I am currently researching and writing the first few pieces for my second manuscript, which will hopefully be published as my first full collection. It is currently using the working title ‘Jack/John’, and expands on some of the folklore, mythology, and local history explored in Bella.

My hope for this longer manuscript is that I will have the space to tell more of the intriguing stories which arose during my research into Bella and the Wych Elm. The area in focus will not expand much further than it did in Bella: the Clent Hills and Wychbury hillfort, the rural towns of Hagley and Pedmore, and the outskirts of the industrial Black Country. Yet, rather than following the single (if rather nebulous) character of Bella, it will follow the journeys of two different characters: Jack, from the world of mayhem, mumming, and bedlam; and John, from the more spiritual world of augury, deities, and dreams.

Our birth is said to have been secret, our fostering and nurture in our infancy still more strange; by birds and beasts…

Plutarch

‘Bad friend’ – the flaky, peeling skin around a fingernail

Lichtenberg figures

Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, 
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet 
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court? 
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam, 
The seasons’ difference; as the icy fang 
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind, 
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say 
‘This is no flattery; these are counsellors 
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’ 
Sweet are the uses of adversity, 
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; 
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything. 
I would not change it.

‘Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.’



One reason for adapting/appropriating a Shakespearean text is to ‘raise the possibility that other stories might be told, both by it and alongside it’. – Alan Sinfield

Cruentation (Latin: “ius cruentationis”) is the belief was that the body of the victim would spontaneously bleed in the presence of the murderer. The body and the blood are in love; murder servers that bond, and the blood rushes out to wreak revenge on the murderer.