Friday 25 March 2011

Trying Another Tack

Coming of Age

“Hal - look what your Father has brought for you! Come out here, you wastrel"

"But Mother, I've been up since dawn !" laughed the boy as he pulled back the entry curtain and joined Marta where she stood by their Fire Stones.
"And who carried that great load of kindling for you, ready for The Great Feasting we've been looking forward to for days? Did you see anyone else staggering under their load?"

But his wide smile soon turned to a serious stare as he saw what was fastened on a nearby sapling. "Goodness, just look at that shield! Do you mean it will really be mine after the Initiation Ceremony?"

"Indeed it will, though you won't be wielding it in battle for a good many years yet, my son. Twelve summers are not enough for such a trial! The Warrior Brotherhood must teach you all their skills before your life, and maybe ours, will truly be within your hands."

Hearing this, he bent closer to the shield and ran his fingers over the intricately carved surface.

“Oh! Look at the details... They are the most wonderful I’ve ever seen – they’re sending a tingling feeling all up my arm as I touch them."

"The Carver was paid many pelts to make you this shield. He told your Father the metal studs took days to perfect, let alone the boss... and the design he created especially is meant to ward off evil spirits.  No wonder you can sense its power!"

A sudden gust of wind whipped his blonde hair into his eyes, making them sting until he almost thought he could feel tears beginning... His cloak was flapping around his bare legs like a banner, tugging at the silver clasp fastened on his shoulder.

“Mother, I never thanked you for this cloak and clasp you left by my bed.  It must have taken many moons for you and my sisters to spin and weave enough wool. It’s so thick and warm – come, let me show youu !”  And he whirled its folds around his mother, as he hugged her.

“Enough of your silliness! Get you gone and help your Father and the others with the livestock. It’s going to be a very busy day…”

“Yes Mother right away Mother.” He gave a mock salute and ran to join the men. Today, he would be welcomed as one of them.                                                    

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Is This A Vignette I see Before Me?

The ceremonial shield hung on a pole, outside their tent. Later that day, his father would present it to him, as a symbol of his coming of age. But it would be years before he would  wield it in battle. The Carver had been paid many pelts to produce it, for the metal studs and boss took days to perfect, and the intricate carving had been designed to ward off evil spirits.He ran his fingers over its surface, marvelling at the details, and feeling their hidden power tingling up his arm.

Hal was twelve summers old, and his blonde hair tickled his face but stung his eyes as the wind whipped it harder. His cloak too, was flapping around his bare legs like a banner, tugging at the silver clasp fastened on his shoulder.  His mother and sisters had been working for months to spin and weave enough cloth to make it, and had given him the silver clasp only this morning, in honour of his initiation. The Warrior Brotherhood would teach him all the skills he would need to become a worthy member of their tribe.

Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales asked for a poem or vignette inspired by her photo of this shield. I already wrote a humourous poem, but wanted to try something more serious, so who better to tell me whether this constitutes a vignette, than fellow Blogpals? Can't wait to hear your opinions...

Sunday 20 March 2011

Stretched Out Birthdays

I can recommend one of these. By having several action replays of  my latest one, it gave me time to absorb the fact in a most civilised manner. I could begin with admitting 'I'm sixty nine plus one day', before I had to awake to the unalterable truth 'I'm seventy!' Hehehe!
I'd like to thank everyone who 'penned ditties for Pen', and ask them all to share in a sniff of these flowers which my kids sent on The Day.

When the grandchildren came yesterday, they brought me a cake with just enough candles to avoid a conflagration, but enough chocolate to satisfy their souls and mine.

Eldest granddaughter had wanted to make biscuits to bring, but after a rush job the night before at 8pm, they were voted too sweet, and were consigned to oblivion. To recompense her hard word, she and I retired to my kitchen, and she cooked a less sugary batch, which she pronounced 'Fine' - but they disappeared quickly, so no pictures!

Youngest granddaughter brought her Fairy Castle, a rather '3D jigsaw puzzle' of a palace, which took much concentration to erect, as the instructions had got lost one time, in transit. It is a well travelled castle.

While we girls were playing, No.1 son got to grips with my computer, but despite installation of a new sound card, it, and therefore I, remain in a silent place for the time being.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Friday 18 March 2011

Baby Bertie

I thought today I'd post this cherubic picture of my husband's elder brother, who died in infancy - about the age of  three, I think.  I have no idea of the cause of his death, but he certainly looked hale and hearty on the day this photograph was taken...

 His elegant Mama, called Topsy by her family, was a younger sister of the Dorothy I showed you in an earlier Sepia Saturday post. Her real name was Eliza Jane and this portrait must have been taken in the late 1920's, for my husband was born in October 1929 and I believe Bertie was already dead by then.
I wish I knew more about the story. The little I do  know was told me by Auntie Dorothy, who also gave me the picture.

Topsy went on to have three more children, two boys and a girl, and tragically, after the birth of her daughter, she developed what in those days was called 'milk fever'.As a result she never recovered enough to take care of her children from then on, and another  sister, Auntie Lettie, came to Portsmouth to look after them.

Topsy's husband, Arthur, died before the end of the war, as far as I know, and the children were sent to stay with relatives in South Pool, in Devon. There was only one bomb which dropped on the village, and my husband , then a youngster, was on his way to bed holding a lighted candle when it fell.

He never spoke much about his childhood, but he loved life in the country, working on his Aunt and Uncle's farm, and he would have liked nothing better than to be a farmer when he grew up... Anyone can dream!

And What Does Friday Mean?

A chance to write 55 words of wisdom to keep Mr G-Man alive and kicking! I've used my ration to let you all peep into my Diary - A Day To Day Diatribe from a newly minted septuagenarian who still hasn't learned to keep stumm for any length of time. There are too many words waiting to be born anew...

Is There A Doctor In The House?

My screen has laryngitis – it hasn’t got a voice.
It really is a nuisance! It isn't very 'noice'
not to hear some music via YouTube like before -
nor listen to the Archers on my favourite Radio 4.
I hope my son will fix it soon - a bit of sound is such a boon!

 More fifty-fivers  will be available free at Mr Knowitall's emporium!

Wednesday 16 March 2011

I Shouldn't Have Counted My Chickens!

So far the day has had some hitches -
in fact, it started with two glitches!
Wide awake at four am
I only went to sleep again
when the clock crawled close to seven.
Then I dozed right off. Ah, heaven!
At 7.30 there's my Bro,
phoning from New Zealand!. So -
here I am, now rather dozy,
proud possessor of a posy
from my pal who came to lunch,
plus owner of a super bunch
of flowers from my son and daughter.

They are safely tucked in water,
while I am heading towards my bed
for a little nap instead!

Morning mishap made me curse -
my computer died, or worse.
Two hours later, clever son
had more or less the battle won
and there was Blogger good as new,
so I could come and talk to you,
My birthday's not quite been ball,
but thank you people one and all...

And it can only get better from here in! LOL

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Hats Off, People!

Why? Because it's only polite when you come to call at Napple Mansions. Tomorrow, 16th March, I will need help to blow out the seventy candles that will be adorning my tiny cup cake.

A year ago, I gave Blogpals  fair warning that I would be expecting a little rhyme written for the occasion, which would then give them the right come to my party as an honoured guest.

I'm thinking it will be a rather extended affair, and I envisage it going on for the best part of a week, while I wait for your muse to strike.... I think I should start the ball rolling...


Amid the bombs in '41 I came into the world.
But now I want to celebrate, so get the flags unfurled!
String 'em all round Blogland, red and white and blue,
and please come to my party - yes, you , and you, and you!
Write a little ditty, but not TOO rude , I pray,
and help me live it up a bit on my special day!

Sunday 13 March 2011

Hello Yesterday?

 She stared at the clockface. The hands were creeping round in the wrong direction! Time wasn't simply standing still, it was reversing... 
Whenever would it stop?

The image was supplied by Monkey Man  for his Sunday 160 prompt. I think all of us would like to be able to make our clocks do the same thing occasionally!

Now it's after lunch, and I've rewound  time to about 1985 when I first joined a barbershop chorus. Within three weeks, I was standing on these risers in Worthing I think it was, for a Music Festival. The pink and white tops we fondly referred to as 'throw ups', due to the shocking pink and sequin glitter. But they were exceedingly easy to adapt in terms of alternating the pattern we formed, should singers need to change places. We simply swung them round, until pink became white and white became pink. Not many stage costumes are that adaptable.
Although I missed writing a Sepia Saturday actually on Saturday, my Sunday 160 has allowed me to go backwards and rectify matters! LOL That makes the second offering for the same day - here was the first!

Wednesday 9 March 2011

The Schoolroom

On a large wall chart were printed the letters of the alphabet, each with a corresponding picture. The first steps on the road to reading began with the teacher pointing to each in turn, while we chanted with her ' A for apple, B for butterfly, C for cat, D for dog',  and so on. I can still recite it like a litany, and in the appropriate sing-song voice, too.

The times tables were learnt in a similar fashion.  To this day, I regret that we stopped at the  ' twelve times',  and number thirteen never made its way into my brain. I'm sure it would have come in handy…
The owners of the school were Miss Hilda,  Miss Kathleen Mr Tom and Mr Frank Daley, and here they are as children, thanks to  a former pupil  who remained an enthusiastic keeper of School Photos and Reunion Records.

The Daley's as children
 Tom I don't remember, but Frank was tall and thin and a bit craggy, like a long necked tortoise. Kathleen was tall, like her brother, with large feet and hands, but a relatively gentle, though  solemn,  manner. By contrast, Hilda was short, verging on the rotund, and bright and chirpy as a little robin; pink, applely cheeks, a narrow pointed nose sporting fine, wire framed spectacles and short, silver white hair completed the picture. I see her still, wearing a pale pink blouse beneath a light grey, short waisted cardigan, and matching light grey skirt  which went down to her lower calf.  Her shoes had sturdy, block heels, about an inch  high, pointed toes and laces all up the front, like a brogue shoe. Her feet were quite small, compared to her sister's, and she turned her toes outward slightly as she walked.
Although she was one of the joint heads of the school, she still found time in her busy schedule to take us members of the 'baby class' for an occasional lesson.  She used to read poetry to us, and  we were often set to learn poems by heart.

If I were an apple
and grew on a tree,
I think I'd fall down
on a nice boy like me.

I wouldn't stay there
giving nobody joy,
but fall down at once
and say 'Eat me, my boy'.

This was definitely one of them. The entire class, come the end of my first school year when Prize Giving Day came round, had to go on stage and recite it before an audience of adoring parents. And a grand old day it was, as the venue for the festivity was South Parade Pier Theatre. Probably every class performed something, but what with the nerves attendant on my first stage appearance, and the pride in my first pair of black shoes (I'd always had brown ones before),  all aspects of the proceedings that didn't directly involve me, were eclipsed!

At the end of the performances came the time for the actual Prize Giving. Trestle tables were set up at the front of the stage, and the Heads of School, plus an occasional governor, sat behind it in a solemn row, whilst year by year, and class by class, the top performers filed past and were awarded with a book and a handshake from Miss Hilda, after Miss Kathleen had handed her the appropriate volume from the stacks of books on the table.  
My prize that time was 'Parlicoot', an endearing, imaginary animal.  It told the story of his adventures whilst trying to find another who looked like himself. I remember crying at his sad plight before he finally encountered Playmate at the end of the story. I still have the book, and have added a picture of its front cover, as well as proof of its happy ending, to let you see what a delightful creature Parlicoot actually was!

It has just dawned on me, although it's nowhere near Saturday, and the illustrations aren't sepia, I may as well link it to Alan and Kat's Sepia Saturday for March 12th...As I said before, 'Waste Not Want Not!' And thanks to Merinz for telling us the rest of that rhyme!

Monday 7 March 2011

Waste Not Want Not

Writing takes time, I'm sure you'll agree. Last week, for homework, my creative writing tutor asked us to concentrate on sights and sounds as we chose a subject from his shortlist of ideas. One of these was 'Cleaning out and laying a coal fire.'

This fired my imagination (pardon the pun), as I was a child long before central heating had become as common as it is in today's modern world, and I well remember the daily chore of lighting the fire. Here's what I wrote:-

Ritual Fire Dance, Perhaps...

Every morning, gritty pink-grey ash would waft up as I watched my mother's knobbly fingers sift through to save any unburnt pieces of coal. The fire basket screeched as it got dragged out from the recess of the hearth. Soon, the repeated metallic scrape and thump of the shovel sounded as it hit against the fire bricks after each scoop, until Mum had cleared every bit of ash and sent it shooshing into a waiting ash can, whose anodised aluminium lid and handle clanked and rattled in protest at being force fed with the unappetising breakfast..

Newspaper sheets crackled as she scrunched them into the empty grate and laid a criss-cross pattern of splintered wood sticks on top. Sometimes she would add noxious smelling, greasy-white fire lighter cubes, before placing the pieces of rescued coal from yesterday's fire on the wooden scaffold, along with a few satin black knobs from the scuttle.

The rasp of a match would be the signal for me to hold my breath, as I watched the flames encircle the paper and wood. Often, another large sheet of newspaper would be held across the front of the hearth, to help the fire 'draw' - or was it to help the chimney 'draw' the fire? I only remember the whooshing noise of the draft racing up into the stack, that made me think of trains in tunnels, and the horrible blast of air that sucked through open carriage windows, smelling of soot...

Occasionally, the fire ate the paper and wood before the coal was properly alight, and the whole charade had to be played over again. But on a good day, tiny embers would catch and Mum and I would will the fire to take hold, and sigh with relief when it did.

It would be many years before I realised that sometimes in life we need to sift through different cinders, to rescue dying embers and persevere until we can encourage them to blaze again.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Oh, Dear!

Sometimes a Candid Camera shot is more fun than a Posed Portrait. This one goes back in the mists of time, to when one of my relations got married.

My cousin Betty is the lady with the navy and white hat, which suddenly proved bothersome. The large bow adorning the back of it got entangled with the collar of her suit, and shot the whole thing askew over her silky soft hair. I caught the moment when her hand had just set it to rights, but it was only later that I realised I'd included my husband's mammoth yawn in the photo as well!

In fact the whole composition speaks volumes, from the small, grumbly boy in the foreground being firmly kept from mischief by an elderly retainer, to the dangling camera case of another amateur photographer in the lower right hand corner.

But I can't help chuckling further at what looks like a loo seat hanging on the church wall in the top left segment, nor the short lady below it who appears to be wearing either a lamp shade, or a mob cap on her head! Don't weddings bring out the best in people?

I hope my choice of Sepia Saturday snapshot will give you all a grin as big as mine when I unearthed it this morning...

Friday 4 March 2011

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

And found ? No! Not a blooming crowd
of daffodils, all bright and breezy,
but something which was far more pleasey!
A clever site that gives quotations -
you'll find one fit for situations
never dreamed of! Have a look?
I am sure I'm not mistook!
Here, << just click upon this link
and let me know what you all think!
It's to Rob at Thursday Think Tank
that I want to give a big 'Thank
you' for pointing out the site.
Now go and have some fun! Alright?

Thursday 3 March 2011

I'm Being Haunted

Help! Pancakes have invaded my mind! And it would seem, many of you have been suffering the same fate! So far I've resisted the urge to rush to the kitchen, but I'm not sure how long I will be able to hold out...

I've trawled through Google images today to find an illustration which most closely resembles my pancakes of yore, and this one fits the bill well.

There were many others which didn't... Images of thick, flaccid looking anaemic circles of, no doubt, unimaginable toughness besieged my senses, and just about put me off the thought of pancakes for life! These ones at least, look thin and crispy enough to make my mouth water.

 But it was Kat Mortensen, alias Poeticat, whose email made me feel obliged to confess a small fact I omitted in Monday's post. The dreaded First Pancake Crumpled Mess. How many of you know what I mean? In the eagerness to get started on the feast, it's tempting to begin cooking before the pan is quite hot enough.  It's easy to pour on a trifle more batter than is wise, because the hand /eye coordination has yet to find the perfect balance... This pale amoeba sits silently in the pan, taunting you. Eventually, slight hissing begins around the circumference, but by this time, the centre of it is stuck like glue to the griddle. A hearty scraping with the fish slice only serves to concertina the amorphous mass into a heap, and even if you manage to flip it over, it will never be a thing of beauty!

But by golly, does it taste good! Hehehe! I know - I've acquired a certain liking for them over, in the fingers, no lemon, no sugar, straight-from-the-pan-heaven!