Friday, March 13, 2020

The Cry of Mary

"I would not go in there on my own, Lass!"

His voice frightened me to death, where on earth did he come from!
Yes, it was a dim evening, dark clouds drifted by, the wind gained in strength but still the visibility was good. And I know for sure that he was not there when I arrived. Neither did I smell the tobacco smoke from his antique clay pipe.
Antique pipe??? The sailor looked if he was from a completely different century....
The look on my face amused him: "Don't be afraid of me, I will not hurt you. But...." and he took his pipe out of  his mouth and pointed the stem at the old derelict building I wanted to explore: ".... be aware of the ghosts in there."

I wanted to ask why but not a sound came from my mouth. Instead I obeyed the silent order in his beautiful grey eyes and walked to the old bench to sit down next to him. How could he be so old and still so young? Like a a strong healthy man in his thirties. If this whole moment wasn't so extremely surreal, I would admit I felt attracted to him.
I sat down and for a short while we looked each other in the eyes. There was a swift recognition and for a second I saw a very strong emotion in his face. Then he smiled again, looked away from me and talked; his deep and warm voice resonated in my chest:

    "The wind howled and the people of the village of Thrusk knew this was not going to be a usual night. They were used to storms and learned as children how to recognize the signs. You had to, being a fishing community so close to the ocean. Too many lives were lost at sea, too many widows worked twice as hard to support their families.

But not only adults never returned from their journeys, also children from the age of 12. An age you were supposed to work and help the fish and money getting in. You left school and life educated you.
John was one of these boys.  But John wanted more from life.
He loved the sea, he loved the trade of many generations before him, he never wanted to anything else than being a fisherman.
But he wanted to learn to write and read properly. Not just what he learned at school.
The headmaster recognized his intelligence but his parents said he could not be missed at the boat. There were too many mouths to be fed, every hand, even at the age of 12, was needed.

This night the sound of the arriving storm, straight from the ocean, outvoted the sound of the high waves battering the coast and that of the window shutters, rattling a tune of fear and danger.

The wind blew down the chimney, the flames of the open fire danced fanatically round the kettle with the stew. The delicious smell reached John's nose but not his stomach.
He survived a severe storm, one of the very lucky few that night. He knew about the fear, the struggle, the will to survive.
A stirring feeling in his stomach told him somewhere out there people were in danger. He was extremely restless and when the church bells rang later that night, he could not even remember what he ate. He rushed outside in his rain coat, hat and wellies and joined the other villages on their way to the beach.

The following day the bright sun revealed the debris of what was once a beautiful small boat. The only survivor, a young woman, was taken to the doctor. She was heavily traumatised and only mentioned one name 'William'. They assumed it had to be her husband who was never going to be found. The woman, they called her Mary, stayed in the village, never spoke, never smiled.
But she helped families, cleaned houses, looked after the small children and cooked meals.
Also for John and during the months following the shipwrecking, John developed feelings for her he never experienced before".

The sailor paused, his hand rested on mine and I folded my fingers around his. He tightened his grip as if my hand was an anchor. An anchor for his emotions. He raised my hand and held it against his wet cheek, it was only then that I noticed my own tears.

     "Although Mary did not speak, John noticed that she was aware of his feelings for her. He knew he could not rush her, he needed to be patient, to show her to trust him. He wanted to protect her, shelter her, to reach her heart which he realised, still belonged to William. His love for her got stronger and stronger.
One night, when he could not sleep, he heard her footsteps, the sound stopped in front of his bedroom door. He imagined hearing her breath, he listened, not sure if he wanted her to go away or to open the door to let her in. But she did not walk away. John got out of bed and opened the door.
The look of her slim body, her long hair and her dark brown eyes, made his heart stop beating for a second. He took her in his arms and carried her to his bed.

He woke up by the sound of the thunderstorm. The lightning illuminated the bedroom, the wind blew the rain through the open window, the curtains waved. He reached out for Mary, knowing she would be frightened but she was not there. He called her name but she did not answer.
He went out of bed and went to her room but it was empty. He looked downstairs but could not find her.
Like the night of the storm where she was found at the beach, he put on his rain suit and went outside to look for her. Once in a while he stopped to shout her name. He went down to the beach and walked and walked, desperately calling 'Mary!!!' until the thunder storm calmed down and the rain stopped. The sun tried to warm him but he remained cold. Without Mary he would never feel warm again.

A few days later, someone knocked on his door. John knew instantly that the body of Mary was found. They had taken her to the mortuary and begged John not to go and see her. But no one could stop him. The crowd parted when he approached the mortuary and the villagers stood in silence when he closed the door behind him. But they stayed, to comfort him afterwards.

John was never the same again, he occasionally smiled but never laughed. He drank his weekly beer in the Pub but never joined the group of fisherman. His bright eyes turned hazy grey. Although still attractive to the unmarried women in the village, he never married.

John passed away at the age of 76 and was laid to rest beside Mary. Nobody realised it was the same date of the shipwrecking 35 years before; March 26, 1819.
That very same evening, a shivering cry was heard from the mortuary. The voice of a woman begging William for forgiveness because she betrayed him. The sound sent shivers down the spine of everyone who heard her. The grief ended with a whisper: "John....."

The mortuary was never used again. No one was near it on this particular date in the following years.
Photo:@yorkshire_womble (Instagram) @
Tourists or people passing by, laughed about the fear of the villagers. No one really believed the story. But no one was brave enough to stay for the truth."

His pipe fell in the sand, he was still holding my hand but loosened the grip, his other hand touched my face: "You returned, I have been waiting for you, Mary. Follow me." I did not ask him how he knew my name, I did not question the recognition earlier tonight. Instead I followed him and together we entered the mortuary. It's rusty hinges, etched by the salt of the ocean, obeyed without any resistance. The moist smell faded and a light glowed when the door closed behind us.

A police officer who passed by, noticed a soft light behind the broken windows of the mortuary and drove his car up the hill, got out of his car and checked the large wooden doors of the derelict building. They were firmly closed by two rusty locks.
He climbed on top of a few crates against the eastern wall to look through the broken windows but the soft light was gone. He used his torch to explore the interior but did not see anything alarming, just an empty building with a strong smell of decay.
Just as he wanted to step off the crates, he heard soft whispers and gentle laughs of happiness.
He wrote in his report it were definitely the voices of a man and a woman but there was no one in the premisses. Signed: constable Wilson. Date March 26, 2019.

 

Word of thanks: the photo of @yorkshire_womble (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use it as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you so much Ali, luv yah Lass X

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @yorkshire_womble

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Helen

Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Poor Sod

He looked in the mirror and admired his muscular posture, turning round and round. People might call him vain but he disagreed; looking well after oneself, wearing expensive and timeless cloths, had nothing to do with being vain. He was a proud person and showed it to who ever was interested.

   Yes, it was important to him how people looked at him, their thoughts. He demanded respect for who he was and how he lived.
His life had never been easy looking after his dominant parents, fighting all their marriage long. He hated their fights, their voices and the way they treated each other. And him, particularly him, their only son, the one and only product of a night that turned out to be the biggest mistake of their life. Oh, never they failed to rub that in!

   They involved him in every row between them, ever since he was a toddler. He never understood why they stayed together. Well, he did understand because his mother told him more then once that his father would never support them financially, how would she herself and him?
And they continued to destroy everything that could have been labelled 'love' or 'friendship' or...... 'sympathy' maybe?

   It was a relief when they both passed away, shortly after one other. A time he did not want to recall. It happened as he had wished for and he never doubted the strength of his wish. But it made him aware there were forces he could use. And in the years following he also learned how to use them. At least, that is what he thought.

   He was very tidy and soon the house and garden looked nice, he received lots of compliments from his neighbours who - but he did not even questioned this - never entered the house. Peeping through the windows is what they did when he was out.
Punctual he was too, time was important to him and every part of the 24 hours per day, had it's own time limit, was time phased.
   He was not a hermit, he went out quite often. Although an excellent chef, he loved dining out, sitting quietly in a corner, observing the ladies. Carefully, not to upset them.
He loved women, their soft features, their hair, beautiful dresses and excellent manners. He could not believe his good luck when two ladies also showed interest in him.
No doubt it must have been his good manners, his broad and solid shoulders, his trustworthy confidence in life.

   He saw these ladies quite often and when he fell in love, he knew it was from both sides. He did not think of it as complicated. Why should he not be in love with two? Or maybe more if he had the chance? And of course, he was irresistible so why not more then one lady in love with him?
To get to know them better, he invited them (separately of course) for lunch in different places. Invitations they only accepted occasionally but they never accepted his offer to hire a taxi for them; they preferred their own transport. He did not want to argue, he knew too well this could cause fights and he wanted a happy relationship.

   Relationships which developed in his mind, not in real life. In his mind he had two fiancees but he never mentioned them together when he proudly talked about the love of his life. No, he talked about 'my fiancee', the lovely caring beautiful lady that had chosen him to look after her.
He went out to buy them presents, to cook them exquisite dinners, maintained the house and garden immaculate. And never questioned why they never arrived or even excused. In his mind they were faultless. They were caring and loving, always in his favourite. He knew he was always on their mind and in their heart.
Slowly but surely he lived more and more in his own world, his own fantasy. And when the shopkeeper in the village dared to ask him why he bought so much food being on his own, right? He answered his fiancee was coming for dinner.

   With the table set for two, he ate and talked, kept a lovely and amusing conversation going. He smiled and laughed, was the perfect host. Held the tiny hand to kiss it, looked deep into blue or green eyes (depending who was visiting him) and dreamt of cosy nights in the arms of his woman. Dreamt of making love, tender and slowly but soon as the passionate lover he was. He slept with her in his arms, discussing a life together, a marriage even.

   Waking up alone did not bother him, he understood that his beautiful lady left hours before, not to be seen by the neighbours. She fulfilled his dreams which was very satisfying on its own.
And every morning he watched the beautiful brass alarm clock he bought for her. The soft golden glow, the tiny little feet, the bell on top which tingled when he touched it. The elegant clock face set to an appropriate wake up time.
Photo: @beautifully_derelict ©

   He questioned if his ladies ever understood how important this clock was to him. The rhythm of the tic-tac was in pace with his heartbeat. The beat that conquered the long cheerless years with his parents, the loneliness, that kept him alive to dream of what he really wanted: true love. Ensuring him his emotions were not dead. He was still capable to live a good life, to make love, to worship, to give and to receive. The beat which went faster and faster, thriving him to ecstasy, an ecstasy which pumped his blood through his vanes. Which blew his mind, which cramped his body, which silenced him forever.

   The funeral of the little man that had lived on his own long after his parents died, was sober. His skinny posture was laid to rest at the local cemetery with only a very few people to sing a simple hymn, a few words that did not do his self image of being the tall handsome lover of two women, any justice. But who knew about his dreams?

   With no next of kin, the house stood empty and slowly rotted away. Nobody dared to enter it, gossip went round that the most precious item in the derelict house, the alarm clock, had stopped at the time the little man passed away. And was therefore haunted. Nobody dared to touch it and slowly dust nestled behind the glass, covering the hands in a grey powder, like ash, until the time of death faded together with long forgotten memories.....


Word of thanks: the photo of @beautifully_derelict (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use it as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you so much Jules, luv yah X

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @beautifully_derelict

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Helen

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Deadline

It is dark and cold. But I am used to it.
It is black but I can not remember the light.
There is light but I do not recognize it.
I am trapped but can not remember freedom. 

   It is noisy and smelly but I do remember silence and scents. If so, why can I not remember light?
I know, there was light but not the light that brightens your days, that feeds you, that makes you happy. Have I ever seen such light? As a child perhaps? Sadly I can not answer your question. I might have blocked the memories. I must have, how else could I have survived my prisoned life for so long without getting insane?

   Have I ever been a child at all..... please tell me I was! Please tell me I once was an innocent baby, smiling, babbling, playing. Or a toddler, falling and getting up, learning to walk, to play, to run. But above all, loved.

   If there was love, I can not remember. I ask you, what is love? Is it food and water? Punishment to teach you obedience? Harnessing your soul to be a better person then..... then who or what? I never found the answer so I am asking you. Can you hear me? Will you hear me?

   I was never heard, so please be excused not to answer my questions.
I learned very fast not to ask questions, they only caused pain, not words, not replies. The physical pain I learned to bare, the mental pain became my second nature. My second I.
I talked to my mental pain, gave it a name to make her feel comfortable. To ensure her the other I loved her although I never knew what love was. But at least my mental pain had company and so had I.

   Where we did not talk about was yesterday. Because all yesterdays were black. We invented tomorrows in which we were free. Even happy maybe. We talked about what happiness was, or was supposed to be and we decided it had to be freedom. We also questioned each other if we could bare freedom because, and I am very honest, freedom also contains independence. And you will have understood by now, that this was not something we knew about at all. The word had a nice taste, felt good in my mouth. But what was it!

   You wonder how we know all these words?
It will surprise you the only book I was allowed to read was a dictionary. Old, moulded but to us, to me, so valuable. Someone must have written it, it was therefore my connection to the unknown world outside, the spares light which penetrated the filthy glass in the tiny window high up the wall of my dark cell. You see, that is how I know light exists. But it faded over the years and I lost track of the rhythm of day and night, light and darkness.

   No one taught me to speak, I was not allowed to speak when I was given food, drinks and clothes. Not even “Thank you”. I was allowed to bow, I once tried to look at him but my reward was abuse. I am a fast learner, you know, and never tried again.
But he spoke to me. His voice was ugly, causing my heart to become cold, like it was frozen. His sharp pronunciation was like the sharp knife he once forgot and which I hid in the soil in the corner of my cell. He never came to look for it.
He even taught me to read but I wasn't allowed to repeat. He slapped me in the face until I tasted blood. But when he was gone, I covered myself with the old blanket and repeated all the words. Words I found in that dictionary.

   Now you ask me why I never tried to escape....
Escape from a life that was my only life? A life I learned to live with? A life that was predictable as long as I obeyed him? Do you understand that this was my safety? I did not know any other life. I did not know how the world outside my cell looked like. And if there were more of him out there. Or how these people behaved. Were they all the same? If so, how was I going to cope with them?

   Until that gloomy day his interest for me changed. I was no longer the child he fed and spanked. There was another sensation around him, even more smelly than his ugly sweat. And it frightened me to death.
He stayed longer then normal in my cell and sometimes he touched my hair, following it from my head to the tips below my back. I trembled with fear, I did not recognize his sudden interest but my instinct told me it was bad and black. As black as my cell was his soul.
My instinct also told me there was more fear around the corner than I had ever experienced before, a fear I could not explain but which used all my energy.

   I concentrated on my energy, got in touch with the tiny inner of me that I
Photo: © Mark (@128_latimer on Instagram)
found in the dark corners of my heart. I forced myself to believe in escaping from my prison, regardless what I was going to find outside.
I learned to play his game. I also learned his game made him sleepy, less alert. He was the centre of his own pleasure, I was not. So I made a plan and discussed this with my mental I.
We discussed it thoroughly and knew his sleepy minutes afterwards, were the only minutes to fulfil our plan. With the knife, as sharp as his own words.

   I succeeded, the knife caused enough damage to stay ahead of him. Whilst I ran for my life, my heartbeat outvoted his screaming, outvoted the sound of his running feet. 

   Outvoted the sound of a large engine that made the iron track I was following, tremble. Which speed caused a strong wind, stronger then any other power I knew. A wind I could not fight. I did not wish to fight, the wind which pulled me towards the end of my story. I finally reached my deadline.




Word of thanks: the photo of @128_latimer inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use it as an illustration for which I am very grateful. The title of the story was born during our conversation about his photo. Thank you so much Mark!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @128_latimer

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Helen

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Chair's Secret

   Old, tired and worn out, that is what I am.
My legs are not straight any more and my colour is fading. I don't know how old you are but if you are close to my age and also a male, your legs are probably not beautiful either!

   Legs are strange things, don't you think so? At the start mine were very elegant, even for me not being female. But at the time I was born, men were far more elegant than today with white silk stockings decorated with ribbons; and velvet trousers and jackets. And expensive white wigs and lots of jewellery to show their wealth and status. Their shoes... very elegant with silver, sometimes even golden buckles. Of course I never wore shoes or stockings. My legs were always bare, only covered in white paint with a golden glow in the groins.
I was dressed in brocade with gold thread. Can you believe how beautiful this was? Particularly when the sun shone on it or with candlelight. The flickering flames brought the gold to live. If... only if I was on my own and not used.
Yes, people used me. I hope you are not thinking that this is the same as being
abused.
   Maybe I have to explain that I am not a human being, I am a chair. These days an elegant chair as I am might not be too useful and only to show off but back then my fellow chairs were the same.

   Being a chair is quite eventful. There are so many different.... uhm .. bottoms that made use of me. Not everyone in the very old days was tiny or slim. At least not in my castle. The older they got the bigger their bottoms. I dreaded the huge matrons trying to wriggle them selves between my arms. They pretended to be slim but they were not, still they wanted to sit on me. Can you imagine how that felt? First of all you see her coming, her perfume floating miles ahead of her (perfume was used to hide the not so fresh body odour, another challenge for a chair...). You have good hopes that she decides I am too small but no. She stops in front of you, turns around and oh my.... Do I have to go into detail?

   It was not all misery. I (still) live in a grand castle and I am told there are or were, many more of me in many rooms. And all served numerous bottoms of generations of owners and guests. Fortunately once in so many years we were reupholstered and our seats refreshed with new horse hair and singles to carry another generation.
But then came the day that changed our lives......


   I already heard rumours going round about the great financial losses of my owner.
I need to say I wasn't too surprised; so much money was spent on gambling, drinking, parties and mistresses. The rows with his bookkeeper and wife got worse and worse. I never understood anything about his business but from the furious conversations in my presence, I knew that the money that was going out was a lot more then that what came in.
   His wife was often in tears; she did not get any credit any more at her suppliers and thought she already spent her life in poverty. Which I doubted, but I could not say anything of course.
But my owner did not listen and said he was going to earn all the money back, people owed him large sums. He did not mention however, that these people were also almost bankrupt due to their gambling addiction telling their wives the same story!
   I witnessed my owner from being a wealthy man with mistresses, a wife and children, becoming a desperate poor castle owner; his life at risk due to his debts.


   One evening, during one of the numerous meetings with his bookkeeper (a very loyal man who worked for the company and family much longer than he remembered), someone knocked at the door. Not a polite or gentle knock! It was more banging, driven by a huge anger....
The butler tried to stop the visitor but by the sound of his scared voice, the visitor made his way to our room. The door flung open and there he stood; the man who lend a huge amount of money to my owner and who wanted every penny back. Right now and here. And he was furious!!
Debts do strange things to people. Either they become cool blooded monsters to get their money back or they become crying desperate pathetic little men, not being able to pay back.
   Of course you want to know who the latter was.... it was the bookkeeper of all people. And it was not even his fault!
While the other two man challenged each other's anger and power, the bookkeeper crawled backwards to a corner, one hand in front of his face, the other pushed forward with wide spread fingers as to protect himself.
When he passed me, I noticed a terrible smell and saw that he wet himself in fear. I felt so very sorry for the man but also understood his fear, I too saw the two pistols in the hands of the other men and knew it was only a matter of time before we were going to hear the first shot.

 Again the door flung open and the butler catapulted himself into the room, the brave man.
It made the other two turn to the door and then, completely unexpected, one of the guns went of. It was such a chaos that I still don't know who's gun, but I still remember who got killed....
 I promised myself and everyone, never to mention a name or gender, never! But I can tell you that it was not the butler, not the bookkeeper (who fainted when he heard the shot) and not the two other men.

 The smell of blood competed with that of gunpowder and seemed extra strong in the one minute of complete silence in which everyone tried to come round with what happened. Then there was shouting and desperate whispering about what to do next. The butler was summoned to close and lock the door and he obeyed like he had done for 40 years.
 All three men now discussed what to do with the body of that very unfortunate intruder who (and this was accidentally very fortunate) would not be missed being one of the most unpleasant creatures walking on two legs in this part of the world.
   While the discussion went on, I looked at the bookkeeper and noticed his very strange pale complexion. I wanted to attract the attention of the other three men but nobody paid any attention to me and I sighed a very deep and desperate sigh, feeling old and useless.
   The men came to an agreement; my owner walked to the door in the corner of the room, more a cupboard door then a real door because it was made just above the panelling. I knew this door led to a very small room with a secret passage to deep inside the castle and only the owner of the castle knew about it's existence.
But this was a different situation and owing the other man so much money, he showed him where they could hide the body and where it most likely, wouldn't be found for a long time, if ever.

   The next hour the men were busy moving the body, pushing it through the little door and believe me, this wasn't an easy thing to do! The deceased was not very petite!
Finally they disappeared into the small room and it did not take long before all the sounds of huffing and puffing, faded away.
   By the time they returned I worked out myself that the bookkeeper was not 'amongst us' any more and most likely died because of a heart attack. Or just pure fear. Whatever the cause was, he was dead too.
You might think that this was a real shock to my owner but I underestimated his empathy. He watched the poor dead man for a while, then sighed in relief and fell backwards on top of me. And this is when my legs cracked but he did not notice it. He leaned forwards, thinking of what he was going to do next.
   At least I have to give him credit for wanting a descent funeral for the poor man who left a wife, children and grandchildren.
Before they carried him out of the room, my owner lifted me and put me in front of the little door he carefully sealed, mentioning me of not being of any use to anyone any more.
   I watched them walking away, carrying the bookkeeper who's dangling head and arms moved in the rhythm of the footsteps of the others; the butler holding his feet.

   Within a few months time, the family left the castle. Many of their belongings were sold to pay off the debts but some uninteresting items were left to keep me company.
   The last I heard was the lock of the door; I was on my own and remained this for ages until a few years back when a group of young people entered the long abandoned castle, calling themselves 'urban explorers'.
   They managed to open the door and entered the room, surprised to find the odd things but disappointed that it was not hiding any secrets.
And why moving an old chair with crooked legs when it was not in the way of the door to another room? They passed me on their tour through the rest of the castle, leaving me with that terrible secret I never learned to live with.


Photo: @marshallubx (Instagram)
   A secret like a monstrous lump, growing and growing in my memory and body. When it is going to burst? I don't know. Maybe you will find me one day, asking yourself why I look if I exploded.
   But even then you will not know it was that secret that finally came out. You will not stand still to listen to the name of the dead person, whispered by the horse hair sticking out of the large hole in my seat.....




Word of thanks: the photo of @marshallubx (Instagram)) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Marshall!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @marshallubx

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!

Helen

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mountfield House.... walls dó speak!!

   My name is Mountfield and I appreciate you to call me so. No first name, just Mountfield. Although I have a very posh background I prefer to be modest as I found out that beauty is corruptible; soon I might not be here any more.

   Of course I have been very proud of my looks! I was respected and loved, kept warm and comfortable with large fires in the hearths of all my rooms. My first owner had a great eye for detail without overdoing. My bay windows at each side of my majestic front door, my ceilings, staircase..... I can go on and on.
Still, I have not been a very happy home, people did not stay for long and the one who did in the end, suddenly disappeared......

   Real lives are lived within my many walls and how often do people say: “if walls could speak...”? But walls dó speak! If you ever visited me, you might have been too busy wondering about my current state instead of listening to me.
   I hope you don't mind me telling a bit more about myself and my occupants over the almost 200 years of my existence. Yes, I am that old, so old that I have forgotten in which year I was built. I remember it took some time before my first owners the Robinson's, moved in but I do remember the first new life within my walls when their first son baby John William was born. This was in January 1833, only two weeks before one of the wettest Winter months in history when the rain was gurgling through the gutters and flooding down the hills, flooding the muddy streets of Musbury. Horses walked slowly to avoid the mud spreading on the cloths of the poor servants that were sent out to buy food. The carriages of the delivery services were covered in mud and cleaned each day again after already a very long day for the men that drove them.

   When William was still a baby, Mrs. Robinson decided that she did not want to raise her child in this ancient but beautiful village and even before the Summer could change her mind, they put the house up for sale.
Another young family, the Cobham's bought it. The couple just married and hoped to raise a large family and I was with 13 rooms and definitely status, excellent for this. Thomas Cobham was addressed in all the letters to him as Esquire, a polite title appended to a man's name when no other title is used
. Yes, you will learn some history from me!
   And again new life screamed his lungs out right after birth: their first son in March 1834 and their second in May 1835. It left Mrs. Cobham with a weaker constitution and she talked about renting out the house to move to more comfortable and warmer places. Thomas Cobham agreed but not before he and his wife accompanied the Duke of Somerset to the a large party on November the 7th where all influential people were going to meet each other. You would call it 'networking' in this modern world.

   But it was not until November 19 – 1836 that I was advertised to rent out. I can assure you that the time between the party and the renting out, wasn't a happy one. The couple quarrelled. Thomas suddenly had more and more duties to fulfil outside his residence. I felt so sorry for his wife, but what could I do?


   The family left before a new tenant was found and I stood empty and cold on top of the ancient hill, overlooking the village of Musbury where the columns of smoke stood straight in the cold icy blue sky. People wrapped in their warmest cloths, walked by and only a very few stood still to look up to me and to feel sorry. The poor people in the village said it was a waste of money. The built of me had cost so much and had not been without danger; one builder fell of the roof and never received a compensation which left him and his family in great poverty. Another builder, nobody knew where he came from in the first place, disappeared completely. The story was that he left because he was not paid but rumours told something totally different......

   The Cobham's never returned and I was sold to a new owner in May 1837 who rented me out for a longer period, every time another tenant. No one stayed long enough and I felt cheated and lonely. I can assure you that at this early point in my life, I started to dislike people. Alas, maybe it was my dislike that chased them away again, who will tell after all those years...

   In 1851 I was sold to Mr. Mad Mrs. William Trelawney. Mrs. Trelawney gave birth to a son in 1855. Why is it that only sons are born between my walls? But they too sold the house to a very wealthy man called John Loveridge who also had a house in London where he stayed during the Winter. His elderly bones could not stand the cold in Musbury when the wind was hitting the house, chasing the snowflakes around the corner and making the journey down the hill dangerous, despite the servants cleaning the path.
   I have to admit that John (please forgive me for calling him by his first name) was someone I liked very much. During the months he left me alone, there were always people to warm me by keeping one or two fires burning. In return I gave John his much needed peaceful rest when he grew older.
Unfortunately, a few days after he arrived from London in March 1864, he died and I grieved for a long period. Nobody wanted the house or his furniture and everything was put up for sale in September that very same year.

   And again a young family moved in: Captain and Mrs. John Fryer Still and in November 1869 they got a son who unfortunately had a bad health I could not do anything about. After his premature death in January 1871, they rented out a part of the house to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bourne. Their son was born May 1872. You might think that Mrs. Still would be jealous because her son died and now there was this healthy baby in their home. But this was not the case, she adored the baby and for the very first time there was true love in the house where both couples lived.
When Mrs. Still got badly injured due to an accident in September 1873, Mrs. Bourne helped her where ever she could during the recovery. Both women became very dear friends for the rest of their lives.

   Captain Still, who was a keen gardener like his lovely wife, was fully integrated in Musbury's society and was chosen board member of the local school in 1875. He took this very seriously; I witnessed many meetings where his wife was an excellent hostess.
   They managed to overcome the loss of their son and were socially very active in and around the village. Captain Bourne decided in august 1875 to look for an all round gardener and put an advertisement in the newspaper.

   My happiness with these two couples and all their joyful and busy life came to an end when the house was sold again. My new owner felt like an old friend, he was related to the previous Thomas Cobham and also called Thomas.
   And in 1879, for the very first time between my walls, a daughter was born on January 11, what a wonderful start of the new year! Born during one of the coldest Winters in history with temperatures far below zero.
Fortunately Thomas Cobham did not only inherit the name but also a fortune and managed to keep everyone warm and comfortable inside the house plus the poor people in the village. He and his wife helped where ever they could and were much loved.

   In 1885 they granted him to add the cricket field – locally called the 'Dipping-pan' - to his property but only when 10 acres were made free for local recreation and so it happened.
   But things do not always go according plan and financial problems caused the sale by auction of the complete livestock in March 1888. Used to selling livestock for a living turned out to be different than selling it all. To say goodbye to a part of your life and income was devastating. Everything changed and the house got up for sale again which I hated. Every time I had years of happiness, it came all to an end and I started to wonder if it was me who caused this. Was it the big secret I carried between my walls? The secret all other people managed to keep silent about until they passed away? Did they ever think about me as a witness who sooner or later was going to reveal what happened that dark and rainy night?
   For how much longer will I keep silent? The older I get and the more souls are moving in and out the house, the more difficult it is to find my own peace. My anger about the neglect of my feelings is building up and I am thinking of a plan to become well known in the end. Even after my final end, people will talk about me for years and years.....

  It was not until the end of the 19
th century that it was quiet in the house again. Like in the days of John Loveridge, again an elderly man lived between my walls: Major Lock. A man with an excellent military background and an honest heart that recognized true braveness. It was due to his efforts that a local villager received the Queen Victoria Medal. A party was planned but both military men were too humble to let that happen. They had done their duty and a party was out of place.
   Major Lock was much loved by everyone including me and his somewhat sudden death at the age of 70, just after he finished his breakfast on April 5 - 1909, was a shock to everyone.

   The years that followed were confusing and where my plan to become famous one day was put to a hold, it started to take shape again when all the furniture and outdoors effects were sold by auction. Again I was an empty shell, left alone with that gruesome secret.....

   I continue with my owners in 1921 when Mr. and Mrs. William McKinnel – true Conservatives – looked for 4 housemaids. Imagine, 4 housemaids in a household of 2 people! They lived a very social life and the house was very seldom empty. Meetings were held between my walls and I learned everything about the Conservative Party. Mr. McKinnel was chosen District Counsellor in February 1923 and had so much input that he managed to have the famous Sir (Arthur) Clive Morrison-Bell, 1
st Baronet, a British soldier and Conservative Party parliamentarian, to speak about Socialists Trenchant Criticisms. No, this was not a party! Let me explain: Criticism of socialism refers to any critique of socialist models of economic organization and their feasibility; as well as the political and social implications of adopting such a system. I told you before, I teach you some history!
   I liked Sir Arthur who was very intelligent though modest. His high forehead was the visible witness of his intelligence. The evening of his speaking he was 54 year of age. And although his red hair and light green eyes, he did not have the temper you expected. Either he learned to control it or was wise enough not to give in to it. I never found out.
   Not everyone in the village was happy with his presence and I have seen some dark figures wandering around my outer walls. I needed all my power to scare them off and I succeeded. Of course I knew about my power but got aware of the real strength that very night.

   William McKinnel died at the blessed age (for those day) of 81 on January the 5th 1934. He was dearly missed by his wife, their marriage had always been very good. Mrs. McKinnel and I had a good relationship too. She looked well after me. She also looked after her staff but the financial world was very unstable.
   Her cook and housekeeper both left in 1939, the dark and uncertain year of the beginning of the second World War and Mrs. McKinnel had to look for a cook/housekeeper. She could not afford two separate women any more.


   Please forgive me for this next big step towards my end.
I do not want to talk about the war nor the people that lived in my house after Mrs. McKinnel passed away. I have only once again been a residence for one family; so many different people moved in and out, died between my walls or even lived in poverty. It did not do me good and the signs of wear and tear became visible. My colours and grandeur faded and it was not until 1981 that I was promoted to a Grade II listed building in good hopes this would make me survive in a time that most people could not afford my maintenance any more.

   The last owner I want to talk about lived here with her husband until his death in 1996. His death which was even for me emotional, but it changed the whole life of his wife. She felt extremely lonely and struggled maintaining me. I have seen many tears in my long life and much grief and sadness but here was grief beyond my understanding as a house. Her whole world changed, she lost touch with the safe and loving base her marriage was. And she looked for ways to fill the emptiness.....

   She converted the house into 4 apartments, she lived in one of them. Although she loved me, she lost control over my safety regulations and did not have the energy nor the will to change this to benefit her tenants and herself. She received a fine which she could not pay.

   She also began to hoard a lot of – in my believes unnecessary – belongings.
The couple already loved antiques and inherited many precious items from their ancestors but now she also bought a lot of items in the charity shops. Most of it without any value. But some were worth money she better should have used for me.
  The tenants left and my rooms, first to enjoy living, were filled with her hoarding activities. My astonishment grew by the week by seeing all those items being piled up. In a way I understood her, believe me I did. Seeing her sadness I understood her hoarding but also knew it was not going to be fulfilling and that one day it would turn against her.... and that day would come sooner or later.....
Photo: sean_explore (Instagram)
Back to you Urbexers, the people who walk through me to explore my rooms, to touch the items left by my last owner who all of a sudden disappeared.
I know you treat the house with respect although some of you laugh about it. But many of you though feel the sadness of it all. Wondering how it got so far.
You have all one emotion and many question in common: where did the owner go and how could she leave everything that shows her emotions, behind.
When did she leave and how? Was there another car than the ones in the garage and the garden? Did she take clothes she needed leaving the rest behind? Why are there still so many items that clearly belonged to her husband and her? Very personal belongings like photo's, the WW1 uniform, letters, documents?

Still, none of you ever asked me what happened. No one touched my walls to feel the energy and to interact with me. To talk to me. Maybe you are afraid to hear too many voices, of all those people that lived here? Or are you afraid of the truth? To discover the story of the builder that disappeared in the middle of the night but who in fact, is still here? Afraid to explain me to you if he was found accidentally and that is why the last owner disappeared? Why no one wants to buy me again?

I am beyond restoration; my decay goes fast and that is what I want. I want to die famous and it is only after my total demolition that you will hear the true story.

Yours faithfully,

Mountfield.
Note from the author: the dates, and names attached to the dates, are real and found in archives, any mistakes are not my responsibility.
However... the characters, their feelings and thoughts are pure fiction, a figment of my imagination. So are the personal feelings of the last owner who has not been heard off but still might be alive. Please keep this in mind when you read my story or visit Mountfield; pay her your respect. She deserves this.


A big thank you
to my Instagram friend Sean who made a video of his exploration at Mountfield and who triggered my curiosity for it. I have been going through many files and websites and want to name the most important:
*1 www.genesreunited.co.uk births, deaths and newspaper articles
*2
www.revolvy.com information about Sir (Arthur) Clive Morrison-Bell
*3
http://www.pascalbonenfant.com weather in England from 1700 – 1849
*4
Sean Explores the video 'An Urbex Dream – Hoarders Mansion'
Please also visit both Instagram Accounts of Sean: Sean Explores and his Fan Page

Important
: if you want to use any information from my story, please contact me on forehand or refer to me in your article. Thank you :-)

Helen

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Love beyond Time, a Christmas story

   It is extremely cold and I ask myself why I gave in to my own hideous plan to explore the house in the middle of the forest.

   Of course I am dressed properly: a thick warm coat, warm boots with thermo-socks, gloves, a comfortable hood to keep my ears from freezing and even my photo bag is protected against the icy cold. Hopefully my camera isn't going to freeze. I know from experience that an empty abandoned villa is colder inside than the temperature outside indicates.
   I often thought about this phenomenon and the only answer I can think of, is that there is not only no heating but also the souls of the former inhabitants are gone. Even if there are warm memories, you can't feel it any more.
   This is my first visit to the house, I discovered it accidentally and are still surprised nobody ever mentioned it, nor have I ever seen photo's taken by fellow explorers. I am, to say the least, very curious.

  The first time I saw the house, the weather was more friendly, no snow. But I did not have the time to go inside after I discovered a door from the the stables to a hall. I hope the door from the hall to the house is unlocked, we'll see.
   At some places the snow is thick and comes above my boots but I continue my way to the villa. Meanwhile I admire the beautiful surroundings. Nothing is as quiet as a snowy forest absorbing every sound. Only occasionally you hear the quick flutter of a bird but most are gone to warmer areas. There is no wind to clear the heavy branches, sometimes you hear a soft cracking noise as if the weight of the snow is too much for the trees. But apart from that and my breathing causing little clouds, there is silence.

   Sooner then expected the house appears from between the trees, it's roof hardly visible under the weight of the snow. I do not dare to think what is going to happen when the temperatures rise, the roof must leak.
There are no footprints; I know I am on my own and for the first time since I started the expedition, I wonder if this is safe. Too late; I have to be careful and cross my fingers.
I walk to the back, enter the stables that once housed horses and carriages but now the old decaying hay and straw are the only witnesses of a more glorious time.
   The door to the hallway is still unlocked as is the door to the house. It makes a squeaking noise and in a reflex I stand still to listen. There are no other sounds, it is even too cold for the mice and rats.
I push the door further open and enter a large country style kitchen, covered in dust and cob webs but still fully equipped. Actually it looks like if the cook is going to return any moment, complaining the fires are not burning and dinner will not be ready in time. I imagine to smell the pies and cakes.
   Standing still makes me aware of this strange cold and I wrap my arms around my body. Before I am going to take photo's, I first want to explore the house. Everything will still be the same on my way back. And if the whole house is like the kitchen, I am ready for a few surprises, I can't wait.


   From the kitchen I enter a long, long hallway with many doors and I hesitate for a moment choosing one. I open the third at my right and enter a beautiful drawing room with high ceilings and large windows. The ingenious ornaments of the ceiling let go their paint although obviously reluctant to do so but the damp wins its nasty game. The grand curtains which must have cost a fortune, still wait to be closed to keep the cold out but there are no hands any more to do so. Cob webs hang down from the corners, catching flies although they too left the house.
   I walk slowly through the majestic room; the little clouds of my warm breath follow me as if they are reluctant to solve in the cold air.
The furniture is impressive and the dust can not hide the colours of the expensive upholstery and the once lovingly polished wood. The thick carpets muffle the sound of my footsteps. Despite all the glamour and beauty, the room does not look like it was used too often. At least not for cosy family gatherings.
   The enormous fireplace is black and in between the old ash from previous fires and the dirt let go by the large chimney now blocked by crow nests, there are still large logs. I feel tempted to lit them but know I will most likely set the house on fire.

In the panelling I notice a door that looks so small but is actually of a very normal size. I find it difficult to resist doors and walk towards it. The brass handle moves smoothly when I press it and the door swings open like it had been oiled yesterday. I enter a much smaller room and what I see takes my breath.

   Nothing here is dusty, I don't smell decay. On the contrary, I smell roses and a perfume that has not lost its strength. Strangely I am not frightened, it feels like coming home and although I do not understand this completely unexpected feeling, I give in to it and relax.
   The fireplace in this room is much smaller and the chimney looks very clean. I can't resist the feeling that I have been here before. Or that I belong here but decide not to think about this. The logs for the fire are stacked in a very large basket and in a reflex I put some in the hearth and light them with the matches on a small table next to a very comfortable sofa. I don't ask myself if I am doing the wrong thing or if someone outside will see the smoke coming from the chimney, there is something in this room that will protect me, I can feel this very clearly.
   It does not take long before the cold disappears, much sooner than expected it feels comfortable and warm. I take off my coat and hood and settle on the sofa, snuggled up between soft cushions that release the same scent of roses I smelled entering the room. I smile, a broad happy smile and think: “Why did it take me so long to come home?”
   I watch the flames dancing and spreading their welcoming heat and I feel my cheeks turning red. My whole body begins to glow; I take off my warm sweater; my blouse lighted by the flames. The atmosphere makes me sleepy and I doze off.

   When I open my eyes (I must have slept for only a few minutes because the fire is still burning as it did) I notice the little Christmas lights on top of the stone mantle. I am surprised but do not ask any questions. Instead I watch their soft glow in between the needles of the fresh branches of a pine-tree.
   The smell of pine is getting stronger and competes with that of the roses. I turn my head and see a beautiful very large Victorian style decorated Christmas tree which reflection in the large mirror above the mantle, had escaped my attention. Or wasn't it there before? I don't know. Everything in this room is not as I expected and I refuse to question my observations.
  
   Instead I give in to the wonderful feelings that overwhelm me. Feelings of being wanted, coming home, being loved beyond physical attraction. Never in my live have I felt so comfortable as today.
Photo: Helen Varras
   While sitting on the sofa, feeling the heat of the fire, I watch every detail of the room and everything in here is so familiar. I know the titles of all the books, I know the date of the whiskey in the crystal bottle. I know the feel of the soft materials of the cushions and curtains as if I had chosen them myself from a large variate of beautiful samples. I know how they feel against my cheek. I even know the name of the roses that spread their eternal smell and close my eyes again.

   Then I hear that beautiful voice I have been waiting for all my life; deep and warm, surrounding me, touching every nerve in my body, making me tremble. I feel the strong hands that hold me, their warmth reaches my skin through my clothes. I smell the masculine scent that matches so perfectly with that of my favourite roses.
   While I hide in the loving arms that surround me, I kiss the lips that tell me how much I am loved, that smile when they say: “What took you so long my love?”.
I smile too but do not answer, I do not need to; you read my feelings as you have always done over the past centuries. I am home, not only for Christmas but forever.


Helen

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Château Noisy (or Miranda) follow up

   A few weeks ago I published the story 'Château Noisy (or Miranda), her personal feelings'.

   A story not only close to my heart but also to a large amount of dedicated Urbexers (Urban Explorers). I received emotional feedbacks and viewed ever since, more photo's on Instagram in which Noisy is remembered.

   One of these Urbexers, my Instagram friend Sean, has a wonderful collection of photo's of this former beautiful Belgium Castle and he asked me if he could read my story in a YouTube production with his photo's.
I loved the idea from the first moment on. I am a frequent visitor of Sean's YouTube Channel and was also very, very curious how the story would be read out loud by a pure Brit.

   Every writer knows that the words he/she writes, also sound in his/her head. You write the intonation, the accents at the right place, etc. Never before have I heard one of my own stories read by someone and Sean is definitely the one I trusted to do it.


When he sent me the try-out two weeks ago, I was deeply touched. The whole (film, music and reading) was beautiful and complete. I even had a few tiny tears in my eyes (could also be my age of course ;-).

   On a serious note, I viewed his production a few times before he told me he deleted it again until it was ready for the definite upload. And this is today: Saturday December 16, 2017.

The link:Château Miranda Noisy Castle, THE STORY

   Please visit Sean's YouTube Channel, subscribe, like and leave comments. I am so proud of what he established! Can I adopt you as my grandson Sean?

   Sean also has an Instagram account: 'sean_explore' and 'exploressean'

Dear loyal, lovely readers have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas!

Helen