Problems! - Looking after sick husband, and my desktop and laptop computers now being repaired and upgraded. So shall not be able to return to writing until the end ...
3 weeks ago
Fymm from my children's book, Thin Time. He is a six hundred year dog who
is to be found on an altar tomb in Tong Church, nr. Shifnal, Shropshire.
He is the mentor in this book.
Thin Time ...from Chapter One.
I hurried along School Lane, and I was passing a row of terraced cottages and the turning into the High Street with its few shops, when I thought I heard footsteps on the pavement behind me. Looking nervously over my shoulder, and frightened my stepmother was out searching for me, I broke into a run and didn’t stop until I reached the church, the last building on the edge of the village, opposite the old inn.
I could just make out the blurred shape of Tong Church, sprawled on the top of the grassy bank. Its narrow windows were sightless black holes in the thick stone walls and the bell tower soared above my head.
At the bottom of the steep bank was a low wall with a row of small metal bollards on top. They were looped together with a heavy spiked iron chain. Beyond the gate, with its metal archway and rusty lantern that didn’t work, was the path up to the church. It was cut deep into the bank, and to the left were dusty yew trees, their ancient boughs sweeping the grass.
The trees looked as old as the church. Their branches had knitted together, making a creepy, narrow passageway between them as they grew. If you crouched down, ducked your head, and didn’t mind the scratches, you could push through the tunnel. It was what I called my secret way. No one could see me from the road and it was a quick route to the back porch and the churchyard.
I hesitated, rubbing my hands together. The damp air was seeping into me. I had my blazer under my anorak and I wished I’d put on my jumper. Then I remembered I’d made a hole in it climbing through a hedge, so I’d hidden it under my bed.
I stared nervously up at the wooden boards in the bell tower. I knew bats lived there and often swooped for insects on summer evenings. Would they dart out and stab their claws in my hair? I was being stupid. I’d been up to the church lots of times, inside it on school study visits, and the bats had never attacked me.
Just because it was foggy and nearly dark, it wouldn’t be any different. The bats were probably hibernating. I kept telling myself there was no need to be afraid. I could be over the wall, up the bank, and through the yew tree tunnel so fast nothing would catch me, but I wasn’t so keen to do it in this fog.
I started to imagine there was someone in the trees waiting to get me. It was horribly quiet. If I listened, I could usually hear the cockerel on the weather vane creaking round and round, but there was no sound from the top of tower. Even the muffled roar from the motorway across the fields had stopped. When I’m on my own and scared, I sing a bit of my favourite school hymn about being valiant and fighting giants. The sound of my voice makes me feel braver.
I opened my mouth, but I was so scared no sound came out, just a squeak. Maybe it would be safer to take the path up to the church instead of the yew tree tunnel. It seemed blacker than ever inside, and the church tower looked threatening and about to fall on top of me. Just for a moment, I wanted to go home and have my tea. Then the thought of what would happen to me when I got there made me shiver, and I grabbed hold of the cold links of the iron chain, took a deep breath, and shouted,
‘No lion can him fright!
He’ll with some giants fight!
Hobgoblin and foul fiend
To be a PILGRIM!’
Charging head first through the spiteful branches and protecting myself with my arms as much as I could, I ran towards the patch of grey light at the end of the tunnel. Bounding towards it, I leapt into the silent churchyard as if all the evil creatures in the world were after me!