Archive for January, 2010

Fantail Fantasy — short story by Gladys Hobson

January 29, 2010

This brief story was inspired by a fantail pigeon that visited our garden nearly every day. Fifteen or more pigeons, ranging from pure white to dappled beige, came to feed from seeds dropped from our bird trays, plus rice and seed I threw out to them. They became quite tame and would come to the kitchen window and other windows and tap — having trained me to throw out food for them!
But the fantail was my favourite. It amused me with its fluffy ‘bootees’, and delighted me by its fantastic flight with its wings and tail fully extended. Unfortunately, a neighbour (who fed the pigeons and housed them in a dovecote) found it in her garden with its head bitten off.
It is this fantail that inspired this story (the nucleus of a novel yet to be written?)
We do not have a photograph of the fantail but this is one of a clever pigeon that managed to shake seeds to the ground for other pigeons to eat. Curiously, it did not eat them itself, just kept providing seeds for the flock.

Pigeon (not a fantail) scattering the seed for the flock!

Fantail Fantasy

Pure white, the fantail pigeon — feathers lightly surrounding its headless spread-eagled corpse — lay on the fragrant, newly-mown grass, the red of a little blood drawing the eye to the dreadful tragedy of nature in the raw.
Tears streamed down Annie’s cheeks. For weeks she had watched that angelic bird feed off the tray in her rose-scented garden, wondering at the sight of such a magnificent creature. Her sore eyes had followed the bird’s flight: feathers caught in sunlight, beauty in motion, and a healing balm to her weary spirit. With joy she had fed it with rice, slowly getting it to come closer but never close enough to feed from her hand. And now it never would.
To her, the bird had been a comforting reminder of her dead husband, a breeder of fantail pigeons. She could see him as he lovingly nurtured each one with food held in his hand. But unhappy memories of the birds being taken away after his death continued to haunt her. She should have stopped them. Her family had no right to sell what were hers and Larry’s. She could have looked after them, if only she’d had a little help.
She smiled at how Larry had thwarted their efforts to keep them apart, This magnificent specimen had returned. Everyone had said it was too young to be one of Larry’s birds and wasn’t tame enough anyway, but she knew better. ‘Don’t you tell me that bird isn’t Larry’s. I know it is… don’t ask me why, I just know it. You know nothing, about pigeons, or Larry.’
Now the bird had been murdered. Just like Larry had been. That was no accident when the truck ran over Larry’s head, no matter what the coroner has said. ‘Oh Larry, they are trying to separate us. But they won’t succeed.’
Letting go her walking frame and ignoring the pain that racked her arthritic limbs, with deep reverence she stooped to pick up the pigeon’s lifeless body. Tears now mingling with the dried blood, a glossy red gleamed in the bright sunlight, uniting her fragile life to the motionless corpse.
As Annie reached for the bird, her legs suddenly gave way. She reached the ground with a snap of her bones. Drenched in a red haze, agonising pain shot through her whole body, now burning with fire.
Annie embraced the bird and held it to her breast, It was Larry, her Larry.
The torture ceased. Joy burst from the heart that had been broken the day her Larry died. As life now misted from her body, she knew, without doubt, Larry had come to carry her home.
Psychedelic light, tongues of angels, fragrant scents, sensual touch, blended together in an unspeakable rapture as she felt herself lifted up… up….
Larry… Larry… she tried to say, but the words would not come.

‘She’s coming round.’
‘Thank you, doctor. We thought we’d lost her,’ said a familiar voice.
‘Close call. But she’s not out of the woods yet.’
‘All over that damn pigeon. It’s a nursing home from now on,’ The voice grew louder in Annie’s ear. ‘Did you hear that, Mother? Fractured bones because of that stupid pigeon. Whatever possessed you to pick it up?’
Tears welled up in Annie’s eyes. Larry… Larry… but still the words refused to come.
The voices drifted away. A blanket of peace descended.

Annie’s heart had stopped beating, but her lips were smiling.

If you enjoyed this short story, why not try one of my cheap eBooks? You will find my Designed By Love trilogy eBooks for sale at the Dare Empire Media bookstore. Also my new book, The Dark Mirror.
You will find information and excerpts at the bookstore.

Innocent, naive June, is determined to be a top dress designer

Is women's fashion design more about seduction than clothing the body?

Checkmate, the third part of the trilogy. The final battle of control — winner takes all!

Now for the latest eBook — The Dark Mirror

'G B Hobson's dramatic, controversial masterpiece will keep you turning page after page until the very end.'

Poem — December Chill

January 23, 2010

December Chill

She sits there…
June in the December of her life:
withered skin,
eyes unseeing
speech mangled,
a stroke deadening half her brain
leaving her part vegetable,
part human,
the human crying out to walk and talk again.

Not yet rotting in dark grave
but compelled
to dwell in darkness
inside a swift decaying shell.
‘Bell. Someone’s at the door,’
June tries to say
in garbled words
desperate to be heard.

‘No one’s at the door,’
her husband bellows above the din of
shouting crowds
and thundering hooves
of horses at a racetrack many miles away,
brought into their room
courtesy of BBC
on a TV screen
that June will never see.

‘Bell… door… bell,’ June insists,
frantic to let her caller in —
a hand to hold?
a voice to cheer?
a friend to read?
Awkwardly she struggles
to loudly speak the words —
‘Bell… open…the… door.’

‘No one’s at the bloody door,’
her husband, minus hearing aid,
yells in rage.
‘You’re always hearing doorbells ring
when no one’s bloody there.
For god’s sake, woman —
Shut up!
I’m trying to watch the race.’

I do not ring the bell again,
I walk on home,
James Herriot book in bag…
sad for June, for whom I read
and for a gentle man
that once I knew
but would never be the same again.
Yes, weeping for the suffering endured
when life with meaning is no more.

By Gladys Hobson 2009
Based on a true incident.

More Dress Designs From the 1950’s

January 15, 2010

Have been in the attic again and brought out a pile of drawings I did when I was freelance designing in the 1950’s (these are late 1950’s).

These pictures are not brilliant. The drawings were in pencil and I could hardly see the lines. So I photocopied them – the darkest I could use. Then I photographed and adjusted them to get reasonable pictures. It is quite obvious, so no one can say they are copies of other people’s designs. I have lots more – underwear, housecoats, nightwear, dresses, housecoats, separates.

I really enjoyed being a designer. I found it quite thrilling to have thousands of garments made from a single design. And to see them in shop windows and, occasionally, people wearing them. Now I have written about a dress designer of that period — her designing, her loves and hopes. See  Magpies Nest Publishing Books can be ordered directly from there by PayPal — post free in the UK. Or can be ordered through any good bookseller. Dress design can be done in minutes when inspired and the pattern in about an hour. I did not find it hard to sell them either. Writing novels takes many months but getting them published is a story in itself!

These are drawings I did when I had just turned sixteen in the late 1940’s. I found them in an old folder up in the attic. The pictures are elsewhere on this web site but not put together to form a video. Nice to have music background too.

Why write?

Sometimes writing pulls like a magnet. When I first started writing, I would be up at three in the morning, tapping at the keys. My design career inspired me and I was driven by the characters being formed in my imagination.

UPDATE SEPT. 2012: For those who are interested in dress design, especially post war Britain up to the eighties, my trilogy Awakening Love, Seduction, Checkmate, following the career, life and loves of a dress designer — June Armstrong (Rogers in both sequels) is to be shortly available in the USA through the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press. In the first book, she is just a young naive girl determined to make it to the top of her chosen career. The setting is genuine and closely resembles the factory where I worked, including the manner of designing, cutting and manufacture.
These sketches were done in the 1950’s — the era for Awakening Love. (UPDATE: The video was made when Dare Empire published the books. Turquoise Morning Press has now acquired the printing rights.)

Of Wasted Food and Prudence

January 14, 2010

Wasted food? What waste?

We constantly hear about all the food WE waste every year, what it is doing to our pockets as well as the environment.

I get very annoyed. I feel like yelling, ‘Please don’t include US in this waste statement, we are careful not to waste anything.’

Hardly anything goes into our general waste bin. Recycling stuff gets sorted and no food is left to throw away. It seems insane to waste money on food, which is unlikely to be eaten.

Of course, we were brought up in the days of rationing. Nothing was wasted. But we did not have the money to waste on uneaten food, or anything else, for that matter.

In wartime we had to queue for those little extras like offal — tripe, liver, kidneys, lungs, tongue, brains, trotters, dripping etc. and luxuries like rabbit. At one time we had to queue for bread. (I guess that was after our baker stopped calling at the house.) And, oh what tension to queue an hour, or more, for fish and chips, in the hope that they had not run out of fish before we were served. Fish with chips was usually for my dad, but we might get some crispy bits for a penny. We got pretty good at being inventive with food and I never recall us going hungry. Sweets being on ration was a good thing, and so was getting cod liver oil and malt every day. We ate vegetables and fruit as they came into season.

But we were often cold. Having poor circulation, I had severe chilblains every winter. No central heating and no power points even if we had an electric fire. With little coal due to rationing, there was usually just a fire in the kitchen. Gas often on low power too. That could spoil cakes but everything was eaten and enjoyed just the same. Washing by dolly-tub and mangle, drying outside or over a line in the kitchen. Even if clothes had not been on coupons we did not have the money to buy new ones unless needed. Pipes froze in winter, even those that ran through our bedroom. And beautiful patterns of ice decorated the inside of our bedroom window. Yes, we would play happily in the snow but we sure did suffer afterwards with hot-aches and swollen toes and heels.

You might think that once everything went off ration, and that was some time after the war, we would splash out on food and clothes. To do that would cost money and wages or salaries, and that were not as high as they are today. After we were married, we continued to be careful with our pennies and save for what we really wanted — a home of our own. I made my own clothes and we did our own repairs etc etc. Debt was considered shameful and saving for a rainy day prudent. Retail therapy? ‘Must have’? That would have been a way to ruin.

Credit cards? No such things. Mortgages? Hard to get, and a deposit required. There had to be enough salary of just one breadwinner to make the repayments, or no mortgage.


To a large extent, I blame the supermarkets that sell ’offers’ — two for one, or three for the price of two, or any three for £10. To buy one only, means you are being overpriced and, unless I want and can use the ‘bargain’ offer, I will not buy at all. Too many fattening foods are sold this way, and too much perishable stuff that is likely to be thrown out. Okay, freezing helps with food like meat, but I prefer to buy according to my meal planning. We have always eaten simple but enjoyable food and I ignore the cookery programmes on TV. Left overs? Plenty of ways to use them up. Why throw money away? For everything that is bought is bought at a budgeted price.
We were taught to cook at school. Simple and satisfying meals, simple receipes that can be adapted to any taste, enriched if required, added to as necessary. Waste was NOT part of planned meals. Nothing thrown in a bin. Soups, broths, pies, turnovers, sandwiches, puddings etc can use up what is left. Nowadays we have fridges to keep things longer too.

Packaging, long-distance travel of people and goods; all these things affect our environment. Moderation in all things would be a good motto for all of us to live by. Prudent buying and a simpler lifestyle can bring greater happiness, than overspend that causes guilty feelings (and comfort eating?)

The Church and Homosexuality

January 10, 2010

I watched a programme this morning which discusses the big issues of our present day in relation to the Christian Church. There is one lady whose views we often hear, as though, because of her presence on the Church Synod, she stands for the voice of the Church laity. I have always found her views flawed. She happily quotes from the Bible as the Word of God, but like many others with blinkered vision, she quotes only what suits her own position. But this is nothing new.

Throughout the centuries, ironically, the Church has done many cruel things in the name of God — supposedly according to His Word. Yes, I know many Christians over the years have given all — including their lives — to serve their Lord in extreme circumstances, but sometimes it has been an opposing section of the Church that has brought about their suffering. (Some other religions are just as guilty).
Interpretation, not the Bible itself is the problem.

Back to our Laity lady. She happily ignores what the Bible says about women and authority, and puts herself in a place of authority to speak as regards homosexuality. She is far from alone with this homophobia. (I understand she is against women priests too.)

We cannot use the Bible as a rule book to pick and choose what suits our prejudices. Over the years, a considerable amount of serious Biblical study has taken place, in the wider context of religious belief, and using all the tools of modern criticism, to get closer to the words of the original texts and thoughts of the various writers. Certainly the Bible inspires, comforts and aids our understanding of man and man’s view of the world and of the Divine. But using the Bible as Divine truth without our God-given intelligence, has been the cause of suffering, terrorism, and wars throughout the ages. Using it to suit our prejudices is little better.

Some people may squirm at sexual practices that offend their sensibilities, but we must accept these also take place in male-female (loving or otherwise) relationships. They are not confined to males only. Also, every day we see on our TV screens the promiscuous sexual behaviour of youngsters, as well as adults, and they are seemingly encouraged to be so by society in general. These days, it is nonsense to speak of sex as part of marriage only, or of relationships that lead to marriage. That was the accepted morality of when we were young. Marriage often ends in divorce too. What place vows? Even clergy have no better statistics. We are but human.

It is a fact that people are born with sexual leanings. Some boys and girls may have been influenced towards homosexuality, BUT it is totally wrong to stigmatise those who are born what they are – men and women who fall in love with members of their own sex. It seems to me that homosexuals tend to be gentle sensitive people and quite suited to clerical life within the Church. They have the right to perform their ministry with the support of a loving partner.

The love of God and neighbour sums up the Law of God. The fruit of the Spirit reveals who and what we are within a community. What consenting couples do in private is, literally, their own affair.

How to bring a book to public notice?

January 4, 2010

When Angels Lie video.
I wrote When Angels Lie a while ago. Those who read it were surprised and found it a jolly good read, even though most of them would not normally read a book with this church setting. These readers have included a newspaper reviewer, a bookshop manager, students (male and female) a professor, in fact a whole spectrum of readers from all walks of life aged from 16 to 80 with a with range of taste as regards reading matter.
Ah, but how to get it to the attention of readers everywhere — National Newspapers will not review a book unless it is freely available in every major bookshop. And major bookshops will not stock books unless they are certain of sales — reviews get the sales! At least I have the pleasure of knowing I have written books that are enjoyed.

It is published here in the UK under my pen name Richard L Gray (When Angels Lie, all hell is let loose and Demons Fly!) by my own Magpies Nest Publishing. (Can be bought on line. Free delivery in the UK) and in the USA by AG Press. It is also an Ebook published by Mythica Publishing and can be bought from Amazon (Kindle books – but they show the UK cover there).

When Angels Lie: An Award Winner

Gladys Hobson (aka Richard Gray) has written an award winner with ‘When Angels Lie.’ Daring to take on a subject guaranteed to make some readers squirm, Hobson boldly explores the life of handsome Anglican priest Paul Stringer as he takes on an impoverished parish and pursues a loving affair—with a neighboring male priest. The author follows him as he struggles painfully with a commitment to his church and his desperate need for acceptance and companionship.

Although the two priests determine to keep their personal affair confidential, they learn that suspicions are quick to arise in this small community. Confused by the rebuffs of the parish’s most eligible bachelor, local women begin to grow increasingly suspicious of his often repeated vow of bachelorhood. Worse, the enmity of the church warden, the jealousy of a woman spurned and the sexual escapades of two teenage lovers in the chapel are twisted into a scandal that threatens to expose not only the relationship of the priests but destroy their many accomplishments in the church.

Smoothly, expertly written, the author captures the essence and conflict of human love and religion as they struggle to coexist in a judgmental world. Hobson reveals a church hierarchy attempting to compromise with a nervous reality, and walks the reader ever so beautifully through the torment of a young man deeply devoted to his vows and wanting fervently to serve his parish–with the support of a loving partner. As the story unfolds, however, his options grow more desperate and his torment ever more intense.

Hobson is a writer of the first class, able to build a story quickly and maintain excitement throughout the book. Her characters are full and multidimensional—at times, the reader is torn by compassion and empathy for one and then the other. Such is the making of a fine novel and a book well worth reading. It is unfortunate that books such as these, so worthy of recognition, go unheralded by the literary establishment. I, for one, give it “tens” across the board.

Andrew F. O’Hara, editor, The Jimston Journal
author, The Swan, Tales of the Sacramento Valley

And another full star review:
Young, handsome, and driven, Paul is completely devoted to the practice of his faith as an Anglican priest. With all that he has going for him, it should come as no surprise that he remains square in the sights of many a single woman scattered throughout his doting parish. Unfortunately for them, Paul’s heart is set solely on the pursuit of someone he finds quite special – little does anyone know, though, that someone just happens to be a fellow male priest…

When the two fated lovers eventually surrender to their desires, they begin a passionate, loving – albeit completely clandestine affair – but despite the pleasure of their physical indulgence, both men struggle greatly with the inner spiritual torment stemming from the juxtaposition of their flesh and their faith. Even worse, as suspicions regarding their relationship begin to grow throughout the surrounding community, Paul and his lover soon face the very real prospect of having to contend with the disastrous consequences of their actions – however well-meaning they may be. In light of all the looming controversy, each man is forced to engage in a fierce spiritual battle in order to reconcile the various conflicting elements deep within themselves…

When Angels Lie takes the reader on a piercing, heart-rending and ultimately edifying journey through the deepest recesses of the human soul. Insightfully well-crafted, author Gladys Hobson’s endearing tale does a superb job of humanizing the eternal battle between the spirit and the flesh – a battle, it should be noted, that is no more or less difficult whether centered on homosexuality, addiction, or any other spiritual affliction. In the end, we all struggle daily with issues of acceptance vs. propriety, and the manifestation of this struggle in the form of Paul’s relationship with his lover is guaranteed to inspire serious reflection within the reader on a number of different levels.

With a compelling storyline and well-rounded cast of characters, When Angels Lie is literary jewel that shouldn’t be missed. Kudos to Hobson for launching such a brave headlong foray into what remains a highly controversial topic – and for pulling it off with the utmost class, grace, and much-deserved empathy. Highly recommended.

Tracy Moore
Apex Reviews