The Black Book

The Black Book holds a diverse variety of rather short stories from my Moleskine notebooks. I will post them here on a semi regular basis. Mike.

County Mayo

The butterfly, now alone, wanders here, where once man toiled. A place that could be hard yet spirited too. Now alone the birds sing, to empty space, whilst the rain feeds land no longer used. Man has gone, and left all neglected. His mark stark upon the land. Ruined cottage, no hearth, no roof, now silence, now lost to mankind, only nature claims you now.

As the pale blue sky fades on empty mountain sides, no bow now crosses the empty sea, a tranquil space, that once teamed with human life. Now seemingly forgotten, once a place to breathe and grieve. Whilst back on land only faint traces shows where man once his crops grew and so his family fed. Soon nothing will remain, for wild gorse and saplings take hold and intend to reclaim. I wonder will man or wild animals one day return to claim this place. This quiet land now so forlorn, where no one counts time and so days and nights passes unknown. Where the tide drifts back and forth and seasons come and go, each marking their own time.

Will any others come to this place where I stand and stare, will they see and feel your pain, the pain of life of birth and death, of gaiety and sadness. Where now birds sing and butterflies roam as wild flowers bloom. Whilst cattle drift alone across the sea feed creek in search of pastures more satisfying. Such a space to breathe and grieve, to sing, to grow and live. Such a place I found in county Mayo, when I visited. …


Man o Man Why

Money spends anywhere says Bill as he snaps shut his wallet. It’s getting harder to get cash out of the old man these days. I am going to have to come up with a new twist if I am going to get enough dosh to pay of my debts.

Otherwise Jacko and his gun toting gang will take me apart if I don’t pay up.

Why the hell did I get into taking smack. Now if only Bill would put his wallet down, I don’t want to hit him, but man I need that money. Hell its getting cold in here. Bill old man, I really need some spending money, you know how it is, spending a bit of dosh on a a beer or two to lubricate the old throat. Look at me I am sweating and shaking like a stuck pig. Come on man, give me a break. It’s only money, you’ll get it back, course you will, I will find a way to pay you back all the money you have given me.

You know that kid they call Jacko down at the Old George, he says he has a job for me in Amsterdam, but I need a stake to get me there and back. Just a few hundred quid should do it. I could earn big bucks, pay you everything I owe you back.

Hell Bill come on, it’s a big deal, we could both be in the money. You know what car Jacko drives, he made it big time in Amsterdam. Come man, hand it over, come on man, I need it now, not tomorrow.

Damn it, damn it, why did you do that, I didn’t want to hurt you, you know I didn’t, bloody hell man, wake up, o shit. Shit. Shit.

Get yourself out of here Jimmy. Bloody bloody hell, now I will have to take that bloody plane to shitting Amsterdam. …


Nurse Shackleton

Christmas 1956

The smell of carbolic was strong at St John’s. It always seemed to clash with the image I had of the nurses. Each morning I would watch them leave their hall of residence, wrapped in royal blue cloaks with a hint of the red silk lining showing. I always thought that Nurse Shackleton looked extra smart with her starched white cap at a o so slight angle. Today I was worried for she had not left for work with the other nurses, instead she appeared in mufti with a suitcase. I knew at the Christmas party she had kissed me, unfortunately matron had chosen that moment to undertake her pre Christmas visit to the burns unit. Nurse Shackleton was immediately suspended from duty. My dream’s died that day, and so I gave up my fight for life.


Marigold knew she had it. The pain told her so, especially around her eyes. She had seen it in others, but she was not giving in, no sir’y. Of course she knew who was responsible. They were the root of all her tribes problems. They left their litter everywhere, and their dogs, well they always meant trouble.

But worse was to come, for Marigold had seen the women pinning up the notice, “planning application” for permission to replace the old farm with twenty six houses. Had not the building of the farm done enough damage to their land, but at least in recent years it had become overgrown. A neglected space, with its mountainous piles of weed covered ancient manure, and the weeds were nourishing. The farm was now a landscape where the young of her tribe might play in relative safety, rats permitting.

But now all was to change, for Marigold had seen the women pinning up the notice, “planning application” for twenty six houses. Human habitations with there shaved lawns and foreign plants, that left a bitter taste in your mouth. Had not the farm done enough damage, but at least these days it was almost abandoned.

Marigold marched out and lay in front of the digger, thinking if it did not stop at least the pain would, and the rooks would benefit. Harry a barbastelle bat, called a warning to her, as a man from the bat conservation trust walked out and raised his hand to stop the digger. So Marigold settled for more days of pain, she over saw her young kits stretching their horizons.


A moments glory was mine, now dereliction falls to me, my roof is open to the elements. Gone are my lovers, gone are my children, gone those who once loved me. All are gone, as alone now I wait. Once when young I welcomed the morning, as children ran from my walls, then I welcomed my first lovers. Warmth radiated in my heart, as families grew, some knew pain but many prospered, but sadness came my way as I watched my residents move away or worse died. Then sadness entered my heart.

But I still offered solace to all who came for my shelter, then other homes joined me. For a while we saw such fun, such drive, such love. Then your middle age arrived to taunt me, and slowly those who resided in me started to thin. Loneliness began to enter my bones, colder became my heart. My very being started to fade, for it seemed those who cared for me had all gone.

Now painful screams entered my soul, and many came to abuse my shelter. No longer was I seen as safe and secure, then manypeople flew from me, whilst others cried at my doorstep. The vision I had offered was lost. Soon the elements of nature began to break down my protect shelter. Then one day uncontrolled fire took my roof, I thought that I was dead, but a few creatures still sort out my privacy. Strange beings for whom life seemed broken, evilness often stalked them. Now even they have gone and so I wait for the end, for humanity no longer values me, so I must be taken down. For it seems I am no longer able to offer protection, so I must end.      Burnley January 2011.


Silence, as death casts its mantel, nothing moves,  it is as if even Mother Earth dare not breathe. As dales folk still fear and must bury painful thoughts deep, bury them deep.  Hurt by empty fields and smoke filled horizons, the rolling juggernauts, the daily news, pictures on the screen. Some took flight rather than see death visit, rather than see generations of work undone.

Farmers cried as I sat alone, as a century of effort and love, of breeding was undone. I heard the cry of a black bird as in flight he saw fire destroy, then saw the earth swallow a lifetimes work.  Now barns are empty, and silence defines loss. If the grass still grows will it be needed, if a collie gives birth will her pups still work, if a farmer crys’s will the land hear. Who feels the fear that rules the nearby farms. Who knows if or when the sound will return to Muker. Or when will the barn walls ring again to the call of farm animals. Perhaps no one knows and all must wait on time. For it seems that only time can heal, and return life to the farms. Till then fear rules, for who knows who will be next to see deaths mask cover cherished live stock.

The Church

Dusty, quiet and looking forsaken, yet people still visit if the door is open and call upon your help. Deserted you may look, but you are not. Your guardians still surround you, and the Lord waits, for those who call, for his love to find. Change comes, how will you handle it, neglect may break you, but those who love you, will not the Lord forget. For to leave him unsung, his name untold, would be a crime to justice and to peace.

Only when the strong door is locked for good, when a guardians protection is no longer given, when you must rest back upon your foundations, as season pass. Then will his church still be able to greet and protect, even if the Lord still waits patiently for his flock to return. Will anyone still be able to be your champion, able to rekindle your protection, or give sanctuary and protection. Then will anyone recall your passing or former glory.

The 7-15 am to Edinburgh

John told Bill it was true,but Bill could hardly believe it, Jannison’s had gone and got a new coach. Well seeing was believing and the evidence was there before him, standing in front of Mr Jannison’s office. A pale blue Plaxton Elite coach with the beautifully drawn lines of Jannison’s livery emblazoned on the sides and rear.

Next week was the start of the autumn season and this had set Bill thinking, he would like to visit the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He set his thoughts as to how he might persuade Jannison’s to organise a coach trip to Edinburgh. Jannison’s had organised many day trips, but had never organised any trips that stopped overnight.

Bill reluctantly turned away from the yard and set out for his local cafe, where he ordered his usual breakfast of two eggs sunny side u and plenty of toast all washed down with strong tea. The clatter of his strick hitting the floor caused him to look away from his daily paper, John Burt was standing looking at him, have you seen it then, Bill nodded then retrieved his stick, as John sat down and called for a bacon butty and a mug of tea. Then John wanted to known if Bill had driven a Plaxton Elite. No Bill had not, but that was not going to stop him trying to.

Heaver watched them as they drifted into a deep conversation, she guessed that subject, for it was always busses and trains with them. Most mornings them would arrive within a minute or two of each other, order breakfast, then often a model bus would appear on the table as the conversation turned to recent journeys. So it had been for more years than Heaver cared to think about. Other customers had come and gone, but these two had remained faithful to her, God knows she tried to look after her customers, but the years were catching up with her. She needed a break, so when Bill looked up and asked her if she would join them on a coach trip to Edinburgh she said yes with really thinking.

within a week Bill had twenty eight expressions on interst in a trip to Edinburgh, so he summoned up his courage and set out to visit old Mr Jannison. Jannison’s office was suspended from the roof trusses of the garage so that Jannison could keep an eye on the proceedings of his empire. When he saw Bill crossing the yard, he nearly told Sheila to send the old chap on his way. For he had been expecting  a request to look over the new coach. But he held his tongue, for Bill was a good driver had been a great help when Jannison’s needed a driver urgently. The request for a weekend at Edinburgh and the list of names  was unexpected.


The scent of the newly turned earth mixed with the wild flowers, to give Francis great pleasure. He looked back on the plough, and saw a open landscape, framed by hills, and highlighted by the setting sun. He could feel the land breathing with nature, tomorrow he would give thanks at the Sundays church service, then on Monday he must visit the castle to collect seed. It was time to sow the churches corn, which would pay the villages tithe to the church. Then he would see to his own corn to see his family through the winter months.

His walk up to the castle gates was easy, but the noisy crowd gathered around the bailiff, caused him concern. Francis sought out Morris the village reeve, the news was bad, the estate manager had on behalf of the Lord of the castle applied to parliment to enclose the ancient field system. Dry stone walls were to be constructed. The old way of farming the land was to be changed. As a vassal to the lord, Francis had no right to stay the enclosure. The right to plough, or graze cattle and pigs would only be given to tenants, and a tenancy would have to be purchased.


At present many short stories are filling my note books. This leaves me with little time to update this site. I am sorry about that…  1-04-2017


She sat as still as stealth bomber waiting for its turn of duty. When Dillon came she would be ready. Hers is the story of a child who lives in the memory of all. The merest movement might give her away. All in nature who could move had left. When the clouds started to roll in, the air grew heavy and the plant life went limp. As Dillon arrived the first to bow to him were the majestic trees, but he stripped them of their foliage; then he started uprooting them. Later he planned tackle their smaller kindred. Then he intended to turn his wrath on the plants that grew around the falling trees. He intended to rip them from the soil and tear the soil from the rocks.   … As the lightening flashed Dillon’s children the Nollid’s uncoiled. Still she waited, even as a thousand Nollid’s started on devouring all that belonged to the planet she waited. Only as Dillon finished releasing his semen did she explode, her acceleration was so fast, that in the blink of an eye she had wrapped herself around the entire planet.

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