Thursday, 10 January 2013

The ghost of St. Mary's

It is obvious that nobody is going to buy my stories even though they are well constructed and chilling. I am going to put them on the blog FREE. Before I do this, I want you to know that it hurts me so much, as my friend Angela goes to a lot of trouble to make nice covers for me, even knowing I cannot pay her. My only way of paying her back for the kindness was in a few sales, but you just want free reads.

                                                          The ghost of St. Mary's

   The church of St.Mary's can be seen overlooking the South Bay of Scarborough, Teeside. I took this photo in September, 2010. The lovely cover work is that of my great friend Angela Priest. 
    Over the coming months, I am going to be putting a chapter of my stories on line, if you are interested in the outcome, there will be links to either Amazon or direct to me vial the Paypal button.
    This was my first ghost story, it has changed since I wrote the original version, because Alan Schneider at Indie Book Lounge stole my original. The published it as his in one of his anthologies sold at Comicon, which took place in Phoenix during Memorial day weekend, 2012. THIS is the only official version.

The ghost of St. Mary’s
The headland at Scarborough is dominated by the ruins of the twelfth century castle, impenetrable from the sea, as the rock face is sand and virtually sheer.
This is a story not of the fight for the fort but for a lost soul.
Just below the castle is the church of St. Mary's. In a far corner hidden from sight lies a broken gravestone, this is the sad story of a schoolgirl, her grave, weed-ridden and long forgotten.
This story started for me about six years ago when I was doing some research. The reason being, I was trying to find things to do while I visited Scarborough for the Jazz festival. I needed something to do on Sunday, this the worst day with most shops closed.
In making a few general enquiries, I learned from the Tourist Information board that at the edge of the North bay is a series of flattish rocks called Betty Moffat rocks, the fact they had a name and not just a general term such as Scapa Flow, the Skerries or the Needles, always intrigued me. What had happened to cause the rocks to get such a name?
As things went that year, I never got to Scarborough but the name stuck with me and has haunted me since. Anyone who knows me will tell you if I get a mystery, I like to try to get as much information on it as I can. If for no other reason than personal satisfaction and the knowledge that I did me best.
After many years of trying to return to the site of many happy memories from childhood, I finally got back to Scarborough, from there the story grows.
In the preceding years, nobody at the Tourist Information or any other organization could find any links to the name of the rocks, so interest for me was very strong, maybe I could shed some light on the mystery.
I left Bristol on the 10:30 train for York, my head filled with thoughts of what a lovely time ahead, even if only for a few days. This was a rushed trip organized in February and set for late September. Partly because the holiday season would be over and partly because I wanted to be by the sea to say farewell to a lovely lady, I had known in Canada. Knowing the area well I was prepared for the stormy weather, this was one of the reasons for going that late in the season.
We arrived at York on schedule, not knowing the station as the last time I was there was on my way south from Scotland in my RAF days. At that time York was a nightmare to get around. I remember having to carry the kit bag and suitcase over every line from one side to the other, he thought of an eleven minute gap between trains was daunting to say the least. The years had taken the toll and my health had deteriorated badly, however the worry was for nothing as the change was easy, down the lift across under the lines and back up, in plenty of time to get the train to Scarborough.
Since passing Sheffield I had the feeling of returning to home, but now that feeling was even stronger as we headed to an area I knew and loved. Memory plays strange tricks and as we sped across the moors covered in lovely heather, I could remember my good times. I just hoped things had not changed too much, as the main seaside venue on the North-East; Scarborough has to move with the times. I was just hoping she had not lost her soul to the tourists and become tacky.
The train pulled into Scarborough station on time, as always I had checked the area online, as I was unsure of directions even though the guest house was only thirty-five minutes from the station. All I had to do was head for the cricket ground, and I was almost there, as the house was only a few streets away. All went well for the first few minutes, then I hit a snag, there were road repairs in use, this entailed a detour and here came the problem, as this took me off my route, the more I tried to get back on course, the more I lost my direction until I was so confused I had to ask the way. By this time I was tired and sweating despite the late September weather, once I got directions to Columbus ravine I knew where I was going I had planned to avoid walking up the ravine, which is a long winding road, my route would have taken me across the top edges of the ravine, here I was now at the bottom of it, tired and sweating
After arriving at the guest house, I was very pleasantly surprised to find it was only a short walk from Peasholm park, an area of town that held many lovely childhood memories for me and one of the destinations I wanted to re-visit this trip.

The first night went well, until about 03:15, when there was such a loud thunder clap, anyone would have thought a bomb had gone off. When we went in for breakfast on the Friday, all the talk was about the thunder as all of the guests had been woken. I was woken as I had only just gone to sleep, I had been chatting to a friend in America, the time lapse meant her 9:00 pm, was my 2:00 am.
            Most of the guests had come for the jazz festival and by the chatter, were regular visitors. Some had come from Surrey and had been there for the week, they were waiting for a friend coming down from Scotland.  I explained that I had tried to get tickets back in March but they had been sold out, as this is festival second only to Cheltenham in the UK  for popularity these days, the main difference being Cheltenham is an International festival, whereas this is a British festival.
            Once we had got talking that morning, I told my new friends, that I had to make a rushed plan for personal reasons and despite not getting tickets,  I had decided to make the trip as I had wanted to return for so long. I could not remember a year when it was not on my mind to come back.
 After breakfast on the Friday, I took the first of my many walks along the North bay area up to Scalby Mills and the sea life museum. The day was windy and walking along the front was hard in the face of a force three to four headwind with sand lashing my face but the feeling of being at peace inspired me to write. I had not felt so alive; my spirit was alive with the elements and flowing.
Looking down from the top of the cliff walk on to the beach I could see the North Sea rolling in and with her the waves high as a man a mile out. Scarborough has two bays. They are so totally different.
North bay is rocky with large areas of jagged rocks, she catches most of the winds ( as I was to see later).This is the non-tourist part, there are no amusements or rides here, which suited me as the calmness was what I needed, in 2005 the council had to replace half of the North Shore walk, there was a terrible gale and the tides ripped out the pavements, if you look it is easy to note the alterations, the council has also laid down massive layers of huge boulders, to break the force of a rolling tide.

While the North Bay gets the high winds and waves, just half a mile away on South Bay you would think you were in a different town altogether, on one day I witnessed the big differences. I walked along North Bay with the tide rolling in, waves crashing against the man-made defences and sounding like thunder. Around the point, South Bay was as calm as calm could be, surfers paddling out ¾ mile in water so shallow a child would be safe. So calm hardly a ripple stirred the great expanse of empty sands showing what the tourists came for, her lovely beach, golden sands and fresh sea food stalls.


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