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


Sunday, 18 August 2019

English Weather


                                                                                    August Weather

Dear Reader,
 I thought I would write a bit about the weather this week.  And how strange it has been in the last few weeks.  When we travelled down to Lyme Regis last month it was on the day that the temperature was 38 degrees. (It seems that July was the hottest month recorded in Europe since records began).  For myself I find the heat troublesome, and I never sit in the sun.

On August 22nd, 1800, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her journal:

'Very cold.  Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up - lighted a fire upstairs.....Wind very high shaking the corn'.

August 23rd, 1879, Richard Jefferies wrote:

Rain steady all morning: heavy till afternoon - caused local flood.  Evening dry but cloudy.  The wood pigeons are now in the wheat in flocks (they beat the ears with bill).

August 27th, 1782,  William Cowper wrote:

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


Seagull news.  Seagulls are now annoying the citizens of Paris with the noise they make and the chaos they create.  In particular it is the Belleville fish market which is one of their favourite haunts. They also enjoy the safe nesting opportunities afforded by the city's rooftops. 

What is to be done?

                                                                                   *

English Weather

rain, mist and fog
make my hair curl
my skin goes clammy
affects my liver and temper
produce a chill, a cold, a cough

while the sun cheers me
lightens my heart and mood
fills the house
brightens the corners
warms my body
reminds me of holidays
when I was young

but English weather
and all its seasons
are my heritage
in my blood, my natural habitat

I don't want want perpetual sun
blue skies, or monsoon rains,
or ice or snow
all year round

English weather suits me best.

                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 11 August 2019

The First Dance










Dear Reader,



                                                                               Summer days 2019



The poem I have published today is about my first dance.  I remember it all so well.  My mother insisted that I went to it, a pony club do at the local memorial hall.  She always bought me the most frightful dresses which I hated, and curled my hair which I disliked even more.  And I wore the most horrible spectacles that remind me of the ones Barry Humphries wore as Dame Edna. So you can see it wasn't a very good beginning.

I have never, in these last 70 odd years, enjoyed going to parties.  I don't know why people do.  And now of course as I am going deaf I can't easily hear what people are saying to me, so that is a good excuse not to go.  Not that it matters since very little of interest is said at a party. Or at least not to me. Well each to his own I suppose.

Gull news:   Apparently if you stare into the eyes of a seagull he will not try, or not try too hard, to snatch your sandwich.   So that thought will cheer us all up when devouring our picnic at the beach.

                                                                            *

The First Dance

I dreaded the dance
nervous, shy and bespectacled
these occasions terrified me

I wore a pink satin dress
white satin shoes
and a pearl necklace

Dad said I looked great
but he would
he loved me

In the dance hall I stood by myself
for a while
then hurried to the loo

In the mirror I saw nervous
red parches round my neck
and down my arms
a tear ran down my cheek

The band was playing
I did it my way and
Simon, the boy next door
asked me to dance

We shuffle together
both wishing we were
dancing with someone other
I saw Antony, my dream man

dancing with a red-haired woman
close and intimate

Later Simon walked me home
we didn't speak
but at the door
bending, his lips touched my lips, briefly
then he turned, and was gone.

                                                                                    *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Realization

Dear Reader,

Those of us living in the UK must know about the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge and the trouble it is having caused by enormous downpours in a very short space of time.  Water pumps are working overtime to drain the Toddbrook Reservoir before its structural integrity fails and floods the town.

Thinking about this turn of events perhaps you didn't know that in l925 Dolgarrog, a small village in the Conway valley of North Wales, was devastated by 70 billion gallons of floodwater when two dams breached following weeks of heavy rain, killing 10 adults and six children.  The death toll would have been far higher were it not for the majority of the village having decamped to higher ground.

In 1864 the Dale Dyke dam on the edge of Sheffield burst causing a raging torrent of water which claimed the lives of at least 240 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses.  Even as far as Rotherham eyewitnesses reported trees, livestock and household furniture swept along in the floods.

The residents of Whaley Bridge must be waiting with bated breath today as the forecast for  tomorrow is more rain.

Best of luck, my friends.

                                                                          *

Realization

I am,
part of the whole.

I am
in the first light,
the bird's first song,
the sun's first dart
through the curtain crack,
in the music of summer trees.

I am
part of the alpha,
the birth,
the awakening,
the growing and spreading,
the throbbing of life.

I am part of the suffering,
hands blood-stained.
Part of the love
humanity shares and
of all good things.

I am
part of the omega,
the closing, the last light,
the call back from the dark
to the bright, eternal night.

                                                                       *



Very best wishes, Patricia