Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Life Coach

by Michael Bloor

(first published Grey Sparrow Journal, Issue 40, July 31st, 2022)

I believe quite a lot of people chat, from time to time, with their deceased relatives. Myself, I’ve often chatted to my dad, especially when stuck in traffic. But I imagine that chatting to Samuel Taylor Coleridge is more unusual.

Unusual, but understandable in my case. I’ve been mildly obsessed with Coleridge for fifty-odd years, ever since I read that line, “Five miles meandering with a mazy motion.”

What we mostly chat about these days is my mobility problem, namely that I can’t walk past my local pub. Previously, we’ve agreed on throwing out my home-brewing kit. I now drink water or squash with my meals. And I only buy-in booze if I’ve got guests. I’ve told Samuel that the mobility problem is now The Big One: crack that and the sunlit uplands await. I’m setting down the gist of the discussion we had, on the hard road home after closing time…

“Urrrggh. What a bloody waste of five hours and thirty quid. Why? WHY do I keep putting things off? And where’s the attraction in that bloody pub??”

“Indeed, sir. I did mark most particularly the ‘Person from Porlock’ who explained to you how to replace the sash in sash-and-case windows.”

“Jeez. Don’t remind me, Samuel. Why? WHY didn’t I just drink up and go??”

“Let us confabulate, Sir, and seek a satisfactory consonance.” Samuel paused and made a sound like that of drawing on a cigarette and exhaling the smoke. “If I may, I would like to offer a personal observation that may assist you. Oft times I have reached for the laudanum to soothe the toothache. And oft times to allay the rheumatics. But more often still, have I fled to the soporific poppy in despair and panic from the terrible specter of Work Undone. And worse still, from the looming, wrathful wraith of Work Only Half Done…”

“You mean…” [It’s difficult to interrupt Coleridge in full flow].

“I mean that, when you hear the old saw ‘the distance is nothing, the first step is the hardest,’ when you hear that blatant untruth, reach for your rapier. There is no thing more daunting to a man of good intentions than a distant finishing post. Speak not to me of completions!”

“No, no, I wouldn’t dream of…”

“Eighteen years, nigh on nineteen years, I struggled to find the occasion and the wit to finish ‘Kubla Khan.’ In the end, that beggar Byron persuaded me to publish it unfinished – an awful monument to, and reminder of, my incorrigible SLOTH.”

Samuel choked on the last word. I would have said something in consolation, but I too was struggling with a sudden emotion. My boyhood hero had supplied the diagnosis for my condition, and “sloth” is an ugly word. I walked on in silence.

***

Kind reader, you are no doubt wondering how it was I turned from sloth long enough to complete this fragment. Providence smiled on me: the pandemic came along and the government closed the pub.

The Next Morning by Michael Bloor

(first published in Literally Stories, June 28th, 2022)

He woke abruptly in the lonely bed. It was still dark. The dolorous memories of yesterday’s events knotted his guts and sent him to the bathroom. Downstairs, he fed the clamorous cat and chucked more fuel on the stove – autopiloting.

A pause and a deep breath to consider matters. He switched on the outside light and glanced out the window: as the forecast had predicted, it had snowed overnight, but it was that wet, sticky stuff. No danger of serious drifts on the roads. Last night, just to be on the safe side, he’d driven the van up the track and parked it in the lay-by on the main road. So he would be able to get into town alright. But he wouldn’t go into work, he’d just go into the hospital for the afternoon visiting hours. He’d missed too much work already, but he knew he couldn’t cope with colleagues’ kind and concerned enquiries.

He put some bacon in a pan on the stove and cut a couple of slices of her bread, taken out of the freezer the previous night. After breakfast, he had the strongest craving for a cigarette that he’d experienced since giving up some months ago. He had to get out for a walk. He pulled on his wellies in the porch, fed the hens and the geese, and headed down to the river.

There was pale gold among the clouds in the eastern sky. From the bottom field, he watched the snowplough go past on the road, followed a minute later by the school bus. It stopped beside the lay-by for young Alistair Forbes from Auchenerno Farm. He was fond of little Alistair, but that morning he couldn’t bear to watch him climb aboard. He turned quickly away into the trees.

His were the only footprints in the snow on the path down to the footbridge. He took pleasure in this – putting his imprint on the Earth. The trees were mainly beeches, with a scattering of rowans and scots pine: the smooth boles of the great beeches stretched upwards like a prayer. He was breathing more easily. He reached the footbridge, rested his elbows on the handrail and gazed downstream.

Her smiling post-operative murmurs came back to him. And the kind but empty words of the staff. He tried to concentrate on what he would say when he phoned his and her parents.

Downstream, where the river turned east, the early morning sun now flashed on the white foamed rapids. He looked below to the deep water beneath the bridge, to the inky complexity of the fluid swirls, upwellings, and the little stretches of tranquillity.  He treasured those patches of  tranquil water.

To his left was the spot where he would sometimes fish for trout, as a treat for her. Or as a peace offering. He realised that he needed to buy some flowers. On his walk back through the trees he would find and cut some rowan twigs still bearing berries, to mix in with the flowers. She had once told him with a smile that rowans were said to ward against evil.

Yesterday, he had only been afforded a brief time beside his daughter’s incubator in the Low Birthweight Baby Unit – his daughter still unnamed and weighing less than a bag of sugar. He was hoping he’d be allowed longer today. A foolish thought repeatedly snagged him: because she was so small that he hadn’t been able to tell whether she had fingernails. He’d be able to take a proper look today.

The Trip to St Andrews by Michael Bloor

(first published in Free Flash Fiction, 17/6/2022)

Dr. Ernest Mathewson was eating an early breakfast. He was about to head off to the University of St Andrews to examine a postgraduate dissertation. It was a longish drive from Glasgow and the external examiner’s fee was a joke. But, as he’d patiently explained to Mrs Mathewson, he’d accepted the invitation more than six months ago. And it wouldn’t be fair to the examinee to postpone it at the last minute.

Mrs Mathewson’s response was delivered quietly but with feeling: ‘No, I’m the one who’s being told at the last minute. Well, if you’re intent on clearing off to St Andrews for the day, when my parents are holidaying with us, then the least you can do is to give them a lift. They can have a day-trip, have a look round the harbour, the abbey, the links and so on, while you’re messing about at the university.’

#

He found it was no hardship. Apart from one rather inconvenient toilet stop for his mother-in-law, he quite enjoyed the car journey.

The examination itself was routine: the dissertation was workman-like rather than brilliant, but there was no doubt that it deserved to pass. The obligatory pre-examination lunch in the university’s staff dining room was a bit too Spartan for Ernest’s taste. But he enjoyed the post-examination chat afterwards over coffee in the internal examiner’s office.

They hadn’t met previously, though each knew the other’s work. They found that they bonded over a near-homicidal common dislike of the recent post-modern turn in historical scholarship, whereby scholars chose to focus, not on the analysis of historical events, but rather on analysing how previous scholars had chosen to report them. The afternoon flew by and Ernest, glancing at his watch, realised it was high time for him to depart. A job well done.

The journey home was uneventful. As Ernest pulled into his driveway, and stepped out of the car, he was surprised to see his wife fling open the front door. ‘What the hell have you done with my parents?’

An International Incident

By Michael Bloor

(first published in The Drabble, 15/6/2022)

In 1934, Derby County FC toured Germany, invited by the German Football Association. A year previously, Hitler swept to power, banning all other political parties. The manager told the players that the British Ambassador had insisted that, prior to kick-off, the Derby team must line-up with their opponents and give the Hitler salute.

Inside the packed stadium, the team lined up and duly raised their right arms in salute. All except the goalkeeper, Jack Kirby: Hands on hips, he turned and faced in the opposite direction.

To defy everyone, alone, in full view, far from home – that’s true courage.

Role Call

by Michael Bloor

(first published in the Potato Soup Journal, 15/5/22)

Working at Larchwood House suited Ben very well. Ben had trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. But four years after graduating from RADA, the only acting job he’d been offered was in a Christmas panto at the Wirksworth Empire: he played an Indian Chief who would appear at various junctures in the play, raise his right arm and say ‘How.’ A markedly wooden performance was required and duly delivered. 

Larchwood House is a residential care home run by a charity along the lines that residents with different disabilities can assist in each other’s care, on the mutual aid principle. As a member of staff, Ben now found himself performing multiple roles in every single shift: to Joy (disturbed adolescent) he was The Favourite Uncle; to Tony (learning disabled music-lover) he was The D-J; to Arthur (Down’s Syndrome) he was The Father Figure; etc., etc. Though his audiences were small, their reactions gave him a good deal of job satisfaction. However, he gave his very greatest performance, improvised and unscripted, on the night shift the Thursday before Christmas.

The staff member on the night shift was not required to remain wakeful: Larchwood House was supposed to function as closely as possible to the routine of a normal home. After doing a round of the house about ten o’clock, Ben would lock-up, retire to the tiny staff flat and take a book to bed with him. That evening, he found Arthur, as usual, in Annie’s room. Annie, a very elderly, aristocratic Irish lady with wandered wits but a kindly disposition, was already in bed, with Arthur (small enough to be mistaken for a child) squatting on the carpet beside her. He told Arthur it was time for him to get ready for bed, and not to forget to brush his teeth. And then he lingered for a minute or two chatting to Old Annie (The Interested Grandson Role). The House Warden had recently mentioned that, as a young woman, Annie had know W.B. Yeats. But that night she was too sleepy to tell Ben much about the poet: only that he was ‘a very silly man.’ 

The rest of the residents were still downstairs in the TV room. Ben stuck his head round the door, shouted ‘Bedtime,’ ignored the chorus of dissent, and crossed the hall to the front door. He opened it and stood outside for a moment or two, star-gazing. Like everyone else he knew, he could only recognise Orion, and regretted it. He backed into the hall, locked the front door, crossed over to the kitchen, noted what a good job Joy and Derek (epileptic with OCD) had made of cleaning up after cooking the evening meal, and checked that the back door was still locked. He then crossed back to the TV room and turned the TV off (more dissent). He told Joy to put out her cigarette (smoking was allowed downstairs, on the principle that overt smoking was less of a fire risk than covert smoking), and held the door open while everyone filed out. Last out was Tony who wanted to tell Ben all about the latest developments on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.’ This took a while and was the probable reason why Ben forgot to turn off the Christmas Tree Fairy Lights, over by the window.

Twenty minutes later, Ben settled into bed with Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Tender is the Night.’ Then the fire alarm went off. Ben jumped out of bed, pulled on his jeans, congratulated himself on remembering to grab the house keys, and shot out the staff flat and downstairs into the hall, which was already quite smoky. He unlocked the front door and he and the residents tumbled out onto the front lawn. It was only then that he noticed that he wasn’t wearing shoes. He started to take a roll call and noticed that Old Annie was missing. He rushed back into the house and found Annie wandering in her nightie at the top of the stairs. He guided her, both coughing, down the stairs and out the door. 

As they exited the house, the lights failed. Ben could see the flames licking the window of the TV room: ‘Shit – the Fairy Lights.’ At that moment, Joy threw her arms round him sobbing that it was all her fault (she thought that the cause was her inadequately extinguished cigarette). ‘No, it’s not your fault, Joy: it’s the Christmas Tree lights. Have you got your phone? Good, call the Fire Service. Where’s Arthur? WHERE’S ARTHUR?’

Ben headed back to the house, turned round, ran across the lawn to the tool shed, grabbed a torch, and ran back to the house again. The hall was now full of thick smoke, he groped his way upstairs, and checked Arthur’s bedroom. Empty. 

He stood there in the smoke for a couple of seconds, resolute but utterly non-plussed. 

Then, a sudden inspiration struck him, he groped his way along the landing to the upstairs toilet, opened the door and shone the torch inside. Arthur was sitting on the toilet seat, legs in the air, toothbrush in his mouth. It was time for Ben’s final role of the evening: he performed The Fireman’s Lift.

Last Journey

(first published in The Drabble, 24th April, 2022) 

By Michael Bloor

The stream gushed out of a tumble of rocks on the mountain-side, half-hidden by bracken and gorse. Down from the source, the stream threaded a shallow valley among the hills, swirling around alder roots. Lesser tributaries joined and mingled. Trout hid in holes in the banks.

A dam lies at the valley mouth. As the waters tumbled onto the plain, they crashed and churned to power the village and the surrounding farms.

Then the slow meander through fields of green and gold. Willow leaves danced and kingfishers flashed overhead.

Finally, the salt taste, as the ashes joined the moon-driven ocean.

The Otherworld Hiding Place

by Michael Bloor

First published in Literally Stories, March 30th 2022

Schiehallion, aka The Faery Hill of the Caledonians, is a magnificent, isolated, rugged, limestone ridge in Highland Perthshire, in the plumb-centre of Scotland. I’ve climbed it many times in the past, but now my arthritic knees deny me that pleasure: the jarring of the knees taken all the enjoyment out of hill-walking. So what the hell am I doing now, struggling along Glen Mór, on the south side of Schiehallion, in the November sleet, with a giant ship-in-a-bottle in my rucksack?

I’m here because of that ship’s bottle. I bought it at an auction, after I’d retired from the sea. We’d moved to a smaller house and decided, regretfully, to sell a couple of larger pieces of furniture. Included in the auction was my great-grandfather’s chest of drawers that had stood in my bedroom as a child. It had a secret drawer that used to fascinate me back then and I pestered my mother til she showed me how to open it. On impulse, I ‘d decided to attend the auction and maybe demonstrate the drawer mechanism to the new owners.

That didn’t work out: the new owner was an internet bidder. But I came home with a previously unintended purchase, the ship-in-a-bottle. It was, and is, a giant bottle – a jeroboam, containing a model of an early iron steamship. It had a screw-propeller and there was no Plimsoll Line marked on the hull. So I guessed it dated from the 1850s or 1860s. Its provenance was that it had previously been stored in the offices of one of the last UK-owned shipping companies, which had gone bust in the 1980s. There was no record of the name of the vessel. Strangely, there was just one tiny figure on the deck, with raised arms, dressed in a black frock-coat and a top hat; I guessed the figure represented the original owner of the vessel.

I was pleased with my purchase, but Dorothy wasn’t. She peered at it for a minute or two, shook her head, reckoned there was something creepy about it, and banished it to the spare bedroom.

A few weeks later, our niece, Ellie, came for a short stay. She’s the mate on a chemical tanker operating out of Grangemouth, and so she was naturally interested in the ship-in-a-bottle on her bedroom window ledge. She mentioned casually that the vessel was fully loaded, lying low in the water. She was dead right, of course: as a ship’s mate, the safe loading and stowing of cargo is her responsibility. But I was quite surprised: I hadn’t previously noticed that the blue-painted clay that represented the bottled sea was so high up the ship’s hull.

That led to a lunchtime discussion of the load lines marked on the hull of every contemporary ship, showing the safe level of loading of the vessel. I mentioned that one of the factors that had led me to date the model as pre-1870, was that it didn’t have a ‘Plimsoll Line,’ named after Samuel Plimsoll M.P. who had campaigned for a law to introduce safe loading lines, back in 1875. Dorothy listened, horrified, as Ellie and I discussed the elderly ‘coffin ships’ that unscrupulous owners had previously carelessly overloaded, knowing that if the vessels foundered and the crew perished, the insurers would still reimburse the owners.

That’ll be why I hate the damn thing,’ said Dorothy, ‘it’s a coffin ship.’

Ellie smiled. ‘Maybe that’s why the wee man in the top hat is waving? The owner knows he’s about to drown.’

I snorted my disbelief.

But, secretly, I kept a close eye on the model after that. And by the autumn, I knew that something inexplicable was happening to that ship: week by week, I could tell that the hard clay sea was very slowly creeping higher and higher up the ship’s hull. I could hardly credit it, but there could be no doubt: in a few weeks at most, the clay sea would be over the gunwale and the ship would founder.

And then what would happen? I made enquiries about the circumstances in which the shipping company that had owned the model had gone bust. The information I received was disconcerting.

Dorothy knew something was bothering me: one night, we lay in bed talking it over. We got up at one point and went to the spare bedroom to stare at the damn thing. It was more than creepy. We stared at the clay sea splayed against the hull and we stared at the top-hatted figure waving his despairing arms. Dorothy grabbed me. ‘That wee man, I’m sure he’s changed position!’

She was right: the top-hatted owner had shifted two or three centimetres closer to the bows. I had a sudden feeling of sick revulsion. Turning away, I muttered that I’d put it back in the auction.

Dorothy vetoed that: ‘No way, Alan. It could be bringing disaster on whoever buys it.’

‘OK. I’ll destroy it.’

‘No, no, no. That could bring disaster on us.’ She had a point. We threw an old duvet cover over it and went back to bed.

Eventually, we settled on a plan to get it right out of the house and into it a safe place where it couldn’t harm anybody. At the head of Glen Mór, south-west of Schiehallion, there’s a large cave, ‘Tom a Mhoir-fhir,’ the cave of the giant. I ventured into it several times as a young man. Some say it stretches a great distance underground, right under Schiehallion. It was said to be a faery dwelling place. And it was said that three Knights Templar once took refuge there from persecution. And it was also said that it’s the entrance to the Otherworld. The cave is marked on the Ordinance Survey map, but fools and the foolhardy can search the cave all day and all night, and search in vain – there’s a secret place I know in that cave where it’ll stay hidden til Hell freezes.

Tanker Talk

by Michael Bloor

(first published in Platform for Prose, March 2022)

Five days out from Kharg Island oil terminal, the Pride of the Solent held a steady South-East course through an Indian Ocean prostrate under the night sky. In the captain’s cabin, a grizzled old man pushed himself away from a desk crowded with papers and oddments of computer equipment. He stretched his aching back, grunted, and glanced at his watch: one more thing to do before he could turn in.

There were still unanswered emails from Head Office, instructions to prepare for the ship’s agent in Singapore. But this was not an administrative matter, rather it was a small duty to be discharged to solidarity. The old man was smiling as he shuffled up the stairs to the bridge: he was reminiscing. Aside from soldiers in trenches, there are none in the wide world who owe more to solidarity than seafarers. The old man was thinking about uproarious good times ashore in Rio de Janeiro, the awe of a typhoon in the South China Sea, the collective, shared, under-stated understanding of the pains of separation, the daft practical jokes in the mess, the superhuman efforts to repair a near-catastrophic engine breakdown in the Sulu Straits. No-one grasps our dependence on each other better than those who put to sea.

The old man entered the bridge, smiled and nodded at his second officer making chart corrections, and then walked outside – onto the starboard bridge wing. The warm, slightly moist, night air was like a caress. The moon had not yet risen, but the light shining out through the bridge windows was sufficient for him to make out the figure of the look-out, correctly positioned at the far end of the bridge wing – able to see the stern, as well as the bows, of the tanker. The old man waved a hand and came to stand beside the look-out. He kept his back to the bridge windows, so that his eyes became accustomed to the gentle dark.

He looked upward to the stars. So many stars, beyond all computation and imagining. Directly above them, the great arch of the Milky Way. He began to pick out the familiar constellations. Back when the old man was a cadet, use of a sextant was still part of the training and the stars then were the mariner’s guide and friend. He smiled and nodded to his old celestial friends, an habitual gesture.

For a long minute, he was silent. When he did speak, it was almost a whisper: ‘In my time, I have seen many sights – the Northern Lights behind the Lofoten Islands, glaciers calving their icebergs on the Greenland shore, my daughter taking her first steps – but there are few sights on the planet to compare with a starry night on the Indian Ocean. We are blessed to be standing here.’

The look-out cast his eyes upward. But he was born and raised in the haze of metropolitan Manila: the stars were no part of his upbringing. ‘Truly, captain, are we are blessed, do you think?’

The old man turned to look at the rating: ‘We’re blessed and we’re cursed. There’s no greater terror you’ll ever experience than a fire at sea, believe me, I’ve lived through it. There’s no greater strain than being the look-out on a vessel nosing its way up a foggy, busy, river estuary on an ebb tide – you’ve lived through it. The long hours, the break-downs, the foul weather… Remember them all, Danilo, my friend. But set against them, not just the food we put in the mouths of our families, but also the peace of nights like this, out on the ocean.’

The look-out still gazed upwards. The old man took a last, long look at the Choir of Heaven and squeezed the young man’s shoulder. ‘Me too, Danilo. I too was away at sea when my father died.’ He nodded and smiled, re-entered the bridge, and headed back to his cabin.

The Ominous Sweetie Jar

by Michael Bloor

(first published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, February 6th, 2022)

Ever since he was 17, Angus had been saving the tiny hairs shaved from his chin by a succession of electric razors. Now, aged 67, he had one of those old-fashioned, large, glass, sweetie-jars almost full of his own tiny hair-shavings – brown at the bottom, with a head of grey at the top, like a two-litre jar of beer.

He had no idea, now, why he had ever started collecting the shavings from the little receptacle beneath the shaver blades. But as he saw his collection creeping up towards the very top of the jar, he had a disturbing intuition that it would be bad luck to stop collecting, and also bad luck to reach the top of the jar.

He told himself it was a minor compulsion, no doubt age-related, and he could easily switch to collecting nail clippings if he ever found the shavings jar too discombobulating. Somewhat reassured, he flushed the toilet, washed his hands, wiped them on his jeans and wandered back to his laptop.

His incomplete essay was on The Writing Game, or ‘craft’ as he liked to think of it. He had centred it on Steven Price’s aphorism that writing should be a way to know, rather than a way to being known. But now that he thought about it, wouldn’t it be nice if writing could be a way to both?

Nice, but a tad greedy perhaps? At least, if this was to be for public consumption (i.e. his lady friend and his Auntie Jeanette), then he should maybe stick to the higher purpose. In his hesitancy, he began to wonder how, anyway, people in general (and Steven Price in particular) know that what they know is The Real McCoy? Who authenticates authenticity? And was that a good title for another essay?

Well, apples kept on falling, both long before, and long after, Newton’s discovery of gravity. There is, after all, a definite weight to reality, whatever we choose to think about it. Angus considered that thought and, in celebration of it, he firmly compressed the carpet with each foot in turn.

Then came the epiphany. He clicked ‘save’ on the laptop and walked back to the bathroom, collecting a large wooden spoon from the kitchen en route. Angus unscrewed the sweetie-jar and, carefully but forcefully, he compressed the hair shavings with the spoon.

He surveyed the sweetie-jar, now only half-full, and felt a great deal better.

Chess Nuts

by Michael Bloor

(first published in Potato Soup Journal, February 8th, 2022)

In the town chess club, the final of the annual Earl’s Cup competition was about to start, the finalists being Willie Anderson, the holder, and a new member, Archie Drummond. The club was a friendly, welcoming place, but there was a surprising coolness between Willie and the new member. Although Archie Drummond was indeed a new club member, he wasn’t new to the town, having been born and raised here before going away to spend his working life (profitably) in Hong Kong. Apparently, as young men, Willie and Archie had fallen out over a girl: there had been a memorable stramash in the Gents toilet at the old Mecca Ballroom. Forty-odd years on, one gathered that the ballroom bout was regarded by both parties as inconclusive.

Willie was setting the electric clock, with each player to make thirty moves in an hour, plus twenty minutes each to finish. Archie was studying the inscription on the solid silver cup, the oldest chess trophy in Scotland, presented to the club in memory of the Earl’s eldest son, Captain Albert Abercrombie-Smith, club champion 1876 & 1877, slain by Zulus at the Battle of Isandlwana, 1878. Silently, Willie showed the set clock to Archie for his inspection and was rewarded with a grunt of agreement. The traditional hand-shake at the beginning of the game was perfunctory in the extreme. 

Other games were being played in the clubroom that night. But, as they ended one-by-one, the players clustered around the black-and-white battlefield where Willie and Archie were joined in silent struggle. The pawns clashed and fell, the knights leapt forward and fell back, the bishops obliquely threatened, the castles took up their defensive positions, and the overbearing queens stalked the board. The clock ran on, the moves became more urgent and the competition entered the endgame: the kings emerged from behind their defensive ramparts and began a dancing duel. A couple of stray pieces fell here and there, but to no clear advantage. With less than a minute left on his clock, Archie managed to force his last remaining pawn to the back rank, converting it to a queen. Unsportingly, Willie played on, hoping to avoid mate long enough for Archie to lose on time. Archie mated him with just three seconds left on his clock. The audience, hushed until that point, now erupted with exclamations, congratulations and rival theories of how alternative endings could have been contrived. In the hubbub, the customary concluding handshake was somehow omitted.

After a short delay, the club president presented Archie with the cup and a photo was taken for the website. Willie had left the room, but his prostate often required sudden temporary absences. The night was concluded and we all streamed out of the club. Archie Drummond bore off his cup in his BMW, like a Russian Prince in a horse-drawn midnight sleigh. Willie Anderson watched the tail-lights dwindle down the Kirkgate: ‘Weel, weel, he’s carried awa’ the cup, but I carried awa’ Dorothy, bless her.’

Michael Bloor lives in Dunblane, Scotland, where he has discovered the exhilarations of short fiction, with more than fifty pieces published in Potato Soup Journal, Everyday Fiction, The Copperfield Review, Litro Online, Firewords, The Drabble, The Cabinet of Heed, Moonpark Review and elsewhere (see https://michaelbloor.com).