Saturday, May 30, 2009

AUC Tour

Sorry to spam everyone but I'm taking tea with Caroline Smailes at her BLOG today. Come and say hello, and try the Yunnan tea.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Laverstone Museum of Junk

The Museum of Junk on Irongate is a must-visit for any discerning tourist to Laverstone. Founded in 1997 by Emma Ginsberg, it celebrates everything we used to value from marbles to plastic daleks; a mobile phone that you had to carry a suitcase for to a battery operated 45rpm record player in red and cream plastic. Everything you never needed, in fact.

Emma is generally happy to sell anything you find in the shop, with the exception of the full size statue of an angel in the lobby, or the well in room three. In the case of the latter, she claims the ‘not for sale’ sign is because she doesn’t want the trouble of moving a 75-feet deep hole. Anything else is available for purchase.

Rumour has it that in 2004 she sold her daughter’s cat off the front counter, though this has never been proven. Certainly the cat has never been seen since.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cherry Tree Road, 17

The postbox of number 17 Cherry Tree Road sports an unusual feature – a stoneware imp on top of the American style postbox. They think it’s stoneware, anyway. It’s certainly heavy enough and hard enough to resemble one of those gargoyle ornaments you can buy at the garden centre.

Unfortunately, what they actually have is a the cast-off skin of a real imp. Quite how it became visible is anyone’s guess, though there is evidence of a petrification process occurring in the skin. When asked, the residents will readily tell you they obtained the chap (whom they christened Cecil) from the St. Winnifred’s School Summer Fete but will be unable to reveal where there might be a similar one.

If you are ever invited to Laverstone Manor, however, you can spot several of these odd creations dotted about the grounds. Just never, ever offer to feed the cockerel.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Downstairs Gallery

The Downstairs Gallery on the corner of Dark Passage and Crow’s Foot* boasts work by both International and local artists. Opened in 2004 as an adjunct to the bookshop above, it has since gained in popularity and attracts buyers from London and Oxford. It comprises three distinct studios: Sculpture, Painting and Transient Materials. There were plans to open an outdoor area but the council refused to pull down the derelict Careers Office next door, citing the opinion that the recession was only temporary.

The Downstairs Gallery suffered damage in 2007 when an underground pipe burst, flooding the building to a depth of twelve feet. An exhibition of watercolours by local artist and wife of the Mayor, Jean Fielding, valued at £12,000 was destroyed. The gallery director, Ms Felicia Turling, said at the time that the flood was a blessing in disguise and the public had been saved from a severe headache.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Psychopathic Warpath

“Hammerhead” Wilkins was not the cleverest of criminals, though he was one of the most violent. After his escape from Wandsworth Prison he made his way across country, killing any witnesses before they had a chance to report his whereabouts. The police followed the trail of corpses as far as Laverstone, where the trail ended. They sent dogs into the woods and alerted the residents of the nearby manor to stay indoors.

Felicia bit into the soft flesh of a corpse’s abdomen. The hammer blow had only made her cross, and had healed the instant she transformed into a wolf.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reminiscences with a Queen

Jasfoup sighed. “It didn’t seem to bother you when you wanted a genetically pure specimen of the Elohim to save the Fae. You seemed happy enough to interfere with a Demon Lord then.”

“That was different,” said Sophia, experimentally trying a light switch that failed to make any difference to the gloom. “We had a common goal then. We wanted the child and he wanted the rebirth of the goblin race and a new queen to rule them. It’s not like there’s an operations manual like the one that came with the Bentley.”

Jasfoup nodded, a half smile on his face as he remembered. “Those were the days,” he said. “Adjust seat. Adjust mirrors. Have your coachman start the engine.”

“Whatever happened to it?”

“Frederick part-exchanged it for a VW Beetle. He got twice what you paid for it, too.”

“That was clever of him.”

“Not really. It was worth twice the cost of the Beetle.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Summon a Queen

The doorway was bricked up – it had been for over two hundred years, but the lintel was still the ancient piece of flinty chalk it had been when it was on top of Blue Fairy Hill for the last four thousand years. You couldn’t stop the Fae from coming just by moving the door.

Jasfoup sketched a complicated set of sigils on the stone and stood back as the brickwork faded from mortal sight. The dark cellar, the oldest part of Laverstone Manor, became flooded with the sunlight from a forest glade.

An empty forest glade.

Jasfoup growled very softly to himself and looked at his Bloodberry. 23:51 he could hear fighting in the Great Hall and it was all he could do not to shout through the portal, but it didn’t do any good to be impatient for the Queen of Fae. He looked down at his PDA again as the seconds ticked by with maddening rapidity. 23:52 A shadow fell over him as Sophia appeared.

“Azazel is killing Lucy,” he said. “You’ve got to do something.”

“Where are your manners, Mr. Jasfoup?” said Sophia. “Have I not taught you better than that? Where is the ‘Hail and Well met? Where is the ‘Oh, Queen, though art the fairest?”

Jasfoup glanced down. “I don’t have time,” he said. “Lucy will die in – oh.” His Bloodberry had stopped.

“Demos may speed up time,” said the Queen of Faery, “but I can extend my world into yours a little way, and the properties of time in Faery are as diverse as its observers.” She stepped out of the portal into the darkness of the cellar, swiftly followed by her four Royal Guards. Jasfoup noticed only in passing that Harold’s son was among them.

“This isn’t a chivalrous tournament where you can wave a scarf and stop the fight.,” he said. “This is life and death angel on demon action. I can’t help her, because helping her would disrupt the balance. I can neither fight against a demon lord nor give aid to an angel.”

“What do you think will happen to her?” Sophia asked, surveying the damp cellar with the air of a potential purchaser who wanted a substantial discount. “Will she prevail?”

Jasfoup shook his head. “No. Without outside aid she will die.”

“Then she dies,” said Sophia. “I cannot interfere with Lord Azazel.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

All Quiet in the Back of Beyond

At least it was quiet.

Private Thomas ‘Johnny’ Applewhite and Soldat Pierre Benarc looked up into the grey sky of the Somme. The mud had dried a little with two days free of munitions fire and warm sunshine, leaving a crust that was treacherous. One misplaced step could send you plunging into a mud-filled shell crater from which you might never be free. Thomas had seen it happen and had no intention of it happening to him.

“Put the kettle on, mate,” he said, making a mime of the act of drinking. Pierre nodded, pulling out a tiny mentholated spirits stove from an ammunition box. Thomas risked a look over the edge of the trench. He could see the Jerry lines in the distance and could make out a couple of soldiers on guard duty. Their stiffness made him shiver. “They never move,” he said. “Day in and day out, they watch us, keeping up pinned in this trench.”

He looked the other way for good measure. No sign of life from their own lines. What if everyone but them was already dead?

“CafĂ©?” said Pierre, offering Thomas first sip of the shared cup.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Thomas replied. “Pity it’s not tea, though.”

“Earl Grey do you?”

Thomas spun at the voice, dropping the coffee and fumbling for his rifle. Since when had Jerry been that quiet? Pierre was desperately trying to load bullets but dropped them into the mud.

“At ease, lads.” The newcomer was a Captain of the 13th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, according to his uniform, though how he’d got to their trench without picking up a speck of mud was anybody’s guess. “They’re just brewing up in Paeronne. The war ended two days ago.”

As they packed their meagre belongings, Pierre drew Thomas close enough to whisper. “Mon dieu,” he said. “Avez-vous vu ses ailes? Did you see his wings?”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chez Demonia!

Ooh! I'm over at the Chez Aspie today!

Another whistle-stop on the blog tour -- how splendid :)

Friday, May 08, 2009


Harold studied the letter. “The council forwarded this to me,” he said. “A group of residents want to use St. Marples as an Ethnic Centre.”

“You already lease it to the market,” said Jasfoup. “Unless they just want to rent the second floor, in which case they can renovate it at their own expense.” He paused, frowning. “What sort of Ethnic centre?” he said. “What ethnicity?”

“It doesn’t say,” said Harold. “I could make a stipulation, if you like.”

Jasfoup nodded, a smile like the Mona Lisa’s chasing away the frown. “Make them be open to all non-Christians,” he said. “That’s about right for an unconsecrated church.”

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Sophia clicked her fingers.

Shadows flickered in the corners despite the bright lights. They coalesced ainto a pillar of darkness which flickered through several forms, Harold, Frederick, Lucy, and a Labrador-sized dog.

Jasfoup laughed. “A shadow creature?” he said. “Lucy is up there fighting for her life against a demon-raised immortal and a host of goblins, and you offer me a shadow? What will it do? Smother them to death?”

“There is no need to be rude, Mr. Jasfoup.” Sophia looked down her nose at the demon, despite his being significantly taller. “I’m lending you a detachment of Fae troops to deal with the goblins. I offer you the shadow as a gesture of good will.”

Jasfoup looked down. The shadow wagged its tail.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Little Blue Blog Tour

Ooh! I'm over at the Little Brown Blog today!

Another whistle-stop on the blog tour -- how splendid :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

One Piece to Share

The two gremlins were cold, tired and bored with the whole routine. Why can’t we go home?” said One.

Feriel snorted and put down his accordion. “We’re here to collect donations for the Waterman Children’s Hospice,” he said. “We will stay for as long as we attract donations.”

“When will that be, though? It’s as dead as a Wolverhampton Library tonight.”

“The seven-fifteen from Oxford is due shortly,” he said. “There will be seven people alighting, three of which will throw between seven pence and five pounds into my cup, three will pass by without acknowledgement, and one will drop in a piece of used chewing gum.”

Two wrinkled his snout. “That’s disgusting,” he said. “What skinflint puts seven pence in a cup?”

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Piece of Adequate Proportion

The document was dated 1865, long before even Lady Sophia was born. Written in faded brown ink upon an ancient piece of parchment, it gave details of a statue found when digging the Manor Well in 1864 and was keptin the same case as the curious antique.

Made of bone, the statue was buried over a hundred feet down, in land that had lain undisturbed since before records began. From the dairy of Lady Clarissa Waterford:

“Reverend Lockson has studied the statue, and has positively dated it as pre-Roman to judge from the style and depth at which it was found. The maker of the artifact had little knowledge of anatomy – the legs are too short, the head too large and the neck too wide and the statue’s reproductive organs are entirely out of proportion. I do, however, find myself curiously attracted to it. Last week, when I was listening to the good Reverend’s sermon in church, my hand strayed to y bag and stroked the statue. It was an automatic response, for had anyone enquired I would have stated quite truthfully that I believed the statue to be in the locked cabinet in the library.”

The statue passed into the hands of Sophia Waterford, who kept it in a tin box in the attic and forgot all about it. It came to light again in 2009 when Harold Waterman, the great grandson of Lady Clarissa, was forced to go into the attic to mend several broken tiles.

He, too, took to carrying the statue around with him. Gillian his partner, caught him stroking it. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Harold shrugged. “It feels pleasant under my fingers,” he said. “Soothing.”

“Is it magical?” she asked.

Harold shrugged. “It might be. Who can tell with these old fetishes?”

Gillian leaned in to whisper. “Do you really want yours to shrink?”

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Harold screamed, the cup falling from his hands to shatter against the red terracotta tiles, a spray of liquid spewing from his mouth as his head twisted to one side. It became etched on Frederick's memory as if in slow motion -- the individual globules of liquid each describing a perfect mathematical arc from his nephew’s lips to the floor; pieces of willow pattern tearing from their neighbours and joining in a brief dance as they died to the sound of cymbals.

Harold blinked once, twice; a tear running down his cheek. “There was no sugar in that,” he gasped.