuffling round him, licks his bloody foot. He pushes it away.

A middle aged woman calls the dog.

‘Dasher! Come away!’

The dog copies its name and gallops towards her. She stops and looks at this stranger.

He stares back in her direction, but his eyes are looking somewhere else..

She frowns. Sees he doesn’t have any shoes. Jumps to a conclusion. Face goes white.

‘Er . . . are you alright?’ she asks, taking a couple of steps towards him, whilst glancing off to see where the dog is. He’s dashed off, of course.

The man isn’t moving, just staring . . . beyond her, not anywhere here.

She hesitates, sees the dog coming back.

The man focusses on her. Looks confused.

She steps towards him.

Half an hour later, he’s sitting in her kitchen, foot bandaged, drinking tea.

He hasn’t said much.

The woman, Nina, retired teacher, has done her first aid, but not asked any questions as yet, hearing her husband’s calm voice telling her to be careful – ‘you don’t know where he’s been’ etcetera.

Now he seems to be coming round. Starting to take in his surroundings, wiping his tear stained face. Looking at the grandad slippers on his feet. The bandage. Red stain.

He looks up at her. Who is she? Where is he? His eyes meet hers.

‘You might need some stitches in that foot,’ she says.

He nods, but shrugs.

‘Yeh, maybe.’

‘Where . . . how did you get to the beach?’ she asks.

He stares at her. Good question? The car?

‘My car . . . parked it near the gate . . . I think.’

She nods.

‘Red?’ she asks.

He nods.

‘Fraid so,’ with a sad laugh. ‘I know, boy’s toy. Pathetic.’

She makes a face.

‘If you’ve got the money, your choice.’

He stares again.


She smiles.

He looks at his foot.

Later, in a pair of her husband’s old walking boots, fortunately a size bigger, he manages to hobble from her car to his own.

Wincing, he manages to start the engine and reassures the woman he’ll be alright, as it’s an automatic and he only needs his good foot. He promises to give her a call when he gets home and will go to a doctor as soon as possible. She’s not convinced, but what else can she do?

It’s only as she’s washing up, that she finds herself crying, her face creasing into an angry scream. 

When it’s gone, she finds the card on the table. 

Goes into the study. 

The silence is dead.

Shaking herself, she finds the right map and takes it back into the kitchen. Opens it up and spreads it wide.

They’ve driven this route many times, generally heading for Dawyck Gardens, the other side of Peebles, but his address isn’t that far.

He said it was before Walkerburn?

Ah, there it is. High on the hillside looking south. 

She sits and looks out the window. 

hat’s that word? 


‘Don’t be so daft,’ she snorts and folds the map up . . . but doesn’t take it back to its place on the shelf.


ramblings of a tortoise mind

Mostly, I am happiest telling stories, but sometimes other stuff arrives, like refugees, sometimes from places I've never been? Often angry, sad or troubled reflections - but sometimes even happy moments! 



fairy glen was our secret place

where we had our cave

kept our bow and arrows there

our knives

our secret place

we are still 

crouched with our hands in the stream

patiently trying to catch stone loach with our fingers

a stream rippling into a clear pool

a majestic copper beech towers above our still figures

shadows flickering on the water

its branches dappling the mast covered ground

in its roots the hidden cave 

our cathedral

our holy and special place

the silence of the forest rests on our brown shoulders like a green mantle

the intensity

the stillness

the patient hunters feel the soft water flowing through their fingers

watching the wary stone loach gently pulsating

its gills opening and closing

its tail lazily snaking in the current

the hunter hunted

the predator preyed upon

we can feel the presence of others

hands waving in the current

specks in the web

suddenly she grabs and holds the fish aloft

we dance round hysterically

we throw the fish back and forth 

she drops it 

it flops on the ground

then with a bound it is in the river

she dives for it but misses

he can’t believe she’s dropped the fish

but she comes up covered in weed and he can’t help laughing

we both laugh

the light fades

our laughter fades

all is still and silent

gradually we can hear the sounds of the forest

the insects the birds rustling of small rodents water trickling leaves fluttering

we sit staring into the stream

'you who live in cities can no longer hear the unfurling of a leaf or the

sound of a butterfly’s wings'

what’s that?

something I read

I’ll have to go back

I know

many years from now I returned to this precious this holy place  to find that it had gone

it was much smaller

more like a scrubby shed than a cathedral

the trees were scraggy.

the copper beech had fallen and lay dying across the discoloured stream.

its branches clogging the current with sodden litter

I never saw her again

she disappeared from my life like the woods we ran in when we were

wild and free 

My childhood was spent on the beach, wandering the rock pools and running wild in the woods



 what is it with you men?

the roar of the chain gangsta saw

the scream of the hot strimmer

the deep throat call of the enhanced exhaust

the screech of the serrated blade against some rigid metal

the insidious drone of the sit up and beg you for mower 

the overbred snarling vile rotter straining your burnish’d forearm sinews

barking at every fly which maddens its addled cerberusian cortex

just the noise? the advert-easement of virility?

or is it the power? the expert-ease?

to demonstrate you know how to ‘handle yourself’! and 'it' – some urgent machine – which needs control, taking in hand, take control, 

be in charge-d up mode?

or is it the craving to deafen the quietude of nature? to rape and spillage? maim? destroy? to be a warrior encased in Hi-Viz armour wielding weapons of massive destruction? to cut, to shred, to bludgeon, burn and slash your way through the forest of your knight mares

or the need to tame nature? to savage the wild? to govern the burgeoning fecundity of the earth?

                    even kill Gaia?

or just mastering her? compelling her to cow-tow? do your bidding? cum to your heel? honour and obey? 

eat her up? 

perhaps it offends your eye to hear the hushed voluptuousness – the urgency of the naughty, knotted weeds fighting your every scheme – its roots secretly, subversively upending your precious order


                      well - keep on chanting your totemic anthems 

                                                             your death knell caterwauling

                                                                                    making your squalid deals of destruction

                   because in the rapturous end she will eat you whole, like Cronus, her first born, who saw the coming forth in his sons’ rapacious eyes and knew they would destroy everything


                                                                    in a whirlwind of ice and fire!


This was one of those pieces which came almost fully formed from nowhere - except of course from my rage at the ongoing macho stupidies.

It needs to be read out loud, harsh and fast.

(The butterflies came with the wiki-image!!)