Saturday, 31 January 2009


This is such a beautiful word. As well as the usual black silhouettes so beloved of the Victorians, it conjures up visions of cameo brooches; in my mind I see the delicate shell carvings of aristocratic profiles and flowing locks on pale, pink tinted backgrounds. These miniature works of art, small and beautiful, have the quality of wonder about them. How did the carver see the possibilities within the shell, let alone translate his inner vision for others to share?

So when Angie used the word vignette to describe my yesterday's 'Thames Twilight', I considered it high praise indeed. When I wrote it, I was merely trying to share my thoughts about the scene laid out before me. I guess I was translating into language my perception of that one moment in time, for others to almost experience it for themselves as they read my words and allowed their imagination to come into play.

Although I love to write, I've never felt drawn to attempt such grandiose work as a novel. I stand in awe of people who can construct plots and characters and let them weave their magic. But the lure of words has me firmly in its unrelenting grip. Add this to a kind of photographic memory and you will understand why the next part of this post came into being.

The Shopper - A Prose Poem

Stooped, slow moving, the little old lady shuffles past towering supermarket shelves. A tapping stick provides some semblance of security for her, as she gazes awkwardly with head lowered, because the bent back no longer allows her to carry it proudly erect as she did when young.

She exudes an air of timorous frailty; even the fabric of her ankle length cotton dress quivers in sympathy with the slight tremor of her gnarled and knotted fingers. She slowly grasps a packet from the shelf and brings it closer to her cloudy eyes to confirm its contents.

She seems almost to shrink whilst you are looking at her. You feel that if you were to blink in slow motion, when your eyes reopened, there might be nothing left to see but a heap of whisper soft material on the floor, alongside the straight, brown, wooden walking stick.

Friday, 30 January 2009

One Last Picture

At the end of yesterday's post, I realised what I'd have to add today - something I wrote all those years ago, sitting on deck, soaking up the atmosphere. I called it

Thames Twilight

The setting sun casts its pink gold aura
over sky and river.
Misty purple shadows deepen.
Unseen, small nocturnal animals
begin to rustle through dry undergrowth
along the riverbank.

After the heat of day, evening cool
encourages fish to feed.Their mouth's
plop surface bubbles in mistake for flies
and create widening, concentric circles
which lazily overlap
on the mirror-silvered water.

In the air above, mosquitoes and midges
dance erratically in chaotic cloud formation,
swarms of small grey ghosts in the twilight.
Birds call and roost.
A great calm descends upon the scene
and still the soul of one who watches.

Since I wrote these words, I've tried many times to rewrite the whole thing in a recognised poetic form, but always I come back to the original picture and it won't let me alter anything. I guess it has to be another one of those 'it just is' creations, which will never please a 'proper' poet. But at least, it may allow you to get the picture?

Thursday, 29 January 2009

More Bothersome Boating

Having hitched a ride on a passing pigeon, I am now ready to embark on the next floating adventure along the Thames - in retrospect, at least.

With Bro and his family by now sampling the delights of New Zealand, the Thames crew that signed up for the trip had a slightly different line up from the one on the Norfolk Broads.
Aged P's, yes, Me and Mine plus two kiddywinks, yes, but then our number was swelled by the inclusion of Cuz and three of our good neighbours.

As their two part, Dutch surname was Van * , they shall be referred to at all times by the short and sweet version. Here's a bit about them; Mr Van was a carpenter by trade, endowed with as much facial hair as my Bush Face Bro, but with dimples and a hearty belly laugh louder than said Bro's; Mrs Van was a midwife who didn't like the sight of blood, and who sometimes had difficulty in understanding the zanier side of our natures, despite always being game for a laugh, and their daughter was a classmate of our daughter and got on well with son. As daft as a brush, one and all, they had no difficulty fitting in with our tribe of intrepid boat people.

It was early summer, and the river was unduly high. Many of the willow trees looked more like mangoes as they rose out of the water where the riverbanks used to be. Sometimes there would be large, broken off tree branches swirling in the rushing current, so the person at the wheel had to keep a good lookout at all times. But we didn't have any mishaps - at least with trees...

I've just looked at an alphabetical list of locks on the river Thames. Marlow I remember without the list, as I have a photo I took early one morning when the world was pale rose and still, and the mirror image of Marlow church in the water was unsullied by the smallest ripple.
But some of the other names resonate in my mind, without having the slightest idea of their actual consecutive order...Teddington: Abingdon: Sonning: Cobham: Caversham: Eynsham: Whitchurch. Glorious lilting place names that blur into a haze of lazy days.

Locks, however, are anything but lazy places. There is a lot of tying up and untying of ropes, as boats form orderly queues waiting for a space in the lock ahead. While the lock is filling or emptying, depending on whether you are travelling up or down the river, there is plenty of time to stand on the towpath and gaze at the huge gates that hold back the high level of water from the low. Once boats on this lower stretch chug gently into position, the big lock gates behind them slowly close; those in front start opening and water gushes through the widening crack with a wonderful sloshing sound. The boats bob about cheerily as they rise on its man made tide.

Sounds easy peasey. Bearing in mind the Norfolk Broad mishap of the Hanging Boat, though, you can see the necessity for any craft going from the high to low water to be aware of the amount of slack needed in the mooring ropes.

There is one very clever Nautical Knot , the name of which escapes me, that may be quickly released as the boat sinks lower in the water of the lock and the mooring line needs to be jettisoned. Dad had us well drilled in the tying of this knot, but unfortunately, deck hand Mrs Van had a knotty problem with the intricacies of it occasionally. Galley Slave, (me), was busily concocting dinner for everyone, and saucepans were bubbling happily on top of the cooker as we entered this one particular lock, wherever it was. Kiddywinks were with Gran, in the for'ard cabin (lounge, to landlubbers), watching the weedy stones of the lock walls rise up outside the windows.

Suddenly the world took on a different slant - literally. One of our mooring lines was still firmly attached to both our boat and the lock edge, and was becoming tighter and tighter as the knot refused to be released and the water level rapidly lowered. Soon, horrendous creaking noises began to rend the air, as the stanchion on the boat was almost being pulled out of its socket in the fibreglass hull. We passengers inside the boat, only learned of this after the event. In our little world, the floor and everything else tilted alarmingly, our ears winced at the awful noises, then there was an almighty 'Wumph!' and everything was back on an even keel.

Mr Van. with great presence of mind, had whipped his trusty pocket knife out and sawn through the offending rope.

My saucepans lids eventually stopped rattling, along with small son's teeth, and calm was restored. Luckily, Dad's skill with ropes enabled him to splice the cut ends back together again, or goodness knows what we'd have used from then on!

So the sun sinks in the West, and I think its time to put the entire boat saga to rest in the watery reaches of the Thames, to sink into its murky depths for ever.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Haven't A Clue

Though havantaclue be my name,
I see I've made most feel the same;
but from Havant, the prize
goes to Arkansas the wise,
for Pat was ahead of the game! xxx

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


As I am unable to navigate yet more waterways to get directly to a new venue on the Thames for further hilarity on and around boats, I thought I would set a little brain teaser for anyone still awake enough to function after reading the previous meanderings. No prizes for working it out, but I will sing a good old barbershop song for the winner (in my head, and all four parts... no mean feat.)

A Question Of What...

Basses are the cornerstone
and musical foundation,
rounded out and glorified
by Bari's intonations.
Ever tuneful Leads
require stamina and zest
so their melodious singing can be
heard above the rest!
Over all the Tenors trill,
perfectly at ease with
high, not mighty, singing
as gentle as a breeze, for
regulating breath control
makes for a better sound, and,
once you know the pitfalls you
need to work around,
you've nearly got it!

But what? That's the question... answers by pigeon post will be disqualified if too seedy.

Monday, 26 January 2009

How High's The Water Momma?

I distinctly remember this as one of Bro's inane questions, to which he assured me the answer was "Five feet high and risin'!" If only....

You will deduce from this, it's back to the watery Norfolk Broads for today's story time. Pull up a bollard and I'll begin.
Graphic pictures may have stored themselves in some corner of my addled brain, but signposts (as per names of the places of which I'm about to speak) are conspicuous by their absence. So, at some anonymous little backwater, be it sufficient to know, we had found a perfect spot to tie up for the night. It was only mid afternoon when we chose this quiet nook, so there were not too many others who'd beaten us to it - something which was always a concern. All designated moorings were as renowned as carpark spaces for never being empty on demand.

This particular place was almost a mini bay. Its horseshoe shape curved invitingly in front of us, as the higher banks at the entrance sloped down towards the centre of the curve. I think Bro was steering. He and Dad took it in turns, so this is not to be taken as gospel, but one of them was, that's for sure. They gallantly steered close enough to the bank for me to hop off the boat, to catch the mooring line when it was lobbed at me. They cut the engine, so's the boat would have a gentle docking ( lesson from first day's head on charge had been well noted). I duly caught the rope, and endeavoured to comply with their shouted command of 'Pull!'. Normally, despite the boat being bigger and better than me, it would bob along happily after a relatively sedate tug, until the stern was parallel to the land and able to be secured.

Not this time.

I planted my feet more squarely and heaved again. Zilch. I took a deep breath and did a regular 'Heave-ho'. Still nada. Now I had both Bro and Dad telling me to pull, with ever increasing vehemence; one of them took pity on me, and added their efforts to the mix by using a boat hook as a kind of punting pole to lever the boat into the required position. Rien de rien.

After several minutes of huffing, puffing and raised levels of testosterone on the part of my two male relatives, a Norfolk native who'd been sitting on a nearby upturned rowboat, smoking his pipe, explained in his wonderful Norfolk accent that the water was only about eighteen inches deep, and we were aground... Even Atlas himself would not have been able to shift the boat, let alone me. We had ignored the fact the waterway was tidal, and as we'd hove to at low tide, the only way we'd ever float free was to wait until the tide turned and lifted us off the sandbank.

Irate relations calmed down at once, and I felt vindicated, for it was not because I was a weak and feeble woman that the boat had proved recalcitrant. Honour was saved.

Of course, the Old Salt with the pipe could have spoken sooner and saved us much embarrassment, but I guess he was enjoying the spectacle of foreigners freaking out. Can you blame him?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Commercial Break?

While messing about on the river has its ups and downs as a blog subject, I feel the need today to moor up in a quiet backwater for a spell, so have decided to insert this (almost) commercial break, in which readers will no doubt be able to overlay the manufacturer's name on the condiment in question.

A Saucy Tale

Tomato sauce (with burgers), tomato sauce (with chips),
Tomato sauce was almost all that passed through Georgie's lips.
Tomato sauce for dinner, tomato sauce for tea.
'Tomato sauce', said Georgie 'is the only food for me.'

His skin grew red, then redder, he really looked a sight.
He woke up shouting 'More sauce!' in the middle of the night.
He went to see a doctor about the dreams he had.
The doctor said 'Oh, deary me!' and looked a trifle sad.

'I fear it is tomato sauce that's causing all the fuss
and giving you the nightmares that are getting worse and worse.
Throw away the bottled sauce, try nuts or fish and pasta.
I think you'll find the nasty dreams will go away the faster!'

Georgie drew some pictures of fruit and veg and meat.
He pinned them up beside his bed before he went to sleep,
to remind him, in the morning, which healthy foods to choose,
in case his memory played its tricks once he'd had a snooze.

And soon he found his colour was no longer red and bright
and he never got those nightmares in the middle of the night.
He could eat a proper dinner without ketchup on the side
and appreciate new flavours in the different foods he tried!

Normal service will be resumed as soon a possible, folks... For more tales along the riverbank, watch this space tomorrow.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hanging In There

No.1 son had no ill effects from his rude awakening ( see yesterday's post, any puzzled first time visitors) and the holiday stretched invitingly before us. A quick trip back to the boatyard to have the intricacies of the heating system explained to us again, and we were well away.

The weather was particularly kind to us and early mornings with the sun coming up and miles of flat fenland stretching away on either side were the epitome of calm. Days of contented chugging along the waterways followed one upon the other, as we grew accustomed to the gypsy life. Although the boat had all mod cons, like a cooker, a fridge and a loo, they were relatively basic, and didn't impinge too greatly on the feeling of living a simple life, unfettered by any clock's insistence that we work to rule, or rather, time scale.

May was a wonderful month to be afloat, for the plethora of baby water birds bobbing along after their proud mamas like a bevy of fluffy pom poms were a joy to behold. However, rather than waxing too lyrical, I should probably resort to my usual recounting of tales less poetic. I can almost hear you saying 'But when are you going to get to the funny bits?' O.K. I get the message.

Norwich. That was the place. Much pouring over the brochure and book of instructions took place before we approached. There were dire warnings of underwater hazards on the approach to the mooring place in the centre of the city. Not too sure whether they were natural rocks, or great concrete slabs, but I do know a sharp lookout for them was advisable at certain hours of low tide. Approach was slow, and it was a case of all hands on deck, to peer overboard and holler if any of these boulders hove into view. All were navigated successfully and we duly moored alongside a - well, I guess you'd have to call it a promenade, as it was more like pavement than any kind of jetty; it was truly in the city centre.

You have to understand, that twenty two years in the navy had given my Dad a thorough understanding of nautical knots, and I don't mean the ones measuring a ship's speed. I mean the sheep shanks, half hitches, clove hitches, bowlines, sheet bends and other wonderful names that he knew all about. Us relative landlubbers were instructed in the appropriate ones needed to keep the boat safely alongside the dock as the tide ebbed, and the waterline receded in the direction of down. Plenty of slack was allowed in the ropes to cater for this. Thanks to Dad's calculations, when we returned to the boat after a pre dinner drink and game of darts in a friendly, nearby hostelry which had a Family Room, our craft was safely waiting for us, albeit about four feet lower than when we'd left it.

Astern, however, was a smaller craft whose skipper was blatantly lacking in the necessary nautical know how. It appeared to be trying to commit suicide by hanging. It had been moored with no slack in the lines, and was practically strung like a picture on the vertical side of the dock exposed by the ebbing tide.

'Tarantara!' Family blokes to the rescue, despite no capes or pants outside trousers, and by some kind of miracle, they saved the vessel from strangulation.

We then had the happy prospect of getting us all aboard our own low slung craft. Remember, four kids, two sets of parents and one lot of Aged P's. But we did it.

Some when during all this excitement, my Bro's fisherman's cap (very nautical looking headgear sported by Bro and Dad, both of whom tended to be sartorial dressers at all times) tumbled down into the racing waters flowing past our gunwales, if that's the correct term. Fisherman's caps they may have been, but sadly, I have to report their skills did not live up to their headgear. Despite some nifty, but somewhat panicked manoeuvres with a couple of boat hooks, I'm afraid the cap set sail on its maiden voyage into the wide blue yonder, never to be seen again...

(Sounds of the evening hymn and last post as we all stand to attention to mourn its passing.)

Friday, 23 January 2009

Still Afloat

Having introduced boating into the mix, the tumbling memories about how it all began have been rattling around, keeping me awake for about three hours in the middle of the night. To set them free I need to go back to that last week in May in 1973. Three generations, comprising of six adults and four children need a whole lot of 'stuff' to see them through two weeks on the Norfolk Broads.The three separate branches of our family tree packed themselves, their clothes, their provisions (well, who could tell when we'd find a place to shop in the wilds of Norfolk?) into a small mini-bus, and the epic trek began.
I will gloss over the actual journey, as anyone who has taken four kids on a two hundred mile drive in an overstuffed, slightly rattly mini-bus, will be able to write their own script.

Like all good things, the trip came to an end and we piled out at the correct boatyard and manhandled multifarious bags, cases, boxes and bags aboard the swish cabin cruiser that was to be home for the duration.

A grizzled boatyard aficionado climbed aboard to give us the low down on how everything worked, then started up the engines and took us on a short trip so's he could could explain the finer points of steering such a mammoth beastie safely past all the other boats moored nearby.
Dad was designated Captain, and after about fifteen minutes, we nosed back to the landing to drop off the instructor. Well, I say 'nosed' because it sounds better than saying we more or less charged head on towards land, with all of us holding on tightly to prepare for the imminent crash.

We discovered what fenders were made for.

Be that as it may, we pootled off with only a minor altercation with a nearby yachtsman as we got too close to his swish craft, and my brother had to fend off the collision by lying down on deck, and using both legs to avert disaster. Could have been a nasty accident, but the gods were on our side and both he and the yacht were unscathed.

All went smoothly, and I got myself organised in the tiny kitchen, as I was designated Galley Slave. We spent the rest of the afternoon settling in, and by the time we moored alongside some grassy bank for the night, we felt we'd truly arrived.

Now, May in England is not necessarily prone to high temperatures. As dark descended, it grew decidedly colder. Boatyard aficionado had explained the workings of the heating system, but as there'd been a lot to take in, Dad had failed to note the whereabouts of the very important switch that'd set it in motion. Luckily, there was no shortage of blankets, so once we were tucked in our bunks, there was little chance of hypothermia!

Four children were in the aft cabin ( get me being nautical) then Gran and Grandee, next Me and Mine, then Bro and His in the large living area where the banquets did clever things and turned into beds.

Children dropped off to sleep easily, after all the excitement. The rest of us kept up a Walton like dialogue late into the night. Eventually even we began to get dozy; until soothing slap and gurgle of tiny wavelets against the hull were suddenly obliterated by an almighty 'Wallop' of a noise. All three females leaped into action, barging into one another in the tiny passageway which lead to the children's cabin, dreading what they'd find there.

My small son had managed to fall out of his narrow bunk, and as a concerned Gran scooped him back into bed, he uttered the immortal words 'Who moved the boat?'

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Left in the lurch?

As usual, visiting bloggers have stirred up the muddy waters of memory with their comments. Mulling over parting with kids in lifts, trains and even at the top of an escalator, causing untold terror in the mind of the abandoned parent, I realised I knew how it felt from the point of view of he, or she, who had been abandoned.

Here's today's picture through the square window of the computer screen.

As a family, we'd never been ones to jet off around the world when holidays came round, as lack of funds put paid to such grandiose happenings. But as son and daughter grew a little, along with funds in the old piggy bank, my Dad's enthusiasm for all things 'boaty' inspired us to hire a cabin cruiser and spend two weeks 'en masse' ( i.e . as an extended family party) afloat on the Norfolk Broads.

This proved to be such a magical experience, we decided to repeat the experiment a couple of years later, cruising along the Thames, only this time, we took a cousin and some neighbours too, to liven up the proceedings.

As the memories merge into one, I'm unable to pinpoint exact location for the following, but it involved a water course which split in two parts, one ending in comparatively calm water, the other rushing and gurgling over a dodgy looking weir. In the centre, in order to divide these segments, were a series of extremely large, square wooden posts and crossbars. Huge 'DANGER' warning signs were liberally scattered around the area, to warn boats to take the calm water option only. Currents and eddies swirled and the weir added its loud voice to underline the hazard. I believe there was a lock looming in this scenario as well, but what I am certain of, is that I needed to jump onto one of the wooden crossbars at one point of the proceedings, to secure a mooring line.

This is where life became interesting. The boat swung dangerously near the channel leading to the weir, and whoever was at the steering wheel ( should I have gone for the more nautical 'helm'?) decided to turn the boat away as quickly as possible, ending up going back in the direction it had come, with me still clinging to the post in the middle of the river.

So I know exactly how it feels to be abandoned.

P.S. They did come back for me - else I'd not be around to tell the tale...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Double Take

This is what my eyes did a moment ago. Taking my morning stroll around Blogland before getting down to the serious problem of 'Now, how to amuse them today?' as Christopher Robin once said, what did I see but a blog whose title was so nearly the subject I had used for a poem, that I thought 'How come they have one of the poems I've not posted?'

It was a very peculiar experience; the phrase is quite common, admittedly, and one harassed parents world wide have had to contend with these many years past.

'Are we nearly there yet?'

Get the picture? Small child crammed into a car seat, wriggling against the restraining harness after only ten minutes of being strapped in... In my own case, I have to admit, this was something I never had to contend with, simply because I never learned to drive. My small children, when we went for a wander, either walked or if it was an all day 'expotition' ( back to Christopher Robin) enjoyed the bus or train ride that entailed.

Of course, when No.1 arrived on the scene, it was relatively simple to manoeuvre a large pram-cum-pushchair into the luggage van on the train, and subsequently remove small daughter until destination was reached. But fast forward three years to when N0.1 son had joined the equation, and things became a mite trickier. Do you help toddler onto the train, leaving pram and baby adrift on the platform, or conversely, leave toddler adrift on platform whist manhandling pram up into the train? Either way, there was the knowledge lurking in the back of my mind, it only takes a second or two for a person intent on baby snatching to whisk either child away.

Happily, I can report no such catastrophe occurred, but there were one or two scary moments.

One day in 1968 when No.1 daughter was still sole offspring, we got to our tiny local railway station, well, Halt it was called and Halt it was, and waited hopefully for a train. Not all trains stopped there, and it was simply a single platform on either side of track, with an extremely basic shelter open to the elements. Eventually, in its own good time, up lumbered the train.

Now, the Chariot, as I christened the pram/pushchair , was quite easy to put into a carriage, as opposed to the luggage van, as long as there were no passengers already seated. In my haste to get aboard, I failed to realise the far side of the carriage had a corridor running along its length, and the access doors into and out of said corridor were not in alignment.

Therefore, about sixteen minutes later, having arrived at the Town Station, imagine my horror when I saw the train had pulled in alongside a platform on the corridor side of the train.
Lucky, the train was terminating at the Town, whereas some continued to the Harbour Station a few minutes further down the line.

I valiantly tried to angle the pram around in the tight doorway, but managed to get it completely wedged. It was designed to collapse down for 'easy' transportation, but it was a bit of a juggernaut, and I always put off that evil hour for as long as possible. Getting hotter by the minute, I struggled to get it free, to no avail. Then I heard one of the Railway Guards walking down the corridor, reminding passengers in a loud voice 'This train terminates here. Please make sure you collect all your luggage before leaving the train'. Salvation was at hand!

He deserved a medal for the patient way he followed instructions on how to collapse the Chariot, while I gratefully grasped baby and blankets in my arms. Just to complete the picture, I must explain there was also a removable wire 'shelf' between the wheels of the Chariot, held in place by a couple of those stretchy hook thingies cyclists often use to clamp goods to their bikes. So you do the maths. Four hands to cope with Baby, Blankets, Chariot, Shelf and Two Springy Things.
Add a couple of train doors to this mix, and you can see, it must have presented quite a spectacle before we got everything sorted!

The second occasion imprinted on my mind was when one child - and I'm ashamed to say I no longer remember which of the two it was - got left behind on either the platform or pavement (senior moment is obviously in charge - was it a bus day or a train day?) while the other child and I peered through the window of the moving vehicle, wildly gesticulating and miming 'Stay there! We'll come right back!'

I've just 'phoned son, but he has no recollection of the incident, which makes me fairly sure it was small daughter who got stranded at a bus stop, but I can't check as she's busy teaching at this time of day.
I can only applaud the common sense of her, or him if that was the case, for waiting as instructed and not getting hysterical at such an awful goof!

Now back to the phrase that started this meandering, and the poem it inspired after I watched a TV drama which featured the same subject and its dire consequences.


"Are we nearly there, Mum
are we nearly there"?'

Children's voices whine.
Tense hands grip steering wheel
as distracted mother attempts
to negotiate rush hour traffic.

"Soon" her short answer
bites. She flicks her hair,
glances at her reflection,
doesn't see the lorry turn.

Freeze-framed silence numbs,
before breaks screech,
metals grind. Over the cacophony
a ghostly echo reverberates.

"Are we nearly there, Mum,
are we nearly there?"

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Instant Sequel

Thanks to AC, I've broken the rule I made to only blog once a day, as too much of a good thing can harm a lad. OK so I'm not a lad, but SB's comment made me wonder...
Be that as it may, here I give you

The Jump Part 2

Mackenzie James McArthur
shot into the sky.
In his dreams he'd never thought
he'd ever jump so high.

But now, just like a rocket,
he whizzed towards the Moon
and couldn't help but wonder
if he would fall down soon -

back into the garden
where patient Tommy stood,
hoping jolly jumping Mack
would land and stay for good.

Moon frowned as young Mackenzie
rose through the stratosphere.
'Well now', he muttered gently,
'What do we have here?'

He quickly wished upon a star
and brought Mack to a stop,
then hailed a passing fluffy cloud
to save him from the drop.

Mack floated softly back to Earth
to land by Tommy's side -
he's surely learned his lesson
about 'fall' and 'too much pride'.

The Ubiquitous Safe Place

How many times do we squirrel an item away, for its own good, in one of those? Something we particularly treasure - for instance, a photograph of special significance? The museum musing of yesterday ended with my promising to photocopy relevant pictures to illustrate my ramblings. For the generation theme to make sense, I needed to begin with Grandparents. Fine. Those pictures are already on my computer after days of careful scanning. But try as I might, I couldn't find the one of Mum and Dad I wanted, their official wedding photo. In the interests of posterity, the original is carefully wrapped in tissue paper, away from the light, so that a future generation might find it unscathed by time.

It is in a safe place.
The problem is, it's so safe, I haven't been able to find it yet....

Now, I live in a relatively small house with limited storage space. I begin to realise it must be peppered with black holes ( no, not like the cupboard under the stairs, though I do have one of those) but black holes as in space, which the scientists tell us will suck matter into their depths in the twinkling of a ...... sun, moon or star, I guess I should say, rather than an eye.
How else am I to explain the disappearance of so many objects? The glasses I used for seeing the computer screen at work and could do with right now: the second sock to match its particularly cosy partner, as alone, it must remain of use to no one but an amputee: the tiny thimble I'd been saving until one of my granddaughters reached an age where it might fit them.

The list could go on and on.

Sometimes I've found a good tactical move, is to pretend you're not looking for 'it' ( whatever it happens to be) and to simply sidle around the place, nonchalantly opening cupboards and drawers saying, 'Oh, what have we here?' as if you hadn't already ferreted about in exactly this place half an hour ago. In this way you can creep up on 'it' unawares, if you're lucky. But this plan is by no means foolproof, or by now I'd have found the spectacles, the sock, the thimble and most of all, the photograph.

No prizes for guessing how the rest of my day will be occupied, once I finish this post.

Having touched briefly upon space and its black holes, it gives me a tenuous link to the following ditty, written with small fry in mind.

The Jump

Mackenzie James McArthur
had a very big name,
although he was only a little boy.
He said,'Let's play a game!
Go on Tommy, I dare you
to jump as high as high!'
Tommy jumped the biggest jump,
right up towards the sky.

'There, and now it's your turn'
said Tom when he'd come down.
Mackenzie James McArthur
gave him a nasty frown.
He said 'I won't be beaten,
I'll show you who is best!'
He set his shoulders squarely,
folded arms across his chest.

'I can jump the highest,
just you wait and see!'
Mackenzie James McArthur
sprang higher than the tree,
higher than the chimney top,
higher than the moon.
Tommy stood and waited, thinking
'He'll have to come down soon!'

Monday, 19 January 2009

Museum, Here I Come.

The City Museum & Records Office have been collecting recordings as part of an Oral History programme, and for the last couple of hours I've been answering a standard set of questions on the subject of 'Generations'. Their aim is to record and archive material which can then be used as an educational resource, once it has been transcribed to form part of an on-line computerised catalogue available to all.

It's a strange feeling to sit here knowing I'm about to be 'Archived', or at least , some of my words and a few family photos. The subject of generations is the last of several themes which have been addressed since 2004, in order to give an idea of changes in attitudes and conditions of ordinary local people. I believe they've already covered topics like health, food, crime, costume, music, youth and age- with the generation slot for old biddies like me tending to touch on all the subjects, one way or another.

For relevant photographs, I couldn't go back further than one of my Grandmother. Her husband had died in June 1911, exactly a month before my mother was born. As a widow with a large family to raise, you can imagine that photos came very low on her list of necessities. Add to this mix two world wars, and it becomes plain to see why family snaps were few. As I began rummaging through various hidy-holes to find them, I discovered one of myself in my wooden high chair. It struck me as a most symbolic item in this generation game.

The chair, which was constructed to hinge and bend back on itself to form a low level play table at the front, was subsequently used by my brother, then five of my grown up cousin's children, before reverting to me, its original occupant, for each of my own children to use in their turn.
It eventually ended up being put into the loft, when it was no longer needed. Sadly, when the time came to move house, the chair could not be reclaimed from the roof space, as a loft ladder had been installed which reduced the hatchway opening to such an extent we couldn't take the chair down without either removing the ladder, or dismantling the chair. It may well be there to this day. So my grandchildren never sat on its worn, wooden seat.

Looking at all the old snapshots also brought home the realisation of how many of those smiling faces are no longer around, which seems an apt point to include the following poem:-


Today I saw your face,
tired, and needing peace
and calm
with which to find release
from daily burdens.

Yesterday I saw your face
smiling and full of fun
and joy.
It dimpled in the sun
and echoed laughter.

Tomorrow I shall see your face
only in memory,
a portrait
painted lovingly
on the canvas of my mind.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Who's Laughing Today?

It's going to take me a while to get going on that score, mainly because I'm waiting for my brain to catch up with my body. Or do I mean that the other way about?

Are you sitting comfortably? ( This is the phrase BBC used before starting a fifteen minute broadcast for its younger listeners in the days when I listened with my kiddywinks) Then I'll begin.

Foolishly, as I now realise, after phoning my far off family in NZ at a time relatively (get the pun?) suited to their time scale (11pm here to their 12am tomorrow) I did a final check on my inbox ... wrong move.
This had me pounding the keyboard in glee, to answer a.s.a.p some of the delights waiting within its latest sheaf of letters.

That done, I laughingly set off for bed, perchance to sleep, never mind dream. Due to the unaccustomed lateness/earliness of the hour, sleep proved no problem for once. BUT
and it was a big but, at two minutes past four the elements decided to give me a wake up call.
Torrential rain beat a tattoo on my window pane as gusts of wind hurled it at my house with all the force 80 m.p.h could muster; this had been the wind speed forecast in an earlier radio broadcast, but ever optimistic me had hope to continue with shut-eye while it blew itself out.

Hah! I should be so lucky. For three quarters of an hour it bombarded my eardrums, bringing my mind to almost full alert for the next two hours. As the drum beats of rain had lessened, I'd snuggled further under the duvet, in the hope that cosiness would lull me back to sleep in next to no time.

Brain increased its revolutions. Round and round the thoughts rolled, gathering momentum and pulling in more of their compatriots as the minutes ticked by. I tried switching on World Radio in the hope that a soothing human voice whispering in the darkness would work like a lullaby. Fat chance. The program was so interesting. I had to turn up the volume, not to miss anything! A scientist was explaining how certain types of wheat crops could reflect a large percentage of sun's heat back into space, thereby reducing global warming, over time, by a significant number of degrees.

Time signals for five and six o'clock marked the approach of daylight. Whether I truly slept after that, is debatable, but I guess I dozed to some extent, as next time I had enough muscle control to look at the clock, its glowing numerals showed 9.23. Another night had hit the dust...

You can see how RAIN had to be the subject on which to vent my spleen for today, though the ensuing words convey a slightly more congenial aspect of the wet stuff. In our first house, the wooden framed windows were made up of small squares, each approximately 35-40cm, so each segment made its own perfect picture frame.

As I sat using my sewing machine one afternoon, on the dining room table next to one of these windows, I had to stop and give my full attention to the sight that met my eyes, as another rain storm worked a different kind of magic.

Rain Music

Through the glass I watch a wind-blown tree.
Runnels of rain create a cubist painting,
as the round edged leaves refracted image
is squared and striped in perpendicular lines,
only harmony of colour unifying
distorted shapes on the glass canvas.

Orchestrated raindrop sounds;
loud bass plops of drips from the window arch,
with a mid range, staccato patter on the glass pane,
whilst in the background a high pitched hissing
of wind, rain and foliage carries the melody line
of a wet day symphony.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Medicinal Laughter

I don't by any means think of 'Laughter is the best medicine' as a purely English concept. I'm sure I've seen TV news items which show groups of people in other countries gather together to have a good laugh for an hour or so; not at a bunch of comedians, or a comic film, but simply Ha Ha Hee Hee at absolutely nothing in particular.

Medicinal it may be, but infectious it certainly is; I've only got to hear a good giggle coming from somebody and I'm a whisker away from joining in to the point of snorting like no body's business, ( I have the kind of laugh which can end up as a snort - possibly as I gasp for breath for the next guffaw) without the least idea of what I'm actually laughing at.

I wonder how far along the evolutionary path it was that Homo Sapiens developed a sense of humour? Whenever it must have been, I pity the first person who discovered they were a snorter, because they probably had all tribe members who couldn't see the joke, thinking they were imitating the mating call of a dodo, or something. It's a disconcerting sound, I'll admit, although the next stage of the disease is possibly worse.

Tears put in an appearance, cascading down ever reddening cheeks, as the legs cease to function and the arms clasp tightly around the midriff against an increasing ache in that portion of the anatomy.

This is bad enough if one is in the company of others with similar, unfortunate laughter patterns, but if any bystanders happen to be of a more sober mien, this spells disaster, as symptoms develop in reverse ratio to the degree of sobriety shown by them.

As with any swinging pendulum, the hilarity has the potential to revert to it opposite pole, sadness. This is a subject that many try to ignore, or even deny its existence, but as any clown will tell you, it's never far away. So for clowns everywhere, here's today's offering.

Painted Lady

By tradition a clown has a painted smile.
Can somebody paint one for me?
Inside I am crying to ease the pain
which no one must ever see.

My everyday face needs a mask for the world
for my sadness may not be set free.
So I ask once again for the smile that I need;
can't somebody paint one for me?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Short but not necessarily Sweet.

A Trying Triolet

The age old art of writing rhyme
a poet's fond endeavour,
can take unconscionable time
the age old art of writing rhyme;
he seeks perfection with each line
though he achieve it never,
the age old art of writing rhyme
a poet's fond endeavour.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


Ha! Thought that would make you read further - who dares to admit that what they are about to write is rubbish? No, not even me, hopefully. The actual underlying subject is a serious one. On the BBC breakfast programme yesterday, they had a feature on the amount of litter to be found on our streets, especially in city centers where fast food outlets abound. In one small town, an army of volunteers collected (by hand) all this detritus for one day, then worked out percentages to find the worst offenders. Bottom in this unenviable poll came Subway and top, unsurprisingly, was McDonald's. There was talk of a national campaign being launched to bring the problem into a more widespread awareness of how it needed to be addressed by the public at large.
England had one of those campaigns several years back, with advertisements on TV, billboards, newspapers or magazines urging Joe Public to 'Beware the Litterbugs', gruesome little blighters invented by some spin doctor. For all the good it did, they might as well have spent their money on a few more old fashioned trash carts and sweepers. So all day yesterday, news bulletins on BBC or ITV, as well as radio, tended to include a mention of the growing problem of thoughtless untidiness, bye product of the nation's habit of 'eating on the hoof'.

The rubbish factor had reared its ugly head before this week; on Tuesday, the Trackword ( a nine holed square which offers a jumbled up word for puzzlers to to see how many words can be made from it by tracking from one letter to the next, up, down or sideways) in my Radio Times magazine had the following layout:-

Top line, left to right T T L
Next line, left to right E U I
Last line, left to right B R G

Get the connection?

What better place to air the following, then, as I add my pennyworth to the moaning millions who find such desecration of the planet a subject for wrath.

Gutter Mess

The gutter's overflowing
on this dark, dank winter's morn
and the rubbish heap is growing
as a junk mountain is born.

McDonald's cups and paper bags,
polystyrene packing;
amongst the general public
there's a sense of order lacking.

Crisp packets gape their silver jaws;
the tinfoil doesn't rumple
but springs back into pseudo life,
instead of staying crumpled.

There's a yellow burger box, four-square
and a red, 'phone Top-up card;
There's a Coca-Cola empty tin,
to ignore it would be hard.

The wind's gust move it slowly on,
uneven, tinny sound
disturbing early morning hush,
it echoes all around.

The Litterbugs have passed this way,
it really is a sin
when they don't make sure their rubbish
is put in the nearest bin.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

To Dunk Or Not To Dunk?

A Biscuit Lover's Dream - Or Nightmare

A bourbon biscuit's chocolate crunch
at breakfast, dinner, tea or lunch,
delights the tongue and gives a thrill
though proving that we have no will
to stick to that new diet.

I've seen small children, adults too,
who break their biscuit into two
and, though disgusting this may seem,
lick off the inside's chocolate cream,
it's no use to deny it.

But those who dunk them in their tea
or coffee, perhaps, just like me,
need deft and rapid finger action
if they're to eat with satisfaction
and avoid ensuing mess
when soggy biscuit plops on dress.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


During my morning trip around Blogland, I've been surprised to discover the threads of thought that have been woven between minds. How is it, in visits to many blogs I've not come across before, I've found the subject of dreams has been written about in many different ways and by many different bloggers during the past few days... It would take a far more mathematically inclined brain than mine to compare global times as stated in each post in order to ascertain who wrote what first, but it struck me as uncanny that the subject had been somewhat universal.
I wonder if others of you have had the same experiences? Obviously, I would expect subject matter to be shared, to a certain extent, between those bloggers who regularly read each other's entries, but this doesn't account for similarities in blogs only visited for the first time this morning.

As I tend to view time as the warp of life, and all our stories as the weft that creates the fabric of our existence, I guess it all makes sense. A cloth woven in such a manner has to link us, as weavers, in some fashion - anybody out there agree?

So here's a dream thought for today's pondering:-


While you are sleeping
the night flows around you,
shows in your dreaming
how good life can be.

Thoughts of tomorrow,
with all of its promise.
in sleep's footsteps follow
for those who would see.

Only in dreams
can Man's vision be woken
to plan for a future
when the world will be free.

Monday, 12 January 2009

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?

In view of yesterday's post, I need to give the other side of the story, don't I? The one follows the other as night follows day, I've found, in more ways than one...

Forty Winks

Sleep has command of my eyelids.
Unconsciousness keeps engulfing me
and patches of sleep are being sown
onto the cloth of day; patches rich
with pattern of bizarre dreams,
not matching the plain stuff of reality.
My brain feel drugged and my eyes
have difficulty in staying open.

Can't say this is really a poem, in an accepted sense, but it needed to be written down, and I haven't the inclination to go back over it to check on meter, or form, or parts of speech - it just IS.
Simply a passing thought captured like a butterfly in a net, to be scrutinised for a moment before being set free. Much like this second offering:-


You search for it in vain;
yet when sleep is furthest from your mind,
a creeping somnolence again descends to claim you,
to bind your leaden limbs until you sink
into oblivion in the freedom of your dreams.

But if you catch a butterfly, isn't the first instinct to show it to somebody else? I guess that's what these little snippets of 'non poems' are doing here. Enough of these poderings, though.

Instead, here's a completely different road for this post to take ( here I have visions of a line of fence posts, strung together as if holding hands, much as a line of baby Ents might be, skipping down afore mentioned road... bother my stupid imagination!)
D'you know what is one of the best things about Sunday? There is NO POST ( from the postman, I mean here, just to be sure you understand.)
With Christmas fading on the horizon, catalogue companies are trying their hardest to boost their sales, and a positive deluge of junk mail has been flowing through my letterbox recently. As Royal Mail considers Sunday a day of rest, along with almost every male on the planet, this is one time when the letterbox is able to clench its jaws together for the whole day.

Why should I care about this, you may be thinking? The following gives the answer, if you read it to the end.

Paper Mountain

Abandoned envelopes,
flyers, free newspapers,
catalogues; junk mail
tidy people discard

but I collect...

Beside my chair
it gathers, potential
pulp paper slagheap,
waiting to slip-slide
and annihilate me,

but I collect...

while it grows too fast
to be contained
by any wastebasket.
Paper Mountain rises
higher every day,

but still I collect...

in case I mistakenly throw away
that one vital item
I know I shall need

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Perchance To Dream

A silence roars. It vanquishes my wakeful,
cushioned head and restful quietness
of sleep eludes my poor defeated brain.
In contrast, blanket hush is draping rooftops;
chimneys standing sentinel to mind
which conjures waking nightmares of vague
phantoms. Formless, palid wraiths persist,
seeking actors to play a major role
in some unwritten fantasy of sleep.

The hours, minutes, seconds slip away,
despite my fears that time is standing still
in retribution. Finally, I fall asleep, but
coalescing dreams in Technicolor coats
flaunt kaleidoscopic shapes to tease
and taunt me. Half remembered images
from earlier days are sifted through again,
in attempt to find their underlying meaning,
for body, spirit, mind to wake refreshed.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

A sense of place

During the many whistle-stop tours I've taken round Blogland, since I discovered it on Christmas day, I've been delighted with the way contributors add little pieces to a huge jig-saw collage. A kaleidoscope of images, whether in words or pictures, coalesce in my mind and the world has painted itself on a different canvas. To each person 'Home' is unique, be it in wide open grasslands, bustling, modern city or exotic oriental setting.

This started me thinking about where I live. What's so special about this spot on the South Coast of England? Eventually I decided it's a sense of history, closely followed by the simple pastoral image of the rolling, switchback hills of the Southdowns, and the neighbouring sparkling waters of the Solent that saw the start of so many Naval escapades, from Henry Vlll onwards. And we mustn't forget the Isle of Wight with its Dinosaur legacy!

At Portchester, there are the remains of a Roman Castle, and not too far off in Fishbourne, a Roman Villa lets us gaze at a tessellated floor exposed by excavations and now displayed in a purpose built museum protecting the site from the elements. In Havant, St Faith's Church goes back to the eleventh century, and you can read all about its history online, if you're interested.
So the whole area is steeped in history, and has echos of it which still resound in our senses - which is why I wrote the following:-

Echoes From The Past

Two ways lead to the seashore.
One's by a street through town
where you hear the racing traffic
rush, honking, up and down.

The other's by a woodland path.
That's the way I like to go,
for Roman Soldiers strode there once,
many years ago.

But one day, in this leaf strewn lane,
I heard a marching sound...
and that's when I began to wish
I was on the road through town!

The slap of leather sandals
kept up a rhythmic beat;
I found my pulses racing,
keeping time with marching feet.

My heart pounded frantically
and I began to run,
as shadows of plumed helmets
were created by the sun.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Nota Bene

Though a busy life stops me from writing,
thanks to email and super-computing,
a fine line of friendship is always in place
between me and you, over time, across space,
and frankly, I find that exciting!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Where does it come from?

Inspiration, I mean. Discussing the subject with a friend one day, I was asked if I could write a poem about anything. Liking the challenge, I answered 'Give us a word, then we'll see'. 'Rabbits' says he as quick as a flash, or indeed a rabbit's tail whisking down its burrow.
The gauntlet had been thrown down. I picked it up, grabbed the nearest back-of-an-envelope, (the best 'quality writing paper' to use at a time like this) and let the following be born into the cold light of day as the moving finger writ. Or more correctly, wrote - but writ has a nicer sound.

A Mother's Lament

I'm a happy bunny,
I hop around all day,
nibbling tasty blades of grass
before they turn to hay.

All the baby bunnies
have left my bunny nest
and scattered to the four winds,
North, South East and West.

So I'm a happy bunny,
I now have time to play;
but I wish my baby bunnies
were not quite so far away!

My brother in New Zealand, whom I affectionately call Herb, or occasionally Bush Face, due to the sprouting matter that has graced his jowls since the tender teenage years, quickly came back with a repartee in similar vein, to whit:-

So, you're a happy bunny,
I'm glad to hear you say.
I hope your tasty blades of grass
never turn to hay.

Both my baby bunnies
have also left the nest.
But the little b*****s do come back,
and are a s*****g pest!

I'd be a happy bunny
if I had time to play,
but now I'm back from Vanuatu,
it's off to work each day...

to help one run her business,
be an hotel for the other -
they never seem to leave the nest!
Who'd be a Dad or Mother?

Sorry for the somewhat wickedly irreverent tone he managed to introduce, but at least the asterisks let you supply your own, less colourful words, should you so wish.

Have a good day, folks, or should I say Rabbits?

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

It's all in the title...

Or, not, as I discovered this morning...'Nipple Notes', indeed! OK, so beauty is deemed to be in the eye of the beholder, but what about in their reading skills? How come the eyes can trick our brains into seeing what's not there? I know I'm pretty good at this myself, as I always SEE what I've written as correctly spelled, no matter how much of a mish-mash I've made of a word.
But back to Napple.
When my daughter produced my first granddaughter, we had a conversation about how I'd like to be called, now she'd made me a grandmother. Nan? Nah! Too much like Mary Poppins Nanny, or even worse, Nana in Peter Pan. Grandmama? Not Pygmalion likely! Too old fashioned. So between my son and daughter, the name Granny Apple was hit upon, as acceptable to all. This was particularly apposite, as our family name was that of a well known variety of apple ( in UK, anyway - can't speak for the rest of the world). So, Granny Apple it was.
This was how things stood until baby began to speak. Granny Apple was far too much of a mouthfull ( just like a whole apple would have been at the time) and she very soon condensed it to Napple. As her other granny had been blessed with the name Moggle by her grandchildren long before JKR's Muggles were born, this made a very nice homogenous whole of the two sides of the family.

Having got to this point, I clicked on spell checker, which happily said 'finished checking'. But I did my own belt and braces job, looked over what I'd written again, and noticed a word that said 'whold' instead of whole... this made me feel SO much better about all the goofs in the spelling department that I'd glibly posted without noticing almost every day so far, that it gave me an encouraging, inner glow for a moment. Computers can be as quirky as brains. I figure, if anyone is as daft as me, they'll forgive the spelling anyway, and if they're brainier, there's one of three options: either their brain will supply the correct version automatically, or they will stop, tut tut, then carry on reading, regardless, or they will pootle off to read somebody else's blog who's better at it all than I am. So its a wn win situation, really.

The younger generations, with text-speak and its deplorable abbreviations becoming more and more widespread amongst them, will be lucky if they can spell words of one syllable by the time they're as old as me, anyway.

Personally, I hope ESP will have evolved to such an extent, that people will be able to use it at will to communicate through thought waves, as opposed to the radiowaves or cyberspace doodah waves that let computers and radios do the same job at present ( no technological jargon from me, you will notice).

In view of the signposts I followed in Blogland today, I shall now wander down a well worn path that will lead me back to the Memory Room wherein is stored a whimsical little offering I called:-

Wishful Thinking

I wish I was a typist
in control of the machine
Instead, I clatter boldly
but things are never what they seem.
Did I mean a word like @/!? that
to creep in unawares?
And why do all the lines
appear to walk
from time to time?
Unasked by me,
the strangest spacings
suddenly e v o l v e
and half the levers start to stick
and half the knobs revolve
with never once a by- your- leave.
It really is annoying
when mechanical catastrophies
oust ideas with which I'm toying,
and inspiration disappears,
possibly for ever, and I'm left with
one more crumpled sheet,
feeling anything but clever,
as I throw it in the waste bin
and reach for pen and ink.
What was it that I meant to say?
I really cannot think!

I post this in homage to my old Olivetti Lettera portable typewriter, bought on the never-never (hire purchase in proper speak) the summer I left school. Mum and Dad had to stand as guarrantors in case I defaulted on the payments to buy this twenty something poundsworth of delight. I never did, so they were safe.)

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Out in the cold?

UK is going through the coldest snap we've had for years. Minus ten in some places last night, according to the news this morning. So, when I keep reading blogs with photos of the snowy scenes in other places of the world, I guess I should be grateful that in my neck of the woods (metaphorically speaking, for I live in a small town) the worst I have to contend with so far, is a bit of frost and black ice. The beautiful snowy scenes of all you enthusiastic happy snappers have been a sheer delight - I wandered through so many yesterday that took my breath away, as I scrolled though earlier post of bloggers I'm learning to admire. There is so much beauty waiting to be recognised, and unfortunately, on the reverse of the coin so much ugliness, too.

I left a comment on a blog yesterday, that I'm going to repeat here:-

"That which is sought is often elusive.
That which comes unbidden is realty
before it is recognised".

How many of us chase dreams and miss the obvious? Self included, may I add...And how many times is it because we need to pause, try to view things from a different angle to make sense of an otherwise puzzling, difficult, worrying or hurtful situation? AARRGGHH. Didn't mean to pontificate. Back to the cold.
A few years back, I was walking home late one night, or rather early one morning, after a protracted singing rehearsal - though the actual rehearsal finished hours ago, a few of us stalwarts carried on singing for fun, and lost track of time - and today's 'not quite poem' was the result.
Perhaps I should call it 'A Cold Cameo'


Clear night sky,
frost filled moonlight
cutting cold accross the land;
sounds are honed
to a knife sharp fineness
by the icy, silent air.
Stars, bright as polished steel,
blaze white hot accross
light year distances,
linking Earth to Infinity.
The sudden brilliant arc
of a falling metorite
underlines their beauty.

Monday, 5 January 2009


For sceptics amongst you, how about this to make you wonder about the subject, or look at it in a new light? After putting yesterday's 'kids' poem on record, I thought I'd see what astrological energies were around, that helped tempt me to proffer that poem on that day. I have no idea why the position of the planets other than ours should have any effect on us at all, but the more years I've studied the subject, the more I've discovered there is a correlation between the heavens and us mortals.
The sign coming up over the horizon, as I opened up my astrology program a little after 2pm local time, was Gemini. This sign imparts youthful curiosity and a desire to be stimulated, both mentally and socially, and mental development is alpha and omega; meeetings, discussions, books and learning are the stuff of life.
No wonder then, that 'Me , Myself And I' chose that moment to surface from my memory, and lay itself open to discussion in a Blogland.
I don't think for a moment that we are puppets at the mercy of the spheres, but I do believe that subtle energies, maybe of a kind scientists have yet to discover, abound in our universe, and we have a choice as to how we utilise them. This is not unlike the power of prayer, or of healing, as both are well documented as two of the 'XFactors' of life itself, which no scientist can explain.

By the way, this morning's Rising Sign is Pisces - best known for its adaptability. It's the one sign that can be 'all things to all men' - though don't let's get into a gender specific discussion here, folks - but you can probably get my drift. Us fish have the ability to stand in anybody's shoes, despite our fins and tails that let us flounder around in the watery ponds so dear to our emotional hearts.

And now, because it's back to work Monday for some, here with a flick of my fins, is a total switch of direction in the stream of life. I'm very glad that retirement saves me from further commuting experiences...

Monday Morning, Act 1, Scene 1

Another Monday morning,
people yawning on the train.
The weekend's hectic jollity
has left its mark again.

Schoolboys sit without a word,
an unaccustomed state,
for usually they joke and shout
and talk at double rate.

Their sometimes grubby faces
have an early morning shine,
but their present air of order
will be gone by dinner time.

Some men are reading papers
Time, Telegraph or Sun,
flapping crackling pages
as they turn them one by one.

The serious read on slowly
but attention sometimes wains
as the tabloid readers focus
on the pin-ups once again.

One owner of a pretty nose
has a distracted air,
as constantly, whilst reading,
she pushes back her hair.

Her book is held close to her face,
her long hair flops and falls,
her secret profile comes and goes
in repeated curtain calls.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

View from childhood, perhaps?

Me, Myself And I

Mummy says I'm her girl,
Daddy says I'm his.
Gran 'n' grandpa say I'm theirs.
It really is a swiz.
I can't belong to anyone,
I know that I am mine,
because I am the only one
who's with me all the time!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Discovering Blogland

I little thought when I took my first faltering steps into this strange country, that I'd be so entranced with the mental views it conjures for a traveller to admire. Even while appreciating a new found vista, alluring signposts tempt one further afield; 'follow this blog', says one, 'post comments(atom)' says another, every one drawing the mind further and further into untold realms of delight...

Other people's minds roll out red carpets to welcome visitors to first night performances of their latest epic. Gradually, their production and presentation skills divide them into categories: these are artists who use cameras as brushes: those are artists whose words sketch the scene: still others use videos to encapsulate music and movement and lay it before us, a veritable feast for the mind.

I picture Blogland as as an all encompassing sphere cradling the Earth, where people can rise above everyday limitations, restrictions, worries and cares, to socialise in an ideal environment, where wars and hatred have no place - have we begun to discover Nirvana?

Here is a picture postcard, just waiting to be delivered to residents of Blogland :-

Day's End

Pale crescent moon
sails twilight sky,
with sooty cameo
of chimney pots
a darkening skyline
in the winter dusk.

Jet coloured ridge tiles,
shell edged, trim rooftops
whose slate grey tones
have been stolen
by the coming night.

Colour seeps from a world
preparing to sleep
and the black speck
which denotes a solitary bird
remains poised
above bare branches.

Dwarfed by alley walls,
I pause to watch day
relinquish its hold
as, shivering, I huddle
against wind flurries.
But the scene's beauty
radiates its own warmth
in compensation.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The start of another new day

Hopefully better than the last, as shortly after posting yesterday's appropriate poem, I received the news that one of my cousins had died in rather distressing circumstances, though I guess every death could be categorised under that heading. So, as you can imagine, it shifted the day into another gear, never mind the old or new year. And I had been all set to add to my original post, with a tale about the ending of on the old year, for me, on a totally ludicrous note... So, in the interest of lightening the mood, and with apologies to he who has already heard the saga, here goes.

By 11.30pm on Dec31st, I decided seeing in 2009 was not so important, after all, so off to bed I trotted. (I'd already had a glass of tawny port that evening, to welcome the New Year in early - thought I'd mention this, as port had been listed as an 'interest' by he-who-shall-be nameless)

Having got to the teeth brushing stage, paste poised on bristles, I inadvertently dropped the small ,white plastic lid into the sink. Ordinarily, this wouldn't have been a problem, but I have one of those relatively modern basins with a lever controlled plug - removable for cleaning. In the interest of saving this shiny article from globules of toothpaste, I'd removed it from its seat BEFORE I dropped the lid, which plunged gleefully down the large opening with ease. It balanced precariously on the plug mechanism, but my eagerly searching fingers were just what it needed to send it plummeting further into the depths of the pipe.

I came back downstairs to the scrabble in my glory hole of a kitchen drawer for any implements that might make retrieval of lid possible. A short length of clear plastic tubing looked feasible - with a hard suck, I might be able to lift the lid? Hmmm, not too sure about nearby water level, but hey, it'd only be water, after all...

Next, I collected a long pair of butterfly tweezers ( don't ask) from the pen pot on my desk, a length of twine (for tying large loop through tiny hole in tweezers, to stop them following the toothpaste lid into the depths should I drop them too) [I actually looped this over the tap, just to be sure, in case you're wondering] and lastly, from my kitchen cupboard, I collected a fairly sizable length of fairly fine wire. This I fashioned into a rudimentary fish hook, in the hope it might catch under the rim of the lid so's I could haul it up.

Armed with the above implements, plus a very long knitting needle that might come in handy somehow, and a very small torch that would definitely come in handy to illumine the murky scene of the crime, I returned to the bathroom.

The 'suction pipe' failed miserably, as the serrated surface of the lid was uppermost. But I didn't get any yucky water either - a Pollyanna view.

The tweezers failed miserably - they were just too short.

The torch was a success - its light gave me a fair idea of how to approach the problem with my next trick, the bent wire; I could see at little gap between lid and waste pipe at the top left which should allow me to manoeuvre my fish hook into position... AND IT WORKED, though I admit to holding my breath for this final stage of the operation, which was very 'Will it? Won't it?'

So don't ever mention to me again anything about getting anything out of anywhere!

(Fellow blogger had answered the question 'How do you get water out of one ear?' but saying 'You put a hosepipe in the opposite ear and turn it on full', which sound piece of advice had lodged in my memory)

Enough, I hear you all cry...

Thursday, 1 January 2009


New for Old

Seasons roll forward,
Earth spins onward
in its elliptical round.

Old Year to New Year,
time's cogs change gear;
bells herald it with their sound.

Flaunting its drab gown,
Old Year winds down,
greeting the year that's to come.

Wipe all the slates clean,
then dream a new dream.
Happy New Year everyone!