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I've had a little criticism in the past for posting links without much explanation, well I'm about to do it again.

Artists talk a lot about "inspiration" I'm inclined to think the word is overused  but I found this short video both moving and inspiring.…
I haven't posted a journal in ages, and  the only reason I'm posting this one is because I thought a few of you might care to sign a petition.
Thanks in advance here's the link.…
My wife came across this story and drew my attention to it. I don't know if the story is an old traditional one but it does have that feel about it ; anyway I like it a lot.

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?'

'That's because I have always known about your flaw,

so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.'

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.

Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

"Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding...
You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them"

Those are not my observations but I totally agree with them

Louis MacNeice - Prayer before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
     club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
     with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
        on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
     to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
        in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
     when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
        my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
           my life when they murder by means of my
              hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
     old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
        frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
            waves call me to folly and the desert calls
              me to doom and the beggar refuses
                 my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
     come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
     humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
        would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
           one face, a thing, and against all those
              who would dissipate my entirety, would
                 blow me like thistledown hither and
                    thither or hither and thither
                       like water held in the
                          hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.
I suppose that everyone reading this will have a collection of favorite illustrated books. Here are three of my own favorites.

Faust/ translated by Barker Fairly/phenomenal illustrations by Randy Jones.
This was published it 1970 by Toronto Press.I've never come across anything else illustrated by this man.

Corpus Monstrum/written and illustrated by Gary Gianni. This is a graphic novel illustrated in black and white. Gianni's work is always great but I really love this one.

A Midsummer Night's Dream/illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. This last one is a very obvious choice but Robinson's back and white illustrations are really beautiful.

So what are your favorite illustrated books. Maybe someone can point me in the direction of a gem. :)
Sorry not to have included any links here but I guess a search should lead you to the books and the illustrators.
So here’s the concluding part of “A Hatful of Wishes”. The story was written by myself and my friend Javier :iconsir-pumpkinhead:  Javier also produced two of the illustrations. The writing process involved passing the tale back and forth with each of us alternately adding to it. It might be argued that this has produced a story without structure or purpose, but I’d say that this is pretty much true to life. I add a little to your story, and you add a little to mine.

Part two

“Heavens above” I thought “Not five minutes ago I had a perfectly respectable road under my feet, OK it wasn’t to everybody’s tastes but it would have done the job. I had in mind a good clean end to this rather odd story, I was going to create a pogo stick, put the pumpkin person on it and dispatch him off down that road; send him back to Mexico; with a friendly wave of course. Then I would have wished for everything to have been returned to the way it was in the good old days, my old caravan rolling along under beautiful blue skies, the sun on my face, and the soporific sound of a jingling harness; all in all Vie reasonably under control. But this is what you get for letting other folks into your narrative! People are trouble, make no mistake about it, and people with pumpkins for heads are ten times worse because they appear to be possessed of a dangerous degree of imagination. Ah, if only it were possible to have other people act out the roles we assign them, life would be so much simpler.”

I turned to the pumpkin person:

” I’m not Jack of Jack and the beanstalk fame” I said, “And the fact that I wear a hat doesn’t make me Indiana Jones, really I’ve got no head for heights and no taste for adventure. Also I happen to be 60 years old; I do hope I’m not supposed to climb that damn thing.”

“Just because we are presented with a tree we need not suppose that we are bound to climb it,” said Jane, coming over all Confucius, “It may be that many of the impressive things in our story are purely incidental and have no real meaning, while other apparently trivial occurrences may lead to momentous changes.”

Well, I could see that Jane was beginning to freak herself out a bit with these utterances, so I did a bit of wishing to change the subject and move us on to something a little less metaphysical. I had just remembered something I had often fantasized about.

“Ayup” I said, “I wish I was the proprietor of an antiquarian bookshop. And there, under the shade of the giant tree, a beautiful old fashioned bookshop popped into being. It was all swirling glass windows and higgledy-piggledy roof tiles and the shop sign read:


I opened the door, and the tinkle of the doorbell sounded to me as good as Gabriel blowing his trumpet as I stepped into heaven. This was the bookshop of my dreams. From floor to ceiling it was lined with leather bound volumes, rare editions, and undiscovered treasures and the dusty air were heady with the smell of them. I went to a shelf and began to read the spines, every one of them beautifully decorated and emblazoned with gilt. I could give you a list of the amazing titles I saw but I’ll spare you that. The one that really excited me was Bram Stokers Dracula, illustrated by Harry Clark! As far as I knew Clark had never illustrated Dracula and yet……. I plucked the book from the shelf, and began looking through it. The illustrations were Clark at his sinister best. I was so deeply engrossed in the book that I failed to hear the tinkle of the doorbell; it was the sudden drop in temperature and the cold tingle up my spine which caused me to turn around.

Yep it was the man himself, standing in my fantasy bookshop large as life and twice as scary; Count Dracula!
“Does anybody fancy a cup of tea?” asked Jane.

Such invitation had come as if on cue, the Count graciously set aside his long, black cape and sat down in the nearest chair. I hadn’t noticed it, but there were many in the library, all seemed quite comfortable, just perfect for reading all day long in them.

“Vy yes, zank yoo”, said the Count, “vithout zugar pleez”.

I was astounded that a person such as the dreaded and feared Count Dracula would act so calmly, much less drink tea. I would have expected he drank the occasional herb infusion mixed with A+, but never the common beverage we folks drank every day.
Also, I was curious about how he had managed to get in the shop without our invitation. If I remembered correctly, vampires were not allowed in any building unless the owner expressively invited them in. While I was pondering this, Jane had come back with a tray of delicious smelling mint tea. Its freshness filled the room. Neither I nor Mr. Dracula could refrain ourselves of enthusiastically inhaling the smell. Strangely enough, I thought I heard the books breathe in the wonderful aroma. Just as if these inanimate beings could… but these thoughts were set aside, for at that precise moment, I recalled the pumpkin creature.

“Jane, have you seen the pumpkin fellow?” I asked, imagining he was around there somewhere.

Jane was still serving tea and placing the sugar and creams in a convenient little table near us. “I think I saw him in the folklore section.”

My curiosity satisfied, I then proceeded to take my cup of tea. Dracula did the same, all of course in such a fine fashion that would put most gents to shame. I wasn’t sure how to approach our peculiar guest, so, taking a good drink of my cup to build up the courage needed (you may not know this, but one of mint’s properties is exactly that: it gives courage, but mostly cool to the person using it, that is why the Britons drank it before war). After having two more cups (such quantities were required to address the lord of vampires himself), I was able muster my question:

“Count Dracula, if I may be so bold as to ask you, how come you were able to enter my shop without needing any invitation?”

The vampire calmly lowered the cup and smiled. It wouldn’t have been so terrible if it weren’t for his enormous teeth.

“Vat yoo did invait me. Ven yoo opend the bok, yoo vere colling me. It happenz vit ev’ry bok one openz” said Count Dracula candidly, making him seem more frightening due to such expression one is not accustomed to imagine in one like him. Fortunately the mint was of a strong type, so I didn’t sweat nor trembled, even though I was shaking like jelly in my mind.

“I see. Then if I were to open, let’s say Crime and punishment: would Raskolnikov come knocking at my door?”

“Dun’t ve zilly, it is not neccezarry. It oll dependz if ze reeder can zummoan us.”

I nodded at this. I was aware it was a half truth: the more one gets absorbed in the books, the more real they become. But I was also thinking that the ability to wish for anything had something to do with the Count’s visit.

“Alright, so it is all about the imagination of the reader, but if you don’t mind me asking, why are you drinking tea instead of going for our necks?” I knew I was touching a delicate subject, but both the mint and the ability to whisk him away at any given time were pretty reassuring.

Upon hearing my question, he laughed quite hard. I didn’t like it at all. It sounded like a somewhat dead laughter, or perhaps like something dead laughing. A chill ran through my spine and I was quite sure the rest of the books cringed with the same reaction.

“Zat is ze problem I find maiself most of ze time. Peppl think I onle drink belood, but it is becoz of ze writer dat such thing is belived. Yes I okaysionally drink it, but very rare. Writers exaggerate things so much. I dun’t nou if it is for selling more boks or because they are that vay to beggin vith. Maybe they do it to maik it more interesting. “

Just as Dracula was saying this, the pumpkin head came striding with Jane behind him.

“27+65/4x*34-47! 542-193*12+572 > 324y+12x*541! a+421t-32=77x?” said the pumpkin man.

Both Dracula and I looked at them inquisitively.

“Don’t mind us” said Jane, “he was shuffling the rest of the library and an algebra book got into his head by accident, now all he does is talk like that. I’m trying to get it out, but he doesn’t stay still.”
Jane managed to make him sit down and remove the aforementioned book.

“Thanks, Miss Jane” said the grateful pumpkin head. “Phew! I thought for a moment that 32 was blue during Wednesdays, what a relief!”

We eyed each other, not knowing what to say.

“Well, anyways I must be off now, it is getting rather late and I would like to return home before it gets too dark.”

None of us had noticed it, but just as he had mentioned, outside it was getting darker. Although there was neither sun nor moon, the white that had been during the last ours, had now turned into a deep blue.

None of us had noticed it, but just as he had mentioned, it was getting darker outside. Although there was neither sun nor moon, the white that had been during the last hours had now turned into a deep blue.
“So you had better wish our friend the Pumpkin man away,” said Jane.
“Well I don’t want to just wish him away,” I replied. “I think he deserves rather better than that, don’t you?”
“Well, yes I suppose so,” said Jane, “but what did you have in mind?”
“You’ll see,” I said. I began to look through the books under authors with the initial C. I found what I was looking for soon enough. “Perhaps you would like to read this,” I suggested, handing the book to the Pumpkin man. Our friend took the book and began to read aloud.
En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme,………”

I think maybe one or two of the little hats and twiddles on the letters have gone astray there, but you probably get the picture. In any event the Pumpkin man read on and if the burning eyes of a pumpkin head can be said to grow vague and misty then that is just what they appeared to do; I was in no doubt that the words he read were conjuring wonderful visions for him. The words had no meaning for Jane and I and still less for Sula. What Count D made of them I have no idea. But must say we were all rapt by the musicality of the foreign voice.
It was Sula who heard it first, pricking up her ears and cocking her head from side to side in that quizzical canine manner; the sound of hooves clattering across mosaic tiles. The Pumpkin man immediately stopped reading and hurried outside closely followed by the rest of us. Riding towards us under the moonless starless midnight blue sky, came the at once familiar figure of the famous Don Quijote. On either sides of him were two donkeys; one of the beasts was rider less while on the other rode the ever-faithful Sancho Panza. Having reached the door of the bookshop, the riders dismounted and greeted the Pumpkin man like one of their own, which is to say like a mythical personage who is indisputably more real than most people you are ever likely to meet.
The conversation the three of them had was extremely animated and I am sure very entertaining, accompanied as it was by much laughter and back slapping, but not being Spanish speakers the rest of us could only stand by and watch in bemusement. Eventually, however, the Pumpkin man turned to Jane and myself and said, “My friends I must go now. I am riding with Don Quijote and Sancho. They assure me we will be in Mexico before you can say Jack of the Robinson.”
Well, I have never liked arrivals and departures, they tend to make me feel like something is expected of me, something that I never get quite right. So it’s enough to say that I shook the Pumpkin man by the hand while Jane gave him a hug and said all the right things on behalf of both of us. And that was that. The three comrades rode off together into the darkness, homeward bound.
“Ayup,” said Dracula, turning to face Jane and myself. “What’s ont agenda now then?” We both looked at him in amazement; the Count had just spoken to us with a broad Yorkshire accent! “What’s going on?” I exclaimed, “What happened to your sinister Transylvanian thing?”
“Oh that’s nowt fer thee ta worry abart,” replied Dracula, “That daft way a’ takin is just fer ’t films. Hollywood folk reckoned me proper way a takin wouldn’t go down reet well. I were born in Whitby tha knows, not a lot of folk know that. Any road up, things are lookin’ a bit ont quiet side round ‘ere, lets be ‘avin a party, what does tha say ta that?” It appeared that the Count’s question was entirely rhetorical because having asked it he threw his arms in the air. (They did stay attached at the shoulders) and called out..
“By blood and gore, by the creaking door,
By fangs in the neck, by thump by ‘eck,
Summon the Forces of Darkness by JohnPatience
And needless to say the forces of darkness materialized. Ghouls and ghosts, werewolves and mummies, devils and demons, and many’s and many’s a nameless, slimy abomination; gatecrashers like you’ve never seen. “No no no!” insisted Jane, looking at me very severely indeed, “I can’t be doing with all of this. I want this story brought to an end satisfactorily or otherwise, and I want it done forthwith, like now. I mean immediately.” Well you really don’t want to argue with Jane when she is in that kind of mood, so I had no alternative but to close the book on the entire escapade. SNAP I shut it just like that and the whole thing - Drac, antiquarian bookshop and the lot - just disappeared, gone, like it never was.
Now you may think that is no way to end a story, that stories shouldn’t end anything like so abruptly, but I assure you it can be done, try it yourself. You can close the book on a chapter of your life anytime it takes your fancy, you can even pick up an entirely different book and pretend to be someone completely different. Of course, there are always consequences; for instance you may open a book and find yourself in a completely foreign land; oh yes this can happen, be prepared for anything.
Well that was a hatful of wishes, it was for sure; and what are wishes worth? Well not very much I’m sorry to say; buy them two-a-penny from the seller of stars, and they’re expensive even at that price. Better surrender to the raggle-taggle road. Time mends most things and he’s done a pretty good job on the wheel of my beloved caravan. So away we go again, Jane and I, rolling along together, on most days quite merrily, with Sula the dog running alongside barking and laughing...

Please note: Javier and I intend to produce a limited edition of “A Hatful of Wishes”. We envisage that this will be a most sumptuous production, hand written in genuine gryphon’s blood, on fine handmade paper, and bound in magnificent scarlet dragon hide. If you have more money than sense then this could be the very thing you have been waiting for.
Price on application.
The following journal was co-written by myself and my good friend :iconsir-pumpkinhead: The two colour illustrations are also the work of my friend. Needless to say every word of what follows is the absolute truth, it's just a pity that I didn't have a camera with me to record the events, but of course that's always the way when these things happen. It was the same when the miniature alien space craft materialised for one flickering fleeting moment in the turnip patch, and again when my granny levitated last Thursday afternoon. My granny is one hundred and fifty two years old by the way; I put her longevity down to her propensity for long distance running and mud wrestling.

Part one

Life is unpredictable, uncontrollable and messy, but on the whole I consider it preferable to its tidy alternative. Having said this, like most people I have trouble accepting chaos; I am addicted to telling myself little stories, to attempting to impose some meaning and order on the random events of my life. Of course stories are fine; there's comfort to be found in them but, as I geed up Vie and drove my caravan down the road, I couldn't help but wonder if my current tale might not benefit from a little unpredictability. Perhaps I ought to loosen the reigns a little.

Behind me in the distance, in the dwindling doorway of the crumbling old castle which was 2008, the air was stained a mucky grey where not too long ago I had rubbed out a fearsome pencil-eating dragon. I have often noticed how some things shrink as they become more distant, while other things remain unaffected by times peculiar perspective and may even appear to grow larger. Then again more optimistically things that are big and frightening when we look at them from far away, close up can occasionally turn out to be quite insignificant. Of course there is nothing new in any of this; my mind meanders forever down the same old side roads. Despite all that I began to vaguely wonder if I one day I may surprise myself and find myself with some startlingly new thought in my head; it would be like driving my old caravan cross-country.

Too late, no exciting of road trekking for me! A weary old wheel suddenly decided its rolling days were over, sighed a heavy sigh and shattered into smithereens.
Stage Hands by JohnPatience
So we sat by the roadside Jane and I and our silly dog Sula, and we waited patiently for something to happen. And it happened that after a while we became aware that the place in which we were waiting was looking rather cardboardy; kind of unreal. At this moment of revelation a number of disembodied giant hands appeared; stage hands. Atop of the lead hand sat a strange little man wearing a top hat and tails, he was obviously the stage manager and was very much in control. The ensemble of hands walked on two fingers, while with the other two they picked up the scenery; neither the hands nor their operator appeared to be in the slightest bit aware of our presence, and I can tell you we have to move pretty smartly to get out of their way and keep from getting trampled! Piece by piece they carried everything away, cardboard caravan and cardboard horse, even the cardboard ground from under our feet. It's was all whisked unceremoniously away just as if we had neglected to keep up with the payments. Finally when everything was gone we were left, exhausted from all the running about, sitting in the middle of nowhere land. "He's a Real Nowhere Man," ran dumdidydum through my head, and I noticed that I had fallen into my irritating habit of thinking in song lyrics again.

At that moment, or it may have been a moment or two later, a remarkable stranger wandered into the picture; a tall thin personage with a large grinning pumpkin sitting upon his shoulders.
The Pumpkin Person by JohnPatience
The traveller walked with a strange, funny pace: sometimes long, sometimes short, but always looking as if it were to trip at any moment. Jane and I saw this, as well as its jolly features and we couldn't help but smile. As it came nearer, we raised our hands to greet him, but he kept walking without even looking at us. Needless to say, we were surprised by this. After a few steps, the pumpkin turned around and fixed its hollow, glowing eyes on us. Then, as if to make sure we were there, it waved one of his hands, gesture we responded in the same way. Even though the smile was carved in his vegetable face, I thought for a moment it had grown wider when it made sure we were there. After it had verified our presence, it started walking towards us. We did the same to greet him.

"I think he's not a very bright fellow," said Jane while we were walking towards it, "I guess all that empty space in its head must affect him."

"On the contrary, he has a candle for brains, what could be brighter than that?"

"Well, a light bulb for example," retorted Jane with a smile.

Before I could say anything else, we came face to face with this peculiar personage. The few seconds that came afterwards were silent and used to inspect each other; at least I think so, for the triangular sockets kept jumping from me to Jane again and again. Up close I noticed the lanky figure was dressed in an emerald green suit. At least that's the color it used to be, for it was old and had faded with the passing of the years.

"Hi!", finally greeted the pumpkin head. His voice seemed to come from far away, almost as if the words we heard were only remnants of the real ones.

"Hello", we said in unison.

"Boy, was I afraid you were illusions", he said with a relief in his tone, "it is terrible to doubt one's eyes, or in my case, the lack of them, but it is the truth: we can't trust 'em. Just now for example, we may appear to be nowhere."

"Yes, we were going to ask you about that. Do you have any idea where we are?" inquired Jane.

"Nope", he said, nodding his pumpkin head as if defeated, "but I'm sure of one thing, we are somewhere or someplace, because nowhere can't exist… well, unless no one lives there. It's the same as something inexistent: things that don't exist preserve that state, only if no one has thought of them. They are here, there and everywhere - A tune played in my head, and the lyrics followed almost immediately - so long as there is someone or something that can bring them into existence, even if it is only in our heads."

"So, you are saying that we are somewhere?" I asked, still humming the tune.

"I'm afraid I don´t know, I just said we weren't anywhere… Perhaps we've fallen into the void of whiteness? That, or someone forgot to make the payments to keep reality up and working", he said, raising his hands into the air, perhaps hoping the one in charge to feel a bit of empathy and turn things back to normal. Needless to say, everything stood the same, and after a moment, he sighed for the fruitless action.

We agreed to go on, but when one can't define the difference between ceiling and floor, earth and sky, the horizon line is lost, and one knows not what or how they're moving through space. So we started, for the lack of a better word, walking. We told our newly met companion about us, and he told us about him and how he had arrived to this same place:

"All I remember was being in the pumpkin field, watering my future heads (this year has brought me many a good choice to use) and then, just like that, everything vanished. At first I wasn't worried, things like that must happen more than we suppose, I thought, but after a while, when I couldn't see anything, and that which I saw was nothing more than everyday illusions…"

"You mean those things that seem real, but are not as real as other things? All those ornaments that some people believe are invaluable for their lives; cars, TVs, yachts, gold and diamond watches and all those sort of things", I interrupted.

"Exactly those! I even met a couple of illusionary people. You know, it's those sorts of fellows that need to have certain things or a specific brand of clothing and without them, they don't exist. They're a sad thing to see. Their objects become their skin and, at the same time, their masters…"

Despite his odd appearance the interloper was obviously a very good-natured chap, but all the same he made me feel rather uneasy. Being in this peculiar place was enough to cope with (goodness knows I'm an Olympic class worrier), and now on top of everything else this Pumpkin person had invaded my story. Was philosophizing his normal mode of conversation, I wondered? Could he not just talk about the weather like any ordinary person? Silly questions I suppose. He was obviously not an ordinary person and being where we were there was no weather to talk about.
I began to wish for some sort of distraction, "Turn off your mind relax and float down stream," I mumbled. A tin can to kick would be nice. My wish was immediately granted, and a tin can appeared! I kicked it with some pleasure. It went a fair old way, and Sula the dog ran after it, woof woof woofing, her big black tail flying roguishly like the Jolly Roger. I felt happier for having something to do. All that was missing now was the desirable rattle of the tin can on the road. So what the hell.I wished for a road, and a road of sorts manifested itself. I say a road of sorts because it didn't look at all like a proper reassuring tarmac job. This "road" was somewhat disturbing; an endless silvery ribbon stretched out horribly straight, cutting mercilessly through the otherwise featureless white infinity...It was something that for some indefinable reason you couldn't stand to look at for very long.

"I made that," I said quietly, "I wished for it!"

"Well bloody well stop wishing," said Jane.

"WHAT?" I said quickly as a flash." You might wish for something we don't want," explained Jane. "I have to say that I'm not too happy with that road, I mean it's not a very good start is it? Why didn't you wish for a nice country lane? That thing is typical of you, all that angsty stuff - where does it get you? Anyway, I believe we should all sit down and see if we can come to an agreement on what to wish for."

"Good idea," agreed the Pumpkin man, his eyes flaring up brightly.

"Is it OK if I wish for some chairs?" I asked.

"Was that sarcasm?" said Jane. I shrugged and wished for a few comfy chairs. What I got was three stripy deck chairs. We all sat down with our backs to the road, and I turned to Jane and said:

"Ah, love! Could thou and I
With Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of
Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to
Bits-and then
Remould it nearer to the
Heart's Desire?"

"Don't talk soppy," said Jane.

"No, no it's Omar Khayyam," I said," Think about it, we have a chance to remake the world from scratch, just like in that H.G.Wells story, you know the one, The Man Who Could Work Miracles."

"Mmm, you're right," said Jane, "But what kind of world shall we make? Have you got any ideas Mr. Pumpkin Person?"

The Pumpkin man had been seeing all these events develop in silence. One could see in the hollow eyes that several thoughts were stirring (alongside any seeds left-accidentally of course-) in its head. "Well, we could start by placing a floor, I don't know about you, but I'm getting dizzy of not making a difference of up or down."

I suppose I must have wished for ground, though to be honest I couldn't remember having done it, but because I hadn't thought of something specifically, we were standing in a muddy but thick dirt. It was an amazing sight, to see the difference of both colors in the horizon: brown in the lower half, and pure white in the upper one. We were dazzled by this. Then Jane looked at her shoes and the bottoms of her jeans before eyeing me with indignantly. "Couldn't you have wished to have us stand on something less staining?"

"I didn't wish for this, I only wished for a floor and this is what appeared," I answered apologetically. "And in any event I am pretty well certain that it wasn't really my wish at all, it felt more like someone else had wished it for me!" But neither Jane nor the Pumpkin man paid the smallest attention to my protest.

"Then we've learned something quite valuable and at a very cheap cost: that of our clean shoes and clothes," said the pumpkin, who was trying to clean his pants from a mud stain with a handkerchief, "if you don't specifically wish for something, the result will turn out at random. This makes me think we are being watched by someone or something, and it is this higher entity that provides you with the ability to acquire what you wish for. Really a fascinating thing if thought over. May I suggest a Venetian mosaic floor? I do love those."

"Yes, that would be nice. Do wish it with some ornamental flowers and plants."

"Woof!" barked Sula, this meant that she wanted the floor to be made of bones or juicy steaks. If any of the present didn't know dog language or simply preferred to not hear such idea, thinking how their clothes would be also stained with meat's blood, I will leave to the reader to imagine.

"Alright, let me see what I can do." And with that I wished it as my fellows had suggested (except Sula´s, whose idea was too… I mean, I hadn't understood her a bit). All the mud was disappearing, or perhaps turning into the mosaics themselves? The first of these appeared just below our feet. With increasing velocity they began appearing around us and within moments, they were as far as our vision could reach. We took a few moments to appreciate the floor's ornaments. But to our surprise there were none. All the pieces were of different shades of green, but no flowers or plants could be seen.

"Did you wish for the plants I mentioned?" asked Jane, still looking for the aforementioned figures.

"Yes, I'm sure I did, but I don't see any at all. It's is rather strange, I thought I had been very…"

"What? You were careful?" asked the pumpkin person, who was also looking for the ornaments. As I didn't respond, both he and Jane looked at me inquiringly.

"What is the matter? Is something wrong?" asked Jane, worried I had gone mute.

"Sshhhh! Listen carefully", I hushed them, lifting my hand to my ear, trying to hear a strange sound, like something wriggling its way through glass. Both did the same (though it was rather difficult for the pumpkin, who had no ears to begin with), even Sula lifted her ears expectantly.
We didn't have to wait long. Just a small distance away from us, a few little sprouts that quickly turned to flowers appeared. We were dazzled by their colors, and so we went nearer to them. It was strange to see them made entirely of mosaic too. Everywhere around us, little plants of all sorts were coming into view, even a few pumpkins.

"If you'll excuse me," said our friend, and he went on to see the patch that was growing right before our eyes. He even picked up one of them, or at least he tried, for it was incredibly heavy, been made entirely of the glass-like material.

I picked up a chrysanthemum that had grown at my feet. I tried to smell it, but no scent came from its petals. Meanwhile, Jane had seen a strawberry bush and had taken a couple of the berries. Of course, she hadn't tried to bite them. Just by touching them one knew the teeth would give first than the fruit.

"What can we do with these? They're nice as a decoration, but nothing more," she said.

"Yes… ornaments in the end," I answered, weighing the flower again and feeling its coldness.

The sound I had heard at first grew in a crescendo, until it climaxed in an eruption that made many of the pieces fly. We could see in the distance, a stick sprouting from the mosaic, growing into an enormous tree that seemed to try and reach the white roof...
Theatre des Marionnettes by JohnPatience

Part 2
We returned to the Theatre des Marionnettes that evening, filled with curiosity. We were barely on time and had forgotten our tickets, but after a brief humorous show of mock suspicion Moonstone allowed us in saying to Jane, “You at least have an honest face, though I can’t say the same for your husband”
There were no more than thirty people in the audience that was all the place could seat, it was a tiny place, a converted barn or something of the sort. Moonstone stood in front of us and made a nervous little speech about what we were about to see, then he disappeared back stage. The theatre was darkened and the stage lights came up, music played and the red velvet curtain was slowly lifted.  

I could see immediately that my old friend knew what he was about. The children in the audience were entranced from the outset. The production was well paced and we were soon carried away on the tornado to the magic Land of Oz.  I must say that I was enjoying the show, albeit in a rather detached grown up kind of way; that was until the silly scarecrow made his appearance, and at that point my eyes grew as round with wonder as any child’s; the scarecrow was truly the spitting image of Tony Bungalow!
I told myself that the marionette’s peculiar resemblance to Bungalow was nothing more than a strange coincidence and I did my best to concentrate on the rest of the show. Dorothy and her companions continued on their way down the yellow brick road as they are bound to do, and after their usual adventures (all very nicely acted out against lovingly painted backdrops), they entered the magical Emerald City. The children in the audience loved it. Perhaps it was the first time some of them had heard the tale. Anyway Dorothy and co were in the Throne Room, and the Wizard was nowhere to be seen, there was only his spooky disembodied voice.

It was getting near the end; I glanced at my watch thinking about dinner and as I did this the cowardly Lion roared. It was the moment of revelation, Toto jumped up in alarm and tipped over the screen, and the shameful truth was revealed. The powerful Wizard of Oz was nothing more than an ordinary man or in this case an ordinary marionnette………..  with an uncanny, and for me extremely disturbing, resemblance to myself!

I don’t remember much about the rest of the show. I was incredibly rattled by the experience. As we left the theatre Moonstone was standing in the doorway mumbling banal pleasantries to his departing audience. “Goodbye now, hope to see you again soon. Have a safe journey home.” I didn’t make eye contact with him. I hurried back to the sanctuary of my caravan, Jane keeping pace, doing her level best to calm me down with, “Don’t worry,” and “Don’t be silly it’s just a coincidence.  

My real torment began that same night when I woke Jane and myself up with a terrible sound like a smothered scream. I was standing by the bed in a strange contorted puppet like pose. The dream I had dreamed was so powerful, so real, it had no right to be called a dream at all. Not even the word nightmare would come anywhere near doing it justice. I was convinced beyond doubt that I had been there on that little stage in The Theatre des Marionnettes,  trapped and terrified inside the diminutive head of Moonstone’s puppet Wizard of Oz. I had performed my part under the garish coloured lights, moved jerkily this way and that, danced to the puppet master’s tunes and spoken the words which he had put into my papier maché mouth. Suddenly I recalled my friend, Tony Bungalow. Where was he now?  I hadn’t seen him for some long time. Was it possible that his all-too-real corporeal body had simply melted away leaving not so much as an unsightly stain on the carpet? Was his soul now imprisoned in a puppet scarecrow? I was convinced that this must be so and that I was doomed to suffer the same awful fate. I was in fact certain that the dreadful process had already begun.

The “nightmare”, for want of a more fitting word, recurred relentlessly. Over and over, night after night I found myself confronted by Dorothy and her friends offering my pathetic excuse for myself that “I have been making believe”. And my days! Good god, my days became unbearable, each one suffused with an ever-increasing feeling of unreality, of the dread of darkness and its accompanying demons. And so it continued, and I tell you there were times in my waking hours when I would glance into a mirror and for a few moments I could see no reflection of myself, there was simply no one there. It seemed to me that I was slowly disappearing from this world. At other times Jane would walk by and fail to see me, only becoming aware of my presence when I finally spoke and drew attention to myself. She laughed this off claiming that she had been preoccupied, and that I really ought to shake off my morbid thoughts. But I knew better.

All this came to a sudden end one morning when Jane shooed me out of the house. “Take the dog for a walk,” she told me. “The fresh air will do you good.” Well I wandered down into the village intending to continue on to the river. Black thoughts swirled in my head. I felt Moonstone’s strings pulling at my limbs. Oh, what a merry dance! I turned the corner and stopped dead in my tracks, my dog looking up at me, with that “What’s the problem, lets get on with it,” kind of attitude. Well there was no problem; it was just that Tony Bungalow was standing large as life outside the magasin general. I would never have imagined that I could be so pleased to see Bungalow! I hurried up to him, blurting out a string of questions. “Where have you been? What have you been doing?” and, embarrassingly, “Weren’t you turning into a puppet? I thought you had become one of Moonstones puppets!” Bungalow grinned, “That was just a load of old bollocks,” he said. “I was just coming down with a bad dose of the ‘flu. I think it must have gotten into my brain. You won’t tell anybody I said all of that bloody daft stuff will you?” I laughed and the weight of the world fell from my shoulders. Bungalow’s ordinariness worked wonders. My ridiculous obsession, my nightmare of the past few weeks was over. “No, I won’t tell anyone,” I replied. “Come on, Sula, I’ll find some nice sticks for you to fetch.”

I wandered off down to the river feeling like I had been reborn. “It was all about the power of suggestion,” I told myself. The power of suggestion can be very strong, and Bungalow had been so convincing with his story that night. Who wouldn’t have believed him? The man has no imagination how could his mind have produced a fantasy like that? There was so much still to be explained, this thing wasn’t over yet.
That afternoon I returned to the little puppet theatre determined to put my mind completely at rest. I needed to know how it was that Moonstone had remained so youthful. Was there a painting in his attic with a corrupt and aged visage; was my friend of the old days some kind of Dorian Gray? No surely not, there must be some kind of sensible explanation, perhaps he was Moonstone’s son! Yes that would be it! Why hadn’t I thought of it before? With that thought in mind I entered the theatre box office feeling happy and confident. But my certainties were quickly squashed; the man behind the counter was not Mathias Moonstone. When I told him my story he looked at me as if I was insane. He had never heard of Moonstone, never clapped eyes on such a person, he insisted that he ran his little business alone. I asked if he was currently putting on a production of The Wizard of Oz and was relieved to hear that he was. The man obligingly pointed out the puppets for the show. They were not the puppets I had seen. The scarecrow and the wizard in no way resembled Bungalow or myself.
When I got back to the caravan I went to the drawer into which I remembered stuffing Moonstone’s book. The thing was still there; at least I hadn’t imagined that! But Collection and Recollection’s pages were all blank, all of them that is except for the fly leaf and on that I found the following inscription…  

The past is always present.
Mathias Moonstone, Trans-Dimensional Trickster

I experience a sudden pain behind my eyes. The interior of Amnésie began to shimmer with fantastic blinding patterns. “I’m developing a migraine,” I told myself. But this was no ordinary migraine.  Its effects were far stranger and longer lasting than any I had previously suffered. Collection and Recollection slid from my numb fingers, its binding breaking and its loose leaves fluttering down to a strange stone floor, not the floor of my comfortable old caravan but the hard stone floor of a castle. Peering painfully through the pyrotechnics of my mangled vision I found myself to be in a vast space, a great hallway with massive carved pillars at the far end of which was a doorway, a way out into the future. But in the doorway was a dragon.
The Dragon in the Doorway.
Why is there always a dragon in the doorway? I took up my HB pencil and made ready for the battle.

The Dragon in the Doorway by JohnPatience

Step bravely,dear friends. 2009 is waiting on the other side of the doorway, where will your story lead you?

You might be thinking that this has all been a bit Edgar Allen Poe-faced and if so I would have to agree with you :D
:wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave:

I think I should say now that The Theatre des Marionnettes is a real place run by a very nice man who makes wonderful puppets, puts on great shows and is not in the least bit like Mathias Moonstone. If he ever reads my nonsense story I hope he will forgive me.

I wish you all a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
:thumb101692852:     :thumb101692956:

Part 1

Tony Bungalow is not well liked, even his best friends find him somewhat disagreeable. Of course, the man is equipped with the skin of a rhinoceros and he is completely unaware of this sorry state of affairs. Bungalow inflicts himself blithely and without discrimination on all and sundry, and sadly on this particular evening Jane and I were singled out to be the unfortunate sundries. The worrisome window cleaner had paid us an unexpected visit and, as it was a balmy evening, we were sitting outside the caravan eating Jane’s delicious alfresco stew.  In the general way of things it is hard to get a word in edgeways with a pile driver when Tony Bungalow is around, but on this occasion Tony was behaving very much out of character. In place of his usual boisterous and abrasive self there was a strangely reticent individual. As a matter of fact we were actually experiencing an interesting protracted silence. Of course this was too good to last and before long the window cleaner threw his metaphorical bucket through our tranquillity.
“Have you ever felt that you weren’t quite all there?” asked Tony. I was tempted to take him up on this remark but by great effort of will I managed to restrain myself. “I mean, I feel like I’m not quite real or maybe like everything else is not real. Do you know what I mean? I mean when I looked in the mirror this morning just for a second or two I swear blind that I wasn’t there. I mean there was no me looking back at me. It was bloody scary, I can tell you.”
“Yes, Tony, I’m sure it was,” I said soothingly. “When did you first begin to experience this problem?” The physiatrist’s hat I had just popped on felt more comic than convincing. “Well it began when Betty and me were having a bit of a day out,” replied Tony. “We were wondering around a little market town. Very picturesque it was, very nice you know, and, well, we found this funny little place; a puppet theatre, name of “THEATRE DES MARIONNETTES.” As he said this Tony turned a whiter shade of pale, though I have to say he didn’t look even remotely like skipping any kind of fandango. light or otherwise. “Betty can’t resist that sort of thing, I mean cute stuff, you know. The damn woman dragged me inside “To take a little look around”……………..

During the long and meandering course of Bungalow’s narrative, to which I will not subject you, everyone’s dinner went cold and darkness fell. The nub of the tale was that the window cleaner and his long suffering wife Betty had attended Theatre des Marionettes for a performance of The Wizard of Oz. They had both noticed at once that the face of the scarecrow puppet bore a remarkable resemblance to Tony’s. At the time this had been a source of great amusement, but that night when he retired to his bed Tony Bungalow had suffered a terrible nightmare in which he had actually been transformed into the scarecrow puppet. As if this were not bad enough, the nightmare had recurred again and again, night after horrific night, each time with a greater and more forceful reality. Now, a week later, the nightmare had become more tangible than real life, hence Bungalow’s feeling of being “not quite all there”.

“Fuck Mathias Moonstone,” exclaimed the hollow-eyed Bungalow, “He’s got me turning into a puppet!” Now it was my turn to blanch, not at Bungalow’s bad language - I was all too familiar with that; no, it was the name of Mathias Moonstone which had shaken me! Surely there could not be two people on this planet with that peculiar name. Tony’s Puppeteer must most certainly be the long lost friend of my youth. I was surprised at my own reactions, I ought to have been happy, delighted even, to learn that Mathias Moonstone was still alive and kicking, but for some reason the night seemed suddenly to have grown darker and the evening air had become a little chilly.

Despite many misgivings on account of Bungalow’s peculiar story I was drawn to the Theatre des Marionnettes like a fish to a lure. I found it just as he told me I would; at the top of the village’s pretty little market square. It was sandwiched neatly in-between two larger quite unremarkable buildings, which only served to emphasise the Theatre’s charm. It was the sort of place that made you smile to look at it. It had a kind of irresistible faded glamour. Jane and I exchanged smiles and stepped out of the dazzle of afternoon sunshine and into the fusty half-light of the tiny box office. It was like stepping into a weird and slightly scary children’s story book! The room was literally packed from floorboards to ancient oak-beamed ceiling with an absolute multitude of amazing one-of-a-kind string puppets.  A silent crowd of diminutive gurners returned our curiosity with rigid and unsettling expressions of their own. They grimaced and leered, smirked and glared at us from every direction. You couldn’t say in all honesty that they were pretty puppets, but they were remarkable, very odd, very odd indeed.

“Yes some of them are a little unnerving,” said a voice; it was a voice from long ago, from my dim and distant past but I recognised it at once! I spun round and saw the figure of Mathias Moonstone. His head was tilted quizzically to one side and he wore the slight suggestion of smile upon his face!  I was flabbergasted and gob smacked, I was dumbfounded! Moonstone had literally not aged a day in 37 years. His hair remained dark brown, his long pale face was youthful and bore not a wrinkle, and just as in the old days he was as thin as a whippet. It seemed that Mathias Moonstone had miraculously managed to remain impervious to the passing years. I should have greeted him like the long lost friend that he was, I know I should, but I remembered Bungalow’s strange story and it held me back. Moonstone himself showed no sign of having recognised me; this was hardly surprising to me since I am afraid that unlike Moonstone I can claim no immunity to time; I am growing old.
Naturally, Jane and I attempted to draw Moonstone into conversation. Jane is normally very good at this, but Mathias had little to say for himself, deftly turning our questions back on us so that we found ourselves doing most of the talking. He gave nothing away, and that increased my curiosity. I had to see one of his puppet shows, so, we bought a couple of tickets for the Wizard of Oz. We were just about to leave when I noticed a small pile of books on the counter. The title interested me.

The works of Mathias Moonstone.

I picked one up and offered to pay. “Gratuit,” said Mathias.

Back in the caravan I opened Mathias’s book at a random page and read this

The voice came with a pick and a shovel and a pneumatic drill,
It picked and shovelled and drilled in my house,
Until finally it found the bird which I had buried in the wall,
It was still alive!
“Why did you brick the bird up in the wall?” asked the voice.
“Because it is a strangely coloured bird and I was afraid,” I replied,
The voice threw open a window, and the bird flew out into the garden,
Where it settled in a tree and began singing its heart out.
I watched and waited ……………………...

And on the page opposite

(Word picture)
Riding a penny-farthing bicycle,
Over the sparkling horizon of a rainbow bubble planet.
Singing: “I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams they fade and die.”
Universe whirling and swirling, wild a starry,
Coat tails flying in cosmic wind, top hat set at jaunty angle.
Far out!

I snapped the book shut and put it away in a drawer, out of sight if not quite out of mind.

End of part1

:wave: :wave: :wave: : wave: :wave: :wave: :wave:

It begins to look like I’m possessed by possession, first it’s goblins now it’s puppets!
If I write anything after this one I must try to strike out in a different direction. Perhaps I could tackle something a little more cheerful like zombies, or maybe even zombie fairies! ATTACK OF THE ZOMBIE FAIRIES. Yes it’s a good title I can work with it. I can imagine a zombie tooth fairy that doesn’t wait for the teeth to fall out naturally, but comes along with a big hammer and a pick axe to make a proper job of it. Oh but Moonstone had a pick axe in crows, one too many pick axes and I’m going round in circles, better stop. If anyone is interested Part two of the puppet thing follows when I can get some time away from my drawing board.

Autumn Circa 1971 and Mathias Moonstone wakes up in a tiny rented room in Walthamstow, London. Without leaving his bed he reaches out and pulls on the string which he has some time ago wound carefully around the furniture; it switches on a small wall mounted electric fire on the other side of the room.

Mathias Moonstone; fugitive from reality, unemployed, no relationship, life stuck in a metaphorical cul-de-sac.

In a nearby reality known as fairyland, four greedy goblins are whispering in a cave. Unbeknown to Moonstone these sly conspirators are laying down plans to obsess him, to hijack his life, and by this nefarious means to give themselves some kind of shape and form.

Moonstone now returning from shopping. Plastic carrier bag contents: Tinned potatoes, butter and bread. Inside pocket of army greatcoat: two stolen packets of soup. Moonstone passing through a piece of scrubby woodland, stops and stares at a compelling hollow in the roots of a twisty tree. And so it begins, from twisty trees grow twisty tales.

Look now, a large pen and ink drawing of the hollow tree with obsessive wood texturing has appeared on Moonstone’s drawing board. He is quite pleased with his work and with four drawing pins he fixes it to the wall. There is a definite feeing of achievement about this, but alas the feeling is short lived and very soon the “artist” is once more back in the state of limbo, the place where life offers up few events, and no scope for change. So Mathias Moonstone goes for walks around a local reservoir, he reads a bit of Keats and TS Eliot, and it seems to him that these days of quiet detachment will probably go on forever. However a few days, or was it a few weeks later, (it’s difficult to remember, it was all so long ago) from its inky wooden mouth the picture on the wall begins to call out, “Give me a goblin, give me a goblin.” The voice is insistent, and there is no possibility of refusing it! Moonstone is compelled to return to the drawing board. Drawing follows drawing, and one after another four greedy goblins creep out from fairyland to take up residence in the alien modern world, the world of steel and concrete and unpalatable compromises. And to give these devious immigrants from Fairyland purpose Moonstone’s head begins to spin out a spidery thread, a peculiar little story of once upon a time “It was late November and the forest floor was covered with fallen leaves. The goblin’s cave ……………….

Mr Moonstone’s room.

A bed, a table and a wardrobe.
A string of horse chestnuts hanging in a corner, still new and shiny brown.
A record player with a number of scratchy records.
A few books,
Very little moss.
Stone still rolling.

At this moment, not more or less memorable than any other, the Fairport Convention album “Liege and Lief,” is playing, and Sandy Denny is singing Tam Lin,
Singing as sweetly as only a ghost can sing.

“Oh had I known Tam Lin,” she said,
What this night I did see,
“I’d have looked him in the eyes and turned him to a tree.”

Meanwhile outside in the city night, under baleful, star drowning yellow street lights, the traffic flows endlessly by; innumerable faceless strangers en route to unknown destinations. In this way a world might end. But oblivious to the uncaring metropolis, protected by the warm cloak of fantasy, Mr Moonstone - fingers turned to twigs, long hair turned to leaves, possessed by goblins and entwined in forest folklore - continues to draw, troubling away with a splattery dipping pen at yet another blameless sheet of white cartridge paper.

Of course we could follow Mathias Moonstone’s path still further, stalking him through his repetitive days, watching him as the grip of the four greedy goblins tightens upon his imagination, but one place to leave him is as good as another. Nothing changes in the past and all things remain as it appears they must be.  

Note: The Greedy Goblins was completed circa 1973, but predictably it was never published. Little else is known of my reclusive friend Mr Moonstone. Like a coin fallen from a careless hand, he seems now to have vanished without trace , slipped between the floorboards of time, to lay forgotten forever in the dusty gloom of the past. Since Moonstone was comparatively young when he produced his sadly unknown masterwork, he left no mark upon the world of children’s book illustration. No wait a moment - I tell a lie!  In the proper spirit of Deviant Art I at least must acknowledge a certain indebtedness to my friend. Though it may not be at once apparent, Moonstone’s somewhat naïve work did to some extent influence my own artistic efforts.

In amongst the artwork for The Greedy Goblins which my friend left in my care before his disappearance, I found a tape with a couple of songs which were obviously intended to go along with the story. The singer and writer of the music is Valerie Stanton. I had not listened to the tape in many years, it was only very recently that I played it again, and sat wistfully remembering the bad old days and my strange young friend Mathias Moonstone. In such ways we travel in time.
Here are links to 60-second extracts from the two songs:……
More stuff and nonsense from my computer. A message in a bottle in a bobbing bottle ocean.

Madcap Flying Incident

No one can see you; you are a ghost from the future; a watcher. This is a hot afternoon in the mid 1950's and you are haunting a small library in the north of England. The tar on the busy road outside is melting; there are tar bubbles in the gutters. The world is noisy with people and traffic. Heavy lorries rumble by on their way down to the corn mill; they drown out the sound of the chiming church clock. In contrast to all of this the library is wonderfully cool and peaceful - very still. This is not the modern kind of library, not a light and airy easygoing sort of a place. This library has something of the feeling of a church about it. The windows are small; they are thin rectangles of sky above the wall-to-wall bookshelves. Blossom Frump, the librarian, is putting the returned books back in their rightful places on the shelves; History, Travel, Art, Fiction… her sensible shoes make reassuring little squeaking noises on the polished floor.

There are two or three low tables with large comfortable leather chairs placed around them. In the area given over to children's books you see a boy; he is perhaps seven or eight years old, he's wearing short trousers, sandals and a tee shirt. The leather of the chair is sticking to the back of his legs. On the table by the pile of picture books which he's looking through is a small cardboard box, a shoe box most likely. The man entering the library is Septimus Delver he mumbles a "Good morning," to Blossom Frump and sits himself down at the table on which the daily newspapers are laid out. He picks up a copy of the Evening Post. The date on the newspaper is June 25th 2008. Delver doesn't notice this peculiarity; instead his eye is drawn to the following headline and news article.

Yesterday, before a gathering of the world's press, a gryphon residing in the Dordogne area of France carried out a death-defying experiment.  The 59 year old gryphon, father of two, had become convinced in his own mind that it was possible to fly. Balancing precariously on the roof of his caravan the mythological creature leapt into the air, furiously beating his wings as he did so. The result was tragic. The deluded gryphon fell like a stone, incurring a slightly grazed knee.
"It was my own fault," said the gryphon, speaking later from the steps of the caravan, "If gryphons were meant to fly God would have given them wings. Well I mean better wings and not such heavy bodies and perhaps hollow bones like birds and…….."

Septimus Delver puts down the newspaper and shakes his head, "Why do gryphons do these things?" he sighs. It's a question he asks only of himself. He is barely aware that he has said the words out loud, or of the boy in whose direction he happens to be looking. But the child is embarrassed. He thinks the man is speaking to him, demanding an answer!  It's the long summer holidays, and he has suddenly been dragged back into school. "Yes you, Davey Daydream! Why do gryphons do these things? Come on quickly now we haven't got all day." The fact is the boy doesn't much like being spoken to by grown ups, he doesn't understand them. So what does he do? Simple answer; he jumps up and, eyes down, he shoots towards the door; only barely, by the finest of cat's whiskers avoiding Blossom Frump who is busy transporting an armful of romantic fiction; Mills and Boon, balm for boredom.
And he blunders wide-eyed out into the open air.
"Hey! There were a mad man in't library. ΄E nearly 'ad me, but I got away! No there were, honest, ah'm tellin' yer!" Yes it will be a good story.

A little while later Septimus Delver, oblivious of the effect he has had on the boy, notices the forgotten cardboard box, and carries it over Blossom Frump at the checkout desk. "I don't know if there is anything inside it," he says, "its very light." They stand together in silence for a while, the box sitting between them like a cardboard question mark. There's no denying it, there's something odd about this box, something indefinably different. It looks like any other cardboard box; but……….  "Mmm, well I know what they say, but I for one have never seen a cat killed by curiosity," says Blossom Frump. This is her finest hour, the nearest she will ever come to bravery. Ever so carefully she lifts the lid, and stretching out their necks like two tentative tortoises Delver and Frump peer down into the box.

And they peep into fairyland all of a twinkle,
Where a tiny gypsy caravan is making its way
Along a winding white road,
Down the valleys and over the hills
Travelling hopefully from here to there,
On a strictly one-way ticket.

A short time later the boy sneaks back into the now empty library (no sign of Septimus Delver or Blossom Frump). He picks up his forgotten cardboard box, replaces the lid and quietly leaves. His bicycle is leaning against the library wall. Popping the box into the saddlebag he swings his leg over the cross bar and pedals  away. Away and away, back into the lost world of childhood.

In the library the Panama hat materialises. It hovers in the centre of the room for a short while, spinning like a flying saucer, before fading silently away. Now, finally, there is only you; the ghost from the future.

Please don't steal the books.
Nothing Extraordinary

It was just an ordinary afternoon and I was working in our vegetable patch, turning over the earth and pulling out the weeds. A breeze was blowing through the big wild cherry tree, carrying away the blossom and scattering it around the garden, a little of it was falling over me.  It was one of those times when, perhaps because my mind wasn’t occupied with other things, I became properly aware of how amazing the world is, and that there is really nothing ordinary about any of it. I wish I could always feel that way!

The Magic Stew Pot

Jane and I are sitting at a campfire close by our caravan. I’m feeling better for my nap and the rabbit stew smells fantastic!  
What does it take to make a stew that’s good enough to eat?
A carrot a turnip some onions and spuds and a nice bit of loverly meat” burbles the magic stew pot.

(Please note that the views expressed by the magic stew pot are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the author. Nor will the author be held responsible for anything the aforementioned magic stew pot might do.)

Now I think that I really ought to tell you a little about this remarkable stew pot. For your information, he is one of those very special all-singing, all-dancing stew pots which appear in a goodly number of bona fide, true-life fairytales. Hang him over any campfire and he will at once be filled with delicious, bubbling stew.
(For those who are interested, the magic stew pot can be purchased for the price of a penny or two at www .fairylandkitchenware. com. An amazing special offer is available for this month only. Buy the magic stew pot and get a dishwasher fairy totally free. Money back guaranteed if not completely satisfied!!!!.
Sad to say, the aforementioned website is only online every seventh Friday of the month and alternate Pontefract Thursdays.)

But to continue with the tale, the stew tastes every bit as good as it smells, and of course Jane and I polish it off with no bother at all, with me acting like a right old porker by indulging in second helpings, and then mopping up the gravy with a bit of bread. By the time we are finished eating evening is falling, and the tops of the trees are silhouetted against a glowing orange fringe of sky, where the sun is slipping down. It occurs to me that I had better shape myself! I get up and go about lighting the oil lamps which hang from the four corners of Amnésie’s roof. Within a moment or two each of the glowing lamps has attracted dozens of tiny moth-like fairies. I stand looking at them for awhile, kind of mesmerized. But some small sound, perhaps an owl calling in the wood, breaks the spell, and I wander over to where Jane is sitting by the embers of the fire, and I settle myself down beside her to enjoy the cooling air, and watch for shooting stars.

Meanwhile, and all in the twinkling of an eye, the pretty little dishwasher fairy does her stuff, and  the magic stew pot all spruced up and clean, leaps into the back of the caravan, taking the plates and cutlery with him, and obligingly tidies himself away!  Hey Diddle Diddle. Absolute magic!”  Well now,” sez I. “I think it’s high time we were off on our travels.” I gaze across at Vie who is standing in the gloaming a little way off, contentedly munching away on the daises. Then, with the heavy sigh of an impractical sort of man in a practical sort of world, I hoist myself to my feet and go and collect the old horse, and I begin my attempt to hitch her up to the caravan. You’d best cover your ears at this point because there is an awful lot of swearing going on. Well I mean, all these chains and straps and stuff, they get in a right old tangle!

I give myself a pat on the back here (which is a clever trick when you think about it) because I am nothing if not persistent, and I finally get the job done. Jane and I climb up onto the driver’s seat of the caravan and for the sake of appearances I take up the reins. As I think I may have already mentioned, I am only a notional kind of driver, Vie always goes entirely her own way. We brace ourselves for take-off, but we are taken pleasantly by surprise, this time rather than lurching into the air, Vie moves sedately away on foot, or perhaps I should say on the hoof. So off we go, happy little stew-filled travellers, trundling down a woodland path, through whispering trees and whirling leaves, the caravan rolling slightly from side to side, like a boat on a gentle sea, and the silver sickle moon scything its way across the twinkling black velvet heavens…….

There is a happy land far, far away
Where sorrow is a stranger,
And skies are never grey.
Roll the wheels, roll the wheels,
All through the night.
We’ll be there in the morning,
We’ll see it at first light.

OK this is the intermission. I will be showing naff ads for local restaurants etc. You can take the opportunity to go for a pee, and buy some popcorn or a choc ice.
Star date 11 April 2008……. These are the voyages of the caravan of forgetfulness.

At 50,000 feet it can get quite cold, and I can’t help wishing I had a nice pair of mittens and a balaclava. And tell me this, just where exactly are the inflight peanuts?  I am thinking these little thoughts when I am startled by a terrible clattering coming from behind me…from inside Amnésie! I swivel round and am horrified to see my most prized processions flying out of the caravan window. My God there goes my signed copy of the Hawthorne’s Wonder Book. “Bloody Hell!”  Jane and I scramble hurriedly into the back, where we are amazed to discover two identical red-bearded stowaway dwarves.

“Tick and Tock, Tock and Tick,” This is by way of an introduction, but it’s made without ceremony or pause. Tick’s and Tock’s arms continue to whirl around and our most treasured processions continue to disappear out of the window.

Look around and they will be gone, all those things you love and lean on.

“STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” ……That’s me shouting, and strangely enough it works. The dwarves’ hands are stilled and the two vandals stand staring at us in dismay, completely uncomprehending of our obvious distress. For a wonderful moment everything appears to be under control… but then all of a surprising suddelynness the spell is broken, and like a stomach-churning fairground roller coaster, the caravan lurches and plunges earthward. We grab what we can to hold ourselves steady, and prepare for what looks like it’s going to be an extremely rough landing.

Yep, Vie is bringing us down again.

No parachutes on this flight.  It’s a bumpity-bump kind of landing  but not nearly so bad as I had feared. Well I suppose what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Mind you I have to say, it doesn’t always feel that way. At any rate, Jane and I and our two dwarfish acquaintances tumble weak-kneed out onto terra firma. We find ourselves standing (if a bit on the wobbly side) in a small clearing in a forest, but this is by no means your average kind of forest. You’d forage a long time before you found another forest like this one. Look and Listen.

Take a walk in the forest. There are all kinds of trees in this place, no need to name them all, no need to describe them, but just look at their leaves. Look at their leaves, growing and falling continuously as you watch; leaves of many shapes and colours. Some fall upon the ground where they lie in a thick carpet untouched by time and decay, others are caught up by the restless, weaving wind. A wind which blows endlessly through the forest, gentle yet tireless, following its own unfathomable patterns.  Stand and listen for a moment, the trees are whispering each to each… “What a beautiful leaf.”  “What amazing colours.”  “Awesome.” “Awesome.”  “Awesome.”

“Tread softly for you tread on our dreams” (W.B.Y.)

Jane wanders around looking at the flowers, but beauty can be such an exhausting thing and I have had a beauty overload. I throw my notebook and pencil down amongst the leaves, and sprawl under an oak tree, considering in a vague sort of a way where Tick and Tock might have gone… and I fall asleep.

I dream of night, of cold moonbeams slicing between trees, of a field mouse running panic-stricken through long grass, and an owl hovering silently a moment before the kill.

When I wake up it is to the reality where there are things that want doing. I must make some batter for the Yorkshire puds… my contribution to dinner. You can’t beat a good Yorkshire pud, but you bet you’d better beat the batter.

(W.B.Y.) slightly adapted quote from W.B. Yeats.
So… here we sit in the fantastic glittery garden, and it feels just like a bad joke. There are dark days sometimes when you just get stuck. You can't go back because your home has exploded. You look down the road and all you see is the thick cold fog coming down. And you know the present can be a difficult place to be. At these times all you can do is wait for the future to come and find you. So we wait, and we wait, and we wait some more.

And after a time we hear the sound of a clip clop clip clop……. and out from the fog comes an old horse drawn caravan. Yes and look who's sitting up there on the driver's seat… Ms Moon, the spiky haired, jingle jangle jewellery wearing, lone ranger of magic. And wow this thing looks just like old Toad's caravan from Wind in the Willows. It's just beautiful! It's painted in bright optimistic sunshine yellow and  carefully hand lettered on its side, and woven around with red dew beaded roses is the  caravan's name "AMNÉSIE".

"Whoa Vie," calls Ms Moon, and the old horse pulls up obediently in front of us.  I am amazed, of course I am. I go to stroke the horse's head, just like anyone would, I feel the warmth of Vie's breath and smell its sweetness. The smell of long forgotten meadows. It makes me sneeze. I have hay fever. Is this real or is it not? It reminds me of my earliest memory. Little i with his grandfather standing by, a big man felt more than seen. Little i reaching out feeding crusts to a great big enormous farm horse. Does imagination reconstruct the memory, turning it all into this misty pastel picture postcard thing? Did that really happen? Who knows?

"Life, what is it but a dream?"

"This is your new home," declares Ms Moon.  But I'm of a suspicious turn of mind, "What's the catch?" I ask. "What's the price?" "All in good time," answers the spiky haired one. "That can wait until the final page. If I told you now it would spoil all the fun."

What do we do? Stay here in our tent, or climb up onto the mysterious caravan? No surprises… up we get. I take hold of the reins, and Ms Moon whispers something into old Vie's velvet ear. "And our mission should we choose to accept it," I joke nervously. "Giddy up Vie!" cries Ms Moon, ignoring me completely. And Vie and Amnésie and wayfarers all take off. Up, up and away we fly into the future filled with wonders, a future which awaits with open arms. "Don't be afraid," says Jane… because she knows me well.

Green-eyed, peevish faced goblins run out from the bushes throwing stones at us. We look down laughing; we are well out of range.

High above an awakening world flying through clouds of miniature diamond-eyed rainbow dragons. I hold Vie's reins but the old horse flies where she will… on a mission most mysterious and strange.
We fall and fall and it seems like forever …..Until; at last and all of a suddley we hit the ground running. Running and running and yet barely moving. Struggling through that thick golden syrup again. Desperately trying to escape from our very own crazy ghost train house of fun. It expands and contracts behind us like a giant beating heart, each beat  more powerful than the last …and it happens like this …the house implodes; pops it goes clean out of existence leaving not a trace behind  and in that self same moment the barrier of incredulity is smashed into smithereens. Now there is nothing left to disbelieve. Imagination is beggared and, all of fairyland is loose.

Who knows what has happened to Ms Moon.

Jane and I sit by a sad little campfire outside our tent. We watch dumbstruck as all of the creatures and paraphernalia of fairyland break out into the unsuspecting world. Dragons, goblins, unicorns and wotnot they are running wild and free!

From witches and wizards and long tailed buzzards,
And creeping things which run in hedge bottoms,
Good Lord deliver us.

And as we watch I feel the presence of Sir Richard Irony creeping about me. Can it be that he has become one of the grizzly undead. There is definitely a figure lurking in the shadows….. The figure lurches forward and Jane and I gasp in horror!

“Fear not my friends,” says a familiar voice. “Tis but a soul adrift beset by insufferable gloom and melancholy.” Roaming this bleak world of unredeemed and deathly dreariness. Tis but…” It’s only our good friend Edgar Allen Poe, popped round as is his wont, for a cup of cocoa and a game of snap. Edgar is a bit on the gloomy side so in the rather forlorn hope of cheering him up a bit we usually let him win at snap. On this occasion however the conversation gets off to a bad start. The master of the macabre reaches out and points with a skeletal finger to where our house used to stand. “Ah my dear friends ‘tis like unto The Fall of the House of Usher.” he says with a sickly smile. My God, has Edgar Allen Poe made a joke?
“Shut up and drink your coca Edgar,” sez Jane. And this time I don’t let the blighter beat me at snap. That'll teach him!

After Edgar takes his baleful leave Jane and I sit up talking all night. We worry about the future as we have done often enough before, an illustrator’s lot is a precarious one.

One worry leads to another and I begin thinking of all kinds of things… shoes and ships and sealing wax and whether originality is important. If I hear something worth repeating I repeat it without expecting anyone to jump on my back and say “Yeah, but that’s not an original thought, is it?” So why are we expected to always be original as artists? Surely painting and drawing are just another means of communication. Is original nonsense worth more than borrowed wisdom? Van Gogh did a painting of an etching by Gustave Dore and nobody thinks any the worse of him for that because he brought something of himself to it. My mind meanders like this until morning and morning is a long time coming, but come it does.

The sun rises up bright and early, round and red, on a scene covered with a thick frosting of fairy dust. The campfire has gone out, and the air is cold. I shiver……the burning bridges at my back give off no heat at all.

That reminds me I had better get some logs in for the stove.
Jane tells me this journal is a result of having too much time on my hands. She may very well be right. 
This journal entry is dedicated to the memory of Sir Richard Irony 1810-1908

Sir Richard Irony, the well known English humorist, died 100 years ago today aged 98 and three quarters. Sir Richard was inordinately proud of having attained this grand old age and would not have wished us to omit the three quarters.

It is, of course, well known that this great man of letters gave his name to the brand of humour which he himself invented and became justly famous for. What is less well known is the manner of his death which was in itself perhaps the ultimate irony.
Irony died in the United States of America. Sir Richard was in Boston at the time visiting his dear friend Wayne Paradox Junior the Third. He was partaking of kippers and marmalade at breakfast, and simultaneously casually glancing through an old copy of the humorous magazine Punch.  The old man was rather forgetful and, coming across a joke of his own invention, he failed to recognise it as such. Sir Richard found the joke hilarious and went into a great spasm of uncontrollable laughter. Tragically this brought about his untimely demise. He choked to death on his kipper.

Sir Richard Irony never recovered from his death and was buried in the grounds of his country estate in the village of Little Rumbling on Sea. He has left a lasting impression on us all. His memory will remain for ever green, and perhaps just a little purple due to the manner of his departure.

And now we go to…………….


How can it be? My attic which, the last time I looked, was no more than usual size, is now vast and resembles some kind of derelict cathedral. I can see the moon shining through the holes in the roof, but its light is put to shame by the blinding light which bursts out through the ruptured barrier of incredulity. It is the weird light of fairyland. A light of an entirely new primary colour! The colour I have always dreamed of finding.

And all around stand the denizens of fairyland.

As I goggle open-mouthed, Irving Berlin's music begins to play. Suddenly Jane and I are dressed like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Butterfly fairies sprinkle fairy dust over us. We begin to dance, and I begin to sing.
"I'm putting on my top hat,
Tying up my white tie,
Brushing off my tails"
It's all wild and fantastic. Then the light of fairyland goes out, and a voice which I think is that of Ms. Moon is shrieking,


Dissolve the floors of memory…..
And we fall Jane Ms. Moon and I, down through deep dark waters.

Ayup, it's getting kind of windy out and it looks like rain. Never mind, it's casserole for dinner.
It's ticking away...time that is. I mean it's still a bit sticky, but it's beginning to run off the spoon again, kind of ticking tacky I suppose.

Ms. Moon enters our fairy infested house like a gunfighter swaggering into a saloon. A gunfighter in high heels, that's something you don't often see. Jane and I look more like a couple of awkward oldsters turning up at a rave. I felt a bit like that when I arrived At DA, an accidental gate crasher, half inclined to pick up my coat and sidle away. But I digress.
The din has subsided and for the moment at least the fairy revels are ended. Thousands of malevolent little icy blue eyes are staring out of something like half as many weird little faces.(Can't be sure about this I think there are a few of these little fellas with more eyes about them than is strictly necessary.) Luna, Ms Moons cat, looks like she bit into an electric cable, her fur is standing up like the bristles on a yard brush. I don't know why she is reacting in this way, surely cats see fairies all the time.That's the reason they suddenly leap up into the air and race around the room. They are trying to catch fairies! Oh dear, I shouldn't have thought that. Thinking things makes them happen.! Luna has spotted the important looking little couple sitting on top of the book case.Yes you guessed, it's Oberon and Titania the fairy king and queen!

What begins with holes in my socks ends with a royal visit.

And there goes Luna, shooting up the bookcase. She pounces on Oberon, grabs him by the scruff of the neck, and gives him a right good shaking. A  second later she's back in front of Ms Moon. and she drops the royal ruler of the fairy realm at the witches feet. Oh and doesn't she look pleased with herself! She is thinking little feline thinks like, "Look see what I've brought you. It's a lovely little present. It's a nice juicy fairy rat thing. Now give me a  piece of smelly fish"

Call me a pessimist if you like but I don't think this is a good way to begin negotiations with the fairy folk. My confidence in Ms Moon is rapidly ebbing away. Yep this is most definitley a sticky moment. Time is getting a wee bit  tacky again, not so much thick golden syrup, more like a  pile of you no what!

Tip tap, tick tock, where do we go from here? Down stairs to feed the dog, and to get myself a drink. A glass of port I think. OK I know that port is an after dinner drink, what do I care.:)

PS Have you noticed how many of these things (  )   (   )   (   ) I use ? I got em in a job lot and I'm trying to get rid of em. Just ask if you want a few. I've got a cartload of these too ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and quite a lot of these;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;. Maybe you could use some for a bit of pun-ctuation M :)