Saturday, 1 August 2020

Spring Fair









Dear Reader,

One of my young daughters, back from India, came to a country fair with me.  The fair was in Herefordshire, by the river Wye and we were to have stayed in a B&B in the local town.  But having wandered about the fair for an hour or two, the daughter probably thought it would be more fun without her mother on her arm, and left me.  I spent the night, worrying in the B&B, and the daughter came back at breakfast.  When questioned of her whereabouts the night before she said she had slept by the river
till dawn broke.  Ah well...we were all young once.
                                                                                    *

I have been reading about the start of WW II, and the Duke of Windsor's abdication, so that he could marry a twice divorced American woman called Wallis Simpson.  It is a true story of passion, and all that goes with it, especially if you were born to be a king, and decided you didn't want the role.  They married and were exiled to France.  They were very spoilt and snobbish and I would think thoroughly unpleasant.  They went to stay with some friends outside Paris who already had gardeners, gamekeepers, twenty-four indoor servants and a butler but that wasn't enough for Wallis.  She wanted a pastry cook, sous-chef and a scullery boy, a second butler and footman, four maids and two charwomen, five laundrywomen, more gardeners and extra chauffeur, a telephonist, a number of golf-course workers and a gatekeeper.

I find it difficult to imagine their lives.  I used to have a cleaner who came in once a fortnight to hoover mainly but sadly I had to ask her not to return whilst lockdown was in force.   And so now Francis and I do everything in the house and in the garden.  And we are perfectly happy, laugh a lot and enjoy ourselves.

I wonder if they were happy with their lives, but I imagine not.
Wallis is purported to have said:  'You can never be too thin or too rich.'   What a ghastly woman.

                                                                                  *
Spring Fair

The young girl
and her mother, holding hands,
hurry down the hill
where the bright lights beckon,
see the big dippers hurtling,
painted horses swirling, yellow
swing boats diving, swooping,
smell the grease and diesel
hear the loud beat of music,
the children's screams.

Young men of the fair
long-haired, dark, a little wild,
eye the girls with bright,
knowing looks.
The air if full of restlessness, of quickening,
an urgency to act,
before the end of the night,
when morning light will move them on.

Dusk falls, the young girl drops her mother's hand,
stirred by the primal desire of early spring.
Running silently she disappears into the night, eager,
to share what ancient fires of life can bring.

                                                                                 *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Rooks






Dear Reader,



I have always been aware and interested in rooks (see poem) and have found a little bit about them to share with you.  The rook is a member of the crow family in the passerine order of birds. Its range can be found extending from Scandinavia and western Europe to eastern Siberia. 

Rooks form flocks in winter, often in the company of other Corvus species or jackdaws.  They are generally regarded as bad luck and a large group of rooks arriving in an area is said to be unlucky.  If rooks desert a rookery then a calamity could occur.  They gather together at night to roost in a spot where they have good visibility and reasonable shelter.

Rooks are intelligent birds as in lab-based studies have tested their ability to solve problems and use tools. The rook is a member of the Corvid or crow family which is famed for its intelligence.

                                                                         *

Francis and I really had an adventure this week.  We sat outside a small restaurant in the sunshine and had a delicious lunch and a cool drink of white wine. It was such a treat since we had been nowhere, outside our house, for nearly five months.   I had nearly forgotten what fun it is to eat out and, more particularly,
not have to do the washing up. I hope there will be more outings to come before the second wave engulfs us.
                                                                           *

Rooks

I was fourteen
when I first heard
the call of the rooks
caw-cawing
their eerie cries.

From a Cornish cottage garden
I walked down through
dark woods to the beach,
a remote place,
just dunes, sand, the sea
and me, a confused, angry teenager,
with the rooks caw-cawing in my ears
disturbing my thoughts.

Even now, in later years,
whenever I hear whispers from the wind,
or sea lapping over large grey stones
ever forward, ever backward,
glimpse a faraway horizon
and see twilight descending
darkening the sky,
the rooks in large black groups
flying high towards
their evening bed,
cawing, cawing, cawing,
my heart misses a beat
and an unexplained sadness
overcomes me.

                                                                           *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Kitchen Clean





Dear Reader,


I was able to go to the hairdresser's last week after not going for five months. I was thrilled to be going because I had been able to plait my hair for the last few weeks and had begun to look like Worzel Gummidge.  But what was interesting about the whole adventure of going out again after so long was my worry about driving, and the difficulties I had putting on the mask. Where the driving is concerned I had lost lots of confidence and drove along very slowly, probably annoying other drivers and frightening myself. 

Now for the mask.  I wear hearing aides and glasses so have to put the elastic on the mask over hearing aid and the arms of the glasses.  So to say that this is uncomfortable would be a understatement, but worse, when I took the mask off the hearing aides one got entangled and fell to the floor. Luckily I saw it happen but if I hadn't noticed that would have been £600 to buy a new one.  And of course masks steam up the spectacles and are very hot to wear.  I count myself lucky that I don't have to go out very often because I think masks and me are not good companions.

And with the continued re-assessment of when and where to wear them I am in a complete muddle about the rules.  Are you dear Reader, in a muddle too?

                                                                                 *

July 16th, 1666 in Essex from Samuel Pepys's diary.


'A wonderful dark sky and shower of rain this morning.  At Harwich a shower of hail as big as walnuts'.

July 16th, 1873 in Wiltshire from Francis Kilvert.

'As I walked along the field path I stopped to listen to the rustle and solemn night whisper of the wheat, so different to its voice in the day'.

                                                                                *

Kitchen Clean

He made a chicken supper
vegetable and pudding,
lots of dirty saucepans
and bowls strewn around
the kitchen.
Lovely food and terrible mess.
Left it.

Three a.m. couldn't sleep
pattered down to the kitchen
and there it was
an immaculate picture of
cleanliness and tidiness
he had worked on
when I had gone to bed.

My heart filled with love.


                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 12 July 2020

Silent, Their Men Stand by

Dear Reader


My poem this week 'Silent, their men stand by" I thought of when I was staying in Marrakesh  one autumn.  My husband and I were staying in small chalet in the garden of a lovely hotel in the mountains
not far from the desert and the Berber tribesmen.  We had a local girl to clean the room and I became very friendly with her.  But she didn't speak a word of English and I didn't know a word in her language.

But somehow we managed to communicate, laughed together and shed a tear when we left.  And Geoffrey
was astounded.  "What on earth did you say to her, he asked me.  You don't speak her language".  But of course I do in a way.  It is the smile, the shrug, the laughter, the tears.  These are universal gestures of being human and easy to  interpret. She was just another woman, with all the hopes and fears all women have and I understood her perfectly.

                                                                          *

Silent, Their Men Stand By

as universal woman talks
with women
who are not friends,
or neighbours,
or women they know or love,
just women.

Their bonding thread
is laughter, touch, glance, cry,
instant understanding.

While silent, mystified, their men stand by.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Resolution

Dear Reader,

I have decided not to put any more photographs on to Face Book from this week onwards. I think I never really understood what Face Book was for, but it has slowly dawned on me that it isn't for people who want to read my blog or indeed my poetry.  It is a sociable medium, where you can read about your friends, see amusing photographs of them, or write about anything that has struck you of interest in the week.

Sometimes if I see something of interest I will put it up but, in the meantime, I will just continue to write this blog and publish one of my poems each week.  I hope you will still enjoy the page which you can get by putting : acotswoldpoet.blogspot.com     onto google and it will come up.  I hope.   I am not very computer literate but I think that will work.

                                                                                   *

July 5th, from Dorothy Wordsworth, 1802 in Westmorland

'A very sweet morning.  William stayed some time in the orchard....It came on to rain, and we could not go to Dove Nest as we had intended....The roses in the garden are fretted and battered and quite spoiled, the honey suckle, though in its glory, is sadly teazed.   The peas are beaten down.  The scarlet beans want sticking.  The garden is overrun with  weeds.'


                                                                                  *

Resolution

I need to breathe salt sea air,
run down to the shell-strewn beach,
let the sharp east wind blow through my hair,
run for the horizon away out of reach.

I need the sound of the seagull's cry,
the music of waves rolling on sand
to help with questions of whether and why
I should change my direction, and stand

up for what I believe in.
I need the strength I know I will find
on that quiet sunfilled beach,
to be resolute, make up my mind.

Enveloped in peace, silence and sea
I will whisper to the listening wind,
"I have made the decision, watch over me,
I"m taking the path I've determined".


                                                                              *

Very best wishes, Patricia




Sunday, 28 June 2020

Viking Footsteps





                                                             Viking Fire Festival, Flamborough Head




Dear Reader

I think it is a mistake for me to read about  loved authors personal life, it seems to spoil the books that I have so enjoyed.  Over the years I have read most of Charles Dickens's novels and loved them, but knew next to nothing about his life.  Now I have just finished a book about him and feel very disillusioned.  He married Catherine Hogarth, a pretty blue eyed girl of nineteen when he was twenty three.  Subsequently they had ten children in sixteen years, none of whom Charles seemed to care for very much, and then he decided that he and Catherine had never had anything in common. And he said she was fat.  He separated from her and had a love affair with his mistress, Ellen Ternan, an actress. 

I was in love with Thomas Hardy all through my teenage years.  I read all his books many times over and I absolutely loved his poetry.  But when I read about his life I was severely disappointed in him as a person,
and it slightly coloured my view of his work.

                                                                                           *

From James Woodforde, June 19th, 1799 in Norfolk

'Very cold indeed again today, so cold that Mrs Custance came walking in her spencer with a bosom -friend.'

Mrs. Custance, as a lady of fashion, would have worn her gowns low cut, in the bosomy manner so often drawn by Rowlandson: in cold weather she would have needed the fashionable item of clothing known as the 'bosom-friend'.


                                                                                           *

Viking Footsteps

There it is: a windswept empty beach,
great fields of white sand dressed
in driftwood, seaweed, plastic bottles,
flotsam, pebbles, shells, stones, and kelp skeins.
It stretches away to the horizon.

Seagulls, gannets, terns, twist and fly,
make their repetitive cries, peck the ground.
Small pools of seawater form
as the tide goes out, sea creatures swimming
there.

But is that a long boat, red sails fluttering, I see?
And are those uncovered Viking footsteps in the sand?
And do I smell spitted meat, mead and honey
drifting past me on the sea-scented air?

The sand dunes hug their silent secrets,
letting the quiet southerly wind
rustle through marram grasses.
I ask them, do Viking voices whisper
on that wind,
sometimes, on an icy night under a starlit sky?

                                                                                             *


With very best wishes, Patricia

Photograph of Viking Fire festival by Kaye Leggett

Sunday, 21 June 2020

For You, Everyman

                                                                                   
                                                                    







Dear Reader,

A delightful piece today from Francis Kilvert's diary.  It also makes a change from the world news which is so depressing.   Whilst we were in lockdown people seemed to appreciate the silence and the empty spaces, started really hearing the birds song, and enjoyed crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.  But no more. People are on the move again, and angry.  Angry about everything including our history which they would like to obliterate, or change.  I have no idea whether they are right, or partially right, but it is the violence that goes with all these protest marches that upsets me. Surely there is a more peaceful way to negotiate.

Sunday, 15th June, from Francis Kilvert's diary 1872.

'A beautiful peaceful summer morn such as Robert Burns would have loved.  Perfect peace and rest.  The sun and the golden buttercup meadows had it almost all to themselves.  A few soft fleecy clouds were rising out to the west but the gentle warm air scarcely stirred even the leaves on the lofty tops of the great poplars.   One or two people were crossing the Common early by several paths through the sea of golden buttercups which will soon be the silver sea of ox-eyes.  The birds were singing quietly.  The cuckoo's notes tolled clear and sweet as a silver bell and a dove was pleading in the elm and 'making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered'.


                                                                              *

For You,  Everyman

My smile is for you.
Yes, you, the man on the omnibus,
You, the woman in the crowd,
You, the small child playing in the dust,
You, the homeless, the tramp unbowed,
You, in business suit, in kaftan,
You, the tall, you, the short.

Yes. You, Everyman.

The exchanged smile
acknowledges shared humanity
in this fleeting recognition.
No words are needed.

                                                                                 *

With best wishes, Patricia.