Sunday, 23 February 2020

Gentleman of the Road








Dear Reader,

I had a very old friend to lunch this week which was a delight.  We caught up on family news and laughed a great deal.  She always looked pretty and still does and I hope to see much more of her as my own years are diminishing; I am going to be eighty in March.  I can't really believe it.  I try to look back on my life but find it difficult.  I would rather look forward to tomorrow and enjoy today as best I can.  Francis and I exercise every day (not for long!) and walk in the fields behind the house, we try to eat fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish but sometimes treat ourselves to something special.

I have put images of willow trees on the blog this week and if you read the poem you will know why.
This poem is a true story and took place when I was working as a volunteer at the Porch, a cafe for the homeless in Oxford.

*

February 24th, 1798, Dorothy Wordsworth, Somerset

'......The sea, like a basin full to the margin; the dark fresh-ploughed field; the turnips a lively rough green.'

February 24th, 1916, D.H. Lawrence, Cornwall

'Just at present it is very cold.   It has been blowing here also, and a bit of snow.  Till now the weather has been so mild.  Primroses and violets are out, and the gorse is lovely.  At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself, already.  But this cold wind is deadly.'


*

Gentleman of the Road

The old man shuffled into the cafe
head bent, shoulders hunched
with a weather-beaten face
and straggly beard
he looked sad and lonely.

In a deep voice he said
he would like a sandwich.
I made him one, and
sat down beside him.

"I am a gentleman of the road,' he told me,
'been on it for fifty years or more.
I have walked the byways of England,
watched the sun come up
watched the sun go down.'

He told me his life story.
Often being cold and hungry,
frightened when sleeping
on a city street,

how he felt old and
out of sync with the times
how he hoped to die
in the countryside, under a willow tree.

When he left I hugged him
and tears came into his eyes,
'I haven't been touched by another
human being for over thirty years,' he said.

And tears came into my eyes

*

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Universal Truth






 Apple Blossom time


Dear Reader,

Wondering what to watch after supper this week we ran out of DVDs so tried to find a good film on Netflix.  We saw that the  'Pianist' was a possibility and put it on.  But although the story is obviously admirable about a Jewish pianist living in Warsaw during the last war, unfortunately I couldn't watch it as it was too violent, the scenes of Gestapo brutality were revolting.  At least they were for me.  So we turned it off. We looked for something else and I saw a film called 'Anne, with an e', which seems to be the story of Anne of Green Gables.  And it is glorious.  I remember reading the book in my teens and these sixty years later I still find myself moved by it, and love every minute.  Do give it a try if you haven't seen it.


*
D.H. Lawrence, 1916 in Cornwall.
'Here the winds are so black and terrible.  They rush with such force that the house shudders, though the old walls are very solid and thick.  Only occasionally the gulls rise very slowly into the air.  And all the while the wind rushes and thuds and booms, and all the while the sea is hoarse and heavy.  It is strange, one forgets the rest of life. It shuts one in within its massive violent world.   Sometimes a wave bursts with a great explosion against one of the outlying rocks, and there is a tremendous ghost standing on the sea, a great tall whiteness.'

*



Universal Truth

Everyone knows
that Philip Larkin wrote:

'They fuck you up
your mum and dad,
they may not mean to,
but they do'.

And what Philip Larkin knew
I know to be true.

*

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 9 February 2020

In Her Spare Room


                                                                                        Speckeldy Hen






                                                                                  The Wind in the Willows


Dear reader,


While staying on holiday years ago, in a rented house in Norfolk,  I wrote this poem.


In Her Spare Room

I see these books,
draw in a breath,
as cherished memories
race into my head.

These are:

Akenfield
Portraits of an English Village
Swallows and Amazons
The Speckledy Hen
The Little Flowers of St. Francis
My Friend Flicka
The Wind in the Willows
Tales of Old Inns


The owner of this house
is unknown to me,
but her collection
of treasured books
tells me a little of her,
what makes her who she is,
what makes me who I am.


*



The plight or the flight of the bumblebee is in the news this week.  They are suffering mass extinction due to rising temperatures.  It is feared that some bumblebees could vanish in the next few decades - Britain has already lost two species and the great yellow bumblebee can now only be found in Scotland.  There are fewer bumblebee species in areas that have got warmer, with the greatest declines in areas which exceeded the insects' temperature limits.

Bumblebees are vulnerable to climate change because high temperatures can cause heat exhaustion or reduce the supply of flowers which they need for nectar.  Their numbers are also falling because of intensive farming which leads to habitat loss, toxic pesticides and killer parasites.  Bumblebees play a key role in pollinating crops, meaning their declining numbers could heavily impact the British food  industry.

*


Please take note if you keep a rabbit.

Giving rabbits a partner makes them happy as they are sociable animals and suffer from loneliness on their own.  The traditional practice of keeping one rabbit alone 'can cause misery' for the animals the British Veterinary Association said.


*

I used to have a rabbit, he was called Zambezee.  I think he had a miserable life; well he certainly didn't have a partner.  He just sat in his cage looking sad, no doubt wishing he had a female rabbit for company.

*



                                                                    

With best wishes, Patricia                                                                           


Sunday, 2 February 2020

Something Touching






Dear Reader,

It is interesting isn't it how people seem to be divided as to whether they like cats or dogs?  For myself I am very fond of dogs and don't feel affinity with cats.  Cats seem to be very independent and pursue their own lives without taking much notice of their owners, or anyone else for that matter.  I feel really sad not having a dog but living in a town house makes it too difficult, with dirty paws from constant walks to contend with.

From the diary of James Woodforde, February 1st, 1799 in Norfolk

'Very hard frost with much snow and very rough easterly wind.....I don't know that I ever felt a more severe day.  The turnips all froze to blocks, obliged to split them with beetle and wedges, and some difficulty to get them on account of the snow - their tops entirely gone and they lay as apples on the ground'.
                                                                          *


A bit different from this February then.  I wore a cotton dress yesterday and felt just about right.


                                                                          *


Something Touching

What is it about houses I visit
that catches me in the throat?

Jennie's four antique bears
sitting in the rocking chair,

orange flames brightening the room
a view over the Evenlode valley,

sweet smelling logs
and ginger biscuits, chocolate coated.

A happy cat, treacle-coloured eyes
strolled about, chose a chair
then curled up, slept.


                                                                          *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 26 January 2020

My Tenant







Dear Reader,

I wonder if any of you are poor sleepers? I can't remember a time when I really slept well without any help from some sort of sleeping draught.  To get through the many wakeful hours of the night I make up stories and compose poems in my head. The one you will see today is about an aunt, Aunty Anne,  I made her up and she comforts me with her wise words and often sends me to sleep. As Shakespeare said in The Tempest :...."we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is
rounded with a sleep.'

My Tenant

Aunty Anne
lives in my head
sits in a comfortable
velvet armchair

she is a wise woman
plump with a pretty face
wears a white lacy blouse
a long patchwork skirt
has her hair in a bun

she smells of lavender water,
face powder and barley sugars
and she gives me
good advice,

away with miserable
thoughts at night,
she says, think
of the sunshine,
the sea, characters you love in books,

then she puts
her arms around me
kisses my cheek,
murmurs she loves me
and all will be well

and it is,
I sleep.

                                                                             *

From Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, in Somerset, January 26th, 1798

'Walked upon the hill-tops; followed the sheep tracks till we overlooked the large coombe.  Sat in the sunshine.  The distant sheep-bells, the sound of the stream, the woodman winding along the half-marked road with his laden pony; locks of wool still spangled with the dew-drops; the blue-grey sea, shaded with immense masses of cloud, not streaked; the sheep glittering in the sunshine.'

                                                                              *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Sylvester, 1948






Dear Reader,


Francis loved going to see Sylvester when he was a little boy. I have written today's poem about this adventure and hope you like the idea of his jaunt to the cinema, by himself, as much as I do.


 Sylvester, 1948

The young boy, eight or thereabouts,
trots down the street
leaves Marble Arch behind him,
and heads for Victoria Station
two miles away.

He has a sixpenny piece
in his pocket to pay
for his weekly visit
to the Regal Picture House.

Sylvester, the cartoon cat
would be playing
and the boy loved Sylvester.

He stretches his thin arm up
to reach the counter
"Sylvester, please mister"
he would say and put
down his sixpenny piece.

Two hours later
promising himself he
would return next Sunday,
he trots home, happy.


                                                                                *


                                                        
 

This is a page in Francis Kilvert's diary, January 12th, l873

'When I came out the night was superb. the sky was cloudless, the moon rode high and full in the deep blue vault and the evening star blazed in the west.  The air was filled with the tolling and chiming of bells from St.Paul's and Chippenham old Church....I walked up and down the drive several times before I could make up my mind to leave the wonderful beauty of the night and go indoors.'

From Gilbert White, January 14th, 1776 in Hampshire

'Rugged, Siberian weather.  the narrow lanes are full of snow in some places.... The road-waggons are obliged to stop, and the stage-coaches are much embarassed.  I was obliged to be much abroad on this day, and scarce ever saw its fellow.'

                                                                                *



 With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Plumage






                                                                                       Birds of Paradise



Dear Reader,

I was watching a documentary on the Birds of Paradise last week and it struck me that the antics  of this species were not unlike the antics of the human male.  So I wrote the following poem and hope you enjoy it, it is supposed to be a bit of fun.

                                                                           *

Everyone I think will have their ideas on the Meghan and Harry saga.  Here is my two penny worth.
Obviously Meghan found it difficult to adapt to the royal regime, as I think anyone would, and I don't blame her for wanting to quit.  But sadly for Harry it is not so easy, trying to be half royal and half not royal simply wouldn't work.  If they don't want to be part of the Royal Family and all that it entails they must give up their royal titles, be financially independent and lead, as much as they could, a normal life.  They are either in or out.

What do you think?  Do let me know.

                                                                             *

Plumage

Deep in the humid forest
smelling strongly of rich earth,
the Bird of Paradise trips
backwards and forwards on a tree branch,
utters loud cries, jumps small jumps,
dances the pas de deux,
fans out his tail feathers
pink, aquamarine, blue and red,
yellow and green,
to entice female birds
to fall in love with him.

And sometimes they do.

The human male
getting ready for a date
might slick back his hair,
smile at himself in the mirror,
put on a bright-coloured shirt
red silk tie, and yellow waistcoat,
pat on scented after-shave,
hum a tune, dance a step or two,
and sally forth,
hoping some female will
fall in love with him.

And sometimes they do.


                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia