What Pegman Saw: When Archie Gregson lived next door

Image: Google Street view

Archie Gregson lived at Sandy Bay, the guesthouse next to ours.

My mother didn’t approve of Mrs Gregson, her home’s faded pink paintwork, the fact she didn’t wash her step every day or her net curtains every week.

“Clean glass means clean guests, Phillip,” said Mum, scrubbing our windows with balled sheets of the Daily Mail.

I don’t know about their guests, but she had a point with Archie. A torque of dirt circled his neck, river valley runnels up his forearms. In summer he smelt more like the sea than the breeze did.

But when you’re 12 you don’t love people because they’re clean. You love them for skipping stones, for teaching you to catch spiky crabs with a line of string and a chicken bone.

You love them for not laughing when you fall over. For keeping your worst secrets the best.

And so I loved Archie.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that takes you across the globe through google Street View. This week, we pop to the UK, to Great Yarmouth. To join in with the prompt, see here.

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What Pegman Saw: A flare in the lens

Image: Google Street View

In the beginning they were just an irritation, like lens flare or a scratched negative.

But he began to see them everywhere in his footage, among the Beng trees of Cambodia, in the dust and scrub of the Golan Heights, studying the murals on the Falls Road.

His hands would shake in the sick red glow of the darkroom as he reached for his magnifier, searching the prints before they dried.

Always the same blond and dark heads, close as if in conversation, the arms round each other, feet in step. Sometimes they were blurred, distant, part hidden behind a lamp post or car, but always the swept back hair, the holiday smiles.

His editor laughed, said they were his signature, better than a monogram. He smiled, nodded, all the while wondering how he’d learn who they were.

Then one dank night driving home on the coast road, he found out.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we are in Cardenas, Cuba.

My story is actually inspired by the Google Street View itself. You see, I kept seeing the same woman and child, in similar poses, arms round each other, presumably tagging along behind the camera operator. I just wondered what if they weren’t known by the photographer? What if their appearance was as much of a surprise to the person who took the images as it was to us?

To learn more about Cambodia, the Golan Heights and the Falls Road, just click

Serial Publication: People’s Friend

Just a little reminder that the final part of my People’s Friend serial, The secret of Kingsbarrow Folly is out on the 29th of this month, concluding the story of Steph and the family secret she’s determined to unravel with the help of archaeologist Jamie.

After all the ups and downs, can the pair find a happy ending?

Serial publication: Second part

tower, folly, Derbyshire
Image: Pixabay

Just a little reminder that the second part of my People’s Friend serial, The secret of Kingsbarrow Folly is out on the 22nd of this week, continuing the story of Steph and the family secret she’s determined to unravel with the help of archaeologist Jamie.

This week it’s time for the summer fete. Bunting, homemade jam and home truths.

Friday Fictioneers: Slices of love

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

Nan didn’t have a fire in the kitchen.

If it was cold, she’d turn on the gas oven, leaning inside with the ticking lighter, me listening for the whoomf of the burner, watching for the sapphire flame.

I’d sit on the step with the musty scent of linoleum and coconut matting, the plastic tang of cyclamen growing in the lean-to, impatient for slices of thick white toast slathered in butter, a cup of Cadbury’s hot chocolate.

She’d peer into the grill, owl eyes made large by pebble glasses, hands on hips as the toast crisped.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

When I saw the old range and kettle, I instantly thought of my Nanny Cuthbert – or Lou as she was called – my dad’s mum. We’d regularly visit her in her terraced house in Uxbridge on the outskirts of London and she showed her love with food: toast cut straight from the loaf; hot chocolate; beef suet pudding cooked in an enamel dish.

Her kitchen had changed very little since the war (bear in mind I was a child in the 1970s and 80s) and to some extent resembled the kitchen below from the Imperial War Museum – though Nan did have the ‘mod-con’ of a water heater above the sink.

What Pegman Saw: Say no to yes.

The wind was blowing hard now, peppering Naga’s face with grit. He took a last drag of his cigarette, dropped it, screwed the stub into the dirt with his sneaker.

The sun was low behind the trees, sky burnt orange at the horizon. Where was Maja?

Robbing the convenience store had been her idea. Said she’d seen the clerk bundle notes into a battered tobacco tin, hide it under the counter. The guy was ashy with age, walked with a frame. One look at Maja’s hunting knife and he’d hand the tin over. Sweet and simple, she said. Reluctantly, Naga had agreed.

He blinked, cuffed his eyes.

But the old man had screamed – a weird, trapped rodent noise. He’d stumbled forward, lashed at Maja with his walker. The knife flashed. Naga ran.

Something his mom used to say pinballed through his head.

Say no to yes, beta.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street view. This week we are in Cape Disappointment, Washington. See here to join in.

And if you want to know where I found the title, just look at that scabby wall …

Serial publication: The People’s Friend

Susan’s life is falling apart.

Her village museum – what remains of her family’s estate – is on the verge of bankruptcy, the folly her late father so loved derelict and crumbling. Susan’s son is about to leave home for university and the relationship with her mother, Barbara, is under strain as stories from the past resurface.

Yes, all is not well in the village of Kingsbarrow.

Until Susan meets a tall, sandy haired archaeologist with an interesting proposal …

I’ve been very fortunate in having another of my stories accepted by The People’s Friend magazine. This one is set in the rolling hills of Derbyshire, involves family secrets, painful home truths and a tumble down folly that our heroine finds hard to part with.

The first part of the three part story is due out on the 15th June and the story is called “The Secret Of Kingsbarrow Folly”. The other two parts are out on the 22nd and 29th of this month.

And coincidentally, whilst searching Pixabay for an image to illustrate this post, I found the above – a picture of Solomon’s Temple, my home town of Buxton’s own folly in the Derbyshire hills. Whilst not as picturesquely derelict as my invented Kingsbarrow Folly, I couldn’t resist including Solly’s.

If you love a folly as much as I do, Dinton Folly in Buckinghamshire was the inspiration for Kingsbarrow. It has since been renovated – see here for the transformation.