Frivolous Magic – ‘When There Were Witches’ concludes

When There Were Witches continues from yesterday:


The twins stayed up half the night changing the colour of everything in the house. They put different coloured floorboards in every room, with ceilings to match. They made the roof tiles blue to match the sky, and the outside walls green to match the grass. They changed the colours of their clothes and their bed sheets and both umbrellas. They tried to change their hair colours but that didn’t work. Their hair was essential to who they were. Bertha was red, Brynja was yellow. Nothing could change that.

A little after 4am they collapsed on Brynja’s bed, exhausted and happy.

“I see why you like doing it.” Bertha smiled, “It feels really nice.”

Really nice,” agreed Brynja, “but you’re right, it is a bit frivolous.” They both laughed. “Tomorrow, we should do spells from the Garden chapter!”


By the anniversary of their mother’s departure, the twins were not only proficient at many of the spells in the book, they had learned to make up their own. They wrote a spell to do the dishes, another to sweep the floor. They used magic to plant seeds and water them. They used magic to pick the fruit. They even used magic to cook the dinner. Whatever needed to be done when they didn’t feel like doing it, was done with magic. That left them with a lot of time on their hands.

“I’m bored,” said Brynja.

“Do some painting. It’s fun!” Bertha was painting a portrait of one of their frequent visitors, a pig called Alfred. “Alfred. Alfred, tt-tt-tt – look at me please darling, I’m trying to do your eyes.”

Brynja scrunched up her nose. “Naa. I don’t see the point. I could do it better with magic.”

“Well it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact I think it’s nicer if …”

Circumlinisti stibio verus Alfred!”

Alfred vanished.

Bertha gasped. “Alfred! … Where did he go?”

“Here he is!” Brynja, grinning, held up a beautifully framed painting of Alfred which was faultlessly realistic.

Bertha was stunned. “That’s amaz-ing … did he just blink?” Her sister laughed. “Is that Alfred? Did you turn him into a painting?!” Bertha did not think it was funny. “Change him back! You’re frightening him!”

“He’s fine.”

“Change him back! Now!”

Brynja muttered a few more words in Latin and Alfred was back on the armchair momentarily before dropping to the floor and leaving the house.

“How could you do that?” Bertha was really angry.

“He’ll be back tomorrow, you can finish your painting then.”

“I don’t care about the painting! How could you do that to Alfred? He must have been petrified! How would you like it if …?”

“Oh will you, chill, out!”

Bertha glared.

“I didn’t hurt him. He probably doesn’t even have any memory of it. He’s fine!” Brynja left the room and slammed the door behind her.

The following morning at breakfast the atmosphere was still frosty. Both witches ate their toast in silence.

Refresh!” Bertha opened the window.

Clausa fenestrae.” Brynja closed it.

Bertha scowled. “You’re such a … witch!”

“Ha! Good one!”

Bertha took another bite of toast and tried to take the high road. But the low road beckoned. “What’s with the Latin all of a sudden? You’re such a show off!”

Brynja smiled coldly. “Just wanted a new challenge I guess, since I’ve mastered the magic.” There was a wicked glint in her eye as she slowly pushed the toast rack across the table. “You can have this, I don’t want any more,” and she left the room.

They didn’t speak to each other for the rest of the day. The next morning Brynja slept in so Bertha had breakfast on her own. Brynja had hers a couple of hours later which meant they weren’t ready for lunch at the same time, or dinner. The distance between them expanded. Eventually, almost a week after the painting incident, Alfred came back to see Bertha.

She could tell right away that he was troubled and, with a swift and gentle magic word, “Speak,” she enabled him to tell her exactly what was on his mind. He warned her that Brynja was upsetting the balance of nature. For her own amusement, she had taken possession of the forest and filled it with plants and animals who didn’t belong there, forcing out those who had always called it home. He feared for the future and told her what she already knew – that Brynja must be stopped.

Bertha finally understood why her mother had kept the spell book from them. Magic had made Brynja arrogant and selfish. She had separated herself from nature and the other beings with whom she shared the world. Magic had made her think she was better than everyone else. But what was more worrying was that Bertha had not been sent the pain when Brynja broke the law. The one law, do naught to others which, if done to thee, would cause thee pain, did not apply to witches.

Bertha rushed upstairs to find the spell book and turned straight to the last chapter: Discipline Spells. There was the spell Ermendrud had taught them, To Punish A Law Breaker, and one other – A Last Resort. The spell’s introduction explained that a witch without self-control was the most dangerous threat a world could face and must be stopped at all costs. Bertha was sickened by detailed descriptions of horrors which had happened on other worlds where errant witches had gone unchecked. Only she could protect her world from such an outcome.

With heavy heart she collected the ingredients needed for the spell: a lock of Brynja’s hair from Mother’s locket, and a black rose. Then she went to find her sister.

Brynja was in the meadow, using magic to make a herd of deer run races for her amusement.

“Please don’t do that,” Bertha tried one more time to appeal to her sister’s better nature.

Brynja turned and scowled. “I want to do it, so I will!”

Bertha was sad. “Why are you doing this? You never used to be like this. Magic’s made you mean.”

“What do you know about magic? You’ve only just dipped your toe in the water. If you embraced it like I have you’d know how small your life is.”

“My life is full. It’s balanced. Yours is dangerous. You are dangerous, and if you don’t stop now, I’ll be forced to stop you.”

“Will you?” Brynja asked with a smirk.

“Yes,” said Bertha sadly, “if you won’t stop now I’ll stop you permanently.”

Brynja threw back her head and laughed. “I’m bored of listening to you now,” and, with a flourish, “Silence!”

In the second before Brynja’s spell hit her, Bertha rubbed a handful of her own hair against the black rose behind her back and whispered the magic word, “Sacrifice!” A moment later she was nothing but a scattering of poppy seeds in the grass.

“Nooo!” Brynja’s heart-rending cry filled the sky. “Bertha! Come back! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to do it!” She dropped to her knees and sobbed. “Please Bertha, please come back. I’ll be good – I promise! Pleease Bertha, please come back!” With her prayer left unanswered, she tried desperately to resurrect Bertha with magic. “Veni domum! Come back! Revive! Resurrect! Revivesco!

Bertha, unable to bring herself to take her sister’s life, had sacrificed herself in a way that she hoped would fill Brynja with such regret that she would, ever after, restrain her own excessive and frivolous use of magic. What she didn’t anticipate was just how damaging that regret would be.

Thinking that her own selfish and unnecessary abuse of magic had killed her sister, Brynja tore into her house in a violent rage against all magic. Unable to find the spell book where she’d left it, she commanded it to appear before her.

Ego legere magicae ex hoc mundo!” In that moment the spell book was banished and with it all of Brynja’s magic.

She still feels the pain every time someone breaks the law, but she can’t cast the spell to punish them.  So the world has been left to the mercy of people who no longer fear the wrath of a benevolent witch and often don’t take care to do as they would be done by.  I’m sure you know what kind of a world that is.

A sad ending 😦 I’m sorry,

but if you want a happy ending check out the other stories on the fairy tales page 😀


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Story continues from yesterday

[This is a darkly comic satire not recommended for readers under 12]

Story continues tomorrow 😉


Maddicts was remade with Comic Life by Plasq

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Feet off the seats!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Story continues from yesterday:

When they arrived at the station the ticket office was closed but the side gate to platform one was open.  Joe cupped his hands around his eyes and peered through the waiting room window.  A man sat on one of the benches, reading. Above him on the wall was a large painting of a steam train.  Nothing else.

“Better check the other platform,” said Luke.

Over the bridge, at platform two, a four coach train sat idle and empty.  The doors were all open so Luke climbed aboard.  After looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching, Joe followed him.

The girls checked out the waiting room and found a large rack full of leaflets.  They removed and bagged everything advertising zoos, aquariums and farm parks before dividing a huge pile of Action Medical Research leaflets and sitting down to add some unemotional statements of fact.  When they were about half way through they were startled by an announcement that the train now standing on platform two was the 13:55 service to London Euston. Tania stood up and looked out the window.

“Are they there?” asked Isabel.

“Can’t see them but they must have heard that.  Mustn’t they?”


“I can’t reach.”

“Stand on the seat.”

Luke checked the carriage was still empty before doing as Joe suggested.  “There,” he said, “that looks good doesn’t it, as though it was meant to be there.”

A fast repeating pinging sound preceded the whoosh of the closing doors.  “This is the Urban City Link service to London Euston, calling at Antsworth, Merton Abbot, Furling, Furling Airport Parkway and London Euston.”

“Uh oh,” said Luke.

Joe rushed to the door and repeatedly pressed the OPEN button.

“It’s not gonna open now,” said Luke, “the train’s moving.”

“I don’t wanna go to London!” said Joe, “what shall we do?  Pull the cord?”

“It’s alright,” said Luke, “we’ll just get off at the next station and catch another train back.”

“But we haven’t got a ticket!  Have you got any money?”


“Nor have I!  So we can’t buy a ticket!”

Luke laughed.  “Stop panickin’.  There’s prob’ly not even a ticket checker on here.”

“Isn’t there?”

“I haven’t seen one, have you?”

“Well I didn’t see a driver either but I’m guessin’ there’s one of them on here.”

“First thing’s first,” said Luke, “we need to check the other three carriages for ads like that one.”

They walked from the fourth to the third carriage where a woman sat with her dog at one end, and a man watched telly on his computer half way down.  There were no ads that needed fixing so they continued on to the second carriage.  The second carriage contained a family of four at a table in the middle and a couple of teenagers at the far end.  Again there were no ads that needed fixing so they continued on to the first.  As they opened the connecting door the automated announcement informed them that they were now approaching Antsworth.  Luke saw an ad the same as the one in the fourth carriage so he pulled out his stickers and labelled it while the train slowed down and the platform came into view.

“Come on, we’d better get off,” said Joe, very relieved that there hadn’t been a ticket checker and a little embarrassed that he’d panicked for nothing.  When the train stopped the OPEN button lit up and Joe pressed it. They were about to step off when Luke noticed another of the same ads at the front of the carriage and rushed down there to deal with it.


“Don’t say my name!”  Within seconds Luke was up on the seat affixing a sticker.

“Hey!”  The conductor appeared out of nowhere.  “No feet on the seats!”

“Sorry,” said Luke, jumping down.

“Quick!” called Joe.

Luke ran back to Joe as the fast repeating ping told them the doors were about to close.

“No running!” commanded the conductor.

“Sorry,” said Luke again before exiting sideways between the closing doors and landing safely on the platform.

Joe took a deep breath and exhaled.

“When’s the next train back?” asked Luke.

“I dunno, we’ll have to go over the other side.”

There was a twenty three minute wait for the next train to Belton which was put to good use in the Antsworth waiting rooms.

“You know they have CCTV cameras on trains,” said Tania when they finally got back.

“Really?” Luke scratched his chin. “Oh well.”


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The importance of being not loud

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Story continues from yesterday:

On Sunday at midday the Society met outside the bus station.

“If you get spotted, just walk away,” said Tania, “they can’t stop you.”

“Can’t they?”

“No, that would be assault.  All they can do is tell you to leave and ban you from coming back.”

Luke and Joe weren’t worried.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to get caught,” Isabel reminded them, “if anyone sees you they’ll just peel the stickers right off and we want them to stay on as long as possible.  We’ve got to be discreet.”

“You’re very bossy for someone who’s new to bein’ sneaky,” said Luke.  “Don’t worry about us, this is right up our wheelhouse.”

Tania and Isabel looked at each other uneasily.

“Mmm,” said Tania, tapping her fingers against her bottom lip, “but sometimes you’re loud.”

Luke grinned.  “On’y when I need to be.”

Armed with eight strips of stickers each, the Society marched into town.  First to get stuck was a BHF ad on a bus shelter.  Luke put a sticker under the slogan “Fight For Every Heart Beat”.  Next was a CRUK ad in front of the supermarket.  Joe put a sticker under the slogan “This Is Race For Life”.  Then there were three more bus stops.  They displayed ads for Diabetes UK, BHF and Kidney Research UK.  The Society made all of them more transparent.

“This street is looking decidedly more honest,” said Tania smiling.

When they got to the shops they decided to work in pairs.  Joe and Isabel went into the British Heart Foundation, while Tania and Luke went two doors up to Cancer Research UK.

BHF wasn’t very busy and there was only one member of staff behind the counter.  Joe tried to look like a normal shopper, picking things up, looking at them, deciding against them and putting them back down.  Every time a customer approached the cashier, he took the opportunity to place a sticker somewhere – on a shelf in front of the books, on a price tag, on a rack of birthday cards.  He made sure he wasn’t in view of any other customers first, but there weren’t many so that wasn’t difficult.  Isabel, meanwhile, grabbed a couple of dresses off the rail and went straight to a changing cubicle.  Safe behind the curtain, she affixed one sticker to the bottom right hand corner of the mirror and another to the poster on the wall.  Then she decided against the dresses, returned them to the rail, chose an alternative and retreated to the second cubicle to do it all again.  Emerging to find a woman waiting to try something on, she decided it was time to leave.  Joe was already outside having successfully labelled the leaflet stand and the open door.  He wanted to sticker the shop window too but Isabel shook her head.  It wasn’t safe.  Too many people around.

They got to the CRUK shop, which had several stickers on the window, just as Luke and Tania were coming out.  The looks on their faces indicated their mission had been equally successful.  The four of them walked away together in a slow, relaxed, unsuspicious manner.

“It’s cool being an activist,” said Tania.

“Yeah,” said Isabel, “I wanna do it again.”

“I don’t think there are any more bad charity shops here.  Unless – what about Marie Curie?”

Isabel looked at the list.  “No, Marie Curie’s on the green list – it does say they belong to the Association of Medical Research Charities which makes them say they support animal research on their website but they don’t actually do any.”

“I’ve seen charity ads on trains,” said Luke, “let’s go to the station!”

So the Society walked briskly to the railway station, passing as they did a big red British Heart Foundation collection bin begging for a couple of unarguable truths.

“I need some more,” said Luke.

“Why, how many have you got left?” asked Tania.

“One.  How many have you got?”

“Forty two.”

Luke grinned.  “Can I have some of yours then?”

Joe laughed.  “How have you got through fifty five stickers?”

“I put ’em on the price tags.”

“On the clothes?”


“All of them?”

“As many as I could.  I couldn’t do the last one coz the man was starin’ at me.”

The others looked at him without saying a word.

“What?  I wasn’t loud,” he said defensively.


Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀


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For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Story continues from yesterday:

When they found the stall, which was always in town on Saturdays, only one person stood behind it and it wasn’t Kris.

“Hello you lot,” said Andy, “long time no see.”

“Hello,” said Tania.

“Hello,” said Isabel.

“Hello,” said Joe.

“Have you got any stickers?” asked Luke.

“No,” said Andy.

“Is Kris here?”

Andy looked under the table.  “Erm, no, I’m afraid she isn’t.”  He stood back up, “anything I can help you with?”

“Can I have one of these?” asked Joe, reaching for the red and green charities lists.  Andy nodded.

“Oh, get one for me as well,” said Tania.

“And me,” said Luke.

“Anything else?” asked Andy.

They all shook their heads.

“No thanks,” said Isabel, “see ya.”

They hadn’t expected Andy to have what they were looking for but, still, they were disappointed.

“Maybe there’s a website we could order some from,” wondered Joe.

Luke’s eyes lit up.  “Or,” he said, “we could do it with a marker pen!”

Joe wasn’t opposed to that idea but Tania and Isabel were.

“It’d take too long to write on every poster – much greater chance of being seen,” said Tania.

“Hang on a minute,” said Isabel, looking across the street at something. “I’ve got an idea!”

Tania knew what she was thinking and the two of them grabbed the boys’ arms and dragged them into WHSmith’s. They walked towards the back of the shop until they reached the stationery section and, more specifically, the printer paper.

“We don’t need ready-made stickers,” said Isabel, “we can make our own!”


Tania switched on her laptop, clicked Google Chrome and searched for how to print labels with OpenOffice.  Isabel sat at her laptop which was connected to Tania’s dad’s printer.  The boys stood behind her and watched.

“Open OpenOffice Writer,” Tania told her.

Isabel opened OpenOffice Writer.

“Click FILE, point to NEW and then select LABELS from the drop-down menu,” said Tania.

“Done,” said Isabel after a couple of seconds.

“Click the LABELS tab.”


“Now you need to choose the labels’ brand from the drop-down list where it says BRAND.”


“And then choose the label code from the list marked TYPE.”

“What’s our label code?”

“erm,” Joe pulled a sheet of sticky labels from the printer, “it says software code – is that it?”

“Let’s see,” said Isabel and she searched the list for the code he read to her.

“Got it.”

“Okay.  Under OPTIONS select ENTIRE PAGE.”


“Now click NEW DOCUMENT.”

As soon as Isabel did that, a page of blank labels appeared on the screen.  Everyone smiled.

“That was easy,” said Luke.

“So far so good,” said Isabel.  “Now, what do we want to put on them?”

“British Heart Foundation experiments on animals,” said Tania.

“And Cancer Research UK experiments on animals,” said Luke.

“Okay,” said Isabel, “let’s go down the red list and do a sheet for each charity that’s got a shop in town.”

“Right,” said Tania, picking up the list.

“Why don’t we just do one for all?” asked Joe.

“What d’you mean?”

“Well it’s not just shops we need ’em for.  You never know when you’re gonna see a poster or an ad for any of these charities, so we need to always be prepared.  We should have one sticker that’ll work for all of them.”

“Good idea,” said Tania, “something like ‘WE ARE VIVISECTORS’.”

“Yes!” said Luke.

Isabel shook her head.  “We don’t want it to sound like name-calling.  It’s got to be unarguable.  An unemotional statement of fact.”

Everyone nodded.


Everyone nodded again and Isabel typed.

“Centre it,” said Tania, “and enlarge it to fill the label.  Good.  Now copy and paste it onto all of them.”

Isabel clicked SAVE and PRINT. “They can’t argue with that!”Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀


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Luke Walker chapter 23 starts here!

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Chapter Twenty Three:

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Good luck with it.  I’m glad someone’s finally taking them to task for this,” the old lady smiled and continued on her way.

“How many does that make?” asked Luke.

“Seven hundred and eighty one.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Yeah but I’d rather have a thousand.”

“When we’ve got a thousand we should send it to ’em.”

“Yeah.  Then they’ll have to listen.”  Tania put the petition clipboard into her bag and the Society made their way back along the pedestrianised precinct.

“Sponsor us to do the fun run?”  Two small boys dressed in Cubs uniforms sat at a table behind a pile of sponsor forms.

Isabel smiled.  “What are you raising money for?”

“Hearts Foundation,” answered one of them.

“The British Heart Foundation,” their Akela corrected him.

Isabel looked at her list.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” she told them, “the British Heart Foundation is on the red list.  We can’t support them.”

“What’s the red list?” asked the other boy.

Isabel showed him.  “Charities on the red list do experiments on animals.”

“What kind of experiments?”

“They poison ’em, give ’em diseases, cut ’em up and then kill ’em,” Luke explained.

The boys looked shocked.

“Why’d they do that?” asked one of them.

“They say they do it because they’re trying to find cures for human diseases,” said Tania, “but it’s pointless because human bodies are not the same as other animals so they don’t react the same to diseases or medicines.”

“I’m not doing it!” said one of the Cubs firmly.

“Nor am I,” agreed the other one.

“Are you sure?” asked the Akela, “The British Heart Foundation?  Surely they already know what causes heart disease, and how to prevent it.”

Isabel showed her the list.

“My goodness, there’s a lot of them on here,” she said, making a mental note to cancel her standing order to the Wellcome Trust.

“Shall we pack up?” asked a Cub.

“There’s a list of good charities on the other side,” said Isabel, “you could support one of them instead.”

The woman turned the leaflet over and looked at the green list.  “Oh yes, there’s a lot to choose from .…… Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research …… ooh there’s a heart one – Heart UK, the Cholesterol Charity.”

“Let’s do that one!”

The Akela picked up the sponsor forms and thought for a moment.  “Okay,” she said, “this is actually an easy fix. We’ll get some new sponsor forms printed at the library with Heart UK on them instead of British Heart Foundation and then we can come back here and pick up where we left off!”

The boys were slightly disappointed, having reasoned that the abandonment of BHF would mean they could pack up for the day, but they were very pleased that at least they wouldn’t be supporting animal cruelty.

“Where can I get one of those by the way?”

Isabel looked at the small print at the bottom of the list, “Animal Aid makes them,” she said, “animal aid dot org dot UK.”

“Right.  Thank you for telling me.”  The Akela smiled and escorted her Cubs to the library.


“That’s the third time that’s happened to me,” said Isabel.

“Cubs asking you for money?” asked Joe.

“No, someone thanking me for telling them about a charity that’s experimenting on animals.  And they all said they won’t support them again.”

“It just goes to show,” said Tania, “most people don’t want their money spent on animal torture.”

“Yeah!  So it should be the law that when charities ask for money they have to tell people exactly what it’ll be used for.”

“Yeah,” said Joe, “they should put it on their posters.”

“And on their shop windows and their collectin’ tins and their adverts,” added Luke.

“Yeah!” said Tania, “let’s have some real transparency!”

“If only!” said Isabel.

“If wishes were horses,” said Luke, without really knowing what that meant, “we could make a horse of a different colour!”


“We should do it!”

“Do what?”

“Put the truth on their posters.”

“You mean stickers,” said Joe, the only person who could follow Luke’s train of thought.

“I do.”

Isabel and Tania looked at each other and smiled.

“On’y thing is,” said Luke, “where do we get the stickers?”



Story continues tomorrow 😀


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“I know you”

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Story continues from yesterday:


There was a long, uncomfortable silence in which both boys pretended to read.  Joe didn’t dare tell Luke his secret and Luke was hurt by Joe’s lack of confidence in him.  There was no one else in the house.  Joe’s parents were away for the weekend and Janet, who had been left in charge, had gone to a party.

“How long ’til Janet’s back?” asked Luke eventually.

Joe looked at the clock on the wall.  “I’m usually asleep before she gets back,” he said, “what time have you got to go?”

“Maybe I should go now,” Luke wondered aloud.

Joe felt sad.  “I keep my food separate coz my mum lied to me,” he mumbled.

“What d’you mean?”

“She gave me meat – for three months! – and I didn’t know.  I didn’t know but I was eating lamb!” his voice trembled with emotion.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I should’ve known.  I should’ve been able to tell.”

“How?  She told you it was soya.  It’s not your fault.”

“I liked it,” he confessed in a barely audible whisper.

“Joe.  Listen to me.”  Luke’s voice was quiet but firm.  “It’s not your fault.  They make soya things taste like meat on purpose so people who like meat will eat it.  You didn’t know.  An’ I know that for a fact coz I know you and I know you wouldn’t have eaten it if you’d even suspected it was meat.”

Joe felt the huge weight he’d been carrying fall away.  He looked up at his smiling friend and smiled back.

“So you have your own separate food?”


“D’you buy it yourself?”

“Yeah.  She gives me the money.”

“D’you cook it yourself?”




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Important Work

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Story continues from yesterday:

A few weeks earlier, Luke and Joe had been doing some important work after school.

“Hold the bag open.”

“Hang on.”  Joe had let go of the bag while he searched the brambles and weeds.  He stepped back to open the bag for Luke who dropped another three half-metre lengths of barbed wire into it.  “I want a go with the bolt cutters now,” said Joe.

“In a minute,” said Luke as he went back to the line he was on, “I wanna get all of this, up to the tree.”

The field hadn’t had any crops in it for as long as the boys could remember.  It was just grass.  Sometimes there were deer, early in the morning, or just after sunset.  That’s what made Luke want to get the barbed wire.  It had been strung up a long time ago, between the field and the woods, and a lot of it was loose and trailing across the ground, partly hidden by dead leaves. Or it was hanging slackly between the trees.  It was a hazard for wild animals and needed to be removed.

“Okay, here you go,” said Luke, generously sharing Joe’s dad’s bolt cutters with Joe.

“Thanks,” Joe cut the strand he’d found into manageable chunks and dropped them into the bag.  “Is there any more?”

“I think that’s the worst of it,” said Luke, “there’s plenty of safe gaps for the deer to come through now.”  He lifted the bag to test its weight.  “I think we’ll have to come back another day for the rest.”

“Okay,” said Joe, making a mental note to be the first with the bolt cutters next time.  He tucked the implement under his coat and Luke carried the bag.

“This can prob’ly be recycled,” said Luke as they walked back into the village, “it’s good metal.  They could melt it down and do somethin’ useful with it.”

“Yeah, like make …. something,” said Joe when his imagination failed him.  “Anyway, see ya.”

Luke turned right into the cul-de-sac and Joe continued for another five minutes before coming to his own house.  He usually went in through the front door but because he needed to return the bolt cutters to the garage first, he went in the back.  He opened the door just in time to see his mum dividing a tray of minced lamb between the large casserole dish and the small one.

Joe was stunned.  “What are you doing?”

“Oh good grief!” exclaimed his mother with her hand on her heart, “you gave me a fright!  What are you creeping about for?  Make some noise when you sneak into a room!”

Thursday was shepherd’s pie night in the Currant household.  Joe’s mum used minced lamb for everybody else but she made him a separate one with soya mince.  He loved shepherd’s pie.  He’d always loved it.  It was his favourite meal.  That’s why, in spite of everything she’d said at the beginning, she made a separate one, just for him.  It was so nice for Joe to know that his mum was finally listening; finally respecting his choices and doing her best to accommodate them.

“What are you doing?” Joe asked again.

His mum paused briefly before baring her teeth in an embarrassed grin.  “Ah, you caught me.”

“Why are you putting lamb in my dish?” Joe’s pained expression made her feel a little bit guilty.

“I’m sorry love, I ran out of soya.  I hoped you wouldn’t notice.”

“I would notice!” said Joe angrily, “I absolutely would notice!”

“Is that right?” said Mrs Currant, her sympathy chased away by her son’s insolence, “well you haven’t noticed for the last three months!”

Joe’s jaw dropped.  “Three months? You’ve been giving me meat for three months?”

“What’s the difference?  You didn’t notice!  I ran out of your stuff in December but I knew how disappointed you’d be if you couldn’t have your precious shepherd’s pie so I used real mince.  Just this once, I thought.  What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  And I was right, you couldn’t tell the difference.  You loved it!  So I took that as a sign.”

“A sign of what?  That your son’s an idiot for trusting his mother?”

“I don’t like your tone young man and if you don’t apologise this minute I’m going to tell your father!”

“Me apologise?  You lied to me!  I can’t believe I’ve been eating meat for three months!  I feel sick!”

“Oh stop being so melodramatic!  You ate meat for years before you started on this fad.  And the rest of us still do. Do you find us disgusting?  Is it so disgusting to eat food made in this kitchen?”

“It depends on the food,” said Joe, “and it depends who made it!”

“Really?” Mrs Currant was outraged.  She’d never seen this side of Joe before and she didn’t like it one bit.  “Well, since I’m the only one in this house who makes the food, that’s going to be a problem for you isn’t it?”

“No,” said Joe firmly, “because you’re not going to make my dinners any more.  I’ll make them myself!”

“Will you?  Okay, well you can do your own shopping as well then! I’ll give you a food allowance and you can do your own shopping, your own cooking and your own washing up!”

By the following day Joe’s anger had given way to shame.  He was ashamed he hadn’t been able to tell he was eating lamb.  Even more ashamed that he’d enjoyed it.  He decided then and there he could never tell Luke.  Not ever.


Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀


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Luke Walker Chapter 22 starts here!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 22:  Trust

“We should do it with the lights off,” Luke suggested, “have you got any candles?”

“Dinner’s ready!” said Joe happily.  It was the first time he’d cooked dinner for anyone else and he was quite pleased with how it had turned out.  He put two plates on the coffee table.  “Jacket potato with beans and salad,” he announced.

“Thanks,” said Luke, “is there any beetroot?”

“er, yeah,” said Joe and went to fetch it.

“Have you got any?”

“Yes, I’m getting it.”


“What?”  Joe handed Luke the beetroot.

“Candles – thanks – have you got any?”

“erm, I don’t think so,” said Joe, “what d’you want candles for?”

“It says here they’re good for meditatin’,” said Luke, referring to his library book, “but we’ll just have to do it in the dark.”

“What if we mute the telly and leave it on?  With the rest of the lights off, that’d probably be like candle light,” suggested Joe.

“Good idea!”

Joe picked up the remote and pressed play.

“I love this bit,” said Luke, waiting for Kathy Bates to say ‘yes, this is our planet’ before replying, in sync with Keanu Reeves and Joe, “No, it is not.”

By the time Keanu had left the building, both diners were ready for dessert.  Joe emptied a tin of Fruit Medley into two bowls and brought them to the table.

“Thanks,” said Luke, “have you got any cake?”

“Mmm,” mumbled Joe through a mouthful of peach, pear and pineapple chunks, “there might be some doughnuts in the bread bin.”

“I don’t like pears,” said Luke, scraping the white chunks into Joe’s bowl.

“They taste different in grape juice,” said Joe, “I like ’em.”

“Good,” said Luke, “can I have your pineapple?”


“I gave you my pears.”

“Because you didn’t want them.”

“I still gave ’em to you.”

“You’re not getting my pineapple!”

Luke gave up and went in search of doughnuts.

“There’s nothin’ but bread in here,” he called.

Joe put his head round the door.  “No, not that bread bin, that bread bin.”  He pointed to a large plastic box with a tea towel over it.  “That’s my bread bin.”

“You’ve got your own bread bin?”

Joe nodded.

Luke found the paper bag which had once contained ten jam doughnuts.  There was one left.  “Shall I cut it in half?” he asked.

“No, you can have it,” said Joe, giving the hoped-for response, “I’m full.”

“I’m not surprised if you’ve eaten the other nine.”  Luke laughed.

“I didn’t eat ’em today,” said Joe, “they’ve lasted me over a week.”

Luke sucked on the edge of the doughnut until it was soft enough to bite.  “Why have you got your own bread bin?” he asked eventually.

“To keep my food separate,” said Joe, “from theirs.”

“You’ve got your own food?”



“I just want to.”


Joe changed the subject.  “We’d better get on with the meditation before Janet gets home.”

Luke muted the television.

“It says here we should do it outside,” said Joe, “in nature.”

“It’s raining,” said Luke.

“erm, well, I suppose it’ll work inside … yeah, it says you have to be comfortable so you don’t get distracted.”  They sat on the floor facing each other and closed their eyes.  “We have to empty our minds,” whispered Joe.

Luke jumped up.  “Wait! I forgot to turn the lights off!”  He switched them off and sat back down.  “So what are we supposed to be thinking about?”



“Nothing.  Empty your mind.”

Luke was silent for almost fifty seven seconds.  “Shouldn’t we be thinkin’ about aliens?” he whispered, “I mean, shouldn’t we be callin’ them with our minds?”

“Not yet, we’re just learning to meditate.  When we get good at it, then we might be able to.”

“How long will that take?” asked Luke, opening his eyes.

“The more questions you ask, the longer it’ll take!” hissed Joe, exasperated.  “Close your eyes and empty your mind!”

Luke closed his eyes.  The room was silent.  Apart from the occasional passing car there was absolutely no noise.  Except that trickling sound.  What was that?  Luke opened one eye but it was too dark to see much.  The trickling stopped and he told himself to concentrate on nothing.

“Why have you got your own food?”

Joe tutted and got up to switch on the light.  “Do you want to contact the aliens or not?”

“You’re keepin’ somethin’ from me,” said Luke, “you can’t properly meditate when you’re keepin’ secrets.  It won’t work if we don’t trust each other.”

“We do trust each other.”

“Well you obviously don’t trust me coz you won’t tell me your secret.  An’ if you’re keepin’ secrets from me then maybe I shun’t trust you.”  Luke looked gravely at his friend and waited.


Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀


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other-materials-symbol-2 leather-symbol-2

“That’s to tell you what the shoes are made of.  That’s the symbol for man made material,” she explained, pointing to one of the shapes on the label, “and that’s the symbol for leather.  So the soles of these shoes – the bit you walk on – are made of synthetic, man made material, and the uppers – the top part – are made of leather.”

She smiled and told everyone to go and sit down.  She did like it when her pupils asked her about things unconnected with lessons.  It showed they had active minds.

Luke hung back.  He was furious.  Not only had he been humiliated by Simon Butler, but his own mother had lied to him.  He took off his other shoe and threw them both into the swing bin in the girls’ toilets.  Then he pulled out loads and loads of paper towels, screwed them up, soaked them under the tap and tossed them into the bin on top of the shoes.  He put his blue plimsolls back on his feet where they belonged and, somewhat calmer now, went to class.

When Mum met him from school at half past three he smiled and was friendly, pleased to be finished school for the day.  She was happy too.  The afternoon weather had really brightened up and lifted her spirits.  They waited for Jared and then walked home.  About half way, Mrs Walker noticed that Luke wasn’t wearing his new shoes.

“Where are your new shoes Luke?” she asked, apprehensively.

Luke looked into her questioning eyes and said,

“At lunch time I was jus’ sittin’ quietly on the grass pickin’ wild flowers and makin’ daisy chains for Mrs Tebbut, when suddenly a flock of big black crows flew at me an’ knocked me over!  Then they pecked at me shoes ’til they’d got ’em off me feet and then they grabbed ’em with their claws and carried ’em off into the trees.  I ‘spect they wanted to make nests in ’em.”

Mum stared at him.

What has happened to your expensive new shoes Luke?  I want the truth!”

“Truth is very important isn’t it?” Luke said thoughtfully, “It’s bad to tell lies.  People who tell lies can’t ever be trusted.  They’re like the boy who cried wolf.  No one’ll ever believe a word they say again.”

Mum’s lips tightened, she looked straight ahead and they continued their walk in silence.  When they were nearly home she spoke.

“Luke, your feet have grown, you have to have new shoes.”

“Ok, I’ll have plimsolls.  Blue ones please.”

“Plimsolls are no good when it rains.”

“I’ll get wellies for when it rains.  Blue would be good.”  

Mum looked at him.

“Ok,” she said.




If you missed the beginning you can read the whole story here 🙂

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, the paperback containing the first eight chapters of Luke’s adventures, is available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada

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Wait for the Green Man

Continued from yesterday:


Things were drawing to a close on the bowling green.  Grandad’s team had not won but it had been a pleasant match and everyone was ready for tea.  Nan and Grandad’s house bordered the park, just a three minute walk from the green, so Nan went ahead to put the kettle on while Grandad said cheerio to his team.

“I’ll go and round up the boys,” Dad volunteered.

Mum caught up with Nan.


Luke pressed the button and waited for the green man.  When the traffic stopped and the green man lit up, they crossed the main road.

“See,” said Luke, “safe assouses!”

They both looked up and down for the ball with no more success than they’d had so far.  Luke saw a side street which sloped downwards and guessed it had probably rolled down there.  It hadn’t.

“I think we have to go back,” said Joe.

“I know,” agreed Luke reluctantly.

They walked up the side street until they reached the main road.

“The cinema!” said Joe with surprise, “I wonder if they’ve got the new Batman film.”

Luke would also have liked to check out the new Batman but first he wondered how come they hadn’t noticed the cinema on their way out.  Had they passed it and not seen it?  Or was this a different road? Luke looked at the other buildings in the street: a pizza restaurant, a chip shop, a key-cutting shop.  None of it looked familiar.  Well this road must be parallel to the other road.  Luke felt sure if they took the next left they’d be back on track.  They took the next left.  Then the next right.  Then they went straight ahead for a long time.  They were completely lost.

“What’re we gonna do?” Joe was really worried.

Luke wasn’t entirely calm himself but he pretended he was.

“Let’s sit down for a minute to think,” he said.

It was so hot and they were really thirsty.  They sat down on a bench and thought.  Mum and Dad had mobile phones but Luke didn’t know the numbers.  And anyway, there were no phone boxes.

“Just think!” Luke told himself, “I’m an outlaw. I can get us out of this.”

He looked up and down the length of the street and at one end of it he saw something that would solve everything.


Continues tomorrow 😀 but if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole story here

We interrupt this story ….

Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control we are compelled to postpone the completion of Reflecto Girl #5 until next week 😉

Instead we hope you will enjoy the serialisation of Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, Chapter 4 which begins here:

Luke smiling

Chapter Four: Luke Walker and the Eatwell Guide

It was Mum and Dad’s anniversary so Luke and Jared were going to spend the night at Auntie Joan’s.

“Don’t see why we’ve got to go there,” grumbled Luke, “I’m fairly sure we could stay ‘ere by ourselves for a couplov hours without dyin’!”

Mum didn’t bother to answer.  She’d told him ‘you’re going and that’s final’ three times already and, since Luke obviously couldn’t comprehend the word ‘final’, there seemed no point in repeating it.  

Luke didn’t like going to Auntie Joan’s, it was boring.  Jared usually spent the whole time playing chess with Uncle Brian which left only one person for Luke to play with: Amelia.  Their cousin Amelia was sooo boring.  She wouldn’t make mud pies, or play soldiers; she refused even a game of Battleship because it was too noisy.  All she wanted to do was dress up like a fairy and colour in her colouring books.  Colouring books were boring but Amelia had tons of them.  She got more for every birthday and Christmas because all her friends and relations knew that that was what she wanted.  She couldn’t get enough of them.  Luke groaned at the thought of eighteen hours in that house.  He decided to have a go at persuading Dad to get him out of it.

“Dad, can’t I jus’ stay here?” he pleaded, “I’ll be good.”

“Even if that were true,” said Dad, eyebrows raised, “you’re too young to stay home alone.”

The phone rang.  Mum put it on speaker so that she could carry on doing her hair.  It was Auntie Joan.  Again.

“Will he eat an omelet?” she sounded stressed.

“No eggs. No cheese. No meat. No fish.” said Mum matter-of-factly.

“So what can I give him for protein?”

“Give him beans. He loves beans.”

“Won’t that make him windy?”

“Oh Joan, stop worrying! Just fill his plate with vegetables and he’ll be happy.”

It was true, Luke did love vegetables.  He hadn’t been too keen on them before he stopped eating animals but, as hunger tempted him to try different things, he found he liked them more and more.  Broccoli was his favourite, closely followed by spinach and baked beans.  Joan still wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t know how you cope,” she said, “I’d be so worried he wasn’t getting a proper balanced diet.  He is just a child Marian, do you really think it’s wise to let him decide what he does and doesn’t eat?”

Mum sighed.

“I was skeptical myself at first Joan, as you know, but I’ve had him tested.  The doctor says he’s fit as a fiddle.”

Luke dreaded the thought of Auntie Joan watching him with concern all through dinner.

“Mum, don’t make me go, pleeeeease,” he whispered.

Mum frowned and shook her head.

“Joan, I’ve got to finish getting ready. We’ll see you in forty minutes. Bye.”


Continues tomorrow 🙂

Or if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole chapter here.

What’s In A Name?

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Once upon a time there were three humans and their names were Dowatiwant, Dowateewants and Dowatheywant.  They did everything together.  Dowatiwant was the one who decided what they would do, Dowateewants would copy him and Dowatheywant would copy them.

One day Dowatiwant went into the cornershop, followed by Dowateewants and Dowatheywant.


Dowatiwant bought a packet of crisps and a can of fizzy pop.  Then Dowateewants bought a packet of crisps and a can of fizzy pop.  Then Dowatheywant bought a packet of crisps and a can of fizzy pop.  All three left the shop, one after the other, and walked to the park.

Dowatiwant sat down on a bench and opened his packet of crisps and his fizzy pop.  Dowateewants sat down next to him and opened her packet of crisps and her can of fizzy pop, and Dowatheywant sat down next to her and did the same.

There they sat, talking and laughing, eating and drinking, crunching and slurping, until their crisps and their fizzy drinks were all gone.

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Dowatiwant dropped his crisp packet on the ground and tossed his drink can over his shoulder.  Dowateewants laughed, dropped her crisp packet on the ground and threw her drink can at a tree.  Dowatheywant held on to his empty can and his empty crisp packet and picked up those tossed by his friends.

“What are you doing?” asked Dowatiwant.

“Why don’t you do what we did?” asked Dowateewants.

“I’m changing my name,” said their friend as he deposited their rubbish in the bin, “to Sharperthanimaner.”


 “The connection between chucking bits of plastic on the ground and cute animals dying of starvation is a demonstrable fact.  It’s not even one of those join-the-dots facts like fossil fuel use and homeless polar bears.  It’s a dead-hedgehog-with-its-head-stuck-in-a-plastic-cup fact,” wrote Alex Proud, in ‘If you drop litter, you’re an idiot and must be punished’, The Telegraph, 17 February 2014

“… I’d ramp these [litter fines] up and enforce them with the kind of zeal that would have Dirty Harry gasping with mute admiration.”

By Barry Wax

Click to enlarge

 Also by Barry:

In Veggie Land there are two groups.

One is the veggie that grows above ground.

The other is one that grows below ground.

These veggies have had some arguments.

One group says it is better than another.

The potatoes, the carrots and the radishes insisted they were the best.

The sweet peas, green beans and squash argued they were the best.

They proposed a soccer game.

They played on my plate and scooted around with the aid of my fork.

Neither one won, because I ate them all.


And here’s Barry’s place 🙂