Sunday, 18 April 2021

Recipe for Blue





                                                                                         Garden gnomes

 

Dear Reader,

I am sure some of you will be pleased to know that garden gnomes are back in fashion.  I am equally sure that some of you will not be pleased and think that having gnomes to decorate your garden is very naff.  For myself,  I am very fond of gnomes.  They are cheerful beings and lucky so they say.

The first known garden gnomes were produced in Germany in the early 1800s.  Then they were made out of clay. In the 1840s garden gnomes became particularly popular in France and Britain.  Originally gnomes were thought to provide protection, especially of buried treasure and minerals in the ground.  Myths claim that gnomes are sensitive to sunlight and some legends think that the light of the sun will turn a gnome into stone.

But there is a shortage of gnomes at the moment.  Raw material have become increasing difficult to come by and the blockage of the Suez canal has contributed to the national shortage of gnomes.  Many garden centres have contracted suppliers across China and Europe to help ship the gnomes to the UK.  There has been a massive swing in the sales of gnomes this year and definitely a different clientele wanting them in their gardens.

                                                                                   *

There was a letter int The Telegraph newspaper this week which absolutely accorded with my feelings about the Duke of Edinburgh. ' I am an ordinary man,' the letter said, 'and not particularly a royalist but I felt an enormous sadness when I read of his death'. I knew very little about Prince Philip but felt sad when I heard of his passing.  Subsequently I have read of the many wonderful things he did for so many people and am now a fan.

                                                                                   *

 

Recipe for Blue

 

Take blue from the mountain

and dye my bones,

crush lapis lazuli,

mix it in my hair.

Plunge my heart in forget-me-nots,

soak my maidenhead in blueberry juice,

add a pinch of larkspur.

Wrap me in the Blessed Virgin's dress,

shake over star sapphires,

fold in the clouds,

and bake slow.
 

                                                                                      *


With best wishes, Patricia

                                                                 

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Gentleman of the Road


                                                                                   The road less travelled
 

 

 Dear Reader,

 It was with enormous sadness that I learnt about the death of Prince Philip.  I suppose I, like many others, felt he was, if not a friend, someone one knew and liked.  And he was always there.  Having listened to the radio and watched television programmes about him in the last couple of days I realise what an enormous amount of good things he did, for the betterment of all.  He was special as Prince Charles told us.  But I have been thinking of the Queen and hoping she has lots of family and friends about her.  Even if you know someone is going to die it is a real shock when they do and the aches, longing and the grief this brings, start.  

Incidentally when Albert, Queen Victoria's husband died, she had photographs taken of his corpse and positioned them on the walls around her bedroom.  What a strange thing to do I would have thought but ... She then had forty-odd years as a widow and never took off her black clothes. She seems to have been a very strange woman who gave birth to nine children but didn't really like them.  She adored Albert, he was her life, and she never got over his death, never came to terms with it.

 

                                                                                    *

 

From Francis Kilvert, 1872, in Radnorshire, April 14th

'The blossoming fruit trees, the torch trees of Paradise, blazed with a transparent green and white lustre up the dingle in the setting sunlight.  The village is in a blaze of fruit blossom'.

 From Dorothy Wordsworth, 1802, Westmorland, April 17th

'I saw a robin chasing a scarlet butterfly this morning'.


                                                                                     *

Gentleman of the Road

The old man shuffled into the cafe
head bent. shoulders hunched
with a weather-beaten face
and straggly beard
he looked sad and lonely.

In a deep rasping voice he said
he would like a ham sandwich.
I made him one,
and sat down beside him.

'I am a gentleman of the road, he told me,' he told me,
'been on it for fifty years or more.
I have walked the byways of England,
watched the sun come up
watched the sun go down.'

He told me his life story.
Often being cold and hungry,
frightened when sleeping
on a city street,

how he felt old and
out of sync with the times
how he hoped to die
in the countryside, under a willow tree.

When he left I hugged him
and tears came into his eyes
'I haven't been touched by another
human being for over thirty years', he said.

And tears came into my eyes.

                                                                                     *


With very best wishes, Patricia














Sunday, 4 April 2021

Chapel






Dear Reader, 


Happy Easter to you all and may the rest of your year be full of hope and joy, with restrictions lifted and a return to a sort of normality.

As a Christian with many doubts, I always feel emotional about Good Friday and the Saturday before Christ rises from the tomb, in a divine state. And then when I wake up on Easter Sunday my first thought is that Christ has risen.  This is a great relief to me and I can enjoy all the festivities that Easter Day can bring.

 Somebody said that believing the impossible is the Christian story.  But now in my old age I believe it more than ever, I know that Christ has been in my life on many occasions.  Not least just before I had a serious operation for lung cancer, He was there with me and I felt at peace.

                                                                                *

From Gilbert White, 1793, in Hampshire
April 5th

'The air smells very sweet, and salubrious.  Men dig their hop-gardens and sow Spring corn.....Dug some of the quarters in the garden, and sowed onions, parsnips, radishes and lettuces.  Planted more beans in the meadow.  Many flies are out basking in the sun'.

From Dorothy Wordsworth, 1798, in Somerset
April 9th

'Walked to Stowey, a fine air in going, but very hot in returning.  The sloe in blossom, the hawthorns green, the larches in the park changed from black to green in two or three days'.

                                                                                  *

Chapel

Away with the cherubs
the angels, the painted ceilings
the high arches
the high ceilings
nudes male and female
the artefacts
the gold crosses
and ornate statues of the
Virgin Mary.

Give me a chapel with
whitewashed bricks
wooden pews
oak door with studs
daisies on the altar
in a china jug
a bust of St.Columba
and quiet peace
in God's house.

                                                                              *

With very best wishes, Patricia



 




Sunday, 28 March 2021

Throwing away

 Dear Reader,



                                                                 Love letters and postcards

 

 The poem I am introducing today is about throwing things away and it seems to have been one of the most popular poems I have ever written!  For myself throwing things away causes much heartbreak but, as you get older it is essential.   I am 81 and so don't have years to count on and feel that I must leave everything in order for my daughters to deal with.  But it is so hard.  I do have dance tickets from the 1950s and can remember the excitement I had dressing for the occasion.  I have hand-written novels I wrote which nobody published and lots of letters from friends of both sexes.  And various ornaments and pieces of jewellery, not of any monetary value but precious to me.  But these things don't mean anything to my family, they are memories I hold in my heart, solely mine.

So I have filled plenty of black bags, and run down to the bins to throw them in the day before the dustbin is due to be taken away.  It is the right thing to do I am sure, but nevertheless I feel a sadness which doesn't go away.

                                                                                 *

From Gilbert White, 1771, in Hampshire. March 30th

'The face of the earth naked to a surprising degree.  Wheat hardly to be seen, and no signs of any grass: turneps all gone, and sheep in a starving way.  All provisions rising in price.  Farmers cannot sow for want of rain.'

'Nuthatch brings out and cracks her nuts, and strews the garden walks with shells.  They fix them in a fork of a tree where two boughs meet - on the Orleans plum tree.'

                                                                               *


Throwing Away

the letters,
those billets doux
the photographs,
the dance programmes,
the theatre tickets,
the postcards,
is a formidable task,
and weeping is not forbidden,

Before discarding
those once precious things
the proof of special moments
lived in earlier times,
memorise them all with care.
And afterwards, relive
this solitary, remembered road,
and weeping is not forbidden.

                                                                                       *


With very best wishes, Patricia









Sunday, 21 March 2021

Widow

 




                                                                                The Cuckoo Flower

 

Dear Reader,

 

This is the most delicate plant of damp meadows but can also be seen in gardens or sometimes growing through pavement stones.  The cuckoo plant has fine, pale pink flowers with four petals and it can also be known as "lady's smock". Its common name 'cuckoo flower' derives from the formation of the plant's flowers which come up around the same time as the arrival each spring of the first cuckoos in the British Isles.

It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife.  It was once used as a substitute for watercress.  In folklore it was said to be sacred to fairies and so was unlucky if it was brought indoors.

From William Shakespeare, 1598 (Love's Labour's Lost)

 'When daisies pied and violets blue
  And lady-smocks all silver white
  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
  Do paint the meadows with delight'.

                                                                                  *

 

I am so glad spring has at last arrived.  The spring equinox is one of the days that mark the turning of the year and we can all look forward now to some sunshine and warmer weather.  We went for a walk yesterday and the birds were fulsome in their song, and small shoots of new life seemed to be everywhere.


                                                                                   *

Widow

 

no one to talk to

no one to hug 

no one to walk with

no one to laugh, cry or sing with

 

no one to come home to

no one to ask how you are

no one to go up to bed with

no one to wake when

overwhelmed with a nightmare

 

no one to cook for

no one to fill that empty

gap in your heart 


and you weep alone


                                                                         *


With very best wishes, Patricia

 

 

 

 

 



Sunday, 14 March 2021

Two Faces







 Dear Reader,


I am 81 today and will possibly, probably eat much too much and be a bit sorry tomorrow when I look on the scales.  But I have been reading Lucy Worsley's book, 'Courtiers' on Georgian history and here is a quote about what was eaten at a summer dinner in 1735. "beef, chicken and mushrooms, mutton hashed in a loaf, veal and sweetbreads fried, pullets and cream, a haunch of venison, cold chicken and pickles, peas and cucumber, a lobster, gooseberry and apricot tart, and smoked salmon and prawns.'

I remember feeling astonished when I read about Henry V111's breakfast.  He might have eaten game, roasted or served in pies, lamb, venison and swan.  He also ate a whole chicken, washed down with beer.  He ate up to thirteen dishes every day and would consume about 5000 calories.  No wonder he looked so large and gross. Mind you he had been hunting since dawn so perhaps he was very hungry and needed a huge repast.

                                                                                 *


Gilbert White, 1793 in Hampshire, From March 14th

'Papilio rhamni, the brimstone butterfly, appears in the Holt.  Trouts rise, and catch at insects.  A dob-chick comes down the Wey in sight of the windows, some times diving, and some times running on the banks.  Timothy the tortoise comes forth and weighs 6lbs.5oz.'

From John Ruskin, 1867 in Surrey, March 19th

'Desperately cold, with huge-flaked snow. The worst of January, November and March all in one.'


                                                                                  *


Two Faces

The wicked wolf tripped
lightly onto the stage,
his ears pricked, his eyes atwinkle.
He wore  yellow waistcoat,
smart tweed breeches,
and to cheerful music, he dances
delightfully, tapping his toes
then, smoothing his whiskers
he sang in a haunting voice
a familiar love song.
And the audience loved him.

He appeared suddenly from no where
twirling his handsome brush,
with a pretty girl on his arm.
Grinning widely he made witty jokes,
energy oozed from every pore,
this wolf was Mr.Alive.
And the audience love him.

On the bus home she sat opposite a man
wearing  shabby raincoat, eyes downcast,
head bent, almost invisible,
almost without the breath of life.
But she recognised him, knew his secret.
Knew he was the wicked wolf
that the audience loved.


                                                                                 *

With best wishes, Patricia




Sunday, 7 March 2021

Bus Stop Princess






                                                                                      Pinocchio

 

Dear Reader,

Although this story is about my granddaughter, Emma, I think it will gladen your hearts when you read it.

Emma worked very hard learning graphic design at two universities, gaining a distinction at one and a first class degree at the other. However with the pandemic restrictions she had to live at home for her final year with Zoom. When she knew her grades she tried very hard to get a job using graphic design which was her subject and skill.  But to no avail.

Nothing daunted Emma applied for a job as a cleaner and occasional cook.  One day her employer, Alexia, who works in films, started talking to her, and she offered to send Emma's CV to her friend Charlotte who works in costume for a film company.

Charlotte and Emma talked on the phone and was put in touch with some possible people for a job.  On Wednesday this week one of those contacts emailed her and asked if she could start work on Monday. She is to report at Pinewood studios at 8 o'clock.  From a cleaning job to working on the set of Pinocchio is such a wonderful break for Emma.  And no nepotism.  Her family, Francis and I are very proud of her.

 

                                                                                  *


From Gilbert White, 1783, in Hampshire

'The crocuses make a gaudy appearance. and bees gather on them.  The air is soft.  Violet blow.  Snow lies under hedges.  Men plow'.

From D.H.Lawrence, 1916, Cornwall

'It is still cold.  Snow falls sometimes, then vanishes at once.  When the sun shines, some gorse bushes smell hot and sweet'.


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 smiled 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.


                                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia