Author: tbelshaw (page 1 of 5)

Sad Lisa. A ghost story. Chapter 1

Sad Lisa. A ghost story based on the Cat Stevens song. Unedited and seen as written. Part two will be along soon.

 

SAD LISA

by

T. A. Belshaw

Adam Sears sat at the heavy-oak dining table and for the umpteenth time that week, wondered how he, a young man of just twenty-one years, with limited prospects, had managed to acquire such a comfortable apartment in such an elegant house, in this much sought-after district of London.

The room was tastefully decorated with a cornflower patterned wallpaper. The furniture, including the dining table and a drop-leaf side table, was made from sturdy oak. An almost new, oriental style, blue/grey rug, sat on the floor and the bay window was framed by heavy, dark-grey, velvet, curtains.

Adam got to his feet and walked across to the open, sashed-window. Outside, the well-heeled Saturday afternoon crowds strolled the pavements.  Ladies, resplendent in summer hats, walked arm in arm with their heavily moustached, stiff-collared, male companions. Hanson and Landau carriages, pulled by a single or pair of horses, clattered across the cobbled street. Come autumn, the view would be restricted by the heavy smog that would hang in the air like a thick coverlet, but for now, with the sun high in the smoke-hazed sky, he couldn’t imagine a place he’d rather be. Adam stood for five minutes,  wallowing in the spectacle, thinking again how very fortunate he had been to find such a pleasant place to call his home.

Adam was an accounts clerk, working for Lorimar’s Bank. His shiny coat and frayed shirt collars were an embarrassment to him, especially out on the streets of such a genteel district. He felt the eyes of the privileged on him as he climbed the three steps from the pavement to the front door of his residence. Most took him for an Insurance salesman, visiting a client, or a butler to a rich tradesman, returning from running an errand. He was determined to improve his station, Mr Robbins, the branch manager had told him that if he worked hard, he could earn a substantial promotion in the next five years. Old Mr Armitage, the senior clerk, was seventy and had begun to struggle with his sight. Adam had designs on his job, and with it, the extra fifty pounds a year.

He had found the apartment after noticing a poster in a ground-floor window as he passed by on the omnibus. The first evening he just noticed the ‘for rent,’ headline and he had travelled home, daydreaming about what it must be like to live in such a pleasant neighbourhood. The following night, a Hanson cab had lost a wheel and the omnibus came to a halt right outside the building, so Adam had plenty of time to read the entire advertisement.

‘Apartment to let. Furnished, with private bathroom and kitchen. 10 shillings per week. Professional gentlemen only need apply. Deposit and references, required.’

Adam read the poster three times, then got up from his seat, left the omnibus and walked quickly up the steps to the front door of the residence. He brought down the brass, lion’s-head knocker three times and stepped back as the door opened. In front of him was a woman of about forty years. She was smartly dressed in a blue skirt and white frilled blouse. Her greying hair was tied in a tight bun, but wisps of it had escaped and lay across her frowning, forehead,

‘May I help you?’ she asked.

‘It’s about the, umm, the… advertisment… in the window. I’m not sure I read it correctly.’

The woman looked him up and down, took in his much-repaired shirt and coat, his scraped brown boots, then half closed the door. ‘The stipulation is, professional gentleman,’ she said.

‘My name is Adam Sears, I work for Lorimar’s Bank, I look after the accounts of our more affluent clients,’ he said hurriedly. ‘If the apartment really is for rent at ten shillings a week, I can easily afford it. I’ve just had my salary increased.’

The woman looked at him suspiciously. ‘Where are you living at the moment?’

Adam thought quickly. He didn’t want her to know he was renting a tiny attic room in a run-down part of Paddington, so he answered, ‘I live with my aunt in Marylebone, but she is increasingly, frail and is moving to the coast for the sea air.’

She looked him up and down again, quite taken by his piercing blue eyes and the handsome face that was almost pleading with her to accept his word.

‘Lorimar’s Bank you say? Well, I’ll need a reference.’ She stepped back and opened the heavy, black-glossed door. ‘Come inside and take a look. I will require a month’s deposit in advance, plus the current month’s rent.’

Adam’s jaw almost hit his chest when she opened the door to the apartment and showed him around. This was pure opulence, considering the conditions he was living in at present.

‘And, and, it’s definitely, ten shillings a week, the rent won’t increase after the first month, or so?’

‘Ten shillings it is and ten shillings it will remain until the day you leave, or can no longer afford to pay. She looked him over again and sniffed. ‘Defaulter’s deposits are non-refundable,’ she warned.

‘I have to ask, why is it so cheap? I mean, my friend is paying the same amount to share a couple of dingy, rooms in Balham.’ Adam turned a full three-hundred-and-sixty degrees. ‘This is beautiful.’

‘I just want it let, instead of sitting idle,’ she said. A look of annoyance crossed her face. ‘No one seems to stay very long. The last two tenants left without notice, leaving all their belongings behind them. It seems to have a history of short term, tenancy. I only bought the house a couple of years ago and it has been rented out six times during that period. The rest of the apartments in the house have settled tenants, some have been living here for years.’ She shrugged. ‘Anyone would think the place was haunted.’

Adam laughed nervously. ‘Well, if it is, I don’t care.’ He looked around the beautifully decorated sitting room. ‘As long as I don’t have to pay its share of the rent.’

The woman smiled at the joke. ‘I’m Mrs Prendergast. I live just up the street at number forty-five, you’ll find me there most of the time if you need me for anything… like paying the rental deposit, or settling the monthly account.’ She narrowed her eyes, her mouth so tightly closed that her lips almost vanished. ‘Due on the first day of the month, every month,’ she added.

Adam offered his hand. Mrs Prendergast looked at it, then turned away.

‘We’ll leave the formalities and niceties until the contract is signed, shall we?’ She showed Adam to the front door and watched him onto the top step.

‘I’ll bring the deposit and the first month’s rent around tomorrow after I leave work. It will be about this time of day,’ he said.

He turned away and walked to the pavement before turning back to face her.

‘You won’t let it to anyone else before I come back?’

‘A chance would be a fine thing,’ she muttered under her breath before looking directly into his eyes. ‘The apartment is yours, Mr Sears,’ she said, firmly.

***

The following night, Adam, carrying a large, battered case containing everything he owned, arrived at Mrs Prendergast’s house. She showed him into a neat study where she studiously counted out the money he placed on the table. Adam handed her an envelope containing a reference from his employers, which stated that to the best of their knowledge he was of good character, was a diligent, trustworthy employee with some promotional prospects, and earned a salary of one hundred and seventy pounds per annum.

His new landlady read the document through a pair of narrow-lensed, reading glasses that she picked up from her desk. Satisfied, she turned to a tier of small, gold-embossed drawers, opened the top one and produced a bunch of keys. She handed them to him with a warning.

‘If you lose them, replacements will have to be paid for. I only keep one spare set and that is for my use. I may let myself into the apartment from time to time just to see if you are looking after it. I will inform you when I mean to do that.’

Adam almost ran back to his new abode. He rushed up the steps, keys in hand but as he reached out to insert the largest of them into the lock, the heavy, black door opened.

In the doorway, stood a tall, bearded man wearing a dark suit and a black top hat. He smiled at Adam and stood aside to allow him entry.

Adam put down his case and blushed as he noticed the man take in its battered condition. He held out his hand and smiled.

The man took it and smiled back.

‘Henry Parsons, at your service,’ he said.

‘Adam Sears. I’m your new neighbour.’

Henry’s smile was little more than a grimace. ‘Well, Adam Sears, I hope you last longer then the last tenant. He was here for less than a month. The one before him was only here for two.’

‘I don’t understand it,’ replied Adam with a puzzled frown. ‘The apartment is beautiful, and it’s so cheap, why would anyone want to leave so quickly?’

Henry shrugged and walked back to the door. ‘Perhaps the ghost of Sad Lisa has something to do with it,’ he said quietly.

Adam looked puzzled again. ‘Ghost… Sad Lisa? Who is Sad Lisa? he asked.

‘You’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure.’ Henry stepped outside closing the door firmly behind him.

 

Unspoken 2. Chapter 4

Unedited. This preview is for readers to become familiar with one of the main characters of Unspoken Part Two

The name Martha means, The Lady, or Mistress of the House. Her sister is called, Marjorie, which means, The Pearl.

 

Chapter Four

Martha

Martha lay on her side, her turban-covered head nestled into the deep pile of down pillows. Her bedside clock read four-minutes-past-seven.

‘Late again,’ she said under her breath.

She rolled onto her back and studied the thick crack in the ceiling that she was sure had spread further over the last few days. She would have liked to get it fixed but the young man she had booked to give her a quote had looked like a bit of a rogue builder, although he claimed to be a member of the Master Builder’s Federation. Martha didn’t believe a word of it, there were a lot of rogues about these days. At one time you could get a local builder who would take pride in his work, knowing that if he messed up, the word would quickly get about, but now, all the trades seem to come from a minimum of twenty miles away and they wouldn’t give a damn about receiving a complaint. Just look at that Rogue Traders program on TV. The country was full of cowboy builders.

Only last week, old Mrs Hardy a few houses down the lane had been told by a ‘passing builder’ that the roof of her old bungalow looked in danger of collapse. After an inspection he blew out his cheeks, shook his head and told her it couldn’t be repaired for a penny under ten thousand pounds. The silly old woman had agreed to have the work done, but luckily her son came over to visit at the weekend and he had brought in his best friend, a builder himself, to have a look. Finding no fault, he suggested they ring the police. Mrs Hardy’s son, who was no saint himself, was reluctant to get them involved, so he just rang the number on the card she had been given, and cancelled the job, warning the builder that he was onto him and he shouldn’t show his face around the area any time soon.

Martha scratched an itch just below her right eye and looked towards the door.

‘Marjorie, where in God’s name have you got to?’ she muttered.

She shook her head and thought about the meeting with the solicitor later that day. With just the tiniest, and long awaited, bit of luck she so thoroughly deserved, she wouldn’t have to worry about the cost of repairing a crack in the ceiling ever again. She could afford to get the modern equivalent of Sir Christopher Wren to do the job if she felt like it. An unexpected mention in her late mother’s will could mean she would never want for money again. The old girl had been loaded when she died. The big, old farmhouse she had lived in and the couple of acres of land around it, must be worth at least three quarters of a million pounds these days. Then there were the proceeds of her land sales over the years. The farm had once boasted a hundred acres but Alice’s astute selling of parcels of land had netted her a fortune over the years. She had invested a lot of the money in London property and stocks and shares. God knows how much those assets were worth now.

‘About time,’ she said loudly as her sister, Marjorie, entered the room carrying a rattling breakfast tray.

‘I’m sorry, I, well, I dropped the pan with the eggs in and had to cook some more, by the time I had cleaned up, the tea was getting cold so I had to make another pot.’

‘I hope the eggs are properly cooked today.’ Martha scowled at her sister. ‘Yesterday, they were so undercooked they resembled mucus. How many times do I have to say, boil them for three minutes and twenty seconds, precisely.’

‘Yes, Martha, I’m sorry, but the handle of the pan was hot and—’

‘Just give me the tray and stop wittering,’ Martha scolded.

Marjorie pulled open the thickly-lined curtains to allow the early morning sun to light up the room.

‘It’s a nice day for an inheritance,’ she quipped.

‘Don’t count your chickens just yet, Marjorie,’ replied Martha. ‘You know what the tight old so and so was like. Remember the time I went cap in hand to her when Roger claimed a quarter of this house in the divorce court? She wouldn’t give me a penny to help me out of the mess.’

‘It was good job I had some savings, wasn’t it, Martha?’ Marjorie walked stiffly across to the bed and sat on the corner.

Martha coughed on the piece of toast she had just put into her mouth.

‘Don’t go digging up all that again. You’ll never let me forget that for once in your life, you helped me with something, will you? Put another record on, Marjorie, I’m fed up of hearing that one.’

‘I’m sorry, Martha,’ said Marjorie, quietly. I won’t mention it again. I might not need to after we’ve been to the solicitor today though. I didn’t think we’d get a penny from Mother, but we’re both mentioned in the will. I fully expected her to leave everything to our Jessica.’

Martha put the crust of the toast back onto her plate and sliced the top off one of the eggs with a knife. Inspecting the consistency of the yolk, she nodded, and dug a teaspoon into it.

‘Well, if we are the main beneficiaries, don’t you go throwing your share about. I’ll find some nice, safe investments for you. And, watch out for fortune seeking men. You would be taken advantage of far too easily.’

‘I’m seventy-six now, Martha, I don’t think any men will be interested in me.’

‘You’d be surprised, Marjorie,’ said Martha bitterly. ‘If I can get caught out, there’s little hope for you.’

Martha finished her egg and decided the quality wasn’t quite good enough to warrant eating the second one. Instead, she poured tea into a delicate china cup, poured in a small amount of milk, stirred it gently, and took a large sip.

‘At least the tea is made properly,’ she said.

Marjorie got to her feet. ‘I’d better get on with running your bath.’

‘Leave it for twenty minutes, I don’t want to bathe on a full stomach.’

‘Yes, Martha,’ replied Marjorie.

‘You can get in after me.’ Martha ordered. ‘We’ll share the water. Our gas bill was enormous over the last quarter.’

Marjorie walked to the door. ‘I’ll come back for the tray when you’re in the bath, shall I?’

Martha nodded, picked up another piece of toast and bit into it.

‘Off you go then. Make sure the kitchen is properly cleaned, I don’t want to be stepping on bits of egg shell when I come down.’

 

When Marjorie had taken away the breakfast tray, Martha got out of bed, removed her nightgown and slipped into a striped bath robe. Removing her turban, she studied herself in the dressing table mirror, running her fingers through her sparse, white hair before holding a hand mirror behind her head. Cursing the latest, seriously expensive, but useless, scalp cream, she walked quickly to the bathroom where she dampened her hair in the sink before rubbing a generous handful of the supposed miracle, steroid cream, onto her head.

Martha had always been envious of her mother’s shoulder length, chestnut curls. When Alice was young, people used to compare her to the Hollywood actress, Rita Hayworth, and indeed, there had been a remarkable likeness. Martha wasn’t as fortunate, she hadn’t been exactly unattractive when she was young, but she could hardly be classed as a beauty. Her hair had always been straight and thin, almost lank. Even in old age, Alice, her mother, had managed to keep a full head of hair, she had even retained some of her natural colour until she was well into her sixties.

Martha assumed she got her looks, and her hair, from Frank, her father, who had died somewhere in the Atlantic the year after her birth. Maybe she got the hair problems from Frank’s mother, Edna, was it? How was the hair gene passed down? She doubted it was a matriarchal thing, after all, her daughter and granddaughter both had dark, healthy, heads of hair. She decided to blame it on Alice anyway. They had always hated each other. There was talk of her mother practicing witchcraft in the attic of the farmhouse. Perhaps she had placed a curse on her first born, or simply used toxic chemicals when she washed her hair in the bath when she was a baby. Alice was capable of anything.

After bathing, she returned to the sink and rinsed out the sticky cream with fresh warm water, then she returned to the bathroom, calling to Marjorie on the way.

‘The bath’s all yours, be quick, the water isn’t too hot.’

In the bedroom, Martha pulled on a black and grey checked skirt and a white, silk blouse before opening a hat box that sat on the dressing table. She took out a steel-grey wig and pulled it over her patchy clumps of hair. She sat for a few minutes, tugging it first to the right, then the left, then the back. Finally satisfied, she applied a dab of rouge to her cheeks and went downstairs to the lounge where she turned on the radio and listened to the latest international news program. Radio 4 and the BBC TV news were her only source of information. She had cancelled the newspapers to save money some years before.

A few minutes later she heard Marjorie come down the stairs and five minutes after that, her younger sister walked into the lounge carrying a tray laden with Martha’s favourite china tea service. She was wearing a maroon skirt, a cream blouse and a navy cardigan.

‘I thought I’d use the best china as it’s a special day,’ she said.

Martha pursed her lips, looked Marjorie up and down, then shook her head.

‘You aren’t going to a solicitor’s office dressed like that, surely?’

‘What’s wrong with it?’ Marjorie looked down at her chest.

‘It’s not really fitting for the occasion is it? We’re attending the formal reading of a will; we’re not going to a coffee morning at the Women’s Institute.’

‘I… I thought.’

‘Don’t think, Marjorie. It seldom works out well for either of us.’

Marjorie looked confused. ‘What should I wear then?’

Martha sighed. ‘I’m not your dresser,’ she said, testily. ‘Wear the black knitted suit you wore to Mother’s funeral. That will look much more business-like.’

‘The hat had a veil on it,’ Marjorie protested.

Martha slammed her hand down onto the dining table making Marjorie jump.

‘Then don’t wear the bloody hat.’

Sniffling, Marjorie left the room.

‘And don’t take all day about it,’ called Martha. ‘Nicola is picking us up at eleven.’

Marjorie’s tear-stained face appeared around the dining room door.

‘Why are we leaving so early, Martha?’ She sniffed, pulled a handkerchief from the sleeve of her cardigan and wiped her nose. ‘The appointment isn’t until one-thirty.’

‘We’re going to have a look at our old home, Marjorie. I want to see what state the outbuildings are in. I’ve got big plans for that place.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unspoken. Book Facts

Unspoken, my new novel, spans three generations over 80 years, but the events at the heart of the story, take place during a period of just ten days.

The Louise Wise Interview


I have conducted an author’s interview with the wonderful author, Louise Wise on her writer’s blog, where I talk about the writing process and how my new novel, Unspoken, was created.
Thank  you, Louise. I’m really pleased with it.

From the author of UNSPOKEN, @tabelshaw reveals all! #sagas #womensfiction #historical #fiction #mustread #bookrelease

 

 

 

 

Signed Author Copies of Unspoken.

What a week it has been. The first paperback copies have been bought from Amazon, the eBook is picking up a lot of interest and now has SIX 5* reviews on Amazon and TWO 5* on Goodreads with the promise of many more to come.

In October, I have a blog tour organised and in November, a one day blitz by a team of bloggers worldwide. In September I will be featured in the Ilkeston Life newspaper.

Today I heard from Reedsy that one of their top reviewers is going to give an editorial review for Unspoken and I’m seriously looking forward to reading what they have to say.

Meanwhile, on the home front, I am expecting my first batch of author copy, paperbacks to sign and send out to readers. I only ordered ten to see how they go but I’ve already had requests for more than that so I’ve placed another order which will be delivered by Amazon in the coming days.

If you would like a signed copy, the cost is £7.99 plus £3.00 postage to anywhere in the UK. International postage rates will, of course, be higher. You can order one from me via my Facebook Page, or leave a comment on here and I’ll get in touch via email.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has shown interest in Unspoken, especially those who supported me through a very tough, last few years when writing novels was the last thing on my mind.

To any future buyer, could I please ask a favour. All authors in this day and age need help to become a success and by leaving a review, no matter how short, on Amazon and Goodreads you will show to others how highly you rated Unspoken and this might encourage them to read it too.

Thank You.

Trevor.

T.A.Belshaw

Unspoken Paperback Released.

I am delighted to announce the release of The paperback version of Unspoken. It’s a large book, 9×6 instead of the normal, 8×5 size and with the beautiful cover, designed by the fabulous, Jane Dixon Smith, it really stands out. At 408 pages it will take you a while to read it too.

The book is available now, from Amazon, worldwide. Author signed copies will be available on request in about a fortnight.

Here’s the universal link for Unspoken ebook and paperback.

http://getbook.at/TABelshawUnspoken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unspoken. The first reviews are in

 

click cover to buy.

Phew!
The noise that comes out of every author’s mouth when the first positive review arrives on your Amazon book page. It is usually a long, frustrating wait unless you were smart enough, unlike me, to sent out pre, publication books to prospective reviewers.

This time around, I was lucky enough to receive two very early ones. Readers need time to read the book after all and not all will want to share their opinions of the work in public.

Happily I received two early reviews on the same day and not only were both positive, they were both 5*

A Beautiful Story.

A Fabulous Heartwarming Read.

It doesn’t get much better than this for an author, whether they turn out three or four books a year, or, like me, it’s the first book in five years and a journey into a whole new genre.

In other news, I have discovered that Unspoken is at number 40 in the Amazon, Hot New Saga Release chart and that the book has now been bought in six different countries.

UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Canada and Spain.

Well, that’s enough excitement for one day. I need a lie down.

Thank you everyone.

Author Interview

I have just been answering questions about my writing on the fabulous, Jo Lambert Blog.

Jo is a brilliant author and it was a privilege to be asked to appear on her website.

You can find the interview and links to her own new novel, below.

Tuesday Talk welcomes author Trevor Belshaw who talks about how be became a writer and showcases his new book Unspoken…

 

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