A Sheepish Story


The historical/fantasy novel I have been working on these past weeks is proving problematic and I have put it on one side for the moment to mull over. Instead I’ve turned to a second book that is also a work in progress.

It’s a collection of tales about an idiot who thought she would abandon a comfortable home, all mod cons and a generous monthly salary to go and live off the land in the Yorkshire Dales.

Here’s a snippet from the first chapter of the draft.


The ram’s long bluish-tinged ears waggled furiously as I chastised him.

Right you blue-faced beggar, I’ll cap you. I’m sick of your roaming. If these ladies aren’t good enough for you, you can go back where you came from.’

All week I had chased this beast back and forth; out of my neighbour’s fields and back into my own. The problem was that the great numb creature just did not fancy my ‘old ladies’, thirty curly-horned Swaledale ewes. No, this mating season he had taken a fancy to my neighbour’s, admittedly younger and more stylish, sheep. Today was the fifth and definitely the final time that I was going to fetch him away from forbidden fruit. I grabbed the dog collar that I had put around his thick neck.

Ungrateful brute’ I chuntered, ‘you’ve plenty of grub, plenty of talent, but is it enough?’ I paused, rummaging through my pockets for a length of baler band. ‘Oh no, you’re never satisfied.’ The ram snorted as I fastened the baler band to the collar. He shifted uneasily; to be led from the only source of nookie for a twelve-month, it was too much for him to bear. He threw back his great head and propelled himself down the fields at the double.


Somehow, the length of baler band wrapped itself tightly around my left Wellington boot and as the ram took the piece of band to its full length, it tautened and upended me, all 140 lbs of too, too solid flesh. I crashed on my back, cracking my head and sending my specs flying whilst a whole galaxy of blue and yellow stars shot across my orbit.

The villain of the piece, now thoroughly frightened by the weight he was towing some ten feet behind him, bolted down the field, heading for the wall at the bottom. It was a frosty morning with the ground iron-hard. I wriggled like a fish on a long-line trying to free myself. I squealed as the skin on my back and arms scraped off. The brute reached the lower boundary wall and took it like a Grand National winner at which point my left wellington boot detached itself from my foot and I was left a gibbering, sobbing wreck in the wall bottom. The miscreant, continued his gallop with a flying green wellie bouncing behind him.

It took me some time to collect the remnants of my wits together and even longer to scour the fields groping for my specs, without which I am the proverbially blind bat. I limped home. In the bathroom I inspected the damage. It was both colourful and painful. Maggot-white face; back, arms, legs, shoulders a raw red and every shade of purple and blue in between. I left Frankenstein’s monster an also-ran in a beauty contest that morning.

What am I doing here?’ I whimpered, ribs aching with every breath and sigh.

Good question.


What happened next? That’s another good question and one that will have to wait until spring when the book is published.

Have a great week and watch out for flying wellies.




Alter Egos – Doncha just love ’em?

After a Stakhanovist long weekend putting the garden in order this bag of bones that claims to be a body finally gave out on me and I spent the evening slumped, like a misshapen jelly, on the sofa. It’s at times like these, unguarded moments, when my alter egos rise up and take over. Last night it was RSS (rational sensible self) and flaky, pie-in-the-sky, it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night self – FLIP for short.

As usual RSS started it.

“It’s your own fault; you had your chances; you were good at your job you could’ve had a great career and the fat inflation-linked pension that went with it.”

FLIP groans. “Here we go, same old, same old.”

RSS continues to harangue. “But no, you just had to blow it. Chuck it all away to write and follow your crackpot self-sufficiency ideas. I mean who, in their right mind that is, would go to live 1000 feet up a barren hillside in an old stone quarry with not an inch of cultivable land in sight? And then,” RSS is getting worked up now “and then,” she squeaks, “import and pay for tons of top soil to be brought in just to grow your own carrots.”

“Actually” FLIP replies haughtily, “I grew all our own veg; most of our fruit as well as eggs, lamb, pork and beef for the freezer. And you stuffed you face with all of it and never complained. It was not my fault that the world wasn’t ready for organic food and preferred a supermarket lettuce that tasted like wet flannel.”

“Yes but you never had any money; never saved anything. Never put anything aside for your old age and infirmity. You always said it’d come right somehow. But look at you now, dining on nicked rhubarb and custard.”

“It wasn’t nicked. I liberated it from the nettles and brambles next door. The house is empty and it was going to waste. Besides I like rhubarb and custard.”

RSS heaves a sigh. “Irrelevant. The point is you’re at it again.”

“At what?”

“Pipe dreams. You’ve bought this cottage to renovate just because you always wanted to. Now you’re scrabbling up and down ladders splashing paint all over yourself and, knowing you, it’ll never be finished and Heaven only knows if you’ll ever pay off the mortagage. Now you want to buy a place in France and write full time. How’s that going to pay for your old age?

“It’s not. That’s what the day job’s for. The point is that instead of actually living the adventures I dream about which admittedly sometimes have cost a great deal, I write about them instead. It’s a whole lot safer and costs a lot less. I can roam worlds, in any guise or persona, having all the adventures…

“and romance” pipes up Little Romantic Self “don’t forget the romance. You seem to have forgotten about it these days.”

“…OK and having all the adventures and romance I want” FLIP continues. “Don’t you get it? That’s the beauty of writing. The buzz of creating. The fulfillment of…”

“I get it, I get it.” RSS is getting tired and testy. “But you’re still the grasshopper and it’ll never come right. You’ve left it too late.”

“And you’re still the ant and a boring old fart to boot. I mean look at you in those silly fluffy slippers, hugging your mug of cocoa as though your life depends on it.”

“I am not.”

“You are so.”

Finally I step in to shut up my alter egos.

“Enough already” – I shout. “I’m trying to get to sleep.”