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RBW Online

23rd November 2012 Date: 264 ISSUE

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Alexander Dalgarno (born January 5, 1928) is a British physicist, currently being the Phillips Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University. He is known as the "father of molecular astrophysics". “Research is a matter of overcoming obstacles. That's what research is about. There are problems. There are difficulties. It's hard to make sense of a Wikipedia image collection of information or whatever. Obstacles are the nature of research. Maybe that's why some people give up. There's always an obstacle. You overcome one to find there's another one.� Interviewed by Harry Kreisler, February 28, 2003. In Conversations with History. Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley. Awards, included the prize of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences, the Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society, the Meggers Award of the Optical Society of America and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Physical Society and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 1998, Asteroid 6941 was named Asteroid Dalgarno. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.

Women bishops 'in my lifetime', predicts Archbishop John Sentamu The Archbishop of York has said "there will be women bishops in my lifetime", the day after the Church of England Synod narrowly voted against their introduction this week.

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Faith Hickey image Monet? No ... Simply Staffordshire if you know where to look.

Sylvan adj of forest, relating to things typically forestry, wooded covered in trees, rural characteristic of countryside, Sylvan as a noun means inhabitant of forest (person, spirit, animal etc)

Spawn noun egg mass, fish or reptile, offspring progeny especially if numerous, can mean fungal threads as a mass — mycelium, seed germ or source of something

Illicit adj illegal not permitted by law, unacceptable by social standards— considered wrongful

Dispensations noun exemption or release from rule or obligation (religious) document giving exemption— religious system (divine order or management of affairs) - distribution of things Absolve verb pronounce someone blameless — not guilty and not held responsible - to relieve someone of obligation — to forgive

Sconce noun holder for a candle or lit torch or light fitting - small fort or defensive earthwork Image: Sconce for torch on walls of Medici palace, Florence,

Wikipedia image

LIFE OBSERVATIONS An unofficial survey by me of local traffic produced the surprising statistics that over 80% of cars in Stafford are either black or silver/grey in colour. What a dull, boring and monochrome town we live in! Finishing the end of a good book is like the grief of saying goodbye to old friends. Only 39 people bothered to vote in the election for the new post of Police Commissioner at our local ward polling station,

Watch the light play on the ripples as the sun catches the tiny scales of a minnow. Three days without the internet is a cause of anxiety, which is another cause of anxiety. The return of an old friend is a source of joy. Taking delight in the advancement of others is a skill not enjoyed by everyone who considers themselves to be enlightened.

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A radio sports commentator, describing Novac Djokovic’s latest tennis success remarked that it was all the more special since the star had suffered a bad year, what with the death of his grandfather ‘and the illness of his current father’. It left me wondering how all his other fathers were faring, health-wise.

It’s a chuckle muscle stretcher ... go on have a laugh ... Control+Click the picture to follow link.

Random words: artificial, standard, wire/Wyre, fresh-air, Mandarin, Paisley, indescribable, finishing, fatigue, no 150 words Assignment: Preparations 400 words 2012: RBW FREE e-books NOW PUBLISHED on RBW and DynamicPage.aspx?PageID=52

Steph‟s two FREE poetry e-chapbooks now published on risingbrookwriters and on RBW main site Next exhibition Oddfellows Hall 30th Nov—1st Dec

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CLIVE‟s three FREE e-books NOW PUBLISHED on RBW and issuu PageID=52

Dave strode down the street to the newsagents, returning home with his paper. Casting a look down the „Situations Vacant‟ column was uninspiring; van driver, TV aerial fitter, midwife. Not much there then. “Make no bones about it”, he thought, “being relegated to the bottom stream at school has severely limited my career opportunities”. Then he noticed one particular ad. „Businessman champions local talent. Do you have what it takes to join our successful sales team? Masquerade is the hottest perfume of the century. It virtually sells itself! Why not come along for a trial? Fill in a quick survey and we‟ll assess your suitability. Great earning potential for the right applicant!‟ He tapped the details into his blackberry. Dave opened a bottle of Muscatel and reached for the crisp Iceberg and a handful of tomatoes, for his lunch. “Tomorrow is another day!” he smiled optimistically. (PMW)

Taking another mouthful of gooseberry pie George regarded the picture of a periwinkle in a gilded frame on the wall beside him. He could see from his reflection in the glass that his face was pink with stress. He had to steel himself for the forthcoming interview. His hubris had got him into this situation and he could almost guarantee retribution would be swift. (EL)

„I cannot stress enough,‟ said the pink faced curate, „that marriage comes without a guarantee of happiness.‟ But, of course, George wasn‟t listening. His gilded locks were covering the wires to his ears. Angela might be wrapped in the excitement of the moment but engulfed in his own little world, George, whose hubris was often mistaken for dedication, was too busy listening to a recipe for Gooseberry Cheesecake on channel three: his mom‟s knitted jumper of periwinkle blue concealing the ipod in his top pocket. His dereliction of groom duty was swiftly noted, however, when the curate asked him a direct question. „What do I want out of marriage?‟ repeated George. His exact reply wasn‟t quite what the curate expected his face turning deeper crimson.

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George looked at the gilded case of the watch. It looked the business. “This could help me pull”, he thought. The man in the pub said it was a genuine Rolex, and a steal at £150. It even had a guarantee. “Better be swift if you want it,” he‟d stressed. “They‟re going like hot cakes!” The following week, George was leaning on the bar with his pint, chatting to Dave. He spotted a beautiful girl in a dress of periwinkle blue, which perfectly matched her eyes. “Watch this,” he told his companion, “and learn how to chat up a bird!” She let him buy her a drink, then came over to Dave, and began talking animatedly to him. George went a shade of pink and felt like a gooseberry. He flashed his watch impressively, but to his horror noticed that the gold plating had rubbed off and the tin showed through. Again, hubris had been his downfall. (PMW)


Nobles and similar Harffa -Ye Kyng. Not ye sharpest knyfe in ye drawer. QUEEN AGATHA (the tight fisted) don Key o’tee -Spanish ambassador to Court of Kyng Harffa .. Wants big toe back Baron Bluddschott (Stoneybroke) Gwenever Goodenough – Wyfe of ye Baron Della BluddschotT - Ugly Daughter of Baron Bluddschott. GalLa of HADNT - A Prince but Charmless Daniel Smithers Constable of Bluddschott Castle and maybe the COrowner of the County Old Maids Vera, Gloria and Bertha husband hunting sisters of Baron Bluddschott Evil Sherriff and Baron Morbidd up to no good MORGAN LE FEY SISTER TO KING - MERLIN THE MAGICIAN ye KnyghtS [they’re better during the day] Lancealittle, Dwayne Cottavere, Perciver Mailish (Narrator) PAGE to UNCLE BARon Bluddschott (probably Son by Wife’S SiSter) Religiouse Lionel, Bishop of Trentby keeper of the Mappa Tuessdi Abbot Costello of Nottalot, a Nasturtium Abbey where relic abides—desperate for pilgrim pennies Vladimir A monk from far off somewhere — Calligrapher Wyllfa the Druid Sorcerer Others Big Jock A Welsh poacher and SHORT wide-boy. robbin’ hoodie Another poacher and wide-boy. Peeping Barry member of hoodie’S gang of miScreantS CLARENCE the cook WANDERING TROUPADOUR None living The Ghostly Sword of Bluddschott Castle The Mappa Tuessdi ... Velum map of the known world bought in A bazaar in Constantinople for a few pennies BY VLADIMERE & COPIED oft times The toe bone of St. Gastric.

Daniel Smithers, the Constable of Bluddschott Castle, had one of the easiest jobs in the known world. He was employed to guard the Bluddschott treasures, but except for the priceless, large and extremely heavy, perfectly round table, there were none. Therefore, Daniel had time on his hands; time to mingle with the riffraff that gathered in the Pink and Green Duck Tavern; time to spend with one of the young serving wenches who worked there. Daniel was at the „Pink and Green‟ on the evening the four noble knights, Sir Lancealittle, Sir Dwayne, Sir Cottavere and Sir Percivere were charging around the tavern practicing their duelling skills. Henry, the longsuffering landlord, might have asked the Constable to intervene, but Daniel was entertaining his favourite serving maid in a back room. Henry waited and breathed a sigh of relief when the four noble knights staggered out into the night. Because it was helpful that both men kept abreast of the local gossip, Henry and the constable always spent time together after the tavern closed. On the night in question, Henry was able to reveal that there had been plotting in two dark corners of his tavern, one corner obscuring the noble knights, the other concealing the three scoundrels, Robbin Hoodie and his partners in crime, Big Jock from Wales and Peeping Barry from nobody-knows-where. The difference between the plotters was that, whereas the knights were getting legless, the miscreants were keeping relatively sober. Henry was quite sure that the outlaws were preparing for a spot of illegal poaching because the gang always went out on dark, dank nights when their tally at the bar was mounting up. Henry had reminded the outlaws of this financial problem, and had mentioned, quite innocently, that the tavern‟s stock of rabbit stew and venison pie was running out. At the end of the evening, Henry told Daniel that he was sure the outlaws had gone off to poach, but admitted he had no idea what the noble knights were planning. He put their excessive drinking down to youthful exuberance. If only Daniel had known what was happening at the Castle, he‟d have cut short his cosy chat with Henry and rushed back to catch the culprits in the act. Imagine if you can, how Daniel wished he‟d stayed dutifully guarding the castle on the night the famous, perfectly, round table was massacred. Picture the poor constable‟s horror when he returned and opened the door of the Long Gallery. Remember if you will, that Daniel was expecting to find everything just as he‟d left it and now visualise his distress at seeing the hideous, misshapen object that had once been the priceless and perfectly round table. Imagine the moment, feel the chills that ran up and down his spine.

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Although tired and worn out from a long night at the tavern, Constable Daniel Smithers closed the door of the Long Gallery and, more to hide his own negligence that uncover the culprits, he attempted to examine the crime scene for evidence. He decided that everyone would see that a sharp metal object had caused the huge pile of wood shavings and splinters that littered the floor. Immediately this presented a problem. He could hardly claim to have been on duty while such destruction occurred and neither could he accuse the noble knights because they were supported wholeheartedly by the famous and scary Trentby Druid, Wyllfa. Although Daniel‟s brain was sluggish due to tiredness, strenuous exercise and alcohol, the thought of the scary Druid inspired him. When he was asked why he didn‟t hear anyone breaking into the castle, wreaking havoc and slicing up the precious table with sharp metal instruments, he would say the destruction must have been caused silently by witches. Wyllfa the Druid would understand this and then it would be up to the religious leaders of Trentby to sort out the problem.

Since ancient times, Druids were a powerful and mystical bunch, acting as judges, doctors, diviners, sages and mystics. They were considered amongst the wisest and most respected members of society and Wyllfa the castle‟s Welsh Druid had no wish to change that. Since escaping from Wales due to an unfortunate scandal, one that Wyllfa strenuously denied by blaming the incident on witchcraft, he found sanctuary in the turret of Bluddschott Castle. Over the years he had become invaluable to the Baron, looking after his interests by secretly unlocking the hidden mysteries of the planet, appeasing the gods when necessary, keeping wayward serfs in order with a mention of curses, or promises of favours and teaching the noble knights, who gathered round the beautiful round table to uphold their honourable calling, by always behaving with gentlemanly good manners and fearless valour. If you are wondering how Wyllfa could keep the ordinary people in a state of awful respect in spite of the odd whispers of his past indiscretion, all you need to remember is that Druids, very wisely, kept no written records of their spells and practices, no notes of medicinal plants and such like. A Druid‟s clever tactic was to remain mysterious and appear to have supernatural and vital understanding of how the world functioned by never revealing the tricks of their trade to the rest of mankind. Bluddschott‟s wily Welsh Druid, like so many before him, wore a long white gown while working. It had a wide leather belt that fastened round his middle and on this he hung odd pieces of greenery, fungi, animal bones and other unmentionable parts, various essential and enchanted ingredients that, when mixed together in the correct proportions, would serve him well. When outside the castle Wyllfa wore a long, hooded cloak that covered him completely and, even with his hood pulled over his face, no one in Trentby would mistake him for just another pilgrim. Everyone knew who he was. The cloak added to Wyllfa‟s mystic and gave the locals hours of fun, waiting and watching for the wind to blow open his outer garment so they might catch a glimpse of what was dangling from his belt. Bets would be taken later at the „Pink and Green‟ on just what the Welsh wizard was up to that day. Daniel was breathless as he reached the top of the steps and knocked on Wyllfa‟s door. “DO NOT ENTER,” bellowed the rasping voice of the Druid as he quickly piled up the circle of hazel twigs he had arranged on the floor, putting them in an innocent looking stack near his fireplace. He removed the pig‟s snout and princely lock of ginger hair from his belt and, hiding them side by side in a small copper pot, he opened the door. “Something terrible has happened,” Daniel blurted out. “You‟re the constable,” retorted Wyllfa, crossly. “You sort it out.” Daniel looked forlorn and knowing that flattery was needed, he said, “It‟s beyond my power. I really need your help.” Wyllfa was intrigued, but felt that conjuring up a marriage between the really ugly Della and the charmless Prince Galla of

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Hadnt was problem enough even for him. “The perfectly round table has been carved up by witches,” said Daniel. “I knew it,” said Wyllfa, running down the stone steps and shouting, triumphantly over his shoulder. “I knew it. I knew it.” Daniel ran after him and both rushed into the Long Gallery. In no time at all, Wyllfa was on his knees, picking up the wood shavings beside the table and smelling them, sniff, sniff, sniff. “Witches no doubt about it,” he proclaimed. “They‟ve been trying to stop the Baron‟s marriage plans for his daughter since my quest started.” Wyllfa stared up at Daniel. “You didn‟t hear that,” he warned. Daniel agreed with a serious nod of the head and thought to himself so that‟s what the pig‟s snout and the ginger lock was doing in the copper bowl. “I was on duty, but they made no sound,” said Daniel. “How fortunate that you were tuned in to their evil intentions or the whole table might have been shredded by now.” Wyllfa crawled under the table, sniffing at more pieces of the evidence and Daniel flopped down on a chair with a sigh of relief. “You couldn‟t be expected to suspect such evil doings,” said Wyllfa, sniffing a larger chunk of wood. “They‟ve used powerful spells.” At that moment the noble knights crept guiltily into the Long Gallery to assess the damage that had been caused by their trusty swords. Constable Smithers took one look at their ashen faces and knew they were the culprits. “Our wise Welsh Druid is under the tale investigating the crime,” said Daniel. To Daniel‟s delight the hung over, noble knights nearly fainted when they heard this and to prevent any untimely confessions, he said, in a confidential and awe-struck voice, “our wise, Welsh, guardian is on the case. The gods have given Wyllfa special witch-seeking powers and we should all be eternally thankful to him for taking on this mysterious case.” The noble knights stared at one another, unable to believe their luck. This made Daniel smile. “As soon as he stepped into this room he diagnosed this destruction as the work of witches,” he continued. “But even before that, our clever Druid was working in his apartment lessening the witches‟ vile intentions. That is the only reason so much of the priceless table has been preserved. I hope the Baron understands this and rewards him well.” Sir Lancealittle, peeped at the Druid under the table and said, “Oh wise, Welsh wizard, someone or something drew us to the Long Gallery this morning.” Sir Cottavere bent down to gaze under the table. “If you have called us, venerable master, please know that we are here to do your bidding.” Daniel wanted to insert a little light relief at this point by saying that Sir Cottavere should be known in future as Sir Cutalot, but he resisted the temptation and listened to the Welsh wizard claiming that he had sent for the knights by transmitting his wishes through the mystical air waves that very few knew existed and even fewer knew how to use. He told the knights that they must guard the castle while he searched the countryside for plants that would enable them to sense the presence of destructive forces such as witches before they set foot in the castle. “Thank heavens you are on the case,” said Daniel. “This is too complicated for mortals such as us.” Sir Dwayne and Sir Percivere nodded their agreement. Holding a hazel twig in her hand and listening outside the Long Gallery door was Morgan Le Fey, the king‟s half-sister and mother of the charmless Prince Galla of Hadnt.


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Above the great stone fireplace in the great echoing banqueting hall of Wentalot castle, hung the Great Sword of Harrfa. It was reputed to have magical powers, and had hung there for as long as anyone could remember. Or at least, that was how it appeared. The truth was a little more complicated. About a year before our tale begins, King Harffa‟s servant, Sawdid had an evening of riotous carousing in the local tavern, with some passing hoplites. The ale flowed freely and inevitably, as men in their cups do, tale tales were told. The powers of the Sword of Harffa were extolled, not to say embroidered, by Sawdid and the possibilities of owning such an object were not wasted on the soldiers. They brought out their set of travel runes and a few dried animal entrails and suggested playing a few (innocent at first) games, allowing Sawdid to win several groats from them, before going in for the kill. And the rest of course, is history. Poor, stupid Sawdid lost, and gambled away what wasn‟t his to wager; the Great Sword of Harffa. He slunk, or rather, staggered into the great banqueting hall under cover of darkness, and somewhat unsteadily, removed the Sword from its fixings, and delivered it to its new owners, who promptly left with it, never to be seen by him again. Next morning, King Harffa called his manservant and enquired of him the whereabouts of the Sword. Sawdid had to think quickly; a difficult task for someone still suffering the effects of the night before. „Sire‟, he replied, „since the Sword has hung above the fireplace for as long as anyone can recall, I thought it time to take it down for spring cleaning. It is rather sooty, my liege, so, with your gracious permission, I shall dust it and return it forthwith to its former place of honour.‟ „Oh yes, I see‟, muttered the king. „Well be quick about it‟. „Your wish is my command,‟ Sawdid remarked, inwardly breathing a huge sigh of relief. He had at least bought some time, but how on earth was he going to get out of this one? He rushed from the castle to seek out Tomas, the local blacksmith. „I need you to fashion a sword,‟ he told him. „It will cost‟, the craftsman replied, rubbing the sweat from his forehead with a brawny arm. Sawdid emptied out his pockets. „How much?‟ A few groats few on the floor at his feet. When he had his answer, his toes curled up. „That much?‟ „Iron is in short supply in the kingdom,‟ the smith continued. „Have you not heard of the metal thieves operating in the realm? They‟re stripping everything bare, selling it for scrap and melting it down. That‟s the sort of world we‟re living in.‟ Sawdid did a quick calculation in his head. „If I pay you three groats a week out of my wages, I could clear the debt in say, twenty two years, four months.‟ „Sorry. I can‟t wait that long. I have mouths to feed. Tell you what. If you‟ve got an old item of iron, I might be able to recycle it. It‟s good to be green, Then you could pay me the balance of what you owe in say, twelve years.‟ Tomas suggested helpfully. Sawdid thought hard. „I know the very things! In the royal woodshed there are several old axes that

haven‟t been used for years; not since that Dutch Elm disease and Ash Dieback struck the royal forests and decimated them. I‟m sure they wouldn‟t be missed.‟ „Perfect!‟ Tomas exclaimed. „You bring them along to the forge tomorrow and I‟ll see what I can do. What sort of size are we talking about?‟ „Er, I‟m not sure‟, Sawdid looked puzzled. „Something like this,‟ he said, holding out his arms. „No one ever looks closely at the rusty old thing anyway. It just hangs there. Now this must on no account go any further. It‟s TOP SECRET. Understand? A matter of state,‟ tapping his nose with his forefinger, „Nudge nudge, wink wink.‟ „As you wish,‟ Tomas nodded. „Be here at dawn tomorrow. Before my other customers arrive. Matters of state will incur a further payment of twenty groats, by the way. See you in the morning!‟


Axecaliber There was considerable excitement in the servants‟ quarters of Wentalot Castle. A mysterious message had been received and the piece of vellum on which the four words were written with ink and quill, and which had been found on the kitchen doorstep, was being passed around from maidservant to manservant amid much scratching of heads. It read as follows:

‘TOP SECRET! S. Axecaliber awaits. T.’ After it had done the rounds of the entire household, and everyone had had a go at deciphering its import, it ended up with its rightful recipient, Sawdid, by process of elimination. Under cover of darkness, he retrieved the facsimile, and wrapped it in a sheep‟s fleece, to shield it from any prying, nocturnal eyes. When replaced above the great fireplace, where the original Great Sword of Harffa had rested for many years, Sawdid was dismayed to find that Axecaliber didn‟t quite fit the space allotted to it, and his rough and ready measurements had resulted in a shaded outline on the stonework which didn‟t exactly match the new sword‟s dimensions. The old sword had obviously been a bit longer. Still, hopefully no one would notice. King Harffa had seemed pretty impressed, and that was what counted. „Hm. I see you‟ve finished your spring cleaning,‟ he addressed Sawdid. „Yes, my liege. I trust the new sword, er, I mean the newly cleaned sword meets with your royal approval?‟ „Well, it looks a lot brighter than it did. Those Ajax pads that hawker sold us last month seem to have done a fair job. But I fancy it was slightly longer from hilt to point, as I recall. Though of course, the royal memory isn‟t what it was, as the queen is always reminding me.‟ „Nay sire. Your memory is like the rest of your royal faculties, in perfect working order. The slight, oh so slight variation is on account of all the accretions, sire. The build up of years of dirt and soot, all of which I had to remove. And, might I add that it is proof, if any were needed, that your eyesight is as sharp as ever.‟ „Hm. I hope you‟ve not rubbed away its magical properties.‟ The king accused.

Wyllfa knew someone was approaching his door long before they got there. The flights of stone stairs were a great leveller. Everyone was puffing and panting by the time they arrived at his door in the top most attic of the highest turret of Bluddschott castle. „Hello, old friend,‟ he said as Merlin collapsed into the room blue in the face and sweating. „To what do I owe this honour?‟ Merlin steadied himself by the fire grate and sank mercifully onto a much abused threelegged stool. „I‟ve found it!‟ Wyllfa wasn‟t sure if that was good or bad news. Merlin‟s research often had that effect. „And what would that be?‟ asked Wyllfa closing the door and sliding across the bolt. He wafted a sound proofing spell over the keyhole in case anyone was ear wigging as was the local custom. Merlin approved of the precautions with a nod and lowered his voice to a murmur. „I‟ve found the map!‟ Wyllfa wasn‟t too impressed. He‟d seen both new maps in the locality and wasn‟t impressed by either. Badly drawn copies in his opinion. „What map would that be?‟ he said keeping his powder dry. „The Mappa Tuesdii!‟ said Merlin as if that explained everything. „There are two ...‟ smiled Wyllfa spreading his hands in a gesture of resignation. „There are twenty three ...‟ sighed Merlin rubbing his knees. „But only one has the coded message.‟ „What message?‟ asked Wyllfa in surprise. „The message,‟ replied Merlin in a most annoying fashion. „The message that will release a thousand years of peace and prosperity and unite the land under the once and future king or his lineage.‟ „Oh that message,‟ nodded Wyllfa. Clearly his old friend had gone off his rocker at last. A couple of hundred years of trudging round the place doing one‟s best and being thwart at every turn will do that to a person. „So where is it?‟ said Wyllfa humouring his old friend. Merlin looked all round the room and said: „I could tell you but I‟d have to kill you or turn you into a toad.‟ „Best not then ...‟ said Wyllfa, who really didn‟t fancy being a toad again even though he‟d made his own hole in the moat in case he‟d ever need it again. „Now to business,‟ said Merlin, „How‟s your ancient Greek?‟ „I haven‟t got an ancient Greek?‟ said the wizard. „I‟ve a great uncle from Constantinople would he do?‟ „No, no,‟ said Merlin. „Can you speak Ancient Greek?‟ „Can‟t you?‟ said Wyllfa with raised eyebrows. „I could fifty years ago but I find the old memory isn‟t what it was. You‟ll see when you get to be my age.‟ Wyllfa conceded the point. Merlin was truly decrepit after all, and ever since he escaped from that place underhill where the White Witch had bound him in a spell of perpetual ecstasy, he‟d been a bit odd. „I‟ll do my best,‟ said Wyllfa. „But if I help you ... no turning me into a toad. I want a written contract, or no deal.‟ Merlin considered. It was a fair request. „Very well, I accept the conditions,‟ he said and with a flourish a scrap of vellum appeared from up his sleeve. Wyllfa provided the quill and ink and once the document was sealed with a blob of wax and affixed with both their seals the translation of the message hidden on the map could begin.

„So what do you make of this,‟ asked Merlin spreading a Home to Wyllfa document on the table. „I remembered it and copied it The Druid down later, so no-one would see.‟ „By Queen Mab,‟ said Wyllfa, „What have we got here?‟ Wyllfa started to sweat. It had been several decades since he‟d even looked at a Greek primer and his old friend, Zorba the wine trader, was long since dead. „My Greek‟s very rusty, and my old friend no longer walks the earth. As you know Greek traders came for maritime trade to Briton‟s shores far into the past. They were here before the Romans and kept coming ever since as well as staying to trade and study and teach - Greeks were the physicians to the Roman army and even came here to Bluddschott Castle when I was a youth. They had the knowledge of latitude and longitude.‟ Merlin let him ramble on. Wyllfa was dragging up memories and that was exhausting. „Ancient Greek has funny letter combinations for numbers. The number 5 has a „p‟ that is abbreviated so not the right Π π in look, so I‟ll ignore that and put a normal Greek P , it is too hard to replicate else, and you will find the Greek alphabet in a notebook I‟m using to prop up the shelf.‟ Merlin looked aghast at Wyllfa‟s cobweb decorated filing system. „In Classical Greece, they only had capital letters,‟ he added helpfully. „So do you think you might be able to use this message as a longitude and latitude for Atlantis?‟ Wyllfa gasped. Was it so near? Was this message the way to Atlantis? Could they be standing in the footsteps of giants and fairies?‟ Merlin was wandering away with the spheres in his head spinning faster and faster, „For example, some say Atlantis was near the Canary Islands situated 200 miles off the northwest coast of Africa at about 28 degrees latitude north and 16.5 degrees longitude west and so in capitals you‟d get ΚΗ but it will throw a wobbly by being in lower case that is unexpected, and the other is IF,E in capitals, and you can use a compass to show north and west maybe?‟ Wyllfa was struggling to keep up and the candle was flickering and his eyes were running and he hadn‟t had his dinner and ... „Greeks use a comma instead of a decimal point so for 16.5 you write instead as 16,5,‟ said Merlin to Wyllfa‟s annoyance, he wasn‟t a child, he did know that much ... „Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος This is ancient Greek for Atlantis island, with all the fancy marks that give it an olde worlde look to add to the 'gibberish' view and this, this I found in the message. Even I couldn‟t mistake this!‟ Wyllfa blew out a long sigh. What had he gotten himself into now? Suddenly, the toad hole in the moat didn‟t seem such a daunting prospect. „Does Morgan know what you‟ve found?‟ he croaked. „What d‟you think?‟ said Merlin.

„Knave, hither stand by me and if thou knowst it telling,‟ said a voice inside his head. Mailish woke up, sleep befuddling his brain. Somewhere outside the keep a cock was crowing an excited hello to the dawn. „What the ...‟ he mouthed rubbing his eyes. A vision of loveliness was hovering around the ceiling midnight blue locks tumbling round her shoulders, lips of cherries gleaming over teeth as white as milk, skin glowing like silken apple blossom. Mailish shook his head and opened his eyes wide. No. The vision was still there twinkling in and out of focus. Was he awake? Then the vision spoke inside his head again. „Tell me, what did Merlin say? Has he found it?‟ „Who? What?‟ muttered the page struggling to sit up from his cot. „Find what?‟ The vision was suddenly at his side a cold chicken like claw grasping at his throat, „What did Merlin say to Wyllfa the Druid? You were there! I know you were there, boy.‟ Now there was some truth in this statement of fact. He had been there in one sense of the word. Wyllfa and he had this game where Wyllfa was teaching him simple spells of transformation. He could with help turn soured milk into cheese, make black crispy leaves from a locked chest into a delicious hot drink and in return for this wisdom Wyllfa practiced his spells on him. So when Merlin stumbled into the attic, he was in fact being a busy broom and had neatly stacked himself into a corner and was about to be turned back into a page when all the funny business kicked off and then, of course, it was too late, and Wyllfa had forgotten him anyway. „Oh that Merlin,‟ he said. „didn‟t understand any of it.‟ „Never mind your limited brain function, dimwit. What were Merlin‟s exact words? Look into my eyes.‟ It was hard not to as they were only inches from his own and so deep a blue as to be almost black. As the boy was forced into a hypnotic trance his short term memory banks tried vainly to resist the will of the most powerful sorceress in the kingdom. „I knew it! He has found the code,‟ she cried wringing her hands. The boy slumped back on to his cot his mind whirling in turmoil. He had betrayed his friend. Morgan le Fey whisked from the chamber and with a wave of her wand cast an erasure spell over his closing eyes. What she did not notice was in that blink of an eye the spell was deflected by a ray of light from the morrow creeping in through the mullion alighting on the glass eye of the carved rampant crocodile adorning the Bluddschott family crest above the ancient fireplace, which had remained undusted ... errr ... undisturbed ... for five hundred years, and was being bounced downwards towards the becharmed boy and thus blocking the wafted erasure spell. As the youth drifted off into a fitful slumber, on the chimney breast the prancing unicorn which stood upright on the crest in attendance on said crocodile seemed to smile at the couchant dragon lying across their stone-carved feet.

Assignment: PMW

Twilight. The blue hour that artists love, When light is ambient, soft, Incandescent, pearlescence. Light laps away, slowly, Idling to be gone. Gentle, quiet time of evening. Half light, half dark, heat dissipates, fades.

Faith Hickey image

Day Dreaming

It's Life

Look down into the stream with the wonder of a child watch the light play on the ripples as the sun catches the tiny scales of a minnow. Movement is constant, forever changing the shapes of the pebbles, Hear the melody of the water swirling, now gentle, now urgent in its need to discover fresh pathways. Flooding after rain, changing colour with peat settling back into it's gentle rhythm twinkling and splashing along the gravel bed.

Is there a pattern to life Are all the incidents planned By a power I don't understand. By taking the left hand fork in the lane Am I destined to be unaware of what the right hand fork offers. I sit on the bank and wonder as the sunlight sprinkles patterns on the path. The sun is climbing I must decide this is not a game, It's life.

Celebrating next of kin Invisible Love

Granny's faced was round and rosy, soft warm skin and smiling lips Grandpa had a grizzled beard told us Although you are gone from me I feel you tales of sailing ships. are near Uncle Peter always busy had no time for When decisions need making I rememchildren's games. ber your care. Auntie Josie in a tizzy couldn't remember You steady my hand when I'm signing my any names. name Brother Conrad's handsome face gave Behind to guide me, always the same. him the chance to star on Broadway. You were ever the cautious one Sister Ethel not so lucky made do with Made no rash decisions what others threw away. You calm my emotions, lift up my spirits. Cousin Joe, here's a case runs a fish I know you are here your presence is all stall in the market Not just that picture on the wall. Bought four by four wheels, showing off, couldn't find a place to park it. Tracy's baby number six, surely this is one too many Never mind it's called a family How about a kiss for Granny. Issue 264 Page 16

The Cows Have Got a Leader The cows have got a leader, and she watches all the while, She knows exactly what ya doing, sometimes make you smile, Only got to touch the gate latch, and up will go her head, And walk towards the gateway, without a word being said. Go to count them every morning, and check that they're all okay, They think they want a new field, and walk off all that way, Oblige them at your peril, as they mob you round the gate, The fencing‟s got to be strong, if you've got to make them wait. If more than one walks in the field, leader walks the other way, Takes the whole lot with her, she must know its testing day, Got to walk round whole damn field, head them to the gate, Seems that they have forgotten, and vet is here by eight. Leader walking off right way, the others following her lead, Off towards the gateway, but they're gathering speed, All stop short of going through, and start to circle round, A young one makes a break for freedom, loose the lot confound. A bucket with a bit of corn, the leader‟s up for that, Always first one at the trough, and give her a little pat, She follows where you walking, out off out down the lane, Other think they're missing out, and follow once again. So cherish your old leader, she can save you a lot of time, Show the young cows where to go, while she's in her prime, Miss her when she finally goes, to meet her maker's bullet, End up as tough as old leather boots, n' fill a of pack of suet. Countryman Owd Fred Footnote: Unfortunately Chocky being the oldest (and wisest) cow died after having her calf this spring, it left us to hand rear her calf who is turning out to be a "chip off the old block".

In the picture extreme left Chocky is with her spring 2011 calf, her ninth. This spring’s calf was the tenth and has been hand reared along with two more mates I bought in to keep her company. (She is the red one, we call her Caromell ) Caromell had a bad start because she had no colostrum (the cow’s first milk) which is so important for the newborn's immune system, but she is over the worst now.

Can you remember your first job? Or ... Were you „called-up‟ to do a stint of National Service?

If so please send in your memories for the 2013 memories project asap. We hope to be able to collect enough material to produce an e-book of memories. As we no longer have the funding, or staffing, to go on a community tour collecting memories then we will have to think laterally and produce the project in another way. If you have old photographs that would be great ... scanned in and sent as jpegs please. My First Job Did you work as a Saturday girl, or boy, while still at school? Did you become an apprentice? Did you start in the family business? What princely sum were you paid for long hours? National Service Brasso, blanco and bull? Remember all that? Nissan huts and square bashing, how did that appeal to a Teddy Boy? How much of a culture shock was this? Did you go anywhere interesting? What did you learn from the experience? Were you the square peg in the round hole? In retrospect did you gain anything from the time served? Issue 264 Page 18

This book won‟t write itself ... We need your memories!

First job: It was 1935, our country recovering from the slump and strikes of the twenties, Europe still in ferment with the Spanish civil war and the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. Non of this was in the forefront of my mind, at fifteen years old and very disappointed at having to leave school, I joined the search to find work. I had no qualifications to offer as I had been three years into High school and expected to go on to eighteen for school certs and a possible place in college, I was very unhappy, but many times since I have found others in similar circumstances. In a family of limited means boys had first priority for education, girls helped the family income until they married and had their own homes. So every evening I scoured the situations vacant columns in the Birmingham Mail. writing letters, going for interviews, being turned down every time because my arithmetic was hopeless. A love of music and singing or playing left wing in the hockey eleven was not what an employer was asking for so like many others I turned to shop work which in those days meant general dogs body, training for retail had not yet begun. It was in a shop on the main road in Smethwick where I started a Ladies and Gents tailors and outfitters, I was given a brown crepe de chine short dress to wear which I put on each morning and took off in the evening, Myra the lady in charge wore a long dark green dress which swished round as she moved there were yards of material in it and I thought how funny as it was to be in an evening gown like that. I found out later that as she was trained in a city shop it was the normal wear. My wages were 7/6d per week, the hours were 9 till 6 weekdays,9 till 8 on Saturday with half day off on Wednesday. As I cycled everywhere I went home to dinner and even to tea on Saturdays. I was happy to have some pocket money and as I gave Mother 5/- I had 2/6 to buy things I wanted, there was that new white chocolate of Cadburys to try and I joined a lending library at 2p a week. In the shop my first job every morning was to sprinkle the carpets with stuff called Dusmo which was a mixture of sawdust and something moist. as it dried I had to vacuum it up again. Window cleaning was also my job standing on a stool to the plate glass windows but cleaning the managerâ€&#x;s car was not what I had anticipated. When I realised my bike was in need of replacing there was a shop next to where I worked which offered hire purchase and so I chose a new bike a Humber Gold Streak model and paid for it at 6p. a week. From Myra I learned a lot about shop work, how to always smile and try to remember a customers name, how to gently flatter their choice of colour and fit. Nnear to the shop lived a lady named Mrs. Penny who was the alteration hand for the ladies clothes, After Myra had pinned up any alterations needed I would take them to Mrs. Penny. her kitchen was usually full of steam from the pressing irons which were heated on a strand in front of the fire.No electric irons then as the weight of the iron did the job well.I loved going round there in the Winter, Mrs. Penny always made cocoa for me i think she understood how I felt about my job and how I was really a square peg in a round hole. The Gents side of the business was mostly tailoring which meant made to measure suits, there were shelves stacked with bolts of cloth from which the customers chose their favourite, although often it was a wife who decided. The tailor Mr. Higgings worked upstairs, as the place had once been a house the upstairs rooms were small and the cutting table filled the room, how he worked in such a cramped space must have been typical of many people in the thirties. I would linger over taking a message to him long enough to see him lay out the fabric and use cardboard patterns, then chalk round them as his guide for cutting out. His patterns were so much used as to be falling apart. Then he basted them together ready for a customer fitting which was done in the shop by the manager himself, I don't think that the customer ever saw Mr. Higgings. After the fitting the suit went to an out worker, that was a machinist working in their own home again someone who the customer would never see. After a year in this job I was sixteen and asked for a pay rise which I was refused. So there I was job hunting again. ((EH)

Jeanette Winterson calls for library expansion programme paid for by global company patronage

January date for Durham County Council library cuts news/10057115.January_date_for_library_cuts/ THIRTY-eight public libraries will see their opening hours cut from January 2 2013. Facing funding cuts of nearly £190m, Durham County Council‟s cabinet voted in July to reduce library opening times to 36 hours a week at 11 town centre libraries and 20 hours a week at 27 rural community libraries.

Broadfield Library, in Broadfield Barton, temporarily closed for a month on November 2 while self-service machines are installed. WEST SUSSEX installs self-checkout machines for checking books in and out — job losses were feared

CILIP: 'library e-lending should be free 24/7' The Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has said that e-lending in libraries should be free of charge, with customers able to download books remotely, 24 hours a day. ... Read full article at above website

New chapter for Dorset libraries THE new year will mark a new era for seven Dorset libraries as they begin life under community management. Final arrangements are underway after Dorset County Council ceased funding to the facilities and agreed to hand them over to the control of communities. The handover process has already been completed at libraries in Burton Bradstock and Charmouth. Those at Chickerell, Puddletown, Wool, Colehill and Stalbridge will be transferred to the communities early next year. .... Read full article at above website

Birkdale Library Action Group are trying to save their library “Option B means that more than half of Sefton‟s 13 libraries would close. Southport would lose Birkdale, Ainsdale and Churchtown Libraries, leaving just one library, in the town centre, to serve the whole town.”

Assignment. No Man‟s Land. PMW The last foreign holiday my husband and I were able to enjoy together before he became too ill to travel, was to Montenegro, in the spring of 2008. We went with our favourite travel company, Saga, with whom we‟d had many happy holidays in the past, and through whom we‟d made many lifelong friendships. The coach picked us up at the airport, in Croatia, because at that time, Montenegro didn‟t have an international airport of its own, and we began the long drive to our destination of Budva. The journey was quite exciting and involved crossing a river by ferry and travelling through parts of Croatia and Serbia, with of course, the inevitable security and documentation checks at border controls. But the strangest and most fascinating part of all was when we crossed briefly into No Man‟s Land. The border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, in the North West corner of Montenegro, crosses the Durmitor Forest and national park, by the Piva River. This quarter mile stretch of disputed territory came into being after the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991-92 and gave me an extraordinary feeling of temporarily ceasing to exist, or being on another, ethereal plane. Eastern Europe has many fascinations. Montenegro itself is an emerging nation, struggling with its Communist past, dragging itself into the 21st century, and striving to become a member of the European Union, but still with many of the tell-tale signs of its inglorious, poverty-stricken history. It seemed a million miles away from the usual holiday destinations we were used to, and yet the friendliness and courtesy of the inhabitants could not be denied. For many reasons, a most interesting and enjoyable two weeks. Article about Durmitor National Park The scenery in Durmitor National Park is breathtaking. The parkland was formed by glaciers and is traversed throughout by forest, rivers and underground streams. Along the deep gorges of the Tara river canyon, dense pine forests are interspersed with many lakes and are home to wild boar, brown bear, wild cat, eagle, black grouse and partridge. This area of stunning natural beauty also harbours a wide range of flora and has one of the last areas of virgin black pine forest in all Europe.

The Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) is a subspecies of brown bear, found across northern Eurasia. The Eurasian brown bear is also known as the common brown bear and the European brown bear. Source Wikipedia

Issue 264 Page 21

Childhood remembered ... If you ever had school dinners in the 1960s you’d have had the tummy filler, Spotted Dick, probably served with thick skin covered custard. This is a suet and dried fruit steamed pudding. The only tricky bit is watching the steaming pan so it doesn’t boil dry. If using a glass bowl stand the bowl on a jampot lid so the glass bottom doesn’t come into direct contact with the saucepan. What you need 300g/10oz plain flour (it’s no good to use SR flour — too soft) 2 teaspoons baking powder 150g/5oz shredded suet (beef or vegetable it doesn’t matter which) 75g/3oz caster sugar 110g/4oz currants (or any dried fruit will do) Zest of one large lemon 200ml/7fl oz milk (personally I use an egg/milk combination but that’s not the traditional way) What you do Place the flour, baking powder, shredded suet, caster sugar, currants and lemon zest into a bowl and mix together. Add the milk and stir to a soft dough. And that’s it—really easy. Grease a pudding basin with margarine and put the mixture into the basin. Now the tricky bit ... Cover the basin with a piece of folded greaseproof paper. Make a pocket fold so the rising pudding has got room to expand. Tie around the top edge with string and then place a tea towel over the top and tie with string — some folks use tin foil but a cloth covering with a string handle is the traditional method. Place the basin into a large saucepan and fill above half way with water. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and then simmer for about two hours. Watch this pan... so it doesn’t boil dry top up with more boiling water as necessary. © Rayvaughn | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

To serve, slice into six wedges and pour on some warm custard.

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THE SONG OF THE CHIROPODIST Toes all day, ohh what a way To earn a crust, as I must. Corn and callous, Verucca too Smelly feet from posh shop shoe. I trained for years to do this job, Why can’t I be a dole queue slob? The money’s better, I hear you say, But I wait months for my pay. By appointment to you I call, Then I’m left standing in the hall. ‘Ohh is it him,’ I hear, from your lounge the cry come clear. ‘Bother I’d forgot the day, with a cheque I’ll have to pay.’ I wish that I could forget too That would have you in a stew. You’d hobble round on poorly feet Wincing all along the street. If only you would learn to buy Shoes that fit. Not those that fly! Silly sandals are NOT the thing, for England, till the end of spring. Welly boots are just as bad; as athletes’ foot can drive you mad. Please treat your feet, now here’s a notion! Nightly with some nice hand lotion. Then let the poor chiropodist. Get to the next one on the list.

Issue 264 Page 24

THE LONG TERM WEATHER FORECAST Some dirty days shall have December Also July to November And months with days that number 30? Half as wet and twice as dirty! Excepting February alone, with gives us cheer, the 29th comes wet but each fourth year. The forecast is of fog and ice, rather pretty. Aren’t they nice? The trees bedecked with frost and rime. The gritters working overtime. The Summer that you wish where here; there could be sunshine. Late next year. The sun will shine! You cry out loud. Of course it will. Above the cloud. But never fear it will get warm, If you go to Benidorm The farmer he will plant the spud. Once he’s been rescued from the flood. May Day is the time for cheer, with hail stones pattering in the beer. June’s the time for summer light. The 21st, about midnight. The crack of leather on willow will resound, from the DVD at the cricket ground The out field’s wet, the pitch is worse. The groundsman’s off with the District Nurse. All thing considered, and all things said, I wish that I’d have stopped in bed!

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Issue 264 RBW Online