CARBON DATING by Mark Gorton

Not so long ago I had a life expectancy to die for and lived in the High Lands where it’s always summer. I was 56 but looked 26 and could buy anything and everything. I could go where the hell I liked, even off-world to resorts where inverted sail boats navigate the waters way above your head. All thanks to the man who’d orphaned me when I was 5 years old and left me a couple of billion and some hot patents by way of recompense.

Murder and money had made me an instant A-list Sleb, famous at first for being so young, so alone and so wealthy, a mysterious Golden Child, silent and wide eyed. Later I became one of the planet’s most eligible bachelors. And then, as years passed by, I gained notoriety for being reclusive and unattached. You see, I wouldn’t, couldn’t play the game. I was solitary and introverted and reluctant to share my life and likeness with modern madness.

In the end I gave people the creeps, Slebs and Plebs alike, and started to get plenty of bad press. I was the focus of hate campaigns and death threats. In truth I was a single man worth a fortune, but universally acknowledged to be in want of a life.

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THE PAST IS A DISTANT PLANET

When I was four years old my family moved from a council house on Blackburn’s Higher Croft estate to number 1 Adelaide Terrace. My mum and dad had bought the first home of their own and it was all very exciting. It had a cellar and an attic both of which were tailor made for imagination and the sort of games that ended up scaring the pants off you.

It was also very well positioned. Walk down the Terrace to Dukes Brow, turn left and make the ascent to Corporation Park and East Lancashire Cricket Club; or turn right and go downhill to Preston New Road which went into town.

On the New Road lived two important grown-ups. One was Mr Liebmann, or Fritz to my parents. They had become friends in the late 1940’s.

Mr Liebmann was a German Jew who had been allowed to leave Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s because his wife was not Jewish. He ended up in Blackburn because a contact at the Newman slipper factory gave him work. Mrs Liebmann was a talented dressmaker and set up in business and did quite well out of it. Together they made a nice home. Continue reading “THE PAST IS A DISTANT PLANET”

THE LANCASHIRE WITCH HUNT OF 1612

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The story of the murders of the Lancashire witches.

Britain’s most destructive single witch hunt took place in Lancashire in 1612. It was our equivalent of Salem: twenty innocent men and women were tried; ten were executed; an eleventh had already died in prison.

The trial is remarkable for two reasons: first, it heard bizarre evidence of feuds between warring families of witches, of souls sold to the Devil and supernatural murders; second, it appears to have been recorded in unique detail for posterity by clerk Thomas Potts.  His account was published as The Wonderful Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster.

The witch hunter was local Puritan magistrate, Roger Nowell. Serving God, King and himself, Nowell manipulated witnesses and orchestrated events in court in order to frame the defendants. Potts re-arranged the evidence for publication to justify the verdicts and cover up what had really happened.

Nowell was the stage manager of an extraordinary show trial. Potts was his spin doctor.

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