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Tuesday 27 December 2022

Story Song - Nicky Galliers

our final story
something to chase away the cold of winter...

(Originally posted on Discovering Diamonds)

Read the story
guess the song
Barcelona, City, Spain, Sagrada Familia
clue... hola!

As my plane touched down, I realised what it felt like to be completely alone.
The landscape was alien, dry, arid, flat and yet not; mountains ringed a city set into a bowl that tipped into the sea; the sun beat down on a row of palm trees that waved in a long line outside the airport.
I knew no one here, the apartment rental arrangements had been handled by an agency, and my grasp of the language was rudimentary at best. That was why I was here, after all.
A taxi cost more than the Aerobus, but the taxi would take me where I needed to go whereas the bus left me somewhat short.
 Trenta-cinq pesetas,’ the driver said. What? That was not in my lessons. I forced myself to relax and my French popped up and helped. Thirty-five. I handed over two of my two thousand peseta notes and left him with the change. I heaved my suitcase out of the boot, unaided, and as he drove away from me I looked around.
The sun scorched what it touched. Window shades that were attached like flags to the outside of every building were a uniform pale yellow, their stripes a mere memory. On the opposite side of the street the shade was deep and dark and I wished I was there, instead of here in the full force of the violent sun.
My apartment was at number eight, and it was, thankfully closer than I had expected.
Press the button for number four, my instruction from the landlady on how to use the lift. ‘Only use to go up,’ she had said, in Spanish. Sólo arriba, like to a child. But I was a child.
Around me was Spanish and a language that I was told was Catalan. It sounded like Portuguese, but was written like French. The TV was in both. The radio blared out Catalan. I understood none of it, not a single word. The books in the apartment were in Spanish, some in Catalan, their titles looking familiar but on closer inspection, meaningless to me.
The supermarket my landlady had directed me to, after some blank looks from me and a hastily scribbled map of a street system that was entirely on a grid, was filled with unfamiliar things – they looked right but the names were wrong. Shopping was anxiety-ridden, an attempt to buy what I thought I needed without asking any questions. I could ask but I was certain I wouldn’t understand the answers.
I carried my purchases in white carrier bags with a strange name printed on them. They were heavy with pasta and Spanish biscuits, a long loaf like a baguette but shorter, thicker; coffee; teabags that had appeared apologetic on the shelf. I threw them in the lift and hauled them out at my door. Closing that door against the foreign world beyond was a relief. I had done it, bought food, and I was exhausted with the mental effort it had required.
I was a loner. I was a stranger, adrift in a world that seemed familiar but that I couldn’t grasp, like a dream where nothing is quite how it should be. The language escaped me. I was cut off. Alone.
For several weeks I walked everywhere. I had absolutely no idea how to use the buses, and the instructions on the ticket machines on the Metro were a confusion of multiple languages, none of them English. What did it cost? What did I press for a single? Which side of the barrier did I put my ticket? Did I go to Espanya or Catalunya to get the red line?
The first time I used the underground system I felt a sense of achievement akin to gaining my place at uni. Now I could use a ticket machine and I could negotiate myself to the right place, heading on the train in the right direction.
But I realised that I liked to wander. I liked to explore this new town of mine. Underground was the same: London, Berlin... wherever – tunnel walls were the same the world over. But the sights here were, I was discovering, unique. And each time I saw them they began to feel normal, they welcomed me back with their familiarity.
I walked from my apartment at Poble Sec (each location measured by the nearest Metro station as in every city with an underground system) to nearly Passeig de Gracia, up to Casa Batllo, that dragon-backed construction of a house that glittered when cleaned, glowed when filmed with traffic pollution. A few blocks up was the Correo, the post office, and a few down was that stationary shop with the greetings cards and ‘carpetas’, folders, with the Disney figures.
The Ramblas, on the southern end of the Passeig beyond El Corte Inglés - that magical department store that didn’t need translation - a meandering street leading from the heart of the town to the sea, the path of a once river, pausing at Liceu, the opera house set where the Ramblas begins to flatten out, the Joan Miró artwork set in the pavement. The bank that had once been an umbrella shop, the decorative umbrellas still delightfully in place, the dragon of Catalunya still adorning the wall.


I trekked up Montjuïc, from the Placa D’Espanya and the Palau Nacional and its automatic escalators that were only in motion if someone was on them, stopping as one must to examine the view from the diving pool.
From there the city was laid out, bathed in the sun. Flat-roofed tower blocks rose at a thousand different heights, the square buildings, cream and white and yellow faded by the unrelenting sun to beige, square black windows, a child’s Lego city, the cactus spikes of the old cathedral tower in the foreground, and reaching into the sky the elongated pine cones of the four towers of the Sagrada Familia further away; and beyond that, mountains, misted and hazy. It was familiar, a view I recognised, and the force of being here hit me.
Before I came here the city was a name, a joke from a 1970s sitcom. Now it was this, this vista, this panorama, this iconic cityscape. And there, down there, a few steps from that long straight road, the Paral.lel, that is where I now lived. That was my address. Carrer Parlament. I lived there now. This was my home, this city. And for the first time since I boarded my plane at Heathrow I smiled.
I followed the winding road up to the top of Montjuïc, all the way to the fortress that was carved atop, a crown set on a dark green hill. I could have waited for a bus, or hailed a cab, but I paid my pesetas and climbed aboard the cable car, drinking in the view, revelling in being suspended above such a marvellous city, watching for my apartment, my road, the market of Sant Antoni, clambering out at the end of the trip in the port district.
I walked back to my flat with a new purpose, a spring in my step, eschewing the bus or the Metro, not because of fear, but because this place was mine and I was going to enjoy it. Half an hour later, much further than I had estimated, really not caring, I came to my front door. My front door. I checked my mailbox and then got into my lift to the fourth floor. My apartment, my balcony overlooking the street below, the sirens, so different from those in London, now my sirens, part of my life. The lottery ticket vendor on the corner, the bakery that opened so early, the little souvenir shop with its sombreros and flamenco dresses for five-year-olds hanging forlornly either side of the door. The grubby supermarket down the road, the oddly flat vowels of the language shouted across the street. Poble Sec, the Metro station at the end of the road. Each formed a part of the patchwork quilt that wrapped itself around me as I watched life go on below me. Each tiny scene a splash of colour on the canvas that was the city. Each one was now a part of me, and me on my balcony, I was a part of it, in my corner of Barcelona.
My Barcelona.

© Nicky Galliers

song: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe - I hope they are both singing their hearts out together with great joy on the other side!

about the author

The only thing Nicky ever got in trouble for at school was reading under the desk during Physics class. It was probably a Sharon Penman…

Once it became clear that Life (and excess height) was determined to prevent her from becoming a ballerina, after dabbling in the world of motor sport, she returned to her other loves – history and books. A graduate of History, medieval with a bit of pre-historic archaeology thrown in for fun, the Normans and Domesday Book are her specialism, Edward III her passion and the bits in between her essay content.

The image is of Nicky practicing for battle at Crecy...

Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics but no copyright in names, titles or ideas
images via Pixabay accreditation not required

<.... previous story 

Normal posts will resume in January

Monday 26 December 2022

Story Song Recycled - Richard Tearle

(Originally posted on Discovering Diamonds)

Read the story

Guess the Tune

here's a clue...

Just hearing that Tony Meehan drum intro took me back to a cold February night in 1963. Back to that Church hall in Friern Barnet, next to the Orange Tree pub. Back to the youth club where me, Mick, Jimmy and Paul were playing our first – and only, as it happens – gig supporting another local group, The Falcons.

And then, following Mick's drums, I came in. It was our last number and I wanted to get it just right. Leave an impression. In order to try and capture the exact sound Jet Harris made with his revolutionary 6-stringed Fender Jaguar Bass, I used a thicker plectrum – it gave the sound an authentic 'clunk' as I hit the lighter strings of my Guyatone standard lead and rhythm guitar.

I had my stance and had been practising my facial expressions in front of a mirror. I closed my eyes and squeezed the notes out of the strings, fingers pressed heavily against the fretboard. I raised the neck of the guitar for the higher notes and dropped it for the lower ones. Front knee bent slightly; back leg straight, not unlike Gene Vincent. The notes dripped like melting chocolate. Paul - who never missed a chord change - kept the rhythm going; Jim plodded out a bass line. Mick's drums threatened to drown all of us out. Johnny Adams, our manager, fiddled with my amp to get more volume.

I ventured a glance at the crowd. Small but growing; they hadn't come to see us, after all. But they seemed to be enjoying our set of bog-standard instrumentals. The Shadows stuff, mostly. Obscure album tracks. We'd played Walk, Don't Run by the Ventures and that had been good, as had Chariot by Rhett Stoller. And an instrumental of Where Have All the Flowers Gone which Paul's dad had liked. A shame none of us could sing.

I stepped back from the mic, played softer and Johnny fiddled with the amps so that we almost recreated the fade out pretty well.

And it was over.

* * *

I bought myself a Coke from the table selling soft drinks and crisps. I hadn't realised how hot and thirsty I'd become and I demolished the drink in two long gulps.

“That was good,” a voice said. Female.

I turned. She was blonde, about five foot five and had the most vibrant green eyes. Like emeralds sparkling against bright diamonds. She wore a tight white sweater, a flared short skirt and white knee length boots.

“Thank you,” I said. “Erm - Would you like a drink?”

“Thank you. Coke. Please.” Then: “I love that tune.”

“Which one?”

“The last one. I like Jet Harris. My favourite Shadow. When he was with them,” she added needlessly.

“Mine too.” It wasn't just a line to attract more attention from her; it was true. The name, the really cool hairstyle. Jet was 'the man' in my eyes.

I offered her a cigarette. Perfectos I smoked in those days. King size. Impressive.

She accepted and I held out my lighter for her. She bent her head, flicked her hair away from her face and then blew smoke out.

“I'm Stephanie,” she said. “Most people call me Stevie.”

I told her my name.

She smiled and said, “I know.”

I took her arm and steered her away from the table, indicating a pair of lonely chairs on the other side of the hall. The Falcons were setting up.

“You're really good,” she said, sipping her Coke.

I thanked her. I knew that I wasn't really that good, but I'd done alright tonight and was happy. No bum notes and only once did I finish a tune before the rest of the group.

The Falcons began their set. Please Please Me. A song by a new group called The Beatles. Then an obligatory Chuck Berry number.

I sighed. “None of us can sing,” I said. “we would do that stuff if we could.”

“You don't have to be able to sing,” she laughed. “I saw a group last week. The Rolling Stones. They can't sing!”

“But it's having the guts to stand on a stage and do it. That's the problem with us.”

“Never mind, she said and looped her arm through mine. “It'll come.”

“Do you live far from here?” I asked tentatively.

Stevie smiled and confirmed that she was only a few streets away.

“Can I – can I walk you home?”

“Later,” she said. “Let's have a dance first.”

We dropped our cigarettes onto the wooden floor and I ground them both out with my Cuban heeled Chelsea boots. As we progressed from a gyrating twist to a slow and smoochy number, I caught Paul's eye over Stevie's shoulder. He grinned and winked and I gave him two fingers. But there was a smile on my face as I did so.

Later, in the chill of a dark February night, I walked Stevie home. Cloudy and moonless it was and the only stars to be seen were in my eyes. And hers, I noticed, as we shared a first kiss outside her front door.

* * *

There were to be many more times that I walked her home; all carried the same magic as that first, wondrous night. After two years of courtship we became engaged and two years after that I made Stevie my wife. Our first solo dance at our wedding reception was to that last tune...

* * * 

The oh so familiar tune came to its fading end, Jet Harris's bass still true after more than fifty years. I raised my head as an organ began to play and I stared at the coffin as it rolled away to the furnace. Stevie's coffin.

The purple curtains closed silently and I whispered a simple 'Goodbye, Stevie. Love you'. Tears blurred my vision and when I rose I stumbled slightly. Hands supported me and I mumbled my thanks.

I was led outside. Another grey February day. Fitting, I suppose.

Someone somewhere whispered, “Strange choice of music.”

But this one had always been a diamond. 'Our song'. 

© Richard Tearle

Richard said the tale was not autobiographical - but he did play in a band or two... alas, not on the same level as the following...


About Richard:

Richard Tearle passed away in April 2021 - he is very much missed by his family and friends. I still catch myself thinking 'Oh, I'll ask Richard...'

Richard was born in Muswell Hill, London and nearly went to school with the Kinks and Rod Stewart. Starting work at the Ever Ready Company in 1964, he moved on to the Performing Right Society and ended his working life as a Civil Servant, retiring in 2013.

He loved reading and music, as well as Tottenham Hotspur and steam trains.


The North Finchley Writers’ Group 
By Richard Tearle
with Helen Hollick

When a group of north London writers meet each month for a chat, coffee, and cake – what else is on their agenda? Constructive criticism? New Ideas? An exciting project? And maybe, more than one prospective romance...? Eavesdrop on the monthly meetings of the North Finchley Writers' Group, follow some ordinary people with a love of story writing, and an eagerness for success. Discover, along with them, the mysteries of creating characters and plot, of what inspires ideas, and how real life can, occasionally, divert the dream...

Sunday 25 December 2022

Story Song Recycled - Helen Hollick

(Originally posted on Discovering Diamonds)

Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Table, Vintage, Folding, Furniture
Left... right...?

“Swap you that pork pie for this chicken drumstick,” the well-dressed older lady said to the  young woman sitting next to her on one of the provided benches, and waving a napkin-wrapped offering which she had extracted from the small wicker hamper at her feet. "My cook is a dear lady, but she does tend to think that food like a common pork pie is somewhat beneath my status." She smiled, almost a grin, but that would have been a little too unladylike for her to manage. She touched her large hat, a wild concoction of feathers and silk flowers, "I was born and raised in Leicestershire, not far from Mr Adcock's bakery and his famous pies. Mind, since marrying my dear Sir George and coming to live here in London, those childhood days have had to be put behind me." She almost managed a second grin, said in a pronounced country dialect, "Along with my Leicestershire accent."
The young woman smiled and pushed back the tendrils of her black hair escaping her more modestly decorated straw bonnet as she nodded in agreement to the suggested swap. Did not let on that she had not tasted chicken for many a month. Even this pork pie and her meagre picnic fare was an exceptionally rare treat.  Unlike the well-to-do ladies and gentlemen waiting patiently in this roped-off special seating area  accessed by ticket-holders only  she was dressed plainly, but immaculate and practical for a potential long wait until the procession passed by.
“They have a good day for it, at least,” the older woman said, munching the pie and scattering pastry crumbs all over her skirt. She nodded towards the bunting and flags fluttering in the stiff breeze that also herded a few puffed, white clouds across the sapphire blue sky. “A bit blowy, perhaps, but no sign of rain.”

Drop Of Water, Inject, Water, Drip, Wet

“It poured at his first wedding,” another woman sitting behind them said. “I got soaked to the bone, but it was worth it. The processions, then, were wonderful, and she – well the bride was the prettiest little thing I had ever set eyes on. I swear that her hair was spun  gold. They say this second wedding is to be less extravagant, the essentials only."
The young woman suppressed a scornful snort. Less extravagant? Was that likely? Not with the Prince's penchant for opulent public display!
"Well we have to show our appreciation for his new bride, do we not?" the older woman's companion said, leaning forward and scattering raisins from her slab of fruit-cake everywhere. The wild birds would be having a feast once everyone had gone home. "After all, she will be our next queen when the king passes, God bless him."
The first woman discretely crossed herself. "He is getting quite frail, they say, poor man; but the Prince will make a fine king when his time comes. Such a shame what happened, though." She pursed her lips then tutted a couple of times, while wiping her fingers on a linen napkin. "His first wife was more suited to the role than this new little maid. She seems to be such a quiet mouse. Though dutiful, I hear tell."
“Aye,” said another woman, joining in the conversation, “It is a great sadness that the first dear girl passed away so young.”
“Such a wicked accident   to break her neck falling down the stairs like that,” said the first woman.
“Tripped, they say.”
“I heard,” the young woman interrupted, discretely wiping her own greasy fingers on an old, but clean, cotton square, “that he pushed her.”
The elder women looked at her, wide-eyed, open -mouthed. Quite askance. Then they all spoke at once.
"He would not do such a thing!" 
"You are treading near treason my girl!"
"He is the most charming, pleasant young man!" 
"Kind, courteous, thoughtful …"
"He would never do such a thing!”
The young woman let the outrage subside. “All that is his public face, the stories you read in the news-sheets. He is entirely different behind closed palace doors. He pushed her, and got away with it because he is the heir to the throne.” Did not add, And a manipulative little bastard.
Several tuts of disapproval.
“And just how,” challenged one of the women, “would you be knowing all this? Know someone inside the palace, do you?” It was meant as crushing sarcasm.
The young girl smiled, bit into a crunchy green apple, chewed, swallowed. “As it happens, yes, I do. I used to be there.”

Noble, Castle, Hofburg Imperial Palace

    There were a couple of gasps and an eager moving forward to hear better. The tickets for this special area had cost several shillings and a chance of any bonus gossip for additional value for money was pounced upon.
“He might be a prince,” the young woman went on, in between mouthfuls of apple, “but he  is also an arrogant prig. He wants – no demands –  his own way in everything.” She paused, looked meaningfully at the women, one by one, “and I mean everything. Oh, he appears to be charming, romantic and caring whenever he is in public, but in private he is cruel and unkind. For his poor bride, once he owned her, he controlled everything she did. He demanded that his every wish was to be instantly obeyed, and if it is was not he lashed out with his tongue, hand, fist or boot. Most of the servants, the female ones anyway, are terrified of him.” She lowered her voice, "The male staff ensure, as much as possible, that the younger female servants are always chaperoned when in his presence. Even down to the lowest scullery maids going about their duties. Though, fortunately, the prince is rarely from his bed before noon, so the servants get as much done before then as they can."
More gasps of astonishment.
The young woman tucked the apple core neatly into the piece of cloth and put both into her holdall, buckled the clasp and nodded her head. “He ordered his wife what to eat or not to eat; what to  wear, what to do. Who she could or could not see. He would not permit her to retain contact with any of her friends or family. He had the last say in everything. Oh he was charming before the wedding, but his gentlemanly behaviour when in public is all a play-act. Once the wedding band was on her finger he had got what he wanted ... to own her ... and  proceeded to make her life an utter misery.”
The pork pie woman shook her head. “I do not believe it.”
“He even beat her if she did not comply.”
The young woman nodded her head again firmly. "I saw the bruises. The welts across her back. He used his riding crop on her more than once."
Another woman joined in, her voice deliberately low as she whispered, “I think it is true. Do you not remember a bruise on her cheek that time they went to the opera? A few weeks before she died? It was mentioned in all the news-sheets. The palace said she had 'suffered an unfortunate accident with a cupboard door'.”
The young woman snorted, said, “Soon after, she 'fell' down the stairs and broke her neck.”
The elder women tutted or pursed their lips and nodded sagely. 
One said: “The funeral was such a sad occasion. I was here in this same spot, watched the cortege pass by. We all wept when the prince walked so solemnly behind the casket. His tears streamed down his face. I remember it well."

Woman, Victorian, English, Wealthy

   “Crocodile tears,” said the young woman. “He did not mourn for long after the funeral did he?”
“That is true,” someone else agreed.
“What else can you tell us?” Pork Pie woman asked, eagerly.
The young woman shrugged. “I do not know anything else. I  left the palace soon after the 'accident'.”

Des Moines, Iowa, State Capitol

Any further curiosity or questions were cut short by the sound of approaching hooves and blaring trumpets. There was a general rustling and getting to feet throughout the crowds thronging each side of the main thoroughfare leading to the cathedral. Picnic hampers were hastily shoved aside, to be replaced by little flags on wooden sticks, the waiting spectators eagerly surging forward, cheers hurling into the air along with tossed flowers and a variety of shouted good wishes.

Horse, Carriage, Coach, Transport

The glass wedding coach rumbled past, flanked by smart soldiers dressed in their best uniforms. The woman inside, a petite, demure lass who looked more like a girl than a woman grown, waved and smiled shyly at the well-wishers lining the route.
She was gone, a sigh of satisfaction swept through the crowd.
“Did you see her?”
“So pretty!”
“Looked like a lot of lace on that bodice.”
“The diamonds in that tiara!”
“Aye, and did you catch a glimpse of the necklace?”
“I wonder how long her veil and train will be.”
“What is the dress  like? It looked like silk.”
“I cannot wait to read all about it  in the news-sheets tomorrow.”

Marriage, Bouquet, Happy, Dress Up

The young woman listened to the excited chatter and exchange of opinions, but did not join in. Instead, she clutched her home-made patchwork rag-bag to her chest and kept her thoughts to herself. The young bride was indeed shy and demure, and more important, well trained in compliance and duty. She was not the type to naysay the prince, would be breeding as soon as may be and devote herself to the dozen or so children that she would have. A little mouse, the complete opposite to that first, unfortunate, wife who had held her own mind and who had refused to bow to the whims of a bully. Even if he were a royal prince.
The couple, once married and joined one to the other, would be returning to the palace via a different route. Many in the crowds began to push and squirm their way to a new vantage point, but the young woman had seen all she had wanted to see. She walked with a light step across the grass of the park, and headed for the less wealthy part of the city.

Ally, Street, Urban, City, Street Art

    It was a long walk. Her rented home was one of a terraced row of old houses. Two up, two down, the only thing different for each, the extent of the worn, flaking paint on the doors and grimed window panes. The narrow street was shabby, not a slum, but not affluent either. Grubby curtains twitched as, head erect, she walked by. She and her husband were regarded as outsiders. Each morning he went off to work in a modest button maker's shop near St James; she busied herself with dressmaking and kept her house spotlessly clean. She took the  door key from where it nestled securely inside her coat pocket and let herself into the house.
The front door led straight into the living room. Beyond, a tiny but neat kitchen. Upstairs one larger bedroom and another the size of a cupboard. She smiled, there was a posy of fresh flowers in what served as a glass vase on the dining table. A white linen cloth, exquisitely embroidered with little blue and red flowers hid the scratches that were gouged into the old wood. She could hear her husband out in the kitchen putting the kettle on to boil on the wood-burner stove. He appeared through the curtain that served as a door, wiping his wet hands with a towel.
“I’ve done the washing up,” he said as he walked across the faded, worn carpet to kiss her on the cheek and take her bonnet and coat, which he hung on a peg beside the front door. “Was it good to watch?”
She sat in one of the two shabby armchairs and removed her shoes. Her feet were aching from the walk. “I talked to some nice ladies, we swapped picnics.”
“Did you see his new bride?”
“Oh yes. From what I know of her she will not gainsay him. Good luck to her, I say. She’ll breed him lots of children and relish being a doting mama with no mind of her own beyond her brood of spoilt sons and daughters.”
Her partner – he was not her husband, although not one of the neighbours knew this – sat on the arm of the chair and took her hand in his, kissed the gold-plaited band on her finger that sat there for propriety’s sake. “You do not envy her then?” he asked.
The young woman looked up at him, her blue eyes wide with laughter. She tossed back a wisp of her dyed hair, some of the original blonde was showing through at the roots.
“What? Not in the slightest. I pity her. I had a lucky escape, got out before it was too late.”
She nodded towards one of the drawers in the sideboard, a large ugly old thing that, like the table and armchairs, had come with the house. “I think,” she said slowly, “we have kept our heads down long enough. It is time we moved on. The tale of my death is accepted, no one knows of the secret annulment or that the funeral was nothing but an arranged sham. All evidence of the truth has been destroyed, he has seen to that." She snorted contempt, "He strutted around wearing his widower's weeds with false solemnity and doesn’t want me to reappear into his life any more than I want to. We’ve enough squirrelled away in that drawer from the money he paid me to disappear and keep quiet. It's time we started a new life somewhere far, far away from here. The Colonies perhaps?”
She smiled at the man beside her, rose from the chair and removed the posy of flowers from their unusual holder. She picked it up, her smile a combination of amusement, satisfaction and malice, then hurled it towards the tiny brick fireplace where the glass shattered into a myriad of pieces. She picked up its twin and hurled that too, enjoying the sound of shattering destruction. 

Shoes, Bokeh, Fashion, Walking

"I promised myself," she said to the man she had always loved (but had not realised it until it was too late) "that on the day I was truly set free of my mistake of a marriage, I would smash those bloody awful, bloody uncomfortable, fancy glass slippers that the control-freak b*strd prince made me wear!"
Buttons, as her husband was nicknamed, smiled, kissed her. "I love you Cindy. Love you lots and lots."

And that is how the real story of Prince Charming and Cinderella ends. 'Happy Ever After', but not together as a couple!

© Helen Hollick
(I want to make it quite clear that I am referring to Prince Charming of the Cinderella story and not any real prince!)

Did you guess the song title?
Turning Tables by Adele

Helen Hollick has written several books, fiction and non-fiction, 

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 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

*** *** 

You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s

buy from Amazon

nautical adventures set during the Golden Age of Piracy

If you liked Pirates Of The Caribbean?
then you'll love the Sea Witch Voyages!

A prequel novella - how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate 

* * *
the events that led to 1066
the Battle of Hastings

1066 - the events that led to the
Battle of Hastings
from Amazon
Harold the King  (UK edition)
I Am The Chosen King (US/Canada edition)
1066 Turned Upside Down -
an anthology of alternative stories

* * *
A post-Roman warlord and the story
of King Arthur
The boy who became a man
The Man who became a King
The King who became a legend
Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy
The Kingmaking 

Amazon: FREE ebook!


e-book only

~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Saturday 24 December 2022

Story Song Recycled - Elizabeth Chadwick

(Originally posted on Discovering Diamonds)
An Exclusive 'out-take' scene from 
Elizabeth Chadwick's novel
Templar Silks

Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...

Family Anno, Anno, Family, 19, Year
Author's Note:
When I write historical novels, the early drafts sometimes contain scenes that do not make it into the final version of the book. This is usually the result of me having to produce a word count that will not give my agent and editor a heart attack.  Sometimes too, the scenes, although perfectly good in themselves, turn out to be a distraction from the main flow of the novel – tributaries in the river you might say.
    The Cloak, is an out-take from my bestselling novel Templar Silks and this is the first time that this scene has been aired in public. My editor loved it, but felt it was one of those tributaries that meant my hero was not arriving swiftly enough at his destination where the main action rightly takes place.   
    To set the scene for this out-take my protagonist, William Marshal, a senior knight and office holder in the household of Henry, the twenty-eight year-old son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, has vowed to travel to Jerusalem and present his young lord’s cloak at the tomb of the Holy Sepulchre. Henry, known as The Young King because he had been crowned in his father’s lifetime to secure the succession and had made the request of William on his death bed.  The Young King died from dysentery while in rebellion against his father, and shortly before his demise had robbed several holy shrines in order to pay his mercenaries. William himself had been heavily involved in the matter.
     William set out from England with the cloak in the late summer of 1183.  Part of his journey may have taken him through the territory of The Young King’s sister, Joanna, who was Queen of Sicily. This out-take scene, titled ‘The Cloak’ is a moment when William and his men seek an audience with her.

Brindisi, late Summer 1183

Eight days of brisk travelling brought William and his men to the port of Brindisi on the shores of the blue and gilded Adriatic Sea, there to procure a ship to carry them across to Durazzo where they would pick up the ancient Roman Road to Constantinople - the Via Egnatia. But first they had to pay their respects to Joanna, Queen of Sicily, King Henry’s daughter who was lodged in the port. 

The Silhouette, The Stroke, Character

Leaving his entourage to stable the horses and settle into the pilgrim hostel by the harbour, William folded his former master’s cloak under his arm and went to seek audience with the Queen, taking Ancel and Geoffrey with him.
Having closely scrutinised the seal on the letter William bore from King Henry to his daughter, the guards admitted William and his companions into an ante chamber while a servant went to inform the lady of their arrival. After an age he returned and summoned William alone, bidding Ancel and Geoffrey to remain behind. William shot them a look, warning them wordlessly to be on their best behaviour, and followed his silk-clad escort through a door with a golden lion’s head knocker, into a spacious chamber with pale stone window arches framing the twin azure plains of sea and sky. Hangings of gossamer linen floated on a salt-scented breeze and the walls were painted with images of peacocks displaying their iridescent eye-fan tails amid stylised lemon groves. 

Peacock Feathers, Plumage, Iridescent

Joanna Queen of Sicily sat on a padded seat by one of the arches, surrounded by her ladies. A square of needlework occupied her hands, and a basket of brightly coloured silks rioted at her side.  Her smooth, upright posture and taut figure were so reminiscent of her mother, Queen Alienor, that William’s heart gave a painful jolt. The last time he had seen Joanna, she had been eleven years old and on her way to this marriage in Sicily, although he had known her almost from birth. Reconciling the poised, grown woman with the infant and child of his memory, was like watching tiles of time slide over each other from past to present, superimposing one reality upon the next.  
He crossed the mosaic floor, and knelt at her feet. ‘Madam,’ he said, and the word felt strange on his tongue because of his vision of her as a little girl with pig-tail plaits.             
Her eyes, ocean-blue like her mother’s, held none of Queen Alienor’s warmth and compassion, but were guarded, almost hostile. ‘Messire Marshal,’ she said curtly. The letter he had brought lay open on the table beside her embroidery threads.
William wondered what the letter had said to make her stare at him so coldly. ‘I thank you for granting me an audience, Madam.’
‘I was in half a mind to refuse you,’ she said, ‘but I wish to be fair and I try not to consider you impertinent or lacking in respect to request such a thing. My brother was beyond dear to me and I am in mourning for his untimely death.’
William was unsurprised by her attitude.  He was the scapegoat; the one to blame for the young man’s demise, and he blamed himself anyway because he had been unable to save him.  ‘Madam, it grieves me too – greatly.’
‘Yet you allowed it to happen.’
‘I tried to reason with him, but nothing I said or did made a difference. ‘My lord was bound upon his path.’ He had to swallow before he could continue. ‘It is to my sorrow and great shame that I failed in my duty.’
‘Indeed, you should feel sorrow and shame,’ she said with the cruelty of grief. ‘You were his tutor in chivalry – his teacher, his protector and safeguard from harm.’
‘What you say is true,’ William replied, accepting her scorn as his due, indeed welcoming it for he deserved every blow she struck. ‘He was my lord and I let him down.’ He bowed his head but he was still aware of her merciless scrutiny. ‘That is why I am bound on this pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Before he died, my young lord charged me to take his cloak and lay it on Christ’s tomb at the Holy Sepulchre in expiation of his sins. For love of him and for my own redemption, I have undertaken a solemn vow to do so.’ He produced the folded bundle from under his arm and spread the fabric out before her – a semi-circle of crimson wool with a white linen cross stitched over the left breast.  And then he looked up at her, willing her to see what was in his eyes.
She gave a cry like a wounded animal and pressing her veil over her face turned away from him, her shoulders shaking. Her ladies crowded around, exclaiming full of sympathetic concern, and sending him dagger-looks.
‘You are dismissed.’ Her voice cracked with grief as she waved her hand in his direction. ‘Get out.’  
He started to gather up the cloak, spread like a pool of blood between them, but she turned on him, savage and tearful. 
 ‘Leave it!’
William’s stomach plummeted. ‘Madam, with all respect, I cannot, it is my sacred charge.’
‘It was your sacred charge to keep my brother alive. I am his kin, not you!’ she was radiant with anger. A swift gesture brought the guards to William’s side, ready to march him out at sword point.
‘Then I shall await your pleasure Madam.’ He gave a stiff bow.
The guards escorted him out of the door and then shut it in his face.  He stared at the brass lion’s head gripping the latch ring, and clenched his jaw.

Lion, Door, Doorknocker, Knocker, Old

‘What has happened? Ancel demanded, ‘What’s wrong?’
William shot him an irritated look.  ‘Nothing. The Queen is distraught and in grief for her brother, that is all.’
‘Where’s the cloak?’
‘Where do you think?’ William snapped before compressing his lips in a tight line.
‘What do we do now?  What if she doesn’t...?’
William’s glare was enough to silence Ancel who sat down on the bench, folded his arms and hunched over them. Geoffrey prudently did not venture an opinion.
The light changed mellowing and darkening as the day advanced and they were offered neither food nor drink, but William took hope from the fact that they had not been dismissed outright. He went to talk to some of the courtiers in the ante chamber to garner information about the crossing to Durazzo – how long it would take, which captains to approach, who to avoid.
It was nearing dusk when the door eventually re-opened and William was summoned back into Joanna’s presence.
She sat in her chair of authority now, not the window seat. Her women had kindled the glass oil lamps and their light cast a gold patina across the mosaic-diced floor. The cloak was spread out before her in a wide scarlet fan that draped over a footstool at her feet.  She was tightly clutching to her body, the area that would have circled her brother’s shoulders and chest when he wore it.
Once more, William knelt at her feet.
‘Get up,’ she said. Her voice was hoarse with grief and her eyes swollen from weeping, but the storm had passed and she had control of herself. ‘Messire Marshal, you have brought my brother’s cloak to me and I thank you although it has caused me great sorrow. I realise it was not an easy thing for you to do and I know you must continue with your pilgrimage to Jerusalem to redeem his soul. I shall not stand in your way. Indeed, I shall aid you if I can  while you are in Brindisi.’
It was as close to an apology as he was going to receive. ‘Madam, I am grateful, and it grieves me to be the harbinger of so much sorrow.’
She shook her head. ‘You have given me the means to mourn.’ she answered, and a solitary tear trickled down her face. ‘Before today I could not acknowledge that my brother was dead, and now I have both the wound in my hands and the healing.’  Her expression suddenly sharpened. ‘For my brother’s sake and your own, see that you do not fail this time, or you shall never rest, in this world or the next.’  
 ‘I shall not spare myself Madam, and if I die in the attempt, then so be it.’
She gestured him to take the cloak, relinquishing her grip on it finger by slow finger, until her hands were empty and William’s were full. 
He laid the garment reverently on the lamplit floor, smoothed it out and folded it into a neat bundle with the cross uppermost and said nothing about the piece of cloth that had been cut from the hem. It was a small enough sacrifice to bind a wounded heart.
The Queen of Sicily rose from her chair and took from the middle finger of her right hand a sapphire ring set like a midnight-blue teardrop in a surround of filigree gold. ‘Take this to the Sepulchre with the cloak,’ she said. ‘My brother gave this to me when I came here as a bride. Let it be sold for alms to bestow on the poor for his soul…and for mine.
‘It shall be done, Madam.’
She gave him an eloquent look, her eyes a quenched blue like the sapphire in the ring. ‘I believe you, even perhaps against my will.  You may go, and God speed your journey.’
William bowed from the chamber, the cloak once more secure in his possession, apart from one small, scarlet square, and the doors closed behind him.

Wooden Door, Nailed, Old, Wood, Texture

‘Thank God!’ Ancel cried, springing to his feet.
 ‘I told you,’ William said, although he too had not been sure. He had felt the resistance in each of her fingers as she surrendered the garment into his keeping like notes plucked on snapping heart strings.

Image result for red cloak white cross

‘We should not have come here,’ Ancel said.
‘Yes, we should,’ William contradicted. ‘It was God’s will and we have the benefit of the Queen’s help and protection to make the crossing. Come, we have a ship to find, and a journey to continue.’

© Elizabeth Chadwick

Did you guess the title?

Ed Sheeran  - Photograph
(Official You Tube Video)

Note from Elizabeth:
All of my novels have soundtracks, usually of modern music. It has been part of my creative process since I began writing historical fiction when I was fifteen.  I use lyrics and melody to inspire scenes, to evoke emotions and to get into character feelings and motivations.  The song for the scene in this outtake is Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’. Its poignant lyrics and melody just ache with wistful longing.  There were no photographs in the 12th century - indeed, not even realistic portraits, but the cloak itself is the medium of the memories here.

Elizabeth standing beneath William Marshal's
plaque at Cartmel Priory
Elizabeth Chadwick was born a story teller. At the age of three, before she could read or write, she remembers opening picture books and making up new tales. She came to love historical fiction partly through drama, partly through books and television. In 1994 she was hired by Columbia Pictures to turn the script of First Knight starring Sean Connery and Richard Gere into a novel. In 1998, her novel The Champion was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists Association Parker Pen Award for the best Romantic novel of the year and she has been shortlisted three more time since then and longlisted twice. In 2011 To Defy A King won their award for the best work of historical fiction.  A Place Beyond Courage, the story of the great William Marshal’s father John FitzGilbert was selected by UK bookshop chain Waterstones as one of their Best Books of 2008 in historical fiction. In 2010 The Scarlet Lion was nominated as one of the ten landmark historical novels of the decade. In 2009, Sourcebooks US published  The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. The Greatest Knight became a New York Times bestseller. 
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 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

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