October, 1869

The smell of damp earth. The smog hanging heavy over London. Mist, stealing through the gravestones.  Footsteps, hurrying through the cemetery, boots echoing on the pathways, voices hushed and urgent. “Where is it?” “Here. Just here.” Also to the memory of Elizabeth Eleanor wife of their elder son Dante Gabriel Rossetti The hiss of a match. The metallic clatter of… Read it

Cannon Fodder

The gnawing started as soon as night fell; incisors clicking, toes scurrying over both the dead and live bodies. The rats feasted. There wasn’t much you could do about it. The living had nowhere to escape to anyway. Their living quarters were awash with mud, corpses and spent bullet cases. There was no colour anywhere. The landscape was brown mud,… Read it

Off the Map

Captain Matthew Flinders crouches on one knee, resting his buttock on the heel of his foot. His beautifully turned calves hold him in perpetual concentration. He looks past the paper coffee cups abandoned at his feet, to the chart he is making of the New World. Commuters look above him to the train departures board, their routes clearly mapped out.… Read it

The Amaranthine Moment

The slender iron columns resolute in their purpose, curved off towards the tunnel, their rigid equidistance punctuated by people milling, reading, their toes awkwardly kicking the shiny painted paving stones of the platform in anticipation of the train’s imminent arrival. The woman was there again. Her tall and purposeful gait was as slim and strong in appearance as the column… Read it

Palladium

She knew it was not a ring. The box was the wrong shape, longer, oblong. And it would all have been too soon, Leave or no Leave. But the curving band of gold, the detailed glitter, the way it lay against the satin; “it makes my heart spin”, she said. “Like the rings of Saturn” he was smiling, “except they’re… Read it

Luck Lost & Found

He came home on a clear day, early and unexpected; his leave coinciding with the start of spring. He’d taken the first train to London, slept sitting in the corridor, his back up against a compartment.  Outside the squat red station at Holland Park he thought he wouldn’t recognise anything, not even where he lived.  Then, as he walked down… Read it

‘Only Connect’

Alighting at Russell Square for his appointment at Faber & Faber, Tom saw the advert for a new exhibit at the British Museum and changed course. An hour remained before his editor arrived, full of circumspect praise. Intersecting the square on the diagonal, he strode toward the scarabs, sphinxes and papyrus awaiting him, free for the viewing. In the United… Read it

“I love the man that can grow brave by reflection” – Thomas Paine

I, Hardy in name, hardy in nature, a proud political reformer, servant to working men, craftsmen, stumble through London. A waft of diseased mud from low tide tries to hold onto me with afflicting memories, my lost progeny, six lost tots. I fly along Watling Street, up Ludgate Hill, drunk with hope. I, the shoemaker, shop owner, am politically sanctioned.… Read it

All his Worldly Goods

You turn my key; a rough edge scrapes my mother-of-pearl escutcheon.  You run your index finger over the small abrasion. The spoon slips into the dark curled leaves, wrinkled and dry with the faint aroma of bergamot.  They will not come alive without the scalding water from the kettle.  It hums and purrs, poised to unfurl my treasured contents. A… Read it

The Landed Sea Witch

“I miss the sea,” she whispers without voice. She looks without eyes to London’s evergrey sky. A wooden arm extended as if pleading for rain. She knows that only the wind now brings her water.  No breaking waves will again caress her body and transport her away. It is decades since she last voyaged to China,  since sailor’s feet massaged… Read it

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