Thursday, 31 March 2011
Friday, 25 March 2011
“We can live without our friends, but not without our neighbours.”
- J Kelly, Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs, 1721
“Every white hath its black, and every sweet its sour.”
- 18th century proverb
In a peaceful village, in a row of terraced cottages there lived two old men. Mr White in number seven with the black front door, and Mr Black at number eight with the white front door. One, a retired blacksmith with long white hair and his faithful companion, an affable black Labrador called Satan. The other, a retired white-collar worker with short black hair and a placid white Bull Terrier called Whitey.
Mr White had arrived, many years previous, from Blackheath in Suffolk, or was it Blackmoor in Somerset. Followed not so long afterwards by Mr Black, retired after a working career spent in Whitehaven in Cumbria, though he claimed to be a true Cockney, his birthplace, Whitechapel.
They settled into the village amicably enough, joining in the various activities so typical of village life, even to the extent of acting in the Christmas pantomimes. Mr Black was excellent as Grumpy in Snow White whilst Mr White’s Sinbad the Sailor was much admired.
But their real expertise lay in their love of the land, bringing to the village horticultural skills both admired and envied.
Perhaps here were sown, literally, the seeds of animosity. For it became evident that both men had in their nature’s a competitive streak that struck stone dead the idealistic viewpoint, ‘It’s not the winning that matters, but the taking part.’ Mr White and Mr Black were both of the considered opinion, “ What a load of old codswallop!”
Keen gardeners, both had allotments and greenhouses and were gifted with green fingers, so to speak; therefore ensuring both vied for top position at the flower, fruit and vegetable show, the annual highlight of the Allotment Association’s year.
Meticulous gardeners, greenfly had no place on the pair’s allotments, though it had to be said, Mr White constant battled with persistent blackfly, whilst Mr Black waged war consistently against the assiduous whitefly. Mr Black’s celery was the whitest ever seen, whilst Mr White’s aubergines were the colour of coal, and his blackcurrants had no equal. Plus beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, parsnips; potted plants, all were grown to perfection. Other locals could only envy their expertise. The dynamic duo were not as green as is cabbage looking.
The much- prized cup for ‘best in show’ see sawed between the two neighbours. In the early days of their arrival amicably enough, but as the years passed, the strain began to tell. Now in their seventies, both men showed early but distinct signs of paranoia, especially in the weeks leading up to the vegetable shows.
Each spied on the other, net curtains a-twitching, journeys to the allotments monitored and crops inspected. Carrots and leeks grown in chimney pots surreptitiously watered at dead of night. How you may well ask, but you don’t really want to know!
Until one Friday before the show was, for Mr White, the blackest of days. Inspection of his allotment revealed catastrophe. Languishing leeks and fading fuschias; poorly plants personified. Black rage enveloped Mr White. His thoughts turned in one direction only. Who would benefit from his demise, surely one person and one person only?
Mr White hurried home, as fast as a seventy year old can. He knocked on Mr Black’s white front door, barely able to contain his rage. A dog within raged also, as the door opened to reveal a bemused Mr Black.
“You need a whack, Black.” Mr White’s enraged greeting took Mr Black by surprise.
“You’re a sight, White. You’re definitely not right, White.” Mr White was taken aback at such accusations, definitely, he thought, a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The two old men faced each other, years of frustration surfacing. Mr Black turned white with rage and temper, while Mr White’s black looks were intended to frighten his septuagenarian foe. The police were called, threatening both with a trip in a Black Maria.
Both were red in the face, though this matters little to the story. Neither for that matter is it important that the action took place in front of the village green. Or the fact that Mr White had yellow jaundice as a child and Mr Black once had scarlet fever! That the sky was blue, whilst grey smoke billowed from the terraced chimneys; or that grey doves sat on the red slates of the cottages and a blackbird sat in the cherry tree.
No, the important fact was that Mr White’s chance of success in the forthcoming show was no more. Equally important was the accusation that Mr Black was responsible.
The Allotment Committee called a meeting and discussed the issue in great detail. But there was no evidence that Mr Black was the culprit of so heinous a crime. Mr White of course thought their decision was a whitewash, but the committee could reach no other conclusion, the evidence was far from black and white.
The effect of the whole affair was catastrophic. Already somewhat unstable, the bizarre behaviour of the two old adversaries became the talk of the village. Mr Black painted his front door black, Mr White his front door white. Both gave up gardening, taking up other interests. Mr White studied accountancy at evening classes, learning how to stay in the black instead of the red. Mr Black studied the history of television, becoming an expert on The Black and White Minstrels.
Then a strange thing happened. Mr Green at number nine was taken ill, in fact very ill. He had been in hospital many years previously but had been given the green light regarding future health. Realising he had not long on this planet, he wrote a letter to the Allotment Committee admitting he was responsible for the destruction of Mr White’s crops prior to the show the previous year. Mr Black too was targeted, but Mr Green had lacked the opportunity of a second uninterrupted allotment visit. Mr Green had been a show winner prior to the arrival of the green-fingered duo, Mr Black and Mr White. Clearly a case of succumbing to the green-eyed monster, jealousy.
Shortly afterwards Mr Green retired to the allotment in the sky, where all the crops are prize winners and potato blight and the cabbage white butterfly are no more.
The two old men made up, after all those years of animosity. No more black looks or white lies. They visited each other, happy now in each other’s company in the twilight of their lives. Enjoying together Cilla Black on their black and white televisions, drinking White Horse Scotch Whisky, sharing black puddings and boxes of Black Magic and holidaying together in Blackpool or on the Isle of Wight.
Happiness at last, no longer in each others black books, two old men happy in each other’s company; an old white man and an old black man, Billy Black and Chalky White.
Saturday, 19 March 2011
Ben is seventy one. He has also had, in the not too distant past quite a serious knee operation. This never stopped him caring for Guy, his most recent 'adopted' geriatric. Guy was a single minded gentleman whose life was much enhanced by Ben's equally single minded care in all things. It is no exaggeration to state that, without Ben, Guy's life would have been shorter and
certainly less fulfilled. They were in many ways a 'couple'. But a couple of what? You may well ask!
Guy was seriously limited concerning mobility and extremely elderly but this did not stop him exploring Derby and district. How could he fail to do so with a wheelchair to hand and Ben 'to boot'. Not the easiest of outings, Guy was no lightweight and Ben's knee surgery was not to be easily dismissed. But Ben usually made light of the problem. Even on the occasion a tyre fell off the wheelchair. Fortunately most young men are fit. At least that was so in the case of the two young men who lifted the wheel chair plus occupant into the air whilst the tyre was carefully replaced prior to the journey home. Not easily daunted were our intrepid travellers, though the trip to the supermarket nearly became 'a bridge too far'.
Guy had a penchant for fresh fish so, on a hot summer's day a trip to the local, though not too local Asda was welcomed by Guy with relish. A pleasant visit, mission accomplished, salmon to hand, the intrepid pair triumphantly set off for home. Only Ben has never been a driver, so he returned the way he knew as a passenger in his wife's car. Literally over the aforementioned 'bridge too far' which leads directly onto the A52. Now the A52 is a dual carriageway, Derby to Nottingham, very fast, very busy, no hard shoulder, no provision for pedestrians, (in fact pedestrians are forbidden). All facts lost on our doughty duo. Reminiscent of Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, Mutt and Jeff; take your pick. The speeding traffic, inches away were ignored by the intrepid pair as they ploughed on with thoughts of tea and crumpet, or, in this case, fresh salmon sandwiches. That is, until the shrill sound of a siren shattered the air waves. How many passing motorists had rung 999 we'll never know; a fair number I guess. I'm not sure who was the most shocked, our intrepid duo or the passengers and driver in the police car who pulled in behind Ben and Guy. I know who was the most amused, the lady police officer who, though concerned, was nigh on having hysterics at the absurdity of the situation. Ideally, as the police suggested, the 'journey' needed terminating forthwith. Only it proved impossible to transfer Guy to the attending police vehicle. (an ambulance visited the scene, albeit briefly and was assured its presence was not necessary) Guy was for the first time concerned, for it was a hot day and salmon does not stay fresh when subjected to extreme heat! The answer was simplicity itself. A police escort to hold back traffic, allowing the dynamic duo to continue their way to the slip road ahead. A slow, laborious journey not helped by Guy dropping his walking stick several times as he concentrated on NOT dropping the salmon, a far more important item. To stop all traffic from overtaking was excellent. To stop traffic in BOTH directions from moving in order to allow the duo to cross the carriageway and exit showed the British police at their finest. Guy found the whole thing great fun. (He later suggested it was the best day he'd had in years.) Ben was embarrassed, and implored the police to not inform anyone concerning their unfortunate escapade. But as the lady constable informed, 'Keep it secret, the whole episode has been recorded on camera.' (Presumably for posterity, I personally have been surprised it has not surfaced on You Tube.)
An eventful afternoon worthy of a drink. Only the pub Ben and Guy called at on leaving the A52 was closed due to some problem with licences. Plus a detour to another pub proved no more fruitful, the time now way beyond the dinnertime opening hours. A can of beer on arrival home after an eventful day out Ben's only material reward for services rendered. Neither Ben, Guy or myself are religious in the accepted sense. But I tell you something, if there is a God up there in the sky, he was certainly looking over these two on that hot summer's day. And undoubtedly a good time was had by all.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
How many of you can say with certainty what you were doing on a given day ten years ago? Twenty years? Thirty or forty years, or even fifty?
On Tuesday the 10th March, 1959 the Tibetan people rose up against the Chinese invasion of their country in what was to become known as the Lhasa Uprising. On this same day I had an altercation with a builder's lorry whilst hurrying to work on my 197cc Francis Barnett motorbike. The lorry won comfortably.
The young lady on the back of my bike was mercifully thrown clear. Myself and the bike finished up underneath the lorry. After the impact, as the steam settled I vividly remember looking up at the lorry underside, too close to the hot exhaust for comfort. Actually comfort is completely the wrong word. I was pinned under the bike and I distinctly remember holding my breath in the mistaken belief that if I breathed it would be my last. I had passed so far under the lorry (from sideways on) that the wheels passed over the edge of my helmet. Was it luck, providence that I survived, you tell me. A posse of men were summoned, they lifted the lorry (who needs Superman, the British public are wonderful when they need to be) and I was pulled clear.
My passenger received a serious laceration but fortunately nothing more. There seemed no lack of volunteers to examine her legs. I had a badly broken leg and ankle and less serious, as far as I knew, head injuries. (Who knows for certain whether they were accountable for some of my 'actions' over the past fifty years.) I remember some fool of a woman's audible comment 'Ooh, look at his face.' Consequently I refused to remove my arm from covering my face until I arrived at a hospital. Silly woman! The main feeling I remember is of acute embarrassment at the whole affair. I would have left the scene had I been remotely able. All in all not a day easily forgotten. The ride to hospital was uncomfortable in the extreme, a trip in the back of the lorry would have been less bumpy. But my surgery and treatment in three hospitals, brilliant. Hurray for the NHS.
Some people believe in superstitions. In the village where I was brought up, many country folk were seriously superstitious. Take salt for instance. To spill it was bad luck. So if you did spill it, you threw some over your left shoulder where the Devil was waiting. Put it on the step of a new house and no evil could enter. (And did you know that salty soup is a sign the cook is in love.) No may blossom was allowed in the house; knives and forks were not to be crossed when set out on the table; no job was to be started on a Friday. Don't open umbrellas in the house; don't place a hat on a bed; don't place your shoes on the table and of any case don't place shoes upside down. Don't, don't, don't! Notice how it always leans towards fostering goodness and defeating evil.
Not surprising in view of the dictionary definition.
Superstition - any belief, practice or rite unreasonably upheld by belief in magic, chance or dogma.
An unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome.
It is interesting that whilst the most cynical of individuals will profess a disbelief in superstitions, they are often the ones who touch wood for luck, cross their fingers, also for luck (behind their backs, out of sight of course) and will invariably avoid walking under ladders. We all know its a load of old rubbish of course, but we still hedge our bets. We may be clever, but matey, we ain't that clever.
My bike always was a strange old machine, a real bucking broncho at speeds over fifty. Yet I loved my 'Franny' Barnett. Though after the accident I was not quite as in love with motorbikes as I had previously been. Besides the fact that my beloved steed, number TNU 137 was somewhat mangled.
I didn't need much persuading to give it to a family friend, a Mr Vince, who was a top class engineer. Over a period of time he rebuilt TNU 137 so that it was in fact in better condition than when I purchased it second hand for the princely sum of fifty two pounds. (I knew nothing of its previous history except that the headlight had been dented at some stage, presumably a non too serious event compared to my 'happening'.)
Jinx - dictionary definition. Something or someone believed to bring bad luck or misfortune.
Only Mr Vince never rode TNU 137. He took ill unexpectedly shortly after completing the restoration and sadly died not long afterwards. The bike languished, forlorn and unloved in Mr Vince's garage for many a while.
Jinx - in popular superstition and folklore 'an object that brings bad luck.'
My cousin Dennis, whose influence was instrumental in me buying the bike in the first place, negotiated with Mr Vince's widow and bought the machine, no doubt at a bargain price. Some bargain. Dennis was an experienced motorcyclist, unlike myself and was happiest tinkering with motorcycles for hours on end. One cold winter evening he tinkered just once too often and it almost signalled his end. TNU 137 was always an awkward customer where starting was concerned. (many two stroke motorcycles of that era were so.) It often necessitated several and occasionally numerous kick starts, a nuisance, somewhat tiring and creating exhaust fumes of considerable magnitude. No matter, no danger. Unless you were in a garage with the door closed. The garage complete with a paraffin heater, lit to warm cold December evenings spent in an otherwise unheated garage. Inevitably an explosion occurred , the heater igniting the fumes. In a closed garage the heat and flames were spectacular. Dennis was lucky to survive and had to endure months of repairs to his hands and face. TNU 137 survived almost intact.
Jinx - a spell or period of bad luck.
The bike was in fact repaired, again and Dennis did in fact use it, though whether his heart was truly with that machine I never did know. I doubt he needed much persuasion to sell it, particularly as Wraggy, a family friend showed interest in buying. All that was needed was a test drive and the deal would be done. So Wraggy vanished up the road out of sight on TNU 137, face beaming at the possibility of owning such an astute purchase. And we waited and we waited and we waited. We wondered why such a short test drive should be taking so long. That is, until a crestfallen Wraggy reappeared pushing his would be purchase. Evidently he had barely left the street when he was accosted by two observant policemen in a squad car, Wraggy's driving style no doubt would have attracted the attention of even the dimmest of traffic policemen. Wraggy had of course no licence and was also therefore not insured to ride any motorcycle, never mind TNU 137. No one was amused by this debacle, least of all Wraggy. But he need not have worried. Or perhaps he did just that. Poor old Wraggy, not so old Wraggy dropped dead one afternoon before his case ever went to court.
Jinxed - to bring bad luck or misfortune. (Perhaps from Jynx, genus name of the Wryneck, a bird used in magic.)
I know the bike was afterwards used by the son of Dennis, David, who is my godson. Not on the public highway as David was still a schoolboy. And I know it was in a head on collision on a local allotment with an elderly lady in a car who had lost her way. I kid you not, though to finish up driving a car on an allotment is seriously strange. Especially where TNU 137 lurked. Fortunately the only human injuries was the boy's pride.
I often wondered what happened to TNU 137. It may be still out there. But in the unlikely event that you are offered a small, green, vintage, battered motorcycle, do yourself a favour. Check the number plate. And if it happens to be TNU 137 do yourself a favour and run away; fast
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Wherefore Art Thou
'Old men are twice children'
In a way it’s a funny thing to have someone go missing on you in broad daylight. Only funny is the wrong word to use.
It began so innocuously. “I’m just going into Marks to get some paste.” The old ladies’ message was simple, unexceptional. So unexcitingly familiar that the old man’s attention, honed by over fifty years of somewhat uneventful marriage, was non-existent. So routinely ordinary that he as usual made no comment. Not even enquiring as to the type of paste to be purchased.
“You sit on the seat there and I’ll be back in no time.”
Probably the hundred thousandth request, order, instruction, command in a marriage approaching twenty thousand days!
Not one to argue, of any case glad of the rest from the humdrum tasks required of 21st century man, Edward, the old man did as he was told. “She who must be obeyed,” he thought to himself wistfully.
Edward surveyed all around him with interest, anything was preferable to queuing in boring old M and S.
People of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds passed by; some hurried, others sauntering, seemingly with all the time in the world. Men in turbans, women in chadors. People in uniforms: nurses, care workers, shop assistants, but not a police uniform in sight. Blonds with black roots, shaven headed men and dark men sporting afros. Mobile phones in constant use, conveying messages seldom of importance, in Chinese, Urdu, Russian, Tamil and even English! Drinks were consumed and the cans or bottles discarded; sometimes in the bins provided, more often not: Pepsi, Coca Cola, Lucosade, Carling Black Label and supermarket cider.
Adolescent, pretty black girls greeted each other, like long lost friends meeting after years apart. Young lovers caressed, oblivious to those around them! A proud father pushed his offspring in an expensive, state of the art buggy. The wife issued instructions before vanishing for equally expensive hair and beauty treatment.
“Make sure he keeps his hat on, don’t feed him chips and watch out for him chucking his dummy!”
Grey suited businessmen passed by, attaché cases to hand, their earnest talk concerning high finance and credit.
A balloon seller plied his trade, his brightly coloured offerings attracting children’s pennies, or rather parent’s pounds.
Young men handed out fliers advertising ‘Monday Madness, Funky House Dance, RnB, with student DJ Tom Ralston.’
Chinese musicians played haunting oriental music on obscure instruments, inviting passers-bys to purchase CD’s, ‘one hour long, price £10.’
An abundance of T-shirts and leisure tops on show, their messages often obscure: International Karate Open and Weekly Warrior, both worn by extremely slightly built individuals. A football shirt announced Sandu no 10, probably self-explanatory. But what, Edward wondered, was the significance of the number 54 top of a rather large middle aged lady; or for that matter, number 93 on the back of a lady of similar proportions? Racing Extreme, Hey Ho Let’s Go, Guns and Roses other adult choices, plus a very pink Glitter Princess, a child’s choice.
An overweight, obviously unfit, ill individual walked slowly, with difficulty up to the bench housing Edward and another elderly gentleman. Reluctantly he flopped down, produced a crumpled cigarette from his pockets and lit up. Coughing loudly he inhaled, to the distaste and dismay of his fellow travellers.
Edward left the bench and. walked slowly up the street, unhurried, taking in the street’s offerings.
Nationwide, Nat West, Lush, Top Shop; Miss Selfridge, BHS and Shoe Zone; Manor Pharmacy, Reveal Records, Optical Express and Bradford and Bingley.
Ann Summers, their customers, usually confident young women, striding in without a moments hesitation. But occasionally middle-aged ladies, ill at ease, heads down, hoping that no one had witnessed their entering an obvious den of iniquity!
Sales and offers designed to seduce, reminding of the adage, ‘Let the buyer beware.’ The NTL sales van suggested in large letters on its side ‘Save money now.’ Ilkeston-Co-op Travel exhorted, ‘Seven nights on Malta, £149, pay nothing until next year.’ BHS offered ‘30% off some items, 75% off others.’ A large street sign reminded that ‘insurance is free on a Kia car.’ Going Places told of ‘Commission Free Foreign Currency.’ ‘GNT’s gold card discount, 40%.’ The Works, ‘the place for half price artist’s materials.’ The Carphone Warehouse informed, ‘Free calls for life for BT customers.’ One hour film processing and instant food. Live now, pay later, a world beyond Edward’s comprehension!
His wandering had tired him and he was grateful to find another seat, this time empty and a fair distance from his original resting place.
The ornamental clock at the end of the street struck the hour, interrupting Edward’s deliberations. He had become so preoccupied with his observational perambulations that he had clean forgotten why he was in the town in the first place! No mean feat where Doris was concerned. He was unsure how long she had been gone, for he wore no watch. Doris always said he would only lose it, of any case she decided who did what, when, and where so as to make a watch, certainly from Edward’s viewpoint, redundant.
What if she didn’t come back! The possibility, never before contemplated, amused. him greatly. No more nagging. No more, “Wipe your feet! Take your shoes off! You’re spilling that! Why can’t you be more careful?”
No more, “You’ve had two pints, why do you want any more? Slow down, you’re going too fast! Mind that cyclist! Don’t talk with your mouth full! Don’t slurp! Don’t slouch! Stand up straight! Don’t mumble! Stop scratching your head! Where’s your hanky? Don’t interrupt, in fact don’t breathe!”
Time continued to pass, and almost imperceptibly Edward’s mood began to change. Unsure as to how long his wife had been away, he felt the first pangs of uncertainty and anxiety. The sun beat down, increasing his discomfort. His choice of clothing betrayed a septuagenarian tendency to expect inclement weather, whatever the season, and dress accordingly. “We don’t want to be bedridden with a chill, and thus a nuisance to others do we?” his other half was wont to impress upon him, if even so much as an open necked shirt was suggested as summer apparel! The old man sat uncomfortably in his woollen vest, woollen socks, and woollen shirt, his unbuttoned topcoat his only concession to summer days. He began to sweat, in part due to the weather, but also induced by feelings of panic.
A thousand thoughts raced through his mind.” Where was she? Surely a pot of paste didn’t take this long? How long was it? The Lord only knows. Perhaps she’s been kidnapped? But who would kidnap a seventy year old? Why would they do that? For ransom, surely not! How would he raise money if it were so? Murdered because the ransom was not forthcoming, fed to the pigs like Mrs Muriel MacKay, the kidnapped wife of a newspaper magnate!”
His imagination knew no bounds. ”Perhaps she’s run away, left me for another man? Surely I’d have noticed the tell tale signs? Mind you, she had seemed happier recently. Perhaps it wasn’t just the new wallpaper. Has she had an accident? Is she stuck in a lift? Has she lost her memory?” The questions hurtled round the old man’s mind, increasing his discomfort.
He realised, with not a little embarrassment, that he could not remember what his wife was wearing. Fifty years of complacency, fifty years of taking his wife for granted. Never ever apart, yet never really together!
He thought of telephoning but to whom he had no idea. Plus he didn’t own a mobile phone, didn’t carry a mobile phone and, equally important, he’d no idea how to use a mobile phone.
He thought too of the police but it was not a serious possibility.
“You’ve lost your wife, sir, now when was that, sir? You’re not sure when, sir. She’s gone for some paste and not come back. Oh dear, it’s not exactly crime of the century, is it sir! Give us a ring if she doesn’t turn up in, say, six months, sir. Good day, sir!”
As his discomfort increased, Edward imagined those around him were becoming less acceptable, more threatening. He noticed an abundance of tattoos and body piercing; tattoos on ears and necks, chests, breasts and legs. Piercings through lips, noses, eyebrows, tongues and torsos.
An old man, the worse for drink leered at a minimally dressed pubescent child. Cyclists weaved through the pedestrians, causing women with children and pensioners alike to scatter. Four teenagers, one noticeably pregnant, mouthed obscenities at passers-by, their actions creating both fear and consternation.
A teenage beggar rose from his position in a shop doorway, collected up his blanket, lit his umpteenth cigarette and went on his way, his flea ridden dog in tow. No doubt to his home in the suburbs, and probably his plasma television with its ultra sound system.
Harassed mothers harangued misbehaving offspring, increasingly tired as the day wore on. A very disabled young man struggled to manoeuvre an ancient wheelchair over the block paving, a surface unhelpful to his endeavours, onlookers indifferent and uncaring. The Big Issue seller stood, tattooed and silent, arm held out but his wares disregarded, his plight ignored.
People at the cash dispensers clutched purses and wallets tightly, eyeing up all and sundry as they withdrew their fortunes, seeing danger where it probably didn’t exist. Even a single, grey, ladies boot lying on the pavement became an ominous object, its owner unknown, the reason for its solitary existence suspicious.
Edward noticed the St Peter’s Church banner extolled, “Cling only to what is necessary.” The banner for the local newspaper informed, depressingly, “Petrol breaks the £1 barrier,” and “Archdeacon pleads for return of grave body.”
Edward tried to remain calm, in control, but numbness overwhelmed him. His heartbeat increased and he fumbled for his tablets, his hands visibly shaking. He took two tablets, though his prescription forbad it.
He became aware of a warm feeling and he realised with horror that he had wet himself. His anxiety increased, He felt lost, lonely, dependent, helpless and not a little fearful. His heart pounded, and, as if in sympathy, the sky darkened and the sun vanished behind the gathering clouds. A light breeze signalled an oncoming storm.
Tears welled up in his eyes and he began to sob. Those around him became blurs and he felt himself fading. He tried to fight, but to no avail. He tried to call out, but no sound came. He saw the outline of a female apparition, surely an angel, coming towards him. He held open his arms and the apparition called his name. “Edward, where on earth have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”