The Village Gossip ‘LockDown’


‘I think it began with a ‘B’……………yes………definitely a ‘B’ ‘

Laura had been at Luke’s Grandmothers for over an hour.

‘Can you think a little bit harder. Luke must have left contact details
with you……an email address, something?’

‘All that computery stuff is over my head dear. I was brought up in a world
of horses, farmyard animals and handwritten perfumed love letters sent by

Royal Mail. All this Bookfacer and Twittwoo stuff is gobbledegook’

‘But he MUST have told you where he was going. What if something’s happened
to him. Aren’t you worried??’

‘Now, there’s no need to shout dear. It’s sad that you and Luke fell out.
I’m sure he’s fine and he’ll return soon.

‘I’ve even tried emailing his Mum in Australia but she’s not replied. So, you
say it started with a ‘B’.

‘I’m getting a bit tired dear……my memory isn’t as great as it used to
be……..hmmmmm……it could have been Banff’

‘BANFF!!! Do you think that’s it!’

‘…………..or Bournemouth………..or was it Brisbane………oh dear…… definitely
began with a ‘B’ ‘

‘Oh for goodness sake! ‘
‘Look my dear, maybe it would be better if you left. If I remember, or Luke contacts me, I’ll get in touch. How’s that’

 As if to cement that statement, the cuckoo clock doors opened and a rather pallid cuckoo, for the four millionth time, rallied itself togethe for another loud ‘CUCKOO CUCKOO’.

Now, beginning to slip into psycho LoLo mode she snapped out ‘‘Here’s my number if Luke contacts you!’

 With frustration increasing by the second, full blown Lolo grabbed her bag, and, in anger, opened the pantry door to leave the kitchen, instead of the real kitchen door, which stood a mere 3 yards away, empty and alone.


  ‘There’s no need for that dear……… I’ll see you out’

Once she’d escorted Lolo off the premises, Luke’s Grandmother snubbed the door, shut the livingroom curtains, opened the computer cabinet doors, powered up her 27” iMac and opened up her email. As Instructed by Luke,she’d told his ex nothing, but thought it best to warn him she was on his case…………

 Unbeknown to his Gran, Luke was now ensconced in the isolation Ward of his local hospital. Despite showing no symptoms of the severe itching and skin colour change to bright pink whatsoever, he found himself entombed in an air tight balloon with two of his bright pink itchy patients. A nurse, well he assumed it was a nurse, as she had the full Ebola kit on, asked him to stretch his arm out to enable a blood sample to be taken.


 ‘Look, I feel fine. I’m sure whatever those chaps have got, it’s not contagious. Can I see the consultant?’

 ‘Phmmmpph mwoom off ooh can’

 Speaking in an Ebola suit wasn’t really suitable for decent conversation. Luke nodded unknowingly. The nurse left with his batch of T cells and haemoglobin and was replaced by two more nurses.

 ‘can either of you help me get out of this place…….no?’

*muffled giggles*

Two rooms away a consult of consultants sat drinking coffee……

 ‘It’s bizarre. Never seen anything like it in all my life’

 ‘Yes, I know….all those nurses drooling over that young Doctor that’s been brought in. I mean, one minute they’re all moaning about having to cover for absences, that they haven’t had a day off since 2009 and the management just “don’t understand the pressure they’re under’. Next minute, they’re all smiles, haven’t a care in the world and, the isolation ward, a place normally as popular as being stuck in a lift with a hungry Jeremy Clarkson, suddenly is more popular than One Directions hotel apartment!’

 ‘No Charles! I’m not talking about the new doctor come patient. I’m talking about the virus. That’s six cases now…..all male……aged between seventeen and seventy three. The Army almost have the entire village in lockdown and an infectious disease expert is arriving this evening from The Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases in London. I’m sure she’ll come up with something’


‘If it was airborne, you would think the female population would be affected as well wouldn’t you?’

 ‘Well, unless there’s something in their genetic make up that’s stopping them from becoming infected. I guess our expert from London will find the answer. Gosh, chaps look at the time. Gone 4pm, some golf clubs are calling me – tally ho………’


 Miss Pearson had accepted the Reverend’s invitation for tea at the manse in the flutter of a heartbeat. He was so lovely. He showed her his beautiful garden with its fountain and rambling roses. He then talked about his youth. How he grown up in Belgium near Antwerp. How his family had come to Britain and how he’d ended up in LochTae.

With tea and scones, Cis, as he insisted she call him, had recited poetry, both in English and his native Flemish. Miss Pearson was mesmerised.


  With a start, she was back in the room.

 ‘Oh My ! Is that the time. I must get back. Princess will be needing her dinner!’

 ‘Of course, of course. I’m sorry. I’ve inconvenienced you’

 ‘No, no, it’s been the most beautiful Sunday afternoon ever.
It’s been captivating. However, Princess is very fickle when it comes to eating times.

If I’m even two minutes late, she’ll start gurring, then she gnaws the cushions’

 ‘Should I give you a lift back to Rose Cottage? You might have no cushions left. I couldn’t live with the thought I was responsible’

 ‘That would be nice’

 ‘I will get my car keys’

 ‘Fine, I’ll meet you outside’

The Reverend had just picked up his car keys when he heard the shriek.


 ‘I’m sorry Ma’am. I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you the owner of this property?’

 The Reverend Cis hurried down the hallway. Standing in the courtyard were six soldiers in full uniform, fully laden with guns, grenades, and…………..very scary masks!!


 ‘Sorry Sir. As I was explaining to the young lady, we’re looking for the owner and occupants of the house’

 ‘I’ve the Reverend Van Der Gelt. I live here and this is Miss Pearson from Rose Cottage, which is at the other end of the village. I was just taking her home’

 ‘I’m afraid that’s not going to be possible Reverend. The whole village is in lockdown to prevent the possible spread of a severe infection’


‘Yes. Six casualties, all from within the village thus far. They’ve been moved to the isolation ward at St Mungo’s. In the meantime nothing is to move. We need you to stay in the house. There’ll be a discreet armed guard, we’ll provide food each day, which will be left in a portable tunnel which we will erect at your front door’

 ‘Each DAY?……. How long are we talking about?

 ‘We don’t know. It could be 3 days, could be a month. Until we know
what we’re dealing with………’

 ‘Oh my’ sighed Miss Pearson. ‘What a palaver. Well, thanks for the
lovely day Cis. If someone could give me a lift home then, I assume I’ll be

under armed guard as well?’

 ‘I think you misunderstand Ma’am. You’ll have to stay here with the Reverend until further notice’

 ‘Here……………with the Reverend……possibly for a whole month!’

 ‘I’m afraid so. Nothing is to move…..nothing’

 Miss Pearson could hardly believe it. A whole month locked in with Cis. How heavenly.

 ‘What about my Princess and…….. clothes?

‘Princess Ma’am?’

 ‘My Chihuahua. She’s in Rose Cottage all by herself!’

 ‘I’ll check with the General. We may be able to bring your ‘Princess’ to you. I can’t guarantee it. She may have to go into quarantine. As for your clothes, If you give me the keys to your house I’ll arrange for one of our female officers to pick some things up for you. I’m assuming there’s no one else living there?’

 ‘No………just Princess’

Travelling northward at 125mph, Dr Helen Ratcliffe sat in the First Class carriage of the Virgin Train. The head of the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases in London was oblivious to how fast she was travelling, engrossed by the pictures and videos St Mungo’s Hospital had sent her. Despite her early Research into the Bubonic Plague, her work on malaria, and in recent times Ebola, she’d never seen anything like it. The patients in the video were wearing woollen mitts tied at the wrist to prevent them scratching themselves silly. She’d never come across any disease like it, and, as for turning bright pink, that was a first as well. She was looking forward to this, especially the very handsome patient with no symptoms. She’d never seen anything like him either 🙂 


            In the centre of the village, the local pub was bristling. Bristling inside with Sunday regulars, the ladies of the local WRI having their monthly gossi……(oops sorry committee meeting ) and the local rugby team who had just mollicated Dalgravy RUC 42-0 and were in high spirits. It was bristling outside with 20 members of 3rd Commando Elite Special Forces, who were just about to break some news to the throng inside the pub. They were about to be involved in the best lock in they’d had for many a year. Well, until the drink ran out that is……..

Sergeant Mathieson entered the pub doorway………….

Ten minutes later there was an almighty roar from the Rugby team when it dawned on them they’d be exempt from sillaging, rugby training AND they were locked in with 40 kegs of the best ale Scotland had to offer.

 ‘Oh yes….. locked in with the entire LochTae Rugby Union team…………one of my fantasies that is…… ‘

 ‘Oh, Gill, you are a one. They’re a bit whiffy already, imagine what they’ll be like after 3 days in here – that’ll shatter your illusions’

 ‘You’re a spoilsport Camilla…….but I think you’re forgetting they installed communal showers out back for the team to use……I think my fantasy is back on ‘

Joyce was trying to get a signal on her new Experia phone.  ‘See this thing….. how can I tweet when the app hasn’t the appetite and the phone refuses to give 2G never mind 4G! – I need to tell the Charity Shop I won’t be in tomorrow

 ‘I think they’ll realise you might not be in when they see the news tonight. ’

  ‘It’s like an early Christmas present isn’t it?’

  ‘Why do you say that Irene?’

   ‘Well, this could mean a whole month away from being a school bursar – If they supply me with bacon butties and a good book to read I’ll be fine’

  ‘I don’t know why you lot are so happy, Stuck in here with a rowdy rugby team, boring Old Jock and Tam, away from my poetry, my magical beautiful peaceful garden, my little cottage, my flowers. I’m not staying. I’m going to escape. They can’t keep us in here against our will!!!’

 ‘Good luck with that plan Janet……….. PAUL, can you pour me another G&T dahling’

  As the LochTae Rugby team started up another song, Janet folded her arms and waited……….


      Barry crouched behind the Massey Fergusson 135. His twenty years experience in the Territorial Army had stood him in good stead. He knew an invasion when he saw one. He’d practiced for this all his life. Why a smallvillage like Lochtae would be ‘invaded’ didn’t cross his mind. He had a job to do and nothing would stand in his way. He recognised the uniforms. They were Commandos – special elite forces – probably Russian made to look like British soldiers. They’d already taken McTaggerts farm. He’d seen them escorting the couple and their children into the barn. They were probably dead already. Using stealth techniques he’d learned whilst in Iraq, Barry would make his way back to his cottage, where he would black up, camouflage up and stock up……..


Luke now shared Bubbleworld with Callum, Joseph Connolly, Robbie Grierson and Ian Gunn. All four of them had exhibited symptoms including severe itching and their skin turning a bright shade of pink.

 ‘Can I ask you guys, have any of you done anything unusual together or all come into contact with something?’

  ‘What do you mean ‘something unusual together!!!’

   ‘All I meant was, have you done anything in the last week or so where all four of you were in the same place at the same time?’

     ‘We did do the sheep thi…..’

     ‘Callum!!! Shoosh……ya daft sod’

     ‘What ‘sheep thing’? ‘

     It took another twenty minutes of intrigue and dishonesty before the four finally admitted they’d all been involved in rustling Old Jocks prize Ram Pedro and 49 other of his wooly friends.

     ‘Honestly, we were planning to give him them back once the Village Show was over. It was a bit of a laugh. He wins it every single year. We thought it only fair someone else be given a chance’

     ‘Did you notice anything unusual?’

     ‘Not really. I do remember someone saying something about a smell when herding them up in one of the wagons but sheep do smell occasionally’

     ‘…and that, if I’m correct Mr Gunn, is the only time you’ve all been together recently?’

     ‘Probably ever, apart from the show itself. Even then, we’re not together together…..’

     ‘So, I need to find Old Jock. He might have the answer to all this’

     ‘How many of you were involved in all this’

     The now out of the closet sheep rustlers looked at each other.

     ‘About twenty of us I think’

     Luke rolled his eyes. If his theory was correct, Bubbleworld was going to become a bit crowded over the next day or so…he had to get out, find Old Jock, and solve the mystery of the pink men.


     Janet peered out of the tent. The pub had been in full swing until eventually most of LochTae RFC had fallen over in a crumpled heap in the bar. 3rd Commando had kindly set up tents in the beer garden with the women from the WRI commandeering the two nearest the back wall. Despite the effort made to make them comfortable, despite the excellent company and despite a nice warm sleeping bag, Janet had made up her mind. She wasn’twasting another minute. She wanted, nay needed back to her little cottage in the forest.

     She’d thought out her plan earlier in the day. Her tent was right next to a wood store. She’d seen an oil drum next to it. There were no members of 3rd Commando in sight. She quickly skipped out of the tent and within seconds was atop the woodstore. From there she clambered onto the wall. Surely they wouldn’t shoot her. Her heart was beating ten to the ten (that’s decimalisation for you, ruins everything 🙂 ).

     It was a fair old jump to the grass, but her Tai Chi made her ideally suited for jumping off walls in the dark, hopefully not just to be shot by a member of 3rd Commando. She leapt from the wall……..

     She saw the glint of his eyes a split second before landing on top of him. Janet let out a muffled yelp with the only other sound being a moan from whoever she’d just dropped upon. She rolled over, expecting soldiers tocome racing from all directions and escort her in to the back of an Army van.


     Not a sound. She hears a whimper from her ‘victim’, She quick pulled out her smartphone and shone it in the direction of the prostrate casualty.


     It was Barry, the villages version of Bear Gryllis and Ranulph Fiennes, all rolled into one slightly mad ex Territorial Army oddball. A quick scan revealed he had guns, grenades and a sore head.

What on earth was he doing?

She heard a noise and rolled over towards the bushes. There was some scuffling noises, some rustling, some pitter patter, a crack, a hiss, a few other strange noises, then silence again. She took a peek. Barry was nowhere to be seen, gone, vamooshed, vanished! She crawled about 20 feet to the trees. Stopped, listened, heard nothing and ran like the wind, towards home.

As Janet sprinted faster than Usain Bolt back to the forest, Luke Gabriel was trying to persuade an extremely nice, but anxious nurse to help him escape.

     ‘I know, I know, I know. But no one believes me that this is not a pandemic that’s going to kill everyone on Earth. Those guys itching in the corner were all in the same location, at the same time. I believe they came into contact with something that night. I need to find the farmer, and find out the cause before this whole thing grows horns and I lose a month of my life stuck in a bubble for no reason!’

     ‘….but I might lose my job!’

     ‘I promise you, you will not lose your job. I just need my shoes trousers and a doctors jacket. You didn’t see a thing……’

     Half an hour later, if anyone had looked closely,they would have seen a slightly perspiring Doctor Luke Gabriel walking out of the foyer of St Mungos Hospital and into the night.

     Hundreds of miles away Laura switched on the news………………

     ‘Tonight police commenced a manhunt for an escaped patient, Dr Luke Gabriel, who is believed to be at large in the Balmar area. He may be carrying a contractable virulent and dangerous contagion and police are warning the public not to approach him and to contact their local police station immediately…..’

     The Village Gossip ‘LockDown’ was written by me, David Linden. Follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015.



Pell Of The Selgovae – Chapter 4 – The Black Hawk

It was hard to believe that over a thousand years hence, the place where six Roman soldiers found themselves stuck in mud trapped by a large bear, would eventually become a large Tescos site just off the M6 near Carlisle………..

‘Excuse me, you can’t park there, it’s a parent and child spot…….!!’


‘What is it?’

‘Someone’s nicked me kids…..!’

‘But…… only just drove in to the space’

‘Oh well, must have left them at home… piss off!’

Fort Lugulovia nr Tescos just off the M6 @ Carlisle
Fort Lugulovia nr Tescos just off the M6 @ Carlisle

Back in 82AD, Tirious Fearsus, Lactos Tolrant and the others stared at the bear.

‘Well, I think it’s come to that time my friends…..’

‘What time is that Tirious?’

‘The time Romulus, when one of us has to take one for the team…’

‘What do you mean ‘take one for the team?’

‘As in the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ (see that didn’t appear first in Star Trek…Spock stole it from Tirious Fearsus 🙂 )

Sam wriggled uncomfortably in the mud. Not only because he could see where this was going, he was also uncomfortable from having spent eight hours stuck in a bog with a large bear waiting to eat him. It also annoyed him immensely, that, despite being from a fine Roman family, instead of Romulus Romulus or Sunnius Tannas or even Tirious Fearsus, his lazy parents had called him Sam. Not Sammius Sammus or Sambuko Sampdoria, just Sam.

‘So, in that last sentence ‘needs of the few’, who’s the few?’

‘Well Sam, life teaches us many things. Things like ‘women and children first’ and ‘tomatoes didn’t exist in 84AD’. Unfortunately, we don’t have any women and children, but you’re the closest. Therefore, I vote, you distract the bear, thus saving five of us in return for losing just one of us’

‘Run that past me again. You’re hinting that as I’m the youngest, i should make a break for it, risking my life to save you lot. What criteria are we basing this stastistical problem on?’

‘You’re the youngest, fittest, bravest, most intelligent……….and, most of all, you’re the fastest of all of us.’

‘I would also like to point out, I am the youngest….and……….and……… Gran back in Rome thinks I’m ‘special’ ‘

‘Ok….we should have a vote….all those in favour of Sam distracting the bear while we escape, live our lives fully, eventually dying of natural causes in our forties, raise their hand………………………. ok, that’s unanimous – five votes for and one against’

‘Exsqueeze me. I might be the youngest but I’m not daft. If i tell you that it was Tirious Furious who drank the last of the red wine and tried to blame it on one of the local peasants………….how about a revote?’

‘Yooouuu stole the wine???’

‘Look, it was a momentary lapse whilst under enormous stress’

‘Enormous stress!!! It was the one and only night you had to do the cooking as Herbius was sick!’

‘Exactly……..and I’m no cook’

‘Well, we found that out 🙂 ‘

‘Okay okay……i made a mistake. One solitary mistake. Hang me for it for Caesars sake! ok we’ll have another vote. All those in favour of Sam, who ate the last of the bacon last weekend, saving our lives…….’

‘Sam…… ate the bacon, even though you’d eaten two plates of milky oats, a trout and a slab of beef the size of Romulus’s head?’

‘okay, over some bacon i will die to save you. Tell my Mother and Father I hate them for not giving me a proper Roman name and dressing me up in girls clothes……….’

The bear growled…………

Sitting upon his black stallion he watched, hidden by foliage and the fact the Romans were too preoccupied with deciding who would be the sacrificial lamb. He lit the torch………


The Black Hawk, fiery torch in hand, pulled on the reigns and drove his hoven beast towards the bear………………

THe Black Hawk's Black Hawk :-)
The Black Hawk’s Black Hawk 🙂


Pell was soaking wet. He’d climbed the Grey Mares Tail, and, was now traversing the narrow ledge behind the waterfall. As the falls cascaded behind him, he finally reached the cave entrance. The Elders of the village, usually while under the influence of beer, spoke of The Wise One, a magician of sorts. Legend had it, he sat in this cave conjuring monsters from pockets of air and making trinkets to sell to travellers. Pell crept foward into the darkness. There was no sign of any life here.
Dark, damp, and really really smelly. It couldn’t possibly be the home of someone so powerful and wise. Something slimey dropped from the roof onto Pells face.


Several other things happened to Pell in the dark, dreary, damp, dingy cave and, I would normally use at least another two paragraphs, nay, three, to create the atmosphere of a young warrior hunting for a Wise Man in a cave, but my dinner is ready……so….Pell reached the end of the black dark cave.
He pulled a bag of sprokle* from his pocket…….

sprokle* a fungus which glows in the dark

As his eyes adjusted to the sprokle’s glow, he could now see the cave was much larger than he’d thought. Stalagtites, stalagmites, little weird beetles, relatives of the sprokle he held in his hand and……..


………and………someone in the cave right beside him………

‘It’s ok Pell, it’s me!’

‘Arla, in Estrella the Night God’s* name!’

*Estrella the Night God – made that up. I don’t know who they would have worshipped at the time, and, Jesus, who had just been nobbled by the Romans, they might not have known about mainly due to the slowness of the world wide web in 82AD.

‘You followed me……I told you to stay at Hightops and watch for Lyan and Raich’s return’

‘They’re back safe and well. Scared the Golden Ones to death and left them stuck in a bog watched over by the biggest bear they’d ever seen :-)’

‘What was that!?’

‘What was what Pell?’

‘That rumbling noise’

‘I can’t…….’

Suddenly the floor beneath their feet started to vibrate…..


It was too late. The cave floor in front of them disappeared downwards, leaving an unjumpable chasm between them and the way out…….


Even large black bears were scared of fire and even more scared of someone riding towards them shouting ‘YAAArgghhh’. It growled and ambled off into the woods.

*cliche warning*

‘…..and so, who do we have here?’

‘Thank you for saving us, we’ve been stuck here for hours…..’

‘You’re not saved yet….I leave…..the bear comes back… get my drift’

‘But that would be really evil’


Hissing was The Black Hawks speciality. He was also a natural at evil guffawing and laughing sarcastically.

‘Yessssssssss, it would be particularly evil. I am not called The Black Hawk for nothing’

‘Is it because of that long crooked beak of yours??’

‘NO, you fools, it’s because I am EVIL and mainly because of the black hawk that’s sitting upon my shoulder!’

‘but, there’s nothing sitting on your shoulder’

‘Shoosh Sam! You’ll have us killed’

‘He must have snuck off for something to eat. Let’s hope he finds something or he may return and choose something else for his main course. He particularly likes Roman eyessssssss’

The bogged down Romans looked at each other. Their ‘saviour’ was turning out to be worse than the bear.

‘Who are you and where are you headed?’

‘We are Roman soldiers from the Fort of Lugulavio. We are on a mission north to engage the Celtic savages’

‘…and dessspite having weapons, armour and six of you….you managed to let a single bear beat you’

‘Well, it was a BIG bear and there were other things going on at the time’

‘Like what?’

‘Well, fiery things, ghouls, ghosts and devils in the trees…..’

‘Devilssss in the treessss you say’

‘Yes…..north of here there are forests containing demons, monsters and magic’

‘Are there now…..jusssst the very thing I’m looking for…..I will help you out…..provided you give me two gold Roman coins each’

‘TWO coins each…but…..!’

‘I hear the bear……..’

‘Okay okay…..’

Just then a black hawk landed on The Black Hawks shoulder. He drew a snearing smile’


Within seconds a small bag landed in front of The Black Hawks stallion. He threw them a rope and within a few minutes some rather muddy Romans stood befuddled as to what to do next.

‘Thank you’

‘Do not thank me. I am unthankable. I gathered your horses. I may have a use for you Romansssss’

The Black Hawk knew that hissing and adding extra hissing esses to words was a stereotypically evil character thing to do, but it worked. He’s tried using extra d’s when using the word ‘dead’ but it didn’t work as well. He’d stick to esses for now.

‘Ssssso, your plan was to travel north, engage these Celts in the Magic Forest of Demons, and, I presssummme, kill them?’

‘Well…….our General….Claudius Nimbus…’

‘Not….thee Claudius Nimbus, who attacked his own Roman Army after his legion got lost in fog…. not THAT Claudius Nimbus’

‘See……even he’s heard of him!’

‘Shoosh Sam….!’

‘Yes. that’s him. He doesn’t believe us that there are untold horrors to the North. We have to find, capture and take back something to Lugulavio’

‘Well……I think you should continue your journey……I will be keepng an eye on you’

With that, The Black Hawk wheeled his black stallion and was off into the mist’

‘Did you notice that hawk of his had poohed on his shoulder……’ 🙂

Tirious Fearsus, for the first time that day, laughed.

‘Right, so, death awaits us if we return with nothing, possible death awaits us at the hands of monsters and demons to the North, and, we now have an evil psycho with a black hawk that’s has a penchant for Roman soldiers eyes, who’s keeping an eye on us. Oh joy. It gets better by the moinute. Let’s get a move on’


Pell and Arla stood in the sprokle light staring at the hole.

‘Great. what were the chances of that! Been sitting happily as a cave floor for thousands of years and today of all days… decides to disappear………………unless……’

‘Unless what Pell….unless what…….?’

Arla was now scared and clinging on to Pell’s arm.

‘Unless someone built this as some sort of defence mechanism to keep people out’

‘But we’re on the wrong side of ‘out’ Pell?

‘Yes, that’s true’

‘what’s that over there in the corner’

Pell turned.

‘Can’t make it out. Hold the sprokle up higher’

They moved closer. Suddenly Arla screamed.

A skeleton lay long dead in the corner. Slumped and sad.

‘Ah……we’re definitely on the wrong side of ‘out’ Arla, we definitely are….’

‘Oh Pell….. what if this is it. This is where we die together……..hold me……I don’t want to die alone’

Pell put his arms around her. They’d never been this close. He gazed at her sprokle lit face. She was beautiful. From the first minute he’d met Arla, he knew there was a spark between them. Bright, beautiful and brave, she gave him butterflies in his stomach. They drew closer. For the first time his awkwardness and fear of the opposite sex had diminished. They drew closer still. Arla closed her eyes…….. Pell closed his…….. their first kiss was about to happen……..

……….when the rope ladder clonked Pell on the head………!


Pell, unclenched himself from Arla with a mixed sense of relief and disappointment. He looked up.

‘LOOK, up there, there’s a light!’

Arla, who’s face still bore the look of bitter disappointment, looked up. There was indeed a light and a ladder leading up to it. If only whoever’d dropped it had done it two minutes earlier, she’d have been even happier.

‘Well, I suppose we should give it a go. Looks like someone lives here after all’

After a bit of a struggle with the rope ladder, they both stood at the entrance to a long stone walled corridor. There were no flaming torches nor sprokle, yet there was light. They started walking, and walking and did some more walking until, eventually arriving at a wooden door which carried a sign saying ‘DO NOT DISTURB!’

Pell knocked at the door.

‘CAN’T YOU READ THE SIGN!’ bellowed a voice behind the door.

‘I’m sorry’ said Pell in a slightly embarrassed tone. ‘We need help’

‘The door opened’

‘I know you need help. That’s why you’re here isn’t it………Pell’

‘How I know your name is not important……you are in grave danger…… is your young lady friend here……Arla…isn’t it?’


If he did succeed in finding Ethrid The Wise One, Pell had expected an old wrinkled man with white hair with a crooked back and smelling of dead sprokle. Instead, the man that stood before him had long fair hair and looked the same age as Tarlo, Pell’s father.

‘We are fending off the Gold Ones even without the Elders from the tribe. They know nothing of what we do. But more are coming. I know we may need more than swiftness, brains and bravery if they return with more soldiers. That’s why we tried to find you’

‘I’m afraid, it’s not the ‘Gold Ones’ as you call them you need to fear. No, there are many darker forces out there looking for both of you than those stupid Romans. One is only two days horseride from here. He aims to hunt you down and kill you………….both’

‘Who knows us and why would they want to kill us?’

‘You are both more special than you know…….and he? He is…….. The Black Hawk…………..’

Pell Of the Selgovae Chapter 4 – ‘The Black Hawk’ was written by David Linden. you can follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015

@Radio6Music – The Cashline Dancer

Driving home from work the other night, I was listening to Radio 6 Music. They wanted listeners to email in their ‘dance floor disasters’. By the time I got home I’d forgotten all about it until this morning…………

I hope the person who I’m going to write about doesn’t mind. If he ever does read it he’ll know its him 🙂

We had some workmates over from one of our companies other sites, and a group of us had decided to go out for a few drinks in the town centre. If i remember rightly we met up in a Wetherspoons, had a couple of drinks and headed up the High St. As we were walking past a bank, one of our visiting group from the North East (let’s call him Jim) stopped and said he he needed some money from the cashline. We walked slowly on up towards Menzies. As we reached the Steeple I stopped.

dangerous cash machine!
dangerous cash machine!

‘Where’s Jim?’

We all turned to find him hobbling along with a limp. We thought he was kidding on.

‘C’mon you silly old fart….run!!!’

After a few seconds it became clear he wasn’t having us on. Something had happened.

‘What happened?’

‘Well, I took the money from the machine. Turned my head. Saw you’d walked quite a distance and decided to turn and skip into a slow jog. As i turned I tweaked my right calf muscle’

‘Tweaked your right calf muscle! You look as if you’ve been ten rounds with Mike Tyson! We only left you for a second. Christ!’

One of the girls who wasa bit more sympathetic suggested we change our plans and go somewhere where Jim could sit down’

‘I’m fine…… Jumpin Jacks here we come!’

‘Are you sure Jim. A dance club isn’t probably top of your to-do list at the moment’

‘It’s ok. I did it once before. I’ll be fine’

So we trundled on with limping Jim, contemplating just how easy it was to hurt yourself.

We eventually ended up at the club, and, after parting with our hard earned cash, we were in. It wasn’t long before some of the group drifted on to the dance floor. I found myself standing with one of my mates just watching a cornucopia of dance moves, ranging from standing still waving ones arms to a couple of John Travolta Saturday Night Fever types.
It was then i spotted Jim. Our limping star and one of our other Strictly Come Dancing stars had somehow managed to persuade two pretty girls to get up on the stage. Jim seemed to be managing reasonably well with his torn calf muscle, although he was listing to one side a bit.

Eventually the girls decided a third dance with our two Fred astaires was pushing it and left them standing dancing with thin air. They looked around in a ‘we’re not really bothered if no one wants to dance with us but we are really’ 🙂 Eventually they gave up and started down the steps from the main stage down to the lower dance floor.

Jim as John Travolta :-)
Jim as John Travolta 🙂

Suddenly, Jim was sprawling on the floor having taken two dancers with him. His compatriot went to help him up but was beaten to it by two burly bouncers who grabbed Jim by the lapels and hoisted him up the steps. Theres was a commotion, waving arms and the last we saw of them was Jim and his sidekick being escorted off the premises. By the time we got outside they’d gone. There was no sign of either of them.

On Monday morning, work beckoned. It wasn’t long before Jim arrived, still limping.

‘Hey Jimbo, didn’t realise you’d had that much to drink. Not exactly the best way to finish the evening getting booted out by the bouncers’

‘I wasn’t drunk. My calf gave way as we were walking down the stairs. With no handrail, that was it, down I went and took two dancers out on the way’

‘Jeezo Jim. Really wasn’t your night’

‘Is your leg ok?’

He lifted his trouser leg……

‘OMG Jim, christ…!’

He really had ruptured his calf. His entire calf was almost black!!

‘I did something similar 20 years ago. It’ll be fine’

Then he lifted the sleeve of his shirt.

It wasn’t quite as bad but it was also black and blue.

‘My shoulders got something similar too. When i fell off the steps I banged myself good and proper.

‘God Jim. The thing is….you’re up here to work a couple of days on a product trial. When you head home tonight, how on earth are you going to explain to your wife what happened to you!?’

I never did find out what story he came up with, and I didn’t send his story to Radio 6 music but let Jims travails remind you to be aware of dangerous cashline machines and dodgy calf muscles……… 🙂

@Radio6Music – The Cashline Dancer was written by David Linden. You can find me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015

The Village Gossip Chapter 2 ‘Itchy Pink Men’

‘So when did the itching start?

‘This morning…’s driving me nuts. Can you give me some cream or something?’

‘Callum isn’t it?………..Well…Callum….we need to figure out what might be causing it and we’ll take it from there…….have you come into contact with anything unusual? Chemicals….changed toiletries…..members of the opposite sex……?’

‘What do you mean……arrgghh….please make it stop!!’

‘Well, your Mum….Anne, she mentioned a Roberta Snodgrass……’

‘She……what!!!……I’ll kill her!!’

‘I don’t think we need to go as far as that…..well?’

‘NO i’ve never been near Roberta Snodgrass……. well…there was that snog at the school disco’

‘Ah… when was this………ahem……..snog?’

‘Ten years ago….. I’d be about 7 years old’

‘Ah, it’s not that then……let’s have a closer look…….you’re skin does seem to be a bit pink……..’


Meanwhile the ‘ladies who do’ had met for their weekly social gossip (sorry WRI meeting 🙂 ) in the Black Bull pub…………

‘Oh Ginny, Gill, Mary…..Jan…… terms of good looking doctors we have hit the jackpot dearies. He’s like a damson pudding followed by an ice cold G&T of a Sunday afternoon……..he’s gourgioso……..!!’

‘Well……I’d swap my MBE for a dashing young doctor’

‘Steady Gill…..what’s in that Moscow Mule? 🙂 ‘

‘Well, Ginny……in the 30 years we’ve been having our WRI meetings in the Black Bull, we’ve talked about bad doctors, rude doctors, nice doctors….but never a 6 foot two, handsome packet of lush’

‘I hope if i dare to give him a peck on the cheek, he turns into my prince, and i can whisk him of to my magical fairy cottage in the woods, where we will live for ever and ever amongst the faeries and flowers’

‘Oh….Jan……if only………i’m sure he would love that little thatched cottage in the forest. You have such a beautiful garden…..’

‘….and faeries at the bottom of it……don’t forget the faeries!’

‘I’m sure he’d love the fairies too…..only one problem…….’

‘What’s that……don’t tell me he doesn’t believe in them……please don’t’

‘No…….the only problem is there’s a queue for our Luke Gabriel…….a queue that’s getting longer by the minute…….may the battle commence……..’

*giggles from round the table*

‘Changing the subject….did you hear that Callum Robertson has been cavorting with that Roberta Snodgrass!’

‘What do you mean……..cavorting?’ Camilla

‘Well………when we met the gorgeously dreamlike Dr Gabriel earlier, Callum came running round the corner shouting and yittered on about an itch. Ended up being his first patient. His mother was affronted. That’s what happens with the youth of today. You’d never have seen it in our day. Disgusting!’

‘But……what about all those Navy officers you’re always meeting in Portsmouth every time your Randall is back in port???’

‘That’s different Gill, very different……..have another Moscow Mule and let’s change the subject shall we……?’

*More giggles……*


‘Well…….I can categorically say young man…I’ve never seen anything like this before. Are you sure you haven’t done anything unusual lately? I mean, your whole arm is bright pink, and, if I’m not mistaken it’s spreading to your face’

‘My FACE!!!’

‘I hope it’s not contagious…….’

‘What do you mean….contagious??’

‘Well, if it is…..I might be bright pink as well tomorrow…..I think we’ll try you with some anti inflammatories and see how you are in the morning. You don’t seem to have any other symptoms, so we’ll go with that just now. Don’t hesitate to call me if things change’

Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Callums mum, receptionist Anne.

‘sorry to bother you Doctor Gabriel, and, I know you don’t officially start until tomorrow, but there’s another patient here to see you. Is Callum okay?’

‘Yes, Anne, take him home, get him an early night and we’ll check him again tomorrow’

As Anne curled her arm (or attempted to) around Callum, a burly man strode through the door.

‘Hi, I’m Luke Gabriel…..and who do we have here?’

‘Hello Doctor, I’m Joseph Connolly, I own Barrhead farm, just up the road’

‘Well, Mr Connolly, it must be urgent to drag you away from your beasts on a Sunday. What seems to be the problem?’

‘Well, I woke up this morning with a really itchy arm…………..’


Five hundred miles away, Luke’s ex fiancee, Laura, stared at her laptop. Photo after photo of Luke popped up on Windows viewer. Followed by pictures of her and Luke together. She’d photoshopped out his friends. She wanted him for herself and couldn’t believe he’d disappeared. leaving behind only a solitary note……….

Luke's note
Luke’s note

He didn’t mean what he’d said. The list of his friends he’d found in her bag with some of the names stroked out was just a silly thing. She hadn’t really forced them away. Well. maybe one or two. After all, Luke was hers. It wasn’t right that Karl robbed them of time together to play squash and cricket. It wasn’t right. It was their time……… It was peculiar that, despite asking everyone, no one at the hospital knew where Luke had gone. Even his friends knew nothing. She hoped he was okay. Perhaps he’d had a breakdown or something. She would find him and make him love her. They were meant to be together and no one else would have him………


At The Fallows, Miss Pearson was getting dressed to take Princess, her little Chihuahua out for a walk, when she was startled by something jumping on to the windowsill. Hortense the hen, not for the first time, stood and stared at her. Despite the fact it was only a chicken, there was something about its staring eyes that made her feel uncomfortable. She banged on the window and shooed it away.


She finished getting dressed, and headed down the hallway. It was a lovely day. Perhaps she would bump in to Cis….. oops……she laughed……she meant the Reverend….on her walk. That would be a fine thing to happen.


Roberta Snodgrass was not a happy bunny. She stormed up the path and thumped on the front door. How dare he accuse her of doing such things. She’d give him a right thumping.

Anne opened the door……


‘I don’t think there’s any need to shout my dear…. who’s ‘he’ ? ‘


‘He’s not that well at the moment, he’s up in hi………’

Anne didn’t get time to finish her sentence. Roberta burst past her and up the stairs.


There was some thumping, some banging and then a scream…………

Roberta came running down the stairs with a look of terror on her face….


She almost clattered Anne and ran down the path just as quickly as she’d come up it.

Anne rushed up the stairs. What had she done to Callum? His door was wide open.

There stood Callum staring ahead. Anne took a step backwards, her hand automatically cupped her mouth.

‘Oh Callum…….what on earth?’

From head to toe Callum was bright pink. Bright shocking PINK!


The next morning Luke headed off early for his first day at his new job. He’s parked the unusual probability of having two people with severe itching in the surgery on the same day, and, Roberta Snodgrass couldn’t be blamed for every illness in the village. The sun was shining, the Morgan was purring, and psycho Laura was a thing of the past. Life was good…………until he saw the huge queue in front of the surgery.

It looked like half the village was there. As he drew closer, he saw, it was almost an entire regiment of women, apart from two very uncomfortably sheepish looking old men at the back of the queue.

He parked up and headed for the entrance. As ‘morning Doctor Gabriel’ after ‘morning Doctor Gabriel’ emanated towards him, each attached to a grinning smile and doughy eyes, he could feel a slight blush coming on. He doffed his salubrious quiff of fine hair in their direction, which was met with either a sigh, a blush, or eyelids being lowered.

Lucy, the morning receptionist met him at the door.

‘What’s all this Lucy?’

‘I’ve never seen it like this Dr Gabriel. Normally, on a Monday morning, we have two pensioners and someone who wants you to check out their pet hamster! Can I get you a coffee or tea before you start?’

‘No, I’d better get on or we’ll be here until midnight…’

Lucy smiled.

‘Oh……and before I forget. Anne took Callum to the hospital last night……and Mrs Connolly left a message to say her husbands been taken in as well……..spookily they’re in the same isolation Ward’

‘Iso…..lation ward’

‘I’m sure that’s what they said’

By lunchtime Luke was exhausted……..

‘I can’t believe it Lucy, only lunchtime and I’ve had at least three women faint and another two men with severe itching. I came here for peace and quiet, not swooning women and pink itchy men’

‘I’m sure it’ll settle down Dr Gabriel. It’s normally the most peaceful place on God’s earth’

Suddenly there was the sound of engines roaring outside. Luke peered out the window. Army lorries. Three of them followed by two police cars with blue flashing lights. They drove straight in to the surgery car park.

‘What on earth?’

Luke and Lucy stepped outside. The door of the first Army lorry opened and out stepped a fully armed rather large soldier. Within seconds troops and police were everywhere.

‘Dr Gabriel?’

‘Yes….that’s me’

‘Did you come in to contact with a Callum Robertson and a Mister Joseph Connolly’

‘Yes, they both turned up at the surgery yesterday…..and todays my fir….’

‘I’m sorry Doctor, but I’m afraid you and your assistant will have to come with us. The village is now in lockdown, nothing is to move in or out. You and your assistant here will be transferred to the isolation unit at our military research base’

Two ‘people’ in white suits and masks appeared from the back of the lorry. Sprayed Luke with a spray like thing and carted him off……

Episode 2 of The Village Gossip ‘Pink Itchy Men’ was brought to you by David Linden – you can follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015

The Village Gossip

The Village Gossip

‘I can’t believe anyone would do this!’

‘Well, they have…..50 of my prize sheep, including my prize ram Pedro….rustled in one night. Can’t really believe it myself. Never mind, chances of catching them are pretty good’


‘How’s that Dad, no clues. They’ll be long gone by now’

‘well…you see son…….I was approached by the local Agricultural college to test something new. It’s a harmless spray to sheep but once on human skin, within 48hrs it apparently causes really bad itching for a couple of days. then turns their skin bright pink. I think there’s a good chance we’ll find them, or at least the police will.

In the meantime, there was mucho excitement down in the village. It had been known for months that Dr Matthews, the village doctor, was nearing retirement. What wasn’t so clear, was, who would replace him. Unlike in the past, the Village Council had not been involved in vetting the new incumbent. Nerves were fraught. The head of the Council, Camilla Tarquin-Knowles, who’s family owned a 3 storey Georgian House on the outskirts of the village, was forthright in her views……

‘He or she has a lot to live up to if they are even to come close to filling Dr Matthews’ shoes. I mean, the last one they sent when Dr Matthews was on holiday, he couldn’t even speak the english language!’

‘You mean Dr McTaggart from Thurso?’

‘Yes, I mean that red haired, hirsute, rude, mad highlander. I could not understand one syllable he came out with. Just a bag of indecipherable noise. I’ve just had a horrible thought, what if he’s applied and got the job permanently. Oh, i feel faint…….get me a seat, a cushion and some sparkling water’

‘Well, our new doctor is due to arrive at the surgery an about an hours time. So, we’ll find out one way or another.’


At the local pub, temperatures were also rising. It was customary whenever the pub door opened, the entire congregation turned to view, vet, comment on, then forget the incoming act. On this occasion, however, the next act on stage was Ginny, the horsey lady from Ginnys’ equestrian centre. As she strode in wearing her usual, higher than the average leather riding boots and the tightest jodhpurs on Planet Earth, she could induce a man to sweat before she’d even come into view.
Old Tom and Bill, retired local farmers, looked up from sipping their beer. As Ginny clip clopped her way to the bar, the years seem to drop from Tom and Bills’ old eyes as they hypnotically followed Ginnys’ jodhpurs to the bar.

‘Hi everyone, how are we all on this sunshiney day today?

She turned deliberately round towards Tom and Bill, giving her thigh an overtly pensioner attention grabbing slight thwack with her riding crop, causing Tom to spray his beer over the table.

‘Hi Tom, Bill. How are we today?’

The now red faced ex-farmers dipped their caps, swiftly returning to their beer and Racing Post.

‘The usual Ginny?’

‘Yes Paul, a large on on the rocks please. I’ve been going hard at it all morning.’

Old Toms’ Racing post was now beer stained and soaking wet …….

Ginny soon had her usual besotted entourage of young men around her, goggle eyed, agog, as she relayed her mornings outdoor equestrian activities. She wouldn’t have to buy one more drink before closing time. 🙂

‘Rumour has it Old Jock won’t be winning First Prize Ram at the Agricultural show for the 21st year in a row……I heard he was rustled last night’

*chortling round the bar*

‘What’s funny?’

‘Nothing, Ginny, rumour has it, it was rustlers from Wales…..they’ll be long gone by now. It’s a shame for Old Jock, as he was looking forward to breaking the record but, hey, it’ll give someone else a chance, won’t it. That can’t be a bad thing eh?’

*more chortling*

‘No, i suppose not. I also hear rumours our new doctor is arriving today. Anyone hear who it is?’

‘I’m sworn to secrecy, but my cousins wife’s sisters man works at the Health Board. He says it’s a young man with a fancy sports car’

Ginny’s interest perked up.

‘Is he…………………………..single?’

‘I believe so. He’s coming here for a bit of peace and quiet’


Ginny’s eyes lit up. Maybe things would be less boring round here after all.


Luke Gabriel M.D. stared at the cows crossing the road in front of his Morgan. What had he done? He’d made the classic ‘I must get away from it all’ leap, after his year long relationship with Laura had disintegrated. She was pretty, a graduate from Cambridge with a first and her father was a judge. What was there not to like. Everything had been fine until she moved in. On the first day she’d replaced all his cooking utensils with her own. On day 2 his sock drawer had been colour coded alphabetically. On Day 3 she’d produced a shopping list, not only in alphabetical order, but by food type, colour, shape and country of origin. It wasn’t long before he’d get home to the flat only to find lists which indicated the evenings activities. What time they would start, what time they would finish and the order in which they would be carried out.

1700hrs Luke arrives home
1705hrs Luke wash hands
1710hrs Luke peels spuds
1750hrs Lolo arrives home
1830-1900hrs Dinner
1900-2000hrs Channel 4 news
2000-2100hrs Scrabble
2100hrs BBC4 documentary on Picasso
2200hrs Beddikins

The last straw was finding a list. A list of his friends in red ink on an innocuous looking piece of paper, in a handbag, In alphabetical order, or it might have been the order he’d noticed his friends disappearing by the week. The names had been stroked out one by one, roughly…………SPECIFICALLY…….in the order his friends had stopped coming round.

So, having at least passed his medical exams, spent 24/7 working in casualty departments, he’d taken his beloved and heavily debted, Morgan sports car, his cutlery, and his list of ex friends, and applied for a job as many miles away from psycho Laura as possible, only to find himself staring at cows on a country road in the middle of nowhere. LochTae would be the perfect quiet hideaway to develop his medical career, rekindle his ties with his long lost friends by inviting them for weekends to his new country cottage, and the opportunity to stay away from women for as long as possible……….



‘Callum! what are you doing? Scratching away there like a dog wi fleas!’

‘Feeling a bit itchy that’s all’

‘You’ve not been near that Roberta Snodgrass again have you? I told you to keep away from her.

‘NO…I’ve not been near ‘that Roberta Snodgrass”

‘Good, from what I’ve heard you’ll be the only one in the village!!!…..Maybe if you’d shower once in a while you wouldn’t be itchy!………….Right, I’m off down to the practice to meet my new boss’

‘New boss’

‘Yes… our new doctor is arriving at 2pm. The staff are going down to meet him for the first time. I’m actually quite a bit excited’

‘Yeah Mum……..excited………..right’


Miss Pearson of Fallows Cottage was just arriving at the Village Shop when the Reverend Van Der Gelt appeared through the shop door.

‘Morning Miss Pearson……what a beautiful day. May I say how lovely you look in that dress’

Miss Pearson knew her normally pale complexion would now be the same red colour as the shop sign above her head. Hiding her feelings for Reverend was one of life’s daily challenges and, each day she sat the exam she failed.

‘Thank you Reverend’

‘Listen, don’t keep calling me Reverend. It’s so formal. You can call me Cis.’

She stared into his Belgian brown pools of handsomeness, lost in a world where he whisked her off to a land of 12% volume beers and frites beyond imagination.

‘Are you alright Miss Pearson?

‘Oh sorry….. I was away in another world there’

‘I’m taking a walk down to the practice to meet our new doctor. Would you like to walk with me?’

‘Why not……Cis….that would be nice’

The Reverend, like a man from a chivalrous age long gone took Miss Pearsons arm and they strolled off together enveloped in the warmth of a glorious Sunday afternoon.


‘Here he comes! Here he comes!’

After finally escaping from the cow traffic jam, Luke turned into his new place of work, where a small crowd of people had gathered. Given there was only a Practice nurse, a cleaner and two receptionists, he’d worked out it might not only be staff who’d come along to meet him.

‘Hello, Dr Gabriel. Welcome to LochTae’

The Village Doctors
The Village Doctors

The Reverend Van Der Gelt strode forward and offered a strong handshake.

‘Thank You. I’m Luke. Lovely day isn’t it’

The Reverend turned round to find all five women behind him, staring. If there was one thing Luke underplayed or perhaps didn’t even realise, was how good looking he was. A chiselled jawline film stars would die for, bronze skin an Australian surfer would have been proud of, and a sweeping waft of dark silken hair. Add his 6ft 2 inches, his sparkling blue eyes, smart suit and the sports car, he had basically already managed to do what most men fail to do in a lifetime, and leave five women speechless.

Swoon :-)
Swoon 🙂

‘Oh my…….Oh my oh my oh my…… jackpot!! ‘ whispered Camilla Tarquin-Knowles.

Despite the Reverends presence even Miss Pearson had become light headed at the sight which met her. He was Darcy, Hugh Grant, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and George Clooney all wrapped up in one medical phenomenon.

‘Hi, I’m Luke…pleased to meet you’

‘Hello, I’m…….eh……………’

‘This is Anne’ interjected the Reverend. ‘She’s not good with names, even her own sometimes……she’s your cleaning staff…..this is Miss Pearson from Fallow Cottage….. Lucy and Marjorie from reception and last…but not least…. Camilla Tarquin-Knowles, head of the Village Council……… I’m sure they will all regain their voices at some point in the near future’

Just then, Callum, Anne’s son came screaming round the corner.

‘What’s wrong Callum……….you’re bright pink!!!!…….what on earth?’ shouted his Mum.

‘My arms, my hands….. they’re itching, itching…..can’t stop……CAN’T STOP!!!!’

Reverend Van der Gelt turned to Luke……..

‘I think you have your first patient Doctor Gabriel…..’

Episode One of ‘The Village Gossip’ was written by David Linden. You can find me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015