Tales From The Ridge

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Under A Tuscan Sky

We sweep by, tyres grumbling. Beside us in the fields, regiments of sunflowers wear wilted crowns. Their heads bowed towards the brown blood earth, they mourn the passing of summer. We leave dust hanging in the air behind us; a hot wind sighs up from the south and carries it away.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Nessun legge

Ecks is off on holiday to Italy for a week. Blog updates on his return, amici mio!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

0870 968 3665

"You are in the process of fulfilling a vision, don't let fools clip your wings. Your daughter is pregnant, but she will have a miscarriage that will destroy her marriage. A strong sunset Venus and a bright midnight Jupiter imply the ability to snatch a very real victory from the jaws of apparent defeat - snatch it! The cancer in your liver has metastasised, and you have less than eight months to live. Pay heed to friends - don't always force yourself to learn some difficult lesson or shoulder a burden, just shrug your shoulders and let it slip away. Joshua will fail his chemistry exam, so there'll be no university for him. A forward-thinking person like you will grasp success on a day like today! Thank you for calling the Psychic Hotline."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dumb all over

Close the door. OK, good. Nathan, you're up for sentry duty today. Keep your eye on that corridor. OK, let's begin. Just stop me any time you want to ask a question.

Today we will be discussing gravity, and examining the flaws in Mr Perkins' astrology classes. And yes, children, there are flaws. I assume you have all heard of Sir Isaac Newton? No? How very sad. When I was younger everyone had heard of him. He was--

Yes, Jay? Well, that was a long time ago, before all the changes, and we are not here to reminisce. But I am an old man and I admit that nostalgia is my morphia, so I suppose we can perhaps talk a little on history as well...

It was different then, very different. Back then we had our own classes in schools and universities. Hell, there were universities. We had some respect. Men and women worked hard to mine the vast bleak face of our ignorance, chipping away at it, adding piece by painstaking piece to our collective understanding of the world. Those men and women will all be dead by now. And their work - decades, centuries of work - all gone. You wouldn't know it, of course; all the books have been destroyed, all the records altered, and anyone who spoke up just quietly disappeared. I mean, I'm taking a risk just telling you this. So don't you breathe a word of this to anyone. You keep attending your theology classes and your faith healing seminars and your Intelligent Design workshops, but on the inside you keep on questioning. Question everything. Then here, and only here, can you say it. And only then in a whisper.

Go ahead. Whisper it with me now:


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Letters received whilst away on holiday

18 July

Mr Kernow

We have your daughter. Enclosed with this letter is a photograph of her with my associate, Mr Aries, as proof of life. You will see that he is holding today's Times. If you wish to see her alive again, you will deposit a briefcase containing £8,000,000 in unmarked, non-consecutive notes on the bench facing the pond in Logan Park at 12:00 on the 21st of July. Any police involvement will, of course, make Mr Capricorn very unhappy. He is the one in the photo holding the knife.

Mr Leo

22 July

Mr Kernow

Mr Pisces informs me that no briefcase was left on the bench yesterday. This is most unexpected, but we will give you the benefit of the doubt this once and assume that there was simply some misunderstanding, and will for now leave all of your daughter's appendages attached to her body. As a result of the inconvenience incurred, however, the transaction fee ("ransom" is such an uncouth word, don't you think?) has inflated to £9,000,000. Please leave this money in a sports holdall in the skip behind Bradshaw Shoe Repairs at 17:30 on the 25th of July. The same terms and conditions as before still apply, of course.

Mr Leo

26 July

Mr Kernow

Mr Pisces is getting tired of making wasted journeys, Mr Kernow, and Mr Capricorn so hates to see Mr Pisces unhappy that he lopped off one of your daughter's fingers before Mr Aries and I could stop him. I have enclosed it in this letter. See what a neat job Mr Capricorn's knife did? He is a very keen amateur butcher, and he just loves to practise. In fact, the only technique he has yet to master is the severance of a head from a body, and you should assume that he will take whatever opportunities he can get to perfect that one. I will be sure to send you the results of his handiwork should the chance arise.

The fee is now £10,000,000. Leave it in a packing crate under the south strut of the Wilkinson-MacNay bridge at 20:00 on the 29th of July. I should advise you, however, that non-payment will result in the termination of our business arrangement and the subsequent liquidation of all assets that we hold.

Mr Leo

30 July

Mr Kernow

Mr Capricorn has grown tired of waiting for you to furnish us with our fee, so today he finally got around to perfecting that technique I was telling you about. I am sure you will be impressed - I will post the result of it to you so that you can examine his handiwork.

I am, of course, disappointed that we could not come to some arrangement regarding finances, but I hope that we may part on cordial terms.

Best wishes

Mr Leo

1 August

Dear Mr Kernow

We called at 08:33 on the 1st of August, but you weren't at home. There is a parcel being held for you at the Todcaster Sorting Office. If you do not claim it within 14 days it will be disposed of.


The Post Office

Monday, August 01, 2005


The crow and the raven fly over the cemetery, their fluttering paths weaving above the antique graves of men long dead. They alight on the shoulders of an angel weeping stone tears and watch the funeral. Stiff black ranks of mourners bow over the coffin. A priest drones the usual words. Raindrops tap politely on the varnished pine lid. A sodden flag hangs at half mast, lifeless. Wet mud trickles onto the gravel path.

The crow and the raven fly away. Yesterday there had been a wedding; today there are no unattended plates of food. There is no reason to stay.