Sunday, 4 April 2021

Chapel






Dear Reader, 


Happy Easter to you all and may the rest of your year be full of hope and joy, with restrictions lifted and a return to a sort of normality.

As a Christian with many doubts, I always feel emotional about Good Friday and the Saturday before Christ rises from the tomb, in a divine state. And then when I wake up on Easter Sunday my first thought is that Christ has risen.  This is a great relief to me and I can enjoy all the festivities that Easter Day can bring.

 Somebody said that believing the impossible is the Christian story.  But now in my old age I believe it more than ever, I know that Christ has been in my life on many occasions.  Not least just before I had a serious operation for lung cancer, He was there with me and I felt at peace.

                                                                                *

From Gilbert White, 1793, in Hampshire
April 5th

'The air smells very sweet, and salubrious.  Men dig their hop-gardens and sow Spring corn.....Dug some of the quarters in the garden, and sowed onions, parsnips, radishes and lettuces.  Planted more beans in the meadow.  Many flies are out basking in the sun'.

From Dorothy Wordsworth, 1798, in Somerset
April 9th

'Walked to Stowey, a fine air in going, but very hot in returning.  The sloe in blossom, the hawthorns green, the larches in the park changed from black to green in two or three days'.

                                                                                  *

Chapel

Away with the cherubs
the angels, the painted ceilings
the high arches
the high ceilings
nudes male and female
the artefacts
the gold crosses
and ornate statues of the
Virgin Mary.

Give me a chapel with
whitewashed bricks
wooden pews
oak door with studs
daisies on the altar
in a china jug
a bust of St.Columba
and quiet peace
in God's house.

                                                                              *

With very best wishes, Patricia



 




Sunday, 28 March 2021

Throwing away

 Dear Reader,



                                                                 Love letters and postcards

 

 The poem I am introducing today is about throwing things away and it seems to have been one of the most popular poems I have ever written!  For myself throwing things away causes much heartbreak but, as you get older it is essential.   I am 81 and so don't have years to count on and feel that I must leave everything in order for my daughters to deal with.  But it is so hard.  I do have dance tickets from the 1950s and can remember the excitement I had dressing for the occasion.  I have hand-written novels I wrote which nobody published and lots of letters from friends of both sexes.  And various ornaments and pieces of jewellery, not of any monetary value but precious to me.  But these things don't mean anything to my family, they are memories I hold in my heart, solely mine.

So I have filled plenty of black bags, and run down to the bins to throw them in the day before the dustbin is due to be taken away.  It is the right thing to do I am sure, but nevertheless I feel a sadness which doesn't go away.

                                                                                 *

From Gilbert White, 1771, in Hampshire. March 30th

'The face of the earth naked to a surprising degree.  Wheat hardly to be seen, and no signs of any grass: turneps all gone, and sheep in a starving way.  All provisions rising in price.  Farmers cannot sow for want of rain.'

'Nuthatch brings out and cracks her nuts, and strews the garden walks with shells.  They fix them in a fork of a tree where two boughs meet - on the Orleans plum tree.'

                                                                               *


Throwing Away

the letters,
those billets doux
the photographs,
the dance programmes,
the theatre tickets,
the postcards,
is a formidable task,
and weeping is not forbidden,

Before discarding
those once precious things
the proof of special moments
lived in earlier times,
memorise them all with care.
And afterwards, relive
this solitary, remembered road,
and weeping is not forbidden.

                                                                                       *


With very best wishes, Patricia









Sunday, 21 March 2021

Widow

 




                                                                                The Cuckoo Flower

 

Dear Reader,

 

This is the most delicate plant of damp meadows but can also be seen in gardens or sometimes growing through pavement stones.  The cuckoo plant has fine, pale pink flowers with four petals and it can also be known as "lady's smock". Its common name 'cuckoo flower' derives from the formation of the plant's flowers which come up around the same time as the arrival each spring of the first cuckoos in the British Isles.

It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife.  It was once used as a substitute for watercress.  In folklore it was said to be sacred to fairies and so was unlucky if it was brought indoors.

From William Shakespeare, 1598 (Love's Labour's Lost)

 'When daisies pied and violets blue
  And lady-smocks all silver white
  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
  Do paint the meadows with delight'.

                                                                                  *

 

I am so glad spring has at last arrived.  The spring equinox is one of the days that mark the turning of the year and we can all look forward now to some sunshine and warmer weather.  We went for a walk yesterday and the birds were fulsome in their song, and small shoots of new life seemed to be everywhere.


                                                                                   *

Widow

 

no one to talk to

no one to hug 

no one to walk with

no one to laugh, cry or sing with

 

no one to come home to

no one to ask how you are

no one to go up to bed with

no one to wake when

overwhelmed with a nightmare

 

no one to cook for

no one to fill that empty

gap in your heart 


and you weep alone


                                                                         *


With very best wishes, Patricia

 

 

 

 

 



Sunday, 14 March 2021

Two Faces







 Dear Reader,


I am 81 today and will possibly, probably eat much too much and be a bit sorry tomorrow when I look on the scales.  But I have been reading Lucy Worsley's book, 'Courtiers' on Georgian history and here is a quote about what was eaten at a summer dinner in 1735. "beef, chicken and mushrooms, mutton hashed in a loaf, veal and sweetbreads fried, pullets and cream, a haunch of venison, cold chicken and pickles, peas and cucumber, a lobster, gooseberry and apricot tart, and smoked salmon and prawns.'

I remember feeling astonished when I read about Henry V111's breakfast.  He might have eaten game, roasted or served in pies, lamb, venison and swan.  He also ate a whole chicken, washed down with beer.  He ate up to thirteen dishes every day and would consume about 5000 calories.  No wonder he looked so large and gross. Mind you he had been hunting since dawn so perhaps he was very hungry and needed a huge repast.

                                                                                 *


Gilbert White, 1793 in Hampshire, From March 14th

'Papilio rhamni, the brimstone butterfly, appears in the Holt.  Trouts rise, and catch at insects.  A dob-chick comes down the Wey in sight of the windows, some times diving, and some times running on the banks.  Timothy the tortoise comes forth and weighs 6lbs.5oz.'

From John Ruskin, 1867 in Surrey, March 19th

'Desperately cold, with huge-flaked snow. The worst of January, November and March all in one.'


                                                                                  *


Two Faces

The wicked wolf tripped
lightly onto the stage,
his ears pricked, his eyes atwinkle.
He wore  yellow waistcoat,
smart tweed breeches,
and to cheerful music, he dances
delightfully, tapping his toes
then, smoothing his whiskers
he sang in a haunting voice
a familiar love song.
And the audience loved him.

He appeared suddenly from no where
twirling his handsome brush,
with a pretty girl on his arm.
Grinning widely he made witty jokes,
energy oozed from every pore,
this wolf was Mr.Alive.
And the audience love him.

On the bus home she sat opposite a man
wearing  shabby raincoat, eyes downcast,
head bent, almost invisible,
almost without the breath of life.
But she recognised him, knew his secret.
Knew he was the wicked wolf
that the audience loved.


                                                                                 *

With best wishes, Patricia




Sunday, 7 March 2021

Bus Stop Princess






                                                                                      Pinocchio

 

Dear Reader,

Although this story is about my granddaughter, Emma, I think it will gladen your hearts when you read it.

Emma worked very hard learning graphic design at two universities, gaining a distinction at one and a first class degree at the other. However with the pandemic restrictions she had to live at home for her final year with Zoom. When she knew her grades she tried very hard to get a job using graphic design which was her subject and skill.  But to no avail.

Nothing daunted Emma applied for a job as a cleaner and occasional cook.  One day her employer, Alexia, who works in films, started talking to her, and she offered to send Emma's CV to her friend Charlotte who works in costume for a film company.

Charlotte and Emma talked on the phone and was put in touch with some possible people for a job.  On Wednesday this week one of those contacts emailed her and asked if she could start work on Monday. She is to report at Pinewood studios at 8 o'clock.  From a cleaning job to working on the set of Pinocchio is such a wonderful break for Emma.  And no nepotism.  Her family, Francis and I are very proud of her.

 

                                                                                  *


From Gilbert White, 1783, in Hampshire

'The crocuses make a gaudy appearance. and bees gather on them.  The air is soft.  Violet blow.  Snow lies under hedges.  Men plow'.

From D.H.Lawrence, 1916, Cornwall

'It is still cold.  Snow falls sometimes, then vanishes at once.  When the sun shines, some gorse bushes smell hot and sweet'.


Bus Stop Princess

She waited, unnoticed, invisible.
Her fluffy green jersey egg-stained,
uninteresting trousers and sensible shoes
inviting no attention.
She was a brown paper parcel.
loosely string-tied.

But she smiled at me
with such sweetness,
such a smile of goodness,
I saw her sensible shoes
become sparkling slippers,
her shabby clothes
turn into a ball dress
fashioned from sunlight
stitched up with love.

Not then a story-book princess,
but a real princess
glimpsed at a bus stop.


                                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Bridal Red






                                                                                          Maasai Women
 

                       

Dear Reader,

This poem 'Bridal Red' is one I often think about because I was so moved by the story it told. 

I had watched a documentary about a young girl from the Maasai tribe in Kenya.  I have never forgotten it and still think about this girl sometimes, even now.  She lived in a village, keeping watch over the cattle, playing in the river, loving and being loved by her mother, father and many brothers and sisters. But then, when she was about fourteen, men from a neighbouring tribal village, about eighteen miles from her own, came looking for a bride and, after hard bargaining, she was sold.  The girl was devastated and cried racking tears.  But she was covered in red sand, decorated in elaborate beads, and was made to walk over the mountains to join the man she was to marry.  The documentary did not show her in the village, but informed us at the end that she had died after being there only six weeks.  It did not tell us what the young girl died of, but I suspect of a broken heart.

The poem is one I wrote later, in great sorrow.

                                                                                  *

Bridal Red


I saw
a young girl smiling,
laughing, threading beads, minding goats,
chasing chickens, pulling feathers from their tails,
holding hands with sisters, friends,
chattering, gossiping, rough and tumbling
in bright sunlight.

I saw
scrub-plains, white rocks and blue,
blue mountains, straw huts,
men on haunches, chewing,
and thin dogs, fat babies,
loving families, happiness.

I saw
men, suddenly, appear from a distant village,
offering cows and sheep as an exchange
for a shepherd in need of a woman, a wife.
The girl was chosen,
a bargain was struck.

I saw
her stand silently, acquiescent,
red ochre paste and mud
plastered on her shaven head
necklaces of golden wire
wound tightly round her neck,
ankle bracelets in profusion.

I saw
her sisters, her friends, not laughing now,
offering presents,
a carved stick, a beaded purse.
At dawn she would leave as the sun rose,
to walk over the mountain pass
to an unknown bridegroom,
an unknown life.

I saw
as she left
her grief, her tears trickling,
then flooding through the paste and mud.
I saw her sorrow as the colour red
and a crown of thorns her maidenhead.


                                                                     *

Very best wishes, Patricia





Sunday, 21 February 2021

England dear to me






 Dear Reader,

Awake last night I started to think about Prince Harry and how he must be feeling now he has his identity, his medals and all that represents, taken away from him.  And he lives in California and, it is said, will very rarely come back to England.  And I bet he will be homesick for us, left here in these damp islands of Great Britain.

I mean, what is it that pulls at our heart strings when we are away abroad for any length of time?    After all, some of our habits are distinctly strange.  For example we like to go to the beach when it is raining, and have our picnics. We like eating, when settled into a damp sandy spot, cucumber sandwiches and Penguin biscuits and a cup of tea from a thermos.  And then thoroughly wet, we like to walk in our wellingtons  along the sea shore, gathering shells to take home and put in the bathroom.

If we were on a French beach or Spanish beach in the sunshine we would be munching on baguette with local cheese, washed down with a bottle of cool white wine. A bit different.

And we like visiting tea rooms.  Having a good chat with a friend with a slice of drizzle cake and a cup of tea. And we like going for walks in muddy fields in the middle of nowhere. And we don't catch birds to put them in cages, we feed them in our gardens and grow attached to them. And we like brass bands and rousing anthems to bring a tear to our cheek, which makes us feel proud to be British.

You can probably think of lots of things that mark us out as English. But there are a few.  Harry is English, traditionally so, and I am sure on quiet reflection he misses his homeland and his English friends and family. 

We miss him too.


                                                                                *

England Dear to Me

It is the robins, blackbirds, blue tits,
hopping and grubbing in the garden
that lurch my heart
make Eng;and dear to me.
It is the velvet of green moss,
oak trees, old with history,
the first cowslips,
hedgerows filled with dog rose, foxglove,
and shy sweet-peas in china bowls.
It is finding tea rooms in small market towns,
enticing with homemade scones and strawberry jam,
or suddenly glimpsing church spires
inching their way to heaven.
It is finding a Norman church,
full with a thousand years of prayer,
and a quiet churchyard mothering its dead.
It is small country lanes, high hedged,
views of mauve hills stretching skywards,
sheep and lambs dotting the green,
and bleached Norfolk beaches,
silence only broken with a seagull's cry.
It is the people,
their sense of humour,
their way of saying "sorry" when you bump into them,
their fairness, and once or twice a year
their "letting go",
singing "Jerusalem" with tears and passion.

It is these things
that lurch my heart
make England dear to me.

                                                                                     *


With very best wishes, Patricia