Is there a cathedral where you live? If so, chances are it will be an old one … just how old, would you say? And when you crane your head up to look at the ceiling, its arches lost in shadows, what else do you see? You might need binoculars, though – but the older the cathedral, the more likely you are to find, nestling atop of corbels and capitals, a singular face with leaves and branches climbing out of its mouth; sometimes fierce, sometimes cheerful, mostly a trifle wild … this sculpted entity has been with us far longer than the cathedrals, and long before the Normans who built them, with a name that has only regained resonance in quite recent times: The Green Man.
Theories abound concerning his origins, both etymological and geographical; he turns up in a variety of guises, from Rome(Bacchus and Dionysius) to Mesopotamia…
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…continuing the mystery of Captain Redheart’s Treasure (catch up on the first episode here: Mystery Tour ) :
Ezrard Bagshott fairly bounded into the dining room at breakfast, rubbing his hands in glee. Something was entertaining him to the utmost, and his house guests, made up of impecunious friends and relatives, looked up apprehensively. Was he any closer to finding the lost treasure after all – and, most importantly, would he share it with any of them?
He sat down at the head of the table and took in his audience: James Derelict, one of his many nephews, also his secretary and all round factotum; William Nunctious, another nephew, keen on wine and women, often in ‘a bit of a scrape’ as he would put it; Abigail, Ezrard’s niece, a total flapper, constantly making herself up; Horatio Hubble, art historian and antiquarian, with a beady eye on some of Ezrard’s choicer possessions; Roderick Upton, a third nephew, clubber, lounger, amusing if indolent; Eugene Orb, man about town and at present demolishing a tidy plateful of sausages; and at the opposite end of the table, Ezrard’s widowed sister, Laetitia Wellbegone, poking dubiously at her scrambled egg.
Ezrard nodded and chuckled, and demanded fresh toast.
He took marmalade, he took butter, he gloated over it melting on the toast, the soft yellow and the golden orange chunks of marmalade; those watching closely could not help but imagine he was gloating over piles of gold coins and rubies…
‘You are particularly cheerful this morning, Ezrard,’ remarked his sister, finally echoing everyone’s thoughts.
‘Indeed, indeed I am,’ he replied, pouring himself tea. He gazed around the table, mischievously.
‘Well I’ve done it !’ he said, and nearly choked on his own laughter. ‘I’ve solved it !’ Everyone knew what he meant. Everyone save for Laetitia who merely shrugged and nibbled at her bacon.
‘Now then, toast and marmalade is all very well – but where are my devilled kidneys?!’
He leapt to his feet and helped himself from the sideboard.
‘So, uncle,’ began Abigail, when Ezrard had re-seated himself, ‘are you going to tell us how you did it ?
‘Did what? Eh?’
‘Oh, don’t tease, uncle, – how did you find the treasure?’ Abigail pouted. Ezrard gave her a look in which secrecy and mischief were equally divided. ‘All in good time, m’dear, all in good time…Or one of you might like to get there before me…’
So he had solved the puzzle – but not yet taken the treasure ? There were not a few at table who did not make a secret plan to watch his every move from then on in…However, they did not watch carefully enough, for a few hours later there was a rushing of feet, a pounding on doors and frantic calls made on the telephone, while Ezrard lay in his library, groaning in exquisite agony…
Ezrard was kept to his bed for several days afterwards, the doctor suggested a diet of water, bread, a little porridge and occasional mouthful of chicken.
‘A nasty attack of bile, I would suggest he keep off the rich food and so on for a while yet – vegetables, soups, a little walk each day,’ prescribed the doctor to Laetitia. ‘Well, I wish you’d tell him that yourself – you know what foolish notions he has in his head now, I suppose?’ she replied.
The doctor raised an eyebrow.’Notions?’
‘Yes, notions. He is convinced he was poisoned !’
The doctor did his best to reassure her and his patient, but left them a little thoughtfully and asked downstairs whether anything had been left over from breakfast. Of course, everything had by then been cleared away and disposed of; ’But we could rustle you up some eggs and toast if you’re peckish,’ said the maid, quite mistaking his intent.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes from B.Lloyd’s Greenwood Tree:
‘It may well be that being unused to country living my temper has in some way been affected; I almost hesitate to describe the feelings of horror I have experienced since my arrival in this place, which have grown upon me increasingly over the last few days – this feeling was hardly alleviated by our visit to the clearing, and might explain the distinct impression I had of being observed by some person or persons unseen. This impression grew so strong that I was almost convinced I saw the figure of a man in green slipping away between the trees on the opposite side of the glade …’
I’ve just read a wonderful new mystery, Greenwood Tree by B. Lloyd. If you like them laced with the supernatural and legend, you’ll love this.
‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’
1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton.
1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall ?
Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …
A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.
A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal …
After studying Early Music in Italy followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.
Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people’s works (for no visible reason that she can understand).
At present exploring the mysteries of Northumberland, although if there is a place she could call true home, it would be Venice…while the fields of Waterloo hold a certain resonance for her as well…
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Author links :
On About me : http://about.me/B.Lloyd
(contains blog, web, social media links)
On Twitter: @AuthorsAnon
Amazon UK (pre-order) (hardcover) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374563
Amazon US (pre-order) paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374571/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Pre-order page on the publisher’s website : http://www.greycellspress.co.uk/pre-order-our-titles/
If you were asked to name a country where holding certain opinions could prevent you from earning a living, how many of you would name Britain? Yet recently we heard of a man removed from his job on the council because of his opposition to gay marriage. Apparently how we vote is no longer exempt from penalty either – at least if you want to foster children and happen to vote UKIP.
I don’t know about you but I demand the old-fashioned right to say anything I please and if it offends someone – well, that’s the definition of freedom of speech. The same with freedom of conscience: I expect be able to vote or not, in whichever way I like, without comeback. It’s no one else’s business: in fact, they’ve no right to know.
It used to be a truism, didn’t it? That’s how it used to be. But no more. Our sneaking towards fascism is all of a piece with that other current phenomenon disguised as public-spiritedness: accusing people of crimes – whether it’s of racism or paedophilia – without proof.
Where does this leave writers, especially those of crime? Crime novels reflect society and its changes more widely than other genres, which in the present political mood makes them more vulnerable to censorship, not least from writers themselves.
In the area of race, for example, do you as a writer feel free to show not just crime but racist crime being committed by blacks as well as whites? It’s something we hear very little about in the media, so much so that the majority of people probably feel racist for just thinking it happens. But aren’t writers supposed to be more honest and less timorous than that, more than mere propagandists?
In my own novel I touch upon arranged marriages. I’m against them. I think they lead to forced marriages and for that reason should be illegal. Much to my surprise my editor let what I’d written stand. But supposing this amongst other subjects which some would construe as unacceptable had been cut? Would I have defended them to the point of ultimatum? As a first novelist I know the answer is ‘no’. I’d have convinced myself they were unimportant as far as the plot was concerned, even though they completed the picture of the world I was writing about, its cause and effects.
I feel bad about it. I feel a cheat. Novels, even when they’re not great ones, have always been the place where the truth about society can be found while the press and polticians are lying through their teeth. But that’s only in a democracy, where writers weigh their words for no more than artistic effect. And I don’t feel I live in a democracy anymore.
Cant and humbug – according to Byron these are what would be the ruin of Britain. What we’re seeing now is the start. As writers, dare we stand up against them, fight against the prevailing culture of words not to be uttered and opinions not to be countenanced, and maybe in the process make jobsworths everywhere think twice before they bully and sack whomever they disapprove of? In future I’m going to have a go at doing so – as long as my editor agrees, of course.