A Madman in Spurling Wood


Our short story of the week is a story about a loner by Brindley Hallam Dennis.

Brindley Hallam Dennis lives on the edge of England and writes short stories, many of which have been broadcast, published and performed. Some have won prizes. He writes to be read aloud, but is uncomfortable with the ‘p’ word.

He began writing at school in the 1960s. Took a fifteen-year break (writer’s block), and circa 1998 resumed, writing his first short stories as Brindley Hallam Dennis. He writes in other genres (poetry, plays and essays… mostly on the short story) as Mike Smith. Neither is really a pen name… but one is pre and the other post adoption. He doesn’t mind people knowing this, if it interests them.

A Madman in Spurling Wood follows a national park caretaker who notices something strange in the woods.


Let me tell you about yourself. You were only a little unhinged. You just wanted a quiet life. Where could be quieter than a national park? A job in a national park. Trees. Lakes. Mountains. Tranquillity.

There were the tourists, of course, but you learned to avoid them. Besides, there wouldn’t have been any jobs without the tourists. There wouldn’t have been any car parks. There wouldn’t have been any toilet blocks to clean.

They’d assumed you wanted the Tourist Liaison Officer post. Warm office. Secretary. Meetings. Seminars. Talks. Salary plus expenses.

Are you sure? They couldn’t believe it. Aren’t you, you know, a little bit overqualified? Won’t you get bored? Maintenance Operative? Must be self-motivating. Must have driving licence. Vehicle provided. Flexible hours. Accommodation included.

You assured them you wouldn’t. Looking after twenty toilet blocks, on twenty car parks, over two hundred square miles of wilderness wouldn’t be boring at all. Well, you were right about that.

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