Churches and Ouija Boards

Dad was a religious man and enjoyed going to church, he also loved the social aspect of it. As a child we as a family went to church every Sunday. Beibng with everyone there made it feel like a family or a community that we fitted into and enjoyed the company of.

In the church hall we went to barn dances, attended shows, and musicals, in which we starred in. There were jumble sales to organise and attend, and I went to the youth club and guides in the hall.

Mum and Dad went to social evenings at different people’s houses. They even went to Benidorm with the minister and his wife. I used to baby sit their children.

The Rose Queen was a great annual event. My sister was Rosebud Queen at one time, and I was a lady in waiting to the Rose Queen hersef. Happy days.

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That’s me in the black and white photo on the far right. I recall having a boyfriend who was a biker and and I bit of a bad boy. I adored him but was hugely embarrassed to be doing this. I think my parents volunteered me. He never found out about it and at that time it was never the person I wanted to be.

We eventually moved away and although Mum and Dad went to other churches, they never quite got the same friendship and social events they had there.

I went to see The Exorcist when it first came out and it terrified me, so much so it put me off horror films for life.

In 2000 Dad got septicaemia and almost died. When he recovered he said he saw a tunnel and he was being urged through it by his mum who was waiting for him. Later he retracted that saying it was the drugs that made him say it. I think he experienced something but it went against what he believed in, so he denied it.

He lived for another ten years, and when he was told he only had a few days left to live, he was so brave. He accepted it was his time to go and to this day I wonder where he is, where he thinks he is, as its hard to accept him not being a conscious mind somewhere.

I’ve never forgotten him telling me about Ouija boards and although I don’t recall the full conversation, it inspired a story called They Came For Him.

There is an interesting article about Ouija boards here if you would like to read it. Meanwhile, They Came for Him is about a girl who goes back to a friends house to play with a Ouija board. What she experiences is will affect her for the rest of her life.

Here is a small extract from the story. If you want to share your experiences, I would be interested to here them.


‘Dad was now running in my direction. His face filled with fear. For one horrible, horrible second, our eyes met before he passed right through me. For that brief moment, I felt his core and spirit. It was part of me again. When he was gone, I felt bereft, like something had been torn away.

Immediately my skin turned ice cold. A raw blackness filled me. For a second, I couldn’t breathe, and then it was gone. I spun around and saw the spectre sweep dad into the road and under the wheels of a passing truck.’

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Train Journeys

One day while I was away in place we holidayed with the children when they were small, we came to a level crossing and the barrier went down to say there was a train coming. For one moment I felt the rising excitement I had as a child.

Dad used to let us get out of the car and stand by the gates waiting for the train to pass. The mounting anticipation as we heard it approaching was so exciting. The smell of the steam as the chug-chug-chug that got louder and louder. It was an absolutely thrill when the train went past. It was always huge and loud, and apart from covering us in smoke, it made all sorts of noises as it trundled by.

The carriages all and a corridor and there were compartments all the way along. When we were teenagers and we caught the train, if it was empty we used to think it was fun to travel in the luggage rack above the seats. They were made of strong rope that looked a bit like a hammock. It was so much fun!

In The Magic of Stories, which is launching this week, I include two fictional stories that came from these early memories of trains.

Joanna’s Journey is my novel set in the 80s because that was when the original idea came to me. A a girl got on a train to London and as it was full the porter took her to the first class carriages. Inside was a handsome guy who didn’t want company but then felt obliged to share. There begins a three hour journey where strangers reluctantly get to know one another.

The first story in the book is called Stranger on a Train, and it was taken from the premise of Joanna’s Journey and written at a time when I loved having a twist in the tail kind of story.

In this one Jenny meets Nino in a similar way to Joanna. She then goes on to have an affair with a rising rock star, same again as Joanna but this is not what you expect.

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Hidden Stories in Family trees

At the end of the nineties I researched my family tree and being the curious type, I ended up doing four, my parents and my other half’s parents. Each one totally fascinating and each had curious tales to tell.

My father was very dark skinned. Out of us four children, only my sister had the same skin tone. I remember going to cabaret shows in the seventies and eighties, and the comedian would say things – ay-up the Arabs have arrived!

His mother, my grandma, was also dark skinned, as were three of her six children. We were lucky enough to have a photo of her mother and it was clear it where it came from. When I researched the family tree, I could find nothing. Recently my sister did one of those DNA checks via Ancestry and Turkish blood came up. I’d love to find out who it was and the story behind in. Perhaps it was a illicit liaison somewhere.

When I did my mum’s tree, we already knew that her dad did not know who his father was. He was born in 1904 and it was always suspected that the father was the doctor she was a nanny to. On her deathbed my grandparents begged her to tell them who it was, she refused and took her secret to her grave.

Why? What harm could it have done seventy years later? I think I found the answer. Just before he was born, according to the 1901 census, she worked as a domestic servant to a large family in the town. They owned a business, the head of the household was also brother to the mayor, who was a local businessman. I reckon it was him, or one of his elder boys that did the deed, possibly against her will. There are many stories about domestic servant’s becoming pregnant. The family were, seventy years later, still prominent in the area and I guess she still felt some misguided loyalty. That would make more sense, don’t you think?

When I did my husband’s family tree, I already new he was an only son, of an only son. That made me realise my own son Ian, was the last in the Mossman line. The original Mossman was Scottish and he came to Manchester when his parent’s died to look for work. He married his landlady’s sister and they had three sons and a daughter together. Of the three sons, Robert, Harry, and James, Robert had one son, Harry had two, and James had two. Robert, was our line. Our of Harry’s two sons, one died aged sixteen tragically after a school sports days. The elder died in a prison of war camp during World War 2. James emigrated to Australia and was never heard of again. So I concentrated on James and found he had several sons, who had also married and had children. When I finally made contact it turned out the one I spoke to was also called Ian Mossman. What a coincidence!

My husband’s mother was interesting because she lost her mum to asthma when she was eight and didn’t have a good childhood because her father passed her around to relatives to look after. He was a hard working man. He was active in World War 1 and on the Homefront in World War 2. Eventually he realised his daughter needed a mother and married a woman he not love.

There are many more interesting stories in my tree, as I’m sure there are in yours. Is there any you want to tell us about?

Meanwhile, The Magic of Stories also contains poetry, and each poem tells a story. This is just one of them.

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Don’t tell a writer your secrets!

Sometimes the most embarrassing things can be humorous and I wrote something a little risqué by my standards. I also wanted it to be a little cringe worthy because we’ve all been in situations that have made our toes curl.

You know that saying, never tell a writer your deepest secrets? No? Well, perhaps I made that up but it’s true. They may write it in their book!

I’m guilty of that. Someone, who will remain nameless, once told me how she lost her virginity, and as much as wonderful things are written in books about ‘the first time,’ the reality is it is often embarrassing and messy. You always hope you’ll never see that person again, right?

If we collected stories of first times, it would end up being really funny simply because people keep that to themselves. They don’t want to share their inexperience or be made to feel foolish. I know I wouldn’t. The truth is we have all been there and hearing someone else’s stories makes ours less shocking. The more we hear, the more amused we get, do you follow?

I wouldn’t dare ask you about your first time and neither would I tell you mine, so instead I put a tale in The Magic of Stories, one I made up, with a little bit of truth in it!

Meanwhile I will leave you to read this amusing post entitled:

41 Things I Wish I Could Say To The Guy Who Took My Virginity

 

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My Sister Far Away

This week I’m launching my new book The Magic of Stories. There are fifty different stories all divided into sections depending on the genre. So there should be one you will like.

It wasn’t until I was putting the book together I realised all the poetry I’d included were simply stories in rhyme.

In 1988, one of my sisters enlisted on an experimental cultural exchange programme sponsored by the American Institute for Foreign Study. She left her hometown in Bury, Lancashire, on a the two-year programme to Massachusetts.

She eventually settled with a family of eight, and having been brought up with foster children, Joanne was well qualified. Our parents fostered for almost fifty years, so being around children was second nature to her. Joanne found she loved it so much that when the two years were over, she stayed on.

It was difficult for us, her family, because we didn’t see her again for six years. This was the end of the eighties, beginning of the nineties, so there was no Facebook, and very little internet. The only way to be in contact was by letter or telephone calls. The latter was expensive because it was all land lines back then, too.

I was the mother of two little children and she had her hands full nannying so letters were infrequent but we did write over a course of time. It was scary because I felt I’d lost touch with her, usually a phone call helped but I missed her like mad.

The family she was with helped her get a green card which meant that although she could always leave the country, she couldn’t return until she had it. When the card was issued, it meant she was an American citizen. It took some time to adjust to the thought that she was not going to be part of our lives any more.

During those years, I began to suspect she may be gay and wrote to ask the question. It seemed a long wait for a response. I was worried in case I’d got it wrong. Eventually, she rang and was pleased it was out in the open. It was a shock and one better done face to face but that was out of the question. It was never an issue but the miles between us made it one because there was always questions I couldn’t get answers too. These all resolved themselves over time. Now we don’t even think about it.

These days, communication is instantaneous and younger people take it for granted. I suspect some don’t realise it was not always like that. These days, Joanne and I share photos, text messages, and video calls. The distance between us is no more, I can ‘speak’ to her any time I wish. I don’t feel the distance and for all families apart, it has to be a good thing.

Her visits to the UK are frequent, and we’ve been over there, too. I’m glad people don’t have that strain of being apart any more. Important issues are easily discussed, and many of them are not an issue anyway simply because of instantaneous communication.

In The Magic of Stories book, I’ve written a poem especially dedicated to Joanne to show how I missed her, and still do. I don’t know when I’ll see her again but know I can video call her at any time.

I found the original article that appeared in the local paper and have included it in the book along with the poem.

I’d love to hear your stories of being parted from love ones, especially in a time when communication was an issue.

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Joanne and I in 2018 and us in 1982

 

 

I don’t like creepy things, do you?

Horror and paranormal is not something I read or watch. I get spooked easily and have a very active imagination. As I teenager I would be plagued by nightmares for weeks. As I grew up I knew to stay away from anything like that.

These two subjects are very big in the book world and there are plenty of people who love a good horror film. Personally I can’t understand why a perfectly sensible and normal person enjoys being scared or frightened. If that’s you, perhaps you could explain what drives you, I’d really like to know.

I wrote a story called Embers of Webster Street and it was about a girl dealing with her mum who suffered from dementia. It’s a difficult subject seeing someone you love forgetting things, and ultimate not always recognising you.

My Nana showed signed of it for years before it was recognised. We thought she was just a bit batty. She was a joker, liked to have a laugh, and I remember what day she was trying to get out of the car, stumbling or struggling a little and we laughed. She asked her if we were laughing at her, we stopped when we realised it was a serious question. Normally, she would have laughed too, and it was at that point I knew something had changed.

My auntie, her daughter, took her in when she could no longer care for herself. Eventually she was admitted to hospital and my sister and I went to visit. By this time she was no longer our Nana, just a shell of a person who couldn’t even speak. It was the strangest thing because she looked like Nana, she had the same eyes, nose and mouth that we knew so well. She was a funny lady, always talking, always joking and yet the woman in front of us stared with blank eyes. It was heart-breaking.

So when I wrote Embers of Webster Street, this was my main topic, only my pen took on a life of its own. It was supposed to tell the story of Jen, who feels tremendous guilt over having to put her mum in a home.  But my pen introduced the ghosts of all the people who had lived in the family home. How her twin sister didn’t see them and  and how her mum couldn’t accept it.

It turned out to be my first paranormal story.

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