Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Mystic detective goes to Cambridge

Paul was tired; weary; so tired he was beyond sleep; travelling on a slow delayed cross country train back to Manchester. It was dark but at least the Pet Shop Boys were on his I-phone. His trip to Cambridge had been mostly a waste of time but not completely as it had eliminated one area of inquiry relating to Frankie and had also opened up a new one. But so what? The gloomy song Suburbia seemed just right to resonate with Paul’s mood.

Travelling to Cambridge the night before he’d been hopeful. And even the hotel – recommended by Frankie – had not been bad at all. Neither had the restaurant with its camp style and food, and retro feel which added to his enjoyment. As did its name. I mean who in 2020 calls a restaurant Battleship Potemkin?

But the next morning his meeting with James had at first seemed like a right waste of time.
-          James, I’m glad you agreed to meet me.
James shrugged,
-          And to talk to me about him.
-          I’m only doing this for him …
Paul nodded,
-          What can you tell me about his relationship with Julia?
-          She was a right case … a real money grabbing bitch …She pushed him and pushed him … wanted him to get promoted and promoted, when all Frankie wanted was to teach his students. But that’s not where the real money lies. (The last words were almost spat out with – anger, resentment?)
-          So you first got to know him when his marriage was on the rocks?
James nodded,
-          He was so beaten down, sad to see it really.
-          Was that when?
-          When he got busted?
-          Yep.
-          Whose fault was it?
-          At first I thought it was her.
-          His wife?
James nodded,
-          But no it can’t have been.
-          Then who?
-          Can’t tell you.
-          Can’t or wont?
-          More than my life’s worth …Look I am sorry … and Frankie is a great guy but …
-          You know he got thumped last week?
-          Sure, that’s why I am even talking to you.
-          Is there nothing you can tell me?
-          OK... Look all I am going to say is this… Check out the Sons of Gideon.

Friday, 15 September 2017

More mystic detective

Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie was playing in the T Hive where Paul was settling down over a mug of mocha. It took him back to his childhood and his father’s love of Bowie. Music was one place where he and his dad met up. ‘Haven’t heard this song in years and it makes me feel a bit misty and spaced out inside listening to it again,’ said Paul to himself. And memories of being out with his dad in a rowing boat on the River Severn flooded through him. These moments of contact with his dad were precious to Paul – few and far between. Most of the time his dad was kind of absent – lost in some unhealed traumas relating to his army service in Northern Ireland during The Troubles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

His father had died in 2001 unresolved about his time in the Army despite the relative success of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. And it was as if he had passed on these issues to Paul to figure out. Paul’s own service in the police force had not helped. But somehow working now as a private detective seem to. Sometimes, indeed often, things could be resolved to some extent; not always how his customers wanted it to be but a resolution none the less.

And with regard to his friend Frankie and his recent beating, the question remained: was Frankie in the wrong place at the wrong time or was he a victim of a deliberate hit and if so by who and for what?
-          Did you get a good sight of who attacked you?
Frankie shook his head,
-          It was all over so quick… and it was dark… all I remember is that one of them had a sniffle.
-          Sniffle?
-          Yeah.
-          Broken nose?
-          Maybe.
-          Oh… just remembered one of them had a Welsh accent.
-          Welsh?
-          Yeah and not the sniffler. It was the way he said “Isn’t it?” at the end of a sentence, typical Welsh!
-          Hmm.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

More mystic

It wasn’t like Frankie to be late. He was usually so reliable that he was someone you could set your watch or even mobile phone by. Indeed, why not text or phone call? Paul felt a deep sense of unease as the minutes ticked by as he sat in the T Hive nursing a large cappuccino and gazing wistfully at the luscious cakes at the serving counter. But it was only 10.30 in the morning no time for a cake; maybe an almond croissant …. But where on earth was Frankie?

The door lurched open and a dishevelled Frankie staggered in and sat down clumsily and heavily in the chair next to Paul.
-          Pheeeww!
-          Frankie?
Frankie looked at Paul from a bruised and swollen face.
-          What the fuck happened to you?
-          I dunno  (He shrugged his shoulders and winced)… Well yeah I got the shit beaten out of me last night…. Or rather early morning …. In the town centre… Northern Quarter… near Al Faisal…
-          Who did this to you?
-          It was too quick to get a good look at them.
-          Them?
-          Them. There were two of them… A very professional job… Not enough to leave much damage – a couple of cracked ribs and a pain in the testicles.
Paul winced in empathy.
-          It does sound professional.
Frankie nodded.
-          But why?
-          Why Indeed!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Bristol poem

The train takes me to Bristol
My heart is travelling further
To be with you
But my mind says No
I wish they would pull together.

I have followed my nose
So many times
And ended up here and there
Building sandcastles
Collapsing in the stream of life.
And now I live in exile
And wonder where the time has gone
And who this old fool is
Who looks back at me
In the mirror of life
One day I must swap places with him
Until then I keep travelling on.

Sunday, 5 March 2017



“Tomorrow” she said. But that was always what she said to put me off; to deflect me; to shut me up. I glared at her but remained silent. What was the point of speaking? But God how I schemed and plotted inside. I had my plan perfected to a T. But would I carry it out? ‘Tomorrow’ was like a heart beat or the ring of a bell. And this time I would!

I threw a few clothes in a knapsack and raided my money box for a pile of coins and a few notes. Then I waited until she went next door for a neighbourly cup of tea and I was off. ‘Tomorrow Fuck that for a game of billiards’.

A bus ride into town then a short walk to the main road that led to the motorway. I stuck out my thumb and ten minutes later a red mini car pulled over.
“Where you’re going?”
“That’ll do.”
I climbed in and we were off. ‘Tomorrow’ – bollocks it was today and I was free; free at last.


Friday, 24 February 2017


Went to the regular 4th Thursday afternoon creative writing class at Elizabeth Gaskell House yesterday. The tutor was prevented from attending by storm Doris. So we managed well enough without him!
Here's a piece that I wrote for the class and read out:
I don’t know what I was meant to do. All I knew was that I had to escape my family and the small town I grew up in. I needed a job and computing seemed to be the coming thing in the late 60s.

Looking back I realised that I found out who I was retrospectively by looking back at what I did. But I never knew what I would stick at. I always wanted to be able to say ‘I am a whatever – medic, teacher, carpenter, builder, father, grandfather, husband’.

So I guess that I have gifts but I was never brought up or taught how to recognise them. First one in the family to go to university – it’s a cliché but no-one told me you can never go back.

So I moved on losing friends with no care in the world. Every new step forward was the loss of the old life, like shedding a skin or sometimes becoming a butterfly.

And now another transformation is in progress. It is simple to say ‘I am retired’ but it is not a state it’s a process and I am not sure what is emerging from the chrysalis.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Pressing the pause button

A weekend retreat with William West

 Dates: 17th – 19th March 2017

Venue & Cost: Whaley Hall, Whaley Bridge  £290

Life is busy with little time to stop and stare; and time marches on. We need more than ever to listen to the quiet voice inside us. Maybe you have heard this voice within a religious setting or in your own moments of contemplation. Or maybe you haven’t but really want to.

On this residential event we will take time to listen to our inner voice and also take time to share this. To help this process we will use simple writing exercises; consider some spiritual writings; times of silence and, above all, listening to, and being with, one another.

People are expected to refrain from using personal computers and mobile phones. We expect these to remain switched off apart a brief period before the evening meal unless there is a real crisis occurring.


The retreat will consist of:

                  times for brief sharing and reflection in pairs
                  some simple writing and drawing exercises  to help access our inner
                  times of silence to listen to the inner voice stimulated by short 
                    readings which could occur outdoors, weather permitting
                  some brief sessions sharing within the whole group.

The workshop is open to everyone. However, we wish to ensure that participants can make the best use of the opportunities offered by the workshop. In rare circumstances we may decide to recommend attendance at an event in the future.

About William
William is an experienced counsellor, trainer, workshop and retreat leader. He is a Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester where much of his research reflected his interest in spirituality. He is also currently a Visiting Professor in Counselling at the University of Chester. William has written extensively about spirituality and counselling and has also edited a number of books bringing together his own writings with those of like minded contributors including Integrating Traditional Healing Practices into Counselling and Psychotherapy (Sage, 2005, with Roy Moodley), Exploring Therapy, Spirituality and Healing (Palgrave 2011) and Therapy, Culture and Spirituality: Developing Therapeutic Practice (Palgrave, 2014; with Greg Nolan).  William is a keen cyclist, amateur poet and sings in the Manchester Community Choir.

To book your place, or for more information, contact Sarah Talbot;   tel: 0777 202 4653