Monthly Archives: April 2013

When It’s Quiet

Eric the dog was restless tonight. We spent the evening at Little Sis’s and he cavorted all over the place with the other dogs Ernie and Floyd – well Ernie anyway, Floyd isn’t much of a cavorter – but when I got him home, instead of settling down for a snooze, he paced, played and pranced. Finally I asked him if he wanted to go out. From his reaction I guessed that he did.

My back garden has no fence at the end. I can walk up some steps and out into a field where a barn owl glides low over the tussocky grass and pheasants keep a wary eye on the neighbour’s cats. As his homing instinct is unreliable, Eric must be tethered. I made him a nice long lead with my best sailor knots but my garden is small and full of obstacles so I have to hang around and untangle Eric at regular intervals. Tonight, I thought he’d pee and ask to come in again but, no, he went up the steps into the field and stood stock still. Hovering in the pool of light by the back door, I watched him. What could he smell? What could he hear out there in the undergrowth? I held my breath and listened. The air felt fresh after yesterday’s rain and it was warm enough for me to go outside barefoot in t-shirt and jeans. There was no breeze but I did pick up the rustling of small mammals scuttling through the grass. A couple of fields over a sheep bleated and another member of the flock replied.

Eric turned. He came back down into the garden and followed his nose sniffing in all the corners. He spent a while staring through the fence into next door’s garden (hoping for some entertainment from their cats, I imagine) then went back up to the field. I watched. For twenty minutes or so I sniffed the air – just like Eric. And I listened to the night – just like Eric. In the clean, country quiet, the white noise in my head subsided and for the first time in an age the fist of tension inside me eased. I felt calmed. I felt the writer in me take a breath. She’s still alive then. I don’t know if she’s out of her coma yet but those precious minutes in the garden watching my dog brought me into contact with her and I’m thrilled. I hope she wakes up soon and I hope she wakes up hungry.

We came inside shortly after that, Eric and I. Now he’s fast asleep, curled up like a puppy and snoring like a chainsaw but I forgive him. He led me into an oasis of peace out there in the dark so I owe him. Cheers, Eric.


Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Musing, Struggling Writers


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Moriarty’s Rap Sheet

A few weeks ago a reader asked who and what is Moriarty and why is he named after a master criminal? Well, be curious no more. Moriarty is a sleek black feline that my niece, Medusa, spotted among a litter of feral kittens some years ago. He clawed his way over his siblings to get to her and has clawed things ever since.

His brother, Geoff the God of Biscuits, went to live with close friends and for a while it seemed they’d got the better deal. A nicer, more placid cat you couldn’t wish to meet but then, Geoff was hit by a car and suffered terrible injuries. He survived – thanks to a truly brilliant vet – but he lost an eye and most of his teeth. His warm-hearted personality remains intact though. Meanwhile, Moriarty has led a charmed life. Signing a deal with the Devil has suited him.

Bird life and small furry creatures have all suffered at the claws of Moriarty. The mortal remains of West country wildlife have littered the kitchen floor and squelched between the toes of unwary, barefoot, early risers. Also, larger animals have come to dread his soft-footed arrival. Yes, even Rufus the Superannuated who is twice his size. Not that Moriarty dares to threaten the star of He’s Too Sexy. No, in his presence, Moriarty becomes ultra affectionate rubbing his head under Rufus’s chin and winding himself round and around until Rufus can stand no more and bats the black cat away with a huge ginger paw. Rejected and nursing a bruised ego, Moriarty saunters off to take his frustration out on Floyd – he of the short legs. Being small and close to the ground, Floyd uses the cat-flap when he needs to visit the garden and this gives Moriarty much amusement. He waits until the dog has gone out and then he sits directly in front of the cat-flap. Floyd is a brave dog but he’s not stupid, he knows that if he dares to re-enter the house, Moriarty will be on him with claws bared and teeth gnashing. The status-quo remains until a human hears the sad whimpering coming from outside and opens the back door to let Floyd in (And offers him safe passage past the cat).

For too long this bewhiskered villain has wreaked havoc. He’s a cuddly purr machine when occupying the lap of a fire-side human but he’s not the soft, silky, bundle of affection that he wants us to think. He is a small furry demon. But … the universe has balance – yin and yang, the pleasure-pain principle, equal and opposite reactions, etc – and now Moriarty’s nemesis has arrived. No, it’s not the great Sherlock Holmes, it’s better than that. I am talking of my one true love (well, one of several true loves if I’m honest), the equally naughty and equally black, Eric. Being a force for good, he bears Moriarty no ill will but greater forces are at work here and when a cat runs away from him, Eric is compelled to follow. At speed.

The howling, growling, hissing and spitting emanating from a far corner of my sister’s house alerts us that the two animals have met (despite our efforts to keep them apart) and we rush to defuse the situation. Eric, hackles up will be found straining towards some high point in the room where an arched, spiky shadow with pointy teeth is staring down at him.

Poor Moriarty, if Eric is around, the cat hides upstairs, or in the outhouse. With family unity affected by this state of affairs my sister, in her role of matriarch and chief animal-lover, stepped in. She concluded that if she sat in the front room with Moriarty on her lap and Eric in the kitchen, she could make a fuss of the cat and reassure him that his family still loved him. Moriarty wasn’t sure but Little Sis persevered and the cat relaxed. Until some dumb klutz (me) left the door open and allowed Eric into the room. Little Sis hung on to the cat determined to prove he was safe, even with my dopey Doberman in the room, but Moriarty wasn’t convinced. Sinking his fangs deep into my sister’s finger, he persuaded her to let him go. At this point, I am fighting a tug of war with Eric’s collar as I drag him backwards from the room but I wasn’t too occupied to see Moriarty scamper up my sister’s face and place himself on her head. She was wearing a cat-hat complete with ten hat-pins to hold it firmly in place. Dog and cat fell silent, they bowed before my sister’s ability to out-shriek the pair of them. Sorry sis.

I respect my sister’s knowledge, experience and ability with all kinds of animals but I too am at the mercy of universal forces and if you’re going to get between opposing universal forces, you’re going to get hurt. Therefore, my sister’s injuries and later trip to A&E were not my fault. None the less, Eric and I have been banished to live in a house by ourselves while Moriarty lounges in Medusa’s bedroom listening to One Direction albums and eating premium cat food. Hah! Evil wins again.

Kneel before me, human, for I am Moriarty the Master Criminal

Kneel before me, human, for I am Moriarty the Master Criminal


Posted by on April 13, 2013 in Family Life, Uncategorized


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Shedward Skywards


My New Office

Ta Da! Shedward is no longer a shed. Well, actually, he is but he belongs to my nephew Semtex now. Shedward the blog has gone up in the world. I have moved to a house less than two minutes walk from Shedward and I now live quietly with my dog Eric – and Semtex who seems to have come with me. I do try to send him home but his mother says ‘No, no, I don’t mind if he stays with you …’

The attraction of my little house is the attic where the previous occupants have created three small rooms. Semtex spent the first two nights sleeping in the largest of them and is not pleased that I’ve put my desk up there. To keep the peace, I have acceded to some of his demands and he now has shelving space in my bedroom to keep his change of clothes in and I have a number of plastic guns in the attic for when he is fulfilling his duties as a part-time sniper. His main target is the kid’s play-park next door. He can open the window, spy on his peers and shoot them if he’s of a mind to. Occasionally, he does play football in the park with his friends. I never open the window and shoot at him, honest.

Now that he is the new resident of Shedward, Semtex spends time there writing his pastiche of The Hunger Games. I choose to believe that the hours spent wearing my bluetooth headset, talking to the rest of his troop (in his imagination – the headset is not connected) and murdering passersby is research for his story The Gun Games. What does it say about me that the inside of an eleven-year-old boy’s head is not a mystery to me – except … I’d dearly like to know how it is that he always thrashes me at Frustration? Anyway, I’m on the lookout for a bedroll for when he wants sleep in the attic. And, I apparently have to get him a desk for his shed to make up for taking my desk, Mr Disraeli, away.

Being in a rural area means that, though there are a few houses in the way, I have wonderful views from every window, especially the attic ones. I look forward to spending a night up there but for now I’ll stick to my bed. I’m not as resilient as I was and, besides, Eric can’t get up the ladder.

The front view from the attic

The front view from the attic

2013-04-01 13.52.14

The rear view








I’ll have to wait until there’s another grown-up in the house to mollify Eric and until I can find a super-thick, warm and comfortable bedroll to support old bones.

Oblivious to all of this, Eric is happy in his new home and spends his time trying to keep Semtex off the sofa.

It's My sofa

It’s My sofa

No, no, it’s MY sofa








So much for the quiet life. Still, even dogs and boys have to sleep (and, boy, can Eric snore) and when they do I’ll climb the ladder to my new Shedward. I have no excuse now, I have the place and the space in my life to get writing and, in a land where your ‘shed’ is a euphemism for your mind, I will feel no guilt in continuing to call this blog Shedward. From my mind to yours, you are as welcome to share my words as Semtex and Eric are to share my home. Onwards and upwards.




Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Family Life, Musing


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