Katherine Gregor

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Katherine Gregor (a.k.a. Scribe Doll) is a literary translator and scribbler who has also been an EFL teacher, theatrical agent, press agent, theatre director, complementary medicine practitioner, and one or two other things. Perhaps that's why the literary characters she relates to most are Arlecchino, Truffaldino, Gianni Schicchi and Scapin, and feels empathy with crows, squirrels and cats. She lives in Norwich, Norfolk.

Welcoming In The New Year*

Raid all the cupboards and drawers.  Throw into the charity shop bag anything you no longer want, toss into the bin liner anything nobody would want.  Make room for the beautiful, the useful, the new.

Vacuum the carpets, remove the old footprints, that old and new friends may walk in and leave their footprints, instead.

Wash the windows, that golden sunlight may stream into the house, bringing strength to your enterprises, and the silver moonlight may permeate through, carrying inspiration into your dreams.

Scrub the kitchen, chase away stale old smells, that the stove, pots and pans may be ready for new, tasty dishes to bring together friends, and make the body healthy.

Tidy the clutter from the living room, light the fire, that its glow might kindle sparkling conversations, its magic inspire storytelling, and its warmth encourage laughter.

Clean the bedroom, erase all tiredness, that rest may become refreshing, chase away all nightmares, that happy dreams may take root, dispel all doubts, that pleasure may enter smiling, sweep away any anger, that love may flood in.

Put order in the study, that good ideas may find their way in.

Clear the desk, that work, creativity and good fortune may have a place to land.

Burn frankincense or sage, clap your hands, ring bells, make the bowl sing, that all goblins may flee and fairies fly in. 

Take all dead and dying plants out of the house, to the nearby wood.  Nature knows better than the rubbish bin what to do with them.

Write down on pieces of paper the names of all men and women you no longer want in your life.  Say "Thank you", "Sorry", and "That's all right" and drop the pieces of paper into the river one by one.  As you watch them being carried away by the stream, wish them well, that they go on to be gifts in other people's lives.  Let them float away, that they may make room for new people to come into your life.  People who bring love, wisdom and laughter.

Stand under the shower and think rainbows flowing through you.

Fling open all the windows, open the front door, that health, wealth, inspiration, love, laughter may pour in.

And may 2016 sweep into your lives with fulfilled dreams by the armful!

You might also enjoy A Broom To Sweep Out The Old

Scribe Doll 

Recent Comments
Jane Phillipson Wilson
It's so nice to hear you sound like yourself. Best wishes for a wonderful year. xox Jane
Thursday, 31 December 2015 20:44
Katherine Gregor
And a very happy, healthy, serene year to you, Jane :–)
Thursday, 31 December 2015 21:38
Ken Hartke
You need to come visit me. By the way, I have all the sage you could ever want. Rest up after your busy day and have a happy new... Read More
Thursday, 31 December 2015 20:50
956 Hits

There's no Santa Claus but...


Tamsin wrote the letter with her favourite pen.  The blue and gold one she had got for her birthday.  She formed all the letters carefully, so Santa Claus would be able to read her handwriting.  Her grandmother said good children had clear, neat handwriting.  She folded the sheet of paper, slipped it in the envelope, licked the flap and pressed it down hard.  Then she wrote "To Santa Claus" on the front.


In the living room, her grandmother had laid the table for afternoon tea.  She smiled at Tamsin. "Come and have some cake, darling," she said.  "Have you finished writing to Santa Claus?"

"Yes.  I hope he brings me the teddy bear. I put him at the top of my list and I did say I want the brown one with the yellow paws and a green bow.  Do you think he'll bring it for me?"

The grandmother cut a slice of chocolate fudge cake and put it on Tamsin's plate.  "I'm absolutely sure he will," she said.  "Now give me the letter so I can post it for you."

Tamsin handed her the envelope.  "Can't we post it together when we go for a walk after tea?"

"Oh, no, my love," her grandmother replied.  "Santa Claus's letters have to go into a special postbox.  It's a bit far from here but I can post it on my way home tonight."

Tamsin put a forkful of cake into her mouth and frowned.

"Don't you like the cake, sweetheart?"

Tamsin nodded.  "Yes."  She swallowed.  "Grandma, is Daddy coming for Christmas this year?"

The grandmother had been dreading that question for the past three Christmases. This year too she gave the same answer.  "No, my love. I'm afraid Daddy isn't coming."

The little girl toyed with her fork.  "He's never coming back."

The grandmother fought the impulse to contradict her.  Of course, he is, she wanted to say.  After all, that's what she had said last year and the year before that, but there seemed little point in deceiving the child any longer.  Someday, someone would have to explain to Tamsin that her father had walked out on his wife and two-year-old daughter but, for the time being, the grandmother opted for silence.

"Is Mummy coming back tonight?" the child asked.

"Of course, she is. Why wouldn't she be?"

Tamsin put her fork down.  "She won't never come back from work, will she?"

The grandmother pulled her down from her chair, sat her on her lap and kissed the top of her blonde head.  "Your Mummy and I will never leave you, my darling.  We love you so, so much."


Tamsin was fast asleep when her mother unlocked the door to the flat.  The grandmother was reading on the sofa.  She closed her book.  "I'm afraid she waited up for you as late as she could, but she fell asleep on the chair, so I put her to bed.  You're late, again."

The mother took off her coat and hung it up on the hook by the front door.  She slipped off her high-heeled shoes and went to join her mother on the sofa.  She sighed.  "I'm sorry, I had to finish a report.  I didn't dare say no."

"Tamsin hardly ever sees you.  Breakfast time and weekends.  That's about it."

"I'm doing my best, Mum.  I'm doing it all for her."

"I know.  Are you hungry? I've made some stew.  It's still warm.  I'd better get home now.  It's late."

She stood up from the sofa and looked at her daughter's drawn face.  Then she leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.  "Eat something," she said.  "It's Saturday tomorrow, so you can sleep in.  Then you and Tamsin can spend the weekend together."


*   *   *


Tamsin  bounced onto her mother's bed.  "Mummy!  Where are we going today?"

Her mother's eyes opened with a start.  "What time is it? Oh, darling, why don't you cuddle up here and let Mummy sleep a little longer?"

"But it's eight o'clock!"

"Just give me a few more minutes, love.  Why don't you go and set the table for breakfast?"


Putting out the cereal bowls, Tamsin wondered if her grandmother had remembered to post her letter to Santa Claus.


The morning was spent in Tamsin's least favourite place:  the supermarket.  She hated food shopping.  It always took ages.  After lunch, however, her mother took them into town.  All the shops were decorated with tinsel, baubles and fairy lights.  Tamsin loved it.  Whenever she stopped to look at a dress or a box of paints, her mother asked, "Do you like it, darling? Do you think you might like to have it someday?"

"No, thanks, Mummy," she replied.  After all, there was no point in her mother buying her anything when Santa Claus already had her wish list.  Imagine if she got two of the same!


When they entered Tamsin's favourite department store, her mother directed them to the toy floor.  "Why are we going there, Mummy?"

"We need to buy something for our neighbour Timmy," the mother replied.  "What do you suppose he'd like?"

"Oh, Timmy only likes cars," Tamsin said with a huff.


If ever her grandmother could not pick her up from school, she went home with her neighbour, Timmy and his mum.  They lived in the flat opposite.  Timmy was a year younger than Tamsin, and his mother's cakes weren't nearly as good as the ones her grandmother made.


"Oh, look, Tamsin, isn't this the teddy bear you like so much?" her mother suddenly asked.

There they were, arranged in a pyramid atop a velvet puff: the teddy bears Tamsin had seen advertised on television.  Black ones with the red paws, and white ones with blue paws.  She tried to look away from the brown ones with the yellow paws and green bows.  "Er, no... not really," she said.


Her mother picked up a car that was a model of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  "I think Timmy will like this.  Look, you can pull the wings open."


They joined the queue to pay.  Tamsin was bored and hot.  Why were they buying a present for Timmy, anyway? It's not as if it was his birthday or anything.


Tamsin's mother suddenly took a sharp intake of breath.  "Oh, darling, don't forget you mustn't tell Timmy we bought him the Chitty car.  He's younger than you and he still believes in Santa Claus.  You're a big girl now, you don't believe in all this silly nonsense any more, but don't spoil it for little Timmy."


There were suddenly red blotches before Tamsin's eyes.  Everything went quiet, as though she was in a dream.


"Tamsin, did you hear me? I'm talking to you.  Darling, you've gone all pale.  Are you not feeling well?"

"Yes, Mummy, all right, I won't tell Timmy."

"Good girl."


The rest of the afternoon was a blur.  Tamsin's mother thought they had been out too long and that her daughter was tired.  It was unusual for her to be so quiet.  She even went to bed straight after dinner and did not insist on watching television.


*   *   *


On Christmas morning, Tamsin did not wake up with the usual excitement.  After breakfast, she sat by the tree and unwrapped a brown teddy bear with yellow paws and a green bow.  She wondered whether it was her mother or her grandmother who'd gone to buy it at the department store.  It was a beautiful, soft bear.  She hugged it and decided to call it Mr Brown.  She kept it with her the whole day and when it was time for bed she put him next to her on the pillow, and stroked his velvet nose.  "Shall I tell you a story?" she whispered.  She felt silly as soon as she had said it.

"Yes, please.  I love stories," came the reply.

Tamsin sat up and turned on the bedside lamp.  There was no one else in the room.  She switched the lamp off again and hugged the bear closer.  

"So, are you going to tell me a story then?"

Tamsin was astonished.  "Is that you, Mr Brown?" she said.

"Well, who else is here?" he replied in a soft, gentle voice.

"But toys don't talk," Tamsin said.

"I do," said the teddy bear.  "Only don't tell anyone."

"It will be our secret," Tamsin whispered.

Then she pulled the duvet over their heads, so her mother would not hear their voices,  and began telling him a story.



Scribe Doll


Recent Comments
Nice story, Katherine. Enjoyed it. But I'm still not sure. Is there Santa Claus or isn't there? I'm 81 now and I need to find ou... Read More
Monday, 21 December 2015 18:02
Katherine Gregor
Ooh, what do you think?
Monday, 21 December 2015 20:25
Stephen Evans
Charming, and Tamsin is such an interesting choice for the girl's name.
Wednesday, 23 December 2015 03:44
990 Hits

Socially Impaired

I am brusquely jolted from my mellow, Sunday morning slumber.  I've just remembered.  I have to go to a party this afternoon.  Oh, heck.  


"I wish I didn't have to go," I tell H. over a plateful of French toast.


He's heard this before.  Many times.  Every time we've been invited to a social event involving more than two or three other people.


"Oh, I'm really looking forward to it," he says.


H. is shy at large gatherings.  I turn into a social butterfly.  He spends a lot of time examining the host's bookshelves.  I flit about, trying to impress as many people as I can.  He is relaxed.  I have a nervous clump in my stomach.  When we first met, H. remarked on how perfectly "in (my) element" I was at parties.  He knows me better now.


I get dressed, paint my face and grumble,  H. tactfully avoids pointing out that, had I not been invited, I would be sulking and complaining that "nobody ever invites me anywhere".  He knows me well.


We arrive.  H.'s attention is drawn to the books lining the living room walls.  I dive into the fray, flashing smiles, joining in the conversation, my brain on overdrive.  Everybody I speak to is very pleasant, interesting, easy to to talk to.  I enjoy the conversation.  So there's no reason why I should be constantly aware of the clump in my stomach.


A couple of hours later, like a cat that's just noticed a chink in a fence, I detect an opportunity for a socially acceptable exit.  I dart in search of H. and can barely repress my irritation at seeing he has just helped himself to cake.  I bristle.  How long is it going to take him to finish that cake? I whizz around kissing, thanking and wishing a happy Christmas.  Oh, good, H. has finished his cake.  Quick, the coats.  Anyone would think I was having a miserable time, yet nothing could be further from the truth.  I fly out of the front door like a bat out of hell, and walk fast along the pavement.  All the time, I'm thinking about how much I liked the people at the party, and how much I'd like to see them again.  At the same time, I can't wait to get home.  I know exactly what I will do once I'm there.


The second we're back in our flat, I rush into the kitchen and put the kettle on.  In the living room, I light the fire and all the candles and night lights.  I don't want the lamps on.  Not yet.  I change from my skirt and blouse into my leggings and oversized lambswool man's cardigan.  


Within five minutes of coming back home, I am sitting on the floor, staring into the wavering blue flames of the gas fire, sipping almond tea from a bone china mug, listening to the yearning violin of Von Biber's Rosary Sonatas.  The fragrant tea and the music soothe my frantic soul back into my body.  H. comes to sit behind me, on the sofa, and picks up the mug of tea I've left for him on the low table.


We sit in silence, except for the shooshing of the gas fire and the soulful baroque violin.


The clump in my stomach slowly dissolves, and I feel whole again.


"It's all right, we can put the lamps on now, if you like," I say to H. as I get off the floor.  



Scribe Doll

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Charm, and thoroughly familiar ... Read More
Monday, 14 December 2015 00:56
Katherine Gregor
:–) I guess we're introverts, really.
Monday, 14 December 2015 10:08
Seems you're a little young for such an attitude. It's alright for me. I'm 81 and it drives me crazy that I can't convince people ... Read More
Monday, 14 December 2015 03:48
950 Hits

Advent Carols at Norwich Cathedral

"We should get there at least half an hour earlier to get a decent seat."

"Half an hour!"

"Bring a book."

"I don't know... reading a book in church?"

"Other people chat before the service, which I find infuriating.  At least quietly reading a book doesn't disturb anybody else."


Convinced by my logic, H. stuffs a book into his coat pocket, while I slip the usual A4. brown, spiral notebook into my bag.

We are greeted at the entrance of the Cathedral by ladies and gentlemen who hand us an order of service with the usual, upstanding citizen smile of church wardens all over the country.


We notice a large proportion of seats in the nave being marked Reserved for Ticket Holders.  "So much for the democracy of the Church," I say out loud.  "Are we becoming as exclusive as King's College Chapel now?" I think that even at the Temple Church, which I regularly attended in London, and where every molecule of the congregation oozes a sense of almost aggressive hierarchy, seats were occupied on a first come, first served basis, whether you were a QC, a court clerk, or just me.


"I don't know if we're King's College Chapel," says an elderly gentleman with a Cathedral badge on his lapel, "but you can go beyond the organ screen, in the presbytery.  It's great to sit there."  He gives me a half smile to which I beam a sincere "thank you." 

We take seats in the second row of the Mediaeval presbytery seats, wide and with comfortable rounded backs to support you.


I peruse the order of service.  On the first page, I read: 

Since the effectiveness of the service partly depends upon hearing from a distance, you are invited, when standing, to turn to face the direction from which the sound is coming.


I remember reading this in last year's order of service too and, then like now, stifling a giggle.  I wonder if there is really anyone above the age of six months unable to work that out for him or herself, or why special authorisation is needed to turn your head towards the sound.


As the organ pours notes of Bach and Brahms into the air, the lights are switched off one by one, until we are plunged in a darkness disrupted only by the golden half-light of the outdoor illumination floating down through the arched windows and gently lingering on the stone pillars.  I hold my breath in marvel.  In the darkness the Cathedral seems to come into a life of its own, and find the voice of its history, of all the Benedictine monks that prayed here, eight centuries ago.  During that – sadly brief – moment of silence, I think I hear them gossiping, discussing theology, begging forgiveness, reading the Rule of Saint Benedict, or uttering a prayer to the Almighty.  


The clergy gather under the Advent wreath, the candles flames casting flickering shadows over their faces.  After the blessing of the light, they process past us to the West end of the Cathedral.  Last, walks the Bishop of Norwich, wearing a mitre.  I find myself wondering if he knows the ancient reason for the pyramid shape of his headgear.  The same reason why  in early churches, the altar was always beneath a dome.  The same reason why wizards' hats are traditionally conical.  A reason of physics.  Yet another piece of ancient wisdom that's been widely forgotten.


O come, O come, Emmanuel,

Redeem thy captive Israel (...)


My favourite Advent hymn.  There is something arcanely wise and full of longing in its tune.  I belt it out, hoping I'm not going off tune.  I haven't sung in a very long time, and my vocal cords feel somewhat stiff and uncooperative.


"... the Lord Jesus Christ be with you."

"And also with you," is the response printed in the order of service.  But I cannot speak those words.  I have never been able to.  They always sound so mundane to me.  Instead, I mutter under my breath, "And with thy spirit." 


I suddenly recall the religious fervour sometimes bordering on intolerance that I witnessed at my old Durham college.  Where many viewed "thee"s, "thou"s, the King James Bible and especially incense with frowning suspicion.  A college in whose Norman chapel the first Catholic mass since the Reformation took place in 1989, after much campaigning with the College Council.  I was at that mass, one of the majority of Anglicans come to support the triumph of our Catholic fellow students.


The voices of the choir are carried over from beyond the organ screen.  The rich voices of the men, the limpid, crystal-clear voices of the girls, and the vulnerable, moonbeam-like voices of the boys.  


Advent Sunday is when I give myself permission to start indulging in a Christmas activities, such as listening to carols.  Also when I start feeling the atmosphere of Christmas.


After the solemn blessing, the choir sing a Vesper Responsory.  Its melody is full of mystery and hope.  It spreads throughout the Cathedral and rises up to the fan vaulting.


As we come out into the cold, starry night, I realise that, unlike other years, I do not feel a sense of Christmas.  Not yet.  But as I look up at the starts shimmering like diamonds in the black-blue sky, I feel a sense of hope.


Scribe Doll 

 Please also read my piece about the Temple Church.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Thanks for sharing your sparkling account, Katia. Always good to prepare well for this season, the opening of a new year (which I ... Read More
Sunday, 29 November 2015 22:47
Katherine Gregor
Thank you, Rosy. Let's hope so :–)
Monday, 30 November 2015 08:41
Orna Raz
Your story about the reserved seats reminded me of Barbara Pym's books. Have you read A Glass of Blessings? I am sure you would lo... Read More
Monday, 30 November 2015 06:06
1518 Hits

Writing For Life

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Beautifully written...change, the one thing that is constant for all of us...
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Beautifully said, Rosy. Cheers to you. X
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