19-year-old Mylie O'Farrel is interested in music, girls and wild nights out on the town in London. Then Harry, an elderly ex-army officer, is brought into the psychiatric unit where Mylie works, purportedly for having attempted to strangle his wife.
Harry, who has no visitors, is suffering from melancholia. Both Harry and Mylie are having difficulties with the women in their lives.
Through a series of story, often humorous, meetings, the youth and old man become friends.
As, little by little, Mylie realises that Harry is harbouring a secret terror, the young man gambles on bringing this into the open so his friend can be set free.
1 When I was very small I had an obsession with the sea. It was a problem for my Mum and Dad who only had to let me out of their sight for a moment and I was off, stubby legs pumping over the sand and heading straight for that dangerous embrace. Here, tonight, I feel the reawakening of that compulsive need as I gaze down at the shifting surf about my legs, my feet already numb so that I am no longer aware of the coldness of the water, no longer aware that I am still wearing boots and socks or the wetness of my skin beneath my jeans. I am aware, without the slightest sense of strangeness, of the ghostly figures that have come to stand in the water beside me. There is more than one kind of ghost. ‘What happened, Mylie?’ I say nothing. The voice is that of my mother, Brenda, who is standing there next to my uncle, Tony. Tony is wearing his Johnny Cash rug. Underneath the rug Tony has that shiny baldness you see in some men at an early age, especially those who lose at gambling. Normally when I see Tony I can’t take my eyes off his bald head because I worry about my own hair. I have thick hair that is hard to control, but I still worry that one of these days I’ll look at myself in the mirror and I’ll see that same bald head shining back at me. ‘Will you look at the state of him!’ Tony says. ‘I hope he knows the trouble he’s in.’ It is only half a dream. I am floating between two worlds. My feet stand in the English Channel. Out there, beyond the horizon – invisible, although my eyes turn slowly towards it – is France. Above my dizzy, inebriated head is the starry sky of deepest night. With another turn of my head, I gaze back towards the distant figure of Harry, cloaked in shadow, by the embers of the distant fire on the beach. I think about the Hindu concept of Kismet, which is another word for fate. I say nothing. About a month ago, there was a programme on Channel 4 that captured my imagination. It was a nature programme, one of those I like to watch. I had just arrived back at The Palace from working earlies and missed the start but I could see that it was going to be interesting. It was about a river in Australia whose banks had burst during heavy rain, and in the banks of the river lived some colonies of spiders. It was really incredible: there were millions upon millions of these spiders. They lived in burrows under the ground but when the river burst its banks it flooded the spiders’ burrows. You’d have thought they were done for. But the spiders swarmed up out of their holes in the ground. You should have seen them, scrambling up the tall reeds, where they began to spin their webs. These covered the banks, all running together until they became one huge cloud of silk floating over the landscape as far as the eye could see. I watched this with a growing sense of wonder. If you were a spider and you had to climb up those tall reeds to spin your webs, it must seem as if you had gone to live in the clouds. The spiders just floated on the breeze in what turned out to be their new home. They captured grasshoppers and other bugs to eat and they went on with their lives, safe from the floods that had washed away their burrows down in the ground.
Between Clouds has only just been made available as an e-book, including amazon kindle. Please note that this book is an abridged version of my hardcover novel, Taking Care of Harry - the laddish humour has been removed to focus entirely on the central story of Mylie and Harry and their respective lady loves and betrayals.
It’s kind of comforting to hear Corinne’s beautiful hurt-voice rendering of "Like a Star", as if I were sharing contact soul-to-soul with the magic of her new star being born.