The Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky

Upon the forest hung a sparkling frost. The air was cold and thick. If a twig snapped it would crackle for miles around but only the muted whisper of the trees could be heard. Above, the Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky. The Moon itself was not even a sliver, just a deeper darkness blotting out the glistening haze of the Roads of Light.

As he watched, his fears seemed to drift away as though they were just brief clouds that had enshrouded him and were now passing into the far, far distance. The skulkrin edged forwards into the glade. He felt a beautiful, glowing glory shiver through him. He was completely bewildered; never, not even as a young skulkling, had he been happy like this. Unaccountably, he felt good and kind and gentle.

c_midwinterhTwelve months ago tonight I received a Direct message on Twitter from Fergus McNeill that came very much out of the blue. Four words that shook my foundations. It succinctly asked, “Did Mike Singleton Die?”

I hadn’t spoken with Mike for about a week. The last words he’d said to me were, “Ok, I am going out for my morning coffee now, so I will be in touch later, with the alpha tower…. nearly done, just the twiddly bits round the foliage.”

It wasn’t unusual for us to not speak for many days after being apparently in mid sentence. During Mike’s recovery he might go for a number of days without being able to sit at a computer. So, obviously I never thought any think of it. He’d been getting better. He seemed to have turned a corner, as was making great strides forward with his health.

After receiving the tweet from Ferg, I immediately sent a text message to Mike and then later one to his son Jules. I waited a while before sending the text to Jules because obviously how do you approach such a subject.

I did a search online a found a piece posted by Wibby on Giant Bomb announcing his death. I didn’t know who Wibby was and so didn’t know how accurate his information could be. While I waited for news from either Mike pronouncing the news of his death to be premature, or his family, I found myself locked numbly at my desk. The minutes slowly ticked by. Almost desperately, I sent a Skype message to Mike that read, “Mike, please tell me you’re there…”

I wrote a post, ‘This parting has come too soon’ as I found myself reflecting, yet lost in the unknown. The text grabbed from The Lords of Midnight Novella, very much resonated with how I was feeling at that moment.

I was getting messages by email, twitter, and phone, asking me the same question that Ferg had posed a few hours earlier. The minutes turned into hours before I had confirmation. Wibby wrote the following comment…

I am in tears….. I just looked in my gaming cupboard and I actually have Mike’s own copy of Lords of Midnight sat there that he gave me, I opened it up and it has his Bachelor of Science degree in it from years ago when he was in university as a young adult.

I will be passing them back to his kids… also spoke to one of his sons tonight and we are taking his ashes to our local for a last pint….

Wibby turned out to be Bruce Butterfield who I knew, knew Mike, and knew Mike’s family. Therefore, my worst fears were confirmed.

I tried to go to bed at Midnight, but didn’t sleep. I finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed and down to my study and started to write the bog post ‘Night has fallen…’ I found myself just pouring words onto the electronic page.

The following few days were crazy. I spoke with Bruce, and Mike’s son Jules. And I watched the internet explode with an outpouring of love for Mike.

Mike Singleton - 1951 – 2012
A genius, taken well before his time.

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The Lemon Tree

Aunty Doris had a lemon tree.
She didn’t live in on , where the lemons grow in abundance in the rich fertile soil. Nor did she live in where the ’s grow to the size of a small bowling ball. None of those places where the sun shines in perfectly blue cloudless skies for most of the year and the old people are wrinkled from years of working outside under intense sunlight.
She lived in , a small densely populated mill town in the valley of the River Beal, at the foot of the Pennines. Famous for its forty eight dark satanic cotton mills — large rectangular brick built buildings that once dominated the panorama, making the area the powerhouse of textile manufacture during the industrial revolution. A town where the cold damp air caresses you, welcomes you, makes you feel like you belong, before its dark angry clouds dump their rain on you before they rise over the Pennines. A place of poor sterile soils and rugged terrain. A place described by as having produced ‘a race of hardy and laborious men’.
She lived in a Edwardian mid-terrace opposite the Ideal Bakery. A two-up-two-down house that stood proud flush on the pavement, branded with years of smoke that bellowed from imposing factory chimneys and rows and rows of chimney stacks servicing cosy but functional coal fires.
The house had a back garden, nothing more than a small yard that separated it from the cobbled alleys the interwove between the surrounded houses. Large slabs of stone – not the perfectly formed concrete paving stones of modern, but rough, nobbled, and discoloured slabs that might have been pulled from the local quarries — made a path between the neighbours yard wall and the small perfectly preened patch of grass, toward the back of the yard.
There at the back, nestled between a low wooden fence and the outside privy-cum-coal shed, standing slightly lower than the outbuilding, and surrounded by misplaced homing pigeons, stood the tree she once bought as a small little sapling at The Tree Center. It didn’t grow those gnarly, fragrant, and fresh lemons that you find in the market stalls of , nor the perfectly dull and symmetrical more common to british supermarkets.
The tree wasn’t covered in long dark green elliptical leaves, finely toothed. It didn’t have small perfect red buds or white purplish flowers with yellow anthers. It wasn’t a tall majestic well nursed tree with light yellow fruit shown beautifully against blue skies. It was nondescript, fitting of its place — in the corner of yard in a small cold town. It was old, woody, and ever so slightly out of control.
But on it, at the end of every branch, sat the most elegant lemons; perfectly formed by years of love and care. Tended for in a way that only a little old lady could.
Every when I was still so small that I could barely reach the fruit on the low hanging branches, we would cross the yard, propelled by excitement and expectations, to harvest a precious lemon to squeeze on our pancakes.
I would lift my hand up and caress one of the many perfectly identical plastic fruits hanging from every branch by the thinnest of cotton. No matter which one I took it was always full of the most wonderful juice, the taste of which would always remind me of this special place, this special moment. We would take off the lid and check, just to make sure, before returning to the house to continue with our feast.
Aunty Doris’s Jif Lemon Tree — a work of wonder and beauty.

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20 Years of giving it a go…

Victoria and I have been together for 20 years today, and married for 12!

A lovestruck romeo sings a streetsuss serenade
Laying everybody low with a lovesong that he made
finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it?

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just a stone

just a stone

It might be just a stone to you
But it means the world to me
It represents my future, my hope, my aspirations
To you; just as waste of 75p
I know you might not understand
Why I need this shiny trinket of the deepest blue
It represents my past, my freedom, my independence
To you; another aggregate of minerals for me to lose

Chris Wild – Nov 12th 2007

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Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall?

Script For A Jester's TearSometime back in the earl 80’s I was lent 3 Vinyl LP’s by my friend Ian Holland. These 3 LP’s probably changed my outlook on music for the rest of my life. They were like nothing I had hear before. And that change made me open to all sorts of music from that point on. Those 3 LP’s were by and they were Script for a Jester’s Tear, Fugazi, and . I loved the intricacy of the music and the complexity of Fish’s lyrics. completed a perfect suite of albums.

Fish left in 1988.

In 1989 Marillion released their first album with new singer , . It was an excellent follow up album to Clutching and a good start for the new band member. This was followed by which I wasn’t that keen on. However in 1994 they release Brave which was a masterpiece. From that point on I kept religiously buying Marillion albums up until Marbles.

Fish however brought out in 1990, which was ok. He followed this with in 1991 which was less ok. So when Suits came out in 1994, I left it and stopped listening.

A few weeks ago I realised that there were 2 Marillion albums that I didn’t have and 6 Fish albums. So I went to their respective web sites and ordered the missing back catalogue.

I listened to all the Fish Albums and they are shit. They get progressively better but not enough. At the beginning he is let down by poor musicians and although that starts to change you realise that actually Fish is a crap lyricist. Now, to just type that goes against everything I had ever believed about him from the Marillion era, but it seems that when he left Marillion, he was moving his lyrics into a more serious and possibly literary medium. He is a good poet but they just don’t make good songs. So many times it seems that he is straining to make a lyric fit to the music. The words just don’t appear to flow with the melody. The verse lines are often too long and thus all the expected rhymes are in the wrong place or not there at all. This is most noticable in that, with the the few songs that are actually good, the lyric seems to break down to a more punchier and snappier format. I just wonder if he is missing a group of talented musicians who can get him inline. Someone not afraid to tell him to edit to a song format when needed. It’s a shame because it’s the first time I have ever bought music that I was really unhappy with.

The Marillion albums are great. They are a perfect addition to my music library.

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