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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Kitchen Clean.








Dear Reader,

I am putting the photo of my new book on again because I forgot to let you know last week what my email address is.  Well here it is if you want to email me about buying it instead of writing.

patricia.huthellis@googlemail.com

                                                                        *

We have been watching a series of films about Colditz, the notorious prison in Germany where British prisoners were sent when caught in the 1940/45 war, and it was supposed to be somewhere where no one could possibly escape.  But guess what?  Many of the men, (officers) spent their whole day thinking of ways to get out.  In fact this is a true story and one officer, a Captain Patrick Reid,
did escape and as did several others later.   Many others made elaborate and dangerous plans which they carried out, but to no avail and they were, it seems, always caught, and sometimes shot.   Now my question is this: would I have spent my days there thinking how to escape?  Perhaps, because I am not a brave person, I would have just obeyed the rules and stayed there quietly supporting the escapees.  The prison itself looked very much like some of the many boarding schools I went to, and endured.  Perhaps also it is because I am a woman.   So are men braver than women on the whole?  I wonder.

                                                                          *

Do you remember I wrote about the netting that a council had put up to stop the sand martins nesting in Bacton Sands in Norfolk?  Well the good news is that the first sand martin chicks have been born there since the netting has been removed, thanks to many nature lovers who complained about it.  The martins have been seen removing waste from the nests, which is evidence the first chicks have been hatched.
                                                                           *

Kitchen Clean

He made a chicken supper
vegetables and pudding
lots of dirty saucepans
and bowls strewn around
the kitchen.
Lovely food and terrible mess.
Left it.

Three a.m. couldn't sleep
pattered down to the kitchen
and there it was
an immaculate picture of
cleanliness ad tidiness
he had worked on
when I had gone to bed.

My heart filled with love.

                                                                          *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Ragbag of a Human Heart









Dear Reader,

It was rather an exciting time for me this week because my new book had just come back from the printers.  It is rather a strange feeling seeing your work published in a book after all the hard work that goes into the completion and the editing.  If you feel  inclined to buy a copy I hope you will enjoy the poems, some of them you may have read but perhaps there are some new ones
that you have not yet seen.

You are invited to send £10 from within the UK.  For overseas purchases please send £12.50p equivalent.  These prices include postage and packaging.

The address is:            36 Ticknell Piece Road,
                                     Charlbury
                                     Chipping Norton
                                     OX7 3TW

Looking forward to sending you your book by return of post.



                                                                                       *

I wrote this poem after thinking about the complex and complicated way we humans think and behave.  I find myself difficult to understand sometimes as I am sure we all do.  For all modern psychoanalysis, understanding human behaviour is a subject still in its infancy.

                                                                                        *

The Ragbag of the Human Heart

He saw the girl
young, beautiful, innocent,
inflamed her with clever words,
caught her
seduced her
smiled, walked away.


At the bus stop
he saw an old lady
waiting in the rain,
offered her a lift,
drove her back to her house,
made her a cup of tea,
hugged her,
smiled, and walked away.

                                                                                        *

With very best wishes, Patricia





Sunday, 19 May 2019

Attic Trunk


Dear Reader,






Dear Reader,

I asked a couple of fairly new and lovely friends for coffee this week from the same village that I live in.  We talked in general terms about holidays we had been on, Brexit, and exchanged ideas and experiences of dementia.  But it wasn't until the visit was nearly at its end that we discussed our respective families.  I asked them about their children, how many they had and what did they do.  And they asked me about mine.  It was all very interesting and illuminating.  But what we all discovered was that nobody else ever asked us these questions.  I once travelled up to Stratford with a new friend and although I asked her about her children, she didn't ask me about mine the whole car journey to and from Stratford. This is very strange, I think and know now why we like our old friends best, the ones who know our history and what is precious to us. 

                                                                             *




Attic Trunk

Searching through her mother's attic trunk
she recognised a dusty, broken cricket bat,
saw a tiny knotted shawl that must have shrunk
and a youthful photo of Aunt Dora, looking fat.
She found silver shoes wrapped in a crimson gypsy skirt
and a purple box housing a worn-thin wedding ring,
a Spanish fan trimmed with lace, and a grandad shirt
embracing faded love letters, tied with ageing string.
From sepia postcards she studied unknown folk,
and pulled out, lovingly, a greasy-tweed cloth cap,
her father's penny whistle, a badger carved from oak,
and brass rubbings, rolled up in a parchment map.
Precious things we keep are candles on our life's tree,
their discovery tells secret stories, provides a key.


                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Loss




Dear Reader,

It was announced this week that an archaeological treasure had been found in England during road widening works in Essex, between Aldi supermarket and a pub. Do you remember dear reader when I wrote about Richard III's bones that were found under a car park in Leicester two years ago?

Well this treasure, found under the supermarket, is what archaeologists believe to be the earliest Christian royal tomb ever unearthed in the UK.  The site  at Prittlewell, near Southend, discovered in 2003, has uncovered a trove of artifacts providing an unrivalled snapshot of Anglo-Saxon England at the end of the sixth century.  In the chamber they found an ornate lyre, a painted box and a flagon thought to have come from Syria, and gold foil crosses.  The body (possibly King Seaxa) had been laid in a wooden coffin with  small gold foil cross over each eye. The box in the tomb is the only surviving example of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork in Britain.

Sophie Jackson, the museum's director of research said: "It's a really interesting time when Christianity is sort of creeping in and this is all possibly before Augustine sent his mission to Britain to convert the country to Christianity, so they would have been just on the transition between having pagan burials with all your gear but also having these crosses."

                                                                             *


Loss

The old woman
totters slowly down the path,
holding her hand we
go into the field
pick daffodils and buttercups,
spring is on its way.

Later in the kitchen
she tries to say something, to find words
which seem to flutter away,
escape her, but she manages:
"I don't live
in this house, I live elsewhere."

She lies down on the sofa.
"I like looking at the sky" she murmurs,
and closing her eyes she falls asleep.
I kiss her on her pale, cold cheeks,
and weep  .......

                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Small Pleasures in Old Age



Dear Reader,

From Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, 1820, May 5th, Westmorland

"A sweet morning .......The small birds are singing, lambs bleating, cuckow (sic) calling, the thrush sings by fits, Thomas Ashburner's axe is going quietly (without passion) in the orchard, hens crackling, flies humming, the women talking together at their doors, plum and pear trees are in blossom - apple trees greenish."

From Francis Kilvert's diary, l870, May 9th, Radnorshire

"The turtles were trilling softly and deeply in the dingles as I went up the steep orchard.  The grass was jewelled with cowslips amd orchises (sic).  The dingle was lighted here and there with wild cherry, bird cherry, the Welsh name of which being interpreted is 'the tree on which the devil hung his mother'.  The mountain burned blue in the hot afternoon."

Our weather has been so strange lately hasn't it?  Easter weekend was so hot and lovely, and now I am back in my winter clothes, vest and all.  And the heating is on again!.

                                                                               *

Small Pleasures in Old Age

Listening to Mozart's Andante
in front of a log fire

hearing the robin's call
in early spring
spotting the first violets, first primroses

walking in the woods
sitting under the trees
whilst the bagpipe utters

their unique spiritual sounds
watching the deer hurrying
through the undergrowth

following the antics
of the Archer family
eating peanut butter sandwiches

watching the goldfinch spitting
out seeds, and laughing
at the absurdity of life itself

exchanging family news
proudly loving the grandchildren
and their stories

small away holidays
with Francis, by the sea
in Dorset

And, perhaps, most of all
not saying yes to things
when I mean no

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Rooks





Dear Reader,

After a pretty trying week looking after my sister who has dementia, Francis and I went down to my favourite place in Dorset, Lyme Regis.  Enjoying a well earned rest we stayed at an airbnb in the town, and spent much of our time in the sunshine on Charmouth and Lyme beaches.  Francis played his bagpipe on the beach, which amused lots of people.

But the interesting thing to recount to you was the absence of seagulls.  This is the reason.  Two enormous birds of prey called Winnie and Kojak patrol beaches in Lyme Regis to prevent visitors having their sandwiches, fish and chips, or ice cream stolen by the gulls. Apparently through the summer months the eagles will patrol the promenade on their owner's arms.  Their presence is enough to stop hundreds of seagulls from swooping down, tests have shown.  The Lyme Regis Town Council has tried other methods to deter the gulls but nothing has worked as well.

                                                                              *

Rooks

I was fourteen,
when I first heard
the call of the rooks
caw-cawing
their eerie cries.

From a Cornish cottage garden
I walked down through
dark woods to the beach,
a remote place,
just dunes, sand, the sea
and me, a confused, angry teenager,
with the rooks caw-cawing in my ears
disturbing my thoughts.

Even now, in later years,
whenever I hear whispers from the wind,
or sea lapping over large grey stones
ever forward, ever backward,
glimpse a faraway horizon
and see twilight descending
darkening the sky,
the rooks in large black groups
flying high towards
their evening bed,
cawing, cawing, cawing,
my heart misses a beat
and an unexplained sadness
overcomes me.

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Friday, 12 April 2019

England Dear to Me









Dear Reader,


 I am writing my blog this week not on Sunday, 14th, but on Friday, 12th.  This is because Francis and I are going to look after my sister, who has dementia,  and won't be anywhere near a computer until the 25th of April.

Do you remember in March this year I wrote about Tesco putting up netting to stop birds nesting in their buildings, and I said I hoped no one else would think of doing this.  Well this week I see that the North Norfolk District Council has put up netting on the Bacton cliff, stopping the sand martins from returning to their nests after their perilous journey from Africa. Apparently many of these sand martins die of thirst and exhaustion on their way across the seas and arrive in Britain very weary.  A Prof. Ben Garrod, of the University of East Anglia, said the sand martins discovered in Europe in the 16th century had been in the area "longer than the people have".  He also said that they had been nesting in the cliff for hundreds of years, and likely more.

I expect you all read the reports in the newspaper this week so I won't say anything further but I am appalled and sad about our England.   Richard II's  "blessed plot, sceptered isle" .....no more

                                                                                 *

England Dear to Me


It is the robins, blackbirds, blue tits,
hopping and grubbing in the garden
that lurch my heart
make England dear to me.
It is the velvet of green moss,
oak trees, old with history,
the first cowslips,
hedgerows filled with dog rose, foxgloves,
and shy sweetpeas 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 prayers,
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, and Happy Easter
Patricia