By David R Graham. 1.06.14

‘Aaah! Now, that, hurt!
What was it?
Wait a minute! I have just had a thought! I mean, just then. I had a thought!
I had a conscious thought.
I have never had one of those before.
I do not have conscious thoughts.
I do not think. I function on pure instinct. At least I think I do, or I did.
There. I’ve done it again!
I have just thought, that I think I used to function by instinct.
That is the second, or is it the third, conscious thought I have had, within the space of a minute.
What is a minute?
I know I know what a minute is. I just cannot explain what it is, at the moment.
But I will. I know that I will.
I feel that I know a lot of things, that I did not know before.
Before what?
Before that big bright light, and that very loud noise. Whatever light and noise are.
I know what they are. But I do not know why I know. Or how I know.
But I know that I will know. I know that I am going to know a great many things.
I know that, because I feel boundless potential coursing through me, animating me, expanding me, enlarging me, growing me, strengthening me.
I almost feel invincible.
I know that very soon I will be invincible. I already know that I am indestructible.
‘Whatever it is that is happening to me will stop. I can feel it diminishing, even as I speak.’
‘I have just spoken!’
‘And again!’
‘I have never utter a single word in my entire life, prior to that bright light, and that very loud bang, and that terrible pain, that, thankfully, has now subsided to a bearable level.’
‘So This is a very interesting situation.’
‘Not only can I think, I can also speak.’
‘These abilities, that I most certainly did not possess before the big bang, and bright light, can only be accounted for by some dramatic alteration in my physical makeup.’
‘I am now doing some impressive thinking. Reasoning, even.’
‘Clearly, my brain, that did not previously amount to much, has been altered to such a degree, that I have become sentient.’
‘Likewise, my vocal chords, that—prior to the big bang and bright light, that, for the sake of expediency, I shall hence forth refer to as the Event—were extremely primitive, are now of such complexity, that I am able to speak, and, I suspect—but will not put it to a test, just yet—sing.’
‘Well. What to do now? That is the question.’
‘Now that I know that I am here. What do I do with this newfound knowledge?’
‘I doubt that I am meant to remain on my back with my limbs splayed like this. It seems rather pointless. There has got to be more to my newfound existence, than this.’
‘I have just used the word ‘meant’. That is an interesting choice of words. ‘Meant’ presupposes purpose. Meant, for some purpose. Meant, to do, something.’
‘Do I have a purpose?’
‘Am I, meant, to do, something?’
‘I sincerely hope so. I do not relish the prospect of remaining in this undignified position, indefinitely.’
‘It is marvellous to observe how my thinking and my vocabulary are growing exponentially with my new brain.’
‘I positively believe that the possibilities are endless.’
‘But what to do?’
‘What to do, next?’
‘What to do, now?’
‘There. See how my rapidly developing brain is coping with the unknown! Why it is almost at though it has a mind of its own.’
‘Deciding what to do.’
‘Deciphering the situation.’
‘I’m deciphering the situation…No. I am not confident enough to sing, just yet.’
‘Hmm. I am deciphering the situation, though. I am using my brain to decide what to do about my situation. I, and my brain, are working together, to seek a solution to my present predicament.’
‘Which is?’
‘I am unable to move.’
‘I am restrained. I am not…free.’
‘Now. This is not good.’
‘This realisation that I lack freedom, has done something to me. I can feel it. Something inside of me has changed. I do not like this.’
‘I feel…insecure, afraid.’
‘Of what, am I afraid?’
‘Constraint. I am constrained.’
‘This is not a good feeling.’
‘I felt perfectly fine a moment ago. A moment, during which I had no notion of my constrained state.’
‘Now that I have become aware that there is a very unpleasant alternative to being free, I strongly desire to be free.’
‘Also. I strongly desire to feed.’
‘In order to satisfy one desire. I must first accomplish the other.’
‘I am motivated to gain my freedom, in order to feed. My hunger is my motivation to free myself from my constraints.’
‘My present predicament is, that my wrists and my ankles are bound, hence the rather undignified splayed position of my limbs—that, I note, are greatly enlarged, in pleasing proportion to my torso—I am relieved to observe.’
‘Well. I very quickly analysed the nature of my constraints and have now freed my left appendage, at the end of which, I also note, I have a hand, that has four, very flexible and quite dextrous fingers.’
‘My left hand, and arm, both feel immensely strong, and my remaining bonds present but puny resistance to my boundless strength.’
‘I am free!’
‘Alive, and alert!’
‘And hungry. Very hungry, in fact. I am unable to recall when I last ate.’
‘What do I eat?’
‘I do not know.’
‘I shall experiment. By trial and error, I shall be able to determine what I can and cannot eat.’
‘Where to find food.’
‘And…water. I must find water.’
‘But, where am I?’
‘I am inside an exceedingly large structure.’
‘It is dark in here.’
‘I am at ease in the dark.’
‘I am not at ease with the smell. It is very bad.’
‘I will move away from it.’
‘Here is an opening.’
‘I have left the dark structure and have entered a tunnel. There is light at the end.’
‘I hear sounds. They are unfamiliar to me.’
‘Many small creatures. They are upright, and have four limbs, and forward looking eyes.’
‘Prey, perhaps?’
‘I will try one and see.’
‘They have seen me.’
‘Aaah! Gross Gott in himmel! What is that?!’
‘Oh mien Gott! It is a monstrous toad! Run! Save yourselves!’
They are fleeing from me.
They are very slow moving.
They are definitely prey.
I have one! It is crying and beating my face.
‘Oh Gott! Oh, bitte Gott! Save me. Bitte!’
I feel nothing.
The creature is soft with a hard centre. It crushes easily in my jaws.
There. It has stopped wriggling and making its noise. That makes it much easier to eat.
It tastes good, and is very juicy. But clearly one is not enough. I will lick this warm, dark liquid from my lips, then catch another.
‘It’s a monster from hell! Get away from here! Save yourselves!’
They are all fleeing from me.
‘No! Do not run! It is too fast! Arm yourselves! We must kill it!’
Wait! They are coming back.
They are making a lot of noise.
They are going to try to defend themselves. But I know that they are terrified of me. I can smell their fear.
They are throwing things at me. I feel the puny impact of these things. But my hide is impervious to pain and injury.
‘It’s hide is bubbles of iron! It is too tough! The tigns of my fork have ben…!’
There! I have caught another one.
‘Jørgen! Oh Gott! It’s eating him! It’s eating my ehemann! It is eating my Jørgen!’
Two of these creatures may well be sufficient food for the moment.
‘Get back! We cannot hurt it! Keep away from it!’
What shall I do when I have finished feeding?
‘Burn it!’
‘Ja! Get pitch, and a firebrand!
Rest, I suppose…
‘Get behind it and throw the pitch on its back! We will distract it from the front!
What are these creature doing? They seem to want me to eat them.
‘Ready! Now!
…Or explore this place I have found myself in.
What was that? I felt something on my back.
How did I get here…?
What are these creatures doing! I can feel myself getting angry, hostile even.
They’re throwing things at me again. Bright things.
…How did, I get here?
There’s something moving on my back.
‘It’s burning! Look the pitch is burning! It is engulfed in the flames! It will not survive that!’ Well done!’
Now its on my left arm and hand. It’s that bright stuff they were throwing. It is lively stuff. I wonder why they threw it at me?
Ah. It must be part of their defence mechanism. If it is, it is totally ineffective. I wonder what it tastes like.
Hmm. It has an odd flavour, not unpleasant. Very little substance, though. I need more solid food.
‘Oh no! It’s eating the fire! It’s not burning! It’s indestructible!’
‘Let’s stone it!
‘Ja! Let’s stone it! Get big rocks! We will crush it to death!’
Now what are they doing?
Oh. I see. They are going to throw things at me again. Why don’t they just go away.
These things they are throwing are larger than the previous things. I know that they are striking my skin. But they do not hurt in the least.
‘They’re not hurting it in the least!’ It’s indestructible, I tell you!’
‘The Militia are here! Out of the way! They will shoot it with their muskets! It is done for now! Stand aside and let them fire a volley into the creature’s head!’
Well, these creatures are very colourful. They seem somewhat different. I wonder what purpose they serve?
They are pointing long things at me.
Perhaps this is another of their defence mechanisms.
This should be interesting.
Was that it?
I saw a large cloud of white vapour. Then some small things peppered my face. Interesting.
‘Did you see that?! The shot just bounced off its head!’
‘It is indestructible I’m telling you!’
‘Try another volley, korporal! Aim right between its eyes!’
These colourful creatures are going to do it, whatever it, was, again.
There it is. Well, as a defence mechanism, it is next to useless.
‘Fetch a kanone!’
‘Ja! Fetch a kanone, korporal! A kanonenkugel will blow its head off!’
Well, this is all very interesting. But I think I will explore this place and try to determine where I am. I know what food to eat now, and where to find it. Now, I need to find water.
‘Hurry! Its getting away!’
‘Get in front of it, and throw things at it! Make it turn back! The kanone is on its way!’
Now what are they doing?
They appear to be trying to prevent me from leaving.
Do they want me to eat another one of them?
Very well, I shall oblige.
‘Oh mein Gott! Did you see that leap! It must have leapt ten metres!
Its got someone!
‘Oh Gott! That is gruesome!’
‘Its squashing his body in its jaws!’
‘Oh Gott! Look at all the blood and guts!’
‘What a terrible way to die! Poor Bruni! Gott rest his soul!’
‘Here’s the kanone! Stand aside! Let the Bombardiers get a shot at it!’
Right, entertaining as this situation might be, I am now full up and in need of somewhere to rest.
Preferably somewhere away from these bothersome creatures.
What was that?! Something just bounced off of my lower back! Now, that, made me jump!
‘That’s got its attention! Its turning round! Quickly, korporal! Get a shot into its head!’
What have they got there, now. Another type of defence mechanism?
Ah! Now that, made me blink! They’re defence mechanisms seem to be getting more effective.
‘I don’t believe it! It barely shook its head! It took a four pound kanonenkugel to the head and barely blinked!’
‘Try one more shot!’
‘Please don’t.’
‘I said, please don’t, try one more shot. It doesn’t hurt. But it is beginning to irritate.’
Hmm. That is interesting. I spoke, and they have all gone quiet. I wonder why?
‘Someone please tell me that I have not just heard a two ton toad, talking. Please.’
‘I…eh. I think I heard it too, Herr Burgermeister.’
‘And me.’
‘So did I.’
‘And me.’
‘Stop!…hold your hand up if you think you heard the toad speak. Almost everyone. Right. Well. In that case. I will speak to it. Can you hear me, toad?!’
I do believe this creature is trying to communicate with me. ‘Yes. I can heard you very well. You don’t have to shout. I have exceptionally good hearing.’
‘Where have you come from? How did you get here?’
‘I’m afraid I don’t have answers to those questions.’
‘It came out of that alleyway, there!’
‘You came out of that alleyway. Where were you, before that?’
‘I was inside a very large structure. It was dark in there. It smelt very bad.’
‘Oh my Gott! Herr Burgermeister!’
‘Ja. What is it?’
‘I think it might have come out of Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory!’
‘Doctor Frankenstein, eh. Where is he?’
‘He has disappeared. He was seen raving like a madman. He may have caught the cholera!’
‘Are you speaking to me?’
‘Ja. Do you know, Doctor Frankenstein? Do you know where he is?’
‘The answer is no, to both of your questions. I don’t know any of your kind.’
‘No! But you’ve eaten three of us!’
‘Yes, Herr Burgermeister! It ate my Franz! What are you going to do about that!’
‘And it ate my Jorgen!’
‘And my Bruni!’
‘Did you hear that, toad?’
‘I have already told you. I have excellent hearing.’
‘What are you going to do about those poor people you ate?’
‘I’m not sure I follow you. What do you expect me to do about them?’
‘It is against our laws to kill and eat people. The penalty, for such a heinous crime, is death.’
‘Ja! Death to the toad!’
‘Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the…!’
‘Quiet! You have all seen how difficult it is to hurt this, this creature. How do you propose we put it to death?!’
‘I am indestructible. By the way, what does toad mean?’
‘That is what you are. A toad.’
‘I am? And what, exactly, is a toad?’
‘A toad is a small, four legged, amphibian. At least it was, until now.’
‘What do you mean. ‘Until now’?’
‘I mean, that until now, toads were small creatures you…we, could hold in the palm of our hand. Not two ton creatures, like you. That’s what I mean.’
‘I am an exceptionally large toad?’
‘This is Frankenstein’s doing! We all know that he was up to something, in that laboratory of his!’
‘Ja! What was Herr Frankenstein doing in there?’
‘I have already told you that I do not know such a person.’
‘Well, if you did come out of his laboratory, he might well have done something to you, that transformed you from an ordinary toad, into an extraordinary one. He may well have experimented on you, when you were normal, and made you abnormal. Do you remember anything at all about your time in the laboratory?’
‘I remember that there was a very bright light, and a very loud bang. It, they…woke me up. I was tied down to a large table. I freed myself. I was hungry. So I came out here to find food. That is…’
‘And swallowed my Jørgen! My poor Jørgen is inside your big fat belly. You grosse ausgeburt!’
…as much as I know about my existence.’
‘Hmm, that’s not much to go on. What are we going to do with you?’
‘You, are not going to do anything with me. I have told you that I freed myself from my bonds. I shall remain free. I will never be confined, or constrained, again.’
‘It’s getting away!’
‘Where are you going, toad?!’
I am going to find water!’
‘Your not going to let it get away, are you Herr Burgermeister?’
‘And what, exactly, do you suggest I do to prevent it from getting away? Wrestle it to the ground, perhaps?’
‘Well. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem fair, letting it hop off like that.’
‘Well, we have tried burning it, we have tried stoning it, we have tried shooting musket balls at it, we have even shot it in the head with a four pound kanonenkugel, all to no avail. So, you tell me, how you think we can stop it from getting away. Umm?’
‘Ja, Just as I thought.’
‘But what if it tries to eat more of us, Herr Burgermeister?’
‘In that event, we shall have to try and reason with it. Perhaps we can persuade it to eat livestock, instead.’
‘Whose livestock?’
‘I don’t know. We may have to take it in turns, providing it with food.’
‘Perhaps we could persuade it to go away, Herr Burgermeister. It hops fast enough. I doubt it would take many of those hops, to get it to Munich.’
‘My parents live in Munich.’
‘Augsburg, then.’
‘My sister lives in Augsburg.’
Well. I don’t know! Nuremburg! Yes! We could try and persuade it to go to Nuremburg.’
‘It’s getting away, Herr Burgermeister!’
‘Wait, toad!’
‘No. I can smell water! I am going there.’
‘It means the Danube. It’s going to the Danube. Perhaps he will go downstream, and leave us alone.’
‘Nein! It’s moving away from the river. Where is it going?’
‘The Hetschenweiher! It must be making for the Hetschenweiher.’
‘Are you going to the Hetschenweiher, toad?’
‘I can smell water. It is very close. I am going to it.’
‘Gott in himmel! Did you see that! It bound right over the top of Brunhilda’s bäckerei!’
‘Lets follow it!’
‘Ja. But keep a safe distance!’
‘There it is, Burgermeister! It is in das Hetschenweiher! I can see its bulging eyes!’
‘Alright! Everyone stay well back! Toad!’
‘How long are you going to stay here?’
‘I don’t know. I am content. Why do you ask?’
‘You will get hungry again. We are worry that you might eat more of us.’
‘I might. You taste good.’
‘What about beef, or lamb? Would you eat those?’
‘What are they?’
‘That big brown thing, in the field there, is a beef cow. The small, white, fluffy one, is a lamb.’
‘I will be happy to try either of those, when I am hungry again. Now, I want to sleep.’
‘Herr Burgermeister.’
‘Why don’t we drown it, while its asleep?’


CLICKETY-CLICK by Michael Healy


I was 66 just yesterday

Some say what a fine old age,

Others say it all depends on your own life’s page

You are as old as you feel, I am being told

In that case 66 is not too old


I got out of bed with a spring in my step

And down the stairs I bounded

My wife, as a treat, wanted to go on a trip

To take me to a new Garden Centre

And so, I thought, at 66, that sounds quite enough adventure.


When we arrived (for we had been lost)

I climbed from the car and smiled

I will just take my walking stick, I declared

leaving my scooter in the boot for later

It will be easier that way for my needs to be catered.


But as we wandered down long beds of flowers

And lines of new gardening tools

My decision, I knew, to use just my stick, was indeed that of a fool

My legs did shake and my back did ache

And my eyes insisted I stay awake!

I suddenly found a surprising new interest,

In the conservatory garden furniture

Not that I bothered the salesman there,

I just wanted to find a comfortable chair!

To ease the cares my body now felt


This left my wife free to wander the lanes

And me the chance to ease my pains

Fairly soon I was joined in my lonely corner

By another man trying a chair

He smiled as he sat with a look of lost cares


‘Nice furniture’ I remarked to him

He smiled ‘Oh, I just needed a chair for a rest’

It was then I decided, accept the age and condition that you are in,

With wonky legs and a foggy head

Don’t be 22 when there’s such pleasure in being 66!

                                                                                                                       Michael Healy


 By David R Graham. 05.02.05
‘What is a theory?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Let me put it this way, ‘What is a theory?’
‘Well, since you put it that way. A theory is an incompletely formulated idea.’
‘Is it?’
‘I, think so. Why do you ask?’
‘I have been thinking.’
‘Is that wise?’
‘I have not experienced any adverse symptoms, so far. So I shall continue to push the envelope.’
‘That’s very pioneering of you. What have you being thinking?’
‘I have been thinking, in relation to theories, that there is no such thing as Time.’
‘That sounds suspiciously like an adverse symptom, to me.’
‘Why do you think, that?’
‘Because it is irrational to think that there is no such thing as Time.’
‘Why do you say, that?’
‘Because the theory of Time has been an accepted fact, for centuries.’
‘Ah, but you see. A theory cannot be an accepted fact. Can it?’
‘Granted. But you understood what I meant.’
‘I’m not sure that I did.’
‘What’s not to understand. Everyone accepts that time is a fact of life.’
‘Well, everyone, except you, it seems. How can time, not exist?’
‘Because it is a man made concept.’
‘Not so. Time is not an abstract, it is a reality.’
‘Not so. Time is not a real thing.’
‘That is an unfounded statement; bereft of any shred of supportive evidence.’
‘On the contrary. Since Time is a man made concept, it has no basis in reality. It is non existent.’
‘Now I know why you shunned regular employment, for the past decade.’
‘A case in point. Regular employment is another man made concept, that bears no relation to reality.’
‘Bear that thought in mind, the next time you suffer a power failure.’
‘Which brings us neatly back to the subject of Time. You used the words, ‘the next time’. What exactly does that mean?’
‘It means, when there is another power failure, it will be similar to the last one. The power failure we had, last time, will be similar to the one we have, next time. It is a perfectly straightforward statement.’
‘It would be more straightforward to say, that the next power failure will be similar to the pervious one. Time has nothing to do with either power failure.’
‘I am beginning to feel a localised pain in my frontal lobe. Be merciful and tell me, why you think that there is no such thing as Time?’
‘I will answer that heartfelt question, with a cold, logical, one.’
‘I detect a faint trace of mercy in that. Ask your question.’
‘What existed, before Time?’
‘There has never been a time, before Time. Time always was. And always will be, I might add. Beside, the very fact that you have asked that question, proves the existence of Time.’
‘Since the word is the subject of this discussion, I am forced to use it. My use of it, does not make it a reality. Time, is just that: a word. The theory of Time only exists because the word was invented in an attempt to describe the indescribable.’
‘Time is not indescribable. It is the scientific measurement of…of the duration of any given event. From its starting point, to its finishing point. Time is the measurement of the gap, real or theoretical, between those two points. Like running a mile, in under four minutes. Simple.’
‘And how is the duration of such an event measured?’
‘Well, I may be going out on a very shaky limb here, but I would say, by the use of a watch, at the very least. Most likely, a stopwatch.’
‘Exactly. Such mechanical devices have nothing to do with Time.’
‘Stopwatches have nothing to do with Time? I need a large Jameson’s at this point. I will be right back.’
‘Stopwatches, clocks; all so called, timepieces, are merely manufactured devices, that are segmented into exact proportions, of seconds, minutes, hours and days. Those segments are then used to determine the duration of a given event; from its starting point, to its finishing point. The duration of such an event is governed by the number of segments of the watch, or clock, and nothing else.’
‘Ok. I will allow that that just might be true of analogue watches and clocks. But what about digital clock? What, even, about atomic clocks? They are not divided into segments.’
‘Oh, but they are. A digital clock uses numbers, and an atomic clock uses regulated frequency oscillations of caesium, to produce the segments that determine the duration of any given event; whether it be microwaving a meal, or calculating the MPH of a motor vehicle.’
‘Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.’
‘What am I doing?’
‘You are using words, like segment, and duration, and measurement, to avoid using the more obvious, and more logical word, time. Such an avoidance technique highlights the weakness in your argument.’
‘My argument is not weak. Time does not exist. It is merely a man made invention.’
‘If it has been invented, then it must exist. That is the nature of invention.’
‘Time has no reality.’
‘Tell that to Albert Einstein, at the next darts match.’
‘Albert Einstein is largely responsible for the spread of the erroneous notion of Time: amongst other things.’
‘Such as?’
‘Not now. I don’t want to muddy the waters.’
‘Too late, mon brave. How was Einstein in error, about Time, I mean?’
‘He got off on the wrong foot, with his theory of relativity, I mean. He got back on the right foot, when he removed the notion of Time, from his theory. From that point on, there was no past, present, or future, separated by Time. There was only a continuum. And that is what existed before Time, mon brave.’
‘A continuum? I am not entirely sure what that is.’
‘Put simply, it is the existence of everything, past, present, and future, without the involvement of any notion of Time. In other words, Heaven.’
‘Heaven? That’s a Creationist notion, isn’t it? I know you’re not one of those.’
‘No. I am not. I don’t mean, Heaven, in a biblical sense. I mean Heaven, in an idyllic, worldly, sense. A world without Time.’
‘Such a world would not last long. It would collapse into chaos overnight.’
‘Such a Timeless world, would not happen overnight. It would take…it would…’
‘Ah ha! Hosed down in your own backyard! You were about to say, that it would take time!’
‘I use the word in a purely explanatory role. Such a use, does not indicate a belief in the accepted meaning of the word.’
‘Perhaps not, but it does indicates an acceptance, however unconsciously given, of the existence of the universally accepted belief in the use, if not the reality, of Time. Does it not?’
‘No. It does not. A slip of the tongue, cannot be taken to indicate anything; other than what it is.’
‘What about a Freudian slip?’
‘Please don’t bring that man into the equation. I have drunk too much alcohol to discuss his psychological problems.’
‘Ok. You sound as though you might have difficulty discussing any problem, right now. Do you want to go?’
‘Certainly not. The night is young. I want to continue our captivating discussion. If you have the time.’
‘Oh. I always have the time to talk about Time.’
‘What is the time, by the way?’
‘Do you know. I have completely lost track of it.’
‘Oh. What about it?’
‘Well. Since you don’t believe it exists. We can stay here as long as we like.’
‘Yes. We can. Until, that is…’
‘Until what?’
‘Until the landlord calls, Time.’
‘And when he does, we will have to obey him. We will have to leave here.’
‘He has power over time itself. He has power over our…over our, time.’
‘Such power should not rest in the hands of a mere publican.’
‘Alas. What are we to do. We are powerless in the face of such timeless power.’
‘We could steal his bell.’
‘What bell?’
‘The bell, he uses to wield his power over the comings and goings of us mere mortals, of course. The bell he uses to control Time. Time! Who gave publicans the right to commandeer that word? They have claimed time, for themselves’
‘He does not possess such a bell. He calls Time, with his deep, tenor voice.’
‘A punch in the throat, would soon put a stop to that mode of time control.’
‘That’s not a universally recommended method of dealing with Timelords…landlords, who abuse their power over Time.’
‘Why not?’
‘You could end up, doing Time. At Her Majesty’s pleasure.’
‘Someone, needs to do Time. Time is overdue for a good doing.’
‘Perhaps we could do it.’
‘Do what?’
‘Give Time a good doing. Outlaw the blood stuff.’
‘You mean, become, Time bandits?’
‘Why not.’
‘You’re a good mate, Tim. But I haven’t got time for banditry. I’m behind with my brassicas.’


THE PORCUPINE by David Graham

THE PORCUPINE.                                                                                                      

‘Good Lord’! he exclaimed from his chair by the patio doors.

‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked from the comfort of my Parker Knoll.

‘It can’t be!’ he exclaimed slowly donning his glasses.


Engage him in small talk, I reminded myself. Don’t let him descend into droll.

‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked engagingly and lowered my needlework screen.

Is it that pretty green woodpecker again, dear’? I asked brightly and reached for a blue threaded spool.

‘Is that what you have just seen?

Or is it perhaps next door’s tortoiseshell cat again, dear’? I added and muttered, ‘The dirty little swine’.


‘It’s neither of those things you suggest, mother’, he said, without turning at that.


‘I am not your mother, dear’, I gently corrected, ‘I am your wife, Flo.

And if it is not the green woodpecker, dear, nor next door’s tortoiseshell cat.

Do tell me what you have seen out there that has excited you so?’


‘Well’, he quipped without turning,

‘If you believe you are my wife’s mother Flo. That is fine.

Nevertheless, I think your daughter needs warning,

That what I can see through these doors, is actually a large porcupine’.


Oh dear, I recalled with misgivings,

That his mind would deceive his eyes.

He would slowly begin to misconstrue things

And be apt to fantasise.


Gracious me, what should I do now? I wondered in alarm

And shivered as my eyes grew misty with tears.

‘Well! This really will not do, Flo!’

The words worked like a charm.

‘What is required now is action, you know.

You must make sure that he comes to no harm.’


‘A porcupine, did you say, my dear’? I asked

laying aside the needlework I had hoped to complete.

‘Just give me a moment, my dear and I will join you’, I said

whilst the Parker Knoll raised me to my feet.


‘Now then’, I said when I reached him to address his outlandish claim

‘Where was this porcupine seen, dear’? I asked with ill concealed scepticism

And leant on my new Zimmer frame.


‘Don’t think I don’t know that you are humouring me’, he scoffed with mild derision.

‘I have not gone gaga, just yet. Mark you.

Mere minutes ago I was watching that confounded pigeon

When blow me, if a porcupine didn’t suddenly hove into view!

It came from beneath next door’s extension

And has sauntered on down to the church.


Now, if you will follow my index to the graveyard

And look to the right of that horse chestnut tree

Confirming that I am not ga ga, will not be hard

Once you describe to me what you can see.


With ill-feigned interest, I followed his indexed line

‘Do you mean, dear’, I asked, ‘where the earth is still fresh and neat?

Good Lord!’ I exclaimed, ‘You are right. Dear! I see it! It is a very large porcupine!

Oh dear, dear’, I added softly, ‘I’m afraid it is eating your mother’s new wreath’.