Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part Two)


Yesterday in the first part of the story we meet two sisters who are settled back in the town where they were raised. But things are a little different from what they remember. Jenny meets Mrs. Partridge and wonders at the change in her sister Sally.. Despite a tragic year, is something magical about to happen?

Three Sisters (Part Two) by Paul Andruss

Jenny was shocked by how neglected Pear Tree Cottage looked. When she was a kid it always seemed full of light and sparkle. Her and Sal often took the long way home from school just to pass it.

There used to be fairy lights draped around the inside of the windows and the glass panelled door; strung up the pillars of the porch and wrapped around every single one of the snow columned conifers in the garden. She loved the way the lurid coloured lights painted all sorts of patterns on the virgin snow.

One year Sal, who must have been a teenager by then, archly remarked how it looked like Santa’s Littler Helpers had been having a game of paintball. And Jenny thought her sister was dead clever for coming up with something like that.

Now, it was a dark old house, lived in by a lonely old lady. Thinking back Jenny never remembered a Mr Partridge. That must be, what, about twenty five years at least. All that time alone. Poor Mrs Partridge. Jenny felt a pang of shame for considering letting the old woman down on Christmas Eve. There were people worse off in the world, even if it didn’t feel like it.
Inside, the house looked just as sad. Mrs Partridge had not put up a tree or any decorations.

There were no Christmas cards on the dusty mantle-piece. She had not even lit the fire. It was heart-breaking to think someone who loved the season so much, no longer bothered.

When Mrs Partridge took her coat, Jenny wandered to the parlour window from where you could look down at the whole village. The star and snowflake Christmas lights twinkling on the main street and the Christmas trees in people’s windows looked hollow and garish. The lit up decorations of snowmen or Father Christmases on the house fronts and gardens smacked of desperation.

This wasn’t what Jenny remembered. She wondered if the magic had vanished from the place, or just from her. Somehow she thought coming back might recapture a time when she was happy and gave no thought to tomorrow; when she accepted things on faith, and believed.

Mrs Partridge joined her.

‘It looked so magical when we were young,’ said Jenny. ‘We used to take the long way from school just to walk past your house.’

‘It’s a lot of work.’

‘Of course it is. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean… It’s just… We kids used to call you Mrs Christmas.’

‘Well, my name is Mary,’ the old woman chuckled.

‘You’re kidding, Mary Christmas. We’d have laughed our heads off if we’d known.’

‘Do you still think it was a mistake?’

Jenny nodded. ‘I shouldn’t have come back.’

‘Perhaps you need to see through a child’s eyes again.’

‘Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen. Oh you still have it. Lovely.’ Desperate to change the subject Jenny touched the tall triangular candelabra dominating the narrow windowsill. In truth it was anything but lovely. Carved from black stained wood, and holding twelve thick candles, it was too big and ugly. Yet…

‘Sometimes you’d spot me and Sal gawking at your Christmas lights and invite us in. You and Theresa with a plate of her mince pies or gingerbread and mugs of hot chocolate. Then you’d light a candle for us, and it always seemed like something magical would happen.

We’d be so excited. It was like the countdown to Christmas. And afterwards, when all the decorations were gone, we’d walk past to watch you putting out the candles, one by one, every day.’

‘With the last candle always extinguished before the snowdrops bloomed.’ chuckled Mrs Partridge. ‘That was Flora’s time and it would have seemed selfish otherwise. Perhaps… would you? Oh go on, light one of the candles.’

‘I don’t know’, Jenny laughed, feeling a little self-conscious.

‘Try giving looking through the eyes of a child a chance. You know you want to.’ Mrs Partridge pressed a box of matches into her hand.

Feeling a bit silly, Jenny struck the match and lit the candle: watching the flame dance on the wick; its reflection dance in the window glass. Outside, a solitary snowflake fell, followed by another, then another.

‘It’s snowing.’

‘Of course it is. Now you should not do it this way every year. But for once we can make an exception. Light the next and see what happens.’

Jenny did as she was told. Somehow the lights in the village looked cheerier; even through the snow, now falling thick and fast.

Old Mrs Partridge clapped her hands. ‘One more?’

Jenny could not believe her eyes. With the third candle, Mrs Partridge’s garden rippled and sparkled with fairy lights. Or perhaps it was the twinkling lights around the window reflected in the glass.

The old lady leaned forward and waved. Sally stood at the garden gate, with snow on her coat and in her hair, and a huge grin on her face. Jenny wondered how long she’d been there.

Seeing her sister, Sally enthusiastically waved back and started up the path.

‘Now quickly, before she gets here, just one more to make it feel like Christmas.’

As soon as the wick caught, the whole window filled with golden light. Jenny spun around expectant, excited to see a dazzling Christmas tree dominating the room. It sparkled, dripping with glittering baubles and festooned with thick twists of silver tinsel, just like the trees she loved as a child. A roaring fire crackled in the fireplace. The whole room swam with the scent of pine, leaving it cosy and inviting.

Seeing Sally burst in grinning, it suddenly felt real and a little frightening. ‘What’s happening to me?’ Jenny demanded. ‘Am I going mad?’

Sal rushed over and sat her sister on the settee. ‘I know it’s a bit of a shock Jen, but let me try and explain. First of all no one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to. I mean I want you to, but it’s up to you.’

‘What is?’

‘This place isn’t called Three Sisters after the hills… Oh God, this is hard. I wish I could remember how Theresa explained it to me.’

‘But Theresa was dead.’
Sally looked a bit embarrassed. ‘Well, she was, sort of, but then… Who do you think taught me to cook?’

‘A ghost?’

‘She seemed real enough.’

Jenny’s voice dropped to a whisper, she rolled her eyes to Mrs Partridge. ‘Is she a ghost too?’

‘I may be dead dear, but I’m not deaf.’ Mrs Partridge sounded mildly offended. ‘Think of me as a remainder, or a reminder. There have always been three to help the goddess turn the year.’

‘It’s the way it was everywhere, but it’s not the way it is anymore. That’s why everything is going to pot! Or at least that’s what Al says.’

‘But he’s the vicar!’

‘Yes, but he’s not one of those judgemental types. He thinks everything is part of God’s great plan. He’s quite spiritual. You know, for a vicar! Did you never wonder why you only see Flora in spring? She brings the flowers. Mrs Partridge tends to Yule, the twelve days of Christmas; keeping the hope alive the darkest days.’

‘And Theresa?’

‘An old Greek harvest goddess. They’re spirits of the seasons.’

‘Yes I got that bit thank you very much, I’m not thick!’

‘We were chosen as young girls by those before us,’ Mrs Partridge told her. ‘But the choice was ours; as it is yours. I’ve waited a long time to find you. I can wait a bit more.’

‘They lost us when mum dragged us away as teenagers. And they never found anyone else. Then Theresa died five years ago.’

‘What about you?’ Jenny asked Mrs Partridge

‘Not long afterwards I’m afraid. But we wouldn’t go without a safe pair of hands. I mean, it’s alright for Flora; she keeps coming back because spring is rebirth.’

‘It is a responsibility, Jen. But I think you could be happy in Pear Tree Cottage. Look at me in Theresa’s old place. There’s magic here and we bring it to life.’

‘And I don’t want you to think I will be in the way dear. It will only be until you get the hang of things. You will hardly notice me.’

‘Think of it as on the job training,’ Sally helpfully offered. ‘Tell you what though; when Theresa appeared the first couple of times it put the willies right up me. How we laughed! So what do you say Jen?’

Jenny nodded thoughtfully. Well, ‘I’m not saying I will.’

‘We always thought it was such a shame there were not three of you for us. But you know what,’ Mrs Partridge, confidentially patted the back of Jenny’s hand, ‘that’s Flora’s problem.’

‘Speaking of which,’ said Sally, ‘I’ve been wondering if mum would fancy moving back from Spain. You know just for summer. I might ask her over for a holiday. What do you think Jen?’

‘I think you should be careful what you wish for!’

* 6 *

A little before twelve Mrs Partridge poured three schooners of sherry. As the chimes of midnight mass announced the birth of the saviour, Jenny lit one more candle. It may have been her imagination, but she thought she heard something heavy skid across the roof and the faint tinkle of sleigh bells.

‘Did you hear that?’ she asked in wonder, thinking there were going to be some very excited children tonight.

‘Merry Christmas!’ announced Mrs Partridge.

‘No,’ Jenny raised her glass, ‘to Mary Christmas!’

‘And don’t forget the new Mary Christmas!’ added Sally.

Mrs Partridge chuckled. ‘I’ll drink to that!’

©PaulAndruss 2017

A huge thanks to Paul for writing this story especially for the blog and I am sure you enjoyed as much as I have.

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your feedback is appreciated.. don’t forget to drop in to read part two tomorrow.. thanks Sally

 

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part One).


Three Sisters (Part One) by Paul Andruss

 

* 1 *

‘Jenny isn’t it?’

Jenny spun round, staring blankly at the tiny old woman wrapped up against the cold.

‘Yes. Hello’, she replied, wondering who the hell it was.

‘You don’t remember me.’

No, I’m… Are you? She floundered. It couldn’t be. She’d have to be a hundred by now. But she looked exactly the same: the white hair carelessly tucked beneath the old felt hat and those sharp eyes, bright as buttons, in a web of wrinkles. ‘Mrs Partridge?’

‘And how are you, dear?’ the old lady’s voice dropped. ‘It must have been terrible.’

Jenny gave a brittle smile thinking she would kill Sally. This was the last thing she needed: a week of total strangers telling her they were sorry. ‘I’m feeling lot better thank you.’

But she wasn’t. It was hard to face it again in the middle of an empty windswept street. Just when she thought she had heard every possible expression of sympathy, something like this came out of the blue leaving it all raw. She felt tears start and laughed stupidly. ‘I’d forgotten about that wind. It’s biting. Do you ever get used to it?’

‘I never feel it.’

Maybe you didn’t when you’d been here as long as she had, thought Jenny; remembering how her mother hated the winter wind. She swore it brought the snow down off the Three Sisters. Jenny looked for the towering peaks, but they were lost in thick low cloud.

‘Your mother never liked the cold.’

‘She still doesn’t,’ laughed Jenny, scrabbling in her bag for a tissue, ‘couldn’t wait to move us out the valley! But I think the wind was a small price to pay for those winter wonderlands we had as kids.’

‘If you don’t mind, we can walk home together,’ said Mrs Partridge, handing Jenny a folded handkerchief to wipe her eyes. ‘Are you with Sally for Christmas?’

Jenny nodded. ‘Yes, just got here and was sent out to pick up some icing sugar before the shop closed. Honestly, I think Sally’s baking for the whole village.’

‘It’s nice you’re back,’ said the old woman.

‘Thank you, it’s nice to be back’, replied Jenny, thinking no it bloody isn’t. What happened to the place? She remembered it as something special. Snow a foot deep every Christmas. Now look at it; wet and miserable as everywhere else. ‘How are you and your sisters?’

‘Well, Flora will see us all out!’

Jenny smiled. ‘I remember those Easter egg hunts in her garden; full of daffodils and bluebells.’

‘It’s still as pretty. Sometimes I wonder where she gets the energy. Sadly Theresa passed away last winter. It was a shock for Flora when she returned. They were always close.’

‘Is Sally in your sister’s house?’ asked Jenny, wondering why she hadn’t mentioned anything.

‘Yes. It’s lovely to see the place full of life again. Theresa would be pleased Sally’s taking up the mantle. She’s really bringing everyone together. Theresa was fond of you girls. We all were.’

‘And we were fond of you too. Theresa used to make the most wonderful pies and cakes. Whenever we passed she would always have something for us. This was such a magical place as a child. Funny, it looks no different to anywhere else now. Sad you have to grow up, isn’t it?’ Jenny laughed awkwardly.

‘I think a happy childhood sets you up for the emotional bumps life dishes out along the way.’

Mrs Partridge chuckled. ‘Like an inoculation.’

‘What a nice way to look at things. And here we are. Have a Merry Christmas.’

As Jenny opened the front door, Mrs Partridge blurted out, ‘I was hoping you and Sally might come over for an hour tonight. You know, Flora is never here this time of year.’

‘Of course we will!’ Jenny answered quickly. Alone on Christmas was something she’d spent far too much time thinking about recently. The first thing she was going to do as soon as she got in was to run a nice hot bath and have a good long cry.

‘About 8.30?’ called Mrs Partridge heading up the hill to Pear Tree Cottage.

* 2 *

Her sister greeted her. ‘Put the kettle on Jen. And crack open that bottle of wine in the fridge.’

‘Want one?’

‘Not ‘til I’ve got this lot sorted, just throw a tea bag in a cup for me’.

‘I met old Mrs Partridge by the store,’ she told her sister. ‘I couldn’t believe it. She hasn’t aged a day since we were kids; that must be, what, twenty five years ago. I didn’t realise you were in her sister’s house.’

‘I was really lucky to get this place.’

‘I thought Mrs Partridge said she only passed away last winter?’

‘Did she? The poor old thing gets a bit confused.’

‘So what happened Sal how come you came back? You never said.’

‘I don’t know. It was all work, work, work and I suppose I thought what the hell am I doing? You know wrong side of forty, single and no life to speak of. It was really a spare of the moment thing. I was on the motorway and saw the turnoff for Three Sisters and thought I’d take a look at the old place. We had a lot of happy times here as kids. It always seemed magic.’

‘I said the same to Mrs Partridge. Oh and incidentally… How the hell did she know? You shouldn’t have said anything Sal.’

Sally looked genuinely shocked. ‘I didn’t. Come on, do you really think I would sis?’

‘Well someone must have.’

‘Look if I did, then sorry, I didn’t mean to. But I swear to God it’s like the woman’s psychic!’

‘It doesn’t matter. I need to get used to it. It’s just when I think I’m fine someone says something and it all comes flooding back.’

‘Give yourself time. Look, there’s loads of hot water in the tank now, go and get that bath. Take the glass of wine in with you. Hell, take the bottle!’

‘God, no, not the bottle, old Mrs Partridge asked us to pop round. Hope you don’t mind. I guess I was thinking about all the time I’ve been sitting by myself. Oh God, I’m going to start. I’ve told myself no more!’

‘Why didn’t you come to me?’

‘I wanted to get away and I thought the sunshine would do me good. But you know what me and mum are like; drove each other crazy after a month. Then, I just wanted to be by myself.

Seeing Jenny fill up, Sally picked up the glass and put it in her sister’s hand. ‘Go and get your bath and take as long as you want.’

* 3 *

Relaxing in the bath Jenny thought about Sal. All she had even known was this mad career woman, flying all over Europe: best medical equipment sales manager award five years in a row. Suddenly her penthouse apartment sold, sports car turned in for a big old roomy Audi. No more business suits, designer dresses, spa days and top salon colour and cuts.

In truth she envied Sal. She was like a new woman. Old Sal would have never invited her home for Christmas. Maybe taken her off to a fancy hotel in Rome or Las Vegas, but she wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of old jeans, up to her eyes baking on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve; she should be in Switzerland with John. It was all planned. Nothing special: they had been living together for fifteen years. She didn’t even know why they wanted to get married.

A simple Registry Office with everyone staying in the hotel close by. Some close friends, John’s parents with his brother’s family, Sal, and Mum said she’d fly in from Spain: you try and keep me away was what she actually said. After the ceremony back to the hotel for a meal and a bit of a knees-up. Then see everyone at breakfast and off around lunchtime to the airport.

‘Not another bloody skiing holiday’, said Annie when she told her. ‘What are you two like?’

‘Well, call it a honeymoon if it makes you feel better!’ she’d laughed at her best friend.

‘You miserable cow!’

‘You’re only jealous because we’re not letting you and Jed come with us this time.’

‘So, it is a honeymoon! I knew it.’

Then six months ago everything changed. Well, six months and eighteen days if you were counting. One wet Saturday evening, side swiped at a busy junction by a harassed woman. It must have been one hell of a knock because both cars went straight across the carriageway into an oncoming bus. And that was it. John, Annie and Jed gone: just like that. She heard the other woman died too.

But her?

Not a scratch.

Ok, maybe not. She looked down at the red scars lacing her arms, chest and shoulders. There were a couple of fractures, bruising and concussion. It was touch and go for a while they thought. Still, they said it was a miracle. Funny it didn’t feel like one.

At that point the tears started, and Jenny had the good long cry she’d promised herself.

* 4 *

‘Do you want a hand Sal?’

‘No, get ready.’

‘What about you?’

‘Look Jen, I’m going to need an hour.’

‘I’ll wait.’

‘We can’t both let her down.’

Jenny thought about it. She didn’t really want to go but Sal was right.

‘So what’s with all this domestic goddess stuff? As I remember it you couldn’t boil an egg!’

‘And look at me. To be honest I love it, and you know it’s a community here. When I thought of all the old people living alone, I had a word with Albert one Sunday after church…’

‘Whoa hang on. Who are you, and what have you done with my sister? So Albert’s your mysterious vicar! When do I get to meet him?’

‘He’s not my vicar, he’s everyone’s vicar. He’s nice and funny but we’re not serious.’

‘But he’s got to be better than that creep you wasted all those years on.’

‘At least he’s not married!’

‘Which gives him a head start!’

‘Yes, but… I don’t know… No, I’d do, we’re not serious. He’s fun. We get on.’ Sally turned red. ‘What!’

‘Nuthin!’ Jenny grinned. ‘You were saying about the old folks and going to church.’

‘Oh shut up you! Anyway I don’t know what happened to this place, but it’s not the same as when we were kids. Have you noticed? So I suggested to…’

‘Albert!’

‘Al actually…

‘Al now is it.’

I’m warning you little sister! …About starting a dining club. Obviously tomorrow can’t be any different. It’s just a couple of hours in the village hall.’

‘Hmmm, sounds like fun!’

‘Actually it generally is. It not just me and Al, everyone’s starting to pop in. Even those with kids usually bring someone down in the car and stay for half an hour. That’s what all the extra mince pies are for. You don’t have to come unless you want to…’

‘Let me think about it. I’m already doing my charity stint tonight!

‘No pressure sis, do what you want tomorrow. If you don’t fancy it, I’ll be back about three and then it’s just me and you.

©Paul Andruss..

Part two of The Three Sisters will be posted tomorrow at the same time……

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your feedback is appreciated.. don’t forget to drop in to read part two tomorrow.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Have Yourself a Merry Little Writer’s Block by Paul Andruss


Can you believe that it is a year since Paul Andruss entered out lives and took up residence here on a weekly basis. Over that year we have enjoyed learning about some of the most legendary figures and events in our history. Always deeply researched and delivered with panache.. with details that only those present at the time could have known. Paul is the master of deconstructing a myth or legend we have heard hundreds of times and the reconstructing in a completely understandable and believable way.  You can find all these wondrous articles in his directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

This was the story that Paul sent in last year for the Christmas blog promotion and here it is again but with a slightly different ending.. because Santa did leave a story and next Friday and Saturday you get to read it.. The Three Sisters…… and you will enjoy which is a promise not an order!  Anyway here is Paul’s archive post.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Writer’s Block – Paul Andruss

T’was the night before Christmas… Oh, please!

But it is the night before Christmas. And all through my head, nothing is stirring, not a single idea.

Dear Lord, if you’re listening, send a Christmas miracle.

Or should that be dear Santa?

Hallelujah, that’s it!

No, it’s just the plot for ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. I wouldn’t mind but there’s no way I’d pass for

Jimmy Stewart, even with the lights off… more’s the pity!

So, what can I say? How did I get into this mess?

Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.

Good grief! The Sound of Music now is it? Just because it’s on every Christmas doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas film. Get a grip!

Although I have been writing for a while, I am quite new to the Bloggers-fear. (Is that the right word? Remind me to look it up.) After years of hiding the light firmly under a bushel, I needed to get out there and promote my work. Imagine my delight when I saw an invitation from Smorgasbord- Variety is the Spice to write a Christmas story.

I was hesitant. I admit. But Sally’s blog, felt like the sort of warm, safe place to dip my toe. And I mean, everyone’s written Christmas stories: Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, Hans Christian Anderson ‘The Little Match Girl’. How hard can it be?

From Doctor Who to the Crankies, there is not a TV show that doesn’t do Christmas Specials. Even the muppets managed the Christmas Story. And heaven knows I’ve been called a muppet often enough.

But what to go for? There’s the rub. Should it be something to tug the heartstrings; full of noble sentiment and the spirit of Christmas? Or something to make you laugh out loud? How about a bit of both?

Start with something like ‘A Dog is not just for Christmas.’

Then hit ‘em with the old one two… ‘If you’re careful there might be enough left over for Boxing Day!’

Hmmm, don’t think so. That might have made me roar with laughter at thirteen, but if my kids read it they’d never speak to me again. And neither would the puppy.

So it was off to the attic to leaf through my old pile of People’s Friend. Oh no, I mean Mum’s old pile. She loves that magazine. When they moved she asked if I’d store them. I guess she forgot to pick them up. To be honest I’d forgotten myself! Yes. No. Really I did. So let’s just leave it there, shall we?

Anyway, that was about 16th November, which then turned into 17th, 18th and 19th, and before I knew it… T’was the night before Christmas…

For heaven’s sake! Not this again!

I admit Sally was great about it. She was a scholar and a gentleman; if you can say that about a lady. I wrote copious emails explaining my predicament, begging for a bit more time. We ended up corresponding so regularly she now feels obliged to send me Christmas cards.
(PS. Thanks for the card Sally…. Did you get mine? It’s in the post!)

So as I started saying…

T’was the night before Christmas…

Well actually, it’s not the night before Christmas anymore. It stopped being the night before Christmas about two and a half hours ago. Who am I kidding? It’s Christmas! It’s over. Like every unstirring creature in the house, even the mouse, I should be abed.

YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS!

I had not been in bed fifteen minutes (tossing and turning; racking my brains for a Christmas story to win the hearts and minds of… yeah, you get the picture) when I heard a noise downstairs.

First I thought it was the kids; like you do. But though my little darlings got every present imaginable this year, I had no recollection of buying hob-nailed boots.

Bugger! I thought. It’s gotta be burglars; an’ on bloody Christmas an’ all.

I hunted round the bedroom in the dark, terrified to wake the missus, or kids next door, or puppy sleeping with the kids next door. I wished for a baseball bat or some other blunt instrument; knowing you’re on a total loser trying to defend yourself with a slipper. My heart raced. Mouth bone dry. I wished I was a braver man.

Taking my courage in both hands. Actually, courage in one hand; slipper in the other, I crept downstairs; hitting the one that creaks. Why does one always creak?

For a lifetime I stood outside the living room, straining to hear past my thumping heart. It was now or never. I flung open the door, snapped on the light. I was desperate to think of something butch and intimidating; wondering how to handle the whole fiasco; wondering if I’d survive it.

What did daddy get for Christmas, kids?

A&E.

What’s that?

It’s not a parlour game.

Well, knock me down with a lead pipe (in the library, Colonel Mustard). The room was empty!

All I saw was crumpled tinfoil on a plate that once held a mince pie and an empty glass. Hang on; guilty as charged. To be honest I’m not proud of myself drinking sherry at that hour, but you know, I only did it for the kids.

Then, my eyes fell on sooty footprints leading to and from the chimney.

It couldn’t be.

But it had to be.

But, it couldn’t be.

But, it was.

How fat old Santa got past the wood burner, I’ll never know.

On the mantelpiece was a scroll, wrapped in red ribbon, tied in a bow. I saw my name written in elegant copperplate handwriting. Tell you what; Santa must have gone to one hell of a good school!

With shaking hands I pawed the bow until it fell open. Swallowing hard, I unrolled the scroll. It read…

‘Jenny isn’t it?’

Jenny spun round, staring blankly at the tiny old woman wrapped up against the cold.

I laughed! I wept! It was brilliant. My Christmas miracle!

©Paul Andruss 2016

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Paul would love your feedback and please join us next Friday and Saturday for parts One and Two of the story that Santa left.. The Three Sisters……Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Sunday Interview – The Ultimate Bucket List – Something close to my Heart by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the Sunday Interview and the theme is The Ultimate Bucket List.

In this interview series I would love to know what your top TWO items are on your bucket list and if you have not written one yet, then perhaps it is time to get your thinking caps on.

Here is more about how you can participate here:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/new-sunday-show-interview-series-the-ultimate-bucket-list-a-test-run-with-sally-cronin/

Today my guest is our own Writer in Residence, Paul Andruss with his two top bucket list items. And whilst you might think that Paul might like to travel back in time and resolve the mystery of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table once and for all…… he actually wishes for something much closer to his heart.

Something Close to my Heart.. by Paul Andruss

I don’t have a bucket list. I guess I am quite accepting of what life throws at me. Perhaps I’m a reincarnation of some old Buddhist or something.

So let me see…

Regrets?

I’ve had a few.

But then again too few to mention!

Oh Lord! Not the Frank Sinatra song!

Sorry… Zilch! Nada! Diddly squat!

Mind you that’s not to say if someone offered me a free trip to Machu Picchu or Mars or somewhere I wouldn’t bite their hand off. It’s simply that if I don’t, then I don’t feel my whole life has been a wasteland.

When I was younger there were lots of people I wanted to meet. But as the decades passed and the great and good took the one way trip through the protecting veil in ever increasing numbers, my old bucket list became a post-bucket list.

To be frank, I’m not terribly sure what lies beyond kicking the bucket, or shuffling off this mortal coil, or any one of the numerous euphemisms we use to face the unfaceable. But I know this. Eternity or oblivion, it’s a win-win situation.

If it’s welcome to eternity, I shall be one busy little bee catching up with my heroes. I certainly believe any afterlife is better than this world. No loving creatrix, no Great Mother, would be so pretty to her children as to punish us for our failings. After all if she does not make mistakes, she knew exactly what she was doing when she gave us our flaws and foibles.

On the other hand, if I’m destined to be extinguished like a candle-flame then I cannot find much wrong with that either. Remind me to ask an ex-candle-flame what the afterlife feels like next time I meet one.

So where does that leave my pre-bucket (as opposed to my post-bucket) list?

Well, given death is a part of life…

(Look on it as God’s final surprise.)

After careful consideration, my top two are:

One. Dying at the same time as my partner.

We’re best friends, pretty inseparable for decades and have had lots of adventures together. So to be blunt, why should this one be any different?

Two. Choosing the time I go and making it as quick and painless as possible.

I realise that might shock you. We tend to look on suicide as a big old mortal sin. But, do you know the story of Pandora’s Box? I mean, do you really know it?

In the Greek myths, Pandora (All Gifts) was given a chest by the gods and told not to open it, which of course… she did!

Wouldn’t you?

Out came all the evils the gods had thoughtfully locked up away from man. The last out of the box was hope.

According to the Christian version, the gods put in hope as a remedy so mankind would not give in to despair.

In the original Greek version, hope was out last because it was the most despicable evil of all. When all is lost, hope stops you walking away from the inevitable.

In my defence, all I can add is this…

Hey, you read my stuff. You should have known I’d be controversial.

© Images Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul lives in Wales with his partner and they are avid gardeners. As you can see from some of the photographs I have shared of their garden in this post.

Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Here is the most recent review for Thomas the Rhymer

Jack Hughes witnesses the abduction of his brother Dan by the wicked fairy Sylvie. Nightmares and visions of a mysterious tramp take over his reality and he becomes torn about sharing the truth behind his brothers disappearance. Catherine, Ken and Ken’s mystical mother Rosie become his confidants and join Jack in searching for clues on breaking the wicked fairies hold over his brother .

The tramp’s true identity soon unfolds when the team offer him food and shelter; he is Thomas the Rhymer, Prince of Elphane, who speaks in Rhyme:

“Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish that man would GO AWAY!”

The author takes the reader on a series of adventures through ancient ley lines, bathed in milky blue light that cross a fairy hill, churches and open countryside.
We meet the mysterious Horatio Grin and Agnes Day, whose sister Poppy was also abducted by the faeries. But can they be trusted? And can Jack and his friends find his brother and bring him safely back home?

I read this book slowly as there were so many mystical layers to Jack’s adventures. It is well written and will appeal to both young and old.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul AndrussPaul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author..  Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.

Finn Mac Cool

Paul’s second books is Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. If you would like to participate in the Ultimate Bucket List series please contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com Thanks Sally

 

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss – My review for Thomas the Rhymer and FREE Downloads


I am so pleased that Paul Andruss accepted my invitation to become Writer in Residence this year and I know that many of you have enjoyed his descriptive, detailed and fascinating posts on myths, legends ancient and modern, and many events and people that we thought we knew…. but didn’t.

Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year, and I thought today I would remind you of that review, and also give you the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.

Paul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link.

http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author..  Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul AndrussAbout Thomas the Rhymer (Jack Hughes Trilogy Book 1)

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.

But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

My review for Thomas the Rhymer March 2017

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter.

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries, are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Buy the Kindle Thomas the Rhymer at all online bookstores including your local Amazon: http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

Now would be a good time to read and there are two more books to be released in the series.

Also by Paul Andruss

Finn Mac CoolFind out more about Paul Andruss and his books: http://www.paul-andruss.com/about/

By now you will have seen that Horatio Grin is in fact none other than a brilliant figment of the imagination of our Writer in Residence Paul Andruss, who revealed all in this article.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/will-the-real-horatio-grin-please-stand-up-and-free-book-offer/

I think you will agree with me that the articles that Horatio (aka Paul) has shared with us were thought provoking, brilliantly illustrated observations about the beliefs and myths that we have grown up. I will admit to taking some of those myths and legends for granted without delving into them to discover truths and in some cases fabrications.

Paul has compiled all of the essays with the two new additional ones (I have read and they are amazing) into either an Epub format or a pdf.  This will enable you to have one source for all the essays in book format.

I know many of you may have a Kindle rather than Epub reader but that is easily remedied.. We use Calibre for all our ebook reading and it can be downloaded to your computer of device from this safe link: https://calibre-ebook.com/

As to the actual copies please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and I just need to know if you would like in Epub or pdf format and I will email you back.

You can find the links to all of Paul’s posts that have appeared here on Smorgasbord in this link.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by and I would be grateful if you could share this post and Paul’s books far and wide. Thanks Sally

Writer in Residence. – What’s Opera Doc? by Paul Andruss


(What’s Opera Doc? Warner Brothers Looney Tunes Cartoon)

Opera came about during the Renaissance (or Rebirth) in late medieval Italy.

Which begs the question: What’s the Renaissance Doc?

Well, in a few words… The Roman Empire collapsed in Europe. Then came the Dark Ages: Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Goths, Vikings and as everything settled down, the Normans.

Welcome to the 1st Millennium.

The Pope said, ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely if Jerusalem was in Christian hands.

Welcome to the Crusades.

The Normans loved Christianity. They just had a problem with the commandments, particularly: Thou shalt not kill. But they weren’t only about meeting new and exotic peoples (and killing them) they also introduced luxury goods: cinnamon, almonds, ginger, and the Greek and Roman Classics; the very books their Viking ancestors burned not 300 years before.

Welcome to the Renaissance.

On the back of Arabic translations of the Greek and Roman Classics the Renaissance (or the rebirth of learning) flourished in City States like Florence, Venice and Rome. Hey, the Italians had a big heritage to live up to. Plus it was a good way of undermining the Pope’s authority. For a couple of hundred years they went Greek and Roman mad, especially when they discovered Greek drama which gives us the words Chorus and Orchestra.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

While they had plays with songs, Greek drama was entirely sung and seemed much cooler. Not sung as in the good bits of ‘Les Mis’, more as in the boring bits; singing instead of dialogue: in the sort of voice we use for nursery rhymes.

‘Wouldn’t it be lovely’ they thought, ‘if WE could have entire plays sung like that?’

Wouldn’t that be class! Blimey it would be the Works!

Opera – Greek (what else) for… ‘the works’

They soon found out sitting through sung declamation (or recitative) for hours on end, while someone scraped away on a bass fiddle, might have thrilled the Ancient Greeks, but…

Time to spice things up methinks!

Welcome to the Baroque.

By 1700, sing-song declamation only moved the action along. The bass fiddle was now accompanied by harpsichord and lute. Songs or arias expressing states of mind were added, growing increasingly lengthy (some 13 minutes long) and ornate. Each opera ended with a chorus where the cast sung in unison, and you might have a duet or two between the superstars.

All this was about to change.

Never ones to be left behind, the French developed their own dynamic version of opera, bejewelled with choruses and ensembles: where the cast sang different things at the same time.

What?

Is this madness?

No, it’s opera! For only opera can have half a dozen people speaking over each other and produce such divine harmony.

The extended scenes and finales of orchestrated impassioned recitative punctuated by short bursts of aria, duet, trio, quartet and chorus wound listeners to fever pitch. The audience went bonkers! It wasn’t long before Italians and Germans followed suit. ‘A la Francese’ was ‘a la mode’!

With revolution in the air, the common man was the hero; not stiff old gods. Comedy not tragedy was king. Mozart wrote his revolutionary comedy ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ based on a seditious play banned by the Emperor.

Along came Rossini, whose long career saw the last of the old ditched in favour of the entirely new. By now long arias and dry recitative were virtually extinct. Opera was French school not Italian: flowing and lyric. Rossini was followed by Verdi (Aida), Puccini (Turandot; Madam Butterfly) and Wagner who gave his characters individual signature tunes (motifs) and songs (refrains) repeated through the opera.

If you are timid, but curious, try ‘Les Mis’ or ‘Sweeny Todd’. They are not so different.

So that’s the music, what about the singers?

(From the French movie Farinelli: Il Castrato)

Opera stars were gods and rightly so, for they were no ordinary beings. Not divas or romantic tenors but castrated male sopranos.

Originally women were not allowed on stage. Boys played girls before their voices broke. Men played older women, often speaking falsetto (think Tiny Tim). The word ‘drag’ is Shakespeare’s acronym for Dressed Representing A Girl.

There was a long tradition of men singing high parts in church music because St Paul said women should not raise a voice in church. Just before the advent of opera, the Pope imported a troop of Spanish falsettos to sing in the Vatican choir. They had pure high voices, much better than the squeaky local product. What they were is shrouded in mystery, but it is suspected they were castratos. Eunuchs were used as slaves throughout the Arab World and Spain had not long been liberated from the Moors.

The Baroque loved artifice and ambiguity. Publically castratos were worshipped like movie stars, yet privately considered jokes: half men; a third sex. The church even forbade castratos to marry, as the purpose of marriage was to enable procreation without sin by containing fornication within a holy sacrament.

Poor families of children with promising voices had them doctored around 8 years old. Though it seems cruel, they thought it ensured their financial future. Unfortunately the castrato stars rarely saw it that way. If you wonder why a youngster would be castrated to retain his voice, then listen to Radu Marian, aged 7, sing Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. He grew up to be a male soprano.

Boys castrated before puberty keep their choirboy voice, but with the power of a man-sized larynx. Castration prevents the bones sealing so they also have a huge elastic ribcage to act as bellows. Opera superstar Farinelli could hold a note for over a 1 minute without taking breath. Contemporary reports say male castratos sounded an octave higher than women singing the same note. Their voices had an eerie ethereal quality like angels.
Here Alexis Vassiliev, an endocrinological soprano (who skipped puberty and looks like castrati are described) sings ‘Generoso risuegliati, o core’ from J A Hasse’s opera Cleofide.

By the 1700s women were appearing on stage. In the Papal States where the ban continued until 1800, castratos continued to take male and female roles: the female role often showcasing an up-and-coming young star. Elsewhere female opera singers became superstars in their own right, often taking males roles instead of castratos.

Everything changed in 1806 when the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, although a huge fan of castratos, banned castration as barbaric. Edits reinforcing the ban followed in 1814, and again in 1861 after the Italian war of Independence.

The last castrato on the opera stage was Velutti. In 1825, after a gap of 50 years, he was the first castrato to perform in London, and was considered a freak. People went to see him for the novelty. Newspaper cartoons mocked him.

By 1830 when Rossini no longer had castratos at his disposal, he kept the idea of male sopranos alive by writing his heroes for women in ‘trouser roles.’ Here Marilyn Horne sings the knight Tancredi – one of Rossini’s male parts written for a woman. (The catchy cabaletta starts 4 minute in – this is the bit the Pope banned altar boys from whistling.)

Over the following decade, boys were still castrated, and continued to sing in Church. The last castrato in the Vatican Choir was Alessandro Moreschi who died in 1922 aged 64. He was recorded on wax cylinder in 1902. The recording isn’t great as Moreschi sang into a giant hearing trumpet- somewhat like singing into an old telephone all the enriching harmonics are lost.

When listening we must remember singing styles have changed. When Moreschi sounds like he is hitting bum notes or struggling to hold one, he is demonstrating extremely difficult bel canto techniques only the most highly trained could execute. Here the 40 year old Morsechi sings Ave Maria.

Despite the bans, the castratos’ true death knell was fashion. With the birth of ‘Romantic Music’ (Beethoven) opera had no use for old fashioned castratos, but preferred tenors instead.

The past half century has seen a resurgence of Baroque Opera. New male soprano stars have emerged, some with medical conditions that prevent their voice from breaking, others acquire a high voice through years of training. Listening to them we can begin to understand the strange fascination that dominated opera for 300 years and was once deemed forever lost.

Time to say goodbye, but before I do, an extra treat.

* What’s opera Doc? Is a Bugs Bunny cartoon exploring Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and let me tell you, you never really appreciate Wagner (old Aryan Supremacist that he was) until you see Bugs Bunny as Brunhilde, or Elmer Fudd as Siegfried singing ‘Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!’

Unfortunately the full cartoon isn’t available on You-tube, but this is a bloody brilliant substitute. A live action shot by shot recreation that’s as mad as a March Hare (Gettit!) and camp as a row of tents! The fact both lads claim to be tone deaf only adds to the outrage. Enjoy!

©Paul Andruss 2017

My thanks to Paul for another wonderfully researched and written post.. I am very honoured to have him here as a regular contributor.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Book Reading and Interview – Paul Andruss.


Over the last few months Paul Andruss has become a most welcome and popular fixture in the Smorgasbord community. His posts, that pick apart myths and legends, and then reassemble them into glorious clarity, are the hightlight of the week for me and those who drop by.

Banana Passion Flower (Andruss)

Every week, when I either post an exclusive post for Smorgasbord, or one I have raided from his archives, I give the usual ‘about’ but today I thought that I would do something a little different.

You might wonder why I have a Banana Passion Flower at the front end of this book reading and interview… and the answer is that Paul is a passionate gardener with a wonderful knowledge of this world of plants and blossoms. In fact when I mentioned that I was going to be starting to bring some colour into the garden, he immediately wrote a two page email with a wonderful guide to what would grow here, what I could plant now and what would be good for later in the year.

In the relatively short time I have known Paul I have discovered that apart from being an exceptional writer he is a warm and very generous friend to many not just myself. I have some wonderful mates that I am delighted to communicate with on a regular basis that I have met online, and don’t let anybody tell you that it is not the same as being face to face. It actually is. So this is Paul on a personal level and here is the official bit about his writing.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon USWebsite: Jack Hughes Books  –  follow Paul: Goodreads  Twitter: @Paul_JHBooks NB June 2020

Now to hand over to Paul who is looking forward to answering your questions which you can put into the comments section of the post.

Great to have you in the hot seat for a change Paul and perhaps you could tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?

I write coming of age novels or (wait for it…) Bildungsroman.

Bildungsroman forms some of the oldest literature in the world. In Jungian psychology it pervades the collective unconscious as the archetypes of the child and the fool; signifying innocence. The hero as a fool or child (usually the younger son) is common to many myths and folktales.

In Finn Mac Cool, Finn is the fool because he is thrown into an alien world he knows nothing about; modern Ireland re-enacting its ancient myths after a devastating plague.

Thomas the Rhymer is about an 11 year old boy who sees a fairy queen kidnap his older brother. In true Bildungsroman tradition, young Jack grows up by overcoming challenges. It is safe to say, most of us had a rough time growing up and so identify with a courageous struggling youngster. Under all the layers we accumulate with age, that youngster remains in each of us.

Which book in your opinion is the best you have ever read and why?

Gore Vidal’s 1981 novel Creation. I was interested in ancient history at the time but knew little about it. Creation was the springboard to a lifelong passion.

Written in the first person, Creation tells the story of Cyrus Spitama, living during the conflict between the Persian Empire and Democratic Greece: the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae; the Battle of Marathon.

Cyrus gives the Persian side countering Herodotus, ‘the Father of History’, who invented the term with his book ‘The Histories’ meaning ‘inquiries’. In his old age Cyrus becomes the Persian Ambassador to Athens during the golden age of Pericles – when the Parthenon was built.

Cyrus is the grandson of Zoroaster. Zoroasterism was an early monotheistic religion, influencing Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During his life Cyrus travels to India and meets Buddha. He also visits China during the Warring States period when the totalitarian Chin tribe triumphs. Here he meets Confucius and Lao Tsu, the founder of Taoism. The book ends with a postscript by Cyrus’ nephew, a Greek philosopher, who tells us science is now replacing myth to explain the natural world.

Although the book takes some historical liberties, we witness the very birth of our modern world. And of course, Vidal is such a beautiful writer that every page is a master class.

You write about ancient history and also modern icons and legends across the entertainment world. If you could drop into a time and meet just one of those you have written about… who would it be?

Gore Vidal of course, aged 60, after he has written most of his major works. I would like to ask about American history.

Vidal wrote the successful and accomplished novels ‘The Narratives of Empire’ which examine the decline of the proud Republic, founded on equality, to a state as tarnished as any of the Old-World European empires. Vidal was also step brother to Jackie Kennedy and knew the family well.

‘Burr’ starts with the elderly Aaron Burr, demonised for killing Alexander Hamilton, recounting his memories of the American Revolution.

In ‘Lincoln’ Vidal takes an unpopular stance, saying the Civil War was as much about pre-eminence of Federal government as the Abolition of Slavery.

1876 looks at the Republic’s first century after its unprecedented territorial expansion with the Louisiana Purchase and the acquisitions of Florida, California, Texas and Alaska; and the consolidation into a single super-state after the Civil War. Using the Monroe Doctrine as a pretext (which states the American hemisphere must be free of Europe) the now mighty Republic hungers for Empire.

‘Empire’ covers Theodore Roosevelt and begins with the War in the Philippines, America’s first foreign territory. ‘Hollywood’ examines how America became involved in World War 1 and ‘The Golden Age’ in World War 2 and the coming Cold War.

Quite enough hot topics for a single cold supper, I should think.

Having written across the centuries about events and people.. What do you think are the key elements that a writer will showcase in 100 years?

Social media dominates our world. As Marshall McLuhan predicted, we increasingly embrace the medium not the message. It’s the latest app; not what you say.

I have no idea what the next 100 years will bring. Facebook allowed proper messages. With Twitter the message was reduced to a soundbite. The latest is Snapchat: short videos and pictures that self-destruct after a few seconds of being viewed. When we all are using Snapchat what, if anything, will we be saying?

Like those before it, Snapchat is valued at billions, yet losing money. This is because advertisers are champing at the bit to exploit our thirst for novelty. In contrast, their previous favourite Twitter has seen share prices fall.

Social media often seems like a billion people standing on mountaintops screaming ‘Look at me!’ People play with their phones everywhere: in the cinema, falling downstairs, stepping into traffic. I had a friend who would text rather than watch a sunset – I was often tempted to take a photograph of the sunset and send it to her. Although with Snapchat she could now watch it in real time without bothering to look up.

There is hope though. Other fads died out as mysteriously as they came: hula hoops, klackers. Perhaps one day we will get fed up with social media dominating every waking moment, with the spam and the trolls, and close our accounts.

What a great idea.

Should I tweet it?

It might go viral!

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

‘It is not the duty of an author to deliver a message when writing. A writer is not a postman!’

This slight misquote is from the Russian American novelist Vladimir Nabokov who wrote the 1955 novel ‘Lolita’ about a middle aged man who becomes sexually obsessed and then involved with his 12 year old stepdaughter.

Disgusting I know, and it’s a classic… ‘one of our finest American novels, a triumph of style and vision’

I think we write because we have something to tell the world. Yet, with inexperience, passion can swamp technical fluidity. The story we want to tell is lost in what we try to say.
The only way to engage readers is to have them read you. And you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In actual fact, you catch most flies with sh…

Let’s not go there, eh?

The moral is… don’t beat your point home with a big stick. After all, we are not postmen.
Think instead of what the delightfully irascible Dorothy Parker said when asked to define horticulture… ‘You can lead a whore to culture… but you can’t make her think!

Is anything in any of your books based on real life experiences or is it purely your imagination?

Thomas the Rhymer is about a boy is stolen by a fairy queen. A large part deals with the impact on the family.

My younger brother ran away when he was eight. He made it all the way to Grandma’s and was so embarrassed he spent the night in her shed. It wasn’t until the following day she found him. In those days, a lot of people in the UK (like Grandma) didn’t have phones. My uncle brought him home.

My parents were distraught. Mum was crying all the time. Dad dazed. The police came. I didn’t really understand much. I remember sitting in front of the TV wanting to be invisible, keeping quiet and feeling lost.

From there, it wasn’t such a leap of imagination to wonder what a youngster would do if something inexplicable happened. Like an old woman turning young and beautiful, as fairies do, and then vanishing with your bother before your eyes.

I wanted the boy (I felt more confident writing a boy) to be hitting puberty. Jack is aged 11 – the same age as I was. At that age you begin to doubt your childhood beliefs, but don’t dismiss things like an adult.

He also had to be well-adjusted, but without friends. To keep the plot simple, I made the family move town when he started senior school.

I wanted the plot to start at the beginning and moved seamlessly to the end. Someone suggested starting with Jack coming home dazed and working backwards to the fairy abduction. I felt it was an unnecessary complication of a simple story.

Paul has chosen an extract from Thomas the Rhymer which I can personally recommend.

Thomas the Rhymer took its name and some ideas from the traditional Scottish fairy tale about a young man who meets the beautiful Queen of Elphame and goes to her palace as her prince. After a few days, he thinks he should go home to tell his family where he is. When he does he finds many years have passed.

In my novel, Thomas the Rhymer was a 14 year old boy kidnapped by fairy queen. Some 60 years later (with him looking only slightly older) they get separated. While looking for her Rhymer, the queen kidnaps Jack’s 16 year old brother.

A weird creepy tramp has been stalking Jack and his new friends. Now he is about to catch them.

Read on…

Less than halfway to Jack’s house, Ken announced, “He’s back.”

Jack looked around the deserted street. “I can’t see him.”

“Trust me, he’s here.”

“Let’s run,” Catherine suggested.

“Which way?” Ken whimpered, beginning to panic. “How do we fight what we can’t see?”

“He’s there in front of us!” Jack exclaimed with relief as the tramp shimmered into view.

“Back to the High Street,” advised Catherine. “We can hide in the crowd at the bus station.”

They ran down the road, occasionally passing people who did not even look. Typical, chased by a weirdo and no one bothers Jack thought bitterly. Before remembering no one could see the tramp. Perhaps he’d cast a spell and nobody saw them either.

By now Ken was wheezing and could go no further. Spotting an alley behind some shops, Jack made a split second decision and bundled the breathless Ken into it; thinking they could hide behind skips and bins piled high with rubbish and cardboard boxes.

“What are you doing?” Catherine panted, following.

“We can’t run forever. Hide here, might be a way out!”

Seeing Ken snatch a puff on his inhaler, she realised they had no option. There was a slim chance the tramp might go past.

Squeezing down behind a skip, they peered out.

“Here he is!” Jack whispered.

“What is he doing?” Catherine hissed.

“Looking around! I think he’s going. No, wait, he’s coming. Was there another way out?”

“No, I checked!”

“He knows we’re here!” Ken snatched a hasty puff. He was red in the face and breathing hard. “His mind’s weird,” he wheezed.

Jack shushed him. “It’s all right Ken. Just let me think!” A moment later he turned to Catherine, “Run while I keep him busy.”

“No Jack!” she uttered, horror-struck.

“Jack!” echoed the tramp as if he heard her. “Master Jack, Cracker Jack… Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick.”

“Is he mental?” Catherine gulped.

“No, he’s fairy,” Jack reminded her, as Ken nodded in agreement.

“Here I am,” Jack said, bravely stepping out from behind the skip.

“No!” Catherine wailed.

At the sight of Jack, the tramp started crying.

“Master Jack, Tom’s a lost. Master Jack, Tom’s a cold. Master Jack, don’t be cross! Master Jack, take Tom home! For I did dilly and did dally, dally and did dilly, lost my way and don’t know where to roam. Now you can’t trust a story like old Jack-a-Nory, when you can’t find your way home!”

Jack stared stupidly at the tramp.

“It’s all right, he won’t hurt you,” Ken shouted.

“You’ve changed your tune,” Jack shouted back.

“I was wrong. He’s not trying to scare us. He’s scared. The noise, the people, he’s not used to it. It’s driving him mad.”

Coming from behind the skip, Ken walked to the tramp with hands held in front of him as if feeling the air around the man.

“He’s living rough,” he informed Jack. “I don’t think he’s had a good night’s sleep for weeks, or a proper meal, been eating out of bins! Oh dear, he could do with a bath.”

“I know he pongs!” Jack agreed.

Putting his head to one side, the tramp smiled.

“There’s something else, he might look older than us, but inside he’s about our age.”

The tramp smiled again, saying proudly, “For a year and a day I grew away, and I grew straight and I grew tall, and I was the fairest of them all, and she did love me, love me do, but now I’m lost. It’s sad but true.”

“Hello,” said Catherine, following Ken from behind the skip.

“Good day to you mistress mine, Thomas am I, Thomas of Rhyme.” The tramp gallantly bowed.

“Thomas? That’s what she called Dan! She was looking for you, wasn’t she?” Jack said to the tramp.

“Aye,” wailed Thomas, “that she were! Though she loved me most, kissed my cheek and stoked my hair, a new Sir Thomas does she boast and on him lavish all her care. And I am gone, like those before, belovéd once, beloved no more.”

“Why?” asked Catherine.

“Though I both complain and moan, ‘tis no one’s fault but my own. She warned me true when she did say not to dally on the way. Off went the court with my good queen too. Tom followed on but what did Tom do?” he shrieked, slapping his own face and shaking his head wretchedly.

“Tom did dilly and did dally, did dally and did dilly, lost his way and don’t know where to roam. Now Tom’s afraid and all alone, and can’t find his way home.”

With outburst over Thomas blew his nose noisily on his sleeve and smiled a brave little smile.

Telling the strange man to stay put, Jack called a conference.

“What are we going to do?” he whispered.

“We cannot leave him. It is obvious he cannot take care of himself,” Catherine announced.

“Well, I can’t take him home,” Jack countered. “What would my parents say?”

“I’ll take him home.” Ken spoke quietly. “He can sleep in the spare room. Mum will know what to do with him.”

-END OF EXTRACT-

My thanks to Paul for his wonderful responses and now it is your turn to ask your questions. Please put them in the comments section and Paul will come back to you as soon as possible.. oh and if you have a gardening question he probably won’t mind that as well.

Safari Sunset Protea (Andruss)

Thanks for dropping in and look forward to hearing from you. Sally