Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Uncle Kaspar

When I tell people that we share our house with a ghost, their eyes widen and they usually gasp.  But there’s a lot of weird stuff in my house, and the ghost is one of the more normal things, in a way.

His name is Uncle Kaspar. He’s not my real uncle, but I’ve known him such a long time he feels like one of the family. It took my dog Green (I called him that because he’s green) a long time to like Uncle Kaspar but now they’re really quite good friends. Uncle Kaspar has said that he would like to take Green for a walk, but of course he can’t. Because if he leaves the house in daylight he won’t exist anymore. It’s like that with ghosts.

Uncle Kaspar doesn’t live in the attic, like other ghosts. He can’t stand attics, he says. Full of spiders. There’s a lot that Uncle Kaspar’s afraid of, which I think is funny, him being a ghost and all. Instead he lives in the downstairs cupboard where the boiler is, because he says it’s a fallacy that ghosts like cold damp places. When he was alive he spent quite a lot of time in Africa and he got so used to the heat and sunshine that coming back to England was hard to do.

When I have friends over, Uncle Kaspar likes to join in the games. He says that being with young people makes him feel young again. We play battleships and draughts. We play computer games and pool on my mini-billiards table. When new people come to our house they can get scared of Uncle Kaspar being a ghost, but once we’ve all sat down and had a drink and a biscuit and Uncle Kaspar’s told them about good bits (like walking through walls) and the bad bits (like not being able to eat the biscuits), they’re usually OK and we can get on with the games.

He’s very good at hide and seek.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Floating Island

The Island of Marmura is small, round and flat, and that's why it's so easy to move.

But for as long as anyone who lives there can remember, it's bobbed around the North Sea, bumping into Scotland, then bumping into Ireland. When the islanders really want to move quickly, perhaps to avoid a huge wave, or a sharp rock, they grab their enormous paddles, gather along the beaches and all paddle together, as fast as they can, until they've propelled the island to a different part of the ocean, where they drop anchor and stay until the next huge wave comes along.

That's the most important thing you need to know about Marmura. The other is that it is always raining.

One particularly grey, drizzly day, a small boy said to his mother: 'Why it is never sunny here? I want to go somewhere sunny. We can move our island wherever we want, so why don't we just go somewhere else?'

At first his mother was shocked, then she thought about it, then she told her neighbour. At first the neighbour was shocked, then he thought about it, then he told his brother, and so on, until finally everyone on the island was in agreement; they were fed up with rain! They were going South!

Many days and nights passed, and the islanders' arms ached from so much paddling. The sea was wide and empty and they had not met another soul, but to their delight the rain had almost stopped. Then, on the fifth day, somewhere off Spain, they met another island, this one long and thin and rocky, being rowed by hundreds of small people wearing large hats.

'We're heading North,' cried the other islanders in unison. 'It's far too hot where we come from, and it's always too dry. Where are you going?'

What a stroke of luck! The islanders swapped clothes, traded their umbrellas for suntan lotion and their firelighters for fans, bade each other farewell and bon voyage, and waved happily until each island was a tiny speck on the horizon before disappearing altogether.