The first time Rik did it it was for a dare. His mates had fed him a bottle of White Lighting followed by a good third of the pinkest Watermelon 20/20, so Rik was fully prepared to take on the deed.

The brick had been one discarded by a former building left for too many years to decompose, aided by the odd storm and occasional vandal. It wavered on the edge of the once wall. It was dirty orange with patches of black. Rik didn’t consider where the black had come from. Neither did his teeth as they bit into the sharp clayey edge. His mates laughed, expecting a spluttering of broken mouth appendages, possibly followed by a trip to A&E. But that didn’t happen. They expected a lot of blood, mixed with some gum and bits of yesterday’s dinner. But that didn’t happen. They expected painful cries of why the fuck did I do that, even with a blood alcohol level of numbness. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Rik crunched his way through the unuseful construction material with relative ease, and even a bit of enjoyment. He took another one home for later. A post drinking session snack.

Since then Rik had found it difficult to give up his brick addiction. Building merchants began their regular fortnightly delivery of fresh bricks, wondering how such small batches were being made into nothing at all. Different bricks gave off different flavours. A plethora of tastes and textures. Rik became quite the expert.

As he sat in the green room of the prime time 30 plus market segment chat show, plate of complimentary pebbles next to the other guests’ boring sandwiches, Rik considered his new found fame. You never know what you’re good at unless you have a go, and sometimes going on the piss with your mates is just the place to begin.




Eight pints later, the only thing he wanted was food. On his walk home he’d hazily remembered the block of mature cheddar sitting in the fridge and the last of the bread in the cupboard. Cheese on toast. Like a beer sponge, it would soak everything up nicely.

After fumbling with the wrong key for ten minutes, tripping over the same doorstep he’d tripped through for the past five years, he made straight for the kitchen, to the fridge, and wrestled the door open. The bright light glared. His gloopy eyes took a while to adjust. He searched with them. Both of them. He searched some more. His brain told him that even though it wasn’t functioning at full capacity it still couldn’t see the cheese it had been promised.

In front of fridges across the land people sat staring, looking, eager to satiate the late night craving with the reliable foodstuff of decades before. But they all agreed, it wasn’t there. No cheese. Continue reading “Cheesemass”

Garrison Hodge

Garrison Hodge

Garrison Hodge

Garrison Hodge sat in the doctor’s waiting room wearing his best suit – a used teabag colour with various historic holes and stains – and a nicotine coloured shirt, mostly tucked in, with an unnoticed tomato sauce spot accompanying the second button down. This was okay though, because he was wearing a matching tie, which would have covered the tomato blob up, had it been straight, and had the last three buttons of his shirt not been left undone so that the bulging neck of Garrison Hodge could expand fully. The amalgamating neck-a-chin, thick with unbothered stubble of differing lengths, met his huge wobbly mouth within which sat remnants of last weeks’ meals. This was overseen by a substantial nose and bulging eyes with lids eager to get that bit closer to the sagging under-face, consistent in its gravitational pull. His rhythmic heavy breathing and unusual odour had detracted a small child’s attention away from the sticky wooden train he was once so enamoured with. The child’s curious concentration abruptly snapped into a wailing cry, and his mother lifted him to her comfortable jumper.

Continue reading “Garrison Hodge”

52 stories

I heard Ray Bradbury used to aim to write a story a week. He’d ponder an idea over the weekend with a view to writing an outline on Monday. He’d allow himself a couple of days to flesh out that outline, and then by Friday expected a finished product of around three to four thousand words. Great if you’ve got nothing else to do with your time. And I’m certainly no Ray Bradbury. So with the limited time I do have to write I’m starting my first ever writing challenge: to write 52 stories, one a week, during 2017, (preferably with some kind of illustration to go with it)



The Snocker Elf

The Snocker is an elf that lives within the snooker table. He is especially active during major tournaments, and comes out at night to sweep the baize and collect dropped chalk. Although classed as an elf, The Snocker has a bit of the fairy mischief within him for he likes to play tricks on players, especially at crucial times in matches. He is responsible for kicks, which he does by prodding the baize from underneath with his broom handle. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of The Snocker in a pocket as he blows very hard so balls that should be certain just miss. When a ball seems to roll round the edge of a pocket or wipe its feet, you can be sure that is The Snocker Elf at work.

The Snocker Elf

If he’s hungry, The Snocker will guide balls into pockets with no warning. He considers the white one the tastiest. He likes nothing more than the sound of applause rippling through the crowd, but gets very angry when people shout out at inappropriate moments and will carry out his vengeance upon the flow of the table.

The Snocker Elf at work

An offering when a player has nearly worn down his chalk is much appreciated by The Snocker. Leave it under the table by one of the corner legs to ensure the tournament has a happy ending.

1000 Snowflakes

Every night he'd ask his mum if it would snow this winter. His mum always said it depends if the snowflake fairy pays us a visit. But Harry had to be good for the snowflake fairy to visit. So Harry tried very hard to be good. He helped carry his mum's shopping home, he visited nan once a week and gave her a big hug and kiss before he left, he helped his dad sheer the sheep till they were naked of wool. He worked hard. Harry believed.

The nights grew darker and the townsfolk covered themselves in woolly clothes to keep out the chill. But still the snowflakes wouldn't fall. Harry was trying to be good every day. Sometimes he'd try twice as hard. He even shared his sweets with his sister in the hope that the snowflake fairy was watching, somewhere.


Harry's mum had just tucked her boy into bed. She was worried. For once she was wishing the snow would come to the town, just to reward her hopeful boy who'd tried so hard on behalf of the lucid snowflake fairy. She thought, and wondered, and imagined and dreamed.


A few weeks later it was Harry's seventh birthday. He climbed trees and made a den in the woods with his friends. When he got home there was a party with streamers and silly hats, and a cake with seven candles. When he blew out the candles he made a wish. He wished it three times just to make sure the snowflake fairy could hear. That night, after he'd checked through the curtains one last time, his mum tucked him safe and sound into his warm bed. His mum told him that night his dreams would be special.

On their way to the shops the next morning Harry wondered why his dad was with them. He never came shopping when he had the sheep to tend. The town was busy too. But everyone was heading in the same direction, towards Wellgate in the centre of town, and, Harry realised, so were they. His mum didn't answer him when he asked, she just smiled a watery smile.

Harry, his sister, and his mum and dad rounded the corner to Wellgate into a throng of people clogging up the small entrance. When they turned and saw Harry they parted like a drift of snow, all the way to the end where the town well had always stood. Harry's eyes widened at the sight. The well, lacy white, was patterned with snowflakes. 1000 snowflakes. As he got closer he could see they were made of wool. All eyes of the children of Ossett town gaped wondrously at the grand sight before them. The townspeople smiled as Harry gazed at the well, his eyes studying each carefully crafted snowflake, each one made by those watching him, each filled with the joy of a child. Harry's mum gave him the biggest hug he'd ever had and told him how the people of Ossett wanted him and all the children to have their own snowflakes, just for them.



In bed that night Harry smiled into his pillow wrapped in the dreamy day he'd just had. He didn't think of the snowflake fairy. He thought of his mum and his dad and all the nice people he'd met that day who'd made him and his friends such a special present.


The moon shone in the dark swirls of the night and cast a bright beam upon the well in Ossett town. The woollen snowflakes danced, but there was no breeze. From deep in the well something shivered. A flurry of wind carrying shimmering silver dust flowed from the well's opening. Jack Frost rose up into the white woollen flakes made by the people of Ossett. Up he rose, into the eaves, calling to the night, calling to the snowflake fairy.




Harry woke the next morning with his mum's excited voice telling him to look outside. He pulled open his curtains to the scattering of soft white flakes of snow that lay as far as he could see. He shut his eyes and thanked the snowflake fairy for listening to all the people of Ossett. Then he ran downstairs to find his bobble hat and red wellies.






The Naked Sheep of Ossett Town

This is a myth I wrote for the wonderful Flock to Ossett event on 30th June 2012. It was adapted and performed by the Yew Tree Theatre company as well as retold by the very talented story teller Susanna Meese from Telling Tales.


A merchant was approaching the end of his long journey from Leeds to his home in Ossett having sold his cloth for a little over cost price. As he neared the Dale Street Well he spotted a sheep layingat the side of the road. The merchant climbed from his cart and found the sheep completely naked of wool. The sheep was cold and seemed unwell. The merchant took pity on the creature and carefully placed it on his cart and took it to his home with him. He placed the sheep near the fire and brought it some fresh water. The sheep could hardly lift its head to drink and was shaking with exposed chill. The merchant looked for materials with which he could fashion a crude bed and blanket, but being so poor from having had such little gains from the cloth trade the merchant only had one blanket in his whole home. He fretted that the sheep would not make it through the night if he did not provide cover, and so he went into the town and knocked on the doors of the spinsters and weavers, telling them of the naked sheep and asking for any blankets or scraps of cloth they could give to keep the animalwarm through the night. The wool makers of Ossett Town, also penurious due to the low sale price of their cloth, had very little they could offer the merchant, but each being of a generous and kind naturetore a scrap from their own blankets and gave it humbly. The merchant took the scraps and rags and feared they would be useless. Nevertheless, he covered the naked sheep as it slept by the fire, hoping it would be well again come morning. Satisfied the sheep was comfortable, the merchant retired to his bed. He lay there, worrying that he would not be able to sustain his cloth business with the cost of wool becoming so high and pricing him out of the market. He worried for the spinsters and weaverswho relied on him to provide the wool that they spun and weaved which he sold at Leeds market. How would they survive? After a restless few hours the merchant finally fell to sleep. Within his dreams St Blaise appeared. St Blaise held what seemed like a scrap of blanket in one hand, much like the ones given by the spinsters and weavers that very evening, and a fine piece of drapery in the other.It was cloth like he’d never seen before. The merchant sensed a calming hope in the presence of thepatron saint of wool makers and slept soundly until morning.




The next morning, when the merchant awoke and went to check on the poor naked sheep he found the scraps given by the wool makers had all disappeared and the sheep had grown a full new coat of wool, luxuriant and bright. Within the wool he could see fibres of different colours, and he could tell they were the scraps given as alms which had somehow coalesced with the sheep’s own wool to make a full fleece like never seen before. Astonished, the merchant embraced the sheep and fed it some leafy alfalfa and laid down fresh water. The merchant was in awe of this new material and wondered what use he could make of it. He washed the sheep and carefully sheared it. Then he took the fleece to the spinsters and weavers, who could hardly believe their ears as the merchant recounted his tail of finding the naked sheep that very morning with a full new coat that incorporated the scraps of blankets they had donated just the night before. The weavers were keen to see if this new material could be woven, and the spinsters set about spinning it into yarn. When they saw the golden lustre of the wool mixed with their old rags and then felt it between their fingers as they span it and sent it through their looms they knew this was no ordinary cloth they had crafted. The merchant gathered the sturdy cloth and took it to market in Leeds where a tailor from far away lands spotted it and offered 7s. Having borne no cost to himself, the delighted merchant accepted the amount, and returned to Ossett where he distributed the profit evenly between himself and the spinsters and weavers. Delighted with this turnaround in their fortunes the wool makers brought their old flannels and hosiery to cover the naked sheep that night. The merchant fed and watered the sheep and left it that evening beside the fire, comfortable and fast asleep.


The next morning, much to the merchant’s disbelief, the sheep had once again grown a fine covering of wool. He sheered the animal and took the fleece to the spinsters and weavers who, in grateful astonishment, spun and weaved the wool into robust cloth and the merchant once more took it to market in Leeds and sold it for a goodly sum. That evening, intrigued by the happenings reported to him, the local tailor arrived at the merchant’s home with a bundle of off cuts and scraps of old clothes from his business, which he would usually donate to the local manure heap. The merchant thanked the tailor and placed the felted scraps on the sheep. Ossett Town slept a restful sleep that night, and the next morning the sheep had once again produced a full new coat. This time it felt of a finer quality, smoother and softer. As he had done the previous mornings, the merchant took the fleece to the spinsters and weavers who marvelled at this hardy pelage. They produced a cloth that seemed less course than before and the merchant took it to Leeds market. This time there were two drapers who started to outbid each other for the fine looking cloth. The merchant was aghast as the bid increased from 8s to 10s, then to 12s. Finally a draper to the Lords of the southern cities won the bid for a healthy sum of 15s. The merchant returned to Ossett to share the profit from the cloth with the spinsters and weavers.


That night, and every night, the wool makers of Ossett Town would bring their scraps and rags to cover the naked sheep. The same events occurred the following morning, and the next, and the next. Each day the merchant would return from market and share the profits with his fellow craftsmen. Astounded by the Ossett man’s fortunes his fellow wool traders pestered for the merchant’s secret. What was this wool and how was it made? The merchant did not tell the tail of the naked sheep, but instead offered to sell them the much lower cost flock from which the cloth was made so they too could produce a fabric of quality that would aid their floundering fortunes. A fair sum was agreed. The merchant returned to the wool makers of Ossett and told them of the deal he had struck with his fellow wool traders. The wool makers set about sorting through rags and old cloths and collecting off cuts and old felted clothing from the tailor and visiting bailor. They combined the cloth rags with half of their virgin wool from their sheep flocks and the felted rags with the other half to make shoddy and mungo, and the merchant sold this along with the cloth produced from the naked sheep’s daily yield at Leeds market, returning to Ossett each day to share the profits.


Ossett Town became well known for its wool making reputation and all its residents prospered from it. The spinsters and weavers would bring offerings for the sheep, coverings to keep it warm, food and water, all manner of hand crafted wares, and each day the sheep would produce a fine thick coat of shoddy and mungo for them. This continued every day until the naked sheep’s death a year later. The merchant and the craftsmen buried the sheep near the old pinfold and made coverings from recycled rags and cloth mixed with wool, just as the sheep had shown them, to keep it warm in its shrine. For generations the wool makers of Ossett Town would return every year to the shrine with gifts in remembrance and lay a new covering made in just the same way as a mark of gratitude to the naked sheep for making Ossett a reputable and prosperous town, which it still is today.