Sunday, 10 November 2019

When my Dad came home





Dear Reader,

Every year on Remembrance Sunday I think of my father, Harold Huth, an actor and film producer after the first World War.  He served in the Royal Army Service Corps and was mentioned in Dispatches on three occasions.  I have a letter written in January 1916 congratulating my grandparents from a Colonel Harrison and his other officers, on their son's distinguished conduct and gallantry   My father never spoke about his war memories but was made ill from the gas he inhaled
all his life.

Thank you Dad for the small part you played allowing me to live in freedom, and thinking of you today I send you all my love.

                                                                               *



When my dad came home

he nodded off
in the old armchair,
any time,
forgot everything,
could name no names.

Tobacco smoke from Woodbines
filled the house,
he drank malt whisky,
came home unsteadily from the pub.

He talked of cricket, he whistled
and hummed old country and western songs,
rocked in the rocking chair
and potted up red geraniums.

He ate junket and white fish,
had headaches,
and he wept sometimes.

But we were good friends, my dad and I,
night times he told me stories,
and tucked me into bed.
I never asked him about the war,
and he never said.

                                                                            *

With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Grief





                                                                                          Claret Bottles






Dear Reader,

It is said that 'loneliness can be every bit as debilitating as a physical ailment; as bad, it is estimated, as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day'.  Reading this piece today immediately makes me remember what it was like to be lonely after the death of my husband.  Terrible, is the word that springs to mind.   I just couldn't get to grips with the situation at all.  Get a dog or a cat was the advice I got from kindly friends, but can a dog or a cat discuss the politics of the day or help me decided if I need a coat to wear that day?  No they can't.  

Of course there are lots of things I could have done to possibly made myself less lonely and I did sometimes play bridge or ask a friend in for tea or coffee.  But what about all those many many hours by yourself?   I went for a daily walk, wrote a poem or thought about the start of one, cooked a bit for myself, but thinking about the rest of my life on my own filled me with dread and sadness.  What would be the point, just filling in the time until perhaps, mercifully, one died.  What about your children and grandchildren, people might think?  Well I love them to bits but they are all very busy.  They do visit sometimes at the weekends but in the week, they do not. 

My darling granddaughter Emma had just got a boyfriend on Tinder.  Why don't you try for one, she said,  I will help you.  And that is how I found Francis on The Telegraph Dating website. And now life is so joyful and such fun. We walk and talk together, cook new things, put on 60s music and dance after supper in the sitting room, watch WWII DVDs  and are genuinely grateful to the Good Lord that we found one another. 

So my friends if you are lonely try computer dating.  It has made the complete difference to my life
finding a loving companion in Francis.

                                                                            *


Grief

Grief bridles you
holds the reins
is an unwanted guest in your head
releases uncontrollable torrents of tears

is ever present
your albatross

you glimpse a slipper
under a chair
study the wedding photographs
count the claret bottles
no longer wanted
and you weep

                                                                             *

With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Yes, the Neighbours






Dear Reader


Aren't the autumn colours we can see in woods and hedgerows this year wonderful?  Perhaps they always have been, and I quote here from one or two journals and diaries from yesteryear to prove a point.

October 26th, Gilbert White, 1783 in Hampshire.

'If a masterly landscape painter was to take our hanging woods in their autumnal colours, persons unacquainted with the country would object to the strength and deepness of the tints and would pronounce, at an exhibition, that they were heightened and shaded beyond nature.'

October 26th, William Cowper, 1790 in Buckinghamshire.

'A yellow shower of leaves is falling continually from all the trees in the country....The consideration of my short continuance here, which was once grateful to me, now fills me with regret.   I would live and live always.'

October 30th, Dorothy Wordsworth, 1802 in Westmoreland.

'It is a breathless, grey day, that leaves the golden woods of autumn quiet in their own tranquillity, stately and beautiful in their decaying; the lake is a perfect mirror.'

                                                                                   *

Animal news:   The rare greater Horseshoe bat has been recorded in Kent for the first time in more than 100 years, according to the Bat Conservation Trust.  The reason for the presence of the species in Kent is not known.  It is possible that an individual bat was blown off course or has travelled from France, or that a bat has dispersed across Britain from strongholds in the west of England or Wales.

                                                                                   *

Yes, the Neighbours

were very nice

two lovely children
playing quietly in the garden
a large friendly dog
no loud music
no noisy cars

I can't think
who would do this
to them

such a happy, smiling family
such a shame
such a waste

I am so sorry

But, of course,
we never spoke to them
she said.

                                                                                    *

With very best wishes, Patrica.


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Table for One






Dear Reader

My blog is about domestic rabbits this week, and it appears that they are not having a very good time. Apparently the first pet rabbits were discovered by the Romans. Rabbits brought here from Spain were reared in walled enclosures and then served as a gourmet dish.

But today domestic rabbits often lead miserable, disease-ridden lives because their owners wrongly believe that they need minimal care and handling.  The VetCompass study revealed that the average lifespan of pet rabbits was just 4.3 years and that the majority of health problems were due to inappropriate housing and feeding.  

Dr. Dan O'Neill, VetCompass  researcher at RVC said: "For years rabbits were considered as the perfect child's pet: fluffy, cute, passive and only needing minimal care and handling whilst being fed muesli-type food in a hutch in the garden where it is generally kept on its own".

Dr. Jo Hedly said: "better owner education is necessary if we are to improve rabbit health and welfare in future years."  

I have to own up to having several rabbits in my childhood.  I'm sure I didn't clean the hutch out often enough and fed them dandelion leaves amongst other things and, I suspect, they had a tough and lonely life.  But in my defence I knew no better.

                                                                            *

A Table for One

The woman sat alone
in a corner,
at a table for one.
She ate slowly 
sipped from a wine glass.

I guess she was middle-aged
or a little older,
an ordinary woman
who seemed immensely sad.

She started talking to herself
her mouth making silent words,
took a handkerchief from her pocket
and wiped her eyes.

What was her story?
Had she been in this hotel before
with a lover who had left her,
did she come back to this place
to grieve each year?

I don't know her story
but she touched my heart.
I longed to cheer her,
speak to her but I said nothing.
I often think of her,
wish I had been braver.

                                                                              *

With best wishes, Patricia

                                                                     


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


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     

Sunday, 21 July 2019

That was then










Dear Reader,

On July 15, 1786, Gilbert White wrote in his diary:

Made jellies, and jams of red currants.  Gathered broad beans...... The cat gets up on the roof of the house, and catches young bats as they come forth from behind the sheet of lead at the bottom of the chimney.

On July 15th, 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her diary:

Arrived very hungry at Rievaulx......at an exquisitely neat farmhouse we got some boiled milk and bread; this strengthened us, and I went down to look at the ruins.  Thrushes were singing, cattle feeding among green-grown hillocks about the ruins.  These hillocks were scattered over with grovelets of wild roses and other shrubs, and covered with wild flowers.  I could have stayed in this solemn quiet spot till evening, without a thought of moving, but William was waiting for me, so in a quarter of an hour I went away.

                                                                        *

I will not be writing a blog next Sunday as I will be on holiday in Lyme Regis.

                                                                        *

That was Then

We made our way home
where the west wind blew
and the sun shone sometimes,
we walked where people
we met in the street
or in the country lanes
exchanged news,
people well known to us
growing from infants to children,
teenagers to married couples.

We walked by the Evenlode river
up into the fields where
butterflies gathered in the clover.
We saw horses grazing,
wheat fields full
of red rememberance poppies,
the first primroses and bluebells
in the spring, foxgloves,
cow parsley dressing the hedgerows,
summer roses,
the first autumn leaves
fluttering to the ground,
the winter snow.

He walked ahead,
I followed.
We held hands, embraced,

 but that was then.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Rose Coloured spectacles






Dear Reader,

There were two extraordinary stories in the newspaper this week, and both, I think, are absurd.

If you did read about them skip this bit but if you didn't here is the gist:

A Christian doctor who is suing the Department for Work and Pensions says he lost his job after a recruitment agent asked whether or not he would call a bearded man 'madam'.  "No I would not," he said.   He was then sacked for refusing to call people who were born male 'she' even if they now identify as female. He was suspended as a disability claim assessor said it would be irresponsible to address people based on preferred pronouns.
                                                                         
                                                                      *

The other story is about a senior Northern Ireland civil servant who was paid £10,000 compensation for having to walk past portraits of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in his line of duty  Mr. Hegarty's complaints are said to have led to the portraits being removed and replaced by pictures of the Queen meeting people.  One of those was Martin McGuinness, former Deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and an ex-IRA commander.   The case brought by the complainant was settled secretly and the sum of £10,000 was handed over,  presumably for hurt feelings and distress.

I just wonder where the UK is going.  It all seems so mad to me, and so sad.


                                                                      *

Rose Coloured Spectacles

For her he was such a hero,
caught the biggest fish,
rode the fastest horse,
made people laugh,
procured lots of money,
knew the elite
made them his friends,
no weaknesses were known
or seen.
Yes, he was somebody.

But who is without a flaw?
He was insensitive to others,
spoke out of turn, hurt feelings,
and didn't care or notice.

She sadly learnt her hero's crown
was not made of gold.
Found her spectacles had slipped,
that she needed a new pair
with clearer vision.


                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Moment




                                                                                         Nomad Bees


Dear Reader,

It seems that Britain's rarest bee is under threat because of habitat loss at the only location it is found.  It used to be scattered across southern England but is now only found in one place. The location is on the cliffs at Prawle Point in South Devon.    Nomads are known as 'cuckoo' bees as they lay their eggs in other bees' nests.  When the nomad's larvae hatches, it eats the pollen stores that the host bee gathered for its own young.  The nomad's choice of host is the long-horned bee, which is threatened itself, since it only feeds on a few wild flowers in the pea family such as everlasting pea and kidney vetch.

In the nomads last refuge in South Devon, the cliffs provide the perfect habitat for the long-horned bees to breed.  But even here, both species are disappearing.  Farm fields have squeezed closer to the cliffs, removing legume-rich grasslands the long-horned bees depend on.  If this continues, the nomad bee faces extinction in Britain.

With wild animals disappearing, and birds and butterflies fewer every year, what kind of world are we
leaving our grandchildren and great grand children?

                                                                          *

Moment

The church is cool from the summer sun,
organ music plays.

We walk down the aisle
enjoy the scent of lilies
filling the holy air
point out ruby stained-glass windows
depicting Christ on the cross,
examine oak and stone carvings
plaster heads of saints
the altar cloth rich in green and gold.

He runs up the pulpit steps
says a few words in Latin.
I laugh
then we kneel together in a back pew
say a prayer.

He takes my hand.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A Proud Family Portrait

Dear Reader,







We went to visit Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire,  this week in lovely sunny weather, and what a treat after the rain of the last few days.  This was the summer home of William Morris,  signing a joint lease with Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871.  William loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unaltered and unspoilt and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.  He considered it so natural in its setting as to be almost organic,  and it looked to him as if it had " grown up out of the soil".  Its beautiful gardens, with barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, provided a constant source of inspiration.  In the house there is an outstanding collection of the possessions and works, including furniture, original textiles, pictures, carpets and ceramics.

We had lunch in the village pub, The Plough Inn, and it was excellent with good and quick service.

                                                                               

                                                                         *

A Proud Family Portrait

It wasn't a Reynolds or Gainsborough.
There were no silk or satin dresses,
no elaborate hairstyles, large jewels,
or velvet neck ribbons.
There was no piano,
and no one reading a book.

Sitting at a wooden table
the ladies wore dull cotton dresses,
the man a black suit.
There were no silk hats, no smiles.
Solemn-faced this family
was merchant class,
had succeeded with hard work.

They were a proud family
painted as they were,
to remind themselves
and others what they had achieved,
their dining table
a treasured possession,
their oak coffer,
their mahogany sideboard,
a Bible,
their precious gems.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 23 June 2019

A Valediction









Dear Reader,

Visiting Lyme Regis museum again last week I found out about an amazing woman called Mary Anning and I thought I would tell you a snippet about her.


Mary Anning was born on 21st May,1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset.  Her father, Richard, was a cabinet maker and amateur fossil hunter.  He often took Mary and brother Joseph fossil hunting around the cliffs of Lyme Regis.  They sold their finds to tourists.  Mary became an expert fossil hunter and found her first complete Plesiosaurus skeleton on December 10th, 1823.  Over the course of her life she made incredible discoveries and this made her famous among scientists of the day.  She died of breast cancer at the age of 47.  Her death was recorded by the Geological Society (which did not admit women until 1904) and her life is commenorated by a stained glass window in St.Michael's Parish church in Lyme.

SEAGULL news.   Whilst we were eating our lunch on the sea front we saw a seagull swoop onto a man's bread roll and the bird took it clean out of his hands.  And I read that an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Pickard, from Morecombe Bay, have been forced to stay in their home because otherwise they are attacked by two herring gulls as soon as they open the front door.  At one point Mr. Pickard was so viciously attacked that he ended up with a head wound which required hospital treatment. 

The gulls seem to be winning.

                                                                        *

A Valediction

To innocence
to childhood
to youth
to skipping about
to making daisy chains
to looking in the mirror
seeing someone pretty
to wearing gypsy clothes
feeling exotic in them
to flirting and being flirted with
to kissing someone new
drowning in that indescrible
feeling of lust and love
to smoking king-size cigarettes
to being passionate about something
daydreaming about a bright future
to changing the world
making poverty unknown
the poor rich.

But knowing now the truth
about old age being shite
hello to fudge and ice cold gins,
small pleasures and quieter things.

                                                                              *

With very best wishes, Patricia

P.S.   You can get my new book  'The Ragbag of a Human Heart' on Amazon.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The House



                                                                                  Frida Kahlo

Dear Reader.



I went to the most interesting lecture this week about a Mexican painter called Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907-1954) painted many portraits, self portraits and works inspired by
the nature and artifacts of Mexico.  She employed a native folk art style to explore questions of identity, post colonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society.  She was disabled by polio as a
child and had a traffic accident at the age of eighteen which cause lifelong pain and medical problems.  In 1927 she joined the Mexican Communist Party, where she met and married a fellow
artist, Diego Rivera.  Her work as an artist was relatively unknown until the last 1970s when it was re-discovered by art historians and political activists.

                                                                             *

The House

Was it the sound of Chopin
filling the street air,
escaping from a large keyhole
in the weathered front door,
or the first glimpse of pale
stone flooring and a rocking horse
in the hall corner, or was it the
Easter lilies rising tall out of
white enamel jugs, and books
everywhere, everywhere?

Was it the ancient dog
in front of a small log fire,
protected by a staunch Victorian fireguard,
or the scrubbed table and gentian-blue
hyacinths peeking out of a copper bowl,
Rockingham pottery plates
each one different,
or the sculpture of an unknown woman
young, rounded smooth,
placed lovingly on a window shelf
catching a flicker of the January sun?

Or was it the smell of beef stew,
a nursery smell dredged from childhood,
or the sight of home-grown pears
floating in sugared juice?
Or was it the feeling of safety,
warmth and love
everywhere, everywhere
that overwhelmed me?

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Bus Stop Princess




Dear Reader,

I thought this piece from Francis Kilvert's diary on June 12th, 1874 was rather funny and hope you do too.

'Bathing yesterday and to-day.  Yesterday the sea was very calm, but the wind has changed to the East and this morning a rough troublesome sea came tumbling into the bay and plunging in foam upon the shore.  The bay was full of white horses.  At Shanklin one has to adopt the detestable custom of bathing in drawers.  If ladies don't like to see men naked why don't they keep away from the sight?  To-day I had a pair of drawers given to me which I could not keep on.  The rough waves stripped them off and tore them down round my ankles.  While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the sharp shingle from which I rose streaming with blood.  After this I took the wretched and dangerous rag off and of course there were some ladies looking on as I came out of the water. '
                                                                           


                                                                             *



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 smiles 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.


                                                                            *

Very Best wishes, Patricia