The Ambitious Drifter

Words, Images and The Occasional Noise

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Dressing For All Hallows’ Eve

Some more flash fiction for the Daily Prompt.

A Walk On All Hallows’ Eve.

In the small town by the sea All Hallows’ Eve was a serious time. If you went out at all it was warmly dressed from head to toe. The old folk didn’t go at all, they’d seen it all before. There were some things best not seen, unless you wanted woe. The children were kept in that night, which just bred curious minds. Forbidden was too strong a word, discouraged seemed to be more apt. Then again there was a vague sense that this was a night to experience, when you were ready to see it. The folks you’d see out at that time were the curious, in all senses of the term. The mad, the strange and people who like to stare.

The year I was there they told me all this, as if it was something I’d need to know. I was an outsider after all, so I was bound to be that way inclined. A foreigner, a stranger, the word meant both things. I was not from so distant a place that I didn’t understand. Halloween was a custom in my town too. We had our own stories, but these were mostly history now. We had not seen witches for centuries. We remembered our dead at Armistice or Christmas.

The pubs were full of stories here and every bar had its own historian. History, stories, it’s the same thing really. History is just the tales you can believe. In this town the night was called  Samhain, a word from before the saints. The island was full of saints, their churches were everywhere. Still, they hadn’t banished this ancient name, maybe they’d given it power. I could never find out if the nineteenth century mystics had exhumed it, or if it had sat quietly there for centuries like the ancient stone rings, just waiting to be explained. I think that the night has always been known, but the old name may have been lost for a time.

They said it was the night when the Other World comes closest to our own. The barrier between them becomes opaque. The Dead, they said, leave this way, passing finally into the realm of the spirits. It does not mean that the living can stop grieving for them, but it’s the day the Dead stop grieving for themselves. What passes back that night is not explained, the living do not need to know. All we can understand is that the saints are out in force the next day. That is the day to visit our dead, but not the night before.

It was a strange still night when I went out with the young men from the pub. I knew it would be a cold night before I stepped out the door. I could sees a high clear moon through the smoky window. Outside I could see stars, more than I’d seen before from there. Even in the summer there’s nearly always a mist comes up from the sea at night.

It was supposed to be a walk home, back to my boarding house. It was a night for a stroll though, a fine night after a few pints. ‘We’ll go up here’ one of the young lads said ‘you’ll get a better view.’ Someone laughed. One said ‘No fear!’ but he came along with us anyway. It was up the side of the pub, heading to the crest of the hill.

I knew the place on the map, ‘Roidin an Phuca’ they call it. It’s almost certainly haunted, if you listen to any of the tales. The Pooka is there, but he is an old presence, much older than all of the saints. He was there before the men arrived, this night means nothing to him. His road is always open.  There was a fort up there once, but it’s just a name now. Only drunks and young men need to go that way at night. But up we went to see the view, to watch the moon light up the stones. Here and there, across the crags, there were odd reflections, rocks made shiny by wind and rain.

We turned to look back. Below us the town was just a glow, the presence of light without a light being seen. Out at sea there was the moon. It was a flat sea, rare enough round here. A line of light lay across the water, coming exactly our way. ‘There’s the path’ someone said. That was clear enough, I could see the road that the Dead went down, across the sea and off the edge of the world.

There was a wind coming up and it was getting sharper. Best be off home now, we all agreed. Down we stumbled past the pub, it was still lit up but quiet. There was no singing that night, no shouting either. All of us remembering in our own quiet thoughts, the ones we’d known who’d gone down that road before us.


Ancient field walls, Aran Islands, Ireland.

More fiction….

Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science. 

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


The Butterfly Keeper

The weekly writing challenge. 

In the Butterfly Effect, initial conditions that exist all play a part in happenings that progress around us. To describe its namesake example, the flap of a butterfly’s wings, one scientist proposed, could affect the course of a hurricane……             Scrawled as I warmed my pizza………………….

The Butterfly Keeper.

They say that every storm has its butterfly, something has to kick if off. Does everything that sweeps the air smash down a forest somewhere? There’s someone I can ask, not far from here. There are storms that never came, I’ve seen them in his room. He looks a lot younger than me, quite annoying really. Then again lots of people are like that these days. I don’t know where my days went.  He’s called a collector, but you must add keeper and killer to that. I’m not sure I really approve. He does it well though, impossible wings pinned in a glass case. It doesn’t look right to me. They’re not meant to be seen like this surely, nailed up that way.
‘What would happen if I opened the lid, pulled out the pin?’ I asked, pointing to a pair of airy illusions. His mood got darker, there was a storm within his eyes. Then he was fine. I must be careful with him, changeable weather this. His voice is flat, like he’s reciting something he’s known for a very long time.
Not that one, a tree in Walden Wood will crash, falling across the pond. It’s January frozen hard, it will stay that way till March. A man will come with a rope to take it before the thaw. Alas it will take him. He swims well enough, but the chill will only leave two day’s breath left in his lungs. He’ll be found on a Friday, his journal not complete.’
I was surprised. ‘Even now? If it ever gets free?’ I see he takes it seriously. ‘Most certainly, all my work would be undone That there next to it is the Great Fire of York, a lantern falls. Not the first fire, not the last, but it will kill a King. He must go on to Bosworth Field.’
Through his window I can see his garden, in the English style, rows of blooms and herbs. ‘The others,’ I said ‘do they get away? You cannot trap them all!’
No, that is the way of it. Some trees must fall to allow life to others.’ He intones this like a priest.
Who decides? I wonder to myself. But which of these creatures can bring death upon a harrowing wind? If I got a net myself, could I save a city or a hero? Maybe I’d pardon a tyrant to stay on his bloody path.
‘Not for us to judge’ he says, reading my thoughts, ‘I take what I can. Whatever is left must do its work.’

I leave him making labels, history that will not be. I hear the bees in the garden, watch the cabbage whites on their peaceful flights. Which of them, I wonder, is a whirlwind maker?


Botantical Gardens, Amsterdam.

More fiction….

Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science. 

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


The Man Who Listens To The Sea

It’s a Sunday, so time for a bit more fiction. Written yesterday. Naseby’s diaries are full of the stuff.

On Inishmore beyond the Back Fort I followed the coast, walking as close to the cliff edge as I dared. Today the sky seemed more fierce than the sea, it was an unrelenting blue. That water was an unexpected mirror, only moving gently as you looked closer at it. I passed a couple making love, lost in themselves on a ledge down below me. I’d seen these kids in Kilronan. Only the young could be so obliviously comfortable in that precarious space, Diarmuid and Gráinne on their flinty bed. They did not not see me and I did not stare.

Presently I heard a repetitive thud, it seemed to come through my feet. It was a muffled single drum or a far off cannon. I felt, but did not see, the cave of the blown spray. Poll an tSeideain, I found its name later and copied it down in my notebook. I knew it was there but dare not go closer. It is a great square hole chopped right through the cliff to the sea. Even on this quiet day, the water kept kicking away, a bored boy booting at the wall.

I met a man who sat at the edge of the cliff. He was not so close as to ever slip, but there was still a grand view. I sat with him for a while. He was not a man you’d notice much, old but not ancient, dressed plainly like many around here. You might have passed him in the street, not thinking to stop and talk. Out here though, almost alone, it seemed the thing to do. We both had our pipes so it seemed companionable to smoke. He told me he was listening to the ocean. It was,  more or less.  his life’s work.

He told me he could hear the long music of the waves, the slow measure as it crossed the sea. It was a myth, that seventh wave, the pattern was more complex. It was woven like a shawl and then draped around the rocks. ‘How long have you been here?’ I asked him. ‘Very long’ he said, ‘I saw them build the tower there, heard them heaving the stones for that great circle of walls.’

He said he had to ignore the voices of the birds, shallow and grasping things that rarely stopped to sing. I thought of the inland blackbirds, who seemed to broadcast joy. He told me he was hearing a storm off Newfoundland, the angle of waves hitting the coast told him where it was from.

There are great storms beneath the sea, behind this clean mirror a storm might rage. You’d never see it. Your boat could be taken with barely a ripple. He said he heard the old ships scrape as they were shoved and dragged by the deep tides. He could hear them slide inexorably down the slopes of the mountain that no man would ever climb. He’d heard the bell, St Gregory’s bell.

We parted with a wave and I set off overland, back across the fields to Cill Einne. I promised him a pint if our paths should cross in town. That night in the bar, I knew better than to ask if anyone knew of him, or indeed what his name was. I had not caught that. It was neither asked nor proffered. The tower that he pointed to is just a name in a field.

Later, as I came down the hill to my B&B I could see the sea, still peaceful in the evening light. Every now and then it shrugged, like a man might in a dream. I felt I knew a little more about it now, at least I could hear it breathe.


Near the cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland. 

More fiction….

Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science. 

Mostly Frank

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A Journal Found

From the journal of Hepzibah Jamieson, electrician and scientist. Compiled and edited by Mr Latimer Naseby 

Tuesday 29th April 1851.

I spoke to a journalist today, it was the first time I’ve ever been interviewed for a public newspaper. I will confess, I began the meeting in somewhat of an ill-natured mood. I had taken against the woman as soon I had received her letter. It was only with IKB’s encouragement that I decided to meet her at all. I had formed the notion that she would want some item about fashion, or some other ‘ladies’ matter. I dreaded being asked the question ‘What is a fit and becoming hat for one to wear to view the Exhibition?’. My fears were soon allayed.
I make a note to myself, examine predjudices at all times, make no hasty decisions. Mrs Singh turned out to be an intelligent woman and I enjoyed our conversation. I am flattered to be included in her ‘Women of The Exhibition’ series. The talk was of neither gowns nor hats, nor even the gentler sciences such as medicine or horticulture. I was able to speak freely as an engineer and an electrician. But engineers are not all automata or speaking clocks. For her readers do enjoy what she called ‘the human interest angle’. Her question ‘What do you look forward to seeing most when the Exhibition opens?’ allowed me to show my own sense of excitement.
Of course, I’m looking forward to it all, who isn’t? I walked the halls as the exhibits were being mounted and saw the most fascinating things. I have no idea in some cases what they are. To be honest, I’m looking forward to seeing everything ‘new’, the future as it is being built. This did seem a bit of a wooly story for an engineer to be telling, so I mentioned a few specifics. I’d read of Dr Merryweather and his Tempest Prognosticator, I do not think it such an absurd idea. He purports to be able to foresee the advent of storms by observing the behaviour of leeches. My Dear Father used to tell me that his bees appeared to realise when it was about to rain. As to my own experiments, well it is time to leave off writing today. I am reminded that I should see to my hives at once!

Wednesday 30th April 1851.

A busy day, very tired in the evening. If we have sunny days, the panel will generate enough current to easily power the telegraph. IKB stopped by and was, as usual, very encouraging. What a fountain of ideas is that man! He suggested we could put a panel atop of every pole that carried the telegraph cable along the railway line. On a bright day we would have no need to connect the Leyden jars. He thought we should be looking closely at the storage of energy, because on a good day, we’d have power to spare. I resolved to put further effort into refining my capacitance device.

The great hall was the scene of much frantic energy, the air full of hammering, shouting and metallic screeches from new built machinery. The place smelled strongly of wet paint and hot mineral oil. I know that some people will be at work all night. I tried to find some peace and quiet in the plant displays, but the place was full of men hoisting palm trees into place. I wonder if anything will be ready at all!  I came back to my lodgings with a headache, the smell of turpentine still in my nostrils.


 Detail, Rogerson’s Patent Atmospheric Solenoid Switch. 

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

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Mr Wheatstone’s Notebook

Mr Latimer Naseby has been editing some of the writings of Charles Wheatstone, never before published.

Nancarrow Hall, December 1862.

It being winter now, there is little sunlight to catch in my mirrors. There is not much point continuing those particular experiments until we obtain decent light. Most of my senior colleagues have returned to Oxford and their warmth, wives and loved ones. Indeed, the speed at which they left was nothing short of astounding. I am told that a well tuned steam carriage can make up to thirty miles in an hour. Who could have imagined such a thing? It is if a railway had laid its tracks right to your front door. Some of my younger assistants even dared conduct the thing themselves! I suppose we must all hail the new charioteers, although I fear my shares in the railway company might soon be in decline!

Such are the idle concerns of a man becalmed. I suppose I could have busied myself designing improvements for these rushing conveyances. I can see there is much to be done with the suspension and most importantly, the lighting arrangements. I know one who likes to drive at night, I fear it will be the coming thing. For my local villages though, the approaching sound appears to be the coming of Satan and his hordes!

 Instead of adding my knowledge to this steam mania, I amused myself by reading and playing a few airs, mostly of my own composition, on my Anglo-concertina. I have been asked. ‘If it be English, then why must it be Concertina?’. I answer plainly ‘Because I made it thus. The Italianate title is a little more platable than calling it The Squeezing Box!’.

The naming of inanimate objects, even animated machinery, is a human foible. My young associate has bought himself a steam-carriage that goes by the name of ‘The Skylark’. ‘How does it sing?’ I asked, but he was puzzled by my question. Neither, praise the Lord, does it fly as yet. It is only a matter of time, I fear, before these machines take to the sky.

I have decided to write up some description of my recent experiments and detail some of my plans for the coming summer. There are plenty of scientific notes on the subject, graphs, calculations, diagrams and schematics. However, to the layman, these are simply lines drawn on ruled paper. I have determined to write down in plain terms what I have discovered and what I expect to find. This is as much for the sake of my own clarity as anybody else’s.  I have recently learnt much which is most sensational.  In this chilly weather I will write a cooler appraisal of my astounding research.

Nancarrow Hall

Robert Howlett’s famous photo ‘The Electrical Room – Nancarrow Hall’  The only remaining record of Wheatstone’s laboratory.

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


The Wreck of The Plassy.

 Weekly Writing Challenge Draft a short story or flash fiction piece from the point of view of a unreliable narrator. What is the source of their unreliability?

 I believe my friend  Mr Latimer Naseby to be a truthful narrator. As an engineer and government official he is not much given to exaggeration. That he was aboard MV Plassy the night she struck is easily verified. The story he tells is a plain one, but much more colourful versions can be had in the back snug in Doolin.  I’m not sure about the white cat of Craig na gCat on Inishmor , but I’ve seen it myself and have not yet drowned.

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

No castaways can have arrived more comfortably than those aboard our ship. I had good whiskey and hot coffee for breakfast that day. The dawn had not been far off. The sight that greeted us has often been painted now. Tourists come to gasp and gawp. Since I am no sailor, I will claim at least to have been the first tourist. To this very day ‘Plassy’ sits high and dry on the rocky foreshore, a good fifty yards from the sea.

So I have my seafarer’s story. You might expect me to tell you that we came ashore a week later, maybe some months after the storm. No, we did not lose or gain any time that night. Nor was my memory snatched from me. Unlike Mr Seaborn, I was not born anew from the storm. As he had predicted though, I did not drown. The white cat that haunts Craig na gCat ensured my safety. I’m not in any way superstitious, but for this I’ll make an exception.

Thus, I was in a famous shipwreck, the ship is still there for all to see. I have heard some of the crew tell their tale. It is different from mine, but then again that was in the Maritime Court in Galway. My truth is not their truth, but I was but a passenger. Captain Hennessy was not the first, nor probably, the last to lose his ship on Finnis Rock. He may have been the first to have saved all of his passengers. He was exonerated, of course. The storm had not been expected, but he had prepared for it as well as he could. His command to remain aboard after we first struck doubtless saved our lives.

Since that day, I’ve told the story many times myself. It is mine to tell, after all. I’ve also heard it told on a good few occasions. In the hands of a skilled storyteller, the waves grow bigger, the skies glow more luridly and I’m almost surprised that mermaids are not sighted beforehand. Certainly, the monstrous beast that severed our anchor chain must have been of a magical nature, for I did not see it at all.  I have sat in the back snug in Doolin and thoroughly enjoyed a story, not realising till the end that it was my own ship that had foundered. I’ve heard several dry land mariners tell of their great deeds of heroism or their genius at navigation. I had never clapped eyes on them previously, certainly not aboard ‘our’ ship. I have since met the officers and men at several celebrations. The story telling is not that compelling, but the dining and drinking can be said to be heroic.

It is an odd feeling to have been at an event and then hearing someone else describe it. But we are all unreliable narrators sometimes.

Three views of the MV Plassy, Inisheer, Ireland. Yep, it’s the one on ‘Father Ted’.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


A Stranger In The Village

Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor? 

This theme fits well with this week’s extract. We find  Mr Latimer Naseby in Doolin, where he is to work on the new Relaying Station.

Like any person born beyond the parishes of Lisdoonvarna or Ballyvaughan, I was, in that place, a foreigner. It was a custom of the town, possibly an entertainment, for all such people to be introduced to Mr Seaborn. This was not a difficult thing to effect, as he held court almost nightly at Doolin’s finest public house. You might imagine that he was a great drinker, but this was not so. He could however, always procure himself a pint due to the beauty of his voice.

He had met travellers from all over the world, some in fact had sought him out on account of his mysterious early life. There was much curiosity about this stranger from the sea.  They had addressed him in many languages. so many, in fact, that he could now greet an Austrian hiker with ‘Gruss Gott!’ and make the correct bow to a Japanese engineer. He had not, at the outset, recognised any foreign languages, but he did show an amazing faculty for learning then. It was if the clean sheet of his mind was always ready to receive new text.

I can report that Benny Seaborn was a fit man of middle age who spoke with the accent of the locality. Like many in the village he was a witty man and loved a story, either to tell or to hear. After all, if one wishes to hear stories, they must have tales of their own in return. He was also a fine singer. As far as I could tell, he had no tattoos or other such marks that are common to sailors. His natural bearing led me to believe that maybe he had been of the officer class.

He told me that there still those among the older folk who thought he had come from the devil. He had only been Saved, they said, by the good Father O’Brien. ‘Why would they think this?’ I asked, he seemed a mild and courtly man and not much given to evil. The clouds, apparently, had bled that night. He was only spotted on the beach due to the uncommon lightness of the night sky. Had it been a dark night in that cold November, he would have certainly perished.


This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


A Rum Tale.

From the pen of Mr Latimer Naseby. 

I heard many odd stories in the cosy bar at Doolin when I was a young engineer. Some were tall tales, some were lies, but a couple haunted me and I recall them still. I leave it to you to decide if they be true or false.

I’ll start with a ‘rum tale’ that I am assured is true. It doesn’t haunt me in the least, but I find it amusing. The original Tube that ran from England to the Continent did not, as you’d expect, start out from Dover. It was instead run from Kingsdown near Deal across to a spot close to Dunkirk. Thus was it to be kept free from shipping, dragged anchors and the like. Large engine houses were built at either end to maintain the necessary pressure, or lack thereof, as it is of course, mostly vacuum. The laying of the Tube itself had not been difficult. A superseded battleship, the ‘Great Charles’ had been modified for cable laying. There have been many tales of the daring of the deep sea divers who were repeatedly needed to maintain the seal. Before Blessed’s vulcanisation process many types of pitch and tar were tried.

Much more daring were those who worked inside the Tube. There were many heroes, but few will tell of their exploits. They were invariably small people, recruited from the ranks of coal and iron miners and some hardy souls who enjoy the sport of caving. Travelling inside the Tube requires one to have no fear of confined spaces, nor a terror of the dark. Although the original Tube was somewhat larger than the current one, it was not possible to do so much as crawl along it. The repair men and women lay on small trolleys and propelled themselves along with their feet.

A strong line was attached to the trolley, much in the way that a diver is tethered to their ship. In cases of danger, the build up of dangerous gases, or the risk of a serious implosion, the trolley could be drawn back out of the tunnel. There was a fine steel cable that ran in a recessed niche at one side of the pipe. It contained along its length a series of tags. In normal usage a container would flick these as it passed along. A series of bells and an apparatus not unlike a ship’s telegraph could thus indicate the progress of the delivery. By the movement of these tags, the intrepid travellers could communicate with their fellows on shore. I should also add that the containers terminated at each end with a metal ring. The inspectors could attached a cable to this ring and a jammed or stopped package could be thus retrieved. This much can be read in Palgrave’s ‘Treasury’ of course, but I am still stirred by the tale.

One night, after a successful day of transferring containers, the engineers were preparing to open the air valves to relieve the vacuum inside. Both engines were to be stopped for cleaning. This would occur after ‘The Bottlebrush’ as they called it, had been propelled along the way. It was an ingenious contraption designed to remove any build up of dirt and grease within the pipe. As the engines were stopping there came a furious clacking from the Tube’s telegraph, as if someone was moving inside it. Given the pressure of the air at one side and the vacuum of the other, no living creature should have been able to survive for a moment. The telegraph however, indicated that something was moving along the tube at a steady pace.

When the vacuum was fully discharged the pressure seals were removed and the loading apparatus was opened. Before a trolley could be made ready, it became obvious to the engineers that something was making its way toward them. At times the indicator bell would ring twice or more, as if the object had struck it repeatedly. It was decided to wait and see what would emerge. After some fifteen minutes a dark shape appeared, illuminated only by the engineers’ lamps. As it got closer to the dispatch station it would stop, lean and nudge the telegraph tags, sometimes repeatedly. Then, to the astonishment of the watchers, a large cat sauntered out of the tunnel. It paused to rub its head on the pressure seal door, as it had been doing with the telegraph tags along the way.

The animal appeared to be in good health and also in good spirits. There were many theories as to how it had got there, but all were discounted. The cat was a large male tabby (white underside) with a small collar and a red tag attached thereby. There was nothing to be seen either on the tag or the collar. Apart from being hungry, he seemed no worse for wear. Unless our French colleagues had placed him there for a joke, there was no rational explanation to be found as to how he had come to be there.  The French certainly played no part. Their engine house was some forty miles away. The transport containers were always sealed so as to ensure that the contents were not damaged by the vacuum. Certainly no living creature could have survived when the Tube was operating.

 The animal responded equally to English or French, but like most cats, often feigned deafness. He quickly became a favourite at the engine house,always  finding the warmest spots to sleep. In later life, I’m told, he transferred to the lighthouse in Kinsale on the Irish coast. The chief of engineering had retired there and the animal followed him into retirement.

I’m inclined to think that the whole tale was an elaborate way of ensuring official status (and rations) for the engine house cat. Then again, having known a number of the creatures personally, nothing that they do would surprise me in the least.


Old Engine House, Brunel’s Atmospheric Transfer System, Kingsdown, England.

Monument to  ‘Mr Russell’ the engine house cat.

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.

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Lord Appleyard’s Recollections.

From the pen of Mr Latimer Naseby. 

I report here a topic that I’ve called “Lord Appleyard’s Recollections”. I was pleased to make his acquaintance when he lodged with us at Government House for some weeks. Although by then an elderly man, an elder statesman to be sure, his mind was as sharp as my own. His title was a recent one, recognition of his service to King and Country. It was well deserved. Many of my colleagues in the engineering sphere will be more familiar with his previous name. I believe that  RKJ Wilson will be remembered for centuries to come.

The great web of copper filaments that were beginning to link countries and even continent,s was the wonder of the age. Indeed, the threads were beginning to spread from house to house, from factory to wharehouse to counting house. There was a new race upon the earth, a race that spoke a new, more efficient language. The Telegraphers were the new Prometheans. They did not need to meet to converse with each other. Their language was like the tapping of a new spirit presence at a séance. By dots and dashes the Word could be spread.

It was an item of fashion almost… ‘Can you read code?’. Mere mortals relied on these shamans to interprete the clicks and scratches for them. Even then, common speech was changing. Politicians, journalist and industrialists learned to speak telegrammatically. Poetry, they said, would soon be dead.

That code is almost gone now, soon there will be no one alive who can interpret the clicks and chirrups. There is no need now. We can be reading a story in as quick a time as it can be entered into a keyboard . The English language though, will forever show the influence of the electrical telegraph. You might say it lives on in the pithy and inconsequential comments made on Sema4.

I would like to believe that this world thinks more clearly now, or at least in a more concise manner. Poetry, as we know, did not die. There are more readers now than there have ever been before. I wonder how many of the popular ‘barkers’ shouting out their poems realise that their shortened sentences were born from an electrical charge?

wpid-img_20140920_031057.jpgGovernment House, British Nebraska.

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.


The Storm Foreshadowed

Write a new poem, story, post, or piece of flash fiction that contains an element of foreshadow.  A weekly writing exercise.

From the pen of Mr Latimer Naseby. 

The Event of 1859

Not a few of my older readers will remember fondly the workings of the electrical telegraph. If records had been kept, I wonder at the number of historic announcements that passed along its wires. I also think of the many human tales, engagements, estrangements and family affairs that it must have carried. I believe that some engineers had almost succeed in connecting the apparatus directly to a steam printer. The world could have had instant newspapers, all of us informed of the same news within minutes.

It was universally felt that the telegraph lines stretched far beyond our own time. We would travel along this electrical conduit to a glowing future.

As we know, this was not to be. The happening known as ‘The Carrington Event’ gave us the first straws from a great wind that was to follow. I know, from sources I cannot reveal, that there were many more problems experienced than were expressed in the newspapers of the time. Lives were lost, but the matter was almost completely covered over. In fact, in certain quarters, the magnetic effluxions that were felt were even welcomed.

A number of scientists believed that they may have discovered an inexhaustible source of energy.  Indeed, who would have not assumed that such a bounty lay within our grasp?  The electrical telegraph was able to function, although the current had been disconnected at both ends. It was recognised that the glowing skies were not the sole cause of this phenomenon. They were, however, believed to be another symptom of this great gift from the stars. It was, as we know now, the first properly recorded geomagnetic storm.

The Great Shift of 1863 was another matter entirely.


The glowing pathway. Paris.

NB. The Carrington Event was real.

This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.

Mostly Frank

 Copyright notice.