The words hung between them like a portent. What did Davies want to know? He had thought about that question himself, even before Blundell had died in the yard of Kennixton Farm at St Fagan’s.

Owain Blundell had worked for the Assembly and before that for the Welsh Office, and with his knowledge of how things worked in the labyrinth of political machinery in Wales, he had been as well placed as any to help Davies. He hadn’t been unique in that though. There were many others who knew as much, and some who knew more. The problem for Davies was; the more they knew the more they were likely to be the target of his investigation rather than an ally. He had known Blundell was clean and that made him reliable, but what had made him unique was that he was both clean and already aware of the continuing interweaving of past and present, the reality of things the vast majority of the world had abandoned or never known. Davies didn’t have to explain, to cajole, to convince Blundell of the reality of what he was telling him and asking him to do. And now Owain was dead.

Davies felt a twinge of guilt for dragging Blundell into the firing line but only a twinge. Anger was his dominant emotion. Anger that what looked like his best lead had gone and anger that he was now forced into a line of action that could be infinitely more dangerous for him and less direct. It wasn’t as if Blundell had gone into the business unsighted. He had clearly been aware of some of the more arcane dangers when he arranged the meeting with Davies.

Kennixton farm had stood on the Gower for four hundred and fifty years before being brought to the folk museum at St Fagans on the outskirts of Cardiff. The museum had repainted the walls in the bright protective red under instruction from an antiquarian who happened, also, to be a druid. He had also very firmly recommended the planting of a Rowan in the garden. He hadn’t mentioned it to the museum staff, but this aided the locking of the spell he had rewoven as the house was reconstructed and painted. He had ensured that the carved figures inside the doorway were properly aligned and reblessed with mistletoe and birch before he left.

Owain had no doubt hoped these measures and the past mystical connections of the building would secure him from spiritual attack. Well, thought Davies, it was true no supernatural harm had ended his life. That had clearly been the physical work of man. A blow that had left Owain physically dead whatever his spiritual condition. Dead before he could tell Davies in person the results of his ferreting in the banality of the paperwork, that he had believed revealed so much.

What Blundell had managed to do before he died, was to conceal in thefarmhouse a flash drive holding thousands of documents culled during his work for Davies. In there, Davies believed, was the key to unlocking the conspiracy. How to use it was, so far, beyond him. The papers were unencrypted and perfectly readable but, as far as Davies and his team could tell, their meaning was far from clear. They appeared to be a collection of the normal documentation of government business. If there was a theme, a thread running through them Davies could grasp the end that would unravel it. The only solid confirmation of what Davies had had inklings of from the beginning, was one document, an internal memo between officials, suggesting the overarching involvement of the Goleudigion in something of extreme importance to the Government.

Davies, despite the nature of his day to day work amongst things living, dead and in between that were not generally acknowledged to exist, had considered the existence of the Goleudigion as a myth. There was something so silly about the idea of them that led rational minds to dismiss them, and at the same time, if they were more than a lingering fantasy they were almost too sinister to contemplate. The thought that they were real was so fantastic that he had no idea of how to start the enquiry through normal channels, even if such things existed within his remit. How could he trust anyone in the established order, if the thing had lasted throughout the years hidden in secret from even those tasked with investigating mysteries? Paranoia was the problem. But if they were real, it wasn’t paranoia, it was prudence.

Hence this meeting with Pendragon. He had put out tentative feelers to see if Pendragon would meet him with the aim of a temporary truce and alliance for their mutual benefit. Pendragon could of course be one of them himself, but the general tenor of what he was, suggested that was unlikely. He didn’t fit the profile of the membership in as far as it was known.


Given the widespread belief in the existence of an organisation bearing that name, in English, at least on the Internet, it was surprising that the profile on the books of the department was so thin. The vast majority of the Internet material, Davies put it at ninety nine percent at least, was the maunderings of neo Nazi fantasists and of deranged conspiracy theorists. As he had read some of that material he had laughed and wondered what the authors would make of the truth of his work if they heard of it. Probably dismiss it as fantasy, as he dismissed, with more justification, their nasty little anti-Semitic ramblings.

Pendragon sat waiting. Davies hadn’t really come to a conclusion about what to say to Pendragon even now, as he sat before him in the dark collections room in the National Museum. There were some things in which you had to rely on instinct in the moment, and he hadn’t known how he would feel until he sat here. He had said the word to provoke a reaction on which to judge the next stage. He hadn’t expected histrionics but he had half expected a sarcastic dismissal. If Pendragon were one of them, a simple way of deflecting Davies would be to mock him about believing in such silly myths. On the other hand if Pendragon knew nothing except the myth, he would not spare Davies’ blushes for believing in such popular hokum. His actual reaction suggested there was more to the matter of the Goleudigion in Pendragon’s view than simple myth. Davies hadn’t come this far to simply back away. He looked Pendragon in the eye as best he could given that the light was shining in his, Davies’ face.

‘I always thought they were a myth. It seems I may have been wrong. I want to know if your side of the hill thinks they are real.’

Pendragon had obviously had enough time in the moments in which Davies had made his decision. He answered without hesitation.

‘I thought you would know more than me. They are more on your side of the fence than mine you know.’

‘So they are real?’

‘Oh certainly.’ Pendragon paused and must have caught a hint of the scepticism in Davies’ face. ‘Not the New World Order drivel on the internet. Not the fantasy Zionist conspiracies of pathetic right wing fantasists.’ He explained. ‘But the real order? They are still very much alive’

‘And what is the “real order”?’

‘Good question.’ Pendragon said. ‘You’ve obviously read all the basic material? Done the standard research?’

‘I’m not sure there is any standard research on them.’

‘Oh be serious. You’ve read all about the groups known as Illuminati in the normal historical circles. You’ll have read enough of the gibberish on the net to discount that and no doubt you will have searched your own organisation’s records.’ He paused and Davies got the impression of a smile in the shadows. ‘How thin were they?’

Davies nodded in recognition of the accusation. They had been very basic indeed compared to the accounts of other secret societies and mystical groups. There had been the barest acknowledgement that the historical Illuminati had been active in Wales and fewer references still to a group going under the name Goleudigion. The records skated over their practices and hinted that they were a harmless and slightly deluded sub branch of Freemasons. The organisation’s hierarchy regarded Freemasons quite favourably, as at worst harmless, and at best a good thing for the binding of society under charitable intentions. Davies had no feeling about Freemasonry one way or the other. They weren’t the Templars of common mythology and they seemed to him to be a useful outlet for a desire for philanthropic deeds by stealth. However, whatever the common misgivings about them, they were hardly a very secret, secret society. Their halls were clearly marked and it wasn’t that difficult to join.

The sheer sparseness of detail about the Goleudigion however, had made him dig deeper, and the deeper he had dug the less benign that group appeared. But real leads to their current activities were very hard to come by. They had no halls on the high street, no charitable dances, no pictures of officers of the group in the papers. They lived far deeper in the shadows and appeared a lot less approachable than Freemasons.

‘You seem to know more about their working than I do. How can they cover their existence even from us?’

‘You know about Iorwerth ap Rhys?’ Pendragon asked.

‘He was our commander for the middle of the nineteenth century.’

‘He was. He was also a high ranking member of the Goleudigion. That’s when your organisation and mine fell out.’ He paused for a moment. ‘I always thought someone would have noticed how that split came just as the Blue Books were published and draw their conclusions. I suppose there was too much distraction and not all of it accidental. I underestimated the power of the Goleudigion.’

‘So tell me: who are the real Goleudigion, how do they fit into the Illuminati and what are they doing now?’


Well what is going on?

Davies, if that’s even really his name, is sat in a dark basement full of stuffed things in a Welsh museum talking to some mysterious cove about Goleudigion who according to Davies’ musings have some plans for Wales, and perhaps the wider world, he doesn’t much like the look of. But what are Goleudigion? And who is Pendragon and why should he know anything about them?

And if Davies is the good guy in all this, why does he have a different name from the one Pendragon once knew him by? And is he really a police Superintendent? And what did happen to all those people on the train and at Cathays station?

Will all be revealed in the next episode? Or will something disturb the narrative flow?

Decision, decisions!


Almost opposite the spot Davies occupied, but twenty feet below, was the main public entrance to the museum. To the right, half way between that doorway and the imposing flight of stairs that led up to the upper balcony at that end of the hall was a larger than lifesize bronze statue standing on a wooden plinth. It depicted a drummer boy, sat on a wall with a cannonball at his feet. Davies treated himself to a rare smile, he had remembered correctly. There was the sculpture by Sir William Goscombe John of the, possibly apocryphal, drummer boy, depicted in the act of encouraging his comrades at the Battle of Dettingen. It was a copy of the South African War memorial to the King’s Regiment in Liverpool. “Y Bachgen Drymiwr Dettingen” himself thought Davies. He hoped it was the right one.

He looked at his watch. Four minutes to two o’clock. He was early. He scanned the visitors milling around the entrance hall. Just to the right of the main door was a figure, half hidden in shadows of the lockers where visitors could leave bags, umbrellas and other impedimenta frowned on by museums and galleries. The lockers curved out into the hall making a blind spot ideal for lurking in. The figure was still, poised almost; waiting for something Davies was sure. Not unusual in a museum gallery, but certainly odd in the entrance hall with nothing particular to stare at apart from some lockers and a set of seats. In the shadows it was not clear where, if at all, the figure was looking. Davies detached himself from his vantage point and made his way around the upper balcony towards the head of the stairs. There were several exhibition cases along the balcony which, while not completely obstructing his view of the lower floor made Davies move away from the protective rail that ran around the edge of the upper floor and lose his sight of the lockers.

Halfway up the rise to the upper floor the staircase split, one set of steps going left to the balcony opposite Davies side and the other right. Davies reached the head of the right hand flight and made his way down. By the time he reached the conjunction of the two upper flights the figure was no longer visible. Davies fought the urge to run, he checked his watch again, two minutes to two o’clock, and descended to the ground floor.

He walked to the right, skirting the entrance to the interactive rooms where children, and adults could examine various geological and natural history exhibits in close detail and use microscopes and hear talks on items of current interest. Doing so provided him with a shield of enthusiastic young museum visitors as he approached the man’s last known location. He held back at the side of the hall, where he could see the statue and the surrounding area quite clearly. There was no-one who looked to be a likely candidate for Pendragon. Davies had met him before, but always in situations where it had been difficult to form a clear impression of the man. He took a few steps out of the shadows towards the drummer boy. He loitered looking all around for a sign of the man he was due to meet. He must have looked as lost as he felt because one of the attendants at the information and ticket desk opposite the entrance walked across to him.

‘Mr Davies?’ she asked, although it seemed clear to Davies that she was pretty certain of his identity.

‘Yes. That’s me.’ He said smiling in what he hoped was not too confused a fashion.

‘Your friend asked me to give you your ticket. He had to go ahead and speak to the artist himself, but he was sure you would understand, and he said he will see you in there.’ And with that she pressed a small sheaf of papers into his hand.

‘Oh! Thank you.’ He said looking at the ticket that was on top. It allowed one adult entrance to the preview of the exhibition of modern installation art in the ground floor gallery to the east, past the cafe. Davies flicked through papers. They were flyers for the exhibition and forthcoming attractions. Davies put them in his inside jacket pocket and walked the length of the hall.

The inside of the gallery was in darkness with a hologram water effect playing on the floor. It was like walking into unknown waters. A situation Davis thought Pendragon had not chosen by accident. There was a quiet susurration of sound playing from speakers somewhere in the darkness as Davies walked into the simulated waters. Around a bend built into the gallery the waters gave way and the lighting effect was reversed with a black floor and glittering steel kitchenware arrayed as sculpture at eye level. Disconcerting dragons and steel horsemen arose, seemingly as far as the eye could see. This room was silent but beyond some acoustic baffle walls there was the faint sound of squealing. Davies moved on.

He was in darkness and what he had thought was squealing was the metallic screeching of the tines of a thousand forks being dragged down steel sheets. Davies fought the urge to cover his ears and strained for any other sensory input. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, figures darker than the background blackness twitched and moved. Davies walked up to one. It was an animatronic sculpture draped in black velvet. He turned and walked to what he could now see was a faint glow of direction arrows to the next part of the exhibition when one of the animatronic figures reached out a hand and took his elbow firmly in its grip.

‘Dewch gyda fi, rwan.’ It said

‘Come with me, now.’ Davies thought. If I can move after that, I will.

Davies sat in one of the collection rooms in the bowels of the museum. He was grateful for the nip of Dick Penderyn whisky Pendragon had offered him. His nerves had been somewhat disturbed by the disorientation of the approach in the exhibition. Exactly what Pendragon had intended of course, and as Davies’ eyes adjusted once more to the bright spotlight set at an angle behind Pendragon, he realised that once again he had no clear view of the man’s features.

‘I’m sorry about the slightly melodramatic approach.’ The man in the shadows said. ‘But I find melodrama is preferable to being placed at a disadvantage. I hope you weren’t too inconvenienced.’

Davies wasn’t inclined to be understanding.

‘You took a chance I know about the Goscombe John figure didn’t you?’ he said.

‘Not really. You wanted to see me remember? And I was pretty sure I knew my man. And I did, didn’t I?

Davies had to hand him that but he didn’t want to be too magnanimous. He grunted.

‘I presumed you were as concerned as I am, otherwise you wouldn’t have agreed to meet me?’ There was a slight pause as the figure appeared to mull this over.

‘Shall we stop fencing…’ the figure hesitated, ‘Davies, is it you are calling yourself now?’

‘Yes, Davies. All right. Let’s get down to business.’ He hesitated and then, because he knew how difficult this must be for Pendragon as much as himself, he said, ‘And thank you for answering my call. I appreciate it.’

The figure laughed heartily at that.

‘You never fail to surprise me. After all these years you can still be courteous when the need arises.’

Davies smiled. He couldn’t see Pendragon’s face but he knew the man could see his.

‘I haven’t known anyone as long as I’ve known you. We may be enemies, but that time alone lends a certain feeling of… comradeship? Brawdgarwch?’

‘Oh, let’s not say enemies. Let’s say rather, we occasionally have different immediate interests.’

‘You should have been a bard.’

‘And you a druid.’

There was a silence.

‘So. Goleudigion?’ Davies threw the word out there. If Pendragon reacted in any way, even with the advantage of the light in Davies’ eyes, he would know there was a lead to be followed.

There was a chilling lack of reaction from across the room. A stillness which was reaction enough in itself.

‘What do you want to know?’ The voice, already carefully modulated, became lower and even quieter.


The Cardiff Bay shuttle terminated at Queen Street and Davies got off to change trains. While he waited for the next Merthyr train to arrive, Davies spent the time checking on his fellow passengers on the platform. There was no-one he recognised. Two conservatively suited men stood muttering to each other and occasionally looking down the line toward Central Station. They fitted the bill for lookouts for Pendragon, but probably a little too closely. If Davies had to pick an unlikely couple of watchers it would probably be the two blond Danish tourists, incongruously clad in walking gear. He supposed a couple of tourists could have spent the night in Cardiff before dressing for a country walk and catching a train to Merthyr but it seemed an outside bet. Bound to attract attention and therefore unlikely and a great disguise at the same time. Davies tutted to himself. Too much second guessing. All he had to do was be aware of any obvious threat and make his way to where he hoped he would find Pendragon, or at least the next clue for the meeting.

The train, an old class 143 Pacer DMU set, chugged along from Central and stopped, almost gratefully Davies thought, at the platform. He waited as a Chinese couple got off and the two business men and the Danes boarded the train before he got on. So, we’re all going the same way he thought. He wasn’t going to narrow the field down that way at any rate. There were already several passengers on the coach Davies boarded. The Danes were with him and the business men were in the forward carriage. Most of the existing passengers looked like locals travelling back up the valleys but you would expect them to look like that Davies reasoned. He sat as far away from all the others as he could.

The journey up the line to Cathays didn’t take long, even for a diesel engine as old and battered as the 143’s. Built in 1987 they were a stop gap with an expected life of 20 years maximum. Nearly forty years on they had been passed down from BR through a variety of privatised companies until they reached the graveyard of rolling stock, the Valleys Line. The brakes squealed and the air hoses hissed and the carriages rattled to a halt at the back of the University Gymnasium. A couple of what Davies presumed, from their youth and dress, were students waited for the lights to announce that the doors could be opened. Davies waited for the students to press the button and get on before he suddenly stood and jumped through the doors onto the platform. The guard glared at him as he waved to the driver and got back on the train and shut the doors.  The Danes stayed on the train, but Davies found himself watching the two business men wander off down the side of the gymnasium towards Park Place in front of him. Behind he could hear someone crossing the tracks by the footbridge from the Senghenydd Road car park.

The walkway from the station led onto Park Place just opposite the north wing of the University Main Building across the road. Davies took a smart left turn and marched along Park Place to the Students Union. He trotted up the steps to the veranda cafe and bought a latte. He was pleasantly surprised to find that student palates obviously demanded more than the Norwegian Cafe clientele. As he sat he watched the two business suits disappear into the University Campus buildings. The unfashionably long haired character who had crossed the lines behind him stopped across the road outside the entrance to the main building and looked around. Davies was sure that he had seen him but the man never gave any clue as to whether he had seen what he wanted. He looked at his watch and then made his way down the road towards the city.

Davies finished his drink glancing at his watch to make sure he had time to make the rendezvous without running and went to relieve himself of the effects of waiting for contacts in coffee shops. When he came out and walked down the steps, the long haired man was walking back up the road towards Corbett Road and the University library. Looking for something, or someone, mused Davies. He waited for the man to walk along the slight bend in the road towards the law school before he stepped down onto the pavement. He walked smartly in the opposite direction to the man and when he saw a gap in the traffic, crossed the road and turned off down the side of the University towards Alexandra Gardens and the Temple of Peace. Just before he reached the Gardens themselves he turned left and made for the rear of a magnificent white civic building in a simple Classical style. Davies crossed a small employees car park and made for a service entrance and rang the bell. A man opened the door and Davies showed him his identification. After a second’s hesitation the man allowed Davies into the building.

‘What can I do for you Superintendent?’ the man asked him. Davies gave the man his serious but confidential look and brought his lips near the man’s ear. There was no need for this, they were alone in a room full of packing cases and materials for ensuring exhibits were not damaged in transit, but it was the conspiratorial touches that always helped Davies felt.

‘I’m supposed to be meeting someone here in ten minutes. It’s vital our meeting is not compromised and I fear I may have been followed. I know the Director personally and he has previously assured me that I can count on his help in these matters. All I need from you is access to the main upper gallery and then I can pass on my commendation to him for your assistance.’

The man may have been impressed by Davies’ identification and felt drawn in by the tone and the confidence Davies had shared, but he still felt a little wary of strangers approaching the delivery bay door.

‘Would you mind if I rang him?’ he asked Davies. Davies glanced at his watch and gave a snort of impatience.

‘Go ahead.’

The man walked through the rook to an office and picked up a phone. A minute later he was back, looking a little shamefaced.

‘Sorry about that.’ He said. ‘But you can’t be too careful these days can you.’

‘Not at all.’ Davies said. ‘You did exactly the right thing. Now can we go?’

The man led on and took Davies up a service lift to the upper gallery. Davies thanked the man who looked a little crestfallen at being abandoned at the exciting bit. He waited until the doors had shut and the lift had whirred away to the depths of the building before he turned and walked out onto the landing, looking down across the expanse of the lower floor of the National Museum of Wales.

Pendragon collected

I have just put the first two blog posts of PENDRAGON into a page of their own. The intention is that as I write posts that continue this story (this is the kiss of death to any creative urge on this isn’t it? Hope not!) I will add them to the page (under WRITING). That way, should anyone want to read the story without having to hunt around for the blog posts they can do.


Re reading that bit of observation inspired writing from Cardiff Bay inspired a few more ideas, so for the moment and as a bit of light relief from a couple of other more serious (?) scribblings (any excuse to avoid real work!) I thought I’d take Pendragon and Davies for a little walk and see where they lead.


Davies kept his face as immovable as he could under the circumstances as he read the content of the letter the boy had brought him. He stood up, dropped a couple of coins on the table as a gratuity and walked out of the Norwegian Church. The breeze from the bay made it cooler than the scene had looked from inside despite the sunshine. Davies allowed himself a thin smile. It was Wales after all.

He tucked the note back in the envelope and put that into the inside pocket of his jacket. Old fashioned clothes as the boy had said. Old fashioned meant different things to different people Davies had decided years ago. To the transient Cool Cymru mob of the late 90s it had meant something to be sneered at, dismissed and walked, if not run, away from. To Davies it meant solidity, unyielding values and a sense of place and being. He glanced at the Senedd building which housed the work of the people Davies ostensibly worked for. Its style embodied something of that sense of impermanence that came with iconoclasm for the sake of it. As he passed the front of the Assembly building it continued to remind him of an oversized 60s ashtray perched on a load of scaffolding. Be nice when it’s finished.

In front of him was the solid form of the Pierhead building. Red brick, built in 1897 and good for a few hundred years more with a bit of care, even it had been built by Englishmen. Davies wondered how long Rogers’ bit of flummery would last. Davies skirted the side of the basin, now called for some reason Roald Dahl Plass, currently occupied by the lady Boys of Bangkok before heading off up Bute Street. Were there no Welsh writers or artists who could have been honoured Davies wondered.

He walked up Bute Street, a small piece of what the docks had been, left over almost by accident it seemed in the gentrification of the Bay area. Davies liked its permanence but he wasn’t stupid. He remembered the state of the area before redevelopment came along. He didn’t think everything should be preserved. He just didn’t like the way any old rubbish could get built if it was labelled as new, challenging and radical in concept. He didn’t like what the Goleuedigion were planning for Wales, for the world come to that, and if it took a radical approach to stopping them Davies was prepared to bend a few rules. He smiled as he got to the top of the old street and crossed over from the new build houses to Cardiff Bay Station. Bend a few rules? He was prepared to throw the rule book out of the window.

Today was a case in point. The only thing he should be doing with Pendragon and his kind officially, was removing them from the field of play. Oh they had met before. Had a drink, a chat about their respective sides’ views on the world. But they were most definitely not on the same side. And yet here he was chasing over Cardiff to meet him, dancing to his tune so that, presumably, Pendragon could work out whether this was some sort of trap or not. So be it, Davies could shake as fine a leg as the next man when required, even at his age.

He stared at the timetable. Sure enough a train was due in a couple of minutes. He took out the note and glanced again at the copper plate handwriting.

“Y Bachgen Drymiwr Dettingen, 1400.


The screeching of the old DMU approaching brought Davies back to his current surroundings. The train pulled up at the single line terminus and disgorged some tourists and a few political apparatchiks. He took one last glance at the paper and put it away, safe in his pocket again. He hoped he had read it correctly. He understood the Welsh well enough:

“The Dettingen Drummer Boy, 1400, P”. The Battle of Dettingen had been in 1743 not 1400 so he presumed that meant two p.m. He had no chance of getting to Germany by two o’clock so he hoped he was right about Pendragon meaning the Dettingen Drummer boy in Cardiff, and if so, that his memory of where it was , was correct. He jumped on the train and grabbed a seat. Time to find out.


I went on a day trip to Cardiff Docks last year. It had been a long time since I had been right down to the Pier head where the Senedd building now stands. When I had been at University in the mid 70s, Cardiff was still a very serious working port.The dock area was a mass of railways, coal trucks, warehouses and sheds. It always seemed foggy and Cardiff nights were punctuated for half the year with foghorns, and the other six months with the cry of peacocks in the castle grounds. Nightlife was quieter then. Pubs still shut early and there were few nightclubs. The area south of the railway seemed to be a black and white landscape, like something out of the last scene from Casablanca, minus the aeroplane.

Our trip, with other writing minded folk, gave me a different modern view of the place, but despite having burst into technicolor, I still felt the frisson of its past. Rather than having an upbeat bright modernistic feel it inspired a weird sort of Celtic noir mood in me. It gave rise to the beginning of the something posted below. So far I haven’t returned to work it into more. I have a vague feeling for who and what Pendragon may be if I develop this more; but for the moment – here is what my day trip to Cardiff produced.

The two girls were leggy and had an almost doe like quality about them. They seemed to totter slightly as they stopped their bicycles and surveyed the waterfront scene. Davies wondered what his great grandfather would have made of them if they had cycled down the wharf dressed like that in his day. The idea was mad of course. Girls in denim shorts and crop tops would have been arrested long before the dockers could have worked out what to do. Most would probably have died of shock.

Davies remembered why he was here and focused on the other occupants of the newly gentrified scene. Dragging his eyes from the girls was harder than it should have been given what he was supposed to be doing. Life in the old dog yet he told himself. It wouldn’t do to miss Pendragon if he turned up. It certainly wouldn’t do to let Pendragon see him first. He didn’t think the man was likely to be violent but you never knew. This wasn’t south Central LA or the Bronx, it wasn’t even the bay from the 1920s or 1950s. Cardiff Bay in 2015 was almost metrosexual. Whatever that meant. Davies had read the word in a few newspaper articles but they assumed you knew what the phrase meant. Davies’s brain had done a few uncomfortable cartwheels before deciding he would have to look it up online. He hadn’t got round to it yet. There always seemed so many other things to do.

Just beyond the Senedd building was a candidate for one of the phrases meanings. In what had been the entrance to the basin of Bute West Dock was a large semi permanent marquee. It was plastered in garish signs proudly displaying the title of the show inside: ‘Lady Boys of Bangkok’.

Definitely metrosexual Davies decided. Docks had always had a more, Davies struggled for the right word, one that didn’t sound too Hampstead thinkerish, not too Cyn Coed for what he wanted to convey; ‘convoluted’, that would do. A more convoluted social approach to sex than some areas. Maybe the Lady Boys of Bangkok fitted in better than they thought.

No sign of Pendragon though.

Davies took a sip of his coffee. It tasted pretty much as you would expect a cup of coffee in a Norwegian church in the docks to taste like even if the area was gentrified and the church no longer a place of worship.  The place was filling up. It had been nearly deserted when he arrived. Just a gaggle of people on a trip of some sort. They had split up and the women had left two middle aged men sat at one of the tables. They were talking earnestly about something, breaking into laughter now and again. Nothing for him to worry about. The early lunch crowd were beginning to wander down the bay now, making it harder to keep an eye out for his man. Davies checked his watch again and swung his gaze through as much of the area as he could. There were no real blind spots but a couple of the approaches were difficult to keep an eye on. The area was still very open here. The clutter of building that had filled in the area around the Senedd Building had not yet stretched down the waterside to where Davies sat. Someone was doing some more building development nearby however, and diggers and trucks kept obscuring the approach. Ideally he would have liked to have some others watching the ways in and out, but given the nature of the conversation he wanted to have, the fewer people knew about it the better.

He checked the waterside again. The sun lit flickering silver lights off the water in the bay behind the two girls who were just now cycling off on their way. A middle aged couple sat on one of the benches, very close to each other, in a way more reminiscent of young lovers than the comfortable familiarity of a long marriage. An affair perhaps? Davies smiled, good luck to them. Snatch happiness where you can. Then he thought of the other couple separated by the infidelity in front of him. Too far he thought. They may just have kept the spark alive all this time. Just because you’re a miserable old sod.

The door opened and a young man, little more than a boy, walked in. He looked around and made straight for Davies’ table across the old church. Davies prepared to throw the cup and contents into his face. The table should be enough to bring the boy down if he kicked it at him and Davies hoped he’s still be fast enough to stamp on the boy’s head before he recovered.

‘Mr Davies?’ The boy stopped short, a hopeful look on his face.


The boy dropped an envelope on the table.

‘A man gave me that for you. Said there’d be a tenner in it for me.’

‘Did he now?’

‘Aye he did.’

Davies looked at the envelope and back to the expectant, fidgeting boy.

‘Do you know him?

‘No. He just asked me to deliver this. Said I’d make some money.’

‘Where was this?’

The boy picked up the envelope again.

‘Look mate, I just wanted to help and get the tenner all right?’

Davies sighed.

‘Make it twenty if you tell me where this was and what he looked like.’

He pulled out his wallet and extracted two tens.

The boys face brightened considerably.

‘By the pier head, big bloke, red hair, old fashioned clothes.’ He nodded at Davies. ‘Like yours.’

‘Cheeky sod.’ Davies laughed and threw the notes on the table. The boy dumped the envelope and snatched up the notes.

‘He said you’d know what he meant.’ the boy said pointing at the white rectangle on the table, as he walked sideways out of the café.

Davies picked up the communication from Pendragon. He smiled. Maybe. Maybe not. He slit the top of the envelope and pulled out the note inside. He’d have to see


I confess I have never read any Poldark novels and have watched none of the recent television series. (I saw part of a couple of episodes of the earlier version many years ago). I bear it no ill will but was recently given a sentence from one of the books as part of an exercise/game and could not think of anything in the same vein except this rather silly pastiche. With apologies to my O level history master and lovers of Winston Graham’s work everywhere

Trouble Amongst the Turnips:


A Counterblast to Television Remakes


In the hot sunshine of the early summer afternoon Demelza and Prudie were thinning out the young turnips which had been sown in the lower half of the long field. Prudie dashed a particularly weedy specimen to the floor in disgust.

‘Why is he growing turnips in here again?’ She asked in a tone that matched her actions.

Demelza turned her head quickly, the dark curls flashing in the sun.

‘You shouldn’t be speaking like that of your betters Prudie.’ she said her mouth set in stern disapproval.

‘Stuff that. He’s mad. I thought he was a follower of old what’s his face from Raynham?’

Demelza was shocked by the impertinent tone and the offensive language.

‘If you mean Viscount Townshend, Mr Poldark is indeed a fervent admirer of the Norfolk four field system and our late Secretary of State. And I’ll thank you to remember your manners.

Prudie dashed another stray turnip to oblivion and sighed.

‘Sorry missus but be fair, if he’d actually bothered reading them pamphlets proper like, he’d know you have to rotate annual or you get all sorts of bother.’

Demelza gently pulled a wastrel root vegetable from the ground and laid it aside.

‘How so?’

‘Leaving aside club root, flea beetle and root maggots you mean?’

Demelza nodded sagely not having heard of any of them.

‘Well has he had any nitrogenous fixing crop in here recent like?’ Prudie fixed Demelza with a gimlet eye. ‘Well? ‘as he or ‘an’t he?’

Demelza had not the faintest idea what a nitrogenous fixing crop was but was reluctant to let her beloved Ross take any blame.

‘I’m sure that your master has attended to all the needs of…’

‘Tush my pretty one, he had turnips in here last year and he tried wheat the year before and it was turnips again afore that. And why? What beasts have we to feed ‘em to? We ‘ad boiled neeps, fried turnip, turnip fricasee, roast turnip, turnip soup, turnip broth, stuffed turnip, turnip hash, turnip gallimaufry, and turnip surprise.’ She looked around to ensure their privacy, which was a rather pointless exercise as they were in the middle of an empty field. ‘I don’t like turnip.’ she confided.

‘Ah.’ cried Demelza ‘but the noble turnip…’

‘Noble! Pah! god rot ‘em. And let me tell you another thing. They’ll be weedy little runts anyway without no dung on em. And if you haven’t had any clover in for so long where will the goodness be anyway? And why’s he growing wheat this far west? Barley I could see but when have we had barley? Never. He should ave stuck to fighting and wandering around without a shirt. It’s what he’s good at. Bloody turnips.’

‘Ah but you see Prudie Mr Poldark has read the works of other great agriculturists and whilst he rightly respects and admires Viscount Townshend he believes that Mr Tull had the right of it when he observed ‘Too much nitre corrodes a plant.’

‘Tull?’ Observed Prudie with a sneer. ‘Posh bloke from Berkshire, big hair?’

‘That was a wig Prudie, it was the fashion.’

‘Aye I knows him. Jethro. Stood on one leg all the time?’

‘I believe at one time he did have a certain preference for a monopedal stance, but that has little relevance to his agricultural credentials.’

‘That’s as maybe but its hard to develop real hands on experience hopping behind a plough playing a flute that’s all I’m saying. Should have stuck to his flute. Folks would have paid good money for a big haired bloke playing the flute on one leg. And he could have let country folk get on with a proper crop rotation system.’

Demelza decided that perhaps, despite Ross’s nascent one nation Toryism mixed with quasi socialist overtones, she would let the hired help get on with the work themselves. She rose to her feet, playfully boxed Prudie’s ears, told her to keep her radical ideas to herself and marched off for a quick gin, wishing that someone would hurry up and invent tonic water and a refrigerator, whatever that was.


Under the cover of fading twilight Piers Lomond narrowed his eyes against the drizzle coming up river from the west. Pinpricks of orange twinkled into existence through the murk on both sides of the great estuary. He knew from previous forays onto the bridge at night that those pinpricks would soon blossom into clusters of electric fireflies winking through the darkness, struggling to reach out to him across the waters.
He didn’t want to be reached out to. Not by the works of man. Somewhere out beyond the cloud mass rushing in from the Atlantic, the sun was declining beneath the grey storm tossed waves, light being swallowed by an omnipotent monster as the earth spun eastward. A wind was beginning to pick up, not yet strong enough to fleck the mud dark tide below with white caps, but already chopping the waters into black troughed waves. If the forecast was correct it would be a gale by morning, and then a storm. Lomond shook his head to flick the accumulated water from his face and hair. None of which would bother him.
He regretted the cloud and rain. He had imagined that if, he snorted as he corrected himself, no, when, this time came, Tir na n’Og would welcome him with blazing yellow shafts shining through the warm red sky of forever. But even the end was going to be grey and disappointing. Westerness, the land of eternal youth was weeping and Lomond felt as if he had somehow missed the boat. Even in his current frame of mind he allowed himself a wry smile at the inadvertent pun. He wouldn’t need a boat to get there. Below him the second highest tidal reach in the world was churning, turning to rush millions of gallons of water into the Irish Sea. The highest was a couple of thousand miles almost directly west of where he stood, across the waters of the Atlantic in the Bay of Fundy. He’d checked. Just out of interest. When he had still had any interest to spare. So, on to bigger, better things then.

He turned and leaned back on the safety rail, staring upstream now. The angles were all wrong. Mostly he could see the spread of the carriageways that crossed the span of the bridge. The rest was darkness of the eternal night from the East. At least the rain wasn’t in his face any more, and neither the darkness nor the weather prevented him seeing what he was looking for. She would be settling down for the evening. Forty miles upstream the world would seem a different place. A warmer, brighter, less elemental place, confused and cluttered by the ephemera of distractions that humanity constructed between itself and reality. Piers saw through it all to the nub, the heart, the essential futility of all the pastimes and geegaws, the bread and circuses. The pointlessness of obfuscation.
He’d done all that. He’d collected a lot of things. And all the while niggling, itching, growing inside, sapping the ability to pretend everything was fine, was the knowledge. The knowledge of having reached out and being cursed for daring and yet more, for attaining what he desired, that which was not his.
He turned again to face into the west and heaved a sigh of resignation.
Eternity beckoned.

[Just an exercise that went a bit differently than I had imagined. I don’t normally like exercises that demand you write something to a set goal/formula/inspiration – if it isn’t my inspiration I think it is lacking something, some veracity, some depth – oops! Careful – sounding a bit twee there, but you know what I mean. Don’t you? Anyway this time I promised I’d have a go because I was asked and it seemed churlish not to and you know what I enjoyed it. It may not seem like it from the tenor of the above piece. But I did.]

No Problem With Spoons

Lots of things have been preventing me from getting around to posting here recently. Excuses, yes, but pretty pressing ones mostly.
I have been writing but this isn’t what was occupying most of my time.
This is the result of a workshop somebody ran and I am afraid I took the idea and ran off in another direction with it. So thanks and sorry at the same time. No idea what it is but it popped up and escaped – so here it is.



Spoons held no terror for Swanson. Why should they? Knives on the other hand held the potential for slashing cuts, flashing attacks, rending of flesh, dismemberment, spilling of blood, evisceration, plunging penetration of stabbing steel. He toyed with the steak knife by the side of his plate. Knives too left him singularly unperturbed.

He let the knife alone and smiled across the table at Catherine. He wondered if it looked as forced on her side of the experience as it felt from his position. He desperately wanted it to look sincere. It was sincere. He was, at the very least, infatuated with her. He thought… he stopped and chided himself…he knew, whatever anyone else may think, that he was in love. It had been such a short time but he knew she was the one. He wanted her to know how he felt but he knew it was too soon to tell her. He didn’t want to appear too needy, to scare her away. He just wished there had been more time for her to get to know him before he had to face this hurdle.

The waiter appeared with their food. It looked perfect. She had chosen a salmon mousse terrine with salad and vinaigrette. He had the soup. No problem there. Catherine thanked the waiter and shot Swanson a delighted and delightful glance. Ordinarily he would have melted with joy and desire. He felt queasy. He looked down at his cutlery. He picked up the spoon but there, on the left of everything, was the fork. Each tiny spear point of a tine winked in the candlelight. Mocking. Threatening.


Some people, uncouth, unmannered people, tapped a rhythm with their knives. A tattoo of metallic vibrato. His father had never espoused that particular habit. For him mealtimes were enlivened with the tapping of a fork. On glasses, or the side plate for attention, on the edge of his main platter with annoyance, occasionally on the table for emphasis, the latter with the handle to counterpoint the tine tapping of the former. The slivers of metal scraped along the plate surface with the force of his eating, the eldritch screech setting Swanson’s youthful, impressionable, nerves aquiver.

So much for the routine horror of mealtimes chez Swanson. Gesticulating, tapping screeching, implement of low key irritation, there on the left, a stick insect of metallic personification of his father and his attitudes and his demeanour and his vulgarity. Swanson began to shun the object where he could. Soups, stews, sandwiches, pizza slices, finger food of all kinds offered salvation, while traditional three course meals stalked the horizons of his day. As soon as he could, and whenever he could, he avoided family mealtimes. That wasn’t difficult during the week. Cereal for breakfast, sandwiches at school and snacks on the way home, snatched meals before ‘homework’ sessions. But weekends were different and Sundays unavoidably awful.

Saturdays could be worked round. Early or late rising avoided his father’s cooked breakfast fetish. Rugby and cricket at school and later at the local clubs meant he could avoid mealtimes with the family. But Sunday was a ‘family time’. A roast dinner time. Knife and fork time. It wasn’t just seeing and hearing his father’s fork wielding displays any more. The implement itself was taking on a symbolism of its own. His father’s ‘if it were good enough for me and your mother…’ line about what to do after school. His sneering approach to ‘book learning’. His contempt for music. ‘Why aren’t you listening to rock and roll like the other lads?’  Everything that Swanson could feel dragging him back, holding him in this God forsaken wasteland of a town. All was becoming embodied in those four thin prongs of steel that scraped across the plates, dripped egg yolk and spittle, sprayed flecks of cabbage and serrated burnt animal across the tablecoth.

His mother was not completely unaware of his problems around the use of forks. She claimed to have seen it coming when he was little and had as a result tried to make his cutlery special and fun. He had had knives, forks and spoons in the shape of childhood characters from nursery rhymes, from blockbuster films and cartoons. Her latest attempt, in keeping she said with him growing up, was a set of cutlery engraved with his initials. These she hoped would give him “ownership” of the situation.

Worse was yet to come. At 15 years old Swanson had returned from after school rugby practice. His mother was out at her sister’s and Swanson returned home to find his father back from the office early and in DIY mood. Swanson found him, sleeves rolled up engaged in his latest obsession. The presence, real or imagined Swanson was uncertain, of a mouse in the kitchen was exercising his father greatly. The proddings of the fork towards his face , the agitated tapping on the plate edges and the punctuating bangs on the tabletop, accompanied a litany of threats towards and speculation concerning the whereabouts of the alleged mouse. The time apparently had come for the end of theorising. Action was at hand. As Swanson entered, his father nodded vigorously at him to close the door behind him. Swanson did as he was bid and as the door shut, his father ripped away the fascia beneath the under sink cupboards. A grey ball of something hurtled towards Swanson from under the cupboard. He blinked and as he did, he missed his father, already on his knees, dropping the fascia board, and diving at the mouse. When he had finished blinking, he saw his father at his feet clutching his hands together as if in supplication or prayer.

‘Got it!’ his father cried, and then his exultation turned to a note of pain. ‘The little buggers biting me!’ His father rose to his feet and dashed the contents of his clenched hands into the sink. With remarkable speed, he picked up his favourite instrument from the draining board, and with a gladiatorial gleam in his eye drove the fork into the arena of stainless steel and the sacrificial animal within. Swanson heard two things. A distinct squelching, and a shriek. His father, a grin of triumph fixed across his face, lifted his still wriggling opponent aloft and turned holding the impaled animal on high for Swanson’s approbation. Wriggling, bleeding, run through on the tines of a fork, the mouse seemed to implore Swanson for mercy. All Swanson could see was the blood trickling down over the initials on the handle of his, Swanson’s fork.


Catherine said something about the food looking good and he nodded. Her hand reached out and the fingers curled around the shaft of the fork. Perspiration burst on his brow and his throat constricted. He wanted to concentrate on her face, the sweep of her eyebrows the delicate bow of her lips. His soup, the spoon. Anything but the reminder of the multi-pronged symbol of his father’s triumph and death in the afternoon long ago and far away.