Friday, 26 August 2016

Ink Monitor

   Seeing the photo that Adele posted reminded me of being an ink monitor...surely a precarious task that 'Health and Safety ' would quite frown upon today. Then there were the pens with nibs that scratched on the paper...and the paper with printed parallel lines in which one's writing had to fit. The exercise books that were taken home to be covered , uniquely in the lounge wallpaper or brown paper. Each day one wrote the date in the margin,,what were margins for ? I expect for teachers' corrections and comments ? The use of fountain pens was obligatory and all exam work had to be done with one- so the use of cartridge pens was so beneficial as it saved you from having to take a bottle of ink into the room ( risking the accidental breaking or leaking of the bottle all over items in your briefcase ).
   Letter writing was an art form. Learning the correct layout and format..addressing people, offering a final salutation correctly. Addressing the envelope with the proper spacing. All these things and more.
   As a holiday job, whilst a student, I worked at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and at one time I took over from the secretary of the engineer's department whilst she was on holiday. My first typing task was to right a job reference for a departing exchange worker. Now my typing skills were ( still are ) minimal  , having been 'taught' at the admissions department. I rather think I took most of the morning. By the end of two weeks I'd really got into the swing of things and in fact I was offered a job ! So I expect all that time spent learning the correct procedures held me in good stead.
   When I was a student I was in charge of 'Stationery'..I had a locked cupboard from which I sold items of necessities to my fellow students .Reams  of foolscap paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, rubbers and other assorted sundries.
   Then the ability to write as much as possible in an airmail letter. The writing minute, the sentiments deep felt. Writing on the pages-- along the edges--never wasting a space to write loving words to a friend or relative so far away.
  When I was teaching, at the beginning of the academic year, we teachers could have a limited supply of stationery items that the school secretary closely monitored.
   Brings me neatly back to monitoring. The joy of being chosen as ink monitor for a week...then you could be milk monitor....then in charge of the pencil sharpener that was screwed to the teacher's desk ( overuse led to punishment we mostly wanted to stand at the front and make that grinding noise), Jotter monitor, text book monitor, dinner table monitor...the list goes on- making us responsible for trivial tasks that, nevertheless, made us feel important.
  I am much afraid that I don't have a poem for today's blog , but I do hope I've provided some nostalgic memories for some of us !!
   Picture is the result of ' Googling '   INK MONITOR .......

Thanks for reading.....Kath

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Stationery - the written word.

I wonder... will there still be paper and pens when my Grand-daughter reaches my age? Will people even remember how to hand write a letter?

I remember my father's desk: It is one of my clearest childhood memories. I was six years old when we moved into The Everest Hotel in Maghull. It was a brand new pub, built in the middle of a rural village between Preston and Liverpool, dedicated to first ascent of the mountain by Hilary, Hunt and sherpa Tensing. The walls were decorated with climbing gear and photos.  I realise now that it was an early example of what we now call 'themed pubs'. My father's office, like all the rooms in the flat that we inhabited above the public bars, was behind one of eight doors that opened onto one side of a long corridor that stretched the full length of the angular building. There was only one door on the other side, leading to a sunny flat roof at the rear. 

Inside Dad's office stood dark grey, dexion shelving, stacked with cartons of cigarettes, roll towels for dispensers and other sundry items. Ascent of the shelving lead through a loft hatch into another world of high roofed loft space divided into separate rooms, bigger than the bedrooms below. In one section was a large flat boarded area surrounding a large, cold water tank. here my brothers set up their Hornby train set and their Scalextric track.  The first time I ventured up, I discovered a large room, with another boarded area and once I had negotiated the beams, separated with insulation, I discovered a large brown trunk, filled with all my sister's ballet costumes,

While my brother's played, I dressed up, alone and happy in my own imagination, dancing. Sometimes they would turn off the lights and close the loft hatch , climbing down the shelving and leave me, without realising that I was there. Any way ... where was I ? Oh yes, my father's desk. It was a compendium of fascinating objects for a small girl and the brand new polished wooden furniture had sliding drawers, unlike my school desk with lifting lid.

The drawers were filled with headed notepaper, envelopes, pens, and paper clips.  On the top was a large blotter, bottles of back and blue ink, a stapler, the telephone and a small sponge in a case.  dad would dampen the sponge to seal envelopes and glue stamps to letters. I recall that he also dampened the tips of fingers when counting money.  The fountain pens sucked up the ink but splattered and blobbed in my inexperienced hands. The black ink bottle was particularly intriguing, being tall and flat on both sides, with a ridged neck.  The label bore the words 'indelible black ink', a  phrase that at that time was just beyond my comprehension.

One day, while my father was busy in the bar, I found myself at his desk, playing. The black ink bottle tempted me and I nonchalantly opened the bottle and slowly dripped a few droops onto the sponge pad, watching them disappear. Suddenly, I was disturbed by my mother, calling from the kitchen and left, fully intending to return and rinse out the sponge. To my regret - I forgot.

Over the next few days, the family were engaged in choosing wallpaper for bedrooms while the decorator was busy in the lounge. On completion his next task was to paint my father's office and as a consequence, my his paperwork moved temporarily to the dining room table.  One evening, I was sitting there doing sums, ( my eldest brother used to set me maths homework).  My youngest brother was watching TV, distracting and teasing me. In a moment of sheer frustration, I picked up the sponge and launched it towards him.

Suddenly, it was like a scene from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, as huge black spots began to spread out onto the newly painted white walls. The brand new, very chic, 1960's,  brilliant orange, standard lampshade behind me was splatted with two huge spots. We looked at each other in disbelief. We were sunk!

Ten minutes later, having realised that the decorator was still upstairs in the flat, we managed to get him to repaint the walls. We blotted the lampshade but couldn't remove the ink, so we took a risk and turned it round so that the stain was on the side facing the wall. Neither of us spoke of it again. We didn't tell. Goodness knows what Mum and dad thought when they finally saw the ink stains.

In 1974, I went with my parents on a short cruise round the Mediterranean. Sailing into Lisbon, a number of Portuguese families came aboard for the trip across to Tangier, celebrating Mardi Gras.   Among them was a very handsome young man called Rui Ventura., who decided that I was the one for him.  He wrote too me many times after our return home, inviting me to stay with his family in Estoril. My father refused to allow me to go. I still have the letters in a leather case and re-read them occasionally.

Love Letters

You sent me love letters,
Letters from Estoril,
Letters of love, teenage love,
Letters that I keep still.

Your letters are my treasures,
Your letters warmed my heart,
Your letters penned in your own hand,
A lovely, dying art,

You were the boy on holiday,
You were so handsome then,
You promised to love me forever,
I never saw you again.

I still keep your letters,
I keep them deep in a drawer,
I take them out and read them again,
And I am young once more.

Thank you for reading.  Adele    

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Trying To Get Animated

I grew up in the fifties and sixties when animated films - or cartoons - were all the rage. I must have been the only child who didn't like them. Give me a choice between Lassie and Mickey Mouse and the dog won, paws down, every time. I've always preferred reality over fantasy, although, with hindsight, I have to admit there probably wasn't much real life in the story of a super dog who bounded about rescuing humans against all odds, fighting off the despicable enemy and still remaining cute and lovable.

I lived for Saturday Morning Pictures. My brothers and I would be packed off, each with with sixpence clutched in a sweaty palm, to the local cinema, where, without parents, we were let loose to eat sweets, throw the wrappers at our enemies, run up and down the aisles, laugh uproariously - and occasionally watch the film, all the while keeping an eye out for the uniformed staff who marched about, shouting and shining torches into the eyes of anyone misbehaving - about 90% of the audience most weeks. 

My brothers were big fans of the animated films and would settle down and stare up at the screen with rapt attention once the accompanying music began. I, however, would disappear to the toilet or go off into a dream of my own until Lassie reappeared to solve all our problems.

If you want to know about animation ask a ten year old. He will almost certainly be able to demonstrate how to create a YouTube video using stop motion techniques - or some such thing. This is one my grandson made last year when I was doing some children's photography workshops with a fellow photographer.

I can appreciate the huge amount of time and skill it takes to create even a short animated film, but try as I might, I just can't sit through one.

Discussing this week's blog with my husband I discovered he was a secret Popeye fan, instantly listing all the characters, and even running through whole episodes, which still made him double up with laughter.

As for Lassie, she leaves him cold....

A little ditty in praise of animation
There's a certain satisfaction
In the art of animation
When a figure that was static springs alive
The simple little drawing
That once was found quite boring
Is something else when one frame becomes five

A slight change in the form
So that movement 'comes the norm
Is magic in the eyes of young and old
Just a tiny little shift
Is an animator's gift
And the story really does start to unfold

From flip books without sound
To Huckleberry Hound
And Popeye, Nemo, Frozen and the rest
If those characters are moving
Then the animator's proving
That cartoons are right up there with the best.

Thanks for reading, Jill Reidy

Saturday, 20 August 2016


Apologies if you're getting served up an overdo of moggy blogs this week. The idea to run with the theme of animation came after several Dead Good Poets attended a workshop coinciding with artist Mark Leckey's 'Kolossal Kat' exhibition in Blackpool, featuring a giant inflatable Felix and various other artefacts inspired by Leckey's love of the cartoon cat.

Felix pretty much passed me by as a kid, so this has been a fascinating voyage of discovery into the murky past of the daddy of all kitties. I like the version that roots Felix in the work of Australian cartoonist Pat Sullivan, who first devised the black and white feline in 1917 for his animated short film The Tail Of Thomas Kat (who lost his tail in a fight with a rooster). Master Tom appeared next in Feline Follies, another short cartoon film made in 1919 for Paramount Films in Sullivan's animation studio in New York, with Otto Messmer as chief animator. The appeal of the Tom cat character led to a demand for more short films and saw their star (for both Sullivan and Messmer claim birthing rights) remodeled as Felix - according to Sullivan, in affectionate homage to his home state of Victoria, named Australia Felix by the early antipodean explorer Thomas Mitchell.

Felix being Latin for fortunate and not dissimilar from Felis Catus, the Latin for (domestic) cat, it looked to be an intuitive master stroke of branding, a simple but bold amalgam of lines and emotions - Felix the laughing cat with the magical tail; (oh yes, his doesn't get lost).

Messmer's protégé Joe Oriolo was entrusted with drawing Felix for decades and then his son Don Oriolo carried on the tradition. In the hands of just those four animators, Felix has now been entertaining children of all ages for the best part of a century on film, on television, in comics and newspapers around the world. He continues to do so today - and I've still never seen a Felix cartoon or comic strip!

The Joy of Felix
What need of words?
Yours is a triumph of the visual,
the power of Miaow.
You are animated,
replicated, syndicated,
truly iconic;
more recognisable than Jesus,
more magical than Krishna,
smugger than the Buddha!
You are Everycat,
your cartoon swagger,
spreading curious mischief
with a wave of your tail.
Swish and grin, Felix,
swish and grin.

Thanks for reading, S ;-)

Friday, 19 August 2016


I love animations, especially early Walt Disney films. The expertise and dedication required to produce the thousands of artistic drawings and paintings required to produce action are breathtaking. All this before computer generated animation. I have on DVD "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", including bits not used in the original viewing.( It makes for great viewing ).There was the time I took a prospective boyfriend to see "Fantasia". I sat enthralled whilst he fell asleep!

Originally animations were aimed at an adult audience and the likes of Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat were rather suspicious looking characters and not the benign creatures that we associate with now.

Of course nowadays children are literally bombarded with 'cartoon characters ' and these are computer generated. I took my son to see "Avatar" in 3D and that was very exhilarating, and more recently I saw "Lion King" in 3D. It's so wonderful to drift into the make believe world of animation.

The piece of poetry I include today was written at a recent workshop in the Grundy Art Gallery where they had a giant blow-up replica of Felix the Cat.


Lying there prostrate with your over-inflated ego.
Assisted to an upright position, held by ropes.
Paraded through the streets of New York - where will he go ?
He went to greater and higher places. Still in focus
In the 21st century.

A face now benign, not grotesque as before.
Rotund and jolly, squishy squashy body,
But with daring do. Actions faded into lore.
Open his bag and repair the world's woes,
Defeat her enemies.

Able to grasp any situation (he has thumbs!)
No longer cat-like in appearance nor actions.
Look out world it's Felix that comes.
Would you believe it, now that he's an
Immobile animation on display.

To fully understand my written piece it may prove useful to find out the history of the aforementioned cat.....

Thanks for reading..Kath

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Animation - in the beginning.

Animation, the art of making inanimate objects appear to move. Animation is an artistic impulse that long predates film. History’s first recorded animator is Pygmalion of Greek and Roman mythology, a sculptor who created a figure of a woman so perfect that he fell in love with her and begged Venus to bring her to life

The theory of the animated cartoon preceded cinematography by half a century. Early experimenters, working to create conversation pieces for Victorian parlours or new sensations for the touring magic-lantern shows discovered the principle of persistence of vision. If drawings of the stages of an action were shown in fast succession, the human eye would perceive them as a continuous movement.

 In 1832 Belgian Joseph Plateau in 1832 invented the phenakistoscope, a spinning cardboard disk that created the illusion of movement when viewed in a mirror. In 1834 William George Horner invented the zoetrope, a rotating drum lined by a band of pictures that could be changed.  In 1876, Frenchman Émile Reynaud adapted the principle into a form that could be projected to a theatre audience. Reynaud was animation’s first entrepreneur using hand painted ribbons of celluloid, conveyed by a system of mirrors to a screen, giving personality to his animated characters.

The invention of  sprocket-driven film stock was a great leap forward. J. Stuart Blackton produced Humorous Phases of Funny Faces in 1906 launching a series of animated films for Vitagraph, a pioneering new York company. Later that year, Blackton he also experimented with the stop-motion technique, during which objects are photographed, repositioned and photographed again, for a short film,  Haunted Hotel.

In France, Émile Cohl was also developing a from of animation using relatively simple stick figures.  The rise in popularity of the Sunday comic sections of the new tabloid newspapers saw the nascent animation industry recruiting many of the best-known artists. One such artist was Winsor McCay, whose surreal  was a pinnacle of  art. McCay created a hand-coloured short film of Little Nemo for use during his vaudeville act in 1911 but it was Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914 that transformed the art. McCay’s superb drawing, fluid sense of movement and great feeling for character gave viewers an animated creature who seemed to have a personality, a presence, and a life of her own. The first cartoon star had been born.

McCay made several other extraordinary films, including a re-creation of The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918), but it was left to Pat Sullivan to extend McCay’s discoveries. Australian-born cartoonist, Sullivan opened a studio in New York City.  He recognised the great talent of a young animator named Otto Messmer, and soon one of his characters,  a wily black cat named Felix became was made into the star of a series of popular one-reelers. Designed by Messmer for maximum flexibility and facial expressiveness, the round-headed, big-eyed Felix quickly became the standard model for cartoon characters: a rubber ball on legs who required a minimum of effort to draw and could be kept in constant motion. The rest, as they say - is history.

A recent visit to the wonderful Mark Leckey exhibition, This Kolossal Kat, that Massive Mog, shown at The Grundy Gallery reintroduced me to the joy of Felix.  A massive inflatable welcomed me and I was so entranced that I made it my mission to get some fellow poets together for a relaxed writing workshop. We spent two hours reviewing the exhibits and discussing our reactions. I am grateful to Tanessha Ahmed and Sean Payne for encouraging us to write within the gallery but also applaud curator Richard Parry for bringing this truly animated exhibition to Blackpool.

My poem is one of several that began life in the Grundy Gallery.

Furry Tail of New York.

A plain white page,
A pencil in a hand,
A stylised, cubist creature,
A monochrome delight.
As drawings keep emerging,
A gesture or a glance,
A paw is raised,
A swagger step
And suddenly a flicker forms.
A star is born,
A feline animation,
A mesmerising creation.
Felix the Cat.   

A funny little creature
Appears on movie screens,
As charming as the Chaplin Tramp,
A swinging tail
And silent pranks,
A cheeky smile,
A cheery act.
A cartoon strip soon follows,
A syndicated publication
Arrives in every Nation
Amid global adoration.
Felix the cat. 

A softer, rounder image,
A made over furry friend, 
A huge Macy’s inflatable,
As nose art on a plane,
And then the highest accolade,
A model of his form is made,
A turntable spins,
An image travels to a screen,  
A televisual projection,
A premier for animation
And everybody knows his name
And everybody loves his game
And everybody sings his song.
Felix the Cat.

Thanks for reading. Adele 

Sunday, 14 August 2016


I have a bit of a love hate relationship with gardens. I love sitting in them, hate working in them.
That's not always been the case. Years ago, when I first got married and we moved into a little house with a tiny back yard I asked the old couple next door if I could use part of their garden to grow vegetables.  They agreed readily to this arrangement, and, over the next few months, told me how much they were looking forward to the carrots, potatoes and beans that I'd promised to share with them. I tackled the vegetable patch with a great deal of enthusiasm, a huge amount of digging, a mountain of seeds and absolutely no skills or knowledge.
Needless to say, I think it gradually dawned on the old couple that they would probably be pushing up daisies before the promised bumper harvest was gathered.  One day their middle aged son appeared at the door to inform me that the gardening arrangement was causing his parents not a little stress, and he thought it best if I stuck to my own back yard in future.  Offended but somewhat relieved, I collected my spade, trowel and watering can and made the short journey back to our yard, head held high.
And there the story might have ended, had I not been married to somebody who was even less knowledgeable and skilled than his wife, and sadly didn't have the enthusiasm which might have made up for that.  The only things that grew in that back yard were four beautiful yellow rose bushes that had been there since Domesday, bloomed abundantly each year, and smelled as sweet as summer.
Every few months I used to pack up the children and take them to London on the train to see their grandparents.  Their dad stayed behind, ostensibly to work.  On one occasion I phoned home, only to be told the rose bushes had been removed to make the yard look neater. I was furious. I loved those rose bushes. They were part of summer. They WERE summer. I couldn't believe they had gone. I shouted and cried and left the Anti-Percy Thrower in no doubt that this misdemeanour would have serious consequences.
He didn't sound too worried, but when I returned I found four brown and wilted rose bushes exactly where I'd left them. On further investigation I discovered they were rootless and had obviously been rammed back into their tiny beds by an inexperienced and panicky hand.
Unlike the rose bushes, the husband survived - just.
When we moved house we were delighted and dismayed, in equal measure, to suddenly inherit a large garden with a huge lawn and flower beds. For the first ten years, with three young children and their friends, the lawn was soon known as Soweto Football Ground by all who played on her: a little grass in the middle and big bare patches around the makeshift goalposts at either end: dry and dusty in summer, thick with mud in winter.
Now, the mini footballers have flown the nest,  the grass has been seeded and tamed and the husband has passed his mowing test.  He is now let loose with the petrol mower. He is not allowed near the roses, although he was caught  in the act, quite recently, frantically chopping at a healthy flowering bush.
I decide more supervision is needed as I plump the cushions on my sunbed, settle back with a sigh and raise a cool drink to my lips...
The sign that mysteriously appeared in our garden one morning circa 1996
I thought this song by Lynn Anderson might be appropriate...
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime
When you take you gotta give so live and let live and let go oh oh oh oh
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
I could promise you things like big diamond rings
But you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover
So you better think it over
Well, if sweet talking you could make it come true
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter
But what would it matter
So smile for a while and let's be jolly love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
I could sing you a tune and promise you the moon
But if that's what it takes to hold you I'd just as soon let you go
But there's one thing I want you to know
You'd better look before you leap still waters run deep
And there won't always be someone there to pull you out
And you know what I'm talking about
So smile for a while and let's be jolly love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime...
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime...
Thanks for reading, Jill Reidy.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Aphids & Aphorisms

When I think of gardens in the abstract, I have in mind Monet's various sumptuous impressionist renderings of his grounds at Giverny, or certain songs of Van Morrison featuring gardens all wet with rain. When it comes to gardens in the concrete (as my current one is - poor pun intended), I recall a bittersweet mix of long hours of back-breaking labour, digging, de-stoning, weeding, battling against rampant nature... and much shorter hours of admiring the results of said labours.

Gardening can be a very therapeutic endeavour. No less wise a man than Monsieur Voltaire exhorted us to cultivate our gardens as a means to achieving true contentment - but the rewards only come from toil, a waging of the constant battle. Admiring other people's gardens, enjoyable though it is, doesn't provide the same frisson. That deep, connected pleasure can only be won hands-on, and it's not easy.

The worst of it is the other life-forms one has to contend with: the sheer thuggery of slugs, those armies of aphids and plagues of blackfly that variously devour or infest the flowers and vegetables we coax and tend so lovingly. Note to God: aphids - bad invention!

The essayist, short-story writer and all-round wit Dorothy Parker was fond of claiming that she could immediately construct an aphorism out of any word anyone chose to pitch at her. I guess it became a party trick of hers. My favourite example is of the time someone called out 'horticulture'. Without missing a beat, Ms Parker shot back with this parodic gem: "you can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." Game, set and match. What a gal.

My second favourite newspaper headline ever is: Woman claimed dead body in garden was plant.
My favourite, from the Miners' Strike, triumphed by virtue of a priceless misprint: Flying pickets sent to other planets.

One day my concrete garden will be rampant with horticulture and then everything will be very lovely, with marigolds, red hot pokers and masses of geraniums in big olive oil tins painted white just like in a Greek taverna; maybe the odd tomato as well.

This week's poem is about one such geranium, pictured below. I promised as much a few blogs ago (Overwintering, 28/11/2015 to be exact) and I'm a man of my word (most of the time).

Neon Geranium
Neon Geranium
Electrifying flame of passion,
not red, not pink,
but some hot iridescence
in between,
pulsing on a spectrum
that draws honey-rangers
to the lit paper petalry
of your pollen stores;
fabulous, fire-sprouting meme
of returning seductions,
above your bright veined leaves,
long strident stalks,
you draw me in
on sultry summer afternoons
even though
you are redolent
of tomcats and tomatoes.

Thanks for reading, S ;-)

Thursday, 11 August 2016

English country gardens.

If I were to copy Maria's song from The Sound of Music and list a few of my favourite things, the top three would be -  dance, music and an English garden.  I was fortunate to have a father who loved to grow things. He took me to Southport Flower show several times and I would always choose a miniature rose to bring home. I grew up watching and helping him transform our overgrown pub garden into a bit of heaven, winning Best Kept Pub in Lancashire for three years.

Having read The Secret Garden aged eleven, I wanted my own little space to grow things.  I also developed a love of trees. I think it is a real shame that many people don't understand how a tree will grow if they plant it in a small garden. I despair when I see a potentially 80ft copper beech planted too close to a garden wall. Trees need a lot of space both above and below ground.

My own garden is proud to contain a wonderful bay tree that I planted myself 16 years ago.  I prune it back vigorously every year, keeping the roots compact and it is a wonderful conical shape. If I ever leave my house, I will have to find a very good home for my bay. It is one of the family. I also have a very sad apple tree in the back garden and have planted another reasonably close, so that when its life span ends, the new tree will take its place. Trees do so much to replenish the nutrients in the water table. They are miraculous.

I know that we haven't really had a traditional Summer so far this year but there have been a few sultry evenings, when sitting in the garden until dark was lovely. I hope that, as in the past few years, a late flurry of clement weather will grace our September days. I hope to host an afternoon tea on the lawn for a few friends to introduce them to my first grandchild.  Fingers crossed... 


Le Bal des Fleurs 

Rhododendron fall to seed,
peonies droop their heavy, windswept heads,
the daffodils are silent for another year
and nature holds her breath.  

Almost unnoticed, flecks of burgundy appear,
jasmine stars light up the backdrop fence
and Summer spills onto the stage
with honeysuckle bursting into bloom. 

The Corps de Ballet, dance in from the wings,
prance and plié to the warm breeze suite
and spread to fill the border space.  
A rush of tutus:  pure white marguerite.

Delphinium in fifty shades of blue,
waltz with lupines dipped in dew.
interlacing gossamer gypsophila,
shimmers in the sunlight beams.

Climbing peace with lemon tips,
cascading pastel limbs from a rustic arch
fragrance the air. In the footlights,
a parade of scarlet: Geraniums stand guard.

Scented stocks crowd into shady corners,
wearing vibrant pink and lilac frocks.
Gladiolas splay their spectral heads:
Yellow, through to flaming reds.  

Now the colour reaches a crescendo.
Against the turquoise, cloudless sky,
baskets overflow, mood indigo,
while fuchsia ballerinas pirouette.

As finale, arum lilies centre stage,
perform a gentle Par des Deux,
taking bows as dusky curtain falls,
first him, then her.
Thank you for reading.  Adele

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Tomorrow Never Comes!

Preface: For once I was prepared, organised and poised over the keyboard.  I wrote the piece, found an appropriate picture, composed a poem (of sorts) and prepared to send.  Searching for the email address I discovered, to my horror, that the title wasn’t Tomorrow Never Comes, as I’d thought, but Tomorrow Never Knows.   Well, it didn’t know what an idiot I was, that’s for sure.  So, due to lack of time, here is the original (with apologies to all concerned)……

When my children were little I couldn’t wait for tomorrow, the day that never came. Everything would be calmer, happier, easier, better.  Of course, it never was.  Each day was a challenge.  Having three children with fewer than four years between them it was never going to be anything else.  I was desperate for the crawler to start walking, the chatterbox to stop talking; the baby to sleep more than two hours at a time; and for nappies to be consigned forever to nappy heaven.  I couldn’t think further than tomorrow, and for the relief it would bring that today was now yesterday.

Just recently, I discovered some old diaries.  Oh, the angst, the despair, the constant guilt whatever I did, the tales of woe that were so important at the time.  One particular day was an all-time low.  I put the baby in the big Silver Cross pram.  He cried.  I put the toddler on the pram seat.  She cried.   I pushed the pram out of the house, holding the hand of my big boy, who I realise now was really hardly more than a baby himself.  As I walked like a zombie through Layton the baby and the toddler continued to cry, the big boy tripped and hurt his knee.  He cried. We walked on.  I felt tears pricking at my eyes. I steered the pram around and headed back.  The four of us cried all the way home.  If their dad had been with us I’m sure he would have cried too.  And if I could have snapped my fingers and had one wish that day, it would have been for time to miraculously move on ten, or even twenty years.  I wanted to leap through all my tomorrows to a time when I could cope again.

Fortunately, like giving birth, the pain and stress of my children’s early years has gradually faded into fuzzy memories, and, donning rose coloured spectacles, I think back fondly to the excited faces at Christmas and birthdays; the stories and cuddles under the covers; and the funny sayings that  have gone down in family history.

These days I’m quite glad if tomorrow never comes.  I can’t keep up with today, never mind tomorrow. As a chronic procrastinator with a deadline and midnight approaching I would love to slow down time, put off tomorrow for as long as possible.  The first time I heard the Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty Four,’ I never dreamed that it would apply to me.  On my birthday this year an old friend sang the whole song down the phone to me.  Halfway through I realized with shock and not a little sadness that tomorrow really had come.  I’d turned into my mum.  Her voice echoes in my head as I go through the name of every family member before finally settling on the correct one for the person waiting patiently in front of me.

Holding off tomorrow has become my life’s work since retirement.  I see the days, months and years slipping away from me – it’s Thursday again, we have the grandchildren;  August, must be Turkey;  2016, dad’s ninetieth birthday, how on earth did that happen?  My parents were always going to live forever.  I don’t want tomorrow sneaking up on them.   I add them to my list of reasons for slowing down time.

For now, I'm happy to live for today. Long may tomorrow stay safely in the distant future...

1982 - before tomorrow came!
Tomorrow Never Comes
I’ll make a list
Sort out that room
Clean the cooker
Phone the dentist
Send that invoice
Edit those pictures
Contact the gas people
Do the ironing
Tidy those drawers
Empty the dishwasher
Mop the floor
Go to Sainsburys
Fill up with petrol
File my papers
Delete the rubbish on the Mac
Cull my friends’ list
Start my diet
Finish that story
Reply to emails
Get two birthday cards
Phone mum
Google Pokemon Go
Apply for a commission
Find an agent
Write that blog
Write that blog
Write that blog.
Thanks for reading, Jill Reidy.