Mere is a new novel written by local author Carol Fenlon which is published by Thunderpoint Press. Mere is set in and around a fictionalised Burscough. Mere will be making a debut appearance at Burscough Heritage Festival on Saturday 23rd June. Mere can be found at the following link www.amazon.co.uk/Mere-chilling-novel-rural-Lancashire-ebook/dp/B07C716SQR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529092213&sr=8-1&keywords=carol+fenlon
An extract from the novel can be read below:
I will never leave here no matter what they do or say. They’ve tried to get me to go in a home, but I put paid to that. I couldn’t believe my ears when our Tom suggested it. My own son, trying to put me away, but it’s all down to that bitch Diane. Men are easy led by short skirts and a pretty face, like a bull with a ring through its nose. Her’s met her match in me though. I told them, the only way they’ll get me out of here is in a box.
Oh, she’s cute, that one. I’m not so daft I can’t tell when someone wants me out of the way. I can see it in her eyes, for all her syrupy words and little girl smiles. I can see her waiting, watching, when I’m scrabbling for the inhaler. Well, I won’t give her the satisfaction. I’m not ready to go yet, they’ll see.
My ancestors fought for this land, but there were no human enemy. People die, the things they fight over are soon forgotten, but water’s a creeping, seeping thing; it gathers together, puddles the land, forever trying to make itself a pond, a lake. Happen it were a bad decision they made to drain Martin Mere all those hundreds of years ago because we’ve had to fight it ever since with ditches and drains, hard labour, one eye cocked to the sky looking for clouds, yet it’s grand land when it’s cared for. You get what you give and my family’s give everything to New Cut farm – till now.
I can’t believe our Tom, wanting to sell up. There’s been Culshaws on this land for over two hundred years. It’s a good job Albert’s not here to see things come to this. All our married life we slaved to keep on top of the farm and now, the fields are left to rack and ruin; strangers’ horses grazing here and that Diane running rings round our Tom, spending the money Albert and me helped him save. A pond in the front garden, with a Chinese pagoda in it, if you please and fancy shrubs everywhere.
It doesn’t bear thinking about, all that expense and her’s still not satisfied. Now she’s wanting Tom to move away. What does she know of the way we worked? She’s a townie, never got her hands dirty in her life. I were on the land from a very young girl, weeding, shovelling muck, bagging up spuds and all for no pay, neither.
‘ Alice, you’ll get your reward, when I’m gone,’ Dad used to say and it were true, Bert and I did get the farm but not till Bert were in his forties and already struggling with his chest. I thought it best to let Tom have the farm after Bert died. There weren’t no one else to give it to and I couldn’t manage it on my own. After all, he loves that land just the same as I do and while he were married to Christine, everything were fine, she were a good, sensible girl. Her family had Saunders Farm out at Holmeswood. She knew the value of land, but like any woman she wanted a baby and no baby come.
It’s like something in our family, that, because Lord knows I waited a long time for our Tom to come along, thirteen years of marriage, so that when he did come he were like a little miracle.
‘Be patient, girl,’ I said to Christine, ‘it’ll come.’ She waited ten years before her went off. Tom were in the fields spraying the barley and he seen her going up the road with Dad’s old suitcase and when he got back to the house, there were a note on the mantelpiece, telling him she’d met someone else.
It turned out to be Snoakes the butcher from Ormskirk and off she went to live in the town and before you could say boo her belly were up like a balloon. There were barely time for the divorce to come through and for her to get married before the baby arrived. I wanted to hate her for leaving Tom like that but I know what it’s like to hunger for a child and no child come. Sometimes I see her in the village, laughing with her boy and I dream of how it might have been with a child here on the farm again to carry on the line, how Tom would be happy and settled.
He turned silent and sour after she left, not that he’d ever been one to say much, bit like his grandfather. He were sullen even with me, so that I were glad at first, when Diane come along and made him smile again.
He met her in the Legion club. Oh her likes drinking and dancing and gadding about all right and there’s another thing. Our Tom never used to touch a drop only round Christmas time but after Christine left he took to going into the village Saturday nights for a bit of company.
He didn’t say nothing for a long time but I knew when I seen him sporting a new haircut, all stuck up in the latest fashion. I always cut his hair for him before, same as I used to cut Bert’s.
Then Minnie Bickerstaffe told me at the church club as she’d seen him coming out of Diane’s Den, the new hairdresser’s on the High Street, but it were only when Bob Adams tipped me the wink that he’d seen the two of them spooning in the Indian restaurant that I found out it were Diane herself that he were stuck on.
I were right put out at first. Her family are in Liverpool, bog Irish I shouldn’t wonder but she were sweet as a nut to me at first, taking me shopping in her car and out for trips to Southport and Blackpool, places I’d never been since I were a young lass courting Bert.
I were taken in. I’m not one to suffer fools gladly. I’ve always prided myself on being able to spot a rogue a mile off, but her’s a smart one with a silver tongue when she wants something. I were so pleased to see our Tom looking happy and it were true she brought sunshine with her into my life too after Bert died.
We’d always loved each other, me and Bert, good strong working love, not the sloppy romantic stuff you see on telly. The cottage seemed dark and empty after he’d gone, even though he got on my nerves when he were alive with his cough and his aches and pains. I’d got used to being on my own after eight years but all the upheaval of Christine going off and Tom meeting Diane unsettled me and brought the old loneliness back. At first it were grand to have the company of another woman even though she weren’t no help to Tom with the farmwork at all.
The good times didn’t last. Soon as she’d wangled her way in to the farm, things started to change. First, the house; all the good furniture Dad and Mother had were thrown out and burned, then it were decorators, kitchen fitters, new bathroom, it went on for a year. I cringed at the thought of the expense but every time I tried to say owt, our Tom cut me down.
Next it were the gardens, and after that holidays, her and Tom going off together for weekends, now she’s got Mary to run the shop on Saturdays. Half the time they’re away and I’m left here, seventy-five years old, to look after myself.
There’s all kinds of people wandering around here at night. It used to be quiet and peaceful except for the odd poacher, but we knew who they were and we mostly let them be, they rid the land of vermin, but nowadays it’s strangers with guns wandering the footpaths all hours of the night. There’s kids coming down here in cars, drinking and taking drugs down by the canal and flytippers in the middle of the night when they think no one can see them. If they’ll come doing that who knows what else they might do, creeping about while we’re all in bed? Annie Chapman told me there’s a drugs baron gone and bought old Maitland’s farm out at Roughlea but I can’t credit that. Still, Tom says it’s true. Such terrible things you read in the papers too about old people being attacked by drug addicts desperate for cash. Our Tom never thinks to ring and see if I’m all right. If I didn’t have Blondie, I don’t know what I’d do. Things come to a pretty pass when you got to rely on a dog for security.
Now, every time I do see them, she’s looking at houses in the paper and our Tom’s grumbling that there’s no money in farming any more. Oh, I can see the way the wind’s blowing all right, but there’s no way I’m budging. Let them go if they want. I’m staying I’ve always been here.