Category Archives: Contemporary


“They still don’t get it,” I whined.

“They have your best interests at heart,” he replied.

“I know, but for fuck’s sake I don’t need fixing. There is no quick fix.”

“Language!” he admonished. “But they don’t like to see you like this.” 

“I know. It’s no party for me either. Most of the time I don’t know what I want, yet others seem to think they have the magic words to make me better.  There is no ‘making better’. They always have to add their two penneth. Can’t they see that it has the opposite effect? They think I should keep busy, doing, always doing. Don’t they know my mind will always go back to the same place? If I want to do something I will, but if not no amount of nagging will change that. The more I’m pushed the more I’ll shut down.  I’ll simply not share how I feel.  And when they say ‘we’re thinking of you’, ‘I’m always thinking about you’ why don’t they tell me what they’re thinking? I think about food a lot but it doesn’t make a meal.”

“They’re doing what they think might help you, or make you more approachable. You’ve never been easy to handle, and now you have an extra edge. I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault,” I tell him. “Frustrating. I just … ”

“I know. I wish I could just hold you.” 

“Me too.” ……. “Waking up some days is more than I want to do, but I slide out of bed and go throgh the motions. I hitch up a smile.”

“You’re doing really well.” 


“Of course.”

“Hahaha…. Inside…”

“I know.” 

“Why can’t others see it and allow it?”

“It’s not what we’ve come to be used to.  Positive vibes and all that.” 

“If …” …  “I just …”

“I know, but the kids need you, now more than ever. “

“My turn to say ‘I know’. And I’ll be here for them …. but…”

“I know…” 

08-08 broken heart


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On their way

Last weekend was the launch weekend for #BerwickStreettoBarcelona, with a special launch lunch in one of Tony and my favourite restaurants on the seafront here in Vilanova. Along with some dear friends we celebrated the publication of my latest scribblings, and my most personal one so far, and probably ever.  I, and some of my best chums, read passages from the book eliciting laughter, surprised faces and tears. I really think Tony would have approved, especially as everyone was so well-behaved and no one ordered ketchup with their paella (read the book for related story!!).

front cover

Our Story.



The best friends I could ask for. 


Carla reads ‘Bollards’. 

Thanks to Nick Brennan Photography for the photos.

Happily I sold many copies on the day, and have had more orders since. Copies of the book are currently winging their way to England, Spain, Canada and Australia.  All profits from the books are going to the fund I set up in Tony’s memory, the money from which goes to World Cancer Research.  TONY’S FUND.  (I guess I’ll never be rich). With the proceeds from the books and other regular donations I hope to tip the amount over €4,000 before the end of the year. So if you want to help with that feel free to donate (any currency accepted). And if you’d like a copy of ‘our story’ message me and I’ll arrange for a copy to be sent your way.

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Paul had always considered himself a brave person and up for any challenge.  His bravado amongst friends was what had got him to where he was on this wet Saturday in October.

At the pub just over a month ago Alison had brought up the subject of haunted houses. Paul had poo-pooed the idea of ghosts and had ridiculed what he called the gullibility of his friends. Danny, an ardent believer in anything and everything supernatural, had suggested that if Paul was so sure of his convictions he should spend the night in a haunted house he had recently read about on-line. One by one all the friends agreed that if Paul was so brave he should do just that.

Paul braved out the suggestions. He told his friends that he thought ghosts were nothing more than the result of vivid imaginations, and nothing supernatural at all. He laughed at their opinions telling them that everything they called supernatural could be explained by science.

Julia, egged on by the others,  had dragged out her mobile and found the Internet site for the house of which Danny had spoken. Someone suggested that she make Paul a reservation there for Halloween, and within minutes everyone had agreed to contribute to the night’s room cost. Paul shrugged and said that of course he would stay there all night. Julia made the booking.

Since that evening in the pub each of Paul’s friends had teased him about the upcoming night of fear in the haunted house’s most haunted bedroom.  Up to that afternoon and moreover at check in Paul hadn’t worried at all.

Now, in the room as he sat on the bed looking around as dusk descended he felt just a little apprehensive, but not enough to make him jumpy. The journey to the hotel had felt befallen with bad luck. First of all he lost his train ticket, which his friends had also bought for him, and had to buy another at a grossly inflated price. Once he’d bought the ticket the clerk advised him that the train he wanted to travel on had been cancelled.

When Paul eventually arrived at the station closest to the hotel the courtesy transfer car was nowhere to be seen. He had tried calling the hotel but each time the call dropped out before anyone answered at the other end. Finally he had taken the only taxi available and had to suffer the driver’s tales of horror all the way.  It was almost as if something was trying to stop him completing his challenge he thought then laughed at the idea.

When Paul checked in he was asked for his credit card number as a security deposit.  Scrabbling through his bag and wallet he couldn’t find his credit card, which was strange as he always put it back in his wallet after use.   Fortunately the receptionist believed him and accepted a lower  amount in cash.  With the receptionist’s help Paul immediately cancelled his card.

Finally the receptionist asked Paul to sign a disclaimer which released the owners of the hotel from any possible trauma Paul might experience during his stay. Clause number 13 included the possibility of accidental death.  He was relieved of his mobile phone and informed that should he stay the whole night in the room a full refund of the booking and the security deposit would be made withing 48 hours. He laughed at the idea of being scared out of the room, although he wasn’t very happy at having to give up his phone for the night.

Paul got up off the bed and pulled back the curtains to take a peek out at the wet night. It was raining but there was no wind. Apart from the torrential rain the night appeared relatively calm.  He left the curtains open and took in the almost rain-obliterated view for a few moments before making a small tour of the suite he was spending the night in.  Nothing about the room suggested supernatural to him. It was decorated in an old fashioned, turn of the last century, style with various odd pieces but he didn’t think it merited the reputation it had obtained.

For the challenge to be completed in full Paul had to stay in the room from the time he checked in, through the night, to breakfast the following morning. This meant eating alone from the room service menu. Paul was happy in his own company but once he had ordered and eaten the dinner he wasn’t sure how he could fill up the rest of his time in the room. There was no television, he didn’t have his phone and hadn’t thought to bring a book. At nine o’clock he decided to turn in.

Up to that point nothing spooky or supernatural had happened and Paul was sure he would get a good night’s sleep and leave in the morning feeling refreshed from the change.

Throwing his clothes onto the chair beside the bed he grabbed his toothbrush and toothpaste and wandered into the bathroom. He had decided he wouldn’t bother unpacking and that meant his toiletries stayed in his overnight bag too.

He switched on the bathroom light with the pull chord and half expected something to jump out at him or for someone to be looking back at him from the mirror.

He squeezed the toothpaste onto the toothbrush and started brushing. As he spat into the sink he looked down to make sure his aim was good and took the opportunity to make sure everything was comfortable in his boxers. Looking back up and into the mirror he saw a pair of red eyes over his shoulder just as the lights went out.  He laughed at the absurdity of it all.

“OK guys, cut it out. Red eyes, lights going out. Cliche: every one of them.” he said with another laugh, although this one more nervous than humourous. Staring into the mirror he noticed the eyes were moving towards him in the darkness.

“Bring it on…” he said as something cold touched his back…

13 eyes

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Laughter and tears

Last night was the Eurovision song contest, just in case you missed it.  I’d already watched the semi-finals during the week and was looking forward to a great show. Yes, folks, I really do enjoy it.  It’s been quite a n emotional watch for me over the last couple of years. Tony and I always watched it together, commenting and rolling eyes as necessary. Watching now I miss him and his comments (eye rolling).

During the show I was ‘chatting’ with Nick and Carla in the UK and Anna in Ireland via a whatsapp group we set up, and with Irene up in Bilbao. How amazing and satisfying that technology could bring us altogether. There was a general consensus on my favourite entry, and we agreed we should go to Portugal for next year’s competition. If we can get tickets will someone please come look after this lot?

I’d already ‘fallen in love’ with the song from Portugal during the semi final, so was cheering him on last night. I understood some of the lyrics as they were similar enough to Catalan and/or Spanish. The song includes the following lines “Tell them I lived to love you, before you I only existed.” and “listen to my prayer, I want you to return, to want me again. I know that I can’t love alone”.  I don’t think I need to explain more why I sobbed when the song won.

And here’s the link to youtube. With English translation. 


Today it is exactly 13 years since we arrived in Vilanova to begin our new life. Another bittersweet day. Coming here was one of the best things we did, and I wouldn’t change that for all the money in the world, or anything else, but today is another reminder of how alone I am now.  Together we would have celebrated the last 13 years, alone I can only be grateful for the 11 and a half years we had here together. The last two years have not been as good.

Tony in car

This morning when I walked Franki (Cuddy wanted a day off) we passed a red Citroen Berlingo at the end of the road. The same make and colour as the car that brought us over here so long ago. Memories of that 18 hour journey flashed through my mind.  We came with the car fully loaded, including two of our London cats and Xali, our beloved Battersea boy. They’re all gone now. I am what remains.

There have been quite a few changes since that first day. we’ve had central heating installed, new doors and windows throughout, a new kitchen and of course improved the garden.

Top left is 2004, the other two are now. 


I’ve tried to keep busy doing things, but it doesn’t work. Anniversaries and celebratory days serve as painful reminders of what I no longer have. At least I know it won’t last forever for me either.



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House of TulStig

One of my students recently asked me for copies of my books, and something he could use to sell more copies for me.

While putting together the following poster I had a moment of realisation – some people spend their lives trying to get a book out of them; so far I’ve got 6 published (I’ve removed the follow up to Winner for now) with at least two more to come. They may not be from a huge publishing house like Penguin, but they are out there, and selling. The Magic of the Camino has been my most popular work so far selling all over the world.

Perhaps the same blood as Shakespeare does mean something after all. Yes seriously Wills is my cousin!

2017-5 house of TulStig Books Poster jpeg


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Citizen Me

Little by little I am getting everything together for my application for Spanish citizenship.

A little while ago Carla and Nick sent off the Police Check for legalising, after they had checked it out with a local solicitor.  That came back by DHL quickly enough.

Yesterday I was another step closer.  On a visit to Sitges I picked up the translations of my birth certificate and the UK Police Check.  I’d only emailed the copies a couple of days ago so was pleased they were translated so quickly, as some translations seem to take forever to get back.  And at a bargain price too.

2017 Traduccion for Citizenship 01


Once the certificate confirming I have passed the language exams I will organise getting the local police certificate, and get the empadronamiento (Proof of residence in VnG) and then will be ready to go to the registrar with my application…… poc a poc, as we say here.

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Eddy lay on his bed rubbing his eyes, still in disbelief.

Just moments before he had been sleeping, albeit fitfully. He had been woken by a rumbling that had entered his dream and shaken his bed. He couldn’t remember the dream but he could remember the shaking. It had felt like a train rushing past at high speed. Eddy thought that perhaps there had been an earthquake, but in deepest Essex?

Suddenly aware of a presence Eddy leaned over and turned on his bedside light.  He grabbed his glasses and as he settled them on the end of his nose his room came into clear view.

“Who the hell are you? How did you get in here? And what do you want? Jeez.”  The questions spilled from his mouth.

“You were dreaming.”  The strange man at the foot of the bed told him. “May I sit?” he asked gesturing to a chair to the side.

“So?” Eddy could feel his words were still slightly slurred having been woken so suddenly.  He wasn’t truly sure he was awake. With sarcasm in his voice he nodded, “Yes, feel free.”

“Thank you.” the man said and sat. He was dressed in a strange checked suit and was holding a small document case. He looked like a lawyer or solicitor but the suit said he wasn’t.  Eddy didn’t think he was a threat, unless the document case held a colt weston. “As I said, you were dreaming, and in your dream attracting.”

“Uh?” Eddy grunted. He took his glasses off and wiped them on the edge of his t-shirt before carefully replacing them on his nose.

The man leaned forward and started to explain. He told Eddy that he was creating an energy of attraction as he slept and dreamt, which had called him there from his dimension. He told Eddy that he was part of Eddy’s wish, of a deep desire he was manifesting while asleep.  He told Eddy that he was there to fulfill his wish.

Eddy pinched himself hard on the arm. “Ouch!” He exclaimed.

“You’re no longer dreaming, ” the man told Eddy. He had a voice that was deeply soothing and spoke slowly. “I think it was my arrival that woke you.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Eddy couldn’t believe the situation.

“I am a most truthful one, and… would your mother approve of such language,” the man replied.

Eddy looked slightly embarrassed.  “But how can you…?” he asked.

“… complete your impossible wish?” the man finished his question.

“Yes,” Eddy now sat upright against his pillows. He truly was awake.

“That is for us to know. Your wish will be granted but afterwards you will not remember, but it will satisfy your yearnings. Will you trust me?” The man was standing holding out a hand to Eddy.

“But….” Eddy stammered. “How, where, and for starters what do I call you? say Aladdin and I’m out of here.”

“Desmond,” replied the man, allowing himself a gentle laugh. “Aladdin was a tale. I am real.”

“Desmond? Oh come on.” Eddy pulled his t-shirt down as he moved upwards against the pillows.

“Then call me Desi.” Desmond still held his hand out

“Desi, as in desire, this just gets more and more unbelievable.” Eddy shook his head.

“Inside you know it’s real and you know you created this, you know you called me. Please take my hand and we shall be off. If you have changed your mind tell me now and I shall return from whence I came, you’ll sleep and remember nothing, but your anxiety will remain.”  Desmond moved closer.

“But, I need…” Eddy began. He was going to say that he needed to dress before they went anywhere, but looking down he noticed he was already fully clothed. He looked up at Desmond.

“To save time I helped a little,” Desmond replied.

Eddy held out his hand and gingerly took Desmond’s in his. “Excellent, but Eddy,  you don’t need to hold your breath. Breathe and we will be on our way….”

07 wish

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