All Stories, poems and other writings on this website unless otherwise stated, are the copyright of A J Lammiman.
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In the beginning, there was only the tree. It towered over the meadow like a mushroom cloud, spreading its branches outwards, reaching the very edge of the plush green grass and casting its shadow into the wooded lane beyond. It had stood alone for five hundred years and many a tale had unfolded beneath its canopy of green leaves. It was proud. It was strong. It was know locally as the `Tree of Tales' and was viewed by many villagers as the symbol of the life in the meadow. The six strange mounds which encircled it, placed there no doubt by ancient people, only added to its mystery. All who grew up in its shadow respected its existence and left it well alone, for to damage the tree, it was said, would be to damage life itself.
Then the woodsman came. With his sharpened axe by his side, his keen eyes viewed the tree with satisfaction. He knew that the trees thick trunk and strong branches would bring him a great deal of gold once he had felled it. And fell it he would. For that was his job. To cut down trees and sell the wood. Just as his father and his father had felled trees before him.
His father and grandfather however, had never had so great an incentive to encourage them in their work. For the Lord of the Manor now had a new wife and was busy building a new wing to his mansion. A command had gone out to the all wooden in the parish to supply the beams and planking needed for the project. A hundred golden guineas was to be paid to the woodsman supplying the best wood and competition between cutters was understandably fierce. Looking up at the tree, with its spreading branches, the woodsman knew it was a competition he could win.
He took a step back and grasped the axe in his hands. With all his strength he swung the blade over his shoulder and brought it crashing down into the trees massive trunk. The axe shuddered in his hands, the vibration from the force of the strike creeping up the shaft to his hands. The vibration was so great that it caused the woodsman to drop the axe on the ground in front of him. He stood back and rubbed his aching hands, cursing the unyielding trunk for the pain it had caused him. The meadow echoed with the sound of the axe strike and the birds which nested in the tree flew around over his head in panic, squawking and swooping down at him. It was if the meadow had come alive in defence of the tree. The woodsman shouted at the birds to go away and waved his arms angrily at them. One bird, a crow, flew passed his head and pecked him on the back of neck. He yelped in pain and swore loudly.
Ever more determined to fell the towering tree, the woodsman bent down, picked up the axe and made ready to strike again. His eyes searched for the place where the axe head had hit the trunk but to his amazement could not find any trace of a mark, let alone the deep cut in the bark which he had expected. He gripped the shaft firmly in his hands and took a deep breath. Swinging the axe back, he hurled it into the trunk, hitting the bark with a thud. At the same time as the axe hit, the wildlife of the meadow screamed as if in anguish and again the force of the strike caused the axe shaft to vibrate violently and again the woodsman dropped the tool on the ground.
He looked at where the axe had struck. A small cut had appeared in the bark and a trickle of sap was seeping from the wound. It was as if the tree was bleeding.
The woodsman shook his head in disbelief. With all the force he had put into that last swing there should have been a deep gash in the trunk.
`This is some tough old tree!' thought the woodsman wryly. He sighed. It was beginning to look as if winning the Lord's gold prize was going to be harder than he thought.
He picked up the axe for the third time and swung it at the tree with all his might. It struck home and bit deep into the trunk. The vibration again hurt his hands but this time the woodsman managed to hold on. Taking a deep breath, he pulled at the shaft to free the axe for the next swing, but the head would not budge. The blade was held fast by the sap seeping from the tree.
The woodsman gripped the shaft firmly in his hands and pulled all his might. His efforts were to no avail. The axe would not budge. Sap continued to flow from the wound and the woodsman, realising that this must be the cause, wondered if he could free the blade by clearing it away. He began clawing at the sticky substance with his hands. It felt warm. And it smelt strange. Not like sap at all. More like fresh blood. But that was ridiculous. How could a tree have blood as its sap? He cast the thought aside and began working feverishly. Soon the axe head was clear and he tried again to dislodge it. To his relief it came away easily and he breathed a sigh.
He leaned the axe against the tree and found that the sap had clung to his hands like glue and they were stuck fast to the shaft. With difficulty he managed to prise his hands off the shaft and sat down to have a rest. Overhead a number of birds had gathered in the trees branches and they sat watching him. Several squirrels had also gathered. Around him on the ground, rabbits sat watching in the meadow. It was weird. It was almost as if they had gathered to watch the trees demise. The woodsman could not remember seeing so many animals in one place at once and he began to feel uneasy.
He rose to his feet and took up the axe. The shaft still felt sticky.
`At least I can't drop it this time!' he thought as he swung it at the tree for the third time.
The axe hit its mark with a thud. At the same time the birds in the tree began to squawk loudly and the rabbits started running and jumping about as if in terror.
The woodsman looked at the axe. Its head was once more covered by the sap. He pulled hard but found the axe was firmly held again. Swearing angrily, he begun to clean the stick mess away off the head. This time it did not come off so easily. It clung to his hands, warm, the acrid smell filling his nostrils reminding him of the death of his father years before, when he had accidentally cut his leg when felling an old oak tree. The wound had gone bad and he had died from gangrene poisoning.
He pulled at the axe again to free it from the sap's grip, but it would not come loose. The sap which he had managed to clear away from the axe head had already been replaced. Even more of the thick sticky liquid had flowed down on the shaft and the woodsman found that his arms were in danger of being covered.
He tried to release his grip. He could not. This time the sap not only held the axe firmly in its grip but him as well.
Behind and above him, the animals and birds kept up their noise. He looked down at his feet in response to a noise and saw a rabbit. It was gnawing at his boot, its buckteeth biting deep into the leather. He kicked it away and the animal rolled over. Then another rabbit bounced up and it too began to gnaw at his boot. He kicked at it, but overbalanced. With his hands still held fast by the sap, the woodsman fell back against the tree. He groaned as his head hit the thick trunk and he lay there dazed, hanging onto the axe with both hands, unable to let go.
More rabbits hopped up. They sat in a half circle around him, watching his every move. Two crows flew down from the tree and perched themselves on one of nearest mounds. The woodsman began to panic. With difficulty he raised himself on to one knee. A tearing sound came from his back and to his surprise the woodsman found that his jacket had stuck to the tree. Looking round he saw that more of the sap had seeped down. He looked over his shoulder. A peace of his jacket hung on the tree where the sap had adhered to it.
One of the crows left its perch and flew over his head, pecking at him as it past. He fell backwards against the tree once more and banged his head yet again. Although dazed from the fall, the woodsman was vaguely aware of more sap seeping down the trunk. It trickled slowly over his head and down his back. Soon the whole of the top half of his body was covered in the thick, sticky and smelly liquid. He tried to get up but the sap held him fast. His hand was still stuck to the axe shaft and his head was aching from where it had struck the tree. Worst of all, the sap covering his head was making it hard to breathe. He knew that if could not get free he would die.
With one last effort he pulled himself up onto his feet, leaving what remained of the back of his jacket stuck on the tree. The ripping sound echoed loudly throughout the meadow as it tore away. He feeling the sap trickling down his neck, he pulled at the axe and angrily swore that he would have his revenge on the great tree. To his surprise the axe dislodged itself easily from the trunk and the woodsman fell forwards onto the ground. He lay there gasping for breath. The tree sap covering him was becoming harder and the woodsman was terrified he would become trapped. He struggled to raise himself up, managing only a sitting position. The animals and birds continued to hop and squawk around him. Only now they seemed to be squawking with joy.
All the time the sap got harder and the woodsman's breathing got weaker. Soon he lost conciseness and then life itself. The animals and birds watched the dead woodsman for a while and then flew and hopped away.
The woodsman was never missed. Most people believed he had gone to live elsewhere. The Lord of the Manor built his new wing and another woodsman won the gold prize. Life in the meadow when on.
Years passed and then another woodsman came by the meadow. He too studied the big tree with the spreading branches and was pleased at what he saw. As he took out his axe he looked at the seven strange mounds surrounding the tree and wondered what they were. And when had struck his first blow, he was surprised at the way the sap from the tree stuck to his axe...
Tom liked his morning coffee breaks. They gave him time to breath, enabling him to face the remainder of the day with a calm outlook, away from the hustle and bustle of the office. Every day at , he would go down and sit in his favourite corner of the small canteen and watch the world hurry by outside. It was the one place in the Chambers Control Gears's factory he could relax. It was therefore not surprising, that he felt more than concerned when one morning he overheard a conversation between the two canteen staff, saying that the company were considering closing his little haven.
"What?" he exclaimed, "They can't do that! Where will I have my coffee?"
"In your office, I suppose." shrugged one of the women, handing Tom his coffee and biscuit. "There's talk of them installing a drinks machine in the corridor."
"I don't know why you're moaning," scoffed the other, "at least you'll still have a job!"
"But they can't get rid of the canteen!" said Tom, "They can't!"
"They will if that Mr.Briggs has his way." sniffed the first woman, "Ever since he came here, he's been cutting something back!"
Mr.Briggs was CCG's new Financial Director, brought in it was rumoured, to find ways of cutting costs in an ever competitive market. He was an unpopular man, which was not surprising concidering the task that he had been allotted. He often had his coffee in the canteen too, only he tended to have it later than Tom, who as the senior clerk in his office, liked to take his first.
"Enjoy your coffee!" called the second woman, as Tom shuffled away to his corner, "It may be the last one you get here!"
Tom sipped his drink and nibbled at the biscuit. For once the pleasure he usually got from his break was tainted. He looked out of the window and saw a flock of sparrows fly past.
"That's another thing I'll miss." he said mournfully. Tom's desk faced the wall and did not have a much of a view. "They can't close it, they just can't!"
Fifteen minutes later Tom was back at his desk and hard at work. The man behind him coughed.
"Er, Tom?" he said.
Tom glanced round. "Yes?"
Darren was a spotty face youth of about twenty. He had been with company since leaving school and if nothing happened in the mean time to prevent it, was, Tom thought, likely to remain a CCG employee until he retired.
"If you've got something to ask me Darren, ask it. I'm very busy!" said Tom testily.
Darren, taken aback by Tom's bad mood, blinked twice. "What's got into you today?"
"Sorry." Tom apologised. "I'm a bit on edge. What do you want?"
"I was going to ask if you've heard about the canteen?" Darren asked him, a little hurt. "I hear the're thinking of closing it."
"Yes." Tom frowned. "I have."
"Bit of a blow, don't you think?" said Darren. "I mean, where will we get our tea from?"
"From a machine." replied Tom, grumpily. "The're putting one in the corridor."
"Tea test horrible from those things!" grimiest Darren. "You'll be alright though, you drink coffee."
"If it's hot." Tom retorted. "Anyway, it's not just the coffee. It's having somewhere to drink it!" A girl giggled loudly on the other side of the office, only to be sharply rebuked by the office manager.
"I don't relish staying here for my breaks." Tom sighed. "You can't relax."
The telephone rang and Tom turned sadly back to his desk and resumed work, although today his mind was elsewhere.
As he left work that evening, Tom passed by the company notice board, and as was his habit, stopped to see if there was any new notices. He liked to keep up to date with events.
"Now let's see..." he muttered aloud. "If they are closing the canteen, they'll have posted a notice here somewhere."
Scanning the board from top to bottom, Tom carefully searched for something to confirm, or more to the point, hoping to find something that would dispel the alarming rummer.
"No. Nothing here." he said, feeling a little reassured. "They must have got it wrong! Either that, or it was a wind-up! Stupid women and their idle prattle!"
With the likelihood that his little haven would be safe, Tom walked happily to the bus stop.
When Tom arrived next day, he again passed by the notice board, giving it cursory glance as he went. A bright new sheet of white paper caught his eye and he stopped dead in his tracks. Across the top of the sheet, were written the words, 'Canteen Closure.'
"Oh hell!" he exclaimed. "Then it is true!"
Just then, Mr.Briggs, the Financial Director walked by. "Is this true, Mr.Briggs?" said Tom as he passed. "About the canteen?"
Briggs Peered at Tom over the top of his horn rimmed glasses. "What about the canteen?" he asked.
"This notice." said Tom, pointing at the board, "The one that says the canteen's closing."
Brigg craned his neck forward to look for himself. Seemingly ignoring Tom's presence, he pursed his lips and muttered to himself. "Mmm. That's what it says alright. Interesting." Then he straightened up and looked at his watch. "Must be off!" he said, "Got a meeting!"
"But you haven't answered my question!" called Tom, as the man walked away. Briggs did not reply, but disappeared into the lift.
"Oh bother it!" huffed Tom. "That man never gives a straight answer!"
Tom went up to his office, thinking sadly of the closure notice.
Darren was already at his desk. "Hello, Tom!" he called. "The rummer was true then!"
"Hmph!" grunted Tom. He sat down at his desk and started work.
Darren turned away, pulling a face as he did. Tom was obviously not in a good mood.
The morning was unusually busy. So busy in fact, that when it neared break time, Tom was still engrossed in a telephone call to a customer. Darren, who was off the phone, whispered across to him.
"Shall I go for my break now Tom? I can be back by eleven."
Tom, who had been put on hold, glanced up at the clock and nodded back. "Don't be late!"
Darren hurried off, leaving an annoyed Tom to listen to the mellow strings of Montovani echoing down the phone line. Not that they mellowed Tom. He was still fretting over the impending loss of his little haven of peace in the canteen.
When at last Darren returned, Tom rushed off to get his coffee. He anxious to claim his seat by the corner window, before someone else did.
By the time he had got his coffee and biscuit, most of the seats in the canteen were taken. He looked over at his corner table and saw with dismay that a man was already sitting there, looking out of the window. Tom looked about him and sighed. There were no other free tables. As he walked over to the corner to take his usual seat, he passed a group of girls from the typing pool. They seemed to look at him strangely, as if to ask what he was doing.
"Mind if I sit down?" Tom asked. The man turned round. It was Mr.Briggs, the Financial Director.
"Of course." Briggs replied. Tom gulped and sat down opposite.
"Ah, Mr.Briggs?" he stammered.
Briggs turned to look at him. "Yes?"
Tom took a deep breath and summoning up all his courage, said, "You didn't answer my question earlier. About the closing of the canteen? Is it true?"
Briggs carefully placed his cup back on its saucer. "It was." he said. "Some silly fool in the office thought it would please me. I soon put a stop to it!"
Tom's eyes widened.
"I can't have my little haven got rid of!" continued Briggs, "It's the only place I can get any peace in this dam firm!"
The office in which Ian worked was full of plants. There were plants on the shelf, plants on the windowsill, plants on floor by the door and even plants on top of the cupboards. The place resembled a conservatory. It was warm too. Not too warm, but just warm enough, Ian surmised, to balance the needs of the plants with those of people worked there. Ian liked it. It reminded him of being on holiday.
Ian desk was situated between a window and a row of tall cupboards. There were plants on top of these too of course and Ian, not being a green fingered sort of guy, often wondered what they were and how they survived without an obvious regime of watering. (He did know that plants needed water.) In time he equally surmised that any care the plants required came at night, after all the office staff had left. After all, no one came to see to them during the day.
In spite of this, Ian often emptied the remains of the glass of water he enjoyed each day. Standing in tip toe, he poured the dregs of the glass into the pots above his head, thinking that the odd extra watering would not go amiss. It did not seem to harm the plants; in fact Ian was certain it was doing them some good, as the once dusty looking leaves on many of plants started regain their natural shine.
Day after day Ian went through this ritual. Sometimes he even went without drinking any water at all, saving for the plants on top of the cupboard.
Then one day, just after Ian had watered the plant pots, the office junior came by with some papers for him to sign.
"Ian," she said, peering down at the floor. "Why is there water running down this cupboard?"
Ian looked down at floor. A small puddle had formed. He followed the trickle of water back up the side of the cupboard to the top.
"It's coming from those pots." the girl pointed out.
Ian looked up. She was right. A small trickle of water was flowing down the side of the nearest flower pot.
"I'll have a look." he said, pulling over his chair. "Perhaps I've overdone the watering."
"Watering!" laughed the girl. "But those are plastic flowers! No wonder the water's overflowing! You've filled the pots up!"
Ian felt such an idiot.
For England and St.George!
Thought for the Day
Tomorrow is the day you were hoping for yesterday.
England's Claim of Right
Fly the English Flag
Wear a Rose on
A little bit about myself.
First and foremost I am English.
I am proud to be a member of the
Royal Society of St. George.
I am also a member of the
Royal British Legion and the
United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA).
I was an officer in the Army Cadet Force
for over 25years.
I am a member of the English Democrats Party.
Links to all these organizations can be found in the
I also enjoy writing short stories (nothing published as yet!)
and samples of these are included on this site.
I also have another site devoted to my writings at: http://domasionragor.webs.com/
If I had a motto, it would be:
Honesty, Loyalty, Integrity.
Remember Your Towel!
International Towel Day is
It can be said that anyone who can hitch the length and breadth of the [world], rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through,
and still knows where his towel is,
is clearly a man to be reckoned with.'
(Copyright: Douglas Adams)
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The Answer is 42 .... and Remember Where Your Towel is!
Unless otherwise stated all stories, poems, observations or comments on this website are the sole property of Allan James Lammiman and should not be downloaded, scanned or otherwise copied without the owners permission.