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