Durham Cathedral 5am

•May 26, 2010 • 7 Comments






Another year is almost over since Christina passed away.

When I was a boy, I used to lie in bed and listen to the river, which ran just outside my window. The bells of the unseen cathedral would chime the hour, followed by the sound of a steam train, pulling away from the railway station at the edge of the city.

Always on time.

“I often cry when I hear a train pass by. I don’t know why”

I do now.

The river still flows past the house that is no longer there – and the wallpaper and the sound of Christina, making her hot milk for bed.

I recently visited my hometown of Durham and wanted to stay near to the river where I spent my childhood. As luck would have it, the University were renting out rooms to the general public during vacations…

…I arrived after midnight and settled into a small student ‘cell’ of a room.

Unseen from the demolished house, beyond the river and from above, the Cathedral clock chimed 5am and I woke to my first view of what had always been there, but which had been hidden by the University buildings as they towered over our home.

Is she always there – just hidden from my view?

~I reached into the glove compartment of my car and found her phone. I must have put it there, but I don’t recall doing so. The night after she died, there was a call from that phone, but no-one was there. Then for five years it vanished.

Until now.




Remembering Christina

•June 3, 2009 • 8 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast Sunday was the fourth anniversary of Christina’s passing.  I wrote the following lines a year ago:

“I remember the first anniversary of her death as a bittersweet celebration of her life, in which I sheltered like a hermit crab. The second year passed on a swell of faith and joy.  But now the third year had ushered in a cold loneliness and the guilt of fading Grief.”

So what of the fourth?

I was happy.


There are no doors in my mind that are now too painful to open; no memories that I need to avoid.

It was a beautiful day – a day of reminiscence and soft smiles.

In the early evening I pottered around my garden and took the photograph below. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It seemed to fit.


Christmas at the Phantom Hotel

•December 21, 2008 • 14 Comments

stars header 760x151 

Christmas Eve 1962 

It was approaching 10pm when the lorry dropped me off around twenty miles south of Scotch Corner on the A1. White flakes of snow had just started to appear from out of the black sky and the driver seemed concerned about leaving me at such a desolate spot. I told him ‘not to worry’ and gave him a reassuring wave as he drove off through the thickening curtain of snow. I remember just standing in the amazing silence of it all – apart from the soft hiss of the falling snowflakes. The driver had no need to worry however – I was seventeen and therefore immortal…….

…….I must have stood for around half and hour, when it became apparent that my chances of hitching a further lift to Durham before daybreak were slim. It was also becoming painfully apparent I was starting to freeze. 

Squinting through the snowflakes, which were now falling heavily, I could just make out the square light of an upstairs window, in the blackness beyond the other side of the road.  It seemed a little odd I hadn’t noticed it earlier, but I reasoned that whoever lived there, must have switched on the upstairs lights as they were going to bed.

I carefully picked my way across the deserted carriageways and eventually found myself at the entrance of what seemed to be a farmyard. I hesitated for a moment, but crossing the carriageway had shown me how my legs were seizing up in the sub-zero conditions and I knew I had to find shelter at once.

I knocked on the farmhouse door – softly to begin with and then with increasing force – nothing.  I then carefully tried the door-handle and for the first, but not the last time in my life, it turned and the door opened…

…onto a small porch, leading to a steep flight of stairs. I slowly climbed the stairs, eventually finding myself in a corridor of bedrooms. Every room had been cleaned and prepared, as if for a guest – but every room was empty, with the door to each room left open. I can remember choosing the second from the last room at the far end of the corridor and sitting on the side of the bed, until my shivering had subsided. I was relieved that a sad end in the snow was no longer on the cards, so that worry was at once replaced with a different concern.

My new worry was a lack of money, other than a few coppers. I was a young student and I knew I could find myself in trouble if I was found sleeping in a room with no means of paying for it. I reluctantly crept downstairs and called out several times, even going carefully around the unlit breakfast/dining room, to see if I could find anyone. The hotel was empty.

It may have been empty, but thankfully it was warm. I had been thumbing lifts for over twelve hours and the combination of fatigue and warmth had begun to make sleeping an urgent need. I returned to ‘my’ room – and slept.

I woke with a start at around 10am on Christmas Day. Everything was silent, except for the occasional wet-tyre sound of a car passing by. I dressed quickly – knowing I had to find someone and explain to them what had happened. Hopefully they would then accept my home address, together with a promise of the rent being sent by post. I searched the house and the yard outside, but there was no one.

Looking back, I feel a little guilty that I didn’t leave a note, but everything had begun to feel a bit otherworldly and oppressive. I needed to get away from the building, as I knew that in some undefinable way, I was no longer welcome.

Fine rain was falling as I crossed the A1 to the northbound side. as I reached the grass verge, a car stopped beside me. An hour later I arrived home.

I have driven past the spot where the lorry-driver dropped me, many times over the years, but I cannot find the farmhouse hotel. Was it demolished? Or did it simply fade, like the village of  Brigadoon – melting and dissolving with the night-snow.


So was I just lucky, or were there other forces in play? There have been a few ‘narrow squeaks’ in my life and each one had a flavour of ‘spiritual protection’. If I personify that protection, I find myself considering guardian angels and spirit guides. If I go beyond a three-dimensional view of God, I find myself in a state of harmony, together with the knowledge that generosity and help will be given back to me and greed and disharmony returned in kind.

If you have read The Angel of Inverness (next post down), you may have recognised the symbols of a gateway into a yard of danger with the safety of a house beyond, and a risky journey through the night, combined with an unlocked door and a haven of safety. The significance of this in my life is most relevant, especially as the symbols, although having a dream-like quality, also possessed an actual physical quantity, as I experienced them during my so called ‘waking’ hours.

In other words, it actually happened.santacowboyhat

Merry Christmas and Good Yule

click on the thumbnail to read “A Christian-Pagan Christmas Story” ~



celestial image at header ~ Wikimedia Commons

The Angel of Inverness

•October 6, 2008 • 20 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         As the year turns toward Samhain and to the part of life where the veil  between the natural and the supernatural becomes thin and transparent like misted glass, my thoughts turn to the moments in my life where I have been so close to spirit that I have been helped – ‘saved’ – if you like and also to those moments where I have had my fingers well and truly burnt by forces that are so immense and beyond any human conception of morality, that they are referred to as both God and the Devil, but which are neither one nor the other, but which both exist beyond our thinking powers of three dimensional reason and are sometimes encountered in our dreams – and in our nightmares.


The Angel of Inverness

Inverness is a beautiful town in northern Scotland, which has always held a particular spiritual resonance for me. Maybe I am just obstinate, but I have never been to see the famous Loch Ness, or considered the possibility of a prehistoric monster lurking beneath the dark waters, but the walk along the river banks toward the Loch have always attracted me with a dark magic.

I remember walking by the river, on my way back to my ‘digs’ around 2am, after a rather noisy party organised by other members of our troupe. It had been a hot summer and the Ness was almost dry in places, dry enough for folk to tiptoe across from one bank to another; which many company members did, apart from one unfortunate girl, who lost her balance and ended up sitting in two or three feet of water in her best dress. Naturally she was named ‘Riverbed’ for the rest of the tour.

I was enjoying my walk home and the ringing silence, after hours of loud music, when I became aware of two figures approaching on the other side of the narrow road that ran alongside the river. The figures were still a long distance away, but I felt a twinge low down in my abdomen and a slight feeling of danger. There was nothing about the two men that seemed threatening on the surface, but the closer they drew, the more alarmed I became. The rational part of my brain told me that they were simply two friends walking home – the instinctive part was screaming that my life was in danger.

Although it was many years ago, I remember being utterly aware of every sensation I had during those moments, and how time seemed to lock into slow-motion. I can remember every thought I had and every sensation I received, both physical and spiritual.

As they drew nearer, my alarm grew and my lower abdomen began to produce the sensations I sometimes feel when I look at the ground from a high bridge or building. My way of walking had also changed and had become stiff-legged, like that of a dog prowling and circling another animal, before an attack.

Suddenly and without warning, the two figures crossed to my side of the road.

My body and the universe took over and I became a passenger and an observer to the events that followed – events which must have taken less than a minute, but which seemed to last at least ten times as long. Looking back, I am convinced that they actually did last that long for me and that I had begun to operate in a different time-mode.

My body turned sharply left into a driveway leading up to a large house, as I continued walking in my stiff-legged gait, toward the glass panelled doors that formed the entrance. I remember hoping that the men would simply think that I had reached home and I also hoped I was wrong and that their reason for crossing the road was just an innocent diversion in their nocturnal walk. I could hear my feet crunching on the gravel forecourt as I approached the doors. What if they were going to attack me? If they were, I had handed them a gift, as I was now enclosed within the square walled grounds of the darkened house.

Then I heard running feet and I knew my instinct was right. It was strange, but even though I was really frightened, my body refused to run and continued to walk in a brisk stiff-legged way, toward the entrance. The glass doors met in the middle, with two levered handles; I grasped the door handle on the right and turned it

it opened.

Time began to accelerate, like an old film – a woman dressed all in white and with a white headdress appeared – actually she seemed to appear at the instant I stepped inside, as if she had formed and solidified from the shadows in the unlit porch. I ordered her to lock the door, which she did at once and without question. At the precise moment the lock clicked, the two men started beating on the glass panels, snarling and pressing their faces and bodies against the glass. They were ugly and ferocious and seemed more like wild animals than human beings.

The woman and I watched silently as the beasts howled and writhed against the doors, like starving wolves that had been denied their prey, until at last they lurched off into the darkness.

I looked at the angel in white as she explained that I was in a private hospital and that she was a nurse on night duty. It was around that moment, that I regained – or was given back – control of my body. I began to shake so violently, that she quickly found a chair for me. If she hadn’t, I’m sure I would have fallen to the floor in a dead faint. Then, bless her, she made a cup of tea for us both and sat with me for the next hour or so.

Although we talked, there were many questions I did not ask that night, as it took me several days to come to terms with the improbability of my escape. I was a man of 41 years of age and 6’2” in height – why did she trust me enough to lock the door with me on the inside? If she had hesitated, even for one second, it would have been too late. Also she seemed unaffected by the incident – I was still shaking like a leaf an hour after the event, whilst she calmly finished her rounds – If that was incredible enough, I will never forget two things she said to me:

“That door is never unlocked”

“I never come this way on my rounds – I don’t know why I did tonight”

I sat there for a further hour or so and then, when the dawn was breaking, she let me out of the rear entrance and I walked back to my digs in the early morning sunlight.


I now realise that I had not only been physically saved that night in Inverness, but that I had also been shown the ultimate states and opposite poles of harmony and discord – expressed as the beast-like evil of the two men, the utter purity of my ‘angel in white’ and also myself as ‘everyman’ standing between them. Was the nurse an angel, or was she guided by an incomprehensible force? Were the men thugs, or were they the personified embodiment of the ultimate evil? Was I just incredibly lucky that night, or had I received the most profound and certainly the most shocking lesson the universal spirit has ever given me.


“…when man became aware that he knew, and wanted to be conscious of what he knew, he lost sight of what he knew. This silent knowledge, which you cannot describe is, of course, intent – the spirit, the abstract. Man’s error was to want to know it directly, the way he knew everyday life. The more he wanted, the more ephemeral it became.”  ~ The Power of Silence – Carlos Castaneda

Preparing to Die

•August 8, 2008 • 20 Comments

The trouble with blogging and generally writing and producing artwork on the internet (or anywhere else for that matter) it that time runs away with itself and 5, 6, or more hours can disappear in an eyeblink…

Last Thursday night was to be a ‘reading’ night, where I would catch up on what my blogging friends were up to.  So off I started at around 11pm…

Rainforest Robin was in the middle of a hot valley, with lizards under her partners trainers (go there) and Angie had managed to get another episode of “Laura” posted up (It’s like Desperate Housewives without the censorship)…Angie has four blogs in total, another one of which “Time and Oft” is a really interesting missive about vintage postcards – tonights postcard was about a world war one soldier on a short leave in a country house, before he returned to the front line…

A rumble from my stomach heralded the start of the midnight hunger pangs, so in the middle of Janet’s blog,  I thought I’d get something from the fridge. I remembered that I had bought a beef roll the previous night and hadn’t got around to eating it, so I picked up the still-wrapped roll,  made a cup of coffee and pottered back to my laptop and went back to Janet and her natural mix of spirituality and humour.

I was just finishing Janet’s post, when I thought that the taste of my spicy roll tasted a bit sweet/pungent…but I dismissed the thought and when onto Tamera’s latest post. Tammy (bet she hate’s that handle) was in an usually humorous mode. Tamera was the first blogger to read any of my posts and is a mine of good sense and strong opinions.

(This beef roll tastes great. Really pungent musty spices)

Munching away, I went onto Brainteaser who mixes spirituality with meaningful poetry. Sherma’s writing is beautiful….and then onto Ravenscawl who I have neglected lately, amongst other great writers, due to my theatre-work going into overdrive. (between us we’ve produced a great translator for “wordpress.com, complete with little country flags – see the sidebar.

By now it was around 1.30am and my eyelids were drooping a little, so I  left my darkened middle-room and headed for the brightness of the kitchen (and yet another caffeen shot)…I like to work in the dark. It runs in the family; Christina used to spend all her evenings in the dark – the light of the street-lamps was enough for her and gave a bit of a romantic glow to her front room. It’s gentle in the dark, or half-light.

Returning to the fray, I next looked at timethief, who writes a very authoratitive technical blog – and who is also very spiritual….and…on… to…Sue (sdk 1988) great rock star drawings, good sense and great videos…soul-to-soul.com is really worth having a look.

I have always been partial to rolls and pasties and this particular culinary delight was really unusual. It was marketed as a ‘beef’ roll, but it could have been any sort of meat, as the taste was quite unique.

I was begining to feel rather ‘coffeed-out’, so I entered the kitchen once again and made a mug of ‘Rosy-Lee’.

I returned with my hot tea and to Lilly of Lilly’s life that most formidable (but not forbidding!) writer, who always makes me feel that I could never write with the fluidity she possesses…and she’s so..well ‘Charismatic’ (so go there)….a good read…and then onto another cup of coffee (2.30am).

It’s partly my fault and also partly because of the erratic schedule of ‘touring’ that I suffer from diverticulitus – anyone else who spends a week or so feeling grotty every few months will understand. It’s mostly my fault though – I’m a ‘none-reconstructed-male’ or in other words a ‘lazy old git’ who has never learnt to cook and who really needs a diet of boiled vegetables and steamed fish (and boredom).  My normal intake of Burger King, Tandoori Night(mares), Oriental fillings, Mexican Tacho’s and all,  has stupidly left me with a strong exterior, but with an interior with the paint flaking-off a bit.

It was around 3am when I reached ChrissyMarie (to whom I have dedicated a widget on the sidebar – go and have a look for Card Craft.) and finished the beef roll – well almost – around 11 twelfths of the way through the foot-long torpedo, I decided that I’d had enough and that to further taunt divertic….



You see, I had switched on the light and in my hand, festered the remaining 12th of the rotten, rancid, one month old, green and black nightmare I had been intermittently munching on for the past  hour – I had picked the wrong roll from the ‘fridge.




(do not read on if you are of a sensitive disposition – I hold no responsibility for your fate, if you continue further)

It took a timeless moment for me to rationalise the situation:


P7240626 I knew I had to be sick. I didn’t want to vomit – and I hate that word…’vomit’. I have played at two theatres in England which perform ‘in the round’ and the entrance their stage or arena area, is via two entrance chutes or ‘Vometories’ –  I have never made an entrance at either of the two venues, when I didn’t feel a little queasy.

I could feel the saliva rushing to my mouth (I told you not to read on!) but I decided, as I stumbled to the loo, that it was for the best.

Only that I wasn’t sick.

No matter what I tried, the rotten roll stayed down.



I returned to the kitchen, seriously worried. I tried to work out the best time to phone Tim, our company manager. Would I be too ill to phone at around 9am – should I phone earlier? It was already 3.30am and I had to be up by nine.


Somewhere out of the distant recesses of my mind,  the memory regurgitated, of the time I choreographed and performed in a show in Margate. I had rented a flat for the season and had decided to domesticate myself (I’ve grown up now and accepted reality) and cook myself an omelette. It looked very appetising when it was ready, but I had added far, far too much salt and I was subsequently violently ill.       

So I took a half-pint tumbler and stirred as much salt into it as it would take. When the mixture had reached well beyond saturation-point, like a small silver sand-storm-twister at the bottom of the glass, I downed it in one gulp.


not even a burp





I remembered Liz telling me that people sometimes died from food  poisoning. But to snuff it from a rancid roll? 

What an utterly stupid way to depart this life



“Please God, don’t let me be remembered with a snigger!”

I remembered my mother’s words, in case of an unexpected hospital visit: so I showered and changed my clothes, tidied up the front room so that the paramedics wouldn’t be shocked at the state of the house and then, as the early grey light of dawn slowly illuminated my garden (for the last time?) I laid down on the bed fully clothed to wait for the inevitable onset of terminal stomach-pains…

The last chapter of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” finds
Scrooge in a state of delight upon waking and finding that he is still alive…

…I awoke suddenly at 9am. I was lying in exactly the same position, on top of the bedclothes, with my cellphone by my side. I got up slowly and made my way to the kichen.  There on the table lay the remainder of the beef roll. It was disgusting. I made a cup of tea and sipped it carefully – would the hot tea activate the poisonous snack? Half an hour later, it became apparent that I had escaped unharmed – I had not the slightest symptom of digestive upset and although it was to be several hours before I could bring myself to eat, I felt completely well.

Had I survived because of an iron constitution? Had the salt-water cocktail saved me from digestive demise?  Or had God indeed listened to my prayer and with celestial good humour, decided to spare me the epitaph of being “done in by a spicy beef roll”.

Upon finding that he is still alive, Scrooge changes his ways and uses his hoarded money to help all he meets, especially Tiny Tim.

So was I hoarding something – something that I could share with others, to give thanks for being spared food poisoning – or worse?

Then it came to me – I very seldom respond to all the kind comments on my posts, unlike Robin, Lilly or Tamera (and all) and furthermore. I had been given two awards, which I had not passed on or shared in any way…


Arte y Pico Award

                  Scrooge makes amends…


The “Arte y Pico” Given to me by Lilly of Lilly’s Life – Thank you so much Lilly, I really couldn’t believe it when you gave me this award. 

I had been blogging away (it seemed) to no-one (noone) and suddenly there I had a recognition that made me very happy and also tad shy…


Upon winning this award you are tasked with the following rules…

  1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language
  2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
  4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.  http://arteypico.blogspot.com


So my “Arte y Pico” people are: (Scrooge smiles and doffs his stovepipe hat)

Janet of   http://janetgardner.blogspot.com/

Chrissy of http://chrissymaries.blogspot.com

Tamera of  http://pentads.blogspot.com

Angie of Time and Oft (Okay Angie ~ Laura can have some of the glory as well)

…and Scott Sheperd of Don’t Manage Your Stress – Rekindle Your Spirit, who has a couple of blogs which are really, really excellent and who is also a great guy.

So guys…You’d better not be lazy like me, but get to work with your own awards (or watch what you eat!)


brillante Then Janet of Dolly’s Daily Diary gave me the “Brillante” Award, which I have also been hoarding and which has been gathering dust on my cyber sideboard…

I now bestow the award to the following nine bloggers…


…”Ahem”… (clears old parched throat)…  My “Brillante” Awards are to: (Scrooge smiles, his features cracking into an unaccustomed grin)…

Robin Easton of “Rainforest Robin” ~she got her Arte y Pico from Lilly at the same time as old Scrooge here…so dry off my dear and collect your award –  you wonderful writer:   http://nakedineden.com/nakedinedenblog/ 

Sherma of BrainTeaser – A great writer and poet… (and truly, truly scrumptious) 🙂

Lilly of Lilly’s Life ~ Just the best (she already has the Arte y Pico on her mantlepiece)

Truebird of The Birds in the Meadow ~ A real nature person, a self-confessed biophiliac  and an excellent photographer – so go and see her work – her writing and photography and eat your heart out…

Eric S of Ruminations of a Small Town Mountain Boy ~ I’ve only just “met” Eric. He has a really classy blog and I’m looking forward to reading him each week. (He’s also very caring)

Ravenscawl – http://ravenscawl.wordpress.com/  As he says “Mental Cannon-Fodder. Kem Shahol cares a lot and probably hurts a lot. He makes me realise how easy it is to go through life, blindfolded to the injustice all around.

Sue Kleiner of Pencil Sketches and Art  http://soul-to-soul.com – great vid’s and rock stars, artwork  and humanity.

Liara Covert (Liara5) of Dreambuilders Australia – A daily blog on what I could term spiritual human behavior. Liara has great insight and experience ~ she is another great writer I have neglected recently.

timethief of …This Time This Space – timethief is a strange mixture of spirituality and technical expertise. Again…another great blogger I have neglected recently.


So “Brillante” guys…put your award on your blogs and smile.

“Brillante” rules are…

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog. Picks I have made are under no obligation to do a post in this award. But enjoy it…

...Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely 
more;and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. 
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man 
as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town, 
or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see 
the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded
 them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened 
on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their 
fill of laughter in the outset; and, knowing that such as these 
would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less
attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite 
enough for him.
  (Charles Dickens ~ A Christmas Carol)


Finally, we are now in Lugnasadh and it is probably nearer the real birthday of Jesus, as opposed to his official one ~ well even Queen Elizabeth has two birthdays…

And so, as
Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! 

soulMerlin  ‘h’


As for me…I am so chuffed at receiving the awards, I’m going to put them on the sidebar of Flowers and Scorpions for a good long while, even though they both relate to this blog. It’s just that I can’t put them on a wordpress sidebar (I’m stupid) but I will put a link back to this blog.

Stop Press! Ravenscawl has just emailed me the code to put the awards on the sidebar (he’s just “Brill” – Thanks Kem)

I’m so happy about them….THANKS. 🙂 🙂 🙂

PS: Anyone fancy a Spicy Beef Roll?




The Miracle of the Solstice ~ The Biggest Joy

•July 14, 2008 • 13 Comments



The biggest joy was on the way home

The Earth the Moon the Sun

and the whole 360′ panorama

of the Heavens

P6200203and that was the powerful, overwhelming experience.

and suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body



and the molecules in the bodies of my

partners were prototyped and


in some ancient generation of stars

and there was an overwhelming sense

of  Oneness

of connectedness


the biggest joy 4



It wasn’t

Them and Us



it was



 the biggest joy2

       “that’s me”                                   “That’s All of it”



 It’s One Thing

the biggest joy 

and it was accompanied by an ecstasy


An Insight


An Epiphany


Words by * Edgar Mitchell – Astronaut Apollo 14

photographs by soulMerlin

Dedicated to Scott



I was watching the brilliant documentary *”In the Shadow of the Moon”, when I realized that the profound words of Edgar Mitchell applied as much to the celestial mystery of Stonehenge as they did to his return to our beautiful and fragile planet – forming a living link between today and the creators of the ancient monument to the stars, 6000 years ago.

The Stonehenge Trilogy

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part One “The Spectator

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Two “The Player”

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Three “The Biggest Joy”


*DVD – In the Shadow of the Moon

the Miracle of the Solstice

•June 23, 2008 • 6 Comments

high priestess 500

Part One ~ The Spectator

shell hornI have always wanted to go to either the Summer or the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, but I usually find myself too far away to make the trip. This year was different, as we were performing in Crawley only 90 miles away from the ancient monument and so I weighed up the pro’s and con’s…



smile1…There seemed to be a lot of reasons against going. We do a very hard schedule with two performances every day (and three on a Saturday) – it’s great, but it doesn’t leave much time for anything else…unless…unless a real effort is made. Also, my health has not been at it’s best over the past two years…probably just that I’m getting older…but I find that hard to accept…and so I decided to go.


lined manI packed a thermos of coffee, together with my winter anorak and set off from Crawley after the evening show. The weather was black and drizzly and I began to have misgivings when I saw the repeated message “long delays on M3” flashed up on the information boards on the crowded motorway, which looked like a scene from Bullitt or the Gumball Rally. (Driving standards in the UK have become a joke).



nosesI stopped for a meal at the first services on the M3, only to find a barren overpriced franchise-arcade. The vision of an  expensive but delicious grill faded in the reality of the municipal toilet-paved concourse, with it’s Burger King and KFC stalls, complete with diffident staff. After wandering around for a while, I settled for a self-service coffee and a packed sandwich and continued toward Stonehenge.


surpriseAs it was, the “long delays” turned out to be a stop-start pause of around ten minutes, due to “cone-practice” – (a long line of cones and no workmen) and I soon found myself diverted into the Solstice car park. It  was still only half-past two so I sat in the car and had a coffee. Time passed slowly as I watched the neighbouring van, with it’s hippy throw-back passengers and booming speakers. I began to have misgivings as to exactly what I had let myself in for.


close encounters

I got out of the car at 3.30 and set off in the drizzle and mud, through the car park, which looked like a scene from “Close Encounters”,  towards the meeting-point, where at last I managed to get a bacon sandwich. I was really hungry by this time and ate it along the way (and wished I had bought two). There is something very special about a bacon sandwich in the cold morning air.

The atmosphere around me was becoming tribal, with people talking to each other more openly and excitedly than in their umbrella tentday to day lives.

“You been comin’ here for years, ‘ave yer?”

I looked at the young hoody – “No, my first time”

……”Really?”  he replied.

(I wondered what he meant….)

“see yer later mate”

(mate!) …. “Yes…See You”.


P6200300-1 Then I realised that with my white beard, I looked the most ‘really-Druid’ of all the visitors there – maybe as much as my fantasy mythical (?) ancestor , who it seems put the whole thing up in the first place. So there…


P6200134…I stood in the light rain,  as the sounds grew and the atmosphere built towards the crescendo of dawn.   A group of student revellers sang and chanted to drumbeats and horns, on a  sacred platform of sandstone, erected 3000 years before the birth of Christ.


Were the fuzzy orbs on my LCD screen, spirit visitors from 3000 BC – or just condensation from the humid air? Certainly the spirit of the swaying mass before me was strong, but not at all dangerous. I am always cautious of group atmosphere in a crowded situation – this one was rowdy but good natured.

girl and bottle 510pix-1 I stumbled around the perimeter of  prehistoric  cathedral, which over the ages has been used as a temple, a burial ground and an observatory of the universe. Stonehenge is 6,000 years old and it continued to be rebuilt, extended and modified, from it’s inception, up until around the time of Jesus.

This suggests  that the motivation for continuing the work, was passed down from generation to generation, rather than solely from within the political and social events of any particular era. 


P6200152-1The Pagan wheel of the year turns on the axis of the Winter and Summer Solstices. The Summer Solstice marks the point at which the sun is nearest to us in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the time of masculine strength and there is nothing random in the fact  that Father’s Day occurs around this time. Many of our calendar dates derive from the old beliefs. Most people know that our days of the week include the Sun (Sunday) and the Moon (Monday) and that old gods such as Thor are represented as the weekdays. Fewer realise that even the term “Month” derives from “Moonth” The cycle of life on earth is governed by the “Nurturing Goddess” and the Celestial cycle by the “God-Creator”  Now the Goddess has conceived once more.


blue dawn at stonehenge 500pixAfter a while, I retreated from the pushing and jostling and watched the blue dawn from a nearby ridge, in company with a photographer, a tripod and his bored wife, who had wrapped herself in an exposure blanket and who stood, motionless and miserable with the raindrops running down her face like tears.


stonehenge monolith

The sound and the beat continued to grow with the light and I decided to leave, thinking that I had seen ‘it’ and that ‘it’ had been a bit dismal with not so much as a glimmer of Sol. But something was missing. I knew I could now say that I’d ‘done’ Stonehenge, but to me that would have been rather like flying to another country and staying in the arrivals terminal. So I returned and pushed my way into the edge of the inner circle of stones.


Stonehenge is made from gigantic slabs of sandstone, transported hundreds of miles by ship and land and constructed directly and mysteriously on a ley-line. Ley lines are the paths of the earth’s natural energy – the energy was there and it was growing….


The Stonehenge Trilogy

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part One “The Spectator”

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Two “The Player”

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Three “The Biggest Joy”


All photography by (c)soulMerlin

Dreaming of Christina

•June 1, 2008 • 11 Comments

young-christina.jpg“We are such stuff As Dreams are made on” ~ William Shakespeare

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my mother’s passing. I remember the first anniversary of her death as a bittersweet celebration of her life, in which I sheltered like a hermit crab. The second year passed on a swell of faith and joy.  But now the third year had ushered in a cold loneliness and the guilt of fading Grief.

Grief returned near the end of the second show of the day. I was standing on stage and looking up into the light when I realised that I couldn’t sing. I needed a sign that she was still with me in spirit. Not a sign born of self-delusion, but one that would bring me close to her again.

I phoned my ex-wife Liz in the break between the shows. Liz immediately told me that she had been sorting out her VHS cassette collection that afternoon, when she discovered a tape she had neglected to label. She put it on – to discover it was a tape of my mother I had left the last time Christina and I visited her.                

“She looked so strong and healthy” said Liz.                                          

I felt so much better, but I was unprepared for the second sign.           I awoke suddenly at around three in the morning, in the middle of a vivid dream…

We were sitting in the back of a large limousine and speeding along a highway that rose and fell as if we were riding on a roller coaster, a ‘big dipper’ as she used to call them. Christina sat with me to my right and as I looked across at her and beyond, I could see a beautiful blue sky above the ocean and  the sunlight sparkling like stars around her head.                                                                                                                                                                                

“This is where I live” I said.                                                              

When we arrived at my home, which I did not recognise, I made her comfortable in a big house. But I knew that she would soon leave.  Then I heard an urgent voice: “She’s going to die.”

I rushed to Christina’s bedside and cupped her head in my hands. Around me were women all weeping for my mother.  I knew I could help her live and gradually I felt her heartbeat flutter and then begin to grow and travel up my arms until it became mine. Her eyes opened and they were beautiful. I could feel the joy all around me as I held all of her inexplicably in my hands. Then her gaze looked upward, and so I lifted her…

…until I was alone in the grey dawn above the granite city.

After breakfast I decided to have one last stroll through Aberdeen, before catching my flight home to Coventry. Maybe it was the sudden change in the weather that made me turn into the bookshop or maybe it was a gentle nudge, but I found myself reaching for a book that attracted me and looking at the preface.

“What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand?  Ah, what then?” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It was the third joy.


The Tree of Life

•May 18, 2008 • 13 Comments

It was early Sunday morning and I had driven overnight from Glasgow.  I knew that if I went straight home, sleep would ambush me and I would wake around 4 o’clock in the afternoon with that awful feeling of having ‘missed the day’. So I decided to go and see Martin’s Oak.

The sky was turning a dusty rose as I turned off the ignition and the silence after hours of engine noise was startling. I wound down the window and breathed in the heady smell of the morning air, as I watched the dusty-rose light growing in the east.

The light was increasing rapidly, so I finished the sandwich and coffee I had bought along the way and set off across the field towards the Oak. matins1 

The power of the Oak is immense and demands respect. The first time I approached the ancient tree of life, I felt a living spirit and an aura which radiated far beyond it’s branches. Yet this morning I felt a difference, the Oak seemed like a child waiting for it’s father – for it’s Creator. Like a priest turning towards the altar, the Oak stood, as if waiting for a greater power.

I approached quietly and stood beside the ancient trunk. 

…From under the arms of the sacred tree and safe within it’s aura, I looked out over the lagoon of mist that filled the valley and the dawn breaking in the east.


under the oak copyright 

then I saw the Miracle

the sun god (2) copyright 

and then


my camera power ran out.

For a moment my elation was replaced with despair –  suddenly I remembered  a set of batteries I had bought some time ago and which had gone missing. Perhaps they were in the car. I turned and ran across the field, like a best man at a wedding who has forgotten the ring, with the mocking harsh laughter of the crows, the smokey hoot of a woodpigeon and a teasing chorus of twittering laughter from the hidden nests in the ancient forest.

I reached the car and thrust my hand into the mass of luggage on the rear seat…

…and found them.


the oak from the car copyright

I turned and ran back toward the tree; the light of the sun was now blinding, so I veered to the right so that the sun would be behind the oak – and skidded to a stop. I was out of breath but my hands were shaking for another reason, as I took photograph after photograph…

the oak womb copyright

“I am the tree of life”

  born again copyrightthe rising sun copyright   












“and  I am the Sun born over and over “

  amen copyright      




souls and fireworks

•April 10, 2008 • 13 Comments

485px-2006_Fireworks_15-1When the war ended, my parents rented three rooms in what must have been the servants quarters of a crumbling but still impressive building.

Riverside House stood, in all it’s pebble-dashed and whitewashed glory, near the boathouse on the banks of the River Wear in Durham. The three small rooms had no running water and no electricity, but my parents filled the house with so much love that I was proud to be the only child at school who had gas lighting and who could, just like the cowboys, dip his cup into the large urn of water that stood by the kitchen sink. 

My evenings were spent in the amber glow of the two gas mantles, that hung on the wall above our fireplace.  My mother would read to me , as we sat toasting our feet on the hearth of the open coal fire in the enchanted living-room, with the night-creatures of my young imagination, dancing and flickering in the hot coals by our feet.

On stormy nights, my parents would turn off the gas and as the mantles dimmed through red to darkness, we would sit and watch the forked lightening rip and tear at the sky, as the grove of trees behind the house howled and roared at the disturbing wind.

In the summer, my parents would take me to watch the firework display that ended the Durham Regatta. I enjoyed “Boat Race Day” with it’s  contests between the blazer-clad teams of posh-voiced university students, but my anticipation and excitement was reserved for the firework display that ended the festival. The show would begin with WhizzBangs and Catherine Wheels, but the best moment of the display was always saved for the finale, when a mass of rockets would curve upward and then burst like gigantic flowers across the night sky.

When it was her turn to go, my mother’s soul opened and wrapped me in a cloud of everything she had been, before she flashed into the darkness and dissolved into the stars.  

When the firework display had ended, we would carefully pick our way back along the darkening river banks toward home, with the distant rumble in our ears, whispering the promise of another show before bed-time.

No trace remains of the old house by the river banks. The tall trees have long gone and the wind laments, as it moans and swirls through the concrete pillars and the empty vaults of the multi-storey car park that now covers the suffocating earth.

Sometimes when I am quiet and open, she returns with the house and the trees and we sit together in the warm glow, just as we did so many years ago.


(firework illustration – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:2006_Fireworks_15.JPG)

yes…it’s Wikimedia

Durham Regatta  Google Images