Sunday, 13 October 2019

Goats






                                                                                         Shepherd Boy and Flute


Dear Reader,

There was an Extinction Rebellion meeting in our village hall last week and we went. Two Oxford dons seemed to be running it and they both had an hour to speak and show us slides. The pictures of the fires, floods and famine all over the world were horrific and and their gloomy foreboding of things to come was very disturbing.  But what we were not told was what each one of us could do, in a small way, to improve things.  Extinction Rebellion seems to be causing chaos on the streets of London
and many other cities, not just in England but around the world.  Obviously members of the government will take note of these activities and I sincerely hope they do, but perhaps this isn't the right way.  People wanting to get to work and ambulances wanting to get patients to hospital have been impeded and this probably does nothing to further EX's cause.

Climate change is a very serious subject which must be addressed by all the world leaders and come to some agreement about what to do, quickly.

Animal news:  Apparently with all this wet weather  spiders are hurrying into our homes for warmth and comfort.  But not only spiders, rats too like the comfort of your home. So keep the doors shut
or you might have unwelcome visitors.

Nothing on the gulls this week except I read about a poet who loved them.  He wrote poetry for them and apparently they understood every word.  Well there is no accounting for taste.

                                                                            *

Goats

The goats pick their way up
the steep mountain path
nibbling and bleating, tails wagging
silver bells chiming as they stop
to graze, skip and jump upwards.

White mignonettes, freesias, lavender bushes
grow in abundance along the well-worn track,
and small taranaki flowers nestle
in the undergrowth.
Overhead a black kite cries
circles and swoops
and the pungent smell of goats
fills the warm lavender air.

I see the shepherd boy
swarthy, brown and handsome
sitting on a stone, playing a flute.
He watches his precious goats
with a sharp and knowing eye.

As I pass I smile. He waves.
I dance a step to his music
and with light heart follow the goats,
on my own journey upwards.

                                                                             *

With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Truth Modern


                                                                                              Murky waters



Dear Reader,

 On October 5th, 1872, Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote in his journal:

' A goldencrested wren had got into my room at night and circled round dazzled by the gaslight on the white ceiling; when caught even and put out it would come in again.  Ruffling the crest which is mounted over the crown and eyes like beetlebrows, I smoothed and fingered the little orange and yellow feathers which are hidden in it.  Next morning I found many of these about the room and enclosed them in a letter to Cyril (his brother) on his wedding day'.

My poem today is about truth.  Oscar Wilde said:  'Whoever let truth get in the way of a good story..... ' and as someone who exaggerates a little (my family would say quite a lot) I agree with this sentiment.  But in today's world the truth about almost anything seems to have got lost altogether.
More is the pity...who can we believe and trust nowadays?

                                                                                  *

Truth Modern

Through a kaleidoscope's
shifting, bright colours,
set close to the eye,
the viewer's truth is reflected,
assuring the mind of its veracity,
acknowledging its fantasies
as realities, seeing truth
not as it is, but as we would
like it to be,
spinning words,
detaching truth from its moorings,
setting it loose in murky waters.
Illusions of truth
sandwiched between lies
is the authentic truth
of our times

                                                                                *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Stone





                                                                                              Guernsey

Dear Reader,

The reason I couldn't write the blog last Sunday was because I was having a holiday in Guernsey.  We were lucky with the weather.  The sun shone for five days which made our many bus journeys and sight seeing interesting and fun.  Gosh, what a story Guernsey has to tell.  We went to five museums, all of which were so beautifully done, with abundant military costumes on models and where appropriate, authentic weapons from the occupation. The German Occupation museum was most interesting - what a terrible time the Guernsey people must have had when occupied.  One poster I particularly noticed said ' If you are found outside after the curfew, you will be shot'.  And everything seemed so dirty and grim.

We don't know we are born today, do we?  All the quarrelling about Brexit seems so puerile, so pathetic.

                                                                            *


Stone 

I wrapped the stone in linen cloth,
the picnic I wrapped in plastic bags.
We made for the river the stone and I.
My arm ached with the weight.

We sat on the bank,
watched the river run.

I fed myself tomato sandwiches,
shortbread, spring water.
The stone was still and silent.
I fed it words.

Standing up I said:"Stone
you have been my life companion.
My fetter, me, chained to you.
Hurling you into the river
will be my resurrection".

                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 15 September 2019

The Fence








Dear Reader,

I wrote today's poem after I had read an article in the Spectator magazine written by a woman who
had changed her London home for a country cottage.  She had had many hopes of a perfect life but it didn't turn out the way she had envisaged. 

Why, I wonder, do so many people leave city life thinking that living in the country is going to be idyllic? Then they find that they don't like the church bells waking them up, the cockerel crowing at 6.am, farmyard smells, or ugly old trees preventing their view of far distance hills.  Surely they could have thought about these things before they moved.

                                                                                *

From 'The Little Book of the Cotswolds' by Gillian Broomhall

'By the time twenty-one-year-old Harriet Tarver of Chipping Campden was dispatched in April 1836 for murdering her husband, Thomas, the punishment of the day had been reduced to the supposedly more humane sentence of hanging.  Mrs. Tarver clearly also believed the way to stop a man's heart was through his stomach, for she laced her husband's rice pudding with arsenic having apparently been giddified by some other fellow's irresistible charms.'


                                                                                  *

The Fence

The lively young couple
pursuing an idyllic dream,
came down from the city,
bought a country cottage
with roses at the door.

They envisaged a
more peaceful,
meaningful life
amongst the village people,
intending to join in all activities,
arrange church flowers,
bicycle to events,
raise money for charity.

But, alas, not knowing
the consequences,
they pulled down
an old, bedraggled hedge,
albeit much loved by village folk,
and put up a modern fence.

The villagers were appalled.
They loved the old hedge
it was part of their heritage.
They hated the new fence,
raised petitions against
the culpable thoughtless couple,
snubbed them in the village shop,
 even the vicar avoided them.

Upset and angry
at this outrageous behaviour
the young couple and their
two small children
fled back to the city
from whence they came.
Back to their reality world,
leaving their dreams behind.

They never understood
that in pastoral reality
cockerels crow at 6.am,
pigs smell strongly,
traditions take a long time to die,
and that country neighbours can be
flawed people, just like them.

                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia

P.S.  When I lived in a cottage in this country town, we had a beautiful pear tree climbing up the wall.
Neighbours called to say they hoped we would never chop it down and, if we had any pears to spare,
could they have them.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Emma Alpha Plus


                                                                              The Sound of Music



Dear Reader,

Apparently several examples of stocks can be found in the Cotswolds.  I know a two-holed version can be found in the square in Stow-on-the-Wold which we intend to go and see one bright September day.  Stocks were once found in practically every town or village and were widely used in the punishment of minor offences for both women and men.   Apart from being humiliated whilst in the stocks you could be pelted with whatever detritus the locals thought fit.  One such miserable wretch is reported to have died from injuries while in the stocks at Stroud in October 1832.

                                                                            *

We went to a flamenco guitar concert this week but I was bitterly disappointed as flamenco music was not at all as I had imagined it to be.  Once you have heard one piece.......

                                                                             *

Emma Alpha Plus

Emma
the little one
frightened to be left
at night
shared my bed
snuggled up with me
listened to nursery rhymes
on an old tape recorder

we went to the swings
sat on a bench
ate crisps

she grew and we went to
the Wildlife Park
stared at the monkeys

we watched Maisy Mouse
over and over again
and in her teens
The Sound of Music

she worked hard at school
had problems with her
heart overbeating and never
complained

she went to college
got a distinction
will go to Brighton to study
in September next year

she is helpful, enthusiastic
puts her all into everything
is engaging and funny

she is alpha plus

I loved her and looked after her
and now she looks after me

                                                                          *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Monday, 2 September 2019

Katie's Angels


                                                                                          The Clee Hills


Dear Reader,

Francis Kilvert was writing about the Clee Hills, Radnorshire, in his diary on the 5th September, 1871.  This is such a beautiful part of our English countryside which I visited not long ago and I thought you might like to read this extract:

'The day was lovely and I went over to Newchurch.....A solitary fern cutter was at work on the Vicar's Hill mowing the fern with a sharp harsh ripping sound.   In the first Newchurch field the turkeys, black and grey and fawn-coloured, were mourning in the stubbles and a black pony was gazing pensively over the hedge.  I passed through two fields of thin stunted wheat choked with sow thistle which covered me with its downy blossom.  From the Little Mountain the view was superb and the air exquisitely clear.  The Clee Hills seemed marvellously near.  The land glittered, variegated with colours and gleams of wheat, stubble and blue hill.

                                                                           *

Yesterday Francis and I went to an enormous car boot sale to try to sell some unwanted things.  I thought it was such fun and we made over £100.   I met some interesting and lovely people and hope to go to another one soon.   If you haven't been to a car boot sale do try to go, it really is a joyous outing.

                                                                           *

Katie's Angels

At dawn, driving eastwards,
mist still covering the fields,
trees ribboned in cobwebs,
sky blue and white.

She saw a rabbit, a pigeon,
and two hen pheasants,
but no cherubs, no bright light.

Much later, lost, tired,
rounding a corner she saw
gathered in the road
twenty white doves.

They flew up
a breath of sunshine
tipping their wings.
Ecstatic she recognized the sign,
recognized her angels.

                                                                         *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Monday, 26 August 2019

War Rich, Peace Poor








Dear Reader,

Francis and I spent two delightful days with his daughter Rachel and her husband Richard in Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.  On Saturday, we ventured forth to see Brockhampton, a medieval manor house with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside.  The house is relatively small and has been left by the National Trust much as it was, I imagine, in the war years.  Going into the study I was so reminded of my own family treasures, a wind up gramophone, and a large leather desk with an old fashioned black telephone on it.  If you are anywhere near there it is a very enjoyable outing.

Gilbert White, 1787, in Hampshire, August 27th, wrote in his journal:

'Timothy the tortoise, who has spent the last two months amidst the umbrageous forests of the asparagus-beds, begins now to be sensible of the chilly autumnal mornings; and therefore suns himself under the laurel-hedge, into which he retires at night.  He is become sluggish, and does not seem to take any food.'

William Cowper, 1782, in Buckinghamshire, August 27th,  wrote:

'It is so cold this 27th August that I shake in the green-house where I am writing.'

Ubrageous means affording shade.  
                                                                           
                                                                                 *


Seagull news:  There has been so much news in the newspapers about the behaviour of seagulls this summer I am sure you have read it or seen it all yourselves.  But I did read an article by a posh journalist in the Daily Telegraph who seemed to imply that seagulls were noble birds and we should all love them.  As I said last week, each to his own.

                                                                                  *

War Rich, Peace Poor


When war broke out
the rich woman volunteered,
drove ambulances,
nursed wounded soldiers.
She was busy all day
but she was happy,
fulfilled, her eyes sparkled,
she smiled at everyone.

Then in 1945 peace
was declared.
Her jobs disappeared,
no gossip now over tea breaks,
no excitement, no bombs
or air raids to avoid.

She should have been happy
that peace was declared
but she felt sad and empty.

                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia