Here’s an extract from my novel The Cloths of Heaven (Myriad Editions 2009), in which cloth, particularly cloth featuring recurring Virgin Marys, the Pope, or Bob Marley, plays an important role…

Father Seamus woke to the sound of an injured animal howling outside the gates of the compound. He looked at his watch.  It was nearly four o’clock. He felt around for his dressing gown, a recent gift from Isabel.  It ranked high in his list of favourite possessions, depicting as it did, repeating patterns of orange weeping Virgin Marys.  By the time he had found his torch and sandals, the noise had stopped.

He stood on the steps of the house peering out into the darkness.  The animal, whatever it had been, must have crawled off to die in the bush.  But as he turned to go back into the house he noticed a small mound by the gate. Father Seamus was used to gifts being brought to the Mission.  He and Sister Mary Philomena often came home to find baskets of tomatoes and aubergines or paper twists of groundnuts by the gate but he could not recall there being anything left there the evening before. He walked to the gate. There was a smell of blood.  He frowned.  They normally only received meat at Id al-Fitr.  The priest knelt down and peeled away the layers of damp crimson cotton.

“Oh, Jesus Christ!” he whispered. “Jesus Christ!”  He gathered up the bundle, holding the broken body of Abdulai Jammeh tight to his chest.