Stingy jack

Stingy Jack, was a drunken trickster who invited the Devil for a drink. True to his name, when the time came for the bill to be settled, Jack didn’t want to pay.
Instead, he offered the Devil his soul in exchange for paying the bill. The Devil agreed and turned himself into a coin that could be used to pay the bill.

Jack snatched up the coin and pocketed it with his crucifix, keeping the Devil from returning to his true form.

He made the Devil agree that he would not take his soul for the next 10 years, and upon agreement, Jack released the Devil.

10 years later, the Devil arrived to collect Jack’s soul. Jack made one last request – an apple from a nearby tree. The Devil agreed and went off to climb the tree. Meanwhile Jack placed crucifix’s all around the tree, preventing the Devil from climbing back down.

Jack made the Devil agree to never take his soul to Hell, and upon agreement released the Devil.

Eventually Jacks drinking took its toll and he found himself at Heavens gates. But God would not allow entry for Jack, due to his life of deceitfullness.

So Jack wondered off to Hell, where the Devil refuses to take him in, due to their prior agreement and the Devil still being upset with Jack for the tricks he had played. Instead, he sends him off into the night with nothing but a hollowed out turnip with a hot, glowing coal to light the way.

Jack’s lantern is sometimes seen, as he roams the earth, looking for a place to rest his soul.

Dave

It was a grey and dreary day when I first saw Dave. I’ll be honest now and tell you that his name probably isn’t Dave, but that’s what I call him. You see, I’ve never actually spoken to him.

Dave was an alien, still getting to grips with being stranded on earth. I have no idea how he got here, but I imagine he doesn’t either. He probably just woke up, naked, in a field one morning.


There was no way that a normal human being could ride a bike the way he was. It was like he’d never seen one before and was using it for the first time, trying desperately to fit in.


The bike itself was too small for his long, thin frame. He wouldn’t have looked out of place on a basketball court.


And that was what humoured me. The sight of this being, from another planet, trying to act normal. Riding an under-sized bike, knees stuck out to the sides, head tucked in low to the handlebars, tongue sticking out in concentration, wobbling down the busy street, trying to avoid pot-holes whilst being soaked to the core from the rain.


I shouldn’t have laughed. It was, after all, a valiant effort, for an alien named Dave.

The second time I saw Dave, was in the same place, not 24 hours later. He had mastered the art of cycling and you could almost be forgiven for thinking him a human. But I knew better.

I started to wonder what he might do next, if he could learn to ride a bike so quickly, so confidently.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him for the rest of that day. That night, I hardly slept at all. What was Dave up to? Was he really here by accident? If not, what was his plan? Aliens feed on human flesh, right? How many people had he already consumed? I had to do something, for the good of mankind.

I’m not much of a fighter, on the best of days, and against a flesh eating alien I’d stand no chance. But I had one advantage – he didn’t know I was on to him.

The next morning, bleery eyed from lack of sleep I drove to work. Sure enough, there he was, confidently, no, cockily riding his bike, with no handlebars, down the road with a big grin on his face.

He never saw me coming, as I swerved my van into his path sending him flying over the top of my van, like a less graceful Eliott, with ET in his basket, only ET was riding the bike and not so much flying, more falling.

I barely looked back in my mirror, as I sped away.

I never saw Dave again after that.

Linkin Park

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I’m sat here, in my conservatory, with the sound of the rain hitting the roof, listening to Linkin Park. I have been trying to work out why the death of a celebrity would hit me so hard. I’m not really a fan, but I was, a long time ago.

Generally when a celebrity dies its just a ‘oh no!’ type reaction, but this one feels different. Its thrown a whole range of memories and emotions back at me, all at once.

Linkin park had a huge part in my development into adulthood and my current life. At the time that the first song appeared on Radio 1 – One step closer, I was big into hip hop, but the mix of rock and rap drew me in. I was soon a big fan, eventually more so for the rock than the rap.

Around the same time, my mother died, I think not knowing what to do with me, my long time friend Dan invited me to the pub with all his college mates. They were definitely not hip hop fans, and I remember worrying that I wouldn’t fit in. Long story short – I met some great people and eventually my wife, Emma.

I think it’s pretty clear that the main reason Chester’s death threw me, is all the past memories it has thrown back at me, add to which, the start of this ‘period’ of life was the suicide of my Uncle. Yeah, its all too similar.

So I guess this is like the end of an era, and a weird kind of closure to a period in my life. I sit here watching old Linkin Park videos on YouTube, while our daughter attempts to stand for the first time in the other room and I wonder what the next period of my life will have in stall for me, for us.

 

Set me free

Please don’t leave me in a cold and lonely graveyard, set me free upon the wind.

I did something different today. I visited the cemetery. A depressing place with row upon row of bodies. Many of which have been forgotten.

I never really got the point of visiting your departed loved ones there. I mean, if they do still exist as some kind of spirit, why would they hang around there?


It’s a plot of land with no relevance to the person in life, or death. The only reason they would have visited is to visit other dead people.

I went to visit my mother’s grave, among others, and I took my daughter, Ocean.


I have many happy memories of my Mum, alive, but only one of her at the cemetery, and that’s a sad one which involved her being buried, when I was 17. That’s not a good memory, so I mainly choose to stay away and honour her through talking about her and raising a glass.


I think it’s better to honour our ancestors this way and perhaps visiting locations from happy memories. A few come to mind for me, my childhood home, My Nan’s house, Cotswold wildlife park and holidays in Weymouth, Weston super Mare and in North Devon at Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.


When I die please don’t waste too much money on a burial plot and headstone. Turn my body into ashes and return me to the universe. Release me somewhere we have happy memories, that is easy to visit. West Kennet long barrow comes to mind.


Please don’t leave me in a cold and lonely graveyard with only occasional visitors, where I’ll eventually be forgotten.


Celebrate my life, raise a glass of mead and set me free upon the wind.

2 horns & a tail

Sunrise. 21st June 2018, some people celebrate the Summer solstice. Honour the old ways, and their ancestors, toast the second half of the year. Not me.

I used to, but something about the way last year went, still makes me uneasy. It’s not like anything THAT bad happened, right? I mean we are all still here, me, my wife, our daughter. I just worry. What if HE returns again. It’s possible we imagined it, too much mead, but what if…

It’s silly really. He didn’t actually do anything to us, if anything he was quite friendly. More than any of those Christian religions would have you believe.

I should start at the beginning. It was 4am on the 21st June 2017. The sky was brightening, though it was still dark enough to use a torch to avoid tripping on rocks.

We were at Appledore. We’d found a nice spot to celebrate. A quiet piece of the river bed, that, at low tide was easily accessible. Someone had placed rocks in a spiral, it must have been years ago judging by the seaweed forming on them. We had checked the tide times and found it was perfect, almost as low as it could get at sunrise.

It wasn’t far from where we were staying, maybe 15 minutes, and Appledore was the kind of place that always felt safe, with its narrow, cobbled streets.

We had just passed the lifeboat station when we noticed the fire. It wasn’t much, but enough to highlight the silhouette of a man, warming himself by it. We stopped briefly, hesitated, with a glance at each other, before proceeding cautiously. He was on OUR spot, the spiral.

‘Good morning’ he called with a gesture.

‘Er…hi?’ Said Emma

‘Come for the solstice?’ said the man

‘Yes. You too then?…er great. Nice to meet you. I’m Emma, this is Craig and Ocean’ said Emma

He never gave his name, but offered us his hand.

‘We bought mead’ said Emma

‘Oh, you’re one of those. Well never mind, that’s ok. Each to their own. I never really liked mead, but I like turning down a drink even less’

Emma handed him a drink. It was then that I noticed the smell, burning flesh. I looked into the fire and across at Emma. He caught my gaze.

‘Oh, that’s just the sacrifice’ he said ‘don’t worry, you are quite safe. I only make one. Now hand me that drink’

The rest of the morning passed without incident. We were too scared to make our excuses and leave.

‘well’ he said ‘must be off. I need to get some breakfast. Nice to meet you. Maybe see you next year?’

‘ok, bye then’ we said in unison.

As he walked off into the early morning light, his body cast a shadow. I could have sworn I could see 2 horns and a tail….

The last 3 witches of Bideford

They say the last 3 witches of England were hung on a sunny June day in 1682, in the little town of Bideford. They were wrong.

3 innocent ladies – Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards were their names. Their crimes? Causing people to fall ill, causing the deaths of several others and blinding a women in 1 eye.


They were innocent of course, but someone had to take the fall, or else someone would have eventually got suspicious of me.


I’m ok with it. I have made my peace. It’s been over 300 years, after all. They weren’t the first to fall victim to wrong accusations and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.


Temperance Lloyd, that was a funny one. I put rumours out about her having unnatural teats on her body for the Devil to suckle. Luckily, the stupid locals never thought to check. Probably too scared of getting close to a ‘real’ witch.


The local shop keeper, Thomas Eastchurch was the first to accuse her of witchcraft. He said she caused Grace Thomas to fall ill. Of course it was all my doing, well, with a little help from the Devil.


He nearly got caught, don’t you know. Taking too many chances sneaking about looking like a cat, but the blame fell, yet again, on poor Temperance.


People were much less tolerant in those days, some might say racist. Temperance was the only women kind enough to talk to a black man who visited the area, yet people just assumed he was the devil.


She used to talk to the homeless too, poor Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards, that was their only crime. Conversing with a so called witch.


Their final parting words before their hanging were: “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so I am not able to look, they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me”


People stopped believing in witchcraft after that. It became much safer for me to perform my work in the years that followed. The devil continued to visit for many years, on his travels around old England. I still catch a glimpse of him every now and then. We no longer talk, it’s safer for us both that way.

The maid and the maggot

One sunny, late September morning, in Little Langford, a maid went out to forage for nuts in the woodland behind her house.
She filled the basket to the brim and took the short walk back to her cottage, where she washed and prepared them ready for eating.

Just as she got to the last one, she spotted a hole in it. She peered inside and as she got close, out popped the white head of a tiny maggot.

She screamed, dropping the nut on the floor. But the maggot seemed unfazed by the fall and started to crawl away.

The maid took off her shoe and was about to squash the maggot, but she just couldn’t do it, it was just too cruel.

Instead she scooped it up into a box and left a few nuts for it too eat.

Later that day, when she returned to the box, the nuts were all gone and all that was left was a fat little maggot.

Oh dear, she thought. What can I feed you now? She found some stale old bread and left it in the box and went to bed.

The next morning, on her return to check on the maggot, the bread was all gone and she was pretty sure the maggot had grown.

This went on for some time, the maid leaving food for the maggot, with the maggot growing all the while, eventually out growing the box and the house, she had to put it in the stables outside, with the horses.

This was a terrible idea, the maggot was hungry and growing after all, those poor horses never stood a chance.

The maggot grew and grew until the maid ran out of things to feed it. One evening there was a loud crash outside and when the maid went to see what was happening, all she saw was the maggot eating what looked to be the remains of the stable door.

Oh no! Thought the maid what have I done?

But it was too late for the maid, as the maggot had already spotted her and before she knew it, swallowed her whole.

The maggot continued with its feeding rampage and dissappeared into the woodlands.

When the maids father discovered what had happened, he gathered up a hunting party of villagers, who went to the woods to find and destroy the maggot.

They found it in a clearing picking bits from its teeth, using a sharp pointy rib bone, possibly that of a large bull.

The maids father pointed a spear at the maggot and threw it. His aim was perfect but the maggot was just too large. The maggot screached with rage and bolted through the woodland, dragging the poor old man along the floor with it.

He must have travelled several miles before the maggot ran into a great oak tree and stopped stone dead.

As a reminder to all who lived at little langford, never to feed tiny maggots, for fear they may become monsters, the villagers chopped down the great oak tree and had the local carpenter turn it into a huge door for the church.