The Quiet Fight and Flight of Florence Morgan


When Florence’s baby was born dead, she found she couldn’t cry. Not at first. She had known for some time that it was dead. She voiced her concern to Doctor Foster just the week before, calling him to the house to listen to her still, silent belly.

“Nonsense, Mrs Morgan. I have never seen a young mother as healthy as you,” he declared.

He would hear no more of it and didn’t even bother to open his Gladstone bag or write anything down. Before he left her house, she heard him talking to George in his study about how women flapped too much at the slightest thing. George apologised for his wasted time.

The baby’s face was squashed and swollen and covered in scratches made by tiny fingernails. It would have been a girl. She would have been a girl. Florence named her Lucy out loud, but in her head she called her Little Lost Lucy. She was tiny and beautiful to her mother, and Florence held her cold, grey body and sang lullabies under her breath until the hospital nurse decided to separate them. One to the morgue, one to the ward. Florence wanted to go to the morgue too. So much. She clung to Little Lost Lucy with the last shred of her strength and determination, and the nurse had to fetch two more nurses to help her.

When her arms gave up her baby, Florence let out a noise like a wounded animal. The noise left the room, travelled down the corridor, and reached into every ward. All eighty-seven patients shifted in their beds, even the very sick ones. All of them knew that a mother had lost a child. It was that kind of noise.

Florence was wheeled into a ward where six new mothers sat cooing over their living babies. She was expected to recover from her grief surrounded by the happiness of others. The mothers did not speak to her because they didn’t know what to say. Nor did Florence speak to them, but that was because she couldn’t speak. She was afraid that, if she opened her mouth, the noise would come out again. It was waiting there, somewhere deep down in the darkness, like a patchwork dam holding back a lakeful of tears.

Doctor Foster visited. He patted her hand and ignored the glare she fixed on him. Muttered something about weak hearts. Florence closed her eyes tight shut and when she opened them again he was gone.

George visited. He said ‘There, there. Never mind’, and Florence wanted to wrap her hands around his neck and squeeze extremely hard. But, of course, she didn’t. In George’s humble opinion, there would be others. Florence was not quite twenty. George was not quite thirty. Plenty of time.

Florence dared to open her mouth at last. “I don’t want others. I wanted Lucy.”

Little Lost Lucy, her heart whispered.

“Lucy? What kind of name is that?” George said. “Not that it matters.”

Not that it matters.

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INSPIRATION: The Walls Have Ears (and Eyes)

(From a work in progress – ‘Appleheart’)

There is a saying: “The walls have ears.” It means that you should be careful of discussing secrets too loudly because you never know who is listening. I used to think it started in World War Two because of all the secret spies in dark, belted raincoats. But no… as early as 400BC in Ancient Greece they had listening posts installed in their palaces to eavesdrop on gossiping visitors.

But, sayings aside, walls really do have ears. And they have eyes too. The first time I learnt this I was five years old and at my grandma’s house. I was in trouble for stealing a biscuit from the cupboard without asking, and my punishment was to stand in the corner of the hallway facing the wall. That sounds strange, but Grandma was a retired Geography teacher and missed her job with all her heart. She would talk to my brother and I as if she was taking a class, and liked to test us on capital cities and river names.

Standing in the corner of my grandma’s hallway in my disgrace, the stolen shortbread still melting on my tongue, I placed my hands on the walls, closed my eyes and saw Grandad.

He stole in quietly from the garden in his gardening slacks, mud on the knees, holding a small bottle of golden liquid. Peering around like a burglar, he lifted the bottle, took a swig, and opened the hall cupboard. With supreme care the lid was screwed back on, the bottle lifted high and placed behind a tin of paint on the top shelf. Then he tiptoed back outside and came in again, this time full of noise. Stomping feet, sighing, swishing hands together. ‘Hey, Joan, put the kettle on, will you?”

When my grandma released me from the corner and I told her what I’d seen, her face drained of colour. She marched over to the hall cupboard, moved the tin of paint to one side and brought forth the half-empty bottle of golden liquid with a shaking hand. She surprised me with the force of the sobs that bent her in half.

When I saw Grandad that day, he had already been dead for two years from liver failure, and she continued to find hidden whisky all over the house for a long time to come, each bottle a painful slap in the face.


For more on ‘Appleheart’, which takes place in a haunted Art College :

APPLEHEART First Day Nerves

APPLEHEART Upside-Down

Thank you for reading!

Flambards by K.M Peyton

Everyone has that book, or series of books, that defines their childhood and influences their future lives in some way. This is mine. What’s yours, and why?

When I first discovered ‘Flambards’ by K.M Peyton, I devoured the whole series, and returned to them again and again. They had everything; a strong heroine who was so real to me she was like a best friend, a hero who had his weaknesses but it still gives me pangs when I think of his sad fate, and a First World War setting – not on the front line, but on the home front – which pits the rise of automobiles and airplanes against the decline of horses and cavalry, and delves into women’s rights and the crumbling of social divisions. Cleverly, the house – ‘Flambards’ – is a mirror that reflects this era of change in Britain. Its fate is directly affected by all that is going on around it, and yet it is also a symbol for everything the heroine is experiencing. She is tied to it. It becomes her heart.

Flambards taught me, like no other books I read in my childhood, that Continue reading

Mine, All Mine (…for the day)

It’s happened again! Our local second-hand bookshop owner has gone away and left me in charge for the day. Now I just have to try not to spend all my wages on the books! That bookshop owner knows what he’s doing hiring me 😀

You Owe Yorkshire Your Allegiance – Free Books for Yorkshire Day!

Happy Yorkshire Day! As a Yorkshire lass, this needs a reblog. Graham writes funny apocalyptic scenarios set in the staid village of Nether Staining in God’s own country 😉

Nether-Staining

It’s Yorkshire Day on 1st August and you owe Yorkshire your allegiance on this day…

To celebrate such an auspicious occasion, both “Baabaric” and “Stoned” are FREE for a limited time in their e-book format!  FREE UNTIL 3RD AUGUST SO STRIKE NOW!

So please do give them a try and support new authors…just click on the above book title links to take you to all of the Amazon store links you could want! All you need is a Kindle or Kindle app!

I give you my thanks. Please review them after reading.

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Or Maybe Not…

It looks like someone may have been telling porkie-pies!

Well, remember yesterday, when I wrote about the exciting news of a Bristol academic cracking the code to the Oddest Book in the Worldthe Voynich Manuscript – and it only taking him a couple of weeks where many others have failed… including Alan Turing…

Now it turns out that Bristol University have backed away from the claims at a hundred miles an hour after hearing the doubts of another scholar who tried the same method years ago. It didn’t work.

So, sorry for the false alarm, but we’re not going to be reading a translated version of this mysterious book any time soon. I just hope that, when someone actually cracks it for real, it turns out to be worth all the time and effort and not just an extended shopping list.

Eggs, milk, baked beans, toothpaste…

Those Precious Good Reviews

Writers crave good reviews even more than they crave a big slab of chocolate cake or a really fantastic pen. They make everything worthwhile, even if you were only really writing for yourself. It’s so good to receive validation that you’re not wasting your time. Although no writing time is truly wasted if you love it, or even if you took the wrong path in your writing and stumbled too far along it. (See Writing and Cucumbers for more on that kind of thing!)

This is the first written review I ever received for my first book (well-second book really, but we’ll forget the first one), published in the local paper by lovely journalist Hilarie Stelfox. All thanks to my mum, who shouted about my book from the rooftops and remains my biggest champion. Thanks Mum! xxx


A Tatty Book is a Lovely Thing

I admit it, I’m a page-corner turner-overer*. I know this crime is almost equivalent to murder in the eyes of dedicated bookmark users, but I have my reasons.

Books are such tactile things; they feel good in your hands and all those wonderful words you are holding up have a pleasing weight. I like my books to feel like they are being read. The books I read over and over again know they are loved because the edges of their pages don’t lie flat, and the spines are flexible and crooked with affection. There might be the ring of a tea-mug stain on the cover. Or a red circle from a wine glass. The crevices might be crackly with sand where I’ve read on the beach, or the pages warped with water where I’ve read in the bath.

My favourite books have a physical personality all of their own and bear the scars of my love. (The one shown above is my copy of ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman.)

Which was why I felt truly happy to find Continue reading

Building up a History for ‘Foxfires’

When I’m writing a larger piece of work, one of the fun parts is the conjuring of odd snippets to add to the history or background of the story. Sometimes these snippets end up in the book (like the chapter headings in The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook and the petitions in Blackwood), and sometimes they initiate a complete change of direction.

This snippet will be part of the book ‘Foxfires’. The protagonist, trapped in a snowbound farmhouse with strangers, will come across the thin volume of curious tales with this particular page corner turned down. He is already in fear of his life, so this’ll really make him freak out. Hee hee! (Sorry Jack!)

‘Curious Tales from Travels in Yorkshire’ by M.Nesbitt

Chapter 8: A Disturbance at an Inn on the Edge of the Moors

“In the autumn of 1905, the author was passing through a village on the edge of Saddleworth Moor when he decided to rest and take refreshment at a small inn. At first glance, the inn seemed peaceful and emanated a warm glow from a lit fireplace but, upon entering, I was alarmed to find several weeping women and angry men. A number of the gentlemen were arming themselves as if for battle, though the distressed ladies pleaded with them to reconsider. They made no allowance for a stranger in their midst and continued with their heated discussion.

I asked the innkeeper if I could partake of a brandy as the weather was inclement, and it appeared winter was arriving before its time. He poured me my drink with one ear on the growing dispute behind me. I wondered out loud what was happening and he shook his head with a grimace and told me that Mr Hawkins, a young farmer, had not returned from tending his sheep in the hills. His sheepdog, Bess, came home without him and in a dreadful state, covered nose to tail in mud and bleeding from numerous lacerations. Clearly agitated, she set off again after just a few hours rest, presumably to find her master, and she had not come back. Continue reading

The Oddest Book in the World

Written by a philosopher, a mystic, a coven of witches, or a muddle of martians? We may never know…

Carbon-dated to 1420, this enigmatic 240 page creation seems to document a forgotten culture in an unrecognisable language with dream-like illustrations. Some of the world’s most prominent cryptologists have tried—and failed—to decode the text.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, the whole thing is available online.

Take a look at this short film about why the Voynich Manuscript is truly a really Odd Bit of Writing!
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