A village spun in glass

Glass blowing

Image : Pixabay


Even the most generous hearted would describe John Allcott as a difficult man.

He was a bachelor, his cottage rundown, the thatch ragged as tangled hair and more than one argument was had over his overflowing cesspit which he refused to have emptied on account of an argument with the night soil man Henry Baddick over a spilled pint of ale and a ruined kerchief.

Yes, Allcott was a drinker, such a regular in his customary seat at the Bird in the Hand – tucked in the inglenook, back to wall, staring into his glass with such malevolent looks one would suppose beer was like bitter aloes to him – the landlord joked the building had been constructed with his crooked back supporting the beams, knees tucked beneath him, strong as a stone buttress.

He eschewed human company, the only words he passed were to his brindle greyhound Rab, a creature as gnarled and evil tempered as himself. Allcott snarled when greeted, tumbled curses on bonny newborns, beribboned newlyweds and crisp spring mornings. Nothing pleased him.

Yet though this most cliff-faced of men dispensed only loathing and dark ugliness in his manner, his hands could create untold beauty. For John was a glass worker and could spin the molten substance into such glittering, glorious bottles and goblets that the wealthy and noble from four counties would travel to the village to possess his work. And as examples of how fine his eye was, how elegantly controlled his hand, he had created a model of every villager in coloured glass which he displayed along the sills of his workshop windows, each figure extraordinary in its spare lines, encompassing the stance and outline of a person and making them instantly recognisable.

Even the night soil man Henry Baddick said of his own likeness, ‘Tis canny,’ this being the highest compliment the man could give.

In fact, it was through Henry that John Allcott’s secret was revealed.

For one day Henry was at his job as usual, cart blocking the lanes, stinking like a plague pit in the August heat, the next he vanished, his horse found wandering Church Road snaffling dandelion heads, cart behind it still half filled with waste.

A search was made, but no Henry was found.

It was only when the blacksmith Ben Tawdle visited his privy to relieve himself of the previous day’s steak and ale pie that Henry was found, head down in the little wooden shack at the bottom of a cabbage patch, drowned in what the Tawdle family had left behind.

And it was only the day after that a sharp-eyed child by the name of Natty Hawksmoor, whilst spying for her own glass form, noticed that the muddy brown figurine of Henry Baddick was gone, leaving only a circle of clean sill behind …


12 thoughts on “A village spun in glass

  1. Hey – This is brilliant! To me it could read in different ways – just a mishap, ghost story, murder mystery…and love the language – keep up the good work…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Martin. Yes, not quite sure which way the tale would go – but I do love writing in an archaic idiom, as my serial The Devil of Moravia will confirm. Thanks for reading


  2. That’s my favorite piece of yours I’ve read to date. Masterful from start to finish, won’t even parse things out. Do tell, was there something unique about the inspiration or work you did to render this? It’s a gem.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Bill – what a truly lovely comment! Dead chuffed with that 🙂 Not entirely sure where the inspiration for this came from, but I like the idea of someone ugly inside and out – unpopular, unloved – being able to create something beautiful. Culture has a long history of that! And glass blowing – like metalworking – seems almost mystical to me, how a person can take a mineral and turn it into something so delicate and gorgeous. What was it you liked so much about it, if you put your finger on it? Just trying to figure out what works for people and why. Thanks again 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome. I loved it and will send an email with more on that later this week. Cheers Lynn, Bill

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this. So many layers here Lynn. My favorite is the thought that appearances can be deceiving and that beauty can come from the most terrible, ugly, and unlikely sources. I’ve seen someone making goals figures before it’s incredible actually 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking. That some truly unpleasant personalities – Wagner, Carravagio – have created masterpieces, glorious beauty out of ugliness. Thank you so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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