Magpies are Evil


I hate Magpies.

Everyone hates Magpies.

Magpies  are not nice.

Magpies  steal eggs from other bird’s nests,

Magpies  take shiny objects and the sound that they make when they sing is awful.

Magpies all over the world are evil but the ones in Wales are worse than that,:  they are rotten.

Let me explain.   The number of magpies that you see in a group presages some event in store for you. The rhyme explains how it works:   `One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl…etc.

So  if you see one magpie it foretells sorrow  is coming your way, but luckily  you can prevent the arrival of that  sadness by  greeting  the bird.

In some cultures all you have to do is wave at, or in some other way salute the bird.

In other places you need to hail it, in a voice loud enough for the bird to hear (unless it is deaf or ignoring you),   and  compliment it on its clothing and ask after it’s family’s health.


“ Good day Brother Magpie,”  you call to it,  “I hope your wife and children are in good health”

A simple enough task I’m sure you’ll agree but it is one  that causes me much distress because I wonder that,   If by hailing a solitary magpie you remove the threat  of impending  sadness,  then does greeting two magpies take away the promise of joy,  and so on up the scale?

Well, over the years I have studiously made sure that I greet every  magpie that  I see when it is on its own,  but not everyone  is aware of the importance of  doing this,  so people would give me strange looks and a wide berth if they heard me, all of a sudden, shout out `Hello, how are you`,  seemingly to no one!

They must have thought I was stark raving bonkers!

I well remember  what happened one day when I was walking along with a colleague  and we met a solitary bird,  I was debating whether to greet it  and risk appearing a loony to him or to ignore it and risk the inevitable misfortune that would await me,  when, imagine my surprise and delight,  when  I heard  him calling out a greeting  to the bird;  I have to admit that with that confirmation of my sanity I quickly followed suit!

You know, I’ve often  wondered:  “How close together do  two magpies need to stand to be deemed a pair?” 


Whether out of embarrassment or for   whatever reason  I don`t know,  I taught myself  how to call out a greeting to magpies  in Mandarin Chinese.

I would call out, in Chinese,  something that I hoped would be:-   ` Hello friend, I hope you are well!`  but that would probably sound to a Chinaman more like `My hovercraft is full of eels!

My assumption was that while the magpie  probably wouldn’t understand Chinese it would know that I was trying to be friendly!

By doing this I was happy and able to defend myself against any bad luck (alas  I had stopped doing   this ritual a little time before I met my first wife!)

Anyway, back to those Welsh magpies!

One day on Anglesey I was walking down a tree lined country lane and magpies were sitting all the way along it; but not all together in a large clump,    no, the little sods were sitting,  each on its own… or waere they?    They looked solitary but then they were also close enough to each other  that they might possibly be a pair!

There would be two birds sitting near to each other but on separate trees,  there would be  two  birds sitting in the same tree but on different sides of it or one at the top of the  tree and the other bird lower down and I noticed a couple of birds darting around on the ground, coming together occasionally.  Were they individuals  meeting  accidentally or were they a pair playing chase!

Well, you can understand my dilemma!

As I walked down that lane for some quarter of a mile I had to check each grouping of magpies before greeting them;   were there two birds together or were they  two individuals just   near to each other ?

You can appreciate that  I didn`t want to bring upon myself cartloads  of bad luck by ignoring so many single magpies in one day  or to possibly miss out on any joy that seeing two magpies might bring,  by greeting them ;   neither did I want any strangers I might pass on that lane, to think I was the type of  weirdo  that would shout at two magpies unnecessarily!?

A little bird has told me that those evil Welsh magpies had been sitting together in a bunch idly chatting about things like the weather and what various dastardly deeds  they were going to get up to later,  when the blighters  saw me start walking down the lane and so decided to space themselves in the trees in such a way as to ruin my day.

Needless to say, that after that fiasco, the next day, to avoid looking like a fool I took with me a big bag of walnuts I had in the house and threw them up into the trees as I walked whilst shouting  `clear off you buggers!`  as loud as I could as I passed by each tree in the avenue.   (I actually shouted ‘Pwowdee’.  That’s not a Chinese word ,  but in the argot we used when I was a lad it meant,  with emphasis:  GO AWAY!)

No,   I made sure that those beastly birds  didn’t   make me look and act stupid  that day!

The End


A Very Happy Birthday

Here is my latest bit of flash fiction writing.


Birthday Party


Midnight!   A new day!  His birthday!


He had just taken over the Watch from his colleague  on the Lighthouse

He was alone for the next four hours and could enjoy his big day!

From the parcel she had sent him  he took out the little cake she had made, the  birthday card she had written  that smelled of her perfume, the one that she wore in bed, the one that drove him mad!  also a framed photo of them together, a small bottle of brandy, a deflated balloon and a tin of his favourite pipe tobacco.

It was now Party Time!

He blew up the balloon and taped it to a cupboard door, made a cup of coffee and added a tot of brandy to it.  put the cake on the table next to the photo and card and lit his pipe.

Sitting back in his chair  he pulled on his pipe and gazed  at the photo while he drank his coffee.

His mouth was alive with the rich, round  taste of the baccy and his nose revelled in the warm smell of her perfume from the card and his eyes  delighted in the picture of them both sat in a field with a speck of a skylark soaring in the distance.

His heart soared like that skylark, trilling a song of love unbounded…for her.

After singing ‘Happy Birthday’  he ate the cake, downed the rest of the brandy and went, with his pipe and coffee to the top of the Lighthouse.

With the photo in his shirt pocket next to his heart  he  leant on the railings of the Gallery, lit his pipe, drank some  coffee and looked about him.

Above , in the  cloudless, moonless sky twinkled a myriad stars, one of them named for her.  He looked in its direction and blew a kiss.

Behind him the Light Lens sparkled and glistened like diamonds flying .  On the horizon were the lights of the mainland and to the seaward the lights of ships,  Together  matching the stars in  brightness though not in number.

Looking  down at the ocean  he could see the water, calm, so uncommon for this place, only the strength of the tide flowing it past the tower,  filled with the blue phosphorescent glow of numerous sea creatures.

As he stood watching the  scene, his head  bursting with thoughts  of love for her,  the sky speckled  with lights  from ‘the  fire-folk sitting there’  and around him the darkness of the horizon illumined with the lights of ships and  of the coast that made him think of her,  and   beneath him the sealights  dancing  and prancing , reflecting the mood in his heart.

Surrounded as he was by so many lights shining for his birthday,  with so many delicious tastes and smells bursting in his mouth and nose and in his heart the eruptions of loving sensations of her he knew, as he felt it all, that birthday parties didn’t come much better than this.


My Piles Will be the Death of Me!



Someone once said that when they die they feel that it will be next to a pile of  books that they had bought but not read and that the pile would be taller than them. I have the same fear about myself  except that my pile is growing larger all the time and I can’t stop it!

I have various catagories of books; the saddest catagory  is ‘books I have given away, regretted parting with  and had to buy a new copy of.

It is not really accurate to describe many, if any, of my books as ‘unread’ for I have read bits of all of them and all of some of them!


I used to think I was a bookworm but have recently discovered that I suffer from ‘abibliophobia’ the morbid fear of having nothing to read!

May God have mercy on my soul!  I know that he will.  I’ve got it written in a book somewhere.  Hang on; I’ll just go and find it on my bookshelves… I’ll be back in a mo


Why Didn’t They Listen?

I was doing a search of the 1851 Anglesey census and found the names of two people whose story really intrigued me.

Two women of  the same age, one of them married the other not, moved together to the island from the same little village in Cornwall.

I wrote this:

Why didn’t they listen?

I tried to tell them all that I didn’t want to marry him.   I told them that I knew I couldn’t make him happy as his wife.   I couldn’t love him,   or indeed any man.

His touch, his very nearness to me,  was unbearable.

I tried to learn how to  live with it but I couldn’t and as time passed he got angrier and more demanding and we both grew unhappy and resentful of each other.

It was Jane’s friendship that kept me from going mad,   She was almost my age and we would talk for hours.  We could discuss  anything and everything and  we would share our thoughts and dreams.

And then one day, as we walked and were fording a stream in the woods  she  gave me her hand to hold for support as I crossed over and it felt steady and I felt safe as I held onto it.

Sometime later she called on me when I was feeling particularly unhappy.  She hugged me and her embrace   was so warm, caring and loving  that I knew I never wanted to let go of her.

One day  she told me she was going to leave the village.  She told me that she needed to start a new life because she loved me and couldn’t cope with seeing me and not being able to be with me.

She cried when  I told her how I felt about her  and that  I wanted her with me always.

We live in North Wales now.

We are seen as two ladies who share a room in a lodging house to save money on rent and who work in a local mill.  If anyone asks me  about  my husband   I tell them he is mining in South Africa,  but they rarely do.

We still  have to be careful;  there are other Cornish folk living here who might know us or my people back at home   but my Jane and I can be with each other.

We are together.

We are happy.


What I did at Christmas.

What I did at Christmas.
I hate Christmas. I’m not going to apologise for that.

I never apologise for anything.

I’m sorry but that’s the type of man I am.

As soon as Advent begins, or when people start putting up their decorations in September my heart fills with dread…’it’s coming!’
They always have Christmas when the shops are busy, why can’t they have it at a quieter time of  the year?

And it’s always rainy or snowy at Christmas. Why can’t we do like the Australians do and have Christmas in the summer?

At Christmas my house fills with family that I’ve tried to avoid for the rest of the year and they all want feeding and entertaining and because of the Christmas Spirit I’ve got to be nice to them and not tell them to ‘bugger off’ like I want to. They leave lights on all over the house at night, they leave the loo lid up after using it  and spend  longer than they need to in the shower!
To be fair, they do offer to do the washing up…but not one of them can do it properly so I either have to say ‘No’ and do it myself or let them try it and go around after them and do it all again.
And I have to work over the holidays whilst everyone else relaxes and has fun. I hate it!
I do a night shift you see,  moving and delivering things all over the place, the pay is rotten, the equipment I use is outdated, I get no help and if I don’t get finished by morning there’s hell to pay!!
Reindeer are not peaceful animals you know! They’re not like little fluffy Bambis all cuddles and kisses, they bite and kick and they smell at the best of times, but they are daytime animals, so making them work all night is no fun, they don’t like it and they let me know that in no uncertain manner!
Have you ever sat behind 6 grumpy flatulant reindeer who’ve eaten nothing but carrots and mince pies for hours on end! It’s no fun, let me tell you.
You don’t think I eat all those mince pies myself do you? For one thing I’d never fit down the chimneys I have to get down and for another thing…the taste of Mince Pies begin to pall after you’ve eaten the first couple of hundred or so and some of your mum’s are fearful cooks you know, pastry as hard as bullets!
The glasses of sherry and port that people leave out are always welcome but I enjoy it so much of it that now I’ve now got gout and a bulbous red nose from quaffing it.
I’m not going to waste that stuff on the reindeer, they’re grumpy and windy enough already, don’t want them to get drunk too! Do you remember how horrid Uncle Eddie was last Christmas, they’d be like that, only 6 times worse!
You know all this guff about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. There ain’t no such thing, don’t need him, there’s just me! People mistake me for him in the fog! I don’t know why though I don’t think I look like a reindeer’s face, quite the opposite really!

When I deliver stuff to a Methodist’s house and find a glass of milk or cup of tea left out for me! O how much I like that…NOT! And some of the food those New Agers and Trendies leave out! I wouldn’t touch it myself and daren’t offer it to my grumbling team! Meusli bars and Spinach vol au vents! Bah Humbug! as my old friend Ebeneezer says!
And then to cap it all, as I fly away after making all that effort, ,under the sounds of reindeer barking and whatever I can hear millions of people saying..there ain’t no such a person as Father Christmas…Fiddlesticks, if there weren’t no Santa who would give you presents on someone else’s birthday!

Pity Poor Ebeneezer

As part of my Christmas tradition I am reading, Charles Dickens’  ‘A Christmas Carol’.  A truly fabulous story but…and mine is a big but…

I am saddened by the dreadful press that Scrooge gets, not especially in the book but by all critics since its publication!

Scrooge as an adult  was the product of the neglect he suffered in his childhood. Unloved and indeed hated by his father who blamed for causing the death of his mother  when giving birth to the child. As soon as he was old enough he was sent to a cold and dismal boarding school where he endured great privation and was left there  during the school holidays by his father. His older sister, Fan, was loved and cared for by their father, all his spleen was vented on Ebeneezer.

Picture the young Ebeneezer, watching his schoolmates and friends travel home for the holidays and festivities with their loving families whilst he had to remain alone in that terrible place knowing his father hated him and hsd abandoned him there.

When he was in his teens his father allowed him to return home, a message sent to Ebeneezer via a third party, his sister.  No apology or words of  regret from the old man for his treatment of the boy, no words of love or welcome, just the information from his sister that ‘Father’s mood   has improved’ and that she had managed to persuade him to let Ebeneezer return home. Did his father want him home  or was it because Fan wanted him back that his father relented?

But what would his home life have been like upon his going  back to live at his father’s house after spending most of his young years away fom it?  Could he have trusted his father’s offer and could he have learned to love him? Did his father love him? Is Love a good and dependable emotion for him to attach to?

As an apprentice at Fezziwig’s he saw fun and jollity at Christmas time, but could he trust it or was  it a sop to the workers by the employer to make them feel wanted and so work harder?  If it was a genuine outpouring of Fezziwig’s love and friendship ! how does Ebeneezer  react to seeing such  benevolence? He sees that Fezziwig likes his workers and loves his children and shares  happiness with them. He sees that Fezziwig’s children love him! But was it  a prudent business practice or is there the fear that the workers will think less of their employer and so shirk their duty through the rest of the year?

Has Ebeneezer read Machievelli’s book ‘The Prince’ which advises that it is better for a leader to be feared than loved by his vassals?

Ebeneezer falls in love but tries his best to ensure his loved one’s  future comfort and happiness by the accumulation of status  and wealth.  In so doing he  becomes avaricious and loses his Loved  One’s respect..

Ebeneezer  rejects love because Love asks naught of him but to be Loved and does not appreciate what he  needs to offer it. , Can  we see shades of Alberich the Nibelung emerging here!

Ebeneezer’s beloved sister dies giving birth to his nephew and this nephew grows up and  rejects his ‘good’ advice. We do not know if he rejected financial or career advice fron Ebeneezer, but he does not seem to be a businessman. (Has he a private income from his late mother’s will? . But Ebeneezer  is heard at one point to chide the boy for marrying someone ‘as poor as himself’, so maybe there was none!

This nephew, whose mother died giving birth to him and who, on her death bed asked Ebeneezer ro look after the child,  marries someone for love, paying no heed to how he will provide for this woman.  Not only is this a  sign  to Ebeneezer of folly on the part of the nephew but further ‘proof’ of Ebeneezer’s intrinsic worthlessness as his counsel is ignored!

By the time that the ghost of Jacob Marley has left him on that gfateful night Ebeneezer’s  bad grace is beginning to weaken and during the visit of the Spirit of Christmas Past he is seeing that life could be different, could be better and that he has the ability to enjoy it if it was. It is, however, necessary for the Spirits of Christmas Present and Future to  visit to convince him that he can change, that it is worth him changing, that he can join Life,  that Life will accept him if he does and  that he can sustain and maintain those changes.



Poor Ebeneezer, weep for his loneliness and his rejection of human interactions. Rejoice in his Salvation. And God Bless Us, everyone!

The Infernal Life of Branwell Bronte

This man Branwell has  had to suffer not only the ignomony of  being  virtually forgotten by history because of a perceived lack of talent on his part but he has suffered the  much worse fate of being villified and having his character besmirched by not only those who write about him as a historical figure but by those people who were nearest and dearest to him, who knew of his talent and his torment but chose, for their own evil plans and vaingloriousness to paint him in the colours of a wastral and drunkard!

My aim is to seek to re-examine the life and times of Branwell Bronte and expose not his ‘Infernal World’ as  it has been called but  the Hell  that he endured on a daily basis when alive because of his madness and sadness and also because of the maltreatment and abuse he received at the hands of his  family, especially that evil manhater of a sister of his, Charlotte.

I will post further blogs in 2016 prior to my book/story on 26.6.2017, mine and Branwell’s birthday