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A story about the 15

October 6, 2016

A short Salzburg  Story about the enigmatic number 15 bus which is now the 27  or is it the 21? 

One Friday afternoon, I was running home from school so fast that I tripped up on the curb and twisted my ankle.

“Enjoy your trip?” came a voice from behind me and a big arm in a pink plaster cast helped me to my feet.

“Ha ha, very funny,” I thought hopping madly along the pavement.

I still managed a gritted smile and to say thank-you.

I saw the number fifteen bus at the bus stop and, deciding the pain in my jilted joint was too much to bear, I climbed onto it and hauled myself onto the back seat.

“How strange,” I thought,” the engine is running but there’s no driver.”

It was then I espied a small felt hat with spikey grey hair sticking out the sides.  The owner of the hat was so small that she (it was a ladies’ hat, although I know that does not mean anything, but well I was just trying to assess the situation) was completely hidden from view. I presumed she had a dog as I could hear snuffling noises from behind the seat.  Or may be she had a cold.  I was not sure.

“Hello ?” I called from the back of the bus.

The hat swung round and was followed by two black hairy ears which popped up from behind the seat.  It reminded me a bit of our toaster, although our toast is not usually as hairy or as black as those ears were. But sometimes it is.

I could just see two pairs of eyes watching me from behind the seat so I asked if they knew the whereabouts of the driver.

“Do you know where the driver is?” I enquired.

“Woof,” said the dog.  Or may be it was the old lady. I was not sure.

“Do you think he will come back soon?” I continued.

“I blooming well hope so,” came a grumpy reply.

“If that driver does not come in thirty seconds I am going to drive the thing myself…”

I counted thirty and looked up again.  Sure enough, the hat moved.  Two legs appeared from behind the seat and a little old lady  (I had been right about the hat) jumped out and made her way to the front of the bus. The dog followed, wagging his tail in anticipation.

“Now then, I haven’t driven one of these things since the war.  I hope I can still do it – it can’t be so different today. Right – clutch, gears, handbrake, indicator…..anything coming ?”


“Well, off we go then.”

I am too young to remember if buses are the same today as they were during the war.

I presume they are not because the little old lady started off at such a speed that we soon seemed to be out of control. We were actually on two wheels as we went around the corner.

I heard a lot of swearing and barking coming from the front of the bus, but I could not make out what exactly was being said. We were roaring towards the other side of town at this point. We hurtled, swerved and zig-zagged through town followed by angry shouts and raised fists.  I am glad I was not on my bike that day because I think it must have been quite frightening for those who were.

The lady asked me if I was alright and I replied that I was fine.

She then asked me if I would mind stopping off at the graveyard and I replied I did not mind at all.

We finally screeched to a halt at the graveyard.

“Are you coming with me?” asked the lady.

“Will you be long ?” I replied.

“Not as long as the rest of’ em lying around here…” she hoped.

“I just want to visit a friend,” she continued.

“O.K.”I said.


We found the friend’s grave quite quickly. It was old and covered in green moss.  On it was engraved the name “Lily Lane” and then some dates when she fell asleep.  I knew that was just a nicer way of saying she had died.

The graveyard was a very peaceful place to rest but there was no time for that.

Out of her basket, my friend took a tiny Christmas tree and a trowel and started to dig a hole at the foot of the grave. She planted the tree and put a small silver star on the top of it.

“Merry Christmas , Lily, sweetheart.” she said in a quiet, grave tone and her lips rested, momentarily  warming the headstone.

I kept quiet for that while.

Before we left, I was given a bag of crumbs and we scattered them all around Lily Lane’s grave.  Scarcely had the crumbs hit the ground, the birds came to feast.  They squabbled and chirruped and squeaked with delight (or perhaps it was greed) and we watched them for a while as they performed their Christmas symphony for Lily.

Finally it was time to leave.

“Can I drop you off anywhere?”

I named the nearest stop to my house and we drove there.

“I hope it was no trouble for you,” I said.

It obviously was no trouble.  Indeed, the old lady was in gear.


I loved her for that.


I jumped off the bus and waved good-bye until it was out of sight.

I often wonder who that lady was… and if she ever took the number fifteen bus again.


Children’s Picture Books? by Helen Macfarlane

August 9, 2015

Books of a whimsical nature. Children won’t understand them at all


princess mavis princess mavis

hair-of-the-dog hair-of-the-dog



July 11, 2015

TURA SATANA BIRTHDAY HOMAGE Join us to make her dream come true!

The Dark Manner

March 18, 2015


drawing 7

I’ve been working on some ‘manier noir’ drawings. The name means ‘in the dark manner’ and usually refers to the printmaking technique of mezzotint. I stretched the paper onto a wall originally, gave it 2 coats of gesso and when dry, I rubbed it all over with graphite block, then a rag dipped in turpentine to get a smooth slightly metallic finish. The drawing is done with wire wool and aluminium oxide paper, or fine sandpaper, removing the highlights and  paler tones. It’s a type of reductive drawing. One of the photos in the slideshow below shows how big the paper is, but I’m planning on getting three smaller drawings from it.

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Hassamboulia Review in Maroni News Sheet

January 13, 2015

Bill Macfarlane



By Bill Macfarlane

The time: the 1890s. The place:the Wild West. A time and place

well known for banditry, stock thefts and general lawlessness. A gang

of outlaws is hiding in the hills, evading capture and committing murders

and abductions; sometimes for money, sometimes just for the hell of it. The

gang, known as the Hassamboulia, is led by two brothers, whose elder brother,

Hassan Poli is languishing in jail. The boys’ mother helps to keep the younger

boys out of the way of the law, possibly even encourages them.

No, this is not Ma Baker and her boys, nor the James brothers. For this is the

wild west of Cyprus, the valleys and villages of the Paphos District in the

early days of British rule.

Bill Macfarlane has taken facts, legends, and research carried out

some forty years later, and mixing them with speculation…

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Resonating Stones: now available on Kindle as well as in print from this blog.

October 5, 2014

Bill Macfarlane

TheJacketsmlResonating Stones by Bill Macfarlane.

The narrator, art critic for a Cypriot magazine, interviews an Irish sculptress who expresses the power of stone to store and re-transmit resonances of emotionally charged events. He sneers at this but, at the ensuing exhibition of the woman’s work, he and his partner experience unsettling effects. Soon after he is plunged into a serial nightmare about sinister events in his own past that he is obliged to record in the form of stories that become progressively more disturbing. These stories are linked by a thread that tells of growing obsession, and of a paranoia that threatens his sanity, and the safety of his partner. Originally published in paper back in 2000, Resonating Stones now appears under a new cover designed by Ngaio Macfarlane.

Resonating Stones is a collection of ghost stories, that mines the rich vein of Cyprus history and folk-lore. Places, such as…

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Don’t Look Now! A few gems still available in my little etsy space

September 11, 2014

Don't Look Know!


Click Sphynx to enter shop….

You saw Helen’s latest works now see some of the Ngaio’s past paintings!

August 26, 2014


Latest works can be seen and are for sale here!

August 26, 2014

52 Shades of Grey

March 4, 2014

52 Shades of Grey, a set on Flickr.

Work in Progress by Helen …