A Ghost in Cornwall
This land is my memories. For two thousand years this valley has been mine alone.
I know every rock, every stream and every tree. I know the forces that shape this land and the people who inhabit it.
A billion years ago this land was a migratory trail for the animals of Western Europe. They roamed freely across the huge land of one continent. Millennia passed as the rivers washed silt to the ocean and the sun raised rain to the sky. At that time the mass of Eurasia was joined. The tectonic plates shifted and islands formed, raising proud, green peninsulas on green water, thrust out to the ocean. Long before my time the forces of nature battled along the coasts of Western Europe. From the Southwest, the Gulf Stream warmed and opened the land with summer heat. From the north, ice raged and cracked the rock of what would become the British Isles.
The land tells me it was an epic struggle. The generous heat of earth, venting her spleen, the wash of the water, cooling and circulating air. Rain succoured the land and ran back to the sea, endless cycles, repeating endlessly. The earth shifted, chasms opened and the sea swept in, submerging areas and separating the islands of Britain and Ireland from the mainland.
Spouts of boiling lava spewed from the molten centre of earth to create granite formations, a source of wonder till the end of time. A great rift opened up what is now the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea, separating the land into distinct areas. Many characteristics still connect Brittany, Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall. Their joining can still be seen in place and people. But veins of power run through the sea, a matrix of energy criss-crosses the land and reaches out around our planet.
The Phoenicians, Egyptians and Greeks journeyed to these coasts even before the Iron Age, in search of Keltic wisdom, since long before the time of my youth. They followed the trail of gold and wisdom across the sea to Cornwall and then to Wales and Ireland. Later, tin trade followed these routes across Brittany and the journeys of wise men and saints to the west of land, the land of setting sun, of Gods and the quest for immortality that haunts us all. Ships and boats from the French and Spanish coasts often sailed to rivers on the south coast of Cornwall in search of trade and journey with the friendly and civilised Keltii, hopefully avoiding the pirates that have ravaged these coasts for millennia.
2000 years ago I was killed trying to save my mother from Portuguese raiders on the river, who stole the gold that came from Ireland. My story is located in the valley of one of these rivers, now called 'River Fowey'. It is a story that I have not been able to tell until now. My own story starts with the visit of Jesus of Nazareth to the river Fowey in 30 AD (according to the Julian Calendar and allowing for a seven year miscalculation). He was twenty three years old. He journeyed on a vision quest to the west-of-land, in search of the wisdom of the Keltii and union with his father spirit. I have spent much time thinking about this moment and my brief encounter with a man who claimed to be Son of God. For hundreds of years I puzzled at his smile, the light in his gaze. He had a quality of being rare in the extreme, an utter and unconditional compassion for all life.
Who am I? A ghost; Fintan, born 2000 years ago and caught in the matrix of nature unable to tell my story until now. I am here, waiting for you.
A Cornish ghost story, 'The Lily' available only at www.simonthescribe.co.uk/Lily.html">http://www.simonthescribe.co.uk/Lily.html
Prolific author William E. Butterworth III, who wrote under the name W.E.B. Griffin, has died aged 89.
The writer Andrea Levy, who explored the experience of Jamaican British people in a series of novels over 20 years has died, aged 62, from cancer.
After starting to write as a hobby in her early 30s, Levy published three novels in the 1990s that brought her positive reviews and steady sales. But her fourth novel, Small Island, launched her into the literary big league, winning the 2004 Orange prize, the Whitbread book of the year and the Commonwealth Writers' prize, selling more than 1m copies around the world and inspiring a 2009 BBC adaptation.
Betty Ballantine, half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback and vastly expand the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as "The Hobbit" and "Fahrenheit 451," has died aged 99.
She was just 20 and attending school in England, in 1939, when she met and married 23-year-old Ian Ballantine, an American at the London School of Economics. Using a $500 wedding gift from Betty's father, the Ballantines started out as importers of Penguin paperbacks from England and founded two enduring imprints: Bantam Books and Ballantine Books, both now part of Penguin Random House.
In 1988 the 14th novel by a little-known 63-year-old British author was published in New York. The Shell Seekers, the 500-page story of a woman, Penelope Keeling, looking back on her life and loves during the second world war, took the US by storm.
The New York Times reviewer wrote: "Rosamunde Pilcher, where have you been all my life?" It sat in the bestseller list for 49 weeks in hardback and then tipped Tom Wolfe off the No 1 spot in paperback. The Shell Seekers was translated into more than 40 languages, selling around 10m copies.
Pilcher, who has died aged 94, wrote completely absorbing page-turners, taking what was called "romantic fiction" to an altogether higher, wittier level...
Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, "The Woman in the Window." His life contains even stranger twists.
JD Salinger's son has confirmed for the first time that the late author of The Catcher in the Rye wrote a significant amount of work that has never been seen, and that he and his father's widow are "going as fast as we freaking can" to get it ready for publication.
Salinger died in 2010, leaving behind a small but perfectly formed body of published work that has not been added to since 1965's New Yorker story, "Hapworth 16, 1924." Rumors have circulated for years that the creator of one of the 20th century's most enduring characters, Holden Caulfield, continued to write over the ensuing decades he spent in the New Hampshire village of Cornish, far from public view.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, his son Matt Salinger has finally revealed, definitively, that his father never stopped writing and that "all of what he wrote will at some point be shared."
One of the biggest stars to come out of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week wasn't a CEO or a head of state or a venture capitalist. It was Rutger Bregman, a Dutch journalist and historian, who used his speaking time at the conference to lambaste the rich attendees for failing to talk about the one thing we know could fight wealth inequality: raising taxes for the kind of people who go to Davos.
The winner of Australia's richest literary prize did not attend the ceremony. His absence was not by choice.
Behrouz Boochani, whose debut book won both the Aus$25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier's literary awards and the Aus$100,000 Victorian prize for literature on Thursday night, is not allowed into Australia.
The Kurdish Iranian writer is an asylum seeker who has been kept in purgatory on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years, first behind the wire of the Australian offshore detention centre, and then in alternative accommodation on the island.
Now his book No Friend But the Mountains – composed one text message at a time from within the detention centre – has been recognised by a government from the same country that denied him access and locked him up.
The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es has won the overall Costa Book Award, with the judges declaring it, "the hidden gem of the year."
This biography tells the true story of a young Jewish girl in Holland during World War II, who hides from the Nazis in the homes of an underground network of foster families, one of them the author's grandparents.
Steve Cavendish, a former editor of the Nashville Scene and Washington City Paper, writes about the dire state of local newspapers, and his hopes that his new venture, to relaunch the Nashville Banner online as a nonprofit, will provide a model that will revitalize local media:
Wednesday was a bloodbath for journalists. BuzzFeed said it would lay off 15 percent of its employees, and Verizon Media announced it would cut 7 percent from its newsrooms at HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo. Worst of all, a wave of layoffs tore through Gannett newsrooms across the country that day, hitting staffs that had already been thinned by years of nearly annual cuts. In December, Gannett's USA Today Network president, Maribel Wadsworth, told her employees that the nation's largest-circulation newspaper chain "will be a smaller company" in the future and, well, the future is now. Wadsworth is facing a lot of pressures: Print revenue is down, digital and mobile revenue aren't nearly enough, and now a hedge fund promising even deeper cuts wants to acquire the company. If the future of corporate news operations looks bleak, that's because it is.
In Tennessee, we've been watching the slow-motion destruction of our news institutions under Gannett for a few decades now, and the idea that things are about to get even worse is appalling. As badly as the country needs strong coverage of national news these days, the local news landscape is important, too. And what happened here mirrors what's already happened in city after city.