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Archie and Horatio of course. I have no idea if or where I posted this originally.

The Channel

The Channel, 1799

“Your birthday seems to come round with startling frequency.”

Horatio tries to smile but weariness defeats him. They beat to quarters at three bells in the forenoon watch; the engagement ended in the second dog watch and he is dog tired.

Archie—how can he still be so sprightly?—rubs Horatio’s shoulder. “At least Bracegirdle gets to take the prize in and you can get some rest.”

“I think a few hours in my cot would be the best present I could hope for.” Horatio’s eyes are already closed as he whispers, “As we can’t spend a few hours in yours.” He feels something pressed into his hand and forces his eyes apart to see a little packet.

“Open it.” Archie’s lips are by his ear.

Horatio pulls the tissue away to reveal a silver shoe buckle, small but perfectly formed, as Archie is small but perfectly formed.

“You’ll get the matching one once we make port.” Those lips are touching his brow now. “Once we’ve seen action there,” they murmur, and Archie draws away.


France 1918

“Your birthday seems to come round with startling frequency.”

Horatio tries to smile but weariness defeats him. Their platoons have been out for thirty six hours, fighting a desperate rearguard action in defence of land they took in 1915—will this senseless war never resolve itself? “I’m only glad to have survived to see another one.” Horatio corrects himself and this time he can force a smile out. “I’m glad we’ve both survived.”

“Please God we’ll make another. And please God we’ll celebrate it in Blighty.” Archie puts a hand under his pillow, fetching out a brown paper parcel. “Happy birthday.”

“Thank you.” Their hands touch—briefly, lovingly—as the gift is exchanged. “Oh, thank you.” It’s two pairs of socks; warm, dry, silken woollen socks, smelling of home and comfort—and Archie’s mother’s scent as the Countess herself has knit them. “I’ll wear them when I wake.”

Archie smiles, raising his mug of tea to toast the day. “Next year in England.”

Horatio raises his mug in return but doesn’t repeat the words. He’s seen too many men tempt fate.

Hampshire, 2010

“Your birthday seems to come round with startling frequency.”

Horatio tries to smile but weariness defeats him. The power went down at the refinery forty eight hours ago and he’s worked almost every one of them, nursing his precious computer systems through the crisis. Not a processor he doesn’t know and love, but not as much as he loves Archie.

“Are you like the Queen and have two a year?” Archie has fed him, bathed him and put him to bed with the cricket on the radio to lull him to sleep. “Will I leave your presents until tomorrow?”

“I have more than one?” Horatio’s voice is thick with the need for sleep. “Maybe just the one now.”

Archie has it ready to hand, a small box which he has to help his lover to open, so tired is he.

“It’s beautiful.” It is. An original Napoleonic war sextant, to grace Horatio’s desk here at home. “I’ve always wanted one.”

“I know.” Archie reaches for the bedside light and switches it off, the heavy curtains leaving the room unnaturally dark for an afternoon. “Sleep now.”

Horatio turns, finding his favoured position. “The other in the morning?”

“The other whenever you’re ready.” Archie kisses him full on the lips and Horatio goes to sleep smiling, well aware of what his other present will be.

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Hallo again

Been away in Welsh Wales having a great time except in regard to internet which was sporadic. Also forgot the address book so apologies to all those I usually send cards to who didn't get one this time.

Have a nice seal instead:

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Ref the referendum

Like many people I'm sad about the vote, but going forward, no amount of name calling or finger pointing will change the result. What we need to do is that old cliche, "Keep calm and carry on", along with working hard to keep this country a place we can be rightly proud of.

20th anniversary of the SCM food bank

"“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

SCM are a great example of that in action. You can hear Chris Davis sharing some thoughts here at about 19 minutes in.

Still here, honest!

I suddenly realised I hadn't posted here in an age. Please have a rabbit from my garden as a token of my contrition:

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Inspired by the pet and animal pics

Both nodbear and vespican have featured poems or pictures of pets recently. Alas I don't have a pet to offer, although I do have an encounter with carnivorous budgies:

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Not my arm, thank goodness. You can see the resemblance to dinosaurs, can't you?
I was so cross about the ending to series 2, I mailed ITV.

Me to ITV, 7th April:
I would like to register my disappointment with last night's episode of Grantchester.
I'd hoped that television would move beyond treating LGBT characters with discrimination but yet again we had an example of the only main character in the drama not to have some sort of happy ending or reconciliation being the gay man.
I am not the only person to be angry with a) what amounts, in this case, to a thoughtlessly plotted series and b) yet another example of LGBT characters having a worse outcome than others.

ITV to me, 12th April:
Thank you getting in touch. I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed with the last episode of Grantchester, and in particular the outcome for Leonard.
On the contrary, we gave the story considerable thought. We’re aware that there is a cliché in literature and screen of gay characters only deserving unhappy outcomes, and we thought long and hard about how to play things for Leonard, not just in this episode but across multiple series.
Ultimately, we’ve chosen to tell a story about a gay man working in the Church of England in the 1950s, and rather than impose an anachronistic liberal agenda, we’re showing the complexity of his position, specifically that it is impossible for him to be seen to be having a relationship with another man. At the conclusion of series 2, this does indeed leave him in an unhappy place. However, we would argue that his position is not without hope – Sidney recognises how difficult things are for Leonard and tries to console him. And in subsequent series we’ll look further into his sexuality, and whether he can explore it as a C of E clergyman, in more detail.
Me to ITV, 12th April:
Thank you for your response.
While I entirely take your point about being true to the times and to Leonard's position, I find that as the sole answer slightly clichéd and more than slightly hypocritical.
You refer to not imposing "an anachronistic liberal agenda". How does the character of Sidney match up against that? A hard drinking, lecherous priest who's last seen kissing a pregnant married woman? Isn't that anachronistically liberal? Wouldn't his parishioners have complained about his behaviour to the bishop to get him thrown out? Then there's the other story strand, where someone guilty of attempted murder (and those who covered up for her) gets away scot free and nobody seems to be worried about it. Is that not liberal?
You also say, regarding Leonard, "specifically that it is impossible for him to be seen to be having a relationship with another man". Seen by whom? By the viewer? You allow us to "see" another priest having a relationship with underage girls which is equally unacceptable for a man in his position. Let alone the double standards you show with Sidney sleeping with/groping women. Seen by the parish? The parish wouldn't need to know about Leonard's relationships. You can't be telling me that no Anglican clergymen had hidden same sex relationships in the 1950s because I simply don't believe it.

I am awaiting a response so I can let fly my next volley. :)

Recapturing my lost youth

By having a bit of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer fest off youtube. I remember a surprising number of the lyrics.

In honour of the day

A favourite sporting themed prank from 1989. I also liked the year Murrayfield was supposedly painted blue all across the pitch to thwart the English. :)

Happy Easter!

A last thought for the season from nodbear and me.

One of the Easter Sunday stories I love is that of Mary Magdalene in the garden at Gethsemane looking for Jesus and not realising He's the 'gardener' she thinks she's speaking to. I have no idea why she gets confused - does Jesus look different? Is she in too much of a tizzy? Is He playing a bit of a joke on her because he's so happy and full of life? - but I can absolutely see the scene. I imagine the garden as a place far more English than it no doubt was, but the wonderful vibrancy of this time of year reflects the joy of Easter, whether it falls early

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or late

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And, if I can sneak in another story of hope in adversity?

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