Quenching the fiery darts

…taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye
shall be able to quench the fiery darts
of the wicked
   St Paul

Mr Butler and I must, I think, be honorary citizens of the ‘show-me’ state, Missouri. For weeks and weeks he has pooh-poohed every claim I’ve made of seeing these in our local park:


Well, okay, perhaps that image is maybe more dramatic than informative. Here’s another picture:


It’s a parakeet.

London has had flocks of wild parakeets since the 1970s, and they’re growing and spreading from their first appearances in the leafy, salubrious areas of London: Kingston, Richmond, Kew Gardens. Now they’re colonising insalubrious, built up, down at earth Plaistow in East London, where I live. A flock of about 8 roost in our local park.

Not that dear husband ever believed me about that. He jeered. He positively jeered. It didn’t help that every time we walked Molly in the park together and I tried to spot the birds, they were, to say the least, elusive. One might go so far as to say invisible and mute, the pesky, perverse little blighters. Mr Butler would jeer a bit more and tap the side of his forehead in significant fashion.

Until yesterday morning when an indisputable pair wheeled and dipped around our heads before settling in a nearby tree. Not even Mr Cynical Butler could deny that he’d just been circled by two long tailed, vivid green, feral parrots. The only extra evidence one might ask for would be for them to squawk out “Who’s a pretty boy, then?” to him as they did their flyover in perfect military formation. And possibly shit on us, like birds do, but they had more manners than that.

Mr Butler bore my crowing with equanimity. See? I demanded. See? Parakeets! I may even have done a little unseemly gloating, dancing on the spot and pointing. He eyed my antics with complacency. And “Moose,” he said. That’s all. Moose. It was enough.

For a long time, you see, I maintained that Moose were mythical. They’re so improbable, aren’t they? I mean, all gangly legs and knobbly knees. Not to mention those huge antler racks. They sort of waddle around eating plants and looking as unlike dainty little Bambi as another member of the deer family possibly could. Moose, I always said, were Not Real. Every moose is really a pair of out-of-work actors in the moose equivalentPantohorse3 of a pantomime horse suit.

One of these, in fact, only with antlers. And maybe not the spots.

Some enterprising soul in the US (and Canada, of course) had come up with the idea of getting hold of these suits in black and paying actors to shamble up and down north American highways pretending to eat shrubs. To increase tourism, or something.

As an aside, Don’t you feel very sorry for the man at the back? Given where his face is, you have to hope the front legs man doesn’t have problems of the gastrointestinal sort. Given how much roughage the front end appears to eat, it could be very unpleasant for the man in the back. Highly unlikely to win you an Oscar for outstanding moose performance of the year, in any event.

Anyhow, getting back on track, this was my solemn and sincere belief for years and years. Until three years ago and Yellowstone when I had my Missouri moment and saw one for myself. This is the moose in question. Cute he isn’t, but hell was he a big bugger.


All I will say about it is that moose are still two actors inside a pantomime horse type of suit, but they are *incredibly good at their jobs*.


Which rambling is an excuse to send you greetings from a cold and rainy London, and to let you know that I’ve got a couple of guests lined up over the next few days. On Wednesday, I hope, Sarah Madison will drop in to tell us a little about her new release, Walk A Mile (Dreamspinner Press) and next Monday, Louise Lyons will be here to talk about Wayward Ink’s new anthology, Stranded, and her story One Snowy Night. So do drop in when they’re here, and join in.

Finally, I woke up to an exciting email today. Dreamspinner will be publishing The Gilded Scarab early next year, and this morning the Art people got in touch with me to tell me they’re starting work on the cover. I squee-ed out loud and scared the dog.

It’s odd the effect this has. You get the acceptance from the publisher and that’s a dizzy, intoxicating moment and you sign the contract, then everything goes quiet while your immortal MS sits in the editing queue. It’s as if you were careering down a mountain, only to be brought up short on a wide vast plateau, where your headlong rush slows to a ‘hurry up and wait’ sort of existence. To be honest, it makes everything seem a bit unreal. Did they really want the book? Do they like it? Can they possibly love Rafe the way he should be loved? What if it was all a mistake and they’re too embarrassed to say so? What if they don’t really want him at all? What then?!

So getting loads of pretty book covers to look at to choose a style I like and even having to fill in another form for them (honest, Dreamspinner, are you all ex-civil servants like me, or something?) has reignited that first heady thrilling rush of excitement. It’s real. They really are going to publish Rafe’s story and I’m not going to wake up and find I’ve done a Pam Ewing and dreamt the whole thing. In fact, I’m hurtling across the plateau and wheeeeee! we’re off down the next precipitous bit of mountain.

Now all I have to get through is the editing. Sad face here. I have no idea what to expect.

In the meantime, it’s back to writing. I’ve started the fourth Taking Shield book (cough. points to St Paul, grins), The Chains of Their Sins. In Shield world, today’s the day that Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take over as Strike Captain for a year. Right at this moment, Flynn is sitting outside the ship in his little space fighter, faking a problem with the engine so he can put off coming back on board and seeing the man he wants and can’t have. Oh the angst!

Have a lovely Monday. Between parakeets and books, I certainly am!



  1. I was laughing all the way through this until I got to “on Wednesday, Sarah Madison” and realized I owe you a post!! I’ll get it for you, I promise!


    • Small, small world!

      D and I moved here years ago when we could buy a big house for small money. Now with Stratford and the Olympic Park and the international rail station, prices here are going up and up. I’m hoping that next year he can take advantage of the pensions changes to collect enough money to buy a second rental house (we have one near Mildenhall base, rented to the USAF) and that will give us enough income so he can retire, sell up here and we’ll move out to Suffolk. Fingers crossed!


  2. Thank you for the helpless giggles over my coffee. I’ll never again be able to look at a moose with a straight face. And I’m very excited by the prospect of holding Gilded Scarab in my hot little hands, as you know!


    • Sorry for the delay in replying, Sarah. I have no real excuse (hangs head). I have never been able to look at a moose with a straight face. They’re such improbable animals!

      Grins at you for you kind words about Scarab. I am getting quite excited there myself!


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