Just Beverley Issue 72 - Flipbook - Page 22
SHORT STORY Ralphie’s New Year
by Clint Wastling
Welcome to 2021! Well it must be, the Minster
bells have rung out midnight and it’s been
a long time since the last champagne cork
popped outside. Surely you haven’t forgotten the grotesque you met in
the summer? I’m Ralphie.
Gosh, that was careless, I’d forgotten about the verger locking up. I’m sure
she’s very nice but it would be a bit awkward having to explain my flying
I know humans have to keep two metres apart but I don’t. We - I mean the
Minster carvings: musicians, animals and monsters who grace corbels,
misericords and remote recesses don’t have the same rules. We’re all a
bit stuck in the past, like some of our leaders, but with some New Year’s
magic it is our turn to party. First of all I need enchanted water from a shrine.
Fortunately there’s one by the right of the altar. They call it Saint John’s well.
The problem is I can’t lift the lid because it’s too heavy. A lever would work.
Ah! The verger’s left the hook out that opens it leaning against one of the
saint’s statues. As I’m so small, I’ll need something to act as the fulcrum.
Hymns Ancient and Modern should do. With a bit of effort… the lid lifts
catching on the edge. There’s just enough room for me to get my paw in and
collect the water in a vial. I fly around the Minster wetting the head of every
musician and chorister. It’s joyous, more voices than I’ve heard in a long
The musician’s shop steward puts
down his symphonium. “We want
union rates. Henry the Eight gave
us a sovereign a day!”
“Remember what happened to
all the Thomas’s who crossed
Henry?” I retort. The shop steward
looks around his musicians and
POEM New Year’s Eve BY
New Year’s Eve sleet chills
the feet of revelling children,
our teenagers, who wear no hats,
and but for our parental fuss
would have bare midriffs,
no coats, only bravado
and a misplaced sense of fashion
against the north-east blizzard.
We stay at home, cosily sipping
a decorous glass of wine as Big Ben
heralds the New Year, its familiar headlines.
We ready towels and blankets,
stoke the fire.
Our rôle is to offer hot chocolate,
bring in for them another year of hope
and conceal for now our own ambivalence:
our gloves of caution that won’t be shed,
our coats of cynicism, scarves of doubt,
our chain-mail links to all the years gone by.
John Gilham has been published in numerous magazines
including Acumen, The North and Rialto. He was Editor of Dream
Catcher from 2014 to 2019.
His collections, Fosdyke and Me and Other Poems and most
recently Where the Hares Are, both published by Stairwell Books.
“Ok! Let’s party as last year was so
difficult. However, we must have a
glass of wine before we start!”
Fortunately the bagpipe player
manages to find some plastic cups
and the hurdy-gurdy player spirits a
few bottles of communion wine from the vestry - a nice Merlot.
That’s the women singing Gaudete Christus et Natus in the Lady Chapel. I
ask the choir sing Be Merry, Be Merry. Sitting in the choir stalls, I notice the
carved griffin and place a few dabs of water on its head. The carving yawns
and stretches as it comes to life. “It’s really nice to find another creature who
can fly after all these years.”
The griffin, growls and sniffs a bit. “Seen any mice?”
I point the creature to the best place and he returns a few minutes later,
satisfied. The Dancing Jester is organising Terpsichore. Bopping - the griffin
calls it. What a strange new-fangled word.
“Would you like to have a dance?” Asks the griffin.
“That’s very kind of you. I know all the steps for the pavan and galliard.”
“The old ones are the best,” he says a little stiffly. After several dances, I’m
out of breath and I relax with a glass of wine!
“Here’s to 2021. It’s going to be an excellent year, so
long as we all keep our heads!”
Clint has a poetry collection Layers published by
Maytree Press still available from The Treasure
House. You have to ask for the collection directly as
no books are out.
£49 PER MONTH
PAY JUST £499 DEPOSIT
THEN JUST £49 PER MONTH
FOR A MINIMUM TERM OF 12 MONTHS
AND THEN PAY MONTH-BY-MONTH THEREAFTER
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that gets real
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His Fantasy novel, Tyrants Rex is available from
Stairwell Books online.
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