written and posted by members of Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Through A Window

"Look through any window (yeah), what do you see?" sang The Hollies in 1965, for those with long memories and/or grey hairs; and it got me thinking - so here is a little psychology test for you, gentle readers. When you visualise  through a window  is it you doing the looking? or are you being observed? And if the gaze is yours, are you looking out or in?

Deep and meaningful stuff, eh? You can check out The Hollies' take in the YouTube link appended at the end of today's blog. They were typically looking out at the external world.

Sunlight streaming in through a window is one of my favourite sights. Without being too fanciful its quite a powerful (and romantic) image, as illustrated. I think it has to do with the source of life and light pouring into the (dark) soul. It doesn't work on grey and wet days - such as today!

Meanwhile, I'll confess I derive quite some fascination from looking briefly into windows as I go walkabout around Blackpool, not in any creepy voyeuristic way I hope you'll understand. Isn't it human nature to be curious? For me it's more an imaginative exercise, extrapolating from the occasional glimpse into someone's front room and speculating as to what sort of person or people might reside within and what their lives might be like. It's the wannabe novelist in me taking an interest in the unknown, keeping my powers of observation sharp and fuelling invention.

I couldn't blog on this theme without mentioning defenestration, a mode of dispatch which intrigued me as a schoolboy studying European history - I think I was impressed that there was even a word for throwing people out of windows to their untimely death. It appears to have been particularly popular in Prague, with famous incidents occurring early in the 15th and 17th centuries; and then much more recently in 1948 when the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk was assassinated by being bundled out of a second-storey window at the Foreign Ministry clad only in his pyjamas, to die a death convenient to Moscow in the courtyard below.

Don't Throw It, Mrs!
Thankfully most incidents of defenestration don't involve bodies. It was common practice until only a couple of hundred years ago for people to throw their slops out of upper windows into the street below and in 1863 Russian soldiers hurled Frederic Chopin's grand piano out of a second-storey Warsaw window, an iconoclastic act during the suppression of the Polish uprising. (Chopin had long since ceased to have any use for the instrument - having died several years earlier.) Latterly, rock musicians have been known to pay tribute to the tradition by getting off their faces and hurling the contents of their hotel rooms (TV sets, chairs, anything sizeable enough to lift and fit through a window) down into the patio/pool/street below.

But enough of such foolishness. It was Mandy, I think, who requested that I shouldn't explain too much of the background to my poetry, thereby allowing the reader to come to the work with as open a mind as possible, so as to make of the poem what (s)he will. This, then, is my newly written through-a-window poem, based on a true event dating back forty-something summers.

Golden Square
Back of Fore Street, end of another
long, hot Devon summer day
and I'm sitting in my darkened room
rear window open wide to cool,
listening to a blackbird serenade
the slow-arriving night,
when a golden square of light
opens up across the way,
frames a girl dancing
naked in her bedroom,
to music that I cannot hear.

Of course my eyes are drawn,
whose wouldn't be?
I try not to stare
but it's an enchanting sight
as unselfconsciously she twirls,
arms raised, smile on her face,
gyrating in her private fantasy.

I can't imagine I would ever
do the same, but is it so strange,
this unfettered expression
of freedom and delight?

The girl across the way
dances naked in her bedroom.
She doesn't think that anybody sees
the dark triangle in the golden square.
Either that,
or she's dancing just for me.

But I think her pleasure
is as innocent as mine
and the blackbird's serenade
and the humming
of a washing-machine
and the passage of time.

Click on the song title to hear the jingly-jangly joy of 1965-era Hollies: Look Through Any Window

Remembrance Sunday Thanks for reading and have a good week, S ;-)

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Through the Window

 I lived for 18 years at the top end of a cul-de-sac and looking through my large lounge window became a happy pre-occupation. I soon developed into an avid people watcher. I enjoyed their comings and goings. Over time I saw events happening that drew me into the lives of my neighbours. 

On one occasion I saw a car pull up in front of nearby house, very early in the morning. It was still dark. I watched as a man got out of the car and went into the driveway. He didn't go to the front door, so I was suspicious. I got dressed and went out, where I saw the man putting a clamp on the wheel of their car. I knocked on the door, even though the man told me to go away and mind my own business. The residents were shocked. It evolved that the couple hadn't paid a parking fine from Wyre Borough Council. A bit extreme to say the least. 

One of my neighbours was very strange. He once invited me into his house with an offer to look after our pet hamsters while we went on holiday. The floor of his living room was completely covered by empty crisps packets. There were dozens of milk bottles, some containing dregs on every step of the staircase. The man was obviously OCD. I learned later that he was on the on the sex offenders register following an incident involving a local child. I was shocked, some months later to see him in an upstairs room showing a young child a model railway set. Naturally I called the police. Better to be safe than sorry.

I wonder what happens if you witness something more sinister through a window. In the classic Hitchcock movie Rear Window starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly, Stewart plays a professional photographer recuperating from a broken leg. His rear window looks onto a courtyard with several apartments and during the warm summer evening the residents have their windows open. Over time he playfully gives names to the people he sees. 

A young couple lives in one apartment. The wife is confined to bed. One evening he hears a shout and later sees the man leaving the apartment several times carrying a bag. The day after, a large trunk is carried away by a haulage firm. The next evening he realises that the woman is no longer there and becomes convinced that the man has murdered his wife and disposed of her body. Of course there wouldn't be a story if Stewart and his girlfriend didn't get involved and try to solve the crime. The movie won a number of Oscars and is often cited as Hitchcock's best. If you haven't see the film, it is well worth a watch. 

Another movie on the theme of 'seen through a window' is Girl On The Train, based on a book by Paula Hawkins, starring Emily Blunt. The plot is complex but again this is a movie that is well worth watching. 

Trawling the internet, I came across an album called Through the Window by an artist called Chris Cornell. These are the lyrics from the title song. 

Through the Window
The clouds that gathered turned to rain
The candles on your sill burned out
The weather on your face
Turned to match the mood outside
Reading through poems that you saved
That make the gloomy hours make sense
Or do they lose their power
With the yellowing of age
I saw you suffering
Through a foggy window in the rain
When you thought no one was watching, yeah
Going through your memories
Like so many prisons to escape
And become someone else
With another face
And another name
No more suffering
You sold the best of yourself out
On a chain of grey and white lies
One syllable at a time
You should have made them pay
A higher price
I saw you suffering
Through the cracked and dirty window pane
I was ashamed that I was watching, yeah
Going through your imagination
Looking for a life you could create
And become somebody else, yeah
With another face
With another name
No more suffering
I wish that I could find a seed
And plant a tree that grows so high
So that I could climb
And harvest the ripe stars
For you and I to drink
And spit the ashes from our mouths
And put the grey back in the clouds
And send them packing with our bags
Of old regrets and sorrows
'Cause they don't do a thing but drag us down
So far down
The past is like a braided rope
Each moment tightly coiled inside
I saw you suffering
Through the yellow window of a train
With everybody watching, yeah
Too tired for imagining
That you could ever love somebody else
From somewhere far away
From another time
And another place
With another life
And another face
And another name
And another name
No more suffering

Thanks for reading. Adele

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Stone Tape Theory

The increasingly commercialised spooktastic Helagonfest (archaic name)  has come and gone this week leaving  vestigia  in its wake: festoons of fake spider webs, legions of rotting pumpkins with lopsided grins, gutters arustle with sweet wrappers. Fun for the kids, though. The weirdest it ever got when my own two were young trick-or-treaters was at the big old house on the corner where, when the man answered the doorbell, he gave them a bible each. (They never rang that bell again.)

With my rational (if you haven't seen it, it doesn't exist) approach to all things ghostly, I suspect that ghouls, revenants, spirits of the night, zombies and other miasmic manifestations of the netherworld are just so many figments of the imagination, tall tales to be enjoyed as one temporarily suspends disbelief for the thrill of a scare.

Among many such fictions of vestigia (traces of things left over from a previous phase of existence) can be found the bonkers concept of stone tape theory. The idea is that, just as information can be recorded and stored on magnetic tape in a pattern of ferrous molecules and then converted back into sound and vision (who remembers the reel-to-reel machines, cassette and video recorders of our pre-digital age?), just so, highly-charged events from the past might have encoded their psychic energy into the molecular structure of  surrounding stone or brickwork, to be 'played back' centuries later by anyone gifted enough to be able to pick up and interpret the emanations. Complete bollocks, of course, but fun to speculate about.

What Tales Such Ancient Stones Might Tell
Consequently, I've co-opted the idea of stone tape theory as the bedrock for this week's latest vestigial offering from the imaginarium. (There is a back-story, the massive volcanic eruption of Ilopango in Central America, circa 450AD, but you don't need to know that to appreciate the poem.)

The Tell
Their Corn God was cruel that year,
wiped out the sun in his displeasure,
and needs must be appeased:
one treasured young Saxon life
paid down
against the very future of the tribe,

flaxen-haired, of waxen form
and shy of sixteen summers,
bound by hand and foot
and fate to die, a doll, a daughter,
a dutiful death.

These selfsame rocks
registered the primal shock
as well the taint of spilled blood
the piss of fear,
a devastated family's tears.
It did no earthly good.

Reconstituted in a kinder time,
the jumbled masonry
within this wall can still vibrate
with powerful memories - the tell -
especially when baked all day long
by harvest sun, it's stone tape hum
decipherable by anyone
possessing atavistic sensibility.

Although dark glasses mask her face
and a scarf conceals her tresses,
see those slender shoulders shake
in silent seismic grief as fingers
make brief caressing contact
with hot hewn Celtic stone.

Eventually she lays
a plaited corn doll at its base,
though nothing can atone
for a black soul,
for what befell upon this spot.
Wrong place, wrong time,
no rewind
or erase function available.

Thanks for reading, S ;-)

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Vestigia - Something to Get Your Teeth Into

19:04:00 Posted by lancashire dead good poets , , , , , , , , , , , , , 5 comments

“Some pains are physical and some pains are mental, but the one that’s both is dental.” Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

If you are an adult with four, perfectly formed and completely erupted wisdom teeth that have taken their rightful place without a twinge, you are very lucky. Or you have a big mouth. Not all of us can accommodate these vestigial teeth, still they come pressing and squeezing and causing pain with no sign of evolution stepping in.

Our ancestors had large jaws and extra molars to cope with their natural diet. Meat was sometimes raw and plants took lots of chewing. Upper and lower canines were more pointed and sharp.

Wisdom teeth, which, if all goes well to become our third molars, start to make their presence known from the late teens onwards. There was no room for mine.

The worst thing for a seventeen year old trainee dental nurse is to find herself on the receiving end of some oral surgery, take it from me. It’s one thing assisting a dentist and reassuring a patient, but when you’re the patient and you know exactly what’s going on, it’s a bit scary. And it is fair to say that even with self-knowledge and lots of faith in dental professionals, I can be anxious.

The pain started at work. It was mainly ear-ache then the jaw started hurting. My boss was on to it, having a look, taking xrays and making the kind of calming sounds that lets you know they are very happy in their work. A few days later and Sunday morning found me in safe hands, in the private dental surgery at his home address, with his wife making my dad a cup of tea. Dad had driven me there and was more apprehensive than me. I was making my best effort to be brave. Out came the wisdom tooth, no problem. About three weeks later, we were doing it again with the other side.

Our son has been blessed with a fabulous smile of straight, healthy, well-cared for teeth with no fillings. However, he has a ‘text book’ horizontal impacted lower-left wisdom tooth, the best – or worst, depending on your point of view – I’ve ever seen on an xray. He wants to keep it, at least for now.

Wisdom teeth, problems for lots of people and not needed anymore. Future generations, millennia ahead, might have got rid.

A poem from Manasi Saxena on the All Poetry website,

Dear Wisdom Tooth,

I am sorry for not having attended to you so far,
I did not realise you were needing more space to grow
and that you had things to say.

I thank you for troubling me now,
when I can understand that you mean well,
for the lesson you are offering me
that sometimes we need to let go of things
we cannot make room for
because they cause pain and anguish and
need to be returned to the universe lovingly.

Please forgive me for having neglected you so long
and for not being aware of your pain.

I love you, and now lovingly give you back to the universe.
May you find peace and space and freedom in your
return to the origins.

So it is, so it is, and it is done.


Thanks for reading, Pam x

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Epigram Sam

22:00:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , , , , 18 comments
'Poetry For Dummies' (bless it) defines an epigram as: "a very unified, sharply pointed poem, often quite short".

Apart from my taking exception to the extraneous 'very' and 'sharply' (something is either unified or it's not, pointed or it's not) plus the fact that 'pointed' doesn't really get at an epigram's inherent wit or humour, the definition is spot on! That said, there is often confusion as to what is an epigram as opposed to an epigraph or an epitaph or even a punchy joke (aka the smart-arse one-liner). Simply - an epitaph is an inscription on a grave or headstone, an epigraph is a short quote as a header to a longer work (poem, chapter, novel) and an epigram may double as a punchy joke (if the form is right) but not all punchy jokes are epigrams.

Examples may help. My favourite epitaph is the one Spike Milligan insisted should appear on his grave stone: "I told you I was ill." Best epigraph award goes to "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people" from the frontispiece of Adrian Mitchell's 1964 'Poems'. And my favourite punchy joke, that is like an epigram but not, comes from Ken Dodd: "In Paris, the tables and chairs are out on the streets. In Liverpool we call that eviction."

Many talented and witty literary giants have written epigrams. The form started out as a  brief poetic inscription about the dear departed on graves in Ancient Greece (not to be confused with an epitaph, LOL) and only came to acquire its humorous/satirical intent in the days of the Roman Empire.

Latterly, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde in particular have proved quite prodigious in their output of epigrams, but in my opinion, the daddy of them all was Mark Twain (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens) - hence my epithet for him - Epigram Sam (with an obvious nod to Marc Bolan for those of you familiar with T.Rex).

Epigram Sam
Twain is responsible for hundreds of pithy sayings, some more unified, pointed and shorter than others. I'll make it easy on myself this week by quoting a few for your interest and amusement.What is striking about many of them is their continuing currency, even though they are over a century old. What does that say about the ways of the world? Here goes:

"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell; I have friends in both places."

"The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet."

"Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason."

"Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat."

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

"Where prejudice exists it always discolours our thoughts."

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

"Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it."

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

"Always do right. That will gratify some of the people and astonish the rest."

I thought that knocking out a short poem in epigram form would be a doddle. It wasn't...

Between the pornography of type
And the typography of porn
The man made cult
Of the misandrist was born.

Which leads on to Dorothy Parker, so renowned for her quick wit that she was often challenged to compose an epigram on the spot, or at least to parody an existing one, using a word supplied by her audience as a prompt. My favourite was delivered (allegedly) on the occasion that someone challenged her powers with the word 'horticulture'. Taking barely a pause to think, she bounced back with the line "You can drag a whore to culture but you can't make her think".

I'll leave you with a parody (sadly not an epigram) that I fashioned out of one of Oscar Wilde's most famed quips:

"I have nothing to declare but my gnus" - Oscar Wildebeest

Thank you and goodnight. I hope you enjoy(ed) your extra hour in bed, S ;-)

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Worrying about Epigrams and Epigrams about Worrying

07:30:00 Posted by Jill Reidy Red Snapper Photography , , , , , 4 comments
I have to confess that when I opted to do a guest blog this week I got my epigrams and my epitaphs in a bit of a twist.  There I was, all ready to write about what I’d have on my gravestone, what my mum wants on hers and what we inscribed on my dad’s newly installed bench in the local park. Now, dear reader, sadly you will never know. It was only because I started thinking the word didn’t sound quite right to this old and muddled brain that I googled it.  Just in time.


I’ve always been a worrier. My dad was a worrier, my mum is a worrier, one brother is but the other not so much. All my children are worriers, to various degrees. I worry about them worrying, and they worry about me worrying.  Our lives are one big wheel of worry.  The thing is, our worries are all different, generally individual and pertinent only to the worrier.  One person’s worry can be someone else’s ‘no probs.’  How I would like to be one of those people, like my other half, who sails through life without a care in the world. To him, my worries are often ridiculous, "but, what if...." kind of worries.  Even I know I'm ahead of myself but I can't seem to help it.  I do wonder if it comes with having a vivid imagination.  Whenever anybody is late home, or I hear of an accident within ten miles of where they are, before I know it I've already planned their funeral music and bought myself a black coat.

I remember, many years ago when I was about twelve, confiding in my dad that I was worried about something. Now, dad was usually pretty good at listening and trying to solve anybody’s problems. He would always offer support, either in the form of a letter (I still have several of these, in a drawer next to my bed, from various problematic times of my life. It seems there were quite a few, but his advice was always practical, thoughtful and relevant) or financial (there were a few of those back ups too). On a couple of rare occasions (under my mum’s influence, I’m sure) the two of them actually turned up on my doorstep: once when I was seventeen and working the summer season in Devon I had sobbed down the phone that I was homesick. By the time they arrived in Seaton the following day I was absolutely fine, and if I remember rightly, was found lying on the beach in a bikini, eyeing up boys, giggling with my friend and eating ice cream; the second time it really was a problem - I was going through a very bad period of depression - and I welcomed them with open arms. 

Anyway, back to my twelve year old self. I don’t remember what the worry was but I do remember my dad dismissing it fairly rapidly, ‘That’s nothing,’ he told me, ‘that’s not a big worry.’  I remember feeling a bit hurt that my problem had been waved away so casually. I went up to my bedroom, still thinking about it.  I understood that the worry was irrelevant to my dad, but I knew it was huge to me.  I marched downstairs and confronted him. 

‘There are no big or small worries,' I blurted out, 'a worry is as big as you think it is.’ 

I’m not sure if this is an epigram but fifty five years have passed and I do try to be sympathetic to other people's worries, however small and insignificant they appear to be.  Of course, there's always an exception to the rule.  I'm afraid my other half gets short shrift for football, Emmerdale or Coronation Street worries.  After all, he, himself has been a worry to me for forty odd years.  He needs to realise that worry is a lot bigger than a lost match or a missed episode.  

Or is it?  I'll have to ask him.
I went looking for my worry dolls.  I must be bad - I have two sets.

Looking for an epigram poem to go with this post, I came across the following which I thought was quite appropriate.

Sir I admit your general rule
That every poet is a fool
But you, yourself, may serve to show it
That every fool is not a poet.

Samuel Coleridge

Thanks for reading, and happy worrying....... Jill Reidy

Saturday, 19 October 2019

On A Roll

Given a topic like On A Roll and knowing your Saturday Blogger as you do, you might almost place bets on me writing a piece this week about music (rock, roll and other four letter words) once I've got obligatory observations about cheese & pickle versus ham & mustard or tuna & cue out of the way. Well, you'd be wrong. I am defying expectations - though before I do, let me go on record as saying that cheese & salami is my topping of choice and that Emily Capell's spirited 'Combat Frock' is my album of the week (even though she's a QPR supporter).

I was reminiscing with my brothers last week-end about fond memories from our childhood days. I wonder how many of you ever played the piratical board game Buccaneer, one of Waddington's finest. I still have the set that we used as boys; something of a family heirloom, vintage if not technically antique, for it's a first edition, dating from when my father and uncle were teenagers in the 1930s. It's still in reasonable repair, though sadly it hasn't been used since my own daughters were introduced to it in the 1990s - board games are so last century!

original set of Waddington's Buccaneer
If you're not familiar with Buccaneer, two of its more intriguing aspects are that its large 'board' comes on a roll and is stored in a tube when not in play and unlike most board games, it contains no dice. Pirate ships move around the chequered board in straight or diagonal lines from home port to treasure island to bag loot (diamonds, rubies, gold bars, pearls, barrels of rum) and bring it back to port, but the number of squares a boat can move on each turn is determined by the value of crew cards, which can be won or lost as the game progresses. Naturally, if I could, I always played with the orange boat (sailing out of/into Marseilles dock) and would usually attempt to load it up with rubies, the richest of prizes.

a box of treasures
There was no finer feeling on a Saturday evening after a Chinese take-away than to be on a roll back to Marseilles with a boat full of treasure and a hand of crew cards strong enough to sail at a lick and ward off the inevitable marauders. For me, Buccaneer had the edge over other leading board games like Monopoly, Risk, Careers, Coppit and Totopoly. (We didn't have Cluedo then, as I recall.) Such innocent barbarity lives long in the memory - how else to explain that this is the third Saturday Blog in a row to touch on things piratical?  

It is most unlikely that buccaneers would have eaten rolls, even if they'd baked bread with their bug-infested flour. However, I'm sure that if they had done, octopus, parrot and wild pig would have featured large on the topping list.

Of course, despite there being so many different preferences for what to put on a roll, the one constant is butter (or its vegetable equivalent), always the first thing to be spread. Consequently, I thought I'd do a spot of research into a brief history of the fatty matter and this, in essence, is what I found:

The origin of the word butter, like so much else (as I impress upon you regularly), is Greek. Bouturon (βούτυρον
means literally ox cheese. Not that the Greeks used butter, for they had olive oil in abundance, thank you very much, but they were aware of its existence and usage among the hordes of northern Europe. In fact they regarded butter as one of the barbarians' more cultured achievements.

Butter is made by churning or agitating milk (originally of goat or sheep, commonly now of cow) until the solids in the emulsion, the curds, begin to separate from the liquid whey. The solids, mostly butterfat, are then pressed with wooden paddles (known as Scotch Hands) until most of the liquid has been squeezed out leaving a pale greasy substance that is approximately 80% butterfat and 20% water and which keeps for several weeks at room temperature (longer if cooled) before going rancid.

What I also learned to my surprise is that butter was originally mainly used by the lower classes, the peasantry - in much the same way I suppose as very poor families used to eat bread and dripping because they couldn't afford to eat anything more substantial like meat or fish with their bread. However, in the last few centuries butter has become truly classless and tons of the stuff get spread on rolls around the world every day.

I could think of nothing more unlikely to write a poem about than butter, but since I'm on a roll, here goes. I did write one about cheese some years ago, though it didn't make the grade and so has never seen the light of day. Actually, this slightly salacious product of the imaginarium is more of men and milkmaids than butter itself. It even begins with what could be the parodic punch line to a feghoot, or a nod ahead to next week's theme of epigram!

a milkmaid and her cow
Butter Cup
The hand that rocks the curdle lures the wold.
This subtle drawing power of dairy maids
exerts its hold on men of every age,
and each degree, from boldest squire to lowly lad.

Is it the image of sweet purity
conjured up by girls in muslin whites
who rise like ghosts, obedient with the dawn,
to cheerfully perform the daily milking rite

in parlour, barn and field, then later churn
the morning's yield, while dreaming of a beau
who'll make them ladies yet and liberate them
from this life of pressing palest dairy into pats?

Of course the squires possess no such intent
and farm hands lack the means to follow up,
though each will harbour fond seductive thoughts
of one illicit drink from out the butter cup.

Thanks for reading. Don't spread yourselves too thin, S :-)

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

On A Roll - Minor Misfortune

17:54:00 Posted by lancashire dead good poets , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 comments

We’ve been on a roll of minor misfortune.  I think it started with the car breaking down. Luckily for me, I was at home getting regular updates on how quickly Green Flag can attend so I delayed cooking tea and sat down with a brew to watch the news. Modern day cars are like another world under the bonnet. A sealed world.

My father taught me basic car maintenance, oil, water, tyre pressure and wind-screen washer topping up. Over time, and with a succession of multi-owned vehicles, I learnt the benefits of a liberal spraying of WD40, or similar; how to check points, clean spark plugs and how a distributor fits together – oh my first Vauxhall Viva – it will be a metal cube somewhere now. Or perhaps a washing machine.

We were dealing with the sealed under-bonnet of an automatic Citroen Berlingo. The engine won’t start when there are warning lights on. The warning light stays on until the problem is rectified. The problem can’t be detected until the person with the diagnostic box of tricks plugs in and links to some software. The I.T. skills of the modern mechanic know no bounds. Whatever would my dad think? I bet they still suck air through their teeth while calculating the cost. Just kidding, that was my dad’s sense of humour. Green Flag and both repair garages were very good. We discovered that the gear-box is not automatic, it’s semi-automatic. That snippet of knowledge didn’t help the situation, but it meant relocation to a Citroen specialist.  It’s mended now, wheels roll. £££.

The stair carpet was coming loose on a couple of treads. At last, we got the fitter in to fix it. Straight forward easy job, even easier if there was a small, spare piece. Of course, there’s loads rolled up in the shed. Well, there was until someone sorted stuff out and went to the tip. Thank goodness, a couple of decent sized pieces were within reach, for someone with long arms, without the carpet fitter and myself  having to empty our shed. Funny how I’m often on my own at times like this.

We didn’t discover what set the smoke alarms off. Nothing was burning, no cooking going on, no steam from the shower. It was raining, very heavily, though I can’t imagine it was that. Our smoke alarms are connected to the mains, one goes off, they all go off. Impossible to think straight in that noise, I just wanted it to stop, right now. My husband discovered which one of the three was the culprit and disconnected it. A replacement was needed, something he could do himself and no great expense, just another ‘thing’ going wrong and we still don’t know what triggered it. Whilst checking, I went up to the attic room. It is a loft conversion and used to be a bedroom, but is an attic again since the children moved out and left stuff for storage. There was a small puddle on one of the stair treads, about three steps up. It has become a mystery. Everything up there was bone dry, no sign of the rain breaching the Velux windows or the ceiling and there is nothing to spill. Very odd. Also, the door had been locked for days. Spooky!

What I wanted to do before we ended up on a roll with all these little incidents, was to tidy the garden, get rid of our ‘complimentary’ buddleia, thanks birds, and plant some daffodils bulbs. Maybe tomorrow?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw an advert for a ‘Garden on a Roll’. That would do nicely.
Here's something from G.K.Chesterton,
The Rolling English Road
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.
G.K.Chesterton    (1874 – 1936)
I'm hoping for no more mishaps for a while. Thanks for reading, Pam x

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Painting Up A Storm

I have quite a few art works up around the walls of the house on the strand: psychedelic San Francisco concert posters from the 1960s, Soviet Russian screen-prints, contemporary lithographs, Blackpool FC memorabilia and some framed LP sleeves among them. I also have a few original paintings by relatively modern British artists and the watercolour reproduced below is probably my favourite. It hangs in my bedroom and is a stormy seaside view of Nairn in Scotland (home of the healthy, humble oatcake).

It's quite typical of the work of Donald Bosher (1912-1977); his paintings turn up occasionally on online auction pages, mostly rural depictions or seascapes. I don't know a lot about the artist and the internet is remarkably under-informed about him, but from memory he taught at Leicester College of Art in the post-World War II years and he used to spend his summers painting watercolours to supplement his income in his preferred haunts of Norfolk and Scotland. Unfortunately this photograph, taken with my iPhone, doesn't do the colour and depth of the painting justice, but you get the idea...

Watercolour is particularly effective at painting up a storm, in my opinion, and appropriately so. Look at the effect Bosher has achieved here with his aqueous washes in the sky. Oil or gouache would never have rendered the elements so perfectly wetly.

The 'boys', that is to say my brothers (both in their sixties), are in town for the week-end to visit, catch up, see the illuminations and other delights of my adopted Blackpool home. They encountered torrential rain on the way up north and will almost certainly experience the same on the homeward journey, but today promises to be fine on the Fylde coast, despite the blog theme!

All things considered though, I thought this would be the fitting week for a poem inspired by the dependable deluge that is a regular feature of our weather-patterns on the Fylde coast as they roll off the Atlantic and Irish Sea. When it's hot and sunny (which it is much of the time in spring and summer) Blackpool is brilliant, the best seaside resort in the land. However, even when it's wet and/or stormy I have to say it's equally scintillating up in the glistening jewel of the north. I find that there is something exhilarating and strangely romantic about northern rain.

Northern Rain
Call me Wetbeard!
Sturdy falling northern rain
may beat a tattoo on my skull
and cross bones,
needle sharp and icy cold
to the point of numbing
soaking limbs and pirate brain -

yet how to explain that,
despite the toll in sodden clothes
and squelching boots
(for once you're wet, you're wet),
there's something in the soul
responds to terraced streets
of glistering grey-slate roofs
asheet with torrents, bubbling gutters
struggling to channel all this deluge,
oily rivulets amok among the cobbles
and that roiling yellow sky
so full of thunderment
it sets my timbers shivering.

Eventually there will be
a pot of scalding coffee
with perhaps a tot of rum,
but now I am both barque and bo'sun,
ballast, mast and mainsail
driving hard a homeward route
upon the mighty Blackpool main
and loving it for the insane fun
of swashbuckling through
the elements of yet another
most unordinary day.

After all that furious wet, I'll finish with a funny factlet about one of the driest places on the planet:
"A year's worth of rain fell on Aoulef, Algeria in just a single day last week - same as it does pretty much every year!" (Well, it made me smile...about half an inch.)

Stay storm-proof, and thanks for reading, S ;-)

Wednesday, 9 October 2019


Steve invited me to write a guest blog and it's a new challenge for me, but I'm trying to develop my poetry and take it to another level, so I've accepted. This theme of storm appealed to me.

Metaphorical Storm Illustration
I don't have a lot to say beyond the poem, which I hope will speak for itself. I'd love to know what you think of it.

Something blew out of your eyes,
And did its turn.
I caught the drift of its tale,
Surprised myself at my approval,
Opened everything,
Allowed the victory
And in you came.

I have my terror still;
But you are generous in my defeat.
I cower in my personality
Which you are stripping slowly
To far away.
I watch the storm
Of lovedust engulf us both.

I look in glimpses to a new future.
Something, something forming and right.
And yet
My will, my will...
An arm contracts...
The fight is changing.
I resist;
Clutch at mind pieces.

There are no promises
About the promise you gave.
'It will be alright' echoes dangerously in the dark.
I try to walk
But can't find my feet.
What state am I in?
It's in between
What I was; between the God I will become.
The final storm.

I am without help.
There are people an ghosts in the wrong order
And in the wrong places.
But I'm still here.
Immortality is difficult.
I didn't expect this; but I know it.
My memory returns to millions of years before.
Each grain of recall
Strips me of something.
Where am I? What will happen?

And then sunlight. A bit of certainty.
The touch of true love
Replaces everything.
Every thought is gone.
The cure of sadness and boredom.
I wanted this.
Needed something.
Thought it would be a party
Not a storm.

But I'm glad.
Worth the long tunnel of fear.
A strange walk to peace.
Outlived the storm.

Laura Colville