Sunday, 31 January 2010


The first time we came to view the house he was there: sitting in the garden under a bush – just chilling out in the sun. He perked up when he saw us, allowed us to say hello. I guess we both loved him from the start. In fact we secretly hoped this fluffy black cat would come with the house.

Within a few hours of opening the back door for the first time he was a part of our lives: either strolling in casually when we opened the door, or waiting on the fence first thing in the morning. After an incident of his sneaking in and not being noticed having hidden in a quiet corner to go to sleep, our arriving to discover him lead to a checking for catty deposits, pretty soon we got him a food bowl and a litter tray in case he got shut inside again.

We had some builders round one day: someone to look at the bathroom, someone with a new washing machine: and as we led the builder upstairs we saw a small black shape slinking out of the bedroom. To this day I don’t know how he got up there without us noticing.

His name was Charlie, though I’ve previously called him “Furry” on this blog: a big black ball of fur (possibly) all the way from Manchester. He originally belonged to my next door neighbour’s partner, but when they split up and she went back up North she was unable to take Charlie or Willow (our cream Siamese – previously referred to as “Tiny” on this site) and they both remained frequent visitors to our house.

I remember nearly two years ago, just before we officially adopted them both. We had come back late from my cousin’s wedding and Charlie wanted in. This was before he started sleeping over at our house and just after midnight I put him outside – thinking: what can happen in April?

Later all I could hear from outside was his sad cries and I found him on the back doorstep, shivering in the snow! He came into the bed, just about the only time he ever did that, and stayed with us for hours.

Not long after our neighbour announced that he was thinking of moving away and asked us to officially adopt Charlie and Willow. We did so with joy and took them both to the vets to get checked out and registered. Neither had been to the vets for nearly three years and both had to have several teeth removed.

Also he was mostly deaf – he had a long running ear infection that we had to treat with drops and for a month or so he had a collar on to stop him trying to scratch out the pain.

I remember the first time he faked a terminal illness. He was off his food, vomiting blood. We rushed him to the vets in a washing basket in case of accidents, as we had not at this point got a cat basket, and were told to expect the worst – turned out that it was just a furball on that occasion.

And there are all the funny things he would do: like he would jump from the chair to the sofa and we would give him marks out of ten for style, finesse and landing, we could always pick him up for a hug, he would complain about being groomed but just stand there and take it. And all the times that he had to be put into the shower to wash off something that had got stuck in his fur: or the time when he was sitting innocently by my side then moved lightning speed to steal a piece of sausage.

We started out with the intention of keeping them downstairs at night, but Charlie and Willow made a cunning team. Charlie the perpetrator and Willow the instigator and accomplice stood at the door. Charlie, paw underneath or sometimes at the side, pulling at the wood, Willow egging him on until they soon managed to open it. We tried putting a heavy weight on the inside, but Charlie just put his head down, pushed it away and returned to plan A. After that we just let them have the run of the entire house. We are glad they did as they would both come and snuggle.

He was also a bit daft though sometimes – you could leave out all the food you wanted and he would just sit there and starve because it would never occur to him to go and look until you came back in and suddenly he would think that you had just fed him and chomp it down like there was no tomorrow.

Charlie had a recurring furball problem – evidence of this could be found by either the front or the back door from time to time.

So when he started going off his food again we didn’t think much of it at first. True he was drinking more than usual, but he had always gone through stages of chomping everything in sight and then eating nothing for a few days. But then I began to realise that he hadn’t been up into the window for days, bringing down the curtain in the process; that he hadn’t come to join us on the bed or even followed me through to the kitchen: and I began to notice that when he was placed in front of his food he just wasn’t interested and would pace slowly straight back to the sofa. And Willow began to paw at him: like she knew something was wrong and was trying to get it out.

Friday 29th January – he didn’t eat anything except a little bit of tuna and I was out with some workmates when I got a call from my partner saying she was taking Charlie to the emergency vets. I arrived shortly after.

The prognosis was confusing but not encouraging. To me, at least, the emergency vet was merely shrugging her shoulders and saying “Well, you can get some tests done if you want, but...”

We took him to our own vets Saturday morning and left him for blood tests. These all came back negative: which meant it could only be organ failure. The x-rays confirmed this: showing that his abdomen had swollen with fluid: fluid that would return within an hour if it were drained.

There was nothing else to do.

I held him one last time, kissed his head: told him how sorry I was and how much I loved him. We both stroked him as the vet (a much nicer one) gave him the injection. He was gone within seconds: his head just gently lowering onto his paws.

I am glad in a way – because up until those last few days he was his usual self. Even at the end he didn’t seem to be in any pain: he was just without any energy. I could never have forgiven myself if he had suffered, or if we had been unable to have been with him when it happened.

But the image that will stay with me: the one that I may never forgive myself for is just standing there and keying in the four digits for my payment card, buying his death like I was paying for the fucking shopping. Couldn’t we have done that some other time? That really hurt.

We don’t know how old he was exactly – but he must have been about seventeen years old. Not bad for a cat, but I could have wished for so much longer. I would have given the world for another few years.

Last night I got up to check the back door and there was no one on the sofa to watch me quizzically as I walked through. Nobody jumped onto the bed with a slight purr of announcement.

No one tried to sit on my head in the night or had to be persuaded to lie in the space between my body and my arm. No one had to be pushed aside when I came to sit on the sofa, nor did I have to hold my food in the air to keep it out of his reach. Nobody on my lap as I played on the play station: holding the control high enough to allow him to settle and sleep. Nobody clawed their way up my leg as I was typing this and then tried to lick my fingers. I miss every one of these things and the space where he should be on the sofa, squashed in between my leg and the edge of the sofa, gives me no comfort at all.

He will never sit in that gap again, his head on my leg. I will never pick him up and carry him downstairs to his food, nor wriggle out of bed in the morning to avoid waking him.

But the worst part is that Willow has been so distracted since we came back. She’s always vocal, but she clearly knows that something is wrong and there’s nothing I can do or say to make her understand that her lifelong companion is never coming home. She came through several times whilst we were writing this – calling out to add her voice to our feelings. We know she loved him and will miss him too.

My stomach hurts from crying. Every time I think I’m doing ok it comes back again, just as bad. I got a call from my partner this morning. She was in tears because she had taken a wrong turn on a familiar journey and in her upset had no idea how to cope.

Goodbye Charlie.

Goodbye Furry Cat, Fluffy Cat, Mr Charles, Flobby Cat (flob – UK term for spit or slobber), Charlie-Warlie Cat, Charlie The Dancing Cat, and all the other names that we bestowed upon you. We know you were loved and were happy, which is why we let you go when we did so as not to keep us with you for our sakes not yours.

You will be loved: always.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Must The Show Go On?

And so it was that myself, Argent and my partner arrived in the small village hall, guitars in hand and carrying a bag with a papier-mâché hat: having previously sworn that I would never act again.

I had a brief flirtation with the stage about fifteen years ago now, but to be honest the commitment was just too much for the level of enjoyment it brought. Often rehearsals would be two, three or even four nights a week and be followed by a ten night run with matinee. You had to be really into it to commit, and at the end of the day I just wasn’t.

But when the Toastmasters group mentioned a Panto Party named “Aladdin And The Starship Enterprise” and El Presedente asked me to be involved and to play the Genie it seemed to be just the right side of insanity and I suggested that, in addition, myself and Argent would be willing to perform some songs on the evening.

“Great...great” El Presendente replied... “I’ll send you a script”

This was September 2009: the play was due to take place in December, but by the end of November we had seen neither a completed script, nor had any kind of rehearsal. El Presedente was still busy empire building by inviting a rival speakers group to attend and do an additional panto of their own and seemed to have forgotten to complete his script – sending me a version to learn that didn’t even have an ending.
And then the play was delayed until January – and Argent and I started talking about what we wanted to do musically. We eventually decided to do humorous songs in the style of famous singers, but I’ll leave Argent to tell her version of events there and return to the play

Aladdin And The Starship Enterprise was written in semi-poetic verse that would have left William McGonnagle speechless and potentially shunted Vogon poetry into fourth place (and if you don’t get the reference read The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy NOW!!!!!) and seemed to be constantly evolving. It included jokes that referenced Toastmaster procedures, as well as the band Tight Fit...I mean who’s going to get that reference after all these years? (one hit wonder – famous for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”)

We never did manage a full cast rehearsal other than on the night and even then El Presedente was still adding new twists. This is the man that, when I first met him, was making a big thing about how he always ended up doing everything: and yet totally unable to relinquish control.

My role as Genie was small – just the way I like my acting parts (no responsibility and all the fun), but I still aspired to the school of acting that suggests that your role is THE pivotal role and had privately renamed the show Genie And The Starship Enterprise and was determined to apply for a bed in the hospital for over-acting as a role. Well – what else can you do?

My costume was grey tracksuit-style trousers (borrowed from my partner) with cycling shorts over them, a plain black t-shirt with a colourful waistcoat (again from my partner) and a specially made hat to look like the Starship Enterprise.

And then the other group arrived and started getting changed – and it was like watching the cast of Pirates Of The Caribbean getting ready for another sequel...there panto was bound to put ours to shame.

And so we started our stage rehearsal – with our villain the dastardly Captain Kirk, desperately in search of his lines and wearing a Star Trek uniform borrowed from my brother (technically a Next Generation science-officer top with a Voyager comms badge, but thankfully no one noticed), trying to trick Aladdin out of his lamp and with El Presedente rather bizarrely turning up as Snow White.

And it all went horribly wrong – lines were dropped, suggested, dropped again, buried in soft peat and recycled (again: read HHGTTG Now!!!) before finally being slotted into place – with me over-acting and refusing to do a humorous “gay voice” (how come it is acceptable to take the mickey out of gay people? Surely this should be confined to the same bin as black/Irish and other racist jokes – if you are a humorous gay person then fine, but otherwise steer clear)

And if the semi-dress rehearsal was anything to go by then it was all going to be terrible...only when we came to put on the costumes (me with my partners grey trousers, cycling shorts on top, black t-shirt, partner's waistcoat and papiermache Starship Enterprise being one of the more "normal" costumes) it ran a lot better. True - lines were still dropped, true - it still didn't rhyme and True - El Presedente was still unable to relinquish control and kept issuing directions to cast as we performed

But the thing is – that it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I had to say my line about “Tight Fit” three times before the audio cue came in, it didn’t matter that Captain Kirk couldn’t see to read his script: the audience was entirely up for it and willing to laugh along with us...but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t glad when the bloody thing was finished and I was able to dash back stage and start getting ready for our musical interlude between shows...

Only El Presedente had decided to change the running order again, putting us on after the second panto...neglecting to tell anyone other than us, meaning that the announcer was more than surprised when I came and took my did the other speakers group.

Finally the second group took their place – and although their costumes were better their panto was not – nor was their level or preparation: so we’ll call it a draw and leave it at that.

Back to the stage now with Argent and we took our places – me managing to sing off key throughout and putting my capo on half-cocked: but they laughed in all the right places and only a few of the wrong ones: and we both had good fun doing it and were happy to leave without having been lynched.

I think Argent would agree with me that our musical interlude was a success and we are now seriously thinking about that open mike night we've been threatening for so long...

NB: apologies - i had hoped to bring you a picture of the hat: but the library people wont let me!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Wordzzle 96

Well, all good things come to an end and after Fifteen weeks Maggie has completed her journey from John O Groats to Land's End

For those of you who have forgotten:
Margaret Mills, semi-retired Bed & Breakfast (small hotel) owner embarked on a journey from the most northern part of mainland Britain to the most southern, travelling via mobility scooter. Along her journey she has kept in constant contact with her friend and co-worker Bernard "Spud" Maris via letter and text. Spud himself has been trying to woo Denise the cheerleader and establish the location of his slightly dodgy friend Tosser

Along the way Maggie has caused inadvertant mayhem via stopping a bank robbery, destruction of property (Harry Potter audio books), two cases of accidental assault (against the same marine biologist) and burglary.

Just before leaving on her journey Maggie was seen in the Casbah Club accepting a package from Tosser containing powder. This was shortly after Tosser left Mandala Pharmaceuticals following the disappearance of a large amount of Heroin.

In the penultimate episode Maggie had finally been caught by the police just less than thirty miles from her final destination and was about to reveal all...

As usual the ever brilliant Raven at sets us the task of writing either a mini, a main or a maxi (or all three) using a set of words that have been defined for the week. This week I really have no cause to complain, having suggested the words myself. Did i deliberately choose any of the words for my story? Just one - but I'll leave it to you to guess which.

Thanks to everyone for keeping up with Mags and her journey - I've been really pleased with the levels of interest and response. It is my intention to print off all the episodes, go back, re-write and maybe send as a radio script. If this happens I will let you all know. In the mean time I will be taking a break from Wordzzle for the next few weeks as there are several other things I want to write about and haven't had the chance.

PS: The reasons for Maggies journey go no further - or she'll be round with a rolling pin.

PPS: A Maris Piper is a kind of potato, and the slang in the UK for potato is "Spud". Just thought you should know!

Words for 10-word challenge are: Badger, roll out the barrel, amazing, a lovely cup of tea, pressure, frozen, gandalf, pixies, top gear

And for the mini: smelly, politician, favourite, token gesture, garden







REPORTER #1: The crowds have been out along the shores of Land’s End for some hours now, despite the frozen air and the low temperatures: each one of them has come to welcome the now legendary Bed & Breakfast owner Mrs Margaret Mills as she reaches the end of her fifteen week journey from the most northerly point of mainland Great Britain in John O’Groats to the most southerly at Land’s End.

Just this morning it was revealed that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, had submitted to pressure from the Margaret Mills Liberation Front to drop all charges against Mrs Mills in the light of the revelations from Mandala Pharmaceuticals Chairman Timothy Lumsden that there never were any stolen drugs


KINKADE: We at the Margaret Mills Liberation Front feel that this is a triumph of public opinion over bloody minded legality. We said from the start that we felt it could all be settled over a lovely cup of tea and we are glad to have been proven correct



Alrite Tosser?

U shd’ve sed u were in Marbella, doin deal wiv Simon Cowell’s record bods
We woz rite worrid u’d skarperd

Amazing nuws 4 “Woe Is Me”. Denise sez she’ll download the single nex Friday, as how that’s wen her fone line gets put bak on

Is it tru that bloke from The Pixies is produsin u? Thort e were ded?

PS: Soz mate, but Ive askd Mags 2b best man




REPORTER #2: And the party is really getting underway here at Land’s End as the crowds are scanning the highway for their first glimpse of Mrs Mills. The band here are playing “Roll Out The Barrel” and the beer is flowing freely. I managed to catch a word with Mrs Mills earlier today as she embarked on the final leg of her journey, complete with Police escort


MILLS: Get out me bloody way, you daft bugger: this thing is stuck in top gear and if you don’t move I’ll have your bleeding leg off

REPORTER: Mrs Mills: can I ask you – how do you feel as you approach the end of your journey

MILLS: Knackered, smelly and right ready for a bath – how do you bleeding expect me to feel?

REPORTER: And would you care to tell me what your favourite part of the journey was?

MILLS: No, I bleeding well wouldn’t!


REPORTER #2: Mrs Mills refused to answer any questions about her journey or give any reason for her trip, her continued silence leading to much speculation for her reasons. (PAUSE)

I’m standing here with Lady Sabrina Mullhollander-Djones, Member of Parliament for Land’s End. Lady Sabrina: you’re here to give Mrs Mills the freedom of Land’s End, surely that’s a token gesture?


REPORTER #2: Mrs Mills! How does it feel to finally reach your destination?

MILLS (INDICATING DEREK KINCADE): Here! Why is that daft bugger dressed as a Badger?

REPORTER #2: Mrs Mills, will you please answer some questions.

MILLS: And who’s this posh bit of stuff, stood so straight you’d think she’d had a garden rake shoved up her bum?

LADY SABRINA: I will have you know, Mrs Mills, that I am the right honourable Lady Sabrina Mullhollander-Djones, MP for Land’s End

MILLS: Oh right...well, that’s different then (MAKES A SUDDEN GESTURE)

LADY SABRINA (COUGHING): I say! What the bloody hell did you just throw in my face?


Dear Mrs Peterson

I were right surprised to get your letter from OK magazine, asking as how you want me to give you an exclusive interview for your paper. I can only give you the same answer as what I give to the other papers that asked:


My reasons for travelling ain’t nobody’s business except for those that need to know, or as I wants to know: and each one of them that I has told knows better than to wrong me by telling any of youse lot, as they know I’ll be round there houses with a stick before they can spend a single penny of their filthy lucre

Might as well go and ask Gandalf the wizard for all the good it will do you

Margaret Mills


My Dearest Margaret

Well, we allus knew this day would come me ducks. Not like we could avoid it, happens to us all as they say.

We’ve had some right good times: like that holiday in Brighton where it rained all week and all we did were sit in the tent just chatting. Don’t think either of us were any happier than we were that day, not ever.

And I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, arm-wrestling with that Policeman. You were seventeen years old and I were twenty, but I knew right there and then that you had to be mine. Your dad once said as how it were women like you that were the reason Hitler never came past Calais, on account of how he knew there’d be people like yourself waiting with a rolling pin, but I allus knew you had a good heart underneath.

And I know that we never did half the things we said we would: I suppose that’s just how things pan out. I never could buy you the things I wanted, nor take you to exotic places that were any further away than Weston Super-mare.

We ain’t talked about it much since Dr Trevors came round the other week, but I guess that me days are numbered and so I’ve set me alarm for the first time in years so that every day I can wake up and see your face one more time...just in case.

Anyways: when I’m gone I don’t just want you sitting there moping me ducks, it just ain’t your style.

So I’ve had a word with your friend Tosser. I know he don’t work at the funeral parlour no more, but I know he still has mates there, and I know he can do what I’ve asked him.

So when he gives you this note and me ashes I want you to take them with you, right away, and travel with them from John O’Groats to Land’s End: just like we allus said we’d do, but never did.

And every time you stop somewhere just throw out a handful of me into the wind and watch where they fall. That way I’ll allus be there: no matter where you are.

Oh: and if you get a chance – save a bit and throw a handful of me into the face of a prominent politician. That way you might just hear me laughter on the wind.

See you in heaven me ducks


Friday, 15 January 2010

Wordzzle 95 - The Penultimate Episode!

Yes, that's right: Maggie's journey is nearly at an end, so you can expect some surprise revalations and plot resolutions over the next week or so

Thanks to everyone for staying tuned throughout - I hope you will join me again next week for the final installation.

As usual the rules are simple. Every week the magnificent Raven at sets us a total of fifteen words, ten for a standard challenge, five for a mini or all fifteen for a mega - which words we have to encorporate as sneakily as possible into our story.

This week I would like to add additional thanks to the chap sitting next to me at the library who has apparently never learned to read without talking at the same time and nearly got a smack round the head with my umbrella as a result.

Words for 10-word challenge: alternate reality, shadows, frantic, tomatoes, field, lilies, DVD, snow mobile, aggravation, music

And for the mini: grounds for divorce, pink panther, salutations, wavering, lasagne




NEWSREADER: ...with four elks and a whippet.

Police are continuing to refuse to confirm whether the elderly lady they took into custody late Wednesday evening is Margaret Mills, the semi-retired B&B owner who went missing fourteen weeks ago. The as yet unidentified lady was taken into custody following what the Police describe as an altercation with a snow mobile driver just outside of Penzance.

Despite the Police’s refusal to name the lady in question several members of the Margaret Mills Liberation Front are already performing a twenty-four hour vigil outside the station. The President of the MMLF, Mr Derek Kincade said, ‘Anyone who thinks that Mrs Mills can be guilty of any of the accusations laid against her is clearly from an alternate reality and deserves to have their brain pan-fried in garlic.







DI SHARP: The time is 8:15am

MILLS: It’s a fair cop, governor, you got me banged to rights and no mistake

DI SHARP: I’m sorry?

MILLS: Well, ain’t that what you’re supposed to say?

DS CLAY: Mrs Mills...please...

MILLS: Oh call me Mags dear and don’t go bothering with all that formal nonsense. Ain’t nobody that calls me Mrs Mills apart from me bank manager and he’s on the fiddle

DI SHARP: Mrs Mills...

MILLS: Not that it’s for me to say, mind you, but it ain’t right how he mucks about with Elsie Smith from number forty three. It’s grounds for divorce if you ask me.

DI SHARP: What we would like to ask you, Mrs Mills, is about the contents of the package given to you by Mr Trevor Stanley at the Casbah Club

MILLS: Who? Oh you mean Tosser? He’s a nice enough lad really. Did you know he was a champion Shot-putter at school? Oh yes, he won quite a few rewards for track and field: that were until he hefted a javelin at Mr Wavering the headmaster. After that they never let him near anything sharper than a pencil.

DI SHARP: Mrs Mills, your friend “Tosser” has a criminal record as long as the extended DVD collection of “The Lord Of The Rings”, including a reputation for causing aggravation wherever he goes. Now we know that he worked for Mandala Pharmaceuticals and failed to turn up for work the day after forty kilos of heroin was taken from their offices and has not been seen since

MILLS: Don’t be stupid! Tosser didn’t vanish, he were sacked on account of how he forgot to water the genetically enhanced tomatoes. Last time I heard from him he were saying as to how he were hoping to concentrate on his music career from now on – you know, his band “Woe Is Me”

DS CLAY: And yet he failed to turn up for rehearsals

MILLS: Well I’m not sure as to how I’d know anything about that, on account of the fact that I’ve been travelling for fifteen weeks. I only know what Spud has told me

DS CLAY: Spud?

MILLS: Not that I think much of the band, I have to say – sounds like someone scraping the side of a house with a spatula if you ask me. Give me Cliff Richard and the Shadows any day.

DI SHARP: For the benefit of the tape Mrs Mills was referring to Bernard Maris, also known as Spud, who works at her Bed & Breakfast establishment in...

MILLS: I don’t suppose there’s even half a chance of a cuppa tea? I’m right thirsty after all this talking – don’t forget that I ain’t had no one to talk to for fifteen weeks, so I might have gone a bit mental in the process

DI SHARP: Mrs Mills – we’ve taken a look at your journey so far. You’ve had us on quite a frantic search and seem to have left a trail of devastation in your path

MILLS: Well if I have then it were no fault of mine.

DS CLAY: Wilful destruction of property, namely a selection of Harry Potter audio books

MILLS: I said I were sorry about that on the day – it were an accident

DS CLAY: Two counts of assault on a marine biologist...

MILLS: I were trying to save the daft buggers life the first time

DS CLAY: Taking without payment, destruction of a memorial

MILLS: Look, me mobility scooter slipped on the ice – there were no way I could have avoided them lilies

DI SHARP: The list goes on, Mrs Mills

MILLS: Well? Are you going to charge me with any of them or are you just going to sit there making out you’re in a pink panther flick all day?

DI CLAY: We can’t answer that question at the moment Mrs Mills. We just need to know where Trevor Stanley is and what you’ve done with the drugs

MILLS: Drugs? What drugs? The only drugs I ever carry is a bottle of Vicks Vapo-rub for me chest

DI SHARP: The ones that your friend Mr Stanley stole from Mandala Pharmaceuticals. The ones he gave you in the Casbah Club: the ones you’ve been selling to fund your little trip across the country

MILLS: (LAUGHS) Is that what you think I’ve been doing all this time? You daft buggers: I’d be surprised if you have a brain cell between you

DI SHARP: OK Mrs Mills, we give up: tell me: what have you been doing all this time?

MILLS: Fetch me a lovely cuppa tea and I’ll think about it…


Dear Spud

I’m right sorry to say that I can’t write you a long letter this week, on account of how the bleedin desk sergeant won’t let me out of his sight with a pen in case I stab him with it or some such nonsense.

I’m at Penzance Police Station waiting whilst the daft buggers check the contents of that jar Tosser gave me. They won’t even let me stay in a hotel, which I think is bloody madness: I mean, they’ve taken me mobility scooter and collapsing zimmer frame, so exactly where do they think I’m going to go?

Anyway, see if you can’t make it down here pronto, can’t you? There’s a woman in the next cell whose promised to make me her bitch if I get sent down. I told her I had no bloody idea what she were talking about, but if she talked to me like that again then I’d show her the back of me hand and no mistake.





Ave they let u ave ur fone? Ope sew

Tried ringin u, but polize sed u were incommuni-mikado and he wud pass on me salutations

Dont no wot that meens, think e were takin the piss

PS: Denise not happy, coz we gritted the drive wiv the last of her lasagne: so we shud b down 2 penzanze 4 u soon, weathr permitting


Friday, 8 January 2010

Wordzzle 94

Well it’s been three weeks since we last heard from Maggie and she’s getting ever closer to reaching her destination now. My apologies this week for a long post (especially to the Dragons), but thanks to the ever-efficient Royal Mail three of her letters seem to have arrived in one go. Therefore I’ve done my best to arrange things in historical order of when they happened.

In order to make things interesting the first “week” of the journey below contains all the words from the mega, the second all the words from the main and the third all the words from the mini

As you can probably guess Maggie has been up to all sorts over the Christmas and New Year holiday, but I’ll let her tell you all about it herself as she goes.
For those of you who don’t know already semi-retired Hotel Manager Margaret Mills is making the journey from John O’Groats to Lands End on a mobility scooter for reasons yet to be given. She is wanted for questioning by the Police for reasons unknown and is prone to causing havoc wherever she goes.

The rules are that every week Raven sets us a list of words and phrases that one has to use within the story as sneakily as possible. There’s a 10 word (main), 5 word (mini) and all 15 words (mega) competition and you can chose to write any or all variations

Words to use for this weeks competition were: (10 word challenge) space cadet, silver lining, wood, turtle soup, minaret, ice, grease, sales, mandala, mug

And for the mini: (5 word) broken bones, slide rule, garbage, Chinese, sanguine
For those of you new to the game please visit the ever wonderful Raven at

Finally – thanks again to the ever useful Wikipedia for the facts about Cullompton.
- - - - -

WEEK ELEVEN(The Mega) Cirencester – Bristol (56 miles)

MAXI: space cadet, silver lining, wood, turtle soup, minaret, ice, grease, sales, mandala, mug, broken bones, slide rule, garbage, Chinese, sanguine


NEWSREADER: ...with a slide rule and a set-square. In other news today there is increasing pressure on the Chairman of Mandala Pharmaceuticals, Mr Timothy Lumsden, to resign in the wake of the theft of forty kilos of heroin from their head offices in October.

The drugs had been delivered to the company as part of the Government’s latest initiative to destroy any intercepted drugs illegally transported into the country. Despite several attempts to make an apology Mr Lumsden is expected to confirm his departure within the next few days. Meanwhile Police still wish to interview a former part-time worker with the company, Mr Trevor Stanley. Stanley, who is known to the police by his alter-ego “Tosser” is believed to have gone into hiding just before Christmas...


Dear Spud

Well I have had a hectic week and no mistake.

First of all the weather before Christmas were awful – we had all that snow and even though that had stopped there were still lots of ice on the roads, so I had to drive careful coz I can’t be having with any broken bones: not at my age and these mobility scooters are only so steady on the slippery pavements.

The roads were fairly quiet though, must be all this recession what people keep moaning on about, because I were expecting a lot more people in the centre of Bristol. Mind you I got myself a lovely shawl in the pre-Christmas sales, so I guess I mustn’t grumble.

Well, you know how most hotels are closed over Christmas? Well as you know it were always my intention to stay with Bernard and Marie Wood in Bristol. You must remember them? Norman’s friends from school days? They came up one Friday when you were six years old. No, hang on, that weren’t you – that were your brother that met them.

Anyway, I’d writ to them about two weeks ago whilst I were waiting for the scooter to be repaired and told them as how I would be popping in – so I drove me scooter round to Minaret Place on Christmas Day and of course they were out.
Then I remembered as how they’d always had a dodgy back window, so I let myself in through the gate and helped myself to a mug of tea whilst I were waiting for them to come back.

Well how were I supposed to know they’d moved away?

There were no need for the new owner to stand there shouting the odds at me like I were a bleeding space cadet and threatening me with the Police and I said as much to his face.

It were all getting rather nasty and I were about to have a go at him with me collapsing zimmer frame when Bernard turned up and explained as how the letter had been forwarded to him, only he’d thought it was a cheque for Christmas from his Auntie Mabel and had only opened it after he’d finished his bowl of turtle soup and had lit the Christmas pud.

So the silver lining to the story is that he took me round there just in time for a nice sherry and piece of cake and by the time the Queen’s speech came on I were feeling right sanguine just in time to fall asleep!

Anyways I’ll be staying with them until Boxing Day and will write to you again once I’m back on the road





Merry Xmas!

Me n Denise had a Chinese Christmas day, 1 of the King Prawns got stuck in drain
Denise sez where’s ur stuff 4 removin grease, thinks it shd do the trik?

PS: The binmen didn’t cum this week, so there’s garbage all ovr the drive. Mrs Johnson in room 12 weren’t happy, but I tolled her it were xmas, so she were lucky to ave roof over head.


WEEK TWELVE (The Main) Bristol – Cullompton (62 miles)

The Main: space cadet, silver lining, wood, turtle soup, minaret, ice, grease, sales, mandala, mug

Dear Spud

Well Christmas with Bernard and Marie Wood were right lovely and no mistake. There were a bit of ice Boxing Day, but Bernard drove us down to the docks to see the ships: though he weren’t feeling right – he wouldn’t admit it himself, but I think the Turtle Soup were repeating on him. We shared a mug of tea and then I were on my way to Cullompton this week where I’ve been staying at the Weary Traveller on Station Road: only I can tell why they call it that, coz it’s very noisy, what will all the noise of the deliveries to Tesco and Somerfield in the early hours: so by the time morning came the first night I felt like a right space cadet and no mistake. The room were a bit small, the meals were mostly covered in grease and I never did figure out why there were a picture of Nelson Mandala on the wall, but otherwise it were ok.

The manager of the hotel had splashed out on some fireworks for New Years Eve. Well, I say splashed out, but I reckon he’d bought them in the sales, because they were about as exciting as watching paint dry. Even then I couldn’t get to sleep on account of the couple having noisy sex under the minaret across the road. I were right tempted to go over and give them marks out of ten they were making that much noise




Pumbr came 2 look at drain, sed the silver lining on pipes were decay or sumthin. I tolled im not 2 try n cheat u, or u’d b round with a stick wen u got back

Denise proposed New Years Day. Not sed nothin yet.



WEEK THIRTEEN(The Mini) Cullompton – Liskeard (65 miles)

The mini: broken bones, slide rule, garbage, Chinese, sanguine

Dear Spud

Well I’ve had a right lovely journey this week, right across Dartmoor National Park it were. The traffic weren’t too bad, but a few of the roads were still frosty.
Just outside Exeter I had a bit of a nasty incident when me mobility scooter slid on a patch of ice and collided with an elderly Chinese gentleman. He kept yellin how he were going to sue me if he had any broken bones, till I pointed out there were nowt wrong with him apart from a bruised ego

Dartmoor were next and it were very quiet, so I were glad when I got through to Tavistock for the night. Not that it were much of an improvement I have to say and I were happy to be moving on again.

I arrived in Liskeard last night and were chuffed to bits to see a large Homebase store on the outskirts of the town, because I’ve been meaning to buy meself a new slide rule so as how I can chart the whole of me route when I get back.

Still, that were on Thursday when the traditional market were in full swing and you couldn’t move for cattle tramping around the place. I think me mobility scooter got a dent from one of the hooves and me rear wheel still stinks of manure, so the hotel owner weren’t best pleased when I asked to bring it in to their kitchen and put it on charge.

Mind you, those farmers don’t half leave a lot of garbage in their wake: you’d think they’d know better, what with working so closely with mother nature all the time.
Anyway, I should be in Land’s End this time next week, barring any misfortune, so I was hoping as how you’d ask Denise’s brother for loan of the truck so as how he can fetch me back.




Jus got 3 lettrs in 1 go, thanx

Denise made me that pasta stuff – wots it called, sanguin-e or linguini?

Ethr way – sed Y 2 marridge n am ingaged

BTW – stil heard nowt from Tosser – hope e’s OK