Category Archives: Short stories

The Alternative (and true) Legend of Medusa & Perseus.


Most of you will be familiar with the legend of Medusa and her snakeyfied locks with a look that could turn men to stone. But are you aware of how she came by her serpenty hairdo? Well, wonder no more.

With the exception of the poet, Sappho, most ancient Greek scribes were men. And, as is typical of most men, women don’t fair too well in their myths and fables. This is my attempt to redress the balance a little bit.

The Alternative (and true) Legend of Medusa and Perseus.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Perseus crept stealthily through the tunnels of Medusa’s grim cave, sword extended before him, eyes peeled wide over the rim of his shield trying to absorb as much light as possible. He clung to the mirrored shield Athena had given him to protect against the serpent-headed monster. Perseus brushed against something solid. It felt like a statue. But on closer inspection it was the petrified figure of another warrior seeking fame and glory.

Perseus had been sent on his quest by King Polydectes of Seriphos in order that he might fail and leave his mother free to marry the king. However, King Polydectes had not counted on divine intervention from the goddess Athena. “Do not look directly into Medusa’s eyes,” she had warned him. “Otherwise, you will be turned to stone just like the countless others who have tried before you. Use the mirror to see where she is, then cut off her head. But, be careful, Perseus, she is wily and cunning and will use all her powers to trick you.”

The orange glow of a torch began to illuminate the far end of the tunnel. Cautiously, Perseus edged towards the light. The closer he got, he began to hear the sound of sniffling. Closer still, he detected the sound of a woman crying. He could see that the tunnel opened into a cavernous space. Perseus turned around and held the mirrored shield before him so that he might see behind him into the cavern. He angled the mirror and saw a woman seated at a dressing table with her head in her hands, weeping.

“Have you come to kill me?” came a muffled voice.

As he adjusted his grip on the mirror, Perseus saw the serpents slowly uncoiling. “I am Perseus, of Mycenae. I mean you no harm, good lady. I am a weary traveller and merely seeking shelter until the storm passes.”

The hunched woman chuckled. “‘You mean me no harm, is that so?” she said. “Then why do you approach with your sword drawn?”

“It pays to be cautious when entering an unknown labyrinth such as this, my lady.”

“Well, as you can see, I am quite alone. You may sheath your weapon now.”

Perseus scanned the cave for Medusa’s two monstrous sisters, Stheno and Euryale, but they were nowhere to be seen. 

Medusa straightened herself up and looked in the burnished mirror of her dresser at Perseus, who flinched, stealing himself against attack. “You need not worry, brave Perseus,” she mocked. “My reflection cannot harm you. Only if I stare directly into your eyes will you become petrified. But then, you know that already. Otherwise, you would not be approaching so covertly with your own mirror.”

“It is Athena’s mirror,” he said, proudly. “The goddess is my protectress.”

“Ah, the goddess Athena,” Medusa said wistfully. “It was she who cursed me to be like this.”

“You defiled her temple by fornicating with the god Poseidon!” Perseus exclaimed.

“Is that what she told you?” Medusa let a wry smile cross her lips. “Poseidon raped me in Athena’s temple whilst I was making an offering to her. 

“When he took my virginity, he took my ability to serve as her priestess, so she cast me out! 

“And yet, she took no action against her uncle. Nor sought reparation from her father, Zeus. Instead, she chose to punish me with these accursed snakes!”

“I … did not know that,” Perseus said. “I’m sure the great, benevolent goddess had her reasons,” he said, composing himself.

“Yes, jealousy being one of them.”

“Why would a goddess be jealous of a lowly mortal such as you?”

“When I begged Poseidon to intercede on my behalf, he said it was because of my beauty. She wanted to make it so that no man could ever look upon me with desire again without facing instant death.”

Perseus studied her face in the reflection of his shield and tried to visualise her without the hideous snakes for locks. Instead, he imagined long golden curls cascading about her shoulders, framing her oval face. She was more than a match for any divinity. It was not difficult to see why the gods would be envious of her.

“But you could help me, Perseus,” she pleaded.

“Help you how?” he inquired. 

“Take me to Lesbos! It’s an island populated only by women. My curse does not work on women – it only petrifies men.”

“Why only men?”

“Because women don’t try to rape me or cut off my head!”

Perseus shifted uneasily. “What would be in it for me?”

“Hundreds of warriors have come here to claim my head as a prize and all have failed. The treasure from their abandoned ships would be yours.” Medusa said.

Perseus contemplated the vast wealth within his grasp.

“Plus, everyone knows you defeated the Minotaur of Crete, you are already a legend. Perhaps you will also be famous for your compassion as well as bravery.”

“But it was Athena who gave me this mirrored shield. She said you would try to trick me!”

“Trick you how? It was she who turned me into this monster in a fit of rage, when it was I who was wronged!” Medusa sobbed. “I do not wish to live if this is how I am to be. Skulking in dank caves for eternity, fending off assassins like you trying to claim my head as a prize. You may as well take it now!”

Perseus saw his chance and raised his sword. Medusa instinctively spun around and, before Perseus could swing his blade, she was upon him, her snakes coiled around his throat. Medusa stood behind the great Perseus as he gasped for air. He looked at her reflection through his bulging eyes and saw torment and despair in her face. A snake slid down his sword arm and wrapped itself around his wrist, squeezing until he was forced to release his grip and it hit the rock floor with a clang.

“You know,” she whispered in his ear. “I could force you to look into my eyes.” A snake began twisting Perseus’ neck around toward her. He squeezed his eyes tightly. “Perhaps the gods don’t want me revealing the truth about what they’ve done to me?”

“I’ll take you!” Perseus yielded.

Medusa sensed deception. 

“I give you my word,” Perseus gasped. “I shall surrender my weapons to you for the duration of the voyage if you give me your word you will not petrify my crew and I.”

“And what of Polydectes? He will need a head.”

“We could trick him.”

“You mean, murder an innocent maiden?”

“No, no! One recently deceased. We could thread snakes through her skull.”

“The skull would contain no power, unlike mine.”

“I could say it was a myth. Once you had been decapitated all your powers died with you.”

Medusa walked slowly back to her dresser, her head bowed in contemplation. Perseus glanced at his sword lying on the ground, but dismissed the treacherous thought. “You could live out the rest of your days in the light. Without the need to hide in the shadows, nor fear trophy-hunting men.”

“Like you?” she smiled.

“Like me,” Perseus bowed his head slightly.

“There is something you should know before we set sail on the high seas.”

“What is it?”

“I am pregnant with Poseidon’s child,” Medusa said. “If he finds out while we are at sea, he may not take kindly to you and your crew aiding me.”

Perseus picked up his sword. Medusa flinched as he walked toward her. But Perseus got down on one knee and offered up his sword in his palms. “Then we shall have to be cautious and travel in disguise. Wear a hooded cloak and veil. Your sisters can act as your attendants.”

It’s unknown whether Perseus delivered Medusa to the Isle of Lesbos. Legend would have us believe that Perseus sailed to Seriphos with what he claimed was Medusa’s head and presented it to King Polydectes shortly before chopping off his head. In the ensuing commotion the head was conveniently lost, or so it seems. 

Sailors who unloaded their cargo at Lesbos heard tales that Medusa was befriended by the great poet Sappho and gave birth to Poseidon’s children – Pegasus, the winged horse who was seen flying above the island’s mountains before departing for Mount Olympus to be by Zeus’ side. And his twin brother, Chrysaor whom Medusa and Sappho raised as their own child until he was old enough to be called a ‘man’ and had to leave the island for his own safety. Whereupon, he was known as Golden Sword and travelled to far off lands in search of his own fame and glory.

At first, Medusa wore a headscarf and veil when she ventured out on the streets of Lesbos. But Sappho, and the other women, begged that she take them off and let the world see her for who she really was: Medusa – the woman, whose beauty, even the gods were afraid.

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The Legend of the Patron Saint of Knitting.


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The Legend of the Patron Saint of Knitting and the Sheep Girl.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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A long, long time ago, there was a young girl, about 14-ish, who was a shepherdess. She was a diligent girl who worked hard for her family and was thankful for the meagre things she had. If she had one tiny flaw, it was that she was slightly envious of other girls’ names. Ones who had names that meant things like ‘starlight’ or ‘princess of flowers’. Because pretty much everyone called her ‘sheep girl’. Apart from that, she was happy enough looking after her woolly friends. 

After the sheep girl had tended her flock and safely rounded them up for the night she would spend the evening with her mother knitting in front of the hearth. She loved to knit with the fleece from her flock. She made clothes for all the family and for most of the villagers too.

Then, one day, a rider came galloping through the valley hailing that he had important news. Sheep girl hurried home as fast as she could, (with the sheep scampering behind her). All the people of the village were gathered around the fountain in the square, where the rider was breathlessly proclaiming the news that a vast army was approaching from the west. That it grew in size and wealth after each town and citadel that it sacked and plundered. No one knew why it was coming, or why it was gobbling up everything in its path, and either killing or enslaving everyone, but coming it was. And it was unstoppable.

The only good news the rider brought, was that the invading army was still many miles away and there were lots of towns, villages and citadels in the way of the behemoth before it reached their paltry village.

The sheep girl wanted to help her village, but she felt powerless, so she carried on the business of tending her sheep while wracking her brain for ideas until, one day, one of her flock went missing. She searched all over the valley but could not find the stray anywhere. Next, she tried the slopes of the valley, to no avail. She climbed higher up the mountain until the ground became so rocky and spartan that she needed her staff to gain purchase on the skittery rocks. Eventually, she came across the mouth of a cave with an eerie yellow glow emanating from within. Tentatively, she walked inside, and there was her missing sheep, Mathilda. But her fleece shone with the brilliance of gold. As she approached the nonchalant sheep, she realised that its fleece was, in fact, actual gold! So fine and delicate was the thread it felt like silk.

The sheep girl knew of a legend from her childhood that a great warrior would come down from the mountain one day to save the village from calamity. Was this a sign, she thought. That the hero was indeed about to appear before her? And was this sheep a portent to his impending arrival? Then, she was struck with the idea of how she could help the village and the great would-be saviour. She would knit him a suit of golden chainmail armour so strong that it would be impenetrable to arrow, axe or sword! She sheared, spun and knitted all day and all night until the gleaming suit of chainmail was complete.

Then she waited.

And waited.

But the hero did not come.

And the billowing plumes of smoke from sacked cities on the horizon grew closer day by day.

She stared down at her village from the mouth of the cave as she absentmindedly ran her fingers through the shorn fleece of Mathilda. Then she felt the sheep’s head pull away. The sheep girl looked down at Mathilda who gently nudged her hand with her head. Then she turned and trundled back into the cave, stopping occasionally, to check whether the sheep girl was following her. Mathilda stopped before the golden mail neatly folded on the rock. When the sheep girl arrived next to her, Mathilda pushed the mail toward her with her nose. Sheep girl laughed, ‘I can’t wear it, Mathilda. It’s for the great warrior who’s coming to save us!’ But Mathilda trotted behind the sheep girl and butted her toward the suit. 

‘Well, I guess there’s no harm in trying it on, little miss bossy britches,’ she said to Mathilda. The sheep girl lifted the hauberk over her head and found that it was surprisingly light for a shirt made of precious metal. Next, she pulled the coif over her head, neck and shoulders so that only her resplendent face was visible. She held out her arms and turned around. ‘What do you think, Tilda?’ she asked. ‘It fits pretty well, even if I do say so myself.’ 

Mathilda bowed her head and stroked the ground with her hoof. 

‘Alas, I have no sword to smite my enemies,’ she joked. Then she noticed her staff leaning against the cave wall and another idea fell upon her. She took up her knitting needles and sharpened the points of them with her shears until they were sharp enough to pierce the mountain itself. Then she attached them to the head of the staff with golden thread. 

Outside, the wheels of war grew ever louder as the mighty trebuchets of the invaders drew closer. Great columns of dust rose behind the cavalry as their hooves thundered across the plain. Drummers beat a rhythm for the massed ranks of infantry to march to. Buglers trumpeted the impending triumph of their mighty army. Heraldic banners fluttered in the wind. Sheep girl’s heart began to race as she paced the cave. Slate grey storm clouds gathered overhead and the tumultuous air was charged with electricity.

The sheep girl stepped out of the cave with her bident held aloft and beheld the vast invading hoard below, stretched out as far as the eye could see. What could she, a mere shepherdess, do against such a foe? Just then, the clouds began to part and a great beam of sunlight burst through and illuminated the sheep girl in her golden chainmail. The light refracted off the individual chinks and split into a myriad of shards of light, blinding the soldiers below and burning out their retinas. Those that were not blinded either fell prostrate before the angelic warrior from the heavens or turned and fled the battlefield in fear of the gods’ divine retribution. Then, a terrifying bolt of lightning cracked from the sky connecting to the sheep girl’s bident and the landscape turned a scintillating white. And, just like that, she disappeared.

Nothing was ever found of the shepherdess, except for her charred golden chainmail and scorched bident. In the years that followed, people from all over the land went on pilgrimages to the mountain to pay their respects to their saviour. Theologians and philosophers came from far and wide to beatify her in some form or another and bickered over how best to honour her name. Even though she was the golden warrior of light and had conquered the greatest army the world had ever seen, it was her dedication to her flock and her love of knitting that she would be remembered most, as La Cher, the Patron Saint of Knitting. 

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Japan tsunami – in memoriam


It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11th 2011 claiming the lives of 18,500 people.

Here are some incredible before and after shots capturing the devastation and the rebuilding that’s gone on in the past decade.

At the time, all I could do was write a poem as I, like billions around the globe, bore witness to the calamitous event unfolding before us.

I felt impotent. I tried to sell prints of my poem for $1 online to raise funds, to no avail.

I wished I was something useful like a doctor or a nurse, or a rescue worker that could do something practical to help.

Then I thought of all the creative people I had encountered during my long career as an art director in the advertising industry and I asked them for help. The response was phenomenal. I got donations of works of art from all over the world to be put into an auction to raise money for the Red Cross who were working on the ground over there.

Less than a month later, we held the Japan Art Auction at Jonathan Oakes photography studio in Manchester, hosted by The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. It was an incredible success and, thanks to a great many people, we raised quite a few grand.

A lot has changed in 10 years. As you can see by the photos in The Guardian link above.

Things have changed for me too. I am now a Nursing Assistant at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

And, whilst my poem did not raise a single dollar, it did inspire Austrian composer Albors Pascal Askari to write this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. All the proceeds from which also went to the Japan relief effort.

And, unbeknownst to me, my poem was on the English curriculum at several schools in London for a couple of years.

Who says poetry can’t make a difference?

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Ten Orbits of the Sun – update.


Well, I didn’t progress further than the shortlist for the Mind Short Story Competition. Still, I’m very proud to have made it this far.

Anyhoo, a few folks said they would like to read my short story, so here it is. The theme for the competition was ‘Journeys’, either literal or metaphorical.

P.S. I’ll always be grateful to Mike O’Toole for his stunning front cover photography.

P.P.S. Here’s a quote from a Mind judge/organiser:

“Believe me, I was definitely rooting for 10 Orbits of the Sun to go through to the judges. Both myself and one of the shortlisters cried reading your story. It was so beautifully written and emotive.”

Ten Orbits of the Sun.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Something changes inside of you when you have a child. Obviously, things change inside of a woman, quite literally. But I’m talking about changing from a man’s point of view – philosophically.

Up until my late thirties, I never wanted kids. Why would I? They’d be a burden. I had a fabulous career, a few great friends, a fantastic salary and a nice little crash pad overlooking a languid river.

Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I got all broody. And I just wanted a baby. Specifically, a baby girl. I don’t know why I wanted a girl. Perhaps I found the thought of a rambunctious boy quite off-putting. Or maybe it was because I didn’t want a boy to turn out like his father.

It stands to reason that I had to find a suitable mother first, which took a little longer than I had anticipated. I met Suki on an online dating website and, as we were both pushing forty, we decided it would be prudent to start a family sooner rather than later. We had a lot in common, we both loved the arts and books, she even shared my passion for antiques. She worked at the local hospital as an ER nurse, while I worked in a large design agency working on global brand campaigns. When we got married I decided to quit the industry and open up an antique shop in a trendy part of town. Something I’d dreamed of doing since my twenties.

Anyhow, I got my wish. And I was the proud father of little Tallulah. When I said that something changes inside of you, I meant that something changes chemically as well as philosophically. Nothing else, nor anyone else, matters quite so much in the world. Every cell in your body is geared toward protecting this little being. It starts from the moment of conception. I used to sing lullabies to Suki’s tummy and recite poetry to her. I’d talk to her and tell her how much I loved her and how much I was looking forward to seeing her. It’s a love that’s hard to describe. You would do anything for your charge. Yes, even kill for them. Die for them. It’s quite primeval on one level. Yet deeply spiritual on another. I can understand why some parents conceal their children from the law if they have committed a crime.

Sure, not all parents feel this way. And I’m not trying to say that I’m unique in feeling like this. Plenty of parents are doting and plenty are neglectful.

It was three years before I had a full night’s sleep or a hot meal. I’d be bouncing Tallulah on my left knee to keep her entertained whilst trying to eat a bowl of lukewarm pasta with my right hand. Or driving her around the suburbs to get her off to sleep. Every day brought a new parenting challenge or experience. Like the time I pursed my lips and asked her to give me a ‘smacker’, so she slapped me across the face! Or the time she pulled at my cheek and asked: “Daddy, why is your skin like a raw chicken drumstick?” Charming.

Because I’d had a child later in life, other parents in the park would ask if I was her grandad. It didn’t help that I’d gone grey early in life. She found it funny at first, but as time went on I think it began to annoy her. That I wasn’t like the other dads who were all much younger than me. It used to worry me that I might not be around for her later in life – when she was at university, or if she got married, if she had children. I wondered if I had been selfish having a child so late on.

I watched my little girl flourish and blossom over the years. She was a happy kid. Loved to read. Loved to write her own stories. She’d make little 8-page books and fill them with fairy tales and drawings. She loved to ride her bike and occasionally we’d go to McEvoy’s farm and she’d ride Ruby, the chestnut brown mare. She didn’t care much for video games or TV either and would much prefer to concoct experiments out of things she’d find in the garden and around the house.

I remember one time, when we were going for a drive in the desert in my old jalopy, she’d said: “Daddy, how far is it around the sun?”

“What? The Earth’s orbit?” I’d said.

“Yes.”

“About 585 million miles, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. Depends on the time of year, I think.” I turned the volume down on the car stereo so I could hear my inquisitive daughter better.

“Why does it depend on the time of year?” she said, turning the volume back up again so she could hear the trashy pop song that was playing.

“Not a hundred percent sure. Something to do with the ellipse of the Earth’s orbit,” I tried to draw an ellipse in the dust on the dashboard. “And the tilt of the Earth’s axis.” Astronomy isn’t my strong point and I got the distinct impression that Tallulah guessed I was busking a little.

Tallulah looked out of the open passenger window from behind her sunglasses at the scorched desert dotted with parched brush and spindly shrubs.

I stole a glance at the side of her pensive face, her golden hair was tantalising her cheeks. “Why d’you ask?”

“By my next birthday, I will have travelled 5.8 billion miles around the sun. Pretty amazing, huh?”

I pursed my lips. “When you look at it like that, kiddo, it is pretty amazing.”

“And that’s not including all the miles we’ve done down here on Earth,” she said wistfully.

I didn’t know how many miles we’d clocked up on Earth, and, in the great scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t affect Tallulah’s ‘orbital total’ very much. But it was still a significant amount for mere Earth dwellers.

I don’t know why this memory of my daughter springs to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s to do with heavenly bodies. The very fact that she came up with this concept amazed me. She could often be very abstract in her thinking. While other kids were busy playing with Barbie dolls, Tallulah was calculating how far she’d travelled in the universe. I always imagined her growing up to be a great children’s writer one day. Or maybe even a scientist.

Tallulah didn’t make it into double figures before she was taken from me. It was that God-damned bike I’d bought for her ninth birthday. She was cycling home from school when a truck cut her up at some traffic lights. The driver said he didn’t see her coming up on the inside.

I’d always been uncomfortable with her riding to and from school. Not because she was a careless rider but because of careless drivers. However, her friends all did it, so she wanted to do it too. I guess I should have been a stronger father and forbidden it. Up until then I’d always dropped her off and picked her from school in the car. But peer pressure had reluctantly forced me to concede.

I was at the shop when it happened. I don’t know, but around the time of the accident, I recall being overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Like, somehow I’d had this telepathic connection with her, or something. Sounds ludicrous, I know. Though, I didn’t put it down to anything bad having befallen my little girl at the time. I just thought it was due to my mood swings.

I got a phone call from my distraught wife about an hour later. She had been working in the ER department when Tallulah was brought in. It was hard to make out what Suki was actually trying to tell me through her hysterical sobs. When the penny finally dropped, I felt the world disappear from beneath my feet and I was suddenly floating in a black void. I was dizzy. I felt my insides twitch and heave and I vomited over a glass cabinet containing antique duelling pistols. I think the customers must have thought I was hungover as they stared at me disdainfully and left the shop.

I closed the store and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. The truck had already crushed the precious life out of her. Had the driver been there when I found out I imagine I would have killed him. Not that I would do that now, having had time to reflect on the incident. I know it was an accident. He didn’t mean to kill her. But he should’ve taken more care. Particularly at that time of day, being near a school and all.

I have never known grief like it.

I don’t believe in heaven and hell.

But this was hell.

The depths of Christian hell could not provide me with such torment. I went over all of the things that I might possibly have done for Tallulah not to have been at that particular spot at that particular moment in time. Not buying her the bike was top of the list. Me picking her up was a second. Taking gymnastics class on a Tuesday instead of violin on a Wednesday was another. Or letting her go to her friend Maisie’s house after school so she would have taken a different route. There were an infinite amount of possibilities. Of variables that would have put her at a different point in the universe at that moment in time. And I didn’t take any of them. It was my fault, not the truck driver’s.

As you can imagine, my wife was inconsolable too. But I had to put on a more stoic face for everyone else: the police, doctors, funeral directors, family, friends. I know people mean well by wanting to offer their condolences, but the last thing we wanted to do at that time was talk to anybody. Shout – yes. Scream – definitely. Why? Why Tallulah? What had she ever done to anybody? To me, it was further proof that there is no god. How could an all-powerful, loving deity let a beautifully perfect little girl be killed in such a horrific way? What the hell was the point of existence?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some form of afterlife. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps we’re reincarnated. Or, maybe we rise to a higher dimension. I once had the notion that the afterlife was an emotion rather than a place. Sort of like ecstasy or bliss. That one’s spirit melded back into the universe in a kind of eternal rapture. Most likely, there will be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s a chance I’m not prepared to take.

Of course, I haven’t discussed this with Suki. What would she say? She’d say I was being irrational. And I guess I am. No rational person decides to take their own life. She’d say I needed to see a doctor. That I was depressed. Not thinking straight. Get some pills or bereavement counselling. On the other hand, I could also see why my thinking is completely rational. It wasn’t fair on Suki, I know that. To lose a child and a husband. But what choice do I have?

You know what I miss the most about Tallulah? It’s a sound. Specifically, a word. It’s a word I’ll never hear ever again: “Daddy.” There isn’t a more perfect sound in the entire universe. Perhaps her mother would disagree.

Like I said at the beginning – having a child changes you. You’d do anything to protect them. And I have failed in that respect. Why should my parental duties end in this life? Lots of religious people believe in heaven and hell. But they don’t think twice about giving up on their dead loved ones. If their faith was so resolute why wouldn’t they follow them to paradise?

Perhaps Tallulah and I will both spend eternity in black nothingness. In which case, it won’t matter a jot to either of us. But if there is something else, I’m certainly not going to let my beloved daughter wander the afterlife all by herself.

What kind of father would I be?

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I [heart] America


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…

MUSIC

From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?

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Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?

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As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold

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Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen

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Vivian Maier

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Ansel Adams

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Cindy Sherman

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Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.

ADVERTISING

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Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)

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Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.

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Jean Michel Basquiat

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Edward Hopper

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Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.

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I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.

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I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?

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What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.

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You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?

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Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)

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There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.

 

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The gift of the notebook


If you’ve read my previous post you’ll be aware that I’m going through a period of ‘writer’s block’, so I’ve been dabbling with a paintbrush instead.

Another thing I’ve been doing is going through some old notebooks. I have scores (if not hundreds) strewn around the house in various boxes, on bookshelves, in bags and suitcases, cupboards and wardrobes.

I always have a notebook on the go to jot down ideas or do a little sketch in. The problem is, I hardly ever look back on them. I guess the thinking is, that if the idea didn’t present itself at the time, then it was probably a rubbish idea. For the most part, this is true. But, occasionally, a little gem pokes its head to the surface. (And, wasn’t that the point of the notebook in the first place?)

I came across a poem I wrote in 2000. I can see why I didn’t take it any further at the time, but with a bit of jiggery-pokery I think I’ve got something quite nice. (See below the photo.)

So, the moral of the story is:

  1. Always carry a notebook.
  2. Don’t leave it 16 years to revisit them.
  3. Good ideas will present themselves in the end.

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DENIAL

By David Milligan-Croft

 

I inhale your words as you exhale them.

And I place them into separate categories:

Those that I wish to retain,

And those which I do not.

 

Words such as ‘terminate’ and ‘over’,

I place into the carbon dioxide pile,

To be expelled into the universe

As quickly as possible.

 

But the words of love and affection

I send directly into my bloodstream,

To feed my heart and my brain,

Keeping my soul sane, for a few moments longer.

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Get 43,415 words FREE!


That’s right, my collection of short stories, Ten Orbits of the Sun is F.R.E.E. for a limited time only.

Not only do you get 13 tantalising tall tales for gratis, you also get a sample chapter of my latest novel, Peripheral Vision, thrown in for good measure.

Simply click on the cover image below for your free copy.

All I ask in return is that if you like it, you’d be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon. (Indie authors live and die by their reviews.) Obviously, if you don’t like it, I’ll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself!

But it’s only free for 5 days so you’d best get your skates on.

TOS

Offer starts Friday 15th January, ends Tuesday 19th January 2016. (Although, I think this might be US ESB time.) Hey-ho, I’m sure you’ll manage.

Front cover photography courtesy of Mike O’Toole.

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The customer is always right.


For any of you lovely people out there who are still unsure whether to sample any of my e-books, I thought I’d let people who’ve read my work do the talking. All of these quotes can be read on Amazon, except for the excerpt quotes which were posted on a FB writers’ group page.

Praise for Peripheral Vision.

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“I had the honour of reading the penultimate draft of David Milligan-Croft’s novel prior to publication. It’s an extremely well-written and moving story. Had to dab my eyes on and off, and sometimes I wanted to wring the main protagonist, Danny Kane’s neck when he went off the rails big-time, but it was a most believable story — shades of Donna Tartt, even!” – Sarah Potter

 

“Sometimes, a mother’s love is just not enough…

“Peripheral Vision is a great read, but be warned, it is brutal and jarring. It examines a young man’s difficult life and it sticks with you. Life is rarely fair, but sometimes a child ends up paying for a parent’s sins, far more than can be tolerated. The main character, Danny is a willful, bright boy growing up in a previously prosperous English mill town that has last seen better days decades before. His abuse is well documented by the author, yet Danny seems to be able to keep on his feet, until the betrayals simply outnumber his defenses. The cruelties inflicted on him make this a book that is very important for anyone who has sons, or daughters, or a heart, to read. This fast-paced novel also investigates friendship and those kind of connections forged in childhood that stand for a lifetime. Author Milligan-Croft pulls no punches however. Danny’s story was told so well, I read it in two sittings, waiting for the redemption I hoped would come. When it does come, after an unexpected twist, it is intense, but momentary. I was especially taken by the very believable way the story outlined how a great kid can be sucked right up into a criminal life as a result of his abusive childhood and lack of relationships with male role models. Sometimes, as the author makes exceedingly clear, a mother’s love is not enough. Read this book and you’ll remember it. I’ll be looking forward to the author’s next release.” – Richard Sutton

 

The following are quotes from people who read an excerpt from Peripheral Vision prior to publication.

 

“A great excerpt, this really hooked me in to the story and the character – he seems to have great spirit, which leads me to wonder what happens to him to lead him to live the life he eventually does.” – Andrea Stephenson.

 

“I was very much hooked by this excerpt and am curious to find out what happens. The dynamics between the various family members certainly set the stage for an emotionally fraught story.” – Sarah Potter.

 

“I really enjoyed reading his excerpt from his novel which leaves me wanting to know what happens next, the cast of characters already formed in my mind! Great writing.” – Sherri.

 

“Nicely written and well chosen excerpt with just the right amount of intrigue and character play.” – Dave Farmer.

 

“It’s a powerful piece that makes me want to know what will happen to them!!” – The Dune Mouse.

 

Praise for Love is Blood.

Buy my book!

 

“Love, love, love it. Couldn’t wait to see what happened next then didn’t want it to end. Read it twice!” – Elizabeth Phillips.

 

“A page turning beauty.

“Beautifully described scenes and emotions, twinned with a plot that twists, turns and intertwines – looking both to the future and the past. Well worth a read!” – Anon.

 

“Great Story.

“A really enjoyable read…..well written love story with a twist. After reading the first couple of chapters I struggled to put this book down. Would strongly recommend !!” – Alibongo.

 

 

“A sequel is required!

“A compelling story, I was left wondering what would happen next! I’d like to read a sequel, think there’s potential for a soap!” – Bluenose. [Not sure about a soap!]

 

“Gripping, excellently written unusual love story.

“Love is Blood is one of those books that stays with you. A gripping and unusual love story that has a mystery at its heart – a personal mystery which I won’t spoil. Its chain of events sparked by an act of terrorism, Love is Blood shows how cause and effect or, if you like, fate, can shape the lives of characters in ways they never expected. If you want a well-made story that encompasses romance, loss, hope and forgiveness, this book is for you.” – Patrick Chapman.

 

Praise for Ten Orbits of the Sun.

ten orbits of the sun, short stories, david mileage-croft

“Eclectic mix

“A really interesting set of stories: full of angst, melancholy darkness, sadness, humour and human insight. A well worth read for all.” – Graham Hoyle.

 

Praise for Woman’s Best Friend.

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“Mad Englishmen and dogs.

“This was too funny! Like the domino effect gone city wide – all it takes is that first one…

“The boy in the story was both clever and determined. Unfortunately, things just never went according to plan. And I certainly had to feel sorry for the hapless father, in spite of his – er – extracurricular activities.

“Charming in an unintentional kind of way.” – Birdie Tracy. [It was completely intentional, I’ll have you know.]

 

So, there you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say.

Now, if you’d be so kind as to click on a cover that tickles your fancy. That’ll whizz you over to Amazon via the power of whizzardry. Once there, you can avail yourself of hours of pleasure for a few paltry pennies.

Oh, and if it’s not too much to ask, an Amazon review would be nice too.

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From Saskatchewan to Sao Paulo…


 

 

 

ten orbits of the sun, short stories, david mileage-croft

Whether you live in Mumbai or München, Ten Orbits of the Sun is now available across the globe.

If you happen to live in any of the countries listed below, and fancy a rummage through some of the darker recesses of my mind, just click on your country of choice and it’ll take you straight through to my book.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com.au

Amazon.co.jp

Amazon.in

Amazon.com.br

Amazon.de

Amazon.fr

Amazon.nl

Amazon.es

Amazon.it

Amazon.com.mx

So, tell your friends, tell your family, and let’s get Ten Orbits of the Sun back up to number 173 in the Amazon chart where it belongs!

There are 13 tantalising short tales and a chilling excerpt from my second novel, Peripheral Vision, which I’m hoping to publish later this year.

Blurb:

Ten Orbits of the Sun is a collection of contemporary short stories touching on diverse subjects, from dystopian fantasy to serial dog killers. Sometimes darkly humorous, occasionally macabre, but always evocative and visceral. Ten Orbits of the Sun is brimming with concepts that are tender, heart-wrenching and challenging.

CONTENTS:

1. Classic Mercedes Requires Garage.

Wedding day jitters told from both protagonists’ point of view.

2. The Music of Butterflies.

Is Oskar in dystopian heaven, or pharmaceutical hell?

3. Mudslide Bride.

It’s never too late to get down on one knee. Unless you have arthritis.

4. Shall I be Mother?

Will Walter finally realise his ambition of murdering his identical twin?

5. Big Fish, Little Fish.

Children caught in the middle of a dysfunctional family.

6. The Doorstep Girl.

Innocence and racism from the point of view of a terminally ill child.

7. Lucky Penny.

Will Jim scrounge enough money for a packet of fags? This could be his lucky day.

8. Woman’s Best Friend.

A serial dog killer is on the loose. And there’s only one kid in town who can stop him.

9. The Funny Farm.

Are the voices in Larry’s head, or yours?

10. Kanye West, in Botswana.

One-upmanship taken to the extreme.

11. Chasing the Dragon.

You can always have too much of a good thing.

12. Little Snow.

Koyuki has got inside James’ head – quite literally.

13. Ten Orbits of the Sun.

How far one father would go for his daughter.

14. Peripheral Vision (excerpt).

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 11-year-old Danny Kane growing up in 1970s northern England. His violent upbringing results in his descent into a life of drugs and crime. As he reaches adulthood he realises that the only way out of his spiralling slide into perdition is to find the one thing that he treasured most – his childhood friend, Sally, who was taken into care after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?

 

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Ten Orbits of the Sun – out now on Amazon.


Ten orbits of the sun, short stories.

My collection of short stories is now available on Amazon.

 

There are 13 tantalising short tales and a chilling excerpt from my second novel, Peripheral Vision, which I’m hoping to publish later this year.

Blurb:

Ten Orbits of the Sun is a collection of contemporary short stories touching on diverse subjects, from dystopian fantasy to serial dog killers. Sometimes darkly humorous, occasionally macabre, but always evocative and visceral. Ten Orbits of the Sun is brimming with concepts that are tender, heart-wrenching and challenging.

CONTENTS:

1. Classic Mercedes Requires Garage.

Wedding day jitters told from both protagonists’ point of view.

2. The Music of Butterflies.

Is Oskar in dystopian heaven, or pharmaceutical hell?

3. Mudslide Bride.

It’s never too late to get down on one knee. Unless you have arthritis.

4. Shall I be Mother?

Will Walter finally realise his ambition of murdering his identical twin?

5. Big Fish, Little Fish.

Children caught in the middle of a dysfunctional family.

6. The Doorstep Girl.

Innocence and racism from the point of view of a terminally ill child.

7. Lucky Penny.

Will Jim scrounge enough money for a packet of fags? This could be his lucky day.

8. Woman’s Best Friend.

A serial dog killer is on the loose. And there’s only one kid in town who can stop him.

9. The Funny Farm.

Are the voices in Larry’s head, or yours?

10. Kanye West, in Botswana.

One-upmanship taken to the extreme.

11. Chasing the Dragon.

You can always have too much of a good thing.

12. Little Snow.

Koyuki has got inside James’ head – quite literally.

13. Ten Orbits of the Sun.

How far one father would go for his daughter.

14. Peripheral Vision (excerpt).

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 11-year-old Danny Kane growing up in 1970s northern England. His violent upbringing results in his descent into a life of drugs and crime. As he reaches adulthood he realises that the only way out of his spiralling slide into perdition is to find the one thing that he treasured most – his childhood friend, Sally, who was taken into care after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?

So, if you fancy a copy, click on either of the links below or on the cover image.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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