On one side of the door was a packed surgery with fighting, bleeding, dying patients… on the other side was a quiet grassy bank with one coffin.

Sally bolted the door after the doctor pulled out a clump of her hair and fell back into the maelstrom.

A Traveler In A Dish Of Pain

I’m miserable about being OLD… I’m not actually old – I’ve just reached that age where I realise death is inevitable and not a remote melodramatic thing that might happen if no one likes my selfie on facebook.

I mean we’re for it. We’re doomed. We’re on a conveyor belt of relentless decay.

You will not escape.

So in a shallow and perverse way – this very sorrowful poem – by a young man whose unfair era murdered him before his time – cheered me up.

Chidiock Tichborne was a 24 year old Catholic who became involved in the Babington Plot to free Mary Queen of Scots, then imprisoned in England. Along with seven of his fellow conspirators he was eviscerated, hanged, drawn and quartered.  Their fate aroused so much sympathy that the seven remaining conspirators were hanged. Which is rather more gruesome and depressing than it seemed in one of my favourite childhood books Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveler in Time’.

My Prime of Youth Is But A Frost of Cares

by Chidiock Tichborne

Written in the Tower of London on the Eve of his Execution. 


My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is gone and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I lookt for life and saw it was a shade,
I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.



No one risked the street while G’s coffin was moved to the car. They watched from windows as the rolling news hyped his funeral.

“Thank God he’s dead”, piped the lodger, Ed.

“If you say so”, said Pearl, the landlady, adding his name to a list.



The opening of The Saviour Building was on a cold Winter night when the snow compacted the city. Jane and Alan watched the masses push into the stairwells, making for the roof, and they took a clicking steel lift.

“I knew they were lying”, shouted a fat man, half crushed by the crowd, a distorted face and a pointing finger, “the lifts work! The lifts work”!

It surged: bones cracked, the air was cut. Aware of the chaos, they left the lift and walked into the sickly hothouse control room to abort the operation.


x mas

Jane led Tara and Alan behind a blast wall in the black granite bunker and went into a booth.

“you won’t feel much,” she said.

There was a slight shake and eventually Tara went back to the pale smoky seafront, where three ships had grounded.

An aftershock let a lion escape the lab and Alan chased it through town before it was cornered in an Italian restaurant eating the chef.